Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although it took me a little while to finally pick up this book, boy, am I glad that I did. I must admit part of me was a little hesitant because, being a fanatical HP fan, I as worried about foraying into Rowling terriorty that was not Hogwarts. Granted that is probably why she used a pseudonym for this book, but still.

I digress. I thoroughly enjoyed this murder mystery. Not being a huge mystery reader, this book has made me rethink that path. I enjoyed every minute of trying to solve the "whodunit" from beginning to end. The only criticism I have is that I didn't ever really feel like I had any shot of solving the mystery. While I enjoyed how it kept me guessing, enticing me to "just one more chapter" before bedtime, I would have also liked to feel like I was connecting some dots somewhere along the plot line. When all was revealed at the end, some of the evidence/deductions made by our "Sherlock" Coroman Strike felt a bit far fetched to me (or perhaps I am just not cut out for detective work).

Nevertheless, I mark this as a "must read". Well done Rowling!

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Hush, Hush Saga Review (read in 2012)

So it has been quite some time since my last entry (which is actally related to this post because it was the review of the 1st book in the series), but i wanted to take this time to reflect on an awesome series I finished in 2013.  The Hush, Hush Saga written by Becca Fitzpatrick creates a whirlwind romance that will keep you turning the page until you've finished all 4 books.  It's like the Twilight series 2.0.  From the beginning you will fall in love with Patch and Nora. A hot, bad-boy, fallen angel, a forbidden romance, a looming epic battle between fallen angels and nephilim? 'Nuff said. Go get these books now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Don't Hush, Hush, Shout it out!

Hush, HushHush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick was hands down the best YA Book 1 I have read since the Hunger Games.  To top it off, it is also the best YA-paranormal romance book I have read to-date.  Granted, I haven't read many...actually I have only read about 4--the Twilight Saga.  Quite frankly, not much needs to happen in order for any book to beat out the Twilight Saga, but Hush, Hush did it with style.  

Hush, Hush kept me on the edge of my seat as I witnessed the complex, whirlwind romance bloom between Nora Grey and her newly assigned BIO partner Patch Cipriano, who is handsome, mysterious, and obviously hiding something. Now you may be saying to yourself, "Why that sounds awfully familiar" (cue Twilight-gagging sound effects). Honestly, I was suspect of the book at that point as well, but I blazed forward (mostly because it was a holiday weekend, and I didn't have anything else to read), and, by george, I am glad I did! Nora and Patch's love-hate-love relationship bloomed with a much more deep-seeded and dark root than I anticipated.  Nora and Patch's relationship moves past the out-of-no-where-yea-right love story of Bella and Edward, and settles into a place where it is given the opportunity to develop and unfold. While I do have a bone to pick with how the book's ending, all-in-all I LOVED it (which may be evident by the fact that I finished its 400+ pages in about 2.5 days).

In a nut shell Hush, Hush= Fallen angels, murder, sacrifice=MUST READ

Go pick it up and start reading...I am moving onto Book 2 Crescendo.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The circus arrives without warning…”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a poetic story about Le Cirque des Rêves—the circus of dreams, which serves as a venue for a competition between two talented magicians. Celia and Marco were trained since childhood for this competition, mastering the magical arts. They are pitted against each other to try to “outwit, outlast, and outplay” each other by creating more and more unbelievable and fantastical tents for the Circus. During the course of their competition, the two fall in love, but unbeknownst to them the competition rules stipulate that only one winner can survive.

Paralleling this story is a story of a boy named Bailey, an ordinary New Englander who loves the circus but is destined to become an integral part of its survival.

Now you may be saying to yourself, “Wow, that summary was rather sparse and dry,” and honestly, the reason for that is because the story itself is incredibly difficult to describe due to its plot, structure and pace. Now you also may be asking yourself, “But the book jacket summary is so much more exciting so what’s with the bland description?” The answer: The book jacket summary is VERY misleading in the description of the storyline and the mood the story evokes for its reader. While the official description paints a plot picture of a circus that has an exciting magical duel that is raging behind the scenes, mixed with a star-crossed lover sub-plot, this is far from the truth. The duel is much more a battle of wits than an action-packed, final magical showdown of Harry Potter and Voldemort; and the love story develops unconventionally (Marco and Celia have some type of supernatural connection to each other which was a little too cerebral for my liking) and ends in a convenient way. In addition, the other main sub-plot of a coming of age story for a small town boy is completely overlooked in the book jacket description, and honestly, I felt it didn’t really contribute to the story in an interesting way (perhaps I missed something, hmmmm…).

Another question you may be asking yourself is "Why in the world did you give this book 5 stars if your above description is riddled with negative remarks?" The answer is simple: While I felt overall the plot was slow and a little to metaphysical, Morgenstern's writing style transcended me to a place of of dreams and wonder. Her little vignettes in which the reader becomes an active character in exploring the circus was masterfully executed. Her language immerses the reader in the world of Le Cirque des Rêves--You may never want to leave it.

Unfortunately, as a result of the misleading book jacket description, The Night Circus seems to have rigidly divided its readers into a “loved it” or “hated it” camp. Readers expecting a much more fight-to-the-death action plot will suffer a rude awakening when they experience a more metaphysical mood and poetic tone. Now if you are a reader who can accept and appreciate a novel that relishes in description and contemplates themes such as illusion and magic, fate, and the repercussions of the choices we make, you will love this book. The Night Circus will transport you to the circus of dreams and push you eagerly along as you explore every extraordinary and enchanting circus tent. One note of warning—the end will be disappointing!

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Review Gone Hollywood: Hunger Games

It was April 7, 2012. The place was the Regal Cinema in Warrington, Pennsylvania. My primary objective was to finally see the long awaited, overly-hyped Hunger Games movie. As I entered the ticket line, I could feel my heart racing as I moved each step closer to seeing the world of Panem come to life on the big screen. The anticipation continued to grow to an unbearable size through the snack line and during the search for prime real estate seating in the designated Theater Screen #10. As the lights began to lower, I had to muffle a delighted squeal. Although some of the coming attractions were quite interesting and entertaining (Snow White and the Huntsman--MUST SEE for the Summer!), I couldn't help but eagerly count down until their ending. And then it happened...

After a moment of utter darkness and silence, the screen came to life with the scenes that I had been pining over for months. And then 142 minutes later, my world came crashing down. That is what I had been waiting for? Really? The disappointment sank in.

While I think the film could be characterized as relatively decent, it definitely did not blow my mind as I had hoped for. My overall rating is 2.75 stars out of 5. Let me break down some of my major criticisms:

I felt the majority of the dialogue was unnatural and awkward. Honestly, I was not particularly impressed with Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss. I think I read somewhere that her audition reading was for the scene where she volunteers as Tribute in place of her 12-year-old sister Primrose and that her performance was so moving they knew she had to be the "Girl on Fire". Uhhhh, really? I was waiting for that scene to be heart-wrenching and goose-bump triggering, but in the end it just came off as awkward.

In fact, the entire movie felt jerky and stilted. I didn't feel like there was a smooth flow between scenes. Story lines felt underdeveloped and character development felt completely ignored. While I did shed a tear at Rue's ultimate demise, it was nowhere near the sob session I had while reading the book. In the book the reader can see and understand the friendship that developed between Rue and Katniss. You understand Katniss's despair and her final loving tribute to her dead friend. In the book that was completely lacking. While I understand that in novels it is often easier for authors to affect their readers because they can infiltrate the hearts and souls of the characters through their narration and that it is more of a challenge for filmmakers and actors to naturally make these innermost feeling palpable on screen, it seemed like they didn't even try. Each scene just felt like it was rushed to continue onto the next. Come on, this was a movie about a cut-throat-fight-to-the-death-only-one-can-survive game and there was no suspense, no action, no nothing!

I must say the only amazing thing to come out of this movie is the soundtrack (yay Taylor Swift!).

I guess some things are best left in the literary world...I must now escape into a re-reading of the book to attempt to wash out the sour taste the movie left in my mouth...


Friday, March 23, 2012

Clockwork....Awesome! (Infernal Devices Book #2)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book took me longer to finish than I anticipated, it was not for lack of a good plot or developed simply was a lack of being able to keep up with my reading routine. In fact, Clockwork Prince, the second book in the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, was anything but disappointing. I fell a little more in love with Charlotte, Henry, Jessamine , Will, and Jem. While I still wish Tessa was a little more badass, I respect her as a relatively strong female character and am eagerly anticipating to find out more about who (and what) she is.

Major kudos to Clare on her amazing ability to handle a love triangle. I must say, I am usually not a fan of the love triangle trend that seems to have taken hold in many of my beloved YA series since I often fall stubbornly on one side or the other (note: "Team Gale", "Team Edward", Team Xander"); however, in this book, I can honestly say my heart is broken into two with Jem and Will each owning a piece.

Bring on book 3!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Crossed (Lukewarm feelings...)

Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed by Ally Condie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All in all, I was satisfied with Book 2. I felt Condie did a relatively good job at keeping me interested in what is going to happen to these characters that she has introduced to me. I am invested now and must know how their stories will end. Condie's narrative strategy of switching back and forth between Cassia and Ky's points of view, I think, kept the story fresh and engaging.

My only disappointment with this series continues to be the main love story. I still feel that Condie really hasn't given me enough to understand or even really believe in the love Cassia has for Ky. Throughout the entire 2 books all I keep thinking is "Really? Ky? Why? Xander is so cute and wonderful and you've been his best friend for AGES!" It feels to me that Cassia's attraction to Ky is really only fueled by the fact that it is taboo and forbidden. When Ky was introduced in Book 1 as the "wrong" face on the microcard, my only reaction was "Who is this kid? Where did he come from? And has Cassia ever had a substantial interaction with him other than that time at the pool (which, let's face it, was barely an interaction)?" Honestly, this love story just isn't enough for me to believe in and it definitely doesn't seem enough to be worth many of the risks Cassia takes throughout Book 1 and Book 2. Perhaps I am missing something...Am I too old to understand a 17-year old's perception of love?

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