Friday, May 31

Book Review: The Blue Castle

Title: The Blue Castle

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Pages: EBook - 248

Summary: At 29, Valancy had never been in love, and it seemed romance had passed her by. Then a letter arrived from Dr. Trent, and Valancy decided to throw caution to the winds. Soon she discovered a surprising new world, full of love and adventures.

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I couldn't get into this book, even with the majority of the theme being a women coming out and breaking some of the social constrictions, early feminism and all that. I personally found it boring with a cast of silly characters - it felt more like a poorly done satire - than anything else.

The first half of the book I slogged through - it was difficult to keep reading and there were times I nearly gave up on the book. In the middle, the book did start picking up - I appreciate what the author was trying to show with Valancy, I couldn't connect to it. The story itself wasn't the greatest, and I found all the characters lacked any sort of depth, and I didn't like the ending much at all either - like with the entire book, I felt it had a lot of plot strings, but nothing came together properly.

In the end, it wasn't the greatest of reads.

Would I recommend it to read: Hmm, I'm not sure on this one. It wasn't a good book, and while I suppose, there is some early issues of "feminism" in it, the book wasn't exactly one I'd call a good read. Although I do seem to be in the minority of this opinion, it's not one I'd recommend.

What to read next: I'd stick with the Anne of Green Gables, the author's talent seems to be better directed towards children, than adults.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Fishducky's Fables

Title: Fishducky's Fables

Author: Fran Fischer

Pages:  EBook 125

Summary: This book contains every single fairy tale, legend and nursery rhyme ever written (except for the ones Fishducky didn’t include).

Join Rapunzel, the Ugly Duckling, Snow White, Chicken Little, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty & the Beast, Robin Hood and many more beloved characters in this hilarious short story collection that will have you laughing out loud.

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book wasn't too bad, but it really wasn't cup of tea either. While there were a few stories and rhymes that made me chuckle, I found that the wasn't anything to special about any of them. Sure they were funny, and the author added an interesting twist to some of them to make them in to her own, but I found that overall, the individual stories didn't impress me much.

The writing was simple, to the point, and abrupt at times, but it worked with how the author tied her own personal twist to the stories.

Overall, it was good for a chuckle, a quick read, but not one that impressed me to much - especially compared to other satirical books in the genre.

Would I recommend it to read: It's a fast read and entertaining at times, but it wouldn't it be at the top of my list of books I'd recommend.

What to read next: I'm not sure on that one, there are a lot of books and stories taking fairytales and classics and twisting them around, so I'd say check those out.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge

I received this book from LibraryThings Early Review program in exchanged for a book review.

Thursday, May 30

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan

Pages: 288

Summary: The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I liked aspects of the book, there were parts that were interesting to me, but as a whole it was a bit of a disappointment compared to the amount of hype it's received. It was okay, but not spectacular.

I did enjoy the books eclectic characters, and the main plot was a fun read. A bit odd, but it did make it worth reading. I just found that while the plot was fun and eccentric, it seemed to lack in depth and I found that it didn't come together well. I felt like there was a big piece of the story missing to make everything come together. I also found the book went overboard in mentioning things like, "Google", it began to feel like I was reading something sponsored by the company, rather than a book. And while the character were eccentric and fun to read about at times, they weren't very concrete characters, and where rather one sided - none of them are all to memorable and they were, at times somewhat stereotypical.

The narrative and writing were fine, and overall I did enjoy the book, but it wasn't a spectacular read like I thought it would be.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it wasn't what I was expecting, but a good read, and a good choice for anyone who enjoys books about books.

What to read next: Hmm, I can't pick an actual title out, but more books about books would be a start.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Inheritors

Title: The Inheritors

Author: Jo Graham, Melissa Scott, and Amy Griswold

Pages: EBook 296

Summary: End game. The battle lines are drawn.

Queen Death is mustering her fleet. But who will stand against her? As conflicts and betrayal threaten to shatter Atlantis's fragile alliances with Guide's Wraith and the Genii, humanity's only hope of survival rests on the fate of an Ancient device - a weapon too terrible to use but too powerful to cast aside. A weapon capable of exterminating every Wraith in the galaxy, and with them every human carrying Wraith DNA.

With Queen Death's fleet fast approaching, Colonel Sheppard and his team must make their final choice. In the sixth and concluding installment of the STARGATE ATLANTIS Legacy series, the future of Atlantis will be decided - and more than one of her crew will be called upon to sacrifice everything in the fight for her survival.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was very well done, and I found myself anxiously awaiting what will happen next - and despite some of the issues I had it, it was an excellent close to the miniseries. I think the authors did a good job at collaborating on this, although there were a few times I could tell when it changed writers, the narrative and story came together wonderfully. The entire story as a whole and how it wrapped up the series, was amazing. I think the authors did a great job at tying up the story, making it a fitting ending, but leaving a lot of future possibilities for more storylines and twists, if the book series continues.

One thing I didn't like was SG-1's appearance - as much as I love them it didn't fit at all they were there, they were written out of characters, they were huge continuity issues, and how they came in the story and out just didn't work. It felt like it was an afterthought, because the book series may or may not continue. But I didn't like it, if SG-1 had been written in properly, then maybe I would have been okay with it, but I didn't like it.

Otherwise, I think with the exception of some of the shipping of characters, which I've addressed throughout the series at the hints, and the end scene with Jack and Sam, the issues I normally have with the series weren't there, or at least, as noticeable. The characterization, was for the most part, fairly spot on from what you'll see in the show, and I think as a whole, the Legacy miniseries, would fit in fairly well with the show.

All in all, great final book for the Legacy series.

Would I recommend it to read: Again, it's a book that is meant more for fans of the series, although I'd say watch the series, so you can read the books.

What to read next: The other books in the series, SG-1 or Atlantis, the entire collection is worth checking out (assuming you've watched the series the book is based off.)

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge

Book Review: Secrets

Title: Secrets

Author: Jo Graham and Melissa Scott

Pages: EBook 291

Summary: Old secrets, new truths…

It is the aftermath of battle. Scattered and struggling to regroup, Colonel Sheppard’s team face their darkest days yet in the war against the Wraith Queen, Death.

Continuing her perilous masquerade as Queen Steelflower, Teyla Emmagan’s friendship with Guide grows stronger. With his help she must journey into the Wraith’s distant past to uncover the shocking truth about their origin – and the key to Queen Death’s defeat.

Meanwhile, Rodney McKay has a different battle to fight as he struggles to regain his humanity in the face of the atrocity the Wraith have committed against him. With his life hanging in the balance, will Rodney be forced to do the unthinkable in order.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This one picks up right where the one before it left off - which worked out, except it had been a while since I read the one before it, so there were a few times I had to go and dig for what happened to keep all the plot threads straight. Although the books are part of the series, they are pretty much meant to be read back-to-back.

This particular book of the series, was one of the better ones - a lot is revealed and the authors show some different sides to the characters. They really dug down deep and it was interesting to see a different side to certain characters - although this was hinted at in the show and the other books, it was never explored, and I enjoyed it. Ronan was one of the most well done character - his never varied from the show, although I never liked him much as a character, I do appreciate the authors making sure his character remains true to what he's suppose to be. Although, one of my main issues with the book, was the scenes with Ronan, it began to feel repetitive after a while. I also had some of my usual character and continuity issues, although this one wasn't as bad as I've had in previous books - all in all this was done fairly well.

Overall, it was another good addition to the Stargate series.

Would I recommend it to read: Again, it's a book that is meant more for fans of the series, although I'd say watch the series, so you can read the books.

What to read next: Inheritors - the final book in the Legacy series.

Challenges: 100 Book Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Wednesday, May 29

Book Review: Heidi

Title: Heidi

Author: Joanne Spyri

Pages: EBook 216

Summary: A Swiss orphan is heartbroken when she must leave her beloved grandfather and their happy home in the mountains to go to school and to care for an invalid girl in the city.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I read it as a child, but have no memory of it, so I finally came back to it, and I found it to be a nice, quick sweet read.

Heidi is a fun character to read about - although she doesn't seem to realistic in how she influences others, I still enjoyed the book, and often found myself smiling at Heidi and her interactions with others. The book was a bit repetitive, but it wasn't too bad otherwise. I think most of the issues I had with the book are due to the fact it is a book meant for children, so how it reads, how the characters interact are meant for a much younger audience - although I think it is well worth reading for all ages.

The writing style was well done and it's perfect for children to read on their own, or along with their parents, it seems to have a lot to take from it, particularly from a child's point of view or, you can just read it to enjoy a nice light read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a fund sweet read. I read it as a child, and I think it would be an enjoyable read for both young and old.

What to read next: Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables any childhood book really.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge

Tuesday, May 28

Book Review: Cream Puff Murder

Title: Cream Puff Murder

Author: Joanne Fluke

Pages: 233

Summary: Bakery owner Hannah Swensen has a dress to fit into and a date with her sister, Andrea, at Lake Eden's new health club, Heavenly Bodies. Dragging herself out of bed on a frigid Minnesota morning for exercise, of all things, is bad enough. Discovering the body of man-eating bombshell Ronni Ward floating in the gym's jacuzzi? Okay, that's worse. Nor does it help that there's a plate of The Cookie Jar's very own cream puffs garnishing the murder scene.

Trying to narrow the list of Ronni's enemies down to fewer than half the town's female population, Hannah has her plate full. Trouble is, when it comes to cookies--and to murder--there's always room for one more...

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I'm surprised just how much I enjoyed the book, it was definitely better than I thought it would be. It was corny, and it wasn't a spectacular read by any stretch, but the overall story was fun quirky at times, and made for a nice read. It was fairly predictable at times, and I think that characterization was one of my biggest irks of the book. They all seemed to stereotypical and cardboard, they needed a little more substance. The story itself was done well, it wasn't a thrilling read, but it was fun to watch the main character go into detective mode.

It was a fun mystery to solve, and I loved the recopies - although they did make me hungry throughout the book and I'd likely pick up another book from the series just for the fun of it.

Would I recommend it to read: It wasn't a fantastic read, but it was a quick, quirky read, so if you're looking for something like that, than the book is worth checking out, or any book from the series.

What to read next: I'd say read some of the other books from the series.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Mystery/Crime Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Title: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky Author: Heidi Durrow

Pages: 264

Summary: Rachael, whose mother is Danish and father is African-American, loses both her parents and is forced to move to a new city to live with her strict African-American grandmother, but when she is immersed into an African-American community, her physical appearance draws attention and Rachel struggles with her own uncertainties about her identity.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I liked the book, it did address a lot of important issues, was well written, but I felt that it was missing something, to capture the book better for me. I'm not sure what it is, but I felt like there was just something extra needed to pull me into the book. I did feel for Rachel, and I was constantly wanting to read on to find out about the truth of her past, and what her future will hold. Rachel was definitely a memorable character and I think the author managed to create her, and her story beautifully. I also enjoyed the multiple perspectives throughout the story - at first I was unsure if it would work for a story like this one, but I think it helped make the story all the more powerful and important. I especially liked the clips of the journal entries from Rachel's mother.

The book covers a lot of important issues, including racial discrimination, social-economic and mental illness, which was also something the author handled beautifully, as she managed to show all these, but kept it a very character driven story, I also appreciated that the story wasn't compromised to include all of this, it was very natural, in the author included it into the plot. There's so much to focus on in the book, how Rachel and those around her faced the trails and consequences of a mental illness, how Rachel identity's herself, versus how others identify her as.

In the end, I did like the book, but there's still that one thing, that I felt was missing from it, to make it extraordinary. 

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I think there's a lot to take from the book, so there's a lot of different readers out there who would enjoy the book.

What to read next: I'm not entirely sure on that one, I'm currently reading Twelve Tribes of Hattie, and they have some similar themes in it, but I'm at a bit of a loss on this one.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge, New Authors Challenge

Sunday, May 12

April 2013 - Wrap Up!

April is gone, May is almost half way through - where is the time going? This month wasn't my best of reading months. I didn't read a lot of good books and I've been having trouble find something to really grab me. I really hope May is a better month for the quality of books.

The Books

This month, I seemed to be in a bit of a reading rut. There wasn't anything that grabbed my attention or impressed me. Most of what I read was average or worse. A couple of books shone through, but most didn't. To make things worse, because of this little rut I seem to be in, I've been finding it difficult to pick my next read - slightly unsure exactly what it will take to get me back on track. My favourite books this month were Winter Well and River of Stars. My least favourite was Tales From Firozsha Baag.

1. River of Stars - Guy Gavriel Kay (Review Book) - 7.75/10
2. The Other Sister - Lola Lemire Tostevin - 4/10
3. Four Dragons - Diana Dru Botsford - 7/10
4. Tales From Firozsha Baag - Rohinton Minstry - 3/10
5. King Leary - Paul Quarrington - 4/10
6. Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women - Various (Review Book) - 8.25/10
7. The Perfect Circle - Pascale Quiviger - 4/10
8. Gold Mountain Blues - Ling Zhang - 5.5/10
9. Quentins - Maeve Binchy - 6.75/10
10. Forgotten Country - Catherine Chung - 7.25/10
11. The Black Cloister - Melanie Dobson - 6.5/10

The Challenges

I'm still fairly happy with my progress on the challenges. I do need to focus more on certain categories in the category challenge - or I'll be in some trouble at the end of the year. The same goes with the Series Challenge. Otherwise, everything is right on track.

1. 100 Books in 2013 Challenge - 43/100 -43%
2. 2013 Category Challenge - 40/131 - 30%
3. 777 Challenge - 3/7 - 43%
4. Alphabet Challenge 2013 - 25/52 - 48%
5. E-Book Challenge 2013 - 20/50 - 40%
6. Finish That Series Challenge 2013 - 0/4 (Series), 1/7 (Books) - 0%
7. Ireland Reading Challenge 2013 - 4/10 - 40%
8. Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge - 3/12 - 25%
9. Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2013 - 23/75 - 31%
10. Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge 2013 - 3/5 - 60%
11. New Author Challenge 2013 - 27/50 - 54%
12. Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge 2013 - 1/5 - 20%
13. War Through the Generations Challenge 2013 (American Revolutionary War) - 1/3 - 33%
14. 50 Book Pledge - 43/100 - 43%

Countries Visited

This month on my reading adventures, I visited. Germany, North Korea, India, China, Canada, Ireland

Create your own travel map - TravBuddy

Books That Followed Me Home

The Odds: A Love Story - Peter O'Nan
The River - Cheryl Kay Tardif
Beautiful Days: Two Novellas - Teng Xiaolan
Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women (Anthology)

Have a Happy May!