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SophieCale

Oh me? I read.

Compulsive page turner and lover of peppermint butlers.

Currently reading

Moth and Spark
Anne Leonard
Progress: 175/368 pages
In The Forests of Serre
Patricia A. McKillip

Reading progress update: I've read 175 out of 368 pages.

Moth and Spark - Anne  Leonard

This couple is ridiculous. I've read Harlequins less saccharine and groan-worthy. And I'm still waiting for the female lead to become less insipid but she's challenging my expectations in the worst way.

Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 368 pages.

Moth and Spark - Anne  Leonard

There's enough here to keep me going, but godamn it takes forever to get to the point. I love me some romance, but the one in here is cold and uninspiring and just getting in the way of dragons, prophecies and imminent invasion.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - Emily Croy Barker

*sigh* what's with all the disappointing reads lately? This was more so, considering how damned long it was. Another review in the works.

Writing a dark and stormy review...

I did it.

 

I managed to finish. I only had some 30 or so pages left and I wanted to DNF. I gave myself a final push and finished Ghost Train to New Orleans.

 

I have to let it sit for a while. I'm stewing in some mild rage fuelled by sad disappointment. This is not quiet objective writing time. Let me just...

 

 

 

...sleep on it.

Reading progress update: I've read 216 out of 320 pages.

The Ghost Train to New Orleans - Mur Lafferty

If it weren't for New Orleans, I'd have stopped reading by now. 

SPOILER ALERT!

Keep Running, don't think too hard

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

The Maze Runner
James Dashner
Delacorte Press (2009)
ISBN 9780385737944

 

The Long and Short:
A very male centric dystopia with great world building, but less the impressive characters and writing style. I wasn't expecting anything too profound, so I wasn't disappointed when it scratched only two layers of skin.

 

The Long:

I could have done this in one sitting, but life interfered. I was not expecting much, and I got a very little bit more than that.

 

There were a couple of things that were quite well done, such as the amnesia angle. The terror and confusion of knowing almost nothing but your own name (only to find out later that you don't even have *that*), and the kind of oppressive feeling of living in such a fake world, knowing that you're always being observed and there's always the reliable threat of Grievers. So the world building is more than good.

 

I also liked the Maze "language" the boys have since it adds to the disorienting off kilter feel of being tossed into the maze. The strange made up terms seem to annoy a lot of my friends who've read it, but then I'm a linguistics student, so I appreciate those kinds of things.

 

The plot is simple: get out of the maze and find out what the hell is going on. That is the biggest propelling force in this book. Dashner has a flair for ending his rather short chapters with cliff-hanger/sensational statements so that you *have* to start the next one. He always has you wanting to know what happens next, even at the expense of pace and characterization. That is the biggest problem with this book; aside from Newt and Minho and even Chuck, everyone else is pretty one dimensional. Thomas is just too much of the perfect hero to really appreciate, and Teresa seems to be there merely for decoration and plot movement, which is a crying shame, as she's the only female in the book.

 

Another thing, of a very spoilery nature *you've been warned* I was incredibly upset that when we finally get a chance to experience the Change through Thomas, it all happens off page. WHAT. We're told over and over and over how awful the Change is, then we don't even get to experience it. Utterly robbed. He just gets up, none the worse for wear, wipes his hands of the mess and more or less says, "well now that's done with, lets call a meeting and let me tell you what all this maze business is about, shall I?". Yeah, was really not happy about that. It didn't help endear me to Thomas' super speshulness either. /Spoiler.

 

Other annoying things are the "not telling you things you need to know" attitude by *every*one in the book. This is where Dashner's need to keep the chapters exciting and short force the tension to be stretched out in a frustrating way. I also had a problem with Thomas and Teresa being the centre of everything. I understand them being catalysts, but Thomas seems to be the only one able to do anything right. There's so much potential in the supporting cast, but they're forced to the background to let Thomas shine in stead of being full characters in their own right. Which sucks even more since I found Thomas to be not all an interesting or sympathetic character. I may also just lack an imagination equipped with a bestiary - I couldn't for life of me figure out what the Grievers were supposed to look like, and so they ended up being much less scary than they could have been.

 

I'm happy I read it before I see the movie, and while I enjoyed it for the most part, I ain't gonna rush out and buy the sequel either. I'll get to it eventually.

 

Context Free Quote:

n/a - unfortunately, this book lacked any standout phrases or moments for me. A sign, that.

Banking a series

So today I finally got my copy of Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last monstrously huge instalment in Laini Taylor's trilogy.

 

I loved, LOVED the first book, messed up pacing/structure, cliffhanger, insta-love and all. But I didn't attack the second volume when it came out. My TBR pile is forever threatening to collapse and bury me, so it wasn't for a rainy day.


No, I decided I would wait.

 

Normally, I'm an instant gratification kind of girl, but I restrained myself. I'm less willing, these days, to parse up my reading. I like to enjoy things in one fell swoop. The more complex a story, the more I want to pay attention and keep it all fresh. I'm also the queen of re-reads. I love doing it, but I realize that it's detrimental to making any significant progress on my TBR list. So I wouldn't say refresher reads are a waste of time, but its more a matter of being an adult now and having so much less time for myself than I used to. I have less and less free time and mind space to devote to remembering all the small details of a story, and that's only going to get worse, unfortunately.

 

So I'm ridiculously happy this last one is finally out so that I can read the one that came before it.

 

 

 

Putting on my internet Face

Been taking the time this week to figure out this internet thing and my place in it. So far I've only been lurking around various social book sites and a forum here and there. Now there's the problem of my actually creating content in the forms of review and blog posts. 

 

I like to have control over what I create, so I've been making lots of efforts lately to find out just how to do that.

 

Hence my new BookLikes profile, my new-ish blog (which I will link to eventually, once I've finished wrestling with the dashboard and theme)

 

I'm horribly aware that I'm at the bottom of the learning curve, so I'll appreciate any help from those of you more experienced folks.

 

I've already found some familiar "faces", so I was quite happy to see all the new follows in my notifications.

 

I haven't given up entirely on Goodreads, but its more like an old coat that I don't quite fit anymore. I like to repurpose things, so instead of throwing it away I might just cut it up and find some other use for it. A little purse for Galley reviews or something.

 

Despite all the mental exhaustion and backaches from all this technical learning, I'm quite excited about all this.

 

So, Hello BookLikes, lets see what comes next.

 

 

 

Don't Look Down

Don't Look Down - Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer


I had fun with this one, but I have to admit that it can be described pithily by a word that is very over-used in its pages: clusterfuck.

There is ALOT going on in this book all the time. It's kinda hard to pay attention to what's happening and suspension of disbelief is very necessary to enjoy this book, much like the Die Hard movies. I just went along for the ride, which was fun once I stopped trying to make sense of it.

Aside from the abundant humour, Crusie's draw for me is her characters. Funnily enough, the character I liked best, next to René the horn-dog Cajun, was the psychotic Tyler. I like villains, especially Crusie's, but this book shortchanged its bad guys. If the craziness of the plot could have been whittled down to dealing with...well, just whittled down, I think this book might have been a little less schizophrenic.

The romance is sweet, if a bit awkward (and rushed - whole thing happens in three days). It is somewhat spoiler-ish, but it must be said that I really had a hard time with Lucie's crazy "this is forever, even if it's only been 3 days and I don't even know your first name" attitude. Maybe because the plot is so bombastically huge, the lovers don't get the time they need.

This is absolute brain candy, maybe not a Ferrero Rocher, but a Twizzler or something along those lines. A Ding Dong, maybe.

Context Free Quote:

“It’s my backup gun. You can have my primary if you want. Anything for you.”

“That’s really sweet, J.T.” Lucy looked at the gun as if it were going to bite her. “Next time, try jewelry.”


-and one more, because I loved René that much-

 

“She an actress?” LaFavre said.

“No, she’s the Angel of Death,” Wilder said.

“I’ve done one or two of those,” LaFavre said, unfazed. “Got to use the dark swamp voodoo on them.”

Playing For Keeps: A Neighbor From Hell Novel

Playing for Keeps - R.L. Mathewson This was a cute short read, something outside of what I normally would pick up. Jason is fun, but Haley doesn't come off as shy as she's supposed to be. Sometimes the characers come off as very cartoony. The beginning was a little choppy with lots of info dumps. Then the relationship - it was good, built slowly you got to really like Jason and Haley, but their fight is one of those really stupid, "if only we talked sooner" misunderstandings. IMO a cheap plot trick, so the characters ended up feeling more shallow, because they are essentially fighting over nothing just to set up sexual tension. Then of course, there's a great big whopping HEA. While it is cute, the tone is very juvenile, which gets irritating after a while.

Cry Wolf: A Novel

Cry Wolf - Tami Hoag I was told I need to read more outside of my favorite genres, so I went to the library and picked the first title that caught my eye.

THE LONG AND SHORT:
I don't read thrillers. Especially ones that are romance heavy. I was under the impression that this would be some mix of Criminal Minds + Law and Order. Instead I got something that you would find on the Lifetime network. In my opinion, that is not a good thing. In my head, Lifetime = melodramatic romance mixed with some violence for spice demonstrated by the washed up refugees of Hollywood.

THE LONG
I like southern settings, they are both familiar and exotically strange. Hoag is great at making the setting come to life, and to be honest, that was the only thing that kept me reading. While some of her characters had promise (Savannah, Jack, the Delahoussayes) I hated pretty much everyone else, ESPECIALLY Laurel. The real thriller-y part doesn't even begin until about page 300. The "perverse game" isn't much of the disturbing brain teaser it could have been either. The killer is pretty obvious once they show up and the mighty Laurel only figures it out when the killer gives themself away intentionally. There's no cat and mouse game, no matching of wits, just Laurel shaking in her boots and 'bravely not crying'. Everything before pg 300 is an incredibly over-dramatic angst fest by every character you meet. There was an over-repetition of phrases that drove me crazy and they didn't go away, even up to the very last page. Phrases like:

"If she had a brain in her head, she would walk away...."
"Jack took in the rigid set of her shoulders-so slim, so delicate, too often carrying a burden that would have crushed a lesser person."

by the 14th time I've read similar lines, I very much wanted both Laurel and Jack to be done in by the fell Killer. Something is very wrong when, as a reader, you're cheering on a serial killer.

I hear tell that her later books are much better, and this book is nearly 20 years old, so I'm striving to be fair and not write Hoag of as a terrible experiment gone wrong.

Faking It (Jennifer Crusie 2004)

Faking It - Jennifer Crusie I liked Welcome to Temptation better as a romance. As a whole, I like Fake it better. The story was nuts, it made me laugh quite a few times. I really think that Gwen and Ford need their own book. Gwen is my new hero. I actually didnt "get" Tilda as a character, or Davey for that matter. The whole art trauma didn't touch me the same way Sophie's problems did. The book was a much stronger Comedy and even Mystery than it was a romance. I did like the whole lousy sex thing. It's nice to see that addressed in a romance. A nice touch of reality.

The Storyteller's Daughter

The Storyteller's Daughter - Cameron Dokey, Mahlon F. Craft A retelling of Sherazad. I picked it up expecting something else, but it was enjoyable. Some magic, mystery and romance, it's a very solid read for a young girl. I've never read the original, but this focused much more on Sherazad's story and her life than it did on the stories she told.

Thief Lord

The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke I was not expecting the mature themes I found in the Thief Lord. I had thought to find more derring-do and adventure, and while there is some of that, the focus of this story is the not so easy life of a collection of orphans, how they carve a place in the world for themselves and how that world eventually changes. In short, this is a story about growing up and what that really means to both children and adults.

There is a lot of excitement and mystery in this novel and the story picks up and never really stops moving. Each chapter entices you to read more by showing you in detail the ophan's lives and the charming Thief Lord. Every time one riddle is solved, a new one takes its place, always backed by the one big question, "Just who is the Thief Lord?". I kept promising myself one more chapter and ended up finishing it one sitting. In all the adventure, romantic history and whimsy are some very real moments where the kids worry about starving, being slaves and getting captured. I was impressed with how the 'villains' were portrayed - as simply very flawed people and not 'bad' people. Many children have different reasons to want to "run away from home" at some time or another. Funke makes Thief Lord a kind of cautionary tale, not by being preachy, but by showing the realities of what happens when children are on their own in the world with no one to look after them. I do wish that some of the characters full histories were revealed; they weren't necessary to enjoy the story but there were quite a few teasing hints that are never followed up on. I also believe that Prosper is a saint. The amount of patience that boy has is astounding.

I know that I would have bawled my eyes out if I had read this as a kid. As it was (in my twenties) I was rather misty eyed from time to time but I also smiled often too.

Context Free Quote:
Riccio self-consciously hid his face between his soft toys. "From the Salute Church," he mumbled. "There are hundreds, probably thousands lying around there. So it doesn't really matter if I take a few every now and then. Why should we spend our precious money on candles? I swear," he grinned at Hornet, "I always blow a kiss for each one."

The Wolf Hunt

The Wolf Hunt - Gillian Bradshaw For a medieval story about betrayal, its a rather lighthearted tale. Probably because it has quite a few intelligent and genuinely goodhearted people, though it has its share of Medieval Morons also. The characters and dialogue are probably why I've read it so many times, but also the fact that Bradshaw is a wizard storyteller, a master bard of the written word. She is simply one of the best storytellers I've come across. She may not be as eloquent as Michelle West or as complex as Diana Wynne Jones, and her stories may be predictable but she makes the pages fly by and I forget that I'm even reading a book. Someone who can transport you so completely into another time and place is just genius. I'm sure it isn't just that I really enjoy the story, but the way she tells it; detailed but flowing, shifting in omniprescence with ease from character to character. I've read it possibly more than 10 times by now and each time I get caught up in Marie's surprise, Elise's hysteria and Tiher's banter. I know its all coming, I've sympathized before but its as vivid as the first time I read it. I also like that while it is a love story at its core, there's no mush or fluff. When anyone pours their heart out or declares their love its not a thing to roll your eyes at (except when she wants you to ). She's almost spartan in her lover's description, but enough to satisfy any romantic, as the final sentence in the book should prove. Its refreshing to see, for once, a female author who does not go overboard with lover's sentiments.

The Door to Lost Pages

The Door to Lost Pages - Claude Lalumière, Paul Di Filippo The Door to Lost pages is a collection of connected short stories, all written with a mix of the weird, sci-fi, bizarre, horror and fantasy genres. There are a handful of experiments with meta-fiction as well. Many of the stories left me with a kind of sharp heartache, a bittersweet hope that the fanciful dreamy parts of the novel are real and that the indications of a grim reality are the only fiction the author intended.

The book pulled me in easily. The prose is very simple and kind of alluring. I don't know if that is due to the writing style or the subject matter. Maybe both. For example:

"Aydee had to control herself so as not to scream with excitement. Here was a story she needed to read: an opportunity to learn how other people, besides Lucas, besides herself, had been affected by their contact with Lost Pages. A chance, maybe, to better understand this strange life and her place in it. She bundled herself in her reading chair, enraptured." p74

Everything about it forced me to keep reading, even when I was afraid of what I would find on the next page. All the stories are connected by an original mythos, each tale adding to your knowledge of it, slowly building another world in the background. A mythos of gods, protective beings (that include grade school boys), strange beasts, curses and spells, all kinds of magic and dimensions. The shifting sense of reality is a feature of the whole book; once you think you have a handle on the world, Lalumiere changes it with a sad twist. It is left up to you as a reader to decide which reality you believe to be real.

It isn't a difficult or long read, but neither is it light reading. I would suggest it if you want something bizarrely engaging and maybe a little raw and bittersweet.