Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

This was definitely a return to form for Veronica Roth after the disappointment of Allegiant. The story takes a few chapters to really sink in, since we are invited into a galaxy in which people develop gifts from the Current, a stream of energy that seems to travel along the galaxy and wrap itself around the several inhabited planets. The different planets, nations, people, and objects took a bit to fully understand, and I listened to an audio book, which sometimes hinders the process of understanding new world-building. Nevertheless, the story was very well done. It was original, and since I read so much, I highly value unique stories. I know I enjoyed the story, because at times I didn't want to get out of my car or shut my car's engine because I was so engrossed with what was going on.

The crux of the story is that in this galaxy where people develop Current gifts, one planet is divided between two peoples, the peaceful Thuvhe and the warrior race, the Shotet. When some Shotet soldiers kidnap the two sons of the Oracle of Thuvhe, the sons have to figure out a way to escape or else succumb to their fate, to die in the service of Shotet's ruling family, the Noaveks. Meanwhile, Cyra Noavek, the younger sister of the ruler of Shotet, is plagued by constant pain, a "gift" of the Current. Her older brother uses her as a weapon against his enemies and she's sick of it. Together with one of the sons of the Oracle, she might figure out a way to break away from her brother, Ryzek.
For those who enjoyed Red Rising, the Hunger Games, and the Divergent series, I highly recommend. Like those books, there's quite a lot of violence, but no worse than those books.

For my reading challenges I used this book to fulfill the following categories:

2017 Audiobook Challenge: No Category
2017 Full House Reading Challenge: Published in 2017
2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge: Set in Space
2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge: An Audiobook

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

It wasn't helpful that I just finished an amazing book that dealt with nearly the same theme, the big "What If?" in life. What if I had gone to college at the age of 18 instead of waiting until I was 27? What if I didn't waste my time mooning over this one guy for years and instead been open to another guy who had a thing for me? What if? What if? What if? After the thrill ride that was Dark Matter, reading The Bookseller so soon made the whole thing a bit boring.

The Bookseller, which tells you just about nothing in terms of the overall plot of the book, is about a woman named Kitty Miller who runs a book store in 1962 Denver with her best friend. She is 38 years old, single, and content with her life. However, she wakes up to find herself living in the outskirts of Denver, a 38 year old wife and mother who is estranged from her best friend and has no bookstore. Which reality is real? Which reality does Kitty prefer?

The science fiction lover in me was expecting the story to be resolved in one way, but it was resolved in a completely different way, so I am partially pleased to be surprised, but I felt the ending was still a little ho-hum. Kitty's personality seemed non-existent. Her friend, Frieda, was completely self-absorbed and ridiculous. The husband in the alternate reality was way too perfect. I didn't get through this book nearly as quickly as I had planned, and in fact, ended up reading two books in between. I was going to give the book 2 Stars for being so boring, but since the ending was a bit more interesting, I brought it up to 3 Stars.

Used for 2017 Full House Reading Challenge - Category: Debut Book

And for 2017 #ReadHarder Challenge - Category #2 - Read a debut novel

And for 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge - Category #29 - Unreliable Narrator

Saturday, February 4, 2017

January 2017 Reading in Review

I know it's a few days late, but I wanted to wrap up what I read this month.

Books I Read

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager by H.G. Bissinger
Kindred by Octavia Butler
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1 by Grant Morrison

So, six books altogether. A bit of a slow start to the year for me, but I think I'm going to have a much bigger February despite its shorter span.

Best Book in January

Books I Started But Couldn't Bring Myself to Finish

2017 Read Harder Challenge Categories Finished

Category #1: Read a Book About SportsCateogory #14: Read a Book About WarCategory #17: Read a Classic By An Author of Color
Category #18: Read a Superhero Comic with a Female Lead

2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge Categories Finished

Category #3: A Book of Letters
Category #15: A Book with a Sub-Title
Category #21: A Book From a Non-Human Perspective
Category #31: A Book Where the Main Character is a Different Ethnicity Than You
Advanced Category #2: Bestseller from 2016

2017 Full House Reading Challenge Categories Finished

1. Non-Fiction
2. Page Turner
3. Food on Cover or in Title
4. Diversity
5. Two Worded Title

2017 Audio Books Challenge Finished - 5

Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Like many others, I wasn't as interested in reading Carrie Fisher's book until she passed at the end of December. Since I am always interested in reading diaries (one of my favorite books is The Reagan Diaries), I thought this must be of interest. Before the book came out in October, I remember being less than impressed with Carrie Fisher revealing her affair with Harrison Ford (then married to his first wife) while they were on the set of Star Wars. I thought it was tacky and tasteless for her to do so while both Harrison Ford and his first wife were still living. It turns out, that if she had not revealed the affair in this book, the secret would have likely died with her.

The book is a bit weird. I've never read Carrie Fisher's writings before, and so I was unfamiliar with her style. It was very stream-of-conscious, which I have enjoyed in novels like The Road and Blindness but found confusing in what was supposed to be autobiographical. Also, there were times it seems Ms. Fisher was an unreliable narrator, acting like she couldn't quite remember how certain conversations go but speculating on them nevertheless. It turns out only about 60 pages of the 250 page book were her writings from the time the first Star Wars movie was in production. The rest is just lead up and aftermath. Obviously, there are times when Ms. Fisher mentions how she wants to be remembered when she dies, the effects of getting old, getting things on paper before she dies, but of course write as someone who had no idea how quickly death was coming for her. At the end, in her acknowledgements, she tells her mom how happy that she is still around and chastises her for an apparent recent health scare. She was never to know that her mom would pass the very next day after Carrie died. An interesting book for those who are interested in the making of Star Wars and want to read something juicy about beloved movie stars. I was less than impressed with her affair, and more interested in how she was doing in those last few years before she died.

This book fulfills the Full House Reading Challenge Category: Borrowed (From the Library)