dooliterature

The Spirit Eater (The Legend of Eli Monpress)

The Spirit Eater - Rachel Aaron Like many of the reviews for this book have already stated, this book is an improvement over the last two in the series. We have more characterization, more details about the world Eli lives in, and a deeper, darker plot. Eli stepped out of the spotlight for a bit, and we got to learn a little more about Nico and Josef, demons, the League of Storms, and Benehime. I can't wait to see how this all comes together in the next installment.

Hopefully more interaction between Miranda and Eli. I love those two together.

Anyway, on to [b:The Spirit War|10834868|The Spirit War (The Legend of Eli Monpress, #4)|Rachel Aaron|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1330089634s/10834868.jpg|15748974].

H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden

H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education - Mark Walden

Pages: 309.

Genre: YA Science Fiction/Adventure.

First Sentence: "Otto woke with a start as the whole world seemed to tip beneath him."

 

Summary: Otto is an extremely conniving 13-year-old boy with a photographic memory. After pulling a rather public stunt that embarrasses a very powerful man, he is recruited to H.I.V.E., the Higher Institute of Villainous Education. At H.I.V.E., Otto and his fellow classmates learn how to become Evil, taking classes about world domination and doomsday devices. But after a while, Otto comes to realize that the school is more like a prison, and he decides that he and his friends need to escape.

 

Review: What's not to like about Evil? I have personally always been a fan of the "dark side." I love Draco Malfoy, Cersei Lannister, and Loki. The bad guys are always so much more interesting than the good guys, in my opinion. So of course I was very excited to read this book. 

 

The plot is great. Otto and his friends are invited to attend H.I.V.E. for six years, learning how to dominate the world. But instead of being thrilled at the opportunity, Otto and his friends decide that they want to escape from the school and return to their previous lives. Don't get me wrong - they're all about Evil, and they're very good at what they do. They just don't like being told what to do. (Fight the man, man.) So yes, it was fast paced and fun. And very clever, with all the references to Evil-doing. I very much enjoyed reading about their classes and homework. Walden included a lot of the standard villain tropes, which I enjoyed picking out.

 

What I did not find so great was the writing. This is the author's debut novel, and it really shows in my opinion. Some of the characters were very one-dimensional and stereotypical (like the fat Germany boy who said "Ja" all the freaking time). The book also jumped around to different points of view a lot. It would be one thing if every big break or chapter was about a different character, but I would often get different characters' perspectives within a paragraph or two of each other. It was a very jarring experience.

 

Overall, though, I found it to be just a fun read. While the book ended on a rather cliched cliffhanger, I will probably still read the rest of the series. 

 

tl;dr: Kids go to Evil School, but then want to leave. Fun read, amateur writing.

 

Rating: 3.5/5. 

Game of Thrones/Lion King mash-up

Haha, this is fantastic. I love the look on Tyrion's face. It's perfect.

"I shall also introduce you to H.I.V.E.mind, whom you will come to rely on, as we all will, over the coming years."
H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education - Mark Walden

- H.I.V.E., Mark Walden

 

I lol'd. Unfortunately, I'm not 100% sold on the book, yet. Hoping things start to pick up here soon. 

H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education

H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education - Mark Walden What's not to like about Evil? I have personally always been a fan of the "dark side." I love Draco Malfoy, Cersei Lannister, and Loki. The bad guys are always so much more interesting than the good guys, in my opinion. So of course I was very excited to read this book.

The plot is great. Otto and his friends are invited to attend H.I.V.E. for six years, learning how to dominate the world. But instead of being thrilled at the opportunity, Otto and his friends decide that they want to escape from the school and return to their previous lives. Don't get me wrong - they're all about Evil, and they're very good at what they do. They just don't like being told what to do. (Fight the man, man.) So yes, it was fast paced and fun. And very clever, with all the references to Evil-doing. I very much enjoyed reading about their classes and homework. Walden included a lot of the standard villain tropes, which I enjoyed picking out.

What I did not find so great was the writing. This is the author's debut novel, and it really shows in my opinion. Some of the characters were very one-dimensional and stereotypical (like the fat Germany boy who said "Ja" all the freaking time). The book also jumped around to different points of view a lot. It would be one thing if every big break or chapter was about a different character, but I would often get different characters' perspectives within a paragraph or two of each other. It was a very jarring experience.

Overall, though, I found it to be just a fun read. While the book ended on a rather cliched cliffhanger, I will probably still read the rest of the series.

The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

The Golem's Eye - Jonathan Stroud

Pages: 562.

Genre: YA Fantasy.

First Sentence: "At dusk, the enemy lit their campfires one by one, in greater profusion than on any night before." 

 

Summary: It has been a few years since Nathaniel and Bartimaeus last met, and since then, Nathaniel has made a name for himself in the British government. He has been tasked with putting a stop to the Resistance, a rebel group that has been embarrassing the government with their raids and attacks on the magicians. Although Nathaniel had promised Bartimaeus he would never summon the djinni again, Nathaniel finds himself in need of a competent demon in a hurry, and the only one that comes to mind is Bartimaeus.

 

Review: While I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye did not live up to my expectations. Nathaniel is 14, and is going through an awkward stage in his life. This teenage angst combined with the fact that he has lost sight of his morals while moving up in the government made him a rather annoying character to read. While the chapters that were told from his point of view were interesting, that was more due to what was happening to Nathaniel, as opposed to how he reacted to the events.

 

I was also hoping for more camaraderie between the characters. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus bicker quite a bit, just as in the last book, but they didn't exhibit a lot of team work while trying to bring down the Resistance. The one character interaction I was interested in (Kitty and Bartimaeus) was too brief and located at the end of the book. The relationship those characters had was what I wanted to see between Nathaniel and Bartimaeus. 

 

Some people will probably say, yes, Anna, that's the point of this novel, and perhaps the third one will be about them all coming together and growing up and sticking to their ideals. Well, whatever. It was too much of a drag for me, personally, which is a shame because I thought the first book was pretty fab.

 

The plot was great, but dragged on a bit at the beginning. Altogether, not a terrible book, but definitely a let down. 

 

tl;dr: Magicians, demons, a rebellion, and angst. 

 

Rating: 3/5. 

hai guize

Just a test post until I figure out how this whole thang works.

The Golem's Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2)

The Golem's Eye - Jonathan Stroud While I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye did not live up to my expectations. Nathaniel is 14, and is going through an awkward stage in his life. This teenage angst combined with the fact that he has lost sight of his morals while moving up in the government made him a rather annoying character to read. While the chapters that were told from his point of view were interesting, that was more due to what was happening to Nathaniel, as opposed to how he reacted to the events.

I was also hoping for more camaraderie between the characters. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus bicker quite a bit, just as in the last book, but they didn't exhibit a lot of team work while trying to bring down the Resistance. The one character interaction I was interested in (Kitty and Bartimaeus) was too brief and located at the end of the book. The relationship those characters had was what I wanted to see between Nathaniel and Bartimaeus.

Some people will probably say, yes, Anna, that's the point of this novel, and perhaps the third one will be about them all coming together and growing up and sticking to their ideals. Well, whatever. It was too much of a drag for me, personally, which is a shame because I thought the first book was pretty fab.

The plot was great, but dragged on a bit at the beginning. Altogether, not a terrible book, but definitely a let down.

Girls in Trucks

Girls in Trucks - Katie Crouch This book wasn't what I was expecting at all. I was looking for something fun and lighthearted, and this book was not that. And I might have been fine for that, except the author kept hitting the main character with one bad situation after another, with no real resolution.

I found I was much more interested in the details the author glossed over, such as Eloise's college boyfriend and Charlotte's drug addiction. Instead, I was given a self-absorbed character who never really grows out of that stage.

Disappointing. :/

Days of Blood & Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor My thoughts on this book can be summarized quite simply:



HOW CAN I POSSIBLY WAIT UNTIL 2014 FOR THE NEXT ONE???!

In all seriousness, Laini Taylor has such a beautiful writing style and has created such a interesting world that there was no way I was putting down the book once I started it.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and omg, the FEELS of this book.



This second installment was definitely a lot darker than the first book, and definitely in a good way. Every time I thought something good was finally going to happen, Taylor took all my hopes and dashed them against the rocks over and over again. The suspense of it all was almost too much. These poor characters. I love Akiva and Karou so much.

UGGGH 2014. WHYYYY.

I Hate Everything

I Hate Everything - Matthew DiBenedetti I Hate Everything is an amusing little book full of the everyday things that the author hates. It does get a little repetitive if you read it all in one sitting, so I would try to read it in small chunks. Definitely a good coffee table book. There's something in it that everyone can relate to, and would help break the ice during awkward dinner parties. :)

Whale Season

Whale Season - N.M. Kelby So, a lot of people are comparing N.M. Kelby to Carl Hiaasen. I’ve never read anything by Hiaasen, so to me, this book didn’t really seem like a cheap imitation of anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed Whale Season. I thought the characters and setting were all original and captivating to read about. And although the plot seemed to be a little out there at times, I found that it was unrealistic in the way that the “Weird News” section of your local newspaper is also rather unrealistic.

Some have also complained about the length of the book as well, but I thought it was just fine. A quick read during the busy holiday season is fine by me. In fact, I wouldn’t mind reading more about the characters and what their lives were like after the events of Whale Season. Which is not to say that the novel ended abruptly or anything; I just found myself very attached to all of the characters.

I’m looking forward to reading more of N.M. Kelby’s work!
SPOILER ALERT!

My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier This review can also be found on my blog.

I love Daphne du Maurier, I really do. Rebecca is probably my favorite book of all time. Her short stories are fantastic – I could read them over and over and over. So why, why, why could I not love My Cousin Rachel? It was just OK. And it really pains me to say that. I had set the book up in my mind to be as mind-blowingly awesome as Rebecca. And for a while there, I thought that was what I was getting. Right off the bat, the writing is beautiful, and it gives me chills. Du Maurier sets the book up to be just as eerie as I could have hoped for. But, listen. After about 90 pages, Phillip Ashley (you know, that main character guy?) annoyed the bejeezus out of me.

My Cousin Rachel centers around Phillip Ashley, a young man was orphaned at a young age and raised by his uncle, Ambrose. One winter, Ambrose runs off to Italy and meets a woman, Rachel. They fall in love and get married. Then Phillip starts getting some really weird letters from his uncle, talking about how he thinks Rachel might be killing him and that he can trust no one. Then Ambrose dies and Phillip swears to get revenge. Then Rachel comes to England to visit Phillip. Phillip almost immediately forgets about his plans for revenge and falls in love with Rachel. Then, on his 25th birthday, he hands the estate over to Rachel, completely ignoring every good bit of advice he had been given concerning Rachel and his money. And then all of a sudden, Phillip starts to come down with the same strange sickness that eventually killed Ambrose. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

As I said before, I really wanted to like this book. And for a while I did. The beginning was great. I was all for Phillip getting revenge on Rachel. Yes! Kill her! Kill her dead! But then Phillip actually met Rachel, and all of the bad feelings dissipated instantly. For page upon page of the novel, they live happily together, building the perfect garden, repairing the house, visiting all of the people that live on their estate, hosting Christmas parties. Where was the action? The suspense? I fully understand that the point of the story is that Phillip is blinded by his infatuation with Rachel, which ultimately ends in much sadness. But I could barely read My Cousin Rachel without wanting to violently shake Phillip and then throw the book across the room.

Not only was I frustrated by Phillip, I was also expecting the book to be just as creepy and eerie as Rebecca is. However, as I mentioned above, a lot of the book was kind of boring because everything seemed to be going fine. There was no dead wife that haunted their estate (Uncle Ambrose definitely doesn’t count). There was no overly critical housekeeper trying to convince anyone to kill themselves. If I wasn’t putting the book down because of Phillip’s idiocy, it was because there didn’t seem to be much of anything happening. I read this for the R.I.P. VI challenge, and I was expecting it to be much more suspenseful all the way through.

But of course, My Cousin Rachel was still written by Daphne du Maurier, and the writing is still fantastic. Each description is so vivid. The words themselves were so fun to read, and there were even times when I had to go back and read a passage aloud because it was so awesome. Here is a great example from the novel, in which Phillip describes first seeing Rachel after a hard day of wandering around his estate (that’s all he ever seems to do):

“A new softness came to her by candelight that was not with her in the day. It was as if the brightness of morning and the duller shades of afternoon were given up to purposes of work, of practicality, making a briskness of movement that was definite and cool; and now with evening closed in, the shutters fastened, the weather banished, and the house withdrawn into itself, she shone with a radiance that had lain concealed about her person until now. There was more colour to her cheeks and to her hair, great depth to her eyes, and whether she turned her head to speak, or moved to the bookcase to pick up a volume, or bent to pat Don as he lay stretched out before the fire, there was an easy grace in all she did which gave to every movement fascination. I wondered in these moments how I could ever have thought her unremarkable.” (186)

I just love how we can feel Phillip’s admiration for Rachel in this passage. And not once did du Maurier have to spell out what Rachel looked like. Instead, we are just given a description of how someone could be beautiful, and not why. She’s not blonde, she’s not thin, she doesn’t have a heaving bosom. Rachel could be any woman.

Unfortunately, the writing was not enough to make me fall in love with this book. So, I’m sorry, My Cousin Rachel. But you really disappointed me.

tl;dr: The actual creepy parts were too few and far between for me to feel truly haunted by this book. Also, Phillip is an idiot.

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1)

The Gathering - Kelley Armstrong This review can also be found on my blog.

If there is one thing that I will always love about Kelley Armstrong’s characters, it’s that she can write one kick-ass female lead. I first fell in love with Elena and Paige in her Women of the Underworld series, and in The Gathering, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Maya and her friends. This is no wishy-washy, wait-around-for-the-boy-to-love-me kind of female characters. Maya is smart and independent. She don’t need no man to make her happy, and for that I love her, because it’s not something you see all to often in YA of this nature.

The Gathering centers around Maya, a 16-year-old living in a very small town (population: 200) on Vancouver Island. The town is so small because it’s populated entirely by employees of a medical research company and their families. Maya has always had a strong affinity towards nature, able to heal and and release injured wild animals. Cougars, in particular, have always taken a strong liking to her. It’s only when Maya starts getting close to the new kid, Rafe, and his sister Annie, that she realizes that there might be more to her talents than meets the eye.

There were a lot of things I really adored about this book, other than just the main character. I really liked how the story took place in a small medical-research community (called Salmon Creek), and how that added an eerie note to the entire novel (it reminded me a little bit of the Umbrella Corporation). A lot of the story takes place in the forests surrounding the town, and even though I am definitely not an outdoorsy person, I don’t think I’d mind taking a stroll around Maya’s neck of the woods.

I also really enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t a book about werewolves or vampires or any other the other supernatural beings that are typically featured in YA paranormal fantasy. Though we aren’t given a lot of details about Maya’s powers, they are definitely something that I want to read more about! It’s exciting because with a new sort of supernatural being, it’ll be interesting to see where Armstrong goes with the different abilities and weaknesses, etc.

It was a little bit frustrating because this book ends on quite the cliff-hanger. This book seemed like it was just a set-up for the rest of the trilogy, and there wasn’t too much action or a huge climax at the end or anything. It’s more of a way to ease the reader into Maya’s world, and that might be a little boring for some. I was hooked, though. I can’t wait until April for the next one to come out.

Also, apparently, there is another trilogy that Armstrong wrote before this one that takes place in the same universe, so things might make more sense if you read that one first. I’m definitely going to order them from the library.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee - Sarah Silverman This review can also be found on my blog.

I don’t usually read a lot of memoirs or biographies, because reading about the exciting REAL lives that other people have lead isn’t really my cup of tea. Most of the time it just serves to remind me how mediocre my life has been thus far. I picked up this copy of The Bedwetter from the library because I’ve always been a fan of Sarah Silverman’s stand-up, and I thought it would be a hilarious read, much like Chelsea Handler’s books (which I adore).

The first half of this book is great. It details Sarah’s life as a young Jew, focusing primarily on how she wet the bed until she was in high school and how that affected her life as a comedian. It’s riddled with all sorts of lovely anecdotes about what it was like growing up as a child with a seriously embarrassing nighttime habit. Take, for example, Sarah’s fear of summer camp:

“And so, from six years old on, I was sent to sleepaway camp every summer. If you recall from several pages ago the terror I experienced in just one sleepover — now multiply that into a month’s worth of nights.
It’s not like my parents didn’t consider that — they gave my counselors special instructions to walk me to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And let me tell you, the thought of a sixteen-year-old kid knowing my problem was oh so comforting. Summer camp — salvation to both my mom and dad — was, for me, a camp-fiery hell. My teeth were bigger than my face, I was coated in hair, and I smelled like pee. Of course, most events in life are about context. Had my parents instead sent me to live in the Baboon Reserve at the Bronx Zoo, I would have been happy and confident, judging the others for flinging poo, and feeling downright aristocratic.” (25)

However, its’s the second half of the book, where Sarah describes her transition from awkward youth to famous comedian where the book lost me. Instead of talking about the events in her life in a nice, linear manner, Sarah starts to jump around in her writing. It was hard for me to keep track of what year we were in, since there weren’t many mentions of it. A lot of the sections of the book devolved into telling funny stories about experiences she’s had with her friends more than about her life. It was disappointing for me, because I found myself really enjoying the first part of the book, and then torn between finishing the book or just turning it back into the library without getting to the end.

While it’s true that most of the situations Sarah chooses to write about in The Bedwetter are very entertaining, I wanted more information about her personal life than about all the penis jokes she and her fellow writers tell during the production of The Sarah Silverman Programme.

I also felt that there were a lot of times where Sarah was using this book as a means to clear her name from some of the bad publicity she’s gotten over the years. Some of them are funny and interesting, such as the debacle with her dress from the 2009 Emmys. Other times, I feel she is trying to prove herself the victim instead of the antagonist in certain situations, such as when she used an Asian-American slur on Conan O’Brien’s show. On the one hand, I understand how, given her philosophy about her comedy, she didn’t think it was offensive at all. But on the other hand, there is a time and place for everything, and perhaps some of the hate mail she received wasn’t unjustified (as she tried to make it seem like it was).

While I have said a lot of negative things about the last half of the book, Sarah does tell some rather funny stories about her life, and she even includes a “midword” (kind of life a foreward or afterward, but in the middle of the book, get it??!) that was quite enjoyable to read. I feel, though, as if these things weren’t enough to redeem the book in my eyes, and I really wanted to get to know more of Sarah instead of listen to more of her jokes.

tl;dr: If you’re a fan of Sarah Silverman’s work, it might be worth a read, just to get more of the same. If you’re really hoping to learn more about her as a person, then you might want to look elsewhere.