Wednesday, March 4, 2015

TBR Pile: A Grimm Warning

A Grimm Warning is the third book in Chris Colfer's The Land of Stories series. If you haven't read my reviews of the previous two books in the series, they're located here.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
jacket art by Brandon Dorman)

First Impression: So far, I'm questioning some of the realism of Conner's experiences (in the real world, not the Land of Stories)--his teacher riding first class on the airplane while her students are in second, for example. And Alex's sudden attachment to the farmer boy and her confidence in Red kind of bug me. It's hard to explain. I'm curious to see how the beginning with the Grimm brothers will play into the rest of the series. Although pieces of this book are bugging me, Colfer always has fun, original ideas, and I'm curious where he'll take the series in this one.

Conclusion: I've enjoyed The Land of Stories series so far. Chris Colfer's writing style seems to be improving, but the increased complexity in his topics counteracted this somewhat. I don't like Alex's character as much in this one. Maybe it's the teenage girl aspect of everything, but it was a bit annoying. Also, I don't really get the state of things between the fairies and the elves, although Empress Elvina is a promising character. Colfer did a really good job with the French Army. I was a little disappointed with the ending. I did enjoy the story, but it's not quite as good as the first two in the series. Not sure if I'll read the next book or not.

Recommendation: If you've read the first and second books in the series and really want to know what happens next for Conner and Alex, this is the book for you. As for unique takes on traditional fairy tales, I think the first two books in the series did a better job of that. Also, a lot of things won't make sense if you haven't been reading the series, so don't skip the others to read this one.

A Grimm Warning is the fourth book toward my 2015 TBR Pile Challenge.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mailbox Monday: The Kite Runner

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. It's a fun focus on what books you're getting in the mail each week. This week, I received an audio CD copy of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini via Paperbackswap. I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, so I figured maybe if I got it on audio, I might have time. Pretty excited.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

This is really sad, but I didn't send hardly anything in the mail the last week of February. (If you told me you wanted mail from me, you will still receive something. I just got kind of swamped this month and haven't sent them yet.) That being said, my Month of Letters was pretty successful for never having participated before. I mailed about 60% of the goal. Definitely more than I usually mail anyway. Thanks for participating with me, guys! As promised, I'll be posting that giveaway either today or later this week. Don't forget to check back for it!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just for Fun: Where Are You Reading Challenge 2015

The Where Are You Reading Challenge 2015 hosted by Sheila at Book Journey is one of my "Just for Fun" Challenges for 2015--meaning I'll track my progress, but I'm not technically signed-up for the challenge. The location I list for each book will be based on where most of the story takes place. If the story is in a fictional location or the reader doesn't know of a specific location where the story takes place, I'll list it as "Other." If the primary location is fictional but part of the story takes place in a real location, I'll list the book under the real location mentioned. I'll be listing all of the books that I finish in 2015, whether I'm writing a review of them on this blog or not. This will be where I update that list until my next quarterly update.

The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

United Kingdom
England: His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
                Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

United States
Massachusetts: Still Alice by Lisa Genova
New Mexico: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mailbox Monday: Valentines

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. It's a fun focus on what books you're getting in the mail each week. I didn't get any books in the mail this week, but I'm sticking with the meme for the sake of February and A Month of Letters. Book-wise, I sent out my copy of The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini, which I reviewed here.

I mailed this book via Paperbackswap, which I talked about last week. Thought you guys might want to see the other side of the exchange. I enjoyed this book, and now I can pass it on to another who might enjoy it as well! Love it! I also sent out some more valentines and a little restaurant voucher as an extra Valentine's Day gift to my parents. Speaking of which--Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope you guys had fun celebrating with your friends and family. Trying to eat out in my town on Valentine's Day is like signing a form that says, "Please, can I have the most stressful, loud, and possibly dangerous experience of all time trying to have a meal with my family?" So, Tony picked up some sushi to-go, and Gabe picked the movie we watched--Mr. Peabody & Sherman, his current favorite. Gabe also made this adorable valentine card with heart shapes and some foam stickers:

I can't get the picture to rotate, but you get the idea. As for what I got in the mail this week, I received a few valentines from family, and some on-the-go yogurt and granola breakfast pouches I had ordered. Plum Organics--yum! What did you guys get in the mail this week? Those of you who requested mail from me, be looking for it soon, and if you didn't there's still time! Also, be on the look-out for a giveaway I plan to host in the next week or two in honor of A Month of Letters!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Diverse Books / Banned Book / TBR Pile: Ceremony

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko is about a man, Tayo, of mixed race (Laguna Pueblo and Mexican) returning home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the Vietnam War. His cousin, Rocky, (with whom he was close, more like a brother) was killed in the war, and his uncle, Josiah, died while they were gone. Tayo jumps around in time, flashing back to horrible scenes of war and his past as a teenager helping his uncle raise their cattle. It's all jumbled in his mind. And as the rest of the veterans on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation drown their troubles in alcohol, Tayo tries to find a better, more permanent solution.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
cover design by Melissa Jacoby;
cover art: Portrait by Bennie Buffalo, 1976)

First Impression: Silko's language is dreamlike and earthy. As with many American Indian authors I've read, there's a magical quality to her writing that intrigues me. It's not so present here as in Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie, but it's still there. I hesitate to specifically see this as a trait of writing from American Indian authors, however, not having read enough to give a strong opinion on the topic. The most unique quality I see in this book is Silko's time variation. She jumps between moments of shared significance rather than following a consecutive timeline. Likewise, she introduces characters when it serves a purpose; the reader doesn't meet every character right away. I found the time switches confusing at first, but I like the strange piecing together that happens as a result. I feel as Tayo feels and see as he sees. This is a very different aspect of PTSD than I got from The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I really like it.

Conclusion: There's a calm intensity that came over me while I was reading this book, and it really set the tone for the story. Silko writes of the surroundings/setting as they relate to the main story, but also in a way where it seems they have their own story. Time has a relational quality that makes complete sense with a main character who has PTSD. The ceremonies mentioned are not the showy dances an outsider might expect, but rather the realistic life ceremonies an insider might take part in to balance a situation that has become corrupted and difficult. Silko produces fantastic, well-rounded characters. I have my favorites, of course, but I appreciated the nuances of all of the them. Even the side characters had great depth! The ending is believable because these men have been to a brutal war and come back scarred. They all have scars of some type, even Emo, who seemingly just goes crazy with blood lust. I was holding my breath for a little bit at the end, so I guess I am relieved (although sorry for one character) with how it ended. This book was fantastic. Knowing that Silko's poetry is good as well, I'm sure I'll be reading more of her work.

Quote: "He tasted the deep heartrock of the earth, where the water came from, and he thought maybe this wasn't the end after all" (p 46, Penguin Books paperback, 1977).

Ceremony is my first read for the We Read Diverse Books Challenge 2015. The first topic was "Race." This is also my second read for the Banned Books Challenge 2015, and my third read for the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge. Let me know what you're reading so far this year!

We Read Diverse Books Challenge 2015

I signed up for the We Read Diverse Books Challenge hosted by Janet Ursel at Gourmet Reading. There is a different challenge to be met each month, so it should be 12 books in total, and each challenge is revealed at the beginning of the month. I'll update this regularly (until the next quarterly update) as I find out the next challenge, choose a book, and read the book.

Banned Books Challenge 2015

I signed up for the "Trouble-Maker" level (3-5 books) of the Banned Books Challenge 2015 hosted by Christine at Buckling Bookshelves. This is where I'll be keeping my list of books until my next quarterly update.