Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year Challenge: DNFs

Last year, we each had one book that we did not finish.

For Luke, it was my top book for 2013, Code Name Verity which he was mystifyingly able to stop reading part way through.

For me, it was the somewhat lengthy Insurrection which I think would have benefited from me taking notes while reading.

Your Challenge: to complete your DNF book by the end of January 2014.

Then we will start anew with shiny new Challenges and maybe even a guest post or two.

Friday, 6 December 2013

I'm Reading - Quick Reviews

I loved Divergent. I ordered Allegiant as soon as I knew it was coming out. When I started to read it, I realised I couldn't remember what happened in Insurgent, so I read Insurgent then Divergent in the space of a couple of days. I was disappointed. I would recommend reading Divergent - and just that one. In the second two, I found there was too much going from this place to that other place to that place, for extremely vague reasons.

Burn for Burn was just okay. I like the idea of empowered girls taking their revenge. I didn't love any of the three characters, and the slight supernatural element, although I saw it coming, still seemed to come out of nowhere. I will probably read the sequel, but based on this review, I'm not sure why.

The Lucy Variations was interesting. I kept googling the music mentioned, and eventually had a classical playlist going the whole time I was reading. The young girl/teacher figure aspect was a bit icky.

I raved about Code Name Verity when I read it and forced Luke to read it as well. I loved Rose Under Fire almost as much. Read both of them. End of review.

I would have enjoyed Someday, Someday, Maybe more if I didn't know it was written by Lauren Graham. I was really distracted by trying to match up events in the book with possible real life events. And I don't like to think about embarrassing things happening to real people - characters in books are fine. But if I wasn't such a Lauren Graham fan, I would probably never have read it. I did enjoy it, but would have liked a chapter at the end explaining which parts were made up and which parts really happened.

I have read almost all of Philippa Gregory's books, and was eagerly awaiting The White Princess. It was okay. I was really interested to read about the person who was, per Wikipedia, the daughter, sister, niece and wife of English monarchs. However, the problem was that Elizabeth of York seemed to be always on the sidelines of the aforementioned English monarchs. She spent a lot of time sitting around having to wait for the outcome of the men's fighting to see what her fate would be. 

I have read all of Sue Grafton's Alphabet series, and about halfway through I started to wonder if she would really make it all the way through to Z - or if she even should. I haven't loved the last few, but I did enjoy W is for Wasted - maybe it was just a welcome break from all the teen crap I've been reading lately. I thought it was interesting having another point of view, but it didn't feel much different to Kinsey's usual voice, which was slightly distracting. I appreciate Kinsey's attention to detail (she is a detective, after all), but I am pretty sure that there was way more description than usual or was necessary.

Friday, 6 September 2013

I'm Reading: Birthday Library Books

For my birthday this year, I got myself twenty books... from the library.

I sat down with my ridiculously long list of Books To Read and starting requesting them from my local library. (Most of them were recommendations from Forever Young Adult.) I was really hoping that they'd come in a bit more spread out than they did... Within three days I had this pile sitting on my kitchen table:

Since I catch public transport to and from work every day now, I am getting through the pile at a pretty good rate. Still a few to go, but books are still trickling in - I have at least one waiting for me at the library right now.

I highly recommend this as a birthday present.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Review 16: 'White Tiger'

Before I start, can I just take a minute to gloat over the fact that Luke quote "loved" his last Challenge book? Thanks. Oh and bro, you're probably not up to it yet, but there's a new one coming out later in the year. More Jacky Faber adventures!

Anyway, White Tiger. I don't think I'd go straight to 'love', but I did enjoy this book. As Luke said, main character named Emma, strong female protagonist, what's not to, um, enjoy?

I did enjoy all the modern China stuff, which the author clearly knows about from personal experience, as well as the history. Cute little girl, kickarse sidekick dude, fight scenes with girls kicking butt, it had a lot of things I enjoy. It was easy to read, and moved along quite well, building up the bad guys at a nice pace. And who doesn't love a good training montage?

I have three issues with the book. The first is that I didn't realise the major battle was, you know, the major battle. I would have liked it a bit more spectacular and terrifying. The second was the way her friends kept calling her 'cold blooded'. Now I know (or at least assume) that this is to set up the reveal in one of the later books about her true nature, but come on, no-one says that! A simple, "Dude, that's cold," would have done exactly the same thing and sounded like something someone somewhere might actually have said. And finally, the fact that Emma and her insta-love boyfriend are constantly not having to say anything, they just know, words aren't needed - then stop using words to tell me words aren't needed.

Despite that final paragraph to the contrary, I did enjoy this book, and would read the sequels - if Luke could assure that Emma was not going to continue to annoy the ever-loving shit out of me.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Review 17: 'Under the Jolly Roger'

I loved this one, the tale of a young girl, repeatedly getting herself in over her head, but always just managing to just stay afloat (sometimes literally). Her adventures on the high seas at times reminded me of Hornblower (a TV show I used to watch - yes I know it was a book first, shh), though less.. Something.. Maybe just different because the main character was a girl.

I can't make up my mind about Jaimy. I feel like he's a jerk for leaving her originally, but he did try to write, even though he wasn't getting any letters in return (Curse you Jaimy's mother!). In the end I pretty much decided that he was an okay guy.

The book I read was partway through the series, and I had to catch up on the history of her life, but the author did well in revealing her past gradually, in a way that felt natural as she recalled the events. I enjoyed the story of her life though found it a bit fantastic at points (yes, I know that it's fiction, but still...)

I'd recommend this series to a slightly younger (say highschool) audience, or to those enjoy teen books, like Em and I do. I will probably be finding the rest of the series eventually, though I have quite the stack of books to get through before I do.

This is Luke, signing off.
I look forward to the next challenge.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Challenge 17: a Bloody Jack Adventure

First of all, I cannot believe Luke DNF'd on Code Name Verity, of all books! I really thought it would be right up his alley, and I flew through the reading of it, so I am just astounded that he could leave it unfinished. Especially since - spoiler! - the end is where all the major stuff happens. Sub-challenge: finish it by the end of this year.

Second, I got a tablet for Christmas. Yay! The main reason I wanted one was to use as an e-book reader, but I only just resumed catching public transport to work, so I haven't really needed it until now. I found out that you can borrow e-books through the SA Libraries service, and while browsing through I came across the Bloody Jack series.

I had heard of this series before - which begins with Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy - but I wasn't sure if it was maybe a bit young for me. But it was free and I wanted to test out my tablet.

I read the first eight books in under three weeks. (That's a lie; I didn't read the first one because NO ONE HAS IT GRRR.) I even read the books - gasp! - at home, even though books are clearly FOR THE TRAM RIDE. Yep, I smashed them out good, and now am only two books from the end. Oops.

I took Luke to the (actual physical) library and picked out the one I thought he would like the most out of what was there. Luke: your Challenge is to read one of the Jacky Faber novels, if not all of them.

Third, and finally, I have Some Thoughts:
- The whole Cockney accent thing that is prevalent in the first couple of books is basically non-existent by the later ones, so don't let that put you off if it's not your cup of tea.
- I am not sure what age group I would categorise this as. I would say late primary school, for the pirate themes and fun adventures, but there are frequent references to more adult topics so I would probably have to say late high school. I worry that those people might not be into pirate stories, but then I am 27 so I guess you're never too old.
- I would like to hear people's thoughts on Jaimy, mostly whether or not he is an oppressive patriarchal imbecile who is not worth a minute of Jacky's time. I have to say that the latest book I've read has mostly swung me around to him, but I would still like to hear what you think.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Challenge 16: 'White Tiger'

Continuing our recent string of strong female protagonists, I present to you:

 White Tiger 

 This is another of those books which I had kept seeing on library shelves and thinking to myself "That looks kinda cool, maybe I'll borrow it." And then never doing so. Eventually I did get around to it, and stayed up 'till about 4am. It was quite good. Reasonably action-y, but delving a lot into chinese mythology White Tiger has a very different setting from most of what I have read, and it takes a bit of time to adjust to that. Emma (Woo! and she's Australian, Woo more!), the protagonist, explains the differing culture well.

And then we get to the part where she learns that the Gods and Demons she loves reading about are real, and has to learn martial arts to defend herself. Yeah, she kinda kicks demon butt.

If you aren't excited to read it after that, I don't know what more I can say, except: Go read it, you'll see.

 - L