I haven't posted on here in ages, and... I don't expect anyone to keep up with reading the blogs, but I thought I'd get back into the habit of posting by giving a monthly summary of what I've read each month, and a mini-review of each book
SO I read 13 books this month, and that's not be counting the one book I have read in October so far.
#1 - Holes by Louis Sachar - Children's Classics - 5/5 stars
This was my first time reading it, and I haven't seen the movie either, so it was a treat to finally appreciate this book. And the main reason I picked it up was because it won the newbery medal for most distinguished addition to children's literature in [a certain year]. As you'll see from the next few books on my list, I have been reading a lot of newbery winners.
Holes is about Stanley Yelnats (spelled the same way forwards and backwards) who is sent to a detention center for boys, but he didn't commit the crime (Stanley blames it on his no-good-dirty-rotten- pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather). The boys are forced to dig holes all day every day, and it seems like the warden has a purpose to where she's digging. She's looking for something.
As you can see, it's a simple, fun, and an odd story. It has humor to it, yet it is somewhat dark. It was a great story, and a fast read (only a few hours for me). Definitely recommend to children, and anybody who loves a good story.
#2 - Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson - Young Adult Sci-Fi - 4/5 stars
Steelheart the second book I've ever read by Sanderson, and it wasn't as good as the first I read (Skyward) but it was still a fun and epic ride. A great first book in the Reckoners series.
In steelheart, 13 years before the story a giant red star appears in the sky, and random men and women gain superpowers. But they become murderers and tyrants instead of heroes. And the main character, a young man named David, lives in New Chicago, under Steelheart's reign. Steelheart is invincible, and holds a steel fist over the city. But David is determined to find a way to kill him.
It was a fun ride of a story, with decent characters and overall a great plot with bizarre twists. David is easy to cheer on, and there's always fun interactions between his team of superhero-killers. But the best part was the superheroes, and the action, and the awesomeness. Little can beat a crazy action story in terms of how fun it was to read. But it didn't always feel like an amazing story. It was a little sloppy, and could be boring at times. It's main problem was casualty with the dialogue and narration, way too casual for my liking. Overall great book. Recommend for teens and fans of superheroes.
#3 - A Hero For WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi - Children's Sci-Fi - 3/5 stars
I did a review of the first book of WondLa in another blog, but today I'm reviewing the second book. It was interesting, but I'm stopping this series here, and not reading the third book.
It picks up right after the first book, and chronicles Eva Nine going to the human world, and finding that it may not be what she thinks.
I'm going to keep this short because there isn't much to say. The pictures and world-building were nice, and that's all I can compliment it on. The plot was ok, but it still wasn't a good story per se. It felt too juvenile at times, like the author was playing the plot down for the kids. Just not the best. And near the end, it got really weird. So after I finished, I did sort of want to read the third, but... later I decided it wasn't worth my time. Recommend for children.
#4 - From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg - Children's classics - 5/5 stars
This is another newbery winner, and I wholeheartedly think it deserves the award. Another short book, but I loved it so much I had to get my own copy.
The story chronicles two siblings, running away to New York on the money they've saved from allowance. They stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hiding from the guards and sleeping in the century old beds. But they discover a mystery while they're out on vacation, and make it their goal to solve, no matter how much time and money they have left in New York.
It's such a delight to read, because it just has that child-like innocence of running away. They don't even consider if it's the right thing to do, it's just an adventure to have. And an adventure it is! I loved reading about their attempts at survival in the city, and their fascination with the mystery that they come across. The siblings have such great characters, and a realistic relationship that is both squabbly and loving. Plus, I've begun to appreciate the theme of stories, and this book's theme is unique and delightful; it's just a fun book. Recommend for everyone.
#5 - Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - Children's Classics - 4/5 stars
This is a very popular book/movie, so if you've avoided this book for this long, you need to read it. It's another newbery, and another short read, but worth it.
It begins with Jess, who's been training for the schoolyard races in 5th grade. But when the odd new girl beats everyone with no competition, it sparks a hateship, and then finally a friendship between them.
The first part of the book is great, and draws you right in. Then the middle is very slow, and little happens. But it sort of has a purpose of just showing their friendship. Then the ending is beautiful and terrible. I nearly cried. Jess and Leslie (the new girl) have great characters, and have fun little adventures in their land of Terabithia. Jess' family is messed up and it depressed me, but he finds solace in his friendship. The book is dark, but a read that is very worthwhile. Recommend for everyone.
#6 - The Princess Bride by William Goldman - Classics - 5/5 stars
The movie is a cult classic that nearly everyone has seen, yet few have read the book. More people should though, because it only adds to the masterpiece of a movie
Everyone should know what happens in the book/movie, and if you don't, shame on you!
The book really wasn't written by Goldman, but by Morgenstern, a lot of years ago. Goldman's father read him the book when he was sick, but when Goldman went back as an adult, he found the book to be boring and lengthy. So he set out to abridge it, and later write the screenplay, doing a great job.
The book does not take away from the movie at all, it only adds to it, giving explanation and character backstory as well as: fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters... the list goes on. It is a little long, but definitely worth it for anyone who loves the movie. Recommend to everyone, especially princess bride fans.
#7 - Queen of The Sea by Dylan Meconis - Graphic Novel - 3/5 stars
What that doesn't count as a book! Well, I'm putting it on the list anyway. It was a big graphic novel.
The story is about Margaret, a little girl on an island of nuns that gets wrapped very tightly up into the english world of victorian politics. It's not a historical fiction, but it's a hybrid between fiction and fact, basing it's story off of victorian england, but not actually using any names from history.
At times it felt strange that this whole thing was happening, and the main character was just a girl on an island? Part way through she gets revealed as a bigger player but she still has no power. It sort of felt like the author was scrambling to push the girl into the story, and while he achieved quite well for what he was trying to do, it just felt a little off. I did like some of the characters and it had interesting conflict in some parts. And the art style was magnificent. It wasn't drawings that take minutes to fully appreciate but more simplistic and stylistic drawings that were pretty in their own right. The drawings felt like they had a texture to them, given by the awesome coloring job done. But, the author's use of inner dialogue formed as prose in some of the panels, was really boring to read, and sort of ruined the graphic novel way of showing the story instead of using prose. It was a cheap way to provide inner dialogue and exposition without having to actually show any of it. I found that annoying. Cool art, meh story. Recommend to those who like cool pictures.
#8 - Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare - Play - 4/5 stars
I'm not going to say a whole lot. You all know the almighty shakespeare, and this was a great introduction. I found myself memorizing some of the better lines, and the story was pretty great. I read it for school, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, maybe I would have more so if I had been able to watch it.
Now I got Hamlet from the library, so this one left a good impression I guess.
#9 - Going Postal by Terry Pratchett - Humor - 5/5 stars
Going Postal is my first Terry Pratchett book, and an instant favorite. Pure entertainment of the highest caliber that I'm going to come back to for years to come, because it feels like I didn't even appreciate all the amazing humor.
It starts off when Moist Von Lipwig (yes, his name is Moist) is caught by the Ankh-Morpork government, and finds a noose tightly around his neck, falling through a trap-door into a... government job? He is given the postmaster position over the rundown post office of the city, now useless and void because of the Grand Trunk's clacks system that has a monopoly on messaging.
The world that Pratchett has created for all of his novels is a wonderous, strange, quirky world that gives Going Postal a whole new level of complexity. Especially since the story takes place in a victorian era, except it has golems and dwarves and half-mad pirate tyrants of messaging monopolies. The whole first act the only thing you want in the world is for Moist to deliver the mail. And he does it! And man, does he do it! Moist himself is one of my favorite characters of all time, being an ex-con-man that takes everything to the extreme. He pushes the stakes harder and harder until you can't help but turn the page, grinning at what he got himself into. And the humor is laugh-out-loud funny at many parts, and even when it isn't, you're grinning at the wit and cleverness of the one-liners and the situations of the story. The book just feels like one big grin, and pure fun entertainment. Recommend for teens and adults.
#10 - The Giver by Lois Lowry - Children's Classics - 3/5 stars
I was excited to read this, because I'd heard it was an amazing story. But I found that it was highly overrated. Given that it's one of the most popular books ever, I'm sure this isn't a popular opinion.
The Giver is about Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.
As I said, I expected greatness, but instead I could see why people loved it, but that felt more like an illusory shell that covered the story. I liked the shell! It was a decent book! But when you dug past the first layer there were so many gaps, inconsistencies, and just... average-storytelling. Some parts were boring and somewhat annoying, and there were too many things and subplots it brought up without any resolution. But the worldbuilding for the community was interesting, even if it was a little inconsistent. But outside the community, and anything outside of Jonas' immediate life was just disregarded. I'm so confused about the world still. But it was interesting. It had some decent plot twists and revelations, even if they didn't really fit when you thought about it. But they were good. And I really liked the ending. Because I love bittersweet endings, and I think the plot points she left unfinished were just great. And she ended it perfectly. But there were some things that still should have been resolved. Mixed feelings for a very sparsely written story. Recommend to children and teens.
#11 - The Story of With: A Better Way To Love and Create - Non-fiction - 4/5 stars
Four stars purely for the message, it was true and refreshing and I needed to hear it, and I think everyone, no matter if they are a creative, or a construction worker, needs to read it.
It is an allegory about living WITH God as we create, and as we live. But the aspect that it was trying to sell, about it being an allegory, didn't live up to what I hoped. It took me a long time time to accept this fact because it sort of leaned on the power of story to tell its message. But the story was just... not great. The message was amazing, but the main aspect of the book fell flat. Recommend to everyone.
#12 - Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - Young Adult Historical Fiction - 5/5 stars
When I picked this up at the library, one of the reviewers said it was a "tour de force". I love books like that. As soon as I began to read, I knew I was in for quite the tour de force.
Code Name Verity begins with the confession of a british spy of all that she knows, to the german gestapo during WWII. It is mainly a written account of her friendship with an RAF pilot, Maddie.
I'm honestly lost for words trying to write this review. It is historical fiction in the finest caliber. The characters are flawed and wondrous and amazing. The character voice is wondrous and amazing. It feels like history in the best way possible. It feels like a true friendship, and a true story of defeat and victory and life and... I love this book so much. It instantly jumped to my list of all-time favorites. It is a little disturbing and dark at times, and definitely gritty and real. The twists are surprisingly surprising. And I just can't think of a better way to describe it than a "tour de force". Recommend for teens and adults.
#13 - The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis - Allegory - 5/5 stars
This is my first introduction to Lewis outside of Narnia, and I couldn't be more impressed.
It is a collection of letters from a senior demon in the lowerarchy of hell, written to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. It may seem odd, but it's very easy to get into.
The way that this is structured makes it incredibly easy for Lewis to dig into the heart of temptation, and reveal the obvious truths that we have seemed to have forgotten. And temptation encompasses the entire arena of demon intervention in human life, straying us from the narrow path. This book has so many profound truths and eye-opening lessons that I believe every single christian needs to read this. It is so easy to see the ways that the devil tempts us now. Plus this is a work of satire in earnest, with the narrator's black, being our white, and our black being his white. It is incredibly witty at times, which I enjoyed a lot. But the most impressive aspect of this story is how it is surprisingly relatable, more than 50 years after it was written. It stays impactful, to anyone, anywhere. Recommend to everyone.
Coming up next month is a review of Peter Pan (spoiler: it's amazing), and the three books I'm currently reading, My Name Is Asher Lev, Firefight, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making
Have a great October, everyone!