Tag Archives: books

Favorite/Least Favorite Books of 2013

3 Jan

First post in one million years! I don’t know if anyone even reads this blog anymore, haha. I don’t think I ever even made a favorites post for 2012……. Anywho, I set a really low reading goal for myself last year- only 50 books. That was mainly because for the first half of the year I was working 60+ hour weeks and had hardly any time for reading. I actually ended up reading 58, which was good, I guess.

To be honest, I don’t really remember any particularly standout books, either good or bad, offhand. I will have to go through my list and see…In no particular order…

FAVORITES

1. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis- Although the finale to the trilogy had a really ugly cover, the story did not disappoint. It was a highly satisfying ending! I just wish it could have had a pretty cover to match the first 2.

2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer- While I didn’t like it nearly as much as Cinder, it was still very enjoyable.

3. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin- This was by far my favorite so far in the Song of Ice and Fire series! Unfortunately, I’ve heard the next couple of books aren’t that great so I’m afraid it may have peaked here.

4. Because it is my Blood by Gabrielle Zevin- The sequel to All These Things I’ve Done. I think I liked it even more than the first.

5. The Book of Lost Things by John Connoly- Seemed at first like a children’s story, but it was actually anything but.

6. Curtain by Agatha Christie- Her last Poirot novel, it was written decades before it was published. I read all of Agatha Christie’s books in the order they were published, and towards the end they definitely declined in quality. That’s why reading this was such a relief!

7. Endless Night by Agatha Christie- This was her 70th book out of 80 that I read, and probably the last really good one.

8. Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson- I liked this series much more than I thought I would when I began the first novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

9. Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth- I began this series at the very end of 2012, shortly after getting into the Call the Midwife TV series. I really liked all of the books.

10. Tie between The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham and A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh- After finishing Agatha Christie, I was desperate for some more cozy mystery authors. These two both reminded me more of Georgette Heyer than Christie but I highly enjoyed both and can’t wait to read the rest of their books.

As you can see, I cheated on a lot of the above- listing series and a tie. Haha! Now on to the flip side of the coin:

LEAST FAVORITE- other than the first book, I didn’t actually hate any of these. They were just not very good or they didn’t live up to the hype.

1. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta- This book had been spoken really highly of in the YA booktubing community. The description sounded good, too. But I hated, hated, hated this book. Boring, poorly written, cheesy, etc. Reminded me of previous hated YA books like Graceling and The Naming.

2. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff- A steampunk Japan fantasy! But it was really disappointing and misused a lot of random Japanese that was thrown in.

3. Boundless by Cynthia Hand- It wasn’t bad, but definitely a disappointment compared to the first two books.

4. Reached by Ally Condy- I wasn’t crazy even about the first book in this series, Matched. I’m not sure why I even continued with it.

5. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith- I think the hype killed it. It wasn’t bad, but I would rate it maybe a 7/10. I was so excited for this being such a huge Harry Potter and mystery fan- of course a detective novel by JK Rowling would have to be super amazing, right? Instead, it was just “pretty good.”

6. Stardust by Neil Gaiman- It sounded really cool, but for some reason, I just wasn’t that into it.

7. Black and White by Malorie Blackman- An alternate reality where the white people are the oppressed race and blacks are the privileged. Like many of the others on this list, it was a really cool concept, but I wasn’t blown away.

8. Outpost by Ann Aguirre- I wasn’t crazy about the first book, Horde, and I liked this one even less.

9. NOTHING! Surprise, I couldn’t think of anything else.

Overall, 2013 was a very underwhelming year in reading for me. That’s largely due to the fact that I only read about half or fewer books than I have in the past few years. Hopefully 2014 will be a little more exciting.

He Knew He Was Right Book and Miniseries Review

31 Aug

The Book

He Knew He Was Right, by Anthony Trollope, was published in 1869. It is one of the more popular of his many, many novels. It tells of the destruction of a once happy marriage, due to the husband, Louis Trevelyan’s jealousy, and his wife, Emily’s stubbornness. Louis does not like Emily to spend so much time with her godfather, Colonel Osborne, a ladies’ man who has some rumored scandals in his past. Although he does not suspect that she has been unfaithful, he thinks that it will give him a bad reputation as a husband. Emily, in turn, insists that she has done nothing wrong and so instead of acquiescing, she obstinately defies Louis just to prove him wrong. Both keep insisting that they are right until things keep spiraling further and further out of control. Like Trollope’s other works, there are about a million side characters and subplots as well, including a love triangle involving Emily’s sister, Nora.

I actually read this a few months ago but am only getting around to a review now to fill up time until my Jane Eyre DVD arrives! This was my fourth Trollope novel.I have not really cared for any of them, sadly. The Warden and Barchester Towers were okay, but I really hated The Way We Live Now. I like Trollope’s writing well enough, but I always have a  hard time because most of his characters are so unlikeable. Trollope himself was not fond of He Knew He Was Right because Louis Trevelyan was so unsympathetic. I have to agree. It’s not good if I like the subplots better than the main plot of a novel! I could not sympathize with Emily either. Yes, she was technically more “right” in the beginning than Louis, but the situation got out of hand largely due to her obstinacy as well as Louis’s. The two really needed to have a frank discussion without constantly blaming the other for everything. I do not hesitate in saying this will be my last Trollope novel, since I do not own any others.

My Rating: 4/10

He Knew He Was Right, the miniseries, aired on BBC in 2004 and was scripted by the (in)famous Andrew Davies. It stars Oliver Dimsdale as Louis Trevelyan, Laura Frasier as Emily, and many well-known British actors such as Bill Nighy as Colonel Osborne, Anna Massey as Aunt Stansbury, and Christina Cole as Nora. Andrew Davies also adapted Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, and as you probably know from my earlier review, I was NOT a fan of that adaptation in any way. Since I did not care for this book very much, I did not have high hopes for this miniseries.

So, what did I think? It was actually not as bad as I thought it could be. That was, I believe, mostly due to my low expectations. The acting was good all around and it was faithful to the novel for the most part. I have mixed feelings about one big change to this adaptation, however. Namely- Emily Trevelyan. Davies paints her as MUCH more sympathetic than the book character, where she is nearly as much to blame as Louis for their failed marriage. Here, she is almost completely innocent and seems genuinely ignorant and confused about why Louis is originally upset. Louis in the miniseries actually believes that she and Osborne are having an affair for some reason, which never crossed his mind in the book. Emily in the series is a blameless victim, and can honestly be called “right” in the situation. I suppose Davies wanted to make at least one likeable lead and so altered things to make Louis entirely the villain and Emily only a victim, trying to do the right thing. I am torn about this change because while it does make for easier viewing, having someone to root for in the main plotline, the fact remains that it is not true to the book. I was unable to fully enjoy the miniseries for that reason because I just kept thinking “That’s not how it’s supposed to be!” Silly and too purist of me? Maybe. But that’s how I feel.

My Rating: 6/10

Top Ten Bookish Confessions

29 Aug

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme about books hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Yes, I am well aware that today is Wednesday. I didn’t have a chance to do this yesterday. In the past, I have occasionally participated in this meme on my Youtube Channel. But, partially due to my inability to film a video today, partially because I want to be more active on this blog, I thought this week I would change it up and actually do a blog post about it.

Today’s theme is Bookish Confessions.

1. I hate to spend money- unless it’s on books. Anything else I feel is a waste. While I do like clothes, I have some slight body issues and don’t like to spend too much money on them. Jewelry? Pretty, but unnecessary. Shoes? Definitely not. Whenever I buy something else, I only end up thinking of how many books I could have bought with that money.

2. I read way more books than I watch movies. And my favorite movies/series tend to be largely book adaptations.

3. I have read the entire Twilight series. I had no desire to do so, but I ended up being too curious for my own good. I borrowed my friend’s copies (I would not and will not buy them). I also saw the first three movies. But Breaking Dawn was so bad I won’t even see the movies.

4. Even after a year, I’m still depressed at the demise of Borders. Pretty much all I have left now is Barnes and Noble, but it’s not the same experience. There is not as much of a selection, the deals are  not as good, and the employees are less knowledgeable (at least in my local branches!). When I drive past an old Borders location, I still get sad!

5. I hate lending out books. It’s not exactly that I don’t trust others (but that’s partly it), but that I feel nervous having a book separate from the rest of my collection.

6. I buy way more books than I have room for/time to read. I collect books, even though my shelves are to the point of overflowing and there’s no room for more. It’s a form of hoarding, I guess. And this continues even though I have some that have sat unread for years. This relates to the next point…

7. I don’t use my ereader enough. I got this dumb thing last year because it was on sale, I didn’t have room for more books, and I thought it would be good to read public domain books on, that way I wouldn’t at least have to spend money on those. And it turns out that’s all I’ve used it for, and only a couple at that. I also have The Song of Ice and Fire series on it, because it came with a credit I used it on. I have not bought anything on it other than that. It just doesn’t have the same magical feel that books do. I tried!

8. My dream is to have a library that includes the works- a ladder will be a must. Think the scene from the Disney Beauty and the Beast, for reference. Yes, I know ereaders are more convenient, but it’s just not the same!

9. I prefer the look of hardcover, but the feel of paperback. Hardcovers look better on the shelf and they’re sturdier, but unless I’m getting a new book, I always go for paperback. Not only are they cheaper, I prefer how they feel in my hands. Easier to hold!

10. It’s hard not to judge people based on their reading preferences! I hate chick lit/romance novels but I know a lot of people who like them, and indeed will read only those genres. I try to separate those preferences with their personal intelligence but it can be slightly difficult-especially if the books in question happen to be Fifty Shades of Grey. I know everyone has different tastes, but I like to go by “If I don’t like it, that means it’s bad!” (obviously I am exaggerating, lol).
There are a few more I could mention, but I’m going to keep it at ten.

 

Worst Books of 2011

5 Jan

Happy New Year, everybody! Surprisingly I’ve still been getting hits on this blog despite not updating for so long. I had another virus starting on Christmas day but I’m better now. Hopefully no more illnesses for a while! This year I’m gonna try to update my blog more often, but since I’m taking even more classes than last semester, that may be hard to do! But I’ll do my best.

What better way to start the year than with a list of my least favorite books that I read? I read a total of 111 books, which was my goal (in honor of the year 2011). A great deal of them were good, many were mediocre, and some were….bad. This is a list of the bad ones, in alphabetical order (not ranked). Remember, these are only books that I READ last year, not necessarily released that year.

Edited- I updated the list to include a couple books I forgot!

1. April Lady by Georgette Heyer- I’m a Georgette Heyer fan, but really, a few of her books have been duds for me. I read this book shortly after The Convenient Marriage, which was very similar and which I was also not a fan of. Both deal with couples after marriages who still go through issues. The couple both believe that the other doesn’t love them and whacky hijinks ensue. While I didn’t like The Convenient Marriage, at least the first few chapters were promising and there was some basis to the misunderstandings the couples faced. April Lady didn’t even had that. The characters were not charming, but rather nitwits, and it was just annoying overall.

2. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley- This one sounded really interesting and I’d heard it was a classic fantasy. The setup was good, but it ended up being really, really boring. That seemed to be a common theme with fantasies I read this year.

3. Foundling by D.M. Cornish- Another boring fantasy. I don’t know why it was in the young adult section when it seemed clearly meant for younger children. My mind wandered about 1/4 of the way through, and though I finished it, I don’t clearly recall much that happened after that.

4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore- Soooo disappointing. Another one of the boring fantasies, but this one was possibly the worst for me because I was expecting the most from it. Such an interesting concept, but such a poor execution. First of all, the writing was terrible! Secondly, the majority of the book was boring traveling scenes with nothing happening. What a shame.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray-  I debated with myself for a while whether to put this book on the list or not. I did find it entertaining, but not historically accurate in any way, in terms of the characters’ personalities and ideals. They really seemed like modern characters in a Victorian setting. I dunno, I think I would have liked it if I were 10 years younger, but as it is, I found it EXTREMELY disappointing.

6. Katherine by Anya Seton- I really liked Seton’s Green Darkness, but this one didn’t do anything for me. I wasn’t crazy about the characters in that one either, but I really couldn’t stand them in this book.

7. The Naming by Alison Croggon- Good God, was this boring. All descriptions of the landscapes as the characters traveled. Snore….

8. Novellas by Elizabeth Gaskell- I couldn’t pick just one. I decided to read the novellas that the Cranford miniseries were based on- Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, My  Lady Ludlow, and The Moorland Cottage. All were dull as dishwater and I liked how they were done on the show better.

9. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkelez- Okay, I knew going into this that it was chick lit and I’m not into that genre at all. But most of the reviews I read acknowledged this and said they liked it anyway. I didn’t fall into that category. It was so cliched, cheesy, and stupid!

10. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett- I wanted to try some American hard-boiled mysteries as a change to my usual cozies. I didn’t like it at all! Maybe his other works are better?

Runners-Up- These were books that were disappointing but still not bad in general.

Incarceron/Sapphique by Catherine Fisher- What an inventive concept. A seemingly fantasy world that’s really a dystopian future with a living prison? But it ended up being disappointing. Nothing was ever explained!

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson- Based on just the first two books- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire. I’ve yet to read the third. The stories were interesting, but Stieg Larsson’s writing left a lot to be desired. Maybe something was lost in translation, but I doubt that’s the whole story. He seemed to feel the need to describe every single thing the characters did, whether or not it was relevant to the plot.

The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers- Just like with April Lady, this was a dud by an author I’m fond of. I love the Peter Wimsey series and all the various characters. But it was the characters in this that ruined it for me. The six murder suspects were practically interchangeable. It made no difference to me which was the murderer, because none stood out from the others in any way.

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey– A Victorian supernatural murder mystery. This book I think was meant more for the tween set. Like A Great and Terrible Beauty, the historical inaccuracies in this drove me insane! Actually I think in terms of characterization, it was fine, but simple things like the peerage and titles were constantly wrong wrong wrong! Every one in this book seemed to be an earl. Some of the titles seemed right, and then we get an earl named Lord Jasper. Yes, his first name. And the younger brother of an earl named Sir Wentworth….his last name. WTF???? All of this could have been easily fixed. The story could have appealed to me more if I was in middle school.

I’m Alive! Some Agatha Christie reviews…

26 Nov

Yes, I’m still here. I really miss updating this blog. The past couple weeks I’ve actually managed to read some books again! I actually reached my goal of 111 books this year already. I think I’m going to hold off on reading any new books until the new year so I can catch up on stuff for this year….maybe! Well, here’s an update. Sorry if you’re sick of Agatha Christie…but I’m not, so here’s what I thought of the books I read in the last few months.

The Moving Finger- Someone is sending nasty anonymous letters in a little village. One of the letters supposedly drives a woman to suicide. This is a Miss Marple novel but she’s not in it a whole lot. The narrator, a newcomer to the village, tries to do some sleuthing on his own, but obviously doesn’t quite get it. This is another favorite of mine. I always seem to love the Miss Marple novels. I just seem to really like the casts of characters in the small village settings. I don’t think I solved it, but I don’t remember! My Rating: 10/10

Towards Zero- A Superintendent Battle novel. An old woman is murdered and her nephew is the obvious suspect but everything is not as it seems. I liked the idea behind this story but there were some little side-plots that I felt were thrown in and didn’t really fit. I solved this one. Too easy. My Rating: 7/10

Death Comes as the End- Really different from all Christie’s other novels- this one’s set in ancient Egypt. Really interesting concept and well-done, in my opinion. I do prefer her contemporary novels but this was neat for a change. A man brings a new young concubine home and she ends up dead. Then other family members stop dying. Is it her ghost seeking revenge? I don’t think I guessed this one either until very close to the end when it was almost too late! My Rating- 8/10

Sparkling Cyanide- A reworking of her short story, “Yellow Iris.” A woman is poisoned at a dinner party and her husband seeks to recreate the events a year later. This one has a totally different conclusion and features Colonel Race instead of Poirot. I preferred “Yellow Iris” to this, actually. I liked the new twist but Colonel Race really failed as a detective and that was a big let-down for me. I didn’t solve it either. I got so good at guessing after a while but I guess that couldn’t last! My Rating- 7/10

The Hollow- Country house party….Poirot stops by to visit just as a man falls over dead from a gunshot wound. Is it his wife, standing over the body with a gun? This was another good one because of how you got to see in the characters’ heads. No one’s actions seemed to make sense until you find out the solution, which…I did guess! My Rating- 9/10

The Labors of Hercules- Poirot’s friend tries to tell him that he should spend his time reading the classics instead of solving mysteries. True to his name, he somehow stumbles upon mysteries that recreate the labors of Hercules. This was a series of short stories that varied in terms of quality. Some were pretty good, others were kinda boring. My Rating- 7/10

Taken at the Flood- A family patriarch dies in the Blitz but his new young wife miraculously survives….before he has written a new will. She is left with everything and his family is struggling because they had been dependent on him. Then some people die, but not necessarily who and why you would think. Really confusing book! I was completely wrong on everything. I also found one part of the ending really disturbing.  My Rating- 8/10

Sadly my ability to review these books went down since I waited so long!

Agatha Christie- N or M?, The Body in the Library, Five Little Pigs

29 Jul

N or M?- The third Tommy and Tuppence novel. They’re middle-aged in this one, set during WWII, and feeling useless. They jump at the chance to do some spying to help in the war effort. They have to track two spies, N (man) and M (woman) at an inn. I thought it was cute to see an older Tommy and Tuppence, but the book was nothing special.

Solved it? I guessed M, which was rather obvious, but not N.

My Rating: 6/10

The Body in the Library- The third Miss Marple book. The body of a bleach blonde young girl is found in Miss Marple’s friends, the Bantrys’ library. I absolutely loved the first two Miss Marple books and while I liked this one, it paled in comparison to those two.

Solved it? No…I had my own theory all worked out but it was no good.

My Rating: 8/10

Five Little Pigs- Carol Crale seeks Poirot’s help. Her mother was convicted of killing her father sixteen years previously and died in prison. She sent her daughter a letter insisting on her innocence. Poirot interviews everyone involved in the case to find the real culprit. I really enjoyed this book and its somber feel.

Solved it? Yeah, I was right on track with Poirot and picking out the clues!

My Rating: 10/10

Georgette Heyer Reviews- Death in the Stocks, These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub

29 Jul

Death in the Stocks- A man is found dead, locked in the stocks on a village green. It turns out he was a jerk and just about everyone he knew had motive to kill him. Georgette Heyer’s mysteries aren’t as intricately plotted as Agatha Christie’s, nor are her characters as well-drawn as Dorothy L. Sayers’s, but I still find them enjoyable. They have the same comedic, charming quality as her Regencies. This one was no exception- very light-hearted and funny, despite being about a murder. The victim’s younger half-siblings and their whacky antics in this were hilarious. It’s not something to turn to if you’re looking for deep and meaningful material, but it’s still a fun book. My Rating: 8/10

These Old Shades- This is one of her earliest works, set in the Georgian era. It’s a reworking of a lot of the characters from The Black Moth, which she wrote as a teen. The title refers to the characters being “shades” from that book.The hero in this book, Justin Alistair, the Duke of Avon, is a reworking of the villain from The Black Moth, a “bad” man past forty. The heroine, Leonie, is a nineteen year old girl who has lived as a boy since she was twelve. I was pleasantly surprised by this book because, frankly, my expectations were very low. The age difference was a bit squicky but I still found it amusing and fun. My Rating: 7/10

Devil’s Cub-This is actually a sequel of sorts to These Old Shades, dealing with Leonie and Justin’s son, Dominic, the Marquis of Vidal, a man even wilder than his father had been. Vidal is sent to France to avoid scandal after killing a man in a duel. He is determined to take Sophia Challoner, a girl he’s infatuated with, along to be his mistress. Mary Challoner, determined to save her sister from ruin, goes in Sophia’s place to try to trick Vidal, but he makes her go. I actually liked this book in the beginning, but it quickly went downhill for me. Vidal’s taking Mary because any slut would do for him and then repenting once she shot him and he realized she was actually respectable actually didn’t bother me that much because it’s not meant to be taken seriously. But I never bought into the romance. The characters didn’t even interact enough for me to buy their falling in love. And seriously, how terrible were Leonie and Justin as parents if their son ends up even worse than Justin was??? My Rating: 6/10