Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Short Stories I

I've been on kind of a short story kick for a while.  I avoided them for some time, but most of the time I like being able to devour these shorts in such a, well, short time.  Here are the ones I've read recently (and I'm being pretty loose in my use of the word recently, as some of these are from last year...).  Also, is anyone else so stingy that the thought of paying $3.00 or really anything for short stories is painful?  Let's just say, I prefer the free ones.  And those that aren't?  Thank you, library, for having them available.

Double Crossed by Ally Carter
Absolutely loved this.  I adore Ally Carter's series and seeing the two collide was so fun.  This was the perfect kind of story, too.  A short story should pretty much have an arc all its own and this one was wonderful.  It was perfect for devouring in one sitting and feeling satisfied.  Can't wait for more from this author!

Among the Nameless Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I enjoyed this short as well, though I think it left me a bit confused.  I liked seeing where Kai was when he left, but it didn't feel quite like a full story.  There was a lot of new stuff and not a lot of page time to explain it.  Still, I loved the book it went with enough to love this as well.

The New World by Patrick Ness

It has been ages since I finished the Chaos Walking trilogy, but this one has been sitting in my reader and I wanted to give it a try.  I felt like I was able to fall right back into Ness' world without any kind of refresher.  I loved seeing how Violet got there and what it must have been like.  Makes me want to do a reread.

The Spring Before I Met You AND The Summer Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan

I'm lumping these two together, since they are from the same series.  I liked them a lot, mostly because of Brennan's fabulous writing, though I also thought the idea of seeing our two main characters from the POV of an outsider was interesting.  Fun stories, though not necessarily in the content (both were a bit heavy). 

Neverfall by Brodi Ashton
I thought this was rather an essential story to read for the whole trilogy to make sense.  I read it right before the last book and I think it made Cole a lot easier to understand.  His motivations and a bit of his history.  A nice addition to the series.

Life Before Legend by Marie Lu
I think I would have liked this more if I'd read it closer to when I read the second book.  Or maybe even the first.  I have to admit I had forgotten a lot of the story.  Even now, trying to remember the last book in the series, I'm drawing a blank.  I know I liked it, but I seem to have forgotten why...

Roar and Liv AND Brooke by Veronica Rossi
These two were both wonderful looks at some of my favorite side characters (well, Brooke wasn't a favorite, but her story was still interesting).  I loved seeing more of Roar and Liv and what it must have been like for Roar to lose her.  They were both rather painful reads and I think they make sense when both of them are read close together.  We see a lot about Brooke and possibly some motivation for her actions.  Loved them!

UnStrung by Neal Shusterman
This one was definitely important for me to read before I got to the third book.  I think it makes that one seem less like it's out of the blue.  I'm still not sure how I feel about short stories that are kind of required to enjoy the series.  Still, this one was a full story and it was beautiful and heart-breaking.  Definitely vital for more understanding of UnSouled

Isolation by Dan Wells
This was an interesting short story about Heron and I found it both intriguing and a little bit hard to follow.  It jumps back and forth in time and I didn't like that sometimes.  But I thought the story definitely made Heron make a LOT more sense in learning more about her history.  Good to read before Ruins.

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
First, I felt this was just the right length for a short story.  Most of these have been, though some felt a little too short :)  I loved seeing more of our "heroes" and just what it must have been like in the aftermath of the first book.  I don't know if it's essential for the next one, but I sure liked getting more story in the meantime.

Any favorite short stories you have found?  What's your favorite kind of short story?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Classic Double Challenge: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain AND The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Publication date: 1876
Pages: 209 (my kindle edition)
Source: Free e-book
For: Classic Double Challenge

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 2014
Pages: 224
Source: ARC from the author
For: Classic Double Challenge (and review)

Summary of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (TS) from goodreads:
From the famous episodes of the whitewashed fence and the ordeal in the cave to the trial of Injun Joe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is redolent of life in the Mississippi River towns in which Twain spent his own youth. A somber undercurrent flows through the high humor and unabashed nostalgia of the novel, however, for beneath the innocence of childhood lie the inequities of adult reality—base emotions and superstitions, murder and revenge, starvation and slavery.
Summary of The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher (BT) from goodreads:
In 1860, eleven-year-old Becky Thatcher is the new girl in town, determined to have adventures like she promised her brother Jon before he died. With her Mama frozen in grief and her Daddy busy as town judge, Becky spends much of her time on her own, getting into mischief. Before long, she joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas, and Becky convinces her new best friend, Amy Lawrence, to join her.

Becky decides that she and Amy need a bag of dirt from a bad man’s grave as protection for entering the Widow's house, so they sneak out to the cemetery at midnight, where they witness the thieving Pritchard brothers digging up a coffin. Determined to keep her family safe (and to avoid getting in trouble), Becky makes Amy promise not to tell anyone what they saw.

When their silence inadvertently results in the Widow Douglas being accused of the graverobbery, Becky concocts a plan to clear the Widow’s name. If she pulls it off, she might just get her Mama to notice her again and fulfill her promise to Jon in a most unexpected way . . . if that tattle-tale Tom Sawyer will quit following her around.
Things I Liked About TS:
It is nice to read classics now and again, because books are (mostly) not written like this anymore (ok, maybe just the books I usually read).  I love the language and the way stories are told, things are more implied it seems and there is more flowery description.  Tom was a fun character, I love his self-pitying feelings and his mischievous side and the way his mind worked.  There are a number of iconic scenes like the white washing of the fence and going to their own funerals that are just such great stories it's impossible not to smile about them. 

Things I Liked About BT:
I thought this was a really fun way to retell Tom Sawyer.  Lawson has kind of flipped the story on its head and imagined what it might be like to have Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) seeing real people and writing them into a story, but getting things all muddled up.  I love how Tom and Sid are pretty well switched up.  Even though this kind of bothered me at first, it was fairly humorous.  Also, I loved Becky.  She was a handful and her adventures, as a girl in that time, were so great.  She let us see just what girls could do and what they did even if they weren't supposed to.  And it was nice to see a friendship with Amy in the story too.  It was a clever plot and I liked it.

Things I Didn't Like About TS:
It did feel kind of disjointed, like the story was just a bunch of funny vignettes cobbled together with very little transition.  Don't get me wrong, I love the stories, but there wasn't much connecting them together except the same old Tom.  He doesn't change much over the course of the book either, just does a lot of funny kid things and stays pretty much the same.

Things I Didn't Like About BT:
At times it really stretched belief.  I mean, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is kind of a story that stretches believability, but Becky Thatcher made it even more of a stretch.  Her time in the cave with the bandits was just too much for me.  Also, I was a bit bothered at first, as I mentioned, with the mixing up of characters and story and details.  But, I ended up liking how Mark Twain would have seen and heard all of this and mixed it up for his own writing fun.  Great retelling!

Sometimes it reminded me (maybe because of the title) of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lord of the Rings Read-Along, Part 1

Check out the first discussion post at Kami's Library Thoughts.  Here are my answers to the questions (from Book 1, the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring).  

1. Is this your first time reading or a re-read? What do you think so far?

It's a reread for me, though it's probably been 10 years since my last time through. I'm enjoying remembering all the details I forgot after sort of replacing them with the movie. 

2. Jenni hates the songs, I love them. How do you feel about them?

Some I love and some are annoying. I like having a tune to some of them, which I can thank the movies for taking quite a few and putting them to music. The silly ones are somewhat annoying and can simply be skipped. 

3. The Hobbits live a simple and peaceful life. Tolkien considered himself a hobbit. How about you? Do you relate to the hobbits, or would you be another race?

Oh I love the hobbit habits! I'd love to live in the country and do quiet living. I think it sounds like the best way to exist, especially the part about just being so protected from the evils outside. I think I would enjoy that. It always breaks my heart when Frodo (or Sam?) talks about enduring anything so long as the shire is safe. Course, I also wouldn't mind being a gorgeous and graceful and powerful elf. Like Galadriel maybe :)

4. What are some differences between the movie and book that you like?

I do think the director was smart to cut lots of the details from the books.  Also the pacing would definitely have dragged in the movie. I forgot how long it took just for Frodo to leave, let alone make it to Rivendell!

5. What are some differences you hate?

Mostly the differences I hate are in later books. I think changing characters motivations and actions was the saddest (Faramir). I did miss the barrows too - that was such a creepy scene and would have been really great cinematically. Oh well :)

6. Why do you think the ring didn't work on Tom Bombadil?

I think it's because, as he said, he is Eldest. Meaning he's been around long enough to have predated the ring and Sauron.  Thus, his power is older I guess.  I also think that just like there people that weren't as drawn to taking the ring and seizing its power, if you perhaps don't feel drawn to its power at all, it would have no power over you. Just my thoughts :). 

7. How do you feel about Frodo selling Bag End, especially to the Sackville-Bagginses?

I had forgotten that, but I think he had to for the exit Frodo was trying to make. It does make you a bit sad, but I think it turns out well in the end :)

8. What do you think about Tolkien's writing style? 

It's definitely old-fashioned. He tends to the long winded and rambling descriptions of places and scenery.  I like that most of the time. It helps that I know what's going to happen so that I don't feel rushed for the story. Plus, who writes all those crazy songs in their books now? :)

9. Do you picture the actors from the movie in your head, or do you picture your own characters?

I wasn't much of a character picture-er kind of person, but I very much see the movie actors now. I'm always a little thrown though when I remember Frodo was a fat middle-aged hobbit and not young thin Elijah Wood :) 

10. Jenni wanted me to ask about Tom Bombadil. She hates him, I enjoy him. How do you feel about him?

I love Tom! I remember he was one of my favorites from before and I was mad he didn't make the movie (though it was better without him). He is so strange and unique and just one of those quirky characters that only Tolkien could have created. Plus he is this weird juxtaposition of silly and powerful. Just a very intriguing character to me. 

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Classic Double Challenge Link-Up for May

Sign up for the Classic Double Challenge.

Link up with any reviews/thought posts you've done or will do in May (or really any time, it doesn't matter)!  Still haven't reviewed Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.  Must. Get. It. Done.  How's everyone else doing? Haven't seen many reviews...

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lord of the Rings Read-Along!

I'm just now getting my post up about this, but I'm super thrilled to be joining in Jenni Elyse and Kami's Lord of the Rings Read-Along!  It's definitely time for me to read this series again.  Here's the schedule, and drop on by Jenni Elyse or Kami's blogs to sign up.

  • Fellowship of the Ring (Book 1): May 1 to May 15
  • Fellowship of the Ring (Book 2): May 16 to May 31
  • The Two Towers (Book 3): June 1 to June 15
  • The Two Towers (Book 4): June 16 to June 30
  • The Return of the King (Book 5): July 1 to July 15
  • The Return of the King (Book 6): July 16 to July 31

  • If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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