Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente

Tweet Synopsis: One part Alice, one part Peter, three parts Grimm, two parts Lang, dash of modern, sprinkle of big words all adds up to this book #vocablesson #modernfairytale

Why Did I Pick It Up: It's been on my to read list since it came out with rave reviews. I've checked it out no fewer than four times and never got to it before I felt guilty that I'd had it so long. This time I was determined to read it and keep going.

The Good: This book combines so many of my favorite stories and genres it is almost overwhelming. There are these definite hints toward Alice, Peter, and Oz, not to mention a modernized blend of Grimm and Lang. The book reads like a fairy tale, which everyone says, but it is true. Original fairy tales are rare anymore and this one is definitely one for the bookshelves. 

September is a great character, she is brave, but unsure, and we feel all of that. There is good emotional development between September and everything around her. I could have learned more about her, but character development isn't a big stressor in a children's novel. 

Fairy Land is a magical place, and I don't mean that as a cliche. It is build and described, I feel like I could picture it in my mind. I could map out their journey. I've explored Fairy Land with all five senses and, since I didn't eat anything, I was able to survive and come out the other side. Really magical. 

I think my favorite description scene is with Lye and the bathhouse. Incredible visuals and depth to the scene.

The Bad:
Thoughts from early on:
Wow, let me just say I'm a mere 50 pages into this book and the complexity is killing me. It isn't the storyline, it is really a mix of a couple of tales from the Blue Fairy Book, with a dash of Grimm, all set in a strange Wonderland. No, it is the language and sentence structure. Are we sure this book is written for children? There are 4-5 words in every chapter that I don't even know ... I mean, I can assume what they mean from the context, but I don't know how to pronounce them. 

Do we really expect children to read these books? Are children reading these books? I would think they'd be great read-alouds to older elementary kids, but you'd have to be really prepared with great pronunciation skills, be a master linguist, or not be embarrassed to make things up. However, you're probably preparing your children for Harvard by reading these aloud and peppering their lexicon with ten-dollar words. 

Thoughts after I finished:
This gets better as time goes on. I don't know if as a reader I got used to the crazy big/rare words and complexity of the structure, or if it fades after a little time. However, by the middle of the book I wasn't even noticing those things anymore. In the end the idea of who is interested in this book is still valid. I don't know who to recommend this book for. 

The Ugly: 
I really struggled to finish this book. It wasn't that it was boring or that I wasn't interested, because I really did enjoy the story, but it was still a struggle. Part of this has to do with the fact that it moves slowly. Every moment of every day is described. This is a choice the author made, I don't like it. There were so many characters with such unique names. It isn't that I couldn't keep them separate in my mind, but more that I never felt like I really got to "know" the characters because we were always moving on. I was almost relieved when I finished the book. I was staring to avoid reading by watching more television and, hello people, television rots your brain :)

Who will love this book? 
Young, strong readers who love fantasy will like this, cult lovers of Coreline will like this book. Lovers of fairy tales, especially classic fantasy (Alice, Peter) and magical tales (Grimm and Lang) will enjoy this book. Moms looking for a fun read-aloud could really enjoy this, if they have the vocal skills to represent the book. 

How much did I like it?  7.5/10

Will I read more? Probably not

Bingo: 2015: Book with a 6+ Word Title 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Ruby Red

by Kerstin Gier

Tweet Synopsis: Gwen wasn't supposed to inherit the time traveling gene, but it makes for a great story #gideonisdreamy #havetoreadthenextone

Book Review: The Night Circus

Let me just begin by saying, I don't typically love books like this. I like books with great characters and quick moving plots. This book has great characters, intricately woven scenes, all of your senses are thrilled in this story ... but the plot moves slow. This isn't a reason to dislike the book, for every person who doesn't like the beautiful imagery and sluggish plot, there are four more who loved it and want more. However, if you pick this book up and read it just because I suggested it and you like other books I read, you might be disappointed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read it - just be forewarned.

Tweet Synopsis: The circus doesn't open until dusk - but this magical place is just a setting for a competition that no one really knows about #magical #enchanting

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: Flutter

by Gina Linko

Tweet Synopsis: Emery is having seizures but she might be traveling into the future then there is a boy, and her father #messy

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy 2015!

As is fitting for the start of a new year, I'm posting this years' 2015 Book Bingo! Do you want to participate? Just copy, borrow/steal the reading bingo below and play along! Post your progress on this link throughout the year!

In addition to my BINGO goals, I've set my book goal for the year at 50 books (just shy of one a week) and you can set your own goal at Good Reads

Last Bingo Update 2014

Wow, has it ever been a year! Some of these BINGO squares were SO much harder than I anticipated, especially because I put them off until the end. I would say I was totally successful, but there are some picture books there in the end. Oh well, there is always this year :)

A Book with a Blue Cover
2. Leader's Eat Last by Simon Sinek
A Book of Non-Fiction
A Book with a One Word Title
A Book You Heard About Online
A Book with a Mystery
A Book by a Female Author
A Book Written by an Author Under Thirty
A Book with More than 500 Pages
The Second Book in a Series
A Book with Non-Human Characters
A Book that Scares You
A book published this year
A book your friend loves
A book from the bottom of your 'to-read' pile
not a part of Bingo
not a part of Bingo
A book that became a movie
A book of short-stories
A Best-Selling Book
First book by your favorite author
21. The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
not a part of Bingo
A book set on another continent
23. The Velveteen Rabbit 
A forgotten classic
24. The Golden Compass
A book that is more than 10 years old
25. Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos
A Funny Book
26. The Hueys in None the Number by Oliver Jeffers
A book with a number in the title
27. Awaken
A book based on a true story (okay, a stretch, but it is based on the Persephone myth)
28. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
Free Square
29.  Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
not a part of Bingo
30. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
not a part of Bingo