Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

I've been debating how to review this book for weeks now. I really REALLY want to gush about how much I love this book because I really did love it. And yet, I'm restraining the gushing because I'm just not sure I'm in love.

My feelings toward this book remind me of that perfect guy you want to fall in love with - that you should fall in love with - but some unnameable lack of passion prevents you from ever being more than friends.  I've been pondering why I am not in love with The Maze Runner and the following is what I've concluded.  While James Dashner creates a new reality that is both fascinating and creative with characters who are well rounded and a story-line that is interesting and unique, he has left out one important aspect:


I'm not only talking about love between a guy and girl, but love in general - love for the brotherhood, love for the character who resembles your little brother,  love for your best friend, love for a high power.  He simply doesn't do anything with love.  The characters like eachother. They even build a comradarie that pulls you through their interactions in the book.  And yet, as great as comradarie is, it is always the love at the base of comraderie that holds a reader's attention.

James Dashner does try to throw love into the book a little, but the relationships he attempts are so ill-developed that when one of the characters doesn't make it to the end of the book, you don't mind and you certainly aren't in tears.

So while I liked this book A LOT and I wish I could say I loved it, I have to hold back because a hint of love is never the same as true love. And who really wants only a hint of love in their life?

My rating: 7- Great. This book is worth reading AND recommending.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

2. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

3. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Libraries

The Library has revoked my privileges. While many of you may jump to the conclusion that my delinquent self must have accomplished some great feat of mischievousness to have my library privileges suspended, it is in fact due to something infinitely less interesting and more frustrating.

Damascus has refused to pay taxes that will give their over burdened tax-payers access to the one of the few reliefs we have from this world - reading. Unfortunately for my reading addiction, I live in Damascus.

[Beware of rant to follow}

Honestly, when we pay some $5,000+ a year in property taxes (which is high even for Portland standards), they should bloody well include a library card. Not only am I outraged by this public service that we've been denied, but so are many others. The revolting decision to remove our library access was made by officials and nary a Damascus citizen consulted.

[Rant somewhat abated below]

I can easily continue on about politics and the deficiencies in our system, but I will be succinct and simply say that I'm disappointed that our city values reading and continued education so little that they are unwilling to pay the measly fee that would ensure that their people have access to the library.

Perhaps I'll stage a peaceful protest demanding our library rights back. I'm ready to grab my picket and start marching against this injustice, following the example of those written about in books I no longer have access to.

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. - John Adams

Monday, February 22, 2010

What are you reading?

Of course, my list of books to read is long and, really, never-ending, but it is always up for revision.

So I'm curious - what are you reading? Are you loving it? Hating it?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eva Ibbotson - Author Extraordinaire

Perhaps I'm a sucker for a good romance (minus the lusty aspects that seem to inhabit the pages of the typical romance novel), but I've recently fallen in love with Eva Ibbotson's romantic novels. I really cringe to call them romance novels because they're clean and full of sunshine. The heroine in each book is wholesome and a person you respect, if not wish to emulate. These ladies are the snow-whites of our world - the girls who you find meandering through forests with birds perched on their shoulders while singing a catchy tune.

While each of her books is filled with love and attraction, it is all the "superfluous" relationships that the character develops along the way that make these books worth reading.

Most of her books are set before or during WWI and WWII and I have to own up to a certain fascination with the events surrounding this time period (which is perhaps inherited from my mom who watched every discovery channel documentary she could find revolving around WWII).

One of the many things I love about these books is that Eva includes fascinating historical and geographical descriptions that transport you to a different time. Each of the stories read a bit like a Jane Austen novel - full of descriptive social customs and yet true to human nature.

I'm unable to choose a favorite from this set of books and in many ways, the books are so similar that it feels like you are reading the same book in different setttings with new characters. Which is why all the below books received one review and rating: 8- Holy Cow! This book rocks my socks off.

A Company of Swans -

A Countess Below Stairs -

A Song for Summer -

The Reluctant Heiress

I just started The Dragonfly Pool by Eva and I'm finding that I'm not loving it as much as her other novels. However, it will get its own review once I'm finished.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fire, by Kristin Cashore

I believe that I have fallen in love...

...with a book character's hair.

For those of you who know me in real life (which is probably all four of you lovely people who manage through my book blog simply because you love me so much), you know my obsession. Red Hair.

I would literally trade almost every possesion I own for red hair - bright flaming, natural, red hair. I tried dying my hair bright red once and I believe that I resembled a fire truck - which isn't quite what I intended.

However, Fire (the main character of the book) is my hair soul-sister. Her hair, the color of fire with various hues of reds, makes me burn with envy. Fortunately, since she's a book character, I can pretend that I'm her and that I have the stunningly gorgeous red hair.

Alas, while the flames of my fascination [is that a strong enough word for my undying love?] with red hair are fanned in this book, I believe that all readers will be equally captivated by Fire herself. She is daring, beautiful, caring, and every other attribute a good heroine should be. The book itself is incredibly well composed and, I believe, is even better than Graceling, Fire's companion novel.

Did I also mention that she's a kick-butt archeress?

My rating: Somewhere between "8 - Holy Cow! This book rocks my socks off." and "9 - Top 20 - this books tops the charts of my favorite books!"

[Why is it that I can never bring myself to give a book it's actual rating. It's always between this rating and that. I'll work on changing that - or maybe I'll create half-ratings as well!]

If you liked this book, you might also like:

1. A Countess Below Stairs, by Eva Ibbotson

2. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

3. The Host, by Stephanie Meyer

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Extras, by Scott Westerfeld

The Uglies series is redeemed. Although, I have to laugh a little at myself because of the rating I gave this series on Shelfari.

I am an emotional person. I make decisions based on my emotions. I view life through the lens of my emotions. This also means I rate books under the effect of these same frustratingly unpredictable emotions. Under the influence of said feelings, I gave Uglies a 5 on Shelfari, Pretties a 5, and Specials a 3. Why? Because I was just so disappointed in the ending Scott bestowed on Specials.[You can read my review here]

Perhaps other Scott Westerfeld fans were equally enraged as I was. Perhaps Scott's editors decided that people like happy endings. Perhaps Scott is a genius and had planned all along for that fourth book to conclude the series well. Whatever the reason, Extras is like a well paired wine to a decadent dessert; combined, the flavors are heavenly.

This is indeed fortunate for Scott's rating on my Shelfari.

As a whole, the series is delightful. I'm surprised that I enjoyed Extras to the extent that I did as the main character is not our heroic Tally-la, but another equally exciting and intriguing Aya Fuse. Her sweet mischieviousness and her fun relationship with Frizz swept me along their crazy and adventurous discoveries. The characters are just as fun as their names and they captivate the reader immediately. What's more is that I love how Scott gives you a new setting that has fun Japanese-styled cultural additions.

So Scott, I rescind my dislike of Specials and have wholly embraced this beautiful series. Thank you for not leaving Tally alone and depressed. Thank you for giving her a future. And thanks for giving me the fun of meeting Aya Fuse.