Thursday, August 29, 2013

And Then There Were None

by Agatha Christie
published: Berkley Books, 1991 (first published
pages: 204

Ten people who have never met are invited to Indian Island by a mysterious host.  None of them knew that they would meet a cruel fate. Shortly after arriving, people begin to die according to the an old nursery rhyme.  As the tension and fear rises, each person tries to figure out who the murderer is before they become the next victim.

Once again, Agatha Christie threw me for a loop.  She always manages to surprise me, even to the very end.  I've said it before, I love trying to figure out the mystery before the book does, but I was stumped.  At one point, I was willing to believe that there was something supernatural at work.  I knew that wasn't the case, but I really had no idea.

I loved that so much of the story was based on a nursery rhyme, "Ten Little Indians".  It makes it creepy and at the same time exciting.  We knew how the next person was going to die, we just didn't know who it would be or when it would happen.  This kept me on my toes.

Rarely do I throw out the word brilliant, but this story itself was, well, brilliant.  All the characters were brought together because they were outside the law.  I thought this premise was incredible and some what understandable in a twisted vigilante justice way.

Each character justified themselves in different ways and went about trying to lay blame on others.  Their thought processes showed a lot of their character in a short period of time.  This book takes place over the span of two or three days, and we only know those characters for that long and yet, we know them.  These characters let their actions speak loudly.  I love that kind of characterization.

I shall be reading much more Agatha Christie in the near future.

Stars: 5/5


"The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating.  It is the most baffling mystery Agatha Christie has ever written."
--New York Times

"There is no cheating; the reader is just bamboozled in a straightforward way from the first to last.... The most colossal achievement of a colossal career.  The book must rank with Mrs. Christie's previous best- on the top notch of detection."
--New Statesman (UK)

"The most astonishingly impudent, ingenious and altogether successful mystery story since The Murder of Roger Ackroyd."
--Daily Herald (UK)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Memorable Secondary Characters

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter) - He will always and forever be my favorite secondary character.  His character development over the course of those seven books blows me away again and again.  I love that he comes into his own and is completely underestimated.

2. Tyson (Percy Jackson) - I wasn't sure about him when he first showed up in the series, but I have grown to love him and his eagerness and bravery.  His spirit in the books makes them all the more lovable. He's a great companion and an incredible character.

3. Sophie (I Am the Messenger) - She may not be in this book all that much, but she is by far one of my favorite characters.  Ed helps her come into her own.  We first see her as a very shy person, but then she disappears for a while and after a bit we see her again and something has changed about her.  I love that we only see part of her transformation and the rest is left to mystery.

4. Metias Iparis (Legend) - I love that he devoted so much of his life to raising and taking care of June.  She is the kind of person she is because he instilled in her core values that he knew to be true.  He worked hard and did his job well, questioned what needed to be questioned.

5. M (Warm Bodies) - M is the greatest best friend any zombie could hope to have.  He has a great sense of humor and a sense of camaraderie which is hard being that he is in fact a zombie.  Even when he doesn't understand R's reasons or motives, M is there, ready to do whatever needs to be done, no questions asked.

6. Simon Lewis (City of Bones)- Some might find him annoying, but I really enjoy that he is a constant norm for Clary in her crazy mixed up world.  He is nerdy and loves music, but also incredibly brave when he needs to be.

7. Finnick O'Dair (Hunger Games) -  I think his character is incredible.  He has so many secrets that he keeps under this playboy air that deceives everyone.  And at the same time, he loves fiercely and has great loyalty to those he cares about.

8. Tiny Cooper (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) - His name may be Tiny, but tiny he ain't.  He character by far outshines any other character.  He is absurd and beautiful, comical and serious and all encompassing.  I love this character. period.

9. The Ents (Lord of the Rings) - I just love the Ents.  All of them, I love that they basically talking trees, that they take care of the forest.  I think these characters are one of the most interesting characters that Tolkien created.

10.  Fred and George Weasley (Harry Potter) - This pair is about as dynamic as any pair of characters can be.  I love them, their humor, bravery, courage and loyalty, among so many other characteristics.  I mean who can resist a pair of lovable red-heads?

Friday, August 23, 2013

City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare
published: Simon Pulse, 2007
pages: 485

Clary Fray is a normal girl living in New York City, but when she starts seeing people and things that her friends can't, she goes looking for answers.  She meets Jace Wayland, a Shadowhunter -  warrior dedicated to destroying demons, and Clary's carefully balanced world turns completely upside down.  The answers to her questions bring trouble and all sorts of complications to her life. When her mom goes missing and she is attacked by a demon, Clary looks to Jace and his friends to help find her mom and figure out exactly why the demon attacked her.

I hesitated hugely when it came to reading this book.  I didn't really know much about it, other than it is part of a series and that there is a movie adaptation.  There were several people who told me that I would love the book and some that told me it wasn't worth the read.  However, I decided that I wanted to see the movie, so naturally I had to read the book first.  

I was completely sucked into this story from the get-go.  It is fast-paced and gripping the entire way through.  I liked the city setting; New York City meshes well with the pace of the story.  It's a perfect place for things to go unseen and unnoticed.

Some of my favorite characters are actually secondary characters.  Simon and Magnus hold the top places in my book.  Magnus' charm and wit are completely entertaining; I couldn't help but smile when he was in a scene.  As for Simon, his loyalty and determination to help earn him a top spot.  However, I did find some of the characters highly annoying at very inopportune times.  I thought Clary needed to stop and think a little bit more before rushing into situations she was not well equipt to take on.

 This book has a solid plot with great pacing, but the last twist at the end was really very unnecessary.  It  irritated me rather than strengthened the story.  It felt like the author purposely put that in there to frustrate the reader.  If I'm perfectly honest, I'm not sure it was all that believable either.  This story didn't need the further complications that came because of the twist.  Needless to say, it was a bit of a let down.

Despite my reservations, I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series and exploring the lives and the world of Clary and the Shadowhunters.

Stars: 3/5


"Clare's atmospheric is spot-on, informed equally by neo-gothic horror filmd and the modern fantasy leanings of Neil Gaiman... Fans of... Bufy the Vampire Slayer will instantly fall for this series."
     --Publishers Weekly

"Readers of urban fantasy will devour this deliciously overwrought adventure."
     --Kirkus Review

"This fast-paced fantastic thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make My Reading Life Easier

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. I love the Library! It is a money saver and, sometimes, a life saver.  Whenever I hear about a book that I decide I have to read, that's where I go first.

2. Goodreads is a really convenient place to keep track of the books that I'm reading.  And it's a great way to let others know what I'm reading and for me to find out what others are reading.

3. & 4. The Book blog and Booktube communities are awesome! I love reading reviews and seeing what other people are up to.  It helps me make decisions on which books I read.  Also, I love the conversations that happen in the comments.

5. I love bookmarks! This may sound like a given, but there was a time when I didn't use bookmarks.  I would either try to remember the page number or finish the chapter.  Mostly, I'd finish the chapter, probably because I'm a little OCD.  Now, I use bookmarks all the time; there are so many cool and fun bookmarks that I have way too many, but that's okay.

6. Summer has always made it easier to read, partially because I was always less busy and could read what I wanted without interference of classes. Even though I'm out of school now, I still feel like summer is somehow less busy.  In my mind, the word summer is a trigger to more free time and more reading time.

7. I take books with me everywhere.  You never know when you are going to have a few minutes, or a couple hours to spare.

8. I never travel anywhere without an audiobook or two.  I love listened to them in the car, especially on longer car rides.  It takes me back to my early years when people used to read me books.  Also, multitasking!

9. Friends with books are the second best thing, in my opinion, to a library.  Sometimes, it can be even better.  They recommend you a book and then lend it to you, what could be better!

10. A nice cup of tea and a good book is all I need to enjoy my leisure time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Notable Quotable: Erin Morgenstern (#19)

"Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasure and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words."
     --The Night Circus

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern
published: Anchor Books, 2012
pages: 512

Stars: 4/5

Le Cirque des Reves appears without warning and the magic begins.  Patrons come from all over to experience this unique and mysterious circus.  Little do they know, there is so much more at work behind the scenes.  Two young magicians have been raised to compete in a battle of skill and endurance, without knowledge of their opponent or the rules of the game.  The circus is their playground and before they know it the competition becomes more involved than they ever expected.  It is up to them to figure out how to end the game and who will win the title of champion.

The prose in this book alone is beautiful enough to keep reading Morgenstern's writing for the rest of my life.  It is elegant and enchanting, describing areas of the circus that I wish I could see in person.  The writing is poetic and poignant to the point that I would have been content with no plot connected to it.

However, the plot attached was equally beautiful and mysterious as the writing. The set up and the storytelling draws you in and immerses you in the world of the circus from inside the walls and from the outside visitor perspectives.  The jumps in time add to the ambiance of the story, allowing the more important details to be revealed in a different manner than they are actually played out.  It is as if the reader shares a gift and is able to read the story of the circus in whichever order we like.

I will say that there were a couple things left unexplained or under-explained.  I wish we knew more about "the challenge" that centered the main point of the story.  We get bits and pieces of it, but it is never really explained beyond the idea that it is more than what the characters thought it. And while the time jumps are a great addition to the novel, if you're not careful you'll lose track of what happens when and what stage the characters are at in their lives.  I had to pay close attention to that.

I really enjoyed diving into the beautiful circus world of Celia and Marco.  You can bet that I will be rereading this book in the future.


"Get ready to be won over.... Part love story, part fable, and a knockout debut.... So sparklingly alive, you'll swear the pages are breathing in your hands... The Night Circus defies both genres and expectations."
     --The Boston Globe

"[A] few [ages in...and you know you are in the presence of an extraordinary storyteller."
     --The Daily Beast

"Morgenstern's exquisitely realized world will have [you] wishing to run off and join the circus."
     --USA Today

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books set in England

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I have a weakness for books set in England, well, in all of Europe for that matter.  I love getting into the setting of books and for me there's no better place than England, whether it's current day or the past.  Here are some of my favorite books set in England.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - The first line alone is enough for me to love this story, but the romance and the characters are so wonderful.  They have me reading this book again and again.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (as well as all the others) - This is an obvious choice for me.  These books were my childhood, but this one in particular has always been one of my favorites.

3. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin - I love this fictionalize memoir of the girl who inspired the beloved tale of Alice in Wonderland.

4. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - This story is told in 24 hours which I think is unique and incredibly compelling.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - It's a boarding school story with a twist, what's not to love.

6. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - This English ghost story is haunting and entertaining at the same time.  The main characters and setting are enough to keep me coming back to this book.

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - While the circus travels all over the world, it keeps coming back to London.  I love that it is conceived there and shared with the world.

8. Emma by Jane Austen - Emma's meddling ways can get her into trouble, but as long as she is in England everything is okay.

9. Sherlock Holmes (all of them) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Who doesn't love a good murder mystery?

10. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff - This book is unique in that it tells a story of an American girl who gets caught in the thoroughfare of World War II with her cousins in England.  They have to figure out how to survive when the German's unexpectedly attack.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

by Rick Riordan
published: Disney Hyperion Books, 2006
pages: 279

Percy Jackson finds himself in the midst of adventure once more when Annabeth suddenly appears at his school on the last day of class.  They race off to Camp Half-Blood just in time to see that the camp is in danger.  It is up to them to find the only thing that can save the camp, the golden fleece.  Along the way, Percy meets new people and and discovers more about himself.  But how will he handle all this new information; will he use it to his advantage or let it get the best of him?

The characters in this book/series truly grow before my eyes.  Even though Percy and Annabeth are only a year older, they seem wiser and their friendship has grow closer.  The new characters are wonderful.  Tyson is one of my favorite characters, though he seemed like a very insignificant character at the beginning.

The world building that happens in this story is incredible.  We get to see more of the mythical world, and how the mist works on Percy and on mortals. (This mist is what conceals monsters and other mythical creatures and people from mortals.)  We meet new monsters and learn more about Greek mythology.  I think one of the coolest things about this series is that there are so many Greek myths recounted within the stories.  Percy gets ideas from them and takes their advice.  At the same time, these stories help build our own knowledge and that helps us understand Percy and Annabeth a little bit better.

Rick Riordan continues to be very impressive in this installment of Percy Jackson's adventures.  I am in love with Percy and his world.

Stars: 5/5


"In a feat worthy of his heroic subjects, Riodan crafts a sequel stronger than his compelling debut in this second adventure.  With humor, intelligence and expert pacing, the author uses this tale of believable teens and their high-stakes struggle to bring the mythical lore up to date."
     --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[A] fast and funny tale, full of action, wisecracks, and superhuman powers.  It's an entertaining retelling of Greek mysths and a good bet for adventure and fantasy fans as well as reluctant readers."

"Riordan settle into the classical world he's created, introducing new monsters and the Odyssean ruses to defeat them, and balancing intensity with humor throughout the clevely constructed adventure."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Wishful Sequels

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I'm one of those people who would be very happy if I got to know everything there is to know about every character I've ever read.  That being said, 9 times out of 10 I want a sequel.  I want to know what happens after the events and why people make the decision that they do and what consequences they have to deal with now.  So here are a few of the books that stick out in my mind right now.

1. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke - I would love to know if those children got into anymore trouble.  I have a feeling even Ida and Victor would take part again.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - I would like to see what happens to the new city, if the intellectuals can bring back the importance of knowledge and books at all.  That would be very interesting to me.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I want a sequel.  I want to see Darcy and Elizabeth happy and married and wonderful.  I know there are sequels out there, but I would have love for Jane Austen to give us some insight into their lives after marriage.

4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - This one might be a little bit cheating because we know a sequel is coming.  However, I want to know what happens to everyone now!  Patience is a virtue that sometimes I just don't have. 

5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - I really enjoy this book, but again, I want more! I would love to know how their relationship progressed especially because of the long distance aspect of it.  I think it would be an interesting story.

6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I would love to Scout as a grown woman, see how she grew up, what's happening in her life and how she is changing the world because we all know that the daughter of Atticus Finch will change the world.

7. The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller - This is one of those books that show nerdy people in a positive light and I would love to see how Maddie further embraces her nerdy self especially now that she has someone to be nerdy with.

8. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - I want more Tiny Cooper!

9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I would love to see where all these characters are after the this story.  It's such heavy and important subject, I'd like to see how they handle it after the fact.

10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I haven't finished this book yet, but I have a feeling that I'll be wanting more of these characters and this tale.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Notable Quotable: Erin Morgenstern (#18)

"I have listened to you read books aloud to my cats. When you were five years old you turned a laundry tub into a pirate ship and launched an attack against the hydrangeas in my garden."
     --The Night Circus

Friday, August 2, 2013

If I Stay

by Gayle Forman
Published: Speak, 2010 (first published 2009)
Pages: 262

Mia has a typical life, a loving family, great friends, a boyfriend that meant everything to her and a bright future.  She wasn't expecting the event that changed her life forever.  Now she's faced with the most important decision she will ever make, one that could, quite literally, mean life or death.

This story takes a look at life and death from a completely different take than the usual.  We are left to contemplate the idea that sometimes people do choose whether or not to live on, to continue fighting for life.

The poetic nature of the writing adds to the discussion.  There is a seamless flow to the letters, creating words, creating phrases, creating sentences, creating paragraphs, creating pages, creating this story.  The rhythm in all of this is very similar to the rhythm that Mia finds in her classical music, and any music really.  But there are also times when the story and her situation seem very edgy and sporadic, the way punk rock can sound sometimes.

I really enjoyed the music aspect of this story and how it brought people together, even if they were different styles of music.  It also threatened to tear people apart.  The ebb and flow of the music and it's connection to people played well with this story and the other themes present.  Gayle Forman masterfully weaves a compelling tragic story.  I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Stars: 4/5


"This book is a do-not-miss story of love, friendship, family, loss, control, and coping."
     --Justine magazine

"A poignant novel... reminiscent of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.  Forman is a master at creating memorable characters and at tugging the heartstrings enough to keep us turning the page as we sob our eyes out."
     --Buffalo News

"If I Stay throbs with Love and tragedy .  And the dilemma of choice.  Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives."
     --Sacramento Bee