To Read or Not to Read?

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

I’d like to start off this book review by briefly talking about a Netflix show.

Last year my fiance and I binge watched this Netflix show called Stranger Things. I really, really liked it. And then season two came out this October and I became even more obsessed. The actors and actresses are just brilliant (finally great acting and kids that look like kids instead of air brushed models!) and the story line is just fun. After watching the second season I also watched the commentary series and looked at fun Buzzfeed articles and I also may have bough an “ugly Christmas sweater” and a scarf with the alphabet and Christmas lights on it from season one. I’m not crazy I promise. (Actually, I might be. Who knows.)

Anyways, this all brings me to now. After watching all that I could and even considering rewatching season one I decided to look up lists of books that Stranger Things fans should read because in this day and age there are always lists like that. That’s where I stumbled upon Paper Girls, a graphic novel I had actually already heard about before.

And yes it does kind of have that Stranger Things vibe to anyone else who is a crazy obsessed fan of that show. This too stars a group of teens in the late 80s with their poofy hair and their fun denim. They are also often seen with their bicycles and walkie talkies. And then science fictiony things starts to happen.

The bad thing is that graphic novels are short and kind of have to have a different focus than TV so instead of getting some more insight into the characters and really getting to know them we are almost immediately throw into weird thing after weird thing. There are so many confusing things that start happening and with really no sign of an explanation by the end of volume one which was a little jarring. I will definitely be continuing on with Paper Girls, Volume 2 but I’m hoping to get to know the girls more (there are four of them and I honestly can’t remember the names of them all or who is who) and I’d like some answers. Please?

 

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To Read or Not to Read?

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

I feel very out of step with all of my friends and the reviewers that I follow on Goodreads because the vast majority of them gave The Book Thief 5 stars and yet I struggled to get through it. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it weren’t the book I chose for my book club.

Normally I love historical fiction, especially in regards to Nazi Gemany and yet I couldn’t get into this even though the description talking about the time period and how much it centers around words sounded fantastic and right up my alley.

The narrator being Death and the format of the actual book pages didn’t work for me. The constant newspaper style page breaks were annoying and jarring and a lot of the information found in the center aligned, bold faced type either didn’t need to be there at all or should have been incorporated into the actual text on the page instead of jumping out and bringing me out of the story with it.

At first I liked Death as a narrator but then I started feeling as though his voice was just too impartial. It was like reading about humans from the perspective of someone who doesn’t understand humans, which is more or less how Death described himself, but that made me feel like I was too far removed from the characters. It was like someone looking on the scene from afar and then reporting on it. That made me feel like I didn’t get to know them and so I didn’t really care that much. And since there were so many things I didn’t like about the book it felt as though it dragged on forever and it made my brain hurt.

I do feel as though, if the formatting would have been a bit different and that if the story would have been told from another point of view I would have liked it much more.

Now clearly other people really loves it so obviously this is a case of it’s not the book, it’s me.

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Reread. Book 6, Post 3.

My thoughts on finishing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the fifth or sixth(?) time. Reviewing pages 446-652.

  • Harry finally realizes that Draco is disappearing into the Room of Requirement. I know he’s kind of dimwitted sometimes but shouldn’t he have thought of the Room of the Requirement earlier considering the fact that he basically lived in it the previous year? I’m sure Hermione would have thought of it if she’d cared enough to think on it.
  • The scene where Harry takes the Lucky Potion so he can retrieve Slughorn’s memory always makes me giggle and think of the movie. Daniel Radcliffe did a good job in that scene in the movie.
  • We finally see Slughorn’s real memory of his Horcrux conversation with Riddle. I’m not sure why Dumbledore seemed to think they needed this memory? It honestly didn’t tell Dumbledore anything new. He already suspected that Riddle had made Horcruxes and the whole diary and ring thing already told him he’d made more than one…
  • The chapter where Harry nearly kills Draco and then starts dating Ginny. It’s kind of a whirlwind chapter and honestly, this is where Rowling sets up Draco for a redemption arc that never really happens and I’m so disappointed. Harry has been obsessed with the kid from the beginning and he pops up pretty dramatically in every book and he ends up being a somewhat important part of book seven but I just wish Rowling had expanded more on it. It would have been perfect and would have kind of paralleled Snape’s arc.
  • I reread the Dumbledore and Harry going after Slytherin’s locket with such trepidation. I just find it so sad and heartfelt when Dumbledore goes all “I am not worried, Harry…I am with you.” And I may have cried. (I definitely cried.)
  • And then the ending which I read more quickly than the whole rest of the book since it’s just hit after hit. Dumbledore and Draco, Snape killing Dumbledore, Bill’s attack, the funeral. So many emotions.
  • The promise that Ron and Hermione will stay with him throughout it all is also kind of emotional given that I know how that will go.
Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Book 6 Reread. Post 2.

My thoughts while rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pages 217-446.

  • I still don’t get the whole Hermione cheating to ensure that Ron gets a place on the Quidditch team. Sure she has a crush on him and all but using a charm on another seems so wrong.
  • Once again something from a previous book comes back to haunt the characters. This time it’s that Muggle killing opal necklace from way back in book two. So clever.
  • The start of Harry’s crush on Ginny. I kind of wish it would have started because he noticed her doing something awesome during Quidditch practice instead of it all being centered around jealousy at seeing her kissing someone else.
  • I know Rowling has Hermione and Ron behaving badly and jealously around one another because their “in love” and all that but I don’t like it all. I think it just goes to show that their relationship would never actually work out. It’s not actually cute for the boy to always be pulling the girls pigtails and vice versa.
  • Hermione wants to get back at Ron for going out with Lavender so she goes out with Cormac who has already proven himself to be a jerk. Of course this is a bad idea but what I don’t like is that she approaches Harry to tell him she’s only just got away from Cormac. She makes it sound like he was accosting her under the mistletoe and Harry insinuates that she deserves it because she asked Cormac out. Um, victim blaming much Harry?
  • We finally hear the word Horcrux, a word which will haunt us until the very end. (See what I did there?)
  • I do like how we end up learning a reason as to why Harry always has a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher every year. Though I think it’s super petty of Voldemort to have cursed the position just because Dumbledore wouldn’t give it to him. That seems out of character. Or maybe not. He does have a Hogwarts obsession.
Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

30 Favorites: Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. Today I turn *gasp* 30 years old. So I figured I’d make a list of my thirty favorite books, in no particular order.

1-7: The 7 books in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

8: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

9: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10-12: The first 3 books in the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers

13: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

14: Between by Jessica Warman

15-16: Garden Spells and First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

17: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

18: The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

19: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

20: The Friday Society by Adreinne Kress

21: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

22: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

23: Alienated by Melissa Landers

24: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

25: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

26: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

27: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

28: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

29: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

30: Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

 

To Read or Not to Read?

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I’ve had Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist on my radar for quite a few years now, originally because I was interested in the movie that came out in 2008. But I kept not watching the movie and I kept not reading the book until finally in August of 2017 I grabbed the book off of the library shelf, basically because I knew it was stand-alone and because it was short. And now that I’ve read it…well it didn’t take me very long to read but I still wish I had just watched the movie and been done with it.

First of all, Levithan seems to have issues with capturing the voice of a teenager. Now I’m not saying teens all have to sound stupid and use slang, etc. like a lot of authors think but Levithan takes it the other way. I’ve read four books that he’s worked on and each character sounds like a pretentious asshole who has swallowed a thesaurus and loves to hear the sound of their own voice. At least in Dash & Lily they were book nerds and I understood most of their literary references but Nick and Norah are music aficionados. I like listening to music but I don’t “get” it like they do so a lot of references went over my head.

And what was even more annoying about the tone of the narrators is that they both sounded exactly the same. Nick is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s in a band. Norah is the privileged daughter of a music exec style father. They should haven’t basically had the same voice! They were both full of themselves, first obsessed with their exes and then with each other even though the novel only takes place over the course of one evening, and they both cursed up a storm and made constant stupid references and went on and on about nothing. Considering that the book is under 200 pages there shouldn’t be rambling.

Oh and along with the rambling there’s excessive cursing. I’m okay with cursing, I’ve been known to drop an “f bomb” myself but, in my opinion, cursing should primarily be used for strong emotions and emphasis. Nick and Norah are like kids who have been told they’re never to use naughty words and so as soon as they’re on their own they use as many as they can. One of Nick’s chapters has a five sentence paragraph and the f-word is used seven times. Ridiculous.

Basically I just really hated the characters and so there was no chance that I was going to come out liking this book. They annoy me so much I can’t even think about what else I disliked about the plot, etc.

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Book 6 Reread. Post 1.

Here are my thoughts on rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pages 1-216.

  • I always take the dust jacket off to read a book if I can just because it makes it easier without the whole flapping of cover going on. (I kind of hate that about very large library books. I get that the cover needs to have glossy protection and not come off but sometimes that gaping flappy thing that goes on is so annoying.) Anyways…Half-Blood Prince has the best cover color combination under that dust jacket. Purple and black are so pretty together! And it’s definitely a witchy/Halloweeny color combination.
  •  I like how the last couple books start with scenes outside of Harry’s perspective. It gives us more of an idea of how the wizarding world works. In this case we get to see how the Ministry interacts with the Muggle world and then we get to see more of Snape outside of school. Very interesting.
  • Dumbledore making himself at home at the Dursleys house and trying to teach them manners is just delightful! And I’m glad Harry (and the reader) get right into the information what with the Slughorn visit which, for those of us who have read this before, ends up being particularly important.
  • This book just makes me love the Weasley twins more and the scene in their joke shop makes for some lightheartedness that the book definitely needs.
  • And Harry’s Draco Malfoy obsession continues. I mean, we end up finding out Harry’s suspicions were correct in the most part but still…stop stalking your classmates Potter. It’s weird.
  • Snape finally gets the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. I should have known something like this would happen the first time I read it since we had to make it so Harry could continue with Potions and become an Auror.
  • The Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book. Obviously a very important part of the plot line but still seems so odd that Harry just randomly does everything it says including reciting invented spells from it. And he also doesn’t recognize the handwriting (which I guess kind of make sense…I know my handwriting has changed a little over the years but he still might have made the connection) and he never thought “hey, I know someone who loves Potions and went to Hogwarts.” idiot.
  • All of the meetings with Dumbledore make this such a faster read than the last book because stuff is happening, important and interesting stuff. So good. Voldemort’s history is so fun to read about and actually makes him a more well-rounded villain.