May & June Reading Recap!

Its been a while since I’ve done a reading recap and I’ve been way behind with my reading challenge.  I’m hoping that as work slows down, my energy will return and my focus on reading will pick up.  It also helps when I have a captivating book in my hands.  I’m starting to think that as I read more.  I’m becoming a harder audience to please.  Or maybe I just didn’t like the style of the book.  That can happen, right?

Lets get started 🙂

Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13) by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After

It took 13 books but Sookie Stackhouse finally came to an end.  The last few books have been a chore to get through with more meaningless parts than actually good stuff.  But, the writing style is always so easy to read that it doesn’t take much effort to go through it quickly.  Dead Ever After is the final book and I guess the question is how does Charlaine Harris wrap this up.  She has to pack Sookie’s dangerous, crazy and romantic life all up. In the foreword or whatnot, she justifies that its how she’s wanted this to end.  Right off, the setup of the novel is different, featuring a mysterious side story which reveals itself in the end, supposedly maybe wanting to give it a little thriller-esque sort of feeling.  Except, its become so predictable that although this last book wasn’t bad, I wasn’t exactly enthused. After having some time to digest it, I really didn’t like the ending at all.  It wasn’t just that it didn’t meet my expectations but it faded out some pretty important characters.

Seeing as True Blood was what got me into this, I’m more curious as to how this last season will go.  Will they change the ending from the novel? Lets just say, if they do keep it the same, I won’t be quite so pleased. I just don’t really see how the series would build itself to that ending.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent

I bought this book in hopes of reading it before going to see the movie.  Obviously, that didn’t happen as I planned.  But thats okay, because apparently, the movie was really good and that comes from friends that actually read this and enjoyed it.

I had extremely low expectations when I first started this book. I honestly have no idea why.  Maybe its the worry that all these teenage books (Harry Potter aside) might end up like Twilight.  Still, this one did well.  I made it through the whole book in a rather quick pace.

Divergent has a great premise.  The concept behind the whole story works really well and the characters were developed decently.  At least the main characters were done well.  It might have benefited from having a little more emphasis on some key characters rather than just our main characters Tris and Four.  While there is a lot to like, I can remember the beginning taking me time to adapt to because the writing style seemed so amateur, maybe. It had something I didn’t quite like but I couldn’t really figure out what it was but that only lasts for a few chapters until it picks itself up and carried me straight to the end.

I don’t know how bad the movie can be but when I get a chance to see this, I’m going in with an open mind.  Plus, I’m already planning out when to get the second book and continue with the series.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy

I can’t say for other people who read this but I definitely picked up this one and hesitated and hesitated over an over again because I was not only curious to see how J.K .Rowling would do in the books for an older audience but also I had my doubts.  What eventually made me pick up the courage and read it was that it was unfair that I knew nothing of the plot and I had already judged it.  I’m just that kind of person and I won’t be that kind of person.

For the record, I wanted this book to be good.  It was just so damn long and the pace was so slow.  The story itself touches on morals, integrity and just so many social issues as well all embedded in a little town.  It sets off by one character’s death which allows us to see a bunch of characters and their lives, viewpoints and how there’s a lot of friction and just how self-centred and ugly everyone was.  I spent a good part of it really hating on the characters and in the beginning its a bit confusing because there’s a mountain of names and characters introduced throughout the first few chapters.

I don’t remember this book a lot other than the surprisingly good ending but I do also remember thinking how J.K. Rowling had gotten really sexually explicit in some descriptions.  I didn’t really think she would go there.  I’m not saying its a bad thing but I guess thats what makes her stand out.

I just can’t help but wonder if maybe she just needs more practice as its just her first step into the books for adults or maybe she’s more geared for books for the younger audience?

The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois Lowry

The Giver

When I was in elementary/high school, I know that some classes got to read The Giver.  However, my English teachers never did so I never knew what it was about either.  Now, The Giver is a short novel. Its a bit over hundred pages.  Its also the first I knew that its actually part of a series.  Believe me, you will know also when you reach the end of this book.

The Giver is about a dystopian world which is the opposite of what we have now.  Its in a space of Sameness where everyone has their life planned out for them and in routine.  This world is emotionless and colorless and painless.  Our main character,Jonas has one of the rare jobs which no one had got chosen for since 10 years ago called The Receiver.  His job is to work with The Giver who will pass him memories.  They are the ones who others believe see beyond and carry the burdens and knowledge that others do not have.

The Giver is a great book.  I loved it a lot and I read through it extremely fast because everyone was written well and developed in a good way.  Of course, the book being short also makes certain details blurred over but in general, the events that went on and just the inner struggle of our character is one that is intriguing all on its own.  Its about seeing a world living in ignorance.

From my Goodreads review, I end it asking this question: Can you imagine a life without memories and everything is simply black and white? Simplicity has its pros but it also strips away the desires and wants that are what motivates us everyday. However, remembering more and feeling more also brings on more pain so would you choose to fully experience life or be in a simple and protected world where your choices are made for you?

The movie looks like its going to be good with a decent cast.  Jeff Bridges possibly in a more serious and heavy role.  This one I have to see.  I’m not sure how anyone can ruin this book adaptation and my fingers are crossed that they won’t.

The Wild Beasts of Wuhan (Ava Lee #3) by Ian Hamilton

The Wild Beasts of Wuhan

Jumping into the third book of this Ava Lee series, all the complaints from the second one has pretty much subsided in this one.  Ava Lee is sent on a mission to recuperate money on some fake paintings which takes her around the world to Wuhan, Hong Kong, London and New York.

All in all, this one is quick-paced and fun to read.  Its a definite page-turner and reminds me of the Ava Lee that made me fall in love in the first book.  It carries suspense and less violence but at the same time, she carries intelligence and this time around, we get a good look at her personal thoughts on her relationship and her family.  We dive into her awkward family and I’m pretty sure the next book is going to be head-on involved with a family member.

There really is nothing to complain about in this one because its a satisfying read and I’m hoping the next books will have the same greatness to it 🙂

OVERALL…

As I was writing this up, I realized how many novels are actually series.  Its really amazing how there isn’t really any standalone books anymore.  I mean here’s 80% series.  Of course, there are good and bad but for the most part, Sookie Stackhouse kind of overstayed her welcome whereas Ava Lee is still a work in progress.  I’m only the third book in and there’s probably already a few more if I’m not mistaken. However, that is a series that I think deserves more attention and would make a pretty awesome TV series or movie.

On that note, I can’t wait to see The Giver in theatres and I’m hoping its a wide release, but I’m willing to travel further to see that since I’m so in love with the book. I also just finished another book that will be adapted into a movie soon but I will post about that in the next recap.

I’m on a reading spree and I have a bunch of books lined up with a few independent writers in the mix once my tablet behaves and lets me load my ebooks again.  I’m working on that while I read some physical books 🙂

What movie adaptation are you looking forward to this year? Did you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on it? Any interesting reads that you’d like to share?

April Reading Recap!

In case you were looking for March, I didn’t name it as a recap but rather as a double review.  You can go HERE to see it if you missed it!

Lets get on track in April! I fell behind in March with my reading and its been playing catch up with 2 books behind my schedule to reach my reading goal at the end of the year.  Still, I guess its not really in my control because when I start a book, I usually keep going even if its a tough read, in hopes that it’ll get better. Usually, it does pick up!

Before I ramble on even more, lets check it out!

1) Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

un lun dun book cover

Un Lun Dun is a book about a mirror dimension of London called UnLondon. One day in the schoolyard, Zanna and Deeba are lead to this new strange city where broken and unwanted objects live. There, they realize that Zanna is the Chosen one against the Smog which is taking over UnLondon. They meet some interesting characters as well.

Un Lun Dun is a fantasy dimension that combines a lot of cute and creative characters. The story does have some dragging out parts. I liked the book quite a bit and there was some very smart play on words. However, I felt like the story ran out of steam as it was approaching the end. In this somewhat Wonderland setting, it started losing magic a bit more. The only thing that reminds us constantly of the fantastical creatures are the cute drawings inserted in the pages here and there.  Despite the story dragging out a bit in certain parts, I did enjoy myself for the most part and the imagination behind it was really quite impressive.

2) Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris

dead Reckoning book cover

This instalment has Sookie being trailed by more enemies. Sandra Pelt who wants to revenge her sister’s death has escaped from prison and is after her. Eric and Pam are somehow caught in arguments and Sookie doesn’t quite like how her relationship has changed with all the secrets and she also questions whether their feelings would remain the same if the connection wasn’t there, while Victor poses to be a bigger threat. 

There’s a lot going on at the same time but yet, there’s something that doesn’t quite work. Sookie’s character is turning out to be pretty irritating. She thinks up the most random thoughts at the most ridiculous times and some parts made me roll my eyes a little. The biggest problem is that at the 11th book in the series, I’m starting to not care so much about anything. We’re finally getting a bit of insight on Sookie and how she has her telepathy and her family, the fairy connections. Still, the enthusiasm for her character has just stagnated… 

I didn’t hate it but I’m pretty indifferent to this one. It wasn’t as boring as the previous two and that was the unexpected part. 

3) Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12) by Charlaine Harris

deadlocked book cover

In a sudden return from her great grandfather Niall, who takes back Claude to Faery to figure out who had cast the curse on Dermot that had caused all his badness in the past years, she starts to have to balance between the unrest of the faes and at the same time, deal with increasing problems from Eric who is now set, due to a contract set by his maker to marry the Queen of Oklahoma, and on top of that, the King Felipe is in town to investigate the death of Victor. On the night they welcome his arrival, a girl is found dead on Eric’s front yard and the police suspect him of being the one responsible. 

These plots are getting pretty long and messy. Its a whole bundle of stuff going on. I don’t really mind the plots having a lot going on, it does set up for a lot of potential of things to happen. However, most of this one was sprinkled with somewhat predictable situations. The ending did add a little surprise to it since there was a lot of suspicion cast throughout on various characters. 

As I had hoped, the ending of this one does set up various possibilities for the next and last book. I’m not sure I look forward anymore but I do want to wrap up this series and want to see what Charlaine Harris decides for the destiny of Sookie.

4) The Dinner by Herman Koch

the dinner book cover

The Dinner is a peculiar novel in a way that its course of events escalates to the pace over the course of a dinner, figuratively and literally. Two brothers, Serge and Paul meet up at an expensive restaurant with their respective wives, Babette and Claire to discuss a secret. As they go through various topics throughout dinner, our narrator Paul leads us into the situation to understand how he views Serge, Claire and eventually his children. Through his eyes, the reader can understand the dark situation they are in and at the same time, there is the question not only of right and wrong but just how far they are willing to go for each of them to protect their family, regardless of the gravity of the situation at hand. 

The characters are ugly and twisted to say the very least. Honestly, at the beginning, I hated Paul and thought he was a bit off and the way he described Serge didn’t make him out for a good guy that you’d root for either. The start was rough to get through. However, the more I read, the more it left a bitter taste in my mouth but yet I was interested to see how the story went and how they would pull themselves out of this mess. How they approached it showed each of their flaws and it does put down the dilemma and make one question how you would handle this and how there really is not “right” way, or is there? There are a lot of controversial issues at hand here. It has all to do with behaviorial issues and I like that sort of thing, especially when its dark and twisted.

Its a decent read but it touches on some iffy topics and every second of the read, I didn’t sympathize the characters at all. Still, somehow, when the book builds up to the main course, it pulled me in through to the end.

OVERALL…

This has been a pretty good month. If it wasn’t for my absolute fatigue and more dozing then reading on the bus rides in the past week, I’d be done with a fifth book.  Oh well, we’ll leave that for next time! Its already a pretty intense read up there.  If you are on Goodreads, I’m sorry, I cheated a little this time around.  I didn’t have time to write up unique short reviews so I just used what I wrote on Goodreads and edited it a little.  I promise to work harder on it next month.  My brain’s refusing to do anymore than that. As I finish writing this somewhere way past my bedtime, I still need to continue to do work.  Luckily, it is the last day so I’ll be back on track with more variety and more actual writing 🙂

Also, might I ask: Can you believe we’re stepping into May tomorrow? This year is going by so fast.

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading these days? 

Book Review: Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse #10) by Charlaine Harris

About a month ago, I read Sookie Stackhouse #9 Dead and Gone (see review HERE!).  I really wasn’t thinking of reading on this series after that one but I did find this one on special so I figured since I’m only 4 books away from the last one, I might as well tough it out.  Plus, I hate leaving things hanging.  Seeing as True Blood Season 6 starts this Sunday, I felt it appropriate to finish this Book#10 Dead in the Family up.

dead in the family bookDead in the Family is about the healing, conflicts and anger following the last book’s Faery War.  Sookie is now in a relationship with Eric.  Her fairy cousin Claude asks to move in with her as her great-grandfather Niall had decided to close the portal between the two worlds making the events of the last book feel somewhat stupid and useless.  Things get a bit complicated and they revolve mostly around the touchy issues of the two-natured weres and shifters exposing themselves causing Alcide and his pack to have to borrow Sookie’s land to shift.  Its there they smell an unknown fairy on her land.  This causes Sookie to be worried and to seek help.  On the other hand, Eric’s maker suddenly drops by with an unexpected “son” Alexei.  All these events eventually spiral out of control, as you’d expect.

I really don’t know how to summarize these plots anymore.  This one wasn’t boring like the last one.  It was just so scattered and choppy.  It was like 20 people (exaggeration, there’s not that many side stories) wrote a different part and put it together without bothering to add a link in between them and the previous books.  This caused some things that didn’t really mesh with the characters that has been known.  Eric seems to really lose how he usually is, and some parts of it aren’t too logical.  Although, if I was being totally logical, I don’t think I’d read these guilty pleasure reads. Claude does a 180 and turns into this caring relative.  I mean all this is just the beginning.

There were certain segments that was interesting to read unlike the last book.  Even without correlations, it was alright.  Not too boring, mostly because there was so much to follow.  What drops it a bit more is the ending which ended ridiculously fast. It makes everyone else in the story somewhat silly for not have thought of it in the first place.

Overall, an okay read which shows signs of bringing up questions that have to be considered.  We know that the situation will only get worse as always, just depends what path it will go the author will choose.  I’m assuming this book is a bridge to connect to the upcoming events.  I’ll only know later. For now, I’ll be taking a break from reading these since the season starts soon.  It will resume after the season is over(maybe).

Book Review: Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse Series #9) by Charlaine Harris

Yes, these are the series of books that the successful  HBO series True Blood is based on.  However, as much as they started off being similar to the books, by Book 9 many things that have happened are quite different.

Actually, its become something of a tradition to read the following one or two books in the series that I stopped at before the series starts up the summer.  This year was no different.  I only had one more book that I had pre-bought from last year during those buy 3 get 1 free deals at Indigo.  Whats really nice (probably not so much if you read every book in the series) is that they always try to give you some details about how Sookie and whatever person she’s regarding has gotten to whatever stage they are at whether it be friends, family, acquaintances, etc.  Once it makes the reader either want to go back to read it or if not, they won’t be completely lost starting in the middle of nowhere.  BUT, can I ask why anyone would start a series of books from Book#9?

dead and gone coverAnyways, lets start wtih a little synopsis of Book#9 in the Sookie Stackhouse series called Dead and Gone!

In the world of True Blood set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, the world has already known that vampires walk the earth among them openly (at night).  However, others don’t have such deep knowledge of them unless you deal with them personally.  Sookie has dealt with vampires and even other supernatural beings in the previous few books.  Right when things seemed to have settled down, the weres (wolves, panthers, etc) decided it was their time to bring themselves out of hiding.  Very soon after, at Sookie’s workplace Merlotte’s has her own sister-in-law Crystal who is a were panther nailed half in transformation.  The werepanthers now want to seek out who is responsible for this and whether it is related to a hate crime.  However, in the scene of all this, Sookie eventually learns that there is a bigger battle brewing in the background with a even more secretive supernaturals, Faes and Fairies and she finds that she is caught up in it more than she’d like to be.

I’m really not one to dislike books.  I mean props to this one for going to Book #9 and still having a whole bunch of readers and surpassing it.  I think a third of this book was interesting enough to make me not fall asleep.  A huge part of it was predictable and Sookie REALLY started annoying me.  The dialogue that she’s given makes me want to slap her.  The parts where I started falling asleep, I eventually started skimming through the words to just grab a general meaning until something didn’t make sense then  I’d backtrack.

Definitely not somewhere you want to start for this series. The first few books in the series set everything at a pretty decent pace and up till this book, its been entertaining. Thats generally all I ask for in these books too.  I’m not asking it to be poetic and profound but just to keep me engaged.  Unfortunately, this one had a hard time with.

Well, I’m not one to quit in the middle of a series, especially one that now has just reached the end.  On to Book#10…right after I get it 😉