New Novel Destinations.

2015 has come to a close. Now it’s time to start with 2016. I hope that I read more than I did last year. I hope I’ll be able to read more new things and less comfort reading. I hope I can blog more. I hope to do a lot of things with this new year. Not that I’m committing to it or anything, if you know what I mean. I’m actually publishing on Blogger now for my book blog. I keep flipping back forth. I like how WordPress is coming along and making posting easier, but they don’t give you enough space so I can put pictures up and the like.

If you’d like to see me posting please go to http://noveldestinations.blogspot.com. I’ll keep this one up for reference and if things change, I’ll come back to blog more. đŸ™‚ How cool is that?

Review: Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

I had no prior knowledge of Safekeeping before I picked it up at the library. The title of it caught my eye as I was wandering around waiting for my shift to start. I read the summary, saw the book laced with beautiful pictures, and it was a done deal.

When the president of the United States of America is assassinated while Radley is away volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti, she immediately comes home to find her parents. When she arrives, she realizes that the country she used to no is no longer. Papers needed to be shown at every state border and shops and gas stations are closed or restricted. Determined to get home, she makes the three day trek back to her house only to realize nobody’s at home. Fearing that her parents were arrested for speaking out against the new political party and fear that she herself will be packed off to prison, Radley sneaks out of her house one night to make the dangerous trek to Canada, the one place she feels will protect her from her now uncertain country.

Along the way she meets a girl Celia with her dog Johnny Lee and together they make the long trek northward. In the beginning Celia appears aloof and keeps to herself. But as they spend time together, they begin to trust each other and begin reveal a little bit of themselves as they become friends. Once in Canada, they survive in an abandoned schoolhouse and with the help of friendly neighbors, the two of them begin to settle into their new home. But Radley is determined to get back home to find her parents and Celia has her own secrets that need to be told.

I really loved this book, for is realistic nature and for focusing on what matters most in times of crisis. I think some criticism of the book would have to be made by some on how America came into this situation and why Radley was left to her own devices so quickly once she returned to the United States. I would’ve thought that the airports would have been notified to look out for her so they could inform her of what happened to her parents. However, I think it’s fitting that so many things slipped through the cracks so that Radley could make this journey and find herself along the way. The country is going through some turmoil and I’m sure people at the checkpoints couldn’t possibly remember to look for certain people that isn’t making “nuiscances” of themselves.

The book reminds me of The Road with two people trying to make it to safety while ever constantly looking behind their soldiers but without the complete despair and intensity. The pictures strewn throughout the book were lovely to look at and study and fitted with each segment of story perfectly.

Review: 4/5

The Book Pile.

Most of my books on request have come in at once. This is usually how it goes, they either take forever or come in all at once. This is what I’ve got on my book pile:

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
  2. American Smoke by Iain Sinclair.
  3. Poison by Sarah Pinborough
  4. Charm by Sarah Pinborough
  5. Beauty by Sarah Pinborough
  6. Dayton Through Time by Curt Dalton

I’m also re-reading the Haunted Ohio books because I haven’t finished all five books and I can’t remember which ones I’ve read. I know I read at least two book can’t remember if I read 3 or not. So I’m going to start from the beginning. I”m also reading Charm which is a dark version of Cinderella. The other two that I listed are also fairy tale related. I’m not much into the fairy tales but these looked really interesting.

What have you been reading?

Review: The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Philippa Gregory. I don’t read her books very often as she’s one of those whose books I have to read with some distance in between them. I’ve actually been reading a lot of her in the past year, mainly because my aunt sent over some of her books the Christmas before last and I wanted to get through them. I read the first three in rapid succession last summer, then took about a year to get to the last one, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, with which I have just finished reading.

I’m going to admit that a lot of books take me forever to get around to, mostly because if the beginning is slow then I struggle very hard to get into it. The Kingmaker’s Daughter was one of these books (thus why it took me a year to finally come back to it and complete it). This fourth book in the Cousins’ War series focuses on Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, a man known as the Kingmaker. He is by no means a man to be reckoned with and holds a power in England that few have accomplished. Because Anne has grown up in King Edward’s and Elizabeth Woodville’s court, she is taught to distrust and even hate the queen for stealing the king away. And because she is the daughter of a powerful man who has no sons of his own, Anne is then forced into being a pawn in her parents’ schemes. After a series of misfortunes, one of them being married to Margaret of Anjou’s son, Anne is then rescued by Richard of Glouchester and eventually marries him and has a son by him.

I find it interesting how Gregory portrays Anne as someone who thinks she eventually controls her destiny when in fact I got the complete opposite of her throughout the book. In the beginning she was a pawn by her parents and even her first husband and his mother. And yet, even when she marries for love and aids her husband in his politics later in life, I believe she is still following her family’s control. Anne wants to be queen, which is something her parents aspired her to be.

Maybe that’s what Gregory is trying to say in her writing: That we’re all victims of our circumstances and that whatever we choose to aspire to is something that shaped us from our past experiences and pursuits. I can’t decide if I truly like Anne Neville, because at times she seems to suspicious and vengeful for my taste. Considering the times she grew up with, I don’t have any doubt as to why that is.

Review Rating: 3/5

The Process of Reading

I’m a terrible person when it comes to reading series. I’ll read the first book because it caught my interest and even read the second or third one because it baited me enough to see what happens next with the characters. But then something happens: I get bored. I start to see a pattern in the author’s writing and it’s a struggle to get through the next page let alone the next chapter. The characters become tedious and even the ones that I enjoy immensely reach that spot in the series where it’s a struggle to emphasize and follow them. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just the fact that the author has placed them in situations that I don’t really care about.

It’s happened to me with The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I started book four before I made myself stop and step away. It happened to me with A Song of Ice and Fire by Robert Jordan (I only just finished A Dance With Dragons last year after nearly two years after reading the others in the series). And now I’m reading the fourth book in Phillipa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series after a year off from reading her other books in the series last summer.

I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s taken me so long to start reading The Kingmaker’s Daughter. Why? Because I do this with all authors and genres. I’ll read several books in the same genre or author and then I just stop, as I’ve mentioned before. I even tried starting The Kingmaker’s daughter several times in the last year, even after finishing the previous book. The first few pages were slow, which was part of the problem. I really enjoyed The White Queen and even The Lady of the Rivers and to some degree The Red Queen. But the Kingmaker’s Daughter put me off. The Nevilles are people who are hard to feel akin to. They are ambitious and will do anything to put themselves foreword even if it destroys the children of those pursuing it. I’m not saying that didn’t happen in the other books, but Anne and Isabel Neville’s parents seemed more openly ruthless and cruel than the other players.

But maybe that’s what the author is trying to get at; that these women of the past were nothing more than pawns, that they were victims of their circumstances. No matter what history wants to view them as, these women were only do what they were commanded to do and believed to be right.

With that being said, I have finally gotten into the book. I’m not 120 pages deep (or thereabouts) and I can’t stop reading it, to see how Anne reacts and leads in her own way. I’m constantly surprised by these books that start off so slow but then captures you into the drama. I’m excited to continue reading and seeing how Anne Neville develops throughout the book.

My previous books that I’ve finished reading in the past few week have included the following:

  • Four by Veronica Roth, a short story collection from Four’s point of view from the Divergent trilogy.
  • Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling, Rowling’s 2007 Harvard commencement speech, very inspirational
  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio, the story of a teenager who discovers that she is intersex and follows her in the aftermath of her diagnosis. Based on the author’s first patient who was intersex
  • Beneath the Surface by John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld trainer who exposes the behind the scenes of the biggest orca theme park and the suffering these creatures go through.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the above books, as they were quick reads and engaged me in the subjects they’ve shared. Therefore, I recommend them to those who are looking for something new to read. I’ve also been re-reading some books as well including Harry Potter. Hopefully I’ll get back into the world of reviewing and blogging. What have you been reading?

Top Ten Comfort Reads

I’m always excited to read a new book. Sometimes the new book exceeds my expectations, others are exactly what I was expecting and still others weren’t what I was expecting at all, whether good or bad. While I love reading a brand new book (sometimes new to me), there are many times when I’d rather just read a book that I’ve already read; one that’s comforting and familiar. Having these familiar reads refreshes me so that I can go back to a new book with added vigor. Without these familiar books, I don’t know how I could forge on through this wild and crazy world of books.

  1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  2. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  4. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  7. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  8. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (if only to try and figure out the character dynamics, no judging!)
  9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  10. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Some of these books I haven’t read for years, others I read every other year, others (like Cold Mountain) I plan to read again soon and some I read frequently. Twilight I read over again just because it’s a quick read for me and I’m always interested in why it’s so popular. Just depends on my mood. There are many that I love to re-read but haven’t made the list. I might have to do another one of these again soon.

Tell me about some of your comfort reads — I’d love to hear from you!

Review: Ring by Koji Suzuki

There is rumor of a mysterious videotape that will make you die seven days after watching it. The only way to avoid certain death is to complete the charm that will stop you from dying. Four teenagers in Japan die under mysterious circumstances after having watched such a videotape and Asakawa is determined to find the answer to it as one of them had been his niece. His investigation takes him from the heart of the city to a rural community by a volcano and as the minutes tick closer to his demise, his urgency to solve the mystery becomes more intense as friends and family become more intensified.

I initially requested Ring because I read on the internet that the cult horror film The Ring starring Naomi Watts and the Japanese version Ringu were based on this book. I was excited to start reading it and see if there were any similarities between book and movie. When I finally got a copy from the library after waiting for it to arrive for a week, I sat down eagerly to read it and oh how disappointed I was.

There are a few similarities between the book and the American version of The Ring. There is a videotape that will make you die in 7 days and an evil girl who created the film. A family member inadvertantly watches the tape and the main character fights to save them all. And at the end, a friend or lover dies. That’s about as similar as the two get. In the book, the evil girl’s name is Sadako and she was about 17 when she died and she most certainly didn’t die by her tormented mother’s hand nor is she locked up in an asylum as people figure out why she’s so “strange.”

And while I didn’t mind these big differences, I was surprised by how flippant the characters and in turn the author was about rape in their culture. I’m not sure what the Japanese culture or views are of rape, but it seemed so indifferent to how they felt about women that it turned me off a little bit. When I read the first scenario in the book, I was thought it was a little strange but it wasn’t big enough to deter me from finishing it. But when I read the second incident, I was disturbed. I don’t get the connection other than getting a big shock value out of the reader, but that’s just me.

I enjoyed reading the original book and seeing how the author originally wrote the characters. The parts where the main character uncovered facts about Sadako were interesting. However, I found with the views of rape and various dry parts throughout the book, I found the book lacking and would consider the movie to be better than the book it was based on. There are two more books in the series, but with the way the first book had presented itself, I’m hesitant in continuing with the story.

Review: 3/5