Sunday, December 14, 2014

To Dance with the White Dog by Terry Kay

Sam Peek's children are worried. Since that "saddest day" when Cora, his beloved wife of fifty-seven good years, died, no one knows how he will survive. How can this elderly man live alone on his farm? How can he keep driving his dilapidated truck down to the fields to care for his few rows of pecan trees? And when Sam begins telling his children about a dog as white as the pure driven snow -- that seems invisible to everyone but him -- his children think that grief and old age have finally taken their toll. 
But whether the dog is real or not, Sam Peek -- "one of the smartest men in the South when it comes to trees" -- outsmarts them all. Sam and the White Dog will dance from the pages of this bittersweet novel and into your heart, as they share the mystery of life, and begin together a warm and moving final rite of passage. 
 Review by Patrick:

 To be honest, I only read this book based off of my wife's suggestion. I wouldn't have picked out this book to read by myself, but I trusted her judgement and put this on my list. I read it, but it just wasn't my thing.

It started off down right depressing. I mean Sam's long loved wife had just died. Then it continues telling the story of this old man as he lives without her companionship.

The story did have a ring of truth to it. It felt like this was a real story. I could see that Sam would've done all of those things. It was a glimpse into the future for many of us. I know I'm in my twenties, but maybe one day (heaven forbid) I'm going to have to be old and widowed. What will happen? This book opens the eyes of those who just doesn't have any experience in this sort of thing.

Overall, I can't say I enjoyed this book. It's not a book you enjoy to read. It's a book you read that tells a sad story, one that makes you feel and wish you could make life better. But also exposes that life sucks sometimes, and is great other times. You have to live in the moment, cherish your loved ones, make every day count. You only have so many to live, just like everyone else. I'm rating it a 3.

Next up:

I'm going to read Archer's Voice, which will be posted on our sister blog: Across the Sheets, then start the Chronicles of Narnia.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dracula by Bram Stoker

A junior solicitor [real estate broker] travels to Transylvania to meet with an important client, the mysterious Count Dracula. Ignoring the dire warnings of local townsfolk, he allows himself to be seduced by the count’s courtly manners and erudite charm. Too late, the solicitor realizes that he is a prisoner of Castle Dracula, his guards a trio of voluptuous young women with sharp white teeth and a taste for blood.

Soon thereafter, the solicitor’s fiancĂ©e, Mina, visits a friend on the English coast. The town is full of speculation over a Russian ship run aground nearby, its crew missing, the dead body of its captain, crucifix in hand, lashed to the wheel. A giant dog was seen leaping from the deck before disappearing into the countryside. The ship’s cargo: fifty boxes of Transylvanian dirt. As the beautiful Mina will soon learn, Count Dracula has arrived.
Review by Patrick:
 It sucked. I mean I still have blood in my veins, but it sucked the reality from all around me as I was reading this book. I was not expecting a classic like this to be so intense.

As long as you could get by some of the format of this book, it really was interesting. The book was written mostly in a diary format, with some news article clippings, letters, and telegraphs... I guess that was interesting too. I was really amazed with the efficiency of the London telegram service in 1891. You were forced to read this book with the setting in mind, as timing and travel were essential to the book. Horses, carriages, steam and sail boats... all must be kept in mind when considering the time it takes to get anywhere.

We all know about vampires, right. They can't go out in the sun; they must drink blood to survive; they sleep like bats; etc. But it was really intriguing reading about the first vampire. This is where it all started. And it was really interesting. For example, the vampire was able to control the nearby weather, get in really tight places, must be welcomed into a building before entering, control nearby animals, and many more wonderful things. I was also amazed at some of the similarities to more contemporary vampire fiction.

The story (which, let's face it, is what it is all about) was amazing though. It pulled me close and I felt the fear, terror, hope, panic, bravery, and passion of the characters. The story was slow at first, and by slow I mean the main character going willingly to Count Dracula's castle and immediately becoming a prisoner and dinner. The story just kept on and on. It was suspenseful, tragic, epic, horrifying, thrilling, and ... well I'll let you find out the rest.
Overall, surprisingly good. I know I am a little out of the norm when it comes to a desire to reading classic books, but I think this would be a good read for many readers in the present day. I'm going to rate it a 4.
Up Next:

Review: My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

 After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.

Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.
Review: Rating- 4.5
This book sucked. It sucked my heart right into it and wouldn't give it back. When I started reading it I was under the assumption from the synopsis that it would be a good light read. It went above that. It was a great sweet clean read.
I adored this story, I love all books that have some kind of Pride and Prejudice theme to them. My Own Mr. Darcy didn't let me down. I am so much like the Lizzie in this book! I also obsess over Mr. Darcy. Not to the extent she did, but I have my moments. A lot of women ogled Mr. Darcy after watching Matthew Macfadyen portray him. He's so... gorgeous!
 The story was perfect. Each character had depth and was unique. Chad was the unlucky guy that was strung along for a 10 date rule Lizzie's best friend, Janessa, forced her into. He was so adorable. Matt, who was Lizzie's perfect Mr. Darcy down to his arrogant attitude with occasional sweet moments.
I had one minor problem and one major problem with this book. The minor problem was I kept skipping over all the details about her interior design. That's more my fault than anything. I wanted to get to the relationships, not be bogged down with details about a her remodeling. It was sort of important to show it so that we could see she was good at what she does. My major problem with the book is that it ended way too soon. Way, way too soon. I got to the last page, Kindle told me I still had 11 minutes left of reading so I thought there would be an epilogue. I turned the page and it was the acknowledgment page. To say I was upset is a complete understatement. I wanted more so freaking mad I let out a scream of frustration.
I received this book to read for an honest review and I'm so happy I got this opportunity.
It was truly a great read. Now, Karey White, write me an epilogue please.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moby Dick or the Whale by Herman Melville

This story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge.

Review by Patrick:

I finished this book today, thank goodness. I'm glad I checked this one out from the library and checked it out as an audio book, because I could see this book being another Silmarillion (in other words, takes-seven-years-to-finish book). 

The whole book was long and drawn out, but interesting. I enjoyed learning about how the ship works, and the vernacular that was used in sailing. I would love to go sailing myself some day, so I could really appreciate the detail that went in to explaining everything.

But the details were too much. I didn't expect to read the encyclopedia entries for whale, sperm oil, sailing, and the like. This book just really went overboard with the anatomy of the whale (which, I'm guessing, is not that accurate anyways). The book could have been three or four times shorter and still had all of the narrative content.

I can only say I was disappointed in the ending. The story had been building since we were introduced to Captin Ahab, and then the story ends. There was no satisfactory resolution.
**Spoiler** We don't know what happened to the whale and the whole crew sunk to their death. From Starbuck to Pip to Tashtego to Queequeg to Flask to the carpenter to the cook; they all drowned. All save one, and
call him Ishmael.
This had the tragic ending of a Shakespearean play, without the comic relief.**Spoiler (highlight to see)**

I know this book is a classic and "one of the great American Romanticized tales," but I don't give a darn. I'm rating this book a 1. I'm sorry for anyone who is forced to read it. Maybe with some discussion I would learn more about the book and the metaphors throughout, but I hated this book and wish it to go with it's captain. I have no desire to ever read it again, and I'm not sure I appreciated spending the time to read it in the first place.

Up next:


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Phase by E.C. Newman

Sophie Todd hoped that her senior year would be different. Unfortunately, different seems to mean getting punched in the face for sticking up for the new girl, having her offer of friendship spurned by said new girl, and finally gaining the attention of her long-time crush, Ezra Varden, but for all the wrong reasons.

It's a tenuous friendship at best, but as Juliet starts to open up to Sophie, they both realize that the Vardens, Juliet's foster family, is not your average family. They're extremely close-knit—freakishly so—but they welcomed a complete stranger into their home, which just so happens to have the largest meat freezer anyone's ever seen...

...and certainly no one said anything about Ezra and the wolves.
Review by Rachel: Rating- 4.5
E.C. Newman gave me the perfect book. I have been searching for a good YA romance shifter-wolf novel for a while and this one was everything I wanted! The novel started off with a Ka-Pow... quite literally.
Phase was balanced well between the love interest, the friend, and family. Sophie was such a normal teenage girl, I adored her and how relatable she was and I enjoyed the silliness of her inner monologue. She was always true to herself and stayed a good girl throughout the novel.
Jules is the bad girl who gets in trouble more often than not. She's so funny thinking the Varnon's are a cult and how most of her ideas tend to have Sophie doing something she never would. She's so loyal, I want Jules as a best friend!
I wish we had more of Gil and his band and I really wish we had more of Ezra and Sophie together. There was just so much freaking action! I'm not even kidding, my heart was pounding and I was sweating right along with these characters. It was intense.
The moment I closed this book and went to Goodreads to look for book two because it said it was a trilogy, I was more than disappointed. Book two and three are not out yet. I'm slightly upset by this. This book was published in 2012. It's been two years! I know it takes time to write a novel, but at this point we should have some information about the next book, but there isn't anything. It's disappointing because by the time the next book in the series comes out I probably wont be into the same books I am now, I'll be at a different point in my life and I most likely wont want to read it. This has happened before when authors take too long to get a book out in the series. So, you can consider this a 5 star review because the book was fantastic, but I'm giving it a 4.5 because it did leave so much unanswered and I'm afraid the author is going to take way too long to write the next book. If it comes out soon then I'll change the rating for this.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Review by Patrick:

Will Grayson, Will Garyson was probably one of the most unique books I have read. I enjoy John Green immensely (so much so that I call myself a Nerdfighter and watch his YouTube channel Vlogbrothers). This led me to want to read all of his works, and as this is one of them, I picked it up to read. I also have heard good things about David Levithan, and several of his books are on my "To-Read" list as well. So, this seemed like the perfect book for me to read to allow me to further the goal of reading all of John Green's works and introducing me to David Levithan.

Unless I am mistaken, this book was written by both writers in an oscillating format. I believe one wrote one chapter, then the other wrote the second, then the first wrote the third, and so forth. This is by no means the only book written this way, but it may be the first I've ever read, and it was interesting. It was neat to see two different stories that also intertwined together. I know most books have more than one story, or the story is about more than one character that inevitably interacts, but this was different. It really was about two different stories.

I liked the book. It was very engaging, and I wanted to keep reading it. Even though there was a significant portion of the book relating to gay sexual preference (full disclosure: I'm not even a little bit gay), it wasn't weird or sexual. It was... normal. Which I guess was kind of the point: to show that teens who are gay are not weird or different or... weird. They are just teens, trying to make it through high school, alive, and understanding themselves and their relationships.

Although I did like the book, it was not what I would typically read (although, spoiler alert, it was nice to read a book where no one dies for a change). It's pace was good as it kept me wanting to drive somewhere to finish the book. The ending chapters were fantastic. But all the same, I'm going to rate this book a 3.5. Maybe it deserves a higher rating for many readers, and I'm glad I read it, but not my cuppa tea.

Up Next:

Moby Dick and Dracula.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sphere by Michael Crichton

In the middle of the South Pacific, a thousand feet below the surface of the water, a huge vessel is discovered resting on the ocean floor. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old. 
But even more fantastic—and frightening—is what waits inside . . .
Review by Patrick:

Okay, so this turned from my read-before-bedtime book to my stay-up-all-night-and-wake-up-early-to-finish book.

I really like other books from Michael Crichton, and this one turned out no different. I like that his books have enough facts and pseudo-science that you think it might have actually happened. And with this particular book, there's no way to prove that it didn't happen.

I wasn't expecting this book to be quite as psychological as it was. But it turned out that the main character was psychologist and the whole premise of the book is psychological. That really threw me for a twist when I was expecting some kind of alien book. But in some ways, it was necessary. This book wouldn't have been anything without the psychological perspective.

I like the book. I would recommend many people to read it. This one will stretch your imagination and mind, and give you a little bit of thrill and mystery. This book is worth reading. I rate it a 4.

Up Next:

Moby Dick, or The Whale.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior's society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she's determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.
Review by Patrick:

So Rachel read this one quite a while back (before we started the blog) and told me I had to read it. It was a must read. I was like, "Sure. I'll read it, when I have the time." Then the movie was coming out, and we have a pretty strict policy on Read-It-First. So I finally buckled down to read the book. I should have listened to her (always good advice, husbands) and read the book a year ago.

Throughout this book I kept thinking about how it would be to live in Chicago if this were real. What faction would I be in? What faction would my parents be in? Would I choose the same one of my family or would I transfer? (I actually answered that one; I would transfer.) What faction would my wife be in? Would we have met, fell in love, get married? These were questions this book begs you to ask. In short, "What if this were real?"

I have to admit this "utopian" society really fascinates me. The book doesn't explain what happened to get the society to where it was, but really we hardly know how we got to our present situation in real life, so it stands to reason that we wouldn't have too much background. But the situation of the factions described in the present is the important information for the book. The five factions, the choosing ceremony, the factionless, the discontent between the factions... All of that is important to the story, not necessarily the history of how they got there. Although I imagine we will get more history as I read the other two books of the series.

I liked this book. I read it in just a few days. But I also was not prepared for the twists and turns of this book. It seemed pretty harsh, almost too realistic at times. In other ways this book was fundamentally flawed (thank goodness). I don't think that humans, particularly Americans, would ever be happy with just living out one ideal, out of only five. I thought I myself would fit into three or four factions, maybe all five. How could you expect someone to choose just one of those, especially a sixteen-year-old. So I'm glad the book was flawed so we don't go down that road ourselves in the future and I'm glad that we are not perfectly divided.

Overall, this was a good book. I'm going to rate it a 4. It's a good young adult distopian novel that introduces some new ideas in the world of ideas.

Net Up:

Sphere and Will Grayson Will Grayson.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

The Adderhead--his immortality bound in a book by Meggie's father, Mo--has ordered his henchmen to plunder the villages. The peasants' only defense is a band of outlaws led by the Bluejay--Mo's fictitious double, whose identity he has reluctantly adopted. But the Book of Immortality is unraveling, and the Adderhead again fears the White Women of Death. To bring the renegade Bluejay back to repair the book, the Adderhead kidnaps all the children in the kingdom, dooming them to slavery in his silver mines unless Mo surrenders. First Dustfinger, now Mo: Can anyone save this cursed story?
Review by Patrick:

This book did not let you put it down, until the climax was completed. From the end of the second book, this one picked right up and was intense from the get go. I can't believe it took me as long as it did to finish this book. Mostly because it was an audio book and I didn't have my car at times.

The performance by Allan Corduner was good. I don't think it was as good as Brendan Fraser, but he did a better Orpheus. He did a wonderful job with the Readers in the book.

The book itself was great. I think that the book came to a good conclusion and was intense and good and... I'm flustered. I don't know how to describe it.

It was so good, that I don't know if I have any critiques, other than give us more books. The whole time I listened to the story, I felt like I was sucked in to that fantasy world. I loved the power of words. This author knows what it feels like to tell a story and how to cherish it, but not only those things, but eloquently express those ideas into a story of it's own.

Apparently, with no negative feedback, I think I must rate this novel a 5 as well. This series is now one of my favorites, and I can't wait to go back and reread the paper copies.

Up Next:

Sphere by Michael Crichton, and whatever audiobook I find next at the library.