Friday, December 25, 2015

Book Review: The Watchers: Knight of Light

I was recently offered the opportunity to review an electronic copy of The Watchers: Knight of Light by Deidra Eden.  Generally, I'm not a fan of electronic copies of books but we must all adapt to the ways of the time.  I received the .mobi file so I could read on the Amazon Kindle app on my phone.  I'm sure it wasn't just my copy of the file but any time the line ended in a hyphenated word that was continued on the next line, I seemed to lose several lines by the time I flipped to the next page.  Technical difficulties aside, I'm sure I didn't miss much.

From the publisher:

All the training in Heaven couldn't prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.

I really liked the author's take on medieval England.  Nobility was referenced and signs of the times were more than evident. The characters were generally likable.  Auriella had an interesting character development.  She had no issue accepting that she was not human or that her life was about to drastically change.  In that way, she was a very immature teenage girl.  Her dwarf and pixie traveling companions were also quite pleasant even if they weren't always easy to understand.

I didn't love the way the author jumped from modern English to olde English regularly as with illustrating a conversation between the dwarf and the girl or the pixie and a human.  One character would talk like the person next to you and the other came straight out of a fairy tale.  The lack of consistency was frustrating.  I also found that getting a clear idea of the timeline was hard.  While the story always ran forward, there wasn't clear indication of if we moved to several days later from one paragraph to the next or if it was only the next day.

Honestly, I wouldn't read this one again.  It wasn't my favorite.  Were someone to request of me a recommendation of a book featuring dragons, elves, etc, I'd probably point them to Eragon or Lord of the Rings.  It's not to say it's unlikable-- it just wasn't for me personally even though I do enjoy the genre.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest opinion.  All opinions expressed here are mine.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lit-Cube Review


A very good friend of mine subscribes to several book subscription boxes.  Subscription boxes in general are currently a hot item—they’ll send you a curated box of whatever flavor of crap is your favorite.  I vaguely followed her posts about these boxes and sat on the fence for a long time.  
However, Lit-Cube roped me in with their “Supernatural, Idgits!” theme which was a beautiful nod to one of my favorite characters.  Felipe and I recently watched all of the available seasons of Supernatural on Netflix and we’re not so patiently waiting for the current season to be added.  I’ve since done a lot a lot of reading on the actors and their various charities.  I couldn’t resist a box that was sharing the profits with charity and especially not one that included my favorite show.

Following that box, I received 4 more themed boxes: Zombies, Immortal Kiss, Grab Box and You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.  The stuff included in the box was ok.  I didn’t love it nearly as much as the boxes I saw before mine.  And, the books.  Oh the books!  They haven’t been great.  The Supernatural one was bad; the two zombie books weren’t great but better.  The Immortal Kiss book thus far has been my favorite—I even tweeted the author for an update on a sequel.  So far, no word.  So, I unsubscribed.  I couldn’t justify spending that much money ($35) each month for a book I didn’t love and stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily keep very long.  I’m anti-clutter. 

I did love what Lit-Cube was trying to do.  I think that the people that run it are great—there was an issue with the Supernatural box and Peggy did everything she could to make it right for other subscribers even when said subscribers got unnecessarily nasty on Facebook.  They’re making changes in 2016 with a wearable, readable and eatable in every box.  I like that but I think I’ll wait and see what happens before I resubscribe.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Book Review: Oasis

I received an advance copy of Oasis by Dima Zales in exchange for my honest review.

From the publisher:
A new dystopian/post-apocalyptic series from a New York Times bestselling author
My name is Theo, and I'm a resident of Oasis, the last habitable area on Earth. It's meant to be a paradise, a place where we are all content. Vulgarity, violence, insanity, and other ills are but a distant memory, and even death no longer plagues us.
I was once content too, but now I'm different. Now I hear a voice in my head, and she tells me things no imaginary friend should know. Her name is Phoe, and she is my delusion.
Or is she?

I don't read many dystopian or post-apocalyptic books even though they are quite popular right now.  I've noticed quite a few and not just zombies--everyone has their own spin.  However, when offered the opportunity to read a book, who am I to decline?  I also don't typically read ebooks but when in Rome....
I downloaded the Kindle app because Jack loves the Kindle entirely too much and it's never charged.  It was easy to set up my account and forward the file.  It was actually way simpler than I would ever have imagined.  I'm not very technologically savvy for my age.  I get by.  I did find reading it black with white text was easier on the eyes especially when I was reading at night while waiting for children to fall asleep.
Oasis was the story of a young man struggling to survive in his reality.  He lived after society after technology advanced so rapidly that the world couldn't keep up.  The Goo ate the world and the society was left with one safe bubble.  They built a very tech friendly society where screens could be pulled up with the wave of a hand and doors could be open the same way.  One must only wave their hands a specific way and Food would arrive in their hands.  They also referred to what we consider modern times as ancient.  That was a little harsh to read.
The biggest struggle I had with this book was understanding some of the harder tech stuff.  I just don't have a frame of reference for that.  I struggled with the need for hand motions and putting things into perspective.  This is in no way a criticism of the author, it's just a short-coming of mine.  I'm not tech savvy.
Overall, it was a good book and I'd read it again.

Monday, November 9, 2015

In Defense of Magic

That title and those words will seem odd coming from a Catholic.  Admittedly, it's something I've struggled with in the past.  I believe that magic is necessary especially for children.  Don't crucify me yet.  I have good intentions.  I promise.
Recently, we've been battling at our home the struggle of growing up too soon.  The little miss is 10 and thinks now is an appropriate time to wear makeup and chase boys.  I'm not inclined to agree.  As I've explained to her, with age comes responsibility and once you've grown up, there's really no going back.  Immature adults that act like children are not something to admire.
However, once you grow up, the magic of childhood is gone.  Sure, you can recreate it for your children but when you're not on the receiving end, it's not nearly the same.  Gone are the beliefs that mermaids live in Lake Michigan and that leprechauns leave chocolate coins on St. Paddy's day.  It's really quite sad when magic is gone and your facing real life which entails having a job and paying bills.  Yuck!

I recently read both the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series. Both deal with magic whether it's Hogwarts School of Wizardry or Camp Half-Blood.  To be honest, both are beautifully magical.  I believe that we need something beautiful to believe in and not just God.  Little magic is important for every day life; it brings the fun to life's surprises.  God has great importance-- there's no denying that.  However, I like to credit God with greatness (which is well deserved).  Of course my children know that God created the world and is responsible for mankind.  I'm not discrediting or taking credit for God's work.  I simply want to keep life interesting for my children while they're little.

No book burning or banning allowed at my house. Fairies, wizards and leprechauns share book shelf space with Noah's Ark and the story of the Nativity.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

YA Book Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

I recently (within the last year) joined an online book club.  Our June book is "Top Ten Clues You're Clueless" by Liz Czukas.  It's technically a YA book that's being read by a group of adults and it doesn't come highly rated on Goodreads.  The cover art was reminiscent of John Green's "The Fault in our Stars" but had it's own ginger spin.  I didn't love the story but I wanted to.  The characters were lovably weird.  We had plenty of time to meet each of them personally.  However, the weird font and make it a really fast read.  We had a four hour car ride and I finished it with plenty of time to chastise children who were too rowdy in the back seat.  I could see Gabby enjoying this book in the near future-- she was certainly interested in the cover.

From the back cover: Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers... even if one of them is Tyson.  But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe's list of Top Ten Moments.

Chloe was a hit.  She was the perfect outcast.   I loved her and all of her coworkers.  Who doesn't have coworkers that are weird as fuck?  It made me laugh.  I loved the unrequited love.  What I didn't love was that I saw the ending a mile away.  Maybe it's just because of being a grown up and reading too many Jodi Picoult books that have a hook and a twist 2/3 or 3/4 of the way in.  I may read Liz Czukas other book.  I've added it to the list but hopefully it's just as fast as this one.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: The Inheritance Cycle

Before I started this, I knew that a trilogy was three but I really didn't know that four books made for a cycle.  Seems confusing and not very cyclical.  I would have called it a series but I'm not a literary expert.  I am, however, a  great lover of all things fiction.  Probably two years ago, I started reading all the books on my bookcases starting with A-- books are alphabetized by author and then title unless found in a series (or any selection of books where they should be read in a specific order).  Not perfect but it works for me.  I ran into a copy of Eragon by Christopher Paolini before Christmas.  The note inside stated that I purchased this book for myself sometime while in college.  I graduated in 2009 so it's been on the shelf for a while.  Finding the first book in a series (read: cycle) meant that the others had to be ordered from the library -- a few quick moves on the laptop and that was set into motion.  2,835 pages and a month later, I can say that I'm finally finished.  Nearly died of exhaustion and excessive eye rolling but I'm finished.

Before I get too far into this, I must say that I love the reviewers of Goodreads.  I have a terrible habit of reading reviews (often with spoilers) before even opening a book.  I regularly find myself laughing because so many of these reviews could be written by me.  They get me.  Conveniently, there are rarely surprises.  I hate surprises.

I read all of the books of this cycle in order and while I know that the books are more or less a fan fiction of Lord of the Rings, I found myself plowing through all four without giving up-- the same can't be said for LOTR.  I can't say that it was my favorite but it certainly wasn't the worst.  Eragon was likeable enough as were most of the other characters.  His feats and journey were exaggerated but it is fiction and loosely LOTR.  The author (who was only 16 when the first book was published) spent entirely too much time admiring his own writing.  However, he was 16.  At 16, I think we all rather enjoyed ourselves and thought we were quite special-- I can imagine a book deal would go to one's head.

Do I recommend this?  Yes and no.  It's not for the faint of heart, but it is for the fantasy readers.  I suggest, read at your own risk.  If, at 50 pages you can take it, discard.  Otherwise, plow on but if you're like me you're in for a really long plow through session.

Excuse me while I go rest my eyeballs now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Things that make my life easier

Our daycare provider: Had an 8 pm crisis. No minties (aka blankets) for bedtime.  Cue the meltdown and hatred for the backup minties.  They simply aren't acceptable even though they were also made by Nanni out of the same materials.  Apparently it just isn't the same.  3 are favorites and they must travel from home to daycare and back home every day.  I love toddlers.  I sent a quick text to our daycare provider while running to the car.  She assured me that she had them and would hang them on the front porch for me to grab.  Lifesaver status! 20 minutes later, back home and safely tucked into a little boy's bed.

The January Starbucks tumbler. Heaven for 31 days.  It's a 16 oz (grande) tumble that retails for $30.  You purchase the tumbler and every day in January, you can present it at any Starbucks location for a free refill.  By my calculations, in the Chicagoland area, a grande black coffee is roughly $2.32.  Multiply that by 31 (if you have a mild addiction-- more for severe coffee abusers) and it makes financial sense in no time at all.  This is my most anticipated Christmas gift from Felipe every year.

A planner.  I recently ordered the Plum Paper Planner which should have arrived today but the blasted USPS did not deliver.  I'll have to review for the internets at another time.  I can't wait!