Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

Short Synopsis

Dustfinger finds a way to be read back to the Inkworld when he finds another Silvertoung named Orpheus. Farid has every intention of going too, but Orpheus tricks them. Dustfinger is read back but Farid is left behind. Desperate to follow, Farid goes back to Meggie who is living at Aunt Elenor’s place and asks her to read him to the Inkworld. Meggie, driven by a desire to see the Inkworld for herself agrees. But on one condition. She goes too.

Review

The plot of Inkspell is fast moving and action packed with a shocking end that really took me by surprize.

The continuation of Inkheart, Inkspell takes us into the story. Into the book itself. Cornelia Funke wastes no time imersing us into the world of faries and magic. We follow Meggie and Farid as they search for Dustfinger. It doesn’t take long for Meggie’s mother and father to follow them, when Mortola, Capecorn’s greiving mother, uses Orpheus’ abilites to take her, Basta, Mo and Resa into the Inkworld. Like any good parents, they want only to bring Meggie back safely, but Motola cares only for vengence. Moments after being brought into Inkworld, Mo is shot by Mortola and left for dead. That’s when the adventure really begins. Soon Mo is taken in by the strolling players, but everyone is convinced he is the Bluejay, a famous outlaw.

I love the idea of books being doorways into real worlds. Inkspell explores this very idea. Instead of being a mere fiction, Inkworld and its inhabitants are vibrant and real, with their own lives and their own intricate stories within the story. Fenoglio, the creator of the book they are now walking around in, is bound and determined to shape the story to his will using his unique abiliy. I loved watching this subplot develop. Poor Fenoglio tries and tries but can’t quite make things happen the way he wants them too. He often mourns his story and feels like it is creating itself. This to me, is clear evidence that the Inkworld is as real as our own. This, perhaps, is Fenoglio greatest fear.

Dustfinger comes to life as he breaths his own air, visits his beloved fairies, and reunites with his wife. The depressed and desperate character from the first book is something very different in this sequal. He is happy. We really get to know him, and fall in love with him here.

The romance between Farid and Meggie blooms and comes to fruition. It is fun to watch these two young people who are literaly from different worlds try to figure out their feelings for one another. Poor Farid has a hard time dealing with the headstrong young woman Meggie is fast becoming. I really enjoyed watching him struggle to deal with a modern woman. I found his bafflement and frustration with Meggie who refuses to conform to what he feels a woman shold be really very cute.

All in all this is a fun read for all ages.

Happy Reading!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Short Synopsis

When her little sister is chosen by draw to participate in the vicious Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen has no choice but to volunteer to take her place, lest she face the violent blood bath as tributes from each of twelve districts battle to the death for the Capital’s entertainment.

Review

This is the second time I have read this book. I enjoy reading things more than once; I always find more I appreciate the story more the second time. During my first read through I appreciated the trauma that Katniss went through as she prepared for her ordeal, then as she struggled to survive the games, and I had a cursory enjoyment of her mixed feelings for Peeta vs Gale. This time, I found I appreciated more the post-apocalyptic nature of her world, and saw myself in her mixed feelings for her two love interests where I didn’t before. Lastly, even though I knew it was coming, I still found myself taken aback by the sheer ruthlessness of the Capital, and of the Games.

The world she lives in is a future version of North America. It seems to encompass both Canada and the States. The history we are given is that there was a battle for resources that the Capital eventually won. That the rest of the people were divided into twelve districts depending on industry, and tasked with supplying the Capital with their respective resources. We learn there was a failed rebellion culminating in the destruction of District Thirteen, and that the Hunger Games were created as a way to control the other districts by pitting their children against each other every year. As I took in this world for the second time, I couldn’t help but appreciate the possibility of a dire resource crisis in our own world, but perhaps on a more global scale. Just watching an hour of evening news is enough to make me wonder what our world’s future will hold and how alike it will be with Katniss’s world.

When it comes to her mixed feelings about Gabe vs Peeta, I couldn’t help but relate to her. I have always been the kind of person who didn’t fawn over guys or seek relationships. I probably would have been as clueless as she was about the fact that these two young men were interested in her romantically.

The idea behind the Hunger Games as a method to keep the districts at odds with each other, as well as in permanent fear of the Capital is a truly brutal concept. I think it is all the worse when you realize that each district has two tributes…and only one winner of the Games is allowed. As a way to keep the districts in line, it’s evil genius I can’t imagine being a child and forced to fight to the death while also trying to survive an inhospitable arena, while also evading unnatural events controlled by game makers designed to kill and move things along. I would probably be among the first to meet their end. I don’t know how Katniss was able to form her allegiance with Rue, knowing the whole time that if the two of them survived, she would have to kill Rue to live. As broken hearted a I was over Rue’s fate, I couldn’t help but think that it was ultimately a blessing to Katniss.

Over all, this is a fantastic post-apocalyptic story that puts its characters in an impossible situation that forces them to kill or be killed. It’s a YA book, but a fantastic read for adults too. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend reading this book!

Happy Reading!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Short Synopsis

Cather is a freshman at college, along with her twin sister Ren. Cather is also a semi-famous fanfiction writer of Carry On Simon, based off of the wildly popular Simon Snow novel series. As she struggles to adjust to her first year at college she is also struggling to complete her fanfic story before the concluding Simon Snow novel is released

Review

This was a fun and sweet coming of age story. We follow Cather, who suffers from some anxiety and social awkwardness as she works through a major life change. I fell in love with Cather right off the hop, while she moves in to her new dorm with her father’s assistance. We come to know her social anxieties and awkwardness as her fears are presented to us in a charming and relatable way. I especially enjoyed her fear to find the cafeteria in her building since she was afraid of people thinking she was dumb for not knowing where it was. I personally deal with a great deal of social awkwardness and anxiety. For the most part, I can mask it and don’t let it rule my life, but because of this I related to Cather on a personal level. The fears she was struggling through were written in such a way that I couldn’t help but smile because I completely understood what she was going through.

Another one of her adventures centers on her romance with Levi, a fellow student and part-time Starbucks employee. At first he hangs out in her dorm room all the time and Cather thinks it is because he is dating her roommate, Regan. He often offers to pick her up from the library across campus after dark and walk her back to her room. It is so obvious to the reader that he likes her, but Cather is utterly oblivious. It is a sweet romance that feels legitimate and completely plausible.

Finally there are Cather’s adventures in writing. Another thing I can relate to. She deals with a fellow Fiction Class student who attempts to steal credit for a co-written story, she also has to learn to balance her fanfiction passion project with her fiction writing class assignments from her professor designed to stretch her and build skill. Watching Cather struggle adult-ish responsibilities with her personal writing project really hit home with me. Like Cather I also enjoy writing fiction, and often struggle against procrastination and finding time in between real life events to work on my projects.

Mixed in with all these coming of age struggles Fangirl also has a healthy sprinkle of mental health awareness thrown in. Cather and Ren’s father is a creative type who struggles with manic depression, commonly known as bipolar disorder.

All in all this was a great novel. The romance was adorable and absolutely captured my heart. But it would never have been so effective if it wasn’t for the character of Cather. Absolutely worth it to pick this up, a great read for young adults and up.

Happy Reading!

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Short Synopsis

Susan Orlean looks back at the fire of the Los Angeles Public Library that nearly burned it to the ground on April 29, 1986. 

Review

A fascinating look at a terrible fire in 1986. Susan Orlean has done extensive research and interviewed several people in order to put together a vivid account of the tragedy of the Los Angeles Public Library.  But she doesn’t stop there. She not only writes a vivid re-creation of the terrible event, but she also tells us about the arson investigation, and the history of this library. Did you know this library was used in the filming of Ghostbusters only a couple years before the fire?

I thoroughly enjoyed so many aspects of this book it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite part. I found the history of the Library and the role women played during the late 1880’s to be fascinating. It was neat to watch how the job of a librarian went from a male dominated industry to a female dominated one.  Then there is the fire itself and the devastation it left in the lives of the library staff and patrons at the time. I can only imagine the heartbreak and fear these brave employees must have felt while they watched their beloved books go up in smoke. The book rescue effort was interesting too, I never knew that freezing books was a common step in preserving them until damage could be repaired.  The effort of the surrounding businesses and patrons who gave up space and time for the damaged books was astounding. 

The arson investigation is a main focus of this book.  The methods the fire department and investigators used to try to determine a suspect were interesting.  As well as the single mindedness they had when they thought they had pinned down the culprit. Their main suspect was a fascinating person.  From interviews done with his family, we come to learn that he was a chronic tale teller who tended to embellish and make up most of what he said to nearly everyone he knew.

Lastly, this book was a solid reminder about why library’s remain relevant in our world today, and the role they played throughout history.  I love watching the library change and evolve with technology and people’s needs. For me personally, the library was a way for me to obtain free entertainment and resources.  I was a low income kid who grew up with little. Having access to free books, movies, music, photocopiers, and computers was hugely important to me.  

A fabulous read.

Happy Reading!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3-Feb-20

Last Week in Review

Last week I managed to get a lot in. I read Lone Eagle by Danielle Steel, Death Note vol 3: Hard Run, and Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond

Hopes for This Week

This week I hope to read Death Note vol 4: Love, and Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts.

Other Bookish Things

Coffee and a Good Book hosted another weekend readathon. I think that was a big help in getting so much off my TBR list last week. I you are not familiear with this group, you shoud check them out on Facebook!

Happy reading!

Review Of: Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Short Synopsis

Nick Young’s estranged grandmother is dying.  As Su Yi lives out her last days, Nick decides to go see her, to try to repair their relationship before it is too late. But can he overcome his family’s plotting?

Review

The shenanigans of the Young family wrap up nicely in this final instalment. I thoroughly enjoyed the drama surrounding Nick’s cousin, Eddie, as he is convinced he will inherit the estate from Su Yi when she passes and the crazy lengths he goes to keep Nick away from his dying grandmother to secure his stake.

Then there is poor Astrid and the drama of her ongoing divorce and new relationship. I really felt like her character developed into a strong and independent woman when malicious stories about her are leaked into the press. Her super private family all but disowns her as a result and she stands up for what she wants despite it all.

Nick and his grandmother finally manage to reconcile, and when they do it is a sweet moment. We also get to learn more about Su Yi’s youth and the role she played during the occupation. Let’s just say that she is one baddass grandma!

All in all, this was a nice wrap up to a fun trilogy.

Thanks for reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 27-Jan-20

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As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

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Last Week In Review

Last week I finished Room by Emma Donoghue, Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney, and Death Note vol 2: Confluence.

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Hopes For This Week

This week I will read Lone Eagle by Danielle Steel, and Death Note vol 3: Hard Run

Other Bookish Things

This year my goal is to read 100 books. That breaks down to 2 books a week, or 8 books a month. By the time this week is over I will have read 10 books in January. Which puts me 2 books ahead of the game. I’m hoping to increase this lead by a few more because I hope to read some hefty books this year that will take me longer to get through. That lead will come in handy when I crack those!

Thanks for reading!

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Review Of: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Short Synopsis

Twoflower is a tourist from the Counterweight Continent who meets Rincewind, a failed wizard. Together they journey across Discworld in a mad haphazard adventure.

Review

This story is filled with fantastical shenanigans that take place in a beautiful world created by the wonderful imagination of the late Terry Pratchett. The first book in the Discworld series, The Colour of Magic focuses on world building. A disc that is moving through the cosmos, supported by four giant elephants who stand on the back of a turtle, Pratchett brings to life the classic mythos of India. The laws of magic in this world are unique as well. Wizards who have an innate ability to see into an extra dimension, draw magical energy from a colour.  Magic is directed through the use of spells that must be memorized through painstaking effort, only to be completely forgotten once used. 

I love Rincewind, who is essentially conscripted to be Twoflower’s guide and bodyguard all in one.  Having accidentally absorbed a certain spell that is implied to have possible catastrophic potential, he is unable to memorize any other spells.  This renders him rather useless as a wizard. But it turns out he makes a pretty good body guard. While he follows the witless but fearless Twoflower, who is bent on exploring and experiencing everything the world has to offer, Rincewind manages to keep them both alive as they go from one harrowing adventure to the next, causing much vexation to Death.  Death develops a sort of personal vendetta against Rincewind that adds a fun dimension to his chaotic adventures. 

The other creatures who populate Discworld are just as fascinating as the world itself.  The Luggage, created from a special sort of wood that apparently makes things sentient, is by far my favorite. Luggage is sort of a dog, in that it follows its master, Twoflower, loyally through every adventure.  It also viciously protects Twoflowers belongings nestled safely inside itself. The Luggage, walks with many tiny feet that sprout from it’s underside and defends its masters belongings with its very dangerous biting capacity. Fingers go missing from would be thieves. 

Overall, this is a fun and zany fantasy adventure. The characters and the world are outlandish and unpredictable. You never know what sort of chaos Twoflower and Rincewind will have to face next.

Happy Reading!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 20-Jan-20

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As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

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Last Week In Review

I missed last Monday’s post, so this is actually what I read the last two weeks.

I finished The Hollow by Nora Roberts, Death Note Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba, and The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts.

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Hopes For This Week

This week I’m still reading Writer With a Day Job by Aine Greaney. I’m also going to start reading Death Note Vol. 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba, and Room by Emma Donoghue.

Other Bookish Things

I really need to appologize for missing last Monday’s post. I was sick and just didn’t have the energy to write this up. But I’m feeling better now and ready to get back at it!

Thanks for reading!

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Review Of: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

Short Synopsis

Tricia is lost in the woods.  While she struggles to survive, she cannot help but notice the thing that is following her.

Review

Right from the opening line, I was hooked. Then I fell in love with the character of Patricia, our 9 year old, baseball loving, peacekeeping protagonist.  Stuck between her recently divorced parents, and her older brother who is angry about it, she goes to great lengths to try to be cheery, optimistic, and enthusiastic. But one day while on a hike with her mother and her brother, she leaves the path and ends up lost in the woods. What gets her through, is thinking about her favorite baseball player, and listening to the Red Sox game sparingly on her Walkman.  

Our plucky hero, with nothing but her own thoughts (and the thing in the woods) to keep her company, begins to re-evaluate the peacekeeping role she adopted. She begins to grow and mature as she struggles to make it through each day. One of my favorite stages of growth is when she uses the word “fuck” for the first time. A momentous occasion for any nine year old.  She explores spirituality Tricia seeks to decide who or what she should ask for help in her struggle to survive. She thinks of what her parents believe what others she knows believes, and eventually decides for herself what she will believe. Stephen King did a great job portraying the mind of a young girl. 

As the story progresses, Tricia begins to lose her sense of reality. Through the ups and downs of her progressively worsening health, we are left questioning if some of what she experiences is real, or more of a fever dream. From visions of priests in the forests, to encounters with the thing following her. While we are ultimately led to believe that the thing is no fever dream, a sense of doubt lingers. Her struggle to hold on to herself is an aspect of her struggle to survive that adds a special sense of realism and horror to Tricia’s plight.

The survival aspect of this story was well written.  From discovering that mud acts not only as a sort of salve to ease the itching of bug bites, but also as a repellent, to the very real dangers of blindly panicking and losing control of her faculties.  Our protagonist is forced to make some very real choices. Such as choosing between the risks of drinking unclean water vs the very real dangers of dehydration, and determining what is edible and what is too risky to try.  

Overall, this was a fantastic book. A new favorite for sure. This is both a wilderness survival story, and a coming of age story.  With a little of the supernatural sprinkled in for good measure.

Happy Reading!