Posted in Books, My Book Reviews

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffry Cranor

via Goodreads

Rated it: 3 stars

Read in: April

Note to people who’ve never listened to to podcast: I will not tell you that you can only enjoy this book if you listen to the episodes, though it would help.  From what I understand it’s marketed as a stand alone. Personally, I don’t mind if you disliked it. Only too easy to be confused and feel like an outsider. It’s a poor reflection of the podcast so please don’t let this discourage you from listening.

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When I say that I felt my mind bend several times throughout the book, I am not kidding. For some reason I still can’t put a finger on, I was skeptical about the entire thing. I could suppose that I was so trained to the podcast format that the setup for novel approach was … puzzling. Who am I kidding? Honestly it fell flat for me. There. I said it.

However, I am now satisfied in several respects with regards to the plots of certain episodes. For instance I can now file the away the speculation that The Man In The Tan Jacket is not actually Cecil’s long forgotten brother.

Thanks to The Man and his stupid note, Jackie’s become irritatingly aware of the oddness of her existence. Particularly pissed because because her boring routine life has been unashamedly demolished. The order and the peace of mind it brought, gone. It should be a damn crime.

Diane is more complicated. A single mother having to try communicate with an ever distant teenage shape-shifting son is nothing at all to sneeze at. Between that growing divide is the pothole of all potholes, his father Troy.

Continue reading “Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffry Cranor”

Posted in Books, My Book Reviews

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read The Mark of Athena as yet, please don’t go any further.

via Goodreads

Rated it: ★★★★★

GR Blurb

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

Okay. I don’t know what exactly to say (oh but I do), other than that events have certainly heated up, so to speak. The House of Hades is the darkest installment yet, it had me on the edge of my seat and in an almost dire state of emotional crisis. While The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune introduced the new players and had healthy plots; The Mark of Athena saw all of the seven finally assembled aboard the Argo II as well as decent character advancement, this fourth book I observed a greater sense of growth in all of them though at varying degrees, most of all Frank (as anticipated) and Leo (I’m going to relapse in feels). AND ANNABETH AND PERCY ARE IN TARTARUS FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE.

I particularly appreciated how as the  story progressed the meaning of the prophesy takes on newer, more clearer and curiously personal meanings, completely different from what I thought before. Hazel is tested on her newfound abilities and after days of seasickness and worry we see her stepping up to the plate as she’s faced with decisions at crossroads and a farting polecat.

Piper really takes charge of her life, with her training and less focus on Jason and I gotta say I’m most pleased with her better sense of self, not as itchy in her role in the seven and as a daughter of Aphrodite. A certain snow bitch goddess didn’t know what she was stirring up.

We finally get a good feel for Jason‘s character, we see him shaping his identity against some of the traditional Roman values he was instilled with, and becoming more of his own man if you can understand that, instead of the guy they think he is and how how he should be. Palpably no longer the man he used to be. Am I happy? Bet your butts I am. 

His and Nico‘s relationship (not that kind, shippers I’m looking at you) is especially interesting. No one knew what to make of the son of Hades, the wild card, even his sister. So Jason, understandably apprehensive of the guy, having little choice but to “split” from the crew for a while with Nico had sort of … an education. Continue reading “The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan”

Posted in Books, My Book Reviews

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan

via Goodreads

Rated it: 4.5 stars

This was satisfying. Was that an understatement? Probably. We’ve got the POVs of Annabeth, Leo, Percy and Piper; I think Rick did a good job with their individual voices but I feel as if each were lacking the intensity when I compare The Heroes of Olympus to Percy’s in first five books, overall though it was well done.

I am so so happy to see more of Annabeth! I mean after all those years of Percy and here’s the brains of the operations; in wanted in her brains. Wish granted! I can appreciate her fears, not only about who and what she must face on her quest (and the gods know it’s terrifying), it’s the fact that she must do this alone and she hadn’t been that way since she was seven and on the run. Her intelligence and bravery are her knives and shield and she’s got a healthy dose of self doubt to temper her metal.

The Leo, Hazel and Frank dynamic was interesting. I recall a reviewer wondering why Frank, having understood how Sammy played into Hazel’s past, is still at odds with Leo. Okay, the fire thing aside, that Frank should give McShizzle a break. I agree. Thing is, I believe Frank’s intimidated with Leo’s loud personality, his energy and some of the jibes unintentionally that more often than not hit some sensitive spots. Leo is the opposite of Frank and while that may have problems they can prove to compliment each other.

Hazel. I love love love Hazel Levesque. Out of the seven she’s the most intriguing, for obvious reasons, Continue reading “The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan”

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The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)

via Goodreads

Read from: 18th – 20th of August

Rated it: 5/5 stars

Well to say at the least, things are sure heating up. I do like that we get to see more of the other gods. Titan’s Curse is definitely more action packed and it’s only going to get a whole lot more livelier as the series progresses. I love the secondary characters (new ones!) and how their own back-stories are connected to the various parts in the plot. I’m certain that I am not alone when I say I’ve missed Annabeth. That girl.

I have no hope for Luke. The boy is lost. Is it the power that seduced him in the first place? The bitterness towards his father and the other gods? Both probably, but like most dreams of victory on the ‘other’ side of the battlefield, I think he finally found that Titans and Gods alike laugh at his plans and he’s caught up in a massive sticky spiderweb.

Perhaps by now he realizes that he’s no more than a spawn, the very thing he loathed to become in the first place. Or does he need a itty-bitty pit stop before he goes off and fail again after close encounters? Continue reading “The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)”

Posted in Books, My Book Reviews

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R. Martin

via Goodreads

Rated it: 4 stars

Finished on: May 4th

I’d read A Game of Thrones a few months before so it only took me a little while to get reacquainted with everyone and all that had happened. A Clash of Kings is a bloody good (spot the pun!) second book. The people, the places, the treason, it’s all so realistic and I can’t help but be emotionally invested.

Theon was somewhat of a surprise. I understand what drove him, what ate at him but he was impatient and too full of himself. I hate him for what he did to Winterfell and I so so hate him what he’s done to further split the Stark children apart. At the same time though, I felt sorry for the fool but that pride is a terrible thing.

The expedition beyond the wall was exciting to be sure. He hadn’t known what he was in for when he joined the Night’s Watch but it’s becoming clear to me it’s where Jon’s supposed to be. Who is he other than the bastard of Winterfell? The trials he’s to grapple with and battles he sure to face ahead will challenge and shape him and perhaps eventually he’ll begin to learn what sort of stuff he’s made of. I am itching to know what the wildlings are up to. When will we finally see this King Beyond The Wall?

Bran. I don’t know what to say. He’s the one in the most precarious situation, him and Rickon. Even cripples have to fight. I hope to god that Osha is as good as her word.

Tyrion Lannister is the black sheep of that lot, in more ways than one. He knows what Cerci and Jaime had been up to, he knows what those of his house are capable of. So so very unlike Ned Stark, he keeps what has been under wraps, biding time, and playing chess and still remain loyal to his house. While being Hand of the King he does what he can for the realm, not for himself.

Okay I mean, fine Continue reading “A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R. Martin”

Posted in Books, Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge, My Book Reviews

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

via Goodreads.com

Rated: 5/5 stars

Eyes mark the shape of the city.

– page 3, 11:56 PM

Have you ever felt that a certain book could have been written just for you? After Dark is mine. Possessive, I know, that’s how it feels but then since when has a book never been personal? It’s a quiet and observant work of art, one that just states it purpose in an understated inflection that belies its significance, its message to us.

This is my first Haruki Murakami and I have fallen in love. I’ve tried so much, struggled to express into words the soft-but-firm clinging strings of the spell that the night has cast upon me. So far, I haven’t found a short version, After Dark is the long one, and it’s come close.

Commuter trains of many colours move in all directions, transporting people from place to place. Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of the collective entity. Each is simultaneously a part of a self-contained whole and a mere part. Handling this dualism of theirs skillfully and advantageously, they perform their morning rituals with deftness and precision: brushing teeth, shaving, tying neckties, applying lipstick.
– page 241, 6:50 AM

This fact of being an individual entity and a part of an ever morphing jigsaw puzzle of existence simultaneously, has always been on the fringes of my awareness and reading this it fills me with some contentment, now that I’ve finally seen it put in a coherent arrangement of words.

Mari has made her way through the long hours of darkness, traded many words with the night people she encountered there, and come back to where she belongs.
– page 243, 6:52 AM Continue reading “After Dark by Haruki Murakami”

Posted in Books, My Book Reviews

Currently reading: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

It it a beauty?
Isn’t it a beauty?

I’ve been eying this one up for a good time too. The title alone caught my attention since I’m a night animal myself. I’m at page 181 of 244, I’m not sure what to say and I mean that in a good way. I could probably gather my thoughts properly if I wrote after reading it but I’m trying to do like an in-between kind of thing.

Goodreads blurb

At its center are two sisters—Eri, a fashion model slumbering her way into oblivion, and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny’s toward people whose lives are radically alien to her own: a jazz trombonist who claims they’ve met before, a burly female “love hotel” manager and her maid staff, and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These “night people” are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart, and it soon becomes clear that Eri’s slumber—mysteriously tied to the businessman plagued by the mark of his crime—will either restore or annihilate her.
Continue reading “Currently reading: After Dark by Haruki Murakami”

Posted in Books, Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge, My Book Reviews

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

via Goodreads

Rated it: 4.5 stars

Goodreads blurb

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I’ve had this on my to-read list for a couple of years, until recently I finally decided to give it a try. I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed. Percy Jackson is a smart mouthed kid, more than a little hot headed, slightly annoying, I’d say strong minded when it counts and vulnerable but yet ready to take chances. In the beginning I was thinking if he could get more complaining it’s going to be a problem, however, as it turned out he was okay.

Prior to reading this I was aware of Harry Potter parallels. There are certainly similarities, I can make a list now that I’ve finished; there’s the twelve cabins of the major Gods and Goddesses (twenty in all) in the place of the four houses for example. It’s no problem to me because whatever those intersecting concepts are they have valid purposes, it doesn’t seem like a cut-and-paste.

Continue reading “The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan”

Posted in Books, Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge, My Book Reviews

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

via Goodreads

Rated: 4.5 stars

Blurb

Invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion, Nick Carraway, a young bachelor who has just settled in the neighbouring cottage, is intrigued by the mysterious host, Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby’s impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy.

Regarded as Fitzgerald’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Great Gatsby is a vivid chronicle of the excesses and decadence of the “Jazz Age”, as well as a timeless, cautionary critique of the American dream.

~

I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I’d previously thought, the classics genre often hint to a bore of a book, often but not always. The Great Gatsby is, in short, a tragic love story and you’ll find here that a woman can spell ruin for a man, not that it’s news. I can see why many before me consider this a great book. Fitzgerald captured a drop of human nature during the time of easy money and high living in beautiful prose.

Continue reading “The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald”

Posted in Books, Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge, My Book Reviews

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

via Goodreads.

Rated it: 5 stars

Goodreads blurb

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My review

It had taken me about 100 pages to really get into but after then I was hooked. I just fell in love with these two teenagers and their love story. Initially I was skeptical, I mean these were really a deep pair with all their in depth analyzing of well … everything. But I went with it, partly because I think that not everyone takes the time to discover themselves and while I believe Hazel and Augustus were both intelligent, this disease prompted them to grow up much faster. Then there’s a couple lines from a NPR.org review:

Green writes books for young adults, but his voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. He writes for youth, rather than to them, and the difference is palpable …. You will be thankful for the little infinity you spend inside this book.”

I couldn’t have said it better, but Thomas did:

How unrealistic John Green’s characters tend to be has turned me off from most of his other books – the characters in this one suffered slightly from it too – but The Fault in Our Stars as a whole is John Green’s best book to date.

Like I said, at times Hazel (the protagonist) and Augustus (the love interest, but so much more) came off as wise beyond their years. They notice this, their parents notice this, and readers will notice this. However, there is something so human about the way Green portrays them that makes them relatable. They are not simply teens suffering from cancer, but teens who doubt their place in the world, who are filled with angst and longing and confusion and hope. I can’t say I’ve experienced the exact same emotions as Hazel and Augustus have, but I can say that it’s easy to empathize with them and feel their pain entirely.

I totally recommend that you read the entire review.

This is actually hard for me to write, I know what I feel but the words refuse to leave. The Fault in Our Stars is honest, frank, smart, funny, poignant and heartbreakingly beautiful.

TFIOS is the first book where I really don’t care for negative reviews, while they can seldom be agreeable, they won’t change how I feel at all as they used to tickle the doubt that usually lurks around. I can’t remember crying so much since Harry Potter four years ago, it just seems so real. The words read themselves to me as much as I read them, I felt the emotions they dictated head on, fighting it makes no sense.

Continue reading “The Fault in Our Stars by John Green”