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shadrachanki

shadrachanki

Currently reading

Hoard of the Dragon Queen (D&D Adventure)
Wizards RPG Team
The Power of Everyday Missionaries
Clayton M. Christensen
Art of Thank You
Connie Leas
Lectures on Faith
Joseph Fielding Smith
The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1
Jack Kirby, Stan Lee
John Adams
David McCullough
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel
Neil Gaiman
The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
Barry Schwartz

The Crystal Singer

The Crystal Singer - Anne McCaffrey This was a reread for me, and I am fairly certain the last time I read this book was at least fifteen years ago. All things considered it holds up pretty well, but it is definitely science fiction from the late 70s/early 80s.

How to Catch a Bogle (Bogle #1)

How to Catch a Bogle (Bogle #1) - Catherine Jinks, Sarah Watts I liked this book well enough, but in the end there wasn't really anything that grabbed me about it.

Lady Lissa's Liaison

Lady Lissa's Liaison - Lindsay Randall I enjoyed reading this book, in much the same way I will enjoy eating inexpensive candy. Sweet, yes, and diverting, but hardly something I want my literary diet to consist of in the main. I think I would have preferred a longer story (things wrap up incredibly quickly at the end there—too quickly, really) with less reliance on excessive adjectives and tropes and a greater focus on developing more complex characters.

The Walls of the Universe

The Walls of the Universe - Paul Melko While the story is well written and the premise is an interesting one, I had real difficulty relating with the protagonists, as I found a number of their decisions and actions to be rather abhorrent. I can appreciate the literary skill of the author, but I don't know that I will read anything else by him.

The Royal Ranger

The Royal Ranger - John Flanagan So I might have stayed up really late last night finishing this book. Devouring it whole is probably a fairly apt descriptor. And now I want to read it again. Reread the whole series, really.

The marketing of this series fascinates me. I know I need to check the children's section of my local bookshops if I want to find them. They are classified as juvenile fiction, or maybe sometimes as YA (I can't say as I have ever found them shelved in the YA/teen section, however). When the series starts, Will and his friends are fifteen years old, but by this last book they are, at an absolute minimum, in their mid-30s. That's a huge range of ages for a series of books aimed at children, but somehow it works.

Summer Wars, Part 1

Summer Wars, Part 1 - Iqura Sugimoto, Mamoru Hosoda I really enjoyed the Summer Wars movie, so when I saw the manga adaptation at the book store I knew I wanted to check it out. This volume does not disappoint: it has the same slightly odd and wacky slice-of-life feel as the film, but with a bit more of focus on the relationship between Kenji and Natsuki. I'm definitely looking forward to the second volume when it gets released.

Double Identity

Double Identity - Margaret Peterson Haddix This was an interesting read that raised some complex questions regarding identity, but there were quite a few frustrating aspects to it as well. Things like "we're going to continue keeping secrets even though that is obviously not the best course of action and has led to the majority of the problems we've encountered to this point" and some scientific aspects as well. Specifically, cloning and how it would work. Even identical twins--the closest thing we have to human clones--are not 100% the same as each other, so why should Bethany be so similar to Elizabeth, down to favourite foods and hobbies and physical abilities and all the rest? It just doesn't seem feasible to me, even if we are looking at a science fiction story.

Still, all told it is a fun, fast-paced read, and for the intended audience it should be pretty engaging.

Wednesdays in the Tower

Wednesdays in the Tower - Jessica Day George This sequel to [b:Tuesdays at the Castle|10508431|Tuesdays at the Castle (Castle Glower #1)|Jessica Day George|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331678412s/10508431.jpg|15414344] is a delightful continuation of the story of Celie and the Castle. I definitely hope there are more books to come; I want to learn more about these characters.

Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun - David Macinnis Gill First, the positives...there were a lot of fun one liners in this book, a reasonable number of interesting characters, and essentially non-stop action. This made for a fairly quick read.

Unfortunately, for me the negatives rather outweigh the positives. Strike one, it's written in first person present tense. Mostly from the viewpoint of a single character (Durango), but there are some others thrown in there "when necessary". I find first person present tense to be very tricky to pull off properly in fiction. It isn't bad here, but there are a few rough spots and it is hard to get a full sense of the passage of time (not withstanding the date/time stamps at the start of each chapter).

Strike two, starting in medias res combined with throwing a whole lot of unfamiliar terms and story elements at the reader with no explanations given whatsoever. While I am no real fan of the extended info-dump (it usually bogs down a story something fierce), having to piece together what things are and how they work with no confirmation as to whether or not I am doing it correctly isn't particularly fun either. There has to be a balance, and that balance wasn't present here. Having lots of flashy action only carries things so far.

Strike three, there's a definite sense of "story soup" going on here. I could see elements that track to Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender's Game, and samurai films. The tech seems very much subject to hand-wavium, and seems applied inconsistently throughout the story. I found it hard to get a real sense of time and place as a result. Particularly when you have a few characters in a far-distant, semi-dystopian future still quoting heavily from 19th century literature and 20th century culture (and people get the references without problems). Oh, and the mishmash of languages being dropped (untranslated, mind you) here and there, apparently for the purposes of flavour and world-building? Didn't work for me. There were too many of them, they weren't consistently applied, and it just came across as sloppy.

The story is also quite violent. This is to be expected as Durango and company are mercenary soldiers, but still. There were a number of places where it was really hard to follow the action, and on more than one occasion I found myself wondering just how things were supposed to work from a physics perspective. If I'm thinking more about the physics and logistics of a fight than the tension it is supposed to be building in the story, then I'd say something isn't working properly with the story.

I got this book through the B&N Nook Free Friday program.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 1

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 1 - Dave Marshall, Gurihiru, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Gene Luen Yang Well, the art in this is amazing. I love the various and sundry character interactions, and the fact that we're finally going to get questions answered (in theory, at least) is definitely appealing. I definitely want to know what happens next, but I am...concerned with the apparent turn the story is taking based on the ending of this first volume. I'm hoping the obviously telegraphed twist is actually a misdirection to set up for something else, since if they play this particular twist straight I think the story as a whole is weakened.

I'm looking forward to July where we will hopefully get more answers.

The Demigod Files

The Demigod Files - Rick Riordan My reactions to this book are...mixed (hence the average rating). First, the short stories. All three of them were excellent, expanding the story universe and giving more insight into the characters and their motivations. They laid the groundwork for some things that come up later in the series (and in the follow-up series) without bogging down the main narrative. The short stories were the reason I picked up this book in the first place.

Second, the interviews with the various campers and the other Camp Half Blood related stuff. I found these mildly entertaining, but not much beyond that. They do give some insight/information into the characters and how the camp works, but in general they feel pretty light.

Third, the puzzles and games. Again, mildly interesting, but also rather simplistic. This is completely understandable, given the target audience for the book, but I wouldn't have been fussed had they been left out entirely. I'm not a huge fan of puzzles in books anyway, since they can create issues if you lend/borrow the book.

Finally, the character depictions...no. Just no. They don't match up with my mental pictures at all. Too cartoony for my tastes, with exaggerated proportions and garish colours. And there's just something off about the eyes in nearly every picture.

The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan, Joshua Swanson It took me a while to get used to the narrator's vocal style: some of his inflections and pronunciations pulled me out of the story. I did eventually get into it, though, and I think I'll be good for further books. My rating for this particular version would be a 4.5 but since there are no half stars I put it at 4 since I rated the other copy I read a solid 5.

Redwall

Redwall  - Brian Jacques The Redwall series has been one of my favourites for about twenty years. I can't recall exactly how I first learned about the books, but I do remember clearly my mother getting me out of school one day so she could take me to meet Brian Jacques when he came to the area to do a book signing. That was a truly delightful treat.

Despite my love for the series, it had been years since I last read Redwall, and the last time I tried I discovered I wasn't in the mood for that particular book, so I set it aside. Since it had been years, however, I decided to give it another try. I borrowed the audiobook from my local library to listen to during my commute. The full cast audio is delightful, and I really enjoyed listening to this story.

Thing is...I realise now that Redwall is probably my least favourite entry in the series, and in listening to it I've been able to pinpoint a few of the reasons why this is. Redwall is the first book in the series, and on the world-building front it just doesn't mesh cleanly with the later books. The various groups and tribes of creatures are still largely undeveloped. There are mentions of large animals like horses, pigs, and stags, all of which are completely absent in later books. In Redwall there seems to be some implication that the Abbey mice and various woodland creatures are living alongside humans (see the aforementioned farm animals, plus mentions of towns), even though humans are never actually mentioned in the story. Reading Redwall after reading other books in the series winds up being jarring for me, simply because it's a literary step backward.

I still like the book, and I'm sure I'll read (or listen to) it again. Knowing why it isn't my favourite helps me appreciate it for what it is: the foundation and starting point for an amazing series of books that I absolutely love.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Jim  Dale, J.K. Rowling I really enjoy Jim Dale's reading/performance of the Harry Potter series. He does an excellent job differentiating the characters and providing them with distinct voices.

This was only my second time reading (or, in this case, listening) to the seventh book. There were things I'd forgotten, and things I'd remembered from the films which were changes to the storyline. All told, it's a powerful story, and Harry is an amazing man.

Much Ado About Magic

Much Ado About Magic - Shanna Swendson The Enchanted Inc/Katie Chandler novels are easily some of my favourite books. They have just the right blend of elements to make me inordinately happy when I read them, and I'm nearly always in the mood to reread them. I felt the fourth book ended well, but I still wanted to read more about Katie and Owen and Merlin and Rod and all the rest.

So I was extremely happy when I found out Shanna Swendson would be publishing the fifth book in the series as an ebook. I carefully marked the release date on my calendar so I could be sure to purchase a copy (and I really hope there will also be a print edition at some point in the future, because I do so like my books to match in format where possible).

This book did not disappoint in the slightest. I was torn between wanting to savour it slowly and wanting to gobble it up in big chunks of delightful storytelling. It had been a few months since I read the previous books in the series, but I was able to slide right back into the story and connect with the characters once more. The pacing was excellent and I think this book would provide a pretty good entry point to the series (though you will definitely get more out of it by reading the previous books first).

At the very end of the book was a teaser for the sixth book, which is slated to come out in ebook format on 1 October 2012. I already have the date on my calendar, and am eager to see what will happen next.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  - Jim  Dale, J.K. Rowling Overall I greatly enjoy Jim Dale's reading of this novel. He does an excellent job with the various voices (even if a few of them get muddled from time to time) and the audio quality is excellent. I did find, however, that for some reason the fact that they changed "philosopher's stone" to "sorcerer's stone" for the American edition was extra grating on my nerves in my most recent reading/listening of this book. I am not certain why that is the case.

There were actually a few things I had forgotten about since I last read the book, but in general there were no surprises.