What I've Read

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Wild Magic by Tamora PIerce

Wild Magic (Immortals, #1)Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series consumed my youth. I LOVED these novels as a kid. After re-reading, I understand why.

Things I liked:
-great character development
-interesting, fast-paced plot
-there are no lags in the story
-the world and the characters are charismatic and beautiful
-tactful dealing with difficult issues

Things I Didn't Like:
-sometimes predictable
-somewhat optimistic: many of the plans succeed. I would like to see more struggle.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures Manga, (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl & art by Cassandra Jean

Beautiful Creatures: The Graphic Novel (Caster Chronicles)Beautiful Creatures: The Graphic Novel by Kami Garcia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will preclude this review by saying I have never seen the film or read the novel version of this story, but now, I'm planning on doing both.

What I Liked:
-great characterization (for everyone except Lena)
-impacting images
-artistic symbolism and imagery
-interesting blending of supernatural/fantasy mythos
-elements of mystery
-beautiful art (other reviewers have complained about the sketchy style, but I think it added a depth and rawness to the characters)

What I Didn't Like:
-distinct lack of Southern culture
-Lena felt very flat until the end. There was no character progression for her until the final few pages.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: Gandhi: A Manga Biography by Kazuki Ebine

Gandhi: A Manga BiographyGandhi: A Manga Biography by Kazuki Ebine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This manga was a solid 3. There are things that could have been improved upon, but overall, I enjoyed it and learned a great deal.

-the transitions of Gandhi's lifetime were made clear (sometimes with manga, the passage of time is not made so clear)
-the different perspectives were refreshing
-the dialogue was human and was excellent integrating real quotes from Gandhi's life

-the editor/translator should have paid better attention. There are many misspellings in the dialogue
-sometimes the transitions from one character to another were abrupt

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won't lie to you. I probably would never have read this if my boyfriend had not been so incredibly passionate about it.

I would have missed out on a story that may very well do for my adulthood what Harry Potter accomplished in my youth.

Things I loved:
-Kvothe's character development was astounding. Seeing his past self and his future self side by side gives such a significant juxtaposition between then and now.
-The side characters are just as amazing. They have depth and breadth and lives that are just as complex as Kvothe's, and Rothfuss treats them with human respect.
-The story was beautiful, intricate and detailed yet still wild and unkempt, just like traditional oral epics. There is a method to this madness.
-The world. Rothfuss has created a mysterious world full of familiar faces that I just wanted to learn more about (and I will continue to in book 2).

Things I did not care so much for:
-Repetitious phrasing (usually in descriptions). When Rothfuss said something he liked, he returned to it.
-References back to foreshadowing
-There were some typos and grammatical errors (but that's more on the editor than the writer)

I loved this novel and I'm ready to get back to this world.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Book Review: The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive EnergyThe Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this as continuing education for my school per request of my principal. This is a solid 3 star book, and I'll tell you why. The beginning was good, but toward the end, it started to feel too fluffy. I would have liked to see some real challenges overcome through being positive and patient. I mean, it's likely I missed the point.

I've always considered myself a positive person and a great many of those rules are applicable in life as well as within my faith. I think a true cynic would get nothing from this book, but I still agree with the premise.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)Still Life by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel like my review is probably NOT the most accurate because mysteries are generally not my cup of tea, however, Still Life is the exception. Still Life is like a strong cup of Earl Grey with just enough kick and a little sugar thrown into the mix.

The beginning was slow. I'll tell you that right off, but so many first novels in series are slow. The world, characters, and environment have to be set up, understandably. Once you get past the set-up, however, there is no turning back.

The characters are flawed and beautiful. It is quite rare that one finds a novel with characters who are so inherently human that you understand them, even to the point of committing murder. More than anything else, however, Still Life is about relationships. There are breathtaking and sometimes poignant romantic relationships, complex mentor/mentee relationships, and relationships among friends and neighbors in a small town. There are quirky and enigmatic side characters whose stories I so DESPERATELY want to know!

On a technical note, there were some grammatical errors and typos, but Louise Penny's style makes them almost unnoticeable. She switches seamlessly from one perspective to another- sometimes with as many as three or four perspectives on one page. It makes for a fast-paced read.

I will continue this series because I've fallen in love with Three Pines (and who doesn't have at least a little crush on Jean Guy Beauvoir?)

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Book Love

The Book Hacker is back! Sorry for my temporary absence. In the past few months, I've experienced a break-up, got a new (and AMAZING) job, relocated my entire life, and attempted to adjust to all of it.

I'm so excited that this is my first book to review since my sabbatical. I highly recommend it!

Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent ReadersBook Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've only been on the teacher side of the desk for four years, but I'm thoroughly convinced that this idea is what's going to change education. It would have changed my education for sure. Penny Kittle clearly knows the students of today.

Not only does she enlighten on her philosophy, but she also elaborates on practical ways educators could apply this in the classroom. My whole classroom format will change because I read this book and I believe my students will be better for it.

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