Mar 25

Walking the Nile Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Walking the Nile ReviewWalking the Nile by Levison Wood
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads four-half-stars

The Nile, one of the world’s great rivers, has long been an object of fascination and obsession. From Alexander the Great and Nero, to Victorian adventurers David Livingstone, John Hanning Speke, and Henry Morton Stanley, the river has seduced men and led them into wild adventures. English writer, photographer, and explorer Levison Wood is just the latest. His Walking the Nile is a captivating account of a remarkable and unparalleled Nile journey.
Starting in November 2013 in a forest in Rwanda, where a modest spring spouts a trickle of clear, cold water, Wood set forth on foot, aiming to become the first person to walk the entire length of the fabled river. He followed the Nile for nine months, over 4,000 miles, through six nations—Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan, and Egypt—to the Mediterranean coast.
Like his predecessors, Wood camped in the wild, foraged for food, and trudged through rainforest, swamp, savannah, and desert, enduring life-threatening conditions at every turn. He traversed sandstorms, flash floods, minefields, and more, becoming a local celebrity in Uganda, where a popular rap song was written about him, and a potential enemy of the state in South Sudan, where he found himself caught in a civil war and detained by the secret police. As well as recounting his triumphs, like escaping a charging hippo and staving off wild crocodiles, Wood’s gripping account recalls the loss of Matthew Power, a journalist who died suddenly from heat exhaustion during their trek. As Wood walks on, often joined by local guides who help him to navigate foreign languages and customs, Walking the Nile maps out African history and contemporary life.
An inimitable tale of survival, resilience, and sheer willpower, Walking the Nile is an inspiring chronicle of an epic journey down the lifeline of civilization in northern Africa.

Walking the Nile is one of the few nonfiction books I’ve read this year. Generally speaking, nonfiction doesn’t hold my interest very well, but adventure, travel, and some memoirs are the exception. This book is all three, and it was so very interesting. I borrowed it from my library on a whim, seeing it on their “new arrivals” shelf (even though it was published early 2016).

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For as long as I can remember, I had wanted to embark on an epic journey, one that harked back to the great expeditions of times past, a journey that would test me both physically and mentally in a way that no other could.

Levison Wood is an explorer. By his own admission, he has a perpetual case of wanderlust, traveling at every opportunity and never settling down. Quite the exciting life! This time his itchy feet take him to Africa, to an idea that has grown to an obsession: to walk the length of the Nile, from it’s (debated) source, to its end.

This book is much more than a backpacking story. It’s the story of one man seeing Africa through his first-world eyes, and coming to realize that when a person is still fighting just for daily survival, they cannot be concerned with his first-world piety. At one point, while trekking through Uganda, he writes:

In the Mabira we’d seen 500-year-old trees sawn down at a rate of ten a day by teenagers who’d been paid three dollars by the landlord. This was big money for a poor villager, and with the economics of the industry working like that, what hope was there for convincing local Ugandan people to leave the forests alone? It’s all well and good preaching the wonders of conservation, but not to men with families to feed and roofs to keep over their heads.

Wood is obviously pained to see this scenario played out again and again. He admits to not having the answers. He listens to the arguments of native Africans who decry his comments about the destruction of Africa’s great wilderness and lands.

“You whites cut down your forest hundreds of years ago,” he said. “You had your industrial revolution, and when you needed wood you took it. Well, now we need ours. We need to plant crops to feed our children, and plant sugar so you can feed yours whatever shit you feed them.”

OUCH.

The books doesn’t dwell on these issues for the entirety, however. Wood is moving along his 4,000+ mile journey, through such varied terrain and countries that at times even reading about them makes your head spin. While the adventures of explorers like David Livingston are obviously close to his heart, at first he doesn’t seem to entirely feel the dangers of his modern day exploration. That changes however, when he is joined by a couple of journalists partway through the journey and one of them shockingly and suddenly succumbs to heat stroke. Prepare your tissues.

Actual danger for Wood himself escalates in the last half of the book, as Wood is (understandably, perhaps), detained and accused of being a spy in South Sudan. This is not the Western world. This is Africa. Rules do not apply. Eventually, Wood ends up changing his plans slightly to avoid the civil war.

All in all, this was an amazing book that only intensified my own desire for travel. Africa seems even more terrifying after reading it, but Wood’s descriptions of the people of Africa make it more approachable and more real than anything else I’ve read. My only complaint is that about 1/3 of the way through, it did seem to slow down a lot and get a bit mired down (much like that actual part of Wood’s journey). I pushed through it though, and was immensely glad I did!

four-half-stars

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Mar 22

Writing Up Wednesday #8: Motivation, Schmotivation

Books/Writing 0

writing up wednesday

Welcome to another week of Writing Up Wednesday! I’ve been so excited to see more people participating in this, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂 One BIG NEW THING I’m announcing this week is the creation of the Writing Up Wednesday page, where you can currently find the next 2 months of topics posted. I know a lot of people write their posts in advance, so I wanted to provide that opportunity to you all. 🙂 I’ve also added a list of previous weeks topics that I will try (key word) to keep updated. So on to this week! I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say about this one.

Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #8: Motivation, Schmotivation

Motivation plays a big part in our writing. Or does it? Can you write without motivation? I think most of us would say no. Writing – unless you’re Stephen King or someone who has already “made it” big as a writer – is mostly done because we love it, not for monetary or any other personal gain. So what’s your motivation? Can you write on days you’re not feeling it?

Most of us write because we love it, or we have a passion to share with the world (hopefully both!). But surely I’m not the only one who opens my computer some days and it’s a bad day or a sunny day and I’m just not motivated to write a single damn word.

This past weekend, I was super freaking motivated. I had been stewing on a part of my novel for weeks. And weeks. I had barely written 100 words in that time. I was so caught up on this one thing. But then I finally decided that I just needed to WRITE, regardless of quality…and I struggled through that particular scene and then I. Was. On. Fire.

Last week, I had time to write. I had (theoretically) the ability. I even sat down and opened my current WIP in Scrivener a few times. And then I Facebooked. I blogged. I watched cat videos. I stalked GoodReads (my TBR is screaming again). I had no motivation. But, had I just forced myself, could I have written a few hundred words each of those days?

Yes. Yes, I could have. It’s my opinion that true motivation for a project never really dies – we may grow tired or disillusioned, but the spark we felt for the original project never actually leaves us. Sometimes pushing through the rough part is all we need to feel the heat of that first spark again. Now, can I write something without having felt any motivation for it in the FIRST place?

College essays, I’m looking at you.

But wait, that wasn’t truly without motivation. My motivation was to get the BEST GRADES possible, so I could maintain a high GPA. I might have despised what I was writing about, but that is still motivation, just of a different type.

Contrast that with me reading a short story contest blurb and having absolutely no interest in writing a 10K story about aliens and Kansas. Motivation? None. Not even the slim chance of winning whatever “grand prize” they’ve dreamed up will motivate me to write that story.

So, my answer to the original question is no. I, personally, cannot write without SOME type of motivation – be it that I simply LOVE the story I’m telling, or that I feel very strongly about something, or that I want a good grade. What about you? Be sure to add the link to your post below!

 

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Mar 20

Crown of Midnight Review

Book Reviews 4 ★★★★

Crown of Midnight ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 418
Goodreads four-stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Everyone has read this book already. Everyone, except me. Therefore, I’m departing from my usual format for my Crown of Midnight review. This is a play-by-play of my reactions as I read the book – yes, I kept very detailed notes, down to the page number! I probably could have finished it a lot faster without…but I just couldn’t stop. I also took a lot MORE of these notes in the last half of the book than the first, hehe. It probably goes without saying, but, um…

SPOILER ALERT!!! For ToG, Books 1 & 2

Okay, now I don’t feel guilty. Here we go!

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Beginning: Well, hopefully a few people will have become actual adults this time…(you can see my rather unimpressed review of Throne of Glass here)

6 – Ewwwww…glad to see Celaena hasn’t lost her love of the dramatic, I guess?

15 – “Plans” seem a little overrated.

25 – Why is Chaol still so worried about the king? The king is evil. Chaol is not. I don’t understand this loyalty.

29 – I don’t like this Roland person.

31 – WHY SO MANY CLOTHES AND SHOES?!? I don’t understand.

36 –

Unlike Celaena’s [bookshelf], which housed every title she got her hands on, whether she liked the book or not.

THERE’S my girl.

43 – I want a necklace that glows when danger is near, damn it.

74 – And now I miss MY best friend, damn it. Nehemia is the best.

89 – Chaol, you overprotective ASS…you better watch yourself.

91 – Ugh. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of courtiers/courtesans, male or female (not in this context, anyway). I get that sometimes it’s a lifestyle choice, but in this case it’s pure slavery and…UGH.

92 – I’m a little disturbed that so far the only same sex relationships in this series are portrayed as a taboo thing, something to hide and keep behind closed doors. I get that maybe that’s how Adarlan’s society IS, buuuuut…it seems like it never occurs to anyone, even our heroine, to look at it differently.

111 – Aaaaahhh secret passageways and tunnels!! Or rather, more of them.

138 – Phew. There for a minute I thought we were headed for a love SQUARE. At least now we’re back to love triangle that IS NOT a triangle, according to Dorian. Just keep believing that there, little buddy.

192 – Ok. I love Chaol, as much as he’s flawed and torn by his idea of loyalty. And I feel like my heart is going to be broken by it somewhere along the line…

223 – Now there’s the assassin I’ve been waiting to see!

229 – WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING OMG NO NO NO NO.

230 – THIS IS ALL WRONG. SO WRONG. WHAT EVEN.

241 –

Death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.

246 – I’m so sad I don’t even know if I can keep reading this.

(puts book down for about a day)

267 –

Then Celaena and the King of Adarlan smiled at each other, and it was the most terrifying thing Dorian had ever seen.

Yikes.

291 – I love how everyone gets upset and distraught and…runs to the library for their happy place.

294 – Are you kidding me, Chaol?? You’re STILL having twinges of conscience about this bloody tyrant of a king? Or is it Dorian you’re actually worried about? Because that’s slightly more acceptable even if it doesn’t make you any less stupid.

296 – Ooooh is the battle hungry rebel guard a woman?

297 – LOL JK

300 –

“Then you will always have a place here.”

Oh, god, Dorian. Come on now.

309 – Well, that doesn’t reek of LotR AT ALL.

313 – OH MY GOD CHAOL. Just because she’ll never trust you again doesn’t make her a threat to one of her best friends.

328 – Hold on – does it occur to anyone that she’s going to have to walk/climb/run back up ALL THOSE STAIRS? That’s a lot of freakin’ stairs…

339 – Haha. Ok well, glad someone addressed that problem.

357 –

The world didn’t need an assassin with a coward’s heart. It needed someone like Nehemia.

366 – Archer =

373 – Yes, yes beg ALL the gods that will listen.

374 – NOT FLEETFOOT!!! :'(

378 – Okay, any man that will risk his life to save her dog…

379 – Well I knew SOMETHING was coming I just didn’t expect THAT SOMETHING.

Am I the only one that was just…not expecting that AT ALL??

389 – That’s right, call her a good woman. Probably not the best thing you could have said right there.

393 – WAIT WHAT?!?!? SHE KNEW ALL ALONG?????? WTF?!?

398 – “Her” kind, clever prince? WHA?

405 –

“Knowing the truth, whatever it may be, will not change what you must do tomorrow – where you must go.”

Why have I not seen THIS quote on a t-shirt?

408 –

Never forgive, never forget.

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Yeah, ok. So. That was one big puddle of feelings and some confusion. I have many mixed…thoughts. I felt this one was much better written than the first (thank you, SJM, for sparing us the many repeated descriptions of just.how.beautiful. Celaena is), and it was overall much more interesting. We learned a  lot more about the world, about Celaena’s background (OBviously), as well as Chaol’s, and some new, very interesting characters were introduced (Baba Yellowlegs?? I was so disappointed that she had such a brief part).

I’m so bummed that Nehemia died. And in such a truly SENSELESS way. Actually, bummed doesn’t even begin to describe it. The book itself even states that it was a catalyst, an instigator, that she sacrificed herself in order to goad Celaena into action…WTF?!? That is so wrong and sad on so many levels. I’m extremely disappointed in that aspect. I’ve seen a few different bloggers talk about how in some very popular books, POC are used as plot devices…and I’m guessing that this is one of the chief offenders. No matter how much of an amazing character Nehemia was, the fact is that her death was used as a tool is just beyond sad.

The ending was awesome, though. I love that Celaena is strong enough to say goodbye, even when she knows it is probably goodbye forever, or at least goodbye to the happiness she had. I still love Chaol even if he’s a complete dunderhead, and I have hopes that he will come around. He doesn’t seem to be an ENTIRELY lost cause. And Dorian…I can’t even begin to figure out what’s going on with Dorian. He’s such an utterly nice person, and it kind of makes him boring but I want him to be happy. Oh, and whatever happened to Roland?? Like he was there, and vaguely creepy and unsettling and then he was just…nothing. So confused.

This is such a popular series I’m sure most people who read my blog have read it, so (WITHOUT spoiling the next books, please!), tell me what you think! I’d love to talk about it some more.

four-stars

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Mar 20

Down the TBR Hole #17

Books/Writing 2

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story (who has, somehow, already made it completely through his own TBR)!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have…uh…623. This week was HORRIBLE. I swear every single blog post I read featured a book that I just couldn’t bear to forget. As always…MUST READ FASTER. Or clone myself. That would be acceptable too. 😛 Anyway, this week I’m looking at numbers 87-91 of the original list.

 

Title/Author: After the War is Over (The Great War #2), by Jennifer Robson

Date Added: February 16, 2015

Thoughts: I must not have realized this was a sequel when I added it. Regardless, and despite my continued love for historical fiction, this series sounds very dull now.

Judgment: Go.

 

 

 


Title/Author
: Chateau of Secrets, by Melanie Dobson

Date Added: February 16, 2015

Thoughts: This actually still sounds really interesting. I’m a bit put off by how few reads it has, but it intrigues me.

Judgment: Keep.

 

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: The Kraken King, Part One (The Iron Seas #4.1), by Meljean Brook

Date Added: March 1, 2015

Thoughts: I’m so confused by this. I’ve never read anything by this author. And the book was published in installments…wtf?

Judgment: Go.

 

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: The Iron Duke (The Iron Seas #1), by Meljean Brook

Date Added: March 1, 2015

Thoughts: Oh. Ok. THIS book is the first in the series that the last book came from…and actually sounds cool and fun.

Judgment: Keep.

 

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: Warrior (The Blades of the Rose #1), by Zoe Archer

Date Added: March 1, 2015.

Thoughts: What is this Raiders of the Lost Ark looking thing…let me read this review…hahahaha ok nope.

Judgment: Bye.

 

 

 

 

3/5 gone this week. Progress! But not enough to make up for all the ones I’ve added since my last Down the TBR Hole post. Hehe. Oh well. Win some, lose some. I will never get tired of searching for and finding books. 🙂

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Mar 19

Something Else Sunday

Books/Writing, Cats, Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 0

something else sunday

So, I’m changing up my posting schedule a bit. I’d been thinking about it for awhile and then Puput’s post on Figuring Out Your Perfect Blogging Schedule gave me the extra little push I needed.

I love books. I love writing. I love writing about books. However, I also have 50 million other interests (I’m not even really joking), as well as a family. I am also getting ready to move from Korea back to the States, which is a logistical nightmare and will undoubtedly eat up more than its fair share of time.

In order to continue to enjoy blogging and not burn out, I’m paring down my posts and narrowing in on focus. And here’s what you can expect!

Mondays: Down the TBR Hole
Tuesdays: Bookish or discussion post
Wednesday: Writing Up Wednesday
Friday: book review

If I feel inspired or have extra time, I may add additional posts, but for now this is what works best for me. You might notice, if you’re paying close attention, that Something Else Sundays are not on that list. I created this series because I still wanted to talk about my other interests. And lately…I just feel like they don’t belong here anymore. So I’ve created multiple instagram accounts and a little side blog for my garden/nature pursuits. You can find me in these various places:

Fiber arts Instagram: BentNeedles
Gardening Instagram: BentGardener
Adventure/Exploring Instagram: BentAdventurer

Now these things may bleed over now and then and I may still do personal updates every so often, but trying to come up with stuff every week was just exhausting. Especially when a lot of weeks, it seems like all I do is work and read if I’m lucky to have time! Oh, and…

Don’t worry, Sir Tristan will still be putting in appearances now and then as well. 😉 I hope this new schedule and the freedom from pressure I feel like it will bring me results in a blog that’s more fun for my readers, with less “extra” stuff that really isn’t in your interests!

Last week on the  blog:

This week:

  • Down the TBR Hole #17
  • Crown of Midnight (YA review)
  • Writing Up Wednesday #8: Motivation
  • Walking the Nile (nonfiction review)

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Mar 18

Forget Me Not Review

Book Reviews 4 ★★★★★

Forget Me Not ReviewForget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 14th 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Modern
Pages: 336
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

A girl with Tourette syndrome starts a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this debut middle-grade novel in verse.
Calliope June has Tourette syndrome. Sometimes she can't control the noises that come out of her mouth, or even her body language. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But soon the kids in her class realize she's different. Only her neighbor, who is also the class president, sees her as she truly is—a quirky kid, and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?
As Callie navigates school, she must also face her mother's new relationship and the fact that she might be moving again—just as she's starting to make friends and finally accept her differences. This story of being true to yourself will speak to a wide audience.

I ran across this book by reading Mishma’s author interview over on her blog, Chasing Faerytales. It’s amazing, PLEASE GO READ. I’ve been participating in the Diverse Reads 2017 challenge, hosted by Mishma and Shelley, and while I had already chosen my March book (still waiting on it to arrive), after I read the preview of this one on Amazon I simply HAD to read it. And oh, look at that! It’s also a 2017 debut novel, so I FINALLY get to add one to that challenge as well!

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Ancient Greeks called the planets

      planetoi

because it means “wanderers,”
and because planets don’t stay

in
one
fixed
place

they’re constantly moving,
wandering between the stars,

like me.

Calliope June has Tourette’s Syndrome. She also has either an extremely heartbroken or extremely immature mother, I can’t decide which. I waffled between feeling sorry for her mom, or being absolutely furious with her. Regardless, Cassie has lived in 10 different places in the past 9 years. Every time her mom breaks up with a guy, they move. With no warning. While Callie recognizes that her mom loves her, she also slowly comes to see that she is also wrong in some of the ways she “shows” her love. I was really happy when, towards the end, Cassie found the inner strength to confront her mother about some of those things.

Callie’s tics cause her a lot of embarrassment. She tries so hard to control them, but that only seems to make them worse. Her consciousness of them and yet the constant betrayal by her body were very eye-opening. I’ve never known anyone with TS and my only real media exposure is the bartender in The Boondocks Saints. It’s sad that there isn’t more education on this condition and that so much fun is made of it. The kids at Callie’s school never thought twice, and even her own mother is embarrassed by it. HER MOTHER! Callie is embarrassed enough, she certainly doesn’t need anyone telling her to try to stop, or hide her tics. Despite all that, she is such a huge-hearted person and continues to pick herself up and continue on. Sure, she has emotional moments – but we all do, and most of us don’t struggle with a health condition that has our own body backfiring on us every second of every day.

I loved the verse in this book – and I am so, SO far from being a poetry person. In fact, when I first saw that this book was written in verse I nearly didn’t look any further because of that. But I was intrigued by the concept, and I’ve never read anything that had a character with TS, so I read the excerpt on Amazon and I had to have the rest of the book RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. Turns out that there are two points of view in the story: Callie’s, the verse, and Jinsong’s, the prose. It works beautifully. The verse feels like a stream-of-consciousness narration.

The characters took me back to middle school. Callie and Jinsong are so very real. Jinsong made me angry for awhile, because even though he likes Callie at first he feels too embarrassed by her to stand up for her. It was really sickening…but he grows. He finds his backbone, and his heart, and it’s just the most adorable thing ever.

My heart broke for Callie the entire way through the book. The amount of resilience and tenacity she shows is incredible. Even when the very person who should help her and care for her the most barely gives her the time of day. Also, kids are so, so MEAN. I loved that as embarrassed and hurt as she would sometimes be though, Callie still found it in her to fight back.

“They all have friendship lockets.
Every girl at Black Ridge has one,
except you.”

I glance at Beatriz’s neck.
“And you.”

BURN, baby, burn.

This was a phenomenal book. I really felt like the author put us right into Callie’s shoes. The writing was flawless – not once did I feel jolted out of the story by any sort of author intervention, and the ending…well. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. But it’s worth it! It fits. And there is hope, because Callie is not the sort of person to let her condition or her mother stop her.

There are a lot of quotes from the book that I would love to share. I bookmarked SO many. But I really think this is one you need to go read for yourself. So please, go buy a copy or request your library to buy one!

forget me not review
five-stars

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Mar 16

Writing Up Wednesday – Pause

Books/Writing 0

writing up wednesday

Hi everyone! Writing Up Wednesdays will be back next week. I’m taking a break this week to write a few posts in advance, and will have a list of upcoming topics updated sometime this weekend. This way we can ALL plan posts in advance…I know I don’t like waiting until the DAY OF to write something, so I don’t want to limit anyone’s participation by doing the same. So until I get the list together…

Next week’s prompt: MOTIVATION. What motivates you to write?

 

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Mar 14

Review of The Graveyard Book

Book Reviews 4 ★★★★

Review of The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
on September 30, 2008
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal
Pages: 312
Goodreads four-stars

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Another one for my Newbery Award Reading Challenge! Somehow, I had never read anything by Neil Gaiman. The closest I had come until last week was seeing the movie Stardust. Which was…different. This is what sticks out most in my memory from that movie because for whatever reason it struck me as absolutely freaking hilarious:

Ahem. Yes, I might have the sense of humor of a 12 year old, at times. ANYWAY. This was my first foray into Gaiman’s works, and it definitely won’t be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade novel, and hope that his adult books are just as entertaining if not more so. So without further ado, I present my review of The Graveyard Book!

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There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

Well, if that’s not a hair-raising beginning I don’t know what is! The first chapter was very creepy and just odd enough to make me suspect that something more than just a mass murder was afoot. Thankfully for the target age range, this chapter is by far the most creepy and the rest of the book is mostly adventures and Bod (the MC) growing up.

How you interpret or read this book is going to be greatly effected by how familiar you are with its inspiration, which was Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The resemblance is clear but the characters and setting are SO different and I love the way Gaiman wove in supernatural legends to the basic story of a child raised by ghosts. While all the events of Bod’s growing up years are connected, many of the chapters read like individual short stories, especially when there are jumps in time as Bod grows older.

Silas, Bod’s guardian, is a character that puzzled me right up until the very end. “Not dead but not alive” is the description given of him, along with a few other things that REALLY should have clued me in but for whatever reason I was oblivious. Even though he is Bod’s ultimate authority, Bod is mostly raised by the benevolent ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens, along with many other helpful specters. As it is stated in the beginning, when the ghosts decide to allow Bod the protection of their borders, “It will take a graveyard,” to raise the lost boy properly.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bod’s journey. As he moves through very young childhood towards his teen years, he meets many creatures from outside the world of the living. He talks to people centuries old. He learns things. Gradually, he comes to realize that while the graveyard has offered him protection and care in the best way its residents know how, he will have to leave in order to learn about the current world outside. Leaving though, is full of peril, because the evil that killed his parents and older sister, still seeks after him. Bod however, is not a shrinking violet.

“Well,” said Bod. “If I go outside in the world, the question isn’t, ‘who will keep me safe from him?'”

“No?”

“No. It’s ‘who will keep him safe from me?'”

A confrontation looms closer and closer, and at last Bod has his chance to avenge his family and reclaim his own life. This is the one part of the story that I really felt unsatisfactory. Though in the end, the reason for the murder of Bod’s family and the attempted murder of Bod is somewhat explained, it’s really a very murky, insubstantial reason that left me squinting at the book and thinking, “That’s it?” The ending is rather bittersweet too, as Bod realizes that, with the world safe for him at last…he must go out to seek his own fortune.

Overall, this was an entertaining coming-of-age story, with a unique twist. Bod is a very plucky little guy, and his spirit made me smile all the way through.

Bod said, “I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want,” he said, and then he paused and he thought. “I want everything.”

“Good,” said Silas.

 

four-stars

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Mar 13

Down the TBR Hole #16

Books/Writing 2

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 615. MUST. READ. FASTER. Today we’re looking at numbers 82-86 of the original list.


Title/Author
: Midnight Riot (Peter Grant/Rivers of London #1), by Been Aaronovitch

Date Added: January 7, 2015

Thoughts: Um, what?

Judgment: Go!

 

 

 

 


Title/Author
: Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener, by Joseph Tychonievich

Date Added: January 8, 2015

Thoughts: I’m such a nerd. I love genetics, be they for plants, animals, or people. However, this book looks very basic in the descriptions and reviews I’ve read, and I really want something more detailed.

Judgment: Uhhhh…this is hard. But, go.

 

 

 

Title/Author: Deep-Rooted Wisdom: Skills and Stories from Generations of Gardeners, by Augustus Jenkins Farmer

Date Added: January 11, 2015

Thoughts: This sounds like a bunch of pretty little anecdotes…cute, but I don’t have time for this right now.

Judgment: Go.

 

 

 

Title/Author: The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose #1), by Jennifer Donnelly

Date Added: February 8, 2015

Thoughts: STILL want to read this, and since adding this one to my list I read another one of her books (Deep Blue) and really enjoyed it.

Judgment: Keep!

 

 

 

 

Title/Author: A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor

Date Added: February 16, 2015

Thoughts: This sounds like an OK book, but very slow and boring and…nah.

Judgment: Go.

 

 

 

 

Wow, that was better than I expected this week! 4/5 off the list. Which might have made up for the ones I added last week..maybe. Hehehe.

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Mar 12

Something Else Sunday #28

Books/Writing, Life 1

Well, it’s another Sunday and here we are. I actually read books this week! Not entirely in the way I anticipated…I ended up with a DNF because I’d been reading an ARC of the book for a MONTH and then it was released and my ebook expired. Whoops. It was a beautifully written book but it was just so darn SLOW. Like, “Oh look at the pretty…oooo shiny…ooooo…yawn.” Nothing ever seemed to happen. But I liked the writing, I really did! So I haven’t posted a rating yet because I feel like it would be unfair. Anyway. I actually wrote reviews this week, so that’s a big win. 😀

BIG NEWS: We have our tickets for moving back to the States!!!! And our several hotel reservations. And the beginnings of plans with friends. And I sent someone an e-mail that said “See you in a few weeks” and it was REAL. I’m so freaking excited. So many changes. So many things.

With all THAT going on, it’s been a bit of a struggle to concentrate on reading and writing. Especially writing. My poor novel has been SO neglected it’s shameful and I’m really doubting I will make my goal of finishing it by the end of this year. Hoping to sit down and revamp my goals a bit this week. I was really inspired by NovelKnight’s Writer’s Bucket List post this week (which I somehow, inexplicably, cannot find to link)…I think I may need to make my own.

I didn’t much this week other than work and read…and worry about all the crap we have to get done in order to move. But I did write blog posts! Even TWO book reviews. So proud of myself. 😉

Last week:

This week:

That’s all for this week! Hope you’re all getting some warmer weather and getting ready for spring. 🙂

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