Trilogies that only needed two books

list1. Wake trilogy by Lisa McMann

2. Circle Reforged trilogy by Tamora Pierce – This is really three standalones and really only needed the first book: the Will of the Empress)

3. Graceling Realm Trilogy by Kristin Cashore – I admit I need to re-read the third one again, but I was not impressed the first time I read it.

4. The Selection series by Kiera Cass – not really a trilogy but the first three books should have been massively edited into one book slightly longer book.

Alternatively, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins needed a third book but I didn’t like the third book in the series.

 

 

 

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How do you review?

reviewAs a part of my reading goals for 2016 I wanted to start thinking critically about books, attempt to keep up with this book blog and to write at least a few sentences about every book that I read this year and post them on Goodreads.  I write longer reviews on this blog when I feel like I have something important to say.  For instances, in the review of Epic by Conor Kostick, I wanted to discuss the lack of female characters in a story where there is no reason for there to be a lack of female characters.  Two of my recent reviews mentioned how the authors had instances of forced/non-consensual kissing to make a point that this is assault, not romantic. Another review mentioned the issue I have when a dystopian futurist book puts woman in a subservient role which is unrealistic and frankly boring.   

As I work on these goals I have found myself taking down notes on my thoughts about the book I am currently reading in order to help me write a better review.  I have seen others write inside their books and others still that do sticky notes to mark pages so I know I’m not alone in wanting to keep track of my thoughts.  Yet, I have been thinking about this practice recently.

On the plus side this helps me to keep my thoughts ordered or at least remembered for when I go to write a review.  This is a big plus as my thoughts are semi-organized and just need to be fleshed out and ordered before I post them.  Sometimes I don’t even do that and just write up my bullet notes and hit enter.  The time I save by not staring at the computer screen trying to think of that one very important thing I thought I was going to remember because it was very important but have since forgotten is eliminated.

On the minus side it means I need to stop reading to write done these thoughts – and find the little note book I have been writing them in, which if I don’t have it with me is a bit of a pain and I need to remember to grab it if I leave home.  On one hand most of the time I have something to write down it has already brought me out of the storyline so taking a few minutes to write it down doesn’t hurt much.  On another hand, most of my ‘thoughts’ are negative.

Good reviews should have a mixture of positive and negative critics/thoughts/opinions.  I know my reviews often lack in the positive side of things because when a book/writing style/etc works, it works and you don’t think too much on it.  But when something does not work you are often brought rudely out of the train of focus you have on the story and this is when I put pen to paper to comment on why it happened and my thoughts about it.  This is something I am trying to work on and hopefully I will get better at over time. 

 

Spoiling childhood memories?

hogwartssealFor the last two weeks I have been craving re-reading Harry Potter (and and all of them) but have avoided picking up the book.  I have even avoided watching the movies, which might sate the craving.  No doubt this is the cause of my current mini reading slump.  

I’m not 100% sure why I am avoiding the books.  The first three are favourites of mine and read so many times as a child that the books are in pieces on my bookself.  I stopped counting the number of times I have read them when I got to 13 for the first one and 17 for the third.  It has been over ten years since I have read any of the first four books whereas other favourite authors and books get a re-read about every 1-2 years, so it’s not like I don’t re-read books, so I’m overdue for a re-read.

Yet, I think I’m avoiding them because I don’t want to ruin my childhood memories of the books.  

The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce was (still is) a favourite of mine as a child and when I re-read it as an adult I noticed many of the parts or details of the books I thought I remembered were not really there in the detail I thought they were.  In the years since I had read these books (and likely during reading) I had built them up and expanded on what was present on the page.  Not overtly so or breaking with the canon, but they books seemed so bear bones after the re-read.  I still love them but found myself longing for more details and words.  I don’t want to see this happen with my beloved Harry Potter.

Then there is the issue that I have become very hard on books recently as an attempt to think more critically on the books I read and having my eyes opened to problems in books that exist and are perpetuated in book after book.  I was not aware of many of these issues as I read the first three Harry Potter books the first or tenth time and I don’t want to run the risk of Harry Potter books falling into the same traps.  I have also developed pet peeves in more recent years.  At the same time now that I am older and have more schooling and ‘worldly experience’ I might actually understand and appreciate certain parts of the books more then I did when I was very young.    

Right before things got really dark and after a certain favourite character of mine was killed I stopped reading the books as they came out.  There were also some personal issues that also contributed to me putting down the series and not picking it back up until I was 22.  Yet now that I finally know the ending of the series I can go back and discover the connections between the books, something I love to do for my other favourite books and series and I have heard JK Rowling is amazing at this.   But I’m still worried that by going back and re-reading the first four books I will somehow ruin my cherished childhood memories of the magical world of Harry Potter.

Realistically as many many people have read the books and re-read the books I know that they stand up over time and upon re-reading as an adult or I would have heard more on any issues that books have, yet I have still been avoiding it.  I think I will eventually re-read the Harry Potter books and soon, but for now I will continue to avoid them a little bit longer.

Any one else?

thoughtsAnyone else ever hear or read a book summary and think “I want to know how this ends but don’t really want to read the book as it’s not really the type of book I read” or is that just me?  I will go to wiki pages to read the full summary of the book, including the end (aka purposefully spoiled myself) to learn more about a book that I’m not inclined to read but still want to know what happens.  The most recent book to do this to me was After the Woods by Kim Savage (A+ author name and special shout out to the Booktuber Riley Marie for being the cause of this dilemma) which is a mystery/thriller type novel.  While I don’t avoid these types of novels, I don’t tend to reach for them.  Perhaps my interest is meant to get me to branch out into new types/genera of books.  Perhaps this just means that I know what type of books I like to read and know this is not that type but the author (and Riley!) has made such a strong case for the book that I need to know more. 

Am I the only one?

Also, If anyone else has read this book and cares to spoil me for the ending I would really appreciate it! 

DNF’ing your current read

listDid not finish.  Some readers will stop reading a book halfway through and won’t think anything of it.  Others cannot fathom leaving a book unread.  The reasons for putting a book down and trying something else are simple when you look at the list of books to be read and think about all the other things tat need to be done in the mere 24 hours that a day contains.  However, I am part of the latter camp, having only a handful of books that I did not finish out of hundreds and hundreds read. The Hobbit, Game of Thrones and the Diary of Anne Frank are only ones I can think of off the top of my head.  I have put down a book for over a year and gone back to it to finish it off.

 Here are some of the reasons I cannot seem to not leave a book unread:

1. School. There were too many boring requires readings that I had to read that I learned to force myself through on the off chance it might help me on the exam.  As an aside school and lying teachers telling me that the book we were going to read this year is actually interesting is a major reason why I don’t like to read hyped books or books that have been and recommended to me.  However both of my favourite authors were recommendations…

2. What if it gets better?   The major reason so many people push through to the end: the what if? the hope that the ending would somehow redeem the beginning.  I have read several books that had slow starts and stellar endings.

3. I need to know what happens, even if the book is boring me!  This is likely the major contributor for me.  It’s also the reason I will pick up the next book in a series that might not really interest me, because I need to know.  That book I put down for over a year?  I needed to know how it ended. 

4. Is it really so bad that I need to stop reading the book entirely?  Sure I might not be interested but it’s not that bad.   

5. A secondary or minor character saves the book, even if the main character is a drag.  Not even sure if this is a valid reason, but there are too many good side characters in books that need a shout out!

 

 

Big Life Changes (TM)

As expected, due to Big Life Changes TM my reading and blogging pace have slowed dramatically.  I’m still committed to writing and am doing fine with my reading goal so far, at 30% of the way to my goal with the year only about 20% complete.  Knowing this was coming somewhat helped prepare me for the feelings of inadequacy that has accompanied the Big Life Changes TM, feelings which are not helped when I haven’t been able to pick up a book to read or write a new blog posts.  

Mentally I know that there is nothing wrong with slumps and that a good audiobook would help me out of the reading slump side of things, but I need to focus on the ‘being and adult’ side of my life at present.  It’s hard, but necessary.  

Being an Adult and Big Life Changes TM are hard, but I know I will get past this.  

Review: Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

2 starDisclaimer: This book is the third in a series of at least four books, of which the forth has yet to be released.  Extensive reviews for the first two books do not exist, but short reviews can be found on my Goodreads page (link up top or to the side).  This review does not have major spoilers for the first two books but has minor spoilers for this book.

Result: 2 stars out of 5. Overall the book was not as good as the previous ones in the series and I had several major issues with the content.  Despite this, the book was a decent read and I will likely finish off the rest of the series.

Summary (of the series):

Best friends Veronica and Mackenna have just finished high school and have an epic adventure planned in Scotland.  However little do they know that their adventures are going to be more epic then they expected when they stumble upon the kingdom of Doon which is kept out of space and time by an enchantment.  As it turns out Doon is in danger and only Veronica and Mackenna can help save it from the hands of the evil witch.

Review:

One of the major things that I appreciate about this book over the first two in the series is that there were fewer blatant instances of assault against Veronica and Mackenna.  In the past books Jamie and Duncan (and sometimes Fergus) would roughly grab one of the female characters and hold them/prevent them from leaving, would kiss them without consent and be generally abusive.  There were a marked drop in cases of assault in this book which while it’s great, is sad that I have to bring that up as a good thing.  It really does not matter the circumstances of the book, to put it blatantly these things are assault and the previous novels did nothing to comment on/address how this is not how you treat other humans beings.  Instead it seemed to romanize it which is a dangerous thing to do in novels marketed to young women.

Trying to think of other good things to say about this book has be stalled in writing this blog post as there are so many things I can find wrong with this book that resulted in the 2 star rating. The plot was interesting enough but I found parts lacking for reasons I’ll talk about shortly.  The characters were interesting enough but I wasn’t really invested in any of the main characters, only really the side characters which were more bland in this book than in the previous ones.  I will give partial points for managing to – for the most part- hide who was culprit in the book, I thought it was going to be someone else for reasons of a pattern I saw in the author’s writing throughout the first two books.  That’s, sadly, about all of the good I can think of for this book.

On to the bad.  The first thing I’m going to mention is something I took issue to that the authors likely didn’t intend but I need to comment on.  In one scene of the book there is a meeting going on and Sophia was told by a male member of the committee to take notes.  What is wrong with this I hear you ask.  Well she is on equal standing in the committee as basically everyone else on the committee, including the man who asked her to take notes.  For me its a scene that re-enforces certain sexist practices.  Sophia is of equal standing and should have equal opportunity to participate in the meeting which she cannot do when taking notes, something that is both critical for meetings such as this, but is typical looked down upon as ‘woman’s’ work.  As I said, I doubt the authors meant much in this action, but I want to bring this up how this practice in real life is problematic.

On to more realistic critics I have, I took an issue to the writing style of Langdon and Crop in this book.  They adopted a style of telling and not showing.  When the princes were in America and got to experience what is basically the future for the first time this interesting part of the novel is brushed over for less interesting parts (a fundraising party, really??) and when commented on it’s told what happened instead of showing. I blog post about the difference can be found here but overall what I mean about this is that the authors write in a style that does not evoke much feeling for the characters or the situation.

Another aspect of the writing style that I found more irritating than in previous books was the wordy and expositiony introduction to every chapter.  The chapters would often change partway through a scene, which is fine and can be interesting to see what is going on in the mind of another character, however, the authors would introduce each chapter with about a page of exposition before getting back into the action which would through the reader out of the action more that help move the story along.

The second book ended in a ‘cliffhanger’.  This book picked up and brushed aside what happened in the last book (‘I almost died but I’m fine now’, another instance of telling not showing).  I knew what the issue was and it was addressed much later in the book, but the fact that the authors just brushed aside what happened irked me, caused me to put down the book and not pick it up for a long time (I had to force myself to finish it off so that I could move on with other things) and caused me to write an entire blog post about cliffhangers.

A further problem I have had throughout the three books but have yet to mention is the author’s need to make the characters ‘hip’ by adding in ‘relatable’ content such as theatre and real life references.  This more often threw me out of the book and/or confused me because I know nothing about theatre than adding to the book.  Furthermore, the insistant need to have the main characters kiss every other chapter is grating.  There is only so many times I can read about kissing, which is described at length for over a page or two every three chapters before I want to start ripping pages out of the book.  It is boring, unnecessary and gratuitous.  Please just stop.

Finally and maybe the most important writing style issue I have is the misnaming of “American Indians”.  THEY. ARE. NOT. CALLED. THAT.  It’s Native American people.  Use that terminology.  They ARE NOT Indians.

That is the writing style issues I had.  There were also a number of inconsistencies in the book that I will try and describe briefly.  Firstly there is an instance of ribbons appearing where they should be.  Neglecting to keep track of objects/people/hands/etc in a novel is a pet peeve of mine.  Running water in Doon makes no sense considering the infrastructure needed to make flush toilets and showers similar to ours (which is how they are always described) is not present in Doon.  The properties of the bridge which were established in the previous books are broken and the rings suddenly appear as needed in the book.  Finally, the timeline of the part of the book that takes place in America makes no sense.  It is very unlikely that the princes got to America and find Veronica and Mackenna as quickly as they did.  

Overall, these seemingly small issues built up to make me not really enjoy this book.

Last thoughts:

Though I mentioned I will be finishing off this series,  it’s more because I want to see the end of the series rather than a strong interest.