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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"The Boxtrolls" - Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

"The Boxtrolls" 
Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

'The Boxtrolls" was written based off a movie that came out awhile ago. It's available on Netflix but I have yet to watch it. I think the reason I haven't watched it is because I really didn't enjoy the novel, unfortunately. 

The novel is written for a much younger age, but that isn't the reason why I don't recommend it. Let's start by recapping the book before I get into my reasons for not liking it. 

"The Boxtrolls" is a story of a town, Cheesebridge, and it's two categories of "residents" living there. In the above group you have humans who are oddly obsessed with cheese... as in it consumes their whole lives. Oh, and they have a holiday celebrating the kidnapping and death of a baby that they celebrate every year. Talk about being morbid!

The second set of "residents" reside underground and only come up at night, at their own risk. THese are the Boxtrolls. The name seems to be a pretty literal one - they are trolls that wear boxes. They are also named after the boxes they wear, such as "Fish" and "Shoes". They are fantastic at building, and they have one special "Boxtroll" living among him. His name is "Eggs". While he thinks he's a boxtroll he's quite different looking than the others. He is a little human boy, who's been living with the Boxtrolls for as long as he can remember. 

A tradition in the Boxtroll world is that, once you reach a certain age, you are allowed to go on missions above ground to collect resources used to build things. Eggs is desperate to go on one of these missions but, for some reason, no one will let him go. Finally, he gets his break and goes above ground. It is on this first trip that he is seen by a little girl, Winnie. From there his world is turned upside down, as well as the worlds of both sets of "residents" in Cheesebridge. 

While this book has the potential to be good, here are my reasons for not liking it. 

1) It is hard to follow because of the half-English / Half-Boxtroll terminology that is used. The book bounces back and forth between the two "resident" types in the city, but having different terminology made it difficult to follow at times, which makes me presume that a younger audience might also have a hard time following it. 

2) The whole "Trubshaw Baby Abduction" celebration just doesn't sit right with me. I read some pretty messed up things but the celebration and story behind the Trubshaw Baby just doesn't seem like it's appropriate in a book written for younger kids. I started reading this book as a recommendation for my 7-year-old son but honestly, I don't think that it's appropriate for him to be reading about a baby abduction and murder by Boxtrolls and then a whole celebration for the event. While nothing goes into detail, the concept just doesn't sit right with me as a parent. 

So, coming from a parental opinion, I don't really recommend this book to the age group it seems to be targeted at. While each parent has a different opinion on what is acceptable for their children to be reading, and I don't dare start attempting to set the standards on what you should and shouldn't do as a parent, I wouldn't let my son read this yet. Maybe in a few years. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Stay Crazy" - Erica L. Satifka

“Stay Crazy”
Erica L. Satifka

“Stay Crazy” by Erica L. Satifka is a roller-coaster novel with a wonderfully additive main character, Em. Em is a schizophrenic teenage girl who doesn’t care about anyone, or so she thinks. She’s a spunky character who’s easy to fall in love with, quirks and all.

After a stay in a care facility, she’s back at home and working to get better. Despite her cynical outlook on life and people, she somehow finds a way to work through everything she’s been through. Her stay at home begins with long, drawn-out vegetative sessions on the couch watching boring tv. Her mother, with best intentions, finally drags her to the Savertown USA, a one-stop box store, and begs the manger to give Em a job. From here on out, the story gets interesting.

“Stay Crazy” was an easy read for me, but I really enjoyed it. I found the plot line, inter-dimensional beings and all, to be quite creative. The characters were unique and easily defined. The only downside to this novel that I found was that the “end battle” was not as climatic as I anticipated it would be.

All-in-all, I really do recommend this book to anyone looking for a light and entertaining read. I think the author has a good spunkiness to her that I hope to see in more novels from her. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell you She's Sorry" - Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Fredrik Backman

While preparing for my flight to Juneau, Alaska, I picked up this book as a sporadic moment in the checkout line. While I admit I picked it up for the wrong reasons (I happened to me upset at my mother, the grandmother of my son at the time of purchase and thought the irony was good) it turned out to be a fantastic read.

The story starts out about a seven-year-old girl (almost eight as she often points out) named Elsa. This is another reason the irony was good – my son is seven also. Her best and only friend is her eccentric grandmother of seventy-seven years of age. The bond between Elsa and her grandma is unbreakable until the unthinkable happens.

In a sudden turn of tragedy, Elsa is left without her best friend. Her grandmother passed away and Elsa was suddenly left without a friend or a reason in the world, or so she thought. Despite her grandmother being in the grave, she sends Elsa on the adventure of a lifetime where she discovers who she is and who everyone living in her apartment building really is. Fantasy becomes a reality in a blink of an eye.

This is an easy read for me, but I enjoyed the author’s wit throughout the novel. His quirky inclusions of nerdy characters like the X-men and Harry Potter made my day. Being a big X-men fan myself, his comparison of Elsa’s mother and Grandmother’s relationship to Cyclops and Wolverine’s relationship made my day.

While this was an impulse buy in the grocery line, with a 25% off sticker, it’s one of the best book purchases I’ve made in a long time. I ended up finishing it on the flight back to Anchorage. I just couldn’t put it down. I’m going to have to hunt down other books by this author!  

Monday, May 30, 2016

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" - Ransom Riggs

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"
Ransom Riggs

In my hunt for something to read, my Mom (in her wonderful large home library) recommended that I read the series "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children". Given my like for unusual stories, all things horror, and wanting a light read after my last very heavy read, she recommended this. 

While I will say it is an incredibly easy read for me, I greatly enjoyed it. While the prologues usually don't interest me much, this prologue pulled me in and I was hooked. It opens with Jacob reflecting on his life, which he's always viewed as ordinary, some unexpected and extraordinary things begin to happen around him. Most of these events seem to be centered around his eccentric grandfather, Grandpa Portman.

Grandpa Portman used to thrill Jacob with his monster stories and strange pictures of "unique" children. His reflections of a house on a hill, surrounded by water and watched over by "The Bird" make Jacob long for adventure. Jacob used to believe these stories to be true but, as children do, they outgrow the stories and no longer believe them. That's exactly where Jacob's troubles begin, and Grandpa Portman's life ends. 

This book was a wonderful read. The story line was simple but highly engaging. There were little turns here and there to keep you guessing. Coupled along with unique and well-placed pictures throughout the book, this is a must read for everyone. I can't wait to read the second in the series!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"The Sacrosancts: Journey Unleashed" - Naveen Manohar

"The Sacrosancts: Journey Unleashed"
Naveen Manohar

"The Sacrosancts: Journey Unleashed" by Naveen Manohar is a book that has found a unique place in my heart. I had the benefit of working with the author and got to see this book really come to life. It is an adventurous story that I will certainly read more than once. 

"The Sacrosancts" is a suspenseful adventure through historical periods. John, Eddy and the stray dog, Kina, start their journey in a coal mining town. Eddy is a young boy that is tormented by voices, visions and all around scary experiences. Why these things happen to him has not only Eddy baffled, but his father, John, scared for the boy's well being. Deciding to give Eddy a break from the visions they head towards the town of Hamlet. That is where the adventure really begins to get interesting. 

I would have to say that my favorite part of this book is the witty dialogue. Eddy seems wise for his age, and some of the comments he has with John, and the monologues with Kina (the stray dog) make me smile and laugh. This book is the type of book that, the more you read it, the more the characters come to life. 

If you enjoy historical novels with a dash of adventure and mystery, then this is a great book for you to pick up. Naveen Manohar is an aspiring new author, and I look forward to seeing more of his works out on the market. It is an easy and enjoyable read, perfect for cuddling up under a blanket with tea on a rainy day. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester

"The Professor and the Madman" 
Simon Winchester

Every year my mother does something pretty cool for Christmas. She has us answer these questions to create a Christmas list: Something you want, Something you need, Something to Wear and Something to read. Now the last category, Something to read, was expanded to be Something to read/watch/play. That's besides the point.

While I was looking for something to put down for the Something to read category I stumbled across this book, "The Professor and the Madman". People usually say don't judge a book by the cover, but the cover was exactly the reason why I read it. On the cover there is an eye-catching recap of the book that intrigued me. It said:

A Tale Of Murder, Insanity,
And The Making Of The
Oxford English Dictionary

With a recap like that how could I resist! While it was placed on my Christmas list, I did not get it for Christmas. However, I later discovered, it was because my mom (the avid book reader she is) already had it and let me borrow it. 

"The Professor and the Madman" starts out fairly slow, and could easily lose the attention of readers if they weren't particularly drawn to the book before starting out with it. The first chapter begins with the definition of murder and an explanation of where the word came from and how it came to be. To be honest, this part was insanely tedious and difficult to read at bed time (my usual reading time). However, the promise of murder and insanity from the front cover kept me reading. 

The first chapter picks up a bit by describing a murder in a very unsuspecting town, with a surprising murderer. The story then starts to pick up, revealing a delightful journey of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the sorrowful story of one of the top contributors to the dictionary. 

Each chapter begins with a definition, much like the definition of murder in the first chapter. As I mentioned before, it's pretty difficult to read through this part. To be frank, I skimmed right past them to continue reading the story. If it were just the definition I could have lived with it, but when you put the place of origin and how it became to be then it becomes a page or two, and quite a useful sleeping aid. 

On a scale of 1-5 I would give this book a three. The story is fascinating but the speed is incredibly slow. You really have to be devoted and interested in the origin of the Oxford English Dictionary to make it through "The Professor and the Madman". However, even with the three star rating, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it if you are a word buff and like to see where words come from. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Girls on the Train - Paula Hawkins

"The Girl on the Train"Paula Hawkins


"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins was a fun and twisting adventure of two women, whom never meet, but their lives are intertwined. One is observing from a train, and the other is being observed until one frightening day she disappears. 

The main character of the book, Rachel, is the girl on the train. Out of work and down on her luck she rides the train into town each day. Her train rides are routine and almost a comfort to her. While on these train rides she observes two people living in a neighborhood she used to call home. She has create their whole lives in her head, as well as name them Jason and Jess. 

One day Rachel sees Jess with a man, not Jason, but another man. Since Rachel has observed Jess and Jason every day she starts to worry. When the man kissed Jess, Rachel's perfect little world crumbles down. To make matters worse, shortly after she witnesses the kiss Jess disappears. 

Later Rachel reads about Jess' (who's name is actually Megan) disappearance and becomes distraught. Rachel reaches out to Jason (who's name is actually Scott), Megan's wife, to try and tell him what she saw. 

Through the twists and turns, detectives questioning motives and Rachel's attempt at uncovering the truth you are taken through a crazy whirlwind of love, hate, obsession and excitement. Rachel discovers the truth to overcome her alcoholic addictions and Scott learns the truth about Megan's disappearance.

My Opinion

This book was suggested to me by my Mom. The first chapter was well written and pulled me in almost immediately. However, it wasn't a book that I couldn't put down... just yet. ;) 

The second chapter introduces Megan and her husband, Scott. This made me pretty excited since my name is Megan.... and I'm dating a Scott... Gotta love the irony! As the chapters about Megan went on I dialed down the excitement. At one point it points out that Scott is under accusation for the abuse and death of his wife. Yikes! That's not my Scott at all, so the similarities ended there. 

However, the similarities between Megan and myself were astonishing. I felt that I could really relate to her character, and more than just by name. The way she thought, the fears she had, and the confusion she lived life with just seemed so real and understandable to me. 

Rachel, however, I did not relate to as much. However, Rachel's story is very well laid out and easy to follow. There are times where you will find yourself sympathetic with her, and other times where you're rooting for her from the sidelines and telling her to go be her brave self. I enjoyed reading her journey to find her inner strength and self. 

Overall, this book was awesome. If you remember me saying before that this book wasn't a book that I couldn't put down in the beginning? Well, I'd say about 1/3 into it I got hooked. Towards the end I just couldn't get enough of the story. I read it at lunch, read it while cooking, and read it before bed. In the end I wished that the story would continue just so I could see what happened to the characters after the mystery was solved. A sequel would be highly appreciated!