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danae

danae

"Bridge Called Hope" by Kim Meeder

Bridge Called Hope: Stories of Triumph from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams - Kim Meeder

Just as in Hope Rising: Stories from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams, many of these stories made me cry.

I was disappointed by a few errors that should have been caught by an editor, and there were a couple of sentences that I found confusing. I don't remember having those issues with the previous book.

But, same as the first, it's filled with wonderful stories and I enjoyed it.

"Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

I wasn't sure about this one at first, but after a few chapters, I was invested.

Parts of Red Queen reminded me of other recent dystopian YA books. There's an area that's contains dangerous levels of radiation, so no one goes near it. [POPULAR SERIES SPOILER AHEAD] It was no surprise to me that that was a trick and that people were really living there because I've read The Hunger Games. There's also a balcony scene straight out of The Selection .

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It also has the same common problem of using "highness" and "majesty" interchangeably.

But I enjoyed the intrigue, the palace, the relationships, the betrayals, the villains... It's an engaging story.

"Educating Esmé" by Esmé Raji Codell

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year - Esmé Raji Codell

This book was definitely entertaining, but I wonder about how much of it was factual. It claims to be the diary of a first-year teacher, but it seemed very idealistic and unrealistic.

And it didn't sit right with me that there was a time when her students stabbed a substitute teacher in the back with a pencil and she wasn't really bothered about it. That's kind of a big deal...

I did love the idea of building a "time machine" filled with books. I might have to use that someday.

"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire - Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams

I picked this one up because it's on the Rory Gilmore Book List. It's one of the many books Rory reads in Gilmore Girls. I didn't know whether or not I would like it. I kind of did... but I can't really say why. It was frustrating because of the abusive relationships, but... it was interesting.

"The Chemist" by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

So, the synopsis didn't really draw me in with this one, but I figured that since I've enjoyed everything else I've read by Stephenie Meyer, there was a good chance I'd enjoy this one too. I was right.

I've noticed that, while I usually don't put forth much of an effort toward imagining the settings in a book, I often have very clear images of settings from Meyer's books. I'm not sure why that is.

I particularly liked the attention to detail regarding the precautions Juliana takes to stay alive, though I can understand how some people would grow bored of that. And I loved Daniel, though I did think the romance was slightly unrealistic, particularly in the beginning when I'm sure Daniel would have had to overcome some psychological obstacles before he could think of Juliana in a romantic sense.

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I also thought that the dogs were sometimes unrealistic in their behavior and I noticed a couple of grammatical mistakes, but neither was too bad.

 

My last complaint is that there were elements of this story that reminded me a lot of her other books. Mostly, it was the female protagonist with two male "sidekicks". And the dynamic between the three reminded me a lot of The Host. Again, not a huge problem. Just a weakness I've noticed in her writing.

Even though most of what I've said in this review is negative, I did really enjoy this book, I promise. Haha.

"Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

This is a book that was recommended to me by students. It's often assigned reading in school, but it was never assigned for me. I didn't really have an expectation that I would either like or dislike Bud, Not Buddy but I definitely enjoyed it. I was sad for Bud and how he was treated in the foster care system. Even worse, it's not much better in the present day. I was interested to find out the significance of Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!! and I think that that was all wrapped up nicely. And I love that the author honored his grandfathers by basing two important characters on them.

"Barb and Dingbat's Crybaby Hotline" by Patrick Jennings

Barb and Dingbat's Crybaby Hotline - Patrick Jennings

So, it's interesting that this book is written entirely in phone conversations. Barb was annoying at first, but quickly, I felt her deceit was justified. Jeff was face-palmingly frustrating. That kid is more shallow than a kiddie pool. It bothered me that Barb called him a friend at one point, even though she specified that they're only friends on the phone.

 

I like to imagine that Barb finally gives up on Jeff completely after the events in the book. He never learns his lesson. He seems to get a clue once or twice, but quickly reverts back to the same Jeff he always was.

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"Happily Ever After" by Kiera Cass

Happily Ever After: Companion to the Selection Series - Kiera Cass

I liked this collection of short stories, but I was kind of underwhelmed. There's a lot of repetition (i.e. a scene that we've already read in the series, but from a different character's perspective, so the dialogue is the same, though the thoughts are different.) It was interesting and gave some more insight into the characters, and I did really enjoy the illustrations, but I'm not as eager to own this one as I am the rest of the series.

Unfortunately, I can't rate each individual story because it's been too long since I read it, but I remember that I preferred the stories about the more minor characters to the stories about Maxon and Aspen (because of the aforementioned repetition). I liked learning more about Amberly, Celeste, and America's maids.

 

On the other hand, I want to know more about Clarkson after reading Amberly's story. He was decent and relatively charming in Happily Ever After. It's so hard to imagine him turning into the man in The Selection, who cheats on his wife and beats his son.

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C.S. Lewis & Narnia For Dummies - Rich Wagner

I enjoyed this one. I even learned a few things. :) It's a good reference for C.S. Lewis' writings.

 

I like that Wagner acknowledges that his readers will not all be Christians, but doesn't attempt to soften Christian themes. And he explains things that those who are not familiar with Christianity might not understand.

 

There's a pretty glaring error on page 13. Page 12 ends with a complete paragraph, then page 13 has a picture at the top followed by the end of a sentence... I'm surprised that wasn't fixed in editing.

Lucy and Danae: Something Silly This Way Comes - Wiley Miller

My mom came across this book somewhere and bought it because it has my name on it. :) It has a character who shares my name, my favorite animal as a sidekick and according to Wikipedia, this comic strip began six days after I was born. Quelle coïncidence !

Anyway, it's not my favorite comic strip in the world, but it was fun and enjoyable and I'm glad I have it. :)

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story - Diane Ackerman

Ugghhh. This book.

So, the premise is amazing, right? This couple saved the lives of over three hundred people during the Holocaust! But you'd never know it, reading this book.

This story that is so amazing is buried deep under a mountain of details. If you ever get your hands on a time machine and you would like a map for when you vacation in this area/time of Poland, the first chapter will let you know where everything in that town is. Extensive researching is great for writing a historical novel to get the feel of it just right. But you should not put all of that research into the book. I really could not care less exactly what type of beetles some random guy had in his collection. That's not why I'm reading this book.

It's offensive, really. This story is so fascinating and inspirational and so important to tell, but it's so bogged down by irrelevant details that I was intensely bored throughout the entire book and I only remember them helping even a handful of people. The book really doesn't do the story justice.

Furthermore, Antonina herself is a zookeeper, so calling her "the zookeeper's wife" is kind of insulting.

I'm hoping the movie is better.

SPOILER ALERT!
Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and Their High School - Samuel G. Freedman

I can't think of much to say about this one. Parts of it were very interesting and other parts were boring. The teacher quits in the end, so it's not exactly encouraging, but that's not the author's fault.

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3) - Philippa Gregory

Again, it's been a while since I read this one, so I won't have much to say about it. I'm working on catching up, I promise!

 

I almost backed out of reading this one even after I had picked it up from the library. The description makes it sound like there's a lot of witchcraft in the book and that just doesn't interest me. However, it's really not that much. The main character has some uncanny abilities, but she's determined to hide her skills to avoid getting dead. There was never so much that I considered putting the book down. I'm glad that I decided to give it a chance, because I enjoyed it. I liked reading about the romance between Jacquetta and Richard, the family they built together (seriously, they bred like rabbits), and her attempt to balance her responsibilities to her monarchs and her responsibilities to her children.

 

Speaking of her army of children, she once says "My favorite of them all is Elizabeth's brother: Anthony." and that struck me as odd. Why refer to your child (especially your favorite child) as the sibling as another of your children instead of just as your child? It seemed like Gregory was just trying to be more creative than saying "my son", but it was just weird.

 

Yeah, that's about all I've got. I enjoyed The Lady of the Rivers and I'm looking forward to continuing along this timeline of books!

SPOILER ALERT!
Le Petit Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

J'ai lu ce livre trois fois et je ne l'aime toujours pas. Je pense que je devrais l'aimer, mais le petit prince se tue à la fin ! Je ne l'aime pas. Peut-être plus tard.

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I have read this book three times and I still do not like it. I think I should like it, but the little prince kills himself in the end! I don't like it. Maybe later.

SPOILER ALERT!
The Crown (The Selection) - Kiera Cass

This is my least favorite cover of the series because the model's head/neck positioning looks so awkward...

 

Anyway, I was generally happy with the conclusion to the series. I wish Lucy and Aspen had adopted. I guess I can still imagine that they do after the book ends.

 

I remember that in the first book, it's stated that a crown prince/princess is supposed to step up when the monarch feels he/she is ready and not necessarily when that monarch dies, so it was interesting to me that that happens in this book. I hadn't expected it, but it's happier than losing a parent in order to ascend the throne.

 

I also like that she demanded respect from her councilors, though I think anyone with that kind of power should purposely keep people in that position who have very different beliefs, so that he/she doesn't end up surrounding themselves with "yes men" and instead get a variety of ideas and opinions. But respect is vital.

 

Eadlyn has definitely inherited her mother's ability to leap to illogical conclusions in a single bound. She's gently rejected by one suitor and immediately comes to the conclusion that she is unlovable. Girl, chill.

 

I loved Eikko the most, so I'm really happy that he won (and that they had the blessing of Henri because he was such a sweetie). I particularly loved that he was allowed to show emotion and it wasn't used to emasculate him. Boys have feelings too!

 

I'm sad to see the series end, but glad it didn't disappoint. :)

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol I: The Pox Party - M.T. Anderson

Intriguing idea; poor execution. I was SO BORED.

 

There's even a section toward the end made up entirely of letters to and from random characters no one cares about that only occasionally mention any characters we know. WHY???

 

I will not be continuing this series.