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review 2017-09-15 00:40
Stand-off (Review)
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

I am finally reviewing a book I actually read this year! However… I finished it in May, so here’s to the (almost) last shorter-than-normal review. I borrowed a copy of this book from a teacher, so I don’t have any notes or ability to flip back through it and remember my thoughts better; I’ll still give this my best effort at detail, though!

 

As you may remember, Winger was one of my favorite books. It’s not a book that someone like me typically goes for as Ryan Dean West is not typically the type of character I enjoy reading. However, something about Andrew Smith’s ability to craft him as this realistic, perfectly imperfect guy just struck a chord with me. Winger also ripped my heart out unexpectedly, which always scores points with me.

 

When I discovered that Winger had a sequel, I had to read it right away. Fortunately, the teacher I was working with let me borrow it, and I got to reading right away. I got through the first third no problem, but then it took me several months to pick it up again. When I finally did, I binged the last part in a day or two. I worried that I had outgrown Ryan Dean, but I was delighted to discover that Andrew Smith still had the ability to make me laugh out loud and cry within mere pages of each other.

 

Stand-off explores a lot of themes related to grief and especially avoiding grief. Ryan Dean goes through a lot of things he can’t quite explain, and this book is about him trying to understand himself again and dealing with the fact that he doesn’t want to be miserable for the rest of his life. I completely empathize with NATE (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) because I experienced the same thing after one of my friends passed away in high school. I thought this novel was excellently crafted, and it is a great follow-up to Winger. However, it lacked the same sparkle, and I found myself missing that all-encompassing enthusiasm for the book. It had an overly-satisfying ending, in that everything wrapped up with a pretty, little bow, and the resolution seemed forced to me. After the unexpectedly world-shattering ending of Winger, I could have stood an ending less-than-ideal than this one. It felt like Smith really wanted to end this story, and he wrote out a resolution that would leave no room for speculation or further wondering. I loved the ending of Winger without the idea of a sequel, so having a sequel that perfectly wrapped up the story I’d loved so much was fairly disappointing.

 

Overall: As with Winger, I don’t recommend this to younger readers. Ryan Dean West may be fifteen years old, but I doubt I’d let my kid read it at fifteen. Use discretion because there is a lot of language and Ryan Dean West is a teenage boy who thinks like a teenage boy, but, unlike how I usually feel, it all contributes to the characters and the story overall. Stand-off wasn’t as brilliant as Winger, but it’s still worth reading if you loved the first book.

 

Read the review on my blog:

http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/165345904967/stand-off-review

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review 2017-07-28 16:58
I continue to be drawn in by beautiful cover art
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle - Janet Fox

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox is another prime example of an eye-catching cover which I couldn't resist. It evokes a certain gothic mysteriousness which I'm happy to say was delivered. From the very beginning,  the reader is launched into a tale of magic, wickedness, desperation, and all-consuming power. The story follows a family of children who are sent to stay at an estate in the country during the Blitz of WWII. However, all is not what it seems at this country school as the oldest daughter, Kate, quickly realizes after meeting the lady of the house. Much of the drama is tied to a chatelaine (a chain decorated with different items used around a house and usually worn by the woman in charge of the household affairs) worn by this woman. There are a lot of different threads to follow in this narrative which made it a little challenging to follow at times. The reader is sent back in time to follow this woman's history and then suddenly we're back with Kate in the present. That was a bit jarring but easily overcome. I'd say that the book's biggest strength was its originality in using magical artifacts of an unusual sort (I don't want to give it away entirely). If you are a fan of boarding school mysteries with a healthy heaping of dark magic then you'll most likely enjoy this book. It's a 6/10 for me but it would have been higher if the narrative thread had been a bit tighter.

 

I mean how could I have turned down this cover?!

 

Source: Amazon

 

What's Up Next: Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-06-14 01:13
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Review)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Alright, once again, I finished the book almost two years ago and because I was in school and had other nonsense going on, I took very few notes and put off writing the review until now. I have few details to give, which is especially depressing when you’re giving a low rating to a book that is beloved by thousands, if not millions, of readers. You want to have more to say to defend your opinion, but… well, yeah.

 

When I first tried to read this series at the age of thirteen or fourteen, Prisoner of Azkaban killed me. I quit partway through, and this is a big deal because I never just quit a book. I have not finished exactly two books since Prisoner of Azkaban all those years ago, and both of those were because they had graphic sexual content—obviously not the case here. Even the second time around, it took me months to finish this book.

 

This book is just boring. There’s not a lot happening, and it follows a very distinct pattern from the first two books. I enjoyed Lupin, but that was about it. There’s an incredibly interesting story lurking somewhere underneath the side plots and downright boring writing. Without the nostalgia of reading this as a child, I don’t have a lot of patience for the childish nature of the side stories and writing. Most of the story happens in a few exciting chapters, but everything else is muddled and boring. I get that these books are sentimental to lots of people, and I know there are things I love to read that others find boring, but this one was just kind of painful to get through.

 

Overall: Fortunately, I’ve already read Goblet of Fire, and I actually enjoyed that one. For me, this is where the childishness ends and we can move forward into a grown up and intricate plot. I’m relieved to put this one behind me and move forward with the series. I can’t count how many people told me to skip to Goblet of Fire to begin with, and they’re certainly right.

 

Read this review on my blog!
http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/161793118862/harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban-review

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review 2017-05-10 01:06
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Review)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling

Okay. So, you know how sometimes you read a book that is beloved by almost everyone on the planet, but you’re not really as into it as everyone else because you have absolutely no nostalgia attached to the book itself or the author, but it’s also been so long since you read it that you can’t really put into justifiable words why you thought it just wasn’t that awesome, and you’re kind of afraid all the raging fans will jump down your throat but you’ve got no defense because of the aforementioned long-ago reading of said book?

 

That’s basically where I am with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

 

I absolutely can’t wait to be done writing reviews for books I finished almost two (!) years ago because I feel kind of like an idiot for how few notes I took and also for waiting so long to type up how I felt about these books. The Harry Potter series is one where I know I’m in the minority (like…way, way down there), but I don’t have much I can defend my opinion with because, like I mentioned, I made the amateur decision to take no notes.

 

So here is a short and simple review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Fortunately, I know I felt very similar to it as I did to Philosopher’s Stone in most regards. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it just didn’t stick with me. My complaint with Rowling’s writing style in these early books is that they’re far too immature, and they focus more on action-action-action than any thought process or reflection in the characters. This book was even slower than Philosopher’s Stone in reaching a climax, so I was pretty bored by the time we got anywhere exciting.

 

One of my favorite parts of the first book was the world-building, but that took a backseat to everything else in the sequel. There wasn’t the same draw into the wizarding world because we already knew it existed, so this book lost a lot of sparkle for me. In addition, I felt like there was an increase in annoying characters and a decrease in the ones I enjoyed—Hermione wasn’t around for a good chunk of the book, but I really sometimes cannot stand Ron or Ginny. They are easily two of my least favorite characters in the series so far, and this book focused in large part on them (either because Ron was always with Harry or because Ginny was involved in a large part of the conflict).

 

Overall: Definitely not my favorite Harry Potter novel, and unfortunately, I’ve already read Prisoner of Askaban prior to writing this review, and I know I enjoy that one even less than I did this one. However, I’m certainly not giving up on Harry Potter this time around; I’m determined to see this series through to the end at least once, and hopefully fans will forgive me since I’m reading these books for this first time with no childhood nostalgia.

 

http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/160495884247/harry-potter-and-the-chamber-of-secrets-review

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text 2017-05-10 00:31
Finished!
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

My relationship with reading has been totally off the rails, I must admit... I binged the first third of this book in one day, then left it alone for almost a month, then binged the last two-thirds between yesterday and this afternoon. The weather has been super nice here in the last couple days, so I got a nice sunburn by reading on my back porch yesterday, hahah.

 

Anyway, Stand-off was not quite the masterpiece that Winger was, but it still did an excellent job of continuing the story. It's not nearly as gut-wrenching, and you're left feeling pretty satisfied with the ways things turn out. I think my biggest complaint is that the ending (pretty happily-ever-after-esque) felt a tad bit forced, so I didn't quite believe in it. However, Ryan Dean did not disappoint as a narrator, and he was as witty and outrightly honest as he always has been.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed Stand-off, but I'm not sure it's one I would reread. I would go back to Winger again in a heartbeat, but this one didn't have that same pull to it. 

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