Quick Review: Ambivalent

 These reviews are part of the Summer Library Challenge Week 6 Activity – Reviewing Library Books.

These books I read all the way through, but I’m not sure how I feel about them. Because of that, these books are difficult to review. I still wanted to document my thoughts so here are a few odd notes on each.

  • All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
    • Rating: ★★-★★★½?  [ratings guide
    • I picked this book up because of the gorgeous cover, book description and four star reviews from a few bloggers I follow.
    • I thought the book had great atmosphere, moody and dark and solitary (reminded me of when I was running around with sheep in Ireland).
    • I kept waiting for something to happen in the present story-line but I found it extremely disappointing. I think I may have ~missed something~ there. A lot of somethings did happen in the past story-line but somehow it never really grasped me. 
    • I did not really like Jake, but I guess I liked reading about her?
    • The book felt empty to me, yet I read the whole thing quickly and without feeling like i should stop. So I must have liked something about it? I’m not too sure what else to say. I have confusing feelings about this book! I think I felt a bit let down by the book’s description – it’s not nearly as mysterious or fantastical as its made out to be.
  •  I Forgot to Remember by Su Meck and Daniel de Vise
    • Rating: ★★-★★★? [ratings guide
    • I find this book extremely hard to evaluate because I would essentially be evaluating someone’s life. You have to keep in mind that Meck lost all her memories, she has no knowledge of the first part of her life, she had to be completely re-educated, including how to read and write. I found a lot of parts of this memoir uncomfortable to read. It was not the sort of story I was expecting. I can’t believe how many years it took for people to start to realize what she really lost when the accident happened. I want to keep my concerns about this memoir to myself, since it’s a fresh story and because who I am to judge how someone’s life play out? Meck’s choice to tell her story in such a no-holds-barred manner is admiring, at the very least. I don’t think you can find many memoirs like this, where the author’s husband (to whome she is still married) is so thoroughly exposed. (Suffice to say, the husband’s behaviour is mostly terrible. But then, given the situation – like I said, it’s not my place to judge!)
    • The writing style is nothing impressive, but again – she had to learn to write again as an adult. That she can write this memoir at all is truly incredible.
    • My uncertainity over this book comes from the fact that the subject matter is undoubtedly interesting, but the how Meck’s life actually unfolds was not at all what I was expecting. Perhaps it’s a bit terrible of me to say this, but it wasn’t the story I wanted to read! That’s certainly not Meck’s fault, though, and her story is still fascinating. If the book’s description sounds interesting to you, I recommend you give it a shot. Maybe then my ramblings here will make a bit of sense… 

If you’ve read either of these books, I would love to hear what you think! Maybe reading other peoples’ opinions will help me sort out mine 😉

       

      Quick Review: Fun Reads

      These books I read for some casual reading – no critical analysis involved!


      • Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
        • Series: The Colours of Madeleine #2
        • Rating:  ★★★ [ratings guide
        • When the first book in this trilogy came out last year, I was ecstatic to hear it described as Neil Gaiman meets John Green. Moriarty is the only other YA author I adore aside from Green, and Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, so I was excited to see what she would conjure in the fantasy realm. 
        • The first book felt to me like a prologue. The second book still feels the same way, although now I’ve finally realized that searching for the royal family is the whole plot, not just a little side story to be quickly resolved. To me, it feels like something is missing from these books. I can’t get invested in the story. The book feels too long, too drawn out. But if you like Moriarty, and you like fantasy, I think you will still enjoy this book. And if you’re like me, enticed by the idea of Gaiman+Green, do give it a shot!
        • I was a little disappointed at the typical teenager-y behaviour of the teenagers…this may sound like a silly complaint, but when compared to the teens of Moriarty’s other work, the characters in this book felt more stereotypical, less developed. I was disappointed by the bickering between Madeleine and Elliot, and the immaturity of Princess Ko (although her behavior is realistic, given that she’s lost her entire family). I don’t really think the characters are badly or unbelievably written. They’re just not what I’ve come to expect from Moriarty.
        • I love reading about the Kingdom of Cello and exploring its realms. I love how Moriarty handles magic. It feels fresh and exciting and I always wonder how it will factor into the story. The Lake of Spells was one of my favourite parts of the book.
      •  No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley
        • Rating: ★★★½ [ratings guide
        • Not the usual sort of book I pick up while browsing at the library, but I thought “Why not, sounds funny”.
        • Elizabeth MacMann, the titular First Lady, didn’t feel very developed. I felt distanced from her throughout the novel. I actually liked Boyce Baylor quite a bit, I found myself rooting for him!
        • The book was mostly funny and less dark than I expected it to be. I enjoyed reading the court room proceedings. 
        • I like that the reader doesn’t know who killed the President until the end.There was one point, around halfway through, where I thought “Wait, I bet this person did it!” but such thoughts didn’t distract from reading. It’s not like when I watch a crime show, always trying to deduce who did it. 
        • The book wasn’t spectacular but I did find it compelling, funny, and properly pace. This could be a good summer read if you’re interested in political, courtroom humour.

      Does anyone have any recommendations of Buckley’s other works, or similar books? I could use a funny read like this now and then!

      Quick Review: eBook Novellas

      I purchased an iPad back in October. I did not have reading eBooks in mind, as I prefer physical books wherever possible and I can borrow plenty of those from the public library. Then I discovered there are a number of eBook novellas by some of my favourite authors, telling prequels, filling in gaps, or sharing alternate perspectives. I bought three of them back around Christmas and finally decided to read them a few weeks ago on a break from school.

      • The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While by Catherynne M. Valente
        • Series:  Fairyland #0.5
        • When to Read: After The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1).
        • Rating:  ★★★½ [ratings guide]
        • A great read if you want to know more about Mallow and the Green Wind
        • Holds all the charm and character of the other Fairyland stories, while feeling a touch  more mature and solemn
      • Unstrung by Neal Shusterman and Michelle Knowlden 
        • Series: Unwind #1.5
        • When to Read: After Unwind (Unwind #1)
        • Rating: ★★★½ [ratings guide]
        • Tells the story of what Lev did between leaving CyFi and becoming a clapper
        • As with the Fairyland story above, contains all the qualities I like about Shusterman’s writing (plot twists, intense narration, thoughtful characters, moral grappling)
          • Last two chapters really pack a punch and bring the whole story together, in line with the rest of the series – fills in gaps well, relevant to the series, does not feel like an afterthought
      • Skeleton & Dust by Rhiannon Paille
        • Series: The Ferryman and the Flame #0.5
        • When to Read: Before or after Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame #1)
          • I would have preferred to read this before Surrender (if you read it before, you’ll have a better context for Surrender; if you read it after, you’ll recognize key characters from Surrender)
        • Rating:  ★★★½ [ratings guide]
        • Sets up the first novel by providing historical context
        • Romantic aspect feels more realistic than in Surrender (though reading this clarifies the romance in Surrender so it seems more believable!)
        • Especially liked Aria’s interactions with the Ferryman, and the scene where Aria shares food with the children

      I have The Ferryman and the Flame #1.5 and #2.5 still to go. I wonder how many more little eBooks by authors I like are out there. Have you read any stories that were only available as eBooks that you enjoyed?