Saturday, January 04, 2014

Catching Up 2012 (what I meant to do early 2013)

OK, so as you can tell, 2013 didn't go so well for the book review thing.  Grrr.  It turned out that I didn't have access to a laptop for most of the year, so in the limited times when I did, I had too many other things to catch up on even though I read many books.

I will try to get back into things now with Cannonball 6 .  I've signed up for a half-cannonball (26 reviews).

But first, so my mind, and some rough notes are cleared, I will give a short rating to some of the books I can still remember from 2012 and 2013 that I didn't get to.  Some of the best ones, I will leave and hope to do a quick re-read this year to do a proper review.

From my 2012 list:

1.  Matched and Crossed (Matched Trilogy books 1 and 2) by Ally Condie (audiobooks)

Matched by Ally Condie, CD coverI listened to these after The Book Hoarding Dragon's review of Matched piqued my interest.  I was not disappointed.  I liked how Matched started out looking like a utopia vs. something like The Hunger Games.  It made the conflict between safety and freedom more thought-provoking and relevant for today's world.  So, mixed with the universal themes of young unrequited and forbidden love, there were more compelling ideas about rebellion and the importance of language and creativity needed to even form and communicate those ideas.

By the time we get to Crossed, we see the situation for the full dystopia, it really is.  I didn't like it quite as much as Matched, but still enjoyed it and want to read the conclusion.  (still waiting to see if my library will get the audiobook in)

5 stars to Matched; 4 stars to Crossed 

- x -

2.  The Scarecrow and His Servant and The Firework-Maker's Daughter by Philip Pullman (audiobooks)

The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman, audio cover
I'm only putting these together because they are shorter (juvenile) books by Philip Pullman.  Very enjoyable with some good humour and, like his famous His Dark Materials Trilogy some good role-reversals and twists.  I especially liked the scarecrow character.

4 stars to both

- x -

3.  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (audiobook)

I hadn't read this before and only saw the 2002 movie trailers which looked like a paranormal teen romance.  This wasn't like that
- although, I could see how Disney could twist it into that. (still haven't seen the movie)

The audiobook started a bit like a teacher talking to children, but eventually it lost that feeling for me and I got more into enjoying the story.  I didn't find the ending as satisfying as I had hoped, but it does leave you thinking about what you would do in that situation and if you really would want to be stuck at one age...and what age?   (but no vampires, which is the more common way those questions get brought up now)

3 stars  (perhaps 4 if it wasn't the audiobook)

 - x -

4.  United Tates of America by Paula Danziger (audiobook)

Another good book by Danziger.  Others may be more familiar with her first bestseller, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.  United Tates, is all about change for a 6th grader.  Change in schools and friendships and discovering individuality.  And the permanent change of a death of a loved one and the change in the family.

Great quality audiobook from Full Cast Audio.

4 stars

 - x -

5.  Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" by David Bianculli (audiobook)   

Dangerously Funny by David Bianculli cover
I am old enough to have laughed along with reruns of some of The Smothers Brothers on TV when I was young, so I was curious about this book.  It was interesting to learn about the back story and power struggles with the censors and network etc.  However, it was about twice as long as it needed to be.  This was made worse with it being in the audio version, so that I couldn't just skim over areas.

Interesting if you want to know about some of the TV people and entertainers at the time and aren't expecting it to be like a Smothers Brothers skit.

2 stars

 - x -

 6.  Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever (audiobook) 

I haven't read any other biographies about Louisa May Alcott to compare this with.  I found this one quite interesting.  However, some other reviews suggest there may be a number of factual errors in this.  I am not going to do the research into it more to find out the truth.  This was good enough to give me an idea of her life and a background for her writing career.

3 stars

 - x -

7.  Murder is Binding: Booktown Mystery Series, Book 1 and Bookmarked for Death: Booktown Mystery Series, Book 2 (#2 read in 2013) by Lorna Barrett (audiobooks)
Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett cover 

I liked the concept of these - bookstores and mysteries.  However, the stories and characters seemed otherwise unoriginal and predictable.  Book 1 was good enough to give me hope to try the next one, but I was even less impressed with that one.  (I can't remember specifics now - just that I have no desire to continue the series) 

2 stars for Book 1; 1 star for Book 2

 - x -

8.  The Hanged Man: Maps in a Mirror Series, Book 1 by Orson Scott Card (audiobook)

This was the only book in the last 2 years that I refused to finish because I didn't like it.  Two or three stories made connections between death/murder and sexual pleasure and I didn't want to find out if that continued.  I try to be more careful about what gets stuck in my head now.  Some of the ideas in the stories I read were interesting, but I did not find them enjoyable.  I might have liked these when I was younger and read more than enough dark books then that I now wish I hadn't. 

less than 1 star since I didn't finish it

- x -

I will leave Emotionally Charged (Empath Chronicles) by Selina Fenech (ebook) for a better review after rereading and I won't bother with the rest of the books from 2012.

- x -

Rating system:
1 star (didn't like); 2 stars (OK); 3 stars (good); 4 stars (great); 5 stars (favourite)

Disclosure: Starting in 2014, most of the amazon.com links are affiliate links.  Your support in using the links on this blog will help me gain independence from Disability.  However, Amazon.com links on the Cannonball 6 site are affiliate links for their account.  Referral payments collected by Cannonball 6 will be donated by them to the American Cancer Society.

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