#SerafinandtheBlackCloak: Looking for something spooky for your middle grader?

serafina1Serafina and the Black Cloak

By: Robert Beatty

My Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Serafina and the Black Cloak would be a great choice for a 8 – 12 year old looking to read something creepy and a bit scary.

The kid in me loved the mystery, the magic, and the feeling of not wanting to read this one it the dark.

The grown up part of me felt frustrated with the inconsistent prose, the clunky dialogue, and the boring attempt to become historical fiction by forcing in skip-able descriptions of the Biltmore Estate.

The book was saved from being quickly forgotten by an actually great ending that left me seriously considering reading the next book to see if the quality of the writing catches up to the story.

Happy Reading!

#Edgedancer: A 272-page Novella…

EdgedancerEdgedancer (The Stormlight Archive 2.5)

By: Brandon Sanderson

My Rating: Five stars out of Five

And another thing I love about Brandon Sanderson…

He calls a 272-page book a novella.

Edgedancer is The Stormlight Archive 2.5…just a little thing to satiate the need while waiting for Oathbringer on 11/14. It’s also part of the collection of “short” stories called Arcanum Unbounded. Just a warning, Edgedancer is full of spoilers for The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. If that’s important to you, read those two first.

Edgedancer tells more of the story of Lift, a very minor character introduced in Words of Radiance who will eventually grow into a major character in The Stormlight Archive. It also sets the scene for a couple other characters who are well known and had some significant events happen to them between Words of Radiance and Oathbringer. It’s an important part of the bigger story.

On its own Edgedancer is perfectly entertaining and classically Brandon Sanderson. Lift is an outstanding character who demands to be cheered for and has miles of headroom for growth. She’s funny and kind and troubled, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

Now, if I can just keep myself distracted until Oathbringer…

Happy Reading!

#WordsofRadiance: Standing Ovation

WordsofRadianceWords of Radiance (Book 2 of The Stormlight Archive)

By: The Great Brandon Sanderson

My Rating: Five out of Five Stars

10/18/17
Oh my word. This stuff is like cheese and wine–the more time that passes, the better it gets.

And it was really good the first time.

I’m getting ready for Oathbringer on 11/14 by re-reading The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. I don’t know if it’s just that I understand the whole Cosmere universe better now or what, but reading Words of Radiance just now made me want to rise and shout.

If you haven’t read Brandon Sanderson yet, well…in the immortal words of the great thespian Shia Labouf:

“Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Just do it.” [To be read while shouting and spitting]

Seriously, people. We are witnessing the best fantasy of our time. It’s happening before our eyes.

Read!

3/31/14
Look up “EPIC” in the dictionary…

…and you’ll find a picture of Words of Radiance.

As an author Brandon Sanderson can do no wrong. At least he hasn’t yet. Considering he’s only been on the scene for about 9 years, there’s still plenty of time for him to lay an egg. But for now, his stuff is good. So good. Scary good. Guaranteed good.

The second book in The Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance is over 1000 pages of awesome. Never boring. Always interesting. Frequently exciting. The only negative? That book three hasn’t been written yet!

#MichaelVey: Shocking. Literally.

vey

The Prisoner of Cell 25
Rise of the Elgen
Battle of the Ampere
Hunt for the Jade Dragon
Storm of Lightning
Fall of Hades
The Final Spark

By: Richard Paul Evans

My Rating: Four out of Five Stars, except book 7–that one only gets three.

What did I read during the summer of 2017? All 7 books in the Michael Vey series. Thanks for asking.

Was that a good use of my reading time? Yep. I’ve been waiting for the series finish before I start (cliffhangers–I hate them), and with the impeding book 7 release date finally getting near, it was time to jump in.

Richard Paul Evans (you might know him as “The Christmas Box” guy) did something special with Michael Vey. He turned a guy with a physical disability and low self esteem into a hero.

I think that’s really cool.

Michael Vey’s dad died when he was 8. He and his mom have had to move around a lot. He gets picked on. He has Tourette’s syndrome that makes him gulp and twitch–especially when he gets nervous. Michael has to deal with all these things daily…but there’s something bigger. He has a secret. No one can know. He can’t make his mom move again. He can’t hurt anyone else.

Michael Vey is electric.

Like super-power electric.

This is the story of how Michael discovers that, “It’s not all right┬áto be different. It’s freaking awesome.”

He’s right.

Michael’s electrical powers are discovered, and he is forced to make an attempt to rescue his kidnapped mom. His rescue mission kicks off a 7-book adventure around the world making friends, falling in love, becoming a hero, and beating the bad guys.

I didn’t love the last book in the series…it ended a flat. There were some significant big reveals that happened in the last few pages, and I felt like things were rushed instead of resolved. But that was one book out of seven, and it’s the only negative in an otherwise perfectly enjoyable summer read.

The Michael Vey series is great fun. I recommend it for the young teens it was written for as well as anyone looking for an exciting story free from sex and grown-up language.

Happy Reading!

#ReadyPlayerOne: Why haven’t you read this yet?

RPOReady Player One

By: Ernest Cline, Audio Book narrated by Will Wheaton

My Rating: Five out of Five Stars

8/7/2017
I had Will Wheaton read Ready Player One this time. Brilliant, obviously. Especially when Will Wheaton reads about himself in the book. Very meta.

Two comments.

1) I still love this book. Belongs on the best of the decade lists for sure.
2) There is a lot more swearing than I remembered. I think listening to Will Wheaton swear at me made me realize there is a difference in my tolerance levels when I read v when I listen. Very interesting…I think I feel a blog post coming on.

6/10/2014
I’ve been wanting to re-read Ready Player One since the first time I finished it. (See below!) This is one seriously fun book. I think it was even better the second time. Read it now!

8/18/2011
Wow! Haven’t had this much fun reading in a long time! This was the first time in my life I remember wanting turn right back to the first page and start reading again! I loved, loved, loved this book.

I don’t know that I can recommend this book to every reader, however. It is filled with 80’s “geekyness,” with 80’s music, styles, video games, and D&D refrences on every page. If that doesn’t interest you, “Ready Player One” may not have the same effect on you as it did me. Also, the book has quite a bit of mature (or should I say immature?) language . . . the main characters are teenagers.

The thought that this is Ernie Clines first book is exciting too–I’m thinking of a future with more books from this great author!

Happy Reading!

#Hyperion: Not Hyper to me…

hyperionHyperion

By Dan Simmons

My Rating: Three out of Five Stars

There are a lot of gushing fans of Hyperion. I don’t really feel like gushing.

It was complicated, abstract, and didn’t satiate my craving for a satisfying ending.

Graphic sex, strong violence, ugly language.

I get why others love it. The world building is complex. The characters are strong and layered. There is depth and meaning to the story. Hyperion, as a work of literature, is an accomplishment.

Just not for a simpleton like me.

Don’t let me turn you away…read the reviews and give it a try. But do go into it knowing what’s coming.

Happy Reading.

#TheChangelings: Down the Rabbit Hole

Changelings

The Changelings

By Christina Soontornvat

My Rating: Three out of Five Stars

The Changelings is a fun and simple stand-alone fantasy for young readers. There’s magic and mystery, danger and daring, love between sisters and love between friends, lot’s of fairies, and a happy (if a little odd) ending. I was glad I found it so I can share it with my kids. It would be great as a read-aloud.

It reminded me a bit of Alice in Wonderland without the allegory.

Note: Looks like this stand alone turned into a series, which I’m a little disappointed about. It does just find as a stand alone.

Happy Reading!

#BeneathaScarletSky: And the Truth Shall…

beneathascarletskyBeneath a Scarlet Sky

By: Mark Sullivan

My Rating: Five out of Five Stars

Dang it. This is one of those.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is one that probably needs to be read, even though it’s a WWII book.

The Book Thief was beautiful in its tragedy.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is too. But…

…it’s true. It really happened.

I can’t believe it. Why don’t we know this story?

Some felt the middle dragged and found the ending saved the book. I was dragged by the middle and flung into the ending. The story saved the book.

I loved Beneath a Scarlet Sky. Just remember that war stories are about war, and war sucks.

No language, no graphic sex. Plenty of war.

Happy Reading!

#TheFirstFifteenLivesofHarryAugust: Clever, But Not Smart.

harry august

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

By: Claire North

My Rating: Three out of Five Stars

What a clever book! Claire North has some serious talent!

Harry August relives his life over and over. He lives, he dies, and then starts over…with the perfect memories of his previous lives still in his head. He knows the future! He can be rich! He can be anything he wants! He can hasten the end of the world…

Turns out, he’s not alone. In fact, there’s a club that governs, supports, and protects people like Harry. They help each other across lives. They pass messages to each other through time. They have to stop the world from ending.

There are some complex time-travel-with-out-time-traveling ideas in there that I had a hard time grasping. Plus the science was much more fiction than science. The story got a bit repetitive. The ending was preachy.

Nothing content-wise that you wouldn’t want your mom to know you’re reading.

Feel free to enjoy.

Happy Reading!

#TheWayofKings (Book One of The Stormlight Archive): The Best Fantasy of the Day. Mic Drop.

thewayofkingas

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, Book 1)

By: Brandon Sanderson

My Rating: Five out of Five Stars

Apparently I didn’t review The Way of Kings after my original reading back in 2014. Likely I was too much in awe.

After this re-read in anticipation of the book 3 release in a few weeks, well…

I’m still in awe. Probably even more this time around.

Seriously, I love it. The world, the magic, the story, the characters. Layer after layer of depth. 1,000+ pages that flew by and I was still bummed when it was over.

I have no problem saying this is the best fantasy of the day.

War violence. No language or sex.

Happy Reading.