Thursday, March 29, 2012

Illuminated - Orloff

Erica Orloff

Callie's about to spend the summer before her senior year in New York City with her Uncle Henry. She thought that being a glorified assistant at his auction house would be the highlight of her three month stay until she meets August and they embark on an adventure to find the owner of an old and mysterious book.

At first glance Illuminated sounds interesting. YA mixed with a bookish mystery that could rival The Shadow of the Wind. Unfurtuneatly all the back cover left me with was broken promises. Illuminated is 99% unbelievable romance, and when I say unbelievable I mean texts in the middle of the night saying "I'm thinking of you" after knowing each other for five hours and dialogue that would make a wedge of cheese cringe.

When Callie, August and her Uncle Henry (who is clearly the best, most believable character) actually talk about the illuminated manuscript that the story claims to focus on there are some interesting moments. Since these frail pages may have belonged to Heloise and Abelard's son Astrolabe the historical exposition is interesting, especially if you don't know much about the star crossed lovers and their less than desirable fates. However, these moments are few and far between. Even the search for proof proves unsatisfying. A trip to Paris that is set up to be rife with danger turns into little more than a typical vacation, with a rarely mentioned villain never gracing the reader with their presence.

Overall I'd recommend you stay away from Illuminated if you are interested in anything but a cheesy teenage love story, because that's really all you are going to get from these 244 pages.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Playing Hooky

This seems like the perfect Top Ten Tuesday for me to jump back in the game with, especially since I had a long weekend off and going into work seems like some especially sadistic kind of medieval torture.

Top Ten Books I'd Play Hooky With:

Harry Potter - JK Rowling - It's a very good thing these books came out in the summer because otherwise young me would have been faking a lot of colds just to find out what was going to happen to Harry and his friend.

Mockingjay - Collins - I admit it, I've jumped on the bandwagon, and in case you missed my review of Hunger Games, I am disappointed in myself for letting hype get in the way of me starting an amazing series. I'm in the middle of Mockingjay now and I am just dreading going to work this afternoon where I will be separated from the mess that is Panem and forced to make people lattes.

Pride & Prejudice -  Austen - You know those spring days when all anyone has talked about our weddings and summer plans and all you can think about is jumping into an Austen novel? Those days when all you want is to jump into bed with a paperback Mr. Darcy and a glass of Moscato? If you don't I don't think we can be friends.

The Secret History - Tartt -  What Pride & Prejudice is to spring reading The Secret History is to winter. It's engrossing tale of six classics students and a few murders is more than enough to keep me cooped up away from school or work.

The Night Circus - Morgenstern - If the circus is only going to be around at night then I'm going to spend all day reading about it! That is if I can sneak out of all of my other obligations. Seriously, Everything about the Night Circus is addicting - from it's characters to it's fantastic setting. I couldn't put it down.

The White Queen - Gregory - There's something about Gregory's historical fiction that just makes me lose my mind. One minute i'm watching Doctor Who and drinking Starbucks and the next I'm wearing a gown heavier than I am and dancing at court. I picked the White Queen because it's one of my favorites of hers and because it is a part of her cousins war series so if you want to play hooky for a few days you'll have enough to read.

Anything by David Sedaris - His life puts mine to shame. He's witty, he's traveled, and his family stories put mine to shame! A great guy to take a personal day with while you both envy and pity his life.

The Book Thief - Zusak - For some reason I don't want to play hooky with nice lighthearted reads. I want something like The Book Thief that will make me fall in love with the characters and then rip them away. Something with some gravity to it. Something that I probably shouldn't be reading in public because I'm crying to hard and getting snot everywhere.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Hunger Games - Collins

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

I kept putting off reading The Hunger Games. Catching Fire had come out when I just started blogging and the whole internet seemed to be obsessed with these YA books that appeared to be equal parts love story and drama. Of course I was wrong, and of course it took me another three years to finally get around to reading  the series (I'm in the middle of Catching Fire now!) and am totally jumping on the bandwagon.

For those of you who don't know, The Hunger Games is set in a future version of North America called Panem, where the area has been split up into 12 Districts. As a result of a prior rebellion each year the Districts have to send two tributes, A boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in the Hunger Games as punishment. The Hunger Games are a fight to the death with only one winner. Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old from District 12 takes the place of her sister Prim when her name is called against all odds. From then on Katniss is a tribute, and even though she's from a District that hasn't won in 24 years that doesn't mean she won't be a fierce competitor.

Like I said earlier, I wasn't sure about this series. Maybe it was because Twilight had made me weary of anything classified as a YA Series, with "Team" shippers, or maybe I hadn't yet learned to trust the amazing bloggers I follow to post honest reviews, but in the end it was my loss. The Hunger Games is short, around 370 pages, and each page is jam packed with a story that is compelling, even if it's easy to see where the book will end.

While I'm not a fan of Katniss as a character I do love Collins focus on character development and how it interacts with the very limited perspective Katniss as a narrator offers. Her fellow tributes are equal parts terrifying and intriquing because she has such limited knowledge of them. Even a character like Peeta can grow from being a mostly dull pretty face to a futuristic romeo figure without it becoming cliche.

I'm glad I finally joined the Hunger Games club, and am crazy excited to see the movie next Friday (okay, I thought it actually came out yesterday and had a minor fit when I realized I was wrong). It's totally worth a trip to your local library if your still not sold on the premise. It's a fast, fun read that you won't be able to put down, and if your like me you'll be running to your nearest bookstore to pick up Catching Fire within the week.