WWW Wednesdays

shouldbereading.wordpress.com asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? Not much.  After putting down the unfinished Fifty Shades of Grey I’ve lost my reading umph.

What did you recently finish?  The last book I finished was Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire…it was a while ago…

What do you think you’ll read next?I need something fast paced and fun…perhaps the last book of Riordan’s Kane Chronicles or the book that follows Kristin Cashore’s Graceling.

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at shouldbereading.wordpress.com

A Rant on Fifty Shades of Grey

courtesy: blogher.com

Anastasia Steele in E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is in her early twenties and actually uses the phrase “…then I’m a monkey’s uncle.” Really???

I put this book on my summer reading list out of sheer curiosity.  I wish I hadn’t been so curious.  I knew it was going to be crap!  I knew it.  And, at 50 pages in, it is.

Friends whose reading tastes are similar to mine, or whose reading history I at least respect, all warned me…but did I listen?  Nooooo.  I had to see for myself.  Now I’m stuck with a shitty book that I will finish because that’s what I do – finish books I start (except for one, but whatever…everyone has at least one).

Anastasia Steele is the least believable character I’ve come across – her narrative voice is awful.  I would say that the book sounds like it’s being narrated by a teenager…but that would be insulting to teenagers.  Who in their early twenties talks like that?  As a girl in her early twenties she should be able to speak using modern cliches, not phrases that her great-grandmother would’ve used in her prime.

I hate that Anastasia is an English literature major and loves reading classics. Sure, that makes her a romantic – but it should also make her smart, and well spoken.  James should have made all cliche, slang, figures of speech off limits and made her sound intelligent without all the pitiful internal monologuing on how many times Grey looked at her.

Well, I put this book on my list…I started it and now I must finish it.

I cannot believe that this book is a “hit”, a “best-seller”…it is so frustrating that people who can write, who have wonderful ideas for great books cannot find publishers but this crap gets published.

Rant over.

Thrill Ride: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

courtesy: booksigningcentral.com

Summary courtesy of Goodreads:

Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, a training ground for young magicians. And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. They have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly? [This book is] narrated in two different voices, featuring a large cast of new characters, with adventures spanning the globe.

The Throne of Fire is a thrill ride.  Rick Riordan maintains a tight grip on a plot that provides action on every single page – literally, the book does not slow down!  It is perfect for today’s middle grade, young adult and even old adult readers.

The Kane Chronicles do play upon age-old themes of good versus evil.  Carter and Sadie are naturally the ones that must lead the battle against Apophis and Chaos.  They are not necessarily “the chosen ones”, but they combine two pharaoh blood-lines and are therefore extremely gifted and powerful magicians.  They hosted the gods Horus and Isis in the first installment, The Red Pyramid, making them bad-ass magicians.  Carter’s intellect is balanced by Sadie’s impulsive and let’s say, very honest nature.  They are the perfect pair to take on Egyptian gods and magicians to save the world.

Rick Riordan’s writing is fast-paced.  The adventures are breathtaking and the minor characters range from young magicians to crazy gods.  It is easy to look past the “formulaic” essence of the book.  The infusion of Egyptian mythology and blending of two worlds offers a different and fun twist to the fight between good and evil and the children that must lead this fight.

Amidst this epic battle, Sadie and Carter must deal with the death of their parents and their feelings for others. Sadie has just turned thirteen and has two very serious crushes.  One on an Egyptian god and another on a fellow magician.  Carter claims to be completely in-love with Zia – a character from the first installment, The Red Pyramid, who taught him magic and essentially helped to save the Kanes’ lives.  Carter is fourteen.

As a thirty-something woman I find it hard to believe that a thirteen or fourteen year old can truly fall in-love…isn’t it more like fall infatuation? But, then I recall the intense emotions of adolescence…I think back to the dilemmas my friends and I shared at thirteen and fourteen of age (eons ago)…yup, a girl of thirteen and a boy of fourteen may say that they are in love and completely believe it.

Combine their raging hormones with their intense longing for their parents and Carter and Sadie become all the more endearing. Riordan masterfully combines the angst & issues of adolescence with the fantasy of being Egyptian magicians. No matter how much magic they know, their teenage problems exist and have no magical resolution.  They must lead the battle to save the world while learning to navigate love, relationships, friendships and their own brother/sister bond.

Riordan combines an exceptionally thrilling adventure, knowledge of Egyptian mythology, travel across the globe and two incredible narrators that take the reader through an exhilarating ride.  For young readers, this book will delight and keep them engrossed for hours.  For old readers, it is such a fun break from perhaps the more serious books we read and will take us back to our earlier years of reading…reminding us of all the books that made us readers in the first place.  I can’t wait to finish Carter and Sadie’s story with The Serpent’s Shadow.

Have you read a book that took you back to your young reading self?

WWW Wednesdays

shouldbereading.wordpress.com asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? The blogs I follow 🙂

What did you recently finish?  I just finished The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan.  Great YA read and will review soon.  It checks off three books from Summer Reading list.

What do you think you’ll read next? I think I’ll continue with Fifty Shades of Grey just because I put it on my summer reading list and I can get my hands on a borrowed copy.

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at shouldbereading.wordpress.com

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

courtesy: violetcrush.wordpress.com

Summary courtesy of Goodreads:

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.  A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. [… a] story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton. 

This book chips away at my summer reading list and I have to admit, although the story is not all that new – it reminds of  Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman a book I reviewed a while ago – it did keep me intrigued.  And, despite its length, I finished it rather quickly.

**few small spoilers throughout**

I feel like the summary does not provide enough detail about the scope and range of the book.  Although the summary focuses on Cassandra, I felt like the plot was more about the mystery Cassandra was solving – the origin of her grandmother.  We learn early in the novel that Nell, Cassandra’s grandmother, was found at the age of four in Australia.  She has no memory of being lost and was raised believing she was in the midst of her biological family.  At the age of 21, her father reveals the truth and this turns Nell’s world upside-down.  She essentially rejects all things and people that are familiar to her because she no longer feels a part of the world in which she grew up.  I found this really strange, I mean I can understand being angry and wishing to uncover the truth about her parents – but to reject her only source of support and love seems rather odd.

Nell only uncovers part of the story, it seemed that she was put on a ship to Australia from Cornwall, England – we find this out also fairly early on…and it is up to Cassandra to solve the mystery for us.  Why not Nell’s daughter, Leslie, you might wonder?  Because Leslie essentially severs all ties with Nell and Cassandra for a man.  Another strange action for a character to take and one that the author does not set up very well.  Might as well have Leslie die as far as I’m concerned because I find it rather baffling that after Nell was distant with Leslie for most of her life, Leslie would turn around and abandon Cassandra altogether.

But, this just covers the surface of the novel.  The other plot in this novel involves Cassandra’s ancestors.  So the novel moves through time.  It is 2005 for Cassandra, 1975 for Nell and 1908-1913 for the mysterious ancestors.

Morton does move seamlessly through the time periods and establishes a great cast of characters for each time period – but I found myself frustrated with each move.  At times I felt like Morton had attempted too much and many, many things were left unearthed or only touched upon briefly.  There were moments that I wished could be further explored, investigated and so I was left with questions.  Perhaps this is an effect that Morton wished to created – no matter how much we might discover about our past and our ancestor’s lives, we can’t ever truly know who they were and what they felt and experienced every day.  We can only piece clues together and fill in the rest with our imagination.  As a reader, however, I didn’t like it.

Although Cassandra’s story was touching, it was the story that least interested me partly because it’s almost cliche – woman must reconstruct old house and in the process meets fabulous man and reconstructs own life.  Seen it.  Read it. Let’s try something different this time, shall we?  Really, the only difference is that Cassandra is redoing the garden…the garden that holds all the secrets.

I almost wish each story had been told separately – perhaps in trilogy fashion.  Each time period, 2005, 1975 and 1908, is so rich in plot that it could be its own novel.

I will say this, Morton’s writing is strong.  It is clean, easy to follow and quite beautiful at times.  There are some wonderful fairy tales inserted throughout, written by the Authoress, Eliza Makepeace, that are fun to read.  The Forgotten Garden kept me entertained and it was fun to solve the mystery – which became quite evident early on (at least for me it did).  Sometimes this was good because it was neat to see the characters figure it out.  Most of the time it was annoying because I had to wait so long for them to figure it out.

I was left feeling very sad that I didn’t see Nell solving the mystery since it was so meaningful to her.  And, once I discovered Nell’s story, I felt really let down that Morton did not give me more insight into the relationship between her parents and the feelings of her mother…there were many moments that I felt the book was long for all the wrong reasons and the questions I had were not answered.  Despite these reactions, The Forgotten Garden is a good book, even though it wasn’t entirely satisfying.

Have you read any books lately that overall are good, but still left you feeling a bit let down?