Book 486: The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events #7) – Lemony Snicket

It will come as NO shock that the next installment of our book group was Lemony Snicket’s The Vile Village. That’s the fun thing about reading a series, you already know what you’re going to read and you just have to space them out so you don’t read them too fast. That being said, I have the next four already on my kindle ready to read!!!

The series, as I said in my response to The Ersatz Elevator, appears to be picking up pace. The Baudelaire orphans seem to be taking on more responsibility for their own well being/future (or as much as they can) with the incompetent adults around them doing nothing. I’m glad to say the rest of book group agrees that it’s starting to pick up the pace.

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Book 484: The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events #6) – Lemony Snicket

There were a couple of pretty big revelations in this book that I was like WHOA. Some you could see them coming, but they were still like WTF!? I really really really really really want to read through the whole series ASAP, but I’m doing my best not to as these are the book group books for this year.

This book piqued my interest even more than the last because the Baudelaires have decided to try to take charge of their own destiny as much as three children can. They haven’t quite figured it out yet, but they’re working on it, but when Klaus said, “We’ve spent so much of our time trying to escape from Count Olaf, I can’t believe we’re trying to find him.” (Loc. 1200), I almost whooped out lout on the airplane. I was just so happy they were finally acknowledging the idiocy of the adults around them and were going to do something about it.

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Book 483: The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events #5) – Lemony Snicket

I don’t know why, but for some reason I always assumed the man on the front of this book was Count Olaf. Maybe it’s the illustrator’s style, but either way I was surprised to find out it wasn’t him.

This book is just as ridiculous as the rest, but not as dark. As the story begins to turn away from the day-to-day struggles of the Baudelaire orphans and their guardians to the broader mystery of their parents death I’m starting to be more interested in the series. There are just as many incompetent adults in this novel as in all the others, but honestly I think this is the least dark when it comes to physical violence, but it’s one of the worst when it comes to abuse and situations children shouldn’t be put in because of “rules.”

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Book 482: The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events #4) – Lemony Snicket

I’m starting to appreciate these more. Maybe I’m in a better place mentally, but this batch (The Miserable MillThe Austere Academy and The Ersatz Elevator) weren’t quite as draining as the first three (The Bad BeginningThe Reptile Room and The Wide Window).

We once again join the Baudelaire orphans as they are about to meet their new guardian and of course it’s going to be horrible, that’s a given. But what I wasn’t expecting was how much this book would sort of set me off. I mean I knew it would because of the other books in the series. Snicket is using these books to talk about things we don’t talk about anymore: child marriage, child labor, abandonment and neglect. It’s still a lot to take in but looking at it through this lens has really helped me appreciate the books a lot more than I originally did.

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Book 480: Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

I picked up my copy of Cat’s Eye back in December of 2011 and I’ve waited WAY too long to read it. I’ve been looking at my bookshelves thinking I needed to read more of those books and so I went back to my list and looked at the oldest on there and this was one of them.

I’m glad I read this because every time I read a another Margaret Atwood novel I ask myself why in the hell I waited so long between novels. I’m doubly glad I read this as it’s kept my belief that the short and long list booker prizes are more approachable than the winners. I haven’t read the 1989 winner yet, it’s Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, and it could break that streak with how much of an impact Never Let Me Go left on me.

I think what has always drawn me to Atwood are her strong female characters, her awesome speculative fiction, and what seems like her fascination with age and aging. I thought it was weird at first, but then I realized that some of these novels I’m reading from the late 80s were when Atwood was already in her late-40s/early-50s. So it made a lot more sense when I realized that. Continue reading

Book 457: One of These Things First – Steven Gaines

Gaines, Steven - One of These Things FirstI had no idea who Steven Gaines was and after reading this, I don’t have that much more of an idea. I’d love to say I’ve done more research but I haven’t, but I may try to read Philistines at the Hedgerow later this fall as we’re going to a wedding in the Hamptons and it’s about property there.

All of this being said, my thoughts are not a bad thing, especially as I enjoyed his writing, but an observation of my usual lack of background knowledge going in to a book.

The lovely people at Open Road Media reached out to me with a copy of One of These Things First* as I had previously read In Youth Is Pleasure and I can see the similarities in story, style and experience even though they’re set in different countries and quite a bit apart temporally.

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Book 447: The Enchantress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #6) – Michael Scott

Scott, Michael - The EnchantressAs with The Warlock, I wish I had as much enthusiasm and glowing things to say about this book as I did the first time I read it. I picked up this copy way back in 2013 and it’s sat on my shelf since then. I’m glad I’ve re-read them so I can clear up the shelf space now. (I didn’t even technically read it this time as I checked out digital copies from the library to take to China to save space :-D)

It is still a great read and an amazing conclusion to the series, but it’s just not as full of impact or as powerful as I remember it being. This is because of the big reveals in The Warlock that I wrote about at the end and how that reveal is then discussed and explained (and even sort of thrown away) in this book. For me, it’s the reveal I talk about in the next paragraph that made the re-read so hard. It’s one of those things, similar to an unreliable narrator, that is just a major turn off for me when it comes to a book.

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