Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (Read 3/27-4/1)

I was a little unsure about reading another Alice Hoffman book because I disliked Practical Magic.  But the Red Garden was much better than I expected.  This is essential a book of short stories that revolve around a town in Massachusetts, starting with its founding in 1750 and continuing until the 1990's.
The first story "The Bear's House" is about the founding families and how the town comes to be.  It revolves around Hallie Brady, who perseverance and gumption prevents everyone from starving and surviving their first winter.  In the process she befriends a bear cub and the magic of Blackwell begins.  The remainder of the stories follow her decendants until the present, each with their own short story.
The premise was good, but it all felt stilted, I didn't really connect with any of the characters and therefore didn't really connect with the book.  It was a meh read for me.

Wizards First Rule by Terry Goodkind (Read 3/3 to 3/26)

This is the follow up book the Debt of Bones read in BOTM. There is a world divided evil magic, good magic, and no magic.  The boundaries between evil and good magic is destroyed, a war ensues.  Someone from the land of magic must flee to the land of no-magic, i.e. the Westlands, to find a wizard and a legendary hero to save the world of good magic, i.e. the Midlands, from the ruler of bad magic, i.e D'Hara.  Does that sound exciting?  Does it make you want to pick up the book and start down the path of the Sword of Truth series.  I agree.  This is a great first book, and I highly recommend reading it.  I love the characters and the story line, the end has a great set up for the next book, which is both great and not so great for me.  Because once you have read this book, you know the underlying plot for every book remaining in the series, so there is no real need to finish reading them. Richard loves Kahlan, and Kahlan loves Richard, but boohoo they can never be together so tragic, oh look they almost messed thing up, but now they have fixed them blah blah blah. But don't let the fact that the rest of the series sucks turn you off from this book, and some people even like the repeating story line in the sequels.  I really like this book, I really enjoy the read and the characters, there is no character I say I wish was not written into the story.  I love Zedd, and his zaniness.     The writing is solid, there is just enough detail to set up the world in your minds eye, but not so much that you imagination is hog-tied.  The characters are likable and deep enough to be believable.  And I admit the first time I read this series I couldn't wait to start the next one, and I went about 4 or 5 books in before giving up. Take this book as a great first book and love it for that, because it deserves it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind (Read 2/2/15 to 3/1/15)

This was a BOTM read.  It is the prequel to his Sword of Truth series that the TV show The Legend of the Seeker was based on.  In this book we first are introduced to the Character of Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander and the Rahl of D'Hara.    There is a war in the Land, the D'Harans are trying to take over the world with the use of some very dark magic.  We meet Abigail (Abby) she is coming the request Zeddicus, a Wizard of the First Order help her to save her daughter Jana from the D'Harans.  Abby calls in a debt of bones, in order to force Zeddicus to help her.  In doing so, she sets into motion the events that lead to the end of the war with D'Hara and the boundaries being created separating the land into three parts, the Westlands (no magic), the Midlands (magical) and D'Hara (magical).

This was a short book, only 160 pages.  I liked it, it was quick and gave a taste of the story to come. This was a second reading for me, the first time I read the series I read it first too. I think the questions left me wanting to start the first book quicker so I could get them answered. It whetted my curiosity.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (#1) by Ransom Riggs (Read 3/7/15 to 3/14/15)

This was a book we read in my live book club, one of members is a library and she had multiple copies that were giveaways from the library, so we received some copies and assigned it to March.  It was supposedly marketed as supernatural and dark, a book "to keep you up at night."  If that is what you are looking for, you will be disappointed.  There are supernatural factors, but there is nothing dark or chilling, some of the pictures are a little creepy, but not enough to give you trouble sleeping.
The story revolves around Jacob, who finds his grandfather dying, in what first appears to be a wild dog attack.  His grandfather had filled his head with fantastic stories about magical children he had grown up with during WWII.  Children who had peculiar talents, such as levitating or growing gardens at a wish, were ubber strong, or made of bees.  As Jacob grew older, he began to realize these stories were made up, and his Grandfather slowly stopped telling them.  After his Grandfather's death, Jacob gets sent into a bit of a tailspin and goes looking for his Grandfather's past.  What he finds may is that his grandfather may not have been the liar he thought he was.
This was a great book, I loved that when a picture was mentioned, for the most part you turn the page and Bam there is the picture, it may have taken away a little of the reader's ability to imagine the characters, but the pictures were so integral to the story that the minor loss was not noticed. The book was originally intended to be a picture book featuring photographs Riggs had collected, but on the advice of an editor, he used the photographs as a guide from which to put together a narrative and a story was born.  I really like the concept and the integration of the pictures, Riggs states that he has searched many a flea market and garage sale for the pictures used, and he has many more which is good news for the sequels.  This is obviously a sequel, even if the second book hadn't been already released, the ending leaves no doubt there will be more books.
Jacob is a dis-likable character who grows into a likable character the further the story goes along.  There are lots of secrets and plots, yet the writing is simple and straightforward, making it easy to read and kept me interested without overtaking my life.  The children are endearing and varied, some are sweet, some are mean, but they are all individual characters,  There were many characters that were only mentioned briefly, but Riggs did a great job of having the children be their own characters and not being confused with each other, which may have been the help of the pictures, but it lends itself to good possibilities of the future books, maybe fleshing some of these characters out more.  I am looking forward to getting the second book.
As a side note, this book is better in the actual book format than electronic, I think it must have something to do with the pictures not translating as well when on an e-reader