Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events #8)

The Hostile Hospital (#8)
by  Lemony Snicket
Date Read:  7/30/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

These books are final getting good!  Snicket has finally mixed up his formula and it’s very refreshing!  In this book, the Baudelaire orphans are on the run, on their own. There is no obnoxious guardian with some sort of flaw.  The kids even got split up and it was up to Klaus and Sunny to save Violet.

I really liked that the kids had to fend for themselves. The tired formula of an annoying guardian somewhere remote, Olaf in disguise, Olaf getting away, was getting very tiring. And even though Olaf was in disguise in this book, he wasn’t really the one they were running from – it was a whole band of baddies in Olaf’s camp.  Annoying Esme Squallor shows back up also.  I wonder what happened to Jerome!

The Volunteers Fighting Disease song would get stuck in our heads (we listened to the audiobook).  I can’t say enough how much I like Tim Curry as the narrator over Lemony Snicket. This booked move along really quickly. We got a surprise when they found page 13 of the Snicket file.

It seems like we’re starting to get small pieces of the story and I’m really excited to see where it keeps going.  You have to kind of force your way through those first 6 books where you don’t get much. I think Snicket could have easily cut out 4 or 5 books from this series and still tell his tale – but I know, I know, he wanted to get to 13 books.  If you’ve started reading this series and gotten bored around book 5 and stopped, I urge you to push through. It gets better!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

10 Months Old!

Brooklyn is 10 months old!  Where has the time gone?  It’s time to start planning 1st birthday pictures and her party. I can’t believe my little girl is so big already!

This past month Brooklyn started standing for very short periods of time. She isn’t quite brave enough to let go herself – but if I sneak my hands away, she can stand just fine. She’ll drop or reach for me as soon as she realizes it.  But the day after taking these pictures, she started letting go of things and walking/falling towards me!  It will show up on her next chalkboard, but since it was still right at 10 months, I thought I’d mention it on this blog.

She has become quite a chatterbox.  She’s even starting using inflections.  Right now, she mostly says “dada” – though she doesn’t seem to have connected it to Brandon quite yet.  She’ll accurately say it when she seems him, but then she’ll point at the dogs and say “dada” or use some other inflection. Haha.

Brooklyn took her first plane right this month to Florida. It’s a 4 hour flight from Arizona and she did great – even sick with a cold.  She almost made it the entire flight there without incident…but we tried to stretch her bottle an extra 20 minutes to make it to the decent…and she couldn’t handle it. But I figure 5 minutes out of 4 hours is still a win.

She loves her stuffed animals. She has even pulled the animals out of the donation bin. We bought her a unicorn (Despicable Me) and Optimus Prime from Universal Studios while we were in Florida, and she just loves hugging them and trying to put them in her mouth.  She also loves crawling all over Belle. She thinks it’s a hoot. We are still struggling with Belle licking Brooklyn’s face…but I expect that will be a lifelong battle! Most of the time Brooklyn doesn’t seem to mind and actually giggles. Cinder isn’t really interested in Brooklyn unless she’s in her highchair. I hope that changes as she gets older and can start playing fetch with her.

She has finally calmed down to enjoy listening to books. For a long time she wouldn’t sit still for them, but now she will finally sit on my lap and look at the pictures and listen.  I point things out to her and she points at them too. I’m glad she is finally able to interact and actually enjoy the books we read now. We’ve found a couple Mickey and Minnie Mouse books at the library recently, which she especially enjoys!

Brooklyn began pointing at things just after her 9 month blog post. She gets a kick out of pointing (sometimes at nothing in particular) and seeing all the adults look to where she pointed. She has also learned “How big is Brooklyn” and she responds by raising her arms up in the air to say “So big!”.  She really loves that.

She didn’t want to sit still for these pictures. As soon as I sat her in the chair she was either reaching forward toward me with the camera or trying to erase my chalkboard! Therefore, there aren’t that many good pictures this month, but it’s showing her goofy personality.

It’s so much fun watching her learn new things. I can’t wait to see how much more she learns and develops over the next month.  I expect she’ll be closer to walking, if not walking, by then!  I started pulling all pictures over the last year for her party, and I can’t believe how much she’s changed in a 10 month period. Kids grow so fast.   You have to take plenty of pictures because this time is over before you even blink!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review: The Prey

The Prey (The Hunt #2)
by  Andrew Fukuda
Date Read:  7/22/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

I had received the first book in this series for free through Goodreads, back in March 2012.  So needless to say, I didn’t remember a lot of details from it 2.5 years later.  But I did remember liking it, so when I saw that the sequel books were published, I thought I should finish it off.  I had to read my review again, which helped a little…but even with the recap in the book, there were still things that I didn’t remember.

These books are hard for me to get in to at first.  The author uses a lot of long and detailed descriptions about silly things.  I notice it more at the beginning of the book, and I have to work through that.  He also uses some big words that I have to look up – but sometimes that is fun, because books don’t really help my vocabulary anymore (though I am an adult…so there’s not that many words I need to learn).  But sometimes the big words are unnecessary.  However, half way through the book I noticed those things weren’t bothering me anymore – so either I finally got used to it, or the author wasn’t doing the descriptions of stupid, mundane things anymore.

This book picks up right where it left off.  What I like about these books is that the vampires are scary.  They howl, the run fast on all fours, sunlight melts them, they’re violent killers.  They’re real vampires, not sparkly handsome things.  And their odd quirks, like scratching their wrists, don’t play in to this book.

The group finally gets away from the vampires and find this mission (village).  There are a lot of strange things surrounding this city and while they are given some answers, there are still some strange things that makes the group question whether those answers are truth.  I was very curious about this place, and was very upset when the initial answers were given.  [SPOILER: I thought it was another Divergent tale – acting like a dystopian world, but JUST KIDDING, there is only one city like that, the rest of the world is still normal.  Though there were still so many unanswered questions I was sure that couldn’t be the whole answer.  I was thinking those loose ends wouldn’t be tied up for me at the end of the book, but with a few pages left, I was glad to see that the world really is dystopian still and the guy had lied. END SPOILER]  The real answers made this world even more interesting and unsettling.

The author isn’t shy about killing or turning people either.  Sometimes I like that because no one is safe – you never know who might be lost. And it’s realistic in this type of setting. If you live in a world of vampires, not everyone will live.

I’m interested to see how the final book in the series goes and the science behind some of these aspects. I’m interested to see what happens to our remaining group in this new location.  The book has me hooked, and I need to know how it ends.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events #7)

The Vile Village (#7)
by  Lemony Snicket
Date Read:  7/17/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

This story has been my favorite so far of the series. It was the most interesting and seemed to move the fastest – it also helps that Tim Curry is a much better reader than Lemony Snicket was (he should just stick to writing!).

What I really appreciated about this story is that Count Olaf in disguise wasn’t the main focus. He actually only shows up for a very short time at the end.  Most of the story is focused on the Boudelaires trying to solve the mystery of VFD and finding their friends.

The poems were fun to try to decipher – of course I was able to determine how it was going to turn out pretty early, but it was still fun.  I’m interested to see where the twist of who Jacque really was goes.  There’s been a lot of little snippets around Lemony Snicket, but I haven’t been able to piece anything together about him yet either.

I really liked Hector.  Although who was too afraid to speak out, he was a very caring guardian. It was nice for the orphans to have someone who cared about them again and tried to help them.  I also enjoyed seeing him gain the courage to speak out at the end.  Again, this book was just so much better than the rest.  His flaw was realistic, his character developed over the course of the story. It was just so much better than the last few.

I thought the main phrase “small potatoes” was strange the whole time. I kept thinking to myself, “who uses that phrase?”  I’ve never heard that phrase before….and then…I was re-watching season 1 of Chuck (the best show ever!) and in one of those episodes, Casey uses the phrase! Seriously?!  Haha. So proof that these books will actually teach kids something.  =)

I hope that Duncan and Isadora (and Hector) show back up at some point in the series – but thankful that the author didn’t keep dragging that out as well.  But I really like that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have friends, so I hope they don’t stay away until the very end.

Also, with an almost 10 month old, I enjoyed that Sunny finally took her first steps at the end of the book!  That was so exciting – and I can’t wait for my daughter to do the same!  But it also makes me sad that their parents missed it.  =(

I do wish though that we would start getting more pieces to the puzzle.  We’re 7 books in now and really no more knowledgeable than we were in book 1!  I’m very interested to start figuring out everything though. I do think that 13 books is overkill for this series which is why everything is so dragged out right now – but I know the connotation with the number 13, so he wanted to write 13 books. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: Blood Tide

Blood Tide (Never Land #3)
Date Read:  7/14/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

Well, I picked this and another from this series up at a big book sale.  I like reading these short elementary books as books to just enjoy a chapter or two of before bed – and to scope out fun books to read to my daughter as she gets older.

When I picked this one up to read, I tried looking at the books to determine if there was a series to the books. Neither book indicated a number.  So I picked up Blood Tide first.  Well, I came to find out when I added to my currently reading list on goodreads, that this is book 3.  Haha.  Oh well.

This book did not seem dependent on the previous two books – which was good.  It just may have happened at a later time period.

This book was entertaining.  It did not have Peter in it. This is a story of an event that happened while Peter was in London.  It was fun to see how the Lost Boys are without Peter around.  I also liked that Shining Pearl and Little Scallop were much bigger characters in this book.

It’s a relatively short book and includes pictures every few pages.  It’s perfect for a young reader just beginning chapter books – of course, you’d have to read the big chapter book in the first Starcatchers book to understand who the characters are.

The book moved at a quick pace and kept me interested. It was fun seeing the two different story lines and then to watch them come together at the end. I thought this book was really well done. I really enjoy the concept of the Starcatchers also.  If you enjoyed the Starcatchers books, you should pick this up as a quick addition.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events #6)

The Ersatz Elevator (#6)
by  Lemony Snicket (Author)Tim Curry (Reader)
Date Read:  6/8/15
Rating: ★ ★ 

The Ersatz Elevator is just more of the same from Lemony Snicket. The plots are always the same: a new guardian, Olaf in disguise, Olaf gets away.  But at least he’s playing fun at it now – “We can’t let him get away for the 6th time”!

I want to put this out there early: I liked this reader, Tim Curry, much better than the previous reader (I just checked and he’s the actor too, in you were wondering!).  He has more inflection to his voice, and he speaks louder so I’m not having to blast out my speakers to understand.  I checked the CDs out from the library this time instead of the digital audio, in hopes that maybe it was the cable connection that made it so quite.  Alas, for some reason, these are just very quiet. I usually listen to the radio at 13 or 14…we have to turn the CD all the way up to 28!  And then when they whisper it’s still hard to hear!  But this reader is much more enjoyable.

There were a few times I found myself chuckling at this one.  There were a lot more descriptions of phrases and words in this book than I’ve noticed in some of the recent ones we’d listened to.  I think as long as your kid can handle death (of fictitious characters) then these books would be great for them. It builds their vocabulary and understanding of things in a fun way, without having to ask an adult what something means.

I did like that Quagmire Triplets have arrived.  That helped mix things up, and I really enjoy that they have friends.  Even though the Quagmires are in trouble, it still helps mix it up a bit.  The whole plot is just fixed on trying to get away from Olaf now; they are also trying to save their friends and solve a mystery.

Sometimes I feel like the story is dragged out a little too much though.  I found myself bored at times in this book.  Sometimes I enjoy his descriptions of “you would hope this….instead of that…” and he goes on for 3 examples, but at the end of the story, it was just annoying to me.  We know it doesn’t end happy, just end the book already…instead of adding on 2 more pages.

One thing I did like about this was the twist of where the dark passage way ended! <spoiler> I did not expect it to lead to the ashes of their mansion.  I’m interested to see where that part of the story goes.   That was a good twist that I wasn’t expecting. </spoiler>

I want to finish this series though so I can say we’ve read (listened) to them all and I’m still hopeful there’s a relatively happy ending for them at the end of book 13.
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