Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans (#1)

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

by  Laurence Yep, Joanne Ryder
Date Read:  7/11/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

This book was pretty good. I forgot to write my review so it’s been a while since I actually finished it, so parts are hard to remember.

The beginning is a bit hard because it’s silly that a dragon thinks that the human is her pet. Clearly the human race runs the world – the magicals all hide from them…  so that was hard to adjust to. But perhaps that was just because the dragon’s personality was hard to relate to initially.  Once the story got going she wasn’t as hardended and it was easier to get to know her.

I really liked Winnie.  It just took a long time for the author to set up what was really the plot of the story. I was surprised as I was about half way through and read the description more carefully about Winnie’s sketchbook. By the time the sketchlings get out to wreak havoc, the book is almost over. They’re search and capture of the sketchlings happens to quickly the reader barely gets any satisfaction.  I think the author should have spent a little less time setting up Winnie and Ms. Drake’s relationship and spent more time on the sketchbook and the chase.  It felt like they escaped and they captured them all within a few hours. Not satisfying.

I thought the world the author set up was interesting though - with the magical beings able to live in hiding from the humans. I liked that the dragon could turn in to human form. The magic was fun.

It was a solid 3 star book. It was a nice, easy book to listen to during my commute to and from work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gilmore Girls Discussion - Who Should Rory End up with?

I have been a die hard Gilmore Girls fan since I was in high school.  I started high school in 2000, which was when Gilmore Girls first aired.  Being just a year behind Rory, I could almost always relate to what she was dealing with on the show.  I adored her relationship with her mother, and the way they played off each other with such ease. I’d never seen that in a TV show. I’d also never seen people talk so fast in my life!  It had charm and was artsy and some really great side characters. I will easily say it’s been my favorite TV show I’ve ever watched. I was soo sad when the show ended in 2007.  Ever since then, there has not been a TV show that has been able to equal that show.

When I heard that Netflix was bringing a continuation to the Gilmore Girls story, titled A Year in the Life, I was so ecstatic. I didn’t even know how to react I was so excited.  It was even more exciting when I heard that the entire cast, even all the side characters and towns people were coming back!  So in my euphoric state, I decided that since it’s been a whole 9 years since I’d watched the show (with the exception of a few occasional reruns on TV), I needed to binge watch all 7 seasons!

Now that I’ve finished watching all 7 seasons, I remembered how frustrated I was at how the series ended.  Most of it comes from the relationships. Since all 3 of Rory’s boyfriends are supposed to appear in the continuation on Netflix, I thought that I showed weigh in my opinion of who I feel Rory should end up with in the end.

I was never a fan of Dean. Sure, when you watch those first 2 seasons he is super sweet and loyal to Rory. The way he was able to banter with the girls and knew them so well was endearing…But he was always kind of immature and just not on the same level as Rory. He didn’t have that many goals in life, he didn’t value his education, and he just didn’t really fit in to her life.  And of course we cannot forget his infidelity to his wife, Lindsey. He cheated on his wife, with Rory. Once a cheater, always a cheater. There is no way Rory could trust him.

Before I re-watched the entire series this year, I thought I was on Team Jess. For some reason I always liked Jess. He had that bad guy attitude, but yet always seemed to take care of Rory. It was that personality that is so popular in YA novels now…before it was cool. Rory had a lot in common with Jess in the fact that he was very literate.  However, he also didn’t take school very seriously and it was hard to make him focus on something.  I was so happy to see him succeeding in those final seasons of the show.  But I feel that Rory had moved on – she even tried to cheat on Logan (to get back at him) with Jess, and it didn’t feel right. She has moved on from this relationship. So while I still enjoy Jess and feel that definitely should be close friends for life, I don’t think he’s the guy for her.  And can we just address the fact that if Luke and Lorelei are still together and plan to get married, that makes Rory and Jess semi-related????  While it’s not blood and it would be her step-father’s nephew…it’s still a little too close for me to be okay with that.

Where do I even begin with Logan?  I’m clearly on Team Logan now. I liked how their relationship progressed on the show.  It was slow and believable… starting with just being this jerk she ran in to, to running in to him some more, then using him to write a story on the Life and Death Brigade, to becoming friends with him and his friends, then dating casually.  Once Rory realizes she can’t do the casual thing, he makes a decision to be monogamous to her.  From then on, Logan was my guy.  Yes, he was rich and privileged and arrogant, but he used it in a good way. He took care of Rory and was very protective of her – especially against his obnoxious mom and dad. He challenged her often to keep pushing her and helping her to live life in the moment.  He made her take more chances and be less fearful of things (sometimes that was bad… remember the boat incident?). He was determined and loved Rory for her quirkiness. He was actually very smart as well, but didn’t take school as seriously – he actually got kicked out of boarding schools just like Rory’s father. [Girls always pick a guy that is like their father].  He was very witty and had a great sense of humor (remember the theatrical stunt he pulled in the classroom?)  He was always there for Rory when she needed him and had great apologies when he did something wrong or there was a misunderstanding. He was just perfect. Perfect for her.  A great balance between them – similar and yet different enough to push each other and lean on each other. And they way he would look at her?  SWOON!  Every girl wants a guy to look at her that way - total adoration and love. 

While I watched the end of the series for the second time, I started remembering how frustrated I was at the ending of the show.  As it got closer and closer to the end, I started getting angry. And then I watched the infamous episode where Logan asks Rory to marry him in front of all her friends at her graduation party… (and can I just say that my life even ended up paralleling Rory’s in that way also? A year and a half later when I graduated college, my boyfriend proposed to me at our joint graduation party!)  I said YES!  Why couldn’t she?  I didn’t feel I was too young and it definitely didn’t hinder my career either. I felt Rory’s reasoning was really lame. If you’ve met the right man, why does age have anything to do with it? UGH.  And it's not like she had a job lined up on the East coast at the time. She could have easily applied to papers in the Bay Area. I was so mad at the end of that episode, that I actually told my husband that I almost don’t want Logan to give Rory a second chance in the continuation. But now that I’ve cooled off, I still want her and Logan to get back together. If that’s the case, and I sincerely hope it is, then they will have missed out on 9 years of happiness together because of Rory’s stupid decision.

According to IMDB, Matt Czuchry (Logan) is in all 4 episodes, Milo Venitimiglio (Jess) is in 3 episodes, and Jared Padalecki (Dean) is only in 1 episodes. My hope is that this information means that Logan is the one she ends up realizing she still loves and wants to finally make her life with!

I also want to take a moment to vent about the Lorelei and Luke and Christopher thing as well. I was so, so angry that they had Lorelei go to Christopher at the end of Season 6. Yes, Lorelei had every reason to be mad at Luke, but going to Chris was so immature. While she finally takes responsibility for it at the end of season 7, I hated that she tried to make it be okay by completely breaking up with Luke and then marrying Chris. Everyone knew she wasn’t supposed to be with him. Even though it was nice for Rory to have her parents together, she wasn’t even that excited. So it was a boring plot line that dragged on for too long. And it took the writers way too long to get them back together – the last 2 minutes of the series???

I’ve done so much research with this new A Year in the Life and I have learned quite a bit. I wasn’t aware that the original writers of the show only wrote seasons 1 – 6. Once the WB became the CW, they couldn’t agree to contracts so new writers wrote the final season. Apparently the events that take place in season 7 are not how the original writers had seen the series going. In fact, she even said she knew what the final 4 words of the series would be very early on in the series. Unfortunately, we never got to hear those words. She’s kept quiet about it ever since, and we’re finally going to get to find out what it was!  I’m really hoping that since the original writers are doing the Netflix show that it will get back to what it’s good at and will bring some happiness and closure to the Gilmore Girls’ lives.

Weigh in on who you think Rory should end up with in the comments!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians #1)
by  William Joyce
Date Read:  7/5/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

I was having trouble finding an audiobook for my husband and I to listen to on our commute to work. I somehow stumbled across this, and since we enjoyed the movie, I checked it out.  We are so happy we did.  (Side note: this story also has a series of picture books titled "The Guardians of Childhood" as well with origin stories of the Man in the Moon, Sandman, and Jack Frost – and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.)

The book was a little slow to start up – it gave a lot of back history on Pitch (the nightmare King) and how he came to be (a fallen hero) and setting up the setting of the story in Big Root and what was going on there with Umbric and Katherine. Once Nicholas St. North actually shows up in the story it really started getting interesting.

The background story is all needed to really understand the story – and it’s a very interesting world. I love the magic and the twists on the childhood characters. I liked how protective North became of Katherine even though he started out as just a thief. Everything was built up really well and in a believable amount of time.

Overall a great story. I feel like I missed out though listening to the audiobook. Reading others reviews, it sounds like there are illustrations in these chapter books as well. I might have to go look at in the library just so I can see the illustrations. The ones that are included in the picture book series are just marvelous (haha, I couldn’t think of any other words that describe how beautiful they are!).

I’m really excited to read more of North’s story to see how he eventually becomes Santa Clause. I’m also really excited to see how Joyce brings to life and twists more of our favorite characters like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

Book Review: The Crown

The Crown (The Selection #5)
by  Kiera Cass
Date Read:  6/27/16
Rating: ★ ★ 

It has been a while since I finished “The Crown”.  I had to sit on it for a few days to get my feelings together about it…and then I forgot about it!

I really wanted to enjoy this book…and there were some parts that I did enjoy: I like the characters and the growth of Eadlyn and I like the world they live in and the change that has happened since the original story.

But overall I was disappointed with the book.  I was really rooting for Kile in this series. I know it’s a little cliché with him having lived in the palace with her all those years, but he was really the guy I liked best. And I liked their relationship with each other and how it grew once they got to know each other.  I liked some of the other characters as well, but I just wanted her to be with Kile. There weren’t really any that I hated by this book, which was nice.

I was constantly suspicious throughout the book: I was suspicious at Ahren’s disappearance and his lack of communication to his twin sister. I was suspicious about Marid’s mysterious appearance even though their parents hated each other. I was suspicious that something was going to happen at the interview and the coronation. Most of these do not come to fruition. Cass created the same type of thing in her first series too. The world and character building is great, and she makes you expect something big, but her execution is usually sub-par.  Same goes for this book. The conflict was really disappointing.

I thought it was hard to believe that Eadlyn would take the throne so young and that her parents would easily step aside. While all the reasons are sweet, it just didn’t feel very believable. It was just the only way Cass could get to the end point she wanted.

And speaking of that – she really just steps in and says, “This is what we’re doing” and the whole country has to go along with it? Without any sort of checks and balances from her cabinet members?  She could write a whole new series on what happens after that surprising (but not so surprising) announcement at the end of the book. There will be revolts and riots and things will not go smoothly – because she didn’t plan it out with anyone ahead of time!  So annoying!!!

I didn’t feel like the romance we developed well at all. While I did like the guy, all I saw was friendship, and then all of a sudden they were madly in love and she was willing to go against rules and everything to be with him. It felt forced and not believable. I loved Maxon and America’s story – it was slow and believable and adorable. But Eadlyn’s was not.

I’m pretty disappointed with this book and the ending of the series. I was initially excited to see a new generation in the Selection series, but I now almost rather that Cass has just left it at 3 books – America’s ending was good.

I did appreciate that it was only 278 pages. Most final books are stupid 700+ pages nowadays, so it was refreshing to have a short book. But at the same time, that came with a cost to the romance and storytelling.

Finally the main reason this will get 3 stars instead of 2 is that we get a good look at characters from the original book and how they’ve changed and grown throughout the years also. Most of America’s friends and family show up at some point during this book, and there are some tough topics addresses – like one couple unable to have kids. I thought that was what Cass did best in this second half of the series. I wasn’t really attached to many of the new characters or story, but I am still glad I read it so I could see the characters I did like all grown up!
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