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GreatImaginationsLyn

Heartless Lyn @ Great Imaginations

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost"

Stars, Stars for Everyone!

I just realized that I have not handed out less that four stars for all but one of my books from my 2014 reading shelf.

 

Book Review of Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Spirit and Dust - Rosemary Clement-Moore
"Dying was such a rotten way to learn that I wasn't nearly the badass I thought I was."
 
"I was a guide to lost souls and the patron sinner of the recently dead."


Review: Texas Gothic was (and still is) a top favorite book the year I read it. When the author announced another book set in the same universe, I was, understandably excited and giddy.  Due to some issues last year, I fell way behind on my fangirl reading.  This one was rotting away on my Kindle when I ran across it.  
Daisy Goodnight made a brief appearance in Texas Gothic, and from what I saw, I instantly liked Daisy.  She's a bit on the rough side, and tends to speak her mind. In Spirit and Dust we see her come forward and learn more about her background and her seemingly "bad" attitude. The story leaned more towards mobster mystery, but the plot was pulled off nicely. The second Goodnight book also delves further into ghost lore and afterlife beliefs, and starts to set deeper roots for Clement-Moore's own world-building.

What Was Great



▪ I have to say Daisy is, by far, my favorite Goodnight. This is not to say that I don't love Amy and Phin, but Daisy matched my own personality type, and therefore, I felt that Daisy was a kindred spirit. She has a very calloused outer shell, but below all of it, she is a deeply caring and serious individual. Daisy sees herself as an idealist, but at the same time, she knows that she isn't the answer to everything. Even with her strong morals and unwavering sense of loyalty, Daisy still falls victim to doubt from time to time.

▪ The story kept me guessing, and I was taken by surprise by the ending.  This mystery was pulled off with a touch of magic and a ton of well thought-out planning.

▪ I enjoyed how Clement-Moore used ghost mythology and her own personal interpretation of the afterlife and beyond for her story. Emotions run high for this novel, and I was able to siphon the feelings of sadness and eternity from the characters.

▪ Magic makes for a stronger element in Spirit and Dust. I did enjoy the mystic vein of "realistic" magic in Texas Gothic, but some of the events linked to the magic made for some very exciting scenes.

▪ Even though this was set out side of Texas, I liked the references that only a fellow Texas could throw out. Daisy's comments and thoughts about the cold amused me to no end.

What Was Meh



▪ The romance actually bothered me. I wasn't too crazy about the main love interest. I wanted it to go a different way (I want to keep this as spoiler-free as possible).

▪ While the magic made for a awesome reading, I liked that the first book had a strong "realistic" feel.

▪ The author warned about this problem in her notes at the end of the book, but property damage actually bothers me. I wasn't able to shake my feeling of discomfort.

Overall:



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In the end, I can say that I am a die-hard fangirl of Rosemary Clement-Moore. I want more from the Goodnight storyline. I took to Twitter to tell the author that I adore her work, and she was kind enough to reply back. Spirit and Dust is a fun and complex read, with plenty of emotion and suspense to keep the reader asking for more.
Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2014/01/book-review-of-spirit-and-dust-by.html

[Forgotten Fridays] And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

Lyn: Nice classic pick! It is always refreshing to pick up the old stuff every now and then.

Kara: Yeah, it’s one of my favorites and always has been. I think this is the third time I’ve read it (also played the computer game), but uh, one thing I didn’t notice all the other times I read it was the racism and anti-semitism which kind of shocked me, to be honest. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering the decade this was written in, but still. It through me for a loop because I wasn’t expecting it. I then went and did a little bit of research and the original title of this book SHOCKED me. Did you happen to catch that? I don’t want to mention that here because no, but wow. I don’t know how that got by the publishers!!

Lyn: I don’t know if this is a rumor, but I heard that the UK isn’t all fussy over PC terms. I always knew the book by the first title, so I was somewhat surprised to see that it was changed way back when, but my English teacher still referred to it as the first title. 

Kara: Your English teacher called it Ten Little N-----? 

Lyn: She called it Ten Little “Black People” - air quotes and all. Even though I was a naive little thing, I still got the reference.

Kara: OMG. I am a bit speechless here. I never knew. I knew that it changed to Ten Little Indians in between those two titles, but I found out on Goodreads about the other. I was SHOCKED. Anyway, glad we got that out of the way. Haha. 

So, how did you feel about who the culprit ended up being? It was actually interesting for me, reading this as someone who KNEW who did it, looking for all the clues the author left behind.

Lyn: This is going to sound so snotty of me, but I pieced it together, but when the person I thought had been offed, I was lost. So, in a way, I was still surprised. I’m not sure if we want to reveal any clues, but I can mention what tipped me off behind a spoiler alert. Also, I was really happy to see some of the characters die off. I cheered at 3 deaths (I’m sick).

Kara: Yeah, totes put it behind a spoiler alert. I think you should. I remember thinking the same thing. I think you are supposed to think it is that person but then the red herring throws you for a loop. It’s like, “WTF, okay what do I think now?” And yeah, I remember the first time I read it being utterly confused and not figuring it out at all from that point on.

Lyn: I think the biggest tip off was the order of the character introduction, and the know-it-all-attitude of the culprit. I’ll also say that Armstrong was an asshole. I was a little dismayed at the sexism of the book. I was mildly surprised a woman wrote this.

Kara: I’m not. Almost everything from that decade is sexist. I don’t even think most women had the urge to be independent then. Just look at the fifties. There were women who were trying to gain independence, but a lot of them were also satisfied to stay in the home and take care of their husbands. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I still think the idea of feminism wasn’t nearly as big then as it is now. I also think Christie favored her male characters though I did hear that she loved the two she killed off last the most and one of them was a woman. I don’t know. Maybe I am just rambling. 

As for the culprit and what you stated, that totally makes sense. What do you mean by the introduction? Because he was introduced first?

Lyn: I did feel that most of the men had better characterization, but, on the other hand, the males were just monsters. The women did some horrible things, but DAMN the men were so mean!

Yes. When i saw the initials were U.N.O - uno is one, and he was the first. It just clicked because he was really steering the whole game along the entire time.

Kara: Nice! I never connected that. You are smarter than me, lady! I actually got a lot of the characters confused this time around. I was surprised by how poor some of the characterizations were. It was easy to tell the women apart but except for the judge, all the men ran together for me. I wish you were able to play the game. I think you would love it. It bgins the atmosphere of the book to life, and honestly, that was my favorite part about the story. I FREAKING LOVED that setting.

Lyn: The more I read, the more I feel that I can pick up on things, and old literature always seem to have information tied up in pretty little packages for the reader.

What shocked me more than the ending (I did like how they revealed the whole thing - nice touch) was Vera’s backstory. I think my mouth fell open when she let it slip about the past. And OH the men! I had to write down notes, because Macarthur, and the two other guys (I seriously am drawing a blank) were like the same person in my head. I was curious if it was going to be difficult to tell the characters apart, because you can only do so much with 10 main characters.

Kara: Ahhhh, you took notes! Brilliant idea. I never take notes though I know I should. I have a notebook that I never use and every now and then I try to get back into it and end up not sticking with it.

OMG. Do you know I forgot about that twisty shit with Vera? It’s been several years since I read it and it caught me by surprise too. That was the only thing that did, but it was worth it. I loved reading this again and getting all nostalgic. I think I was around 27ish the last time I read it. Glad I picked it. I can’t wait until we finally get to Ten so we can see if it’s decent or not.

Lyn: I am really excited to read Ten now. I hope it comes off as well as this one. Also, for the rating, I’m going to go with 3.5 stars, because I did enjoy it, but I felt muddled at times, and I disliked most of the asshats in the story. But it was a good one!

Kara: It was always a 5 star for me but I am knocking off a star this time because of the male characterizations and the racism. I CAN’T EVEN. O_o Still really love it though.

Lyn: Awesome! Let me know when we want to do Ten. I still need to purchase it. I thought I picked it up, but it was another book.

Kara: I think I will probably just do it for my next pick and get it out of the way. We have Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen next. Are you doing that one?

Lyn: Yes!

Kara: Yay, and then you get to do yours and I won’t reveal that until next time. So, until next time?

Lyn: Yes, see you in two weeks!

Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2014/01/forgotten-fridays-and-then-there-were.html

Book Review of Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama

Review: When it comes to YA books, “mermaid” usually equates to “burn it”. Mentioning mermaids in the description usually sends me running far far away from said book. When Monstrous Beauty was released, I had very little interest in it. However, Wendy at The Midnight Garden highly recommended this very book, so I added it via Kindle to my reading list. I really wish I had picked this one up a little sooner than now. 

Yah!

 

  • The world building was sweet and simple. This isn’t to say that the author slacked on her own mythology. Fama’s mermaid lore helped define her story. I enjoyed how well she seemed to cover her bases with actions and brief background explanations.
 
  • The characters, as a whole, made for a very interesting story. The shades in the story were, overall, the most likable. The story centered on what happened to this handful of ill-fated townspeople, and by turning the attention to the lives and the personalities of the deceased, the story transformed into a mermaid book that was not strictly about mermaids. The main character, Hester, was not the key player in the novel. Instead, Hester acted as a catalyst. Hester’s and The Other Boy’s (I can’t even remember his name) sketchy development – I can overlook it due to the brilliance of the mystery.
 
  • On the subject of mysteries, have to confess that I avoid mystery novels. I’m warming up to them, but…yeah. The mystery department does not seem to be my thing. I usually go mad before I solve the ending. However, I did enjoy the mystery of Monstrous Beauty and it kept me glued to the book. I enjoyed how the whole mood of the book was simply unsettling, not strictly spooky and creepy, like some mystery-fueled books.
 
  • Hester and Ezra. Yes, it might lean towards a touch of insta-love, but the sweet, touching budding relationship made me feel a bit on the melty side internally. Ezra just made the “Book Boyfriend” list.
 
  • The underwater section of the book made me slip back into The Little Mermaid mode. So awesome, and so touching.


Meh:

 

  • I felt a little lost at times during Hester’s portion of the storyline. I’m not sure how it happened or if it was something I missed, but I was completely confused when Hester found out the mystery surrounding the church.

 

  • I was slightly bored with Hester’s storyline. I just couldn’t drum up the feelings for her.

 

  • I wanted more Syrenka!

 

Overall: The story was strong and straight forward. A majority of the characters were interesting and the tale was bittersweet and left me wanting more.  The mermaids are finally granted justice and the sea-witch was spectacular. However, the present-day portions were weaker compared to the historical sections. In the end, this was a very entertaining and left me with a whole load of feels.
Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2014/01/book-review-of-monstrous-beauty-by.html

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress - Marissa Meyer

Review: So, more than likely, this is review #2976 of this book to pop up in your feed/e-mail. This sucker is a hot one, and I can see why the entire world is bookgasming over this one. I honestly feel very intimidated to add anything to my review that hasn't popped up yet. I'll focus on the two main points of the book, since I am sure everyone has already formed a solid opinion about buying a copy.

Main point #1:

Story-wise, this one is, hands down, the strongest of the three.  Meyer is delving deeper into her universe, and the story is slowly transforming into a darker and highly complex storybook twister. This is not something unexpected, since each novel is driving towards an overall sinister and dangerous arc.  The ending of Cressgives us a glimpse into the next tale, which promises to really drag the entire Lunar Chronicles universe into a gloomy and blackhearted eclipse of happy-cheesy fun. Even Cress had a few moments of pure wickedness.  The webs are becoming tangled, the characters are becoming tested and challenged, and the ugliness of the Lunar involvement is downright nasty. 
I loved it all.
Be warned: This book is huge. It comes close to 600 pages, and there is quite a lot happening, and many new twists and subplots come rushing out.  The other books seem almost lighthearted and cloying, but don't be fooled by the transparent twists and turns from the previous two novels.
Things are getting serious in Cress, and they are about the become dead serious in Winter.

Main point #2

If I could rate off of the story alone, this would stand at 4 stars. I believe I said it best to Kara in a Google chat:
"Scarlet was my favorite character, but Cress was my favorite story."

Now here comes the unpopular portion of my review.

I found Cress, as a character, annoying and corny.  I found the same issue in Tangled: I did not care for Rapunzel whatsoever. The overly bright and cheery personality can wear my nerves thin. Meyer's Rapunzel and Disney's Rapunzel were separated at the drawing board. Both are one and the same. 
I can understand why Cress was Cress.  She is seeing the world for the first time, and never had too much interaction with the outside world.  However, I found her more idiotic than innocent, and more self-centered than naive. She just didn't work for me. The title character was the weakest part of the book, and I found the main romance highly distasteful.  

Overall, the book is a strong addition to the series, and even though I keep slapping 3 stars on the entire series (seriously, for one reason or another, I keep giving each book 3 stars), I am sad to see this series winding down and coming to a conclusion. Expect the same sugary and silly tropes in this book, but in Meyer's defense, this has become the MO for the Lunar Chronicles.

Gif of the Magi



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Overall, strong story, iffy main character.
Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2014/01/book-review-cress-by-marissa-meyer.html

[Forgotten Fridays] Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1) - Diana Wynne Jones

Lyn: Okay, I have to know - what did you think of this pick?

Kara: I liked it quite a bit. I thought it was incredibly inventive, and I had a lot of fun reading it. I thought the world-building was a lot of fun, and though it didn’t always make sense, it was a fantasy world so as long as you can suspend disbelief (I could), I think it works. I loved the characters quite a bit as well. Basically, this book was just a ton of fun and I had a hard time putting it down. I was always looking forward to getting back to it when I had to stop to do something else. You?

Lyn: Even though it was very different from the anime (the anime leaned more towards “Inspired by” Howl’s Moving Castle), I still found it so charming and sweet. I loved Howl from the anime, and I loved him in the book. I also found Sophie very likeable in the novel. The whole book was such a tangled knot of characters and events, but it all came together at the end. I also like that family played a big role, and the ROMANCE. I was highly impressed with the level of complexity. The twist in the middle of the book was a huge shock to my system, and I loved it.

Kara: You are going to have to refresh my memory already. Which twist are you referring to? See, this is what I mean. I brain dump EVERYTHING.

Lyn: Howl’s background. That was not present in the animated film, which makes me sad, because it was a very strong element in the storyline.

Kara: Okay, I get what you mean. Yeah, I liked that part of it. I guess what I was really entranced by was the castle itself, and Calcifer. I liked Howl and Sophie, but I was never particularly attached to any of the characters. But I did like Sophie and Calcifer quite a bit. It wasn’t a perfect book for me, however. I thought the ending came about too abruptly. Somehow I was expecting more.

Lyn: The ending was rushed. I thought that the final battle with the Witch of the Waste was very anti-climatic.

Calcifer just MAKES the book. I would love to see some more in this universe in his POV.

Kara: YES. It was rushed. I expected this major blowout and I just was left feeling underwhelmed. Everything up until that point though, I was pretty much in love with. There were moments when I thought for sure I would be giving it 5 stars. I really do want to see the anime now, although I have a feeling its vision for the book will be very different from how I imagined it to be.

Lyn: The anime and the book are almost two separate beasts. Still a great film, and still a great book. I love how the author connects to other works of literature. She didn’t even put it in to seem hip or educated. It was slipped in at the perfect moments.

Kara: Same. I liked it a lot for many reasons, that being just one of them. I love how quirky and detailed it was. I loved the scarecrow and it freaked me out! I loved how Sophie brought life to everything she touched. I loved the scene where she accidentally enlarged Howl’s suit. I also love how the author didn’t need to explain everything for the reader and she left it up to us to figure lots of stuff out. It was important to pay attention to details in this one, and as this is a middle grade book, I think it’s really awesome that she had that much faith in her children readers. It’s rare.

Lyn: The scarecrow! I thought it was sad how everyone was so scared of him! It made me feel really sad, actually. It was touching that she gave Sophie her own talents, and never seemed to draw too much attention. I also liked when it was revealed that she, too, fell for the charmed suit, and the entire clothing element really made it seem so charming.

That is why this book is getting high marks. It is refreshing to see an author take some real chances and challenge the reader, even though it is aimed at such a young audience. This has more wit in the first chapter than I have seen in some other literature.

Kara: Yeah, I know what you mean about the scarecrow but he freaked me out at first. It was the idea of him chasing after the castle over all the hills and I was having flashbacks to nightmares or something. GAH. Which, by the way, I luuurvveedd the castle and its construction and how the door worked. It was so well thought out and imaginative. I hope that much detail is given to the anime.

And totally agree with you there. I did feel the book challenged me as a reader, and I am an adult. I sort of feel like I could have read it twice because I feel like there were a lot of details I might have missed on the first go-round.

Lyn: This is going to have to be a reread. There was a lot happening. This wasn’t meant to be a one hit reader.

The castle was darling, and I like that each castle was connected to a fire demon.

The entire story with the sisters made me smile on the inside.

Kara: Yeah, I pretty much loved Calcifer. I was always on the fence about Howl. There were times when I really liked him, and others when his vainness got on my nerves. I loved the dog as well, obviously. I am always going to love the dog. Haha. So was there anything besides the abruptness of the ending that you did not like?

Lyn: I think that is it. I loved the pacing, I loved the characters, I loved the threads of each side story, and how they came together. I rated it 4 stars only because I was a little let down over the ending.

You?

Kara: I am with you. That’s entirely the reason for the 4 star rating. If a book doesn’t come together perfectly for me at the end, it’s hard for me not to deduct an entire star. That is a MAJOR oversight on the author’s part. But honestly, that was the only thing I can nitpick about. I wish every middle grade book was as inventive and creative as this one. I felt like I was reading Frances Hardinge for a while there.

Lyn: Ah! You have a good point! Now that you pointed it out, I do get the same vibes that I felt for A Face Like Glass.

Kara: Yes! So did I! So now I need to read more of her less famous books because I was impressed. Maybe we could pick another at some other point.

So uhhh for our next book, we will be doing And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. It’s also known as Ten Little Indians. It’s one of my favorites and it’s time for a reread. Also, we are reading it to prepare for reading Ten by Gretchen McNeil. At some point. Bekka will be joining us on the next one. Excitement!

Lyn: I’m really excited about our next novel!

Kara: Me too. I already know how it ends, which sucks, but I am interested to see how you guys feel about it, and I am also interested to read it from the perspective that I am so I can look out for clues.

Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2014/01/forgotten-fridays-howls-moving-castle.html

Book Review of Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened - Allie Brosh
 I think this book was going to receive a high rating from the start. I try to keep my expectations in a normal range, but Allie from Hyperbole and a Half has never failed to dazzle me. I've waited for this book like a kid waits for Christmas.  I worried myself silly when Allie disappeared and the news of her book slipped away. I got the notion that Allie was in a very bad place. When this book finally hit the shelves, I was overjoyed and relieved.
 
This is going to sound very corny, but I feel a deep connection to the author and her comics. I am glad to know that someone came from a totally dysfunctional family and lived to tell the tale. I wish I had her gift with words, and her comics just amaze me. Her depression comic is nothing less than brilliant and painful, and the gratitude I felt for her writing an amazing and very realistic comic about the struggle against depression is out of this world. 
 
Allie's book is a wonderful compilation of old material and new stories. I love her art work and the drawings of Simple dog drew me in right away when I stumbled over her website. I'm not sure if I can put this into the proper wording, but I love to see the talent under the "crappy-style." It might look like an elementary Microsoft paint job, but when you study the art, it is nothing less than impressive to notice the small and wonderful details. The stories and the writer's tone of voice combines brilliantly. The age of the web comic is far from dead, and Brosh's own personal touch is a welcome addition. 
 
On a deeper level, I appreciate that this web comic comes from a female. I don't want to come across as a man-hating ice devil, however, it becomes slightly depressing to see that most graphic art and blogs are a male-dominated field. I stopped reading published comics, such as DC, when I got the notion that a female demographic was not welcome in the field. I love The Oatmeal and sometimes I get a kick out of Penny Arcade, but I sometimes miss that connection. I'm also not the most feminine thing on the face of the Earth, but I do have a large quantity of female traits.  I found the happy medium when I discovered Allie's own website.  She was a girl who dared to be funny and honest in a place where most females are treated like an unfortunate side effect.
 
If you are a fan of Hyperbole and a Half, then you need this book.  The additional material is wonderful.  The art is great, and the first story about time traveling will soon become a classic.  If you never heard of the website, or if you are a sad person who does not read the blog, then this is a great starting place. 
Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2013/12/book-review-of-hyperbole-and-half.html

Just way too cute not to share.

Leafmarks and Me

Here I am!!

 

https://www.leafmarks.com/lm/#/users/10341/profile

 

 

 

 

Out with the old, in with the new. May this new year bring us kindness and compassion, and a better outlook and new opportunities.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

[Book Review] Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (FF Format)

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void - Mary Roach

Lyn: I broke my sister’s heart when I told her I was not crazy about the book. I find the subject very interesting, but the writing was just very lacking. What turned you off of the book?

Kara: It was just dry to me. I already have issues with non-fiction books due to my shitty attention span. If the topic is not interesting to me, I am going to have issues. There were some moments that I enjoyed reading about at the time, but honestly, don’t even ask me to remember a specific detail because I have brain dumped it all already. I do think her other book might be more my speed because I love forensics.

Lyn: I was not wild about the writing style. It felt like the author thought she was a lot funnier than she really is. I also found the writing sort of choppy and mangled. Some of the parts were interesting, but then I hit another wall and I lost interest again. I do like the points the book brought up, such as astronauts losing bone density in space and how people in space use the toilet. That whole chapter is worth reading.

Kara: Yeah, I missed that chapter because I DNFed it at page 144. I remember a mention about using a tube but if there was more detail than that, I didn’t catch it. I hear you on the writing style. I did find it to be trying too hard in a lot of places. I expected this book to have a lot more humor than it had. I could only read about 20 pages at a time before I had to put it down. I’m also kind of in a reading slump, and most things I am attempting to read are not impressing me right now. This just made it worse. I had a feeling I was going to have trouble with this book from the very beginning unless it was absolutely amazing. It was not, unfortunately.

Lyn: Was it the subject that bored you? Why did you know you were going to struggle with it?

Kara: Yeah. I just have never been interested in space. I am more interested in the life sciences: Zoology, Biology, etc. I do think certain aspects of cosmology are interesting but it is not my favorite topic. Also, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to go up in a tiny little rocket and risk their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that they do or we would be completely clueless about the universe, but still. I have a tough time relating to the topic, I think.

Lyn: I never considered that you were not into space. It makes sense now that I think back on your lack of love for Star Trek and such. I can’t believe you don’t want to go live on Mars. No one is there, you know. Sounds awesome to me.

Kara: YES. I never made that connection either. I just suck at math too and I had trouble with Astronomy in college even though it was basically an easy course. It’s just never came easy to me. LOL but there are no trees and water on Mars. No beaches. No animals. Part of being alone and away from people for me is getting lost in the forest with the birds and the rain and the greenery around you. Mars does not have that. Put me in the jungle. :D

Lyn: Weirdo. So, can you point out anything positive about this book? Do you remember any single fact?

Kara: Uhhhh...Sort of. I liked the experiment in the beginning that took place in Japan, was it? I liked learning about how being locked up with people for long periods of time can get to anyone and make them do some really bizarre, and even dangerous, things. I know that I would NEVER make it as an astronaut even if I wanted to because I cannot be around most people for more than a few hours before I start to get cranky. Can you imagine three months? Or on a space station? That’s the part I think I enjoyed most. The rest of it I’ve kind of already forgotten. How about you?

Lyn: I think it is crazy that one of the issues that comes up when we look at going to Mars is that people can’t stand one another. It is really weird. If we have the technology, it still doesn’t matter because people want to kill one another when faced with no personal space.

My favorite was the bathroom issue. I know you never reached it, but the author pointed out that astronauts have to poop into a hole that is 4 inches across. They have a potty that is rigged with a camera so that they can “potty train”. The book did make me realize what we take for granted on Earth. I also found it fascinating that gravity plays a big role in reproduction. I never really thought about it.

Kara: I must have missed the reproduction part too. Pooping in a hole that is 4 inches across? Yeah, I definitely can’t go into space. ROFL. Also, I think I would definitely end up killing someone. I also when they discussed how much sex is an issue after such a long period of time with the tension relieving and how they were considering sending a bunch of couples up there, but then decided they couldn’t because they would save each other and not put the mission first. These are things I never thought about. So you know, I did learn something. I begrudgingly admit that. ;)

Lyn: YAH! THE MORE YOU KNOW. 

photo the-more-you-know-o_zps8dd6cbdc.gif



So, in the end, I would give the book 2 stars because there were parts I did like, but I think I’m going to skip out on the rest of the series by this author. Her writing really annoys the hell out of me.

Kara: Yeah, I know I DNFed but I feel like I read enough to rate it, and I am also awarding it 2 stars. I think at some point I might try to read her book on death, but I will definitely wait a while. Non-fiction books are iffy for me. Oh, and we are reading Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld next. Hopefully this will be a hit for both of us! 

Lyn: I think we should see who averages better on picks in a year. So far, I am L-O-S-I-N-G.

I also started reading Leviathan today on the Kindle (on sale, 1.99, folks!!)

Kara: I haven’t started yet. Any initial thoughts? I can’t wait though. I’ve heard so many good things. And yes, I am totally with you on keeping track of our averages. I’ve only done one book so far but I am kicking your A-S-S, W-I-E-N-E-R. Hahaha.

Lyn: Whatever. You cheated. You had a reread. 

Kara: But I didn’t know YOU would like it. :D My rating doesn’t count. Only yours does.

Lyn: I’m going to rate all of your picks 1 star. :P

Kara: I noticed you dodged the question about how you were liking the book so far. ;)




Lyn: Here is my answer:

>:(

Kara: Hahahaha! I am dying. DYING. Love you, mama! 

Lyn: Aw, I love you, too.

Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2013/12/forgotten-fridays-packing-for-mars-by.html

Odin: The Reason for the Season

Guess what is on the way!!!


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The 90s! Christmas!


Guess who contributed to Christmas!
 
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Source: NY Times
 
Hell! Yeah! Vikings!


Today, this Norse Nerd will indulge our readers to learn about the Norse influences on the most popular holiday to ever grace a present day calendar! Let's look at some wonderful pagan treats to help us celebrate the season!

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Source: Timesunion


1. Yuletide

Yuletide Carols? Yule is the fancy Scandinavian way of saying Midwinter Celebration. Christians needed to convert the heathens to Christianity, so they kidnapped the midwinter feast and gave it a shiny new Jesus-friendly coating. Yule logs came from Norse traditions as well.



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2.  Mistletoe

The mistletoe dart was the weapon of choice when Loki slayed Baldur through poor Hod's sightless hap. There are many different interpretations on the plant's role.  Some say that mistletoe was used to poison human sacrifices. Some say that Frigga used the berries to return Baldur back to life.  However, this interpretation clashes with the well known fact that Baldur stayed dead, and his death was one of the triggers for Ragnarok.  Some claim that the pagan Vikings believed that the berries would resurrect the dead. More than likely, couples kiss under the mistletoe to remember the fair fallen god of Norse mythology.


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3. Christmas Tree

Like many Christmas-related items, the Norse can take only partial credit for the Christmas tree.  The Yule Tree invited helpful spirits to bless the homes and the people during the cold winter months. The Yule tree was decked with food, clothing, and god figurines to entice the spirits to return during the spring. Some authors claim that the Yule tree pays homage to Odin and his self-sacrifice on the World tree. One site claims that Christmas wreaths started as Norse Sunwheels, which were set on fire and rolled down a hill to invite the sun back during the long, cold Scandinavian winters. However, some sites claim that a sunwheel was a midsummerritual, and not a midwinter ritual. However, the thought of Vikings setting fire to a wagon wheel and siccing it on some poor sap is welcomed any time of year.


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Source: Wikipedia


4. Santa


Santa and Odin (Woden for Germanic) could be mistaken for brothers. Or the same person. Santa gained his long, white beard from Odin's influence. Odin left gifts for children under the evergreen Yule trees or in boots. Good old warmongering Odin! It was claimed that Odin led hunts in the dismal northern skies, much like Santa and his sleigh. What about Santa's eight tiny reindeer? Odin possessed a horse named Sleipnir (the very one birthed from Loki). To scrub away the filthy Viking influence, one horse became a team of eight. The similarities between the horse and Santa's team is enough to give the horse the birthright to the legend.

 

What have we learned?

When you see those faithful words "The reason for the season," smile and think of this:

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Source: Hungree



You're welcome.

Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2013/12/imaginative-discussions-odin-reason-for.html

Book Review of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor

 I was a bit late for the Daughter of Smoke and Bone sequel - I felt a bit "meh" for the first one in the series. Sad to say, I also tried to pick this up twice before it actually caught my attention. Laini's book are an experience; you have to be in the right mood for her work.

This was the last of my Halloween reads, so it was easier to slip back into this landscape during October. I cannot even express how overjoyed I am that I gave this story another chance.

My issues with Daughter of Smoke and Bone all but dissolved in this exciting sequel. The story turn the focus away from the romance and back on the character and their struggle. 

I fell in love how both sides of the romance, Akiva and Karou, developed in each of their storylines. In the last book, I never really grew fond of Akiva, but by the end of the DoSaB, I found myself rooting for him. The audience finally can see how his mind works, and understand what is happening in his head and in his heart. I have to say that Akiva stole the show, and the novel developed for the better.  Akiva and his sibling relationship with Liraz and Hazael steered him away from the "boyfriend fodder" trap and let his true personality rush to the surface and away from all of the muddled mess from the last book.  The course of his actions and his destiny set the stage for quite a few wonderful scenes of the philosophy established from the previous book: mercy, peace, and love. It is always a breath of fresh air to read about family ties and relationships as well as budding romance. I've mentioned over and over in previous reviews that other forms of love tend to take a back seat to romance in most YA books. It is an annoying trend, in my opinion. There is an obligatory standard set by the target audience, however, not all love comes solely from romantic partners. I will always welcome a story that wishes to delve into the many forms of bonds and love in the life of a character.

Karou also had many opportunities to shine in this novel, and overall, developed into a complex and multidimensional main character. In the previous installment, Karou came across as spoiled, shallow and a bit self centered. She was eccentric, but her lack of responsibility and emotional range did nothing to provoke warm feelings towards her as a person.  In the second book, her whole persona is stripped clean, and a stronger, enriched girl steps out and takes charge of the course of her future.  Turning Karou into a raw, battered main character who battled against her own mind and her own people was a bold step. It paid off in favor of the story.

The mythology of the angel and chimera war starts to take center stage.  Previously, it was touched upon in the last section of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The book begins to venture into the world that was simply hinted at previously.  Instead of simply accepting at face value which side to sympathize for, Taylor now puts her readers right into the heart of her other world.  Often brutal and horrifying, Days of Blood and Starlight pits morality against reason, right versus wrong, and hope against the worst odds.  The story starts to lean towards tragedy, and the climatic event for both sides will rip the heart right out of the reader. This book is going to expose some raw feelings and new respect for the two sides of the ethnic war raging inside the series.

There was very little I disliked about the book.  Zuzana is, sadly, still annoying and still seems to come off as arrogant and needy. I really wish I could bond with this character, but everything about her causes me to roll my eyes when I am forced to read about her.

Overall, this is a solid follow up to the first story. It is rare to see a sequel surpass the first book in the series, but Days of Blood and Starlight fairly won the right to become the strongest book (so far).

Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2013/11/book-review-of-days-of-blood-and.html
SPOILER ALERT!

Book Review of Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams [Forgotten Fridays Format}

Miles from Ordinary - Carol Lynch Williams
Lyn: I like how the same lines were repeated over and over. You know, in case I had short term memory loss. And it was great how the author jumped right in and gave us the unattainable yet now readily available cute love interest - no need to waste time with building tension or a relationship!


Kara: LOL! I know. This was one of those books that to me had no depth or feeling in the prose, and yet it should have. I should have felt something. Heck, I should have been destroyed and I didn’t give a shit. That was the worst part of it. I thought the writing wasn’t so bad (poetic, even) but it was flat and did NOTHING for me. So in that sense, I agree with you. I think because the author neglected to build characters or a relationship...well that’s why it was so dull to read.

Lyn: The writing was okay. It wasn’t bland, but I did not enjoy the story telling at all.  I really wanted to like this.  The story seemed unreal as well.  This story should have taken place over some time, but cramming it all into one day made me feel that the story was running to the finish line to win some sort of medal.

Kara: Agreed. I thought it was very ODD how it only took place in a day. That’s not something that I would usually notice (because when you are wrapped up in a story, who does?), but I did notice--quite often, in fact--which just shows me that there was another thing amateurish about this book. I got yanked out of the story multiple times because I was either rolling my eyes or being bored to almost tears.

Lyn: I skimmed the last 40 pages. I was just done. I kept thinking, halfway through the book, “Where the hell is this going? There is still another 100 pages, is this part of a series?” I also found the entire aunt part unbelievable. There was enough besides “depression” to have the daughter taken away.
Yeah, I never really stepped inside, I was just excited to see the page numbers get bigger and bigger.

Kara: Yeah, I definitely think there was a lot more than just depression going on there. I’ve battled depression, and I still have bouts of depression from time to time. First of all, we have the Multiple Personality Disorder, but I also think there was some Schizophrenia. I’m not a doctor, but I wish we had really found out what the deal was there. Also, can we talk about the bird? Please? I know it’s a spoiler but it has to be mentioned.

Lyn: I’m thinking Schizophrenia as well - voices indicate something more. I was appalled that everyone just kept thinking, “Oh well, she’s just Angela. She won’t take her medication.” Did no one think to involve the police? Aunt Linda couldn’t get the girl when there was a history of mental illness? Lazy.

The bird just pisses me off. That was cruel. That was so mean and I started crying when I read it, because it was like “oh, poor bird.” IT FREAKING STARVED TO DEATH. THAT IS MESSED UP AND HORRIBLE.

Kara: Agreed. I thought it was lazy writing for her aunt just to leave and give up. I mean, if you really cared you would not do that. And then in the end, she comes running in like gangbusters to save the day, and I just found it so utterly unbelievable.

The bird was something else entirely. I honestly missed the part where it was bird napped from the library, so I just thought it died in there after the aunt left and moved away. Either way, it’s gross and messed up. Did the little girl not hear the bird SQUAWKING? Like, wut? It was just so STUPID. I hate to be mean but I have to, in this case. This book made no sense.

Lyn: The mom SCRATCHED OFF HER OWN FACE. I would never, NEVER leave a CHILD in the care of someone who scratched the freaking skin off her face. I’ll commit kidnapping and take the punishment if that means that I do not leave an underage person in the care of someone who follows the voice of a dead man. She could have burned down the house, for crying out loud! What if Granddaddy said to kill her (I can’t remember her name).

For the bird,  the poor thing starved to death. It would have been making some freaking noise. Starving is brutal and makes living things go mad.  It would have screamed its head off. 

Kara: YES!! YES, YES, YES! I would have gone to JAIL for a family member I cared about just to see that they were cared for. It’s so disgusting that this woman just walked away and left her with this person, who clearly was unable to take care of her! Why did she not call the police? It made absolutely ZERO sense. I agree with you. I would have kidnapped that child before I let that happen.. GRANDADDY did say to kill her! They were about to take each other out in the closet with nooses when Auntie ran in and saved the day. Just nooooooo. What a nightmare of a book.

That bird was the biggest plot hole of ALL.

Lyn: Agreed.  Restraining order? You might as well shoot me, cops, because this woman is messed up.

Oh yeah - Granddaddy did tell her to do it.

I was very very angry with the aunt. What a cop out. “It would be kidnapping.”

Yeah, try to find me, bitch.

The bird was a very huge issue. Parakeets scream, even when fed. I also just...couldn’t stomach it. Seriously, I’m getting upset right now thinking about the slow, sad death of that bird. Animal cruelty is a big issue with me.

Kara: Exactly. She must have not cared very much just to walk away like that.

I’ve owned two parrots so I totally hear you on loud-ass birds. They are not quiet, by any means. And yeah, obviously animal cruelty upsets me but I think at that point I had already tuned everything out and I was just ready to be done with this book. It was so disappointing.

Lyn: I kept waiting for the horrible conclusion of Mr. Dewey. The entire book was highly transparent and I figured that the mom stole the bird. I also figured that the book was going to end in some sort of burst of violence because of the pacing. Even prepared, the whole bird thing was just unneeded and mean.

Kara: Now that we’ve discussed all our gripes, is there anything you DID like?

Lyn: I…...no. I cannot think of anything I liked about the book. I thought I would enjoy the library talk but it seemed flimsy and seemed to be an afterthought.

Kara: Yeah. I agree. I had initially decided to give this book two stars, but after meeting with you and discussing all the issues we had with it, I’ve decided I liked it a lot less than I initially thought I did.

Lyn: I feel bad for giving it one star but....it just didn’t work out for me. There was just too much that rubbed me the wrong way. The constant looped storytelling, the rushed romance, the unanswered questions, the cowardly aunt, the damn bird. Sorry, no.

Kara: I have to agree. The characters were cardboard and completely undeveloped. The plot was repetitive and I was bored to tears, and this was a book that was UNDER 200 PAGES. This should NOT have happened. Definitely a bare bones plot as well. There was just not much there.

Lyn: It felt like pulling teeth. I didn’t want to read it.

I love a mental disorder story and I usually give it the benefit of the doubt, but this one suffered from some sadly seriously issues.

Kara: Well, we are reading Memoirs of a Geisha next, so are you ready for that? :D I can’t wait to re-read it.

Lyn: I actually always wanted to read it. I might Kindle it so that I can read it on the go. Hopefully the next book will go over better.

Kara: I hope so. But even if you don’t like it, I do know that it will raise some important issues we can discuss and debate.

Lyn: I’ll come prepared.

Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2013/11/forgotten-fridays-miles-from-ordinary.html

Book Review of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done - Gabrielle Zevin
Review: Can I admit that this books's cover drew me in?  Actually, I spied the cover for the second book at a used book store and looked for a copy of the first in the series everywhere before I finally gave up and purchased it for the Kindle.
 
So, in a way, I got what I deserved.
 
All These Things I've Done is a mixed bag.  On one had, I loved the story plot and the romance involved in this series. I don't read a lot of mafia stories, but I do love the concept of organized crime.  However, the book tried to do so much, and the logic never really came through for me, and the main character was highly disappointing.
 
Things I Liked
 
I do love mafia fiction.  I tend to enjoy the focus of family in organized crime, and the idea of illegal empires really draws me in.  Anya constantly focuses on the wisdom from her daddy, which touched my heart.  I tend to do the same thing for my own papa ("Papa use to say....") and I can relate to her fixation on the male parent in her life.
 
The romance was very believable and engaging.  I was really worried that this would turn out to be a "girl meets boy by page 5 and the rest is just details."  Anya did meet her love interest early on in the story, and it was the stereotypical "new, mysterious guy," but the author did not let the romance wreck her story. Kudos, Zevin.
 
Family-style loyalty was a strong influence in the book.  Love is great and all, but there are other people in a teen's life that deserves affection and attention. Anya's dedication to the tangled web of family obligations gave the story a much-needed edge.
 
Things I Did Not Like
 
The narration style.  The story was written in first person while attempting to break down the forth wall with the readers.  I do not need the main character to get all chummy with me.  It just rubbed me the wrong way.
 
Creepy attempted rapists get rewarded. That flat out pissed me off.
 
Everything was "poor Anya." Spare me the pity - my eyes were tired from the constant rolling.
 
The book tried to do too many things, and it ended up as a muddled mess.  The storyline was constantly drifting and the focus of the story kept alternating from one chapter to the next.  I like that the author wanted an authentic, realistic plot, but the overall result felt very forced and sloppy.
 
Why in the world is chocolate illegal? I understand why the United States wanted to ban alcohol, but chocolate? Was it the sugar? The caffeine? The flavor? The narrator never gave a clear picture on the evils of chocolate.
 
Slut shaming - no no no.  Be Catholic all you want, but it doesn't make you better than the "slutty girls."
 
Finally, I was overall unimpressed on the inconsistencies of the story telling.  The plot twists were very transparent, and Anya, as a character, was downright bland and sluggish to evolve.  During one part of the book, she comes across a situation in which she describes that she went insane, but the event didn't even seem to phase her in the long run.  That annoyed me to no end and I chopped off a star over that event alone.
 
 
My final thoughts: This wasn't a terrible book, and ended up as a highly entertaining read. Kara is making a case for the second book, and I might end up reading it eventually.  This isn't a bad book, but it wasn't one of my top picks for the year.
 
Gif Reaction (Totally stolen from Debby at Snuggly Oranges)
 
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Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2013/11/book-review-of-all-these-things-ive.html

I Want Back In

After the adjustment period and all of the other things happening, I'm ready to come around and haunt BL again.

 

I'M BACK, YEAH!