» The Giving Tree — Shel Silverstein.

Monday, April 30, 2012
4:46 PM
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The book seems very adorable at first. A tree really loves a little boy and plays with him, gives him anything he needs, and tries to be of service to him throughout his life. It gives him apples, branches, even its trunk until it decreases to nothing but a stump.

The underlying message that I picked up while I read along was what ruined it. The little boy uses the tree constantly for his needs without doing anything in return. He makes the tree happy, but this happiness is always short-lived, because he always leaves again. Branches and apples, tree body parts, is a large price to pay for happiness.

The boy grows up throughout the book, and the tree never ceases to love him. Our protagonist, however, does not return it. He always needs something and expects the tree to aid him one way or another. Until the end, he does nothing for it except play in it, only when he was young.

What a selfish little boy.

 ( I am reading too much into this, aren't I. )

rating: ★★★☆☆ 

sviristelle. 

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» The Lovely Bones — Alice Sebold.


4:13 PM
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I meant to read this because I saw the movie advert, and it looked good. Thus, since I prefer to read books before movies, I picked this up.

Susie Salmon is raped and brutally murdered by a neighbour, her body cut up into pieces, stuffed into a safe, and thrown into a sinkhole. Here we learn the story of her life and her family, and how humans on Earth cope with loss of such a bright young girl.

Susie is an incredibly dull narrator. I could not feel any of her emotion at all, and that caused the novel to have no specific mood or atmosphere. Just monotone paragraphs, one after the other.

The writing style is really something. It appears that Miss Sebold tries to be creative and play around with words, and it is nice that she experiments, but results are quite bizzare at times. We have Susie's mother buttering toast with her tears, which I am not certain how she does. During most long paragraphs of descriptions I zone out, only to realize I read three pages and do not remember anything about them.

It moved along very slowly. The only "action" we get is at the beginning, when the man rapes Susie. That is all. It is upsetting that the author had such an amazing idea, and did not execute it in a fascinating manner. It is only a novel about people, their lives, and pages upon pages of description.

Now, the beginning was interesting, as well as the ending. Some characters were very likeable, however, there were also those that were not. Also, what Susie did at the end disgusted me completely, when she took over Ruth's body. Just no.

Would I recommend this? It really depends if you are willing to read about peoples' lives. The whole topic of overcoming grief is foreign to me, and maybe that is why I just could not find the charm in this novel.

rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

sviristelle. 

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» Lord of the Flies — William Golding.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
4:22 PM
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Another book I took from my reading list and actually finished. I feel so damn accomplished, good Jesus.

The novel accurately covers the brutality of humans when it comes to it, making completely regular, everyday people turning into savages with no basic rules or morals. I applaud Mr. Golding's choice on using children for his novel instead of adults. The fact that such young lives are subjected to the events in the novel makes it stand out even more.

A group of boys is stranded on an island after a plane crashes, and they become trapped there without any grown-ups. At first it seems as though everything will work out. They choose a chief, they set a list of goals to accomplish, and distribute tasks to different people. They also make up a few rules to keep everyone in check. Soon, however, it proves to be of no use as fear and anger takes control and brings out the darker side in the boys.

Some of the descriptions of scenery were long and seemed like a chore to read. However, when it came down to suspense and anticipation, the writer did a fantastic job. The detail, especially the descriptions of children's deaths, were minimalistic, yet still gave an unsettling mental image so you can wrap your mind around it.

Fantastic. I would definitely recommend this.

rating: ★★★★☆ 

sviristelle. 

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» Betrayed — P.C. + Kristin Cast.

Friday, April 20, 2012
5:08 PM
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Sweet Jesus, this was even worse than Marked. Well, serves me right for picking it up because it had a nice cover.

The writing style still seemed horrific to me. It still seems like the authors are trying too hard to sound young, modern, and teenager-like, and it just refuses to work out for them. In the end, it is a mess.

So, in this continuation of House of Night, we are reminded once again what a special brat Zoe Redbird is, and what a joy and blessing it is to have her. The book opens up with a parent visiting night, and her mother and stepfather actually show up, only to embarrass her. The stepfather insults Neferet, apparently, and they just storm out. Later, Zoe overhears Aphrodite's parents chewing her out for losing her powerful leadership spot and force her to try and get rid of Zoe. Now, I felt more sympathy towards Aphrodite than Zoe. Even as a bully, she is more likeable. At least she has a reason to be the way she is.

The whole novel is one huge soap opera where Zoe just cannot choose one guy and keeps flirting with three — Erik, the typically hot, dreamy teenager whom everyone loves; Heath, her former love interest whose blood she keeps wanting; and Loran, an almost-teacher and a vampyre at the school who she thinks is flirting with her. I cannot describe my frustration with the whole thing.

Interestingly enough, the novels still continue to do tons of slut-shaming, going as far as hinting that losing your virginity makes you one. Maybe I am reading too far into it, I am not certain. But I wonder what having three men going after her and her trying to go further with each of them makes her. Hm.

The climax was not even exciting. Actually, it bored me, and I kept counting the pages until the book ended. And the sad thing is, I am probably going to pick up Chosen anyways, because of my OCD-like obsession with finishing every single series I begin. Ah, well.

rating: ★☆☆☆☆ 

sviristelle. 

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» This Book is Not Good for You — Pseudonymous Bosch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
4:22 PM
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Just because I am so incredibly intelligent by grabbing the first book from The Secret Series without checking the title, I ended up reading the third book instead of the second. Thus, some things were spoiled for me, but somehow, I do not even mind. I suppose I wanted to know what happened so much that it was oddly satisfying to find out ahead of time.

This Book is Not Good For You starts out with our main protagonist, Cass, and the revelation that her mother is not her actually Mom, and that she was left on the doorstep of her step-grandfathers' antique shop. Adopted, if you will. That leads us to all sort of trouble, since it was the reason her mother ( or is she her mother? Quite confusing, really ) took a cooking class with Cass to help them bond better. They come across Senor Hugo, a man known for his amazing cooking skills, even though he is blind. When Cass mentions the Tuning Fork ( an item that becomes quite important ) Hugo asks them to come to his fancy restaurant, which is completely dark so your senses sharpen, as he says.

Long story short, Cass's mother is kidnapped, and Cass wants to save her. Much simpler.

This book is all about chocolate. And since I am a huge chocolate lover, I enjoyed this novel, and trust me, it is better to read it while eating chocolate yourself. The copy I read has a few chocolate stains to prove it. The Appendix was a nice touch on all things chocolate, so I saved a few recipes from there for future reference.

The plot of the novel itself was cool. How the author worked with it was also very nice, and it was definitely an interesting read. Our new character, Simone, was a very charming lass. I would love to see more of her in future books, somehow. Although I have a gut feeling this is the only time we are going to see her.

The only part of the novel that slightly peeved me was Cass. Her whole personality is just, somehow, not the same. And that change is not a great one. I cannot even back myself up here, it is just her overall attitude, and the feeling that tells me, if I met such a girl somewhere on the street I probably would not start a conversation with her. Maybe I am being unfair. Perhaps I am.

I always thought of Pseudonymous Bosch as not just an author, but also a character and part of the story. I feel that his character also grew, and he matured with Cass, Max-Ernest, and Yo-Yoji, if that is even possible. I actually like him better now.

rating: ★★★★☆

sviristelle.

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» Witch Reference Material.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
4:58 PM
[ 0 comments ]

A compiled list of books I want to read for witch research. Just for pleasure.

  • At the Heart of Darkness: Witchcraft, Black Magic, and Satanism Today ; John Parker.
  • Cotton Mather ; Barrett Wendell.
  • Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England ; Elizabeth Reis.
  • The Devil's Disciples: Makers of the Salem Witchcraft Trials ; Peter Charles Hoffer.
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England ; Carol F. Karlsen.
  • Disease and History ; Frederick F. Cartwright, Michael D. Biddiss.
  • Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today ; Margot Adler.
  • Early Modern European Witchcraft ; Bengt Ankarloo, Gustav Henningsen.
  • The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft ; Rosemary Ellen Guiley.
  • The Evil Eye ; Clarence Maloney.
  • Ferocious Irish Women ; Edmund Lenihan.
  • Fireburn: Tales of Witchery ; Ken Radford.
  • A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans ; Jeffrey B. Russell.
  • How About Demons? Posession and Exorcism in the Modern World ; Felicitas D. Goodman.
  • The Inquisition of the Middle Ages ; Henry Charles Lea.
  • Legends of Irish Witches and Fairies ; Patrick Kennedy.
  • Lifetimes of Cotton Mather ; Kenneth Silverman.
  • The Magician, the Witch, and the Law ; Edward Peters.
  • The Night Battles ; Carlo Ginszburg.
  • Occultism: Its Theory and Practice ; Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah.
  • Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions ; Mircea Eliade.
  • Poisons of the Past: Molds, Epidemics, and History ; Mary Kilbourne Matossian.
  • The Powers of Evil in Western Religion, Magic, and Folk Belief ; Richard Cavendish.
  • Remembering Satan ; Lawrence Wright.
  • Riding the Nightmare: Women and Witchcraft from the Old World to Colonial Salem ; Selma R. Williams, Pamela Williams Adelman.
  • The Right to Remain Silent ; Milton Meltzer.
  • Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 ; Bernard Rosenthal.
  • The Salem Witchcraft Papers ; Paul Boyer, Stephen Nissenbaum.
  • Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Myth, and Legend ; Maria Leach.
  • Tituba: Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies ; Elaine G. Breslaw.
  • The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft ; Raymond Buckland.
  • The Truth About Witchcraft Today ; Scott Cunningham.
  • The Witch-Cult in Western Europe ; Margaret A. Murray.
  • Witch-Hunting in the Seventeenth Century New England: A Documentary History, 1638-1692 ; David D. Hall.
  • Witchcraft and Sorcery: Selected Readings ; Max Marwick.
  • Witchcraft at Salem ; Chadwick Hansen.
  • Witchcraft in Europe: A Documentary History 1100-1700 ; Alan C. Kors, Edward Peters.
  • Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts ; Anne Llewellyn Barstow.
  • The Witch in History ; Venetia Newall.
  • Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth ; Garry Wills.
  • Witches and Warlocks: Tales of Black Magic Old and New ; Marvin Kaye.
  • Witches and Witch-hunts ; Milton Meltzer.
  • Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers ; Barbara Ehrenreich, Deirdre English.
  • Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgement: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England ; David D. Hall.

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» Marked — P.C. + Kristin Cast.

Friday, April 13, 2012
5:30 PM
[ 0 comments ]

Oh dear, the writing style of this novel. It made me want to strangle the main character most of the time. She sounded so irritating and annoying that I had to put the book down once in a while and sit in my chair ripping up school worksheets from two years ago to calm down. I honestly cannot remember reading a novel where I disliked the writing style this much.

All right, now that this is out of my system.

We have our lovely protagonist, Zoey Redbird, get marked and she is now a vampyre-in-training. Yet she is blessed by the night Goddess, Nyx, and now she is different from everyone else. She is special. There are great things ahead of her, some of which may include a high position in the school, named The House of Night.

I always feel bad whenever my friends love a novel and I end up disliking it. So I seriously tried to enjoy this one. And yet, no such luck. I have a vague feeling that the Casts attempted too hard to sound like a teenager. The result is a main character that sounds really cliche at times, and whose opinions come off as just offensive. The People of Faith comments can be taken as an offense to Christianity. The eating disorder comment leads to believing that a young lady with a life-threatening eating disorder is a freak. Things like that.

I do like the new and quite refreshing plot of having vampyres a sort of mutation, where not everyone makes the Change and they need to go to a special school in order to survive. It is a very interesting concept, and I do wish that this series will get better just for that. I do not even mind the cliche romance stuck in the middle, just the concept itself is something I would continue reading for, and keep tolerating Zoe until she dies at some point. ( Or at least I am hoping. )

rating: ★★☆☆☆

sviristelle.

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» Reading List №01.


4:23 PM
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The first reading list I am going to try and complete. ( Which can also be found here. ) I am not going to set a time limit for now, I will just move along at my own pace. I really need to get myself on track here, and maybe this will make me organized. Maybe. Very unlikely.
  1. Felidae by Akif Pirinçci
  2. Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams.
  3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
  4. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
  5. Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks.
  6. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr.
  7. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.
  8. The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  9. Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher.
  10. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
  11. The Captain's Daughter by Alexander Pushkin.
  12. If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan.
  13. Betrayed by P.C. + Kristin Cast. 
  14. If You're Reading This, It's Too Late by Pseudonymous Bosch.
  15. School's Out — Forever by James Patterson.
  16. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepertys.
  17. Slaughterhouse—Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
  18. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.
  19. Несколько Печальных Дней by Vasily Grossman.
  20. Мастер и Маргарита by Mikhail Bulgakov.
  21. Ring by Koji Suzuki.
  22. Обыкновенное Чудо by Evgeny Shvarts.
  23. Горячий Снег by Yuri Bondarev.
  24. The Future of Us by Jay Asher.
  25. Сто Лет Тому Вперёд by Kir Bulychev.
  26. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
  27. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  28. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha Christie.
  29. 1984 by George Orwell.
  30. Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

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» The Last Hope — Erin Hunter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
4:23 PM
[ 0 comments ]

Man, this series was my childhood in a nutshell. My obsession with this series would border ridiculous at some points in time. My happiness was overwhelming when I saw a novel of this series at Barnes&Noble, it being the first novel in English I actually read. Those were the days . . .

Now, this is the last novel in the fourth series The Omen of the Stars. It is the grande finale, where the Dark Forest rises to its full power and the true battle begins. Where warriors' loyalties are constantly tested and sides must be chosen. Clanmates might have to fight among each other in the final battle to survive.

I truly enjoyed this conclusion to the series. It was powerful and left a lasting impression on me. Most of the time I truly despise how series end, and how authors do not seem to know how to wrap up their final novel. The Erins, on the other hand, are above that. They make use of this opportunity to create a truly memorable ending.

The Final Battle between the Clans and the Dark Forest is as exciting as I believe it is meant to be. You feel the characters' fear, pain, shock, even the adrenaline as they fight for their lives. Just like Harry Potter, the Warriors series became darker and darker as it went along, and it ended up adding charm to the final novel.

I believe the Erins did a splendid job with this one. I was truly wary of picking it up, because conclusions to series, as I mentioned, are usually disappointing. Here, the authors built up a truly powerful conclusion that keeps the reader guessing whether it will continue or not.

rating: ★★★★★

sviristelle.

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» Battle Royale — Koushun Takami.


12:07 PM
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I had to "sleep on" this book and get my thoughts together so my review did not become a jumble of squeeing and every positive word imaginable. ( I had a very engaging dream of chasing a tractor with a pistol, but that is besides the point. )

We have forty-two junior high students who are in the same class whisked away to a deserted island on a fight to the death. Each student has a collar around their neck, and they each get a backpack with a weapon, which does not always have to be useful. ( damn Yutaka, a fork. ) Announcements are made on the island every six hours, announcing the dead and the zones on the island that will become forbidden. If you walk into a forbidden zone, the collar blows your head off. The Program continues until only one student is left.

Quite simple, really.

I absolutely loved Battle Royale. The fact that the players are classmates, some knowing each other their whole lives, only added to it. The characters were all different and unique, and somehow it was simple to keep track of them all. You really feel the emotion of each student, and the battle scenes are very realistic.

The violence is graphic, but it adds to the novel. It makes a point. In most books I read, it is usually meant to entertain, while here it really reached out and grabbed you. It makes you realize how hopeless and awful the situation of the students' is. How easily some people can play the game and how fast lives can end. About ten people are dead already in a couple of chapters.

I do believe Suzanne Collins heard of this book and used it as a basis for The Hunger Games. There are just too many similarities, yet the stories are different. I actually prefer Battle Royale. The characters have more depth, there is more to the plot, and all of them are regular kids with some never even holding a weapon in their hands before. As I mentioned before, in this novel, the violence makes more of a point.

The ending was completely brilliant. I absolutely loved it. It was completely unexpected, and very well executed.

I would not recommend this novel to anyone with a weak stomach. For example, if you found The Hunger Games disturbing, the violence in this would probably distract you from the whole book and just make you nauseous.

rating: ★★★★★

sviristelle.

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» The Angel Experiment — James Patterson.

Monday, April 9, 2012
4:05 PM
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Yet another novel that I possibly expected too much of, and that became the reason why I gave it a lower rating than I would normally have. The graphic novel version was very good, and I read that first.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment introduces us to our cast of characters. Max and her whole flock of kids with wings are results of horrible experiments taking place in at The School, which is basically a laboratory for evil scientists. They take regular people, usually very young children, and inject animal DNA into them. Thus, I expected a chilling science fiction that focused on its horrors.

It only focuses on the School a few times. Max only ever says that it is an awful place, but we only get a glimpse of it when Angel is captured and forced back. Yet even then I did not feel angry with it, or scared of it, or anything. I felt nothing. They did not describe it enough for me to agree with the characters.

The writing style was what bothered me most. It was a bit too young for me, first of all. Second, it caused me not to take Max seriously, at all. At any point in the story. I am curious enough to read the second book, yet it is not a masterpiece.

rating: ★★★☆☆

sviristelle.

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» Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Roald Dahl.


3:50 PM
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Little Charlie Bucket is lucky enough to find a golden ticket which gives him and one of his grandfathers a chance to visit the famous chocolate factory owned by Mr. Willy Wonka. By the author who also wrote James and the Giant Peach, it only proves that Roald Dahl has a major food fetish. Well, all right then.

The whole story is quite entertaining. We follow Charlie as he and the four other lucky ticket finders are given a tour around the factory by Mr. Wonka himself, along with their guardians. ( Every child apparently brought both of their parents while Charlie only brought his grandpa. )

I like the fact that the novel has the underlying lesson of not being selfish, spoiled, and a brat. However some moments are just plain bizzare. For example, the songs the little Oompa-Loompas sing once in a while are a little absurd to me. Yet nevertheless, it adds to the novel. So that is okay.

rating: ★★★★☆

sviristelle.

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» The Name of this Book is Secret — Pseudonymous Bosch.


1:53 PM
[ 0 comments ]

The novel is written by an author who probably has the best pseudoname ever. Just wanted to put that out there.

The author tells us that the novel holds an enormous secret which he cannot keep, and thus is writing about it. The names of our protagonists, Cass and Max-Ernest, are not their real names but aliases so the readers cannot figure out their true identities. Yet the author still manages to describe them so they seem real, without giving away their appearances.

The plot itself was fairly exciting and at least seemed to be well thought out. The concept of synesthesia is very fascinating and something I cannot remember being explored in any other book I read. Here it is taken to the extremes, making it revolve around important plot points instead of being a book about a kid overcoming it.

The footnotes were either informative, entertaining, or a mixture of both. Even if they did not pertain to the whole story and went off topic.

rating: ★★★★★

sviristelle.

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» Diary of a Young Girl — Anne Frank.


12:00 PM
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I lost count of how many times this book was recommended to me. A lot of people praised Anne Frank's work as being an interesting historical account that accurately describes how Jews lived during the Holocaust, providing an insight on the conditions in a cramped Secret Annexe instead of a concentration camp or the streets, for example.

I had high expectations for this novel, and I was somewhat disappointed. Just as the title suggests, it is a diary of a teenage girl complete with mood swings and rants about things that I quickly lost interest in. I have a feeling that this was not meant to be read; it is a private diary, after all.

One of the things I actually enjoyed was the writing style itself. The way she structures her sentences, the words she uses, her descriptions are just fabulous. It was enjoyable, it had me hooked and forced me to keep reading. I really like it, and it upsets me that Anne never got the chance to become something bigger, because she absolutely would have — a journalist, a writer. Hell, she writes better than some of the bestselling authors today.

This diary is not about the Jews, or the Holocaust, or war. It is about a girl who liked to write, a very real person who used to live, breathe, do the same things we did. She was a talented author, but her diary is still a diary. Actually, she was better off than most people that were persecuted for being who they were. There are better first-hand accounts of the Holocaust out there. However, this is still a decent read. 

rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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Introductory.


11:00 AM
[ 0 comments ]

Hello.

I like food, drawing, and reading books.

I am still learning to review books. Please bear with me.


sviristelle.

Labels: