what i read : march 2012

April 16, 2012

Click the titles below to see my review on Goodreads.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

It’s about: The story is set in the same realm as Graceling, yet it is in a separate kingdom and takes place beforehand. There is only one overlapping character and he is minor in this book. In this story “monsters” are animals or people who have a wildly attractive appearance, and in the case of humans, have a talent for mind reading. Fire is the last human monster, but she tries not to abuse her power. But as civil war seems imminent she is drawn into using it to uncover a plot against the king. There are secrets. And romance. And action, and stuff.

I thought: It was another unique concept from Cashore, loved how the the mind reading was handled, and although it was a slow start it was interesting enough to keep my attention. But again, there is so much stuff in it that I don’t find appropriate for young adults. Casual sex, adultery & teen pregnancy that isn’t portrayed in a bad light, hints at rape and incest even. There were even some infertility-type themes that I liked, but I don’t see how the intended audience (young adults) could appreciate them.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

It’s about: Eliza is just your average little girl in a gifted family, or so everyone (including her) thinks until she makes it to the national spelling bee. At this point her father Saul

I thought: This book is soooo much different than I expected. I thought it would be a heartwarming coming-of-age tale having to do with the spelling bee. Instead I got some weird mystical, schizophrenic stuff. It was the opposite of heartwarming, I was weirded out the entire time, and every time I picked it up I felt like I was stepping into a dirty, cluttered house.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

It’s about: Orphans or unwanted children are trained as apprentices to magicians and they learn magic like a trade. Magicians have no power in themselves but they derive it from learning how to control demons from the “other place.” Nathaniel is a precocious apprentice to an ignorant master. After he is publicly humiliated by another magician, Simon Lovelace, he makes it his mission to avenge himself. He summons the demon Bartimaeus to steal a powerful amulet from Lovelace, unknowingly getting the two of them involved in a dark scheme.

I thought: There is no clear “good guy” in this book: Simon Lovelace is obviously slimy and bad, Nathaniel is pitiful and you want him to turn out good but he’s also arrogant and ambitious, and Bartimaeus is, of course, a demon: completely selfish, but also awesome. His chapters are incredibly interesting, funny, and amusing. He is the reason for the success of the story. Nothing very deep going on here (at all), just a lot of fun.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Professor by Charlotte Brontë

It’s about: This is the story of a regular guy. Really, that’s it. Think there must be more to it? Well, this regular guy (Crimsworth is his name) breaks from his rich uncles, tries to get a job for his snobby brother in trade, is treated badly, moves to Brussels, starts working as a professor, and eventually falls in love. So, not much more.

I thought: It’s really quite boring. I finished it because it’s short and I still have an appreciation for Bronte’s writing style. But the whole time I just couldn’t make myself care about this guy. I think he’s the author’s ideal of a man or something (hardworking, honorable, Protestant) but he was kind of arrogant. Thank goodness for the character of Hunsden, Crimsworth’s friend, who was at least interesting.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

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