Reading Quest Update Week #1

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Day 1:

Nicole: I decided to start by reading Reckless by Cornelia Funke. All I knew was it involved fairies in some way so I thought it’d be a good book for researching a little for the book I’m writing with Isis. I got to 70 pages.

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Isis: I had a busy day Sunday, so I didn’t read anything.

Day 2: 

Nicole: I continued the read Reckless, and read 69 pages.

Isis: Didn’t read on Monday either. Go me!

Day 3:

Nicole: I was deep in the book, and decided to devote more time for reading. I ended up read the last 255 pages to finish the book. I also wrote a review for it already. You can read it here. This completed the read a book set in a different world challenge.

Isis: I started by reading Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo and read two whole chapters. I read up to page 28, and let me tell you, I was tired from all my hard reading.

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Day 4:

Nicole: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco was my next pick. I had a busy day, and unfortunately only managed to read 12 pages.

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Isis: I went to the doctor this day, and couldn’t even get out of bed most of the day. I read a few more pages until I made it to page 32 of Fat Angie.

Day 5: 

Nicole: I had appointments again, but I arrived early and read 40 more pages. 

Isis: I don’t think I read on Thursday at all.

Day 6:

Nicole: I think I read another 10 pages, but I had enough time to read more. I just choose to do other things.

Isis: I read up to page 40 of Fat Angie on Friday. I’m an excellent reader.

Day 7: 

Nicole: I didn’t read anything. I’m struggling with The Bone Witch, and it really sucks. I’ve been so interested in it for so long, but it’s a slower paced fantasy. In general, I struggle with those more. I’m thinking of setting it aside, and picking up another book but I’m not sure. It makes me feel guilty.

Isis: On Saturday, I made it to page 66 of Fat Angie. I decided this book relied too much on bullying and too little on the f/f romance, which is what I was interested in. So I thought I should read the beginning of all of my books to try them out. So, I read up to page 16 in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, which was very intriguing. I’m enjoying the narrator, and I want to get back to it soon. I read up to page 28 in After the Quake by Haruki Murakami. This is a collection of short stories, so I read the first one, and started the second one. It was really good. Then I read up to page 18 in A Monster Calls. It’s already feeling quite sad, so I feel like I’ll need to take it easy with that one. And finally, I read up to page 6 of A Kiss in Time, which was only the first chapter. This one was just okay, it’s your typical Sleeping Beauty retelling. Nothing special so far.

 

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

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The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. The ticking of a clock. The groan of a floorboard as he slipped out of his room. All was drowned by its silence. But Jacob loved the night. He felt it on his skin like a promise. Like a cloak woven from freedom and danger.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke is the first in a series of five books. Only the first three are out now, and there hasn’t been any information on when the fourth is coming out. It mainly follows Jacob, an expert treasure hunter in this mirrorworld he found when he was young trying to find clues as to why his father had left. He’s kept this magical, dark world a secret for years, but one day his brother finds out and quickly learns how dangerous this world is. Now Jacob has to find a way to save his brother while also keeping his brother’s girlfriend, Clara, safe.

This world is very creative. It has fairies, goyls, dwarves, vixens, and witches. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel all are real people in this world. It’s interesting and complex and surprised me at every turn. It drew me in, and kept me wanting more even as other parts of the book made me question if I was enjoying myself. I did come across this review talking about some the tropes in this book connecting to Jewish stereotypes if you want to take a look at it.    

The action takes off and never really stops. The plot takes you into the deep end without showing the inciting incident which is a little jarring, but now that I’ve finished the book I kind of like that the story didn’t begin a little earlier. I think it might have ruined the flow of the story, and have the beginning be slowed down a lot. With how the world is and even with one the main characters being a fox shape shifter, it was a lot to take in, and I think it would have put me off of the whole book.

Talking about the characters, I’m very undecided about them. It’s mainly why my rating was brought down. Jacob is interesting and complex. Fox was cool but didn’t get as much attention. A side note, both of these characters were abused as children. It’s only mentioned in passing, and not brought up, but I figured I should mention it just in case. Clara and Will, Jacob’s brother, had an emotionally intense time as they navigated this world they both didn’t know about. Jacob and Will had a very interesting and strained relationship. The other characters equally had good motives. The problem with them all was that the emotion wasn’t there. I couldn’t feel the character’s pain, and trust me there was a lot of it, and I honestly wasn’t as connected as I want to be to them. If their life is in danger, I want to be on the edge of my seat, unable to stop reading until I know they were safe, not be fine with stopping to make Alfredo.  

The writing I really liked. I don’t know if it is because this book is translated from German, or if its just how Funke writes, but I felt it was unique. Almost lyrical in some parts, and taking heavily from fairy tales. Even in parts of the story I didn’t like as much, the writing still made it a joy to read.

In the end, I had fun reading this, but I’m still unsure about it. I’ve heard the next book is better in all the things I’ve complained about, but I feel that people say that about all series of books. I do think I will pick up the next book because I do want to know what will happen to Jacob, but I don’t know when that will be.

The Ghost of Fossil Glen by Cynthia C. DeFelice

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For as long as she could remember, she’d been hoping for something really exciting to happen. She’d believed in the unbelievable, expected the unexpected. She’d wanted it to be true that there was more to life than the everyday world people saw. But now that something totally inexplicable seemed to be happening, and happening to her, she felt partly thrilled and partly afraid.

The Ghost of Fossil Glen is a Middle Grade mystery that I had read partially in elementary school and never finished. It’s a story about Allie, an 11-year-old girl with a lot imagination and a love for fossils. She is dealing with her friends calling her a liar, a voice in her head, and her parent’s concern for her.

This was a lot different than I remember. Not necessarily a bad thing but not a good thing either. I remember this being fast paced, terribly scary, and innovative. Now that I’ve read it now I found it to be more than a little cliche and convenient while still being fast paced. By convenient I mean that a lot of the times things happen to Allie. She falls onto a lot of clues accidentally instead of doing anything to move the plot forward. 

The mystery itself is very simple, and very simply solved. I can complain a lot about this book, but in the end I still enjoyed myself. It might be nostalgia talking, but I needed to know what would happen next.

I don’t think this is the best written book, but I do think it’s a lot of fun. I ended up giving it three stars. It’s the first in a series of four books, and I’m not against picking up more in the future.  

The Reading Quest TBR

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Nicole: 

Two weeks ago Booktube-A-Thon ended. It’s the first Read-A-Thon I’d done in a long time, and I had a lot of fun doing it even if I didn’t do a lot of what I set out to do. I came away from it vowing to do another one as soon as I could, and luckily, this one popped up soon after. ReadatMidnight is hosting this really creative video game based challenge. I’ve picked the mage path to do first since I love magic, and I’ve even managed to convince Isis to join in.

A book with a one word title:

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I picked Serpentine by Cindy Pon for this challenge. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, but I’ve never been able to get it before. It’s inspired by Chinese mythology, and is 274 pages long.

A book that contains magic:

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I’ve put this book off for so long that it is ridiculous. It’s about this girl who raises her brother from the dead, and it’s 406 pages.

A book based on mythology:

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I meant to read this during the booktube-a-thon, but it didn’t end up happening. It’s 312 pages.

A book set in a different world:

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This book takes place in a portal world that I think involves fairies. I don’t know much about it to be honest. It’s 394 pages.

The first book in a series:

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I’ve been so nervous to start this book since it’s a bit bigger, but I think it’s time. Set in the 1920s, it involves the occult and serial killers. It’s 578 pages.

All in all that’s 1,964 pages. There’s extra challenges and I could go through the other paths too, but I will be mainly focusing on these five. If I read more that’s cool, but nothing I’m focusing on right now.

Isis:

I chose to play as the Bard just ’cause he’s the cutest. These are the books I chose for each category:

 

A book that has a tv/book adaption:

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (205 pages). I’ve heard a lot about this book, mostly that it’s sad. I’m hoping it’s not too sad though. 

A fairy tale retellings:

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A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (371 pages). I don’t know why I bought this book, but I’m guessing it happened during the time I was obsessed with Beastly by the same author. This is a Sleeping Beauty retelling. 

A book cover with striking typography:

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Fat Angie by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo (263 pages). This one has great typography, the words of the title create the shape of the MC. All I know is that this book is gay, so I’m excited. 

A book translated from another language:

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After the Quake by Haruki Murakami (147 pages). I don’t know what this one’s about but I’ve heard good things about the author. 

A banned book: 

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The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (214 pages). I’ve wanted to read this since I read Perks of Being a Wallflower. I hope I end up loving it. 

In total I’m hoping to read 1,200 pages.

 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

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“Why not just have the kids play one of your other games?” a parent suggested. “Why all this fuss?”

“Because, my dear friends, these twelve children have lived their entire lives without a public library. As a library, they have no idea how extraordinarily useful, helpful, and funful- a word I recently invented- a library can be. This is their chance to discover that a library is more than a collection of dusty old books. It is a place to learn, explore, and grow!

Kyle Keeley loves board games. Mostly the ones from Mr. Lemoncello’s Imagination Factory. So when there is a contest that is happening in Mr. Lemoncello’s name to win a chance to spend the night at the new library, he does everything in his power to be one of the winners. Even if he thinks the library is going to be lame.

The sleepover at the library turns into a lot of mini games. The biggest of all revealed the morning after. The doors are all locked, and they have to find the secret alternative exit. There’s clues and riddles hidden around the library, and the first one to find the exit wins a lot of prizes.

I found this book to have a slow start. My mom had read this book in two days and sang its praises so I expected to fly through it. But in the first 100 or so pages, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book at all. But after those 100 pages is when the actual game started, and I really enjoyed that part of the book.

This book needs a lot of suspension of disbelief to get through it. All of the add ons to the library, holographic librarians, basically a hover board ladder, a tiger, are a lot to take in. But if you can push past that and take the story for what it is, it is very entertaining. 

The riddles and clues in this book are a lot of fun. It’s nice to see Kyle and his friends solve them while learning to love the library. I really loved how at the end Kyle has a list of books he wants to check out when in the beginning of the book he doesn’t think that highly of them.

There isn’t much diversity in this. Mr. Lemoncello himself is a first generation immigrant from Italy, and Kyle’s best friend, Akimi Hughes, is half Asian, half white. If there are others it isn’t explicitly stated. 

I ended up giving this Middle Grade mystery four stars. It’s a fun, light read. There are two other books in this series that I think I will definitely pick up eventually.

 

Saxby Smart, Private Detective #3 by Simon Cheshire and R.W. Alley

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“By the way, speaking if things that aren’t there, when you get back you’ll find that the handprint has vanished.”

“It’s gone? How?”

“Er, okay, see you tomorrow!”

“It’s the ghost! The ghost! It’s real! Oh my–

“Umm, byeeeee!”

This is the third book in the Saxby Smart series so it’s much of the same as the first two. Saxby an elementary school detective who makes case files of his cases, and asks the readers questions along the way. In each book there are three separate cases.

The first story in this book is called The Pirate’s Blood. This one involves a mysterious handprint that may or may not involve the ghost of a pirate. This one is a little different in that Saxby isn’t right all the time. I really enjoyed that because I feel it makes it more realistic. The mystery itself was fun, and I guess it right which is cool.

The second case is called The Mystery of Mary Rogers. It’s a mystery that involves arson and being two places at once. This one has a more serious vibe to it. Saxby describes it as the most cruelest case he has worked on. While my first guess, before any clues were revealed, was the right one, I still enjoyed reading it.

The third and final case is called The Lunchbox of Notre Dame. This one takes place on a school trip to Paris. It begins with a stolen memory card. This one was slower in the start, and, for me, was harder to follow along. As a result, I didn’t have as much fun while reading it, but the ending was really satisfying.  

Overall, I enjoyed reading this a lot. It’s a five star book. It might be my favorite so far of the series that I have read. I’m not sure if I will continue the rest of this series. While I have fun with these, I feel like at book four, five, six, it’ll get boring and repetitive, and I don’t want my opinion of these books to go down.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

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“That’s the way it was when you loved someone. You took them everywhere you went — whether they were alive or not.”


Benjamin Alire Saenz is known for writing beautiful novels. Most people know him only for his masterpiece (and my personal favorite) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. During the past couple of years, I’ve made it my duty to read most of his books. I’ve read his adult and young adult fiction, poetry collections, short story collections, and children’s books. Each and every story has brought something new and sweet to my life. And The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is no exception.

I struggled with this book. I’m not sure why. I picked it up the day after I graduated from college, hoping that with my suddenly acquired free time, I’d finally get to read it. But then life got in the way, and I fell into a reading slump, and the book was pushed aside, forgotten. Every time I picked it up, I hated it. I hated the writing, the characters, the lack of plot (which is unusual for me), and I doubted my love for Saenz’s writing, after all this time.

But I finished the second half of the book in two days, and I smiled, laughed, and cried a few times. I underlined all my favorite passages and drew hearts on the margins during all the best scenes. I grew to love the wonderful characters, and appreciate the themes and messages so carefully woven into the story. I understood the beauty of it. And it was, as usual, so easy to relate to.

Saenz writes stories with an emotional punch. You never see it coming, but when it comes, it comes hard. That’s how I felt while reading about Salvador, a young Caucasian boy raised by a gay Mexican man. Although Vicente is not Sal’s bio dad, he’s the only father he’s ever known and loved. But Sal knows nothing about his bio dad, and he fears those genes he inherited are changing him. Then there’s Samantha, or Sam, Sal’s best friend, who is practically his sister. She’s strong and stubborn in the best ways. I loved the way she expressed herself and took care of Sal. And of course, there’s Fito, who joins their little group to make it better. Fito is a gay boy who comes from a bad family, who doesn’t have time to worry about trivial things because he’s very set on going to college. I loved him with all of my heart, and I was so glad I got to meet him.

I could sit here and try to explain the story, but that would be pointless. I think all that needs to be said is that this story is about familial love, strong friendships, staying still and moving on. Most of all, it’s about coping with loss, which is never easy. It’s about appreciating the good people around you, and seeing them for who they really are. It’s about life in the border town of El Paso, and what it means to belong, and how you can see the world in a new light every day.

This is why Saenz continues to be one of my favorite authors. He writes stories to remember. And his stories always find their way to my heart.