Monday, December 19, 2011

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is the third in the Caster Chronicles series.  I have an admission to make- I didn't actually finish this one.  Back in September, I reviewed Beautiful Darkness, the second in the series.  As you may remember, I haven't been terribly impressed with this series, but I continued because I felt like I wanted to find out what would happen.  I've said before that I have a difficult time not finishing a book or a series.  Usually this is because I am hoping the book will get better or because I suspect that my opinion of the book is somehow wrong.  With the Caster Chronicles, the online reviews have mostly been very good.  The reviews are the reason I began it in the first place.  I have now come to the conclusion that those reviews simply were not written for me.

One of the things that I have loved about Twilight is that so many people, both young and not so young, have returned to reading.  The YA genre has exploded and for the most part I would say that is a good thing.  More books available means more people are going to be able to find a book they will enjoy.  The downside is that not all of these books are good.  Or perhaps it's just that they aren't for me. 

With Beautiful Chaos, I just couldn't read it.  The plot is so busy, there are so many characters and the writing is so cryptic that the story becomes weighed down.  It isn't that I can't follow a complicated plot line and I enjoy reading well developed characters, but with these books it feels to me as if the writers just kept throwing things in to fill up the story, not to fill it out.  I was less than 100 pages in to this book when I couldn't get beyond the feeling that reading it was a chore.  There are so many good books out there that I can't waste my time on something I'm not really enjoying. 

Am I wrong about these books?  I'm happy to hear other opinions.  Perhaps I missed something. 

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

I just finished Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.  It is the third in the Hush, Hush series.  You may remember back in August my review of Crescendo which was the second in the series.  I wasn't crazy about it.  I wasn't crazy about the first book and my feelings didn't really improve that much with the third.  And do you know what was really frustrating?  I thought this was the last in a trilogy.  I was wrong.  After I finished and it didn't seem like the story was complete, I did a little looking around online and discovered the fourth and final (thank goodness) installment will be released next fall.  Really?  I still have to read another one of these?  Well, of course the answer to that is no, I don't.  But I will.  There is something about me that makes it very difficult not to finish a book or series (more on that in a later post). 

This series is kind of fun.  The story focuses on fallen angels, the immortals they inhabit two weeks out of every year and the humans sometimes caught in the middle.  I can't say it has great writing and I'm not overly attached to the characters.  On the other hand, something keeps drawing me back in.  If you have been reading this series I would love to hear what you think. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Every Woman's Guide to Cycling by Selene Yeager

My husband recently started riding his bike more and even joined up with a group of cyclists we know.  He is really enjoying it and so I thought I would give it a little try.  Now, if you have any illusions that I look anything like the woman on the cover of this book, please put them away right now.  I don't look like her and my bike looks nothing like her bike.  As a matter of fact, I ride a $100 Huffy that I bought at Toys R Us about ten years ago.  Try not to be jealous. 

We live in a beautiful climate and in an area that has miles and miles of bike lanes.  Cycling is very big here and I've been wondering if it is something I would enjoy.  The only problem is that cycling is not a cheap sport to just pick up.  Running is easy because it only involves a pair of running shoes.  As I learned from this book that I borrowed from the library, Every Woman's Guide to Cycling by Selene Yeager, a cyclist needs special shoes and special pedals that clip to those shoes and special clothes and a helmet and of course a fancy bike none of which is cheap.  The good thing is that my $100 Huffy is plenty sufficient to get me started, at least enough for me to decide if I even want to pursue the sport. 

This book speaks specifically to women riders and it addresses concerns women may have.  Yeager discusses proper fit of your bike, explains issues we may have with sensitive areas sitting for long periods of time in the saddle, prepares the reader for purchasing her own new bike and she even gives safety advice.  Also included in the book are training schedules and nutrition advice.  I have been riding my Huffy and as I progress I think I will eventually purchase my own copy of this book.  I learned so much, but I know I have so much more to learn.  Bike ride anyone??

The Color of Water by James McBride

December's book club selection was The Color of Water by James McBride.  It is the story of a white, Jewish woman, raised in unhappy circumstances in the South.  As a 19-year-old young woman in the 1940s, she leaves home, moves to New York and falls in love with and marries a black man.  James McBride is the eighth child resulting from their union.  This book is an interesting look at religion, economic status, class and of course race. 

I do not care for all memoirs (as a friend of mine says, they are often too self-indulgent), but this one I enjoyed immensely.  I find it very enlightening to step into another person's shoes and attempt to understand his or her life.  This book is not new having been published in 1997, but if you haven't read it yet, you really should.  Just this week as I passed the librarian's picks shelf at my wonderful local library, I noticed a copy of this book.  I recommend it.  Our librarian recommends it.  Really you should just pick it up and read it.  Go ahead.  You won't be sorry.