Sunday, March 18, 2012

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, published 2011

Young Adult, fantasy

Read March 2012

3.5 Stars

My Review:
Wow! Laini Taylor has written a book that is very different from anything I have read. She uses a familiar mythology of chimaera and seraphym, but then creates a world with them that exists within our world through a portal. I was fascinated by this story and truly didn't know what to expect next, which is refreshing in a young adult book. I also really loved that a large part of the setting was in Prague. I think it is a beautiful city.
Having said that, I was occasionally lost in this book. There were times that the author jumped from one time frame to another and I had to go back and remember what was happening before she went into this memory. And, as much as I enjoyed this book, I had a hard time visualizing some of the characters and remembering which chimaera was which animal and how they related to each other. I think this has a lot to do with my lack of imagination in this particular fantasy world.
If you enjoy fantasy, then this is the book for you. It has an interesting world, an intriguing story, and a romance that spans the worlds and time.

Warnings: Teen sexuality, not described in detail.

I would not let my 14 year old read this just yet. I would recommend this for an older teen and up.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, published 1811

Classic Regency, romance

Read February/March, 2012

5 Stars, I liked it more this time than I ever have.

My Thoughts (it's not a review this time):
Up above I have 2 pictures of different covers of this book. This is the first time I have gone through a book in 2 forms; I read it on my Nook as well as listened to it on a Playaway. So I included the covers of both versions I read.

My first exposure to Sense and Sensibility was the Emma Thompson version of the movie, released in 1995. I loved the movie. Many years later someone (sorry I don't remember who) bought me the DVD. I recommend watching the movie with the commentary of Emma Thompson on. It is so funny and also insightful. I then delved into the book. "Ummm, who are these characters? They weren't in the movie, why are they here? This isn't right at all!"

I found the "mean" characters in the book 10 times more mean than they were in the movie. I found Edward to be almost non-existent. How did Elinor fall in love with him when we barely see him? And when did Marianne fall in love with Colonel Brandon? I need more! I finished the book with the opinion that Sense and Sensibility is an annoying book and really, I like the Emma Thompson movie better than the book.

It has been many years since this reading of the book and countless viewings of the DVD. And, since then, the BBC has produced another production of Sense and Sensibility. I watch all things Jane Austen that I can get my hands on. And luckily, my two daughters are willing to watch them with me and even enjoy them. We do not own the new production, but have gotten it from the library a few times. On watching it again last month, I realized that there were enough differences in the movies that I would really like to read the BOOK again. What is the true story, rather than a retelling. Thus I prepared myself to drudge through the mean characters again.

This time I had a much different experience with this book. I started reading it on my Nook (it is free, like many other classics). I frequent the library and saw that they had it on Playaway. I've never listened to a Playaway, but my daughters have gotten them from school before. So I thought I would give it a try for those times I don't feel like reading and would just like to listen. In general, I prefer to read books than listen to them. Well, this changed over the last week.

On Saturday I listened to Sense and Sensibility for 2 hours straight while I organized the play room in the basement. Everyone was out of the house, I had time to myself, and I was plugged in and busy. I've never had my work go so easily and non grudgingly. The voice of the reader at times bothered me, but it was nice to hear her read and "talk to me" while I was doing my work. Then I found myself listening to it when I would lay down for a few minutes of rest. Tuesday morning I listened while I swept the floors, did the dishes, and dusted my room. The dusting doesn't get done very often and yet I was looking for chores to do so that I could keep listening. It was wonderful! I did read on my Nook at times at home, and I read when I was out in public (How weird would it be to be staring out into space or laughing out loud around other people who have no idea that you are listening to a book, besides it being a bit rude. Reminds me a bit of people who talk on their phones with ear thingies in and they wave their arms and talk to space.) Needless to say, this was a much pleasanter experience reading Sense and Sensibility than the first time.

I now view Sense and Sensibility as a book with really mean people in it, with really strong, capable, loving women as well. Somehow in my first reading I was all caught up in the differences from the book and the movie that I wasn't able to realize the incredibly wonderful characters that Jane Austen created. Elinor is truly a gem. I love her. She keeps going when the outlook is dim. She faces her trials with a smile and gives hope to those around her. Edward, although not seen very much and a bit of a bumbling idiot at times, is an upstanding, genuine gentleman. Colonel Brandon is a kind, self sacrificing, generous man. Do these characters have faults as well? Of course, but this time I was able to see the big picture of this book. I was able to appreciate the awful parts, the funny parts, the wonderful parts, the sad parts, and the incredibly happy parts all together.

Do I still hate John Dashwood? YES!