Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review - The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert
2018
368 pages

'Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
'

*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This book . . . wow.  I'm still not sure what I read.  This is one bizarre story!  I'm not sure how I feel about it because I'm not sure I understand it.  LOL  Seriously, there is some Pan's Labyrinth type weirdness on these pages.

The book starts pretty normal.  The story is, I don't know, linear?  This happens, this happens next, then this happens.  People go here and say this, do this, and it all makes sense.  There are some creepy bits mixed in along the way but it's still . . . normal.  The middle part of the book just becomes weird!  It's not bad, but it's no longer the normal . . . linear . . . type story.  It's more like a weird dream, with random bits that seem to have nothing to do with each other leading the characters along.  I was kinda like 'What is going on??  Why can't I understand this?!' and fretting my own ability to comprehend words on pages.  Then I sort of gave up trying and went with it.  And then the later part of the book returns to a more normal tone again, although in the end you're still shaking your head and wondering what you just read.

When thinking about how to do this review, I debated just how much I wanted to say.  I mean, I do have a spoiler alert but still.  I think I'll just say that the middle part of the book, all that weird stuff, is when Alice finds herself stuck in a fairy tale land.  Like, an actual different world where various stories are actually real life to these people.  But why do they seem to be stuck?  Why have these people been replaying a loop of events?  How does Alice fit into all this, and can she help them?

I finished this book last night and it's still nagging my brain even now, the next afternoon.  It would probably make a whole lot more sense to me if I read it again someday but I think I'm okay with not fully understanding.  It's just a whole lotta weird!

Book Review - White Raven

White Raven (The Raven Series, Book One)
by J.L. Weil
2015
276 pages

'It only took one heartbeat to change my life--one chilling phone call in the middle of the night.

And then, as if my life didn't already suck, my dad sends my brother and me to some idyllic island for the summer to live with a grandma we never met. WTH. Naturally, I rebel. In the end, I find myself shipped off to Raven Hallow...and bored to tears.


Until I get an eyeful of the mind-bendingly gorgeous Zane Hunter. The dark-hair cutie makes my pulse go bonkers, and I think, maybe this might not be so bad after all. Six feet of swoon inducing looks, with a hint of Celtic charm in his voice, he was the type of guy that left a string of broken hearts in his wake. And I had all the heartbreak I could handle.


Yet, there is something uncanny, almost supernatural about Zane, and it's not just his devastating smirk. No matter how much distance I put between us, Raven Hallow isn't big enough, and the sparking tension between is undeniable. Of course, the one person I want to avoid becomes my salvation.


My past comes back to terrorize me. Someone wants me dead, and the closer I get to the truth, the more I realize my whole life is a lie. I am no longer sure what is more frightening--the attempts on my life or the guy whose heart and soul are synchronized with mine.
'

*** SPOILERS (and harsh language) ***

I was quite excited to get this book.  I'd seen it on Goodreads, thought the cover was absolutely beautiful, and was intrigued by the description.  Too bad it sucked so much I couldn't even finish it.  And that sucks too because I'm still curious about what the actual story was.  I couldn't get past the horrific writing though, and gave up about 80 pages in.

The books starts off decent enough, so I did have high hopes in those first few pages.  Once she sent to her grandma's house though, and especially once she meets this supernaturally dreamy Zane guy, it all just fails in a huge ugly way.  The conversations these people have are sooooo insanely stupid.  No one, anywhere, converses like that.  The main character is ridiculously inconsistent and bitchy.  She's supposed to be this tough girl from Chicago but really she's just written as a mean, snotty, bitch.

The pace of the story just stalls once dreamy Zane comes into it.  Okay, okay, we get the point that he's drop dead gorgeous and mysteriously dreamy and does unspeakable things to the main girl's pulse and hormones.  We got that the first ten or so times it was pounded into our heads.  But to drag every. freakin'. interaction. between the two of them on and on with endless reminders of how hot he is just, well, drags things on.  How many times were the exact same things repeated in slightly reworded ways?!  'You shouldn't be here,' and 'It's dangerous for you to be around me,' and various other versions of the same jibber jabber.  We got it the first time!  Move on!  WHY is it dangerous??  But nooooo, no one can ever elaborate on anything beyond 'This is a mistake,' and 'She doesn't know, does she?'

So you're already in an eye rolling, gagging, rage because of all that and it's made even worse by the absolutely idiotic conversations.  Someone might say something normal and you hold your breath thinking maybe we're getting somewhere but no, the main girl spews some mean shit totally out of nowhere.  And then she wonders why dreamy Zane is being a dick?

Good lord, I can't even think of the main girl's name because I just don't freakin' care!

So yeah, 80 pages in and we were getting absolutely nowhere.  There were hints about the supernatural aspect being reapers and that was greatly intriguing to me but the story just wasn't going anywhere.  I had to look online just to find out that yes, they are reapers.  Okay, cool, but what about them?  I couldn't find any general summary or synopsis so I still don't know.  I got the impression there are rival gangs of reapers or something???  It that's it I'm glad I quit reading because that sounds dumb.  All the five star "Greatest book ever!" reviews on Goodreads must come from young teens.

UGH.  Huge fail!

Book Review - The Golden Tower (Magisterium, Book Five

The Golden Tower (Magisterium, Book Five)
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
2018
256 pages

'Callum Hunt has been a hero and an outcast, a force of good and a portent of evil. While the doors of the Magisterium have been open to him, he has never felt entirely welcome. If anything, he has felt others' resentment . . . and fear.

Now, as he begins his final year at the magical school, his place is less certain than ever. With one unique exception, he is estranged from most of his friends. A furtive darkness still hounds him. And the greatest challenge he will ever face is right around the corner.

In this monumental conclusion to the Magisterium series, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare push Callum to the brink of annihilation, showing how magic has the ability to both save and doom, create and destroy.
'

*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

This is the finale in a series that I quite enjoyed but definitely need to read again without year long breaks between books.  I think it will be that much greater when the flow is uninterrupted. Having said that though, I will take a break and read some other things before revisiting this as a whole.

These books are meant to be middle grade, so yes, they are shorter and easier to read.  There is darkness and death but it's not gone into very deeply.  Things just keep moving in these books, keeping it sort of toned down for younger readers.  I've said it throughout the series that it's almost too bad this is for kids because there is great potential in this story for older readers, where it gone have had more depth and more time just really building on things.  Even so, this is still a really good story.

So this book in particular, the finale, finds all the elements coming together and some hard choices being made.  Things seemed rushed though.  It felt like this book was way too short and things were wrapped up a little too easily, too quickly.  I never did review the fourth book here on the blog and I'm kicking myself for it now because I can't really do the 'We pick up with xyz from book four....'  In this finale, Cal is still trying to deal with things that happened in the previous book, trying to right some wrongs he'd created.  Someone we thought was dead is back, bringing evil to a whole new level.  To battle this, our main characters need to track down some potentially dangerous allies and do some bargaining with the wizard government (can't remember what it's called, sorry!).  And mixed with all this, Cal finds himself distracted as he awkwardly navigates the even scarier world of first love.  lol

While this is the final book of the Magisterium series, there was a lot of talk about the Collegium in this book.  The Magisterium is like middle and high school.  Wizards do indeed graduate and can move on to college, or the Collegium.  And while things were wrapped up for the most part in this book, there is enough left open for a companion series, you know, the Collegium years.  I did a brief search online though and couldn't find anything about it.  Guess we'll wait and see!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Nov. 3

So that weather forecast I heard last night that was saying 1-3 inches of snow was changed back to rain.  Someone must have screwed up somewhere and played a forecast that wasn't for this area.  So yeah, supposed to be 50 and rain tomorrow.

Finally got to pack up the Halloween decorations today.  Because I worked on Nov. 1 & 2 I didn't get to it until today.  With each holiday or season I get a little less excited about decorating.  I've already been drastically cutting back on the amount of decorating I do but even so, it was just a major pain in the butt today.  I hated packing all those potion bottles and things carefully back into their bubble wrap cocoons in a tote.  I hated hauling everything up and down the stairs.  I even hated getting my few Thanksgiving decorations out and almost didn't bother.  What am I becoming?!  At this rate we'll be lucky if we have a tree up for Christmas this year!

Hubby was gone most of the day today, first helping get wood cut and stacked at his parents' and then helping his barn project partner move into his new house.  Tomorrow he'll head back over there to help finish the move, and says he might even miss the Vikings game.  Because he was gone I had the day mostly to myself.  And of course I feel like I wasted it.  I got all mad and mopey about the decorations then gave up for a while and just watched some TV.  Ty came over later in the afternoon and we played Wizard101 and ate a cheap, crappy pizza.  The pizza sucked but the visit from the boychild was a nice distraction from my cranky-at-myself mood.  He even took one of my Glade electric wax warmers and bit of wax home with him to see if he likes it.  He's always used those plugin types and is getting sick of them lately.

Today I am thankful for:
The miracle of DVR.  It's allowing me to gradually get back into enjoying TV shows again, and is slowly teaching me that it's okay to just sit and relax and watch something dumb once in a while.  Sometimes we all just really need that.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Nov. 2

On my way home from work just a little bit ago the weather forecast I heard on the radio mentioned 1-3 inches of snow possible Sunday night.  What??  This is Wisconsin and it is November now but still, I'm not ready for that.  Maybe it will fizzle out.  This morning they were only saying rain for Sunday.  Hmm, we shall see.

The website that I get my lovely blog backgrounds from has been down for a while now.  I removed the Halloween background without realizing the site was having problems, and now I can't get to the Thanksgiving backgrounds.  I dug through the themes that Blogger provides and found this temporary background that at least has some fall colors and even some leaves.  Pretty boring, huh?  I'll get something fancier as soon as I can!

Today I am thankful for:
The common sense I have (think) I have been blessed with.  I suppose we all think we have great common sense, but man, some of the people I know or see around me . . . ?  It's a wonder they've gotten this far in life.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Nov. 1 - Thankful Natters 2018

Yay!  We made it through Blogtober's daily word prompts and now here we are, ready for November's daily Thankful Natters!  If you've followed for a while you might know that the first year I did this I over-thought it way too much, worried about confusing thankful and grateful.  I then decided I didn't care and was just going to go for it and have some fun.  Hopefully you'll join in, sharing what you're thankful for each day in the comments.

I'm hoping to get back to regular blogging with nattering posts, hauls, craft updates, whatnot.  I still keep going back and forth on whether I even really want to keep blogging though, but since I can't seem to quit for good I feel like I'll just give it yet another try.  Tonight's post will be short though because I'm unprepared and out of practice for regular nattering.

I worked today.
I'm tired this evening.
I'm excited for the holidays.
I'm going to bed now.

Today I'm thankful for:
People who truly understand.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Blogtober - Day 31

The final October daily word prompt is:

Halloween

Well of course it is!  I used to absolutely love Halloween.  When I was a kid it was probably equal to Christmas for me as far as anticipation, excitement, and fun was concerned.  I loved the school party, and then rushing home to get ready for trick or treating.  In the tiny little town I grew up in it was like an epic but doable quest to try and hit every single house.  My brothers and I would actually draw out a map of the town and plot the most efficient route.  Trick or treating was still at night in those days, and we ran all over without slow and pokey parents tagging along.  We had to race to get to as many houses as we could and plan it so we were close to the main intersection in town because at a certain time the local fire truck would sound its siren, calling all the kids downtown, and then would lead the parade of kids a couple blocks down the street to the middle school where a big Halloween party was held.  My gosh, those days were awesome.

As an adult, I've phased out of Halloween over the past however many years.  My kids were never into it very much but I still had fun decorating and watching scary movies and whatnot as they got older.  They're all grown up and off on their own now, and Halloween has become a little more boring each year.  We haven't carved pumpkins in years now.  We haven't decorated outside for a few years now either.  We haven't even watched any scary movies this year.  I'm hoping to get back into it next year, since 2018 has just been a weird year for me in so many ways.

I hope you've had a spooktacular Halloween season!
Tell me what you did to celebrate!