Fool Moon Review – The Dresden Files

Hello friends! After a long couple of weeks, I’m back in the writing game. I know it’s been quite sporadic, but you’ll have to bear with me. I’m trying!

I’ve been reading rather slow lately. While a couple months ago I could read 150 pages in one night of reading, recently I’ve been reading maybe 30 pages every night of whatever book I’m reading (no matter how awesome it is). I’m just an old person now and when I read more than ten pages I just get so tired. So my actual book reviews seem to be pretty far apart nowadays.

Nonetheless, I’m still reading! And my most recent finished book is the second book in a series I started called The Dresden Files. The series is about a wizard private investigator named Harry Dresden who is often used by the police in the Special Investigation unit. They bring him in if there is a case that seems, well, different. It’s really well written and there are currently 15 books in the series.

The second book by Jim Butcher, the one I just finished, is called Fool Moon and chronicles Harry Dresden’s next case after the first book’s case has been solved. This time: werewolves.

I think I may have mentioned this in the previous Dresden File blog, but I didn’t actually find this book on my own (sadly). I was looking for new genres to read because I kept reading the same types of fantasy stories. I was getting a little tired of the genre, not because I don’t love it, but because I really felt like I had exhausted myself with mystical beings and creatures and lives, and needed a break.

So of course, the next books I started reading were of the fantasy genre. I JUST CAN’T QUIT SOMEBODY HELP ME! HALP!

I read two of the Maze Runner books and ended up frustrated with the writing and never read the third (even though I bought it. side note: I have a serious problem. Does anyone else start reading a book and love it so much you just go out and buy all of the books in the series? Because I do that, and then sometimes I end up hating the series and wasting money on a book. Again, HALP!). But then I did venture out of my comfort zone a little and read Gone Girl. Holy crap, Gone Girl. Easily one of the most suspenseful, intricate, well-written, exciting, and fucked up books I’ve ever read.

But then I was at a loss. I had books that I’d bought and stockpiled, but nothing that I was in the mood for. That was when my boyfriend’s friend suggested The Dresden Files (and just about everything else Jim Butcher has written). I thought it sounded interesting, and definitely different from what I’d been reading: instead of young adult fantasy books, I had graduated to adult fantasy books. BOOYA!

I read the first book, Storm Front, and loved it. I loved the writing style, I loved the story, I loved the creativity, I just loved it. But I didn’t run out and buy the other books of the series (oddly), instead I read other types of books. The Fault in Our Stars, The Legend of Drizzt, etc. But then I couldn’t take it anymore. I bought Fool Moon and the third book, Grave Peril. (HALP ME!)  The good news about me buying Grave Peril is that I absolutely loved the second book. So I’ll definitely be reading the third book.

So yes, I loved the book. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark, well-placed humor, a good action-y book, and super creative story lines. My only concern is that it’s 15 books. I’m a little worried I’ll get sick of it, although I can guarantee that my boyfriend’s friend will tell me “ABSOLUTELY NOT. YOU’LL LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT” We’ll see.

5 stars, Jim Butcher, 5 stars.

Until next time, friends.

Rachel

P.S. I’m always open to suggestions if you ever think there’s a book I should review!

email: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness Review

I’ve done it! I’ve finished Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches! After more than a month of reading one single novel, I’ve finished it. And it was good.

Some background in case you’re new here: All last month I was extremely busy with three jobs and moving house. So just based on that alone, I didn’t really have much time to sit down for five minutes, let alone read. But also, the book is almost 600 pages long. I’m generally a mid-to-fast reader, but 600 pages takes a while even in the best of circumstances.

So I started reading this book (which is the first book of a trilogy) after months of having it in my possession. It kept being on the top of my reading list – number one priority – but for whatever reason, when I’d finish a book I’d immediately choose a different book on my reading list. Last month I had read The Fault in Our Stars and had bawled my eyes out so much over that book that I needed to read something more lighthearted and adventurous. I picked the perfect book.

I have to admit that the first couple of chapters I was really confused. I had no idea what was going on, and the author switched up the point of view for a chapter about three chapters into the book, which was kind of weird. But once you get past the initial shock of what you’re reading and get used to learning all the new words and terms, like “daemons,” it gets much more fun. Like I said, she switches up the point of view from first person to third person three or four times throughout the novel, for a single chapter each. It was really weird, but those chapters were so informative because the narrator of those chapters gives you the information the main character, Diana, doesn’t know.

The book is centered around a woman named Diana Bishop, who comes from a long line of very powerful witches. She happens to come across an enchanted book in a library that will tell the secret of all the three creatures we know about: witches, daemons, and vampires. It also says how they can be killed. Diana does not open the book, though. She puts it back with the librarians. That’s when the creatures come out of the woodwork. They all want to unlock the secret of life. A vampire named Matthew Clairmont takes an interest in the book, but also an interest in DIana. And thus the book spirals out of control.

When I started the book I wasn’t sure I liked it. As I said, I was having a hard time understanding it, and the main character kept irritating me because she was so naive at first. But soon you begin to understand her naivety and really start to root for her. So if you do read this book, which I really recommend you do if you like supernatural stories, don’t give up on it the first few chapters in. It gets so so good. And holy crap, the ending! The ending!!!! My interest level was at an all time high after I finished the book. It was very good.

Which brings me to the second novel of the trilogy, Shadow of Night. I finished the first book two days ago but didn’t have time to write about it. In those two days I began reading an entirely different book because I didn’t own the second of the series. That book is called The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I made it through I’d say 20 pages before I just got bored. I’m sure if I really sat down and read a hundred pages of it I’d get hooked. But really I just couldn’t do it. I kept falling asleep and I find that to be a bad sign when you first start reading a book.

So instead I drove to Barnes and Noble today and picked up the second book. I can’t even tell you what it’s about just yet because I don’t want to give anything away on the first book. But I will say this: time travel!! It’s also about the same length as the first novel, so it might take me a little bit to read it, but I think I’ll go through much more quickly than the last.

With that said, I’m going to leave and read because I can’t stand waiting any longer! If you have any suggestions for my next book or just want to say hi, leave a message in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com.

Until next time! Happy reading!

Rachel

Book vs Movie: Gone Girl

It’s time for another Book vs Movie. Psycho murder conspiracy edition. I just finished Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl after weeks of only being able to read a little bit at a time. I have a confession though: I watched the movie first. I’ve mentioned before that I actually don’t find it horrible to watch the movie before reading the book. There are some cases when reading the book first is better (and that’s most of the time) but there are some books (like The Maze Runner) where you need that little bit of extra assistance to really get into the book. This book and movie combo is the former.

When I watched the movie Gone Girl it was because I really wanted to see it, and didn’t want to wait until I had read the book. I was too antsy. So I made the executive decision to go ahead and watch it… Holy crap. That movie is one plot twist after another. I won’t say anything to ruin the movie (or book) for anyone because honestly it just has to be seen to be believed. But I watched the movie and thought it was one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen — so I had to read the book.

I borrowed the book from my sister and started reading right away. For me, the story was kind of slow in the beginning simply because it was almost exactly like the beginning of the movie. It was like reading a screenplay rather than a novel. My issue here was that when I was watching the movie, I was completely enthralled within five minutes. And because the first part of the book (it’s written in three parts) was exactly like the movie, I felt like I was just watching the movie. No extra juicy details they had left out, no different plot twists – just a blow-by-blow of the movie (or rather the movie was a blow-by-blow of the book…hmm…) But nonetheless, the story was great to start out with, I just already knew what to expect.

I was starting to really wish I hadn’t seen the movie first only because the writing was so amazing. Flynn is one of those authors that can make even the most unlikable characters likable, but can also take away any shred of decency in that character in an instant. In Flynn’s case it’s really more of liking the character, unliking the character, liking the character, hating both characters, etc. So, because of all this, I was really starting to get down about it. I thought I had ruined the whole book by seeing the movie. Why did I ruin such a good thing?? But then I hit the last few chapters before Part Two, and oh my god was it amazing! I got to a point where I just refused to go to bed. I was like, “Nope. I know it’s 11:30pm and I know I have to get up early tomorrow, but nope. I’m just gonna keep reading. Que sera sera.”

And thus began my absolute love for this novel. I refuse to tell you anything about the actual story of the book, but I will summarize to you what the back cover/back of the dvd allows its audience to know: On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne reports his wife, Amy, missing. He acts very strangely, and even lies to the police, which causes everyone in their small town, including the police, to wonder if he had anything to with her disappearance.

Sounds like a simple whodunnit, right? Nope. Just…no.

This is one of the most interesting and edge-of-your-seat movies I have seen in a really long time. But this is one of those cases where I just wish I had read the book first. The book had so much more detail, and so many more plot twists. And even the characters were slightly different after the first part! Reading the second half of the book was like someone telling you ahead of time, “Dumbledore dies!” But then reading Harry Potter and finding out *SPOILERS* Snape killed him. It’s knowing one thing and reading another.

This book was excellently written, and wonderfully executed. It was a really great book. But don’t get me wrong! The movie was spectacular!! They chose all of the actors perfectly, and they truly did a better job turning a book into a movie than a LOT of other movies based off of books I’ve seen. I would say the movie was 90% accurate to the book, and that’s a big amount of correctness.

So yes, the movie was great. But hands down the book was better. Book: 3 Movie:2.

My sister argued, however, “The book didn’t have Ben Affleck’s penis in it, so the movie automatically wins.”

Valid point.

Until next time!

Rachel

The Genre Dilemma

I’m at a dilemma. After reading The Mime Order I’m kind of stuck in a rut due to my current love of the supernatural.

I ought to give you the whole backstory. You see, I have a predisposition of getting obsessed with a genre and sticking to it for a really long time until I get bored with it and move on. I do this a lot – the most memorable and long obsessions began about two years ago, when I started reading books about Asian culture.

It all started with the wonderful Amy Tan and her first novel The Joy Luck Club which chronicled a group of older female Chinese immigrants and their daughters in San Francisco. I had actually read an excerpt of the novel and was absolutely fascinated to the point where I just had to read the book. It was, and remains, one of my favorite books of all time. It’s heart warming, heart breaking, and everything in-between.

After that I decided to read her newest book The Valley of Amazement about a Chinese/American woman living and working in multiple courtesan houses. Now this book was incredible. I’ve mentioned before that a great book makes you feel as though you’re the character. That their pain is your pain, that their activities are your activities. That is exactly what happened here. I felt so connected with the main character that I actually took the book with me places so I could read while I was waiting for appointments or classes or whatever I had going on that day. I would literally break down in tears while in public reading this book. In fact, I was waiting for a class to start (I had two hours before it started) and decided I would buckle up and read the rest of the novel. I finished it in an hour and a half, and spent the next thirty minutes crying in the women’s restroom. It, too, was spectacular. Absolutely amazing, and gut wrenching at the same time.

Soon I had read nearly all of Tan’s books (I only have one of her books left! I’m saving it for the perfect time!) and was watching a documentary on olden days China on Netflix when I came across a documentary on Geisha girls in Japan. Oh my god was I fascinated. I was so fascinated that when I finished the documentary I immediately ordered Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, who was featured in the film. I was so entranced by his novel that I actually ended up writing an entire essay based on Geishas and their customs. It took a lot of documentaries and a lot of books, but I couldn’t have been happier doing that research.

So, for me at least, finding a subject that I enjoy and want to learn more about means reading a ton of novels based on the topic. My sister and I even went to Boston and I saw a woman reading a book on the subway based on a Japanese family’s life over the span of something crazy like 100 years, and I took note of the book and author so that when we got home I could buy the book. That happened about 7 months ago. I was on this Asian kick for nearly a year. I was that obsessed.

Now, I’ve moved on to supernatural/fantasy novels, usually young adult. I’ve always loved this genre – I mean my blog name is based off of a line from Harry Potter! But last January when I read The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, I began to slowly integrate fantasy novels into my repertoire, until it became all I was reading. I read books in the meantime (and I’ll admit some of them were about Asian culture – you never get rid of a love!) but I waited an entire year for the Bone Season sequel to come out. That was “my precious.” Then I finally got and read the sequel, The Mime Order, all I want now is for the next book. My next “precious.”

And this is where the dilemma begins. After reading such an wonderful novel, it’s so hard to find something similar that can live up to my expectations. So, I can either stick to my guns and continue reading supernatural/fantasy novels (I’m currently almost done with The Maze Runner by James Dashner) or I can reach out and find a new topic to hone in on. I was thinking of switching over to romance novels – I just bought One Day by David Nicholls, or perhaps a John Green novel… but then fantasy novels are just amazing, and so exciting to read! Dilemma, dilemma…

Let me know what you guys think. Maybe I’ll start taking some suggestions!

In the meantime, let’s get reading! Until next time.

Rachel

The Mime Order Review!

Hooray!!! I’ve finished The Mime Order!!! It was absolutely incredible. Samantha Shannon’s first book was wonderful – a powerful depiction of human survival instincts. Her second book is honestly even better – a powerful depiction of human manipulation and deception.

It’s always a little weird after you finish a book. It’s almost like the world around you is exactly the same – going on as usual as if you haven’t just had deep emotional trauma the past week you’ve been reading the book. No one quite understands that feeling of absolute shock, of having to tell everyone you know that right now you’ve just experienced something that only a book can do: get you involved into an entirely new world, only to have that world shatter beneath you. It’s both a horrible feeling, and, in a weird way, a wonderful one.

It took me a total of 10 days to read the 500 page book. I was reading maybe two or three chapters almost every night, so it took a lot longer than it did for me to read The Bone Season, which had about the same amount of pages, but only took me 3 days to read. Looking back on it, I’m glad it took me ten days because that’s 7 less days that I’ll be wishing I had another one of her books! I mean, holy cliffhanger…!

Shannon has an estimated five more books until she completes the series. I, for one, can’t wait. After reading The Bone Season last January, I claimed it as one of my all-time favorite books. The second I started reading The Mime Order I started to lean more towards the excellence of the sequel. By the end of the book I was in love. The last hundred pages or so are just mind boggling. It’s so intense that I was literally sitting in bed biting the inside of my lip so hard that it bled. It was so fantastic, such an awesome novel. This has easily become one of my top favorite books of all time, and that includes the first novel of the series, giving Samantha Shannon some pretty decent reign over my favorite books.

In my studies, (*pushes glasses up my nose*) I’ve learned that a good author knows how to captivate you, to get you interested in the story, and to be excited reading it. But a great author brings you into the novel as if you could be any one of the characters, so that even the goings on in the story start to seem real! For example, as I was reading last night I felt this dread in my mind and actually thought to myself “oh my god. I have to compete in a scrimmage in a few hours!” before snapping myself out of it and realizing that I was certainly not competing in a scrimmage, but that Paige was. So a great author gets you to feel those exact emotions that a character is feeling. It’s not just you following a character around and hearing their story, but rather being a part of their story. This writing technique is something that Shannon excels at beyond anything else.

I have to say, though, now that I’m done with the book I’m almost at a loss for what to read! I have a ton of books that I own that I really want to read, but when I think about which one to choose I just say to myself, “It’s no Mime Order… It’s no Paige and Warden.” So touchè, Samantha Shannon, touché. You’ve managed to keep me hooked for another year. The next book can’t come soon enough! Hurry it up, lady!

Until next time (with a new book!),

Rachel