Category archives: Books

The Light - Morpheus Road Book 1

by June 2, 2010 in Books, Fantasy, Not Recommended

I love reading young adult fiction while on vacation.  Last Christmas I tore through The Hunger Games in less then 36 hours, and it was absolutely fantastic.  I didn't know much about The Light, but I have listened to the first three books in MacHale's Pendragon series, and they are good enough that I was willing to give this new series a chance.

The Light is, ultimately, a ghost story.  In fact, the book starts with a hip "I believe in ghosts now" intro.  From there, it follows Marsh, the main character and narrator, as he attempts to solve the various mysteries surrounding his haunting and his best friend's disappearance.

While The Light was the fun, light reading I was looking for in a vacation book, it was also extremely disappointing.  In spite of having an entirely different storyline and cast of characters, The Light felt exactly the same as the Pendragon books.  In fact, in terms of the main character, there wasn't anything to distinguish Marsh from Bobby Pendragon.

MacHale certainly isn't a bad writer, but I'm starting to get the impression that his versatility is severely limited.  If you aren't absolutely in love with novels narrated by smart, sarcastic, angsty 15 year olds, who are just trying to figure out this crazy world, then I wouldn't bother with The Light, or anything else written by MacHale.

It's unfortunate, too, because he has some great plot ideas.  I may even continue listening to the books in this series, just to find out what happens next, but I definitely won't be reading them next time.  Is that hypocritical, to continue reading a series that I won't recommend?  Perhaps, but I am a sucker for a cliffhanger.

Unwind

by May 25, 2010 in Books, Not Recommended, Science Fiction

I learned about Unwind from a coworker whose son was reading it for school. Apparently there was some controversy among the parents. Having just finished Don Quixote I figured this would be great light reading to bridge the gap before vacation. While easy to read, this definitely wasn't exactly the light reading I had expected.

Unwind is set in a dystopian future in which America has fought its second civil war. Only this time, the fighting was over abortion. The war eventually ended with the signing of the Bill of Life. According to this document all life was protected ...

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Don Quixote - First Part

by May 17, 2010 in Books, Fiction, Recommended

Okay, I confess I cheated; I decided to read only the First Part of Don Quixote.  This part, at 459 pages, is technically a complete book in its own right.  It was published in 1605, 10 years before the second part that makes up the other half of the copy you see depicted to the left.  I will get around to the rest of it eventually but, honestly, I just needed a break.

I feel bad saying I needed a break because I really enjoyed Don Quixote.  If you read my First Line post on Don Quixote you know I ...

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The Book of Three (Audio)

by May 10, 2010 in Audio Books, Books, Fantasy, Recommended

I can't exactly remember who or what referred me to The Book of Three.  All I know is a few weeks ago I received a "the book you placed on hold is now available" email from the library and so I went and picked it up.

The Book of Three tells the story of a young assistant pig-keeper named Taran who lives in a mythical realm known as Prydain.  If you have seen the movie "The Black Cauldron" you have seen a movie loosely based on this book.  (Interesting note - the second book in this trilogy is actually called ...

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First Line: Don Quixote

by May 5, 2010 in Books, First Line, Fiction, Recommended

You might not be aware of this, but Don Quixote is a massive book.  As a result I will probably be doing multiple posts about it so that this blog doesn't screech to a halt while I work my way through it.  Note:  I'm reading the Edith Grossman translation. Also, I am already about 240 pages into the book, so this discussion is being informed by more than a blind reading of the first line.

"Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of ...

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

by April 26, 2010 in Books, Fantasy, Not Recommended

So I've done something for the first time since starting my book database - I've given up on a book.  I started reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland over the weekend, put about 60 pages into it, and decided that was enough.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the book is terrible or anything, but I just couldn't get into it.  It was imaginative, bizarre, and absurd (in a good way), but it didn't captivate me.

I realized I wasn't having any fun, and a book like Alice seems like it should be ...

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The Well at the World's End Volume I

by April 23, 2010 in Books, Fantasy, Recommended

We spent Easter weekend with some friends in Denton, TX.  While there, I had the opportunity to go to the best used book store I've ever seen:  Recycled Books.   In addition to being clean, well-organized, and having the most amazing selection of books, they also had a wide array of collector's items.  As I was perusing the fantasy/sci-fi collector's section, my attention was drawn to The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris.  I glanced at it, saw that it claimed to be "the first fantasy novel ever written", but decided to put it back and ...

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A Personal Matter

by April 16, 2010 in Books, Fiction, Not Recommended

There is no doubt in my mind that A Personal Matter is a skilfully executed piece of literature.  And I hated reading it. The main character, Bird, is a 27 year old who dreams of going to Africa.  When his son is born with a brain hernia, he is faced with deciding between surgery for his son (which may or may not allow him to develop normally) and preventing the surgery and allowing the baby to die.

Maybe it's because I'm a young father myself, but the very idea that Bird would even consider allowing his baby to ...

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Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

by April 7, 2010 in Books, Fantasy, Recommended

First of all, I apologize for the recent lack of updates.  Between traveling, Easter, and being sick I've been reading a lot, but not writing much.  I have a nice little backlog of finished books, though, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up and post some more over the next few weeks.

Now onto Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary.  I don't actually know what else I can say about the Fablehaven books that I haven't said previously.  They are fun, creative, exciting books that are perfect when you want something that is well executed, but ...

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The Graveyard Book (audio)

by March 25, 2010 in Audio Books, Books, Fantasy, Recommended

I have a weird relationship with Neil Gaiman's books.  His stories always fascinate me conceptually, but upon reading them, I'm inevitably underwhelmed.  That isn't to say his books are bad, just not as great as I hope they will be upon reading a plot summary.

The Graveyard Book suffers this same small letdown.  The idea - a young boy, orphaned after the brutal murder of his family, is raised by the ghosts that inhabit a nearby graveyard - is pretty awesome.  The execution, while still very entertaining and enjoyable, is just enough less awesome to be disappointing.  Maybe I ...

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