2015 Reading Challenge: The Skriker by Caryl Churchill

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Skriker
Author: Caryl Churchill
Series: N/A
Release Date: September 1, 1994
Publication: Theatre Communications Group
Medium: Paperback
Fulfills: A play
Finished Reading: March 28, 2015

About: “Premiered at the Royal National Theatre, this extraordinary new play by one of Britain’s leading playwrights combines English folk tales with modern urban life. In terms of its language alone, it is as exciting and challenging on the page as on the stage.
The play follows the Skriker, ‘a shapeshifter and death portent, ancient and damaged’, in its search for love and revenge as it pursues two young women on London, changing its shape at every new encounter. Along with the Skriker come Rawheadandbloodybones, the Kelpie, the Green Lady, Black Dog and more, till the whole country is swarming with enticing and angry creatures that have burst from the underworld.”

I was running through my list of things that I had to read for this 2015 Reading Challenge and saw that I had to read a play. One of my coworkers is a fabulous costumer for various theater companies around the Chicago area. My costumer-coworker immediately said I had to read The Skriker. She then went on a frantic search to find the monologue to get a taste what I was getting myself into. Alas, she couldn’t find it, but the next day I found this play in my work mailbox.

What the heck??

The cover really drew me in. Something about it being dark, but so alluring at the same time. Awesome.

I absolutely loved the whole concept. It sort of reminded me of something that would happen in the show Sleepy Hallow. I was waiting for Abby and Ichabod to make an appearance in one of these pages. After reading it, I’d love to see it performed. I’m curious and excited to see how they’d stage it and how they’d do some of the things described.

My costumer-coworker was absolutely right about the monologue. Talk about being quite the wordsmith. I wholly bow down to Churchill. This was ridiculous. She takes double-speak and stream of conscious to a whole other level. (One that I need to get on.) She doesn’t lull you into this absurd language and colloquial of the Skriker, but rather throws you right in and it’s either sink or swim. I loved it. I LOVE LANGUAGE.

My rating and why: I gave this one four stars! I read it and I really enjoyed it. While, I’m not 100% on every single thing that happened, it was just what I wanted. It was dark, gritty, sarcastic, and definitely right up my alley.

Your turn! What’s your favorite play? What reading challenges are you doing this year? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

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2015 Reading Challenge: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Series: The Magicians (#1)
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publication: Penguin Audio
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Mark Bramhall
Awards: ALA Alex Award (2010), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction & Fantasy (2009), The Kitschies Nominee for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2009)
Fulfills: A Trilogy (1/3), A book with magic, A book by an author I’ve never read before
Finished Reading: March 19, 2015

About: “Quentin Coldwater’s life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead – but a strange envelop bearing Quentin’s name leads him down a very different path than any he’d ever imagined.
The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power and, for a while, it’s a world that seems to answer all of Quentin’s desires. But the idyll cannot last – and when it’s finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected…”

Before we get too involved in the book. Shout out to Bramhall. An amazing voice actor. Each character got a distinct voice and their personality was easily deciphered. Enjoyable listening experience with him behind the mic.

I love magic.

I can’t believe I haven’t read this book sooner. It’s right up my alley. Magic. Magic. Magic. I love magic.

I really liked Grossman’s take on how his version of magic is different than the typical magic that we think of. There are no wands. There are insanely intricate hand and finger movements with hard to pronounce incantations. These students need to be at the top of their class and still have that child-like wonder. I love how there’s different disciplines within the overall umbrella of magic. The physical kids are able to control physical things (duh), like fire or light spectrum.

So. I know I’m not the only person fangirling about the fact that these magicians were all fans of a book that focused on magic and a whole magical world. Does this mean that there’s hope to still get my letter to Hogwarts or a comparable school? I’m thinking yes.

The characters Grossman creates are all so beautifully flawed. They have the same worries, hopes, dreams, and inner demons that we do. The relationships between each of them is more than two-dimension. They’re so complicated and built on so many different threads of awesome. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know I get all weak in the knees for flawed characters and intricate relationships. *Swoon*

Throwing this out there: I love how Julia develops as a character. Since we’re focusing on Quentin, we don’t really get to see anything of Julia and how she’s progressing. We’re getting an outsiders’ view and it’s amazing. Each time we meet her in this book, I get more and more excited. She’s definitely the most interesting character and, for sure, my favorite.

I won’t lie, I was a little worried about the pacing of the book. They’re out of school before we’re even a quarter of the way through! There’s so much that could have been glanced over that I missed or should have been fleshed out. Never you mind, fellow reader. It all makes sense. The whole “we’re in school” section is just the basis for the actual story at hand.

HERMAHGERD.

I do have one small problem, though. Since I got this at the library, and as an audio, there were times when the disc skipped. There were several sections that I had to skip completely. Whole tracks! There was a point when I got out of the scratched up woods and all of a sudden there’s characters I don’t know. Like, who or what is Dint? Who’s Henry and Anais? I HAVE NO IDEA!

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars! I read it and super enjoyed it. At the time of writing this, I already have the second book on hold. (EEEEEEE!) Grossman’s writing is amazing. He throws in one-liners that grab at pop culture and make the read all that much more accessible as a reader. I believe this would to be real… and I’m waiting to take the test to get into Brakbills, the school (apparently that wasn’t mentioned before).

Your turn! Have you read this book and what did you think? What’s your favorite book or series with magic? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Author: Phillip K. Dick
Series: N/A
Release Date: First published in 1968
Publication: Del Rey
Medium: Paperback
Awards: Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1969)
Fulfills: A book that became a movie, A book with nonhuman characters, A book set in the future, A book by an author I’ve never read before
Finished Reading: March 10, 2015

About: “A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep . . . even humans.”

The theme for March book club was “leftovers”, so we nominated a good portion of books that had already been nominated, but didn’t win. Among the group was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. I voted for this book, one of a couple, only on the knowledge that it was the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner and that it was set in the future. My guess is that there was something to do with androids. (This guess turned out to be correct.) I had not previously watched Blade Runner or know anything about it. I was basically going at this one blind.

This book was beautifully written. Going from Ready Player One last month to this one was a huge difference in the use of language, and linguistic (hmmm… I don’t want to say “tricks”) tricks. (Dammit, I said it anyway.) There was one member that admitted the book was too well written, and he couldn’t handle it. He opted for the Sparknotes.

Dick definitely had a Vonnegut-feel to it, and upon further investigation about this, I discovered that Dick was a huge fan of Player Piano by Vonnegut. It really shows the influence Vonnegut had on Dick, through the way characters were portrayed. They’re all beautifully flawed.

There were themes on themes on themes. This is one of those books that you could spend your whole life reading and find new things to talk about or new themes each time you read. I’m sure I didn’t catch anything close to how much is going on in this book. There’s just an insane amount. It also depends on the mindset you’re in for which themes or tones you pick up on.

Our book club had a solid hour discussion. A good portion consisted of the character Rachel. In how she develops and changes in the story. We had several theories bobbing around the circle, but I won’t tell because spoilers. We also talked about the name differences in book and movie. It’s not a far stretch to see that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? might not be the ideal choice of a movie title, but where, oh where, did Blade Runner come from?

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars! I read it and really enjoyed it. It’s not one of those books that you can read when you’re looking for something light-hearted. This is not the book to turn to if you’re looking for a book that won’t make you think. This is the book that makes you think and makes you take a look at society and wonder just how far off this could be from reality. Excellent writing, again, by Dick. Applause all around.

Your turn! Have you seen the movie Blade Runner or read this book? Do you know why the movie is called Blade Runner? Have you read anything else by Phillip K. Dick? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Day We Met
Author: Rowan Coleman
Series: N/A
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Ballatine Books
Medium: eARC
Fulfills: A book published this year, A book by a female author, A book set in a different country, A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, A book by an author you’ve never read before,
Finished Reading: March 5, 2015

About: “A gorgeous husband, two beautiful children, a job she loves—Claire’s got it all. And then some. But lately, her mother hovers more than a helicopter, her husband Greg seems like a stranger, and her kids are like characters in a movie. Three-year-old Esther’s growing up in the blink of an eye, and twenty-year-old Caitlin, with her jet-black hair and clothes to match, looks like she’s about to join a punk band—and seems to be hiding something. Most concerning, however, is the fact that Claire is losing her memory, including that of the day she met Greg.
When Claire meets a handsome stranger on a rainy day, she starts to wonder if Greg still belongs in her life. She knows she should love him, but she can’t always remember why. When Greg gives her a blank book, Claire fills its pages with private memories and keepsakes, jotting down beginnings and endings and everything in between. The book becomes the story of Claire—her passions, her sorrows, her joys, her adventures in a life that refuses to surrender to a fate worse than dying: disappearing.”

Before diving into this review, shout out to Net Galley for giving me an advanced copy. (Woot! Woot!)

And now we dive.

This is such a hard topic to talk about. The mind is a crazy thing that we have yet to fully understand (and maybe we never will). I was interested in reading this one because I have personal experience with Alzheimer Disease, while it’s not early on-set. My grandma has it, and it’s definitely hard to be around sometimes. Sometimes I’m a different person that she knows (her sister), sometimes I’m just a young girl, and sometimes I’m her granddaughter. So, when I read the synopsis I was ready to jump on in.

The first thing that really grabbed my attention, or didn’t, was how light it was written. Coleman talks about someone’s life and memories deteriorating and I felt nothing. It wasn’t dark. It wasn’t super emotional. It just was words that I read. I think if it was told more from Claire’s perspective and not given so much reprieve from her thoughts and her mental travels, that it would have been more compelling.

That being said, I didn’t think the book was horrible. It was a light read I could unwind with right before bed. It wasn’t a dark, scary book that would keep me up at night. It wasn’t a book where I needed to be on-point to understand the interweaving themes and symbolism. A great combination to just clear my head, relax, and drift off to dream land.

I could see where Coleman was going with her ethos, but I just didn’t feel anything. I didn’t cry, smile, or laugh. I could tell places when she wanted me to feel those things, but that’s about it. I think I would have liked it more if it was darker, if it pushed the boundaries a bit more than it did. Coleman may have played it safe with this one.

I really liked the whole idea that Coleman had writing about something so personal. I didn’t read about Coleman after the book. (I kind of just wanted to be done with this one.) But I did see that she had personal experience with Alzheimer Disease as well, which makes this book a tiny bit more touching. Just a bit.

My rating and why: I gave this book three stars! I read it, but it wasn’t really for me. I could see the appeal for others. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it, or maybe this just isn’t my genre. I’m not sure. Meh.

Your turn! Is this book on your to-read list? This book is supposed to be compared to Jo Jo Moyes – Have you read anything by Moyes that’s super awesome? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

2015 Reading Challenge: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy (#1)
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Audio Books
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Charlie McWade
Awards: Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2015), YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (2013), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Best Middle Grade & Children’s (2012)
Fulfills: A book by a female author, A book a friend recommended, A trilogy, A book set in a different country
Finished Reading: February 23, 2015

About: “In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Three orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.”

I got this book because I was talking about the reading challenge I’m doing and wanted to know of any good trilogies that I could do on audio (I’m already reading a physical copy book at home and wanted something for my car. Beep Beep!). This trilogy was recommended. I thought it would be awesome! A kingdom in ruin and deceit left and right. I was intrigued and ready for action.

I was disappointed. I understand that this book isn’t for my age group, but this book was so terribly written. I was bored. Sage was one-dimensional, though Nielsen did try. I didn’t believe in any of the characters.

Things conveniently happened. Where did you get that crown? Oh, stole it several chapters ago. How handy, right? No. It’s obnoxious. It’s not coy. I get that some authors try to keep us in the dark and have things revealed as the story progresses, but this was poorly done.

The climax wasn’t very climaxy. No faster breathing. No relief afterward. I was less than impressed.

I’m unsure as to whether or not someone reading this in the correct age group would be entertained. I don’t think I would be.

Short review for a short book.

The only reprieve this book had was with the voice actor. Thank you to McWade. He played the cocky, annoying Sage very well. The voice was exactly the voice I would imagine for this character. Fitting in every way.

I’ll take better notes for books, so my reviews are flashes of what I think I remember.

My rating and why: I gave this book three stars. I read it and it just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a huge fan, but it was ….. ok.

Your turn! Have you read this book? Any good trilogies you’re into lately? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Clan of the Cave Bear
Author: Jean M. Auel
Series: Earth Children (#1)
Release Date: June 10, 2004
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Sandra Burr
Fulfills: A book that became a movie, A book by a female author, A book a friend recommended, A book by an author you’ve never read before
Finished Reading: February 14, 2015

About: “Here is the saga of a people who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear; how they lived; the animals they hunted; the great totems they revered. But mostly it is the story of Ayla, the girl they found and raised, who was not like them. To the Clan, her fair looks make her different – ugly. And she has odd ways; she laughs, she cries, she has the ability to speak. But even more, she struggles to be true to herself and, with her advanced intelligence, is curious about the world around her. Although Ayla is clearly a member of the Others, she is nurtured by her adoptive parents, befriended by members of the Clan, and gradually accepted into the family circle. But there are those who would cast her out for her strange, threatening ways.
So the conflict between the ancient Clan, bound by heredity to its traditions, and the girl in its midst, of a newer breed destined to alter the face of earth, could never be resolved. And it is this same struggle that leads Ayla to venture where no Clan woman has ever dared. Driven by destiny and a will to survive, Ayla breaks the forbidden taboo…”

I was in need of an audiobook, so I turned to a coworker and asked which book I should listen to next. She turned a little red and told me about this series that has, like, a million books and she’s read all of them and loved every single one. She then went on to explain that the books take place in caveman days and things that happen explain why things are they way they are today. It sounded pretty cool, so I checked it out.

The voice acting was mediocre. The voice used for Kreb (sorry about the spelling – I’m not 100% on them) was ridiculous, and not in a good way. His voice made me laugh a couple times. It was like a … creature voice. It’s hard to explain. Maybe if a troll and a gremlin had a voice baby, this is what it would sound like.

The names were confusing to me. They were all really similar (again, I apologize for the spelling) Kreb, Ayla, Issa, Goov, Brun, Broud, Vorn, Vorg. These last four were really hard for me to keep straight. Wait, who said that? Wait, who did that?

The story was so slow. The tempo was way too slow for me to be excited about anything. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened, even by the surprising parts and I attribute this to the slowness. The action was action-y, but there was too much time in between – I was bored.

Ok. We get it. She’s not built like the rest of the Clan and everyone thinks she’s insanely ugly. We get it. She won’t have a mate because she’s ugly. We get it. Her totem is very strong. The repetition in this book only added to the slow tempo and to my antsy-ness. I only need to be told once, maybe twice – but this was too much. At every turn Auel seemed to find a way to squeeze in that Ayla is ugly. Stop.

Overall, this book was pretty meh for me. I could have lived my life happily without having read it. I thought it was going to blow me away because it came highly recommended and has a pretty high average rating on goodreads. I can see the appeal, but I wanted speed. I wanted something that was going to keep my attention a little better.

My rating and why: I gave this book 2.5/3 stars. It was pretty meh for me. I wasn’t excited to get into the car. I wasn’t invested in any of the characters or story lines. I didn’t really care what happened to any of them. I did finish the book, though I’m not sure why. I will not be continuing with this series.

Your turn! Let me know if I’m being too harsh or if I’ve read this completely wrong and it’s the best work of literature ever. Have you read this book? Is there a book you’ve ready that has been recommended highly but fell short? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Photo Cred: goodreads
Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Series: n/a
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Broadway Books
Medium: Paperback
Awards: Prometheus Award for Best Novel (2012), ALA Alex Award (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014)
Fulfills:A Book with a Number in the Title, A Book Set in the Future, A Book by an Author I’ve Never Read
Finished Reading: February 7, 2015

About: “In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines – puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wad stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win – and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

I’ve been hearing a ton about this book for awhile now. When it came time to vote for a book for February’s book club talk, I was all about me some Ready Player One. I mostly just wanted a reason to go get this and nerd out in my little nerd cave.

HERMAHGERD, you guys. I loved this book. There are so many 80s references. Movies, music, games, TV shows, clothing, lingo, etc. I ate it all up. Since most of the story takes place in a virtual world, of course there’s a ton of video game references. OM NOM NOM ate all that up too.

There’s just like little tid bits I want to throw at you. I want random exclamations and interjections. I loved every single sentence of this book. While I didn’t listen to this one as audio, Wil Wheaton is the voice actor, so I might need to get on that as well.

I just.

Words. Sometimes they’re hard.

I just didn’t want to put this book down at all. While I was born at the tail end of the 80s (November of ’89), there were still a ton of references I got and only a few that were over my head. I’m wondering if it’s as enjoyable for someone who is younger than me and maybe not as familiar with these allusions. (Let me know in the comments below.)

This book is action packed, full of humor, romance (while in the background), and just everything and more that I wanted from a book like this. I’m so so so stoked and wish I could read it for my first time again.

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars! I just simply adored this book stayed up late at night or ditched plans to read this puppy. Why not five stars? ‘Cause I’m a hard reviewer. It’s like when someone asks you on a scale from one to ten how much pain you’re in? I’ll probably never say 10 because there could always be something that hurts me even more and there’s no 11!

Your turn! Have you read this book? Is there a book you wish you could read for your first time again? What’s your nerdy pleasure? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!