Book Review: The Elite

Book: The Elite

Author: Kiera Cass

Recommend: If you are a fan of angst, this one is for you – if not, run far and fast!

I hoped. I really did. I was all ready for something somewhat simple. I hoped actually that it wouldn’t turn into this big huge fight over the prince but I knew that it would have to be that. I mean why else would you write a book like this honestly? This one feels much more like a reality TV show and less like a classic story except for a scene stolen from Anna and the King (or The King and I – whichever you prefer). I get all the conflict. I really do but I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through all that angst. I really wanted something simple and sweet instead of catty, conflicted and confusing.

Honestly at this point in the story, one of the main players is feeling completely unnecessary. I really wish this character would just disappear, even though I know he or she won’t because they are too central to the plot. While I really enjoyed this one, there were some times through the book that it almost went flying across the room.

The big negative for me was the change in the prince. Yes, I get that we are seeing past his veneer in some ways but I feel like it could have been handled in a much more graceful manner. He does redeem himself throughout the book but there are also points where America’s conflict feels somewhat forced. I also think the story could have gone on just fine without a couple of scenes that made me want to hurl a little.

I would say the biggest strength of this series is the complex storyline that they author is able to balance while still focusing on the small group of main players. I am rather annoyed with the second book but in a way that will make me rush to get the third installment, The One, in my hands as soon as I can. I’ll be hunting down this one as soon as possible.

Final Rating:

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Children’s Book Review: Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle

Book: Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle

Authors Bob Pflugfelder and Steven Hockensmith

Recommend: Definitely! Great for the young readers in your life…

So I got this book as an advanced reader copy after having reviewed the first two books in the series. I was happy to get my hands on this one, which i addition to the first two books have been passed on to my nephews.

These books again follow the adventures of the twins, this time both the twins and their uncle are being spied on and they must figure out what is going on before it is too late! I love the readability of these books for young kids and the way they make science look fun and interesting not only for the future but for things they can do now. I love this simple but fun way to integrate science into reading. It is a great example of cross-curricular material. This week, I gave the most recent book to my sister-in-law and she commented on how she was thinking about using it for homeschooling and that she liked the fact that the books seemed to stick to physics and engineering without diving into more controversial subjects, like evolution.

The idea of using fiction as a vehicle to science is a great one and after being inspired by my sister-in-laws’ comments, I just might have to show these to the teachers at my school.

Definitely worth the time to read and a great way to find a learning activity that your child will want to do with you.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new :)

 

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Book Review: The Selection

Book: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Recommend: Surprisingly yes!

Okay, I’ve heard about this book from fellow reviewers and when I heard the main character’s name I simply couldn’t get over it and decided that I wouldn’t read this one even though there was a ton of buzz about it. An author who can’t even come up with a decent name was not about to take up my time. However, when I had a close friend tell me that I simply had to read it despite the name, I reluctantly picked it up and I’m so glad that I did!

With hints of the Biblical story of Esther combines with reality TV, this series has a fresh new spin that has been lacking for quite a bit of the YA I’ve read lately. The main character is truly conflicted and is trying to figure out who she is and what she is capable of. I love how this character really struggles with what she she do in a way I haven’t seen in much YA recently. There really isn’t an obvious choice and I have picked a boy that I’m hoping to win for the first time in a long time because it’s not obvious what her choice will be.

The only real weakness with this book is the names. They really are painful but after a while they can be avoided.

This is definitely one to pick up if you are a YA fan.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Weird Sisters

Book: The Weird Sisters

Author: Eleanor Brown

Recommend: This is a very different and original tale. One that is outside what I normally read but I loved it!

There are different kinds of reads. Some books race through forcing page turn after page turn, making it impossible to put down until you make that final flip. They make the reader frantic, cause hearts to race and can leave you breathless. There are books that tear the reader’s heart out a little more with ever page turn and bring them back up with only a few words. Then there are books that really make you think. One where you put it down every few pages and contemplate what the author is saying. This book is one of the last kind. It took my twice as long as it should have to get through this one because it kept me thinking the whole way through.

This story tells the tale of three sisters who have grown up in a small college town with their professor father and stay at home mom. The girls had all come home after some kind of failure or another to a mother sick with cancer and a father trying to cope with his wife’s illness. Each of the girls dealing with the mess that their lives have become. One pregnant without having any kind of plan. Another freshly fired for stealing from her job. The third about to tear apart her relationship out of fear.

This book really dived into common aspects of what the girls were going through that could be understood and related to by any reader. While I don’t have a parent with cancer, I do have one with a severe illness that can cause her issues. I am the oldest child like the main character. We have all done things we regret and continued to do others in order to not deal with the guilt like Bean. We have all felt completely unprepared for adulthood like Cordy. Add in a family that reads like mad and you have something that almost any reader can connect with and learn from.

The only slight negative I might be able to come up with is that the narrator can be a bit hard to pinpoint, however it is very effective for the story being told. If you aren’t ready for a bit of confusion on this it might through you a little bit. Definitely worth the slight aggravation though.

This book is one that deserves a lot more attention than it has received.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Books Review: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab and Robot Army Rampage

Book: Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Book: Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage

Recommend: This is a great kid series that is heavy on the science in a really fun way!

So I was contacted by an agent on this one. I decided that I definitely wouldn’t mind reading some books and letting my librarian know if they were worth getting at the school and possibly sending them on to my nephews when I had finished with them and so I wrote back, volunteering to do a review on these. I am so glad that I did.

These books center around twins, Nick and Tesla whose parents have to go away on some kind of research trip. The two kids are sent to stay with their rather eccentric uncle who is a bit absent-minded professor combined with a bit of mad scientist. While the kids enjoy the freedom they have at their uncle’s house to experiment, they miss their parents and end up getting themselves in over their heads in both books.

A bit detective novel, a bit science manual and a whole lot of fun, these books include instructions to conduct some of the experiments in the books and to build some of the contraptions that are included. The book is very clear that kids should get adult supervision and some thing might require a parent read first so that the supplies are on hand when the kids get to that section of the book. However, the idea that kids can take what they are reading about and immediately create it is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen since Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Not only am I going to be recommending this to my school librarian, I am also going to send it to my brother. I can see my home-schooled nephews getting a great kick out of these books because they love to build whatever they can get their hands on. Definitely worth picking up!

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Monument 14 Sky on Fire

Book: Monument 14 Sky on Fire

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Recommend: This was interesting but a bit thin in both length and depth of material.

I loved the first book in this series even though on paper it sounded like almost every other dystopian novel I had read. So when I heard about the second book in the series I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible so I put in for a reserve. Well, it came out and I read it and was sadly disappointed. It had nothing on the first book and was a pale imitation.

First of all, the first book was on the shorter side. The second book hardly qualified as a full book. While this definitely furthered the plot, it seemed rushed. The author seemed to have been forced to write this one on a very short timeline or the editor overdid it and cut far too much. I was hoping for a strong follow-up and instead got a pale imitation instead. Not worth the time and I don’t think I’ll be finishing this story.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Dead Ever After

Book: Dead Ever After

Author: Charlaine Harris

Recommend: If you’ve read the rest of the series, I don’t think you’ll be able to avoid it, although I think poor fan fiction would be better written than this book…

I have read this whole series form the first book on. A friend of mine at work recommended them after she realized that I loved the Twilight series and that I could probably use something more adult. While I enjoyed the first few books of the series, I got tired of Sookie‘s constant relationship shifts. After the fourth or fifth one, I was done with the ridiculousness although I continued to read because I was so far into the series.

I kept hoping that somehow she would get a fresh inspiration and decided where she wanted the whole thing to go but by the last book of the series it was still feeling stale and the ending was crazy forced. Let’s not even discuss who Sookie ends up with at the end and how annoyed I was by that whole thing. It felt like it came completely out of left field and was done to tick off a large portion of the audience. While there was no way to make everyone happy, she picked the ending that I think made the least amount of people happy.

The last book was completely anticlimactic and the story was lacking. Definitely not a good reason to start this series up but if you’ve read to this point I don’t quite know how you could resist the last book in the series. All the same, I’m glad I picked this one up at the library instead of paying for it.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

TRASH IT!!

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Now searching for..

Those willing to write for free ;)

So I have been the sole writer on the Obsessive Bookworm for 3 years now and while I have had infrequent guest contributors, at this point I am looking for a couple of people who might be wanting to write for a book blog on a more regular basis. I am not going anywhere but I am looking for some fresh voices and fresh ideas.

Some things I am interested in possibly doing:

1. Weekly themed posts – like Top Ten Tuesdays or something completely different

2. Suggested reading lists – if you liked ___ you need to check out..

3. Reading challenges

4. Group reads (with more than one contributor).

5. Reviews done in a different style than me

6. Reviews in genres I don’t prefer to read myself (mysteries, true crime, biographies, non-fiction)

7. Comic strips

8. Anything else you can come up with that  works well for this blog

In order to apply to be an Obsessive Bookworm, please send me an email at Obsessivebookworm@gmail.com and we will talk!

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Book Review: The Infernal Devices Series

Books: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess

Author: Cassandra Clare

Recommend: This series was better than the original three books and I didn’t think that was possible.

Okay, it is no secret that I love everything that I’ve read from this author. Her original series, The Mortal Instruments is one of my favorite YA series I’ve read. This series actually might be better than the original material.

This series centers around Tessa Gray, a girl who has no idea who or what she is when she is taken by the Dark Sisters and forced to use a skill she didn’t even know that she had. it puts her in the path of the shadowhunters as they work together to stop an evil force that the Nephillim alone cannot defeat.

Okay, this has to be with, without a doubt, the best love triangle I have ever seen. In most books we see two guys fighting over one girl. In this one, it is three people who love each other completely but don’t want to hurt anyone in the process and yet Tessa must choose. (I know – spoiler but it’s YA so this plot point is fairly predictable and therefore I don’t feel too bad about it). At the end of the first book, I was certain which way I wanted it to go. By the end of the second, I had completely flipped and by halfway through the third I was so confused that I somehow wanted both to end up with the girl even though it wasn’t possible.

With one of the best book ends I have read in a very long time, this series had me on an emotional roller coaster ride that I never wanted to get off. In fact, I have a serious book hangover from this series. I’m trying to read another book right now and I just can’t seem to get into it and it is all Cassandra Clare’s fault. There is no question that these books will be joining my extensive library the second I have the cash to purchase them.

I will say that while Clare is able to suck me into her world every time I read one of her books, this is not the case for everyone. In fact a couple of my close friends have tried to read her stuff and hated it completely. They simply don’t like her writing style and find that sometimes it can feel like she is trying too hard. So much so that they couldn’t even finish City of Bones. However, I have many other reader friends who love this series as much as I do. In fact, the moment I finished, I had to text one of my friends just to let her know how much I loved it by the time I was done. Definitely a whirlwind that is worth riding.

Also, I just found out that a movie is coming for this series!! I can’t wait :)

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: The Enemy

Book: The Enemy

Author: Charlie Higson

Recommend: A scary thrill ride of a book – worth checking out.

Okay, I can basically sum this one up in one statement. This is a zombie version of Lord of The Flies with the royal family thrown in for good measure. Was it a fun read? Oh yah. Was it anything ground breaking or new? Nope.

If I were to come up with one thing that was strongest with this book was the ensemble of characters. It has been a while since I’ve read a good ensemble book. The characters were well-balanced out and the conflict was balanced out. I think it was the only thing that separated this from a lot of the books with a similar storyline. Add in a sanctimonious power-hungry villain and it made for a fun read. I don’t know that I’ll keep reading this series but I can see the appeal.

Definitely worth the read if this is your kind of book.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Magisterium

Book: Magisterium

Author: Jeff Hirsch

Recommend: Absolutely! This is book is much better than his debut!

This is the second book I have read by this author and when I read the synopsis I could tell that this was the book he really wanted to write. His first book was intended to really get his name out there so that something this original stood a chance. Don’t get me wrong, The Eleventh Plague is a good read but it pales in comparison to this one.

Mageisterium is the story of a world divided. Glennora has grown up in Collisium and dreams of traveling to the stars, leaving everything behind her. She has been told that the world beyond the border is a nuclear fall out zone where nothing can survive. However, when her father’s latest invention forces her over that line, she find out that everything in her life has been a lie and nothing is quite what it seems.

Okay, besides the fact that it is really hard to remember that Glenn is actually a girl, this book is amazing. Without giving away too much, it was not at all what it seemed to be and that was a wonderful thing after having read one too many dystopian novels of late. This one will suprise you and will be a fun ride. There are some places where it is somewhat predictable, like I knew immediately who the evil queen was going to be – no question and rolled my eyes when I was right on but it really didn’t detract from the story at all. The author had an intersting solution to the problem and it didn’t all tie up in a nice neat bow at the end.

While this is not the best thing I have ever read, the author’s inventiveness makes it a memorable and worthwhile read. I see this one joining my library very soon.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Splintered

Book: Splintered

Author: A. G. Howard

Recommend: If you like the darker side of Alice in wonderland this one might be for you.

I have always been a fan of a darker imagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale. I love the recent version that was directed by Tim Burton and played the crazy dark American McGee version of the story on my computer. When I saw this book and figured out what it was, I simply couldn’t pass it  up.

Alyssa is a descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who would become the inspiration for Alice in the Lewis Carroll classic tale. Every woman in her family has gone insane due to the literary ties and Alyssa knows that since she is already hearing the voices of the bug and flowers, she will eventually join them unless she does something. However, things are not at all what they seem and when you’re dealing with Wonderland, that shouldn’t be very surprising.

Twisted, dark and unexpected is exactly what to expect when reading a book based on Alice in Wonderland which is exactly what you get with this one. Overall, this was a mad rush through the original story with lots of twists and turns where the Carroll tale didn’t have things quite right, much in the style of the Burton version of the story.

There were a couple of places in the story where things slowed down a bit or were a bit hard to grasp due to the completely nonsensical nature of it all. I would say that the ending also needed a bit more clarification and the last couple of lines were cheestastic (my word again – I know) however none o fit was so distracting that I wanted to put this one down.

Definitely worth the read if you are an Alice fan.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

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Book Review: Before Green Gables

Book: Before Green Gables

Author: Budge Wilson

Recommend: If you are a fan of the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery this was a fun read.

When I saw this book on the library shelves I may have squeaked slightly with excitement because I am a huge fan of the original series by L.M. Montgomery and always wished that someone else would write more about Anne. I loved Anne so much growing up that I am currently on my third set of paperbacks for the series and am working on getting them all in hardback copies because I read them so often. This book starts with her birth and follows her all the way to her arrival with the Cuthberts.

The author thoroughly understood the source material and made sure to include the key families and locations mentioned through the series. I think that overall the author did a great job of fleshing out the things we simply didn’t know about or only had been hinted at by the author originally.

That being said, there were a few inconsistencies in this book. The most notable inconsistency was Anne’s attitude towards school in Green Gables was very different from her attitude towards school in this book in some ways. Also, her voice just doesn’t feel quite right through the book. The author makes a great attempt at making her sound like Anne, especially at the end of the book, however it isn’t quite right. Also, there were some small things that were missed, like Anne’s attitude towards Mrs. Hammond, which was much more positive in this book than it was in the original series.

This was is definitely a fun read for Anne fans if you can stomach a few small flaws.

Final Rating:

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Book Review; Fathomless

Book: Fathomless

Author: Jackson Pearce

Recommend: If you are a fan of stories very loosely based on fairy tales and set in modern times.

I picked this one up because somehow I hope someone will write a decent mermaid book that won’t feel cheestastic (yep, it’s my own made up word, I know). This one was actually not half bad although there were some issues that kept it from being something that completely leaves the realm of cheesiness.

The story centers around a girl named Naida/Lo who lives in the sea. She desperately wants to return to her life on the land but cannot without killing someone else and taking their soul because she doesn’t have one. She meets a girl name Celia who has secrets all her own when they save the life of a boy named Jude from drowning. Then this follows more along the lines of Anderson‘s original tale as the two girls try to help each other all while falling for the same boy.

Yep, most of the story is really good. I do mean really good. The idea behind how these two girls end up thrown together and the fight of both of them having feelings for Jude is great. However, The Little Mermaid should NEVER have a happy ending. This needed to end the way the fairy tale does originally instead of the bizarre twist the author throws in at the end. The whole idea of them becoming some other kind of monster really ruined the ending of the book for me. I actually wanted to see Lo sacrifice herself believe it or not. It needed the slightly tragic ending in my opinion to ring true. The ending of this book feels completely forced and honestly ruined the story for me.

So close to having a good modern take on the Little Mermaid and yet so far due to the ending. I was glad this one was a library find honestly

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Dreams and Shadows

Book: Dreams and Shadows

Author: C. Robert Cargill

Recommend: This is definitely not something for everyone.

Okay, I picked this one up simply because it seemed different from most of what I’ve been reading lately. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was the first reader of the book. How could I tell? The scraps of paper from the pages being cut fell out as I read. While I like old books, there is something cool about begin the first person to dive into the pages of a brand new book as well, especially when it is a library book that will end up in the hands of many others. I enjoy books set in hidden worlds that run parallel to our own and this one is definitely that. However, if you are not a  fan of fairy stories (and I’m not talking the sanitized Disney ones like Tinkerbell), this one is definitely not for you. It is dark and a bit bleak.

The story centers around two boys whose lives have been irrevocably altered by their introduction to this world. Ewan is taken as a baby and is replaced by a changeling. Colby meets a djinn and requests to see all the hidden things in the world including becoming a magician. When Colby saves Ewan from becoming a blood sacrifice, the two boys’ lives are chained together in a series of events that will leave them both changed.

I really enjoyed how flat-out spooky this one was. This is not a happy fairy tale by any means. It actually reminded me a lot of reading The Child Thief by Brom. This one is not for the squeamish or faint of heart though. It is gory and violent. Not children’s fare by any means.

While I really enjoyed this one, I wouldn’t want a steady diet of this kind of book. Read at your risk.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Dualed

Book: Dualed

Author: Elsie Chapman

Recommend: This was a thrill ride that never addresses how completely wrong the whole idea behind it is…

I’ve been toying with picking this one up for quite some time now. I found the concept bold, daring and original. What if there were two of you but only one version could live until adulthood? What if you had to kill the other in order to survive? I was really worried that this was going to be executed poorly but the writing is good and the main character is complex enough for the reader to feel connected with. It was an enjoyable if not bloody read.

My big issue with this one was that they never really addressed how wrong the society was and that something should be done to fix it. The idea of kids killing other kids is never questioned except for the fact that some people cheat in order to stay alive. Or the idea that people would even want to have children when they would be forced to kill someone else or die in the attempt. A society that condones murder as a way of life and yet the author never goes on the record to attempt to fight the system. To be fair, I have heard that there is supposed to be a follow-up book. which will give the author another chance to do that but without it, it made the book feel incomplete.

This one was entertaining but nothing to write home about.

Final Rating:

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After the Movie: The Book Thief

It has been a while since I read this one but I loved it. I got an opportunity to go to an advanced screening of the movie a week ago and was really excited to see if the adaption would be as good as the book was.

My husband agreed to come with me even though he hates sad movies and isn’t a big fan of books in general. We barely made it into the packed theatre in time, found a seat near the front because it was the only thing left and settled in. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no previews and we went straight into the movie, starting with the death of Lissel’s brother and the burial by the train tracks where she steals her first book. From there it was a whirlwind of emotion and sobering images of their interpretation of Germany during Hitler’s control.

While the whole thing was extremely well done, there were two scenes that stood out for me more than any others. The first was the impact of the way they set the removal of the Jews from their homes. It was harrowing to hear children sing about the joys of the purity of German blood and how evil it was to be Jewish or a Communist but then to set these images of Jews being brutally dragged from their homes against it was horrifying. The ending of the movie also had me in tears. It would have anyway but the way they built up the emotional impact made it more of a tear-jerker than it would have been. I don’t cry during movies but this one made me lose it.

It was not without its flaws of course. There was only so much story they could tell. One of my favorite characters was missing from the story completely and they had to push through some things that I wished they would have spent a bit more time on, but overall, it was one of the best movie adaptions I’ve seen in a long time. Definitely worth the money and one I will be seeing again.

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Book Review: Agenda 21

Book: Agenda 21

Author: Glen Beck and Harriet Parke

Recommend: This one is a MUST read

What if the United States was simply a dim memory? Freedom was a word never spoken and daily life was something out of a futuristic dystopian novel? What if your job, spouse and movements were all carefully controlled by your government? That is the life of Emmaline, a young girl who is among the last to have been raised by her parents instead of the state. She is paired (marriage is a thing of the past) and forced to produce children she will never get to see, let alone hold. When the government can take away everything, how can anyone fight back?

This book was a great read. It was cleaner than most YA I read (although it is adult fiction) and yet it had an edge that left me sitting on the edge of my chair waiting with bated breath to find out what would happen next. The characters were a great mix of innocence and a hardness created by their rough environment. The characters had depth and were very memorable. I think that Emmaline and David will be resonating through my head for quite some time to come.

By the way, whatever you do, don’t forget to read the afterword on this one – it will knock the wind right out of you.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Author: Carrie Ryan

Recommend: This one started strong and then fizzled out…

Okay, I have heard nothing but rave reviews about this one on a multitude of YA fiction sites and so when I saw a copy sitting at my library, actually available, I snatched it up as quick as I could. This book started out with a bang and kept me reading straight through to the end. Even with the pacing though there was a major problem that simply couldn’t be overlooked which basically ruined the whole end of the book for me.

Okay this one is a zombie book if you couldn’t tell from the title. The forest is filled with them and they are stuck in a town with only a fence separating them from the moaning flesh hungry mob, which has been done in quite a few of the other zombie books I have read and so I won’t go into my issues with this idea. The main character Mary seems to get pushed into impossible decision after impossible decision time after time without a break.  I was really with this character though up until the climax of the book. She got the boy she wanted and – was still miserable. While I celebrate the idea that having a boy isn’t the end all be all of life and even knowing this was probably written in direct response to Bella Swan‘s seeming dependence on Edward Cullen this plot point was completely uacceptable to me due to the fact that it made the main character completely and totally inconsistent. Now, you cant say she was growing as a character but a character who had grown like that wouldn’t make the choices that she makes in the next few scenes. From this moment on, the character goes from being completely solid and really interesting to read to a bland plot driven cardboard cutout character.

So while this book had a lot of really go things going for it. I simpy don’t think I’ll be able to finish this series.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Penelopiad

Book: The Penelopiad

Author: Margaret Atwood

Recommend: Definitely worth a read, especially if you had to suffer through The Iliad and The Odyssey in high school.

Okay, I am a fan of Greek mythology. I find it oddly fascinating that people could believe in this set of self-absorbed petty gods who thought it was fun to mess with the people they ruled over and who had limitations. I found their attitude towards women  appalling in the way you find a train-wreck appalling – so horrible but yet you simply can’t look away.

Due to these factors I couldn’t help but add this book to my bag when I discovered it at the library. I have only read one of Atwood’s other books but I found her writing wonderful to read and that’s saying something considering I started with The Handmaid’s Tale. This book tells the story of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus who went missing for twenty years. She fended off suitors by the truckload and managed to stay true to him over twenty years. Never mind the fact that he was cheating on her every time he had the opportunity.

I found the character quite fascinating in this telling of the story, although slightly inconsistent in the center due to her passivity towards her household while her mother-in-law was alive. I loved the interjections from the author of almost sheer random wanderings on the topic. It broke up the story in an interesting way and get me to think about it from a myriad of perspectives.

Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of Greek mythology.

Final Rating:

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Filed under Classic Literature, general fiction, historical fiction, Review