Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider #3)

After being sent to Wimbledon to check into a suspicious turn of events, Alex is put out on loan to the U.S. CIA for his protection and to provide cover for two CIA agents. Sent to Cuba to act as the son, Alex soon finds himself embroiled in the plans of a Russian general.

I am enjoying this series. Alex is a good kid and a terrific spy albeit a reluctant one. But he is so good at it that MI6 keeps using him and this time the CIA asks to "borrow" Alex to help get their agents onto an island with a lot of security. There is some contrivence with the Wimbledon tournament to get Alex into the position where he has to leave the country for a while but the main plot involves the Russian general.

I'm noticing that the villians tend to have a second in command that is hard for Alex to beat but eventually he outsmarts them and wins. In this book it is Conrad, an assassin whose been stitched together after being caught in a bomb detonation. I can't say there were any surprises with the ending but there was one surprise with the CIA agents so that made it more interesting. Also interesting is the addition of Alex's new friend, Sabina. She is a great character and I hope she shows up more in the series.

Alex Rider
Point Blank

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekly Round-Up 1/28

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I reviewed Crossed by Ally Condie, Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz and The Lorax, the 2012 movie.

I'm reading Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz and I'm listening to
Blackout by Connie Willis, read by Katherine Kellgren

Friday, January 25, 2013

A note on book blogging

I use to blog everyday and do challenges and try to have a review a day and comment on everyone else's reviews. But then I got pregnant and had a baby and I just couldn't do it anymore. I am apparently not one of those people who can juggle work and a kindergartner and a baby at the same time as trying to maintain a book blog. Which sounds stupid when you write it out but there it is. So I took a hiatus and basically stopped reading. I've been a life long reader but still I have periods where nothing is appealing. And the blogging came to a stop. Now I think I have a better balance in my personal life and I've started reading again. So I'm trying to restart this old thing again. Because I really do enjoy book blogging. But the everyday thing and the challenge thing and the commenting thing isn't going to happen like it did before. So to anyone who still visits and reads the sparse reviews I put up. Thanks so much.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Lorax (movie) (Based on a Book)

Ted is a boy who likes the girl across the street and they live in a town made of plastic where nothing is natural and the air quality is so horrible people buy bottled air. When the girl, Audrey, says she wants to see a real live tree, Ted seeks out the Once-ler and learns his story and why all the trees have disappeared.

I didn't get a chance to see this in the theater but it's on Netflix now and I've watched it 3 times in the last 4 days thanks to my son. The Lorax was always one of my favorite Seuss stories despite the fact that is kind of sad. And I liked the tv special growing up. So I was definitely interested to see this come up on instant streaming. It expands the story quite a bit but I liked it. I find the animated movies of Seuss stories are better than the live action. This is true of the Lorax. The music is catchy and the animation is well done. It is very round and curvy, keeping in lines with the illustrations. You actually see the Once-ler which you never do in the book or the TV show. I liked the relationship that develops between him and the Lorax. And I enjoyed the backstory they made up with Thneedville and Ted. It was a funny movie and I really didn't mind watching it so many times. I'm sure it will be watched again sometime again this week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider #2) (audio)

Reluctant teen spy Alex Rider has put himself in a jam. Now endebted to MI6 for rescusing he is once again sent on a mission made for a boy his age.  He is sent to a school for the rich and powerful's troubled sons to find out if there is something sinister going on at the school.

OK. I think the key here is just utter suspension of belief that any of this is in any way rational. I can deal with the teenage spy thing.  Sure sure, this is a thing that can happen. I can deal with the school for troubled wealthy youth. I can deal with the things Alex manages to do before he evens get to the school or the fact that he already seems highly trained and well rounded, something that is attributed to his upbringing by his uncle. But the whole reveal at Point Blanc, the school, is pretty crazy. The whole thing is so James Bond. I honestly at this point don't know if this is criticism or praise. It's a great series and I'll definitely continue on with it but C'MON (SPOILERS highlight) 16 cloned boys who've had plastic surgery and are going to take over the world through their parents and all perpetuated by a crazy mad scientist. I just don't even know. But it's an exciting and action packed series so I'm willing to let these things go for the sake of having something fun to listen to on my way to work.

Simon Prebble is the narrator. I really don't like narrator changes but Simon Prebble is a good narrator and he won me over. It helps that this is only the second in the series and so I haven't associated the previous narrator only with Alex's voice. I wonder if he continues but I can't find the third book on audio so I'll have to read it.

Sequel to Stormbreaker

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crossed by Ally Condie

Cassia has made it to the Borderlands in her quest to find Ky. Meanwhile, Ky is also on a mission to get back to Cassia. Told through alternating chapters set in the outer reaches of the Society, Ky and Cassia learn more about the Society and the resistance movement known as the Rising and more about each other as they come to terms with their relationship and the rebellion.

Middle books of trilogy can have the tendency to have less development than first or third books. Sometimes they are treated as filler or to set up the climatic third book. So the money is really in the beginning and the end. Crossed was good don't get me wrong but when I thought about it after I finally finished (it took a while) not much really happened. Some information was learned and the characters of Cassia and Ky were explored more and I suppose this will have more bearing in the last book. But for a series I was already on the fence about this wasn't a strong sequel. I will be reading Reached sooner or later and I am interested in seeing how it is all wrapped up. Hoping this bulls*&t barely existent "love triangle" mess is put away. Condie tries awfully hard to make us think that Cassia is torn between Ky and Zander but I just don't see it and if there is a problem it is more between Cassia and Ky and whatever is happening in their heads.

Sequel to Matched

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (audio)

Alex Rider has just lost his uncle. They claim he died in a car accident and was not wearing his seat belt. But Ian Rider was facetious about seat belts and Alex can't let this detail go. Soon he discovers his uncle was actually spy working for MI6. Now he is tasked to complete his uncle's last assignment: infiltrate the headquarters of Herod Sayle and see if there is something behind the gift of a new supercomputer to every school in Britain.

I am assuming that the words teenage Bond have been used in abundant when describing Alex Rider. Because that is basically what this feels like sans the sex (thank goodness). Even the villains have a Bondesque quality to them and the whole supercomputer plot is definitely out of a Bond type movie. But it was still a fun book. Alex is talent, resourceful and with very little true personality: pretty much an ideal spy. The gadgets are cute and very appropriate and I love the inclusion of the library. Having read a book before, I knew how this was going to end but that's okay. I enjoyed it enough to want to continue on with the series. I think it is one my son will like when he is older.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (audio)

Finally the 7 have gathered together to go on the quest to unite Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter. They must travel to Rome, a dangerous place for any demigod to find the thing that has torn apart the camps for centuries.

I didn't review The Son of Neptune because I listen to it while I was on maternity leave and reviewing with a newborn was not something I was capable of. Nevertheless I loved it and couldn't wait for the next book. The Mark of Athena continues the adventure this time finally bringing all our heroes together on their quest. This book features alternating points of view from the main characters, a detail that I like. It is filled with lots of narrow escapes and ingenues plans, something you would expect from a Heroes of Olympus book. I thought the villain at the end was pretty obvious. There were clues left all over the books, but the ending was a surprise. It is a definite cliff-hanger and as soon as I was done I rushed to the computer to find out when the next book, The House of Hades, was going to be released. Not till October! *groan* I have to find out what happens next!

Joshua Swanson is the once again the narrator for this book. I'm assuming he is just going to do the entire series which is great because I hate it when they change reader mid-series. He does a great job and really brings the words to life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Amy is frustrated with constantly having to care for her brain damaged sister. Her mother always thinks that Amy should be taking care of Louann but Amy just wants to be normal for a change. When the chance comes for Amy to stay with her aunt while she cleans out Amy's great grandparent's house, Amy jumps at it. But something spooky is going one with the dollhouse in the attic. The doll seems to be moving on their own reenacting a grisly scene that took place years ago.

My sister bought a bunch of our old childhood favorites at a library book sale a couple of months ago and I couldn't resist picking up The Dollhouse Murders. It used to creep me out big time when I was younger but I still have fond memories of it. While the language is outdated, specifically referring to Amy's sister as "retarded" the story still holds up. Amy's frustrated at always having to take care of her sister and her embarrassment over Louann's behavior is something I think most older siblings can relate to at one time or another. The story also touches on Amy's mother's expectations and her own frustrations. As an adult I can understand more of Amy's mother than I did as a child.

The dollhouse mystery is still spooky. Dolls that can move by themselves is a creepy concept and it have them act out a murder is freaky. It is interesting that in the end Amy needs the help of her sister to figure out what the dolls are trying to say. That was a nice little twist to the story.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Audio Book Reviews

1. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riodian (Heroes of Olympus #3), read by Joshua Swanson. 15 hours, 9 minutes
2. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider #1), read by Nathaniel Parker. 4 hours, 37 minutes
3. Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider #2), read by Simon Prebble. 5 hours, 45 minutes
4. Blackout by Connie Willis, read by Katherine Kellgren. 18 hours, 48 minutes
5. All Clear by Connie Willis, read by Katherine Kellgren. 23 hours, 46 minutes
6. The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson, read by Matthew Brown. 9 hours, 30 minutes
7. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, read by Michal Friedman. 8 hours.
8. The Diviners by Libba Bray, read by January LaVoy. 18 hours.
9. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, read by Ed Westwick and Heather Lind. 15 hours, 30 minutes
10. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, read by Katherine Kellgren.  7 hours, 40 minutes.
11. Son by Lois Lowry, read by Bernadette Dunn. 8 hours, 11 minutes.
12. "Who Could That Be At This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket, read by Liam Aiken. 3 hours, 43 minutes.
13. The Selection by Kiera Cass, read by Amy Rubinate. 8 hours, 7 minutes.
14. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, read by Rebecca Gibel. 9 hours, 32 minutes.
15. Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews, read by Kathleen Mcinerney. 15 hours, 34 minutes.
16. The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, read by the author. 7 hours, 16 minutes.
17. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente, read by S.J. Tucker. 8 hours, 21 minutes. 
18. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, read by Daniel Sharman. 16 hours, 15 minutes. 
19. The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood, read by Katharine Kellgren. 6 hours, 46 minutes. 
20. She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, read by full cast. 1 hour, 52 minutes.
21. The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, read by Peter Altschuler. 7 hours, 35 minutes. 
22. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, read by Erin Moon. 14 hours, 15 minutes. 
23. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers, read by Angela Goethals. 13 hours, 30 minutes.  
24. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, read by Christine Lakin. 12 hours. 

Total: 259 hours,  7 minutes

2013 Reviews



All Clear by Connie Willis
Allegiant by Veronica Roth


Because It is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
Blackout by Connie Willis


Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett
Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Crossed by Ally Condie
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright


Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik


The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman


The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers 


How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


The Iron Man by Ted Hughes




Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
The Lorax


The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riodian
A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison


Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter


The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Perfect Scoundrels Ally Carter
Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz



The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith
Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot
Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Son by Lois Lowry
Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz


Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen


The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood



"Who Could  That Be At This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket