Book Review: Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Book Review: Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-HollandBracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Series: Viking Sagas #1
Published by Quercus Books on March 11, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
1 Stars
It is 1036. Halfdan is a Viking mercenary who is determined to travel to Constantinople and become one of the Viking Guard serving Empress Zoe. He promises to take his daughter, but one morning Solveig wakes up to find him gone. Setting off in her own tiny boat, she is determined to make the journey from Norway to the breathtaking city. Her boat is washed up, but Solveig is undeterred. What awaits Solveig as she continues on her summer journey across the world? She finds passage with Viking traders, witnesses the immolation of a young slave girl and learns to fight. She sees the clashes between those who praise her Norse Gods and the new Christians. In this perilous and exciting world, a young girl alone could be quickly endangered or made a slave. Will Solveig live to see her father again, and if she survives, will she remain free? A glittering novel that explores friendship and betrayal, the father-daughter relationship, the clash of religions and the journey from childhood to adulthood.

Book Review:

From the summary, BRACELET OF BONES sounds awesome. After being left behind by her father, fourteen-year-old Solveig travels from Norway to Miklagard (Constantinople) by herself. For a girl who has never gone to the local market by herself, the prospect of such a journey is overwhelming, but Solveig loves her father and wants to be with him.

The author takes something that should be super exciting — Solveig’s journey — and makes it super boring. BRACELET OF BONES is for grades 5 and up, but I can’t see younger readers sticking with this book because there’s just not a lot happening! My younger self might have finished it, but that’s only because I’ve always had a thing about finishing books.

This book is the start of a series, which wasn’t something I realized until I finished it and saw the preview for book two. So BRACELET OF BONES is the story of Solveig’s journey from Norway to Miklagard, and only that journey. It’s somewhat repetitive, and I just feel like nothing happened. Solveig took a boat ride. Solveig took another boat ride. Solveig took a third boat ride.

I think some of my apathy for the book was due to the writing style and Solveig herself. The writing is pretty simple, which is okay because it’s a middle grade book and aimed towards younger readers. But I lost count of the “Solveig thought this” or “Solveig thought that” type of sentences, or the times she exclaimed or whispered or cried … she never just said anything. Call me overly picky, but that sort of writing pulls me out of a story. And Solveig … I never connected with her. I felt like I was watching the events of the book rather than being with her on her journey.

I wanted to like BRACELET OF BONES. I mean, Vikings? A Viking girl going on a grand adventure? That should be right up my alley. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.

Socialize with the author:

Kevin Crossley-Holland:

– leeanna

Book Review: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Book Review: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy KalicickiBranded by Abi Ketner, Missy Kalicicki
Series: Sinners #1
Published by Self-Published on June 28, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 252
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
1 Stars
Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

Book Review:

BRANDED has an interesting premise, but poor execution. I was excited to start it, but once I got a few chapters into the book, I had to make myself keep reading. I was hoping the book would pick up near the end, but overall, it just didn’t work for me.

In Lexi’s world, people can be accused of one of the seven deadly sins. Just the accusation is enough — there are no trials or chances to proclaim your innocence. Then you’re branded with the color of your sin (blue in Lexi’s case, for lust), and sent to the Hole. Once in the Hole, your life is basically over: you’re stuck there, in a dirty, stinking, guarded town, and forced to work until you’re too old to be useful.

Cole is assigned to guard Lexi and escort her to and from the hospital where she’ll work. Relationships between guards and sinners are strictly forbidden, and in her first days in the Hole, Lexi sees a sinner and guard punished and executed for committing that crime.

But of course, Lexi and Cole fall in love, and that’s the big problem I had with BRANDED. I just did not believe in their relationship. It happened way too fast, and the authors told me they in love instead of showing me. Okay, I have to admit that I can see Lexi coming to care for Cole, because he goes out of his way to protect and keep her alive. But I do not see WHY Cole risked his life for her when he barely knew her. I learned almost nothing about Cole, other than that he’s a pushover when it comes to Lexi. For a guard, he was pretty wimpy.

The middle of BRANDED was boring. There were literally paragraphs like this: “Monday. Paint my room. Miss Cole. Tuesday: Train. Miss Cole.” Things like that should have been replaced by scenes of training or painting, etc. The end is packed with action, but again, I just couldn’t believe it. There’s a big reveal about who the villain is, and I cannot believe Lexi didn’t know who he was. Or that anyone else didn’t know who he was.

Lastly, although the world the authors created was interesting to me, I had so many unanswered questions. Why did Lexi get special treatment (Cole as a guard)? How are the denizens of the Hole getting access to weapons and bombs? Why is there even a hospital if it’s obvious no one cares what happens to the sinners? Etc.

Zeus, Cole’s dog, was the one bright point for me. He was probably the character I liked the most, because he was consistent. He didn’t undergo a massive change from one page to the next, like Lexi and Cole’s “relationship.”

About the authors:

branded authorsAbi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.
Abi Ketner Goodreads | Missy Kalicicki Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest

– leeanna

Book Review: Arclight (Arclight #1) by Josin L. McQuein

Book Review: Arclight (Arclight #1) by Josin L. McQueinArclight by Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on April 23, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
1 Stars
No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

Book Review:

The first time I tried to read ARCLIGHT, I got about 100 pages in before setting it down for a month. The second time I managed to finish ARCLIGHT, but I had to make myself keep reading. I wanted to like the book. I really did. But when I kept getting distracted by bad reality TV instead of getting sucked into the book, it wasn’t a good sign.

ARCLIGHT is based off a cool idea. Humans have nearly been eradicated, wiped out by the Fade. The only safe place left is the Arclight, where the remnants of civilization live, protected by massive lights that create a barrier against the Fade and the Dark. Light is the only thing that can hurt the Fade. Found outside, Marina is the first evidence that there are humans left, other than the ones in the Arclight. But Marina doesn’t remember *anything* about where she came from, her past, or even who she is.

I’ll admit it: I was confused the majority of the time while reading ARCLIGHT. I had no idea why the Fade were so scary, or even a good mental picture of what they looked like. The book is from Marina’s point of view, which added to my confusion because Marina spends a lot of time lost and confused. I ended up skimming whole pages because there was nothing but her thoughts. And then there just didn’t seem to be much of a story.

I also didn’t have any sense of urgency or danger while reading. When the Fade breach the Arclight, I never felt like the characters were in danger of being attacked or really harmed. There’s a scene where Marina BURNS Fade poison from a guy’s back, but it was like reading a grocery list. I had that feeling about Marina in general. I never connected with or cared about her. Because ARCLIGHT is driven by Marina’s discoveries about who she is, finding her so dull just made the book even more boring for me.

As I said above, I did push through to the end of ARCLIGHT on my second attempt reading it. Sometimes an ending can redeem an otherwise meh book, but in this case, it didn’t. The big reveals were pretty easy to guess, and I kept putting the book down when I had only pages left.

Socialize with the author:

Josin L. McQuein:

– leeanna

Book Review: Wasteland by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan

Title: Wasteland
Author: Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? Wasteland Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, Post-Apocalyptic
Page Count: 352
Rating: [1/5 stars]


Welcome to the Wasteland. Where all the adults are long gone, and now no one lives past the age of nineteen. Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan’s post-apocalyptic debut is the first of a trilogy in which everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the Variants —- hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin. Esther thinks there’s more to life than toiling at harvesting, gleaning, and excavating, day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day. But then Caleb, a mysterious stranger, arrives in town, and Esther begins to question who she can trust. As shady pasts unravel into the present and new romances develop, Caleb and Esther realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I don’t like to start a review out by being negative, but I just don’t have very many good things to say about WASTELAND. If I hadn’t been reading it to review, I probably would not have finished the book. Well, there is one plus — WASTELAND is a fast read.

WASTELANDis supposed to be a post-apocalyptic thrill ride. And I thought the idea was very cool and appropriately dark: A world where no one over 19 lives. A world where there are hermaphroditic “variants” who pick what sex they want to be. A world where kids scavenge for supplies amongst the wreckage of … something.

Yeah, something. There was almost no world-building in WASTELAND, which is probably my biggest complaint with the book. When an author creates a world where basic survival is a struggle, they need to explain, or at least give some clues as to what happened to create that world. I had a long list of questions by the end of the book; one other reason I kept reading was to see if any of them would be answered. Nope.

Some of my questions:
–What caused the harsh living conditions (extreme heat, no safe water sources, etc.)?
–Why does everyone die at the age of 19? A mysterious plague is mentioned, but there are no other details.
–Who taught Sarah to read? If it was her and Esther’s parents, what happened to them?
–What was the point of making the variants hermaphrodites? Their origin wasn’t explained, so it felt more like a gimmick than anything serious.
–If kids mate at 14-15, have their own kids at a year or two later, and then die at 19, who takes care of the children?

And so on.

Esther, the main character, was so-so. I finished the book a few days ago and honestly don’t remember much about her. She doesn’t fit in with the rest of the denizens of Prin. Instead of doing her assigned job, she prefers to buck the rules and play with her variant friend on the outskirts of town. She’s irresponsible and doesn’t know how to take care of herself, not even how to make the simple flatbread that people live on. I did like that she realized she couldn’t take care of herself.

She grows a little over the course of the book, most notably when Caleb comes to town. Inevitably, a romance springs up between them, one I had an impossible time believing. Days after meeting, they’re ready to mate. I do have to give the authors credit for trying to include some sex in a YA book, since so often that’s glossed over or ignored, but … the descriptions of it were so clinical, without any real passion. The descriptions of kissing were just as bad.

One more thing. WASTELAND is written in third person point of view, but has a serious case of head-jumping. Sometimes I wasn’t sure which character’s perspective I was reading, which didn’t make for an easy flowing book. There was even a scene from a character that didn’t have a name, just “the boy.”

WASTELAND is the first book in a trilogy. One last good point for the book is that it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. The story is resolved, and I’m not sure where the authors would take it in two more books. I doubt I will be back to find out, because of how disappointed I was with my read of WASTELAND. There are much better post-apocalyptic thrillers out there.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie

the enchanted truthInfo:
Title: The Enchanted Truth
Author: Kym Petrie
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Source: Greenleaf Book Group/NetGalley
Series? No
Genre: Fantasy, Short Story
Page Count: 40
Rating: [1/5 stars]


In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.

As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
THE ENCHANTED TRUTH is a very short modern day fairy tale, aimed at teaching young women that they don’t need a man to be happy. The message behind the book is good, if heavy-handed.

The story is pretty basic: instead of the fairy godmother producing a handsome prince, the princess has to think about what she wants in a man. In the process, she discovers who she is as a person. It’s short, sweet, and simple.

However, the writing made it difficult for me to enjoy THE ENCHANTED TRUTH. The writing is so overdone and overly descriptive. Here’s an example: “I’ve brought you a gift, my dear,” the bedazzled tutor said again, patting the maiden’s arm softly. “A magical gift.” (p. 6). It reminded me of one of those assignments in grade school where you’re not allowed to use the same word over again in a paragraph or page. But in real writing, it keeps the reader in the story to refer to the princess as the princess, instead of “the ingenue” or “the novice regal,” and so on.

A cute story, but not for me.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

the life of elizabeth IInfo:
Title: The Life of Elizabeth I
Author: Alison Weir
Release Date: October 5, 1999
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Own
Series? No
Genre: Biography
Page Count: 560


Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one–not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.

Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married–was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I’ve read a lot of Alison Weir’s books on the Tudors (five in the past few weeks), and The Life of Elizabeth I is the worst I’ve ever read. Instead of a biography, I feel like I was reading a soap opera, or an episode of the Bachelorette. A gigantic chunk of the book was taken up by Elizabeth’s betrothals, and while I understand that those were a part of her attempts to keep England in good diplomatic relationships, it just wasn’t well done.

I had a ton of confusion while reading, for a few reasons. Anytime a person gained a new title, such as when Robert Dudley became the Earl of Leicester, he was referred to as Leicester after. It was hard to remember who was who, and who had what title. The passage of time was another big headache. The biography is poorly organized. I had no sense of the chronology of Elizabeth’s reign, nor how old she was when many of the events occurred.

The Life of Elizabeth I isn’t about her life. It’s about the lives of everyone around her, and all their petty dramas. I learned virtually nothing, and as someone that has enjoyed Alison Weir’s other books, I was shocked by the poor quality of this one.

Rating: 1 owl

Socialize with the author:
Alison Weir:

– leeanna

Book Review: Broken by A.E. Rought

Title: Broken
Author: A.E. Rought
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Series? No
Genre: YA, Romance, Horror, Gothic, Retelling
Page Count: 384


Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely… familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I was really excited to read Broken. First, the cover is gorgeous! I especially liked the heart in the “O” of the archway and the red background. Second, it’s billed as a “modern spin on Frankenstein,” which is one of my favorite classics.

Unfortunately, my excitement didn’t last long. But before I get into the bad, let me talk about what I did like about Broken.

Emma. I liked some aspects of her personality. Many of the other girls at Shelley High are catty and cruel, like clique-y teenage girls can be. When Emma spends the first part of the school year mourning her dead boyfriend, she’s “emo.” But when she moves on to Alex, she’s “a slut.” Emma doesn’t let the mean girls get to her, which is what I liked. She has somewhat of an “I don’t give a f*ck” personality in that regard.

The other good thing about Broken? We see Emma’s parents! All too often in YA books, parents either aren’t around or are bad parents. It’s the exact opposite in this book. Emma’s parents are both present and both care about their daughter. Her mom is super over-protective, with the typical “no guy is good enough for my daughter” attitude. Her dad is pretty cool too, and having both parents in Broken allows for some parent-daughter conversations you don’t always get in YA books.

Moving on.

I almost gave up on Broken within the first few chapters. Not much happened, except Emma moping over her dead boyfriend and giving every single detail about her day from what she ate for breakfast to the clothes she wore. And when she met Alex, the new guy at school, I knew I wasn’t going to like Broken very much. Hello, insta-love! The summary for the book really spoils things in that regard, but Emma gives it away, too, with her repeated comparisons of Daniel and Alex.

I kept flicking the pages, though, somehow getting through the boring middle. Not a lot happens, at least not a lot that I can remember. Just lots of descriptions of typical teenage life, with Emma going back and forth about Alex. The “I shouldn’t feel this way about him, I barely know him, but I can’t live without him” variety. In Broken’s defense, there actually is a reason for the insta-love, but it still wasn’t something I enjoyed.

The ending of Broken finally brought the action I had been hoping. But by that point, it was too much, too fast, and too late. I didn’t get the mad scientist vibe for Dr. Franks, couldn’t understand Josh’s motivation, and I wasn’t creeped out at all, even by the half-dead animals on the Franks estate. I think this was partly due to the writing — the author has some creative and different ways of describing things, but she did it for everything.

Some examples of how Emma’s cellphone is described:
—”My cell comes to life, the vibrate setting making the pink thing look like it has legs.” (est. p9)
—”My cell phone comes alive in my locker, a swarm in a metal can.” (est. p21)
—”My cell phone buzzes, sounding like bees and chicken bones as it rattles against the pencils in the front pocket of my backpack.” (est. p121)
[page numbers are estimates, from the page counter on Aldiko]

So by the time I got to the animals that were half alive and half metal, I was numb from that type of writing. If it had been used more sparingly, I might have been more horrified by Dr. Franks and his experiments.

To conclude, Broken just wasn’t the book for me. Too much romance and too little action.


Socialize with the author:
A.E. Rought:

– leeanna

Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

the peculiarsInfo:
Title: The Peculiars
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Source: Library
Series? No
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Page Count: 354


This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance.

On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
Described as a mix of adventure, fantasy, steampunk, and romance, The Peculiars has some big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, the only big shoes filled are Lena’s.

To start, that was one of my big gripes with the book. I don’t need to be constantly reminded of the size and oddness of Lena’s hands and feet. Yeah, I understand that they embarrass her, and make her stick out in a society where people are constantly on the watch for Peculiars. However, I don’t need to be reminded over and over again. My memory of the first few chapters: Lena hiding her hands. Lena hiding her feet. Lena hiding her hands. Lena hiding her feet. Lena’s hands itching from her gloves. Lena’s feet hurting from her shoes. There was a robbery on the train, but I barely remember that.

So why are Lena’s hands and feet so important? They are an indicator that she has goblin blood, and is therefore a Peculiar. Humans are extremely racist towards Peculiars, claiming that they don’t have souls, and are good only to work in the mines of Scree. Lena straddles both worlds — she isn’t sure if she is a goblin, and The Peculiars is a coming of age story of her journey to find the father who abandoned her and the truth about herself.

The book had potential. It just wasn’t delivered on, for me.

The pacing is slower than a steam-powered turtle. I almost put the book down several times because nothing was happening. I kept pushing through, though, because I hoped it would be worth it, but it wasn’t. The ending fizzled, as did almost all of the action scenes.

I will say that for once, I didn’t mind the romance. It’s not too heavy, which is refreshing, and Jimson is a cute guy in a geeky sort of way. I liked his excitement over books and inventions.

Lastly, I think the cover is misleading. This isn’t the author’s fault, but I wonder at the decision to put a supporting character on the cover instead of Lena. I guess wings are more eye-catching than goblin hands.

Rating: 1 owl

Socialize with the author:
Maureen Doyle McQuerry:
Twitter @maureenmcquerry

Mini Reviews: Appetite for Life, Snow White and the Huntsman

appetite for lifeAppetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child
by Noel Riley Fitch

Julia Child became a household name when she entered the lives of millions of Americans through our hearts and kitchens. Yet few know the richly varied private life that lies behind this icon, whose statuesque height and warmly enthused warble have become synonymous with the art of cooking.

In this biography we meet the earthy and outrageous Julia, who, at age eighty-five, remains a complex role model. More… (summary from goodreads)

Mini Review:
If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve probably seen me mention My Life in France by Julia Child at least once. It’s a book I adore. The writing is fun, Julia’s personality shines through on every page, and it’s a fascinating tale of how Mastering the Art of French Cooking came to be.

Ever since reading My Life in France, I’ve devoured as many books on Julia Child as I can find. None have come close to that book for me. Appetite for Life is not a biography I would recommend unless you are interested in every minute detail of Julia’s early life. I do like that level of detail, but not for hundreds of pages.

I feel that an inordinate portion of the book is focused on her early life. Julia lived to the age of 91, yet the book largely glosses over her later life. It goes from listing every dinner party guest and their history to “that year Julia …”

The writing was dull. As I said, there was none of the magic of My Life in France. The writer had an amazing subject to work with, yet I didn’t get any of Julia’s personality in this biography.

Rating: 2 owls

snow white and the huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman
by Lily Blake

A breathtaking new vision of a legendary tale. Snow White is the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen who is out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman who was dispatched to kill her. (summary from goodreads)

Mini Review:
Tie-in books are hit and miss, usually miss.

Snow White and the Huntsman was a definite miss. I really wanted to like it, because I was so excited about the movie. The trailers looked amazing!

I read the book to tide me over until the movie comes out on DVD, as I won’t be seeing it in the theatre. But reading the tie-in made me not want to see the movie at all. The story, which seemed so cool and different in the trailers, was boiled down to a lackluster tale that went from A to B to C.

The writing is what bothered me the most. The characters are flat and never really developed. They’re inconsistent, too. For example, Snow White was locked up in a tower for ten years. Yet a few days after escaping, she’s trekking through the woods all day and learning to fight. The author goes from harping on her weak body to totally forgetting it.

A day after finishing the book, and I’ve already forgotten most of it. Not quite the experience I was hoping for. I’ll still check the movie out, but now I’m not so sad about my decision to wait for it on DVD.

Rating: 1 owl

Book 132: Oprah: A Biography

Oprah: A BiographyOprah: A Biography, by Kitty Kelley

This book is like watching reality television. It’s so bad, but you just can’t stop.

I can’t find one redeeming thing about this book; the author is clearly biased against her subject, writing one negative chapter after another. Anything good Oprah has done is mentioned briefly, and followed by pages of criticism on why she did it, why it wasn’t good enough, etc. There are also a large amount of pages devoted to describing Oprah’s lavish lifestyle, including the money spent to decorate her houses, her wardrobe, trips, expensive shopping sprees, etc.

Kelley focuses on the seedier side of Oprah’s life, the “dark secrets” she claims the celebrity talk show host is hiding. Oprah is probably hiding secrets, but I’ll do more reading before I believe everything Kelley wrote.

That said, I somehow couldn’t quit reading, but the whole time I was, my brain kept telling me, “Brain cells are dying!” Sensationalism at its best.

Well wait, there might indeed be one redeeming feature of this biography. Hopefully it will encourage people to take a deeper look at Oprah, and read between the lines a little.