Book Review- No Plot, No Problem!

Book: No Plot, No Problem!

Author: Chris Baty

Format: Paperback

Published: 2004

     National Novel Writing Month is the crazy, insane, and wonderful brainchild of Chris Baty, author of No Plot, No Problem. In this book, he outlines how this idea (affectionately dubbed NaNoWriMo) came to be, and ways to succeed in it, and in your noveling career, with your sanity mostly intact.

       Let me start by saying that this book is awesome! While it is geared mostly toward those who have no idea what NaNoWriMo is, or those who are novices at it, it is a really great inspiration for those of us who have been there, done that, and are stuck in just a bit of a rut. Not only did it give me ideas, but it also got me excited about writing again, something that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Chris’ use of humor, as well as his chilled out approach makes the book, overall, a pretty easy read. My only real complaint about the book is that it gets a little repetitive at times. Some of the chapters seem to go over the same subject again, and again, and again. It’s not enough to be a huge problem, but it does make a couple of the chapters seem a bit long and tedious. Overall I give this book a 5 page review. It is great for those wanting to participate in NaNo, those who need a bit of inspiration, or simply those who just want to write something, even if they just want to take their time with it.

Book Review- The Giving Tree

Book: The Giving Tree

Author: Shel Silverstein

Format: Hardback


The Giving Tree is a much loved childen’s story about the bond between a tree and her human boy. I honestly don’t know why this is such a loved book. While it does a great job showing what true love really looks like, for as the boy grows, the tree gives everything she has, even to the point of giving much of the essence of her life just for the boy’s happiness. It also shows a textbook definition of selfishness, as the boy continually asks for more and more, not caring for the tree or her best interests. Unfortunately, this is not meant to be a morality tale, but is always portrayed as some sort of cute, awesome, warm fuzzy book. It is not. I flat out cannot stand this book. I had high hopes for it, only to have them crash and burn in an epic blaze of horrific proportions.

Overall, I give this book a 1. This book is awful. It is depressing. Run in the opposite direction.

Murder on the Orient Express

Book: Murder on the Orient Express

Author: Agatha Christie

Format: Hardback

Published: 1934

On a cold winter’s night, the Orient Express comes to a halt, the train tracks covered in snow. By morning all seems well…until a body is discovered in a locked room. 12 suspects, all with alibis, all without motive, and all save one without so much as a connection to the victim. Even Hercule Poirot, the great French detective, will have his work cut out on this case.

I honestly should not have liked this book as much as I did. Perhaps it was because I was hearing David Suchet’s (who played Poirot in the movies) voice in my head. Perhaps it was the fun I was having with the varying accents (once again in my head). I have no idea. All I know is that I was unable to put this book down. I found the plot very intriguing, and loved all the twists and turns, and was overall well written. I only have two caveats, though for some they may be enough to deter. First, there were a fair number of phrases spoken in French, without translation (though it was easy enough to get the gist of what the characters were saying.) Second, while the plot is interesting, a lot of the story gets repetitious. The inspectors interview the suspects, get all the stories, they discuss all the stories that you have already read through, and then you get to hear the theories all played out…all while they are sitting in the dining room. As I said, I have no idea why I was unable to put this down, as the repetition should have been enough to drive my inner ADD squirrel crazy, and yet did not.

Overall, I give this book a 4. If you can get past the long repetitive scenes, it really is worth it, if for nothing else than the incredibly brilliant twist at the end.

Book Review- The Rescuer

Book: The Rescuer

Author: Dee Henderson

Format: Paperback


For the last 25 years the O’Malley’s have stuck together, a bond forged of hardship and love; but now everything is changing. Stephen O’Malley is a man on the run – from his past, from the job that tore him apart, and from God.

    Okay, so I’m doing the shameful thing and starting at the end of the series and not the beginning. For the record, I have read the entirety of the series, and can honestly say they are much the same, so here goes. I remember picking up the first book in this series in high school and could not put it down, nor could I put down any of the rest, so as I read back through The Rescuer with a more trained eye, I can honestly say I am disappointed. The story is great, I love the characters, the jokes, snarky commentary, and action. The storyline flows well, and it is a decent read I don’t mind going back to every once in a while. That being said, it has some major caveats that make me cringe when going through it. The dialogue is a bit choppy and almost seems, at times, forced. While I could definitely see the characters saying what is written, the style and wording of the sentences does not match their personality. Actually, I feel like that goes for the non-dialogue portions of the book as well. It is decent, but it certainly could have been written better, with a much smoother flow than what it is. The grammar is not bad, but there is just something about the way the book is (probably that choppy writing) that really makes me cringe, which is a shame as there is so much potential.

Overall, I give it a 2-3. Like I said, I enjoy the series, but the writing style and grammar is enough to drive me up the wall (I know, not a real far drive), and I can only take it every so often.

Book Review- Me and My Dragon

Book: Me and My Dragon

Author/Illustrator: David Biedrzycki

Format: Hardback

Published: 2011

So after a long sabbatical, I am back to Thursday posts! In light of the rather, ahem, painful review of Enclave (also known as “The Book That Shall Not Be Named”), I bring to you a joyous, if not short review. The book Me and My Dragon is an adorable children’s story about… you guessed it, a boy and his dragon! Actually, it is more of a boy dreaming of having a dragon and all the things they would do together, like camping (fire roasted marshmallows anyone?), reading comics, and having the most epically awesome bring your pet to school day ever!

Having a bit of a love affair with dragons, I knew I had to read this book the moment I saw it at the library. As mentioned before, it is cute, fun, and honestly, inspiring a few dragon populated dreams of my own. Don’t let the fact that it’s a children’s book fool you, it’s great for kids and adults (especially those of us who both love fantasy and have the attention span of a caffeinated flying dragon). In a way it almost had a very Calvin and Hobbes like quality to it (if you haven’t read that comic series, you need to. It is one of my favorites!). Overall, I give this a 5 page review.

Book Review- Enclave


Book: Enclave

Author: Ann Aguirre

Format: Paperback


Growing up in a post-apocalyptic, underground dystopia, Deuce has only dreamed of one thing- becoming a great hunter for her enclave. It is a dangerous job, with wild animals and zombie like creatures called Freaks, but she has trained for it her whole life. Finally her 15th birthday arrives and her position in society is meted out – she will be a hunter. Her excitement does not last long though. Her partner is a shady boy named Fade, who may or may not have killed his last partner, and when they break the strict societal rules during a hunt, it is no surprise that they are sent on a suicide mission. Things go from bad to worse as Deuce and Fade realize the Freaks they once considered a dangerous inconvenience have figured out how to work together and have destroyed a neighboring enclave. They return home, their reports rejected by the elders, and soon find themselves being forced into exile.  With little choice the two must face their only chance of survival – going topside, a fate said to be worse than death.

 Where do I start? If you are looking for a book that will let you completely turn your brain off and just synthesize words into mindless entertainment, this book is great. Otherwise, keep moving- this is not the book you are looking for. It dawned on me as I was looking through the notes I took that there is no way I could list all of the complaints I have, which is impressive, as I only got a third of the way through before I either had to quit or cough up ten dollars to the library for setting their book on fire.

To begin, Enclave is written in first person perspective, which is fine, except in this case it was done very poorly. About every other thought Deuce has is some form of “I hope I’m a good hunter-Gee, I’m a fantastic hunter- That was stupid, I’m not a good hunter- I hope my partner thinks I’m a good hunter” over and over and over again. I understand if that comes up a bit as being a hunter was her life goal, but when that is all you read, it gets incredibly annoying.

Another issue I have is Deuce’s counterpart- Fade. Fade is the dark, mysterious, bad boy who of course does not hale from the Enclave. No, he came from elsewhere, accepted by the elders for who knows what reason, magically able to survive unprotected outside of any enclave. In other words, he is a Gary Stu, a character that generally is perfection incarnate, who, without their presence, all would be lost. See also, incredibly annoying and cliché. On top of all this, Fade’s storyline does not even make sense. He is a hunter, supposedly shunned by everyone as the rumor is that he murdered his last partner. No one believes his innocence, as they had not been partners long, said late partner was supposed to be good at his job, and, of course, Fade is the dark, mysterious character that no one really knows anyway. This would all make sense, except you find out that the partner who died was actually Fade’s second partner. Apparently his first partner was the one who taught Fade everything, had a successful hunting career, retired and died of “old age,” therefore negating everyone’s grounds for suspicion that the new guy is a serial killer.

Other issues that I have: 1) All those who have a deformity are killed, as deformities are not tolerated (the elders actually have a blind child killed), and yet it is mentioned that their only food supply is meat and the occasional mushroom. As a medical fact, Vitamin A deficiency (Vitamin A being derived from plant sources) causes blindness, and therefore, everyone in the Enclave should be blind (not to mention suffering from severe malnutrition). This book is NOT LOGICAL. 2) The evolving relationship between Deuce and Fade. After having an aloof, tolerating co-existence as partners, Fade suddenly wakes Deuce up from a bad dream and acts very concerned, asking if she is alright, if there is anything she wants to talk about  (mind you they have already had a fight about basic human principles and since then their interactions are limited to one sentence responses).  NOT LOGICAL. 3) The Enclave- where no one lives beyond 25, where their prized possession is a razor, where no one is given a name until they are 16, and their naming ceremony consists of cutting the person with said razor and allowing blood to drip on objects in order to deduce a name. 4) The fact that it is acknowledged that it takes great courage to go through the naming ceremony. 5) Bella freaking Swan… I mean Katniss freaking Everdeen… wait…what book about an angsty teenage girl who can’t make up her mind am I reading again? 6) Deuce has to remind herself to keep fighting and not admire her partner’s fighting technique while being attacked by vicious, blood-crazed, zombie like creatures.

I tried to give this book a fair shake. I really did. After throwing it across the room twice, I figured I was being too harsh, put it down, and went to bed. I picked it up the next day, well rested, well fed, sitting outside and all happy after going running. It wasn’t too horrible, until I found out its most horribly annoying tribute yet: just when the story starts to redeem itself, it pulls something so absolutely inane that you just want to throw it across the parking lot and torch it. The pain and torment of it doesn’t end, and like I said before, I didn’t even finish this book. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. It was really that bad. Overall, I give this book a 1 page rating (2 if you really want utterly mindless entertainment). Don’t read this book. Don’t do it. For your sanity as well as mine.

Book Review- The Missing Piece

Book: The Missing Piece

Author/Illustrator: Shel Silverstein

Format: Hardback


I was at the library the other day, and picked up this book without even looking at the title. It was a kid’s book, it was by Shel Silverstein, it had to be cute and fun and full of poems and such, right? Wrong. Assuming anything was my first mistake. My second mistake was actually reading it.

The entirety of the plot surrounds a circle that is missing a piece from it, and decides to go on a journey to look for said piece. It goes over mountains and across bodies of water, loses a race to a snail, and finds many wrong pieces along the way. Unfortunately, one thing it didn’t find was any sort of entertainment whatsoever. It was quite honestly one of the dullest books I have ever read. On top of that, it does not even end. Not even when it finds its missing piece. It just keeps going and going and going. I think I actually derived more entertainment from Grammar Basics For Dummies (no, I have not completely lost my mind). Overall, I give this book a 1 page rating. If you see this book, run in the opposite direction, and do NOT look back.

Book Review- Amelia Bedelia

Book: Amelia Bedelia

Illustrator: Fritz Siebel

Author: Peggy Parish

Format: Paperback

Published: 1963

Amelia Bedelia is excited to start her first day of work as a maid. Sure, her list of chores is rather odd- like drawing curtains (she was never a very good artist), or dressing the chicken (they never specified boy or girl clothes). No matter, it is what they want, and she will do it with a smile on her face, a tune on her lips, and one of her famous pies in the oven.

This book was one of my favorites as a child- I loved the silliness of her overly literal antics, so when I say this, I thought ‘why not?’ Sadly, it was not quite as enjoyable as a grown up. Perhaps I was not in the right mood for such silliness, or perhaps (but hopefully not) I have just outgrown it. Either way, while it was decent enough, it really didn’t do much for me. Still, it is not a bad book, and if you have a wee one around, it is a great read. Overall, I give it 3 pages for nostalgia’s sake (though definitely 4 pages if you have a wee one).

Book Review- Eighth Grade Bites

Title: Eighth Grade Bites

Author: Heather Brewer

Format: Paperback

Published: 2007

Eighth grade is difficult enough, but for Vladimir Tod, it really sucks. He’s got bully’s to worry about, his crush may or may not like his best friend, his favorite teacher has gone missing, and to top it all off, he is a vampire. When he discovers a journal left to him by his late father, a whole new world is opened up to him. Unfortunately, with that world comes the reality that his father was a wanted vampire, and there are some who unaware of his death… and willing to find him at any cost. Yup, it’s going to be a great year.

I was looking for a really good book to read, and a friend recommended Eighth Grade Bites. While it wasn’t the can’t-put-down-stay-up-all-night-reading story I was looking for, it was pretty good. Heather Brewer managed to capture the joys (and pains) of middle school quite well, I really enjoyed the characters, the dialogue was decently intelligent as well as humorous, and the story moved at a good pace.

Overall, I give it a 3.5 page review

Book Review- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol 1

Title: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol 1

Author/Illustrator: Naoko Takeuchi

Format: Paperback

Published: 2003

Translated: 2011

Usagi Tsukino loves food, sleep, and video games. She is allergic to anything that could remotely be construed as responsibility. So it is a bit surprising when a talking cat named Luna tells Usagi she is actually Guardian of Justice Sailor Moon. It can’t be possible, but when her best friend’s mother is taken in a plot to steal the Legendary Silver Crystal- a stone filled with enough power to rule the universe- she is called into action to not only defeat the powers of darkness, but to find her fellow Sailor Soldiers and protect her princess, wherever she may be.

It has been a while since I have read any of the Sailor Moon mangas, and I had forgotten a good deal of what they were like. I remember when I read them before I could not put them down, which is why it was so weird re-reading this first one, as it was not nearly as good as I remember. It was not a bad read, but it really did not hold much interest for me until the end. The storyline is decent, especially since it is just introducing the plot and the characters, and it moves at a good pace. I do appreciate the diversity in the character’s personalities, and especially like that Usagi is not the typically ‘perfect’ heroine. The one big issue that I had with it is that it is so jumpy. I had to go back and re-read some of the pages to make sure I did not miss something because the characters would be talking about some important detail in one graphic box, and the very next box would be about something completely trivial.

Overall, it was not a bad book, but it was not one of my favorites either. Overall, I give it a 3 page rating.

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