Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples

edited by Sherry A. Weddell

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Following up on her excellent and important book Forming Intentional Disciples, Weddell gathers a few people with real world experience in implementing these new ideas on evangelization, and gets them to discuss their thoughts and practical methods. 
  • Seriously, I really think these ideas are important and vitally necessary for the Church in the West. If you're at all involved in the life of your parish, you really should read this book. (Although you should probably read Forming Intentional Disciples first. Especially if you're not involved in your parish life.)

And Why You Might Not:
  • Obviously if you aren't Catholic, or at least Christian, this book won't mean much to you.
  • It's too short. There was some good stuff in there, for sure, but it's such a slim book. I wanted more perspectives. More ideas. More things people have tried that did or didn't work. More stories.

Monday, September 28, 2015


by Brandon Sanderson

Story summary: Continuing on their quest to rid the world of the evil superheroes called Epics, David and his friends move on to a new city and a new Epic. This time, it's Regalia, one of the most powerful and intelligent Epics around, and ruler of Babylon Restored (New York of old). And while they fight to defeat this Machiavellian and almost all-seeing High Epic, David has his own agenda: to discover the truth behind the Calamity.
Sequel to Steelheart.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Plot twists and well structured surprises.
  • Excellent world-building.
  • Entertaining writing.
  • Some memorable imagery.
  • Just... a really great book. If you don't have anything against fantasy, you should really try out Sanderson's books.

And Why You Might Not:
  • If you don't like superheroes, I guess? (Even though these superheroes are definitely different than the normal ones.)
  • The characters are a little one-dimensional as well. Doesn't really detract too much because it's not the point of this book, but it's the main criticism I have.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Retro Friday Review: Eight Days of Luke

by Diana Wynne Jones

Retro Friday Introduction:

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be a favourite, an under the radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print etc.

Recently I've been on a bit of a Diana Wynne Jones kick (see my other recent reviews Archer's Goon and The Magicians of Caprona). She's one of my favourite authors, and there are few who I enjoy re-reading as much as her. I haven't read Eight Days of Luke since the first time back in October 2008,  so it was interesting to see how my perspectives did and didn't change since then.

Story summary: David has nasty, horrible relatives (they're almost as bad as the Dursleys), and a unpleasant, boring life. But one day, after uttering a curse in a fit of anger against their cruelty, he meets a strange young boy with red hair and a strange affinity for flames. Luke does not follow the same rules as other people, and with his presence comes a sinister neighbour with a missing eye, ravens that can speak, and lots and lots of fire.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Loki!*
  • Other Norse mythology!
  • Cruel relatives to be quietly defied, strange boys to be befriended, quests for unknown objects hidden in unknown places by unknown persons, and lots and lots of fire.

And Why You Might Not:
  • Not enough Loki!
  • Not enough other Norse mythology!
  • (Ok, there's quite a bit in there. I just meant that I wish there were a few more really cool mythological scenes.)
  • It's a little less complex than some of her other books.


by Kelly Creagh

Story summary: After the devastating events at the end of the second book, Isobel falls into depression and fear. And it doesn't help that the dream world that her love Varen is stuck in is bleeding into the real world and Isobel is loosing the ability to tell the difference. Or that the demon Lilith is doing everything she can to ensnare Varen and destroy Isobel.
Sequel to Nevermore and Enshadowed.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Lyrically written and atmospheric.
  • Lots about Edgar Allen Poe. If you are a fan of Poe, this is the series for you.
  • I really enjoy the romance in this series, partly because so much of the focus is on Isobel's bravery and determination for the sake of Varen, and partly because... I dunno, I actually find a romance romantic* for once.

And Why You Might Not:
  • A lot of it takes place in a dream world. As a result, coherent plot takes second place to atmosphere in many ways. (This could be a bonus, I suppose, depending on your preferences.)
  • There is still not quite enough Isobel and Varen interactions for me. Their romance is actually one of my favourite parts of this series, and I wanted more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A World Without Princes

by Soman Chainani

Story summary: I didn't make my own summary for the first book, so I don't think I should have to here either. And laziness wins again!
Beware the SPOILERS for the first book!
"After saving themselves and their fellow students from a life pitched against one another, Sophie and Agatha are back home again, living happily ever after. But life isn't exactly a fairytale. When Agatha secretly wishes she'd chosen a different happy ending with Prince Tedros, the gates to the School for Good and Evil open once again. But Good and Evil are no longer enemies and Princes and Princesses may not be what they seem, as new bonds form and old ones shatter."
Sequel to The School for Good and Evil.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • A passionate friendship is at the heart of this book.
  • Explores dichotomies like Good & Evil, Male & Female.

And Why You Might Not:
  • There were a lot of issues caused by a simple lack of communication. I find this really annoying, personally. Why don't people just talk to each other and be straight forward? It's prevented any number of problems in my life.
  • The relationships kept switching back and forth and there was sort of a love triangle and just in general too much focus on that aspect of things.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The School for Good and Evil

by Soman Chainani

Story summary: I'm very lazy and don't feel like doing a summary of my own, so Goodreads it is:
"With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie's dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.
But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?"

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Focuses on a female friendship in a non-cliched, non-boring way.
  • It's surprisingly complex, for a kids books with such a dichotomy in the title. (This book has been on my radar for a long time, but I could not get myself to read it because it seemed like it was going to be simplistic and boring. I don't think the title helps with that.)

And Why You Might Not:
  • It is still a little simplistic, especially in writing style.
  • The relationship complications caused through lack of communication can get tiresome. It's annoying when problems could be solved so easily if people just talked to each other, even a little bit. Though saying this, it isn't actually very bad in this book--it's the sequels where it really started to bother me.

Friday, September 11, 2015


by Brandon Sanderson

Story summary: Superheroes have begun to appear on Earth, but unlike your standard superhero story, every single one of them is cruel and twisted. A group of normal humans make it their mission to kill these hugely powerful people and free the earth of their evil. Starting with Steelheart, one of the most powerful of them all.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • The twist where all superheros are evil is quite interesting, and makes for a different feel than is usually found in superhero books.
  • The writing is gripping and immensely entertaining. This is one of those read-in-a-day books.
  • There are lots of twists and mysteries that are solved in a pleasantly structured and rational way. Yay for excellent plotting!

And Why You Might Not:
  • The characters, though fun, are not the most complex.
  • Anything else I could think of as a criticism is something that is likely to be explained/fixed/discussed in the sequels.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Magicians of Caprona

by Diana Wynne Jones

Story summary: Romeo and Juliet, but with kids, magic, and significantly less death. Also talking cats and flying gryffin statues!

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Inventive magic; large, quarreling families; plots and shenanigans.

And Why You Might Not:
  • There are a lot of Italian names to remember. Big Italian families with all the sisters and the cousins and the aunts.
  • It's perhaps not quite as inventive and complex as some of hers, and if you've read a lot of her books, you'll recognize a number of very common themes.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Retro Friday Review: Archer's Goon

by Diana Wynne Jones

Retro Friday Introduction:

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be a favourite, an under the radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print etc.

This Friday, I chose Archer's Goon, the short, weird, but wonderful book about a family of megalomaniac wizards trying to rule a small town and the ordinary family who accidentally gets in their way. I reviewed it when I first read it back in September 2008, but it was a terrible and very short review. It deserves better.

Story summary: The Sykes are living their ordinary family life, with unwanted music lessons and awful little sisters, until one day, there's an enormous goon in their kitchen. He demands that Mr. Sykes (an author) write two thousand words (any words) for his boss Archer. It turns out Archer is one of seven wizard siblings ruling the town and battling each other for power. And all of them, in their own ways, are out to get Mr. Syke's two thousand words.
Can the Sykes survive the plots and machinations of seven self-absorbed wizards? Will they ever figure out what the heck those two thousand words are all about? And just how does your mother expect you to practice violin when you have imaginary spaceships to design?

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Family. It's all about family: dysfunctional, chaotic, funny, surprisingly loving and surprisingly heartless.
  • Twists, complexity, originality, weirdness, chaos.

And Why You Might Not:
  • As with many of Diana Wynne Jones books, how everything comes together in the end can seem a little rushed and lacking in coherency upon first reading. This is a lie, though. She has everything work together meticulously, you just have to pay attention. (Re-reads really help clarify this.)
  • It is a weird book. And not extremely deep with the most complex characters or anything. If you're looking for something that isn't funny, strange, light, subtle, and family-friendly, then you probably won't like this.
  • None of the covers are pretty. None of them. None of them get the feel of the book right, let alone look at all interesting and attractive. I was thrown off this book for quite a while due to the unappealing covers.