“Eragon: The Inheritance Cycle, Book 1” by Christopher Paolini

Image result for eragon bookThis series has been on my list for a little while now. I started reading this book several years ago when the “Eragon” movie came out, but I don’t think I ever finished it. I remember thinking when I watched the movie that there were several things that seemed like they would be explained more/better in the books, but I just couldn’t make it through. I also have the second book in the series, “Eldest,” but I don’t think I’ve ever cracked it open before now.

Going into reading the book this time, I vaguely remembered that the main character is named Eragon and that there is a dragon involved, but that was basically the extent of it.

The story does follow Eragon as he discovers a dragon egg, the egg hatches, and he winds up as a Rider with a dragon named Saphira. Their minds are linked so that they can mentally speak to and draw strength from each other, which is one of the coolest parts of the plot, in my opinion. However, it’s a little weakened when we discover that somewhat random characters can also speak to Saphira, so the bond isn’t as unique as I would have hoped. I guess it’s useful in some ways for others to communicate with Saphira at times, but I think it could have been done better.

The land where the story takes place is called Alagaesia, and lots of people, places, and things have similarly unique names. I like that these names lend a special feeling to the book, like that there is nothing else anywhere like them, but there was a time when we were introduced to many new names so quickly that I started getting different things confused. Even at the end I don’t think that I could match up all the places and things with the names used.

Overall, with a story like this with a land where dwarves and elves live and magic is used regularly, I feel like there was a lot of untapped potential. Even when things got interesting and there were battles and sieges, there wasn’t actually very much fighting. Maybe because it is aimed at kids there is less fighting and dying, but it makes the whole situation less realistic. I mean, even less realistic than a magical land where a teenage boy raises a dragon and learns to use magic.

Plus, Eragon is just not a very likeable character. For his youth, he seems pretty wise, but his emotional growth was stunted at some point. He feels despair over the death of a man he knew only a few weeks, and for lives lost in battle, but he seems barely phased by the death of the man who raised him for almost 16 years. He is in anguish when the wound is fresh, and then it is barely mentioned again. Same thing with his cousin, who he claimed was closer than a brother. They had such a strong bond, yet once Eragon leaves home, he barely thinks of his cousin at all. He actually seems much more affected by the town storyteller, who trained him for a few months, than the loss of his actual family members.

One final pet peeve: Saphira is described to be a gentle dragon who is very protective of Eragon. She shows affection to him and most of his mental dialogue is aimed at her. Yet in the audiobook of this story, she literally sounds like the Cookie Monster. I can’t stand it.

Anyway, I have already started “Eldest,” so I will let you know how that goes once I’m finished.

Until then,
Maegan

Advertisements

“Someday, Someday, Maybe” by Lauren Graham

Image result for someday, someday, maybeI didn’t realize I would be back so soon, but this book was great and I flew through the end of it yesterday.

Honestly, I didn’t know this book existed until I read Lauren Graham’s memoir, but I’m so glad I read it. It has the same kind of spunky humor that kind of reminds me of Gilmore Girls and I definitely saw in the memoir.

The main character, Franny Banks, has been in New York for two and a half years when we meet her. She is an aspiring actor and has set a self-imposed deadline that she will be successful within three years or she will give up the dream. Franny is hilarious and beautiful, but doesn’t seem to realize it even though people keep telling her that she is both hilarious and beautiful. She gets a couple small jobs, but things can’t seem to pan out. Still, she remains pretty well intact.

There are the obvious love interests and the second guy who is clearly obviously perfect, but I won’t give away any of those details. Except to say that the end lets you leave it to your imagination, which I sort of like, but at the same time, give me something I can just accept so that I can move on with my life and stop thinking about the lives of these fictional characters.

After this book, I found out that Lauren Graham is putting out a third book in April 2018 called “In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It,” so I will most definitely be reading that one too. She’s just got such a great sense of humor and it translates to her writing so well. In a perfect world, Lauren Graham would both be Lorelai Gilmore and she would have already written 237 novels so that we can always get that funny fix when we need it. But three so far is better than none!

Anyway, next up (still) is “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, and then maybe the “Inheritance Cycle” books by Christopher Paolini. I’ve been meaning to get around to those for a while.

Happy almost New Year!
Maegan

 

Update: I failed to mention that the book takes place in early 1995! There are lots of things that are different, but I love what it adds to the story. For example, Franny carries around a Filofax with her and some of the pages are in the book. Plus no one has a cell phone and you have to make calls from pay phones. Different times, different times. Not that I really know what that is like, I was a toddler at the time.

Anywho, Franny is in her mid-twenties throughout, and I just really enjoyed getting to see a story about something that you don’t usually read about, especially by such a great actor as Lauren Graham.

“The Magic Misfits” by Neil Patrick Harris

Image result for the magic misfitsThis book is adorable and if I had a kid I would want them to read it. It’s written for children, but adults are allowed to cheat sometimes, right?

Anyway, the story follows Carter, who has run away from his sleazy Uncle Sly and has no parents and no home. He stumbles upon the town of Mineral Wells, where B. B. Bosso is holding his traveling carnival. In comes Mr. Vernon, who does a magic trick (Carter also does tricks, but doesn’t believe in magic) and gets Carter to his store. His daughter Leila is there, practicing her escapes.

Later we meet Theo and Ridley, both also into magic, but different kinds. Levitation and transformation, respectively.

All the while, B. B. Bosso and his criminal ways keep coming up and the kids have to seemingly stop him from robbing the town.

I like this series because I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. The kids do magic, but it’s always realistic and you can see the explanation behind everything that’s gong on. Leila is adopted and has two dads and Ridley is in a wheelchair, but it’s no big deal. In fact, we never actually find out why Ridley is in a wheelchair, it’s just part of her as a character and she does everything that the other characters do.

Overall, the book is very cute and fun and has little spots where you can teach yourself a few tricks. Plus, the book even states that there will be three more books, so there is more story to go. Apparently the next book deals with a villain who claims to be psychic, but I can’t find any information about when it will be released. It will probably take a while, since this book just came about a little over a month ago. Nevertheless, when it does come out, I will be reading it.

Bye for now,
Maegan

“Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris

Image result for neil patrick harris choose your own autobioYes, this is another memoir. This one was quite different than the others, though. Instead of just a normal book, this one is actually set up like one of those books you read as a kid where you got to decide what you wanted to happen next by turning to different pages.

I broke the rules though because I didn’t want to miss anything, so I did a bad and read it straight through. The book pretty much alternates between NPH’s film/TV career, the theatre, having kids, meeting his now-husband David Burtka, and celebrity friends. Also magic and hosting awards shows. There are some nice little sections where NPH dies repeatedly, and you have to make the determination of what’s real and what isn’t.

Overall, I thought it was a really interesting way to build the book and it made it pretty unique. I haven’t read a book like this in years and it was fun to reminisce. I learned a little more about NPH that I didn’t know before thanks to TV and “How I Met Your Mother.”

Also, Neil Patrick Harris is involved in a lot. Plus his kids are absolutely adorable. Basically his whole family. Also I would like to see him on Broadway now.

Anyway, next I plan to read NPH’s new kid’s book “The Magic Misfits” because why not, plus I still need to read “Someday, Someday, Maybe” by Lauren Graham. “The Casual Vacancy” is still on the list but it’s a little farther down the list for now.

Don’t judge,
Maegan

“The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Image result for the royal we book coverThis book is amazing. Right from the start, I wanted to devour it (Devour is also the name of a sci-fi soap opera frequently referred to in part of the book). It was clever and witty and the characters were so well done that I didn’t want to stop reading it.

The story takes place over several years and is broken up into parts that are separated by about 2 years each time. So it starts in autumn 2007, then goes to summer 2009, etc. up to autumn 2013 and eventually “present day.” Honestly, I really couldn’t tell if “present day” was just a few months after autumn 2013 or another 2 years. Maybe that part should have been clarified.

Anyway, the main character is Rebecca Porter, or Bex, who is an American exchange student studying at Oxford for a year. Surprise, the guy living down the hall from her is Nicholas of Wales, future king of England. She makes fast friends with the rest of the people living on her floor, fun is had by all.

Eventually Bex and Nick get together, some royal stuff happens, a tad bit of drama.

Through it all, the story is peppered with Bex’s twin sister, Lacey, who really likes attention and literally quit med school to move to London just because Bex was there. (There were times when I didn’t care much for Lacey.) Also Freddie, Nick’s younger brother who is all fun, all the time, but, come to find out, actually does have feelings about things.

The dialogue is funny and charming and of course, I imagined lots of things in a British accent. I never wanted this story to end.

One thing is for sure, though, Bex is a lot more patient than most girls I know, including me. This girl let a guy date her in secret for FOUR YEARS, and she was apparently fine with it. I don’t know anyone who would allow their boyfriend to openly flirt with other girls in public for that long just to keep up appearances.

The book does give you a bit of a cliffhanger, but I got the feeling that it was more of a “decide your own story” idea than a “that’s all you get” feel. There was also a bonus chapter from Freddie’s side of the story, which was a nice addition.

Now I want to read other books by these two women. I also started reading “Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris and I’m still working on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. That one is a struggle bus, but I will prevail.

Bye for now,
Maegan

“Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” by Misty Copeland

Image result for life in motion book coverI know of Misty Copeland because she made history by becoming the first black principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, and she has also been a guest judge on various dance competition shows that I obsess over.

I love dance and I used to take ballet when I was younger, so I was interested to get some of Misty’s perspective. Turns out, she didn’t have it easy growing up.

Misty writes about how when she was younger, her mother would pack up and move with her children, oftentimes leaving boyfriends or husbands in her wake. There were six children together, who were very close and protective of each other. Eventually, money issues led to Misty, her sibling, their mother, and her mother’s boyfriend living in a motel.

All the while, Misty took her first ballet class at the age of 13 at the Boys and Girls Club. She grew to love it and was invited to take classes at the ballet teacher’s school. Not long after Misty started dancing, her mother wanted her to give up dance because she *wasn’t spending enough time with her friends,* even though dance was Misty’s life. She ended up moving in with her ballet teacher and lived with her for two years. The one thing I couldn’t help but think is that I bet her mom feels pretty bad now that she almost destroyed Misty’s career.

The book also details what Misty faced in the dance world with her race and body type. Through it all, it seems like she had many things fall into place to get her where she needed to be. She was a ballet prodigy who turned down the opportunity to study with professional ballet companies, she joined American Ballet Theatre when she was 15 or 16 but had to sit out her first year due to an injury, and yet, she still had directors in the company who wanted her to succeed and gave her opportunities to get to where she wanted to be. It’s pretty amazing to think about.

Misty also got to do some pretty cool things, like become friends with Prince and perform at some of his concerts on tour and find mentors who were stars in their day.

This book wasn’t written like most memoirs I’ve read. Instead of short chapters in essay form or conversations, the chapters were longer and written like a journal almost. The story jumped back and forth between big events in her life, but it seemed like everything come together eventually. This was also the first audiobook memoir that I listened to that wasn’t read by the author. Then again, I’m sure Misty Copeland is quite busy.

She is so inspiring and I love watching her dance, so I’m glad I took the time to pick up this book.

Until later,
Maegan

“Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)” by Lauren Graham

Related imageI’ve been a fan of Gilmore Girls since grade-school, when I used to come home and watch it every day at 4 when it aired on what was then ABC Family. When I found out that Netflix was doing a revival series, I was EXCITED, but I had to make sure to rewatch the entire series first to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I had definitely forgotten things. But I finally got around to watching the original series in its entirety and then I watched “A Year in the Life.”

Not long after “A Year in the Life” was released, I stumbled upon this book through my library. But I knew I couldn’t read it just yet because I hadn’t finished the entire series. So I added it to my to-be-read list and carried on. Not long ago, I rediscovered it and decided to take it for a spin since I knew what happened in the show and there would no longer be any spoilers.

It’s weird for me to think that Lauren Graham is actually named Lauren. When I think of this actress in real life, I either think of Lorelei or I think “LaurenGraham” as all one word. So it took me aback a little to hear LaurenGraham referring to herself as Lauren in this book.

But anyway, in the book, Lauren (it’s still weird) details her road to fame, which included some theater stops and seems to have been propelled by “Gilmore Girls.” Which is fine by all of us. I love seeing Lauren Graham in movies and on TV shows. One of the next shows I want to watch is “Parenthood,” where she plays Mom/Sister in the big ole Braverman family.

I think the best part about this book was hearing all the insider secrets from “Gilmore Girls,” which is probably the biggest reason I picked it up. I also found that Graham had already published a book prior to this memoir, called “Someday, Someday, Maybe.” It has already been added to my list. And apparently she is publishing a new book sometime next year. Lots to look forward to.

Next up is Misty Copeland’s memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” and working on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. I also checked out “The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, because LaurenGraham mentioned in her book that she was working on adapting it into a screenplay and I am quite susceptible to books mentioned in other books.

That’s all for now,
Maegan

“Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling

Image result for why not meThis book is pretty similar to Mindy’s other book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).” The main difference is that her last book was written while she was still an actress and writer for “The Office,” whereas now the show has ended and she is the showrunner for her own show, “The Mindy Project.”

I’ve actually never seen “The Mindy Project,” just know that one of my friends used to watch it in college and that it has since moved to Hulu.

Anyway, the book is more of the same with stories about working in TV and being a comedy writer, but there’s a little more about dating and a little less about her early years.

Overall, Mindy Kaling has gotten to do some really cool things, including meeting President Obama a few times, but her life seems extremely busy and I don’t understand how she functions on so little sleep.

I noticed that the book has some humor, but it’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as a few others that I’ve read. Still has good moments.

This book was a pretty quick read, and it made me add B.J. Novak’s books to my to-be-read list, but there are still quite a few in front of that. I’ve already started “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and “God” by Reza Aslan, and I have a few more lined up after that, so my mindset is I’ll get to it when I get to it.

More on that later,
Maegan

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling

Image result for is everyone hanging out without me book coverI really didn’t know much about Mindy Kaling until I started watching “The Office,” and even now I’m only a couple seasons in. I didn’t know this, but in addition to playing the role of Kelly Kapoor, Mindy Kaling also wrote several episodes. Also, according to the internet, her birth name is “Vera Mindy Chokalingam.” I wonder where Kaling came from. That was not explained.

What was explained covered a whole range of topics, from early life to college to New York to Los Angeles to “The Office” to body image to Mindy’s funeral. It was a little all over the place but I also feel like it gave you a good sense of how she is in real life.

This book is pretty short, so it only took a couple days to make it through. One thing I’ve started to notice as I read all these memoirs is that all the famous funny people seem to know each other. Mindy is good friends with B.J. Novak and Ellie Kemper, and she once worked with Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler. She was also an intern on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

It’s funny, some of the things that Mindy mentions now that this book has been out for a few years. For instance, in a segment about franchises she would like to reboot, she specifically states that she would like to make another Ghostbusters movie with women as the crew. Which has now happened. I wonder how Mindy feels about this. Maybe she’ll write another book about that.

One thing I noticed in switching back and forth between the ebook and the audiobook is that the audiobook has places sprinkled in where just a word or two is different than the print book. I don’t know if they’re different versions or if it’s just what Mindy wanted to say when she was reading but I saw a couple direct quotes that were totally different between the two and it was not addressed at all.

Anyway, I have my next five books lined up now and you are not allowed to judge me.

On to that,
Maegan

“My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares

Image result for my name is memory reviewAdmittedly, I did not finish this book as quickly as I would have liked. But alas, here we are. I was so excited to read all the Ann Brashares books after I started on the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” books but I think I just slowed down a little with the other books I was reading or listening to on audiobook. There’s still one more though, so I have to start that one soon.

Anyway, this book is about Daniel, who has the memory, which means that he remembers all the lives his soul has lived, dating back more than 2,000 years. Through it all, he falls in love with the same woman every time, but she doesn’t remember him from one life to the next. Most people don’t, but Daniel has the gift. In this life, it’s 2004 and we’re in Virginia. Daniel’s lady friend is named Lucy, although he refers to her as Sophia since that was the first name he knew her by, and they are seniors in high school. They have a brief interaction before parting ways, and the story doesn’t pick up again for a few more years. Through it all, the chapters are intermixed with Daniel’s point-of-view along different time periods in different places that he has lived.

While the story mostly focuses on Daniel and Lucy, there are a few recurring characters, like Lucy’s best friend and Daniel’s friend Ben who also has the memory and the main antagonist in the story. (Can’t give too much away.)

There’s not a lot of drama or action until the end of the book, but it still keeps you interested throughout. Although, there are a few moments when you just think, “Dang, Lucy is making poor choices.” But I think Daniel makes a few poor choices along the line too.

Upon further research, I discovered that this book is meant to be part of a trilogy, which explains why the ending was TERRIBLE. Without letting too much slip, there are SO MANY unanswered questions. Did the bad guy get taken down? Did they good guy do what he was supposed to do? Did the thing happening at the monastery ever happen? Why are a certain character’s family not concerned?

According to the internet, Ann Brashares’ publisher put a lid on the next two books but as of her Twitter in December of 2015 she is working on getting the rights so that she can continue the story. I would definitely read it once that happens.

One thing that bothers me about this story and these characters is how much Lucy and Daniel are willing to give up for just each other. I mean, their entire lives mean nothing obviously because they are ready to just throw in the towel and start over. No mind to their family or friends or school or jobs. It’s especially selfish of Lucy, whose parents have already been through putting one daughter in the ground.

I digress. I actually just found out this book is written for adults, but other than the discussion of a few *intimate acts,* I would have had no idea. It seems like even when Ann Brashares writes adult books, her characters are still pretty young. The oldest Lucy gets in this book is probably 23 or 24, which is a similar age to the main characters in Brashares’ other adult book, “The Last Summer (of You and Me).”

Next up is “The Whole Thing Together,” which is Brashares’ newest book. At the same time, I started “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and I began the audiobook of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling, and I’m pretty excited about those two.

Until next time,
Maegan