“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

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“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.

“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

“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

“Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

Library-of-Souls.jpgThis story keeps right on trucking, into villainous territories and treacherous time loops. Just like “Hollow City,” this book picks up as if the last one never ended, and the whole things only spans a couple of days.

That’s one thing I like about these books. I don’t feel like anything has been left out. Usually when you read a book, the characters say two sentences to each other and then magically discover that hours have passed, but Ransom Riggs is excellent at explaining where the time has gone.

There are more unusual photos throughout the book. It’s kind of fascinating to think that the author built his story and his characters around these collectors’ treasures. Even though I thought they were creepy at first (and some of them still are pretty creepy), I feel now that the pictures are mostly just interesting and they make you take a second look.

Anyway, our heroes find themselves in Devil’s Acre, which is basically the time loop that outcast peculiars go to. The wights have taken over and are conducting horrible experiments on peculiars. The ymbrynes have all been captured and it’s up to two kids and a talking dog to save them. Seriously.

Of course, there’s backup from new characters who may or may not be trusted. Jacob discovers some powers he didn’t know he had, teenage romance ensues, etc., etc.

The group is split up at the beginning of the book, so for almost half the story we don’t know what’s going on with a majority of the secondary characters. I’m still upset over why Jacob was able to make his way to the present without Miss Peregrine, because that was never explained, unless you could Emma’s hypothesizing, which I don’t.

Eventually, the gates are stormed, a battle is waged, but I can’t give everything away. Jacob is reunited with his parents, who consider him certifiably insane and try to ship him off to a *treatment facility.* That part of the book actually made me angry. I know he’s spouting crazy stories, but the fact that his parents and therapist wouldn’t listen to him or let him get a word in edge-wise AND they stole his mail, it made my blood boil and I wanted to jump into this book just to smack them all.

Other than that, the story ended pretty nicely with a happy conclusion. Only thing I’m wondering about is why Ricky was even a part of the story at all. He was Jacob’s “only friend,” yet they had one spat and he was never seen nor heard from again. I guess he was replaced by the peculiars.

Too bad for him,
Maegan

“Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

hollowcity_final_300dpi.jpgBack so soon. The second book in the series, “Hollow City” picks up right where “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” left off, and the whole book takes place within just a few days. Even so, the peculiars meet many new faces and see many new places (and times).

When the last book ended, the ymbrynes were being captured by the evil wights, but the children managed to save Miss Peregrine. Then they set off on a scavenger hunt-type mission to find another ymbryne who they believed had escaped the wights, Miss Wren. Through it all, the peculiars (literally a band of children with special abilities) manage to evade capture all while blatantly demonstrating and discussing their abilities to anyone who happens to be near. I guess that’s the magic of fiction.

Like I said, the entire story spans only about five days, and the first book happened only over about two and a half weeks. And yet, main character/narrator Jacob is already professing his love to *other character* and literally choosing to leave the present, his family, and all he’s ever known to be with her. After three weeks. Dude. Stop letting your hormones do the talking.

Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed is that the peculiars tend to look to Emma to make all the decisions. Seems like it would get exhausting, but she handles it like she’s been doing this her whole life. It just makes me feel like Ransom Riggs is putting too much emphasis on this one girl, while the rest of the peculiars just wander around in the background.

Just when I was starting to wonder about how all these kids were traveling from time to time without messing up the future, Ransom Riggs tied up that loose end nice and tight. Usually, books about time travel harp on the fact that you can’t mess with the past because it will screw up the future, but in this universe, if you mess with the past then it will just heal itself some other way. I would have liked to see this in action, but it was just mentioned in passing, seemingly to keep questions about it from cropping up later.

By the end of the book, the peculiars have gotten out of one mess just to dive right back into three more and we’re left with a ton of questions, but they weren’t meant to be answered yet. It’s pretty clear that this series is written as one giant continuous story, across all three books, which I love.

I’ve already started the third book, “Library of Souls,” and I’m excited to see how the story ends.

I’ll tell you what I find out,
Maegan

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

Related imageThis book has been on my radar for a while, but honestly, I was a little scared to pick it up. The covers of this series are pretty creepy and I really didn’t know what to expect, but I figured it if was in the young adult section then it couldn’t be just outright horror-filled. And it wasn’t, just some startling photos sprinkled here and there.

Miss Peregrine is a woman/ymbryne who watches over “peculiar” children, which are kids who have special abilities thanks to genetics or some such. Emma can create fire with her hands, Millard is completely invisible, Olive can lift right off the ground if she is not weighted down, and Hugh has bees living in his stomach. There are a few others too, and they have all been living in Miss Peregrine’s time loop, where it is always September 3, 1940, over and over again.

Enter Jacob Portman who discovers the peculiars after his grandfather whispers a cryptic message to him on his final breath. Jacob and his dad travel to a mysterious island that used to be home to Grandpa where Jacob tries to find clues as to his grandfather’s early life. He stumbles upon Emma and Millard and follows them right back into the time loop.

By the end of the story, the kids are being hustled off the island while hollows (super evil death creature things that prey on the blood of the peculiars) and wights (basically a hollow’s sidekick) chase after them and attempt to kidnap Miss Peregrine.

It’s a very interesting book and I think the use of old photos is really effective throughout, even though some are a little creepy.

I’ve already started the second book in the series, “Hollow City.” It’s longer than the first but now that I’m invested in the series I’m excited to find out what happens.

For now,
Maegan

“Sisterhood Everlasting” by Ann Brashares

This next book in the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series is actually set about 10 years after the fourth one. Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget are still besties, but their lives have been going in different directions. Lena is in Rhode Island, Carmen’s in New York, Bridget is in California, and Tibby moved to Australia on the fly.

One of the biggest surprises to me is that three of the four girls are still involved with their original love interests, which developed when they were teenagers. None of them are married, even though they are 29 and two of them have been in relationships for more than a decade.

Anyway, only a couple new characters are introduced, such as one character’s new man and Eudoxia, who Lena spends time with to practice her Greek. I actually think there are more new places than new people, even though the old places are mentioned plenty too.

On a totally different note, I think that Ann Brashares is the angel of death because every book by her that I’ve read so far has at least one family that’s been affected by a tragedy, and this one is no different. Granted, this one gives you a one-two punch because there’s a death you didn’t expect that’s kind of glossed over, and then there’s a death you REALLY didn’t expect that is focused on for the rest of the book. But even though it’s sad, it’s also happy in that the girls actually seem like they’re figuring out what they want by the end of the story. Which is weird considering they’ve had this long so far and they’ve been doing pretty bad at it.

Today I picked up “My Name is Memory,” the next book written by Ann Brashares, from the library, so I will probably start it soon. I also started “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs today, but I’m only on chapter 2 so far.

But that’s all for now,
Maegan