Friday, March 30, 2012

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This is book 1 of a young adult series.

The book begins with Thomas waking up in a dark metal box that seemed to be moving up. Aside from his name, he couldn't remember a thing about himself personally. He's understandably freaked out and a bit angry as well. Once the box stops moving, the ceiling is pried open by a group of boys. The boys all seem to range in ages from 13-19. Thomas is hoisted out of the box and his nightmare continues.

Thomas encounters a couple boys who seem rather disagreeable as well as a couple who seem genuinely nice. He had a thousand questions and no one will answer them which intensifies Thomas' anger. Thomas soon learns that many of his questions can't be answered. Where he is is a place they call The Glade. The Glade is at the center of The Maze. Why they are there, no one knows. Why supplies show up every week, a new kid shows up once a month - no one knows. Why are there bio-mechanical killing creatures called Grievers in the maze especially at night? No one knows. Thomas really wants to know.

Thomas goes through the tour of the Glade and starts taking turns at the different jobs available. He continues to ask questions and some are answered and some are not. After only two or three days in the Glade, Thomas breaks the number one rule in an attempt to help save two other kids. He steps into the Maze as the doors are locking the kids into the safety of the Glade at night. He and two others, one seriously injured, are trapped with the Grievers for the night. No one has ever survived a night in the Maze.

When Thomas and the other two survive their night in the Maze and appear at the door to the Glade shortly after sunrise, everyone is freaked out and now suspicious of Thomas. Some think he is some sort of spy sent by the "creators". Later that day, a girl appears in the box with a dire warning and then she drops into a coma of sorts. This new turn of events heightens the tension in the Glade as well as the negative feelings toward Thomas.

Soon, Thomas, the girl and the other Gladers are racing to solve the Maze or the puzzle of the Maze to get out and get home. The big question is, once they escape, will the world they find be a better place than the Glade or much, much worse?

This series seems as dark as The Hunger Games. The violence is less about kids killing kids and was more about kids getting killed as part of the puzzle. The book was okay but the plot and the characters didn't draw me in as much as The Hunger Games did. If I didn't have about 30 books to read, I would probably read the rest of these but I have too many other books I am interested in so I think I'll stop here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This is a book about people who love books. It was wonderfully written. There are stories woven within stories to create a rich fabric.

The basics of the story are this, a young, amateur biographer named Margaret Lea is hired to write the life story of a famous and prolific author, Vida Winter.

Vida Winter is nearing the end of her life and she has one last tale to tell. It is the story of siblings, twins, and secrets. Margaret Lea has a secret of her own and it will come out as well before all the stories have come to an end.

I really enjoyed this book. It is easy to climb into this story and get lost. I don't want to give too much away because I knew very little about the book when I first began reading and the journey was a fun one.

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Vampires, Witches and Daemons oh my. This is a fun novel set in modern times. Our heroine, Diana, is a historian doing research at Oxford. She also happens to be a witch although she has shunned the use of witchcraft and magic her whole life. She encounters an ancient manuscript and chooses to ignore the magical aspect she senses and looks at it from a human perspective only then sends it back into the stacks of the library where it has been undisturbed for 150 years.

Shortly after encountering the manuscript, she meets an ancient vampire. Soon, all sorts of creatures are lurking around Diana and the library in which she works.

This is the first in a planned trilogy. It is a fun book that takes a different perspective of witches, vampires, daemons and the world in which we all live.

I liked this version of "girl meets vampire" as opposed to some others that I have read. This is an interesting story and I am looking forward to the second book that is due to be published this summer.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain

The Paris wife is how people sometimes referred to the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. Hadley Richardson was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She was 29 when she met Ernest Hemingway. This book is the story of how they met, their courtship and the years of their marriage. All but a couple of chapters are told in Hadley's voice.

Mclain did a great deal of research of the life and writings of Hemingway as well as correspondence between Hemingway and Hadley and others. She tried to stay true to fact with regards to where they were and when and with whom. She filled in the conversations and feelings when her research left holes.

I had a hard time reading this book at first because I had preconceived ideas about Ernest Hemingway as a person. I kept seeing "red flags" and wanting Hadley to run away from Ernest as fast as she could. In the end, I let go of my issues and just went with it.

This book gives a great perspective of life for 20 and even 30 somethings just after World War I. The energy and freedom to do whatever and say whatever and feel whatever was marvelous. The energy of Paris and the legendary people that they socialized with was so much fun to read about.

I really liked Hadley as a character (I know she was a real person) although at times she drove me crazy. Before she got pregnant when Ernest left town for the bull fights in Spain, she wandered Paris and was at loose ends. I kept wishing she would get a job or start teaching neighbor children how to play piano or something, anything. It was a different time, though, and she had been raised in a social and financial situation where she would not have thought about getting a job. Once she got pregnant, her free time was spent preparing for the baby and afterwards, her occupation was that of mother.

The "character" of Ernest was much as I had expected. He seemed self-centered and, at times, manic and then depressive. He was in constant need of adulation and did not deal well with criticism however constructive. He seemed like he like to live life on the edge. Not so much an adrenaline junkie but he regularly needed to remind himself of his own mortality and put himself into harms way. He was a brilliant writer and I have enjoyed all of his works that I have read but there are two books that I want to re-read that I will have a different perspective this time around. The first is The Sun Also Rises which he wrote at the end of his relationship with Hadley. It was, according to this book, a fairly true account of a trip they took to Pamplona with friends and the awkward and difficult relationship strains that were going on at the time. The second is A Moveable Feast which Hemingway was finishing up the edits just before his suicide. This book is about his life in Paris with Hadley. I can't remember if I've actually read this one or just heard about it. I'll make sure to read it soon though.

I recommend The Paris Wife as a good read but especially if you are interested in Hemingway or life in post WWI Paris. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Book 3 in the Outlander series is pretty much non-stop action and adventure.

Just when you think Claire and Jaime are going to have some peaceful time together and talk about what has happened in the last 20 years of their lives, something happens.

I am still liking this series and I like the fact that Gabaldon has them travel all over the place. This book landed them in the West Indies for a time. Another thing I like is that a seemingly inconsequential scenario will come back again later in the story line. Like any good mystery we have to keep countless amounts of information at the front of our brain just waiting for the appropriate time to use it.

I know the next book involves their daughter, Brianna quite a bit and as it ended on the shores of Georgia in colonial America, it should be an interesting read. Gotta read my book club book first though.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

This is book 2 in the Outlander series.

Since I think everyone should read this series, I don't want to accidentally drop any spoilers.

Suffice it to say that this book is awesome. It continues the story with Claire and Jaime in 1745 Scotland.

Claire is also in the twentieth century, 20 years after she returned and she has a grown daughter. She has brought her daughter to Scotland in order to tell her the fantastic tale of Claire's journeys.

Read these books.