Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Tim Curry
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 16, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Pages: 414
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

I am just so thrilled with how this reread has gone. I know several people who just are not into this series, and that always makes me more nervous for a reread because maybe I missed something horrible because I was so focused on the ship. But, no, I totally still think these books are incredibly fun, albeit imperfect. They’re certainly a bit busy, but they’re a delight nonetheless.

I still find it impressive that Sherry Thomas pulled off The Perilous Sea so well. It alternates between Titus and Iolanthe wandering the Sahara, trying to avoid capture while suffering amnesia, and the past events that brought them there in that state. Generally, I loathe amnesia plots, and alternating between two times like that can be thoroughly exhausting. In this case, though, the amnesia isn’t convenient (it doesn’t come back little bits at a time as needed for the plot as it does in so much fiction) and I didn’t find myself wishing the book had been written in linear order as I usually do in such circumstances.

Though, honestly, not sure how I wasn’t more angry at this book for ending where it does. It’s a pretty mean place to leave off, but all three are out now. Just make sure you have The Immortal Heights ready to go as soon as you finish The Perilous Sea. For a more thorough review, here’s my initial review, which I totally still agree with.

Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 1 hr, 14 mins
Published by Audible on December 12, 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales, Classics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Audible's 2014 Narrator of the Year Julia Whelan performs one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy tales, The Snow Queen. This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

Growing up, I had a VHS of the Snow Queen that I really loved. It was animated and probably not that great, but for some reason I found it totally captivating. It got a lot of “The Snow Queen” right, but left out some details, like the mirror.

Julia Whelan’s performance is great, but I can’t say I’m especially impressed with the tale as a bit of storytelling. For one thing, Gerda and Kay seem like very young children but also it’s sort of a romance which is just weird. Gerda also just stumbles through the whole journey, led around conveniently to precisely where she needs to go, sort of like a video game or something. The snow queen herself is rather puzzling and hardly engaged in the story at all.

It was a pleasant holiday listen but not what I’d hoped.

Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Narrator: Tim Curry
Length: 2 hrs, 31 mins
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1
Published by Harper Audio on November 10, 2004
Genres: Fantasy, Humor
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Goodreads
three-stars

Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Several years ago, pre-blogging, I read a few of the Lemony Snicket books, but then got distracted and moved on. Audible offered this one on sale one day, and I purchased it on a whim because Tim Curry and multi-voice performance were impossible for me to resist.

In some ways, I greatly prefer the audio to the print, but the multi-voice recording was not everything I’d dreamed it would be. The problem is that it’s not just multiple voices; the actual performances were really great. However, they added background noises: police sirens going by, crashing waves, and any other sound that can add to the setting. In theory, that’s great, but in practice sometimes I couldn’t hear the actual words of the book over the sounds of the background.

These aren’t my typical middle grade picks, and I do have some suspension of disbelief issues, but they’re fun and I do think I’ll very much enjoy going through the audiobooks.

Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #6
Published by Bloomsbury on July 16, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 607
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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Goodreads
five-stars

It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys' house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can't quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys' of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks' time? Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine...

J.K. Rowling charts Harry Potter's latest adventures in his sixth year at Hogwarts with consummate skill and in breathtaking fashion.

When I was younger, I’m pretty sure Half-Blood Prince was my least favorite HP novel. Dumbledore had never been my favorite character so it wasn’t as emotional for me, and I don’t really have any other reasons for that tbh. I don’t really remember my thought process on that one.

Rereading, Half-Blood Prince is definitely at the top of my HP list. For one thing, it’s by far the shippiest book in the series. Ron/Hermione is frustrating perfection throughout.. Harry/Ginny totally still works for me and I am all about surprise kisses yes I am. Tonks/Lupin is sweet, though I totally think I imagined a lot that’s not actually in the book.

What I did not appreciate when I was younger is that Half-Blood Prince is actually the book that deals with my Dumbledore issues. It always bothered me how he would swan in and fix things, after letting them get to a terrible and often unnecessary state. He reminded me a bit of Aslan, and it just didn’t work for me. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore’s weakness becomes more apparent. He’s not invincible anymore, and he has real character development here. I will forever be haunted by the scene where he’s drinking the potion.

Also, not a good idea to finish this on the plane. Not crying was such a struggle.

Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerDa Vinci's Tiger by L. M. Elliott
Published by Katherine Tegen on November 10, 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
two-half-stars

Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love.

When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families.

Da Vinci’s Tiger was a tough read for me. It’s one of those books that I both think is really good and also didn’t enjoy very much. I respect everything that Elliott has done here, and I love the window into some history I’m not especially familiar with. At the same time, this book was a slog for me to get through.

The pacing of Da Vinci’s Tiger moves at a crawl. It took me a while to figure out why I felt this way, but I finally put my finger on it. There’s no real plot here; it’s more of a window into what life was like at that time. There’s nothing driving the story forward or making me super curious where things are going to end. From the start, you know that Leonardo paints her and that will be her primary impact on history.

That said, I think the history is done very well and believably. If you’re looking for straight up history without the romance, look no further. Elliott handled feminism and homosexuality in ways realistic to the time without making the book infuriating.

Da Vinci’s Tiger is very good, but there wasn’t quite enough life in the characters to keep me interested without any sort of an exciting plot or romance to keep my attention.

2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (20): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. I agree with you on Da Vinci’s Tiger, while I was reading I knew it was a great story and the historical aspects where interesting enough but the characters never really seemed fleshed out enough which ended up making this not such a me book in the end, still don’t regret reading because of the historical aspects.
    Deyse @ Bound with Words recently posted…Dressing Up The Part: Cress of the Lunar ChroniclesMy Profile

  2. Lyn Kaye says:

    I still need to read The Perilous Sea. That is a romance I totally can get behind. And GENDER BENDING. Love it.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Garden Gazette: November Wrap UpMy Profile

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