The First Draft of Anything

Welcome to my literary adventures!

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Okay, so I’m gonna admit something. I went to probably  four (ha!) different bookstores and looked through every display copy of this book to see if I could find one of the ones autographed by the author. I was unsuccessful. But, despite not being autographed, this collection of short stories was perfect to read in between all my classes. You can check it out here.

Rating: [4/5]

Summary: This collection features four short stories either leading up to and including the events of Divergent. All of the stories are told from Four’s perspective. They feature Four dealing with his life in Abnegation, the process of his initiation to Dauntless, and his discovery and handling of the deeper political connections that tie the factions together. Including with the book are a few short scenes from Divergent retold from Four’s perspective, including meeting Tris for the first time.

Likes: I really enjoyed this book, for several reasons. First, I loved getting a deeper sense of Four as a character. He has such a complex, interesting backstory and it was nice to be able to explore that a little more through these stories. I also liked getting to see more of how the politics in this world work and how the factions function politically.

Dislikes: The book really had no overarching plot that bound them together. Each one stood alone. This left me feeling a little unsatisfied and lacking when I finished the book, especially because the scenes retold from Divergent are at the end. It was just a little jarring for me as a reader.

TL;DR: I would definitely read this book if you are a fan of the Divergent series, especially if you were a little disappointed with the way the series ended.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

So if you haven’t figured it out already, I love Rainbow Rowell. Three of her books I read in a single day. In fact, Landline is the only one I haven’t and it’s not because I didn’t want to. My Responsibilities and Obligations are what prevented me from reading it all in one sitting. It’s an incredible book, especially for those of you out there that are married. You can check it out here.

Rating: [4/5]

Summary: Georgie has finally gotten her big break–the chance to get the show she’s been working on for years with her best friend on the air. The only problem is that working on it requires her to miss flying out to Nebraska for Christmas with her husband and two daughters. When her family leaves for the holidays with things left unresolved between the couple, Georgie can’t take it. She calls him. A lot. And he doesn’t answer or return her calls. But then, Georgie reaches him through the old yellow landline. However, the husband she’s talking to on the landline is her husband in the past. With this, Georgie is left to fix things between them, or make sure they never get married at all.

Likes: I love the characters in this book, especially Georgie and Seth, her best friend. It was hard for me to get behind Neil, her husband, for a while. The writing is also really funny while simultaneously being really heart-wrenching. Plus, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. Just saying.

Dislikes: I personally didn’t mind it, but the plot might be a little slow for some people. I think it’s just about personal preference.

TL;DR: If you like books that are sweet, funny, and sad at the same time, you have to read this book.

Dark Passage by Ridley Pearson

I know it’s been a long time since I last posted. After I had surgery and read four books in the span of a week, I just hit this really bad reading slump and couldn’t bring myself to pick up a book. And then school started. But I finally finished this one, so hopefully that means my slump is officially over. You can check out Dark Passage here.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary: The Kingdom Keepers are still aboard the Disney Dream, a cruise ship set to sail from Disney World to Disneyland. As they rush to stop the Overtakers from reviving Chernabog, they also have to deal with stowaways, the Fairlies, and even blossoming romance. Exploring the exotic jungles of South America, they discover clues as to where and when the Overtakers will unleash their biggest plan yet. What’s more chilling is the fact that, according to Maleficent, one of the Keepers will die.

Likes: I liked all the history of Chernabog and how Walt Disney developed him from various South American myths and legends. Finding clues about him while on the cruise was a really interesting way to have fact meet fiction.

Dislikes: This book was really hard for me to get into. It just couldn’t capture my attention. There were also some pretty major grammatical errors, which made it harder to get into the story. Plus, I found the ending to be quite underwhelming.

TL;DR: If you’re a fan of the series, you should read this. However, if you’re on the fence about the series, I would say to skip it.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I got one step farther in my collection of Sherlock Holmes stories this week. The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably Doyle’s most famous work. You can check it out here.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are hired by Henry Baskerville to investigate the death of his uncle, Sir Charles Baskerville. The family is haunted by legends of a terrifying hell-hound, and Charles’s body was discovered without a mark on it in the presence of paw prints.Though Henry is ready to inherent the estate, he is afraid the old rumors are true and that the hound might come for him next.

Likes: This story is definitely one of the darker, creepier Sherlock Holmes stories. It was almost like a ghost story. The scene of the climax–where the killer is caught in the act–is definitely the best.

Dislikes: For whatever reason, I had a difficult time really getting into this story. That’s probably just a matter of personal preference, however. 

TL;DR: I would recommend this if you are a fan of mystery and classic literature, or a Sherlock Holmes junkie.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I’m going to be really honest and say that I didn’t really know anything about Eleanor & Park before I bought it. I thought it was just another fluffy YA novel. I was so, so, so wrong. I ended up buying the book as a reward for getting surgery. Since it was the same price, I bought the gorgeous Barnes and Noble collector’s edition, complete with fan art. You can check out Eleanor & Park here.

Rating: [5/5]

Summary: The year is 1986, and Eleanor is a little different from the rest of the kids on the bus. She has just moved back in with her mother, stepfather, and siblings after spending a year away from them. Everything changes for her when she gets caught reading Park’s, the kid who sits next to her on the bus, comic books. He starts lending them to her, and then making her mix tapes. Park is her escape from her impossible situation at home. Her stepfather can never find out about Park. If he does, her whole family could be in danger.

Likes: First of all, the relationship between Eleanor and Park is beautiful and realistic. They’re both remarkably selfless, and selfish at times. Like real people. It’s obvious that the author did her research about the effects of living in an abusive family. The author also worked in a lot of pop culture references that I really enjoyed. 

Dislikes: These aren’t so much dislikes as they are a warning. This book, though it is technically YA, deals with very mature themes of physical and sexual abuse. It also frustrates me that the ending is so, well, open-ended. But from a writer’s standpoint, I appreciate why she ended it the way she did.

TL;DR: I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, unless you are triggered by instances of physical and sexual abuse. I could definitely see this book becoming a classic in the future. 

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A couple of years ago, I managed to snag this really nice hardback copy of all of the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories. It could probably be used as a murder weapon; it’s so big and heavy. And–this is the best part–it was only $6. I read about half of it before I got burnt out. I picked it back up again this week and finished off The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which you can check out here.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary: This book is actually a collection of short mystery stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The first story attempts to explain how Sherlock managed to survive his encounter with Moriarty from the last book. After that, the stories all stand alone as individual mysteries.

Likes: I obviously like the relationship between Sherlock and Watson. It’s classic. It’s also really interesting to see how the modern mystery story archetype was established. Plus, reading Sherlock Holmes stories is a great way to cope with the Sherlock hiatus. Just saying.

Dislikes: If you’ve read one Sherlock Holmes story, you’ve pretty much read them all. I’m not a big fan of mystery as a genre in the first place, so reading story after story with the same overall plot got really repetitive.

TL;DR: If you love mystery or classic fiction, Sherlock Holmes is a must. And, if you’re looking for a way to survive until the next episode of the BBC show airs, why not try a little original Sherlock?

Shell Game by Ridley Pearson

I’m cooped up in the house on bed rest for the week, so a lot of reading should get done during this time. A lot. Since it’s the season of vacations and beaches and cruises, what better book to read than Shell Game? You can check it out here.

Rating: [3/5]

Summary: Shell Game kicks off with the Kingdom Keepers getting ready for the launch of the DHIs aboard the Disney cruise ships. To celebrate this inaugural journey, they will travel on a cruise from Florida to California. However, the Overtakers use this as an opportunity to take their cause to Disney Land. Not only do the Keepers have to locate and disable the Overtakers’ server aboard the ship, but manage to protect Disney World while they are away.

Likes: I enjoyed that they’re introducing more characters, instead of just focusing on the five Keepers and the two Fairlies. They Cast Members and Disney characters are becoming more involved as well, which makes for an interesting dynamic. The plot also seems like it’s starting to go somewhere.

Dislikes: The author is making Finn out to be a massive man-whore (pardon my French) by making him kiss three different girls in the same book. Most of the incidents kind of came out of nowhere, so it feels like the author is trying to create tension for the sake of tension.

TL;DR: Definitely read this book if you’ve read the rest of the series, or have a love of all things Disney.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

l picked this book up for a steal at Half-Price Books. I’ve always had a soft spot for the writings of the Lost Generation, so aptly named by Gertrude Stein. And, since it’s the beginning of summer, figured I’d start out with this book. You can check it out here.

Rating: [3/5]

Summary: Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises centers on the frantic and disillusioned lifestyle of post-WWI. The protagonist, Jake Barnes, is hopelessly in love with Lady Brett Ashley. She loves him back, but is engaged to another man. She also insinuates that Jake’s old war wound renders him impotent, and that’s why they can’t be together. Jake bounces from party to party, eventually taking a vacation to Spain with a group of friends. Brett takes several lovers within Jake’s circle of friends, and he eventually has to rescue her from a bull-fighter.

Likes: I really enjoy Hemingway’s short, concise writing style. It’s very fresh and to the point. I also loved the portrayal of the life of the expatriates of the 1920s.

Dislikes: There were some racial slurs which bothered me. However, the book was written in 1926 and, unfortunately, is a product of its time. There isn’t much of a plot either, which might deter some readers.

TL;DR: This book is a must for any reader of classic fiction. l highly recommend it.

Power Play by Ridley Pearson

I read this book in two sittings over Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, it rained the entire weekend and my husband worked late because of inventory, so it wasn’t all that exciting. I did, however, go to the sale at Half Price Books. My haul will probably be the subject of a future post. I mean, who can resist 20% off?

Rating: [3/5]

Summary: On a regular morning in Disney World, the Kingdom Keepers get caught up in the Overtakers’ latest scheme: to break out Maleficent and Chernabog. The Overtakers are getting bolder; not only to they create DHIs for themselves, but they put spells on other kids–including some of the Keepers themselves. In order to stop the Overtakers, the Keepers must enlist the help of the other park characters.

Likes: The author’s writing style really seemed to mature in this book. The other books always felt a little juvenile to me, but this time, the characters felt like actual teenagers. I also like how he brought in the other Disney characters. I’ve been waiting for that to happen since the first book.

Dislikes: This book really didn’t seem to have much of a cohesive plot. I spent a lot of the story trying to figure out what was actually going on.

TL;DR: Read this book if you like Disney or if you like the rest of the series.

A Sort of Adam Infant Dropped: True Myths by R. Scott Yarbrough

I was lucky enough to take a Creative Writing class from the author during this past semester at school. I first heard him speak a year before that, however, at the Spring 2013 induction of my school’s English honor’s society. He spoke about writing, and about poetry. And I knew at that moment that I needed to take a class from him before I transferred. His passion for poetry and for writing is so obvious, it’s almost tangible. He taught me so much in the semester I spent with him, and went above and beyond to help me with my writing. You can check out his book of poetry here.

Rating: [4/5]

Summary: The theme of this book is mythology. The first part of the book centers on personal myths, stories from within the author’s own family. The second half focuses on universal myths, stories and ideas that are more applicable to everyone. His poems are typically in a more prosaic style and are filled with imagery and wit.

Likes: Some of my favorite poems of the book are “Ketchup,” “A Necktie and a Hijab,” “Up on the Roof,” “Because I Wrote it Down,” and “She Said It Might Improve our Marriage if I Vacuumed.”

Dislikes: There were a couple of poems that were hard for me to get into or that I didn’t really understand, but in a book of 97 poems, those were very, very, very few.

TL;DR: I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys poetry. The author has a very unique voice and style, and a passion for writing like no other.


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