Welcome!

Originally, I wanted to start this blog as a way to challenge myself to read more classic books and meaningful literature.  After looking at lists like “99 Classic Books Challenge“,  “50 Books To Read Before You Die” and “Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime“, I realized, much to my embarrassment, that I have read very few. (Shame! Shame!) Read More

Review of “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse FiveTitle: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Release Date: October 6th, 1998
Pages: 215
Genre: Autobiography, war drama


BLURB:

Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller – these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

Classic Challenge Review by Wendy

So, disclosure from me, right at the beginning….I am not drawn to war novels, or overly heavy stories, or biographies of those enduring horrific circumstances.   I believe I have enough stress in my own life to deal with, why would I want to spend my limited free-time dwelling on someone else’s?   And even though I like my characters and their stories complex, I avoid depressing tales, especially if those tales have no light at the end of their tunnel.  For example, I really did not enjoy “The Giver” for this reason.  I found it depressing and it left me feeling annoyed and empty.  I am also not a fan of satire.  I find that it also leaves me feeling annoyed…so you can imagine my anticipation of reading Slaughterhouse Five as our next Classic Challenge.  As part of a realistic agreement with Audrey for us both to read and review Classic books, I need to read some titles that she is already committed to reading for her AP Language class.  This is the first title we are both reading from her assigned list.

I am shocked, I didn’t hate this book!  This book, written with a pen dripping in satire about a guy and his depressing experiences in war.  Slaughterhouse Five would not normally be a book I would choose on my own, however in hindsight, I am glad I read it.  After all, our goal of reading and reviewing classic books is to CHALLENGE ourselves to become better thinkers and writers. This book was a good stepping stone for that specific purpose.

Vonnegut structured the retelling of Billy Pilgrim’s story in such a way that it was surprisingly easy to follow.  It jumps around from scene to scene in different periods of time and various stages of thought or consciousness,  but it remains consistently told from Billy Pilgrim’s point of view.  Regardless of the symbolism or irony being used, I was able to clearly picture each moment through his descriptions.  Wow! His amazing descriptions!  Common everyday occurrences as well as fantastical events are all described with serene ease.  Usually just by recounting the facts as seen through Billy Pilgrim’s eyes, the writer illustrates beyond sight and smell to include emotions, prejudices, ideals and dynamics that often can be quite challenging to convey!

Many situations had dual, if not at the very least, a deeper meaning.  The bigger picture, I think, is how profoundly poor Billy Pilgrim was affected by his experiences in war-torn Germany.  His mind is overwhelmed with the grisly images he saw and the horrific cruelty he survived, despite his seemingly indifferent narrative.  In the end, I saw Billy as a pretty regular guy with a knack for survival.  Yes, he endured horrific circumstances (as I eluded to in my opening statement), but Billy’s triumph is his ability to remain a relatable character while expounding his perception of reality. 

Wendy’s Rating: 4/6
Rating CrownRating CrownRating CrownRating Crown

 

My Book Series Christmas Wish List

 

My Book Series Christmas Wish List by Audrey

7.)  Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen .1   Red Queen .1-.2   Red Queen .2   Red Queen 1   Red Queen 2   Red Queen 3

  • Books Read: None
  • Books Owned: None

6.) The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
The Kingkiller Chronicles 1   The Kingkiller Chronicles 2   The Kingkiller Chronicles 2.5

  • Books Read: Book #1
  • Books Owned: None

5.)  Dorothy Must Die Series Prequel by Danielle Page
Dorothy Must Die Prequel 1Dorothy Must Die Prequel 2Dorothy Must Die Prequel 3Dorothy Must Die Prequel 4Dorothy Must Die Prequel 5Dorothy Must Die Prequel 6Dorothy Must Die Prequel 7Dorothy Must Die Prequel 8Dorothy Must Die Prequel 9

  • Books Read: None
  • Books Owned: None

4.) Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Page
Dorothy Must Die 1      Dorothy Must Die 2      Dorothy Must Die 3      Dorothy Must Die 4

  • Books Read: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3
  • Books Owned: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3

3.)  The Dark Artifices Series by Cassandra Clare
The Dark Artifices 1      The Dark Artifices 2      The Dark Artifices 3

  • Books Read: None
  • Books Owned: Book #1

2.) The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
Mara Dyer 1     Mara Dyer 2     Mara Dyer 3

  • Books Read: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3
  • Books Owned: Book #3

1.) The 100 Series by Kass Morgan
The 100 1      The 100 2      The 100 3      The 100 4

  • Books Read: Book #1, Book #2 & Book #3
  • Books Owned: None

MuViBox

MuviBox_Logo Dark

My husband noticed online ads for a new device that claimed you could get access to virtually every TV show and movie ever made since the 1970’s through today….without having to pay for cable and membership fees!  We were curious.  Our kids were or are still currently employed at a movie theater, our daughter along with her parents are TV series-binge watchers and previously, we owned two small-town movie theaters… Do I need to explain further that our entire family regularly utilizes cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crunchyroll, YouTube and we all frequent our local theaters.

Pennies copy

About 3 1/2 years ago, I had some crazy, out of the blue, medical issues.  Since that time I have not been able to work full-time.  Like most middle-class American families who rely on the income from both parents, losing one revenue source has been extremely difficult, to say the least!  Our lives have flipped upside down and we are still making adjustments.  We are watching our pennies a lot closer these days, so the idea of saving lots of those pennies, is quite appealing! MuViBox has a one-time purchase price and no monthly fees or user fees or membership fees! Yay!

Pennies copy

After reading up on it online and checking out other consumer reviews, my husband thought, why not give it a try…?  He ordered one and we received our MuViBox a few days later.  We have been using it for a few months now.  I will admit, this little box is pretty amazing!   Since shows are streaming and not downloaded, I was initially skeptical at how efficient it would be.  I am actually impressed.  They weren’t lying when they said they have most movie’s and TV shows made since the 1970’s!  We have found each series or movie we have searched, with the exception of a couple of movie’s not yet released in theaters…yes…seriously!  I have even found older movies that I have been trying to find to watch for our CINEMAS blog page.  Remember I mentioned that we all love our theater movie’s?  Well, here is an eye opener…when you no longer own the theater, you are required to pay (gasp) for tickets, and popcorn, and drinks!  Not only do you have to pay for all of those things, but I must say the popcorn available here locally is sub-par, the theaters can be crowded with noisy people, who chew with their mouths open, crinkle their candy wrappers and talk to their companions!  WTH? I dearly miss private showings for our employees and us and I so very much miss our yummy popcorn!  Well, MuViBox can’t do much about the popcorn, but they have greatly improved upon my other complaints.

Concessions

I feel our best results while using MuViBox have been in watching TV series.  We all just finished all seven seasons of Suits, Audrey just wrapped up seven seasons and is current on the eighth season of Shameless. (They aren’t kidding! The behavior in that show really is shameless. Great acting by a stellar cast though!) The visual and audio quality of TV shows seem to be the most consistent; movies tend to be better quality after they have been released on DVD, but that’s not such a bad trade-off considering the lesser quality box office hits available on MuViBox are usually still in theaters.  We have been able to watch some excellent movies despite no longer having our own theater.  While watching our pennies, we pick and choose which movies to splurge on and go see at the theater.  Some of my favorite recently-watched for the first time in our living-room on MuViBox have been Baby Driver, The Big Sick, and American Made.  A few other amazing movies we originally saw in the theater but have been able to watch again, but this time at home using MuViBox, include Wonder Woman, Spider-Man Homecoming and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

Wonder Woman                               Spiderman Homecoming                               Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them

We have experienced a few ‘buffering’ issues, however, we have been having other issues with our wireless internet strength.  I’m hoping after our internet provider comes to inspect our connection, improvements will be made and most of our buffering issues with MuViBox will be eliminated as well.  In the midst of connection issues, we have contacted MuViBox for help also.  Their team responded politely and have proven to be knowledgeable and helpful, although not all of our complaints have been completely resolved yet.  I do wish there was a better “User’s Guide” to more clearly explain functions, navigating and trouble-shooting on our own.

Buffering

Although it’s not a flawless system, I think MuViBox offers great value.  The cost of one MuViBox is around $350, but there there seems to be a continuous discount available on their website for $50 off, and my father-in-law found a coupon for an even bigger discount!  If you are interested in this new cost-saving tech, I would recommend giving it a try!  You can link directly to MuViBox by clicking on any of the MuViBox links in our website.  If you do choose to purchase one using a link through this blog, (which I would appreciate very much) I do get a percentage kick-back from the company, but it doesn’t affect your purchase price at all.

MuviBox_Logo Dark

 

Review of “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse FiveTitle: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Release Date: October 6th, 1998
Pages: 215

Genre: Autobiography, war drama


BLURB:

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Classic Challenge Review by Audrey

Kurt Vonnegut is known to be one of the greatest American writers. Slaughterhouse Five is one of his most famous novels, next to Cat’s Cradle. I tend to have difficulties putting into words how a book makes me feel and even though this book made me have conflicting feelings, I know exactly how to describe it.

Following Billy Pilgrim, this book is chopped up into different stages of his life, intertwining the scenes together to connect them to one specific moment, the Dresden bombing. Every moment in the book, and every person leading up to the moment of the bombing, is influential in what would be the result of Billy’s reactions to the war. The simple, but yet complex images Vonnegut writes about, portrays a world that is very much around us. Without the strategic, and dare I say, genius, composition of the book, the impactfulness of the story, would not have had the effectiveness it did. Vonnegut’s make up of Slaughterhouse Five, however subtle as it may be, heavily affected the end result of how this book and its message impacts the reader.

This book focuses on what results from the horrors of war. However, it is not that simple. Not even on the surface is this just a book about a guy that has to deal with the mental tolls the war has put on him. It is so much more than that. Slaughterhouse Five, is about the obliviousness to the truth, because the majority of people do not want to read about the harsh, unwritten facts that these men actually had to face. Instead, we take what we hear, and although we know there was more to it than what was said, we do not want to break this bubble of blissful ignorance surrounding us. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, was just a regular man before the war, but when he came out of it, he was changed because of what he had to lay witness to, even though he was very under qualified to do so.

Slaughterhouse Five, yes, is an anti war book, but it is not simply stating that war is bad. Kurt Vonnegut, not only compels his readers to continue reading, but even through the bland exterior, is able to make you think about life, and not in a “big picture” kind of way, but in a personal and intimate way that pertains to you.

Audrey’s Rating: 5/6
Rating CrownRating CrownRating CrownRating CrownRating Crown

Review of “(Mis)fortune” & “(Un)wise” by Melissa Haag

Judgement of the Six 2Title: (Mis)fortune
Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgement of the Six, Book Two
Release Date: April 29, 2013
Pages: 314.
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

BLURB:
Our world is being judged and even they remain unaware.

Michelle, another young woman with an unexplainable gift, finds herself surrounded by the previously undiscovered werewolf society. Kept prisoner for the predictions that torment her, she meekly follows orders waiting for her opportunity to run. When her stepfather dies, she takes a chance and escapes.

After witnessing Blake, her captor, grow canines, she knows he will do anything to find her. She needs a place to hide and someone to listen to her predictions so her head doesn’t explode, but knows there’s nowhere she can hide forever, and no one who can protect her… unless she can find someone just like him.

Part of the fur wearing faction wants to use her, another part strives to keep her safe. The second book of the Judgement of the Six series will raise more questions about the purpose of these gifted few and Michelle will need to fight for answers. Will what she discovers be enough to help her keep those she loves safe from an emerging evil?


Judgement of the Six 3Title: (Un)wise
Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgement of the Six, Book Three
Release Date: November 25, 2013
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

BLURB:
The dreams start and Bethi’s very normal life goes down the toilet. Reliving past lives, where Dog-men chase her and she sees her eventual tormented death, Bethi sets out to find a way to live this time around. The dreams hint at an answer. She needs to be strong enough to find it, or die…

The third installment of the Judgement of the Six answers questions, questions answers, and risks the fate of the world.

Chronicle Review by Wendy:

I decided to condense my reviews a bit since I am reviewing an entire series of six. The following is a review of both Books Two and Three…

Reading these books again reminded me of details and additional elements to the story that I had forgotten and had not really considered since the last time I read this series.

In (Mis)fortune, Michelle is a gifted young lady trapped in a horrible situation.  She is unable to trust anyone, a consequence of her unique abilities being exploited by her captor for his great financial profit and means of control.  Like Gabby, in Book One, Michelle’s actions are usually practical and come from a place of responsibility.   She has a sense of self-preservation but more importantly, her protective actions are driven by the need to safeguard her little brothers as much as possible.  

In (Un)wise, Bethi is even younger than Gabby or Michelle.  Bethi is a high-school student also bestowed with a powerful ability, but her unique ‘gift’ imposes on Bethi’s mind and body so much, that her everyday existence mutates into agony.  The potency of her capabilities influence her actions beyond any of the other Judgement’s burdens.

Each of these ladies anointed with a special power, conducts herself with a maturity  beyond her young appearance. Gabby is just starting college, Michelle is only 19 and Bethi is a junior in high-school!  They all display a level of integrity revealing a willingness to forego self-preservation in order to protect others.  

Melissa Haag is a wonderful story teller, slowly depicting tidbits of color throughout each book in the series to reveal details which will make-up her intricate grand illustration. Through the struggles of each gifted Judgement, critical information is painfully discovered to slowly reveal their ultimate purpose.  I personally enjoy the romance angle to each girls’ story.  Potentially compatible with werewolves and urbat alike, the intense bond these ladies invoke with their possible mates stirs up all kinds of action and drama. The protective instinct of their werewolf partners inadvertently brings together the Judgements, helping them break through the confusion to discover their purpose.  In a situation where only the enemy seems to have a grasp on the impending future, these unique, more-than-human ladies, are beginning to understand the need to combine the use of their abilities and endure for what is right…whichever side they determine that is.

I am ready to re-start Books Four and Five in this series, and more than anxious to read the recently released Book Six, (Sur)real. Watch for my reviews to follow soon! 

Wendy’s Rating: 5/6
Rating Crown
Rating CrownRating CrownRating CrownRating Crown

My Favorite Literary Heroines by Audrey

6.)  Amy Gumm (Dorothy Must Die Series)
Dorothy Must Die 1   Dorothy Must Die 2   Dorothy Must Die 3   Dorothy Must Die 4

Amy is a pessimistic high school student who has similar personality traits to myself. The way she handles the major roadblocks in her life is amazing, and her backstory, though sad, makes you feel connected to her. She is a favorite of mine because of her resistance from being knocked to the ground.

5.)  Isabelle Lightwood (The Mortal Instruments Series)
Mortal Instruments 1   Mortal Instruments 2   Mortal Instruments 3   Mortal Insturments 4   Mortal Instruments 5   Mortal Instruments 6

This confident and lovable character is one of my favorites because of her desire to be independent. The love she has for her family fuels her actions throughout this series. She holds on to those she loves, while never losing track on what she defines to be the “DNA” of her personality.

4.)  Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer Series)
Mara Dyer 1    Mara Dyer 2    Mara Dyer 3

Mara is one of my top heroines because of her personality. She is humorous, and although at times cynical, she will do anything for those she loves, even if it means that she will become a completely different person.

3.)  Allyssa (Reign of Secrets Series)
Reign of Secrets 1    Reign of Secrets 2    Reign of Secrets 3

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Allyssa is a headstrong girl with a strong vision of her future. She has a rash mindset because of her age, but it doesn’t make her ignorant. She is able to think things through, and try to come up with an outcome that will hopefully better all those she loves.

2.)  Tessa Gray (The Infernal Devices)
Infernal Devices 1    Infernal Devices 2    Infernal Devices 3

 The wisdom Tessa brings to the series is refreshing. Although also ruled by her emotions, she is able to logically think things through and push through difficult situations to do what is necessary. 

1.)  Rema (True Reign Series)
The Key    Red    War

Rema is my favorite heroine because of her defining personality. She has a strong image of what she wants in her life, and she isn’t willing to bend to the expectations of society. She is always willing to make difficult sacrifices for those she loves, and the deep compassion she feels for others drives her to make her people her top priority.

Review of “Hope(less)” by Melissa Haag

Judgement of the Six 1
Title:
Hope(less)

Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgement of the Six, Book One
Release Date: November 18, 2013
Pages: 315
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance


BLURB:

Gabby’s brain is like a human fish finder. It comes in handy when she wants to avoid people. Mostly men. They seem to like her a bit too much. It’s lonely being different, but she’s adapted to it. Really. She just wishes she knew why she is different, though.

In her search for answers, she discovers a hidden community of werewolves. She immerses herself in their culture, learning about their world until she meets Clay. He’s unkempt, prone to mood swings, intense without saying a word, and he thinks Gabby is his.

It’s going to take every trick she knows to convince Clay to go away, and every bit of willpower not to fall for him when she discovers the man beneath the rough exterior.

Judgement has begun…

Chronicle Review by Wendy

This is my second time starting this series.  I thought I remembered the story for the most part, but after getting several chapters in, I realized how many details I had forgotten!

Melissa Haag incorporates unexpected elements into the supernatural realm of werewolves, creating unique factors and situations within a topic that can sometimes turn predictable. In the midst of Gabby’s story, the core elements of this continuing saga are established throughout Book One. 

Gabby is such a relatable character for me.  I like that she is so practical minded.  Her actions are consistent with a girl who has dealt with the loss of her family, unstable foster families, frugal living, everyday unwanted advances and at the same time silently grasping to understand her unique abilities.  The way the relationship develops between Gabby and Clay is unconventional, to say the least, but it is thoroughly entertaining.  Gabby has more than one epiphany about her feelings and about Clay.  Some of the scenes are just funny and picturing them is quite amusing.

The supporting cast in this story satisfies and each individual serves to bolster the over-all plot.  Contending with their own struggles, we interpret each person through Gabby’s inner monologue and actions.  I prefer when all the characters in a story have strengths and flaws.  Realistically, no one is all bad, even though some stories have adversaries I completely love to hate!  Because I know what is to come in subsequent editions of this series, the groundwork is distinguishable throughout Hope(less) and will acutely intensify this saga as it continues.

The ending is a bit sudden.  I had to sit with it awhile after finishing, although it still brings a smile to my face.  I did not remember the abrupt ending the first time I read it.  Good thing, books 1-5 are currently released (Oh, and I already read them all once) so I won’t agonize thinking…”Now What?”   I am still highly anticipating Book Six, (Sur)real. It will be released November 14th!  I am attempting to review all five before I read and review Book Six after its release.  

Wendy’s Rating: 5/6
Rating Crown
Rating CrownRating CrownRating CrownRating Crown