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Stephanie Spines

I like dem pages. Find me youtubin' http://www.youtube.com/user/stephandtimread

Scanner Darkly (Sf Masterworks)

A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick So, my very first PKD.For the record, this is 3.5 stars, not 4. I didn't love it, but it definitely grew on me in the end, as it got sadder and Fred's character just spiraled into oblivion. It is a really depressing, somewhat dystopian novel that is set in the mid 90s. PKD's imagination really shines through in this one, and so does his personal story of being involved with substances and being involved with those who used substances. I appreciate that the story doesn't have a moral, as is stated in the epilogue. It's politically pretty libertarian in that way, not suggesting that one shouldn't partake in substances but being pretty plain about the potential consequences thereof.I had seen Richard Linklater's rotoscoped version years ago and while I preferred Waking Life (of Linklater's creations), A Scanner Darkly is a great adaptation and the cast is awesome.

The Strain (Strain Trilogy #1)

The Strain (Strain Trilogy #1) - I liked it! The writing style is a little simplistic and maybe subpar, yes. It wasn't the most shocking and unpredictable book in the world. It is nothing new, unique or dynamic. But where this book lacks in plotline, it makes up for in sheer creepy suspense. This book had me making faces on the subway, had me putting it down to collect myself - physical responses that are all good signs of excellent storytelling. I liked the characters, Eph, Setrakian, Fet, Nora and even Zach. They are all well-developed characters that again, aren't unique, but they are relatable and enjoyable. The Master is creepy as hell.For me, the stinger mouthpiece thing is probably a little overdone at this point in the Vampire game, but hey, at least they weren't sparkly. I won't join the boatloads of people comparing this to Stephen King, but I will say that it was a creepy, enjoyable read with lots of goosebumpy suspense.

I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger - This is actually a 3.5.Did it live up to The Book Thief? Absolutely not.Is it worth the read? Probably.What did I love about this book? I suppose to story is, you know, okay. I thought the premise was interesting and I found myself intrigued towards the end, wanting to know who the messenger was. Did I love the characters? Ed was alright. I liked that he was a generally nice guy who didn't really have anything going for him and was generally kind of okay with that. The rest of the characters left something to be desired, in my opinion. Audrey was just kind of annoying, as was Marv. I thought the moral of the story was pretty cliche and was hoping for something more. The twist was interesting, I suppose, but yes, I was left wanting more.

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2)

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) - I'm pretty much too burnt out from reading that to even write a review.Don't hit me for saying this but I"m pretty sure Martin could have cut out the first 800 pages of this epic. The twists towards the end were good but I wish he had smattered more of them throughout the rest of the book.There are way too many POV's in this book. Way too much naming that it got incredibly tedious and annoying. I kind of wish that the twists didn't happen so that I wouldn't have any inclination whatsoever to read the next book.

Mockingjay (Hunger Games Series #3)

Mockingjay (Hunger Games Series #3) - Suzanne  Collins Welllll, Mockingjay.While I wasn't disappointed, my enjoyment level had definitely tapered off by the end of Mockingjay. I thought The Hunger Games was fast-paced, thrilling, engaging - all that good stuff. Then, Catching Fire lost a bit of momentum though the Gamemakers' clock arena was AMAZING. And then Mockinjay. I did appreciate her depiction of the effects of all this trauma on the characters. I thought that was good. I liked the last two thirds of the book when we were right into the rebellion. I did like how they kept it ambiguous as to whose bomb it was that killed the kids and Prim at the end. Was it Gale's? Ooo. And I liked how Collins kept that cycle going really. Prim's death was very symbolic - it was trying to save her life that Katniss ended up in this mess in the first place, right?But there was a lot I didn't like!I didn't like the first third of the book. It was boring and seemed like filler. I didn't like Snow's death! COME ON! I mean, I liked that she killed Coin but the entire book was building up to Snow's death and then, when it came, it was....ambiguous and vague. Did he die getting trampled or did he choke on his own blood? BOO. HISS. Prim's death wasn't NEARLY as sad as it should have been - it seemed like filler. She wasn't even around for the preceding 100 pages then suddenly she's being blown to bits. WHY DID SHE END UP WITH PEETA. I guess I saw it coming but I didn't want her to. I liked Gale, really. I didn't like how she just sort of ended up with Peeta...Just because Gale wasn't around. She didn't really make a decision at all and that bugged me.I liked Katniss a lot less by the end. Like many others, I found that she was a strong heroine at the beginning and then by the end, she pulled a Bella and became just plain annoying, indecisive and...something else. Getting yanked around by a bunch of men. Anyways, yeah. I'll give it 3.25 stars.

Catching Fire (Hunger Games Series #2)

Catching Fire - Suzanne  Collins Honestly, I didn't think this one was nearly as good or as engaging as the first story. I found this one predictable, though I will say that the Gamemaker's arena was awesome. I've also grown tired of the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. I know this is a YA novel but where is the..sex? Is it me or is the sexual tension WAY TOO MUCH? The kissing and holding just isn't cuttin' it for me anymore!This review isn't the greatest but it's ok.

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1)

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins Well played, Suzanne Collins...I avoided this book like I avoided Twilight since it came out and everybody went batshit crazy for it. I thought it was going to be just like it, with the bad writing, poorly developed characters and overly sappy, romance.But it wasn't!I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by the first of the trilogy! I like Katniss, thought she was pretty damned badass and not dependent on a male character. I liked that. I liked that she was the strongest character. Generally, this book was completely engrossing, easy to read and quick to read also. It reads like young adult fiction, to me, but in the same way that The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak does. It's YA but it's brutal and violent and fast-paced and dramatic.Winner!

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series #1)

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series #1) - This was a really fun read! Nice and easy and light.I really enjoyed Alexis' character - a strong, quirky female protagonist! I loved her down-to-earthness, I loved her tongue-in-cheekness! I LOVED her relationship with Lord Maccon. I loved her sexuality, I just loved her!

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Modern Library Classics)

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde, Jeffrey Eugenides I REALLY enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray. You really got a sense of just how tormented by vanity Dorian really was and it just got worse and worse. I was engaged and surprised by the plot twists of the story and really loved the supernatural element. I found myself wondering if the portrait was actually changing and aging or if it was just a metaphor for how Dorian was feeling about aging and about vanity. This was my first Oscar Wilde (also my first audiobook). Won't be the last.


Damned - Chuck Palahniuk This is actually 3.5 stars!HM! I join the chorus of other long-time Palahniuk fans in saying that while this is no Fight Club, Choke or Invisible Monsters, Damned surely beats out Tell All, Snuff and Pygmy with flying colours. This seems like more of a return to old times, but not quite. The premise of the story was great and so were the characters. I found myself liking Madison a lot by the end of the story and even liking the quirks of some of the other characters and *dying* to know how they themselves ended up in hell. The twist in this one doesn't hit so hard in the gut as some of the other stories but I kind of appreciated that. Some other reviewers are saying that this book feels more mature than Palahniuk's others and I tend to agree. This story, despite being narrated Judy Blume style by a thirteen year old spoiled brat, and despite some truly grotesque imagery akin to 'The Swamp of Partial Birth Abortions', this story just feels more grown up. The one complaint I have is the voice. While the story is narrated, like I just wrote, by a thirteen-year-old girl, I don't think Palahniuk has quite pulled it off. The narration is Tyler Durden-esque with sharp criticisms of the upper class consciousness (or lack thereof). I didn't think the voice matched the character. That being said, I still liked her.AND if you haven't heard yet, this is the first in a trilogy. THAT is exciting and I can't wait to see what Madison gets up to in the next book.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus - This is actually a 3.5 star rating.I found this book to be truly engrossing. I think the style it is written in helped to facilitate that - a style that is rich in description and visual detail. It is a very cinematically-written book that really helps the reader to connect with the setting and the characters, and really visualize what is happening like a movie in your head. I enjoyed most of the characters, especially Tsukiko for some reason. The ending I thought left something to be desired. It was not what I expected and something of a let down. Or maybe it was what I was expected but hoped differently. The love story to me got a little bit heavy and sort of weighed the rest of the book down. Too dramatic and twilight-y. Still! For a first novel this is pretty great.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood I'm new to Margaret Atwood and definitely not disappointed.This story screamed feminist dystopia to me. Like 1984 for feminists. I have to say though, that I really didn't find this book too far from reality. Women's bodies in OUR present realities are seen as just reproductive vessels. It isn't as explicit and overt as Gilead but the messages that we all get from society push us to follow a path in life that leads to having children. The patriarchy that we see in Gilead is alive and well in our present realities. An important nuance that maybe I'm silly for not realizing sooner (and am sharing with hesitation so as to avoid showcasing my obliviousness) in the book was the women's names. They are all 'Of(insert man's name)'. Offred, Ofglen etc. I thought that was brilliant.I really liked Atwood's writing style - like a fictionalized memoir. It's written kind of stream-of-consciousness style which I enjoyed. I thought it gave me more insight into Offred's thought patterns and her inclination to flashback to memories of her life pre-Gilead. I liked the nuances in Offred's character. She was not perfect. Moira was my favourite character; brash and radical, like me.


Pao: A Novel - Kerry Young I don't generally go for books with writing styles like this one and I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned it in the comments section. It simply irks me when books are written in the accent that the character's speak with and it is a shortcoming of this book. I just find it annoying, personally. To be fair, the entire book isn't written this way, just at times when Pao and other characters are speaking. While the characters in Pao are interesting, including Pao himself, and the relationships in the book are relatable and visceral, I found this book flat. The plot was predictable and unengaging, and as other people have mentioned, the Sun Tzu quotes seemed a little bit forced and out of place. What I appreciated most about this book was it's intermittent insight into Jamaican politics at the time. These however, are few and far between in the book.

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury I read this book in one sitting.Bradbury, of course is an excellent writer, the characters were well-developed and the dystopian setting was great. We meet Guy Montag, a "fireman" in a time when society becomes brainwashed and drones on through their existences distracted and unable to freely think. Instead of putting out fires like the firemen we know, these dystopian "firemen", light and stoke the fires themselves - the kindling, books. Montag is a likeable character, honest and revolutionary. Sad that the social commentary present in this book, first published in the 50s, is so relevant today in 2011.

The Long Song

The Long Song: A Novel - Andrea Levy I wish I could give this book 2 and a half stars because it doesn't quite deserve 3, but deserves more than 2. I really enjoyed Small Island and figured that it would be a pretty tough act to follow, and alas, this has proven true. I found it's narration style - a la Princess Bride - to be pretty annoying, actually. I also felt that the plot wasn't as strong as I would have liked for a story in such a setting. July was a great character though - fierce as hell and strong to boot. I liked her, but the Long Song fell a little flat. If this is your first Andrea Levy book, go with Small Island.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin I don't normally read books of this genre but given all the buzz, and my interest in the television show, I thought I'd give this one a try. I really liked the narration style of this book, each chapter following the story of a different character. I thought that helped to keep things interesting and to keep the reader on the edge of their seats. I thought the character development was really great, giving us enough insight into each character to understand them and their motivations, but leaving enough to the imagination to let us draw our own (even if lead) conclusions. Daenerys was my favourite character, but she's probably everybody's favourite character, growing from weak to amazingly fierce and strong throughout the course of the book. Tyrion as well, because despite his sharp tongue and wit, the reader got a strong sense of his insecurities as well. So all in all, I did enjoy reading this book. It got a little bit slow in the middle but picked up again with AMAZING speed at the end. Well done.