Book reviews of Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.
The adventure began in a fading town. Far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket started an apprenticeship for a secret organization shrouded in mystery and secrecy. He asked questions that shouldn’t have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not be published that shouldn’t be read. Not even by you. Seriously, we recommend that you do NOT ask your parents for this, the first book in his new ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS series.
Lemony Snicket, in case you don’t already know, grew up to be the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events series.
As with A Series of Unfortunate Events, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but it was an enjoyable read anyway. I adore Lemony Snicket’s writing style; it’s very unique and whimsical.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as A Series of Unfortunate Events, but I have yet to finish this series (All the Wrong Questions).
The main character, Lemony Snicket, narrates the book like an old black-and-white detective show, which I like. The book also has the perfect level of absurdity, making it all the better.
I love reading prequel and spin-off series because it’s fun to see more of the minor character’s lives, but it’s unfortunate that most of the time, spin-offs are never quite as good as the original. Luckily, this was not the case for All the Wrong Questions and I highly recommend it for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story.
I don’t usually read memoirs, or nonfiction in general, but this book was amazing nonetheless.
I’m not really sure how to go about reviewing a nonfiction book because there’s no way to really change the plot. I can’t say “the plot should’ve been stronger” because there’s only one way the plot can possibly be.
The story was captivating. Reading this book was like living a life completely different from my own, yet Walls somehow made it relatable. The most intriguing aspect for me is that despite the fact that Walls’s parents were unrefutably irresponsible parents, Walls loved them all the same and this was made obvious through her writing. I am envious of Walls’s ability to convey emotion through her writing. This is an amazing book and I highly recommend it.
(I do wish her siblings were more detailed, especially Lori and Maureen.)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman || 4/5
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
This book is hard to read. Not in that it covers a heavy topic, but in that the writing itself is difficult to comprehend. Spinette got me this book for my birthday (but she has yet to read it. I’m glaring at you) and I first read it two years ago. Two years ago, most of the book went over my head and I barely had any idea of what was going on. Likewise, I didn’t continue the series. I’m happy to say that my reading ability has improved since then and I both understood and greatly enjoyed this book. (Although I still recommend reading it with a well-stocked dictionary on hand.) Once you understand what is being said, you’ll realize that the writing in this book is gorgeous. It’s easily one of the best examples of prose I’ve read. I’d recommend it just for the writing. The plot is lovely, but it’s far from “action-packed”. There were many tense scenes, but no action scenes involving the main character. The plot was heavy on politics. The characters were lovely and the minor ones were adequately developed. Overall, I highly recommend this unique book.
- To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (reread)
- Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
- Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
- When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket
- Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
- Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
- Furyborn by Claire Legrand
- The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen