Saturday, May 28, 2016

Penny's Music Recommendations: May 2016

Better later in the month than never, right? Well, welcome back my music aficionados to this monthly series where I share the songs that I've been listening to during the month in the hopes you will find a recommendation to expand your music taste. At the start, May seemed to be a slow month for music discovery, but as the days passed, I found my music groove again. Let's get started!
  • Warning Call by Chvrches

Hehe. I hope you didn't think I would let the release of a new Chvrches song pass by unmentioned did you? One night I was mindlessly scrolling through my twitter feed, as I'm sure many of you do, and what catches my eye but the announcement that night that Chvrches released an original song for the video game, Mirror's Edge Catalyst. I listened to the first 10 seconds and was hooked! It was like a gift from the synthpop gods, particularly since I've listened to Chvrches' album, Every Open Eye, to death. This song is refreshing, upbeat, and atmospheric. What else is there to say?
  • U-Turn by Tegan and Sara

May was also the month where I learned, to my immense shock and delight, that Tegan and Sara will be releasing their newest album, Love You To Death on June 3rd!!!!! U-Turn was the first single off of the album that I heard and I liked it immediately. All I can say is I'm expecting this to be a fantastic pop album. The sound is so upbeat and always puts me in a good mood when I hear it. This may very well be my summer jam.  
  • Stop Desire by Tegan and Sara
Yep. Another new Tegan and Sara song. I couldn't force myself to feature just one when I love them equally. Stop Desire is a song that caters right to my taste for upbeat sythpop. Again it makes me want to get right up and dance along...except I won't because it's so hot right now where I live that I'm sweating just sitting here. All I can say is June 3rd can't come soon enough.
  • Cruel by Foxes
 

Ever since I heard Foxes featured in Fall Out Boy's song, Just One Yesterday, I've had a passing interest in her music. When she released her new album, All I Need, I wasn't drawn to many of her songs, This newest release is probably my favorite off of the album. It blends her soulful voice with a pop beat that keeps it from being depressing. You can even head bob or dance along to it. 
  • Youth by Troye Sivan

Welcome, dear listeners, to my guilty pleasure listen of the month. I almost considered not putting this song on here, but everybody has that guilty pleasure earworm song. Just own up to it. So anybody that spends an average amount of time on YouTube probably has heard about Troye Sivan, his channel, and his music. When his name started to pop up in some of my favorite YouTubers' videos, I gave a couple of his songs a listen and found they weren't really to my taste. Then I heard this on the Top 40 radio station on my way home from work and found myself really enjoying it.

The lyrics aren't really groundbreaking, since I've heard about a billion and one songs about embracing your youth and young love. All I can say is props to the producers. They combined some amazing beats with Sivan's voice to make this the perfect song to jam along to.  
  • Message Man by Twenty One Pilots


I think I'm really starting to develop a Twenty One Pilots addiction. May has been the month of my affair with their album, Blurryface. At the beginning of the month, I decided to give the album another listen and realized that I liked almost all of the songs. Let's just say it was a chore narrowing down my choice to just one, but I did it. Message Man seems to epitomize their genre bending status. It has this weird reggae background sound and then you get these heavy, beat driven raps. It's a weird dichotomy, but I love it. I think this is going to be the month where I just give in and buy the whole album.

Those are all of the songs that I've been obsessed with this month. I hope you enjoyed this brief musical interlude and try to stay cool during the long Memorial Day weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Epic Used Book Haul - May 2016

Well hello again readers! It's been quite a long time since I've shared one of my book hauls with you, so I figure why not now. This past weekend there was a large library book sale going on in my area with very low prices, so I decided to stop by and see what they had. Cut to me filling up an entire box with books and only $20 poorer. These days you can't even get a decent hardcover book with that kind of money. Needless to say my planned TBR for this month might be completely out the window. Now to show you how epic this used book haul turned out to be.



Twenty-one books in all. I think I'm going to have to split this tower in half so you can get a better look at the books. Plus it will make it easier to talk about all of them.



  • Spenser's Faerie Queene and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: I decided to raid the classics section when I first got to the book sale and picked these two books up. I've never read Spenser's famous epic poem before, so I snatched up this old, annotated copy. As many of you know, I studied Arthurian Literature in college, so I knew I had to have this Penguin edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I already have a copy of this in one of my Norton anthologies, but I really wanted to have a separate edition.
  •  Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan and Gimme A Kiss by Christopher Pike: Next I raided the chapter book/children's section and snapped up these two books. Duncan and Pike are two of my favorite authors and I read so many of their books in middle and high school. Now whenever I come across a book that I haven't read, I need to get it.
  • Nemesis and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie: I've made it no secret on my blog that one of my favorite authors of all time is Agatha Christie. It's gotten to the point that I've read and currently own so many of her books that I'm not sure what books I don't possess. Turns out I already own Nemesis, but that's ok. What's great is I haven't read One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and now all I need to do is get into a mystery reading mood.
  • Pourquoi pas Evans? (Why Didn't They Ask Evans?) by Agatha Christie: While looking around for any Christie books I needed for my collection, I came across this awesome French edition of Why Didn't They Ask Evans? Do I speak French? No. Did I buy this anyway? You bet!
  •  Emergency Room by Caroline B. Cooney: I decided to return to my middle school roots and bought a book that I haven't read by one of my favorite authors from when I was younger. Right now there is a pretty solid section of Cooney books in my collection.
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo, and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: That's right. More classics! I think I'll have enough classic picks to last me for months to come. Each have been on my mental TBR list, particularly Don Quixote. I read bits of the story in Spanish while in high school and I've always wanted to finish reading it.  



Now for the second half of this book tower!!
  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson: While in the children's section, I decided to buy another one of my favorite books from my childhood. Truth be told, I love just about everything Ibbotson wrote and now I'm one book closer to owning every book she's published.
  • Ovid's Metamorphoses and Beloved by Toni Morrison: Again some more classics. This time I grabbed two books that I'm surprised I never studied in high school or college. Now that I've graduated and have more free time, it's time to fix that error.
  • Cardturner by Louis Sachar: I think everybody and their brother read Holes in elementary school. That includes me and I figured why not read something else that Sachar wrote.
  • Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington and Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray: Again with the classics. When I was hunting around in that section, I found these really great editions with only a slight bit of damage. I've always wanted to read Alice Adams because I love the movie adaption with Katharine Hepburn. I had no real impetus for buying Vanity Fair other than the fact that it's considered one of the classics everybody should read.
  •  The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin: I've been in the mood for a bit of historical fiction and romance lately and this fits the bill. It has some average ratings on Goodreads, so I'm excited to step out of the box for a bit.
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton: I'm going to be honest. The cover of this book was what primarily caught my attention. For those that place stock in book awards, this won the Man Booker Prize in 2013. What I'm interested in is the mix of mystery and historical fiction. You can see there is trend in this book haul.
  • The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe: Ever since I read and fell in love with The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Howe, I've actively sought out everything she's written. I'm hoping this will be a great literary follow-up.
  •  Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: When I was in college, I took an independent study course where I read books that deal with women and the construction of utopias and dystopias. This was one of the books I considered reading, but the course ultimately went in a different direction. I obviously haven't forgotten about the book and now it's a part of my ever increasing TBR.

Whoa! Was that long enough or what? I think I've satisfied the urge to buy books for the month. Now I just need to ignore all of the new summer releases and start tackling this newly expanded TBR.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

April 2016 Wrap-Up

Welcome back readers to another wrap-up post where I share my thoughts on every book I've read this past month, be they good or bad. At first, I was afraid that April would be the month of the reading slump, but luckily I avoided that disaster. As far as April goes it was a bit of a mixed bag. I read some really great books as well as some pretty horrible ones. Now instead of rambling on endlessly, I should get to reviewing because there are so many books and only so much time before I'm tempted by Gilmore Girls again.
  • A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Rating: 

I'm going to start out by saying that I think this is one of those books where the cover is more interesting than the story. Basically the story is as follows. Grace is currently hidden away in an asylum by her father because of her pregnancy. Everything, including the excitement of the plot, changes when Grace strikes a deal with a doctor to help him solve crimes. The first part of the book dealt with the construction of madness and asylums in the 1800s, which was interesting enough to read. The rest of the book, I'm sorry to say, was boring. Even the plot twist lost some weight because it was surrounded by a bunch of narrative that I wasn't the least bit interested in.




  • Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Rating: 

Normally, I read a Richelle Mead book as soon as it comes out, but for some reason I decided to wait before picking this up. I think it was because I was a bit hesitant to see how she handled dystopian fiction. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed. This dystopian world is set in a future where religious extremists nearly caused the downfall of society and now religious groups are heavily sanctioned. As with nearly all dystopian societies, there is one nation that benefits from money, education, and scientific advancements, while the rest live life without those qualities.

Our two main characters are Justin, an ousted government investigator given a second chance, and Mai, an elite soldier whose reputation has also been tarnished. Justin is given his position back in order to investigate a series of ritualistic/supernatural murders and Mai is assigned to guard him.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it doesn't follow the usual dystopian cliches. This book of course has those elements of a dystopian with some romance thrown in, but it also has elements of sci-fi, fantasy, and even mythology. The world building could have been a bit better, but I imagine as the series continues, readers will learn more about the structure of the society.
  • Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) by Diana Gabaldon
Rating: 

That's right readers. I finally FINALLY finished this 880 page tome of a book. I started reading it last year and it took the premiere of the second season of Outlander on Starz to muster up the ambition to finish it. I'd really like to know if Gabaldon's books get edited for length because I felt like so many passages and descriptions could have been shortened. Out of all of the books in the series I've read so far, Drums of Autumn was one of the harder ones to get into. In this book, Jaime and Claire find themselves in colonial America. I wonder if anyone else felt like taking the characters out of Scotland was a big mistake because it did to me. Nothing about the setting or even the plot at most points seemed interesting. It was almost like Gabaldon is relying on the characters to carry the story. I'm not even sure if I want to read the next book in the series, particularly since that one is over a thousand pages!!
  • A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Rating: 

Just before I started this book, I heard about all of the negative reviews that this received. People kept saying the cover was more interesting than the actual story and I ignored that in order to form my own opinion. Turns out sadly all the reviews were right, except the one that touted this book was Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black. That comparison was completely wrong.

 A Thousand Pieces of You tells the story of Marguerite, a girl whose parents developed a dimension hopping device. When her father is supposedly killed by his assistant, Paul, She decides to go after Paul with Theo. Like many ya dystopian novels, the author decided the insta-love triangle was more important than this interesting world she created. I would have loved to have read about the construction of a future where accessing multiple dimensions was possible. Maybe the author does that later on in the series, but I'm just not interested enough to continue.
  • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography and The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket

                          

Rating: 

As some of you may know already, the current focus of my Nostalgiareads blog series is A Series of Unfortunate Events. I decided that in addition to re-reading the series, I wanted to read all of the companion books. I don't want to reveal any of my thoughts here. You'll just have to wait for the next Nostalgiareads post.

  • To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
 Rating: 

Now on to the "classic" book of the month. I know deep down that I shouldn't be writing this review now, right after I've finished reading the book. I just can't help it, so be prepared for a rant. As you may know if you've followed my blog for any length of time, I don't throw around the red star rating often. Sure, if a book is bad, I'll give it one or two stars. The red star is for books I hate so violently, it's hard to control my rage.

If you can remember from my April TBR post, I mentioned I wasn't a fan of Ernest Hemingway. I disliked The Old Man and the Sea, but as a whole had pretty tepid feelings about some of his short stories. I made a decision this month to give him a second chance with To Have and Have Not. Little did I know that this book has been universally panned as Hemingway's worst book. Oh boy does it live up to that claim. Ok, time for me to form something coherent about my hatred of the book.

Well...it starts out in a Hemingway-esque fashion. The setting is in Cuba and the Florida Keys and deals with a time worn fisherman. Sound familiar. This fisherman, Harry, decides to take a guest out fishing with him and this man's incompetence costs Harry an expensive fishing rig. In true Hemingway hero fashion, the guest skips out on paying the cost of the trips and the rig, leaving our protagonist poor, downtrodden, and willing to do anything to make some money. Enter the cliched commentary about the rich getting more insensitive and richer, and the poor getting poorer. Harry decides to become a runner for illegal people and goods. You know where this is going right because you can't imagine such a decision will make Harry's life better. Rather than following this decent into poverty, Hemingway decides to let his novel devolve into a deluge of useless secondary character arcs and then an awkwardly stilted commentary on money and class status. Then he finally returns to his protagonist for the few ending pages of the novel to provide some closure to this circus of a plot.

That's not all though. I've forgotten to mention one theme. One very Hemingway theme that frustrates, no dare I say, pisses me off to no end: the deterioration of masculinity. Cue gasps of shock and awe. That's right dear readers, Hemingway doesn't forget to pelt you with images and statements about masculinity. Good old Harry's masculinity is threatened because his lack of wealth makes him a poor provider for his family. Let's not forget Hemingway's disgusting story tangent that involves a rich man, who used his wife for her money and then discarded her when he was richer than her. But readers are supposed to feel sorry for him now because he lies on his bed with such large and well endowed "equipment," that is now useless and sterile. BOO HOO.

Shall we also talk about the women in this book. Nay, they aren't really women, they're objects because Hemingway can't write them any other way. One minute Harry's wife is the "perfect woman." She supports her husband and ceaselessly strokes his ego and masculinity. The next minute secondary male characters are commenting on how ugly, fat, and broad she is, even though this is the exact moment Hemingway could translate the grief she feels over the fact that her husband has gone missing. The men in this book are presented to be emotionally complex and the women...well they are objects to be described. This woman here is fat with a bad complexion and this one is a beautiful "jewess." This woman here seems like she is on a yacht having deep thoughts, but those thoughts are just bursts of short, inconsequential sentences. Oh, by the way did you notice how taunt her nipples are in the cool breeze?! Let me just translate that beauty and sexuality for you. UGH UGH UGH.

I could rant and rage for probably a few more paragraphs, but I've had enough. I still have a few more Hemingway books in my TBR pile, but at this point even the unsavory thought of book burning seems appealing right now. Time to move on.

Editing Penny here. Even after giving myself some time for the rage to settle, I'm still just as disappointed now as I was then. At least now I can have a nice chuckle over how angry I was in the moment. 
  • The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
Rating: 

I'll let you in on another book lover secret of mine: I'm a sucker for a dual narrative, particularly if they take place in two different time periods. This book falls perfectly in that wheelhouse. Grace is a 1950s housewife who lives a sub-par life. She doesn't get any enjoyment from attending social engagements or propping up her husband, particularly when she suspects that he might be having an affair. Her life is poised for change when she finds out that she has inherited a fortune from a complete stranger. The other half of the narrative follows Eva d’Orsey in the 1920s which includes the role that perfume ultimately plays in her life.

Both characters were fully developed, with most of the narrative devoted to their own personal journeys. I love character development and this book has it in spades. The ending was completely predictable, but I became attached to the characters in the process, which is what I look for in a great story.    
  • The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Rating: 

Why Richelle Mead? Why! I don't know what it is, but once Richelle Mead left the land of the Vampire Academy, her books haven't quite felt the same. Particularly in the case of The Glittering Court. The book is about a countess who decides to pose as her servant to escape an arranged marriage by joining the glittering court. What is that you ask? Well, it's a business venture where servants and lower class girls with potential are gathered up and trained to act like gentile ladies. Then they are shipped off to this book's "new world" to be matched up with men there.

Had the author's name been hidden, I would have never guessed that this was a Richelle Mead book. It has all the hallmarks of a bad ya novel. First, there is the poor world building. Sure the book designates the two lands as Osfrid and Adoria, but when you read the story, it just feels like Britain and colonial America. Next, there is the insta-love between the main character and the one dimensional love interest. Let's not forget the best friends that exist to prop up the main character and a lackluster plot aside from the romance. Moving on! 

  • Inland by Kat Rosenfield 
Rating: 

I'm going to let you in on a little personal secret of mine. I'm not quite sure I'm that big a fan of magical realism. Gasps of shock. Yep, that's right. I don't know if it's because I've only read bad instances of magical realism, but I just don't like it. Whenever a book seems to be set in a normal, everyday world and then shifts to something in the realm of the magical or fable, it's just jarring and confusing for me. That was the case with Inland. The book focuses on Callie, a girl who lost her mother when she was young. Now she lives with her father and suffers from an undiagnosed lung condition. All of that changes when they move to the Florida coast. Her health starts to improve, she makes some friends, and even has a boyfriend. Oh just as a warning, prepare yourself for whiplash when the story takes a weird turn, which may or may not involve mythical sea creatures and a sentient body of water. Maybe other people will like this book, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 
Rating: 

Ready Player One was also one of those super popular and hyped up books that I was afraid to read. Normally, those are the types of books that I end up hating. Instead, this is probably one of the best books I've read this year. Ready Player One is a ya sci-fi book that takes place in a future where the quality of life has been drastically lessened because the population has used up the majority of the fossil fuels. Now there is widespread poverty with a small wealthy class. The only highlight to this reality is the OASIS, a virtual reality that has become an ingrained part of everyday life. People create their own avatars within the system and can even attend school. After his death, the creator of OASIS leaves fortune to the player that can solve what is basically a virtual treasure hunt with clues that have to do with 80s pop culture. The book focuses on our main character, Wade Watts, as he attempts to win this fortune.

The world building in the book is solid, there is a nice balance of friendship, romance, action, and exposition, and the 80s references were a cool addition. All of the main and secondary characters were fully fleshed out too. For some, all of the pop culture and nerdy references might be foreign and alienating, but it's part of what makes it a great book and I would absolutely recommend it.

After all of that procrastination and tea fueled typing those were all of the books that I read in the month of April. Like I said, a mixed bag of opinions, but I'm looking forward to what May has to bring. So far 2016 seems to be a great reading year for me!


Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2016 TBR

Another month has come and gone dear readers! Before we all know it, summer will be here. Last I knew we were in the dead of winter. Yesterday I did a little bit of light shopping and in addition to finding the perfect replacement tea mug, I also picked up a couple of books that I've been dying to read. I figure why not now?! Here is my TBR plan for May, which may be short on books, but is quite hefty on the page count.
  • The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh

Some of you may remember from my last wrap-up post that I declared The Wrath and the Dawn to be one of my first guilty pleasure reads of the year. When I found out that the book had a sequel, I couldn't help but plan to read it in the hopes that it will have the same guilty pleasure feel as the last. The story starts with Shahrzad separated from Khalid, but reunited with her family. Now she has to maintain her relationships with her family while navigating the consequences of loving a man that many people consider a murderer. 









  • One Rainy Day in May (The Familiar #1) by Mark Z. Danielewski
After reading Danielewski's much talked about book House of Leaves, for whatever reason I didn't think about looking into some of the other work that he's published. When I was wandering around Barnes and Noble yesterday, I happened to pass by Danielewski's section of the shelf and saw this. I decided to pick it up and to my surprise the story has the same unique format as his previous book. I decided to buy it right on the spot. I don't know much about it other than it focuses on multiple characters and possibly takes place on a single rainy day. 









  • Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales
 Now on to the classic pick of the month. After last month's disastrous pick, I decided it was time for a change of pace. While I was at Barnes and Noble, I saw this beautiful edition of Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales. I've never actually sat down and read all of them, so I figured why not now. I bought the book and I plan on reading all of the short stories. 













That's all of the books that I want to plan to read this month. I'm hoping that I'll be able to breeze past these books and add a couple more to the list. Maybe I'll even catch up to my yearly goal. Here's to that!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nostalgiareads: A Series of Unfortunate Events (#5-10) by Lemony Snicket

I'm back again dear readers and nostalgia fans for another episode of Nostalgiareads, where I take the time to re-read some of my favorite childhood books and determine whether the nostalgia holds up after all of these years. A couple of weeks ago, I took on the challenge of re-reading one of my favorite series: A Series of Unfortunate Events. Since Goodreads still won't let you count re-reads towards your reading challenge, I'm a bit behind on my goal. That being said, it's totally worth it to discover old favorites from a new perspective.

This time, I'm tackling the next five books in the series and continuing on with the unfortunate journey of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny.
  • The Austere Academy (Series of Unfortunate Events #5) by Lemony Snicket

The Austere Academy is not one of the most memorable books in the series, but it does signal the point where Lemony Snicket breaks with his plot trend where the Baudelaire orphans are taken to a new guardian, everything seems perfect until Count Olaf shows up in a disguise, and then the children are forced to reveal Count Olaf's treachery by any means necessary. Here Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are taken to Prufrock Preparatory, lead by Nero, a man full of self-importance, but lacking in violin playing skill. The children start to get used to the unorthodox nature of the school and even make friends with the Quagmire triplets sans one triplet. Of course that all changes with the arrival of a new coach.

Does the nostalgia continue to hold up? Of course it does! Every book in this series seems to be a new adventure. In fact, this feels like a series marketed to a middle grade audience, with a hidden tongue in cheek entertainment value for adult readers. All I remember about this book as a child was that this was where I learned what the word "quagmire" meant. Like all of the other books in the series, this one has some memorable quotes. My favorite has to be "In the case of this sonata, Nero has apparently been inspired by somebody beating up a cat, because the music was loud and screechy." 

The Austere Academy is also the book where you realize that there is more than one story being told here and that second story involves the narrator, Lemony Snicket, and Beatrice, the mysterious woman he dedicates all of the books to. Here readers learn that Beatrice married another man, not Lemony, and her life was cut short. She also knew Count Olaf in one way or another.  
  • The Ersatz Elevator (Series of Unfortunate Events #6) by Lemony Snicket

Here Lemony Snicket returns to his usual formula when Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are sent to live with Jerome and Esme Squalor. Both seem like decent guardians, granted Esme is weirdly obsessed with knowing what's currently considered "in" by society, I love how Lemony uses her to pick on the nature of trends and fads to an extreme. Apparently, darkness is "in" and so are orphans. 

Part of what I love about this series and this book in particular is the play on words. I had a nice chuckle when I read about Cafe Salmonella. Of course my favorite words of wisdom from Snicket have to be: "There is nothing particularly wrong with salmon, of course, but like caramel candy, strawberry yogurt, and liquid carpet cleaner, if you eat too much of it you are not going to enjoy your meal." Words to life by.

Anyway, here the Baudelaire's discover that maybe some greater conspiracies and nefarious work might be behind the destruction of their home and the death of their parents. The orphans now have to stay out of the clutches of Count Olaf as well as rescue the Quagmire triplets.    
  • The Vile Village (Series of Unfortunate Events #7) by Lemony Snicket


The whole premise of this book begins with the age old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child." In a ridiculous turn of events, an entire village is designated as Violet, Klaus, and Sunny's guardian. The village seems to be ripped right out of a Hitchcock fantasy as this place is the Village of Fowl Devotees. 

Aside from The Miserable Mill, this book has to be one of the less interesting installments in the series. The characters are kind of blah and the village is forgettable. To me, this book functions as the set up for the rest of the series and the overall shift in tone. No longer is the story about the weird and wacky misadventures the Baudelaires have while escaping Count Olaf. Now they are tasked with figuring out what the mysterious organization V.F.D. does and what the initials stand for. 

This book is also where I got the sense that, like Harry Potter, this series and complexity of the plot grow along with the reader.   
  • The Hostile Hospital (Series of Unfortunate Events #8) by Lemony Snicket

The Hostile Hospital is when I really started to notice the shift in the story. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny end up escaping the Village of Foul Devotees and make their way towards a hospital. There they are mistaken as members of Volunteers Fighting Disease. You begin to notice the trend that everything the siblings run into have the initials VFD. While in the hospital, they work with a collection of records, one of which is the highly desired Snicket file. That file is said to help explain the Baudelaire's predicament, Count Olaf's treachery, and the VFD organization. 

This book has the same hallmark humor as all of the previous books in the series, but I can definitely tell now as an older reader that the danger the Baudelaires face is more severe. In fact, the book can be a little bit dark at times. On one hand you've got some funny moments where the Volunteers Fighting Disease don't actually fight disease and instead hand out heart shaped balloons. Not to mention Snicket sneaks in a little detail about how Mrs. Dalloway and Emma Bovary are patients at the hospital. On the other hand, Olaf and his gang plan to cut off Violet's head in an operating theater.
  • The Carnivorous Carnival (Series of Unfortunate Events #9) by Lemony Snicket

Just when I was convinced this series was getting a little too dark for me and I was wondering how my younger self missed all of this, Snicket draws back a little and The Carnivorous Carnival brings back the weird humor and ridiculousness. Here the Baudelaire orphans disguise themselves as freaks in a carnival to hide themselves from Olaf and his troupe while also learning more about the VFD. 

What I enjoyed about this book, which was kind of absent in the last couple of  books is that most of the secondary characters introduced are quite memorable. I don't think I'll ever forget about the carnival freak, Kevin, who is so monstrously deformed because he is ...ambidextrous. Additionally, it isn't any wonder that I was a know-it-all in school when this book takes the time to explain higher level vocabulary words in English and in French. Even the explanation of deja vu is accompanied by a word for word repeat of the first page of Chapter Five. 

I also can't move on to the next book without sharing my favorite Snicket quote: "It is hard for decent people to stay angry at someone who has burst into tears, which is why it is often a good idea to burst into tears if a decent person is yelling at you." 
  • The Slippery Slope (Series of Unfortunate Events #10) by Lemony Snicket

The unfortunate events that plague the Baudelaires continue once the carnival is destroyed. Now Violet and Klaus in a strange turn of events find themselves following Count Olaf in the hopes of reclaiming their kidnapped sister, Sunny, while also beating him to the location of the VFD at the top of the Mortmain Mountains. 

Out of all of the books in the series, this is the one book that I recalled the most about before I started this re-reading journey. I remember in middle school we had to do a report on each book we read before it could be counted towards our reading at home grade. Instead of picking a theme or a character to talk about, I decided to get crafty. I made a replica of the Verbal Fridge Dialogue that Klaus uses to decode the VFD's message, right down to including pictures of all of the items in the fridge. 

This book also does a pretty great job of fleshing out Violet, Klaus, and Sunny's each individual characters. Violet battles with the definition of what it means to be a villain and Sunny develops her own strategy of survival now that she's separated from her siblings. My favorite Snicket line from this book happens to be: " Fate is like a strange unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like." Again, what sage advice! 

I figure that's enough for one Nostalgiareads post, particularly since I should probably start thinking out wrapping up April's reads before June comes around. I do have to say that reading this book as an adult is a completely different experience from the first time around. I feel like I'm reading a whole other series of books. I think this is doing much more than affirming my feelings of nostalgia. Tune in again for another installment in the Nostalgiareads series, where I plan to finish up this rather exciting Series of Unfortunate Events!