Monday, July 30, 2007

A Couple Of So-So Reviews

My blog came up for review today over at the Review My Blog website and Diva Dee's review just cracked me up! She gave me an 8 out of 10, which is fine by me, but really didn't do much of a review, which I understand. She admitted that she wasn't very familiar with the subject matter of my blog and it didn't appeal to her so she couldn't give it an honest review, and I thought that was fair. I love the fact that my Dave McKean header scared the hell out of her! Her main criticisms were that she didn't find my blog visually appealing...I feel that's all in the eye of the beholder...personally I like the look of my blog, though I know it's nothing flashy. I've always been a fan of black and a fan of less is more. So she wasn't a fan....that's fine with can't please 'em all!

Back to books! I finished Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi for the Newbery challenge and I really just didn't like it. Not that it was a bad book, I just couldn't connect with it and it didn't do much for me. I know there are lots of Avi fans out there, but I'm not sure if I would be one of them. I'll give him another shot though...maybe this just wasn't the right one for a first read. It's basically about a boy who lives in a very small town in the 14th century who doesn't know who his father was and who's mother has recently died and has left him a cross made of lead. The cross has writing on it which he cannot read since he can't read or write. But what's written on the cross is a clue to his true identity. He lives the life of a servant and suddenly has his life at risk as he has been declared a wolf's head (a person less than human who should be killed) after his mother's death. He doesn't know why someone wants him dead. He meets a jester by the name of Bear who helps protect him and takes him on as an apprentice and the book reads as Crispin's account of all of this. The religious aspect of the book was a bit overkill. I have no problems at all with religious themes, it was just way overdone here. I also wasn't a fan of the writing style and the story just didn't captivate me. Oh well.

This year started out so good for me with books. Now I seem to be running into a couple of duds here and there. Lets hope that I get back into a good streak again soon!


Kim said...

I too had to crack up reading the review of your site. It's always interesting to see an outside take on things that we're familiar with. It looks like Nymeth and Carl are up for review soon, so I'll be checking that site again, possibly for more chuckles.

It's always a shame when a book falls flat. Hope you find some better picks from the pile soon.

Chris said...

Kim, I'm looking forward to Nymeth and Carl's reviews too. They have different reviewers so we'll have different takes on similar themed blogs. I expected the review I got and submitted my site purely for fun. That's what I got.

I have Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez up in line next, so I have a feeling I have some good reading ahead of me :)

Amy said...

Sorry you didn't care for the book...but I like the look of your blog. I am also a fan of the less is more approach.

Darla D said...

I like the look of your blog, too - it is easy to read. Sometimes I have trouble with the "busier" ones, with odd color combos and too much going on all over the place. Yours is relaxing on the eyes, plus, of course, I also enjoy the content!

I read this one a few years ago and had the same kind of reaction. It was okay, but when the sequel came out I had no real interest in it. There are a lot of enthusiastic Avi fans out there, but I don't think I'm one of them. I couldn't get through The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, another very popular one - and I was listening to it on tape! Oh, well.

Chris said...

Thanks Amy :) The last few pages of the book were fairly entertaining, but even with them the ending just sort of fell just sort of well...ended :/

Thanks Darla! I think my blog was too "dark and spooky" for them. I don't find it to be dark and spooky at all, but to each his (or her) own. Glad to see I'm not alone in this one. I know there are so many Avi fans out there and I just didn't see what the craze was all about. Once each his (or her) own ;)

Nymeth said...

I submitted my site just for fun too. It's sort of cool how we're all getting reviewed at around the same time. I hope they don't think it's some sort of conspiracy :P Anyway, I expect something along the lines of "all she talks about is books/the sidebars are too full" :P

Personally I see absolutely nothing wrong with using the standard blogger template. As long as the blog is easy to read and the content is good, I'm more than happy. I like the look of your blog. The black background doesn't make it hard to read at all. Not for me anyway.

I'm sorry you didn't like the book all that much. But I see you're now reading Smoke & Mirrors, so you're in for some great reading!

Chris said...

I love Smoke and Mirrors already Nymeth! The intro was great. I loved The Wedding Story and his intros to each of the short stories in the compilation. He has about three stories here inspired by Lisa Snellings-Clark pieces! I thought that was cool. Chivalry was a great little story and I instantly fell in love with the opening poem and wrote it down in my quotes journal. Where does this man come up with these things?

Can't wait to read your review on Review My Blog...

jean pierre said...

yeah, i can't understand what the problem was - and it was especially weird that she still gave you such a high rating...?

i love the comment about the picture! :) ironically it was the very first thing that attracted me to this blog...

i know what you mean about a bad run of books! but with those that you have to come i'm sure thats over :)

i also sometimes wonder when "the next really good book" is going to come along... or "the next absolutely brilliant, one of my all-time favourites, blow you away" one is going to come along...

Carl V. said...

I get the review treatment from her/them tomorrow, I believe. I have no doubt that my site will provoke the same sense of "Huh?" that yours does. Glad she had the sense to give you a good score despite not really understanding or getting into the stuff that you do. I realize this is all for fun, but to run a site like that you really need to have a wide variety of interests and the ability to see things from a more broad design sense than I see in her reviews. I submitted mine for fun as well, so it will be interesting to see what she comes up with.

Sorry about the AVI book. I have only read one of his and that was the Strange Happenings short story book I read for the R.I.P. Challenge last year, review here:

I liked it and think you would as well. Can't speak for any of his other work.

DesLily said...

geez.. i go away and you fall apart! a not good review of your blog and a not good review of a book!... am I at the right blog???

Rhinoa said...

The good thing about reading not so great books is that it makes you appreciate those ones that are fantastic more! I will take a look at the review of your site.

Chris said...

JP, I'm trying to figure out how the hell I got such a high rating too!

The comment about my picture was my favorite too,'s one of my favorite McKean images.

Isn't it always a great thing when that "wow" book comes along. I love it when it's one that you're not even expecting...When you just pull a random book off the shelf and it becomes one of your favorites. That's always a great experience!

Carl, I'm expecting you to get a much better review. Your blog goes way beyond mine...much more than just book reviews and I've always been envious of the wonderful look of your blog ;)

I want to give Avi another try, so I think I'll try Strange Happenings! I tend to enjoy books that you do as well.

Deslily, Seriously! You can't leave me like that anymore...see what happens!

Rhinoa, You're absolutely does indeed make the next really good book that much better. As I opened the first pages of Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors last night it was like a breath of fresh air!

Bookfool said...

I'm sorry you didn't like this book. I did, but I was actually kind of expecting to hate it because the only other Avi book I've read was, I thought, kind of awful. Maybe that's what made me look at it in a more positive light. Religion was on overkill in the Middle Ages, I'm afraid. To have lessened it would have been to not be true to the time period, in my humble opinion.

8/10 without even really reading your content? Is that weird or what?

Chris said...

You make a good point Bookfool. Religion was overkill in the Middle Ages and he DID fit it appropriately into the was just too much for me sometimes with the "Lord Jesus" this and "Praise St. so and so" that...

I found the rating a bit strange too...maybe I just give off good cyber energy or something ;)

jean pierre said...

just randomly discovering one of those great books must be one of THE BEST experiences in the world!!

which books have you discovered like that?

Chris said...

Two of my favorite books were discovered like that actually JP. The first was Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I had never read any Card before, but had heard of the title "Ender's Game" mentioned as a Sci-fi classic, so I bought it. I was hooked by the end and he's now my favorite author. I'll never forget that book.

The second is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I had read Gaiman before. I read Good Omens about 10 years ago, but wasn't a huge Gaiman fan from just that one. American Gods sounded like a cool premise, but I was absolutely blown away when I actually read it. Had no idea how amazing that book would be.

This year, I've had a couple of reads that have been somewhat like that such as George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux, and John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things.

How about you?!

Carl V. said...

My review is up on the site if you're interested. I think she did a fair job on both of ours considering she is certainly not a fan of what we are fans of.

Chris said...

Carl, I saw your review today. I thought it was a pretty good review and was glad that she acknowledged how great of a job you do doing what you's alot of "do's"!

Personally, I like the Orange text on black. It's never bothered me at all and I think that black text on white background would look horrible on your blog! I've always thought that the layout of your blog was very neat and organize so I agree there.

I had to laugh when I saw that she thought you should start reviewing romance novels...but then I started thinking..he's done that too!

jean pierre said...

i just saw today's post! very cool :)

i can very much imagine card having that effect - i hadn't heard of him and was very pleasantly surprised by how accomplished, intelligent and assured his writing was!

"american gods" is great, isn't it. that book just sucks you in! thats easily the best reading experience i've had for about a year. for me it'd been sitting on my shelf, waiting as reward, my "rainy day" book, my "banker". i can just imagine it must've blown you away if you read it without any expectations!!

the two books that i discovered in this way i actually read right after each other! i was so lucky!

they were "ubik" and "i am legend". "ubik" my wife bought for me as a christmas present. i'd said that i wanted to read some philip k. dick, so should bought me that. but the funny thing is that i wasn't impressed at all when i saw the book. there were loads of dick books i'd heard of and was excited to read and so wasn't too inspired to read "ubik". plus, the cover wasn't very nice - i am sooo fussy!

and then, i just absolutely and truly blew my mind! that surprise was the most wonderful experience.

then i picked up "i am legend". i was browsing a 2nd hand bookstore and picked it up 'cause the cover looked fun and dramatic. i'd never heard of the book in my life.

and again, it too just blew my mind! i thought, "why have i never heard about this!?"

by the way, thanks a lot for the link to the trailer! ooohh! its so cool! i love that laugh in the end. and michael caine's little speech is very cool!

i don't think i'll make a post about it, i think i'll give people a bit of a break from batman. but i am gonna mention it.

thanks again!