A Year of Unfortunate Events: The Penultimate Post

At around this time last year, I began what I termed the ‘Year of Unfortunate Events’ (unaware of how fitting a name that would be for 2016 in general) where I would re-read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, one book a month and then two in December. As there are two extra books this month (as I also read the supplement The Beatrice Letters), it’s going to be a fairly long post, so I’m just going to get straight into it.

 

The Slippery Slope – 3.5/5

Sadly, the first book in this quarter did not impress me as much as I hoped it would. While there were some really good parts, such as the character of Quigley and his relationship with Violent, which I thought was unbelievably sweet, it just did not work for me. I enjoyed the mystery aspect, as the story was picked up and there was a lot of progression in what the children uncovered, but Olaf’s appearance felt very forced and there only to introduce other characters. The additions of Lemony Snicket in this book, while usually quite entertaining, actually let the book down a bit, especially with the addition of a rather peculiar letter in the middle. So, while there were good bits, it was just not as good as it could have been.

 

The Grim Grotto – 4/5

I found The Grim Grotto started to take the series in a new direction, it was very different to previous books, more so because things were starting to build towards the series coming to an end. It was darker, with a threat that sounded utterly terrifying, with further hints as to the mystery that surrounds the children. A few ‘grey’ characters were also introduced, ones which were neither solidly on the good or bad side, which I found to be quite interesting. I really enjoyed this book and on finishing, it was quite hard to believe there were only two actual books left in the series – there is so much to explore and uncover in this series, two books didn’t seem like enough.

 

The Penultimate Peril – 4.5/5

Of all the books this month, The Penultimate Peril probably surprised me the most. As the build up to the final outing, I was not expecting much, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. This books sees the orphans arrive at the last Safe Place, where many figures of their past come together – some good, some evil and no-one really knowing who is who. I really enjoyed how morality took a centre stage in this book as the children struggled to determine who was one which side while also questioning whether they could still be considered ‘good’ themselves. A number of questions were answered, but in places it felt like more were asked in their place. I did enjoy seeing hints of the other characters’ perspectives, although would have enjoyed seeing more of them. This was my favourite of the five unfortunate books I read this month.

 

The Beatrice Letters (Supplement) – 2/5

This supplement was released between the 12th and 13th book, supposedly with clues as to what would happen within the final story, and so I decided to read it between those two books and see if I could find some clues. I did, although for the most part I did not know what they meant until reading The End. However, I did not enjoy this book. While it may have been because I was tired reading it, I found it a bit confusing and all over the place. It contains a series of letters between the author’s character (Lemony Snicket) and Beatrice Baudelaire, but despite the potential that premise has, it just did not work for me.

 

The End – 3.5/5

In all honesty, I found the final instalment of the Baudelaire’s story to be a bit of a mix. I got the sense that Snicket struggled to tie the ends up of all the various plot points in a neat bow and there were a lot of questions which went answered. While this may have been what he was going for – in real life you never get all the answers you want, it did leave me a bit deflated. After following the children for 13 books, for a year, I wanted some satisfying resolution, especially after all they have been through. The being said, I loved that the theme of morality was continued right until the end of the book, and he managed to, somehow, make Count Olaf a bit more human in this instalment as well. I also thought that the Baudelaire’s ended the book in a way that was fitting given all they went through (even if there was one bizarre addition). So, while I do think it could have been better in rounding off the various threads, it was still an enjoyable conclusion to the 13-book strong series.

 

And that brings a conclusion to the series re-read. It certainly had its ups and downs, with some books I flew through and some which did not quite do the trick for me, but given it is a 13-book series, I suppose it can be forgiven for not being perfect throughout. The Baudelaire’s story is still one that I do keep coming back to from time to time (I forget how many times I have read the first three books) and re-reading it again was a brilliant experience, particularly seeing it again through slightly more grown-up eyes.

You may be wondering why this is the penultimate post, as I have completed the re-read. Well, as luck would have it, I timed the event perfectly. Netflix will be releasing their T.V. adaption of the books on January 13th and to bring the Year of Unfortunate Events (give or take a few months) to its conclusion, I will be watching and reviewing the show. Stay tuned folks!

Advertisements

A Year of Unfortunate Events: Update 3

It’s that time of year again, a new three months passed and three more books from A Series of Unfortunate Events read. My Year of Unfortunate Events is going pretty well and I am quite enjoying reliving the series of books which have taken up a rather large amount of bookcase space for most of my life. Here are my thoughts on books 7 to 9.

The Vile Village – 4/5 stars

Read in a day, this was quick, easy and thoroughly enjoyable. The story certainly picks up in this book, not least because there is not just Count Olaf to contend with, but Esme as well. While Olaf’s troupe are more background characters, Esme gets a bit more of a role in Olaf’s plans so there is much more for the children to be wary of. The two of them certainly make for quite a pair of villains, especially given that they are quite ridiculous in nature. I like how hints of the mystery are dropped in this book and it resolves one or two others that have been previous threads in the series. The sliver of hope and cliff-hanger ending added to the fun of the book as well.

The Hostile Hospital – 4.5/5 stars

This is the point where the series really picks up. The stakes are higher than before, the Baudelaire’s take things into their own hands and the mystery of VFD starts to come together. It starts pretty much exactly where the last book ended but this time the Baudelaire’s are without guardians, without a home but with a price on their heads. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. I think the change in circumstances for the children and their having to rely more on their own abilities made for a more entertaining read.

The Carnivorous Carnival – 4.5/5

After the last book, my expectations were high but this book certainly delivered. While it was one of the few that I did not read in a day, that was more to life circumstances than the book itself. The Carnivorous Carnival is nothing quite like the other books so far, in this things are definitely turned on their heads as the Baudelaire’s end up being the ones in discussed to spy on Olaf. We are also treated to more on the mythology of this world, especially where the mysterious V.F.D is concerned. The Baudelaire’s also come into their own a bit more and, as a result, become a lot more three-dimensional – Sunny is a big benefactor of this development. While previous books have ended on cliff-hangers, the cliff-hanger ending to this should be taken somewhat literally and it was one that made me want to read the next book almost immediately. That, however, shall have to wait until October.

Things are certainly picking up in the Baudelaire’s story and the last three months have been pretty good where the story is concerned. We are being given a lot more clues as to where the story is headed and the conflict with Olaf is become a bit more two-sided. I am very excited to read the tenth book and, come Christmas, finally complete the 13-book strong series.

Previous Updates:

The Books I Read in July

I think it is probably safe to say I read a lot in July. However, I also was focused on writing rather than reading so tended to do that more when I had free time. Thanks to BookTube-a-Thon I managed to have a week of reading which gave me the push I needed to finish a lot of the books I had on the go (Click here for my wrap-up post).  I read a total of 14 books this month, the same amount I read in June. They are all listed below:

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Physical Book

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – 3

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski – 4

The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket – 4

Slade House by David Mitchel – 4

Mobile Library by David Whitehouse – 3

Exposure by Mal Peet – 4

The Desert in the Dining Room by Stuart Wells – 4 (review)

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – 4.5

 

Kindle Book

Can you #Readwithoutprejudice? By Anonymous – 5 (review)*

Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie Sorensen – 3.5

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – 3.5 (review)

  

Audiobook

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – 2

The Edge of Nowhere by C.H. Armstrong – 5

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Page – 4

 

*The actual title and author of this book have now been revealed, but I have not included them as some might wish to go into it without knowing.

 

 

 

 

A Year of Unfortunate Events – Update: Part 2

It is now the end of June and I have finished the 6th book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket which I am re-reading this year. Now, I am starting to head into books that I don’t know as well, simply because they weren’t included in the film which I have seen a number of times. I talked about the first 3 books here, and this post will discuss books 3-6.

The Miserable Mill – 4/5 Stars

The relationships of the guardians to the Baudelaire orphans start to get a bit more tenuous in this book (if that is even possible). While there is less Olaf in this book, his over-bearing, villainous presence persists throughout. This, I found, made him seem more like a threat as you did not know where he was, what he was planning, or when he would turn up. There was also a larger mix of characters, each one adding to the world’s dynamic and the misfortune of the orphans.

The Austere Academy – 4.5/5 Stars

I think I enjoyed this book a lot more than the previous books in the series. It sees the world of the Baudelaires expand to include some more long-term characters as well as starting to take the series down a slightly different route to the one if began with. More secrets and mysteries are revealed. In the Quagmires we see the first hints that something larger is at work, and they provide the perfect counter-part to the Baudelaire orphans. You can’t help but love the boarding school setting either.

The Ersatz Elevator – 3.5/5 Stars

This book is peculiar. It takes a darker turn in the Baudelaire tale but it also takes a more eccentric one (yes, it is possible). Strangely enough, the Baudelaires don’t actually feel like they are in much danger in this book which, given the darker turn, doesn’t make much sense but it’s true. This book also marks the point where I am really struggling to remember the story properly which make it all the more intriguing. The Baudelaires did seem a bit unappreciative of their new guardians, complaining and sounding spoilt and Esme is very over-the-top, but it was still an easy and enjoyable read, just not up to the standards of The Austere Academy.

So those are the three books in A Series of Unfortunate Events that I read in this quarter of the year. I have to say, I am enjoying re-reading this series, especially since I am reaching the point where I don’t remember the story. The next books I will be reading are: The Vile Village in July, The Hostile Hospital in August and The Carnivorous Carnival in September. If those titles are anything to go by, then this series is going to get a lot more crazy.

A Year of Unfortunate Events – Update

This year, I am re-reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, a series which I quite enjoyed when I was younger. As there are 13 books in the series, I am reading one a month right up until December, during which I will be reading the final two in the series.

At the time of writing this little update, I have read the first three books and watched the film which was made based on these. Hopefully, by the time I have finished the series, the Netflix show will have been released so I’ll be able to culminate my re-read with a T.V. marathon of that. But first, here is what I thought of the first three books:

The Bad Beginning – 3/5 stars

Of all the books, this is the one I know the best having read it every time I’ve attempted to restart the series when I was younger. As a result, there was a lot of familiarity but, that being said, rereading it after so many years and knowing the story so well, I did not get as much satisfaction from it as I used to. For starters, while it does make a good start to the series, the writing style takes a lot of getting used to. It comes across as quite patronising in places (although it also seems quite self-aware of being so patronising and subverts it on occasion). It is also quite a disturbing story from an adult’s perspective, particularly Olaf’s final scheme. While the implications of this scheme goes unnoticed by children (I only saw it as more trickery on Olaf’s part), it can make to story all the more scary as an adult. Only the simplistic, easy-to-read writing style counteracts it. That being said, I did still enjoy this book and thought that the siblings were all great fun to read.

The Reptile Room – 2.5/5

I distinctly remember this book being my favourite when I was younger – the snakes, Uncle Monty, Olaf’s evil tricks; I really enjoyed them. This time around, however, I found the book did not quite live up to expectations. This might be because I went into the book knowing that it used to be my favourite, but regardless, I found it took me a long time to get into the story – it took me nearly a week to get even half way. In all honesty, I think I was a little bored. That being said, once I did finally get into the story, it flew by and I found myself rekindling that old love. The misfortunes of the Baudelaire siblings and how they solve the situations they find themselves in continue to entertain.

The Wide Window – 3.5/5

Strangely, this ended up being my favourite of the first three books. This is especially so since I don’t really remember liking it that much back when I first read it. This could potentially be because I had fewer expectations for this book, but also because I have not read this one as frequently. From this point on, I will have only ever read each book once. This is also the first book in the series where a larger, more ominous story-line becomes a bit more prominent. I did enjoy this book, and flew through it. I read it in only a couple of hours and the Baudelaire’s continue to intrigue. That they’re seemingly the only sane and intelligent characters, and the only children, in this world makes it quite an entertaining, yet occasionally frustrating, read.

The Film – 4/5

The film adaption is certainly an under-rated production. I really enjoy watching it and have seen it a number of times. Watching it again while re-reading the series certainly made for an interesting exercise. The overall tone, the children, the script: it all fits very well with the books. The books are short enough to fit into the film without cutting out anything major and, with a little bit of re-ordering of events, it actually made for a fairly cohesive plot. The children were brilliantly cast – Violet, in particular, is exactly how I’ve pictured her from the very start. The only let down for the film was Jim Carrey as Olaf. Count Olaf in the books is a very different entity to the Olaf in the film and I feel like the film’s characterisation ruins him. Carrey plays him in a very over-the-top manner, as a ridiculous oaf who comes across as quite useless. While I appreciate this might have been done to make the film less scary for children, it essentially jars with the rest of the film and takes away the threat. That being said, I do still love the film and the rest of the cast, and the adaption, is phenomenal.

That’s it for my Year of Unfortunate Events update. The next few months will see me reading The Miserable Mill in April, The Austere Academy in May and The Ersatz Elevator in June. I’m really looking forward to seeing what I’ll make of these books as I’ve barely remember what happens in them and given how I’ve found the first three.