Sherwood Smith, why oh why are your covers so horrifically bad? Because girl… you can write oh so good. Seriously, as I rea...moreOriginal review posted here
Sherwood Smith, why oh why are your covers so horrifically bad? Because girl… you can write oh so good. Seriously, as I read this fantastic gem of a young adult fantasy duo I felt like pumping my fist and shouting GIRL POWER quite happily. Because this girl, this Meliara, she knocked my socks off.
So basically this story starts with an impoverished member of the court and his two kids, a boy and a girl. The girl has been left to her own devices, she’s run wild, and she does not have a good impression of the finery and snobbery of the court off in the distance. But now.. her father is dying and the duchy is left to both girl and boy. And to make matters worse – it appears they are going to war.
Meliara is gutsy in a very good way. She doesn’t have magical powers that allow her to pick up a sword and kick some butt, she’s too petite for that, and Sherwood realistically portrays that weakness. Instead, she sneaks, she spies, and she does what she firmly believes to be best. From captures to escapes, double-crossings and alliances, and then to the scene at court and the flirtations, parties and secrets, this story moves quickly and had me flipping pages and very grateful that the edition I read had both books combined.
This is a satisfying, little gem of a fantasy that is the perfect solution for those of you out there who are tired of cliffhangers and want to read a good, solid story that will have you cheering and maybe even tearing up a little bit at the conclusion.(less)
I struggled with this book, and not because of the writing – but rather because of the story and the conviction it laid on...moreOriginal review posted here
I struggled with this book, and not because of the writing – but rather because of the story and the conviction it laid on my heart.
I’ve not made any secret of the fact that I am a Christian. I’ve been there, right along with my brothers and sisters in Christ, supporting and encouraging missionaries – but this book gave me a picture (granted, a historical one) that made my heart hurt- not just for the missionary but also for those people he was sent to convert. Recently, in my Literary Theory class, we spoke about Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, and those views were heavily portrayed in Island of Wings.
The story here is one of a missionary and his young wife, a pretty enough gal, sent to a remote island in Scotland to convert the heathens there. They live in a state of filth that reeks of birds dead carcasses, they speak only Gaelic (the missionary’s home tongue), and they have a pagan worship that is hard to “free” them from. What amazed me through this story are two things.
First, that despite years on the island (15 if I recall correctly), the missionary’s wife, Lizzie, never learns any of their language. She is unable to communicate with the people she was sent to minister to, with her husband, after fifteen years. That is unreal to me.
Second, is how bleak the picture is. In this story there are no winners, there is only losers. The story of Neil and his wife are based in historical fact, but the tragedy of the infants deaths on the island (something like 80% didn’t live past 8 days), the lack of connection between Neil and Lizzie and the island natives, and the ultimate end of the story left my heart in shambles.
This is definitely a powerful book, and one to read if you are interested in the historical affects of colonialism on remote places.(less)
I feel a sort of kinship with this book. I wasn’t forced to read it when I was in school, so I approached it with fresh, ad...moreOriginal review posted here
I feel a sort of kinship with this book. I wasn’t forced to read it when I was in school, so I approached it with fresh, adult eyes and I think that made the experience one that is an experience to cherish. I also grew up in Nebraska, and it’s so farare that I read stories set there that I felt an immediate connection.
My Antonia begins somewhat slow – and after reading a particularly difficult book, I’ll admit, my heart sunk a bit. But once the story got going, once I started being sucked into the narrative of this young boy, I started to fall in love with the writing, the story, and the characters.
Immigration, and treatment of immigrants, always provides an interesting topic to read, and write about, and that shows in this book. As an adult, I appreciated much more the hardships and tragedies experienced, then I would have as a teenager, which results in putting Willa Cather on the list of authors I want to experience more of.(less)
I wish I could say that this book had me in stitches, but… it didn’t. The Betty White in print is definitely not quite the...moreOriginal review posted here
I wish I could say that this book had me in stitches, but… it didn’t. The Betty White in print is definitely not quite the Betty White as shown in movies and on TV. Is she sweet? Sure. Nice? Sure. She comes across as a very down-to-earth, grandma sort of person, but what I thought would be a funny set of essays was more of a grandma’s advice on how to live life, and a lot of admonitions on taking care of animals.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with either of those things. It just didn’t make for very fun reading, and definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. Actually, the best part of the book were the photos that were included.
I think part of it was my fault – I should have looked to see if she’d written anything before this book (she has), but I didn’t. Instead, I got a lot of essays about the show she is in currently (that I haven’t seen), and just a few mentions here and there of The Golden Girls (a show I absolutely love).
Another upside to this book is, if you are looking to pad that book count, I think this one took me about an hour to read. Short and sweet essays, lots of pictures, these things add up to a quick and easy read.(less)
Honestly, I do not feel in any way worthy to review this book. It was handed to me in a classroom, starting a semester-long...moreOriginal review posted here
Honestly, I do not feel in any way worthy to review this book. It was handed to me in a classroom, starting a semester-long tradition of “Free Book Friday”, in which books were brought in and given away to the class at large, and this title was specifically chosen to be given to me – due to an expressed interest in the Booker prize books. When it was handed to me, I read the first page, and that led to me not wanting to put the book down.
Unfortunately, my reading schedule didn’t allow for me to read it right away. However, I fit it in as soon as I could, and sure enough – I was sucked right back in.
Normally, I read quickly. I’m able to easily digest stories without having to read and re-read parts to understand what was happening. However, The Bone People begged to be read slowly, something that was both exhilarating and maddening all at once. I needed to know what happened, but oh how I wanted the journey to last.
The style of writing in this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The strange customs, language, and traditions had me feeling out of my depths until the characters drew me in. I was fascinated by each voice, but never felt as if I was fully welcome – which made me feel a longing to be part of the story.
All in all, this was a reading experience unlike any other I’ve had. And when you consider the 1000+ books I’ve read in recent years, that really tells you something.(less)
Clementine, by Cherie Priest, is one of my favorite of the Clockwork Century books. So with that said, bringing the same ch...moreOriginal review posted here
Clementine, by Cherie Priest, is one of my favorite of the Clockwork Century books. So with that said, bringing the same characters back that kicked butt in Clementine for Ganymede pushed this book up into a frontrunner spot before I even began to read it.
It didn’t have to stay in that spot when I started reading it – but it held it by its own merit, because y’all, this book kicked butt. Serious butt. Seriously – submarines, zombies, tough girls fighting off zombies – I honestly think this is the best book of the Clockwork Century books yet. So much action, it had me fist-pumping mere pages into the story and the classy touch of romance only helped matters – it was just enough.
I admire Cherie Priest so much. She has such a distinctive, unique way of writing. I love the layout of these books, the sepia ink, the fantastic covers, the awesome re-writing of history (making it much more cool). There is so much style in each of her stories, and I think Ganymede really shows that style off. I’ve been following each release of these books since reading Boneshaker, and anxiously hoarding them on my shelves – loaning them out only when I’m sure I’ll get them back in the same condition.
Ms. Priest, you have one loyal fan here, and you’ve above and beyond earned that loyalty. I cannot wait for the next release!(less)
This book floored me. I mean, jaw on the floor, gaping as I read, type of floored me. Who knew Balzac could be so approacha...moreOriginal review posted here
This book floored me. I mean, jaw on the floor, gaping as I read, type of floored me. Who knew Balzac could be so approachable? I picked up this book fully expecting to struggle through it, much like my earlier trials with Middlemarch, and instead I found myself thoroughly intrigued by this drama. And Balzac himself, as narrator of the story of Father Goriot, calls it a drama, although he hastens to explain that it isn’t quite the same as those other dramas of the time.
The word drama has been somewhat discredited of late; it has been overworked and twisted to strange uses in these days of dolorous literature; but it must do service again here, not because this story is dramatic in the restricted sense of the word, but because some tears may perhaps be shed intra et extra muros before it is over. – Father Goriot by Balzac
The story is focused around two characters – Father Goriot and a young, law student named Eugene Rastignac. They are acquainted by being one of several boarders in a respectable, if a bit shabby, boarding house in Paris, France. Goriot is the father of two married daughters, and Rastignac is, at the expense of his parents and two sisters, attempting to marry into society and wealth – but in a respectful way!
This drama has everything – murder and intrigue through the character of Vautrin, the Trick of Death. It has humor – there is an entire scene which made me think of our modern day Snoop Dog “shizzle” moments – Balzac talks about how the diorama has recently been unveiled, and as a result, in passing, humorous conversation, the morpheme “orama” is added to the end of random words – such as Goriot-orama. There is an entire scene at the dinner table in which words are bantered about, and even referenced later in the book that had me laughing out loud in sheer delight. It has tragedy – the outcome of Father Goriot and his daughters relationship is one that, as Balzac foretells, worthy of tears. It showcases both the good and bad sides of the human character, and provides an interesting commentary on situations and feelings that are relevant still today.
Some day you will find out that there is far more happiness in another’s happiness than in your own – Balzac
The human heart may find here and there a resting-place short of the highest height of affection, but we seldom stop in the steep, downward slope of hatred - Balzac
I wish I could go further into the quotes and how many things I highlighted on my Kindle – but then this entire review would be just repeated quote after quote, since there are quite a few of them. I have to encourage you to pick up this book and read it – I hope you will find it as fascinating as I did. Such an incredible story of the tragedy of life.(less)
This book has huge strengths and just as big of weaknesses. But I’m in that strange place where the weakness isn’t really a...moreOriginal review posted here
This book has huge strengths and just as big of weaknesses. But I’m in that strange place where the weakness isn’t really a big weakness to me, due to the other reading I’ve done about China during this time period. So – here is the weakness: There really isn’t much information about the historical situation in China, but this isn’t a book that really advertises that it has that information.
This semester in school we talked a lot about history is based around wars and the events leading up to them. There is very little history taught in schools that centers around homemaking methods of women, or the methods of horse-shoeing by men. This is one of those kind of books, however. Historical fiction which takes a look at the way the women of 1930′s China ticked – their honor system, their treatment of daughters, their pride, and their choices.
Duncan Jepson fully explores what might be one possible reason behind the actions of a woman leading to the removal of her daughter from her home. Feng is so sweet and pure at the start of this story as she explores gardens, and deals with grubby hands and the scorn of an older, “wiser” sister. Due to a twist in circumstances, Feng ends up married to a man not of her own choosing, and placed into a home that is, for all intents and purposes, a pit of vipers. My heart broke, not only while watching Feng transform into a woman who could hold her own, but also at the circumstances surrounding that change.
Another slight issue I had with the book, however, was the sheer amount of time spent on things such as the leading up to and impregnating of Feng (which read a little like a sadistic porn novel), and the fact that Feng really had nothing to complain about with her husband, other than the fact of course that she didn’t choose or love him, which I admit is no small thing. Still, he treats her well – there’s no abuse or anything of the sort, so nothing to worry about with that, but.. I guess you’d need to read the book to understand why it bugs me a bit.
Overall – I thought the story was a beautiful look at the history of the woman in China in the 30′s. The focus was so intent on Feng, her choices, her lifestyle, and her family, that everything else falls to the wayside. Lush language makes the book very easy to fall into, and I was up until 2am to finish it last night because I didn’t want to put it down.(less)
It’s not often my 17 year old brother tells me I have to read a book. So when he does, I put it on the short list.
I’ve had Dracula on my list for a while though. I thought it’d be a fun read after reading Frankenstein earlier this year, but Frankenstein did a number on me (it was not nearly as gripping as I had hoped it would be) so Dracula got put to the back burner. I should have known better.
First of all – for those of you who have not experienced Dracula yet – it’s an epistolary novel. Yup, all letters. These letters grow in intensity as the story progresses, making the book somewhat unique, especially when compared to other vampire novels.
I grew up reading Anne Rice novels – none of this wimpy sparkling-vampire stuff for me. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (bonus points if you can name the season in which the good Count shows up there!), I enjoy a good, thrilling story that has me wanting to leave the lights on, and Dracula gave me everything I was looking for and more. Y’all, I actually dreamed of spider-like men crawling up my walls. It was awesome.
Reading Dracula is kicking off a year of intense exploring of a genre I’ve always shied away from. Horror. I figured I had to kick the year off with a review of a class horror and fully plan to explore the genre more in 2012. It should be interesting – especially if this is the type of novel from which inspiration is taken.(less)
I am not sure how to review this book. I really struggled with this one – but that’s not to say that I didn’t like it. Just...moreOriginal review posted here
I am not sure how to review this book. I really struggled with this one – but that’s not to say that I didn’t like it. Just that I really struggled while reading it.
I’m not much of a war/wars type of reader. I enjoy reading about the more personal (well, enjoy isn’t the word, but I find the more personal aspects easier to read) side, but not so much the strategy, historical facts, and world-building around the wars. Which is funny to me, because I love world-building in fantasy books.
There’s a lot of building in this book. A lot. And it’s very frustrating if you aren’t already familiar with the historical basis behind it all. I felt like I’d walked into a college level history course mid-way through the semester. It was bewildering and I think I spent the first 30% of the book trying to get my bearings and wishing the story would just stay put on one character.
Because I loved Geoffrey Hotspur. That character made me laugh so much, although I’m sure not all of it was intentional. He was deliciously flawed, filled with life, and I wanted to cry every time the story veered away from him.
This book will take a commitment from you. It’s over 400 pages long, and you will walk away having learned so much information when all is said and done. Just prepare for it, set aside the time to really read the novel, and do not be tempted to skim. It won’t help, trust me. You’ll just go back and have to read and re-read it again.(less)
Gutsy heroine? Check. Intelligence? Check. Action and Adventure? Check. A touch of romance? Check. Fan...moreOriginal review posted here
I. loved. this. book.
Gutsy heroine? Check. Intelligence? Check. Action and Adventure? Check. A touch of romance? Check. Fantastic setting? Check.
Seriously – everything needed to make a very interesting, historical novel that is very, very, very difficult to put down.
Nadira is a special creature. Yes, she’s bartered about the men in her life, but it isn’t for her body – oh no, it’s for her mind. You see, she speaks quite a few languages, and has been called upon to help with translation. She is treated well by each one of her “captors”, and as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that, indeed, she is something special.
I ended up reading quite a few historical novels, set in medieval times this year. There have been a few disappointments, a few surprises, and some books that end up being the best books I’ve read in quite some time. While The Hermetica of Elysium doesn’t really rank that high, I will say it’s one of the best medieval books I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed strong Nadira, I loved that the book could be so clean without seeming unbelievable. This author is a definite “must watch” on my list of authors and I cannot wait for book two to be released next year.(less)
Between Linguistics and early British Literature this past semester, I got a crash course in the beginnings of the English...moreOriginal review posted here
Between Linguistics and early British Literature this past semester, I got a crash course in the beginnings of the English language. I watched YouTube movies, listened to lectures, experienced Old English (and read some of it out loud!), and got to read (for the first time) Beowulf and discuss it. So some of what I was reading and expecting to read in Harald Hadrada did not come as a surprise.
What did come as a surprise was just how violently I reacted to the initial part of the story. It was just so.. graphic and horrifying. I know that’s how things were, how the “Spoils of war” were treated, but reading it put down there on the page just really made it hit home to me.
So, needless to say, I was on the side of the “Scraeling” throughout the entire story.
Harald Hardrada is based on the true story of Harald, the “last” Viking. It chronicles his life through the eyes of his young squire, the “Scraeling”, a boy picked up after a raid on a convent that leaves the nuns raped and murdered. The boy is crippled, due to a break in his hip and it being set wrong, but has incredibly high intelligence and does much for Harald’s campaigns and his victories. But it’s all for a purpose.
This book was dense with history, facts and battles. It read like watching a chess game between two matches is like. I really had to keep my mind focused on each detail in order to fully grasp what was happening and see the effects of those actions coming. I found it to be intellectually stimulating, engaging, and it has since been the topic of not a few conversations with friends.(less)
The introduction to this book had me captured. Karen Charlton knocks it out of the park with the beau...moreOriginal review posted here
WOW. Fun! … WOW again!
The introduction to this book had me captured. Karen Charlton knocks it out of the park with the beautiful description of countryside as the reader follows the path of an eagle. At first, I thought – oh no, please don’t let this be hokey, but then my thoughts moved to.. wow, okay this is beautiful writing and then, at the last line of that introduction, my breath was stolen away at the compare and contrast of the eagle and the man.
And that was just the beginning, folks.
Karen Charlton writes the story of Jamie Charlton, his wife Cilla, their children, and his family (brothers and mother). This is based in historical fact, as Karen writes this book from her own family history… but what makes this story such a knockout is, even though you are led to believe you know who the thief is – the story is so filled with twists and turns it will have you guessing and questioning the entire way through.
From the descriptions of the time period, the wildly colorful characters surrounding Jamie, the heartache experienced by Cilla, described so vividly by Charlton, the ups and downs, twists and turns – this book begged me to keep reading until the final line was read. I just couldn’t put it down.
I love a good historical fiction book, and I was not disappointed by Catching the Eagle. I highly recommend you check this one out – I just wish I’d read it before I made my Christmas recommendations!(less)
When I received this small book in the mail, I set it aside after making a note on my calendar to get it read. I didn’t not...moreOriginal review posted here
When I received this small book in the mail, I set it aside after making a note on my calendar to get it read. I didn’t notice it again until a few days later when my dad picked it up and exclaimed – this book is in verse!
I was excited to get to it then. This semester in British Literature, I was introduced to my very first epic poems in Beowulf, Paradise Lost, and other fun, old English tales. Then, when I read the introduction to The Realmsic Conquest, I felt a kinship with the author because, like he, I also had a friendship that thrived through letters – although we never wrote stories to each other (why didn’t we think of that, Chris??).
That all said, while The Realmsic Conquest was clever and amusing, it fell short of being a “true epic”. I feel as if Jackson could have done more with less attempt to rhyme – which, in a way, cheapened the story. I’ve read books in verse that ended up being very powerful because their lack of rhyme – and I really think that the potential existed in this story to make an “modern epic fantasy tale”.
The idea was good, putting it into practice fell short – in short. Still, I think if you are wanting to give something different to a young boy for a gift – this might be something you’d look toward. The story has a great message, there’s magic and bad guys and bad guys turning good – and it’s in verse!(less)
I’m going to begin this review of a warning and a list. Here’s the warning: This review is a negative opinion of this book....moreOriginal review posted here
I’m going to begin this review of a warning and a list. Here’s the warning: This review is a negative opinion of this book. If that troubles you, move along.
Here’s the list:
1. I love fairy-tale retellings.
2. I love a good, solid inspirational read.
3. I love strong heroine’s.
Unfortunately, this book was only one of the three. It was a fairy-tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast. While it was a Christian retelling, it bordered more on the preachy, in your face side of Christianity, and the heroine… well… I’ll talk about that in a bit.
First of all – here’s something that really annoyed me – as in, made me so angry I couldn’t sleep last night in thinking about it. I felt as if Annabel was being used as a pawn, or rather – her “calling” to be a nun was just a set-up to make it seem as if she wasn’t going to actually end up with the “Beast”, Ranulf. It felt forced – all her speaking of the Holy Writ, the huge passages of Bible verses being read, the constant protesting, and yearning to be a nun. It felt forced, unrealistic, and made me uncomfortable to read.
Now, as for Annabel herself – seriously, I’m amazed the girl can even stand up straight enough to walk in this story. No. backbone. at. all. Her one method of standing up for herself is to carry a knife around – but when push comes to shove, she can’t even use it – and THEN.. she carries that martyrish guilt around when something bad does happen to the guy she intended to use it on, thinking it was her fault for wanting to defend herself in the first place.
HELLO. THIS IS NOT THE MESSAGE WE WANT TO SEND TO YOUNG WOMEN OUT THERE.
What happened to having a good, Christian woman with strength, character, and integrity? If she wants to be a nun, follow through! If she wants to protect herself, have her do it – why does she need to hide behind the britches of a man who has to do her dirty work for her? And furthermore – what is the big deal about telling someone what happened?
(I’m not even going to talk about the bait and switch pulled here because, God-forbid, a bad guy actually get his just desserts in a book)
Oh my gosh, I’m angry just writing this review, and I swear I was finally calmed down when I started to write it. Y’all, I tossed and turned last night, railing against the messages being broadcast in this book.
Basically – if you want your daughter/sister/cousin/niece to believe that she must be protected by a man, that she should feel guilt for wanting to defend herself from being RAPED, that she should be wishy-washy in her goals for herself, because who knows – the right guy might just come along! Then this is the book to give them.
As for me – I’m going to find a Christian book that treats women with respect.(less)
I struggled with this memoir. Granted, I should have known I’d struggle with it – the subject matter was just so hard.
Christine Hartmann is a strong woman. I don’t know that I could have done what she did. She builds the story over a period of about ten years, but the psychological impact her mother had on her lasted longer than that. Can you imagine? Living with the knowledge that your mother plans to die by suicide? I can’t.
This book inspired a good, heartfelt talk between me and my parents which essentially started with, “Look, I know you don’t want to lose your dignity as you get older, but I’m here to help you as you age. I like you around, and I don’t want to lose you before your time.” And that was something that needed to be said. I know I would not have the strength to hug my mother, who is perfectly healthy, and walk away with the knowledge that I won’t see her again.
I really struggled with Christine Hartmann’s decisions throughout the book, and I was glad to see that, toward the end, these decisions are finally challenged in a way that they needed to be. I wont’ give more information then that, but I do feel that it’s vital to know that there is a reason to keep reading – even though the subject matter seems to drag you down deeper and deeper into this horrible muck.
I admire Hartmann as well – for putting this story down on paper. I hope it helps to heal her, and I hope the bad memories fade over time until all she can remember are the good ones.(less)
People, this is not a little book. It’s 320 pages long. I started reading it at 9:30pm thinking I’d get a few chapters in....moreOriginal review posted here
People, this is not a little book. It’s 320 pages long. I started reading it at 9:30pm thinking I’d get a few chapters in. Next thing I knew I was closing the book and looking at my clock where the time of 4:30am was looking at me with accusation. I haven’t stayed up like that to read a book in one setting, or I should say, to read an adult book in one setting, in… never.
I was simply blown away by this story. Susan Schoenberger flawlessly moves between the past and present, connecting the story of Harlan’s death to Lucy’s life and the decisions being made. Add into the equation the realistic portrayal of the difficulties of adopting, especially from another country, the struggles of dating and the coping of grief from unfulfilled love and you have a knockout of a story. And in spite of all these elements, not once did I feel overwhelmed, or that there was too much stuff going on for the story to be effective.
I wept and rejoiced with Lucy, I fell in love with Mat, I grieved for Harlan and felt the sting experienced by Louis as Lucy struggled to adapt to her new life.
If you are looking for a book that will knock your socks off and grab you by the shoulders and shake you until you cry, this is it. By far, one of the best books I’ve read this year.(less)
So, I expected good. I mean, when Pam from Bookalicious started hyping this book I figured it had to be good – I trust her...moreOriginal review posted here
So, I expected good. I mean, when Pam from Bookalicious started hyping this book I figured it had to be good – I trust her judgement, and so I took the leap. I was not disappointed.
There’s something about good, wholesome, feel-good, fairy-tale-like fantasies that just make my heart warm, give me goosebumps and cause my to walk around my house with my nose buried in the book (or in this case, pressed to the screen of my Kindle). Arley Cole takes tried and true methods to set up the scene, providing her readers with an incredibly strong female heroine who is smart, sassy, strong, clever, and magical – all combined into a short package. And I loved her.
This book has tricks being played, wars being planned, good and evil wizards, mean fathers, a ditzy girl, loyal followers, strong hero and heroine, history, world-building and more. And best of all – for those of you who are scared of getting into the reading of a fantasy book, this is what I like to call “Fantasy-lite”. Yes, there are strange names and beings – but it’s all put together in a nice package that will have you flipping pages in your hurry to get to the next one, rather than using the book (like some seriously intense fantasies inspire me to do) for a coaster.
I very much recommend picking up this book, especially if you have a teenage son or daughter interested in fantasy. It’s good, clean fun.(less)
Yet another of the books nominated for the 2011 INSPY awards, and one that definitely kept me reading until the end.
When I was in college (the first time around), we lived in a town that experienced quite a bit of spiritual warfare. There were strange things that would happen, quite a few stories drifting around, and even a tragedy which made the national news. It was a place that always had me feeling as if it was dark outside, even when the light was there, and a place that saw some things happen to me which have remained with me (in not a good way) since.
I don’t know how much of that was all spiritual warfare, and how much was just plain bad luck, but this book brought to mind a lot of these events, making it a difficult read for me. The story was a fascinating one – a young woman, upon visiting a funeral, touches the boy who should not have died, and he comes back to life. The way the family has to deal with the aftereffects, the church’s method of handling things, and the town’s history all end up knitting together to create an interesting story – but also a story that needed a bit of polish to make it really good.
For example – if you are going to name your book after an event like a resurrection, I think the story really needs to center more around that specific event, rather than just using it as a catalyst for something else that’s going on. I never quite understood WHY the resurrection happened, even though I understand why everything else was happening. This is a big pet peeve for me – using a name or an event or a disability/illness as a hook into a story about something else. Although it wasn’t quite that bad with The Resurrection, I still was left a bit bewildered.
The Resurrection did not win the INSPY awards this year, but I think Mike Duran has the potential to write something that, in the future, will give that award a run for its figurative money. Overall, The Resurrection made me think, provided me with a good story, and also opened my eyes to this author and the potential he has for future books.(less)
Okay – first of all, I really loved the Native American aspect of this book. Among other things, it really reminded me that...moreOriginal review posted here
Okay – first of all, I really loved the Native American aspect of this book. Among other things, it really reminded me that I need to devote some time to reading some Native American literature. I really have no excuse right now, because one of my professors wrote her dissertation on a Native American author, as well as wrote an Encyclopedia of Native American works and authors.
That said, The Falling Away is part-thriller, part-supernatural, part-just-plain-creepy-Twilight-zone-esque, story. It has got it all, folks. Murder, running from the law, spiritual warfare, crazy cults, science fiction, drugs, smuggling – you name it, it’s an edge of your seat, this book is not going to let you put it down thriller.
It also won the 2011 INSPY awards.
I was really impressed, overall, with the quality of books being nominated this year, and I really, really enjoyed this piece of fiction. I’m not always the biggest fan of Christian or Inspirational literature – so I consider myself to be rather tough on these type of books, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one – which tells you something!
That all said, I will say – in the interest of full disclosure, that there were parts that had me a bit confused. The whole “chosen” bit, and the warriors seemed really vague – almost as if Hines didn’t want to cross any lines by making it seem like corny Christian-speak. I got that Quinn was considered to be a type of “Warrior” against the dark agents (I almost said force, y’all, I really have been watching too many Star Wars reruns on TV). But until things started to get knitted together at the end, I admit to being in a bit of a fog and fairly confused as a result.
Still, The Falling Away is a worthwhile read, and the perfect book to those who love both inspirational as well as science fiction/paranormal type books.(less)
For such a small book (151 pages), this one sure packs a punch.
I know very little about the camps created here in the state...moreOriginal review posted here
For such a small book (151 pages), this one sure packs a punch.
I know very little about the camps created here in the states for the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. But over the last year, I’ve been reading more fiction about the horrible treatment not only received by the Japanese, but other immigrants during that time period (Also, see Lost in Shangri La by Mitchell Zuckoff).
This book tells a fictional story of “Camp Nine”, based on a camp that was located in the authors hometown (name changed), and based on real life characters. It’s heart-breaking, inspiring, and eye-opening – three things that make up a powerful book. However, it’s such a quiet story that the full impact didn’t even hit me until I’d set it down and thought about it for a while, a fact that makes me shake my head in wonder. I do love it when a story creeps up on you like that.
While I enjoyed reading about Chess and her mother, David and Henry Matsui and some of the other interesting characters in the book, my attention was very much captured by Cottonmouth Willie. Schiffer does a beautiful job building up this quiet, background character and giving him a voice that sings as beautifully as his music appears to. When describing his style of blues, I could hear it in my head – and as a musician, something like that is invaluable to me.
This would be a fantastic book to give any history buffs in your life. It’s unusual, very unique, and enlightening, to be sure.(less)
I’m not even joking – I devoured this book in three hours. I could not put it down. Out of tea? Oh well. Cold and need to m...moreOriginal review posted here
I’m not even joking – I devoured this book in three hours. I could not put it down. Out of tea? Oh well. Cold and need to move to the bed to get under electric blanket? Nope. Don’t wanna stop reading.
Yet this book was so filled with such emotionally corny scenes I’m a bit ashamed of myself.
This goes back to that idea of entertainment. Was Proof of Heaven a challenging, literary read that had me pausing to collect my thoughts and ponder over the wonders contained in those pages? No. It wasn’t. But it was entertainment, and it made me “aw” a little, and it made me think about faith, and love, and hope, and joy, and sadness and all sorts of other human ideas and feelings.
While parts of the story did feel contrived (I’m sorry, I understand why the author was wanting her 5 – 7 year old boy to be that insightful, it was just a bit too jarring), there were parts that were beautiful as well – specifically the exploration of the relationships. Each character’s connection with Cathleen was unique and beautiful, in their own ways. I felt the frustration and the anger of Sean, the faithful steadfastness of the Cathleen’s priest, and sympathized with the Doctor as he grew closer to the small family he was helping.
While this isn’t one of those summery beach reads, it is a perfect read for a chilly winter day – provided your mug of hot tea doesn’t rudely empty itself before you can finish the book.(less)
I don’t know which short story to gush about in this review. From the creepy, ick factor of the book’s title story, The Dol...moreOriginal review posted here
I don’t know which short story to gush about in this review. From the creepy, ick factor of the book’s title story, The Doll, to the heartbreaking loss experienced in East Wind, to the funny, but bittersweet tale of Frustration… I could go on and on.
I think one story though really got to me. I loved them all for their tragic, gothic-like settings, stories and people.. but there is one story that is all letters that move from the thrilling moments of a new, forbidden love to the eventual falling away of the same. This is a repeated theme in these short stories – there’s no hugely romantic gestures, just simple, every day life laid bare and man’s shortcomings exposed in all sorts of heartbreaking detail.
I know, however, that this is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve read. I can say this because this tiny little book inspires me to try my own hand at short stories, even though they’ll be no where near as perfect as du Maurier’s. Still.. these stories have shown me the endless possibilities that can be reached with just a few pages of story – and how much wealth there is in a backstory and future that are left untold.(less)
When I picked up Liesl & Po, I expected good things. The cover was perfect, the author one of my favorites, and I settl...moreOriginal review posted here
When I picked up Liesl & Po, I expected good things. The cover was perfect, the author one of my favorites, and I settled down into my sofa, prepared to thoroughly enjoy myself.
What I didn’t expect was to be drawn in and completely surrounded by magic. From the very first introduction of Liesl, to the boy looking in the window and the screwy mix-up, I was enchanted. I felt like I was reading something that was special – and special it was.
I’ve been on a good run of books lately – I struggled recently with a dry-spell in my reading, and when I picked up a book to break it I was lucky enough to read this one. I firmly believe the magic in this book has touched everything I’ve read since – and the list is slowly racking up.
Liesl & Po is a story of letting go of those gone, of being brave in the face of immense danger, of accepting what might not be the “norm”, and of looking for friendly faces where there was once thought to be only hostile. It’s a beautiful, beautiful novel and one I highly recommend for the middle graders, teens, and adults in your life.(less)