Watership Down is the story of a small group of rabbits traveling across the English countryside in search of a new home. Their tale begins when FiverWatership Down is the story of a small group of rabbits traveling across the English countryside in search of a new home. Their tale begins when Fiver, a small, nervous rabbit, senses an unnamed future danger for the warren in which they live. Fiver has the gift of prophecy, and when he speaks, his older brother Hazel listens. After taking their concerns to the Chief Rabbit and trying in vain to make him believe and understand that they are in great danger, Hazel and Fiver plan an escape from their warren. The brothers, along with a group of like-minded individuals, leave the warren and go through several adventures in search of a safe place to live.
To give anymore of the plot details away would remove some of the enchantment from this incredible book, and I refuse to do that to you. Watership Down is a story of great beauty. As I have stated before, it is my all-time favorite book. I first read it when I was just 12 years old, almost 20 years ago. I have read many other wonderful books over the years, but there is something special about Watership Down, a certain magic that not even time can erase. I have read it many times, and have vowed beginning this year to re-read as my first book of each new year from now on. You may say that life is too short to re-read books, but I say that life is to short not to enjoy your favorite things.
Richard Adams began Watership Down as a story told aloud to his two daughters on a long car trip. In creating his fantastic world of wild rabbits, Adams constructed a new language, a complete culture, and an imaginative folk history for his characters, all of which add incredible depth to the story and to the characters themselves. The rabbits of Watership Down act with human characteristics such as bravery, loyalty and ingenuity. However Adams has written them with a naturalist's eye for real rabbits - the reader is left with the impression that this is simply how rabbits behave.
Watership Down is a marvelous tale of adventure, the breathtaking story of a journey which leads eventually to the safety of a new home, as well as a keen understanding of the outside world and all its perils. If you'll allow yourself to get lost in the story, you will not regret it. Rich in detail and with a compelling and entertaining plot, Watership Down is truly a timeless masterpiece, a modern day classic that is beloved by many (including myself - in case I have not made that clear.)...more
Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ, is the story of the life of Jesus told within the exciting tale of Judah of the House of Hur. Judah is a PrinLew Wallace's Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ, is the story of the life of Jesus told within the exciting tale of Judah of the House of Hur. Judah is a Prince of Jerusalem betrayed by his childhood friend Messala, and sent to spend the rest of his life in servitude on a Roman ship. After three years, Judah miraculously saves the life of a rich Roman tribune, and embarks on a journey of vengeance that ends in redemption for himself and his family. I know that's an incredibly loose synopsis of the novel, but I don't want to give any of the good stuff away - in case there is someone out there who hasn't read the book or seen the movie.
Although Ben-Hur was published in 1880, I found it astonishingly readable. I wasn't constantly stumbling over the language or wondering when the story was going to "pick up." Ben-Hur is full of detail - nearly everything is described in grand scale. This is not a quick read, but the continual movement toward the climax kept me turning pages. The novel itself is charming and incredibly entertaining. Full of the kind of larger-than-life characters you would expect, Ben-Hur is a wonderful historical novel.
After almost 130 years, it remains a powerful and moving novel. It contains some historical information, but is also rich with detail and action packed. With vivid imagery, lavish settings, and affecting characters, Ben-Hur is a must read!...more
In what book can you read about a hippo's root canal, a white-tailed deer with earrings, chemotherapy for fish, and a kangaroo with a spinal injury? IIn what book can you read about a hippo's root canal, a white-tailed deer with earrings, chemotherapy for fish, and a kangaroo with a spinal injury? In The Rhino With Glue-On Shoes and Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients, Lucy H. Spelman, DVM and Ted Y. Mashima, DVM have collected 28 stories from the amazing veterinarians around the globe charged with the care of some of the earth's most fascinating and dangerous creatures.
This behind-the-scenes look at veterinary medicine in zoos and in the wild, gets the reader up close and personal for the incredible drama inherent when working with exotic animals. Spelman and Mashima have assembled these captivating tales with humor and great sensitivity to their subject, creating a very entertaining read.
The unconventional patients and their sometimes bizarre ailments were simply extraordinary. There are even two stories from our own Houston Zoo: "The Bugs Have Bugs?" - a story about a group of dung beetles with a bad case of mites; and "Amali's Example" - a chronicle of a young giraffe's leg problems, requiring a custom-made brace. The veterinarians in these stories are creative, innovative, and adventurous, going literally to the ends of the earth in order to help the animals in their care.
Each essay-length story is written by a different veterinarian. Some are very well-written, and some are merely so-so, but it was the tone and subject matter that kept me turning pages, even when the writing didn't "do it" for me. Animals hold a very special place in our lives, and The Rhino With Glue-On Shoes is a wonderfully inspiring book that I would recommend to animal lovers and aspiring veterinarians....more
"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream."No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone." The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I can't tell you how many times I've seen this opening paragraph to The Haunting of Hill House repeated in someone's review, and yet here I am reprinting it. It's just so fantastically creepy that I can't help myself! If that alone does not compel you to read this book, then I just don't know what else to say to you.
The Haunting of Hill House is a horror classic. You will not find violence or gore here, just an old-fashioned spooky good time for all. There's a big evil a-brewin' in Hill house. Or is it all in the mind of one of the house's four summer guests. Elanor Vance is socially awkward, painfully shy, and incredibly self-conscious; she's also a house guest, participating in paranormal experiments in Hill house. The group is led by Dr. John Montague. Along with narcissistic Theodora and well-to-do Luke, Eleanor is charged with reporting paranormal phenomena in the house over the summer.
I should probably tell you here that the guests do not actually see any demonic displays during their stay at Hill house. Nevertheless, the effect the book has on the reader can only be described as jolting. The horror here is very subtle and entirely psychological. Seriously, you don't even realize how scared you are until your husband (innocently) walks up behind your chair and makes you jump out of your skin just by putting his hand on your shoulder.
Jackson's descriptions of the actual hauntings are chilling and will have you turning on all the lights in your house, checking behind the doors, and looking under your bed. Her characters, in particular the main character, are written with an attention to detail and you will quickly find yourself absorbed into their fate.
The Haunting of Hill House is an unsettling and engrossing really quick read that will have you searching for more Shirley Jackson books at your local library. It's chilling and disturbing in the best sense of the words, and is easily the best ghost story I've ever read.
Fred Gipson's Old Yeller - another classic I missed when I was a child. Travis is a boy on the verge of manhood in 1800's Texas, when Old Yeller enterFred Gipson's Old Yeller - another classic I missed when I was a child. Travis is a boy on the verge of manhood in 1800's Texas, when Old Yeller enters his life. Although Travis doesn't see the dog's worth right away, he eventually grows to love Yeller. When the story came to it's inevitable tragic end, it had me crying like a baby.
The story of Old Yeller is touching, and the love and loyalty that the characters have for each other, will stay with you long after you've put the book down. It's easy to see why this book has endured through the years to become a perennial children's classic. ...more
"The Secret of Nimh" is one of my all-time favorite movies, but somehow I've never read Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. The stor"The Secret of Nimh" is one of my all-time favorite movies, but somehow I've never read Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. The story is about a widowed mouse, Mrs. Frisby, living with her four children. When she finds that their home is about to be plowed under by a farmer, she enlists the help of the mysterious rats living under the rosebush.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh taught me an important lesson: you're never too old for a god story. The entire book is simply wonderful, with highly imaginative suspense and intrigue. The adventures of Mrs. Frisby and friends was mesmerizing, and had me glued to the book from beginning to end. ...more
I've just finished Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer - hereafter to be known as "My Favorite Book in the Twilight Saga Thus Far"...
As you know from my previI've just finished Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer - hereafter to be known as "My Favorite Book in the Twilight Saga Thus Far"...
As you know from my previous reviews of the first 2 books in the series, I enjoyed Twilight but did not care as much for New Moon. In fact, you wouldn't be wrong in thinking that New Moon was incredibly painful for me to read. But Eclipse is far and away better than it's predecessors.
Here's my synopsis: Bella Swan is in mortal danger... again! If you've read the books, you'll know that the girl practically eats, sleeps and breathes danger - it would be strange if she wasn't in trouble. Of course she has her two handsome suitors to protect her. Jacob Black is a werewolf in the local Quileute pack. He loves Bella despite the fact that she has chosen Edward Cullen, the gorgeous vampire. In this book Edward and Jacob form a somewhat angry alliance in order to protect Bella from the peril du jour.
Ok, so what made this my favorite of the series so far? Well, like the other books, Eclipse is well-written, and full of adventure and romance. I love reading about all the drama in Bella's life, and although I know in my heart that Edward and Bella are meant for each other, I still enjoy reading about Jacob, and trying to understand what motivates him when it's so obvious that she will not pick him.
I think I most enjoyed the alliance between the Cullens and the wolves of La Push. By joining forces to fight a common deadly enemy, they won me over completely. I finally saw reason reign on both sides, instead of just passion.
After all the pain in New Moon, Eclipse was refreshing. I was captivated - willing the story to turn out the way I knew it should. I know a lot of people did not enjoy the "love triangle" stuff, but I thought Edward could "take" the competition. I knew the key would be to stop trying to force Bella into choosing between the two of them - I'm just glad the boys finally got the message.
I wish I could be more critical of these books for you, the discerning reader, but I just can't bring myself to be snarky. As I'm sure you've realized by now, I simply love a goopy, happily ever after, alls well that ends well story - especially if it's completely improbable. And I don't suppose I'll ever grow out of it.
I've already begin the last book of the series, Breaking Dawn, but I'm in no hurry to finish it. I'm not ready to let Bella and Edward go; I know I'll be sad when I have to put them down....more
"Mean Jean" is the recess queen, and nobody swings 'till Jean swings, and nobody jumps 'till Jean jumps, etc. This is a wonderful book about bullies a"Mean Jean" is the recess queen, and nobody swings 'till Jean swings, and nobody jumps 'till Jean jumps, etc. This is a wonderful book about bullies and friendship. ...more
Sense and Sensibility is my first Jane Austen book. I received the new Kindle 2 as a gift from my husband last week, and quickly discovered some excelSense and Sensibility is my first Jane Austen book. I received the new Kindle 2 as a gift from my husband last week, and quickly discovered some excellent websites which allowed me to download all of Jane Austen's novels for free! I decided to start with Sense and Sensibility, as it is one of the books I had planned to read as part of the 1% Well-Read Challenge this year.
After reading Sense and Sensibility, I feel thoroughly initiated into the charming world of Jane Austen. Published almost 200 years ago, the title refers to practical and discreet Elinor Dashwood, and her younger sister, bold and extroverted Marianne. After the death of their beloved father, the Dashwoods - mother Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and youngest daughter Margaret - must move from their home, to a small cottage owned by Mrs. Dashwood's generous cousin Sir John Middleton. Although their brother John Dashwood and his disagreeable wife Fanny have taken over the family estate at Norland and left the Dashwoods particularly financially pinched, they are very grateful to Sir John and Lady Middleton, and accept their new circumstances humbly.
Elinor and Marianne, though wildly different in their approaches to life, are completely genuine and intelligent - and the young men around recognize them for their sincerity of character. Elinor falls in love with the reserved, socially awkward Edward Ferras, while Marianne's affection is extended to the adventurous hunter John Willoughby. Unfortunately, love and marriage don't come easily, as affections aren't always returned and money and social standing sometimes take precedence over true love.
Sense and Sensibility is full of lovable and obnoxious characters: talkative Mrs. Jennings, who constantly jumps to the wrong conclusions about situations she knows nothing about; Charlotte Palmer, Mrs. Jenning's empty-headed and inappropriate younger daughter; and bad-tempered Mrs. Ferras and her hostile, social-climbing daughter Fanny. The development of the characters alone, make this an exceptionally entertaining read.
There was something very comforting and diverting about reading Sense and Sensibility. Though simple in scale, it sparkles with wit, and is an exceedingly engrossing read. Sense and Sensibility is a timeless piece of literature with a significance that resounds even today. I was entertained from beginning to end, and I highly recommend taking a stroll through a century past, by reading Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. ...more
The Plague of Doves is easily the most beautiful piece of fiction that I've read all year. The unique voices of the narrators bring this haunting storThe Plague of Doves is easily the most beautiful piece of fiction that I've read all year. The unique voices of the narrators bring this haunting story to life, with dynamic characters that leap off the page and into the reader's heart. Using broad, bold strokes, Erdrich paints a vivid picture showing the way a single brutal act can echo through the generations, effecting everything and everyone in its path.
The lives of the characters in The Plague of Doves entwine and weave together into a dazzling tapestry. Louise Erdrich is a master storyteller, blending the characters' stories together flawlessly. These parallel vignettes work in concert with one another to form an exquisitely well-written novel. As one might imagine, the story is both complex and grand in scope, but the end product is a remarkably well-developed and cohesive tale.
The Plague of Doves is both lyrically written and delightfully intricate. When you open this book prepare to become lost within its pages, drawn into a different time and place. The sense of history, coupled with mystery and even a bit of humor makes The Plague of Doves a first-rate work of fiction. Erdrich takes her readers on a delicious journey - one that I am eager to repeat. I will definitely be looking for more of her books in the future....more
Stephen King's The Shining is my second book for the 1% Well-Read Reading Challenge. Although I'm sure that the plot is familiar to most of you, I'llStephen King's The Shining is my second book for the 1% Well-Read Reading Challenge. Although I'm sure that the plot is familiar to most of you, I'll still try to give you a short synopsis. Jack Torrance signs on to be the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado, and takes his wife Wendy and 5-year-old son Danny along for the ride. The Torrance's are doomed to months of complete isolation while snowed in at the creepy old hotel.
Recovering alcoholic Jack hopes that the time alone with his family might help him to exorcise some of his personal demons, and finish writing the play he has been working on. Wendy is uncomfortable with remoteness of the Overlook and worries about medical emergencies, among other things, but Danny is the only one who "knows" that going up to the Overlook is a bad idea. Danny has "the shine," a powerful psychic ability which allows him to inexplicably see and know things he cannot possibly know. A potent paranormal entity in it's own right, The Overlook Hotel is envious of Danny's ability, and wishes to absorb it.
The Shining is a harrowing tale of survival against a dynamic supernatural force, and King takes the story right off the page, giving it a distinct life of it's own. It is exceedingly well crafted, with original, believable characters, that you cannot help but become involved with.
Stephen King is everything you've heard: "The Master of Horror Fiction," "Fascinating," "Frightening," "Hypnotic," "Demonic," "Tremendous," "Spellbinding," and more! His imagination and understanding of the human condition is without parallel.
If you've only seen the movie, you are seriously missing out. Stanley Kubrick is a genius in his own right, but this book exceeds the big screen adaptation in so many ways. The Shining is one of the most frightening works of fiction I've ever read - I was hearing and seeing things in every dark corner of my house for a week! Even though it was scaring the living daylights out of me, I couldn't put it down for long. It was shocking, disturbing, complex and thrilling.
Easily one of the best "haunted house" stories I've ever read, The Shining had me absolutely riveted from page one. The Shining is one of King's best known novels, and gives a great introduction into the mind of one of the world's greatest masters of fright....more
My review for Margaret George's Helen of Troy is a hard one to write. Whether you are like me - knowing little of Helen beyond her "abduction" by PariMy review for Margaret George's Helen of Troy is a hard one to write. Whether you are like me - knowing little of Helen beyond her "abduction" by Paris - or you know all the details of her story - I don't want to give you a long synopsis. If you are a newcomer to the tale, I won't spoil it for you, and if you are a Helen aficionado, I won't bore you with the details.
Described by Christopher Marlowe as the "face that launched a thousand ships," Helen of Troy is a captivating historical figure with a story that fascinates and intrigues us even today. In Margaret George's spellbinding Helen of Troy, the story of Helen is told through her eyes and experiences. George's incredible writing pulls the reader into the story, offering a first-hand account of Helen's day-to-day life.
Helen of Troy is simply stunning! I was mesmerized from the first sentence to the surprise (to me anyway) ending. Helen is portrayed with all her metaphorical warts, as a flawed and tortured woman, and Paris as a somewhat naïve young man yearning to prove himself. The larger-than-life "supporting" characters - Menelaus, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Achilles, and even the goddess Aphrodite - leapt off the pages, creating a multi-layered story that was credible and gripping.
Margaret George's glorious descriptions of the setting were simply beautiful and superbly written. Her words bring ancient Greece to vivid life, making Helen of Troy a highly readable recreation of the mythic story. This is the best book I've read all year, and I will definitely be looking to read more historical fiction from Margaret George in the future....more
In Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly, we find the Greek gods and goddesses living together in a filthy, run-down house in London. Artemis is a dog wIn Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly, we find the Greek gods and goddesses living together in a filthy, run-down house in London. Artemis is a dog walker. Apollo is working as a t.v. psychic. Aphrodite is a phone sex operator. Eros is a born-again Christian. Dionysus owns a sleazy bar, "Bacchanalia". Hermes is still responsible for shepherding the souls of the dearly departed on their way into the underworld, but the entrance to Hades lies within a subway tube.
The gods, "terribly weakened over time," are suffering the effects of being unneeded and unwanted. People just don't believe anymore, or they've fallen in with various heresies. "If it wasn't for Jesus," Artemis complains, "I'd probably still be living on Olympus, running on the hillsides." My God, even Eros has fallen under the spell of that famous carpenter. Bickering with Aphrodite, the petulant boy whines, "I wish the Virgin Mary was my mother." The only thing worse than these humiliations is the endless boredom they have to endure, and that turns out to be their Achilles heel.
The gods seem to have little to do other than to harbor grudges, sabotage and double cross each other. To teach her nephew Apollo a lesson, Aphrodite has her son Eros shoot him with an enchanted arrow, making him fall in love with a very mediocre human named Alice. Of course, Alice is already in love with a geeky engineer named Neil, and so is destined to spurn Apollo's love. Chaos ensues when Apollo's sister Artemis hires Alice to clean the family's home. When Alice resists Apollo's advances, he lashes out threatening not only Alice but the entire world. Neil must channel his inner Hercules in order to "save the [cleaner:], save the world."
Gods Behaving Badly is a thoroughly amusing story that captures both the spirit and capricious nature of the Greek gods and goddesses, and stitches them into a modern-day tapestry of hilarity! Marie Phillips shares her wonderfully wicked imagination with the reader, making for an impossible-to-put-down read. As the story quickly unfolds, Phillips peppers the novel with an abundance of Greek mythology, making the story laugh-out-loud funny.
With a highly imaginative portrayal of the Greek gods dealing with their loss of power in "the age of non-believing," Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly is delightful and refreshing. The modernization of the Greek gods, is as believable as it is hilarious in this witty mixture of mythology and reality. If you have any interest at all in Greek mythology, or if you're just looking for a book so funny it'll make you pee your pants, pick up Gods Behaving Badly....more