"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...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 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. (less)
"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...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 and friendship. (less)
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'll...moreStephen 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.(less)
"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....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. 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.
I actually can't remember how long ago I read this one. It is great though. An absolutely beuatiful book! The details are meticulous and the character...moreI actually can't remember how long ago I read this one. It is great though. An absolutely beuatiful book! The details are meticulous and the characters are colorful (to say the least.)(less)
In Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger. Liesel is a sensitive young girl all to familiar with casualties of lif...moreIn Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger. Liesel is a sensitive young girl all to familiar with casualties of life in Nazi Germany. By the time she is turned over to foster care at age nine, she's already stolen her first book: The Gravedigger's Handbook.
Her new working-class parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann, manage to eke out a meager living for themselves on the outskirts of Munich, Germany. Rosa is a stern but loving woman who has already raised her own two children. Hans is a gentle man who helps Liesel to cope with the trauma of her past, while teaching her to read and write using her stolen book.
Through the years of her childhood during the late 1930's and into the 1940's, Liesel manages to heist a few more books - even one from a Nazi book burning. When she's not stealing (and sometimes when she is) Liesel also fashions together a peculiar group of friends: Rudy, the boy-next-door, with hair the color of a lemon; Ilsa Hermann, the mayor's wife, devastated by her own losses; Max Vandenburg, a Jewish fist-fighter living in the Hubermann's basement.
Death lets us know in no uncertain terms that this is a sad story. What is not apparent at the beginning of The Book Thief is that it is also a beautiful and astonishing story. In fact, it is best book I've read in a long time. I was mesmerized by Liesel as she discovered the power of words. The story is emotional and poetic, and I hope I'll never forget it. (less)
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 20 or so years, you already know the premise of Jurassic Park. To quote one of my favorite lines f...moreUnless you've been living under a rock for the last 20 or so years, you already know the premise of Jurassic Park. To quote one of my favorite lines from the movie: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth." Well, there you have it in a nutshell: a wealthy eccentric named John Hammond buys an island in Costa Rica and turns it into Jurassic Park - a living biological preserve for genetically engineered dinosaurs.
The thing you need to know about the book is that it is quite different from the movie on a number of points. I will not spoil it for you here, but suffice it to say that I have seen the movie numerous times, and I never knew what was coming next in the book. It had me reading quickly to get to the end and see how the characters were going to get out of trouble. In my opinion, the book kicks the movie's a**.
Jurassic Park was captivating and completely engrossing from the very first chapter. Michael Crichton sure knew how to create tension and suspense in his novels! I was on the edge of my seat, racing toward the finish line and hoping none of my favorite characters ended up on the dino-diet. It was a fast-paced read and almost impossible for me to put down.
Jurassic Park is simply thrilling - and quite a bit darker than it's movie adaptation. Crichton manages to give the reader all of the scientific details without bogging down the story or giving up even an ounce of the creepy suspense that builds from the first pages. A phenomenal "techno-thriller," Jurassic Park and Michael Crichton deserve every bit of accolade they have received. I am deeply impressed, and will definitely be recommending this book to others.
The Last Unicorn is one of my all-time favorite childhood movies, but I didn't know until recently that it was based on a wonderful book by Peter S. B...moreThe Last Unicorn is one of my all-time favorite childhood movies, but I didn't know until recently that it was based on a wonderful book by Peter S. Beagle. Full of mythical creatures and magicians, The Last Unicorn is a complex and enchanting fantasy story that wraps the reader up in it's timeless magic.
The novel begins in the lilac wood of the unicorn, as she listens in to two hunters arguing over the existence of unicorns in the world. After realizing that she had not seen another unicorn in some time, she begins to wonder if she may in fact be the last of her kind. Thus begins her epic quest in search of other unicorns.
During her journey she meets an entertaining cast of characters: Mommy Fortuna, owner of the Midnight Carnival; the harpy Celaeno, a great bronze bird with the face of a hag and deadly, rending talons; Schmendrick, a fairly inept magician; Molly Grue, a woman-of-the-woods, living with a band of outlaws; and of course King Haggard and his Red Bull, the captors of all of the unicorns in the world.
The unicorn's quest is as much a voyage of self-discovery as it is a journey to find her people. She must face the truth about herself and her world - whether she wants to or not - and complete her pilgrimage to save the other unicorns. The story of The Last Unicorn is a beautiful tale of love and hope, what makes a hero a hero, and the accomplishment of a "happily ever after."
Peter S. Beagle's writing is brimming with dazzlingly descriptive language, prose and wit. His characters are extremely well-written, adding to the beauty and grace of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book - first sentence to last - I didn't want the adventure to end. Enchanting - captivating - intriguing - nothing goes quite far enough to describe this enduring fairy-tale. Whether you're a fan of classic fantasy, or you just need a bit of magic in your life, you should pick up Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. You have my personal guarantee - you won't be disappointed.(less)
Very enlightening look at the couple behind the Born Free phenomenon. If you've only ever read Born Free or seen the movie, you have not idea of the s...moreVery enlightening look at the couple behind the Born Free phenomenon. If you've only ever read Born Free or seen the movie, you have not idea of the suffering these two people endured in their lives to bring conservation and other animal issues to the forefront from the 1940's to the 1980's.
This joint biography traces the long and turbulent travels of George and Joy from their childhoods to their fateful meeting on Christmas in 1942 to their bizarre murders years later. Using actual letters and entries from each of their diaries, Adrian House creates a picture of two complex people caught up in a difficult marriage.
Before reading this I had no idea Joy Adamson was such a disturbed woman throughout her life (it was quite before my time actually.) She was decietful, petulant, and just downright mean at times. It is amazing to me that George never divorced her!
All things considered however, both Joy and George loved animals and realized the need to conserve them in their natural habitats. Each of them were of clear and unwavering vision, as well as tremendous energy, tenacity and courage. This book is an extremely well-rounded account of both George and Joy and their turbulent lives together.
This is an exceptional read for anyone who is interested in Africa, animals, art, history, or human relationships. I highly recommend it!(less)
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 Pari...moreMy 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.(less)
In Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, 10th grader Stargirl Cawaway certainly marches to the beat of her own drum - a dangerous pastime for any high school stu...moreIn Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, 10th grader Stargirl Cawaway certainly marches to the beat of her own drum - a dangerous pastime for any high school student. Kimono wearing, ukulele playing Stargirl is a charming and friendly character who dances when there is no music and laughs when there are no jokes.
I wish I could have been as brave and altruistic as Spinelli's titular heroine when I was in high school. Stargirl is a true individual, and the kind of girl I want to grow up to be one day!
Stargirl is a great story with a wonderful ending. Delightfully touching and humorous, I dare you not to learn a lesson about individuality and conformity when you read Stargirl.(less)