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BOOK REVIEWS > Petra's Fall Challenge Reviews

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message 1: by Petra (last edited Sep 03, 2010 06:36AM) (new)

Petra Next by Michael Crichton. 3*

Interesting story of biogenetics-gone-crazy. The Genie has been let out of the bottle and the issues of gene manipulation, control and ownership are let loose into Society.
Although not the best of writing, this is an interesting look at what can happen when the Law and Scientists and bio-genetic companies (Big Business) look more into the money-to-be-made and the control of "cells", rather than the outcome of their "work".
The story has many story tracks, all with a different aspect of the issues.
Gerrard and Dave are interesting and one both feels wonder that these may come to being and fear that they will. With all the research happening today and the talk of cloning, the issues in this story have a sense of possible reality to them.


message 2: by Petra (new)

Petra Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. 1*

Can't really review it without giving away spoilers. Suffice to say that this is not a favorite series of mine. So many flaws, too many convenient/quick endings to story lines, not realistic (even in a dystopian type of world)....the story just doesn't hang together in many ways.


message 3: by Petra (new)

Petra Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde. 4*

Each tale is a credit to the wonderful and dark mind of Oscar Wilde. Although each tale is "typical" in the fairy tale style, Oscar Wilde has added his particular style and flair to them. Slightly off the norm, with a twist of dark.


message 4: by Petra (new)

Petra The Crucible by Arthur Miller. 5*

I saw this play on stage years ago and it was chilling then. Reading it brought out the same emotions.
Its absolutely chilling how people would denounce their friends and neighbours for revenge, personal gain or fear, in order to save themselves. The rigidity and superstitions of the times, especially Court Judges, was frightening.
Set in Salem during the witch hunts, this play brings out the hysteria of the times.


message 5: by Petra (new)

Petra The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. 4*

My first Sherlock Holmes mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed it! This was a very Victorian and charming story. What's not to love about a story containing a ghostly, attacking dog and an old family legend coming true?
I was surprised at how little Sherlock Holmes was involved. He appears at the beginning and again about 2/3 of the way through the book. The story is told entirely through Watson's eyes. That's not a bad thing, as Watson is truly a charming and entertaining person with a ton of observational abilities.
I can see how Sherlock Holmes stories have survived over the years and why people still continue to read them. I'll be looking into more myself. They're wonderful, delightful, easy, interesting reading.


message 6: by Petra (new)

Petra Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. 5*

A fun mystery with interesting and amusing characters. I loved Amelia's personality and her way of dealing with the World. In this story, besides the mystery, the issues of removing antiquities from Egypt are introduced.
The characters are more developed than most "cozy" mysteries, which I really liked, as are the interactions between the main characters.
I'm going to enjoy this series.


message 7: by Petra (new)

Petra Coffee: A Dark History by Antony Wild. 3*

I'd give this book 3.5 stars, if I could.
There's a lot of interesting information here about coffee and the coffee trade.
The author does run off on mainly unrelated tangents occasionally and some of the history of the Coffee Traders, with all the names and dates and ship names, is quite dry and detailed but, on the whole, this is an interesting look at coffee history from ancient times to the present, including Fair Trade coffees.


message 8: by Petra (new)

Petra Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical by Anthony Bourdain. 3*

I started reading by knowing nothing about Typhoid Mary. I came away not knowing much more but having enjoyed the book, none the less.
There's some interesting perspective on social times and customs and beliefs, a little bit about Mary Mallon and some interesting speculations thrown in as well.
The author seems to have a soft spot for Mary since they are both professional cooks. He feels for her hardships, whether true or speculated, he feels a part of her world and wishes to help in some way.
All in all, an interesting book for an overview of the early 1900s and a mysterious case of a carrier of a disease, in a time when "carriers" were just discovered in the world of science.


message 9: by Petra (new)

Petra Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore. 5*

Without giving away the plotline, this is an excellent story, darker than other Christopher Moore books that I've read, with a serious plot line.
This book read like a thriller and yet preserved the humour that Christopher Moore is all about. A page-turner from Page 1.
Highly recommended.


message 10: by Petra (new)

Petra The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon. 4*

I entered this book knowing minimal about Aristotle and Alexander The Great. I now want to know more.
This is an interesting look at Aristotle's time of tutoring a teenage Alexander. It's a human look at a time of political intrigue, expanding Worlds and learning.
Aristotle teaches that one should try to find balance (the golden mean) in all things, while Alexander struggles to conquer and rule....and yet he learns from Aristotle and this knowledge makes him stronger as a ruler.
This story is not lead by action or plot. It's led by character development and growth.


message 11: by Petra (new)

Petra The Girls by Lori Lansens. 4*

Humerous, emotional, loving....real. Written as a memoir, this novel makes one forget that these girls did not exist. The story of Rose and Ruby is touching. It's written as a memoir with each girl writing different chapters. The author did a marvelous job of giving each girl a voice and character and writing style. One gets to know each girl as a seperate personality and individual.
This is a story that will stay with me for awhile.


message 12: by Petra (new)

Petra Still Alice by Lisa Genova. 4*

Very touching, very moving. Alice was a brave lady and I loved the ending.
In many ways, Alice's struggle with Alzheimer's reminded me a lot of the struggle of every person going through a life-threatening or life-ending disease. Many of the struggles to maintain one's life patterns and one's "self" are portrayed in a real and human way.
I enjoyed this story. Sad though it was, it became a positive experience.


message 13: by Petra (new)

Petra Northanger Abbey by Jane Ausetn. 4*

Charming, funny and satirical. This is one of my favorite Austen books. It was a fun story to read.
In essence, it's the story of a young girl on her first foray into the World. Her experiences lead her to mature from a very naive girl with an active immagination to a young lady on her way to maturity and wisdom.
Very Victorian in style, very readable and just plain fun.


message 14: by Petra (new)

Petra The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran. 2*

This could have been a good, strong story but nothing much about it comes together in a realistic way.
The characters do not react like people would in the situations, conversations are stilted, the story itself doesn't move smoothly and some situations just don't seem plausible.


message 15: by Petra (new)

Petra The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. 4*

This is more like 2 books in one.
The historical novel telling the beginning of polygamy within the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), the "how", the "why" and then continues to show the impact of such a lifestyle on the women, children and men and, finally, how the end of polygamy started to come about and the splintering of the LDSs into 2 groups: Mormons and Firsts.
I can't comment on any accuracy of facts within this story but it's fascinating and, at times, sad.
The modern day story tells of a young man who was thrown out of a community of Firsts (a common practise, apparently, as the young boys/men are competition for the older men wanting younger & additional wives). He returns only because his mother has been arrested for killing his father.
This part of the story shows the effects of growing up in a polygamist community and how it affects the children (mainly) and the belief system that allows the practise of polygamy to continue and why it would be hard to fully extinguish.
The two stories are wonderfully intertwined and support each other, making the whole book stronger. This book could be read on many different levels and I enjoyed it for all the aspects of the story.


message 16: by Petra (new)

Petra Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. 5*

An interesting look at what happens to bodies donated to science. Each chapter is devoted to a different aspect of donation or preparing the body.
This book makes one think about what will become of one after death. Bury, cremation or donation?.....or a new perogative??? Roach approaches all aspects she writes about with dignity, respect and a touch of humour.
Those who donate their bodies to science are the real heroes. Because of them we have safer cars, safer streets (crime solving techniques), better doctors, etc.


message 17: by Petra (new)

Petra The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. 5*

A fun, magical, mystical, interesting story. I haven't read any of the Narnia books and this one was a great introduction.
This story can be enjoyed by anyone who likes the mystical, the ultimate battle of good vs evil and good friendships. It's just a fun story.
This is the second book by C.S. Lewis that I've read and I enjoy his wit and storytelling abilities.


message 18: by Petra (new)

Petra The Burning Wire by Jeffrey Deaver. 4*

Another good Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sachs mystery. In this one Lincoln and the Team try to stop a person who uses high power electricity to electrocute innocent people in public surroundings.

(This book is 9th in the series)


message 19: by Petra (new)

Petra Run at Destruction: A True Fatal Love Triangle by Lynda Drews. 4*

This story is a touching retelling of a difficult time in the author's life. The author finds a way to understanding and acceptance of a dear friend's death. Murder or accident?....how can one tell?
There are two stories happening here:
One that tells of the Running Community in Green Bay, complete with the good friendships forged, the togetherness of the group and their interactions with each other. It's a wonderful story of friendship through Life, within a very close group of people.
The other is a retelling of the death of one of this Group, a close friend to many of them. Since the prime suspect is also known to the group, it also tells the story of confusion of beliefs and of torn loyalties and a need to come to a closure and understanding.
At times a bit jumpy in the time-frame as there are moments from the Past interspersed in the Present telling of the story but this doesn't take away from the attempt to find a way to the truth. All in all, a compelling, touching, warm and loving story of a friendship that doesn't end with death.
This book is a wonderful tribute to a good friend and companion.


message 20: by Petra (new)

Petra Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. 5*

Pietro Brwna aka Peter Brown aka Bearclaw is a Bad Guy that you can't help rooting for and loving. A kinder, warmer, more caring Hit Man doesn't exist.
This story of a Hit Man-turned-Dr in the Witness Protection System is a funny (sarcastic), sad, detailed (at times, grisly) and no-holds-barred telling of Dr. Brown's life. The two parallel stories of his past and his present are seamless and the Reader can't wait to continue with either and will side with this kind and caring Killer.
This story is suspenseful, humerous, warm, tender, brutal, grisly and, above all, a great read.


message 21: by Petra (new)

Petra Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. 5*

Wow!! Amazing!
This was not the love story I expected to find between these pages. It was a look at the author's love of his country, both pre- and post-Revolution. It's not apparent at first but quickly becomes so. Brilliantly told.


message 22: by Petra (new)

Petra The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. 2*

A solid 1-star book elevated to 2-star status because of the final 60-70 pages. Do yourself a favor if you read this book and skip the first 200+ pages and jump directly to the final 100. You won't miss anything.
Filled with a lot of filler. This is due to the lack of knowledge of what happened to Percy Fawcett. It's mostly quotes and basic information on Percy's ealier life and the exploring he did.
The last 70 or so pages is filled with interesting archeaological information on South American tribes and how they may have lived, survived and constructed their homes thousands of years ago. Wish the rest of the book had focussed on this aspect of South American Tribal life and culture.


message 23: by Petra (new)

Petra The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. 4*

A touching story of a family's struggle to find peace and understanding with the knowledge that their mother's cells are being used for research and the story of how these cells help advance medical research in so many aspects. We've all benefitted from the HeLa cells and the research done with them.


message 24: by Petra (new)

Petra The Bishop's Man by Lyndon McIntyre. 2*

This book has a good premise: a Bishop's "clean-up" man comes to terms with the consequences of the actions he's done. In his job, Father MacAskill smooths over situations where a priest has overstepped the boundaries of his vows. He calms the families, removes the priest from the situation, keeps the situations out of the press, etc.
However, this story never goes anywhere. The Father has doubts, fears, guilt, etc. about the consequences of his work. But nothing is concrete or explained. It's all innuendo, mistakes, unknowns. It's slow moving (very, very slow), there's no personal developments occurring.....
In the end, after being fairly bored with the slow progress, I found that there's no resolution to any of the issues and that more issues were opened right at the end. Very disappointing.


message 25: by Petra (last edited Nov 17, 2010 02:03PM) (new)

Petra The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. 5*
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. 5*
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. 4*


I just noticed that I haven't been putting the Narnia books here for review.
They're all cute and I would have been totally enthralled with the magic and talking creatures and adventures, etc. when I was a kid. This really is a fun series for kids. I'm enjoying them all as an adult, too. They're plain fun.
Prince Caspian slows down a little bit in the middle, but is otherwise up to par with the others.


message 26: by Petra (last edited Nov 18, 2010 06:59PM) (new)

Petra The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt. 4.5*

Meaty. Detailed. Interesting. Realistic.
It's hard to sum up a book like this. There's lots of history of the socio-political atmosphere of England and mainland Europe from the 1890s-1919, there are wonderful characters (lots of them) who grow and emerge through the book. Over the course of the book, the characters and the times show their weaknesses and strengths, their doubts and their fears.
There are secrets and twists/turns in everyone's lives and slowly, slowly the reader is drawn into this world of intrigue, family and life.


message 27: by Petra (new)

Petra Does anyone read these and are they helpful and/or interesting? I'm debating whether to continue Reviews with the Winter Challenge or not and got to wondering whether they are useful to anyone.

Thanks!


message 28: by Dlmrose (new)

Dlmrose | 17400 comments Mod
Petra wrote: "Does anyone read these and are they helpful and/or interesting? I'm debating whether to continue Reviews with the Winter Challenge or not and got to wondering whether they are useful to anyone.

..."


I read them. I like seeing what people think about their book choices.


message 29: by Donna Jo (new)

Donna Jo Atwood | 3157 comments I do enjoy reading comments about the various books. I don't post--I'm terrible about not getting my books I've read recorded in GR, but I admire the people who take the time to write about what they've read.


message 30: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 143 comments Do you have the reviews with the books on your shelf, too? I don't tend to read the reviews in threads like this, but if someone has posted that they read a book that I was interested in, I will click over to that person and their shelves and see if they reviewed it. That being said, I was interested enough to click into this thread to see what it was all about...


message 31: by Donna Jo (new)

Donna Jo Atwood | 3157 comments If I write anything (and I'm trying to do better about it), I tend to write just a sentence or two about whether or not I liked the books. I don't write really good reviews like Petra and some of the others do.


message 32: by Kathy G. (new)

Kathy G. | 20 comments Petra- I love your reviews. I read them!


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