Saturday, July 31, 2010

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth were happily in love and ready to be married - until Anne's friend Lady Russel persuades her that Captain Wentworth, a poor man in the army, is not the man for her. Eight years later, however, society brings them together again. Anne still loves him, and she must divulge if he still loves her, a hard task considering all the lovely young women who would do anything to marry the handsome and now wealthy Captain. Persuasion is a story filled with jealousy and uncertainty, as well as passion, simple joy, and a powerful, unconditional love.

Persuasion is my third Austen novel (the first being Pride and Prejudice, then Sense and Sensibility); I loved it. It kept me up late at night - midnight and later. I finished it in four days, which is a record for me as I do not read classics very quickly.

In one word, I would say this is a simple book, in the best sense. It is written well and the way the events of the story are played out build the characters' personalities, their way of living. The story progresses in just a way that mirrors Anne's feelings for Wentworth... In the beginning, there is no word of a Captain Wentworth, and Anne's life is happy. At least, on the outside. As everything falls into place, however, Anne becomes more and more unnerved and unable to conceal her love, the love she's had all along. The tension between the Captain and Anne Elliot was substantial and realistic. I was very impressed and am every excited to read and re-read all of Austen's wonderful novels. They're sitting on my shelf...waiting!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock has been traveling with his mentor, Sir Topher, for nearly ten years. Finnikin's father and mother died, along with most of the Lumeratens during the five days of unspeakable, when the Lumeraten country was taken over by an imposter king. Finnikin and Sir Topher believe the heir to the throne, Balthazaar, is dead until Finnikin is visited in his dreams by a goddess, who calls Finnikin to find her. The goddess gives Finnikin the novice Evanjalin, a silent girl with a bald head who claims that the heir of Lumatere is alive - and that she can take them to him. Loyal to his country but annoyed by this strange girl who won't speak to him, Finnikin and Sir Topher set off on a journey to find the heir and bring their country back together.

I don't really know how I feel about this book. For certain aspects, I love it. For others...not so much. It was strange, but when I put it down, I felt that it could have been epic, but part of its epicness was overshadowed. By what? Well, I'll start with the bad, and end with the good.

Bad: For one, there were several sexual implications or references. Some were obvious; some had hidden meanings. They were scattered all throughout the book. On top of that, I felt a bit lost, especially toward the beginning. While the book was written excellently, at times I felt there was too much information, and at others I felt there was too little. I found myself skimming over certain parts with little interest and then would read the scenes that had huge impact on the story, or I found interesting.

On the other hand, we have the good of this story: Melina Marchetta definitely has a talent when it comes to forming her sentences, and her characters. The characters had strong quirks or "handles" that made them singular. But the one thing about this book that struck me most was the culture, the desperateness of a people ruined and lost. The countries and peoples were fell formed and described. I was deeply moved by the plight of the Lumeratens, the scenes of Finnikin carrying a dead baby to its dead mother, of men and women fighting for all that they have lived for - all that their fathers, brothers, mothers, and sisters have died for. It was these things, as well as the powerful love story, that gave the book a mood and a feel to it that most books long for.

So whether or not you want to read it is your choice. While I can't really point you in either direction, I wish I could. And I hope there's a sequel that will be exactly what this one could have been - epic.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vintage Books: Celebrated Crimes V.5

This cover isn't much to boast about, and I know that. Hilariously, it was the side that really caught my eye - the part of the book that would be showing the most.

That was, to me, beautiful. It looked old enough, while still in good condition, so I didn't even bother to check the age. Yet. However, on opening it to the first page, I realized that I wasn't holding an ordinary "novel" in my hands. The very first page number in this Celebrated Crimes is in the 1400's. Shocked, I looked at the spine again and realized that it said Celebrated Crimes Volume 5. My mom, on hearing this, had the genius idea to buy the book and, over the course of however long it takes me, try to find the other volumes of Celebrated Crimes. It may take me 50 years (because I refuse to buy them online - haha!), but I'm determined.

So, I bought the book for $10.00. I can't remember if it was before or after that I noticed the date:

100 years old exactly this year. Let's just say I celebrated.

Happy reading! :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

100 Cupboards, Quotes

The horse slowed as they approached. Some of the buidings had been tall, four or five stories. Now, none of them stood above three. Paned windows stared at her with jagged teeth. The walls looked rotten, not with moisture or moss or mold, but with dry rot. They were simply softening and turning to dust. With its thick neck arched, the horse walked down the center street, and Henrietta stared at unhinged doors and collapsing windows. A few of the larger structures had burned, but their blackened bones still staggered towrd the sky, remembering, if no one else did, what they had been.

- Chapter 16 of Dandelion Fire, book 2 of the "100 Cupboards" trilogy
By N. D. Wilson

Very favorites. When I finish re-reading the trilogy for the 3rd time, I will write a review about each book.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adam by Ted Dekker

Daniel Clark is obsessed. So obsessed that he has sacrificed his marriage to his ex-wife Heather, along with everything else that should matter most. Why? The Eve Killer is out there, wreaking havoc by kidnapping young woman from ages nineteen to twenty-four and killing them with a new strain of meningitis. He works like a clock, killing his victims when the moon is new and waiting almost a full month before snatching the next young girl. The FBI has done everything, but Eve, as they call the killer, seemlingly cannot be stopped. After sixteen months of searching, Daniel is now hard on Eve's heels, sure that if he can just understand the killer's mind, he could catch him and bring him to justice. When a big break in the case is made, Daniel finds himself face to face with Eve and does his best to stop him; however, that is before Eve raises his gun, points it at Daniel, and pulls the trigger...

This book was amazing. Ted Dekker, as far as I know, is the only author that ever makes me want to read ahead. I was in the first 100 pages of Adam and I was dying to know what would happen to Daniel, Heather, Lori (Daniel's partner), and the rest. I wanted to know who Eve was, why he was killing all the women, and what this strain of meningitis really was. In the end, my expectations were far surpassed.

This book was intensely psychological, so if you want to read it, prepare yourself for mind games. Two of the characters were kidnapped at ages two and three and were abused growing up, based off the rules of the kidnapers' twisted religion; this affects their lives later on, which in turn creates a devastating affect in the book. You will see how easily our minds are deceived into hating truth and how scary that really is. I was amazed by the twist in the end, and I am so thankful for Ted Dekker's love for God and how he turns that love into great books that glorify Him.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Princess Poppy hasn't danced in three years.

Since her now brother-in-law, Galen, delivered her and her eleven sisters from the King Under Stone, who had once forced the twelve princesses to dance with his twelve sons every night, Poppy has avoided dancing at all costs.
Now, however, Poppy is staying with the Seadowns, her cousins, in Breton. Poppy manages to skirt the first few balls, and makes good friends with the visiting Dane prince, Christian. But when things begin to go askew at the Seadown's, with their clumsy new maid Ellen, and Christian apparently under a spell, it is up to Poppy to help her Bretoner friends out of a disastrous situation, in which dancing might be the only way.

I was satisfied with this story, just as I was with the rest of George's books. If I hadn't known before I picked it up, I wouldn't have guessed it was the story of Cinderella, which makes it all the more exciting. It was fresh, clean, and well-written. I am pleased once again and look forward to more!


I'm home now! :) Camping was absolutely wonderful! I got to chill with friends, enjoy sun (and some rain), eat good food, and read a good book.

Before we left for camping I had to go to the library to return some books and CD's that were due...and of course I ended up getting more books.

But first. I recently took back three of the books I had from the library because they either weren't super interesting, or other books were more pressing, or I realized I couldn't read every book on the planet, or all three. The books I will no longer be reading are: Academy 7, Avielle of Rhia, and The Princess and the Snowbird. I kept Finnikin of the Rock and The Season, which I hope to read soon.

The list I have from the library right now:
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
The Season by Sarah MacLean
Buckingham Palace Gardens by Anne Perry
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry

I really hope I have a chance to read all of these before they're due back. Three more books are on their way so I'm going to be reading a LOT. Which is fine by me. :) (Since I wrote this I've read through The Season and Finnikin of the Rock. The Season was a bit cheesy and MacLean's writing wasn't spectacular. I think I'm going to take it back because unfortunately I have to pick and choose what I'm going to read. Finnikin of the Rock was written very well; I'll probably keep that one for a little longer and I'm hoping to actually read it soon. But don't expect me to read all of the books above - I have a long list! There are a few trilogies/single books I want to re-read, which will take a while as well.)

More reviews on the way, too...

Happy reading! :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Out of the house... :)

I'm going beach camping this week, from today (Tuesday) thru Saturday! I'm so excited! I will catch up on my posts when I get home. I'm reading an amazing psychological thriller called Adam by Ted Dekker and I'm so excited to write about it! :)

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

How would you like it if you were the nephew of Hades? What if Zeus, Hades' brother, was your uncle?
What if Poseidon, the god of the sea, was your father?
Welcome to the world of Perseus Jackson, a troubled, dyslexic student from New York. He's never met his real father and his mother is married to a jerk who doesn't care one bit about them. After a failed attempt at a vacation with his mother because he was being chased by monsters, Percy lands on Half-blood Hill with his best friend Grover. There, he discovers his incredibly old heritage. After some training, Percy is picked to go on a very important quest: to find Zeus' lightning bolt, which has been stolen. Zeus is blaming Poseidon, who is angry with Zeus for accusing him. If Percy doesn't find the lightning bold before June 21st, the Summer Solstice, there will be a great war between the gods that could be impossible to stop.

While it may seem as though I enjoy most of the books I read, there have been a few thorns in the rosebush recently. A lot of people said they loved the Pendragon series, but I hardly got through half of the first book, and that was with skimming. So, even though everyone I've talked to says they love this book, I was skeptical...

I am skeptical no longer! I was surprised at how well-written and easy-flowing this story is. Percy is a real kid, one you would see at a school. He's got human weaknesses and personality traits and strengths (excluding the powers he's inherited from his father). Rick Riordan does a wonderful job at making Percy Jackson a kid you can relate to and at least like. The other characters, too, even with their powers or god/monster-like deformities, seem real.
And this story is funny. I've found myself enjoying the humor way more than expected. Grover is always hungry and talks about food in his sleep. There is a lot of sarcasm about Percy's life, and Percy himself has a nice sense of humor.

I love Greek and Roman mythology, so this was a real treat. Riordan is very knowledgable in this subject and gives you the facts as Homer would have, except at a much easier level. I am reminded again while reading these books that while the gods make for great stories, I'm SO happy they don't actually exist! They have affairs with mortal women or men all the time, they make promises to not have affairs and then break their promises, then punish their children for existing when they're the ones making the mistakes. They fight all the time... In The Lightning Thief, Ares, the god of war, claims that he likes it when his family members fight - it means more bloodshed. So basically, they're immoral immortals who like to kill and only care about their own well-being. And they turn against their millions of children. Or their children beat them. Either way.

In any case, Rick Riordan has created a wonderful series that I can't wait to finish. The second book has yet to come in at the library, but I'm looking foward to it! For now I need to go look at my book list and the books from the library and decide what I'm going to read next!

Happy reading! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vintage Books: A Mother's Sacrifice

I love this book. It's beautiful, and it has history.

To: President of Sorority
Dear Rose,
May the reading of this book help you to forget the pain you are submitted to. Here's to a speedy recovery. The H. F. A. Sorority

Dated: March 1928

Okay, so this is an old book. 1928 is old enough for me to want to spend 10 bucks on it, especially since it's so beautiful. I didn't really think much about the real publication date, but brought it home immediately.
A week later I brought home another addition (I'll post about that one hopefully next), and the story behind this new book made me go back and look at the publication date of A Mother's Sacrifice. What I saw made me so proud of my purchase. :)

119 years old. When I got this, it was my oldest book to date. It's been trumped now, but I still love this one. It's in such good condition that I could read it without making it fall apart. Someday I just might pick it up...

Happy reading! :)

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

Theodore Boone is one smart kids. With both parents as lawyers, he knows more about the law and what goes on in a courtroom than a lot of lawyers. Certainly more than your average pre-teen. He knows all the judges, what they do, and who works under them. He knows how each trial should go. He gives advice to his eight grade (and under) friends who have legal and financial family issues. He's a good kid, wanting to help his community through law, and is trying to decide whether or not he wants to be a lawyer or a judge. In Theo's small town in New York, the usual cases aren't much of an excitement. But now there has been a murder, and Theo, an eighth grader with a sharp mind and a love for law, is the only one who knows the truth - and he doesn't knw what to do with it.

I have to say: as much as I was looking forward to reading this book, I wasn't that impressed. The description makes it sound intense, but it really isn't. This involves maybe half the book. The rest is preparing the audience (aimed for the younger bunch) for what lies in store...such as where each person in court sits and what they do; or it is a collection of smaller cases that Theo works on with his friends who need his help...such as a boy whose family is about to lose their house, or a girl whose parents are about to get a divorce. And while learning about all these different areas of law is interesting, it's NOT what the description is promising. Which is very disappointing.

I think this is a great book if you want to learn about law and the different areas and how exactly things go on in a court room, with no surprise witnesses and whatnot (like you see on TV). But if you're looking for a fast-paced novel with twists and suspense, this is not the book for you. It only really starts to get interesting in the end; but still, I don't think I want to read the next one. Too much of the first one was iffy, and I don't want to waste my time.

A couple of good things about the book... I felt like it had a lot of character. Theo's life is very "perfect" in a sense. His parents are both very organized. Theo has a schedule he has to keep to - and wants to keep to. The Boone's lives are straight-forward, getting things done. It helped the story a lot. The way Grisham describes each and every lawyer, secretary, suspect, witness and judge is bright and gives life to the book. Because of this, I think I would enjoy one of Grisham's older novels. Still, overall, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer was a disappointment for someone who was expecting the fast-paced story the description makes it sound like.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea lives on Nollop, an island off the coast of South Carolina. It was named after the esteemed Nevin Nollop, a man who had created a thirty-five letter sentence using all of the letters of the alphabet, called a pangram. A statue of Mr. Nollop was built, and above it, thirty-five tiles portrayed the wonderful sentence that started it all: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

Then one day the first tile falls, and while most of the citizens of Nollop don't realize it, the statue has been there for a long time, and there's a good chance it's deteriorating. Instead the island citizens believe it is a sign from Nollop beyond the grave. As each tile falls a new letter is banned from the alphabet. The only thing that can save them is a new pangram with thiry-two letters or less. In the face of almost certain banishment, Ella and her friends work their hardest to try to deliver their small island from complete destruction by loss of letters.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Mark Dunn is imaginitive and I was very inspired by his incredible use of words. The idea alone, however, was enough to reel me in. Because of my love for words, I can't imagine not being able to use...let's say...the letter "M". My mom's name starts with "M". My dad's name has an "M" in it. My last name, my sister's name, not to mention Monday, or Mugs, or March, May, or November. How would - how could we live like that?

Mark Dunn gives the perfect picture of life without literature, words, and talking. Of abbreviations and offenses against Nevin Nollop. Of underground word organizations and of a sentence puzzle that was the only hope for survival for the small island of Nollop and its literate citizens.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

This story is about a girl, the youngest in a family of twelve children, a girl with no name. The lass, she is called by her older brother, Hans-Peter. They live in a fantasy version of Nothern Europe, where snow is always falling and the families are always cold. After being effected by the enchantment of a White Reindeer, the lass finds she can talk to animals... And when she has a sudden encounter with a magical bear, called an isbjorn (which literally means ice bear), the lass heads off on a journey with the isbjorn to give her family the freedom and wealth they have always desired - all the while playing a dangerous game with the wicked spell-casters of the Northlands and the bear she comes to love.

This story was expertly told. It is original and adventurous. Jessica Day George once again delivers with her excellent writing and ability to retell folklore and fairytales with a spin. This story was originally a Nordic fairytale called "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." I've never read/heard the original story, so I don't know how close she kept it. However, because of how exciting George's version was, I want to find a copy of the original fairytale and read it.

Again, Jessica Day George writes wonderful fantasy romances while keeping things clean and sweet. I can't wait to own all of her books - to see them lined up all neatly on my shelf, and to think about the wonderful stories inside of them, knowing they'll always be a good choice.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What am I reading now?

I've been reading some pretty good books lately...and one not so great book. (But I'll get to that later...) I just read Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George and am currently reading Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, a children's book by acclaimed author John Grisham. In the near future I hope to be reading The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series; Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund (love this author and her book Aurelia, so hopefully this one will be just as good); Avielle of Rhia (can't remember the author's name but it looks like a good fantasy story); and The Season by Sarah MacLean (an 1800's mystery/romance). And...that's it.

As for the books I'm looking forward to reading, but haven't come in at the library... Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (recommended by Amazon while I was researching Incarceron); The Princess and the Snowbird by Mette Ivie Harrison (a fantasy romance); Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight, and Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (believe it or not I have NOT read ANY of the Harry Potter books. I really want to though); and the Snow Walker trilogy by Catherine Fisher.

There's more. I've scratched the surface but not too much. :) The problem is, I own about 30 of the Barnes and Noble Classics series and I haven't read even half of them... Therefore, I have a lot of reading to do.

Which means I should get off of here and get to it! Theodore Boone is starting to get to the heart of the mystery, so I'm sure if I pick it up today I'll have it finished by tomorrow. Looking forward to posting about it!

Happy reading! :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

I love pictures...

...and I love books.

So pictures of books are beautiful.

Just because.

Happy reading! :)

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

There's something going on in the royal Westfalian family, and no one can figure out what it is. The twelve princesses of all different ages haven't been to a ball in years - and yet every morning the maids wake from a deep sleep to find that the girls' dancing slippers have been worn through. And while the king puts up with this for a very long time, he soon comes to the end of his rope and says his throne (when he dies) and one of his daughters belongs to the man who can solve this mystery.
Galen, a former soldier working with his uncle as one of the king's undergardners, watches the progress as nine princes come and go with no luck in solving the mystery. Having met the princesses, Galen is concerned for their safety and decides to play his own hand, hoping that a few unexpected gifts and talents may help him along the way.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses has always been a favorite story of mine, ever since I read the Disney version in the Disney Fairytale Book. For a few years now I've been wanting to find a book that holds the same wonderful story I read all that time ago, but revised and for an older audience. After a little research I came across an author by the name of Jessica Day George, who had written exactly what I was looking for. I had never heard of George, but was willing to give this book a try for the sake of my love for the story.

I'm SOOOO glad I read this book! It was well told and easy to follow, but with some great twists that are George's original addition to the story - her signature print. The princesses are easy to like, as is Galen, the wonderful hero of this story.

Since this book I've read George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow (post coming soon!) and am currently reading her newest novel, Princess of Glass. I can officially say that I love this author. And while she's not the next J. K. Rowling, her stories deliver, they're fun, they're adventurous, and they're clean, which I've found can be a big problem in modern literature. All those things, and more, make George's works so enjoyable that you'll want to come back for more.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Malva is a beautiful, strong-willed young lady, the princetta of her father's kindgom, Galnicia. But there is one problem: Malva is being married off to the Prince of Andemark, a man she hardly knows and doesn't love. With the help of the Archont, her tutor, and Philomena, her chambermaid, Malva manages to escape her country - but only to fall into adventures she would have never dreamed of.

A couple things about this book caught my eye. One, the name...a twist on the title "princess". And two, the art. It swirls and twists and the colors are bright and they contrast beautifully together.

This truly was an adventure. The characters grow in such a way that makes them real and easy to understand. I could relate to most of them in different ways. They all had their own special gift or personality to give to the story to make it less and less like a book and more and more like a work of art.

If you are looking for a book that has a perfectly happy ending, don't pick this one up. I am a big fan of books that end with sacrifice and sometimes even tragedy, because it gives the book a deeper sense of reality. Now, I don't have anything against happy fact, I'm a hopeless romantic who just LOVES a happy ending, especially if it is involved in a love story. However, when an author goes against what everyone else is doing and creates a sense of mortality in the characters, while still giving them enough class to stay loved and adored for a long time, I cannot help but stand and applaud. This is exactly what Anne-Laure Bondoux has done, leaving me a happy reader.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Walter Hartright, one of the main characters in The Woman in White, is one of those unlikely heroes who you just cannot help but fall in love with. Art is his passion, and he's a rather quiet gentleman with kindness for everyone. However, as the story continues on, Walter shows intense courage, passion, and love in the events that change his life forever.

This book was writting differently than the majority of books. As the mystery unfolds, each character gives one or more account of what they have seen, heard, and/or carefully observed. (So when the first account come to an end, don't be shocked.) This way of presenting a story really works to convey the suspense - and danger - of the situations the characters are in. It gives the characters life, more personality.

I'm not going to give a synopsis. When I read the synopsis on the back of the copy I bought, it gave me a completely different idea of what the story was going to be like than what it actually was. (That frustrates me immensely.) All I can say, besides, "Go read this book!", is that it is full of adventure, intrique, romance and mystery. It is light and it is dark; it is fast-paced and it is emotional. I never lost interest. When I was done with it, I was so glad I had read it. It truly is a classic.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron is a prison. It is the largest prison to ever exist. Civilizations have grown inside of it, people wandering, building cities, but all under Incarceron's watchful eye. Incarceron is alive.

Finn is a prisoner and a starseer. During fits of illness, he sees bouts of a past he doesn't remember, as well as Sapphique, the legend of hope to whom every prisoner looks. Finn, however feels there is no hope. None at all. Until he finds the Key. It is something he remembers from a long time ago, from that same past that torments him.

Claudia is in the Outside, and she is destined to be queen. But however magnificent her father makes it out to be, she doesn't want the title; not after what happened to Prince Giles, her first fiance. She starts to wonder, based off a few clues, if Giles was actually killed, like the Queen and the court said. And then she finds the Key...

I love it when I pick up a book and just know it's going to be a good one. While I didn't "pick this one up" in a literal sense, when I found it on Amazon, I just knew I was going to love it.

I was right.

For one, Incarceron is expertly written and crafted, from first page to last. Each character displayed Fisher's amazing ability to give life to the story, with their individual strengths and weeknesses that make them human. (My favorite character was Jared... He's one of those characters you wish you could meet.)

On word I could use to describe this book would be: smooth. There are no breaks in the story, where you wonder when it will pick up again. It is a huge example to me for my own writing, and actually helped me to see some errors in how I had constructed my story.

This leaves me with only one more thing to say: When the sequal, Sapphique, comes out later this year, I'm going to buy it. Because I know I will enjoy it.

(I won't do this with every post, but I feel obligated to say that while this is a very clean book, one of the more rough characters hates one of the female characters and calls her a "little b**ch". It is repeated five times over the course of 450 pages.)