Tag Archives: literature

Book Review: The Road

Book: The Road

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Recommend: This one is not for the faint of heart but worth the read.

I have heard so much about this book. It is mentioned almost constantly when discussing post-apocalyptic works as the standard to measure against and now that I’ve read it, I can completely understand why.

This story centers around a boy and his father as they travel through a burned out country where most of the people they meet are corpses or much worse.  The lack of complete detail in this book about why the world is the way that it is actually adds to its intensity. You have no idea why the world burned or what caused their struggle, only that they fighting to stay alive in the grim world they are faced with.

Definitely worth picking up but the gore level and suicidal tendencies might keep younger readers from this one. Not easy to get through but well worth the journey.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: Inferno

Book: Inferno

Author: Dan Brown

Recommend: Not in a million years would I suggest this one to anyone…

Okay, there is not great love lost between myself and author Dan Brown. I keep an eye on his books mostly because of how much I disagree with the man. This one is the most recent book in his Robert Langdon series and is the worst I’ve read. The action is completely predictable, the scenarios stale and the supporting cast of characters are flimsy. Not to mention the theory behind the book is completely illogical. Proponents of the idea that we are going to outgrow what the earth can support is using only half the facts. they focus on birthrates and ignore the impact of disease and death completely.

The only reason I finished this  one was because I wanted to write a review for it. This one was completely phoned it and so formulaic that it was painful to read, feeling the bones poking through what thin story there was. This is a far cry from the first two Robert Langdon books. Don’t waste your time.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

TRASH IT!!

 

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Book Review: Archangel

Book: Archangel

Author: Sharon Shinn

Recommend: Definitely – it’s a great read!

A friend of mine and I were talking books earlier this week, comparing reading lists. We discussed our love for all things Harry Potter and some of our other favorite authors. She mentioned this book and told me that I had to read it. When she told me about the plot, I was honestly a bit nervous simply because I don’t read much where the plot involves angels. I haven’t found anything that I really liked about angels. However, this friend hasn’t ever recommended anything I didn’t enjoy and so I picked it up, hoping that my friend was right and she was. I loved it.

Gabriel is all set to become the next archangel. He first must find his angelica, a moral bride to sing with him at the annual Gloria. He cannot perform it alone. However his bride is nothing like he expects.

The plot was really good. Enough of the familiar to allow the reader to connect with the story, but unique enough to be interesting. The author is really good at creating great mental pictures so it practically leaps from the page.  I would say the biggest fault this book has is the cover which looks extremely dated. I don’t think very many people would pick it up simply because of the drab artwork. This really needs an update. It would get a lot more readership if they simply redesigned it for a reprint. Don’t let the cover keep you from reading this great book! In fact, I bought it for my nook as soon as I finished reading it.

One final note on this book. Some Christians might feel an aversion to reading this one. It isn’t set on earth and is very clearly fantasy. I did not have a problem with it however some might.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2013

I decided that one of the ways I was going to add more than just reviews on here was to start doing top ten Tuesdays from Broke and Bookish. I really love the idea and I’ve come across it on so man other blogs. I’m going to attempt to at least do this for a few months…

Top Ten TuesdaysBookish Goals for 2013. I’m not sure I have ten but here goes…

1. Read less YA fiction – I feel like I’ve been reading too much YA lately. While I enjoy it and it’s an easy go to, I need to pick up more serious literature again. Although with my master’s degree program still going, we’ll see if that happens.

2. Read at least 100 books this year – Yes, last year I read over 150 but I was working on a year long contest and I’m finishing my master’s up this year, I just don’t realistically think I’m going to get as much reading done as last year.

3. Be more on time with ARCs – I get free books quite often and lately they have been quickly piling up. I really need to be on top of these more this year.

4. Spend more time writing – some day, a long way down the road I would love to be an author myself. In order to do that, I need to spend more time writing and less time reading.

5. Finish NaNoWriMo in 2013 – I entered for the first time this last year and sadly did not complete the journey. I really want to get through it this year!

6. Allow myself to do more rereading – I love to reread. Pretty much the only reason for this goal since I wasn’t doing any rereading due to the page count contest I was in.

7. Read one new classic or book of the 1001 list a month – I’ve been really wanting to get into that list but just haven’t done enough. I need to spend more time getting to know the essentials beyond my favorites.

8. Stretch my horizons and try a new genre – There are a few genres I completely avoid. I feel like I need to try something new. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? I might even – pick up a mystery willingly 😉 Or maybe not…

9. Work on getting my husband to hate reading less – yep. I married a non-reader. It drives me nuts sometimes. I’m still bound and determined to show him that he is missing out on something HUGE. Any suggestions out there?

10. Thin out my library – As painful as that sounds, I have no more room for books and it must be done. Sad but true. Maybe I just need to buy them all on my nook…

I can’t believe I found ten goals! I’m going to be a busy girl this year…

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Book Review: The Hollow Man

Book: The Hollow Man

Author: Dan Simmons

Recommend: It was a change of pace with a depressing ending… I wouldn’t go straight to recommend… but it wasn’t awful either.

I realized at my most recent trip to the library that I had picked this book up a half a dozen times and not taken it home so I decided that I needed to finally put it in my bag and read it already. So in the amazing  Disney Villains bag it went.

The centers around a man who can hear everyone’s thoughts and his journey after his wife dies. She was the only thing keeping everyone at bay and the moment she was gone, there was nothing to keep him from hearing everyone’s thoughts. When he decides to end it all, he will end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and it will start a desperate journey all over the country desperately trying to outrun the mob and himself.

I have to say that this book was written really well. Simmons has a way of allowing the reader to see and understand what he is talking about. The depth of his characters are wonderful. The action is exciting and watching this character grow and change through the book was very engaging and in some ways kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the fact that this had a huge element of real science fiction and even though it was there it still read a bit like fantasy and straight up serious fiction.

I will say that there were quite a few drawbacks in this one for me. Honestly, I hated the ending. I hate it when I grow to like a character so much only to have them decide that the world is better off without them. I’m sorry but suicide is not a good way to end a book. I hate when this gets romanticized. Suicide is the most selfish decision that someone can make and yet so many authors feel the need to make it look like this beautiful release from life. It’s not. I also found that sometimes the book would get far too technical. While that was part of the appeal, it took it a bit too far. I also thought a few of the action pieces were too abrupt. There was no build up, which was exciting and shocking but it really hard to keep up with.

I think that I might try something else by this author because I liked the way he wrote but the story line of this one got really old.

Final Rating:

Get it free

Get it free

 

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Book Review: Under the Never Sky (plus a mini rant about dystopian novels)

Book: Under the Never Sky

Author: Veronica Rossi

Recommend: Great dystopia! Getting a bit burned out on them though…

I love dystopian fiction. Love it. I’ve loved it since before we had a word for it. The Giver was one of favorite books as a kid. Need I say more? When I was kid though, stumbling across a book like this was a rare find. Now you can’t seem to pick up a YA book without it being about 1)vampires 2) werewolves or 3) futuristic dystopian societies. Occasionally they’ll throw something else in like zombies but mostly, these seem to be the big three. I’m getting sick of something I love. It’s sad. So very sad. Please write something else for teens. It’s time for some serious high fantasy or real science fiction. I love dystopias but for the love of all things book, please stop flooding the market with them!

When I picked this one up, the last thing I wanted to do was read another dystopia right after having finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (my review can be found here). I did it anyway because I’m trying to get the library books out of my house already. I have a stack that is definitely in danger of hitting the maximum limit of times they can be renewed (the lack of reading time due to my master’s and work is to blame). So I forged ahead, prepared to be annoyed but not let you know it if I could help it (unless the book was bad). I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t annoyed. I was completely engrossed and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Aria has lived in the pod Reverie all of her life. An existence only partially in the pod, most of her life spent in the Realms, a place that was better than real. One poor choice caused her to lose everything and be stuck in the Death Shop, their nickname for the outside world. A place where there was a thousand ways to die, each more horrific than the last.

I think the best thing about this book was that even the elements weren’t original, they came across as something new and fresh. Both Aria and Perry are complex expressive characters with unique voices that compliment each other well. I want to meet this author in person and shake her hand to thank her for NOT creating a love triangle. Finally!

My biggest issue with this book was the Realms. The idea wasn’t clear enough in the beginning to make enough sense. Once you do understand them, it still feels incomplete. The author really needed to spend some time on exactly what being in one was like. I get why she didn’t but I wish she had. I think the beginning of the book would have been a lot more engaging.

Really good read. Definitely worth picking up. In fact I just did for my nook 🙂

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: Son

Book: Son

Author: Lois Lowry

Recommend: If you’ve read the rest of the series. This one ties in more than the others.

The release of this book is actually what made me go through and read the whole series. Until I heard about this book, I had no idea that the author had continued the series. I picked this one up from the library along with the rest of the books in the series.

This story centers around Claire, Gabe’s Birthmother. Something goes wrong with Gabe’s birth and she is sent out to work after only being Vessel to one Product instead of the customary three that she was supposed to carry. She leaves her society when Jonas does and for a long time has no idea who she is. Once she remembers, she goes in search of her son. Is there any price too high to pay to get back to someone you love?

This book really does an excellent job of bringing the books together and tying a nice bow around it all. However, I can’t get past the fact that The Giver was in essence science fiction and every other book in this series has had a fantasy feel to it. They just don’t seem to belong together. Lowry’s lack of explanations for things which made the first book more powerful, actually hinders the rest of the quartet. Without explanation for what is happening the whole thing comes off magical instead of a product of time and genetics.

I’m glad I read the series and while The Giver will always be one of my favorites, the rest of the series just doesn’t measure up.

Final Rating:

Get it used...

Get it used…

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Book Review: Messenger

Book: Messenger (Giver #3)

Author: Lois Lowry

Recommend: Definitely worth reading if you are a fan of this series.

I was all excited about this book. For extremely lame reasons as well as some good ones. My lame reason was that it was short and would get me one book closer to my 150 books for the year goal and my good reasons had to do with the fact that we were finally going to hear what happened to the half-starved boy at the end of the first book.

While this was a good read, it definitely did not have the feel of the first two books. The author is blurring the lines between speculative fiction and fantasy too far for the world to be completely cohesive. I think that without this sense of the same world really being there, the whole thing loses some integrity for me. Not that the book is bad on its own but as a sequel to the Giver, it just doesn’t completely hold up. I was rather surprised to find this kind of inconsistency from such a celebrated and well-known author.

Not to say that this book was bad because it wasn’t. It was actually very good. I just feel like it needed some more though and a lot less of a mystical feel to it. This time her lack of explanation hindered the story, rather than helped.

Final rating:

Get it used...

Get it used…

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Recommend: It is a very powerful read but not for the faint of heart.

Imagine a society where women are not allowed to read, work or drive. Imagine a society where everyone is desperate for a child and women who could bear children were given to childless families in order for children to be conceived. Imagine being one of those women who were shunned by society and had little to no contact with the outside world. They were completely unloved and pulled away from everything they knew.

This makes me think of the poor women in extremist Muslim countries who are going through the same thing right now. They have lost all their liberty. Doctors who can no longer work, let alone be out in public without an escort. Women who have to hide themselves away from the world anytime they step into it.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it is quickly applied to any Christian. They seem to forget that the women’s movement came from Christianity. Christianity was the one originally responsible for it. While I think our society has taken it too far and corrupted it into women are better than men and can do anything a man can do only better, I don’t know a single Christian who doesn’t think that women should have equality and I know some pretty extreme Christians.

I think it was a great book, I just don’t like when a great book gets turned into a weapon. That being said, this one will be joining my shelves as soon as possible.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

 

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Book Review: Gathering Blue

https://i0.wp.com/img2.imagesbn.com/images/171900000/171909174.JPGBook: Gathering Blue

Author: Lois Lowry

Recommend: Definitely! A powerful novel..

I read the first book in this series when I was a kid but didn’t know that the author had published more books in the series. Another dystopian novel from the same world as The Giver but instead of a society that has advanced, this area has regressed into a more simplistic lifestyle. Kira is a young girl who loses her mother and her future is uncertain due to her twisted leg. However, she is rescued from death because of her gifts with thread and dyes. She is taken in to live in the Council Edifice to continue her mother’s work. However, she doesn’t know that she is not as free as she seems to be.

This was a very powerful book about making a choice to stay or go. When society has gone wrong do you try to change something from the inside or do you leave and find something better? I loved the simple, yet powerful writing. I also love that the author knows that sometimes less is more. YA books have become these long dragged out stories where everything is explained and nothing is left to the imagination. I also love that this book is NOT centered on a romance. It is a nice change. Who knew that YA could be written without romance and still be amazing? It has been a long time since I read something YA without that element.

Definitely worth picking up!

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: The Rise of Nine

https://i0.wp.com/img1.imagesbn.com/images/178890000/178895097.JPGBook: The Rise of Nine

Author: Pittacus Lore

Recommend: If you’ve read the rest of the series.

I have been looking forward to this book for a while after reading the second book in the series. I was hoping that the books would just keep getting better as they went along since the second book was so much better than the first. However, I felt like this book didn’t have the energy and interest that the second book contained. It really felt like the two authors who are Pittacus Lore took turns writing, each one taking one part of the story and intentionally doing the chapter switches at the most annoying points in the plot possible. Also after waiting so long between books, a refresher on who all the kids are would have been helpful instead of diving right in.

The story moved along but in some places I felt like saying get on with it already. The plot devices were a bit took obvious and predictable. While this was a good read, I definitely wouldn’t put it on a best of… list anytime soon.

Final Rating:

Get it free

Get it free

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Book Review: Delirium

Book: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver

Recommend: Definitely worth the read!

Imagine a society where love is considered a disease. Imagine waiting until you are eighteen to be cured terrified of catching the horrible love disease hoping that you wouldn’t be infected and could be happy. For Lena, after her mother’s death, she more than anyone wanted to simply get the cure and move on with her life. A simple stable existence where family and work consume her life and she is happy. Then she meets Alex and everything changes. Then when everything she thought she knew turns out to be a lie, Lena might not want the cure after all. Unfortunately she doesn’t have a much a choice.

This book was a great read! The pacing was perfect and the story unfolded well for YA. I would have liked to keep her mother’s fate a mystery for a little bit longer but I know why the author revealed it so quickly. Alex could have been a little stronger in my opinion but he was well done over all. I thought the way Lena was written was great her fear and they way she overpowered it was so normal and familiar and seemed so real. It’s the same mental conversation I’ve had with myself so many times when I’m about to do something I shouldn’t.

I definitely think I’ll be reading the next books in this series!

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

Click image to purchase

Book: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K. Rowling (yes, that one) 😉

Recommend: The writing was great, the plot however… not so much.

I’ve been dying to read this simply because I had to know what an adult by her would be like. If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Harry Potter. I put this book on request at the library though because I didn’t want to put money into something that was just awful. I was slightly concerned that this book would just not have the magic (pun only somewhat intended) of the YA series.

Within the first five pages you knew we weren’t in a magical England anymore. These characters were as mundane (dare I say muggle) as they come. The whole book centers around the death of the head of their town council which creates a shift in the balance of power in their small town. Everyone is dying to get their foot in the door but soon the long-buried secrets of those running for office are being exposed for the whole town to see and it puts the whole town in an uproar.

Let me start with the positives. I wasn’t sure she would be able to write believable, honest characters that were fleshed out enough for adult readers. I was so very wrong. The characters, major and minor flaws proudly on display are complex and have quite a bit of depth. Rowling is the master of character creation and that was the only thing that kept me going.

The plot however, was just disappointing. First of all, this is small town England politics. My immediate thought was who cares and continued along those lines for the entirety of the work. Second, there is nothing truly exciting in the plot. Most of it is just dull and sad. Honestly it was a bit too real for me. If I wanted to hear about people with horrible home lives I would just go to work. Seriously, as a teacher this is a whole lot of what I hear all the time. I found the whole thing petty and just not deserving material to write a book about.

Now, the truly sad. Honestly there is quite a bit of language and some adult material in this book. It is mild in comparison to some things I’ve read but honestly it is almost completely unnecessary. We know you aren’t writing for kids here. You don’t need swearing, sex and drug use to convince us.

All in all, the characters were well-formed but I wished they had been doing almost anything else. Really glad I didn’t purchase this one. I hope her next book is for kids or at least about something more interesting.

Final Rating:

Get it free

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Book Review: The Last Werewolf

The Last Werewolf

Book: The Last Werewolf

Author: Glen Duncan

Recommend: I want to say yes but have to say no.

I try to be careful when I choose to try to get an advanced copy of a book that it is not in a series. However when I requested Talulla Rising I didn’t realize that it was the second book in a series. This is the first. The problem with getting a book further alone in a series is that if you haven’t read the rest of the series, you have to go back and get caught up or the book you need to cover will not make enough sense to be worth the time. So with that in mind, I requested this one from the library.

The Last Werewolf is one of those books that isn’t quite your run of the mill book but is also not something I would classify as literature either. The strongest point to this book is the voicing of the main character, Jacob or Jake (and n,o the Twilight similarity did not escape me). As you read, you truly get the sense that the main character has lived for 200 hundred years. The author mixes the writing style of some of the great classics with the word choice and phrasing of today in a way that I have never seen accomplished quite so well. This writer knows how to strike that delicate balance of the current times having an influence without losing all trace of his past.

The story line is very engaging, at least once he meets Talulla. The first half of the book, Jake is a whiny, suicidal werewolf who doesn’t seem to care about anything. The second he meets Talulla, everything changes and the book instantly becomes a fast-paced and gripping read.

Now comes the big however. I cannot recommend this one in good conscience. The amount of skimming/skipping I had to do was insane. Sex seems to be almost a third of the book. If I didn’t need to finish this one, so I could review the ARC of the next, I would have abandoned it.

Overall this is a great book ruined by too much adult content.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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A Series of Unfortunate Events

Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Author: Lemony Snicket

Recommend: Definitely worth the read!

I was looking through my bookshelves today and realized that in all the time I’ve had my blog, I have yet to talk about this series of books!

I have read these books now a couple of times and each time I read them I am reminded how funny they are in a dark and slightly twisted way. Yes, the story is about three orphans trying to make their way in the world without their family with villains seemingly around every corner but somehow they manage to maintain a tongue-in-cheek amusement factor that get me laughing every time. Whether it is the quirky grammar obsessed Aunt Josephine, the horrible Count Olaf, or the fashion frenzied distant relatives, the adults in these books are completely over the top.

Jim Carrey as Count Olaf

This is a great series for kids. I love how the author likes to use very big words and give definitions that always start with, “Which in this case means…” and gives an off the wall definition that is somehow still accurate (or mostly so). As an adult reader, this can get a bit repetitive but for kids, it’s a great way to increase vocabulary. As a teacher, I think this set of books would be great for kids who are gifted. These characters would be something they could relate to.

I always try to find something less than positive to say about the books I review. For this set of books, I would say that the last book doesn’t really create a sense of an ending, despite its title. The reader is left hanging, wondering what is next for these kids. There is no resolution. No profound solution to their problems. It just leaves them to carry on, trying to make it in a world out to get them. I was hoping for much more from this author regarding the conclusion to his 13 book series.

Definitely worth the time and worth giving to the middle grade readers around you.

Final Rating:

Get it used…

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My list of YA books I wish I’d written

In my effort to include more than just reviews on my blog, I have a new category that I’m officially adding. The Book Worm’s Obsessive lists where I make random lists of all kinds of things book related. These lists will be varying lengths, although I will try to keep most of them short. For the second list under this topic and the first written for it, I wanted to talk about the YA books (or series) that I wish I had written. Have you ever read a book that you wish you had thought up? I find myself there quite often. Here are the ten books/series I wish I had penned myself.

  • The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer – Okay, Stephenie Meyer is not the best writer in the world. Despite that, she came up with a plot line that is so captivating that the reader forgets that fact and just gets absorbed by the story. I have to say that I am constantly wishing there was more available. I wish I owned it so that I could simply write more. I guess that is what fan fiction is for.
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Getting the other obvious choice out-of-the-way. Rowling definitely has something uniquely amazing here. Whether you are a huge fan or refuse to read on principle, who wouldn’t want to have written the book series that got a generation of kids to read?
  • The Divergent series by Veronica Roth– This is a new add to my list but finally FINALLY someone got the male heart-throb right! Four is the first YA guy since Edward Cullen to really captivate people’s attention and there isn’t even a movie yet! Insurgent is a few books down on my reading list but the temptation to skip a bunch and move right on to it is very tempting.
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – One of the coolest boy books to have come out in a very long time. It was YA before the category really existed. While this is a book about a boy,many of the fans I know are all girls. Card came up with something brilliant here and continues to expand anywhere he can, which I love! Who doesn’t want to know more about their favorite characters?
  • The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare – I laughed, I cried (a lot) and fell in love with these characters. A great plot line with a horribly painful twist. Clare got me completely hooked. The next book in the series just came out and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I wish that I had written Jace and Clary myself! I just don’t know that I would have been brave enough to torture them as much as Clare does!
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Who wouldn’t want to be the one who came up with Aslan? One of the best stories written no matter what age you are. It has stood the test of time and Hollywood has finally done the first couple of books justice. I wish I could come up with an allegory half that good.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I really tried avoiding putting this one on my list simply because I knew everyone would expect to see it but I just can’t leave this series off the list. I am a huge fan of Katniss. She is the ultimate female heroine in many ways. I would have rewritten part of the book though. I think that the author did a horrible job with her emotions. I wanted to see more of the emotional aspect than she wrote. I think it needed to be tweaked and wish I could be the one to do it.
  • The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini – I love this story. I absolutely love this story. Sometimes though the writing gets distracting. I also hated the ending. I am a big fan of happily ever after which is not what he gave us at the end of a four book trek. I really just want to rewrite this series. I don’t want to do a lot to it but some adjustments with his writing style are necessary in my opinion. Still I wish I had come up with Eragon myself.
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – I loved this book, until I got to the end. Then the glove came off and the blatant attack on Christianity started. While the undertones were there through the whole book, the end was just brutal. I love the basic storyline but I would rewrite it to leave out the controversial religious material.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – I think the most amazing thing about this book is that everyone can see a little bit of themselves in each of the characters. I don’t think I would change a word but I wish I had been the one to think it up!

Love the list? Hated it? Think I missed something or put something on the list that shouldn’t be there? Tell me what you would change!

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100 favorite books for my 100th post!

In celebration of the fact that this is my 100th post I thought I would do something a little different. 100 of my favorite books. Some of these I’ve mentioned before in reviews but many are being mentioned for the first time. These are in no particular order since I don’t really have one favorite book.

    1. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
      Classic Russian tale of a failing marriage and the consequences of doing whatever makes you happy. Love the story because the reader can feel her pain while seeing what the right choices can do through the complex storyline. The ending of this one makes me cry every time I read it. My copy is tatted, torn and written all over.
    2. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
      One of the best tales of revenge ever written. This story follows a young man who is falsely accused of a crime to protect a powerful man’s family. After enduring prison, he makes a daring escape and comes back not as the simple sailor he had been but as the powerful and mysterious Count who comes back to seek revenge on the people who sent him away. I suggest the unabridged version. It’s a long haul but so much richer in detail.
    3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
      Jane is one of my favorite characters ever written. She is so normal and humble and yet she wins the love of the man she wants. She is a teacher and a classic introvert. In high school Jane was one of my favorite characters to go back to. You can read a more in my notable character post on Jane Eyre.
    4. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
    5. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
    6. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
      I read The Hobbit of course but while it’s a fun read, it really doesn’t compare to the epic high fantasy level of the trilogy. The story of Frodo and Sam as they travel to Mordor and to destroy the one ring is broad-sweeping and completely engaging. Definitely worth the read!
    7. Twilight – Stephenie Meyer
    8. New Moon – Stephenie Meyer
    9. Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
    10. Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer
      On principle I haven’t reviewed these books simply because I know that I am not objective when it comes to this series. While I know that Stephenie’s writing isn’t amazing, I find the story completely captivating. I get lost the world of Edward and Bella and have spent quite a bit of free time writing speculative fiction based on the world she created. I am admittedly a Twilight fangirl and not ashamed of it.
    11. Wizard’s First Rule – Terry Goodkind
      While I love the whole series, the first book is what draws you in and captivates the reader. The story centers around Kahlan and Richard who are sent on an epic journey to stop the evil Lord Rahl from ending the world using an ancient and powerful magic. Richard has lived without magic his whole life until Kahlan comes through the impenetrable barrier that separated them from the world of magic. Richard is one of the best heroes I have ever read and the books are a satisfying long read. This one starts a series that is now on book number fourteen.
    12. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
      The first book I ever read about an amazing spider trying to spare the life of a wonderful pig. A children’s classic and something every child should read.
    13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
    14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
    15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkiban – J.K. Rowling
    16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
    17. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
    18. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
    19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
      No matter whether you love the series or hate it, there is no denying the fact that Rowling single-handedly reignited a love of reading in children around the world. A whole generation of kids was turned into bookworms because of this series. From the moment Harry find out he is special to the final battle, the whole journey is a wild ride that shouldn’t be missed.
    20. Eragon – Christopher Paoloni
    21. Brisingr – Christopher Paoloni
    22. Eldest – Christopher Paoloni
    23. Inheritance – Christopher Paoloni
      Starting with Eragon and going through Inheritance this series tells the story of a young boy who finds a dragon egg and becomes a magical dragonrider in a world where they are almost completely extinct. I loved this series, even though the ending was a bit disappointing. My review of the final book can be found here.
    24. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
      The story of a young man who is born in the hope that he will be the one to save the world from an alien invasion. One of the most original pieces of science fiction I have read with one of the coolest games ever written into a book.
    25. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
    26. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
    27. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
      Futuristic dystopian society where children are forced to fight to death in a modern-day arena while the country watches for amusement. Just came out in film recently and I really want to go see it again! So good that I had to talk about it twice! You can find my reviews here and here!
    28. The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgeson Burnett
      A little girl is orphaned when disease kills her parents in India and she is sent to live with a distant relative in England. A spoiled little girl has to learn how to live without servants and without getting whatever she wants. As Mary grows into a healthy normal little girl she helps her family overcome a tragedy that has plagued the house for years.
    29. A Little Princess – Francis Hodgeson Burnett
      This book is one of the sweetest stories I have ever read. This was a story that I would get lost in over and over again when things were going bad for me as a child because it reminded me that eventually things would be better again. Sara is a girl who has everything but somehow managed to remain unspoiled. Everything is perfect in her life until her father dies and she is left penniless, a charity child who must now serve the people who were once jealous of her. 
    30. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
      The story of a man who goes to jail for fifteen years for stealing a loaf of bread and his fight to be able to live a normal life after being released. I love Jean Valjean’s story but the other characters are so wonderful and deep that I could never pick a favorite. This is a very long read but I would suggest reading the full book. There is so much that is missed in the abridged version. It is worth the long haul.
    31. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
      This series was one that was read to me over and over again as a kid. Then I read them myself so many times that I’ve worn out two sets of the books and my husband and I have our own copies because it is the one set of books we just can’t share. If you’ve never read them, you need to.
    32. The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy
      The Scarlet Pimpernel, a rogue fighting against the crown to free the people from a corrupt government. A man with a secret identity. A man who is desperately sought by society – some to help and others to catch. This book is just a ton of fun to read. It’s a simple story with a somewhat predictable plot but such a great read that I reach for it when I want something light and fun.
    33. The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
      Normally Twain is not one of my favorite authors. Sad but true. This book however is so much fun to read. It is the original case of look-a-likes swapping lives. I read a simplified version of it as a little kid and had to go back a reread the full book again when I was older more than once. Definitely worth the read!
    34. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
      I can’t say enough about Anne Shirley and the impact that she had on me as a kid. This is another set of books that I’ve worn out a couple sets of simply because I’ve read them over and over again. I’ve talked about the author on my blog before and my next notable character post will be on Anne.
    35. Divergent – Veronica Roth
      One of the many dystopian novels to come out after the popularity of The Hunger Games but this one stood out from the crowd for its unique story line and the way the society was divided by what people found to be important. I thought the main character is great but Four really steals the show. I hope the author writes a book about Four and his life growing up because I can’t seem to get enough of him.
    36. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
      I read this one for the first time in college and it was a life changing book for me. Lewis is a master at getting the reader to see Christianity from a fresh perspective. This book in particular really shed light on Spiritual Warfare for me and how important it is. Definitely a must read for any believer.
    37. The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
      This book is his spin on heaven and hell. While it is not accurate, it really does make the reader think about being a Christian as more than a life insurance policy. One I have reread many times.
    38. The Hannibal Lecter series – Thomas Harris
      These are the consummate serial killer novels. The way Harris gets into his main character’s mind and the descriptions are complete engrossing. If you’ve only seen the movies, you have no idea how much you are missing.
    39. The Mortal Instruments series – Cassandra Clare
      These are young adult fiction the way it should be written. Clare captures teens in a way that is unique to the teen experience and yet is still engaging for any age. Book five just came out and it is on my must read list. You can find my review of the first three books here.
    40. Matched – Ally Condie
    41. Crossed – Ally Condie
      The first book of this series is a controlled dystopian society where the government decides who you will marry. A society where there are only 100 books, 100 poems, 100 songs and 100 movies. The government controls what you eat and when you will die. A government that experiments with people’s psyches just for amusement. A great read and while the second book isn’t quite as good, the first is well worth the read. You can find my original review here.
    42. The Bible
      No list of my favorite books would be complete without it. My preferred version is the New American Standard Bible. I also rather enjoy the simple communication style of The Message.
    43. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
      I would call this the original steampunk novel with an angelic twist. Gaiman’s world between worlds is brilliantly written and the outsider discovering it is a classic way to immerse the reader but in this story t is more than a simple device, it is the center of the story. The main character’s struggle to choose between the two worlds is very descriptive and an excellent read. Definitely one to check out.
    44. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
      What a fascinating look into a hidden and largely forbidden world. The struggles of this young girl who goes from servant to the highest paid Geisha ever is a gripping fast-paced and heart wrenching read. Her love for the Chairman is amazing and so innocent in the midst of a world driven by money, power and manipulation.
    45. Jane Bites Back – Michael Thomas Ford
    46. Jane Goes Batty – Michael Thomas Ford
      I must admit, I am more of a fan of the Bronte sisters than Jane Austen but in this book I route for Jane completely. While the books that follow are alright as well, the first one had me laughing almost constantly. How often to read a book where Jane Austen is living today but as a member of the undead? Hilarious book and great read.
    47. The Complete Wizard of Oz series – L. Frank Baum
      The story of a little girl from the middle of nowhere suddenly getting thrust into this great adventure with wizards, witches, lost princesses and an unusual band of friends is one of the books series that every child should be familiar with beyond the classic movie (although that’s good too).
    48. Wurthering Heights – Emily Bronte
      The first time I read this book I couldn’t stand it. The second time I read it, I couldn’t put it down. 
    49. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
      Yes it’s long. Yes it’s definitely worth the time and effort. Good luck keeping track of all the characters though.
    50. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Neffenegger
      How complicated would your life be if your husband showed up at random points during your life, being a different age every time you met him? The ending on this one didn’t quite make me cry but I sure did get close.
    51. The Giver – Lois Lowry
      The first young adult dystopian novel about a boy who carries everyone’s memories so they don’t have to recall them. 
    52. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle
      A series of books that seems like straight fantasy at first until you realize that there is a lot more going on than the surface level story. Charles Wallace and Meg were some of my favorite characters growing up. 
    53. The Once and Future King – T.H. White
      One of, if not the best of the Arthur novels. White captures the story in a way that no one else can quite match.
    54. The Host – Stephenie Meyer
      A book claiming to be science fiction for people who didn’t like science fiction is exactly what this book is. This book doesn’t focus on the science but focuses on the people instead which is a refreshing change from quite a bit of modern science fiction.
    55. Songmaster – Orson Scott Card
      I simply love the way that Card talks about music in this book. he is so descriptive. My original review can be found here.
    56. The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
      I love this book about a child and their love for a toy.
    57. Redwall – Brian Jaques
      Loved these books in junior high. Not normally a fan of books about animals but this series is so well written that it is worth the time.
    58. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
      Great book with a horribly sad ending. Makes me tear up every time I read it. All about the senseless loss of a child. Definitely a must read.
    59. Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babitt
      A great story that doesn’t seem like fantasy at first. What would you do if you discovered the fountain of youth and could make the choice to stay young forever?
    60. Matilda – Roald Dahl
      A book about a girl who loves to read and has telekinesis. What’s not to love? Except for the mind tricks I was Matilda with a better family.
    61. Quiet – Susan Cain
      As an introvert, this book was an amazing read. This book celebrates being an introvert and gives people permission to be who they really are. It is a recent addition to the list but one I know I’ll be reading again. My review for this one is here.
    62. The Swan Thieves – Elizabeth Kostova
      A great fantasy novel that doesn’t read like fantasy. This author is an amazing wordsmith and seems to make any plot plausible. Her other book , The Historian is on my “need to read” list.
    63. Firestarter – Stephen King
      The story of a little girl who has a terrible gift. A great read.
    64. Eats. Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
      Might seem like a bit of an odd selection to someone who hasn’t read this one but not strange to anyone who has. Hilarious book about punctuation. No really.
    65. The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath
      Her poems always make me think.
    66. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
      Not a book for everyone for sure but one that I’ve read time and time again.
    67. A Walk to Remember – Nicholas Sparks
      Read this one long before the movie came out. While the movie is a good flick the book is so much better. Such a sweet and sad story.
    68. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
      This book makes me cry. What an amazing love story.
    69. The Last Song – Nicholas Sparks
      I think this one really got to me simply because of the music aspect.
    70. Violin – Anne Rice
      Normally I find Rice’s writing to be extremely boring to read but this book was the exception to the rule. What a ghost story!
    71. Faith of the Fallen – Terry Goodkind
      Part of his Sword of Truth series. The world perspective in this book and the way that Richard overcomes the obstacles he is faced with makes for one of the best fantasy reads I have ever experienced.
    72. A Girl of the Limberlost – Gene Stratton- Porter
      A book about a girl who never seems to fit in because her mother is haunted by the death of her father. A story about how the pain of loss can pull a family apart.
    73. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
      I love how completely impossible and fun this book is.
    74. Kilemny of the Orchard – L.M. Montgomery
      Not quite sure what it is about this small book that I love but it’s one I’ve worn out three copies of. The story of a girl who can’t talk and the man who takes the time to get to know her.
    75. The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
      What would you do if you found out that you only had a year to live? If you had always played it safe and enver done anything? What would you risk to make your last year memorable?
    76. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
      Great book. Not much more you can say but that.
    77. Roots – Alex Haley
      The story of a family that starts with a man kidnapped from his home and forced into slavery. An amazing story. One I’ve read quite a few times.
    78. The Neverending Story – Michael Ende
      The story of a boy named Sebastian who literally enters the world of the book he is reading. I would recommend that you find a version that is printed with better colors than red and green. The green can be quite straining on the eyes after a while.
    79. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
      Joyce is the master of imagery and symbolism. This book is one that makes me think every single time I read it.
    80. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
      Not one I’ve read more than once but one that I never need to read again. I couldn’t eat beef for weeks after reading this one.
    81. Ender’s Shadow – Orson Scott Card
      The story of the boy who was the backup to Andrew Wiggin. Bean’s story is a fantastic read and a great series in it’s own right.
    82. Yertle the Turtle – Dr. Suess
      A book about how everything is not all about you.
    83. Hind’s Feet for High Places – Hannah Hunnard
      An allegory of the Christian journey. In my opinion, much better than Pilgrim’s Progress.
    84. The Lottery – Shirley Jackson
      Read it because I had to. Reread it because I loved it.
    85. The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White
      A swan that can sing who discovers the trumpet to replace his lost voice. One of my favorite musical tales.
    86. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass
      Lent to me by my mom’s boss, an eye opening read about the world of slavery.
    87. A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket
      Great series of depressing books about a family of orphans who can’t seem to catch a break. A fun satisfying read.
    88. The Book of Lost Things – John Connelly
      A strange but great book. One of the darkest fairy tale like books I have ever read. Worth the time and effort.
    89. The House at Pooh Corner – A. A. Milne
      Who doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh?
    90. Mark of the Lion Trilogy – Francine Rivers
      A series of books about the life of Christians in the early church. This book series is one of the best works of contemporary Christian fiction I’ve read.
    91. Hadassah – Tommy Tenney
      The story of how Esther became Queen and saved Israel from death. The book that inspired the movie One Night with the King.
    92. Sundays at Tiffany’s – James Patterson
      Who knew that the master of mystery novels could write one of best fantasy novels about imaginary friends? Such a great read!
    93. Imogene’s Antlers – David Small
      One of my favorite children’s books even long after I had outgrown the children’s book part of my life. A story of a girl who wakes up with antlers growing out of her head one morning and how the world reacts.
    94. Rilla of Ingleside – L.M. Montgomery
      The story of Anne’s youngest daughter and her coming of age story in the midst of a world war. I love how real and flawed Rilla is.
    95. The Child Thief – Brom
      A twisted dark version of Peter Pan. You can read my original review here.
    96. Enchantment – Orson Scott Card
      I know there is a ton of Card on this list but this is a fabulous fairy tale fantasy novel that doesn’t get enough attention. 
    97. This Present Darkness – Frank Peretti
    98. Piercing the Darkness – Frank Peretti
      One of the best novels about spiritual warfare I have ever read. Peretti brings the world of demons and angels to life in a way that no other Christian author does with the possible exception of C.S. Lewis.
    99. The Law of Nines – Terry Goodkind
      Goodkind brings his fantasy world into the modern world. Lots of fun and something I wish he would continue. My review here.
    100. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
      The story of four sisters and their coming of age. A classic that every girl should read.

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Book Review: Talisman of El

Book. Talisman of El

Author: Alecia Stone

Recommend: It was a fun but a bit confusing…

I’ve seen this book mentioned a few times and so when I had a chance to get an advanced copy, I jumped at the opportunity. I left this to last of my current pile of these as a reward at the end of the jog, something I was pretty sure I would enjoy.

This book centers around a teenage orphan named Charlie who is starting off at yet another new school with another new guardian provided by the courts. Charlie tends to find himself in trouble wherever he goes and after his first day, this new school seems like no exception. Things get even worse when his new guardian isn’t all he is cracked up to be. Then he finds a letter that sends him down an interesting path on a search for Arcadia, the civilization at the center of the earth. What he finds, nothing could have ever prepared him for and the decisions he now faces could mean the end of humanity.

The book is a little slow to get started but once it does, you are off racing through earth and beyond at a fun, brisk pace. Everything gets turned on its head one too many times for my taste though so that by the time you reach the last 50 pages or so, the story line has gotten so complicated and confusing that it’s hard to tell which end is up leaving the reader feeling a bit dissatisfied and lost.

While I think this book has great potential, I hope that the ending gets some clarification before reaching the masses or this really good book might go by completely unnoticed.

Final Rating:

Get it free

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Notable Character: Jane Eyre

Plain Jane

I am starting a new series of posts in addition to my book reviews and bookworm rants called notable characters. Instead of focusing on the book itself, I decided to take a slightly different approach and discuss some of the characters that stand out the most to me in some of my favorite books.

The first character I knew I had to tackle was Jane Eyre. She is not the most popular of the romantic heroines but the one I find the most compelling. An average girl who finds the right man for her who loves him even though he has a secret that could ruin them both. She makes the right choice even when it is painful and is rewarded for her brave decisions in the end.

I love Jane because she is so ordinary and reserved. She doesn’t seek the spotlight but stands up for what is right when she feels it is necessary. Jane is not your typical, look at me, type of heroine. She stays in the shadows, content to observe rather than be in the thick of things. I find her skepticism refreshing and real. She cannot believe that someone as wealthy as Mr. Rochester could ever love a simple governess, which at the time would be very unusual.

Jane and Adele

Her compassion for little Adele, even after she finds out the truth of her parentage, is amazing considering the attitude that would have been prevalent at the time. As a teacher myself, I connect well with her attitude towards her pupil are great even though she comes from a rough background. It reminds me how much those kids who come from a rough background need me even more than those who are lucky enough to have stable home lives.

I recently introduced my mom to this book. She was immediately sucked in and it kept her attention for quite a while but she recently confessed that she got bogged down in the book. I smiled and told her exactly where she got bogged down and I was right. If you find yourself reading through this one and get tied up in one spot, I would encourage you to push through. The reward is worth the 50 pages or so where the story seems to derail a bit.

Jane and Edward

I love the way that Jane loves people even though she is reserved and a classic introvert. She is one of my favorite characters and if you haven’t read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, you are missing out on one of the best heroines of the time.

I’m also toying with the idea of doing a list of notable authors but not sure. Would that be interesting to anyone?

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Book Review: Quest for Celestia

yes, there is a dragon in this book 😉

Book: Quest for Celestia

Author: Steven James

Recommend: It is an interesting read…

I have been sick for the past few days. My husband who is a computer technician in a couple of schools lovingly and thoughtfully brought home the flu to share. I had started reading this one just as I got sick and then was just too miserable to continue. I basically spent the past few days vegged out on the couch completely out of it. I finally got back to this book this evening and raced through it. If you’ve ever read The Pilgrim’s Progress, or Hind’s Feet for High Places, the plot of this book will not catch you by surprise since it is referred to as a modern retelling of Bunyan’s classic allegory about Christian.

At first I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book. After all, it started out by saying that our hero was on his way to become a wizard, something I found rather strange for story it was supposed to tell. I continued to read and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t some odd attempt to bring the occult into a Christian allegory but just a lie about what Celestia really was. I found the fear and hatred of those who decided to go to Celestia even more severe than they were in the original, which I found realistic considering the current state of opinion when it comes to Christianity from the public right now. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take five minutes and go read comments on articles on yahoo. You’ll quickly figure out that Christian bashing is all the rage right now. I also found the confusion over what the right choice is, is far more clear in this version of the tale. In the original, the right choice seems obvious to the reader but not the character. In this version it is less obvious to both which I think helped show how easy it can be to make the wrong choices.

My only complaint with this book was the ending. I felt like it was far too abrupt than it should have been. It was like the author just got tired of taking them through trials and decided to end it instead of writing anymore. The ending felt very slapped on, instead of that we had finally reached that point where there was no other choice but to end the story.

Definitely a book worth picking up but not sure it’s going to be as timeless as the original it’s based from.

Final Rating:

Get it used…

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