Thursday, December 31, 2009

Uglies, Pretties, Specials

My last three books of the year! I've read these before, but I got the whole series for Christmas, and I am, by nature, a rereader (probably because I read too fast sometimes). This is a great series and one of the best cautionary tales against obsession with beauty and appearance in our society. It's set in a future world and is disturbing, enthralling, engrossing, and insanely good. It's a perfect book for both teens and adults. Big fan.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

How I loved this book! It's been very popular lately and pretty much the book club book, so I decided, hesitantly, to try it. I don't always trust things that are popular, but this is a book that is of good report and praiseworthy that should be sought after. It is not a silly book, which you might think from its title. It's about the nazi occupation of a british island named Guernsey during World War Two. Correction, it's about the people who make the most of British occupation of their island during WWII (partly by forming a literary society) and the author who writes their story after the fact. The book is all told in letters, which may seem strange, but it works. And oh how it works well! It is funny and romantic and heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved every minute and when I finished it I immediately added it to my long "books to acquire" list.

Forest Born

I think I was too excited about this book, because it ended up being something of a disappointment. It's still better than many other of the books I've read this year, because it is Shannon Hale. Her writing is still beautiful, but I didn't think this book lives up to the other Books of Bayern. The plot seemed sort of dull. It lacked some of the sparkle of the other books, and I'll be honest, I know exactly what it is. There's no romance in this story. All of Shannon's other books have a touch of romance, and I think it adds so much. Don't get me wrong, I don't always need romance in a book, but this book felt like it needed it. It started out hinting that there would be, but then it never happened. And maybe that was the problem. Since it hinted at romance in the beginning but was never fulfilled, I waited the whole book for it to come back, but was left feeling empty and disappointed. Maybe I'd like it better if I read it a second time. Like I said earlier, it's still beautifully written and it dealt more with people-speaking (if you've read the other books you know what I mean), which I've always found disturbingly fascinating. In short, good, but not as good as I'd hoped.

Keturah and Lord Death

From this cover, you might assume that this is a kissy book. I almost didn't read it because of the cover, because I don't like hard-core romance, but it's billed as a clean, YA novel and recommended by Shannon Hale, so I thought I'd go for it. This is a beautifully written (and yes, very clean - only one small kissing section in it) and fascinating book. It's magical and fantastical and everyday real at the same time. I loved Keturah and her story is incredible. The story-telling is amazing! I honestly didn't know how it would end. Well, I kind of suspected, but I wasn't sure until the end. I had to read it twice, because the first time I wasn't totally satisfied with the ending. By the second reading I was completely sold. I recommend it without reservation.

Pride and Prejudice

After I had finally finished with all the books for my Children's Lit class I had an overwhelming desire to read something thick and meaty and grown-up. Not that I don't love Children's books, because I do. But I've read so many of them recently I needed a change. What better than Pride and Prejudice? It is my favorite book and this was my yearly pilgrimage (which has been going on since high school). There's just not much better in the world than sitting down to read this book. It's like spending time with a very, very good friend I haven't talked to in ages. Reading this book makes me happy. Hooray!

Dreamhunter and Dreamquake

This is a newer series that I've seen recommended, so I thought I'd tried it out. I'm not completely in love with it for several reasons. First off, it's a completely new concept. That in itself isn't a flaw, but so much of the first book was spent trying to explain this new world and set up this new fantasy system that I thought the plot suffered heavily. In a nutshell... well, you know what, I'm not even going to try to explain it because it's too complicated. These books have a lot to do with dreams. Boy, talk about stating the obvious. I thought the second book was better because I was more familiar with the setting and was more easily able to dive into the plot. There was much less explaining going on and the flow was better. There were some interesting elements and some that I didn't care for. I know I'm being vague, but I hate spoilers! It's a clean read, though, so if you want to try it out you won't have to worry about that. I very nearly decided I hated these books because they were about to end badly until they made a split second good ending. I hate that, though, because you don't have time for the happy ending to sink in and you're left feeling unsettled. Not fabulous, but not the worst books of the year either.

A Wrinkle in Time

This is the last book I read for my Children's Lit class *sniff*. Honestly, don't know how I would have reached my book goal without it! I love Children's books! This one took me back to my childhood. Love it, and everyone should read it once in their lives. It's sci-fi, but not weird. Thought-provoking, but not too heavy. Serious and hilarious. It's fabulous.

Jekyll and Hyde

I've been wanting to read this for a while, and its short length finally pushed me to pick it up to boost my numbers. LOVE IT. My husband Jon read it a while back and thought it was very interesting as well. Surprisingly, all the modern dramatic interpretations have taken some major liberties in making the story more exciting and shocking. The original book here is short and told from the point of view of Dr. Jekyll's lawyer (explains why Jon liked it so much), who uncovers the entire duplicitous plot with the help of a few wills. In fact, the entire split personality factor of this book leaves a lot to open interpretation (which is probably why adaptations of this are so varied). This book made me think of agency and the natural man. As human beings with bodies we are constantly at war between our spiritual sides and what our natural man desires. Jekyll and Hyde puts that battle into a fictional story. Dr. Jekyll desires to live his life in a way that's not acceptable or right, so he creates a drug that unleashes his evil side, Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde can now act as he pleases and when he goes away, normal and presentable Dr. Jekyll returns, until he wants to turn into Hyde again. Of course, eventually he loses control and Hyde takes over. Similarly, we can lose our agency, if we give in to our natural man's desire to sin. Very interesting read.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Picked this one off the shelf because of its length. Now that I've got that confession out of the way, I can honestly say that I didn't hate it like I thought it would. It had a very deep spiritual message for a book about a seagull. The day I read it I wasn't necessarily in the mood for contemplative pondering, but as I've thought about it here and there since, I've thought better of it.

Our Town

I picked this on good recommendation (and plus I needed more short books to reach my goal) and pretty much loved it. It's actually a play, and it took a few pages for my brain to handle reading things like stage notes along with dialogue, but once I'd gotten a handle on things it flew. This is a very poignant and sometimes funny look at life in a small town and ends with a very good message about living life to the fullest, even down to the smallest everyday moments (something I don't always do well). Very uplifting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire does not disappoint. The Hunger Games was my favorite book last year, and Catching Fire is my favorite this year. It's that simple. I think I'm going to combust if I don't buy the third and final book of this series on the day it comes out next year. If you've been looking for something new to read, this is it. I promise you'll thank me. This series can be shocking, but it's only because you'll see so much of our present day in this disturbing future setting. Catching Fire is the story of what happens after the games end in book one, and if you've read it, you know that the Capitol is very angry with Katniss. They are ready to take revenge. The romance is just anguishingly good too. Gale...or Peeta? I say Peeta all the way. (If you have an opinion, feel free to weigh in.) Catching Fire has everything I love in a book. It's just so...*stutter* *mumble* *stutter* beyond my powers of description good.

The Lost Symbol

Generally, I've liked Dan Brown novels. I thought DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons were both original and incredibly interesting. Having read a few more by him, including this latest, I'm starting to feel like he's become very formulaic. The symbolism stuff is way cool, but the rest is rubbish. So boring. Basically, it goes like this: someone has discovered a dead body, mutilated in some disgusting way that only Robert Langdon will recognize as a symbol leading him on some hunt to discover the truth before the world is destroyed. Oh, and what? There's a beautiful women who's incredibly smart and related to the original murder victim who is ridiculously intelligent with a secret lab and access to information Langdon needs and no one else can give him? Yeah, that's all part of the Dan Brown formula. Add in famous locations, secret societies we all know about, paintings that obviously mean more than meet the eye, and you have a complete Dan Brown novel. Like I said, parts of his books are so cool and interesting. There was a lot of Masonic stuff in this book and I thought it was fascinating to read about. Dan Brown just needs to come up with a new plot.

Harriet the Spy

This book is solely responsible for my going through a phase where I only wanted to eat tomato sandwiches for lunch as a child. It also got me started on keeping writing notebooks. I love it, and it's no wonder that when I had to think of a modern realism book to share with my children's lit class this was the first and only option I considered. Harriet is wonderful, and if you've ever read this book, you know why.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile

Definitely my kind of book. I love all things Egyptian and this book has it all. Mara is a slave girl who is sold into a new life as spy for Queen Hatshepsut who is trying to prevent her son Thutmose III from taking his rightful place as pharaoh. Everything gets turned upside down when she's recruited as a spy for the opposite side as well! She works as a double-agent for a while, but begins to believe in Thutmose III's cause, and develop feelings for the leader of the rebellion as well. Mara's duplicity is discovered and mayhem ensues which determines the fate of both Egypt and Mara. This book is beautifully written. Love, love, loved it.

The Fairy Rebel

I'm not kidding, this was one of my absolute favorites when I was a little girl. I'm thrilled to rediscover it. It wasn't nearly as great a book from an adult perspective, but I have so many memories attached to it. It's like everytime I turned a page I caught a glimpse of my younger self reading it. I kept remembering things I'd been doing when I'd read it as a child. It was so fun to read it again. I think Sarah will love this book as much as I did, since she's totally into fairies. Just to jog your memory, (in case you loved this book as a child and forgotten about it like I did) this book is about a woman named Jan who is unable to have children and who miraculously meets a fairy named Tiki one day. Tiki takes pity on Jan and uses her magic to help her have a baby. Jan and her husband name the baby Bindi and all is well, until the fairy queen decides to take revenge on everyone - especially Tiki - for such an illegal bit of magic.

The Indian in the Cupboard

Absolutely loved this book as a child. Who didn't? It is so fun to imagine being able to bring toys to life. The thing I've loved most about my children's lit class is that it has brought so many great book memories from my past. I'm so excited to share this book with my kids. I can't wait until they're old enough for this one.

Bridge to Terabithia

I read this book as a child and refused to read it ever again. I hated it. It is such a sad book! I ended up breaking that vow for my Children's Lit class. It wasn't quite as bad to read it as an adult, but I still don't like sad books. I do think that this would be good book for older children (probably no younger than high school, actually) who are dealing with the death of a loved one.

Princess Ben

Princess Ben came as a bit of a disappointment, although she came highly recommended. I think this book would be great for 7-9th graders, though. Ben (short for Benevolence) got on my nerves at times, but aside from that I loved the plot. It was just a bit juvenile for my tastes. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, because I read a lot of children's/YA lit and love it, but for some reason this one just seemed way too young for me.

Johnny Tremain

Loved this book! It was a little slow getting into it, but then it takes off with a bang of revolutionary gun powder (ok, maybe that was cheesy...). I'm such a big fan of historical fiction. I've always loved it, and I think it's the best way to teach children history. I know it works for me, even as an adult. I loved everything about this book, especially the character of Johnny himself. Unlike some main characters who seem to be flawless, Johnny is very real. When you don't want to hug him and tell him everything will be fine you want to slap him across the face. He reminds me of my own children... Just kidding. Sort of. Anyway, Johnny's a classic, and if you've never read it, you should.

Sea Glass

This is the first book I've read of Maria V. Snyder's since her first, Poison Study, that I've really liked. Magic Study, Fire Study, and Storm Glass all seemed to be cheap-ish imitations of the first book, but it was worth it to keep going. This book was a very good read. Can't say much without spoilers, but if you're patient with this series' previous books it'll pay off.

The Hiding Place

What a beautiful book this is. If I ever feel like my life is rough I plan on rereading this. I have never read a story with so much faith and hope in it. This is the story of Corrie Ten Boom, expert Dutch (non-Jewish) watchmaker, who's work for the underground during WWII puts her in a concentration camp. You'd think this would be another horrible account of concentration camps, and in a way it is, but Corrie's faith and recognition of God's tender mercies is incredible. Great book, but it had me totally bawling. I'm not always in the mood for books that make me cry like that, but I'm so glad I read it. Consider yourself warned. :D

Lincoln: A Photobiography

Generally, I'm not much of a biography reader, or a non-fiction reader of any sort for that matter, but I loved this book! It wasn't at all dry or boring. I can see exactly why this book won the Newbery. I learned a few things I'd never known before about Lincoln too. Highly recommend it.

Troubling a Star

I loved this book when I was a child and recently found it at a used bookstore and had to buy it. I ended up using it in my Children's Lit class, too. I have to admit, it wasn't nearly as impressive to me as an adult as it was when I was young. I did still love the whole Antarctica aspect of this story and imagining what it would be like to take a trip there. At the moment, though, I'm feeling very cold in Idaho Falls, so I think I need to go find a warmer book to write about.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Most of the books I've read for Children's Lit have been familiar to me, but I'd never heard of this book before. It's just too bad, really. I would have loved it as a child. I loved it as an adult. I got some seriously good belly laughs out of it. Basically, it's the story of the Herdmans (described in the first page of the book as being "absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world") and how they take over the local church's Christmas pageant and teach everyone a little bit about the true meaning of Christmas in the process. It's a short book (practically a short story) and completely worth it if you've never read it before.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ella Enchanted

I love this book. Love, love, love, love it. It is about 500 quintillion times better than the movie of the same name. If you've seen the movie but haven't read the book, don't hesitate. The movie is deceiving in its mediocrity, because the book is first rate. In fact, it may be my favorite YA novel of all time. It is so clever!!! Ella is cursed with obedience. If someone were to say, "Ella, tie your shoes," or "Ella, cut off your own head," she'd have to do it. It is hilarious, emotional, magical, and ultra fabulously romantic.

The Hunger Games

This is the BEST book that came out in 2008. Holy cow good!!! The sequel, Catching Fire was just released and I am going to burst if our library doesn't hurry up and finish cataloging their copies. I am second in line and they just acquired six copies. I fully intend to buy both books for myself for Christmas - if I can wait that long. Now all I need is money...

A Girl Named Zippy

Great if you like memoirs. Superb, even. I don't like memoirs. But it was pretty darn funny at times.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

This is a must read. I say that a lot, but this just have to read it. It is so awesome!!!


Another read for my Children's Lit class. Beauty if McKinely's most popular book, and incidentally, my personal favorite McKinley work. Everything about it is gorgeous and perfect. Love the heroine, love the story (retelling of Beauty and the Beast), love the setting, love the pure magic of it all.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

I'm am so glad that I'm taking Children's Lit this semester! I haven't read this book in ages and it was a big favorite when I was a child. After reading it, I desperately wanted to run away and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art too. Good thing it was too far away for me to consider. I don't think my adventures would have gone nearly as well as Claudia and Jamie's. Love this book!


This new YA book has a lot of buzz, and it's all well deserved! I especially loved the main character. Our heroine, Katsa (aside from being fabulous, funny, and relatable) is a deadly assassin. This book has intensity and depth and the best compliment I can give it is that I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel.

A Company of Swans

Coming of age plus ballet plus gorgeous south american setting all set this book up as a very original and very classic YA novel. I can't believe it's taken me this long to read it! Loved it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife

I'll admit it. When I started reading this book, I was determined to dislike it. I really wanted to hate it. I read many reviews (even the ones full of spoilers) trying to decide if I wanted to read it in the first place. See, the problem is that I have loved every book Shannon Hale has ever published, but I heartily disagree with the subject matter in this book. It's about a mormon housewife (stay-at-home mom, 3 going on 4 kids) who meets her favorite British movie heartthrob while she's in LA selling a screenplay and becomes best friends with him. I mean best friends. Talk on the phone constantly, plan weekend trips to hang out (spouses included), etc...

I'm not going to give a lecture on this blog, but I just have to say this: I think it's wrong to have a best friend of the opposite gender when you are married. I won't get started, or this blog will get too long. Just wanted to get that out here up front.

That said, let's get back to how I wanted to hate this book. Problem is, I couldn't. Shannon Hale is literary magic, and I couldn't help laughing out loud. Several times. And crying. And what surprised me is that by the end, looking back on the journey Becky had gone through, I felt like she never was unfaithful to her husband. She always put him and her children first. Especially when it mattered. And it even seemed that, for Becky's personal story, Felix (that's the Actor) being involved in her life was the right thing at the right time. I feel like I'm being pretty cryptic here, but there are some major spoilers I'm trying to avoid. Hopefully I'm not botching it here.

Anyway, The Actor and the Housewife is not for every Shannon fan. I know many who have read it and found themselves asking, "Why Shannon, why???" I don't even know if I can tell you definitively whether or not I liked it. It was thought provoking, but I don't feel like I can gush about it and recommend it to all of my friends. I do, however, respect Shannon Hale as an author for being brave enough to write this book when she must have known how many of her fans would dislike it.


I loved Wings. Loved it so much that when I finished it I couldn't bear to close it, so I went back and read all my favorite parts again. Wings is about a young girl who discovers she's a faerie (and isn't faerie a much lovelier spelling than fairy?), much to her chagrin. She's been raised by a human family is just a bit shocked when she discovers her vast responsibility to protect one of the gates into the secret faerie realm, Avalon. This book is filled with magic, trolls, Sprite, biology, memory potions, and a hearty dose of romance. And forget everything you've ever heard about faeries. Aprilynne Pike has reinvented them in this freshly original and deeply detailed fantasy.

The Black Circle

I mentioned not too long ago that I was now hooked on this series. Let's just say that Book 5 has done nothing to cure my new addiction. Can this series keep getting better with every book? I certainly hope so. This time, Amy and Dan are off to Russia. And aside from saying that they face the most fierce danger they've seen yet and uncover what is likely the most pivotal secret in the series, I can say very little without spoilerizing (Is that a word? I guess it is now :D) you for the first 4 books in the series. Bring on Book 6! In Too Deep... coming out November 3rd.

Spindle's End

Robin McKinley is the queen of fairy-tale retellings (I think I've already said that on this blog...). Spindle's End (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty) is a must read for the fairy-tale enthusiast. Just like Beauty, Spindle's End delivers with its beautifully described world and compelling heroine. No, Rosie is no Disney princess, but maybe that's why I loved her so much. :D Aside from that, Robin McKinley is probably the only author I know who can add so many details to her stories without bogging down the plot. This book is pure magic.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball

What can I say? Princess of the Midnight Ball is my kind of book. I absolutely loved it! It was so beautifully written. This book is a retelling of the story of the twelve dancing princesses, and I just ate it up. It is my favorite Jessica Day George book yet (serious praise, considering my love of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow). Perfect, perfect, perfect. Go read it.

Beyond the Grave

I know I've been lukewarm on 39 Clues books in the past, but they haven't been much to brag about. Until now. I've no doubt that the credit goes to Rick Riordan (who wrote the overall story arc of this series) for the increasingly interesting and suspensful plot twists introduced in this book. I've always loved the mix of history, fiction, mystery, and travel in this series, and now I think I'm hooked. There are 6 more books to go (one being released every three months) and I'm ready, waiting, and excited to read them all.

Storm Glass

I just have to say, that while I enjoyed Magic Study and Fire Study, as well as Storm Glass here, that none of Maria V. Snyder's books have been as compelling or as interesting as her first book, Poison Study. I keep reading her books, trying to find that same spark that was in Poison Study and coming up empty. Very frustrating.

Fire Study saw the end of Yelena's story, so the heroine of Storm Glass is Opal (those who've read the Study books know who Opal is). I thought the change of heroine was refreshing, but like I said earlier, nothing quite like the first book is found here. What it lacks is almost made up by the various descriptions of and forays into the world of glassmaking, which I find fascinating. This book is just interesting enough (and ends on just enough of a cliffhanger) that I'm looking forward to picking up its sequel (from the library, of course), Sea Glass, when it comes out in September.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Dorrit

I love Charles Dickens! It's taken me all of August so far to read this book (being 855 pages) but it's been very much worth it. Of course, I watched the Masterpiece Theater version of this book earlier in the year, and I've been wanting to read it ever since. I got the book and the movie for my birthday and have been happily devouring both bit by bit ever since. This is not one of Dickens' better known stories, but I think it might be my favorite now (or maybe it's tied with David Copperfield, I can't decide). Dickens delivers on the depth of his characters. I felt like I absolutely knew Amy Dorrit and that we were bosom friends (as Anne would say). I laughed aloud several times at the hilarity of the various comic characters, and cried heartily during the more emotionally charged moments. I've rarely felt so much a part of the story. Maybe it's the way Dickens weaves his characters together, everyone affecting each other no matter their class or background, that makes me feel like I could walk right into the pages and be important. And maybe that's part of the magic of Dickens, that he reminds us how important each individual on this planet is. Whatever it is, I'll be back for more. I intend to read every book he's ever written. Someday. Hopefully soon.

Better than Twilight?

Yeah...I thought that would get your attention.

But I think I have to disagree with the reviewers (of which there were several, surprisingly) who claimed that The Hourglass Door was a better read than Twilight. I enjoyed this book just fine, but for many reasons I just think it doesn't compare. I also think it's a bit of a copycat book. Here we have a high school student who meets a devastatingly handsome and mysterious guy who is clearly different from the rest of his classmates. Then of course, her love for said mysterious guy draws her into a dangerous world and various adventures ensue. Sound familiar? Other than that, though, it wasn't bad. I love the first chapter, but felt it was a little slow until the last quarter of the book or so. I love time travel stories, so that element definitely boosted the story for me. I think one of the reasons people have loved this book is because of the male protagonist, Dante. I myself am not necessarily one to be swept off my feet by a bit of whispered Italian. That said, this book was well written with a few fascinating original plot elements; but, alas, it was no match for Stephenie Meyer's engrossing and vibrant world.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Isn't that a beautiful cover? What's even better is that the story inside is even more beautiful and intricate. I love Robin McKinley. I read her Beauty years and years ago and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. Robin McKinely's writing is absolutely gorgeous and she's pretty much the queen of fantasy and fairy-tale retellings. In other words: my hero.

Chalice is a winner. The world it takes place in is imaginative, original, and purely magical. Plus, I love honey and Jon and I have talked about wanting to keep bees someday. If you want to find out what on earth I'm talking about you're just going to have to read it.

Dragon Spear

There are a lot of dragon books in this world. Have I said that before? Sometimes I feel like dragons are way overdone, but then I read a book like Dragon Spear and change my mind. Everyone else should stop writing about dragons, but Jessica Day George can keep going as long as she likes. I adore Creel (the heroine of this tale) and all her dragon friends. Just a personal preference, but I thought the romance in this book (and the other two in the series) was a bit underdeveloped. Obviously, I wouldn't want it to come anywhere close to the book reviewed below, but a little more love couldn't've hurt. It's perfect for younger readers, though.

This book's predecessors are Dragon Slippers and Dragon Flight; both books are fantastic reads. If you haven't discovered Jessica Day George yet, you really need to. I just received another book by her as a gift, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, (thanks mom!) and although I've read it before I'm so excited to read it again, and sooo happy to own it! I'm also dying to get my hands on her latest release: Princess of the Midnight Ball. Hopefully it'll be coming my way soon from the Idaho Falls Public Library...

The Time Traveler's Wife

So many people love this book. Really, truly worship it. Tell all their friends to read it because it's the best book ever written. Sometimes I think it's sad that it's not always safe to "seek after" things that are "of good report". If you are looking for some lit that uplifts and is, most importantly, CLEAN, do not read The Time Traveler's Wife!!!

What a frustrating book! I loved the concept. I'm a big fan of time-travel books and movies. It's one of the reasons that Harry Potter 3 is still my favorite of the series (well - maybe it's tied with Deathly Hallows). Anyway, I loved the mixed up time-lines, the future Henry's helping the past Henry's, the almost believable scientific explanation for Henry's condition, and so many other things about this book are admittably brilliant, but DON'T READ IT! It's not worth it.

Not only is the language horrible (I didn't count, but it wouldn't surprise me if the "F" word is used more than 100 times), but there is so much sexually explicit material in this book that if you were to cut it all out you'd be left with 8 pages. Maybe 9. Out of a 560 page book! It was incredibly distasteful.

Don't waste your time!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

This book had a very interesting concept (click here if you'd like to read a spoiler-free overview) and was quite beautifully written, but I'll confess that I found it boring. Not that I have anything against sci-fi. I definitely have a couple sci-fi bones in my body (one of my all-time favorite books is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card), so I don't think it was the weird "out there" factor of this book I didn't like. It just seemed to be lacking drive and heart. Nothing was propelling me forward and I never felt emotionally invested in any of the characters. There were also a couple significant plot and logic holes. On top of that, it seemed to me that the whole book was one big lecture on the evils of modern medical technology - which I happen to be a big fan of.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gathering Blue and Messenger

After finishing The Giver, I was eager to read these two sequels. I knew going into it that they would be more the "same-world-different-people" kind of sequels, but I was excited anyway; The Giver is so amazing, the sequels had to be good, right? And they were good. But neither of them had anything on The Giver, I thought. They're both very interesting books, very compelling, very disturbing, very symbolic, and very religious - surprisingly. They're not overtly religious, but if you've read Messenger, you can't deny that there are some serious Christian parallels present at the end. I enjoyed reading them. I wonder if I would have liked them better, had The Giver not been so amazing...


I am a lucky girl. Not only do I have beautiful kids, a great life, and an awesome husband who works crazy hard, but that awesome husband of mine is also my best friend, and it so happens that we hardly have any interests that we don't share. We both love learning, reading, writing, music, being outdoors, politics, history, etc... We both love mythology. So...I got him this book as a graduation present this year, and waited what I thought was a respectful amount of time before sneaking it off the shelf and reading it before him. :D He said it was ok. He's not allowed to read anything for fun until after the bar anyway.

I LOVED this book!!! I have always loved greek mythology, and this book is great because it can be used as a reference book, but is also so accessibly and entertainingly written that it can be a recreational read. Along with all the greek myths, roman and norse mythology are included. Someday I'd like to expand my library to include mythology from many other cultures as well (particularly egyptian). One of the amazing things about mythology is discovering how much of it has seeped into our daily lives and pop culture: names, planets, days of the week, ideas, thoughts, and words, words, WORDS! I am obsessed with etymology. Our language is so rich and fascinating as is, but when I discover the stories and circumstances that created the words I use it adds even more zing and zest to everything!

This is a fabulous book! I recommend it to any fan of mythology.

Agatha Christie

I read these novels, once again, because of Masterpiece on PBS. During the summer they have a Masterpiece Mystery series. Usually, I'm not into mystery movies and books; I have an incredibly overactive imagination, and it's not really a good thing for me to sit around thinking about murder and scary people constantly. I avoid Horror altogether. Despite that, I've always been a big Agatha Christie fan. When I was in junior high-ish, I went through a big Agatha Christie phase and read tons of her books. Part of the amazing thing about Agatha Christie is that she's written over 80 mystery novels, yet they all manage to be unique and unpredictable. In fact, there are several things she is a master of that any aspiring writer would do well to learn from her novels. For example:
  • Suspense. Obvious, perhaps, but Agatha Christie is a genius when it comes to suspense. And, really, isn't that what every good plot on the planet needs? Otherwise, what's the point of reading to the end of a book?
  • Clues and Foreshadowing. This goes right along with suspense. Agatha Christie knows exactly how to give her readers just enough to keep them hooked and guessing, without actually giving her ending away. I rarely guess her murderers (or murderesses) right.
  • Character Development. When you're going to write 80 novels, you're going to run into hundreds of individual characters, but somehow Ms. Christie's characters always manage to be unique people. Agatha Christie never has the problem I've found in other authors (*cough* Cornelia Funke) where characters from their novels appear to be clones of each other - with different names.

So, I recommend Agatha Christie as a fun diversion from your usual read. Her books are clean (minus the murder :D), interesting, and fun to read. Of the three novels I just read, A Pocket Full of Rye was probably my favorite, although my all-time favorite Agatha Christie novel is And Then There Were None.