Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Another one ticked off my book list. I have four more left to finish before the end of September, Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels, Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger, and What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. Unfortunately, it looks like most of them (not all of them) are realistic fiction, which isn't my favorite genre, but I guess that is the point of being on a committee-- to read things I normally wouldn't choose for myself. Once this list is done though, I can't wait to read what I want. I don't know what my first book will be--probably Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Catching Fire comes out tommorrow--it may be read before others on the list though, because I can't wait to read it. It is the long awaited sequel to Hunger Games which I loved last year. I just have to finish this list soon!

Stealing Heaven Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Danielle has been stealing since she was a child, and she is good at it. She and her mother have wandered from town to town, never making any permanent attachments, stealing from the wealthiest homes and moving on. It worked well for them, until Dani discovers that she wants more.

Dani, despite being a thief, is a very likable character. Her mother is a master manipulator, who you are sometimes left wondering, who she really cares for and does she really care for Dani. The characters are well developed and likable and the dialogue and banter between characters is often humorous—sometimes even laugh out loud funny.

Recommended.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some language, and some sex, although there are no graphic descriptions.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Review: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Well, I finally got around to finishing this one. I have had so much to do lately I just kept putting it on the backburner. Yesterday I sat down and decided I was going to find out how this series ends. It was worth it!

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the final book in this wonderful series Percy Jackson must finally lead the other demi-gods against Kronos to save Olympus from the evil influence of the Titans.

I loved this series from start to finish. Riordan is a wonderful author and knows how to keep a series interesting. Each book was filled with wonderful friendships, surprising twists and turns, and a healthy dose of humor.

Highly recommended! (Especially for fans of Harry Potter who don’t know what to read next.)

Cautions for sensitive readers: Only cautions for this book would be the violence, but since it is intended for a middle school audience it doesn’t have any other cautions.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Updates

Well, the cats have been gone for about a week and a half, and Zachy seems to be doing better with his allergies. He did wake me up coughing last night, but his sinus problems seem to be going away. Keep your fingers crossed.

I will be glad when I am done reading all the books for the committee I am on. I don't know what I will do when I can read something that I choose for myself--what a novelty that would be. On the otherhand, I have read some really good books this year, some that have surprised me.

AirmanAirman by Colfer was my favorite so far and I admit this is not one I would have read on my own.

Wildwood DancingWildwood Dancing by Marillier was better than I thought it would be, and I really enjoyed it despite the slow start.

Jellicoe RoadJellicoe Road by Marchetta surprised me, and I really did enjoy it, but it was another with a slow start.

There were many others that I enjoyed, and only a couple that were real disappointments (Thaw by Roe).
Thaw

And of course there are many books that just fell in between.

Despite being stuck to a reading list the committee is good because at least I do read a variety of books. Still, I can't wait to be reading on my own again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cats! and other stuff

I have two adorable cats, but unfortunately my son is now allergic to them and we have to find them a new home. I wish I could say this was an easy task, but unfortunately no one seems to want any more pets lately. I know I will miss them, but if it will get the baby off of all his allergy medicine, what choice do I have? I can't imagine living without them though. I grew up with cats so saying good bye is going to be rough. It also seems like the ASPCA is out to get me. Ever since I made the decision to get rid of them, I have seen all these commercials about pets needing love and homes and it makes me feel so guilty--I don't know how they get those kitties to look so sad but they all do.

On another note, I am currently reading Airman Eoin Colfer and I love it! Swashbuckling adventure, flying machines, prisons, injustice, and romance. It is kind of the Count of Monte Cristo with a nobler hero and flying machines. It is wonderful. I just hope it ends as well!

Book Review: Thaw by Monica M. Roe

Thaw Thaw by Monica Roe


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
First let me say that my dislike of this book is no reflection on the author’s abilities or skills. In fact, I found her writing style appealing. The story has a fascinating premise, a young man is sent to a rehab hospital in Florida to regain the use of his body after suffering from Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome. Her depictions of the syndrome were interesting as were many of her characters, with the exception of one character—our main character Dane.

Dane is an extremely caustic narrator. He is self centered and selfish, and cares for no one but himself. Although he begins to “thaw” throughout the course of the book, I found it difficult reading about this highly intelligent teen with the emotional capacity of a computer. For instance, after one of his ski teammates injures himself in a meet, Dane states that he wishes we humans were like the rest of the animal kingdom and followed Darwin’s survival of the fittest. He says, “Why can’t we just cull out the dead weight so the rest of us can achieve the way we’re meant to?” He later goes on to show that his only interest is in himself and winning when he says “In spite of Forrester’s crap, I think we’ll still win this one.” Dane shows no concern for his injured teammate, and it is ironic that he ends up being the one that becomes dead weight that others have to help to survive.

As Dane struggles to regain the use of his body, he does begin to soften and become a little more considerate, but still for the most part he is obnoxious.

The book is well written, but I found a difficult read because I didn’t like Dane. It will find it s audience, but it definitely isn’t me.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some sex (although nothing explicit) and foul language are present in this book.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer ***SPOILER WARNING*** This review does contain spoilers.

Life As We Knew It (Moon, #1) Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a difficult book for me to review. In many ways I enjoyed the book immensely, and up until I finished the book I probably would have given it four stars. The ending, however, really pulled that rating down, and my rating would have been lower, if not for the fact that the rest of the book was so strong.

Life as We Knew It is the story of Miranda and her family’s fight to survive after an asteroid knocks the moon into an orbit closer to the earth. The change in the moon’s orbit results in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and eventually the complete blockage of the sun. Survivors are left without easy access to food, gas, heating oil, and electricity. It because a fight for survival.

A few things bothered me about this book. First, Miranda’s age was hard to pinpoint. I know that they say she is 16 and a sophomore in high school, but her voice and actions seemed more like that of a middle schooler than a teen in high school. Some people may disagree with me on this, but I really did feel like I was reading about a younger teen than Miranda was supposed to be.

The second thing that bothered me about this novel is as I said the ending. Pfeffer had a convincing story going here until everything got neatly resolved at the end. This ending did not feel natural and left a lot of loose ends. For example, where did the food and the gas to power the snowmobile come from? How are they going to get food in the future—growing it isn’t an option since the sun has been blocked out, and given those circumstances even the animals will start dying off. Processing food will be difficult too due to the lack of power. I just couldn’t buy this ending. I love a happy ending as much as anyone. In fact when I choose to read a book, I often try to choose ones that will end well, but it didn’t feel right with the story Pfeffer was telling here. It felt tacked on.

The third thing that bothered me was the description of religion in the book. I believe she could have told the story well, without painting religion in such a negative light. Or at the very least she could have counterbalanced this perspective on religion with a healthier one. I think anyone who reads this will understand that she was describing an extremist view, but it would have been nice to have that counterbalanced with a healthier perspective.

Finally, you can see political leanings in this book, and I understand that often books subtly include these, but in a few instances I almost felt like I was thrown out of the story by them.

As I said, a few things bothered me, but there are some very good points to the book. This story had a way of enveloping the reader into its’ world. I often felt as if I and my family were living through this disaster and struggling to survive. This realism is actually why I finally decided to award this book three stars. Maybe it is the current situation with the economy, gas prices, and even the layoffs at work that made this book get to me so, but I can’t count the number of times while I was reading that I was also thinking about stocking up on my pantry and getting more bottled water. It was kind of creepy trying to leave behind the setting of the book. A story that can pull you in and make you believe is definitely worth three stars.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book does contain some mild language and violence. It is a struggle for the characters to survive and their world has become a hostile place. There is no sex, but there are some references to it.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Book Review: How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler

How Sweet It Is How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Deena Livingston almost died in a car accident with her fiancé in Atlanta, Georgia. Now several months later she is still reeling from the accident, the news that her fiancé was cheating on her, and attempting to hide the scars from the accident. She decides to leave Atlanta for her Grandfather’s cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. Her Grandfather, has left her his cabin in his will with one condition; she must teach cooking to the middle school students at The Center. There she finds kids who are as scarred as she is and the patience to work with them.

I love the cooking aspects of this book—I wish there were more fiction books like this about chefs. I loved many of the characters in this book. They have all lost something yet fight to go on. Jonas, the plumber, has to be my favorite character. He accepts people as they are with faults and all. The book is published by Bethany House and is definitely Christian fiction. It is not preachy, but still manages to convey the message of faith and hope.

Well written and entertaining.

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