Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a tale of WWII, but from the point of view of a little German girl. Plenty of stories have been told by Jews that saw plenty of horrors, and I am not knocking those, but people seem to forget that there were plenty of Germans caught among the events as well. And this is a wonderful story capturing the confusion, fear, and hope of one little girl.

This book had been recommended to me from many sources and always I thought it was just another war story that would make me weep and so I therefore did not want to pick it up. But when a friend sent it to me and I was forced to see it on my shelf every day and hear her ask "So have you read it yet?" I had to confront it. And then I wondered why it had taken me so darn long to pick this book up!

Everything about this book is simply magnificent. Firstly, it is all told from the point of view of Death, a character everyone seems to forget, but Zusak embraces him and allows him to tell the events as he saw them. Then the main character is a little girl who confronts the most profound moments in her little life by stealing! The other characters that surround her are just as flawed, making them each more lovable in their own rights. The imagery is amazing, the voice is beautiful, and the story is poignant.

Am I praising it too much? No, I really don't think enough praise has been given to this book. But maybe something will come from it being made into a movie. I don't know. I believe that this should be on everyone's list of books to read, and most likely reread. I am very happy that I now have a copy on my shelf to turn back to from time to time and encourage others to pick up. It is truly amazing.

Friday, August 2, 2013

False Hope

False Hope is the story of a man named Paul Jakarta and his mission to hunt down and destroy evil. This search takes him to H. W. Mudget High School where a demon has taken over the body of the principal there, making him do evil. It is the first book in a coming series that will follow Jakarta's movements across the country trying to do God's will in taking down the Devil to save mankind.

This book is not my usual order, as I sometimes have trouble with religious novels, but seeing as how my mother wrote it, I felt, of course, the need to see how she has done in writing. And while the result is typical of a first time writer, with room to improve, I have to say that I was not disappointed in the telling of the story.

Let me briefly point out some of my problems, for the benefit of other readers. The book does heavily lean on the use of religion, it is after all a tale of a man sent by God to cleanse the Devil out of America. So you must know that going in or be prepared to have God thrown in your face. Readers who are not of the Christian faith may find it a little difficult to believe parts of this book, but if one has faith, it all seems plausible enough. The only other problem I had with this was the first chapter. Upon first reading it the chapter seems to stand out, a random bit of back story that I didn't immediately associate with the rest of the tale. But the ability to simply ask the author, made life easier. She was able to point out that the child in the first chapter was in fact young Paul, it was a flashback to his past to show the faith he has always had.

Now, let me say that this is a unique tale. Yes demons have been done before, but I do not think that this type of novel has been explored enough, that is one in which faith is so predominate to the story line. After all Paul is fighting in a battle against evil and he has God on his side. I enjoyed reading about someone so focused on his life's work, so sure of what he was doing, with no wavering of his faith.
I also enjoyed the writing, especially the imagery. The author saw the scenes in her mind and made sure that the reader was able to join in on the viewing, giving plenty of detail to make each image real.

I look forward to watching her abilities develop and grow as she continues to tell the story of Paul Jakarta. I already have the next book on my shelf and ready to be read! I encourage everyone to give this author a shot. It is always incredible to find new talent as they strive to tell stories no one else has heard! And look out for her next book Things of the Flesh coming soon!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey To Find The Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers. . .

Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey To Find The Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers From Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton by Richard Horan made its way into my sights thanks to Barnes and Noble placing many of their books on sale. This was one and the title caught my eye. As a lover of nature and literature alike, I was of course curious to find out what this man's ideas were, and for less than $2.99 I was willing to find out.

Horan got the crazy notion to travel around the US and collect seeds from trees that may have inspired great minds. Going to the homes of authors he found trees that had been there long enough to witness these materminds at work. So he gathered seeds about these trees and took them home to germinate them in the hopes of giving them as gifts. I have to admit, I would love to have a tree in my front yard that was the progeny of one of the trees lining the path in the woods that was less traveled (Frost). It would be a great source of inspiration when writing my own works, I believe. So  I found this tale a unique one.

This was also the first book I began reading on my vacation to California, one that was not on any reading list I had planned at the beginning of the year, and was therefore a nice break from what I was already working on. It did a great job of taking me away from the monotony of series books and classics, as well as being an interesting non-fiction. I think it was perfect for the drive nearly across country and I am so glad that I took the time tor ead it.

All that being said let me point out one thing I should mention. While the book has a very obvious story to tell, I did find it a little directionless. Yes the author had no set order or pattern by which to collect the seeds, that is not the point. It was that there was no real resolution. In the end he was finally able to find a little help with his project but even that made no real ending to this journey of seeds. So if you are one who has to have a set ending or finale to a tle, then perhaps you shouldn't read this one. But if you can overlook that one liitle thing, I think anyone can enjoy this unique tale of writing and nature.

If you were to take a trip to gather seeds from trees that have witnessed greatness, who would be on your list? Terry Brooks, Abraham Lincoln, Maggie Smith, and Alan Alda would probably be at the top of my list. Let me know who would be on yours, and if you have read the book tell me what you thought of it!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Blood Roses


I always find myself turning to Francesca Lia Block when I need something short, sweet, dark, captivating, untold, to distract me from my usual reading list. I discovered her work while I was still in middle school and never has she failed to deliver any of these traits in her books. She is a very unique voice that reaches out tot he sadder side of women and lets them know it is alright to feel this way, and there is still hope for love out there.

Blood Roses is a collection of 9 short stories (which Block does best) about women that resemble more of a leaf in a windstorm than one of Jane Austen's heroines. Another unique aspect of the tales, they are all interconnected so that with each story you still get something of previous characters you may have felt drawn to, while still discovering someone new to like. Block is gifted at this lacing together of stories and characters, the world is a small place after all.


Roses and Bones is another collection of tales by Block, this one proclaiming to be myths, tales, and secrets. Another example of the kind of work Block is known for: retellings of stories that we are used to, only she has a habit of looking to the darker elements and drawing them out for everyone else to see. I was once more drawn to the work in search of those darker elements and was not dissappointed by the beautiful stories.

I encourage anyone looking for a little more from their reading to take a look at Block. Within her work you will find characters people generally veer away from with ending that may be a bit less than happy and bright. But they are wonderful stories nonetheless. Have you read Block before? What did you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Last Dickens


The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is the story of Dickens' last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and the events that enfolded when it was discovered that Dickens had died before completing the novel. Publisher James Osgood sails to London to discover if there had been anything to hint at how Dickens had intended to end the story in an effort to save his publishing company at a time when there was no copyright law in America. What James, and his assistant Rebecca, find is far from what he expected as he is pulled into a tangled web of secrets and opium through which Dickens himself had traveled in an effort to get a great story.

This was my pick for the book club as I had read another of Pearl's books, The Dante Club, before and had loved it! When I got my hands on this one I knew I had to read it and the book club was a great way to get others to notice the works of Pearl as well. I was not disappointed! This wonderful tale, written in much the same style as The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, is full of confusing characters, plot twists, intrigue, drugs, backstabbing, and enough historical facts to make you want to learn more about Dickens himself!

After this I look forward to not only picking up Pearl's other novel, The Poe Shadow, but also finally managing to read Dickens' work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Have you read any of the novels mentioned? What did you think of them? Let me know and hopefully I will revisit one of these two authors again soon.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The final book in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay is an incredible read by an incredible author! Let the time it took me to rate each novel not testify to how long it took me to read each book. I read each within a 24 hour period, it simply took me longer to get my hands on each one as someone new had borrowed my copy each time I thought I would get to read it. Ladies and gents, if you are really into a series and have all the books, let your spouse know so they don't loan them out!

Ok, Mockingjay picks up where Catching Fire left off with Katniss and crew. I dont want to spoil anything for anyone so I will try to keep this review as vague as possible. Of course we know the point of the series was the upheavel of a sociatal system that was just not ok. The Hunger Games are a concept thought up by the ruling class to keep everyone else in line, and well, those people are tired of being kept in line. In walks Katniss Everdean who happens to be just the right amount of defiant at just the right time of unrest. Bam, you have the making of a civil war. Mockingjay is the war part of it all. The dirsticts are fighting for their freedom, using Katniss as the front-woman, against the Capitol. And the things that take place in that war are astonishing!

I am truely amazed at Suzanne Collin's writing, always have been to be honost, but now that I am an adult reading one of her series I am astonished to find myself still enthralled with her work! This series has captured so many in all age groups (my 6 yr old son has seen the first movie and was impressed) and there is no real surprise in it. The book is well written, everything happening perfectly as it should really (sorry to those who may have been upset with the ending), the characters are believeable and loveable (or hateable), the plot is griping. Everything about these books is just perfect! It's becoming increasingly more rare that a book get this kind of praise, not only from me but other critics, but this one earned the praise!

If you still have not read the books (where have you been?! Under a rock?!) pick them up now, you will not be disappointed. If you have read them, what did you think? Let me know, I love finding another person to talk to about this incrediblle series!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hammer And The Cross

This trilogy by Harry Harrison is an alternate history tale about a man that started off life no more than a slave but grew to become King of one of the greatest nations in history. The books are as follows:

The Hammer and The Cross begins the story of Shef, a young man who knows that his father is not his father, that the Church is the most powerful entity there is, and that his life is terrible. But he dreams of better things, being able to escape his situation and take his "sister" (they do not share a parent but were raised togehter) with him to marry. What he got instead was far greater. Instead he finds himself among the Viking enemy, first as a common soldier, but slowly he begins to rise through the ranks. Is it the help of one of the Viking gods, who may be his father? Or is the belief of this enough to make men simply follow him?

In One King's Way Shef's story continues once he has taken over a vast majority of the Viking army. He begins leading them across the seas and land to break down the hold that the sons of Ragnar have over the Viking people. And along the way he gathers Englishmen who are unhappy with the Church and the control it has over everyone. With this mixed band of men he slowly finds his way through obstacles, trying to find the truth about himself and the future of the people that hve clung to him.

The conclussion to the story of Shef, King and Emperor, recounts the last of the now One King Shef as he tries to continue his mission of bringing knowledge to everyone. When a messanger from another kingdom comes asking for help, it is the tale of a man that can fly that draws Shef to unknown lands. He travels a great distance in the pursuit of knowledge and finds far more than he bargained for. The man that had once helped Shef, the now King of the Holy Roman Empire, is now on a mission to find the one-eyed son of a Viking God and destroy him for the sake of all Christianity. But Shef is a hard man to capture and his legend is even harder to kill. And now most of the known world knows of him.

While these books were a fascinating read, I wish that I knew more about the actual history that inspired them so that I might have something to compare it with. That being said, I greatly enjoyed this series. The third book was maybe a little anti-climatic, other reviews have gone so far as to cal it unnecessary, but I believe that an ending to Shef's story was needed and thus provided in the last instalment, even though it may not have been as exciting as the first two. I have to admit that the idea of conflict among the gods, Viking and Christian, is what drew me to this series, and it was not what was delivered. Instead it is a fight between their people. That being said I think the side of the Christians was greatly ignored, but then we have plenty of stories about their guiding factors and the actions they took to promote their God. So I think this book was almost needed to balance out the scales. And I think it did a great job.

I liked the writing style and the characters were very real. Shef was not a hero that everyone would love all the time, he was a real man with a great many flaws that did the best job he could with the materials he was given. After all in only a few short years he went from a near slave to King of a very large nation. He did what he could.

I recomend these books to anyone looking in the fantasy section. While it does not claim that title, it has a great many things in common with other books of the genre. Also perhaps history buffs would benefit from reading this as it gives a perspective outside of the norm. If you do choose to read one or all of the books, let me know, I want to know what you think of them. I am the only one I know to have picked up these books, and even then it took me years to read them. But now I am very glad I did. I welcome your comments on them!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hard Times


Hard Times is known for being the shortest of Dickens's novels, perhaps the darkest as well. I have to admit that while I have only recenty discovered his works and come to enjoy them, this was not really one of them. When giving a review over on Goodreads I left only 3 stars and no real review. This novel was extremely depressing, as Dickens lost faith in humanity he made sure that his readers saw the darkest side of what he saw. While his writing is still incredible (the reason there were 3 instead of 2 stars) the story that he writes about was less interesting.

I encourage anyone who thinks they can make it through such a dark novel, to give this one a chance. But I must stipulate that I believe this is not for everyone. That being said, I will continue to read Dickens. Next one I plan on reading is The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


I will admit that looking at the title that was posted on the Book Club's page, I was a little skeptical about what kind of book had been picked. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is quiet a mouthfull! Well, that is how the main character, Juliet Ashton, felt when she first heard about the little group of people that had decided to name their book club this long, outragious name! And just like Juliet, I was also very pleasantly surprised by what I discovered.

During World War II, times were hard, spirits were low, and companionship was very hard to find. On the secluded island of Guernsey, all these things were what defined life. Until someone got their hands on illegal food and a group of islanders come together to celebrate, very quietly, a random bit of good fortune. But when they are leaving and are discovered by the officials they come up with a cover for their nighttime activity: their book club meeting had run late. Before anyone knew what was happening there was ACTUALLY a book club forming before their eyes!

This is the story that Juliet discovers through letters written by a man who had managed to get his hands on a book that had once belonged to her. He had written her to find out if she had any other suggestions and to make his own suggestion, that she write an article on his little book club for the post war newspapers. And that is exactly what she does. Suddenly she finds herself friends with these strangers through letters, and finally a face to face meeting.

This book is about the little oddities of life, the random happinstance that leads our lives in directions we never could have imagined, and they way those paths can lead us to wonderful discoveries! I really loved this book. It was so completely random (other than the fact that it was about another book club) and such a good read. The reader gets to discover everything about the characters that choose to confide in Juliet as well as about her as she opens up to these strangers. I truely enjoyed so many of the characters as Juliet began to enjoy them, and hate the ones she hated. The writing was great as the entire novel was written in letters, yet everything is done perfectly since Juliet shares certain aspects of the story with certain people, making it realistic.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It allows the reader to see a side of the war that is not often visited, the harsh realities of bystanders, that is slightly tempered by the passage of time.  And it shows how small the world is and how when people come together anything can be overcome. It was overall just a great read, one that I am so excited to now have in my possession. Go read it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Night Angel


The books contained within the trilogy, which I have in omnibus form, are The Way of Shadows, Shadow's Edge, and Beyond The Shadows, all by Brent Weeks.

I picked up this trilogy upon my husband's request since he had read it more than a year before me and had just loved it. That being said, I was still hesitant to read it since our tastes have differed on past novels. But this book was on my shelf and I was determined to make my way through all the books I owned. And boy am I glad to have given this one a chance, because it turned out my husband was right!

The series is set in a world where everyone is divided by class lines (sounds familiar) but there is very little to no chance of someone jumping into a better life than the one they are born into. However, one boy, Azoth, is deteremined not to be a begger and pick-pocket for the rest of his life answering to bullies bigger than him. Instead he amazingly convinces a master assassin to take him on as an apprentice. The Way of Shadows is the story of Azoth from the time he is a young boy trying to find Durzo Blint's approval until he gains that approval and takes on his first missions. Shadow's Edge continues the story of Azoth, who is now called Kyler. The kingdom he lives in has undergone a dramatic take over and life as Kyler knows it has changed, and maybe not for the better. Beyond The Shadows concludes the trilogy, picking up with Kyler as he tries to finish what he and his friends have started with the taking back of the kingdom.

Throughout the whole trilogy there are elements that are mixed into the tale to be revealed only when the time is right, meaning that there were many times I was just as shocked at the truth as Azoth/Kyler. I was even astonished to realize that at the end of it all I was surprised at how events end, something that I don't encounter much any more. Weeks is an amazing author that managed to keep both my husband and I, and others I have spoken to, on the edge of our seats and entertained throughout the whole story. He is an author I look forward to revisiting when I get the chance.

I highly recomend this trilogy to anyone looking for action, a little romance, an unlikely group of heros, plot twists, and fantasy that takes bits of our world and uses them to enhance the world Weeks has created. This is a book that will deffinetely never leave my possesion!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a complicated love story about a man that falls in love with a woman living alone in a large house with her son. The questions that plague the rest of the community of people looking for the evil in everyone do not seem to bother him, but when things start to spin our of the tenant's hands, she decides to give her diary to the man she has fallen for so that he will know everything. Thus begins the back story of Helen which is a sad story indeed.

This was my first encounter with a Bronte, and I must admit it was not a bad one. I loved this tale of a woman trying to make her life better than what she was given and the men whom have so influenced her life, including her son. It was a book club read or, I will freely admit, I might never have picked it up as I tend to not like classics. I was once more corrected and made to enjoy an incredible author that managed to make me feel utturly heartbroken at her main character's plight.

I recommend this to those that can handle authors such as Jane Austin, as the writing can be a little difficult to understand for some. However, I highly recommend that anyone that has not taken the time to pick this one up yet, do so soon. It was a great book that I am glad to say I read, and it makes me eager to pick up yet another Bronte, hopefully in the very near future.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


This unuiqe take on the afterlife was the second book on the Book Club's reading list. And boy it could not have been any more different from Cranford of last month.

Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is the story of a young girl who dies crossing the road. Suddenly she wakes up on a cruise ship to the island where everyone goes to wait out their time after death. She is greeted by her grandmother who is astonishingly young and is made to go through orientation where she learns everythign she needs to for the life beyond death. The twist? Oh nothing much, except that in the afterlife you live backwards! Meaning if it took you thirteen years to reach the end of your life, it will take you thirteen years to reach the end of your death and you will slowly grow younger, until you are ready to be reborn in the world once more.

Not only was this a very new and wonderful take on the afterlife, but I believe it was well written! I fell in love with the characters and understood their difficulties and feelings in this post-life life. The main character, Liz, is no more than a teenager when her life is ended and she is understandbly upset and unable to more on, much as people on this side of things are. The author does a great job of bringing life to these dead people! I loved the writing and plot and all the little bits in between.

That being said, not everyone in the book club was as thrilled with this work as I was. Some said that it was not what they expected, that they thought the main character was a bit annoying. Well, I guess it isn't for everyone. But if you are looking for a fresh take on what happens when life ends and death begins, this may be the book for you. I would recommend everyone read it, if only for the point of expanding your horizons and thoughts about what occurs after you cross over. I think many people will be pleasantly surprised by this one, I know I was.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Catching Fire

"The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion." -Catching Fire (p. 216)

Well of course I picked up this book expecting something amazing. And of course I was not dissapointed by Suzanne Collins! Catching Fire is another amazing book in the series that had drawn so many into the world of Katniss and her friends and family. A world where children are thrown into an arena to fight for their lives inf ront of the whole world, including those they left behind. But we thought that Katniss left all that behind when her and Peeta made it out alive in The Hunger Games by defying those in charge. Well, maybe they should not have made so many people mad, because of course they are pulled into the mess they have made when it is announced that former winners of the games will be the ones participating at the next Hunger Games.

Of course not everything is what it seems as the world seems to careen around Katniss as she tries to make it out of everything alive, or at least alive enough to save those around her. Even she doesn't know the full  magnitude of the events taking place that she knows little to nothing about.

And of course through all of this is the strained love triangle Katniss is caught in without her agreement. This just makes things more intense for the story as readers pick their sides and hope they favorite makes it out alive. Are we so different from the people of the Capitol?

Anyway, of course this fast paced book full of twists and turns and confusion is worth the read. Finishing it in less than 24 hours I am eager to pick up the next one! Have you read them all? What do you think? Well, without giving too much away, let us know!

Friday, February 1, 2013


"In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazonz; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women." -Cranford (p. 1)

This was the first book in my book club for the year, and let me tell you I think it is a little promising that we are now all looking at the reading list and thinking it can only get better from here.

Cranford is a collection of stories discribing the lives of women located in the town for which the book is named. As the quote I picked for the book states, it is a town made up almost completely of women, or at least all the people in the town that seem to matter are women. And it seems that none of them are married. And they are all older, and very set in their ways. So there is a good deal of gossip going on in each story and a very large number of opinions about everything that is happening. In essence this book reminded most of the members of the book club of a sitcom.

I don't even know where to begin in the list of things that the women in my book club did not like about this book, but I will say that even the one that selected this book was not enthusiastic about reading it! The book was originally published as a sereal, meaning that each week one of the chapter was put in the newspaper for everyone to read. And we debated on if that could have been the reason that the stories in the book seemed to be so broken up. I had difficulty reading it as each chapter seemed to be like a puzzle piece forced to fit with the one beside it even though they didn't belong together. I suppose that in reality that was our only major problem, but it seemed like with an obstacle like that it made the rest of the book so difficult.

I will say that there were a few stories that made me laugh. At one point the story even grew interesting and most of us were eager to continue to see how things worked out. But then the book just ended. Almost as if in mid thought!

All in all the bok was a let down, but as with most books I am glad that I was given the oppurtunity to read it, even if it was just to appreciate the other books in the club more. This is one of the few books that I would not recommend to others. Sorry. Although if someone feels different, please feel free to comment, let me know why you liked it so much! Maybe I will pick up the book again in the future and see it from your point of view! Otherwise I may never read this book again. Sorry.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Thank you to Vicky over at Notes From An Aspiring Writer blog for tagging me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Those of us who do, in fact, have a Next Big Thing to talk about, will be answering some pretty basic questions about the books we're working on. I have chosen to talk about the book I am most proud of, even though it is not yet finished. After I answer the questions, I will tag a few authors who will answer the same questions and then pass the word on! Okay, I got this.

Q: What is the working title of your next book?
Divided We Fall. And as far as I am aware that is what it will remain.

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
My friends. I have a very diverse group of friends and while we don't usually agree on certain things we manage to remain close. And yet there are so many people in the world around us that can't manage to be civil to strangers because of these same differences. I got tired of seeing it all around me and so I am working on a book about what the world could be like if we let our hatred get the better of us.

Q: What genre does the book fall under?
I am going to have to say contemporary fiction. Maybe I would even go so far as to say satire.

Q: What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?
Wow, I haven't thought about this question for this book. I think I would like to see Brittany Underwood as the main character, Christian.

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Christian is part of a world divided along religious lines, but she wants to be given the chance to show she can be accepting of others.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I want to say it will be picked up by an agency, but if in the next few years it isn't, I am highly considering self-publication.

Q: How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well, I got half of the way through it in one month with Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but I am not completely happy with it. When it is done, I will answer this question again.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
To be honost, I don't know of any. Again, I will answer this question again if I find any.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My friends. I told them what I was planning and they supported me through every step, even giving me ideas for characters since it takes place with our grandchildren. And my husband who thought it was an incredible idea and is still pushing me to finish it.

Q: What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?
Divided We Fall, enough said. I hope readers will see that this is a book about where we are possibly headed and they will be both intrigued and scared by what I have to show them. But it is also a book about a girl who sets out to change the world, and through her friendship and family, she can do just that. I want it to inspire and challange people.
Ok, this is when I tag other authors to continue the hop. So I have chosen authors that have inspired me and who have put their Next Big Thing out there. I am also hopign to review their novels this year (1 of which I have already read and loved, but am waiting to review).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

His Dark Materials

The Golden Compass
"In many ways Lyra was a barbarian. What she liked best was cambering over the Colege roofs with Roger, the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passsing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." -The Golden Compass (p. 34-5)

The story starts with Lyra, a young girl living among the scholars of Jordan Coleg in Oxford, sneaking into a room where she is not allowed and hearing things that spark her curiousity and which leads her onto a wild adventure involving unlikely villans, lifelong secrets, painful discoveries, and an awesome bear in armor!

When I first picked up this book my husband looked at me in shock. He could not believe that I had not yet read this series! Now that I have finally picked it up, I can't believe that I have waited so long, either! This book was very interesting, filled with action from one leg of Lyra's journey to the next. I enoyed the world that Philip Pullman creates, one so close to our world yet different in ways that make all the difference. And one of the things that I noticed early on is how Pullman does a great job of explaining the bits of this universe that are different from ours without looking down on the reader or filling the book with exposition to discribe it all. By making the main character a young, oftentimes niave, girl he allows the reader to learn a lot through her.

Over all I am sorry I did not take the chance to read this book when I was younger and would have hung on every word of all three books. Yet I am so glad that I am getting the oppurtinuty to do so now. I look forward to reading the next two books. I also look forward to encouraging my kids to read them as well. You should do the same if you haven't already!

The following  is from the next book of the series. If you have not yet finished the first book you may not want to continue reading. You should stop now and come back later. I do not believe there are really any spoilers, but I am warning you that you may find out things you didn't want to know yet. Read on at your own risk.

The Subtle Knife
"When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once. He could find food, and show her how to reach Oxford, and those werre powers that were useful, but he might still have been untrustworthy or cowardly. A murderer was a worthy companion. She felt as safe with him as she'd felt with Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear." -The Subtle Knife (p. 28)

The story of Lyra and her journey continues. While the first book is set in Lyra's world, this next book takes a trip into the world that the reader knows. Will's world, as he is the first character we meet and one that stays throughout the novel to help Lyra. He is yet another piece to the ever expanding puzzle as Lyra tries to figure out what Dust is, what her father and mother are trying to do with it and the world, and where she fits in with the whole big story. And now she has to figure out how Will fits in as well!

Will and Lyra are so similar, both being survivors with parents that are less than ideal, looking to figure things out for themselves since they can't seem to rely on any adults. Yet they come from two different worlds and they may have two completely different roles to play in the grand scheme of things!

Along for the ride trying to help Lyra, and therefore at times Will, are such favorites as Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala as well as new players of the game Dr. Mary Malone and the man everyone thought dead Professor Stanislaus Grumman. Others fade in and out throughout the story aid or hindering the two children as the case may have it. But through it all they remain mostly focused on what they must do and they plan on doing it together.

Again I enjoyed this book although it took me longer than I would have liked to finish it. If I can make one suggestion to you it would be to read all three books straight through. I put this book down for my Book Club book of the Janurary and picking the series back up proved a little more difficutl than I anticipated. It doesn't help that while The Golden Compass leaves off with Lyra crossing into a new world, this one begins with a little boy in our world. However, I do not think the book slowed down much from the first, instead Pullman was very effective at keeping up the pace of the story, something that tends to be difficult with most trilogies.

I look forward to finally picking up the third book and making my way through the chaos that is different worlds, different missions, different players, and different beliefs! Pullman brings a new meaning to organized chaos in my opinion, and I am rather enjoying it! I hope you have gotten the chance to continue the series if you have not done so in the past! It is a good read!

The Amber Spyglass
'"I'll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we'll cling together so tight that nothing and no one'll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you... We'll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams... And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won't just be able to take one, they'll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we'll be joined so tight..." -Lyra, The Amber Spyglass (p. 497)

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is how incredible I thought this series was. That and how I am kicking myself for taking so long to getting around to reading it. This book was such an amazing finale to the story of Lyra and, later, Will. Let me try to give an impression of the book without spoiling anything for anyone that has not already finished it, so bare with me a bit.

This final book in the "His Dark Materials" series is the conclusion, therefore it stands to reason that everything is put to rights in this last book. And I must say that when the reader first picks up the novel they are reassured by it's thickness that every loose end with be tied up nicely and neatly for the reader. However, I am not sure that is necessarily the case. While yes there is a major battle, Lyra and Will accomplish the missions they have been given, and certain truths are discovered as well as how to fix them, the ending is left just open enough for the reader to fill in the blanks how they may want to. This isn't to say that the author left it hanging, no, but he does not make the fatal error of saying "Will went on to. . ." or "Lyra then. . . " which I think sometimes ruins a stories ending. The reader should be allowed to feel the way things should have ended is exactly how they did. The author's job stops at a certain point so to speak.

In the first two books I felt twisted and turned around so much that for a while I wasn't sure that the last book was going to be able to answer all the little questions that I had building up, but not only does Pullman manage to straighten everything out, he does so in such good form that it doesn't feel like the reader is spoon fed all the bits or overwhelmed with it all in one revieling moment. Each answer is placed right when it is needed and it all makes perfect sense as the answers appear!

This is all a round about way of saying that Pullman is such an excellent writer! I lvoed the story, the characters, and, obviously, his style of writing. These books can often be found in the young adult section, but as an adult I loved them! I plan on reading them to my children sometime in the next year or so, knowing that even though they may be young they will be able to understand everything as Pullman does an incredible job with his imagery and storytelling abilities. This is such an amazing series and I agree that it is becoming a classic!

So get your hands on a copy as soon as you can, if you have not already read them. And if you have read the books I see no harm in rereading them! I look forward to being able to enjoy them once more with my children!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Reading Challange 2013

For last year I began a challange to read all the books that I already owned that I had not had the time to read, whether they were gifts, they had been bought with other books and forgotten, or they had been passed over for library books, they had not been read by me. So in an effort to get rid of the books I didn't particularly like, I finally sat down to read all of them.
Of course I didn't finish the list, there were just too many. But I did manage to read 42 of the books on my shelf, getting rid of about a third of them. Others, I discovered, have changed the way I look at some apsects of life and I am eager to share them with my friends.
While I would love to continue with this challange I have to move on. I do plan to pick up where I left off, however, perhaps even next year. But not now.

Last year was all about the books that stand alone, single stories with no follow-up. This year I am going to pick up all the series that I have sitting on my shelves. Some of these are unfinished, meaning I have the first few, the first and last, or even only the first book. My plan is to buy the remaining novels in the ones that I know I want to have (like the Remnants series by K. A. Applegate that I can pass on to my son), and once I have them all sit down and read from beginning to end. With others I will read the first one and decide if I want to pick up the others in the series (like The Sword, The Ring, and The Chalice by Deborah Chester that seemed interesting at the time). And while I collect the missing volumns in those series, I will read the ones that I have all volumns to (like The Tale of the Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice).

So the plan for reviewing is going to be different this year. I like to hold off on my views until I have finished a series, but I know that some have to be reviewed as one goes because of the story, quality, or even length of the novels. So, the plan is to write a review after each novel in a series, but under the same post. This means that if I write a review for book one in a series that you are interested about, you can find my opinion on each book in one convienent place, so check back on that post for more details. This also means that there is a chance for spoilers. I will warn you before any spoilers occur so that you can choose not to read further.

I hope that I can continue to offer helpful opinions on book suggestions for my readers throughout the year! So I hope you enjoy the books you have read by my recommendation and that you find my wide range of novels welcoming to your tastes.

Book Club
While I read what I have on my shelf, I will also be partaking in at least one (hopefully two) book clubs. So I will post my reviews on these books as well as the opinions of the other members of the book club (with their permission) so that readers can get a more diverse opinion base. I will try to keep discussion points from the book club to a minimum since I can tend to post too long reviews as it is. However, if you have a question about our opinions, post it in the comments, maybe we talked about it and I can fill you in on what we thought.

Thank you to anyone who reads this blog. While it started off as, and will remain, mainly a place for me to simply keep track of the books I have read and what I thought of them, I enjoy giving others my thoughts so that they may help them choose books as well. So if there is a book you have loved and wish I would read, post it in comments, I will get to it as soon as I can, and let you know what I think. Whatever my opinion is worth, I thank anyone that takes the time to read.

I hope everyone has an amazing year in 2013, filled with wonderful adventures, both on the page and off!


'"I close the Gate of Fallan," she called. "Henceforth neither mortal nor immortal, Maker nor Messenger nor any created thing may enter here. The stars re forbidden to the people of Fallan, and Fallan is forbidden to the people of the stars."' -Falia, Sun-Lord of the world of Fallan, Stargate (p.17)

Stargate is the story of the universe when the worlds were open to each other, when sun-lords ruled alongside their kin, the suns, and mortals were innocent and able to hold the history of their ancestors in their minds as if it were their own memories. On the world Danar all the thousands of sun-lords would gather with the Worldmaker, laughing, traveling between their worlds, and protecting their mortals. But the Worldmaker grew greedy and one by one the sun-lords had to close their gates to keep the Unmaker out of their worlds. The book begins with the closing of the Gate to the world of Fallan, leaving only four worlds left open and they are no longer safe from corruption. This is the story of their fight against the Unmaker and the falls they all face in the battle.

When I began the book I will admit it seemed a little slow moving to me and I wondered if I would ever finish it. But as the story progressed I became interested in the story of the sun-lords and their plights. This turned out to be an interesting story, well written, with a wonderful ending. While my feelings for the characters were not nearly as strong as they are for other books, I think that is ok because these are gods I was reading about, one actually admits being unable to care as mortals do, so it is only right that I not be able to feel for them as much, right? Yet at the end of the book, when the sun-lord Danarian feels closer to mortals I felt closer to him, even feeling a little sorrow for his final moments in the story, and that is the sign of a good book.

I would love to recommend this book to everyone, but I cannot. You have to be a fan of science fiction in order to enjoy such a novel, or maybe you just have to be willing to see stories outside of our world. This is an amazing story but you will miss it if you cannot open mind and heart to other beings. So if you think you can do that, pick up this book. Imagine a world where people can know all the history of their people because they are connected to their ancestors through innocence, yet they cannot understand why a man laying next to the road will not answer and has no need for air. Take a look at what happens when a Maker looks at his creation and wants it to serve him as slaves because they owe him. See how terribly wrong things can go when a sun-lord gets a glimpse into the future but does not understand what he sees. It is a story that may change the way you look at the world.