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!