Thursday, December 21, 2006
Meyer's sophomore novel continues the story of Bella Swan, a teenager who finds herself inexplicably drawn to Edward Cullen, a gorgeous senior, who just happens to be a 200-year-old vampire. In the first book, Edward spends his time rescuing Bella from various evils, including a bloodthirsty vampire named James. In the second, Edward breaks Bella's heart by leaving (for her own good, he says). In an attempt to fill the bottomless void left by her true love, Bella becomes very close to an old family friend, 16-year-old Jacob Black. As their friendship deepens, she wonders if she can ever let go of Edward and accept the love of someone else. Just as she is beginning to feel somewhat happy again, Jacob's lightheartedness changes, and Bella discovers he has secrets of his own, secrets that could destroy Edward and his family. Despite Edward's betrayal, Bella is compelled to help him, a compulsion that puts her in more danger than she could ever imagine.
Once again, Meyer has created a story full of adventure, humor and passion. I find her novels immensely readable (they are actually Young Adult novels) and extremely compelling. Although New Moon is more introspective than Twilight, it is still a blood-pumping, page-turning marvel that will suck you in completely. I love her books, and am anxious to read the next three (yes, three, according to her website) installments.
Monday, December 18, 2006
As I said before, the story offers a little bit of everything - history, adventure, humor, romance, and heartache. The plot moves quickly (although, I admit, it is pretty predictable), the characters are interesting, and the prose is succint. It's been compared to Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but I think it is much richer than Smith's story. It's a good read - not a page turner necessarily, but definitely worth reading.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The star of the novel is Marina Buriakov, an 82-year-old Russian immigrant, teetering on the brink of full-fledged Alzheimer's. Her story swings between present day --as she attends her granddaughter's wedding -- and her days as a young woman in war-torn Leningrad. Before the war, Marina wored as a tour guide at The Hermitage art museum, a job she loved. When war breaks out, her happy existence is shattered; she is forced to huddle in the cellars with the rest of the museum staff, ekeing out a bleak life that is increasingly endangered by lack of food, heat and other necessities. As she works with the other museum employees to pack treasured artwork for transport out of the besieged city, Marina concentrates on memorizing the pieces. Her memory of richly colored, vivid paintings stands in sharp contrast to the dark, cold world outside the museum. Although Marina and her fiancee (a soldier) survive the war, they bury their painful memories, travel to the U.S. and start new lives. Now, as Marina's mind is ravaged by disease, her daughter, Helen, realizes how little she knows her mother. The reader, like Helen, soon realizes that Marina Buriakov is a woman worth knowing, and admiring.
Dean's literary power lies in her descriptive abilities. She is especially effective at contrasting different elements, such as the priceless museum paintings and the bleak, cold world of Leningrad. The imagery is so strong that it stays in the readers head long after he/she has closed the book. It's not a feel-good book, but it is an amazingly powerful, heart-wrenching one, that should not be missed.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The story begins with 4 friends vacationing in Cancun. After a few days soaking up the rays on the beach, they decide to join a German friend, Mathias, on a day trip to visit some ruins. Mathias' brother had followed his girlfriend archaeologist to the site, encouraging Mathias to join them by following a crude map he had drawn. So, the 5 of them, plus a Greek they just met, head off for a remote Mayan village. Strange happenings occur right off the bat - the group's taxi driver warns them the place is "no good," the locals try to run them off, and the archaeologists are nowhere in sight. Soon, the group finds itself stranded on a hillside, surrounded by armed Mayans. The hillside is eerily silent, devoid of animal, insect or human life - the only thing that's living is the vine that grows thickly all over the hill. As it becomes increasingly clear that they won't be leaving the hillside anytime soon, the group has to figure out how to survive on little food and water, and how to avoid turning on each other. As if they didn't have enough problems, the mysterious vines seem to have a life of their own...
The story is, in a word, creepy. The first half, especially, is taut, and breathtakingly suspenseful. You won't be able to turn the pages fast enough. The only thing I really didn't like about the book was the ending - the characters became wimpy and annoying, and the mystery of the vine was never solved. Should you read it? Definitely. It's an incredibly suspenseful book - just watch out for the vegetation!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
The story revolves around 3-year-old twin girls, Kathy and Kelly Frawley. One night, while their parents are out, the girls are snatched from their beds by a group of greedy thugs. Although the ransom is soon paid, only one of the girls (Kelly) is returned to her family. As the police scramble to find the missing twin, it becomes increasingly obvious to them that Kathy has been killed by her captors. Margaret, the girls' mother, refuses to believe the grim news, especially when Kelly insists that she is communicating with her sister. What follows is a tense race-against-the-clock hunt for the kidnappers, written in the taut, staccato chapters for which Clark is famous.
Like I said, the book is a bit tame and predictable, but worth the read nonetheless.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Like I said, this book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, (mostly because of its zany characters and Will's own funny adventures) but it is also surprisingly poignant. Some of the situations are startling and heartbreaking. Overall, it is a vivid and colorful portrait of small-town Southern life that sparkles and shines. Don't miss it!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The story is told by Reuben Land, an 11-year-old asthmatic, whose life chnges forever when his older brother, Davy, is jailed for murdering two boys who had been threatening the Land Family. Reuben and his colorful little sister Swede miss their brother terribly, as does their father whose worries take a toll on his health. When Davy's trial takes a turn for the worse, Swede decides it's time to break their big brother out of jail; their plan is foiled when both siblings fall asleep waiting for a chance to sneak out of the house. To their surprise and delight, the family discovers that Davy has broken himself out while they slept. Thus begins their journey to the Badlands in hot pursuit of their outlaw brother. With a federal agent tracking their every move, the Lands follow their hearts and their father's uncanny "inspiration" from the Lord to find their beloved brother.
What really sparkles in this story is the characters. Reuben is helplessly flawed; his cowardice weighs him down, but his honesty makes him true and noble. Swede absolutely sparkles as the imaginative, spunky little sister who can weave tales out of thin air and foil the "putrid fed" by sabotaging him with maple syrup. She is an incredible, irresistible character. Jeremiah Land provides an interesting twist to the story. He is a kind, wise father, who talks regularly with the Lord and reads his King James every morning. In fact, Reuben describes him as a literal miracle-worker, equating him with Jesus Christ Himself. As far-fetched as it sounds, you come to believe Reuben's view of his humble, steadfast father. The Lands are believable, likeable and utterly impossible to forget.
If you're looking for a beautiful novel about family, faith and innocence, pick up Peace Like A River - I promise you won't be able to put it down!
Friday, September 01, 2006
Back in Kentucky, the Henrys are haunted by the ghost of their daughter. Despite her happiness with her baby boy, Norah can't get past the immense feeling of loss that seems to accompany her every waking moment. David's relunctance to talk abut the death creates a gulf between he and Norah, a fissure that widens with every passing day. As their son, Paul, grows up, he can feel the tension between them, and mistakenly construes it as his fault.
When a tragedy strikes, the past comes flying into the present, and the Henrys must face the mistake David made so many years ago.
This book is beautifully written, although in a very stark and haunting way. Even Caroline's story, which is supposed to provide a bright counterpoint to the Henrys sad story, is described in a sad, bleak way. The plot is very engrossing and fast-paced, but undeniably sad. Although the book is eventually about redemption, it is ultimately sad and depressing. I thought the book was interesting and very well-written - I just couldn't get over its incredibly bleak tone.
Friday, August 18, 2006
To complicate matters further, Tempe's estranged husband has taken up temporary residence in the same beach house where Tempe is staying. This situation doesn't go over well with her boyfriend, Detective Andrew Ryan. When both men end up at the beach house to help with Tempe's case, things get very complicated. Her personal life is always just as interesting as her current case!
Reichs is a talented writer, who also happens to be an expert in forensic anthropology, a field in which she has worked for many years. She has been accused of using too much jargon in her stories, but I believe she uses just enough to be interesting without being overwhelming. Her plots are always taut and exciting; her characters (even down to Tempe's pet dog and cat) believable and rich in personality; and her cases fascinating. If you love CSI, Reichs is for you.
Monday, August 14, 2006
While I found this book interesting, I can't say I really liked it. The storyline is very disjointed, although in an artsy kind of way. I found few of the characters to be likable. Make no mistake, the book is extremely well written, it's just not a story you can read casually. Would I recommend reading it? Yes, for the fresh and incredibly interesting view on slavery, no, if you are looking for an easy, well-plotted story.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
My husband and I have had this book sitting in our master bathroom for several weeks now, and we have been reading it simultaneously. We have had many great discussions because of it; it's been amazing to see how differently we interpret the information we've read. We were both deeply impacted by the book, and I think it's helped us to look more closely at our own sins and less judgmentally at others'. Whether or not you're LDS, I think this is a great, thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it!
Monday, August 07, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
What: A challenge to read all of the Printz Award-winning books
Where: All the info is here
Why: To find more great books, of course!
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi - my review Stolen by Lucy Christopher - my review
Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
Nothing by Janne Teller
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973 by John Barnes
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - my review
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart - my review
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox
One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - my review
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography by Elizabeth Partridge
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
how i live now by Meg Rosoff - my review
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson - my review A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly - my review
Keesha’s House by Helen Frost
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - my review
Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - my review
My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
A Step From Heaven by An Na
The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art by Jan Greenberg Abrams
Freewill by Chris Lynch
True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond
Many Stones by Carolyn Coman
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Skellig by David Almond
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - my review
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger