Monday, March 31, 2008

On... Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

I found myself strangely fascinated by this book. I have read a Dear America book, a diary of a slave girl, very similar to this book but this account is purported to be true. Disclaimer: I am not claiming that the facts of this book are false, only that we as humans are prone to exaggerate and Ms. Jacobs may have exaggerated or otherwise alter the facts. Since I did not live at that time or live her life I do not know.

Jacobs' writing style threw me a little. She did not always give information as an author of a novel would but she was writing her memoirs or autobiography... whichever word you choose. She never out right mentioned who the father of her children was and I found myself flipping the pages back to try and figure out but perhaps I either skimmed over that information without realizing it or she did in fact never out right mention the name or identity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and wish to own it. I believe that it would make an excellent addition to my library of historical books. (After all, if I want to teach history some day I should have some good books shouldn't I?)

On... God's Gift by Dee Henderson

I fell in love with Henderson's O'Malley series. I felt connected to these characters even though all of them were ten to fifteen years old than me. Her combination of suspense and romance went right up my alley.

This book, published before the O'Malley series but after the prequel Danger in the Shadows, did not have that same vibe. I struggled to enter the book. Henderson loaded a good deal of back story even before the twentieth page. (I think that I'm super sensitive to that because of something another favorite author of mine once wrote. She makes a point to avoid adding any extensive backstory before page 30).

The relationship between Rae and Leo, a character deceased before the beginning of the novel also confused me. Not until much later in the book does Henderson reveal that Rae and Leo were days away from being engaged. For several pages I couldn't figure out whether Leo was just a business partner, a husband, a fiance or a really good friend. I think that that relationship would have been one to clarify towards the beginning.

Once I got into the book I enjoyed it. I chafed though at the slow pace of the book. Nothing really drove the book, nothing drove Rae and James' relationship one way or the either. Of course the relationship went through its ups and downs but nothing dramatic, like in the O'Malley series laid the undertow to the relationship story.

I still enjoy Dee Henderson but I would not recommend this book to someone who had never read any of her books before.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On Safe Haven and Last Resort by Hannah Alexander

I don't know why I didn't keep reading Hannah Alexander books. I absolutely love these next two books in the series.

Thankfully Alexander did not keep the all of the characters from the first book. Too many characters makes for a very messy story. The characters don't disappear, they simply take a back seat.

The stories Alexander crafted for both of these books hemmed tighter together, if there were different parts and also involved much more serious situations, people dying and the what not. I would write a much better review but my mind is not concentrating on the books.

I'll leave both books with a strong recommendation.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

On Hideaway by Hannah Alexander

I read a couple of books by this author, a pen name for a husband and wife duo, a few years back. I enjoyed the books but I must not have been absolutely captivated by them because I didn't rush out or even casually pursue subsequent books published by the pair.

The jury is out on whether or not I will still hold to that assumption.

After this book, the first in the Hideaway series, I would go out and check out the next book from the library. Heh... I would if I hadn't already done so. :D

Just a disclaimer before I begin. I found myself slightly distracted as I read this book because the only version of the book my library owned is large print. No, I don't have eye problems but I love reading the first book in a series at the very beginning. :D

I did enjoy this book and enjoyed it even more when Alexander brought the two seemingly unconnected plot lines together. The book begins with Cheyenne Allison, a doctor working in the ER of Missouri Regional Hospital and Dane Gideon, a rancher who runs a ranch for troubled (though that's not the best word for it) teens in little ole Hideaway, Missouri.

At the beginning of the book the two plot lines continue on completely separate paths but gel when Alexander brings Cheyenne to Hideaway after a tragic event back home. Though the romance between Dane and Cheyenne is evident in the beginning of the book Alexander does not push the romance on the readers or let the budding romance overwhelm the bigger issues in Hideaway or back at Missouri Regional, issues which actually drive the plot.

I enjoyed this book and believe that I will enjoy the next book even if the main characters are no longer Dane and Cheyenne.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony and Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

Wow. What a way to end the series (I don't know if Eoin Colfer plans to write any more Artemis Fowl but if he doesn't end up adding any more to the series than The Lost Colony was an excellent way to finish up the story).

Personally I have always been interested in time travel and the whole idea of messing with the time/space continuum which is what this book does when it introduces an 8th family to the people, demons. Granted, involving demons usually sends a book in a whole different direction of myth and lore but Colfer managed to keep these demons from dragging the book away from the original tone of the stories.

I feel as though I jumped too quickly on the de-villainizing of Artemis Fowl's character. Now that I have read all five books currently in the series I understand why these stories can take the direction they take and why Artemis gradually becomes not so much the always bad criminal mastermind. If Artemis didn't change at all his character would be as static and stock as any other super-villain pulled out of the hat. Colfer though throws some twists in there that make me very sad that there are no more books in the series.

Half-Moon Investigations

Now, this book is not currently part of a series but the way the book ends leaves the door open for many more to come just as Artemis Fowl did.

I have to say though that I didn't like this book as much. I liked Artemis Fowl a lot because of how Colfer wove together humans (or Mud Men :D) and the People (fairies). The extreme danger that Holly and Artemis usually find themselves in culminated usually from the conflict between the aforementioned groups.

In Half-Moon Investigations I simply see Fletcher Moon as another reincarnation of a typical pre-teen kid turned detective. I could list all of the various incarnations but there's really no point in that.

Granted, the story had all of the plot twists and turns that I have come to expect from a Colfer book but I simply wasn't as drawn into the story. Perhaps Colfer should stick with little boy criminal masterminds starting to turn good because Fletcher, as a goodie two shoes from the beginning just wasn't as convincing.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend the Artemis Fowl books and if one still wants more written by the same author than I would advise him to pick up Half-Moon Investigations. For Colfer's sake I'm glad that Half-Moon Investigations was not his first book. Publishers might not have given him enough rope to string out Artemis Fowl.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On... A Fire Within by Kathleen Morgan

I have this penchant for books set back in Scotland and/or Ireland. I especially love all of Kathleen Morgan's book so I latched onto this book, the conclusion of a series. I couldn't put it down. I fell in love with the characters and even felt that wierd, end of the book, sad to leave the characters when I finished the book this afternoon.

I strongly recommend this book and all of Kathleen Morgan's book!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On... Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception

Wow. I could not put the fourth book in this series down. Colfer carefully weaves together the lives of Artemis and Holly Short in a way that if not already evident from earlier books in the series, confirms that though the series may be titled Artemis Fowl, Artemis is only one of the major players.

I got so caught up in the book. I nearly cried when one of the characters died. I couldn't believe that Colfer did that. I kept waiting for some way for the character to return. After all, Butler has had several near death experiences but still lives and breathes albeit slightly altered.

I wish that Juliet had made an appearance in the fourth book. Her presence in the third added a new dimension to the story.. If Colfer doesn't bring her back into the fifth book I'll wonder if he just simply used her character as a tool to further the plot in that particular book. Well, not quite as dire as that sounds but nearly so.

While I look forward to reading the fifth book in the series I almost hesitate to do so because the fate of Artemis Fowl and Holly Short will remain in limbo after the conclusion of the book.

On... Artemis Fowl: the Eternity Code

Forget what I said about Colfer messing with Artemis' villainy. He must have had the twists in the third book planned out from the beginning. I finished reading the last few pages this morning and couldn't wait (still can't) to read the next book. See, that's something I like about discovering a series once several or all of the books are already out.

I thoroughly enjoy the Artemis Fowl books. I hope they only improve from here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On... Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

I wondered where the second book in the series would pick up and if Artemis would have a new dastardly mission to begin, conquering some other world or something (besides the fairies). I also wondered how Colfer would develop Artemis' character.

With a villain there are two ways to take. One is to create a simply or nearly unbelievably callous villain who always does what is best for him no matter what. Colfer couldn't take this route. He had already established Artemis' desire to rescue his father. Now, how Artemis set about doing said thing could be illegal, granted.

Now, as much as I loved the fairy world and would have loved to have seen Captain Holly Short be the primary character from the beginning (have the series revolve around her), the series is clearly named after Artemis Fowl. This book created yet another villain, a fairy out for revenge for an incident that happened in the first novel, and employed Artemis and Butler in aiding the fairies keep their world from being dominated by ruthless villains. Granted, Artemis helps them in order to save his father but still, the book seemed to divert away from the villainous nature of Artemis established in the first book.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the focus on the fairy world, I just think that if the series is named after Artemis Fowl, the primary concern of the book should be one of his concerns.

Also, I wish Colfer would just leave the character of Mulch Diggums alone. The whole "digging" process is simply disgusting. I know that young boys who may read this books will love all of those parts and most likely laugh hilariously but still... I simply don't think that it's in good taste.

Monday, March 24, 2008

On... The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

To my great surprise when I picked up The Hitchhiker's Guide from the library my bookmark made a miraculous appearance! Even after being dropped in the book drop and re-shelved I didn't have to waste precious time searching for my bookmark. :D

Usually I try to read the book before I watch the movie based on the book. In the case of this book I didn't even know that it existed until I watched the movie.

In all honest, I was not disappointed. Usually the book is better than the movie or the movie is better than the book. Some comparisons can be made. For me the movie seemed to be almost exactly like the book, with the same droll, inane humor that makes the Hitchhiker's Guide so unique.

Though I expected many more pages in the story (due to a 92-page bonus section on the making of the movie) I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Reading it made the time fly.

The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway proves why his works rank so high in the esteem of American literature critics. On the outset, the story of a foolish old man who allows a big catch to pull him too far out to sea but when he finally catches it, loses the flesh of the fish to sharks doesn't actually seem all that interesting.

I couldn't help but keep reading. Hemingway held onto information like Ebenezer Scrooge with gold and dropped choice nuggets at appropriate times. Only a true master of words could manage something like this without looking contrived.

Both books were a pleasure to read, though the Old Man and the Sea was certainly not "entertainment".

Saturday, March 22, 2008

On Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

For the longest time I don't know why but I assumed that Eoin Colfer was a girl. Silly me.

I've been intrigued by Artemis Fowl simply because I knew that these books were somewhat of the Harry Potter type. I believe I watched some sort of news magazine segment that compared them. Apparently several different popular series of this type were published about this time.

I found myself pleasantly surprised by the book, especially by the revelation that Artemis Fowl is a villain. (No spoilers. It says as much on the dust jacket)

Although some of the things in the book would make me shy away from recommending it to pre-teens (10-12 or 13) the book is well written, lots of plot twists, clever imaginings of fairies (something that has always fascinated me as a kid) and what happens when the two worlds collide.

I look forward to reading the other four books in the series that I have checked out from the library.

Now, my reading of this series may be interrupted by a brief interlude so that I can finish Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That was the first book I intended on finishing. Unfortunately the book made its way back to the library before I could even retrieve my bookmark. :D

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On... Spring Reading Thing

I am so excited about this. Because I'm starting my Master's Program in the summer this will probably be the last challenge for a very long time that I can create a list this long. :D

In no particular order here are the books that I intend to read this spring.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (03/22/08)
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer (03/25/08)
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer (03/26/08)
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer (03/27/08)
Artemis Fowl: THe Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer (03/26/08)
Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer (03/28/08)
The Hitchhikers Guide the the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (03/24/08)
Hideaway by Hannah Alexander (03/29/08)
Safe Haven by Hannah Alexander (03/30/08)
Last Resort by Hannah Alexander (03/30/08)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (03/24/08)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (04/13/08)
By way of the wilderness by Gilbert Morris (04/07/08)
The Jeweled Spur by Gilbert Morris (04/07/08)
The Spider Catcher by Gilbert Morris (04/23/08)
The High Calling by Gilbert Morris (04/07/08)
The Golden Angel by Gilbert Morris (04/07/08)
The Unlikely Allies by Gilbert Morris (04/07/08)
Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley (04/21/08)
Confessions of an ugly stepsister by Gregory Maguire (04/01/08)
Incidents in the life of a slave girl by Harriet A. Jacobs (03/31/08)
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien by J. R. R. Tolkien (04/06/08)
God's gift by Dee Henderson (03/31/08)
The poems of Emily Dickinson edited by R. W. Franklin (04/04/08)
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (04/20/08)
American sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis (04/18/08)
Stoner's Crossing by Judith Pella (04/19/08)
Be My Neat-Heart by Judy Baer (04/14/08)
Halos by Kirsten Heitzmann (04/22/08)
The Breaking Point by Karen Ball (05/29/08)
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (04/28/08)
Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson (04/24/08)
Daughter of Joy by Kathleen Morgan (04/29/08)
Dreams in the Golden Country by Kathryn Lasky (04/27/08)
Seeds of Hope by Kristiana Gregory (04/25/08)
The Way of Women by Lauraine Snelling (04/30/08)
Kingscote by Linda Chaikin (04/26/08)
Handyman by Linda Nichols (05/04/08)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (04/24/08)
Escape by Lorena McCourtney (05/21/08)
Monday Morning Faith by Lori Copeland (05/02/08)
Holes by Louis Sachar (05/06/08)
Becoming Me by Melody Carlson (06/19/08)
Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgens Clark (05/10/08)
Never Too Late by Michael Phillips (05/01/08)
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alborn (05/08/08)
Mary Poppins in the Park by P. L . Travers (05/07/08)
Look to the Hills by Patricia Mckissack (04/30/08)
Secrets, Lies and Alibies by Patricia Rushford (05/23/08)
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (05/11/08)
Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp by Philip Pullman (05/06/08)
Going Solo by Roald Dahl (05/22/08)
The Solitary Envoy by T. Davis Bunn (05/16/08)

Books added after the beginning of the challenge
A Fire Within by Kathleen Morgan (03/27/08)
Every Secret Thing by Ann Tatlock (04/02/08)
In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols (04/08/08)
The Scribe by Francine Rivers (04/17/08)
Betrayed by Jeanette Windle (04/26/08)
A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austing (05/01/08)
Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven by Kathryn Lasky (05/12/08)
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory (05/12/08)
Lullaby by Jane Orcutt (05/14/08)
All the Tea in China by Jane Orcutt (05/14/08)
The Gawgon and the Boy by Lloyd Alexander (05/17/08)
Gypsy Rizka by Lloyd Alexander (05/18/08)
A Season of Grace by Bette Nordberg (05/19/08)
Second Opinion by Hannah Alexander (05/20/08)
Urgent Care by Hannah Alexander (05/20/08)
A Most Begrudging Bride by Deeanne Gist (05/20/08)
Rekindled by Tamera Alexander (05/24/08)
Love Thy Neighbor by Ann Turner (05/25/08)
The Professor's House by Willa Cather (05/26/08)
The Listener by Terri Blackstock (05/27/08)
One of Ours by Willa Cather (05/27/08)
The Scarecrow and his Servant by Philip Pullman (05/28/08)
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (05/29/08)
The Braxtons of Miracle Springs by Michael Philips (05/30/08)
Wild Grows the Heather in Devon by Michael Philips (05/31/08)
Wayward Winds by Michael Philips (06/01/08)
The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo (06/01/08)
Kristina: the Girl King by Carolyn Meyer (06/01/08)
Early Sunday Morning by Barry Denenberg (06/01/08)
soul surfer by Bethany Hamilton (06/02/08)
Peril at End House by Agatha Christie (06/03/08)
Hidden Talents by David Lubar (06/04/08)
What She Left for Me by Tracie Peterson (06/06/08)
The Noble Fugitive by T Davis Bunn and Isabella Bunn (06/07/08)
Forgiven by Karen Kingsbury (06/08/08)
Fifth Seal by Bodie and Brock Thoene (06/08/08)
When Will This Cruel War Be Over by Barry Denenberg (06/09/08)
The Journal of Ben Unchida by Barry Denenberg (06/10/08)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (06/13/08)
Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda (06/13/08)
Rowan and the Travelers by Emily Rodda (06/14/08)
Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal by Emily Rodda (06/14/08)
Rowan and the Zeback by Emily Rodda(06/14/08)
Rowan and the Ice Creepers by Emily Rodda (06/15/08)
Talking with God by Fenelon (06/16/08)
Three Plays by Euripides (06/17/08)
The Supernaturalists by Eoin Colfer (06/18/08)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On... Wrapping up the Winter Reading Challenge

I added many books to my list from the beginning list. My schedule changed at work so I had much more time to read and the list kept getting longer. Then my schedule changed again. I couldn't keep adding books and I kind of stopped reading and/or trailed off.

I enjoyed this challenge and finding new authors. I found several, including one that I want to actually buy all of her books. She now ranks among my absolute favorites, one of those where I would go out and buy her book brand new to add to my collection.

I also read many duds, at least not as many as the Fall Reading Challenge with all of those GIlbert Morris books.

I'm reading more now and thank goodness, just in time for Spring Reading Thing!

Friday, March 07, 2008

On... Readjusting

Wow. I had been reading so much and writing reviews and crossing things off my list.

Then my schedule at work changed... without warning... and I kind of revolted against the change. I haven't really read much since then.

Now another reading challenge is coming and I have to see how I can do this because of course... I can't back away from this. :D

Now, the readjusting continues because my boss continues to change my schedule. I'm also trying to figure out what is most important and what I want to concentrate on getting done.

We'll see. Now I'm off to read.