Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Nightlight: A Parody
Nightlight: A Parody

You know, I heard this book was hilarious. And it was funny, but not quite hilarious. Can't say that I loved it. Def did not live up to the hype.  So if you are bored and have absolutely nothing else to read and need a laugh at vampire lovers, go for it. But don't go out of your way to read this. 

The Lost Hero

The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero 
The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero

My brother Matthew has been bugging me to read this book for months, and it finally reached the top of my list this weekend. The Lost Hero follows the Percy Jackson series, but is not necessarily dependent on such. It is about three kids, demigods, named Jason, Leo, and Piper.  Jason has no memory, Leo unintentionally killed his mother in a fire, and Piper's father has disappeared. The are all together on a field trip when disaster strikes and Annabeth arrives to take them to Camp Half-Blood, the camp for demigods.  It gives them a home, keeps them safe from the monsters, and provides a learning environment for them: about themselves, mythology, weaponry.

The story is about Jason and his quest, which Leo and Piper accompany him on, to retrieve his memories and allow all of them to understand their strange visions.  It involves Greek Gods, their Roman counterparts, mythology, important players in Greek mythology, monsters, fights, adventures, and a robotic dragon. 

I found the story delightful to be honest.  I love  mythology and I love catching all the secret little throwbacks Riordan makes to mythology and history. It's great that it's for children, so I can read it quickly and also because I think it's great for kids to read. It's even better when they read things important or relevant, but don't know it. Of course, Greek myths are not of vast importance in today's world, but I still feel that they should be known. So read it! And give it to kids to read!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Virgin Blue

I really didn't like this book!

Okay, that's out of the way. So The Virgin Blue is about this girl, Ella, who moves to France with her husband. Turns out, she's of French descent, but her folks emigrated during the Catholic/Huguenot problems. In stereotypical novel fashion, she starts researching her ancestors, and librarians are more than happy to help her, going out of their way and spending their own time to research her family. The French must be a very helpful people.

Then the novel will flash back to Ella's ancestors. I enjoyed these parts much more, which I have found is generally a problem with this sort of novel. I am always more interested in one of the two stories, usually the historical.  Maybe if it was used more sparingly, as a frame, or a bookend, I would be able to stand it better. 

With these history books, especially Catholic/Huguenot ones, an element of magic is generally present in the women. I'm kind of fascinated by this idea; that men have religion and women have magic. Rephrase: There is a certain mysticism to these women and their rituals, but it isn't like they're casting spells. Just that they believe in a spiritual goddess or female power to help them. This, of course, becomes a major problem for Isabelle, the ancestor, in this book. 

Spoiler: Ella cheats and it bothers me. I don't like her character at all.

And to finish my unclear and scattered review of this book, I feel like Isabelle's story ended quickly and unclearly (whereas she could have an entire novel to herself) and Ella's was unnecessarily drawn out. It was just weird. It got really staccato-y at the end, especially Isabelle's story. I just didn't like it at all. Don't read it.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The City of Ember

This reminds me of both Lois Lowry's Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger as well as Margaret Peterson Haddix's Running Out of Time. This is by no means bad.  City of Ember is written as young adult sci-fi, or perhaps just young adult fiction, but it is still a good read. 

It's about a city entirely in darkness, powered by an underwater generator powered by the river.  They are running out of resources, however, and the lights often flicker and the blackouts are getting longer and longer. It's told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl and how she tries to solve this problem for herself, her family, and her city. 

It's easy and a fast read. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot as a child; I did enjoy it now. There are a few things that are rather juvenile in her writing and the plot, but it is juvenile, so it's all good. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the aforementioned books and doesn't consider any reading to be 'below them.'

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Steinbeck: The Under Appreciated Artist

I find John Steinbeck to be one of the most under appreciated artists of his time, often overlooked in favor of Fitz or Hemingway.  Now, it's not so much that I love him, but I revere and respect him. I value his work and his place in my library. However, I'm not super into short stories, and I'm definitely more into East of Eden and Of Mice and Men, but I did still enjoy The Red Pony.

The Red Pony is a compilation of four short stories about a farm boy named Jody and his different experiences of coming to age. He learns of the fallibility of adults as he strives to become a man, and in the end, he finally does. He learned responsibility, how to work, how to be leader, how to take care of others. And the story is complete.

This is accompanied by another short story, entitled Junius Maltby, about a boy named Robbie who is raised unnecessarily (and unknowingly) in poverty by his intellectual of a father. However, the community wants to interfere, for Robbie's sake, and it leads to problems.

I did not find either of these stories particularly interesting, or noteworthy, but I don't feel that my time was wasted by reading them, either.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Heresies of Nature

"Boy, you and Job and Anne Frank . . . Believing despite the evidence"
Margaret Blair Young

This book tells the story of a 'traditional' Utah family in a not-so-traditional situation.  The oldest daughter has left her husband and the mother  is dying from MS. The father and two girls still at home struggle to take care of the mother and continue on with life.  This book is about choices, struggles, faith, finding faith, losing faith, holding on to it despite everything. This book is about your faith being tried, about having hope for the future.  Its about families and relationships. It's about life and its trials. 

I really enjoyed this novel.  It made me cry a lot-- especially at the end. However, right before I loved it, I hated it terrible. I couldn't understand why people would make such choices, how life could be so hard, why anyone would hurt someone else in that way.  But then it ended. And it was beautiful. It gave me hope. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Little House

As you know, I absolutely LOVE Philippa Gregory. She could write just about anything at this point, I'm so hooked.  I've been trying to get my hands on this book for some time, but it was rather hard to find for a reasonable price. So I finally got my hands on this book, and devoured it in three days. 

The Little House is about a woman, Ruth, who, having no family of her own, is completely enveloped by her husband and his parents.  They are very controlling, forcing a move to a house down the lane, and taking over the care of the baby -- who they made Ruth give up her career to have. Ruth never wanted the baby, not now at any rate, and suffers from horrible postpartum.  The novel discusses her journey through her depression, her relationship with her husband, her baby, and her in-laws. And ends with a nice little twist, which I shall not divulge. 

As always, I enjoyed the novel by Gregory, it was the first of her non-historical fictions for me, and I strongly recommend this book, especially to mothers (even though I know nothing about motherhood firsthand). She seems to have quite the grasp on the situation Ruth is dealing with, and presents it in a great way. It is not a light book, but it is easy and enjoyable to read. The characters and the story were easy to relate to, and very realistic. I loved it. Now ya'll go read it!

The Gideon Trilogy

Linda Buckley-Archer

A few months ago, I ran out of books to read. Okay, just kidding. But I wanted to read something light in the form of juvenile or young adult fiction. So I went through Matthew's books and found  The Time Travelers. It's about two kids, city-boy Peter and farm-girl Kate, who accidentally end up in 18th century London. The series continues -- as various problems arise from time travel -- with The Time Thief and Time Quake

Buckley-Archer brings an interesting perspective to time travel, and does it in a manner that does not get two confusing and tangled up, as most do, which is why I generally do not dabble in time travel literature, but she presents it in a clear, understanding manner. There is no traveling to the past or the future and hiding from themselves, no meeting themselves in another age, none of the usual time travel problems found in fiction. Of course, there are problems to the time travel, which is discussed most clearly and efficiently in the third novel, but they are more of the moral and ethical dilemma. 

I really enjoyed this series. It was a light easy read and was perfectly suited to reading over the course of months, whenever I found the time during my busy school schedule. Surprisingly, Matthew never finished the first book, claiming he didn't like it.  Both my mother and I feel that he would have enjoyed it if he had finished. It's promoted as a book for kids who love Harry Potter, and I definitely support that assessment. I highly recommend this series for children of all ages :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


"They're not going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?"
"Who else would go?"

Basically, this book is about how war sucks. I didn't really enjoy it that much.  It brings many different thought and moral dilemmas to light, but I didn't find it to be written all that clearly. 

Interesting to note, Catch-22 was not the original title, which leads me to believe that the book came before the saying. But Hugh Nibley said it was the most accurate war book he'd ever read, so that must be true!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Wedding in December

Anita Shreve

I read A Wedding in December last weekend.  It was a nice light read, what one might categorize as a beach or vacation book. I like to switch up reading heavy books and light books, and I knew this would be light from the get go, so I enjoyed it. It was a reunion-style book, high school friends meeting up after some 20 odd years for the wedding of two classmates who had been high school sweethearts.  And, of course, there is the secret. They allude to the secret multiple times throughout the course of the story, culminating with different degrees of the secret being revealed after the wedding -- which is kind of a let down -- and then the book ends.  It kind of bothered me that this book had no denouement.  I sort of think that was Shreve's purpose, to leave it open to interpretation, and to encourage the reader to evaluate their missed opportunities, their missed stories. 

Overall, this was a form book. But it was a nice distraction, and a light, easy read --especially if you have a high school reunion coming up, a secret, and lost lover with whom you'd like to reconnect.