englishgeek13

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New Moon

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I definitely prefer this second book in the Twilight series to the first. The first book is focused primarily on a budding romance of the forbidden kind, and this book begins to examine the costs and realities of such a love. Edward's decision based on a difficult but inevitable event is painful and understood, and Bella's physical response was surprisingly well-written and realistic. I was surprised at the emotional response I had to the series of pages that simply have the name of a month to represent the passage of time. A new love/like/friendship interest adds a foil, but anyone with a brain and a heart knows that a romance there would be hollow and lacking. The hurtling pace at the end kept me up late one night to finish, so Meyer, while still not impressing me with her writing style, definitely has a knack for storytelling. I am hooked enough to want to keep reading, but I still doubt that this series will make a permanent home on my bookshelf.
Eclipse

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Another quick read in the Twilight series. I find myself getting tired of all the major drama situations, especially with Bella's life being constantly in danger. Everyone freaks out and then someone has a brilliant plan and you see how it goes. That's basically the pattern for the series thus far in addition to the relationship stuff between Bella, Edward, and Jacob. I do have to say that I appreciated the character development that I saw in Edward in this book. Bella never seems to grow as a character, but in this book we see Edward learning to compromise with his and Bella's desires as well as coming to grips with the full realization of the consequences of his leaving in New Moon. My favorite chapter was the conversation between Jacob and Edward while Bella is in a half-asleep stupor because we finally begin to see the man behind the vampire, and, truth be told, he's a lot more interesting than Bella ever will be. I've heard of a book that gives Edward's perspective on things, and I think I'd be a lot more interested in reading that.
Mine is the Night: A Novel

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I read this book because I got it from the Early Reviewers list. Once again, I was not good about reviewing it right after I read it, so this probably won't be as good as it could have been. I chose this book because I have read another series by the same author with the same intent: to take a well-known story from the Bible and change the setting. I did not read the first book that accompanies this one, but I was still able to follow. I may read it and then reread Mine is the Night to get the full story, but I honestly did not find this book as rewarding as the other series I read. Essentially, this is the rosy follow-up to what I assume was a very tragic first book. The book opens as Elisabeth Kerr and her mother-in-law, Marjory, travel to Marjory's old home to establish themselves in their new lives as widows. Complicating things are strained relationships between Marjory and the town people as well as the fact that both Elisabeth and Marjory lost their husbands supporting a prince in his failed attempt to take the throne. Elisabeth is a strong-willed woman, though, accepting her new rank as a poor widow and staying faithful to her mother-in-law by working as a seamstress for a newcomer to town, Lord Jack. Love ensues for many, as the story is loosely following the story of Ruth.As I suggested earlier, this was not a great book, but it was an okay book. I was honestly a little disturbed by and could not believe that Higgs used the phrase (not exact): "they were older but not dead" when discussing an older couple and their physical desires for one another. Don't ask me why, but that's one of the major things that still sticks with me when I look at and think about this book. I guess it didn't make a huge impact.
Mero Cristianismo

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I absolutely loved this book! Before reading this I'd only read one other nonfiction book of his as well as the Chronicles of Narnia, so I was familiar with him. In this book, Lewis' tone is very conversational and down to earth, the result of part of the book being a transcription of a series of radio addresses Lewis was asked to give in the midst of the disillusion and horror of WWII. I found myself laughing often and really enjoying how simply he states some of the most profound truths of the universe. I was also challenged to open myself even more to the work that the Lord wants to do in my life, even when that means growing pains. Overall I would say that this book serves as a gentle reminder to Believers and as a simple challenge to those that are seeking. This is probably a book that I will read again, and I'll give it more attention than I was able to this time.
Breaking Dawn

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I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this final installment of the Twilight series. I hated the first half of the book. Bella's character really got to me and the chapters from Jacob's perspective seemed to be mostly filler. Throughout the series I kept expecting Meyer's writing style to get better, but with the exception of a few chapters in each book, I was disappointed, and the first half of Breaking Dawn is her worst offense. That being said, the second half of the book is much better, though not in style. There is a complete shift in where I saw the story going, but I didn't feel that Meyer cheated in any way to bring the story to its close. Bella's character finally seems to mature and I wasn't as nearly annoyed as I was in the past to read things from her point of view. I actually felt like I was reading about an adult. I was also finally able to see what some of my friends had talked about in regards to the themes of loyalty, love, sacrifice, etc. These themes had been touched on in the previous books, but this is where they all seemed to converge and really make a point.Overall I can see why the series has been so popular, but I cannot imagine these books being more than a cultural phenomenon. Meyer's style simply will not be able to stand the test of time in a literary sense. If I was still teaching, I would not recommend this series to my students like I would the Harry Potter series or many other more well-written adolescent fiction books.
The Likeness

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First I have to thank my sister for getting this book for me! I first heard about it in, of all places, an issue of Marie Claire when they had a book club section. The premise intrigued me: Cassie Maddox, a detective in the Irish police force, is called one day to a crime scene to see a body, even though she's no longer a part of the murder squad after a rough case. When she arrives, she sees the reason: the victim is identical to her and was using a name that Cassie created during her brief stint as an undercover officer. Soon Cassie is plunged into the world of the dead girl, taking on her identity to try to uncover the murderer. What I loved about this book is that it is not a typical murder mystery but really goes deeper than that as Cassie blurs the line between her life and Lexie's. This is also the first time that I have seen a mystery novel as a real piece of literature. French's style is beautiful and rich and stands apart from a lot of fiction I've read lately (read: Stephanie Meyer). I highly suggest this and might let you borrow my copy if I'm not already rereading it!
The Gift: A Novel

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I received this as an Early Reviewer and wasn't able to review it as soon as I was finished as I couldn't find it to add to my library (may have been an error on my part), so it isn't as fresh. Even though I had not read the first book in this trilogy, I found it pleasantly surprising to find that I could easily follow and get into the story without prior knowledge of the characters or story. Litfin did an excellent job of weaving flashbacks into the storyline. I'm not sure how someone would feel about this who had read the first one, but it helped me. The premise of a post-nuclear world that has lost the Word of God was believable and made for an intriguing setting, especially when the characters come across remnants of the old society. The characters themselves have, to some degree, depth, but I found them rather stereotypical and predicable. Overall I found the story to be enjoyable and involving but lacking in depth, which I usually like to see in Christian fiction. There is a predictable "fall," followed by predictable redemption, while other characters go the way you'd expect. I saw no new revelation of the character of God or connection with any character to challenge me or make me think. I would like to read the first book, though, and will read the third when it comes out so I can see what happens as there is a great adventure.
The Sweetest Thing

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I received this as a member of the Early Reviewers. I found this to be a solid book about life and friendship, loss and healing. At first I had a hard time seeing the main characters, Perri and Dobbs, as girls older than 12. Their behaviors seemed more fitting to younger girls, but eventually I was able to overcome that and see them as young women. I found Musser's style realistic and open, with her characters struggling and reacting in ways that were not necessarily predictable or smoothed over. My only complaint is that there were several subplots, like the stolen items, that could have been left out. I didn't feel that it added a depth to the story and was just something to tie up nicely at the end. I could see Hollywood or some studio taking this and making it into a chick flick, but doing so would, I feel, take a lot of the honesty away if not dealt with properly. As a follower of Christ, I did find some solid lessons that the characters had to learn, like the importance to looking beyond outer appearances (it's more well-written than that!) and how doubt can overshadow our understanding of the truth of God's character. Overall I did enjoy this book and would probably read it again to see if I could find some depth I may have missed. I don't know that I would find any, but I'd be willing to give it a chance.
Green

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I was really disappointed in this book. Dekker has taken the story lines of Black, Red, and White and messed them all up, in my opinion. We're once again plunged into the world of Thomas Hunter and company, but this time some new, diabolical characters have been introduced, much to the detriment of the story, and the same back and forth between "past" and "future" caused the same frustration. In addition to all this, Dekker has added a lot of evil elements that I found rather graphic and over the top: animal sacrifice, vampires, bloodletting and drinking, evil scheming, etc. Afterward I did see that he was showing the difference between the two worlds: in one evil is easily identifiable while not so much in the other, but still, I found myself completely grossed out more often than I would have liked. The book is described as "Book Zero," meaning you can read it before the rest or after, but I think fans should just leave this one alone.
Rooms: A Novel

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I got this from the Early Reviewers a while back and finally got around to reading it, especially because I had gotten a new one. Rooms tells the story of Micah, a man who has it all, or so he thinks. A letter from a mysterious uncle begins to shift his world in a way that will both break him down and rebuild a true life.I really struggled to get through about the first two-thirds of this book. I found it a bit hokey and predictable. I'm not sure if the author had previously read The Shack, as much of his stuff seems to come from its influence. I found The Shack to be much more thought-provoking and touching than Rooms. The author did not try to hold back his personal beliefs in any way, and I found myself struggling at times with the commentary the book seemed to be making about my own walk and relationship with the Lord, not in a positive light. I actually found myself agreeing at some points with The Voice, and needless to say that wasn't a happy revelation. Either way, I'll think through some of it, but I don't see this book making the impact that it really tried hard to bring about.
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