Friday, January 30, 2009

Far World: Water Keep by J Scott Savage

I am so happy I was asked to review this book as part of J. Scott Savage's Blog Tour, an introduction of his imaginative and fascinating new fantasy series. I really think that it takes a genius to create a good fantasy novel because there are so many strange and wonderful new things to write about (how do you keep all that straight?) yet a good fantasy has just the right touch of reality. And I think Savage is quite a genius because, if Water Keep is any indication of the caliber of the rest of the series; we are all in for a treat.
Marcus is a thirteen-year-old boy who lives in a wheelchair and is ostracized because of that and the fact that there is something strange about him. We learn more of that strangeness when Marcus is catapaulted into an entirely different realm, Farworld, without really knowing how that experience occurred. In Farworld, a magical place, he meets Kyja who, unfortunately, has no magical skills. The two are given a daunting quest to save Farworld from the devasting Dark Circle whose power is growing. To do this, they must combine the Elementals --water, land, air and fire. This first book follows them and their companions on a trek to find the water elementals.
I was captivated right from the first by the humor and skill with which Savage weaves his tale. I did make a few comparisons to the Lord of the Ring series because it is a journey to overcome a dark force; but, whatever. I loved LOTR and I love this book. In spite of the slight similarity in the beginning, Water Keep is totally original, brimming over with wonderful characters and delicious villains. (The unmakers were some of the scariest creatures I've ever read about) And the description of the Water Keep itself was breathtaking. Even though this is a fantasy, the emotions and motives were very real. Marcus and Kyja are both superb characters that I look forward to reading more about.
Rating: 5

Posted by Framed at 8:38 PM

Bobbi said...
Great review!
8/27/2008 8:21 AM
Tristi Pinkston said...
I really enjoyed this book as well, and I can't wait for the next one!
8/27/2008 5:52 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
Framed, did you get my e-mail? My box is saying it got returned.
8/27/2008 10:41 PM
Booklogged said...
Glad to hear you liked it, too. I thought it was wonderful.
9/01/2008 2:34 AM
Booklogged said...
Kate is reading it now and really enjoying it. Kris, who doesn't read very much, is on book 2 of the Twilight series. She's having a hard time fitting in college, boyfriend and a book! I'm tickled to see her reading.
9/01/2008 2:36 AM
Rhinoa said...
I have read some great reviews of this recently. Comparing it to LOTR is only another reason to make me want to read it!
9/01/2008 2:37 AM
Heather B. Moore said...
The characters really pulled me in on this book. Loved the whole story. My 11-year declared it's her new favorite book.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Decades - 1930
Herd Cats Challenge
Somehow I thought this would be a folksy tale set in the rural South with soft humor, bucolic characters and a nice message. Why? Who knows? It was recommended by Oprah so that should have warned me. You can imagine my surprise when the story opens with a pampered young lady in London whose parents have just died leaving her a paltry sum of 100 £ a year to live on.
From Library Journal
"In Gibbons's classic tale, first published in 1932, a resourceful young heroine finds herself in the gloomy, overwrought world of a Hardy or Bronte novel and proceeds to organize everyone out of their romantic tragedies into the pleasures of normal life. Flora Poste, orphaned at 19, chooses to live with relatives at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex, where cows are named Feckless, Aimless, Pointless, and Graceless, and the proprietors, the dour Starkadder family, are tyrannized by Flora's mysterious aunt, who controls the household from a locked room. Flora's confident and clever management of an alarming cast of eccentrics is only half the pleasure of this novel. The other half is Gibbons's wicked sendup of romantic cliches, from the mad woman in the attic to the druidical peasants with their West Country accents and mystical herbs."
The back cover touts this as "very probably the funniest book ever written . . . a brilliant novel along classic lines." I really had a difficult time with this book. It's a satire so I probably just didn't understand the references. Plus, there were no characters that I really cared about. I found Flora arrogant and supercilious; and her relatives were caricatures of English peasants with really odd ways. But I persevered, and about halfway through I began to enjoy it. Even though I don't care for busybodies, Flora has an amazing confidence and foreknowledge of the outcome of her plans. She becomes easier to like as she develops warm feeling for her hayseed relatives. The humor was pretty broad but toward the end, I started to be more amused. And the ending is quite charming. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years so I'm glad to have finally read it.
Rating: 3.5

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil e. Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg

Decades 1960
To Be Read
Young Adult
Book Awards

Mrs. Frankweiler writes a letter to her attorney explaining why she is changing her will. In the letter is the story of two extraordinary children and their great adventure: 12-year-old Claudia feels she is under appreciated and decides to run away. She quickly gets caught up in the planning and involves her younger brother, Jamie. Claudia is an organizational genius and Jamie is a future banker with his careful spending and saving habits. The two spend a week in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sitting in on field trips and roaming around the museum and city. They discover a mystery which eventually leads to Mrs. Frankweiler, a very rich elderly lady. It's a wonderful story with two fantastic characters in Jamie and Claudia. In some ways, they are not typical at all, but in so many others, they act just like any other brother and sister. I especially enjoyed Mrs. Frankweiler's asides to the attorney as she tells the story.
Decades: The book was published in the 60's. That is very evident when the paid discuss their finances. They certainly wouldn't survive for a week on $24.00 in this day and age.
To Be Read: I first read about this book on Booklogged's site more than two years ago. It was one of the first books I added to my newly created TBR list which has since mushroomed.
Young Adult: Amazon puts the age group for this book at 9 to 12, but older teens and other readers will enjoy it also.
Book Awards: Konigsburg won the 1967 Newbery Award for Files and it is certainly well deserved. If I had read the book when I was young, I would have loved it.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 9:44 PM

Carrie K. said...
This was one of my all-time favorites growing up! I must have read it 5 times. I read it to my daughter a couple of years ago, and she loved it, too.
8/23/2008 1:22 AM
Carrie said...
I just read it recently and loved it! It's very fun.
8/23/2008 9:17 AM
Charley said...
I haven't read this, but I've heard the title so many times. I hope to read it soon.
8/24/2008 1:33 PM
Jena said...
This was a favorite for teachers to read to us when I was in elementary school, and it was fun, but I wouldn't have chosen to read it beyond my 11th birthday--I was on to "bigger and better" books by then. (What a pretentious snob I was--in some ways, worse than I am now.)
8/24/2008 2:43 PM
SuziQoregon said...
I reread this one a few months ago for the Heart of a Child Challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it all over again. Still one of my all time favorites.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

August 21, 2008

19th Century AuthorsI have finally finished the entire Jane Austen canon. Even though I watched the Emma Thompson movie version, I had never read the book; a serious lapse, I know. The movie version did affect my reading as I always pictured Emma Thompson as Elinor and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon. That's not a bad thing as they are both excellent actors, but even so . . . I prefer to be a little fresher. Mainly the story is about two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, (love that name) who are beautiful but poor. Poverty seriously dampers their marriage aspects in a society which constantly talks about how much income a person has as the main criteria for marriage. Both are in love but there are heartaches and complications. In a society with such a regimented social culture, Elinor plays the game with skill and finesse, but the reader is able to know her true thoughts about the people she is so polite too. On the other hand, Marianne very seldom plays the game. She is much more selfish and self-centered. Obviously, I liked Elinor better and found Marianne's histrionics tiresome. This book was Austen's first and my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book but Persuasion remains my favorite. Rated: 4
Posted by Framed at 7:55 PM

Carrie K. said...
Persuasion is my favorite Austen, too. Northanger Abbey is my least fave.
8/22/2008 12:13 AM
Charley said...
I've been meaning to read more Jane Austen for a while now (I've read only Emma), so perhaps I'll have to move Persuasion up on my list.
8/22/2008 12:37 AM
Tracee said...
Love your blog and blog name. I couldn't find an email for you, but wanted to see if you might be interested in reviewing books for me? If so, please email me at amateurdelivre at gmail dot com. Hope to hear from you soon and happy reading!Tracee
8/22/2008 6:07 AM
Stephanie said...
I'm so sadly read these days. Persuasion is actually my only Austen. That being said, I really loved it!! I've got to read more though. I feel like such a heathen!

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

August 14, 2008
Wow, this book is huge. Why is it, that each succeeding book in a series has to get bigger and bigger? So I was unable to read this book in two days like the previous books, but I still enjoyed it even if Twilight remains my favorite. Even though the book is 754 pages long, Meyer manages to pack so many twist and turns into it. I didn't even try to guess how she was going to resolve the "will she or won't she?" dilemna. With so many additions to the plot that I could never have imagined, the book was very fun to read. There was the inevitable showdown with the Voturi that I never imagined how it would be resolved. I always knew Jacob would imprint but was shocked by who. It was good to finally see Bella happy. She is so much better to read about when she isn't whining. As always, I would like to hear more about Edward, but I think Meyer overdid the allusions to Bella and Edward's intimacy. Enough, already! I liked the introduction of so many different vampires with their special talents, but felt vampirism was glorified way too much. I found that a little creepy. Bottom line: The characters were well-written, believable and fun even if the book got a little crowded towards the end. There were some great surprises that kept me interested. I had issues with a few thing but overall, it was a great escape for a few days. And I will definitely want to read the book written from Edward's view.
Rating: 4.25
I hope this review didn't contain spoilers that will ruin it for any one. I tried really hard not to say too much.
Posted by Framed at 7:24 PM

Jena said...
*spoiler comment* You were surprised by Jacob's imprinting? I hate trying to guess ahead, but as soon as it was clear Bella was pregnant, I knew what was coming. (I was actually still rooting for Jacob to beat out Edward in the end, for Bella to choose life instead of vampirism, even though I knew it wouldn't happen--I like the underdogs.) I was less than impressed, but I'm glad you found it to be a nice escape.
8/14/2008 9:57 PM
Rhinoa said...
*spoiler comment* I though Jacob was going to end up imprinting with Leah for a little while. I really liked this book and thought she ended the series will. Looking forward to the film coming out.
8/15/2008 3:28 AM
Stephanie said...
Good review - I pretty much felt the same exact way you did. Twilight is still my favorite, but this had just enough twists and turns that I found it entertaining!
8/15/2008 6:45 AM
Carrie K. said...
Good review! And I think my favorite is still Eclipse.
8/15/2008 5:39 PM
Cassie said...
Oh, you are such a prude sometimes. (: I actually wanted a little more when it came to Bella and Edward's wedding night. Nothing pornographic, I just think it would have been interesting to know how Edward was feeling as he was trying not to kill her. I understand why she held back though.
8/18/2008 1:44 PM
Framed said...
Cassie, maybe Edward will be a little more forthcoming on his admirable restraint.
8/18/2008 8:20 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
Good point -- when the book is written from E's POV, we'll probably hear all kinds of things :)I haven't read this one yet. I don't know why -- I raced out to get the last one as soon as it was out. This one, not so much.

Niagara, A History of the Falls by Pierre Berton

August 10, 2008
Canadian Challenge II
Back to History
Pierre Berton's epic about one of the great wonders of the world is superbly researched and wonderfully written. From the time of its discovery by white explorers (obviously, Native Americans would be the original discoverers) until the present, the falls have been the center of excitement, exploitation, modern innovation and high theatrics. The cast of characters is huge. Some were selfish and used the Falls for their own gain by taking advantage of tourists. Others ruined the natural beauty of the area in order to provide cheap power for the proliferation of factories in the name of progress. Then there were those who sought to preserve the falls and its environs. Berton also describes the exploits of thrill seekers and dare devils who went over the Falls in barrels or cross the river on tightwires. I found the opening section about how the Falls were formed thousands of years ago very interesting. The chapter about the Love Canal catastrophe was very eye-opening. I must have been in a fog when all that was taking place. I found Berton's treatment to be quite objective, only leaning toward the Canadian advantage slightly, which could be justified. This is a large book, 449 pages, which, while I enjoyed learning about the Falls, I won't be reading again.
Rating: 4.25
Picture taken by
Posted by Framed at 6:20 PM

Bobbi said...
Nice review! I've been to Niagra Falls only once, and I visited from the Canadian side - beautiful!
8/10/2008 8:10 PM
Nicola said...
I read this once a long time ago when it first came out. But now that I live here in The Falls, Canada, I've been wanting to re-read it. Great review!
8/11/2008 10:11 AM
Booklogged said...
I saw the falls from the Canadian side, too and it was spectacular. I think I'd enjoy reading this.
8/11/2008 9:28 PM
Trish said...
The falls are so beautiful (yes yes the Canadian side). We'll be in Ontario in a week so hopefully we'll be able to make a trip (about 2 hours) to see them again.
8/12/2008 6:32 PM
Bookfool said...
I've been to the falls twice, both from the Canadian side. It wasn't until we visited that I realized that Love Canal was in the area. Great review! 449 pages sounds like a bit much, but it still sounds like a terrific read.

The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

August 3, 2008
Decades Challenge - 1970
Young Adult Challenge
Book Awards Challenge - Christopher Medal
When I read The Egypt Game, I knew I wanted to read more books by Snyder. She writes wonderful young adult books without talking down to the reader. I liked The Changeling even more than Egypt. The book follows Martha Abbott from the age of six when she is a over-weight, withdrawn, and scared six-year-old until she is sixteen. Along the way, Martha develops a close friendship with Ivy Carson, another social outcast. Martha is an outcast because of her personality and Ivy because of her family's rough reputation and low economic status and her confident individuality. They cement their friendship by playing imaginative games that Ivy usually instigates. Through the years, Martha finds herself crying less, becoming more active and more confident. The lessons about being yourself and being true to your family and friends are not subtle, but presented as a natural progression of the story. It's a wonderful book, well-written and both Martha and Ivy are outstanding characters. I especially liked Martha's brother, Tom, who is handsome and popular, and a really good kid. Excellent reading.
Rating: 4.75
Posted by Framed at 9:34 PM

Stephanie said...
Oh...this sounds really good! A definite must when I go to the library! A 4.75...that's pretty good!
8/09/2008 11:14 AM
Rhinoa said...
Sounds like a fun and interesting book. Thanks for the review as I had never heard of it or the author!
8/10/2008 4:28 AM
Charley said...
This sounds good. I work at a children's bookshop, so I'm always looking for new books for young readers. Thanks for this review.