Sunday, August 17, 2008

Out of Jerusalem by H B Moore, Books Two and Three

Friday, April 18, 2008

Book Two
A Light in the Wilderness
This book gives a possible explanation for why Lehi's troupe wandered for eight years in the wilderness before finding Bountiful. Because of Moore's experience in the Middle East and her research, she is able to create a story that makes sense based on the cultures and landscape of the southwestern portion of the Arabian peninsula. I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first because most of this story is not included in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon mentions the travails of the group's journey, the birth of children and the constant rebellion of the two older brothers. Moore fills in that outline with some wonderful conjecture such as the enslavement of the party for five years, Sam almost being captured by cannibals, and Laman and Lemuel leaving the group including their wives and children to become marauders. Along the way, Ismael dies and we witness the grief of his wife and daughters. Even though this book is definitely fiction and not to be taken as scripture, Moore gives the reader an educated glimpse into how life was lived in that time and also captures real emotions and feelings that make the story come alive.
Rating: 4.5
Book Three
Towards the Promised Land
Anyone who has read the Book of Mormon knows the famous story of Nephi's determination to obey the Lord and build a ship. I found Moore's description of that process as well as life in Bountiful to be believable and fascinating. Modern research have found many facts that corrobate the original story, such as the iron deposits located in the mountains north of a place that could very well have been Bountiful. Again, Laman and Lemuel rebel, are rebuked and then fall in line. Each time, the family rejoices as they become humble and righteous; but still wary of a possible return to the dark side. The description of the ship building and life on the boat as they venture out on the unknown waters really helped me to picture those events in my mind. There are some side stories of various members of the family that Moore has created to push the story along. These people are portrayed as very human with real emotions that are not black and white. Even Nephi is shown to struggle with anger, doubts (not in the Lord but about his family and himself), and frustrations. I was very moved by the description of Sariah's grief at the rebellion of Laman as she remembers him as her cherubic little boy. What mother couldn't identify with that.
Rating: 4.5
Posted by Framed at 8:23 PM

Booklogged said...
Sounds like interesting books. I wonder if Candleman would enjoy these.
4/19/2008 1:40 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
I also really enjoyed these books.
4/20/2008 11:56 PM
Heather B. Moore said...
Thanks for reviewing my books. I hope you'll like #4 just as much. I should thank your mom too, for buying them for you :) I think I'm going to be hooked on this blog now, since I love reading and I'm always looking for the next great book.

The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Listened to audio book
Mom and I picked this Book on CD from a bunch that Cheya was returning to Susan. I have never read a book by Hillerman so I was curious. Here's the basic story. A man turns up missing just after his 30th birthday when he inherits the family ranch. His wife has an ironclad alibi, and the case is never solved. Eleven years later, a skelton is found on a ledge on the face of a sheer cliff. Yes, it is the missing man and Lieutenant Jim Chee (?) is on the trail to find the real story. There were a few problems I found with this book. First, the narrator would whisper or raise his voice at the appropriate times, but then it was either too soft to hear or too loud. I think better sound editing could have solved this problem. Second, it was never a very gripping story and totally failed in keeping me awake while driving. Maybe if I had read it instead. I did like how the narrator captured the Navajo accent for the native characters, but he didn't do as well with women's voices. I'm not sure if I will read more Hillerman books or not. Any recommendations from the blog world??
Rating: 2.5
Posted by Framed at 4:42 PM

raidergirl3 said...
I've read one or two of Hillerman's books, and liked them. My parent's LOVE them, so much so that they made a point on their retirement trip (like booklogged's, but reverse direction) to go to New Mexico.I think it's a series that people enjoy, and it sounds like a lot of your issues were with the audio details.
4/13/2008 5:26 PM
qugrainne said...
Like many authors who have written a million books, I like the earlier Hillerman books better. The reader surely does have a lot to do with the success of an audio book, I believe. Robert Parker, for instance, has a lot of good mysteries on tape. I really like one of his readers, and don't care for the other, which really (literally) sets the tone of the book for me. It is funny: I need books on tape if I am driving any distance on the highway, or I fall asleep too!

Out of Jerusalem: Of Goodly Parents by H B Moore

Thursday, April 10, 2008

To Be Read
1st in Series
About three years ago, my mother gave me this book for Christmas and then the following two for my birthday. They have languished on the shelves ever since. Maybe I was afraid that it would be too much like the Book of Mormon Movie which I seriously did not like. But in February, I started to read a version of the Book of Mormon that includes commentary and explanations, and thought a fictional version of that part of the Book that gets read the most would be an interesting addition to my studies. And it really was. First of all, Moore writes very well. Second of all, her research is obvious in all the details of how people lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas in 598 BC. I enjoyed learning more about wedding and sacrificial rituals as well as the dangers of traveling in the areas south of Jerusalem. Having grown up on Boof of Mormon stories, there was little surprise in the basics bones of the tale, but plenty of drama and adventure; and Moore manages to flesh out the characters and make them become more real. I enjoyed her take on the marriage of Lehi's sons to Ismael's daughters. Nephi became more human to me without trivializing his divine calling. I could really feel his grief at the vision of the future destruction of his posterity. I'm not sure the book helped me to understand Laman and Lemuel any better than ever, other than the part that tells about brothers killing each other in the Bedouin tribes for supremacy. But I doubt the Bedouins had angelic visits. I know there is a whole doctrinal discussion here but we can pass on that. While I liked the fictional character of Isaabel, and definitely rooted for her and Nephi to end up together (no, this is not in the Book of Mormon, Moore was being very creative), I think I would like to have seen Nephi fall for a less beautiful girl who had a golden spirit. Isaabel had both. It hardly seems fair, does it? But that would not have served some of the plot line that Moore incorporates into the book. I am looking forward to reading the other two novels I have in this series, starting tonight, as a matter of fact.
Rating: 4.5

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

Thursday, April 10, 2008

To Be Read
First in Series
Last year, I read Body Double by Gerritsen, not knowing it was part of a series, and the sixth part at that. The main character in that book was Dr. Maura Isles who I really liked. The Surgeon is the first book in the series (I promptly bought the whole series after reading Body Double) and features Detective Jane Rizzoli. Jane has just been promoted to the homocide sqad and is the only woman. Man, is she prickly, even though she is highly qualified and very good at her job. Where's the self-confidence she must have had to obtain that position? Granted some of the men are Neanderthals, but still. This book was published in 2001. Is the gender crisis still that bad? Anyway, Jane was not very likable and we all know that is a problem for me. However, there is another detective, Thomas Moore, who is part of the investigative team trying to find the killer known as The Surgeon. Thomas is just as good a cop as Jane, but more compassionate, approachable, etc. etc. I did like him. By the end of the book, both Jane and Thomas have committed some mistakes that jeopardize their careers, but everything works out well. Jane even becomes a little less over-bearing and less sensitive to possible slights. I love the way the killer taunts the police and his intended final victim as he leads them through the nose, murder by murder. The murders are chilling and bloody, precise and almost clueless. Almost, otherwise, our intrepid detectives wouldn't be able to detect. What can I say? It will probably never be considered great literature, but sometimes it's just good to read something that send the chills up and down your spine. The best thing is that I have got four more in the series to go. Unless she's written another that I don't know about.
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 9:30 PM

Booklogged said...
Hey, if you get this comment on Th before 11:30 will you call me? Thanks.
4/10/2008 10:45 PM
Nicola said...
I had the same reaction to Jane in this book and enjoyed Thomas as the detective more than her. I was sorry to see him go. But since you've read Body Double you know her character grows a lot from that point.
4/11/2008 7:14 AM
Joy said...
I've read this series out of order, too. I have no idea what I was thinking at the time. I need to go back and fill in. :) I rated this one 4/5 well before blogging.
4/11/2008 9:10 AM
Somer said...
I had someone on Bookcrossing offer to send me this book over a year ago, and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. Hopefully I'll get to it this year - I haven't read a good medical thriller in a long time!
4/11/2008 12:20 PM
twiga92 said...
I think the latest in the series is Vanish. That one was pretty good.

A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Canadian Reading Challenge
This is the first book I have read by Elizabeth Hay and have mixed feelings about it. First of all, she writes beautiful descriptions of the places where the main character, Norma Joyce, lives. The book begins and ends in Saskatchewan. Here is a quote about the prairie in the late 1930's:
"I remember looking around and thinking, I have come to a place beyond beautiful and ugly, a place so new, so empty, so cold that the words beautiful and ugly don't work. People were simple and friendly, but without curiousity. They asked me not a single question about myself. Then one day, years later, a woman came to the door who was from the Royal Society in England. She was collecting wildflowers. And she asked so many questions, I thought, why are you asking all these questions, what business is it of yours? And then I knew that I was a real Canadian."
The story begins with Norma Joyce at the age of nine living with her older sister, Lucinda, father, Ernest, on their farm in the middle of the depression and a drought. Maurice Dove, a student of weather and natural history, enters their lives and captivates both sisters. He is charming, intelligent, handsome, and utterly self-absorbed. "Oh, men with twinkling eyes. You should be strung up at birth." Norma Joyce is pretty self-absorbed herself and totally driven to achieve her own goal which is the affections of Maurice. Nine years later, living in Ottawa, she accomplishes just that which affects the dynamics of all her relationships. She moves to New York City, back to Ottawa the again to NYC, but never escapes her attraction. Much later, she begins to accept the truth of their odd affair. "Seeing the expression in his eyes--welcoming yet complacent--made her realize two things. That he liked having her in love with him, one. And two, that as far as he was concerned it would never go beyond that. Later, she would feel like the pasta salad at every potluck supper. The table would be empty without it, but he had no intention of putting any on his plate." What great imagery. The story ends after Norma Joyce returns to Saskatchewan to revisit her childhood home. It occurs to her that her own unrequited love affair has always been nestled inside the larger one between Saskatchewan and Ontario. Saskatchewan so bitter, tenacious, aware. Ontario so careless and immune. An affair between two landscapes and two histories no less real, and no less ongoing than are certain romances between people."
This is not a happy story. The characters, especially Norma Joyce and Maurice, are well-drawn and interesting, but not particularly likeable. That always makes it hard for me to really enjoy a book. However, Norma Joyce grows on me after she moves to New York away from the corrosive influence of her father and sister who don't even realize their vindictiveness in their judgments against Norma Joyce. Even so, the story drew me in right to the end. There are a few short scenes with some explicit sexual content that I could have done without and it was slow going for me in the beginning. I think a lot of readers would really enjoy this book as I did, but I don't plan on reading it again. I would like to read her book, Late Nights on the Air, if I can ever find a copy of it at a reasonable price.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 4:54 PM

Nicola said...
Thanks for the review framed! I'm going to add this one to my list. My husband is from Sask. and I love reading books set there.
4/06/2008 7:03 PM
Candace E. Salima said...
I really hate stories where the characters don't make me love them. If I can't root for them, I don't want to read it. I think I'll take a pass on this one. Thanks for the review.
4/06/2008 7:06 PM
Booklogged said...
I was surprised to see you rated this a four. Your review didn't sound that positive.
4/07/2008 12:34 AM
Booklogged said...
I forgot to mention how Spring-inspired your blog looks. Were did you find such inspiration? It's as if you have hope that Spring will really show itself.
4/07/2008 12:36 AM
Cassie said...
I love that quote about the pasta salad. That is great.
4/07/2008 9:03 AM
Trish said...
I have a difficult time getting into books when I don't care for the characters. Usually I can find some aspect that I can relate to, but not always. Sounds like an interesting book regardless--thanks for the review!
4/07/2008 8:55 PM
Les said...
I've had this book on a shelf for several years. I'm glad to see you gave it a 4 in spite of some of your misgivings about the characters. I'll have to move it to one of my TBR stacks. Thanks for the lovely review.
4/08/2008 1:53 PM
Framed said...
I guess I forgot to mention that I started to like Norma Joyce more by the end of the book. Still, it is one of those books that I ended up liking in spite of myself.
4/08/2008 9:58 PM
J Scott Savage said...
I'm willing to give an unlikeable character if I can see change/growth coming. But if it's just an unlikable character I usually stop reading pretty quickly.
4/08/2008 10:05 PM
F. Mathew VonStieff said...
hi, Tristie, referred me to you. I was wonering if you would be willing to write a review ona book for me. Let me know I will email you with details. Thanks!Fred
4/09/2008 8:30 PM

The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Twisted Fairy Tales
Once Upon a time Challenge
The Magic Circle is a retelling of the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, as told from the witch's point of view. The Ugly One was a skilled midwife who supported her vey beautiful daughter with her talents. One day a neighbor convinces her to become a healer which involves casting out devils. After nine years, the Ugly One makes a fatal error and the devils are able to posses her and turn her into a witch. In one fell swoop, this woman, who previously worshipped God and did everything in his name, is forced to flee, leave her home and daughter; and hide in an enchanted forest where she can do no harm to human beings. No longer can she pray or care for another person. She becomes a vegetarian to avoid eating flesh and creates a home made from candy. At this point, Hansel and Gretel enter the story, but even this is a twist from the orignal tale. This is quite a short book, 118 pages, but there is quite a story here. I really didn't like it until the last fourth. It was so unfair that the Ugly One could live such a good life and be changed into a witch with one mistake. And this mistake cost her her good deeds, her family, and all human contact. But Napoli ends the book on such an uplifting and hopeful note that it really redeems all the other problems. I love the way she handled the whole Hansel and Gretel encounter. I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 7:16 PM

Jeane said...
Now that one sounds really interesting! I like retold fairy tales that give the usual villan's side of the story (like Wicked did).
4/01/2008 8:02 PM
Booklogged said...
I might identify too much with the Ugly One by the sounds of it. Poor dear. Really it sounds pretty good.
4/01/2008 9:55 PM
Nicola said...
This sounds really interesting! I'll have to look for this one.
4/02/2008 7:27 AM
Cassie said...
That sounds interesting. Hold on to that one for me.
4/02/2008 8:32 AM
Nymeth said...
It's funny, until recently I had not even heard of Napoli, but now I keep coming across reviews like this, that make me want to read all her books.
4/02/2008 1:47 PM
Rhinoa said...
I keep hearing great things about this author and have a couple of her books now put aside to read when I get a chance now. Thanks for the review.
4/02/2008 3:11 PM
Stephanie said...
I have never read a book by Napoli before, but I have a couple of my TBR. This one sounds really good. I have a feeling the Once Upon a Time Challenge is going to play hell on my TBR pile!!
4/02/2008 4:50 PM
simran said...
I totally enjoy these kinds of supernatural, fantastical books. Kindly review a few more of this type. Although I'd highly recommend the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis as a great read for those who want to go into a parallel world. The author's imagination and creativity never cease to amaze me. Although most might think that they are for children.,I think most adults would also enjoy reading them. In fact, Disney is coming up with the latest Narnia movie-Prince Caspian, this May 16th. It promises to be awesome by the looks of the trailor. Catch the trailor here-
4/03/2008 12:48 PM
Carl V. said...
That is fun, telling it from her point of view. Sounds like the book rewards sticking with it and that it has a worthwhile ending. Glad you ended up enjoying it.
4/04/2008 12:30 AM
Rachael said...
What an interesting perspective for a retelling. I enjoyed your review and I'm intrigued enough to read the book. Thanks for the review!
4/04/2008 9:16 AM
Trish said...
Oooh, sounds like a fun read! I love when authors play with perspectives and the "untold" sides of stories. Thanks for the review.
4/06/2008 10:09 AM
DesLily said...
I'm noticing that an awful lot of the books being read this year for Carl's challenge are "retold fairytales".. this seems a little strange to me. I just don't remember hearing of so many as I am this year... glad you enjoyed this one though!!
4/06/2008 12:22 PM
Mo said...
WoW...this sounds like just my kinda thing, and I've never even heard of this author - thanks for the great review, I'll have to check this out! (Luv the new layout here, too, BTW)

Loose Threads by Lorie Ann Grover

Sunday, March 30, 2008

From the inside cover:
"Seventh grader Kay Garber's happy home is made up of four generations of women: Great Gran Eula; Grandma Margie; Kay's mother, Karine; and Kay. But on the evening Grandma Margie tells her family she has lump in her breast, Kay's world is changed forever.
Struggling with issues of popularity in junior high school, trying to understand her too-perfect mother, dealing with her feelings about friends, and coming to terms with Grandma Margie's cancer diagnosis and illness, Kay is awhirl with questions that have no easy answers."
I was trying to find more room on my bookshelf today and thought I would mooch some that I probably would never read. When I came across this one, I opened it up just to glance through it. The story is told completely in poems and I read it in one afternoon. The poetry beautifully conveys the emotions that are raging through Kay's mind as she deals with sickness and loss as well as the usual young teenage problems. Here are some of the passages I marked:
Rules in Junior High
"You are not allowed
to be going out,"
says Mom.
"To be dating,"
says Grandma Margie.
"To be courting,"
says Gran Eula.
What's that?
All I said was
David has
a really nice smile.
And now
no one
is smiling.
It's like my family
is the slice of key lime pie
Gran Eula's stopped eating.
She's the crust.
Mom is the sour, tangy lime filling.
I'm the lime circle slice
splat on top,
and Grandma Margie is the sugar.
The very sweetness that makes us
No more pain for her.
No more tears for her.
No more death
ahead of her.
We are touching.
We are saying
we love each other.
This is all I can see
about it being best.
Maybe someday
I'll figure out more.
But for now
I think I've been given
the grace of faith.

Booklogged said...
What an interesting format. You say you're going to mooch this?
4/01/2008 9:58 PM
Cassie said...
It is an interesting format but I wonder if I would get bored with it after a while.
4/02/2008 8:41 AM
Framed said...
It's too short to get boring.
4/02/2008 8:45 PM

The Roosevelt and the Royals by Will Swift

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Franklin and Eleanor,
The King and Queen of England, and
The Friendship That Changed History

Back to History
Royalty Rules
"Psychologist Swift is an American royal-watcher and contributor to niche publications devoted to monarchical celebrities. Here he assembles meetings that in various permutations occurred among Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Britain's King George VI and consort Queen Elizabeth, and ancillary members of the four principals' siblings and progeny. He covers a century of chronology, beginning with the youthful Franklin's encounters with British blue bloods and ending with a 2002 trip by Prince Andrew to Roosevelt's Hyde Park home. Prince Andrew went there to commemorate the central event of Swift's compendium, George VI's 1939 visit to the U.S., the public relations highlight of which was Their Majesties' (as Swift loyally denominates his subjects) plebeian consumption of hot dogs. Swift's rendition of that trip captures all details of protocol, whether trumpeted in the press at the time or committed to a diary, and characterizes his presentation of subsequent royal-Roosevelt meet-ups during World War II and afterward. Historical minutiae much of it may be, but Swift's work strikes an undeniably popular chord of interest." Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
The above review pretty much sums up what this book is all about. I felt Swift was overstating the case that the friendship (started over a five-day visit) between the Roosevelts and the Royals changed the course of WWII. It seems like Roosevelt couldn't get Congress to help Britain after the Royals' famous visit to the U.S. in 1939 any better than before. Hitler's mad grab for more territory across Europe is what got things rolling. And the two couples exchanged letters and telegrams, but still . . . There was some fascinating historical tidbits, wonderful details about how royalty really lives, and too many details of FDR's affairs and Eleanor's possible lesbian relationships. The Roosevelts had a truly bizarre relationship and still accomplished some great things in their lifetimes. More inspiring was the relationship between the King and Queen and their subjects. Queen Elizabeth truly deserved her spot as one of England's best-loved figures. Reading about King Edward VII's abdication and how Princess Margaret's relationship with a divorced man was thwarted seems quite humorous when the current heir to the throne not only married a divorced woman but is divorced himself. This book was an interesting look into an past era, no real depth, but I still learned some new things.
Rated: 3.5

The Magician's Nephew by C S Lewis

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Young Adult Challenge
First in Series Challenge
Once Upon a Time Challenge
The Magician's Nephew is the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The story begins with Polly and Diggory, two young children who decide to explore the attic above the row houses where they live. Unfortunately, they miscalculate where they are and enter the room of Diggory's uncle Andrew. Andrew sends the two into the Woods Between the Worlds. Eventually they enter a world just in time to witness the birth of the world of Narnia. At this point, Lewis draws a strong parallel to the creation story in the Bible, with a magic apple, evil wafting on the edge of the world, and a couple to create family of man. It's a wonderful story, highly imaginative and fun to read. I look forward to reading the rest of the series although it won't be any time soon. Here's a few quotes that I marked:
"For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are."
"Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed."
"He thinks great folly, child," said Aslan. "This world is bursting with life for these few days because the song with which I called it into life still hangs in the air and rumbles in the ground. It will not be so for long. But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh Adam's sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!"
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 9:51 PM

Maw Books said...
I have not read a single C.S. Lewis book. I've meant to remedy that situation for years but have never managed to get around to it! The Chronicles of Narnia would be the first book of his I would choose.
3/27/2008 11:50 PM
Jeane said...
I really love this story. Especially the delightful, stubborn personalities of the children!
3/28/2008 9:21 AM
Booklogged said...
I loved this one. I marked the one about making yourself stupider. Very funny and so true!
3/28/2008 7:22 PM
writer2b said...
I love this story. When I was younger I couldn't seem to be able to get through 'Lion, Witch & Wardrobe,' even though I had a friend telling me how great it was. Then I tried this one, and it was like the fuse that sent me blasting through the whole series. I loved it.
3/29/2008 4:52 AM
Sherry said...
I have a daughter who could use the wisdom contained in the "stupider" quotation. Now If I can just figure out how to get it around her defenses . . .
3/29/2008 9:34 AM
Carl V. said...
Love that first quote. This is one of my favorites of the series and would probably be the first I would choose to reread if I had a hankerin' for Narnia. Glad you enjoyed it.
3/31/2008 10:43 AM
Trish said...
Now, i wonder why Disney decided to do the film LWW first rather than this? Do you know the history of the order? I've been meaning to pick these books up for a long time--glad you enjoyed this one.
3/31/2008 11:10 AM
Trish said...
Now, i wonder why Disney decided to do the film LWW first rather than this? Do you know the history of the order? I've been meaning to pick these books up for a long time--glad you enjoyed this one.
3/31/2008 11:10 AM
Rhinoa said...
This is one of my two favourites in the sreries (I love The Silver Chair too) and it always seems to be neglected along with A Horse and His Boy. This sets up the whole series so well though, it's a wonderful book and I am happy you enjoyed it so much.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Decades (1910's)
What's in a Name (First Name)
Book Around the States (Nebraska)
To Be Read
Decades: This book was one the really made a name for Cather when it was published in 1918, as she focused her talents on a place and people that she was so familiar with. Her book on the immigrants who settled the vast plains on Nebraska helped change Americans' taste for reading about the people who formed the backbone of the country.
What's in a Name: Jim Burden, the narrator of the story, first meets Antonia on the train moving toward Black Hawk, Nebraska. He is ten and Antonia is fourteen. Jim is an orphan joinging his grandparents; and Antonia is coming from Bohemia with her family. Jim tells the story of the settling of Nebraska while following the life of Antonia.
Book Around the States: Cather describes life in Nebraska beautifully as well as the rolling plains, the harsh climate, and the prairie grass. She really makes the land a main character of the book and you feel a part of the terrain.
To Be Read: I'm not sure how this book got on my list or on my shelves, but I really felt I should read a book or two by Willa Cather. Now I have read two and there's a couple more that I want to read. There is nothng earth-shattering about this story, but it has a quiet calm that reaches out to you and pulls you into the lives of the characters. Antonia is a very compelling, strong woman who makes mistakes as she grows up; but remains a portrait of the American woman. I love the way Jim tells the story as a young boy and how his narration changes as he matures.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 9:58 PM

Les said...
This was the first book by Cather I read and I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptive prose, particularly that of the Nebraska landscape. I read it for a Great Plains Lit. class, so I think I appreciated it even more than I would have had I read it on my own. I learned a lot about Cather and went on to read several more of her novels (Death Comes for the Archbishop is one of my favorites; Song of the Lark not so much). I even spent a weekend at a Cather Conference in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Pretty neat to see where she lived and set her characters!
3/22/2008 6:23 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I have this Cather with me for very long. Never got around reading it. Must do so soon after reading your review!
3/22/2008 11:11 AM
Nicola said...
I haven't read any Cather yet, though I've always wanted to. Must get around to it soon. Thanks for the review!
3/22/2008 2:00 PM
Jeane said...
I've never read any Willa Cather either, tho I've been very familiar with the title. I really do want to read it now. Thanks for the review!
3/22/2008 2:33 PM
pussreboots said...
Interesting review. I'm also reading My Antonia for the Decades Challenge. Happy reading!
3/22/2008 9:39 PM
Maw Books said...
I read this book in high school and must admit that I can't remember anything about it. I probably should go back and read it again at some point.
3/23/2008 9:01 PM
Booklogged said...
Somewhere along the line I was turned off to Willa Cather. Probably 7th or 8th grade English class in Lincoln. Since then I've read a couple of hers that I've really liked: Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadow on the Rocks. I don't have a 1910 book for the Decade Challenge so maybe I'll read this one.
3/23/2008 10:28 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
I didn't care for Death/Archbishop, but I really enjoyed "O, Pioneers." That's my favorite Cather. I did also really like "The Song of the Lark." I guess I'm exactly opposite from Les. :)
3/30/2008 12:17 AM
Trish said...
I really like how you've formatted this review based on the challenges it fits--interesting concept. I don't think I've read this one, but I remember reading O, Pioneers years ago.
3/31/2008 11:12 AM
Trish said...
I really like how you've formatted this review based on the challenges it fits--interesting concept. I don't think I've read this one, but I remember reading O, Pioneers years ago.
3/31/2008 11:12 AM

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Twisted Fairy Tales
As the cover proclaims, this story is truly "part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink." Readers first meet Chris when he is a strong-willed, clever child of six. He has run away from home, determined to live on his own in the forest. Edric, a troll, finds him and gives him shelter but cannot make him go back home, and Chris grows up with Edric and his dogs as his family, guided by an etiquette book found in the forest and Edric's own wisdom. As the boy grows, he continues his interest in inventing and watches the princess in the castle across the river. She is headstrong but lonely, and when Chris contacts her by carrier pigeon (or p-mail), they become best friends. When he takes work at the castle, there is no way that Chris, a commoner, can tell Marigold who he is, and he can only stand by as she is to be married to an unsuitable suitor. When he learns that her life is in danger, he must find a way to save her and the kingdom. This complex, fast-paced plot, a mixture of fantasy, romance, comedy, and coming-of-age novel, succeeds because these characters are compelling, well developed, and sympathetic. Quirky personalities and comic subplots give the story additional texture. Readers will be drawn into this world be satisfied by the denouement. This blend of genres will appeal to a wide range of readers, and it's all great fun.
Shara Alpern, The Free Library of Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I usually write my own reviews but this one explained this hard-to-explain book better than I could. I found this book to be very funny. Ed, Christian and Marigold all enjoy reading Greek myths: "Nothing like a little fratricide, patricide, matricide, and infanticide to send a fellow off to sleep." Ed the troll is probably the funniest with the way he mixes his adages: "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the eager beaver." And I love this explantion for the use of carrier pigeons: It's what carrier pigeons were meant for -- and if the technology existed, he was a fool not to use it. How much harder communication had been before p-mail." All in all, this is really a fun book to read with interesting characters, humor and intrigue. The ending was very predictable and a little flat, but still an enjoyable read. There is a sequel coming out in May that I will be looking forward to.
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 11:41 AM

Stephanie said...
I love that book cover and will take a look for this book - it sounds like a really nice read.
3/16/2008 1:19 PM
Booklogged said...
Sounds like a fun book.
3/16/2008 6:24 PM
Câmera Digital said...
Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Câmera Digital, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Back to History
To Be Read
Back to History: In 1854, a Cheyenne chief asks the US Government to send 1000 white women to the Cheyenne nation to marry into the tribes and help the assimilation process through the children they would bear. The notion is soundly ridiculed and rejected. In this novel, Fergus takes a "what if" stance and explores the story that may have occurred if the government secretly goes along with the proposal. As historical fiction, this book provided some great details into the social mores of the 1870's with regards to women and Native Americans. I believe Fergus did extensive research into both the lives of US Army on the frontier and the Cheyenne people, which was really interesting. The main character, May Dodd, seemed far-fetched and way too progressive for a woman in that era.
Numbers: I bought this novel quite some time ago because of its intriguing title. I didn't realize at the time that the 1000 women were being sent to the Cheyenne; I thought they were going to be wives for settlers. But the contrast between the two cultures was much more exciting. Although, the government promises to send 1000 women, only forty actually make the journey before promises are broken along with land treaties. This book really is quite damning for the blight on American history that involves the treatment of the Native Americans.
To Be Read: This book really has been on the shelf for a while. My interest just would wax and wane. Unfortunately, the promise of the title and blurbs I had read did not prepare me for the explicit nature of the early portions of the book. May Dodd has been declared insane because of her promiscuous nature (she bore two children out of wedlock). She jumps at the chance of freedom from a mental institution by spending two years as a Cheyenne wife when she could then return to Chicago to be with her children again. This book seemed determined to present just how passionate May's nature was and I found those sections could have been hugely toned down and not detracted from the story. I would have liked it better. In fact, I almost set it aside. However, the book picks up when it concentrates more on the life in the Cheyenne community and how it is affected by the white people. There are some stereotypes of the wicked minister; degenerate savages; noble savages; judgmental, snooty white women; bad woman with a heart of gold, etc. Eventually you come to see that most of the characters are neither bad nor good; there are elements of both. However, I just couldn't really care about most of them, which is always a serious defect for me as a reader. This book was not a waste of time as it opened my eyes to some great history and gave me something to think about; but I can't recommend it very highly and don't plan on reading it again.
Rating: 2.5
Posted by Framed at 9:48 PM

Joy said...
What a bummer. This was one of my Best Reads of 2004; I really enjoyed it. I hope your next one is a success. :)
3/14/2008 5:20 AM
Stephanie said...
Ha, I could have written that review myself! I too read it, found the first part of the book boring and the sex scenes just to over-the-top. In the end it made for a great discussion for my book club, but I wouldn't recommend it.
3/14/2008 7:10 AM
Jeane said...
Too bad. It sounds like such a curious book, and good premise. But I think I would get very tired of all the s-x, so I'm glad you warned me; I'm gonna skip it.
3/14/2008 10:31 AM
Tristi Pinkston said...
Hey, Framed,My book is ready and will be in the mail to you soon!
3/14/2008 3:02 PM
writer2b said...
I'm reading 'The Martian Chronicles' right now, which also has women being sent to a "frontier" (Mars). But it's handled differently. Based on your review I won't run out and look for this, but you're right that the title and the premise sound really intriguing. Too bad if it didn't pull it off.
3/15/2008 10:54 AM
SmallWorld said...
I totally agree with your review. I was really disappointed with this book!SmallWorld
3/15/2008 3:45 PM
Booklogged said...
I started reading this for my f2f book club, but life interrupted. I've always thought I'd get back to it, but now I don't think I'll bother.
3/15/2008 9:35 PM
Susan Helene Gottfried said...
I just loved this book; I'm sorry you didn't agree because it's one of my recent favorites.I might have liked The Wild Girl, his second book, even more, though. Ned was a heck of a great character.
3/16/2008 8:29 AM
Les said...
This is one that's been languishing on my shelf for a few years. Now I wonder if I should bother. Seems to have mixed reviews, so who knows. Might be a good book group discussion read, though.
3/17/2008 4:42 PM
Trish said...
I heard about this one a while ago but had forgotten about it until your review. I have a tough time getting into a book when I don't relate to or care about the characters. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Twisted Fairy Tales
Royalty Rules
I truly believe every time I read a book by Shannon Hale, it becomes my favorite Hale book. And this one is no different. The main premise is taken from a little-known Grimm's fairy tale that Hale embellishes and adds to and completely makes her own. Telling the story through the journal entries of a servant girl, Dashti, locked up for seven year in a tower with her shallow and selfish royal mistress, Saren, is an interesting literary device. Of course, the servant is resourceful and brave; refreshingly grateful for the seven-year's supply of food which mean she will not starve. During the course of the two girls' captivity, Dasti meets two completely different men who want to claim the princess for their own. Tegus is young, sensitive and wise while Khasar is one of those deliciously evil, mean villains that you absolutely love to hate. Hale writes just as beautifully in this book as in all her others. Here are a few examples:
"The air is so clear, it shivers," he said. "All the stars are out, everyone, even the babies. It's so bright with stars, the blacks of the sky look a dark, dark, blue."
"I'm in love! My heart's so light it floats and carries me so my feet don't walk. I sing all day and I don't mind the washing, and that's how I know I'm in love. Completely smitten with My Lord that cat." Of course the cat is a gift snuck into the tower by Tegus.
"I thought I knew winter, but from inside this tower I've learned something new--the winter wind has its own voice. Autumn wind has a gusty warmmth to it and a lower tone as though it sings from deep in the belly. The winter wind screeches around the tower, singing the high harmony, its voice sharp with ice.
I never hesitate to recommend Shannon Hale's books because they are so well-written and creative.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 8:32 PM

Maw Books said...
I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Still waiting for Princess Academy. I think I'm close to the top of the list now.
3/12/2008 9:02 PM
Joy said...
Horray! Another great review of Hale! I'm going to get to this one soon.
3/13/2008 6:43 AM
Suey said...
I second everything you say about Shannon Hale, her writing, her books... everything. One of my favorites for sure!
3/13/2008 9:05 AM
Cassie said...
Ooh this sounds so good. I might need to move this to the top of the list even though I've had a hankering to read Austenland again.
3/13/2008 11:06 AM
Nymeth said...
I can't wait to try this author...sounds like a wonderful book!
3/13/2008 2:36 PM
Trish said...
I just read a review of this book (actually, I think it was Maw Books' review). I love fairytales retold!
3/13/2008 5:28 PM
raidergirl3 said...
I can't wait to read something by Hale. I have The Princess Academy and I think I'll read it in the car on the way to visit my sister. I'm excited now after your glowing rec.
3/14/2008 6:25 AM
Stephanie said...
So far I've only read one of Hale's books, but can't wait to start another. Thanks for the recommendation.
3/14/2008 7:12 AM
Nicola said...
Can you believe I haven't ready anything by her yet! This sounds so good, I must read it soon.
3/14/2008 10:28 AM
writer2b said...
I've never read anything by Shannon Hale, but this makes me want to. Thanks.
3/15/2008 10:50 AM
Booklogged said...
I just read this one last month. And, like you, I loved it. I remember those quotes you shared. I'm reading River Secrets right now and one of the characters is Dashi. I had to do a double take because I thought the servant girl was Dashi, too. But no, it was Dashti. Still that's awfully close for two different characters in two different Hale books, isn't it?