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All Book Reviews

Book Review: Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry
Taylor, Mildred D.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Wow. This book was amazing. It was so well-written that I felt like I was there experiencing everything with Cassie. I wonder if I could be as brave as the Logans when faced with bodily harm. The courage of all civil rights activists blows my mind. My mother's family lived in Mississippi in the 1930s and were white. I hope they were sympathetic to the plight of African Americans, and not racists. But in reality, they were likely racists like most other whites during that time. What would I have been like if I was born during that time period? I like to think I'd be sympathetic and would stand up for what's right, but if you're raised with inequality as your reality how do you overcome it? I guess with education and experience and a knowledge of right and wrong, justice and injustice. But still, would I have had the bravery to stand up for what's right if it means physical harm? I hope so. Brilliant book. Perhaps my favorite children's novel of all time.

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind
Camden, Elizabeth
4 stars = Really Good

Reviewed for Bethany House as a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

Mollie Knox never imagined her precise, orderly world would ever shatter, but shatter it did, on a dry day at the beginning of October in 1871 when fire ignited all of the Chicago skyline. Running her father's watch business might have never been something she would have chosen for herself, but she excels at the fine craftsmanship and, better yet, the accounting aspect of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, named after her father's time during the Civil War.
That night, as the fire blazes, Mollie finds herself fleeing for her life with Zack Kazmarek, the attorney for Hartman's, Inc. who purchased the majority of her watches for resale. Yet, despite the upheaval of losing almost everything, Mollie determines to start her life afresh, refusing to wallow in self-pity, she determines to rebuild her father's company, although now she has a little matter of Zack's unexpected adoration for her to contend with.

I'm a romantic in some ways, but not in others. I fear that for me Elizabeth Camden's main mistake was having a hot-headed hero. Don't get me wrong, I sometimes enjoy that type of hero, and I liked Zack very much by the end, but it was a long time in coming. I expected him to be cool and collected, logical, which is the persona he presents to the reader up until we realize he is almost goofy with love over Mollie. Goofiness in the male hero has never entirely been my cup of tea. Especially when halfway through the novel, a second man is introduced, Colonel Lowe, who I liked much more. I didn't buy into the author's storyline for him because it just not seem plausible so a little of the magic for me was lost right there.

However, with that out of the way, apart from the generally overdone romanticism near the first 3rd of the novel, I was quite thoroughly enchanted by Elizabeth Camden's story. She has a charming way with words that really paints a vivid image in the reader's mind of this historic setting and the fire as it destroys Chicago. The imagery is quite breathtaking. I couldn't ask for a better heroine than Mollie, who I respected as a strong woman, and I especially loved the little character of Sophie, the child Mollie and Zack find during the fire and care for until her family finds her. She is such a horrendous brat but only because she has nothing to do, nothing to occupy her time, and I loved Elizabeth Camden's gentle nudge that children need something to occupy them and they must not be too spoiled or it will ruin their character. That's a fantastic message she incorporated and I applaud her for it.

So, overall, a very enjoyable read. I wouldn't mind picking up a few of Camden's other books when I have the time.

Book Review: Out Of Control
Connealy, Mary
2 stars = Meh

I HATE this book. Not the storyline because it's actually rather interesting, but the CHARACTERS. As other reviewers have already stated, it's incredible how Mary Connealy managed to highlight all of these characters flaws while completely ignoring any good points they might have. The character development is limited to stubbornness on the part of both the hero and heroine. He thinks she's stubborn, she thinks he's stubborn. She thinks he's stupid, he thinks she's stupid. Well, guess what, they're both right!

I don't mind flawed characters in Christian fiction. What I mind are those supposed spunky heroines who don't have a lick of good sense and run off into danger at the drop of a hat paying no never-mind whatsoever to their sweetheart's words of advice. That's what I hate and that's what describes uppity Miss Julia Gilliland. The thing is, I believe the author intended us to like Julia. Because she's really a sweet person deep down and cares about others and puts them first. No, she's a bossy brat whose first thought over anything else is geology and fossils, even over her family, the man she supposedly loves, and his family. Even over her own safety! There's a word for her that I'm too polite to mention, but I'm sure you know what it is.

And don't get me started on the supposed hero of this mixed-up historic romance, the dashing and moronic Rafe Kincaid. I disliked him already when he started bossing around a woman he had no right to boss around. He's often thinking about how desperate he is to marry her, and my main question is "Why?!" Just because she's pretty and you've never seen a woman other than your mother? Geez! And when he started throwing out thoughts on "wives obey your husbands" and how much fun it was going to be to teach that to Julia, well, my patience with him just snapped. There's a flip-side to that verse, buster, the one that says "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church." This jerk expects her to obey him and offer nothing in return. I don't have enough fingers to count how many times he kissed her to shut her up because he didn't like what she was saying! How the heck is that the action of a romantic hero? She may not be in the right, but neither is he.
They'll be one heck of a married couple once the smoulder cools down and they can't stand each other.

I know what you're going to say. To each his own, and obviously some people like this book because it's gotten some positive reviews. However, putting aside my annoyance with the lead characters, Mary Connealy's prose is just bad. I've heard she's an excellent author so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that this book is merely a weak link in her genius. But all Julia's eyes do are flash when she's angry, joyful, fearful, excited, dangerous, threatening, etc. And her wild red hair. It's better to not describe your character's physical appearance at all than limit the descriptive to flashing eyes and wild red hair. It's the same with another character, always, always described his wild blue eyes glinting in the sun or in the shadow or in the firelight or in the moonlight or off the freakin' cave wall. All his eyes do is glint! The author forgot that she had already had Rafe answer Julia's question about whether he could draw because Julia asks him the same question a few chapters later. She ends one chapter in Julia's voice with thoughts on her being dragged off by a madman and starts the next chapter with Rafe in fear because his love has been "dragged off by a madman." Wow, who knew their minds were so totally in sync.

The only reason, and it's a slim one, that I'm giving this book 2 stars instead of 1 is because I like the secondary characters of Ethan and Audra. Ethan can be a pain, but at least he's not a demanding, overprotective, bossy jerk like his brother. And Audra is gentile and naturally kind, two traits that are glaringly lacking in Julia. Maybe this means the 2nd book will be better since it's about Ethan, but it may take me awhile, months even, to reach the point where I even want to pick up another one of this author's books. And that's a sorry thing for me to say about anyone because I can forgive bad writing most of the time, but not when it's joined with horrible main characters.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good

I gave this book four stars, not because I got a lot out of the book initially, but because the literary criticism opened my eyes to its attributes. Otherwise, I would have given it three stars. Of course, it is a good book, but I found myself underwhelmed a great part of the time reading it. I liked the prose and its reflection of jazz music but I was confused by the overt racism in the book. Then I read the criticism and realized that the racism came from Tom Buchanan and that he was a white supremacist, a quality aimed at making him unlikeable. The fact that Daisy chose him over Gatsby illustrates her lack of character, which makes Gatsby's obsession with her even more misguided. The excess and the emptiness of Gatsby's lifestyle make this book a cautionary tale that applies even today.

Book Review: Unwind
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

There are no words.
I have never seen a book like this before. It was one of the most amazing books I have ever read.
I've read it 5 times.

Book Review: Now You See Me`
Mason, Jane B.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I loved how it was so mysterious and how there was a mystery behind it! It was one of my favorite "Poison Apple Books" I've read yet!!! :)

Book Review: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Moore, Christopher
4 stars = Really Good

Great book! Very funny to listen to on eAudio. This book is about Joshua, or Christ, from the point of view of his best friend Levi, who is called Biff. Moore did his homework and it's a fun tongue-in-cheek version of the story of Jesus Christ. My only critique is the parts that take place in modern times with Biff and the angel aren't as interesting as the parts that take place during Joshua's life. Still, it's a very funny and clever book.

Book Review: Justice League of America
Fox, Gardner F.
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

My favorite characters are Flash and Green Lantern. This book is a bunch of comics all put into a collectors edition!

Book Review: How to be a Pirate
Cowell, Cressida
4 stars = Really Good

This book is really cool. It is about a Viking boy named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. It always surprises you and is very funny.

Book Review: Every Boy's Got One
Cabot, Meg
1 star = Yuck!

This book was like a Big Mac. You read it and feeling like hurling afterwards. It was a cheap ripoff of Bridget Jones (which I enjoyed), with the diary entries and the antagonism towards the male lead that eventually turns to love. Which means it's an even worse ripoff of Pride and Prejudice. Let me just say that guys do not in general care what kind of shoes a girl is wearing, unless they have a shoe fetish. Also, Wondercat seems 'Cathy' lame. All said, this is a lame lame lame book. Bleck.

Book Review: Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

WHOA!!!! I totally LOVED this book!! I know it was written for someone a little younger than my particular age, but still...I was blown away by the characters and story. One thing that really caught me was that I liked ALL of the characters in this book. That is not something that is like me.
And I liked the MAIN character. Wowza. Great book!

Book Review: City of Bones
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

So good, can't wait for the movie.

Book Review: Pros and Cons
Evanovich, Janet
1 star = Yuck!

I am a fan of Janet's books, I think i have read them all. I was in the waiting list for this book for long time. When i got it, i was surprise by how short it was. After I started reading, i notice that there was not funny smart comments like all Janet's books are usually. It was mostly boring, I did not like the story line and the end was not good, in my opinion. I don't claim to be a book expert, but whoever had read her book will see the huge difference. I hope she comes back with her usual writing.

I love her books.

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

A really engaging book about life on the reservation and what it's like to be Indian. A study of the Indian condition disguised as a teen fiction book. Well told and cleverly illustrated, this book gets two thumbs up.

Book Review: The Unwanted
McMann, Lisa
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

The Unwanteds is the 1st book in an epic series. The story is a genre mix fantasy/dystopian stories. It starts with about twenty thirteen-year-olds condemned to death because they are creative. They are dropped off at the ominous "Death Farm", only to find that they are welcomed into the fantastical land of Artime, where creativity is both a gift and a weapon. I enjoyed spending my time on this awesome book!!

Book Review: I've Got Your Number
Kinsella, Sophie
4 stars = Really Good

This was a great example of chick lit done well. It was charming and engaging with a relatively believable plotline and likable characters. Nothing deep, just good fun.

Book Review: Inferno
Brown, Dan
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

Dan Brown continues to enthrall with this latest mystery adventure tale. This time metaphysics plays second fiddle to pure sleuthing with a modern day scenario of off-balance activists and bio-hazards. This is not a book to read before going to bed!

Book Review: To Know Her by Name
Wick, Lori
3 stars = Pretty Good

I am not done yet and that's why I am renewing it, but so far it is pretty good.

Book Review: Unwritten
Martin, Charles
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

While I've enjoyed his other books (Thunder and Rain, When Crickets Cry, The Mountain Between us), this book blew the rest of them away! By far the best book I've read in the last few years, by anyone. Martin shows the depth of emotion, a mystery with a twist at the end, and a bit of romance all rolled into a book you can't wait to finish, then are eager to start all over again!

Book Review: Wings
Pike, Aprilynne
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

This whole series is simply put... AMAZING!! You just cant help falling in love with both David and Tamani, and you feel like you really are in Laurels shoes! This author did a GREAT job on her books, and the only thing negative I have to say is that the series is over... :( Stephanie Meyer, watch out!!!

Book Review: Monument 14
Laybourne, Emmy
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I loved this book! It had just enough drama that is was never boring, enough action to battle the old romance story cliches, and a plot that sent chills down my spine. I guarantee you will not be able to put this book down.

Book Review: WLI: The War!
Rambeau, Erin
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I read the first book and it was slow, but the second one was fast and fun! I couldn't put it down. I LOVED it! The new characters are funny and creative. I can't wait for book 3 to come out.

Book Review: Waiting for You
Colasanti, Susane
3 stars = Pretty Good

This book is a classic teen novel. If you are single this may be the book for you. :) "Waiting For You" follows the struggles that a 15 year old girl has with her recently broken up family, her sometimes confusing best friend, her struggling (and puzzling) love life, all while conquering her anxiety-turned-depression. The author has vague vocabulary when describing the scenarios, which makes sense for this type of book. However, it didn't help with the "it" factor for this book. The issues that were faced by the characters were very relatable, which made the book bearable. It could definitely be better, but it is a fun book to pass the time away.

Book Review: Boy Meets Girl
Cabot, Meg
2 stars = Meh

Meh. This book isn't worth reviewing. It's very run of the mill chick lit. But I read it, so it didn't completely suck.

Book Review: Far Far Away `
McNeal, Tom
5 stars = Curiosity Mars Rover Awesome!

I loved this book from the opening lines! I enjoyed all of the characters, the mystical elements of the green smoke and the legend of the cake, the twists and turns, and especially the voice of Jacob Grimm. Utterly unique, dark, and yet fun.