Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

I have very little to say about this book which is why I suggest you read another blogger's succint review with which I wholly agree excepting the slight insults thrown in Twilight's direction. Twilight - I heart you.

Review of Shiver

Does it make me a mediocre reader that I love Twilight so?

My Rating: 5- Pretty good, for the most part.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Appeal, by John Grisham

If you've ever read more than one of John Grisham's books, than you'll know that they're all equally intriguing but they rarely leave a lasting impression [at least for me]. I find that all of his books merge together in my mind to create an cacophony of blended memories that can only be described as a tale of suspense and intrigue in the legal and political realms.

This book, as usual, lived up to my standard's of John Grisham's consistent quality, but is more memorable than his other books I've read. Whether you love John Grisham's works or this is your first introduction, The Appeal will intrigue. My father-in-law, if he hasn't already, would add it to his "John Grisham" bookshelf which houses the abundant works of this capable author.

The Appeal, more so than his other books, caused me to dwell on our justice system and the effect of money politics in it. I was surprised at the ending John Grisham choose for this book (which I won't give away to those of you who haven't read it), but I found I agreed with his fitting conclusion as it caused the reader to analyze our political situation.

As a Political Science major in college, I should be pleased by books that spark a righteous anger at the failings of justice in our system, but I must admit that the more I learn about our methods of governance, both locally, internationally, and historically, the more inept I feel to incite any real change. This disillusionment of my abilities to change the world, as we all long to do when we are in our early twenties, makes me want to crawl into my cacoon of disinformation and ignore the tyranny of money that is like a bomb exploding near the walls of my protected shell.

I find my theory on politics is growing closer to that which I have criticized the American public for on countless occasions - ignorance is bliss. And yet, ignorance does not spur action and the world needs action.

While this book angered my sense of justice, it captured the thing that excites me in a book - the everyday little actions that make the world a better place. Things like the love of a parent towards their child, the love of a pastor for his congregation, and a judge with a passion to see justice and compassion combined.

My rating: 7- Great. This book is worth reading AND recommending.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

1. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (Note to reader: Rated R for graphic violence and sexual content)

2. The Winner, by David Baldacci

3. The Associate, by John Grisham

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks

I adore the inspiration for this love story - Nicholas Sparks, inspired by his grandparents (who he says flirted shamelessly with eachother well into their old age), created a novel about two people whose love for eachother outlasted the murderer of most love stories - time.

I listened to this book on DVD while driving around for work [which was my first experience in audio books and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed] and endangered my fellow drivers by routinely sniffling and crying every time I got in my car. I can only imagine getting pulled over with puffy eyes and explaining that I was driving carelessly because I couldn't stop tearing up at a love story on audiobook - yah, that would go over well.

Despite the countless shed tears during this book, I was not extremely impressed with the writing (which sounds paradoxical, I know). I felt that the book was written at a junior high reading level, but was filled with adult content (including a lengthy sex scene that I skipped over). Without the frequent references to sexual content, I would recommend The Notebook as a captivating love story perfect for junior high students and young adult readers.

However, I feel the writing is too juvenile and "dumbed-down" to recommend to most of my reading friends and is too rife with sexual innuendos to recommend to a younger reader.

I'll simply say that I wouldn't recommend this novel if you are accustomed to a higher quality of literature, but if you are in the mood for a beautiful romance with a tad bit more than appropriate amounts of trashy sexual innuendos (again, the paradox is unusual), then go for it.

Of course, it could be that the sexual references are more notable when listening to them said aloud. I think the innuendos registered as more innappropriate hearing them spoken, instead of simply read.

And yet this whole post is skewed by the fact that I simply liked the movie better, which I find odd as books are usually 100% better than their movie counterparts. I felt the movie did a better job capturing their love for eachother as young people.

However, the one aspect I found the book excelled where the movie lacked, is their relationship as an older couple. It was beautiful to hear Noah's memories about his life with Ally after they were married and had children. This was the part that consistently brought me to tears - hearing the recount of their married life, their feelings and thoughts when they were given Ally's diagnosis, their fight against the disease, and their love for eachother over their lifetime.

My rating of this book: 5- Pretty good, for the most part.

If you liked this book, you might also like:

1. Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers

2. Dear John, by Nicholas Sparks

3. A Walk to Remember, by Nicholas Sparks

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Dragonfly Pool, by Eva Ibbsotson

I'll preface this post by giving the disclaimer that I don't often read children's literature and therefore feel inadequate to review this book.  With that being said, you should also know that I adore Eva Ibbotson's writing and have bulldozed my way through all of her adult literature. She has simply captivated me and is stationed somewhere in my top 20 favorite authors of all time. 

Sadly and unexpectedly, I was sorely bored throughout this entire book. Perhaps it is not a fascinating book, but I can't help thinking that I built up her writing in my mind to such a peak that when I dove into her children's work I expected nothing short of a caliber similar to that of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series.

Perhaps children may find this book compelling, but I am sorry to say that I could hardly muster my way through the book. I'll even admit that I skimmed full chapters towards the end as I just couldn't wait to finish and move on to the next book. 

I'm curious to see whether anyone else had a different and more pleasant experience with this book. I wonder if my expectations were simply too high and therefore my disappointment more acute.

My sad and reluctant review: 3- Bleh. I wouldn't bother, but maybe you have more patience.

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

Oddly enough, I feel as if I've known about this book forever. It seems to have hovered on the edges of my peripheral book vision as a "classic."  As for it's attainment of that status, since my definition of a classic necessitates that the author be buried, cremated, or otherwise deceased, Ender's Game does not fit the bill. Though it may not yet be a classic, it is, in my opinion, only due to the author's continued happy existence in our world.

However, this book is not unlike the classics in which I find I am either delighted or disgusted and rarely anything in between. Initially, I was nervous that I would find this book dull and too far on science side of science-fiction and I delayed picking it up for fear that it would end up in the "disgusted" section of my bookshelf.  Happily, the book meandered merrily into my delighted pile where it will continue to remain.

I feel I could say a great many things about this book and Orson Scott Card's masterful weaving of a fascinating story, but I'll be succint and simply encourage you to pick it up and enjoy the intrigue for yourself.

My rating: 8- Holy Cow! This book rocks my socks off.