Friday, June 01, 2007

Spring Reading Challenge Book Reviews

Okay, I just realized that I've been incredibly remissed about posting any book reviews for my Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2007. I did review my first three books - The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, The Thirteenth Tale and Outlander (steamy!), but I just never got around to doing any others. So lucky you, you get to have several at one shot.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George - Yes, I read through this mammoth, 939 page, itty-bitty print literature. Since reading The Other Boleyn Girl, I've been fascinated with the life of England's most famous king who was renowned for his destruction of the country's religious belief for the sole purpose of his pursuing another marriage, his many tumultuous marriages, his insatiable lust for money and life and his terror-filled reign due to multiple politically-inspired executions. All I can say is WOW! It was a fantastic work of historical fiction that was readable and entertaining with all its drama and atmosphere. It humanized Henry in a way that I hadn't allowed myself to do before, yet it still made me feel that my convictions about his personality can still hold true. If you're looking for a long, sensational read, I heartily recommend this book.

The Bible by God (Joshua – II Kings) - Actually I'm in I Chronicles now... I am enjoying reading the Bible over and over again, as God is giving me new insights and verses that tug at my heart or quicken my breath. As I want a closer, more personal relationship with God, I know that one of the best ways to cultivate it is to spend more time in his word. If I don't give God my time, I'll never have a great relationship with him. As someone said to me recently, "If you don't spend time with your mate, your relationship will fall apart and die. You've got to give your mate your time and yourself to have a worthwhile, deeply committed relationship. It's the same way with God. If you don't spend time getting to know him and opening yourself to him, you'll never have a great relationship with him." God is definitely blessing me with a better understanding of him and a stronger bond as I find him in his book.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory - I wanted to read this one because I've enjoyed so many other books that she's written, especially the aforementioned The Other Boleyn Girl and the Constant Princess. But all I can say is skip this piece-of-crud-sorry-excuse-of literature. It was awful, repetitive and boring. I felt that this book was written for one of two reasons: to continue her successful run on the women surrounding Henry VIII or to fulfill a contract. It could be both, but I was so disgusted with the outcome, I forced myself to read it. Don't do the same to yourself. I suggest your spending your time in a more worthwhile way, like poking your eyes out with a sharp stick or listening to someone run their nails down a blackboard. Those two activities would be much more satisfying than reading the book.

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver - I've not read a book by Deaver before this one. Well, technically I still haven't since I listened to this book on CD over my weekend getaway. I really liked it. Deaver has a gift with being able to create a mystery which is full of red herrings, twists and turns and a satisfying ending that leaves the reader wanting to read the next book in the series. The characters were unique, the storyline was suspenseful and the mood was eerie, yet inviting. I like that when I was finished, I couldn't help but review the story clicks in my mind. I had all the clues, but I didn't add them up. I was able to figure some things out before hand, but not all of them. That helps to make it a good book to me. I think I'll be pursuing some of Deaver's other books in the future...

Eldest by Christopher Palolini - This book is the second in a trilogy. I really liked Eragon, so I was looking forward to Eldest. I started reading them because my girl was interested and I wanted to be able to have a book discussion with her. Eldest was a really good read, even if I did figure several things out by the end of the first book. The second one just verified what I had thought would happen. That being said, I am looking forward to the last of the trilogy too. It's magical, descriptive, funny and a battle of good vs. evil - the making of a fine series in my opinion, especially if good prevails. I'll have to wait to see what Palolini does with the storyline...

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo - Actually I did review this one, but I'll say a little more. What can I say about DiCamillo? I've enjoyed every book of hers that I've read. She is a wonderful children's author, full of inspiration that encourages her readers to be better, hope more and to love more. I strongly recommend this book as a gift to school age children 3rd to 6th grade.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - Oh what a great story! I can't believe I hadn't read it before as a kid. I loved the movie when I was a youth, and I was pleased to find that the movie followed the plot of the book. The characters were vivid, truthful and likable, the storyline was believable and heartbreaking and the inner emotions of Ponyboy registered as real and honest, especially for a boy who wanted to be loved. This book isn't for young children; but it's perfect for the tweener crowd. It's a harsh look at prejudices, filled with the ugly side of humanity. And yet, it is also sprinkled with moments of hope and goodness and it leaves the reader thinking that good can come out of misery, that everything is not always as it seems.

Now for a couple not on the list:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - What a great classic. I think it quite romantic, with gruff characters, great conversations and a leading character with to-be-admired convictions. Read this one if you haven't already, and if you have, it might be worth your while to read it again. It's that good. (And I appreciated it so much more as an adult than I ever did in my youth.)

Wings of the Dove by Henry James - I thought this piece of literature was a difficult novel, written in a rather pretentious, literary, contrived, and highly wordy style, not particularly enjoyable as a read, but the plot was intriguing. I do admit that I trudged through it (for a book club), trying to get to the end. Having read Portrait of a Lady a few years ago, I forgot how wordy, descriptive and boring James was as a writer, but I still find myself thinking about that novel which tells me that it was a worthwhile read. However, this read was a great reminder that James was an excellent story creator, but not a great story writer. If you're into long winded, never-ending paragraphs that go on for two pages, then this book is for you. Otherwise, I would leave this book for the English majors...

In the Presence of the Enemy by Elizabeth George - This is my third George book and I'm looking forward to my fourth... Great mystery, but if you're going to start on her books, I recommend finding the first one and carrying on from there. Me? I'm all over the place since I didn't start at the beginning. Since it does follow the lives of several character, I'd find the first one and have it.

Okay this is bugging me... I've read a couple of other ones, but I can't think of them. Grrr. Oh well, it will give me something else to blog about when they come to mind.

Have a great weekend!

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