Monday, March 02, 2009

February Book List

15. Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor- (****) Pretty good.  Sequel to The Looking Glass Wars.  Although, much more violent.  One scene in particular which makes me wary of recommending it to younger readers.  Definitely a case of don't judge the book by the cover.  :)

16.  The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket- (*****) I love Lemony Snicket.  Comfort read.  Fast paced, very funny.  Nobody writes like Snicket.  His books are an experience for sure.  I recommend all of the Series of Unfortunate Events.  Some Unsavory and Eccentric Characters and like Snicket himself says "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.  In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle."
17. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis- (*****) EXCELLENT.  Highly recommended for ANYONE.  
18. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket- (*****) More Snicket.  I love Uncle Monty.  I can't decide which Baudelaire is my favorite....

19. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket- (*****)
20.  Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones- (***) Fantasy.  Magic.  Good storyline and plot weaving, but I'm just not used to reading the sort of book where magic happens so often.  The writing gets 5 stars, but I would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who doesn't care for the fantasy genre.  Personally, I found it kind of a "fluff read."

21.  As You Like It by William Shakespeare-(*****) Delightful.  I love Shakespeare.
22.  Spindle's End by Robin McKinley- (**)  A retelling of Sleeping Beauty.  I love Sleeping Beauty, which is why I stuck with this book all the way to the end.  But, I was really disappointed in the ending.  Also, the narration seemed jerky and uneven.  And I felt like I was reading a handbook on how fairies work rather than a story of an exiled princess.  Too much magic.  
22.  A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute- (***) A very haunting beginning.  The first half of the book is completely different from the second half.  Hard to explain...  I did enjoy it, especially the beginning (although enjoy probably isn't the right word, maybe riveted) which is based on true events during World War 2.  Positive themes: The book has some valuable lessons on entrepreneurship, economy, facing hardships, and making something from nothing.  Negative things:  Violence, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse, many tragic deaths (like I said, it's all based on true events, but these are hard things to read about especially for young readers) ALSO, racial slurs, some swearing, and one scene in particular that I would describe as a "fast forward" scene if this was a movie (two characters get passionate, and unfortunately the author does not take Victor Hugo's advice and "draw a curtain over the scene.")  A girl gets pregnant out of wedlock and asks Jean how to get rid of the baby.  Jean replies that she doesn't know but that she doesn't think it's a good things to do.  (She keeps the baby).  
All in all... I would hesitate to recommend the book to just anyone.  For a mature reader who is interested in a heavy read, history and economy I say go for it.  I was especially upset by the racial slurs, since the author never bothers to correct them.  And I wish a certain scene had been left out entirely.  Just my 2 cents.  :)    
23.  The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket- (*****)
24.  The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie- (****) Pretty good. :)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman- (*****) Loved this one.  Some swearing, and violence.  The whole thing about S. Morgenstern cracks me up, since William Goldman makes the whole thing up.  It's funny to read his comments on the "original work" as if there was such a thing.  Lydia and I agree it's some kind of genius.  :)

26.  The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket- (*****)

27.  The Days are Just Packed A Calvin and Hobbes Collection by Bill Watterson- (*****) Funny. :)

28.  The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel- (***) PG-13.  This is a very sweet story about a girl who's life changes completely and her journey through it.  When her father discovers that she is pregnant (not married) he arranges a marriage for her with a farmer and ships her off.  If it weren't for the fact that experience with the soldier who fathers her baby goes into WAY too much detail at one point (maybe cross off a couple of paragraphs and you'd be safe?) I would totally recommend this book to anyone.  Younger readers should ask a parent to cross out the paragraphs I'm talking about.  

29.  Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild - (****) VERY VERY sweet story.  Perfectly appropriate and recommended for pre-teen and young teen girls.  :)

30.  The Ersatz Elevator  by Lemony Snicket- (*****)


Kay said...

I must tell you that if you loved Ms. Creel's book, "The Magic of Ordinary Days", you will adore the Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-TV movie! It was one of the highest rated Hallmark presentations (CBS-January, 2005).

By a stroke of luck, I DVR-d it the night it was shown, and watched it repeatedly until I was able to purchase a DVD.

The movie begins when Livy is sent away--it doesn't go into great detail on the how and why's of her condition as in the book.

The story was exquisitely brought to life by a gifted cast led by Skeet Ulrich (Jericho) and Keri Russell (Felicity).

I cannot recommend this movie enough--an achingly beautiful love story! It's become my favorite movie, and CBS is foolish--it deserves an encore presentation.

Serena said...

Thank you for the review of A Town Like Alice. I've wondered about this book, and now I think I'll put it on my "To Be Read...Someday" list. Your caveats were perfect--detailed, without giving anything away.

And Lemony Snicket--ah, love him! Princess Bride--a crack up! I happened upon that in a bookstore in Arcata, California. I didn't know it was a book before that. Needless to say, I snatched it up and it became a 'souvenir' of my visit!

Rachel said...

I must agree about the Princess Bride. Amazing!! Have to find the book, but I'm content with the movie. "Inconthievable!!"

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