Thursday, May 19, 2011


I know it's been a bit over a month since the last time I did a review.  A new one is coming, but finals and moving made life absolutely crazy. Once I'm settled into my new house, things will be back on schedule.  In the mean time, here are some suggestions for awesome reading from my personal library:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian interweaves the history and folklore of Vlad Ţepeş, a 15th-century prince of Wallachia known as "Vlad the Impaler", and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula together with the story of Paul, a professor; his 16-year-old daughter; and their quest for Vlad's tomb. The novel ties together three separate narratives using letters and oral accounts: that of Paul's mentor in the 1930s, that of Paul in the 1950s, and that of the narrator herself in the 1970s. The tale is told primarily from the perspective of Paul's daughter, who is never named.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not cimmitted, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns a of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.

The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
Reclusive tycoon Sir Oswald Coote and his melancholy wife, Lady Coote, have hit upon the ideal plan to spice up their quiet lives. They'll host a lavish weekend party at Chimneys. their isolated estate, and invite only "bright young things." But the festive mood is clouded by doom. A practical joke involving seven clocks and a sleeping guest has ended in accidental death--and cause for alarm. For the guests may not be all that they appear. And as whispers of a strange club called Seven Dials echo through the halls of Chimneys, all hands will be pointing to murder...

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS LewisThe Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the very few sets of books that should be read at least three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope. This boxed set edition includes all seven volumes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protect--the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world.

That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

A friend recommended this book to me, and at times I almost wish he hadn't. From the minute I started reading it, I didn't want to put it down.  I wanted to skip all of my classes so I could just stay home and read.  I love the mixture of ancient and modern; magic and technology; history and legend.

Another draw to this book is just how real and varied the characters are. I talk about "real" characters a lot, but it's important. Flaws and little personality quirks are what make characters three-dimensional rather than flat and boring.  Michael Scott's characters are anything but flat.  Each of them have different personalities, different things that make them tick.  It's fun reading about characters from mythology acting like normal people, and normal people not acting normal.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has–a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince – and a dangerous new queen. In this masterful novel filled with humour, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.

Although, for me, Fairest wasn't quite as amazing as Ella Enchanted, it was another great example of Gail Carson Levine's uncanny perception.  I loved Aza, both for her virtues and her faults.  Ivi is both hateable and pitiable.  Ijori is another great prince, like Char in Ella Enchanted, and Skulni... Well, he's just a manipulating, evil little pest.  It's a great companion to Ella Enchanted, making many references to that book.  Lucinda, the silly fairy, shares her part in the story, which always brings trouble.

Overall, I really enjoyed Fairest. It was a fun, cute, new take on the classic tale of Snow White.  It definitely falls in my top ten retold fairy tales. 

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