Time to do some catching up.

Wow, I haven’t been on in quite a while. I apologize, dear readers. I know you were agonizing. 

Let me update you on what’s been going on, alright? Well, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came to visit for  two weeks. I’m not joking. Then, my husband left for deployment. He is a U.S. Sailor, and he’s brave and wonderful, and I miss him like nuts. So then, I got depressed, and I read an abnormal amount of books. And then my mom came to visit me and that was really fun, and then she left, and then I got depressed again, so I read some more. And now I’m almost to my goal of 40 books by the end of the year, but it’s only September. I guess I read a lot when I get depressed rock at setting goals!

Here are all the books you missed out on while I was away eating too much chocolate and reading too many books (is that even possible?)

Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
The Dragon Reborn, by Robert Jordan
The First Confessor, by Terry Goodkind
Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks
Dead as a Doornail, by Charlaine Harris
Definitely Dead, by Charlaine Harris
All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse, by Charlaine Harris
Dead and Gone, by Charlaine Harris
Dead in the Family, by Charlaine Harris
Debt of Bones, by Terry Goodkind

As you can see, I had a streak of Charlaine Harris. I’m not quite done with The Southern Vampire Mysteries, but I needed a little break from Ms. Stackhouse. I’m currently reading a lovely book called My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, and so far it’s been riveting. I’ll let you know what I think in a full post next time. 

Ta-ta for now! Happy reading, friends.

The Great Hunt

Written by Robert Jordan

Cover of "The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Ti...Series: Book #2 in The Wheel of Time series.

Book #19 in 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
First Edition: 1990
My Edition: e-book
Original Language: English

“The Pattern weaves itself around our necks like halters,” Artur Hawkwing said. “You are here. The banner is here. The weave of this moment is set. We have come to the Horn, but we must follow the banner. And the Dragon.” (Location 14,308)

This book was pretty epic. It had all the good stuff – magic and mythical creatures (ogiers) and internal struggles with destiny. Stories of legend that had fallen to myth became everyday life for some of the characters. Captivity. Evil. Triumph.

I won’t repeat the three main ta’veren characters, but there are a few more who seemed important in this one.

Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Egwene al’Vere, a hard-headed beauty from the same town, the Two Rivers, as the ta’veren. She’s in love with Rand, but seems to think he’s more of a dangerous, “wool-headed idiot” than a man she should marry. She has the ability to Channel the One Power, and is training to become Aes Sedai.

Nynaeve al’Meara
, the bull-headed, angry woman who is the self-appointed leader of herself, Egwene, and Elayne, and anybody from the Two Rivers.  She has a personal vendetta against Moiraine Sedai and others from the White Tower. (She’s just about my least favorite character in the books so far.) She has the ability to Channel the One Power, and is training to become Aes Sedai.

Elaine, the Daughter-Heir to the throne in Caemlyn. She’s beautiful, sweet, and generally good-hearted. At first she comes across as a little green, but she proves that she can take care of herself without a cushion under her butt, and she’s practically exploding with potential in the White Tower. She has the ability to Channel the One Power, and is training to become Aes Sedai.

Book two in the Wheel of Time series was much more intriguing than book one. I thought it was a little more entertaining with the adventure, because it was able to branch out a bit from one path to three, which really helped keep my focus and intrigue.

I’ll say that reading it on an e-book was a little different. In fantasy books I like to see the maps and refer to them frequently throughout the book so I can visualize where the characters are going. (I’m dorky so cool, I know.) With the e-book I had the maps, but it was inconvenient for me to flip back whenever I wanted a visual reference, so I had to go online and print out a map of “Rand Land”. (Whoever came up with that name needs less free time.) Plus, I like to draw out paths;  you can’t exactly do that on a screen.

A map of the Lands between the Mountains of Dh...

A map of the Lands between the Mountains of Dhoom, the Aryth Ocean, the Sea of Storms and the Spine of the World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, there you have it. I loved it! Go buy it now! (But read The Eye of the World, first!)

Happy reading, friends.

The Eye of the World

Written by Robert Jordan

Series: Book #1 in The Wheel of Time Series

Cover of "The Eye of the World (The Wheel...

Book #18 of 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
First Edition: 1990
My Edition: 1990
Original Language: English

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

And so begins the epic story of three peasant boys who are called to run from the Dark One, for he seeks them to finish a war only he can remember.

Rand, seemingly plain, out of place, and more intelligent than he thinks.

Mat, a coy trickster with a knack for trouble.

And Perrin – sweet, intuitive Perrin.

At first I was intrigued, and then the story lulled some. There was travelling, then a bit of danger, then travelling, why-did-we-get-pulled-from-our-homes thoughts, travelling, they were separated, more travelling, they found each other after some trouble, travelling. You get the picture. I got a bit bored for a while. But then the story-line picked up a bit and I ended up not putting the blasted book down.

Fantasy fiction can be that way sometimes: so boring the pages are sticking together with drool for 200 pages, and then all of a sudden it’s so riveting you barely get any sleep for three days. Oh, how I adore it.

Well anyways, I’m not going to give anything away, because despite what the first 500 pages hint at, the next 400 are awfully enjoyable. I’ll be reading the rest of this series, you can bet. (Not any time soon, most likely, but I’ll finish it nonetheless.)

**Just so all of you faithful readers know, I’ve begun training for a marathon. I’m not telling you this so that you can make fun of my insanity for wanting to run 26.2 miles. This announcement is only being made so that you know why there will be less devouring of books. I know you’re crushed. Hush up that sniveling – it won’t help a thing.**

Happy reading, friends!  :)

Dead Until Dark

Written by Charlaine Harris
Series: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels  (aka The Southern Vampire Mysteries)

Book #17 of 2012

Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Ace Books
First Edition: 2001
My Edition: 2009
Original Language: English

This lovely little surprise of a book came to me by recommendation of a friend of mine, Ms. Sally.  Being that she is a friend from church, I was a little surprised to find out that it has a TV show based on the series that airs on  HBO (that, gasp, my husband also happens to own). So naturally, I took a week to watch the first two seasons that we had on DVD. I DO NOT KNOW WHY IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO WATCH THOSE! SO GOOD! The show was very different from the book. So different that I’m not going to do a compare and contrast. They were just different and should be thought of as such. And I digress.

The story is about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse from Bon Temps, Louisiana who finds peace with (and falls in love with) a vampire named William (Bill) Compton, who was turned during the Civil War. There is a string of murders in her small town and she wonders… is she next? 

Bill is a pretty entertaining character. You don’t learn everything about him all at once. He is a mystery. An onion, so to say. Layer after cold, clammy, vampire layer. He is a “mainstreamer” – a vampire who doesn’t want to kill anymore, so they pull away from other vampires to live with humans and drink synthetic blood called “Tru Blood”. They describe vampires as “forgetting” their humanity – becoming animals who live off of instinct. Bill desperately wanted to change.

For awhile I taped soap operas and watched them at night when I thought I might be forgetting what it was like to be human. After a while I stopped, because from the examples I saw on those shows, forgetting humanity was a good thing.

Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is the main ch...

Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is the main character of the series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sookie is a sweetheart. She loves her Gran, and her brother Jason (nevermind the fact that he’s a womanizing idiot), she goes to church, works really hard, doesn’t judge people by what the media says about them, and keeps a smile on her face even in the worst of circumstances. She’s deeply intellectual, even though she doesn’t regard herself as such. She sees the world for what it is, and doesn’t sugar-coat anything. Honestly, Sookie doesn’t really have the luxury to sugar-coat life – she hears peoples’ thoughts. When she begins to get involved with Bill, her life changes dramatically. The vampires Bill associate with take a dangerous interest in Sookie, and she has to learn how to navigate her way through.

The world seemed a bad and terrible place, all its denizens suspect, and I the lamb wandering through the valley of death with a bell around my neck.

Personally, I think she handles herself really well.

I will definitely be reading this entire series. I heard the last in the series is being released May 2013. This is a perfect quick-novel series to read back to back to back to back in between other longer novels. :)

Happy reading, friends!

 

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Written by Dorothy Gilman

Book #16 of 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Random House
First Edition: 1966
My Edition: 1983
Original Language: English

Let me preface this by saying that this one was my book club’s choice. I would not normally pick up this kind of book. I don’t read mystery books or spy books or books written in the 1960’s by old women. It’s just not my style. If you follow me, you probably figured that out by my review of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The point is, I don’t read books like this. But this book was, well, unexpected.

It was charming and hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable.

Mrs. Pollifax is getting up there in age. She is so bored with her life of Garden Club meetings that she actually considers killing herself just to get it over with. But then she reads a newspaper article of an older woman who begins a career as an actress, and is inspired to go apply for the CIA. Yes, apply. She walks right in and asks if they need any spies. Thus begins her adventure:

Never mind if most of the women looked sleek and Parisian and the men dressed exactly like Americans – this was Mexico because she had seen a sombrero. (Page 23)

Smart Man in Sombrero

At one point she got herself into a pickle and had to sneak herself out of a situation by getting down on all fours in the middle of a goat herd.

The boy did most of the work, running backward and forward to keep the goats in a tight cluster. But it was the tightness of the cluster that soon became Mrs. Pollifax’s major concern, for although she had not crawled on hands and knees since she was a child–and never for any distance–it was the goats that proved especially unnerving. They stepped on her, the bleated alarmingly in first her left ear and then her right ear, they playfully nipped her, and over and above these hardships there was their smell. She had never thought of goats as smelling; she had never thought of goats at all, but of course no one bathed goats and this was the dry season. They had a particularly obnoxious odor, and she was surrounded by, and distressingly intimate with, an entire herd of them. (Page 152)

A 2 month old goat kid in a field of capeweed

Goats are probably cuter when you don’t have to be at smell-level with them.

Her goat entanglement continues, and grows increasingly hilarious as her distress rises.

Anyways, the humor is great if you enjoy the prim responses of an old woman to wild adventure.

I urge you to enjoy this one.

Happy reading, friends.

The Last Song

Written by Nicholas Sparks

Cover of "The Last Song"

Cover of The Last Song

Book #15 of 2012

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Nationality: U.S.
First Edition: 2009
My Edition: 2010
Original Language: English

Well…I have been quite a slacker lately. I actually finished this book about a month ago, but got really lazy and didn’t want to write about it. I’m sure you’re all just dying to hear my thoughts. But if I’m to be honest, I don’t remember this novel as crystal clear as I probably would have when I really finished it.

I know this book got all kinds of wonderful reviews, but I don’t fully agree with all the hype. I guess I shouldn’t have ready The Lucky One first, because I thought that book was fantastic, so my bar was set pretty high.

Autographed

Seventeen year old Ronnie, who has her life flipped when her parents get a divorce, remains a mean little brat three years later. Her mother decides it would be best for all involved if Ronnie were to go spend the summer with her estranged father in Wilmington, North Carolina. Throughout the book, Ronnie’s mean, hard shell is chipped away by her new love for Will and her rekindled relationship with her father.

The theme of the book is based on Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

All through the book you learn about Ronnie’s father and his search for God.

…he couldn’t help feeling like an amateur, someone searching for God’s truth like a child searching for seashells.

I can relate to this. There is a feeling of inadequacy that comes with the search for God. And then when you realize that God is in everything, that He is everywhere, the feelings of inadequacy are replaced with feelings of hope and of peace.

As for Ronnie, I thought it was kind of weird, her falling in love so quickly. Who falls in love with a guy in a couple weeks? But hey, I’m a cynic. (A happily married cynic, I’ll have you know.) But Will was pretty head over heels for her, too, so it certainly wasn’t one-sided. Ahhh, the smell of summer romance.

He started at her, knowing with certainty that he was falling in love. He pulled her close and kissed her beneath a blanket of stars, wondering how on earth he’d been lucky enough to find her.

Anyways, The Last Song was pretty good. I guess I just had a hard time relating to it, because I didn’t fall in love until I was an adult, and I’ve never been estranged from someone, only to **SPOILER ALERT** have them die after I rekindle the relationship. And it probably didn’t help that I was imagining Miley Cyrus as Ronnie the entire time, either – something that really grated on my nerves. Damn movie.

The Lucky One

Written by Nicholas Sparks

Cover of "The Lucky One"

Loved it.

Book #14 of 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
First Edition: 2008
My Edition: 2012
Original Language: English

It’s no wonder everyone loves Nicholas Sparks. This story was like CRACK in book form. Ridiculous.

People can relate to this…I can relate to this. The mistrust, the vulnerability, the pain of memories, the excitement of new love, the terror of past mistakes haunting you. Sparks really hit it on the head with this one.

Also, I have to note that I love that he respects the military so much. I don’t know that he understands so much, but he certainly writes as if he does, and for that attempt, I am appreciative.

The lead woman, Beth, was great. She was witty and strong and wary, but not quite wary enough to be a fool. The lead man, Logan, was a seasoned marine with some ghosts. He was described as an intelligent, sexy marine on a mission of his own: to find Beth, the woman in a picture he found.

They met and began spending a lot of time together, doing simple things.

She was struck by the simple truth that sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.

The comedic relief in the book was definitely Beth’s grandmother, Nana. She’s wise and hilarious.

If relationships were hard, marriage was even harder…it seemed like most couples struggled. It went with the territory. What did Nana always say? “Stick two people with two different sets of expectations under one roof and it ain’t always going to be shrimp and grits on Easter.”

All in all, it was a very good book. I couldn’t put it down! I definitely recommend it.

Happy reading, friends.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

Written by Suzanne Collins

Books #11, 12, 13 of 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Scholastic Books
First Edition: 2008, 2009, 2010
My Edition: e-books (onread.com)
Original Language: English

I picked up The Hunger Games because my friend Brianne was really excited about how awesome it was. Laughable, Bree, laughable.

*WARNING: SPOILER ALERT*

The books are about a government who keeps control of its citizens by scaring them into not rebelling. But eventually, the citizens get so scared that they’re angry and a rebellion breaks out. The lead character is a girl named Katniss Everdeen who is the face of the rebellion, even though she doesn’t know why. She came from “District 12: Where you can starve to death in safety.” (Hunger Games) After asking to be put into the Hunger Games in place of her baby sister, Katniss rebels against the Capitol by forcing them to let both her and the other District 12 tribute, Peeta, to live. (There was only supposed to be one survivor.) So the Capitol got super angry. All of a sudden, because of that, Katniss became the face of the rebels.

The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the Mockingjay. The one that survived the Capitol’s plans. The symbol of the rebellion. (Catching Fire)

Cover of "Catching Fire (The Second Book ...

Cover of Book #2, Catching Fire

Let me review my thoughts.

1. I’m super mad that she killed off my favorite characters. Cinna and Finnick… for real?

2. She passed off Gale like she didn’t know what to do with him at the end of the series.

3. Katniss was an IDIOT.

  • She had no confidence. Anytime someone would try to build her up, she shot herself down.

“I didn’t do much, really,” I say.
“You have to give yourself some credit for what you’ve done in the past,” says Boggs. What I’ve done in the past? I think of the trail of destruction in my wake — my knees weaken and I slide down to a sitting position.
“That’s a mixed bag.” (Mockingjay)

  • She is easily manipulated. Katniss always went along with the rebels because she was an angry, emotional coward, even though she didn’t agree with their way of living or their war tactics.

She is childish. Peeta and Haymitch would lie to her to keep her safe from the Capitol and to keep her from overreacting, and then when she figured it out, she freaked. She was predictable and over-excitable and easily angered and untrusting: aka childish.

  • She used Peeta. And then she used Gale. Bitch.
4. The series ended very abruptly. One second Katniss is depressed and ready to kill herself, the next she’s married and has kids, with pretty much zero transition. Granted, it was the Epilogue. But you don’t just jump from Last Chapter: “I’m going to kill myself,” to Epilogue: “I’m happily married with two kids.” What the heck? I felt blindsided.
Mockingjay

Cover of Book #3, Mockingjay

Now, granted, this was written for teenagers – a target audience about 4-10 years younger than myself. 
I was really expecting this to be a lot better because according to the statistics of the book, it’s as popular as Harry Potter. After finishing, I just had to ask, “WHY?!” Do not fret! I have a theory: This trilogy is FULL of Stick-It-To-The-Man type crap, and in this generation, that’s what people are hungry for – stories that are very anti-government. And that’s exactly what Ms. Collins gave them. Which, I think, is a very good time for this:
But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction. (Mockingjay)
With that thought, I will depart.
Happy reading, friends.

The Sword

Written by: Bryan M. Liftin

From the Library...again, thank you local library.

Book #10 of 2012

Nationality: U.S.
Publisher: Crossway
First Edition: 2010
My Edition: 2010
Original Language: English

This book I picked up at my local library the same time I picked up The Keeper of the Crystal Spring. Turns out it’s a Christian book – which I don’t really have a problem with.

The plot is this: there’s this big nuclear war, and civilization basically ends except a small remaining few.

Genocide became the norm, spawned as it always is by unchecked power, hatred, and greed. All the great advancements of the world fell into disuse, for who could think about such things when their bellies had been empties for days? (Page 18)

One man begins  a kingdom called Chiveis, which has returned to a chivalrous age of swords and horses. The kingdom worshipped demon-gods, and Christianity was banished. There are many people in Chiveis, however, who doubt what they were taught.

There’s a fine line between folklore and religion…Both can be used to sway the masses–and both can be full of nonsense. (Page 62)

Hundreds of years later, an unsuspecting couple come upon the Bible in an old abandoned church in a dilapidated city, and it makes them question everything they’ve ever known. The book is about the unraveling of the society because of the discovery of this book. It’s very good, if you like these kinds of stories.

Happy reading, friends.