Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Taste in Books

I think an explanation of my taste in books is in order, since I have completely departed from my previous reviews in writing about a thriller. I consider my taste to be rather eclectic. It has been influenced by various forces throughout my life, beginning with my mom. She taught me to read at an early age, and I have never stopped. For our homeschool studies, she expected me to read the classics and other quality literature. She also assigned a great deal of historical novels to augment the textbooks. From her, I learned to love Jane Austen, G.A. Henty, Howard Pyle, Roger Lancelyn Green, Brian Jacques, and many others. My elder sister introduced me to Louisa May Alcott, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, William Shakespeare, James Patterson, E.D. Baker and others. I never picked up her liking for vampire novels, though. I read Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the works of Avi, Lloyd Alexander, Patricia C. Wrede, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and a few other sci-fi authors on the recommendations of my older brothers. However, they could not convince me that Robert Heinlein was any good, no matter how hard they tried. Dad introduced me to Action/Adventure/Thrillers and such. Because of him, I have read the works of Jack Higgins, Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Matt Reilly, Justin Scott, Tom Clancy and others of that sort. I especially enjoy books by Alistair Maclean and Robert Ludlum, but I do not like Ian Fleming at all. With these foundations, I took off on my own. Eva Ibbotson, Juliet Marillier, Anne McCaffrey, John Flanagan, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Lawhead, Shannon Hale, Laurie King's Russell series, Cameron Dokey, Lauren Willig, C.S. Forester, Gillian Bradshaw, Sharon Shinn, Sherwood Smith, Abigail Reynolds, Lois McMaster Bujold, Rafael Sabatini, Kenneth Oppel, Elizabeth Chadwick, and a myriad of other authors in every genre soon decorated my mental library, and I am forever adding more. There is no way I could ever name them all, and there are so many that I want to read but have not. I am constantly becoming frustrated with my local library, though it is one of my favorite places, because they simply cannot buy every book that I would like to borrow. I love nothing more than to discover a wonderful book that had somehow escaped my notice before, especially if it makes me smile. In Abigail Reynolds' novel Pemberley by the Sea, her character said, "I like cream with my coffee and optimism with my literature." (Or something to that effect, I am terrible at remembering exact wordings.) I agree with this sentiment whole-heartedly, and I hate tragedies. (Which makes no sense when I think of how much I love King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Greek mythology.) I also love to find books that I can give to my younger sisters, one of whom is fast becoming as much of a book-a-holic as I am. Occasionally they return the favor, my 12-year-old sis discovered the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan and soon the nearly the whole household was reading them, including my 26-year-old brother, which proves that I come from a large family of book-fiends. :)

                                                            Lieder Madchen


Book Review #9 Relentless by Dean Coonts

by Dean Coonts

Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Age: 16 and up

I am not normally a big fan of Dean Coonts, but my eldest brother is and he borrowed Relentless from the library and I decided to give it a try. The plot and writing is okay, but it was the personalities of the three main characters that kept me reading. Cullen "Cubby" Greenwitch is an author. So is his wife, Penny Boom. They are both successful and popular, him with adult novels and her with her children's stories. Milo, their young son, is a mathematical and scientific prodigy. They all live happily in their big house with their dog Lassie. When a famous critic writes a bad review about Cubby's most recent book, he is a little bothered, but lets it go. Mostly. He does go to a restaurant that he knows the critic, Shearman Waxx, will be eating lunch at. Waxx recognizes him then everything begins to go downhill. Soon the family finds themselves swept up in terrible events beyond their control. The characters are wonderfully quirky, and the conversations between them occasionally reminded me of exchanges with my own relatives.

The profanity in this book is rare and the f-word is never used, I will give it a 5.10.

The only sexuality is in references and mild innuendo, so I will give it a 4.10.

There are several scenes of violence, as well as descriptions of torture, so I will give it a 7.10.

                                                 Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review #8: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword
by Robin McKinley

Genre: Fantasy
Ages: 12 and up
Sequel to the Hero and the Crown

It may seem a litttle odd to be reviewing the sequel before the first book, but I am reading them out of order. There are references to the characters of the Hero and the Crown, but the Blue Sword takes place hundreds of years later. I would not necessarily recommend reading them like I did, but it does not make a great deal of difference.

This is the story of Harry Crewe, a young woman in the middle of a strange country after the death of her father. Damar is a land torn by war, the different races distrusting each other. Harry is an Outlander, a newcomer from the mainland, and yet she finds herself strangely attracted to the desert and the Hills. Her life is quiet and dull until the Hill-King, Corlath, comes to confer with her guardian, Sir Charles. He leaves in anger, but for a moment their eyes meet, and he knows that this Outlander girl is somehow different, important, apart from the others in some indefinable way. He knows that she will play a significant part in what is to come. This is a beautiful story of romance and adventure, set in a rich landscape with a fascinating culture. Robin McKinley is a fantastic author, she always comes up with wondrous new worlds, and I consider Damar to be one of her greatest creations.

There are a handful of swear-words scattered about, but they are not offensively foul, so I will give it a 3.10.

Sexuality is limited to very slight innuendo and some mild references, so I give it a 4.10.

There are a couple of battle scenes, but the aftermaths are bloodier than the actual fighting. However, there is no gratuitous gore, so I will rate it a 5.10.
                                                               Lieder Madchen

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review #7: Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey

Wild Orchid
by Cameron Dokey

Age: Young Adult, recommended for 10 and up
Genre: Semi-Historical, Almost-Fantasy Romance

I have loved the story of Mulan ever since I was a little girl and saw the Disney movie. Now, looking back, it was an extremely silly movie with really dumb songs, but I still remember it fondly. This book is nothing like the movie. It tells the story of a brave girl who wants only to be free, but she is not the rebellious young woman with a bad attitude as portrayed in the film.

Mulan was born an unusual child, the product of a marriage of true love when such a thing was rarely seen. Her father, a great general, was away when her mother gave birth and died. He left his daughter to grow up alone, not even knowing her mother's name. It is no surprise then that she grew up wild, learning many things that a girl would not normally learn, such as how to read and write, how to ride a horse and shoot a bow. When her father is forced home at last, they do not know what to make of each other. I do not wish to spoil anything, so I will not say what happens next. This book is written in an almost lyrical fashion that is rarely seen in modern works that is oddly refreshing, as is the pure and simple romance of the story. I would definitely recommend this book to any girl 10 and up, but I read it aloud to my little brother and he liked it, too, so maybe a few boys would enjoy it as well. :)

There is no profanity in this novel.

Sexuality is limited to a single kiss, so I will give it a 1.10.

There is one battle described in this book, but it is not offensively graphic so I will rate it a 3.10.

                                                                    Lieder Madchen

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review #6: Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston

Mr. Darcy's Daughters
by Elizabeth Aston

This book is a very different sort of Pride and Prejudice sequel. For one, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam are hardly involved at all. Mr. Darcy's Daughters focuses, unsurprisingly, on the daughters of that couple. The five girls, Letty, Camilla, the twins Georgina and Belle, and Alethea are as different as sisters can be. For the most part, Camilla is the main heroine of this adventure. Letty, the eldest, is a bit like her grandmother Mrs. Bennet and her aunt Mary combined, Camilla is every bit her mother's daughter, the twins are quite like their aunts Kitty and Lydia, and Alethea, though she has a lot of both of her parents in her, is a new personality entirely. The girls are set loose on London, in the care of the former Col. Fitwilliam and his wife while their parents are abroad on a mysterious diplomatic mission in Constantinople.

This book had me almost yelling What!!! several times and pulling the book closer to find out what happened next. The sisters manage to get themselves into nearly every type of trouble imaginable, dragging friends, relatives, and acquaintances in with them. Elizabeth Aston is nothing if not imaginative, and I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with next!

There is no violence in this book.

The only sexuality is in references, kissing, and the occasional scandalous embrace, so this book rates a 4.10.

Profanity is limited to some name-calling that one would not normally expect to find in polite conversation, so I give it a 4.10.

This book is not for those who are traditionally minded about Jane Austen, as it will annoy the heck out of them.
                                                                        Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review #5: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Two Shall Become One
by Sharon Lathan

This book is a delightful continuation of Pride and Prejudice. Darcy and Elizabeth sparkle with humor and wit throughout. I loved that they went through many of the trials that an ordinary husband and wife face, doubts, fears, their first real fight, and hopes for the future. Also, there is a dash of peril and excitement to add a different layer of emotions as Darcy is faced with fears for Elizabeth's life.

There is no swearing in this book, at least, none that I noticed. Sometimes I have trouble keeping these things in mind when I am caught up in a good story.

It gets a 4.10 for one scene of violence and one scene of threat.

This rates a 7.10 for sexuality, due to several scenes of varying explicitness all of which take place between a married couple.

                                                                          Lieder Madchen

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review #4 Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds

Pemberley by the Sea, aka The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice
by Abigail Reynolds

This is a wonderful modern romance, with characters who at times behave so much like Elizabeth and Darcy that I would just burst out laughing. Cassie Boulton is a marine biologist who struggled to reach above her birth, and Calder Westing III is from a wealthy political family who is enchanted by the thought that someone could like him despite, rather than because, of his. There are also Jane and Bingley-like characters with their own lives and difficulties.
       This romance is as full of misunderstandings and miscommunications as its inspiration, and I am looking forward with anticipation to the sequel's release.

The only violence is in references to past events, so it gets a 3.10.

There are a handful of swearwords scattered throughout, but mostly just the d-word, so for that it is a 4.10.

There are several fairly graphic scenes of sexuality between married and unmarried persons, so it rates a 7.10.

I would recommend this novel to people 16 and up.

                                                                       Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review #3 Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

I am taking a brief detour from my Pride and Prejudice reviews to post my thoughts on this novel, which I also discovered thanks to SurLaLune's wonderful blog.

Toads and Diamonds
by Heather Tomlinson

This book is a charming re-telling of Charles Perrault's Diamonds and Toads fairy tale, with a twist. It takes place in a fictional India, and their is no nasty stepsister. In this setting, both the gemstones and the frogs are considered to be blessings, albeit for different reasons. I loved the characters and their struggles to survive and stay themselves in situations they could never have expected. Tana, the toad girl, especially had to stay strong to protect those she loved, which is what had been her wish all along. I would recommend this story to anyone 12 and up.

There is no sexuality, but there is a brief scene near the beginning where there were soldiers harassing a young woman, so this story rates a 3 out of 10.

This book gets at least a 5 out of 10 for language, as some of the more unpleasant characters call the young ladies by a rude name multiple times.

There are scenes of violence sprinkled throughout Toads and Diamonds, including a brief scene where a character is beaten and one man who was killed in self defence, but none are particularly graphic.

                                                                          Lieder Madchen

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Review #2 Mr. Darcy's Diary

Mr. Darcy's Diary
by Amanda Grange

This is a very faithful rendition of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's point of view. It follows Mr. Darcy's story from his rescue of Georgiana to his marriage to Elizabeth. This is a wonderful book for those who dislike anyone who messes with the original, but I personally would have enjoyed it a little more if it went into what Darcy was doing when he wasn't around Elizabeth or doing things that were directly referenced in Pride and Prejudice. One might as well read the original, as this book adds very little that is new. I do like that it started earlier, so I found the beginning more interesting than the rest of the novel. The language and writing is excellent, however, and it explored Mr. Darcy's feelings very nicely.

I would give it 7 out of 10 stars, all in all.
There is no sexuality, violence, or swearing in this book.

                                    Lieder Madchen

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book Review #1, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds

This is to be the first of, I hope, many book reviews. Thanks to SurLaLune's blog report of the free Jane Austen e-books, I have been reading a lot of those and will therefore begin with some of them.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World.
By Abigail Reynolds.

This was the first Pemberley Variation I read, so I did not know what to expect and was somewhat shocked by the beginning. Elizabeth Bennet Darcy miserable at the thought of entering her new home with her new husband? How could this be? Soon, however, I learned why. What if Elizabeth had to say yes to Darcy's first, horrible proposal? What if he never wrote the letter that changed her mind about him? What if they were married and she still considered him to be "the last man in the world?" That is what this story explores. This well-written tale tells of the newlywed's trials and tribulations on their journey to true love. I wanted to find out what happened so much, that I read it in just a few hours with only a few interruptions. I found it fascinating, and immediately started thinking of other what-ifs. What if Darcy didn't accompany Bingley, so he and Elizabeth first met at Rosings? What if Wickham had succeeded in eloping with Georgiana? I know that some people might find it impudent that an author would mess with Jane Austen in such a way, and no doubt the lady is rolling in her grave at some of the more horrific re-tellings, but I found this one eminently enjoyable, and I look forward to more.

I would rate this a 3 out of 10 on a violence level, for one scene where a drunken man loses his temper, and there is also a quantity of blood but it was due to an accident.
1 out of 10 for language, as I did not notice any, really.
It gets a 6 out of 10 for sexuality, due to a couple of middlingly graphic scenes between the married couple as well as some references.
I would recommend this book for people 15 and up

          I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
                                                   Lieder Madchen