Book Review: The Burning Land (The Saxon Stories #5) by Bernard Cornwell

LONThe enemy is massing on the borders, a united force for once.

The king, a man of many victories, is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth.

Uthred, the king’s champion, leads his country’s forces to war. However his victory is soured by personal tragedy and by the envy of the king’s court. So he breaks with the king and takes off for the land of his birth, determined to resist all calls for his return. That is, until one unexpected request…

This is the making of England brought magnificently to life by the master of historical fiction.

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Book Review: I, Jane (In The Court of Henry VIII #4) by Diane Haeger

I,JaneThough her path to the throne was long and paved with treachery. Jane Seymour would win the heart of her king—and heal her own. Jane Seymour of Wiltshire is not meant to go to Court. Not a child like her, with her lack of beauty and no title. But family connections are enough to have her named to the bridal retinue of Mary Tudor. At the French Court, the plain and docile Jane meets the girl who will grow into her rival in years to come. The already charismatic and conniving Anne Boleyn.

Would she get to stay in the countryside she craved?

Soon back home in the English countryside, Jane wants nothing more than peace and quiet. And the devotion of her childhood protector, William Dormer. But his family vows to keep them apart And Jane is called back to Court to serve Katherine of Aragon, who is fighting for her life as Queen in the face of Anne Boleyn’s open seduction of King Henry VIII.

In those turbulent years, Jane will learn the value of loyalty and honesty, while holding fast to her convictions. And it is her unblemished soul that will slowly rise above the chaos—and turn a king’s head.

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Book Review: When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay

Brave
When we were Brave

In WHEN WE WERE BRAVE, we find a conflicted SS officer, Wilhelm Falk. Who risks everything to escape the Wehrmacht and get out the message about the death camps. Izaak is a young Jewish boy whose positive outlook is challenged daily as each new perilous situation comes along. American citizens, Herbert Müller, and his family are sent back to the hellish landscape of Germany because of the DNA coursing through their veins. In the panorama of World War II, these are the high-stakes plots and endearing characters whose braided fates we pray will work out in the end.

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Book Review: A Dog’s Purpose (A Dog’s Purpose #1) by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog's purposeThis is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

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Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

To all the boys I've loved before
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean.Who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt. Then sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed. Causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfrien. Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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Book Review: Nappily Ever After (Nappily #1) by Trisha R. Thomas

What happens when you toss tradition out the window and really start living for yourself?

Venus Johnston has a great job, a beautiful home, and a loving live-in boyfriend named Clint, who happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous doctor. She also has a weekly beauty-parlor date with Tina, who keeps Venus’s long, processed hair slick and straight. But when Clint–who’s been reluctant to commit over the past four years–brings home a puppy instead of an engagement ring, Venus decides to give it all up. She trades in her long hair for a dramatically short, natural cut and sends Clint packing.

It’s a bold declaration of independence–one that has effects she never could have imagined. Reactions from friends and coworkers range from concern to contempt to outright condemnation. And when Clint moves on and starts dating a voluptuous, long-haired beauty, Venus is forced to question what she really wants out of life. With wit, resilience, and a lot of determination, she finally learns what true happiness is–on her own terms. Told with style, savvy, and humor, Nappily Ever After is a novel that marks the debut of a fresh new voice in fiction.

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Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

 

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

You are about to read a sentence that I have never written before (that I can recall) and most likely will not do so again. Don’t bother with the book at all and stick with the TV series. Honestly, I feel like I am saving you time here. Normally when you read a book you get more detail than you could ever hope to get on screen. I mean I don’t know a single reader that hasn’t said a book they love should have been turned into a 12 hour epic that covers everything. That is so very much not the case with this book.

The pacing is wrong, the focus is wrong and I just want to slap some of the characters so hard. Where as on the show sure I want to smack a few characters, but I understand the motivation the have, I feel invested and I get more details. The book really just seems to fall truly and epicly flat. This is a series about humanity. It makes sure to show us the best and the worst, the human strength and the human weakness. The book just misses that mark very epicly. The book seems to dance around and focus more on all of the shitty things that we do for love. I mean it is true, we do a lot of stupid things for love that is human nature. I just don’t like that focus, like it is trying to be a romance novel and it doesn’t need all of that. There is plenty of love that happens without needing to focus on it. So my bottom line, watch the show and enjoy that and save your time don’t, read the book.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I have always loved A wrinkle in time and when the movie was getting ready to come out I knew it was time for another read. I mean, how could I miss Chris Pine as Doctor Murray right? Anyways, back to the book.

For me this book is just something enjoyable to read, like going into a familiar world where I might know how it is going to end, but I am okay with that, because I find something different every time I read it. The story has so many different layers and so much to discover. There is something about this book that still to this day gives me a sense of wonder, I can read it and just feel transfixed. This book is one of the books that inspired me to write, to write poetry and stories and just about anything. Reading it again helped me to break through some block that I had going on when I read it. It is just that kind of book for me. I might even read it a second time for the year to try and break through things once again. I know some read this book again when they become adults and don’t feel the same way, but for me this is one of those books that I believe will always give me that special kind of wonderment and remind me why I wanted to write down things to start with. At least I hope it will be that way, because being an adult is tough enough most of the time, losing something that holds a child’s wonder to it would make it that much harder. Sorry for the bit of floaty, dreamy review on this one, I’ll blame the book for it.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Mozart’s Last Aria by Matt Rees

Award-winning author Matt Rees takes readers to 18th century Austria, where Mozart’s estranged sister Nannerl stumbles into a world of ambition, conspiracy, and immortal music while attempting to uncover the truth about her brother’s suspicious death. Did Mozart’s life end in murder? Nannerl must brave dire circumstances to find out, running afoul of the secret police, the freemasons, and even the Austrian Emperor himself as she delves into a scandal greater than she had ever imagined. With captivating historical details, compelling characters, and a real-life mystery upon which everything hinges, Rees—the award-winning author of the internationally acclaimed Omar Yussef crime series—writes in the tradition of Irvin Yalom’  When Nietzsche Wept, Louis Bayard’s The Pale Blue Eye, and Phillip Sington’s The Einstein Girl to achieve the very best in historical fiction with Mozart’s Last Aria.

This book for me had a series of unfortunate events so it took me a while to get through it, but I was excited for it Sadly, I ended up not really enjoying this book as much as I hoped I would. It wasn’t a bad book, but it also wasn’t one that I would say is riveting. The hardest part for me to deal with in this particular book was the way Mozart’s sister Nannerl was written. I have read other books with his sister ad maybe that is why I am having an issue with it, she just really didn’t stand out as a character I could connect to in this book. She was the “Sherlock” of this book and I just wasn’t really feeling I could believe that.

I know this is historical fiction, but a lot of it just felt a little off the believable scale for me. It might be fiction, but if it is based on real events and people I would hope it would follow that path. For me, I felt this one went a little too far afield. Again, it was not a bad book, it just didn’t really get me into the good book area either. If you want to give it a try go for it you might like it better than I did.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

‘Let him feel that he is one of us; once fill his mind with the idea that he has been a thief, and he’s ours, – ours for his life!’

The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens’s tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters — the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, in Oliver Twist Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.

This is the first critical edition to use the serial text of 1837-9, presenting Oliver Twist as it appeared to its earliest readers. It includes Dickens’s 1841 introduction and 1850 preface, the original illustrations and a glossary of contemporary slang.

Ah Oliver Twist is truly one of the classics and for me it was a fun re-read. I really enjoyed this book when I read it for school and when I read it a few years ago and I enjoyed it again when I read it this time. It always takes a little bit of time to get into it, classics are written so differently but after the first chapter or 2 I always settle in and really enjoy it.

Dickens wrote so vividly and when you read his work, getting into it you can really get a full sense of what it must have been like to live and be in that time. The conditions were so horrible and what people had to go through just to live. Of course if one looks around society today it is not hard to see a lot of the gaps starting to widen again and we may be headed towards another version of this, that is scary too. All we need is the work houses.

There isn’t much to give away on this one it is a classic and has movies and musicals and all the rest done about it so everyone seems to know about Oliver Twist. If you like classics you will probably like Oliver Twist, if you don’t you probably won’t.

My Gemstone Rating:

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