Book Review - Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I hadn't read the synopsis for this book before picking it up. It's impossible to talk about the book at all without giving a lot away, and I wonder how the first half would have read differently if I hadn't already known the premise.

It's not a very fast-moving book, but I found it engaging and insightful. The audio version is definitely the way to go if you can.

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Book Review - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ok, so I'd probably actually give this a 3.5 but I though I'd be generous. Part I of the book is AGONY; pure, unbridled agony. If you are a financier or something, you might not be totally bored by it, but for me, it was awful.

By the time part II came along, though, the setup was FINALLY done and the actual story had started to move. While the first 150 pages took me WEEKS to wade through (I had to keep putting it down and read something more interested so my will to live wasn't completely sucked away), I cranked through the last 200 pages in one day.

It is worth reading, if you can take some time and work your way through the beginning. I don't recommend reading it without an actually interesting book in tow to read when you just can't take it anymore. Unfortunately, part I is enormously critical to understanding what happens in Part II, so you really do have to read it and pay attention.

Anyway, if you have the strength of will to get through part I, the book really ends up pretty interesting, and I'll probably read the sequels.

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Book Review - The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, it's no Hunger Games. The premise is interesting, and the story had a lot of promise. Unfortunately, a lot of it was left unfulfilled. I identified pretty heavily with the main character, BUT there was a real lack of depth to 99% of the other characters, which is disappointing. I was left with many unanswered questions that I hope are resolved in the sequel, which I do intend to read.

These people are living in a world where the only thing separating them from a forest of Zombies is a chain-link fence. And yet, while you read about their terror and desperation at times, you never FEEL it. Maybe I'm spoiled by the emotional roller coaster that was the Hunger Games series, but I like to be inside of my stories. While this one carried me through, I felt more like I was riding along a path in an electric jeep rather than being chased through the jungle by the dinosaurs.

The only thing I really felt in my bones was Mary's desire for MORE of life, and the sense of loss from those whose loved ones were taken by the Unconsecrated. And while her scenes of desire with her beloved were moving, the genre was painfully obvious to me as it usually isn't in good YA - I could tell the author was holding back because of the intended age of the audience, and the work was the worse for it.

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Book Review (sort of) - Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Devil Bones (Temperance Brennan, #11)Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am halfway through this book, and haven't managed more than that. i intend to finish it, because as I remember, the story was curious and potentially interesting. I stopped, though, because I had better things to read and the writing was just not my style.

I was quite disappointed, really, as I had high hopes for the tales that inspired Bones. Reichs is far too detailed about her scenery and history lessons for my taste, though, among other things I can't really remember at the moment because it's been a month since I picked this book up. Clearly it was enough to keep me from finishing it this long.

EDIT: I've tried several times to come back to this book, but it's never good enough to tear me away from my growing to-read list. I'm thinking it will be one of my RARE unfinished reads.

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Book Review - Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

Xenocide (Ender's Saga, #4)Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I still maintain that Speaker for the Dead is the best of the Ender series and that the books get progressively "worse" after that book. That said, I enjoyed Xenocide much more this read-through (listen-through?) than I had previously, mostly because I understood and took interest in the science more than I ever had before.

Knowing what I do about Orson Scott Card and his religious and political beliefs (or at least professions) took a little of the joy out of this book, and more so than the others. I found myself frequently wondering <i>what he was trying to say</i>. Before I had been able to suspend those thoughts and get lost in the story, but they came to the forefront this time.

When I started listening to this books again (I do it about once a year), I didn't intend to read through the whole series, knowing that I could feasibly stop with Speaker and be done, and that I didn't like the other books as much. But as usual, the story drew me in, and even though I KNOW what happens in the long run, I wanted to hear it all again.

If you've never listened to the Ender books, I highly recommend it. The voice acting is phenomenal and really brings the story to life.

My third time through, and I still couldn't just stop with Speaker. I had to finish out the series, and I'll say that I appreciated Xenocide more this third time around, and Children of the Mind was actually the story I rolled my eyes through. I guess you do get something different out of a book every time you read it (or listen, as it were). I once again applied what I know about OSC and his beliefs to the telling of this story, and while I was still irritated at times, I also found myself analyzing and questioning and being generally curious about how much of the story does align with mormonism or OSC's personal dogma.

I'll still call this a three-star book, but I am glad that I have read it again (and again), if only to see how I as the audience have changed.

I almost didn't continue the series this year, but went ahead anyway since I didn't have any more audiobooks lined up and I like to have one going at all times. Also, I couldn't seem to leave Ender, though he features far less prominently in this book that the first two. Once again (though mostly later in the book), I found myself beset by OSC's sneaky dogmatic ideals working their way into the inner personal monologues of his characters. *sigh* Someday, I'll learn that two books is really enough, that I know the rest of the story and don't actually have to keep "reading." There are so many good things out there waiting to be listened to.

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Book Review - What is God? by Etan Boritzer

What Is God?What Is God? by Etan Boritzer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book describes one of the Big Questions (What is God?) as a question asked by everyone everywhere and answered in many ways. It is a little demeaning toward Christianity (describing their god as an invisible old man with a long white beard who lives in the clouds), and I don't like the way it TELLS at the end what god "is" (everyone and everything, and you) rather than making a suggestion and leaving it up to the child to decide what sounds or feels right.

Still, it was a nice response to my son's questioning after hearing about God from some Christian acquaintances, and a stepping stone for perspective. We're combining it with other kids' world religion-type books and various mythologies to attempt to give a balanced overview.

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Book Review - The Earth is Flat! by Mary Atkinson

The Earth Is Flat!: Science Facts and Fictions (Shockwave--Science in Practice)The Earth Is Flat!: Science Facts and Fictions by Mary Atkinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title of this book certainly caught my attention! Is someone really trying to push this drivel off on children? No, they are using an OLD misconception to show how science changes.

My 5-year-old son and I really enjoyed reading this book, which gives a brief overview of the question at hand (is the earth flat?) and how it was approached in ancient times. Many scientific terms are introduced, as well as philosophers and scientists of those ancient times. Mythology is discussed as a precursor to science - a way people explained the world around them. There are brief overviews of many different branches of science, from astrophysics to alchemy and chemistry, as well as information on the scientific method, experimentation, and what is in my opinion the most important lesson in the book - that science changes because scientists are constantly questioning and revising based on new information.

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Book Review - James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper by G. Norman Lippert

James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper (James Potter, #2)James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book could have used the firm but loving hand of a copy-editor. Everyone's smile was crooked, and you really want to slap the hero around for the first half to two-thirds of the book. I guess he's supposed to be young and stupid and all, and that's very authentic, but I think a reader is also supposed to relate to the hero of a book.

I also don't think the old characters are very true-to form. It's hard to tell, since they're a good 15+ years older than they were when last we saw them in the canon series, but I just didn't FEEL Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and especially Dumbledore coming out of their characters. And Dumbledore should have been the same, since it was his portrait that was doing the talking. The new characters are all quite well-developed, though, and I was glad to see Hermione's daughter Rose take on the Hermione role in the group, of a strong, level-headed, studious young woman. :)

As with The Hall of Elder's Crossing, though, the story was excellent, and kept me reading through to the end. I'm really looking forward to reading Girl on the Dock (a spinoff story of one of the characters) and the third installment of the James Potter series.

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Book Review - The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1)The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this book after reading the Percy Jackson series. I love mythology of all sorts, and the idea of a new series dealing with Egyptian mythology (Percy Jackson was Greek) was awesome.

I was not disappointed. After a quick and dirty start, the book lags a bit in the first couple chapters but picks up again before too long. I would have read it much more quickly if I wasn't swamped with summer school, and as it was, I often read when I should have been doing homework!

The characters are likeable and for teenagers, probably relatable. The story is told in the context of a transcribed audio tape (!), and the asides at the beginning of the chapters get tiring, but it's a minor nitpick.

There is a definite conclusion to this book, while still giving you a taste of the larger story arc that is to come - I like that. No real cliffhanger, but the promise of more.

I found myself often wondering how much of the story was made up and how much was based on true mythological scholarship. That's cleared up in the notes at the end, stating that the idea of Nomes, magicians, and so forth were really prevalent in Ancient Egypt, and the mythological aspect of the book is as true as one could expect.

These series' are great primers for mythological education. It's a fun and exciting way for kids to get their Mythological literacy on.

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