Friday, April 1, 2016

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas

Author:  Jennifer Allee

Pages:  342

Year Published:  2012

Genre:  Inspirational Romance

New or Repeat: New

Opening Line:  Izzy Fontaine was up to her elbows in family photos when the doorbell rang.

Quick Summary:  When Izzy finds herself in possession of a quilt that is supposed to lead to a great treasure, she decides to figure out what the truth really is. To add to her trouble, a local curator, Max, claims the quilt was supposed to be donated to his collection.

My Opinion:  This is a charming Christmas romance. Although it is a Christian novel, the book never falls into preachiness. I really enjoyed the family struggles in the book as well as the budding romance. The story never lags, but keeps going in a quirky way. I really enjoyed it.

Favorite Character:  Izzy

Least Favorite Character:  Janice

Favorite Quote:  So many people spend their lives chasing possessions and status; they forget what really matters: the love of our Lord and the love of family.

Ending Line:  Just as Gran had hoped.

Would I See the Movie?  If they did make this into a movie, it would be a Hallmark movie…and I would watch it.

Did I Like It?  Yes

Final Grade:  Four Stars

The Pastor's Wife (read for the 2015 Popsugar Ultimate Challenge)

I read this to fulfill #9 Read a book by a female author.

Author:  Jennifer Allee

Pages:  349

Year Published:  2010

Genre:  Inspirational Romance

New or Repeat: New

Opening Line:  Hold the elevator!

Quick Summary:  Maura Sullivan left Granger, Ohio and her estranged husband behind her…or so she thought. When she is given an inheritance by a woman she barely knew back in that town, she goes back and hopes to put the past completely behind her.

My Opinion:  This is different from stories I usually read. Maura is not very likable at first and neither is Nick, her estranged husband. The church shuns her, which seems more fitting a hundred years ago rather than in present day. However, the story builds and the characters become more likeable. I thought the main plot point at the climax came out of left field, but I still enjoyed the book.

Favorite Character:  I really don’t have one.

Least Favorite Character:  several members of the church

Favorite Quote:  The cold made him feel alive and reminded him of the power of God.

Ending Line:  Maura thanked god for the dawning of a new day, and for the second chance He’d given her and Nick.

Would I See the Movie?  probably

Did I Like It?  Yes

Final Grade:  Three Stars

Taran Wanderer

Title:  Taran Wanderer

Author:  Lloyd Alexander

Pages:  344

Year Published:  1967

Genre:  Fantasy

New or Repeat: multiple times

Opening Line:  It was full springtime, with promise of the richest summer the farm had ever seen.

Quick Summary:  The fourth book in the Chronicles of Prydain, Taran Wanderer is a departure from the previous books. Eilonwy doesn't appear in this book and there is no set adventure. Instead, we follow Taran as he tries to discover who his parents were. He has many adventures along the way, some good and some bad.

My Opinion:  Although different from the other books in the series, Taran Wanderer actually sets the stage for the fifth book. I really enjoyed this book. This book is quieter than the rest of the series. Taran is the only constant as he searches the entire breadth of Prydain for his parents. Eilonwy is only present in Taran’s thoughts and Ffleweddur only appears in different scenes. Gurgi is never far from his master, but this is truly Taran’s story.

Favorite Character:  Taran

Least Favorite Character:  Dorath

Favorite Quote:  True allegiance is only given willingly.

Ending Line:  Taran followed it.

Would I See the Movie?  If done the right way.

Did I Like It?  yes

Final Grade:  Four Stars

1969 Newbery Medal- The High King

Title:  The High King

Author:  Lloyd Alexander

Pages:  398

Year Published:  1968

Genre:  Fantasy

New or Repeat: read several times

Opening Line:  Under a chill, gray sky, two riders jogged across the turf.

Quick Summary:  This is the final book in the Chronicles of Prydain and, arguably, the best. The story brings together all of the characters from the previous stories in an epic battle of good and evil. Taran is grown up now, with his faithful friends, and ready to defeat the evil Arawn.

My Opinion:  This is truly one of the best endings to a series. I really love how all of the storylines from the previous four books come together in a final battle of good and evil. The characters have developed over the course of the book and you are left feeling satisfied with their choices in the end, although some are tragic. I truly love this book- I cry everytime I read it.

Favorite Character:  can’t have just one- Taran, Ffleweddur, Eilonwy, Gwydion

Least Favorite Character:  none

Favorite Quote:  Is there worse evil than that which goes in the mask of good?

Ending Line:  And, in time, only the bards knew the truth of it.

Would I See the Movie?  Only if done well.

Did I Like It?  Yep

Final Grade:  Five Stars

Thursday, March 31, 2016

1965 Newbery Honor Book- The Black Cauldron

Author:  Lloyd Alexander

Pages:  293

Year Published:  1965

Genre:  Fantasy

New or Repeat: repeated several times

Opening Line:  Autumn had come too swiftly.

Quick Summary:  The second book in the Chronicles of Prydain, The Black Cauldron takes Taran and his companions on a dangerous mission- to steal the cauldron from Arawn and destroy his ability to create the zombie-like Cauldron Born. 

My Opinion:  This book is full of adventure, but also has a deeper vein running through it. Taran faces some difficult choices and deals with tragic events. I really love how the author allows his characters to grow and develop, even with negative traits. I especially love when Taran is given a serious choice which really mirrors choices we all sometimes face- do we do what is right for ourselves or the greater good? I really love this book and truly hated the Disney version. I even had the audacity to point this out to the author, who wrote a really gracious letter back to a young teenage girl. He really was wonderful. I just learned that they are planning to do a series of movies of the entire series- I REALLY hope they do it right this time.

Favorite Character:  Eilonwy

Least Favorite Character:  Ellidyr

Favorite Quote:  Is there not glory enough in living the days given to us? You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty too.

Ending Line:  Taran galloped toward them.

Would I See the Movie?  Um…no. (Seriously- hated the movie!) However…I will give the 
new version a try IF it’s done right.

Did I Like It?  Really like it a lot (but not my favorite)

Final Grade:  Four Stars

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Aesop's Fables

Author:  Aesop

Pages:  441

Year Published:  circa 500 BC

Genre:  Fables, Myths, and Legends

New or Repeat: New

Opening Line:  A hungry fox saw some fine bunches of grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis and did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air.

Quick Summary:  This is a collection of fables that have been attributed to Aesop.

My Opinion:  What is there to say about Aesop's Fables? We all grew up with them, but I found it interesting to read them all in one place. Several of them were new to me. I will admit, though, that it was difficult to read more than a few in one sitting. I recommend that everyone reads them all at least once in their lifetime.

Favorite Character:  doesn’t really apply here

Least Favorite Character:  same for this one

Favorite Quote:  If you choose bad companions, no one will believe that you are anything but bad yourself.

Ending Line:  Had you fallen into the well, the blame would have been thrown not on your own folly but on me, Fortune.

Would I See the Movie?  I’ve seen numerous cartoons based on the Fables.

Did I Like It?  Eh.

Final Grade:  Two Stars

The Truth about Mr. Darcy

My favorite book of all time is Pride and Prejudice and I really enjoy reading variations and sequels based on the book. When I bought this book in 2011, I was really excited to read it. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. I will try to read something else by the author, but this book wasn't for me.

Title:  The Truth about Mr. Darcy

Author:  Susan Adriani

Pages:  443

Year Published:  2011

Genre:  Romance

New or Repeat: New

Opening Line:  She came to him late one night as he sat reading in the quiet solitude of Netherfield’s library, the delicate scent of lavender preceding her lovely form.

Quick Summary:  This variation on the much-loved Pride and Prejudice finds Mr. Darcy telling the truth about George Wickham while still in Meryton. Elizabeth becomes aware of his affection for her and the story proceeds from there. Wickham is even more evil in this version.

My Opinion:  I am an avid Jane Austen variation fan, so I was excited to try a new author. To be honest, I liked the beginning, but about halfway through the book, it just kept dragging and dragging. I think the basic storyline could be good, but it needed to be edited down to about half the size. I finally got to the point I couldn't finish it. Overall, this struck me as a good story for a fanfiction site, but not as a published novel.

Favorite Character:  Elizabeth Bennet

Least Favorite Character:  George Wickham

Favorite Quote:  couldn’t find one

Ending Line:  Darcy took great pleasure in enlightening him.

Would I See the Movie?  No

Did I Like It?  No

Final Grade:  One Star