Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NOVEL GLIMPSES (2)--BY FIRE, BY WATER, THE SWORD OF SHANNARA, AND OTHERS

Novel Glimpses is my feature for mini-reviews...really just a fancy name for them! The only difference than with my traditional mini-reviews is that I will include my goodreads rating, something I do not do with my regular reviews. Feel free to participate...just credit me and link back if you do. (The titles are linked back to goodreads, if you would like to read the book description).

I'm so behind on reviews so a couple of these are way overdue...sorry!

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
finished reading on January 22, 2011

My goodreads rating:  4 stars
The glimpse:  Never have I been more thankful to live in a time...and country...where a person is free to practice any religion without fear of persecution than after reading this book.  The horrors and intricacies of religious persecution during the Inquisition in 15th century Spain chills the blood.  Kaplan shows us two sides of the Jewish faith.  One, an intelligent and determined woman who is sure and proud of her religious identity.  Another, a powerful man whose Jewish heritage he has so carefully tried to conceal.  As in any story where oppression occurs, bad things start to happen to good people and there is betrayal and loss.  Kaplan has crafted characters with depth and an interesting and heartbreaking account that any lover of historical fiction will be sure to enjoy.  Beyond enjoyment, this book also forces us to think about what we would do...what would we give up...for our religious freedom. 

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
finished reading on February 28, 2011

My goodreads rating:  4 stars
The glimpse:  I have wanted to read this book for a long time, as I'm a fan of Terry Brooks's Magic Kingdom of Landover series.  A special thanks to my long suffering friend, Heather (Between the Covers), who faithfully chatted with me on Twitter every Tuesday night, only to discover that I was never prepared.  It has been awhile since I've read high fantasy (last was Lord of the Rings over six years ago) so I had a hard time with this at first.  And when I started reading, all I could think of were the parallels to LOTR...and there are similarities.  The group on a quest for an object, in this case, a sword.  An elf-like character who is the one person who must retrieve the object.  A sniveling, Gollum-like gnome that treats the Sword of Shannara like his 'precious'.  I could go on, but I will not because I'm pretty sure a lot of fantasy emulates LOTR...and what's not to emulate, right?  But Shannara is excellent in its own right.  The premise I really enjoyed.  The fact that this world comes about hundreds of years after the destruction of the world as we know it.  Our world in the future becomes a land of shires with elves, gnomes, trolls and other creatures.  Instead of the fear of technology (which was what destroyed our world in this case), magic is now center stage and evil magic is what is being fought to vanquish.  So, an interesting concept and the book has a strong message of good and evil and finding goodness in people and the world.  One thing that disturbed me (and that I'm sure will disturb you as well, my bookish friends) is this little snippet:  "It was the personal library of the Buckhannah family, a luxury in these times when so few books were written and dissemination was considerably limited.  The Great Wars had nearly obliterated literature from the face of the earth, and little had been written in the embattled, desperate years since."  Okay now, this is a future I would not be too fond of!  (this review was a little more than a 'glimpse'...I apologize!)

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
finished reading on January 6, 2011

My goodreads rating:  4 stars
The glimpse:  My first foray into the wonderful Regency world created by Ms. Willig and I was not disappointed.  I actually started reading this in the new year (my Christmas reading challenge lasted until the 6th).  I like to keep Christmas as long as I can. *L*  But more than being a Christmas story, Mischief is a delightful little mystery with the dashing (dare I say) and whimsical Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh.  The involvement of secret messages in Christmas puddings was great fun and the light romance is just something so lovely that us Jane Austen fans adore.  And Jane is even a character in the book...that pretty much seals the deal for me.  I will definitely be adding the rest of Willig's Pink Carnation series to my personal library.  Great reads and gorgeous covers! I mean look at this cover...to die for!

The Dinosaur Hunter by Homer Hickam (audio book)
finished listening February 2011

My goodreads rating:  3 stars
The glimpse:  I'm not even sure if I should have given this three stars.  It started off really good and interesting.  I mean I love anything to do with dinosaur digs and this had a mystery of murdered cows and bulls along with it.  But unlike Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston, an excellent thriller, this book just goes south really fast.  It becomes overtly corny and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's corny.  The reader, Michael Kramer, was pretty good with the reading and accents, but he could not save the story.

4 comments:

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  1. I can't imagine coming to the Pink Carnation books at this point. Part of the fun is knowing all about Turnip's past! You will have a treat when you go back to the beginning.

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  2. Hahaha! I am definitely a friend, but I'm definitely not suffering, Michelle. I'm so glad you finally finished reading it, though! I haven't started the next book in the series, yet, as I have a bunch of other books I'd like to get to first. Good mini-reviews.

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  3. Great style :) These were fun to read.

    I need to read Mistletoe but I'm holding out for next Christmas :)

    Can you believe I already have 3 Christmas reads set aside for next Christmas?

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  4. Sounds like I need to get my hands on By Fire, By Water. I love historical fiction that really makes me happy to live when I do!

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