Friday, February 27, 2009

REVIEW: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Peter Pan cover
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Pub Date: February 2007, B&N Classics
Format: Hardcover, 159 pages.
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan first flew across a London stage in 1904, overwhelming audiences with its tale of a magical boy who never grows up, who lures young Wendy and her brothers to Neverland where they meet pirates, Indians, fairies, and the Lost Boys. Following the play's astonishing success, Barrie revised and expanded the story and published it as this novel, originally titled Peter and Wendy when it appeared in 1911.
For children, Peter Pan remains a marvelous mix of fantasy and adventure, featuring unique, imaginative characters, who frisk and frolic in an enchanting land. For adults, the story of Peter and the Lost Boys works on a much deeper level, speaking to them about the inevitable loss of childhood and the ability "to fly." The climactic duel between the "proud and insolent youth" (Peter Pan) and the "dark and sinister man" (Captain Hook) is both a swashbuckling romp and a moving metaphor for the complex, poignant struggle between innocent but irresponsible youth and tainted but dependable maturity. Neither side wins, for the one inevitably becomes the other. Of course, the ageless Peter Pan is the happy exception.


First off, I guess I have to be honest and say that until reading this book (for the first time!) my only impressions of Peter Pan were formed by the Disney movie. After reading the book, I have to say that Disney did stay rather true to the story, though adapted it to be more suitable for children.

Interestingly enough, there are some rather dark and sinister bits and pieces throughout this short novel. Peter Pan is a bit more bloodthirsty than I think he was portrayed in the animated movie. And Captain Hook is certainly a much more violent character as written by Barrie--you never knew when he would tear one of his men with his hook! Another thing I found interesting, is that while the book is rather amusing and comical at points, there is a real sadness (a life without a mother's love) underlying the humor. One thing to note about Peter Pan--he is one cocky little boy! I actually found myself growing annoyed with him as I read the book and rolling my eyes from time to time when he had a tendency to be more obnoxious. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book--it is quite entertaining, though the last chapter is bittersweet. Barrie's writing is humorous and quick to read, once you get used to the language of that time period. I felt myself swept right up into the story, and even though I knew it wasn't meant to be, there was still a part of me that kept hoping for Wendy to stay with Peter forever.

I also thought that this particular edition was helpful, because it offered a great deal of biographical information on Barrie, in addition to helpful footnotes throughout. When you read more about J. M. Barrie's childhood, you really understand how he could have created this story, and indeed, it makes the story that much more poignant.

 5 stars

Other reviews of Peter Pan:


Friday Finds

FridayFinds One thing I'm finding (I'm sorry, terrible pun) is that I enjoy participating in the various daily memes that are out there in the book blogging community. Today's Friday Finds is no exception, but I'll spare everyone the full list of books I've added to my wish list this week, and just go with the handful that are at the top of that list.

Need coverI've read several good reviews about this book, so it went on my wish list pretty quickly.

North of Beautiful coverI think that one of the first reviews I read when I entered the book blogging world was for North of Beautiful. After reading several more, earlier this week I made it official and put it on my wish list.

Adoration of Jenna Fox coverThe Adoration of Jenna Fox sounded fascinating, and it's pretty different from most of the books I find myself reading. If there's one thing I want to do, it's branch out from the "same old."

Hunger Games cover

This title gets good reviews everywhere... in the blogging community,, All the more reason to add it to my TBR wishlist.

Well, that's a mere nibble from the stack of books I discovered this week. I can't wait to see what I find next week!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

REVIEW: Term Limits by Vince Flynn

Term Limits cover Genre: Political Thriller
Pub Date: 1997, Pocket Books
Format: Mass Market paperback, 612 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
In one bloody night, three of Washington's most powerful politicians are executed with surgical precision. Their assassins then deliver a shocking unltimatum to the American government: set aside partisan politics and restore power to the people. No one, they warn, is out of their reach--not even the president. A joint FBI-CIA task force reveals the killers are elite military commandos, but no one knows exactly who they are or when they will strike next. Only Michael O'Rourke, a former U.S. Marine and freshman congressman, holds a clue to the violence: a haunting incicdent in his own past with explosive implications for his country's future...


Term Limits is actually the first political thriller I've ever read. I have to admit that after a few pages into the book I immediately thought of Jack Bauer and 24. :-) (But it should be noted that we aren't dealing with foreign terrorism in this particular book.)

My sister-in-law introduced me to Vince Flynn after she received his latest novel as a Christmas present. After hearing what his subject matter was, and knowing how hooked on 24 I am, I thought I'd give Flynn a try and decided to start with his first novel. I was definitely not disappointed! While the storyline might be a little far-fetched, as the story unfolds you really start to wonder if something like this could ever happen in America. It's quite a hefty book, but I really had a hard time putting it down when I had to do other things... Flynn's writing is fast-paced and more than once I found my heart pounding as certain key events took place. If taken too seriously, it doesn't make you feel particularly good about our government or its many agencies and politicians, though there are (thankfully) a few exceptions. But in the context of a fictional work, I was really impressed with the level of detail provided, not to mention the fact that it was a fast-paced, attention-grabbing read for a 600+ page book. Oh, and just when you think the story's got to end, it gets interesting in a hurry... But that's all I'll say on that subject!

 5 stars

BTT - Collectibles

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:

~ Hardcover? Or paperback?
~ Illustrations? Or just text?
~ First editions? Or you don’t care?
~ Signed by the author? Or not?

If I could afford to buy every book in hardcover, I would. At this point, I've limited myself to a few select series to try to collect in hardback. For example, Harry Potter, B&N Classics, The Twilight Saga, and Mary Higgins Clark mysteries are among those I try to collect in hardcover. In some instances, it's because I first started buying the books in hardcover and I'm just anal enough to want the entire collection to remain that way, in others it's because I can easily find used or bargain copies in hardcover. In a few cases, I've bought hardcover omnibus editions to replace (or instead of) paperbacks. I'd say the majority of my books are paperbacks, but I've been fortunate to collect quite a few hardcovers along the way.

I don't really care one way or another about illustrations. Put it this way--I don't go out of my way to buy books that DO have illustrations. And since I don't read too many (any) children's books, I don't have too many books that do have much in the way of illustrations.

As for the edition of the book, I haven't gotten too caught up in that. I buy the books more for the story than for the collectability anyway.

And lastly, I think I only have one book that is signed by an author--A National Party No More by Zell Miller. When I used to work for B&N College Bookstores at Georgia Tech, he did a signing at our store so I picked up a copy for myself and one for my grandparents. I used to have another book that was signed, but it was one I never read and knew I never would (and therefore will remain unnamed), so I ended up giving it away to someone who would value it more than I would.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday

I thought I'd participate in "Waiting On" Wednesday this week, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. There are a few titles whose release dates I'm anxiously anticipating, and here are a couple at the top of the list...
7th Heaven coverI'm ready for the paperback edition to come out already! Sadly I still have to wait until April 7th. (I know the 8th book will be hot on the heels of it, too!) I've actually held off on reading #7 until the paperback comes out. I've had so many other books on my plate that it wasn't that hard, but I'm ready to read some more about the Women's Murder Club!

Angels Blood coverI've also read several good things on a couple of blogs about this title (and author), due out March 3rd. Fortunately my wait won't be too much longer!

I hope to write another review in the next couple of days as well. Term Limits is proving to be very exciting and I'm looking forward to blogging about it in a bit more detail soon! The action has certainly gotten my heart pounding on more than one occasion! I'm a little over halfway through, but we're talking about a 600+ page novel, so I've still got a ways to go.

I also hope none of my regulars was thrown off by the slight change in my blog layout. I got tired of how busy 3 columns looked, so I went back to two, but with the same width of the three-column layout. I think this will look a little better and less junky (hopefully).

Happy Hump Day, everyone! :-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Giveaway on Carrie Ryan's Blog!!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth cover
Just thought I'd help spread the word about the giveaway going on at Carrie Ryan's blog. She's giving away a few copies of her new book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which will be released in a couple of weeks. It sounds great and even if I don't win a copy, I'm planning to pick one up when it's out. So, best of luck for those of you who decide to enter! :-) (The winner will be chosen at midnight on Wednesday, 2/25--that's tomorrow!!)

Teaser Tuesdays...

Sorry I wasn't on much yesterday. Mondays are always busier for me, with less time to be online reading my favorite blogs! But I thought I'd participate in this week's "Teaser Tuesday."

TeaserTuesdaysTeaser Tuesdays asks you to:

~Grab your current read.
~Let the book fall open to a random page.
~Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
~You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
~Please avoid spoilers!

So here's mine--I thought it turned out to be a pretty good one. :-)

"All four of the deceased had stated in their wills that they were to be buried in their home states. With the obvious security issues arising from the string of assassinations, it was decided that it would be best to have Basset join his three fallen comrades rather than have a separate ceremony in two days."

These lines are from Vince Flynn's first book, Term Limits. It's the first time I've read this author and I'm only about 60-70 pages into the book so far, but it's got me hooked!

Monday, February 23, 2009

by Agatha Christie

Well, I haven't seen anyone else devote Mondays to mysteries, but I also haven't been around long enough to have crossed paths will all the book blogs out there. At any rate, I'm choosing to start "Mystery Mondays" on my blog, and I'm kicking it off with a book review. Some Mondays I might ask questions and generate discussion or run a contest--I'm going to see where this takes me.

I don't know about y'all (showing my Southern origins there), but I LOVE to read mysteries. I have to confess that I've only just recently gotten better at figuring out "whodunnit," though. One of my favorite mystery authors is Agatha Christie. It had been YEARS since I picked up one of her books, but recently I've started collecting the hardcover reprints like the one pictured below--B&N almost always has some that are bargain-priced. Anyway, my favorite of Christie's detectives is Hercule Poirot, who we'll see in this book. So without further ado, here's my review!

Sad Cypress coverSeries: Hercule Poirot #21
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: 2007 (Reprint), Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
Format: Hardcover, 271 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Beautiful, young Elinor Carlisle stands serenely in the dock accused of the murder of Mary Gerrard, her rival in love. The evidence is damning: only Elinor had the motive, the opportunity and the means to administer the fatal poison. Yet, inside the hostile courtroom, one man still presumes Elinor is innocent until proven guilty; Hercule Poirot is all that stands between Elinor and the gallows....


I enjoyed this mystery--for me, Agatha Christie is an easier read, but also enjoyable because of her portrayal of her characters, and most particularly her detectives. She also has a tendency to be very subtle when leaving her clues. I often find myself pausing over the most trivial bits of information, wondering if there's more to them than the first glance would suggest. And then you have the famous Hercule Poirot, of the egg-shaped head and abundant "little gray cells," who is always an amusing character. In this story, the evidence is so stacked against Elinor, that you really wonder how in the world Poirot will find anything that suggests she might indeed be innocent. Christie has a knack of making you feel that way in most of her mysteries--all the evidence will point towards one person and then before you know it Hercule Poirot discovers the truth! This was one of those mysteries where I actually did figure out who it was, but even then Christie manages to throw in a twist to the story.

If you're looking for a relatively quick read and an engaging mystery, this is a good one to pick up!

 5 stars

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Piles and Piles of Books

Oh my goodness... So many books to read, so little time! I've spent a good bit of time this weekend catching up on blogs in my reader, since I've subscribed to so many over the last few days. I've added so many books to my reading list, it's crazy! So I thought I'd share what I have coming up on my list.

TBR (these are books I currently have waiting for me to open them and devour the pages):
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Sookie Stackhouse Boxed Set (7 books) by Charlaine Harris
Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
Guilty by Ann Coulter
Simple Genius by David Baldacci
False Impressions by Jeffrey Archer
Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark
The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Aesop's Fables

Thanks to Dar for reminding me not to forget my Classics Challenge titles--a small oversight on my part! :-)

Books I Want To Get My Hands On (thanks to all the blogs I've been reading):
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Lord Loss (Demonata Book 1) by Darren Shan
Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Vampire Academy (Book 1) by Richelle Mead
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
The Banishment by Marion Chesney
Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Solarz
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Need by Carrie Jones
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Angels' Blood (due out 3/3/09) by Nalini Singh
Bitten (Women of the Otherworld Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong
The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Phew! And I'm sure I've probably forgotten books, not to mention the fact that if I get hooked on some of these that are first in a series, my list will grow exponentially!

Anyway, I'd just like to thank all the bloggers out there whose posts I've enjoyed, and who've welcomed me so warmly into the book blogging community. I already feel right at home and look forward to getting to know you all better!

Classics Challenge 2009

ClassicsChallengeButtonWell, I've barely made a dent in my 100+ Reading Challenge and I've already decided to do another one, the Classics Challenge of 2009. I ran into this one on Dar's blog, Peeking Between The Pages, but the challenge is actually being hosted by Trish at Trish's Reading Nook. The challenge will run from April 1 - October 31, 2009.

I own many classics, thanks to B&N reprinting them--I love the hardcover editions! I've read most of them, but there are a handful I haven't gotten to, and one or two I'd like to re-read.

I've chosen my books, and was totally embarrassed to discover how many classics I had that I hadn't even read yet. It was more than a handful because I ended up choosing 6 titles that I've yet to crack the spine. I guess I'd forgotten just how many of these I had stocked up on when they were doing a classics sale. Anyway, here are my six choices:

Picture of Classics to read
So we've got Aesop's Fables, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's quite a list but I tried to throw in a couple of titles that might prove to be easier reads and therefore make the goal pretty reachable. But I still have at least 2-3 other classics I haven't read beyond even these! Clearly I need to get to work...

But back to the contest. As you'll see when you check out Trish's page, you can choose from 3 levels--reading 4, 5 or 6 classics. I'm going to aim high and see if I can make it!

Working my way to the "Classics Feast":
1. Peter Pan - finished 2/27/09<---OK, apparently I can't read the rules and I completely overlooked the fact that the challenge doesn't start until April 1. So Peter Pan will be my warm-up...
3. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells - finished 7/31/09
4. (Classics Snack)
5. (Classics Entree)
6. (Classics Feast)
7. (Making up for reading Peter Pan a bit too early.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I SO want one of these :-)

Slanket picture
So I stumbled across a blog that was promoting a slanket giveaway on ANOTHER blog and I figured I'd get out the word about the giveaway, too--it's on Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

OK, it gives me 10 additional entries in the contest, I can't help it! :-) But I had to laugh when I came across the giveaway because I had JUST decided the other day that regardless of whether or not people might laugh at me, I really, really want one (or the other version I've seen, the Snuggie)! We currently have a couple of microfiber blankets, but neither one is long enough to keep me fully toasty while I'm snuggled up on the couch (reading, of course).

So, I thought I'd be nice and give you all a chance to enter the contest, too. Good luck! :-)

100+ Reading Challenge

100+ChallengeButtonSo I chose this one as my first challenge to participate in... J. Kaye's blog hosts many challenges and I thought this was one I could actually complete, since it falls across a wide range of genres. If you'd like to give it a try, the post about the challenge is here. Assuming I can already include titles I've read this year before posting this blog, I'm already off to a pretty good start, but I'll need to pick up the pace a little bit. I've got about 20 books in my TBR pile so hopefully I'll make a good dent in this list in the next few weeks!

2009 - 100+ Reading Challenge List (please click on any linked entries to read my review):
1. Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks (completed 01/09)
2. Tanequil by Terry Brooks (completed 01/09)
3. Straken by Terry Brooks (completed 01/09)
4. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (completed 01/09)
5. Culture Warrior by Bill O'Reilly (completed 02/13/09)
7. Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (completed 02/22/09)
8. Term Limits by Vince Flynn (completed 2/26/09)
9. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (completed 2/27/09)
11. The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy (completed 3/2/09)
15. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (completed 3/12/09)
18. At Risk by Patricia Cornwell (completed 3/14/09)
20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (completed 3/17/09)
21. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (completed 3/18/09)
22. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (completed 3/23/09)
23. Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan (completed 3/25/09)
24. Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg (completed 3/29/09)
25. The Host by Stephenie Meyer (completed 4/2/09)
26. Sin & Vengeance by CJ West (completed 4/4/09)
27. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (completed 4/6/09)
28. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (completed 4/7/09)
30. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (completed 4/15/09)
31. Deadly Exchange by Geoffrey Gluckman (completed 4/18/09)
34. A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman (completed 4/26/09)
35. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (completed 4/29/09)
36. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (completed 5/1/09)
37. Willow by Julia Hoban (completed 5/3/09)
38. Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett (completed 5/4/09)
40. A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman (completed 5/10/09)
42. Need by Carrie Jones (completed 5/12/09)
43. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (completed 5/13/09)
44. Sophie's Dilemma by Lauraine Snelling (completed 5/14/09)
45. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder (completed 5/16/09)
46. Naked In Death by J. D. Robb (completed 5/18/09)
47. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (completed 5/19/09)
48. Frostbite by Richelle Mead (completed 5/20/09)
49. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (completed 5/21/09)
50. Dreamstone by P.A. Hendrickson (completed 5/25/09)
51. Wings by Aprilynne Pike (completed 5/26/09)
52. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (completed 5/27/09)
54. Foundling by D. M. Cornish (completed 5/30/09)
55. A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman (completed 5/31/09)
56. The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb (completed 6/3/09)
57. Marked by P. C. & Kristin Cast (completed 6/4/09)
58. Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder (completed 6/5/09)
59. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (completed 6/7/09)
60. For Glory by Elisabeth Lee (completed 6/8/09)
61. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (completed 6/10/09)
62. Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland (completed 6/13/09)
63. Priceless Memories by Bob Barker (Audio Book) (completed 6/15/09)
64. The Jewel of Gresham Green by Lawana Blackwell (completed 6/18/09)
65. That Summer by Sarah Dessen (completed 6/19/09)
66. Boston Scream Pie by Rosemary & Larry Mild (completed 6/21/09)
67. The Manning Brides by Debbie Macomber (completed 6/23/09)
68. T'aragam by Jack W. Regan (completed 6/25/09)
69. Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander (completed 6/27/09)
71. After The Fire by Belva Plain (completed 7/4/09)
72. 7th Heaven by James Patterson (completed 7/5/09)
73. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (completed 7/7/09)
74. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (completed 7/9/09)
75. The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby (completed 7/11/09)
76. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (completed 7/12/09)
77. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (completed 7/13/09)
78. Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham (completed 7/16/09)
79. Keeping The Moon by Sarah Dessen (completed 7/17/09)
80. A Deadly Habit by Andrea Sisco (completed 7/19/09)
81. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (completed 7/22/09)
82. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist (completed 7/24/09)
83. The Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Baron (completed 7/26/09)
85. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi (completed 7/30/09)
86. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (completed 7/31/09)
87. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (completed 8/1/09)
88. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (completed 8/8/09)
89. Wormwood by G. P. Taylor (audiobook) (completed 8/11/09)
90. Fade To Blue by Sean Beaudoin (completed 8/15/09)
91. 8th Confession by James Patterson (audiobook) (completed 8/17/09)
92. Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch (completed 8/19/09)
93. Fire by Kristin Cashore (completed 8/24/09)
94. Paranoia by Joseph Finder (audiobook) (completed 8/27/09)
95. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (completed 8/29/09)
96. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (completed 9/4/09)
99. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead (completed 9/13/09)
100. Ripley's Believe it or Not! Seeing Is Believing (completed 9/17/09)
101. The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald (completed 9/20/09)
102. The Civilization Loop by Jason R. Thrift (completed 9/21/09)
103. Cat & Mouse by James Patterson (audiobook) (completed 10/3/09)
104. The Victor by Marlayne Giron (completed 10/25/09)
105. Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank (completed 10/31/09)
106. Nibble & Kuhn by David Schahmann (completed 11/15/09)
107. Thanksgiving at the Inn by Timothy Whitney (completed 11/29/09)
108. Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis (completed 12/1/09)
109. The Stolen Moon of Londor by A. P. Stephens (audiobook) (completed 12/6/09)
110. Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (completed 12/26/09)
111. Evernight by Claudia Gray (completed 12/28/09)
112. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong (completed 12/30/09)
113. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (completed 12/31/09)

Book Giveaway Carnival: March 2 - 8

Though still a book-blogging newbie, I've decided that I want to participate in this year's Book Giveaway Carnival hosted by Tracy at Bookroom Reviews. I've seen buttons and blogs for it everywhere and I couldn't think of a better way to really jump into the world of book blogging contests. The fun starts March 2nd and runs through March 8th. If you'd like to participate, too, you can find more information here.

In the meantime, I'll be thinking of a great giveaway--I still haven't decided!

Please remember to check back on March 2nd for my giveaway post, as well as a link to many other giveaways!

Friday, February 20, 2009

REVIEW: The Shack by William P. Young

The Shack cover
Genre: Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: 2007, Windblown Media
Format: Trade Paperback, 248 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!


Somehow I missed out on the initial wave of praise for this title--most likely because I had a lot going on that didn't involve reading when this book came out. (I was planning a wedding!) Fortunately a friend from my "life blog" recommended this to me, and though I am sometimes skeptical of books that are "all the rage" (I didn't read any Harry Potter books until well after the 4th one had been published), I decided to give this one a try, and I'm glad I did.

First and foremost, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. Obviously we all have our own beliefs about God, so some of the ideas may hit us each differently. Did I agree with the way every idea and assumption about God was presented? No, but I also found some new insights and did appreciate many of Young's ideas he set forth in this book. Most importantly, it's a story that, while it takes you through the agonies a man experiences after losing a child, it also brings you to appreciate God's ultimate (if sometimes hard-to-see) goodness. Mack's experience and transformation are moving, and the story is told in a way that keeps you turning the pages even though you should be turning out the light to go to sleep. I enjoy books that provoke further thought, and for me The Shack was one of those.

 4 stars

Other reviews of The Shack (please let me know if you'd like me to add a link to yours!):
Kristina's Favorites
Reading in Appalachia
Peeking Between the Pages
The Book Zombie

Thursday, February 19, 2009

REVIEW: The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall

Nightfall cover Series: The Vampire Diaries: The Return
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: 2009, Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover, 592 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Elena Gilbert is alive—again.

When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.

Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What's more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.
Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with. . . .

But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena's blood but her death.


So here we have it, my first book review on my new blog!

Needless to say, for those of us who read L. J. Smith's novels as teenagers, her latest book is long overdue. (In all honesty, her loyal readers are probably MOST anxiously awaiting Strange Fate, the culminating novel of the Night World series. I know I am.)

I'm not ashamed to admit that I will still read young adult fiction, though at the time of writing this, there are only a few authors that I still enjoy. L. J. Smith is one of them--I have read and re-read her books many times, as the creases in the paperback bindings will attest. I always preferred Smith to the other popular teen horror writers of the day, Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine. I guess deep down I wasn't as into the gore and raunchiness that were prevalent in those authors' books. L. J. Smith was able to tell a supernatural story while keeping it relatively clean. What can I say? I'll take a good quality story over a dirty, sensational one any day!

I think most of you who've read the series and this book will agree that the latest novel is a bit of a departure from Smith's earlier writings. For one thing, it actually is a lot creepier and a tad bit more risque than its predecessors. The fifth book in this series picks up where the last left off, though admittedly this book was written over 15 years later! We see the return of Elena, once the queen of her high school, turned vampire, turned "angel," now brought back to life. And of course, her main group of friends is back to support her: sweet, shy, psychic Bonnie; the perceptive and strong Meredith, and All-American boy Matt. Oh yeah, and Elena's vampire boyfriend Stefan and his older, more obnoxious brother, Damon, who also happens to be a vampire.

I've seen a lot of complaints that the central characters are just shadows of their former selves, but I really don't think this is true. Their basic characteristics are still there, but they've simply grown as a result of all they went through in the first four books. I will admit that Damon is more of a departure from his original character--he's more obnoxious than he ever was in the previous books (regardless of whether or not he was possessed throughout most of this one). I rather hope the possession had more to do with his unusually snippy and immature remarks as opposed to Smith developing his character in this direction. But again, I feel it bears mentioning that this book was written many years after the first four. We need to allow the author some room to grow and change, right?

By the time I finished this book, I decided that I liked it, but at the same time I found a few things to dislike, or at least puzzle over. For one thing, the storyline is hard to follow. It's as if after all this time away from writing, L. J. Smith is trying too hard to fit into today's YA audience. She certainly packed the book with strange (and scary) events, but failed to really transition this reader through the events with some necessary explanations and details. Perhaps all of her thoughts just didn't make it to paper. Honestly, I felt that some of the ideas came out of nowhere. I've also read reviews that note Smith's obvious dabbling with anime in this book, but as I have never picked up the first piece of anime, I couldn't attest to this at all. My (very uninformed) impressions of anime are that of cheesiness, and I will say that there is a definite cheese-factor to this book. When I re-read the older novels, I was prepared to find them sadly outdated (read: cheesy) but in the end I feel like her newest book actually takes that "prize." Stefan's sickly sweet little nicknames for Elena just don't feel natural. And Elena's various powers that come in the form of "Wings" just don't feel like they fit in with the series, either. Also coming from out of nowhere are the two antagonists: Shinichi and Misao, a pair of kitsunes. (As Smith helpfully writes in the book, that word is pronounced kit-su-nays.) After dealing with vampires out of Italy it felt strange to be fighting a pair of magical Japanese "fox-demons."

As negative as all that sounds, I think there is a lot of potential for the remaining books in the series. My understanding is that they will all focus more on Damon and Elena's relationship with him, making me wonder if she won't ultimately end up with him instead of Stefan. Only time will tell. Indeed, Stefan was not in this story much at all, but I don't want to write too much and give anything away. Suffice it to say that I'm definitely curious to see L. J. Smith grow as a writer. After such a long drought without her books, it's easy to want to draw negative comparisons between her newest work and what I loved growing up, but I'm trying to remain objective and open-minded about the direction she's heading. I'm already planning to revisit Nightfall in a few weeks to see if I have an easier time following the story the second time around. If it's worth another mention in my blog, you know you'll hear about it.

 3 stars

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Last Updated September 22, 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review List: Authors A - Z

Alexander, Tamera - Beyond This Moment
Allen, Sarah Addison - Garden Spells
Allen, Sarah Addison - The Girl Who Chased The Moon
Allen, Sarah Addison - The Sugar Queen
Armstrong, Kelley - The Awakening (Darkest Powers #2)
Armstrong, Kelley - The Reckoning (Darkest Powers #3)
Armstrong, Kelley - The Summoning (Darkest Powers #1)

Barker, Bob - Priceless Memories (audiobook)
Baron, T. A. - The Lost Years of Merlin
Barrett, Lorna - Murder Is Binding 
Barrie, J. M. - Peter Pan 
Barzak, Christopher - The Love We Share Without Knowing
Beaudoin, Sean - Fade to Blue 
Binchy, Maeve - The Return Journey
Black, Holly - Tithe
Blackwell, Lawana - The Jewel of Gresham Green 
Blank, Jessica - Karma for Beginners 
Brendan, Maggie - No Place For A Lady
Brennan, Herbie - Faerie Wars

Cabot, Amanda - Paper Roses
Carmon, Haggai - The Chameleon Conspiracy
Cashore, Kristin - Graceling
Cashore, Kristin - Fire
Cast, P. C. & Kristin - Marked
Challis, Joanna - Murder on the Cliffs  
Christie, Agatha - Appointment With Death 
Christie, Agatha - Murder In Mesopotamia 
Christie, Agatha - Sad Cypress 
Clare, Cassandra - City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2) 
Clare, Cassandra - City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1) 
Clare, Cassandra - City of Glass (Mortal Instruments #3) 
Clare, Cassandra - Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices #1)
Clark, Mary Higgins - Where Are You Now? 
Cohen, Brian - The Life O'Reilly
Collins, Suzanne - Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)  
Collins, Suzanne - The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1)
Collins, Suzanne - Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3)
Cooper, Susan - Victory
Cornish, D. M. - Foundling 
Cornwell, Patricia - At Risk

Dee, Barbara - This is Me from Now On
Denham, Holly - Holly's Inbox
Dessen, Sarah - Dreamland
Dessen, Sarah - Just Listen
Dessen, Sarah - Keeping The Moon
Dessen, Sarah - Someone Like You
Dessen, Sarah - That Summer
Dessen, Sarah - The Truth About Forever
Douglas, David - Demon's Bane

Etzioni-Halevy, Eva - The Triumph of Deborah

Finder, Joseph - Paranoia (audiobook) 
Fisher, Catherine - Incarceron (Incarceron #1)
Flower, Amanda - Maid of Murder
Flynn, Vince - Term Limits
Fullerton, Jackie - Revenge Served Cold


George, Jessica Day - Dragon Flight (Dragon Adventures #2)
George, Jessica Day - Dragon Slippers (Dragon Adventures #1)
Gist, Deeanne - A Bride in the Bargain
Gist, Deeanne - A Bride Most Begrudging
Giron, Marlayne - The Victor 
Gluckman, Geoffrey - Deadly Exchange 
Goolrick, Robert - A Reliable Wife 
Grandhi, Preetham - A Circle of Souls
Grant, Michael - Gone (Gone #1)
Grant, Michael - Hunger (Gone #2)
Grant, MIchael - Lies (Gone #3)
Gray, Claudia - Evernight (Evernight #1)
Gray, Claudia - Hourglass (Evernight #3)
Gray, Claudia - Stargazer (Evernight #2) 

Harris, Charlaine - Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #3)
Harris, Charlaine - Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1)
Harris, Charlaine-Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse #2) 
Harris, Rosemary - Pushing Up Daisies
Headley, Justina Chen - North of Beautiful
Hendrickson, P.A. - Dreamstone 
Heyer, Georgette - Detection Unlimited 
Heyer, Georgette - Why Shoot a Butler? 
Hoban, Julia - Willow 
Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas - The Crimes of Paris
Hoover, Karen E. - The Armor of Light (Wolfchild Saga #2)
Hoover, Karen E. - The Sapphire Flute (Wolfchild Saga #1)


Jenoff, Pam - Almost Home
Jones, Carrie - Need

Kilpack, Josi S. - Banana Split
Kinberg, Margot - Publish or Perish
Kurland, Lynn - Star of the Morning (Nine Kingdoms #1)

Lee, Elisabeth - For Glory
LeGuin, Ursula K. - A Wizard of Earthsea (audiobook)
Lessman, Julie - A Passion Denied 
Lessman, Julie - A Passion Most Pure
Lessman, Julie - A Passion Redeemed
Libby, Alisa M. - The King's Rose

Macomber, Debbie - The Manning Brides
Mantchev, Lisa - Eyes Like Stars (ELS #1)
Mantchev, Lisa - Perchance to Dream (ELS #2)
Marr, Melissa - Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely #3)
Marr, Melissa - Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely #2)
Marr, Melissa - Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely #4)
Marr, Melissa - Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely #1)
McDonald, Abby - The Popularity Rules
McQuestion, Karen - A Scattered Life
Mead, Richelle - Blood Promise (VA #4)
Mead, Richelle - Frostbite (VA #2)
Mead, Richelle - Shadow Kiss (VA #3)
Mead, Richelle - Spirit Bound (VA #5)
Mead, Richelle - Storm Born (Dark Swan #1)
Mead, Richelle - Vampire Academy (VA #1)
Meyer, Stephenie - The Host
Meyer, Stephanie - The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Mild, Rosemary and Larry - Boston Scream Pie

Neal, Toby - Blood Orchids
Nicholson, Scott - The Skull Ring
Nix, Garth - Mister Monday

O'Rourke, Sally Smith - The Maidenstone Lighthouse

Patterson, James - 7th Heaven
Patterson, James - 8th Confession (audiobook)
Patterson, James - Beach Road (audiobook)
Patterson, James - Cat & Mouse (audiobook)
Pearson, Mary E. - The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Pike, Aprilynne - Spells (Wings #2)
Pike, Aprilynne - Wings (Wings #1)
Plain, Belva - After The Fire



Schmahmann, David - Nibble & Kuhn
Scotch, Allison Winn - Time of My Life
Sisco, Andrea - A Deadly Habit
Smith, L. J. - The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls (#2)
Snelling, Lauraine - Sophie's Dilemma (Daughters of Blessing #2)
Snyder, Maria V. - Fire Study (Study series #3)
Snyder, Maria V. - Magic Study (Study series #2)
Snyder, Maria V. - Poison Study (Study series #1)
Snyder, Maria V. - Sea Glass (Glass series #2
Snyder, Maria V. - Storm Glass (Glass series #1)
 Stephens, A. P. - The Stolen Moon of Londor (audiobook)
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stiefvater, Maggie - Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls #2)
Stiefvater, Maggie - Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1)

Taylor, G. P. - Wormwood
Thrift, Jason R. - Beyond the Loop (Loop Series #2)
Thrift, Jason R. - The Civilization Loop (Loop Series #1)


Vincent, Rachel - My Soul To Take

Wells, H. G. - The Time Machine 
West, C. J. - Sin & Vengeance
Westerfield, Scott - Extras (Uglies #4)
Westerfeld, Scott - Pretties (Uglies #2)
Westerfield, Scott - Specials (Uglies #3)
Westerfeld, Scott - Uglies (Uglies #1)
Whitcomb, Laura - The Fetch
Whitney, Timothy - Thanksgiving at the Inn


Young, William P. - The Shack

Zink, Michelle - Guardian of the Gate (Prophecy of the Sisters #2)
Zink, Michelle - The Prophecy of the Sisters

**Last Updated 4/23/12