Category Archives: A+

Le Silence de la Mer

par Vercors (Jean Bruller), 1942

Published covertly in Nazi-occupied France, this was a publication for the French people, a sort of “guide for la Resistance” to this country still dazed and reeling from the invasion.  There were underground publications of newspapers going on, but Vercors approached a publisher to do this larger project.  It is a short story, only 50 pages, but still very good and with psychological depth in its intricacies of symbolism and character interactions, as well as an inspiring greater message.

The story enfolds as two lower soldiers examine the narrator’s house.  Several comings and goings later a soldier tells the man and his niece that there will be an officer staying in their house.  When they meet him he is actually fluent in French and very polite.  Still, neither the niece nor the narrator utter a word or even acknowledge him.  This was the start of an unspoken agreement that they would continue their lives as usual as if he had never came. Continue reading

Ender’s Game

Ender's Game cover

by Orson Scott Card

Good book!  I’ve been on a sci-fi run lately, and they all surprise me with their ideas and points of view.  So thought-provoking, so intense.  I really enjoyed the Game and its intricacies, I couldn’t wait for their next match or to see how Ender would develop his leadership skills.  Although I did find the ages unrealistic.  Card writes that Ender is 6 when he is taken to battle school; the situation would be more feasible if he were 15.

I really like Card’s way of using omniscient voices.  In some stories such conventions leave me very confused and distracted, but in Ender’s Game, this extra tidbits have just the right effect.  It is well done indeed. Continue reading

Gossamer

Lois Lowry

Amazing. This is the 2nd fastest I’ve ever read a book, which means it is pretty darn good. It is so much better than the preview summary makes it out to be.

Stephenie Meyer said that there are two ways of writing, about Extraordinary characters in Ordinary circumstances or Ordinary characters in Extraordinary circumstances. That is like this book, the characters are so very extraordinary and the circumstances are so very common.
Another way one could look at this book is to say it is superb writing paired with a not-so-fantastical event, whereas I’ve read books with huge, fantastical events combined with poor writing.

Anyway, I’m trying to say that the writing was superb. The whole book felt like a dream. Littlest One was vividly described, and she was also the most dynamic character in the book.

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The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Excellent.  Hemingway takes you along on the journey of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who goes out to get fish to sustain life and ends up catching a leviathan merlin, a blessing and a curse.

A short classic full of emotion, power, and epic-ness.

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

I absolutely loved this book. I was slow to get into it, but that’s to be expected since it is written in a different style than I’m used to and it was an assigned book in English.

My favorite part was at the end when Sydney Carton meets the girl Charles Darnay had befriended. She instantly recognizes that he’s not Darnay, but they give each other comfort until the end, and Carton truly feels happy.

The author’s primary historical source was The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle: Dickens wrote in his Preface to Tale that “no one can hope to add anything to the philosophy of Mr. CARLYLE’S wonderful book”[11] Carlyle’s view that history cycles through destruction and resurrection was an important influence on the novel, illustrated especially well by the life and death of Sydney Carton.

~ From the Afterword of the Penguin Classics 2003 edition, cited from Wikpedia

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The Scarlet Pimpernel

Baroness Emmuska Orczy, 1905

Lovely!  Dashing and clever and heart-warming all in one small novel.

“Arguably the best adventure story ever published and certainly the most influential that appeared during the early decades of the twentieth century.”—Gary Hoppenstand

{ Summary adapted from Wikipedia:  During the bloodthirsty, early stages of the French Revolution, Marguerite St. Just, a beautiful Frenchwoman, is the wife of the wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney. Before their marriage, Marguerite had carelessly made comments that had the unintended consequence of sending a French aristocrat and his sons to the guillotine. When Percy found out, he became estranged from his wife, and Marguerite became disillusioned with Percy’s dandyish ways.

Meanwhile, the “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, a secret society of English aristocrats, is engaged in rescuing their French counterparts from the executions. Their leader, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, takes his nickname from the small red flower with which he signs his messages. Despite being the talk of London society, only his followers and possibly the Prince of Wales know the Pimpernel’s true identity. Like many others, Marguerite is entranced by the Pimpernel’s daring exploits.

At a ball attended by the Blakeneys, Marguerite is blackmailed by the wily new French envoy to England, Citizen Chauvelin. His agents have stolen a letter incriminating her beloved brother Armand, proving that he is in league with the Pimpernel. Chauvelin offers to trade Armand’s life for her help against the Pimpernel. She passes along information that enables Chauvelin to learn the Pimpernel’s true identity.

Later that night, Marguerite finally tells her husband of the terrible danger threatening her brother and pleads for his assistance. Percy promises to save him. After he leaves for France, Marguerite discovers to her horror that he is the Pimpernel. He had hidden behind the persona of a dull, slow-witted fop in order to deceive the world. He had not told Marguerite because of his worry that she might betray him, as she had others in the past. Desperate to save her love, she pursues Percy to France to try to warn him.

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