Category Archives: A-

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Verne

Jules Verne 1870

(Note: 1 league = 3.45 miles)

If you wanted to write a book about all the cool places in the ocean, and if you were a scientist who had studied the classifications of many hundreds of species, you would write this book. What better frame: a professor, curious about everything, who gets invited on a fantastic-al submarine voyage, where he studies both the enigma of Nemo and the enigma of the seas. With creative yet impressive or too-convenient inventions, the furtive Captain Nemo takes Prof. Aronnax from wonder to wonder circling the globe–and then some.

Prepare yourself for awe. Verne wrote this I feel to talk about the splendid places below the waves that he could share his visions with the people of the 1850s. But I said to prepare yourself because the moments of awe are sometimes tucked in long paragraphs of descriptions of fish and fauna. Jules Verne loves himself a fish. He also loves a startling vista, which he offers many even fathoms under the ocean, and he loves a scene of human interest. Continue reading

Rose in Bloom

Louisa May Alcott, 1876

In this sequel to Eight Cousins, Rose has just come back from a two-year tour through Europe with Uncle Alec and Phebe. Eight Cousins left off when she was 14, she left for Europe when she was 18, and now she is 20. She has grown wiser and even more beautiful, and will inherit her parent’s fortune in a year.  The chemistry between the young people has changed too, which becomes evident to them, “No sooner were they shut up in a carriage, however, than a new and curious constraint seemed to fall upon the young people, for they realized, all at once, that their former playmates were men and women now.” (pg. 3)  There are many who seek her hand, especially when she tries “coming out in society” for a few months, some who are desperate, some who are foolish, and some who genuinely feel affection for her.  But it becomes evident (without even looking at the cover) that the two greatest contenders are Mac, the bookworm, and Charlie, the Prince.

It feels like the writing style changed a bit from the first book.  As if we, the reader, are growing with Rose, the writing changes focus and contains more human emotion and intrigue.

Continue reading

Rapture of the Deep

Cover image courtesy of Goshen Public Library

Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy

L.A. Meyer

{Just minutes away from walking down the aisle to finally be united with her Jaimy, Jacky is snatched up again by that despicable British Intelligence.  In her wedding dress she hears the terms of her new mission: diving for the treasure of a Spanish ship that sunk in the Caribbean (because King George’s coffers are getting empty from fighting Napoleon).  The tricky part is that she must do it without the Spanish finding out, and she must dive farther than anyone has before by using a new apparatus from Boston.  In return she will receive a full pardon.

So the Nancy B. Alsop (with two new young crew members) and the HMS Dolphin (with Jaimy on-board) sail down to the West Indies to find the Santa Magdalena, where they will have happy reunions with old faces and make new friends and new enemies.}

Very good, very fun.  The seventh book in the Bloody Jack Adventures, L.A. Meyer is still delivering the same quality, novelty, and excitement.  The book before this– My Bonny Light Horseman– was very heart wrenching whereas this book sees more going right for Jacky Faber.  But the book does seem to be a little more racy, with dirtier jokes, and I would like to see more character development concerning Jaimy.  Rollicking around Havana, Cuba, the reader picks up some interesting info about her history and culture in 1807.  Upon finishing I cannot wait for the next book to come out!

Continue reading

Healer’s Keep

by Victoria Hanley

A big thank you to Reading Rocks for this book!!  You guys rock :)  Click to see an interview they did with the author, Victoria Hanley.

This book is excellent!  I haven’t read a fantasy this good for a long time.  Why, I believe that if parts of it were longer with more description and emotional depth it could brush the title of epic.  I would definitely recommend this book.

{From Victoria Hanley’s website: Two new students arrive at the Keep. One is Dorjan, a mysterious young man and heir to the family of Dreamwens-people who can walk in dreams. The other is the Princess Saravelda, daughter of King Landen and Queen Torina. Both Dorjan and Saravelda are hiding secrets of the past, but they must trust each other before they can act to overcome the darkness threatening the Healer’s Keep.

Across the ocean in Sliviia a talented slave girl named Maeve is running from Lord Morlen, a man who inspires terror in all who meet him.  Maeve learns that she, too, is part of the Dreamwen line.  She meets Jasper, a freeman of Sliviia who has survived on his wits and courage, who must decide how much he will risk for love.  The destiny of these four people are intertwined.  Together they confront the powers that prey upon their world. }
Continue reading

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was lovely; I really enjoyed it.  One thing though, reading this book was like living in a haze.  Maybe Fitzgerald was trying to capture the ambience of the flapper 20’s, or maybe that was how these silly characters’ minds worked.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness…” (pg. 114) These people live the decadent life of the roaring twenties. The mindless, indulgent, irresponsible life style where consequence is just an afterthought.” homework-online.com.

I encountered this story when I saw the movie last year.  Looking back I would say that the film, I saw the version starring Robert Redford, was a wonderful rendition of this book.  And I think seeing the movie first made the book better; it was easier to visualize the period clothing, parties, and attitudes, and to understand the plot to be able to look for important clues and symbolism.

> You can read the whole book online thanks to eBooks@Adelaide.

Continue reading

The Truth About Forever

by Sarah Dessen

{Summary from SarahDessen.com: Macy’s summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy’s plans don’t anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or … Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn’t fit Macy’s life at all–so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So … happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together. }

I love this book just as much as Dessen’s “This Lullaby,” and I really appreciate how she keeps everything fresh and lively. The message delivered throughout the narrative is one not understood by many but so important: order and perfection are not ways to live. We must embrace disorder and other human beings, we must learn to live our passions without fear.

Continue reading

Mississippi Jack

Mississippi Jack
by L. A. Meyer

This is one of my most favorite series.  Such an upbeat and adventurous story, every page flies by and the action jumps out at you.  I secretly hope that this will turn into a 15+ book series. :P 

Review courtesy of Harcourtbooks.com:

    “The intrepid Jacky Faber, having once again eluded British authorities, heads west, hoping that no one will recognize her in the wilds of America. There she tricks the tall-tale hero Mike Fink out of his flatboat, equips it as a floating casino-showboat, and heads south to New Orleans, battling murderous bandits, British soldiers, and other scoundrels along the way. Will Jacky’s carelessness and impulsive actions ultimately cause her beloved Jaimy to be left in her wake?
Bold, daring, and downright fun, Jacky Faber proves once again that with resilience and can-do spirit, she can wiggle out of any scrape . . . well, almost.”

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander and Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Suzanne Collins

Worth reading. It is for a little bit younger audience but I still enjoyed it very much. The author describes it as her New York version of Alice in Wonderland. She has created a fascinating world full of danger but also hope.

This Lullaby

Sarah Dessen

Great! I heard that Dessen is a really good author, and I’ll have to agree.  I’ll definitely be reading the rest of her books.  The ending isn’t quite my style but it works.

“Raised by a mother who’s had five husbands, eighteen-year-old Remy believes in short-term, no-commitment relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician.” Dessen’s publisher

I love the main character’s name, Remy. So cool. Maybe not cool to be named after an alcoholic beverage (namely rum), but cool-sounding and distinctive as a name.

from Dessen’s site: “you always have these dynamic friends in your books. Maybe you should write from that point of view, just for a change.” She [Remy] was kind of bitchy, kind of cold, and was sure she had everything figured out. I couldn’t wait to see her proved wrong.

Plus it’s a summer book: set in that wonderful stretch from June to August when it just seems like everything is possible. Dreamland, my last book, had been so heavy, so emotional. I was ready for something a little lighter, but that still had something to say.

Basically, this is a story about faith. Faith in love (bear with me here) and just faith in general. Remy’s tragic flaw, of sorts, is that she’s afraid to take a chance on something she can’t guarantee. She wants hard proof, facts, a mathematical equation where X equals Y, before she’ll even begin to think about taking any kind of risk. But what she learns—what we all learn, eventually—is that the living is in the leaping. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes, and jump.”

My all time favorite part: when Dexter finds the silverware in Remy’s car. That is the best.

The lullaby:

This lullaby is only a few words,
A simple run of chords
Quiet here in this spare room
But you can hear it, hear it
Wherever you may go
Even if I let you down
This lullaby plays on . . .

The Arkadians

Lloyd Alexander

from Amazon.com “An expertly developed cast of characters rounds out this witty epic that’s filled with romance and adventure.  Lucian, the archetypal hero, knows more than he should about the king’s nefarious soothsayers and must escape the palace or be killed. He takes with him Fronto, a poet whose folly has turned him into a donkey.  Guided by Joy-in-the-Dance, a pythoness oracle who serves the Lady of Wild Things, they seek the Lady on an Oz-like journey for answers to their problems, joined on the way by Ops, a chief who was cast out of his village.

The travelers do not get what they had hoped for from the Lady, but Lucian does learn why her followers and his Bear Clan are enemies. The seekers are then sent on another journey that completes the heroic cycle. On one level, this is a rousing adventure complete with cliffhangers and do-or-die situations. On another, readers familiar with Greek mythology will find clever hints at the myths’ purpose and genesis.  The Arkadians have experiences and listen to tales that resemble the stories of Narcissus, the Wooden Horse of Troy, Odysseus, and Theseus and the Minotaur, among others. The women are the wise ones in this novel and play their own heroic roles.

On a deeper level, this tale is about love and peace, symbolized by the marriage of Lucian and Joy-in-the-Dance and the subsequent uniting of the Bear Clan and the Followers of the Lady. Thus, Arkadia becomes the mythical Arcadia, which poets lauded as a utopia. The plot has many twists and turns, but is not hard to follow, and Alexander’s style is eminently readable.”

Cheri Estes, Dorchester Road Regional Library, Charleston, SC.  Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Straw into Gold

Gary D. Schmidt

Really enjoyed it!  Schmidt writes this retelling with a candor that never gets dry, and a realistic substance that makes you wonder.  Some plot points/predicaments seem a little unrealistic, but the overall effect is a great one, and the ending circumstances will hit you with feeling.

Have you heard the sunrise lately?

Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy)

Jonathan Stroud

Extracts, special features: http://www.bartimaeusbooks.com/

Ptolemy’s Gate– Trapped for years on earth, Bartimaeus’s energies are fast running out. His master, Nathaniel, is increasingly arrogant and unapproachable and will not listen to his pleas. But as war and unrest rock the magicians’ government, Kitty uncovers secrets from Bartimaeus’s past that might help change the world forever.

This trilogy starts darkly but from there gathers speed and warmth.  The series sniffs of British sarcasm, attitude and humor.  I would highly praise it and suggest it to most.

Daughter of the Forest


Daughter of the Forest
by: Juliet Marillier

Very good. It reminds me a lot of Marillier’s book Wolfskin, which was also excellent.

At some parts I cursed the characters’ stupidity, and fervently wished that they would breach the gap of hate between the Britons and Sevenwaters, such as the brothers’ constant hostility (except for Finbar), and the awful rumors told by the Britons.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Son of the Shadows.