Saturday, December 18, 2010

GUEST Review of "Pathfinder"

For this review, I am going to do something a little different. My husband, Wesley, also read this book, and I am going to let him do the majority of this review! Here he is.....!

“Orson Scott Card is an interesting author.  To say I am a fan of his might be overstating it, but at the same time, understating it.  His book “Ender’s Game” is one of my favorite books of all time.  I have read it many times, and I love it every time I do.  The rest of his books in the “Ender” series were okay.  His other series, however, were not good at all.  So, when Sara told me that she was getting a new Orson Scott Card book to read, I was interested, but skeptical.  Turns out, it was a pretty good book!
The story centers on a teenage boy named Rigg.  He and his father live alone wandering the woods as trappers. When we are introduced to Rigg, we quickly learn that he has an unusual gift.  He can see the paths that people or animals have taken in the past.  They appear as colorful ribbons in the air, and can go back thousands of years.  His father spends every waking moment teaching Rigg about his power and about life in general.
The story really starts going when Rigg’s father dies.  His dying wish is for Rigg to go on a journey to meet his mother and sister, who Rigg was told were dead.  Before he gets the chance to start, however, he meets a boyhood friend, Umbro, who also has a special ability.  Umbro’s ability is to slow down or speed up perceptions, allowing Rigg to actually “travel” to the past paths that he can see.
Now, right off the bat, I am very worried about this book.  Time travel?  Talk about a mine field.  How many Sci-Fi geeks have spent sleepless nights arguing about time travel and how books and movies screw it up?  (I know I do every time I watch Terminator).  But, Card does something unusual in this book.  He knows the paradoxes that time travel creates, and instead of trying to avoid them, he actually embraces them as part of the story!
Even with the time travel stuff, this story line is actually very interesting.  Each chapter starts with a secondary story about how this planet was populated.  At first, it is very confusing reading the two stories.  However, as the book goes along, the two stories complement each other in such a way that it makes the story whole without you realizing there was something missing.  Between the history of their planet, the history of their people, the history of Rigg’s family, and the dangers they all bring to our main characters, this story was very compelling.
This was the first of a series and I can’t wait until the rest of the books come out.  I am eager to see what the future holds for Rigg and his friends. Overall, I would give this book 4 bookworms.”
Thank you, Wesley!
I needed Wesley to do the main review of this book because I was thoroughly confused by it! I love “Ender’s Game” as well, it is one of my favorite books, but with this book, I got too bogged down. I thought the story was interesting, though, and I would recommend it to fans of Orson Scott Card, especially if you like time travel Sci-Fi!
For more information about this book, please click here.
This book was sent to us as a complimentary review copy from Simon Pulse, a division of Simon & Schuster Publishing Company.
Although I did not enjoy the book as much as Wesley did, I will still give “Pathfinder”…  4 BookWorms!

"The Silent Governess" Review

“The Silent Governess” by Julie Klassen was sent to me as a complimentary review copy by Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group.

This book is a (loosely) Christian fiction book that is presented in the “regency” genre. I found out that this means that the book takes place during the time of lords and ladies and such in 19th Century England. (Think Jane Austen novels).

In this story, we are introduced to Olivia Keene, a common girl who is fleeing a circumstance that has just occurred in her home. While on the run, she overhears Lord Brightwell and his son, Edward, discussing a secret that would change Edward’s life forever. When is it discovered that Olivia now has knowledge of the Brightwell secret, Edward compels Olivia to take a post at Brightwell Court, where he can ensure his secret is never revealed.

It was really hard for me to decide whether or not I liked this book. While I was reading it, I did enjoy it. I really enjoyed reading about the various classes of people in this novel…the lords and ladies, the servants, and how the governess doesn’t fit in with either group. However, there were several things about the book that I thought were odd.

One thing was that this book is classified as Christian fiction, but there really wasn’t much that was Christian about it. There was the occasional mention of God (mostly by the vicar), and they did pray when in dire circumstances, yet their lives did not at all reflect people who knew Christ and sought to serve Him. I do not mind reading books that do not have a Christian aspect to them, I just expect a little more from a novel that is actually labeled as Christian fiction. Also, it is really, really hard for me to read a book that even hints at cousins getting married. I know this went on during 19th Century England, but it still just makes my stomach turn!

Another thing was that this book was very convoluted. There are so many secrets and cover-ups and lies and mysteries that by the end my head was spinning! It very much felt like a historical soap opera! And even though there were so many “mysteries,” I figured most of them out before they were revealed.

While I do not claim to be a huge fan of Jane Austen-type novels, I was really expecting more from this book. I was enjoying it at the beginning, but by the end, I just thought it was kind of ridiculous.

For more information about this book, please click here.

If you enjoy the regency genre, you will most likely enjoy this book.

I will give “The Silent Governess”….. 2 ½ BookWorms.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"The Enclave" Review

“The Enclave” by Karen Hancock was sent to me as a complimentary review copy by Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group.  

The story begins as we get to know our two main characters, Lacey and Cameron. Lacey is a recent Genetics master’s degree graduate who has just started a job with a breakout company, Kendall-Jakes Longevity Center. Cameron is a PhD geneticist (with a past) who is also employed at Kendall-Jakes. Lacey and Cameron end up in an unlikely relationship due to the circumstances surrounding their experimental research. At the same time, there is a parallel story going on about another group of people whose history is revealed slowly and mysteriously. I can’t really say any more about the plot, or I will give it all away!

The genre for this book was not what I expected based on the description on the back cover. I knew that it would be Sci-Fi, but I didn’t realize that it was going to be Christian Sci-Fi. However, I enjoyed most of the Christian aspects of the book. I personally know what it is like to study science in school and to work in a scientific environment while being a Christian. While I never experienced the profound discrimination that Cameron does in the book, I could empathize with him and his situation.

Even though I mostly enjoyed this book (I really enjoy Sci-Fi, especially since this one involved biology and genetics…right up my alley!), there were parts that just didn’t cut it for me. For one, the book seemed to be about 100 pages too long. The first few chapters were too drawn out and some of the descriptions of the different places and facilities were too extensive. It almost seemed as if the first chapters should have been radically condensed and the last chapters made to go on a bit more (some things didn’t seem to be completely wrapped up to me). Another thing was that although the author seemed too descriptive at times, at other times she seemed to need more of a variety of phrases with which to work. I would love to go back and count how many times she used the expression ‘someone’s hair stood up on the back of their neck’ or they ‘felt a chill up their back’!

The other thing I didn’t like about this book is something I can’t really talk about unless you have read the book, or it would give too much away! I will just say that there was a supernatural element to the book that was taken from the Bible, and I didn’t really enjoy that part of the story. It just felt wrong to me and way over-the-top. The author didn’t seem to have a very good understanding of that part of Scripture, and I think more caution should have been taken when using the Bible as a basis to back up a distinctly fiction element of a story.

Overall, this book was pretty good. Those who enjoy Sci-Fi will enjoy it, but if you do not like Sci-Fi, I wouldn’t recommend it for you.

For more information about this book, click here.

I will give “The Enclave”…..  3 BookWorms

Monday, December 13, 2010

"The Centurion's Wife" Review

“The Centurion’s Wife” by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke was sent to me as a complimentary review copy by Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group and is the first in the “Acts of Faith” series by these authors.

Janette Oke is one of my favorite authors, and her “Love Comes Softly” series is one of my all-time favorites. However, this book did not live up to my expectations for Janette Oke. I guess I should have been suspicious when I saw that it was written with Davis Bunn. I have previously read one other series by these two authors (“Song of Acadia” series), and I didn’t really like it.

“The Centurion’s Wife” is the story of Leah, a distantly Jewish servant in Pilate’s household at the time of Christ’s death, and Alban, a Roman Centurion. Alban and Leah end up in an arrangement to be married after Alban fulfills a duty to Pilate to find out what happened to Jesus’ body. The narrative is told from Leah’s point of view as well as Alban’s and spans the several weeks in Jerusalem and the surrounding area after Christ’s resurrection. It involves both characters’ course to finding out what they believe about this man Jesus.

I have never read a historical fiction book that is based on a biblical account, so this is a first for me. And based on this book, it might be my last. Since the main character was not portrayed as I thought he should be portrayed based on the Bible, then the story was not “real” to me. Alban is supposed to be the centurion mentioned in the Bible in Matthew 8 and Luke 7. In the biblical account, Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (from afar…without going to the servant), and then Jesus commends the centurion for having great faith. Because of the way this book portrays this biblical account, I did not really enjoy the book. In this book, when this miracle happens to Alban and his servant, Alban doesn’t really even know who Jesus is. He is not portrayed as having any faith in Christ or even God at all. The rest of the book is Alban's search to find out who Jesus is, but I think anyone who Jesus commended for having such great faith would have already believed in Him. I understand that historical fiction is, in fact, fiction, but if the authors are going to base a book on history, then I think they should at least get the history right. For example, I wouldn’t enjoy reading a historical fiction book based on the American Revolution and in that book read that the British won! The same thing seems to be happening in “The Centurion’s Wife.”

Another thing that bothered me was that everyone in the book drank tea. Tea? Did they drink tea in the Bible? I don’t know. It is not mentioned in the Bible, but maybe they did. I do know that wine was mentioned in the Bible, and I thought that was what they would drink in this book. It is not a big thing…it is just something that bothered me every time I read it! I guess the authors were trying to make the book “cleaner,” as in not putting alcohol in the book, but come on. It just didn’t seem realistic to me.

I have to say also that I thought this book was just boring. After getting into the beginning and getting to know the characters, I was bored until over halfway through the book. Maybe it’s just me, but I almost fell asleep several times while reading this book, and I rarely do that!

One thing I did like about this book was that it made me think about what it would have been like to actually know Jesus on earth. Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are minor characters in this book, and it was remarkable to ponder how it would have felt to actually see and hear Christ during his time here.

If you enjoy Christian historical fiction from the time of Christ, you might enjoy this book better than I did. I just couldn’t get into it because of the poor portrayal of the biblical account.

I am disappointed that this book is from Janette Oke. Maybe it is more “Davis Bunn” than “Janette Oke” and that is why I didn’t enjoy it.

If you would like more information about this book, please click here.

I will give “The Centurion’s Wife”……. 2 BookWorms.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Club Review -- "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

For our December book club, we kept it simple and decided to read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson. I first read this book when I was a kid, and I have read it many times over the years of my childhood. This was the first time I had read it as an adult, and it was just as good as I remembered.
This story is about a rambunctious (okay, just plain mean…) family of six kids, the Herdmans, who constantly terrorize their town and its people. No one ever expected to see them show up at church, but they do, after a promise of refreshments. And then they get mixed up in the Christmas Pageant…
As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed this simple book. I thought it was funny and sweet. As an adult, I still enjoyed it, but I of course found so much more meaning in it. This story is funny, charming, and right on the mark with its account of the true meaning of Christmas and the reality that no one should be counted without hope.
I give “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”…….. 5 BookWorms!!!