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Archive for August, 2007

I have read (I think) all of Pierce’s books and loved them all.  She creates a rich world with strong female characters.  These are just overall great books with interesting tales.  That being said, I was disappointed in this book.  I tried reading it and couldn’t get past the first chapter.  So I listened to it on audio instead.  I did finish (pat on the back) but it did not grab me as her others did.  Maybe I am a snob and I prefer her stories of people with power, crowns, and magic rather than the lower echelons of this world she has created.  The characters are well drawn and it was an interesting story, just not to me.  It was also written in diary format, and while I usually like that style, I had a hard time with it in this book. 

Quick plot summary: Beka Coper is a trainee provost guard (i.e. police officer) who proves to have some magical powers  and a strong sense of justice.  She works in the slums with her trainers and discovers several crimes that need to be unraveled.  Despite having neither the time nor the resources to fund investigations, that is exactly what Beka and her trainers do. 

 It is a cop story, and, while I do read those, I did not really care for this one.  But I suppose I can’t complain….I have loved and re-read many times all of her other books.  She was bound to come along with something that I didn’t care for eventually right?

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Here we have another Da Vinci Code type novel.  I hate calling it that though because there were hundreds of Da Vinci Code type books before Da Vinci Code was even written.  I was reading Knights Templar stories long before Brown even thought up the idea.  But anyway, this is a fun, quick paced read.  It is told in alternating points of view from a scientist helping the Vatican, to a Muslim trying to solve a crime perpetrated on a mosque in Jerusalem, to a priest or two in the Vatican. It is interesting if not too original.  A mysterious body is stolen from a mosque and taken to the Vatican where a scientist must find out who it is.  The Vatican has some idea, but they need to know for sure.  There is espionage, chase scenes, a fair amount of science, and flash backs to the persecution of the Knights Templar and their vow to hide and protect this casket.  I enjoyed the story, but then again I enjoy these types stories even if they all grow a bit similar after a time.  It kind of leaves off at the end making me wonder if the author is planning a sequel?  We’ll see.

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Wow is all I can think to say about this book.  I am ashamed to admit that I have not read any of Boyne’s other books, but I definitely will after reading this one.  Thief of Time tells the tale of Matthieu Zela who has lived for 256 years.  The story flips back in forth in time from present day to different episodes from his long life.  It is a captivating story and gives glimpses into some of the great (and also some of the not so great) periods throughout the past 250 years.  The main character is witty and erudite and weaves a wonderful tale.  This is essentially a story about love and family and doing what is good for yourself and those you love. Matthieu has gained riches, fame, and women throughout his long life, but it isn’t until 1999 when he is 256 that he realizes that he is missing something (not that he has not enjoyed his long life because he has indeed enjoyed it)  The science of how no one figured out that he was living so long is never fully explained, but it is clear that he handles himself well and has no fear of discovery.  Often in the case of books where a character is living beyond their supposedly allotted years, much is made of the subterfuge and machinations that must be done in order to remain below the radar.  You never feel that that is needed in this book and it makes it a better book because of it.  I was completely enthralled from page 1 and can’t wait to see if his other books are as good.

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Julia and Sura are mistress and servant, but have always also been close friends.  One day, their lives begin to change.  Both girls know that plans are being made for their future, but they are not sure what they are or if they will be happy with them.  This story shows the month right before Pompeii is wiped out by a volcano and it is rich in detail about the time period.  I loved this story and the fact that it did not have a fairy tale ending.  The volcano did come, people did die, but their stories left an imprint that will remain forever.  This is the type of book that will spark an interest in learning more about Pompeii and the way people lived there.  The author’s note gives detail about how the author depicted the people and culture of Pompeii and shows how much she too is fascinated by this city.

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One day when out playing baseball siblings Kate and Michael discover a wondrous creature that they at first are not sure is real.  It is a baby griffin and they decide to help it because it is clearly lost.  Through some ingenuity, these siblings discover where the griffin is from and how to bring it home.  This tale is reminiscent of Edward Eager’s or E. Nesbit’s tale.  Set in the Italian countryside, it has a time gone by feel to it.  Though not long, this is a sweet engaging tale that will delight young readers who might believe that someday they might spot a griffin in their backyard.

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Thomas Hammon never meant to float over the rapids, but that is exactly what happens when he floats on a piece of foam form a refrigerator box down the river.  After crashing over the rapids and finding himself in a cave with a dead man, Thomas doesn’t have much hope for survival.  But he soon meets a fellow captive who has been lost in a network of caves for three years.  Between the two of them, they discover a mystery, a possible treasure, and maybe even a way out.  This is a face paced adventure story with everything that makes an adventure story great: villains, a hero, treasure, and a wonderful journey.  This is grittier than many children’s books that tell stories of adventures.  Usually ones that have murders in them as this one does are set back during the gold rush or wild west.  However, I don’t think kids will be bothered by the slightly harsher tones the story sometimes takes.  While the characters are not completely three dimensional, they are well rounded and add depth to the story.  A fast paced fun read.

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Kip is off to stay with his grandmother and a whole host of girl cousins while his mom and new stepfather go on their honeymoon.  Unhappy at the thought of losing his mom and in a place where he has never been before, Kip is a little unsettled until he finds a special notebook belonging to his dad.  Between reading it, building a yurt, and having quite a bit of fun with his cousins, Kip learns about his past, his present, and what the future might hold for him.  A heartwarming story, Ellis crafts the tale of a young boy on the cusp of a major change in his life and how he deals with it.  There are some zany characters that make this more than just a coming of age type of tale and some great scenes. (they get to write on the walls in his grandmother’s house in marker since it is to be sold and torn down at the end of hte summer!)  Unfortunately, the cover is horrid and I fear that kids will not pick it up because of that and never get to read the great story hidden inside.

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