Showing posts with label 5 Stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5 Stars. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Scarlet Pimpernel
by: Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Genre: Classic
Rating: 5 stars

Set during the bloodiest days of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, the Scarlet Pimpernel is an enigmatic character who has saved countless lives from Madame Guillotine. Such dashing and bold escapes require the cunning and skill which no one would associate with Sir Percy Blakeney. This English Fop and his band of friends however band together as time and time again they save innocents from the likes of Chauvelin and other French leaders. This business of his is so secret that he must keep it all from those he holds dearest - even his wife Marguerite St. Just. 

Step aside Darcy I believe that you have met your match. 

Bold words I know, but really the Baroness has created a very undervalued hero who in all aspects outshines. The book is teeming with adventure, wit, mystery and suspense. Another one which I would recommend to gentleman as well as ladies. Always two steps ahead of the French government, the Scarlet Pimpernel still keeps us reading and wondering if he will pull it off once again. 

There is also the romantic element with his wife Marguerite. Just after their wedding, it comes to light that Marguerite just may be sympathetic to the leaders of the Reign of Terror, and her husband is forced to shut her completely out of his work. And while all this is happening Chauvelin - a French agent has been sent to sniff out the British gentleman responsible for rescuing the families who have been deemed traitors to the republic.

Goodness what more could you possibly ask for. It is extremely well written, the first in a series, and once more on just about every count - from wealth, to looks, to a romantic nature -  Blakeney is far and away a better hero than dear boring Mr. Darcy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

YA Wednesday Crown Duel

Crown Duel
by: Sherwood Smith

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Over their father’s deathbed, young Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric promise to lead their people against the evil King. The impoverished count and countess discover that even when the cause is right, leading a war is much tougher than it appears. When Meliara falls into the hands of the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, the enemy commander, she knows she has to either escape or die. After a desperate chase across country, she discovers that she and Bran are not alone—but the alliance is offered by the person she hates the most. Once the king is gone, she faces a new type of battlefield: not muddy fields and sharpened steel, but marble palaces. The weapons now are fashion, manners, and the subtle and secret language of fans. Finally, there is the toughest challenge of all, courtship. For how do you defend yourself when the one who draws your eye, and your heart, is your worst enemy?


These two books were joined together to form one novel in their latest publication so that is how I am going to review them. 

I must say that this book is among the top of my re-reads. I am not entirely sure how many times I read it in jr. high and high school it is one that I loved that much. Mel has all that I like in a character, she is brave, intelligent, and yet she has flaws. She cares about things going on around her but recognizes her limitations and does what she can to correct them. The first part of the novel is completely action packed – as is customary with revolutions. The second part has a different kind of action. There is a lot of intrigue around the court a new monarchy is being established. Different actions but equally entertaining.

And then there is our hero commonly known as Sheveraeth, he is what I believe Mr. Darcy would be if he were young, in the middle of a revolution and starring in a fantasy novel. **spoiler**It is because of him, and the letter writing between him and Mel that I love writing and receiving letters. (if this doesn’t seem like a spoiler SHAME on you for reading the spoiler before the book because if you had read the book you would understand why this is a spoiler.) **spoiler done**

Even if you have passed young adulthood, if you like a good adventure with believable characters this would be an excellent choice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Classic Tuesday: Persuasion

by: Jane Austen

Genre: Classic, Chick-Lit
Rating: 5 Stars

8 years after Anne Elliot turned down a proposal of marriage, Captain Wentworth, comes back wealthy and waiting to prove himself.  While the years have been kind to Wentworth, bestowing him with fame, wealth, and position, they have done quite the opposite to Anne whose family has fall upon hard times. Though Anne is still in love with him as ever, he - having made his fortune - doesn't seem to feel the same about the woman who jilted him.

This is the final book that Austen finished before she died and if it is any indication, we can believe that she had reached a new depth and had she lived we would be blessed with sheer genius. I love not only, how deep the characters go, but also how different they are. Anne Elliot is 27 years old, an old maid by all standards and she appears as though she has lost her bloom. This is a far cry from our Mariannes and Lizzies of books past. 

Sadly I think that this little gem is overlooked as the better known Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility take the stage. And while I am not saying those aren’t good (I love almost all Austen’s equally) I do wish that Persuasion got the recognition it deserves. And as amazing as Mr. Darcy seems, I think that Captain Wentworth would give him a run for his money.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday: Porcupine Named Fluffy

A Porcupine Named Fluffy

by Helen Lester

Genre: Childrens

Rating: 5 Stars

I feel like children's books sometimes get forgotten and it is fun to go back and remember some of the stuff you (or more likely your parents) read when you were very young.


What do you name a porcupine? Lance or Spike? No, those are too common, you want something unique. Fluffy sounds like a good idea. Fluffy grows up and begins to realize there is a problem...he isn't fluffy. After many desperate, and somewhat silly attempts to become fluffy he meets a rhinoceros who has a name just as ridiculous as his own. 

This was the first book I "read" on my own. Quite frankly I believe that it had been read to me so many times I had it memorized. I love all the different ways that Fluffy tried to become fluffy, my favorite involved mounds of shaving cream. I love how he finds someone who has just as odd a name as he does and because he found someone else like him he accepts the fact that he simply isn't fluffy. I love the illustrations and how well both it and the text work together. This was one that I still come back to when I am home from school and one that will most definitely be on my children's bookshelves.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book to Movie: The Help

The Help
By Katheryn Stockett

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

I really have no idea where to begin on this one. It has been put on my "desert island list" and it's one that I have recommended to almost every one of my friends.

Summary found on Goodreads:
The Help details the lives of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi, right when the Civil Rights Movement began. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Constantine. Aibileen is an experienced and knowledgeable black maid who is currently taking care of her seventeenth child, Mae Mobley, even though she realizes what's at stake for both of them. And Minny is a fierce, sassy cook who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, even when it risks her employment. This tumultuous trio takes the first step in sparking a movement that will ignite fire to the racism and hypocrisy of their small town.

There is a depth found in this novel that is hard to achieve. It still has the entertainment value that can occasionally have you laughing and yet is balanced by a parts that can break your heart. I fell in love with Abileen, Skeeter and Minny all in different ways. Abileen is the voice of reason -  the loving mentor who you can go to for anything. Skeeter is the plucky, slightly awkward young woman who comes into her own. And Minny? She takes the cake...or pie in this instance. Part of me thinks that she is the person we all want to be at some point in our lives, willing to tell everyone what we think of them be it good bad or ugly.

I have read about the 60's and segregation before but generally in a more inflammatory sense. Stockett though, while it's obvious where her sympathy lies, I felt that it wasn't told to rile readers up but rather to simply educate and entertain. It's a tricky balance to tell a story on this subject without sounding accusatory or didactic yet it was beautifully done. 

The writing style is something I fell in love with as well. Writing in accents, especially the ones required for this period can often be overdone and seem more like caricature rather than character. It was handled masterfully and contributed greatly to both the overall tone of the work and the plot as well. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I love this book. I got the opportunity to read it when it first came out and have just recently come back to it for a book group read and I fell in love with it all over again as my patient roommate can tell you.

Goodreads Plot Summary: January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

As I have said, I absolutely love this story. It has a depth of character and a charming wit that left me laughing through one passages and nearly in tears by the next. It feels so real that you can imagine that this was a pack of letters found together in an old trunk somewhere, probably in your favorite aunt's attic. Each of the characters has their own unique and quirky personality. 

This book actually had more meaning for me this last time I read it because it is a Literary novel. There are passages and quotes from Chaucer, Seneca, Ms. Marple and everything in between. Having now had the chance to study Chaucer and Austen and the Bronte sisters this book took up a lot more substance and became far more meaningful.

 I applaud Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows for their research and their flair for covering such a dark time in history the way they did. 

I really recommend this to almost anybody. I haven't yet come across a person who wouldn't be enchanted by the letters of the inhabitants of Guernsey Island.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill By Julie Klassen Genre: Christian Historical Fiction Rating 4.5 Stars Summary:  On a rise overlooking the W...