Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Warmed Up Leftovers--The Magisterium #1: The Iron Trial

The Magisterium #1:  The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Adolescent Fantasy

A young boy with a mysterious past and a scar suddenly finds himself thrust into a magical school with two sidekicks, a boy and a girl, who soon become his best friends and help him to understand his past and withstand a prophetical future.  Sound familiar?  If you're thinking another Harry Potter, you're right. 

There's nothing really new here...Callum Hunt is a young boy who is forced to attend a magical school to develop his latent powers.  He pairs up with a boy and girl who grow into his best friends.  They have adventures and find out Callum has a dangerous secret that could destroy them all.  Harry Potter, much?  I wish the co-authors had changed something...anything.  Maybe had the protagonist be a girl instead of a boy?  That's what really holds the story back for me. The entire time I kept thinking this was just a retelling, and one that wasn't as good as the original.  Even the setup of the book is Potter-like right down to the font and the beginning of each chapter with a cool drawing above the beginning.  That, in the end, lessened my pleasure.

And, yet, I found myself really liking the story, the characters, and the writing.  The characters are intriguing, the writing is solid.  Still.....I can't more than half-heartedly recommend it. From two amazing authors, it was a bit of a disappointment.  I wanted more and, because of the similarities, my brain couldn't help but do the comparisons automatically.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Picture Book for Adults--Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

I've always thought it not fair that the best picture books are wasted on children who are too young to read them and truly too young to appreciate the stories and artwork.  Alright, so I'm a little jealous.  All those marvelous picture books!  There should be something for adults like that.

And, now there is.  Thank you, Rick Riordan.  This huge book is truly a picture book adventure for young adults (or adults still stuck in their youth, like me).  I felt like a little kid again every time I opened those pages. I loved the silky feel of each new chapter. I ooohed and aaaahed over the amazing illustrations.  There was nothing NOT to love about this book.

This book is told to us by Percy Jackson, hero of Riordan's other books.  In this one, Percy tell us the ancient stories of the Olympians and the Titans, going back to the very beginning of Greek history and Greek story.  While I consider myself something of a "Jeopardy"-brain about Greek myth, there were many stories in there I hadn't heard of.  What fun!  It was sometimes hard to tell where Percy was embellishing, so I often had to rush to the computer or other books to read more.  These are my favorite kinds of books--ones that light fuses I have to read more to put out.

The book is a delight from beginning to end.  It would be a good read-aloud for younger kids but is a great Greek myth introduction to older kids and teens.  And, if you're even older than that (like me), you won't be disappointed either.  It's a book to love reading again and again.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Sugary Treat--Seven Up: Stephanie Plum #7

Seven Up:  Stephanie Plum #7 by Janet Evanovich


If I were a bounty hunter, I suspect I would be a lot like Stephanie Plum.  I am mostly certainly clumsy enough and have the shin and knee bruises to show it.  I often put my foot in my mouth without warning, almost as if a giant, evil mastermind were controlling what came out my pie hole.  And, I like food a lot.  (I don't have Plum's metabolism so I can't eat that much cake, but I do enjoy living vicariously through her.)

And, if I had two hot guys after me, I would most certainly sleep with both of them (remember this is dream me; real me has been happily married for 20+ years).

Perhaps that's why I enjoy these books so much--complete and total escape from reality.  Plum is a lot like the Tastycakes she snarfs down--sugary fun.

If you've never read any of the Stephanie Plum mysteries, be sure to read them in order, starting with the first one.  The romantic plot is worth following and resembles a tennis match played with a live grenade.  I'm not sure of the title of the next one, but I know that "Eight" won't be enough for me!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Worth All The Trouble--Trouble in Paradise: Jesse Stone #2

Trouble in Paradise:  Jesse Stone #2 by Robert B. Parker

I am a huge Parker fan and will read anything with his name on it.  That rule has never failed me, which isn't always true of every writer.  This book was no exception.

This is the second installment in the Jesse Stone/Paradise series.  I would certainly recommend reading these in order as Jesse's private life is nearly as exciting as the murder and mayhem going on around him.  It's a little disturbing to think that such a tiny town as Paradise seemingly is could have so much crime so soon--I shiver to think what future books hold.  Perhaps, though, because of its quaint smallness, a gang of robbers and just all-around bad guys target it for the heist of the century, planning to rob banks, homes, and anything else not nailed down.

In the mix is Jesse and his on-again/off-again romance with his ex-wife.  And his on-again/off-again romance with his ex-lover.  And a new on romance that looks to be off soon.  What I really like about these is how very human Jesse is, full of mistakes and quirks and pain and confidence issues. A man after my own heart.  While he certainly struggles in his private life, he is one super cop and that part of these mystery thrillers is great to read, full of action and adventure at every turn.  Jesse reminds me of Jack Reacher in that respect, except he isn't nearly so scary!

Thanks, Mr. Parker, for another delightful winter evening spent reading by the fire!