Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story is a really difficult book to review. The basic plot surrounds an old woman, Lil who works in a bookstore but really is a banished fairy godmother. The reader spends much of the book wondering what did/will happen to Cinderella and if Lil can earn her way back into the fairy kingdom. Right now I can’t decide if this is the best book I have read in a while or the most distressing. I cannot really explain the dilemma to you because it would ruin the story! I do want to add a word of “caution.” I really enjoyed the book. I loved all the book nerdiness and relationships. It is not as lighthearted as the cover, back of the book, and first half of the story would lead you to believe… at least I didn’t think so. I appreciated what Carolyn Turgeon did… I mean it has been three and a half weeks since I read it and I am still thinking about it. Here’s the deal: you should read it, and then message me. I am dying for people to discuss this book with but I will not ruin it.
Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale is another Carolyn Turgeon book. I really enjoyed this story at first. I have a problem with it though. It was really inappropriate. It looks like a young adult book but is incredibly inappropriate. The premise was fun the story was certainly compelling but for me I just cannot recommend it. One or two “scenes” I can skip, read around and generally get over their presence. This was just too much. It wasn’t incredibly graphic, it was just too much. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I did enjoy the story lines. One character I found somewhat despicable but I did enjoy Princess Margrethe and Princess Lenia’s stories. The conflict going on and both princess’ role in the future of the kingdom could have made a neat story but even that plot is pretty messed up. I don’t recommend this one.
Crime and Punishment is one that had been on my to-read list for a long time. In college I became fascinated by Russian music and Russian history. I would really like to study the Russian language. Then I started reading Tolstoy and loved it. I fully expected to read Dostoyevsky and love his writing too but I didn’t. It is the whole premise of the book that frustrates me. Young Raskolnikov is a member of the poor elite and thinks that he is above the moral law. In order to test his theory he commits murder. This is in the first several chapters of the book and the story is of the aftermath. Varying relationships get more complicated and are connected to the murder somehow. It seemed like the story and characters were devised to prove a point instead of learning throw the actions and thoughts of the characters.
The Gift of Asher Lev is the fourth book about Asher Lev. I don’t really want to give you any specifics about this book because if you haven’t read the other three I might ruin the story! If you haven’t read Chaim Potok you should put these on your to-read SOON list. By “soon” I really mean now. Yes, that’s how awesome they are. Out of all the books in this post go for Chaim Potok first. One of the ways I know something is a good book is when it leaves me curious and wanting to do research. Chaim Potok always leaves me feeling like I know so little about the Jewish community: in history and today and wanting to know more. Another thing I really love about his books is how deeply he interacts with art. Are you convinced?
Almost a Woman was not what I expected. I think I am learning that as a general rule coming of age stories are not my favorite. Esmerelda Santiago’s writing was great. I feel somewhat compelled to read more of her story simply because I like her writing. It definitely had it’s share of “scenes” or “near scenes” in it. No thank you. The generational break down of relationship was heart breaking. Young Esmerelda’s realization that while marriage was expected and demanded of her and her sisters, neither her mother nor grandmother (and many aunts and cousins) were ever married. The same sort of arguing she engaged in with her mother, Esmerelda’s mother was caught in with her grandmother. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if the emphasis had been on the immigrant experience and less on the coming of age awkwardness. Great writing but I am afraid I can’t recommend it.
The Next Full Moon is another Carolyn Turgeon. Another coming of age story, this one is about a Swan Maiden. I loved it. The way it ended definitely left room for a sequel and I really hope this one is coming. I appreciated that Turgeon dealt with Ava’s increasing interest in boys without any of the inappropriateness that was displayed in Mermaid. Since this book is definitely a young adult book I am happy to say that I think it is certainly appropriate. It is a fun take on coming of age… I can imagine a young girl reading it and thinking “well, this is an awkward age but at least I’m not suddenly growing feathers!” Yes, you read that right. Life is difficult but somewhat “normal” until Ava realizes she is growing feathers. This was a really fun and fast read.
Talisman Ring is by Georgette Heyer, so it’s a pretty safe bet that I liked it. This is one of Heyer’s more complex plots, using her typical two types of heroes and two types of heroines. What really cracks me up is that Sarah and Eustacie can be identified as which by their names! Sarah is the more practical and sensible female while Eustacie loves terrifying those she interacts with by stories of what could have happened to her if she had remained in France during the revolution. She is in love with romance and is disappointed that her life is so boring. The book opens with her Grandpere arranging a marriage of convenience to provide for her after his death with his nephew, Tristram. Tristram, the older commanding hero whose heart has previously been broken is startled by Eustacie’s disappointment that he is “suitable.” Ludovic enters the story later and Eustacie is entranced by his “romantic” story. Did Ludovic really commit murder? If he didn’t, who did? Is the foppish Beau all that he seems? Most importantly who is in possession of the talisman ring?
Portugal’s Golden Years: The Life and Times of Prince Henry “The Navigator” was somewhat disappointing. It did serve to make me want to research Prince Henry “the Navigator” but did not come across as solid history. There were too many grand claims such as “for the first time in history…” It was interesting but the language was a little to free for my comfort. That said, I am much more interested in both Portugese history and the crusades after reading it so in that sense it was a good read. If the reader is willing to work around some pretty sweeping language it does provide an interesting introduction to the topic. I will be posting a fuller review later.
George Washington Carver has always fascinated me. As a child after I studied him I begged my mother for a “nature notebook” to make observations in. This was a short little biography: approximately 150 pages that leaves me wanting to read much much more. As a quick reference or introduction I thought that John Perry did a great job. Carver’s ingenuity amazed me again and left me itching to work with my own seeds and plants more often. I want to track down his authorized biography and hope to learn much more about it. It is refreshing to return to a figure who captivated me as a child and be captivated again. The accounts of Carver’s presentations were fascinating and made me wish I could have been there as he pulled out use after use for the peanut and sweet potato. I have sweet potatoes planted in my garden and for some reason after reading this I cannot wait to start cooking with them. Maybe I should plant some more.
No Greater Love is another review copy I thoroughly enjoyed. Levi Benkert’s story is startling. In some ways it seems crazy. Believers who weren’t currently in church fellowship suddenly changing their lifestyle? It is easy to understand why these children made their way into their hearts though. The adoption piece was beautiful and heartbreaking. I’m not sure I would recommend the speed at which the Benkert’s made these decisions however I cannot deny that they were effective in Ethiopia. The plight of orphans that Levi describes is heartbreaking. I was feeling pretty convicted, especially at the point where Levi details how they sold almost all that they had to fund their plane tickets. Somehow it did seem that though he was up front about difficulty, the depth of pain did not quite come through. It was a good read but does not qualify as one of those books I am constantly giving away.
I did not include the four review copies I have already posted about: Wildflowers from Winter, Where Lilacs Still Bloom, Stress Point and A Touch of America. The titles are linked to my reviews of them.