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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Review of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Overview from Scottish writer J M Barrie wrote both a play and a novel about the boy Peter Pan, who wouldn't grow up. This is the novel. Peter Pan lives with all the other Lost Boys in Neverland, where they never have to grow up. He visits Wendy Darling by flying through her bedroom window, and brings she and her brothers into Neverland where they encounter the fairy Tinkerbell, the princess Tiger Lily and the pirate Captain Cook.

My Review:

What could anyone possibly say about this classic that hasn't been said before? I am not sure but I am going to give it a go. Maybe nothing.

I will say that on this latest read of one of my favorite classics what struck me the most was how much the Walt Disney version retains from Mr. Barrie's original about the boy who refused to grow up. I grew up on all the Disney classics, including this one and read most of the books in later years. Most, if not all of them, had many details and nearly the entire stories changed in the film versions.

Peter Pan on the other hand  kept many characteristics. In reading it this time I remembered a lot of things from my reading that had also been in the movie. Namely the crocodile with the ticking clock inside his stomach. Don't ask me why I especially remembered that but I did.

The second thing that struck me was how Mr. Barrie often inserts himself in this story as it is told from an omniscient point of view. Maybe it is because I had recently read a book on the subject of writing that discussed this characteristic of Victorian literature and why it should probably be avoided in books for modern readers. But it was something that nearly hit me in the face this time around and I understood why my writing book suggests that it be avoid. Nevertheless, for me, this was just part of the book's charm.

So I am recommending this book particularly for children and those of us who used to be children. I think it is good reminder of what it is like to have fun, use your imagination, and never grow up, or at least don't take yourself too seriously.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beneath a Navajo Moon

Beneath a Navajo Moon

Review of Beneath a Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter

Overview from The search for a woman who disappeared in 1906 has lead cultural anthropologist Erin Dawson to Cedar Canyon, where the iconic terrain of red rock walls and mesas keep Navajo traditions—and maybe criminal evidence—well hidden. When Erin’s search leads her to cross paths with tribal policeman Adam Silverhorn, it’s hardly love at first sight. But everywhere she turns, Adam is already there.
Fighting their feelings for each other, the two are suddenly thrust into a battle far more dangerous—a common quest to rout an insidious drug cartel that has spawned the recent rise in gang violence on the reservation. Adam’s position of authority gives Erin a rare glimpse into Navajo life few outsiders like her ever see—and into a crime ring that no one dares to imagine. As danger mounts, Adam and Erin begin to wonder if they will live to tell how they really feel.

My Review:

This week's story surprised me since it wasn't at all what it seemed. It had its thriller element to be sure but when it came down to it, it really seemed more of a love story, a story of forbidden love. 

Our main character, Erin Dawson comes to the Navajo Res to investigate what happened to a female ancestor in her adopted family. I don't remember exactly who was adopted but I think it was her father. Still the fact that they were not blood-related in no way diminished Erin's enthusiasm to find out what happened to Olivia.

This was the part of the story that held my interest as well. Olivia and her life at the mission school in Arizona and later as the bride of her Navajo captor was interesting to say the least. In a time when a white woman who married a Native American and had children by him would probably have been considered disgusting, Olivia was bound and determined to her husband and life on the Res. What Erin wanted to know was, did she succeed?

The downside for me was that most of the story focused on Erin and her troubles in the here and now. This part wasn't as interesting except for the little tidbits about Navajo culture. Her man troubles bored me most of the time. Her interest in Olivia didn't but Olivia was not the focus of the story which was too bad because I think I might have enjoyed her story more.

The race around the canyon and the cave for the Mexican drug dealers and the discussion of their threat to the people did interest me but I found myself wondering whether the author was trying to jam in too many characters' stories into one book. I guess it worked overall but as I said I like some parts better than others.

Overall I think this story would be a better fit for someone who likes Romance stories about all else and Christian Romance at that, with just a little bit of history thrown into the mix. For me, it had its good points but it wasn't my favorite. I would to hear someone else's opinion on this story though, especially if they have some background in the Navajo culture. Let me hear from you please.

Contains: some action violence and sensuality

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Review of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Overview from A treasured classic from Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden is the story of young Mary Lennox. The newly orphaned girl is sent to live with her uncle and soon discovers many secrets at the estate-among them a neglected garden hidden behind a locked gate she will work to revive with her cousin as well a local boy with a green thumb changing not only the garden, but the lives of everyone as well.

My Review:

This week’s selection is one that I have read before at least twice though I can’t be sure that I have not read it more often. It tells the tale of three young children, beginning with Miss Mary Lennox, who has just recently moved to a large house in Yorkshire after a sudden unexpected illness, has just killed both of her parents.

Mary arrives at the home of her uncle in a foul mood for she has already made up her mind to dislike everyone that she meets. She is described as “yellow” and “sour” by all who meet her but despite herself; her attitude slowly begins to change.

It begins when she encounters her new maid, Martha. She is unlike any other maid that Mary has had before. She tells Mary exactly what she thinks about everything, including herself. Mary had never before considered what other people thought of her. She mostly spent her time considering how much she disliked others but now that the truth was brought to her attention she found it fascinating.

Later things begin to improve for her even more when she meets Dickon, Martha’s younger brother, and finds the key to a secret garden that her uncle and guardian, Mr. Craven has locked up. When she later finds that the source of the crying she hears in the night belongs to a cousin that she didn’t know existed, she looks forward to the day when she can share her secret garden with him as well as Dickon. She believes that the garden will help him recover from his illness.

As you may already know, this book is considered a classic by many people today. There were even a couple of movie versions made. I remember seeing one of them in the 80’s I think when I was growing up. I also found another version on Netflix recently. I hope to watch it sometime in the future.

I remember liking the one from the 80’s. I am not sure if I will like the other one but maybe I post a review of that one as well.

As to the book itself, it is a very interesting book, even for adults. In fact, I’d have a hard time imagining children of today reading since the vocabulary is more advanced than I think many children of today are capable of understanding.

It is also an interesting study in the power of positive thinking. I noticed that much more this time around than I had before. And in the vain, I will close with a quote that illustrates that.

“Two things cannot be in one place
“’Where you tend a rose, my lad,
“’A thistle cannot grow.’” P.198

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fatal Distraction

Fatal Distraction

Review of Fatal Distraction by Diane Capri

Overview from Relentless victims' rights advocate Jess Kimball and Jack Reacher both deliver justice when the legal system fails. Reacher waits until trouble finds him and then he does whatever it takes. But Jess pursues legal justice and draws lines she will not cross. How can she win against killers who refuse to follow the rules?
Three years ago, beloved Florida Governor Helen Sullivan's world shattered when her only son died in a senseless car crash, killing his best friend, too. Helen quickly discovered Eric's crash was no accident and lured the killer to her son's funeral to be caught.
When the shooting ceased in the small country church, Helen believed her nightmare was over. Instead, she'd unwittingly escalated her duel with a cunning and patient assassin.
Now, investigative journalist Jess Kimball is driven to find the horrifying truth. Is the Central Florida Child Killer guilty? Or is the real killer still out there?
Helen and Jess together face the determined killer in a pitched battle of wit and nerve. Who will survive?

My Review:

This week’s story is a Thriller written by Diane Capri whose work I have reviewed before. Last time it was part of the Jack Reacher series I think though I later discovered that it was told from the perspective of different characters than the Jack Reacher stories were. Anyway, it confused me a great deal so in the end I didn’t like it.

This one, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. The story starts us off with Helen Sullivan, governor of Florida, who is contemplating a run for the senate when her term as governor is over which will be in a month or so.

Governor Sullivan is very resolute woman who has endured more than her fair share of tragedy. Many years ago her son died in a drunken driving accident that appears to be his fault. And his best friend was riding in the car with him.

Now she and her husband are trying to put the tragedy behind them but the more recent stroke that her husband Oliver suffered has left him distressed and in desperate need of therapy. Unfortunately Oliver’s mental recovery seems to be taking much longer than expected.

One night he contemplates suicide, even going so far as to right a note when something makes him change his mind. Yet while he sleeps, an unknown killer is planning his death by fire in an attempt to get Helen to crack. From there things just continue to get worse and worse for the couple.

Meanwhile a reporter named Jess discovers some new evidence that suggests that Sullivan should consider granting a reprieve in the execution of one Tommy Taylor who was convicted of murdering several children. But Helen is determined to see it through and not to leave the problem for the next governor. Jess and Helen then start to become convinced that there might be a connection between the attempted murder of her husband and the children who were allegedly killed by Tommy Taylor.

I don’t want to put any spoilers in here so I leave the rest of the plot for the reader to discover but I liked this story much more than I expected. The ending was refreshingly different and yet it made sense.

The characters were also likable. I was able to understand Helen’s apparent stoicism as much as Jess’s sudden displeasure in discovering that Tommy Taylor might just be innocent of some of the crimes he is accused of. The all seemed relatable to some degree, though perhaps the villain was a little less so but that’s the idea isn’t it?

Also, while the story has a few words of profanity in it, it was not so bad that I stopped reading and there were no fbombs that I can recall. I think this story would also make a great movie, probably PG-13 so I don’t know what those Hollywood executives are waiting for. If you like Thrillers, you could do a lot worse than this one.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Book of Deacon

The Book of Deacon

Review of The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo

Overview from The tale of Myranda Celeste, a young woman orphaned by a century long war, and her chance discovery of a fallen soldier's priceless cargo. The find will change her life, sending her on an adventure of soldiers and rebels, wizards and warriors, and beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step will bring her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.

My Review:

The Book of Deacon seems terribly misnamed since the book starts off with our main character that is named Myranda. Myranda is young girl who is forced to wander through the world on her own after the death of her mother and uncle as well as the presumed death or disappearance of her father.

The world as Myranda knows it has been at war for over a hundred years so war has become a way of life for her people who represent an alliance of Northern kingdoms. They are at war against a Southern country known simply as Tressor. But Myranda’s main problem is not necessarily the war itself but the fact that she is against the war in general and thus does not take a side. Apparently the only thing worse than someone in league with the enemy is “sympathizer” which is what she has come to be labeled as.

She goes from town to town trying to scramble up some food to eat while attempting to hide her true feelings. Unfortunately it usually isn’t a long time before she lets her true feelings out and is either kicked out of the town or given bad directions to somewhere else.

When her luck seems to change for the better one day after finding a dead soldier whose money she can use as well as his sword, her troubles are actually only just beginning.

As I said earlier, the story seems somewhat misnamed as the character of Deacon doesn’t appear until around the second half of the book and even then the story still tends to be mainly told from Myranda’s point of view. Perhaps Deacon will feature more in the stories to come. I would guess so.

I am still not sure that I would be as interested in reading them. The character of Myranda seemed more relatable to me when she was an outcast but when it becomes clear that she is a wizard prodigy, not as much.

On the plus side the story is engaging. And some of the characters, including Deacon, are very interesting. And there is a dragon. I don’t know why but I like dragons.

Also, there is not any bad language or sexually explicit material thus far so it is a story that teens or older children could enjoy.

I can recommend this one. I am not so sure about future installments yet but if I do get around to reading one of them, I will post the review here.