A Reader's Diary

Friday, March 31, 2006

Review of Queen of the Amazons by Judith Tarr

Today's review:

Queen of the Amazons by Judith Tarr (youth fantasy/historical fiction)

Summary: When the Queen of the tribe of women known to Greeks as the Amazons gives birth to a daughter, everyone is shocked to discover that the newborn is empty: she has no soul. But the more shocking is the Queen's decision to only to let the baby live, but to name her as heir to the throne. One day, the girl flees the camp, drawn like a moth to a flame to the West when she/"it" hears of a young conqueror sweeping across Asia: Alexander the Great.

My thoughts: A good, engrossing story. I enjoyed this unique mix of fantasy and history. A bir dry overall, a bit hard to get too much into the characters, but still lots to like, with a great, fast-paced epic conclusion.

~Happy reading!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mistakes in books; Review of Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

Mistakes in books are a pet peeve of mine. I'm currently reading Robert J. Sawyer's Hybrids (Book 3 in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy), and a character in the book states that she is listening to "The Woman in Me" on Shania Twain's "Come on Over" CD. Another song is mentioned too. Both are from the "Woman in Me" CD (hence the title!). Mistakes like that are so annoying, they make me want to be an editor so I can catch these things before they go to print.


Today's review:

Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs (forensic-mystery-thriller)

Summary: Dr. Brennan believes the skeletons of three girls found in the basement of a Montreal pizza parlor are the fairly recent victims of a killer, but she has a hard time convincing Claudel that they aren't 19th century archaeological material. As usual, it seems someone doesn't want her digging into this case. Meanwhile, her relationship with Ryan is on the rocks and an emotionally unstable friend drops in for a visit.

My thoughts: Not to give away any plot spoilers, but the subject of the novel ties in with a case recently in the news again. The Ryan problem was a bit predictable, and the thing with Tempre's friend was a bit odd, but the great climax to the story more than made up for it. Another great addition to this series.

With all the movies being made out of books these days, it's also nice to see TV series also being developed from book series; "Bones" is a great show based (somewhat loosely) on Kathy Reichs' Tempe Brennan novels.

~Happy reading!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Review of Deafening by Frances Itani

Today's review:

Deafening by Frances Itani (literary fiction; historical; Canadian)

Summary: When Grania is just five years old, scarlet fever robs her of her hearing, then her language. But her loving and dedicated grandmother helps her to learn to read and to speak again. Later Grania is sent to the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville, where she learns to sign and to speak properly with her voice. As a young woman, she meets Jim, a hearing man, and they marry. Yet only two short weeks after their wedding, he leaves for the battlefields of WWI Europe. They write to each other, but their most powerful and emotional letters are written only in their minds. While some families receive tragic news and others wait for word, the 1918 influenze pandemic hits with a devastating impact, and people try their best to hold on to life and hope.

My thoughts: Deafening is a beautiful story. The contrast between the innocence of Grania's enclosed childhood and the harshness of war is striking. It is a love story, but not only a romantic one: it tells of the love between grandmother and grand-daughter, older sister and younger, husband and wife. Although I would have liked a longer ending, or an epilogue, the reader can use her or her imagination to fill in the gaps of what happened afterwards, and to many readers this may be preferable. All in all, a beautifully written story that hold your attention (not always easy in literary fiction) and stay with you long after you have closed the covers.

Itani dedicates her novel in part to her own grandmother, who was deaf since the age of one.

Happy reading!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Reviews: High School Bites and Bare Bones

Todays reviews:

High School Bites by Liza Conrad (teen fic; vampire)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Lucy finds out that she is descended from a line of Lucys beginning with the Lucy of Bram Stoker's Dracula. She also finds out that Dracula is still alive and a threat and there are other vampires everywhere, including her own sometime-boyfriend Vic. Lucy must defeat Dracula; suddenly math class isn't her worst nightmare after all.

My thoughts: Despite a lower reading level that I found annoying at times (a lot of redundant repetition), it's a good story and much more in-depth and interesting than I expected. Feels like a set-up for a series. It made me very interested in reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. All in all, a good story for such a quick read.

Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs (forensic-mystery-thriller)

Summary: Tempe's plans for a beach trip with Ryan are interuppted by the discovery of a buried bag full of bear parts... and a couple of human bones. This draws Dr. Brennan deep into the world of the black market in endangered animals and plants, and as the body count climbs, she discovers personally just how far these criminals are willing to go.

My thoughts: A very interesting story, though quite convoluted. It was difficult to keep all of the characters straight. A bit of a metaphor overload in the speaking styles of the characters. A nice bit of romance between Tempe and Ryan, quite refreshing in a series that focuses on the grim and grotesque. Overall another good read in a great series.

Currently reading: Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

Happy reading!