Hidden Truth by Dawn Cook

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Title: Hidden Truth by Dawn Cook

Notable: Book #2 in the Truth series

Premise:

The story continues with Strell being trained by Bailic as a Keeper, and Alissa trying not to blow her cover.  Alissa accidentally wakes the city of Ese’ Nowoer and the magnetic Lodesh enters the scene as a rival love interest.  Useless continues to covertly tutor Alissa, and eventually Alissa undergoes a significant change.

My thoughts:

I zipped through this book, just like the previous one.  Even though the writing isn’t stellar, it’s rich in detail and kept me interested and wanting to find out what would happen next.  For those of you who can’t stand a slower paced book, I think this one would test your patience.  As I was progressing through the story and taking notes, I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot that was really happening.

There’s a lot of relationship intrigue and drama, people getting upset over seemingly unimportant things, waiting and/or skulking around.  There are a few action-packed scenes, but they’re not the norm for most of the book.  Personally, that didn’t bother me.

The characters in this book are probably what keeps me really interested.  Alissa is fairly petty/dramatic in her emotions, but not a stranger to admitting the error of her ways.  Strell seems to have taken a lesser role, serving more as a supporting character than in the first book, and Lodesh is quite intriguing.  I can’t wait to see what his role is in the next book.

Towards the end of the story, there’s a significant development for Alissa, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  All I’ll say is that it’s pretty cool.

I recommend Hidden Truth to fans of fantasy who like to see an empowered female protagonist.


Possible Objections:

  • A bit of violence
  • A tiny bit of language

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Ella Enchanted — Movie 2004

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A short while ago I watched Ella Enchanted after having finished the book.

If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.

I watched the Ella Enchanted movie before reading the book, so I already knew that I would like the story.  Even though I really enjoyed the movie, I was surprised by how much the story had been changed from the book.  Ella’s movie father is much, much nicer than in the book.  The other major difference is that Char and Ella’s love interest is developed in the movie in a way that it never is in the book.   Also, Char’s evil uncle was completely fabricated for the movie, but we were really gratified to see Cary Elwes in the role.  He must have had fun hamming it up and it reminded us of his performance in The Princess Bride.  The other change which made the movie so much fun was the way it melded modern and old-fashioned, including in costume, dance and singing.  Yes, singing!  Yes, a Queen song!  What more can I say?

Anne Hathaway had a huge part in making this movie the success that it is.  As we all know, she is a superb actress and this film showcases her abilities, even at a young-ish age.  Just like in the book, Ella is a feisty and opinionated Cinderella-type.  Hathaway puts just the right amount of wit, sass and charm into Ella to make her one of the most likable princesses out there.

I recommend Ella Enchanted to everybody who enjoys a good fairy tale.  My boys watched it with me, and even they conceded it was a good movie.

Rated: PG

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER ELLA ENCHANTED POSTS:

First Truth by Dawn Cook

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Title: First Truth by Dawn Cook

Notable: Book #1 in the Truth series

Premise:

When the magical abilities of a young woman named Alissa awaken, she must travel to the Hold where she can be trained.  Along the way, she meets a young man named Strell and the two are drawn into intrigue and adventure as Alissa begins to discover her latent magical abilities.

My thoughts:

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this book, probably because the last fantasy novel I read wasn’t exactly my favorite.  The author did a really nice job of creating interesting and believable characters, as well as telling a cohesive story rich in detail.  Oh, how I appreciate a fantasy story that makes sense right now!

Alissa and Strell are a bit petty in some scenes, but then again that could be chalked up to young people emotions.  I was plenty petty and ridiculous in my emotions as a young adult at times.  The magic in this story is interesting — more of an internal force than simply saying the right incantations.  I look forward to seeing how the magical abilities are developed, since we only get small glimpses of what is possible.

For those of you who enjoy seeing a strong female character take the lead in a fantasy story, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.  I have the next two books on standby on my bookshelf, and I can’t wait to get started on them!

I recommend First Truth to fans of fantasy who like to see an empowered female protagonist.


Possible Objections:

  • A bit of violence

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken by Terrance Dicks

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Title: Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken by Terrance Dicks

Notable: Book #37 in the Doctor Who Library series

Premise:

The Doctor and his current companion, a boy named Adric, are summoned to the planet of Traken.  Traken’s Keeper, who is about to die, needs the Doctor’s help to root out an evil which has established itself on their usually peaceful planet.  Once they arrive on Traken, the Doctor realizes that this is no mere grouchy-pants alien he’s dealing with — it’s a foe he’s met many times before.

My thoughts:

I’m not reading the books in this series in order, but honestly I don’t think it matters too much.  Each Doctor Who episode/story generally does quite well as a stand-alone story.  The previous Doctor Who novel I read was also by Terrance Dicks, and his writing was great in this novel, as in the previous one.

One of the things that I love about these books is that I can see the action taking place in my head.  It’s just like a Doctor Who episode, full of dialogue, interesting characters and lots of action.  This book features the fourth Doctor — floppy hat, long scarf and all.  He is accompanied by Adric, a previous inhabitant of E-space, and meets young lady named Nyssa in this story.  I know that the story is based on an actual TV episode, but sadly I didn’t grow up watching Doctor Who, so it has no nostalgic value to me.

Now, this particular story line is interesting.  It introduces us to a society in which one individual takes on the task of “keeping” the rest of society safe.  The Keeper feels all of the emotions that are not conducive to a peaceful society, as well as being a wise leader and maintainer of order.  One of the Doctor’s greatest enemies decides to take advantage of this amazing power and is very nearly successful in enslaving an entire planet.  I don’t want to give you all the details, but it was a rollicking good adventure.

I recommend Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken to Doctor Who fans everywhere.  Read it so that you can be thorough in your obsession with all things Doctor Who.  😉


Possible Objections:

  • A bit of violence

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #3

Here’s my fifth and final word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.  There were so many character and place names in this novel!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #3

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #2

Here’s my fourth word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #2

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Places #1

Here’s my third word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Places #1

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Characters #2

Here’s my second word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Characters #2

Printable “Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle — Characters #1

Here’s my first word find for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne!

Simply click on the link below and either print, or save it to your computer and then print.  Enjoy!

“Around the World in Eighty Days” Word Find Puzzle – Characters #1

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Title: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Premise:

As children, Heathcliff and Catherine are inexorably drawn together.  Despite their differing natures and weaknesses of character, one can scarcely exist without the other.  Catherine’s haughtiness drives Heathcliff away and stirs him to make his way in the world.  When Heathcliff returns, life at Wuthering Heights will never be the same.  Heathcliff can’t let go of the past and seeks revenge for every real and imagined slight he suffered there.  He and Catherine are like two stars destined to crash into one another and destroy everything near them.

My thoughts:

I first read Wuthering Heights in high school because it was required reading.  I don’t even remember what I thought of it back then, except that it was a bit spooky.  Reading it now, it’s not the spookiness that struck me so much as the examination of human nature.  Heathcliff is such a diabolical character and seems completely beyond redemption.  And yet, despite the fact that he was a dastardly villain, I couldn’t bring myself to truly dislike him.  There’s a part in all of us which feels satisfaction in seeing someone else get revenge on those who have done them wrong.  I’m not saying I condone it, but something in my psyche wants Heathcliff to avenge himself.  Perhaps that’s the lasting draw of this novel — its ability to make the reader examine good and evil in his fellow man, but also in himself.

When you think about when this book was written, it was a very daring tale for its time.  Especially when you consider that it came from a relatively inexperienced young lady.  It’s impressive that she was so adept at capturing human nature and what makes the human race feel hatred, love, and every shade of emotion in between.

This was such an engrossing read for me, that the last part of the book kept me up until the wee hours of the morning.  I simply couldn’t put it down and had to learn the fate of Heathcliff, as well as his young charges.  The ending is so fitting and perfect.  It was a completely satisfying read.  Highly recommended!

I recommend Wuthering Heights to fans of classic literature and anyone who enjoys a messed up love story.

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language
  • A derogatory term for a loose female is used a few times
  • Some violence

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Arcady by Michael Williams

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Title: Arcady by Michael Williams

Notable: Book #1 in the Arcady series

Premise:

Solomon’s childhood home of Arcady is threatened by a destructive and mysterious force known as the Absence.  Though Solomon’s education at the Seminary has caused him to become jaded and cynical toward Magic and religion, he yet has a role to play in the salvation of his homeland.

My thoughts:

This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read.  For the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the book, I was pretty much lost.  There were slight connections between events and characters, but not enough to make it seem like a cohesive story.  Not until I was past the halfway mark did the different parts of the story come together and it started to make sense.

I say started, because the narrative never truly came together into a completely understandable story.  This book is absolutely full of half-formed ideas and images — magic, ethereal and difficult to fully grasp.  The characters are strange too, mysterious without adequate explanation of how they came to be that way.  That’s not really my cup of tea, but I muscled my way through the foggy and indistinct imagery and concepts because I don’t like to quit books unless they’re truly awful.

There’s a certain satisfaction to the end of the story.  The baddy is thwarted at least partially, things that were lost can now be rebuilt, the Hawken family isn’t at odds with itself anymore.  Apparently there’s a sequel to this book, but I don’t know if I’ll read it.  It was really tough getting through this one and I don’t feel ready to tackle another tedious read right now.

I recommend Arcady to those who like high fantasy that explores religious themes and imagery.

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Shunning by Beverly Lewis

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Title: The Shunning by Beverly Lewis

Notable: Book #1 in The Heritage of Lancaster County series

Premise:

Katie Lapp is a young Amish woman who is set to marry Bishop John Beiler.  Her heart still belongs to her first love, Dan, who tragically drowned at sea.  She hopes that her marriage to John will give her a new start in life and restore some happiness that she’s been missing.  Just before Katie’s wedding, a family secret comes to light that tears her world apart and she must decide which path is the right one to take.

My thoughts:

This is not my normal reading material at all, so I had a bit of a tough time getting into it.  The book starts out fairly slow, so that contributed as well.  Once I got several chapters in, the action and intrigue picked up and then I couldn’t put it down!  The best way I can describe this story is to say that if a Hallmark movie were to become a book, this would be it.  If that’s too feel-good and emotional for you, you would have a tough time with this book.

There is a strong Christian element to the story, but it didn’t seem out of character, given that it’s about the Amish.  I appreciate all of the small details that the author included about the Amish way of life.  You can tell that she really did her homework.  The story itself is pretty good.  I wasn’t expecting rip-roaring suspense, but it kept my interest and made me want to read the next in the series.

I don’t want to give away the plot, but suffice it to say that Katie goes through an identity crisis of sorts.  She has to figure out what her future life will look like and deal with the consequences of her choice.  It’s rather heartbreaking, really.

I recommend The Shunning to those who enjoy tame romantic stories and reading about the Amish.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori