The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

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Title: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Notable: Book #1 in the Nancy Drew mystery series

Premise:

Nancy Drew, a young lady who lives with her lawyer father, has a penchant for sleuthing.  When an old man dies and leaves his entire estate to a family he disliked, Nancy wants to investigate whether or not a later will was written.

My thoughts:

Nancy Drew mysteries are what you would call old-fashioned and quaint.  I can just picture Nancy zipping around in her little convertible in her just-so prim dresses.  I’m not one for a lot of prim and proper damsel kind of garbage, but Nancy has enough spunk and daring that I’m willing to overlook her prissiness.

The mystery itself isn’t mind blowing or terribly complex, but it’s a fun story for a younger person who enjoys the genre.  If you want your kids to get started on a mystery series that isn’t morally objectionable in any way, you’ll want to check out this series.  Or maybe you read Nancy Drew as a kid and just want to revisit the books for nostalgia’s sake.  Whatever floats your boat, man.

I recommend The Secret of the Old Clock to those who enjoy tame mysteries featuring a teen/young adult protagonist.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Lost Truth by Dawn Cook

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Title: Lost Truth by Dawn Cook

Notable: Book #4 in the Truth series

Premise:

This fantasy dragon adventure finally wraps up with Alissa, Strell, Lodesh and Connen-Neute going on a journey to find some long-lost comrades.  Alissa and her true love are finally united, though that means one young man is left seriously disappointed.

My thoughts:

After enjoying the previous book so much, this one was a bit of a letdown.  The action was interesting, with several new characters being introduced (which was a welcome relief) and a completely new setting.  Meeting Keribdis brought the story full-circle and it allowed Talo-Toecan to face the foibles of his past which had wreaked so much havoc.

The resolution to Alissa’s love triangle fiasco was sadly disappointing to me.  I didn’t care much for her choice (I tend to root for the underdog), and it didn’t really seem to matter much anymore.  In the previous book her relationship with this particular character had been neglected so much that I pretty much lost interest in it altogether.  There wasn’t enough in this volume to convince me that she was really committed to the relationship.  The other character she had been attached to is basically discarded at the end of the story and that really rankled me.  Oh well.  I’ll get over it.

I recommend Lost Truth to fans of fantasy, dragons and female heroines!


Possible Objections:

  • A bit of violence

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Forgotten Truth by Dawn Cook

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Title: Forgotten Truth by Dawn Cook

Notable: Book #3 in the Truth series

Premise:

Alissa continues to train with Talo-Toecan, but when she practices a new skill it accidentally sends her back in time.  She’s still in the environs of the Hold, but ends us 400 years in the past, when Lodesh was just a young man.  Alissa tries to find her way back to Strell and her own time, but her feelings for Lodesh become much more complicated.

My thoughts:

This is my favorite book in the series so far.  There’s a richness to the Hold and Ese’ Nawoer of the past that is completely missing in the previous two books (probably because they’re unpopulated, no?).  The characters of Connen-Neute and Lodesh were a real pleasure to see developed, and there were several strong supporting characters, as well.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Alissa’s love life, but it seems like she might have three possible suitors now.  I’m rooting for Connen-Neute, though in truth, I don’t even know if he’s a real contender.  Strell was missing for most of this book and the few scenes he was in weren’t very compelling.  I found myself losing my attachment to his character–eek!  Lodesh likewise has lost some of his shine, based on some underhanded dealings on his part.

I didn’t care too much for the end of this book.  The men all seem totally defeated or amazingly oblivious, while Alissa lords it over them and won’t let go of one of them.  That young lady is being awfully selfish!  We’ll see where this story goes in the next volume…

I recommend Forgotten Truth to fans of fantasy and dragons!


Possible Objections:

  • A bit of violence
  • A tiny bit of language

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 adapted & illustrated by Young Kim

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Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 adapted & illustrated by Young Kim

Notable: Book #2 in the Twilight Graphic Novels series (incomplete series)

Premise:

This book picks up in the middle of the original Twilight book.  It covers Edward and Bella’s growing relationship, Bella’s introduction to the Cullen family, and James and Victoria’s hunt to catch Bella.

My thoughts:

Honestly, I thought this book was even better than the first one.  Probably the best part is when Edward tells Bella about the history of his family.  The narrative takes on more of an actual story and not just the longing looks and professions of love that we constantly hear from Edward and Bella.  Bella also gets to meet the Cullen family and is mostly welcomed with open arms, except by Rosalie who’s still a little uptight about becoming a vampire.

It seemed like the part with Victoria, James and Laurent wasn’t quite so impressive as it was in the original novel and the movie.  James just seemed like a creepy dude and I didn’t get an adequate sense of how dangerous and terrifying he really was.  Victoria wasn’t much more than a bit player, and Laurent seemed like just another sweet guy.  Where was the danger and menace?  Okay, rant over.  Really, I did enjoy the book.

I recommend Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 to Twilight fans as an interesting alternative.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 adapted & illustrated by Young Kim

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Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 adapted & illustrated by Young Kim

Notable: Book #1 in the Twilight Graphic Novels series (incomplete series)

Premise:

Bella Swan moves from sunny Phoneix to overcast Forks, Washington when her mother remarries.  She doesn’t have high hopes for life in this new town until she meets hunky Edward Cullen.  The interest is mutual, but the closer Bella gets to Edward, the more she realizes that there’s more to him than meets the eye.

My thoughts:

I was a bit unsure about this rendition of Twilight when I checked it out from the library.  I’m a fan of the Twilight series, but I was concerned this would be boring, maybe because I already know the story so well.  I guess I had the attitude of, yeah I already know that story.  Not the best way to start a book–with an attitude.

The artistic style is different from most of the graphic novels I’ve read, but it’s not unfamiliar to me.  It’s actually very similar to the type of artwork my niece does–with a strong Asian influence.  Young Kim does amazing eyes–amazing!  At times the characters’ proportions were a little off, especially if they were posing at an odd angle, but it wasn’t too bad.  (Poor Edward, in one scene, looks like he has a hunched shoulder.  Tee-hee!)

Overall, I enjoyed seeing the story told from a fresh perspective.  Young had an idea of how the story should look and she utilized some interesting and inventive scene setup and angles throughout the book.  Text was really kept to a minimum, but what was included got to the meat of the story.  It seemed to flow well and make sense.  So, even though I went into the book with an attitude, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the second volume.  This one leaves off right in the middle of the story.

I recommend Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 to Twilight fans.  It’s fun to see a new take on the story.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders

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A special thank-you to Macmillan and Goodreads for providing an ARC for me to review!

Title: Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders

Premise:

The focus of this book is to share Bernie Sanders’ views on the major political issues of the day and the ways he would address them.  He seeks to inform readers about the broken policies and practices in the areas of a livable wage, taxes, Wall Street, health care, higher education, immigration, climate change, and policing and criminal justice.

My thoughts:

I think that this book accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: share Bernie’s political views and solutions with a younger generation.  The text and explanations are clear and concise, breaking down the issues into language which most young people would understand.  If you’re older or looking for a particularly in-depth analysis and explanations, you’ll be disappointed, but remember that’s not the aim of this book.

I had heard Bernie’s views leading up to the election of course, but this is a quick and easy way to learn about his political views.  The problems he talks about in each area are enlightening and it’s good to be informed about the problems our country is facing and why.  Quite frankly, I got angry and/or depressed after reading each chapter.  There is so much injustice in this country, especially being perpetuated by corrupt big business and political powers.  The rich really do have a racket going on in this country and the little people are at a major disadvantage in righting those wrongs.  So, I wouldn’t recommend reading this right before bed because you’ll probably get angry and sit there fuming in bed while you should be sleeping.

I think Bernie’s aim is not to get people depressed and feeling helpless, but to encourage them (especially young people) to get involved in politics.  While it may seem overwhelming because there are so many areas of corruption, we can each choose one area that we feel strongly about and focus our energies and efforts there.  One person cannot do everything, but each one of us can do something.  A lot of little people working to make change will add up to large changes in our society and political system.  I think Bernie Sanders is a politician with heart who keeps the well-being of everyday people in mind.  That’s a rare thing today.

I recommend Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution to young people who would like to learn more about the major political issues of the day, and see how Sanders would address those issues.  It’s also appropriate for adults who are looking for a basic, concise book about Sanders’ views.

A favorite quote:

“I believe that the government has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable–the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.  But I do not believe that the government should burden taxpayers with financially supporting profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country.  That’s absurd.”  (p. 10)

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Thrift Store – Young Adult Reading Challenge #1

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Having finished the romance reading challenge, I’m ready for a break from that particular genre.  I found these five books in the young adult/juvenile section at my local Goodwill and am looking forward to reading them!

I read the Twilight series several years ago, but never formally reviewed them.  And I have to say that I don’t mind reading them again.  Even though they’re rather teenager-y books, they are also strangely addictive.  The Hunger Games series has been recommended to me by more than one person, but this will be the first time I’ve even taken a look inside one.  What can I say?  I tend to shy away from the latest craze, sometimes shunning that item for years.  There must be a contrariness built into my nature.

READING LIST:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fault in our Stars - WM

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Huzzah–The Fault in Our Stars is the last book from my Friends & Family Top Picks Reading Challenge!  I’m glad to have finished the challenge (enjoyed it thoroughly) and am looking forward to working on the next one.  On to the book…

 Can I start off by saying that this is an amazing book?  Oh, I can?  Well then…whatever.  No need to repeat myself.  It’s hard to put into words what makes this book so awesome.  The characters are completely lovable, despite seeing their flaws, insecurities and brokenness.  Their difficult circumstances make me want to root for them 100%.  And it just seems like an epic story.  One of those stories that melts your heart and shapes it into something a little bit different from how it started.

I really don’t want to ruin this story for you, so I’ll stick to generalities in my analysis.  The story revolves around two main characters, Hazel and Augustus.  Each of them has/is still having a brush with cancer and they meet at a support group.  They grow close to one another and in the midst of this closeness, they truly transform one another’s lives.  Plot-wise, there isn’t a ton of major action in this book.  There are hospital stays and a little bit of travel, but most of the story stays close to home.  It’s set among a limited cast of characters.  I think that this closeness in telling the story allows the reader to become more attached to the story.  It starts to feel like you are one of the bystanders experiencing the situation from the periphery.

The ending will have to remain a secret in this post.  I can’t rob somebody of the satisfaction of reading it for themselves.  I will say that it was satisfying, for me personally.  The Fault in Our Stars helped me empathize more with those who have been touched by cancer.  In other ways I feel like it has made me a better person.  It speaks to the significance of human life, examining what makes a life lived worthwhile.  Read the book to find out the conclusion that the book arrives at on that particular subject.

I would recommend the book for teens and up.  If you’ve already read it, please let me know what you thought!

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language
  • A mild sexual scene

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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