Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell

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Dear Fellow Reader,

Love’s Pursuit is the second book I have read by Siri Mitchell and I guarantee it will not be the last. Her ability as a writer is excellent. Not only do her books deal with the real struggles and hopes of people, but her characters are incredibly captivating. You will not be able to stop yourself from becoming emotionally invested in the fate of her characters.

Love's Pursuit by Siri MitchellIn Love’s Pursuit, Siri Mitchell gives the reader a glimpse into the strict and sometimes cruel society of Puritans in New England during the 1600’s. Throughout the story, the characters grab at your heart and pull at your emotions as they encounter both love and tragedy in a community desperate to keep up a veneer of holiness. As the book progresses, this “holy” veneer is slowly stripped away revealing a village filled with hypocrisy and bitterness.

Siri Mitchell kept my curiosity going through to the very end. Every time I thought I knew where she was going with the story, she changed directions. I also loved the multiple perspectives the author gives in the book by having two different characters narrate the story. I would definitely recommend this book. If, after reading Love’s Pursuit, you find yourself craving more of Siri Mitchell’s writing, I suggest you read She Walks in Beauty.

Read well my friends and be well read.

Mortal by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

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Dear Fellow Reader,mortal

Warning! The following critique of Mortal (the second book in the Book of Mortals series by Ted Dekker/Tosca Lee) will leave you uninspired to read other works by this writing duo.

In this post-apocalyptic novel, human emotion has been genetically restricted to encompass fear and nothing else. After centuries of only feeling varying degrees of fear, the human race is given the chance to feel the entire spectrum of true emotion once again by partaking of a powerful blood from a messianic boy. By reading this book, you too can expand your emotional spectrum and begin to explore new levels of annoyance, anger, and downright boredom.

The plot for the Book of Mortals series is a painful and poorly done rehashing of the Circle series by Ted Dekker. Consequently, I was able to predict a majority of Mortal‘s key plot points and character choices. In short, it was a predictable bore. I found myself itching to skip ahead, not because of scintillating suspense or insatiable intrigue, but simply because I wanted it to be over.

Even though this book cruelly stole hours away from my life, I am still a fan of Ted Dekker. Should you find yourself wanting to read something decent and respectable by this author, I recommend you read the Circle series, The Bride Collector or The Priest’s Graveyard.

Read well my friends and be well read.

Rivers: A Novel by Michael Farris Smith

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Dear Fellow Reader,

Michael Farris Smith’s first novel, “Rivers,” left me feeling torn. While the concept of the book drew me in, the execution of the writing left me wanting. I enjoyed exploring the stormy and lawless world Smith created. The descriptions of continuous rains, floods, lightning and thunder definitely left me craving to see blue skies, dry lands, and calm winds.Rivers

My main complaint about this book stems from its viewpoint. Since the book is written from an omniscient point of view it made it difficult for me to connect to any one character. Furthermore, the continuous jumping around from one character’s perspective to another made the writing confusing at times and consequently drew me away from the story as I tried to discern what the author was saying.

In spite of its weaknesses, I am glad I took a chance and read this book by an author I had never read before. If you are looking for a unique read, then give this book a chance. Just keep in mind, it is neither hot nor cold and might leave you feeling lukewarm as it left me.

Read well my friends and be well read.

“The Priest’s Graveyard” by Ted Dekker

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Dear Fellow Readers,

On par with The Bride Collector, The Priest’s Graveyard is another stunning thriller by Ted Dekker. Once again, this author brings to life an unforgettable story of vengeance, judgment and redemption filled with incredibly vivid and compelling characters. You will not want to put it down. The Priest's Graveyard

The book deals with some very dark topics including drug abuse, murder, and torture. The ethical and moral dilemmas presented in the plot give rise to questions concerning justice, retaliation, and the dangers of judging others. I was completely engrossed in this superb book. I loved the format of story telling and what a killer twist! This is Ted Dekker at his best. Filled with great imagery and symbolism, I loved the message of boundless grace resulting ultimately in freedom from the damnation of the law.

I recommend the audiobook version. Both actors who read the book do a fantastic job of expressing the complex emotions of the characters. Their artfully done reading drives the story forward and connects you to the characters so closely you feel as though you know these people. This book is a must-read.

Read well my friends and be well read.

“Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Dear Fellow Readers,

I must admit the main feature that initially attracted me to read this book was the fact that it was narrated by Ben Kingsley. He is such a convincing actor and has a superb voice. I thought to myself, “if anyone can give credibility and respect to the story of Tarzan, surely it would be him.” Well, I was right. I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook presentation.

English: Color cover of the book ', written by...

English: Color cover of the book ‘, written by and published in 1914. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the first time, I found myself intrigued and excited about the story of Tarzan. Published in 1914, this book has an eloquent style of writing I never would have expected from a story about a man who is raised in a primordial jungle by a tribe of apes.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, who is the creator and author of this jungle legend, brought the story alive with his concise and yet flowing style of narrative. The unexpected violence and brutality of the book filled me with excitement and produced a multitude of raw emotional reactions to the events enfolding in the story. Furthermore, I discovered how wildly different the plot line was compared to the many subsequent renditions of this popular legend.

One difference I particularly enjoyed is how the author gave more humanity and intelligence to Tarzan than any other version I have encountered. In this book, Tarzan is not just a stupid and wild ape-man, but a human with morality and surprising cleverness.

Admittedly, in order to fully appreciate the book, you should probably suspend your ideas of reality and  simply enjoy the unrealistic and highly improbably elements of the book. Do not read this story as a work of science or reality, but as a delightful work of fantasy.

To those of you who have never previously enjoyed the story of Tarzan, I recommend you go back to his origins and give this tale a try. You might be surprised to discover you actually enjoy this version of the story as I did. And for those of you who are his greatest fans or somewhere in between, this book will further delight and develop your enjoyment of Tarzan.

Read well my friends and be well read.

“The Bride Collector” by Ted Dekker

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Dear Fellow Readers,

Excitement! Adrenaline! Terror! Come on…admit it. You know you enjoy a good thrill now and then. Perhaps you ride roller coasters, visit haunted houses, or jump out of airplanes at 14,000 feet for that adrenaline fix. Well, if you are honest enough to admit you DO enjoy a good scare, then I recommend you read “The Bride Collector” by Ted Dekker.

The_Bride_Collector 2

Out of the many books I have read by Ted Dekker, this was one of my favorites. The story involves an FBI agent, a mental institution, a demented serial killer and a schizophrenic young woman who just might be the only one who can help catch the killer. You should be warned that the book might be a bit disturbing for some readers and at times rather gruesome.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding your breath and/or jumping at small noises in the house while reading this chilling novel.

Not only will this book send chills up your spine, but it will also tug at your heartstrings as you come to care for these unique and fascinating heroes in their pursuit of the killer. Filled with plot-twists and plenty of suspense, this book artfully deals with issues of mental illness, the concept of beauty and ultimately forgiveness.

Go read it. I recommend the audio version. The narrator John Glover, who has a wonderful voice, does a fantastic job vocalizing the characters. With his stellar acting capabilities, he brings great tension and energy to the story. His performance is not to be missed. However, you might not want to listen to or read this one late at night….

Read well my friends and be well-read!

“The Firm” by John Grisham

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Dear Fellow Readers,

For many years, I fought shy of reading anything by John Grisham. I feared the rumors that his books contained an excess of legal jargon and that the plots moved along at a unfortunately slothful pace. Finally, after a bit of coaxing from a co-worker, I decided to take a chance and give Grisham a go.

The Firm (novel)

The Firm (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After some deliberation, I chose “The Firm” to be my first Grisham novel. In short, I liked it. Although, be forewarned, this book does not place lawyers in a good light at all. Filled with suspense, conspiracy, murder, treachery, and espionage, “The Firm” will keep you wanting to read more. The story revolves around a young, attractive, upstart lawyer named Mitch and his newlywed wife Abby. Mitch is recruited by an elite tax law firm based in Memphis, TN. At first it appears to be the ultimate dream job, but as time goes by Mitch becomes suspicious of his employers and enters into a world of confusion, frustration and fear.

Grisham does an excellent job at bringing his characters to life. Not only do Mitch and Abby come across as believable, but the smaller roles such as Tammy and DeVasher are equally convincing. All of the characters have unique personalities and traits that set them apart as individuals.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, and offers you glimpses into several characters and how they view the situation at hand. When reading the book, you feel as if you are watching a movie. Due to its natural screenplay-like narrative, it is no surprise that it went on to become a movie staring Tom Cruise in 1993.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book. I admit there are a few slow spots and it clearly has a 90’s feel to it. But outside of those minors setbacks, I found it intriguing and anticipate reading more novels by John Grisham.

Read well my friends and be well-read!

“Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

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Dear Fellow Readers,

Life is brief. Therefore, I encourage you to choose your books wisely and avoid wasting your time on such drivel as “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore. I concede that the cover of the book is very alluring. But as the old adage goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Graceling

Graceling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following a simple recipe, one can easily re-create this failed attempt at a fantasy novel. In preparation, set the scene with a stereotypical dirty medieval kingdom filled to brim with overtly chauvinistic and corrupt rulers. Once the setting has been established, introduce a shallow female protagonist who happens to be an assassin with a conscience. Add a moody and mysterious man who has the ability to partially read minds. This should result in a strictly hormonal relationship with absolutely no substance or commitment. Add in a few  two-dimensional and extremely obnoxious friends and top it off with a sickeningly sadistic villain. It is extremely important to remember that all characters and locations should have horrible made-up names that are so embarassing you refuse to even pronounce them in your own head. Seriously, what kind of name is Bitterblue? Upon completion of haphazardly mixing all of the necessary ingredients you will end up with a cheap fantasy knock-off novel that should never be read.

If I was too late to warn you of this terrible book and you have already read it. I am sorry. I hope in the future we can both avoid books such as “Graceling.”

Read well my friends and be well-read!

“1776” by David McCullough

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Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...

Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776, was a great success in America and in Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Do you remember the last History course you took? Many of us will reply with a resounding, “Yes, and I hated it,” while the rest of us who were unfortunate enough to have an 8 a.m. class will respond with, “No, I slept through it.” Unfortunately, the educational system of our country has left us dreading the topic of history and, in turn, whenever someone mentions the American Revolution or George Washington, our eyes begin to glaze over and memories of long boring hours sitting in uncomfortable chairs fill our minds.

Well I am here to tell you friends that there is hope for the subject of History! That hope resides in the name of David McCullough, the incredibly brilliant author of 1776. McCullough manages to bring to life the events and characters surrounding that fateful year of the birth of our Nation. Written with expert clarity and chock-full of primary sources, this book allows you to peer into the thoughts and opinions of such historical figures as George Washington, Nathaniel Greene and many more. Through the use of clever narrative and exciting story telling, McCullough manages to keep you on the edge of your seat.

1776 is one of the BEST books I have ever read. Please go pick up a copy and start reading now! If your local bookstore/library is closed, buy it online! Get an electronic copy! Do what you must! But DO NOT miss out on this book.  I can almost guarantee that when you have finished 1776, you will discover a newfound obsession with the American Revolution or, at the least, finally realize just how exciting history can be.

Read well my friends and always be well-read!

“Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters

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Cover of

Dear Fellow Readers,

If you enjoy comedy, adventure, mystery, and just a touch of romance, then you simply must read “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters. This book is the first in a series that takes place in late 19th century Egypt and exposes the hilarious adventures of Amelia Peabody.

Written in first person, the story reads as the personal diary of Amelia Peabody who is essentially a comical combination of Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones.
She is a strong-willed, intelligent, and (might I add) a very british woman. Do not be deceived! While she may be British, she is quite the character with a very unique and intriguing personality. Her descriptions of fellow characters and events will have you smiling and laughing throughout the book.

This first book of her “personal memoirs” is brimming with many outrageous characters, exciting twist and turns, and all around good British fun. I highly recommend you give it a go! You won’t regret it. As a final note, this book is best enjoyed in the audiobook format. The performance of Susan O’Malley reading as Amelia Peabody will have you rolling on the floor with her beautiful interpretation of this delightful book.

Read well my friends and always be well-read!