Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle BooksThe Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If your only exposure to The Jungle Books is the Disney cartoon, put that story out of your head before you pick this up. Mowgli's tale here is about 90% different than Disney's portrayal.

This is actually two books- The Jungle Book and the Second Jungle Book. Each of these books, is actually a compilation of short stories. Our friend Mowgli appears in many of them. But you'll also find Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the White Seal, and many others.

I don't usually care much for short stories, especially when there are a bunch of them together. But I didn't mind it so much this time. Some of the stories were hard to keep focussed on, but most of them were engaging and vivid. Kipling gives us some powerful descriptions- though he does tend to get a little carried away at times. Mostly, his use of language has a natural flow with a hint of poetry.

If you haven't treated yourself to this classic yet, do it soon.

View all my reviews

Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris written in 2005, 301 pages

I so very much enjoy her Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series, Suspense and Sensibility it her second in the series. Just like the first, Pride and Prescience, this one dabbles in the supernatural. I have read many other reviews and many do not like it. I have read North by Northanger and The Matters at Mansfield, which are the 3rd and 4th books in the series. Neither of them have anything to do with the supernatural, they are just fun mysteries. She uses characters from the original books and a quote from Jane Austen’s books for the opening of each chapter. I do enjoy them; they combine my two favorite JA and mystery.

This one is of course about the characters from Sense and Sensibility. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy take Kitty, her sister to London for the season. There she meets Mr. Harry Dashwood, son of John and Fanny Dashwood. This is a fine love story with many twists and turns. It is nice to see what possibly happened to some of our favorite characters. This novel touches on Sir Francis Dashwood, an actual living person with a very wild and inappropriate past. I liked how she combined him into this novel.

The humor, wit and affection continue between Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and I love it. Please read this series. You don’t have to read them in order, but the changes in the Darcy’s lives do go in order with the book. I am just starting Ms Debris’ last book in the series, The Intrigue at Highbury. It will be interesting to know if she returns to the supernatural or not. It doesn’t matter to me as I like it either way. I love the Darcy’s and have been having fun searching for the many fan fiction versions of their lives.
Of course this is a 5 star book in my opinion. Enjoy

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen
Written in 1816

I didn’t realize that I had watched a few of her movies but didn’t read all 6 of her books. I finally got to Emma this week. Of course I love Jane’s writing. I love that she describes things so well that you do feel you are living in that era. I also find that my vocabulary improves while reading one of her books.

The only draw backs I did have is that I missed more dialogue. To me, it seemed that there was not as much as usual. When there was it was several paragraphs to pages on the texture of gruel. I understand giving plenty of background for the characters but it just seemed a bit off.

At the end when the gentleman declares his love for Emma, I wish we had dialogue of her response. Also the dialogue of them telling their family and friends would have been nice.

I still loved all the characters and loved to watch the personal growth in Emma as she learns from her mistakes and listens to the wise counsel of a friend. I loved how dedicated she was to her father and her governess. Good story I give it 4 ½ stars because of the lack of dialogue. And of course I would recommend it to all

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

The Last UnicornThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely a modern classic. Besides being very well written, it was just plain magical. I thought Beagle's descriptive style was kind of poetic without being overly wordy or snooty. I was hoping to love it a little more than I did. I'm not sure why it didn't quite meet my expectations, but I still really enjoyed it. I would read it over and over again and recommend it to anyone.

If you've already seen the movie, it is a fairly good representation of the book. Of course you'll find some things in the pages that didn't make it onto the screen. So pick it up. It's a nice quick read, and though it's a sad story, it isn't too sad.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 9, 2011

North by Northanger (or Shades of Pemberley) by Carrie Bebris

This is the third Mr & Mrs Darcy Mystery By Carrie Bebris Written in 2006

This is my second book by this author. She has written several that are all about the Darcy’s and a mystery that puts them in the setting and characters of one of Jane Austen’s books. I really enjoy them because it combines two of my loves JA and mystery.

I don’t want to give much away so this will be a short review. It is less than a year after Elisabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy have married. She is with child. Darcy lost his mother during childbirth so he is very overprotective and will do anything to protect Elizabeth.

They are invited to visit a friend of Darcy’s mother at Northanger Abbey, Mr Tilney. After they leave the Abbey, they find themselves in terrible legal troubles. Because of this Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine De Bough, must come to Pemberley and remain with them for many months. A mystery ensues making even more complications. Darcy is busy trying to find answers to the legal matter. Elizabeth has her hands full dealing with Lady Catherine who continues to not like her and does not accept her as the new mistress of Pemberley.

It is a wonderful story, well written in my opinion, of course that is just mine. I am not very qualified in literature. I am now reading my third book in the series and enjoying it also. I would give this one a 4 star

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

This book was written in 1912, set in 1871, on the Southern border of Utah. It is a small community of what the author calls; Mormons and Gentiles. I am LDS aka Mormon, myself and the amount of reading and research I have done on the early Saints, I would say that this is not about the Church of Latter Saints of Jesus Christ, the Mormons. This appears to be a book about one of the fundamentalists offshoots of the LDS church that grew because they did not agree with LDS teachings.

The book is about Jane Withersteen, a wealthy rancher that had inherited her father’s ranch. She loves everyone and treats all with kindness and charity. The leaders of the town and her church are upset with her for caring for Gentiles, people that are not of the town’s faith. Also one of the leaders insists she marry him, she does not want to. She meets a couple non member men that are able to help her as the church leaders make all other riders and women folk leave her.The story splits to cover the two different men and what happens to them.

There is a lot of description about the area, the sage, trees, canyons and valleys. It is so nicely written, I definitely could image it.

I really feel the point of this story is to love and care for all. That some people, no matter what religion or organization, take the power of leadership and misuse it. We all are human first, then leaders and some times you must separate the church or organiztation and the person.

I am torn about this book when it comes to rating it. I would say a 3 star. I will try another Zane Grey.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3 )The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this to my son. This is such a fun series and book #3 did not disappoint. There wasn't as much humor as in the last one, but there was a lot of action and a lot of twists to keep things interesting. It set things up really well for the next book. You don't quite get the tidy Hollywood ending, but it just makes you look forward to the next adventure. Bring it on.

View all my reviews

The Dark Griffin by K.J. Taylor

The Dark Griffin (The Fallen Moon)The Dark Griffin by K.J. Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this as a goodreads firstreads ARC. I unreservedly give this book four stars. When I signed up to win this copy, I knew it was a gamble- fantasy usually is a bit of a gamble. But books like this are the reason I sign up for firstreads books. I got to be one of the very first to read a book that I feel sure will be disappearing off the shelves very soon.

Taylor has approached her world in some very unique ways. For instance, focusing on the griffin instead of the dragon or the unicorn or some of the more prominent mythical beasts. The griffin may make an appearance in some fantasy stories, but he doesn't usually get to be the star.

For another thing, you won't find your classic good conquers evil theme here. Right and wrong, good and bad; they all get mixed up with each other. In the end, you can't help but root for someone who is far from your traditional hero.

She explores the darker side of magic. And while you could describe some aspects of the story as morbid, it didn't feel morbid to me. I read it knowing it was getting darker and darker, but I didn't feel stained by it. I liked that.

I leave this story eager for the sequel. Write, Taylor, write!

FYI- there is some moderate profanity and mild sexuality. It does get quite gory at times, so if you're sensitive to written violence, I'd steer clear.

View all my reviews

2010 Reading Report

It's time now for our annual 5-squared reading report! Our book numbers seem lower this year but I happen to know that this isn't an accurate count from how many books have been read by each of our authors plus our former authors as well. It's close to accurate for reviews that have been written here hoping I haven't missed any through my updates. What's important to me is that I have a place to write book reviews whether I read 15 or 25 so I'll do my best to keep up this blog.
This year between the 4 of us, we have reviewed 83 books collectively. I'm so appreciative for all of the book reviews written. Of course, our goal remains the same to read and review 25 books in one year. I think many of us read a few more than 25 books even if we didn't review them. All in all, I think we read.
As you've probably noticed, this blog is in a bit of transition, as we sadly lost some more of our authors this year. Please notice the sidebar to visit their blogs now. We miss them but understand the transitory dynamics of a group. Good Luck to each of you! To our former authors, come back if you'd ever like to again - we'd always love another review or guest post or two!
I hope that others will come forward wanting to give book blogging a try. If you or someone you know loves to read and would like to write book reviews, please have them contact Julie by sending an e-mail to jflamingo2[at]yahoo[dot]com for information regarding becoming an author on 5-squared. As already posted, we are a family friendly type environment.
As we look forward to 2011, we will continue to read and write reviews most definitely. Thanks for your time in reading, commenting and being here.

2010 Book Counts:

Queen 'Bina - 24

Carrie - 23

Lula O. - 8+

Julie - 15