Friday, August 26, 2011

Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach

A missing diamond, a mysterious neighbor, a link to Shakespeare-can Hero uncover the connections?

When Hero starts sixth grade at a new school, she's less concerned about the literary origins of her Shakespearean name than about the teasing she's sure to suffer because of it. So she has the same name as a girl in a book by a dusty old author. Hero is simply not interested in the connections. But that's just the thing; suddenly connections are cropping up all over, and odd characters and uncertain pasts are exactly what do fascinate Hero. There's a mysterious diamond hidden in her new house, a curious woman next door who seems to know an awful lot about it, and then, well, then there's Shakespeare. Not to mention Danny Cordova, only the most popular boy in school. Is it all in keeping with her namesake's origin-just much ado about nothing? Hero, being Hero, is determined to figure it out.

My Thoughts:

I thought this book was entertaining but not the best young adult book I have read. It was an interesting look at a 12 year old girl's life who's father is a professor of Shakespeare. Her parents gifted her with Hero as a name which although popular amongst Shakespeare fans not so popular in school. The family recently moved to a new city and Hero finds herself friendly with an elderly woman next door who tells her a story about a missing diamond (rumored to be in the house Hero and her family now occupy) and a connection to Anne Boleyn.

I thought the history was interesting. Supposedly the necklace that the diamond was originally set into most likely belonged to Anne Boleyn at one time and was handed down through the generations to the woman who used to live in the house Hero's family bought. What I thought was even more interesting was that I never heard the rumors that perhaps William Shakespeare didn't write his works at all. In this book Edward de Vere was discussed a lot and the rumors that he may have been Elizabeth I's illegitimate son and he may have been the writer behind all of Shakespeare's work. Like I said it was very interesting and I enjoyed that part of the book completely. The necklace part of the story was completely invented by Broach according to her notes found in the book but the other information on the speculation of Shakespeare identity is quite true.

I didn't like that the mystery of the million dollar diamond was solved by 2 children age 12 and 14. What kind of inept police department does that city have that after scouring the house looking for the diamond the police give up but 2 children find it in about an a couple of hours. Granted the children had a clue that the police didn't have but still.
If it weren't for that unfortunate issue this book would actually be very good. This book is a young adult novel but is very good for children younger. Anywhere from 10+ I would say. There are no adult themes whatsoever but does have some bullying name calling (no physical bullying) from Hero's classmates.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Elixir by Hilary Duff

Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea's father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea's photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man - a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father's disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives - and their futures.

My thoughts:
I think the idea had good potential I just couldn't connect with a jet setting teenager who's mom allows her to head off to Rio, Paris and Tokyo without parental influence. It was written in the first person making it feel almost like a YA UF and the book does set up to have a continuing storyline with the same characters which also made me think UF. The main character is written in a way that we are to believe she deeper than she really is but I wasn't fooled. The addition of a weird love triangle proved that she is really nothing more than a silly girl. Haven't been a teenage girl in sometime but is it common for a teenage girl to think how much she loves a guy but then mentally takes it back so as to not ruin her chances with a second guy? I honestly don't know. Also the addition of a sexual encounter (a fade to black type...not graphic) made the book feel more 20-something rather than high school.

The non verbal communications between Clea and her best friend Reyna were almost ridiculous. Reyna would look at Clea and next thing the reader knew Clea would interpret the look as a full on conversation between the two of them which was spelled out for the reader's benefit.

I think what prevented me from giving this book less than 2 stars is because the idea was actually pretty good. I don't think the follow through did it justice. I'm also curious as to why the author "helper" of Hilary Duff, Elise Allen, merited a mention on the title page (it's listed as Elixir by Hilary Duff with Elise Allen) but doesn't get her name on the cover. With all the collaborations happening now it makes me wonder if someone was cashing in on a star's name or the star herself refused to share top billing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

ok not my typical book selection but since I've never read it and it fit in with a challenge I am currently doing I thought "Why Not?" So, there you go.

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires...

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning ... along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

My Thoughts:

Even though this book was written 60 years ago it's amazing how much it still applies to today. In Montag's world books were not only banned but destroyed, burned to ashes along with the house they were held in and in many cases the people who hid them. The government says that books are silly and the words meaningless yet destroys them all proving that someone in authority firmly believes that a book is a dangerous thing. Which is actually what happens. Montag meets a girl who society deems 'crazy' and she puts a little thought in his head. Next thing he knows he is questioning why. Why he is a fireman. Why the books are so dangerous. Why Why Why. Questions that to maintain peace and balance should not be asked.

Overall I found that I enjoyed this book despite it being totally different from what I am used to reading even though many times I had to read a paragraph over again because I missed some thing that ended up being important. I found Montag's discovery of himself and nature a bit hard to follow. His journey to discovery read a lot like descent into madness which I thought was hard at times to follow. I did like that this book was thought provoking and I plan to follow up with searching for some discussion web pages to see other people's interpretations.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

After Life: Answers From The Other Side by John Edward

In John Edward's fourth book he answers some of the most asked questions about how the psychic mediumship process works. In addition he shares his experiences while doing readings in Australia and his life as the son of an Irish father and an Italian mother. He also touches on his life as a husband and being a first time father. He shares his journey learning how to be a medium and lessons he learned from his friends and teachers here and from people who have passed on.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed learning about John and his family background. From problems he had connecting with his father (while his father was still alive) to becoming a first time father. He had some really great advice for those who experience grief from the loss of a loved one, mainly to not seek out a psychic to connect until you have accepted and embraced the grief process. It's something you just can't skip or ignore. Moving right to seeking out a medium soon after the death of a loved one usually brings heartache because they either find a crook instead of someone with an actual psychic gift of their loved ones don't come through as the expect. I don't think I expected him to encourage someone to not go to a psychic.

John included many transcripts of his readings throughout the book. I've watched his Crossing Over show on many occasions and enjoyed his readings. I don't know if I fully believe it but the readings that are included are pretty amazing.

What I didn't like is that the book felt almost as if I were reading a text book. I grew bored after reading only a few pages so it took me forever to read it. I also didn't like his explanation on how he does what he does. It was something along the lines of he raises his psychic vibrations higher and the people who cross over lower theirs so they can communicate on the same level. I just didn't follow it. Maybe you have to be a psychic to really get it.

Overall an average book with some good stuff and some stuff I just didn't care for. I am not sure if I will go out of my way to read another book by him unless it if filled with his transcripts of his readings because that is that part I enjoyed the most.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

**SPOTLIGHT**The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman. Review is forthcoming but I wanted to give you all a little sneak peek into it. Release date is Tomorrow! August 4th.

Synopsis: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. These are the Last Four Things. Now there are Five. Meet Thomas Cale. Returning to the Sanctuary of the Redeemers, Thomas Cale is told by the Lord Militant that the destruction of mankind is necessary; the only way to undo God's greatest mistake. Cale seemingly accepts his role in the ending of the world: fate has painted him as the Left Hand of God, the Angel of Death. Absolute power is within his grasp, the terrifying zeal and military might of the Redeemers a weapon for him to handle as simply as he once used a knife. But perhaps not even the grim power that the Redeemers hold over Cale is enough - the boy who turns from love to poisonous hatred in a heartbeat, the boy who switches between kindness and sheer violence in the blink of an eye. The annihilation that the Redeemers seek may well be in Cale's hands - but his soul is far stranger than they could ever know.

Click the picture and you can preorder!