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Inkdeath  - Anthea Bell, Cornelia Funke

This series always makes me want to read. Which is convenient since I'm already reading... But it makes me want to keep reading forever. If you're having a reading slump, these books will probably help you out.

I also love the variety of well-rounded characters. Violante might actually be my favorite character, though she's not the conventional "good guy".

I did think it was tiring that Dustfinger died and was revived for the second time in this trilogy. That's a bit much.

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I don't know. I waited too long to write this review. But I really enjoy this series and I definitely recommend them to fantasy fans and book fans in general.

The Heir - Kiera Cass

First of all, this is my favorite of all the Selection covers. IT'S SO PRETTY.

So, just like with the first three books, I had heard that the protagonist was annoying, but I didn't think she was.

I did think it was weird that she kept saying "I am the most powerful person in the world." Like, what about your dad? The king? Remember him? Idk.

I can see how some readers might think her mistakes are annoying, but I kind of liked them. Like, she thinks she's following in her father's footsteps, but she doesn't realize how her people are going to interpret her actions. She's lacking an ability to empathize with others and she doesn't know it. That's a realistic flaw and one that I would enjoy seeing her overcome.

It was interesting to see where some of the characters from the original trilogy ended up. Although, I hated that America's sister died.

This selection seems much more like a game show to me than the first one did. Maybe that's because we're in the mind of the star of the show, where there's more acting going on, versus the minds of the competitors, who aren't used to being on camera.

As for whom she's going to end up with (because, come on, of course she's not going to follow through on her plan to remain single), I would bet it's either going to be Kile or Erik because Kile is one she's against from the start and Erik isn't supposed to be a contender (but he totally is). Granted, I'm writing this review after reading the fifth book. It's possible I wasn't quite so confident when I read this book.

The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well-written and engaging.


At times, I was anxious to get through Isaac's chapters because I was less interested in his story than his wife's. But it wasn't too bad.


The idea of "birthing spoons" did seem a little far-fetched to me. I would think it would do damage to the babies. Then again, I'm no midwife. What do I know?

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

I wasn't a fan of this one. I was bored most of the time. It isn't really my thing.

And I definitely didn't like being told that Clary and Jace were siblings after they had made out. And apparently (SERIES SPOILERS) they decide that they're okay with that in the next book?? Ew. Ew ew ew. But then it's all "okay" because in the third book they find out they aren't siblings after all. It's too late at that point; you've ruined that relationship for me. (END SERIES SPOILERS)

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Not that it matters anyway because I won't be continuing with this series. Moving on!

The Smile - Donna Jo Napoli

Donna Jo Napoli is the author of one of my favorite books (Zel), but generally, I think her books are just "okay". I did, however, enjoy The Smile. Unfortunately, I don't have that much to say about it because it's been a while since I read it... But here's what I do have:

There are a couple of deaths of Elisabetta's loved ones and they are quite abrupt and jarring. That seems appropriate, though, given the nature of those deaths. It's realistic. You can't always see death coming.

I will also say that I totally called her marriage to her brother-in-law. I'm glad that she was able to be content despite not being able to marry Giuliano.

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Overall, I enjoyed reading about the life that Napoli gave this unknown woman. It was engaging and interesting.


Matilda - Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl

In some ways, this is a tough book to read as an adult. Matilda herself is so sweet and smart and lovable. It's so frustrating that her family is horrible and her principal is cruel. Then you're so relieved that she finds someone to appreciate her in her teacher, Miss Honey. But it definitely makes you think about the ways a child's home life affects her education. Matilda is able to overcome it, but how many children never get that opportunity?


At first glance, it's a heartwarming and magical book and after some thought, it makes you want to do something to help kids in this situation.

Among Schoolchildren - Tracy Kidder

Another good teaching book. I like that it shows that even a great teacher can't reach every student.


It's been a while since I read it, so I don't have anything else to say. I did enjoy it, though; I can tell you that.

The One  - Kiera Cass

It's been so long since I've read this, that I don't have a lot to say about it (sorry).


I can say that a heck of a lot of people died while I was waiting for my mom at the chiropractor. And it was my birthday. I mean, geez. Right when I started reading, they started dropping like flies. It was ridiculous.


And it kind of annoyed me that Cass didn't tell us whether Kriss survived or not until she appeared at the wedding.


Also, I just wanna say that I called the deaths of both America and Maxon's fathers. I'm really sad that Amberly died and that she'll never get to embrace America as a daughter. </3


This is kind of random, but there were a couple of times when Cass said something like "She held her back", which I read as physically restraining someone, but was meant to mean returning a hug. I don't know if that misunderstanding was my fault or hers...


Anyway, I'm super happy that America and Maxon ended up together and I am (was) excited to continue the series!

Prospero's Children  - Jan Siegel

It wasn't bad, just not really my thing, I guess. I was bored most of the time.

Sarny - Gary Paulsen, Jerry Pinkney

I enjoyed this continuation of Sarny's life even more than the first book. I felt for her in her hardships, cheered for her in her persistence and was glad she found happiness in the end. It was definitely a satisfying conclusion to Nightjohn.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, #1) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes

This is one of my seven favorite books. I can't pick just one of The Chronicles of Narnia.

I love the world of Narnia and its magical characters, and experiencing that land through the eyes of the Pevensie children, arriving from a war-torn home.

I love that one can read this book for an enjoyable story or one can choose to look deeper into it to do some thinking and soul-searching. Even though I've read this book 9 times (and listened to it once), I can still learn new things about it.

I love the retelling of the Biblical crucifixion story (or the "supposal", as Lewis called it). It's a way that children can be introduced to Jesus' sacrifice and a way that it can be made personal for them, as Aslan only dies directly for Edmund. It's also a way that adults can look at His sacrifice from a different angle and maybe notice some things they've never noticed before (helpful if you grew up in church and have heard the story a million times).

Someday, I'll write a review that comes closer to doing my favorite book series justice. But this is it for today. ;)

The Elite - Kiera Cass

So, in this book, I have decided I prefer Maxon to Aspen. Aspen has begun to remind me of Gale from The Hunger Games . Not that I totally dislike Gale or Aspen... But they share negative qualities that make me root for their rivals. And the fact that Aspen didn't believe America could be a princess turns me against him. It also makes it clear to me that he's not going to end up with America whether I prefer him or not. But also just the fact that America told him she would marry him pretty early on in the book. I didn't want her to break his heart by going back on her word. As much as America goes back and forth between the two guys, I really can't blame her. It's a tough call.

I still don't find America annoying, although I admit that her decision to reveal the secret diary on live TV was incredibly stupid. She also is the queen of leaping to conclusions, which can be frustrating, but it still doesn't bother me that much.

It's taken me so long to get around to writing this review that I can't think of anything else to say about it. Have I mentioned that I love the name of Illéa?

That's it. That's the end.

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Dugard

I'm finding it hard to express my opinion of this book. Jaycee's story is just so terrifying and fascinating and depressing and inspiring...

I love the authenticity of the book, but at the same time, I really wish an editor had gone through and ironed some things out. Jaycee's education only went up to fifth grade, and her story would have been less disjointed and confusing if a professional had helped out a bit. Then again, I can see how it was kind of a cathartic experience for her, as if she were going back to her 11-year-old mindset and journalling her experiences... I'm conflicted.

One specific thing that confused me is that I've read online that Jaycee made contact with a neighbor while she was in captivity, but she didn't mention that in her book. It seemed odd to me. I would think that would be something worth mentioning in her memoir.

Regardless, it's definitely a difficult, but worthwhile read.

2011 Review (four stars):
i really enjoyed reading this book. it is definitely both disturbing and fascinating. jaycee is not the best writer, but that made it feel more real. reading it felt like she sat down, mentally took herself back 18+ years, and wrote what she was experiencing/thinking/feeling at the time.

i can't imagine going through what she went through. i'm so glad she seems to be adapting to the "real world" well. i'll definitely be praying for her and her girls. and i highly recommend this book.

The Selection  - Kiera Cass

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I had heard that America is annoying, but I didn't find her so.

I wouldn't exactly call The Selection dystopian, as it doesn't really seem any worse than reality. This story is a beautiful conglomeration of elements from The Hunger Games, Matched, Princess Academy,Cinderella, The Bachelor and the biblical story of Esther. I'm sure there are more, but these are the stories I was reminded of as I read The Selection.

The love triangle, in particular, reminded me of those in The Hunger Games and Matched. I love both Aspen and Maxon and have had a hard time deciding which one I want to be with America, just as she struggles to decide. I love the friendship between America and Maxon and at this point in the series, I want America to choose Aspen (despite his hissy fit) and remain a good friend to Maxon.

There were other things that reminded me of The Hunger Games as well, such as the lottery, the payments to the families of the Selected,The Report along with its host Gavril, etc.

The training to be a princess is what reminds me of Princess Academy and I really enjoyed that aspect of it as well.

The gathering of women, some from less fortunate backgrounds, wearing dresses and competing for one man's heart was reminiscent of Cinderella and Esther as well as The Bachelor.

It does contain the common mistake of using "Your Majesty" and "Your Highness" interchangeably, and the also common insistence that "even though EVERYONE says that I'm beautiful, I promise you, reader, I'm not even pretty." So, that was kind of annoying.

I won't pretend this book is excellent quality, but it did its job as entertainment and I really enjoyed it. On to The Elite!

The Story of Your Life: Inspiring Stories of God at Work in People Just like You - Matthew West, Angela Thomas

I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. I love this CD and the idea behind it, and I love reading the stories in the CD booklet. I guess I just don't care so much about what Matthew West and Angela Thomas have to say about them (no offence...). The stories themselves are beautiful and I enjoyed those, as expected. The responses are sweet... just not what I'm interested in.

On a positive note, West quoted C.S. Lewis two or three times, if I recall correctly, so he gets points for that. :)

But I do want to talk about the chapter on homosexuality. My heart aches for the anonymous author of the letter who is trying so hard to honor God with his/her life despite the temptations s/he faces every day. For the most part, I thought Thomas' response was appropriate and kind-hearted, but there was one comment she made that seemed insensitive and condescending to me. She reminds this person that everyone is struggling along with him/her with their own personal temptations. A good thing to remember, of course. But in comparing them she says "Yours is homosexuality, mine might be insecurity, and the person in the pew next to me at church may struggle with temptations of pornography or drug addiction or rage."

Okay, insecurity can absolutely be a day-to-day struggle, but it is just not on the same level as homosexuality or the other examples. Anonymous has to daily ignore the overwhelming voices insisting that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. In addition to resisting the temptation to act on his/her urges, s/he has to constantly remind him/herself that those voices are wrong, when it would be so much easier to allow him/herself to be accepted into that community (that includes Christians) and live an openly gay lifestyle. On the other hand, I don't think insecurity is even a sin. And there are so many voices speaking out about self-love these days, a person struggling with insecurity doesn't even really have to look for encouraging messages to find them.

Heck, Thomas isn't actually admitting that she struggles with insecurity. She says her temptation might be insecurity, which makes it sound like either she doesn't want to admit her actual struggle or she can't think of one. Basically, I think that Thomas should either have elaborated on that to make comparisons more apparent, or she should have left herself out of that completely. I don't mean to sound overly harsh. The rest of Thomas' response was nice. That one phrase just really stuck out to me and this is such a sensitive topic that I think that really should have been edited. Though, as much as I've just written about it, this phrase didn't affect my rating at all.

(Side note: I was also just confused when she referred to Anonymous as a man, when the letter didn't clarify. Maybe she made a guess based on handwriting?)

Stormbreaker  - Anthony Horowitz

Meh. It was alright, but I have no desire to continue the series.


It contains one of my YA pet peeves, which is when a character risks dire consequences (e.g. death or dismemberment) merely for the sake of mild curiosity or an unfounded hunch.


Maybe Alex just doesn't really care about death at all, considering he was pretty emotionless when told his uncle/father-figure had died.


I also think it was unrealistic that Alex was able to point a gun in the direction of the prime minister and not get shot by a guard. I don't believe Mrs. Jones' command would have been quick enough. That critique might be a bit nitpicky, though.