Thursday, August 30, 2007

#52 - Swords for Hire by Will Allen

The full title of this book is "Swords for Hire: Two of the Most Unlikely Heroes You Will Ever Meet.'' The book was written in 1978 by Will Allen who gave copies of the story to his family for Christmas that year. Early the next year, he died of cancer.

The book was published in the 80's, and the edition I read had a nice forward by Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson). Cartwright went to college with Will Allen.

The story line is simple.....King Olive has been wrongfully imprisoned by his evil brother Boonder. The two heroes, Sam Hatcher and Rigby Skeet, must come to the aid of their king in order to save the Kingdom.

The book has a lot of witty humor, great plot twists, and is just a fun romp. And the title is true.....they are two of the most unlikely heroes. :)

If you enjoyed "Princess Bride,'' then you'll love this story! :)

50 Book Challenge 2007: 32/50

#51 - Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris

I love Jane Austen's novel, and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. So, when I learned about the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series by Carrie Bebris, I had to try them!

Pride and Prescience is the first book in the series. There are two more, Suspence and Sensibility, and North by Northanger.

Pride and Prescience delves into the marriage of Caroline Bingley to a wealthy American landowner. Caroline begins to act strangely, and Jane suspects a supernatural aspect to her behavior.

While the book is enjoyable, because of the added mystery element, the characters do not necessarily behave like they did in Pride and Prejudice. I think this series would have been better if Bebris had just created her own characters and written a Victorian mystery series. The plot just doesn't seem to work as well using Austens P&P characters.

But, I do have to add that it was an enjoyable read and definitely interesting, and novel approach, to a P&P sequel. But, I think I prefer the Jane Austen Mystery series by Stephanie Barron.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 31/50

#50 - The Queens Fool by Philippa Gregory

This was not my favorite book by Philippa Gregory.

The basic story line is about Hannah Green, a young Jewish girl, who has had to flee from Spain with her father. They are hiding in England, afraid that they will be revealed as Jews and charged as heretics. Hannah has the "gift of sight'' and gets glimpses into the future, which gets her noticed by the Tudor Court.

Robert Dudley "adopts'' the girl, and brings young Hannah to the Tudor Court to be Queen Mary's "holy fool.' Hannah continues the position into the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

The storyline for me seemed contrived, and just not as good as other novels by Gregory that I have read. Hannah Green is not an actual person, but a character that Gregory made up.

For me, this book was just ok. It just didn't have the flair of "The Other Boleyn Girl'' or "The Virgin's Lover.''

50 Book Challenge 2007: 30/50

#49 - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Imagine taking a walk in the Scottish Highlands one night, and being suddenly whisked back in time to the Jacobite era. That's exactly what happens to Claire Randall in this first book of the Outlander series.

Randall, a former combat nurse in WWII, takes a trip with her husband to Scotland in 1945. The trip is supposed to be a second honeymoon, a chance to bring their marriage together now that the war is over. But Claire takes a moonlit walk among some ancient stones, and finds herself hurled back in time to 1743.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The storyline is interesting, and Gabaldon is a talented writer. The only complaint I have is that I would have preferred a bit more history, and a few less romantic scenes between the 2 main characters. The book was a bit more of a romance than I thought it was going to be. I wanted just a touch more of adventure and the history of the Jacobites, and a bit less instruction on what Scotsmen wear under their kilts. lol. :)

There are six books in this series so far. Outlander is the first book in the series. You can read more about Gabaldon's books on her website at:

50 Book Challenge 2007: 29/50

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

#48 - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Lily lives with the memory of accidentally killing her mother when she was 4. But she doesn't know the whole story. In the summer of 1964, she learns the whole truth, and as the saying goes....the truth shall set you free.
I enjoyed this book. Kidd's writing style is easy to read and her mixture of humor and serious topics keeps this book from being just another trite tome on child abuse and racism in the south.
In the beginning Lily is weak and scared of everything, but by the end of this novel she is a very strong young woman who has learned a lot about the world and her place in it.
This book doesn't leave you with a depressed feeling as some tales of 1960's southern issues leaves the reader with a sense of hope. Kidd weaves her story around facts about bees and beekeepers. Her writing style is light and airy, despite the fact that the story delves into very serious issues.
This book is a quick read, and an enjoyable story with moral and ethical meaning. It has a moral point, without dropping into preachiness or melodrama.
50 Book Challenge 2007: 28/50

#47 - Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R. Green

I'm really enjoying this fantasy series! Green's Nightside series delves into the world of the Nightside -- the horrific, supernatural and deadly dark underbelly of London. The main character, supernatural private eye John Taylor, has the power to find anything in the Nightside by using his gift of 2nd sight.

There's a little bit of everything in this book.....everything from angels and demons to gunfights and curses.

Just a great quick read, and a rollercoaster of great modern fantasy.

There are 8 books in this series. Agents of Light and Darkness is Book 2. A review of Book 1, Something From the Nightside, is the 20th review on this blog.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 27/50