The Restorer

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Amelia Gray has an unusual job as a cemetery restorer, and can see ghosts, an ability her father also has.  While restoring a graveyard in Charleston, a body that doesn’t belong there is found, and Amelia assists Detective John Devlin (who has his own secrets and abilities) in the investigation.

I like Amelia’s unique job, and the setting in Charleston.  There is so much history in the South; the grave restoration profession is intriguing.  The background information about Amelia’s childhood and how her father gives her rules to follow is interesting.  Devlin is a mysterious character, and the interaction between Devlin and Amelia is well-done.  I would recommend this book (the first in the Graveyard Series by Amanda Stevens).

Fairy Keeper (World of Aluvia Book 1)

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Fourteen-year-old Sierra Quinn is a fairy keeper in the world of Aluvia, and she hates this, primarily because she feels trapped in a life she didn’t choose.  This is compounded by her abusive father, Jack, who uses the fairy nectar Sierra collects to make illegal elixir rather than for healing.  It doesn’t help that these fairies are more like bees and can be very annoying and irritable.

Sierra discovers the young fairies she takes care of are dead and the queen is missing. When Jack trades her sister Phoebe to be an elixir runner to make up for lost income, Sierra goes on a journey with her best friend, Corbin, worst enemy, Nell, and Micah, a faun they meet along the way.  Together, they work to make things right and rescue Phoebe.

Fairy Keeper is imaginative and well-written.  It’s interesting that the fairies aren’t the cute little creatures in most stories.  I like the interaction between the characters and the descriptions of the forest and mountains.  I especially like the way Sierra comes to terms with her calling and how she begins to try to understand why people (specifically Nell) behave the way they do.  I would recommend Fairy Keeper, and I want to read the next book in the series, Mer-Charmer.

Spindrift and The Murder of Tutankhamen

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In Spindrift, Christy Moreland deals with the challenges of her father dying, a conniving mother-in-law, and a troubled marriage.

I liked this book; I have blogged about Phyllis Whitney’s books before.  The plot is similar to most of her books in that it is about a young woman who has challenges to overcome, but I enjoy those types of stories.  The setting, a mysterious old house by the beach in Rhode Island, is good.  I like that Christy stands up to her mother-in-law and how she and her husband decide to work things out in the end.

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In his book The Murder of Tutankhamen, Egyptologist Bob Brier explores the theory that King Tutankhamen was murdered.  His reasoning is that there was a lot of religious and political conflict during Tutankhamen’s reign, and there were individuals who associated with the young pharaoh who had motive to kill him.  The most likely suspects, according to Brier, are Aye, the vizier of Egypt, and Horemheb, commander in chief of the armed forces.  Both these men had a lot to gain as far as power if the pharaoh died.

Some of the evidence that Brier presents are x-rays of Tutankhamen’s skull suggesting a violent death, and the death of several of Tutankhamen’s relatives at around the same time.  The author makes some interesting points and asks some good questions.

I enjoyed The Murder of Tutankhamen; I like ancient history. The writing style is more biographical than scholarly, so it’s easy to follow.  It is important to keep in mind that although politically motivated murders aren’t uncommon, this is just theory.  Also, the particular version of the book I read is from 1998.  I haven’t checked to see if there is an updated revised version that may have more information.  Whatever the case, the ideas in this book are worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

The Lightning Thief

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In The Lightning Thief, troubled 12-year-old Percy Jackson discovers he is the son of Poseidon and that Zeus and Hades are his uncles.  He goes on a quest with his friends Annabeth and Grover to recover the master bolt (stolen from Zeus) and helm of darkness (stolen from Hades).  The friends’ adventures include dealing with gods, monsters, the Harpies, and someone they think is a friend who turns out to be otherwise.

For the most part, I enjoyed The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  Riordan is a good writer and I like Greek mythology-themed stories.  Friends working together to accomplish something and how they overcome challenges along the way makes for good material.  However, the similarity to the books about a certain young wizard who attends Hogwarts is a bit obvious.  While it is not unheard of for books to have similar plots with different settings and characters, it can be a challenge for an author to make the story their own.  The setting is what interests me most.  I will read the other books in the series when I get a chance.

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman

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I love fairy tales, and I love Neil Gaiman’s stories, so reading Gaiman’s retelling of the classic Hansel & Gretel is a treat.  The familiar elements of the story are there, but it is interesting to have Gaiman’s perspective.

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The drawings by Lorenzo Mattotti are gorgeous; his artwork adds much to the book. This version of Hansel & Gretel is enjoyable and worth reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shack

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In The Shack, Mack Phillips and his family suffer a devastating loss.  Mack finds himself in a very dark place, but he comes to understand that the existence of pain and loss doesn’t mean God doesn’t care.

This is a thought provoking book.   The main theme is God’s love for humans and His desire to have relationship with them.  Some other ideas the author brings up are:  God gives people the choice to trust and depend on Him or not, and evil results when people choose to be independent of God.  The author also points out that God doesn’t cause bad things, or stop bad things from happening.  However, He can and does use bad circumstances for His purpose.

Other issues addressed are how people tend to have preconceived and narrow concepts of God, how relationship with God isn’t dependent on our performance, and that forgiveness doesn’t make someone’s actions okay or mean you have to have a relationship with them.

I highly recommend reading about Mack’s journey of faith.

 

What I’m Reading

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I like Phyllis Whitney’s books.  I had read Silversword before but thought a revisit was worthwhile.  The setting is wonderful.  I have been to Hawaii and it’s beautiful.  The history included in the story is interesting, and the plot concerning the young woman, Caroline Kirby, going back to her childhood home to get some answers is engaging.

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I love Amanda Stevens’ books; her romance/mysteries are well-written.  I had read Nighttime Guardian before too, but decided to read it again.  The setting, near a river in Arkansas, is intriguing, and the storyline involving Shelby Westmoreland, who is dealing with past trauma, an ailing grandmother and the death of a loved one is good reading.  I went through Arkansas on a family trip a number of years ago, and I don’t remember exactly what part, but I do think it wasn’t very far from the Tennessee border, so it may have been the same general area as the book setting.  I do love this part of the country and would like to visit it again one day.

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This is an excellent book.  It concerns the life of a family in the Eastern U.S. during the 50s and 60s, and what life was like for poor families in the suburbs.  The main character, Shawn Daniels, deals with challenges because of a dysfunctional family (largely because of the father, Eddy’s, alcoholism, but there are other issues too, including their poverty).  The theme is rather grim, but the story does have underlying hope as Shawn strives to better his circumstances.

King Arthur Stories

An update on my re-read challenge which I last blogged about here Re-Read Challenge

I’m reading Le Morte d’ Arthur by Thomas Malory now.  It is long, so I’ll do my best to finish it and the other two stories in this book by the end of the year.  That’s part of the fun, I can go at my own pace and modify as I want to.

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I thought it would be fun to re-read some holiday classics since it is holiday time.  I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle; both are good for Halloween.  The stories aren’t very long, so it didn’t take me that long to read them.

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I’m going to re-read A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth for the Christmas season.  These stories aren’t very long either, so I should be able to finish them before the end of the year.

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I am going to do my best to re-read The Nutcracker by the end of the year also.  This is one of my favorite stories, and I try to either go to a local play or at least watch it on DVD every year.