Book Reviews by Title - E, F

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Book Reviews by Title - E, F

Post by LadyKestrel » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:06 pm


Earth’s Voyage Through Time by David Dineley
I've been rereading one of my all-time favorites: Earth's Voyage Through Time by David Dineley. It's an indepth science book about planetary formation, continental drift, geology, etc.
~Reviewed by Jude

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book is the story of Elizabeth Gilbert's personal journey to happiness at the age of thirty-something. After going through a lousy divorce, trying to keep an unsustainable love affair affloat, and fighting a clinical depression that nearly beat her, Liz decides to take a year-long journey that she hopes will help her heal and become a functioning person again. She goes to Italy for two pleasures, to learn Italian and to eat great food, then to an ashram in India to discover the divine, and finally to Bali to find balance between worldly pleasures and the spiritual.

What makes this journey so special and a delight to read is Liz herself. Her honesty and her sense of humor about herself and all the people she meets on this crazy journey pull the reader in. Although her solutions would not have been mine, I couldn't help but admire her pluckiness and persistence in this quest of self-renewal. One of her strengths is that she always makes friends easily, and by the time I finished this book, I felt that she had included me in her circle of friendship. She made me laugh, and she made me care, perhaps because she held up a mirror to parts of my own life that I hadn't examined in a long time. Whatever the reason, I recommend Liz's journey to the yearner and quester in all of us.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Eliminate Chaos by Laura Leist
This is a practical book for getting rid of the clutter of our lives. It has one or two new ideas, but I think Julie Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out is still the best of this type I've read.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
The first book by Salman Rushdie that I ever read was his recent The Enchantress of Florence, which is kind of a fantasy about some real-life historical characters. It is now among my favorite books ever, which surprised me, because I had been under the impression that his books would be along the lines of "women's issues in totalitarian Muslim society" or some such. So I went out and got another by him, his early-career Midnight's Children. I like it pretty well, but it assumes a lot more knowledge than I have about Indian/Pakistani history, so I feel lost from time to time. I am almost done, and even though it's pretty good, it will be kind of a relief to finish. Does anybody else here read him? And what do you think? I bought another book by him this weekend, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but probably won't start it until I read some other authors first.
~Reviewed by Jen

Every Eye by Isobel English
This small novel is an interior view of the narrator's world, but one that I found difficult to follow at times because the author often alternated between the past and present with hardly a transition. Several times I found myself well into a paragraph before I realized which time period she was discussing. I also didn't like the passivity of the main character, and many of her reactions to situations felt contrived. Some of it was perhaps the expectations of a woman's behavior in the time period, but I also found her inner dialogue to be lacking in clarity. Despite that, I did like the ending, which cleared up a mystery but also left many questions. I think it might bear rereading in light of what the ending revealed.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
My favorite 12-year-old reader lent this book to me, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. It's written for pre- and young teens, but the story is well told with warmth and humor. It centers around three very different teenagers who meet at a campground where a solar eclipse is going to take place. Each teen has to face problems with his/her social situation and within themselves. The friendships they develop and the wonder of the eclipse itself help them put things in perspective and accept the inevitable life changes that often seem unsurmountable at age 13. The author is really in tune with the growing pains of that age group, and deals with problem solving in a very positive way. I wish I had books like this to read when I was growing up.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Ex Machina (Issues 1-40) by Brian K. Vaughan
This comic details the life of Engineer Mitchell Hundred who after being caught in a weird explosion finds he can talk to and control any machine. He becomes the worlds only superhero "The Great Machine". Mostly pretty pathetic as a hero, he decides to hang up his costume and run for mayor of New York, which he wins after saving one of the Twin Towers in 9/11.

Part "West Wing" and part superhero comic. Most of the book is told in the present where he is Mayor, intersperced with flashbacks to his Hero days.

I really like the interplay between the politics of being Mayor and the flashbacks of his Hero days as we find out more about why he has the powers and what will happen in the future.

You can try Issue one free Here :" onclick=";return false;
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Exile (Star Wars Legacy of the Force 4) by Aaron Allston
In the Stars Wars galaxy, evil is on the move as the Galactic Alliance and Jedi order battle forces seen and unseen, from rampant internal treachery to the nightmare of all-out war.

With each victory against the Corellian rebels, Jacen Solo becomes more admired, more powerful, and more certain of achieving galactic peace. But that peace may come with a price. Despite strained relationships caused by opposing sympathies in the war, Han and Leia Solo and Luke and Mara Skywalker remain united by one frightening suspicion: Someone insidious is manipulating this war, and if he or she isn’t stopped, all efforts at reconciliation may be for naught. And as sinister visions lead Luke to believe that the source of the evil is none other than Lumiya, Dark Lady of the Sith, the greatest peril revolves around Jacen himself. . . .
Ok the 4th book in the Legacy series sees more of the same.

Jacen Solo is rapidly falling to the Dark Side, he's testing his apprentice for Sith-ness by sending him to the Sith homeworld. Meanwhile the rest of the Skywalker and Solo clans are hunting for the people behind the upcoming civil war.

Lots of lightsabre action and a few smal space battles it feels like this book was a filler being used to set up future plots rather than have any new starlying information.

However it was a solid enough read to keep me going.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
This is the first book of the delightful and wonderfully absurd Thursday Next series. In an alternate history of Great Britain where time travel and cloning are common, this is a fine romp through literature, and not just in the figurative sense. High praise for this one and all the rest in the series.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend.

There is another 1985, where London's criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave's Mr Big.

Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.

Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crime against literature isn't easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and find out who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Perhaps today just isn't going to be Thursday's day...

What a wonderful and fun adventure! Jasper Fforde has created a fantastic main character, a highly original story and world, has a fun filled witty style, keeps the action high paced and delivers an inventive mix of science fiction, detective novels and intertextuality. I'll definitely be back for more Thursday Next adventures!
~Reviewed by Wimli


Fables by Bill Willingham
Recently I got a comic reader app for my ipod touch and found out that the Ipod touch it is superbly handy for reading comics on the move. So I've been catching up on my comic reading. Starting with the many volumes in the delightful Fables series. (Basically a modern day story starring characters out of the old stories living in New York in exile from a great war)

Book 1 - Legends in Exile
When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown.

But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.
Excellent intro to the characters and the weird slant they now have. (Prince Charming has 3 ex wives - Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty King Cole is the Mayor of Fable Town, The Big Bad wolf is the local sheriff etc etc.)

Book 2 - Animal Farm
Travel to upstate New York, where the non-human Fable characters have found refuge on a farm, miles from mankind. But all is not well on the farm - and a conspiracy to free them from the shackles of their perceived imprisonment may lead to a war that could wrest control of the Fables community away from Snow White. Starring Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
The Fable animals stage a revolution to escape the confines of the farm.

Book 3 - Storybook Love
One of the stories in this new collection is appropriately titled "Into the Woods." Like Stephen Sondheim's musical, Willingham's series presents figures from childhood fairytales contending with the problems of adult life. Snow White, Briar Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty), Prince Charming, Little Boy Blue and Goldilocks all appear, as does a trickster named Jack. So does the Big Bad Wolf, who is inescapably reminiscent of Marvel's Wolverine. Even Gulliver's Lilliputians turn up, as do talking animals. This volume collects issues 11 through 18, and, as with many contemporary comics, it will be difficult for readers who haven't started with the first issue to get their bearings. The fairytale characters comprise a community of immortals known as "Fables," who now hide in plain sight from the mundane normal people (known as "mundys," they're much like J.K. Rowling's muggles) in a section of New York City called Fabletown. The stories are of two sorts. Two stand-alone tales take place in past centuries and have a genuine fairytale feel and period charm. The others, set in the present, are gritty, with dysfunctional relationships, blackmail and murder attempts. Take the "mature audiences" advisory seriously: this is a book in which an adult Goldilocks can be seen naked or covered with blood. Despite its darker elements, Fables features wit and comedy; Willingham can even make scenes simultaneously farcical and horrific. The art ranges from the illustrative to cartoony, and its variety mirrors the stories' many moods.
Some cool stand alone stories - Jack Captures Death during the American Civil War, A mundane journo threatens to reveal their secret and Bluebeard plots something sinister with Goldilocks.

Book 4 - March of the Wooden Soldiers
Prince Charming runs for Mayor of Fabletown while the community deals with the apparent escape from the Homelands of Red Riding Hood. The Adversary sends his first troops into Fabletown to begin an assault.
Things start to hot up now as we learn more about the adversary and the war back home.

Book 5 - The Mean Seasons
A series of smaller story set a year after the attack. Stories include Cinderella Super spy, Bigby's adventures in WW2, Snow White gives Birth and moves to the farm with her kids, meanwhile Jack moves to Holywood and sets up shop.
Some fun stories as well as some that point to darker days coming.

Book 6 - Homelands
Boy Blue goes on a mission to the Homelands with the aim of assassinating the Adversary and learns the Adversary's identity.
Action packed as Boy Blue ditches his trumpet for a sword and sets out on a mission to assassinate the adversary. Learns a few secrets along the way

Book 7 - Arabian Nights (and Days)
Meanwhile back in Fabletown while Blue is on his mission, a delegation from the Arabian Fables comes into town with Sinbad to discuss and alliance
Most of this book is taken up with the Sinbad story, but it still manages to squeeze in a weird but excellent story about an unusual love between 2 wooden characters and other small things.

Book 8 - Wolves
Mowgli searches for the Big Bad wolf (Bigby), brings him back to Fabletown. Bigby goes on a mission to the homelands then settles down with his wife and cubs.[size]
Book 9 - Sons of Empire
Faced with the ever encroaching war the Adversary meets with his top advisors (The snow Queen etc) to strategise how to defeat the Mundanes and Fabletown
Also includes a Santa Claus Story, Bigby reunited with his Father and a funny issue where the creator answered fan questions in comic form. Lol.

Book 10 - The Good Prince
Flycatcher (the Frog Prince), who has never fully accepted the death of his wife, must face up to his past.
Probably one of my favourite stories as one of the minor characters suddently takes on a major role in the war and strikes at the heart of the Empire in an heartwarming and unusual fashion.

Book 11 - War and Pieces
It's now war as Fabletown learns of the coming attack it decides to strike first using mundane technology and some good old fashioned magic
So 11 trade paperbacks or 75 comic issues in I must admit that this has quickly become one of my favourite comic series (behind Sandman). The mixture of old worldlyness and modern day is fun and the twist on some of your favourite characters is excellent. Who would have thought that Cinderella was a super spy who owns a shoe shop, Little boy blue is a reluctant war hero, Snow White is a bitter woman after finding her sister in bed with her husband, Pinnochio want to kill the blue fairy for permenantly leaving him as a boy who never goes through puberty etc etc. There is so much to like about these characters and the funny, tragic and uplifting adventures that they go through.

Sure like any long running series there are some bad issues and the art gets too cartoony in a couple of issues, but overall it is a superb comic.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
Screw the neverending, overly-padded, insanely verbose "Song of Ice and Fire" series. (Yeah, I've read them all so far, and kept kicking myself for doing so.) here's the George R.R. Martin book for you:
This is my second favorite vampire novel--after 'Salem's Lot. Martin takes the now-almost-trite vampire novel and injects with a healthy dose of originality and action. The melding of vampires and late-1800's riverboats is fresh, ingenious and inventive, and Abner Marsh is about as different from Ann Rice's genteel androgynous protagonists as is possible. Marsh is a man's man--a riverboat man, dammit, which is exactly what is needed when the story careens to its thrilling, action-packed climax. Don't go looking for deep literary themes or dark psychosexual metaphors here. This is a gripping page-turner of a yarn, blending horror fiction and fast-paced adventure in the tradition of the genre's grand old masters: Shelly and Stoker.
~Reviewed by Bacardi Jim

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
In this Discworld adventure, Commander Vimes is sent to Uberworld on a diplomatic mission regarding the fat mines, but, of course, his detecting skills are called into play when a very ancient and special dwarf scone goes missing, threatening a war between the traditional and more forward-thinking dwarves. Also involved are wolves, werewolves, vampires, a deadly armed troll, and red tights. This is another Pratchett gem that will tickle your funnybone and make you think, often in the same paragraph.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
I am reading Joanne Harris's (author of Chocolat) 'Five Quarters of the Orange'. Sound like she writes cookery books, but believe me she doesn't!!!!
Just love her style of writing and am totally engrossed in this novel of wartime France. All about a disfunctional family in the countryside with a mother from hell!
As the blurb on the back cover says: 'Her strongest writing yet: as tangy and sometimes bitter as Chocolat was smooth'.
Her descriptions of the French countryside is visible!

and if you saw the movie 'Chocolat' PLEASE read the book!! It was ten times better - they changed it quite a bit. That was her best ever, IMHO!
~Reviewed by Val

Flood by Stephen Baxter
Next year. Sea levels begin to rise. The change is far more rapid than any climate change predictions; metres a year. Within two years London, only 15 metres above the sea, is drowned. New York follows, the Pope gives his last address from the Vatican, Mecca disappears beneath the waves. Where is all the water coming from? Scientists estimate that the earth was formed with seas 30 times in volume their current levels. Most of that water was burnt off by the sun but some was locked in the earth's mantle. For the tip of Everest to disappear beneath the waters would require the seas to triple their volume. That amount of water is still much less than 1% of the earth's volume. And somehow it is being released. The world is drowning. The biblical flood has returned. And the rate of increase is building all the time. Mankind is on the run, heading for high ground. Nuclear submarines prowl through clouds of corpses rising from drowned cities, populations are decimated and finally the dreadful truth is known. Before 50 years have passed there will be nowhere left to run. FLOOD tells the story of mankind's final years on earth. The stories of a small group of people caught up in the struggle to survive are woven into a tale of unimaginable global disaster. And the hope offered for a unlucky few by a second great ark . . .
Disaster novel about a biblical Flood. The world is drowning under the rising tide as scientists race to find out the cause and a solution.

A scarily plausible disaster novel steeped in hard science. Sometimes the science slows down the pace and sometimes feels like a science paper than a novel, but it has some really great scenes and is a real page turner.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
In this second Dresden Files book, Harry is called in around the full moon to find out what he can about a brutally mutilated corpse with strange looking paw prints around the body. Since this is not his area of expertise, Harry consults Bob, his knowledgeable and rather horny spirit-within-a-skull, and learns more about werewolves than he ever imagined. Armed with this knowledge, Harry must again try to defeat a deadly and powerful enemy, or perhaps even a pack of them, who threaten him and his friends.

This is a very inventive story with some unexpected twists and turns. I gobbled it up in no time and then went looking for more.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Last night I read Mitch Albom's "For One More Day" and it was amazing. It was short, a very fast read, but packed with emotion, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I put it down. It's about a man who's life is falling apart and he decides to kill himself. But after he takes a fall (literally), his deceased Mother comes to his aid and they spend one last day together. She gives him the warmth, love, and strength that he needs to face his past and his current demons so that he can change his life and go on to live in a way that he was never able to do before.

It's a beautiful story and I fell in love with the Mother right away. I found myself wishing that she were my Mother and that I'd had that kind of loving influence when I was growing up. sigh....

Of course I also found myself wishing that I could have just one more day with the people (and animals) that I've lost over the years. I still find myself wondering what I would do or say if I could have one more day with my Grandmother or with my precious dog Bob.....

Anyway, I could go on and on about this book, but I'll stop here and just say if you like books that really make you think and touch your heart, I think you will enjoy this one! :)
~Reviewed by Catbelly36

The Forger by Paul Watkins
When a young American painter receives a small scholarship to study in Paris for a few months in the summer of 1939, he jumps at the chance. It is a dream come true for him. As the war moves ever closer, he is offered the chance to leave again, but Paris is in his blood, and he decides to stay. With this decision, he becomes involved in the plan to forge paintings to sell or trade to the Nazis while the real ones are being spirited out of the art museums and hidden in the countryside.

This is a very well-plotted and suspenseful novel set in an authentically rendered Paris during the German occupation. It was a nice surprise to read such an excellently crafted thriller from a book I picked up mainly because it was about art and because the author is from my home state of New Jersey.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
One of the best books I've read this year!

The book has an interesting structure: written in 3 time frames, the first and last separated by over 100 years, and also through a couple of fairytale stories written by one of the characters of the book.

And it is a mystery, and there is a murder. It is not a conventional crime fiction story. It is evocative of books I read many years ago - authors like Victoria Holt, Daphne Du Maurier and Dorothy Eden. The setting is Cornwall, London, Brisbane Australia and a walled in garden with many secrets.
~Reviewed by Ghostlady

Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve
This is a wonderfully written book about a young girl who is seduced by an older man and the destruction that that love cost them both. The time period, 1899, when unwed mothers were considered most vile, is a most interesting period. At the turn of the century, to 1900, the same fears we all had at the coming of the year 2000 comes into play where people thought that the end of the world was coming and would be played out as in Revelations. I thought that very interesting when the same fears erupted a century later. It is all about a young girl who faces love for the first time, with the wrong person and how it changes her life forever. An absolute must read! Anita Shreve also wrote The Weight of Water which they made into a movie.


An Amazon Review:
This is a well crafted and lyrically written narrative, evocative of an era gone by. It tells the story of Olympia Biddeford, the unusually erudite and well educated fifteen year old daughter of a Boston Brahmin. One hot and steamy summer in turn of the century New Hampshire, she falls passionately and utterly in love with her father's friend, forty one year old John Haskell, a physician and man of letters, who has a wife and four children. Captivated by his intelligence and crusade on behalf of exploited mill workers, she and he, drawn to her youth, intelligence and beauty, leave all thought of propriety behind and, breaking every moral and social taboo of the time, enter into a forbidden, illicit love affair, that is ultimately doomed, with cataclysmic ramifications for all whom the affair touches.

The book explores how this young woman copes with the loss of her life in a larger social milieu, once the affair enters into the public domain, through the machinations of another. She, the doctor, and their respective families are tainted with scandal and presented with the fruit of that illicit love. The book explores how Olympia must reconstruct the tatters of her life into one in which she is finally able to expiate her youthful indiscretion within the context of the mores of the time. In doing so, she goes on a voyage of self discovery. Yet, through it all, she never once renounces her devotion to the man who introduced her to the throes of a passion so deep and profound that she gave herself over to it, body and soul. How these star crossed lovers finally come to terms with their grand passion is a story which the author seamlessly weaves into a book that will hold the reader in its thrall.
~Reviewed by Ghostlady

The Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation) by Isaac Asimov
I don't really think I need to explain or justify this choice, do I? If there are any questions as to its inclusion, I'll come back and edit in comments later. But that doesn't seem likely to be necessary.

I will mention that I am speaking only of the first three Foundation books. The later entries became first dull and then, eventually, sad and misguided. And that it was these three books which, as much as anything. led me to pursue a B.A. and Masters in Sociology.
~Reviewed by Bacardi Jim

Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
I really like the Stephanie Plum mysteries so far. Not only are they funny, suspenseful, and sexy, but they take place in places that I know. Stephanie's hunting ground is Trenton, New Jersey, which I know well because I did my graduate work at Trenton State, and in this book she also visits Point Pleasant, the town where I was born and where my mother went to high school.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Fragment by William Fahy
Jurassic Park meets Lost in this electrifying new adventure thriller. When the cast and crew of reality TV show 'SeaLife' land on picturesque, unexplored Henders Island it's a ratings bonanza. But they're blissfully unaware that the decisions they make there will shape the fate of mankind ! if they can only survive. For they quickly discover that the island is seething with danger. Having evolved in total isolation from the rest of the planet for millennia, Henders is home to host of vicious and exotic predators, terrifying creatures who live in a lightning fast blur of kill or be killed. A team of crack scientists is sent in to assess the situation and they are astounded by what they find. It soon becomes clear that if even the smallest bug ever made it off Henders island, life on earth as we know it would change very quickly indeed. The President is faced with the toughest decision of his career: take the risk of letting one of these creatures escape so that further research can be done, or nuke the island to protect the rest of planet Earth? Just when it seems the stakes couldn't get any higher, the scientists make a surprise discovery that changes everything!
A book of 2 halfs. Unfortunatly the second half isn't very good.

It starts off well for this type of crichton-esque novel. Take an Island cut off from civilisation and fill it with lots of dangerous and weird creatures described in detail how they might have evolved into the killing machines they are today. Take some carboard cut out characters, Now throw them together in a cage match and have them mauled in grusome fashion.

For about 200-odd pages this was a pretty decent Jurassic Park novel, but then it descends into Jurassic Park 3.

Too many cliches...too little time.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope
A Friday night group is started by Eleanor, a retired professional who invites two single mothers in the neighborhood to join her for some wine and conversation. The group gradually expands to six women ranging in age from 21 to 70-something and their various children. The women are very different in abilities, jobs, and interests, but they develop strong bonds of friendship with Eleanor at the core. However, when one of them starts dating a self-assured but enigmatic man, the friendships began to change in unexpected ways. Some of those bonds are tested and strengthened and some seem to dissolve.

I liked this book. I hadn't read any of Trollope's stories before this, although I remember seeing and liking the TV adaptation of The Choir on PBS a number of years ago. She's a good writer who has developed complex and very likable characters. Each one is unique, and she avoids stereotyping by allowing the reader glimpses into their inner lives and the events that made them what they are. This is a lovely and witty exploration of the comforts and the difficulties of female friendships and the dynamics of all the relationships around them. I've recommended it to my book group, which is also made up of unique and likeable women.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Fury (Star Wars Legacy of the Force 7) by Aaron Allston
Fighting alongside the Corellian rebels, Han and Leia are locked in a war against their son Jacen, who grows more powerful and more dangerous with each passing day. Nothing can stop Jacen’s determination to bring peace with a glorious Galactic Alliance victory–whatever the price.

While Luke grieves the loss of his beloved wife and deals with his guilt over killing the wrong person in retaliation, Jaina, Jag, and Zekk hunt for the real assassin, unaware that the culprit commands Sith powers that can cloud their minds and misdirect their attacks–and even turn them back on themselves.

As Luke and Ben Skywalker struggle to find their place among the chaos, Jacen, shunned by friends and family, launches an invasion to rescue the only person still loyal to him. But with the battle raging on, and the galaxy growing more turbulent and riotous, there’s no question that it is Jacen who is most wanted: dead or alive.
A distinct improvement on the lackluster previous novel and it's now building up a head of steam towards the end.

Reasonably exciting stuff.
~Reviewed by Lucien21
There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want. -Bill Watterson