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Brenna B. (demiducky25) - Reviews

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The Constant Princess
The Constant Princess
Author: Philippa Gregory
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 793
Review Date: 1/17/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Although this book was quite enjoyable, it got very repetitive at times. Really, if I had to read "I am ready to make my destiny, to take my place in history," etc. or something with similar wording, one more time, I would have throw the book across the room. However, I did enjoy the subject matter. Katherine of Aragon is often regulated to the margins of history...she's Henry VIII's first wife, cast aside for Anne Boleyn. It was nice to see her as a more 3-dimensional person. I liked how Philippa Gregory built on what Katherine's relationship with her first husband, Arthur, may have been like (since do we really know what happens behind closed doors), and that Katherine may have had her own motives for wanting to marry Henry. Gregory also did a nice job showing how Katherine's childhood with militant monarch parents may have shaped her outlook on life (and I got a totally different perspective of Ferdinand and Isabella as rulers...very different than the king and queen who sent Christopher Columbus on his voyage that you learned about in school). It was also refreshing to see the Moors of Spain in a positive light as a well-educated civilization and to see the English and Spanish as being the ones that were less civilized, since usually this is portrayed the other way around.


The Crossroad (Amish Country Crossroads, Bk 2)
The Crossroad (Amish Country Crossroads, Bk 2)
Author: Beverly Lewis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 161
Review Date: 5/8/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This is the sequel to "The Postcard." Phillip Bradley has gone back to NYC and his "fancy" way of life, but can't seem to get the beautiful, blink Rachel Yoder out of his head. He has started going to church and has found spiritual happiness, but he still feels like something is missing. He continues to do research of blindness caused by trauma to try to help Rachel. Rachel has come to a point where she's decided that God will heal her sight if she keeps praying for guidance and keeps refusing the healing of the powwow doctors. She starts to make amends with the tragic accident that took her husband and young son, but hits a wall whenever she tries to push the memories too far. She also can't seem to get Philip Bradley out of her head, though she feel that they could never be together because they come from such different worlds.

Ultimately, I was glad to find out what happened to the characters, but this book seemed to drag in spots. It started off strong, but I felt I was slogging through it by the middle and the ending just seemed rushed. It seemed repetitive and it probably would have been better as a shorter book since there seemed to be a lot of filler. Definitely not as good as the first book, but if you are interested in finding out what happens between Rachel and Phillip from the first book like I was, then it's at least worth it for that.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: The Inspiration for the Upcoming Major Motion Picture
Review Date: 1/25/2009
Helpful Score: 2


I saw the movie before reading the book and knew off the bat that they were essentially different stories with just the character's name and aging syndrome in common, so I really tried not to compare them but to think of them as the different entities that they are. I did enjoy this story as a nice, quick read. F. Scott Fitzgerald makes a few interesting points about aging in this story and how as a society we expect people to "act their age." Even though Benjamin looks like a 70 year old, his father forces him to play with rattles and drink from a bottle because that's what is expected from a baby even though this baby would rather chat with his grandfather about the weather and read the encyclopedia. With the exception of a short period of time in the middle of his life where his physical age and actual age line up, Benjamin experiences some forms of "age discrimination" which can often be humorous, particularly in the beginning of the story. It was interesting to see that Benjamin was able to enjoy life after working hard for so many years because he was physically young enough to do so, which is normally the opposite for everyone else and this might account for some of the jealousies exhibited by other characters. I just wish this story was a little longer because it left me wanting more, certain things felt really glossed over, particularly in his middle years and his relationship with his son.


Cursed
Cursed
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/26/2015


The premise of this book was good, and I was really into it at the beginning. But after a while, it started to drag and get repetitive. The ending helped make up for that a little bit, but not enough to rate this higher than three stars. I wish some of the secondary characters were developed more. They seemed interesting and didn't get as much "screen-time" as they should have.


Devoted
Devoted
Author: Dick Hoyt, Don Yaeger
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/19/2011


In our lives we all make excuses for why we cant do certain things. Some of those excuses may seem more justified than others, but reading Devoted really makes you think about whats stopping you from doing what you want to do. I know I took a real long look at my life after reading this book, and figured that the reasons I stopped running after high school are actually pretty lame. I used to run a fairly competitive 5K time, and perhaps someday I still can. Even before reading this book Ive been slowly working on getting back into shape so I can start running again, and when I eventually do start again Ill have to keep Rick and Dicks Yes, you can motto in my head. I gave my copy to one of the English teachers I work with so she can add it to her classroom library (as someone who competes in triathlons, she gave it a read first and enjoyed it). Its not a difficult book to read, and I really think that our students will get something out of the positive messages from the book, especially in regards to Ricks struggles with education and how he and his parents had to fight just so he could attend school.


Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Author: Vicki Myron
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 4/18/2010


This is a cute and touching story about Dewey, a library cat in a small town in Iowa. Dewey was found stuffed in the book return box of the Spencer Public Library as a kitten, and he would then spend the next 19 years living in the library, forming relationships with the people of the community, including Vicki Myron, the library's director. This is also Vicki's story as much of the book spends time analyzing her own life and how Dewey helped influence her life. After all, he lived in the library nearly the entire time she worked there, so their stories can't help but be intertwined. Finally, it's also the story of Spencer, Iowa and the changes it goes through during the nearly 20 years presented in this book. All-in-all, this is a touching tale of love and friendship, interspersed with cute anecdotes about Dewey's adventures (some of the stories reminding me of my own cat so I felt I could connect with those particular tales).


Digital Fortress
Digital Fortress
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 1754
Review Date: 7/1/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I really enjoyed this book and as this is my third Dan Brown book, I can now say that I truly enjoy his writing style. I love how nearly every chapter is from a different point-of-view (keeps alternating between 3-4 main characters/plot situations). There are tons of twists and JUST when you think you know what's going to happen, BAM... he changes it on you! I also love how Dan Brown fleshes out the characters and how even a one page minor character will get a back-story. It makes the characters seem more realistic and that they exist for a purpose. I would highly recommend this book.


Dirty Jokes and Beer : Stories of the Unrefined
Dirty Jokes and Beer : Stories of the Unrefined
Author: Drew Carey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 4/16/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I received this book a few years ago as a gift because I was a big fan of "The Drew Carey Show." It's separated into a few different sections, some are about Drew's life, others are jokes, etc... I recall enjoying it but being a bit surprised at the amount of swearing in it compared to the type of humor on "The Drew Carey Show" (but then again, the title says "dirty jokes" so don't be too surprised to see some in there! :-P). All in all, if you are a fan of Drew Carey, it is a worthwhile read to hear some things from his perspective (childhood, etc).


Distant Waves
Distant Waves
Author: Suzanne Weyn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 33
Review Date: 3/13/2011


I went into this expecting a novel about the Titanic since that's what the cover says. It's mostly a book about the supernatural and spirit worlds. The Titanic actually plays a very small role in the book. A few parts felt awkwardly written, as if trying to shovel historical information onto the reader (I love historical fiction, but this book seems to try to shove in your face the fact that it's trying to justify itself as being slightly historical). Anyway, this story follows five sisters and their mother as they grow up in a place called Spirit Vale. Their mother is a spiritual medium, two of the sisters seem like they are preparing to follow in her path, two of the sisters are less enthused about the spirit world, and want to one day leave Spirit Vale. The final sister, the main character Jane, does a nice job of straddling the line between being logical/ scientific and having some belief in the unexplained. I did enjoy her character and the journey she went on, but I think what turned me off to this book was the fact that it wasn't what I went in expecting.


Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Ya Yas, Bk 2)
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Ya Yas, Bk 2)
Author: Rebecca Wells
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 1509
Review Date: 7/4/2010


This is the second book in the "Ya-Yas" Series" and probably the most famous of the three. It is also probably the best of the three, or at least I thought it was the best in the series. This book presents Siddalee (Sidda) Walker, grown up and on her own, dealing with the idea of marriage. She is in love with a wonderful man, but she can't seem to bring herself to marry him due to issues from her childhood, particularly those issues with her mother, Vivi. She feels like she's never been taught how to love, and this is compounded with an incident that caused Vivi to alienate herself from Sidda. Sidda decides to seek refuge from the world in a cabin out in the woods, and there she discovers what she was longing for, with a little help from her mothers' friends, the Ya-Yas, and a scrapbook containing their "Divine Secrets." Using the "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" as her guide, Sidda discovers secrets from Vivi's life, which helps bring understanding to her own life.

As mentioned before, I liked this book the best out of the three. The writing style is more "traditional" than the first and third books. Those books both bounce back and forth between time periods and character perspectives in every chapter. This book has much cleaner transitions between time periods and keeps everything except a few letters between characters in the third person. This book can certainly be enjoyed without reading the other two books in the series. I felt that Vivi was much more of a "mixed up and misunderstood" character in this book, rather than the monster she seems to be in the first one. I like Vivi much better in this book.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly : A Memoir of Life in Death
Review Date: 6/26/2008
Helpful Score: 1


This book is Jean-Dominique Bauby's reflection on what it's like to live with locked-in syndrome. It is a bit hard to follow at times since it's basically his train of thought, but it is a very inspirational and quick read at 132 pages.


The Dressmaker's War: A Novel
The Dressmaker's War: A Novel
Author: Mary Chamberlain
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 7/8/2016
Helpful Score: 2


I found this to be a very engaging book that was extremely difficult to put down. I started reading it at 7am this morning while waiting at the mechanics, kept reading it when I got home, took a few little breaks to do other things like eat, and a one hour break to finish an assignment I had to do. I was finished reading the book by 3:45pm the same day. It's been quite a while since I've had a book where I just HAD to keep reading it to find out what happened. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, I enjoyed the adventure it took me on because I NEEDED to know what was going to happen to Ada.


The Emperor's Silent Army : Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China
Review Date: 8/2/2011


This book provides an interesting, basic look into the Terracotta Warriors. It provides simple background information about the actual 1974 archaeological find to detailed information about the first emperor Qin Shihuang who was responsible for these magnificent pieces of art being created. The pictures in this book are just stunning! Even though this is a children's book, I really wish it was longer with more information. I guess I will have to check out some of the resources that the author recommends at the back of the book to learn more.

Interesting side note- I had been bothered by the fact that the word "archeology" was used when I had always been taught that the correct spelling was "archaeology," but then I looked it up and it turns out that both spellings are considered proper and acceptable. I guess I learned something new beyond what I was planning to learn! :-P


Ethan Frome
Ethan Frome
Author: Edith Wharton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 8/22/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This was a very short and rather easy read. It was also quite depressing (but still worthwhile and enjoyable). It starts from the point of view of a narrator (who is only in the first and last chapters) who is new to town and needs a way to get a ride to the train station for work, ends up hiring a disfigured, sad man named Ethan Frome to take him. The narrator becomes intrigued with why Ethan is the way he is, why he seems a bit more educated and intellectually curious compared to others in the town, and eventually he puts Ethan's story together when he ends up having to stay at Ethan's house during a terrible snow storm. The rest of the book (except the last chapter) focuses on Ethan's past, told from a third person point of view. We learn that Ethan was not always disfigured, that he attended a little college before being called home after his father died to take care of his ailing mother. He then ends up marrying Zeena, who helped care for his mother and later becomes very "sickly" herself (implied that much of her "troubles" are hypochondriac in nature). Zeena's cousin, Mattie, is hired to take care of her, and Ethan finds himself dealing with his emotions as he falls for Mattie. Ethan is rather conflicted because he wants to leave Zeena to be with Mattie, but he struggles inside with feelings of loyalty and doesn't want Zeena to suffer as a result of him leaving her (despite the fact he borders on hating her at times due to her cruel nature towards Mattie). The book deals with Ethan's internal turmoil and what he ultimately decides to do. All-in-all, it was a very worthwhile read!


Evening Class
Evening Class
Author: Maeve Binchy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 269
Review Date: 2/14/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This was my first Maeve Binchy book, and I have to say that I enjoyed it and plan to read more of her books in the future. This story revolves around an evening Italian class and the people who are taking the course. Somehow, each character is brought together in the class through various connections (in a way it reminds me of the TV show LOST in how everything is somehow connected, even on a minor level, minus the supernatural stuff). Each character is fleshed out in their own chapter, and Binchy really strives to make the setting come alive by describing everything in detail. She goes into each characters' past to explain their motives for taking the Italian class, and what they learn from their classmates and their teacher, Signora (most of what they learn has nothing to do with the new language). A few things felt dated as it was written in and based in the early-to-mid 1990s, a few parts were predictable, and for me there were a few terms that aren't the same in America as they are in Ireland that made it tricky to understand a few things (take away for take out; noughts and crosses for tic-tac-toe; many references to the various levels of education & grades in school, etc.) , but I think that also added to the book's charm since it made the setting feel very real and I could hear it being read in an Irish accent. I enjoyed Aidan's story the most, probably because I'm a teacher myself, but each characters' story is interesting on its own, and it was nice to see each character grow and change throughout the story. All-in-all, if you are looking for something relatively light, but not "fluffy," to read, then this is the book for you! :-)


Finding Noel
Finding Noel
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 110
Review Date: 12/26/2009


This is a VERY quick read (started it Christmas Eve, finished it Christmas night...that's with all family activities and things in the middle there). I think part of it has to do with the fact that the story is very captivating, and partially to do with the fact that the chapters are short with a title page for each which makes for a lot of pages that only have the chapter number on them and nothing else, so it's really not the 300+ pages that are listed, but rather somewhere around 200 something pages since there's 36 chapters which means you lose at least 36 pages to just titles, not even including the half-pages and quotes that take up a whole page even if they are only a sentence long. Anyway, this is a story that does tug at the heart strings. It's about a young man named Mark Smart who is down on his luck. In rapid succession, his mother died, his girlfriend dumped him, and he lost his scholarship to school. He has no intention of returning home to Alabama (he's currently in Utah) because he hates his father for the way he treated him growing up. He considers ending his life when his car ends up getting stuck during a blizzard, but then he meets a young woman named Macy Wood who helps him feel better. He learns that Macy had a very difficult life (separated from her sister and given up for adoption when she was little to an adopted family that was very abusive). Together, Mark and Macy try to find Macy's sister, despite not knowing her name. The only clue they have is a Christmas ornament Macy's birth father gave her before she was adopted.

This one will make your eyes tear up a bit. Although certain parts are predictable, I found that I couldn't put this book down. It's a great read during the holiday season!


First Love (Penguin Great Loves)
First Love (Penguin Great Loves)
Author: Ivan Turgenev
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/1/2008


This books wasn't really what I was expecting it to be, but it was still a worthwhile read. It is told from the point of view of a middle-aged man, Vladimir Petrovich, reflecting on his life at 16, which makes it interesting since we only know what's happening from his point of view (both as a 16 year old with some reflection as an adult). It was a little bit like reading a diary in that sense. We never really know what's going on inside the other characters. The best parallel I can give for how this story is presented is the TV series "The Wonder Years" in how the adult narrator is there but not there since the teenage self is really the focus of the story. I've read on different forums that some people find the ending a twist in terms of Zinaida's (Vladimir's crush) true love, but to me they hinted at it pretty early in the story.


Forever in Blue - The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
Forever in Blue - The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
Author: Ann Brashares
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 10/17/2008


This is the 4th book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. In this book, the girls learn to come to terms with love and what their friendship is really made of as they realize that they are now adults. Although Tibby's story is usually the most interesting to me, this time I think Lena's story was the most outstanding as her character really develops into her own person (something we caught a glimpse at in the 3rd book).


Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
Author: Ray Raphael
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/3/2010


This book presents 13 myths in early American history, breaks down the elements of truth, then analyzes why each myth has been perpetuated for so long. Some of these myths, such as Molly Pitcher, I was familiar with. Others, such as Valley Forge not being the worst "long hard winter" encampment (actually happened later in Morristown, NJ, but Valley Forge didn't have the mutinies and other undesirable stories that the Morristown encampment had). I was really impressed by one of the chapters (might have been the last one, but I don't remember) which reminds everyone that the American Revolution also had battles that took place outside of America (France and Britain still hated each other and fought their own battles in conjunction with fighting each other in America, I never really thought of the American Revolution as a global conflict, but I guess it really was). I also liked the ongoing message of the American Revolution being a movement led by the people, not just the "Founding Father" figureheads we usually associate with it. At the end of the book, Ray Raphael gives information on where to find lesson plans related to what was in the book. I checked out a few and if I ever teach US history again, I might use some elements of them (I teach Ancient World now, so it doesn't work for me at the moment). One thing that bothered me was that it seemed like the author was doing a lot of "I told you so"ing by showing where history texts tend to eliminate information, but without giving clear examples of where texts get the information correct. After all, he had to get his information from somewhere (I know there's the super long bibliography at the end, but I mean he could have given credit by stating that a certain source does tell the whole story, or at least most of the true story. All in all, it was a very interesting read!


The Friday Night Knitting Club (Knitting Club, Bk 1)
The Friday Night Knitting Club (Knitting Club, Bk 1)
Author: Kate Jacobs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 1913
Review Date: 11/29/2008
Helpful Score: 2


I'll admit it, this book did make me cry (something I NEVER do with books). It's a story about a single mother raising her nearly teenage daughter in NYC while trying to run a knitting shop, and the lives of the women who frequent the store. This book reminded me of a grown-up version of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" to a degree in terms of how women from different backgrounds with different personalities who probably wouldn't talk to each other normally are brought together by circumstance. It was a VERY quick read (read it Thanksgiving night until Saturday afternoon) and made me want to take up knitting again (abandoned it in middle school) but I know I don't have the patience for it! I just found out about the sequel, and I look forward to reading that someday (hopefully the wishlist moves fast)!


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