Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Mammoth Hunters - 5 stars

Summary of The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel:
The authenticity of background detail, the lilting prose rhythms and the appealing conceptual audacity that won many fans for The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Valley of the Horses continue to work their spell in this third installment of Auel's projected six-volume Earth's Children saga set in Ice Age Europe. The heroine, 18-year-old Ayla, cursed and pronounced dead by the "flathead" clan that reared her, now takes her chances with the mammoth-hunting Mamutoi, attended by her faithful lover, Jondalar. Gradually overcoming the prejudice aroused by her flathead connection, Ayla wins acceptance into the new clan through her powers as a healer, her shamanistic potential, her skill with spear and slingshot and her way with animals (she rides a horse, domesticates a wolf cub, both "firsts," it would seem, and even rides a lion). She also wins the heart of a bone-carving artist of "sparkling wit" (not much in evidence), which forces her to make a painful choice between the curiously complaisant Jondalar, her first instructor in love's delights, and this more charismatic fellow. The story is lyric rather than dramatic, and Ayla and her lovers are projections of a romantic rather than a historical imagination, but readers caught up in the charm of Auel's story probably won't care.

I had a hard time rereading this book, because of memories of the emotional anguish I felt the first time. It really captures your heart, and your mind. I cried the first time, and the second time I wanted to hurry through the parts that I knew were coming up and would make me cry. After reading this book my emotions would be influenced for hours afterward. If the book made me sad, I would be sad afterwards and needed to be comforted. There are few books that can do this to me, and it really shows the power of the story Auel has built up. I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Crown of Dalemark - 4 stars

Summary of The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones:
The story's engaging first part concerns Mitt, a sensitive, courageous young man who speaks his mind. An earl and countess assign him the unpleasant task of murdering Noreth, a teen who believes it's her destiny to seek the ring, cup, and sword that will allow her to unify the land and become queen. The author then leaps ahead 200 years and introduces Maewen, 13, who is sent back in time to impersonate Noreth. Maewen is quite clueless about her purpose, but adjusts to the strangeness of being in the past and on a quest remarkably quickly. Her followers accept her as Noreth without suspicion?proving Wynne Jones's observation that people see what they want to see.

This is the conclusion of the Dalemark Quartet, and it deftly brings together the previous three books. They did not seem to connect at all, but the forth one brings it together in ways I had not thought of as I was reading the previous ones. It was literally awesome, and I finished the book in one day. I highly recommend it, but only after reading the other three because otherwise you will be confused.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Valley of Horses - 4 stars

Summary The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel:
Auel's second installment in the Earth's Children series does start out fairly slow. Not only does the plot follow Ayla and her newly-found animal companions but it also focuses on Jondalar, the handsome blonde-haired, blue-eyed wonder, and his brother, Thonalon. Most of the first half of the book tends to make you want to skip pages to get to "the good part" however, again, there is a wealth of knowledge about the Ice Age throughout the pages. Auel even uses several pages to discuss flint knapping. For those of you who aren't interested in the historical perspective, you may find the book rather dull until Ayla and Jondalar finally meet.

This book continues the story of Ayla. I found it enjoyable, but there were often parts that got boring that I skimmed, such as descriptions of how to hunt. It's information heavy, but it's still an enjoyable story. Some of the people don't seem real, but those are minor characters so it's forgivable. The summary above is a pretty accurate description of how I feel about this book.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Clan of the Cave Bear - 5 stars

Summary of Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel:
When her parents are killed by an earthquake, 5-year-old Ayla wanders through the forest completely alone. Cold, hungry, and badly injured by a cave lion, the little girl is as good as gone until she is discovered by a group who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. This clan, left homeless by the same disaster, have little interest in the helpless girl who comes from the tribe they refer to as the "Others." Only their medicine woman sees in Ayla a fellow human, worthy of care. She painstakingly nurses her back to health--a decision that will forever alter the physical and emotional structure of the clan. Although this story takes place roughly 35,000 years ago, its cast of characters could easily slide into any modern tale. The members of the Neanderthal clan, ruled by traditions and taboos, find themselves challenged by this outsider, who represents the physically modern Cro-Magnons. And as Ayla begins to grow and mature, her natural tendencies emerge, putting her in the middle of a brutal and dangerous power struggle.

This is an excellent book! People have told me that only old ladies read these her books, and while I've noticed that to be true, it doesn't mean that others shouldn't read them. You can learn a lot from the book, and the movie is does not do it justice. You really get to love the characters, and feel for them, and understand how hard life used to be. I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Code Name: Princess - 3 stars

Summary of Code Name: Princess by Christina Skye:
This slim but action-packed sequel to Skye's previous romance, Code Name: Nanny, stars navy SEAL Hawk MacKenzie and hotel investigator Jess Mulcahey (sister to FBI agent Summer Mulcahey, the heroine from Nanny). The pair come together under tumultuous circumstances when Jess, pretending to be minor royalty, bribes a hotel manager into upgrading her to a nicer room, which turns out to be Hawk's digs. Although the hotel has changed locks, it doesn't deter Hawk, who gains entry with a "highly illicit piece of technology" and catches her in the shower—a plot twist used in Skye's last book. Hawk is hot on the trail of a stolen government lab animal, and Jess is afraid the hotel staff will seek revenge on her for a bad review. Neither has the time or patience for the other's drama, but they are thrown together time and again in the genre's usual fashion—chasing the bad guys through the fog and rain of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, easing sexual tension in a stalled hotel elevator and tracking down the lab animal, an adorable koala bear.

This book is so cheesy. It's written well, but some parts just seem very silly and unbelievable. It's a good book to read for fluff. I may end up reading the previous book, since it uses some of the same characters, but it's not like I'm in any hurry.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Leave it to Psmith - 4 stars

Summary of Leave it to Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse:
A debononair young Englishman, Psmith (“the p is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan”) has quit the fish business, “even though there is money in fish,” and decided to support himself by doing anything that he is hired to do by anyone. Wandering in and out of romantic, suspenseful, and invariably hilarious situations, Psmith is in the great Wodehouse tradition.

This book is hilarious! I could not stop cracking up laughing. I love how everyone's lives are conveniently intertwined and fate seems to be everywhere. I highly recommend reading this book for the entertainment value. It's easy to read, too, and goes quick. The summary isn't very good,but that's ok. It's basically that Psmith tries to get a girl, who works for a man whose relatives are trying to steal his sister's necklace. Complicated but easy to follow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Nerds Like it Hot - 4 Stars

Summary of Nerds Like it Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson:
Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick wouldn't normally be caught dead on a cruise aimed at single geeks. But as the sole witness to a murder, hiding out may be her only chance at staying alive. With P.I. Lex Manchester guarding her, and a voluptuous disguise in place of her plain-Jane wardrobe, Gillian should be safe... if she can resist a titanic attraction to Lex that's making her fantasize about some extra-naughty cruise activities...He's rediscovered his inner nerd...Lex thought he had left behind his nerdy ways, but his suave demeanor has no chance against Gillian's bombshell image and the smart, sexy woman within. And when the scent of seduction wafts through the sea air, what's a red-blooded male to do?And the passion they've found is about to get out of control...With a passenger list that includes a mobster on a mission, a cross-dressing sociopath, and hundreds of lusty nerds, Lex must find a way to keep Gillian safe-and prove that he's truly her nerd for all seasons...

Like all her nerd books, Thompson succeeds at hooking up every character with someone, or most characters at least. It seems she doesn't like them to get lonely. I liked this one because the sex wasn't immediate, and happened at just the right time. However, I wonder about her nerds because they are getting less and less nerdy with each successful book. I wouldn't have called Lex a nerd at all, and she could have done much better to make it seem so. However, the concept of the nerd cruise made it worthwhile. I do wish she didn't use the stereotypes so much, as not all nerds look like they have no fashion sense.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, and forgive her for the issues I have with it.