Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Enchantress of Florence

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

In the beginning of this book I had a hard time figuring out who was talking and what time frame, or generation, they were talking about. I decided to just go with it and not worry too much about it. That method worked pretty well for me.

This is a beautifully woven story about a woman who was part reality and part myth. She was beautiful, wise, clever and magical. The trick is figuring out what is real and what is fancy. The tale moves backwards and forwards through time and across the deserts of the Mughal, across the sea and into Italy. This tells a story of friendship, love, emperors, politicians, pirates, and people.

I had a hard time getting into the book because it was hard to tell sometimes who was the voice and from what time was the story being told. Also, the language at times felt like a vine winding it's way around a trellis and slowly making progress upward. This is not a book to read in 10 or 15 minute stretches here and there but is better read in longer stretches so you can get into the language, the rhythm, and the story. It is a book worth reading if you are willing to be patient and not try to rush it.

The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

This is the final book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and it did not disappoint. The book was just a full of danger, adventure, and Greek Mythology come to life as all the other books.
Percy and his friends are yet another year older and at the books end, it seemed as though another series may follow.

I recommend this entire series.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

This is a weird book that could easily by someone's Doctoral Thesis on language.

The premise is this. On an island country off the coast of South Carolina, lived the man responsible for the sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." This man, Nollop, becomes the golden child for his country. They change the name of the country to Nollopia and they erect a statue of the man complete with a tile cenotaph of the famous sentence.
Fast forward 100 years. The country of Nollopia has progressed but not as quickly as their neighbor, the USA. Telephone service is unreliable and computers are non existent on the quaint island country.

When a tile letter falls from the cenotaph, the leaders of the country decide that it is not because the glue used to fix the tiles has become old and brittle but that Nollop is speaking from beyond the grave and wishes them to cease using the letter in question. Punishments are determined and the ban of the letter Z begins. Soon, of course, other letters plunge from the statue and more letters are banned. Eventually Nollop is turned into a diety and the governmental powers that be become totalitarian in nature.

This was an interesting use of the language. What happened within the laws and government of Nollopia however can be likened to the recipe for frog soup. Place the frog in a pot of cool water and then turn on the heat. The frog will remain in the pot as it begins to boil rather than leaping out as it would if you placed it directly into boiling water.

The Mockingjay

The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

This was a great ending to this trilogy. The suspense and action was kept up throughout the entire series. The ending was "as it should be" I think.

One of the things I liked best was that by writing through the voice of Catniss, the whole series had a whirlwind feel to it. Just like it would feel for a 17 year old to be ripped from her reality and thrust into all these varied experiences against her will. Also, in losing the closeness she shared with Gale, she lost her grounding wire so she was feeling completely isolated and alone.

This would be a great series to begin discussions of government, types of government and their role in the lives of the people as well as a discussion of the responsibility of the people when the government is not acting on their best interest. A very fun and fast read.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The sequel to The Hunger Games did not disappoint.
The only annoyance was that I had to keep reminding myself that Catniss is only 17. She is so annoyingly frustrating with her emotional immaturity that I wanted to smack her. It's really quite accurate though, when I compare her to other teen girls I know.
The suspense that began in the first book was well kept into the second even though this second book doesn't have the action of the actual Hunger Games.
Starting the third book immediately.