Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Brisingr is the third installment of the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. Originally intended to be a trilogy, the series will be expanded to four books. That's right! Despite the length of Brisingr, the story doesn't end.

I was disappointed by the lack of action in Brisingr. There is more back story, lots of rather boring politics, and several side plots in this installment of the series. Paolini spends lots of time describing details of the different races and cultures, and has certainly created an interesting and compelling world. Unfortunately, Eragon remains irritatingly immature, despite his increase in skills and the great confidence everyone else has in him.

I won't give away the plot details and the important revelations, I'll just say I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm hoping book four will justify all the side plots and many details of this book. And I can't wait to read more about Saphira.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a surprisingly touching story written from the perspective of a philosophical dog, named Enzo. Enzo realizes he is not an ordinary dog and longs to become fully human someday. While watching television, where he gains most of his knowledge, he discovers a documentary on Mongolia where he learns that once a dog’s life is over he becomes reincarnated as a man. But only if he is ready, and Enzo is ready. Enzo reflects back on his life with his master, Denny, a struggling professional race car driver, his wife, Eve, and their daughter, Zoe. Denny shares his passion of racing with Enzo and with that knowledge Enzo begins to unwrap the mysteries of life. There is tragedy, struggles, set-backs, and disappointments and Enzo walks us through it all. There is an especially funny but poignant scene when Enzo is unexpectedly left home alone for three days and has an unpleasant encounter with a Zebra. We come to learn that there is a little Zebra in all of us! Although I don’t think you have to own a dog to enjoy this book, I think those who do will find it especially warm and charming.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I'm ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed the story and even stayed up late to finish it. On the other, I'm bothered by several ideas that Meyer seems to have lifted straight from other writers and the Stargate SG-1 TV series without giving proper credit. I'm also not sure why this title was marketed as an adult book, as it seems more suited to Meyer's established teen audience.

The basic plot is that parasitic aliens have invaded Earth. The centipede-like aliens are inserted into human hosts and take the minds and bodies as their own. One alien, known as Wanderer, has trouble subduing the mind of her human host, Melanie. They work together to find and join a small band of human survivors. I won't give away any more than that.

The characters are mostly one-dimensional; the dialog is pretty lame; the romance is completely predictable; and the plot is not very original. Nevertheless, I read this 600+ page book in one day. I'm just not sure why!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Waiting for White Horses by Nathan Jorgenson

I have to start with a disclaimer, this book is written by my dentist. For the past two years I have been asked every six months if I have read the book. In another 4 months I can proudly say, YES! This book is one of the best I have read in a long time. I laughed out loud, I cried a lot and I could not put the book down. The premise is simple; a man, his friendships, love and loss. Jorgenson’s character development was so realistic you began to know the characters, their emotions and reactions. Reading Waiting for White Horses, made me want to move to a lake in Northern Minnesota and wait for the white horses! I recommend this for any hunter, non-hunter and booklover of any age.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chateau Beyond Time by Michael Tobias

I read this book because I saw a review that said it was a "sophisticated thriller." The central premise is a little far-fetched for me: otherwise extinct creatures living at a remote chateau in France are protected by a secret society that dates back thousands of years. If you're willing to overlook this bit of improbability, the book is fast-paced and easy to read. There were some potentially interesting characters that the author did not develop nearly enough and I would have liked to have seen the ecology theme explored in more depth. Still, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
Wendy Street