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Rachel RSS Feed (Columbus, OH)

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Goblin Secrets (Alexander, William)
Goblin Secrets (Alexander, William)
by William Alexander
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.35
154 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, but it could have been better executed, December 19, 2012
Rownie is one of a flock of orphans under the "care" of Graba, a chicken-legged house-moving witch. His life revolves around running errands for Graba while scrounging enough food to live. When a troupe of goblins come to town, Rownie risks imprisonment by the guard and (worse) the wrath of Graba to see the play. He has soon joined leagues with the goblins in hopes of discovering more about the disappearance of his brother Rowan. Graba is very pissed off. This was a really cute book with a mixture of fairy tale, steam-punk, and Oliver Twist. But the execution wasn't as great as I'd hoped. I took a long time getting into the book...I felt like I should be enjoying it, but just couldn't concentrate. After I got used to the world, language, and characters, though, I enjoyed it a lot more. In the end, it was a good book, but it had potential to deliver more.


The Haven: A Novel (Stoney Ridge Seasons) (Volume 2)
The Haven: A Novel (Stoney Ridge Seasons) (Volume 2)
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.68
136 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A story of forgiveness, December 19, 2012
When Sadie Lapp returns home after several months of living with her newly-married sister, she comes bearing a foundling baby. She wants the baby to remain a secret until she can discover who the mother might be, but to her dismay rumors immediately start flying around town that she is the mother. On top of all that stress, Sadie is now questioning her own interest in Gideon Smucker, who has been in love with her for years. Does she like him? Or does she prefer Will Stoltz, the city-boy who's living on the farm as a wildlife intern who babysits a pair of endangered falcons that are nesting in the area? This is a sweet romance about the painful effects of gossip and the power of forgiveness. I think this was a wonderful follow-up to the first book in the series, The Keeper. Although you could, theoretically, read The Haven as a stand-alone book, I'm really glad I read The Keeper first. Reading The Keeper helped me to understand some issues that would have gone right over my head if I hadn't read it first. On the other hand, although The Haven continues with themes introduced in The Keeper, The Haven is a very different book because the lead characters are so different. Sadie is a cautious, awkward, unobtrusive girl who (at the beginning of the book, anyway) allows people and circumstances to take advantage of her. She needs to blossom into a more assertive young lady. Although I've read reviews which criticized her personality, I rather liked her. She reminded me of myself when I was that age. Fisher did a wonderful job of portraying the tortured shyness of Sadie - and then Sadie's transformation into assertiveness was very touching. No, her character isn't perfect, she made mistakes - as everyone else in the book did - but she was a realistic character. And one that I loved. If you like Amish romance, you'll like this series.


The Fox Inheritance (Jenna Fox Chronicles)
The Fox Inheritance (Jenna Fox Chronicles)
by Mary E. Pearson
Edition: Hardcover
53 used & new from $1.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but forgettable, December 18, 2012
After 260-years of purgatory, Locke Jenkins awakens with a body that seems familiar - yet somehow changed. His friend, Kara, who died in the car crash that killed Locke, also has a achingly similar body...but her mind isn't quite right. Locke and Kara soon learn that their minds had been downloaded and saved centuries ago by the father of Jenna Fox - another victim of the fatal crash. Although Jenna had been given a new life right away, the copies of Locke's and Kara's minds had collected digital dust until Dr. Gatsbro brought the teens back to life in this brave new world. But Dr. Gatsbro's motives are not altruistic. Locke and Kara make a desperate attempt to escape the doctor's nefariousness clutches...and are jettisoned into the foreign world of the future. But can Locke keep Kara from making a terrible mistake?

When I read The Adoration of Jenna Fox years ago I really liked it, but as I was reading The Fox Inheritance, I realized that I remembered almost nothing of the first book (perhaps it wasn't so great after all?). I had to rely on spoiler reviews of the first book, and on the hints-of-what-came-before in the second book to remember. This made the first part of the book rather confusing. I'd recommend familiarizing yourself with The Adoration of Jenna Fox before starting The Fox Inheritance. Although I enjoyed this book, I wasn't as impressed as I had been after reading the first in the trilogy. The Fox Inheritance had some world-building and good characters. It brought some interesting moral issues to the table: Is it ethical to bring someone back to life after they're dead - and risk changes? Is it ethical to use a sentient being that of human-creation for our own purposes, or do they deserve civil rights? These are intriguing questions, but they've been explored in many other books/movies. So, in the end, I liked this book. It was a fun read. I'll probably pick up the third book when it comes out. But I would have been perfectly happy if this trilogy had stayed as ONE standalone book. And I'm pretty sure I'll forget the plot of this book within a few weeks.


Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
by Mohammed Hanif
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.24
96 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Characters, Seedy Environment, No Plot, December 1, 2012
After spending over a year in a women's prison on some jacked up manslaughter charges, Alice Bhatti secures a job as a junior nurse in a Catholic hospital in the predominantly Muslim city of Karachi. There, she fights to salvage some amount of pride as she fends off roaming hands and gun-toting suitors. In the midst of this chaos, she manages to save a few lives. But is she performing miracles? Hanif's narrative has some truly beautiful moments, but I was left wondering: What's the point? There wasn't really a story-line...it was just a series of events. The scenery and characters supported the novel, but they lacked plot. This book was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust book prize, and I understand why - it displays the woes of practicing medicine in a religiously-charged, seedy environment. I certainly have a better appreciation, now, for medical practitioners in neighborhoods like this. I was moved by the characters, but not enthralled by the story.


Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
Pale Fire (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
by Vladimir Nabokov
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.67
101 used & new from $6.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Fascinating, and a bit Frightening, November 29, 2012
In this complex piece of literature, we explore the psyche of Charles Kinbote, an eccentric and obsessive man who is writing the introduction and notes to a 999-line poem entitled Pale Fire by a recently deceased poet with whom Kinbote has become enamored. Nabokov's novel isn't written in novel-form, though. It has four major parts: Kinbote's introduction to Pale Fire, the poem itself, Kinbote's prolific footnotes, and his index. This doesn't really sound like an engrossing story, I know, but descriptions can be misleading. Kinbote's notes are hilarious, sad, and frightening. As the book proceeds, we readers become more aware of the depth of Kinbote's obsessions - we learn more about who he is (arguably, who he thinks he is) and, through the unreliable testimonies of Kinbote, we learn about the passions of the poet John Shade. This is the type of book that has so many layers, you'll never find the core...but you'll be fascinated and laughing in turns while you look. This was my first reading of the book, and I'd have to read it again to decide on my own interpretation. I was really impressed by the audiobook production...this isn't the type of story that lends itself well to audio, but they did an admirable job. There were two readers, one for Kinbote's thoughts and one for the poem of John Shade. Both readers did a fantastic job...especially Vietor with Kinbote. He put JUST the right emphasis on words so that I would catch the humor in the complex word-play. However, if I read it again, I'll probably do it using the written-word so I can flip back and forth. This book is definitely worth a read if you like unique stories and complex psyches.


Culture and Imperialism
Culture and Imperialism
by Edward W. Said
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.15
132 used & new from $7.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural literary criticism, November 15, 2012
Culture and Imperialism describes how the language used in literature can powerfully impact our stereotypes of other cultures. Using examples in classical literature (ranging from Jane Austen, to Joseph Conrad, to Albert Camus), Said shows us how imperialism was reinforced by the written word. Then, (using examples including V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie) he illuminates how today's societies - who are so focused on multi-culturalism - read the right books for the wrong reasons. I found this book intriguing. I listened to it on audiobook - Ganim's reading was smooth and engaging - but I'm now tempted to pick up a hard-copy of the book and use it as a reference in my perusal of literature. This book would be interesting to anyone interested in the culture of imperialism or in literary criticism of literature in the imperialist era.


The Marshal's Promise (Love Inspired Historical)
The Marshal's Promise (Love Inspired Historical)
by Rhonda Gibson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
81 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweetly romantic despite the anachronisms, November 13, 2012
In this sweet little Christian historical romance put out by the Harlequin publishing company, Rebecca Ramsey has been forced by her evil stepmother to answer an advert for a mail-order bride. But upon arriving in New Mexico territories, she discovers that her husband-to-be has been killed. With nowhere to go, she decides to make her home in New Mexico. Luckily, the Marshal offers her a job as his housekeeper. But does the Marshal have an ulterior motive for his offer? Sparks fly as these two learn that communication works better than secrets. This was a very cute little book, and there were some really sweetly romantic moments in it. There were also some tartly romantic moments. If you're looking for a light historical romance, this is a good choice; however, this book has quite a few anachronisms in it so it's not to be read by the seriously hard-core historical fiction readers. This book is meant to be fun and sweet, not cerebrally historic.


The Black Sheep's Redemption (Love Inspired Suspense)
The Black Sheep's Redemption (Love Inspired Suspense)
by Lynette Eason
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
92 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Penultimate book of the Fitgerald Bay series, November 12, 2012
In this sweet little Christian romantic suspense from the Harlequin, Charles Fitzgerald has been accused of the murder of his nanny, and the only woman who is willing to replace the nanny is Demi Taylor, a young woman who recently suffered a head wound and can't remember who she is. Fitzgerald's family, who pretty much runs the town, is suspected of hiding evidence on the case. Will they be able to clear his name to everyone's satisfaction? And just who IS Demi, and why does she feel someone is stalking her?

This book is the penultimate book in a romantic suspense series about the Fitzgerald family (who apparently has a very suspenseful and romantically inclined few months during the murder investigation). Although I hadn't read any of the previous books in the series, this book had all of the information needed to understand what was going on. However, there are several loose ends in the book, leaving an opening for us to explore the romantic inclinations of Ryan Fitzgerald AND to discover *dum dum dum* the murderer. (At least I certainly HOPE we discover who the murderer is.) :) I really needed some fluffy reading at the moment that I picked this book up, and this certainly delivered. Light, quick, fun, romantic, and suspenseful. I'm glad I read it, and I'll probably pick up some of the others in the series.


The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance
The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance
by Jim Al-Khalili
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.36
84 used & new from $5.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting description of Arab science, November 11, 2012
Many of us were taught that the origins of science were in Ancient Greece but that the Western World fell into the "Dark Ages" where science was lost and no progress was made. This traditional story concludes that the Western world rediscovered the Greek philosophies thus spurring on the Renaissance. The House of Wisdom educates us about how the Arab world built upon the science of the Greeks, thus building the foundation for the scientific progress made during the Renaissance. The House of Wisdom is an engrossing description of Ancient Arab history of science. Al-Khalili discusses the development of math, optics, medicine, chemistry, and philosophy by sketching descriptions of major scientific figures and their accomplishments. For relief, All-Khalili inserts little passages about his own experiences in Iraq, which were helpful for lightening the mood. One thing I didn't like about Al-Khalili's book is that he is still stuck on the old-fashioned belief that the Western Middle Ages were dark and progress-free.

Overall, if you're interested in reading about Arabic science, I think this book is an excellent place to start.


The Social Conquest of Earth
The Social Conquest of Earth
by Edward O. Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.59
112 used & new from $7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting addition to my library, November 8, 2012
In The Social Conquest of Earth, Wilson expounds upon the theories that were set forth in his classic work Sociobiology. His main thesis is that group selection, not kin selection, drove evolution and helped us to develop societies. He compares the way human society developed to the way ant "society" developed (ants are his specialty). He suggests reasons why religion and xenophobia would have originally developed as protective characteristics of groups. This book covers a large swath of material...from ants to human prehistory, to history, to today. I think he did a pretty good job organizing the book considering what a wide topic he was covering. His theories were clear and for the most part convincing. I think Wilson is an atheist, but he did a pretty good job of stating his opinions in an agnostic sort of way to avoid insulting the faithful. I think the book was well-written, interesting, and approachable by a non-scientific audience. I had no issues with Hogan's narration--he read the book well, but it wasn't anything worth raving about.


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