Cascadia

By H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

Dr. Rob Elwood, a respected geologist, has studied the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a dangerous fault off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, for years. Now he’s having repeated nightmares of a massive earthquake and tsunami striking the region. Knowing he’s placing his reputation and career at risk, he goes public with his premonitions.

The quake fails to occur and Rob fears he’s lost everything. But the disaster does strike, just not when expected, and Rob finds himself not only vindicated, but hurled abruptly into a life-and-death rescue mission with his private aircraft.

Rob’s story intersects with several others, including that of a retired fighter pilot attempting to make amends to a woman he jilted twenty-five years earlier, and another of an elderly black man searching for legendary buried treasure along the rugged Oregon coast.

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(A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review)

I’m a huge fan of action movies. Even if someone tells me it’s a bad movie, I’ll still go watch it because, as long as things are blowing up, how can it really be a bad movie? I’m not expecting an Oscar-winning film. Just to see special effects and things set on fire.

The beginning of Cascadia was a bit heavy-handed with the explanation of earthquakes and how they work, etc, though I definitely walked away knowing more about earthquakes than I did before. I also wish more time had been spent introducing the main characters before the earthquake hit. But like I said, I’m not expecting Pultizer prize-winning writing. I just want to be entertained.

And I was! This book is very exciting and is everything you could want in a disaster movie, er, book. Widespread devastation, high stakes, narrow escapes, ordinary people turned heroes, it’s all here.

Jonathan and Zurry were by far my favorite characters. I love a good treasure hunt story and the fact that this was a sub-plot in a disaster story made it even better.

The only part I really couldn’t get my head around was the plotline with Cassie. It seemed very out-of-place and didn’t do much for the story.

Overall, a very enjoyable read that would be great for summer!

 

The Secret Garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett

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When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

Though I’ve seen the cartoon version of this book, I haven’t read The Secret Garden until this year. Which is quite the tragedy because I really enjoyed this book!

Perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t read it until now. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed or appreciated it as much if I’d read it as a child or at a younger age.

I loved the description of Mary as being this cross, horrible little child at the beginning who ends up in this dreary place. But as explores her new homes, discovers the secret garden, and makes new friends, Mary blossoms as well as any flower.

The thing I probably liked most about this book is something I wouldn’t have really appreciated when I was younger.

Slight Spoilers (but I think everyone already knows this book):

 

Mary and Dickon help Colin heal by encouraging him to think positive. And in the book, by thinking positively, Colin heals himself and is able to walk again.

END SPOILERS

 

I think you’ll agree that the following is a pretty deep thought for a children’s book:

“One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live… surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”

Many, many adults struggle with this idea of a positivity. To find it stuck between the pages of a book from 1911 is quite remarkable.

I think I’m going to do a blog post soon with a sort of imaginary children’s bookshelf of what books are a must-read for children — The Secret Garden will definitely be included!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That You Wish Were Taught In Schools

***Note: I acidentally switched this week and last week’s TTT topic! *** As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic: Top Ten Books That You Wish Were Taught In Schools. Interestingly, but probably not at all surprisingly, most of these books have occupied spots on the Banned Book Lists.

1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2. Native Son by Richard Wright

3. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Doestoevsky

5. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

7. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

9. Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov

10. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

If you read any of these books in school or have put them on your syllabi, I’d love to hear about it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Love to See As a Movie/TV Show

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic: top ten books you’d love to see as movies/tv shows. I could only think of eight. Some of these might already be films, so if you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

1. Private series by Kate Brian
– I know this was an internet series, but I think it deserve to be on tv, a la Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

2. The Passage by Justin Cronin
-This would be great as a Game of Thrones esque tv series.

3. Hyperion series by Dan Simmons
-Also, would be great as a tv show.

4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
– I don’t think a movie would do it justice, but who wouldn’t want to see The Cemetery of Forgotten Books on-screen?

5. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
-Would be great as an animated film. An adult cartoon.

6. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
-I imagine this as a great mini-series.

7. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowtiz
-I’m honestly surprised this has never been adapted for tv. I guess there was one movie, that didn’t really get much attention in the states.

8. Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
-I guess this is actually happening finally?

9. Privilege series by Kate Brian

-A spin-off of Private actually, but equally good.

10. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

-I loved this book and think it would be a great movie.

The Club Dumas

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Lucas Corso is a book detective, a middle-aged mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found dead, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas’s masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named for a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris on the killer’s trail in this twisty intellectual romp through the book world.

I almost gave up this book. I almost did. But once I got about fifty or so pages in, when they started talking about the Satanic texts and The Nine Gates, I was hooked. The front of The Club Dumas describes it as Anne Rice meets Umberto Eco, which worried me. Anna Rice I like, but I tried to read Eco’s The Prague Cemetery some months ago and I just couldn’t do it. But this, I could.

You definitely have to really love books and the history of books, including how they’re made. There’s a lot of discussion about book-making techniques across the years, including bindings, woodcuts, printing presses, etc. If the thought of that makes you go to sleep, don’t read this book. The plot is definitely on the order of a mystery/thriller, but it’s very sedate. There aren’t bombs going off in every chapter.

The Club Dumas is very well-written, the sentences taut and beautiful. Sometimes the plot becomes a little confusing, as it often seems poised to veer off into the surreal. One of the characters is referred to simply as “The Girl” because she gives the main character, Corso, the false name of Irene Adler, of Sherlock Holmes fame.

This book is a treasure if you really know your literary history, particularly where Dumas and Sherlock Holmes are concerned. There’s a lot of nice references that the educated reader will notice and appreciate.

The end let me down though. It grew too convoluted. I’m still not sure how the two major plot lines connect, nor am I sure exactly what happened in the last hundred or so pages.

Overall, while The Club Dumas was a fairly enjoyable way to pass some time, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Topics That Won’t Make Me Pick Up a Book

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic, a companion to the earlier topic from April 30th, top ten topics that won’t make me pick up a book. Not that they’re always deal breakers, but as a rule I don’t particularly enjoy these types of topics.

1. Cancer

2. Divorce

3. 9/11

4. The Holocaust

5. World War II

6. Zombies

7. Fairies

8. Cars

9. Planes

10. Ghosts

How about you? What are your deal-breaker topics?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic, ten most intimidating books.

1. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami- I have this book on my shelf, but it’s so huge. I feel like I’ll be reading it for months.

2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King- Same as above.

2. Paradise Lost by John Milton – I loved the sections I read of this in an English class…but I’m scared that was just a fluke. I’ve built this book up to such lofty expectations.

3. The Idiot by Fyodor Doestoevsky – I’ve read this book twice and loved it. I want to read it again, but worry the joy of it will be somehow tarnished.

4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- I read this book in 3 magical days. Worried I won’t regain the magic.

5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese- So many people have read and recommended this book, I feel like it can’t possibly live up to the hype.

6. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini- One of my roommates read this a few years ago. She cried for like an hour. I don’t know if I can deal.

7. Seeing by Jose Faramago- I read Blindness a few years ago and while it was good, it was very, very intense. I want to read the sequel, but I also don’t.

8.  The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender- Bender is such an amazing author, every time I read her, I was just sort of want to give up writing.

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer- Everyone loves this book, but it includes 9/11 as a theme and I just don’t know…

10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett- Everyone loves this. I own it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. But what if I don’t?