Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brightwater Athena


 

Brightwater Athena by Ellen Brady Finn
Media source: Paperback
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars.


After Athena's father passes away she learns she has inherited a nearly priceless piece of art, a statue.  She discovers a secret past to the item she now owns, and that there are others who claim the rights to owning this beautiful work of art.  Athena struggles with knowing who she should and should not trust, one of those being the man she has fallen in love with.  Athena is unexpectedly thrown into the theft of the heirloom and now must run for her life.  A journey that takes across the ocean to Greece.  There she gets some answers to questions she's been longing to discover.

This novel was very well written and the author obviously knew the subject material very well.  She created characters you as the reader didn't know if you could should like or dislike.  There was a dynamic between the characters which drove the story forward more so than the dialogue or descriptions.  It was a very well written novel, although some things did seem a little predictable. I enjoyed the amount of archeology that went into the story.  It showed the author knew what she was writing about.  The various artifacts and places she mentioned and described were done so well that I wanted to visit these places and see the items. 

It was a great book to read on a rainy afternoon.  The novel itself is a whirlwind of action even if you don't realize it at the time.  You as the reader are spirited away to one city after another.  You are unsure if you should trust this character or not, almost as if you are Athena herself.  It is those kinds of nothing that make reading enjoyable for me and make me want to read more from the author.  I definitely want to read more from Ellen Finn.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Never Ending Story


Never-Ending Story by Michael Ende,
Media source: paper back
Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Being a child of the 80's I fondly remember watching this movie as a child and loved the story of it.  To  the point that my cat is named Falcor (unfortunately he is not white, nor lucky).    **There is a lot of story in this small book**

We meet young Bastian as he is running from some bullies and hides out in a book store.  While there he notices a book, almost calling out to him.  The shopkeeper informs him the book is not for sale etc, so Bastian decides to steal the book and runs to school.  Arriving late, he decides to escape to the attic of the school (do schools really have attics?) and beings to read. Thus entering into the world of Fantasia.

Fantasia is being attacked by an evil formless entity known as "The Nothing". While a delegation goes the Childlike Empress for help against this invader, they are informed that she is dying.  A child warrior by the name of Atreyu has been summoned.  The Empress provides him the AURYN a medallion that will protect him from harm during his journey.   Through his journey he is aided by Falkor the luck dragon he rescues.  Atreyu soon learns the only way to save the Empress is a new name given to her by a human child.   As he and Falcro search the borders for such a child they come across Gmork, a werewolf that informs the warrior the residents of Fantasia have voluntarily accepted The Nothing and became lies within the human world: Bastian's world. 

Gmork attacks Atreyu, he fights back and kills the wolf.  Atreyu is rescued by Falkor and the go back to the Childlike Empress who informs them they have brought the one who can save her with them.  At this point Bastian suspects he is the one to save her.  But what kind of name should he give her?  He refuses to say the man and the Empress speaks of an Old Man with a book entitled The Never Ending Story.  As Bastian reads he realizes the story begins to repeat itself, but this time includes Bastian in the story.  Once he realizes the story will never end, and just repeat itself without his help, Bastian names the Empress "Moon Child".  The Empress then provides him with an AURYN with the inscription "Do What You Wish" on the back


With each wish that Bastian makes, he loses a part of his memory as a human and with it the ability to return to his own world.  Bastian does not realize this and goes throughout the country telling stories and having adventures.  He uses the AURYN to create situations for himself to conquer, but this only puts Fantasia into danger.  The residents of Fantasia beg him to stop and he decides to defeat the Childlike Empress! WHOA!  He is left with two memories, his mother and father.  He needs to discover his strongest wish.  He is unable to find the Water of LIfe in which would enable him to leave Fantasia with all his memories.  He is found by Atreyu who helps Bastian remember his own name and complete all the stories he began.  The Water of Life then allows Bastian to return home.

What an incredible story!  The book was made into two movies the first ending after Bastian names the princess and saves Fantasia, the second beginning with Bastian making the wishes and what not.  This story is well told and well love by generations whether they watched the movie or read the book.  Michael Ende just draws in his readers straight from the beginning and it seems as if you are in Bastian's place.  Oh only if I could be in Bastian's place and save all of Fantasia!  This is one of those books that will never grow old, that will never lose an audience.  Michael describes everything with such vivid images, that I am sure the creators of the movies had an easy time recreating the world he envisioned.  This is a story you can enjoy no matter what your age is.

As the novel shifts to Bastian being in Fantasia, we also see a shift in his personality.  He becomes somewhat of a jerk to Atreyu and the other residents of the world.  I mean he thinks about conquering the Childlike Empress, someone who is his friend.  It is interesting to see him become consumed with the power he holds even if he doesn't realize this.  How often do we become consumed with things that just don't even consider whether or not our actions hurt others including our friends?

This is a phenomenal story with so many different lessons to be take away from it.  If you haven't watched the movies or picked up the book do so.  It is one of those books/movies that are a must have (or get both like I did).  It is a perfect addition to any child's library, even if you are a child of thirty years old ;)



My Falkor
 

Monday, April 13, 2015

SEVEN - X


SEVEN - X:  written by Mike Wech;
media source: Kindle ebook.
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars.

This novel is not simply a tale of good verses evil, but rather the battle with one's own darkness.


Eddie Hanson is determined to find out the truth behind the disappearance of a death row prisoner: Annette Dodson.  The tip he receives takes him to a behavioral health institution located in the middle of no where, just outside of Dell City, Texas.  In order to get the story he wants, Eddie willingly commits himself to the center while he does video entries and writes journals to document his findings.  But what Eddie finds there is not what he expected.  Are the things he is experiencing true or an illusion (or rather delusion) created by those who run the facility?

Eddie begins to see and hear things that cannot be explain, although those running the center try to explain it as demons attacking and possessing those living there and trying to gain access to Eddie as well.  They believe they are "helping" people like Annette Dodson by commanding the demons out of their bodies.  They believe the criminals were possessed by these demons at the time of their crimes and have no recollection of the horrors they have committed.  Eddie is skeptical about this and begins to believe everyone there is being drugged, himself included.

**Disclaimer ** This novel will chill you to the core.  I have read numerous novels that have dealt with the occult and demonic possession, but never have I read a book like this one.  If you have an active imagination, do not read this at night before bed.

Mike Wech does an excellent job with this novel.  He has excellent use of various languages such as Latin, Hebrew and Greek.  Rather than generically having the demons speak completely in English, he has them speaking languages they would be more familiar with.  Having this element in the novel, this characteristic of the demons, adds to the chill factor of the novel.  Another aspect that makes this a superb novel is much of the Biblical references don't come from the pastor or other members of the facility staff and occupants, but rather the demons themselves.  Portraying that even demons and the fallen have knowledge and understanding of the Bible making it easier for them to deceive.  One thing that I personally enjoyed was the underlying theme of once a demon is exorcised, it returns with 7 of it's buddies. This continues until the host is left worse than ever.

Throughout we hear of Ose and references are made to a leopard, but there is the feeling that not enough was done with either one.  I would have liked to see more use out of Ose and his desire to capture Eddie's soul.  There didn't seem to be too much development with the demonic characters just a few references to their actions and possessions, but we don't see the true nature of their evil.  Ward E is still left a mystery, possibly to be explained in another novel?  I wanted to see more of the spiritual battle that was supposed to be happening between the demons and those at the center, the Pastor included.  He wasn't as much of a major character as I feel he should have been.

With all that being said, I cannot believe this is Mr. Wech's first novel.  It was fantastically well written and kept me on the edge of me seat.  I didn't want to put it down!  I look forward to reading more from this talented author.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Real books...

Do you set yourself goals for how many books you want to read throughout the year, month or even week?  If so, do others think it odd to set yourself this kind of a goal?

I have set myself a goal of reading 85 books this year which could be anything from a cookbook to one of the Game of Thrones novels.  Whenever I mention this to someone I get an odd look like it is something strange to set yourself this kind of a goal.  Or I will have someone tell me a particular book such as manga or a cookbook should not count towards this goal because they are "not real books."  What do you think on that?  Is there such a thing as a "real book?  What makes a book real and another book not real?

Is it a matter of personal preference, one's own opinion on whether or not something is a book?  I know some people wouldn't consider a comic book a book, but then would turn around and say a graphic novel is.  Where does one draw the line?