Reading Roundup – 10th January 2014

January 10, 2014

Good morning, and welcome to another reading roundup.  Here are a few of the books I’ve read over the holiday season.

I was recently given a copy of The Re-Awakening by the author free of charge to review.  This is the second book in Vance’s Second Coming series and continues the story of Lazarus Christos, the reborn Christ who has come to battle evil in the end of days.  Like its predecessor, The Return (see my review) it is a mystery thriller in the vein of say Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

Being the second in a series, The Re-Awakening is more setup and less action packed than the first book.  One of the characters described the conflict as a chess match – this book is where the players are putting their pieces into place and are preparing for the final battle.  That is an excellent analysis of the book.  I continued to find the characters and concept interesting and will probably read the next book to see what happens next.

I gave The Re-Awakening three and a half stars out of five

Hobbit LessonsHobbit Lessons: A Map for Life’s Unexpected Journeys by Devin Brown
Genres: General Literature
Format: ARC 
Pages: 356 pages
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In many ways, Tolkien’s Hobbit is a modern day fairytale.  The thing about fairytales, of course, is that they are moral codes/life lessons presented in a way to allow younger readers to understand them.  I’m talking of course about the non-Disney versions.  Little Red Riding Hood is a tale about being wary of strangers, Cinderella shows that a good and honest heart is more valuable than external beauty.  The Hobbit, too, contains such life lessons and is based on Professor Tolkien’s own predominantly Christian moral code.

Brown’s book is an exploration of these, which range from the value of friendship, the need to lessen dependence on material possessions and the positive aspects of getting out of a rut.  Most of these are apparent to a reader, but it is always interesting to see them highlighted and explained here.

I gave Hobbit Lessons three stars out of five.

 Mary Poppins, She Wrote by Valerie Lawson 
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Terry Donnelly
Length:  14 hrs and 12 mins 
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I’ll say straight off that my motivation for reading Mary Poppins, She Wrote was that it formed the basis for the wonderful movie Saving Mr Banks with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks who play P.L. Travers and Walt Disney respectively.  The movies features a strong script, a cast at the top of its game (Thompson is already receiving considerable awards buzz for her performance) as well as the excellent music of the Sherman brothers from the Julie Andrews movie.  Yes, I’m a closet musicals fan.  Deal with it.  

The movie only takes a small fraction of the book and focusses on the struggle between Travers and Disney to agree on how to adapt Mary Poppins for the screen and the rest of the time it focusses on Travers’ search for a father figure, her constant need to reinvent herself as well as her involvement in the Celtic Twilight.   My issue with the book isn’t the writing or the narration but the fact that, unlike the other biographies I’ve read (those of Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Steve Jobs) I would really not enjoy sitting down to a meal with Pamela Travers.  I simply found I had little interest or anything in common with the woman described in the book.

I gave Mary Poppins, She Wrote two stars out of five.

 Added to my library this week

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau.  This is the sequel to The Testing which I read last year and very much enjoyed.  It continues the story of Cia Vale and how her life changes since surviving The Testing.  I picked this up in both Kindle and Audible formats.  Sadly, Whispersync for Voice is not enabled for this title, which is a pity.  Expect a full review soon.

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