Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Wildwood Dancing

What would happen if a well-known fairytale were given an unexpected twist? That's exactly what happens in this amazing book, which is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and is suprisingly set in...Transylvania. There's something here for everyone, but the plot remains cohesive and intriguing. There's a Beauty and the Beast element, vampires (known in this story as the Night People), and the interesting setting of the Carpathian Mountains. Jena is a strong heroine, likeable, well-imagined, and easy to relate to. She is surrounded by equally strong characters: her sisters, Tatiana, Iulia, Paula, and Stela; Gogu, her best friend; and Cezar, her disagreeable cousin, who makes a very satisfying antagonist. (Don't be daunted by the unusual names-- there's a pronounciation guide in the back of the book.) Jena and her sisters have been making regular monthly trips to the Other Kingdom by way of a secret portal, where they dance until dawn. When the Night People come to visit the Other Kingdom, Jena fears for her sister Tatiana, who seems to have fallen in love with one of them, the handsome Sorrow. Jena knows that a relationship with one of the Night People is not possible, and attempts to persuade her sister otherwise. With wise advice from her friend Gogu, Jena will have to learn the meaning of true love, and how love can come in many forms. The rich descriptions of the Other Kingdom are breathtaking and spellbinding, and overall the tale is excellent. I had to read it again immediately after finishing it, it was so good! I am rarely able to give a book this rating, but this one has earned it. 5 out of 5 stars! [400 pages.]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

I was first introduced to Hercule Poirot by my father, who got me hooked on the TV series with David Suchet at an early age. The distinguished detective has always been among my favorite mystery characters. Agatha Christie is widely considered the best of mystery writers, and Murder on the Orient Express is an unusual yet satisfying example of her craft. Christie's work can never be called formulaic, however, should such a formula exist, this book would be the exception. A murder in the night aboard the Orient Express train leads Hercule Poirot through an apparently nonsensical set of clues-- every piece of evidence Poirot finds only makes the case more difficult to solve, rather than less so. Only Hercule Poirot can solve such a baffling and intriguing case-- or is this one too much even for him? Murder on the Orient Express is an exciting, satisfying page-turner with a suprise ending. Four out of five stars, and definitely worth reading!