Amy - Reviews

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America's Most Hated Woman: The Life And Gruesome Death Of Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Review Date: 8/6/2009


**Possible spoilers!**

I added this book to my list on a whim. When Madalyn went missing in 1995, I was in the third grade. When her killers were convicted in 1999/2000, I was in middle school. I remembered nothing about this woman, except the fact that she was a self-proclaimed atheist.

This book sails through Madalyn's life from before the time she was born and her mother Lena tried to abort her to when she is in her 70s with diabetes and walking with a cane. It was shocking to find out just how crazy and nutty this woman's life was; from the inner-workings of her lawsuits against various school boards, states and the government to her daily life working for the "Cause" and her strange relationship with her son, Garth, and granddaughter, Robin.

This woman was beyond what I would call eccentric, she was down right loony. I could barely keep up with what all she had going on and I found myself gasping for breath when I was reading through her laundry list of daily activities, let alone how many lawsuits she had going on at one time.

I also was astounded at the amount of money Madalyn stole from her followers, buying herself, Garth and Robin many luxuries such as cars and Rolex watches. Yet people still gave copious amounts of money to her under the guise of the "Cause" and she didn't have a real day of "work" in her life, unless you can call work putting out Atheist newsletters and badgering local government about religious trivialities (such as swearing on the Bible before taking the stand as a witness or serving on jury).

The last part of the book became terribly mysterious, drawing out the details of Madalyn's disappearance and subsequent murder. Throughout the book, there were chapter inserts that centered on the life of David Waters (who was convicted of kidnapping and killing the O'Hairs) and what led up to his streak of criminal activities.

The last two chapters finally spilled the details (or at least what Waters confessed) concerning the kidnapping and killing of Madalyn, Garth and Robin.

Without saying too much more, I am glad that I read this book but it did leave me feeling uneasy (as most true crime novels do). Still, this book wasn't a "true" true crime novel, as it didn't focus completely on the crime. The first 2/3 of the book are about Madalyn and the last about what happened to her when she disappeared.

Overall 4/5 stars. Recommended reading.


Ancestors of Avalon (Avalon, Bk 5)
Ancestors of Avalon (Avalon, Bk 5)
Author: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Diana L. Paxson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 80
Review Date: 6/18/2009


A thoroughly enjoyable tale of how the survivors of Atlantis may have created the pagan goddess religion of early Britain.

Unfortunately, I think the story centered too much on the relationship between Tiriki and Micail. I kept waiting to see how the roles of Damisa and Elara would play out, but nothing happened.

In any case, I am looking forward to reading the prequel to this novel, which is titled the Fall of Atlantis and features Tiriki and Micail's mother, Deoris and Domaris.

Highly recommended.


Beyond Motherhood : Choosing a Life Without Children
Beyond Motherhood : Choosing a Life Without Children
Author: Safer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 1/22/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Although this book is a bit dated, I still found it to be relevant.

Safer is a psychologist, so she thoroughly inspects the reason behind why women choose childlessness.

I felt that this book had a very forgiving tone and wasn't quick to judge women who become mothers, as a lot of these types of books can do.

Safer recognizes that choosing to not have children is something that women can miss out on, while still having fulfilling lives. She doesn't make it sound like a life without children is better than with, only different.

I truly appreciated that approach, as I am still on the cusp of choosing whether or not I want children and I do not want to see motherhood completely denigrated.

Recommended reading for women trying to decide on motherhood for themselves.


The Call of Earth (Homecoming, Bk 2)
The Call of Earth (Homecoming, Bk 2)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 110
Review Date: 9/2/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I love how Card can weave the intricate web of a story.

This is exactly what he does in book two of the Homecoming series.

Before you even have made it halfway through this story, you know without a doubt that all of these characters are connected; not only because they're in the same city, but because the Oversoul has brought them together.

I think this book comes in at a close second (in terms of overall quality) to the first in the series, in my opinion.

In this book, you begin to hear a different side to all of the main characters in this story, mainly all of the women (Rasa, Hushiduh, Luet, Kokor, Sevet and Shedemei). Sadly, Eiadh is left out and you're only re-introduced to her once she **spoiler alert** marries Elemak.

You also become familiar more so with Nafai and his relationship with his oldest brother, Elemak. You begin to hear a lot more of Elemak's thoughts and you become more aquainted with the anger he holds in his heart for Nafai.

If you want to read a book that touches not only on the basic morality of humanity, but also applies itself to a lot of the social issues we have today, go ahead and read this book. It was very good.


Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill
Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill
Author: Susan Holloway Scott
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 78
Review Date: 4/27/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Trite, redundant and boring. This is probably one of the worst books I have ever read.

Scott repeats herself continually throughout the novel, as if her reader would not remember what happened just three chapters before.

Sarah Churchill is shown as headstrong and independent juxtaposed against whiny and jealous behavior. Not a likeable (even if real) character at all. She needed to be one or the other, not both.

Churchill's lesbian relationship with Princess Anne is not believable and something I think Scott just put into the mix to maybe keep the reader's attention.

Unfortunately, my mind is not any better for reading this book.

Overall, I would not reccommend this book all. 1/2 star out of 5. It's that bad.


Earthborn (Homecoming Saga #5)
Earthborn (Homecoming Saga #5)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 74
Review Date: 9/4/2008
Helpful Score: 1


Out of all the books in the Homecoming series, this one had the most prevalent religious overtones in it. Because of this, I found it hard to get into the story. It was also hard to understand the context in which this book was presented, as what your reading takes place after humans from Harmony have returned to Earth and even after they've re-populated. You have numerous new characters to become acquainted with and it takes some getting used to remember their names and relationships with each other.

Going back to the religious overtones, you really can't miss them. It felt like Card was trying way too hard to bring his message about God across to you and pretty blatantly, I might add.

I also feel cheated in reading the supposed last volume in this series. While the book was a fantastic story, it does not answer any of my questions and does conclude the series for me.

What about the angels, diggers and humans? What's the point of them and their assumed symbiotic relationship? You never really find out, except for the answer that, "it's what the Keeper wants."

I had high hopes for this last book, but it fell short. A good book, in and of itself, but not the book that should have ended the series.


Eve: A Novel of the First Woman
Eve: A Novel of the First Woman
Author: Elissa Elliott
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 9/1/2009
Helpful Score: 4


I was taken aback when I began reading this book, as I was under the impression that the story would be told from Eve's perspective.

The book is separated into chapters that follow the viewpoints of Eve and her daughters, but never Adam or her sons (Cain, Abel and her youngest son, twin of Dara).

Eve, Naava, Aya and Dara all have their own chapters and tell the story of their family's beginnings in their own words.

Each of Eve's daughters is a creation of the author and not bibilically factual, but it's hard to imagine that Eve wouldn't have had daughters, even if their stories are not accounted for in the Bible as we know it.

This book is magical and I'm very glad I read it. The author has detailed notes at the back of the book that give her reasoning for taking the literary liscense that she did and they all make sense.

Great read and highly recommended.


The Fall of the Towers
The Fall of the Towers
Author: Samuel R. Delany
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/8/2009


The Fall of the Towers is a magnificent piece of prose that captivates the reader.

Written in three parts, this story takes on the possible outcome Earth's future by atomic destruction. What is left after the "Great Fire," as it is called, is a small empire called Toromon that has survived several centuries, but has now hit a critical moment in its history.

A cosmic being has entered the atmosphere and is toying with the citizens of the empire, creating havoc, mayhem and corruption. It is up to three individuals, controlled by another benevolent cosmic entity, to determine the fate of Toromon, as well as the universe itself.

Delany's style of writing is like reading poetry: hard to understand at first glance, but illuminating with the second or third read. Let's just say that I would not put this in the category for light reading, by any means.

I very much enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to others.


Hand of Isis (Numinous World, Bk 2)
Hand of Isis (Numinous World, Bk 2)
Author: Jo Graham
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 4/10/2012


** spoiler alert **

As I was reading this, I found tiny flaws:

Asetnefer, Iras's mother and Charmian's mother by default, was forgotten easily in the beginning of the novel. But, she wasn't central to the plot so I guess it was easy for both the characters and myself to forget her.

In Bubastis, Charmian befriends a cat named Sheba who is also easily forgotten.

I guess what I'm trying to say is if you're going to introduce us to characters in the novel (human or not) don't just stop talking about them. At least give them the decency of an exit.

That said, I fell in love with this novel towards the end. Of course, I knew how it was going to end, but that didn't stop me from feeling emotionally drained when I set the book down.

Cleopatra's death, along with Iras's and Charmian's is heart-wrenching yet bittersweet.

When Charmian is reunited with Emry's and Caesarion in Amenti, I literally cried.

And I cried again when Isis asked Charmian if she wanted to go back to help Selene, Philadelphos, and the other child (can't remember his name at the moment).

And I cried once more when Isis told Charmian that Iras had already gone to the children.

All in all, I really adore this book despite those two tiny flaws and its characters will stay with me for a long time. I'm already half way through Black Ships, prequel to this novel.

Definitely recommended.


Johnny Got His Gun
Johnny Got His Gun
Author: Dalton Trumbo
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 76
Review Date: 9/7/2010


Haunting. Terrifying.

You want a good horror novel? Read this little gem. I promise you'll have nightmares.


Kushiel's Avatar (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 3)
Kushiel's Avatar (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 3)
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 245
Review Date: 6/8/2009
Helpful Score: 1


What can I say about this book and the entire series?

Well, I laughed, I cried, I gasped. This book and the entire series is truly amazing.

Set in an alternate reality, the story of Kushiel's Legacy is mesmerizing and enchanting and thoroughly engages the reader. A truly magical story.

That said, the story is somewhat typical .. but who cares?! I don't. :) The entire Kushiel series should not be missed by any fantasy lover.


The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, Bk 3)
The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, Bk 3)
Author: Mary Stewart
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 41
Review Date: 3/11/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Mary Stewart does a magnificent job in rendering Merlin the Enchanter into a believable person who not only has faults like every other human, but also has the same needs. In this series, we come to know the legend who was not all smoke and mirrors as others would have you believe, but real man who loves his kinsman and his country and does what he thinks is best by them.

Because this is the third book in a four-book series, it is hard to follow at times. Stewart does a decent job in bringing the events that have happened in the previous installments to light this one and making them seem relevant. But some readers will be left in the dark, especially if they are not familiar with Arthurian legend.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Stewart has a way with detail that doesn't make her writing feel bogged down, but makes it come to life.

This is a definite read if you are interested in Arthurian lore.


Memoirs of a Geisha
Memoirs of a Geisha
Author: Arthur Golden
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 2666
Review Date: 7/5/2010


While I enjoyed the meat of this book, even with the controversy surrounding it, the ending of this book was truly uninspired. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it but I will say that you will be thoroughly disappointed when you set the book down.


On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance
Review Date: 5/12/2009


What a great guide for all women! A must-read if you're looking to take control of your finances.

Highly recommended.


Passage
Passage
Author: Connie Willis
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 32
Review Date: 11/30/2009


It felt like it took me ages to finish this book, even though it took just the weekend.

Like other readers, I could have done without the endless descriptions of the hospital. I also think that the rambling of Joanna's inner thoughts and dialogue could have been cleaned up a bit.

I hate to say it about Connie Willis, since I love her other novels so much, but this book was a real bore. The only parts that were interesting were the descriptions of NDEs.

I especially found the last part of the book to be a real drag. I kepy saying to myself, "Get to the point, Connie!"

I wish this was a short story, rather than a novel. It probably would have made more sense to keep it short and sweet and yet still creepy.

Overall, I would not recommend this book as it is now. A condensed version? Yes, please!


Return to Avalon
Return to Avalon
Author: Jennifer Roberson (Editor)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 5/18/2010


An impressive collection of stories, although not all are related to Avalon or even Arthurian legend/lore.

But it seems as if, even with the title of this anthology, that we are not be "returned" to Avalon seeing as this is more of a tribute to Marion Zimmer Bradley and her portrayal of the Arthurian legend and the pagan goddess religion of early Britain.

Throughout this anthology, there are chapters dedicated to Marion herself, each titled "Appreciation."

It was a delight reading these, as it gave the reader a glimpse into the life of fantasy writers like Charles de Lint and Diana Paxson.

All in all, a great read and highly recommended.


Sarah (Women of Genesis, Bk 1)
Sarah (Women of Genesis, Bk 1)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 130
Review Date: 12/11/2008
Helpful Score: 9


I very much enjoyed Card's hearty tale of Sarah.

Card is able to weave Biblical legend into a very believable story about possibly the two most important people in Judeo-Christian history.

Card does not alter scripture, rather, he does his best to fill in the gaps that we have always been left to wonder about and it's not only an engaging read, it feels authentic, as well.

My only two complaints:
1) Card repeatedly talks about the men of Sodom. It is laughable how much he alludes to what these men allegedly did, without actually bringing it up plainly. It's as if he wants to talk about it so very badly, but just cannot bring himself to do it. I smiled many times when the "men of Sodom" were mentioned.

2) This book was not long enough! I wanted more and didn't get it.

Still, this was a great read, and shouldn't be missed, no matter what your religion.


Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Author: Jane Austen, Ben H. Winters
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 68
Review Date: 5/25/2010
Helpful Score: 4


I'm surprised at the reviews, seeing as I thought this a much more witty and involved storyline than P&P&Z.

It's hard to write a review without comparing this book to its counterpart. Overall, this storyline was more what I was looking for (a total re-imagination of Sense & Sensibility, this time with sea monsters) rather than simply a few changes to the text (making Elizabeth and her sisters into ninjas).

In this book, Sense and Sensibility is transformed into another world (an under-water world, at that) and is re-shaped into something closer to the fantasy tale a lot of people are looking for when first researching this new genre.

While I do not think that this is some masterpiece to be put on a pedestal, I have to say I rather enjoyed it and think that most fans of Jane Austen and fantasy with feel the same.


The Ships of Earth (Homecoming, Bk 3)
The Ships of Earth (Homecoming, Bk 3)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 85
Review Date: 9/2/2008
Helpful Score: 1


Out of all of the books of the Homecoming series, this was my least favorite.

Card sweeps through the story far too quickly for my taste, not really developing any of the characters or their relationships with each other. The reader is left to determine how the roles of the "not so important" characters (Kokor, Sevet, Eiadh, Vas and Obring, as well as their children) play out while the group is in the desert.

I would have loved for there to be more character development and stories of different problems/issues that the small tribe may have went through, instead of glazed over paragraphs in which a five year span may occur.

It seems that this book was mainly to get the group from their starting point to the beginning of the next story; it was just very rushed.

I still like the book very much and without it, the Homecoming saga wouldnot be complete.

All in all, a interesting read and a part of a series that's well worth getting yourself into.


To Say Nothing of the Dog
To Say Nothing of the Dog
Author: Connie Willis
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 195
Review Date: 11/30/2008
Helpful Score: 2


This book was witty and heartfelt and I loved it!

A simple (yet complex) story about time travel and the "incongruities" that can be caused by someone who means well.

In To Say Nothing of the Dog, you are immediately thrown into the story of Ned Henry, a time-traveling historian in the year 2057, who is looking for a specific artifact from the past. What follows is a intricate tale involving many unique and interesting characters, to say nothing of the dog. =)

This is the second book I've read by Connie Willis and I have to say, she is becoming one of my favorite authors.

A must-read!


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