Vicky N. (vnorthw) - Reviews

1 to 10 of 10
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 483
Review Date: 10/3/2011
Helpful Score: 1


I read Angels & Demons after reading The DaVinci Code, and that definitely influenced by reaction to the book.

I love a page-turning mystery thriller, which is exactly what Angels & Demons is. But after The DaVinci Code, it just seemed formulaic. Take more-or-less the same characters, give them different names and professions, thrown in a different conspiracy theory history and you've got a new novel.


Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, Bk 2) (Unabridged Audio CD)
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, Bk 2) (Unabridged Audio CD)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 11/1/2011


Note: Comments on the audiobook narrated by Davina Porter are at the end of this review.

I wasn't as impressed with Dragonfly in Amber as I was with Outlander. Though I enjoyed it, I did have a few issues with it.

The political intrigue was too much. It was well researched, I appreciate Gabaldon's ability to put her characters into a more-or-less historically accurate conflict and I did enjoy the overarching story, but the time in France dragged. Once the story moved on into Scotland, it picked up quite a bit and I didn't want to put it down, but until then I wasn't driven to be reading it all the time.

The viewpoints changed quite a bit during the story, which was both distracting and disorienting. In 1968 we have Claire's first-person narration and a third-person narration centered on Roger that allows us to get inside his head a bit and get a perspective of Claire outside of her head. In the 1700s it is primary Claire's first-person narration with some odd third-person narrations. Including a third-person narration in which 'he [Jamie] is thinking about his wife [Claire],' a scene where I had to rewind to see who he and his wife were.

I'll definitely continue with the series, I hear Voyager is better than Dragonfly in Amber, so we'll see. :)


AudioBook Review
Another excellent performance by Davina Porter. She has great talent for accents and voices, which bring each character alive. The only oddity was her Brianna's American accent.

The only problem with this audiobook was in the shifting perspectives; it was difficult at times to grasp who was speaking or who's point of view the story was in.


For One More Day
For One More Day
Author: Mitch Albom
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 721
Review Date: 9/25/2011


I wasn't really impressed by this book. It was a quick read, and it kept me turning pages but I didn't really feel inspired by it. It was pretty obvious what was happening and the characters seemed rather one-dimensional to me.

My favorite parts of the novel were the "Time My Mother Stood Up For Me"/"Times I Didn't Stand Up for My Mother" sections interspersed through the story. There were several humorous stories contained in these, and it was during those points I felt I could most see who the characters were.


How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Author: Joanna Yarrow
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 11/1/2011


Thanks to this book, I will one day purchase a Bokashi Bucket. It's an indoor composting system and it is AWESOME. Google it, read about it, love it - It will change your life.

Actually it probably won't, but it is very neat. I will also have a system to collect rainwater for my toilets, ingenious!

I picked up a few other good tips and the book was filled with some interesting information about what cities around the world are doing and have done to 'go green.'

I already do quite a bit to reduce my carbon footprint - I keep electronics off for the most part, turn off lights when I leave the room, recycle and compost. So a lot of the information I already knew. But I can definitely see this book as a good jumping off point for someone who has no idea where to start to reduce their carbon footprint.

The one major complaint I had about the book was the formatting. Most of the pages had two columns - the main text on the left, and side notes on the right. In some places both columns would wrap around to the next page making it cumbersome to read. There were also some darkly colored pages with black writing that were a little difficult to read.

All in all a good guide for someone wanting some quick tips on how to reduce their carbon footprint.


Leonardo's Shadow: Or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci's Servant
Review Date: 11/1/2011


In 1490, young Giacomo is a thief running through the market of Milan. Fevered and weary, he finds his way to the top of the Milan Cathedral, only to fall from the roof. Days later he awakes in the home of the great Leonardo da Vinci. With no where else to go, and no memory of where he came from, he agrees to work as daVinci's servant.

In 1497, daVinci has been working on The Last Supper for two years, with little headway made. Without producing results, he is not being paid by the Duke, and his debts with nearby merchants are rising.

Giacomo is a witty and fun narrator, he reminded me somewhat of a sports caster in the way he narrated, giving a play-by-play of the action but stopping to add in his thoughts on the matter. I can definitely commend the author on the uniqueness of the narrator's voice.

A truthful representation of 15th Century Milan, Leonardo's Shadow weaves fact with fiction in an adventure about finding inspiration and family in places you never would have expected.


Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter
Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter
Author: Alice Kuipers
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 68
Review Date: 11/1/2011


I found Life on the Refrigerator Door in the super-discount bin at Barnes&Noble, thought it was an interesting concept and picked it up.

It wasn't a fantastic book and only took me about 40 minutes to read, but it certainly had a strong message.

This epistolary work is written in the form of notes between a mother and daughter left on the refrigerator as they just miss each other going through the motions of their busy lives.

When I first read the book, I felt both mother and daughter were selfish and over-dramatic. However, the more I reflect on the novel, the more real the characters have become. Faced with a dire situation at home, they both have very believable reactions to the crisis.

I am, however, still angry at the characters for not sitting down to talk about the problems they were facing. But I suppose that's the message - to not wait until it's too late to spend time with the ones you love.


Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1772
Review Date: 11/1/2011


"Maybe there is a beast....maybe it's only us."

Lord of the Flies is a tragic exploration of unrestrained human nature and the "beast" inside. The novel uses a group of school boys as an allegorical representation of human society. Stranded on a deserted island, the boys begin as a civilized society and the lure of power and dominance gradually leads them to savagery.

The characterization was brilliant, each character representing a place on the spectrum on human nature -- from the civilized member of society to the savage, unrestrained side of human nature.

I found the book a little slow, I was about 60% of the way through the book before it really picked up for me. Some of the dialogue was difficult to follow, even in a two-person conversation as the speaker wasn't always specified.

I didn't read Lord of the Flies in school, and I'm glad I didn't. I'm not sure I would have understood it. Even now, I think there are lots of symbolic messages in the first half of the book that I failed to pick up on. It's definitely a book that I'll be re-reading to get the full effect.


Scarlet Moon (Once Upon a Time)
Scarlet Moon (Once Upon a Time)
Author: Debbie Viguie
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 9/25/2011


This was my second read in the Once Upon a Time series, my first being The Diamond Secret: A Retelling of "Anastasia", and I wasn't particularly impressed by this one.

Scarlet Moon's premise was promising - a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with werewolves, a bit of magic and a heroine that grows up as a female blacksmith against the grain (set during the Crusades, blacksmithing isn't a woman's job).

Unfortunately, it failed for me in execution. I predicted most of the major plot surprises, and I didn't feel overly connected to the characters.

But, the love story was what really disappointed me. Fairy tales are about that sweep you off your feet type of romance, and it was lacking in Scarlet Moon. I get that it's a retelling and there's a certain amount of creative freedom to be given to the author, but the love story read more like the foreplay of a romance novel than a fairy tale.

I wasn't particular drawn to William as the Prince Charming of the book, I suspect it was intentional due to the werewolf thing, but c'mon... even The Beast becomes cuddly & lovable!


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, Bk 1)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, Bk 1)
Author: Alan Bradley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 237
Review Date: 11/1/2011


I read Sweetness as a group read, it definitely isn't a book that I would pick up on my own accord.

Flavia is an 11 year old chemist and poison master who becomes an amateur sleuth when a dead bird with a stamp skewered on it's beak shows up on their doorstep. I can't decide how much I believe her, 11 seems young to be an expert chemist and to be cycling back and forth between the estate she lives on and the nearby village(s). I have seen 11-year old geniuses on Jeopardy's Kids week and I suppose the villages of 1950s England would have been safer than the streets today (not with a murderer on the loose, though!), but I think giving her a year or two would have made her just a bit more plausible.

I did enjoy her narration, however. She was quirky, energetic, and very amusing. She somewhat reminded me of Dr. House (from the TV show) in the way that a seemingly unrelated something would give her the idea that would solve the mystery.

When it comes to mysteries (which I don't read often) I much prefer the high-paced mystery/thriller. Sweetness was definitely not high-paced, the clues were spread out between slower-paced scenes. I think there was a bit of unnecessary stuffing and the book could have been shortened just a tad to help with the pacing.

All in all, a fun young character and a decent read, but nothing overly special


The Viking's Heart (Harlequin Historical, 515)
The Viking's Heart (Harlequin Historical, 515)
Author: Jacqueline Navin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 9/25/2011


Picked this book off my shelf to fulfill a reading challenge. It kept me entertained for a few hours, but was mostly predictable and there wasn't anything super special about it.


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