Monday, June 25, 2007


By: Daphne Du Maurier

(This is my original review from June 25, 2007.
To view comments that may have been generated by the original review
click on the link above  to take you to the original review or click here
to go directly to the review on my goodreads page


When a young woman marries an older, widowed, gentleman from the upper class, her problems begin as she attempts to fill the shoes of her husband’s first wife, Rebecca. 

My Review

I really struggled with what rating to give this book. I was quickly drawn into the story and wondered how the plot would unfold however I was sincerely bothered by the main characters lack of…character! That is why this book receives three stars; the story was great but then the main character had a serious problem. I was stuck wondering if people like this really existed OR if perhaps, I was actually like her but was too “into myself” to realize I had such obvious character flaws. Perhaps a book that initiates that kind of self-reflection and thought deserves a higher rating…I’m not sure.

I spent the book trying to rewrite the main character and vow never to be like her. So how would you rate such a book? I chose middle of the road because it was partly a 5 star and in others it was only 1. I chose to average them but even now I wonder if I’ve done the book an injustice by only giving it three stars. I read this book as a book club assignment and I think I was the only one who was as deeply bothered by the main character, so perhaps this is one you’ll just have to read yourself in order to draw your own conclusions. Rest assured, if do you choose to read the book, I don’t think you’ll walk away thinking you wasted “x” amount of time reading it and should have done something else. I give Rebecca *3-stars.

*Indicates that the book was rated before February 2008 when I implemented the use of my book rating calculator.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Thomas Jefferson Education-Review

A Thomas Jefferson Education:
Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century
Olliver Van DeMille

(This is my original review from April 11, 2007.
To view comments that may have been generated by the original review
click on the link above to take you to the original review or click here
to go directly to the review on my goodreads page

Have you ever found yourself wondering if the public school system is really the best option for your little Einstein(s)?

This topic frequents my thoughts often. Once I feel fairly certain that public schools are not for my children, I’m faced with the bleak alternatives. Private schools or Tutors, which I can’t imagine ever being able to finance and home schooling, which, well…lets he honest here, is it really an alternative? Who has the time, the patience & the know-how?

After wandering for the past couple years between these systems trying to find justification in one or the other, I stumbled across “A Thomas Jefferson Education” This book finally geared me to start asking the right questions and talking to the right people that could really help me decide how to best educate my children.

A Thomas Jefferson Education is a method of learning based on a classic/mentor model. It teaches parents or mentors how to educate using classic works in all subjects; math, language, arts, English, you name it. What I loved about this model is that the student is learning by their own will, not someone else telling them they have to. The student quickly learns that their education is their own investment, not the government’s, not their society’s, not their parent’s. The student learns because they are motivated by a great mentor to do so.

DeMille begins by raising a few concerns about the public school system. One, is the emphasis on “social” learning, which seems to be taking priority in public schools. (If you are not convinced that this is an issue, find out how many weeks if not months, your local public school spends prepping students to take and pass a national assessment test. Then ask why, if you think it’s for class placement and advancement, think again. Ask your school what it’s test scores are and then ask them what they are going to do about it? Go-a-head, ask. Once you start digging your discovery may surprise you.)

Next, in contrast to what they are learning DeMille is quite concerned with what our students are not learning. Our children are being taught to pass a test and move to the next step but they are not taught how to think and that is a scary thought when applied to the future of our Nation. Who will our children look to for the answers when they hold the highest leadership positions in business and government? They must learn to think and ask questions. A Thomas Jefferson Education teaches a student just how to do this.

This book doesn’t read like a novel so it’s not really a “page turner”. It’s a short reference guide that introduces educators to the faults in the current education systems available and teaches the reader how to implement a better system to bring up the next generation of leaders in America. I borrowed the book from a friend and then once I finished it bought my own copy because it is something I’ll want to go back to again and again. I give this book *4 & ½ stars because as stated above it’s not a page turner however I think everyone should read it so that we can begin to fix the currently broken national education system. 

*Indicates that the book was rated before February 2008 when I implemented the use of my book rating calculator.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Once & Future King-Review

The Once and Future King
By T.H. White

(This is my original review from January 28, 2007.
To view comments that may have been generated by the original review
click on the link above to take you to the original review or click here
to go directly to the review on my goodreads page

What are the chances the first two books I choose to read [and review] are one of the worst (the Brothers) and one of the best (The Once and Future King). It’s great because now I have a good scale to compare the other books I read.

This book came recommended by a friend of mine. She thought I would like the explanation the author gives as to how Guinevere could “cheat” on King Arthur with his First In Command and best friend, Lancelot. Although the portion of the book that covers how the two fell in love was actually quite short, it was to the point and very well explained. My friend was right; I loved it.

The book is all about the rise and fall of the legendary, King Arthur. The book is actually written in four separate books, The Sword in the Stone, The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight, and The Candle in the Wind.

Synopsis & Review

The Sword in the Stone is all about Wart, (King Arthur) and his upbringing by foster parent, Sir Ector and Tutor, Merlyn the Magician. It took me a while to get into this book since I felt I already knew how it ended. (Disney created their animation “the Sword and the Stone” based on this book. Disney of course used far less magical animal adventures and altered detail but ultimately it’s the same.) So in short it took me a while to get into it but once I did, I had a hard time putting the book down. This book was fun and whimsical and I loved how the Wart obtained his education by looking deeper into the world the surrounded him and learned to ask question that no one in his time had thought to ask.

The Queen of Air and Darkness, delves into Arthur’s pedigree and early kingship and sets up the conflict for the later books. (Those details I will keep out because I don’t want to spoil it.) The general theme to the conflict is one that I truly loved. It deals with how a person can resolve issues that arise due to others manipulation and poor choices. This book is when Arthur learns to think. T.H. White describes the people of that time as acting on impulse and emotion not on thought & rational. Arthur struggles through this book to think about how he can help his countrymen rise out of the age of darkness in which they live. He wants to implement a new and better life for all people and struggles on how he can achieve his end goal. It paints a picture of a young, moral man striving to depend on what he knows of the Lord and of men to create an ideal society. The idea of Camelot thus emerges. Those of you who have spent any time with me since the beginning of November (when I started reading this book) know how much I love this book because I talk about it all the time. The parallels that can be applied from the issues at hand for Arthur to our modern day turmoil were clear and enlightening. Often times if we could just step back and strip our problems of the baggage we attach, we may be able to find a very simple resolution.

The Ill-Made Knight is all about Lancelot and his struggle between pleasing God and pleasing men. Lancelot is not the devilishly handsome knight he is made out to be in most Hollywood renditions and is written with humility and kindness. He grasps hold of Arthur’s plan to create Camelot as a young child and makes it his life purpose to help Arthur obtain his goal. Lancelot’s tragic flaw is that his views of life and purpose are fanaticized and idealized and so he is constantly falling short of his dreams. I absolutely loved the end theme of this book and the idea that the atonement works for all men, so long as their desire is pure. Forgiveness can be given to all men.

The Candle in the Wind is the last book in this compilation. After Lancelot’s greatest desire was granted to him by God in the previous book he now struggles to maintain his level of spirituality while holding onto his worldly desires. More important than Lancelot’s problems, however, are King Arthur’s. The perfect society he has created has it’s flaws and he must now chose between saving his kingdom by maintaining order and law or save those closest to him by sacrificing the system he spent a lifetime to build.

The last chapters of this book were phenomenal. Arthur’s desire to do the right thing constantly pushes him to act and to do and in the end he is beside himself because he cannot   “think” a way out of his predicament. It reminded me of my own life and when I struggle with something. I wrestle with it and wrestle with it. I continue to receive a stupor of thought and I search and search for the right thing to do. And then just as I’m about to give up the quiet peace of the spirit enters into my heart and I know that although I may not be able to find a solution, I have done all that I can do and the Lord is pleased with my efforts and the sacrifice I have brought to the alter. 


I really loved this book. I loved the themes, I loved the characters and I loved how it pushed me to think about my actions and how I can make the world I live in a better place. I do not think this book is for everyone though. If you are not interested in Arthurian Legend I think getting through this book would be extremely difficult. Also you have to be willing to look for the themes, the author does not hand feed them. I do not consider myself to be a fantasy genre lover (Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings Series are the only fantasy I’ve previously read) however I was able to put that qualifier behind me and really love this book. I give it *5-stars (my highest rating)

 *Indicates that the book was rated before February 2008 when I implemented the use of my book-rating calculator.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Brothers-Review

The Brothers
(The Great and the Terrible, Volume 1)
By: Chris Stewart

(This is my original review from January 15, 2007.
To view comments that may have been generated by the original review
click on the link above to take you to the original review or click here
to go directly to the review on my goodreads page

This book came highly recommend by a great friend so I decided to bump it up on my reading list and tackle it and it’s sequel over the Christmas break. Once I start a book, I finish it, yet I’m still astonished that I made it to the end of this book. There were several times I told myself I was through but for whatever reason I kept picking it up.

The book is written to illustrate the war in heaven, and it’s sequel to illustrate how that war continues to wage here on earth. It’s sounds interesting enough but really it isn’t. I felt like the author must have been suffering from Alzheimer’s because every time a character made an appearance (whether he’d introduced them already or not) he  would reintroduce them and drip over mundane details. Basically the story wasn’t thick enough to fill the 224 pages so he repeated detail that had no bearing on the story, and he did this over & over. Some people call it character development….I say a 145 pages of character development is too much.

The last 79 pages were ok and raised a few thought provoking questions but none profound enough to remember and share with you here. I could be dense; I’ll admit that, it’s possible that I just didn’t “get it”. I just never came to understand what the huge temptation was to side with Satan. It seemed to me that anyone who fell pray to Satan’s plan was just incapable of any thought whatsoever because if just one neuron fired in your brain you would know that there really was no question as to which plan was better.

So that’s my take. Again, I’ll admit I could have just been bored by the mundane detail, and could have just missed the point. Perhaps this book really is terrific but I doubt it. If you think otherwise, you will have to put together a strong case to convince me otherwise.  I did not read the sequel, and I probably will not ever read a book by this author again. I also will NOT recommend this book to anyone.

This book has inspired me to move C.S. Lewis’s “Screwtape Letters” up on my must read list. I found it interesting that the Screwtape Letters also has 224 pages. Hopefully it is more insightful than this.

I give this book *½ a star-My lowest rating. (like I said, it made me think of something at one point, but I just don’t remember what it was….oh Yeah!!!…Oh….nope that wasn’t it)

*Indicates that the book was rated before February 2008 when I implemented the use of my book-rating calculator.