Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Over the past weekend, I finished three books. One is a children’s book, one a tween book and the last an adult non-fiction book.

The children’s book was Beyond the Valley of Thorns by Patrick Carman. This is the second book in the Land of Elyon series.

The tale begins nearly a year after the events of the first book. Alexa has returned to Bridewell, only to leave soon after on a quest given to her by the late Warvold. Along with some old friends and some new ones, Alexa travels across the land to the City of the Dogs, which lies beyond the Valley of Thorns. Here they must defeat the evil Victor Grindall and save two people once thought lost to the world. In doing so, they just might save all of humanity.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first tale. I started reading the third book in the series – The Tenth City, but returned it shortly after picking it up. I felt that the story was getting too preachy, with near blatant religious overtones that just annoyed me. How sad…the series was off to a wonderful start.

The tween book I read was The Letter Writer by Ann Rinaldi. I loved this book…until the ending, which I thought was kind of pat and bleh. Even though I don’t like the ending, I highly recommend this book.

Eleven-year-old Harriet lives on a plantation with her half-siblings and her father’s wife. Her brother rules with a stern hand, partially due to his religious beliefs (he is a Methodist minister), but she is accepted, and even loved, by Mother Whitehead.

Mother Whitehead is going blind, and cannot write all of the letters needed to run the plantation and to maintain their place in society, so Harriet is given the task. Harriet is also told to write to her Uncle Andrew in England, in order to practice her writing skills.

Several of the letters Mother Whitehead has Harriet writing are to the owner of a talented slave named Nat Turner. Mother Whitehead would like to borrow the slave to do some woodworking around the plantation.

This is how Harriet finds herself a witness to the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.

The last book I finished this past weekend was The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs. This is a non-fiction book written for adults. Jacobs has decided to read the 2002 Encyclopaedia Britannica in its entirety. It is a task that will take him over a year to complete, and which will change how he views many things in the world.

One thing I liked about this book is that you could pick it up from time to time and not lose your place. While Jacobs discusses various things going on in his life at the time, it is not necessarily an ongoing story. Going from A to Z…or rather from a-ak to Zywiec…Jacobs writes a commentary on a variety of topics – some which may not seem at first to deal with the heading assigned.

I really liked this book, though not nearly as much as I enjoyed the other book I recently read by Jacobs (Year of Living Biblically).

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