Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Voice (Book Sneeze Review)

Book Sneeze is a unique sight that offers books to bloggers to be read and reviewed. So far I have received one book and was quite impressed with the whole idea. The books are absolutely free but you can only request one at a time. Once you have posted your review for one book you are allowed to choose another. It's a great way to get free books and be introduced to new authors.

The Voice was my first Book Sneeze book to review. It is an excellent translation of the New Testament that seeks to "retell the story of the Bible in a form as fluid as modern literary works yet remaining painstakingly true to the original manuscript." One of the most unique characteristics of this translation is the screenplay format. Whenever there is dialogue, the speaker is indicated which allows for the reader to read the text as a narrative. For someone who loves fiction because of how the text flows, I felt that I was reading a true story as opposed to biblical fact.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Dear John
is the star-crossed love story of John and Savannah. The two meet by chance on the beach in North Carolina and fall instantly in love. After being together for two weeks, Savannah must return to her life and John to his. Unfortunately, John's life is thousands of miles away stationed in Germany as part of the US Army. The two swear to write letters and keep their love alive until the day that John can return. It seems as if it is only a waiting game, until the terrorist attack of September 11th which spurs John to re-enlist. The distance, different lives, and John's inability to totally trust this love due to his strained relationship with his father leads them down a difficult path.

Sarah's Review:
Ugh. Let me start there. I think all Nicholas Sparks books are hit or miss. This one is most definitely a miss. I have to believe the reason it became so popular was because of the movie that was made from it starring ever-so-cutie Channing Tatum. It is dull and predictable. The characters are not believable and difficult to relate to. Surprisingly, I think Nicholas Sparks writes better female leads than males. My advice? Skip it. If you want Nicholas Sparks, try
The Guardian or The Choice, but if it's mind-numbing sleep medication you're looking for then this is the book for you.

Erienne's Review:
After reading
A Walk to Remember and The Notebook, I had pretty much given up on Nicholas Sparks. With each of his books I could most likely tell you the ending about thirty pages in. He is that predictable. I picked up Dear John with the hopes that after a few years maybe Nicholas Sparks had a little more to offer. Unfortunately, Dear John is probably the worst Nicholas Sparks book that I have read. In Dear John, Nicholas Sparks basically tells you the ending of the book within the prologue. This time I didn’t even have to read thirty pages. At that point, I pretty much had to make myself continue reading. The remainder of the story was just like a typical Nicholas Sparks romance that brings tears to your eyes before you realize how very unrealistic his version of romance actually is.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees is the story of a young girl coming of age in the south during the 1960's. Lily is raised by her neglectful father on a peach farm in South Carolina. Finally fed up with her father's mistreatment Lily and her nanny Rosaleen head off in search of a place to call home. Lily and Rosaleen are taken in by the Boatwright sisters on their bee-keeping farm in Tiburn, SC. There she finds unconditional love, the mother she's been longing for, and finally herself in this unlikely honey-sticky place.

Sarah’s Review:
This book hums with the feel of long hot summers and honeybees. It is a portrait of the strength of women and the bonds we share together. Although I was a bit uncomfortable with the religious aspects of the book, I believe strongly in the message. One must find what you truly believe in before you can find who you really are. The Secret Life of Bees is inspirational and uplifting. An excellent book to read this summer while laying in the sunshine with a glass of sweet tea.

Erienne’s Review:
The Secret Life of the Bees is a book that reminds me of the importance of having people to help you go through the struggles of life. Lily, who has no one she can trust but her nanny, ends up finding an entire community of people to love her and help her deal with the difficulties in her life. The women at the bee-keeping farm show Lily how to love again by loving her despite their differences. Lily is also able to see how the women deal with their own struggles and support one another within the midst of difficult times. As the book comes to a close, Lily is beginning to experience freedom from her past and is able to return some of the love she has been given.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Author John Berendt fell in love with the city of Savannah, GA on his first visit. After taking up a part-time residence in the city, Berendt began writing a work of nonfiction that reads like a wild soap opera. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tells the story of Jim Williams and the murder of his young lover, Danny Hansford. Berendt intertwines Williams's story with the lives of other colorful Savannah residents and the city itself becomes a minor character in the story. Set in the shade of live oaks and spanish moss, the story that Savannah residents like to simply refer to as "the book" is a twisted tale that seems to go nowhere and everywhere all at the same time.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil can be dark one minute and hilarious the next. Berendt takes the reader for a fun-filled mystery ride. It is very easy to forget that this book is considered nonfiction since it reads like a love song to the southern city of Savannah. The book actually inspired me to take a road trip to Savannah and I was pleased to find that it was literally like stepping into the story. The Mercer House stands facing some of the most gorgeous squares and Bonaventure Cemetary is every bit as eerily beautiful as Berendt promises. This book is a must read for anyone that has been to Savannah or anyone planning to go there. Even if you're not, read it anyway, it's just a fun book. When you're done, go ahead and see the movie starring John Cusak. This is very difficult for me to say, but believe it or not it actually is one movie that lives up to the book.