Friday, August 26, 2011

Angel by James Patterson

I can't say this was the best book in the Maximum Ride series but it was definitely the most interesting plot. Fang has left the flock and Max must choose between pining over him or returning the feelings Dylan has for her. It's not a typical triangle. Max and Fang have grown up together as they run from the scientists that created them (for those not reading the series currently the kids have been hybrid with birds and have wings). Dylan was created to be Max's perfect mate.
With Fang gone, Dylan is upping his "game" and working hard to win Max over.
Fang is not without his own turmoil. He left to start his own "flock" of kids who have been experimented on to fight the scientists. Along with new characters, Fang brings Max's clone in to fight. There are some real emotional twists and turns. Fang wants to be with Max but couldn't ask her to give up her destiny to follow his. He misses her so much that it's hard to be with her clone, Maya. Maya doesn't want to be a clone and is struggling to create her own identity which is hard because Fang keeps giving her lovelorn looks.
Max loves Fang but Dylan has a certain synchronicity with her. She wants to be loved for who she is not because the scientists make her the perfect mate. She's certain that Dylan loves her because of chemistry not because of her. Meanwhile, the scientists are pushing for Max and Dylan to run off and have children to ensure the survival of the human race.
As if all that was not enough, a new enemy has emerged called the Doomsday Group who's sole goal is to replace humans with hybrids. The two flocks have to battle an enemy that is recruiting fast and on a one way track to destroying all humanity.
There are so many interesting points in this story. I did get a little annoyed with Max's emotional roller coaster but it was completely understandable. It wasn't untrue to her character but I wished it had been given slightly less focus. It's all building up for the last book which comes out in February. That makes me the most sad. I've really enjoyed these books and these characters. Can't wait to see how it all ends.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

I picked up this book from the library when a friend of mine asked a group of us to go through the book with her. The Artist's Way is designed to be worked through over 12 weeks. Because it was a library book, I did it in six. My friends had started the book a few weeks before me but I still think I finished first.
The concept is to learn how to nurture your creative side and avoid creative blocks. I had picked up the book years ago but it didn't make an impression. I don't think I took it seriously. This time, I found I wanted to recommend it to everyone I know. Even though I did it in half the time and didn't quite do everything, I gave it a lot of effort. It's a great book but it's not perfect.
I did notice that it had a way of bringing to light the weirdest issues. The first time I read it, I had a real problem with Julia Cameron's use of God. Looking back, that was a time I was working through my own issues of faith. A friend of mine has the same issue but she also took issue with Julia Cameron's use of twelve step programs. This was something that no one else noticed making us wonder where the issue for her lies.
For me, I struggled with some of the more old fashioned wording. I am a woman in my thirties with a lot of future left. I struggled with Julia Cameron's questions like "If it wasn't too late, I would...." For me, it's not too late. I want to live in the now - not the past or the future. There's an issue there but I can't say what it is but it gives me something to explore.
I read a number of reviews of this book and find that you really have to be in the right place for this book to be helpful and, sadly, it's a place of recovery. The book is designed to help those recover from their blocks but it's a hard place to pull out of. I can understand why - Julia Cameron wrote this as a substitute to her workshops. The problem is that a workshop is more supportive than a book. I can picture that people use the book alone without support of others. You need a sounding board and someone to hold your hand when it gets too tough. You need accountibility that just doesn't come with a book.
I do recommend this book and have been contemplating using it to start my own workshops in my area but I don't recommend going it alone. Find other creative beings who want to work through it as well. It doesn't matter if they have blocks or not - there's still things to be learned.
I start this book over (I bought a copy for my husband) next week and plan on working through it with my husband so that he can discover the tools to prevent creative blocks as he starts his own blogs and persues his own dreams.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

I've finally carved out some reading time. It's amazing how much I can read if I don't watch TV in the evening.
Joanne Fluke has a style that I just love. Her books are light, fun with a touch of suspense. She has a formula that works and hasn't gotten stale yet (which is saying a lot for a long series like this). I highly recommend the entire series but I think this is my favorite so far (except I'm not sure I like the ending).
What I liked best is that she twisted it just a little without getting far fetched but I also liked that Hannah was put in a position where she really had to think about her dating situation.
I'll try not to add any spoilers for those reading earlier books but I apologize if they pop up.
Hannah Swenson is getting ready for the spring season at The Cookie Jar. There are weddings, parties, Valentine's Day all to plan for. Her friend the minister is finally able to go on his honeymoon when a blast from the past comes to visit. Reverand Matthew had spent time at the parsonage as a teen when his parents had gone on a mission. He was joined by his cousin Paul. The boys were so close that they were nearly twins. It's been a long time since anyone has seen them so when Matthew is murdered things start getting strange.
Meanwhile, Hannah has a bigger problem. She has competition for Norman's attention. Cute, sexy new dentist Beverly has a past with Norman and seems to be wiggling her little behind into Hannah's comfortable pattern. Beverly is seeing both Mike and Norman. Hannah is jealous and Norman is acting weird. Will she finally lose Norman because she couldn't choose him over Mike or will she have to share them with Beverly? It's a tough season for Hannah and she has to solve a murder on top of it.
I like Hannah because she tries to be smart. She always ends up alone with the killer and at risk of losing her life but she tries to learn from it and not make those mistakes again. I like that she's smart and she has community support behind her.
This is a mystery series that has recipes. I have to say, they made me sooooooo hungry. Last night I stopped and made the coffee she described. It probably wasn't the same but it was so good. I even shared some of the recipes with my son who can't wait to try them this weekend. I have found myself talking more about the recipes to those around me than the book (that's because they get tired of me talking about the plots - I can see it in their eyes).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Love Bites by Ellen Schreiber

This seventh installment of Ellen Schreiber's Vampire Kisses was great. Some series' have a tendency to go off on weird tangents or lose their steam but Schreiber continues to craft a great story.
Alexander's best friend Sebastian arrives to stay a few days with Alexander. Raven didn't even know he had a best friend since Alexander talks so little about himself. She sees this as an opportunity to learn more about her boyfriend but things go array when Sebastian falls in love with Raven's best friend Becky. Becky has a boyfriend and doesn't know that Raven is dating a vampire. Things can go horribly wrong if Raven doesn't do something cleaver.
The thing I love about Raven is she is so true to herself. She refuses to compromise her values and she is loyal to a fault. She is honestly torn between wanting to protect Becky and to protect Alexander. She really likes Sebastian and he can't help who he is.
Another beautiful part of this story is Raven's desire to become a vampire and Alexander's reluctance to change her. Raven learns more about why he doesn't want to make her a vampire and begins to understand the consequences of that choice (for her).
There is some backstory that comes into play with this book but not enough that if one picked this volume up first that they wouldn't be able to follow the story. There's still a ton of character growth between Raven and Alexander.
I love this series and really think it's the best of it's kind. The stories are not so filled with drama that they become bogged down and Schreiber's writing is light and enjoyable. This is a real teen with an unusual situation but there's so much more.
I like the lack of love triangles, even though Schreiber has toyed with them Raven has remained completely faithful to Alexander. They have real world problems (some with supernatural twists but pretty believable).
This series is more geared towards girls but I think there's enough action and "manliness" that a young man would enjoy them. The characters are in high school and approaching 18 fast but the writing is simple enough for a younger reader. The books are short, especially compared to similar series. (There's even a manga series based on these books that my son is devouring).