Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Uhtred Rides Again

If you have picked up Bernard Cornwell's The Pagan Lord, chances are quite good that you've read the previous six books in the series. So it should come as little or no surprise to know what you've got ahead of you as a reader, and, if you are like me, you are going to be just as thrilled with this seventh installment as you were three, four, five, or six installments ago.

So what is our Uhtred up to in The Pagan Lord? Being his usual arrogant, irrepressible self, and leading a small core of men across what is now England and back again. Early on, Uhtred accidentally kills a church officer, an incident that incites much of Christendom to want his head on the proverbial platter. After having his estate burned, Uhtred decides the time has come to reclaim his right to Bebbanburg, and he attacks with little or no support. From there, he finds himself deciphering the mystery of whom is holding Cnut's family hostage, and, in the process, putting himself and his men willingly in danger in order to give Alfred's son Edward the time he needs to attack the devious Cnut. It's all business as usual for Uhtred, a man whose intelligence and bravery place him amid the major battles of the early tenth century.

Cornwell has given us a true hero in Uhtred; even when he's at his most arrogant, he still exudes the charm and wits that make him a leader in a time of outlaws and kings. I love how Uhtred gets himself into tight spots from which there seems to be no escape, and yet, somehow, he does; I love that he faces the day with a clear knowledge that it may be his last but he will still make the most of it. Cornwell's battle scenes are exceptional; he places you among the fighters, allowing you to feel every thrust and blow. I admit it; I'm totally enamored of Uhtred and his tales, and there will never be enough chapters for this reader. The Pagan Lord is yet another riveting entry that kept me enthralled right up to the last word. I cannot wait to find out where we will head together next.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Top Ten Books + More

I recently did the challenge on Facebook where you list ten books that have impacted your life. OF COURSE I couldn't stop at ten...and have since thought of a few more that should certainly be added.  So here goes...

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
5. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman
6. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George
7. The Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling
8. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Honorable Mentions (Yeah, I'm doing it...I really couldn't stop at 10)
~The Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison Official UK
~Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
~The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
~Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
~The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly 

And also--

Unforgiven by Laura Hillenbrand
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What's in your Top Ten?

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Independent Study

Independent Study picks up where The Testing left off; Cia has lived through The Testing (always capitalized!) and is ready to embark on her University studies after taking a placement test. She doesn't precisely remember the trauma she experienced while completing The Testing, but the voice memo she saved on her Transmitter tells her things she knows must be true. In Cia's careful, measured world, it is beyond believable that The Testing is allowed to exist, but the knowledge that her boyfriend Tomas and her mentor Michal know what she knows helps her decide not to leave Tosu City...but only if she can become part of the rebellion team working to overthrow Dr. Barnes and his Testing. Things go from bad to worse for Cia; she attempts to discover information while being constantly watched and overloaded with studies so that she will fail, all without Tomas, who is placed elsewhere. Lots of conspiracy and duplicity ensue, with Cia thinking and overthinking and thinking some more, figuring things out logically yet always trying to do the right thing.

Independent Study could honestly be called The Testing Part II, as there is still a good deal of problems to be worked through and even more tests to pass. While the tests are just as mentally and physically exhausting, it does feel to some degree as though it's just more of the same. Fortunately, Cia has to learn to rely more on herself throughout this one; she learns to trust her instincts and act accordingly. There are horrible situations made worse by horrible people and isolation from those she loves, and a couple of twists near the end that are great set-ups for the final book. 

While I enjoyed Independent Study almost as much as The Testing, I did grow weary of Cia's stilted way of speaking and her overly moralistic views that she imposes on herself and others. I understand that this is all part of the situation in which Cia finds herself, and yet it makes her seem stand-offish and a tiny bit arrogant at times. But the story, even with its similarities to the first book, is still interesting and action-filled. If I'm a tiny bit let down with this entry, it would have to do with Cia's cardboard personality rather than the general storyline itself. I would actually give this novel 3 stars but am rounding it up because I sense that Cia's going to continue to grow as she finds herself drawn further into the takedown of The Testing. Still an enjoyable, intriguing read overall.