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sentina has commented on (39) products.

Hell Island by Matthew Reilly
Hell Island

sentina, October 4, 2012

I read this book for the very reason that the author wrote it -- it is short, exciting, and easy to read. Although I wasn't attracted at all by the title or the subject matter, which sounded gross, I needed something quick to read. It turned out that I actually enjoyed a lot of it, especially the portrayal of the intelligent, creative thoughts and actions of the main characters. Thankfully, the story was NOT the constant "kick butt, over-the-top, blindingly fast... non-stop rampage of all out action from start to finish" that the author claims it is -- that would have been boring and exhausting.

Aside from the melodramatic use of the word "Hell" for the location of the drama, my only objection is that the ending was too easy... clearly, there would still be trouble ahead for the heros.
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Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon
Shepherds Abiding

sentina, October 2, 2012

This simple-minded book sounds like it was written for perhaps ages middle school to high school, although I know many students of those ages who would find it boring. It has no meaningful conflict, no deep issues, no great resolutions, no wonderful descriptions. If you believe the word "Babe" automatically refers to baby Jesus, you might like it. That it is a New York Times best seller amazes me, but perhaps this reflects people's longing for uncomplicated lives without any serious troubles, love without ever real arguing, and faith without questioning or thought.

The author's attempt to convey local dialects is very difficult to read, and her frequent use of "he," when the identity of "he" is not apparent, caused me to have to go back and reread or read fairly far ahead to figure it out. After a while, I finally got that "he" was always the same man, but grammatically, this was very weak.

The story itself, of the love between a pastor and his wife and their actions to create meaningful Christmas presents for each other, was touching (even though they NEVER got mad at each other about ANYTHING), and their restoration of old Nativity figures was believable, because they were based on some real ones that someone restored.

There are a few sub-relationships that are also too perfect, but still sweet, and the sense of community is something we all want.

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The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
The Geometry of Sisters

sentina, September 2, 2012

The premise of this book was promising, but because there were three sets of sisters involved, one set dead, it sometimes became confusing.

The best lines, spoken by a teenager: "Grownups keep too many secrets... They think we can't handle what's real. But guess what? We can't handle what's not."

Rice is another modern author who writes choppy sentences, rather than tying them together smoothly with commas, as in, "And Carrie sat up. Put on her wet things. Walked out." instead of, " And Carrie sat up, put on her wet things, and walked out."

Rice doesn't often use adverbs, either. I began to notice that she used the adjective "tight" over and over, when it should have been the adverb "tightly," and then I realized how boring it was to see the same word so often (perhaps she hasn't heard of synonyms, either?).

She also just had to throw in the word "fucking" once as an adjective when it was totally unnecessary, very strange, and out of place.

I thought the insight into shoplifting was sensitive, the interweaving of mathematical ideas into a sort of poetic expression of various aspects of life was intriguing, the respect for a young female math genius was inspiring, the depiction of a crippled man as very human was enlightening, and the warm description of the director of a home for unwed young mothers was touching.

I also enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the old private school in Rhode Island, the weather, and the environment.

But overall, the story was jumbled, rushed, and a typical phony romance story -- stupid, lustful teen sex once in a dangerous place supposedly means lifelong true love, and a man is going to divorce his wife because she finally reveals that another man is the father of their teenage daughter -- these are just melodramatic. Even the ending was exaggerated -- "... forevermore" -- and felt like she just didn't know when to quit.

In fact, a lot of this story reflects the self-pitying suffering people create in their own lives, without any insight into this fact or into how to live without doing that to ourselves.

There is an unrealistically mature teenage girl, a too perfect teenage boy, a snobby rich woman whom we never get to really know -- even though there are hints to why she is the way she is that make us want to know more -- and really very little character development.

I wanted to cry and be moved by the reunions of various sisters, but everything was so rushed and predictable, that I was only slightly satisfied.
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Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
Dear John

sentina, August 26, 2012

Forgettable -- I had heard of a couple of Nicholas Sparks's book titles as movies before I realized they were books first. I haven't seen the movies, but I was interested in the books since they were popular enough to be made into films. Sorry to say, when I saw "Dear John" at a used book sale, I didn't even remember that I had read it until I started reading it again.

To me, the writing was not very good or engrossing;
I just read it because it was something to do. The story contained a kind of unnecessary secrecy that perhaps is supposed to seem noble, but I didn't like or admire it.

Maybe part of the strain I felt in this story and in the writing could be related to the fact that one of Sparks's children has the same name, Savannah, as his main female character.

This book was better than a typical phony-sounding romance novel, but didn't do much for me.
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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

sentina, August 22, 2012

I forgot to say in my review that I appreciate the way Larssen often describes in some detail what his main characters are wearing, because it helps visualize them and make them more real.
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