A Review On “Hangman’s Curse”

Hangman’s Curse by Frank Peretti

First off, I’d like to give a disclaimer: I am a little too old for this book, so I have found faults with it that age appropriate readers probably  wouldn’t notice. Also, being a writer, I am highly critical of style as well as content, and make notes to myself the entire time I read most anything, which makes me a little nit picky. That being said, let’s get to the review.

The whole idea behind the series is that there is a private organization, called the Veritas Project, which investigates bizarre crime scenes with the object of finding the truth using a Christ-centered perspective. The thing about this that I found rather hard to swallow is that it reports back to the President, without actually being federal. The individual cases are even discussed on the phone with him before the group takes them. I can’t really imagine any of our recent Presidents, even the “Christian” ones, supporting something outside of their federal control, let alone taking the time for private phone calls with them. I think Peretti would have been just as well off making it a completely private organization.

I also felt that it came off a little preachy in the beginning, when the goals and methods of the organization were being explained, and in the end, when things were being wrapped up. I have nothing against explaining Christianity in fiction, but I do have something against dumping all of one’s beliefs, or a character’s beliefs, into one conversation, no matter what those beliefs are. It’s too much explaining. Even in a conversation full of tension, it can still be dry and boring, and, well, preachy.

A very minor thing that bothered me was the one main character, a girl named Elisha, is straight out described as “attractive.” I have no problem with good looking characters, but I want to be shown that they’re attractive, not told. Paired with a perfect Christian personality, it just made her seem less real, like an ideal. Tell me she has blond hair, tell me she has a sweet smile, but don’t tell me she’s “attractive.” It just feels lazy to me. Anyway, that’s more of a pet peeve than anything else.

Those are the only things I have to say against the book, however. It was intense, interesting, had well thought out and diverse characters, kept up the suspense, and had you double-guessing till the very end. The danger was real and frightening, the stakes were high. I think this book is perfect for eighth through tenth graders, though be forewarned: it does deal with occult stuff. There’s nothing terribly detailed, but it is there; if your kids are in school, however, I doubt any of it will shock them. If your kids are homeschooled, you might want to make sure they know what a Ouija board is first, as, chances are, they’ve never seen one. I first heard on them when I was in sixth grade, but I’m pretty sure my brother, who is in seventh, doesn’t know about them. I guess I’ll have to ask him when I’m done with this.

So, my conclusion is, four stars for Hangman’s Curse. I still like the Cooper Kids series, by the same author, and for just a slightly younger audience, better though.

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Photo Shoot

You might have noticed the new header image… I’ve been meaning to change it for a long time, as the other one was looking a bit too wintery. I had so much fun with this little photo shoot (though some of the books fell over on my bookshelf and knocked the head off one of … Continue reading

A Review on “My Name Is Not Easy”

My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

I expected to cry. The very title says this is not going to be an easy read. After reading the description, I put the book back on the library shelf. Eskimos being mistreated at boarding school? I knew it would make me cry, make me angry. But I went back for it, because sometimes, crying is good. I never remember, though, when I get a book like this, just how upset it makes me. I expected white people who treat Eskimos and Indians like half-humans. I did not expect an insane priest who beats them with a two-by-four, yelling at them that they were destined for Hell at birth. I did not expect the military to come in and treat them like lab animals. I did not expect so many things, so many things that made me so angry, made it so that not only did I cry, but I couldn’t stop. Because even though I did not do those things, nor did my father, nor did my grandfather, nor even my great-grandfather, I feel responsible. Because I am white. Because no matter how much people say the color of your skin doesn’t matter, it does. If I were to go to Alaska, the Eskimos, the Inuit, would look at me through the lenses my people have shaped; they would see all those things reflecting back on me. That’s why it makes me so sick. I never wanted any of that. This is not a true story, but it’s fictional accounts of true stories. It’s only too real. These things happened, and they happened to people still alive today.

I’ve probably made you never want to pick up this book, but you should. Even though it completely tore me apart, I was right when I went back and pulled it back off the shelf. Sometimes crying is good. Knowledge is power, knowledge is inspiration. Inspiration to do something about what has been done.

A Review On “The Three Musketeers”

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I find the title of this book a little deceiving; it should really be called “D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers”, because the story is actually about a young Gascon man named D’Artagnan. The Musketeers are only his friends. They are certainly very amusing friends. Anyone who has read this book will never forget Arimis, Porthos, and Athos, their unique personalities, or the scrapes they all get each other in and out of. The two downsides to this book I found was that it started out rather slow (but then again, most old books do), and that there are places where one plot ends and you wonder where the next one will begin? This made more sense when I learned that this, like many books of it’s time, started out as installments in a newspaper. The characters’ way of looking at women and their relationships with them also caught me off guard; this story takes place in a time where marriage was not regarded as much. In fact, it seems that if one fell in love with a married woman it only made the romance more exciting! Of course, because this is a comedy first and foremost, nothing serious or objectionable ever happens. All they do is visit each other in the middle of the night and exchange handkerchiefs. Despite these things, however, I ended up loving this book. Adventure after adventure, characters that become your best friends… you can’t get much better. It’s huge; it took me a long time, it sometimes made me roll my eyes, but it also made me laugh, sometimes even out loud, and it made me hold my breath in suspense; especially at the end. I would definitely recommend this book for high-school students, though it would be too much for most middle-schoolers. My favorite character would have to be Athos; I will forever remember the picnic in the fort tower. But you will have to read the book to figure out what I’m talking about! Then you can come back here and tell me who your favorite character is!

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A Review on “To Kill A Mockingbird”

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I am sure others have said it more eloquently than I can hope to accomplish, but when I love a book this much I can not help but try to say why. Everyone loves different books for different reasons, and I loved this one because of the way it places you in a child’s mind. A child who’s mind is being stretched by the things going on around her, a mind that is struggling to make sense of the world. How on earth does Harper Lee capture us with a story about a lazy small town? How does she fascinate us with the everyday? I think that the voice that tells her story is the magic key. Scout doesn’t have any prejudices yet; she is being molded by those around her. She argues with them and puzzles about them and finally makes up her mind about them. She carefully watches all that is happening, and though she only discerns half of it, the older reader can pick up on all the rest. Sometimes, though, Scout is the wiser. She reaches straight through to ways of seeing things we would have never found, and says things we never would have dared to say, because we understand all the implications, but she does not.

I was reluctant to read this book, I must admit. I mean, the title doesn’t sound all that appealing, even if you know it isn’t really about killing mockingbirds. In fact, I think that made it even worse, because then I asked, “Well then, what is it about?” and the back of the book (I have the Warner Books edition) didn’t tell me much, and all my Mom said was, “It’s about prejudices in the south.” Well, I felt I had already read enough about that, but the more books I read with that all-encompassing description, the more I find that there is more to that topic than I ever imagined. We are a very diverse people, on this planet, and we all seem to have a different way of looking at things, a different way of saying things, a different community of thought that shapes us. For another thing, this book is about more than one kind of prejudice, so even if, after that, you still feel that you have read plenty of material on black discrimination, that’s still no excuse to not read this book. History books tell you the story from the point of politicians. This tells you the story from the point of the people who lived during that time in their own small town, only distantly affected by those all-important matters. It tells you what people thought back then, which is every bit as important, I believe, as the events themselves.

I can understand the vague descriptions on the book covers. I’m not sure that I could do better. I also understand why everyone says you should read it, and I heartily agree with them. You really should not miss out on this one. I don’t think you need a big study guide to accompany it; if the author thought it needed that, she would have written one herself. Just sit down in a comfortable spot and read it. That’s what Lee intended. That’s how you’ll enjoy it the most. When you’re done, see if your view of things hasn’t changed just a little bit. Maybe you’ll smile every time you see a mockingbird. Maybe you’ll stop and think every time too. That’s what I do. I hope you do too.