Friday, March 12, 2010

A Book Review of Epic Proportions

It's a book review of epic proportions! I'm reviewing not one, not two, but three-- count 'em, three-- books at once. Today's triple threat consists of The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. First, let us travel back in time to the French Revolution in The Scarlet Pimpernel...

Synopsis: It is 1792 and France is in the grip of a seething, bloody revolution. Mobs roam the Paris streets hunting down royalists, barricade block any chance of escape and everyday hundreds die under the blade of Madame Guillotine. But in the hearts of the condemned nobility there remains one last vestige of hope: rescue by the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel. Renowned for both his unparalleled bravery and clever disguises, the Pimpernel's identity remains as much a mystery to his sworn enemy, the ruthless French agent Chauvelin, as to his devoted admirer, the beautiful Lady Marguerite Blakeney.

My Thoughts: Unlike a lot of older books I've read, The Scarlet Pimpernel is not wordy and hard to follow. It's very easy to get into this book. It's very well written and you learn some new words along the way (like flippancy). It's really a great book. If you still need something to get you excited for this book, here's a little something from chapter 10: "It does seem simple doesn't it? When you want to kill a chicken... you take hold of it... then you wring its neck... it's only the chicken that does not find it so simple. Now you hold a knife at my throat and a hostage for my obedience... You find it simple... I don't."

Next, let us travel to Brooklyn in The Haunted Bookshop...

Synopsis: The story finds Roger Mifflin once again being heard from in his own ebullient way. Mifflin has settled down and now runs a second hand bookshop in Brooklyn. No ordinary shop this, as Mifflin's sign which hangs outside the Gissing Street address will testify: "Parnassus at Home R. and H. Mifflin, Book lovers Welcome, This shop is haunted." Among the livelier spirits who inhabit "Parnassus at Home" are, besides Proprietor Mifflin and his loving wife Helen, the radiantly beautiful Titania Chapman, set to lie in the Mifflin household by her rich father in order to correct the evils of a finishing school education, the friendly dog Bock, and a young advertising man, Aubrey Gilbert, smitten by Titania's beauty and eager to learn the world of books for her sake.

My Thoughts: Trust me, this is a really good book. It's got something for everyone; there's comedy, romance, action, and mystery. It's one of a kind, I've never read anything like it, and I've read a lot of books. The Haunted Bookshop is very entertaining and impossible to put down.

Last, let us journey to Europe at the start of WWI, but forget the history books. Brace yourself, this is not the war you know. Let's dive into Leviathan...

Synopsis: It is the cusp of WWI, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale ship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksander Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way... taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.

My Thoughts: I've never read any of Scott Westerfeld's books before, but this one kept appearing everywhere. When books haunt me like that, it usually means that it's a good book. This instinct has yet to be wrong. There are two sides of this story so there's twice the story, twice the adventure, twice the awesome. If you read this, be sure to read over a towel because the action will spill out and get everywhere if you don't.

And that's the triple play. You can find these books at your local library or bookstore. Happy reading!


Mary Campbell said...

I'm reading The Scarlett Pimpernel right now. I'm liking it so far. I really want to read Leviathan - I read the Uglies series and I think you'd like those. I've never heard of the Haunted Bookshop.

M. Gray said...

I loved the movie of The Scarlett Pimpernel. I'm glad to know its not hard to follow! I reserved Leviathon at the library and missed picking it up! I did like the Uglies series. Thanks for all three reviews!!