Monday, May 27, 2013

In the Reign of Terror - a Book Review

Harry Sandwith, an English boy, is sent to France to be a companion for the sons of a father's friend. Harry settles in his new home and learns the way of French people. But things are stirring in Paris as the people begin to shout for freedom, stirred on by the likes of Danton and Robespierre. Then the Marquis and his wife are arrested, and Harry is put in charge of the Marquis' three daughters.

G. A. Henty has been described as a master of historical fiction. After reading my first Henty book, I have to agree with this statement. The detail put into the book isn't forced, it's just there - but it makes the story feel so real.

I wasn't impressed by the beginning, but the more I got into the book, the more I liked it. There was never a dull moment (except for the beginning, when the story was beginning, of course). So, yes, the book obviously had a lot of action because it is placed in France's Reign of Terror, a time of much change in France.

The main character, Harry, is admirable. He has a good head on his shoulders and is someone I wouldn't feel ashamed of depending on. All of the other characters are well-developed and distinct from one another.

The book would be appropriate for children, but I think an older person would appreciate it more because of the small touch of romance near the end. In my case, I appreciate that part of the plot as it was very sweet...but for those people who don't care for it, it is a minor part of the book.

I recommend this book very highly. I, for one, am planning to read it again at least once.

Alyianna's rating: 9.8 out of 10

Link to my review on Amazon - why don't you go over there and rate it as helpful? ;)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Thirst - Catholic Book Review

I first heard about this book when the author approached me because she had noticed that I liked Regina Doman's novels. We ended up making up a deal that I would write a review in return for getting a free PDF. Here is my review, so hold on to your hats. :)

One could say that Rebecca is living an ordinary life, going to college and living at home with her parents and brother in the United States. But when she meets the Canadian Peter, she does not realize that a beautiful and wonderful friendship is ahead of her...

The first thing that struck me as more than ordinary in this book were the vibrant descriptions. Even if the story had been ordinary, the descriptions that painted pictures in my mind and were never uninteresting would have made up for it.

This book was very Catholic. God and religion permeate the entire book. A good portion of the story also takes place at or after Mass.

When I started reading this book, I was expecting a romance. However, I was surprised to find a friendship story instead. One could say that there were some elements of romance (I can totally see Rebecca and Peter as a married couple one day), but it wasn't anything major in the story. Since I was expecting romance, I might have been disappointed if the friendship wasn't so beautiful - I would put it up there with Frodo and Sam. :)

I enjoyed this book very much. It was a great weekend read, and I definitely plan on reading it again. I was delighted to read in the "About the Author" section that Gina is writing a sequel to this book. I don't think she will be able to write fast enough for me. ;)

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10
(I decided to be fair and hold off putting 10's for every book I like :P)

The book on Amazon:

Link to my review on Amazon - how about going over there and rating it as helpful? :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Together - a Music Review

Jonathan and Charlotte first became known to the world when they auditioned on Britain's X Factor. Unfortunately, they lost to a dog act (which made a lot of people mad, including me)...but they still got a record deal, and their first album, Together, came out in September 2012 (October in the U.S. & Canada) from Syco Records. The album reached 32 on the Irish Albums Chart and 5 on the UK Albums Chart.

The Prayer begins a little different than all the other versions. Charlotte's voice is more like that of a pop singer than an opera singer - or at least, that's we think until we hear her later on in the song and in the rest of the CD. Jonathan's voice, of course (you'll agree with my of course if you've heard him), is amazing. Finally, we've got a choir (Boys Aloud) at the end to keep this version of The Prayer interesting and different, which is very much necessary when you've heard so many versions of this song that you're almost starting to get sick of this song. This is the only song on the album that is at least partly in English (all the rest of the songs being in Italian, I believe).

Caruso - Very well done, as usual, for Jonathan and Charlotte. Pretty much all I can say here.

Vero amore is my absolute favourite on this album, and it has become one of my favourite songs. This song is actually a "cover" of Elton John's 'Your Song' in Italian. In my opinion, Jonathan and Charlotte's version is much better than the original or any other version I've ever heard of this song. I love the crescendos in this song, at the beginning, in the middle, and near the end.

Ave Maria - the beautiful notes of this song make Charlotte's voice angelic. It is certainly interesting to hear this song sung as a duet, but it is only until the ending that Charlotte and Jonathan sing together.

Forse (Unintended) is another gorgeous song off this CD (and is also my mom's favourite). It is probably the most well-done song on the entire CD.

Il mondo e nostro (Rule the World) - This song is another of my favourites, for no other reason than that I love the original, and this version is also very well done.

Canto della terra is a very well-remembered song from my childhood back when my mom listened to a whole lot of Andrea Bocelli, so hearing this song again makes me feel happy. Jonathan and Charlotte do a great job on it.

Ognuno soffre (Everybody Hurts) - the melody seems somewhat familiar, but maybe that's just because I've listened to this CD a couple of times. As usual, it sounds great.

Chi mai vivrà per sempre? (Who Wants to Live Forever?) - This is another well-known song from my childhood. When Jonathan first begins to sing, "Chi mai vivrà per sempre?" it is both chilling and beautiful. Even so more so is the violin music in the middle, and when Charlotte begins to sing just before the final rounding chorus (wait a second - was she just singing in ENGLISH?!)

La prima volta (The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face) is also very well known to me because my mom loves to play Paul Pott's version. I'm not too impressed with Jonathan's beginning lines. The song also sounds a little mellow to me compared to the version I'm used to, but maybe that's just me.

This entire album is gorgeous. There's not a single song that I don't like or that doesn't sound great (except for maybe the last track). I would definitely recommend buying this album to anyone - and I'm looking forward to this duo's next!

Alyianna's rating: 9 out 10

Monday, May 6, 2013

Christ the King, Lord of History - a Textbook Review

Here is my first book review that deals with a textbook. However, if you like history like me, this textbook will be more like a historical novel than a textbook.

This textbook by Anne W. Carroll is amazing. Not only is it hard to find a textbook that gives the story of history from a Catholic perspective, but to find a textbook where history is told in such an interesting way? That's not so easy to find. I know that history isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I believe that any student can enjoy history if it is told in an interesting way.

Mrs. Carroll covers history from Abraham to John Paul II. The rise and fall of civilizations is told of. We learn about the heroes and heroines of history, and the reader learns to love each one of them and the battles that they won. In fact, I loved reading about one event so much that I am now researching more about it to perhaps write a historical fiction book on it someday. I like how events are told in a much different way than we usually hear of. After reading this book, one can learn that how they thought something happened in history by being taught so by the media was not how it actually happened.

One thing that should be mentioned is the pro-American part of the book. As the author is American, the pro-Americanism does creep into the book from time to time. However, we don't get a whole lot of that as the history of Europe is focused on mainly as this book traces the history of the Catholic Church and events important to and surrounding this institution.

Each chapter ends with with some questions, as well as some cultural and historical activities to help make the learning process even more fun. However, if you are going to use this textbook as a learning tool, I greatly recommend the workbook, which not only goes over the material in more depth, but it also comes with an answer key. ;)

Alyianna's rating: 9.8 out 10