Book Review: Eglantine

Eglantine by Catherine Jinks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When was the last time you grabbed your favourite pillow and pulled out a thick, warm blanket and settled yourself down on the lounge to watch a movie…a good movie? You pulled your feet up under the blanket and snuggled down before pressing the play button. You might have a hot cup of milo or tea sitting on the table beside you and a packet of chips or lollies or popcorn to munch on too. Or perhaps you don’t want the distraction because you’re tired or feeling unwell and you just want to concentrate on the movie. You’ve wanted to watch this movie for a while now.

The opening credits roll up and the movie begins.

The characters seem familiar. Or maybe it’s the setting. You’re not sure. You keep watching. You’re engrossed, but there’s something about the plot that reminds you of…you can’t remember which movie it was, but it reminds you of something and you find that distracting. You continue watching.

Something happens and once again you are reminded of…another movie? The scene seems to be exactly what you’ve seen before, but you can’t remember what happens next – or how this movie ends – so it has to be a rip off of another movie you’ve watched. The movie continues and you burrow further down beneath the warmth of the blanket.

The movie is coming to an end. You have no idea what’s going to happen and then…all of a sudden…you know how the last scene is going to play out. You can remember the last words spoken and you realise that you’ve seen the movie before. What a disappointment!

This happened to me while reading Eglantine (Ghost Story) by Catherine Jinks. The first chapter reminded me of another story I thought I had read, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the story. As I continued to read, I felt a familiarity with the characters and the plot, but had no idea where any of it was going so believed the story was similar to something else I had read. But the last chapter revealed to me that I had in fact read the book before. The last paragraph confirmed it. I felt a little foolish, but I guess we’ve all had this happed to us at some time.

Anyway, Eglantine is a paranormal adventure written for 8 to 12 year olds. As I write for this age group, I like to “research” what’s on the market. Besides, the books are usually enjoyable to read and don’t take up much of my time. Sometimes I like to finish something quickly and this was a nice break from the usual type of story that I read.

I imagine 8 to 12 year olds might find the story a little scary, but the author has written it light heartedly and there isn’t anything to be scared about. The paranormal plot is mixed with facts about anorexia, which I believe is a good way to teach young girls (and boys) about a condition that affects more people than we realise. The author did a good job of combining the two.

Young girls will enjoy this story. It’s the first book in a series.

Book Review: Left Behind

Left Behind by Tim F. LaHaye

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This month I’ve been reading Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Left Behind #1) by Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I was told, after I purchased the book, that it is a Christian book and immediately thought it would be preachy. So I opened the book and started reading cautiously; ready to throw the book to one side if it started preaching at me. I’m glad to say that it didn’t preach. Yes, there were religious sections in the story, but that was to be expected and the author was careful to slip them in were it was appropriate. And I never felt that the explanations went over the top. They were written clearly and concisely, so they didn’t distract from the story plot in the least.

Basically, the story follows two men left behind after the “rapture”. Rayford’s storyline is religious and, to be honest, I enjoyed this part of the book (which surprised me). Buck’s storyline is political and, not surprisingly (for me), this was the let down of the story. Whilst Buck’s storyline could have been quite interesting, I found it bogged down with the politics and therefore … quite boring. More than once I felt like skipping Buck’s scenes and reading the next section for Rayford. However, knowing religion and politics would surely be combined in the end, I read every scene (reluctantly). And, of course, I was right. Suddenly, the two merged and the pace steadily climbed and there was an exciting race to the all important climax. Once there, the authors quickly brought the book to a close.

I knew Left Behind was the first book in a series but, although there was some closure, I didn’t feel completely satisfied with the end. I feel that all books should leave the reader feeling content, even if the big picture has only just begun. This book failed in that regard.

Do I recommend the book? I feel that if you’re looking for an “end times” story to read, you could probably find better. However, if you want to know what the bible predicts, then this is a good starting point or introduction. I’m not sorry I read the book and I did find it interesting. Yesterday, I was given book two – Tribulation Force – which Gary found in an op shop and I will read that, but I wouldn’t walk into a bookshop and buy another book in the series. It is not just a story. It is a series which is being used as a medium to introduce people to Christianity. For that reason, I cannot recommend the book or the series. I would feel strange doing so.