Review of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Book Review by Redd Becker

Written in 1988, The Alchemist remains timeless.The Alchemist Coelho wrote it in a traditional story telling style which fits the format of ageless stories created to teach life lessons. Through “the boy’s” journey from shepherd to crystal merchant in Tangier across the African desert to an oasis and beyond to the Egyptian pyramids he learns. We learn with him. We learn about life’s lessons through his actions and the poignant words of those he meets. The importance of listening to your ‘self’ and looking for good omens runs a thread through the story. As does the importance of realizing one’s own “Personal Legend” or your path and purpose of life.

While drilling philosophical messages home, The Alchemist entertains. Coelho brings eclectic characters to life in exotic locations that take us out of ourselves.

Worldwide appeal in Paulo Coelho

Born in Brazil soon after World War II, Coelho grew up in a Catholic family. His 500 mile pilgrimage in Spain gave him experiences and insights that fed his stories. As one of the most important international writers of our times, Coelho writes for everyone interested in stories that impart meaning.

Review of The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Alan R. Clarke
Published by HarperCollins on May 1st 1993
Pages: 197

Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Redd Becker Book Review

The True Confessions of Charlotte DoyleThe True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, a coming-of-age adventure, leads the way with a dynamic heroine. Avi portrays Charlotte as smart, courageous and ‘willing to make things right’ when she makes mistakes. But as Charlotte faces a world more convoluted than her protected girl’s school had been, her moral compass requires fine tuning.

Avi mixes historical details well in this mystery adventure. Written in first person, Charlotte shows us the world of the high seas. Our thirteen year old heroine finds herself caught between captain and crew, when she transverses the Atlantic as the only female on a ship ripe for mutiny. Her naivety as a privileged girl, schooled at Barrington School for Better Girls in 1832, gets her in trouble when she does what they taught prudent. Their advice backfires and Charlotte finds herself an outcaste on a ship of ruffians.

In her desire to fix things, Charlotte joins the ship’s crew. She regains their respect because she’s willing to work hard, but she quickly finds herself accused of murder. The story and mystery of who committed the murder progresses with no shortage of action.

Charlotte Doyle’s story is a fun read, but thematic meanings are never far. The heroine’s innocence, due to gender and class, limits her at first, but she learns quickly and tries to make amends–regardless what it costs her. An unconventional ending leaves readers satisfied that the life lessons she learned will go to good use.

Newberry Book Honor Award for The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle received a Newberry Honor Book Award. Sometimes Newberry Honor books are overly literary, but Avi’s tale depicts a strong heroine in a fun, swashbuckling adventure. This makes it great to read in classrooms. Action keeps young readers engaged, while life messages lurk beneath the surface.

Schmoop provides a wonderfully insightful critique on the book, even if you don’t agree with all of it.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by AviThe True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Published by HarperCollins on August 10th 2004
Genres: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 229

A vicious captain, a mutinous crew and a young girl caught in the middle. Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago. Be warned, however: If strong ideas and action offend you, read no more. Find another companion to share your idle hours. For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it.

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Redd Becker Book Reviews

An independent minded princess agrees to marry whoever kills the beast that is killing villagers in her father’s kingThe Great Hunt (Eurona Duology, #1) by Wendy Higginsdom in The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins. Hunters from near and far come to kill the beast. 

The most interesting part of the story for me was when the hunters appeared. Each hunter had their own backstory and wanted to kill the beast or marry the princess for different reasons. The dynamic between the hunters, their motives and relationships pushed the story forward.

Unfortunately, the first sixty-four pages entrenches the reader in a ‘princess’ story that almost caused me to stop reading. Granted, that’s because of my own prejudices. I’m not too interested in prince and princesses thwarting whatever obstacles to come into their ‘rightful’ power.

Princess Aerity’s story could  easily be the subplot, although I understand there is a never ending demand for princess stories and for those who favor them, this could be a wonderful read.

My Rating three-stars

The Great Hunt by Wendy HigginsThe Great Hunt (Eurona Duology, #1) by Wendy Higgins
Published by HarperTeen on March 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Buy on Amazon

“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”
She could only stare back, frozen.

When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.
Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.
Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.