Monday, June 29, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (49/81)

When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him - after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod's life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?

Loved, Loved, Loved this book .......... And when I did some reading up on Neil Gaiman I found out that I had actually seen alot of his work .......... He worked on Babylon 5 one of my all time favourite shows ....... Wrote the script for Beowulf, had a hand in Princess Mononoke, wrote Stardust and also the up and coming movie Coraline .......... So I am officially calling myself a Neil Gaiman fan and going to seek out the rest of his books and comics to read ..........

Firstly let me say I loved the cover of this book ....... Not only is it Hardback but it is wonderfully Illustrated ..... It was a complete joy to read it ...... While reading it I did have a kind of Tim Burton image in my head which I loved ...... Neil said that he was inspired by The Jungle Book ( which is one of my favourite books ) So instead of animals raising the child it would be Ghosts !!!

The book is about a boy who's family has been murdered and as a baby is adopted by the people in the local graveyard ...... They protect and guide Bod ( Short for Nobody) ......... The characters are wonderful ..... And I can appreciate all the gravestone humour with having spend alot of my time as a child wandering around graveyards ( Not in a morbid way - just with my family doing family History - I have lost count how many childhood pictures of me are sitting by the gravestones ) So for me I got totally absorbed into this world ....... The characters are great .... And when you have a full graveyard of people you can really go anywhere .......

I am excited to hear that this is going to be made into a movie as well ...... So if you haven't read it yet ........ Go out and get a copy ......

This is a pretty cool site which you can listen to each chapter getting read to you by Neil himself ............. Enjoy !!!!!!!!!

I rate this book 5 *****

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Joy Luck Club, 59/81, 2nd Round

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, reread category

I am the mother of two teenage girls. I am also a daughter. This means that the whole mother-daughter relationship is one that I have given a lot of thought and energy. Being where I am in my life, I read The Joy Luck Club with a very different perspective from the time I first read it.

Jing-Mei Woo learns that her mother had a family before the one she has now, complete with a soldier husband and twin baby girls. With the war in China bringing such danger and uncertainty, her mother takes her babies and flees into the countryside. But her strength begins to fail and she makes the difficult decision to leave the girls, along with everything she owns, and hopes that someone will find them and take care of them.

But life doesn't work the way she expected. She survives. For years, she knows nothing about the fate of her daughters. She remarries and has another baby daughter. Then she learns that her twins have survived. She tries to contact them, she plans a visit. But she dies before she can make that trip.

All of this takes place early in the book. The rest of the book focuses on lives of 8 women, mothers and daughters. The mothers have lives and stories to tell that their daughters have never heard.

I enjoyed this book, if it was not quite so emotional for me as it was the first time I read it. Instead it just reminded me of how complicated this relationship is and how much I need to work on it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

La continuacíon y otras páginas (29/81)

La continuacion is an anthology of stories and poems from Silvina Ocampo, who was friends with Borges, married to Adolfo Bioy Casares, and sister to Olivia Ocampo. In reading her short stories, I found it tempting to compare her to her contemporaries, Borges and also Julio Cortazar, which isn't entirely fair. Ocampo is certainly drawing from some of the same influences as those authors, but her perspective and style are clearly her own.

Among the themes are the blurring of identity (probably used most effectively in "La casa de azucar"), memories of childhood ("La siesta en el cedro"), and textual games ("Carta bajo la cama" and "El diario de la Porfiria Bernal"). Ocampo usually injects these themes with her own particular approach, as with the air of mystery and sadness that pervades the childhood stories. Of particular note is the sensuality of some of the stories, brining a certain liveliness to those elements. Admittedly, not all of the stories are great. (Of particular note is "El pecado mortal" for its oddly engaging take on the intersection of religion and sex.) Some of the later tales seem to have interesting concepts, though used in ways that struck me as less original.

Overall, a pretty nice collection presenting a sampling from the authors lifelong output.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See 17/81

This novel is a family saga, crossing two continents and nearly thirty years. Pearl Louie and her sister, Mae, were born and raised among the Shanghai elite, but with the arrival of Japanese invasion and the start of WWII, find themselves sold to Chinese-American husbands. They cross the Pacific to begin a new life with unknown relatives in Los Angeles. The novel covers Pearl and Mae's efforts to make new lives for themselves in Los Angeles, and to come to terms with their new family. Pearl discovers a world of contradictions in Los Angeles. She begins to develop an American identity, while living in a country prejudiced against her. Always critical of her mother's old-fashioned superstition, Pearl finds herself drawn to traditional ways as she faces the challenges of raising a family. While there are some triumphs for Pearl, Mae, and the rest of the Louie family, there are also many sorrows. See's ending for this saga shocked me- it was certainly not the ending I was anticipating. Overall, this novel offers a complex and engaging plot, and brought me into the world of Chinese Americans in the middle of the 20th century. Through See's work we go deep into the innermost recesses of the lives and thoughts of the Louie family. See has written a complicated epic- a story of much sorrow, but also of persistence.

Lisa See, Shanghai Girls, (Random House, 2009) ISBN: 1400067111

Category: Published in 2009 2/9, 17/81

Children of My Heart, by Gabrille Roy 16/81

A novel of a young teacher in the depression-era prairies, Roy tells the stories of children from the desperately poor families of rural Manitoba. The stories are told by the protagonist, a young, unnamed teacher, who teaches at an isolated village school. Roy presents children heavily laden with the burdens of poverty, adult concerns, and adult responsibilities. It quickly becomes clear what a significant role a caring young teacher plays in the lives of these children. In many cases she is the only adult who has the luxury to treat her pupils as children. The protagonist retains youthful enthusiasm in the most trying of circumstances, until she is faced with a new kind of trial: a budding romance with a troubled teenage student. Mederic, the son of a distant father and an absent mother, is desperately in need of attention, and his young teacher is desperately in need of companionship. When she tries to reach Mederic's mind a clear affection develops between them, and this budding relationship offers few good solutions. Roy's novel is rife with sadness, but also with a sense of persistence. The desperate poverty of the 1930s immigrant prairie communities is brought into stark relief by Roy's prose; written in a lyrical style, she paints a dramatic picture.

Gabrielle Roy, Children of My Heart (McClelland and Stewart, 1979) ISBN: 0771075987

Category: Canadian Fiction, 5/9, 16/81

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Defense of Food (28/81)

In Defense of Food is the latest from Michael Pollan, whose previous The Omnivore's Dilemma examined the environmental impact of modern food production. In Defense, Pollan sets his sights on the modern Western diet, including some of the thinking that has gone into producing and justifying it. As Pollan lays it out, the modern diet has been shaped too much by the profit motives of large food producers and too little by the needs of human beings. While traditional diets were a product of a culture's trials and errors over centuries, the attempt to apply scientific methods to modern food production has resulted in food that is less healthy.

Pollan has a name for the allegedly scientific framework which has come to dominate the way that we think about food: nutritionism. Nutritionism, as distinct from nutrition, is a quasi-scientific set of ideologies about food which reflect little about the real impact of diet on health. Nutritionsim creates the illusion of being a scientific perspective on eating. And though it would seem that the scientific method, powerful as it is, should be able to determine what foods are or aren't healthy, it has failed for several reasons. In part, this is due to the sheer complexity of any diet, which renders it nearly impossible to look at x nutrient or y food item in isolation.

Additionally, the nutritionist impulse to view foods as collections of nutrients instead of whole units can result in bad conclusions. If a study finds that a diet high in red meat and low in fruit lead to higher rates of cancer and heart disease, what would be the logical conclusion? Through the nutritionist lens, that means that the goal should be to cut saturated fats (and cholesterol) and increase fiber (or antioxidant) intake. But switching to leaner meat and ramping up on oat muffins (and antioxidant supplements) does not appear to yield the same benefits as the high-fruit diet.

What then is the solution to the complicated thicket of competing health claims that present themselves in the marketplace? Pollan's recommendations are elegant in their simplicity: Eat food (as opposed to food-like stuffs). Not too much. Mostly plants. He also recommends a return to more traditional forms of eating, especially preparing food from scratch and eating with people instead of in isolation (and on the run).

It seems there is a growing number of people questioning the effect of the modern diet, a trend that Pollan has both helped fuel and benefited from. I would recommend the book to anyone considering a new look at the way we eat now and how much harm it might be doing. Pollan's non-dogmatic approach to the subject makes it an enjoyable read. His thesis about nutritionism may be stark, but his presentation and advice are not.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Persuasion, 54/81, 2nd Round

Persuasion by Jane Austen, historical fiction category

Persuasion to me has seemed a little bit like the country cousin out of the Austen novels. Pride and Prejudice is the popular one, with all the movie adaptations and the novelizations and the good press. Emma is sort of a runner-up. It also has some good movie versions and a lot of humor and lighthearted fun. Sense and Sensibility is also popular.

But before last year, I knew nothing at all about Persuasion. I wasn't sure what the plot was; I never saw it on the big screen; I couldn't even tell you the main character's name. Then I saw the BBC version, the one with Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot. I was mesmerized.

In case you don't know the story either, Anne is the middle daughter in a very proud, very vain family. Anne has always been overlooked. She fell in love with a young navy officer when she was young. She was 'persuaded' to end the engagement, hence the title. They were both young, neither had any income, and her family was opposed to the match.

Eight years pass. She has not forgotten him, but has convinced herself that he has forgotten her. Then events conspire to bring them together again. Will she get a second chance?

I really loved the story. I only gave it 4 stars, not because I didn't enjoy it, but because the ending was a little weak. Austen didn't seem to find the right way to wrap things up and just sort of tacked on the last chapter. Then I have to admit that I preferred the more romantic ending in the TV version too. But it was really well done and I loved it.

The Wizard Heir, 53/81, 2nd Round

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, myth/fantasy category

Seph, short for Joseph, is used to being sent from school to school. Ever since his first guardian died, he has been having a hard time settling in. And he can't get any straight answers about his family either.

So after another tragedy, Seph is sent to a new boys' school in rural Maine. At first, he's hoping this will be the help he's been looking for, someone to train him in magic and teach him how to be a wizard. But it becomes clear very early that this school is more like a prison, and he's going to have to be very lucky to escape with his life.

This was a great followup to the exciting first book, The Warrior Heir. I liked Seph, even though he was a bit cocky, and loved his courage and resourcefulness. This is a darker type of magic, in some ways, and certainly violent. There's no question that these are some nasty folks Seph is facing. I still can't decide whether to trust some of the folks in here. Unlike most teen fantasies, I really can't tell what to expect next or how this will all turn out. I can't wait to read the next one in this series.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle (48/81)

When Thalia Langley spies a dark and handsome stranger in the shadows of her brother-in-law's study, she knows in an instant that she's found the dangerous, rakish sort of man she's always dreamt of. But the man she thinks she's seen and the complete stranger who comes into the light are two very different men. Tally suspects there is more to this man than meets the eye, and she has the perfect weapon to help tempt the truth from him: a little black gown she's found in a trunk. Lord Larken, posing as the duke's cousin, is searching for the notorious Captain Dashwell. His deception runs into trouble, however, when the duke's tempting sister-in-law starts to chip away at his reverent disguise and his icy, forgotten heart.

Don't you just love the cover ...... Well this is number 2 of my Romance Challenge ........ Thanks to Legs for lending me the book ........ And I totally devarded it in the space of a few hours ....... I really liked ......

You have your historical romance with the handsome Stranger and then you have the lovely female lead who is not afraid of abit of danger ...... I really enjoyed the story line and it was a very easy read ........ And I agree with Legs that every girl should have a wee Black Gown .....

So if you are looking for a really nice sweeping romance .... Look know further ....... There are a couple of sexy scenes in the novel but apart from that it is a nice wee story to be sweep away with ........

I rate this book 31/2***

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chosen by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ( 47/81)

Dark forces are at work at the House of Night and fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird's adventures at the school take a mysterious turn. Those who appear to be friends are turning out to be enemies. And oddly enough, sworn enemies are also turning into friends. So begins the gripping third installment of this "highly addictive series" (Romantic Times), in which Zoey's mettle will be tested like never before. Her best friend, Stevie Rae, is undead and struggling to maintain a grip on her humanity. Zoey doesn't have a clue how to help her, but she does know that anything she and Stevie Rae discover must be kept secret from everyone else at the House of Night, where trust has become a rare commodity. Speaking of rare: Zoey finds herself in the very unexpected and rare position of having three boyfriends. Mix a little bloodlust into the equation and the situation has the potential to spell social disaster. Just when it seems things couldn't get any tougher, vampyres start turning up dead. Really dead. It looks like the People of Faith, and Zoey's horrid step-father in particular, are tired of living side-by-side with vampyres. But, as Zoey and her friends so often find out, how things appear rarely reflects the truth...

Well this is the third book in the series 'A House of Night' and as the books go on I am enjoying them more ......... At the end of the 2nd book you find that you cannot always trust everyone around you and Zoey finds herself in keeping alot of secrets ........ Even not telling her trusted Boyfriend and friends ......... You know that will not end well .......... Her love life is anything but smooth sailing ...... Try complicated ...... She has a human boyfriend and of course her hunky vampire boyfriend and then in walks a totally hot older Vampire Teacher ........ Will she make the right decisions ?????????

In the middle of all that she is trying to save her best friend ........ And be the leader of the Dark Daughters as well ...... Life is never dull !!!

I did enjoy this book and it ended in a way that I will have to go out and get the next one to see what happens ..........

I rate this book 31/2 ***

Betrayed by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast (46/81)

Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night. She’s come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs--like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend…or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

This is book 2 of the A House Of Night Series and I feel that it is getting a little bit better ....... There is not that much bad language in this one as there was in the first ....... So that is a good sign ......... The characters are now starting to come together which is good ...... Even though the main character of Zoey sometimes I just want to slap her at times when it comes to the boys in her life ........ She just is all over the place .....

I love the Character of Stevie Rae she is warm, funny and bubbly ..... As the title of the novel suggests Betrayed - You know something is going to happen :)

It has took me a couple of books to get into this series but if you do like your Vampire Books you will enjoy this series as well ... But for the more adult Teen than the younger end because of some of the content .....

I rate this book 31/2 ***

As You Like It

As You Like It by William Shakespeare, play category

I'm not going to go into the complicated plot on this one, but it's the one with Rosalind and Orlando, where Rosalind, for her own mysterious reasons, pretends to be a boy and flirts with Orlando, who is extremely dense, and never figures out that she is a girl.

Forget about whether this is believable or not. (It's not.) In fact, the whole plot is pretty darn farfetched. It is, however, funny in some places and thoughtful in other places. Like all Shakespeare, it's much better on stage than on paper, but it was still a fun read.

What I really enjoyed about the edition I read is that it had photos from the Royal Shakespeare Academy and others of the play, including a very young Alan Rickman as Jaques and a ludicrously costumed Kenneth Branagh as Touchstone. Very funny!

And this puts me at reading 17/37 Shakespeare plays so far.

The Wizard Heir, 53/81, 2nd Round

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, myth/fantasy category

Seph, short for Joseph, is used to being sent from school to school. Ever since his first guardian died, he has been having a hard time settling in. And he can't get any straight answers about his family either.

So after another tragedy, Seph is sent to a new boys' school in rural Maine. At first, he's hoping this will be the help he's been looking for, someone to train him in magic and teach him how to be a wizard. But it becomes clear very early that this school is more like a prison, and he's going to have to be very lucky to escape with his life.

This was a great followup to the exciting first book, The Warrior Heir. I liked Seph, even though he was a bit cocky, and loved his courage and resourcefulness. This is a darker type of magic, in some ways, and certainly violent. There's no question that these are some nasty folks Seph is facing. I still can't decide whether to trust some of the folks in here. Unlike most teen fantasies, I really can't tell what to expect next or how this will all turn out. I can't wait to read the next one in this series.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast (45/81)

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

Well recently I have been on a Vampire kick ....... Reading lots of Vampire books both adult and Teen ....... This book is a teen book but I was disappointed with the swearing and also some sexual references which kind of spoiled it for me abit ........ The story line is good and the characters are solid but just some of the language :( ............. This is the 1st book from a Series ( what is with series at the moment !!! ) called A House of Night.

I was in two minds on reading the next book in the series because of the language ... Which is a shame !!! ..... The main character of Zoey is a young 16 year old looking to find her place in life when she gets Marked by the Tracker to become a Vampire ......... She is then send to attend A special Vampire School which trains the new found Vampires on their new lifes :) ............. You have the usual crowd ...... The nerdy kids and the In Group ......... And of course no novel would be complete without the hunky men ( Eric )

If you love Vampire books then you are going to love this series ( A house of Night ) ......... I probably would have rated it higher if not for the use of language ........

I rate this book 3 ***

Friday, June 19, 2009

Among the Mad

I picked up Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear from the library. I love all the Maisie Dobbs mysteries and own 3 of them. When this one goes on the discount rack at B&N I’ll pick it up too.

This one continues the story of Maisie’s life and her independent career. I love the period authenticity of the book. And the time of the depression and recovery from WWI in England was such a tough time. This book spoke to the general issues with people experiencing shell-shock and other issues of the mind, which weren’t visible and weren’t understood. One man in particular, with very extensive knowledge of chemistry, begins a campaign to get the government to pay attention to and help those with no hope, the ones with no pension because they were discharged and considered not wounded or at least able to get a job (but they weren’t) and with no family to return to (or family that wouldn’t take them back when they came back from the war damaged).

Again – very well written, very informative about the time in history, and a good story.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck (72/81)

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Category: Lost Book Club

From page one, the reader is clearly told that this is a fable in which "there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things and no in-between anywhere." In this parable, Kino lives with his wife Juana and son, Coyotito, living simply as a pearl diver. Coyotito is stung by a scorpion, and since Kino is poor he cannot pay for the doctor to help his boy. Then, he finds the Pearl of the World and plans on changing his life for the better, forever.

Steinbeck has a knack for describing things briefly but powerfully and memorably, an aspect of this story that I definitely enjoyed. The story is short and simple and, like any parable, has a moral to it. My recurring difficulty with Steinbeck seems to be that I am simply unhappy with what the story is, and wish he told a different one (this strikes me as a bit unfair, but it's how I react as a reader, perhaps because I find some of his writing depressing). In this case, I also had some trouble connecting with the characters. While not the story for me, I could definitely appreciate the description and would recommend it to others. 3 stars.

Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (71/81)

Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
Category: Books about Books

After writing 84, Charing Cross Road, at long last Helene Hanff's dream of going to London is going to be realized! This is her diary of that trip, in which she meets Frank Doel's wife and daughter, friends old and new, and gets to see the sights she's always wanted to see.

Her descriptions of London and the people she meets made me want to come along for the trip. She knew delightful details about literary London, places I never would have heard of otherwise but now wish I could see too. Even her disappointments are humorously, wittily expressed in this charming account. 4.5 stars.

Girl, Interrupted (70/81)

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Category: Recommended Reads

In 1967, Susanna Kaysen was diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder" and sent to McLean's in Cambridge at the age of eighteen. She stayed there for nearly two years, and in short, non-chronological vignettes describes her life there and shortly after being released.

My sister, a psych major, recommended this book to me awhile back when I asked various members of my family for book recommendations. Kaysen brings up questions of sanity that sometimes reminded me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - how do we know where the "border" is between sane and insane, especially when those definitions change over time? The disjointed narrative suited her account, but made it kind of hard for me to follow what was going on. 4 stars.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Heroes of the Valley (69/81)

Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
Category: YA/Children's (Category Completed 6/9/09)

Halli who is dark and short is unlike his family, the descendants of the hero Svein, as it is possible to be. The second son of the Arbiter is not expected to do much besides farm a bit of land while his older brother, Lief, will someday become Arbiter and his sister Gudny will make a good marriage. Halli longs for adventures like those of the twelve heroes, but all he seems to do is get in trouble.

A fun, well-told fantasy by the author of the Bartimaeus Trilogy (which I loved). I liked the characters, especially Aud and Halli. The book seems to be a standalone, but I wouldn't say no to a sequel. :-) 4.5 stars.

Everything That Rises Must Converge (67/81)

Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
Category: Lost Book Club

This is a collection of nine short stories, seven of which had been previously published, that was published posthumously. Each is well-crafted, packs an emotional punch, and develops realistic characters in approximately 20 pages. Probably my favorites were "The Enduring Chill" and "Revelation."

I hadn't read any of Flannery O'Connor's writing before this story collection. This was the one that Jacob was reading when Locke fell out of the window, and I can't help but think that (*spoiler warning*) it was a bit of foreshadowing, as most of the stories involve someone's death in the end. I'm interested in reading more of her works. 4 stars.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (44/81)

A tale of love, candy and magic to bewitch even the most skeptical reader... Twenty-seven-year-old Josey is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, shes a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mothers house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis and two parts fairy godmother. Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey's clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return shes going to change Josey's life because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee's tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding. But her life is changing faster than she knows...

Well the picture of the cover really doesn't do this book justice ....... It is soooooooo pretty .... And sparkly .......

I read this book in two sitting ....... It is a really easy read ........ And really funny in parts ..... The mean character of Josey is a rich girl who is not what people would call pretty so she is stuck in this life looking after her older mother ....... which to be honest the mother (Margaret) is a real cow !!! .......... The only thing in her life that she enjoys is watching and seeing Adam the mailman every day ........ But her life starts to change after the appearance of Della Lee who for some strange reason is living in her Closet !!! ......... The character of Chloe I loved as well and the special relationship she has with books did make me smile ........ As you read the novel it does focus alot of Relationships ....... Not only the romantic kind but also Friendships and Family .......

I found this book a very easy read and if you love your Chick Lit books you will like this one ... I am rating it 4 **** mainly because in the world of Chick Lit books it is up there .... Light, funny and a no brainer ...... which sometimes it is great to escape to that world for a while ...... It would actually really make a good wee movie ......(Hint Hint - to any production company) ... There are a few swear words in the book but that is mostly to the end of the novel other from that it is just a cute wee read ......

I rate this book 31/2 ***

Blue Moon by Scott Westerfeld (43/81)

"Bixby High's late bell shrieked in the distance, like something wounded and ready to be cut from the herd..." (from the first line)This third book of Westerfield's acclaimed series is a tale of pulse-pounding danger, electrifying power, and a race against time that may require the ultimate sacrifice.

When the dangerous, magical blue time that only happens just after midnight makes an appearance during a 9 a.m. pep rally at school, the five midnighters know that something is seriously amiss in Bixby. Born exactly at midnight, Rex, Melissa, Dess, Jonathan, and Jessica, are the only ones who know the freedom and terror that happens when the rest of the town is frozen for one hour. In the third book in the bestselling Midnighters series, the teens discover what is going on before it's too late.

The third book of this series ........ I am not a huge fan of the cover of this book at the front but what you don't see is the clock face on the spine of the book ........... When you put the three books together it makes up a clock face ........ Every cool !!! ........ Anyway I digress back to the story ...

You know things have to get a whole lot worse before they get better !!! So the Midnight hour is now starting to seep through into the daylight hours ....... Which is not good at all because it means if you are normal mortal you could just be standing in the wrong spot and get sucked into their world ........ Which take it from me ........ Not good !!!

So during the book our 5 Midnighters must find a way to stop this from happening ........ I have to say I really enjoyed this series ........ And it is a perfect read for a Young Teen ........ Scott Westerfeld wrote the Uglies Series and you all know I loved that ... well this is just the same ..... It will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning ......

I rate this book 4****

The Magician by Michael Scott (66/81)

The Magician: The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
Category: YA/Children's

If you haven't read the first book, The Alchemyst, this is a *spoiler alert* for that title.

After going through the ley gate, Nicholas, Sophie and Josh find themselves in Paris. Sophie is Awakened; Josh is not. This puts them somewhat in conflict with each other, even as they find out more about their powers and find themselves up against Machiavelli (yep, he's immortal too).

Well-paced and a fun read. Small things bugged me in this one, like the first, but I'll keep reading because I want to know what happens. 4 stars.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (65/81)

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Category: Recommended Reads

Lia's former best friend Cassie has died of unknown causes. Though the girls haven't spoken in months, Cassie called 33 times before she died - and Lia didn't pick up. But Lia can cope. She's strong. After all, she's managed to control her calorie intake and her weight for a really long time now.

Welcome to the world of an anorexic, as eighteen-year-old Lia tells you exactly what's going on in her head. "Enjoy" is definitely the wrong word for this book, but it's powerful and heart-wrenching and I couldn't put it down. Lia's first-person narration makes her story all the more immediate; as a reader, I felt for her while still being able to see her emotional and psychological downward spiral. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

Speaker for the Dead (63/81)

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Category: Audiobooks (CATEGORY COMPLETE 5/25/09)

If you haven't read the first book in this series, Ender's Game, this is a **spoiler alert** for that story.

Three thousand years after Ender defeated the Buggers, another alien group is in danger of being eradicated due to a similar misunderstanding. On Lusitania, the "piggies" are kept separate from people, except those few privileged to study their way of life while never giving away anything about human culture or technology. The peace on Lusitania is threatened, however, when one of these humans is brutally killed by the piggies. No one exactly knows why, but one of his apprentices, Novenha, knows it has something to do with information she learned. She calls for a Speaker of the Dead and Ender (who has been traveling a lot at near-light-speed and has only aged to about 29 due to the relativity of time) answers the call.

Perhaps this was not the best book to choose as an audiobook to listen to as I fell asleep, and this certainly had an impact on my enjoyment of the story. First, the particular audio version I listened to had 3 narrators, who switched off based on the point of view the narrative was coming from (it was always third person, but we see events from several different perspectives). So I had to get used to about 3 different interpretations of different people's voices. Secondly, it's a complicated story that took me about three weeks to listen to, long enough that I didn't always remember exactly what happened and didn't have the ability to flip back a few chapters and refresh my memory. Still, I would recommend it to those who had enjoyed Ender's Game and didn't mind something a little meatier. Speaker for the Dead raises ethical questions about leaving different cultures alone to preserve them, and has a lot to say about the power of speaking the truth. 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

3 Graphic Novels and the completion of a category

I've gotten a little behind on my reviews. I finished the graphic novels category this morning, and thought I'd quickly review the others in one post:

1. Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale

This hair-lassoing girl doesn't need a prince to do any rescuing for her. Once she finds out that Mother Gothel isn't her mother at all and her real mother is forced to work in the mines, Rapunzel plans her way out of the tree in which she is imprisoned. She then plots revenge on Gothel and the rescue of her mother. Along the way, other fairy tales and well-known characters emerge, re-imagined in this funny, quick read. 4 stars.

2. Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa

A young child's idyllic life is threatened by the sudden appearance of three "shadows" on horseback. His parents want to help, but don't know what to do to keep their boy safe. On a recent "Book Lust" (Nancy Pearl) podcast, her guest recommended five graphic novels to read, and this was one of them. The artwork, seemingly simple with its lines and shading, manages to convey emotion, sound, fear - and becomes an important element of the story of Joachim and his parents. 4.5 stars.

3. Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier, illustrated by Ben Templeton

If you read The Looking Glass Wars and wondered what happened to Hatter Madigan was while Alyss was in England, look no furhter than this graphic novel series. In volume 1, Hatter Madigan finds himself separated from Alyss in a strange world where Imagination is not often found. He absolutely must find Princess Alyss! Ostensibly the findings of a society, complete with historical artifacts in the back, the story is an excellent companion to the Looking Glass Wars series. The art work is well done, with blurred action sequences and dark cities during Hatter Madigan's wanderings. I look forward to reading more of his adventures. 4.5 stars.

People of the Book (61/81)

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Category: Recommended Reads

When the Sarajevo Haggadah is discovered, saved in a bank vault by the museum curator, Hanna Heath has the opportunity of a lifetime to conserve this beautiful book. The haggadah has survived against the odds, and Hanna's research gives her tantalizing glimpses of where the book has been while readers learn even more about the book's true history and the "people of the book" who impacted (and were impacted by) the amazing artifact.

This well-crafted story is the imagined history of a true artifact, a Jewish haggadah from medieval times with lovely illuminations. In an afterward, Brooks quickly writes about what is and isn't known about its history, and it's a fascinating exploration of what might have been. I love that the book itself is essentially a character and the details about conservation work. 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld (42/81)

The Midnighters of Bixby, Oklahoma, know that their town is full of secrets - especially since they keep the biggest secret of all: knowledge of the secret hour, the mysterious time at midnight when the world freezes, except for them and the creatures that inhabit the darkness. What they don't know is why earlier generations of Midnighters all disappeared, or why they are now the only Midnighters in town. As they learn more about the secret hour's twists and turns, they uncover terrifying mysteries woven into the very fabric of Bixby's history, and a conspiracy that touches both the midnight hour and the world of daylight. At the same time, the Midnighters' own secrets start to emerge, including some that were never meant to come to light, changing the fragile dynamics among the five. This time Jessica Day is not the only Midnighter in mortal danger. If the group can't find a way to overcome their differences, they could lose one of their own - forever.

Well the second installment of the Midnighters Series and this one is just as good as the first one only better :) .........

Jessica as discovered that she has a powerful gift that the Darklings do not like but she has found she can handle herself in the Blue Hour just fine ........ But now they have discovered that it is not just the Secret Hour that they need to be on their toes but also the other 24 hours as well .... Which is not good because your powers don't work in daylight hours :( .......

In this book you find out what happened to the other Midnighters and how come there is only the 5 of them left ........ Are they the only ones left after all ??????

This is a great wee series for Teens and I have to say although not a teen myself I am enjoying it ....... And I am anxious now what will happen in the last book ..........

I rate this book 4 ****

Long Day's Journey Into Night, 49/81, 2nd Round

Long Day's Journey Into Night, by Eugene O'Neill, play category

The Tyrones - mother, father, and two sons - spend a day more or less together in the country. Within the course of that day, we see all sorts of nasty little secrets that were only suggested in the first act.

This is the first O'Neill play I have read, and I have to say that I found it excellent. Not much fun, but really well done. The theme, to me, was that of excuses, excuses. The entire family has someone - someone else, that is - to blame for being the way they are. Mary blames her husband, her dead son, Edmund, life in general, not having her own house, her circumstances. Tyrone senior blames his difficult childhood, his lost chances. Both sons blame their parents. But in the end, every character admits the truth of why they are the way they are.

Every character except Mary. Despite many chances to admit the truth - she is a drug addict - she denies to the very end. And it is the difference between the men in the play, with their ultimate honesty, and Mary's self-deception that makes me angry with her and feel empathy for the others.

There is a chance, a small one, but still a chance, that Edmund will get well, that Tyrone will stop drinking, that Jamie will branch out on his own. But Mary is stuck where she is, dreaming and lying through her life.

Like I said, this wasn't exactly a fun play, but it was extremely realistic. Very well done and highly recommended.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjama's by John Doyle (41/81)

The cautionary tale is about two boys, one the son of a commandant in Hitler’s army and the other a Jew, who come face-to-face at a barbed wire fence that separates, and eventually intertwines their lives.

Set during the Holocaust, Bruno is only nine-years-old when his father, a commandant in Hitler’s army, is transferred from Berlin to Auschwitz. The house at “Out-With,” as Bruno calls it, is small, dark, and strange. He spends long days gazing out the window of his new bedroom, where he notices people dressed in striped pajamas and rows of barracks surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Bored and lonely, and not really understanding the circumstance of his new existence, Bruno sets out to explore the area and discovers Shmuel, a very thin Jewish boy who lives on the other side of the fence. An unlikely friendship develops between the two boys, but when Bruno learns that his mother plans to take her children back to Berlin, he makes a last effort to explore the forbidden territory where the boy in the striped pajamas lives.

This is as a book club that we all decided to read ...... And I thought it was a good read ... It is definitely a Young Adult book as it is told from a nine years old perspective ....

It is a very easy read ....... And you could easily finish it in one sitting as it is also large print .... I loved the concept of the story being told from a child's view .... Very clever ... The way that he calls the place "Out-With" and also the name he calls the leader "Fury".

It did me reflect on how Innocent Bruno is ......... And how much responsible that we have as parents to teach our children correct principles because what we say and teach them is how they view the world ......

There is just enough of sadness in the book to reflect the awful circumstances that surround the two boys ....... My only complaint with the book is that if the reader doesn't have a knowledge of what happened in these camps you cannot really grasp what is occurring in the story .... I think this may be one of the rare occasions that a visual movie would capture the story better ...... And probably in my case cry the whole way through the movie ........

I enjoyed the book and like I said before it would be good for a young reader .... But you would have to have a good discussion about the book and the context to make sure that they understood what was happening ... But felt that The Book Thief was more sensitive to the victims of the Holocaust and War times ...... As it gives a more graphic and realistic description of what actually happens at war times ....

I rate this book 4****

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tide, Feather, Snow by Miranda Weiss, 15/81

In the late 1990s Miranda Weiss moved from the continental US to Homer, Alaska. This memoir chronicles Weiss's first two years in Alaska, her relationship to the land, her boyfriend, and the difficult decision of whether to stay in Alaska. Weiss had always been fascinated with Alaska, and she had worked in the wilderness before, in remote areas of national parks. But none of this prepared her for the realities of Alaska. In this memoir Weiss weaves together discussion of the natural wonders and dangers of Alaska along with her own experiences of her new life. The dramatic tides, salmon migrations, and persistent dark of winter all make for more interesting writing than one might expect of a memoir that is heavily focused on climate and weather conditions. For those of us in the lower forty-eight, some of the conditions in Alaska are likely shocking. Weiss knew more than a few people who lived without running water and indoor toilets by choice. Weiss had to ski a half-mile to and from her car in the dead of winter, donning a headlamp. Most of us can't imagine this sort of life- I surely could not. Weiss also discusses the attitudes and assumptions of Alaskans- putting high premiums on time resided in the state. Alaska has always had a reputation as the last frontier, and Weiss's memoir proves that it is just as susceptible to the sort of mythology that has characterized other American frontiers. Perhaps significant is the myth of self-sufficiency. Weiss notes that a desire for simpler lives and self-sufficiency has drawn many to Alaska, but Alaska also has more federal government involvement than just about any other state, likewise, the resettlement of Americans from other states in Alaska means that record amounts of supplies have to be flown in to the state. The contradictions are interesting, and Weiss is clearly attuned to them. It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but it ultimately drew me in. I knew very little of Alaska and I found Weiss's descriptions engaging. She does an excellent job of conveying the extremes and dangers that shape everyday life in Alaska.

Miranda Weiss, Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaska (Harper, 2009) ISBN: 0061710253

Category: Memoirs 1/9, 15/81

Prague in Black and Gold: Scenes From the Life of a European City by Peter Demetz


Category: Around the World 

Very informative book. I like how the author divided and explained these "scenes" from the long life of a city. Some of my favorite bits dealt with the origin myth and how it has effected Prague by starting out with a ruling class of women, or gynocracy with the three daughters of Krok. The three sisters were very impressive with their gifts and the youngest, Libussa, with her way of dealing out justice with compassion rather than an iron will, even if one dissatisfied man decided to shout "long hair short minds" throughout the hills. The maidens war was another example of the earlier gender conflicts that showed women as fierce and wanting respect. 
The latter chapters dealing with important emperors, noblemen, artists, and intellectuals is filled with research and clearly written by a man who as his heart and soul tied into his hometown.Prague has proven time and again throughout history to be ever-changing in it's tolerance and forever being strongly influenced many religions including Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism, and Moor traditions, let alone ethnic and political influences. It is no doubt a town of magic and strength. Some of my favorite chapters were "Mozart in Prague" and "Prague in the Carolinium Era" My excitement to visit this city has only grown through reading this book. I also appreciate the author's helpful hints for pronouncing the complicated Czech language even though I am still at a loss for pronouncing many of the person and place names.

One more favorite tidbit: I learned the origin of the Czech tongue twister that contains no vowels.... 
the line translates as "stick your finger through your throat" written in Czech as "Strc prst skrz krk." As explained in the book this twister comes from a novel entitled "The Witch of Prague" and was actually used by a woman flirting and showing of her bewitching language skills to a foreigner who indeed becomes enamored with her.Quote-right

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Tree of Man, 47/81, 2nd Round.

The Tree of Man by Patrick White, global reading category

Wow, what a chunk of a book! 499 pages. And I don't know why that feels so big, as I have read some for the challenge that were even bigger, but it just felt like a really big book.

The book is all about an Australian couple, Stan and Amy Parker. It is sort of an epic, a great Australian novel, as it were. They build a home, work on their farm, raise cows, have a couple of kids, survive a flood and a fire, meet the neighbors. Stan goes off to war. Their son turns out to be a weak criminal type; their daughter a social climber. They both get old. Stan dies.

And believe it or not, that is really the whole book. Why did it take 499 pages? I'm not entirely sure. It's certainly not because of the dialogue. Both Stan and Amy are taciturn by nature.

Perhaps this is White's way of portraying the basic honest type of person who is always at the heart of a thriving nation. The Parkers are not every anyone special. But their lives are still important.

I didn't really love this book, but I did enjoy the style. I'm not sure if it's the writer or because he was Australian, but there are just small differences in the way the story is told. I had to read it a little more carefully, because he says so much without saying it straight out. So much of the story is implied in just a few words, which means the reader has to extrapolate and decipher the littlest clue.

I don't know if I will read more by this author or not, but this was certainly a change from what I normally read.

The Blue Notebook by James Levine, 14/81

This is a deeply sad book, and an engrossing book too. The story of a child prostitute in Mumbai, Bartuk was sold into slavery by her father, and taken from her family's countryside home to Mumbai's red light district. On the 'Common Street' that becomes Bartuk's home, the children are kept in cages barely large enough for movement. They are given barely enough food to sustain life. Most horrifically, they are expected to have sex with a dozen or so men every night. It is difficult to overstate the horrors of the Common Street, and Bartuk escapes the horrors of her life by writing in her diary, a blue notebook she must keep hidden. It would be easy to become engrossed in this book merely because of the shock value. Certainly the conditions are horrific, more so because Bartuk and her friends are composite characters based on children Levine met during travels in Mumbai. But there is more literary merit to this novel than just shock, and Levine has produced a compelling protagonist and engaging plot. Bartuk's writing and quick mind sometimes disguise her youth, but the reader is constantly reminded of her age by the series of euphemisms she has developed to refer to anatomy and sexual activity. The reader is intimately aware of the precariousness of Bartuk's situation, and one in which the reader is given no definitive ending. This seems appropriate, as Bartuk's life is so precarious, so too is her fate. This novel is not just a work of literature, it is also a call to action. Bartuk is only one of many, and the author makes clear his intention to donate proceeds to children's charities. Levine has crafted a moving and unforgettable character; her story is one that will not easily be forgotten.

James Levine, The Blue Notebook (Spiegel & Grau, 2009) ISBN: 038552871X

Category: Published in 2009, 1/9, 14/81

Saturday, June 13, 2009

American Gospel, 44/81, 2nd Round

American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of the Nation, by John Mecham, non-fiction category

I went to a discussion group last year where we talked about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and religion. I wish I had read this book before going, because I would have been more able to defend my case. This book examines the true religious principles that guided the writing of the Constitution.

The basic idea of the book is that religious freedom has always been important in the history of America. The Founding Fathers did not want to eliminate God, or Providence as they often referred to him, completely from public life, but that they felt it best to leave the matter as open as possible, so that each person could define that Providence however they wished. They also designed the Constitution and the Republic to make it more difficult for minorities to control the whole, but also so that they would also be protected.

Meacham does a great job in this book. I found it extremely readable, and certainly relevant. The book is not very long, but it has over 100 pages of appendix, including source notes, bibliography, and selected documents that he quotes in the book. The only thing it lacked was an index, which I would have appreciated.

Still, such a great book. Here is my favorite quote:

"Democracy is easy; republicanism is hard. Democracy is fueled by passion; republicanism is founded on moderation. Democracy is loud, raucous, disorderly; republicanism is quiet, cool, judicious--and that we still live in its light is the Founders' most wondrous deed."

Lysistrata 45/81, 2nd Round

Lysistrata by Aristophanes, play category

The basic plot behind this book is pretty well known. The Greek women get tired of war and decide force a peace treaty. Their weapon of choice is sex - they will withhold intimacy from their men until the men agree to call off the war.

As might be expected, the dialogue is pretty full of innuendo and at time explicit reference to sex. There are lots of jokes about it. I'm not sure how this would be staged in today's world.

I was fine with that. What bothered me was the translation. For instance, apparently the Spartans had an accent that marked them out from the Athenians. The translator chose to interpret that as a country hick accent. Then there was the attempt to make the dialogue modern and hip, which is of course, at least 20 years out of date.

Not a bad play, although the whole idea shouldn't have taken as long as it did to stage. One act would have been enough. But if you want to read it, find a different translation. This one was done by William Arrowsmith and it is really jarring to read.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Still Life, 41/81, 2nd Round

Still Life by Louise Penny, global reading category

Inspector Gamache of the Surete de Quebec arrives in a small town to investigate the death of a well-liked old lady. She has been found shot with an arrow. Was it accident or murder? There don't seem to be many suspects, but as he digs a little deeper, he uncovers lots of secrets in the little town.

I haven't read much in Canadian mysteries, so I was happy to hear about this one. I enjoyed the look at the little town, at Quebec life, at the language, and at the police force. Gamache is saddled with a rookie who just can't seem to learn from her mistakes. I found that little dynamic pretty funny. And I loved the characters.

This one was really well done. I thought I knew where the story was heading, but I was wrong. I just found out that there are 2 more in the series, and I am looking forward to reading them as well.

The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld (40/81)

Strange things happen at midnight in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma. Time freezes. Nobody moves. For one secret hour each night, the town belongs to the dark creatures that haunt the shadows. Only a small group of people know about the secret hour - only they are free to move about the midnight time. These people call themselves Midnighters. Each one has a different power that is strongest at midnight: Seer, Mindcaster, Acrobat, Polymath. For years the Midnighters and the dark creatures have shared the secret hour, uneasily avoiding one another. All that changes when the new girl with an unmistakable midnight aura appears at Bixby High School.Jessica Day is not an outsider like the other Midnighters. She acts perfectly normal in every way. But it soon becomes clear that the dark creatures sense a hidden power in Jessica . . . and they're determined to stop her before she can use it.

Well I enjoyed the Uglies Series so much that I thought I would give this Trilogy a whirl .... This is book one of the Midnighters Series ....

What would you do if you managed to have an extra hour in the day ....... You are among a special group of people that can walk around in this hour while everyone else is frozen in the moment ........ Sounds great until you find out that there are creatures that come alive in this special hour at midnight that are trying to Kill you .... It sort of takes the buzz away !!!

I enjoyed this first novel ... And it stopped in a way that I am just itching to pick up the next book .... This would be classed as a Young Teen Read with really like able characters in Dess, Rex,Mel, Jonathan and Jessica the new girl in town ......

Can Jessica find out why the Darklings want her so much ........ And why is the small town of Bixby so strange !! A great new Fantasy Novel .....

A rate this book 4 ****

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies
Brad Meltzer
Grand Central Publishing
mmp June 2009
432 pages

from the back: "In chapter four of the Bible, Cain kills Abel. It is the world's most famous murder. But the Bible is silent about one key detail: the weapon Cain used to kill his brother. That weapon is still lost to history.

In 1932, Mitchell Seagel was killed by gunshots. While mourning, his son dreamed of a bulletproff man and created Superman. The gun used in this unsolved murder has never been found. Until now. Today in fort Lauderdale, a young man named Cal Harper encounters his long-missing father--who has been shot with the same gun that kidded Siegel. But soon after their reunion, Cal and his dad are attacked by a killer tattooed with the ancient markings of Cain. What does Cain, history's greatest villain, have to do with Superman, the world's greatest hero? And what do two murder, committed thousands of years apart, have in common?"

This is my first Brad Meltzer book. Picked up for the cover, purchased because it sounded interesting but it would have gone on my library list if I didn't need a "New to You Author" book. I wasn't sure how quick I could get it at the library or if I'd feel like reading it when it came....

Normally, I can get into a book and finish quickly, even with other stuff going on. This one was different. Not because it was bad, but because it has that so-scary-it-could-be-real feel to it. All the characters were alive to me and I needed to take breaks to get them out of my head. Surprises and twists kept me guessing and I'm extremely glad I kept reading, the ending was fantastic and not rushed, leaving us just enough unanswered questions to wonder about. I inhaled the last third, without even potty breaks :)

5 stars

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (39/81)

A new Sookie Stackhouse book is always a treat! Sookie is a sexy, sassy cocktail waitress who works at Merlotte's Bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She's just a regular gal, with all the normal hopes and fears, about dating, boys and life in general - oh, and she's telepathic. And her boyfriends have included Vampire Bill, her first love and the were-tiger Quinn. And Bon Temps is a pretty normal rural town, where murders are mercifully rare. Well, maybe not that rare, as Sookie keeps finding out in this award-winning, New York Times bestselling series!

This is book 9 in the Sookie Stackhouse series and I don't know what I am going to do because it is the last one for the present :( ............ I loved this book especially the relationship between Sookie and Eric really funny at times ... Now that the vampires have come out to the world it is time for the rest of the supernatural crowd to come out .... But is the world ready to handle that .......... Sookie has clocked up alot of favours over the past while and it is now time to call them in as someone is out to get her again !!!

The usual crowd are all in the book ... Werewolves, Vampires, Werepanthers,Witches, Shape shifters, Demons and of course Fairies .......... I really loved this series and one that I will be reading again soon :) ......... It is an easy read with lots of dangers and funny moments .... So if you love your fantasy you will love this series ........

I rate this book 41/2 ****

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Worst Hard Time, 35/81, 2nd Round

The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, non-fiction category

Having lived in Oklahoma during my high school years and traveled across the state often on my way to visit grandparents, I have seen a lot of the country covered in this heartbreaking story of the Dust Bowl. That may be one of the reasons why I picked up this book. The other reason, of course, is that so many other LT people were reading it and recommending it.

I had learned a little bit of the history of this time in school, including learning about Roosevelt's New Deal economics and how it affected farmers. But I have to admit that I didn't really understand what caused the terrible storms until I read this. Living in a dry country myself, I can see how hard it would be to try and get a living from the soil without rain. But here I have the mountains to break up the wind. Out on the prairies, there's nothing for miles and miles, and the wind just goes on and on. Without that grass to hold onto the dirt, it will just fly away. And the pressures on the farmers to plow more and more land left them with no understanding of why soil conservation is critical to keeping a nation from going hungry.

The stories told and the writing were indeed remarkable. I really got the feeling of how desperate a time it must have been. And those black and white photos of the storms and the dust they left behind were amazing.

But I didn't really enjoy this book. Maybe that was BECAUSE it was so well written, that I found it extremely depressing. Great, another story of how the dust killed off the cattle, the children, the land itself. It was a little more than I could imagine at times.

I think this might have been a case of right book, wrong time. I have so much going on in my life right now that I'm just not up to major drama and heartbreak in my book too.

Watership Down, 36/81, 2nd Round

Watership Down, by Richard Adams, reread category

Hazel, his brother Fiver, and some other rabbits set off to find a new place to live. Along the way, they encounter challenges they never expected and prove to be resourceful and brave.

For many folks, they have to wonder how good a book about rabbits could really be. But to paraphrase Lance Armstrong, it's not about the bunny. This is about a quest to find a safe place to call home.

From the preface, it seems that Adams was a little tired of being pressed to explain "what it all means." It started out as a children's story about rabbits. But whether he intended it that way or not, it became much more.

This is still one of my favorite stories. I love Hazel, the leader in spite of himself, who inspires his group by his compassion and common sense. I love Bigwig, tough and brave, but willing to learn something new. I love Dandelion and Blackberry, and they way the help their friends and never give up.

This time around, I especially loved the ending, when Hazel goes on to his reward. Just a great book. And if all you see in it is a story about some bunnies, that's okay with me. But to me it means a lot more.

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris (38/81)

The supernatural community in Bon Temps, Louisiana is reeling from two hard blows: the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and the manmade horror of the explosion at the vampire summit in the up-north city of Rhodes. Sookie Stackhouse is safe but dazed, and she's yearning for things to get back to normal. But that's just not happening. Too many vampires - some friends, some not - were killed or injured, and her were-tiger boyfriend Quinn is among the missing. It's clear that things are changing, whether the weres and vamps like it or not. And Sookie, Friend to the Pack, blood-bonded to the leader of the local vampire community, is caught up in those changes. She's about to find herself facing danger and death and, not for the first time, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood has stopped flowing, Sookie's world will be forever altered ...

Book 8 in the Sookie Stackhouse Series and everyone is trying to recover from the Vampire Conference ...... Who managed to stay alive ........ Where has Quinn gone and will Sookie wait for him?? ....... I have to say I loved this book another one of my favourites :) ....... Sookie learns that she is not alone in the world but she does have family after all just not your typical human family :) ........

Some strange new Vampires make an appearance which doesn't go down to well ...... What do they want !!! And will Amelia be able to change Bob back ???? ( Yes Mormons do get a mention !!!)

I read this book in a few hours just had to know what was going to happen and I am excited to read the next installment !!! So if you love your Fantasy books you definitely have to read this series !!!

I rate this book 4 1/2 ****

All together Dead by Charlaine Harris (37/81)

Sookie's beginning to get used to being surrounded by all varieties of undead, changeling, shapeshifting and other supernatural beings - but even she has her limits. She'd really like to take a while to get over being betrayed by Bill, her long-time vampire lover, and get used to her new relationship with the sexy shapeshifter Quinn - but instead, she finds herself attending the long-planned vampire summit, the destination of choice for every undead power player around, as a sort-of human 'Geiger counter' for Sophie-Anne Leclerq, vampire queen of Louisiana. But the job is fraught with difficulties. Sophie-Anne's power base has been severely weakened by Hurricane Katrina, and she's about to be put on trial during the event for murdering her king. Sookie knows the queen is innocent, but she's hardly prepared for other shocking murders: it looks like there are some vamps who would like to finish what nature started. With secret alliances and backroom deals the order of the day - and night - Sookie must decide which side she'll stand with, and quickly, for her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

This is book 7 in the Sookie Stackhouse Series and we find Sookie attending a Vampire Conference ..... She also finds herself getting closer to Eric the Viking Vampire .... She has been assigned to help the Queen Sophie-Anne with up and coming trial .... But as always it is dangerous being a human so close to a world of Vampires !!!

You have to feel sorry for Sookie because she always finds herself in situations that really aren't her fault ...... But I enjoyed this book it was fast paced and kept me guessing on who was trying to out play who !!!

As always you can read this book without reading the rest but it makes more sense if you start from the beginning ....

I rate this book 4 ****

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris (36/81)

Sookie doesn't have that many relations, so she hated to lose one - but of all the people to go, she didn't expect it to be her cousin Hadley, a consort of New Orleans' vampire queen - after all, Hadley was technically already dead. But she is gone, beyond recall and she's left Sookie an inheritance - one that comes with a bit of a risk - not least because someone doesn't want Sookie digging too deep into Hadley's past - or her possessions. Sookie's life is once again on the line and this time the suspects range from the rogue werewolves who have rejected Sookie as a friend of the pack to her first love, the vampire Bill. Sookie's got a lot to do if she's going to keep herself alive

Book 6 in the Sookie Stackhouse Series and we find that once again Sookie is getting herself into trouble .......

I found it a little confusing at the start with the mention of Hadley her cousin as there really isn't alot of mention of her in the other books and I thought I had maybe overlooked a book somewhere .... But after a few pages you get to know what is going on .... Sookie is summoned to the Royal Court to see the Queen with a new man/tiger in tow .... Hot on her heels are the Werewolves looking for some answers ..... And we find out Bill's true intentions .....

Will she manage to escape getting injured in this novel .... I think not !!! Again good story line with all your favourite characters ...

I rate this book ****

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris (35/81)

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in a little bar in a small town deep in Louisiana. She's funny and pretty and well-mannered, but she doesn't have that many close friends - mind you, that's not so surprising when you consider how few people can appreciate her abilities as a mind-reader. It's not a quality that has the guys beating down her door - well, unless they're vampires or werewolves or the like . . . but they're not just supernatural freaks, some of them are friends, even family . . .

And much as Sookie might want a quiet life, when she's around, things just seem to happen . . . like her brother, who appears to be changing into a were-panther. He's not that bothered, but someone doesn't like it - someone's trying to wipe him out, as well as the rest of the shape-changing population, and that mean's Sookie's got just a month, before the next full moon, to find out who wants her brother dead, and stop the fiend.

Book Number #5 in the Sookie Stackhouse series and I really enjoyed this one as well ... Poor Jason is turning into a were-panther and Sookie as always is getting caught up into their world .... And it doesn't help when you have killed a Were yourself ......

Your favourite characters are here with Eric the cheeky viking vampire ... Your hunky Were-wolf Alcide ..... All wanting you to do favours for them .... You just know Sookie is going to end up in the trouble .... and it doesn't help when there is a sniper out there shooting your friends .......

Good story line and I am loving this series !!! So if you loved the last load of books you are going to love this one !!!

I rate this book 4****

Silks, 29/81, 2nd Round

Silks by Dick Francis, found at the library category

Although there are horses and races in the latest Dick Francis book, it's more of a courtroom drama than a book about racing. His hero, Geoffrey Mason, aka as Perry, is a barrister and an amateur jockey. When one of the professionals is arrested for murdering a colleague, Mason's worlds collide with all the explosion of a train wreck.

I enjoyed this one. I like courtroom book, so that part was fun. And Mason is a likable character too. I'm glad to see another book by Francis.