Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Since not everyone is directly posting their reviews to this blog, I'm going to link to everyone's wrap-up post so that you can see all the reviews. When you post a wrap-up, leave a comment here. If you already commented above, you don't need to again.
Tiny Librarian's Wrap-Up
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I read 1 through 7 of the Women's Murder Mystery Series by James Patterson in addition to the previously mentioned Three Cups of Tea.
The last one on the list was Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie. I am moving to Fairbanks, AK in a month and this was part of my purchases when I was up there in June. It's the amazing story and journals of Margaret Murie, one of the women pioneer's in the world of conserving the great outdoors for all to enjoy. She moved to Fairbanks when she was 9 and spent a large portion of her life in Alaska before moving to Wyoming where she and her husband continued to work for the national conservatory group.
Two in the Far North tells the tale of Murie's young years growing up but also her travels with her naturalist/biologist husband through the then unchartered lands of Alaska, tracking caribou and geese. They even took their newborn son on one said research trip. Truly an amazing adventure capturing the heart and soul of Alaska.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Here's what I read (only one of which was on my original list):
Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear by Sharon Dunn
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss
24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley
My First Year as a Teacher by Pearl Rock Kane
When We Were Six by A.A. Milne
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Fav Book: My First Year as a Teacher by Pearl Rock Kane
Least Fav: When We Were Six by A.A. Milne
Reviews can be found here.
Summary: When a man turns up dead in a teddy bear costume, Ginger and the other ladies of the Bargain Hunters Network learn a lesson about trusting in God rather than in wealth as they try to solve the crime and clear one of their own. First of all, I gotta say, that when I got the offer to review this book, I had a good laugh. After all, how often is it do hear a book title like this one? There was no way I could say no to this one, I just HAD to know what it was all about. I’m sure glad I did say yes because I relished every moment I was reading this book. It’s not too often you have such humour mixed in with a murder mystery. I could definitely see the two being mixed in such a way that detracts from the book but Sharon Dunn put them together spectacuarly. The whole idea of a Squirrel Convention is hilarious and at first glance you assume the author made it up for the book. However this is not the case. Well I don’t know if there has ever been a Squirrel Convention per say but there is at least one Squirrel Lover’s Club, from which Sharon Dunn got some information on Squirrels. The book cover is splendid to look at. It succeeds in catching the eye (although the title alone would do that too.) I didn’t guess whodunnit which is the mark of a good mystery. It’s no fun if you figure it out halfway through the book. However unlike some mystery books, all the clues are methodically explained so you can try to figure it out for yourself. The characters were likable and real, you could truly see them as real people. There is a wide range of ages amongs the characters which you don’t usually see and was a pleasant surprise. The book is what I consider Christian Fiction Light, Christian Fiction that is acceptable reading for a non Christian as well. I definitely want to read the first book in the Series (Death of a Garage Sale Newbie) and however many more are to come.
Illustrated by: Rosemary Woods This is an awesome children’s non-fiction book about the Earth’s water. It covers such topics as how all the oceans, rivers and ponds are connected and how the water we have know is the same water that’s always been on the Earth, even billions of years ago. How water is used and how much the average person uses in different countries is covered too. At the end is talk about why it’s important to conserve water and how to go about it. I knew most of this information but learned a few new things. For example, I knew water was used in production when cooling or heating objects or washing the parts. However I never imagined how much water was used in various ways to make objects. Did you know that about 147 000L (38 800 U.S. gal.) of water is needed to make a car? Or that about 5200 L (1375 U.S. gal) of water is needed just to make one fast food lunch (burger, fries and soda)? The format of the book was easy to follow and kept my attention and the illustrations were wonderful. I enjoy books that show an overhead view of a large area. The more detail the better. It’s nice to have to really study a picture to see everything in it.
I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to children ages 10 and up who either want to learn more about water or who need information on it for school.
Stars: **** I read this book for the Numbers challenge.I stumbled across this book while searching for books through my library catalogue. I’m glad I did, it’s a great teen book. Summary: “So when his friends take it upon themselves to get him a date to the prom by placing an intensely humiliating ad in the school paper, they think they are doing him a favor. Jack doesn’t agree. But then the most amazing thing happens: Responses to the ad are overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that Jack must narrow the list down. A lot. Not an easy task. Turns out, the girls at City High are quite the competitive bunch. From drive-by-flashings to breaking and entering to cell phone stalkers, these potential prom dates will stop at nothing to snag the suddenly popular Jack. How will he ever choose just one?” While it’s obvious the book is hilarious, it also has a serious side with a great lesson for all involved. This book would fall in the Honesty is the Best Policy lesson area.
Stars: ***** I REALLY enjoyed this book. I have always wanted to be a teacher except that I don’t agree with almost everything in the school system. However I love reading about teaching and learning new things so that I can attempt to homeschool my children. This book is an anthology of short stories from teachers all across the U.S.A. telling what they remember most from their first year of teaching and what they learned. Some of the stories are about one specific student or incident and some of the stories cover many little things that span the whole first year. All but one gave really great advice and I am interested in checking out another book from the My First Year series titled My First Year as a Doctor. If you are a teacher or are thinking about being a teacher, I recommend this book.
Stars: *** I'm reading this a little out of order since I haven't yet read When We Were Very Young but I needed a book with a number in it. As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of poetry and while there were quite a few cute ones in this book, most weren't that great and one or two were really boring and confusing. You can tell for the most part that the poetry wasn't written recently. If you like children's poetry, you will like this better than I did.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
My books were:
1. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
2. Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham
3. One of those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
4. 21 Proms by various authors
5. Second Chance by Jane Green
Well, I gave 2 of them 4 stars - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and One Of Those Hideous Books... I'd say my top fave was the Detective Agency because I found it really charming and it brought back my faith in McCall Smith (the last couple of his I'd read hadn't wowed me as much as 44 Scotland Street).
Least favourite book?
I gave the other ones all 3 stars, so none of them were bad books. I'd say it was probably 21 Proms just because I'm not really that big a fan of short stories, but I don't regret reading it.
Friday, July 18, 2008
My review of British chick lit author Jane Green's Second Chance is here.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
"The Hawthorne House was once known for its remarkable success rate with autistic children. Now, fifteen years after it closed former residents have returned to Hawthorne House for their first-ever reunion. But the gala event turns into a bloody nightmare when the House's revered founder, Dr. Jay Schermerhorn, is found tortured to death in the mansion's basement.
Schermerhorn had enjoyed a worldwide reputation for his innovative methods and compassionate treatment of autistic children. How could anyone have hated him enough to kill him? As Chicago detectives probe deeply into the history of Hawthorne House, a troubling picture emerges-of a man who inspired both fear and hatred in the children and families who came to him for help."
This book was a good police procedural with an emphasis on the wide spectrum of autism behaviors. I liked how the point of view switched from former patient Jeffery Clifford who has developed ways of coping with the world to detective Emily Folkestone who learns about how autistic people behave.
Date read: 6/1/2008
No. of pages: 386
"In this passionate and haunting tale of obsession, endurance, courage and love, Clare Dudman imaginatively re-creates the life of the German scientist Alfred Wegener, whose theory of continental drift--derided and discredited by his contemporaries--would eventually revolutionize our perception of the world.
From the moment he nearly drowns in an icy Berlin canal in 1883 at the age of three, Alfred Wegener's irresistible urge to discover the unknown takes him on an extraordinary quest. Record-breaking flights in hydrogen balloons, several lengthy expeditions across the unexplored and treacherous ice of Greenland, the searing horrors of trench warfare in the First World War all form part of a restless search for truth, knowledge and the meaning of love. Wegener's keen powers of observation and his theories on everything from the flow of ice to the formation of raindrops eventually coalesce into his controversial theory of continental drift, which he struggled his whole life to defend.
Distinguished by Clare Dudman's lyrical evocation of the unforgiving beauty of the Arctic, One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead is the beautifully written story of one man's unshakable belief in an idea and the remarkable woman whose strength and devotion allowed him to pursue all his dreams. "
Seen through the eyes of Alfred Wegener, this book about his life mixed both poetry and science. I liked learning about Wegener's expeditions in Greenland and about his trying to convince the scientific community about continental drift.
Date read: 5/15/2008
No. of pages: 401
"In this stirring book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence -- when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King's men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.
Here also is the Revolution as experienced by American Loyalists, Hessian mercenaries, politicians, preachers, traitors, spies, men and women of all kinds caught in the paths of war.
At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books -- Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of winter.
But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost -- Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.
The book begins in London on October 26, 1775, when His Majesty King George III went before Parliament to declare America in rebellion and to affirm his resolve to crush it. From there the story moves to the Siege of Boston and its astonishing outcome, then to New York, where British ships and British troops appear in numbers never imagined and the newly proclaimed Continental Army confronts the enemy for the first time. David McCullough's vivid rendering of the Battle of Brooklyn and the daring American escape that followed is a part of the book few readers will ever forget.
As the crucial weeks pass, defeat follows defeat, and in the long retreat across New Jersey, all hope seems gone, until Washington launches the "brilliant stroke" that will change history.
The darkest hours of that tumultuous year were as dark as any Americans have known. Especially in our own tumultuous time, 1776 is powerful testimony to how much is owed to a rare few in that brave founding epoch, and what a miracle it was that things turned out as they did.
Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough's 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history."
This book is a very informative look at a single year in American history. I liked learning about the British and Loyalist point of view as well as the problems Washington had in keeping the army together. The portraits, letters and the maps also add to the experience.
Date read: 5/13/2008
No. of pages: 294
"Plunging into a burning townhouse, Detective Lindsay Boxer discovers three dead bodies...and a mysterious message at the scene. When more corpses turn up, Lindsay asks her friends Claire Washburn of the medical examiners office, Assistant D.A. Jill Bernhardt, and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas to help her find a murderer who vows to kill every three days. Even more terrifying, he has targeted one of the four friends. Which one will it be?"
This was a good suspenseful mystery as Lindsay and her friends try to figure out who the murderer is before the next victim dies. I liked the characters and the plot and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, 4th of July.
Date read: 4/27/2008
No. of pages: 339
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
This book takes place in Nanjing the year leading up to the infamous massacre by the Japanese in 1937. The story is about Ding Wenyu, a womanizing professor of foreign languages. He is a immensely popular professor who does not abide by any rule of either etiquette or common sense. He is invited to the wedding of one of his colleague's and falls head over heels in love with the bride, Ren Yuyuan. He starts by sending daily love letters to her. She at first is embarrassed and does not know how to handle the undeserved attention. Ren's marriage to a arrogant philandering pilot has problems from the start.
The urgency of the love because of the environment gets more and more tense at the invasion draws nearer.
There is a tremendous amount of detail in this book. The author describes this year in amazing attention to detail. The amount of research done was phenomenal. The Chinese politics and attitudes are described.
I found this book intriguing but difficult to read. First the romance was a little farcical. This may be the Chinese style. The book read like a history book at times instead of a historical fiction. I do not know whether this is because of the amount of detail in the book or because of the translation
Monday, May 26, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I have a more detailed review posted up at my blog.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We’re introduced to Justine Bennett, the Guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth, and Derek LaValle, who is cursed to die on his 32nd birthday. His only solution…kill the guardian and the curse will be lifted.
I have a more detailed review posted up at my blog.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Honestly, I love this series. I think I'm going to unpack Halfway to the Grave, just so I can read both of these novels again, back to back.
I have a more detailed review posted up at my blog.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"While reporting a story from India, New York journalist Patrick Wallingford inadvertently becomes his own headline when his left hand is eaten by a lion. In Boston, a renowned surgeon eagerly awaits the opportunity to perform the nation’s first hand transplant. But what if the donor’s widow demands visitation rights with the hand? In answering this unexpected question, John Irving has written a novel that is by turns brilliantly comic and emotionally moving, offering a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to change." -- from the back cover
This book started with a touch of quirky humor but over time changed into a serious love story. I liked how Patrick learns about true love and compassion as he tries to win Doris' heart. I also found the insight into television news coverage informative.
Date read: 3/22/2008
No. of pages: 313
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Author: Jeffrey Archer
At one time, I used to read Jeffrey Archer like crazy. I do like the way he writes. I won't call those masterpieces, nonetheless, his books hold interest.
Twelve Red Herrings is a collection of short stories. As the name suggests, there are twelve stories, each with a read herring. It is left on the reader whether he can find that out opr not. The stories can all go in a numerous way. Archer has given great endings. But the reader can interprete those in his own way too. The last story has four different endings. All to be read in order.
Trial and error has the jury foxed, Cheap at Half Price has a woman getting a diamond necklace fooling two men, Dougie Mortimer's Right Arm is about losing a winning sports for money. Do Not Pass Go is about an Iraqi who is hunted by Sadam Hussain. Chunnel Vision is about novel writing and trying to find a great ending for that. Shoeshine Boy is about a Governer-General and visit by Mountbatten as a dignitary. You'll Never Live to Regret It is about Insurance payout. Never Stop On the Motorway has a suspence which can be called nail-biting. Not for Sale is about a girl who wants to be a well- known artist. Timeo Danaos is a story about a penny pinching banker. An Eye For An Eye is about a woman accused for her husband's murder. One Man's Meat has four different takes, to be read in the order it is given.
I liked all but my favourites are Do Pass Let Go and Never Stop on the Motor Way. This book is worth reading. I did like the stories and had a whale of a time imagining different endings. I could discover few odf the Red Herrings. You go ahead and try finding those!
Short stories are good to read as one can simply pick and choose, not following any particular order. As I am kind of busy packing as I move to a new house next week, this book suited me fine!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
One of those hideous books where the mother dies by Sonya Sones
This one loses a star only because the truth about Ruby's dad and some of the other events (I won't spoil it) are predictable. But even that doesn't detract much from the greatness of the book, which is a well done cross between a (non-hideous) teen angst book and a fish-out-of-water story.
(Cross-posted on my blog.)
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Olivia Lockhart, a judge in Cedar Cove, Washington, lives at 16 Lighthouse Road. This book revolves around Olivia and all those in her life including: her mother, her children, her friends, her ex, her new male friend, and the people she presides over on the bench. AND, there are offshoots from the people already mentioned. So, there is a mega amount of characters all sharing the drama in their lives.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Pub. Date: June 2006
Sales Rank: 270
Series: Women's Murder Club Series, #4
Edition Description: Reprint
Pub. Date: January 2007
Sales Rank: 12
Edition Description: Reprint
Overall, the story was good. The characters were engaging and they made you want to continue reading. I've been in a reading slump for the past couple of weeks, but I never felt like I wanted to put the book down. I started this book last night and I finished it within a day. I probably won't go out and buy these books, but I will be checking out the rest of the series from my library.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
by James Patterson
First Line: Aaron Winslow would never forget the next few minutes.
This was another great one from James Patterson! This one read so incredibly fast and was a great read!! I still do not know why I waited so long to start this series, but am definitely glad that I'm reading them now!!
Finishing this book also completes the Numbers Challenge. (My first finished challenge! Yay! - I'll post a end-of-challenge round-up post shortly).
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Title: Half of a Yellow Sun
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, a divison of Randon House
I have had this book since September 2007. I just never got around reading it. And after finishing it today, I ask myself why didn't I read it sooner?
Half of a Yellow Sun is a very well written book. It captures the reader's mind as soon as he/she starts reading it.
The story starts with 13 years old boy Ugwu, from the nearby village, being employed as a houseboy for University professor Odenigbo, who is filled with revolutionary zeal. Ugwu calls him master and fascinated by the numerous books in master's house. He is not treated as a servant. Rather his master sends him to the primary school for the children of the Univirsity dons. Ollana comes to live with Odenigbo as his mistress, giving up a life of luxury with her parents, in Lagos. Meanwhile Richard, an Englishman, falls hard for Kainene, Ollana's twin sister who refuses to belong to anyone. Their lives cross, merge and intertwine. Fragility of their relationship is tested by the all-consuming violence.
Ollana and Odenigbo share a beautiful relationship despite being not married. Richard loves Kainene but she remains aloof. Ugwu, meanwhile is very faithful to his master and Ollana and Baby, their daughter. The smaller charaters too leave a mark on the reader.
This novel is haunting in the sense that it is set in 1960s when Biafra struggled for independence from Nigeria. The violence that follows because of it is very chilling and shattering. There are ethnic wars between class and race.. The descriptions are stark and the reactions are horrific. The ultimate question is who should take moral responsibility for all this bloodshed. Why allegiances has to asked again and again?
When Ugwu is conscripted and said to be dead, Ollana breaks down. It is so poignant to see her shouting at Odenigbo in her angst. For Master, Ollana and Baby, Ugwu is more than a houseboy. He is family.
In the midst of ongoing war, we see Kainene and Ollana working for the betterment of the refugees intheir own way. There are disappointments but there are promises kept too. We may see death, rape, pillage but we see belief and hope in humanity too.
For someone so young, Adichie has good insight. She sure knows what she is writing. Very beautiful prose, it keeps us totally involved. She brings Modern Africa alive for us. That is reason enough to read her. She is a worthy succesor of Chinua Achebe. I truly recommend it for all.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Read: March 2-4, 2008
Challenge: Celebrate the Author; Triple Eight - From my TBR Shelf & 1st in a Series; Numbers Challenge
First Line: It is an unusually warm night in July, but I'm shivering badly as I stand on the substantial gray stone terrace outside my apartment.
I loved this book! I'm not sure why it sat on my shelf for so long before I ever picked it up, but I absolutely adored it!!! It was such a quick and enjoyable read. I even found myself crying a little at the end. Excellent book ... I can't wait to get to the second one!
Sunday, March 2, 2008
The Rule of Four
Read: Feb. 29-March 2, 2008
Challenge: Numbers Challenge
First Line: Like many of us, I think, my father spent the measure of his life piecing together a story he would never understand.
I really enjoyed this book. Although it does seem to lag in certain places, overall I felt myself rushing through it because it was so suspenseful! I could hardly wait to get to the end of it. I have read that some people are likening it to The Da Vinci Code, but I wouldn't. I felt that in a way it was much better than Dan Brown's book, whereas in other places (like the writing style) it did sort of lack what Brown's book had. It's hard to describe, but definitely an enjoyable read!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
In a nutshell (I'm not a fan of giving too much away), three troubled adults independently find themselves in dire situations and eventually congregate in the same home. Their need and desire for love and acceptance is of the utmost importance; it's that drive which leads them into . . . well, more trouble.
Peculiar. That's my one word description of this novel. However, when all is said and done, there is so much more to this book. The story begins slowly, but gradually and strangely draws you in. Throughout the book, I felt liery - not quite sure what these people were capable of doing in the name of family. After a little more thought, maybe a better description would be: Peculiarly thought-provoking.
Even though at some point this book made it onto my TBR list (no recollection of when or why), I specifically read it now for the "J" Author (A ~ Z Reading Challenge). I'm thankful for the challenge, because it was worth the read. I may have missed out on it, otherwise.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
- Pub. Date: January 2005
- ISBN-13: 9780446614832
- Sales Rank: 188
- Series: Women's Murder Club Series, #3
- Numbers Challenge
Murder, dead bodies, conspiracy are my usual choice of mindless reading. So this story of Detective Boxer and her female colleagues was just what I needed. This time the group underwent some big changes and a lot of stress. They prevailed in the end, just what you want from your favorite heroes. I'll pick up the fourth one in a book or two, reading a little deeper subject right now.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
I knew it was a bad idea. But see, I'm doing this Numbers Challenge... and everyone else has read it. But really... I knew it was a bad idea.
So clearly, before picking up The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom I was biased. It just seemed so... Oprah's Book Club. You know, before she did the revamp and "discovered" Steinbeck. Plus, my horrible horrible roommate had it as a fixture on her desk in our dorm room. (Thank goodness those days are long over). This wasn't going to be a book I'd like.
But I had to try it because... 1. It was a national best seller / everyone's read it and 2. I did enjoy Tuesdays with Morrie.
Starting out I surprised myself. I didn't mind it. Lately there's been the circus/carnivale setting trend going around, I like it. (Water for Elephants, Carnivale, etc) I enjoyed hearing about the old time pier amusement park, all that. And I even started to wonder who Eddie would meet in heaven. But that's about it...
The second half of the book I had to force myself through. I actually set a time limit.
My complaints? ... I've been trying to figure that out. I think I felt like Albom was trying too hard. It was too sentimental? It didn't work for me. Sorry I can't be more eloquent.
Recommendation: If you are the one other person out there who hasn't read this book, skip it.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
- Pub. Date: January 2003
- ISBN-13: 9780446612791
- Sales Rank: 190
- Series: Women's Murder Club Series, #2
- Numbers Challenge: 2 of the required 5.
I'm half way through 3rd Degree and have Three Cups of Tea in my bag. The next review shouldn't be long to follow.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Two Little Girls in Blue
by Mary Higgins Clark
Read: Jan. 10-11, 2008
Challenges: What's in a Name (Color category); Numbers Challenge; Triple Eight Challenge,
From my TBR Shelf category
First Line: "Hold on a minute, Rob, I think one of the twins is crying. Let me
call you back."
Margaret and Steve Frawley's three year old twin daughters, Kelly and Kathy, have been kidnapped from their own room, their babysitter knocked unconscious. When the ransom note comes in for eight million dollars, the money is put up by Steve's employers. Unfortunately, only Kelly comes home safely. But when Kelly begins to voice concern that Kathy is not dead, as was widely assumed, Margaret goes frantic trying to bring Kathy home safely.
I loved this book! It was great!!! The twists and turns were wonderful. I love reading Mary Higgins Clark ... she never disappoints! This book read rather quickly and was enjoyable. Another A+ effort by MHC!
Monday, February 4, 2008
Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham
Book description: Three women, smart and successful, working in the fast and furious world of magazines, meet for cocktails and gossip once a month. Roxanne: glamorous, self-confident, with a secret lover - and hoping that one day he will leave his wife and marry her. Maggie: capable and high-achieving, until she finds the one thing she can't cope with - motherhood. Candice: honest, decent, or so she believes - until a ghost from her past turns up, and almost ruins her life. A chance encounter in the cocktail bar sets in train an extraordinary set of events which upsets all their lives and almost destroys their friendship.
My thoughts: Madeleine Wickham is better known as Sophie Kinsella. So when I spotted this book while browsing in a used bookstore and noticed the note saying that's who she was, I snapped it up, since I enjoyed the Shopaholic books and especially Can You Keep a Secret?
This one's okay, though I didn't think it had the sparkle of her other work. It's pretty darn predicitable (although the Shopaholic ones are, too, but somehow their charm makes up for most of it) - you know Candice is going to get herself in trouble with the person from her past, it's not hard to guess who Roxanne is having the affair with, and it's obvious that Maggie is in for some post-partum depression.
That seems to be a theme as chick lit writers turn into mommies - the joys but mostly horrors of having a baby. I really felt for Maggie, feeling like she had to do everything perfectly while being so completely exhausted.
The theme of the book is secrets and how we hide them from even our closest friends. I did like the message that it's good to tell people when you need help or are having problems, to avoid everything from stress and to actual crises before they get to be too much to handle.
Overall, it's not a bad piece of Chick lit - I polished it off in about a day while sick in bed.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I've been meaning to read this one for some time - despite being disappointed in a few of his books recently, I like Alexander McCall Smith. And it seems as if this series has charmed just about everyone. I haven't heard a bad word spoken against it. And I was quite charmed, too. [Note, I may have a few spoilers here, so don't read on if you plan to read this one. But I have a feeling I'm one of the few people left who hadn't read it!]
I was surprised, though, to find horrific incidents sprinkled throughout what I thought was going to be basically a cozy mystery - Precious' husband is a violent rapist who tries to kill their unborn child, then leaves her. While Smith and Precious both love Botswana, there are still references, mostly subtle, to Africa's problems - AIDS, corrupt police, smuggling, etc.
But Precious definitely lives up to her name - she's very clever, funny and has a heart as big as her "traditional" frame. It was quite interesting and rather funny to see a fat lady be admired, for a change, and I could imagine Precious' large frame sailing through town on her missions. I did wonder, however, how she could remain a private private detective when everyone in the area knew her and she was rather hard to miss.
I also found some funny touches in the names of businesses (include the name of the agency) caused by English not being the native language in Botswana. My favourite was the Go Go Handsome Man's Bar, but I also got a kick out Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.
I liked that there were smaller, mostly gentler cases mixed in with the larger case of the kidnapped boy. My favourite was the one about the doctor that seemed to be incredibly forgetful but was actually a set of twins. I enjoyed how Precious used her instincts, feminine wiles, and the knowledge she gleaned from both Agatha Christie novels and the PI manual she sends away for. And, of course, I liked that the kidnapped boy was found safe and sound.
An African lady written by a Scottish man seems fairly implausible, but McCall Smith is in fine form. While the sequels aren't right at the top of my TBR list, I have a feeling I'll be visiting the Agency again.
I can't believe the concept of this book. It's one of those ideas that makes you wish you had thought of it first. It's a fantastic read and the characters are so real. If I recommend one book to anyone this year, it will most definitely be this one! I just saw that Joy read this too!
Monday, January 28, 2008
In A Thousand Bones, Joe (note: pet peeve of mine - naming characters with cross gender names) who is currently on the Miami Police Department's Homicide Division shares with her lover, Louis (too close to Louise for my liking) Kincaid, about her past harrowing experience of being a rookie cop in Echo Bay, Michigan. Almost the entire book is told in flashback, which gives the reader a great understanding of Joe and how she dealt with chasing down a killer.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
This was, without a doubt, a page-turning debut novel and an extremely creative and deep endeavor by Jay Asher. While the storyline of suicide is heart-wrenching, Asher delivers it in a way to help teens (and adults alike) to understand the process and influence we all have in contaminating or contributing to someone else's well-being.
The story of Hannah Baker personifies my thoughts on the header of my blog "Thoughts of Joy...": "Words can and do change lives." It also depicts how our actions or lack thereof affect others and ourselves. It's quite a powerful, enticing book, leaving me with much to mull over. I most enjoyed Asher's creativity and plot, which encourages me to watch for this author's name in the future.
Read: Jan. 2-3, 2008
Challenge: Numbers Challenge; Celebrating the Author Challenge
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Three Dirty Women and the Garden of Death by Julie Wray Herman 01/07/2008 3/5 This is a very good mystery. When one of the members of the Three Dirty Women is suspected of murdering her soon to be ex husband the rest of the women go diging to find out who really did do it. I will for sure read more of this series.
The Second Time Around by Marry Higgins Clark 01/10/08 3/5 Typical Clark book. I have read several of her books and am never disappointed.
The Fourth Perimeter by Tim Green 01/14/08 3.5/5 Another good book by this author. I really like his writing style. Keep me wondering what was going to happen next.
I am now reading Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton. I will more then likely finish it later this evening. Not a very big book but still well written. It is keeping me turning the pages to find out who did it.This will make five books that I have read for this challenge when I am finished. One more to go and I will have my first ever challenge completed.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Title: Second Glance
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Atria Books/2003
Second Glance was a book beyond my imagination. It took me into an entirely different world. Jodi Picoult makes such a world possible with her words.
Ross Wakeman has a death wish since Aimee, his fiancée died. He tries to kill himself in every way conceivable but always comes back alive. He tries desperately to connect with Aimee in some way thus becoming a ghost hunter. Strange things start to happen in tiny Comtosook, Vermont as a developer wants to build a strip mall in an ancient Abenaki Indian burial ground. The inhabitants talk of supernatural forces at work and Ross tries to explain the paranormal phenomena and meets Lia, who reawakens love in him. When he tries to follow his heart, next thing he sees is beyond anything he can comprehend.
To read more, visit here...
Monday, January 7, 2008
I finished Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne on January 2nd. It's my first completed book of 2008, and it's also my first pick for the Numbers Challenge. This post ended up too long, even without a plot synopsis, so if you want to know the story's bare bones, Wikipedia tells it quite well (though if you read the last paragraph, it tells the ending).
I've never read Jules Verne before, but of course I've heard of him. And, while I am about to comment on his writing style, I'd like to point out that apparently the B&N edition uses an older translation that cuts out 23% of the original French text. Of course, if I had known that, I'd have gone with a different translation. So I was actually quite curious about how the original French sounded, since the English I read was, in a word, uninspired. And this being the day of the internet, I found the French version and read chapter ten of part one (when the reader, and narrator, meets Captain Nemo). It corresponded quite closely with the English, in that the construction was simple and the vocabulary straight-forward. How straight-forward? Well, with two years of college French, I was able to read the whole chapter, and the few words I didn't already know were easily discovered through context. While this might be great news for a French lit student (oh why did my professor make us slave away with Apollinaire?), the style combined with the endless cataloguing of sea life makes the book feel like an enthusiastic schoolboy's daydream. That's not necessarily a bad thing-it's quite fun to get swept along with Verne's equal fascination for technology and oceans-but it did prevent me from giving it more than just three stars.
Because it's not just the style that's schoolboyish. Of the four main characters, three of them-Pierre Aronnax (a French scientist), Conseil (his faithful-one might be tempted to say dog like-servant), and Ned Land(the red-blooded Candian harpooner) feel like charactertures. In fact, throughout the entire novel, I couldn't find one instance of character development; everyone behaved in the exact same manner all the time. The only intriguing person in the book is Captain Nemo for, while his behavior in the present never changes, there are hints at a dark past (after all, what could have compelled him to renounce humanity and live in a submarine?). Unfortunately, those hints are all too rare. It's possible to excuse this, in fact to find a certain brilliance it in, since Pierre is the first-person narrator. He tells the story through his journal and, as a rational scientist, it's easy to imagine that aboard the submarine he'd be much more focused on the nature and gadgets that surrounded him than any of the people. I haven't read any other Vernes, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and believe that he was staying perfectly true to his narrator. Also, there are moments when poetry, in the form of Captain Nemo's speeches, glimmer through:
"You like the sea, captain?"
"Yes, I love it! The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the 'Living Infinite,' as one of your poets has said. In fact, professor, Nature manifest herself in it by her three kingdoms, mineral, vegetable, and animal. The sea is a vast reservoir of Nature. The globe began with sea, so to speak; and who knnows if it will not end with it? In it is supreme tranquility. The sea does not belong to despots. Upon its surface men can still exercise unjust laws, tear one another to pieces, and be carried away with terristrial horrors. But at thirty feet below its level, their reign ceases, their influence is quenched, and their power disappears. Ah! sir, live-live in the bosom of the waters! There only is independence! There I recognize no masters! There I am free!"
If this is the case, I can only wish that Venre had chosen a scientist narrator interested in psychology! Really, Pierre himself best sums up the fault in the book
...I have read it to Conseil and to the Canadian. They found it exact as to facts, but insufficient as to effect.Despite my qualms about Verne's style and characters, I found the plot to be wonderfully inventitive and exciting; whether Captain Nemo was saving a diver from a shark or showing Pierre Atlantis, I was always curious about the next adventure!
While the fiction may be lacking a thing or two, the science is certainly up to snuff. Verne does a meticulous job of presenting the wonders of the deep sea to readers. Take Pierre's catalogue of fish, the first time the 'windows' of the submarine are revealed:
For two whole hours an aquatic army escorted the Nautilus. During their games, their bounds, while rivaling each other in beauty, brightness, and velocity, I distinguished the green labre; the banded mullet, marked by a double line of black; the round-tailed goby, of a white color, with violet spots on the back; the Japanese scombrus, a beautiful mackeral of these seas, with a blue body and silvery head; the brilliant azurors, whose name alone defies description; some banded spares, with variegated fins of blue and yellow; some aclostones, the woodcocks of the seas, some specimens of which attain a yard in length; Japanese salamanders, spider lampreys, serpents six feet long, with eyes small and lively, and a huge mouth bristling with teeth; with many other species.
These kinds of lists are one of the main feautures of the book, and I quite enjoyed them. Also, whatever energy Verne spared in character development must have been turned to making the technology believable. The Nautilus is a submarine, but also a self-contained environment that can get everything it needs from the ocean, except air (which it surfaces for rather like a mechanical whale). Through Captain Nemo, Verne (in my opinion a tad overzealously) justifies the possibility of such a craft. Here's a sample passage of the kind of information Captain Nemo shares:
"Professor," said Captain Nemo, "my electricity is not everybody's. You know what sea-water is compsed of. In a thousand grams are found ninety-six and a half percent of water, and about two and two-thirds percent of chloride of sodium; then, in a smaller quantity, chlorides of magnesium and of potassium, bromide of magnesium, sulphate of magnesia, sulphate and carbonate of lime. You see, then, that chloride of sodium forms a large part of it. So it is this sodium that I extract from sea-water, and of which I compose my own ingredients. I owe it all to the ocean; it produces electricity, and electricity gives heat, light, motion, and, in a word, life to the Nautilus."How's that for technical? Passages like this are common as well.
In sum, I had a lot of fun exploring the ocean, found out many interesting facts (for instance, a fathom is six feet, and the Sargasso Sea terrified sailors due to its sluggishness and large amount of seaweed), and have a bit of a crush on Captain Nemo. I see him as a civilised, ocean-dwelling counterpart to Heathcliff (oh! if only I could read Captain Nemo's backstory as relayed by a Bronte), and I appreciated being able to spend time aboard his splendid, and scientifically rigourous, vessel. A fitting start to 2008.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
- Just One Bite by Kimberly Raye
- One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
The Fairy Godmother (tales of the 500 kingdoms) by Mercedes LackeyChanged to: The Dark One by Ronda Thompson
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
NOTE: This challenge end date has been extended to August 1, 2008.
The challenge is to read 5 books whose titles have a number in them from Jan 1, 2008 to August 1, 2008 This includes written numbers like "one" or "forty." UPDATE: Numbers like 10th or First are fine too.
Need some help picking? See the sidebar.
You can choose up to three that are on lists for other challenges. So two of the choices must not be on any list. You can re-read books but all books must NOT be read until January 1, 2008.
Want to Join?
Comment on THIS post to join. If you want to add your list and/or review your books on this blog, put your email in the comments like this: myname AT yourprovider DOT com and your blog url.
If you just want to post the list/reviews on your blog then just add your blog url.
UPDATE: If you don't want to be a member of this blog but wouldn't mind your review being cross-posted to this blog, email me your review and a link to your blog and i'll post it.
I know there are a lot of great challenges going on starting Jan but remember, they are all just for fun, if you don't finish, you don't finish, no big deal!
Again I hope to have a prize but don't have one yet. However it will for sure be a book with a number in the title.