Sunday, February 26, 2006

Anne Perry

Another author I track is Anne Perry. My introduction to Perry happened one day when my husband and I were in the library together. I was looking for an audio tape to listen to while I drove to Colorado to see my daughter and her family. Hubby suggested Perry because he'd heard she was an LDS author who wrote mysteries. (Mysteries are my genre of choice.) I don't remember what that first novel was (I know it was either a William Monk or a Thomas Pitt), but I thought it was the perfect type of book to listen to while driving. Whenever I took a trip I would listen to one of Anne's. Then I forgot about those for a couple of years. Three years ago my daughter was having problems with her pregnancy so I started making frequent trips to Colorado. I again looked for some more Perry books. I developed a real interest in William Monk and the nurse Hester Latterly. After listening to several in a helter-skelter order I decided I wanted to read them in order.

William Monk Series. There are 14 books, but they are quick reading, interesting Victorian
mysteries. I usually like to start at the beginning of a series and follow it through. With these I didn't realized it was a series and just read several out of order. It was actually fun to go back and read the first ones already knowing some of the outcomes in relationships. I reccommend this series for traveling or for light(lacks graphic violence or sex), but rewarding mysteries.

Thomas Pitt Series. When I finish reading all of the Monk series, I want to start on the Pitt series. To date I've only read 3-4 of them. Monk and his wife, Charlotte, work together to solve the mysteries.

World War I series. This is my favorite of Perry's series. There are three books so far with a fourth schedule for Sep 2006. The first, No Graves As Yet was awesome. Set in 1914 on Cambridge campus, it's a moving historical whodunit. The 2nd, Shoulder the Sky,
continues the story of the 3 young adult siblings started in the first book. Each book has one mystery that is solved, but others present themselves. To borrow a quote from the School Library Journal, "The characters' emotions and thoughts capture the confusion, frustration, and determination of those fighting the war. Without describing too graphically the horrors of the front, the author presents memorable tableaux of a soldier, an ambulance driver, a doctor, a field nurse, and those in positions of leadership and trust. The murder investigation and espionage greatly enhance the action and interest in the complex plot." The 3rd, Angels in the Gloom, I've haven't read yet. The library has had it on order for 6 months now and my name is the first on the hold list. (How can it take 6 months to get a book in?!) The Publisher's Weekly has this to say about Angels, "This powerful and intense third novel in Perry's WWI series continues the Reavley family's anguished search for the "Peacemaker," a shadowy figure responsible for their parents' murders two years earlier, and now intent on Anglo-German world domination as a means toward world peace." The 4th book is At Some Disputed Barricade: 1917.

Note added 5 March 2006: Angels in the Gloom finally came in. I'm reading it now and am very impressed. I forgot there were 4 Reavely children. The first two books focused on only the younger three. The 3rd book focuses on Josheph who is a chaplan sent home wounded to live with his married sister Hannah. It's nice getting to know her better. One of the things that impresses me with Perry's books is her accurate description of the time periods she writes about.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dean Koontz

There are a few authors that I actually track--checking the internet for their next book. One of those is Dean Koontz. I check regularly so I know when a new Koontz is released. For example, his next novel, The Husband, is being released May 30. The first part of May I will log onto my library account and put that book on hold.

With few exceptions, I love Koontz's books.
Koontz's grasp and descriptions of good and evil is awesome. His writing is colorful, descriptive and, at times, even poetic. Koontz makes me feel that with a long series of wrong choices, any of us could be truly bad. That feeling encourages me to strive to make the right choices. His consideration of good and evil surpasses any other author I"ve read. In spite of the horrific evil portrayed, I'm usually filled with hope and fortitude by the time things wind to an end. Also worth noting while reading Koontz are his fabulous descriptions of the sky. It would have been fun to write down all his varied and graphic descriptions of sunrises and sunsets and everything in between.

Koontz is the master of suspense. I am always totally immersed in his stories and characters.
One of my favorites is From the Corner of His Eye. After you read this, you might think twice about the consequences of the smallest things you do. The characters are well fleshed-out and you really care about them and are encouraged by them. This book is suspenseful, sad, hopeful, funny and thought-provoking. I have pages in my reading journal with fabulous quotes from this book. I'll limit myself to sharing just a few.
* When your're as hollow as Enoch Cain, the emptiness aches. He's desperate to fill it, but he doesn't have the patience or the commitment to fill it with anything worthwhile. Love, charity, faith, wisdom - those virtues & others are hard won, with commitment & patience and we acquire them one spoonful at a time. Cain wants to be filled quickly. He wants the emptiness inside poured full, in quick, great gushes, and right now.
* There must be something important I'm supposed to do that I'll do better if I'm blind.
* . . . sore tooth of truth.

Another favorite is Odd Thomas and its follow-up, Forever Odd. Odd is the name of the main character. Two quotes from Odd:
* Sometimes simply getting from bed to bathroom can take the charm out of a new day.
* We who survive must go on in the names of those who fall. Perserverance is impossible if we don't permit ourselves to hope.

My husband and sister have both read the first two books in Koontz's Frankenstein series. They loved them. I'm waiting until the 3rd one comes out so I don't have the agonizing 2-year wait in between each book.

Reading Dean Koontz is like coming home for me, which is a weird analogy, but both fill me with satisfied sighs.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Learn From My Mistakes

I'm hoping that the time I wasted reading these books will save you the time to read other things. I am not going to attempt to organize these into the one I hated most down to the one I hated least. Just think of this blog as a garbage can--everything randomly piled in.

1. The Last Girls by Lee Smith. UGH!
2. Winter Marriage by. . gee, I didn't even write down the author's name. Didn't finish the book, either.
3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Very interesting concept and some of it wasn't so bad, but overall, a waste of time.
4. A Cure for Dreams by Kaye Gibbons. The title is tempting, but the book is unsatisfying.
5. Clay's Quilt by Silas House. Another interesting title.
6. My Father's Dragon by ??? A Jr. classic? YUCK!
7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I know, I know! It's a best seller, but I really did not like it. After writing this blog, Myke shared a few great quotes from Life of Pi. Read his comment to get all three. After discussing this book with several others, I decided it should not be on my hate list. Do go ahead and read it, you'll probably like it.

"To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

"Oncoming death is terrible enough, but worse still is oncomming death with time to spare...."

8. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman. 9. All Is Vanity by Christina Schwartz. Boring, but I finished it--Darn it.
10. A Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. I like Berg's writing, but this one was only so-so, which means, why bother?!
11. The Portrait by Ian Pears. I loved Pears' Instance at the Fingerpost so I kept reading this one hoping there was a little gem inside. I found this ONE buried deep:
"I know how hard it is to acquire good technique. I acquired mine by constant labor and study, year after year, day in and day out. It did not come naturally or easily, and it is the one thing I am truly proud of. To get what you want you have to have mastery, orthewise you are like a man trying to speak English with only a limited vocabulary. Unless you have the range, you end up saying what you can say, not what you mean."

12. The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith. Someone in my book club actually chose this for one month's selection. I read the 1st 50 pages, grabbed a big chunk in the middle, flipped to the back and finished the last 50 pages. Ghastly and very predictable.

Leafing Through . . .

I have to say, this little exercise of writing about some of my favorite books has been very rewarding. The last few years I've kept a journal of most of the books I've read. In addition to the title and author, I try to record a few lines to remind me about the book. Often I copy some lines that reverberate with meaning for my life at the time. Sometimes I run across a particular discription or use of words that just pleases me and I get a few of those written down as well. Time is the main constraint. I think I've read 4-5 books recently that I haven't even written in my journal. I'll get to them, I will, I WILL!

Anyway, I've been having fun rummaging through the pages, reminding myself of some of the good books, quotes, ideas, etc. that had slipped my mind. I don't need to tell you that most of a book eases right out of my mind like a ghost through a door. Journals help with a mind like mine. (There are several really dumb, dumb books in my journal, too--I think I'll do a list of books I hated.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Favorite Newberry Award Books

Every summer our public library has an adult summer reading program. Those patrons who want to enroll are encouraged to read from nine different categories. There is a choice of twelve categories. One of the categoreis is Newberry Awards. I probably would have never read a Newberry without this little push. I've enjoyed every Newberry I've read, but I'm going to limit it to my favorites. Click here for a Dated List of Newberry Award Books.

1. The Giver by Lois Lowry.
When I read this book as a youth I didn't understand it very well. Much later in life I reread it and loved it. A couple years ago my mother and I attend a book fair at the Salt Lake City's new and wonderful library. Lois Lowry was one of the presenter. She was absolutely charming--humorous and thought-provoking. She mentioned that she had written 2 sequels to The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger. Rush right out to buy them. Loved them all, though Gathering Blue was my least favorite, but very necessary to the series.

2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.
Set in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943, this 1990 Newbery winner tells of a 10-year-old girl who undertakes a dangerous mission to save her best friend. I really loved this book and highly recommend it.
3. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi. I've read 2 books by Avi and loved both. This one is about a 13-yr old boy in 14th century Europe. A great selection for young boys (or old women, like me).
4. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.
I didn't see the movie by the same name, but I'm not sure it followed the book. Based on a true story of an Indian girl who survives 18 years alon on an island. In 1976 the Children's Literature Association named this riveting story one of the 10 best American children's books of the past 200 years
5. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
My daughter recommended this novel. Well written and great story of a friendship between two fifth graders-a boy and a girl. Keep a box of kleenex colse by.

Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo. Such a cute title and a wonderful book. Aimed at 4th-5th grade, I think. While looking for a picture of the cover I ran across this great guide for teachers, along with activities, etc. What a fun book to use in teaching! A teacher's guide to Despereaux
DiCamillo is the author of some other noteable books that I look forward to reading. You may have heard of Because of Winn-Dixie and Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

7. The View From Saturday
by E.L. Konigsburg (read June 2006) What a wonderful book. I had planned to read the 2006 Newberry Award book, Criss Cross, but the librarian shared her opinion that The View from Saturday was much better. I thank her for directing me to this book.
The story features four 6th graders and their teacher. We focus in on each of the children one by one and experience their journeys of emotional and social growth. The journeys are not catastrophic; just parts of their lifes that help them grow. The ribbon that runs throughout is an academic team contest at the end of the school year. I know, the storyline does not sound that intriguing, but the book IS magnificient. I rate this book with a 5.

Towards the end of the book the 6th grade teacher, Mrs Olinski, is meeting her former mentor and principal. She watches this older woman who she has greatly admired and thinks, "A turquoise jogging suit. Tuquoise!" She had always regarded turquoise, like shocking pink and chartreuse, as the color equivalent of the word ain't: quaint when seldom used but vulgar in great doses.

Konigsburg also wrote the 1967 Newberry Award From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I'm thinking I'll read it for next summer's reading program.

Favorites in SciFi

1. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
This may be as much fantasy as sci-fi. A modern 'prince' mysteriously finds himself in a medieval forest starring at a sleeping princess. I was enchanted by this novel ! I recommended this book to my husband who was surprised that I liked a book with a man running naked through a forest. What he must think of me?!
2. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
What a fun premise: The bad guy, Acheron Hades, steals characters from original manuscripts of some of the best-loved classics and that changes every future printing of the book. It's up to Thursday Next to rescue Jane Eyre and get her back into the book. Thursday works for the Literary Division of the Special Operations Network. This is a quirk book with lots of laughs and a great mystery. I think anyone who's quirky will enjoy it. There are 3 more books in the Thursday Next series. I liked Lost in a Good Book even better than the Eyre Affair and am still looking forward to reading The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten.
3. Mort by Terry Pratchett
Another quirky fun book. The main character, Death, is feeling pressured from the demands of his job. He takes on a lanky teenaged apprentice named Mort. It's interesting to learn the ins and outs of the job along with Mort. The problem comes when Mort falls in love with a princess and decides not to 'take her' when her time comes. Of course, that messes with the ?reality? of Discworld. Meanwhile, while Mort covers his responsibilities, Death takes a vacation to discover what LIFE is really all about. The love triangle that develops between Death's daughter, Mort and the princess just adds another layer of depth and wackiness. I LOVED this book and am considering putting it on my reread list.
4. Pawn of Prophecy Series by David Eddings
A student recommended this book. When I asked if it was a series he ducked the question and said there were lots of books that went along with it, but I wouldn't need to read any further than the first one. I should have seen it coming! I stopped after the 5th or so that were actually in the series. Very enjoyable.
5. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I enjoyed the first in this series, but stopped after the 2nd.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Books I Would Like To Reread

1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
There are not very many books that I would care to read again, not because I didn't really enjoy reading them, I just want to go on to something new. Poisonwood Bible is a book I look forward to rereading. I thought the use of symbolism was intrigueing and interesting on multiple layers. I especially liked how the family members burden themselves with items they thought would be
indispensable to them in Africa and instead they turned out to be useless. So easy to personally identify as I as well hoard to myself useful treasures that only get in my way of real meaning in my life.

I think one reason I want to reread this book is to rediscover and reinterpret the symbolism to my life at a different time. I really appreciated Kingsolver's perspectives of the symbolism. I realized after visiting several web sites, that my interpretations were pretty shallow. See

I was amazed at how Kingsolver used the different voices of the main women characters. It's hard to believe that one author can so convince the reader that a different person is narrating that part of the story. I have read
several books that present the storyline from different perspectives. I like that. It reminds me that each persons reality is only from their point of view and that it is different for each person involved. The individual voices are felt as truly individual in Poisonwood. Not so in others who have tried this technique.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I read Jane Eyre while in college. Absolutely loved it. My favorite scene was after Jane and Rochester's wedding is interrupted with horrible news and Rochester begs Jane to stay with him in spite of everything. In my heart I was urging Jane to abandon her principles and relinquish her heart, soul and body to this man who loved her so dearly and whom she loved in return. She says, "... my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as feeling, and that clamored wildly. 'Oh, comply!' it said..." The lead up to this moment was several pages long and the reader was very much in compliance with Jane's feelings. But with all the strength she could muster, Jane determined, "I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptations; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor. ... If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? ...Preconceived opinions, forgone determinations,
are all I have at this hour to stand by; there I plant my foot."
Orson Scott Card said that "it is often easier to learn from fiction than from life". The lesson I learned from this work of fiction has served me well many times in my life.

3. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. A fascinating, innovative and beautifully written book. Again, a lot of symbolism--most of which was lost on me, I'm sure. Thus, the need to reread it. The story is told in reverse chronology, starting with the owner of a painting that he believes to be an unknown Vermeer. He is torn between revealing its existence to the world or keeping it secret which will protect his other secret. The novel works its way back through vignette's in the lifes of other owners and eventually to Vermeer's life.

I liked Hyacinth Blue so much better than Girl with a Pearl Earing that was also about a Vermeer painting and received much more acclaim.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

About Me

I live in what used to be a small town in Utah.  We keep growing by leaps and bounds, then everything stops for awhile before it takes off again.  The worst part of growth is the increased traffic.  The best part is more facilities, stores and restaurants.  The city recently opened a big recreation center and Cafe Rios just moved in. 

I have been married to Candleman for 37 years on December 28, 2009.  I tell you what - it's been quite the ride!  All my BIG present days happen within 5 days - Christmas, Anniversary, and my birthday on Dec 30.

Candleman and I specialize in girls - we have four.  It was fun to be the Mom of four such different and yet, all delightful girls.  We have two grandchildren, a boy and a girl.  They live close and we like that.

I like to read, obviously.  I enjoy most genres but I'm not really into westerns or romance.  My favorite genre is mystery/suspense.  A few of my favorite books are Poisonwood Bible, Book Thief, Jane Eyre, Mort, The History of Love, The Story of Forgetting, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Secret Life of Bees, From the Corner of His Eye, and I could go on for pages.  I know I'm leaving out some.  Favorite authors include Terry Pratchett, Dean Koontz, Jan Burke, Barbara Kingsolver, Susan Vreeland, Sue Monk Kidd, Jasper Fforde, Lisa Scottoline, Andrea Barrett, Laurie King, Shannon Hale, David Baldacci, Anne Perry, etc.  Again the list is much longer but this gives you an idea.

Other hobbies I've indulged in over the years are tole painting, scrapbooking, crocheting, quilting, cross-stitiching and doll making.  With the exception of making dolls I look forward to doing all of them again.  I go through phases when I do one thing then I'll leave it for awhile and do something else.  Right now my most time consuming hobby is blogging. 

I am the 3rd child, 1st daughter of seven children.  My father was in the Army for most of my growing up years so we moved a lot.  The two longest places we lived were Lincoln, NE for 6 years and St. John's, Newfoundland for 3 years.  I was preschool age in Newfoundland so I only have a few spotty memories.  I lived in Lincoln from 3 grade through the 8th grade and didn't want to move to Utah when my dad retired.  Since then I have grown very fond of Utah.   It wasn't until I was married  for 29 years that I discovered I might like to live somewhere else.  That was the year we visited the Pacific Northwest.  We won't ever move, though, because our grandchildren live only a backyard away from us.  That beats the Northwest, but just barely!

In one of my former lives I taught high school biology and a few other science subjects.  Now I am retired and enjoying a more peaceful, laid-back lifestyle.