Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

by C. S. Lewis
What can I say about this book that everyone doesn't already know. I enjoyed the reread. I hope this isn't blasphemous of me to say, but I think I enjoyed The Magician's Nephew just a bit better. Maybe it was the newness of it. Next, I'll be reading The Horse and His Boy. All, but The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, are new books for me.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A New Classics Challenge

Kathrin from Crazy Cozy Murders is hosting a summer/fall Classics Challenge. I am joining up and hoping this time of the year will lend itself to reading classics better than winter did, for me at least. All the classics I've chosen overlap with other challenges, providing me with a double kick in the rear to get these read.
1. Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy Emmuska
3. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
5. One more that I haven't decided on yet
The challenge is to read 3 to 5 classics between July 1 and November 31. That's one classic per month. I really like the sound of that. It allows time for other reads in between.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Scavenger Hunt

Amy and Michael Christopher from Amy's Random Thoughts will be hosting a Blogging Scavenger Hunt during the first 3 weeks of May.

Starting on May 1, the will post 3 questions each day that can be answered on their blog or somewhere else on the internet. The contest will go for 21, with no questions on Sundays. The people who answer the most questions received the most points. Prizes are given away at the end of the scavenger hunt -Top prize to the person with the most points and so on down.

For the complete set of rules , etc. are included at Amy's Random Thoughts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Book Without Words

by Avi
I read this book for a couple of reasons. One, for the Once Upon a Time Challenge and two, because I have enjoyed the few Avi books I've read.

This is a fable with a moral. Remember the axiom: Be careful what you wish for, it just may come true? That's the message of this young teen book. One of the main characters says, at the end of the book, "Magic takes what it gives, but life gives what we take." A little bit different twist, but after reading the book, the two sayings are closer than they seem.

There's quite a bit of humor woven into this suspenseful story about trying to satisfy one's desires. The cast of characters includes an old alchemist who is making stones that will allow him to live forever. He owns a talking pet crow and has a poor, orphaned servant girl who live with him. The alchemist dies before he succeeds in his goal. The crow and girl, Sybil, have to combine wits to figure out how to survive. They have the Book Without Words that they believe will tell them how to make gold, if they can find a child with green eyes to read it. They find 2 boys that become part of the plot.

At one point Sybil says to her master, "What good is life, if, by avoiding death, you didn't live?"

I enjoyed this quick little read and will now be passing it on to someone through bookmooch. If you would like to mooch it, check my inventory.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Medical Mystery Madness

WHAT: Pick anywhere from 2 or more medical mysteries/thrillers to read and discuss with fellow medical thriller fans. WHEN: June 1 to November 1

WHO: Anyone

WHERE: Hosted by Twiga

Yippee! A mystery challenge. Couldn't pass up on this one, could I? My selections are
1. Mutation by Robin Cook (because I bought it at a library sale and it's been sitting on my shelf for several years. Time to get it read and send it on its way.)
2. Fever by Robin Cook (just mooched it)
3. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen
4. A Deadly Practice by Leonard Goldberg ( also mooched & it hasn't arrived yet)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rises the Night

by Colleen Gleason
By the cover you can tell that this book is a romance and those who know me well know that I don't care for romances. And yet I LOVED this book. LOVED it. I prefer to think that Gleason's vampire series belongs in the suspense/thriller genre. This is not total rationalization - Rises the Night is a gripping, page-turning, nail-biting read.

Victoria Gardella is a venator, whose job is to help rid the world of vampires. She never goes anywhere without several wooden stakes, a vial of salted holy water, and a silver cross. There are two men in her life, Max and Sebastian, who we met in the first book, The Rest Falls Away. These men are not only handsome, they are mysterious. I was constantly wondering about there loyalties and agendas.

Victoria faces some especially challenging and horrifying experiences. The action is non-stop and really quite terrifying. I am in love with this series. I mean to tell you, this book rocks! Gleason has a gift, her writing is beautiful and tight. The characters are complex, the story is rife with twists and turns.

Rises the Night will be released in stores on June 5. I know, I know that's another 6 long weeks of waiting. But to offset that bad news I have some really great news: You could win a free copy of this book before the release date. Keep watching my blog. I'm going to hold a drawing for a signed copy of Rises the Night. The drawing will be held on May 20. I'll get a post up announcing the contest in a week or two.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Newberry Challenge

Every year for the library's summer reading program I read a Newbery Award book. I've mentioned before that I probably wouldn't have read many of these without the encouragement offered by that program. And now, a new source of encouragement: Nattie at Nattie Writes! is hosting a Newbery Challenge.

Here is the challenge...
1. Pick 6 books from the Newbery list.
2. Comment at Nattie Writes! that you are in the challenge and list to your blog.
3. Post your picks on your blog.
4. You have from May 15, 2007 to Dec 31, 2007 to read and review the 6 books you choose.

My selections for this challenge:
1. The Higher Power of Lucky (2006)
2. The Westing Game (1979)
3. Bridge to Terabithia (1978)
4. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (1977)
5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968)
6. A Wrinkle in Time (1963)
I am looking forward to reading these. I read Bridge to Terabithia years ago and do not remember it well. I would like to reread it before seeing the movie. The only other on my list that I've read before was Roll of Thunder - actually, I listened to it on tape. It's no surprise that I don't remember much for it either.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Big Over Easy - DNF

By Jasper Fforde

Just recently I wrote rave reviews for Fforde's Thursday Next mystery series. Since the next book in that series isn't released yet, I thought I'd give Fforde's Nursery Crime series at try.

I just can't go another page. The storyline drags, the humor is mediocre, the characters are duds. This one is thrown over - an official Did Not Finish!

The timing for this book may have been unfortunate. Coming on the heals of The Magician's Nephew and Rises the Night means it had a lot to stand up against. Stand - It did not. Flop! The Big Over Easy himself, Humpty Dumpty, takes a mighty big fall.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Magician's Nephew

By C.S. Lewis

I've read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and watched two different movie versions, but that was my only dip into the world of Narnia, until now. My daughter Katie has read all the books and has encouraged me for years to do the same.

She informs me that even though this was not the first one Lewis wrote, it is the first in the series. I enjoyed it every bit as much as The Lion... C.S. Lewis figured out so many beautiful truths about good and evil after his passage through atheism. What a brilliant mind and soul he had. On top of those gifts, he has the ability to write beautiful stories filled with symbolic allegories.

Uncle Andrew is the magician who gives his nephew Digory this sound nugget of advice.
"Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed."

The story is about the adventures of Digory, Polly and a few people touching them as they slipped on the magic rings that took them to the land of Narnia. Oh, and the horse. We learn the origins of the evil witch/queen Jadis who we meet again in The Lion...

There's a very funny scene when the animals of Narnia try to decide what Uncle Andrew is. "There!" said several voices. "It isn't an animal at all. It's not alive."
"I tell you, it is an animal," said the Bulldog. "Smell it for yourself."
"Smelling isn't everything," said the Elephant.
"Why," said the Bulldog, "if a fellow can't trust his nose, what is he to trust?"
"Well, his brains perhaps," she replied mildly.
They finally decide he is a tree and try to plant him head down. The discussion is funny because at this point Uncle Andrew is not much of a hero figure.

I like this passage that gives hope to those who have met or know of Aslan. "If ever they were sad or afraid or angry, the thought of all that golden goodness, and the feeling that it was still there, quite close, just around some corner or just behind some door, would come back and make them sure, deep down inside, that all was well."

This is excellent YA/children/adult literature. Next in line will be a rereading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book Club

Wow! Book Club went really well. We discussed Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett. In a previous post I mentioned my concern. The biggest complaints were that it was a collection of short stories and they didn't end neatly with all the loose ends tied up. There's were lots of comments, questions and discussion. Someone even commented that they usually only spend 5-10 discussing the book before getting sidetracked. Tonight we spent an hour and a half discussing the book. There were so many insights shared that I found myself liking the book even more.

For next months meeting we are reading One Thousand White Women. It looks like it will be interesting. Has anyone read it?

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Shop of Blossom Street

by Debbie Macomber
I have read several reviews of Macomber's books and they were always positive, so I bookmooched the first in The Knitting Books series. I'm sure that I would not have picked this book off the shelves - knitting?! no mystery? It's not the type of book that calls out to me, but I was game to give it a try.

I thought it was wonderful. It's an engrossing read of 4 disparate women who join a beginning knitting class. Lydia, the owner of A Good Yarn is the teacher. She has survived 2 bouts with cancer and is taking the first steps to reclaim her life. Alix has black hair with purple spikes and some dreams that seem impossible to attain. Jacqueline's son is married to a woman that jars on her nerves and is carrying her grandchild. Carol is in her late 30's and is hoping desperately that the last attempt at in vitro fertilization will be successful.

At first I thought the whole book would take place during the knitting lessons, but that's not the case. The chapters rotate between each woman, focusing on their lives away from the shop. I came to care about each character and was sad or happy with them. It was nice to see the friendship that grew over time and how they helped each other. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series, A Good Yarn, which I've already mooched.

The chapters about Lydia, the shop owner, start with a quote about knitting. Even though I don't knit I have been involved over the years in various crafty pursuits, such as crocheting, tole painting, quilting, cross-stitching, scrapbooking, doll making, etc. So the truth of this quote resounded with me. "If you can count the number of projects you have going, you need to begin another, so you have a varied range of complexity, from the very simple 'mindless' ones to those that demand undivided attention." -Laura Early, lifetime knitter

I did some research on the author and discovered that she is a prolific writer. A list of all her series and books can be found at her website. I've already mooched the first book in her Cedar Cove series because I thought the title idea was so clever: The address in the title tells the order of the series, i.e. 16 Lighthouse Road starts with a 1, 204 Rosewood Lane starts with a 2, etc. Isn't that smart! She also has a couple of series that sound western in nature. I may be able to read one of those for my western category for my library's summer reading program - that's always a tough genre for me.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Of Mice and Magic

by David Farland
Book #1 in the Ravenspell fantasy series.
Grade 5-8

Framed gave this book a hearty thumbs-up so I decided to read it for the Once Upon A Time Fantasy Challenge. I'm glad I did.

It starts out with a young, friendless boy who mistakenly thinks his parents have bought him a pet mouse. His disappointment turns to disgust as he is forced to feed the mouse to a lizard he is pet-sitting. The mouse instinctively turns Ben into a mouse simply wishing he could understand her terror. In this way, Amber, the mouse, finds out that she has special powers.

Amber promises to turn Ben back into a human if he will first help her free the mice at the pet store. What choice does he have?

When Amber turned Ben into a human the force of her magic sent a ripple that was felt by other creatures who hold magic powers. One of these creatures is evil. As Ben and Amber are working on establishing trust and friendship, the evil creature makes itself known and turns a dangerous task into a deadly one.

I think this tale will hold the interest of children from 8 and up. My sister and I are both considerably older and we enjoyed it. My 29 yo daughter liked it and my 18 yo daughter is planning on reading it. There's suspense mixed with a good dose of humor with themes of bravery, loyalty, good versus evil, and friendship.

The second book in the series will be released soon. Once again, Howard Lyon has done the interior and exterior illustrations. (Howard won an award from the world’s largest organization for artists, the World Society of Computer Graphics Illustrators, with his last cover for the series.) I really like the covers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ship Fever

by Andrea Barrett
I first read this book in June 2006. I suggested it to my f2f book club because we've never read a collection of short stories. So Tues. evening I will be presenting this book - telling a little about the author, mentioning other books she's written, and leading the discussion of this book. In preparing for this, I've reread all the stories. If anything, I enjoyed them even more the second time around. But I am afraid. If you may remember this is the same book group in which every person hated The History of Love and many hated The Poisonwood Bible - both books I'd recommended.

Science functions as both the subject matter and metaphor in these tales. That's the reason for my fears. With History of Love the group told me they didn't have time to ponder the symbolism; that they wanted to read for pure enjoyment. That's the main reason I read, too, but I think a book we are reading to discuss should have some substance to it, something to sink our teeth into.

Most of the stories are straightforward and enjoyable to read. The fact that they engage the mind is an added benefit. Publisher's Weekly reports, "The quantifiable truths of science intersect with the less easily measured precincts of the heart in these eight seductively stylish tales." Barrett's characters are usually fictional, but they have touched shoulders with people we recognize, such as Mendel, Linneaus, Alfred Wallace; and several we may not know, such as the Canadian doctor who directed the horrendous task of caring for Irish immigrants on Grosse Isle during the typhus epidemic of 1847.

Many of the characters try to prove themselves in both science and love, but are often thwarted by gender, social position, or prevailing order. The stories are engaging and interesting. Some of the best historical fiction I've read and even though one of the themes is science, it's not necessary to have a science background to enjoy them. I plan on reading this book again - it is that good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Something Rotten

by Jasper Fforde
Book 4 in the Thursday Next series

I get the biggest kick out of this series. Fforde has a phenomenal imagination and he tells a great story. If you plan to read this series be prepared to suspend reality and enjoy a gripping, hilarious journey in an alternative 1980's England where there are chronoguards, bioengineered dodo birds and literature holds a prominent place. These books are mysteries, sci/fi, fantasy, drama, comedy with a bit of romance. Absolutely delightful.

In this episode Thursday Next returns to Swindon and her former job as a Literary Tech. She fights to prevent Goliath from from becoming a world dominating religion led by a fictional character. Her husband was eradicated from history in an earlier book and Thursday tries to get that eradication reversed. You can read a very nice review here.

The title of the book comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet - "There's something rotten in the state of Denmark." It describes a situation of corruption. Since the character Hamlet accompanies Thursday Next back from the world of fiction and Denmark is being blamed for all England's woes, the title is clever and appropriate. Also, the fictional character who is presently serving as Chancellor of England is embroiled in illegalities in order to rule the world. Something rotten, indeed.

This little description caught my attention: "Destiny's inelegant toe creaks the boards to your door."

A Pea Blossom

retold by Amy Lowry Poole
This is a children's book based on an Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Poole takes the story of five peas in a pod and sets in China where she lived for several years.

The peas in the pod share with each other what they want to do when the pod pops opens and releases them. One wants to fly to the sun, another to the moon, two want to dine with the emperor. The littlest pea wanted to go wherever it is that he was meant to go.

The littlest pea ends up on a windowsill with some mold and dry leaf rot. This is where he spends the winter. (I'd be thinking -So this is what was meant to be with my life?! Actually, that thought sounds resounds in my heart at times.)

Of course, that is not the end. As you can guess the end is lovely and the pea did have a purpose. You'll need to check this out from your library or you can read the Hans Christian Anderson's version here. The ending is similar.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

At Some Disputed Barricade

by Anne Perry
This is book 4 in Perry's excellent World War I historical fiction/mystery series. The year is 1917. Joseph Reavley, a chaplain, and his sister, Judith, an ambulance driver, are bone-weary as they approach the fourth year of the conflict. On the Western Front, the Battle of Passchendale has begun, and among the many fatalities from Joseph's regiment is the trusted commanding officer, who is replaced by a young major whose pompous incompetence virtually guarantees that many good soldiers will die needlessly. Soon he dies, too, but not from enemy fire, but by one of his own men. Joseph would like to turn a blind eye, but he cannot. In fact, he is charged with tracking his escaped comrades through Switzerland and return them to the front where they will have to stand trial.

Matthew Reavley is continuing his work in the Secret Intelligence Service and is in London trying to uncover the identity of the Peacemaker - an obsessed genius who has committed murder and treason in an attempt to stop Britain from winning the war.

One quote: If we have any right to claim that we fight for civilized values, a way of life acceptable to man and God, then we do not look away from the truth because it is not what we wish it to be or find comfortable to deal with.

So much of the tension in these novels comes from the clash between the atrocities of war and personal attempts at integrity and honor. These men were living in situations not even imagined in their worst nightmares. Joseph described the French trenches as a blood-soaked gateway to hell. Some of these men spent over 3 years in this hell, mindlessly killing the enemy who they knew were good, kind men with families of their own. They jumped up and over the sides those trenches day after day, watching their lifetime buddies falling around them and wondering if this was the day they would die.

With war as the backdrop, Perry's characters are challenged with decisions of honor, with questions of Gods existence, with the value of one life over another.

This book was released in March 2007. The last and final book comes out on Apr 10 - just one month later. I think that is very kind for those of us who are so anxious.

I actually read finished this book several days ago, but have been busy with family, so I'm a little slow in getting it posted.

And the Winners Are . . .

Congratulations to the following winners . . .

Flowers of Algernon by Daniel Keyes goes to Raidergirl3 from An Adventure in Read

Judy from Welcome to My World of Dreams won The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspears goes to Jill from My Individual Take (On the Subject)

Congratulations to each one of you. I hope you will enjoy reading these books. If you will send me an email to booklogged_reader (at) yahoo (dot) com that includes your snail mail address, I will get these in the mail on Monday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

More Than Friends

by Barbara Delinsky
This was a mediocre book, meaning I didn't hate it and I didn't love it. It's not one I would recommend that you rush out and read. It's a family drams that turn's out okay in the end. That's all I feel like writing about it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bumps in the Night

by Harry Allard
While the rest of the readers in the blogosphere are reading thoughtful and challenging books, this blogger steps away from the pack to read a banned booked intended for children ages 5 to 8.

I can see why Bumps has been challenged and banned. It is not a book I would choose to read to my grandson who is 5 yrs old. It's about Dudley the Stroke who moves into a haunted house. His best friend, tells him there are mediums who can talk to ghosts. So they hold a seance where the famous Mrs. Kreepy and her assistant, Lazlo Frog preside.

"Madam Kreepy began to make gurgling sounds in the back of her throat. 'Madam Kreepy is now in a trance,' said Lazlo.' 'Did you say Mrs. Creeper lost her pants?' Grandpa Python asked in a loud whisper." (there are some cute moments)

Anyway a horse's head appears behind Mrs. Kreepy. From then on whenever Dudley couldn't sleep he would visit with the horse who used to live in his house.

I'm all for imagination and books that help to put childish fears to rest, but I think the thoughts of sitting around a table holding hands and conjuring up the dead would be frightening to someone so young. As a parent/grandparent this is NOT a book I would bring home, but I'm not going to try to take away someone else's right to read it. I wondered if in some cases the book may have been challenged by the psychic community who objected to naming the medium Mrs Kreepy!

Monday, April 02, 2007


By Diana Gabaldon
I really love this series! Voyager is book 3 in the Outlander series. All the books are thick. In fact, I read this one for the Chunksters Challenge. I'm also counting it for my 1990 Decades Challenge book and for the TBR Challenge.

Originally this series was going to be a trilogy, so Voyager would have been the end. Thankfully, due to the great success of her books, Gabaldon has written 3 more books and turned the trilogy into a series. Book 4 is Drums of Autumn.

Definitely a romance, but also fits into the historical novel genre and then there's the time travel that takes Claire from 1940 back to the 1740's. I skipped a few pages here and there because I don't love detailed intimate moments in my literature. The rest of the adventure is spell binding.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's April - Buy a Friend a Book Week!

Spring does something to my mood. I'm so happy that the cold is warming, the snow is melting, and the flowers are blooming. In that same spirit, I want to join in this fun project of buying giving a friend a book. Besides, I need the good karma. You can click on the logo above to go to the blog of the creator of this idea and read all the background.

I am going to give away 3 books that I own and have read. To qualify for the drawing all you need do is leave a comment and indicate which of the 3 books you would like to win. Yes, I am making you pick! Call me names if you want, but you won't feel good about yourself if you win!
Also, please tell me one or two mysteries series that you really like. I don't know why I ask because I'm into several series already. I guess I just like to hear what everyone likes.

I would like to hold a drawing and give away my recently read copy of Pardonable Lies written by Jacqueline Winspear. Please note ***This is book 3 in the Maisie Dobbs series.*** I wish I had kept the first two in the series, but alas, I sent them off to BookMoochers. I think this is the best in the series so far. The story takes place post-WWI in London. I highly recommend this series.

The second book you may choose is the first book in Anne Perry's William Monk mystery series, The Face of a Stranger. I haven't read all the books in this series and I didn't start with #1. It was fun to read it after I already knew some of the events that had already transpired. The books are all set in Victorian England. This is another series I highly recommend.

The third book is not a mystery, but keeps your attention like one. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is a soft SciFi. It won a Hugo Award, a Nebulla award and the movie-adaptation Charly won an Oscar. A very good book.

I will draw the winners names next Sunday, April 8. Remember to indicate which one of the 3 books you would like to win. Deadline to enter is Sat, Apr 7 at midnight.