Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

by Brian Selznick

From an opening shot of the full moon setting over an awakening Paris in 1931, this tale casts a new light on the picture book form. Hugo is a young orphan secretly living in the walls of a train station where he labors to complete a mysterious invention left by his father. In a work of more than 500 pages, the suspenseful text and wordless double-page spreads narrate the tale in turns. Neither words nor pictures alone tell this story, which is filled with cinematic intrigue. Black & white pencil illustrations evoke the flickering images of the silent films to which the book pays homage. This write-up is taken from the Caldecott website.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret won the Caldecott Medal in 2008. The Caldecott Medal is awarded by the American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The book is geared towards the 9-12 age group.

I'm very glad I listened to so many of you that had read and recommended this book. I can't wait for my grandson to be old enough to read this. I think he'll be interested in the gears and automation. Oh, heck - the whole story will win him over! As it did me.

Friday, March 28, 2008


by Steve Zipp

Thank-you to Steve Zipp for sending me a copy of his book for the Canadian Reading Challenge. This book was a bit unsettling for me because it left me with so many questions when it ended, but it also stimulated a search for a few answers. I found myself looking at Yellowknife on Google Earth, discovering that it's bigger than I originally thought. I was awed at how far Yellowknife is from the U.S. and wondering if my husband and I would ever find ourselves in that neck of the woods.

I also read a few other reviews. I found one from the Danforth Review that helped me understand the book a bit better:
"It would be impossible to try and summarize the plot of this book. Set in YK just before Y2K, part of the story is about disposing of a missile found in a tree; part is about love and broken love; part is about the corrupting influence of diamond mine speculators; part is about hockey; part is about Franklin’s legacy of getting lost; part is about scientists and the dumb government bureaucrats who stifle them. And there’s a lake monster and some talking animals near the end." --by Amy Reiswig

The book has several main characters, some of which never come in contact with the others. And there are many different story lines. There's Danny who comes to Yellowknife in search of a new life, who winds up living in the dump for a while where he meets Freddy. Danny also does some house-sitting for a couple. While house-sitting he discovers an underground tunnel that's part of a gold mine.

Nora is engaged to Hugo, but they have a big fight and Hugo leaves and never returns. Nora's office is moved to the basement of the building and she ends up sleeping there - under her desk. One night the wall crumbles and she wanders into the underground tunnel where she meets a dentist and his wife.

Hugo is saved from a near drowning, but he never goes back into Yellowknife or to Nora. At first he has amnesia, but even after he's memory returns he doesn't return to Yellowknife

When we next meet up with Freddy he is with his 4-yr-old son, Tyrone, who doesn't speak, but just plays his game boy.

I enjoyed this book even though I didn't always know what was going on. As I read over the discussion questions provided on Steve's website, I realized I missed a lot of innuendo and hidden meaning. Some days I wished I'd have majored in English instead of Science.

Some fun passages:
"Government had a way of warping thought and twisting speech."

"Her predilection for travelling had a whiff of obsession about it, and her inquisitiveness was undermined by an earnest desire to lead others to improvement."

"At length he decided they (stories) were a way of offering advice without being confrontational. Harmony was essential for people who lived in isolated close-knit groups. Instead of issuing orders, they told stories."

Maps of Bones

by James Rollins

When parishioners are burned to death in a German cathedral, the U.S. sends in the SIGMA force. The team discovers someone has stolen the priceless treasure stored in the cathedral's golden reliquary: the bones of the biblical Magi.

This is an intense, mystery/thriller adventure similar in style to Dan Brown's books. I read it for the themed reading challenge - my theme being books with the word bone/bones in the title. It's a page-turner, very interesting and a fun read. I will be looking forward to more books written by Rollins.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lady Killer

by Lisa Scottoline

I have a few authors that I watch for their new books - Lisa Scottoline is one of those. She writes great mystery/suspense novels usually featuring female lawyers and set in Philadelphia.

In Feb I read an excellent review of Lady Killer on Kay's blog, My Random Acts of Reading. She had received it as an ARC and I expressed my jealousy. Kay kindly sent word that she would be happy to send me her ARC. WOW! Isn't she nice? It arrived at my house just days before our trip to Arizona, so I took it along. I only got 50 pages read, but that was a good start. The night we got home I was ready to curl up and read but I couldn't find the book anywhere. I searched high and low, finally calling my sister in Cedar City. Sure enough, I left it at her house just a mere 7 hrs away! There's nothing like being all set to curl up with a good mystery that's just getting really good and not be able to. I was deflated. Next day I went to the library. They had a copy but it was still in processing. So I had to wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, it was available on Monday. It was worth the wait.

Lady Killer features Mary DeNunzio of the all-female law firm of Rosato & Associates. Mary is contacted by a group of girls that she referred to in high school as the "mean team." One of the girls is dating a mob member who she believes will soon kill her. When Trish turns up missing, Mary goes in search of answers. Mary has to face demons from her past as well as problems at work as she tries to uncover what has happened to Trish.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

River Secrets

by Shannon Hale

Booklist calls this a stand alone adventure. I think it could be read on its own, but I think it works better to read it after Goose Girl and Enna Burning.

Razo is the main character and is one of the ambassadors of peace to a country that was just defeated by his country. He is in a difficult position and he has quite a bit of self-doubt, but he tries to push himself into the role his leader has for him.

This is not my favorite of Shannon Hale's books, but it was still very good. Her writing is engaging. I often catch myself mulling over an arrangement of words that caught my attention. Unfortunately, I didn't mark any, for which I'm kicking myself. That's one of the highlights of finishing a book for me - to go back and read certain passages. It helps review certain aspects and events of the story.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Anne of Avonlea

by L.M. Montgomery

What a delightful book. I was a bit worried that after Anne finished school (in Anne of Green Gables) the series would loose some of its magic. Not so. Although I missed Matthew, the addition of the twins was fun. Davy is definitely a kindred spirit for Anne.

I used lots of bookdarts in this book. I'll probably use a dozen more when I reread it. Here are some of the ones I marked:
"We make our own lives wherever we are, after all. They are broad or narrow according to what we put into them, not what we get out." --Mrs. Allan

"I wish you could think first and do things afterwards, 'cause then you wouldn't do them." --Davy

"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string." --Anne

"That is one good thing about this world . . . there are always sure to be more springs." --Anne

Charlotta the Fourth admired Anne wholeheartedly. It was not that she though her so very handsom. Diana Barry's beauty of crimson cheek and black curls was much more to Charlotta the Fourth's taste than moonshine charm of luminous gray eyes and the pale, ever changing roses of her cheeks.
"But I'd rather look like you than be pretty," she told Anne sincerely.
Anne laughed, sipped the honey from the tribute and cast away the sting. She was used to taking her compliments mixed. . . . Anne herself would never believe that she had any claim to beauty. When she looked in the glass all she saw was a little pale face with seven freckles on the nose thereof. Her mirror never revealed to her the elusive, ever-varying play of feeling that came and went over her features like a rosy illuminating flame, or the charm of dream and laughter alternating in her big eyes.

"Now where is the romance in all that?" asked Marilla.
"Oh, there isn't any, when you put it that way," gasped Anne, rather as if somebody had thrown cold water over her. "I suppose that's how it looks in prose. But it's very different if you look at it through poetry . . . and I think it's nicer."
Marilla glanced at the radiant young face and refrained from further sarcastic comments. Perhaps some realization came to her that after all it was better to have, like Anne, "the vision and the faculty divine" . . . that gift which the world cannot bestow or take away, of looking at life through some transfiguring . . . or revealing? . . . medium, whereby everything seemed appareled in celestial light, wearing a glory and a freshness not visible to those who, like herself and Charlotta the Fourth, looked at things only through prose.
Anne of Avonlea was published in 1909 - the year my grandmother would have turned ten, almost 100 years ago! It's story is still as fresh and mood-altering today.

A big THANK-YOU to Raidergirl3 who presented me with my copy of Anne of Avonlea when we visited last summer in the PEI. Every I picked up or laid the book down I would be flooded by those memories in the Pub, our good visit, and the bagpipes marching by. Delightful evening!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Once Upon a Time II

Even with snow on the ground, I can no longer deny that spring is on its way. It's time for Carl's Once Upon A Time Challenge II, which in and of itself is a harbinger of spring.

There are three quests to choose from again this year. I'm going with Quest I because I think I can do that one and still finish the other challenges I've signed up for, three of which will be ending before summer. This challenge runs from March 21 through June 20.

Quest the First

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

I'll choose books from this selection:
1. River Secrets by Shannon Hale
2. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
3. Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
4. Yarrow by Charles de Lint
5. Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

If you haven't been to Raidergirl3's blog lately, you will want to stop by and leave your answer to the question: It's Tuesday, Where Are You? Every Tuesday she asks this question and readers tell where they are in their reading adventures. I love reading all the comments and it gives me a chance to pause and savor where I've been traveling through my reading.

Be sure to stop by An Adventure in Reading and see all the places we go.

Monday, March 17, 2008


by Nicole Galland

It's when I finish a really good book that I most wish I had the skills to write a descent review. To provide a quick overview of the storyline here is the write-up from HarperCollins:

In the year 1202, tens of thousands of crusaders gather in Venice, preparing to embark for Jerusalem to free the Holy City from Muslim rule. Among them is a lowly vagabond Briton, rescued from damnation by a pious knight who burns with zealous fire for their sacred undertaking. And so they set sail, along with dedicated companions—and with a beautiful, mysterious Arab "princess" whom the vagabond liberates from a brutish merchant. But the divine light guiding their "righteous" campaign soon darkens as the mission sinks ever deeper into catastrophe, disgrace, and moral turpitude—as Christians murder Christians in the Adriatic port city of Zara, tragic events are set in motion that will ultimately lead to the shocking and shameful fall of Constantinople.

Impeccably researched and beautifully told, Nicole Galland's Crossed is a stunning tale of the disastrous Fourth Crusade—and of the hopeful, brave, and driven who were caught up in and irrevocably changed by a corrupted cause and a furious battle beyond their comprehension or control.

Galland is a Harvard graduate in the field of comparative religious study. She has researched the Fourth Crusade and uses it for the backdrop of this captivating and witty story. And although the history is brought vividly to life, it's the development of her characters that makes this such an enjoyable book. Oh, and the humor, too.

The story is told in first person narrative by two of the main characters: The Briton tells most of the story with occasional diary entries by Gregor, the knight, son-in-law to Boniface (a real person from history) and the protector of the Briton. This type of narration works beautifully in the telling of the story.

The following are quotes from the Briton:
"I don't like someone having to explain to me why a thing is significant or moving to me to be moved by it. That's why I like music - all you have to do is experience it and you know all by yourself whether you've been moved or not.""The golden glow that suffused his being when he was doing what he knew was expected to him congealed into a tepid, grey fog of indecision when he had to mint his own moral coins."

"If you meet a good man and see him getting pulled into politics, do him a favor and ruin his reputation early on."

". . . the trouble with hindsight is that you never have it until after you need it."

"That's like saying . . ." I tried to think of a metaphor that was worth of my scorn. "You may as well say, here is a king and here is a worm. The both sleep wrapped in silk, so are they not the same creature?"
And finally some good advice from Jamilla to the Briton that I thought would be good for me to remember.
"I think it is best to remain still during chaos. This is chaos now around us, and the next few days are likely to be so. But then things will be calmer, and we can see straight again. Right now, when so much is about to happen, and so quickly, and we know so little, the best action is no action at all. Let us draw breath and see what happens next."
I was going to hold a drawing a give my copy away when I finished reading it, but I've decided to hold on to. Sorry about that. But I do highly recommend this book.

Bones to Pick

by Carolyn Haines

Amazon Book Description
"Wickedly witty and full of more dirt than a debutante's diary, the mysteries of Carolyn Haines bring the southern Delta to roaring, rollicking life...
Intrepid P.I. Sarah Booth Delaney has been known to single-handedly save her family's Mississippi plantation, converse with Dahlia House's ghost, and capture a killer or two. But when a local girl is found dead in a cotton field, it's enough to make a lady toss back a Bloody Mary before noon on Sunday.

Someone held twenty-three-year-old Quentin McGee's face down in the rich Southern soil until she suffocated. The lawmen think Quentin's lover killed her. When the suspect's brother hires Sarah to prove his sibling innocent, Sarah quickly learns that the victim had plenty of wealthy, powerful enemies. Each had a bone to pick with Quentin for writing a scandalous exposé on her hometown. Adding spice to the gumbo is the news that Quentin was due to inherit the family fortune the day after she was killed...and that a second book was in the works. From illicit lovers and outraged families to slandered aristocrats, everyone is a suspect--and no one is safe..."

This is book #6 in the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. I liked it a lot and plan to read more. I've mooched the first 3 in the series. I like the covers of the earlier books better than the later covers, but, oh well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another Bloomin' Challenge

I've just discovered a fun new reading blog: Connect the Plots. Esther is hosting Another Bloomin' Challenge that sounds like the perfect thing for those of us longing for spring.

The first green shoots are starting to push through the dirt of my bulb garden...and make me long for the flowers of Spring. So I'm proposing a flower-themed challenge to get you in the spirit of the season.

BUD-VASE: Just as a bud vase highlights the beauty of a single bloom, this challenge level asks you to read a single book with a flower in the title.

NOSEGAY: Like a small bunch of flowers gathered together, this challenge level asks you to read two or more books with the same flower in the title.

BOUQUET: Fill a vase with the bounty of the season. For this challenge level read four or more books each with a different flower in the title.

GARDEN: When you just can't get enough, this challenge level requires you to read six or more books with flowers or flowery words (bloom, blossom, petal, etc.) in the title.

  1. The challenge will run from March 20, 2008 - June 20, 2008.
  2. You can choose one of the four levels (or participate in several levels!)
  3. You can cross-post with other challenges. You can even count the same book for different levels in this challenge!
  4. Sign up and post reviews at the challenge blog:
I'm into the challenges pretty heavy right now, so I perused my list to see if there were any BLOOMIN' titles I could use. Here's what I found:
Yarrow by Charles de Lint
Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Not one of those sounds like a good harbinger of spring! I will have to think on this challenge a bit more before joining up. I really don't think I have the time, but it sure does sound fun.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homeless Bird

by Gloria Whelan

Homeless Bird won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2000. Aimed at the audience of 9 to 12 year olds, it has charm for any age reader. I often found myself wondering about young Koly throughout the day.

Koly's parents arrange for her marriage to a young man in another village when Koly is only 13 years old. She tries to catch glimpses of her husband during the wedding and hears his voice for the first time as he says the wedding vows. He is much younger than the 16 years his parents were told, perhaps even younger than Koly, and he is very sick. Soon after the wedding, the bridegroom dies and Koly becomes a widow.

I felt a great deal of pain for Koly who tries to make the most of her situation even though she is filled with despair at times. Whelan handles the isolation of widows in India in a gentle manner for young readers, while providing glimpses of the fear and despair, the separation from family and the trials of both young and old women who are not taken care of in society.

I highly recommend this little gem.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cross Bones

by Kathy Reichs

I read this for the Themed Reading Challenge. My theme is books with the word bone in the title. So far I've read two by Kathy Reichs, both in the Temperance Brennan mystery series. Earlier I read Bare Bones - #6 in the series. Cross Bones is #8. I don't feel like it's mattered that I didn't start with the first book.

Since reading Bare Bones I've watched the first season of the TV series, Bones, which is based on the books. They are enjoyable.

The books are based on Reichs real experiences as a forensic anthropologist. In Cross Bones Temperance is called upon to help in a murder investigation of an antiquities dealer. The death may have something to do with some bones that may be from a family grave site at Masada.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


by Lois Lowry

I love Lois Lowry and her books. I didn't know anything about Gossamer before reading it. Sometimes it's fun to open a book and just let the story come from the unknown. Lowry reveals the story of a inquisitive, almost transparent and courageous dream maker in a tantalizing manner. I was engaged with questions and pieces of the story that made me keep eagerly reading. She is an expert storyteller.

Gossamer is aimed at ages 9 - 12, but can be enjoyed by those of us who are MUCH older.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Collectors

by David Baldacci

I think this is the second book that features the Camel Club and it's leader Oliver Stone. I've thoroughly enjoyed both. I borrowed this audio from my sister and Candleman and I listened to it on our long-loop drive in Arizona. We were both a bit confused after the first CD, what with the plethora of characters and a couple of separate storylines, but we persevered and were duly rewarded.

The Camel Club is a group of four dysfunctional crime solvers headed by ex-Cia assassin Caleb Shaw, who now goes by the name Oliver Stone. When a good friend is murder they take up the hunt to discover the murderer.

In a subplot, a beautiful young woman is planning an ingenious con on a sleazy owner of a Atlantic City casino. I liked wondering how in the world the two plots were going to merge. When they did the plot grew thicker, as they say.

I'm looking forward to the next book featuring the Camel Club.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wowsie! What a Book Give-Away!

Today I stopped by one of my favorite blogspots, Framed and Booked. (Okay, so I'm groveling. I forgot her birthday and I'm seeking forgiveness...) But seriously, her blog is one of those I check regularly. Good thing, too. Framed had a post about an absolutely fabulous book giveaway.
Win six books - YES, six!
All you need to do to sign up for the drawing is visit
The Page Flipper
where you can see the titles of the books Chelsea is offering. Then send her a short, but sweet, email. If you're like me you'll probably add Chelsea to your feed read because she has a fun blog.

Good luck, but you need to know that I'm going to win. (The power of positive thinking and attraction!)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Far North

by Will Hobbs

Another audio book listened to on our Arizona trip. We really felt the juxtaposition of settings: the book setting was the Northwest Territories during the winter with temperatures as cold as -40 degrees; the trip setting was southern Utah, northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon with temps between 60 and 75 degrees. Add to that the great contrast in scenery. It may have been more in keeping with the drive to listen to a Tony Hillerman, but I have no regrets. Far North is full of adventure, action and drama. We enjoyed every stop along the way, but when we got back in the car we couldn't wait to turn the audio on.

This description is from the author's website:
From the window of a small float plane, 15-year-old Gabe Rogers is getting his first look at Canada's magnificent Northwest Territories with Raymond Providence, his roommate from boarding school. Below is the spectacular Nahanni River: wall-to-wall whitewater racing between sheer cliffs and plunging over Virginia Falls. The pilot sets the plane down on the lake-like surface of the upper river for a closer look at the thundering falls. Suddenly the engine quits. The only sound is a dull roar downstream, as the Cessna drifts helplessly toward the falls. . . . With the brutal subarctic winter fast approaching, Gabe and Raymond soon find themselves stranded in Deadmen Valley. Trapped in a frozen world of moose, wolves, and bears, two boys from vastly different cultures come to depend on each other for their very survival.
A book for grades 6 and up that will grab the interest of young men (and old men and women, too).

*An aside: The boys in Far North attended a school in Yellowknife. I have a book from author Steve Zipp that's titled Yellowknife which I'm looking forward to reading. I learned that Yellowknife is the capital of the Norwest Territories.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

by Alan Alda

After reading Raidergirl3's glowing review of this book, I added it to my TBR list. Then I saw it at the library in audio form. The perfect thing to listen to on our trip to Arizona! Candleman, my mother and I all loved it. In fact, we thought we'd like to check out the hard copy and re-read it. I was happy to listen to the audio, though, because Alda reads it.

Alda tells about incidents in his early life and draws comparisons to his present life. He weaves together lessons he's learned with real life anecdotes. His writing and retelling of his life is often humorous - that goes without saying, right? But not always.

I was struck with Alda's love of learning and his desire to grow and develop in every aspect of his life. I grew to love his wife, Arlene. While listening to accounts of their early married life, I kept hoping they were still together.

The lessons Alda has drawn from his life were all applicable to my, but they are fresh not cliche. I highly recommend this well-written and well-told memoir. And I look forward to re-reading it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fun, Fabulous and FREE!

The kind ladies at Girls Just Reading are giving away a copy of Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. I'm really looking forward to reading this one and I have my fingers and toes crossed to win. So why am I telling you about it? To get my name in the drawing twice!

Click here to enter for your chance.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Winner is Announced...

The winner of my blogger birthday giveaway is


Congratulations, Trish! I hope you enjoy Crossed. I am loving it so far. I had to put it on hold when my husband came home from the hardward store last Thursday afternoon and said, "Let's go to Arizona and get some sun!" I pulled out a mystery to take on the trip because I needed something breezy. I don't get much reading done on trips, but I do get to enjoy some audio books with Candleman.

Just a sidenote - I saw my first saguaro cacti today. They are fascinating. We're in Tuscon tonight where it was 80 degrees earlier today. Almost too hot. Meanwhile at home it is snowing and 35 degrees. It's so easy to feel tickled through and through at moments like this. Tomorrow we are going to a wonderful place called the Desert Museum which was recommended by out good friend, Shelley. She lived in Tuscon for years. We'll be thinking of her tomorrow as the hummingbirds swish by and we see lots of blooming desert flora.

I hope you'll all jump on over to Trish's blog and congratulate her. She has a terrific blog.

Another Chance to Win a Book

Candleman is offering a copy of Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage by Wallace Goddard. Jump on over to his blog, Fundmental Joy! to read his review and to enter the drawing.