Monday, October 30, 2006

Salt Lake City Book Festival, Part Two

I was a bit hesitant about going to the festival this year because the list of authors was not drawing me. My mother and I have attended this event for the past three years, so it was a fun tradition that I didn't want to see end. Finally, we decided to go. My sister and daughter decided to join us, which made it even more fun. Once in Salt Lake another daughter and a niece joined us. The company was great.

Friday night there was only one presentation - Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame. We were all lukewarm about attending, but enjoyed Jennings very much. He's a Utahn who has recently had his first book published, Brainiac, Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs. Here's a couple of excerpts from the inside flap of the jacket: "Whisking us from the coffeehouses of seventeenth-century London to the Internet age, Jennings chronicles the ups and downs of the trivia fad." "Jennings also investigates the shadowy demimonde of today's trivia subculture, guiding us on a tour of trivia hotspots across America." All the chapter headings are written as questions. He signed my book, "Who is Ken Jennings?" Cute, huh?

Saturday I attended the following sessions:
Peter Brown, author and illustrator of children's books. I bought and had him sign Chowder and Flight of the Dodo. Both books are fabulous.
Lawrence Yep, author of nearly 60 YA books. I bought Dragon's Gate for my daughter. Yep signed it and etched a little picture on the title page.
Tracie Morris, poet. This session was interesting. Morris read a few poems and also performed some of her sound poems. I wasn't extremely fond of her stuff, but I was happy to be exposed to something so innovative as sound poetry.
Janet Tashijan, author of YA fiction. She is a high-energy person, who talked fast and fidgeted a lot while sitting. She wrote True Confessions which was later made into a Disney TV movie.
Karl & Anne Taylor Fleming, journalists. Karl covered stories such as the Watts riots and Martin Luther King. Anne told a little about her first interview which was with Truman Capote.
Shannon Hale, author of Princess Academy, Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets. This was the one person I really wanted to hear. We got seats on the front row and were also first in line for book signings. She was delightful and very funny. She told about her adult novel coming out in the spring. It's about a woman who can't get passed her infatuation with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth. I can't remember the title. Good grief! But it sounds funny.

In addition to the Festival, we ate at delectable restaurants and were joined by family members who lived in or close to Salt Lake. Lots of good times and memories.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Salt Lake City Book Festival

I'm off for 3 days to the SLC Book Festival. My mother, sister, daughter and I are going out together. Should be lots of fun. Shannon Hale, who wrote Goose Girl and Princess academy, is one author we're excited about. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My R.I.P. Challenge Reads

September and October brought me unexpected pleasure this year thanks to Carl's R.I.P Fall Reading Challenge. It's fun to delve into a genre that I only occasionally read. And delve I did, with gusto.

Here's a list of the books I read for this challenge.
1. The Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. The Thirteen Tale
4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
5. The China Garden by Liz Berry
6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
7. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
8. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I was richly rewarded by this experience. I never thought I would enjoy Dracula, but I loved it and, because of it, I read The Historian and Twilight, two other vampire books. From the books listed, my least favorite was Twilight and I liked it a lot. Thanks, Carl, for issuing the challenge.


by Neil Gaiman
Rating: 4.5/5
This book was a joy to read. I received it as a present from Bellezza when I won a drawing during Buy Your Friend A Book week. Periodically while reading, I would be caught with the thought that this book came from Bellezza and that would make me smile. To think it had once set on a shelf in her house and that she also read it made it doubly fun to read.

I rated this book higher than Neverwhere. I think subconsciously the dark, damp world of the London underground may have affected my overall feelings about Neverwhere. Stardust was much lighter.

The story is about a falling star, the three different groups of people who see it fall and the meaning they attach to it. A member of each group sets out to find the fallen star, by doing so, that person will receive something of great meaning to them.

I would recommend Stardust to anyone who hasn't yet read a Neil Gaiman work. It is a wonderful fairy tale. Thank-you, Bellezza, for the very fine gift. I enjoyed it immensely.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Hearing

by John Lescroart
Rating 4/5
Earlier this year I read Second Chair by Lescroart and enjoyed it enough to read another of his. Since finishing The Hearing I've done a little research on Lescroart. He has three mystery series: Dismas Hardy, Abe Glitsky and Wyatt Hunt. The Second Chair is the ninth in the Dismiss Hardy series and was written in 2004. The Hearing is the third out of four in the Abe Glitsky series and was written in 1999. What's funny about this is that both books included both men; one who is an attorney and the other who is a police detective. Hardy and Glitsky have a close friendship and sometimes help each other on various cases.

I haven't found that it has hurt me to read these two books out of order, but I think I'm interested enough now that I'll go back to the start and read both series. Lescroart writes well without adding gratutious sex and violence. Reading to find the solution to the crime is compelling and it's hard to put the book down.

Another interesting tidbit I learned about Lescroart is he writes his own songs and has a CD published. Country-type music. He has a nice voice.

Friday, October 20, 2006


by Stephanie Meyers
Rating: 3.75/5
I'm really quite amazed. I've never read a vampire book in my life and in the last two months I've read three. I figured that The Historian would be my last RIP Challenge read, but then I saw a couple of reviews for Twilight and, since I was still in the mood for creepy, I decided to read it.

This is a Young Adult novel so it went quite quickly. I thought the first two thirds of the book was a bit mundane, but the last third totally made up for it. I couldn't believe how fast the girl fell in love with pale boy, but I wrote that off as the draw a vampire can have on a person. My age, advanced as it is, may have been another factor in my rating. I grew tired of the over-dramatic romantacism of young adults. Give me Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes or Amelia Peabody and Emerson - Oh, Wait! I forgot that I adore Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy - anyway, you get the point.

The last part of the book was definitely intense and worth the read. The last sentence leaves you hanging and you have to know what happened. The perfect setup for a sequel, enter New Moon.
I thought the cover of Twilight was very enticing and full of symbolism that fits the story; Eve trying to get Adam to take a bite of the apple. Enticing! The cover for New Moon definitely catches my imagination as well. I like the simplicity and the colors used in both. The paleness of the girls white skin, the vivid red and the black background.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rightfully Mine

by Doris Mortman
Rating 4.5/5
This was the selection for my f2f bookclub. It's a chunkster with 626 pages, but it was good. I waffled about reading it because it looked like a romance and I really don't like romances. There was romance, but I would classify this book more as a drama.

The main character finds herself divorced, without a job, an aunt that is dying, and a son in boarding school. She is unskilled so she has a hard time landing a job. Eventually she uses her knowledge of antiques, move to NYC, and changes her name slightly and is hired by an antiques dealer. Her life spirals up and down from there.

The reason the book is so long is because there are several characters and each of their recent life histories are told. Their histories help me care more about the people and it complicated the plot, making the story more interesting.

I liked this book well enough to look for others titles Mortman has written. There were a few lines that I especially liked. This line came from the narrator during a scene with Gaby and her Aunt Simone. "Both of them knew that the page on which they had charted their life together was running out of space." I thought it was a beautiful way of expressing the simple idea that time together was growing short.

This line came when Gabby was asking Armand about the medieval banquets and why they didn't have dining room tables. Armand says, "The did have dinner parties, but the ones you're thinking of were held in the grand hall, not a dining room. And while the table may have been enormous, it was little more than a huge board on thick trestles. All the guests sat on backless stools, the one chair being reserved for the lord of the manor, who sat at the head of the table. He was the 'chair man of the board.'" I love finding out little tidbits of history and the origin of words and terms.

Another great line: "Like most opportunities, this one didn't knock as much as it slid into place, greased by timing and coincidence."

Last one: "Deceit, like nuclear energy could be contained, and yes, some of its uses were good not evil, but with something that continued to gain strength and momentum even in its confinement, there was always the risk of a leak, always the danger of a ruinous explosion."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Online Book Clubs

Earlier in the year I was trying to find an online book group but was unsuccessful. Since then I've become aware of several. For those of us who live in out-of-the-way places where bookclubs don't exist or there's only one that isn't very interesting, these online clubs are great. If anyone who stops by here is interested here are a few links. If you know of anymore let me know.

The Blogger Book Club
is hosted by Mizbooks. Nominations for the Nov. read are still open. So visit her and nominate a book that you want to read that you've heard great things about.

Reading Matters is reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Discussion will start in about 2 weeks. Watch for a new book nomination to be coming up.

Stephanie and Maureen host The Written Word. Their current read is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Our Coffee Rings October read is a Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald's book, The Way the Crow Flies. There are 5 choices listed for the Nov. read, so if you're interested go on over and vote on the one you'd like to read.

Slaves of Golconda are presently reading Indiana by George Sands. They will soon be choosing a new book for Nov.

Michelle and a few friends at Overdue Books are reading The Thirteenth Tale for October and The Memory Keepers Daughter for Nov.

Litblog co-op offers a seasonal reading experience. For the Autumn 2006 Read This! the book choice is Firmin by Sam Savage.

Kate and several of her friends have an interesting group at A Curious Singularity. They review one short story by a different author each month. This month they are discussing Virginia Woolf's Kew Gardens. Choices for Nov. through April are listed in the sidebar.

Mizbooks at Biblioholism (a disease taking over all my cells!) participates in The Alphabet Readers group. The goal is to read books that start with every letter of the alphabet by either author or title or both. Several blogsters are already doing this, but you may want to join the group for encouragement or suggestions to fill certain letters.

Yahoo! Reading Groups provide an extensive list of 2,186 reading and/or writing groups. You can find 164 Science Fiction and Fantasy reading groups, but only 64 Mystery reading groups. (What's up with that?!) Other specialized groups include Oprah's Book Club with a listing of 74 different book groups and Cultures and Groups that include such subgroups as African American Reading, Moms, Teenagers, etc. There are even groups for audio books, to buy, sell and trade books, etc. You could spend days looking over the lists. So this might be a good thing to know on those days when you are plum worthless in the areas of housework, cross-stitching, quilting, scapbooking, cooking or going to the job. Thanks Lesley for providing a heads up about yahoo reading groups. Lesley belongs to the yahoo group called On The Front Porch. Love that name and I love the picture on the site.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Second Chair

by John Lescroart
Rating 4.25:5
Well developed characters who are real-life people with problems who are trying to solve puzzling crimes. A teenage boy is accused of killing his girlfriend and his drama teacher. The evidence is stacked against him. His lawyer makes a few misjudgements, so her boss becomes the second chair to help her with the trial.

I really enjoyed this book. A few surprises and a well-told story.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Face Down Beneath the Banqueting House

by Kathy Lynn Emerson
Rating 5/5
Book #8 in the Lady Appleton mystery series was most enjoyable.
Let me share a quote from Julia Spencer-Fleming that was on the back flap: "Kathy Lynn Emerson effortlessly transports us into a vividly-detailed 16th century, peopled with real human beings whose ambitions, fears, and crimes are authentically grounded in the politics, religious tensions, and mores of the elicited era. Emerson deftly slips her meticulous scholarship into a honeyed comfit of murder, malice, and manor houses."

In this novel Queen Elizabeth and her court are on the move and they are heading toward Leigh Abbey, where herbalist and widow Susanna Appleton lives. During the preparations two men are murdered. There are several twists and turns, several hidden secrets are revealed, and eventually an intricate mystery solved.

This may be the best of the series. After #7's disappointing read, I'm glad the series is back on track with this one. If you love mysteries this is a great one. If you like historical novels, you'll really enjoy this one. All and all, a good read.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Face Down Across the Western Sea

by Kathy Lynn Emerson
Rating 2.5/5
I was so disappointed in this mystery, the seventh in the Susanna, Lady Appleton series. I have so enjoyed the earlier books. This one started out 'warbled' meaning to me that it was unclear and confusing. There was some really interesting historical facts, but the storyline wasn't the best. I would have decided not to read anymore books in the series, but I had the next sitting on the shelf and it was an interlibrary loan so I felt some obligation to. So I'm reading #8 right now. It's already more interesting. Whew!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Oh, Happy Day!

You'll never believe it. I almost didn't. Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza is buying me a book for Buy a Friend a Book Week! *dance a jig* *jump up and down* My book is Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Isn't life grand?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Need Help - Acutally a Lot of Help!

BUT the only help I'm going to ask for right now concerns a Classic Reading Challenge. I had so much fun doing Carl's Autumn R.I.P Challenge that I thought it would be fun if we were all encouraged to read some classics.

BUT when to start? I thought about Nov through Feb. Wondered if that would be too long and what with Dec being such a busy month. So I thought maybe Nov, Jan, Feb but that seemed a bit choppy. Next I wondered about just Jan and Feb. That way we could hurry and read some delicious books that don't fit any category in the meantime.

BUT how many books for the challenge? I liked reading five for the R.I.P. challenge. If we combine one or two harder ones with some easier ones that sounds manageable, doesn't it? Let me know what you think.

BUT what to do for the prize? No suggestions, I'll take care of this one. I don't have any plans yet, but I'll enjoy planning it.

BUT Carl didn't need any help planning his challenge. I know, I know! What can I say? I just need help.

BUT what exactly is a classic? That's a hard thing to pin down. No definition but here's a list of classics and here's a list of classic authors.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Historian

by Elizabeth Kostova
rating 5/5
Let me just say - This book was spine-tingling! I loved it. What a great book to read in conjunction with Bram Stoker's Dracula. My mother read The Historian when it was first released and commented on the interesting historical aspects. I enjoyed the history, too, but I was not prepared for the suspense. It gave me the chills. No nightmares. Yet, anyway.

Kostova told an icredible story using narative and letters from several different characters with three distinct storylines being told simultaneously. Each story built on the other and each narration propelled the story forward.

The Historian is book #6 for the Fall RIP Challenge. I have really enjoyed reading eerie, scary, gothic books this last month. Although I look forward to reading a few cozy mysteries, I am a bit sad to leave this challenge behind. I look forward to next year and I'm sure I'll sneak in some other thrillers before then. Besides, I've put my name in for a book drawing, asking for Stardust by Neil Gaiman. AND I AM GOING TO WIN!