Sunday, December 31, 2006

You could win! Click on the book cover or the scarf. Then enter your name in the comments.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

13 Favorite Books Read in 2006

This list of 13 favorites is chosen ONLY from the books I've read this year - 2006.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and The Book Thief by Mark Zusak tied for first place. Both are finely written books with characters that pull on your heart strings and yet fill you with hope and rejoicing in their strengths. I read The History of Love twice this year and enjoyed it even more with the second reading.

You all know how impossible it is to arrange favorites in a list with any type of order. It's impossible. Books can be so different but equally enjoyed, so the rest are arranged in no special order.

3. Hallelujah by J. Scott Featherstone
4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
7. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
8. Folding Paper Cranes by Leonard Bird
9. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
10. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
11. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
12. Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett
13. Devil's Corner by Lisa Scottoline
13. Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
13. Angels in the Gloom by Anne Perry
13. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
13. Face Down Beneath the Banquet House by Kathy Lynn Emerson
13. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

Okay, so I stuttered there at the end. I just had to include 6 of my favorite mystery reads of the year!

A note to anyone who read this post earlier. I lost part of it earlier today, so I had to go back through my posts of the year to find my favorite books. I think I may have changed a few titles. Ask me tomorrow and they will probably be different again, but MOST are the same.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I spent part of this afternoon wrapping presents. Outside the snow was falling in big, soft snowflakes. It was beautiful. Wrapping and snow falling put me in the Christmas spirit. I should say it increased my Christmas spirit. I want to wish you all the best during the holidays. And I want to thank you for the gift of friendship and book suggestions you've shared with me this year through your comments and blog posts. I thought when I started blogging that I was just going to record my books. I didn't realize friendships would develop with such interesting people from all around the world. Thank-you.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thank-you, Colleen!

I finished Hallelujah on Sunday evening and what should appear in the mail on Monday, but a gift from Colleen Gleason. It was her brand new, very first, intirguing and tantalizing book, THE REST FALLS AWAY! Can you believe it?! I have a book that's not even in the bookstores yet. And, it's signed. Thank-you, Colleen. I'm almost to page 100 and loving it.

That's not all my good news. You could also get a free, first edition, signed copy of THE REST FALLS AWAY. Just click on the book cover (stunning cover, don't you think?) and it will take you to a post where you can leave your name for a drawing. You must get your name in by midnight on New Year's Eve. I will announce the winner on New Years Day.

You want more good news? You can also put your name in for a drawing for this book on Carl's blog Stainless Steele Droppings. (Ya gotta love that name!) The deadline for his drawing is Dec. 23 and he will be drawing the winner's name on Dec. 24.

Even more good news! You can enter for several different types of drawings at Colleen Gleason's website and at her blog site. She even has a page on her website with a list of bookstores where you can pre-order the first 2 books in the series. Trust me - you are going to enjoy them. You can see the cover for the second book, too. The second book's cover is just as incredible as the first.

Monday, December 18, 2006


by J. Scott Featherstone
Rating 5/5
There's a part towards the end of this book where one of the main characters is pondering her love of her daughter and she thinks that mere mortal words cannot express that love. As she listens to Handel's Messiah she realizes that music added to the incompetent words can express the feelings more accurately. Perhaps if my simple post could be accompanied by glorious strains of music I could better convey the impact this book had on me.

I knew very little, really, about Handel's life. Featherstone tells the story of his fame and censure at the whims of London society remarkably well. The depiction of the time period, both upper and lower class, is very well done. Had Featherstone just told the story of Handel this would have been a masterful book, but he includes several fictitious characters, that seem very real, and who I cared for as much as I did for Handel. One of the auxillary characters is the Packrat, a street urchin who always leaves something behind in exchange for what he's stolen.

Hallelujah deals with themes of purpose, redemption, charity, pride, and love. I cried and laughed. I stayed up late because of the suspense. Every once in awhile I could unwrap myself from the story to savor the beautiful writing. I wish I could give this book to everyone I know. I have my husband to thank for bringing Hallelujah to my attention. He bought and read it and highly recommended it. Thanks, M.

I was going to put of reading Hallelujah until next Christmas and count it for the Chunkster Challenge, if it went that long, but then Carl issued his G.I.F.T. Challenge and I decided to read it as one of my new books in that challenge. So this is post 3 out of 4 for the G.I.F.T. Challenge. It was definitely a wonderful Christmas G.I.F.T. for me.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Chunkster Challenge

Another challenge - Hip, hip hooray! These challenges help me branch out and to get books read that are piling up on my shelves or on my TBR list. So I'm grateful for the instigators and their encouragement to 'get it read!'. This challenge is a doosey! Thanks go to Bookfool for coming up with the term and the challenge - CHUNKSTER. Don't you just love it?

I picked out 12 books for this challenge before I knew it was only going to last 6 months. So I'm going to post all 12 and then I'll choose 6 from the list as the whim hits me when it's time to pick up a new book. Maybe if I get in the habit of really really BIG books, I'll continue to read all 12 by the end of the year. More likely, I'll chuck the Chunkster in favor of slim books! Anyway, here's my list:

Woman in White by Wilke Collins

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (I've read this book, but it's been awhile and I feel like I need to read it again before reading Inkspell.)

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

Dreams Under Foot
by Charles deLint

Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

Quincunx by Charles Palliser

The Way the Crow Flies by Anne-Marie McDonald

The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

Green Darkness by Anya Seton

A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George or The Snow Fox by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

These are all books I own, so it will feel great to read some and then pass the books along to somebody else. That way I free up shelf space for NEW-TO-ME books.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Cat Who Wasn't There

by Lilian Jackson Braun
Rating 3.25/5
Braun's cat mysteries aren't very intensive, but they are fun and perfect for listening to while running errands around town. I really like the main character, Jim Qwilleran. Qwilleran owns 2 Siamese cats that help him solve mysteries. The title for this book in the series comes from the fact that a murder takes place in Scotland, where Qwilleran was on a sight-seeing trip, and still Koko was able to 'hint' to Qwilleran who the murderer was.

This book actually has several mysteries intertwined and is a bit more complex than the 2 or 3 others I've read. Even at that it took several tapes before the story really got rolling.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Forgotten Carols

This Christmas season I decided to reread a book that I haven't read in years. It's a beautiful book about Nurse Constance, who never wanted to be called Connie. She was given an assignment at Christmas time to care for an elderly man thought to be a bit 'off his rocker'. He asked her to call him Uncle John and he insisted on calling her Connie Lou. When she persisted that he call her Nurse Chamberlain or Ms. Chamberlain, he responded
"If I call you Nurse or Ms. or something equally distant and lonely, that's all you'll ever be to me. But Connie Lou . . .ah, there's someone worth getting to know."
As Uncle John and Connie Lou decorate the tree, John tells her the significance of each ornament. In the process, he shares the real story of Christmas and magically helps her become less lonely. There are beautiful songs woven into the story. The music and words for each 'Forgotten Carol' is included at the back of the book. We own the book, the book on tape and a tape of the carols. The book and songs are written by Michael McLean. A delightful story and beautiful songs.

One of my favorite parts of the book and the song tape is the story told of a young angel who tried out for the heavenly chorus that was to sing on the day of Christ's birth. He sang his little heart out. The Grand Chorus Master smiled and nodded to his chief assistant to show the little angel out.
"This isn't fair," he said, "If you could hear what is in my heart, you'd let me sing."
How many times have I felt that same way. In my heart the music is indeed beautiful, but it doesn't come out that way, at all. My heart just breaks for this little angel that I can so heartily identify with. The story goes on to tell how the angel pleaded with the Grand Master, while softly, at first, songs of hallelujahs began in the background.
"Oh, little one," the Grand Master said, "you have so much to give, and your time will come."

"Then I can't sing with the choir?" he looked for him to change his mind, but he only shook his head and smiled.

"You have a different voice, but it will be heard. Centuries from now it will be heard. More orchestras and choirs than you can now imagine will be giving the music of your heart a voice that will echo through time."
The songs of the Messiah began to swell in crescendo as a backdrop to this sad little scene. The angel still doesn't understand, but the reader does.

I read this book because I knew it's message would lift my spirits and as part of the G.I.F.T. Challenge hosted by Stainlees Steel Droppings. This is post 2 out of 4 for this challenge.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

GI.F.T. Challenge

I am planning on doing four separate posts for the GI.F.T. (Giving Inspiration, Fostering Tradition) challenge. The challenge is to give of yourself for the shared edification and inspiration of others. Your favorite Christmas movie, story, song, etc. may just inspire others to try it out. At the very least we will share in your joy and enthusiasm as you give us a glimpse into who you are by sharing memories, traditions, and favorites.

I would like to suggest a wonderful gift you could give the booklover or student on your list: Bookdarts. When I'm reading a library book and want to keep track of a quote, I love these little things. When I write my thoughts in my reading journal, I can quickly find the quote. I used to use a little scrap of paper and then, sometimes, I'd have to read two pages to find the lines that I wanted. The bookdarts point right to it.

For books that I own, I leave the bookdarts in and so later I can pick the book off the shelf and quickly find a morsel that will enlighten, instruct, or cheer. These brief rereadings are priceless to me.

Right now you can order tins of 125 darts for $10 each in quantities of 3. This is a great deal. I think the ones I purchased from a bookstore were $9.25 for 1 tin of 50 darts. You can order online from and s&h is only $3 for all 3 tins. This little company from Hood River, Oregon ships orders out within a matter of days, so you still have time before Christmas to get some. BTW, I do not get a commission. In fact, bookdarts doesn't even know that I just did a free ad. I just really like the product and thought you might too.

Brother Odd

by Dean Koontz
Rating 3.5/5
Odd Thomas is just that odd, but in a very likable way. He sees dead people and other personages not of this world. He has seen a lot of violence and unhappiness in his young life and in an effort to keep things in perspective he has developed a delightful sense of humor. In Brother Odd, he lives in a monastery in hopes of finding some peace and to separate himself from the last two horrendous episodes that occurred to him. Of course, he doesn't find peace, but he does meet some interesting people and an ominous enemy.

I probably didn't enjoy this 3rd book in the series as well as the first two, but it was still a fun read. If, and I'm sure it will, a 4th book is added I will be in line to read it. One of the things I like about Koontz's books is the feeling of hope I always have when I finish a book. The bad, the chaoz, the evil in the world can be quite overpowering at times, but the main characters always have a chrystalized hope and belief in good. I like the encouragement I get from these feeble, humble and very real characters. And I always come away with some good quotes:

When we hope, we usually hope for the wrong thing. We yearn for tomorrow and the progress that it represents. But yesterday was once tomorrow, and where was the progress in it? Or we yearn for yesterday, for what was or what might have been. But as we are yearning, the present is becoming the past, so the past in nothing but our yearning for second chances.

The true source of the chill might have been an understanding that our only choice is pyre or pyre, that we live and breathe to be consumed by fire or fire, not just now and at St. Bartholomew's but always and anywhere. Consumed or purified by fire.

I regretted having to let the air out of her plan after she'd evidently spent some time inflating it.

That is the best of all things we can do for one another: Make the dark small.

Knowing that my husband and probably my daughter will be reading our copy of this book, I occasionally slipped a book dart at a meaningful, funny or poignant line or where I thought Koontz wrote a beautiful description or made use of words and language in an unexpected way. I felt like I would be sharing something with them even though I'd moved on to a different book and did't even remember why I thought something was noteworthy. Hopefully, in the context of the book they will know and find themselves smiling or nodding in agreement.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Baron in the Trees

by Italo Calvino
Rating 2.5/5
The Baron got rave reviews on amazon, but it's not getting those from me. It may have been the wrong time for it to resonate with me, but resonate, it didn't. I never sat down for more than 15 min. at a time, so maybe it was the choppiness that hurt its rating. On the other hand it never pulled me in to read it for longer.

In this fantasy/fable set in the eighteenth century, tells the story of Cosimo, a young Italian nobleman, who rebels against parental authority by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life.

There are a few good lines in the book, however.
He understood: that association renders men stronger and brings out each person's best gifts, and gives a joy which is rarely to be had by keeping to oneself, the joy of realizing how many honest decent capable people there are for whom it is worth giving one's best (while living just for oneself very often the opposite happens, of seeing people's other side, the side which makes on keep one's hand always on the hilt of one's sword).

He knew her and so himself, for in truth he had never known himself. And she knew him and so herself, for although she had always known herself she had never been able to recognize it until now.

There can be no love if one does not remain oneself with all one's strength.

Only by being so frankly himself as he was till his death could he give something to all men.

Win A Book on New Year's Day!

I'm very excited to be hosting this drawing for a free, signed, first edition book written by first time author Colleen Gleason. I have not read The Rest Falls Away since it won't be released until January 2, 2007, but the trailer is captivating and I'm sure the book will be too.

Here's a brief book description offered on
In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of vampire slaying, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget. And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.
Sounds romantic and thrilling all in one, doesn't it? This contest is easy - just leave a comment and I will put your name in for the drawing, which will take place on New Year's Day. The deadline for entries is midnight on New Year's Eve. Colleen will sign the book and send it off to you. What could be better?

In the meantime, visit Colleen at her blog, For All the World to See. It's a fun, fun blog. Her Dec. 1 post shows her ecstatic feelings when she received the first copy of her book. This is just one of two pictures she shared on her blog.

On the sidebar of For All the World to See is a message board where you can have a conversation with Colleen and ask her questions about the book, her writing experience, her inspirations, etc.

Colleen also has an author website where you can read more about The Rest Falls Away and enter a contest to get your name featured in one of the books of the series.