Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Map Thief

by Heather Terrell

Mara Coyne is hired to find a stolen artifact that may prove that China discovered a way around the southern tip of Africa before Vasco de Gama and the map would also show the Chinese discovered America in the early 1400s.

The book jumps back and forth between 3 time periods, telling the story of the mapmaker, a navigator for de Gama and Mara's search for a map stolen from an archeological dig in China. I thought this was an effective way to tell all three stories, even though it was a bit confusing at first to keep track of the main players.

I always like a book that keeps me interested and teaches me at the same time. I 'felt' the time periods and identified with the feelings of the main characters. The bigger story, that of finding the map, was all the more interesting because of the struggles that went into making the map and preserving it. I wanted the map to be found and the right thing done with it.

I liked this book well enough that I bought Terrell's first book, The Chrysalis. I would definitely recommend this to others who like historical fiction.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Admit One

by Emmett James

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of a young British boy who grows up with the desire to be a movie star. Emmett James grew up loving the movies and looked forward to seeing one every Saturday. Each chapter opens with the title of a movie that correlates to an incident from his own life. Here's a quote from the introduction:
I wrote this book under the guise that the key to experiencing film, without losing relevance and meaning, is context. The environment, mood, personal history and circumstances in which a person sees a film changes that film in a necessary, unique and exciting way. It creates a whole new story - a living, breathing film. The film of one's life.
Interesting. We could say the same thing about experiencing a book, couldn't we?

It was interesting to read about a young boy growing up in England in the 1980s because it was so different from my life growing up female in the 60s in America. And yet going to the movies was a highlight for us both. His movies were Jungle Book, Grease, ET; while mine were Old Yeller, Big Top, and West Side Story.

I loved running across British terminology and wished I'd made a written note rather than only a mental note of all the fun words as the mental note fades so fast. The only word that comes to mind right now is nick, meaning to shoplift.

When Emmett moves to LA he receives quite the culture shock and makes some interesting comments about things that I take for granted as part of the American life style. He talks about the sunny climate and that the only season in LA is the Oscar season and what a big change there is in throughout the whole area in getting ready for it. He had many interesting experiences trying to land acting jobs. Poor guy!

All-in-all, an enjoyable book with some nuggets of insight into life. I liked it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Children's Books

I've received some delightful children's books recently from some very gifted authors, illustrators and publishers and I've been slow to post my reviews.

Fire Fish written and illustrated by Davy Liu
Fire Fish follows three little fish, Sarai, RaaOn and Sesom, who embark on a daring quest to find their missing parents. Never more than a fin-flip away from deadly danger, they tumble from one breathtaking exploit to another. Along their journey they encounter helpful friends and deceitful enemies. All the while, the legend of the Fire Fish inspires them to explore a world bigger than they ever imagined. Leaving the comfort of their home, they find a wise turtle who teaches them how to call upon the great Finmaker. In dark tunnels, an evil eel attempts to lure them into his hungry jaws. After a narrow escape, they find their way to the big ocean, teeming with fish of every kind. They meet new friends and play games until a friendly dolphin warns them of danger. An army of great white sharks is approaching, gnashing everything in its path. In the thrilling climax, the glorious Fire Fish appear, returning the lost parents and saving everyone from the deadly sharks. Meet the characters and learn more at

Davy Liu has a passion for imaginative storytelling and beautiful illustration. He worked for Disney on “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Mulan,” and “The Lion King.” A seasoned professional, Liu has also worked for George Lucas and Warner Bros. Animation. His illustrations have graced the pages of Time, The Wall Street Journal and Business Week. Liu imbues his stories with humor, wonder and allegory, making the Fire Fish a tale that appeals to kids and intrigues adults. “I hope to inspire young souls to experience life through faith,” said Liu. “There is more to life than meets the eye. Every kid has different gifts. Though we live in very distracting times, I want kids to know their life is valuable not because of status or material things.” Taken from a Kendufilms Press Release

I highly recommend Fire Fish. The story is inspiring and the artwork is beautiful. My grandkids love it.

Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring by Ron Pridmore, Illustrated by Michel-lee Phelan

This is another book that I love reading to my grandkids and when I'm not reading it they will take it off the shelf and look at the pictures telling the story in their own way. Little Templeton is such a cutey - I've always been partial to turtles even though my science students always presented me with frog items.

When Templeton Turtle hatches from his egg, he can't wait to start exploring on his own and making new friends. But as he explores the big pond, Templeton realizes that not all the animals are friendly, and some can be scary! Then, when Mr. Blue rescues him from being trampled and returns him safely to his mother, Templeton learns that the animals around the pond take care of one another, no matter what their differences are. From the front cover

The Magic In You!
Written and Illustrated by Sally H. Taylor

This story is about a little flower who looses one of her splendid petals to a goat who nibbles it off. She suffers with feelings of poor self-esteem. Of course in the end she comes out victorious.

I felt this story stretches too much to preach it's lesson. I know that I'm inherently rebellious and hate to be preached to but, because I am, I like my lessons to be a bit more subtle.

And, I know this is nit-picky, but it bothered me that all the way through the story the flower is shown as a daisy-like (compositae) flower and then the back cover says, "Within every wildflower a rose is waiting to bloom!" Like that's ever going to happen! And what's wrong with being a wildflower, if that's what you are and you're never going to be a rose? That's like saying within every person with brown eyes is a person with blue. Absurd.

Also, on the flower topic: Keep in mind that I'm a retired science teacher who took five botany classes in college, but I was bothered that this compositae flower which is a dicot is depicted with monocot leaves. I know that it's entirely silly of me, but I can't help it. That would be a silly reason to not like a book, but it's not my only reason.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

When Twilight Burns

by Colleen Gleason
If this cover looks familiar on my site, it should. I held a drawing in August even though I wasn't quite finished reading it. I am behind on writing my reviews. Not drastically behind because I've still not been reading as much as usual. Don't know what's wrong with me, but as the cooler weather is setting in and everyone around me is back to school or at least living on schedules again I think I'll be reading more.

I finished When Twilight Burns a few weeks ago. Darn! I love being wrapped up in a book that has me hooked into the storyline with great characters, lots of action and mystery and it's always a bit sad when I turn the last page.

I've mentioned on other occasions that I'm not into romance or vampire related novels, but Colleen's Gardella Chronicles have captured my heart. When Twilight Burns is the fourth in a series that will be over with the next installment. It's going to be uberly sad when I finish the last page of that book.

I've always been hoping that Max would win the beautiful Victoria's heart, but after this book I am torn. I still love Max, but I think so much more highly of Sebastian than I have before. Who do you like better - Max or Sebastian?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Lucky Winner Announced

I'm a couple of days late in announcing the winner of this fabulous book. So without further adieu . . .

A big congratulations to J. Danger. I'm sure you will totally enjoy Farworld: Water Keep. Be sure to click over to her blog and congratulate her. She has a really fun blog and you'll enjoy your visit there.

J. Danger, as soon as I get your address I'll send it off to Scott who will send you an Advance Reader's Copy Water Keep. I look forward to reading your thoughts after you read it.