Showing posts from September, 2007

September in Review

This month I've got a total of 19 books, plus only 1 DNF. My DNF this month was an obscure Jules Verne title and you can read what I had to say about it here on Library Thing. A lot of the books I read this month were shorter children's or YA books, so not quite as much reading as last month even though the book count is higher.

I read a lot of books this month that I really enjoyed, so it's hard to pick the best book of the month. But after thinking about it the book I would start reading all over again right now would be Winnie-the-Pooh!

The worst book of the month is an easy choice. It is Cross Bones, hands down. A big disappointment!

Best book for September: Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Worst book for September: Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

85. The Dark Goodbye Vol. 1 by Frank Marraffino
84. Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
83. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
82. Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs
81. Secret Seven Mystery by Enid Blyton (RA)
80. Rises the Night by Colleen…

#85. The Dark Goodbye Vol. 1

The Dark Goodbye Volume 1
Written by Frank Farraffino
Artwork by Drew Rausch

Pages: 188
Finished: Sept. 29, 2007
Reason for Reading: just picked it up from the library because I liked the cover. This will qualify for the RIP Challenge
First Published: 2007
Genre: manga, horror, mystery
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

The day was calm, but beneath the surface a foul sickness lurked.

Comments: The introduction page calls this a "fusion of Chandleresque hard-boiled noir and the weird horror of H.P. Lovecraft". I have not read either Chandler or Lovecraft so can't comment. What I can say is that it certainly is weird! An alcoholic private eye is hired by a beautiful dame to find her missing twin sister. She conveniently leaves out the part about her family being in cahoots with obscure creatures from the underworld. There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour and obviously a parody of the genre yet incredibly gruesome. We find man-eating giant plants, an insane asylum, rotting walking corpse…

#84. Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
First in the Warriors series

Pages: 272
Finished: Sept. 29, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've wanted to read this series for a long time so I picked this as a choice for the Four-Legged Friends Challenge
First Published: 2003
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

A half-moon glowed on smooth granite boulders, turning them silver.

Comments: It took me a while to like this book. First, the plot is pretty much cliched and predictable. Second, and mostly, I just had a hard time warming up to the animals. I didn't find anything likable about packs of stray, feral cats with ticks, slit ears and missing tails, Yet, as I kept reading I was slowly won over by the personalities of the main characters. I think I would have liked this better if it had been set in a world without humans (such as in Redwall or Ga'Hoole) as it would have been easier to accept the cats as dignified characters. For the first 7 or 8 chapters I just kept thinking some Two…

#83. The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Pages: 530
Finished: Sept. 27, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've been reading so many good reviews of this that I just had to read it myself
First Published: 2007
Genre: children fiction, historical
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

The story I am about to share with you takes place in 1931, under the roofs of Paris.

Comments: This is a wonderful book! It is a beautiful, captivating story. I hadn't realized beforehand that it was about a real person involved with the first movies ever made. The time period and the movie history was fascinating, the characters sweet and the story was fast paced. The book itself is also an invention of a new way of reading. Illustrations propel the story along and are used in such a unique way to show the action. Near the end of the book there is a chase scene which is told completely through pages of illustration and it is a brilliantly intense part of the story. I hope others will take the cue from the book and woul…

#82. Break No Bones

Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs
Ninth of the Temperance Brennan series

Pages: 337
Finished: Sept. 26, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 2006
Genre: forensic crime, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Never fails.

Comments: Temperance Brennan is back in this taught thriller. Working a summer teaching job on the shores of South Carolina, Brennan finds herself in the middle when bodies keep turning up, each connected to the previous. After being disappointed with Cross Bones, I am pleased to find Break No Bones as good as the previous books. Another solid entry in the Brennan series.

#81. Secret Seven Mystery

Secret Seven Mystery by Enid Blyton
Ninth of the Secret Seven series

Pages: 87
Finished: Sept. 24, 2007
Reason for Reading: read this to my 7yo, we are working our way through the series, though not in any particular order
First Published: 1957
Genre: children's mystery
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

Peter and Janet were having breakfast with their father and mother one lovely spring morning.

Comments: I don't really have a lot to say about this one. They are pretty much formulaic with one being pretty much like another. But the seven year old is enjoying them and cannot figure the mysteries out yet. I am asking him every now and then as we read the mysteries for his opinions and he is pretty ingenious with some of the things he comes up with. This story revolves around a girl (around the age of the secret seven) who has been accused of stealing some money from her teacher and then runs away. The secret seven, upon their father's suggestion, decide to try and find the girl. The 7yo fou…

#80. Rises the Night

Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason
Second of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles

Pages: 334
Finished: Sept. 23, 2007
Reason for Reading: read this for the RIP Challenge
First Published: 2007
Genre: paranormal romance
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

One month after she lost her husband, Victoria took to the streets of London.

Comments: This is a whirlwind of a read. We hit the ground running from the first page and keep going until the final pages. Victoria travels to Italy and must stop a powerful Vampire from gaining control of the souls of the dead. I have to say I enjoyed this even more than the first book. The romance part is done very well, there are a few sexy scenes but mostly the story focuses on the vampire part of the plot. I stayed up way past my bedtime two nights in a row reading this, each chapter ends in such suspense that I kept needing to read "just one more chapter". My favourite character in this series is Sebastian, he is so swoon-worthy (LOL). The shocking ending was such…

#79. The Capture

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
First in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Pages: 219
Finished: Sept. 20, 2007
Reason for Reading: read this for the Four-Legged Friends Challenge
First Published: 2003
Genre: children's, animal fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Noctus, can you spare a bit more down, darling?

Comments: I haven't really heard much about this series and thrifted the book this summer because I loved the cover. Needless to say, I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. Soren, a hatchling, has been kidnapped and taken to a place where evil owls are turning the young into workers and slaves. Soren makes a friend and together they must find a way to escape.

This was a beautiful story with wonderful characters. I love little Digger, whom we meet near the end. This is a struggle of good vs.evil, a story of friendship, and a tale of rising up against those who want to keep you down. Even though this is an animal fantasy with talking animals, the author has kept the owls …

#78. Ransom

Ransom by Lois Duncan
Previously published as Five Were Missing

Pages: 172
Finished: Sept. 19, 2007
Reason for Reading: I was impressed with the first book I read by Duncan and wanted to try another.
First Published: 1966
Genre: YA, thriller
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

The kidnapping took place on a Thursday.

Comments: Another tight, suspenseful thriller from Lois Duncan! Five students living in a rich area of town are kidnapped and held for ransom. The perspective switches occasionally from the teens to the parents and we find that each family has problems and secrets. The characters, as well as their background, are incredibly well-developed, especially for a book that comes in at under 200 pages. The plot was very suspenseful and just when you thought you knew how it would end you were thrown for a twist. The back of my book states that Lois Duncan has written 45 books, so I can see I've got a lot more reading ahead of me. Highly recommended!

#77. Marianne Dreams

Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, illustrated by Marjorie-Ann Watts

Pages: 204
Finished: Sept. 18, 2007
Reason for Reading: one of the books I chose for the RIP challenge
First Published: 1958
Genre: children's fiction, Gothic
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

Marianne had looked forward to her tenth birthday as being something special; quite different from any birthday she had yet had, for two reasons.

Comments: Marianne is a bedridden invalid and when she draws a house with a pencil found in her grandmother's sewing basket she finds herself in the drawing whenever she sleeps. In this dream world she meets a lonely boy, also an invalid, and together they become very frightened as the dreams become more sinister. This was a very atmospheric story, both dark and gloomy. There are some quite frightening scenes that I imagine would have scared me as a child. I really enjoyed the plot and found it a very unique premise but at only 204 pages it wasn't developed enough. I'd recommend t…

#76. The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, illustrated by Garth Williams
First in the Chester Cricket series

Pages: 151
Finished: Sept. 18, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 1960
Genre: children's fiction, animal fantasy
Awards: Newbery Honor Book
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

A mouse was looking at Mario.

Comments: I have read this book several times now and I still get a little teary-eyed at the end. A warm, gentle story that entertains kids and adults. My 7yo enjoyed the book though it is not a page-turner but more a slow-paced, heart-warming book. One where the characters become your friends. The language is wonderfully descriptive and memorable. Every time I pick this book up I start to remember the scenes of the old Chinese man at the store in China Town. I can't talk about the book without mentioning the illustrations. Written in a time when children's novels were always illustrated, Garth Williams pictures are fabulous. He is one of my…

#75. Fluke

Fluke, Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore

Pages: 311
Finished: Sept. 17, 2007
Reason for Reading: I wanted to read another Christopher Moore book and this was the only one available at my library.
First Published: 2003
Genre: humour, science fiction
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Amy called the whale punkin.

Comments: This was a wonderful book! I won't even try to give a plot summary as it starts out weird and just gets weirder and weirder from there. Even though strange, I found the story incredibly compelling; this was a book I couldn't put down. Also very funny, in a Terry Pratchett kind of way. Not as burst-out-laughing funny as A Dirty Job, but still pretty hilarious. This is my second book by Moore and I now must read everything he's written. He's simply brilliant. His characters are so real, even though they are very eccentric and often times out-of-this world (literally) they come across incredibly real and likable. I think I'll go back to the b…

#74. Aunt Dimity's Death

Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton
First in the Aunt Dimity series

Pages: 244
Finished: Sept. 15, 2007
Reason for Reading: when I read a blurb about this series and saw mention of a ghost as one of the characters, my interest was piqued and I just had to try it out.
First Published: 1992
Genre: cozy mystery, ghost story
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

When I learned of Aunt Dimity's death, I was stunned.

Comments: This book was pure joy! What a charming, delightful story. A down-and-out recent divorcee finds she's come into some money when a relative she didn't know about dies. Only she must travel to England first to settle some matters and uncover the secret surrounding Aunt Dimity. This book is classified as a mystery but there really isn't much mystery to it. It involves a secret, but the book defies genre. It starts out as a fairy tale, turns into a ghost story and all the while is a romance. The characters were a delight and I found myself smiling the whole time I was r…

#73. Cross Bones

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
Eighth in the Temperance Brennan series

Pages: 351
Finished: Sept. 14, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 2005
Genre: forensics mystery
Rating: 2.5/5

First Sentence:

Following an Easter dinner of ham, peas, and creamed potatoes, Charles "Le Cowboy" Bellemare pinched a twenty from his sister, drove to a crack house in Verdun, and vanished.

Comments: This is most certainly the weakest of Kathy Reichs' books I've read. I really didn't care for this one much. The plot revolves around an ancient Biblical mystery and was very reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code. The murder that takes place at the beginning of the book was almost an afterthought. The first 200 pages dwelt on Biblical history and the religious political intrigue of some ancient bones of which fanatical Christians, fanatical Jews or fanatical Muslims all had their own reasons to either hide or make known the truth. Around page 200, we were returned to the original …

Four-Legged Friends Reading Challenge

I've been thinking about this challenge for the last few days and I've finally decided to join.

Kailanais hosting this challenge in honour of her dog, Sandy, who recently passed.

Rules: read 3-5 books that have an animal as a main or important character
Sept. 20 to Feb. 26th

At first, I was thinking about the books I'm reading-aloud to my son as part of his curriculum. We use a literature-based curriculum and he is currently studying animals of the world. But I'm going to read those anyway and I thought it would be more fun to pick some different titles just for me.

The first book on my list is one I've been meaning to read for ages but keep never getting around to it. This is the perfect opportunity to finally get around to it and check it out from the library! For the rest of the books on my list I browsed my own bookshelves and came up with some I'm excited to read.

1. Into the Wild (first in the Warriors series) by Erin Hunter (this is the one I'…

#72. Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Pages: 159
Finished: Sept. 11, 2007
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1926
Genre: children's classic, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.

Comments: What can I say about this book? Except that if you haven't read it, you really must. A truly wonderful story to read-aloud and suitable for all ages, young and old. The language and the illustrations are both equally beautiful. The 7yo has always been a big Winnie the Pooh fan and seeing the twinkle in his eyes as I read this to him is priceless. These would also make wonderful bedtime stories as each chapter is pretty much a self-contained story, though reference to past events is occasionally mentioned. We are both looking forward to reading the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner. I only wish Milne had written more.

#71. Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie by Stephen King

Pages: 245
Finished: Sept. 10, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've decided to read Kings book in order, this is his first published book. I also read this for the RIP Challenge.
First Published: 1974
Genre: horror
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

It was reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlain on August 17th.

Comments: I was 11 years old the first time I read this book and it frightened me terribly. I remember having to hide the book when I wasn't reading it because just looking at it scared me! Re-reading it as an adult, I didn't feel the same way at all. This is King's first book and you can tell. It is a short, fast read and not particularly scary, frightening or even gross. I did really enjoy the epistolary aspects of the novel written from newspaper accounts and books by the participants. I think the scenes of Carrie's mother are the creepiest because as a paren…

#70. A Man Lay Dead

A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
First in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn series

Pages: 176
Finished: Sept. 9, 2007
Reason for Reading: I'm working my way through this series
First Published: 1934
Genre: mystery, British cozy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Nigel Bathgate, in the language of his own gossip column, was 'definitely intrigued' about his weekend at Franstock.

Comments: A thoroughly delightful old-fashioned British mystery. A group of people are invited to Franstock for the weekend to participate in a 'Murder' party, except instead of a pretend victim they are confronted with a real corpse. I love these types of mysteries and this one was very clever. I was not able to figure out whodunit and was tickled with the plot twists at the end. The cast of characters are all very stereotypical portraits but that is what makes them so fun. In this first of the series, in which we are introduced to Inspector Alleyn we are not given much information about his character or personal l…

#69. Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard

Pages: 351
Finished: Sept. 8, 2007
Reason for Reading: this book was chosen for me in the Go Review That Book game thread at Library Thing, and it is a read for the Book Awards Challenge
First Published: 1984
Genre: historical fiction
Awards: Guardian Fiction Prize (shortlisted for the Booker Prize)
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

Wars came early to Shanghai, overtaking each other like the tides that raced up the Yangtze and returned to this gaudy city all the coffins cast adrift from the funeral piers of the Chinese Bund.

Comments: On the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, all European and American persons in Japanese occupied China were herded into internment camps. This is the story of one boy's war, eleven-year-old Jim who is separated from his parents on that fateful day. First living by his wits on the streets, a foreigner in the country in which he was born, and then later joining other British and Americans in an internment camp where he i…

Sadly Missed

Died of natural causes , aged 88, Madeleine L'Engle will be sadly missed.

Newbery Project

When I heard about the Pulitzer Project and the Booker Project, I said to myself that I wished someone would make a Newbery Project. Guess what? They already did! So I found out about this today over at Dewey's (blog removed) and right away I had to go sign up. This is an on-going Project with no deadlines. I've marked the ones I've read but haven't reviewed in RED. There are a few I'm not quite sure if I've read them or not and I've marked them GREY.

I've read a few of these as a kid and a lot as an adult. But most of them I've read as read-alouds to my older son over the last 12 years or so, as we've homeschooled.

Links to my reviews are added as I review them, with re-reads noted in bold.  My goal is to have a review of every Newbery winner on my blog :-) Then we'll talk Honors LOL!

The Newbery Winners

2016: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
2015: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
2014: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adve…

#68. The Rest Falls Away

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason
First in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles

Pages: 347
Finished: Sept. 4, 2007
Reason for Reading: decided to read for the RIP Challenge
First Published: 2007
Genre: historical fantasy, paranormal romance
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

His footsteps were soundless, but Victoria felt him moving.

Comments: It has been a very long time since I read anything that had 'romance' written on the spine but this 'paranormal romance' may just become a new obsession! I enjoyed this immensely. It was a couldn't-put-it-down read. This vampire hunter novel has a definite Buffy feel to it, yet Gleason has very much made it her own. Victoria is a spunky, strong, sexy Venator (vampire hunter) who I can't wait to read more about. I really enjoyed the historical Regency setting and the ending was amazing. I read the book with enjoyment from start to finish but as I was reading I felt I knew where it was going and how it would end. Boy, was I wrong! I'm l…

#67. Pure Dead Wicked by Debi Gliori

Pure Dead Wicked by Debi Gliori
Second in the Pure Dead series

Pages: 211
Finished: Sept. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series, this is one of my picks for the RIP Challenge
First Published: 2002
Genre: YA, urban fantasy, humour
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Much later, Titus was to remark that this must have been the only time in history when a dirty diaper could be said to have saved several lives.

Comments: The second entry in this series is just as good as the first (see my review here).

The Strega-Borgia's castle is in need of roof repairs and they head off to a hotel while it is being fixed. Little do they know that the building contractor is in cahoots with a real estate developer who wants the property for himself.

The Scottish humour is hilarious. The author puts a capital G on the word "Gross", but in such a funny way you don't mind being grossed-out. My favourite characters are the nanny, Mrs. McLachlan, a witch, and Tarantella, a lipstick-wearing s…