Showing posts from November, 2007

#121. The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
His Dark Materials: Book One

Pages: 368
Finished: Nov. 29, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've wanted to read this for ages and now that the movie is coming out I really wanted to get to it. It also was chosen for me in the GRTB thread on LibraryThing.
First Published: 1995
Genre: YA Fantasy
Award: Carnegie Medal
Rating: 3.5

First Sentence:

Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.

Comments: Lower class children are disappearing and when Lyra finds that her friend is missing she wants to find him and get him back. Lyra becomes caught up in her new life but eventually realizes that all is not as it seems and those she trusts are involved with the disappearance of the children. Lyra goes on a quest which ultimately results in her following her destiny. I wanted to like this book much more than I did. Honestly, I wasn't even close to blown away. The story was slow to start. Lyra w…

Governor General's Winner

Yay! I'm so glad, the winner of the Governor General's Awards were announced today and the winner of the Children's Award was Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence. It was my favourite of the nominees, though I wasn't able to get a copy of one of the nominees.

You can read my review of Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence.

And my reviews of the others on the shortlist are:

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Alchemist's Dream by John Wilson

Kanada by Eva Wiseman

120. The Apprentice

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
Second in the Jane Rizzoli series

Pages: 344
Finished: Nov. 27, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series.
First Published: 2002
Genre: thriller
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Today I watched a man die.

Comments: A serial killer is on the loose and he is preying on couples asleep in their beds. Jane Rizzoli is on the case and she notices a similarity with the killer from the first book. This was a fabulous thriller. Not as gruesome as the first but still very chilling. I was not fond of Rizzoli in the first book but she has developed and become a much more intricate (and likable) character. Gerritsen has a knack for writing unique killers and I was fascinated. I'll definitely continue reading this series.

Short Story Monday

I'm really enjoying my short story readings. I seem to have a little routine going with them right now. Every Friday and Saturday night, I climb into bed and read one short story before I start on my current novel. Both selections this weekend were great.

#5. Riding the Doghouse by Randy Devita - An eerie, disquieting story of father and son. A man remembers back to the year he was twelve and accompanied his trucker father for a week in the summer. The uneasiness in this story slowly builds and I really enjoyed it.

#6. My Brother Eli by Joseph Epstein - A man's younger brother (in his seventies) commits suicide and the older brother tells the story of his life. He was a famous writer, self-centered, egotistical, married five times with various children the brother has never met. The author contemplates whether an 'artist' is entitled to special rights and should be excluded from normal, decent behaviour because of their 'gift'. This story was longer than the othe…

119. The Case of the Missing Marquess

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
An Enola Holmes Mystery

Pages: 216
Finished: Nov. 24, 2007
Reason for Reading: Saw it on display at the library and was intrigued by it.
First Published: 2006
Genre: children, mystery
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

The only light struggles from the few gas street-lamps that remain unbroken, and from pots of fire suspended above the cobblestones, tended by old men selling boiled sea snails outside the public houses.

Comments: Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of the famous Sherlock Holmes. She wakes up one morning to find that her mother has disappeared and as she searches for his missing mother she finds herself in the middle of the kidnapping of a young marquess. This is a fun, light read with an enjoyable story. My main problem with the book was the main character who was just not believable for me. She felt like a modern girl who had been plopped down in Victorian times. Her attitude and behaviour did not come across as a product of the t…

#118. 'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Pages: 427
Finished: Nov. 23, 2007
Reason for Reading: I am working on re-reading Stephen King's works in order of publication. This is King's second novel
First Published: 1975
Genre: horror
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.

Comments: I was 11 years old the first time I read this and didn't remember anything about it except that it scared the living daylights out of me. I had a totally different experience this time around. This is your basic vampire story. An evil vampire moves into a very small town and slowly starts to turn the residents into vampires. A small group of people figure out what is happening and decide to take him out. I didn't find this scary at all. There have been a lot of vampire books written since 1975 and this one comes off as being rather lame and predictable. However, I would guess that in 1975 it was something different.

The reason I enjoyed this book was …

#117. Kisscut

Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
Second of the Grant County books

Pages: 422
Finished: Nov. 19, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series.
First Published: 2002
Genre: forensic thriller
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

"Dancing Queen," Sara Linton mumbled with the music as she made her way around the skating rink.

Comments: This is a chilling thriller that follows a case of self-mutilation, child abuse and child pornography. The book is riveting, it was one that I could not put down but was also an incredibly dark and gloomy read. I was hooked from the first page. This book is definitely a sequel to Blindisghted and I wouldn't recommend this without having read the first. The characters are very well developed with their stories from the first book being continued in this one. I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Short Story Monday

#3. Solid Wood by Ann Beattie - An elderly man and his sister have dinner with the recent widow of his best friend. There are some undercurrents that come to light for the reader as the dinner progresses. I didn't enjoy this one at all. It basically had no plot and, frankly, was boring. There is more to the story than appears at first but I prefer to read and think "wow, that was good" rather than "hmm, I wonder what this means".

#4. Balto by T.C. Boyle - A man and his 12-year-old daughter are on their way to court. This story recounts the events that lead up to the trial. The plot is more involved but any further description would contain spoilers. I was eager to read this story as Boyle is on my list of authors I'd like to read one day and this was my first sampling of his. I wasn't disappointed. This was a compelling story with a fast-paced read. I loved this one.

#116. Brighty of the Grand Canyon

Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Illustrated by Wesley Dennis

Pages: 224
Finished: Nov. 17, 2007
Reason for Reading: Four-Legged Friends Challenge, From the Stacks Challenge, Book Awards Challenge.
First Published: 1953
Genre: historical fiction, animal story
Awards: William Allen White Children's Book Award
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

A shaggy young burro lay asleep in the gray dust of the canyon trail.

Comments: This is a story of the Grand Canyon during the early 1900s when it was the home of trappers, hunters, miners, and mountain men. The story is told through the eyes of a wild burro who lived the live of freedom yet sometimes lived alongside the men of the Canyon. This is based on a true story of real burro who even met Theodore Roosevelt. This is a wonderful well-written story with compelling characters. There is a continuing plot line involving a thief and murderer but much of the book contains episodic chapters of Brighty's adventures. The first half of the boo…

#115. Fingersmith

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Pages: 548
Finished: Nov. 16, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've read a lot of reviews that said this was an amazing book so I had to read it, plus I love Victorian literature.
First Published: 2002
Genre: historical fiction,
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

My name, in those days, was Susan Trinder.

Comments: Set in the Victorian slums of London, and subsequently the English countryside, this is a tale of twists and turns that make the heart patter. I won't go into any details on the plot as I think it would be very hard not to give any spoilers. This is, simply put, a brilliant book. The story oozes with atmosphere. It is an incredibly Dickensian tale with characters that are eccentric and deliciously evil. It turns out I had already seen the BBC dramatization so I knew some of the secrets but still I found myself reeling in amazement with each twist and turn the author dares to throw at the reader. Sarah Waters most certainly is a gutsy and brilliant storyteller. I…

#114. The Story of Doctor Dolittle

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Illustrated by Michael Hague
First of the Doctor Dolittle books

Pages: 159
Finished: Nov. 16, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 1920
Genre: children animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Once upon a time, many years ago -- when our grandfathers were little children -- there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle -- John Dolittle, M.D.

Comments: Doctor Dolittle is an impoverished doctor who is very friendly with animals. After he gives up his human practice and becomes an animal doctor, he receives a cry for help from the monkeys of Africa who are experiencing an epidemic sickness. I have fond memories of reading all the Doctor Dolittle books as a child. This is my first time to re-read one and I was not disappointed. Lofting was a master storyteller and this book enchants from start to finish. Each chapter is packed with action, adventure and humour. There are many endearing animal characters, each with their own di…

#113. Secret Seven on the Trail

Secret Seven on the Trail by Enid Blyton
Fourth in the Secret Seven mysteries

Pages: 88
Finished: Nov. 14, 2007
Reason for Reading: reading this series aloud to my 7yo, in no particular order.
First Published: 1952
Genre: children mystery
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

"Mummy, have you got anything we could have to drink?" asked Janet.

Comments: The Secret Seven are on the trail of robbers. Goods are being stolen from trains and the Seven accidentally overhear as the gang of robbers plot their next heist. These books are very formulaic and now that we've read a few of them I've lost the nostalgic feeling and my interest in waning. However, the 7yo is still enjoying them very much. He gets very excited following the daring exploits of this group of children and I expect we'll be reading more in the series.

Reading Level

This one really surprised me!

Be Careful What You Watch

So here I am reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and thinking this is one of the most brilliant books I've ever read. I am so into this book!

But as I'm reading, I have a vague feeling that I know this story, it seems somewhat familiar and the more I read the more familiar it feels. Then I start thinking it reminds me of some British dramatization I've seen, I'm having visions of maybe a classic, with a woman in a madhouse. I start thinking more and it dawns on me, maybe Fingersmith itself has been dramatized? So I google "Fingermisth BBC" and B-I-N-G-O! it has, and I've seen it! I can't remember everything that happens but I do remember the ending. Darn it all!

#112. Friend of the Devil

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
Seventeenth in the Inspector Banks series

Pages: 372
Finished: Nov. 12, 2007
Reason for Reading: I received an Advanced Reading Edition. This is also on my From the Stacks challenge list.
First Published: 2007
Genre: thriller
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

She might have been staring out to sea, at the blurred line where the gray water meets the gray sky.

Comments: A quadriplegic is found with her throat slit on the beach and at the same time a young girl is found raped and murdered behind a local pub. As the police follow the individual cases, the author skillfully spins a web that brings these two unrelated crimes together. This the first book by Peter Robinson that I have read but it most certainly will not be the last. This is a smart, intelligent British detective novel. Even though I am a stranger to Inspector Banks, I felt as though I was meeting with an old friend. I found Banks to be a deep, multi-layered character and reminiscent of Inspector Morse. …

Short Story Monday

I've decided to continue reading short stories. I will be dipping into them here and there and will try to read at least one each week. Rather than giving reviews, I'll give a brief synapses and my reaction to the story.

The volume I am reading from currently is The Best American Short Stories 2007, edited by Stephen King. I won this book in a giveaway on Danielle's blog last month and decided it would be perfect for my weekly short story forays.

1. Pa's Darling by Louis Auchincloss - set in the sixties, a woman reflects on how her larger than life father overshadowed her life. Readable, but didn't really do anything for me.

2. Toga Party by John Barth - This story takes place in an affluent gated retirement community and centers around one aged couple who are invited by the new people on the street to their toga-themed housewarming party. I really enjoyed this. The characterization of this seventy-something couple was wonderful and I found it to be a fast-paced rea…

#111. Interworld

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

Pages: 239
Finished: Nov. 9, 2007
Reason for Reading: I won this book from Estella's Revenge for the July Door Prize. I'm also reading it for the 2nds challenge and the From the Stacks challenge.
First Published: 2007
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

Once I got lost in my own house.

Comments: One day Joey Harker walks right out his own reality on Earth into an alternate reality. He finds out he is one of the Walkers, a group of people comprised of alternate Joeys from many alternate worlds who try to save the many worlds from destruction by the bad guys. This story really reminded me of StarGate SG 1 but instead of traveling to other planets they traveled to alternate realities. An interesting premise and a cute story complete with the requisite cute character, a mudluff who resembled a bubble. A fun, light read but nothing overly special. My copy states the intended age as 10+, though I would narrow that down further to the 10-12 …

#110. Great Ghost Stories

Great Ghost Stories
Selected and illustrated by Barry Moser

Pages: 204
Finished: Nov. 10, 2007
Reason for Reading: With all the bloggers reading short stories for RIP II and Short Story Mondays I decided I'd like to read some stories too. I've been reading a story here and there from this volume since October.
First Published: 1998
Genre: anthology
Rating: 2.5/5

Comments: This is a rather mediocre collection of stories. Each story features a ghost while some are spooky others are humourous. Only three of the thirteen tales really stood out for me and they are all by authors I have previously enjoyed reading: E. Nesbit, Madeleine L'Engle and Bram Stoker. The following is a brief synapses of each story without spoilers.

1. The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs - A mummified monkey's paw brings the owner three wishes, but be careful what you wish for.

2. Samantha and the Ghost by Phillipa Pearce - A cute but slightly eerie story of a ghost who haunts an apple tree and the little girl…

#109. The Surgeon

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
First in the Jane Rizzoli series

Pages: 359
Finished: Nov. 7, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've read reviews of books by Gerritsen and thought I'd try the first book in this series.
First Published: 2001
Genre: thriller
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

Today they will find her body.

Comments: A serial killer is brutally raping then removing body parts from his victims. The trail leads the police to a victim who escaped from her assailant two years ago. The crimes are identical, only the previous victim managed to kill her rapist before he killed her. Are the police dealing with a copycat killer?

This was a gruesome, bloody serial killer book. I enjoyed the hard, edgy story. My main problem with the book was that I didn't enjoy the main female character, Jane Rizzoli. She is a bitter, man-hating type of woman which, personally, I found tedious and annoying. She shared equal page time with the main male character though, who I did like. This is also not the type …

#108. Kanada

Kanada by Eva Wiseman

Pages: 247
Finished: Nov. 4, 2007
Reason for Reading: this is on the shortlist for the Gov. Gen. Award. Also qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge.
First Published: 2006
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

"Why aren't you ready? Tamas is waiting for us at Castle Hill!" said Klari.

Comments: Set in Hungary during the last year of World War II, this tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a 14 year old Hungarian Jewish girl, Jutka. The story is told in three distinct parts. Part One shows life for Jutka's family in Nazi-occupied Hungary, Part Two takes Jutka to the bowels of Hell in Auschwitz, and Part Three sees the end of the war and follows Jutka as she moves from concentration camp to refugee camp. The day before Jutka is sent to Auschwitz she receives a care package from a relative in Canada which includes a Canadian travel booklet. The scenes of the pure driven snow and happy smiling faces of Canadians populate …

#107. Eye of the Crow

Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock
The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His 1st Case

Pages: 250
Finished: Nov. 3, 2007
Reason for Reading: saw it on display at the library and since I love Holmes, thought this might be interesting. Also qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge.
First Published: 2007
Genre: YA, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Murder came in darkness.

Comments: Young Sherlock Holmes is a poor boy of a mixed-marriage (Jew and Gentile) and is an outcast even in the impoverished outcast society he lives within. He becomes fascinated with the brutal murder of a young lady nearby and as he tries to find out about the murder he finds the finger of the law pointing to himself. Sherlock must find the real murderer to save not only himself but a wrongly accused Arab youth.

I really enjoyed this book. The Sherlock Holmes character develops through the book and we find the answers to many questions as to why Holmes is the way he is. The Victorian atmosphere is dark and moody as are the cast of charac…

Reading Challenges and Plans

OK, I've been thinking of getting my reading challenges all together in one place and figuring out some kind of plan but have been putting it off. Then I saw Chris has his act together with a reading list and a plan so that has jumpstarted me into getting my own stuff sorted out.

November Reading
Eye of the Crow (currently reading, canadian book) (review here)
The Night Wanderer (due date looming, canadian book) (DNF)
Kanada (ILL with due date looming, canadian book) (review here)
Interworld (from the stacks, seconds) (review here)
Brighty of Grand Canyon (from the stacks, four-legged friends) (review here)
any award winner (book awards) - double duty for Brighty

If I can read the above this month I will be right on track, even a little bit ahead of the game.

I think I' might just make myself a reading list like this at the beginning of every month.

Seconds Challenge - 3 books by Dec. 31, 2007
2/3 - 2 months left
**read a book a month**

1) The Bluest Eye
2) Interworld (review here)

From the…

#106. Poppy

Poppy by Avi
Illustrated by Brian Floca
First* in the Tales of Dimwood Forest

Pages: 147
Finished: Nov. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1995
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

A thin crescent moon, high in the sky, shed faint white light over Dimwood Forest.

Comments: The mice who live in Old Gray House are ruled over by the evil great horned owl, Mr. Ocax. When Ocax denies permission for the mice to move to a new area with more food Poppy, whom Ocax has blamed for his refusal, decides to take the long voyage to the new area by herself. Thus begins a peril filled journey that will forever change Poppy's life. This book is top-notch animal fantasy. Compelling characters face danger, death and the unknown in doses that bring one to the edge-of-your-seat excitement. The tension is very intense but is offset by frequent doses of laugh-out-loud humour. I love this book. My 7yo was beside himself at various points in the plot, cheering and…

#105. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Pages: 81
Finished: Nov. 1, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1970
Genre: children, humour, animal fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Down in the valley there were three farms.

Comments: Three nasty farmers decide to get rid of the fox and his family once and for all. The fox finds himself in a predicament but after some thinking he comes up with a plan that outsmarts the farmers. This is a hilariously funny book. I've read it several times now and it still makes me chuckle. In the 7yo's own words, he "loved it!" This is an especially fun book to read aloud and Quentin Blake's delicious illustrations on every page are just as much fun as the story itself. Recommended for all ages.