Showing posts from July, 2008

134. Beachcomber Boy

Beachcomber Boy
written and illustrated by Eleanor Frances Lattimore

Pages: 124
Finished: July 30, 2008
First Published: 1960
Genre: children's realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: The author is one of my favourite childhood authors and I am trying to find, read and review as many of her books as I can locate since she has become forgotten to this generation. Dh read this to the 8yo for bedtime read-aloud.

First sentence:

Barry was a boy who liked long words.

Comments: Set along the South Carolina shore during the months of fall and winter, this is the story of a little boy named Barry who wants to be a beachcomber. He and his sister are the only children living in the cottages along Logan Beach all year round until the Robertson boys arrive and move into a cottage further down the beach. Along with the episodic adventures of the boys along the beach is the continuing mystery story of a bottle that washes ashore with the message "out of coffee" inside. At the end Ba…

133. The Ragwitch

The Ragwitch by Garth Nix

Pages: 304
Finished: July 30, 2008
First Published: 1991
Genre: YA/Children's fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5

Reason for Reading: I'm reading all of the author's works.

First sentence:

"Come on, Paul!" shrieked Julia as she ran down the dune, the sand sliding away under her bare feet.

Comments: Julia and her brother are playing on the beach when Julia finds an old rag doll. She takes it home with her and starts to act strange. When she leaves the house before the break of dawn one morning, Paul hears her and follows. The doll has taken over Julia's body and become a massive mix between Julia and the doll. The Ragwitch is free! She opens a door to another world and Paul quickly follows. Now Julia must fight from inside the body of the Ragwitch, while Paul is sent on a journey to obtain items from the four Elemental Masters to kill the Ragwitch.

I feel a bit guilty for giving this book such a low rating since I just love all of Nix's other work. But …

Monday New Review Books in the Mail

Lots of ARCs came in the mail last week, all from Harper Collins Canada.

Home by Marilynne Robinson and Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Plus a bunch of new books by Canadian YA authors. I can't wait to read the new Airborn book by Kenneth Oppel (Starclimber).

Remember how a few weeks ago I mentioned how well my arc reading was going. How I would alternate my reading, read an arc then read an old book. Of course it all went out the window the beginning of this month. Everything was going so well than the first week of July I kept getting calls from the library that ILL requests were in and books I'd been in line for forever were in for me as well. So all these books decide to drop on me at the exact same time and though we have an excellent ILL program we only get to keep them for 4 weeks so I've been desperately trying to get all the library reading done this month and not reading as many arcs as I should have. Fortunately, I've only got a couple of library books left that are…

132. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale

Pages: 304
Finished: July 26, 2008
First Published: Apr. 2008
Genre: true crime, nonfiction, history
Awards: Samuel Johnson Award for Nonfiction 2008
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: The publisher, Walker & Company, sent me a Review Copy. Book Award Challenge.

First sentence:

This is the story of a murder committed in an English country house in 1860,
perhaps the most disturbing murder of its time.
Comments: This is a most ambitious book which documents the murder case of a three year old boy, is a biography of one of the very first police detectives and shows how this murder and this particular detective spurred on the very first detective fiction such as that written by Wilkie Collins. The book succeeds on all points and is a riveting and incredibly interesting read.

The murder is quite memorable in this time period because it is the first time that public attention focuse…

131. The Bleeding Dusk

The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, Book 3

Pages: 346
Finished: July 26, 2008
First Published: Feb. 2008
Genre: paranormal romance
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

First sentence:

The lair of the Queen of the Vampires was tucked away in the snowy mountain range of Muntii Fagaras.

Comments: As the third book in the series it is difficult to summarize the plot without spoilers so I will keep it brief. Victoria (and the rest of the gang) are on the trail of a demon who has evil plans and Beauregard has also become more of a threat making Sebastian torn between his loyalties.

Honestly, I found this entry in the series quite a bit slower than the first two. The pacing of the first half was slow and the romance was a bit much for me. Victoria's swaying between yearning and anger does become tiresome after a while. Plus, with all the romance we were rewarded with only one, rather lame, sex scene.

Halfway through, the pace does pick up and…

She Made Us Laugh - R.I.P.

Estelle Getty(July 25, 1923 – July 22, 2008)

130. The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Illustrated by Sonja Lumat
Doctor Dolittle, Book 2

Pages: 276
Finished: July 23, 2008
First Published: 1922
Genre: children's animal fantasy, adventure
Awards: Newbery Medal
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 8yo. Decades Challenge. Newbery Project. Book Awards Challenge

First sentence:

All that I have written so far about Doctor Dolittle I heard long after it
happened from those who had known him -- indeed a great deal of it took place
before I was born.

Comments: In this second book of the series we meet Tommy Stubbins, the boy who becomes Dolittle's assistant. Once again Dolittle sets off on a voyage this time to meet the great botanist Long Arrow, son of Golden Arrow and along the way they meet many side adventures. Dolittle becomes set on learning the shellfish language, meeting the Great Glass Sea Snail, ends up on Spidermonkey Island, saves the island from floating into the Antarctic and helps the natives build a thriving c…

Medical Mystery Challenge - COMPLETED

I just finished the Medical Mystery challenge! This one was so easy, since this is my favourite genre, well, forensic mysteries specifically. I read the 3 books listed in my original list, so yay for me for sticking to a list.

Here are the books I read:

1. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
2. Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
3. Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

My favourite was #3!

129. Carved in Bone

Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
Body Farm, Book 1

Pages: 343
Finished: July 21, 2008
First Published: 2006
Genre: forensic mystery
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Medical Mystery Challenge.

First sentence:

I picked up the hunting knife with my left hand and tested its heft, then shifted it to my right hand to compare.

Comments: Dr. Bill Brockton, anthropologist, is called in to a case in a backwoods town of Tennessee where a woman's body has been found, wonderfully preserved, in a cave. What Bill doesn't realize is that he is getting himself into a heap of trouble involving a long standing feud between two families, a corrupt sheriff's department, Big Jim (a backwoods gangster), and someone who doesn't want him poking his nose into any of this. Along with his policeman friend, Art, these two middle aged men walk write into the middle of a very dangerous and sorrowful tale.

Dr. Bill and his buddy, Art, are about two of the best detectives I've met in my long list of mystery r…

Monday New Review Copies

Last week two books arrived in the mail. One is a review book and the other is a prize I won. It's kind of a good news, bad news situation. First the good news!

I won this book from John at The Book Mine Set in the final giveaway for the first Canadian Challenge. It is even signed by Ted Harrison! A classic Canadian poem that has become a classic children's picture book. I'll be sharing it with the 8yo and counting it towards the second Canadian Challenge. I love it! Thanks, John!

Now the bad news :(

Remember when everyone was clamouring to receive a free Penguin Classic to review on the UK website. Well, I managed to snag one, but was totally disappointed when I found out what book I'd be getting. The Confessions by John-Jacques Rousseau. If you've read my blog for long you may have read of my dislike (bordering on hatred) for anything concerning French history. I find it totally b.o.r.i.n.g! Yes, even Marie Antoinette bores me... On top of that I avoid his…

128. Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim

Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim: A Visual Novel by Tom Corwin
Illustrated by Craig Frazier

Pages: 101
Finished: July 18, 2008
First Published: June, 2008
Genre: graphic novel
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from the publisher, Flying Dolphin Press.

First sentence:

Mr. Fooster has a long list of things he likes to do.

Comments: Rather than starting this review with a summary of the plot I will be starting with a summary of the physical book itself. This is a small hardcover book, dimensionally just a bit smaller than the size of a trade paperback. The cover has a matte finish yet the bubble is raised and glossy. I found myself touching the bubble on the cover numerous times. Also on the cover we see the words "A Visual Novel" and after looking at the copyright page I see the LCC have catalogued it as a "graphic novel". Upon browsing through the book I would say it looks like a child's picture book with text on one side and an illustration on the…

127. Postmortem

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
First in the Dr. Kay Scarpetta series

Pages: 342
Finished: July 17, 2008
First Published: 1990
Genre: forensic mystery
Award: Macavity Award, First Novel 1991
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Medical Mystery Challenge. Book Awards Challenge.

Also, all my favourite authors Reichs, Gerritsen, Slaughter, etc have been compared to Cornwell so I thought I ought to go back and read the original author of the forensic mystery.

First sentence:

It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6.

Comments: Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia is working a case concerning a series of women who are brutally raped and strangled. Each case appears to be the work of the same man and a serial killer must be on the loose. Things escalate and danger feels closer to home, making Kay feel as if she can trust no one.

This is a well-paced and well written thriller. I often felt I knew where the story was going only to be surprised as it turned in a different direction. I…

126. Down to a Sunless Sea

Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese

Pages: 134
Finished: July 14, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: short stories
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: The author sent me a review copy.

First sentence:

While a young child growing up in Brighton Beach, Adam would go shopping with his mother on Brighton Beach Avenue.

Comments: This collection of short stories written by a clinical social worker and psychotherapist is unlike any other collection I have read. The writing is compelling and the stories are deep and dark. It is hard to call each story a "story" as most of them do not have a plot in the general sense but are more like character studies or as it says in a blurb on the back "case studies". Each tale takes the reader inside the life or inside the mind of a person who suffers, whether it be physically, mentally or from trauma, but each character is either a victim or a tormentor. Some stories were disturbing, some were enlightening, some were sad, and I admit a c…

Big Day for the 8yo - Parental Brag Alert

I just have to mark the milestone today in my 8yo's life. Today for the very first time he read a book quietly to himself. Both dh and I were in the living room with him and as he lay on the couch we could just barely hear him reading under his breath. He came over and asked me what a word was once.

He has struggled with reading. It's been a long, slow road for him and he is doing well with his school readers and Level 1 easy readers but always reading and sounding out aloud to us, needing encouragement as he goes. It is a slow and steady process for him.

But to see him reading to himself today made mum and dad very proud and when he was finished and looked up at us you could just see how proud he was of himself! He really, truly does believe he can read today!

This is the book that he took the leap with:

Monday New Review Copies

Last week was a slow week for my mailbox with only two review copies arriving. But I also read and reviewed two review copies since last Monday so my pile didn't get any bigger. These two books arrived and I am eager to read both of them:

125. The Seance

The Seance by Iain Lawrence

Pages: 263
Finished: July 12, 2008
First Published: July 8, 2008
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: I received a Review Copy from Random House Canada. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

At five minutes to midnight, a stranger arrived for the seance.

Comments: It is 1926 and Scooter King is his mother's helper. Madam King is a spiritualist who holds fake seances and Scooter is the one who pulls all the strings behind the scenes. One night he follows a mysterious stranger and ends up at the theatre where Harry Houdini will soon be performing. As Scooter enters the theatre, unnoticed, he enters the room where Houdini's Torture Tank will be on public display the next day, and he discovers a dead body hanging in the chamber. Houdini is out to prove that all spiritualists are fakes but Scooter and he must join forces to find out not only who killed this man but who is trying to kill them both.

Iain Lawre…

Totally Off Topic But A Funny Coincidence

You know when you have to fill in those annoying little letter codes to verify you are a real human being and not a bot posting spam? Most of the time, heck 99% of the time, they are just a bunch of random letters and numbers. But...

Have you ever got letters that actually meant something and made you laugh? Today I got both of these:

HMEGGZ (ham and eggs anyone?)

The next one is pretty rude but I couldn't believe it when I saw it:

FKCNGU (keeping my blog g-rated so no translation, I'm sure you can figure it out)

It doesn't take much to amuse me...

124. Trials of Death

Trials of Death by Darren Shan
Fifth book in Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan series

Pages: 202
Finished: July 10, 2008
First Published: 2001
Genre: YA, horror
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

First sentence:

If people ever tell you vampires aren't real -- don't believe them!

Comments: At this point in the series it becomes increasingly difficult to summarize the story without giving away what has happened in previous books so I will no longer summarize each individual book in much detail. This book does start a new phase for the series, though. Darren is still with the Vampire Council and a new threat has begun.

This turn in the story's plot was very interesting and excitement. I'm really enjoying the whole vampire community that Shan has created. Shan has strayed from the typical (Dracula) type of vampire and created his own, very unique, vampire mythos. This particular book in the series is probably my favourite so far. The twist at the end took me…

123. Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper: Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889 by Rick Geary
Second in the Treasury of Victorian Murder series

Pages: 64
Finished: July 8, 2008
First Published: 1995
Genre: true crime, graphic novel
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series. I also read a lot of books about Jack the Ripper.

First sentence:

A shocking murder on the east end: I'm told that the body of a woman was found this morning in a squalid alley-way of the whitechapel district ... mutilated in a most horrifying manner ~

Comments: Rick Geary has given us a first hand account of the Jack the Ripper case through the eyes of a contemporary but unknown British gentleman who kept a meticulous set of journals. In these journals the gentleman followed closely the news of the killings, while occasionally setting down his own opinion.

Mostly a typical accounting of the Ripper case, though the narrative voice is interesting. If you already know the case it isn't very intriguing but would probably mak…

122. Dolphin Freedom

Dolphin Freedom by Wayne Grover
Illustrated by Jim Fowler
Third (and last) of the Dolphin Trilogy

Pages: 107
Finished: July 7, 2008
First Published: 1999
Genre: children, animal, non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series. My dh read this to the 8yo. I read it once they were finished with it as we enjoy all being able to discuss a book.

First sentence:

The little white dog paddled furiously as she tried to keep up with the
large dolphin.

Comments: Wayne Grover and his friends once again are boating around off the coast of Florida when they realize their ever present dolphin pod is missing. They have a nasty run in with dolphin poachers but after telling the local police are told they can't do anything about it. Wayne decides he must rescue Baby and his family one way or the other and they get themselves into lots of troubles as they set out to rescue the dolphins from deplorable holding pens off a Bahamian island.

This third book in the series is quite different from…

121. The Plague of Doves

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

Pages: 313
Finished: July 7, 2008
First Published: May, 2008
Genre: literary fiction
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: I received an ARC from Harper Collins Canada. Louise Erdrich has been on my list of authors I'd like to read for a while now.

First sentence:

The gun jammed on the last shot and the baby stood holding the crib rail,
eyes wild, bawling.

Comments: This is a book that is very hard to summarize; there are many characters, many plot lines and at times they seem unrelated. It starts in North Dakota in 1911 when a terrible crime is committed on the outskirts of a white town, Pluto, that is on the edge of a Cherokee reservation, both sparsely populated. From that point on the story progresses forward to the present and we see that the whites and the natives intermarry and their descendants are all related to each other through blood, whether directly or once or twice removed.

The narrative is not linear; it jumps back and forth through the decades…

Monday's New Review Copies

Last week my mailbox was busy. Some of these arrived with the mailman in the morning and others arrived at suppertime with the UPS truck. Only a couple of these are actual ARCs, the majority of them are review copies of the final books. I'm excited to read everyone of these! I'm also happy to report that even though the review copy pile is getting bigger I seem to be staying on track and keeping on schedule with my reading.

120. Losing It

Losing It - And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli

Pages: 273
Finished: July 6, 2008
First Published: 2008
Genre: autobiography, memoir
Rating: 2/5

Reason for Reading: I enjoyed watching One Day at a Time as a child and always though Valerie was beautiful. Needing to loose weight myself, I though her weight loss story might be inspiring.

First sentence:

Some people measure depression by the medication they take or the number of times per week they see a therapist.

Comments: This is more of a memoir than an autobiography. While it does go chronologically Valerie only tells bits and pieces of her life. Running throughout the book she talks about her poor body image even as a skinny teenager, though she didn't start dieting until she started gaining weight at a much older age. I was very disappointed in this book.

Valerie's acting career is skimmed over mercilessly. One Day at a Time gets a brief discussion, Touched by an Angel gets even less page time an…


My very first Interlibrary Loan disappointment. I just got a call today that they have been unable to find a library with a copy of

Peachblossom by Eleanor Frances Lattimore.

It makes me so sad to know that this book is no longer available to anyone in the province of Ontario. This used to be one of my favourites when I was a little girl. Written in 1943, it is about a little Chinese girl during WWII.

ETA (July 5): Pussreboots has generously offered me her copy when she has finished reading it! How cool is that? Thanks so much Puss!

119. The Bone Garden

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

Pages: 370
Finished: July 2, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: thriller
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: I've been reading the author's books and this is the last one on my list. Medical Mystery Challenge.

First sentence:

March 20, 1888
Dearest Margaret,
I thank you for your kind condolences, so sincerely offered, for the loss of my darling Amelia.

Comments: A woman in present day Boston finds old bones buried in her backyard. She becomes intrigued by finding out who this mysterious woman was and meets an old man who is the family historian of the house she now lives in. The present days scenes are interspersed throughout the book with the main focus being on the retelling of the mysterious death of the woman from the past. Taking place in the 1830s, a group of medical students is working on the post maternity ward, where childbirth fever kills the majority of patients. One doctor, Norris Marshall, becomes enamoured of a young girl who stays by…

Happy Canada Day!


This is a day to be proud of our country and what it has accomplished in the last few years. Here is my tribute to the Canadians we should thank for their hard work, perseverance and devotion to our country.

Ralph Klein.
Cut the provincial budget to eliminate the Province of Alberta's deficit. One of the best politician's ever.

Preston Manning
Probably the most intelligent Canadian alive. His radical ideas of balanced budgets, tax cuts, and liberalized trade have become accepted policy.

Don Cherry
A proud Patriot. Don is the voice of the blue-collar worker and the Men and Women of the Armed Forces.

current Prime Minister Stephen Harper The best Prime Minister Canada has seen since John Deifenbaker (1957-1963)

The Canadian Men and Women in Afghanistan and around the world who risk their lives for our freedom.