Showing posts from August, 2008

Mo Hayder's Next Book

Oooooh, I'm so excited. According to Euro Crime, Hayder's next book is scheduled for release in Feb. 2010. So that means here in Canada I'll probably have to wait a few months more, but at least I know it's coming and it's going to feature Jack Caffery and Flea, yeah!

But what am I supposed to do for all of 2009! I wish she'd write faster.... sigh

148. Starclimber

Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel
Third in the Airborn series

Pages: 356
Finished: Aug. 29, 2008
First Published: Sept. 2, 2008 (Canada) / Feb. 24, 2009 (US)/ March, 2009 (UK)
Genre: YA, science fiction/fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada

First sentence:

Rising into the wind, I flew, Paris spread before me.
Comments: This time around Matt and Kate are on a special mission for the Canadian government. The space race is on and Paris is supposedly winning but Canada has a secret plan and they've gathered together a crew which includes our two protagonists.

This book is quite different from the previous two as it is mostly set in outer space rather than aboard an airship. The genre is also difficult to pinpoint as it is certainly science fiction but from a Victorian point of view, making it seem more fantasy. The world Matt and Kate live in is an alternate earth reality where society is similar to a mannered Victorian age yet they have a growing …

Monday - New Review Books in the Mail

Last week I received one review copy in them mail directly from the author. Saye by Jeremy H. Walker, which looks very intriguing and it's signed, too!

Receiving one book last week has really helped out my towering arc tbr pile. I had one book come in and read and reviewed 3 books making the pile 2 books shorter! Yeah me!

I will once again be concentrating on arcs for September. If I can get back into my regular reading habits after lazy August, I should be able to read the majority of them already in possession.

Rip III Challenge

I really want to join the RIP III challenge and have been trying to avoid signing up but everywhere I turn it hits me in the face and I find I.MUST.JOIN.

So I'm going for Peril the Second, read 2 books, so I don't feel any pressure but I'm sure I'll end up with more than 2 by then end of the challenge which is Oct. 31st.

I won't be writing up a list but will pick the books as they appeal to me along the way. I read a book this week that fits the theme so I'm hoping I can count it as book number one.

The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan.

Decades Challenge - Complete

I have completed the Decades Challenge hosted by 3m. This was one of my favourite challenges this year. I gave it a twist and made every book on my list a read aloud to my 7/8yo. This has been very helpful in making sure I read a wide variety of literature throughout the ages to him.

These are the 8 books I read aloud to my son for the challenge. Five of them are from my original list and then I realized every book I originally picked was a fantasy so I chose a switched a few out to widen the genre a bit. The 8yo loved every book I read to him but his favourites were probably Five Children and It and The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. I loved them all except Peter Pan which I'm really not fond of at all. All the books were re-reads for me personally some for the third time.

If this challenge is on next year, I'll definitely be re-joining with the same twist. It was really helpful in picking good literature to read to my child.

1900s - Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
1910s - Pet…

147. Homer Price

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

Pages: 160
Finished: Aug. 29, 2008
First Published: 1943
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to the 8yo. Decades Challenge

First sentence:

About two miles outside of Centerburg, where route 56 meets route 56A, there lives a boy named Homer.
Comments: This is an episodic children's book, typical of the time period in which it was written. There is no plot running through the story but instead each chapter (there are 6) describes an adventure of Homer's. Homer's life in the 1940s is one of freedom and childhood naivete. His escapades border on the outlandish and that makes them all that much more fun, but a little less believable. I've read this book three times now and I never get tired of it. I love the episode where the suburb is built with identical houses and no one can find their own homes and the 8yo loved the doughnut maker goes out of control episode. The 8yo thoroughly enjoyed this book and I th…

146. The Vampire Prince

The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan
Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan Book 6

Pages: 192
Finished: Aug. 24, 2008
First Published: 2002
Genre: YA, horror
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Next in the series. And the book is due back to the library tomorrow!

First sentence:

Be careful who you trust.

Comments: I'm beyond the point in this series where I can give a plot summary without giving away spoilers from previous books. The story arc that has been building since book 4 comes to a close in this volume and a stunning ending sets up a new direction for book 7. I say this every time but this is a wonderful series that any vampire fan of YA is going to enjoy. No new characters are introduced in this volume but there is a setup for a new villain to come and I'm excited to read the next book, as usual! I'm just really hoping some of the characters from the Freak Show come back before the series ends.

145. Johnny Appleseed and the Planting of the West

Johnny Appleseed and the Planting of the West by Gina Ingoglia
Illustrated by Charlie Shaw
Disney's American Frontier Series Book 5

Pages: 75
Finished: Aug. 23, 2008
First Published: 1992
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: My 8yo asked who Johnny Appleseed was so I gave him a brief version of the story but said I'd see if I could get a book out of the library for dad to read to him at bedtime. This was the only children's chapter book available at the library. I usually read the books after they have finished reading but this time I said I'd pass as I had a lot of books to read already but the 8yo said it was so good I had to read it. "pleeeeease". So I did.

First sentence:

"Listen to this, Nat", said Johnny.
Comments: The true story of John Chapman, usually referred to as Johnny Appleseed. The story has often been exaggerated and the author's note states that she used fact but mixed in a bit fiction. This is an alright book. The wri…

144. The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Pages: 468
Finished: Aug. 21, 2008
First Published: Aug. 5, 2008
Genre: Magical realism
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: I received this ARC from Random House Canada. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.

Comments: I think that is an amazing opening line. How could you not read on after that? The process of reading the book was pure joy from the first page. The writing exquisite and the details of description superb. This is a difficult book to summarize. I've heard the book termed "a fantasy love story" but I'm more apt to calling it magical realism. The story starts off with a class one b*stard. He's in the pornography business, started in front of the camera and now owns his own company. He leads a life of debauchery: women, cocaine, alcohol and sex. He crashes his car (completely his fault) and suffers a severe burn all over his body. He ends up in the …

Monday: New Review Copies in the Mail

Wow! What a week for arcs/review copies to arrive in the mailbox last week. I had the mailman deliver, the CanPar truck, UPS and FedEx all arrive last week! I even had one book tell me I couldn't read it until publication day (tomorrow). Bet you can guess which one that is! So that makes 6 new review copies in but unfortunately I only read one ARC last week which I'll be reviewing in my next post. So that means the towering ARC pile has increased by 5!

My reading really slowed down last and really for the whole month as we had relatives from out west visiting us from the 8th until the 24th (yesterday). I have managed to read but nowhere near as much as normal and it's been pretty sporadic getting around to the blogging. I finally have use of the computer for the day so I hope to post reviews for the 3 books sitting next me here.

I've also decided I'm going to try and stick to mainly reading arcs next month as well. I'll be back to normal reading time and should b…

143. Living Dead Girl

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Pages: 170
Finished: Aug. 12, 2008
First Published: Sept. 16, 2008
Genre: YA, realistic fiction
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: I received this ARC from Simon & Schuster. At the time I requested it I was reading Say Goodbye which deals with the same topic from the victim's point of view, only it is a boy instead of a girl. I was intrigued in what a YA book on the topic would be like. I do not usually read teen realistic fiction. My YA tendencies are more towards fantasy, sci-fi and historical.

First sentence:

This is how things look: Shady Pines Apartments, four shabby buildings tucked off the road near the highway.
Comments: This is an immensely powerful and disturbing story told from the point of view of a fifteen-year old who was abducted by a pedophile at the age of ten. It describes in detail what her daily life is like and the brief memories she has before abduction. The book is brutal and graphic The graphic detail does stop at the point that …

Monday: New Review Books in the Mail

Two new review copies arrived in the mail last week and I am extremely excited to read each of them. The first is a first-hand account of the Cultural Revolution (a special interest of mine) and the second is a serial killer thriller that sounds like it is going to be right up my alley.

So just to keep the tally going, last week I got 2 new arcs in and read 3 but have only reviewed 2 so far. Next one should be up today or tomorrow. That means my arc tbr pile is down 1 book!

I also received one more book in the mail last week and that was a Mooch. A bit of a beat-up paperback but it is the original unedited text which is what I'm looking for. No illustrations though.

142. The Fatal Bullet

The Fatal Bullet: The Assassination of President James A. Garfield by Rick Geary

Pages: unnumbered
Finished: Aug. 16, 2008
First Published: 1999
Genre: true crime, graphic novel, American history
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series and this library book is due back tomorrow.

First sentence:

The President's mortal remains lay in state for two days in the great rotunda of the Capitol...
Comments: I have to say I wasn't too thrilled with this one before I even started it. An assassination doesn't seem like the same thing as murder to me, there's no detecting for a start. I had also never heard of this American president before (I'm Canadian) so I at least looked forward to learning something new.

The book follows the lives of both James A. Garfield and Charles J. Guiteau (the assassin) from childhood to death. Garfield is presented as a good president loved by the people and Guiteau is shown as a man who slowly lost his sense of reason and sanity and eventual…

The Shooting of Dan McGrew

The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W. Service
Illustrated by Ted Harrison

Pages: unnumbered
Finished: Aug. 14, 2008
First Published: text: 1907; this edition 1988
Genre: children's picture book, poetry
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: read this aloud to the 8yo. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge and I won this signed copy (Ted Harrison) as one of the grand prizes for last years Canadian challenge so it only seemed appropriate to read it for 2nd challenge.

First sentence:

A bunch of boys were whooping it up
in the Malamute saloon;

Comments: One of Canada's greatest poets combined with one of Canada's greatest living painters produces a beautiful and wonderful presentation of this famous Canadian poem. It is hard for me to review a poem but this is the type of poetry I like. One that tells a story and has a rhythmic cadence and is fun to read aloud.

The story takes place in the Yukon during the gold rush and involves a love triangle with a jilted lover causing a shoot-out. At the …

141. Admit One: A Journey into Film

Admit One: A Journey into Film by Emmett James

Pages: 197
Finished: Aug. 14, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: memoir
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: A signed Review Copy sent to me by the book's publicist.

First sentence:

If I could tell you just one thing about my life it would be this: My alter
ego was once a very famous man.

Comments: This is actor Emmett James' memoir of his childhood growing up in south London, England and his following career as an actor in Hollywood. The life story is told chronologically but rather than the usual memoir this is very different. James picks movies he has seen during his lifetime and relates them to his life. Sometimes there is a direct revelation from movie to life such as the first movie he remembers going to see, The Jungle Book, when he was about four, showed him how much people are affected by movies as he saw his older brother dancing around singing and acting like an orangutan after the movie. Other times the movie simply brings back memori…

140. Newton and the Time Machine by Michael McGowan

Newton and the Time Machine by Michael McGowan
Illustrated by Shelagh McNulty

Pages: 211
Finished: Aug. 12, 2008
First Published: May 13, 2008
Genre: Children's fantasy
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: Review Copy sent to me by Harper Collins Canada. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

Newton was having serious, serious doubts that his latest invention - a time
machine - was ready to be field-tested.
Comments: This is a sequel to Newton and the Giant, which I haven't read. Newton needs someone to test out his new time machine and his friends, the giant King and Queen of Merriwart, volunteer. The machine seems to be a success until suddenly there is a smoky explosion and it disappears leaving nothing behind but a 4 leaf clover. Sure that the treacherous Leprechauns are involved Newton, his best friend Max, Commander Joe (his talking plastic soldier) and Witch Hazel all help to recover the missing King and Queen, not to mention the time machine.

A fun romp that th…

Monday: New Review Books Received in the Mail

Last week I was lucky enough to receive four fabulous review copies! All very different from each other, a true memoir of a female French resistance fighter in WWII, the first volume in a new YA fantasy series by a Canadian author, a very intriguing South African story and .... the latest Karin Slaughter! This is a stand alone. I loved her first stand alone "Triptych" so much I'm really looking forward to this. So that makes 4 new arcs in and I read and reviewed 3 last week making it only a total of 1 more book to the towering arc tbr pile. But it's all good!

139. The Horseman's Graves

The Horseman's Graves by Jaqueline Baker

Pages: 432
Finished: Aug. 10, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: Canadian literature, historical fiction
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Review Copy sent to me by Harper Collins Canada. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

They had always been haunted, those hills.

Comments: This is a story that takes place in Southern Saskatchewan approximately in the 1920s. A small rural town with a Catholic church as its centre and German immigrants as its inhabitants. The people are poor, the town is isolated and the citizens live a life of Christianity mixed with old-country superstitions. This tale of a town focuses mainly on two families, both outcasts from the others for very different reasons. The narrative switches focus from main character to main character propelling the story along quickly. Ultimately this is a tale of loneliness, superstition, coming of age, murder and love.

This is a difficult book to summarize plot-wise as the plot unr…

138. Abel's Island

Abel's Island
Written and Illustrated by William Steig

Pages: 119
Finished: Aug. 7, 2008
First Published: 1976
Genre: children's, animal fantasy
Award: Newbery Honor book
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 8yo. Decades Challenge

First sentence:

Early in August 1907, the first year of their marriage, Abel and Amanda went to picnic in the woods some distance from the town where they lived.

Comments: While on a picnic, a storm rises and Abel and his wife, Amanda, along with others find shelter in a cave. Amanda's scarf blows off and Abel chases after it, but the storm is too much now and he is blown down the hill, into a river, over a waterfall, and eventually lands on a small deserted island. Abel, who has led a quiet, work-free, rich life up to this point now must work for his survival in an unknown landscape.

This is a beautiful story. Abel learns so much about life from being on his own and having to work to survive. At first he desperately tries to escape but the swift…

137. Say Goodbye

Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner
Sixth book in the Quincy/Rainie series

Pages: 360
Finished: Aug. 4, 2008
First Published: July 15, 2008
Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: I received a Review Copy from Random House Canada.

First sentence:

He was moaning, a guttural sound in the back of his throat as his fingers tightened their grip in her hair.

Comments: Kimberly Quincy, FBI agent, is told a strange tale by a prostitute of a very scary man who is taking and killing prostitutes and has been for years. Another agent finds an unmarked envelope under his car wipers with driver's licences for 6 young women. When a few names match the prostitute's story Kimberly believes the tale. But with no missing persons reports and no bodies the word of one hooker does not make a case. As the story progresses we are introduced to one of the most vicious serial killers I've read about recently. There is more than just the one story here though, a child who has been abducted and lead…

136. Queen of the Road

Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22 000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own by Doreen Orion

Pages: 289
Finished: Aug. 4, 2008
First Published: June 10, 2008
Genre: Travelogue, Memoirs
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: I was offered a review copy and accepted.

First sentence:

When my long-dreaded thirtieth birthday arrived, I really wasn't as upset as I imagined I'd be, for I had achieved a much more important milestone: my sartorial centennial.

Comments: Doreen and her husband, Tim, are both psychiatrists in their mid-forties. Tim is a dedicated workaholic with a demanding practice. Doreen has given up practice and works filing insurance claims from the comfort of her bed in her pajamas and is proud of the fact the she hardly ever leaves the house. Out of the blue, Tim convinces her that they will take a year off and drive around the United States in a converted bus. This book details that journey.

At first I wasn't sure …

Monday: New Review Books in the Mail

Two new review copies arrived last week. I haven't read a John Saul book in years and am really looking forward to reading him again. The other is a GG nominated Canadian author's first foray into YA, which looks like a very intriguing fantasy.

Plans for August

I mentioned this before in a post a few days ago but I'm making this an official post. As of yesterday, August 1st I am only reading ARCs/Review Copies to help me get caught up and get back to my regularly scheduled alternating routine (read an arc, read an old book, etc). I will be taking the month off from reading challenge books, but hopefully I'll be able to use some of my arcs to fill challenge requirements.

There are a couple of exceptions. I have an ILL book due back Aug. 18, so I will be reading that around that time, it's a graphic novel so will be a quickie to squeeze in. I also have one library book at home that is due back in a few days but I plan on renewing it which will make it due on Aug. 26 so I will have to read it around that time. It is a short YA novel, so again will be a quickie.

Also, of course, I will continue reading aloud to my child so there will be the occasional review of those books as well. But except for the above noted minor infractions I her…

Garth Nix: A Retrospective On His Work (to date)

With the posting of my last book review I have completed reading all of Garth Nix's published works. I thought I'd make this a bit of a celebration post by going through my reading of him. There will not be any book reviews but simply my reflections on how I started reading him and the progress I made. Any text links will take you to my reviews on this blog.

The first Garth Nix books I read were The Seventh Tower series of 6 books. I was captivated from the first book and read all six books back to back, something I don't often do with series. This is a YA fantasy series with a very unique premise and wonderful world building. I was pretty sure I was going to be hooked on this author.

Oddly enough, the next book I picked up was Shade's Children which is unlike any of Nix's other books. Not his usual fantasy fare, this is a dark post-apocalyptic novel which I would say is just as much an adult book as a YA book. This is my absolute favourite of Garth Nix's books…

135. One Beastly Beast

One Beastly Beast (Two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales) by Garth Nix
Illustrated by Brian Biggs

Pages: 158
Finished: July 31, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: children's, fantasy, humour
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: I am reading the author's books and this is the last one I haven't read.

First sentence:

"Take these videos back to the store, please," said Peter's mom.

Comments: This is a collection of four novellas for younger children ages 7 to 10. Three of the stories were previously published in Australia as short chapter books and the fourth is new to this collection. Each story is delightful. Silly, over-the-top fantasy or fairy tale stories that made me chuckle and I'm sure will make children laugh out loud. Simply put, each story is just a whole lot of fun. The accompanying illustrations are also delightful. Done in a modern cartoonish manner they are perfect for the humour of the stories. The following works are included in this collection…