Showing posts from October, 2008

Will Be Away For a While

I'm taking a trip back to Alberta to visit my Dad for the next three weeks. I am taking lots of books and plan on having a quiet visit and hopefully will get lots of reading done. I will have limited Internet access but do hope to keep my reviews up to date while I'm away. I just won't have time to comment or visit other blogs while I'm gone. I won't be making any other posts, besides reviews, while I'm gone and probably won't keep my current reading list (in the sidebar) up-to-date either.

See you all after November 20th, when I get back.

171. The Imposter

The Impostor by Damon Galgut

Pages: 249
Finished: Oct. 28, 2008
First Published: Aug. 5, 2008
Genre: literary fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Random House Canada.

First sentence:

The journey was almost over; they were nearly at their destination.

Comments: Adam Napier lives in South Africa just after the abolition of Apartheid. He has always been against Apartheid and now ironically he has lost his job to make way for race equality in the work place, losing his job to the black man he had been training. One time poet, he decides it is time to start writing again and he moves out to the Karoo, the empty countryside where he lives in a rundown shack of a house that his brother had once bought with the idea of fixing it up as a summer home. After only a few days he meets a man who once was a school chum of his as a boy, the man says he has always been his hero, but Adam cannot for the life of him remember him at all. He plays along and eventually starts going…

170. My Name is Number 4

My Name is Number 4: A True Story from the Cultural Revolution by Ting-Xing Ye

Pages: 230
Finished: Oct. 26, 2008
First Published: September 2008
Genre: YA, memoir
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from the publisher. Also qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

The morning of my exile to the prison farm arrived, a characteristic November day in Shanghai, damp and chilly with an overcast sky.

Comments: This Young Adult memoir is an abridged edition of the author's 1997 adult book of memoirs A Leaf in the Bitter Wind. I find the Cultural Revolution amazing to read about. It is almost impossible to believe it happened as it sounds so much like dystopian literature. But the reality is that it did indeed happen and millions of Chinese people were brutally treated in their own country. Ting-Xing relates her childhood at the beginning of the Revolution and the hardship of her 5 orphaned siblings living with an adored Great Aunt who wasn't really a relative …

Monday: Review Books in the Mail

Last week I received a few books in the mail for review from Random House Canada.

And I also mooched a book I've wanted to read for years.

So how does my arc tbr pile stand now. Still towering but I feel like I'm really getting caught up these days. I received 3 new ones last week and read and reviewed two making the pile only 1 book higher.


Not one of my usual posts but I just finished watching Wonderfalls The Complete Collection on DVD and wow! It was just so wonderful! But I can't find anyone who has ever even seen it!

This TV show aired only four episodes before it was cancelled but a full 13 episodes were filmed and are included on the DVD along with some fun Special Features.

I had never watched the show before but had seen commercials for it at the time and thought it looked interesting. I was at Wal-Mart one day when they had one of their DVD sales and they had a bin of TV Seasons 2/$15 so I bought everything that looked good to me and this was one of them.

What a wonderful quirky show. Each character was played so well. I feel such a let down that there are no more episodes to watch. It is about a 24 year old girl from a rich family who has a University degree in Philosophy but now lives in a trailer park and works at a souvenir shop in Niagara Falls. Inanimate figures with faces start talking to her and telling…

169. The Shadow of Malabron

The Shadow of Malabron by Thomas Wharton
The Perilous RealmTrilogy, Book 1

Pages: 385
Finished: Oct. 25, 2008
First Published: August 19, 2008 (Canada, Hardcover) Aug. 4, 2008 (UK & US, paperback)
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Random House Canada. Also qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

In a chamber high in a tower a young woman sits at a loom, weaving threads of many colours into a tapestry so large that it pools around her feet, half covering the chamber's marble floor.

Comments: This YA fantasy follows the traditional quest format of high fantasy. The story is very intricate and difficult to summarize. A teenager, Will Lightfoot, finds himself suddenly in an alternate dimension. The land of Stories, where all stories are begun and end and continue. He is befriended but soon finds out he is being sought by Malabron, the Night King, who has sent his right hand man, The Angel, and hordes of his minions, de…

Exploration and Conquest

Exploration and Conquest: The Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620 by Betsy and Giulio Maestro

Pages: 48
Finished: Oct. 23, 2008
First Published: 1994
Genre: children, non fiction, history
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 8yo for school

First sentence:

Christopher Columbus was not the first to discover the Americas.

Comments: A history of exploration through North America and South America from Canada to Peru. All major explorers of the times mentioned in the title are covered such as Cortes, de Soto, Cartier, Champlain, Hudson, and the founding of Jamestown. Presented in a large picture book format the text is appropriate for ages 6 and up. The illustrations are vivid, bright, detailed and interesting. Maps help visualize all exploration routes.

I found the book very politically correct and as a Christian needed to edit the text on the fly in many places. The word "forced" was used a lot in sentences which mentioned Christians and the conquering of the Aztecs failed …

168. Walter the Lazy Mouse by Marjorie Flack

Walter the Lazy Mouse by Marjorie Flack
Illustrated by Cyndy Szekers

Pages: 96
Finished: Oct. 22
First Published: 1937 Doubleday
Genre: children's fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 8yob.

First sentence:

Once upon a time there was a small young mouse named Walter.

Comments: This is the type of book that they don't make anymore but that I grew up reading: short chapter books with two-colour illustrations on every page. The copy I have has been re-illustrated by Cyndy Szekers in 1963. Marjorie Flack, herself, would have illustrated the original and I wish I could see her illustrations. I have always loved Szekers' illustrations but do not like it when books are re-illustrated.

Walter is a lazy mouse. So lazy in fact that he spends most of his time in bed and his family forgets about him and moves out right from under him. He wakes to an empty house and heads off into the forest to find his family. He gets lost and with the help of a new friend, Turtle, h…

167. Resistance

Resistance: A Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France by Agnes Humbert
Translated by Barbara Mellor

Pages: 270 + 100pgs of extraneous material (Afterward, index, etc.)
Finished: Oct. 20
First Published: 1946, 1st English translation Sept. 2, 2008
Genre: memoir, WWII
Rating: 4.5/5
Reason for Reading: I received a Review Copy from the publisher, Bloomsbury USA.

First sentence:

Rumours are flying, all flatly contradictory, but it seems clear that the Germans are advancing on all fronts.

Comments: Originally published in 1946, Agnes Humbert's journal became the most quoted source on the early days of French Resistance. Though being quoted frequently the book soon became obsolete and obscure obtainable only by academia. Republished in France in 2004, the book was finally translated into English this year, 2008.

The first and last sections of the book are taken directly from Ms. Humbert's day to day diary. Here we are told of her experiences as the Germans occupy Fr…

166. Killers of the Dawn

Killers of the Dawn by Darren Shan
The Saga of Darren Shan, Book 9

Pages: 206
Finished: Oct. 19, 2008
First Published: 2003
Genre: YA, horror, vampires
Rating: 4.5/5
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

First sentence:

It was an age of deceit.

Comments: Book 9 is a pivotal book in the Saga of Darren Shan series. The story arc that has been building since Book 4, I think, finally comes to a shattering reveal which I must admit I had already guessed several books back, but still it was fun to see it all unfold. A major tragedy happens in this book which was shocking and unexpected for me. The plot has been built up now for a final conclusion and showdown in the last three books.

Not much more to say with a long series like this. It is hard to review each book separately but this was one of the better books in the set and they've all been great. I can't wait to read the last 3!!

Monday: Review Books in the Mail

Last week was a good day for my mailbox, even had the UPS man here twice. Received in the mail last week are:

Last week I read an reviewed one arc so my pile has increased this week. Not counting the three children's graphic novels which my 8yo is reading to me, my towering, toppling arc pile has increased by 3 books.

I just haven't seemed to be reading as much as usual these days but I'm planning for that to change next month. I will be visiting my Dad in Alberta for 3 weeks in Nov. and I intend on bringing a ton of my arcs with me. I'll be alone in the house all day as they are at work so I can relax by their fireplace and read all day long! I am soooo looking forward to it.

165. Fractured

Fractured by Karen Slaughter
Special Agent Will Trent, Book 2

Pages: 388
Finished: Oct. 18, 2008
First Published: July 29, 2008
Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: 3.5/5
Reason for Reading: received a review copy from Random House Canada. Plus I've read all the author's books, this is her latest.

First sentence:

Abigail Campano sat in her car parked on the street outside her own house.

Comments: When I first started reading this book I thought it was a standalone but quickly realized it was the next book in a series which started with Triptych. The story starts with a woman arriving home and finding her door open and the window glass smashed. She thinks of her daughter and runs up the stairs but at the top of the stairs she sees a girl obviously murdered (presumably her daughter) and a man kneeling next to her with a knife in her hand. She screams and runs down the stairs, she falls down the stairs, the man follows, grabs her legs, she kicks him, gets on top of him and strangles him to…

164. Pedro's Journal

Pedro's Journal: A Voyage with Christopher Columbus August 3 1492-February 14, 1493 by Pam Conrad

Pages: 80
Finished: Oct. 15, 2008
First Published: 1991
Genre: children, historical fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 8yo for school

First sentence:

The ship's roster of the Santa Maria has me down as Pedro de Alcedo, ship's
Comments: Told in a diary format this is the story of Columbus' first voyage to the New World told through the eyes of young ship's boy. It document's well the voyage in search of a route to Asia looking for spices and silk. This is the second time I've read this book aloud and it does make for a good read aloud experience. Conrad mixes fiction with fact to portray a boy of the times who sees things that are wonderful and other things that he finds shameful. The book is a little on the "bad Spaniards/poor Indians" point of view and Columbus' Christian purposes are not brought into play in this story much at…

OT: Yeah!!!! Political Post

It is with great relief and pride that I celebrate tonight the re-election of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Still a minority government but with a very healthy rise in seats this time around. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations Mr. Harper!

163. The Beast of Chicago by Rick Geary

The Beast of Chicago: The Murderous Career of H.H. Holmes by Rick Geary
A Treasury of Victorian Murder, Book 6

Pages: unnumbered
Finished: Oct. 13, 2008
First Published: 2003
Genre: True crime, history, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

First sentence:

The year is 1893.

Comments: This is the story of H.H. Holmes, who was infamous as the monster of the Chicago World's Fair in the late 1890s. He built a large building he named "The Castle" which had secret rooms, gas rooms, laboratories, torture rooms, etc. He is known as being America's first serial killer, though actually he was probably just the first one caught and punished. He is thought to have murdered hundreds of people, especially women by running a lodging house within the castle.

Geary's illustrations are on par with previous books in this series. I often think he gets better as he goes along. The detail in his drawings are amazing and the black and white illustration…

Monday: New Review Books in the Mail

Last week I didn't receive any review books in the mail! That's all right though because it helps me get a little ahead. I read and reviewed one book last week, so the arc pile is down one more book.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers!

I also hope all my Canadian readers go out to the polls tomorrow and cast your vote. Hopefully, the Liberals won't be given a chance to ruin our country that has only just started to recover from the horrible Liberal rule of the last many years.

God Bless!

162. Bookweird

Bookweird by Paul Glennon

Pages: 250
Finished: Oct. 11, 2008
First Published: Aug. 19, 2008
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reason for Reading: Review copy sent to me by Random House Canada . Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

The weekend started out well for Norman Jespers-Wilnius.

Comments: Norman's behaviour gets himself grounded from his computer for the weekend. Fortunately, he is also an avid reader so he starts the weekend off by picking up the umpteenth book in his favourite series (a Redwall type of book) as he reads he unconsciously starts picking at a page much farther on in the book and ends up eating the page. When he gets to the page, a major moment in the plot, he finds it gone and realizes what he's done. So off he sets for the library where he meets a very strange new librarian who won't let him have a copy of the book for various reasons. But as Norman leaves the librarian tells him he'll take care of it just go back home and read the book.

OT: Harper Warned Us About the Economy

Political Post (skip if not interested)

Harper Warned Us About the Economy
by Rob Doyle

Today, opposition parties are all talking about the dangers that global economic uncertainty is posing to the Canadian economy. Having suddenly woken up to the danger facing the economy, they are scrambling to invent policies about this crisis.

N.B. (from me) - Don't forget Harper is an economist by profession, not a professor or activist such as the other two.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper in December 2007

Last December, the Prime Minister was talking about the coming challenges brought on by the collapse of the U.S. housing market.

(London Free Press, December 12, 2007, A1.)

“Harper ready to give us the squeeze. Tells Canadians to tighten their belts as U.S. financial collapse looms” (Ottawa Sun, December 21, 2007).

“In CTV's year-end interview with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he says he's concerned about the slowdown in the American economy and how it could impact businesses north of the b…

Book Meme

I haven't done one of these in a while and I've seen this one doing the rounds so I just swiped it from A Patchwork of Books.

What was the last book you bought?
I haven't been buying books too much lately as I just have so many in the house, from the library and the arcs keep pouring in. But the last book I bought was from a thrift shop: If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming. I read her biography of Katherine Hepburn and found it to be very well-written and respectful. I love bios of old movie stars.

Name a book you have read MORE than once
Hmm. I've read a lot of books more than once, mostly classics or children's books but I'll say Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore. I read it numerous times as a child and I've read it a couple of times each to both of my children. (11 yrs apart)

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
The Bible. I became a Christian as an adult and my life ha…

161. Allies of the Night

Allies of the Night by Darren Shan
The Saga of Darren Shan, Book 8

Pages: 209
Finished: Oct. 8, 2008
First Published: 2002
Genre: YA, horror, paranormal
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Next in the series

First sentence:

It was an age of war.

Comments: Darren and Mr. Crepsley along with the others continue their quest to find and destroy the prophesied Lord of the Vampaneze. However, this volume takes a brief stop from the overall arching plot and plays out story of it's own which seems unrelated to the main plot but by the end things have turned in a new direction. My summaries are becoming vaguer and vaguer as I read along as I don't want to reveal any spoilers. Best thing about this entry in the series is the arrival of several people from earlier books. I had a hunch that two of them would show up again and was glad to find out I was right. This is just as engaging as the others in the series. Mr. Shan keeps the series fresh with twists and surprises plus he strays far from th…

160. John Cabot & Son

John Cabot & Son by David Goodnough
Illustrated by Allan Eitzen

Pages: 48
Finished: Oct. 7, 2008
First Published: 1979
Genre: children's biography
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to the 8yo as part of our school.

First sentence:

The city of Genoa, Italy, is famous as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.

Comments: A simple to read biography written in a story format of mostly John Cabot and the last few pages concentrate on Sebastian Cabot, his son. John Cabot is always interesting for kids to read about because he disappeared and was never seen again on his second voyage. John Cabot first claimed land in North America for Britain, naming it the "New Found Land", now called Newfoundland. A decent read for what it is at this level. Good 2nd and 3rd grade readers will have no problem reading the book themselves and it also works well as a read aloud.

Monday: Review Books in the Mail (on Wednesday)

Last week I received one review copy in the mail from Random House Canada. This looks like a rivetting thriller. I can't wait to read it.

Things worked well last week, receiving one new arc and reading and reviewing two making the toppling arc pile one book shorter than the week before.

159. Mubound

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Pages: 324
Finished: Oct. 5, 2008
First Published: March, 2008
Genre: southern fiction, historical fiction
Award: Bellwether Prize
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada. Qualifies for the Book Awards Challenge.

First sentence:

Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep.

Comments: A story of 1940s Mississippi. A tale of two families; one black, the other white. Henry McAllen moves from the city with his wife, two young daughters and his cantankerous, racist father to land he has just bought. On that land are four sharecroppers but the story focuses on one family, that of Hap Jackson his wife and three young children. Henry's younger brother is off fighting in WWII as is Hap's oldest son who are both around the same age. When the war ends both of these young men eventually return war weary and world-wise to the South of the Forties, a viciously, racist time and place.

Each chapter is narrated by one of the six main charac…

158. The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Little Frog Book 1

Pages: 240
Finished: Oct. 1, 2008
First Published: 1999
Genre: children, historical fiction
Award: WILLA Award
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: Started out as a read-aloud to my 8yo but I ended up finishing myself. Qualifies for the Book Award Challenge.

First sentence:

The only person left alive on the island was a baby girl.

Comments: My first thought about this book is that is is a Little House on the Prairie from the Indian perspective. The illustrations are even reminiscent of Garth Williams. However, it doesn't hold up to Wilder's books at all.

The book chronicles a year in the life a little Ojibwa girl. The book is divided into seasons and we follow her as her family and tribe lead their normal lives. Mostly there are no connections with the white man though her father trades with the white traders and voyageurs. Each chapter is episodic but no major plot runs through book or even within the chapters. This is not to say it was…

RIP III Challenge Complete

With my last review I've now finished the RIP III challenge. I presume I'll be reading more books that will qualify as I read this genre a lot. But officially I am done the challenge. I did not make a list to read from but went the free and easy route and read whatever I felt like as it came up. Here's my list of books read:

1. The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan
2. Hunters of the Dusk by Darren Shan
3. The Mystery of Mary Rogers by Rick Geary
4. Night Runner by Max Turner
5. Faces of Fear by John Saul

All book were good or better but my fav. was Night Runner by Max Turner