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Showing posts from April, 2009

April Reflections

As today is the last day of the month and I don't have any book reviews to write, I thought I'd take a look at the month in review. This month I felt like I've read and read but have only read 16 books in total and some of those are kids' books! This is the first month this year that I have less than 20 books total and I cannot find a reason for it. But when I think about it, we were overly busy with appointments this month and all the extra days of church over Easter so I guess a lot of my reading time was taken up otherwise. (Speaking of Easter, we are still celebrating that, many people may do not know this but the Easter celebration lasts for 5o days. It is not a one day religious celebration, as it is a one day secular holiday.) Anyway, I'm hoping to finish two more books today, The Forest of Hands and Teeth which I am more than half finished and then The Wonderful O which is a long picture book or novelette for children. I won't get them reviewed today bu…

85. Hand of Isis

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Hand of Isis by Jo Graham

Pages: 508
Ages: 18+
Finished: Apr. 28, 2009
First Published: Mar. 23, 2009
Genre: historical fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5

Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from the publisher.

First sentence:

In twilight I approached the doors, and in twilight they stood open for me.

Comments: This is the story of Cleopatra told through the eyes of her sisterly handmaiden. Born just months apart, it is the story of three sisters, all of whom have the same Pharaoh as a father. One of them, had the first Queen as her mother while the other two were born from the Pharaoh's harem. The two sisters of the harem are given to Cleopatra as handmaidens when they are five years old to be playmates for her and to attend studies with the princess who is a forgotten third daughter of the dead first Queen. The girls spend their childhood banished to a Temple Island and when they come back Cleopatra is the new Pharaoh. The book continues through the period of Julius Caesar, then Mark Anthony a…

Asperger's and a Haircut

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I got my hair cut yesterday by a hairdresser! Doesn't sound like much I know but it was a rather landmark moment in my life since I have cut my own hair for the last 10 or so years. Nothing special just a trim, the same length all the way round, but how I hated doing it! But the alternative was worse, going to a hairdresser's. You see, I have Asperger's and my whole life I've been uncomfortable at the hair salon and as I got older it got worse and worse until it reached the point where I can remember my last professional haircut distinctly. Nothing tragic happened, I just decided once and for all I wasn't subjecting myself to that anymore.

You see there are two things about going to the hairdresser's that make me want to run out of there screaming. One, I have personal space issues. I don't like anyone entering my personal space and it is very hard for someone to cut my hair without not only entering my personal space but also touching me. This is a …

Monday Arcs in the Mail

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Last week brought in a few packages with some lovely books to read with a couple that I am really dying to start to read. Last week I only managed to read 2 arcs, I'm not sure why, but I think taking time out to read Watchmen was what kept the arcs down as that is one huge book, even though it is a graphic novel. So the stats don't look quite as good for Mount tbr this week with 2 read and reviewed and 8 new arcs in, that leaves the pile a staggering 6 books larger and with a definite lean. Now on to the books!


The Shrinking of Treehorn

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The Shrinking of Treehorn
by Florence Parry Heide
Illustrated by Edward Gorey

First Published: 1971

Reason for Reading: Dad, who usually does the bedtime reading, had to be out until late last night. So I had to find something on the shelves that would take one sitting to read and I've been eager to read this one since I bought it.

First sentence:

Something very strange was happening to Treehorn.
Comments: A wonderful story about a boy who loves to send away for the things on the back of cereal boxes. He has a whole collection of such things. One day he wakes up and after a while realizes that he is shrinking. His parents don't believe him at first but by the end of the school day it's quite clear to all that he is indeed shrinking and his parents are quite put out about what to do. Treehorn himself discovers the reason and all ends well but, then, does it?

I bought this book from a thrift shop simply because it was illustrated by Gorey; I couldn't have cared less what the boo…

R.I.P. Bea Arthur

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Aged 86, Bea Arthur most remembered for her portrayal as Maude during the '70s and as one of the Golden Girls during the '80s died at home today. She will be sadly missed.

84. Tree in the Trail

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Tree in the Trail
written & illustrated by Holling Clancy Holling

Pages: unpaginated
Ages: 10+ (younger for read aloud)
Finished: Apr. 24, 2009
First Published: 1942
Genre: children, historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 8yo as part of our curriculum.

First sentence:

An Indian boy and his uncle, a scout of the Kansas tribe, followed an ancient buffalo trail up a low hill.

Comments: This book follows the story of a cottonwood tree located on the Santa Fe trail somewhere past Kansas City. The story starts with a young Indian boy saving the sapling from an impending buffalo stampede by surrounding it with many rocks. Then follows the growth of the tree as it becomes a part of the Indian culture, sees the coming of the Spaniards, warring Indian tribes, the arrival of French trappers and finally the caravans that followed the Santa Fe trail.

The book is in traditional oversized picture book format but is a somewhat lengthy chapter book. Each chapter is one page l…

83. If You Lived With the Iroquois

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...If You Lived With the Iroquois by Ellen Levine
Illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger

Pages: 80
Ages: 7+
Finished: Apr. 23, 2009
First Published: 1998
Genre: children, non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 8yo as part of our curriculum.

First sentence:

Before there was a United States, there were hundreds of thousands, some say millions, of people living on the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Comments: After a brief introduction to introduce the Iroquois and a map to show the land they occupied the rest of the book follows a question and answer format. The book is very thorough and every possible topic that would interest a child is presented: food, clothing, family relations, lodgings, games, sports, what boys and men did opposed to what girls and women did and many more topics. The text is written to the reader in the second person speaking to "you" directly as if you had asked the question yourself. The book is profusely illustrated with each pa…

82. Life Sentences

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Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

Pages: 344
Ages: 18+
Finished: Apr. 22, 2009
First Published: Mar. 10, 2009
Genre: fiction
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: I received a Review Copy from Harper Collins Canada.

First sentence:

"Well," the bookstore manager said, "it is Valentine's Day."
Comments: Cassandra Fallows, author of two memoirs and one novel, travels back to her Baltimore neighbourhood to research her new book. Her first memoir centred around the lives of her middle class white family and that of her three best friends who are black and of mixed financial backgrounds. There was a fifth black girl on the outskirts of her group of friends whom Cassie never really paid any attention to but it has just now been revealed to her that this girl was questioned in the death of her infant son and then spent seven years in jail for contempt for pleading the fifth and has never uttered one word about her missing, presumed murdered son. This is what Cassie wants to base her new…

81. Poe: A Life Cut Short

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Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd
Brief Lives series

Pages: 160
Ages: 18+ (though accessible to 15+)
Finished: Apr. 21, 2009
First Published: Mar. , 2009
Genre: biography, non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: I received a Review Copy from Random House Canada. I'm also a bit of a Poe fanatic.

First sentence:


On the evening of 26 September 1849, Edgar Allan Poe stopped in the office of a physician in Richmond, Virginia -- John Carter -- and obtained a palliative for the fever that had beset him.
Comments: This is a short, or rather, brief biography of Edgar Allan Poe, part of a series the author has done called Brief Lives in which also includes biographies of Chaucer, Newton and Turner. This is not the first biography of Poe I have read, nor will it be the last. It has been quite some years since I last read of Poe, though, so the information was all coming fresh to my hazy mind.

For such a short book, there is a wealth of information and detail included that leaves n…

I've Been Interviewed

Wendy (aka Literary Feline) was kind enough to ask me for an interview! The result is up today on her blog Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Go on over and have a read!

80. Watchmen

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Watchmen by Alan Moore
Illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Pages: 416
Ages: 18+
Finished: Apr. 20, 2009
First Published: 1986/1987 (previously published as individual comic books)
Genre: graphic novel, super heroes
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: I've been wanting to read this for quite some time. Longer than I even knew they were thinking about making a movie. I've often seen it on the library shelf but decided against picking up this very thick graphic novel. Of course, it took the recent movie to make me actually get up and read it but by then everybody else wanted to read it and I had to add my name to the very long waiting list at the library. Finally it was my turn.

First sentence:

Rorschach's journal, October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach.

Comments: Only a very broad summary can tell the premise of this plot without giving anything anyway and that hardly does the story any justice. A group of costumed heroes worked at thwarting crime during…

Monday: Books in the Mail

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Last week was a very bookish mail week for me. I received an assortment of arcs every day of the week except Wednesday from an assortment of publishers. I found packages on my doorstep and in my mailbox and saw CanPar, UPS and FedEx trucks all stop by plus neither was the mailman empty handed. Lots of fun. Thank goodness I did well with reading arcs this week, too! I read and reviewed 4 arcs and received 7 making the arc pile only 3 books larger. And what I really like about this assortment is that the publishing due dates stretch from Mar all the way through to July. So not a bombardment of all must be read now. A great assortment here too. I can't wait to read them. Now what you are all waiting for, the books!

Sunday Ramblings

One of the big problems in my life is I have a hard time getting personal about myself. I often come off as being very stuck up or aloof to people who first meet me because of this. As you'll find out later this has more to do with other things than a general character flaw. I've been thinking this over for quite a while now, and especially over Lent, and I'm going to try and be more personable on my blog here. Now I don't mean lamenting over the weather or my pets (I don't have any btw) but I mean talking about more personal topics rather than just posting book reviews day in and day out. I have many things I'd like to talk about and instead of starting another blog which will cause severe problems for me as I've already tried and failed at juggling more than one content-heavy blog, I'm going to try out chatting here on days I don't have book reviews to post. I read many of your blogs that are a mixture of books and posts about your hardship…

79. The Glister

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The Glister by John Burnside

Pages: 228
Ages: 18+
Finished: Apr. 17, 2009
First Published: March 10, 2009
Genre: horror, thriller
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Random House.

First sentence:

In the beginning, John Morrison is working in his garden.


Comments: Innertown, located somewhere on the coast of Britain, has been more like a ghost town since the chemical plant closed down years ago. Since them most people who worked there have either died or are very sick with undetermined illnesses. The plant and the surrounding acres have been shut down and closed off, left to the elements and time. Of course kids being kids, there are some who still like to hang out and wander around the old plant. This is the setting for a sudden disappearance of a local boy, there one minute, gone the next. Now over the years, every so often a boy will disappear, one this year, then one two years later, then one the next year and so on. The local police find no traces, the boys ar…

78. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World

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The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by e.l. konigsburg

Pages: 244
Ages: 10+
Finished: Apr. 16, 2009
First Published: 2007 (paperback out March, 2009)
Genre: children, YA, realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

First sentence:

In the late afternoon on the second Friday in September, Amedeo Kaplan stepped down from the school bus into a cloud of winged insects.
Comments: Amedeo Kaplan, a new boy in town, is our main character and he has always wanted to discover something that was lost but that nobody knew was lost, such as a dinosaur or the Lascaux caves. Next door to him is an elderly lady preparing to move into a retirement settlement and she is packing up and sorting through her worldly goods looking for keepers and estate sale fodder. Aida Lily Tull Zender is a flamboyant, self-serving, outspoken, crotchety, former operatic (though second-tier) star. Helping her is the estate agent and her son William, whom Amedeo …

77. Alligator Bayou

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Alligator Bayou by Donna Jo Napoli

Pages: 280
Ages: 11+
Finished: Apr. 13, 2009
First Published: Mar. 10, 2009
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Rating: 4/5

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

First sentence:

The night is so dark, I can barely see my hands.

Comments: This is a coming of age story of one Italian immigrant boy, Calogero, of uncertain age until the end of the book where we can figure he is about fourteen years old. It is the story of his life with his uncles and cousin, as the only Italian family in a small Louisiana town in 1899. They grow vegetables and are grocers and doing a might fine job at the business. He becomes friends with a small group of black boys and falls in love with one of their sisters, Patricia. The book is filled with their adventures, alligator hunting in the swamp, sneaking a kiss at a church picnic and a meeting with a very old Indian way out in the swamps.

But this story is also set against a very disturbing time in America…

76. The Redeemer

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The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo
Harry Hole, Book 6
Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

Pages: 457
Ages: 18+
Finished: Apr. 12, 2009
First Published: 2005 (Norway), Mar, 10 2009 UK/Can
Genre: crime fiction, mystery
Rating: 4.5/5

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

First sentence:

She was fourteen years old and sure that if she shut her eyes tight and concentrated she could see the stars through the roof.

Comments: One evening during Christmas a Salvation Army man is shot (assassination style) at his collection post. As the police try to find whether this murder is aimed at the Salvation Army as a whole the man's brother is shot at and barely escapes with his life. Now it becomes a family thing and the police want to know which brother was the real target or are they both wanted dead? But when a seemingly unrelated woman's brutal death soon follows the police are stumped as to whether there is any connection. There is an unknown hit man on the loose and t…

Monday: Arcs in the Mailbox

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Last week was a quiet week for book mail. I only received one package of books and that was last Monday, so it's been a while. But fortunately that one package was a nice big doozy from Random House Canada which more than made up for not receiving any other book goodies. Here's what I received:



So for my grand tally that brings in 5 more arcs to read and last week I read and reviewed 2 books (though really 3 but I won't review it until today so it won't count until next weeks stats), making the arc pile 3 books larger. That seems to be my average. If I can just get all the books I have earmarked to read and review for this month I will be a-ok and way on schedule, with plenty of room for personal reading too. My next 3 reads should be short quick reads helping me along. Wish me luck; this month is going by too fast for my liking. Now to get off the computer and go read!

I'll be back later though with a review of the book I finished over the weekend, The Redeemer by J…

To My Little Sister

Well, when I wrote my list of six things that make me happy I must say that they were written in NO PARTICULAR ORDER. C'mon rain is nice of course, but it wouldn't be number #1. My sister did not like being number 5 out of 6. She can understand coming second to Michael Buble but not after rain or coffee. So I hereby declare that the things that make me happy are not in any particular order except #1 is Michael Buble and #2 is talking to my sister. But after complaining like that I am tempted to knock her down to #3 after my immediate family. Just kidding Mich! #2 spot is a tie between you and the whole family,with you a little ahead of everybody else except my kids. LOL! But if Michael Buble comes knocking, I'm outa here!!!!

Awards

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I just found out that J. Kaye tagged me with the HAPPY TAG while I was away from the computer. Thanks J! I love being happy. Here are the rules:

Here are the rules..

1. Link to the person who has tagged you.

2. Write down six things that make you happy.

3. Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it.

4. Then tell the person when your entry is complete.

Six Things That Make Me Happy

1. The smell of rain
2. My family
3. The sound of Michael Buble's voice (not to mention the look of him either)
4. A really good cup of coffee
5. Talking to my sister (who lives very far away from me)
6. When the first rose blooms in my front garden



And Trish was so kind to give me the Sisterhood Award the other day! Thanks so much!

I'm not very good at giving awards back. I feel bad for leaving people out and I end up giving awards to people I later find out were just given the award by someone else so I'm not going to give these awards to anyone specific. If I've ever left a comm…

75. The Revolutionary John Adams

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The Revolutionary John Adams by Cheryl Harness

Pages: 39
Ages: 8+
Finished: Apr. 9, 2009
First Published: 2003
Genre: childrens, biography
Rating: 3/5

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

First sentence:

On the 19th of October 1735 in a cottage at the foot of Penn's Hill in the village of Braintree, not quite a mile from where the Atlantic Ocean meets the coast of New England, Susanna Adams had a son.

Comments: Part of a series of biographies published by National Geographic, the author also illustrated this book profusely. Published in an oversized picture-book format the pages are colourful and full of gorgeous illustrations throughout that will keep the attention of any child. The text is written in an engaging, informative style and both the 8yo and I, who knew nothing of the subject before hand, learned a lot. The book goes from Adams' birth until his death and was an interesting read. Not until the Revolution did the use of dates become too extensiv…

Books Read & DVDs Watched in March

A little late, I know. But with being away from the computer I missed posting my February end of the month results and March ones as well. It is still close enough to say rather late than never with the March ones so here's my list. You can see my complete list of books read for the year so far here and my complete list of movies/DVDs watched for the year so far here.

Books Read in March: 22
Books marked with xx are not counted towards my total
48. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore (4****)
49. The Vagrants by Yiyun Li (4****)
50. Serenity: Better Days by Joss Whedon (3***)
51. The Amazing Spider-Man: Happy Birthday by J. Michael Straczynski (4****)
XX. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman (2**)
52. Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson (4.5****)
XX. A Dog Came, Too by Ainslie Manson (4.5****)
XX. The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman (3***)
53. The Amazing Spider-Man: The Book of Ezekiel by J. Michael Straczynski (4.5****)
54. Storybook Love by Bill Willingha…

Here's How Yesterday Went

I woke up yesterday morning and went into the bathroom to do my ablutions when it clicked in my head that I might actually, no wait a minute, I'm pretty sure I don't have any appointments today. So I open the door and call to my dh:

"Can you look at the calendar? Do I have any appointments today?"

He says "I think you have one with Judy"

I say "No, I'm pretty sure that's tomorrow"

He goes and looks comes back and says "No, you're right, no appointments"

Me, thinking in my head now "Yippee! I think I'm going to have a pajama day! I'll just wash up a bit run the comb through my hair and have a happy pj day".

So there I am happily scrubbing my face when dh knocks on door "The dentist is on the phone, they've had a cancellation, can you come in today at 10 for your root canal?"

Total 360!!!

Ended up taking pjs off and wearing clothes as I spent 3 hrs (including waiting times) getting a quite painful …

Two ARC Challenges Finished

While I was away on my Lent sabbatical I managed to finished two of my challenges which were very closely related making some books overlapping and thus, making it easier to finish them both.

The Pub Challenge '09 (read 9 books) FINISHED
1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Jan.27 2009)
2. The Lost City of Z by David Grann (Feb.24 2009)
3. American Rust by Philipp Meyer (Feb. 24 2009)
4. The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas (Jan. 6 2009)
5. A Dangerous Affair by Caro Peacock (Jan.19 2009)
6. Fool by Christopher Moore Feb.9 2009
7. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Feb.3 2009)
8. Bloodprint by Kitty Sewell (Feb.3 2009)
9. The Vagrants by Yiyun Li (Feb.3 2009)

This was hosted by Michelle and I had a great time. She always runs a fabulous, smooth challenge and is one of the nicest ladies out there plus one of the first book bloggers I met. I have to tell these books were so awesome that I can't pick out a best. I can petty much guarantee that both Ameri…

ARCS Received and Read in 2009

I finished the ARC Reading Challenge which I'm going to post next and it is such a great resource list that I decided to start a separate post to continue keeping up-to-date with review books as I receive them and adding links as I review them. Helps me see how I'm making progress.

I'm certainly keeping up this year. I have a new plan! I scrapped last years plan of reading them in the order in which they came in and am instead reading them by publishing due dates. I read all books the month after publication date, hence this month April I am reading all the March books. This way I can see how many books I have to read each month. If it's a small pile like last month I have time to add in some older arcs that are overdue or some library books or pleasure reads and if it is a large pile like March is then I buckle down and only read those arcs till they are done. I basically have them piled up in order by due date but I'll take them out of order if I feel like it. For…