Showing posts from June, 2009

117. The Jumping-Off Place by Marian Hurd McNeely

The Jumping-Off Place by Marian Hurd McNeely
Illustrated by William Siegel
Afterward by Jean L.S. Patrick

Pages: 321
Ages: 8+
Finished: June 29, 2009
First Published: 1929 (new edition, Oct. 2008)
Genre: children, historical fiction
Award: Newbery Honor
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

Down on their knees, a boy and girl were taking up the kitchen linoleum.

Reason for Reading: I'm reading all the Newbery Awards and Honors. I received a copy through LibraryThing's ER Program. I also very much love children's historical fiction about the early days of settling our land.

Comments: Four children Becky (17), Dick (15), Phil (10) and Joan (8) live with their Uncle Joe in a nice little town in Wisconsin. Joe, a sea-going man, settled down with the children when they were orphaned but his heart always missed something. That is until the day he went to check out the land available in South Dakota and fell in love with the prairies which reminded him so much of the sea. He didn't win the lo…

Monday: Arcs in the Mail

Yep, that's right! Last week I didn't receive a single book in the mailbox. I cannot remember when that has ever happened before in the last year and a half. By Wednesday it was a little depressing but by Friday I was hoping nothing would suddenly arrive because that would mean the 3rd week in a row in which all my ARC reading was actually decreasing the number of ARCs I have!

So with my focus on YA books this month, I have managed to finish them all off from my current pile and my backlog pile this last week except for the one I'm currently reading. Stat time again! With 0 books in and 3 ARCS read and reviewed my ARC pile is 3 books smaller! And after some quick math my total percentage of ARCS received that I have read is now at 58% which is up 6% since the last time I checked! Woohoo. I'm making headway.

116. Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie

Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie
Book One

Pages: 552
Ages: 10+
Finished: June 27, 2009
First Published: May 26, 2009
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Ian Wigby sat on his cot, staring at the raging storm just beyond his window.

Reason for Reading: The jacket flap simply intrigued me. The book sounded right up my alley. I received a copy from the publisher.

Comments: Set in the 1930's along the White Cliffs of Dover atop of which stands an old castle and its keep. In that keep is an orphanage run by the earl, who owns the property and the land. It is here that orphans Ian and Theodosia (Theo) have lived most of their lives. Now 13 and 10 respectively they spend a lot of their time secretly exploring the caves within the cliffs (a most forbidden activity ) until one day they discover a silver box that contains an ancient prophecy that will forever change who they thought they were. As they turn to leave the cave they are chased by a hellhound and now that the evil …

Rest In Peace

This has been a sad week for the loss of celebrities, one after the other. My respect lies with these two who had ups and downs throughout their lives but both overcame their hardships and downfalls with grace and dignity. You will both be sadly missed. My prayers go out to their families and loved ones.

1923-2009 - My favourite moments of The Tonight Show after the famous "Heeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" was the few minutes when Johnny and Ed would have their chat together before the show started. I've never really been a fan of the show since they left and haven't watched it for more than a few minutes in years now. Of course, Ed went on to make a name for himself on his own afterwards with Star Search, the precursor to such shows as "America's Got Talent".

1947-2009 - I loved Charlie's Angels and watched it every week as a kid. I loved Jill! How I wished my hair would feather like hers but unfortunately I had thick naturally curly hair that just …

115. Jed Smith: Trailblazer of the West

Jed Smith: Trailblazer of the West by Frank Latham
Illustrated by Frank Murch
Revised and Edited by Michael J. McHugh

Pages: 122
Ages: 10+
Finished: June 25, 2009
First Published: 1952 (edited 2003)
Genre: children, historical fiction, christian fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

"Here, sonny, take a drink o' this."

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to the 9yo as part of our curriculum.

Comments: This is the story of Jedediah Smith. One of the lesser known, yet just as important explorers of the American West. He was the first white man to cross Nevada and Utah and the first American to enter California by land. He was also the first to scale the High Sierras. He managed to fill in large portions of previous "white spaces" on the map of the American West.

Jed was a mountain man, explorer, hunter and trapper but unlike the men he kept company with he was clean shaven, a teetotaler, used clean language and read his Bible every day. The book starts off right at the point when …

114. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
Darkest Powers, Book Two

Pages: 360
Ages: 14+
Finished: June 23, 2009
First Published: Apr. 28, 2009
Genre: YA, paranormal, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

When the door to my cell clicked open, the first thought that flitted through my doped-up brain was that Liz had changed her mind and come back.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series. I received a review copy from the publisher.

Comments: The story picks up shortly after Book One and without giving much away, I'll say this book's main focus is that of the teens being on the run. While all six teens are still in this book, only five of them are a part of the story and if you've read Book One it may not be the five your thinking of. As all the teens take part in the plot, two of them in particular become the main characters and the undercurrents of a romance are felt boiling beneath the surface.

As often happens with the second book in a trilogy, The Awakening does have a feeling of being the mi…

113. Science Fiction Classics

Science Fiction Classics edited by Tom Pomplun
Graphic Classics, Volume 17

Pages: 144
Ages: 14+
Finished: June 19, 2009
First Published: May 15, 2009
Genre: graphic novel, short stories, science fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Yes, in a thousand years people will fly on the wings of steam through the air, over the ocean!

Reason for Reading: I'm working my way through the series and it's not necessary to read them in any given order. I received a review copy from the publisher.

Comments: This graphic novel contains an anthology of graphic adaptations of one novel and five short stories. H.G. Well's War of the Worlds is included as are tales by authors such as Hans Christian Anderson, Conan Doyle, Stanley Weinbaum and E.M. Forster's one and only sci-fi short story.

As a big fan of this series the first big news about this volume is that it is the very first one to be printed in full colour. And they couldn't have picked a better theme to introduce colour. The book has a …

Graphic Novels for Young Readers

These two books come from Stone Arch Books and are a part of a larger series called Graphic Sparks which the publishers describe as "good-humored", graphic novels especially designed for younger readers with "wacky comic-book-style artwork". And I concur with that. As with all Stone Arch graphic novels they are also well suited for educational use. With the back pages containing: About the Author, About the Illustrator, Glossary, More about the topic of interest (in this case the myth of werewolves and a brief history of Frankenstein), Discussion Questions and Writing Prompts. Plenty of material for a teacher to buy a set and include these graphic novels in a book study. Of course, we just read the books here at home! No further study required.

Eek & Ack vs the Wolfman by Blake A Hoena. Illustrated by Steve Harpster. 33 pgs. 2009. RL: 1.8.

Eek & Ack are two aliens who fly around in a spaceship which looks suspiciously like a washing machine. They decide to …

Monday: Arcs in the Mail

Last week saw the usual flow of book parcels arriving at the house but only 2 of the books were for review purposes. So 2 ARCs in and 5 read and reviewed makes my review pile 3 books smaller! Wow, 2 weeks in a row! Does that make it a trend? Somehow I don't think so. Hopefully this will continue for a while and we'll see some improvement in my stats. I actually don't think I have much coming for July. Here are my two new Review Books:

Next up, when I held that giveaway last month I ended up getting a set of the books, too; which I hadn't been expecting. I kept two of the books and gifted the others.

And finally, but certainly not least, I was the Lucky Winner of this paranormal romance over at Readaholic!

112. The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin

Pages: 299
Ages: 18+
Finished: June 20, 2009
First Published: March 24, 2009
Genre: non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

I have now decided that the time has come when I must share my life story -- not only with my loving family, but perhaps with all those who are interested to know about what life was like for many of us on the other side of the world before and during World War II.

Reason for Reading: I am always interested in reading survivors' memoirs of the Holocaust. I received a review copy through Library Thing's ER Program.

Comments: Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a Russian girl, lived through the Holocaust caught when the Germans invaded her city. She kept diaries from her childhood through the war up until the time she arrived in America in 1950 to start a new life. She never told a soul, not ever her husband or children, what happened to her…

111. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Darkest Powers, Book One

Pages: 390
Ages: 14+
Finished: June 19, 2009
First Published: July 1, 2008
Genre: YA, paranormal, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Mommy forgot to warn the new babysitter about the basement.
Reason for Reading: I've been wanting to read this author for sometime now but her adult series has a number of books in it and with all the series I already have going it's a daunting project and I thought this new YA series would be a great place to start and see if I liked the author before trying her adult books. I received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Comments: Chloe was a normal teenager until the day she sees a very scary ghost of a janitor in the girl's bathroom and runs screaming down the school hall. Next thing she knows, she has woken up in an exclusive home for mentally troubled teens. She's told she has a mental condition and they only want to help her get better. The handful of other patients all seem nice …

Reading Habits

As most of you know, 2009 is the Year of the ARC for me here at Back to Books and at this point in time they are all I'm reading. I'm loving every minute of it! I discovered a reading plan that has worked very well for me and that is to sort my books by publishing date and to read books published the month prior to the current month so I know how many books "should" be read that month. It has been working well but I do end up with leftovers each month and it's hard to get back to that leftover pile since I have a new pile of "should read" books each month.

This month I kind of had a blah moment where I just didn't feel like reading what I was "supposed" to read. I had my pile set up as per usual and I noticed the Atherton trilogy in there and I suddenly had an urge for some YA/juvenile genre luv. So what I've been doing is reading a kid's book from my current pile and then a kid's book from my leftovers pile, back and forth…

110. Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino

Pages: 154
Ages: 8+
Finished: June 17, 2009
First Published: May 12, 2009
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year-old.

Reason for Reading: Obviously enough, a title like that makes you look twice plus the historical setting of the moon landing caught my eye and the book looked like an interesting change of pace for me. I received a review copy from Roaring Brook Press.

Comments: Tamara Ann Simpson's best friend has moved and now in her house lives a ten-year-old boy who is always smiling and is a skinny runt so she's nicknamed him Muscle Man; only problem is he loves the name. In fact, he never seems to get any of the sarcastic comments she throws his way, he's always smiling and being nice to her. But the real thing that bothers her is why nobody can see through his lies? Neil Armstr…

109. Werewolf vs. Dragon: An Awfully Beastly Business

Werewolf versus Dragon by David Sinden, Matthew Morgan, Guy Macdonald
Illustrated by Jonny Duddle
An Awfully Beastly Business, Book 1

Pages: 186
Ages: 7-10
Finished: June 16, 2009
First Published: 2008 (UK), Apr. 28, 2009 (NA)
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Ulf watched the radar screen.

Reason for Reading: It simply appealed to me: the cover, the title and the write-up. When I received it I thought it would make a good read-aloud to my 9yo, and it did. I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Comments: Ulf lives at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts, more commonly called the RSPCB. It is a large castle-type building and estate somewhere in the UK which houses injured or otherwise in need of care beasts such as trolls, rocs, giants, biganasties, faries, sea serpents, or in Ulf's case, werewolves. A baby dragon is found shot on the premises as they watch the mother fly away. Next day an Inspector from the department of National an…

108. The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman

The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman
Illustrations by Squire Broel
Atherton, Book 3

Pages: 350
Ages: 9+
Finished: June 15, 2009
First Published: May. 1, 2009
Genre: children, science fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

It was the middle of the night when Red Eye and Socket came into the barracks and started walking between two long rows of beds.

Reason for Reading: The last book in the trilogy. I received a review copy from Hachette Book Group.

Comments: The third and final book in the trilogy focuses on a theme that the other books made us aware of early on, that of a post-apocalyptic Earth. Edgar follows a map left behind by Dr. Harding and finds himself on his way to The Dark Planet where he feels that everything has been set in motion for him a long time ago. Now is his time to save the children of this almost dead planet.

I really enjoyed this book the most out the three and that's saying a lot as I have heartily enjoyed this trilogy. But I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and this…

Monday: ARCs in the Mail

Well, it was a lonely week for my mailbox last week as I did not receive any ARCs or review books of any nature. zip. nada. zilch. However, I did receive one book that I won in a contest, but more on that later. I had gotten used to the regular delivery of books in the mail so it felt very unusual last week as none continued to arrive. But as the week progressed I started to hope that none would come as I realized that all my arc reading was having a negative effect on Mt. ARC. So my stats at this point are with 0 new arcs in and 4 books read and reviewed I have 4 less ARCs left to read! Finally the pile is getting smaller!

Since things are looking this good lets actually take a look at the stats for the year, shall we? I have 112 ARCs in my home for the 2009 season (a few are leftovers from 2008) and I have read 58 of those making for a total percentage of 52% read. I was a little scared there when I wrote down 112 {whew} but the figures come out to just over half, I can't complai…

An Adventure in Bookcrossing

I released my very first book "into the wild" as they say over at last week and I was so thrilled that a few days later it was picked up and registered! I've always thought of doing this bookcrossing thing but never got around to it. Being as I live in a Tourist destination, I imagine I could possibly have some books that make interesting travels. Well, it certainly brought me more joy than I thought it would and I think I'll do it again next time I have a book that's not Bookmooch-able.

Here's my book, it moved to the next town!

107. Zamora's Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott

Zamora's Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott

Pages: 198
Ages: 8-11
Finished: June 12, 2009
First Published: Feb. 1, 2008
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

The little man, named Jemlock, drew his sword, richly decorated with jewels he'd earned during his many adventures.

Reason for Reading: A very long time ago I read a book with the same premise of two children finding themselves inside a video game and loved it so the premise again intrigued me. I received a review copy from the author.

Comments: Two pre-teen boys are left to babysit their two-year old sister while the parents go grocery shopping. They turn on their favourite video game "Zamora's Ultimate Challenge" to have the face of Queen Zamora talking directly to them. She has taken little Isabella and plans on taking over her soul and returning to Earth in her body so she can eventually take over the planet Earth. All she needs to do is wait a few days for the planets to align. The boys who have…

YA Challenge - Completed!

This was a challenge that runs for the entire year (so there's still time to join!) and the goal was to read 12 Young Adult books. I'm actually surprised it took me this long into the year to finish this challenge as I usually read a lot of YA books, but I found a lot of my reading of books that would qualify for this challenge were actually more middle school or just plain children's books so I didn't include them in the list. I tried to make sure the books I listed here were truly books that teens would enjoy. The challenge was hosted over at J. Kaye's Book Blog and she knows how to run a smooth and seamless challenge!

My list:

1. Laika by Nick Abadzis
2. Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
3. Wake by Lisa McMann
4. Fade by Lisa McMann
5. Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
6. Alligator Bayou by Donna Jo Napoli
7. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by e.l. konigsburg
8. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
9. The Third Eye by Mahtab Narsimhan
10. Faery Rebe…

106. Rivers of Fire by Patrick Carman

Rivers of Fire by Patrick Carman
Illustrations by Squire Broel
Atherton, Book 2

Pages: 303
Ages: 9+
Finished: June 10, 2009
First Published: May, 2008
Genre: children, science fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

It was the middle of the night when Edgar entered the fig grove alone.

Reason for Reading: With the release of the last book in the trilogy this year, I decided to read the series. This is the second book. I received a review copy from Hatchette Book Group.

Comments: This book picks up right where book one left off and continues the story. I cannot tell you anything about the plot without spoiling details that happen in the first book and I like to keep my reviews spoiler free. So instead I'll focus on the characters. Edgar and Isabel are split up into different groups this time as they continue on important quests. They both join characters from book one whom we've only briefly met before; this time giving us greater insight into those characters. Doctor Kincaid, an aging …

105. Don't Call Me a Crook! by Bob Moore

Don't Call Me a Crook!: A Scotsman's Tale of World Travel, Whisky, and Crime by Bob Moore
Edited by Pat Spry
Afterword by James Kelman
Introduction and Annotations by Nicholas Towasser

Pages: 256
Ages: 18+
Finished: June 8, 2009
First Published: 1935 (1st reprint May 1, 2009)
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Autobiography
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life.

Reason for Reading: The 1920s and '30s are my particular favourite period to read first hand accounts from and when I heard about this book, the title coupled with the time period made it impossible for me to pass up. I received a review copy from Lisa @ Online Publicist.

Comments: Really where does one begin! Bob Moore is a thief, a racist, a womanizer, an alcoholic and worse. He is certainly not a likable fellow, so why read a book about him? Well, this is a very unique slice…

104. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Pages: 194
Ages: 10+
Finished: June 8, 2009
First Published: Mar. 24, 2009
Genre: YA, realistic fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Most people like to talk in their own language.

Reason for Reading: I don't usually read this type of teen fiction but since the theme was autism I was interested. I myself have Asperger's and my 9yo is on the Autistic Spectrum. I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Comments: Jason Blake is 12 years old and is on the Autistic Spectrum, commonly referred to as ASD. He was diagnosed when he was 8 and has many typical symptoms of autism: swaying, flapping, zoning out, meltdowns, social dysfunctions plus he also shows signs of Aspergers: having conversations running continuously in his head, rambling from one topic to another, obsessions and an above average intelligence in creative writing. He finds a "friend" on an online creative writing forum for teens and they start pm-ing each o…

Monday: Arcs in the Mail

Another good week doing my part to keep the postal system in business with 7 new arcs arriving at my doorstep last week. I am particularly eager to reader this set, a collection of all my favourite genres: mystery thrillers, entertainment memoirs, victoriana, and YA fantasy! With 7 in and 3 read and reviewed (and 2 more read but not reviewed so they don't count for last weeks stats) that makes an actual total of 4 arcs added to TBR Planet (it can no longer reasonably be called a mountain). Click on a book to find out more about it.

103. The House of Power by Patrick Carman

The House of Power by Patick Carman
Illustrated by Squire Broel
Atherton, Book 1

Pages: 330
Ages: 9+
Finished: June 6, 2009
First Published: 2007
Genre: YA science fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

It won't be long now.

Reason for Reading: It has been quite a while since I've read any science fiction and this series intrigued me very much. With the last book in the trilogy coming out this year I decided to start from the beginning. I received a review copy from Hatchette Book Group.

Comments: Edgar is an orphan who lives on the middle tier of a three tiered planet. His tier, Tabletop, is an agricultural world growing figs and producing rabbits and sheep. The top tier, The Highlands, is a powerful world full of the ruling class who have full control over the planet's water and they use this as punishment and incentive to keep production up. At the bottom is the Flatlands. No one knows anything about the Flatlands, they appear dusty, dry and full of rocks and whether anyone or anyth…

102. Starfinder by John Marco

Starfinder by John Marco
The Skylords, Book 1

Pages: 326
Ages: 13+
Finished: June 4, 2009
First Published: May, 2009
Genre: YA fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

Moth was flying his kite near the aerodrome when he heard the dragonfly crash.

Reason for Reading: I was initially drawn to the fantasy world of airships as I've read other books of airships and enjoyed them immensely and the publisher's write up of the plot had me extremely eager to read the book. I received a review copy from the author.

Comments: The setting is a town on the far reaches of a world. This town has an atmosphere of a 19th century American West feel to it. Right beside the town of Calio is the Reach, a sea of fog that stretches forever and that tales are told of about people who have entered but never returned. Moth is sent on a mission by his guardian's dying words to cross the Reach and enter the world of the Skylords and he is accompanied by his friend Fiona. The other side of the Reach is a new world f…

May in Review

May was the worst month this year for number of books read. But we have to remember I was away on holiday for 3 weeks, so I do have an excuse. I did read some fabulous books though:
Green books were read-alouds to my 8yo.

May: 13
89. Hell's Horizon by D.B. Shan (5*****)
90. The Lewis & Clark Edpedition : Join the Corps of Discovery to Explore Uncharted Territory by Carol A. Johmann (2.5**)
91. Ben and Me: An Astonished Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos by Robert Lawson (3.5***)
92. The Third Eye by Mahtab Narsimhan (4****)
93.The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho (4****)
94. The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French (4****)
95. Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson (4.5****)
96. The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen (3.5***)
97. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (4.5****)
98. Clara's War: A Young Girl's True Story of Miraculous Survival Under the Nazis by Clara Kramer (5*****)
99. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (4****)
100. The Little…

101. Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye

Pages: 325
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 31, 2009
First Published: Apr. 28, 2009
Genre: historical mystery
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

At first it seemed the Ripper affair had scarred my friend Sherlock Holmes as badly as it had the city of London itself.

Reason for Reading: I always enjoy a good book featuring Holmes but this time I must say it was my pet true crime case Jack the Ripper that pulled me towards this book even more. I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Comments: The plot is what you would expect. The real-life Jack the Ripper case has been put into the the fictional London of Sherlock Holmes and in this world Holmes becomes involved in trying to solve the case. The book itself has been approved by the Holmes estate and is very true to Holmesian Canon, including characters and history from previous stories with footnotes to show from whence the references came. The Jack th…

Winners! - Latino Book Month Giveaway

Hatchette Group graciously gave away a book pack of 5 Latino themed books for the Latino Book Month of May. There were 5 chances to win, and that meant 5 different people each won all 5 books listed below!
1. B as in Beauty By Alberto Ferreras ISBN: 0446697893
2. Into the Beautiful North By Luis Urrea ISBN: 0316025275
3. Hungry Woman in Paris By Josefina Lopez ISBN: 0446699411
4. The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos By Margaret Mascarenhas ISBN: 0446541109
5. Houston, We Have a Problema By Gwendolyn Zepeda ISBN: 0446698520

The winners have been randomly selected and they are:

Marie bridget3420 ellie Melissa - Shh I'm Reading
a real librarian
An email has been sent asking for your snail mail adress. If no reply is heard back, a new winner will be picked to replace your spot.

Monday ARCs in the Mail

Since my last Monday Arcs in the Mail post before I left for my trip I have read and reviewed 10 ARCs. Upon my arrival home I had 3 weeks worth of parcels and wow! they were unusually busy weeks of book arrivals too. I'm afraid my stats are not going to look too good for this period. See what taking a vacation does to your reading schedule? Having read and reviewed 10 ARCs and received 22 during that period that makes a total addition of 12 ARCs to TBR Planet. If anyone ever wonders where I am, that's me, over there, the one buried under all the books!!

And 1 Bookmooch:

And finally but certainly not least I was fortunate enough to win a trilogy of books by Karleen Koen from Arleigh over at