Showing posts from May, 2010

Monday: Books in the Mail

Books that came in the mail for me last week!

Penguin Group (Canada):

An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War

In this stunning first novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head­strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine-and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak- Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens-two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering-and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerf…

Bookcase Review

The bookcase I chose to review from CSN Stores was shipped on May 20 and arrived on May 24. I was very pleased with such quick delivery. Unfortunately, once we unpacked the pieces we found that the top corner of the two side boards had been chipped. From the wear of the box, it looks to have been done in transit. If I had paid for the item I would have called Customer Service at this point but we decided to go ahead and put the case together as we figured once it was put together it probably wouldn't be noticeable even though you can quite evidently see the damage in the picture here.

After a bit of hesitation in trying to figure out step 1 in the instructions, I took over as instruction reader whilst hubby put the case together and everything went smoothly from that point on. Here we have the frame put together and the back hammered on after about 15 mins. Now to take it upstairs to the bedroom.

So we brought the case upstairs and easily slipped in the other bookshelves. I l…

95. The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon by David Almond

The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon by David Almond. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 119 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: May 24, 2010
First Published: Apr. 13, 2010
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: children, magical realism
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Some time ago, there was a rather lonely boy named Paul who lived in a city in the north of England.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.

Reason for Reading: I have actually never read David Almond before and the title of this book grabbed me and gave me my chance to finally read him.

A whimsical story full of the unbelievable where a lonely boy who lives in a basement apartment, is rather shy, and does not like school but then school does not like him either takes a day off learns about living life to the fullest through a set of quirky characters and fantastical events.

One must set reality aside for this story. The people and events that Paul meets up with are beyond belief. The book is a joy to read; told with su…

94. Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo. Illustrated by Mike Lowery. Translated by Tara Chase (USA)- (Canada)
Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder, Book 1

Pages: 265 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: May 23, 2010
First Published: (2007 in Norway) English Translation Jan. 2010
Publisher: Aladdin
Genre: children, humour
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

It was May, and once the sun had shone for a while on Japan, Russia, and Sweden, it came up over Oslo - The very small capital city of a very small country called Norway.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Typically when I see a kids' book with words such as "fart" in the title I don't give them a second glance. However, this book is written by one of my favourite thriller authors and the simple fact that he had written a children's a book was enough to make me *have* to read the book, never mind what it was called or what it was about.

Surprisingly, though the book is about an invention of…

91 - 93. Barnes & The Brains Series ( Part One) by Kenneth Oppel

In 1994, three years before Kenneth Oppel wrote his award winning, best selling YA novel Silverwing which propelled him into international success, he began publishing an early chapter book series of mysteries called Barnes & The Brains. Harper Collins Canada has reissued the six book series this year with brand new 21st century covers redesigned by the original illustrator. The first three books are already out and the last three have just been released . The books are not available in the US at this time, as far as I can tell from searching online. Here I've reviewed the first three:

#91. A Bad Case of Ghosts by Kenneth Oppel. Illustrated by Victor Rivas Villa. 1994. 61 pages. Ages 7-10. - Giles Barnes moves to into an old fixer-upper house just at the beginning of the summer. He founds the house creepy and is not looking forward to going all summer with no friends. He hears all sorts of noises in his room at night, even what sounds like bird wings. Then one day, right…

90. mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

mockingbird (mok'ing-burd) by Kathryn Erskine (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 235 pages
Ages: 9+
Finished: May 23, 2010
First Published: Apr. 15, 2010
Publisher: Philomel
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

It looks like a one-winged bird crouching in the corner of our living room.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group (Canada).

Reason for Reading: I have Asperger's and when I saw a book that featured a female protagonist with Asperger's I was elated and HAD to read the book.

I came away from this book very satisfied. As a female with Asperger's I felt that Caitlin was portrayed realistically. There can be wide differences in how males and females present and I think the author managed to bring those out in Caitlin, though the intense plot does put Caitlin in a situation above and beyond normal everyday life.

A small town has been devastated. The local junior high was hit by two gun wielding students who managed to kill one teacher and two student…

Little Runner of the Longhouse by Betty Baker

Little Runner of the Longhouse by Betty Baker. Illustrated by Arnold Lobel (USA)- (Canada)
An I Can Read Book

Pages: 63 pages
Ages: 6-9
Finished: May 21, 2010
First Published: 1962
Publisher: Harper & Row
Genre: children, easy reader
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

It was cold in the longhouse.
Acquired: Bought and own a copy.

Reason for Reading: Ds read this aloud to me as his reader.

This easy reader starts off with introducing us to Little Runner's way of life in the Indian village, eventually leading up to telling us that today is New Years Day for them. The older children play a game involving masks and an old woman with a basket where they go from longhouse to longhouse asking for maple sugar. The alternative is, if a family does not give maple sugar each boy may take something from them. The indigenous game has some similarities to the traditional roots of modern day Hallowe'en. Of course, Little Runner wants to play, too, but Mother says he is still to little so he cooks u…

Monday: Books in the Mail

My stacks are saying thank you this week! Just two review books to add to help me get caught up and my bookshelf arrived on Friday! Wow that was fast! Now I'm not a hammer 'n' nails or even an alan wrench kinda gal so I've gotta sweet talk my hubby into putting it together for me. As we speak it is a holiday Monday (Happy Victoria Day!) here in Canada and I'm letting him sleep in so we'll see if I have pictures for you tomorrow.

From Penguin Group (Canada):

How far will one man go to save the people he loves most?Sam White is an out-of-work actor, making a living as a security guard in a shopping mall. He returns home one night to find his house blown up and two body bags being removed from it. He assumes the bodies are those of his wife and daughter, until he receives a call from a man saying they are alive, but will only be spared if Sam follows instructions and completes the increasingly violent tasks set out for him.When he meets Zack Parker, also a…

89. Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor

Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 432 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 23, 2010
First Published: Mar. 3, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Historical mystery, historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

Sometimes you frighten yourself.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Hyperion.

Reason for Reading: The book sounded perfect for me: a British historical mystery set in the thirties which the blurbs assured me was "beautifully crafted".

I have found myself a new favourite author! After reading this book, I want to get my hands on anything else by this man. This is a clever book, very intelligently crafted and written with a literary flair. His combination of mystery and history is absolutely superb.

There is so much story here and a mystery that morphs itself in so many directions it's nearly impossible to give a summery. The publisher's don't even bother to try with their brief blurb on the back of my trade pb edition. What can I tell you? …

OT - Ray Stevens & Illegal Immigrants

Ray Stevens is 71 years old and still singing his funny songs. This puts a few things into perspective.

88. Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium

Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium by Rona Arato (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 188 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: May 20, 2010
First Published: Apr. 13, 2010
Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: children, magical realism, historical fiction
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

Shoshi Kapustin clapped her hands over her ears to shut out the pitying voices.
Acquired: Received a review copy from LibraryThing's ER Program.

Reason for Reading: The combination of the time period (1898) and a dragon intrigued me. I read this aloud to my 9yo.

The Kapustins have immigrated to the USA because Papa has been gone for five years and has not answered any of their letters. Escaping the Cossacks and worried they arrive on Ellis Island, find the family restaurant and are told Papa left one day and didn't come back. The aunt and uncle running the place have turned it into a shambles. On their first night there, aunt and uncle steal their money leaving a note that they have taken it as payment for the restaurant…

87. Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Keeper by Kathi Appelt (USA)- (Canada)

Pages: 409 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: May 18, 2010
First Published: May 18, 2010
Publisher: Atheneum
Genre: children, magical realism
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

Keeper leaned over the edge of the boat.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon and Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Mermaids are another of my favourite mythological creatures to read about in novels. I actually had no idea the author was a newbery honor winner, although I have heard of her other book, I have not read it and didn't know who wrote it.

The book has a simple plot. Living on the Texan Coast in an isolated area close to a small town in three houses are Keeper and a young woman who is not her mother, an old man who has forgotten how old he is and a young man who runs a surfboard rental shop. These people are Keepers "family" and she loves them very much but one day Keeper has a bad day and everything she does goes wrong and she hurts each one of these people. Li…

86. Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down! by Mark Alan Stamaty

Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down!: How Elvis Shook up Music, Me and Mom by Mark Alan Stamaty (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 40 pages
Ages: 7+
Finished: May 17, 2010
First Published: Jan 12, 2010
Publisher: Alfred a, Knopf
Genre: children, graphic novel, non-fiction, biography, history,
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

The day I turned eight, in 1955, my parents game me a really cool birthday present.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: I entered a contest the author was running for a free copy because the book sounded so cool. I never heard back, knowing I'd not won, and honestly, forgot about the book when six months later I received a cool letter in the mail from the author with a postcard and an original drawing he'd made. I just had to read it after that!

This is truly an amazing book and story that kids and their parents will love and their grand-parents may love even more! I think it's integral to the enjoyment that the child be aware of…

85. The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill

The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill (Canada) - (USA)
A Simon Serrailler Crime, Book 5

Pages: 372 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 16, 2010
First Published: May 4, 2010 (Canada)/ Apr. 2010 (UK)/ Sept.2 (USA)
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Genre: British police procedural, mystery
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

Leslie Blade stopped in the overhang of the college entrance to put up his umbrella.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

I enjoy Susan Hill as a writer so much, even though I've only read three of her books so far! Fortunately she has an extensive backlist that will keep me busy for a long time. This latest Simon Serrailler novel continues on very much with the private lives of the Serrailler family, namely his sister and her children and his father and his new wife. They dynamics of Simon's private life takes up a good amount of space in these novels. The book also starts out by introducing all the characters and having them…

84. The Three Firecrackers by Eleanor Frances Lattimore

The Three Firecrackers by Eleanor Frances Lattimore (USA) Out of Print

Pages: 127 pages
Ages: 7-10
Finished: May 15, 2010
First Published: 1970
Publisher: William Morrow and Company
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

It seemed to Rosie Warren like a long time since she had seen her sister Viola.

Acquired: Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: Lattimore is one of my favourite childhood authors and there is not a lot about her or her books available on line. One of my long term goals is to review every book she wrote.

The Three Firecrackers is a contemporary story of eleven year old Rosie Warren who has excitedly been invited to come stay at her sister, Viola's, house and then help out looking after her three little boys for the few days Viola will be in the hospital having her fourth baby. The three boys range in age from two and a half to almost five and the parents have nick-named them the "firecrackers".

This is a cute stor…

Monday: Books in the Mail

It has been a super-duper, killer of a week for my mailbox. So many books. I wish I could figure out a way to read in my sleep or skip sleep altogether and just read! I have too many books this week to give pictures and summaries of all, so I'll just link you to a-zon so you can check out any that sound good and I certainly have some goodies I'm looking forward to this week.

From McArthur & Company

Captivity by Deborah Noyes
Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey

From Simon & Schuster Canada:

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 1 by Kiiro Yumi

From Harper Collins Canada:

Toy Story: The Return of Buzz LightYear by Jesse Blaze Snider
Essential Modern Classics: White Boots by Noel Streatfeild
Essential Modern Classics: Feather Boy by Nicky Singer
Essential Modern Classics: Street Child by Berlie Doherty
Essential Modern Classics: Spellhorn by Berlie Doherty
Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison
First Modern Classics: Dimanche Diller by Hanriett…

82. Gold Rush Fever: A Story of the Klondike, 1898

Gold Rush Fever: A Story of the Klondike, 1898 by Barbara Greenwood. Illustrated by Heather Collins (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 157 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: May 12, 2010
First Published: 2001
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Genre: children, non-fiction, historical fiction, Canadian history
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

Will you look at this old photo?

Acquired: Bought and own a copy.

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

As others from this series of like books from Greenwood and Collins an historical fiction tale is interspersed with non-fiction sections that expound upon information presented within the fictional story. While other books contained crafts in the non-fiction sections this book can't really be said to have crafts, there are a couple of experiments, a card game, a recipe and recommended reading instead.

Another difference is that rather than being about a family as in the Pioneer books and the Underground Railroad book, this book features in on two or…

A New Bookcase (Soon)

Isn't that bookcase gorgeous?! CSN Stores are going to let me review it!

I know exactly where I'm going to put it and all my review books which are currently in stacks on my bedroom floor are going to be gracing its shelves. Full details and photos when it arrives and I post my review.

Did you know CSN has over 200 different stores where you can buy everything from bookcases to recessed lighting. I've been having a blast looking at the toys and games, kitchen accessories and home decor items.

And what's even more important to me, as a Canadian, is that they ship to the US and Canada and are Canadian friendly. They're GST registered, so when you pay them, that's it, everything is taken care of! No nasty surprises at the door with the delivery guy wanting you to pay up before you can get your parcel.

From their website:

"Founded in 2002, CSN Stores LLC is a fast-growing, privately-held company offering customers the best online shopping available for home…

83. White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black (Canada) - (USA)
The Curse Workers, Book 1

Pages: 310 pages
Ages: 14+
Finished: May 14, 2010
First Published: May 4, 2010
Publisher: McElderry Books
Genre: YA, urban fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

I woke up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon and Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: I'm a fan of the author.

Set in an alternate reality almost identical to the Earth we live in with one small difference, some people are born with a special ability which is called a "curse". One must touch another's skin for the effects to take place. These "curse workers" are a minority of the population and their curses range from luck to changing emotions to causing death. In this world everyone wears gloves to keep everyone safe from "curses". No one knows who may be a "worker" but working itself has been deemed illegal.

In this world Cassell finds himself the only non-worker in a famil…

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by Nadja Spiegelman. Illustrated by Trade Loeffler (Canada) - (USA)
A Toon Book

Pages: 40 pages
Ages: 6+
Finished: May 13, 2010
First Published: Apr. 5, 2010
Publisher: Toon Books
Genre: graphic novel, children, easy reader
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Wikki, are you playing video games AGAIN?

Acquired: Received a review copy from RAW Junior, LLC.

Reason for Reading: My son read this aloud to me as his reader.

Zig is late handing in his assignment, a pet for the class zoo. While he and Wikki, an animate computer, are flying around the galaxy they find themselves near Earth where they drop by to see if they can find an animal for Zig's assignment.

This Toon Reader is slightly different than all the others to date. It is described on the website as being "science-based". How this happens is that every now and then when the two are confronted with an unknown element Wikki's screen will turn on and a large oval display will show up with an …

81. Meridian by Amber Kizer

Meridian by Amber Kizer (Canada) - (USA)
First in a series

Pages: 305 pages
Ages: 13+
Finished: May 12, 2010
First Published: Aug. 11, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA, fantasy, paranormal, romance
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

The first creatures to seek me were the insects; my parents cleaned the bassinet free of dead ants the morning after they brought me home from the hospital.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: I was attracted to the angel aspect of the story as I enjoy paranormals involving angels.

When Meridian turns sixteen her family has planned for her to be whisked away to live with "Auntie" for an undermined amount of time. It is here that she learns that she is only half-human, the other half is angel. In fact she is a Fenestra, a window to the 'other side' that the dead seek out, if she is near, to make their passing easier. Auntie is also a Fenestra and Meridian has been brought here to learn how to open and clo…

80. Die Hard: Year One, Vol. 1

Die Hard: Year One, Vol. 1 by Howard Chaykin. Art by Stephen Thompson (Canada) - (USA)
Die Hard series

Pages: 112 pages
Ages: 16+
Finished: May 9, 2010
First Published: Apr. 13, 2010
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Genre: graphic novel, crime fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

America's having a birthday ... and everybody's coming to the party ... the bicentennial celebration in New York City.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Reason for Reading: More Die Hard? A young John McClane? C'mon? How could I resist?

The time is 1976 and John McClane is a rookie cop starting out. He's been partnered with a Training Officer of the seasoned, fat and complaining variety so needless to say they do not get along but McClane quickly learns to keep his mouth shut and make backhanded remarks out of the side of his mouth. On the street a series of incidents all lead to McClane taking on a small terrorist group and cops gone bad.

I loved this! The story was a bit jerky and c…

79. Pearl of China by Anchee Min

Pearl of China by Anchee Min (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 278 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 9, 2010
First Published: Mar. 30, 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Before I was Willow, I was Weed.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group (Canada).

Reason for Reading: I am a huge fan of Pearl S. Buck, having read almost all of her books.

The book purports to be the fictionalized story of Pearl Buck's life in China told through the eyes of a lifetime Chinese friend. Pearl's mother went to the US to give birth to Pearl after losing several babies but soon came back to China with the babe in arms and Pearl was to remain there well into her thirties, except for brief periods away while she sought higher eduction in the US. She even married and came back a missionary herself. Willow, her fictional friend, tells the story of her own life and how it intermingled with Pearl's and through this the reader gets glimpses into the great writer…

Monday: Books in the Mail

Here I am back again! I didn't make a Monday post last week because ... well, let's just say when I came back after 3 weeks of being away I had way too many books to make a posting about. While there was a tonne, it was a healthy mix of novels and graphic novels to review, books I had won and even a couple of bookmooches. But I do now have quite a heavy stack of books towering on my bedside table, just after I'd got all got up with the current arcs, too. ;-)

On to this past week, a nice small load for the mailbox this week to help me get caught up:

From Boom! Studios:

Incorruptible by Mark Waid
This past December, BOOM! showed the world that Mark Waid is now... INCORRUPTIBLE — here’s your chance to get the first four issues of the hit series collected in just one volume! Super villain Max Damage had an epiphany the day The Plutonian destroyed Sky City. When The Plutonian turned his back on humanity, Max Damage decided to step up. Now Max Damage has changed his name to Max D…

DNF: Biomega Vol. 2

Biomega, Vol. 2 by Tsutomu Nihei (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 216 pages
Age: 18+
First Published: May 11, 2010
Publisher: VIZ Media
Genre: manga
Rating: DNF

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

This book does not have page numbers but I managed to read 3/7 chapters. I was wary going in as I had problems with Vol. 1 but the story was intriguing enough for me to give Vol. 2 a try. Surprisingly enough, I had different problems this time around. After writing my review on Volume one I was contacted by fans of the author and told that he is well-known for his stark, wordless mangas with minimal text, and from that I knew I was probably reading the wrong guy as I like words. So when I started to read Vol. 2 I was surprised at the amount of text. Not as much as normal but way more than in Vol. 1 and this was a level of text and art I could get along with. My problem this time was I got completely lost with the story. I have a very bare bones idea as to the story line b…

78. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (Canada) - (USA)
The Buckshaw Chronicles, #2

Pages: 348 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 7, 2010
First Published: Match 9, 2010
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

I was lying dead in the churchyard.

Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Flavia's second case follows the traditional set up of the golden-age of classic British mysteries. A travelling puppet show comes to town, but not just anyone; this is Ruper Porson famous for his television puppet show. He agrees to put a show on for the village. At this point the reader is completely immersed in the story, introduced to all the characters, in the village, and the newcomers, along with bits and pieces of backstories but never enough to let us know who is going to commit a murder. And a murder there will be, just like the classic Agatha Christie we know this is all building up to the right momen…