Wednesday, August 31, 2011

190. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 4

The 88 Demons of Shikoku by Hiroshi Shiibashi (Canada) - (US)
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 4

Pages: 203
Finished: Aug. 26, 2011
First Published:  Aug 2, 2011
Publisher: viz media
Genre: YA, manga, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

On a certain mountain in Kagawa Prefecture.

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

Reason for Reading: next in the series

Once again Nura's turf is being challenged.  This time seven mysterious travellers arrive to take over Riku's new position and the whole Nura clan.  They infiltrate Riku's school and plan to take him down without a care to any human casualties.  Riku will have to call upon his entire Yokai Clan to fight this battle.

While the majority of this volume is dedicated to the one plot, there is a side story which introduces us to another type of being that also makes up a yokai clan.  There are the yokai themselves but there are also tochigami's which are creatures that inhabit shrines, the more often a shrine is worshipped/prayed to, the more powerful the tochigami.  This volume also introduces the most horrific yokai we've seen to date, truly a demon who requires all of Riku's powers to battle.  Riku's school friends turn up briefly, playing small parts so we don't forget about them, but they are not integral to this volume.  Volume 5 certainly is enticing with a title of "A Yokai with Wings Darker Than Night"!  This series' every third month release schedule keeps the story fresh in one's mind, but the short "Story So Far" that starts each volume helps to refresh the memory. A good read with a dedicated plot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

189. Tegami Bachi, Volume 6

The Lighthouse in the Wasteland by Hiroyuki Asada (Canada) - (US)
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Volume 7

Pages: 124
Ages: 12+
Finished: Aug. 25, 2011
First Published: Aug. 2, 2011
Publisher: viz media
Genre: graphic novel, YA, fantasy, science fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:
No luck with your letter?
Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: next in the series

Lag is in the process of writing a letter bullet which will hopefully connect his heart to Gauche and help him recover his own heart which he has lost.  We get  flashbacks to see exactly what happened to Gauche that made him lose not only his memories but his heart and become Noir the Marauder.  In the meantime Lag goes about some of us his regular letter bee duties where he learns more about how hearts can be connected to  each other and especially helps Sylvette to help someone make right something she was unable to do in her own past.  Lag meets up with the legendary Jiggy Pepper on his travels and the book ends with a bit of a shocker making the next book an eager read.  I'm liking the 3 mos publishing schedule for this series, just enough to keep you anxious for the next book but short enough that you don't forget what was going on.  Another great entry in the series.

Monday, August 29, 2011

188. The War of the Worlds Graphic Novel

H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds by Ryan Foley. Illustrated by Bhupendra Ahluwalia. (Canada) - (US)
Campfire Classics

Pages: 71
Ages: 10+
Finished: Aug. 24, 2011
First Published: Jul. 5, 2011
Publisher: Campfire Graphic Novels
Genre: Children, graphic novel, classic, science fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:
No one would have believed that his world was being watched keenly and closely, by intelligences greater than man's in the last years of the nineteenth century.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Steerforth Books.

Reason for Reading:  I enjoy graphic adaptations of the classics. 

It's been a few decades since I've read this original book and about time for a reread and this graphic adaptation makes me want to revisit the original.  As all Campfire Classics the book is set up in the same format with a brief bio of the original author, then a main charachters page, followed by the book and ending with a two page spread with further info on the topic and time period of the books content./when it was written.  I enjoyed the graphics, they were up to par with Campfire's usual realistic historical era drawings.  I appreciated how the illustrations showed many pictures of the Martians but never really gave a clear detailed close-up, leaving something to the imagination at all times.  They were often in the background or surrounded by mist or debris.  When up close they were in shadows, surrounded by laser beams, debris, etc.  An unusual device.  The story as far as I can remember back to the original and given Campfire's previous record, seems to have stayed close to the original.  One of Wells' better books and still relevant today, though we would have to change the planet Mars to another to make the story more viable.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

187. Space Race Graphic Novel

Space Race by C.E.L. Welsh. Illustrated by K.L. Jones (Canada) - (US)
Campfire Originals

Pages: 67
Ages: 9+
Finished: Aug. 22, 2011
First Published: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Campfire Graphic Novels
Genre: children, graphic novel, science fiction/fact, non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Many years in the future.

Acquired:  Received a review copy from Steelforth Press.

Reason for Reading:  Ds is finishing up his study of the 20th century with a space exploration unit and I pre-read this to see if it would be more satisfying the the previous "Space Race" book we had read, and it was.

A unique combination of science fiction and fact.  We are presented with the factual story of the US/USSR Space Race from the early days of simply sending a satellite into orbit, to sending animals into space, then men and so forth until the ultimate landing of men on the moon is reached.  This non-fiction story is framed within a science fiction story which takes place "many years in the future" as a grandfather takes his son fishing and relates the history to him, but it is all aiming for a surprise ending which is a thrilling, thought-pondering finale.

I really enjoyed this book which told the history of the space race in great detail; though of course with the limited medium and page numbers managed to hit all the major and many minor lesser known facts, providing a very entertaining version of the facts as they are known today.  The science fiction story adds some extra adventure to a factual book and straight from the beginning we know there is going to be some sort of reveal given at the end and it is exciting waiting to see what it will be.  I found it to be quite entertaining.  The illustrations were fine in and of themselves and I had no problem with them, but some famous personages were represented, fortunately scientists and such I had no idea what they really looked like but a phone conversation between Khrushchev and Kennedy has made no attempt whatsoever to depict Kennedy's likeness.  Khrushchev on the other hand bears a very slight resemblance, at least he's bald.  But that's a nit-picky fault with an otherwise fine factual book on the topic with a fun fictional twist.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

186. Sita: Daughter of the Earth Graphic Novel

Sita: Daughter of the Earth by Saraswati Nagpal. Illustrated by Manikandan (Canada) - (US)
Campfire Mythology

Pages: 95
Ages: 10+
Finished: Aug. 21, 2011
First Published: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Campfire Graphic Novels
Genre: children, adventure, Hindu myth, India
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:
Thousands of years ago, in the time cycle called Treta Yuga, gods and demons walked the earth alongside mortals.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Steerforth Press.

Reason for Reading: I love mythology and I love graphic novels.  Hindu mythology is new to me.

This is a graphic retelling of the "Ramayana", which from my best research I gather is an epic poetic text that is vital to Hinduism.  Thus being epic, it is very detailed and a complicated story involving all sorts of adventures and crises, telling the story of the life of Rama, part god, part human and heir of the kingdom and that of his wife Sita, adopted daughter of a king but real daughter of a goddess.  The story involves all the classic elements of mythology.  Gods interfering with mortal life, a quest, a promise to keep, heroes fighting demons but most of all this myth is a romance, a love story above all else.  This is also unique in that it is probably one of the most early feminist stories, where a woman gives her undying gratitude to the man she loves and who loves her back but as she realizes only second to his kingdom and she finally decides that is just not good enough, when only one of them is willing to give their life for the other.

I really enjoyed the tale.  It is a great example of human virtues and gives an example of a character who manages to reach perfection in each virtue.  Thus giving the religion's followers both people and ideals to live up to in real life.  As Hindu mythology is new to me I did find it a bit confusing at first, figuring out who was battling who, and of course the strange, hard to pronounce names were unfamiliar to a first timer.  I believe there is a final moral to the tale and that would be for men to trust and respect their wives or they may no longer have them around to distrust anymore.  On the other hand, the myth is certainly a romance, something not found much in the type of mythology I myself am attracted to the most.  A decent, unique read, especially for those fans of fantasy romance.

Friday, August 26, 2011

185. Bone Beds of the Badlands by Shane Peacock

Bone Beds of the Badlands by Shane Peacock (Canada) - (US) (Out Of Print)
A Dylan Maples Adventure, #3

Pages: 195
Ages: 9+
Finished: Aug. 19, 2011
First Published: 2001
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Genre: children, mystery, adventure
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:
Early June, Calgary, Alberta, under a blistering urban sun.
Acquired: Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: next in the series

I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series and book three brings forth the best of the series by far.   Peacock has written a true thriller that will keep kids on the edge of their seats.  Certainly much more scarier than the previous two and as a reader I can see a bit of the author's talent for the gripping "Boy Sherlock Holmes" series starting to shine through in this book.  Once again Peacock totally changes the scenery and cast of characters to bring a fresh new story for Dylan making sure this series never suffers from "series sameness".  Dylan and three friends (all on the same hockey team) have won a trip to Drumheller, Alberta due to winning a science fair.  Accompanied by their science teacher and his wife, upon their arrival news reaches them that one of Canada's most dangerous criminals has just escaped from an Alberta prison and is probably heading the same way they are going.  Now Peacock never used the words "serial killer" to describe this killer but it is implied through the various words and phrases used to describe the escapee and his crimes. 

Of course, it is predictable that the kids will get separated from the adults, meet up with said criminal, have there lives threatened and have a slight hand in apprehending the man who looks as scary as he sounds.  But it is a riveting ride through unique territory as the group explore the badlands of Alberta.  Once they arrive at the Royal Tyrell Museum they are met up with another group of same-aged local students and a girl, Dorothy, is added to their group as the voice of local guide.  Of course, Dylan, though never having romances, seems to be a girl-magnet and the two become close friends and they become the main characters, together propelling the plot along.  A great story any mystery loving juvenile or pre-teen is going to love!

I'm highly recommending this series especially for its geographic introduction to different areas of Canada.  This time though, I was particularly biased, as I lived in Calgary at the time the book was written and had been to Drumheller and visited all the sites mentioned.  Peacock did a fabulous job of describing the ever changing land of Alberta and the strange world of the Hoodoos.  When one rounds the curve on the highway and is suddenly faced with Horseshoe Canyon, Peacock's use of the word of feeling like one has arrived on "Mars" is brilliant!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

184. Defiance by Carla Jablonski

Defiance by Carla Jablonski. Art by Leland Purvis (Canada) - (US)
Resistance Trilogy, Book 2

Pages: 124
Ages: 12+
Finished: Aug. 17, 2011
First Published: Jul. 19, 2011
Publisher: First Second Books
Genre: graphic novel, YA, historical fiction, WWII, France
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Paul!  Have any ration tickets to trade?

Acquired: Received a review copy from First Second Books.

Reason for Reading:  next in the series

 Continuing on from the second book, Paul and his older sister continue to work for the Resistance unbeknownst to their mother who has given up her part in the shady dealings to keep her family safe.  The eldest girl's boyfriend is deeply involved with the movement causing her to wonder whether he really likes her or is just using her to get information from the Germans.  Paul is working independently putting irreverent drawings around town of the Germans which are starting to cause a fuss.  At this time in the history of the occupation we learn of the French police force started and run by the Germans called the Milice.  A German military police force manned by French residents, obviously not a popular group with the locals.  Throughout the plot we also learn of the Maquis, resistance groups hiding out in the forests planning for the moment when they can attack back.  We learn of Philippe Petain, the leader of the new French State which worked in cooperation with the Nazis and we see the benefits that women were able to garner for themselves and their families if they fraternized with the Germans.  Sometimes this was often a very hard decision to make when children were involved.  The book ends with the family members not in accord with each other but with a ray of hope for the future as they celebrate a birthday and letter received from Papa.  A grand sequel to the first book.  I'm very much looking forward to where the final book will take us as I am expecting something tragic to happen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

183. Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory by George O'Connor

Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory by George O'Connor. (Canada) - (US)
The Olympians, Vol. 3

Pages: 77
Ages: 12+
Finished: Aug. 16, 2011
First Published: Jul. 19, 2011
Publisher: First Second Books
Genre: Children, graphic novel, Greek mythology
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

In all the cosmos, there is only one being that Zeus, the King of the gods, is afraid of ...

Acquired: Received a review copy from First Second Books.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

This much awaited 3rd volume in The Olympians series was quickly read up.  I'm quite familiar with the contents of this one and enjoyed the author's presentation of events.  There are many stories and versions the author had his pick of which way he could go with these characters and he's chosen an age appropriate story and one which connects Hera and Heracles together perfectly.  While the book does tell the story of Hera, there does come a point went it becomes the story of Heracles (ie. Hercules) whose name "Heracles" means "Glory of Hera".  The book has mild violence, mythological creatures are killed but it never enters into the truly gruesome or s*xual nature of the original myths, keeping the material age appropriate.  Hera and Heracles both have stubborn natures and as the book progresses one can tell they are more alike than they would freely agree.  Hera's main story is told here but Heracles doesn't leave much more left to tell so I won't be surprised if he doesn't get his own book.  But I do expect that Hera will keep popping up in future volumes to throw her curses or sympathies around and now we understand why she's been given such a bad rap all these years.  It's all your fault, you philandering, Zeus!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Charlotte's Web: Wilbur's Prize by Jennifer Frantz

Charlotte's Web: Wilbur's Prize by Jennifer Frantz. Illustrated by Aleksey & Olga Ivanov. (Canada) - (US)
I Can Read Book, Level 2

Pages: 32
Ages: 6+
Finished: Aug. 15, 2011
First Published: 2006
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: children, easy reader, based on a movie
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

It was the first day of the County Fair!

Acquired: Purchased a used copy from a thrift store.

Reason for Reading:ds read aloud as his reader.

This easy reader is based on the more recent live action movie, rather than the book, there fore there are a few dissimilarities between it's events and those of the original book.  This easy reader covers the time period between when the Zuckerman's pack everything up for the County Fair and Wilbur, Templeton & Charlotte arrive.  Wilbur find's he has competition in Uncle next door and Charlotte spins the word "HUMBLE" for Wilbur.  Wilbur is not really concerned with winning at this point as he is happy he has such good friends.

The illustrations are very nice trying to capture the essence of the movie characters rather than duplicate the original illustrations.  The book was not an easy read for ds.  He did manage to read it in one reading period though, 20 minutes with 3 mins. to spare.  We watched the animated version of the movie after reading the original book and once told about the live version movie ds had no interest in seeing it, so we won't be going there any time in the future. Cute easy reader for fans of Charlotte's web, movie or book.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

182. Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace by Eric Wight

Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace by Eric Wight (Canada) - (US)
Frankie Pickle, #3

Pages: 90
Ages: 7+
Finished: Aug. 15, 2011
First Published: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Genre: children, adventure, humour, text/graphic hybrid
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Frankie stared at the first question on his math quiz, and wrote down the number 23.

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

Reason for Reading:  next in the series.

I'll be frank.  I'm usually not fond of stories about math.  They start out with some kid either hating or having a hard time with math and then they are shown how math is used in the real world and just how relevant it is in everyday life.  Usually something especially fun the kid enjoys is used to entice him/her and in the end the kid either likes math, is good at math or thinks it *is* fun.  Well, Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace is no exception when it comes to plot, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story this time.

First of all, Frankie is already our friend from the previous two books and I was excited to read his latest adventure.  Frankie's imagination takes over and the graphic sequences are hilarious as he turns everyday events into grand excitement.  I must admit Frankie's friend, sister and parents were all very creative in the way they applied math to Frankie's life and they all turned into humorous scenarios which made for a very funny story.  There is no getting past the teaching aspect of the story but it is all done with brilliant humour and a witty attitude.  I loved the illustration of Frankie imagining being stuck in the same grade forever and his baby sister catching up with him.  She's turned into a hip little girl "Thanks for driving me to school today, bro." and Frankie is a goatee-ed teenager squished into the elementary desk with a look of desperation on his face.  A fun book.  Looking forward to the next installment due out in Mar. 2012.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

181. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier (Canada) - (US)

Ages: 9+
Finished: Aug. 14, 2011
First Published: Aug. 1, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Genre: children, fantasy, steampunk
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Canada.

Reason for Reading: The plot sounded wonderful and the author is Canadian!

Peter Nimble doesn't really have a name but this is what he's called in the thieving world of a perhaps Victorian-like English town.  He's made his own way in the world since discovered floating in a basket with his eyes pecked out by a raven.  Now under the control of a wicked master who keeps him locked up and makes him thieve for his food Peter ventures upon a couple of strange men, Professor Cake and Mr. Pound who give him the adventure of his life.  Along with a case which includes three sets of fantastic eyes, with unknown magical powers, and a partner Sir Tode, an unfortunate knight who was cursed by an old hag, he is sent to a Vanished Island with a mysterious riddle to help right the wrongs done there.

A wonderful story that quickly grabs your attention with delightful characters one becomes fond of right away.  The outcome is predictable in a way but the getting there is a whole lot of fun filled with lots of adventure and action.  The story is quite violent during the battle scenes, combatants on both sides are killed and the method is described in often uncomfortable detail, so the book is not for the sensitive or squeamish.  But those who like "gross" will have a rollicking good time.  A very unique story, unlike anything else out there right now, that combines magic with swashbuckling action with clockwork steampunk.

I only have one issue, being that the narrative crosses the line and talks to the reader as if someone were telling us a story.  This is always a tricky thing in children's books and here the author has used the device sparingly but because of that, it felt jarring to me when every now and then the book would suddenly speak to me as I had nearly forgotten the device was in use.  One final thing that I am very happy with is that the book ends on a final note, even mentioning how things turned out in the future for the characters that, I think, we can be sure that this is a stand-alone novel.  I'm glad to read a new author who has presented us with a full story in one book and not attempted the tired routine of beginning yet another series.  Good book!  I look forward to author's next work.

Friday, August 19, 2011

180. Everything Is Grace: The Life and Way of Therese of Lisieux

Everything Is Grace: The Life and Way of Therese of Lisieux by Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC. Forward by Most Rev. Patrick V. Ahern. (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 330 + bib.&index
Ages: 18+
Finished: Aug. 13, 2011
First Published: 2007
Publisher: The Word Among Us Press
Genre: Catholic, non-fiction, biography, Saints, theology
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

The spirituality that St. Therese of Lisieux lived and taught is nothing other than the very heart of the gospel made convincing and accessible to modern people.

Acquired: Purchased a new copy through an online retailer.

Reason for Reading: After having read Story of a Soul, my priest (who is a Carmelite) recommended I read a book *about* her next to get a deeper understanding of Therese within the framework of her times.

This book is a biography of St. Therese's life starting with the background of her parents and how they met and married and ending with an Epilogue which tells us what happened to her other biological sisters and when they died.  But the core of the book is not really to tell Therese's life story but to tell her spiritual story.  How she was blessed by the Spirit at such an early age, 3, and from then how her spirituality grew.  It describes her inner turmoils as she realizes certain faults within herself and sets to correct them each as they appear to her as such, as early on, she struggled with self recognition.  Therese grew up in a time when the world focused much on the wrath off God and a God who punished those who strayed from the path.  Therese herself could not find this God in the Gospel and she truly followed the words of Jesus and though very difficult for herself, put them into action in everything she tried to do.  Therese realized that she, herself, was only one small person, one who would not do grand things but she also believed this was how God had created her, and many others as well.  It was from this that her "Little Way" of living life according to the Gospel came about.

This book is a slow read.  It is a font of information on Therese, the Carmelites (at that time), the practice of the Faith in that era, etc.  It is also a fantastic insight into how Therese's teachings actually impacted the Church and how we can practice the faith of love according to Jesus now.  One impact Therese had was that in her time Communion was not a regular occurrence, she saw how Jesus had intended this grace to be available to us much more frequently and she wrote much about wanting to receive daily Communion.  The book backs up everything with many, many quotes from various source materials: all of Therese's writings including Story of a Soul, her letters, poems and plays.  Along with her own written material included is quotes from published memoirs of her sisters and others who had known her in her lifetime and other authoritative books about her, her teachings and her relationships.  A very full, complete book.  One thing I particularly liked is that the book starts with a Part One which in approximately 50 pages attempts to sum up the teachings of St. Therese, why they should be followed, how they are a wonderful way to live life according to the Gospels and how she became canonized and eventually made a doctor of the church.

This book is perfect for anyone who want to know more about St. Therese herself and her "Little Way".  It will also be helpful to those who have read Story of a Soul and come away thinking it is very simplistic.  Therese had a wiseness way beyond her years and yet expressed herself as any innocent young 20-odd year old would and this book looks deep inside her simple words.  A wonderfully spiritually satisfying read.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

179. Bob and Shirley: A Tale of Two Lobsters by Harriet Ziefert

Bob and Shirley: A Tale of Two Lobsters by Harriet Ziefert. Pictures by Mavis Smith. (Canada) - (US) Out of Print

Pages: 32
Ages: 7+
Finished: Aug. 12, 2011
First Published: 1991
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: children, easy reader, true story, science
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Bob and Shirley were lobster friends.

Acquired: Purchased a used copy at a garage/book sale or thrift shop.

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

This is a cute book we've had for quite some time.  I read it aloud to ds a few times when he was much younger and to older brother way back closer to the time when the book was originally published.  Finally it went into the pile of readers.  Based on a true story, this tells of how two lobsters from Maine, where laws protect lobsters over 25 pounds, were caught in a net and taken to Rhode Island.  Their travels took them through several states until they ended up in a Philadelphia window display.  When it was realized that the lobsters were from Maine and word got out people took peaceful action to save the lobsters from the dinner table and have them sent back to their home in Maine waters.  An interesting true-life story.  Sympathy lies with the lobsters, of course, but the point of view is fair and the fishermen and fishseller are never made out to be bad guys.  A fun story, too bad it is out of print, but worth while picking up at a reasonable used price, especially for animal lovers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

178. Bone #6: Old Man's Cave by Jeff Smith

Old Man's Cave by Jeff Smith (Canada) - (US)
Bone, Vol. 6

Pages: 118
Ages: 9+
Finished: Aug. 11, 2011
First Published: 1997 (2007 colourized edition)
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: graphic novel, children, fantasy, humour
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

URNF! Can ya see anything, Fone Bone?

Acquired: Purchased a new copy from an online retailer.

Reason for Reading: next in the series

We are right in the middle of all the action with this volume.  The battle has started and everyone steps up to the plate and shows their mettle.  Fone and Smiley are still lost in the woods from the previous book until they meet up with Thorn and continue the journey with her.  Gran'ma Ben has called everyone together at Old Man's Cave where they can put up a united stand against the rat creatures under the leadership of the Hooded One, whose identity we learn in this book.  Once again all the characters from the previous volumes are together again, some only making cameo appearances but it is a pleasure to see everyone as the heat turns up, secrets are revealed and a battle, but not the war, is won.  We are left with an uneasy something-may-be-very-wrong ending which makes me need to go buy the rest of the books.  But again I'll be taking a little break from reading so I can make the series last.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

177: Marvin Redpost: Kidnapped at Birth? by Louis Sachar

Marvin Redpost: Kidnapped at Birth? by Louis Sachar. Illustrated by Neal Hughes.(Canada) - (US)
Marvin Redpost, Book 1

Pages: 68
Ages: 6+
Finished: Aug. 9, 2011
First Published: 1992
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Children, easy reader chapter book, humour
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:
The End.
Acquired: Purchased a used copy from a book/garage sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: Son read aloud to me as his reader.  This was his very first proper chapter book with one b/w drawing per chapter.

At a reading level of 1.9, this was a very good choice for my son's first chapter book.  He did very well with the reading and was not intimidated with the full pages of text or infrequent b/w drawings.  I have never read a Marvin Redpost book before and thought it was a fun story of a boy who reads in the paper that a King is coming to town searching for his lost son who was kidnapped at birth.  Marvin just happens to match all the physical descriptions and since he's the only redhead in his family he thinks he may just be the missing Prince of Shampoon, so he goes through the procedures to find out if he is indeed really a Prince.  A funny story.  Ds did very well reading it, though he still needs sufficient help that he could not read a book like this on his own.  Ds says he did not like the book at all, but he may be just in one of his moods as he didn't complain while reading it and certainly seemed to be enjoying the story as he read.  But anyway, he's said he does not want to read anymore Marvin Redpost books.  I would, if I had someone else to read them too. LOL.  Maybe one day I'll set out to read all Louis Sachar's books, I've hardly read anything by him.

Monday, August 15, 2011

176. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.  (Canada) - (US)
Inspector Harry Hole, #8

Pages: 613
Ages: 18+
Finished: Aug. 10, 2011
First Published: 2011 Norway (English edition, Mar. 22, 2011) (US: Dec. 13, 2011)
Publisher: Random House Canada
Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

She awoke.

Acquired:  Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

Harry Hole is in a personal mess after his last case and has hidden himself away in Hong Kong, but Norway seems to have a new serial killer in their midst and they are stumped.  FBI trained serial killer expert Harry Hole must be tracked down and persuaded to come home and a detective is sent to find and bring him back.  Hole does come back but only because his father is ill.  Not really wanting to get back into the police business he can't help himself when he finally reads the cases of the two women who have been killed by an ancient torture device called a Leopold's Apple.  And when he arrives on the scene of the third victim's horrendous torturous death he is hooked on finding the killer.

This is a riveting and unique crime thriller.  The crime itself was unusual and a tough one to guess before the final reveal.  Several twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat and the murders are quite gruesome while Jo Nesbo keeps his writing to a level where he describes just enough that your imagination takes over the rest.  I really enjoyed crime, as usual, I know I can count on Jo Nesbo for a great thriller.  I'm a bit annoyed with the Stieg Larsson comparison brazenly stamped on the cover though.  Nesbo doesn't need that kind of lip service.  He is an established author in his own right, something that unfortunately Larsson will never be able to become having only written 3 books.  The comparison should be the other way around.

I did have problems with the book though.  First, it is too long.  At just over 600 pgs, in this format, probably coming in at close to 500 in a smaller print, it just takes too much time to tell the story.  There were parts where it lagged, that felt like filler, that were devoted to character development and main character story issues that just weren't all that interesting.  I'm not very pleased with the direction Harry's personal story has gone and I just wanted the book to get back to the crime.  Also, I never did figure out why the book is called "The Leopard".  I know the old saying about a leopard never changing it's spots; perhaps that refers to Harry? I don't know.  But looking at the Norwegian title "panserhjerte" which translates to "Armoured Heart" in English makes perfect sense as that phrase is found in the story. Also this book mentions the first book in the series quite a bit, and that one has not been translated into English yet which I find just plain weird.  Now that they are caught up with Nesbo's writing, I wish they'd go back and translate those first two books.  A good story, as can always be counted on with Nesbo, but not my favourite.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

175. Bone #5: Rock Jaw by Jeff Smith

Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith (Canada) - (US)
Bone, Volume 5

Pages: 116
Ages: 9+
Finished: Aug. 8, 2011
First Published: 1997 (colourized edition 2007)
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: children, graphic novel, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Look! There! Do you see it?

Acquired: Purchased a new copy via an online retailer.

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

Time for a change of pace as this book focuses on Fone Bone and Smiley Bone as they go up into the mountains to release the baby rat creature cub that they found in the previous volume. Smiley has become attached to him and named him Bartelby. They meet lots of new & a few old characters and the two stupid rat creatures continue to try and catch them, Roque Ja takes them hostage and the young possums find their trail once again meeting up with a whole group of orphaned animals. Fone and Smiley meet up with every possible bad guy to date on this mini side-expedition bringing lots of excitement and the usual humour. Fone and Smiley are definitely my favourite two characters though I did miss the red dragon's usual cameo.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

174. Bone 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith

The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith (Canada) - (US)
Bone, Vol. 4

Pages: 168
Ages: 9+
Finished: Aug. 7, 2011
First Published: 1997 (2006 colourized edition)
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, children, humour
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

"Okay, Mister! Here's your soup an' ale."

Acquired: Purchased a new copy through an online retailer.

Reason for Reading:  next in the series.

This volume was fabulous!  Maybe part of my sheer enjoyment was due to the little break I took between books 1-3 and this one. (I'm trying not to rush through them "too" fast) But while the break may have refreshed my zeal for these characters, this was still a top-notch story.  Things turn quite dark in this volume as we finally meet the bad guy and see him surrounded by his minions.  He wears a costume that hides his actual identity and it makes me wonder whether if and when his hood is lifted we might see a familiar face in the end.  Great story with some multiple plot lines going on; first and foremost the Lord of the Locusts is gathering the rat creatures to help him take over the valley, Thorn learns her true identity and fights a battle with King Dok, and as usual Phoney Bone is up to his usual scams this time scaring the villagers into believing that they are under eminent attack by dragons and he, a true dragonslayer, is the only one who can help them. The red dragon makes his usual appearance and steals the scene.  I love that guy.  I kind of imagine  him being voiced by Kelsey Grammer if there were an animated version. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

173. Mother Teresa: In My Own Words

Mother Teresa: In My Own Words by Mother Teresa. Compiled by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado. (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 109
Ages: All Ages
Finished: Aug. 1, 2011
First Published: 1997
Publisher: Gramercy Books
Genre: Catholic, inspirational, quotes, Christian, nuns, missions
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things.

Acquired: A wonderful lady at church, who admires Mother Teresa greatly, passed the book on to me.  Thank you, Frances!

Reason for Reading:  for inspiration.

A collection of mostly quotes, with some short stories, anecdotes and prayers that Mother Teresa has been recorded saying throughout her life either to the poor themselves, or the media.  These are awesomely uplifting, wise and true words of wisdom.  If everyone could only take Mother's words to heart and live them spiritually, world poverty would simply cease to exist.  The book begins with a short biography and introduction to this selfless woman who won the Nobel Peace Price in 1979 (back when it meant something).  This intro. can be presumed to be written by the compiler Balado, as no credit is otherwise given anywhere.  The book then is divided into chapters based on theme such as: Holiness, Prayer, Christ in the Poor, Mary, Virtues, Suffering, Smiles, Loneliness and Her Mission among many others.

One could quickly gobble up the book in an afternoon but I choose to make it a slow read and ponder Mother Teresa's words.  Every evening I would read a two page spread from the book and have the rest of the day to think about any of the thoughts, or ideas that inspired me, and believe me there were many.  I often found myself leaving a particularly hard hitting or soul grabbing quote (to me) as my Facebook status and I've dog-eared all the pages with those special words so that in the future I can go back to the book and go straight to those pages.  This is a book that will be picked up and laid down many times.  A good book to put somewhere accessible to guests in your home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

172. The Long Walk by Richard Bachman

The Long Walk by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman (Canada) - (US)
Pages: 189
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jul. 30, 2011
First Published: 1979
Publisher: Signet
Genre: science fiction, dystopian
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

An old blue Ford pulled into the guarded parking lot that morning, looking like a small, tired dog after a hard run.

Acquired: Purchased a used copy from a book/garage sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading:  I'm in the process of of re/reading all of Stephen King's works in chronological order.  This was the next book in line.

I originally read "The Long Walk" when King released his omnibus of "The Bachman Books" in 1985.  Of the four novels "The Long Walk" and "The Running Man" were my favourites and I was looking forward to this re-read.  Initially, the book struck a chord with me because even back in the eighties I could imagine a world where game shows had turned to life or death.  Of course, now, in the 21st century, with reality shows that embarrass, degrade, hurt and sometimes seriously injure participants physically and/or emotionally; the life and death scenario is not so hard to imagine in today's death culture and in fact has already been done with the mock abortion reality show "Bump".

In "The Long Walk" we are in a future America, which has a dictator and a military presence, we know only that some event happened in the past for things to turn out this way.  Boys from the age of 14 to 17 are allowed to enter the annual Long Walk, from which 100 contestants are chosen.  The event is a national spectacle and parts of it are aired on TV and millions of dollars are exchanged in bets on who will be the winner.  The book focuses on the race from one participant's point of view and we experience the physical, emotional and mental hardships and breakdowns that these boys suffer.  Penalty for slipping below 4 miles per hour during the walk results in a warning every thirty seconds, after the 3rd warning, their is a 30 second countdown and the loser is shot dead and carried away.  The game ends when one contestant remains alive.  I really appreciated the psychological insight into the Walkers as a whole group and as individuals; the dynamics as they broke down into small groups, pairs and loners; and the examination of the varying effects that the psychological and physical torture had on different individuals.  Probably my favourite of all the Bachman books, but I'll have to reread them all before I make a definite decision.  A reread that lived up to my expectations. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

171. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Pictures by Garth Williams. Watercolor artwork by Rosemary Wells. (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 184
Ages: 8+
Finished: Jul. 29, 2011
First Published: 1952 (this colourized edition 1999)
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

Acquired: Purchased a copy through an online retailer.

Reason for Reading:   Read aloud to ds.

I'll keep this one short.  There must be thousand's of reviews already of this modern classic.  The edition that I have is the hardcover reprint with the gently colourized original illustration by Rosemary Wells, a beautiful book and a keeper for my personal library.  This was my first re-read since my original reading as a child and it struck me again as being a wonderful book so full of feeling, even though I'd seen the cartoon movie year after year as a child.  I was surprised that Fern wasn't really that big a part of the story as I had expected her to be and Templeton was all Paul Lynde to me.  I heard his voice every time he spoke!

This was my son's first exposure to Charlotte's Web.  I've kept him away from the new version of the movie purposely until we'd read the book and the animated version just doesn't show up on TV like it used to.  I wouldn't say say he absolutely loved it.  He didn't cry are feel bad at the end, at all.  It was very much "c'est la vie" for him.  But he did laugh at all the funny parts and enjoyed Wilbur as a character the most.  Oh, and the geese, he loved their double talk!  So he enjoyed the book and we've got a hold on the animated movie version at the library to watch and will watch the newer real life version if he's interested afterwards for comparison. (I personally do not like talking animal movies).  For myself it was a great enjoyment to re-acquaint myself with the original book and remember why E.B. White was such a beloved children's author.  Why did he have to leave us with only three children's books, though??  That is the sad part.  The Trumpet of the Swan is still my favourite of the three.

Monday, August 8, 2011

169. Spacebusters: The Race to the Moon

Spacebusters: The Race to the Moon by Philip Wilkinson. (Canada) - (US)
DK Readers

Pages: 48
Ages: 8+
Finished: Jul. 28, 2011
First Published: 1998 (new edition Jan. 2012)
Publisher: DK Publishing Inc.
Genre: easy reader, astronomy, space race
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Three, two, one - blastoff!

Acquired:  Borrowed a copy through Inter Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to ds as part of our history curriculum.

This is the first time I've read a non-fiction book about space/astronauts to ds.  He's looked at space books before and shown no over enthusiasm towards the topic.  But he was absolutely riveted with this book!  He listened intently to every word I read.  I think he's really going to enjoy the rest of our little space unit.  This book focuses only on the US side of the space race thus including those words in the title is a misnomer as the book is only about the US space program.  It starts with the launching of Apollo 11 and tells the story of the first landing on the moon in a brief but detailed account for this reading level.  It also talks about the men involved and where they are now.  Written in an engaging narrative, with DK's always brilliant photography; this is an entertaining introduction to the moon landing.  A new edition is being published at the beginning of 2012 so you might want to wait for that edition to see if there is any update to the material.  This current edition I read (1998) gives a summary page which goes up to the Hubble Telescope, space stations and questions whether astronauts on Mars may be next.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

170. The Beginner's Bible

The Beginner's Bible. illustrated by Kelly Pulley (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 511
Ages: 5+
Finished: Jul. 29, 2011
First Published: 2005
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Genre: Bible, Christian
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

In the beginning, the world was empty.

Acquired: Purchased a copy through a homeschool retailer.

Reason for Reading:    Ds read to me over about the period of a year as his bible reading.  We had a schedule where on every Fri. I would put away our usual religious instruction materials and he would lead the lesson by reading for 20 minutes from this book and it would also cover his reader for the day, thus lightening Friday's load.  He started the book off managing to read one story per allotted time but by the New Testament he was reading three stories each sitting as a rule.  So we watched his reading improve over the course of this book.

This is a very nice first Bible reader for any child who is at that stage of reading and also would make a great read aloud to pre-schoolers.  The pictures are very cartoonish, which I'm not too keen on, but ds enjoyed the look of the book very much and never complained about reading from it.  A good selection of stories, including all the popular ones, with the New Testament told chronologically.  This Bible is from a Protestant point of view and as Catholics we had very little problem with that at all.  The OT presented no problems for us and the NT was only conspicuous in what it left out.  The only story we needed to talk about afterwards was the story that tells of Jesus telling Peter to "take good care of His people".  It seemed to be an afterthought and we discussed the whole real story we've read from the Gospel.  Otherwise a decent, good, entertaining, well-written easy reader, for kids to have as their first Bible they can read themselves.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

168. The Flight of Dragons by Vivian French

The Flight of Dragons by Vivian French. Illustrated by Ross Collins. (Canada) - (US)
The Fourth Tale from the Five Kingdoms

Pages: 248
Ages: 8+
Finished: July 27, 2011
First Published: Jul. 12, 2011 (2010, UK)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: children, fantasy, humour
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

"Dragons?" Professor Scallio peered over the top of his spectacles.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

Book 4 in this series returns us to the original delight of Book 1, Robe of Skulls.  Books 2 and 3 were very enjoyable too, but both1 & 4 have that special something about them.  This time around dragons are seen flying around the borders of the Five Kingdoms.  They were banished 8o years ago and this brings concern when it is figured that they may be looking for a dragon egg getting ready to hatch.  Prince Marcus and Gracie Gillypot go on another adventure to find the egg and return it to the dragons but there is an evil presence lurking just outside the border who plans on taking over the Five Kingdoms.  As he manages to infiltrate the border, he makes use of relatives, including the Canker twins to help him reach his goal.  On the hunt for the egg Marcus and Gracie meet up with the evil Granpappy Canker and must stop him before he finds out about the dragon's egg which could double his powers.

A lot of fun, this addition to the series.  Virtually every character we've met so far either makes an appearance or is referred and along with the new characters introduced for this book, we have an enormous cast of characters, therefore it is more than welcome that a Cast of Characters list has been included at the beginning of the book.  The plot of this book was one of the better ones since Book 1 and I really enjoyed the new evil characters along with the new good characters.  As always, the illustrations are a great accompaniment to the text and we have about one per chapter.  If one is so inclined, these books could be read out of order as there is no overall story arc.  Each book is its own adventure, except that there is a plot development between the main characters Grace and Marcus, a budding romance, plus the other regular characters also have a small story line that moves forward but these are not for the most part involved with the plot.  Reading them in order is recommended though as each book gradually adds more and more characters and the author tries to at least mention their existence, if not include them, in each story.  Gracie and her troll Gubble, plus the family of bats who help her out are all fun characters and I'm always excited to sit down with their newest book and "The Flight of Dragons" was a good-time read.

Friday, August 5, 2011

RIP: William Sleator

Oh, this is so sad! He was so young! He's one of my favourite kid's horror/sci-fi authors. I remember really enjoying The Boxes, The Beasties and Interstellar Pig, to name a few.

William Sleator, the author of more than 30 books for young people, died on Tuesday in Thailand. He was 66. Born in Maryland and raised just outside of St. Louis, Mo., he was known for his thought-provoking, often disturbing science fiction novels. His first book, The Angry Moon, illustrated by his friend Blair Lent, received a 1971 Caldecott Honor, but Sleator found even greater acclaim with his novel House of Stairs (1974), named one of the 100 Best Books for Teens by the American Library Association. He went on to publish many acclaimed novels, including Interstellar Pig (1984) and Singularity (1985), and in 1993, Oddballs, a collection of autobiographical stories about growing up outside St. Louis in a family of brilliant eccentrics. Sleator explored his fascination with Thai culture, and its embrace of the beautiful and the grotesque, in The Spirit House. His final book, The Phantom Limb, will be published in October by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams.

167. Photo Booth by Lewis Helfand

Photo Booth by Lewis Helfand. Illustrated by Sachin Nagar (Canada) - (US)
Campfire Originals

Pages: 79
Ages: 15+
Finished: Jul. 26, 2011
First Published: Jun. 21, 2011
Publisher: Campfire
Genre: graphic novel, YA, crime, thriller, romance, magical realism
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:  Acquired: Received a review copy from Steerforth Press.

There have been thirteen murders in the last two weeks, and all of them are related to a new drug on the streets.

Reason for Reading:  This sounded intriguing and was something completely different from what I've read from the publisher so far.

Photo Booth is what might be classified as a romantic thriller and is for a slightly higher age group than all the previous books I've read by this publisher so far.  Though no age is given on the books, this is just a more mature story that I think older teens and adults are going to be the most interested audience.  New York City Interpol agent Praveer Rajani is part of a team investigating a drug ring.  They take down a major deal one night and Praveer is reminded of some clues he and his siblings received from a mysterious photo booth when they were younger.  They solved the clues at that time but Praveer has one remaining clue that he now thinks points to the person who killed his parents in a car crash 20 years ago.

The modern day plot is done in black and white line drawings and then when Praveer goes back to remembering the mysterious photo booth and the strange photos it gave him, his sister and older brother the art is in full colour.  In this part they put all there clues together to help Jayendra, the eldest and legal guardian of his siblings, find the girl who got away.  Praveer never tells anyone but he has a clue which is similar to the others only somewhat different and it never fits in; this is the clue that he uses 20 years later.

An exciting, unique story involving a story within a story.  The flashback story is the main focus of the book but is sandwiched between the crime story which relates to the other and closes the past for a troubled young man who has never gotten over the sudden death of his parents.  Altogether a good book, and I think probably my favourite of the Originals series so far, that I have read.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

166. In Defense of the Realm by Sanjay Deshpande

In Defense of the Realm by Sanjay Deshpande. Illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma (Canada) - (US)
Campfire Originals

Pages: 103
Ages: 12+
Finished: Jul. 25, 2011
First Published: Jun. 14, 2011
Publisher: Campfire
Genre: graphic novel, YA, Historical fiction, ancient history
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

At Torana's ashram near Varanasi. 150BC

I wonder what Master Torana is going to teach us today?

Acquired: Received a review copy from Steerforth Press.

Reason for Reading: I enjoy ancient historical fiction and am a fan of this India-based publisher.

An epic historical tale told within the frame of an ancient (150BC) children's study class.  The book starts off with a two page spread of text explaining that very little is known of the actual people who lived in the Indus Valley in ancient times, but that much *is* known about how they lived and their way of life.  This story takes place in 2310BC in the Indus Valley with one real historically known person, Sargon, an Akkadian king.  Sargon was a conqueror who sought to expand his lands and conquered much of the area at this time in history.  This story supposes he tries to conquer the Indus Valley and by having the 5 small empires join together as one they are able to defeat his mighty army.  But it is also the personal story of two people, Prince Meluha, heir to one kingdom and his betrothed, Princess Kundalini, heir to another kingdom.  This is an exciting story which I read through in one sitting involving treason, treachery, loyalty, battles of might and battles of wit.  Also, of course, a minor love story as the two main characters were betrothed as young teens and now meet again for the first time in five years.  A very realistic portrayal of the times, good graphics, and an exciting story make for an exhilarating read.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

165. Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Ilustrated by Mary Gehr (Canada) - (US)
The Alden Family Mysteries, #2

Pages: 178
Ages: 7+
Finished: Jul. 24, 2011
First Published: 1949
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Children, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:
"Now, tell us, Grandfather," cried Henry.  "We ran all the way home from school."

Acquired: Purchased a used copy from a book/garage sale of thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: This is another book from the Random Bookshelf that I am reading from this year.The Boxcar Children have played a big part in my and my children's lives. I intend to acquire a complete set of the first 19 books (the others hold no interest to me) and keep them as keepers on my juvenile shelves for my future grandchildren.

Book 2 is very similar to that of the first in the series.  First of all, there is no real mystery except for the hidden identity of a man on the island known only to them as "Joe".  However, the fisherman who lives on the island knows who he really is and tells the Dr., though swears him to secrecy.  The children continuously suspect Joe of being more than just a handyman and wonder who he really is.  The story itself is adorable and brings back the children surviving on their own as Grandfather owns a small island where he has decided to let the children stay for the duration of the summer holidays.  They, of course, are excited as it brings back their boxcar days and they get right to fixing up the barn as a summer home and cooking, mending and fixing for themselves.  A quaint story with no antagonists but simply an innocent tale of childhood from the days of yesteryear.  Kids today will get a big kick out of the children being able to live on an island all by themselves for the summer.  The resolution is fun and should add another character to the series in the following volumes.  Mary Gehr's line & ink drawings are typical of the era and lovingly match the text.  An enjoyable, wholesome story for both boys and girls.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

164. Death Note: Black Edition, Vol. 4 by Tsugumi Ohba

Death Note: Black Edition, Vol. 4 by Tsugumi Ohba. Art by Takeshi Obata. (Canada) - (US)
Death Note, Vol. 7 & 8

Pages: 416
Ages: 16+
Finished: Jul. 24, 2011
First Published: July 5, 2011
Publisher: viz media
Genre: graphic novel, YA, manga, crime, paranormal
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Ryuzaki, allow me to go.

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

Reason for Reading:  next in the series.

Amazing!  Honestly, I keep saying this, but each volume of Death Note just keeps getting better and better!  What a shocking plot twist happens in Volume 7 that then changes the whole dynamics of the story and the introduction of three new characters in Volume 8  take the plot off in a new direction.  I can't say much about plot here as it would spoil  your reading.  What I can say is that Light & Misa get their memories back, just as Light had planned and we are taken backwards a bit to see just how he had planned this brilliant move.  Getting that glimpse of Light without his memory, though, really makes one realize just how downright evil he actually is and how much fun he is having playing with people's lives.  The Shinigami are back playing a major role in these volumes and we have a good mix between the crime, police detecting aspect of the story and the paranormal aspect.  Of course, "L" still suspects Light and Misa although he finally has to let them go from confinement.  With the shocking plot twist, the new characters and finally some background information into  "L"'s origins, this is one doozy of a volume.  There are only 2 more Black Editions left and I can't even imagine where the plot is going end after these changes.  Bring on the next volume, I say!

Monday, August 1, 2011

163. Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Translated from the Danish by Lisa Hartford (UK only)
Department Q, #1

Pages: 504
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jul. 23, 2011
First Published: 2008, Denmark, (May 20, 2011, UK)
Published in Canada and US under the Title "The Keeper of Lost Causes" on August 23, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

She scratched her fingertips on the smooth walls until they bled, and pounded her fists on the thick panes until she could no longer feel her hands.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin UK.

Reason for Reading:  The plot just screamed "read me!" and I'm a fan of Scandi Crime.

Outstanding!  The first chapter had me hooked on the case and the second chapter had me fascinated with the main character, Copenhagen detective Carl Morck.  Usually I'm into the serial killer type of crimes but this case involves a kidnapping/missing persons case that is incredibly taut and gripping.  Carl Morck has just come back to work after being in a shoot-out where he was injured and each of his two partners were either killed or seriously impaired for life.  Carl  has never been a lovable guy and this emotional event has not helped matters.  He is sent to the basement, given his own department, Department Q, where he will work on cold cases.  The first one that he and his Syrian assistant choose is that of the missing persons case of a prominent young female politician who has been missing, presumed accidentally drowned, five years ago.  But Carl and Assad find out that many things were not properly investigated at the time.  Everyone assumes that she is dead, but Merete isn't dead and won't be until her kidnapper's appointed time of execution.

Carl is a flawed character with many problems but one that the reader routes for and agrees with as he fights against the establishment.  His Syrian assistant, Assad, is both comic relief and a very intriguing character as he demonstrates great insight into detective work and has amazing contacts and capabilities which provoke interest in his mysterious past.  Carl and Assad make a great team, their opposing characters bounce off each other as each gains great respect for the other.

The case was fabulous!  Everything one can want in a thriller.  Full of twists and turns and fantastic descriptions of the victim's suffering.  The point of view alternates between the present with Carl investigating the disappearance and with the past as we watch what happened to the victim unfold until the years meet up with the present.  I must admit I guessed "whodunit" *very* early in the book, not from any clues, just simply because it felt like a logical surmise.  This didn't spoil my reading one bit though as all the twisting and plot reveals only unfolded into an amazingly unguessable plot that put everything together in a very satisfying story for me.  I can't wait for the next book which will be called Disgrace in the UK.