Thursday, December 31, 2009

YA-Dystopian Reading Challenge Finished! I loved this one and will do it again if it is offered. Here is my pile:

1. The Giver by Lois Lowry
2. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Speak Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the dark and depressing tale of a freshman in high school who is shunned by her so-called friends and everyone else in school for calling the cops during a party in the summer. She retreats into her mind and stops talking but the memories of that horrible night won't leave her alone and eventually she has to let it all out.

I really felt the pain of high school in this book. I remember how things like the cafeteria and who you are going to sit with are HUGE deals when you are in it. It's a place I never want to be again. I enjoyed seeing the progress of Melinda as she begins to crack open and the words start to come out. She finds ways to gain her strength and confidence again.

There are definite parallels to Sarah Dessen's Just Listen, but the plots are developed differently. It is probably one reason I liked reading Speak so much, I really loved Just Listen.

I read this book in a few hours without stopping, for this reason and the well-developed character and prose it is more like a 4.75 for me.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Handle with Care Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Six-year-old Willow O'keefe was born with osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. Her mother decides to launch a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob-gyn, who also happens to be her best friend.

I enjoyed learning about OI and how difficult life is with that disease. Other than that, I liked the book but it wasn't anything new from her other books; controversial topic: wrongful birth, lawsuit that tears the family apart, lots of drama during, before and after the trial, a sibling who is neglected because of the special-needs, sibling, etc. Also, this whopper of a book could definitely have been shorter and still gotten the point across.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, December 21, 2009

Beneath a Marble Sky Beneath a Marble Sky
by John Shors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the absolutely exquisitely written tale of the love story between the daughter of the Hindustan Emperor and the man who created the Taj Mahal. Jahanara lives in a time where women are routinely raped and beaten by their husbands with no consequences. She defies the popular view of women as objects to be seen and used and not heard. I admired her strength and courage, putting herself in mortal danger in some situations to try to help a loved one.

I loved reading about the design and building of the Taj Mahal - obviously this is a work of fiction but I believe that the author was true to the techniques used in the 17th century. Every word and situation sparkled with a descriptive language that was a joy to read. This was a time where to be rich was luxurious, jewels, food, cashmere carpets, elephants, etc. And a time where to be poor was wretched, filthy and difficult.

This book was written by a male author, but I think he did a fantastic job of writing this novel in a woman's voice. Her worries about her family, her suffering in childbirth and other physical situations were very believable to me.

I was also inspired by how many times Jaha calls on Allah each day and in every situation where she needs help and guidance and would often pray until she received the answer even if it was several hours.

This book was very close to a 5 for me. The text was alive and beautiful and the story was one to inspire.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Book 4 for the Dystopian Reading Challenge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suzanne Collins has created another amazing book that stirs your emotions, captures your imaginations and involves you so much in the character's lives that you feel like they are your best friends. This second book in the Hunger Games series is about what happens to Katniss and her family after she returns a victor. Her family is well-fed and cared for and she is even able to help other less-fortunate families with her new-found wealth.

The struggle between the Capitol and the Districts heats up as people follow what they thought was Katniss' defiance with the berries in the Games. Katniss has to decide how she feels about Peeta and Gale and what to do about it.

There's not much I can add about this book that hasn't already been said better than I can. Suffice it to say, the book is as fantastic as the first, Suzanne Collins has an imagination that astounds and I am EAGERLY awaiting the next installment!

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this is an interesting book. It's hard to say too much about the plot without giving too much away, but basically it is the story of Jenna, an adored only child, who wakes up from an 18-month coma after suffering near-fatal injuries in a car accident. Jenna wakes up with no recollection of her former life and has to re-learn it slowly. In the midst of this, she starts to sense that things aren't exactly the same as they were before.

I really liked Jenna's character and seeing her go through the stages of discovering herself again and realizing the strength and will and courage that she never dared to exercise before for fear of upsetting the pedestal her parents' kept her on. Jenna always did exactly what her parents told her, but the pressure of being perfect started to get to her and I liked watching her break out of that shell.

I also really enjoyed the plot. The idea is unique and I couldn't tell even from page to page what was going to happen next. The plot moves along just right, keeping the reader hanging just enough before answering the next question in the story.

The story takes place in a society not so far into the future where the overuse of antibiotics by people 20 years before has caused serious problems. This seemed to point to us in present day. It was an interesting concept to think about. This world also has BioGel, a product that will preserve organs outside of the body for donation for years. I was intrigued by these things and wondered how realistic they are.

A really great read that kept me guessing until the last page.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fifth Business (Penguin Modern Classics) Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this first book in the Deptford Trilogy. This story follows the life of Dunstable Ramsay from his life in provincial Deptford to the trenches in WWI to his career as a schoolmaster and most importantly his interest in saints and writings about them and where that leads him. Another key part of the story is when he ducks a snowball and it hits a pregnant woman resulting in a premature birth of her baby. This experience and his resulting guilt and responsibility for Mary Demptster shapes much of his future decisions. The book is written as a letter to his headmaster on his retirement from teaching. Ramsay was offended at the write-up of his life as a dull schoolmaster and seeks to clarify what his life was really like and who he really is.

The book is beautifully written, much of it is introspective but doesn't become boring or whiny as some largely introspective books do. I could read this several more times and get more out of it. The prose is fun to read and I enjoyed his interactions with others, especially the hideous but intriguing Liesl. I was wondering the whole book what in the world Fifth Business is and when I found out, it was well worth the wait and the part Fifth Business played in the end of the book is really great.

Definitely excited to read the next books, it is hard to imagine what else could happen to Dunny, but I will love reading about it.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The TwentyTen Challenge

The idea is to read 20 books in 2010 from 10 different categories - 2 in each category. The categories range from YA to Older Than You to books you bought in a charity shop. Have no idea what I am reading, but so excited to participate! Actually, I guess I do have to list my reading choices for the Up to You category in this post. So I choose:

1. The Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. My first jump into the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre.

2. Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman. I haven't read much of Gaiman but people love him and this looked like a great one to try.

Thanks so much to Bart's Bookshelf for another great challenge!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

June Bug June Bug by Chris Fabry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nine-year-old June Bug has been traveling around the nation in an RV with her Dad for as long as she can remember. Her world is turned upside-down when she sees her face on a missing children poster at Walmart. June Bug's perspective on her life completely changes as she learns who she really is, where she really came from and whether or not this man she has trusted and loved her whole life is really her father.

When I first read the premise of this book I was intrigued. I think my expectations were way too high because I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. June Bug sees the missing children poster in the first chapter of the book but it is not until quite a bit later that she actually confronts her father with the information. This really bugged me, I don't know how she could hold this inside for even one second, though on the other hand, her whole world is being rocked and she may not want to know the truth.

I did really like June Bug's father, he was the most complex and interesting character in the book who had been through tough situations in his life and acted in a way he felt best. The rest of the characters were pretty cliche' and the situations were tired and used a million times.

The story is fine, it definitely kept my interest and there is a decent ending, I just don't think I got the bang I was hoping for when I first heard about this book and I kept feeling angry that it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2) Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Book 3 for the Dystopian Reading Challenge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kira, a girl born with a twisted leg, has only managed to survive in a community that discards imperfect children at birth with the watchful care of her loving mother. When her mother dies from a serious illness, Kira finds that the community has a new position for her using her talent at "threading" or embroidery. In her new role she starts to find out more than she ever knew about her community and her past and the important part she can play to make it better.

A sweet, little story with solid characters that can provoke love or hate. I enjoyed it but just wanted a little more oomph to the plot and ending. I think I might just be a little dystopianed out right now too.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Book 2 for the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! I'm still trying to catch my breath from reading this book. The last 50 pages passed in a blur. Wow! Patrick Ness has pulled me into his story like no one in a long time. This dystopian novel is the story of Todd Hewitt, a boy born into a world where men and animals can hear each others' thoughts. A constant noise and chaos every second of the day and night. As he comes within a month of his twelfth birthday - the Prentisstown definition of the age of a man - strange things start to happen that leave him questioning his whole life and everything he believes about the world he lives in. What follows in a story of fleeing in the face of constant mortal danger. Terror, desperation, hunger, violence are a part of every day until Todd can reach safety in a new settlement.

The characters in this book are very real to me; Aaron is pure evil and terror, just a hint of his Noise coming is enough to know that something really bad is going to happen. I also really liked Manchee, Todd's dog. His exuberant "Todd! Todd!" and "Ow Todd?" were funny to read. he was loyal through and through.

As Todd goes through the transformation from a boy to a man, he learns that though things are bad, there is still hope. I really liked this quote in the book from Todd's father (for all intents and purposes), Ben.

"There's always hope, you always have to hope. . . you've overcome obstacles and dangers that should've killed you . . . How do you think you could have come this far if you didn't have hope?"

Ness says that our world is so filled with information these days - texts, emails, messaging, etc - and he wanted to see what would happen in a town where you really couldn't get away from the noise. He has done this masterfully. It's "chaos walking" as he says in the novel. I enjoyed thinking about this as I read this book.

With an ending that will startle the reader and leave them desperate for the next book, I give The Knife of Never Letting Go five solid stars. Not a book for those in search of a light and happy story, but one that makes you think about our world today and what all the information is doing to us.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating:
4 of 5 stars

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
(from the Goodreads description)

I REALLY liked this book. It's really more like a 4.5 stars for me. The chemistry and sexual tension between Grace and Sam is palpable and I found myself with a knot in my stomach wondering what would happen next. I love the beautiful imagery that the author creates complete with sounds, smells and sights. The romance is this book is fantastic without being too graphic. Though it reminds me a bit of Twilight there were enough differences that it didn't bother me much.

A great chilly read for the fall when you feel like bundling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody Owens (Bod for short) has lived in the graveyard for as long as he can remember. His adoptive parents are ghosts, his teachers are ghosts and his friends are ghosts. He also has a mysterious guardian who is neither ghost nor alive. If he leaves the graveyard, his life is in danger from the man Jack, a killer on the loose who is also responsible for the murders of Bod's original family and wants to finish the job.

I read this book for my in-person book club and didn't expect to like it as much as I did. The book reminded me of the saying that "it takes a village to raise a child," as Bod has everything he needs from all different kinds of people who are now ghosts. He has grown up with old-fashioned manners and a strong sense of right and wrong. The characters are fun to read about as they are varied in age and time period, the oldest ghost in the graveyard is an ancient Roman and there are young ghost children who died from consumption.

Neil Gaiman definitely has a unique style that I enjoyed. I also liked the illustrations included in the book at the beginning of each chapter. All in all, an interesting read perfect for this time of year.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Hourglass Door The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abby's senior year is going along just fine; college applications are in, there are good friends and dances and even a cute best-friend turned boyfriend. She is helping direct the school play and hoping to have the chance to "live without limits" at Emery College. Her perfect year is turned upside down when Dante, a mysterious Italian exchange student, walks into her life. Unexplainable things start happening to Abby the more time she spends with Dante, and she becomes entangled in a centuries-old struggle with time.

Romance, tension, mystery, and handsome boys with an accent make this book difficult to put down. The plot isn't real deep; it's the basic romance with a dangerous boy. Is it worth it or deadly? As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I struggled with the obvious parallels to Twilight. A girl who has special abilities in the face of danger, some supernatural elements, an irresistible boy who is different from anyone she has ever known but could lead her into moral danger, all of a sudden the girl is the boy's whole world and he has been waiting for her forever and on and on. But maybe that is why I liked it so much, because I like these kinds of stories even though they are slightly predictable. I've heard that there are only seven different plots that are constantly rewritten with slight changes, and this plot is always fun to read.

A great piece of light and enjoyable fiction with a major cliffhanger at the end to lead to the next book.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, October 25, 2009

End of Event Meme

Finally finished! I had so much fun doing this readathon, especially enjoying it with my friend Tricia. I finally gave in to sleep at around 3am and finished 823 pages. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't read more than that, I feel like kind of a wimp. But something more to try for next time!

Thank you so much to all my cheerleaders and to the event event orgaznizers! You put in a great deal of hard work and it was appreciated!

Here are my answers to the end of event meme.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 14 and Hour 19

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
It's a little hard to list since there are so many different people and interests, but I think anything by Suzanne Collins or Carlos Ruiz Zafon would work. Also, light, quick reads would help also so you could finish more books and feel like you accomplished more.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
No, it was really great. This was my first time and I was impressed by all the hard work from the cheerleaders and organizers.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The cheerleaders are awesome and the hourly updates and mini-challenges were a fun distraction.

5. How many books did you read?
3 and almost a third of another one.

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Ella Enchanted, The Giver, Dairy Queen, part of The Hourglass Door

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Dairy Queen

8. Which did you enjoy least?
I really liked them all quite a bit, but probably the least was the Hourglass Door because I didn't finish and was tired during it.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Very likely, it was fun to read and to connect with so many readers around the world. I would be a reader again.

Update #4 Hour 18

2:31 am here and I'm struggling to stay awake but the hour 18 mini-challenge was a fun one and provide some much-needed laughter. On page 100 of my fourth book, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum.


Books: 3.2
Hours: 14
Pages: 796

Hour #17 Mini-Challenge

Lynn's Give Me 5 Mini-challenge

Here we go, my top 5 favorite children's books:

1. The Giving Tree
2. Where the Wild Things Are
3. Sneeches
4. Falling for Rapunzel
5. Meet Wild Boars

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Update #3

It's 11 pm here in North Carolina - hour 16. I have only about 25 pages left of The Giver, which I am enjoying. I'm not a night person at ALL so I am getting pretty tired and the rest of the night is going to be a challenge to stay awake.


Books Read: Almost 3!
Hours: 12
Pages: 680
The Giver (The Giver, #1) The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book 1 for the YA Dystopian Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jonas lives in a community that is completely structured and regulated, marriages are matched, perfect family units consist of two children, mom and dad; zero percent unemployment; bragging is not allowed and the climate is carefully controlled - no sunshine, rain or snow. The Old or sometimes the infants who are not up to snuff are "released" from the community.

"The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without color, pain or past."

At year 12, all children are given an "assignment" or job that they will have their entire lives until they enter the Home of the Old. Jonas is selected to become a Receiver, a person who will safeguard all the memories of the community. The memories, of pleasure, pain, color, music, misery, choices, etc. All the memories that are no longer remembered by the community because they would interfere with the new standard of "sameness."

This book made me think about life and how sometimes I just want it to be easy with no tantrums, screaming, whining or difficulties. That is how Jonas' life is - no challenges, but no choices either. I really liked reading about the community Lowry created. It is weird at the beginning when Jonas is eating dinner with his "family unit" and they are all pleasantly talking, almost like they are doing a comedy sketch of the perfect family. It is creepy and would be annoying to live like that. I could spend a great deal of time analyzing and thinking about this book, but since it is the readathon, on to the next!

View all my reviews >>

Update #2 Hour 11

Just checked into our hotel. Planning to get some room service and dive into The Giver.


Books Read: 2
Pages: 526
Hours: 8.5
Dairy Queen Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars DJ Schwenke is stuck working on her family's dairy farm all summer. Her dad hurt his hip and she is pretty much running the farm by herself. The summer takes an unexpected turn when she has the opportunity to train rival football team quarterback. Dj also learns to follow her own dreams instead of just doing what is expected just like one of the dairy cows. I love the first-person narrative in this story. Dj has a fun sense of humor that had me laughing out loud more than once. Definitely looking forward to the other books in this series. View all my reviews >>

Update #1

Books Read: 2
Pages read: 526

Our plan was to go to the hotel around 3, but we are still stuck on our fannie's at Tricia's house. Loving it so far, even with the lack of snacks. :)

First Book for Readathon Complete

Ella Enchanted Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. It had the wonderful parts from the original but included so much more. Ella was received a fairy blessing at birth to be obedient. Sounds great until you realize that she is bound to do ANYTHING anyone commands her. Could be as simple as hopping on one foot for a day or ending a friendship when commanded. A fun, quick read, my first for the Dewey's 24 hour readathon! View all my reviews >>

Working my Way Through Ella Enchanted

So I started my readathon morning with a book I wasn't really into and decided to switch to Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. So far so good, almost 1/3 of the way through.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Readathon Weekend!

Here is my stack for my first ever Readathon tomorrow!

1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
2. Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist
3. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
6. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
7. The Messenger by Lois Lowry
8. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
9. Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

I'm really excited! A friend and I are doing this together, even renting a hotel room so keep us away from our kids. The only thing I'm worried about is that I asked her if we should get treats and she said, "Treats?" like she had never heard of that idea before. Guess I'm the only reader who likes to snack at the same time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Angel's Game The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book 2 for RIP Challenge, Peril the Second

Wow! What a book, my head is spinning from all the events that happen in this book and I don't even know where to begin. David Martin, an aspiring writer from a troubled childhood meets a mysterious man who promises him wealth untold in exchange for writing a novel for his publishing company. As David begins work on the novel, strange things begin happening and he starts to wonder if this deal isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I love this author's writing style. I can see the Barcelona of the early 1900s. I can see the squalor some live in and the luxury others enjoy. I can feel the dripping, damp old tower house that David moves into and I can smell the dust and decay of the room in his house that contains a deadly secret.

The plot is interesting and definitely not predictable, and there are so many twists and turns I can hardly keep track of them. I am not usually a re-reader of books but if I were, I'm sure I could get even more out of this book if I read it again.

I loved it, I would recommend it as a great creepy read; not one to read if you are looking for sunshine and happiness, but a fascinating mystery that leaves you thinking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U2: At the End of the World U2: At the End of the World by Bill Flanagan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the book cover: When U2 took the stage for their three-year Zoo TV world tour in 1991, Bill Flanagan was there--in the bus, on the plane, in the recording studio and well after hours with the biggest rock band in the world. A tour that began to support the hugely successful Achtung Baby record and ended with a second, even more successful record, Zooropa, took U2 to the far reaches of the world, playing to over a hundred sold-out arenas in over forty cities.

U2 At The End Of The World takes you on the world tour and drops you off at the cultural intersection where rock stars meet politicians; where writers, directors, and models all wind up backstage with U2. And finally, when the band performs their last Zoo TV concert in Tokyo in 1993 and nearly collapses from physical and mental exhaustion, you are there with them waiting for the end of the world.

Wow, I don't really even know how to begin my review for this book. I attended U2's 360 tour last week and that is what prompted my interest in learning more about the band. And I sure learned a bunch! This book is packed with personal insight, quotes and stories from the band members. I feel like I got to know about each of their personalities. It is crazy the situations that rock stars can get themselves into. This book is all about their Zoo TV tour detailing life on the road. It is just unreal, they are taken from place to place, told where to be, stand, what to do and then they do it. Then in their hours off, there is much time for partying and crazy times all night long.

What I was impressed with is that U2 has such a generosity and love with each other. The band members are childhood friends and stick with each other through thick and thin. I also believe that they genuinely try to treat other people with kindness and respect, from trying to inform the world about tragedies in Sarajevo to Bono picking up a crazy fan who was knocked down by a security guard and making sure he is ok.

The thing that I didn't like about this book is how random it seemed. I am on information overload. Anecdote, concert, conversation, places are all jumbled together in an order that doesn't make sense to me. So if you are looking for a simple biography, this is not the one, but if you are looking to laugh out loud and be touched by kindness and craziness, this is the one for you. View all my reviews >>

Sunday, October 11, 2009

YA-Dystopian Reading Challenge

I love these challenges and I have even read several in this genre already this year so I will love reading even more!

Hosted by Bart's Bookshelf, the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge takes place from October 15 to the end of the year.

"Dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, cackotopia, or anti-utopia) is the vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war,violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespreadunhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain. (Source: Wikipedia)"

The idea is to have fun with this, So your level of participation is up to you, simply pick a target of between 1 & 4 books to read during the two and a half months of the challenge.

Here's my list:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Giver, Gathering Blue, The Messenger by Lois Lowry
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

This is my first book for the RIP challenge!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Connie Goodwin, Harvard graduate student in colonial studies, interrupts her dissertation research to rehabilitate her grandmother's crumbling house in Marblehead, MA at the request of her mother. While there she discovers an ancient key in a 17th century bible with the name Deliverance Dane on a bit of paper. Through much research she finds that Deliverance was a "cunning woman" involved in the Salem witch trials. Connie also finds connections to Deliverance Dane that come close to home.

The book flip-flops between the 1600s and the 1990s forming an interesting picture of life in Salem. I enjoyed reading about life in Salem now and in the 1600s. Howe painted interesting pictures in my mind of life at Harvard and life as a woman in 1692. I also liked the characters. There were few of them and they were decently developed. The magical moments were well illustrated and felt realistic.
There are good things about this book, but my high expectations were unmet. I felt like nothing much happened in the first 200 pages, but then it picked up a bit after that. I did look forward to reading it and finding out the ending. It was also a bit predictable; "aha" moments for Connie were a little funny as the reader could figure out what was going to happen several pages before.

This wasn't my favorite book ever but there were good things about it and I would definitely give Katherine Howe another try in a future book. View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Among the Free (Shadow Children, Book 7) Among the Free
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a wrap! This final book in the Shadow Children series is told from Luke's perspective, which seems appropriate since we started this whole journey with him in the first book. Luke has infiltrated the Population Police and resists a direct order to shoot an old woman, inadvertently setting off a chain of events that leads to the demise of the Population Police. This seems like an amazing event, or is it? Our old friend Oscar Wydell (Smits' bodyguard from Among the Barons) places himself in charge of the new government. Luke is unsettled about this, but even more puzzled when he overhears Oscar conferring with Aldous Krakenaur, the former leader of the Population Police.

What remains is for Luke to decide what is right, what freedom really means, and what can he, as a solitary child do about it?

I enjoyed this last book in the series. It had plenty of plot twists and turns and lots of action. I found myself reflecting on some of the restrictions placed on population around the world and wondered if the author was trying to give some sort of subtle message about this. The ending of the book isn't completely cut and dried like I expected and I liked that too. WIthout giving too much away, I feel like the end made sense considering the surroundings and current state of affairs.

Liked the series, but ready to move on to new horizons! Suzanne Collins, here we come!

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Among the Enemy (Shadow Children, Book 6) Among the Enemy by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I said before that I was going to take a break from this series, but I decided to plow through since I have the whole series stacked up on my bedside table.

In Among the Enemy, we focus on Mattias, one of the children that Nina helped in one of the previous books. Mattias has the opportunity to get close to the commander of the Population Police and use this privilege to help the rebels further the cause.

Interesting story, same idea with different details; Mattias starts out as a scared, timid child and by the end has turned into a strong, brave rebel with a cause.

Finally I will be on to the final book, look for my review tomorrow!

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Among the Brave (Shadow Children, Book 5) Among the Brave by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this book, tensions rise as the Government is overthrown by the head of the Population Police, Aldous Krakenaur. People are starving and rioting. They are promised food if they join up with the Population Police to hunt down every single illegal third child who may be in hiding.

This book focuses on Trey; a timid third child who had never been outside of his bedroom before coming to the Hendricks school. His mettle is tested as he finds himself in situations unimaginable. He rescues Luke, Nina, Mr. Talbot and others and finds out that he is strong and the revolution has changed him.

I liked this fourth book in the Shadow Children series. I like that we seem to be getting closer to the end; to when all third children can be free. I was grateful not to live in this unstable world where food is scarce and a seemingly insane dictator has taken charge. Again, I enjoyed seeing one of the children "grow up" or have to anyway. Trey found his strength within that allowed him to help others at any cost.

Liked it, but I think I might be ready for a break from the series for now.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Midwives Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sybil Danforth has been a lay midwife for years with much success and happiness in her profession. On a hideously stormy night she performs a C-section on a woman she believes to have died of a stroke. She is prosecuted for this when doubts arise and people question whether the woman was still alive when she performed the C-section and inadvertently caused her death.

Sybil is a good midwife; she is cautious, she has a back-up Ob-gyn to help if needed and doesn't hesitate to transfer her mothers to the hospital if the situation gets sticky. The weather this night is so icy that Sybil can't even make it to her car without bruises and a sprained ankle, so transferring to the hospital was out of the question.

This book made me think about decisions I make in life. Sybil's decision to cut into a woman to save the baby's life is a decision that will change the course of her life. She was acting in good faith, but she has to question whether this was the right thing to do. Would anyone have cared about this if the baby and mother just died? Her actions, though welll-meant cause the heartache of several others including her own daughter.

This book gets three stars from me for the fantastic prose and the unique way that the book is written from the point of view of Sybil's daughter. Sybil is writing this looking back from years later and there are bits from Sybil's diaries that help the reader understand her as a person. The court scenes are interesting and I like the way that the author creates some suspense and anticipation for the end . I didn't guess what was going to happen and was surprised by the ending.

For all that this is a well-written book, I am feeling decidedly glum. I just finished the book and it wasn't a happy escape for me. Definitely a read to save for a time when you would like some quiet reflection on ethics and how life begins. View all my reviews >>

Monday, September 21, 2009

Among the Barons (Shadow Children, Book 4) Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Luke Garner, an illegal third child, spent his first twelve years in hiding. For the past four months Luke has lived among others, using the identity of Lee Grant, at the Hendricks School for Boys. But just as things are finally starting to go right, Lee's little brother Smits arrives at the school and Luke finds himself caught in a tangle of lies that gets more complex with every passing day.

It's getting good again. The third book was a little slow but this one moved fast, I wasn't sure what to believe about any of the characters and I liked the ending. Luke develops a relationship with Smits and is able to help him out, a small step in his quest to help give freedom to those who deserve it. Luke briefly reunites with his family who sees how much he has grown in stature and maturity.

A great fourth book, definitely got me fired up to read the rest! View all my reviews >>


For a few days, I had a cool blog name.
But I inadvertently stole it from another.
For that, I am sorry
and back to the boring old original
until I find something unique of my own.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander

Tears of Pearl: A Novel of Suspense (Lady Emily, #4) Tears of Pearl: A Novel of Suspense by Tasha Alexander

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Even on her honeymoon with the dashing Colin Hargreaves Lady Emily can't resist becoming involved in solving the murder of a concubine at the Sultan's palace in the exotic Ottoman empire. To complicate matters, Lady Emily thinks she may be pregnant and struggles with losing her freedom to a husband who may become overprotective in this situation. While I loved the first line of this book, "It is always a mistake to underestimate the possibilities of a train comaprtment", the rest just fell flat for me. I finished it because I have loved the three previous books but this one seemed tedious to me. The romance between Colin and Emily made me want to gag; continuous mentions of sexual situations and preludes to sexual situations were just too much for me. I enjoyed it more in the previous books when it was still innocent with the promise of more. Lady Emily started to frustrate me with her insistence on her complete freedom to the point that when Colin is trying to protect her safety, it becomes a fight between them. I liked the part where her friend Maragaret asked her if maybe she should let him protect her a little bit because he might like it. I did enjoy the setting with the sultan and palaces and concubines and the exotic and the author's prose is fun to read. But on the whole I was disappointed with this book and found myself skimming just to finish. View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Peril the Second Find

I found this book today at my library book sale for $1. I think it will work out perfectly for my Peril the Second reading challenge. A medevil historical mystery. And, have you seen the cover? Looks like a creepy book to me.

Among the Betrayed by Maragaret Haddix Peterson

Nina Idi--a third child in a society where families are allowed only two children--has been betrayed by the boy she loved, and arrested by the Population Police for exposing other alleged third children. Angry and confused, Nina knows only one thing for sure: She is innocent of the charges. But now she is faced with the most difficult choice of her life: Get three other prisoners to admit they are shadow children and be spared herself, or refuse to cooperate and be killed.

This is the third book in the Shadow Children series. I keep complaining that the whole series should be all one book but I guess that isn't practical because these are written for 8-12 year olds. I liked this book but it was a bit slow. However the ending wrapped up nicely with Nina learning that she has a strong inner core that she can use going forward to help other Shadow Children.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quietly venturing into my own book blog

I recently added several book blogs to my google reader account and have enjoyed reading about a bunch of great new books, blog tours and reader challenges. I'm tentatively trying to jump-start my book blog without being too intimidated about the amazing reviews and prose I have read on other people's book blogs.

My first foray into the book blogging world will include participation in the RIP IV challenge - I'm going to try for the Peril the Second level. More details at this fun blog -

My books will be:

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

And then maybe:

The Mystery of the Sea by Bram Stoker

Here are more suggestions from Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings:

1. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
2. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
3. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
4. Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Christ Priestley
5. The Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
6. The Mystery of the Sea by Bram Stoker
7. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
8. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
9. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón