Saturday, June 27, 2009


Week 24 - Book 25

You know when you get to a certian point in a book and you can't put it down? Well, this is a book that done it to me. I was about at the halfway point of the book and just couldn't put it down. I wanted to find out what happened to Tory and Cord.

"The Bride's Necklace" by Kat Martin

(from the back cover)
Knowing that she alone can protect her sister from Baron Harwood, their lecherous stepfather, Victoria Temple Whiting snatches the family's heirloom necklace--believed to hold the power to bring a great happiness or terrible tragedy--to pay for their escape to London. Once there, Victoria poses as Tory Temple and finds employment as a servant in the household of handsome Cordell Easton, the scandalous Earl of Brant. The sisters' arrival is welcome: Cord is in need of a new mistress, and turns to Tory, whose wit and intellect intrigue him. But when he learns that he has compromised the daughter of a peer, Cord must decide--marry Tory and keep her safe, or allow his stubborn pride to deny his heart.

Great Historical Romance book! It has been years since I have read a Kat Martin book! She writes very good and takes you along on the adventure with the characters. As in this book, Tory is guarding her sister and winds up falling in love with the Earl of Brant, Cord. But Cord has shut off his feelings and neglects Tory. Leaving her own her own to go to the parties, Opera, and shopping. Tory soon tires of all the parties and just wants Cord to pay attention to her. So she sets about to make him jealous, only it all backfires on her, when Cord hires a Bow Street Runner to check up on her.

[NOTE: This is book one of a trilogy.]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Week 25 - Book 26

Book A Week in 2009: Week 25 - Book 26

Today is the start of Week 25 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 26. Which means -- drumroll, please. We are halfway towards our goal of reading 52 books for the year.

Happy Summer! I'm looking forward to the long days of summer, relaxing on the patio with a glass of ice tea and reading. Aren't you? Even in the midst of vacations, gardening, summer activities, time reading is well spent. I'll tell you a secret...I have discovered that reading is more enjoyable than watching television. Reading engages my mind, taking me away to places I've never been, is entertain and educational. I've just about given up television and occasionally will watch a netflix dvd or some show we decided to dvr. But I discovered I'd much rather been reading. And I have discovered many new to authors along the way.

I recently discovered a new to me author - Carlos Luis Zafon who wrote "Shadows of the Wind" and his recent book which I recently read and reviewed "The Angel's Game." The book was intriguing and interesting. To read an interview with Carlos Luis Zafon head on over to or find out more about him, check out his website.

Some great new books are coming out soon including Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Deception
which I just put on my wishlist.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

still life

I discovered Still Life (Three Pines Mysteries) by Louise Penny on Library Thing I think. I borrowed it from the library and it is wonderful. She writes so well and the story is good, the mystery intriguing and the characters fascinating.

Jane is a wonderful, kind, and loving person. But she’s dead and probably not by accident.

Clara is kind and smart, Myrna knows people, Ruth is mean and bitter, Olivier and Gabri are glib, Peter loves Clara, Ben is in need of some guidance. Then officer Nichol who needs a wallop up side the head.

“He wondered whether Clara would have been like this had he died. And he realised that, had he died in the woods, Clara would have had Jane to comfort her. And Jane would have known what to do. In that instant a door opened for Peter. For the first time in his life he asked what someone else would do. What would Jane do if she was here and he was dead? And he had his answer.”

There is a wonderful view of a town with many people moving at a slower pace but still growing and changing and becoming more, while others are living “still” lives, waiting for someone to save them. I like inspector Gamanche and will read more of the books in this series. I’d like to spend more time in Three Pines.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Soul Collectors by Charles Quince

The Soul Collectors


Charles Quince

Book Description: " In a small town of Maysville, students from Williams College have been experiencing the strangest phenomena. Some are drawn to the strange old couple who live in the creepy house. Others are coaxed. But some rush there, believing that it's the chance of a lifetime.

"Now, what is it that you want to know?" Winston asked, settling into the chair opposite her.

"Well," Hope responded, "I will be graduating from college at the end of this semester, and I want to know what lies ahead for me."

"Then let's find out." Winston said. He peered intently into the glass ball set in the center of the table. The glass was murky, as if filled with smoke. He slowly rubbed it with his hands. In a low soft voice, he said "I can see that you want to be successful, more successful than everyone around you."

Hope frowned. "What's wrong with that? Look, I want to know exactly what lies ahead of me." Hope said. "I want to know what I need to do."

Why let fate decide your future, when you can shape your own destiny?"

The Soul Collectors is a novella of 84 pages by Charles Quince that I wish had been a lot longer. It was a story of good and evil, shaping your own future and how it affects you and those around you. It was a chilling story but written almost in a stream of consciousness style with abrupt changes of view which made it a little difficult to follow at first.

Find out what happens when you can rewrite the events of the day to suit your needs or have the money you need magically appear in your wallet or slow the aging process. The repercussions are deadly.

Thank you to Bostick communications and Charles Quince for sending me the book.

Pages: 84
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Released: January 16, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Angel's Game


Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Front Flap: "The Angel's Game is a dazzling novel that brings us back to the unique and mysterious world of The Shadow of the Wind--and is certain to be one of the most talked about and widely read books of the year. In the turbulent and surreal Barcelona of the 1920's, David Martin, a young novelist obsessed with forbidden love, receives an offer from an enigmatic publisher to write a book like no other before--a book for which "people will live and die." In return, he is promised a fortune and, perhaps, much more. Soon, David begins to see frightening parallels between the book he's been commissioned to write and an old religious manuscript retrieved from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Meanwhile, David's ethereal publisher's sinister scope of influence begins to encroach more and more upon his own life."

Since I hadn't read The Shadow on the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I really didn't know what to expect. It is an interesting story, but dark, full of mysterious and supernatural happenings, obsession and murder. 17 year old David Martin's desire was to be a writer. The editor of the newspaper gave him his first break by having him write a fictional crime story for the newspaper. When he is 20, he is hired to write penny dreadfuls (lurid serial stories) under a pseudonym. From the money he makes from writing the dreadfuls, he rents a huge, abandoned house called the Tower House. When he first enters the home, it looks like someone had simply walked out, abandoning it in the middle of drinking coffee and reading. No one had ever bother to clean out the house and it seems frozen in time.

He falls in love with the bookstore owner's daughter. But she falls for and married his mentor Pedro Vidal. She talks David into rewriting Pedro's current book because it is a disaster and she wants him to be happy. David nearly kills himself from exhaustion working on both his book and Pedro's book and ends up with a brain tumor. When his book and Pedro's are published at the same time, Pedro's is a best selling hit and his book, panned and left to rot in the warehouse.

Through the years, he had been getting mysterious notes from a publisher, Andreas Corelli, editor of Editions de la Lumiere. When he finally breaks down and visits with Corelli, the man promises him all he could possibly want if he will write a book that people with live and die for. David finds himself inexplicably healed from the brain tumor, but while writing the book, life takes a dark turn. The body count starts rising, people start acting nuts, mysterious things happen, there is something evil about the house and David life and soul is in danger. It is a very, very, very interesting story, so chilling at times it gave me goose bumps. I will definitely be reading Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind at some point.Highly recommended.

Just to give you a sense of the story, an excerpt from chapter one, the first two paragraphs.

"A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood, and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.

My first time came one faraway day in December 1917. I was seventeen and worked at The Voice of Industry, a newspaper which had seen better days and now languished in a barn of a building that had once housed a sulphuric acid factory. The walls still oozed the corrosive varpour that ate away at furniture and clothes, sapping the spirits, consuming even the soles of shoes. The newspaper's headquarters rose behind the forest of angels and crosses of the Pueblo Nuevo cemetery; from afar, its outline merged with the mausoleums silhouetted against the horizon--a skyline twilight of scarlet and black above Barcelona."

"The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was just released in the United States as of June 16, 2009. Thank you for Shelf Awareness, Doubleday and Carlos Ruiz Zafon for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. For more about the book and the author, go to The Angels Game.

Pages: 544
Publisher: Doubleday
Released: First U.S. edition - June 16, 2009
Genre: historical fiction

Other thoughts about the book:

Chris at Book-o-rama:
"The Angel's Game is dripping in atmosphere. It's Super Gothic, an old-fashioned creepy tale. I felt like I was in the 1920s. I could feel the buildings hovering over me, see the dark streets and alleyways as I read."

Seth of The Book Catapult:
"therein lies the brilliance to this novel - the questions abound, yet Ruiz Zafon never insults the reader by stooping so low as to fully, categorically explain the answers. You are left to find your own way out of the labyrinth - a pleasant fate for a reader to have to face."

Kristen at We Be Reading:
"Just as I thought would happen, once I started reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón's new novel, The Angel's Game, I couldn't put it down."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Duty and Desire

Duty and Desire
rating: B

Wow, that title sounds like a bodice ripper. It's not, I promise. This is the 2nd installment in A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. This was a great book, but not when put in the context of the Pride and Prejudice story. Basically, this story is filler for a span of time in Jane Austen's original where we aren't privy to Darcy's goings-on. The plot has nothing to do with the Pride and Prejudice storyline whatsoever, though it is a good read. Pamela Aiden's Darcy seemed very much like the Darcy Austen fans know and love, she captured him well in the first book. This Darcy seemed like a different character. A fine character, but not the same. I'm hoping for a return to the original in the 3rd and final book.

This is book #19 for me, so I'm running behind. Time to catch up!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife

I read a few reviews of The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman and they all made it sound like an interesting and well-written book. It is a true story, based on diaries and other sources, told from the perspective of a couple that managed the Warsaw zoo before WWII. The war and German invasion put an end to the zoo, but they found various ways to keep the property used and busy so they could use it as a major part of the Underground and a place to hide many Jews as they helped them escape the Nazis.

It is a nonfiction book with good historical detail that the author includes and the research she has done. She explains many of her sources throughout the book when she uses a journal or story told by someone who lived in Warsaw at the time. But it is written much like a novel in that she doesn’t footnote you to death or have sharp breaks between subjects. The format works wonderfully! It is so easy to read and moving in how she conveys the environment, the people, and the struggles.

I think the story is a great way to learn about the history of WWII, the people involved, the ideologies proposed. It was scary how much of what the Nazis believed is still with us today.

Including the love and care and Antonina’s empathy with the animals added another emotional level to the story. What the animals struggled with – the fear and disruption and moving to new places or being killed for gratuitous entertainment matches what the Jews and other people experienced.

Catching up, Weeks 17 through 25...

Just so you know, I've been happily reading a book per week. Just haven't had the energy to post reviews. (Remember that whole post-medieval world burnout thing? Still...burning.) So here's a massive mini-review:

Week 17: Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife. Really? Seriously??? A top ten book from Time, People, and Entertainment Weekly? A New York Times Notable Book? She's a good writer (I loved Prep), but this is just plain sloppy. Completely unbelievable characterization and motivation. Writing means you're supposed to ENTER INTO the psyches of people you loathe, not just caricature them and then pat yourself on the back.

Week 18: John Sedgwick, In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness & Desire in an American Family. Promising study of the hereditary tendency to manic-depressive disorders, bogged down by way too much irrelevant detail and far too much worshipping of one's Mayflower-disembarking ancestors.

Week 19: Stephen Fry, Moab is my Washpot. Recommended by a blogger who posted on this site. Fascinating: I'm guessing that nothing, from home education to board-school-privilege, erases that out-of-place feeling of unbelonging. (See Prep, which, like Fry's book and unlike American Wife, was actually insightful.) Fry reminds me that this discomfort always co-exists with creativity.

Week 20: Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book. I hate it when I get invested in a first-person narrator and then am suddenly jerked into a third-person perspective. Stuck with this book and enjoyed it, but I still wish the narrative strategy had been different.

Week 21: G. K Chesterton, The Secret of Father Brown. Haven't read this for years; popped it back onto my to-read pile for nostalgia's sake. Here's Father Brown, explaining how he solves murders:
I don't try to get outside the man. I try to get inside the murderer. Indeed it's much more than that, don't you see? I am inside a man. I am always inside a man, moving his arms and legs; but I wait till I know I am inside a murderer, thinking his thoughts, wrestling with his passions; till I have bent myself into the posture of his hunched and peering hatred; till I see the world with his bloodshot and squinting eyes, looking between the blinkers of his halfwitted concentration; looking up the short and sharp perspective of a straight road to a pool of blood. Till I am really a murderer....No man's really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he's realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery and sneering, and talking about 'criminals,' as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he's got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he's squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees.
Curtis Sittenfeld, are you listening?

Week 22: Kathryn Harrison, The Mother Knot. Like Sedgwick's book, a potentially fascinating study of mental pain, made less interesting by its intensely personal nature; not too many points of contact here between the narrator's journey into her individual past, and anyone else's. Perhaps this is the nature of writing about mental illness: that it is almost impossible to connect yourself with a pain that might be larger than yourself?

Week 23: Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. Disproves the statement above. Sweeping, painful, empathetic, real.

Week 24: Charles Barber, Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation. Blanket statements, unsupported suppositions, sweeping generalizations, and just plain fuzzy thinking. Skip it.

Week 25: Sophie Kinsella, Shopaholic and Baby. Oh, shut up, I was tired and it was fun. Also I kept trying to read Karen Joy Fowler's Wit's End and never got past the first chapter. Might try again next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Week 24 - Book 25

Book A Week in 2009: Week 24 - Book 25

Today is the start of Week 24 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 25. Which means we are almost halfway towards our goal of reading 52 books for the year.

There are some interesting weekly events to get involved with in the blogosphere

Amy of Hope is the Word is hosts this weekly event on Thursdays and it is a place where you can share your favorite family read-alouds and read about others.

Rebecca at Lost in Books is hosting a new weekly event that readers of global literature will love. Take Me Away Saturday is all about books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures. Rebecca writes:
Each week I will feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit and a list of the specific cultures...

Saturday, June 13, 2009


WEEK 23 - BOOK 24

I read 2 books this week. They were both short books. "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter was one. The other one is:

"Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume

(from the inside flap)
Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She's just moved from new York City to Farbrook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends--Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.
But none of them can believe Margaret doesn't have a religion, and that she isn't joining the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don't know is that Margaret has her own special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything--family, friends, even Philip Leroy, the best-looking boy in sixth grade.

This is a very heart warming story of a young girl growing up. Margaret and her family is settling into their new house in a new town. She makes a friend right away. At the beginning of school they get a new teacher, a man teacher, which has them all giggling and wondering. These four girls form a club and they have things they have to do and talk about. The boy book is one. They have to list boys and talk about them. They also have to tell when they get their periods and when they get to wear bra's. The one thing that is different about Margaret is she doesn't have a specific religion like the other girls. But Margaret does talk to God. So Margaret decides to check out some of the other religions of her friends and her grandmother. This all comes about as a school project that is suppose to take the whole school year. Margaret has to make a report, but she can't. So she writes a letter to her teacher.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mini Reviews

Time for some mini book Reviews

On a Pale Horse ( Book one of Incarnations of Immortality) by Piers Anthony. I first read this series back when it was published in 1986. It definitely had stood the test of time and is just as entertaining and interesting as it was then. Zane mistakenly kills the incarnation of Death and must take over his role.

Visions in White is book 1 in a new series The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. The series is about childhood friends Parker, Emma, Laurel and Mackenzie, The founder of Vows, one of Connecticuts premier wedding planning companies. Book 1 is all about Mackenzie. Vintage Roberts.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians # 1) by Rick Riordan. First time author read of young adult book about Percy who discovers his father is the Greek God Poisedon. Poisedon supposedly stole Zeus's lightning bolt and Percy must go on a mission to return the bolt or the wrath of the Gods will fall upon mankind. Entertaining read for young adults.

Inside Out by John Ramsey Miller. First time author read of suspense thriller and very well done. U.S. Marshall Winter Massey is hired to protect a contract killer (and his wife) who is a federal witness against mob boss Sam Manelli. The bodies pile up and there is a mole in the department. A killer is on the loose, the wife knows something and is on the run and someone is trying to take out Winter. Very thrilling story and well worth the read. Look forward to reading "Side by Side" next.

Thread of Fear by Laura Griffin -- book 3 in the Glass Sister's Series. Romantic suspense novel about Fiona Glass who is a forensic Artist who no longer likes her job. She is the best in the business and in high demand. She becomes involved in Jack Bowman's case and he fights to keep her out of it before she gets hurt. Great ending to series.

French Bred by Frederic Guarino

French Bred
(E book)


Frederic Guarino

Book Description: "Frédéric was a perfectly normal French boy. He lived on the outskirts of Paris, in a countryside setting, and his life seemed destined to be a quiet, predictable ride if you were willing to ignore a reasonably dysfunctional family, dangerous and colorful friends, a gorgeous English teacher, a near-paralytic attitude toward women on a romantic level, no self-confidence to speak of, and a habit of letting himself be dragged into twisted situations. Through the French school system, family vacations, beauty school, military service, complicated border crossings, wedding plans, and a ludicrously long trail of failed attempts at relationship, he remained barely sane enough to forge his own opinions on what, how, and why the French do the things they do. In this series of essays, he reaffirms or decries stereotypes, presents the pros and cons of the French lifestyle, but also shows that not all French men are smooth, sophisticated, or have all the answers about the female gender. However, if you’d rather read about car sickness, moped accidents, German flatulence, foul-mouthed grannies, beach side mishaps, tanks, or the wrong way to marry the right girl, you’re in luck! This book does that too."

"French Bred" by Frederic Guarino is a humorous, irreverent look into his life from boyhood through the beginnings of finding himself married to an absolutely normal woman and thinking himself the luckiest man in life. You'll laugh, cry, and cringe while reading all about his exploits. But you'll appreciate your normal family even more after reading about his dysfunctional, but loving family. I normally don't read e-books, but when Mr. Guarino asked if I would be interested in reviewing his book, I jumped at the opportunity to learn about the french from a Frenchman's point of view. It was interesting to say the least. However, since I didn't have the desire to read a 400 page book on the computer, ended up printing it off to read at my leisure. It was worth the extra effort. Thank you Mr. Guarino for giving me the opportunity to read your book.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Week 23 - Book 24

Book A Week in 2009: Week 23 - Book 24

Today is the start of Week 23 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 24.Which means we are almost halfway towards our goal of reading 52 books for the year.

There are so many interesting lists out there to pick books from. I recently discovered the New York Times Best Seller Lists from the 1950's until the present.

Here is the list for June 11, 1950

  1. THE CARDINAL by Henry Morton Robinson
  2. THE WALL by John Hersey.
  3. STAR MONEY by Kathleen Winsor.
  4. JUBILEE TRAIL by Gwen Bristow
  5. THE EGYPTIAN by Mika Waltari
  6. WAIT FOR TOMORROW by Robert Wilder
  7. THE PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE by Ernest Gebler
  8. HOMEWARD BORNE by Ruth Chatterton
  9. SLEEP TILL NOON by Max Shulman
  11. THE HORSE'S MOUTH, by Joyce Cary
  12. THE TOWN by Conrad Richter
  13. MAIN LINE by Livingston Biddle
  14. THE FEAST by Margaret Kennedy
  15. THE OTHER FATHER by Laura Z. Hobson
  16. THE PARASITES by Daphne du Maurier
Time to go on a treasure hunt and see how many books on the list you can find. Good Luck.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane


Katherine Howe

Released June 9, 2009

Front Flap: "Connie Goodwin should be spending her summer doing research for her PhD dissertation in American History. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she's compelled to help. One day, while exploring the dusty bookshelves in the study, Connie discovers an ancient key, and within the key is a brittle slip of paper with two words written on it: Deliverance Dane. Along with a handsome steeplejack names Sam, Connie begins to research Deliverance Dane. But even as the pieces fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of long ago, and she fears that she is more tied to Salem's dark past that she could have ever imagined."

"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" by Katherine Howe is a fascinating mix of the the past and present, taking you back to the 1600's and the times of the witch trials and the present day in which Connie, in the midst of trying to write her dissertation, must also unravel the mystery of Deliverance Dane. She moves into her grandmother's old house with no electricity, air conditioning or telephone. The yard is overrun with wild herbs and plants including several poisonous plants including belladonna and mandrake. The kitchen is full of bottles and jars of all kinds of herbs. Mixed in amidst the recipes cards are cards with spells written upon them.

As her research progresses, Connie is determined to find a physick book that has been passed and sold from person to person and is considered a book of extraordinary power. Her advisor is acting oddly and at first thinks her search for this Deliverance Dane is standing in the way of writing her dissertation, then he has an about face and encourages her to uncover as much information as possible and find the book.

Mix in the history of the Salem witch trials, plus the twists and turns as Connie discovers more about her family history, plus mix in a bit of a romance with Sam the steeplejack, and you have the makings of a very interesting and engaging story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and given the fact that the author is related to Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe who were both accused of witchcraft back during the 1600 witch trials, it is educational as well. Highly recommended.

My thanks to Shelf Awareness for sending me the book.

Pages: 384
Publisher: Hyperion
Released: June 9, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction

Other thoughts:

Margot of Joyfully Retired:
"I’ve had the most amazing experience in reading this book. I read it as part of the First Look Book Club with Barnes and Noble. With this bookclub we read the book over a four week period. It is suggested that members stay with the schedule and read just so much each week. My problem was that I didn’t want to stop reading and then I got to a point where I wanted to go in slow motion. I didn’t want the book to end. I’m going to confess right now that this is one of my favorite books of the year. This isn’t going to be a negative review. So be prepared."

Kim of I Smell Books:
"I thoroughly enjoyed the story - there was a perfect combination of mystery, suspense, history, intrigue, magic and even a little romance."

"Howe’s strength is in creating character and when Connie discovers her previously unknown talents of healing, I believed it. Connie’s strained relationship with her new-age mother Grace had me smiling and nodding. And as the novel progressed, I found myself eager to learn the secrets and uncover the mystery surrounding Connie’s family."

Devourer of Books:
"This was an incredibly enjoyable story, although it wasn’t as much historical fiction as I thought it would be, most of the action took place in the present with the flashbacks distributed among three generations of women. Historical fiction or not, though, this was a book that made me really want to just stay home from work and read. I then proceeded to take the book on my errands with me and whip it out every time I had at least a 2 minute waiting period.

Monday, June 8, 2009


"Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood
(from the inside flap)
In the astonishing new novel by the author of the bestsellers The Robber Bride, Cat's Eye, and The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood takes us back in time and into the life and mind of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteeth cenury. Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, the wealthy Thomas Kinnear, and of Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistres. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence after a stint in Toronto's lumatic asylum, Grace herself claims to have no memory of the murders.
Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story, from her family's difficult passage out of Ireland into Canada, to her time as a maid in Thomas Kinnear's household. As he brings Grace closer and closer to the day she cannot remember, he hears of the turbulent relationship between Kinnear and Nancy Momtgomery, and of the alarming behavior of Grace's fellow servant, James McDermott. Jordan is drawn to Grace, but he is also baffled by her. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories! Is Grace a female fiend, a bloodthirsty femme fatale! Or is she a victim of circumstances?

As I said before, this was a really hard book for me to read. The whole book is of Grace telling her story from the time she leaves Ireland. She is telling Dr. Jordan her life story. I must admit it got kind of boring along the way. But about 1/2 way through it kind of picked up and I really wanted to find out what happened to Grace, Dr. Jordan, Jamie(who is a young man who testified against Grace at her trial and was employed by Thomas Kinnear), and of course Jeremiah, the peddler. If you happen to read this book, don't give up on it. It gets better!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Living A Charmed Life

Living a Charmed Life

A guide to finding magic in every
moment of every day


Victoria Moran

Book Flap: "Bestselling author Victoria Moran's Living a Charmed Life presents fifty action inspiring essays that show us how to custom craft our very own blessed lives. Covering topics such as living richly, staying close to what makes you come alive, and being completely, utterly yourself, Moran emphasizes that this kind of happiness is possible for anyone of any age in any circumstance.

Living a charmed life is your birthright, one that you can start to claim as soon as you take to heart--and put into action--the practical and spiritual tips you'll find here. These lucky charms, honed from Victoria's own life experiences, will elevate your attitude, change the way you see yourself, and help you to improve every aspect of your life including your health, relationships, finances, and peace of mind--even in challenging times.

In this fresh, inspiring book, Victoria Moran gives you the tools and techniques you need to start living your own charmed life now."

I'm generally not a fan of self help books but when Caitlin of FSB Associates asked if I would like to review Victoria's book, I said yes. "Living a Charmed Life", written by inspirational speaker and certified life coach, Victoria Moran, gives you practical advice and suggestions for living a better life. Surprisingly enough, I discovered I already use most of the tips suggested, such as - be yourself, positive affirmations, savor your alone time, think positively, not feeling guilty, just be in the moment whether you are washing dishes or exercising. Also tidbits about detoxing your body and your life, The 50 chapters are short essays of about 3 to 5 pages and include personal tidbits about Victoria's life and how she incorporates living a charmed life.

Other suggestions that I hadn't thought about- Adding a splash of red to your life, whether it be clothes, home or office.

"Red is the charmed-life color because it lets the world know that you're here and that you deserve some attention."

or write yourself a life list of things you want to do and refer to it often. She quotes a favorite author of mine, Napoleon Hill who wrote "Think and Grow Rich" who said "If you can conceive it, you can achieve it."

Similar to a bucket list of things you want to do before you die.

"Adair (her daughter) had stumbled onto the phenomenon of the life list, a document stating all the things you want to do, see, and learn during the rest of your time on earth. On one level, it's a plan of action, but there is a metaphysical dimension to it as well. 'There's power in putting what you want on paper: it sets your intention, makes it concrete,' says life coach Barbara Biziou, author of The Joy of Ritual. 'A life list is also a direct communication with Spirit because it's a way to put out clear energy. You can only get help when you're clear about what you want." (pg 122-123)

If you need some inspiration in finding a bit of magic in the everyday moments in life, check out Victoria Moran's "Living a Charmed Life." Also check out her blog at Belief net for some daily inspiration. Thank you Caitlin for providing the review copy.

Pages: 272
Publisher: Harper One
Released: April 28, 2009
Genre: Motivational

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

The Alchemyst

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel


Michael Scott

Back Cover: "The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects--The book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only one with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time."

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott is an enjoyable, entertaining read. When 15 year old twins Sophie and Josh decide to stay with their aunt in San Francisco, instead of joining their parents in Utah on a dig, little do they know what adventure is in store for them. They take jobs right across the street from each other: Sophie in a coffee shop and Josh in a bookstore owned by Nick and Peggy Fleming. The action starts at the very beginning when Sophie notices strangely dressed men appear and enter the bookshop. Suddenly she is smelling the over powering smell of peppermint and rotten eggs. John Dee has come for The Book which is a text of ancient wisdom. However, his plans are thwarted when even though he manages to get the book, Josh somehow in the fight grabs hold of the last two pages of the book and unbeknownest to Dee, tears them out of the book.

When Dee discovers the pages are missing, the search is on and Nicholas, Josh, Sophie are on the run, trying to stay ahead of Dee. Nicholas recognizes that the twin are all part of the prophecy and he must do everything he can, not only to recover the book, but find a way to awaken the twins powers. Plus, the book contains an immortality potion that Nicholas and his wife must make and drink each month or they will age and die.

John Dee enlists the aid of the crow goddess, Morrigan, the cat goddess Bastet and battles Nicholas, Josh and Sophie who have the aid of a centuries old Scathath and Hekate, the three faced goddess. It is a battle royale between good and evil.

I love well written, young adult novels, especially if they are entertaining, engaging and imaginative, without all the bloods, guts, gore, and swearing. Makes for a good clean story. "The Alchemyst" is a young adult novel and very well written. The characters are well drawn, the story exciting and engaging with many elements from mythology brought to life. I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in the series: Book 2 - "The Magician" (released April 2009) and Book 3 - "The Sorceress," which will be released on June 25th.

Pages: 400
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Released: May 22, 2007
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Other thoughts about the book

Mrs. Magoo Reads:
Before reading this book, I thought it would be both corny and strange. I was wrong about both. Michael Scott told his story very well, and got a sense of urgency across to the reader. Besides the magic part of the novel, it felt very real, as if any second this could actually happen, and I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, cheering the twins on, more often than not."

The Ya Ya Ya's:
"The Alchemyst although not quite as sophisticated as the Harry Potter series has a definite draw with its infusion of ancient folklore turned into a real life adventure."

Valentina's Room:
"The story is full of action, magic and dangerous situations. Just think that it happens in only 48 hours and it's the first chapter of a series of books, So even if we're provided with an ending, we don't have all the answers and we should be prepared to see at least other two books."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Week 22 - Book 23

Book A Week in 2009: Week 22 - Book 23

Today is the start of Week 22 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 23.Which means we are almost halfway towards our goal of reading 52 books for the year.

There are so many different challenges out there, prompting ideas for different books to read and to help us reach our goals. A very interesting challenge I came across is the

Take A Chance Challenge

Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here is hosting her first challenge. The Take A Chance Challenge is "all about taking chances in your reading." Jenners writes:
There are 10 tasks in all -- 7 involve finding a book to read in very random ways. The last three tasks are about taking chances as a writer as you are challenged to take on the role of short story writer, poet and movie/book reviewer. The challenge is meant to be fun and no pressure. Complete as many or a few of the 10 challenges as you want. However, the more you complete, the more chances you'll get to win the grand prize.
The rules:
  • One winner will be drawn on December 1, 2009 and will receive a grand prize of $25 worth of books from Amazon (any books you choose!)
  • Each completed task earns you one entry into the drawing for the grand prize.
  • To earn an extra entry, blog or Tweet about this challenge and let Jenners know in the comment section on the post about the challenge.
  • To earn 5 extra entries, complete all 10 challenges.
  • The total number of entries that can be earned is 16 (10 for each challenge, 5 for completing all tasks and 1 for blogging/tweeting about the challenge).
  • You can join the challenge anytime before the November 30 deadline but only tasks completed by November 30, 2009 will be counted as entries.
  • To have your entries count, you must publish them on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your entries in the comment section on the post about the challenge.
  • All participants must sign up in Mr. Linky on the post about the challenge.
The Tasks:
  1. Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)
  2. Random Word. Go to this random word generator and generate a random word. Find a book with this word in the title. Read the book and write about it.
  3. Birth Year Book. Find a book that was published or copyrighted in the year of your birth. Read the book and write about it.
  4. Judge A Book By Its Cover. Pick out a book based SOLELY on the cover. First, write about what you expect the book to be about based on the cover art. Then read the book and write about how the book was different from and/or similar to what the cover art led you to expect.
  5. Phoning An Author. Pick a random last name out of the phone book. Find an author with the same last name and read a book by them. Write about it. (I'm flexible ... if the first random name you pick is Xprxyrsss, you can pick again!)
  6. Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.
  7. Random Bestseller. Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2008 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.
  8. Lit Riff (inspired by the book Lit Riffs by Matthew Miele.) Choose a song and then write a brief story that is inspired by or further explains the lyrics of the song.
  9. Poetic Review. Write a book review in three different forms of verse: haiku, limerick and free verse. (You can pick any book you want to write about.)
  10. Movie/Book Comparison. Find a book that you haven't read that has a movie based on it that you haven't seen. Read the book and watch the movie within a few days of each other. Write about your reactions to both the book and the movie and compare the two.
Sound like fun? Want to join or learn more? Visit the post about the challenge.

Dred Scott's Revenge

Dred Scott's Revenge by Judge Andrew Napolitano covers an aspect of our history that I am not that familiar with.

_80_140_book47coverThis book starts with a bang. He is challenging the attitudes and actions of the founding fathers in the introduction and doesn't slow down after that. The book covers history, politics, judicial rulings, and long-term effects of each major step in our nation's path. The author offers a framework for looking at slavery and then uses that framework to show the wrong choices and bad values that kept slavery, segregation, and the view that blacks were an inferior race alive for so long in the United States.

He challenges a lot of what I learned in school and backs it up pretty well. He argues a few things that I am still not convinced about but that doesn't detract from the truth of the book. Even if I think the founding fathers had little choice if they were going to create a united country, his point is well made when it goes on for another 200 years and not only does the federal government allow the South to keep slavery/segregation, but then it starts to institutionalize it across the entire nation.

He teaches more than just racism and sees more concerns with our government's behavior than just race-related. But the arena of race is an excellent example of the issues and a subject worthy of more attention and effort.

I married a Northerner and the few times the War of Northern Agression has been raised he has pointed out that "we won that one", and if the point was to keep all the states in the union, then he's right. But if the point (as we were both taught in school) was to end slavery, then it is very obvious that the South won and really, in the end, everyone lost.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009



"The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan

(from the back cover)
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school.......again.And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

This is the first book in the series. There are 5 books in all. I love Greek Mythology books and I was thrilled when I read about this book at another book blog. I was at our school book fair a few weeks ago and they had all 5 books and I bought them all. So you will be seeing the rest of them popping up here.
Percy, Grover and Annabeth are on a quest of find the lightning bolt. Along the way they run into several bad people the the God's have sent, but which God it doing all this? That is the question of the day. Percy starts out at Half Blood Camp, a place for kids that have a mother or father for a God. There Percy meets Annabeth and several other campers. Percy has killed the Minotaur that killed his mother. He is hurt and taken to the camp to recover. This leads to his visit with The Oracle. And sends him on his quest!