Sunday, May 31, 2009

Most Wonderful, Favorite Award

52 books in 52 weeks has been awarded the "Most Wonderful, Favorite" award by Sunflower Ranch.

The award is for

"These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

Sunflower Ranch says "These bloggers reflect all sorts of view points and interests. I love to read all of them! I've enjoyed their creativity and talent -- every opinion and comment is delivered with passionate sincerity. The writing is outstanding! That's what draws me to them. Thank you very much, Sunflower Ranch for honoring our blog. It is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Week 21 - Book 22

Week 21 - Book 22

Today is the start of Week 21 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 22.Which means we are over 1/3 of the way towards reading 52 books for the year.

Need a good book to read - 5 Minutes for Books is hosting "What's On Your Nightstand - May."

Can't go to the Book Expo this year. Rebecca of The Book Lady's Blog is hosting a BEA Twitty Party.

Katrina at Callapidder Day's is having a book giveaway of Michael Connolly's "The Scarecrow."

Check out the weekly meme about books and reading at Booking Through Thursday and join in the conversation.


This is my book for Week 20

"Elephant Run" by Roland Smith

(from the back cover)
The year is 1941, and bombs are being fropped from the night sky, blanketing the city of London. When fourteen-year old Nick Freestone's apartment is demolished, his mother decides the sitution in England has grown too unstable, Nick will be safer, his mother hopes, living with his father in Burma on the family's teak plantation.
Nick arrives at the plantation eager to learn about the timber elephants raised and trained there, and also to spend time with his father. But before he can settle in, trouble erups in the remote Burmese village. Japanese soilders invade, and Nick's father is taken prisoner. Nick is stranded, forced towork as a servant to the new rulers. As llife in the village grows more dangerous for Nick and his young friend, Mya, they plan their daring escape, determined to rescue their families. But to succeed, they will have to brave not only the threat of enemy soldiers, but the dangers of their wilderness journey.

This is a book I bought at our school book fair a couple of months ago. I will admit the book cover grabbed me before I even read the back cover. This is wonderful book filled with lots of history about elephants and their mahouts, their trainers.
While Nick and Mya have to do what the Japanese solilders tell them, they have a family member, Mya's Great Grandfather, to help them out. He is a priest and is not harmed and allowed free rein of the Freestone plantation. He also knows where the secret tunnels under the house are and how to get to them. He leads Nick and Mya across the jungle to get Mya's brother and Nick's father out of the camps.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mini Reviews

Time again 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.

Re-Deal: A Time Travel Thriller


A Time Travel Thriller


Richard Turner

Back cover: "Buckle up for time travel, karate, and gambling in this action-adventure thriller. Matt McCain, a young man trying to overcome personal loss and family misfortune, and his amigo Juan, a Mexican orphan turned evangelist, are pitted against the Cyphers, a family that utilizes evil for every gain. The presence of Miss Guided, the angel who doesn't always get it right, changes them all. With more twists than a switchback trail, Re-Deal is a time traveling race against evil and misfortune. An 1882 poker showdown promises to change history forever, and Matt McCain aims to be the winner. But first he must match skills with the greatest cheaters of the Old West--from Doc Holliday to S.W. Erdnase. The players, the power, and the present all hinge on the journey back to 1882, a trip through time that Re-Deals history in a startling conclusion."

"Re-Deal: A Time Travel Thriller" is unique and interesting, very well written and amusing as well. With the help of an angel who calls herself Miss Guided, Matt and Juan travel through time in order right wrongs caused by some evil men that caused his great grandfather to lose everything. It is a battle of good and evil and a race through time with lots of tongue in cheek humor, smooth karate moves, drama, and poker. Lots of poker against world famous poker players who are very adept at cheating. One unique thing about our hero - he was blinded in a vicious attack by the bad guys and can only see out of the corners of his eyes. Life is the pits for Matt until Miss Guided's timely intervention in which he learns to protect himself, gain confidence and utilize all his senses in battling the bad guys. He uses all those senses to go against the bad guys in a battle of wits and poker. Highly recommended.

I received Re-Deal courtesy of Lillie Ammann and enjoyed every single minute of it. She had an interesting interview with angel, Miss Guided and you can find it here. Thanks Lillie for sending me the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pages: 376
Publisher: Showdown Creations
Released: March 7, 2009
Genre: Mix of action, adventure, fantasy and time travel.

Other thoughts about the book:

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide:
"It turns out that Richard’s eye sight is 4 times worse than what is considered legally blind. I thought this gave Matt’s character an added layer of realism. So if you are looking for a fun read, definitely pick this book up."

House of Dark Shadows - Robert Liparulo

House of Dark Shadows


Robert Liparulo

Back cover: "When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen year old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films...but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land. But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house. They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school. Then the really weird stuff kicks in: They find a hidden hallway with portals leadinng to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true...or his worst nightmare."

"House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book #1)" is Excellent, excellent, excellent! Thoroughly enjoyed this young adult fantasy novel by Robert Liparulo. From the very beginning of the story which starts 30 years in the past to the very end which ends in a to be continued cliff hanger, made me want to run right out and buy book # 2 "Watcher in the Woods." Unfortunately Borders didn't have it, but I did manage to pick up a few other interesting books - a tale for later. Next stop, Amazon. :)

The prologue pulls you in immediately:

"The walls of the house absorbed the woman's screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater. Still, her lungs kept pushing out cries for help. Her attacker carried her over his shoulder. The stench of his sweat filled her nostrils. He paid no head to her frantic writhing, or the pounding of her fists on his back, or even her fingernails which dug furrows into his flesh. He simply lumbered, as steadily as a freight train, through the corridors of the big house." pg 1 - 2

When the Kings move into the old Victorian house in Pinedale, weird things start happening. Xander and his little brother, David, discover a hidden corridor with many doors that seems to go on forever. And in each room is a different set of items from various periods in history. The boys find out what happens when they put on these items and unlock different doors to adventures that could be the end of them. Highly recommended.

Pages: 304
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: May 6, 2008
Genre: Young Adult fantasy/thriller

Other thoughts about House of Dark Shadows:

Bobbi of Bobbi's Book Nook:
Although this is considered a Young Adult book, adults will also enjoy the suspense and mystery this book has to offer. This is the first book I have read of Liparulo's, but it certainly won't be the last. "

Becky of Becky's Book Reviews:
"The book is action-packed. It's well paced. If you like adventures of the spooky sort. Part science fiction. Part adventure. Part mystery. It offers much to readers of almost all ages. (I'd say ten and up if I had to label it at all.)"

Rel of Relz Reviewz:
"The great descriptive writing made me feel scared for the boys and I almost felt like I was in the story. I loved how all the pieces of information fitted in at the end and completed the story (unfortunately, I can’t talk about the surprise at the end)."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Week 20 - Book 21

Week 20 - Book 21

Today is the start of Week 20 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 21 Which means we are over 1/3 of the way towards reading 52 books for the year. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what everyone is reading this week.

Book Expo America

May 29 through 31st, 2009

Javits Center - New York City

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Assembly Such as This

An Assembly Such as This
15 out of 5 stars
Wow. I loved this. I am an avid Austen fan and was prepared to hate it. I've hated other faux-Austens. The closest I've come to approving of another Austen-based work is Bride and Prejudice, a bollywood creation. It was equally wonderful, but I don't think it counts. This book takes the story of Pride and Prejudice and tells it through the eyes of Darcy. The language is well chosen and mimics the original story's style very well. The only oddly chosen addition to the story is the description of every alcoholic beverage Darcy drinks. Not that I think he needs to be a teetotaler or anything, but it is over-done. I'm pretty sure another drink is described on roughly every fifth page of the entire book. It's a minor distraction and doesn't keep the book from being wonderful. It is part of a three-volume series, so I get to enjoy at least two more books.

I'm catching up on reviews. Two other books that I really enjoyed are reviewed here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Consolations of Philosophy

I first read a book by Alain De Botton several years ago called 'How Proust Can Change Your Life'. It was at once like having a one-to-one Oxbridge tutorial and the company of a great friend. De Botton recommended devoting a year of one's life to reading Proust, savouring it word by word; using it almost as a self-help book. I went off to read Proust and time passed.

After a chance encounter with someone I hadn't seen in years and who I know has little time for me or my family (so I guess she shouldn't have been taken too seriously), I was quite shaken up by an attack by her on our choice to home-educate. My self-confidence collapsing around my ears, despite the evidence of my happy family around me, we nevertheless pottered on into a Waterstones book shop.
There I picked up De Botton's The Consolations of Philosophy. How opportune! I opened the book to read the first chapter heading, 'Consolation for Unpopularity'. De Botton's premise is that society questions whatever differs from the normal without reason, questioning anything that isn't common practice at this particular time in history or place in the world. Alain De Botton points out that what is considered normal for one society can seem outrageous to another.

How then can we judge if we are making the right decisions? We certainly cannot make decisions based on the contemporary values of society. After all the Ancient Greeks were 'sanguine about owning slaves'; there was one slave to every three free people. It is as foolish to accept the common sense of the society one lives in as it is to dismiss it for the sake of it.

De Botton sets out a way for us to test our decisions with Socratic thought:

'1. Locate a statement confidently described as common sense

2. Imagine for a moment that, despite the confidence of the person proposing it, the statement is false. Search for situations or contexts where the statement would not be true.

3. If an exception is found, the definition is false or at least imprecise.

4. The initial statement must be nuanced to take the exception into account.

5.If one subsequently finds exceptions to the improved statements, the process should be repeated. The truth, in so far as a human being is able to attain such a thing, lies in a statement which it seems impossible to disprove. It is by finding out what something is not that one comes closest to understanding what it is.

6. The product of thought is, whatever Aristophanes insinuated, superior to the product of intuition.'

[page 24]

Although it took us several years of researching the pros and cons of home education in relation to our children's needs. Let's, for the sake of those who have only read an article in the paper and have just ten minutes to make a snap judgement, look at two points about home education the quick Socratic way.

1. All children should go to school.

2. But there are exceptions: educated people that have been home-educated: Leonardo Da Vinci, Beatrix Potter, Patrick Moore, C. S. Lewis, Margaret Mead, Michael Faraday, Mary D. Leakey and of course many more, especially born in any century other than the twentieth.

3. The statement is at least imprecise.

4. Some children should go to school.

5. New statement: Perhaps a child should go to school if their parent is unable to offer them an education at home. But are there only the two options? Is the choice between 'school' as defined by contemporary society and home with the child's parents? Are there exceptions? There are certainly other ideas out there: a non-compulsory library style of education; personal tutors; flexi-schooling; apprenticeships etc.

1. Or how about the premise 'There is one correct curriculum that all children should follow. A curriculum that is so correct that we can confidently test all children for their knowledge of it.'

One that is so correct that all our future original thinkers will be detected and rewarded (even though we have, necessarily, not considered what knowledge that child will need in order to attain that original thought).

2. Other countries study their own histories, literature, language and morality. Even science is disputed according to religion or culture, adding to that the fact that we always consider our own childhood curriculum superior. Knowledge which is held to be the undisputed truth for one generation is often disproven and mocked by the next. Schools rarely use textbooks more than ten years old.

Back, then, to some consoling. The problem with the encounter with my critic was that she said something that was contrary to all the evidence I had around me: a happy, content yet highly educated young family. Alain De Botton again:

'We fail to ask ourselves the cardinal and most consoling question: on what basis has this dark censure been made? We treat with equal seriousness the objections of the critic who has thought rigorously and honestly and those of the critic who has acted out of misanthropy and envy.'[Page 30]

When we lived in Denmark I was impressed by the relaxed and attentive attitude to parenting there. Families in restaurant don't tie their children into their pushchairs but sit them with them at the table. Men are seen with their children as often as women. Babies are happily left sleeping in the fresh air in their prams outside shops, restaurants and houses. At the time of our visit a Danish lady was arrested for doing just this in New York. I am sure it never occured to her that what is good parenting in her culture it might be seen as wrong in another. I never saw a child in a pushchair facing away from their mothers. Children have cushions, blankets and toys in their cosy prams (or bicycle carriages) and can chat to their parents as they walk or cycle along. I thought how different and better I would have been as a parent if we had lived in Denmark when our children were younger. I wouldn’t have had sleepless nights over the children not attending nursery at two years old. I would have allowed them more freedom to behave like children in public places.

It surprised me to realise that I had behaved according to the norms of those around me instead of listening to my own children and their needs. I realised that if the culture changed in Britain (which it will surely do) and my grown up children questioned my parenting, it was really no excuse to say that I listened to strangers and convention before I listened to them.

‘we will best be rewarded if we strive instead to listen always to the dictates of reason’

[page 42]

We, as adults, are subject to the criticisms and anxieties of society but we have a responsibility to recognise when these pressures are ill-founded and unworthy to be passed onto the next generation.

'every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; it is indeed the case that we have no other criterion of truth or right-reason than the example and form of the opinion and customs of our own country' (Michel de Montaigne, Essays, I, 31).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson

Enemies and Allies

(The Dark Knight meets The Man of Steel)


Kevin J. Anderson

Front Flap: "Sputnik silently circles in the skies above the fabled cities of the United States as danger lurks in the Earth's darkest corners. In Gotham, the shadowy vigilante known as the Batman haunts Gotham's streets...and the police are just as afraid of this Dark Knight as the city's criminals are.

In Metropolis, the notorious Lex Luthor is leveraging international tensions to build LuthorCor into a military industrial empire, competing against his business rival Wayne Industries, which is run by Gotham's enigmatic millionaire, Bruce Wayne. Luthor's activities have raised the interest of Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, who is beginning to realize that Luthor may stop at nothing to achieve success.

At the same time, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are investigating the rumored crash of a flying saucer. Clark is desperate to know if there may be other lost interplanetary visitors on Earth secretly living amongh them--visitors like himself. When Batman's and Superman's paths cross, their lives change, and history will never be the same.

"Enemies and Allies" by Kevin J. Anderson is a fun read about two superheroes - Batman and Superman. Neither one trusts each other which makes it interesting since they both are trying to protect the people of the world. In Gotham, the Dark Knight tries to stay in the shadows and under the radar of the police. Meanwhile in Metropolis Superman operates by day and delivers the bad guys right to the police. He is considered the hero while Batman is considered a dangerous vigilante. The two must learn to trust each other when Lex Luthor threatens the world by engineering a nuclear threat in the guise of aliens, so he can come in and save the day.

Even though "Enemies and Allies" is written for adults, the book is excellent for any age level. It doesn't have any objectionable language or material that you would need to shield your child from and it is easy to read. The story reminded me of the comic book superhero stories, just without the pictures.

Thank you to Bostick Communications and Pam and Wendy of William Morrow for supplying me with a review copy of "Enemies and Allies." It is very much appreciated. And thank you to Kevin Anderson for writing such an entertaining and engaging story.

Pages: 336
Publisher: William Morrow
Released: May 5, 2009
Genre: Superhero fantasy

Other thoughts about the book:

Liviania of In Bed With Books:
"It is fun to go back to a world where Kryptonite is rare, instead of available on every street corner, in every corner you want. (I'm looking at you Smallville.) And, as I said before, the Cold War will always be a good time for these two to strut their stuff. There's detection, action, corporate struggles, and the American Way."

Warren Kelly - Blog Critics:
"But Anderson creates a believable story that comic book fans will enjoy, but that is also accessible by people who don't read comics at all. In fact, there is some danger that Enemies & Allies will become a gateway drug that introduces people to the world of comic books -- or reintroduces those who left comics behind years ago. An outstanding plot, excellent characterization (including some great cameos that comics fans will appreciate), and a gripping pace all make this book a must read."

R.J. Carter - The Trades:
"While this is mostly a Superman story with Batman thrown in (there's not a whole lot of Gotham City involvement regarding any gallery of rogues or supporting Batman characters other than Alfred), it's still a wholly enjoyable adventure, uncluttered, straightforward, and with more than enough time dedicated to each character to satisfy the fan contingent. I'm already hoping that William Morrow and Harper Collins extend Anderson's contract to further develop this vision of the characters and expand the DC Universe into this fictional new frontier."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Week 19 - Book 20

Today is the start of Week 19 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 20 Which means we are over 1/3 of the way towards reading 52 books for the year. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what everyone is reading this week.

Curious about the previous weeks.

Week 0 - Book 1
Week 1 - Book 2
Week 2 - Book 3
Week 3 - Book 4
Week 4 - Book 5
Week 5 - Book 6
Week 6 - Book 7
Week 7 - Book 8
Week 8 - Book 9
Week 9 - Book 10
Week 10- Book 11
Week 11- Book 12
Week 12 -Book 13
Week 13- Book 14

Week 14- Book 15
Week 15- Book 16
Week 16 - Book 17
Week 17 - Book 18
Week 18 - Book 19

Stiftsbibliothek st. gallen - Library in Europe

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stone's Fall by Iain Pears

Stone's Fall


Iain Pears

Back cover: "Iain Pears tells the story of John Stone, financier and arms dealer, a man so wealthy that he was able to manipulate markets, industries, and indeed entire countries and continents. A panoramic novel with a riveting mystery at its heart, Stone's Fall is a quest to discover how and why John Stone dies, falling out of a window at his London home. Chronologically it moves backward--from London in 1909, to Paris in 1890, and finally to Venice in 1867--and the quest to uncover the truth plays out against the backdrop of the evolution of high-stakes international finance, Europe's first great age of espionage, and the start of the twentieth century's arms race."

I recently discovered Iain Pears Art History mysteries, so when the opportunity to get an advance reader copy of "Stone's Fall" came up through Shelf Awareness, I didn't hesitate to request it. It is told through the view points of three men, in three different time periods and revolves around John Stone, his widow, Elizabeth Ravenscliff, and a mysterious child mentioned in Stone's Will.

In the year 1909, Matthew Braddock is hired by Elizabeth to find the child. In the course of his search, he meets numerous characters involved in Stone's life. One is Henry Cort. Henry Cort takes over the story in Part two beginning in 1890 and tells how he also became involved in the life of John Stone and Elizabeth. He tell the story of his evolution as a spy and how he played a roll in John Stone's life. He leaves a mysterious package for Braddock to open at a later point. John Stone takes over the story bringing the reader back to 1867 and how he evolved as one of the most richest and powerful men in the world. The story ends with a shocking twist that was totally unexpected.

"Stone's Fall" is told in the first person point of view of each man. Normally, first person point of view isn't my cup of tea, unless it is very well done. The impact of the tale would have been totally lost using third person point of view and the writing is excellent. Kept my attention throughout the story, which is 800 pages long. It is detailed without being boring. The characters are well written and very three dimensional and pull you into the story all the way from London to Paris to the canals of Venice.

One particular passage stood out to me when the journalist, Matthew struggled to understand finance. He recruited a friend, a banker who lived for numbers to help his decipher Stone's papers.

"He believed that the rich were better people than the poor, and that to be around them made him better as well. Wealth was both the indication of God's favour, and provided the means to carry out His wishes on earth.

"Harry Franklin, you will understand, had no trouble whatsoever in reconciling God, Darwin, and Mammon; indeed, each depended on the others. The survival of the fittest meant the triumph of the richest, which was part of His plan for mankind. Accumulation was divinely ordained, both a mark of God's favour and a way of earning more benevolence. True, Christ was a carpenter, but, had He been living in the twentieth century, Franklin was sure that the Messiah would have paid good attention to His stock levels, steadily expanded His business into the manufacture of fine furniture, while also investing in the latest methods of mass production by means of a stock market flotation to raise the additional capital. Then He would have brought in a manager to free Himself to go about His ministry."
pg 135

John Stone, himself was an interesting character who can best explain himself

"I was not intended by family, education or natural instinct for a life of, or in, industry. I still know surprisingly little about it, even though my companies own some forty factories across Europe and the Empire. I have little real idea how the best steel is smelted and have no more notion of how a submarine works. My skill lies in comprehending the nature of people and the evolution of money. The dance of capital, the harmony of a balance sheet, and the way these abstractions interact with people, their characters and desire, either as individuals or in a mass. Understand that one is the other, that they are two separate ways of expressing the same thing, and you will understand the whole nature of business." Pg 575

"Stone's Fall is full of intrigue, secrets, behind closed door plotting, murder, manipulation, and deceit. It isn't one of those stories you can read quickly or skim or you will miss a lot of detail. Highly recommended.

Pages: 800
Publisher: Spiegel and Grau
Released: May 5, 2009
Genre: Historical Mystery

Other thoughts about "Stone's Fall"

Jeremy of PhiloBiblos
Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a masterwork by one of the most ingenious and versatile writers of our time."

J.M Cornwell on Celebrity Cafe:
"In today’s world where high finance and the industrialization of capitalism are crumbling all around us, Iain Pears’s novel, Stone’s Fall, is a revelation with chilling implications. More so, it is an engrossing and mind-bending story that moves backward and forward through time with ease and familiarity. "

Robert Weibezahl of Bookpage Fiction:
From the first page of Stone's Fall, the reader is immersed in a remarkably well-plotted story, rich in detail, elegantly told."

Thursday, May 7, 2009


"The Woman Who Rides Like A Man" by Tamora Pierce

(from the back of the book)
Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortal. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death--either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe's first female shaman--despite the desert dweller's grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes--for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall.

This is book 3 of 4 of the series Alanna: The first Adventure. Alanna wanted to be a knight instead of going to court and marrying a nobleman. So Alanna hides her identity and goes off to become a knight. She passes her test to become a knight. After she kills her arch enemy Duke Conte', her identity as girl becomes known. Alanna leave Tortal to find adventure.
She finds her adventure with the Bizar tribe people. She must prove herself worthy of becoming one of the tribe. She also has someone there who thinks she is evil because of her magic. The Shaman of Bizar wants to kill Alanna. But Alanna kills the Shaman, thus opening the way for her to become the tribe Shaman. She takes three outcasts and teaches them the magic and they become Shaman's. During all this Prince Jon comes to the Bazir tribe to become The Voice of Bizir Tribe. He also asks Alanna to marry him. Alanna is not ready to marry and Jon goes back home to court someone else. Alanna is sent to find a friend of headman of the Bizar and finds her next adventure. That will be Book 4.

For Week 16


"A Carribbean Mystery" by Agatha Christie

(from the front flap)
Miss Marple is on a holiday at the Golden Palm Hotel in the island of St. Honore, She is enjoying herself, yet there is something lacking. At home in St. Mary mead there was always something going on, something one could get one's teeth into.
Miss Marple listens politely to Major Palgrave's boring stories of his early life in Kenya--or at any pretends to listen. She is not paying much attention when he starts telling her about a murderer he has know and when he reaches in his wallet to show Miss Marple a snapshot of that murderer, he is suddenly interrupted. Murder follows.

This is a wonderful and mysterious book my Agatha Christie! Really good! Miss Marple has to figure out why Major Palgrave's is murdered. Then an employee of the hotel is murdered. You have some romance and some cheating of husband and wives. And then there is another murder that wasn't suppose to be. It was a mistake. Miss Marple finally figures it out just in time to save the original intended victim. As usual I didn't pick up on the clues and did not guess who it was.

For Week 15

Week 18 - Book 19

Today is the start of Week 18 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 19. Which means we are over 1/3 of the way towards reading 52 books for the year. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what everyone is reading this week.

Curious about the previous weeks.

Week 0 - Book 1
Week 1 - Book 2
Week 2 - Book 3
Week 3 - Book 4
Week 4 - Book 5
Week 5 - Book 6
Week 6 - Book 7
Week 7 - Book 8
Week 8 - Book 9
Week 9 - Book 10
Week 10- Book 11
Week 11- Book 12
Week 12 -Book 13
Week 13- Book 14

Week 14- Book 15
Week 15- Book 16
Week 16 - Book 17
Week 17 - Book 18

Something I discovered recently is Book TV on C-span. Nonfiction authors are featured every weekend from Saturday 8:00 A.M. through Monday 8:00 A.M ET.

For instance:

Saturday, May 9th

3:00 PM54 minHistory
No Sense of Decency: The Army-McCarthy Hearings - A Demagogue Falls and Television Takes Charge of American Politics
Author: Robert Shogan
4:00 PM52 minHistory
Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of World War II
Author: Christopher Catherwood

Sunday, May 10th

1:00 PM1 hr, 16 minPolitics
Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right
Author: Richard Rothstein
2:15 PM58 minPolitics
Nice Work if You Can Get It
Author: Andrew Ross
3:15 PM46 minPolitics
Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America
Author: Julia Angwin

These are just the tip of the iceberg and you can find the full schedule on the website. So, set your DVR's, Vcr's or take some time to sit down and watch some interesting and educational book TV.

Monday, May 4, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I don’t remember ever reading this book. I have vague memories of seeing the movie, but couldn’t really remember the plot. Now that I’ve finished it, it seems familiar but I suspect that is more the comfortable writing style, since none of it seemed familiar while I was reading it.

Quick plot recap. The narrator is Scout Finch who is almost 6 at the time the story starts. She spends most of her time with her brother Jem, who is almost 10 when the story starts. We watch their story over about 4 years. Their father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer. They live in a small town in Alabama and it is 1930 so they are experiencing the Depression. We meet the neighbors on their street, but we don’t get to meet Arthur (Boo) Radley. Years ago he got into a scrape with the law and his father said if the judge let him come home he would never get in trouble again. He didn’t, because he didn’t come out of the house again. The way Scout tells the story, that wasn’t the best thing his father could have done for him. But, the Radley’s don’t come out or socialize so it might have happened to him even if he hadn’t gotten in trouble.

After spending half the book, and a few years, introducing the characters and giving us a good feel for the town and the people and the way of life, we move into the action. A black man has been accused of raping a white woman and Atticus has been assigned as his defense counsel. This being 1930 and a black man, there are some people who don’t see any need to wait for a trial. Others are fine with going through the motions of a trial but they wonder why Atticus is bothering to actually defend him. During the actual trial is is pretty obvious that the woman and father who brought the charges have lied about what happened, but the jury can’t take the word of a black man over that of a white man.

Even though the black man is convicted and then dies trying to escape prison, the white man who started this realizes he has been made a fool of and swears to get back at Atticus, the judge, and others he feels participated in shaming him. All of this culminates with an attack on Scout and Jem, but they survive, and Scout meets Boo Radley.

I love the book! I laughed so much during the early chapters where Scout is talking about going to school or playing with her brother. I found their fascination with Boo Radley interesting, and could see where playing out the scenes would help them understand it a bit more. The neighbors seem just right, those who gossip and judge, and those who love and are so tender. Atticus is a good father, helping his children to learn the right lessons.

The prejudice is well displayed, so that it seems believable but still stands out as unacceptable. I’m not saying I could never be like that, but in this day and age the overt racism is very obvious and disturbing. The point of view of the 6 year old is great, because Scout has a peculiar blend of innate culture from her surroundings with a child’s honest belief that there aren’t differences. She doesn’t really question the adults, but she doesn’t agree with them or even understand them.

The scene with the Missionary Society was so well done - at first I was thinking how interesting to care so much about others in a foreign land and not the poor or black here, but then the comments are so pointed that it becomes clear that the patronizing superiority is applied to everyone who isn’t “like us” whether they are in another country or right here in town.

That is one aspect that was raised, and I have run into it in other period pieces lately by LM Montgomery - the concept of groups or castes of people. It was interesting watching Jem try to decipher what put someone in one group or another, since it isn’t exactly clear whether it’s longevity as owner of a plot of land, or being literate, or what.

The book is also a Christian book, showing the difference between those who live it and those who just spout it. I found the venom that the legalistic group put out toward the kind and wise woman who loved flowers to be very telling.

My younger nephew is reading this in school and he says the book is boring. I wonder if they are doing something wrong in the school or if this is really just lost on someone his age. I found it laugh-out-loud funny, suspenseful, and convicting. But not boring!

I also realized, while writing this review, that the book is written in the first person. It is so well done that I never flinched at that, it just seemed natural. But it is difficult to do and many others who have tried it shouldn’t have.