Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a wonderful and magical Christmas day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

Ever wonder about Jacob Marley, the reason why Scrooge is visited the three spirits and his soul is saved? Here is the story of what happened with Marley and why he was able to offer Scrooge the chance he did.

This was really well done. It fit nicely with The Christmas Carol. It is written in the same style and tone as the Dickens' tale. The Christmas Carol is one of my favorite holiday stories and I had never really given Marley much thought. He just appeared in the story as a minor character, but really he is very important. Because he is the one who offers Scrooge the chance to redeem himself. I enjoyed reading how Marley really effected Scrooge's life and contributed to Scrooge's attitude and outlook and his overall ruthlessness. This was a wonderful addition to the Dickens' story and it is a great holiday tale.

from NetGalley

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday audio books

I've been listening to some old favorites this holiday season. Instead of doing individual posts of books I've already reviewed I thought I'd put them all here.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, read by Elaine Stritch.
The Herdmans are the worst kids in town and somehow they end up mixed up in the Christmas Pageant. Everyone thinks they are going to destroy the pageant but they end up showing everyone the true meaning of Christmas.

I never read this book as a child, but the movie was a favorite growing up.  I discovered that is was based on a book within the last few years and of course I had to read it. It is as delightful as the movie and I hope that it is a favorite for my kids one day.  I like the narration of Elaine Stritch. At first it caught me off guard how much older she sounds than the narrator of the book is supposed to be. But she does such a fine job that it doesn't really matter in the end.

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, read by Dick Cavett
This is one of my favorite Christmas movies is based on a series of short stories by Jean Shepherd (who narrates the movie). Jean Shepherd is one of my favorite retrospective authors and I love his books. And all the stories contained in this compilation should sound familiar to anyone who has seen the movie. From Red Ryder and his bb gun to Grover Dill, the bully all the stories are here. It's fun listening to them and I really like Dick Cavett's voice and the sound effects that go into the audio book.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 12/19

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Anna and the French Kiss (Perkins) and Christmas in High Heels (Halliday). I'm listening to A Christmas Story (Shepherd).

Last week I read Jacob T. Marley (Bennett) and listened to The Penderwicks (Birdsall) and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Robinson). I reviewed Heavy Weather (Wodehouse) and Forever (Steifvater). 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

 The four Penderwick sisters are spending 3 weeks of their summer vacation at a cottage on the estate of Arundel.  There they find adventure and new friendship with, Jeffery, the son of Arundel's owner, Mrs. Tifton.  But Mrs. Tifton does not approve of the Penderwicks and their tendencies to get into trouble.  

This was an adorable book.  I love the Penderwicks and thought they were a delightful group of girls, from Rosalind, the oldest to Batty, the youngest.  All the girls had very distinct personalities.  Rosalind, 12, is the caring oldest sister who is beginning to like boys. Ferocious and smart Skye, 11, is next followed by aspiring author Jane, 10. And last is Batty, 4, the sweet and adorable yet trouble prone youngest.  They were all great characters and I was happy to go along with them on their summer vacation.  I also like Jeffery and thought he was a sweet boy who really needed his mother to listen to him.  Mrs. Tifton is not a likeable character but I think there might have been more dept to her character than could really be explored in a short childrens book.  That was the great thing about this book.  Even the characters who were not fully explored, i.e. most of the adults, seem to have hidden depths and a real back story. That is is so rare to find and is, I believe, the hallmark of a well written book.
6 hours, 44 minutes
Susan Denaker is the narrator and she does a delightful job of bringing the Penderwicks to life. I liked all her voices for the characters and the book was really fun to listen to on my daily commute.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Heavy Weather by P.G. Wodehouse

This installment of the Blandings Castle Saga finds the house in an uproar as usual and is a sequel to Summer Lightning. Ronnie Fish still wants to marry Sue Brown over the objections of his aunts. But when they bring his mother into the mix and Ronnie suspects Sue of being in love with someone else, it all comes crashing down.  Meanwhile, a variety of people are steal trying to steal Gally Threepwood's manuscript, some to destroy it, other to publish it.

These books are so amusing.  I really do enjoy them. They are the perfect easy and funny read when I'm in the mood for light reading. Usually Wodehouse's books are sequels but this one is for Summer Lightning. And it took me a little to remember what happened in that book, but it's not hard as Wodehouse is not meant to be complex.  I"m happy that Sue and Ronnie worked it out and Gally is really growing on me. And Lord Emsworth's obsession with the Empress of Blandings is always amusing.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) by Maggie Steifvater

Sam and Grace have been through so much together and now they face a challenge that means life or death.  Isabelle's dad has found a way to eliminate the wolves and with Grace still shifting, it becomes imperative that Sam, Cole, and Isabelle find a way to save the wolves.

This was a great ending to this series. I was actually expecting a much sadder ending.  While it was sad enough that I cried, it was still hopeful and I didn't mind the fact that a finite ending wasn't given to Sam and Grace. Real life doesn't work that way and so books don't have to either. Though I did find Sam and Grace, well Sam in particular, much more frustrating. His inability to do something made me want to shake him. Isabelle and Cole are really my favorites. They are much more sarcastic and proactive and I love them for it. Sam and Grace's pure sweet love is wonderful to read and I love them too, but sometimes you need a bit of grit in your romance.

12 hours, 10 minutes

Read by Jenna Lamia, Pierce Cravens, Dan Bittner, Emma Galvin, Maggie Stiefvater

The same cast from the previous book returns and they do a great job. Each manages to embody their character and they play them beautifully. The audio books are great for this series because the actors really manage to convey the emotions well. I enjoyed this audio series a lot.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 12/12

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library..
This week I'm reading Jacob T. Marley (Bennett) and Sweetly (Pearce). And I should finish listening The Penderwicks (Birdsall) this week and I'll start the Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Robinson) after that. 

Last week I finished Heavy Weather (Wodehouse). And reviewed Every Other Day (Barnes).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

What if Buffy was only Buffy every other day?  That's pretty much the premise behind this book.  But it's pretty awesome.  Kali is kick ass on some days and on the others she is an ordinary human.  She doesn't know why but on her hunter days she is compelled to seek out the things that go bump in the night and kill them.  But it's one on of her ordinary days that she finds that a classmate is infected with a chupacabra, a virus-like organization that sucks the blood out of people and erases their memories.   Figuring that she can kill it on her hunter day, Kali takes it into her body only needing survive the chupacabra's draining until the next sundown.  But she finds that it's presence changes her in ways she could not predict.  Aided by some new friends, including a sort-of psychic, her older brother and his girlfriend, the girl who originally hosted the chupacabra, Kali begins to seek out the truth behind her origins.

I am a huge Buffy fan.  And I love the idea that superhero is only a superhero some of the time.  It makes the hero(ine) much more interesting.  I was surprised by the direction that this book ultimately takes, but surprised in a good way. Kali legitimately has a reason to complain because basically her life changes from day to day without her control.  And she wants to know if she is alone or if there are others like her.  But she and her dad have a frosty relationship so she can't ask him and tip him off. The answer actually comes from a surprising source and I love that. Kali is a great character whether she is the hunter or not and she is very much a teenager despite her unusual nature.  This is a fun read, not too gory or over the top, but just right with a unique concept.

From NetGalley

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 12/5

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm finishing Heavy Weather (Wodehouse). And I'm listening to The Penderwicks (Birdsall).

Last week I reviewed All These Things I've Done (Zevin).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

From Goodreads:
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

The thing I liked about this book most is the mafia mystery.  Anya gets caught up in her family's politics, a place she doesn't want to be.  She mostly just wants to fly under the radar, make it to her 18th birthday and keep her siblings safe.  But by virtue of her birth, she is meant to be more in her family's business.  I have a feeling that is where this series is headed.  Unfortunately, the mafia angle is dropped half way through and the romance angle becomes the focus.  It's not necessarily a bad thing.  It's only that the thing that drew me in is swept aside for something a little less compelling. But I'm guessing that it will be explored more in the next book.  Anya is pretty emotionally detached from life expect for the few people she truly loves that it is hard to "feel" the emotions she is feeling as she falls for Win, the Assistant D.A.'s son.  But the book is told from a past perspective and so I guess in the re-telling she is less inclined to become too emotional.   I enjoyed the whole book though I wish it had stuck to one kind of story and I also wish it had explained it a bit more.  The idea that chocolate and caffeine is now illegal is intriguing one. I get wanting to outlaw drugs in the future, but alcohol is still available so that doesn't fit.  The time setting is 2083 but it had a very 1920's Prohibition feeling with the coffee bar speakeasies and the smuggling of chocolate.  That was my favorite part, but it needed more explanation.  I mean why, of all things, chocolate?  I felt like that part was glossed over too quickly.  Still, conceptually, it is pretty awesome.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 11/28

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Heavy Weather (Wodehouse). And I'm listening to Forever (Steifvater) and The Penderwicks (Birdsall).

Last week I finished  All These Things I've Done (Zevin).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 11/21

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading All These Things I've Done (Zevin). And I'm listening to Forever (Steifvater) and The Penderwicks (Birdsall).

Last week I finished Every Other Day (Barnes).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 11/14

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Every Other Day (Barnes) and All These Things I've Done (Zevin). And I'm listening to Forever (Steifvater) and The Penderwicks (Birdsall).

Last week I finished Touch (Accardo) and reviewed Prized (O'Brien) and To Say Nothing of the Dog (Willis).

Friday, November 11, 2011

To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis

Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest.  He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump.  It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier. 

But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past.  Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right--not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself. 
-- Goodreads

I love this book!  Seriously, I first listened to it about 10 years ago and then listened to it again a couple of years later.  When I saw it on Audible, I was ecstatic because my local library did not have it on CD.  But would it still be as good?  The answer is yes.  It starts out a little slow because I was impatient for Ned to get the Victoria era, but man the whole thing is good. I haven't read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, a book which is referenced a lot and from which this book gets its title, but I will one of these days.  To Say Nothing of the Dog is written in a high manner house comedy style, much like a Wodehouse and has the same sensibilities as those book but with a large slice of science fiction thrown in.  Basically the whole book is about surviving the Victorians with their awful taste in furniture and the belief in seances, all while trying to save the space-time continuum.  But it never gets confusing or really all the science-y.  And the technology is a little laughable since they can travel through time but don't have cell phones.  But that has more to do with being written in 1997 when such things were not widely available and the internet wasn't what it is now.  Still I can forgive all that because the plot is so wonderful as are all the characters.  I was a little sad when it was over and I couldn't live in this world anymore.

Steven Crossley is the narrator and the voice of Ned.  He has the perfect British voice for this book and I love hearing his narration and the voices he does for the various characters.  He gets the tone and the inflection just right every time.

20 hours, 58 minutes

Whisper in My Ear

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Touch by Jus Accardo

When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.
Except there's something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she'll turn to dust if he touches her.
It's not until Dez's father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there's more to this boy, and her father's "law firm," than she realized. Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation -- an organization devoted to collecting "special" kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons -- his entire life.
And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills.
The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they're caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.
A secret Kale will kill to protect.

While I enjoyed this book, it reads like a checklist of an action-adventure/science-fiction movie.  Plucky heroine? Check.  Brooding guy with a dark secret? Check.  Evil organization with an agenda? Check.  But despite the cliches involved, it is a fun book and an easy read.  I wasn't a huge fan of Deznee throughout the book.  She rubbed me the wrong way and I kept wondering what it was about her that made all the boys fall over themselves.  Because she is, frankly, fairly abrasive.  And Kale is so blank.  There is very little to his character except to growl menacingly at anyone who threatens his woman and to become fascinated at everything about Dez or the world in general.  A little more character development would not have been amiss for anyone in this book. 

The action never stalled though and that was good.  Because really this is an action based book.  Dez moves from scenario to scenario trying to figure out how to save Kale and her mom from Denezen and how to deal with her bad guy dad.  She does a great job figuring out what to do next.  And she really does kick ass in her own right.  The book ends with a typical cliffhanger and while I enjoyed reading it, I doubt I will continue on with the series.

From NetGalley
Published: November 1, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

The sequel to Birthmarked finds Gaia struggling to save her baby sister as she tries to reach her grandmother.  But when she is rescued by a stranger and taken to the town her grandmother use to run, Gaia finds the rules of that society are also constricting.  The number of men far outweigh the number of women and so the women hold all the power.  But power can be corrupting and the men are getting tired of being the underdogs.  Gaia finds unfairness at each turn along with someone from her past who provides another source of conflict for her.

While there is no such thing as a perfect society, it seems that all Gaia can find is dysfunctional ones.  This time she moves to one where the rules seems unfair to her and, frankly, chaffed me as well.  The Matrarc of the town immediately takes away her baby sister and her freedom. And it left me angry at how quickly Gaia or any stranger is treated like a criminal simply for being from somewhere else.  The action moved pretty quickly even as Gaia is kept locked up.  But the romance angle felt like it was too much and it was a little unnecessary.  I am curious to see what happens next with Gaia and her tendency to overthrow dystopias.  This series is turning out to be a real page turner.

From NetGalley

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 11/7

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Touch (Accardo) and Every Other Day (Barnes). And I'm listening to The Penderwicks (Birdsall).

Last week I read Prized (O'Brien) and finished listening to To Say Nothing of the Dog (Willis).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 10/31 + Happy Halloween!

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Prized (O'Brien) and Touch (Accardo). And I'm still listening to To Say Nothing of the Dog (Willis).

Last week I read Ascendant and Errant (Peterfreund).  Other reviews posted were Friends in High Places (Kellogg) and Uncommon Criminals (Carter).

Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Errant by Diana Peterfreund

Set in the Killer Unicorn universe, this novella takes place in 18th century France.  It is a tradition of the nobility to  hold a unicorn hunt before a wedding to prove the virginity of the bride.  When Sister Brigitta of the Order of the Lioness arrives with her unicorn, she is surprised to discover not only is the bride of the bloodline, she also has the power as well.  Together the two find a way to save Elise from the men trying to control her life.

I really enjoyed the story.  At first it was frustrating because neither Gitta nor Elise has any interest in trying to understand each other, but once they come to see the other's point of view was great.   I liked the whole story and I think it added something to the story that was started in Rampant and Ascendant.  It was interesting to see in this world how unicorns are accepted and something known even if they are scarce.  And how the world generally views unicorns and unicorn hunters. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday 56 - Ascendant

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Hosted by Freda's Voice

And how wily of the zhi to have used her teeth and not her horn.  I hadn't seen that before from a unicorn, not even the devious kirin.

p.56 Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ascendant (Killer Unicorns #2) by Diana Peterfreund

Astrid is having trouble coming to terms with her ancestral calling.   On one hand, she can't let the unicorns slaughter innocent people.  On the other, she doesn't feel right hunting the unicorns to extinction.  So when Astrid is offered a job protecting a herd, she views it as a chance to get away from the Cloisters and try to understand the animals better.  But she also learns that everything comes at a price and someone is always the loser.
As one, the unicorns bowed before me, touching their horns to the earth, and I released my hands.  I was a goddess.  I was Diana, the Huntress, the Mistress of the Animals.  p.215
I actually found this one a little more compelling than Rampant.  It explores the moral implications more of taking a virtually extinct and once thought mythical creature and either hunting it to extinction or using it like a lab rat.  Neither are really going to work, but how do you solve a problem like man-eating unicorns?  Astrid doesn't know but then neither does anyone in her world.  And Astrid does not think a lot of herself and her powers so I liked seeing her explore them more along with her ability to "communicate" with the unicorns.  There is understandably some killing and a lot of action, but it was nice to not to have it hunt, kill all the time like in Rampant.  Astrid certainly has a lot of questions that need answering as do I.  The ending set up nicely for another book but without a dreaded cliff-hanger.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Friends in High Places by Marne Davis Kellogg

Kick Keswick is enjoying her life in France with her husband.  But an old foe is back at Ballantine and Company, threatening to expose Kick's old life.  While her husband is away on assignment, Kick goes back to London to set right some of the consequences of her old thieving ways.

I was apparently in the mood for heist stories because I followed Uncommon Criminals with Friend in High Places.  Two very different protagonists, however.  Kick is a reformed thief but still the very best at it.  And she loves the good life, fancy parties, luxurious meals, and beautiful jewels.  When it comes out that somethings are not on the up and up at Ballantine and Company,  Kick feels compelled to help out.  And Kick is very clever so she manages to help out her old company, make some new friends, and help out some nuns.  And she does it with a lot of style.  I love reading about her adventures and the clothes and the food, but I am getting a little tired of reading the same thing about her background.  It's redundant.  But still these are good books, worth reading especially if you like a good heist story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop is now the girl that robbed the Henley. Following her successful heist of that museum, Kat has dedicated herself to recovering art stolen from its rightful owner.  When Kat is contacted to steal the Cleopatra Emerald, one of the largest every discovered, she concocts a scheme to steal it even though it is the one thing Uncle Eddie has forbidden.  But the emerald comes with a curse and all is not what it seems for Kat.

This was a great second installment of the Heist Society.  I really like Kat and her crew.  She is so clever that even when she is conned she still manages to come out ahead and in the simplest manner too!  I love a good heist story and this one has it all.  I love Kat's relationship with Hale.  They have the best chemistry.  And the rest of Kat's friends are pretty awesome too.  Gabriel is pretty amazing. 

The plot moved at a good pace.  It was nice not knowing how Kat was going to pull it off until the very end.  I liked how she got the better of her antagonist.  I am intrigued though by the lady's relationship with Uncle Eddie and I hope she makes another appearance.  She was a great foe for Kat. 

6 hours, 43 minutes

Angela Dawe is the narrator and she does an excellent job.  Her tone was just right for the story.  She doesn't really do voices but she does try to distinguish each character.  I liked her pace and her voice is appropriate for the story.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 10/24

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.

This week I'm reading Ascendant (Peterfreund) and Prized (O'Brien). I'm listening to To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last (Willis).

Last week I read Friends in High Places (Kellogg).

From NetGalley
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
Written in the style of Charles Dickens, Jacob T. Marley is to A Christmas Carol as the world-famous Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz. Jacob realized that he was no more than an entry in Scrooges ledger in an account that was now being closed.  What a wretched man, Marley thought. Whatever in the world made him? Whether it was seconds or minutes, Marley did not know, but he paused so completely he thought his heart had stopped beating. I did, were his own words that came to him. I did. I made Ebenezer Scrooge.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 10/17

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Friends in High Places (Kellogg) and Prized (O'Brien).  I'm listening to To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last (Willis).

Last week I finished The Name of the Star (Johnson) and read Ashfall (Mullin) and The Hijab Boutique (Khan) and listened to Uncommon Criminals (Carter).

From NetGalley
Prized (Birtmarked #2) by Caragh M. O'Brien
Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime.  In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?

From Audible
To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis, read by Steven Crossley (e-audio)
Connie Willis' Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book uses time travel for a serious look at how people connect with each other. In this Hugo-winning companion to that novel, she offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy that pays hilarious homage to Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities like recalcitrant rowboats, missing cats, and love at first sight make Ned's holiday anything but restful - to say nothing of the way hideous pieces of Victorian art can jeopardize the entire course of history. 
 Harriet Spies Again by Helen Ericson, read by Anne Bobby
Harriet M. Welsch has just received the best news of her 11th year—Ole Golly is coming back! Harriet can still remember how sad she was when her beloved nanny married George Waldenstein and moved away. But the circumstances of Ole Golly’s return remain unclear. Where is George Waldenstein?

With Mr. and Mrs. Welsch living in France for three months, Sport confiding that he has a crush on a girl at school, and the arrival of a mysterious new neighbor who’s going to require a whole lot of spying, Harriet already has her hands full. Then she overhears Ole Golly saying she’s innocent—but innocent of what? Harriet the Spy is on the case and ready to help Ole Golly in any way she can.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

When the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupts during his first weekend home alone,  16 year old Alex finds himself on a journey across ash covered land and extreme weather changes trying to get to his family.

At first when I started this book I felt it was going to be a retread of Life As We Know It, but I was happy to find out as I read on that it was different.  Sure both books are about an event that causes extreme changes in the climate and changes society but LAWKI was more of a isolated book.  Ashfall explores the world as it has changed.  Alex is trying to get to Illinois where his parents went for the weekend.  What is a three hour car ride takes him more than a few months.  Along the way  he has a lot of encounters with both nice people and cruel, vicious people.  And there are some really horrific things happening in this lawless state.  The most horrific happens off page but still just hearing about it was enough.  It's all sort of pre-Mad Max.

Alex was a typical enough teenager and I liked his personality growth.  He changed from normal teenage boy to a survivalist.  I liked his relationship with Darla.  I was glad that it didn't turn too mushy but instead maintained that balance between needing each other and still being their own persons.  Alex is, in a way, more caring than Darla and she is definitely the tougher one.  But it worked out okay for them.  Everyone else is more anecdotal than fleshed out, but given the nature of the book that definitely fits.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Hijab Boutique by Michelle Khan

Farah has been assigned a project about her mother for International Woman's Day.  The problem is that Farah thinks her mother is boring, much more so than the other moms of her classmates.  As Farah struggles to find something to bring to class, she learns more about her mother.

Well, this was a cute book.   The language was very simple and it read like a 10 year old wrote it.  In fact it brought memories back of my 5th grade journal.  It was funny that Farah thought her mom was so boring and couldn't think of anything interesting about her.  Very typical.  But the lessons is really that it's hard to know who your mother is outside of your relationship.  And Farah really knew very little about her mother.  So I enjoyed Farah's discoveries of her mother's past.  And I liked the explanation of why her mother choose to wear the hijab and all the different styles of hijab.  It made the story different than my usual reading fare.

Won from LibraryThing

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

Rory is from a small town in Louisiana, but she moves to London when her parents decided to teach in England for a year.  Luckily she gets a good roommate at her new school and starts figuring out the ways of the English. Less lucky is the fact that someone has started imitating the Ripper murders.  And there is no evidence of who it is despite there being cameras everywhere.  And somehow Rory has started seeing people that no one else can see.  
Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.  p.25
I'm always wary of non-Southerners writing about teens (or really anyone) from Louisiana.  Sometimes it's hard to get right.  And I love Maureen Johnson so I wanted her to get it right.  But the thing about Rory is that she is less Louisianan and more Southerner and more teen than all of that.  And she is a definite fish out of water at her Wexford.  But she manages with the help of her new friends.  The thing about Rory is that she just sort of goes along, just doing what everyone tells her.  She was a little blank for a main character.  I guessing she is suppose to act as proxy for the reader and that would explain it.

But beyond Rory, the story definitely fell on the creepy side of the line.  So much so that I refused to read it before bed as I like sleeping and not dreaming of murders or imagining ghosts in the dark corners of my room.  I don't know much about Jack the Ripper so I did a little research after I started.  The background is explained but I like to know before I start.  I liked the introduction to the mystery and I liked the twist in the middle that changed the story.  It made it different.  I was actually surprised that by whodunit and thought it was set up nicely though the info dump at the end was a little too much.  The set up for the next book was unique and I'm excited to see what happens to Rory in the next book.

350 Page

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekly Round-Up 10/10

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week, reviews I've posted, books in the mail and anything else of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
I'm reading The Name of the Star (Johnson) and listening to Uncommon Criminals (Carter).

Last week I finished The Wake of the Lorelei Lee (Meyer) and posted my review of Department 19 (Hill).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday 56 - This Book Isn't Fat...

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Hosted by Freda's Voice

I feel this weird warm flush when he laughs.  I look away, start searching my bag for my phone, suddenly nervous.

This Book Isn't Fat, It's Fabulous by Nina Beck

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Wake of the Lorelei Lee: Being an Account of the Adventures of Jacky Faber, on her Way to Botany Bay by L.A. Meyer

Jacky is bound for the penal colony of New South Wales as punishment for her crimes against the crown.  To add insult to injury, the government confiscates her newly bound Lorelei Lee and puts her and the other female convicts aboard for the trip.  But Jacky's friends come through for her as Higgins finds a way on broad along with some old faces.

Well, this was full of adventure!  Jacky is sentence to life in New South Wales, finds herself on her own ship, is threatened by the first mate multiple times, marries Higgins, finds and loses Jamie, ends with as the "pet" of a Chinese female pirate, finds Jamie again and reclaims her ship.  Phew.  That's a lot for one 16 year old girl.  And as much as I enjoy Jacky's adventure, they are beginning to lose their what little credibility they had in the first place.  Oh well.  They are fun books and explore their historical nature to the fullest which is a fun way to learn about these things.  I really liked Jamie's chapters.  The boy is coming along nicely but I do feel sorry for him.  All of these terrible things happen to him and he does some questionable things in return and all because of his relationship with Jacky.  I hope that works out in their favor.  And I hope Jamie can hold on to his sanity in the meanwhile.

Katharine Kellgren does a wonderful job yet again.  I love her singing voice and I love her voice for the Shanty Man.  She is so versatile!  And she does a great job with the dialects and the languages which must be hard to do.  

Bloody Jack
Whisper in My Ear

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Littlest Bookworm

There will be a new little bookworm at my house.  YES I am expecting a baby at the beginning of April and am so excited.  As you may or may not know, I already have a 4 year old (5 in December) and now I'll have a little baby too.  I can't wait!  But as long as pregnancy feels, it does go by quickly in the end. If I've been absent lately, it's because this is what I have been concentrating on lately. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Department 19 by Will Hill

Jamie Carpenter watches as his father is gunned down by mysterious government agents.  Two years later he is an outcast in society for his father's supposed crime.  But when his mother is kidnapped by a mysterious and dangerous creature, Jamie is brought into the Loop where the vampire hunters work for the government in Department 19.  It's up to Jamie to find his mother before the oldest living vampire does the unthinkable.  

Confession: I've never read Dracula.  It was just never high on my list of things to read.  And that story figures heavy into this story.  Despite my lack of Dracula literature reading, I still got the gist of the story and the background of some of the characters.  In this novel, Dracula is dead, killed like in the original story, but he turned three brothers into vampires and they are the oldest living vampires.  They are brutal and vicious and they are creating an army of other vampires.  The second oldest, Alexandru, kidnaps Jamie's mother, leading Jamie to hunt for his mother.  Jamie is taken by Department 19, a secret government agency founded by original slayers of Dracula, to hide him.  But Jamie only wants to find his mother.  Aided by Frankenstein (the monster), Jamie becomes immersed in the world of the supernatural, determined to find his mother and figure out what really happened to his father.

There is a lot going on in this book and I suppose part of that is a trilogy.  There is the mystery of Jamie's father, and why his mother was taken.  And there is something going on with the vampire brothers.  It's not confusing when you're reading it but when thinking about it, I can only hope that more is answered in the next book.  I enjoyed it though and I liked the characters.  I found Jamie a bit abrasive and there was a lot of yelling (I can't help noticing when a verb is overused), but it is all understandable.  It is on the gory side so if you are squeamish, be forewarned.  Mostly it is vampires exploding and lots and lots of blood.  But it didn't bother me too much.   enjoyed the alternating historical chapters and thought they were a nice touch.  There are definitely a quite a few stick with it images.  I'm curious to see where all of this is going.

Won from LibraryThing
Off the Shelf
350 Page