I liked the book. It is short, I read it in one sitting. Alice Hoffman is a master at making the reader feel the emotion, or in this case, lack of emotion in the beginning. One could track the main character's progress, finding the things along the way that made a difference in the woman's life. The things that helped her to feel again.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I liked the book. It is short, I read it in one sitting. Alice Hoffman is a master at making the reader feel the emotion, or in this case, lack of emotion in the beginning. One could track the main character's progress, finding the things along the way that made a difference in the woman's life. The things that helped her to feel again.
When, in the main town square, the tiled letters start falling off the statue of their great hero, Nollop, their governing council believes it's a sign from his spirit that they should learn to live without those letters, and they ban everyone from speaking, writing, or reading those letters. As more and more tiles fall off, it gets more and more difficult to communicate. The author is able to brilliantly write each chapter eliminating another letter or more, with great skill.
The government metes out drastic punishment for the use of the forbidden letters, and the situation gets more and more serious, though the tone of the correspondence exchanged remains sarcasticly humorous. This book is a satire on the powers of government, but also makes you realize the power of words on our lives. I read this book very quickly, wondering how it would all end for dear Ella and Tassie, and the good citizens of Nollop.
If you enjoy wordplay and a clever story, by all means, read this book!
Having greatly enjoyed the movie of the same name, I thought it would be interesting to read this autobiographical memoir of Frank Abagnale's years on the run from the law. However, while truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, the fictionalized account that Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks brought to life in the film adaptation was much more entertaining and intriguing, and certainly more deserving of the title Catch Me If You Can.
If you've seen the movie, you'll recognize the main plot. Frank runs away from home at the tender age of 16 after his parents divorce and poses as a Pan Am pilot to earn free flights and, more importantly, make his fraudulent checks seem more believable. Additionally, the book delves more deeply into Frank's so called "addiction" to the ladies, often stewardesses. He does settle down at times, posing as a doctor, a lawyer, and a sociology professor, all through the use of faked credentials. It is interesting to see exactly how he accomplished all this (and there were a few close calls), though he does repeat himself at times.
Unfortunately, what's missing from the book is the best part of the movie, namely, the other side. The FBI is mentioned regularly, but we don't get to see what they're doing to try to catch Frank. There are no Christmas phone calls or, really, any major interactions between FBI agent O'Reilly and young Frank until the afterward. While there is still some excitement in the chase (yes, he really did escape custody through an airplane toilet), it mostly comes from close calls and self-imposed ethical conflicts on Frank's part.
The book was originally published in 1980, and, obviously, airport security is much more stringent now. Additionally, the fear of identity theft has become more mainstream in the last decade. In an "interview with the author" after the epilogue, some of these points are addressed, but the big picture is left incomplete. I am unsure if security issues prohibited Mr. Abagnale from delving into more detail in terms of check security measures he helped create, or if it was merely a case of him creating them after the original publication. Either way, the book still stands without it, but it would be much more powerful and relevant with it.
In my opinion, while not an awful book by any means, I suggest that you save your money and just rent the movie instead. Keep in mind that it's only about 80% true, but that other 20% really ties the plot together and provides at least 50% of the entertainment. Rating: 3/5.
Monday, May 28, 2007
'In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to MLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital renowned or its famous clientele - Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles - as or its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.
Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting specific dimension to our definitions o sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.'
This book seemed rather disjointed to me; the chapters didn't seem to go together and some of the events appeared out of order. While it's subject was very interesting it was not very well written. The part I most enjoyed was her discussion of her diagnosis at the end of the book. There were several points where I wanted to stop reading, but kept going only because my best friend was also reading it and wanted to discuss it with me.
As it turned out, well... Wild Design *is* better than reading Financial Reporting Standards (that studying I mentioned). But that's about all I can say for it. This book is everything I hate about chicklit, and a perfect example of why I don't tend to read that genre. The 'heroine' is a doormat. She spends most of the book sabotaging herself for no discernible reason, letting her friends and family walk all over her, and laying down so her kids can't help but walk over her whether they want to or not. She loses her job, decides on a new career as a garden designer... and then spends the rest of the book running around like a headless chicken, chasing everything but her dream, except by accident. She can't seem to imagine why the hero would be interested in her, and frankly, the way she treats him, I can't either. Seriously, I wanted to smack her.
The 'hero'... well, I suppose he was okay, all two dimensions of him.
I *did* finish the book, but only because it really was better than memorising FRS.
This one's available for mooching. In fact, please mooch it. You can have it free (I'll return the points for this one, if you tell me you're from the TBR club/blog in the comment).
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Talking From 9 to 5: How Women's & Men's Conversational Styles Affect Who Gets Heard, Who Gets Credit, and What Gets Done at Work, by Deborah Tannen
Because she used so many examples, it kept my interest. I found myself paying attention to the way people at my office spoke, both in meetings and in casual conversation. I think it will definitely change how I communicate at work, and how I perceive what others mean to say.
Tannen ultimately concludes that "no one style of speaking is superior. She does not tell women to speak like men or men to speak like women." Instead, through presenting and analyzing her examples, she urges everyone to "learn from other conversational styles and to develop flexibility."
Witi Ihimaera is a well-known NZ author; outside of New Zealand, he's probably best known as the author of Whale Rider, made into a film a few years back. He's also one of my favourite NZ authors, although he writes of a world I never saw any more than glimpses of, growing up. I think perhaps that's a lot of what fascinates me; how there could be this whole entire world existing right alongside ours, all the time, and yet all we ever saw were displaced edges, thrust into classrooms and learnt by rote, or glimpsed in passing but never understood. I think probably this sort of thing occurs wherever you have one culture alongside another; even as some merging occurs, some deeper parts just never seem to transfer over.
Sky Dancer is an interweaving of the mythic and the prosaic; on the one thread, we have a portion of the Maori creation myths, where the god Tane opens the gates of Heaven for the birds to claim the land and the sea; and on the other thread, a young woman in modern day NZ fleeing with her mother to small-town Tuapa, trying to escape her mother's problems.
The threads cross in a prophecy written in the Great Book of Birds, and handed down from mother to daughter amonst the handmaidens of Tane: that in the third year of the second millennium as it is counted by Man, Armageddon will come; the sky will open, and birds of the future will stream through to fight once again the Great Battle where the seabirds, the manu moana, will challenge for dominion over the land birds, the manu whenua. However all is not hopeless; as well as this second chance granted to the seabirds, Tane will send to the landbirds a chick to assist in the battle - the young woman, Skylark O'Shea. Who, as it turns out, is contrary, antagonistic, and doesn't believe a word of any of this...
Sky Dancer is the story of how the first battle between birds, but mostly of the second; of how it came to be that it was to be fought at all; of how a reluctant Skylark was dragged along to help fight a battle she didn't believe was anything more than a myth, helped along by an assortment of characters across the length of the country, and hounded by seabirds at every step.
It's not Ihimaera's best book, but it's far from bad. The plot falters here and there - gets a little too caught up in intermissions, and a little too preachy here and there - but overall, it's a good read; and if you like discovering myths and cultures of other cultures, then it's a very good book for this. Don't be put off by the fact that the story switches between human and bird characters - my father, who scorns fantasy of any kind and will usually run a mile if there's any hint of fantastical elements, thoroughly enjoyed this book. (Moreso than I did, I think, and I *do* love fantasy).
Anyway, to conclude; I enjoyed this book. It's a good story, well written, and a very good introduction to some Maori myth, although you'll probably need to watch out for where the actual myths end and the storytelling begins...
Friday, May 25, 2007
Destined to become a modern classic, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner is half a coming-of-age tale about a young boy looking for his father's acceptance and half a novel about atonement and cultural conflict. As a young boy growing up in Afghanistan in the seventies, Amir is a disappointment to his father. His mother died giving birth to him, and there is a mild undercurrent of resentment on his father's part because of this. Amir is a sensitive and creative lad, scholarly rather than athletic, and pacifist rather than assertive. His one true friend is Hassan, the son of his father's servant. The relationship between Amir and Hassan is deep and complicated; while Amir truly loves Hassan, he is also ashamed to be with him in public because Hassan is illiterate, an ethnic minority, and deformed with a harelip.
The turning point of the novel comes with the region's annual kite fighting competition. In kite fighting, the goal is to fly your kite so that your string cuts your competitor's string, with the last kite flying as the winner. The children act as "kite runners," who go and retrieve the broken kites. Amir enters the competition with Hassan as his runner. When Hassan does not return from running a kite, Amir goes to look for him and finds Hassan being assaulted by several boys in an alley. Rather than fighting for his friend, Amir simply watches unseen. Hassan is ashamed from the assault while Amir is ashamed for doing nothing; as a result, the two drift apart and are eventually separated after Hassan is accused of stealing.
In the second half of the novel, Amir is living in the United States with his father when he gets a phone call from an old friend of his father's in Afghanistan. He tells Amir to return to Afghanistan right away, as he is very sick and needs Amir's help very badly to do something. Amir leaves his wife to go see what his father's friend wants and is told a startling secret. The revelation of this secret drives the plot for the rest of the book, and, while the ending may not be "happy", it is hopeful.
The writing style of the book is supurb and has the feel of a memoir even though it is completely fiction. As I said above, this book will definitely make its way into the English canon because of the many profound themes it contains. The twists are well-plotted and logical, but not obvious. This is one of those books where you think back to what happened earlier and go, "Oh, that's why he said it that way." There's plenty of action to keep readers engaged and aware that the plot is moving. Issues of abandonment and culture are present throughout the book and connect the many plot points.
There are parts of the book that are violent and graphic, but never simply for shock value. If you are a reader of serious fiction, you will not be disappointed by this book. Rating: 4.5/5
Upon relocating to his homeland - the U.S. - after living in England for 20 years Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. For some reason he thinks this will be an appropriate way to get back in touch with the country he's been away from for so long. As anyone can see from the Author's photograph on the back - Bryson is not someone you would find on the cover of Outside magazine. He looks like your jovial, more round than slender, college professor. But this is a college professor with a witty, sarcastic sense of humor and that is what makes this book so much fun. Listening to Bryson complain about the cost of equipment and then snip at those on the trail who insist on engaging in "gear talk" is hilarious. Bryson is accompanied by a man named Stephen Katz whom is more out of shape than he and equally as funny.
Amongst tales of falling over backwards from the weight of a 40 pound backpack and obsessing about being attacked by bears; Bryson details the history of the Appalachian Trail, surrounding towns and cities and speaks at length about conservation.
This is an enjoyable, light read but still manages a genuine plea for appreciation, conservation and respect of America's forests.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Lisey's Story by Stephen King (unabridged audiobook). King's pathos is that he's always writing the same story, and it's usually in one way or another about himself. Sort of. Lisey's Story is not really an exception. It's about Lisey, the wife of a rich and famous, if eccentric, fiction author who taps into the deep pool of interior demons and imagination in order to create his great works. It's a tremendous answer to "where do you get all your ideas?" as well as the best love letter a man could possibly write to his wife, fictionalized or not (truly, Scott's repeated admonitions to Lisey about how important she is to him, how she has saved him time and time again, how she is the core of him.... oh, that we could all find such eloquent men!) The plot, the action of the story, is well-done, as only King can write plot, but this is Lisey's story, so he gives it more cerebral meanderings than his more tightly-plotted action pieces. I enjoyed it very much, and found it tread the line between beauty and horror nicely.
World War Z by Max Brooks. An oral history of the Zombie War, Max Brooks chronicles with great detail and very thorough survivor interviews from all over the globe how the world survived the greatest threat to life on Earth. Truly, a must-read for all survivors of this terrible war.
In the Thrill of the Night by Candice Hern. Another Merry Widows book, entertaining and adorable. I'm intrigued that the author has chosen to set all of these widow romances at the same time, so the little hints at each others' private romances can come out through the other books as well. However, it does mean that the dramatic tension is eased in later books (especially if you read them out of sequence), so be wary.
I loved this Book! Ms. Russell manages to combine Jesuits, interstellar travel, child prostitution, artificial intelligence and soul searching in an extraordinary combination that left me feeling as if I knew most of these character intimately. I was not only enthralled with these people, I wished I could meet them! The novel moves between the year 2016 when this odd assortment of people meet, become friends and prepare for an other worldly journey and 2060 where we learn the results of this mission to Rakhat. As unlikely as this all seems, it is a wonderful coalescence of adventure, mystery, spirituality and friendship!
I was supposed to review The Children of God the sequel to this, but I figured I would post this first. I also read her Thread of Grace, a very different type of writing than this but equally wonderful.
This is a SF book written in the 50's. This is an important fact because the "villians" in this book are the Russians; a typical thing in the 50's.
Five people from different countries (America, England, Germany, Russia, and China) are abducted and given a responsibility that no one would want. The alien's world is about to Nova, causing the destruction to their entire race. They are looking for a new world to habitate...but this is not an invasion. These aliens are far more advanced then humans...too advanced to be of a violent nature. They could not invade the earth even if they wanted to. It would simply be against their nature.
So, instead, they chose 5 earth people at random and gave each a black box that could only be opened by the boxes owner. Inside each box lay 3 gold capsules that have the ability to anhilate humans only. There would be no radiation, no destruction of plant life nor animal life. Only humans. Each capsule has the capability of destroying people within a 3000 mile radius. These 5 people have 27 days to decide if they will use their capsules or not. If they do, and human kind is wiped from the face of the earth, or at least 2/3 of them, the aliens will come and inhabit. If not, then the aliens will except their fate and the capsules will become inert.
Common sense says that none of these 5 people would want to use the capsules. Ah...but it isn't that easy. Once these boxes become common knowledge through out the world, pressures are put to bear on the 5 people who own the boxes. Governments desire to have control of the capsules. The ensuing troubles of the owners of the boxes keep the story moving and the reader riveted.
Who will prevail? Will the human race be completely destroyed? Will part of the human race survive and co-habitate earth with the aliens?
Although the premise of this book sounds slightly corny and simple, the author writes in a way that keeps you swept up with the story, wanting to know what happens next. A very good read!
The cover page has a short note by MaryJanice Davidson saying "What's not to love about Kathy Love? Fangs for the Memories will make you laugh until milk comes out of your nose. No, really."
Well, with such recommendations from a master of paranormal romances, I was sure I stumbled across something great, and couldn't wait to read it.
Now, don't get me wrong, the book was a good paranormal romance, with action, sex and all, but I've read better ones. And I definitely didn't laugh out loud, not even once. Not sure where I missed the joke(s).
Having the criticism out of the way, now to the good stuff.
I really enjoyed the book, it was a light and fast reading (even with a 300 pages trade paperback).
Girl goes to New York to start new life, girl goes to a bar, meets vampire, who has a story of his own, and a brother who wants revenge for something in the past. Vampire saves girl from a dangerous situation, and while both are in the park behind the bar, vampire's dangerous brother comes and stirs up trouble. And gives them both amnesia. And for the rest, you need to read the story.
Well, a vampire with amnesia, that's surely a new one for me, quite interesting concept and it led nicely to reveal the rest of the story, enough to keep me going, wanting to know what will happen next.
As I already have the sequel (Fangs but no Fangs) on my TBR shelf, I will pick it up as one of my next reads, to follow the story of Christian, the revengeful brother, who might not be that bad after all...
nate o riley is a washington litigator who has lived too hard, his second marriage is in shambles he is emerging from his fourth stay in rehab.
rachel lane is a young women who gave her life to god.
there lives are forever altered by the secret of the testament.
I thought it was alittle slow at first but picked up. this is my first book of John Grisams i read but i liked it. would recommend to others.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Catherine Linton returns to her hometown determined to discover who tampered with her parent’s car causing their fatal accident. Shortly after she arrives, she finds a dead body in a shed on her property. Soon after, she discovers another dead body this time, the tenant renting a house she owns. The murderer has to be someone she knows and knows well. Someone she grew up knowing and trusting because this is a very small town. The ending is a surprise. I found this to be a very different kind of book by paranormal and mystery writer Charlaine Harris. I think it was probably her first novel. It is well worth the read if you enjoy any of her other books.
A Graphic Novel/Manga Series of 5 books. Genre is Fantasy. Released in 1992.
In this series we follow Dark, a young swordsman. His master forces him to make the ultimate decision as a swordsman causing Dark to search for his past in a journey through rival lands. Accompanied by his spiritual guide Kyo, Dark must master the skills of war, magic and negotiate the darkness that resides in his own heart to claim his position as a Phantom Saint, protector of the land.
Kia Asamiya is hearld as one of the greatest manga artists ever, he also drew Silent Moebus, Martian, Successor Nadesico and Steam Detectives. I found his artwork to be very detailed and easy to follow in the standard graphic novel format. The story line has a huge potential to branch off in any direction. The main character is a bit naive but luckily he has his spirit guide to get him through the story. The supporting characters are given great detail and we see how they tie into the storyline nicely. The ending is left wide open for continuation, though I doubt that will occur considering the age of this series.
Individual Book Summaries:
Dark is put to his final test by his master, to determine if he is finally ready to embark on his own. Then we follow Dark’s travels to the forbidden Eastern Territory of the Four Winds where he faces Chao, the beautiful ex-lover of his late master...
vol 2. White Tiger's Battle Cry
Dark faces the three great challenges that will confirm him as a Phantom Saint: a skilled human martial opponent, a magical demon, ad a rite of passage in the Underworld
Vol 3. Leen's Destiny: The Path of the Blue Dragon
The gorgeous and deadly Nie, the Black Dragon, was consumed with jealousy when Leen became a Phantom Saint, and now conspires to murder her and take her kingdom!
Vol 4. Legend of the Sacred Beast
Dark has fought and won despite the odds against him. An unlikely Phantom Saint of the Red Phoenix, he keeps getting lost and can't even spread his wings at will, but there's something about him that keeps winning him allies. Now he's got an immeasurable desert to cross before he can get to Oukoku where his destiny awaits. What mysteries await him…and just who or what is the danger known as the Gairana?
Vol 5. Legend of the Sacred Beast II
The enigmatic angel, Dark has been sidetracked from his quest. He needs to rescue his fairy companion, Kyo and retrieve his sword from the ruthless and evil forces known as the Gairana. Dark will need to focus his strenth and skills in order to overcome this deadly threat, but even if he succeeds, he still must come to grips with his ultimate destiny… in the far off realm of Oukoku!
Review by Tesse aka blissful2bme
A Graphic Novel/Manga Series of 7 books. Genre is Horror/Drama with a bit of mystery thrown in.
Enter Kazuna, a young teenage boy just discovering his first love. Unknown to him he has a dark past which is about to disrupt his life completely. He is the carrier of a rare blood disease which causes him to crave the blood of humans. While struggling with his dark desires he is reunited with his older sister, Chizuna and discovers his long lineage to a family that that has given in to their darker desires and proclaims themselves Vampires. Can Kazuna stave of his dark desires long enough to save his older sister and find a cure for their disease? Well you will just need to read the books to find out.
I found the series over all a good read. Each of the books had a good tie in with each other stopping just at a point that makes you want to read on. There is a subtle hint of darker love between the two main characters which intrigued you to wonder where it was going. The art work was very lifelike and beautiful to study. I found the story ending to be very satisfying and it did not end the way I thought it would, which pleased me since i don't like predictable. Though I thought their fear of prosecution and fear of others turning on them to be a bit unbelievable since it took place in modern times where medical rarities are not reasons to be killed but researched. I don't think people would react as badly as they eluded to in the book. I mean I could see them being prosecuted if they went out and killed for the blood but the way they were handling their blood thirst it would probably not caused much more of a stir then a raised eyebrow and maybe a bit grimacing from the thought of craving blood. Weirder things are happening everyday.
Individual Book Summaries:Vol. 1: We meet Kazuna as he is discovering he is falling in love with lovely Yaegashi. He discovers he is ill and reacts badly to anything that looks like blood, in fact he reacts so badly he craves it violently. Enters long lost older sis Chizuna, who offers Kazuna salvation from his pain through her own blood...but she has reasons of her own to help him.
Vol. 2: Kazuna tastes blood for the first time and his sister tells him the story of their past. Yaegashi is desperately trying to help Kazuna but he won't let her close. Chizuna gives him some medicine to help curb the craving but Kazuna must decide how much he wants to sacrifice in order to stay "normal" and how much is his salvation worth.
Vol. 3: Yaegashi confesses her love to Kazuna only to discover the truth of his behavior toward her. Chizuna revels more on the family's past. Kazuna makes a decision he may come to regret in regards to his friends and family.
Vol. 4: Kazuna and Chizuna grow closer...perhaps too close for siblings. Chizuna's dark obsession with her father takes on a new light. Kazuna is discovering difficulty in controlling his urges to feed as new darker dreams plague his vision.
Vol. 5: Kazuna and Chizuna dedication to each other grows as Kazuna comes to depend on Chizuna to feed his blood thirst. Chizuna health is failing and she is refusing to feed. She discovers the truth behind her feelings toward Kazuna and comes to terms with what she needs to do to fulfill those feelings. And to top it all off someone is snooping into the families past trying to ferret out the family's dark secrets.
Vol. 6: As Shinobu digs deeper into the Takashiro family history trying to discover why the siblings father committed suicide she discovers a revelation. Kazuna and Chizuna both return to school attempting a normal life. Yaegashi and Kazuna come to terms with each other and why it is best Kazuna keep his distance. Chizuna's illness grows worse and with it comes dreams revolving around her mother hinting that her memories of her may not be true.
Vol. 7: As darkness descends upon the siblings. Chizuna health collapses sending her into a coma in which she discovers the truth to her mothers disappearance and her father's death. Kazuna discovers the only way to control the disease. But will his decision be the correct choice can they both finally rest in peace?
Reviewed by Tesse aka Blissful2beme
Thursday, May 17, 2007
In Sleep No More, Greg Iles asks the reader to suspend logic and believe the unbelievable.
John Waters' life is far from ideal. His wife Lily is depressed and distant after two miscarriages and his oil well drilling company is potentially in trouble due to some irresponsible moves made by his long time friend and business partner Cole Smith.
Then one early autumn afternoon Waters encounters the beautiful and mysterious Eve Sumner. She shatters his world when she mouths one word - soon - to him; a private signal between Waters and Mallory Candler, his former college lover who by all accounts was raped and killed 10 years previously.
Stranger still when Waters later finds Eve at a spot where he and Mallory used to meet, she tells him that she is the spirit of Mallory Candler living in another woman’s body. Is she just a clever con artist? And if so how does she possess such intimate knowledge of his and Mallory’s affair? Or is someone trying to drive him crazy? If so who and why?
Water’s dissatisfaction in his relationships with his wife and his business partner fuel his growing obsession with Eve Sumner as long suppressed memories and desires resurface. Unable to resist he begins an affair with Eve that ultimately threatens his life and that of his family.
How far will he go to protect those he loves? Can he find the strength to do what he must before he loses everything?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book Greg Iles does a good job of making an incredible concept almost plausible. The characters are multi-dimensional. The “good guys” are not perfectly good and the “bad guys” have at least understandable motives for behaving as they do. The plot twists especially toward the end keep you guessing and turning pages. I found the ending a little hard to believe, but to be honest I would have been disappointed had it ended any other way.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who likes a good thriller.
Cheryl Brigham (cheribomb)
Reviewed by Margot.
Monday, May 14, 2007
A Manga by Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural
# of books: Three volumes and waiting....
In a kingdom threaten by war it is only natural to desire the best solders. Barsburg Empire Military Academy produces the elite of elite by cultivating the rare and unique power of the "zaiphon"; which converts a "force" into different forms for combat depending on the students individual powers and personalities.
The story stems around a boy name Teito Klein, a slave raised to the position of military dog. We accompany him on his journey as he discovers his past life and the responsibilities it holds for him.
The story is incomplete so far but what I have read I have liked. Teito has a long road ahead of him as he searches out his past and discovers the secrets of the church of the 7 holy ghost. The storyline has a good feel and for the most part the graphics are drawn well. The only fault I find with it are the battle scenes--it is hard to tell the characters apart since they are blurred and jumbled. All the characters have the tendency to have the same facial structure so if you do not catch individual differences early on, you will find yourself looking back to make sure they are who you think they are. The story is somewhat predictable but I like the religion portion of the story, it has a good ideology behind it.
A good read but not a keeper.
by Barbara Kingsolver
Gather your courage and step in to the deep dark jungles of the Congo following the footsteps of the Poison wood preacher and his five wives. The story starts out in the year 1959 with a Baptist Minster and his family headed for the Congo jungle to bring the light of Jesus into the darkness that dwells in the deep the African heart. We meet Brother Price, his wife Orleanna, and four daughters Rachel, Adeh, Leah and Ruth as they are preparing for the trip over to Kilanga to spend a year as missionaries. Once there they discover that their journey will not end with only a year but will extend over a life time as the jungle takes root into their souls. This story is a well crafted combination of the characters journey through life and the turbulent history of the Congo all told in a rich vibrant manner that allows you to hear, see, touch and smell Africa through all the eyes of the family. Each chapter is told in the insightful view of each character by rotating through Orleanna, Rachel, Adeh, Leah and Ruth's personal perspectives of what is occurring at the moment.
The author carefully crafted her characters with unique personalities which causes you to love and hate them at the same time. They become inextricably human as the book progress causing you to feel the joys and sadness each one experiences. You can't help but feel the pull of the jungle and the strife it's people face on a daily basis to survive.
I wish I could put in better words the way this book affected me. It got under my skin and has left me with a warm glow. I highly recommend this book for TBR pile.
reviewed by Tesse aka blissful2beme
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay.
Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author best known for his historical fantasies. Some of my favourite titles by him include The Fionvar Tapestry and Tigana. His novels usually take place in fictional lands that are based on real historical times and places.
Ysabel is a departure from his last few novels in that it takes place in the “real” world in the present day, but it is thoroughly steeped in history, as are all of Kay’s works.
It takes place in Provence and follows the adventures of Ned, a 15-year-old boy from Montreal. He is in Provence with his father, a world famous photographer who is working on a book in the beautiful French region. Ned meets an American exchange student in a cathedral and together they encounter a mysterious man and become embroiled in a battle that has lasted millennia. In the process, Ned discovers hidden truths about his family and himself. This novel is a coming of age story as well as a hero’s journey
Kay’s love of history is clear in the novel. He describes Provence as a photographer or artist might: full of references to the qualities of the sunlight. His characters are fully realized and interesting. The story is exciting and fast paced. I found some of the decisions made by the adults unrealistic, but over all this was a very enjoyable read.
Foxfire is an exciting story, stylishly written, but lacking depth. You watch, from a remove, as the narrator watches 35 years later, with no flashes of insight into the inner lives of these girls.
I always thought that Fact was to explain things and Fiction was to explain people. Having discovered narrative non-fiction, I no longer make that distinction. As an illustration, I have read two books in the past year, both non-fiction, which were what I wanted Foxfire to be. One was Hot House by Pete Early, who was given the run of Leavenworth and spent two years interviewing the inmates. What starts as curiosity on the part of the reader becomes, over time, a recognition of Other. It's as though we are two species: those of us whom we think of as normal and those that wind up in maximum security prisons, both criminals and guards. We gain an insight into an amazing and savage culture that bears no relation to the way the rest of us live, think and feel. The fact that it makes sense in its own terms indicates how intractable the divide is and why we will always need prisons.
The second book is Random Families by Adrian LeBlanc. LeBlanc virtually lived with a number of girls in a tough neighbourhood in the Bronx, following their growing up, their lives, their boyfriends, their families. By the end of the book, we have empathy and understanding into the choices these girls make, even as we ache for them to make better ones.
“God,” said Corbusier, “ is in the details.” And so, he might have added, is insight. Foxfire is too superficial to teach us anything.
Reviewed by Margot
Friday, May 11, 2007
This is the third installment of the Alex McKnight PI series, starting with A Cold Day in Paradise.
Burned out ex-cop turned 'reluctant' PI is living in Paradise, a small town in upper Michigan, watching his favourite Tigers on TV in his favourite (and apparently only) local pub.
One such evening a ghost from his past appears, Randy, whom he last saw 30 years ago. Not only that, but Randy wants him to find his old girlfriend lost for...yeah, 30 years exactly.
Alex, soft hearted as he is, goes down to Michigan to start the investigations which brings him surprise after surprise, and none of them very pleasant, as it turns out. Even Randy is not all that he seems to be...
Ever since I read the first novel, I got taken with this author and made sure that I got all the rest in the series (or put them on my wishlist if not available).
Alex is so well characterised, as if he were here with you, a real person. None of those 2d type cardboard characters. He's funny, sad, ironic, witty. He made me laugh, made me smile, made me smirk, have my heart stop for a beat, made me live vicariously through him, his view on things.
I was only sorry not to have seen Vinnie LeBlanc, his Ojibwa Indian friend, in this episode. The two of them have a chemistry that really cracks me up at times. Oh well, maybe in the next installment.
Reviewed by Marika
Thursday, May 10, 2007
A Graphic Novel/Manga Series of 15 books. I am not going to review each book in the series individually, since I read all of them in one weekend...it was that good.
This series is not for the light hearted. It is full of violence, sex and tons of gore. The story line is a lot like lord of the flies, only more institutionalized. The story starts out how many typical manga tend to, a lot of happy go lucky teenagers going on a group trip. Only difference is this one has a nasty twist. The teenagers have the not so great luck to be drawn for the governments reality show called the "program". All 42 students are dropped on an island, given a duffle bag, with a random weapon which range from semi-automatic machine guns to acid and have to kill each other till there is only one left standing. Each student have been equipped with a collar which will explode if they try to take it off or escape from the island.
If you can handle the gore this is a must read just for the intense suspense and titillating anticipation to see who will best who each chapter. As the story develops with each chapter you get greater insight to the characters past and current mind set. You will find yourself selecting favorites out of the 42 characters. Rooting them on as they survive horror after horror, you will cry with them as they loose their friends and loved one and as one by one they die.
The characters are pretty well rounded, each one from all main tracks of life; poor, rich, geniuses, idiots, a few insane and a lot that were abused. The main character, Shuuya, only wanted to be a rocker when he grew up finds himself responsible for the class cutie, Noriko. Both are a bit idealistic and are in many ways too trusting in other people to do the right thing. The baddies of this story are serious Kiriyama and the beautiful Mitsuko. I found myself sympathizing with them while I gasped in horror at their actions. They were both my favorites to read about. The characters are what make this story so captivating. Almost every character gets a section where they revel what makes them tick and why they act they way the act to each other. The characters were developed so well that when one dies you feel some type of emotional reaction. As you grow attached to the characters you find yourself getting panicked because as the rules state only one will survive. Which of your favorite characters will be sacrificed so that one will survive?
You will just have to read it to find out -- but you will have to buy your own copies cause mine are staying on my shelf :)
Reviewed by Tesse
I know that there are some changes being made to what each person has chosen to read for the monthly challenge. Totally understandable. I for one started a book & decided there was NO WAY I could finish it as I was bored to tears. So I picked a new one, e-mailed Peppertatto & she updated the list she has. I also have a list. As does Julien who was wonderful in helping us to set up the TBR WIKI.
However in order to get all the updates & everything done in a timely manner and as smoothly as possible- I thought it would be most efficient & make the most sense to have everyone in charge of updating their own Bookmooch TBR Club wiki entries each month at the Bookmooch TBR Club Wiki:
A link will be posted to the right.
At the bookmooch wiki- all you need to do is register to become a member (it's free & very very simple to sign up) and then you can edit your books there yourself!
Towards the end of each month- you can head over there & update your book entries yourself for the next month. Be sure to list when you add new entries & delete the old ones & note what month it is for when adding the new book choices for the next month. That way we will be able to tell right off the bat who has updated their list & who hasnt yet.
Then on or around the 3rd of each month Peppertatto or myself can then transfer the New "These are the books I will be reading for "insert month here" over from the bookmooch TBR Wiki to the Blog & post there what everyone will be reading that month in list form & everyone can refer to the WIKI for book updates, changes, etc.
This way Pepper & I can keep track from there without having a lot of loose e-mails floating around whenever anyone makes a minor change & when it's time to list what we are reading for the next month.
Hopefully this is clearer than mud.However If anybody has any questions please dont hesitate to contact me by e-mail! :-)
My thought is that this will help ease the flow of traffic some e-mail wise while allowing you all the chance to edit your own listings on the WIKI site without the TBR Mods having to make each change.
I ask that everyone add a comment with your username to this post so that we know everyone has seen it & is aware of the new changes.
Keep on Reading! ( And then Blogging about it!! ) *Grins*
Steven Pressfield - Last of the Amazons
Bookmooch page: http://bookmooch.com/m/detail/0553813862
Amazon page: http://amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553813862/ref=nosim/bookmooch-20
What is this book about (back cover text):
"I too was numbered among them on the day when the Amazons came. Women the equal of men."
In or around 1250 BC, so Plutarch tells us, Theseus, king of Athens and slayer of the Minotaur, set sail on a journey that brought him to the land of tal Kyrte, the 'Free People', a nation of fiercely proud and passionate warrior women whom the Greeks called 'Amazons'. Owing allegiance to no man, the Amazons distrusted these newcomers with their boastful talk of cities and civilisation. And when their illustrious war queen Antiope fell in love with Theseus and fled to Athens with him, they were outraged. Raising a vast army, the Amazon tribes marched on Athens. History tells us they could not win, but for a brief and glorious moment the Amazons held the Attic world in thrall before vanishing into the immortal realms of myth and legend.
Echoing to the sound of brutal battles fought hand-to-hand and peopled with wonderfully realized flesh and blood characters, this moving tale of love and war, honour and revenge brings the ancient world to brilliant life as it recounts the extraordinary, near-forgotten story of the last of the Amazons...
I mooched this book because I saw that the main character was named "Selene". Reading the book, she is not exactly the main character, just one of the important characters (Selene's doings influences other characters and events, though). Others are Damon (Athenian), and historical/mythological people like Theseus (Athenian) and Eleuthera and Antiope (Amazonian). Though the Amazons do not call themselves that - they call their own people "tal Kyrte", "the Free". There are some interesting passages about what 'free' is; what is 'savage' and what is 'civilised'.
It took the first few chapters for me to get used to the writing style and the English. It reminded me of a prozaic translation from the Iliad or another Greek story text, and I have never read English translations (just the original Greek and Dutch translations). After that the story really started and it was easier to read. Most of the book is 'flashback', telling of the Amazons and their country and their war on Athens, and the story in the chapters at the beginning is continued at the end of the book. Every few chapters the narrator changes, but because there are only a few narrators and they each tell mostly about their own experiences, this is not confusing (and it is written at the beginning of a chapter if the narrator changes).
The descriptions of the battles are rather detailed, describing the weapons used, how people and horses are killed, reactions of the people and horses, etc. Reading those descriptions, it's very easy to imagine being on the battlefield itself.
Immediately after finishing this book, I looked up 'Amazons' in my translation of Herodotos' "Histories". Not much - in book IV 110 and a mention in book IX 27. Interesting, though, when you've just read "Last of the Amazons".
I would recommend this book to people who are interested in other cultures, Greek or others. I found it to be an interesting book that makes you think.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
A man falls over the edge of a cliff. Hurtling down he manages to grasp a tree branch and whilst not religious, he shouts for God to give a helping hand. To his shock a voice from the heavens says ' I shall put out My hand to help thee. I shall hold thee securely. Just let go and trust in me' The man is silent, overwhelmed by the Voice and its message. Looking down, in a small voice he whispers, 'Is there anyone else up there?
If your answers are along the lines of ...Satin get behind me... then best not to read either this review or the book. Because you are about to deal with a detailed argument that the New Testament for example is not the inerrant word of God but a human document created by people trying to live and practice conflicting views of what Christianity meant over 350 years. Christianity in becoming the state religion leads to an Orthodoxy in the form of the Nicene creed and the final victory of one of the many Christian sects. The others are suppressed and their books burned, the Pagan temples are destroyed and anti-Semitism becomes part of popular culture. The diversity of the Christian voices lost is explored by Bart D. Ehrman in his book, Lost Christianities. Charles Freeman explores the impact of the Constantine Christian church in The Closing of the Western Mind.
Misquoting Jesus explores a more simple issue of Textual criticism and the attempt to find the original or more realistically the oldest copy. The challenge is that the written document gets changed as it is transmitted over time given changing medium and tools as much as these wider political and theological struggles. Bart D. Ehrman reveals why these issues shaped his personal journey from being a Christian that saw Billy Graham as a dangerous liberal. He was at university struggling to explain why the Mark reference of 1 SAM.21:2-6 was not wrong. Having written a very complex argument to show it was not a mistake, he gave the paper in and it was given back with the comment, "'maybe Mark just made a mistake'. This opened the floodgates for him to look at explaining the other mistakes and so re-framing what the Bible and his faith was.
The book explores the simple oddity that Christianity with the exception of Judaism was the only book based faith of the period yet 97% more of early Christians were illiterate. Any books and writings were copied from church to church by amateur scribes barely literature themselves. It took most of the 350 years for an agreed cannon to emerge so again hit and miss what versions survived( Virtually most of the complete documents only go back to the 4th century with fragments going back to the 2nd century. These complete older copies themselves did not get rediscovered until 200 odd years after the bible and the King James version was printed based on incomplete and inaccurate manuscripts).
What got copied over the medieval period was more accurate because of professional scribes but textual critics can trace whole families of texts where the same mistakes are transmitted. Bart D. Ehrman explores the tricks of the trade of how texts get judged as accurate. The primary rule appears to be the harder the reading the more likely to be accurate. By this he means that scribes tended to simplify and harmonise texts that appear to be at odds to "common sense" or with what ever theology was dominate at the time.
The issue of textural accuracy began to become a serious political and theological issue as the Bible was translated into local languages as part of the growth of Protestantism. John Mill in 1707 brought the issue out in to the open by showing that 30, 000 variant readings(to day this is known to be 200,000 mostly spelling mistakes, slip of the pen , missed words etc buts its the theological editing and missed/added key sections that Bart D. Ehrman concentrates in in the book) This caused and in some way still causes a major problem for Protestants. If your faith is based in the authority of the Bible as the word of God then it not being accurate undermines that authority as the Catholics were eager to point out. They preferred the justification for authority being based on the church and Pope. Protestants reacted by either denying the existence of mistakes or accepted that the Bible was substantially accurate but seeking for originals or older more accurate versions would not do any harm.
Another reaction older then the textual criticism discussed is associated with Christian groups such as Quakers. Here the issue is that the Bible is not a closed revelation but a living and dynamic one based on a personal relationship's with God and that experience leading to convincement and changes in the world. John Wolman for example, guided Quakers to oppose slavery although the Bible accepts slavery as normal, the issue being how to treat them.
After discussing the mechanics of how the text get altered Bart D. Ehrman explores the complex theological battles of the early days that affected the text. For example those Christians who saw Jesus as Human only, those that saw him as human but adopted by God, those that saw him as divine only etc. The other battle was with the role of woman who had a powerful presence in the early church and the texts reflected the battle to suppress them. A third battle was with Pagans and Jews which he shows how they left their mark on the texts
In these chapters, he also explores the wider issues of who wrote what for what theological purpose. Mark written for the early more Jewish Christians who favoured Jesus as human whist John written with the more sophisticated pagan criticism in mind that Jesus as God would not show human emotions. These ideas and that the New Testament is not a literal history but a series of meditations in line with a liturgical timetable is explored further in Rescuing the bible from Fundamentalism by John Shelby Spong.
As you can see lots of big issues but the book is simple and clear and you can come to it fresh or experienced and still learn. I strongly recommend it. You faith may be changed or challenged but
recognise and accept that there is another dimension to life than that what is obvious to us. Live with obstacles, doubt and paradox, knowing, that God is always present in the world.
Monday, May 7, 2007
The girl followed the Alchemist from the time she was a child, her only wish was to please him and make him proud. She studied, she learned, she could speak and read several languages. She knew the Latin names of all the plants, trees and animals on the estate. She knew the properties of water and fire. She was Emilie Selden, the Alchemist’s daughter. He wrote of her each night in the Emilie Notebooks. She was his most interesting experiment, his crowning achievement and he loved her dearly. Her mother was a mystery to her. Her only inheritance from her mother, a bit of ribbon and the stark, isolated room in one of the unused portions of the manor. The region of England they lived in was very isolated and she was so naïve. Falling in love too easily, giving herself too freely, she found herself with child by a man she loved. His power over her was sensual and easily bought. Her father turned her away, banishing Emilie, her husband and her future child from Selden. She traveled to London where she strived to be the great lady her husband wished her to be. She loved him, trusted him, and was betrayed. The story is of her journey from childhood to woman she was to become. This is not the sort of book I usually read. To be honest, I saw it more as a high level romance novel. Though I enjoyed it, it didn’t grab me and hold my attention like I thought it would. The blurb on the back cover talked of how she and her father were attempting to breathe live into dead matter. That was the story line that caught my attention. It was a great disappointment to me that so little of the book was actually about the experiment unless you see it in the symbolic sense.
Reviewed by Kathy
Arthur & George is an masterful novel based on the true story of two fascinating people and actual events that occurred in Britan. It is hard to describe this book without being a plot spoiler! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes investigates a criminal case, that appears to be a gross miscarriage of justice, centering around George Edalji. George is the somewhat naive son of a Parsee vicar of a small English church and a Scottish mother. George has no friends, he is shy, quiet and reserved, and is quite a study in contrast to the ever popular Arthur. Barnes unveils the history of these two characters in short staccato bursts, revealing each character's boyhood, development and eventual occupation, until finally their lives overlap. It is not only a story of victimization, it is a story of love, loss and what it means to be different - even if you don't believe you are - in an often cruel world. Surprisingly, it was George I admired more, when all was said and done. His quiet stoicism is often the metal which gets us all through life. Arthur & George is a great read, although the beginning chapters were making me slightly dizzy from the machine gun pace of developing their characters, eventually it slows down and becomes so engrossing that you have to continue to turn each page. I highly recommend it. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Julian Barnes is a great storyteller, I will be adding his other works to my wishlist.
abe books author interview: http://www.abebooks.co.uk/docs/authors-corner/julian-barnes.shtml
Julian Barnes other books include, Flaubert's Parrot and England, England, both of which have also been nominated for the Booker Prize.
Random 'Novel' Thoughts
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Saturday, May 5, 2007
In a land where vampires and demons lurk below the surface of society, unknown to most humans, there is one woman who has fought them all her life. Natayla, part Carpathian, part Human, part Mage, has been alone for almost a full century since the loss of her twin brother to the hands of a Hunter - her mortal enemy. Stalked to the end of the earth by her enemies; she finds her self drawn to the hills of the Carpathian Mountains in search of something unknown calling out to her. Her journey is fraught with danger from all sides from humans and monsters with no one to call friend she is forced to accept the help of a stranger, Vikirnoff. In the heat of a battle. Natayla finds herself indebted to Vikirnoff and must care for him as he was gravely wounded while protecting her against the demons who seek her life. They discover they have a bond that reaches far back in time but Natayla won't have any of it as she will take orders from no one and Vikirnoff just wants a woman who will obey him. But Vikinrnoff has a secret which will destroy their blooming love...he is a hunter... and she is his prey.
This is a pretty good paranormal love story about vampires, demons and slayers. The two main characters are pleasant enough. I liked Natayla as a character and felt she could have had a bit more fleshing out on her past but I suspect that is being held for another book since the ending kind of just left it open. Vikirnoff is a typical alpha male.. all about being the man. I was disappointed in the ending since it felt a bit rushed. Plently of action all though out the book, one moment in a huge battle the next in each other arms happily making out. The side characters really didn't get fleshed out much. I really felt that the writer could have given more information on their pasts or personalities but it was more of Hi, I am so-so, I am with so-so, and that is all you get to know. I will admit I do not read many romance novels so this might be in the norm for them. I just normally expect to get to know the supporting cast a bit more. I think the story line has the makings of several more books to come.
Over all it was an enjoyable book to read. I do not regret reading it and would recommend it to my friends.
edit: Ha! I should have done a bit more research on the series. This book is actually the 16th book in the series. The supporting cast are featured in the previous books so if you want a long series to read.. this is it. Here is a website that you can get more info on the series
Click here to mooch this book:
Reviewed by Tesse
In the first section, Storm in June she explores the impact of the fall of Paris in June 1940 falls and like a pebble falling into a pool we follow how this affects the life of various families and individuals. The Pericand's are an upper middle class family who flee and in the course of the flight the two sons, Hubert and Phillipe discover to fateful costs the depth of their political or religious pretensions. In Gabriel Corte the emptiness and selfishness of many intellectuals is explored and exposed. Or with other characters how the ordinary working class people were mistreated and trampled over.
This is not a history book but a moving story where we dip in and out of peoples lives as they deal with extraordinary events. In the second section, Dolce she explores how French and German lives interweave with each other in a small village two years after the invasion. Some of these characters and events have been touched on in the first section of the book but both sides have virtues and flaws. The writing and tone is superb and runs in the French naturalism tradition(think Zola).
Given the humanity of the writing and the story, its deepens the tragedy that she had escaped the death camps of the Russian Revolution only to die in Auschwitz. These fragments of a planned 5 part novel survived as her young children grabbed the diary as a memento of their mother whilst fleeing and hiding amongst relatives and friends. Their father also being snatched and dying in Auschwitz, a few months after their mother. The daughters found it too painful to read and so didn't discover until the 90's that the small bearable print was in fact the two sections of this novel.
Weep for what may have been and enjoy what we have. Highly recommended even for the fellows.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Turtles young life was a sad life: there was abuse and abandonement. But Taylor takes her in and loves her as her own. Unfortunately, Turtle is Cherokee, and the adoption through which Taylor makes Turtle her daugher is illegal according to Cherokee law. Will Taylor loose this child who she has come to love more than her own life? Will Turtle's life continue to be one of loss and despair due to being taken from the mom she has come to know and love? I can't tell you that...it would be a spoiler for sure.
But I can tell you that this book was very enjoyable...a must read after having read The Bean Trees. I suggest you read them both!
Self-Made Man is a look at what it’s like to be a man, written by a woman who successfully disguised herself and lived as a male for 18 months. The author, Norah Vincent, a writer for The Los Angeles Times, says she undertook this experiment out of curiosity for the differences between men and women, not from any deep feelings of being a man trapped in a woman’s body.
The various chapters in the book address different aspects of our lives—life, love, work, etc. Her male alter-ego, Ned Vincent, joins a men’s bowling league, lives in a monastery for a few months, goes on dates with women, visits strip clubs where “he” endures lap dances, and joins a men’s psychotherapy group.
The author is a lesbian who, from her earliest memories, has been perceived as a rather “masculine” female. Ironically, once she became “Ned,” most people assumed she was a gay man because she came off as being feminine, which really surprised her. At some point in most of her relationships with the people she met, she eventually revealed herself to be a woman. The reactions of the people are varied, and quite interesting.
The stress of having to pretend to be someone she wasn’t, for so long, and lying to people with whom she’d developed close friendships, eventually took its toll on her mental health, which she explains toward the end of the book. After reading the book, I listened to an interview with her on www.npr.org, which was a nice follow-up to the book.
I found her experiences fascinating and very enlightening, though sometimes she went on a bit too long with her analyses of our gender differences. After finishing this book, I wanted to explore gender differences even more, so I am now reading Deborah Tannen’s Talking From 9 to 5, about men and women communicating in the workplace.