Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani


Completion Date: June 2007
Pages: 384
Publication Year: 2007
Purchased in 2007

Reason for Reading: Michelle Moran, author of Nefertiti, recommended it, saying that it was her favourite historical fiction novel and I am always looking for a good recommendation.

In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great. Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
I read a fair amount of historical fiction, and I have to say, this is one of the more original historical fiction novels I have ever read. Most of the historical fiction that I have read takes place in Canada, the United States, Egypt, or the United Kingdom. This is the first time I have read a historical fiction novel, that I remember, set in 17th-century Persia.

During the 17th-century in this region, it was a male-dominated society. It is still this way in many Middle Eastern countries. In this novel, a young girl watches a comet shoots across the sky, and when it has passed life begins to change for her very drastically. She should have been finding her husband and moving on with her life, but her father dies unexpectantly and suddenly her and her mother have nothing. She has no dowry to find a husband, and they have no one to farm for them, so they are just barely getting by. A kind man comes to the village and asks them if there is anything he can do for them, and the mother implores him to track down her deceased husbands half-brother in the hopes that he will take them in and help them get back on their feet.

When they move from their village to the rather large Isfahan, life changes drastically for her and her mother. Suddenly they are not in control of their own household, and have to take orders from the wife of their father's brother. She is not very sympathetic, and looks upon them as new slaves for her household. She does not really know anything about domestic work, but she does have ideas about how it should be done. They live in riches, but she is always afraid that there will not be enough, so she is always looking for oppurtunities to gather more wealth for her husband.

Her niece opens up what she hopes will be a great business venture when a wealthy man asks to marry her. It is not a regular wedding, though, the marriage would only last for three months, and then he can request more time with her every three months after that. It could turn into a regular marriage, but in the process she will lose her virginity and this can jeopardize future relationships. It is a chance that her mother is willing to take because it will give her money. Her aunt wants it to happen because it could meet more business for her rug-making husband.

This book is about a girl in a very strict culture wishing for something more. She wants to be a rug-maker like her uncle, but that is not an oppurtunity that is allowed to women. Her uncle helps her, though, teaching her the tricks of his trade and allowing her to help him. When things get complicated with her marriage arrangement, she must decide on a safe course of action or one where her safety net could disappear. She has to decide whether her own future is more important than the safety the marriage is currently providing her with. This is a book about a girl that dares to break the rules of her society to better herself and live out her dreams.

Parting Thoughts: I loved this book! It was by far one of my favourite reads this year, as I stated in my Thusday Thirteen of favourite reads so far this year. It is a different sort of read for me, and a very worthwhile one at that. Especially considering it is her first novel, I think she did a wonderful job. I look forward to reading more from her and I strongly recommend this book.

In Other News:
Do not forget to get your pictures or emails in to be entered into Colleen's Contest on Twisted Kingdom to win an advanced reading copy of The Bleeding Dusk. Still not sure if Gleason's book are for you? My review of Rises the Night and The Rest Falls Away. I am sure that The Bleeding Dusk will be just as enjoyable.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Twisted Kingdom Reviews

I posted some reviews on Twisted Kingdom lately, just in case anyone interested, I have reviewed:

Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason.

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Clockwork by Philip Pullman

Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda

The Briar King by Greg Keyes

Thursday Thirteen


As June draws to a close, I have read just over 100 books. Now, I find myself wanting to do a Thursday Thirteen of my favourites out of the 100. This should be interesting and in no particular order. All the links can be found on the left hand sidebar.

1. The Rest Falls Away and Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason

2. The Josephine B. Trilogy by Sandra Gulland

3. The Silver Rose by Susan Carroll

4. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

5. The Blood of Flowers by Anita

6. 28: Stories of AIDs in Africa by Stephenie Nolan

7. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

8. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

9. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

10.Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond Feist

11.Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

12.Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda

13.Map of Bones/Black Order/Deep Fathom by James Rollins

Honourable Mentions:

Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist

Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

The Eagle's Brood by Jack Whyte

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am a Blogging Addict...

64%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?


Twisted Kingdom Giveaway!

Ladies and Gents, if you head on over to Twisted Kingdom right now you will get a very unique oppurtunity: the chance to win a new book! And, not just any book, a book that will not even be out in advanced reading copy until the fall and will not be on the bookshelves until February! Do I have your attention, some of you may even have already figured out what it is already, but if you have not, we are giving away a copy of the third book in Colleen Gleason's fantastic series! To learn all the details head on over to Twisted Kingdom. Best of luck in the drawing to everyone! Also, be sure and pick up your copy of Rises the Night which is in bookstores now (I got my copy today). The contest closes on July 10th.

Stay tuned on TK, though, I also will be interviewing author Rene Lyons this week, and she will be guest blogging (and she made mention of some sort of prize as well!) A great week all around on TK!

Did you read this down to the bottom? If you did, you are tagged! To achieve the rules of the tag, all you have to do is post about this contest on your blog and link back to TK!

Sounder by William Armstrong and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


So, the other day I got all the books that I have read and was not a big fan of together and off to the second hand store I went. This means that I no longer have these books handy, and I really did not like them, so they are not really fresh in my mind any longer. Sounder won a Newbery Award, and it was a cute book, but I just could not find the big attraction with it. It is likely more reflective of the time it was released in than anything. Not liking Speak surprised me because I had heard really good things about it. I just could not get into it at all, and I think part of it was the writing style.

So, I will just leave you with the book descriptions and you can make your own decisions about whether or not you want to read them.

Speak description:

The first ten lies they tell you in high school
"Speak up for yourself - we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows that this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and is is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In this powerful novel, an utterly believeable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
I am wondering if this book did not work for me because I am not a teen anymore... not sure.

Description for Sounder:
A landmark in children's literature, winner of the 1970 Newbery Medal, and the basis of an acclaimed film, Sounder traces the keen sorrow and the abiding faith of a poor African-American boy in the 19th century South. The boy's father is a sharecropper, struggling to feed his family in hard times. Night after night, he and his great coon dog, Sounder, return to the cabin empty-handed. Then, one morning, almost like a miracle, a sweet-smelling ham is cooking in the family's kitchen. At last the family will have a good meal. But that night, an angry sheriff and deputies come, and the boy's life will never be the same.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Random Ramblings


I find that my blog has been more about the book reviews and less about the randomness lately. It is often because I have too many other things to do to think of something creative to post about. I do know one thing, in my Spring Reading Thing recap I talked about how my reading has been great and there have hardly been any books that I did not like. Well, that all changed. I think mood played a part, but I tried to read City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin and The Ladies Lending Library and I did not like either of them! It might be a bit unfair, I think that The Ladies Lending Library is the perfect book to read on the beach, the perfect summer read. Just, for some unknown reason, it did not attract my attention. I think I miss my fantasy, I have not really read much fantasy this month, so I am remedying that.

I am curious, what books are people looking forward to in the last six months of this year? Harry Potter is obvious, but what else has peoples' interest? In July, I am looking forward to The Huntress by Susan Carroll, The Judas Strain by James Rollins, and the paperback release of Consumption by Kevin Patterson. The new Jasper Fforde also comes out, but I am not ready for it yet, so it will have to wait.

In August, there is an anthology coming out that includes Patricia Briggs called On the Prowl. The short story in here is supposed to be the beginnings of another series from this author, so I am pretty excited about that! Two books a year, as she will still be doing the Mercedes Thompson series. Red Seas Under Red Skies will also be out. This is by Scott Lynch and is the sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora. I have not read this book yet, so the sequel is not exactly a priority. Jack Whyte has a new book out, but I have not read the book that comes before it. Stephenie Meyer, though, has Eclipse out, and while I have to admit I think there are people more excited than I am, I still plan to pick up this book when it comes out. Lastly, Danielle brought a series to my attention, and the boxed set will be released here in August. I imagine I will be acquiring it because it looks like something I would like.

So, those are the summer books that I am looking forward to, and I have to admit, only a few of them are priority. I would love to think this will mean hardly no book buying over the summer, but that does not usually work out the way I planned it! Plus, there are always authors that I do not look up that have books coming out.

I am also very anxiously waiting to be a proud new owner of a Poppet! If only to show everyone that does not know what it is what I am talking about and that I am not crazy. I tried to describe it to my mother tonight, but ended up taking over her computer to show her a picture. I think she thinks I am crazy... I was going to buy one (and still might as I would really like a blue one), but now I am getting my very own!

My Ratings and Thoughts on an Event from the Weekend

Online Dating
I am not surprised, I try and avoid "bad" words.

I also have to say that something rather horrible happened over the weekend. I am not a huge wrestling fan, but one of the heroes of lots of my male friends died in what they are saying was a double murder-suicide. It was strange, I was at Tom's and he was saying how the wrestler was supposed to win a title belt on Sunday but he was not there because of a family emergency. Then, like two seconds later he said he was not there because he was dead.

Anyways, the wrestler was Chris Benoit. Tom was really sad because he grew up watching Benoit on television. I never understand this stuff, it seems rather hard to believe that this man who always showed that he loved his family and was happy in his career is now believed to have spent the weekend killing his family. Although, there are two other children that apparently were not present. Normally this is not something that I would dwell on, but I spent all day yesterday hearing about it. These things are just crazy, whether they happen to someone you know or complete strangers. I guess it will be a while before all the details are known. To read some of the story, if anyone is interested, click here

I also wonder if he really did do it, what would that do for his reputation. Will people understand that some people have problems that are undiagnosed and these things happen to the most unlikely people or will everyone that loved him for the great wrestler that he was hate him now...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Once Upon a Time Wrap Up

I won the Grand Prize for completing the Once Upon a Time challenge, so I am pretty excited! It was early in the morning and I clicked the prize envelope and was shocked to see my name there. For some reason I was thinking I was not eligible to win, it was really early and I was tired. I really liked this challenge, as fantasy is quite easily my favourite genre. A huge thanks to Carl for such a great idea.

The books I read for this challenge were:

1. Dragons of the Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
2. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
4. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
5. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
6. Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond Feist
7. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
8. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
9. Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
10.Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
11.The Briar King by Greg Keyes
12.Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist

Click on the links to see the reviews. I look forward to next year!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Black Order by James Rollins


Completion Date: June 2007
Pages: 448
Publication Year: 2006
Owned Prior to 2007
Book 3 (or 2 depending on whether you count Sandstorm) in the Sigma Series.

Reason for Reading: The next book in the series, The Judas Strain, will be out in July.
A sinister fire in a Copenhagen bookstore ignites a relentless hunt across four continents. Arson and murder reveal an insidious plot to steal a Bible that once belonged to Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory. And Commander Gray Pierce dives headlong into a mystery that dates back to Nazi Germany . . . and to horrific experiments performed in a now-abandoned laboratory buried in a hollowed-out mountain in Poland.

A continent away, madness ravages a remote monastery high in Nepal, as Buddhist monks turn to cannibalism and torture. Lisa Cummings, a young American doctor investigating the atrocity, is suddenly a target of a brutal assassin working for clandestine forces that want the affair buried at any cost. Lisa's only ally is a hidden pilgrim, Painter Crowe -- director of SIGMA Force, an elite command of American scientists and Special Forces operatives -- who is already showing signs of the baffling malady that destroyed the minds of the monks.

Now it is up to Gray Pierce to save both Painter and Lisa -- and a world in jeopardy -- as SIGMA Force races to expose a century-old plot that threatens to destroy the current world order . . . and alter the destiny of humankind forever.

Combining the historic scope of The Da Vinci Code with the relentless thrills of today's best action novels, James Rollins's Black Order is a classic adventure -- an ingenious and breathtaking tour de force that explodes with revelations . . . while offering a startling new view of our place in the grand scheme of existence.

Two James Rollins books in one month, very unusual for me. This book follows on from Map of Bones in Rollins new Sigma Series. I do suggest, though, if you plan on reading it that you read Deep Fathom first because Lisa Cummings is in both books. It just helps you better understand where she is coming from. I hope that Rollins includes more people from his standalone books in this series, it was nice to see her again.

When this book first came out, I have to admit that I was intrigued by the Nazi storyline and how exactly that was going to come into play. Rollins has a lot going on all at one time, and for most of the book you know it is going to end up being related, but it takes a while for you to find out why. The adventure all seems to be connected to a Darwinian Bible that was supposed to be auctioned off. The people that want it will go to great lengths to acquire it, putting the Sigma force in dangers that they were not anticipating. It is Gray Pierce that finds himself tied up in this mess, all starting with the explosion of a bookstore he had set out to investigate to learn more about the Bible.

Painter Crowe returns as well, being the one character that has appeared in all three books, he is always a good addition to the mix. Things are different for him this time, though, because he got caught in a town where a terrifying illness is running amuck. Lisa Cummings comes to investigate the illness and finds herself in the midst of a Sigma operation and far away from the Mount Everest climb that was her intention. Crowe withstands admirably, but there comes a point where it is up to Gray to be the hero. He is having relationship troubles which are put on the back burner for the majority of the book, but he is determined.

It is up to the Sigma team to get to the bottom of this decades old plot and save themselves and the world. There are lots of close calls in this book and it is anyones guess who will live and who will die. Including a supporting cast that adds to the story, this book will keep you riveted until the last page. I really wish, though, that thrillers did not have to compare with The Da Vinci Code to be considered good nowadays, but it seems to be the mark of a good book. I will say it again, Rollins is better than Brown, so everyone should read him.

Parting Thoughts: Another edge of your seat by, for me, the king of thrillers. As thrillers are not my normal genre read, I do not have a lot of people to compare him with, so take that as you will. I will be interested to see what happens next for Sigma, and I only have to wait about a week. (Hopefully).

The Judas Strain will be in stores on July 2, 2007.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland


Completion Date: June 20, 2007
Publication Year: 2006 (from Harper Collins)
Pages: 344
Received from Harper Collins in 2007.

Reason for Reading: Shortlisted for last years Booker Award.
Eleven-year-old John Egan has an unusual talent: he can tell when people are lying. John hopes that one day his gift will guarantee his entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Until then, he must navigate the powerful and destructive undercurrents of his loving but fragile family.

When John and his parents move to the council-flat slums of Dublin, John finds himself in a perilous world. Even his relationship with his mother—a bond that is peculiarly close—begins to break down. Amid the confusion of shifting landscapes and loyalties, he can rely only on his ability to detect lies. But John’s obsession for discerning the truth becomes a violent and frightening fixation.

As she did in her internationally acclaimed debut, How the Light Gets In, M. J. Hyland introduces us to a character whose voice is immediate, compelling and real. Simply told and beautifully written, Carry Me Down is a singular tale of disturbed love.

I have come to the conclusion over the years that books with children as the main characters and narrators are very hit or miss for me. The writer has to capture the child in just a certain way, or I find myself losing interest. John, the eleven-year-old narrator, annoyed me. Some people say that if you feel something for the characters it means that the book is speaking to you. I seem to miss out on that idea, though, because if I find the main character annoying, the book loses part of its appeal for me. Take Water for Elephants, the book was interesting and had a good subject matter, but I found the main character so annoying that it took away from the book for me. The same thing happened with this book.

That being said, the subject matter of this book was something that was interesting, and even though John annoyed me, there were other aspects of the book that made up for it. I personally do not think it would have been worthy of the Booker, should it have won, because there are so many other good books out there. That is not to say it was a bad book, just not what I think of when I think of award-winning. Taking place with a family that is on the brink of destruction, John has a rather disturbing relationship with his mother. He is rather tall for his age, a boy caught in a man's body, and his thought processes can be rather disturbing. Some of the events that happen in the book you have to sit there and remember that he is only 11, so it might not make sense to an adult mind, but it is perfectly acceptable to a mind on the brink of maturity.

The mother is a very odd character, it is very likely safe to say that she has undiagnosed depression and it might be from her that her son gets some of his strange tendancies. The father, on the other hand, is distant from John. He has dreams that he wishes to fulfill, but I do not believe that he has the drive to succeed with them. These are the three main characters, with a few others appearing from time to time including a gambling grandmother, a book-selling aunt, her reclusive husband, some cousins, and a few other characters here and there. John is also obsessed with breaking world records and he believes that he is a human lie detector.

Parting Thoughts: Overall, for me, just an average book. It was not bad, I read it the first day that I got it, but it was not great either. Hyland has a lot of things going on, though, and while I think she is a great writer, I just could not get passed my annoyance with the main character.

Totally Not Important, but I am telling you Anyways: I just finished a wonderful historical fiction book set in Iran. It was totally a different sort of historical fiction than I am used to reading. I will review it either tomorrow or later in the week. I am currently reading Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens. It is actually another pen name for James Rollins, so I will be interested to see if this book is as good as his non-fantasy writing. It is book one in The Banned and Banished series. Then, I plan to read Icehunt by James Rollins or a book by Margaret Weis, as she is author of the month on Twisted Kingdom this month. (Speaking of Twisted Kingdom, where are all my Colleen Gleason book pictures? I like to think that more than one person in the world had a camera!) Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to sneak myself upstairs and away from the large group of girls that are currently taking over my house!

Anyone reading anything good that they feel like sharing? Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters by Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution


Completion Date: June 20, 2007
Publication Year: 2003
Pages: 368
Received from Harper Collins in 2007

Reason for Reading: I love both of Wally Lamb's books, so when I heard about this one I decided that I had to read it one of these days. Then, I got it in the mail, and here we are.

In a stunning work of insight and hope, New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb once again reveals his unmatched talent for finding humanity in the lost and lonely and celebrates the transforming power of the written word.

For several years, Lamb has taught writing to a group of women prisoners at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut. In this unforgettable collection, the women of York describe in their own words how they were imprisoned by abuse, rejection, and their own self-destructive impulses long before they entered the criminal justice system. Yet these are powerful stories of hope and healing, told by writers who have left victimhood behind.

In his moving introduction, Lamb describes the incredible journey of expression and self-awareness the women took through their writing and shares how they challenged him as a teacher and as a fellow author. Couldn't Keep It to Myself is a true testament to the process of finding oneself and working toward a better day.

This book can open up lots of discussion. I know that when I finished it I found myself talking to the other person who was in the room with me at the time, and we have very different opinions on how a person should be treated after they commit a crime. I really want that person to read this book because it is very eye-opening, and I think that it helps people see the other side of the bars in a way that has never been explored before. I remember there was a Canadian woman who challenged the early jail system for whipping the inmates. She was ridiculed because she was a woman, but no one could call such harsh treatment appropriate and normal.

I will say it right now, the reason that I likely find myself relating to these women is because I know parts of their stories because they are not so different from my own. I can very easily see how they were treated as children can relate to who they become as adults, especially when the other parent is working to support the family and cannot always be there the way that a child needs. I was not horrified by the people that these women have become, I was gladdened by the fact that they seem to know where they came from, and by understanding the past you can make changes for the future.

These stories capture a small percentage of the women locked up in institutions across the United States. These women tell you very plainly about the abuse, struggles, and abandonment that they faced as adults and children. You hear the stories that no one else tells, the stories of how they really are people and they really do have their own lives. They are not the crimes that they have committed, they are people. Wally Lamb has put together a collection that puts faces to the statistics, it makes them more than numbers. Each story is very powerful and you can see how hard it would be to tell the world what you faced in your life. All of these women are very brave, and while we may not all agree with how people are treated in these institutions, it would be nice if people could remember these people as more than just faceless masses.

Parting Thoughts: I was very moved by this collection of short stories. I, like many others, think of convicted felons by their crimes and forget sometimes that they are real people who have faced real hardships (well, not all the time) and have made a big mistake in life. I am always amazed by the people that were the victims of terrible crimes and can tell the person that did it to them that they forgive them. Wally Lamb just made sure that people saw the people behind the crimes, and while this does not necessarily represent everyone convicted of a crime, it gives readers a chance to see some of the stories. I strongly recommend this book, not just for the powerful stories, but for the stories that show women working towards a better day.

What Would Hermione Read?


I guest blogged on Harper Collins "What Would Harry Read" Blog today from Hermione's point of view. The book I reviewed is Warriors: Midnight by Erin Hunter. To see the review and learn why I thought Hermione would like it, click here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Deep Fathom by James Rollins


My Hundredth Book of the Year!!!
Completion Date: June 18, 2007
Pages:
Publication Year: 2001
Owned Prior to 2007

Reason for Reading: James Rollins is a very refreshing author.

Ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find the Earth burning.

Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. Air Force One has vanished from the skies with America's president on board. Now, with the U.S. on the narrow brink of a nuclear apocalypse, Kirkland must pilot his oceangoing exploration ship, Deep Fathom, on a desperate mission miles below the ocean's surface. There devastating secrets await him—and a power an ancient civilization could not contain has been cast out into modern day. And it will forever alter a world that's already racing toward its own destruction.

I think I have made it slightly clear over the last couple hundred posts that I am a bit of a James Rollins fangirl. I had some book credit at the bookstore one day, and an acquaintance was working. I asked her to pick something out for me to read, and she chose James Rollins. I read Amazonia first, and I just was hooked! I love history, and there is a history theme to his books, I love a bit of fantasy, and there is a bit of fantasy. Even if the things that occur in his books could happen, they have not yet. Add in some adventure and a bit of thriller action, and you have James Rollins. Let me say it, he might not mind being compared to Dan Brown, but my Dan Brown books went to the second hand store, James Rollins has a place of honour on my shelves.

I have to say, this one had a slowish start and I was worried that I was not going to finish it, but I did and I was hooked to my seat for the majority of the pages. I have read all of Rollins books except Icehunt, and I have never not liked one. (Review of Black Order, which I am currently finishing up, will be forth-coming). Even some of my other favourite authors have that one book that I just did not like, did not make them less of an author in my eyes, it was just not a book that caught my attention. So far, that has not happened with Rollins.

In this book, we are transported to an underwater world and an ancient civilization. The end of the world is looming, a typical thrillerish plotline, but why the world is near its end and what happens in an attempt to save it will attract readers to the story. Jack Kirkland is an interesting character, he has had a rough past that he is running from, but it always seems to catch up. His shipmates are an interesting assortment of people, and actually one of them is the main character in Black Order. So, I suggest reading Deep Fathom before it.

I think the thing that attracts me so much to Rollins books is the chance to wonder. He finds lost civilizations, ancient cities, and worlds that transport you back in time. He sets his books in places, though, that it could happen. This one, for example, spends a great deal of time underwater. The ocean floor is largely unexplored territory, so it is not impossible for the things that happen to happen.

So, this is another post from the Rollins fangirl! Another interesting book, and I do not even really like books that are classified as thrillers! I think everyone should read Rollins.

Parting Thoughts: Deep Fathom is not officially part of Rollins Sigma series, but I think you should read it before reading Black Order. Not because it is essential, but because Lisa Cummings is in both books. A new book in the Sigma series, The Judas Strain, will be on on July 2, 2007.

Totally Not Important, but I am telling you Anyways: I got all James Rollins old books with the new covers from Harper Collins! Incidently, this was not included, so I intend to buy it so that all my covers match.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Won a Book!


I learned this morning that I won The Last Summer (of You and Me), the adult effort by Ann Brashares! I had almost bought this earlier in the month because of the author, but decided that I would wait and hear thoughts about it first. I am very happy to be receiving it from Kristina from Kristina's Book Blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spring Reading Thing Wrap Up


What was the best book you read this spring?
- That is a hard question because I have read a lot of good books this spring. My favourite would have to be 28: Stories of AIDs in Africa by Stephanie Nolen, but I read a lot of good fantasy, historical fiction, and non-fiction this spring. For the Spring Reading Thing, I really enjoyed Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda and Helpless by Barbara Gowdy.

What book could you have done without?
- Sounder, even if it won a Newberry, it did not do a lot for me. Speak, I heard a lot of good things about this book, but when it came time to read it I was not really impressed.

Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again?
- I tried a lot of new authors this spring. The problem with me is that I do not read enough old favourites and they pile up! Some new ones: Tracy Hickman, Jim Butcher, Raymond Feist, Alan Alda, Kelley Armstrong, etc.

If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it?
- No DNFs so far this year! I am doing great in that respect!

Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones?
- Oh, probably. I am always adding books to my list. I need to start writing down where they come from.

What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share!
- I learned that now that I am not in university reading school books all the time, my level of reading non-fiction books for fun has increased, but my overall reading each month has not changed yet. I am still hopeful...

What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing?
- Reading five books that have been on the TBR pile for longer than I wanted them to be!

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall?
- I am not sure. I would have to see what the challenge was all about and determine if I am joining any others. I cannot seem to do very many at the same time because I get bored and like variety in my reading. If it was as flexible, probably.

Any other thoughts, impressions, or comments.
- Not at the moment. Just, glad that I joined in! If anything I discovered a lot of new blogs through this experience. That's one of the best things about reading challenges.

Oh, happy days!


New Bon Jovi CD came out today!!!! I know his music is not as great as it used to be, he is experimenting a lot nowadays, but he is one of those few CDs that I will automatically buy. I have love him for years, he can do no wrong (it seems) for me. So far I am on song three, and I have to say that it is not a bad CD. I am off to enjoy it, hope everyone is having a good day!

As for reading, I have books on the go, but I am slow with actually FINISHING them. Hopefully things will pick up soon!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe


Completion Date: May 2007
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 256
Received from Random House in 2007

When should you email, and when should you call, fax, or just show up?

What is the crucial—and most often overlooked—line in an email?

What is the best strategy when you send (in anger or error) a potentially career-ending electronic bombshell?

Enter Send. Whether you email just a little or never stop, use a desktop or a handheld, here, at last, is an authoritative and delightful book that shows how to write the perfect email—at work, at school, or anywhere. Send also points out the numerous (but not always obvious) times when email can be the worst option and might land you in hot water (or even jail!).

The secret is, of course, to think before you click. Send is nothing short of a survival guide for the digital age—wise, brimming with good humor, and filled with helpful lessons from the authors’ own email experiences (and mistakes). In short: absolutely e-ssential.
So, do you think before you email? You would think that since there is time to think about it, that you can delete sentences easily, but people all over the world are using bad email etiquette. These two men have taken it upon themselves to educate the world in just how emails should be handled, the rules for whether you should email, write a letter, phone, or fax.

I learned a few things, like after spending four years in university not using contractions, you actually should use contractions in emails. This book has its humour too, so it was very readable. In a world where email is everything, it is good to have a book to direct you in the right direction.

To read an excerpt from the book, click here.

Now, here's the question of the week: Do you think before you email? Any embarassing email stories that anyone wants to share?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Always Fresh: The Untold Story of Tim Hortons by the Man Who Created a Canadian Empire by Ron Joyce


Date Completed: May 2007
Publication Year: 2006
Pages: 233
Purchased in 2007

It’s as Canadian as hockey and beer, and almost every town has at least one. Many know that it was hockey legend Tim Horton who opened the first Tim Hortons restaurant in Hamilton, but few know the inside story of Ron Joyce, the former cop who, after the death of Horton, grew the company into a colossal North American enterprise that now earns over a billion dollars a year.

Always Fresh is Joyce’s own story in a blend of memoir and business book, as he looks back at how the franchise became a sacred cultural tradition. Joyce takes us back to 1964, from the first almost-failed Tim Hortons Donut Shop in Hamilton, to his full partnership with the eponymous hockey player and the tough years of franchise expansion. Recalling the tragic death of Tim Horton in 1974, and relating the little-known chapter on Joyce’s attempt to sell the chain and his subsequent legal battles with Tim’s widow, Lori, here Joyce sets the record straight. With great candour, he reveals the strategy behind the chain’s phenomenal expansion, including the introduction of Timbits; how Tim Hortons'coffee has become a number one seller, despite intense competition; an inside look at Donut University; and just why it is that every day tens of thousands of Canadians line up for Tim Hortons products. Joyce also gives the inside scoop on menu items that didn’t quite work out, the company’s launch of drive-thrus, why the franchises have done so well in small towns, his decision to sell the company to Dave Thomas of Wendy’s, and gives his take on Tim Hortons’ much-anticipated IPO. This book provides an insider’s look at an empire, its successes and failures, and the determined passion and character of the man who created it.

This is one of those books that Canadians should buy because there will always be people that have not read it, and you can come up with random trivia from it to make you look really smart. That is what I have been doing since I read this book. I had heard about it a couple times since it came out, but I had never remembered to look for it. Last month, I was ordering books and for some reason it popped into my head, so I ordered it and read it soon after. First off, let me just point out one thing. Tim Hortons is the largest coffee shop chain in Canada. While Ron Joyce owns it no longer, it was thanks to him, and a wonderful team, that the business has flourished as well as it has. Ron Joyce has a 9th grade education. I think that goes to show you that with hard work and determination, dreams do come true.

Tim Hortons started out as a donut shop, but nowadays it is one of the main places for people to go to pick up a cup of coffee. "Double-double" (two creams and two sugars) is even in the dictionary. There are very few places that you can go to in this large nation that does not have a Tim Hortons, or at least have one near it. (The North is a little iffy, but not impossible). It is named after a hockey player, Tim Horton, who used to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs as well as some American teams. He died in a car crash, though, while Tims was just gaining popularity, so while it was him that started it, it was Ron Joyce that built it to what it is today. I have to admit, I never even thought about who Tim Horton was for years, they do a good job keeping the restaurant separate from the man. According to the book, when the company first started, though, Tim Horton as a hockey player was a major draw, but that changed over the years. (Now, it is back. If you read the video screens they have at Tims it tells about him a bit).

I really enjoyed learning how timbits came into existence and when the first time people everywhere "Roll up the Rim to Win". Ron Joyce talks about the struggles to make the company what it is today, and he talks about his regrets for selling out to Wendy's when he was ready to move on to another aspect of his life. I do think he went on about that a bit much, to be honest. I will admit I was sad to hear that Tims was no longer Canadian owned, but they have at least kept it a part of Canada. The bakery is also not fresh anymore, something I noticed years ago. The product is shipped in frozen, and while the donuts still taste fine, there is a difference. Also, Ron Joyce speaks to the fact that there is no magical reason why Tims coffee is so addictive, it has been tested several times and it actually has less caffeine than other coffee places.

Overall, I learned a lot from this book. I have been using it to make me look smart, as everytime I go to Tims with someone I tell them a random fact. I think I will be keeping this close by for a reread in the future, want to keep my smarts about me. And now, if you will excuse me, I am in the mood now for Tims.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Madame Zee by Pearl Luke


Completion Date: June 15, 2007
Pages: 400
Publication Year: 2007
Purchased in 2007
From early childhood, Mabel Rowbotham knows that she is different. She is struck by visions and premonitions that disturb her dreams, haunt her waking hours and stay with her long after she emigrates from England to Canada. Although desperate to understand these powerful episodes, Mabel hides her gift behind a facade of normalcy.

But Mabel is not destined to be normal. Her quest for understanding leads her to the Brother, XII—founder of one of Canada’s most infamous Utopian colonies. Here, Mabel fully transforms into the complicated and enigmatic figure of Madame Zee and ultimately finds an explanation for the mysterious knowledge that has shaped her life.

A popular reading group choice, Pearl Luke’s acclaimed and sensitive re-imagining of this enigmatic figure was a Flare and Chatelaine book-club pick. It now includes a fascinating P.S. section with information about the real Madame Zee.

I bought this book on a whim earlier this month and I am very glad that I did. It takes place in England, Canada, the US, and at the very end she is in Mexico. This novel is about a British girl named Mabel. The novel starts when she is seven years old ands when she is an older woman living in Mexico. The book is relatively short, so Luke decides which events in her life deserve page time, her whole life is not covered. The best thing is that there really was a Madame Zee, so that made reading about her life all that more interesting. In the P.S. section of the book I have, who the real woman was is explored.

When she is a child she tells her ten-year-old sister that she can see pictures in her mind during the day, and it is her sister that tells her she is only day-dreaming. Honora dies early in the novel, but her presence remains throughout the novel. After her sister dies, it is a few years before she starts having her visions again. She is not sure what to do about it, though. She tries to tell her mother that she is having visions, but her mother looks scared by it all. Especially when something that she predicted would happen happened to her mother.

This novel covers Mabel's transformation from the young British woman to Madame Zee. The person that comes to terms with her visions, who can be an independant woman without feeling guilty about it, and has the life that she has always dreamed of. Secrets from her past come back to be revealed in her future. I really liked this book. I had not really heard anything about it when I bought it, so I am really glad that I picked it up the other day. A very recommended read!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern


Completion Date: June 13, 2007
Pages: 470
Publication Year: 2004
Purchased in 2007

A novel about holding on, letting go, and learning to love again.

Now in paperback, the endearing novel that captured readers' hearts and introduced a fresh new voice in women's fiction — Cecelia Ahern.

Holly couldn't live without her husband Gerry, until the day she had to. They were the kind of young couple who could finish each other's sentences. When Gerry succumbs to a terminal illness and dies, 30-year-old Holly is set adrift, unable to pick up the pieces. But with the help of a series of letters her husband left her before he died and a little nudging from an eccentric assortment of family and friends, she learns to laugh, overcome her fears, and discover a world she never knew existed.

The kind of enchanting novel with cross-generational appeal that comes along once in a great while, PS, I Love You is a captivating love letter to the world!

Once in a while, I enter a chick-lit type book into my regular reading. I chose this one because it was on one of the lists for my "Books Bloggers Cannot Live Without" poll. I looked it up, and decided that if I ever saw it second-hand, I would pick it up.

What can I say about this book other than it was a cute read, but also very sad. I think, for me, the saddest moment of all in the book is near the end where the story is told from Gerry's point of view for just a moment. It was sad for Holly to lose her husband, but for some reason it was saddest moment when we saw Gerry and how he felt about leaving her. I mostly read this book because I thought the idea of him leaving her behind notes would make for a more touching novel. With these notes, Gerry helps his wife get her life back together and even leads to a better life than the one she had with him, just that he is now gone.

This novel also has the helpful friends that see her through what is happening to her. There is Sharon, who she grew up with, and Denise who she has been friends with for the last few years. They gang up on her to try and ensure that she tries harder to get by. Then, there is her family, it is one of those families were everyone is opposite and they are all trying to get by. Holly finds that during her mourning she comes to understand her family and friends better, but it takes her a while. Having never experienced it myself, I still believe that Ahern covers a grieving widow quite well. This book is also being made into a movie in the not so distant future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Book Give-Away


Susan Higginbotham, author of The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II, just got a snazzy new cover, and to celebrate she is giving books away! All you have to do is answer her question of the day and it does not even have to be right! So for a chance at a new book, click here. Just pay attention to the day so you do not answer the wrong question, and if you do not win, there is always Amazon!

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


Completion Date: June 11, 2007
Publication Year: 2004
Pages: 544
Owned Prior to 2007

A dazzling triumph from the bestselling author of The Virgin Suicides--the astonishing tale of a gene that passes down through three generations of a Greek-American family and flowers in the body of a teenage girl.

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blond clasmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them--along with Callie's failure to develop--leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia- back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City and Prohibition, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie's grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.

Spanning eight decades--and one unusually awkward adolescence- Jeffrey Eugenides's long-awaited second novel is a grand, utterly original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire. It marks the fulfillment of a huge talent, named one of America's best young novelists by both Granta and The New Yorker.
This book won the Pulitizer Prize and is the newest Oprah Book Club pick. It has been sitting on my to be read pile for a couple years now. I did not read it because was the Oprah summer pick, but more because I have wanted to read it for a while and was just really slow getting around to it. I really enjoyed The Virgin Suicides by him, but I think I liked this book better. It took a while to come out, and you can see the research put into it.

This book does a very good job of covering gender identity. Calliope was born, and because of a quick glance, believed to be a normal, healthy baby girl. It was her teenage years before the doctor discovered he had made a mistake, she spent many years as a girl and then learned that this might not be the right thing for her. Instead of just talking about Callope Stephanides as the 41-year-old narrator, Cal tells the story of the grandparents that started the genes moving towards her, of her parents that carried the family genes that were together for the first time and could thus be passed on to her. Engenides creates the history and the background for why Cal was born the way that he was.

There are some great characters in this book. The story is told from Cal's point of view as him writing his memoirs, so we get a taste of him as both a child and a few glimpses into his current adult life. Through his eyes, we learn what it is like to be a hermaphodite and the struggles that creates for a person. Eugenides decides to have the child that was raised as a girl become a man when they learn the truth of what they are. Cal, if they had a good doctor, would have been marked as a boy from the start, but the doctor did not look closely enough and so she was raised as a girl. Despite the fact that they feel compelled to change to a different gender, Cal says that he was comfortable when he was a girl and not so comfortable as a male. Gender identity is a very fluid thing that is more inspired by your up-bringing than anything else. There are rules as to what it is to be male or female.

Desdemona, Cal's grandmother is a very interesting character to read about. She feels that what happens to Cal is punishment for the sins that she has committed and worried about since she was a young woman. She was expecting something bad to happen, but when Cal was thought to have been born fine, she thought that the danger had passed. She comes from a small place that was very common for intermarriage, and thus often had cases of babies being born one sex and discovering they were another when they were older. I find that while her husband, Lefty was in the novel, the story relied more on the female side of the relationship. I feel I got to know Desdemona better than Lefty.

Other characters include Cal's brother, Chapter Eleven, which I had hoped to learn the name origin for, but it was never revealed. He got off slightly okay, his cousins had names like Plato and Cleopatra. I do not find that the parents were covered as much as the grandparents, but we get to see how they met and how their relationship played out, as well as a few other glimpses throughout the novel. I just found myself wondering how they could have overlooked Cal's complete lack of development for so long and what they did notice, consider normal.

My only problem with this book were there were a few spots where the book dragged a bit and I found myself skimming. Overall, though, it was a very good read. I recommend this book! It's very different than the normal fiction covering the shelves.

Monday, June 11, 2007

All in Together Girls by Kate Sutherland


Completion Date: May 2007
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 147
Purchased in 2007
Candid and truthful stories about women, young and old, grappling with generational wariness, creative recklessness, and illusive purpose celebrate all that is beautiful, wild and distinctive in contemporary women.

All In Together Girls, whose title is inspired by a jump rope rhyme, is a meeting place for girls as surely as the chant would have been on the playground. These stories relate the relentless search for identity, and the late night drive-through culture of bored teens whose "sleepover" alibis have left them with no place else to go. Hallmarked by entrances into, and thought-provoking points of exit from, moments of addiction, betrayal, misjudgement, and first kisses, they are defining portraits of girls and women during the storm and stress of self-discovery.
I thinking blogging is making really big movements to change the industry for new authors, or even authors that are established. Blog readers learn about new books that they might never of heard of and authors get the chance to come across as regular people to blog readers. It's a good system, so I will never understand why some authors are against it so much.

Kate, is a fellow blogger and fellow Canadian, so when I heard that she had a new book of short stories coming out, I added it to my wish list. I will been very honest, I really do not like short story collections. I much prefer a novel over anything, or a non-fiction book, but there are exceptions to every rule. All in Together Girls is one of those exceptions. This book of short stories is about women, and I believe that she captures the characters in her stories very well. I liked all the stories, they were short glimpses into lives that really captured the moment.

The problem is that I read this book a while ago, and I am really slow in reviewing it! To combat this I have started taking notes, but I had not started that when I read this collection, so I forget which stories were my favourite. These stories look at addiction, drugs are a very prevalent problem in our society. In one of the stories, you could also almost say that one of the young men is addicted to his girlfriend, which causes troubles for him in the end. There is also a rather captivating story about peer pressure in here. Friendships are covered, romance is covered, and all the problems that come with both.

Overall, a very good collection. I feel compelled to reread this book so I can remember the titles of my favourite stories. This review might be updated later on! Oh, and does it not have a great cover! I really like the cover.

Just a note, this book is out in Canada now, but it will not be released in the US or the UK until August. Keep your eyes open for it, I think several people that read my blog would enjoy it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller


Completion Date: May 2007
Publication Year: 2004
Pages: 272
Purchased in 2007

Best-selling memoirist Alexandra Fuller travels with a strangely charismatic Rhodesian war veteran into a modern-day heart of darkness.

When Alexandra ("Bo") Fuller was home in Zambia a few years ago, visiting her parents for Christmas, she asked her father about a nearby banana farmer who was known for being a "tough bugger." Her father's response was a warning to steer clear of him; he told Bo: "Curiosity scribbled the cat." Nonetheless, Fuller began her strange friendship with the man she calls K, a white African and veteran of the Rhodesian war. With the same fiercely beautiful prose that won her acclaim for Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller here recounts her friendship with K.

K is, seemingly, a man of contradictions: tattooed, battle scarred, and weathered by farm work, he is a lion of a man, feral and bulletproof. Yet he is also a born-again Christian, given to weeping when he recollects his failed romantic life, and more than anything else welling up inside with memories of battle. For his war, like all wars, was a brutal one, marked by racial strife, jungle battles, unimaginable tortures, and the murdering of innocent civilians-and K, like all the veterans of the war, has blood on his hands.

Driven by K's memories, Fuller and K decide to enter the heart of darkness in the most literal way-by traveling from Zambia through Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Mozambique to visit the scenes of the war and to meet other veterans. It is a strange journey into the past, one marked at once by somber reflections and odd humor and featuring characters such as Mapenga, a fellow veteran who lives with his pet lion on a little island in the middle of a lake and is known to cope with his personal demons by refusing to speak for days on end. What results from Fuller's journey is a remarkably unbiased and unsentimental glimpse of men who have killed, mutilated, tortured, and scrambled to survive during wartime and who now must attempt to live with their past and live past their sins. In these men, too, we get a glimpse of life in Africa, a land that besets its creatures with pests, plagues, and natural disasters, making the people there at once more hardened and more vulnerable than elsewhere.

Scribbling the Cat is an engrossing and haunting look at war, Africa, and the lines of sanity.
In May, I graduated from university. At my graduation ceremony, Alexandra Fuller got an honourary doctrate. I had never heard of her before, but she graduated from my university a few years ago. She got up in front and gave a speech, and I liked her speech so much I was compelled to come home and look up her books. She is also the author of Don't Let's Go to the Dog's Tonight, which I had intended to read first, but this came in the mail first.

This book was amazingly brave to write. As many of us know but have never really experienced, life in Africa has been hard over the years. The person that this book concentrates on, K, was involved in the Rhodesian war. I am not sure if I can capture this book in a review all that well, it is just one of those books that you have to read. It starts so simple. Alexandra learns that there is a banana farmer in the area, and she asks her father about him. Her father tells her to stay away from him, and she might have, but K comes to visit her first. This book captures the time that they spent together in very raw detail. There are things in this book that I would never admit about myself if they were happening to me, but in order to capture the truth of what she experienced with K, she also had to talk about herself.

The friendship she had with this man went on for some time before she got the idea for him to revisit the setting of the wars and tell her of his experiences. In the beginning they just met up when she was in Africa visiting her parents, but this time was different. Having never been in war myself, it is something that I can only imagine and even then I do not know if I do it justice in my head. This book captures what war was like for one man. His struggles and the affects that it is still having on him later in life. He did horrible things doing the war, things that he is not proud of, and he suffers through showing Fuller these experiences, but I believe that she captures the truth and gives a very rare glimpse into what it is like to have been a white African in the Rhodesian war. I strongly recommend this book to those that are curious about life in Africa and its history. A very powerful non-fiction book, I look forward to reading her other book.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

This is Me


I really hate getting my picture taken, but just this once, I will share with lots of people what I look like. This is my 2007 university graduation picture, so that means I am 22 in the picture. If I don't look it, I am honestly not lying. I really did graduate from university and not high school. (Just covering my options, I get IDed and told I don't look like I am in my 20's all the time). The quality is because of my scanner, I don't look so... red... in the actual picture.

Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb


Completion Date: May 2007
Publication Year: 2004
Pages: 368
Owned Prior to 2007
Book Ten in the In Death series

This post will be another buddy review from me and Marg from Reading Adventures. I am in blue and Marg is in black.

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. D. Robb's phenomenal series has captivated readers with it tantalizing blend of romance, suspense, and futuristic police procedural. Now, New York cop Eve Dallas returns to face her most ingenious foe -- a "secret admirer" who taunts her with letters...and kills without mercy.

LOYALTY IN DEATH
An unknown bomber is stalking New York City. He is sending Eve Dallas taunting letters promising to wreak mass terror and destruction among the "corrupt masses." And when his cruel web of deceit and destruction threatens those she cares for most, Even fights back. It's her city...it's her job...and it's hitting too close to home. Now, in a race against a ticking clock, Eve must make the pieces fit—before the city falls.
Eve Dallas seems to really attract the interest of all the crazy people in New York City. They have a personal interest in taunting her and staying one step ahead of her. They are determined to be the ones that are going to bring down New York's top cop. Dallas has still not fully recovered from having her badge taken away from her, so she is determined to do whatever she can to redeem herself. There's no question that Eve is a target for many reasons, but it is a tribute to her skill that Robb manages to still keep each book fresh, and without becoming too cliched.

This book starts with a case that seemed open and close, a woman kills her boyfriend and admits to it. It is a simple case compared to other books involving her. (Which in itself should have been a dead giveaway - nothing is ever that straight forward in Eve's world!) Then, things start to heat up and it is really a different book from the other books in the series. She finds herself involved in an organization that is determined to wipe out a entire city, not the normal serial killers that she is normally hunting down. This time it is serial destruction with taunting messages to test whether Dallas can get to the bottom of the case before they bring another building down and kill a lot of people. In some ways I found it quite poignant that Robb suggested that the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre could become a target of terrorists, especially given that this book was originally published in 1998, and interesting that some of the other locations that are well known in New York could also be targeted in such a way.

One of the things that bothered me about this book was I sort of found Roarke annoying. He just always has to be in the middle of things. I suppose that is what happens when he owns most of the world's buildings, but I just found his meddlesome qualities annoying in this book. It was like he is going out of his way taking care of Eve in this book and that she is not capable of taking of herself. She gets to the bottom of the case and I really enjoyed it for a nice light read, but Roarke annoyed me. I think it might have something to do with this not being my normal genre and I think Robb goes too far to have Roarke involved. At least he was not a suspect, but sometimes it would be nice to just have a character and not always someone involved in every case. I actually thought that Roarke's presence was more real in this case than it has been in the last couple of books, and certainly didn't find it annoying. I like that Roarke knows when Eve is pushing herself too hard, even before she knows it herself, and takes steps to ensure that she does take care of herself. Yes, he is sometimes domineering, but to be honest, I think he has to be, because otherwise Eve just would not listen, and would push herself to the point of collapse on a regular basis.

What I really liked about this book was that there was more going on than in her regular books. Normally she is just hunting one person, but in this book there is a lot more going on and the messages that the organization sends to her will get your brain thinking. There was a lot going on in this one, and I enjoyed the subplots in this one as well as the main story. The sexual tension between Peabody and McNab fairly crackled off the page, and provided much needed comic relief as they tried to hide their feelings from each other, and from those around them, and helped balance the seriousness of the main plot.

Another interesting book in the
In Death series. I look forward to reading the next book. This is right up there with my favourites of the series that we have read so far! When are we reading the next one? Whenever you are ready, I own them, it is you that has to get them from the library. :)

Marg's Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, June 08, 2007

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale


Completion Date: June 8, 2007
Publication Year: 2006
Pages: 336
Purchased in 2007
Book Two in The Bayern Series

Enna and Princess Isi became fast friends in The Goose Girl, but after Isi married Prince Geric, Enna returned to the forest. Enna's simple life changes forever when she learns to wield fire and burn anything at will. Enna is convinced that she can use her ability for good--to fight Tira, the kingdom threatening the Bayern borders--and goes on secret raids to set fire to the Tiran camps and villages. But as the power of the fire grows stronger, she is less able to control her need to burn. In her recklessness she is captured by the Tiran army and held captive by a handsome, manipulative young captain who drugs her to keep her under his influence. Can Isi and her old friends Finn and Razo rescue her without sacrificing themselves? And with the fire still consuming her, will Enna find a way to manage the gift that threatens to destroy her?
After reading The Goose Girl, I became very interested in reading other books by Shannon Hale, but I am afraid that this one just did not work for me. It was not a terrible book, but it was a weak second book. Honestly, I think it could be skipped with no loss to the series.

This book is about Enna, who was Princess Isi's best friend in The Goose Girl. Enna was also an animal caretaker for the royal family, and the person that Isi first trusted above all else with her secret. Now, time has passed and Isi is married to the Prince of Bayern. It is time for Enna to have her tale, and while she is a sweet-teenager, she just did not work as well for me as Isi did in the previous installment. Isi has the ability to control wind, and is being nearly driven crazy by it, she would not wish the ability to talk to the elements on anyone. Enna finds herself caught up in something beyond her, though, when her brother, Leifer, brings home the power to control fire.

During this book, Bayern is at war with Tiran. Many people are dying, and Enna finds that she has a power that can bring a change to the advantages of her side. Throughout the book she battles with the moral issues involved with the things that she does with her power in the name of war. That's a great deal of the book to me, her trying to come to terms with this new power. Other things do happen, but I would not want to spoil the book entirely for those that intend to read it.

Upon completion, I just found that while a lot happened during the book, none of it really did a very good job to keep me entralled with the story. There was a lot of wasted spent on Enna coming to terms with herself, and while necessary for Enna, it was not really captivating for me. Still, not a terrible novel, just not as good as The Goose Girl.

Rene Lyons Interview on Twisted Kingdom

Be sure to head to Twisted Kingdom today to read an interview with author Rene Lyons. Click here to be taken to it directly!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin


Completion Date: June 2007
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 400
Purchased in 2007

In medieval Cambridge, four children have been murdered. The Catholic townsfolk blame their Jewish neighbors, so to save them from the rioting mob, the Cambridge Jews are placed under the protection of the king. King Henry II is no friend of the Jews—or anyone, really—but he believes in law and order, and he desperately needs the taxes he receives from Jewish merchants. Hoping scientific investigation will catch the true killer, Henry calls on his cousin, the King of Sicily—whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe—and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," the earliest form of medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno, an expert in the science of anatomy and the art of detection. But her name is Adelia; the king has been sent a "mistress of the art of death."

In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia faces danger at every turn. As she examines the victims and retraces their last steps, Adelia must conceal her true identity in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she’s assisted by one of the king’s tax collectors, Sir Rowley Picot, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. A former Crusader knight, Rowley may be a needed friend ... or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia’s investigation takes her along Cambridge’s shadowy river paths, and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again...

When I first was made aware of this book, I was not sure if it was really my sort of book. Then, I began to hear a bit about it, and I got curious, so when I saw it at the store the other day I decided to pick it up and see what it was all about. I am very happy to report that I enjoyed the writing style immensely.

This novel covers a period in time for Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a doctor of Salerno. Adelia, as she is called in the book, is from a place that is revolutionary for its time because it allows her to become a doctor. Found abandoned when she was just a baby, she is taken in by two doctors. Her potential is seen from an early age, and so she begins the life of study to become a doctor. She is not a doctor to the living, though, she is a doctor to the dead, and through her the dead speak. She hears their stories by looking at their bodies and makes sure that the truth is discovered.

In Cambridge, the setting of this book, Simon of Naples, an investigator, is called upon to find out what is killing children in the area. The King has turned to the King of Sicily for aid, and they have decided that a doctor should also go to aid the investigation. The head of the medical centre there believes that Adelia is the best person for the job, even if she is a female and will have to hide the fact that she is a doctor while in Cambridge so as to not be accused of witchcraft. It is her bodyguard, Mansur, who is believed to be the doctor for the majority of the time that they are in Cambridge. He is unable to speak English, so it is easy to make it look like he is giving Adelia instructions when really it is she that is instructing him.

When they are called to Cambridge, only three children had been murdered, but on their way there, another one has been added. The first is a boy named Peter, who the prioress of Radegund wants to see sainted. She even has an exhibition set up where people can go to touch his bones and reap healing qualities. The other three victims are Ulf, Harold and Mary. It is up to Adelia to hear their cries for help and for Simon to get to the bottom of the murders. Things do not alway work out how they are supposed to, though, and there are a lot of twists and turns before the end is reached.

There are other interesting characters found in the novel. There is Gyltha, the housekeeper, who keeps the little band of characters together. There is Prior Geoffrey, a religious man, who meets Adelia under some embarassing circumstances, but is her ally from there on. There is Sir Rowley Picot who becomes an unlikely ally and a likely suspect. There is Prioress Joan, who is the Head of Saint Radegund and an interesting character from Ariana to spend time with.

This book has a lot going on in it. It has the mystery aspect of who is killing the children and why now after so many years with no apparent deaths. Romance even comes to call in this book, even though the majority of the people have sworn off relationships for religious and personal reasons, but are starting to wonder if they made the right choice. Adelia is a very empowering female character for the times that this book is taking place during. She is risking her life for these children because she could easily be found out and accused of witchcraft. She worries me in the end, but she redeems herself in my books.

The question really is whether the murderer is the most likely person or is it someone that will shock readers everywhere. Read and find out!