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A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Catholic, with Asperger's, who reads and writes as her obsession. These are the ramblings of the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to mystery thrillers, Catholic theology, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction & Victorian fiction and non-fiction, but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that, both fiction and non-fiction. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of juvenile/teen books, with a nod towards what parents can expect to find that might or might not be objectionable.

I also blog about graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday New Review Copies

This is a new feature I'm going to try to do regularly on Mondays. I'll post all the ARCs and Review Copies I've received in the mail during the past week. So you can get as excited as I am about what new books I'll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks. I also use the library for newly published books but won't feature those here. And don't forget to check out my sidebar on the right where you can always see what I'm currently reading.

Since last Monday these ARCS/Review Copies have arrived:





Joining Two New Challenges

I've been finishing challenges regularly these days and only have a couple on the go right now, so thought it was time to join a few more.

The Christopher Moore Challenge (runs July 1, 2008 to Apr. 1, 2009)
ten months to read Moore's 10 books
I've already read 4 books by Moore so my list of the remaining six is:

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Bloodsucking Fiends
You Suck (sequel to above)
Coyote Blue
Island of the Sequined Love Nun
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
and just in case it comes out early in the year his new forthcoming book is
Fool (expected to be published in 2009)

Book Awards II Challenge (Aug. 1 2008 - June 1 2009)
read 10 award winning books but must include at least 5 different awards

I will not be making a list this time. I had a lot of fun last time reading a book and then googling to find out if it had won any awards and it was amazing how books I read that have won awards, even local ones which are kind of fun to found out about. Since I am participating in the Man Booker project and the Newbery Project those will definitely be represented in my list.

Pub '08 Challenge - FINISHED

OK, this one slipped by on me. I didn't realize I had finished it. For the Pub '08 challenge we were supposed to read 8 books published in 2008, excluding kids/YA books, only adults allowed in the pub. I didn't make an original list for this one I just decided to count the arcs that came my way. Here's the list of books I read for the challenge which comes to a total of 11 books. Thanks again to Michelle who always runs the most fab. challenges.

The White Mary by Kira Salak
The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill
Ritual by Mo Hayder
The Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone
The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell
A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock
Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman
The Arthurian Omen by G.G. Vandagriff
The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
Black Ships by Jo Graham

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chunkster Challenge - FINISHED

Another challenge completed! I've now finished the Chunkster Challenge which called for reading 4 books with more than 450 pgs. I read two of the books which were on my original list and the other two just snuck in there. Here is the list of books I read for this challenge. Thanks to So many books, so little time for hosting the challenge.

1. Kept: A Victorian Mystery by D.J. Taylor (463 pgs)
2. The Shining by Stephen King (683 pgs)
3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (468 pgs)
4. Pig Island by Mo Hayder (494 pgs)

118. Pig Island


Pig Island by Mo Hayder


Pages: 495
Finished: June 28, 2008
First Published: 2006, (UK), 2007 (Canada)
Genre: thriller
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Harper Collins Canada sent me a review copy of the paperback which was released this year (2008). This is the last Mo Hayder book I haven't read. GRTB pick. Chunkster Challenge

First sentence:

The alarms first went off in my head when the landlord and the lobsterman
showed me what had been washed up on the beach.



Comments: Joe Oakes is a journalist who visits an obscure religious sect living on a remote island in Scotland nicknamed "Pig Island" because of the number of pigs once living there. The locals on the mainland are terrified of the religious group, they think they may be satanists and a monster, maybe even the Devil himself walks on the island. This is because of a video which was recently captured by fisherman at sea which shows the blurry form of a tall human shaped figure with a large tail.

Appearances can be deceiving could be the moral of this story. Nothing is as it seems. Most of the publisher write-ups for this book make it sound like a supernatural or even a horror book, but it is not. While very different from Hayder's other books this is indeed a thriller with an evil being (though human) who kills horrifically. As usual Hayder finds an extremely unusual and discomforting topic as the focus for this thriller. In classic Hayder style the plot starts off quietly and slowly the tension mounts until the reader is aware of something frightening lurking in the shadows and then tension races unbearably to the fascinating and unsettling ending. Mo Hayder is known for her unhappy endings and you can expect the same here.

This is not Mo Hayder's best book. I have to say it is my least favourite to date. But even when she is not at her best she is still miles above other writers in this genre. I guessed what the twist ending would be fairly early on and was hoping it would turn out differently as it was rather predictable and not up to her usual jaw-dropping twists. But nevertheless, Hayder's books are always worth reading. If you are new to her pick a different one than Pig Island to start with.

P.S. Please help me out with suggestions of documentary TV Shows suitable for kids in my post here. Thanks!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

117. Bill Peet: An Autobiography


Bill Peet: An Autobiography by Bill Peet


Pages: 190
Finished: June 27, 2008
First Published: 1989
Genre: children, non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: After reading all those Bill Peet books a while ago I remembered I had always wanted to read his autobiography.

First sentence:

In that compartment of the brain where visual memories are stored mine has
been cluttered with an endless assortment of things starting with the two pigs
we raised in my birthplace of Grandview, Indiana.


Comments: More memoir than full-fledged autobiography, Peet gives glimpses of his childhood before settling down with the tale of his artistic career. A great portion of the book deals with his Disney years and the book would have been a treasure just for that alone. But in grand Bill Peet style his autobiography is not like any other I've read. Just like his other books (for children) this is a picture book with not more than eight lines of text per page and that text is surrounded with b/w illustrations. Each page is a visual feast from top to bottom. Peet lived such an interesting life it would have been more informational if the book were written in the traditional sense and included more details but since Peet considered himself an artist and not a writer this format is understandable. The intended audience for this book (even though it is a picture book) is for older children, ages 10 and up. Though I think adults will be the most appreciative of the text. A great read for fans of Peet's children's books and for Disney fans who'd like to hear about the Bill Peet years with Disney from his own mouth. A great read that left me wanting to know much more about Bill Peet. Recommended.

P.S. Please help me out with suggestions of documentary TV Shows suitable for kids in my post here. Thanks!

Friday, June 27, 2008

116. Five True Dog Stories


Five True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson
Illustrated by Susanne Suba


Pages: 47
Finished: June 27, 2008
First Published: 1977
Genre: children, non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Dh read this to the 8yo and I always try to read the books too.

First sentence:


The policeman just happened to be passing a pet store one day.

Comments: Five short, easy-to-read yet interesting and exciting stories of true-life dogs with amazing accomplishments. While the stories are very good, I have to say the inside illustrations leave much to be desired as they are very indistinct and difficult to tell what exactly they are showing. Dog and/or animal loving kids will be sure to love these stories and this book written at a GR2 reading level would make a nice first chapter book for those who are ready. Stories included are:

Dox: one of the first police dogs
Grip: a stray dog trained to be a pick-pocket in the 1700s
Wolf - Famous dog of Alfred Payson Terhune's literature
Barry - A Saint Bernard who lived with the monks and saved people in the Swiss Alps
Balto - The famous dog who saved Nome, Alaska by delivering medicine in the middle of a terrible snow storm.


P.S. Please help me out with suggestions of documentary TV Shows suitable for kids in my post here. Thanks!

115. Fatal


Fatal: The Poisonous Life of a Female Serial Killer by Harold Schechter


Pages: 305
Finished: June 27, 2008
First Published: 2003
Genre: True Crime
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: I am especially interested in Victorian Crime, though I enjoy reading any true crime cases that take place from the early 1800s to the 1950s.

First sentence:


Exactly what transpired on that long-ago day when Edward Struck lost his jobin disgrace will never be fully known.


Comments: The book first starts out telling the events of a couple of different cases of female poisoners in the mid 1800s before starting on the case of Jane Toppan. Jane Toppan was the most horrendous "poison-fiend" that America had ever seen. Earlier cases had caused sensation but they were nothing compared with the revelations in the court of 1902 by Jane Toppan. In the late 1800s Miss Toppan embarked on her matronly profession as a nurse first working in public, then private hospitals and finally onto working on location for the wealthy in their homes. Over this period of time she is credited with over 30 murders by poisoning. The case has everything to appeal to the Victorians' delight in scandal: sex, madness, and a sweet lady often nick-named "Jolly Jane".

A wonderfully written book that reads like a novel with plenty of excerpts from contemporary material such as letters, newspapers, medical records, and trial transcripts. What I especially love about this book (and other books of true crimes of this period), is that not only is it a tale of a crime but it is also a vivid portrait of both social and political conditions of the times. In this book the reader is given insight into late 1800s American nursing, orphanages, patient care, medical procedures, common diseases, medicines, poisons, police procedures, newspaper reporting, trial procedures and the legal system. This book will be sure to please any fan of historical crime, or even historical murder mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author has written many other historical true crime books (and a few novels) and I will most definitely be reading more of his work.


P.S. Please help me out with suggestions of documentary TV Shows suitable for kids in my post here. Thanks!

Mini Rant

So, when did I'd've become a word? I keep seeing it in new books I read, arcs and such.

I just looked it up and it isn't in my Oxford Dictionary. I don't even speak this way, I would say I'd have.

When do we draw the line at how many words we can combine in a contraction. I thought the rule was two! Are there no rules anymore??

What about this "I would have not had that extra piece of pie". Is is now OK to say I'd'ven't'd that extra piece of pie. ??

I'd've, sheesh, that word bugs me!

OK, I've just googled it and it seems I'd've is urban slang. I have to say that bugs me even more. Books are being written in urban slang now?!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Totally OT: Looking for Good TV Shows for Kids

I'm desperately looking for some good educational, yet entertaining, TV Shows for an 8yo. Something that we can buy a season of on DVD. We've just finished watching "Prehistoric Park" which is a 6 episode British show and it was amazing!

Now I'm not necessarily looking for dinosaur shows but the 8yo does like dinos. Any topic would be fine as long as it is entertaining, while being educational, and suitable for 8yos. What about Meerkat Manor? Is that good, would an 8yo like it? I am wracking my brains for shows but can't think of anything. Maybe it's the heat? Anybody?! Help!

ETA - Just wanted to add that I'm looking for adult/family type shows that can be enjoyed by all ages not actual kiddie shows.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

24 Hour-Read A-Thon

Dewey is hosting the 24 Hour Read-a-thon this weekend! It starts on June 28th at 9:00 am and sounds like a lot of fun. Check out all the various ways you can participate and there are even PRIZES to be won.

If you sign up, tell Dewey that Nicola at Back to Books sent ya!

Canadian Book Challenge Part 2

So, I signed up for the second Canadian Book Challenge ages ago and since it will be starting soon I thought I'd better get my post up for it. The challenge runs from July 1st 2008 - July 1st 2009. One year to read 13 books by Canadian authors or about Canada. I will not be making a list this year as I totally suck at sticking to a list. Instead I will read books as they appeal to me.

A few books I currently have on my bedside table that I hopefully will be reading within the next year are:

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey (I won this during the 1st Can. challenge!)
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
Stephen Fair by Tim Wynne-Jones
Obasan by Joy Kogawa (I've read the YA version based on this)
Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell (this will be a re-read)
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci

114. Vampire Mountain


Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan
Book 4 of Cirque Du Freak, The Saga of Darren Shan


Pages: 195
Finished: June 23, 2008
First Published: 2002
Genre: YA, horror
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

First sentence:


"Pack your bags," Mr. Crepsley said late one night, as he was heading for
his coffin.


Comments: This time around Darren and Mr. Crepsley journey to Vampire Mountain to attend the Vampire Council held every 75 years where Darren will be presented to the Vampire Generals and Vampire Princes for the first time. This is a ritual every new vampire must go through.

This volume in the series was particularly interesting as we found out so much more about the vampire history and mythos. We also finally find out the what the "Little People" really are and Lefty becomes more of a main character. While the journey takes up most of the book and the plot is mostly a set up for the next book I really enjoyed learning more about the world of the vampires. Book 5, Here I come!

Monday, June 23, 2008

113. The White Mary


The White Mary by Kira Salak


Pages: 351
Finished: June 22, 2008
First Published: Aug. 2008
Genre: literature
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: The publisher, Henry Holt, sent me an ARC.

First sentence:


The black waters of Elobi Creek show no sign of a current.

Comments: Marika Vecera is a journalist who travels around the world reporting on wars and atrocities. Just after arriving back from the Congo she hears that Robert Lewis, a journalist she has always admired, almost to obsession, has committed suicide but no body found. While writing a biography on Lewis, Marika comes across a letter from a missionary who swears he saw Lewis alive in the jungles of Papua New Guinea months after he supposedly died. Marika decides to travel there herself and find him.

This book was fabulous! The descriptions of Papua New Guinea (PNG) are breathtaking. I was hooked from the first chapter. The violence of war and torture is hard hitting and uncomfortable to read but impossible to put down. The jungle and the life of the native tribes is simply amazing. Imagine entering a world which has never experienced any modern conveniences nor even knows that they exist. Marika is a many layered character who undertakes this journey that will forever change her character. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, faith and healing. We encounter two characters, one who has lost their faith in God and one who finds it. The ending is both bittersweet and heart-touching. I just really loved everything about this book: the action, the realism, the characters (especially Tobo, the witch doctor), the exotic location and the power of the story.

So far this year The True History of the Kelly Gang has been in the position of probably being my favourite book of 2008 but The White Mary has just become a very likely contender.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

112. First Meetings in the Enderverse

First Meetings in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card
Illustrated by Craig Phillips
A book in the Ender series


Pages: 208
Finished: June 20, 2008
First Published: 2003
Genre: science fiction, short stories
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series. Cardathon challenge

First sentence:

John Paul hated school.


Comments: This is a collection 4 novellas that either feature Ender Wiggin or his family. They have all been previously published except one "Teacher's Pest" is original to this volume.

"The Polish Boy" tells the story of Ender's father and how he was noticed by the government as a possible battle school student.

"Teacher's Pest" tells how Ender's parents met.

"Ender's Game" is the original story written in 1977 which inspired the novel of the same name.

"The Investment Counselor" is the story of how Ender first meets Jane.

Due to the information found in these stories this book is best read anytime after "Xenocide", the third Ender book. I enjoyed all the stories and while I wouldn't call them brilliant, they were all enjoyable. A must for fans of the series.

111. The Family Under the Bridge

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Illustrated by Garth Williams


Pages: 123
Finished: June 20, 2008
First Published: 1958
Genre: children fiction,
Award: Newbery Honor
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 8yo

First sentence:

Once there was an old hobo named Armand who wouldn't have lived anywhere but in Paris.

Comments: The Calcet family is homeless after their father dies and they take up residence under a bridge. Along comes Armand the hobo to find this family in his place. Armand is not particularly fond of children but they soon capture his heart and he finds himself looking after the children and the welfare of the family. The children wish for more than anything that Father Christmas will bring them a house for Christmas and Armand tries hard to keep their spirits up. Trouble comes in a pair of do-gooder women who find the children under the bridge and send for the police to take them to a home for children. Madame Calcet is at work and Armand must get the children to safety before they are taken away.

I've read this book several times now and always find it a joy. Garth Williams' illustrations are just as wonderful as ever. It is a beautiful, gentle story with genuine feeling. Sad at times and laugh out loud funny at others, the 8yo was very attached to it and concerned for the Calcet children. When I read the final words, "The End", the 8yo said "Awwww!" Always the sign of a good book when you wish it didn't have to end!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Southern Challenge - Completed

I just finished the southern challenge! I liked every book I read and absolutely loved the first two. All books I read were from my original list of choices. I'm really looking forward to reading more by Fannie Flagg. Thanks to Maggie for hosting a fabulous challenge.

Here's the list of books I read:

1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
3. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

110. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross
First Miss Julia book


Pages: 273
Finished: June 18, 2008
First Published: 1999
Genre: southern fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: southern fiction challenge.

First sentence:

I'd just caught my breath after the shock of my husband's sudden passing
when his last legacy showed up on my front porch.


Comments: Miss Julia's husband of forty-odd years has passed away and she learning to cope with her new life. As a married woman she was under her husband's control and is now starting to spread her wings and gain independence. Though Miss Julia is newly learning to look after herself she is no wallflower. She has a fiery spirit and says exactly what she thinks to whomever she likes, whether it be her pastor or a lazy secretary. One day she opens her front door to have her husband's mistress thrust her son upon her to look after. Unaware her husband was even unfaithful she quickly learns she's the only one in town who didn't know. When the boy is kidnapped Miss Julia is on the run to save him.

This was a lot of fun and Miss Julia is a spirited southern belle. Often humorous with lots of action, I found the plot rather unbelievable but realize it is meant to be a bit over the top. I've read so many good reviews of this series that I think my expectations may have been a bit too high making this a good but not great read for me. I really enjoyed the characters, though, and am interested in reading the next book in the series. I often find these types of series get better after the first so I am optimistically looking forward to the next.

109. Children's Bible Story Book

David C. Cook Children's Bible Story Book


Pages: 407
Finished: June 18, 2008
First Published: 2006
Genre: Christian
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: We read a bible story every school day.

First sentence:

In the very beginning there was God, but nothing else.

Comments: I have been reading this aloud to my 7/8 yob for the last year, one story a day every school day. I don't want to count exactly how many stories are present but there are a lot with just as many for the New Testament as the Old Testament. The stories are well-told in an easy going, engaging text that is simple enough for children to understand. Many stories have a "Did You Know?" section with interesting information on being a Christian or Biblical history relevant to the story. Plus every story has a "To Remember" section with an applicable Bible verse from the NIrV Bible. The illustrations are a bit wishy-washy but there are plenty of them and the book is very colourful and appealing. In my son's own words he said "I love this Bible". Recommended for GR. 1 to 3. 3rd graders will be able to read for themselves.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

108. The Vows of Silence

The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill
Fourth Simon Serrailler Crime Novel

Pages: 328
Finished: June 16, 2008
First Published: June 17, 2008
Genre: Crime/Mystery
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Random House Canada.

First sentence:

They had climbed for two hours.


Comments: Simon Serrailler is a Detective Chief Superintendent in a small town in England and a gunman is on the loose. He appears to be randomly shooting young women all over town and Serrailler is stumped. Simon's personal life is also in upheaval. A past flame has come to town, his father has a girlfriend and his sister's life is falling apart.

This is the first book in this series that I have read and wow! am I impressed. This is a detailed plot with many threads and a large cast of fabulously developed characters. As a first time reader of the series I was able to jump in easily and I really found Simon a fascinating character. The narrative expertly switches back and forth between characters and plot threads making this a fast-paced and exciting read. I love the way Hill made several characters appear to be possible suspects to the reader and my mind was in a whir trying to figure out who it really was before the final reveal. I really enjoyed this book, the side plots make it much more than just a murder mystery and it won't be long till I get myself the first three books in this series so I can catch up with Simon Serrailler.

Monday, June 16, 2008

107. 1846 Hamilton

1846 Hamilton: From a frontier town to the Ambitious City by Brian Henley

Pages: 142
Finished: June 14, 2008
First Published: 1995
Genre: history
Rating: 2.5/5

Reason for Reading: interested in local history

First sentence:

By the spring of 1846, Hamilton was already an 'instant city', no longer content to be labelled a town.


Comments: This is a locally published book concerning the city of Hamilton's pivotal year. In 1846 the town applied for city status which was then granted and became official in January of 1847. This book covers both those years. There are lots of quotes from local contemporary newspapers which made for interesting reading but over all the narrative was stilted and textbook-ish. I prefer social history and found the book concentrated too much on elections, mayors, politics and the geographical layout of the city. However, I did find some chapters quite interesting such as those on city sidewalks, the fire brigade, and the outlawing of circuses on city property! This book would not be of interest to anyone not familiar with the area.

106. A Treasury of Victorian Murder

A Treasury of Victorian Murder by Rick Geary
A Treasury of Victorian Murder Book 1

Pages: 72
Finished: June 14, 2008
First Published: 1987
Genre: graphic novel, true crime
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: first in the series.

First sentence:


The Queen who reigned for 63 years and lent her name to a storied age.


Comments: This first book in the series is a little different than the others. It briefly starts with a few pages on the Victorian Era, famous personalities, and famous murderers. Then the rest of the book deals with three separate murder cases rather than focusing on one, as the other books in this series do. The cases presented here are rather obscure ones which I had not heard of before. I was intrigued by the first and last, while the middle one was a bit boring. The cases presented are the mysterious unsolved murder of the Ryans, brother and sister; the murderous Dr. Pritchard who murdered his wife and stepmother; and Mrs.Pearcey who callously murdered her ex-lover's wife and infant son. I'm looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

105.Skybreaker

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
Airborn Series Book 2

Pages: 340
Finished: June 13, 2008
First Published: 2005
Genre: fantasy, science fiction, adventure,
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

First sentence:


The storm boiled above the Indian Ocean, a dark, bristling wall of cloud,
blocking our passage west.


Comments: Matt and Kate hire an airship to help them find the legendary lost ship the Hyperion. Along with them on the journey are a crew of Sherpas, a debonair captain with designs on Kate, her prim chaperon and a feisty gypsy girl. They encounter all sorts of dangers as they fly into the uncharted heights of the sky.

I think I enjoyed Skybreaker even more than the first in this series, Airborn. Even though this series is classified as Fantasy, this volume definitely breaks into the science fiction genre and is very reminiscent of Verne's 20,000 Leagues. Lots of fun characters, excitement and adventure. I'm looking forward to the third book in the series which comes out this fall.

104. Basil of Baker Street

Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus
Illustrated by Paul Galdone
Basil of Baker Street Book 1

Pages: 96
Finished: June 4, 2008
First Published: 1958
Genre: children mystery,
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Read Aloud to my 8yo, Decades Challenge

First sentence:

The Mystery of the Missing Twins could never have been solved by an ordinary
detective.


Comments: Basil the mouse and his friend Dr. Dawson live in the cellar under 221 B Baker Street. Basil is a detective, much lauded by the mouse community, just as his hero, Sherlock Holmes, is of the human world. Two little twin girl mice have been kidnapped and her parents ask Basil to take the case.

Written very much in the style of the Holmes books this is a wonderful mystery for young children and a good introduction to Holmes himself. We really enjoyed the story and I found it as much fun as I did as a child. It is also perfect for reading aloud. I found myself doing the voices of either Shemlock Hemlock or Maxwell Smart as I read. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

00. The Girl in Saskatoon

The Girl in Saskatoon: A Meditation on Memory and Murder by Sharon Butala

Pages: 260
Finished: DNF
First Published: March, 2008
Genre: memoir
Rating: DNF
Reason for Reading: received this ARC from Harper Collins Canada

First sentence:

One soft spring evening in 1962 a young nurse named Alexandra Wiwcharuk was
murdered and an entire city came to a stop: Alexandra's murder was all anyone
could talk about.


Comments: With that promising first sentence, I was interested to read about this true crime and the unfortunate girl who was murdered. Unfortunately, this book was all about the author. I couldn't finish it. I got to page 104 and had not learnt anything about the crime that was not stated in that first sentence. I don't normally write about books I don't finish, but since this was sent to me as a Review Copy I feel obligated to give my opinion however short. The author spends the majority of this book (the part I read) comparing her life to the victim's, how they were similar and how they were different. I didn't care for the author's voice and was mostly bored with the narrative. If you are looking for True Crime, this is not the book for you.

103. The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Pages: 302
Finished: June 6, 2008
First Published: 2002
Genre: southern fiction
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Southern Challenge

First sentence:

At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed though the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin.

Comments: Lily's mother died tragically when she was 4 years old and she has lived the last 10 years with an abusive father and a black housekeeper. One day Lily has had enough and at 14 years old runs away, with the housekeeper, to find out about her mother. This is a beautiful story of a girl who searches for a mother she never knew and in the process finds how to fill that empty hole with faith and a mother figure.

This is a beautiful story. Set in 1960s South Carolina is deals with the racial relations of the times and the coming of the civil rights movement but these events are only a background for the story. It is within this backdrop that Lily, a white girl, comes to find a home and acceptance with a large black family of women. I loved this book, the characters, the setting, everything was just perfect. A wonderfully told story which really touched and uplifted my heart, having lost my own mother. Recommended.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

102. Ritual

Ritual by Mo Hayder
Third Jack Caffrey book

Pages: 410
Finished: June 4, 2008
First Published: Sept. 2008 (Canada)
Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: 4.5/5

Reason for Reading: Next in the series. Received an ARC from Harper Collins Canada.

First sentence:

Just after lunch on a Tuesday in May and nine feet under water in Bristol's
'floating harbour', police diver Sergeant 'Flea' Marley closed her gloved
fingers round a human hand.

Comments: A severed human hand has been found in the harbour and Jack Caffrey is assigned to the incident. Thinking the hand has come off a suicide body he thinks nothing special of the case until he is told that the had was removed while the person was still alive. The case takes a new turn when the matching hand is found buried under the entrance of a nearby restaurant. In Mo Hayder's typical style she starts off slowly building the tension to an almost impossible to handle frenzy.

Hayder fans are going to find more of what they've come to expect from the Queen of Psychological Thrillers. This one is not quite so gruesome as the others but when the time comes Hayder knows how to pour on the gore and doesn't disappoint. Ritual takes you on a wild ride through severed body parts, diving accidents, torture, ritual mutilation, African muti (magic medicine) and a sadistic killer.

This book also takes the Caffrey character in a new direction. While he is still haunted by his past he is no longer obsessed with it as in the previous two books in this series. Caffrey's character develops and we're also introduced to a new character 'Flea' Marley, a woman with her own personal demons who I hope we will continue to see as a recurring characters.

I highly recommend this book and the whole series. Now I just have one more of her books to read and I certainly hope she will have a new one out for us in 2009.

Monday, June 2, 2008

101. Dolphin Treasure

Dolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover
Second book in the Dolphin Trilogy

Pages: 65
Finished: June 1, 2008
First Published: 1996
Genre: children, nonfiction
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Next in the series

First sentence:

I scanned the water in all directions, looking for my dolphin friend.


Comments: Ever since Wayne Grover rescued a baby dolphin, he has been visited by the dolphin family when he hunts for treasure off the coast of Florida. Several years have now gone by and he and his diving buddies are looking for treasure from a particular Spanish ship that sank in the early 1700s. They have been getting closer and closer to their goal when they find a gold chain. It is stuck in the sand though and they don't have time to work on getting it out as they are running out of air. The weather has turned bad and a treacherous storm is approaching, Wayne feels all he needs is five minutes to get the chain so back under he goes. The storm comes up fast and the boat's anchor line snaps setting it off to fight the storm with Wayne left behind.

Wayne spends about 18 hours in the ocean. Things get worse and worse for him and his peril is nerve wrecking. When he feels he is at the utmost end of his energy, his dolphin friends come and to the rescue. It is an awesome rescue that just endears one forever to all dolphins. Great book, with heart-pounding excitement, for kids 7-9.

YA Challenge - COMPLETE

I feel like I'm on roll here. Another challenge finished. This time it is Joy's YA Challenge. We had the entire year os 2008 to read 12 YA books. This was easy for me as I'm always reading YA. As usual I ended up not following the list I originally made and just read books as they came up. I'm terrible at following lists! Here are the 12 books I did read:

12. Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan
11. The Eyes of a King by Catherine Banner
10. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
9. The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan
8. Madapple by Christina Meldrum
7. Gunpowder Empire by Harry Turtledove
6. Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
5. Darkwing by Kennth Oppel
4. The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
3. Up to Low by Brian Doyle
2. Keturah & Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
1. The Serpent's Egg by J. Fitzgerald McCurdy

Thank's Joy for another fabulous challenge!

100. Tunnels of Blood

Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan
The Saga of Darren Shan Book 3

Pages: 224
Finished: June 1, 2008
First Published: 2002
Genre: YA, horror
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Next in the series

First sentence:

The smell of blood is sickening.


Comments: Darren, Mr. Crepsley and Evra go to the city. Darren and Evra think they can have a vacation while Crepsley attends to business. The business turns deadly and Darren meets both a vampaneze and his first girlfriend. He also finds out about the Vampire Generals.

Third book in the series, and I'm still hooked. At this point they just keep getting better. I have to say, though, that I miss the freak show atmosphere when the characters journey further afield. I love Shan's take on the Vampire world and mythos. I'll keep this short as I don't want to give much away. This book just makes me want to run out and get book 4!

99. The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein
The Haunted Mysteries, Book 1

Pages: 325
Finished: June 1, 2008
First Published: May 27, 2008
Genre: children, horror, ghost story
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

First sentence:

Have you ever seen a face hidden in the bark of a tree and known that the
man trapped inside wanted to hurt you?

Comments: Zack and his family move to a small rural town. On their property is a tree that Gerta Spratling has devoted as a memorial to the boyfriend who died in a crash between his car and a greyhound bus over fifty years ago. This is a very creepy, scary book. Gerta Spratling is the equivalent of an evil Miss Haversham and the spirit in the tree is evil incarnate intent on killing anyone who had anything to do with his death, right on down to the grandchildren. While most of the ghosts are creepy not all of them are bad, some even go out of their way to help Zack and his stepmother, Judy, such as the traveling salesman, a bus driver, three nuns and a group of children bound for Bible camp at the time of the crash.

This is a fast read. Short chapters propel the reading along. The ending was predictable to this reader but still the characters were a lot of fun, even the nasty ones. I enjoyed the book but the 11 year old protagonist felt too young for this mature story. I'd recommend this for the 10-12 year age range. Older teens will find the main character too childish and younger children will either find the book too scary or just won't relate to a very old lady and her dead boyfriend.
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