Wednesday, March 31, 2010

58. Skin by Mo Hayder


Skin by Mo Hayder (US) - (Canada)
Jack Caffery Thriller, #4

Pages: 380 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 29, 2010
First Published: 2009 UK (Jan. 2010 US, Apr. 2010 Can)
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: thriller
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Human skin is an organ.


Acquired: Received a copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series and Mo Hayder is my favourite author in the world! (at the moment)

Summary: A suicide is found and everything points to case closed, though the ex-husband does show concern that things don't seem right. When another suicide with the same MO shows up Jack Caffery asks to be put on the case as he has found some connections between the two. At the same time celebrity rich girl, Misty Kitson, has simply vanished and police diver Flea Marley has been called in to search a few lakes and a quarry. Flea and Jack do not work together in this novel, they are off on their own this time. Jack's case takes him to a very strange human being and a sick prolific serial killer while Flea is hit out of the blue by a family problem that she must deal with and it is something that will change her life forever.

Comments: First off the mystery story was quite good, it did lack Hayder's trademark gruesomeness and weirdness which I've come to expect but still a strange enough case to be worthy of Hayder's talent. Flea's story, however, is the one that gets the reader's blood thumping. Not exactly a mystery as we learn the facts as quickly as Flea does but more pure thriller. What Hayder has done in this book is examine her main characters personalities and moral boundaries. From earlier books we know what Jack is capable of, but he has shown determinedly to prove himself the better man he knows he can be. Flea we've only seen from one side, this novel tests her boundaries and between them both Mo Hayder has created two very unique main character detectives for a police procedural series. Are they likable? "Can" they be likable? What does it say about the reader if he does like them? Personally, I did not like Jack the first time I met him in "Birdman" but I grew to like him quite quickly. At this time I do still like both Flea and Jack but with caveats and I must see what the next book brings before I make any final decisions. But whether I like them or not as persons, I love them as the unique, distinct detective team in Hayder's twisted thrillers with plots that no one else could write.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

57. Jason's Gold by Will Hobbs

Jason's Gold by Will Hobbs (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 221 pages
Ages: 11+
Finished: Mar. 29, 2010
First Published: 1999
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA, historical fiction, adventure
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

When the story broke on the streets of New York, it took off like a wildfire on a windy day.


Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my son as part of our history curriculum.

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jason Hawthorn is on the other side of the country when he hears of the Klondike Gold Rush. The only adventurous one in the family he high tails it back to Seattle to convince his older brothers to stake him with their inheritance so he can go North. When he arrives home, he's astounded to find that his brothers were one of the first to leave for the Klondike and they left him a letter saying they had added his inheritance to complete their outfit and have made him a complete partner. With only $10 in his pocket Jason follows his brothers, trying to catch up to them as he goes. Along the way the reader learns the glorious and gruesome, adventurous, heroic history of the Klondike Gold Rush; completely rampant with lawlessness until you were on Canadian soil where the Mounties ruled with an iron fist.

Comments: I've always wanted to read Will Hobbs. I've always been attracted to teen boy's survival in the wilderness tales and many of his books seem to have that theme. This is the first book I've read by him and I was riveted, as was my son. We have the sequel here and my ds has requested we read it right away. The writing is fabulous, the detail is excruciating and the history is well researched.

As we follow Jason on his trip North he encounters adventures and hardships one after the other and the reader becomes excited with him, scared, worried and sad with him. The details of some parts are quite brutal. The author held nothing back in describing the details of White Pass and why it became nicknamed Dead Horse Pass. There are some brutal episodes in the story but there is also humour and a sense of accomplishment throughout. Due to my son's younger age, 9yo, I did edit on the fly as I was reading aloud somewhat, in extreme cases, for example there is a part that is very emotional involving dogs and at the end Jason turns around and observes the man has "blown his brains out". I said "he shot himself" as the scene had already affected the 9yo to the intended point. Therefore, I recommend the book for readers eleven and over, and as a read aloud for youngers.

It took the 9yo a little while to get into the book; it has a high vocabulary and no pictures but once Jason actually got started on his adventure his interest level piqued until he became very involved in Jason's plight and there was one point which made him shed some tears. I highly recommend this gripping story and while written by an American, it is a fascinating piece of Canadian historical fiction.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday: Books in the Mail

Another busy week for my mailbox. This time I have a few review copies, even more wins and a bookmooch.

First the Review Copies:

From Harper Collins Canada:

The city of San Francisco is being stalked by a huge shaved vampyre cat named Chet, and only I, Abby Normal, emergency backup mistress of the Greater Bay Area night, and my manga-haired love monkey, Foo Dog, stand between the ravenous monster and a bloody massacre of the general public.

Whoa. And this is a love story? Yup. 'Cept there's no whining. See, while some lovers were born to run, Jody and Tommy were born to bite. Well, reborn, that is, now that they're vampires. Good thing theirs is an undying love, since their Goth Girl Friday, Abby Normal, imprisoned them in a bronze statue.

Abby wants to be a bloodsucking fiend, too, but right now she's really busy with other stuff, like breaking in a pair of red vinyl thigh-high Skankenstein® platform boots and wrangling her Ph.D.-candidate boyfriend, Steve (the love monkey). And then there's that vampire cat Chet, who's getting bigger and smarter—and thirstier—by the minute. Abby thought she and Steve could handle the kitty cat on their own, mais non . . .

Before you can say "OMG! WTF?" Tommy and Jody are sprung from captivity, and join forces with Abby, Steve, the frozen-turkey-bowling Safeway crew, the Emperor of San Francisco and his trusty dogs Lazarus and Bummer, Abby's gay Goth friend Jared, and SF's finest Cavuto and Rivera to hunt big cat and save the city. And that's when the fun really begins.


From Random House Canada:

My name is Chloe Saunders. I'm fifteen, and I would love to be normal.

But normal is one thing I'm not.

For one thing, I'm having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sweet-tempered brother—who just happens to be a sorcerer—but, between you and me, I'm leaning toward the werewolf.

Not normal.

My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us—permanently.

Definitely not normal.

And finally, I'm a genetically altered necro-mancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.

As far away from normal as it gets.

From Penguin Group (Canada):

Spirited Henrietta wishes she was the kind of doctor's wife who knew exactly how to deal with the daily upheavals of war. But then, everyone in her close-knit Devonshire village seems to find different ways to cope: there's the indomitable Lady B, who writes to Hitler every night to tell him precisely what she thinks of him; the terrifyingly efficient Mrs Savernack, who relishes the opportunity to sit on umpteen committees and boss everyone around; flighty, flirtatious Faith who is utterly preoccupied with the latest hats and flashing her shapely legs; and then there's Charles, Henrietta's hard-working husband who manages to sleep through a bomb landing in their neighbour's garden.

With life turned upside down under the shadow of war, Henrietta chronicles the dramas, squabbles and loyal friendships that unfold in her affectionate letters to her 'dear childhood friend' Robert. Warm, witty and perfectly observed, Henrietta's War brings to life a sparkling community of determined troupers who pull together to fight the good fight with patriotic fervour and good humour.

Vivacious, young Hester Christie tries to run her home like clockwork, as would befit the wife of British Army officer, Tim Christie. However hard Mrs Tim strives for seamless living amidst the other army wives, she is always moving flat-out to remember groceries, rule lively children, side-step village gossip and placate her husband with bacon, eggs, toast and marmalade. Left alone for months at a time whilst her husband is with his regiment, Mrs Tim resolves to keep a diary of events large and small in her family life. Once pen is set to paper no affairs of the head or heart are overlooked.

When a move to a new regiment in Scotland uproots the Christie family, Mrs Tim is hurled into a whole new drama of dilemmas; from settling in with a new set whilst her husband is away, to disentangling a dear friend from an unsuitable match. Against the wild landscape of surging rivers, sheer rocks and rolling mists, who should stride into Mrs Tim's life one day but the dashing Major Morley, hellbent on pursuit of our charming heroine. And Hester will soon find that life holds unexpected crossroads…

Bookmooch:

For more than 3,000 years, Egypt was a great civilization that thrived along the banks of the Nile River. But when its cities crumbled to dust, Egypt?s culture and the secrets of its hieroglyphic writings were
also lost. The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt explains how archaeologists have pieced together their discoveries to slowly reveal the history of Egypt?s people, its pharaohs, and its golden days.







Books I Won!

From Laura at Library of Clean Reads




From the author:

The three Cheeseman children, their father, and their psychic dog are all on the run. From whom? Well the CIA, naturally. But also corporate agents #5, #29, and # 207, plus two international superspies -- one of whom happens to be a chimpanzee. They all want Dr. Cheeseman and his late wife's greatest invention–a machine with unspeakable powers–OK, I'll say it. It's a time machine. But it's not working right yet, so put all ideas of time travel out of your head.

Instead, please enjoy this high stakes, high action, hijinx-filled chase, and the bizarre characters our Cheeseman friends will meet as they protect not just their parents' invention, but their mother's sacred memory. It's an adventure novel like no other.

Oh yeah, and did we mention the entertaining, plot-exposition filled, unsolicited advice you'll receive along the way? So you didn't ask for it? Yeah, that's why it's unsolicited.

Unsolicited Advice #1: Read this book.

From Teddy at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time!

Recently settled in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, Madeline Dare now teaches at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for disturbed teenagers. But behind its ornate gates, she discovers a disorienting world where students and teachers alike must submit to the founder's bizarre therapeutic regimen. A chilling event confirms Maddie's worst suspicions, leading her to an even darker secret that lies at the academy's very heart. Now cut off from the outside world, Maddie must join forces with a small band of the school's most violently rebellious students--kids who, despite their troubled grip on reality, may well prove to be her only chance of survival.



From the author:

Maxwell Unger has always loved the night. He used to do brave things like go tramping through the forest with his gran after dark. He loved the stories she told him about the world before the Destruction—about nature, and books, and the silver owls. His favorite story, though, was about the Owl Keeper.

According to Max’s gran, in times of darkness the Owl Keeper would appear to unite owls and sages against the powers of the dark. Gran is gone now, and so are her stories of how the world used to be. Max is no longer brave. The forest is dangerous, the books Gran had saved have been destroyed, and the silver owls are extinct. At least that’s what the High Echelon says. But Max knows better.

Maxwell Unger has a secret. And when a mysterious girl comes to town, he might just have to start being brave again.

The time of the Owl Keeper, Gran would say, is coming soon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Contest: And the Winner Is ....


Using random.org to choose a winner, the lucky winner of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is .......



Congratulations! I'll be sending you an email shortly.

My review of this wonderful book can be read here.


NOTE - Since this is Holy Week and then I will be going away for the month of April my next contest will run in May.

56. Irredeemable Vol. 2 by Mark Waid

Irredeemable Vol. 2 by Mark Waid. Art by Peter Krause (US) - (Canada)
Irredeemable series

Pages: 112 pages
Ages: 15+
Finished: Mar. 27, 2010
First Published: Mar. 23, 2010
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Genre: Graphic novel, Super heroes
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Do I have everyone's attention?


Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Comments: I am hooked on this series that centres around the mightiest superhero who suddenly turns to the dark side and becomes the most evil super villain. We start out by meeting the last living member of The Plutonium's former superhero group, The Volt and a flashback to his joining of the group. This book heavily focuses on the group members as they regroup, try to locate The Plutonium and figure a way to bring him down. The dynamics between them and the individual personalities all take shape. There is also tension in a personal situation. The group does track down Plutonium's lair but one member goes off on his own to confront Plutonium and through flashbacks we find out the truth of events that lead up to his turning evil. The volume ends with a bit of a shock that leaves us hanging on for the next volume. I am really enjoying these characters. While not everyone yet has been a major focus, the ones who have been are showing to be many layered with multiple aspects to their characters with backstories and personal lives beyond just being super heroes. I am anxiously awaiting Vol. 3 which will be out later this year.

An added bonus in this volume at the end of the book, after the usual Art Gallery of cover art, is a 14-page preview of Mark Waid's Potter's Field which I must say has me very interested so don't be surprised to see a review of it in the future.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Turn Your Lights ON for Earth Hour at 8:30 pm!!

Join me and countless others in not joining the fear-mongering!

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/story.html?id=2732774

55. House Rules by Jodi Picoult

House Rules by Jodi Picoult (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 532 pages
Ages: 18 +
Finished: Mar. 26, 2010
First Published: Mar. 2, 2010
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: realistic fiction, mystery
Rating: 2/5

First sentence:

Everywhere I look, there are signs of a struggle.




Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: I have Asperger's. My son is autistic. I have never read a Jodi Picoult book before as they have never interested me but when I heard the topic of this one was Asperger's I obviously just had to read it.

Comments: As a person with Asperger's I am dismayed with Picoult's portrayal of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Picoult starts off by showing us all the sources she has used for her research but once one starts reading it is obvious she is so full of research she doesn't know what to do with it. She has taken every possible symptom of both Asperger's and autism (which are two different diagnoses) and put them all into the character of Jacob. Not only is Jacob loaded down with every single symptom, each of his symptoms are of the most extreme variety. A real-life 'aspie' (as we call ourselves) will have some, perhaps even many, but certainly not all textbook examples, of the symptoms and then they are at varying degrees. What Picoult has done here is a disservice to the Asperger's community.

From the mother: "Since there's no cure yet for Asperger's, we treat the symptoms ...". Asperger's is not a disease or an illness! There is no cure because one is not needed. Just from reading the positive reviews of this book I see the word "illness" being used over and over to describe Asperger's and that is because the book has left readers unfamiliar with AS with that impression. I could sit here and write an essay refuting all the quotes on the dog-eared pages I created while reading, but I won't. If you want a realistic view of a young man with Asperger's I urge you to read the book "Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork. The main character is 17 years old and is very comparable to Jacob only the author has done an excellent job in portraying Asperger's, showing the struggles we face but also shows that we do indeed function and do not need anyone's sympathy.

BTW, I did give the book 2 stars because if I removed the whole Asperger's element I thought the mystery was quite interesting with a fun little twist to the solution.

Friday, March 26, 2010

54. Laurie and Company by Eleanor Frances Lattimore


Laurie and Company by Eleanor Frances Lattimore (US) OUT OF PRINT

Pages: 128 pages
Ages: 7+
Finished: Mar. 25, 2010
First Published: 1962
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Laurie was a little girl who had to learn how to amuse herself.


Acquired: Borrowed a copy via Inter-Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: Lattimore is one of my favourite childhood authors and there is not a lot about her or her books available on line. One of my long term goals is to review every book she wrote.

Summary: Laurie's mother was widowed when she was just baby and they live in a beautiful yellow house out on the edge of the city where there are no children her age to play with so Laurie spends her time amusing herself. Her mother is a seamstress, a dressmaker, working from home to support the two of them. Of course, it helps that they are renting the house from Laurie's great Aunt Augusta. We see the determined busy life of a single mother in a time when this was not the normal topic to found in children's books and yet Lattimore treats the subject with no undue special attention. A few years later Laurie has made friends with some neighbours who have moved nearby with a girl her age and a brother. Laurie has also learned to sew by hand from her mother and she just loves sewing. With a fun hobby, new friends and a dog she loves dearly they find out that Aunt Augusta is selling the house and they must move to town and stay with her. Laurie is devastated, Mother is glad to be rid of the seamstress business, Aunt Augusta does not wish her to bring herself down by working anymore but Mother is determined to be self-sufficient (just doing something that has nothing to do with sewing!). Leaving the dog Royal behind with neighbors they start to settle into the apartment in the city but when Royal is reported missing several weeks later an new chain of events start happening that may just leave everyone involved perfectly satisfied.

A delightful, wholesome story that holds together well over time. Besides the aunt not wanting the mother to work for appearances sake doesn't feel old-fashioned as it does more small town quaint. With Laurie's sewing of small stuffed animals and the eventual resolution of the plot I think this will appeal to any little girl in her early years. Lattimore was well-known for writing at early reading levels and this would make a great first chapter book for young readers. Lattimore's own pencil sketches are, as usual, quaint but more detailed than in her earlier works. A lovely little story that will be enjoyed by fans of B is for Betsy or Hugo and Josephine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marvel Adventures Superheroes: Invisible Woman

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes Issue 19
Featuring Invisible Woman
by Paul Tobin
March 2010

First sentence:

So, here we are.


Acquired: My son has a subscription.

Reason for Reading: I didn't have anything to post today so I needed to read something really quick last night and I grabbed the next issue of this comic.

Comments: Now that The Avengers have named themselves in the last volume, Ironman decides they need a headquarters so he brings the group to the high tech subterranean HQ that he has had designed for them with a specially made room for each member. As they are checking the place out they are infiltrated by Plant Man, but turns out he's not after them. This time he's come for their help because he says The Silver Surfer has gone crazy and is chasing him all over the place trying to kill him and causing all sorts of damage. The Avengers find themselves battling against The Silver Surfer while they try to figure out what has happened to him.

So, this was a fun issue. I always enjoy seeing the good guys going bad for some reason or other. Naming this issue after Invisible Woman is a bit of a stretch as this issue really is a group effort, though there is a few frame discussion of how bossy she is and hints there may be something wrong with her healthwise. Most of the book covers fun banter between the characters which was enjoyable and then the end part is full of the battle scenes and the final solution that caused The Silver Surfer's character change was hilarious. A fun romp for a comic aimed at kids.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

53. You Suck by Christopher Moore

You Suck by Christopher Moore (Canada) - (US)
A Love Story, Book 2

Pages: 328 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 21, 2010
First Published: 2007
Publisher: William Morrow (read 20% online)
Genre: humour
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

"You b*tch, you killed me! You suck!"


Acquired: Borrowed a copy via Inter-Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series and in preparation for the new book that just came out today in the series, "Bite Me".

Summary: This book picks up right where book one, Bloodsucking Fiends, leaves off. Not too much of a plot going on here or maybe small bits of many plots going on. Jody and Tommy are exploring their new relationship. The Animals have all joined together with a blue-dyed Las Vegas hooker who decides to become their leader and wants them to capture Tommy. Tommy has his own minion, a cute goth girl who calls him Lord Flood and Jody, The Countess, and unfortunately Elijah, who was taken care of in book one, has escaped and is out to get them all again.

Comments: Jody and Tommy are such a wonderful vampire couple; they show how it can be done right, with the perfect love match and eternal togetherness and a whole lot of fun! (Bella and Edward go find a coffin!) All the eccentric characters from book one are back with a few new faces: a homeless man and his HUGE shaved cat, Abby Normal the cute Goth girl who thinks vampires are so cool, and Blue the prostitute with blue-dyed skin. The whole book is just a complete riot, one outrageous episode after another that had me laughing out loud. I was very pleased to see Charlie Asher from A Dirty Job show up for a tiny cameo too! I think I have to say I enjoyed this one even more than the first book but the ending did bug me. I'm glad I've read it now when I know another book has been written, I think if I'd read it at the time it was published I would have been quite upset with the ending which just begs for a sequel to be written and three years is a long time to wait for one! Christopher Moore's humour is not for everyone but if you can laugh at yourself as much as others and can take a joke easier than you take offense Moore will be right up your alley. I can't wait to read "Bite Me" now!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday: Books in the Mail

Pretty busy week for my old mailbox once again. Might be time to oil the hinges! All review books except one that I won in a publisher's contest.

For Review:

From First Second Books:

In OLYMPIANS, O'Connor draws from primary documents to reconstruct and retell classic Greek myths. But these stories aren't sedate, scholarly works. They're action-packed, fast-paced, high-drama adventures, with monsters, romance, and not a few huge explosions. O'Connor's vibrant, kinetic art brings ancient tales to undeniable life, in a perfect fusion of super-hero aesthetics and ancient Greek mythology.

Volume 1 of OLYMPIANS, ZEUS: King OF THE GODS, introduces readers to the ruler of the Olympian Pantheon, telling his story from his boyhood to his ascendance to supreme power.



Greek Gods as you’ve never seen them before!

The strong, larger-than-life heroes of the Olympians can summon lightning, control the sea, turn invisible, or transform themselves into any animal they choose. Superheroes? No! Greek gods. The ancient pantheon comes to explosive life in this new series where myth meets comic books. Epic battles, daring quests, and terrible monsters await readers within the pages of these books.

Volume 2, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, is the tale of the goddess of wisdom and war, recounting her many adventures.

From Scholastic Canada:

There is so much to look at and learn about on a farm - animals, tractors, crops, and barns. And children feeding animals for morning chores! With lyrical writing and beautiful illustrations that capture the rhythms of the changing seasons, Elisha Cooper brings the farm to life.





A stunning collection of paintings depicting the world’s most threatened habitats and the animals that live there. In the tradition of his other award-winning titles for children, Vanishing Habitats is the ultimate pairing of Robert Bateman’s role as artist and as passionate ecological advocate. His tireless quest to study and protect the world’s biodiversity has taken him to every continent and inspired art that has found its way into homes everywhere. Here, his breathtaking artwork and moving commentary will introduce readers to the Bowhead Whale, imperilled by pollution and climate change in the Bering Strait; the Mountain Gorillas of the Congo Basin, facing extinction due to uncontrolled deforestation; and so many more. A true celebration of the beauty and perseverance of endangered animals, and a cautionary tale of our relationship with the natural world, this book will leave readers with a deep appreciation and concern for the abundance of life that surrounds them.

From Harper Collins Canada:


Barnes & the Brains books 1,2 &3
#1 A Bad Case of Ghosts ~ Giles Barnes’ new house creaks and rustles, and fluttering sounds fill his bedroom. His mother insists there are no such thing as ghosts, but Giles enlists the help of his new neighbours, “local geniuses” Tina and Kevin Quark, and their “ghostometer.” Together Barnes and the Brains solve the mystery—and get rid of the ghosts for good!



When the decomposed body of a young woman is found near railway tracks just outside Bristol one morning, all indications are that she-s committed suicide. That-s how the police want it too; all neatly squared and tidied away. But DI Jack Caffery is not so sure. He is on the trail of someone predatory, someone who hides in the shadows and can slip into houses unseen. And for the first time in a very long time, he feels scared.Police Diver Flea Marley is working alongside Caffery. With the traumas of her past safely behind her, she-s beginning to wonder whether their relationship could go beyond the professional. But then she finds something that changes everything. Not only is it far too close to home for comfort - it-s so horrifying that she knows that nothing will ever be the same again.And this time, no one - not even Caffery - can help her.


From Random House Canada:

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

From Simon & Schuster Canada:

Now, after more than three decades of studying, teaching and writing about what drives our compul-sions with food, Geneen adds a profound new dimension to her work in Women, Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God. But it doesn't stop there. Geneen shows how going beyond both the food and feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul to the bright center of your own life.

With penetrating insight and irreverent humor, Roth traces food compulsions from subtle beginnings to unexpected ends. She teaches personal examination, showing readers how to use their relationship with food to discover the fulfillment they long for.

Your relationship with food, no matter how conflicted, is the doorway to freedom, says Roth. What you most want to get rid of is itself the doorway to what you want most: the demystification of weight loss and the luminous presence that so many of us call God.

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body...and almost everything else. Women, Food and God is, quite simply, a guide for life.

Won from the publisher:

Have you ever read a book that's about you? This book is!

Your parents are inventors, and one day you rescued a robot that they didn't want anymore from the trash. You had a lot of fun with him, but boy did he make things go crazy! Your parents weren't too happy about your robot adventures, but you really miss your friend. Can you trust him to behave himself, or is he about to go cuckoo-bananas in front of all your friends?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

52. City of Spies by Susasn Kim

City of Spies by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan. Artwork by Pascal Dizin (Canada) - (US)


Pages: 172 pages
Ages: 11+
Finished: Mar. 20, 2010
First Published:Apr. 27, 2010
Publisher: First Second
Genre: children, graphic novel
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Wind holding steady ... Standing by to begin descent ...




Acquired: Received a review copy the publisher.

Reason for Reading: The old-style drawings, and superhero story set in WWII intrigued me.

Summary: It is 1942, Evelyn's mother has died, her father is a busy man with better things to do than look after a child, so she now lives with her rich Bohemian partying artist aunt who hasn't a clue about children. Evelyn spends her spare time drawing comics about Zirconium Man and his sidekick Scooter who fight against Nazis and a black ooze-like monster. But in real life Evelyn meets the building janitor's son Tony and they find themselves on the track of real liveNazi spies in their own neighbourhood.

Comment: Wonderful story that brings back the olden days of comics. Starting with the art, one thing I really appreciated is that when Evelyn is drawing her comic it is presented in the old-style where you can see the colour is made up of little dots and the type is all caps. Then when the switch is made to the present story we've got a Tin-Tin style of art with modern colour techniques and a normal lowercase type with caps where they should be. These easily helps the reader know whether they are reading the main story or Evelyn's comic book and the device is just a lot of fun.

Growing up reading old Superman comics I found at garage sales I really had fun with Evelyn's comic story and when Zirconium Man and Scooter were surrounded be reporters I'll eat my hat if I didn't see Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen in a few panes. Lots of humour along with olden by golden Superhero cheese.

The main story is full of adventure and humour as the daring children (age 10) set off following clues to what they are sure is a Nazi spy ring. Only they have a few false alarms causing the police and grown-ups not to believe them. One of these episodes is leaving me on the fence as to what age group I'd recommend the book for. The book is perfectly safe reading with only a tiny bit of innuendo that could be read by ages 10 and up assuming they have some idea as to WWII and the Nazis but there is one scene where a "spy" ends up being a man cheating on his wife and they show a few frames of a matronly-looking woman in bra and slip on a bed with man in a vest and boxers. There is also an artist sketching scene showing the back of a nude model and a side view which shows the slightest little bre*st bump. Parents should be aware of this to decide on the suitability for their own children. Older teens are not going to be terribly interested in the 10yo protagonists.

Other than the main spy story plot, there is also a back story of the aunt who develops from being an irresponsible child caretaker with a somewhat dubious past to someone who finds a wholesome new romance and learns that she really is up to the challenge of her niece's well-being.

A fun book, with quite a few story layers, humour and bold, colourful art. Recommended.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

51. Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs


Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs by Ursula Vernon (Canada) - (US)
Dragonbreath series, Book 2


Pages: 206 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: Mar. 19, 2010
First Published: Feb. 4, 2010
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: children, fantasy, action, comics hybrid
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:


Feudal Japan. Lord Dragonbreath , Ruler of an Ancient Samurai Clan, addresses his troops on the eve of battle.


Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group Canada.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 9yo ds over the March Break.

Summary: Danny has his mind full of imaginary samurai scenarios and watches ninja movies every night because of his current Japanese warfare obsession. Plus ninjas are cool! Then a Japanese exchange student comes to school for a while, Suki Salamander, and Wendell falls a bit in love with her which makes Danny nauseated. Until he finds out that frog ninjas are trying to kidnap Suki. So the three take off to visit Danny's great-grandfather, an expert in the field, who will be able to tell them how to rid themselves of these Ninjas and why they want Suki in the first place.

Comments: I thought the first Dragonbreath book was so-so but my son enjoyed it very much and with a title of "Attack of the Ninja Frogs" we just had read the next one. I'll say I'm glad I did as this one was much more fun (for me) than the first. Obviously a cute story, definitely aimed at boys. Plenty of humour that had both of us laughing and ds was up out of his seat doing his ninja moves at the appropriate times; I even joined in with a few special ninja moves of my own!

The artwork is cute and cartoony. The comic style portions of the book are interwoven throughout and are a part of the story, they can't be skipped. This style of book is becoming known as a hybrid part textual novel/part graphic novel. However, the graphic sequences are kept shorter than are found in the first book. They were kept more to short sequences on the bottom of the page or the occasional full page but were hardly any that ran for more than two pages. Overall, the book does come out to be profusely illustrated rarely showing two pages of plain text without illustration.

The story is quite entrancing; what boy doesn't want to go join up with samurais against ninjas? While all this action is going on there is the back story of Wendall "liking" Suki and being embarrassed and not knowing how to act around her while Danny thinks girls have "cooties" and teases Wendall about having a girlfriend. By the end they both learn a lesson that perhaps doesn't extend to all girldom but has taught them that Suki is not an intimidating girl, no Suki is simply their friend. This whole storyline went way over my sons head though. He has no problems with girls. Except mushy stuff like kissing then he's grossed out but no kissing in this book. My son had never even heard the word "cooties" before and I didn't elaborate on it much, not necessary to tell him about all the rude cootie games and songs we played when I was a kid (LOL)

At the end of the book we are tempted by an announcement that a third book will be coming soon and ds is already sure he wants continue with Danny in Dragonbreath:Curse of the Were-Wiener.

Friday, March 19, 2010

50. Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay


Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay (Canada) - (US)


Pages: 415 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 18, 2010
First Published: Mar. 2, 2010
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

"I'm scared," Ethan said.


Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: I always read Barclay's newest novels.

Summary: Jan and David Harwood are going to spend their day with 4-year old Ethan at the new Five Mountains theme park. After a few typical miss-starts when you plan anything involving the kids they finally all get inside and David gets in line to buy ice cream cones. As he heads back Jan is running toward him, Ethan is gone, the stroller is gone, she was just tying her shoelace and then it was gone. Panic set in. David sends Jan to the gates to watch everyone leaving while he takes off running down the path. With joyous relief he finds the stroller with little Ethan asleep, no worse for wear, but is that man running away from the stroller? Just happy to have Ethan back, they go to find Jan at the main gate but she's nowhere to be found. Hours go by until David realizes she is missing and the police are called in. How can Jan be missing? It's almost unbelievable until the police questioning starts to take a turn that makes David feel like he's being interrogated, then it all becomes too real.

Comments: Another great suspenseful thriller from Linwood Barclay! David is a very compelling protagonist and the reader becomes just as frustrated as he is when the police start focusing on him as their suspect. The book is full of reveals which tell us just a little bit more of what is going on until the ending where the last final secret puts everything into place. I have to admit I pretty much had this one all figured out very early on in the book but Barclay's such a great writer I stayed along for ride. Funny enough roller coasters are a bit of a recurring theme in the story and that is what you are certainly in for with all the various twists and turns in plot, a roller coaster of a read. Ultimately, not my favourite by Barclay but still a strong thriller and a fast-paced plot that makes for a fast-paced read. I had it read in two evenings but if you have the day off it would make a great book to devote to an all-day reading day! Barclay's books are all stand-alones so jump in with this one (or any other!) to get your feet wet and you'll end up loving reading Canada's best thriller author.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

49. Biomega Vol. 1


Biomega Vol. 1 by Tsutomu Nihei (Canada) - (US)


Pages: 220 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 17, 2010
First Published: Feb. 2, 2010
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: manga, science fiction, horror
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

3005 A.D. Mankind successfully completes its first manned flight to mars in seven centuries.


Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Apocalypse? Virus? Zombies? How could I *not* want to read it?

Summary: I've never done this before but I think for this one time the publisher's summary will do a much better job than I can in describing the plot.

Zoichi Kanoe plunges into the depths of 9JO--an island city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean--in search of Eon Green, a girl with the power to transmute the N5S virus. He's not the only one looking for her, though... Agents of the Public Health Service's Compulsory Execution Unit are also in hot pursuit. Zoichi and his transhuman allies have no time to waste; the countdown to the zombie apocalypse has begun!


Comments: First off this book is a little larger in length and width than the usual manga which really enhances the superb artwork. Done in very detailed black ink the artwork tells the story for much of the book. There are a lot of wordless panels, especially in the first half where words are very seldom used and only sparsely when needed. There are many scenes which look down upon a city or place and these are truly stunning, some of the best artwork I've seen in a manga. There is a lot of violence but it's all of the kind you'd expect to see when zombies are being shot at and blown to pieces plus a small bit of language, thus the manga has an "M" rating.

The story in this first volume is brief. The outline of what is going on and who our main characters are is introduced and one gets a bit of a feel for them. By the end of the book slight revelations have been made and we know the end of the world is imminent. There is one character whom not much information has been given and I found, shall we say, quite interesting, by the name of Kozlov who is a large talking grizzly bear who seems to be trying to protect Eon Green and I find myself most compelled by him at the moment.

I definitely have a sense of the story here but I'm not big on wordless graphics, even though this does contain enough bubbles to tell some story. I personally do need more. At this point, I'm going to wait for Volume 2 before deciding whether this is a series I want to follow. If you like Apocalyptic stories, lots of zombie and motorcycle action with a grizzly bear thrown in for good measure you may want to give this one a try.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

48. Tegami Bachi Vol. 2

The Letter to Jiggy Pepper by Hiroyuki Asada (Canada) - (US)
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Volume 2


Pages: 191 pages
Ages: 13+
Finished: Mar. 15, 2010
First Published: Mar. 2, 2010
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: manga, science fiction, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

If goodbye makes you so sad ...
... I will stay by your side, Lag.


Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Summary: Lag is on his way to the National Postal Service where he must take his final interview and test to become a Letter Bee. Niche is accompanying him and insisting on being his Dingo which every Letter Bee must have. Niche is perfect to help in protecting Lag and helping him fight as she has amazing hair which is made of golden swords. They stop at a small town just outside the final bridge and meet Nelli, a friendly boy, that is until he steals Lags crossing pass and then they find out the sad story of Kyrie, the last town before the bridge, which has been nicknamed "The Dead End".

This volume is all story and very exciting. Niche picks up a strange creature, a kind of pet, she calls Steak, which we're never quite sure whether she intends to eat or not. This new character is cute in a strange way and turns the journiers into a trio. There is mystery behind Niche as others know about her and who she is more than Lag or the reader does making her mystical powers more intriguing and leaving the reader wanting a background on her. Not much fighting in this volume which I was pleased to see, since Volume 1 went a bit overboard with it. It's good to see that the series isn't going to rely on heavy battle scenes all the time, not that I don't enjoy a reasonable amount of good fighting! The artwork continues to impress me. It lacks the typical abundance of overdone facial expressions of most Japanese manga which I'm not a huge fan of, though Niche is the character who does express herself in that way. The characters and backgrounds are drawn with great details and I enjoy slowly looking at the frames. The individual story arc that this volume concentrated on was wrapped up nicely with a big ending but then the story continued on with the overall story arc and ended with a shocker and a direction for the next volume which thankfully already has a release date later this year in Sept. (2010). Can't wait to read it as we will finally get to meet a character who has only been talked about so far.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

47. Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson


Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson (Canada) - (US)
Little Ottleys Trilogy, Book 1


Pages: 225 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 15, 2010
First Published: 1908 (US pb Bloomsbury Group edition Mar. 2010)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: romantic comedy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

"There's only one thing I must really implore you, Edith," said Bruce anxiously, " Don't make me late at the office!"


Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group Canada.

Reason for Reading: I'm reading all the Bloomsbury Group books.

Summary: This is Edith Ottley's story, though I wouldn't call her the main character. Though it is through Edith that all the characters can be traced back (as in the six degrees of Kevin Bacon). Edith and Bruce Ottley are a young married couple with a two year old son. Bruce is hard to describe without making him sound like a chauvinistic brute. He is also a hypochondriac and would rather not work and be served upon day and night. This is Bruce's character, but it is a pastiche of the weak yet dominating husband, though not mean-spirited, just self-centred. Edith takes advice from friends, especially her mother-in-law, and always complying cheerfully she never looses the upperhand and laughs off Bruce without him even knowing it. There is also Edith's friend Hyacinth, the real main character, who is a young twenties girl living on her own, with a companion, who is in love with a man who is love with someone else. Every other man is in love (or infatuation) with her including her friends' husbands, her former guardian and her ladies companion.

Comments: Hyacinth's story becomes the main focus of the plot while Edith and Bruce's stays in the foreground being the centre from which all other story arcs are in one way or another related. These other story arcs are filled with secondary characters having relationship problems themselves. Hyacinth's love, Cecil, is in love with an older woman Eugenia, who has vowed never to marry again and thinks of him as a boy anyway. Anne, Hyacinth's ladies companion gives very intelligent advice but is jealous of anyone who will take Hyacinth away from her. Then there's Bruce, who like everyman, is attracted to Hyacinth as well, but from afar and by drilling his wife on her visits with her.

Many other characters are intertwined as well and the dialogue is full of wit and repartie. Every character is simply adorable and lovable, even the mysterious Mr. Raggett who we never really fully understand but who, unlike the other men in this story, has fallen for Edith and woos her. Bruce, himself, does take some getting used to, being the only non-likable character but he always comes up short against Edith, without even knowing it and this quiet battle of the sexes is quite humorous.

It took me several chapters (short as they are) to get into the book but once I'd met everyone and the story got going I was completely smitten with everything, everyone and all the goings on in Knightsbridge, England. This is an intelligent, bright, witty romantic comedy. A truly delightful story that can be summed up in that ubiquitous term "the British cozy".

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday: Books in the Mail

Last week was a doozy! So I'll get straight to the books.

For Review:

From LibraryThing's Early Reviewers:

A heartbreaking history of prejudice, family ties, and the loss of innocence.When twelve-year-old Titus Sullivan decides to run away to join his Uncle Amos and older brother, Lem, he finds an alien and exciting world in Oil Springs, the first Canadian oil boomtown of the 19th century.

The Enniskillen swamp is slick with oil, and it takes enterprising folk to plumb its depths. The adventurers who work there are a tough lot of individuals. In this hard world, Titus becomes friends with a young black boy, the child of slaves who came to Canada on the Underground Railroad. When tragedy strikes in the form of a race riot, Titus's loyalties are tested as he struggles to deal with the terrible fallout.

Though the characters are fictitious, the novel is based on a race riot that occurred in Oil Springs, Ontario, on March 20, 1863. Grease Town is historical fiction at its finest. (Canada) - (US)

From Random House Canada:

Whether he’s reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a chameleon con artist in Europe, or riding in a cyclone- tossed skiff with a scientist hunting the elusive giant squid, David Grann revels in telling stories that explore the nature of obsession and that piece together true and unforgettable mysteries.

Each of the dozen stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world and, like Into Thin Air and The Orchid Thief, pivots around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip. There is the world’s foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent; and sandhogs racing to complete the brutally dangerous job of building New York City’s water tunnels before the old system collapses. Throughout, Grann’s hypnotic accounts display the power—and often the willful perversity—of the human spirit.

Compulsively readable, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant mosaic of ambition, madness, passion, and folly. (Canada) - (US)


The next thrilling installment in the Harry Hole series.

The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother's pink scarf. Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier. As Harry and his team delve into unsolved case files, they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. When a second woman disappears Harry's suspicions are confirmed: he is a pawn in a deadly game. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his turf, a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity. (Canada) - (US)

From First Second Books:

Mystery, intrigue, and pastries abound in this World War II spy tale

Evelyn typically satisfies her longing for adventure with the help of a pencil and a sheet of paper. But when she makes a new friend, Tony, she’s happy to abandon her art for a real-life search for spies. When the two accidentally uncover a genuine mystery, it looks like Evelyn might end up in the kind of adventure she writes in her comics!

Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Pascal Dizin present a period piece that creates an inviting world you won’t want to resist.(Canada) - (US)


From Toon Books:

Why can't he ever play nice? Benny and Penny hide every toy and tell Cousin Bo he can't play with them. Will the three mice find a way to play without something getting torn, ripped, or snatched away? Bestselling author Geoffrey Hayes thrills us with this hilarious tale of tiny cousins who discover a game that can't ever be ruined. (Canada) - (US)





Can Zig and Wikki catch a pet before they become a snack? Zig and Wikki land on a planet full of strange creatures like flies, frogs, and raccoons. They have to capture one for a school assignment, but the animals aren't ready for class - on this new planet, it seems to be lunchtime! (Canada) - (US)









From Candlewick Press:

Save the planet . . . Pluto! Stink Moody, wise-cracking champion of everything small, is on a new mission: to reinstate his favorite celestial orb.

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a falling leaf ?
A speck of dust? A speeding mosquito?
No, it’s Stink Moody, Solar System Superhero!

When Stink learns that Pluto has flunked out of the Milky Way for being too shrimpy, he feels like he might just explode with a Big Bang. Stink has no choice but to take a stand for the sake of little planets (and little people) everywhere. Will he be smart enough to defeat a panel of big-shot scientists? Will he be strong enough to beat know-it-all Riley Rottenberger and her "Team KPB"? Will he succeed in rescuing Pluto from a fate worse than being swallowed by a black hole? Start the countdown for a funny (and very informative) out-of-this-world adventure—and prepare to have your universe rocked! (Canada) - (US)

From Harper Collins Canada:

What if the world's greatest hero decided to become the world's greatest villain? The Plutonian’s deadly rampage continues. His former comrades-turned-victims are beaten, tired, and searching for hope. A "twilight of the superheroes"-style story that examines super-villains from Mark Waid, the writer of KINGDOM COME and EMPIRE!









From Simon & Schuster Canada:

Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject -- in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do...and he's usually right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's -- not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect -- can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. For his mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

Emotionally powerful from beginning to end, House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way -- and fails those who don't. (Canada) - (US)

And finally a book that is not for review but Bookmooched for our history studies next year:

In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Daniel bar Jamin is fired by only one passion: to avenge his father's death by crucifixion by driving the Roman legions from his land of Israel. He joins an outlaw band and leads a dangerous life of spying, plotting, and impatiently waiting to seek revenge. Headstrong Daniel is devoid of tenderness and forgiveness, heading down a destructive path toward disaster until he hears the lessons taught by Jesus of Nazareth. With a brand new cover, young readers won't be able to pass up this timeless tale. (Canada) - (US)

46. Fables: War and Pieces

War and Pieces by Bill Willingham (Canada) - (US)
Fables series, Vol. 11


Pages: 179 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 13, 2010
First Published: 2008
Publisher: Vertigo
Genre: graphic novel, fairy tales, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Mr. Blue? Mr. Blue?


Acquired: Borrowed a copy via Inter Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Comments: This is a fabulous edition! A culmination of the overall plot to date that is very satisfying. The book starts of with an issue devoted mostly to the farm and the relationship between Blue and Red but also sets the stage both on the farm and back at Fabletown for the preparations before the war. Next up is a two-parter devoted solely to Cindy on a special op. which was seriously fun. We've seen her in action before but only in small doses, this dedicated storyline has made her one of my favourite characters. Finally, the book finishes with the 4 titular issues "War and Pieces" where the final battle and ultimate war that all previous issues have been leading up to one way or another. The book ends with a written afterward by the author speaking of this "ending" in the series and the new "beginnings". Things will certainly be different now and I can't wait to see where they go from here. A fabulous volume that brings a great ending to an 11-volume story arc. Onward ho!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

45. The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson

The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson (Canada) - (US)


Pages: 188 pages
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 13, 2010
First Published: 1931 (2010 US pb March Bloomsbury Group edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: British farce, fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

How I loathe that kind of novel which is about a lot of sisters.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group Canada.

Reason for Reading: I've heard much praising of this book over the years. And lamenting as it seems it was a Virago Classic at one time but went out of print. I've always wanted to read it since I enjoy early 20th century literature.

Summary: The Carnes, three daughters and a mother since the father died, are not a well-to-do family but they get by and do employ a governess for the youngest, while the two elder are both in their early twenties. Katrine is an aspiring actress attending Dramatic School and Deirdre is a working journalist who works on her book at home. The family has invented a whole passel of imaginary friends (often based on real life people) and guests who have become a part of their daily lives. They've invented complete fairy tales around these subjects and live quite an extraordinary and romantic life through them. When mother must go sit as a backup for jury duty they add Judge Toddington to their assemblage, calling him Toddy, and his wife and staff. But one day Deirdre is sent to cover a charity bazaar at which she meets the real Lady Toddington and is invited to her home for tea.

Comments: This really is quite some book! First I'll admit that as it starts off I found myself very confused as to who was real and who was imaginary and just what the heck was going on. It all seemed rather strange to have twenty year olds living an imaginary life and I wondered what I had got myself into reading! Little by little over the first several chapters the method of the madness is revealed and everyone is sorted out for the reader. The governess, recently hired, is a drop of reason for the reader as she writes to her sister of the "weird" family and "weird" goings on. Eventually, the sisters' characters emerge and one is smitten with them and truly engaged with the farcical goings on. Once the Toddington's (the real ones) appear on the scene the tone of the book takes a new direction and while the imaginations continue to be farcical they also become a catharsis which I can't really talk about any more as it would give away what happens. And just how the Brontes figure into things not to mention ending up at Woolworths I'm not going to tell though I will mention one word ... seance.

Truly a joy to read! The second half of the book is by far the better half and I was so taken with Toddy (Sir Toddington) and the narrator of the book Deirdre. A delight to read and at less than 200 pages a quick one at that. This is certainly something very different than what is written nowadays and I recommend for those looking for a trip back to the Bohemian British thirties.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Secret Three by Mildred Myrick

The Secret Three by Mildred Myrick. Drawings by Arnold Lobel ~ OUT OF PRINT
An I CAN READ Book

Pages: 64 pages
Ages: 6+
Finished: Mar. 12, 2010
First Published: 1963
Publisher: Harper & Row
Genre: children, easy reader
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Mark came to stay with Billy at the beach.

Acquired: Bought and own a vintage copy. Quite proud of our copy as it is hardcover but not a library binding and besides rubbed and bumped corners is in Fine condition.

Reason for Reading: The ds read aloud to me for his reader.

Summary: The story of two boys who find a message in a bottle from another boy who must come from the Lighthouse island. So they send a message back with a secret code embedded and so the messages continue until eventually the three boys meet, set up a secret club, and end the summer with a camp out on the island.

Comments: An enjoyable story with plenty going on to appeal to boys: messages in bottles and exploring the beach, secret codes and secret clubs, exploring the lighthouse and camping. The 9yo enjoyed it, especially decoding the secret words in the messages, well enough but not to the degree he has enjoyed other books. While a nice story, the lack of a climax leaves the story without excitement. The illustrations by Arnold Lobel are quite out of character from his usual children's illustrations. The cover picture is indicative of the inside drawings except the palette is limited to yellow, blue and black with the yellow/blue occasionally mixing to make a faint green. It is a very scribbley type of drawing and ds said "It was a good book but I didn't like the pictures."

Still, a nice enough story with real boy characters doing things that boys like to do. The book has been out of print for many years but is readily available used online at low prices.