Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: The Inimitable Jeeves by P. H. Wodehouse

Synopsis: Bertram Wooster, aka Bertie, is a young bachelor in 1920's London. Blessed with money and an easy life, his troubles seem to come from bumbling friends and meddlesome relatives. Thankfully, he has Jeeves, his valet, who always seems to know how to get Bertie (and others) out of the numerous problems they find themselves in.

Review: Wodehouse is known for his humor - and this book is full of witty remarks and even a few laugh out loud moments. But after reading the entire volume, it grows repetitive quickly. The same people have the same problems and Jeeves always rescues them. Very few of the characters grow, move on, change or otherwise acknowledge their faults. And Bertie never changes. The other thing it the continuous use of 1920s British slang. A word here and there is fine - but entire paragraphs where ever major noun or verb is slang? It wears on the mind after a while. I wanted to give this a higher rating, but in the end of I was glad to finish and move on. I am sorry, as several dear friends and cherished authors cite Wodehouse as inspiration, but for my tastes, I wasn't able to find the joy as others have. One concession I make is these stories were published separately, not as a novel, and are best read that way. Perhaps if I read them in their original form, I would feel differently.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-16-2011
Pages: 224

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Community Nurse by Lucy Agnes Hancock

Synopsis: Dana Brooks left small-town Sedgewick for three years of nursing school in the big city. But after graduation, she comes back to add the town's only doctor, an aging man who bares a large burden. She is resentful at first of the town old-fashioned ways, it's dull, drab feeling and the idea of being stuck there, in particular when everyone assumes she'll marry her long-time beau. But a chance emergency leads her into the life of the founders (and money) of the town, and as she becomes integrated into the lives of those around her, she learns more about herself and her town then she ever knew.

Review: This book was published in 1944, and that is the primary reason I purchased it. Hancock was well known during that time for her medical romance books, and this is certainly an amusing tale along those lines. Clean in the sense there is no bodice-ripping, sex or even anything but a chaste kiss  - it does have several racist comments and the requisite German villain that might offend our modern sensibilities. I enjoyed this book for the look into the past, the language, the look at society and past values, the ideas of "modern" and the description of the medical practices. These was the standard drama and hero's grand rescue of the heroine, but it suited the book nicely. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a clean romance and a bit of vintage nonsense.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-15-11
Pages: 250

PS: I purchased this book in a dusty thrift store in between Lynchburg and Charlottesville, in Virginia. These sort of shops, the vintage-thrifts and mysterious antique stores, are the best for finding such novels. Along with this one, I purchased on printed in 1900, still in readable condition. Most will cost you between $3-$10, and are quite worth it to my mind.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Protien Power LifePlan by Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades

Synopsis: This is the companion book to the Eades' Protein Power book (I reviewed here). It covers the basic of protein, carbs, insulin and diet. It also lays out a clear plan to follow the low-carb "lifestyle".

Review: I was not impressed with the first. However, this one was better. Clearly the authors learned from the feedback and continued to research, as some of the advice changed, they clarified the science and advice, and add new thoughts in. This new book is easier to follow and apply. The advice, overall, is good. In conjunction with my additional research (here and here) I agree with what they say. If you want a clear introduction to the low-carb / insulin eating plan.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-11-2011
Pages: 434

Review: Florence Nightingale: War Nurse by Anne Colver

Synopsis: Florence Nightingale was born into a wealthy, noble family. Instead of marriage and prestige, she chose to learn nursing in a time when that was a coarse profession, with no training and only taken by women who could find no work else were. Nightingale elevated it to the status we known today, and became a national hero for her work in the Crimea and her push to establish schools and standards for nursing.

This is biography for children, so it is understandably basic and introductory. The vocabulary is simple and the syntax and sentence structure of easy. The story is true, however sparse, and does cover the basics of Nightingales's life, although it lacks the depth and emotion of the a larger adult novel. I would recommend this as an excellent beginners book, suitable for a 2nd-3rd grade reading level. While it is about a girl, boys will be interested in the Crimea description and the blood'n'guts aspect.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-10-11
Pages: 80

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read

Synopsis: Nobody in Fairacre knew much about Miss Quinn, which was a rare state of affairs and much regretted by the villagers. Apart from the fact that she lived in the annex to Mrs. Benson's house and that she worked in Caxley, her past history and the amount of her salary remained a tantalizing mystery.
In fact, Miss Quinn was a highly efficient secretary to a Caxley businessman. She ran him, and her own affairs, with terrifying competence. She was completely unsentimental and planned to spend her Christmas exactly as she wanted it, without fuss or family.
But before the great day, her brother rang to say his wife had been rushed to the hospital, and could she come and cope with the children? Secretly cursing, Miss Quinn set out to do her duty.
She coped as capably with the turmoil of her brother's household as she did with the office, and the regret for her lost Christmas was somewhat mitigated by the children's joy and the unexpected arrival of an old flame.
Her few days of enforced domesticity gave Miss Quinn much to think about, and the reversal of the quiet Christmas she had planned was to have a significant effect upon the rest of her life.

Review:  This author was recommend by Lanier, who can always be relied upon for the most wonderful books. This author is a balm for a restless heart. It's a quiet, peaceful, calming book. Nothing world-shattering or traumatic happens; just the simply ebb and flow of life. Miss Quinn was character I related too, for her depth and just-so attitude. Watching her grow, in the quiet way we all do, was a treasure to read. I highly recommend this book as a pleasant, quiet read, perhaps one for a stormy night, to bring with you as you curl up under a blanket with a fragrant cup of tea.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished:  12-9-11
Pages: 148

Review: The Carols of Christmas by Rod McKuen

Synopsis: A small collection of Christmas poetry. McKuen was popular during his lifetime for his poetry, folk songs and other written work.
Review: This is a collection typical of McKuen's work. It's not bad, but not good. It's accessible poetry, but forgettable. It mostly mediocre prose in repetitive forms.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None
Date Finished: 12-9-2011
Pages: 61

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aquisitions: Friends of the Library Book Sale

It was the last one of the year. I skipped in with a crisp $10 bill to spend. I left with a stack of books and $2 in crumpled ones.

Here is what I purchased:

Beastly Inventions: A Surprising Investigation into Just How Smart Animals Really Are by Jean Craighead George

No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read

Gossip from Thrush Green by Miss Read

Savy by Ingrid Law

The Great Omission by Dallas Willard

Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Ship Fever and Other Stories by Andres Barrett

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton

The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw

I also purchased another copy of The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis and a copy of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. The Lewis is for my Give-Away Pile and the Levine is a Christmas gift from my little sister. A fine haul, if I do say so myself.

Review: Protien Power by Michae R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades

Synopsis: This is a health and wellness book, divided into chapters on basic nutritional knowledge, why protein matters, what insulin does, recipes and the plan and how to proceed.

Review: This was your basic protein is awesome health book. I found the sections on insulin helpful, interesting and easy to understand. The authors go in-depth enough so you feel like you are getting the truth, but not so in-depth you drown in useless knowledge or words high above your head. The section on how to find you percentage body fat and other measurements was a little confusing, but with some concentration, it became clear. The section on what to eat was a bit sparse, and most of it elicited a "duh" from me. I recommend this is you are looking for an Atkins-like diet, but want a bit more science behind it. But I was a unimpressed by this book (although the author's website was much better)

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-7-2011
Pages: 429

Review: Hard Night by Christian Wiman

Synopsis: This is a collection of poems by the Editor of Poetry, and is several poems gathered into three larger over covering art, loneliness and love.

Review: Wiman's poetry is crisp and clear. It reminds me of Dickinson or Hughes. It's not flowery, verbose or sentimental. He uses interesting images, odd word choices and clear tone to convey emotions. In all, I enjoyed his work and look forward to reading more.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-4-2011
Pages: 104

Review: The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper

Synopsis: The Honorable Alice B. Michaels is in a life-or-death struggle for survival - socially speaking, that is. At age twenty-one, her unladylike interest in automatons, and the unfortunate deaths of most of her family from the clockwork plague, have sealed her fate as a less than desirable marriage prospect. But a series of strange occurrences in about to lead Alice in a direction quite beyond the pale.
High above the earth on the American airship USS Juniper, Gavin Ennock lives for the wind and the sky and his fiddle. After privateers attack the Juniper, he is stranded on the dank, dirty, merciless streets of London. When Alice's estranged aunt leaves her a peculiar inheritance, she encounters Gavin under most unusual - even shocking - circumstances.
Then Alice's inheritance attracts the attention of the Third Ward, a clandestine organization that seize the inventions of mad geniuses the plague leaves behind - all for the good of the Empire. But even the Third Ward has secrets. And when Alice and Gavin discover them, a choice must be made between the world and the Empire, no matter the risk to all they hold dear.

Review: I picked this up on a whim in B&N, as it looked intriguing - clockwork plague, mad genius, a girl in social trouble. I anticipated a well-crafted book with rich characters and fine world-building. Oh, was I wrong. It was boring. Just plain boring. Alice was a waffling ninny, Gavin was a boy, the villains were dull, the danger never frightening, the "big reveal" was meh - and so on.
My first, and biggest, obstacle was that Alice was 21 and Gavin, 17. I am not certain what world the author comes from, but those ages may be physically 4 years apart, but in maturity, they are about 100. Never in my life has I heard of a 21 year old female attracted to a 17 year old male. That's like a college girl dating a boy from high school. Not going to happen.
I might have overcome this if I'd bonded with the characters, believed the story line or didn't guess the ending about 1/3 through the book. In the end, this story had many chances to be amazing, but fell flat on all of them, much to my dismay. There is so little steampunk prose out - it's a shame this one isn't any good. My advice - stick to Gail Carringer or Cherie Priest for steampunk.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-2-2011
Pages: 381

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ramblings: Goals and Such

As I approach the end of the year, my mind turns to the reading goals, and whether I shall accomplish them.

My reading goals for 2011:

1. To read 110 new books

2. To read 50% of my collection

3. To write a review of every book I've read.

Goal 2 was going to be the hardest, as the number was dependent on how many books I purchased this year. So, yea. I'm sure you can imagine the issue and the most likely outcome.

I have 3 weeks and change to reach them. We shall see how I do.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aquisitions: Thirft Store Sale and an Extra

I stopped at the tiny little health food store I get vitamins at (it's a local business so I prefer supporting it to the large conglomerates. Plus, they have the BEST soy sauce) - and the shop is next to (and my next too, I mean 9 stores in a strip mall) from the Thrift Store - which was having a sale: Buy 2 Books, Get 1 Free. I went in because, well, I'm weak.

Here is what I purchased:

The Poems of St. John of the Cross ar. by John Frederick Nims (Spanish and English)

Renew My Heart: Daily Wisdom from the Writings of John Wesley com. by Alice Russie

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross

The Magic Egg and Other Stories by Frank R. Stockton

The Tiger Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl

I also picked up a second copy of With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.

Extra is a book N purchased for me on a recent date night:

The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper

Quite a good haul, even if I say it myself.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: Curse of the Full Moon ed. by James Lowder

Synopsis: A collection of nineteen stories centering around the werewolf stories from authors like Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee and George R. R. Martin.

This was a excellent collection. The stories ranged from creepy to funny, to literary to suspense, even a poem. I can't say which is my favorite because I thought all of them were fantastic - something that doesn't happen in often with an anthology. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys werewolves and the many varitations, or who is looking for a collection of stories by a wide range of authors.

8 of 10


Date Finished: 11-30-11
Pages: 377

Review: Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bagigalupi

Synopsis: This is an anthology of eleven stories, part new works, part collection of Bacigalupi's work, including the Hugo nominated "Yellow Card Man" and the Sturgeon Award-winning story "The Calorie Man," both set in the world of his novel The Windup Girl. The works are mostly science fiction / speculative in nature.

I read this thinking it was steampunk. It was not. It was creepy, disturbing and evocative. The stories got stuck in my brain and resurfaced later. In particular, Pump Six - mostly because it seemed possible. Maybe that was what made this collection so likely to stick in your mind - there is a realism, a not-to-far-from-possible tinge. The highest recommendation I can give is to say I will be reading more of his work, but slowly, otherwise I might fry my brain.

8 of 10

Individual stories have one awards.

Date Finished: 11-21-11 Pages: 239

Review: The Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark

Synopsis: Cusi, a modern Inca boy, leaves his home high in the Andes mountains to learn the mysterious secret of his ancient ancestors. Accompanied by his pet llama, Misti, he slowly discovered the truth about his birth and his people's ancient glory - now he must prove himself worthy to be entrusted with the fabulous secret from the past.

I don't know much about the Inca's, other then a cursory mention in school. That lent to my interest in this story. Cusi has grown up in the traditional Incan way, despite living in the modern world. He knows nothing of electricty, running water, automobles. His journey, into the modern world, into his past and into his future, help him understand who he is and what it means to be Ican, what is means to hold to a dying culture and what it measn he has to give up to do so.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Medal, 1953

Date Finished: 11-19-11
Pages: 120

Review: The Talking Earth by Jean Craighead George

Synopsis: Billie Wind lives with her Seminole tribe. She follows their customs, but the dangers of pollution and nuclear war she's learned about in school seem much more real to her. How can she believe the Seminole legends about talking animals and earth spirits? She wants answers, not legends. "You are a doubter,"say the men of the Seminole Council and so Billie goes out into the Everglades alone, to stay until she can believe. In the wilderness, she discovers that she must listen to the land and animals in order to survive. With an otter, a panther cub, and a turtle as companions and guides, she begins to understand that the world of her people can give her the answers she seeks. (from the back of the book)

George wrote My Side of the Mountain, a favorite book. Besides that, this story takes place is the Everglades. As a native Floridian, that enjoy reading about my home state and the place I grew up. This was an excellent book. Billie's journey, both emotional and physical, are well written, as is the description of the Everglades. She also wove in the culture and history of Florida and the Seminole Indians.

7 of 10


Date Finished: 11-17-2011
Pages: 151

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aquisitions: Amazon Order

I had a few dollars left on my Amazing card, so purchased some books I've been drooling over. Here is what I bought:

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer (The Society of Steam Book One)

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Mainspring by Jay Lake

The German Shepherd Today: New and Revised by Winifred Strickland

You can see that I'm still on my fairtale kick, although I've added two steampunk novels. Also, we got a new dog.

Review: Snow White, Blood Red ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Synopsis: This is a collection of retold fairy tales by some of the best authors in the field. Datlow and Windling, while both authors, truly have a gift from gathering stories concerning fairy tales.
This collection includes:
Like a Red, Red Rose by Susan Wade
The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep by Charles de Lint
The Frog Prince by Gahan Wilson
Stalking Beans by Nancy Kress
Snow-Drop by Tanith Lee
Little Red by Wendy Wheeler
I Shall Do Thee Mischief in the Woods by Kathe Koje
The Root of the Matter by Gregory Frost
The Princess in the Tower by Elizabeth A. Lynn
Persimmon by Harvy Jacobs
Little Poucet by Steve Rasnic Tem
The Changelings by Melanie Tem
The Springfield Swans by Caroline Stevermer and Ryan Edmonds
Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman
A Sound, Like Angels Singing by Leonard Rysdyk
Puss by Esther M. Friesner
The Glass Casket by Jack Dann
Knives by Jane Yolen
The Snow Queen by Patricia A. McKillip
Breadcrumbs and Stones by Lisa Goldstein

Review: The idea to restore fairy tales to their original adult nature is a good one, but I am often disappointed with that means simply adding sex to the story. Stalking Beans and Little Poucet come to mind - tossing in extreme sexuality does not make the story adult. Troll Bridge had very little sex, but it was an adult tale, as was A Sound, Like Angels Singing. Having said that, if you are a fairy tale affectionado, this is an excellent anthology. It is the first of six that Datlow and Windling collaborated on. All are worth buying and reading if you can find them. But I give this book 7 bookmarks, not 8 for the overuse of sex to make a story adult.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-14-11
Pages: 407

Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories

Synopsis: I reviewed the Title Story here - which I read via an app on my cell phone while waiting at a doctor's appointment. The other stories are what I am reviewing here. They are: The Body-Snatchers; Markheim; The Bottle Imp.

Review: Over all, these stories are creepy, dark, piercing - full of tortured, deminated, greedy and murderous characters. Stevenson is none for his children's work, but it is these adult (and they surely are adult) are my favorites.
In The Body Snatchers, a young doctor-in-training doesn't ask where the bodies from disection come from. But when he recognizes the face of the dead, he and another doctor-in-training get in with the wrong man - a man who may or may not be more then human.
Markheim is about a young man who goes to a shop to seek a gift for the girl he wishes to marry - but the shopkeeper stands in his way - and murder is the only answer.
The Bottle Imp is about man who buys a bottle that makes him wildly successful - but there is always a price.
These are deliciously twisted tales and I highly recommended - but these are best read on a stormy night with candles and tea and wind lashing your window.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 11-9-11
Pages: 187

Review: George MacDonald - The Best From All His Works ed. by Charles Erlandson

Synopsis: This is a collection of both sermons and stories by George MacDonald, the pastor and storyteller C. S. Lewis credited with mentoring him through his writings.

Review: I must divide this review into two sections. First, his fiction: beautifully written fairytales using clear , light prose. I enjoyed his stories, for the most part. The Shadows was my favorite - it was a dark, glorious tale. I also enjoyed the Light Princess - the princes was an interesting character and reading about her growth was interesting. The other two stories were okay, but didn't hold my attention well.
As for the second part, I think his sermons and teaching have depth and value, and are excellent for instruction and learning. However, they did not appeal to me - I found them dull and hard to grasp. I do not think this is a reflection of MacDonald. It is that for a mind like mine, which requires excessive clarity to grasp anything - it was too much.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Date Finished: 11-5-11
Pages: 284

Friday, November 4, 2011

Aquistions: Amazon Gift Card

For my birthday (which isn't until January, but my husband's family celebrates all the birthdays on the same day), I received an Amazon Gift Card. I spent a bit and here is what I purchased:

Black Heart, Ivory Bones ed. by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling

Snow White, Blood Red ed. by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling

Silver Birch, Blood Moon ed. by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears ed. by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling

Black Swan, White Raven ed. by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling

The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood ed. by Jack Zipes

Red as Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee, et. Al.

The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After: Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Level by Caroline Stevermer & Patricia C. Wrede

I'm sure you can tell I am on a fairy tale kick at the moment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Unmasked by C. J. Barry

Synopsis: To the merchants he plunders, he's the Ghost Rider of the Dead Zone. To sector law enforcement, he's a wanted pirate. To the slaves he rescues, he's the savior, laghato. To one determined female, Qaade Deter is serious trouble.
Torrie Masters had heard of the legendary raider, but she'd never expected to encounter him - especially on her maiden voyage captianing for her family's shipping business. Nor would she have expected that beneath his black mask lurked an enticing man destined to challange her in ways she couldn't shoot her way out of.
But a great theat has emerged - one that's lef tno choice but for them to join forces. Entrusted with the fate of thousands, Torrie has discovered her erstwhile enemy's impossible dream. Only she has the power to help him. Only she has the power to see him Unmasked.

Review: This is a cheesy sci-fi romance novel - and I loved it. It's well-written, with round characters, developed secondary characters, excellent plot and the requisite villian with a horrible plan! I enjoyed this novel. The only bit I wasn't happy about was the sex scenes - but they were easy to skip. I look forward to reading more of her work.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 10-11-11
Pages: 341

Review: Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin

Synopsis: Raine Benares is a sorceress of moderate powers, from an extended family of smugglers and thieves. With a mix of street smarts and magic spells, she can usually take care of herself. But when her friend Quentin, a not-quite-reformed thief, steals an amulet from the home of a powerful necromancer, Raine finds herself wrapped up in a more trouble than she cares for. She likes attention as much as the next girl, but hacing an army o militant goblins hunting her down is not her idea of a good time. The amulet they're after holds limitless power, derived from a ancient, soul-stealing stone. And when Raine takes possession of the item, it takes possession of her.
Now her moderate powers are increasing beyond anything she could imagine - but is the resume enhancement worth her soul? (from the back of the book)

Review: I had a hard time getting into this book. The first bit just didn't grab my attention. However, it wasn't bad enough for me to put it down and as I read farther, it got better, until by the end, I was loathe to put it down. The characters are well-rounded, the action and pass are excellent and the story is intriguing. I recommend if you like good solid fantasy stories.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 10-9-11
Pages: 345

Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Synopsis: Dr. Jekyll writes a will that gives all his money to strange man named Mr. Hyde. The lawyer is unnerved by this and begins to invesigate. His search leads him to a horrify twist of human nature.

Review: I enjoyed reading this. It was simple, dark, twisted, mysterious and well-written. I can see why it is a classic. However, most of the movies made about it are complete bunk - don't waste your time.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 10-7-11
Pages: Unknown (Read it on my Phone)

Review: Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilized Behavior in a Barbarous World by Lucinda Holdforth

Synopsis: When Lucinda Holdforth told her mother she was writing an essay about manners, her mother said, “You’re writing a book about manners?” Deeply offended, Lucinda called her best friend and relayed what her mother had said. Her best friend paused before saying, “Well, you do say “f***” a lot.”

Welcome to the interesting quagmire Lucinda Holdforth finds herself in. She believes that manners are essential to civilization. Yet according to the knife-and-fork snobs, or exclusive bores, her modern-day attitude might not scream manners. And in this age of global warming and warfare, aren’t manners frivolous? Do manners really matter? Yes! she passionately exclaims. Citing everyone from Tocqueville to Proust to Borat, Holdforth shows how manners—which many of us might think are inconsequential—are actually the cornerstone of civilization. Incredibly smart, the book illustrates how the philosophies of the greatest thinkers are relevant to our very modern lives (From the Back of the Book)

Review: I first picked this book up from the cruise ship library - an interesting moment because I was already seething about the lack of etiquette and manners that becomes apparent when you cram 6,000 people onto a boat. Holdforthe starts by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices" - from there, she writes about how manners are more than just being nice; it's the fabric of how we interact with others, it means we can live without laws and morals. It smoothes out the rough edges that always occurs when you have humans living together.
I agreed with most of everything she said - I enjoyed how she explain manners as more than just an intricate set of rules and behaviors, but as more. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in social behavior, manners, or just how people interact.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 10-2-11
Pages: 167

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Aquisitions: Thift Shopping

I went thrift shopping today for bits of Halloween costume, and of course I'm not going to pass up the book piles. Here is what I purchased:

Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-Tales from the Gulf States by Zora Neale Hurston

Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Protien Power Lifeplan by Michael and Mary Dan Eades

One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey

Unmasked by C. . Barry

Each New Day by Corrie Ten Boom

To Light a Candle: The Autobiography of the American missionary in India and China who Founded Literacy Village by Welty Honsinger Fisher

Elizabeth Blackwell: Physican by Matina S. Horner (American Women of Achievement)

Florence Nightingale: War Nurse by Mary C. Austin

Purity in Print: The Vice-Society Movement and Book Censorship in America by Paul S. Boyer

Life Like a Jesus Freak by D.C. Talk

Stranger and Traveler: The Story of Dorothy Dix, American Reformer by Dorothy Clarke Wilson

What's So Amazing about Grace [Visial Edition] by Philip Yancey

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, MD

Synopsis: A renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse myriad health problems. Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, over 100 million of them experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: It’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch. After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain their health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic— and its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In Wheat Belly, Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat”—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle. Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat Belly is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient. (From the Back of the Book)

Review: As a newbie to the Paleo Diet idea, I wanted to read more about why so many people are shunning wheat (and most grains). I've had success on a low-carb diet and was interested in the science behind the craze. This book was excellent! The author used heavy science, but made it accessible to the layman and included almost 16 pages of studies and report to back up his ideas. He also included examples from his own life and medical practice and was clear about what is and is not possible from giving up wheat.
The book is divided into chapters that each take one cause or molecule in wheat and explains what happens when you body ingests it or how it effect the common medical ailments of our time (heart disease, diabetes, celiac disease).
I found this book an excellent learning experience and I would recommend it to anyway who is struggling with weight or who has family members (or themselves) that deal with heart trouble or diabetes.
I admit I'm not completely sold on his theories, but I haven't heard anything better, and his logic is hard to refute.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-19-2011
Pages: 304

Review: Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge

Synopsis: What Wild at Heart did for men, Captivating is doing for women. Setting their hearts free. This groundbreaking book shows readers the glorious design of women before the fall, describes how the feminine heart can be restored, and casts a vision for the power, freedom, and beauty of a woman released to be all she was meant to be. (From the back of the book)

Review: First, let me say that I don't think this is a terrible book. I think, for some, it might speak truth into their lives and be the exact right message they need to hear. However, I did not like this book. Perhaps because this sort of fluff goes against my personality, perhaps because I was unable to connect with most of what the authors said, perhaps because I tend to be suspicious of works that make anyone believe they are the victim (Yes, you have bad things happen to you. They happen to everyone. It's called Sin - yours and others).

I felt there was WAY too much use of movie and book metaphors and a sparse sprinkling of Bible - and what Bible was used was often out of context or 2-3 words instead of the whole verse.

In the end, I was not impressed or impacted by this book - not as I thought I would be. To use a Pauline metaphor - too much milk, not enough meat. I would still recommend it for women seeking healing, but perhaps more for women who aren't yet sure of Christ, who need to be drawn in more. But for most Christian women, I would say stick with the solid Christian authors, or better yet, the Bible.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-16-2011
Pages: 256

Review: The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution: The Slow Motion Exercise That Will Change Your Body in 30 Minutes a Week by Fredrick Hahn et. al.

Synopsis: Hahn, along with husband-and-wife physicians Michael and Mary Eades, wrote this book as a companion to their book Protein Power. They postulate that a low-impact weighting lifting program down in a precise manor (slow) for about 30 minutes a week as all the exercise you need (Assuming you aren't a couch potato, of course). The book is divided into two parts: why and how. The why is mostly lite science and the how is clear, carefully instructions with pictures.

Review: I picked this up because 1) I don't have time to exercise 60mins a day, 7 days a week and 2) I have damaged knee joints and can't do most of the recommended cardio exercises. Also, having a good experience with low-carb/high-protein diets, I was willing to read with an open mind.
First, what I liked: Hahn writes clearly and concise, albeit with some repetition. He lays out why he believes in this method with conviction and logic. The instructions for the exercises are clear and have pictures. He lists helpful diet hints, menus and such in the back along with a bibliography. He mixes his prose well with scientific facts, examples and reason.
Second, what I don't like: It seems to good to be true.
Now, I haven't tried his method yet on my best source for analysis - myself. I plan too start soon and then we shall see. Until then, I remain skeptical.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-11-2011
Pages: 192

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Synopsis: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her. (From the Back of the Book)

Review: I purchased this book after reading the first chapter. It was so well down and so intriguing, I had to have it. Sadly, it went quickly down hill after that. Not that it was bad, it was just...not great. The characters were well-done and complex - almost. The story was exiting and well-told - almost. The book was a page-turner, keep you up at night story - almost.

The author stated she wanted to write story were X-Men meets the League of Extraordinary Gentleman. She did that, and it's not bad. I don't feel reading this was a waste of time. But given how gripping the first chapter was, I wish she had been able to carry that through the entire novel. Now, I will confess that I intend to buy and read the second in this series. I am willing to give Cross the chance to improve and to see where this story goes. Plus, I rather like the Finley Jayne.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-8-2011
Pages: 480

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aquisitions: Assorted

Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales pub. by Forlagid

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

The Writing Life by Anne Dillard

For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

Getting Near to Baby by Audry Couloumbis

The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas

The Slow Burn Revolution by Fredrick Hahn, et. al.

Wheat Belly by William Davis

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: The Wish Giver - A Coven Tree Adventure by Bill Britian

Synopsis: When a strange little man comes to the Coven Tree Church Social promising he can give people exactly what they ask for, three young believers-in-magic each make a wish that comes true in the most unexpected way. (From the Back of the book)

Review: I enjoyed this book. A strange man sets up a booth at a city fair and offers One Wish for 50 cents. Four people take his offer and the book tells each story in turn. The wishes, as expected, come true in ways not intended and the wishers learn something about themselves and life. The book is full of humor and good sense and wisdom, but never gets preachy or dry. This would be an excellent book to read aloud to children (the Jug-a-Rum section in particular) and might open some interesting discussions.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor, 1984

Date Finished: 8-29-2011
Pages: 192

Review: Stories and Toasts for After Dinner by Nathaniel C. Fowler, Jr.

Synopsis: This is a how-to book on being the toastmaster as a formal function. It includes instructions on duties, proper ways to handle social gaffs, the order of things and an extensive collection of stories and toasts that may be adaptable to any situation.

Review: I read this mostly for the historical hilarity. Written in the early 1920s, it offers a remarkable glimpse into the social formalities of the large society meeting and party. I found some of his comments about women to be...interesting, if a bit dimwitted, but given the time, one can't expect too much. I recommend this book as a funny little read, although it was a dry and tedious in places and the toast and stories were a bit maudlin and sappy for my taste.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-27-2011
Pages: 228

Review: Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Synopsis: It isn′t easy being a pioneer in the state of Washington in 1899, but it′s particularly hard when you are the only girl ever born in the new settlement. With seven older brothers and a love of adventure, May Amelia Jackson just can′t seem to abide her family′s insistence that she behave like a Proper Young Lady. She′s sure she could do better if only there were at least one other girl living along the banks of the Nasel River. And now that Mama′s going to have a baby, maybe there′s hope. (From the back of the book)

Review: This book was inspired the journals of the author's great-aunt and the authenticity shows. This book centers on May Amelia, the only daughter of Finnish immigrants who settled near Astoria, Oregon around the turn of the century. The life they live is depicted in sharp, poignant, hilarious, heartbreaking detail and I was caught in the adventure. My only complaint about the book was the slow beginning but the middle sucked by breath away and I was gripped by May Amelia's journey into maturity. I recommend this as an excellent read, in particular for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and those studying American immigration and westward expansion.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor, 2000

Date Finished: 8-27-2011
Pages: 272

Review: Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger

Synopsis: This is a collection of nine short stories. They are as follows:
A Perfect Day for Bananafish; Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut; Just Before the War with the Eskimos; The Laughing Man; Down at the Dinghy; For Esme -- With Love and Squalor; Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes; De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period; Teddy.

Review: I admit I'm not sure what to make of this collection. Salinger is most famous for his book Catcher in the Rye (which I did not enjoy). These stories have a similar flavor - odd, filled with bent and mis-shaped humans, strange things happening in normal spaces and things that I don't understand. I can identify his work as genius - but I don't get it. I've spoken of this occurrence before, when I read Welty and Hemingway - I think I shall call this the Welty Syndrome, after my first experience with it.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-26-2011
Pages: 320

Review: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel

Synopsis: During the great ages of exploration, "the longitude problem" was the gravest of all scientific challenges. Lacking the ability to determine their longitude, sailors were literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Ships ran aground on rocky shores; those traveling well-known routes were easy prey to pirates.

In 1714, England's Parliament offered a huge reward to anyone whose method of measuring longitude could be proven successful. The scientific establishment--from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton--had mapped the heavens in its certainty of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had been able to do on land. And the race was on....

Review: This is precisely the sort of history book I enjoy. Short, crisp, lively - filled with interesting, concise points about an obscure subject. Sobel took what had potential to be dry dull subject and injected it with life and sparkle. Harrison was a fascinating genius and I found the author's handling of him as a person and a historical figure. I recommend this work if you are interesting in maritime history, scientific history or just general world history. It's a delightful book!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-24-2011
Pages: 192

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Exploring America's Historical Places

Synopsis: From Colonial Villages to the pueblos of the Southwest, from Civil War and mountain-man encampments to the great estates of the Gilded Age, this book takes you on an odyssey through time and across the continent, revisiting the great places, moments, and people that have made the nation's history. You'll read about the class of cultures that occurred between Native Americans and early European settles, about the vicious winters and starving times endured at places like Jamestown and Plymouth. The men who fought at Yorktown and Manassas, the families who plodded west on the Oregon Trail or arrived in the immigrant waves that washed across Ellis Island - all believed in something called America. Their dreams, and their histories, are still compelling. (from the back of the book)

Review: Like all books by National Geographic, this contains stunning photos and drawings of the events described. This is a excellent, albeit shallow, over view of American history anchored in the most prominent historical places. I would recommend this as an interesting alternative to the dry dull history book, as it sparked my own interest in several different events and seasons of American History.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-22-2011
Pages: 199

Review: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Holiness by Stuart and Jill Briscoe

Synopsis: If you think about life in the same way Stuart Briscoe did when he was very young - and most of us, if we are perfectly honest, do - Being Happy will rate first, Being Healthy second, and Being Holy will rate a poor third. So, must you give up any hope of happiness if you decide to give yourself wholeheartedly to God?
In this engaging book by Stuart and Jill Briscoe, you will discover that there is no conflict with being thoroughly happy truly healthy and practically holy, And you will also learn what God i asking of you when He says, "Be holy, because I am holy." (From the back of the book)

Review: I picked up this book at a book sale on a whim. The title was interesting - the tagline under the title reading " In a culture where personal rights are considered sacred can we find satisfaction as "Living Sacrifices" to God?".
The book itself was theologically sound, as far as I could tell, and Briscoe made some good points about how holiness is connect to happiness. But I found his writing dull, even with the inclusion of stories, and his points lack any real punch.
In the end, this is a sound book but not as hard-hitting as I prefer. I think, however, that this book would mean something to someone and therefore, I wouldn't discount it. It just wasn't for me.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-22-2011
Pages: 191

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Inside the White House: American's Most Famous Home by Betty Boyd Caroli

Synopsis: This special volume invites you to come inside America's most famous home - to see and learn more about the fascinating, multifaceted aspects of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, both past and present. (From the Back of the Book)

Review: This is an interesting volume. Short bits of written history are interspersed with photographs and drawings of events and portraits of the Presidents. There is even a few spacial maps of the interior of the house. In all, this is a well done volume regarding the White House and it's history. It's a good introduction to the story of the one of the most famous house in the world.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-21-2011
Pages: 224

Review: Exploring the Great Rivers of North America by National Geographic

Synopsis: This book travels through the major rivers of North America, starting with those in New England the East, traveling to the Midwest and Southwest, then up to the Northwest and Alaska. Each geographic section includes a short article on the region as a whole, and then a two-four page article on each river, documenting the culture, history, exploration, industry and environment of the river. Spaced throughout are the glorious pictures usually found in book by National Geographic

Review: I enjoyed this book. First, the pictures were stunning. Not only were their the usual brilliant current photos, but also included where some older photos that supplement the history written about each river. Second, the history was fascinating. It was a pleasing blend of fact and travel memoirs, tales of adventures and tragedies and bits of culture and sociology. I added at least four places to my list of Places-I-Must-Visit due to the writing alone. In conclusion, I recommend this book to any who enjoy traveling, who are teaching kids about ecology and industry and who wish to get ideas about fascinating places to visit.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-21-2011
Pages: 197

Review: Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Synopsis: This is the tale as you've never seen it before. After using her hair to free herself from her prison tower, this Rapunzel ignores the pompous prince and teams up with Jack (of Beanstalk fame) in an attempt to free her birth mother and an entire kingdom from the evil witch who once moonlighted as her mother. Dogged by both the witch's henchman and Jack's outlaw past, the heroes travel across the map as they right wrongs, help the oppressed, and generally try to stay alive. Rapunzel is no damsel in distress–she wields her long braids as both rope and weapon–but she happily accepts Jack's teamwork and friendship. While the witch's castle is straight out of a fairy tale, the nearby mining camps and rugged surrounding countryside are a throwback to the Wild West and make sense in the world that the authors and illustrator have crafted. The dialogue is witty, the story is an enticing departure from the original, and the illustrations are magically fun and expressive. Knowing that there are more graphic novels to come from this writing team brings readers their own happily-ever-after (from the back of the book)

Review: I enjoy fairy tales and fairy tales- return. This is one of the most entertaining I've read. Not only is the form interesting - it's a graphic novel - but the idea of setting Rapunzel in a Wild-West-meets-Magic-Land setting is just delightful. I enjoyed watching Rapunzel meet the trouble and challenges head-on and how she transformed those around her. The graphic novel format add a wonderful element to the story, and I like the style. In all, this was a unique retelling and I can see why it received the good reviews.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Numerous (See here for a list)

Date Finished: 8-21-2011
Pages: 144

Review: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Synopsis: This is the tragic story of a Cuban fisherman in the Gulf Stream and the giant Marlin he kills and loses.

Review: Hemingway is considered a genius in the literary world, as a tragic, self-destructive literary giant. I picked up several of his books, thinking I would try him and certain I would not enjoy his work. I was correct. As I venture into the Noble and Pulitzer books, I'm finding a disturbing trend: while I can identify these works as "great" I don't enjoy them and feel they are a bit pompous, high-brow, lauded without being understood and generally made a big deal over with actually being good (Think Eudora Wetly). I'm not saying that Hemingway is all hype - I'm just saying that his work doesn't suite me at all.

Bookmarks: 6 0f 10

Awards: None (Mentioned by name in the awarding of Hemingway's Noble Prize for Literature)

Date Finished: 8-21-11
Pages: 126

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams

Synopsis: The Bus Driver leaves and says to make sure no one drives the Bus. But Pigeon wants to SO bad and sets about to convince you that he really should.

Review: This is an adorable picture book, humorous for adults and delightful for kids. The Pigeon is rather sneaking, and tries several different argument to convince the reader that he should drive the bus. The arguments will be familiar to parents as every child has employed the same methods. It would be a good teaching book for a child dealing with tantrums.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book

Date Finished: 8-18-2011
Pages: 23

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Synopsis: It is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s. The novel is told from the point of view of three narrators: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children, and who has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose back-talk towards her employers results in her having to frequently change jobs, exacerbating her desperate need for work as well as her family's struggle with money; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman and recent college graduate who, after moving back home, discovers that a maid that helped raise her since childhood has abruptly disappeared and her attempts to find her have come to naught. (From the Back of the Book)

Review: In my opinion, what makes a good book is one that lingers in your heart and mind after the last page is read. The Help is a good book. Even after I finished the story, I found bits and pieces floating in my brain, lingering, teasing, there to mull over and examine and think about.
I also think a good book tells us something about ourselves or a truth about the world that we haven't seen before. The Help is a good book. It's examination of Jackson, Mississippi during the early 60s is well done. Stockett does try to shock or sensationalize race-relations - but tells the story from a personal viewpoint of those there, weaving humor, love, strength and quiet into the story of violence and injustice.
Many times, books become best sellers and I roll my eyes after reading them, knowing their best-seller status is worthless because it won't teach anyone anything. I do not feel that way about this book. I can hope that some, albeit a small few, might re-examine their hearts after reading this.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-17-2011
Pages: 464

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: A Fine White Dust by Cynthia Rylant

Synopsis: When Pete first set eyes on the Man, he's convinced he's an axe murderer. But at the revival meeting, Pete discovers the Man is actually a savior of souls, and Pete has been waiting all his life to be saved.

It's not something Pete's parents can understand. Certainly his best friend, Rufus, an avowed atheist, doesn't understand. But Pete knows he can't imagine life without the Man. So when the Man invited Pete to join him on his mission, how can Pete say no - even if it means leaving behind everything he's ever loved?

Review: I didn't know what to expect when I read this book - certainly not as much about a young boy's journey to God as I found. It was an interesting look at how someone with a deep desire for God lives with people he loves, but who do not share the same desire. Pete has to navigate that, learn forgiveness, learn acceptance and learn the dark night of the soul. In all, I recommend this book to any Christian, mostly because I'm interested in what they would say about the view of God put forth in this work.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor, 1987

Date Finished: 8-16-2011
Pages: 106

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Girls to the Rescue ed. by Bruce Lansky

Synopsis: In most fairy tales the helpless girl waits around for a prince to rescue her. But the spunky girls in these entertaining and inspiring stories are much too busy saving the day to wait around for Prince Charming (from the back of the book)

Review: It's not secret that I adore fairy tales, in particular retellings. This book features stories written or collected by Lansky for his own daughter, because he wanted strong stories to tell her. It is a simple collection, maybe a 1-2 grade reading level. I was pleased to see two stories by Vivian Vande Velde, who own anthology of Rumpelstiltskin tales I read several years ago and very much enjoyed. Many of these are rewritten from popular folk tales from around the world and I enjoyed the inclusion of more then just the standard European prose. In all, I would recommend this as a good addition to a little girl's library.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-15-2011
Pages: 105

Review: Veronica Franco - Poems and Selected Letters ed. by Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal

Synopsis: Veronica Franco (whose life is featured in the motion picture Dangerous Beauty) was a sixteenth-century Venetian beauty, poet, and protofeminist. This collection captures the frank eroticism and impressive eloquence that set her apart from the chaste, silent woman prescribed by Renaissance gender ideology.

As an "honored courtesan", Franco made her living by arranging to have sexual relations, for a high fee, with the elite of Venice and the many travelers—merchants, ambassadors, even kings—who passed through the city. Courtesans needed to be beautiful, sophisticated in their dress and manners, and elegant, cultivated conversationalists. Exempt from many of the social and educational restrictions placed on women of the Venetian patrician class, Franco used her position to recast "virtue" as "intellectual integrity," offering wit and refinement in return for patronage and a place in public life.

Franco became a writer by allying herself with distinguished men at the center of her city's culture, particularly in the informal meetings of a literary salon at the home of Domenico Venier, the oldest member of a noble family and a former Venetian senator. Through Venier's protection and her own determination, Franco published work in which she defended her fellow courtesans, speaking out against their mistreatment by men and criticizing the subordination of women in general. Venier also provided literary counsel when she responded to insulting attacks written by the male Venetian poet Maffio Venier.

Franco's insight into the power conflicts between men and women and her awareness of the threat she posed to her male contemporaries make her life and work pertinent today. (From the Back of the Book)

Review: Dangerous Beauty is a favorite movie; it is loosely based on Franco's life and legend. Wanting to know more about her, I picked up this book several years ago. Her writing is witty, deep, lyrical, vibrant and strong. I enjoyed her poems and her letters. She was a feminist and a champion for women's rights, in particular prostitues, and was outspoken about the injustices done to them. I am eager to read more about her and her work.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-15-2011
Pages: 299

Review: Who Stole My Church: What to Do When the Church YOu Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century by Gordon MacDonald

Synopsis: Millions of people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies feel their churches have been hijacked by church-growth movements characterized by loud praise bands, constant PowerPoint presentations, and cavernous megachurches devoid of any personal touch. They are bewildered by the changes, and are dropping out after thirty, forty, or fifty years in a congregation. It's a crisis!

In this fictional story, pastor and author Gordon MacDonald uses topical examples and all-too-familiar characters to reassure readers that it is possible to embrace change, and to demonstrate how that change can actually be a positive influence in their church. The church, he says, has always been in a state of change; it has been changing for the last two thousand years. It is time to embrace that change and use it further the Kingdom of God (From the Back of the Book)

Review: This is not the sort of book I would normally pick up, but it was chosen by my pastor for the church book club. I enjoyed it immensley.
First, the format is story form, which makes it seem less preachy, and gives the reader real people to connect with instead of just reading someone thoughts.
Second, the subject is a sensative one, and yet handled well. Frustrations, the evil thoughts, the selfish - are all address without judgement or condemnation, but in a why that helps you resolve those feelings and move forward.
Third, the things taught are passed in scripture and back by examples from church history and the life of the saints.
I recommend this book, not only for those who are struggling, but the younger generations as well. We owe it to those who came before to honor their work and respect their feelings.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-14-2011
Pages: 248

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: The Great Liners by Melvin Maddocks

Synopsis: This is a brief history of the great passenger liners that crossed the Atlantic in the early part of the 20th Century. Starting with the first trans-Atlantic crossing by a steamship and ending with the ships during WWII (The book was published in 1978) - it covers the great ships, the tragedies, the money and science and opulence. It contains numerous color and black-and-white photos.

Review: Having gone on my first cruise this year, I have developed an interest in cruise ships. When I saw this, I was immediately interested. I enjoyed it immensely. The pictures were amazing, the stories well written and accessible and I thought the flow and information were excellent. My only sorrow is that since I purchased this at a library cast-off book sale, the book had several stamps in it and it's missing the first 10 pages - which I believe contained pictures of the advertising posters used to draw people to the ships. This is disappointing. Still, the book was enjoyable and I recommend to anyone interested in this subject.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-13-2011
Pages: 175

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Wild Girl and Gran by Nan Gregory

Synopsis: In British Columbia, a girl and her loving grandmother share time together. Wild Girl plays in a giant oak tree, imagining she is a pirate or a cowboy, encouraged by Gran, who sits knitting below. Then, the old woman disappears into the hospital. This abrupt transition, marked with the images of a gnarled hand and a medicine spoon, is followed by visuals of the oak tree in the autumn and winter. The child describes her feelings of anger and frustration, and her shock at finally seeing Gran in the hospital, where she dies. In the spring, when the girl sees "the oak grove greening," she is ready to spread her grandmother's ashes, grieve, and invite her mother to see her in the tree. (From the Book)

This is a lyrical, bittersweet book about dealing with the death of a grandparent. The paintings were gorgeous, the words wove and swept, and were sweet and deep. I enjoyed this work, even though it brougth back the hurt of the loss of my own grandmother.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-13-2011
Pages: 25

Aquisition: FoL Book Sale

I went to the booksale at the local library. My dear husband gave me a 20-dollar bill and said have fun.

Usually, the price is 50 cents a paperback and $1 per hardback, so I anticipated bringing home around 10-15 books. But, they were doing something new - handing each person a small plastic grocery bag and inviting them to fill it up - for $3.


My Tally: 82 Books for $20
6 Bags at $3 a Bag
2 Books from the Special Price at $1 a Book

The special books were out-of-print items, both of which I wanted. Part of the 82 were some books from my husband, and I have listed them at the end.

Normally, I would make a video for this, but with almost 70 books, it would be a loooonnnnggg video. So instead, I leave you to drool over my loot.

The Special Books:

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggins (First Edition)

Chronicles of Fairacre: An Omnibus by Miss Read

In the Bags:

Narratives of Hernado de Soto in the Conquest of Florida trans. by Buckingham Smith
Volume I and Volume II (1904)

Paradiso by Dante Alighieri

The Return of the Native by Thomas Harding

Stories and Toasts for After Dinner by Nathaniel C. Fowler, Jr. (1914)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou

Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

More Stories to Remember ed. by Thomas B. Costain and John Beecroft (Volume I)

Black Voyage: Eyewitness Accounts of the Atlantic Slave Trade ed. by Thomas Howard

How We Do It: How the Science of Sex Can Make You a Better Lover by Judy Dutton

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

George MacDonald: The Best from All His Works ed. by Charles Erlandson

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano

Roman Medicine by John Scarborough (Aspects of Greek and Roman Life)

Ancient Peoples and Places: Writing by David Diringer

American Through British Eyes ed by Allan Nevins

Walking Through the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feiler

The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton

The Humanity of God by Karl Barth

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the World's Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel

How to Survive on Land and Sea by Craighead et al (Fourth Edition)

Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party by George R. Stewart

Wild Girl and Gran by Nan Gregory

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

The Witching Hour by Stephen Krensky

The Dragon Circle by Stephen Krensky

Girls to the Rescue ed. by Bruce Lansky

The Rainbow People by Laurence Yep

Glennis, Before and After by Patricia Calvert

More Perfect than the Moon by Patricia MacLachlan

Ranger's Apprentice: The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagnan (Book 5)

Once Upon a Curse by E. D. Baker

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan

Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady

Willa Cather Living: A Personal Record by Edith Lewis

A Useful Woman: The Eary Life of Jane Addams by Gioia Diliberto

Jules Verne: A Biography by Jean Jules-Verne

Lucretia Mott by Otelia Cromwell

Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen by Jane Aiken Hodge

The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon (Vatta's War, Book 3)

Command Decision by Elizabeth Moon (Vatta's War, Book 4)

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Echoes of Time by Andre Norton and Sherwood Smith

The Nine Princes of Amber / The Gun of Avalon by Roger Zelazny (The Chronicles of Amber, Volume I)

Measles and the Wrathmonk by Ian Ogilvy

Eon by Greg Bear

Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King

Exploring Amerca's Historic Place by National Geographic Society

The Southwest: Gold, God and Grandeur by National Geographic Society

Exploring the Great Rivers of North America by National Geographic Society

Through Irish Eyes: A Visual Companion to Angela McCourt's Ireland ed. by Malachy McCourt

The Great Liners by Melvin Maddocks

Ships Through History by Ralph T. Ward

Inside the White House by Betty Boyd Caroli

Disney's Celebration: The Story of a Town by Michael Lassell

Ships: A History by Enzo Angelucci and Attilio Cucari


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Essays of E. B. White

Book 1 - 14 of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: N or M? by Agatha Christie

Synopsis: Five cryptic words on the lips of a dying man...This was the only clue that a sleepy sea-side boarding house was the source of the most devilish and monstrous operations of all time. An ingenious story intrigue, murder and detection by the world's foremost author of mystery and suspense. (from the back of the book)

Review: Generally, I enjoy Agatha Christie. This one lacked something, however. I'm not sure if it was the shallowness of the characters, the overbearing Nazi-hatred, the relentless English patriotism or the lusterless prose - but it felt bland and stagnant. The usual twists and turns in the plot were there, but it couldn't pull the prose out of it's blandness.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-6-2011
Pages: 191

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Synopsis: Lucky is mostly happy in Hard Pan, California (population 43), with her guardian, Brigitte, and her beloved dog, HMS Beagle. But Lucky knows that the difference between a guardian and an actual mom is that a mom can't resign. So when she becomes convinced Brigitte is planning to return to France, what can Lucky do except run away from home, with HMS Beagle and the world's heaviest survival-kit backpack in tow?
But she hadn't counted on a dust storm, or a troublesome five-year-old turning up, minus one shoe, with a cholla burr stuck into his heel. And she hadn't counted on discovering the many different ways of defining "family." (from the back of the book)

Review: This is an exceptional book. Lucky is quirky, deep and facing hard and uncertain things with a mix of realism and dreams. I like discovering Hard Pan through her eyes. I like how the story wove around her discovery her "higher power" and what that means. The author uses interesting descriptions and phrases to describe Lucky's emotions and I found myself nodding in understanding more then once, saying "yes, that's is just how that feels."
In the end, I highly recommend this book.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: Newberry Medal, 2007

Date Finished: 8-4-2011
Pages: 134

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

Synopsis: A shout comes echoing up the stairway: "Fetch the whipping boy." Since it is forbidden to spank, thrash or whack the heir to the throne, a young orphan named Jemmy has been plucked from the streets to serve as the whipping boy to the arrogant and spiteful Prince Brat. Jemmy has had enough and plans to run away, but Prince Brat beats him to it! He insists that Jemmy come with him, but the two inadvertently change places when they encounter a pair of dangerous outlaws. Can Jemmy and Prince Brat put aside their differences and work together to escape the clutches of Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater? And can they become friends in the process? (from the back of the book)
Review: I first heared this story as movie made by Disney. It's a quick, interesting read and has a surprising amount of depth of a short work. I like the lessons learned by Jemmy and the Prince. It's a good book and I enjoyed it.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Medal Winner, 1987

Date Finished: 8-3-2011
Pages: 90

Review: The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: This is an eight book series, each following one of the eight Bridgerton siblings. They are set during 1813 to about 1830 against the backdrop of high society in Regency England. I chose to review all eight books together because I don't have enough to say about each to fill eight blogs. For a detailed synopsis of each book, click on the links below.

Review: I enjoy Julia Quinn for her less-fluffy treatment of romance, her humor and mostly her dialogue. These books were good, but I felt they were all over the place as far as quality. The first two (The Duke and I and The Viscount Who Love Me) were excellent. I enjoyed the story, the characters were believable and the romance sweet. The sex was tame and saved until after both couples were married. The third was okay, but I never managed to get into the characters. And fourth was my favorite, as I adored the heroine (she was in all of the previous books) and the romance was the most natural of the eight.
I did not enjoy the next three, in particular When He Was Wicked. The sex was graphic, extensive and gross. I would not recommend this one to anyone with a prudish nature like myself. As for the other two, my complaints are similar, although the heroine in It's In His Kiss makes an appearance in the other books (as she is the youngest sibling) and I think she is my second favorite.
As for the last, I enjoyed the reappearance of several of my favorite characters and the story was well-done, if a tad dramatic. The sex, thankfully, wasn't as graphic, but I skipped that part so I can't say with much certainty.
As a whole, I enjoyed the series. But I would caution against reading them if you are prudish (like me) or do what I do and skip the sex scenes. Overall, I give this series a 7 of 10.

The Duke and I: 7 of 10
The Viscount Who Loved Me: 7 of 10
An Offer From a Gentleman: 6 of 10
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton: 7 of 10
To Sir Phillip, With Love: 6 of 10
When He Was Wicked: 5 of 10
It's In His Kiss: 6 of 10
On the Way to the Wedding: 6 of 10


On the Way to the Wedding - RITA 2007

Date Started: 7-27-2011
Date Finished: 8-2-2011