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