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