Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maisie Dobbs Read-Along



I'm going to participate in the Maisie Dobbs Read-Along hosted by Book Club Girl.  I haven't read any of the books yet, but they sound great. I just purchased the first book for my kindle and can't wait to get started.  You can find out more about the read-along here. This should be so much fun.

The World According to Monsanto

The World According to MonsantoThe World According to Monsanto by Marie-Monique Robin
borrowed from library
Summary from Goodreads:
The result of a remarkable three-year-long investigation that took award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin across four continents (North and South America, Europe, and Asia), The World According to Monsanto tells the little-known yet shocking story of this agribusiness giant--the world's leading producer of GMOs (genetically modified organisms)--and how its new "green" face is no less malign than its PCB- and Agent Orange-soaked past.


Robin reports that, following its long history of manufacturing hazardous chemicals and lethal herbicides, Monsanto is now marketing itself as a "life sciences" company, seemingly convinced about the virtues of sustainable development. However, Monsanto now controls the majority of the yield of the world's genetically modified corn and soy--ingredients found in more than 95 percent of American households--and its alarming legal and political tactics to maintain this monopoly are the subject of worldwide concern.

Released to great acclaim and controversy in France, throughout Europe, and in Latin America alongside the documentary film of the same name, The World According to Monsanto is sure to change the way we think about food safety and the corporate control of our food supply.

My take:
This book is extrememly important and upsetting to read.  It is time that we start thinking more about the future of our children and the planet than about short-term profits or gaining control of the food supply in order to improve those profits at the expense of farmers and consumers. Corporations are not more important than people and our society needs to change its priorities. 

This book is hard for me to review because there are so many issues addressed in the book that I find important. The book seems to be well researched and includes extensive notes. I would highly recommend it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark (Carolrhoda Ya)Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten: the day the Nazis came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.

My take:
I didn’t really know what to expect when I started this book. First of all, I have to say that after finishing the book, I really liked it and plan to suggest it for my son to read. The first section, entitled “November1, Late Morning Winter, Wisconsin left me wondering what I was about to read. I think the biggest – and really, only – issue I had with the book was the beginning and ending sections. I had a bit of a problem reconciling them with the rest of the story.


I was quickly drawn into this story of teenage Christian, the quiet artist who has an unusual gift or curse -– he can draw people’s deepest, darkest fears. Even he isn’t sure exactly how it works or why. This is his dark secret; and it starts causing him more trouble than usual. He’s had some bad things happen in relation to this talent, but nothing compared to what is about to happen. Christian starts sleep walking and sleep painting while having extremely vivid dreams about events that he knows nothing about and that seem to take place in his hometown but in the past. Then he starts slipping into the past while he is awake. What is happening to him? Why? And maybe the more important question is – how? Christian questions his own sanity and others begin to question it as well.

Thus begins a wonderful, frightening, unusual quest to answer many questions – most of which Christian and most of the townspeople had no idea needed to be answered.

I really enjoyed this story for a variety of reasons. This book takes place in Wisconsin and deals with the WWII prisoners of war that were housed here and in other states throughout the United States after the war. During a family trip to Door County we learned about this historical event when I asked about the unusual building that housed the storefront for a family-owned orchard/farm. The building had been used as barracks for prisoners and had been moved to its current spot and cleaned up for use. I thought that the book deals with possible issues that might come up in the situation of this nature. This is a little known historical event that is just so fascinating. How did the people react when prisoners were moved into their town? What about those of German descent? Fascinating and important questions are examined within the context of the story.

The book encompasses several genres – young adult fiction, mystery, supernatural, horror, and suspense. This book was almost impossible to put down. The mystery is compelling and the supernatural aspects just made it all the more urgent to get to the end of the book and find out what happened. I think it is quite possible that there is a second book planned because the ending definitely leaves this option open. I would recommend this book and I would read a second book if it were published.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



This week's pre-publication "can't wait to read" selection is:













Deadline by Mira Grant
(Newsflesh Book 2)
Publication date June 1, 2011 by Orbit
from Goodreads:

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.


But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.


This is the follow up to Mira Grant's amazing FEED. I am anxiously waiting for this one. The cover was just announced by the author and I couldn't wait to add it to my WoW post.  I love this cover and I can't wait for the book to be released.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ghost Light

Ghost Light: A NovelGhost Light by Joseph O'Connor
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Summary from Goodreads:
Dublin 1907, a city of whispered rumours. An actress still in her teens begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Rebellious, irreverent, beautiful, flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a girl of the inner city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. Witty and watchful, she has dozens of admirers. But in the backstage of her life, there is a secret. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled, reticent genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by Edwardian conventions and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of immense loneliness and severity he has long been ill , but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, often tender. Many years later, an old woman makes her way across London on a morning after it has been struck by a hurricane. Christmas is coming. As she wanders past bombsites and through the forlorn beauty of wrecked terraces and wintry parks, a snowdrift of memories and lost desires seems to swirl. She has twice been married: once widowed, once divorced, but an unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat as her dazzling career has faded. A story of love's commitment, of partings and reconciliations, of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms, "Ghost Light" is a profoundly moving and finally uplifting novel from the award-winning author of "Star of the Sea" and "Redemption Falls". Full of exhilarating language and unforgettable characters, it is a homage to the act of storytelling itself.

My Take:
I really enjoyed this story about Molly Allgood, an Irish actress also known as Maire O'Neill. This is a fictionalized story about her life and her relationship with playwright John Synge.  At the beginning I had a bit of trouble determining what was going on because some of the chapters don't give the year, just the day or time.  But after awhile, I got into the flow of the story and could anticipate and/or easily determine which time period was being written about.  The story flows back and forth between London in 1952 where Molly is an old woman living alone in poverty with a reputation in the neighborhood as a drunk.  This is a heartbreaking picture of the fate of the vibrant, pretty, Irish girl who wants to be an actress. At first I was annoyed by the way the story switched back and forth, but then, I decided that it was symbolic of her aging mind and how her memories were still vibrant and her present reality wasn't as pleasant as her past.  Also, I thought it was illustrative of how older minds don't seem to differentiate as much between past and present.

This is a pretty sad story, in my opinion.  Molly had plans and ambitions and was supposed to marry Synge. But due to their family's disapproval and various other hindrances, they were not able to marry before he died.  Molly did become somewhat famous in her time, but her life never seemed to live up to her ambitions.  She looks back on her life and her decisions and has to come to terms with what has happened. As with most Irish literature I've read so far, there really isn't a happy ending. However, I did enjoy the story. It is very well written and once I let myself engage with the story, it was hard to put the book down. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
borrowed from library
Summary from Goodreads:
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

My take:
I was finally able to get this book from my local library - after being on the waiting list for what seemed like forever.  I read the book in one day as has been typical for each of The Hunger Games books. This book held my attention from the first. I was totally pulled into the pain and darkness that has become Katniss' life. I was still reeling from the way Catching Fire ended and wasn't really prepared for the turns that came fast and furious in Mockingjay. I am so pleased that Suzanne Collins can keep me guessing and turning pages right up until the last page.

In this installment, Katniss is pretty broken from everything that happened in the last games. She is tormented by the lost lives and that Peeta is being held by the Capitol. She feels that everything is her fault. As the rebellion grows, we learn even more about what has been done to the victors from past games and how the Capitol controls people. I was pleasantly surprised that the rebellion is not painted as being strictly "the good guys" -- they have done and will do things that are at the very least, questionable if not downright abhorrent.  There are agendas on all sides.  Hard lessons are learned and loyalties are tested. I felt the pain and while I didn't enjoy reading about it, I believed it. This story was believable to me from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this series.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snow Crash

Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book)Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
purchased
Summary from Goodreads:
Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison--a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age. In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about Infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous...you'll recognize it immediately.

My take:
I just re-read this book for the first time in a very long while.  I loved it with a passion the first time I read it when it first came out. I had read Stephenson's Zodiac and had been keeping an eye out for his next book. Snow Crash was exactly what I was looking for while waiting for the next William Gibson book to be released.  For me, reading this book again was like a reunion with long lost friends.  I mean, how can you not love a book hero/protagonist named Hiro Protagonist?? And he's the best sword fighter in the world -- in the metaverse, anyway. In this vision of the future, the only pizza delivery company is owned and run by the Mafia -- CosaNostra Pizza, Inc. --- and all pizzas are delivered in under thirty minutes or else. This book is just so much fun, but at the same time there is so much to think about.  The state of the world where many people can't afford to live in actual houses, but live in storage units, corporations own and run burbclaves, where the wealthy families live, the mob is just another corporation. Many of these ideas have been around in science fiction for awhile, but I really enjoyed Stephenson's vision here. I was especially intrigued with the idea of hacking the brain and the Sumerian history/mythology was fun too.  Hiro and Y.T., the fifteen year old Kourier and his sometime business partner have great sarcastic voices with lots of social commentary.

I thought this book stood up to re-reading and would definitely suggest it to friends - especially as a follow up to Gibson and other cyberpunk type books.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foster













Foster by Claire Keegan
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Synopsis from the publisher:
A small girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm in rural Ireland, without knowing when she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And then a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realizes how fragile her idyll is.


Winner of the Davy Byrnes Memorial Prize, Foster is now published in a revised and expanded version. Beautiful, sad and eerie, it is a story of astonishing emotional depth, showcasing Claire Keegan’s great accomplishment and talent.

My Take:
This was a very short book - a story, really.  I started reading it just because  it was the shortest book in my Kennys parcel. I was hooked from the first page. This is a simple story told from the little girl's point of view. Don't be fooled by the simple style and the brevity of the story. This is such a moving story. The girl has a stressful, chaotic life before she goes to live with the foster parents. The difference this couple make in her life is amazing. And in such simple, down to earth ways. This is a touching and memorable story.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Fall

The Fall: Book Two of the Strain TrilogyThe Fall by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
purchased
Summary from Goodreads:
From the authors of the instant New York Times bestseller The Strain comes the next volume in one of the most imaginative and frightening thriller series in many, many years.  Last week they invaded Manhattan. This week they will destroy the world.

The vampiric virus unleashed in The Strain has taken over New York City. It is spreading and soon will envelop the globe. Amid the chaos, Eph Goodweather—head of the Centers for Disease Control's team—leads a band out to stop these bloodthirsty monsters. But it may be too late.

Ignited by the Master's horrific plan, a war erupts between Old and New World vampires, each vying for control. At the center of the conflict lies a book, an ancient text that contains the vampires' entire history . . . and their darkest secrets. Whoever finds the book can control the outcome of the war and, ultimately, the fate of us all. And it is between these warring forces that humans—powerless and vulnerable—find themselves no longer the consumers but the consumed. Though Eph understands the vampiric plague better than anyone, even he cannot protect those he loves. His ex-wife, Kelly, has been transformed into a bloodcrazed creature of the night, and now she stalks the city looking for her chance to reclaim her Dear One: Zack, Eph's young son.

With the future of humankind in the balance, Eph and his team, guided by the brilliant former professor and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and exterminator Vasiliy Fet and joined by a crew of ragtag gangsters, must combat a terror whose ultimate plan is more terrible than anyone has imagined—a fate worse than annihilation.

My take:
I think I liked The Fall as much as I liked The Strain.  This, the second book in the trilogy, goes into more of the history behind the strange happenings of The Strain. I could slow down to read and enjoy the back story presented in The Fall whereas the pace of The Strain seemed just frenetic to me.  We find out how Setrakian first encountered the Master and what happened to his wife and just exactly why he goes to such extremes to be prepared.  But then, naturally, towards the end, the pace picks up and leads to the ending which has me anxious to see how it all ends.

The vampires in these books are nothing like many of the vampires I've been reading about lately. I wouldn't say that they are "better", but they are most definitely creepier and dangerous and very worrisome. This is a dark book with little hope for the future of humankind.  There is this thing that the vampires do -- going back for their "Dear Ones" - family members, those they were closest to in life - because of a need to bring them into the new group. And, in this book the vampires are the victims of a parasite - so they are no longer really themselves, but controlled by the parasite from inside. The description of this parasite is very gross, but actually seems to be based on something that exists in nature - making it even creepier.

The struggle between the Master and The Ancients is interesting and I hope there will be more history about them in the third book.  I really enjoyed the storyline with Angel, the Mexican wrestler turned movie-star and the local gang members who are new and interesting characters and kept the action and tension going in this book.

This is not a feel good type of book, but it you are in the mood for a creepy, dark tale in time for Halloween, you might give it a try -- after reading The Strain, of course.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book, The Night Eternal. The title doesn't sound very optimistic.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This is my first IMM post - and it may be the only one for six months or so. I got my parcel from Kennys Bookshop in Galway and I won't get another until March. All of these books were purchased by me through Kennys Book Club. Many of the books I receive are not generally available in the states so Amazon usually doesn't have cover images.

Foster by Claire Keegan
Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor
Storm over Belfast by Mary O'Donnell (signed!(
You by Nuala Ni Chonchuir
The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories
South of the Border by James Ryan
The Big Chapel by Thomas Kilroy


I can't wait to start reading from my new Irish To Be Read Pile.

Storm over BelfastThe Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse)The Big Chapel (Revival)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Update and an Award

If things here seem to have slowed down somewhat, that is because they have. As I state in my "About Me" section, I am a homeschooling mom and things get very busy with the start of each new school year. We are busy with learning, music lessons, dance lessons and rehearsals. Much more of my time is taken up with planning, researching, school-related-reading, etc., so my time to blog is more limited right now.

I am still reading towards my R.I.P. V goals as well as Reading the Romantics. I have a review in the works for The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuch Hogan and I am still reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mandy of Mandy's Escape had passed an award on to me! So, thank you Mandy for thinking of me for The Versatile Blogger Award!

So, here's the drill for all award winners:


a) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
b) Share 7 things about yourself.
c) Pass the award along to 10 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
d) Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

And now, seven things about me:
1. I'm the oldest child in my family.
2. I've been to more concerts than my husband.
3. I have very curly hair and hate it -- even though I think curly hair is adorable on other people.
4. I hate doing laundry.
5. I love candles.
6. I used to work in accounting.
7. I am of Irish and Scottish descent.

I am happy to pass this award along to:
1. Book Chick City
2. Little Squeed
3. The Book Frog
4. Mindful Musings
5. Another Book Junkie
6. The Nerd's Wife
7. Blkosiner's Book Blog
8. Bewitched Bookworms
9. A Little Bookish
10. The Allure of Books

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour

Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand TourEverything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert
review copy provided by Harper Perennial
Summary from Goodreads:
When she lands a coveted nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play going on a European tour, Rachel Shukert—with a brand-new degree in acting from NYU and no money—finally scores her big break. And, after a fluke at customs in Vienna, she gets her golden ticket: an unstamped passport, giving her free rein to “find herself” on a grand tour of Europe. Traveling from Vienna to Zurich to Amsterdam, Rachel bounces through complicated relationships, drunken mishaps, miscommunication, and the reality-adjusting culture shock that every twentysomething faces when sent off to negotiate "the real world"—whatever that may be.

My Take:
First of all, I have to state right off that this book is not for everyone. It's racy and raunchy and so very funny! So, if you are squeamish, easily offended or just a stick-in-the-mud, don't bother reading it. On the other hand, if you have any sense of humor at all and aren't too easily upset by wacky situations, this book is most definitely worth reading!

I wasn't sure after the first chapter, to be honest, but after that chapter I started putting those little post-it flags on every page where I laughed out loud and now my book is riddled with little blue flags.  The "How to use this book" and "Preparing the Preparations" sections are just a taste of the fun that follows.  The first chapter titled "I am not even washing the underpants of me", describes her adventure in Paris the summer before her junior year of college. And it had me worried about what might follow, but the descriptions of Rachel's sudden and increasing fluency in French as she drinks more and more wine was just so funny, I had to continue.

I hate to give away too many of the funny bits in this book because everyone should discover Shukert for themselves, but I will say that I will never be able to listen to Phil Collins in quite the same way again! This is a fun, wild, crazy, but honest look at Rachel Shukert's adventures in Europe, but mostly in Amsterdam.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday! (4)



















It's Friday, so it's time for Follow Friday hosted at Parajunkee's View . It's also time for another Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jenn at Crazy For Books.




This week's question for Book Blogger Hop is: When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book? My Answer: I don't write my review as I read, but I do take notes and make note of passages that I might want to refer to or that I think may be important later. I write the  review after finishing the book and usually after taking a little bit of time to think about the book.
 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Award!


A big thank you goes out to Greyz at Cladestine Sanctuary for the One Lovely Blog Award! Stop by her lovely blog and say Hi.

The rules are:

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.


2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Barracks

The BarracksThe Barracks by John McGahern
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Summary from Goodreads:
One of the preeminent Irish writers of our time, John McGahern has captivated readers with such poignant and heart-wrenching novels as Amongst Women and The Dark. Moving between tragedy and savage comedy, desperation and joy, McGahern's first novel, The Barracks, is one of haunting power. Elizabeth Reegan, after years of freedom—and loneliness—marries into the enclosed Irish village of her upbringing. The children are not her own; her husband is straining to break free from the servile security of the police force; and her own life, threatened by illness, seems to be losing the last vestiges of its purpose.

My Take:
Well, I have to say that the only book I have ever read that was more depressing than this one was Famine by Liam O'Flaherty. From the first page,it seemed that the characters, Elizabeth Reegan especially, felt a  certain detachment from their lives. Mrs. Reegan seems to be just barely getting through each day of the monotony of her life. There are the small joys of certain tasks performed well and the small praise she may receive, but they are small and the fear for her health is ever present. In every character except perhaps the children, there is evidence of bitterness and dissatisfaction with life. 

Almost the entire novel is told from Elizabeth Reegan's point of view - all except that last several pages. Elizabeth had been a nurse before she married Reegan and she reflects on her past job and relationship with Halliday, a doctor in London. Because of her former nursing career, she is aware of what her symptoms may indicate and the fear causes her to delay seeing a doctor for months. Most of the book deals with her illness and how she and Reegan, her husband, deal with it. There is so little happiness in their lives and her illness only adds to their troubles. Reegan feels his job as police officer to be too restraining despite the security of a steady job.

It was a struggle for me to finish the book because it was just so very sad - not just Elizabeth's inevitable death, but also the constraints of their lives and the futility they seemed to feel. I thought the author did a good job of describing every day life in a small town in 1950's  Ireland, so I did finish reading it. I think I will try McGahern's Amongst Women next.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading?
Hosted by Book Journey.

Reviews written last week:
Fallen by Lauren Kate
A Drama in Muslin by George Moore
Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis

Books I am reading this week:
The BarracksThe Barracks by John McGahern (just finished reading this morning)

The Woman in White (Oxford World's Classics)The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (for R.I.P. V)

The CorrectionsThe Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

What are you reading this week?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vanishing and Other Stories

Vanishing and Other Stories (P.S.)Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis
review copy courtesy of Harper Perennial
Summary from Goodreads:
Vanishing and Other Stories explores emotional and physical absences, the ways in which people leave, are left, and whether or not it's ever possible to move on. Readers will encounter a skinny ice-cream scooper named Nina Simone, a vanishing visionary of social utopia, a French teacher who collects fiancés, and a fortune-telling mother who fails to predict the heartbreak of her own daughter. The characters in this collection will linger in the imagination, proving that nothing is ever truly forgotten.

My Take:
The brief description from Goodreads, while intriguing, really doesn't do this book justice. I don't usually go in for short stories, but these were just so good -- and they stay with you. It took me a while to read the book - not because it was boring or I didn't like it --- but because I found that I really wanted to just read a couple of the stories and then savor them, mull them over in my mind. The writing is beautiful throughout.

It would be impossible to review each story, but I'll just mention a few of the stories that really stuck with me.  "Vanishing", the first story sets the tone for the rest of the book. It was such an intriguing tale. And sad. I thought it illustrated the long term effects of loss and the search to understand. "Traces" is a wonderful story about a woman whose husband is having an affair and she gathers information about his mistress through the traces that the woman leaves. The twist at the end is a surprise that works. "This Other Us" was a disturbing but captivating story about three friends that really stuck in my mind long after reading it. In this story, as in the others, the style is minimalist and I found myself pondering the characters and stories long after I finished reading. Actually, I think there is something memorable about almost every story in this collection.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Drama in Muslin



A Drama in Muslin by George Moore
bought from Kennys Bookshop
Summary from Goodreads:
A reprint of the first edition written in the 1880s, this is generally considered to be the best version of one of Moore's greatest books. Set in Ireland in the 1880s against a backdrop of Land League troubles in Co. Mayo, and in Dublin, where the social life revolves around the Vice-Regal court in Dublin Castle, this depicts the efforts of a mother trying to catch socially suitable husbands for her daughters, and chronicles the results.

My Take:
This was an interesting book for a number of reasons. I like Irish history and the book takes place in the 1880's in western Ireland during the activities of the Land League, so there is the historical aspect to it. But the most interesting thing was the picture it painted of the lives of five girls born into the gentry of the West of Ireland.  They had been sent to a girls school for much of their lives and when they were of age, they had to join society and begin their quest to find husbands.  The mothers of the girls were quite interesting and for the most part, not very sympathetic characters. Mrs. Barton, the mother of Olive and Alice, the two main girls, is a beautiful, mostly empty-headed woman whose main goal is to get Olive married to an important man. Because Olive is the "beauty" of the family, she is the main focus of her mother's plans. Alice, the older, quiet, plain daughter is not really part of her mother's plans. All focus is on Olive. This sets the stage for the dramatic differences between the girls' lives for much of the book. The book paints a stark picture of the realities for young women at the time -- either marry (and hopefully to a wealty man) or face spending your life alone, whispered about and with no real purpose. In fact, the search for a husband was so important that there are several instances where it is referred to in military terms and the mothers are compared to real military leaders in their style of going after a husband for the daughter.

There are some glimpses of the peasants and their plight. But the main focus is on the landowners and their daughters. The view presented of the Land League and their activites is from the landowners' side of the issue. For the most part it shows that they had little understanding of the actual situation of the tenants of their land. They were only concerned about how much of the rents they would be able to collect. The reader gets glimpses of the poverty, but then the story goes straight back into the dances and parties and in this way shows the complete lack of concern and awareness on the part of the daughters and mothers.

From a historical and societal perspective, I thought the book was excellent. I did have a bit of a problem with some of the dialogue.  In several places, the girls' dialogue seemed overwrought -- such high emotion that sometimes it seemed unreal.  But then again, if your life was so constricted these fits of emotional ranting might be the only way to break out of the norm. I was quite pleased that Alice ended up with the happy marriage because she was considered plain, too smart, and basically unmarriageable at the beginning of the book. She proved to be a true friend, a wise person, a good sister and daughter and learned to be uncompromising when it came to decisions about her own life. She was the exception in the story. So, overall, I did enjoy the book although it took me awhile to get into the story at first.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fallen

FallenFallen by Lauren Kate
borrowed from the library
Summary from Goodreads:
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

My take:
There are very mixed reviews for this book. I decided to read it so I could decide for myself. I find myself torn on this one. I thought the idea was great and I felt the use of the fallen angel motif was done better than in Hush, hush. I did have an issue with Luce -- I felt for her and all her troubles, but honestly, I couldn't quite figure out what the big deal was with her. The prologue and epilogue help with some explanation, but in the story itself, I had a hard time grasping what was supposed to be so special about her. She seems a bit dumber than I would have liked for a heroine.  I liked Daniel and I figured out early on that Cam was probably going to be trouble.  But despite my complaints, I am still intrigued with where this story is going. I really liked the way things were revealed slowly throughout the book. I just hope that there is much more explanation in the next book. I want to know more about Gabbe and Arriane as well as what the deal is between Daniel and Cam.  I will read the next book because the overall story line and the whole idea appeals to me. I just hope that Luce develops into a smarter heroine.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday! (3)


















It's Friday, so it's time for Follow Friday hosted at Parajunkee's View . It's also time for another Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jenn at Crazy For Books.

This week's question for Book Blogger Hop is:   Do you judge a book by it's cover?
I have to admit that sometimes I do. I try not to, and usually I say that I don't, but sometimes the cover can make all the difference. That's not to say that I don't read the back cover and usually the first page of the book as well, but the cover does matter.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge V -- Begins!


I just found out about this challenge and I am so excited about it! Carl (Stainless Steel Droppings) hosts the RIP Challenge every year. I am going to participate this year in Peril the First - read four books from the following genres Mystery.


Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural

This should be fun - I love Halloween and the books and movies that fit the season. Since it is a family tradition to watch "scary" movies during the month of October, I will also participate in Peril on the Screen.

I haven't chosen the book yet, but there are so many I want to read or re-read. I'll update as I choose/read.

Updates:
Books read:
1. The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2.

Valley of Dry Bones









Valley of Dry Bones by Pricilla Royal
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
In the late summer of 1274, King Edward has finally been anointed England’s ruler, and his queen contemplates a pilgrimage in gratitude for their safe return from Outremer, a journey that will include a stay at Tyndal Priory. Envoys are sent to confirm that everything will be suitable for the king’s wife, and Prioress Eleanor nervously awaits them, knowing that regal visits bring along expense and honor. The cost is higher than expected, however, when Death arrives as the unexpected emissary. One of the courtiers is murdered near the hut where Brother Thomas now lives as a hermit. Each member of the party has reason to hate the dead man, including Crowner Ralf’s eldest brother, Sir Fulke, and the prioress’s nemesis, the man in black. Soon Eleanor is embroiled in the dangerous world of power games, both secular and religious. Indeed, England’s future under a new king may offer hope and relief, but skeletons from the past can come back to life like those in the biblical valley of dry bones. Which had cause enough to kill?

My take:
This is the seventh book in the Medieval Mystery series by the author. I wish I had know this before I requested the book from NetGalley.  I enjoyed the book, but I felt that there were many things I was missing out on even though the author did try to fill in crucial information from previous books.  While this was a mystery book, it seemed to flow at a much slower pace than what I have become used to.  I chalk this up to the fact that it takes place in 1274 and everything flowed at a slower pace than today. I really think I would have appreciated the book more if I had know the characters better. I liked the story, but I just didn't feel much of connection to any of the main characters.  I think I may have to go back and read at least the first book of this series. I would love to know if anyone has read the previous books and what you thought of them. This turns out to be not so much a review as my regrets for reading a book out of order in a mystery series. I know they should be able to stand alone, but I just felt like I missed something.





Friday, August 27, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award


A big thank you goes out to The Book Bee for awarding ABookGeek the One Lovely Blog Award!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.

3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.


Here are some of the blogs that I have recently found and really enjoy - in no particular order.

Blkosiner's Book Blog
Bewitched Bookworms
The Prairie Library
Reading with Tequila
What Book Is That?
Karen's Addictions
A Little Bookish
The Introverted Reader
A Fanatics Book Blog
Books Complete Me
The Bodacious Pen
I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
S. Krishna's Books
Addicted 2 Novels
The Allure of Books

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shade

ShadeShade by Jeri Smith-Ready
borrowed from the library
from Goodreads:
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

My take:
I wanted to read Shade because I have really enjoyed Jeri Smith-Ready's WVMP Radio series. Shade was a very fast, easy, enjoyable read.  I thought Aura was a good heroine and Logan was a good boyfriend or ghost of a boyfriend and Zachary was just adorable. But what I enjoyed the most was the story of the Shift and that is what I am most interested to read more about in the next book entitled, appropriately, Shift. This idea and story line really intrigued me. I'm curious about this world where everyone born after the Shift can see ghosts and how the authorities have chosen to deal with the situation and why the DMP is so very interested in Aura. I want to know more about Aura and Zachary's link to the Shift - what is it? How did it happen? Why are they important? Needless to say, I am looking forward to the next book.  I think this is an interesting premise.