"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark

Author:  Carol Higgins Clark
Publisher:  Pocket Star Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Copyright:  2008 by Carol Higgins Clark
Pages:  287
Genre:  Mystery
Paperback edition

Following in her mother`s footsteps, Carol Higgins Clark has become a fabulous mystery novelist as is her mother Mary Higgins Clark.  This book, Zapped, is the 11th in the 14 books Carol Higgins Clark has written about the sleuthing wife/husband team of Regan and Jack Reilly.

Returning to New York after a weekend away, Regan finds signs of an intruder in their apartment as she stays behind while Jack is called in to police headquarters following a black-out. Inadvertently, Regan finds herself locked out while up on the rooftop terrace as she attempts to increase the ventilation in the apartment by making ajar the door to the terrace.

Meanwhile an art gallery is burglarized, a young man has gone missing and is last seen in the company of a young woman thought to be deranged and dangerous and more than one person has reason to gain access to Regan and Jack`s apartment.  After being rescued by Jack, Regan gains an entourage as she takes on the mission of finding the missing young man, Chip, while Jack fields problems from the station.  It promises to be a long, hot night in a New York City black-out!

Like all of her novels, this one is well-written and entertaining. Zapped is a quick paced mystery/suspense that can, if one is able, be read in one sitting; however, I didn`t have that luxury. The cast of characters can become confusing as the plot develops and more people become involved.  The author jumps from one character/story line to another, generally doing so in separate chapters, so I found myself having to refresh my memory as to which character was which, especially when it came to the three men whose names all began with `C`.  I`ve heard others comment they found it distracting to have so many characters and different sub-plots in her other books but the author does a good job tying them all together in the end of this novel.  One must be on their ``toes`` to keep up with Carol Higgins Clark!  All in all, I enjoyed this novel and recommend it as a good light read.

Rated 4/5.










2011 Reading Challenge - Nicholas Sparks

I am joining The Book Vixen for my first ever reading challenge, the 2011 Reading Challenge:  Nicholas Sparks.  Read as many Nicholas Sparks novels as you can in 2011, blogging about them on your book blog or keeping track on GoodReads or LibraryThing.  Link up with The Book Vixen to join this challenge.  There are four levels, you can begin at any level and graduate to the next, which is what I will do.  Starting at the first level, "First Date" - read 1-4 Nicholas Sparks novels, I shall begin with Nights in Rodanthe.  Join me here periodically for updates on this challenge and reviews of Nicholas Sparks novels.
Nicholas Sparks is one of my favourite authors so this shall be a fun challenge!!

Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Truth of the Matter

Author  Andrew Klavan
Publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Copyright 2010
336 pages
Juvenile Fiction Action and Adventure General/Christian

"Never Give In"
"Ever since he woke up in a terrorist torture chamber-with a year of his life erased from his mind-Charlie West has been on the run.  He has one desperate hope of getting his life back: track down the mysterious agent named Waterman.  But in fact, reaching Waterman-and recovering the secrets lost in his own memory-will only increase his danger. Because a team of ruthless killers is rapidly closing in on him, determined to stop him from finding the answers.  And the truth of the matter is more incredible...and more deadly...than he could ever imagine." (from the back cover)


What could terrorists possilby want with a teenage boy?  What truths does he know that keep him on the run?

When Charlie's best friend is murdered, Charlie is charged and found guilty. It's all part of a plan.  He is allowed to escape and finds himself on the run from the law and a terrorist group, The Homelanders.  He has lost one year of his memory and must track down someone who can help him retrieve those memories.   Charlie has a black belt, a clever young man with strong convictions.  He knows fear but he does not allow that fear to keep him from fighting for what is right.  He knows his life is in peril but he must find this individual.  He doesn't know who to trust.  Danger lurks everywhere.

This action adventure will appeal primarily to teenage boys (though I did enjoy it), drawing them into the life of Charlie West, a teenage boy on the run from the law and The Homelanders. He left behind his family, his school, his friends and his girlfriend.  Charlie's story begins in The Last Thing I Remember but the reader does not feel as though they are missing the gist of the story by beginning in book three of this series.  One can go back and read them, which the reader will want to do after reading this book but it isn't necessary to enjoy this novel. 

It is rare to find a novel without profanity and sexuality but this book will be found acceptable on all levels.  While Charlie's adventures seem way out there and the descriptions of his "moves" are a bit surreal, Charlie's journey will draw you in, keep you reading, page after page, until you finish the book, and then....well, you simply must get the next book in the series to find out what becomes of Charlie.

This is the third book in The Homelander series.  The first book in the series is The Last Thing I Remember and the second is The Long Way Home.  Look for The Final Hour, available August 2011, to discover the conclusion to Charlie's life on the run.  
Rated 4.5/5

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Favourite Children's Books of Christmas

The following books remain on my shelves as favourite Christmas books for children.  They stand the test of time and remain the titles we still reach for year after year.


The Littlest Angel
Author:  Charles Tazewell
Illustrayed by:  Paul Michich
Originally published in 1946, it has been reprinted several times

"THE LITTLEST ANGEL was born in 1939 when Screen Guild producers informed scriptwriter Charles Tazewell that he must "write something."  They anticipated a crisis with a current production, and Tazewell's creation would serve as backup.  While the crisis never materialized, THE LITTLEST ANGEL did."

First narrated on the Christmas radio show MANHATTEN, in 1946 LITTLEST ANGEL was published in book form by Children's Press of Chicago.  It was later translated into several languages and released as a Decca album.

CORONET published THE LITTLEST ANGEL in its magazine in 1949 and later released it as a film.  At the time of the author's death in 1972, THE LITTLEST ANGEL was in its thirty-eighth printing and was an "international classic".  It has stood the test of time and sold over five million copies.  It is considered one of the all-time best-selling children's books.

THE LITTLEST ANGEL is the story of a young angel who just cannot seem to stay out of trouble in the celestial city.  When the Christ child is born, this little angel learns a timeless lesson, one that endures as the true spirit of giving.

5/5


How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Author:  Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel )
Published by Random House in 1957
50 pages

'"Every Who
Down in Whoville
Liked Christmas a lot....
But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Who-ville,
Did NOT!"

This was Dr. Seuss' criticism of the commercialization of Christmas and its setting is based upon his hometown and surrounding area.  Despite the Grinch taking away everything the Who's have to celebrate Christmas, it does not dim the spirit of Christmas.  As the Who's gather together, singing in praise of Christmas, the Grinch realizes Christmas does not come in packages tied in ribbons and bows nor in the magnificent feast.  Christmas dwells in the heart.  That day, when Grinch learned this valuable lesson, his heart grew three times larger.  He returned all that he had taken, with a new understanding of the true meaning of Christmas.

A valuable lesson for all to learn and remember.

5/5

The animated version is still one of my personal animated favourites

Christmas Oranges
Retold by Linda Bethers
Illustrated by Ben Sowards
Copyright 2002
30 pages
This is the story of a young girl named Rose who is growing up in an orphanage.  She feels alone as she struggles to make new friends.  At Christmas a kind neighbour brings a box of oranges for all the children in the orphanage.  An unknown luxury for Rose, she waits in anticipation to receive her orange.  Christmas morning arrives and she is heartbroken to find there is no orange for her.

Rose has a few good friends who, upon discovering Rose has no orange, do something that changes their Christmas then and forever.  They show the true value of love and friendship.

5/5


The Nutcracker Ballet
Author:  Vladimir Vagin
Illustrations by Vladimir Vagin
Copyright 1995
28 pages

Based on the "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" written by the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann.

In 1954 famous choreographer George Balanchine staged a version of The Nutcracker Ballet which has become the basis for the productions on stage today and for this book.

Christmas Eve was magical in their household.  One Christmas Eve in particular Clara receives a wooden nutcracker doll from her eccentric godfather, a toy maker.  After midnight, the nutcracker is transformed into a dashing prince who leads Clara into the Land of Sweets.  The Rat King is an enemy of this dream world and the nutcracker must raise an army to defeat him and his minnions.

5/5

If the opportunity to attend the Nutcracker Ballet arises, do attend!  It is stunning in its choreography, costumes and dancers, and ability to retell this classic story.


The Small One
Author:  Alex Walsh
Illustrated by Jesse Clay
Copyright 1995 by Disney Enterprises, Inc.
28 pages

"Before honor is humility: - Proverbs 15:33

This book is based upon Disney's short animated film The Small One.  A young boy must sell his favourite donkey and is heartbroken over the prospect of losing his dear friend.  His sadness is lifted when he sells the small donkey to a man whom he knows will love and care for his little friend.  Knowing that the man is Joseph and his little donkey will carry Mary to Bethlehem, the young boy's sadness is lifted.

A book sure to inspire faith and love in all who read it.  A lovely story to share with your children.

5/5


On Christmas Eve
Author:  Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Nancy Edwards Calder
Original copyright by Roberta B. Rauch 1938 and 1965
Illustrations copyright 1996 by Nancy Edwards Calder
30 pages

The excitement of Christmas Eve leaves four children unable to sleep.  They sneak downstairs to gaze upon the tree and stockings and listen to the carollers outside.  They want to touch the Christmas tree and make a Christmas wish that night.  With hearts pounding they approach the tree and see the gifts beneath.  Outside the beautiful song of the carollers draws them to the window.  It is almost too much for them to take in.

A cute story with incredible illustrations that children will love year after year.  Children can relate to the characters in this book as they too want to sneak downstairs in the dark on Christmas Eve just to get a peak.

5/5

The Christmas Candle
Author:  Richard Paul Evans
Paintings by Jacob Collins
Text copyright 1998 by Richard Paul Evans
Art copyright 1998 by Jacob Collins
A Simon & Schuster Book for Young Readers
25 pages

This story is ideal for the older child but in the hands of a parent read to a child it is a story of love and mankind's need for love. 

On a Christmas Eve, on his way home, a young man finds his candle is dwindling and the flame soon to flicker out.  He finds a chandler's shop open and obtains a new candle but this isn't any candle.  It shines on those on the street casting them in a different light than their original form.  In one form, the young man sees his mother as a beggar and gives her his cloak.  This happens again as he sees someone he knows in the stranger in the street and is again inspired to share of his belongings.  By the time he arrives home he has no cloak and no money but in his heart he has a new gift.  The gift of love and acceptance.

A wonderful story which reminds us to love one another.

5/5

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crime Bruleé

The first book in the culinary mystery with recipes series
Author:  Nancy Fairbanks
Berkley Prime Crime, 2001
Pages: 274 (paperback edition)

"Forty-something homemaker Carolyn Blue is through with cooking and cleaning.  She`s finally decided to throw in the dishtowel-and take on a dream job as a food writer.  Now her plate is filled with exotic locales, delectable foods, and even a dash of crime-to taste. She could very well get used to this.....
 Crime Brulee
It was a perfect arrangement.  Carolyn had already planned to accompany her husband to an academic conference in New Orleans-an event that meant visiting old college pals.  So why not use the opportunity to write a story about Cajun cuisine?  But just as she get a taste of Creole, she gets a bit of crime....Her friend Julienne disappears at a dinner party.  True, she had been fighting with her husband, but this only worries Carolyn more.  Now she has to put her taste-testing aside to search for answers-and the trail leads her right to an alligator swamp.  Carolyn better act fast, because in these parts, it's eat or be eaten......

Includes over a dozen delicious recipes!"

Given the opportunity, I would have read this book in one sitting.  Portions of Carolyn's food reviews are contained herein, giving the reader a taste of the cuisine of  Louisiana.  Recipes included herein include such enticements as Risotto Mille e Una Notte, Carol Lee's Avocado Stuffed Shrimp Remoulade, and Le Bistro Creme Brulee.

When Julienne disappears, Carolyn is the singular friend who believes there's foul play involved.  She is determined to find her friend and finds her very own life endangered as she pursues the mystery.  This is the first of Nancy Fairbanks' (pseudo for Nancy Herndon) culinary mysteries.  If you love food; eating, making or reading of; or you enjoy a good fast-paced mystery, you're going to devour this book.  Once you do so, like me, you'll be hungering for more of her works.  Others in this series include Truffled Feathers, Death a l'Orange, Chocolate Quake, The Perils of Paella, Holy Guacamole!, Mozzarella Most Murderous, Bon Bon Voyage, and French Fried.

Rating:  5\5







Saturday, December 18, 2010

Plain Truth



Author:  Jodi Picoult
Published by Washington Square Press a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Pages:  405
Reader's Group Discussion Included

"The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster Country to its core.  But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure; circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn's mother, took the child's life.  When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide-and for the first time in her high-profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own.  Delving deep inside the world of those who live "plain", Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms.  And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within-to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past re-enters her life."  (from the back cover of Plain Truth)

Well-written and captivating, this novel is the first of Jodi Picoult's that I have read.  Plain Truth holds your attention, draws the reader in and is hard to put down.  The characters are well-developed, and the lifestyle and culture of the Amish are well-portrayed.  The author did, after all, spend a week living with an Amish family, participating in chores and living as they do.  Not easily forgotten, this novel may enlist the reader in a quest to simplify their own lives and question their perspectives.  Not a bad thing.

Rated 3.5/5

*As administrator of a local Christian book club, I read this as a possible book of the month.  Though the author does an excellent job of drawing the reader in, I was not impressed with the explicit sex included in a couple areas within this novel.  As such, based upon language and sexual content, we cannot include this as a suggested read for discussion. 

Does popular fiction need to bridge the gap between moral and immoral to be popular? Perhaps books should have a labelling system similar to that of movies.  PG, R, General based upon content.  It would make things simpler when selecting books for discussion.  This reader intends to read another of Jodi Picoult's novels, My Sister's Keeper.  Hopefully the content will be agreeable for our group as a future read.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Persuasion


This last novel written by Jane Austen was published posthumously.  Set in the Victorian era amongst those of society where birth and title dictate proper decorum.  This is the story of Anne Elliot, the often overlooked daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, a man full of self-importance and vanity; and sister to Elizabeth and Mary.

At eight and twenty years (28) Anne is yet unmarried though her heart belongs to Colonel Frederick Wentworth.  Eight years previous they'd been engaged but he was not a man of circumstance and her friend Lady Russell persuaded her to break the engagement.  Broken-hearted, Frederick Wentworth went to sea, becoming a colonel and commander of his own vessel.  He made his "fortune" in the navy before returning to Anne's hometown.  Will they reconcile?  Will he forgive her?  Will she marry Mr.  Elliot?

This novel took me over a month to read.  Never before have I had such difficulty with a book.  Written in the early 1800's, the prose and style is one I am not accustomed to and it seemed so wordy to accomplish so little, dialogues didn't ensue quickly enough for me.  It was only in the final chapters that I found interest in the dilemmas of Anne and Frederick.  The final chapter seemed to pull things together too quickly, especially compared to the pace of the previous 23 chapters, as if the author wanted to be done with it.

My apologies to lovers of Jane Austen,  this must seem brutal.  I've read and love the likes of Agatha Christie, but that is a more recent era, and welcomed the challenge to expand my repertoire, so to speak.  If you have never read Jane Austen or the likes thereof, I highly recommend renting the movie version first, if available.  It was only after seeing the BBC film of Persuasion that I was able to accomplish the final chapters.  Don't let this dissuade you.  Welcome the challenge to broaden your horizons, the love story is beautiful!

Rated 3/5

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Have You Read Six or More of These?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here:

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte --hated it!!!
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Ok, I thought I was rather well-read, but after going through this list I find myself coming up short.  You  may have read this list on Facebook.  My niece posted it on her page and I decided it to be post worthy here.  So tell me, dear reader, how many/which ones have you read? Which have you started but didn't finish?  How many/which ones are on your reading to do list?  I think I've read about 11 of these.  Do tell.......

Up and Running!

It appears my issues with posting have been resolved so check back soon for reviews of what I've been reading!  Coming soon:  Crime Brulee by Nancy Fairbanks, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult, to name a few.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Amazon Doesn't Believe in Censorship!!! Bad Press!!

Watching the news this morning, I was dismayed appalled to hear that a popular online retailer, Amazon, has among its listings, a guide for pedophiles!!  They cited that while they don't condone criminal activity, they also don't believe in censorship (paraphrased). See Blog Fairfield House  for further details. 

On the news they said Amazon has pulled the title from its listings, however it does not end there.  Apparently there are other titles listed with Amazon of equally disdainful content.  It is a criminal offense to have such materials in your possession.  Shouldn't it be criminal to sell such items?  I have written an email to express my disappointment in this practice.  We shall see what they have to say.  I will keep you posted.

I encourage you to do the same.  Go to their site, go to help, in the right hand column select "contact" and write.  Make your opinion known!  Make your voice count!  For the rights of innocent children everywhere, please make a stand.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Our local book club read for the month of November is "Persuasion" by Jane Austen.  This novel is Jane Austen's last completed novel and was published posthumously December 1817.  Her works stand the test of time, a tribute to a woman who wrote novels highly valued in the English literary tradition.

Persuasion -  first line, first page "Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage, there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one, there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents, there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt."  Possibly the longest written sentence in history, thus begins the story.

Touted the story of Jane's most memorable heroine, Persuasion's lead character is Anne Elliot, "a young woman of breeding, depth of emotion and unswerving integrity." (from the back cover).  Anne is a strong woman who finds freedom from less than ideal familial relations through her relationships with other women of strength.  Personal fulfillment, something every human desires, is hers in this novel where men and women are equals in morality and roles of hero and heroine are reversed.

Thus begins the read of the month.   

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

Her childhood, stories of the life she hid well, her rise to fame and fortune, the romanticism with which she partially revealed her upbringing...all here in this new biography by Justine Picardie. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life. Now available from Harper Collins Publishing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shoe Addicts Annonymous


Author:  Beth Harbison.  Copyright 2007.  Published by St. Martin's Press, New York. 344 pages

"Four different women.  One common shoe size.  And a shared lust for fabulous footwear."

Synopsis:  "Helene Zaharis' politician husband keeps her on a tight leash and cancels her credit cards as a way of controlling her.  Lorna Rafferty is up to her eyeballs in debt and can't stop her addiction to eBay.  Sandra Vanderslice, battling agoraphobia, pays her shoe bills by working as a phone-sex operator.  And Jocelyn Bowen is a nanny for the family from hell.  (who barely knows a sole from a heel but who will do anything to get out of the house).

On Tuesday nights, these women meet to trade shoes and, in the process, form friendships that will help them each triumph over their problems-from secret pasts to blackmail, bankruptcy, and dating.  "Funny emotional, and powerful...." so reads the back cover.

This is an interesting and unique story of four women from different walks of life brought together under the guise of shoe addiction.  What happens between them and in each of their lives is a result of this meeting of minds.  A good story, though too descriptive in sexual detail.  If you like a good read without this detail, skip this book.

Soon to be made into a movie with Halle Berry cast as one of the lead characters, this book has been on the national bestseller list.  If the movie stays close to the plot, it will have to be rated 18A.

Rated 3/5



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist


I began following Laurie Hertzel's blog "Three Dog Blog" a few months ago.  I enjoy her manner of writing, her gift of storytelling, her honesty and her humour.  When she announced her book News to Me: Adventures of a Accidental Journalist was to be released soon, I was excited.  I am a writer in the making, so to speak, and have loved following her journey to publication, her book tour, and her adventures along the way. 


Laurie began her career in journalism at a little newspaper in Duluth, Minnesota.  Predominately an industry of the typical male journalist in the 1970's, Laurie started as a newsroom clerk, working her way up until she reached the status of journalist.

News to Me follows Laurie's climb through the ranks in the newspaper industry.  Her visits to Russia, the time she was assigned to follow a mail carrier for a day during the Christmas busy season, her story about the first person in Minnesota to die of Aids are all chronicled here.

Previous reviews have mentioned the brevity of her stories in this book.  But it is not a novel, nor a typical memoir.  It is a report of early years in journalism when it was not a woman's industry and Laurie's experiences as that industry changed with the times.  It is the evolution of journalism from the standpoint of one who lived it. 

Laurie's journalist work has been awarded numerous national awards and her short work of fiction won the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize. She is now the book editor at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.


  
The challenges, the triumphs, and the journey, all as I imagined them to be and more. An interesting read for the journalism major and the common layperson alike, this book is one I'd recommend. 

Rated 4.5/5


News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist copyright 2010 by Laurie Hertzel.  Published by University of Minnesota Press.  204 pages.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shopaholic Takes Manhatten


The second in the Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, Shopaholic Takes Manhatten continues the story of Rebecca Bloomwood.  This time she is in New York embarking on a television career, accompanying Luke Brandon across the Atlantic.  Once she happens upon 5th Avenue she knows she is where she belongs.  Prada, Gucci, D&G....... oh the things you can wear....... 

"foreign money doesn't count, so you can spend as much as you like."   It's like monopoly money.  Credit card in hand, Becky doesn't leave behind her love of shopping, however "controlled" her debt situation may be. 

Follow Becky across the ocean to a new country, new life, new shopping, and new and fun escapades.  Shopaholic Takes Manhatten continues to entertain and make you laugh.  Another great chick lit piece to pass the cold nights of winter with.  Curl up with a blanket, sit by the fire and immerse yourself.  It's going to be a good read.

Rated 4.5/5

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Confessions of Shopaholic


I had watched the movie, a few times, and loved it so I had to read the book.  I came across a copy at a local bookstore called Never Without a Book.  Great name, eh?

Confessions of a Shopaholic is told in the first person and is the story of Rebecca Bloomwood, a vivacious, designer label loving young lady who works as a journalist with a financial magazine.  The irony of it is, though she writes financial columns, she is over her head in debt.  Her problem - she loves to shop!  Gucci, Prada, D&G.  She knows them all.  Intimately.  Store fronts beckon her and credit card in hand, she answers.

Becky Bloomwood is a dreamer.  She's "finance guru meets the girl next door', "informative meets approachable", "knowledgeable meets down to earth";  as the conversation goes between her and handsome Luke Brandon whom she has a love/hate relationship with. 

 Sophie Kinsella captures the personality of Becky as if the reader knows her intimately.  Like the girl next door or your best friend in high school.  Definitely chick lit, funny and addictive.  You won't want to put it down.

  Get to know Rebecca Bloomwood and you'll see why this book is a bestseller.

Rated 4.5/5

Note:  the movie is quite different than the book.  The movie is set in New York, the book in London.  The same names are used but their characters, in some cases, have different roles.  Both the book and the movie are charming.  I almost think it better to watch the movie first and then read the book.  The exception to the rule. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indigo Love of Reading Program Puts Books in Schools

Indigo, Chapters and Coles are helping to put books on the shelves of local schools.  Have you visited your children's school library.  So many have so few books, particularly inner city schools.   The following are excerpts from their site:

Three days to launch!
Posted on September 9, 2010
Three days until we kick off Adopt a School in our stores and online!
From Sep 12-Oct 2 we're going to fill school libraries across Canada!

Building bookshelves in your local school


This September, Indigo, Chapters and Coles stores across the country have adopted schools in their communities to help put new books in the library.

Help us meet our goal of putting one new book for every child in to our adopted schools. Find a school near you, donate and spread the word to your friends and family.

Imagine a childhood with no storytelling
No poetry.
No magic.
You don’t have to imagine it.
We have a literacy crisis in our schools now.
To learn what the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation is doing to address the literacy crisis, visit about Love of Reading.
Transform your local school’s library
Books unlock vast worlds of imagination.

Your support can help turn our adopted schools' dreams of having books into a reality.
Put a book into the hands of a child – find a school near you and donate today.

Random House of Canada

Random House of Canada is proud to be the primary publishing partner of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation Adopt a School program.

We are excited to recognize schools’ and stores’ fundraising efforts with the Random House Book Package Reward which puts even more books into the school libraries helping their children develop a love of reading.

A young booklover's 'Ode to a Book'


"A book is like one million dollars.


A book [is] for my imagination.


Like food for my brain.


The knowledge that they give.


Is like a fantasy to me."

-Student, Ogden Elementary School, Love of Reading grant recipient.

Learn how the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation is helping open a world of possbilities by putting books into the hands of children. Visit Building bookshelves in your local school


http://adoptaschool.loveofreading.org/en_CA/home

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Italian Joy

Today I received, wrapped in yellow with a ribbon, a copy of Italian Joy by Carla Coulson.  I am the happy contest winner of a copy of her book.  carlalovesphotography.blogspot.com/.../do-you-have-dream-i-did.html.   Carla is a photographer and writer and has two books in print, Italian Joy and Paris Tango.


Never before have I seen such a wrapper!  Unfolded, the cover of Carla's book Italian Joy looks like this above.  This alone is reason to read the book!

I look forward to this tribute to the country and the people of Italy.  Thank you Carla!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

At Home in Mitford

Written by Jan Karon 1994
Published by Penguin Books 569 pages

Jan Karon writes "to give readers an extended family, and to applaud the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives". 

At Home in Mitford is the first book in the Mitford Years Series.  The story of a lovely town nestled in a valley, untouched by the outside world.  Protected from the likes of big box stores, large hotels and such by their mayor.  Mitford offers a home town grocery store, a quaint church led by Father Tim, an antique shop and gardens galore.

This is the story of the town, of Father Tim who loves and cares for each individual in this town, and the characters that preside there.  The author explores their relationships, their lives and their loves and entices the reader to want to live or at the very least visit the small town of Mitford.

An excellent and uplifting read.  Though not quick-paced, this is one of those books you have to take to the cottage, the beach or curl up in front of a fire with.  

Rated 4.5/5 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull



It's been a busy summer, reading, reading, reading!!!  Isn't that perfect?  I mean really?  Aside from a much desired, and might I add needed, vacation to the ocean or a nice lake, what could be more compelling?  Not much if you love reading and writing like I do!

Fablehaven is the first of a series written by Brandon Mull and is his first published material.  If you like Harry Potter; as many adults, teens and children do; you will truly enjoy Fablehaven.  It is written primarily for a tween or early teen market but appeals to a vast spectrum.

This is the story of Seth and Kendra, the grandchildren of the Sorensons.  Interestingly, the children are left to stay with their grandparents while the parents go on a cruise.  That's not the interesting part.  Most intriguing of all is the story behind the Sorensons and their land, Fablehaven.  Upon entering the premises, signs warning all to stay away are scattered along the roadway.  "Certain Death Awaits" reads one. 

A pet chicken who is not really a chicken, yes I mean "who"; hummingbirds who are not what they seem, and a mystery forest that is off limits.  Similar to a well-known series, and yet not.  Seth's curiosity gets the better of him and Kendra too as she is dragged along on his adventures and mishaps.  Mysterious creatures are hidden within the forest and the barn.  Though given ample warning from their grandfather, Seth and then Kendra and Seth, investigate the property and find secrets too hard to believe, including the disappearance of their grandmother.

Full of adventure and fun and suspense, this book is hard to put down.  Brandon Mull leaves hints for future novels to continue the saga and creates a desire to read on and on.  This reader cannot wait to get the next in what promises to be a best-selling series.

Rating 5/5




Saturday, July 24, 2010

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith


This book was highly recommended and spent some time on the New York Times Bestseller List. 

This is the story of Mma (pronounced "ma" with a long a) Precious Ramotswe, a traditional African woman who, with an inheritance from her father, begins the first ever detective agency run by a woman.  She receives some flack for this because it certainly is not tradtional.  Some would say a woman's place is in the home, raising children and chickens!  Not Precious.  In this respect she is anything but traditional.

This is the book of many stories of cases Mma Ramotswe quickly and easily solves.  She is intuitive and sharp.  She knows people.  It's the way she solves crimes that beguiles the reader.  From cheating husbands, to wayward children to a missing child.  How she knows to wait at a riverside for a crocodile to solve the case of a missing man, I shall not know but she does!  Precious solves mysteries with apparent ease, sometimes too much so for me. I wish the author had dwelt a little more on building the cases, creating conflict, and prolonged resolve. Perhaps that is his style.

Amusing and enthralling and yet never too descriptive nor vulgar, which I personally prefer, this story is charming.  Alexander McCall Smith's first foray into the life of Precious and her people portrays the rarely seen side of Afrikaans, the good and bad while still presenting this country in a favorable light. You leave here desiring to see, touch, and feel the land of great skies, thorn trees and people who understand the meaning of things.

When asked how Alexander created Precious his response was:
  "There is no particular person upon whom Precious Ramotswe is based, but there is an incident. Years ago I was in Botswana, staying with friends in a small town called Mochudi. A woman in the town wished to give my friends a chicken to celebrate Botswana National Day. I watched as this woman—traditionally built, like Mma Ramotswe—chased the chicken round the yard and eventually caught it. She made a clucking noise as she ran. The chicken looked miserable. She looked very cheerful. At that moment I thought that I might write a book about a cheerful woman of traditional build."

And that, my friends, is but a glimpse into the character that is Precious.  Mr. Smith's site is a must see of  What's What and Who's Who http://www.randomhouse.com/features/mccallsmith/main.php   
African music, light and cheerful, plays in the background as you peruse the site. Here you find photos, descriptives and an insightful look into the life that is Precious'.  Under features check out the Reading Guide for this series of which The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is the first.

4/5 I shall actively seek more in this series.




Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Washington's Blog

This is not a book on my shelf, nor in a library but still enlightening.  Or perhaps more intriguing, giving one cause to ponder, to deliberate.  Today I checked out the Blogs of Note and came across one called Washington's Blog.  It's latest entry is what caught my attention, that of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The photos are graphic of the damage caused to wildlife.  It is saddening and makes one want to see justice or amends made.  But, can anything, any amount of money, substitute for the lives lost?  For those whose livelihood depends on the fishing industry this is catastrophic.  Residents in Louisiana and Mississippi, still rebuilding as a result of Hurricane Katrina, now face certain financial despair due to the devastation of the shrimp, fish and shellfish industry that they built their independance on. 

Washington's Blog shares with the reader photos and information not readily available to the public due to previous publication bans.  Herein you find the answers to questions you may have asked about the condition of the area, the progress made, the implications to the wildlife and humans alike. 

If it affects our planet, it affects us.  Take a moment to read this blog:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/


Photo from Washington's Blog

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Words That Matter

Brought to you by Harper Collins Publishing from the Editors of O, Oprah Winfrey's magazine, comes this enlightening book, "Words That Matter".  Valuable quotes to inspire, uplift and encourage are found within.  Looks to be a promising read and a possible bestseller.  Check this link for more:
http://browseinside.harpercollins.ca/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061996337&cm_mmc=ref-_-ptnr-_-sympatico-_-9780061996337

"Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard-fought battles, the goals won with sacrifice, are the ones that matter." -- Aisha Tyler, actress and comedian


"Fortune helps those who dare." -- Virgil, poet

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will." -- George Bernard Shaw, playwright

"I fear only God. I don't fear any human. When you have that kind of spirit, you can just do what you have to do. Let it roll." -- Stevie Wonder, singer

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Lucky One

Written by Nicholas Sparks, author of bestsellers including Nights in Rodanthe, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, Dear John and The Notebook.  Another great novel by Nicholas Sparks.  

When a US Marine, Logan Thibault, finds a photograph of a beautiful young woman he pegs it on the bulletin board for the owner to claim but no one does.  Putting it in his pocket, he fights in Iraq with his platoon.  Many die around him but he survives.  His friend Victor tells him the photo is a charm.  As long as he has the charm he will be protected.

There's a catch here.  When they return from duty, Victor tells him he has to return the favour to the woman.  He must find her.  Taking only his dog, Zeus, and a backpack, Logan treks across the country from Colorado to North Carolina in search of the  mystery woman.

It is a story of the paths our lives take, destiny, and true love with suspense thrown in. A new twist from what I have read of Sparks.  A drama that will capture you from the start.

I recommend this book as a 5/5!  Take this one with you on holiday for some great summer reading!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Welcome Visitors!

Good day and welcome!  Thank you for visiting this blog.  Join me here often, put your feet up, and read reviews of some of my favorites.  Looking for something to read this summer?  I recently bought Nicholas Sparks' new novel "The Lucky One"   So check back here soon to get the inside voice.  In the meantime, what are you reading?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lunenberg Letters by Bobbi Gray



http://www.bobbilougray.com/index.html

Two families separated by circumstance, join the exodus of settlers from Germany in pursuit of a new life.  They are farmers, hardworking and desirous of a promised land where they will escape religious persecution.  Somewhere where they will have their own land and provisions to begin a new life.  Along the journey the families aboard the ships are bombarded at the toll stations by agents looking to bring families to Pennsylvania.  Agents who claim the land is better, more fertile there. Initially the promise of Nova Scotia, freedom and ownership brought them to this journey.  Now they must choose between Nova Scotia and Pennsylvania.  However will they decide?

Enter two young people in love.  Once neighbours, now separated as one family leaves ahead of the other to sail to a new world, they endure the hardships of disease, spoiled food, and the ravages of sea travel, hoping to reunite when they reach their journeys end.  Each searches for the other but without success.  What if one went to one destination and the other somewhere else?  How will they ever find each other?

An excellent and fast read that is difficult to put down.  Accurate in its history, an intricate look into the lives of those who paved the way for us.  This reader is happy to know there is a sequel in the works. 

Note:  A first novel, Lunenberg Letters is the culmination of years of family history research by the author, Bobbi Gray.  Her own family makes up some of the background characters in this historical novel.  The trials and triumphs are real.  Fiction is used to embellish the story for lack of information but is believable and probable. 

Family History Research (genealogy) is the fastest growing "hobby" in the world!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

PS I Love You



A first novel by Cecilia Ahern.  Setting Ireland.  Holly and Gerry were sweethearts in school and later married.  They were happy and in love until one day Gerry had an awful headache and at Holly's insistence went to the doctor.  He had a tumour and it was terminal.  Sick as he was, he secretly went about arranging things that he knew would help Holly through her grieving. 

After his death Holly received a call from her mother to let her know she had a package for her.  Though she did not want to go out and preferred to spend her days in bed, in mourning, Holly gathered the strength to do just that.  That decision changed the course her life was taking.

In the package were instructions from Gerry.  One envelope for each of ten months.  As Holly opened each one, she took upon herself new projects, a vacation, karaoke night, and more because she knew by doing so she was keeping a bit of Gerry with her.  Each instruction ended:  PS I Love You. 

Incredible it was, for Gerry to do something so selfless for Holly.  Knowing that in doing so he would help her to live again.  The sacrifice he made for her to accomplish these tasks speaks of pure love.  A love so selfless it brings one to tears! 

PS I Love You is a good read when armed with a box of tissues.  Love does live on and in allowing it to, it helps those left behind to continue on, savouring the memories, embracing the present and the future of tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Julie & Julia (The Julie/Julia Project)



I recently happened upon a paperback copy of Julie Powell's book Julie & Julia and just had to purchase it!  I am so enchanted with the movie that this was an opportunity I could not pass up at 25% off the cover price!  I am finding it a fast, irresistable read and within a few short hours am already half-way through.

This is a story of a young married woman in Long Island City New York, a government worker by day, and Julia Child protege by night.  She has taken on the challenge of creating all 500 + recipes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.  Sometimes daunting, always entertaining, this task is shared daily in her blog.  Will she maintain her sanity and her marriage through this, the reader wonders.  How many times have you tackled a new recipe for company, like an aspic per se, and it didn't gel?  Not that I have any desire to try an aspic, a dish of congealed matter with bits of meat suspended within.  Does that sound appetizing to you?  Particularly when you know that the gelatin can be found within the cartilage or made from a meat stock.  At any rate, she is nonplussed in her efforts to accomplish the most daunting of culinary tasks, providing the reader with a highly entertaining feast.

Written somewhat with abondon, Julie & Julia is funny, feisty, and definitely original.  Several  book reviews make a reference to the language within.  May I say it is at times colorful and perverse.  Consider yourself warned.  If this doesn't faze you, you will thoroughly enjoy the read.

Julie Powell is enigmatic!  Her example welcomed me to the world of blogging!

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