Sunday, April 29, 2012

Friends & Family #2: Green Darkness - Anya Seton

Ok a bit of a slow month for me  but the month has been a bit of a wonky month for me work wise. Nevertheless here is book number two for the month, my Mom's favorite book and recommendation for the month. She read this book a while ago and then got my Aunt to read it and she in turn liked it so now it was my turn to give it a go. Generally my Mom and I have similar taste in books however this book isn't one of of typical books we share. Usually my Mom and I share mysteries and this while technically not a mystery certainly has that aspect.

Celia Marsdon looks like everything a proper English lady should be and married to a proper English gentleman. However not is well in Celia's marriage her husband Richard has become withdrawn and then suddenly Celia has suddenly started behaving completely out of character. When the problems in their marriage become life and death the only way to stop a horrible end it to go back, back to the first time they met not the 1960's but further back to 16th Century England. Celia and Richard's story goes back further to when their souls were first introduced bi ack to Tudor England. Saving their lives in the present all goes back to reliving what happened to their souls in the past.

I loved this book there was mystery, drama, romance, and history. Seton created a brilliant story that had you entangled in the web from the get go and keeps you trapped until the very end. The wonderful thing about a book that goes back an forth between two times is that you get to try and connect the characters from one time to the other. Who given what you know about them would be this person and who would be that. The mystery of the story comes from trying to figure out what happened to these two people hundreds of years ago and how the people in their lives are connected both past and present. The history in the book is fantastic. The story spans throughout the three reigns of Henry VIII's children, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. More than a story about love it is a story of England and of the constant state of fluctuation it saw with it's monarchs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Friends and Family #1 : Dies the Fire - S M Stirling

Okay so challenge month one has started and that means for the month of April I'm going to read as many of my Friends & Family favorite books as possible. I started with my Dad's favorite book. He's been trying to get me to read this book for years and I started it a while back but then some books by my favorite authors came up and so I got distracted. So when I made this challenge I made sure to add this book to my last and made sure it was the first book I started with. My Dad is a big Sci-fi/Fantasy buff so a lot of the books he reads tend to fall in those categories which is fine with me because I like those too.

Mike Havel is flying a family to their country home when he looses all power in his plane. Forced to land the plane in the Idaho wilderness he then must lead the family to safety. Quickly he finds that the problems may not be confined to his plane. Meanwhile Juniper Mackenzie is performing in a small town Oregon pub when the lights go out. Cars have stopped where they were and planes are falling out of the sky sending the town into panic and a blazing fire. Juniper with her and daughter and an ever expanding group of friends head to the country and Juniper's cabin to farm and help those who survive the crisis. But while some have helping others on their mind others have nothing but conquest and power.

I have to say that the first time I tried to read this I didn't really get into the book which is probably part of the reason I was so easily pulled away and into other books. This time however when I started reading the book I found that I got pulled into the story. It was interesting to see how a world so dependent on technology fared once they had to do without it. The writing was well down and the characters unique and well developed. I liked that there were two main groups of people experiencing the same phenomenon and that they react to the Change in different ways. One thing I had a hard time with was the quick passage of time. In the beginning the passage of time was consistent and easy to follow. Later time jumped rapidly and took a while to figure out how much time had passed. All in all however I really enjoyed this book. Thanks Dad.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The 9 Month Challenge

Dear Friends, Family, Followers, and Facebook Stalkers,
 I have decided to expand my reading habits and give myself a different challenge every month for the rest of the year. My goal is to read as many books in that month meet the challenge. While I've already picked out the various month challenges I welcome the input of you all for books I can read. Here are the challenges:

April: Friends and Family Favorites
May: Classics
June: Biographies
July: American Fiction/Non-fiction
August: Book/Movie Crossovers
September: Women's Fiction
October: Horror
November: Relgion
December: Kid's Fiction

This is going to be difficult to say the least because there are a lot of books between now and the end of the year that I am going to want to read, books that don't meet the challenge requirements, but that is the point. So here I will be posting all my reviews of my challenge books. Here we go.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

#35: The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown


A funny story (or not really funny more just slightly interesting) about how I stumbled upon this book. We were doing a massive store wide inventory scan and I was scanning the Teen Fiction section when I pulled this book off to scan the barcode. I figured this was probably going to have some copies sent back because there quite a few copies in section. After pushing the button on the scanner I looked at my screen and saw that none of them were going back but also I noticed it was in the wrong section all together. So I checked the book out and read the back of it. It sounded good and I needed something to read so I grabbed a copy.

When you are named after three of Shakespeare's characters you are destined to lead interesting lives. That is the case for the three Andreas sisters Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia who's Shakespeare quoting father named them. When they learn that their mother has breast cancer the three girls return home to help out. But there is more than just being good daughter bringing the three girls back home. There are challenges worthy of any Shakespearean character hovering around these three ladies will they be strong enough to meet these challenges before the final curtain? 

This book was unique in the fact that the entire book was written in collective first person. I'll admit I had a difficult time at first getting used to this but after a while it was easier. I liked it the story was complex and intriguing. With the collective first person I got to be inside all their heads and experience all their stories in a way typical third or first person doesn't allow. It was a great story about family and the connections that bind us together and also the connections that bind us to a place. There is no place like home and sometimes you have to go back there to remember it.

#34: Hunting for Hemingway - Diane Gilbert Madsen


We always go back to the classics. There is always a comparison between the authors we deem the masters, the fathers, the cream of the crop. There is always a standard in everything, writing, painting, acting, directing, everything. What makes them great? What makes theme the standard for everything else? Whatever the reason may be the point is that they are now at least in terms of the work immortal.

 DD McGil has been unlucky in love from day one. So when her boyfriend Scotty goes missing she uses her investigative skills to try and find him. But when a man with a badge shows up at her door and tells her to stop investigating. Looking for a distraction DD jumps at the chance when she is hired to authenticate some lost Hemingway writing. But what could've been an interesting, enjoyable case quickly spins into a murder investigation. With something so valuable hanging in the balance there's no telling who will be next.

One of the things I like about Madsen's books is the fact that she always incorporates a literary icon and connects it in with a modern day mystery. there isn't a lot of technical jargon that needs explaining which makes the story easy to follow. They are enjoyable mysteries that keep you engaged and entertained the whole time. But more than just a good story with Madsen's books you also get history and information about whichever author she is focused one. It's a wonderful blend of mystery and literary history.

#33: The Book Theif - Markus Zusak


Once in a while there are some truly unique ideas and spark your interest and cause you to become captured in the world created by the author. Too often stories are just different tellings of a similar story or even in more frequent they just redo the story. A lack of uniqueness is depressing, not to say that these other stories aren't interesting or enjoyable it's just nice when there is a new story to be told or an old story with a new voice.

WWII Germany: Hitler and his Nazi power are in control and there is only one way of thinking for all others are punishable. Liesel is a foster child who has a habit of stealing the on thing she cannot resist . . . books. Her accordion playing foster father teaches her to read and ignites her passion for books which give her a purpose and something to do during the bomb raids.

Though it is just another story about WWII it is also so much more than that. This is a story about words and their power, the power to heal, the power to distract, their power to give knowledge, and the power to inspire. The story is truly moving for anyone of any age whether young or old you will find in it a compelling story that will move you. A largely unique part of this book is that it's told from the point of view of death. It's interesting to see how Death perceives things and what the world looks like not only through to the story of a young German girl during WWII but from Death itself. I really enjoyed this book it was very well written and entertaining. I found myself captivated by the characters, the places, and the story drawn into a world I sympathize with a world where words have intense power and give life a purpose.

#32: Real Murders - Charlaine Harris


After reading a book that you loved that really captured your interest it can sometimes be hard to shift into another book especially when it doesn't grab you right away. If you're like me you stick it out until the book is done and sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised as the way things turn out.

Aurora Teagarden is a small town librarian who has an interesting past time, she is part of the Real Murders group. Once a month they get together and discuss real life murders that have happened long in the past. But Aurora and the group get a violent shock when the murders they have been discussing start occurring in the present day. Now the experts on the crimes are now the suspects and Aurora must figure out what is going on and who is doing this before she is next,

I found this book a little slow at the start now whether this is coming down off a great read that I had trouble adjusting but I stuck with it nevertheless. Once I was into the book I found that reading it got easier. The characters at first were a little hard for me to connect with but after time I got it. The story line was interesting, recreating past crimes and putting them together. I really enjoyed the historical crime aspect of the story and got pulled in by that. The plot is what kept me going and eventually I found my connection to the characters. Over all pretty good read and definitely worth checking out.

#31: Buried in A Book - Lucy Arlington


Sometimes there is just something about a book that catches your eye so you pick it up and give it a shot. Maybe it's the title, the cover art, or the authors name at any rate you're intrigued so you start reading it. It's this first catch, the first meeting that grabs the readers attention first, and this is why putting time into a creative cover and attention grabbing title is so important. This is what happened with this book. I couldn't tell you what it was about the book that grabbed my attention first but it got it and stuck.

It's hard to loose you job at anytime but for Lila Wilkins as devastating as it is she sees it as an opportunity.  Now she's going to start over and do something she's dreamed of work at a literary agency. When one of the clients drops dead on Lila's first day she is appalled to find that no one seems to be disturbed by it and it's business as usual. But Lila isn't wiling to give up on this just yet.

It's rough when you start reading something new, trying to get into the author's style, characters, etc. One of the things that really grabbed me about this book was the characters. they just jumped off the page as if they were right there in front of me. They were very dynamic and entertaining. The story was also well constructed creating a nice cozy little mystery. I was raving about this book as soon as I finished it telling everyone I knew to read it. You will laugh out loud and enjoy every minute.

#30: Chocolate Covered Murder - Leslie Meier


There is something to be said about a cozy mystery. They're very comforting and simple reads that are perfect for a rainy day, a day at the beach, or just a day when you want some simple fun entertainment. Without question they are well written good books they capture us and transport us for a little while to some where else like all books. The sleuths in these books aren't police officers, forensic experts, or other professionals, no in cozy mysteries the sleuths are everyday people whom circumstances have led to become involved in a murder mystery. I think this is one of the the biggest draws of these type of books is the connection we feel to the main character. They are mother's, fathers, college students, reporters, etc.

Lucy Stone is a small town reporter, mother, and wife. When a new sweet shop move's into the tiny Maine town of Tinker's Cove competition becomes fierce. The town is shocked when a local turns up dead in a rather unusual manner and Lucy is suspicious that it was more than just an accident. When the flirt manager of the new chocolate shop is the next to turn up dead people are less shocked and Lucy senses a connection that no one else seems to recognize. Lucy starts snooping and soon realizes that there is nothing sweet about what is happening in Tinker's Cove.

I have read everyone of the Lucy Stone mysteries and enjoyed everyone for the same reason, they are well written and fun. Leslie Meier has created a town that is like ones I know in Maine and characters that could be. The mysteries aren't so involved that you need a forensic textbook to follow them or the author has to spend half the book explaining the jargon. These mysteries are simple and wonderful. Meier allows you to play detective right along with Lucy it's great!