Wednesday, December 30, 2009

133. The Fallen Kings Number 32

By: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rated 5 Stars

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION


1918: German troops flood back from the Russian front for an all-out assault in France. The under-strength British reel back; the spectre of defeat haunts the land. In the front line, Bertie struggles to bring out his battered battalion; at home Jessie, carrying his child, faces her family's censure. Thomas follows the Romanovs to Ekaterinburg as Russia descends into bloody civil war. Emma drives an ambulance in the FANY, and Jack is shot down. In the last, terrifying year of the war, the Morlands are more than ever in the thick of it, winning through by courage

This is the last book in the series that is available right now. I think the next one, called The Dancing Years is scheduled to come out in May 2010. Naturally this book ended with a cliff hanger *sigh*

Since this book wraps up WWI it looks like a good place to write down some of my random thoughts about the last few books.

Ned - I am very conflicted about how I feel about him. He was a decent guy and I want him to have survived and had some post war happiness. OTOH, I also want Jesse and Bertie to have their hard earned HEA. Can the author figure out how to make both happen?

Maud - her death was just too convenient. In spite of her being such a dull character I thought the author killed her off in rather a cold blooded way. I would have rather seen the divorce happen a year or so earlier so she could have faded off into the sunset with Manvers. No one should die just because the are a boring person and a cold fish.

Thomas and his whole Russian adventure. YAWN. I skimmed those bits. The story was already too busy without injecting that into it. Maybe it ought to have it's own book. Also the author has painted herself into a corner with his story line. I wonder how she will work it all out?

Emma - I went looking on the web to see what the FANY uniforms looked liked and was rewarded with a picture of Emma's fur lined coat and Benson! Picture of WW! era FANY'S It's my guess that she will end up happily married to Knoydart in the next book. He's been crazy about her for years.

Speaking of someone whose been mooning over a woman for years, well that's Sir Freddie Copthal. I gradually came to the conclusion that he has been in love with Violet since forever. He reminds me very much of Freddie Standon in Georgette Heyer's book Cotillion. On the surface a lovable and amiable fool that conceals sharp intelligence and competence.

Holkham - now here's a guy I wouldn't mind CHE cold bloodedly doing away with in order to clear the way for his betters.

Jesse's experiences with the VAD are reminiscent of the same sort of experiences Vera Brittain wrote about in her book A Testament of Youth.

Polly - a silly little twit who needs to get busy and grow up. I hope that Lennie doesn't end up with her. He deserves so much better.

As to the Oliver/Kit speculation - Hmmmmmm. I personally didn't pick up on it but who knows.


Monday, December 28, 2009

132. The Time of my Life


Rated 5 stars

Product Description

In a career spanning more than thirty years, Patrick Swayze has made a name for himself on the stage, the screen, and television. Known for his versatility, passion and fearlessness, he's become one of our most beloved actors.But in February 2008, Patrick announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Always a fighter, he refused to let the disease bring him to his knees, and his bravery has inspired both his legion of fans and cancer patients everywhere. Yet this memoir, written with wisdom and heart, recounts much more than his bout with cancer. In vivid detail, Patrick describes his Texas upbringing, his personal struggles, his rise to fame with North and South, his commercial breakthroughs in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and the soul mate who's stood by his side through it all: his wife, writer and director Lisa Niemi.
A behind-the-scenes look at a Hollywood life and a remarkable love, this memoir is both entertainment and inspiration. Patrick and Lisa's marriage is a journey of two lives intertwined and lived as one--throughout their years in Hollywood and at home on their working ranch outside Los Angeles, and culminating in the hope and wisdom they've imparted to all who know them. This book will open the door for families, individuals, and husbands and wives to grow, bond and discover entirely new levels of love and sharing, proving that life shouldn't be lived as a series of endings, but rather as the beginning of greater strength and love.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

131. Bed of Roses


By: Nora Roberts
Rated 4 Stars
From Library


 This was a quick read.  Light, fluffy and a fun read.  I am so glad Roberts has gone back to straight, traditional, formulaic romance.  At least for this series.  I needed a nice steamy little  book right now.

Publisher Summary

As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion-kiss for blistering kiss-they must trust in their history...and in their hearts.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

130. Robinson Crusoe


Rated 4.5 Stars
Unabridged Audio Book
13.3 hours long
From libravox

I can't remember if I already read this book or not.  If I did it must have been in a greatly abridged version.  Anyway it mostly felt first time to me.  It did yet preachy and prosy sometimes but overall it was a great story.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

One of the first novels ever written, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), the classic adventure story of a man marooned on an island for nearly 30 years, is part of our culture. From Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) to the recent movie Castaway, the elemental situation of the person suddenly alone, who must make a life in a dangerous environment, continues to enthrall all ages.

The story begins with the universal quest: the young man in Britain, torn between his safe home and his hunger for adventure, breaks away from his loving father and sails away into the unknown. After a series of harrowing escapes, he's shipwrecked on a desert island. His lively first-person account shows how his intelligence and education help him survive for many years, and how he uses technology, including guns and tools salvaged from the ship. He sets up home, reads the Bible, finds a parrot as a pet, and even devises a calendar to keep track of time. Then one day he finds a human footprint: "Was it someone who could save me and take me back to civilization? Or was it a savage who landed here?" When some "savages" arrive in several canoes, he uses his guns to get rid of them, and he rescues one of their captives, a handsome fellow with very dark skin. Delighted to have a companion at last, Crusoe names the newcomer Friday (since Crusoe found him on Friday). Crusoe teaches "my man Friday" to speak English, fire a gun, carve a canoe, and clothe his nakedness, and they live happily together. Later they rescue a white man and Friday's father from a group of "savages," and, eventually, they all return to their homes.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

129. Breaking the Bank



By Yona Zeldis McDonough
Rated:  2 Stars

Once again I find myself not liking a book that others loved.  I went to Amazon and checked the reviews and its rated 4 1/2 stars.  I need to steer completely away from books with paranormal themes I guess.  But its really wasn't the paranormal aspect of it that I disliked so much but the characters I couldn't buy into.

The story goes that the main character, a single Mother whose husband walked out on her goes to an ATM to make a withdrawal and it starts spitting out more cash than she asked for without debiting her account along  instructions to use it well.

At first, it seems to be everything she'd wished for—her financial burden is lifted, her daughter's mood lightens and Mia even begins to fall in love—but not all of the changes brought about are for the better. Unfortunately, character development is nonexistent, the big payoff (such as it was were) is a letdown, and the plot is too thin to support a checking of disbelief or the book's length.

Friday, December 4, 2009

128. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously - DNF


By Jullie Powell
Rated: DNF
From:  Library, Thank Goodness

I heard great things about the movie that was based on this book.  I haven't seen it myself but I sure hope it is better than this book.

This book was really not about cooking, or Julia Child or even about blogging.  This was one great long whiney, profane rant with a lot of boring libral politics thrown in.  (And I'm a liberal for heavens sake and still could not stomach it.)

This person could not write.  Any creativity the book managed to come up with the author leached off of her husband.  BLECH!

127. My Cousin Caroline



By Rebecca Ann Collins
Rated 3 Stars
From:  Library

There was nothing new in this book.  It was a rehash from the first five.  I was very disappointed in it.

PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION:

In this installment of The Pemberley Chronicles series, Mr. Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth's cousin Caroline Gardiner take center stage.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Caroline develops from a pretty young girl into a woman of intelligence and passion, embodying some of Austen's own values. Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, and the Wickhams all move through the story as Caroline falls in love, marries, and raises her children. Caroline rejects the role of a compliant Victorian wife and mother, instead becoming a spirited and outspoken advocate of reformist causes in spite of the danger of scandal.
Caroline's advocacy of reform, undaunted by criticism, demonstrates strength in a time when a woman's role was severely restricted.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

126. The Foreign Field #31



By Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

It's a measure of how badly I have been hooked on this ongoing literary soap opera that I purchased this book and the one following from amazon uk.  I almost never do that but in this case I just could not wait the year or so until they were available over here.  {sigh}

Product Description
It's 1917 and the Allies are determined to finally defeat a weakened Germany - everything is building up to the summer's Big Push. Germany strikes back with U-boat attacks to starve England out, giant aeroplanes to bomb London, and the cunning withdrawal to the Hindenberg Line. Every Briton must do his bit, and the Morlands are involved at every stage: fighting and nursing in France, stoically surviving at home - and finding love where they can along the way. Continuing the great saga of the Morland dynasty, The Foreign Field carries its members into a new set of conflicts and tests their courage to the limit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

125. The Measure of Days, #30

Rated 4.5 Stars

Product Description

1916. England is at war, and the Morland family is in the thick of it, with two men already in France and three more soon to go. Tragedy strikes Morland Place when Jessie's husband Ned is reported missing on the Western Front. His father launches a desperate bid to find him, but the family fear the worst. Jessie, in mourning and frustrated by her job as an auxiliary nurse, goes to London to work in a military hospital. There she is reunited with her old friend Oliver, posted to the capital under the RAMC. Also in London is Violet, whose affair with the brilliant artist Octavian Laidislaw is about to erupt in scandal ...The Measure of Days paints a portrait of a family, and a nation, at war, at a pivotal point in history. With the onset of conscription, no one is left unaffected. Every man must hold himself in readiness; and every woman knows that when she says goodbye, it might be for the last time.

124. The Burning Roses, #29


By Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rated 4.5 Stars
Format:  Book

This is book 29 in The Morland Dynasty Series.  It seems I forgot to finish the journal entry for this book at the time I first read it.  At the time I had started to get burn out on this series at book 11 so I skipped ahead to be beginning of WWI, a period which I am particularly fascinated with.

Product Description

In 1915 the first euphoria of the war has worn off, but the nation is more determined than ever to win. When Ned is sent to the Front ahead of his battalion, Jessie, already involved in various charity works, feels the need to do more and becomes an auxiliary nurse. But life on the wards is harder than she expects. Meanwhile, Helen and Jack settle in a home of their own at last, and Helen takes on a surprise war role of her own. And for Violet in London, a chance meeting with talented young artist threatens to destroy her calm and ordered life. With stalemate on the Eastern Front, everything now hangs on the new September offensive on the Western Front, the Battle of Loos. Both Ned and Bertie will be leading their men over the top, leaving the rest of the family to pray for their safe return.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

123. The White Road, #28

Rated 4.5 Stars
From:Amazon

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:

August 1914. In England, the outbreak of war is greeted with euphoria. The nation is inflamed with a desire to "teach Germany a lesson," and thousands flock to volunteer, believing the war will end by Christmas. Teddy Morland is proud to see his nephews, Jack and Ned, in the forefront. Soon, the family seat, Morland Place—untouched by war since Cromwell’s time—begins to feel the breath of war as its horses are requisitioned and its servants volunteer; then brutal reality sobers national high spirits as the death toll in France rises. When Christmas finally comes, the war is far from over, and nine in ten of the men who marched, singing, down the road to Mons have fallen. The White Road continues the saga of the Morland dynasty, ushering its members into conflicts that will alter their lives forever.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

122. The Restless Sea, #27

Rated 4.25 Stars

Well here I am back into my soap opera.  I took some time off from this series because some of the characters were getting tedious and predictable but lately there has been some posts in the Yahoo Group for the Moreland Dynasty and I got sucked back in.

I jumped back in 11 books down the line from where I left off and at this time I have not intention of trying to go back of read them all to catch up.  I am fine with where I picked back up. There is really no other way to describe this series other than an ongoing historical soap opera.

PRODUCT PDESCRIPTION:

England still conducts herself with Edwardian confidence; but beneath the surface cracks are breaking society apart. Socialism, strikes and riots, social unrest, and then the disasters of the Titanic and Captain Scott shake the ordered world. Among the Morlands, Jessie and Violet struggle to adapt to the demands of married life; Jack, unlucky in love, designs aeroplanes and trains pilots for the new Royal Flying Corps; and Anne, as the struggle for the Vote becomes more violent, takes comfort in the friendship of an unusual young woman. Meanwhile, the war no-one wants comes ever closer

120. Testament of Youth

""


By Vera Brittain
Rated 5+
From Library
Recommended by Connie on Bookflurries

This is one of the most profoundly moving books I have ever read.

"When war broke out in August 1914, 21-year-old Vera Brittai was planning on enrolling at Somerville College, Oxford. Her father told her she wouldn't be able to go: "In a few months' time we should probably all find ourselves in the Workhouse!" he opined. Brittain had hoped to escape the Northern provinces, but the war seemingly dashed her plans. "It is not, perhaps, so very surprising that the War at first seemed to me an infuriating personal interruption rather than a world-wide catastrophe."

"Her father eventually relented, however, and she was allowed to attend. By the end of her first year, she had fallen in love with a young soldier and resolved to become active in the war effort by volunteering as a nurse--turning her back on what she called her "provincial young-ladyhood." Brittain suffered through 12-hour days by reminding herself that nothing she endured was worse than what her fiancé, Roland, experienced in the trenches. Roland was expected home on leave for Christmas 1915; on December 26, Brittain received news that he had been killed at the front. Ten months later Brittain herself was sent to Malta and then to France to serve in the hospitals nearer the front, where she witnessed firsthand the horrors of battle. When peace finally came, Brittain had also lost her brother Edward and two close friends. As she walked the streets of London on November 11, 1918--Armistice Day--she felt alone in the crowds:"

"For the first time I realised, with all that full realisation meant, how completely everything that had hitherto made up my life had vanished with Edward and Roland, with Victor and Geoffrey. The War was over; a new age was beginning; but the dead were dead and would never return."

First published in 1933, Testament of Youth established Brittain as one of the best-loved authors of her time. Her crisp, clear prose and searing honesty make this unsentimental memoir of a generation scarred by war a classic."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Castle The Complete First Season


Rated 5 Stars
This series was a little hard for me to get into right at first because I had to get over the Mal thing. I also had some problems with the part of Kate. I took a great effort suspend my disbelief that a woman detective, working in an all male environment came to work every day in high heels, too tight pants, and shirts unbuttoned half way to her navel.

Also Castle always looks like he needs a shave. I understand that they (the shows producers or whoever it is that makes these decisions) are probably going for a rugged sexy look that they hope is a turn on for the young (and maybe not so young) ladies watching. I finally accepted that this series was being marketed too a much younger audience than me so got over it.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:
One of the best shows to emerge midway through the 2008-2009 TV season, Castle has a cast and a sense of humor that set it apart from the normal police procedural. Nathan Fillion plays Rick Castle, a bestselling author of pulpy crime novels who's called in to assist the New York police when a serial killer begins committing copycat murders based on situations in his books. Castle helps crack the case, then decides to kill off his longtime character and create a new one, named "Nikki Heat," and research her by shadowing Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Much to her irritation, he pulls strings with the mayor's office to embed himself in the department, and helps her solve a wide range of whodunits, including a woman drowned in a bath tub full of motor oil, another frozen and suspended at a construction site, and a corpse stuck in a clothes dryer. To alleviate the grim proceedings, Fillion is in his element as the wisecracking Castle, while adding another ray of sunshine is Castle's impossibly likeable teenage daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn), who lives with Castle and his mom (Susan Sullivan), a former Broadway star. Castle's circle of poker buddies includes veteran TV writer-producer Stephen J. Cannell and author James Patterson playing themselves. Like many (or most) he-and-she cop shows, there's an element of "Will they or won't they…?", but the beautiful Katic keeps Castle at bay by radiating cool. Clearly she's a woman who wants to separate herself from her emotionally draining and predominantly male job, so it makes it all the more enjoyable when she momentarily steps out of that mode, such as an impromptu appearance at his book signing. Much to the relief of Fillion fans who feared their man was a show killer after the aborted runs of such shows as Firefly and Drive, Castle was renewed for a second, full season.

 

The Scarlett Pimpernell (1934)


Rated 5+ Stars

Out of the many versions of this movie this is my very favorite one.  Merle Oberon and Leslie Howard are perfect for the roles of Marguarete St. Just (Lady Blakney) and Sir Percy Blackney.

Technically the quality of this DVD is very poor.  The sound track hisses all the way through and the film (black and white of course) fades in and out.  However the acting is so superb that I felt like I got more than my $10 worth, which is what I paid for it on amazon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

121. Cutting for Stone




Rated 5 Stars
From Library

This is a book that has surprised me. I checked it out from the library on a whim and It;s probably going to be my best book of this year for me.  I stayed way late to finish it and am darn near cross eyed.

Publisher Summary

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others

Saturday, November 7, 2009

119. Hugh and Bess


By Susan Higgenbotham
Rated 2.5
From:  Libarary


I  thought this was a very dull book.   It's a medeavil romance and if I hadn't been such a fast read I would not have finished it.  The author never came up with a decent plot.  Lots of atmosphere though.  Like a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion but no beef patty.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Forced to marry Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, Bess de Montacute, just 13 years old, is appalled at his less-than-desirable past. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he really loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past, can Hugh and Bess somehow make their marriage work?Just as walls break down and love begins to grow, the merciless plague endangers all whom the couple holds dear, threatening the life and love they have built.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

118. Her Fearful Symmetry





By Audrey Niffenegger
Rated 3.5
From:  Library


I finally finished this book and am going to rate it about 3.5 stars.  It got way too crazy at the end.  Shaun however loved it but she is way more into the paranormal than I am. {sigh}



PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION:


a haunting tale about the complications of love, identity, and sibling rivalry. The novel opens with the death of Elspeth Noblin, who bequeaths her London flat and its contents to the twin daughters of her estranged twin sister back in Chicago. These 20-year-old dilettantes, Julie and Valentina, move to London, eager to try on a new experience like one of their obsessively matched outfits. Historic Highgate Cemetery, which borders Elspeth's home, serves as an inspired setting as the twins become entwined in the lives of their neighbors: Elspeth's former lover, Robert; Martin, an agoraphobic crossword-puzzle creator; and the ethereal Elspeth herself, struggling to adjust to the afterlife. 




Saturday, October 31, 2009

117. Billy Boyle

By:  James R. Benn
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

This is a mystery series that is right up my alley.  I will be reading more of these books.

LIBRARY SUMMARY:

Billy Boyle is the youngest member of the Boyle clan in the Boston Police Department. A tightly knit Irish family, their fierce loyalties extend little beyond each other, Ireland, and the police force where Billy’s father and uncles also serve. The year is 1941, and they have paved the way for Billy’s promotion to Detective through the time-honored traditions of politics and patronage. Then World War II breaks out. The family’s political connections secure Billy a commission and post with a distant relative of Mrs. Boyle’s, a general serving with the War Plans Department in Washington D.C. where Billy is to safely sit out the war. Unfortunately for the Boyles, that unknown general is Dwight David Eisenhower, who whisks Billy off to England when he is appointed Commander of U.S. forces in Europe . This is definitely not what Billy expected, nor is really qualified for. He must rely on his native wits to keep himself alive and avoid humiliating his family as he conducts his first investigation into the death of an official of the Norwegian government in exile.
Billy Boyle tells the story of the beginning of Billy’s transformation from a self-centered wise guy interested only in his own survival, to a reluctantly heroic figure. Typically American, Billy never loses his disdain for authority or the cynicism of a city cop as he slowly grows into his role as Ike’s secret investigator. The climatic scene of the story takes place in Nordland, along the rocky coastline and the rugged mountains of this northern-most province in Norway. Nordland, the land of legends, a distant place to which a hero must journey to seek the truth, and which reveals to him his true self, changing him forever. It is here, where according to the Norse legends, ‘by a strand of corpses…heavy streams must be waded through by breakers of pledges and murderers’.

120. Evil for Evil


By:  James R. Benn
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library
Once again I am reading a series out of order but I don't think order is all that important in mysteries where the stories stand pretty much alone.  I will definitely be reading more of these books.

LIBRARY SUMMARY:

Billy Boyle is sent to Northern Ireland, at the request of the British government, to investigate links between the Irish Republican Army and the Germans.  Automatic weapons have been stolen from a U.S. Army base, and an IRA man has been found dead, shot in the head and left with a pound note in his hand; the mark of the informer.  Billy is forced to confront not only danger from German agents, IRA killers and Unionist thugs, but also his own family history, which reaches back generations to the starvation days of the Irish Potato Blight.  

120. Rizzo's War


 By:  Lou Manfredo
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Library

I liked this book more than I thought I was going to.  I was expecting a typical cops and robbers story and that is what this was, only better written than most.  It also had a good back story that helped give the characters more interest than usual.


Publisher Summary


Rizzo’s War, Lou Manfredo’s stunningly authentic debut, partners a rookie detective with a seasoned veteran on his way to retirement in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

“There’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.” This is the refrain of Joe Rizzo, a decades-long veteran of the NYPD, as he passes on the knowledge of his years of experience to his ambitious new partner, Mike McQueen, over a year of riding together as detectives in the Sixty-second Precinct in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. McQueen is fresh from the beat in Manhattan, and Bensonhurst might as well be China for how different it is. They work on several cases, some big, some small, but the lesson is always the same. Whether it’s a simple robbery or an attempted assault, Rizzo’s saying always seems to bear out.

When the two detectives are given the delicate task of finding and returning the runaway daughter of a city councilman, who may or may not be more interested in something his daughter has taken with her than in her safety, the situation is much more complex. By the end of Rizzo and McQueen’s year together, however, McQueen is not surprised to discover that even in those more complicated cases, Rizzo is still right—there’s no wrong, there’s no right, there just is.

Rizzo’s War is an introduction to a wonderful new voice in crime fiction in the Big Apple, ringing with authenticity, full of personality, and taut with the suspense of real, everyday life in the big city. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

119. The Scarlet Pimpernel


By: Emmuska Orczy
Rated: 4 Stars
From: Library, Unabaridged Audio Book

Years ago the 1934 movie version of this book was on TV and I fell in love with both the story and the British actor Leslie Howard who did such a marvelous job of playing the Scarlet Pimpernel/ Sir Percy Blakeney as he seeks to help French aristocrats escape the guillotine during the French Revolution.

The style and writing is badly dated but the story is an excellent game of cat and mouse. Margaurite comes across as a stupid twit in the book but fares much better in the more modern movie versions where the character benefits from some badly needed updating.  Sir Percey however is wonderful as originally written.

The plot of the book is that , Blakeney adopts a masked identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel to remain anonymous as  he slips in and out of France to rescue people from their fate on the Guillotine. 

He's backed up by a league of 19 men who avow they are joining TSP in his endeavors for the thrill of the gamble, the sheer blood rushing ride of it all- that and the fact they are thumbing their nose at the French, which to British (and some of us Americans as well) is always fun!

The French, of course, detest this interference in their affairs and set out to trap and kill the Pimpernel at all costs. As part of his effort to deflect suspicion from himself, he plays the fool in every day life and he does it well. His own wife considers him a useless fop... and that's where the story really gets interesting.

His wife the expatriate Marguerite St. Just, now Lady Blakeney and the head of society in England is blackmailed by the evil Chauvelin, a revolutionary whohow has sworn to capture the Scarlett Pimpernell.  Margaurite puts him on the trail of the Pimpernel only to discover afterwards the identity of the Pimpernel herself.  Margaurite takes off to try to find her husband herself and warn him that his identity is known.

Will Chauvelin and the French Revolutionary Government find and kill the Pimpernel before she can find and save him?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

118. If I Stay


By:  Gayle Foreman
Rated 5 Stars
From:  Library

This is a truly beautiful book.  It is so very well written that it really tears at your heart when you read it.  My son asked me why I would read a book if it made me cry but my daughter in law just patted me on the arm.  When I told her what it was about she teared up but said she didn't think she could read it.  Too big a wuss.  It is sad.  But so beautiful.  Oh, I already said that didn't I? {sigh}

Publisher Summary
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she fi nds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...
A sophisticated, layered, and heart achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make — and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

116. Crashing Through

By:  Robert Kurson
Rated:  4.5
From:  Library
Recommended by Connie

I ordered this book after Connie listed it on Bookflurries and just finished.  It was very very interesting.  Not only was the guy inspirational but I found the details about how seeing is so much more complex than just using ones eyes.  Thank you so much for pointing me at this book.


PUBLISHER SUMMARY:
In his critically acclaimed bestseller Shadow Divers, Robert Kurson explored the depths of history, friendship, and compulsion. Now Kurson returns with another thrilling adventure–the stunning true story of one man’s heroic odyssey from blindness into sight.

Mike May spent his life crashing through. Blinded at age three, he defied expectations by breaking world records in downhill speed skiing, joining the CIA, and becoming a successful inventor, entrepreneur, and family man. He had never yearned for vision.

Then, in 1999, a chance encounter brought startling news: a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery could restore May’s vision. It would allow him to drive, to read, to see his children’s faces. He began to contemplate an astonishing new world: Would music still sound the same? Would sex be different? Would he recognize himself in the mirror? Would his marriage survive? Would he still be Mike May?

The procedure was filled with risks, some of them deadly, others beyond May’s wildest dreams. Even if the surgery worked, history was against him. Fewer than twenty cases were known worldwide in which a person gained vision after a lifetime of blindness. Each of those people suffered desperate consequences we can scarcely imagine.

There were countless reasons for May to pass on vision. He could think of only a single reason to go forward. Whatever his decision, he knew it would change his life.

Beautifully written and thrillingly told, Crashing Through is a journey of suspense, daring, romance, and insight into the mysteries of vision and the brain. Robert Kurson gives us a fascinating account of one man’s choice to explore what it means to see–and to truly live.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

115. Wings of Fire

BY:  Charles Todd
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

I am reading this series all out of order but I don't think it makes the slightest bit of difference since there is no back story running through any of them.  Each one is pretty much a total stand alone.  I love this series.  It is so well done and the period is probably my favorite one to read about in all of history.


PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION:
Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is dispatched to Cornwall to investigate three deaths?seemingly a double-suicide and an accident?that have occurred within weeks in the Trevelyan family. Still recovering from shell shock sustained while serving in France during WWI, Rutledge carries in his head the challenging voice of Hamish MacLeod, a Scottish soldier about whose battlefront death Rutledge experiences profound guilt. In the village of Borcombe, Rutledge learns that one of the apparent suicides, Olivia Marlowe, wrote as O.A. Manning, a poet whose work had uncannily captured both the misery of war and the passion and beauty of love. Olivia Marlowe and her devoted half-brother Nicholas Cheney died of poisoning within hours of each other. Another half-brother, Stephen FitzHugh, the only family member opposed to selling the family estate where Olivia and Nicholas lived, fell down the stairs to his death not long after the funeral. Searching for answers about the deaths and for an understanding of the poet, Rutledge finds himself on a decades-long trail of cleverly disguised murders. Todd's cast is sometimes hard to keep straight, but readers will find it hard to resist following Rutledge on this emotionally intense quest. Memorable characters, subtle plot twists, the evocative seaside setting and descriptions of architecture, the moors and the sea fully reward the attention this novel commands.

114. Saffron Dreams

By Shaila Abdullah
Rated 3 Stars
From:  Library

My main problem with this story is that I never developed a connection with Arissa the main character.  She came across to me as a rather emotionally shallow person.  Perhaps it was the authors writing style that bothered me but I felt like the whole book was skimming the surface of her life and her feelings.

I realize Arissa had multiple problems to deal with, a handicapped child, being a widow and single mother and being a muslim in America.  But the only thing in the whole book I felt like she truly connected with was her child and that her relationship with him was almost an obsession.  I thought she used her in-laws and was glad for them when they finally walked away from her.  I dunno, this book just didn't really click for me. 

LIBRARY SUMMARY:

Pakistani-born Arissa Illahi moves to New York City to be with her husband, who had taken a job at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant to allow time for completing his novel. He perishes when the towers collapse, and Arissa nearly crumples herself as she struggles with tremendous grief, a troublesome pregnancy, and the various trials she faces as a Muslim when others ignorantly associate her with the terrorists. Abdullah excels at examining the complexity of moving on after this historical event, especially from Arissa's unique perspective as a writer and artist struggling to rear a child with special needs. But this debut novel deals with more than just survival in the aftermath of 9/11, also examining the nature of motherhood by juxtaposing Arissa's supportive mother-in-law and less than maternal mother.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

113. The Widow's Season


By Laura Brodie
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

I'm not going to say a single word about this book for fear of giving even the slightest spoiler other than to say I really liked it.

LIBRARY SUMMARY:

A mesmerizing debut novel about love, grief, and the ghosts who show up where we least expect them.

Sarah McConnell''s husband had been dead for three months when she saw him in the grocery store.

What does a woman do when she''s thirty-nine, childless, and completely alone for the first time in her life? Does it mean sheÂ's crazy to think she sees her late husband beside a display of pumpkins? Or is it just what people do, a natural response to grief that will fade in time? ThatÂ's what Sarah McConnell''s friends told her, that it was natural, would last a season, and then fade away.

But what if there was another answer? What if he was really there? They never found the body, after all. What if he is still here somehow, and about to walk back into her life?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

114. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much


By: Allison Hoover Bartlet
Rated 5 Stars
From:  Library

Before I read this book I thought that I was a book collector.  Now I know better.  My little piddling number of books that are cluttering up 4 large bookcases and the stacks of books on various surfaces of my house are NOTHING when it comes to being a real Bibliomaniac.  I am very, very small potatoes.

This is a very interesting book and it certainly increased my knowledge of antique and rare books and the lengths that thieves will go to acquire them.  Not just for money but for the joy or perhaps the obsession just to collect them.   I had no idea of  the  threat to rare book dealers was as bad as was shown in this book. I know that rare books are sometimes worth a fortune, and that some other rare documents have quite a lot of value; the theft of such items doesn't surprise me. But what does surprise me is the lengths to which people will go to collect even less-valuable items.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is about such a person--John Charles Gilkey. The author takes the reader on a journey through collectors' and book lovers' obsessions and follows the trail of Gilkey, a notorious book thief, across the country to the various individuals once targeted by the book obsessed man. One central figure is Ken Sanders, who takes on the role of book detective to hunt down Gilkey (previously unknown), and to retrieve the stolen items to return them to their rightful owners. Bartlett follows the trail, putting together the pieces, digging into the mind of the book obsessed and, ultimately, the mind of Gilkey, to put together a book as addictive as its key characters.

Monday, October 12, 2009

112. The Natural Laws of Good Luck


By:  Ellen Graf
Rated 1 Star, DNF
From:  Library

I am the type of person who finds a lot of things about life amusing.  Sometimes I am the only person in a room laughing.  So I was shocked when I discovered that contrary to the reviews I did not find one single things about this book funny.

For the most part, I really enjoy enjoy learning about other people lives and experiences, especially from other cultures. So, The Natural Laws of Good Luck sounded like a wonderful book, but sadly it was not a book for me.

This book came across to me as being about two people who were more alike than unalike, people who never thought a single thing through, never looked before they leaped even from the highest cliff and got a lot of perverse pleasure out of doing every thing the hardest way possible and being delighted with slip shod results.  I got so tired of them both blundering their way along and never leaning from their experiences that I finally just gave up in disgust.

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:
 
The quirky and funny story of a woman in upstate New York who marries a man from China whom she barely knows. They don’t share a language or a culture, but together they discover what matters most—a story of taking risks, culture clash, and the journey to real love.

Monday, October 5, 2009

111. Higher Authority

By:  Stephen White
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library
Recommended by Stacey

Good Grief, this books certainly paints an unflattering picture of the LDS Church.  This is the third book with a religious theme I've read this month.  I need to move on.  But as a mystery it was excellent, as Stacey's recommendations usually are.  I'm getting really hung up on Stephen White.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:

Attorney Lauren Crowder recommends a Salt Lake City lawyer for her younger sister, who has accused her former boss, an impeccably Mormon woman with high political and church connections, of sexual harassment. Crowder assists a private investigator in gathering information on the potentially explosive case, but murder intervenes: someone kills the P.I. and the former boss. Crowder then calls upon boyfriend Alan Gregory (Private Practices, Viking, 1993) to outmaneuver the ubiquitous, corrupt tentacles of the Mormon church.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

110. The Family


The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

By:  Jeff Sharlet
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Library


I heard about this book on the internet when it was recommended by a blogger who was writing about my Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor who is a member of this organization.  It's enough to make you want to throw up.


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:
 

A journalist's penetrating look at the untold story of christian fundamentalism's most elite organization, a self-described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful
They are the Family—fundamentalism's avant-garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe. They consider themselves the new chosen—congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells, to pray and plan for a "leadership led by God," to be won not by force but through "quiet diplomacy." Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside its walls.
The Family is about the other half of American fundamentalist power—not its angry masses, but its sophisticated elites. Sharlet follows the story back to Abraham Vereide, an immigrant preacher who in 1935 organized a small group of businessmen sympathetic to European fascism, fusing the far right with his own polite but authoritarian faith. From that core, Vereide built an international network of fundamentalists who spoke the language of establishment power, a "family" that thrives to this day. In public, they host Prayer Breakfasts; in private, they preach a gospel of "biblical capitalism," military might, and American empire. Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao as leadership models, the Family's current leader, Doug Coe, declares, "We work with power where we can, build new power where we can't."
Sharlet's discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the cold war, and the no-holds-barred economics of globalization. The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not "What do fundamentalists want?" but "What have they already done?"
Part history, part investigative journalism, The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power, a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism's new frontiers. No other book about the right has exposed the Family or revealed its far-reaching impact on democracy, and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

109. The Fruit of her Hands


By: Michelle Cameron
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Jani



Beautifully written, absorbing novel set in the thirteenth century.  Highly recommended.

Product Description

Crafting a richly textured, absorbing novel based on the life of her ancestor, renowned thirteenth-century Jewish scholar Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg, Michelle Cameron paints a page-turning and deeply personal portrait of Judaism in medieval France and Germany. Imagined through the eyes of Rabbi Meir's wife, Shira, this opulent drama reveals a devout but independent woman who struggles to preserve her religious traditions while remaining true to herself as she and her family witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Raised by her widowed rabbi father and a Christian nursemaid in Normandy, Shira is a free-spirited, inquisitive girl whose love of learning shocks the community. But in Meir ben Baruch, a brilliant scholar, she finds her soul mate and a window on the world of Talmudic scholarship that fascinates her.

Married to Meir in Paris, Shira blossoms as a wife and mother, savoring the intellectual and social challenges that come with being the wife of a prominent scholar. After every copy of the Talmud in Paris is confiscated and burned, Shira and her family seek refuge in Germany. Yet even there they experience bloody pogroms and intensifying hatred. As Shira weathers heartbreak and works to find a middle ground between two warring religions, she shows her children and grandchildren how to embrace the joys of life, both secular and religious.

A multigenerational novel that captures a hitherto little-known part of history with deep emotion and riveting authenticity -- and includes an illuminating author's note and a Hebrew glossary -- The Fruit of Her Hands is a powerful novel about the enduring spirit of the Jewish people.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

108. An Echo in the Bone

By Diana Gabaldon
Rated 3 1/2 Stars
From:  Library

This is what, the seventh book in the Outlander Series?

I had a hard time getting into this one.  I thought it was a little slow and a whole lot choppy. The story abruptly bounced back and forth between POV's, centuries and continents with out any lead in and often didn't leave me there long enough to start getting a feel for the story.  Some readers apparently can handle all this careening around but I am not one of them.

Also there were some story lines that left me thinking *why*? Why reintroduce a story line that really did not have anything to do with what was happening so far in the book.  If she is going to flesh out this storyline in a later book it seems to me that she ought to have left it for the next book and not further confused things.

Oh well . . .  this is just me and my take on thins.  My favorite parts were the William, Ian, and the Hunters.  Here is good fodder for a future book, maybe with a much older Jem and Amanda thrown to keep the time travel thing going.

But overall, after a slow start the book started picking up for me about half way through.  About 3/4 of the way through I finally figured out what Roger and Brianna were doing.  Up to then they had just sort of been there without adding anything to the story.  Obviously Diana was setting up for the next book.

My one actual criticism of the book and not just my opinion was the editing.  While this book was more tightly edited than some of hers have been someone was obviously not keeping count of how many scenes particular conversations were held.  Ian and William had the same conversation three times and Jenny and Clair the same one twice.  Publishers obviously don't spend much of their budgets on competent editorial support for their authors.

Monday, September 21, 2009

107. How to be a Bad Bird Watcher

By:  Simon Barnes
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library
Recommended by Julie

Product Description

Look out the window.
See a bird.
Enjoy it.
CONGRATULATIONS!
You are now a bad birdwatcher.

In this refreshingly irreverent introduction to the subject, Simon Barnes makes birdwatching simple—and above all, enjoyable.

Anyone who has ever looked up at the sky or gazed out the window knows a thing or two about birds. Who doesn’t know the brisk purpose of a sparrow, the airy insouciance of the seagull, the dramatic power of the hawk? Birds are beautiful, you can encounter them anywhere, and they embody one of the primal human aspirations: flight.

Birdwatching starts, simply, with a habit of looking. You let birds into your life a little at a time. You remember bird names as you would the names of people you’ve enjoyed meeting. And if you share your looking and listening with other people, so much the better. Birdwatching might even help you get along with the father who never approved of anything you did—as it did for Barnes.

As Barnes shares his relaxed principles of birdwatching, he also shows us the power of place: the elation of spotting kingfishers in Kashmir, hawks over the Great Lakes, or the birds closest to home. And he shows how, no matter where you live, birds can connect you to the greater glory of life.

Funny, enthusiastic, and inspiring, How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher demonstrates why you don’t have to have fancy binoculars or lifetime checklists to discover a new world. So, begin the habit of looking. See that bird . . . Enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

106. The Two Towers


By:  J. R. R. Tolkien
Rated:  5 Stars
From:  Library, Unabridged Audio Book

Even though I have practically memorized the movies there is so many more details in the books.  And I am learning that I can get deeper into a story by listening than I can reading because I am forced to listen at the pace the reader reads.  

The Two Towers continues the story begun in The Fellowship of the Ring but introduces new characters, more battle scenes and a nearly palpable feeling of impending doom as Sauron and Saruman search for the ring.

In this part the Fellowship disburses with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli setting off in one direction to rescue Merry and Pippen who have been captured by Orcs.  Frodo and Sam set out on their own in another to try to reach Gondor and destroy the ring.  This part of the story starts to show more directly the dual nature of good and evil that is at the heart of each of the three books. Every element of good has an opposite. There is the dark tower and the good tower of Gondor (hence, the "Two Towers"). There is the good hobbit Frodo and his opposite Gollum who is a distortion of what was once a hobbit-like creature. There are elves (good) and orcs. (bad) There is the good wizard Gandalf and the evil Sauron. I have not figured out yet where the Dwarfs fit in except that Gimli was a good dwarf but I am not sure his goodness represented all dwarfs. {shrug}

Yet, while these pairs are opposite, they are also linked. Even Saruman was at one time a good personable fellow. Gandalf fears the ring because he can see himself becoming like Saruman and Sauron.

This book introduces my most favorite characters in the book, the enormous tree like creatures - the Ents. They are so charismatic and lovable They steal the show.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

105. Pardonable Lies


By: Jackqeline Winspeard
Rated: 4 Stars
From: Library

Publisher Summary:

In the third novel of this bestselling series, London investigator Maisie Dobbs faces grave danger as she returns to the site of her most painful WWI memories to resolve the mystery of a pilot’s death

A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world.

In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission also brings her together once again with her college friend Priscilla Evernden, who served in France and who lost three brothers to the war—one of whom, it turns out, had an intriguing connection to the missing Ralph Lawton

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

104. The Game of Kings

By Dorothy Dunnett
Rated:  At least 10 Stars on a scale of 1/5
From: Library Interlibrary Loan
Version:  Unabridged Audio CD'

Listening to this audio version has been a delightful experience.  I have learned that I must read way too fast because by listening I am forced to the slower pace of the person who is reading it and I am finding all sorts of details that my eyes had apparently skipped over when I first read, and then re-read this series. 

I don't think it would matter how many times you read these books, there would be some new for you there every single time. There are subtle little insights into characters and their motivations scattered everywhere. Dorothy sure packed a heck of a punch on her old Olivetti typewriter. 

I have already ordered Queen's Play in the same format from Interlibrary Loan.  But I don't think the last two books in the Lymond Chronicles have been recorded so I guess I will have to read Ringed Castle and Checkmate with my own little eyes.

Synopsis

The Game of Kings: First in The Lymond Saga.
It's August 1547, and unrest in Europe is rife. Scotland, nominally ruled by 4 year old Queen Mary, is heaving with intrigue - and hot gossip. The notorious rebel, Crawford of Lymond, is rumoured to be back in Edinburgh. The city is sealed, but such things never worry 'Lymond'. As usual, he leaves a characteristic trail of hue and cry, vanished contraband, and a drunken sow.
Infamous for his ingenuity, Lymond has his own plan, starting with setting fire to his brother's castle and purloining his mother's silver. Stories about him abound, agreeing only that he's not a man to sit idle. With Europe recently unbalanced by royal deaths, he'll take a hand in The Game Of Kings.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

103. Kill Me

By:  Stephen White
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Library

This was an interesting premise and one that hit a few of the buttons that I acquired during my Mother's end of life illness.  It's not an easy question when you are standing in the middle of a personal situation.

But all that aside, I didn't like it as much as I did The Siege.  It just wasn't as gripping.  Maybe down deep I like books about psychopaths with lots of blood and gore more then I do psychological thrillers where it's mostly about outwitting someone.  Surely not! (G)

From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller White (Missing Persons) takes an endlessly debatable question—at what point would a decline in your quality of life cause you to want to end your life?—and leverages it into a clever, absorbing thriller. The anonymous narrator is in his prime, a happily married father of a young girl given to high-risk sports. An assortment of grim fates and a near-escape of his own make him consider the question. A shadowy group called Death Angel Inc. contracts to guarantee that if the life of the "insured" should reach a certain agreed-upon level, they will terminate that life. Fascinated and impressed by the Death Angels' knowledge and reach, he eventually negotiates terms with them. This Faustian bargain doesn't take long to reveal its dark side, and White pays almost equal attention to the philosophical and the physical as his hero has to both approach the conditions that would trigger his contract's death clause yet remain healthy enough to fight back.

102. The Motion of the Ocean

By:  Janna Cawrse Esarey
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Amazon

I ran across this book on beachreaders blog.  It's another one of those books I would have missed left to my own devices.

This book is part travelogue and part the story of the beginnings of a marriage.  I thought that the author had a tendency to nit pick her relationship with her husband to where I would have understood if he had thrown her overboard once or twice.  But then I thought about it and gosh, living for 18 months on a 35 foot sail boat with no once else around for most of it, I mean what else was there to do other than over analyze things.  I think she finally saved her life and her sanity by using her computer and journaling her thoughts and experiences.

But annoying spots aside, this is the story of a very gutsy couple who had a dream and just went out there and DID IT!  On a shoe string budget, storms, break downs, pirates and lack of open ocean sailing experience  - they always sucked it up and came through.  If she got a tad bit winy during the slow times, well IMO she earned the right.

But I gotta say this one last thing and that is that had I been her I would have demanded a better stove.  Trying to cook on a pitching boat with the one she had is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Amazon Review
"On her honeymoon Janna Cawrse Esarey and her fisherman husband set sail in pursuit of her childhood dream....Motion of the Ocean is a fresh and honest story on many levels. It's an entertaining read for those who enjoy a voyaging story or are contemplating an adventure, though in the end it's not about achieving the sailing dream -- it's a love story in which Janna discovers how to live and enjoy life."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

101. South of Broad

By:  Pat Conroy
Rated:  3 Stars
From:  Library

 I just never really got it with this book and was never able to move away from the idea that this was some nerdy guy's fantasy life or put another way, jazzed up revisionist history.

On the other hand, it was readable.  Although I grumbled I didn't get the urge to wall bang it or just give up on it although I have to confess to much eye rolling.

I have recently criticized another author who used so many gimmicks and plot hooks it turned her book into a cliche.  Well Conroy has pretty much done the same thing.  Family drama, relationship drama, racial drama, religious drama, deaths, suicides, crimes, affairs, addiction, mental illness, natural disasters, and, for heaven's sake, not one psychopath--but two!  Whatever happened to simple but well told stories?

The waiting list for this book at my library is huge, and growing every day.  Obviously other people are seeing more in this book that I am. (sigh) I really, really don't get what the big deal is all about.  It's an OK book.  But that's about all.

LIBRARY SUMMARY:  After his brother's suicide, Leopold Bloom King struggles along with the rest of his family in Charleston, South Carolina, until he begins to gather an intimate circle of friends, whose ties endure for two decades until a final, unexpected test of friendship.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

100. Fellowship of the Rings

By:  J. R. R. Tolkien
Rated:  5+++++++
AUDIO BOOK From Library

This is a revisit to one of my most beloved stories.  I have just started to seriously listen to audio books and it have been an eye opening, or should I say ear opening experience.  It's a whole other dimension.

This set read by Rob Inglis is is very well read with no drastic voicing of characters. Characters are easily distinguished and thoroughly enjoyable. This set is not full of sound effects and music, but then I  prefer the fact that this is not an over-production and is rather quite focused on what I wanted in the first place, the characters and the story.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

99. Henry's Sisters

By Cathy Lamb
Rated:  DNF - 1 Star
From:  Library

This is IT!  I am not wasting any more of my time trying to read what is passing for "Contemporary Fiction" these days unless it's by an author I know or someone whose judgment I trust recommends it.  I think that publishers must have pushed authors into such a corner now days that they must have to stick to a strict formula.  Why else would they all read like the same book over and over again with only minor changes in names of characters and locations?  Sisters, girlfriends, dysfunctional families, illegitimate secret children and naturally, sick or disabled children, and/or  "Christian hyperbole" .

This book had it all.  There were so many gimicks and plot hooks in this book that I was amazed it didn't clink and clatter when it was moved. (sigh)  No wonder I have been enjoying revisiting Harry Potter so much.  It's so much more reality based.

PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION:  "Ever since the Bommarito sisters were little girls, their mother, River, has written them a letter on pink paper when she has something especially important to impart. And this time, the message is urgent and impossible to ignore--River requires open-heart surgery, and Isabelle and her sisters are needed at home to run the family bakery and take care of their brother and ailing grandmother. Isabelle has worked hard to leave Trillium River, Oregon, behind as she travels the globe taking award-winning photographs. It's not that Isabelle hates her family. On the contrary, she and her sisters Cecilia, an outspoken kindergarten teacher, and Janie, a bestselling author, share a deep, loving bond. And all of them adore their brother, Henry, whose disabilities haven't stopped him from helping out at the bakery and bringing good cheer to everyone in town. But going home again has a way of forcing open the secrets and hurts that the Bommaritos would rather keep tightly closed--Isabelle's fleeting and too-frequent relationships, Janie's obsessive compulsive disorder, and Cecilia's self-destructive streak and grief over her husband's death. Working together to look after Henry and save their flagging bakery, Isabelle and her sisters begin to find answers to questions they never knew existed, unexpected ways to salve the wounds of their childhoods, and the courage to grasp surprising new chances at happiness. Poignant, funny, and as irresistible as one of the Bommarito sisters' delicious giant cupcakes, Henry's Sisters is a novel about family and forgiveness, about mothers and daughters, and about gaining the wisdom to look ahead while still holding tight to everything that matters most" -- from publisher's web site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

98. The Siege

aRated 5 Stars
From:  Library

Thank you so much Stacey for bringing this book to my attention.  It would have slipped right past me otherwise.  It was absolutely riveting.  I read it all in one long gulp.   I didn't have any other pressing things I had to do and it was so hard to put down that I just indulged myself.   I went to Stephen White's website and looked at the pictures he had posted of the locations on the Yale Campus that he used in the book.  I was delighted with the Yale Whale.  It looked like such a fun building.   I have ordered another book in this series, Kill Me - I am doing this all out of order.  Oh well

LIBRARY SUMMARY:  As a lovely weekend approaches on the Yale campus it appears that a number of students--including the sons of both the Secretary of the Army and newest Supreme Court justice--may have gone missing. Attention quickly focuses on the fortress-like tomb of one of Yale's secret societies. Suspended Boulder police detective Sam Purdy soon finds himself in New Haven, where he joins FBI agent Christopher Poe and CIA analyst Deirdre Drake to solve the riddle of what is going on inside the windowless stone tomb on the edge of campus as, one by one, students are sent out of the building's front door to die.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

97. H.P. and The Camber of Secrets

,BY:  J. K. Rowlings
Rated 5 Stars
Audio Book from Library

LIBRARY SUMMARY:  Harry Potter is in his second year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is visited by a house-elf named Dobby and warned not to go back to Hogwarts. Harry ignores his warning, and returns. He is still famous, although still disliked by Snape, Malfoy, and the rest of the Slytherins. But then, strange things start to happen. People are becoming petrified, and no-one knows what is doing it. Harry keeps hearing a voice.. a voice which seems to be coming from within the walls. They are told the story of the Chamber of Secrets. It is said that only Salazar Slytherin's true descendent will be able to open it. Harry, it turns out, is a Parsel-tongue. This means that he is able to speak/understand snakes. Everyone thinks that it's him that has opened the Chamber of Secrets because that is what Slytherin was famous for.

96. HP and the Socerer's Stone

By:  J. K. Rowlings
Rated:  5 Stars
Audio Book from Library



I am waiting for the DVD of the latest Harry Potter movie to come out and while I am waiting I am going to revisit all the books so that my memory will be fresh.  I am loving this audio format.  Lucky for me my library has all the books on CD in unabridged format and I am uploading them to my IPod.

Product Description
Amazon.com Say you've spent the first 10 years of your life sleeping under the stairs of a family who loathes you. Then, in an absurd, magical twist of fate you find yourself surrounded by wizards, a caged snowy owl, a phoenix-feather wand, and jellybeans that come in every flavor, including strawberry, curry, grass, and sardine. Not only that, but you discover that you are a wizard yourself! This is exactly what happens to young Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling's enchanting, funny debut novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In the nonmagic human world--the world of "Muggles"--Harry is a nobody, treated like dirt by the aunt and uncle who begrudgingly inherited him when his parents were killed by the evil Voldemort. But in the world of wizards, small, skinny Harry is famous as a survivor of the wizard who tried to kill him. He is left only with a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, curiously refined sensibilities, and a host of mysterious powers to remind him that he's quite, yes, altogether different from his aunt, uncle, and spoiled, piglike cousin Dudley. A mysterious letter, delivered by the friendly giant Hagrid, wrenches Harry from his dreary, Muggle-ridden existence: "We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Of course, Uncle Vernon yells most unpleasantly, "I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!" Soon enough, however, Harry finds himself at Hogwarts with his owl Hedwig... and that's where the real adventure--humorous, haunting, and suspenseful--begins.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

95. THE EMPEROR, #11

H, fRated 4 Stars
From:  Amazon

This book left me with a slightly sour taste in my mouth after reading it.  Then I figured it out.  It was James.  I really don't like James.  I did when he was a boy but as an adult he is turning into a whining wimp.  I don't think much of Lucy either but I do feel sorry for her husband. I wish Harrod-Eagles would stop killing off the characters that I like and letting the ones I don't care much for live to such an old age. *sigh*

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
It is 1705, and the shadow of Napoleon is falling across Europe, and a restlessness seems to be changing mores and loosening society’s restraints. At Morland Place, James’ marriage to Mary Ann is falling apart; Lucy’s to Chetwyn is in the balance as she embarks on a blatant affair with a sea officer; and William supports a mistress he cannot marry. Mary goes to sea with her husband Captain Haworth and is caught up in the battle of the Nile; and as war becomes inevitable, Lucy knows she must say goodbye to her love as every fighting captain waits eagerly for his commission.

Friday, August 21, 2009

94. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil




By John Berendt
Rated 3 Stars
From:  Library


I have always meant to read this book, and now I have.  Interesting.

From Publishers Weekly

After discovering in the early 1980s that a super-saver fare to Savannah, Ga., cost the same as an entree in a nouvelle Manhattan restaurant, Esquire columnist Berendt spent the next eight years flitting between Savannah and New York City. The result is this collection of smart, sympathetic observations about his colorful Southern neighbors, including a jazz-playing real estate shark; a sexually adventurous art student; the Lady Chablis (' "What was your name before that?" I asked. "Frank," she said.' "); the gossipy Married Woman's Card Club; and an assortment of aging Southern belles. The book is also about the wealthy international antiques dealer Jim Williams, who played an active role in the historic city's restoration--and would also be tried four times for the 1981 shooting death of 21-year-old Danny Handsford, his high-energy, self-destructive house helper. The Williams trials--he died in 1990 of a heart attack at age 59--are lively matches between dueling attorneys fought with shifting evidence, and they serve as both theme and anchor to Berendt's illuminating and captivating travelogue.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover editi

Thursday, August 20, 2009

93. Happiness Key



By:  Emilie Richards
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Library
My Romance fix for the month.  It may be Chick-Lit, I cannot tell the difference.  I quick and easy read.
LIBRARY SUMMARY:  "When her husband was sent to prison, pampered Tracy Deloche was left with twenty-five acres of Florida Gulf Coast sand, five tumbledown beach houses and no idea how to start over. An exile in a strange country, Janya Kapur left her wealthy, close-knit Indian family for an arranged marriage to a man she barely knows. Plainspoken Wanda Gray is tired of watching her marriage fail, so she takes a job guaranteed to destroy it--if her husband cares enough to discover what she's doing. Since her daughter's death, widow Alice Brooks has grown forgetful and confused. Her son-in-law and granddaughter have come to stay, but Alice isn't sure she's grateful. When the only other resident of Happiness Key dies alone in his cottage, the four women warily join forces to find his family. Together, they discover difficult truths about their own lives and the men they love--and uncover the treasure of an unlikely friendship."