Monday, January 29, 2007

And just how accurate is it??

As I was trying to catch up on checking out my friends blogs, I came across a book quiz on Kailana's Written World. I thought I would try it, since I don't have anything else to do (ha, ha!) Here are my results!!

You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Hmmm.....this IS pretty accurate!! You should take it and find out!


Friday, January 26, 2007

Drumroll please......

Looks like Lady Oprah has made her decision. The latest book to be selected for the Oprah Book Club is The Measure of a Man : A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier. I don't know very much about him and I'm always complaining that I don't read enough non-fiction, so I'm sure I will have to grab this one. I'm a little disappointed that she hasn't gone back to the Classics though. I really liked that format. And with all the fuss over James Frey, I'm a little surprised that she is going with another biography/memoir. I'm sure this one will be a lot safer!!

To Meme or not to.......

OK....I've heard the term but I've never really thought too much about them. But I found this one, and thought it would be fun....AND appropriate, so I'm "borrowing" it!! Thanks so much to the Literary Feline herself for the Book Meme! I's stealing shamelessly, though I added a couple of my own!

Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror?
Hmmm....since I was young, I've been a huge Stephen King fan. I would have to say horror, although lately fantasy and sci-fi are really picking up for me!

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?
To be honest, I actually prefer Trade Paperback to anything. That is to read. (If I'm going to buy a "Keeper", I prefer harback). The TPB's are so much easier to read and carry around. After that would be hardback, and mass markets would be last.

Jane Austen of the Bronte Sisters?
OK...this is tough. I've only read one Jane Austen. So right now, I'll go with the Bronte's. This may change in the coming years.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?
I definitely prefer actually going to a real bookstore than buying online. I know the convience is there. But there is nothing like the smell of all those new books!! Can you say OBSESSION??

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Wow. I really like both! I prefer Barnes & Noble mostly for the Starbucks and how friendly everyone is. I do prefer the way Borders is laid out, and I LOVE their 2 for 3 tables!

Hitchhiker or Discworld?
Haven't read either, so I guess I can't comment!

Bookmark or Dogear?
Bookmark definitely!! I HATE to damage the pages of a book!!

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random?
Who actually alphabetizes by title??? That sounds really dumb to me!! Must be by author.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell?
I do a bit of both Keeping and selling. I have an extensive collection and I just can't keep all the books I read. So I do tend to sell a lot of the paperbacks. I can't imagine actually throwing away a book!

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
I take the dustjacket off.....hate to let it get ripped!

Short story or novel?
I don't read a lot of short stories. I prefer novels because you get so much more character development.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Why Harry Potter, of course!!

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I really prefer to break at chapters, but with 3 kids that's not always the case!!

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?
The Goth Girl in me totally prefers the "It was dark and stormy night"!!

Buy or Borrow?
I do both! I probably buy more than I should though!

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?
All of the above!! These book blogs have been great for getting good, solid recommendations. I actually prefer those to any paid critic! And I will pick up a book at the store if it catches my fancy!

Lewis or Tolkien?
Lord of the Rings, baby!! Tolkien, for sure!

Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?
As I said, I don't generlly care for short stories, but if I was going to read them, I think I'd like the diversity of the Anthology.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?
Tidy Endings. I like to have Closure!

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading?
I almost exclusively read at night during the week. With kids and work there is really no other time. On the weekends, I squeeze in reading when I can.

Standalone or Series?
Both. I've found some really good series lately.

Classic or Modern?
Again....both! I think I read a lot more classics than some people. And they are classics for a reason. But sometimes, I really like to read more modern books.

New or used?
Although I read both, I prefer new.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Tough question. Especially here because I'm sure with all the Bookies out there, someone will have heard of it, depending on the genre. I guess I will have to go with A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali. EXCELLENT book.

Top 5 favorite books read last year?
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
One Thousand White Women: The Journal of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer

Top 5 favorite books of all time that are not listed above?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Stand by Stephen King
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

5 favorite series?
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Shopaholics by Sophie Kinsella

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sex and Violence and Drugs...Oh My!

Turning Angel by Greg Iles (2006, 512 pgs) is fast-paced, action-packed thriller. And Greg Iles seems to want to take on a whole host of hot button topics! Penn Cage is a widower and a former-lawyer-turned author that lives in Natchez, MS with his daughter Annie. Natchez is the town in which he grew up, but it has changed a lot over the years. The economic outlook is rather bleak, with many business closing their doors or pulling out of town. The schools aren't great. And worst of all, there seems to be a lot more drugs in town than ever before. But when Kate Townsend is murdered, the town is stunned. Kate is a seventeen-year-old high school Senior that is beautiful, intelligent, athletic and Harvard-bound. But Penn gets a double shock when his lifelong friend, Dr. Drew Elliot asked Penn to represent him. Drew, a forty-old-physician, was having an affair with Kate. But it was more than an affair. Drew was seriously going to leave his pain-killer addicted wife for Kate and move to Massachusetts with her when she left for school. Drew himself was once the town's golden child. An exceptional athletic, he became a doctor. Not only was he just a doctor, but he took trips to third-world countries to provide free-medical treatment. He was handsome, smart, and every one's friend. He was the kind of man every woman wanted and every man wanted to be.

District Attorney Shad Johnson is on a mission. That mission is to move up the ladder, stepping on whoever he has to in the process. He wants to be Mayor. When an anonymous phone call is made to his office about Drew and Kate's affair, Shad immediately considers Drew the number one suspect. It is clear that his intentions are more for politics than for justice. But when the news of the affair comes out, Drew quickly becomes the town pariah. But Kate wasn't the sweet innocent she made herself out to be. It seems there is a link between her and the town's biggest drug dealer, Cyrus White.

This book tries to pose us with questions that there are not a lot of answers for. Can a relationship between a seventeen-year-old and a forty-year-old be anything other than sexual? Should 2 people with such a wide gap in age be allowed to be together? Can different races work together for the good of a town instead of trying to pull it apart? Iles gives us some heavy race issues to deal with in this book as well.

I liked this book, but there were a couple of things that made this a good read instead of a great one. It is definitely a page-turner. I read through it like I couldn't get enough. But I didn't find Drew to be a very likeable character. Neither was Kate. And in the end, I just didn't care what happened to him. I didn't have a lot of sympathy for Drew's wife, Ellen either. I also thought that Iles painted a very bleak picture of today's teens. I realize that they are more advanced today than they were when I was in high school (and NO, it wasn't THAT long ago!), but I think he really exaggerated the over-sexed and over-drugged kids. At least I hope so!! 3.75/5

Monday, January 22, 2007

Incredible Alternate History Tale

On my quest to broaden my horizons and expand to the world of Science Fiction, I picked up West of Eden by Harry Harrison. It is the first book in the Eden trilogy and I'd have to say, somewhat of a masterpiece. Harrison managed to not only create a wonderful story, but an entirely new planet Earth as well. As we know, sixty-five million years ago something happened and the ice age occurred. All the dinosaurs became extinct, and the age of the mammals began. The premise behind this book ask the question: "What if history had been different? What if the reptiles survived to evolve into intelligent life?"
This story tells the tale of the Yilane, a super-intelligent form of dinosaur, and the Tanu, another name for Humans. The Yilane live in cities, are intelligent, and have an incredibly structured hierarchy. They are also a completely matriarchal society, ruled solely by females and where the males are only used for breeding. They have taken genetic engineering to a whole new level. Everything they need is engineered from a living organism to something of use to them. This includes their weapons, their transportation, and even the trees they live in. The Tanu on the other hand, are more nomadic, living in small villages called Sammads. They move to find food and plentiful hunting, and return to the cold mountains in the winter months.
When a small group of hunters venture farther South than they've ever been, they happen across a couple of Yilane. Knowing the danger of all cold-blooded creatures, they kill the small group of reptiles. When the slaughter of their kind is uncovered, the Yilane, led by their ruler Vainte, sets out to destroy the "animals" that did this. During the Yilane attack, a young boy named Kerrick is captured. Kerrick is taken to live with the Yilane so they can study his kind. He eventually is taught the language and is able to communicate with the reptiles. He spends years with the Yilane, learning all their ways. When an attack on another sammad occurs, Kerrick escapes and goes back to live again with other Tanu.
There are a lot of different topics that Harrison explores in this book. He has created an incredible new world with a new language and many new species. The politics of the Yilane and their desire to rid the planet of the Tanu makes for a great story, albeit one that we have seen in our own world. There is even a faction of the Yilane, called the Daughters of Life, that protest against the destruction of other creatures. Not my normal fare, but a great book!! 4.5/5

Miami.....Here We Come!!!

WOO HOO!!! They did it!! We are going to the Super Bowl, Baby!! And what a game it was!! The Saints "high-powered" offense went down yesterday!! Mr. Urlacher and company played VERY well....and it also helped that it was butt-cold and snowing out!! Those poor New Orleans boys didn't know what to do!! Of course, when Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman trophy winner scored a touchdown and showboated in OUR HOUSE, he really pushed some buttons. Not one more point was scored by the Saints!
But was I actually watching the game, chewing my nails??? No. And it wasn't for lack of WANT! Ever year my husband gets each child a Christmas present just from him. It has to be something "special" from Daddy....although Mommy is usually the one that goes out gets it AND does all the wrapping, although I don't seem to get any credit for it. Bygones. This year, he got each daughter (4 and 6) a Cheetah Girl DVD AND a ticket to the Cheetah Girl Concert here in Peoria. Since we couldn't just send the 4 and 6 year old to a concert by themselves, 1 more ticket was purchased. And somehow that one had MY name on it!! Mike thought it would be really great for the "girls" to have a night out. The bad news in all of this was that the concert was YESTERDAY at 4:00....meaning I had to miss the second half of the game!! As a die-hard Bears fan since birth, this was rather tough to take. But if the truth is to be told.....I had a wonderful time with the girls!! They were in Cheetah heaven! And I guess, if my girls are going to be admiring singers, these girls are pretty good. They are all about friendship and girl power!! I like that. There is even one song called Cinderella that I love:
I don't wanna be like Cinderella
Sittin' in a dark old dusty cellar
Waiting for somebody, to come and set me free
I don't wanna be like Snow White waiting
For a handsome prince to come and save me
On a horse of white, unless we're riding side by side
Don't want to depend on no on else
I'd rather rescue myself

That's pretty good stuff for the girls to be learning!!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Obama for President in 2008

Well.....per the email I received yesterday, it looks like Barack Obama has taken the first steps in process of a Presidential campaign!! He filed the papers to create a presidential exploratory committee! Now, I'm not exactly sure what that means, but if it gets the man into the race, then it's all good! I haven't been this excited over politics in a long time. OK...that's not exactly true. I was a pretty happy camper this November when the American people spoke and put the Democrats back in control of the House and the Senate. For the first time since Bush stole the election in 2000, I'm starting to feel good about things. And Obama is such an inspiration!! I feel it in my bones. This man is the Real Deal!!
Here's hoping that everyone in this country will LISTEN to what Obama has to say!

Da Bears!! game down!! The Bears looked pretty good. Well, the offense did anyway!! That's kind of scary, too. Keep it up, Rexxie!! We NEED another Superbowl! It's been way too long! Now, if we could just get the Defense back in the game, we'd be set. The Saints have an explosive offense, so now is your chance! I thank you for the win. It was a great birthday present. And I'll be glued to my TV on Sunday....Let's Do It!


Monday, January 15, 2007

Classic Sci-Fi at it's BEST!

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is a futuristic tale told by a boy named David. At the beginning of the book he is about 10 years old living in a small community of people years after a devastating nuclear war has laid waste to much of the planet. God's Tribulation has destroyed the unworthy. In David's community life is spent without any technology and anything that isn't deemed normal, is looked at as an abomination in the eyes of God. People that have abnormalities, called "deviations", are considered Mutants. Mutants are sterilized, so that they can not reproduce, and sent to the "Fringes", the wild land outside of the community to fend for themselves. Any crop or animal that has a deviation is destroyed. Every child that is born must be inspected and given certification. Any type of difference is not tolerated. When David's friend Sophie is found to be a Mutant because she has 6 toes, he realizes how dangerous it is to be different. And David IS different. He, along with several other children in the area, are able to communicate with each other by "thought-shapes" or telepathy. After Sophie is taken, the children understand that they must hide their abilities. Although difficult at times, this works for awhile. Until David's younger sister Petra is born. Petra has the ability to communicate with the others as well. But Petra's powers are far superior to the others, but she is so young she can't control them.
David are Rosalind try to teach Petra to hide her abilities. But Petra communicates to someone outside their area. In a place that none of the other children have heard of. A place where there are many people with the ability to communicate through thought-shapes. A place where the children would not be considered different or a Mutant. But by this time, David, Rosalind, Petra and the others are under suspicion. What happens next is an escape attempt through the Badlands and the Fringes.
This book is so far ahead of it's time. It denounces bigotry and religious fundamentalism. It shows what a world that supports intolerance would look like. And it isn't pretty. This book was great and has my highest recommendations!! 5/5

Friday, January 12, 2007

From the Stacks

Well....I've been very good since the beginning of the year (yeah, I know it's only 12 days in!!), but I haven't bought ANY books!! Yes, that's right. Not a one. Of course, I didn't get any gift cards to use this year, and my wallet is suffering major strain from Christmas. But I did go to the library yesterday. And what did I walk out with, you might ask? Well, I had a bunch of requests for ILL, and they all came through in the last 2 days.

  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Cigar Roller by Pablo Medina
  • The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  • Palace Walk by Najib Mahfuz
  • Turning Angels by Greg Iles
  • Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
  • Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

Now, you are probably asking yourself the same thing I am. WHEN are you ever going to find the time to READ all of these books? There are some serious door stops here! Well the answer, my friends, is simple. I really have no idea!! It's like a sickness with me. The thought of running out of something to read leaves me with cold chills!! I can't even go to the library without bringing home a truckful of books. Will it ever end, this obsession with the Written Word???

I Certainly Hope Not!!!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Harper Collins Review!

Did anyone else out there know there REALLY IS a Body Farm? And it's located at the University of Tennessee?? Everyone else knew this?? That's what my husband said anyway!! I've never HEARD of the Body Farm. Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass is actually written by 2 Doctors from the REAL body farm. So if you are a CSI fan, then this book will probably appeal to you. And you if you are "faint at heart" pass right on by! There are some seriously graphic scenes in this book. A couple dealing with maggots and blowflys that even I had to skim! That being said, I really liked this book. It is the second in a new series of books about the Body Farm, which is where they study dead bodies! Dr. Bill Brocton is the director of the Body Farm and a professor at the University of Tennessee. When he is isn't teaching, he's consulting on crime scenes as a forensics expert for the police or the FBI. When he gets a call from Dr. Jess Carter, about helping recreate a crime scene, he jumps at the chance. Jess is the Medical Examiner for part of the state, and also a woman he has feelings for. He hasn't dated anyone since his wife passed and Jess is the first woman he has desired in quite awhile, though she is only recently divorced.

A man's body was found, dressed in a blonde wig and black corset, hanging from a tree in the woods near Chattenooga. Is it a hate crime or something else? Jess and Bill are trying to determine who the man was and why he was killed. Bill is also trying to fend off a lawsuit brought on by a religious organization that wants creationism taught in the classrooms. When the murder victim is identified as a known pedophile, things get even worse. I really can't say much more without giving away any key items in the plot.

I thought this was a good, solid read. The mystery was enough to keep me intrigued, and so were the human interest issues. Aside from all the gory dead body stuff, I really enjoyed Flesh and Bone! 4/5

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

1st Book this year!

Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Isabel Sharpe was sent to me by Harper Collins to review. At first I thought this was going to be one of your average, run-of-the-mill "Chick Lit" books. But I was wrong. This book is so much more than that! It is the story of 3 women that live in Kettle, WI, a town where nothing BAD every happen. Sarah is the perfect wife, mother, and citizen of Kettle. She is polished and proper, the unofficial head of the Kettle Social Club, and appearances are EVERYTHING to Sarah. But her marriage is falling apart. Her husband has taken her for granted and her teenage daughter is rebelling, something Sarah never would have done. Erin is a shy, mousy woman, who hides the things that her husband does to her behind closed doors. I mean, nothing bad could every happen in Kettle, right? Just as she hid the things her father did to her before she was married. And Vivian, who has just returned to Kettle to live in her Grandmother's house. She is trying to pick up the pieces of her life since she has been acquitted of murdering her husband. She is brash and brazen and the media has had a field day with this "bad" girl. All she wants to do is blend in and not make any waves until the media has given up an her.
What do these women have in common? On the outside, it would seem to be nothing. But really they are alot more alike than even they want to admit. This story is more about becoming who you really are and putting away the masks that we hide behind. It is a tale of courage and struggle, friendship and love. I was very impressed with this book. It shows just how complex people really are. The characters were certainly NOT one-dimensional and I enjoyed the story alot. 4/5

Monday, January 8, 2007

Da Bears!! I'm excited for Sunday's game against Seattle. They can definitely be beat. Of course, that all's dependant on which team of Bears decide to show up for the game!! I'm still in favor of ditching Grossman for Griese. Then again, I have been since the first game of the season! Maybe I'll have some time to read this weekend between games!!
I found this picture of Sweetness today and it brought back nostalgic memories of the '85 Bears! Walter Payton has been my lifelong hero. I cried my eyes out the day he died. He was a phenominal athlete and a good man....he didn't flaunt his talent the way so many of today's athletes do. He is greatly missed!!
So think of me this weekend, chewing off my nails in front of the TV. I'm thinking it would be a great birthday present if the Bears could win!!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Winter Classics Challenge

OK...this is the FINAL challege that I will be able to take place in until Spring. That's it! I can't do any more!! The Winter Classics Challenge is hosted by Booklogged is only for the months of January and February 2007. The challenge is to read 5 Classics in the 2 month time frame. Hmmm...I part of the "Classics" club. I think this is doable! (or am I COMPLETELY off my rocker?? Who knows???) Only time will tell!!

Here is my list of Classics for this challenge:

  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Yeah! I'm pretty excited about this list! A couple of Classic Club group reads, an all-out classic and a couple of more obscure reads by some Classic Authors.


The "Chunkster" Challenge

Wow! It seems to me that the name of the game in Blogging is CHALLENGES! Now, mind you, I'm very much a newcomer to this arena. But Kelly, who is fast becoming a VERY BAD INFLUENCE on me (let's just call her VBI for short!) has thrown out a couple of challenges that she is involved in....and they sounded VERY interesting! So what did I do?? You guessed it. Mrs. Compulsive here joined 2 more challenges! Yikes.

Of course, as VBI Kelly pointed out, I'm going to be reading these books anyway. Might as well add your name to the challenge!! So here it is. 2nd Challege of the New Year is the Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Bookfool. Between Jan 1 and June 30, read Chunksters (def: any book that is over 400 pages in length!). You get to choose how many you want to complete during this time, so I guess I should make it easy on myself!

So here goes nothing:

  • The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber (also on my TBR Challenge) Pages 920.
  • Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George Pages 964
  • I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (also on my TBR Challenge) Pages 738
  • Sunne in Spendour by Sharon K. Penman Pages 936

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Top 10 of 2006

Well....I did a quick count today of my "list" of books from 2006. I came in this year at a whopping 62 books. Now for those of you that put up 200+ numbers (uh yeah, Kelly, I'm talking about you and Marg!!), this might not seem like a lot. But for me....working full-time (and then some!) AND having 3 kids in activities, I think it's pretty good. I do plan on KILLING this mark next year, so watch out!!

Here is a list of what I considered the top 10 of all the books I did read. These are in no particular order:

  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
  • A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • One Thousand White Women: The Diary of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • A Broken Vessel by Kate Ross
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
  • Girl in the Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Also this year, I started a couple of really good series reads. I started the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum Books. So far, I've only read the first 4. They were great, but I didn't want to overdo it and burn myself out. I'd like to finish up that series this year. I also read the first book in the Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke and the first book in the Victorian Mysteries by Robin Paige. I think both of these were good and would like to continue them this year as well.


Monday, January 1, 2007

An Enjoyable Story about the Value of Friendship

Between Friends is the story of 2 girls that became friends at the age of 5 and remained best friends all their lives. The entire book was written in the format of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, emails, announements and notes. It was a strange format, and yet it seemed to give us a deeper glimpse into the lives of these 2 very different women.
Lesley grew up the oldest of 6 kids in a working class family. Her dad spent more time out of work than he did employeed, and her mom had to learn to live with him and all his faults. Jillian, the only child of Judge and his wife, grew up in the lap of luxary. And yet, through time and completely different circumstances, they stayed friends. Lesley got pregnant in high school and had to give up her dream of getting a scholarship and going to college. She got married to Buck, a carbon-copy of her father. Jillian went away to college, pining for the "man of her dreams", Nick....a mechanic that her parents felt wasn't good enough for her. Her plans of marriage and children with Nick were suddenly shattered when he received his draft forms for Vietnam.
This book encompasses decades in the lives of these 2 friends, through marriage, children, divorce, death and war. At times a little sappy and at times very touching, I found this book very enjoyable. 4/5

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to all!! 2007 has started out a bit rocky since I have the mother of all colds! I am supposed to go back to work tomorrow after a week off, but I think I will take a personal day. The kids are out of school, and I would like just one more day to decompress, finish a book or two and maybe get my house in order! There's always shopping too! I got some gift cards for Macy's and some money to buy some new clothes, so I really should get out there and do it. I'm not the typical female because I HATE shopping. But I do need some new things.