Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Teacher From the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler

From the back: On the first day of school, a young boy expects the worst when he discovers that his new teacher is the "monstrous" Mrs. Green.
My Thoughts: The kids always enjoy this, it makes us laugh! The boy sits apprehensively at his desk and waits for Mrs. Green to come in. While waiting he falls asleep and dreams of a horrible, green, mean teacher. When he wakes up he finds that all his fears were groundless, Mrs. Green is wonderful.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

My Thoughts: I loved it. The humor Dickens showed in his prose is wonderful. He managed to bring us well rounded characters in a short story. This story shows beautifully the true meanings of family, friends and Christmas which now are sometimes lost now. Read it if you haven't already.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oacar Wilde

Review; A lush, cautionary tale of a life of vileness and deception or a loving portrait of the aesthetic impulse run rampant? Why not both? After Basil Hallward paints a beautiful, young man's portrait, his subject's frivolous wish that the picture change and he remain the same comes true. Dorian Gray's picture grows aged and corrupt while he continues to appear fresh and innocent. After he kills a young woman, "as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife," Dorian Gray is surprised to find no difference in his vision or surroundings. "The roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden."
As Hallward tries to make sense of his creation, his epigram-happy friend Lord Henry Wotton encourages Dorian in his sensual quest with any number of Wildean paradoxes, including the delightful "When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy."
My Thoughts: I know this is a great classic, but I had a hard time getting through it. I found the characters shallow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Who's That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? by Jean Fritz

From the back: For years, Plymouth Rock sat on the beach without getting any attention. But in 1741, the people of Plymouth decided it was an important landmark, because the Pilgrims must have stepped on it when they arrived in the New World, and its adventures began. The rock was moved, dropped, broken, moved again, and cemented back together before finally being enclosed in an impressive monument, ensuring its place as a solid piece of American history!

My Thoughts: This is one of the books I read each year at Thanksgiving time to my class. I enjoy the different view it presents. The kiddios enjoy looking up Plymouth Rock on the computer and seeing pictures of it after reading this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blue Heaven by C. J. Box

From the book cover: A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother go on the run in the woods of North Idaho, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder—four men who know exactly who William and Annie are, and who know exactly where their desperate mother is waiting for news of her children’s fate. Retired cops from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the inexperienced sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children.
William and Annie’s unexpected savior comes in the form of an old-school rancher teetering on the brink of foreclosure. But as one man against four who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses, Jess Rawlins needs allies, and he knows that one word to the wrong person could seal the fate of the children or their mother. In a town where most of the ranches like his have turned into acres of ranchettes populated by strangers, finding someone to trust won’t be easy.
With true-to-life, unforgettable characters and a ticking clock plot that spans just over 48 hours in real time, C.J. Box has created a thriller that delves into issues close to the heart: the ruthless power of greed over broken ideals, the healing power of community where unlikely heroes find themselves at the crossroads of duty and courage, and the truth about what constitutes a family. In a setting whose awesome beauty is threatened by those who want a piece of it, BLUE HEAVEN delivers twists and turns until its last breathtaking page.
My Thoughts: I wanted to read this because I like the Joe Pickett novels by C. J. Box. I was not disapointed. This kept me on the edge of my seat with action through out. I loved Jess, the rancher. Box used good v evil to write a suspenseful story. His characters show that the bad guys weren’t always evil and the good guys aren’t always perfect . The end was bittersweet, just about had me in tears.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Medicus by Ruth Downie

From the Jacket
Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on his luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. His arrival in Deva (more commonly known as Chester, England) does little to improve his mood, and after a straight thirty six hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to a moment of weakness and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner.Now he has a new problem: a slave who won’t talk and can’t cook, and drags trouble in her wake. Before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar. A few years earlier, after he rescued Emperor Trajan from an earthquake in Antioch, Ruso seemed headed for glory: now he’s living among heathens in a vermin-infested bachelor pad and must summon all his forensic knowledge to find a killer who may be after him next.Who are the true barbarians, the conquered or the conquerors? It’s up to Ruso—certainly the most likeable sleuth to come out of the Roman Empire—to discover the truth. With a gift for comic timing and historic detail, Ruth Downie has conjured an ancient world as raucous and real as our own.

My Thoughts: This story is not heavy on the historical background - the main characters seem very modern in their thoughts and actions. I found it quite funny in places. Ruso is a most attractive and sympathetic character, as is the slave girl Tilla. You won't learn a lot about life in the Roman Empire, but you'll enjoy this story.

Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin

From the back: Mrs. Jane Tabby can't explain why her four precious kittens were born with wings, but she's grateful that they are able to use their flying skills to soar away from the dangerous city slums where they were born. However, once the kittens escape the big city, they learn that country life can be just as difficult!

My Thoughts: I read this little book to my kids almost every year. it always catches their imagination. they can't wait to read the next chapter. I love it myself!

The Walking by Bentley Little

Publishers Weekly
The overwhelming sense of doom with which Little (The Revelation) imbues his newest novel is so palpable it seems to rise from the book like mist. Flowing seamlessly between time and place (from the present-day hassles of HMOs to the once-uncharted territory of the American West), the Bram Stoker Award- winning author's ability to transfix his audience while relinquishing scant details about the foreboding evil is superb. Private investigator Miles Huerdeen is on a mission to find a link between the victims in a bizarre nationwide string of deaths dating back decades, his own recurring nightmares and an elderly client's prophetic handwritten list of dead men's names. Miles's world is suddenly turned upside down when he discovers his own father--who suffered a fatal stroke--purposefully striding around his bedroom, naked except for a pair of cowboy boots, having scared off his "God-Fearing Christian" nurse. Miles's obsession with his father's transformation into a zombie leads him to the families of other dead "walkers" and on a supernatural journey into the Arizona desert. Readers will gladly suspend disbelief for Little's deft touch for the terrifying, as he slowly reveals a shocking connection between the mindless army of reanimated corpses and their ultimate destination, Wolf Canyon, formerly a government-sponsored witch colony, where a vengeful resident's evil powers have yet to be fully unleashed. If booksellers are on their toes, they'll tell readers that Stephen King, a big fan of Little's work, was reading another book by this author at the time of his infamous accident. This novel has the potential to be a major sleeper in the horror category.
My Thoughts: Little is one of my favorite authors of horror fiction. He didn't disapoint! This may seem to you, from the reviews, to be another walking dead novel. It's not. Little weaves two stories together to form the greater picture of a small remote town haunted by it's past. I found it to be a great read.

My Big Old Texas Heartache by Geralyn Dawson

From the Back:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:
How did life become so complicated? One minute I'm dating the hottest man in Dallas and the next I'm back in Cedar Dell, Texas, surrounded by grannies, gossip, and green bean casserole -- and helping my dad recuperate from a car accident. Did I happen to mention that I caused a scandal in town when I got pregnant at seventeen? No one has ever forgiven me -- not my hard-hearted father, my brother Mr. Perfect, or my pregnant-for-the-first-time-at-forty sister who's gone totally hormonal.
As if this weren't enough, who should also be back in town but Max Cooper, the former high school football star, who is my teenage son's father. And now he wants to date me?!
Who ever thought that so many new horizons and second chances would open for me during one long, hot Texas summer?

My Thoughts: This was a fun read, with great characters. I truley enjoyed it. However I was a little unhappy with Max, the father of Kate's son. He came off as a real heel. I guess he cleaned up good at the end, but still..... I was also unsatisfied with Kate's father. But don't let these negatives put you off, go read it!

The Year of the Hyenas by Brad Geagley

From the Cover: Year of the Hyenas is a brilliant, original, and unique murder mystery, set in ancient Egypt at the height of that kingdom's glory and power. It is at once a strikingly insightful portrait of a mysterious, complex, and sophisticated society, reminiscent of Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings in its wonderful detail and feel for the past, and a fast-paced detective story that reads like the best of twenty-first-century thrillers.
From the oldest known court transcripts in history, Egyptologists have long known about the mysterious death of Ramses III, involving intrigue, ambition, greed, and crimes of passion on a huge, though hidden, scale. In Year of the Hyenas, Brad Geagley takes this event -- a struggle that nearly brought ancient Egypt to its knees -- as the backdrop for a story that is every bit as captivating as the distant civilization it resurrects.
At the heart of the novel is Semerket, the so-called Clerk of Investigations and Secrets, a detective half-paralyzed by problems of his own, with a reputation for heavy drinking and tactless behavior toward the great, the powerful, and the holy, a kind of Sam Spade of the ancient world, deeply (and dangerously) addicted to the truth. Hard-bitten, deeply flawed, he is retained by the authorities to investigate what is considered an insignificant murder of an elderly, insignificant Theban priestess. They fail to inform him, however, that they don't expect him to solve the case. In fact, they don't want him to.
My Thoughts: I didn't enjoy this one as much as I thought I would since I've been reading novels in this vane lately. With that said, the novel kept my attention and pulled me along. I enjoyed the sense of time and place the author skillfullly wound his story through. I plan to get the next in the series to read. Even though Semerket put me off by some of his actions, I still want to know what becomes of him and his wife. This was a  good historical fiction novel.

The Dragon King's Palace by Laura Joh Rowland

From Publishers Weekly: In Rowland's eighth engrossing 17th-century Japanese mystery (after 2002's The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria), Sano Ichiro, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations and People, is roused in the middle of the night when the shogun's mother and Sano's wife, Reiko, are kidnapped en route to Mount Fuji and their escort slaughtered. The crisis is exacerbated by the identities of the two other abductees: the wife of Sano's primary rival, the chamberlain Yanagisawa, the real power behind the shogun; and the pregnant wife of Sano's chief assistant. Sano's considerable deductive, strategic and diplomatic skills are repeatedly tested as he juggles the caprices of his ruler, who struggles with his figurehead status, Yanagisawa's ambitions for succession and the interests of the court's other power players. The organizer of the crimes, who calls himself the Dragon King after a traditional folk tale, makes an unusual ransom demand that only adds to the mystery of his identity and motivation. While her husband races to put the pieces of the puzzle together before the shogun's recklessness imperils the hostages, Reiko, bright and self-reliant, schemes to free herself and her companions. Rowland's masterful evocation of the period enables the reader to identify with the universal human emotions and drives that propel her characters while absorbing numerous telling details of a different culture and era.

My Thoughts: I found this to be another exciting and fast paced Sano Ichiro mystery novel! If you're looking for a good historical mystery novel that will keep you at the edge of your seat, you need not look any further than this book. I enjoyed the sence of history and place.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pieces of My Heart: A life by Robert J. Wagner

From the publisher: In this moving memoir, Robert J. Wagner opens his heart to share the romances, the drama, and the humor of an incredible life.
My thoughts: I have always been a Robert Wagner fan. I've seen his movies and LOVED Hart to Hart. I didn't know anything about his personal life and was surprised to find out that he had had an affair with Barbara Stanwyck . He recounts his life, marriages, affairs, friendships, hardships and career with grace and honor. I truly enjoyed this. If you are a movie buff or just a Robert Wagner fan you can't go wrong here.

Quicksand by Iris Johansen

From Publishers Weekly: The action-packed 12th installment in bestseller Johansen's saga featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan (after Stalemate) is also a sequel of sorts to Pandora's Daughter, which chronicled the life of Megan Blair, an Atlanta physician with burgeoning psychic abilities. Intertwining the two disparate story lines intensifies both, as Johansen pits her two courageous female protagonists against a vicious serial killer who claims to have murdered Eve's seven-year-old daughter, Bonnie, years earlier. When Eve's love interest, Atlanta police lieutenant Joe Quinn, tracks down elusive child predator Henry Kistle to a small town in Illinois, Quinn alerts the local authorities and sets off a series of bloody events that lead Eve and Megan Blair to a remote area in the Okefenokee swamp where they'll either discover the whereabouts of Bonnie's body—or come face-to-face with a psychopath bent on killing and burying them all in unmarked graves.
My Thoughts: I am a fan of the Eve Duncan books so I liked this one. I think that Quicksand is one of the best. Throughout the series I've been fascinated by the communication between Eve and her daughter, Bonnie. At first, we were led to believe that Eve dreamed of or imagined Bonnie and their conversations. Bonnie has been written of, now, as a Spirit and she comes to comfort her mother. Megan, Eve, Joe, and Montalvo (from Stalemate) work to stop the murderer from striking again while working through their own problems and relationships. I found it to be very suspenseful. SPOILER ALERT The ending was a surprise; Joe finally saw Bonnie's ghost. I hope that Joe and Eve will draw closer to each other now.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their timely ghostly teachings. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other.
This chilling tale is Neil Gaiman's first full-length novel for middle-grade readers since the internationally bestselling and universally acclaimed Coraline. Like Coraline, this book is sure to enchant and surprise young readers as well as Neil Gaiman's legion of adult fans.
My thoughts: I enjoyed reading this book even though it is listed as a book for young readers. The story of how Bod came to live at the graveyard and why he must remain hidden will spark your imagination and keep you reading. I like Gaiman's off center writing.

Biggie and the Quincy Ghost by Nancy Bell

From the Publisher: The 5th book in a delightful series by Nancy Bell where a young boy, JR, serves as the narrator.In this adventure Biggie Weatherford and her grandson JR go to Quincy to learn about their historical society. That night their host tells them a ghost story about a young woman who went on a picnic and was never seen alive again. The next morning JR finds a body in the hotel fountain. The deputy in charge of the case asks Biggie to help him solve it.

My thoughts: I love cozy mysteries and these Biggie books are among my favorites. Even though Job's Crossing is a fictional town, the stories take place in east Texas - where I live! This was an easy comfortable read, a visit with old friends Biggie and JR.

Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin

Summary: Witch is a terrorist - one of the best - but this job is going to test even her to the very limit. This time her cold calculation may desert her when she needs it most.
On her tail are three very different detectives - one woman, two men. Two at the beginning of their careers; one staking a lifetime's experience on tracking Witch down, following a hunch to the end.
Dominic Elder's hunch takes him from England to Europe and back, but the clues that solve the biggest crimes, dig out the deepest secrets, are often the smallest ones - ones that only the junior sleuths, fresh out of spy school, pick up. But will he listen?
My Thoughts: This is the first of Ian Rankin's books I've read and I was not disappointed. As you follow the detectives and Witch's movements throughout the story, Rankin withholds just enough info to keep you guessing. At the end you even have a little twist. Enjoy!

The Devil's Teardrop by Jeffery Deaver

From the publisher: It's New Year's Eve, December 31, 1999, and Washington, D.C., is under siege. Early in the day, a grisly machine gun attack in the Dupont Circle Metro station leaves dozens dead and the city crippled with fear. A note delivered to the mayor's office pins the massacre on the Digger, a robot like assassin programmed to wreak havoc on the capital every four hours - until midnight. Only a ransom of $20 million delivered to the Digger's accomplice - and mastermind - will end the death and terror. But the Digger becomes a far more sinister threat when his accomplice is killed in a freak accident while en route to the money drop. With the ransom note as the single scrap of evidence, Special Agent Margaret Lukas calls upon Parker Kincaid, a retired FBI agent and the top forensic document examiner in the country. Somehow, by midnight, they must find the Digger - before he finds them."
My thoughts: I've read several of Deaver's books and always come away feeling I've read a good book. This was no exception. Through a couple of twists and turns this keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. I even felt a sorry for the Digger, but you'll have to read it to find out why.