Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

From the cover:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of Francie Nolan and the world of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that made her. It is a story of tears and laughter, cruelty and compassion, so crowded with life and people and incident that no description can begin to convey its spell. From the moment she entered the world Francie needed to know toughness, for life in Williamsburg was lived without kid gloves. You faced up to it or you went down - and Katie Nolan's children were not the kind to go down. It was no matter if the neighbors scorned the Nolans because of Johnny's liking for the bottle, and because Aunt Sissy had a habit of marrying many times without the formality of divorce. Aunt Sissy was bad, but she was good too. She was good because wherever she was there was life; fine, tender, overwhelming, fun loving and strong-scented life. And is a different way Johnny had something of the same quality.

Whatever might be said of life in the Nolan family, no one could complain that it lacked drama. With junk day coming every Saturday, when the children traded their weekly take for pennies, with the Fourth of July, Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving and Christmas bringing their special excitements once a year, with all the world that wasn't Williamsburg lying just across the bridge in Manhattan - each day was filled to bursting.

My Thoughts: I can't believe that I never read this book before. I decided to read it for my 5x4 Challenge, Books Older Than Me That Are Sitting on My Shelf. I haven't been sorry. This is a wonderful story. It follows Francie and her family through a few years of life in a lower class neighborhood in Brooklyn. I found Francie to be a delightful character. I enjoyed learning about life and survival in that day and age, the early 1900s. Smith rounded her characters out so well that you feel that they are friends, you grieve and laugh with them. My heart broke for Francie after she fell in love for the first time only to find out he had "tricked" her. My heart soared for her and the family as their circumstances changed for the better at the end. Read it if you haven't.

100+ Reading Challenge
5x4 Personal Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

Synopsis:Lucy Savage is finally getting rid of Bradley-and his hideous green recliner. Bradley is out of her life for good. Or so she thinks. Turns out Officer Zack Warren wants to arrest the very same Bradley for embezzlement and figures the lovely Lucy can lead him straight to his target. Good thing there's a cop around. Because someone shoots at Lucy and then blows up her car. Zack insists she needs twenty-four-hour protection. What does he think her three dogs and attack cat are for? Still, he insists on moving right in to Lucy's house. Now there's danger lurking outside and in her own kitchen, bathroom-and bedroom. Or maybe Zack is just what Lucy needs....

My Thoughts: I haven't read a Jennifer Cruise book yet that I haven't enjoyed. I don't read much in the way of romance books and lean toward funny ones when I do. Cruise's always make me laugh. I love the way Lucie and Zach talk, the banter has some really witty moments. Lucy was a very cute character, green hair and all.

Of course I love the three dogs with personalities of their own, especially Heisenburg, her moppy dog, who plays dead until someone shouts “dead dog." At that, he springs to life wagging his tail. This is his own dog joke. It is too cute and easy for dog lovers to relate to! I had to love Zach for Lucy when he brought her a homeless dog to add to the other three.

If you like cute, quick reads with a little spice thrown in this one is for you.
100+ Reading Challenge
Audiobook Challenge
RYOB Challenge

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey

What it's about: A spoof of the movie "Godzilla", with dog and mice characters. When Dogzilla invades Mousopolis, the rodent inhabitants must decide on a plan to rid themselves of this terrible menace before their city is chewed to pieces. One of Dav Pilkey's best known, and best-loved books. This wacky tale features colorful collages, manipulated photographs, and paintings. Warning: Some material may be too goofy for grown-ups! Full color.

My Thoughts: This is a FUNNY book. I read it to my kids every year and they always ask for more. It is goofy, it's full of word play, puns and wonderfully silly pictures. The warning above is actually on the title page. Here is one of my favorite lines: "The Big Cheese tried to catch up to the hot dog with all the relish he could muster."

Visit the author's site here.

100+ Reading Challenge

children's literature, dog, funny

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Borderline by Nevada Barr

From the Jacket: Drained and haunted by the killings on Isle Royale, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and on administrative leave by order of her superintendent, the one bright spot in Anna’s life is Paul, her husband of less than a year. Hoping the warmth and the adventure of a raft trip in Big Bend National Park will lift her spirits, Paul takes Anna to southwest Texas, where the sun is hot and the Rio Grande is running high. The sheer beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert and the power of the river work their magic—until the raft is lost in the rapids and a young college student makes a grisly discovery. Hair and arms tangled in the downed branches of a strainer between two boulders, more dead than alive, is a pregnant woman. Nature, it turns out, isn’t the only one who wants to see the woman and her baby dead. Instead of the soul-soothing experience Paul planned for her, Anna and her husband are sucked into a labyrinth of intrigue that leads from the Mexican desert to the steps of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas.
My Thoughts: I started reading this series because they are set in National Parks all around the states and my husband and I try to visit as many as we can. I'm a long time fan of Nevada Barr and this series staring Anna Piegon. I found this book, # 15, to be a real page turner, well written and lots of action. It was especially appealing because it was set in the Big Bend National Park in my home state. I liked that Paul was with her and we got to see a softer side of Anna as she cared for the baby she rescued. The side story of the stranded cow was interesting, and if you watch the video on the authors site, you'll find that it was based on truth. I liked this book a lot and I think you will too.
100+ Reading Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge
See a video with Barr talking about this book.

Bookfriends Award

I've really been having fun with all my new Bookfriends. It is nice to have someone to discuss books with! And to think I actually have follwers, thank you so much!
Teddyree at the Eclectic Reader
Desert Rose at Desert Rose Booklogue

Friday, April 24, 2009

In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez

From the back: An uproarious new novel in the tradition of Robert Asprin and Terry Pratchett!For someone who's immortal, Never Dead Ned manages to die with alarming frequency--he just has the annoying habit of rising from the grave. But this soldier might be better dead than face his latest assignment. Ogre Company is the legion's dumping ground--a motley, undisciplined group of monsters whose leaders tend to die under somewhat questionable circumstances. That's where Ned's rather unique talents come in. As Ogre Company's newly appointed commander, Ned finds himself in charge of such fine examples of military prowess as a moonstruck Amazon, a very big (and very polite) two-headed ogre, a seductively scaly siren, a blind oracle who can hear (and smell) the future, a suicidal goblin daredevil pilot, a walking tree with a chip on its shoulder, and a suspiciously goblinesque orc.Ned has only six months to whip the Ogre Company into shape or face an even more hideous assignment, but that's not the worst of his problems. Because now that Ned has found out why he keeps returning from dead, he has to do everything he can to stay alive. . . .
My thoughts: What a hoot! This book was quite well written, with witty dialogue, and parts that make you laugh out loud. It was a quick entertaining read that I found to be right up my reading alley. In this book , Never Dead Ned, an accountant, is put in charge of a military company of misfits lifted from all your favorite fantasies, ogres, goblins, an Amazon, a Siren, a walking tree that refuses to be called an "Ent" but prefers Treefolk, etc. Ned is a unique character to me in that he is so inept, such a poor leader, yet he wins the heart of his new command. I loved that Martinez named a pair of twin ogres Martin and Lewis. I guess I'm old enough to remember that particular pair of comedians. Pick this up, read it and see if you can spot all the fantasy and pop-culture references included. If you like Terry Pratchett's books (and I do) I think you'll like this.
Here is the author's MySpace.
100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read and open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's mine:
"Growing up spoiled a lot of things. It spoiled the nice
game they had when there was nothing to eat in the house."
Page 165, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Product Description:.From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is “laugh-out-loud funny.” Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman. Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” In this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.

My Thoughts: This is the first book of Bryson's that I've read and I love it. Well, actually I listened to it on my iPod and thoroughly enjoyed hearing to the author read it himself. It was well written and funny. It made me laugh and brought back memories. I grew up in the same time period and vividly remember ducking under my little school desk in California to practice a safety drill in the event of an atomic bomb blast, wondering "What difference will this make?" I listened to his telling of this twice before moving on. What a hoot! Not only does he bring back favorite childhood memories he touches on darker aspects of the era such as the fight for Civil Rights, the atomic bomb, and the Bay of Pigs. I think this will be enjoyed by anyone, not just baby boomers. Go get it and read it!

100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge
Audiobook Challenge
5x4 Personal Reading Challenge
Read Around the States Challenge

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

From the book: Some wounds take time to heal . . . and some scars never fade.
Rachel Morgan, kick-ass witch and bounty hunter, has taken her fair share of hits, and has broken lines she swore she would never cross. But when her lover was murdered, it left a deeper wound than Rachel ever imagined, and now she won't rest until his death is solved . . . and avenged. Whatever the cost.
Yet the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and when a new predator moves to the apex of the Inderlander food chain, Rachel's past comes back to haunt her. Literally.

My Thoughts: I was anxiously waiting for this book and it wasn't what I was expecting. At 500 pages I think a lot of things could have been left out or condensed and other things brought forward. For example : less of Ivy and Rachel and Jinx forever going on and on about the relationship Ivy and Rachel long for with each other but don't have. More info please about Matilda, Jinx's' sickly wife.
I'm sorry, the above seems like griping and I only wish I could write well enough to write fiction like Kim Harrison has given us. I have loved this series and even though this book was a little disappointing to me, in the end I enjoyed it and look forward to more in this series. At least we found out who killed Kisten. The hook at the end has me ready to read more. Trent sent Rachel a Pandora charm to help her remember. Remember what will be in the next book! If you haven't read this series do not start with this one.

100+ Reading Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge
Chunkster Challenge

Friday, April 17, 2009


Isn't this a cool award! Thanks, Teddyree, I love it! Teddyree said "It's an award that's given to viewers who comment or 'chat-a-lot." I love reading her posts and reading about the books she has
read. Go visit her at the Eclectic Reader!

And look at this pretty award from Desert Rose! This award is given to new blogs or newly found blogging friends. Thank you Desert Rose for visiting my blog and giving this to me.
Yvette from True Crime Book Reviews also shared this Lovely Blog Award with me. Thank you!!
I have enjoyed the blogs of both Desert Rose and True Crime Book Reviews.I sure have gotten some great leads on new books to check out!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1776 by David McCullough

Synopsis: In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence — when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King's men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.
At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books — Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of winter.
But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost — Washington, who had never before led an army in battle. Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough's 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.

My thoughts: I am not, I am sorry to say, a reader of history. So in order to broaden my reading I included 4 histories in my personal 5x4 Reading Challenge. 1776 was one of them. It was a great choice for me as I found it to be very readable. McCullough's followed Washington and his army throughout 1776 to give a great summary of the events of that year. The book focused on the army and didn't visit the Continental Congress, the debates or anything else. The inclusion of writing from people including soldiers, officers and wives was interesting. I particularly enjoyed the snippets of information about the people involved, both American and English. The look into their lives and personalities brought them to life for me. I'd say go for it!

YouTube interview with David McCullough.

100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge
5x4 Challenge

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

From the back: The last man on earth is not alone. Robert Neville may well be the only survivor of an incurable plague that has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.
By day, he scavenges for food and supplies, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But all the while the infected lurk in the shadows, watching his every move, waiting for him to make a mistake...

My thoughts: I liked it. After having seen all three movies based on this story (The Last Man on Earth staring Vincent price, The Omega Man staring Charlton Heston, and I Am Legend staring Will Smith) it was about time to read it. The book seemed to me to be more about the man than about vampires. While reading I could feel his anger, despair and loneliness. I ached for him when he realized he was no longer the norm but the beast, the stuff of legend.

I did not realize that only half of this book was "I Am Legend" and the other half was short stories. I read through those, liked some and didn't like others.

100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge
The Guardian Book challenge

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Deader Still by Anton Strout

Synopsis: It's been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs' last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry-the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it-agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end-until his life does.

My Thoughts: Once again I was attracted to a book by its cover. I like Urban Fantasy and it has the look, it reminded me of a Jim Butcher book. I read the line above the title: "It's hard to defeat evil on a budget." It made me laugh so I bought it. Had I bothered to read farther (like the bottom of the book) or the back I would have discovered that this is the second in a series. At home I read the back and found that it starts out with a boat load of dead lawyers. What can I say? I always laugh at lawyer jokes..... The hero, Simon Canderous is a fun character with toungue firmly in cheek. He's your ordinary guy, sometimes insecure and jealous, impulsive, and relationship challenged.
I thought this book was some what unique in the urban fantasy genre. For example, it makes fun of how many forms Simon has to fill out over any incident. This book ends in a cliff hanger, Simon and his partner, Connor, are walking out of the department to search for Connor's missing brother. I'm looking forward to the third book and in the meantime I plan to get the first one and read it.

Visit the author's site here.

100+ Reading challenge
RYOB Challenge

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe

About the book: Robinson Crusoe was first published in 1719 under the title "The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York. Mariner; who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pirates. Written by Himself."
Robinson Crusoe is thought to be inspired by the life of the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned himself.

My Thoughts: I feel a little inadequate to review a book that has been popular for nearly 300 years. It is an amazing adventure story, but not the edge of your seat kind of adventure we are used to today. I listened to it and am glad I did. Hearing it helped me understand it better. The the beginning was somewhat repetitive but once past that it rolled right along. I've read several reviews where people complained about the old fashioned language, misspellings etc. It is what it is, a 300 year old novel. I'm glad I read (listened to)it, I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

I love the titles of old books. Just look at that monster of a title for this one. You've got your synopsis right there.

Themes, Motifs & Symbols at SparkNotes.
Read Robinson Crusoe online here or here.
Go here to read a comparison of Crusoe and Selkirk.


100+ Reading Challenge

Daniel DeFoe Mini Challenge

5x4 Challenge

Tarzan and the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughes

Product Description: Betrayed, drugged into oblivion, and captured--thus came Tarzan to be a prisoner in the deepest dungeon of Opar, lost Atlantis city of gold. But even as the flames of treason engulfed La, Queen of Opar, she sacrificed all to rescue him. Followed by Tarzan's fierce golden lion, Jad-bal-ja, they escaped into the deadly Valley of the Palace of Diamonds, where cruel bejeweled gorillas hungered to destroy Queen La and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.

My thoughts: This book was first put out in 1923. The copy I have (pictured) is from 1945. I chose to read this in my 5x4 personal challenge. The section is "Books That Are Older Than Me That Are Sitting On My Bookshelf." I have never read a Burroughes book but have intended to read this for years. Tarzan is timeless, a good hearted hero everyone knows. I enjoyed reading it just for that. There’s good and bad writing. There's not much character development and there are plenty of cheap thrills. The good guys were good, the bad guys were bad,the women beautiful and in love with Tarzan. One of the main plot devices, a look-alike for Tarzan, was pretty bad. You know the kind of bad I mean,: so bad you have to love it. I would have loved this as a youngster when I desperately wanted a pet lion! Who knows, I might read another, it really was a fun read.

Read in his own words how Burroughes came to write Tarzan here.
Read about Tarzan books here.
Read a guide to this book here.
Go here to see this book going for over $7,000.
100+ Reading challenge
5x4 Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge

Check it out. You can purchase a statue here.

Description - ReelArt Studios presents a tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs's iconic jungle hero Tarzan of the Apes.Inspired by the classic illustration of Burroughs artist J. Allen St. John the statue depicts Tarzan and Jad-bal-ja his fierce golden lion from the dust cover of the 1923 first edition A. C. McClurg book of the same title

Mean Streets by Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green Kat Richardson, Thomas e. Siegoski

Product Description:From four of today’s hottest fantasy authors—all-new novellas of dark nights, cruel cities, and paranormal P.I.s.The best paranormal private investigators have been brought together in a single volume—and cases don’t come any harder than this.New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher delivers a hard-boiled tale in which Harry Dresden’s latest case may be his last.Nightside dweller John Taylor is hired by a woman to find something she lost—her memory—in a thrilling noir tale from New York Times bestselling author Simon R. Green.National bestselling author Kat Richardson’s Greywalker finds herself in too deep when a “simple job” goes bad and Harper Blaine is enmeshed in a tangle of dark secrets and revenge from beyond the grave. For centuries, the being that we know as Noah lived among us. Now he is dead, and fallen-angel-turned-detective Remy Chandler has been hired to find out who killed him in a whodunit by national bestselling author Thomas E. Sniegoski.

My thoughts: This little book contains stories from two of my favorite urban fantasy authors: Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green.

In "The Warrior" Butcher's Harry Dresden was at his best in this story involving Michael's great sword Amoracchius. Harry 's good friend and former Knight of the Cross, Michael and family may be in danger so Harry had to do something. Someone wants Michael's old sword, a holy weapon against evil, which was given to Harry for safe keeping. It is not a long story but you still get a good feel for Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard and all-around good guy. I really wish that the Sci-Fi series based on these stories had made it.

In"The Difference a Day Makes" Simon R. Green's John Tyler, of the Nightside, was once again involved in a weird story that could only happen in the Nightside. A woman, sent to John by Razor Eddie, wants John, whose talent is finding anything, to help her find her lost memories and her husband. I like Green's strange stories, and the even stranger world of Nightside.

I had not read anything by the other two authors but enjoyed their short stories so much that I'll have to look up some of their books!

In "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" Kat Richardson's heroine Harper Blaine, is able to talk to the dead. She is contacted and hired to place a dog statue on a grave in Mexico during Dia Las Muertos. I liked Harper and the ghost dog was great. But then I'm a sucker for dogs.

In "Noah's Orphans" Thomas E. Sniegoski's character, Remy Chandler, is an angel who has chosen to leave heaven behind, and is now making his living as a private detective. The title of the story referes to the ancient being Noah (of Ark fame) who has been murdered. I really liked Remy and his dog Marlowe (whose thoughts Remey can understand.) Like I said before, about dogs.

Urban fantasy fans - get this one.
100+ Reading Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell

About the book: In this retelling of The Three Little Pigs set in the American Southwest, the cherished porkers are transformed into javelinas, the hairy, swinelike creatures also known as peccaries. Their pursuer, no longer the wolf of traditional lore, becomes Coyote, that ubiquitous Southwestern trickster. In her first book for children, Lowell spices the story with elements of Native American, Mexican and Old West culture. Javelina No. 1 builds his house of tumbleweed, while his brother relies on saguaro ribs. Twice Coyote huffs and puffs and the lightweight dwellings fall, but the peccaries are saved by their resourceful sister, who has had the foresight to build her home of stout adobe bricks. This clever and flavorful change of scene puts a diverting spin on an old favorite. Harris's lively, finely detailed illustrations, with the bristling, pink-nosed peccaries clad in cowboy outfits, amusingly contrast the villain's vigorous wiles with the title characters' cozy domesticity.
My thoughts: Loved it! The story was cute, the illustrations were great. Used this one in class and the kids did a venn to compare it to the traditional version. Funny note: One of my little girls said "It was the GIRL pig who was smart!"
View the author's site here.
100+ Reading challenge
RYOB Challenge
children's literature, children

An Award!

Cool! This is the first award I've recieved! Becky from My Thoughts....Your Thoughts? gave it to me. Thank you!! Isn't this a cool picture?

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...

I'd like to pass it on to these 5.......
The Eclectic Reader
Maggie Reads
James Viscosi’s Scribblings