Friday, March 27, 2009

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett

When Bo spots what he thinks is a "rip-roarin', rootin'-tootin', shiny red armadillo," he knows what he has to do. Follow that armadillo! Bo leaves his mother and three brothers behind and takes off for a two-stepping, bronco-bucking adventure. Jan Brett turns her considerable talents toward the Texas countryside in this amusing story of an armadillo on his own.

My Thoughts: Jan Brett is one of my very favorite author/illustrators of children's books. Her pictures are always wonderful, vibrant, and inviting. Each year when we do our Texas unit, I read this story to my class. It is a fun read with lots of teaching opportunities, the least of which not being that the armadillo is the Texas state small mammal (the large state amimal being the Longhorn.) The class loved this story and wanted to hear it again.

Visit Jan Brett here. Lots of cool activities for the kids!

children's literature, children,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Guersey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.
My Thoughts: I listened to this book and I loved it! I liked the way it was written, in a series of letters. It made the people so real as did the voice given to them by the multiple narrators . I was in tears in a couple of parts, outraged at other parts and smiling through out. The book is narrated so well that you will love each main character and count him or her as a friend. Please, do yourself a favor and read it. This will probably be one of my favorite books of the year. After all, I am a sucker for a happy ending!
Official site of the book. You can even find a Potato Peel Pie recipe here.

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

From the Inside Flap: Illus. in color. Horton, the lovable elephant, tries to protect tiny creatures on a speck of dust. An easy reader with delightful verse and pictures.
My Thoughts: This is among my favorite Seuss books. The kids enjoy hearing it and I like reading it. I enjoy the sound of the made up words in rhyming verses, the joyous feel of the text as it is spoken. It's a good lesson on caring for and respecting others no matter if they are different than you. What's not to like?
Seussville - kids games with Horton.
100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge
children's literature, Dr. Seuss, compassion

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fool by Christipher Moore

From the jacket: A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years, from the time the king's grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly Liege's side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brown nose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father's request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.
Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country's about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart's wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He's already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he's going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear's good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia's twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who's amenable to shagging along the way.
Pocket may be a fool . . . but he's definitely not an idiot.

My thoughts: Moore said: "This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank...If that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!" Well, it is that and more. It is liberally sprinkled with the "f" word and illusions to the "f" word. I think a few of them could have been edited out. Part of me was thinking "I can't believe I'm reading this", and part of me was laughing out loud. I read it in two days and was thoroughly amused, as well as aghast, most of the time. This was a loose rewriting of King Lear from Pocket the Fool's point of view with snippets pulled from other Shakespeare plays thrown in. I had to laugh every time the ghost showed up. Each time someone said "There's always a bloody ghost." I have read several Moore books and have enjoyed them, so expected to like this one as well. I'd have to be careful with a recommendation though. I enjoyed it, it made me laugh. I LOVE a funny book and seek them out. However, if you are offended by the kind of thing described above, don't get it. I'll have to say that the sex, even though abundant, wasn't nearly as explicit as, say, a scene from a Sandra Brown novel.

Video: Moore talks about Fool.

Moore's website.

Read an article about Fool.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pandora's Daughter by Iris Johansen

From the back: For as long as she can remember, successful young physician Megan Blair has tried to silence the voices in her head---voices that bring her to the edge of madness and terror. Megan possesses psychic powers that have been dormant for years, hidden deep in the past she's tried so desperately to forget. But now everything has come to a boiling point---someone is trying to kill her, and others are trying to use her, including the deadly and seductive Neal Grady. Shocking secrets about her life and her mother's death bombard her as she fights to take control of her heritage and save herself and everything she believes in. Grady holds the key to understanding her future, a future in which Megan's life will never be the same.If she survives to have a future.
My thoughts: I first started reading Johansen's Eve Duncan novels and enjoyed them so have continued to read other's of hers. Pandora's Daughter is a fast paced story with a little paranormal thrown in, a variety of psychic gifts. It was a quick read but I found Neal, the romantic interest for Megan a little creepy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke

Book flap: Fresh-faced Indiana college student Chelsea Hart is so excited to spend the final hours of her spring break in the VIP room of an elite New York City club that she remains behind when her girlfriends call it a night. The next morning, as her concerned friends anxiously pace their hotel lobby, joggers find Chelsea's body in East River Park, her wavy blond hair brutally hacked off.
NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher catches the case and homes in on the group of privileged men who were last seen plying Chelsea with free-flowing alcohol. But before she can even gather the preliminary evidence, the gruesome murder is grabbing headlines and drawing unwanted media attention to the department. So when Ellie builds a tight case against Jake Myers, a young hedge fund manager, the department brass and the district attorney's office are elated: the case will soon be cleared, the media will tout the department's quick work, and Ellie will be a dream witness at the trial against Myers.
But Ellie has her doubts. Chelsea's murder is eerily similar to three other deaths that occurred nearly a decade ago: the victims were young, female, and in each case, the killer had taken her hair as a souvenir.
Ellie's investigation pulls her into a late-night world of exclusive clubs, conspicuous wealth, and hedonistic consumption. And her search for the truth not only pits her against her fellow cops but also places her under the watchful eye of a psychopath eager to add the prideful young female detective to his list.
My thoughts: I don't know how I missed her since this is her 5th book, but I did. When I found that the daughter of one of my all time favorite authors, James Lee Burke, was writing I checked out her newest book. I lkied it enough that I'll have to go back and read the others. Even the character, Ellie Hatcher, was in another book, this was a stand alone book. This was a good police thriller. Ellie a tough, good detective who truly cares about people. I like the way the author makes the victims human. Often victims are thinly written characters made just to be killed. Not so in this novel. They are fleshed out, humanized so much you wish they would make it. Her brother Jess and her new partner Rogan are also well written. Jess brings a little lightness and a little humor to this thriller.
Alafair Burke's blog.

Arcitc Drift by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler

Synopsis: A potential breakthrough discovery to reverse global warming . . . a series of unexplained sudden deaths in British Columbia . . . a rash of international incidents between the United States and one of its closest allies that threatens to erupt into an actual shooting war . . . NUMA director Dirk Pitt and his children, Dirk. Jr. and Summer, have reason to believe there’s a connection here somewhere, but they also know they have very little time to find it before events escalate out of control. Their only real clue might just be a mysterious silvery mineral traced to a long-ago expedition in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. But no one survived from that doomed mission, captain and crew perished to a man—and if Pitt and his colleague Al Giordino aren’t careful, the very same fate may await them.Filled with the breathtaking suspense and audacious imagination that have become his hallmarks, this is a tour de force— further proof that when it comes to adventure writing, nobody beats Clive Cussler.
My thoughts: I can't help it, I like these Dirk Pitt novels. Arctic Drift is the 20th one and was edge of your seat reading all the way through. There are several plot elements to keep track of - they come together nicely. It is very similar to other Dirk Pitt novels in that the characters are in grave danger but you know something or someone coincidental will save them at the last second. The author puts in a cameo appearance as usual as a helpful, incidental character. I always look for this, it makes me laugh. I found it to be a fun read.

Watchmen by Alam Moore & Dave Gibbons

Synopsis: It all begins with the paranoid delusions of a half-insane hero called Rorschach. But is Rorschach really insane or has he in fact uncovered a plot to murder super-heroes and, even worse, millions of innocent civilians? On the run from the law, Rorschach reunites with his former teammates in a desperate attempt to save the world and their lives, but what they uncover will shock them to their very core and change the face of the planet! Following two generations of masked superheroes from the close of World War II to the icy shadow of the Cold War comes this groundbreaking comic story -- the story of The Watchmen
My thoughts: I thought that since my husband and I will be seeing this movie, I should read the book, so I checked it out of the library. It wasn't what I expected. The superheros were not super, the characters were human and flawed as only humans can be, the bad guys were the good guys, it contains some nudity, disturbing sexual situations, and "graphic" violence. I was surprised to find that it had originally been published in the 80s. I hadn't heard of it until recently, I guess with the advent of the movie. I don't read many graphic novels but all in all I enjoyed this one. I think that the fact that it was not as I expected made it that much more enjoyable for me.
Watchmen won a Hugo Award in 1988.
Note: It is on the Time magazine list of All-Time 100 Novels.
Read about it on Wikipedia.

Breath of Scandal by Sandra Brown

From the back: On a rainy Southern night, Jade Sperry endured a young woman's worst nightmare at the hands of three local hell-raisers. Robbed of her youthful ideals and at the center of scandal and tragedy, Jade ran as far and fast as she could. But she never forgot the sleepy "company town" where every man, woman, and child was dependent on one wealth family. And she never forgave their spoiled son, who with his two friends changed her life forever. Someday, somehow, she'd return ... exacting a just revenge, fleeing herself from her enemies' grasp, and, perhaps, fulfilling a lost promise of love.

My Thoughts: I rushed to the library after work to grab another audiobook. I saw a Sandra Brown and grabbed it. It was Breath of Scandal. After reading (or rather listening to) Chill Factor I was expecting a thriller, but got an engrossing contemporary romance. It was not your typical feel good romance. I liked this story of a strong woman overcoming and making a good life for herself and her child, as well as getting revenge on those that hurt her. I liked that we learned about the main romantic interest and his life before he showed up in Jade's life. I did think it was very unrealistic to take her child, the product of the rape, back to that town to risk him being hurt, but it all turned out good in the end.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy

From the back: Okay, so jogging through Central Park after midnight wasn't a bright idea. But Margrit Knight never thought she'd encounter a dark new world filled with magical beings -- not to mention a dying woman and a mysterious stranger with blood on his hands. Her logical, lawyer instincts told her it couldn't all be real -- but she could hardly deny what she'd seen . . . and touched.
The mystery man, Alban, was a gargoyle. One of the fabled Old Races who had hidden their existence for centuries. Now he was a murder suspect, and he needed Margrit's help to take the heat off him and find the real killer.
As they worked together to figure out who was framing Alban, Margrit discovered that this man with a heart -- and body -- of stone made her feel more alive than ever, And as the dead pile up, it's a race against the sunrise to clear Alban's name and keep them both alive . . .
My thoughts: I was checking my local library's catalogue for a book called "The Gargoyle" when I ran across this book. I've read a lot of Urban Fantasy and enjoy the genre but have never read about gargoyles so since the library didn't have the one I was looking for I thought I'd try this one. It is the first book in a trilogy, which I will probably continue to read. The name of the heroine, Margrit "Grit" Knight, was a little too cute for me. Grit, the smart, tough as nails legal aid lawyer. Being so smart, I couldn't get why she was running in Central Park at midnight. I found myself skimming at times wanting to get back to the story. Enough of that, over all I liked this. The creatures the author introduced were interesting, Gargoyles, Silkies, vampire business men, dragon drug lords, and jinn hit men were all here. There were a couple of pretty good plot twists. If you like urban fantasy, you'll probably like this one.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

From the back: Cleary, North Carolina, is a sleepy mountain town -- the kind of place where criminal activity is usually limited to parking violations. Not so, lately. Four women have disappeared from Cleary over the past two years. And there's always a blue ribbon left near the spot where each of the women was last seen. There are no bodies, no other clues, and no suspicion as to who their abductor might be. And now, another woman has disappeared without a trace.
It is to this backdrop that Lilly Martin returns to close the sale of her mountain cabin, marking the end of her turbulent eight-year marriage to Dutch Burton, Cleary's chief of police. Dutch's reluctance to let her go isn't Lilly's only obstacle. As she's trying to outrun a snowstorm, her car skids on the icy road and strikes a man who emerges from the woods on foot. She recognizes the injured man as Ben Tierney, whom she'd met the previous summer. They're forced to wait out the storm in the cabin, but as the hours of their confinement mount, Lilly begins to wonder if the greatest danger to her safety isn't the blizzard outside, but the mysterious man right beside her.
Is Ben Tierney the feared abductor? Or is he who he claims to be...her rescuer from harm and from the tragedy that haunts her?
My Thoughts: My, my! This was quite a thriller. I had the bad guy figured out midway but was detoured a couple of times due to some terrific plot twists. It would make a great beach read. This story has well drawn characters, some good sexual tension, and startling revelations in subplots all tied together to make for a story that grabs you and won't let you go. I've already checked out another Sandra Brown audio from the library.
Visit the author's blog here and her website here.