Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Synopsis: The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby's youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated with the display of enormous wealth in which Gatsby revels, finds himself swept up in the lavish lifestyle of Long Island society during the Jazz Age. Considered Fitzgerald's best work, The Great Gatsby is a mystical, timeless story of integrity and cruelty, vision and despair.
The timeless story of Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan is widely acknowledged to be the closest thing to the Great American Novel ever written.

Publisher: Caedmon; Unabridged edition (October 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060098910
ISBN-13: 978-0060098919

My thoughts: This book, a story taking place in the '20s written in the 20s was remarkable to me. The characters, mostly shallow personalities, came to life. The writing was beautiful, the descriptions painted in word. I liked that the story was told with little outside information to clutter it. I enjoyed "reading" it for the prose although I don't usually like reading such tragic stories. In the end I felt sad for Gatsby. Even though he gained his wealth through criminal activities he showed loyalty and love which lacked in the object of his devotion, Daisy. Guess I'll have to watch the movie again. I listened to this on my iPod.

SparkNotes for The Great Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby website.
Read it online here.

100+ Reading Challenge
5x4 Reading challenge
RYOB Challenge

classic, romance, tragedy, wealth, greed, American Dream

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Won!

Check it out! LadyTink at Up Close and Personal With LadyTink had this great contest and I won the Grand Prize: 4 books by Tate Hallaway. The are from Hallaway's Garnet Lacy (Dead...) series and sounded like they would be fun reads. I can't wait to get them and start in. Thank you so much LadyTink! what a cool giveaway.

Just last week I I got another book in the mail that I had won. I won Blond Ambition from Yvette at True Crime Book Reviews. I'm looking forward to reading it as well. Thank you, Yvette!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

From the Book: Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (February 10, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399155341
ISBN-13: 978-0399155345

My Thoughts: This is my first book for the Southern Reading Challenge. It was a wonderful start. This compelling story is told by the three main characters in alternate chapters. The characters were well rounded out, I enjoyed getting to know them. The story was not only about race relations during the '60s Civil Rights Movement. It is also about relationships among women and other issues important to women: physical abuse, family, education and more. These women are very real. The snootiness of the more affluent women extended not only to the Help but to anyone they don't deem acceptable. I hated to see it end. I feel readers who didn't grow up during this time period should read it to gain perspective of life today. Hopefully there will be a sequel, I would love to see where Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minnie go.

The author's website.
The Help in the NY Times and in Entertainment Weekly.

Southern Reanding Challenge
100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge

Civil Rights, domestic help, southern literature

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Teaser

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts this cool weekly event.

Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. Share the title & author of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teaser. Please avoid spoilers!

Teaser from The Great Gatsby:
"I married him because I thought he was a gentleman," she said finally. "I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Divine Justice by David Baldacci

From the CD box: Known by his alias, "Oliver Stone," John Carr is the most wanted man in America. With two pulls of the trigger, the men who destroyed Stone's life and kept him in the shadows were finally silenced. But his freedom comes at a steep price: The assassinations he carried out prompt the highest levels of the U.S. government to unleash a massive manhunt. Behind the scenes, master spy Macklin Hayes is playing a very personal game of cat and mouse. He, more than anyone, wants Stone dead. With their friend and unofficial leader in hiding, the members of the Camel Club risk everything to save him. Now, as the hunters close in, Stone's flight from the demons of his past will take him from the power corridors of Washington, D.C., to the small, isolated coal-mining town of Divine, Virginia-and into a world every bit as lethal as the one he left behind.

My Thoughts: This was a CD set that I won from J Kaye and I sure did enjoy it. This is the first one of Baldacci's books I've "read" and will be sure to listen to or read more. I feel like I should have saved this one and read the earlier ones, but that's the way it goes. This stood by itself nicely enough. This was an edge of your seat thriller with likable characters (and hate-able ones as well.) There were a couple of very sad parts that hurt my heart. My favorite part was that it had a VERY satisfactory ending!

Visit the author's site here.

100+ Reading Challenge
Audiobok Challenge
RYOB Challenge

thriller, political thriller suspense, mystery, assassin

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Mystery of Grace by Charles De Lint

About the book: Three years after his last major adult novel, Charles de Lint returns with a new tale of magic, loss, and redemption, his first book set in the Southwest. Centered on a remarkable female protagonist and entirely self-contained, this is a modern contemporary fantasy as invented band pioneered by de Lint himself. Altagracia—her friends call her Grace—has a tattoo of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia on her shoulder; she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg; and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that'll never wash out.
Grace works at Sanchez Motor Works, customizing hot rods. A few blocks around her small apartment building is all her world—from the grocery store where she buys beans, tamales and cigarettes to the library, the little record shop, and the Solona Music Hall. Which is where she meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.
Grace and John fall for one another, and that would be wonderful, except that they're both haunted by unfinished business. Before their relationship can be resolved, they're both going to have to learn things they don't know about the world of the living and the world beyond. About why it's necessary to let some things go.

My Thoughts: This is the first one of De Lint's books I've read and I liked it. I found the story and the characters intriguing. It was different from most of the UF that I read in that it wasn't a thriller at all. It was about the afterlife, a seemingly doomed love story, all revolving around the power of faith. There was just a touch of spice, nothing too hot, and had very little violence. The end of the story was a little too open ended for me, though. I like to know what happened. I will read more of De Lint's books

100+ Reading Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge

urban fantasy, contempory fantasy, fantasy, ghosts, afterlife, witch, magic

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Christmas Day Murders by Sheriff J. B. Smith and D. W. Adams

Synopsis: When the bodies of Carla and Stephen Barron were discovered early one Christmas morning, the search for the killer began. The murder investigation that ensued is full of shocking discoveries and provides keen insight into the world of the Texas sheriff who directed the investigation. Critical evidence led Sheriff J.B. Smith’s team to solve one of the most compelling cases ever seen.
My Thoughts: This is my first foray into this kind of true crime. I've read "The Monster of Florence" by Douglas Preston, "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson and listened to "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote, and "Jack the Ripper" by Patricia Cornwell and it did not compare well to any of these. But to be fair it wasn't presented as a work of literature but as a chronicle.
I think this book would appeal mostly to a local audience. That's why I chose it. The case was covered with lots of details but there were included a lot of rabbit trails mostly about the sheriff and his friends. I did not think it was appropriate to include the story of his friend who flew in prostitutes in from New York City. It had nothing to do with the story and was kind of just thrown in.

This was a quick read at 219 pages. The local references brought the story close to my heart. I felt grief for this apparently decent couple.

The fact that pictures of the murdered couple, taken at the scene of the murder, were included was beyond bad taste, at least to me. Especially for a book that would certainly have mostly local appeal. I think the description was sufficient. Their dignity was stripped from them in the most callous way. Are these kinds of pictures generally included in true crime books?

I hate to sound so negative about this, The Sheriff is a very popular person in his area, a sought ofter speaker, and a force in the community for good. Go here to read a little more about him. Scroll to the very bottom of this page and click on Video Clips to see several very short clips.

100+ Reading Challenge
Support your Local Library Challenge

true crime, murder, nonfiction

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kiss by Ted Dekker & Erin Healy

Synopsis: After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion. Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged.
Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it. In this blind game of cat and mouse that states even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

My Thoughts: This was my kind of thriller. I enjoyed listening to it and sometimes sat in the driveway waiting for a stopping place. There were twists and turns, a little romance and a little paranormal thrown in. All in all this was another good read from Ted Dekker. In fact had it been a book instead of an audio I would call it a page turner. My only complaint would be that I just hate it when characters talk around subjects but never directly address it so don't learn what they need to. This device was used several times and was just a little frustrating. I'm thinking "Just ask him!"

But don't let this deter you, go read it, you'll like it!

100+ Reading Challenge
Audiobook Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge

thriller, christian fiction, Ted Dekker

Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills

From the back: Erin Neal has been living a secluded life in the Arizona desert since the death of his girlfriend and he isn't happy when an oil company executive appears on his doorstep. A number of important Saudi oil wells have stopped producing and Erin is the world's foremost expert in analyzing and preventing oil field disasters.
As far as he's concerned, though, he left that world behind long ago. Unfortunately, Homeland Security sees things differently. Erin quickly finds himself stuck in the Saudi desert studying a new bacteria with a voracious appetite for oil and an uncanny ability to corrode drilling equipment. Worst of all is its ability to spread. It soon becomes clear that if this contagion isn't stopped, it will infiltrate the planet's petroleum reserves and cut the industrial world off from the energy that provides the heat, food, and transportation necessary for survival. As the scale of the coming disaster continues to grow, Erin realizes that there's something eerily familiar about this bacteria. And that it couldn't possibly have evolved on its own...

My thoughts: This was the first Kyle Mills book I've read. It was a fascinating read, if a little slow in the beginning. How scary to think that someone, one person, could destroy the whole world? This is not your normal thriller, it becomes a cautionary tale using real-world detail and giving a good look at what could very well happen if anything really did happen to the oil supply. Yikes!
That being said, I did not become involved with the characters except the FBI guy, Mark Beamon. I had to keep reminding myself throughout the book that ERIN was the guy. I've always seen the guys name spelled Aaron and the girls Erin. That kind of grated. Petty details, I know.

Read the author's thoughts about this book. Really, it's interesting.

100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Reading Challenge

Eco thriller, thriller, mystery, political thriller

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Product Description: Born and abandoned in Newgate Prison, Moll Flanders is forced to make her won way in life. she duly embarks on a career that includes husband-hunting, incest, bigamy, prostitution and pick-pocketing, until her crimes eventually catch up with her. One of the earliest and most vivid female narrators in the history of the English novel, Moll recounts her adventures with irresistible wit and candour and enough guile that the reader is left uncertain whether she is ultimately a redeemed sinner or a successful opportunist.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed listening to this story. It was originally published in 1772 and gave many details of life, customs, morals and traditions in those times. I felt sorry for Moll trapped as she was. It really was very compelling and I'm glad that I finally "read" it

I liked this commentary about Moll Flanders.

100+ Reading Challenge
Audiobook Challenge
RYOB Challenge
Daniel Defoe Mini Challenge
5x4 Self challenge
The Guardian 1000 Novels Challenge

Classic novels, classics, Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Little Painter of Sabana Grande By Patricia Maloney Markun

From the back: Fernando longs to paint during the dry season vacation from school. Only after making his own colors does he realize he has no paper on which to paint. His resourceful solution to the problem, with family and community support, is to paint on the adobe houses of his village. Cultural details abound in the presentation of home life, and the flora and fauna he paints. The story, based on a memory of the author while living in Panama, includes a glossary."

My thoughts: My class enjoyed this story and enjoyed creating their own drawings of nature. I liked the look into another culture. This book was an Américas Award Commended Book

100+ Reading Challenge
Books Around the World Challenge
RYOB Challenge

Children’s literature, Panama

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Synopsis: Car mechanic and sometime shapeshifter Mercy Thompson has learned, the hard way, why her race was almost exterminated. When European vampires immigrated to North America, they found Mercy's people had a hidden talent - for vampire slaying. Unfortunately for Mercy, the queen of the local vampire seethe has discovered her true identity. She's also furious when she learns Mercy has crossed her and killed one of her vampires. Mercy may be protected from direct reprisals by the werewolf pack (and her interesting relationship with its Alpha), but that just means Marsilia will come after Mercy some other way. So Mercy had better prepare to watch her back.

My Thoughts: This is the 4th Mercy Thompson book and well worth the wait! Among all the paranormal fiction available today this series shines. The characters are engaging, some likable, some not and others you just don't know about. The two main story lines kept it moving right along. I like Adam even better. He is the Alpha but he is kind and sensitive to Mercy's needs. If you have read the other books and liked them I know you will enjoy this one. If you haven't then maybe you should .

100+ Reading Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge

paranormal, urban fantasy, mystery, werewolves, vampires

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

From the flap: Mma Ramotswe's ever-ready tiny white van has recently developed a rather disturbing noise. Of course, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni-her estimable husband and one of Botswana's most talented mechanic--is the man to turn to for help. But Precious suspects he might simply condemn the van and replace it with something more modern. Can she find a way to save her old friend/

In the meantime, Mma Makutsi discovers that her old rival Violet Sephotho, who could not have gotten more than fifty percent on her typing final at the Botswana Secretarial College, has set her sights on non other than Mma Makutsi's fiance, Phuti Radiphuti. Can Mma Ramotswe's intuition save the day? Finally, the proprietor of a local football team has enlisted the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency to help explain its dreadful losing streak. The owner of the team is convinced he has a traitor in his midst. But how is Mma Ramotswe, who has never seen a football match in her life, going to discern who is throwing the game? Help, it turns out, may come from an unexpected quarter.
There are few mysteries that can't be solved and fewer problems that can't be fixed when the irrepressible Precious Ramotswe puts her mind them. A good cup of red bush tea might be the best solution of all.

My thoughts: This is the tenth book in this series and is as good as the first. I read somewhere that people say nothing happens in these books. Well, it may seem so but believe me plenty happens. The pace of life is slow but life has a way of happening all around. I love reading Mma Ramotswe's thoughts on subjects as she goes about her daily business of working at her Detective Agency, spending time with friends, drinking refreshing red bush tea, taking care of her husband and her foster children. In this book we finally learn the younger apprentice's name: Fanwell. We see the friendship of Grace and Precious deepen even though they don't always agree on subjects, like chairs for example. Mma Makutsi thinks that "The trouble with this country is that there are too many people sitting down in other people's chairs," while Mma Ramotswe insists that "There are not enough of us prepared to share our chairs." I usually read the book then listen to the audiobook. This is the only series I do this with.

I'm going to miss the tiny white van. Perhaps she will get it back.

Visit the author's site here. Click on multimedia and you cna view an interview with McCall Smith.

Here is an interesting article on the series.

100+ Reading Challenge
Support Your Local Library Challenge

mystery, humorous, detective, cozy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits by Celia Rivenbark

Synopsis: From the bestselling author of WE'RE JUST LIKE YOU, ONLY PRETTIER and BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP comes a hilarious new book.
Hang on to your hats! We're in for some fiercely funny weather and crackling-sharp observations from Celia Rivenbark, of whom USA Today has said, "Think Dave Barry with a female point of view." With her incomparable style and sassy southern wit, You'll hear from Celia on:
  • The joys of remodeling Tara
  • How Harry Potter bitch-slaps Nancy Drew
  • Britney's To-Do list: pick okra, cover that thang up
  • How rugby-playing lesbians torpedoed beach day
  • Why French women suck at competitive eating
  • The truth about nature deficit disorder
  • The difference between cockroaches and water bugs
  • The beauty of Bedazzlers
  • And much, much more!

Whether she's doing her taxes or extolling the virtues of Madonna's mothering skills, Celia Rivenbark will keep you laughing until the very last page.

My thoughts: Well I think that synopsis about says it all. I laughed a lot while listening to this. I read another of her books and I don't remember so many "s" words. I found that a little off putting after awhile. There was a little political commentary, which I try to avoid. Otherwise it was a hoot! I have another of her books in a TBR pile for the Southern Reading Challenge 2009.

humor, southern humor, nonfiction, southern, commentary, essays

100+ Reading Challenge
RYOB Reading Challenge
Audiobook Challenge

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Power Play by Joseph Finder

It is the perfect retreat for a troubled company. No cell phones. No Blackberrys. No cars. Just luxurious, remote lodge surrounded by miles of wilderness.

All the top officers of Hammond Aerospace Coporation are there. And one last minute substitute - Jake Landry. he's a steady, modest and taciturn guy with a gift for keeping his head down and a past he is trying to forget.
Jake's uncomfortable with all the power players he's been thrown in with, with all the swaggering and posturing. The only person he knows there is the female CEO's assistant, his ex-girlfriend Ali.
When a band of backwoods hunters crash he opening-night dinner, the executives suddenly find themselves held hostage by armed men who will do anything, to anyone, to get their hands on the largest ransom in history. Now, terrified and desperate and cut off from the rest of the world, the captives are at the mercy of hard men with guns who may not e what the seem.
The corporate big shots hadn't wanted Jake there. But now he's the only one who can save them.
My thoughts: This story carried through with thrills and action. It was a quick read and I will definitely read more of Finders work! The characters were filled out and I found myself liking Jake and Ali, disliking the "hunters" and disliking some of the corporate big wigs even more.
The author's web site is here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

About the book: The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council--and there's only one, final punishment for that crime. He's on the run, wants his name cleared, and needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Someone like Harry Dresden.
Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head--someone like Harry.
My Thoughts:This was the 11th installment of the Dresden Files and I liked it a lot. Morgan, who until now has made Harry's life miserable, is accused of killing another wizard and comes to Harry for help. As much a Harry dislikes Morgan he knows Morgan couldn't have done this. He sets out to prove Morgan's innocence and runs into a variety of enemies including a skinwalker, The Binder, and the Black Council. The Skinwalker kidnaps Thomas, wanting to exchange him for Morgan.
I think this book is a turning point in the series. A relationship is ended, people (esp. Thomas) are changed, and, Morgan, a character who's been around since the beginning dies. This novel contains a lot of action, what a page turner! It is interesting that characters that have been around since the beginning reveal things about themselves we didn't know before.
There are two story lines in this novel. One is Harry's search for the truth behind the death of the wizard Morgan is accused of killing. The second involves the threat of the Black Council, proving that it is in fact real. But by the end of this novel questions are answered and the stage is set for for the next novel. Harry has found allies in his fight to find the Black Council. Can't wait to read it!
I enjoyed the humor through out this book. I also enjoyed seeing the return of the werewolves, the involvement of the White Court, and the important part played by Toot-Toot. I would love for Mouse to have a bigger part!
100+ Reading Challenge
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