Wednesday, September 30, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minutes


I was tagged with this Meme on Facebook, but I thought it fit in exceedingly well here.

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Mine, in no particular order:

  1. The Bible
  2. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. The Shack by William P. Young
  6. The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton
  7. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
  9. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  11. Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patillo Beals
  12. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
  13. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (the link goes to the first book in the series)
  14. Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore
  15. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

If you're reading this post, consider yourself tagged! Post your 15 on your blog and leave your link here in the comments, or if you're not a blogger, leave your list. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Photobucket
Click here to purchase at The Book Depository


In Dan Brown's newest novel, The Lost Symbol, Robert Langdon returns to solve mysterious Masonic codes and find secret artifacts and knowledge in order to prevent a disaster from occurring. I have read both of the previous Robert Langdon books (Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code), and enjoyed them both (though I liked Angels and Demons more). Knowing that I had kind of enjoyed his previous works, and with all of the hype and buildup around this book, I caved in and bought this hefty hardcover book brand new--something I don't usually do because I usually prefer paperbacks.

Ultimately, I was disappointed. I was not that impressed with the book. It wasn't that suspenseful for me, the subject matter didn't really grab me (I'm not that interested in the Masons and the conspiracies that surround the organization), and the mystical, supernatural aspects of the quest turned me off. Unlike the two previous books, I was unable to suspend reality to really get hooked by the storyline. I just can't wrap my head around the noetic science that was introduced in the book (call me a skeptic, but the idea practically makes me laugh out loud). There seemed to be rather large chunks of the book that didn't include Langdon at all, and for some reason I almost felt like he was not the main character in the book with all of the separate pieces of the storyline going on at the same time. The sign of a good book for me is an inability to put the book down, but I was not obsessed with trying to get to the end of this book. I was also able to figure out the true identity of the bad guy before the main characters did, which was disappointing. Finally, the lack of information about the pending disaster they were trying to prevent (beyond the threatened death of Langdon's friend) made the story less suspenseful. When I finally learned what the pending disaster was it didn't seem like as big of a deal as the characters in the book made it out to be.

Overall, if you're the kind of person who finds Masonic secrets and the idea of noetic science interesting, this book may be right up your alley. It just wasn't my cup of tea. It was a decent read that I was able to finish, but it wasn't a great read.

Book details:
Dan Brown. The Lost Symbol. Doubleday, 15 September 2009. 528 pp. $29.95 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0385504225.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday - September 28

Mailbox Monday
 
Mailbox Monday is a weekly post to share what books came into my house last week. It is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

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Picked up The Lost Symbol at Costco. I don't generally like buying new hardcovers (I'm kind of partial to paperbacks for most books), but I just couldn't help myself. The curiosity was too great, and I remembered how much I enjoyed Angels and Demons.

........................................................

I got a hardcover edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass for my kids. I have fond memories of reading this book in grade school, and got it into my head that I needed to pick up a copy *now* for our personal library. I chose hardcover because, well, they're kids, and I figured this would last longer and be a little more durable than a paperback version. Not that they'll be reading it anytime soon, but at least I'll be prepared. LOL

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I got this Christian thriller for my husband. He's been reading a lot of thrillers lately and I didn't want him to run out of reading material. ;-) I picked out Shaiton's Fire because it's by Jake Thoene, and I've enjoyed the books written by his parents. Maybe that's a silly reason to buy a book, but it really sounded like something my hubby would like.

........................................................

Got the second book in the Fremont Jones series, Fire and Fog. A fun series so far--I like the time period and the main character.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alice in Wonderland Movie



I saw this trailer today--it creeped me out, but I also think Tim Burton is probably one of the best people to bring the strangeness of Wonderland from the page to the screen. I'm not really liking how the Mad Hatter looks like a clown, but we'll see if it makes sense in the overall movie.

I don't know if I'll be able to go to the theater for this one (right now the release date is March 5, 2010), but I'll see it when it comes out on DVD for sure.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Review: Until I Have No Country by Michael Tougias

Click here to purchase at The Book Depository



I picked up Until I Have No Country: A Novel of King Philip's War, by author and lecturer Michael Tougias, because I've become more interested in reading historical fiction set in America, especially before the 1800s. I thought this might be an interesting book on colonial America and King Philip's War (a war between Native Americans and English colonists in New England in the 1670s).

The book was not really what I had hoped for. I think it would be worth listing the things I think it's missing. First, I wish it had focused more on King Philip/Metacom. I wanted to learn more about him and his motivations, family, strategies, and goals, but it mainly focused on a fictional follower of Philip. Secondly, I wish the author would have given more historical background. He briefly touches on the relations between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians at the time of settlement, but I would have loved to see a better explanation/exploration/description of the ways things had gone downhill from what were initially good relations between the groups, to where the book started off, with the Wampanoags beginning to fight back.

On the whole, the book is interesting, but not engrossing. It's not really a book that will stick with me--it wasn't that memorable. Parts of it were bittersweet (mainly having to do with the losses that occur in times of war), but I just never really felt connected to the main characters. If I were rating on a star system, I'd give it 3 of 5 stars.

Book details:
Michael Tougias. Until I Have No Country: A Novel of King Philip's War. On Cape Publications, January 2001. 250 pp. $9.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-1888768022.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Purchase this book at The Book Depository

Michael Morpurgo is an author who has written over 100 books for children and teens. Published in 2006, Private Peaceful was his 100th book. Recommended for grades 7 and up, Private Peaceful tells the story of Thomas Peaceful, an English teen during World War I who was too young to fight, but lied about his age to join the war effort. It is haunting the way this book draws the reader into Thomas's life both before and during World War I. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about his early years, his relationships with his family, his motivations. In the end we see just how devastating the war was on Thomas's friends and family.

There is definitely an unexpected twist in the story, and it leaves you feeling sad. I don't want to go into more detail than that because I don't want to spoil the story (the twist is not what you might expect from a war book). Private Peaceful is an interesting read, but not really a feel-good one. I'd recommend it for the valuable reminder it gives us of the devastating effects of war, and as a memorial to those who gave up their childhood and their lives in World War I.

Book details:
Michael Morpurgo. Private Peaceful. Scholastic, 1 May 2006. 224 pp. $6.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0439636537.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Books I've Read This Year - 2009 Edition

I have a personal blog where I've been keeping track of all of the books I've read this year. Now is as good a time as any to migrate all of that info to this blog.

The Green Bronze Mirror by Lynne Ellison (click for review)

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (review to be posted in 2010)

A Christmas Carol (Special Edition) by Charles Dickens (click for review)

One Holy Night by J.M. Hochstetler (click for review)

Wind of the Spirit by J.M Hochstetler (click for review)

A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry (click for review)

The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann (click for review)

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin (click for review)

Daughter of Liberty by J.M. Hochstetler (click for review)

Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison (two part review: Part One, Part Two)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (click for review)

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy (click for review)

The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry (click for review)

What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain (click for review)

The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke (click for review)

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen (click for review)

Fire and Fog by Dianne Day (click for review)

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (click for review)

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom (click for review)

The Strange Files of Fremont Jones by Dianne Day

Whining: 3 Steps to Stop It Before the Tears and Tantrums Start by Audrey Ricker

A Comedy of Heirs by Rett MacPherson

Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind

A Veiled Antiquity by Rett MacPherson

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind

The Vanishing Point by Mary Sharratt

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Taking Liberties by Diana Norman

Cassandra, Lost by Joanna Catherine Scott (click for review)

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

A Catch of Consequence by Diana Norman

The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seaton

Love Untamed: Romances of the Old West by JoAnn Chartier and Chris Enss

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory

American Cookery: A Novel by Laura Kalpakian (click for review)

Chop Shop by Tim Downs

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Murder by Karen Swee

Until I Have No Country: A Novel of the King Phillips War in New England by Michael Tougias (click for review)

Celia, A Slave by Melton McLaurin

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Death of a Turkey by Kate Borden

Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Total books read: 55
Total pages read: 21,606
(updated 12/28/09)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What I Read


I saw this meme over at J. Kaye's Book Blog, which was a shortened version of the meme at Psychotic State. I thought it looked fun, so here goes:

1. What author do you own the most books by?
Brock and Bodie Thoene. My mother-in-law gave me her collection, which included all of the books in their Zion Chronicles, Zion Covenant, Galway Chronicles, Shiloh Legacy, and a couple of the Saga of the Sierras titles.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
A US History textbook called A People and a Nation. I've got several copies, but all different editions or versions. I teach history at our local community college, and I've used that book several times for my US History class.

3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones's Diary. It's probably partly because he was played by Colin Firth in the movie.

4. What book have you read more than any other?
Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter series. I'm not much of a re-reader, but I've read those books at least 3 times.

5. What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?
The Chronicles of Narnia series. I distinctly remember doing book reports on several of them at school.

6. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I really wanted to like it. But the whole premise turned me off from the start. I just couldn't identify with the characters

7. What is the best book you've read in the past year?
How do you pick just one??? The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen was really good, and I loved The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton.

8. If you could tell everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Gosh, it's hard to say. I hate recommending books without knowing what genres people like to read. I guess I'd suggest A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean.

9. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West by Donald Worster. It was thick, it was complicated, it was a different perspective/analysis than I was used to.

10. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
Ummm . . . Chaucer.

11. Austen or Eliot?
Austen, of course.

12. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I've never read a book by Charles Dickens. I'm planning to rectify that oversight sometime before the end of the year.

13. What is your favorite novel?
Pride & Prejudice.

14. What is your favorite play?
West Side Story.

15. Poem?
Shelley's Ozymandias.

16. Essay?
"A Modest Proposal," by Jonathan Swift. I read this in high school and thought it was a brilliant political satire.

17. Short Story?
"A River Runs Through It" by Norman Maclean.

18. Nonfiction?
Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley.

19. Science Fiction?
I'm not much of a Science Fiction reader. Of the few I've read, I really liked Sphere by Michael Crichton.

20. Who is your favorite writer?
Jane Austen.

21. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Danielle Steele. But I'm not much of a fan of romance anyway.

22. What are you reading right now?
Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention by Catherine Drinker Bowen

23. Best memoir?
Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patillo Beals

24. Best history?
Impossible to choose just one. I can think of many that are my favorites for certain time periods and locations. I thought Vanishing Landscapes: Land and Life in the Tulare Basin by William L. Preston was a fascinating and eye-opening look at the region I live in. I also thought Heart of the Rock: The Indian Invasion of Alcatraz by Adam Fortunate Eagle was a good read too.

25. Best mystery or noir?
Another difficult to choose category because I love mysteries. This year so far, Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin was my favorite.

Wow, that was harder than I thought it would be. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

1st in a Series Challenge 2009 - Completed

1sts Challenge logo

Another late entry, but the books I've read this year fit in well with this challenge. :)

Guidelines for 1st in Series Challenge 2009
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. Read 12 books that are the first in any series. You may read & list your chosen books any time during the year.

3. Challenge begins January thru December, 2009.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.
 Here's my list: (updated 10/25/09)
  1. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler (done)
  2. A Plague on Both Your Houses - Susanna Gregory (done)
  3. Mine Till Midnight - Lisa Kleypas (done)
  4. His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik (done)
  5. A Catch of Consequence - Diana Norman (done)
  6. Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin (done)
  7. Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind (done)
  8. The Strange Files of Fremont Jones - Dianne Day (done)
  9. The Centurion's Wife - Davis Bunn and Janette Oke (done)
  10. The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry (done)
  11. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (done)
  12. Daughter of Liberty by J.M. Hochstetler (done)

I finished this challenge on November 27, 2009!

2nds Challenge 2009

2nds Challenge logo

Better late than never, eh? I've read a bunch of books this year already, and have been keeping track of the titles, and many fit into this challenge, so I'll just have to read a few more to finish out this challenge before the end of the year.
Here are the guidelines:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need to have a blog to participate.

2. Read 12 books by authors that you have only read once. It doesn't have to be a series.

3. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009. Don't start reading until January.

4. You may list your chosen books any time during the year. Change the list if needed.
 Here's my list:  (last updated 10/25/09)
  1. Death of a Trickster - Kate Borden (done)
  2. Chop Shop - Tim Downs (done)
  3. Throne of Jade - Naomi Novik (done)
  4. Taking Liberties - Diana Norman (done)
  5. Stone of Tears - Terry Goodkind (done)
  6. Seduce Me At Sunrise - Lisa Kleypas done)
  7. A Veiled Antiquity - Rett MacPherson (done)
  8. Fire and Fog - Dianne Day (done)
  9. Lady of Milkweed Manor - Julie Klassen (done)
  10. The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry (done) 
  11. Wind of the Spirit by J.M. Hochstetler (done)
Oh man! Just one book shy of the 12 book total for this challenge. But it was still fun reading all of these books!

Book Review: Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Click here to purchase at The Book Depository

Mitch Albom, best-selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and For One More Day, has another inspiring and emotional book being released on September 29, 2009. Having read and enjoyed all three of the above-mentioned books, I was thrilled to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of his newest book, Have a Little Faith, before its release.

Have a Little Faith was moving, intelligent, and profound. It is a true story, and similar to Albom's Tuesdays With Morrie, he recounts his visits with his childhood rabbi, who asked him to give his eulogy. In what started as a few visits just to get to know the man better for the purpose of writing the eulogy, Albom is drawn to the funny and giving man, developing a friendship that helps him to begin to examine his own faith and the idea of faith in general. The book also tells the story of a former drug dealer and thief turned preacher, who gave up a life of crime to dedicate his life to the homeless and hungry in Detroit. Two very different men are thus profiled in the book, but there is a connecting theme: their lives demonstrate their faith as manifested in loving and serving others.

I found myself giggling at the book at times, and at others crying. The book is emotional, and it underlines the ways that faith can provide a common dialog of love and service, even among people of different faiths. The reader does not need to be Jewish to appreciate and identify with the simple truths explored in this book, and to see the ways that faith can guide us through our toughest adversities.

The book is written in Mitch Albom's signature style, with short chapters of just a few pages, clear descriptions, and overall a compact and easy-to-read style. Books that can bring out my emotions like this one are uncommon, so if you find the premise of this book interesting, I definitely recommend it.

Book Details:
Mitch Albom. Have a Little Faith. Hyperion Books, 29 September 2009. 272 pp. $23.99 (hardcover), ISBN
978-0786868728.

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday

New blog, new week, new activity. Mailbox Monday is a weekly post to share what books came into my house last week. It is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

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Lady of Milkweed ManorI decided to get Lady of Milkweed Manor after reading another of Julie Klassen's books, The The Apothecary's Daughter. I'm hoping this book will be as good as the other was.

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The Strange Files of Fremont Jones
I ordered The Strange Files of Fremont Jones: A Fremont Jones Mystery (Fremont Jones Mysteries) because I was looking for a historical fiction book set in California. This one is set in 1906 San Francisco. It's not only historical fiction, but a cozy mystery as well! I love those kinds of genre combinations!

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Soul of the FirePicked up Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind because I'm slowly making my way through his Sword of Truth series. I like a good epic fantasy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

2009 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - Completed

(Hosted at Paperback Swap Historical Fiction Forum)

1. Read a book of Historical Fiction that is written about a "new to you" time period, person, or location.
Until I Have No Country: A Novel of King Philip's War in New England by Michael J. Tougias **COMPLETED 6/14/09**
2. Read a book of Historical Fiction set in your region. (California)
The Strange Files of Fremont Jones by Dianne Day **COMPLETED 9/20/09**
3. Read a book of Historical Fiction that has been on your shelf for at least a year. If you don't have a year-old book, read one of the books you have had the longest.
A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory **COMPLETED 6/25/09**
4. Read a book of Historical Fiction from a "new to you" author.
The Vanishing Point by Mary Sharratt **COMPLETED 8/15/09**
5. Read a book of Historical Fiction with the word "murder" in the title.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Murder: A Revolutionary War Mystery by Karen Swee **COMPLETED 6/16/09**
6. Solve a crime! Read one Historical Mystery.
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin **COMPLETED 7/27/09**
7. Be a patron of the arts! Read one book about a famous work of art, music, or the theatre.
The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland **COMPLETED 7/14/09**
8. Viva La Revolution! Read one Historical Fiction book about a revolution, set in the location of your choice.
Cassandra, Lost by Joanna Catherine Scott **COMPLETED 7/29/09**
9. Off with her head! Read one book of Historical Fiction that has a headless lady on the cover. We'll poke a bit of fun at the trend of including headless ladies on last year's H/F books. ;-)
The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton **COMPLETED 7/17/09**
10. Feed your brain! Read one non-fiction history book. The topic is up to you!
Celia, A Slave by Melton Mclaurin **COMPLETED 6/13/09**
BONUS GOAL: Find a book that is 1,000 or more pages and read, read, and read some more....
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon **COMPLETED 7/12/09**

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