Saturday, October 30, 2010

We have a winner!

The lucky winner of one copy of Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World is....

Arceli


Congratulations! Here's what she said about the book: It sounds really interesting - steampunk, psychological problems, and fantasy? Sign me up!

You're in for a treat Arceli! Enjoy! I've sent you an email so I'm hoping to hear from you by Monday evening.

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway and spread the word about it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Home of Book Beginnings on Friday!

You never get a second chance to make a first impression...

There's nothing quite like the anticipation that comes from cracking open a book for the first time. The first line beckons you, and if done well it can pull you headlong into the story. Done poorly, the first line can lead a reader to set a book aside and move on to something better, especially if they're browsing at the bookstore.

The best first lines are memorized and celebrated, and the worst ones are lampooned and parodied. So with the knowledge of just how important first lines are, is it any wonder that one of my favorite bookish memes focuses on the first line?

When Becky at Page Turners decided to reprioritize at her blog, she offered her Book Beginnings on Friday meme to anyone interested in adopting it. I jumped at the chance, and Becky chose A Few More Pages as the new home for Book Beginnings on Friday. I'm really excited to be hosting my first meme! I hope you'll join in!




How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Thanks to Becky at Page Turners for starting this meme and to Rose City Reader for inspiring it!

I recently finished The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (ISBN: 9780310721437). Here's the first line:
The townspeople of Hagenheim craned their necks as they peered down the cobblestone street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duke of Hagenheim's two handsome sons.
I rather liked this first line. It's almost lighthearted, and even though this book takes place in 1386, it reminds me how so little has changed. How many times have we seen people standing outside of awards shows or theaters, craning their necks trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity? I thought this was a good first line, and it set the stage for a really good book.

So, what is the first line of your current read, and how did you like it? Please leave the link to your specific post, not just to the front page of your blog.


  1. Helen's Book Blog
  2. Bev @ My Readers Block
  3. Carin (Caroline Bookbinder)
  4. Rose City Reader
  5. Suzanne @ bibliosue
  6. Reading Between the Wines Book Club
  1. Redd @ the UnbrokenWyld
  2. Kathy @ Inside of a Dog
  3. Bonnie's Books
  4. Ragan @ Loc2571
  5. Ruth @ My Devotional Thoughts
  6. This linky list is now closed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review and Giveaway: The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw

The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 368
Date Published: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Forge Books
Source: I received a review copy from Tolly at PR by the Book. Thank you Tolly!
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
AN ANCIENT MANUSCRIPT HAS REMAINED CONCEALED FOR CENTURIES -- WITHIN ITS PAGES LIES THE KEY TO THE MOST UNHOLY SECRET KNOWN TO MANKIND.
A sacred brotherhood has sworn, generation after generation, to protect this terrifying truth from those who would use it to unleash doomsday upon mankind.
When the unthinkable happens, and the holy scroll is uncovered, the race is on to reveal the true meaning of the cryptic language. Only one man, Dr. Thomas Lourds, the world's foremost scholar of ancient languages, who we first met in the bestselling novel The Atlantis Code, can safely decipher this most deadly scripture.
Lourds soon becomes the bait in the most lethal manhunt -- knowing he must confront the true face of evil if the world is to be saved...
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The Lucifer Code is the second of Charles Brokaw's books featuring linguist Thomas Lourds. I haven't read the first book, The Atlantis Code, but I didn't have a difficult time following this story without it. There are some references to his Atlantis adventure, but beyond making me curious about that book it didn't make me feel like I was missing anything.

You could call this book part of a trend that seeks to imitate Dan Brown's thrillers. Like Robert Langdon, Thomas Lourds is an academic. But where Langdon is a symbologist, Lourds is a linguist. They both are intelligent men who are at the top of their field, and whether it has to do with symbols or lost languages, if you are in need of deciphering something you would want one of these men on your side. But here's a major difference: I really like Langdon,  but I really dislike Lourds. Lourds is insufferably arrogant (he is smart and he boy does he know it) and he is obsessed with sex. There are two main women involved in the storyline (besides the woman sleeping with the bad guy), and Lourds sleeps with both of them at some point. Even when he's being threatened with bodily harm or death, he still can't stop thinking about getting into the hot girl's pants. Blech. There are a couple of graphic sex scenes in the book, which I could have done without.

The best thing about this book was the suspense factor. Brokaw did a really good job of keeping the storyline rolling, keeping me interested in what was going to happen next. In this way The Lucifer Code was better than Dan Brown's last book, The Lost Symbol (I complained last September that it wasn't suspenseful enough). The action picks up right away, and even when the reader isn't entirely sure why the bad guys want Lourds, the fact that someone is trying to kidnap or kill him keeps you at the edge of your seat.

I kind of figured that the ultimate villain in this book would be much scarier than he ended up being. As you can guess based on the title of the book, it ends up being Lucifer--aka Satan, the Devil. In this thriller he holds a powerful position in the government and uses it to his own advantage. But he doesn't seem that much more evil than your ordinary bad guy, and he was defeated much easier than I expected.

In the midst of Lourds learning that Lucifer exists and is trying to wreak havoc on the planet, as well as his discovery that Jesus's apostles were real and that John of Patmos had left behind important writings that could effectively stop the devil from doing his worst, he doesn't seem that affected by it. He says he believes there is a God, but that He isn't active in the world. I would have thought that perhaps with all that he was personally experiencing, he would have been led to some introspection and evaluation of his life and his belief system. But no, Lourds continues to womanize and doesn't once have second thoughts about the way he is living his life. Kind of a bummer, really, since the book makes a case for the power of God against Satan.

The suspense part of this book kept me turning the pages, even as I rolled my eyes at the main character, so for that the book gets 3 stars. I'm not sure that I will read another book about Professor Lourds, though. As curious as I am about his Atlantis adventure, I'm not sure I want to be exposed to more of his arrogance and active libido.

Related Linkage:
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So, I didn't love this book. So what? Maybe you're in the mood for this thriller! The publisher was kind enough to provide a copy for giveaway to my readers. If you're interested, please fill out the form below:

This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to the winner!

Details: Giveaway ends on November 8 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Entrants should be 16 years of age or older. Winner will be contacted via e-mail. Open internationally. I am not responsible for lost or damaged mail. You can earn extra entries by spreading the word about this giveaway--see the form for details.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What My Kids Have Been Reading - October 23

We got our first Scholastic book club order yesterday, and I couldn't help but buy some cute new books to freshen up our shelves. Here are two winners from our pile:

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw is awesome in so many ways! First, it features characters of color (yay!) in a story that isn't about Civil Rights or slavery. Second, it is so much fun! Lola's daddy takes her to the library every Saturday, and each night of the week they read a different story. When they read a book about princesses, she pretends to be a princess the next day. When she reads a book about monsters, she pretends to be a monster the next day. This was a really cute story, and it goes over the days of the week as well.

The Very Itchy Bear by Nick Bland is another really cute book. Flea wants to say Hello to Bear, but Bear doesn't really appreciate how Flea goes about it. They fall in the sea, but after Bear gets rid of Flea he finds that he kind of misses the little guy. The illustrations are really cute and entertaining, and in the end Bear and Flea become friends. This was a great pick.


Every week Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns hosts What My Child Is Reading. Kid Konnection is another weekly feature highlighting children's books, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Beginnings on Friday - House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

I guess I'm feeling the Halloween spirit, so I picked up House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo today (ISBN 9781595547279). Here is the first line:
The walls of the house absorbed the woman's screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater.
The first line of this one really kind of creeps me out. Questions that immediately came to mind: Why is the woman screaming? Is she going to be OK? Is what happens to her the event makes the house so creepy, or are there more creepy events to come?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review: Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander
Book 3 of the Timber Ridge Reflections series
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 374
Date Published: September 2010
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: I received a free copy through the Bethany House Book Reviewers program.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
Sometimes the greatest step of faith is taken neck-deep in fear.
Determined to fulfill her late husband's dream, Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat with the help of her two young sons. But some days it feels as though her every effort is sabotaged. When faced with a loss she cannot afford, she's forced to trust Rand Brookston, the one man in Timber Ridge she wishes to avoid. And with good reason. He's a physician, just like her father, which tells her everything she needs to know about him. Or so she thinks....
Dr. Rand Brookston ventured west with the dream of bringing modern medicine to the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, but the townspeople have been slow to trust him. Just as slow in coming is Rand's dream to build the town a proper clinic. When a patient's life is threatened, Rand makes a choice—one that sends ripples through the town of Timber Ridge. And through Rachel Boyd's stubborn heart.
From the beloved, bestselling author of From a Distance and Beyond This Moment comes an unforgettable story about faith in the face of fear, about tarnished hopes and second chances, and ultimately about the resilient courage and tenacity of hearts broken——and mended——by love.
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Although this is the third book in the Timber Ridge Reflections series, this is my first time reading a book by Tamera Alexander. I have the first book of this series on my TBR pile, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Thankfully, this is one of those series books that can stand alone--I didn't feel lost in this story even though I haven't read the first two books of the series.

Within My Heart focuses on widow Rachel Boyd and Dr. Rand Brookston. Rachel is raising her two sons on her own and trying not to lose the ranch that her late-husband had worked so hard for. Rand is battling the ghosts of his Civil War experiences while caring for the people of Timber Ridge and saving up money to open a new medical clinic in town. The two are brought together by the health problems of Ben, one of Rachel's closest friends. Rachel's knowledge of medicine (learned from her doctor father) comes in handy for Rand's work, and Rand's knowledge of animal medicine helps Rachel with her ranch. But she's wary of getting too close to Rand--her father's less-than-stellar example of medical men clouds her judgement of him and she still struggles with sorrow over losing her husband. It's only when they both face their fears that they finally give into their hearts.

This was a pretty good romance, but set in some heartbreaking circumstances. Ben's health problems bring the two together, but it is sad to watch him and his wife suffer through his ailments. Rand and Rachel make a pretty sweet couple, and the secondary characters in the story are great as well. Rand's Civil War experience was frankly horrifying and I thought that it gave the story an interesting twist. But even though they fought their attraction and fought with each other, I never really doubted that they would end up together in the end. I was glad they did, but there wasn't that much suspense for me in it. I would love to see how their lives progress after their marriage--did Rachel take on more medical responsibilities? Did her boys accept Rand? Was the health clinic successful?

This was a lovely story set in sad circumstances, but with a good outcome. This wasn't my favorite read of the year, but I am interested in reading more books in the series.

Related Linkage:
Reading Challenges: Christian Historical Fiction Challenge

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy with Steampunk & Western elements
Pages: 480
Date Published: October 2010
Publisher: TOR Books
Source: I received a review copy from Tolly at PR by the Book. Thank you Tolly!
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
The world is only half made. What exists has been carved out amidst a war between two rival factions: the Line, paving the world with industry and claiming its residents as slaves; and the Gun, a cult of terror and violence that cripples the population with fear. The only hope at stopping them has seemingly disappeared—the Red Republic that once battled the Gun and the Line, and almost won. Now they’re just a myth, a bedtime story parents tell their children, of hope.
To the west lies a vast, uncharted world, inhabited only by the legends of the immortal and powerful Hill People, who live at one with the earth and its elements. Liv Alverhyusen, a doctor of the new science of psychology, travels to the edge of the made world to a spiritually protected mental institution in order to study the minds of those broken by the Gun and the Line. In its rooms lies an old general of the Red Republic, a man whose shattered mind just may hold the secret to stopping the Gun and the Line. And either side will do anything to understand how.
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I'm not entirely sure how to describe this book because it is unlike anything else I've read this year. The half-made world that Gilman has created in The Half-Made World is imaginative and unique, with fantastical elements that feel familiar yet are fabulously inventive. The West lies on the edge of the made world and two factions battle each other for power there. The Line's demonic engines transform everything in their path into industrialized and mechanized cogs in their empire, intimidating people to become parts in their grand machine or destroying them if they resist. The Gun's master spirits reside in the firearms of their Agents, fighting for their own empire using fear and violence for their own selfish goals. To venture west, past the edge of the politically unstable made world, is to encounter a materially unstable land with plants, animals, and beings that are beyond imagination. This is the setting, and at times it left me breathless with wonder and a little disoriented because it is so imaginative.

The story follows Liv Alverhyusen, a psychologist from the East on her way to work at a frontier hospital with victims of the war who have suffered mental injury. At the same time, a reluctant Agent of the Gun and a detachment of soldiers from the Line are on their way to the same frontier hospital, looking for a General of the long-defeated Red Republic. He had been assumed dead, but new intelligence suggests that he may be alive (but with mental injury) and have knowledge locked inside his head of a weapon that could take out the Line and the Gun and end the war.

The characters are wonderfully realistic. Liv seeks to help people with psychological problems, but is deeply troubled by psychological problems of her own. Creedmoor, the Agent of the Gun, is likable and unlikable at the same time--he has the potential to be a hero, but he is also the enemy. He has clearly grown weary of answering to his Gun's demon, but he fears what his life will be like without it. The soldiers of the Line are less complicated because of their devotion to the Line (which seems really unpleasant), but it is interesting to watch their morale and courage waver as they encounter the odd and volatile western frontier.

I never knew where the story was taking me. It was utterly fascinating (and really, really cool) to follow their trek into the unknown--unknown both to the characters and to the reader as well. I turned the last page and wished there was more. The story ends with the characters facing another odyssey--it will keep me on pins and needles until the next book comes out. Thank goodness there is a second book in the works. This book was astonishingly good and I highly recommend it.

As an aside, I really liked this book once I got past the prologue. The prologue was the only part of the book that I struggled through. If you end up struggling with it too, just keep going because the rest of the book is totally worth it.

(Reader's Advisory: If you're averse to books with swearing in them, be aware that it happens in this book.)

Related Linkage:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Speculative Fiction Challenge Completed!



I finished this challenge a couple of months ago, and I think I probably could have done the next step up in the challenge and still completed it before the end of the year. Anyway, here's what I read for the challenge at the Enthusiastic level (6 Speculative Fiction novels):

  1. The Last Christian by David Gregory (5/2010)
  2. Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt (5/2010) 
  3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (6/2010) 
  4. A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (6/2010) 
  5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (6/2010) 
  6. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (8/2010) 
I'm finding that Speculative Fiction is a genre that I really like. I think my favorite book of these six was Darkship Thieves, though The Handmaid's Tale comes in a close second. I liked all of these books. I think I'll join this challenge next year at the next level up (12 books).

Thank you to Book Chick City for hosting this great reading challenge!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 318
Date Published: September 2010
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: I received a free copy through the Bethany House Book Reviewers program.
Rating: 5 of 5 stars!

Book Description (from the publisher):
Life changes drastically for Ruth Livingstone the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her under an assumed name to a small village in New Jersey. There she dutifully awaits his acquittal, certain that her father, Reverend Livingstone, soon will be cleared of the outrageous accusations against him.
When tragic events transpire, Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River—a place where she can find a measure of peace amid her growing heartache. It is also here that she meets Jake Spencer, a man who both frustrates and intrigues her. Fearful of the newspapermen intent on tracking her down and unsure of whom to trust, Ruth knows she must carefully maintain her identity as Widow Malloy. But as love begins to slowly bloom, can the tenuous affection growing between Ruth and Jake withstand the secrets that separate them?
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I read and reviewed my first Delia Parr novel in June (Hearts Awakening) and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that I was excited to start reading her newest book, Love's First Bloom. I was not disappointed by this one. It had so much going on--a critique of tabloid journalism, a lot of mystery and suspense, and a sweet love story, all rolled into one. I liked this book even more than her last release!

At the young age of 22, Ruth Livingstone is sent into hiding while her reverend father stands trial for the murder of a young prostitute. In her care is a young toddler, the secret daughter of the woman Reverend Livingstone is accused of murdering. Ruth has the weight of many secrets and responsibilities on her shoulders, but her main concern is keeping herself and little Lily out of the media spotlight and safe from the reaches of those who may wish them ill.

There is a definite undercurrent of mystery and suspense here, as Ruth tries to understand her father's motives and keep her identity a secret. But the secrets begin to weigh her down as she feels guilty lying to the wonderful people who have taken her and Lily in. Then Jake Spencer enters the picture, a newspaperman determined to earn his brother's forgiveness and respect by tracking Ruth down and writing the definitive story on her reasons for going into hiding. He assumes a false identity as well in his quest to track down the facts of the story, but as he gets to know Ruth his conscience kicks in as well. And when other reporters start to sniff around their town, he worries that they will beat him to the story and won't portray Ruth in the way that she deserves.

I really enjoyed the suspense that the story brought--the questions about Reverend Livingstone's innocence, the curiosity about the small trunk that he sent ahead of Ruth without her knowledge, and the fear of whether she would be tracked down and exposed for who she truly was. The romance that developed between Ruth and Jake wasn't perfect, especially considering that they both were keeping secrets from each other, but their reasons for keeping those secrets helped forgiveness to come more easily. Even though I wished that Jake would have come to his realization about God's direction for him (vs. his brother's expectations), his newspaper article at the end of the book was triumphant and redeeming.

I loved how baby Lily became such an important part of Ruth's life, even before the revelations about Lily's mother came to light. For a young woman who felt so alone in her secrets, to have this child in her life and to discover that the child had so fully stolen her heart so quickly was quite touching. I also liked her relationship with the Garners, the couple who took them in. They were wonderful people who provided them with a stable family life and safe place to live, as well as providing a loving example to Ruth and Lily.

The way that the tabloid press worked in this novel was astonishing but true-to-life. Theories were thrown around like they were fact, and people's names were dragged through the mud. Poor Ruth had a terrible experience with it--she had to read the newspapers to keep updated on her father's trial and had to endure their smears on his character and hers as well. I was glad when she decided to stop reading the newspapers because it only caused her heartache.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were believable and real (including how much of a handful young toddlers can be!), the mysterious elements were well-done, and the ending held so much promise. The way things fell into place in the end was just perfect. If Ms. Parr ever felt the desire to return to these characters and their "network," I would gladly follow along.

Related linkage:
 Reading Challenges: Christian Historical Fiction Challenge

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A New Award!

Grace at The Christian Scroll and Lee at Butterfly Blessings recently gave me this cute award:


This was so heartwarming to find in my mailbox and my Google Reader! Thank you Grace and Lee! I would like to bestow this award on the following people:

I have also created a new master page with my awards and the people who have given them to me. If I've received an award before, I won't post about it more than once but I'll add your name to my awards page. Thank you for thinking of me! :) Click here to see the awards page.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Strange New Land by Peter H. Wood

Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America by Peter H. Wood
Genre: Non-Fiction History
Pages: 136
Date Published: November 2002
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Source: Ordered from Paperback Swap
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
Engaging and accessibly written, Strange New Land explores the history of slavery and the struggle for freedom before the United States became a nation. Beginning with the colonization of North America, Peter Wood documents the transformation of slavery from a brutal form of indentured servitude to a full-blown system of racial domination. Strange New Land focuses on how Africans survived this brutal process--and ultimately shaped the contours of American racial slavery through numerous means, including:
  • Mastering English and making it their own
  • Converting to Christianity and transforming the religion
  • Holding fast to Islam or combining their spiritual beliefs with the faith of their masters
  • Recalling skills and beliefs, dances and stories from the Old World, which provided a key element in their triumphant story of survival
  • Listening to talk of liberty and freedom, of the rights of man and embracing it as a fundamental right--even petitioning colonial administrators and insisting on that right.
Against the troubling backdrop of American slavery, Strange New Land surveys black social and cultural life, superbly illustrating how such a diverse group of people from the shores of West and Central Africa became a community in North America.
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Peter Wood's Strange New Land is an excellent and intriguing introduction to the status of Africans in colonial America and the development of slavery before the Revolutionary war. It starts with the earliest Africans to set foot in North America--those who traveled with Spanish explorers as soldiers, sailors, and servants. Such early coverage goes deeper than most US History survey textbooks, and since the information on these Africans was new to me, I thought it was fascinating.

The book then ventures into more familiar territory with a look at the Africans who were imported to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (present-day New York) and the English colonies in North America in the first half of the seventeenth century. Africans brought here so early on had a better chance of gaining their freedom because they were often treated like indentured servants--they signed a contract to work for their employer for a given number of years and were freedmen after that.

The second half of the seventeenth century brought a change, what Wood calls "a terrible transformation." A variety of conditions caused the transformation, including a decrease in the number of English servants coming to America, an increase in the demand for labor, an improvement in living conditions in the southern colonies, an increase in the availability of African slave imports, and the settlement of whites from Caribbean plantations (who had long entrenched race slavery) to the mainland who brought their system of slavery with them. All of these conditions contributed to the gradual rise of race-based hereditary slavery in colonial America.

The book also discusses how different waves of slaves at different times and going to different places faced different conditions. And even though Africans were brought to America with many different backgrounds, from many different cultures, and speaking different languages, they were able to adapt and develop their own unique culture that incorporated African and European traditions. Additionally, although the institution of slavery made it very difficult to develop stable families, slaves developed durable families and extensive networks of kinship anyway. The last two chapters explore the ways that slaves challenged their bondage (through violent and non-violent means) and how Africans responded to the Revolutionary ideas of liberty and freedom during the years leading up to the Revolutionary war.

As you can tell, this book is pretty wide-ranging in scope and covers a lot of time and ground, but it does it briefly. At only 94 pages of text, it provides an introduction at best to the topic and left me wishing there were more specific examples to go with the narrative. The book provides no footnotes either, but has a decent bibliography at the end to lead readers toward deeper works on the topics. For a scholarly monograph (Dr. Wood teaches at Duke University), this one is quite engaging and a nice way to ease the curious into what can be a pretty complex topic. I believe the book was intended for US History Survey courses, but it is written in a way that the general reader would have no problems with it at all. I give it 3.5 stars because I wish it hadn't been so brief, but I would have no qualms recommending it to anyone wishing to learn more about Africans in colonial America and how the institution of slavery developed.

**I noticed that this review gets a lot of search engine hits and I can only assume that students are looking for more information on a book they have to read or write about for a class. If this is you, don't copy and paste my information into your paper. It is plagiarism and it is super easy to find this review just by plugging in a sentence of it into Google, so don't think you won't get caught. Sure, use my review to help you brainstorm things to write about, but if you use my ideas please cite them properly and include this review in your bibliography. And if you think I've said something so absolutely beautifully that you must quote me, use quotation marks and give me credit. Thank you!

Related linkage:
 Reading Challenges: POC Reading Challenge

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trailer Tuesday: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

I really like this trailer! And I keep seeing rave reviews for the book all over the blogosphere.



Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Fiction
Book Description (from the publisher):
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" - a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.
Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he?ll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever - and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn

Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
(Book 4 in the Lady Julia Grey series)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 393
Date Published: October 2010
Publisher: MIRA books
Source: I received an ARC for review from Erin at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. Thank you Erin!
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia's eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband's family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband's death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?
Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.
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If you haven't read this series and have a desire to, I must warn you that this review will have some unavoidable spoilers. But I'll try not to give too much away. ;)

Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane have been traveling extensively for the past eight months on their honeymoon when Julia's family shows up and entices them to join an investigation. Julia's sister, Portia, is on her way to her former partner's side, accompanied by their brother Plum. Jane (who left Portia to marry and have children of her own) is newly widowed and pregnant in a foreign land. Questions over how her husband died (was it natural causes, or murder?) draw Julia and Brisbane into the expedition. Of course, what seems a simple investigation become complicated with the discovery of secrets and scandal throughout the valley where Jane is living.

Yet again, Julia and Brisbane butt heads over her involvement in the investigation and he tries to keep her in the dark. There is much tension over how she wants to be his partner in mystery, but he wants to protect her from the dangers. Portia gives Julia some good advice about her needing to back off a little and look at things from Brisbane's point of view--he's a professional and she is basically an amateur trying to force her way in. The point of view is understandable, but I still think Julia could be more useful if Brisbane would be less secretive. She's proven to be pretty good at uncovering secrets and drawing out unexpected confessions.

I was looking forward to how Julia's cousins (Lucy and Emma) would figure into the mystery (since we had learned at the end of Silent in the Sanctuary that they had settled in India), but that part of the story was quite different from what I expected. Questions are left unanswered about Emma, but we have definitely not seen the last of Lucy and the "White Rajah." Talk about an unexpected twist there! I absolutely didn't see the White Rajah's identity coming, or his nefarious dealings.

This was a great installment in the Lady Julia Grey series. The setting was wonderfully interesting, and the people involved were also unique and fascinating. I was very saddened by what happened to Jane, shocked at the twists with Robin and the Reverend, and I thought that overall the final ending was bittersweet as they set off to return to England with a new family member in tow.

I am very curious to see where Ms. Raybourn will take Julia and Brisbane next. Will they encounter the White Rajah and Lucy again? How will Julia's family react when they all return home from India? Will Julia and Brisbane ever settle into a comfortable partnership or will they forever bicker about it? Hopefully these questions and more will be explored in future books in the series. I'll be waiting enthusiastically to devour them!

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Review: Confessions of a Prayer Slacker by Diane Moody

Confessions of a Prayer Slacker by Diane Moody
Genre: Christian Non-Fiction
Pages: 170
Date Published: 2010
Publisher: Journey Press (the nonfiction division of Sheaf House)
Source: Joan at Sheaf House provided me with a review copy. A million thanks Joan!
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the back of the cover):
So, what's your excuse?
--Prayer is a waste of time. I know. I prayed for a pony when I was a kid and never got one.
--God's got His hands full. He doesn't have time for my piddlysquat prayers.
--I don't know what to say. I don't know how. It's just too awkward.
--I've got bad knees. I can't kneel. It doesn't count if you don't kneel.
Talk about your lame excuses...
Let's face it. Most of us are clueless when it comes to prayer. Why is that? And how come we've never done anything about it? In Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, author Diane Moody traces her own personal prayer journey with a touch of humor and a healthy dose of transparency. "Isn't it about time we stop this merry-go-round of prayerlessness, wuit acting like a bunch of spiritual babies, and get serious about this thing called prayer? Without it, we'll never experience the warm, one-on-one relationship God desires to have with each one of us."
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I admit that I've been in a prayer funk recently, and that lately my prayer life has been kind of sparse, limited to grace before dinner and prayers of praise to God on Sundays. I tend to get squeamish about asking Him for things or praying when things are rough because I don't want to sound like a whiner, but I do throw up brief requests for strength on a regular basis. What kind of prayer life is that?!

I haven't always been this way--I remember how enriching and encouraging it felt to spend time talking to God and reading His word on a daily basis. But life seems to have stepped in and distracted me from that all-important relationship. So, I admit it, I sound like a prayer slacker and that is one of the reasons why this book called out to me so insistently. I was really hoping that this book would give me a kick in the posterior and get me motivated to dedicate more one-on-one time to God every day. It did that and more--it gave me a lot of food for thought as well.

Now that I've finished the book, my copy is filled with little sticky tabs, marking interesting or important passages that I want to return to. Diane has provided a wonderfully motivational book that acknowledges her own weaknesses while at the same time helping other prayer slackers get closer to the point of becoming prayer warriors. Diane dispels a wide range of excuses, beautifully illustrates God's desire to spend time with you, and gives the reader a step-by-step process to be well-prepared and equipped to meet with Him every day.

I loved her visual explanation of Jesus waiting for her in the family room, each morning, with a hot, steaming cup of coffee, just waiting to have time together with her (pg. 63). That visual was really effective--I think I needed that visual to help get me motivated. Who could stand up Jesus for morning coffee?? It gave me a lot to think about. Prayer is more than just giving God a list of things to do or sending him a thank-you card. It is part of a relationship, during which you spend quality time in His presence and in His word.

I also really appreciated her "Gotta Haves" - a list of things that you should set aside for your morning prayer time. Her suggestion of keeping a prayer journal was helpful, but even more helpful was that she explained what it was. Her discussion of what worked for her in a prayer journal and why was excellent and I could finally see why a prayer journal would be a useful thing.

Throughout this book, Diane's sense of humor sparkles and draws you in to the conversation, as if you are having tea and chatting. I admit that I sometimes have a hard time getting through non-fiction because my attention wanders, but I had no problem sticking with this book. Here's an example from the introduction:
So once and for all, let's take a hard look at this matter of prayer. Don't worry. I won't be bombarding you with buckets of Latin or Greek terms (just a couple), nor will I be doing an exegesis of scripture. (Is it just me, or does "exegesis" sound like Exit, Jesus? And I'm sorry, but that's just wrong.) Instead, let's see if we can't drop-kick all the excuses and find out about the significant, intimate treasure that awaits each one of us if only we'll make time to spend with God (pgs. 6-7).
So if you feel like your prayer life is a bit stale, or you need a jump-start for some really quality prayer time with God, I highly recommend that you pick up this book! It would be an excellent choice for Bible studies too--with 16 chapters and study questions at the end of the book, participants would definitely have a lot to talk about.

Related Linkage:
CymLowell

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
(Book 3 of the Lady Julia Grey series)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 463
Date Published: March 2009
Publisher: MIRA Books
Source: I purchased this book NEW, with my own money, at my local bookstore!
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
Despite his admonitions to stay away, Lady Julia arrives in Yorkshire to find Brisbane as remote and maddeningly attractive as ever. Cloistered together, they share the moldering house with the proud but impoverished remnants of an ancient family—the sort that keeps their bloodline pure and their secrets close. Lady Allenby and her daughters, dependent upon Brisbane and devastated by their fall in society, seem adrift on the moor winds, powerless to change their fortunes. But poison does not discriminate between classes…
A mystery unfolds from the rotten heart of Grimsgrave, one Lady Julia may have to solve alone, as Brisbane appears inextricably tangled in its heinous twists and turns. But blood will out, and before spring touches the craggy northern landscape, Lady Julia will have uncovered a Gypsy witch, a dark rider and a long-buried legacy of malevolence and evil.
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The third book in Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series transports us to the wild and isolated moors of Yorkshire. Brisbane has purchased Grimsgrave Hall, a place from his past that is in great disrepair and haunted by secrets. Determined to settle the status of their relationship once and for all, Lady Julia and her sister Portia visit, uninvited, to "help" him set up his household. They encounter surprises at every turn, including the Allenby women whose family used to own Grimsgrave Hall--ruined by the reckless spending of the eldest son (Sir Redwall) before he died. An attempted poisoning and the discovery of two mummified babies hidden in Sir Redwall's Egyptian collection give Julia much to puzzle over.

Brisbane isn't as involved in the investigations this time around. He seems to be preoccupied with other matters and he spends a lot of time pushing Julia away. She doesn't believe his words and chooses instead to believe his body language. Eventually they find that their investigations intersect, but I was annoyed by how much Brisbane kept Julia in the dark. He seems to enjoy having her keep busy working on things he already knows because he doesn't really want her too involved. I understand that they have strong feelings for each other and I found the outcome of their relationship at the end of the book to be satisfying, but Brisbane's penchant for secrecy would frustrate me like crazy.

The Allenby family was mysterious and pretty interesting compared to Julia's family. The Allenbys were so preoccupied with their royal history and noble legacy, even though they had lost everything. Their attitudes were so snooty when compared to the March family, though Hilda, the prickly and independent daughter was not as stuffy. There ended up being some serious skeletons in that family's closet.

I also have to comment that this is one of the only historical fiction books I've read that features GLBT characters in important roles. Julia's sister, Portia, was in a relationship with her former husband's cousin, Jane. In this book, Jane has left Portia because of her desire for a child of her own, and Portia is devastated. The portrayal is sympathetic and Julia's family had accepted Jane as part of the family. It was nice to see a portrayal that treated GLBT characters as regular people and not as scandalous persons to be shunned or ignored. Society may not have been as accepting, but at least Julia's family wasn't that way.

Finally, a note about the cover: I don't really care for it. It makes Silent on the Moor look like a bodice-ripper when it isn't really like that. There is passion and desire, but *SPOILER AHEAD* bedroom activities are post-wedding and are not described in detail. This isn't your typical romance novel--it is more of a historical mystery with romantic aspects to it.

So, I really enjoyed this book. I liked learning more about Brisbane's background and I liked seeing how Lady Julia worked on her own. I am looking forward to reading more about Lady Julia and Brisbane. Stay tuned for my review of the newest book in the series, The Dark Road to Darjeeling.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: The Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson

The Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson
(Book One of Fin's Revolution)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 293
Date Published: December 2009
Publisher: Rabbit Room Press
Source: Ladybug at Escape in a Book is sending her copy on a global tour! Thanks for including me!
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the author's website):
Revolution. Secrets. An Unforgettable Adventure.
America is on the brink of war with England, and Fin Button is about to come undone. She’s had it with the dull life of the orphanage, and she’s ready to marry Peter and get away from rules, chores, and a life looked after by the ever-watchful Sister Hilde. But an unexpected friendship forms between Fin and the fiddle-playing cook, Bartimaeus, which sets her on a course for revolution.
With Bart’s beloved fiddle and haunting blunderbuss as her only possessions, Fin discovers her first taste of freedom as a sailor aboard the Rattlesnake. She’s hiding some dark secrets, but there are bigger problems for the crew—they are on the run from the Royal Navy, and whispers of mutiny are turning the captain into a tyrant.
When Fin finally returns home, will she find Peter still waiting, or will she find that she’s lost everything she once held dear?
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The first word that came to mind when I finished this book was WOW. I cannot believe this is A.S. Peterson's first book. Other words that aptly describe this book: adventurous, violent, emotional, action-packed, moving, and thrilling. This book is set in the years leading up to and during the beginning of the American Revolution, so it is categorized as historical fiction. It's not based on a true story, but it's definitely some fabulous adventure fiction based in a historical setting, with inspiration pulled from a number of historical people, places, and events, including the Georgia War Woman (Nancy Hart) and the first orphanage in colonial America located in Ebenezer, Georgia (where the book begins).

If you've been following my blog, you're aware that I love books with strong heroines. Fin is another strong woman, but in a bit of an unusual way. Although her father abandoned her in an orphanage, she seemed to have absorbed his desire for a son and would rather wear boy's clothes and do men's work rather than wear dresses and darn socks. Her flight from the orphanage and adoption of a disguise as a young man on a ship was pretty easy.

The Fiddler's Gun strikes me as a unique coming-of-age story. Fin may wish she were a boy, but once she gets out into the world and grabs ahold of her own destiny she begins to find that being herself is even better. She finds a happy medium in which she doesn't hide her gender, but continues working on the ship as a member of the crew. I think her connection with Bartimaeus was really important too, since he became a father figure to her that she had never had before. Bart was one of my favorite characters, and **spoiler alert** his death (and Fin's reaction to it) surprisingly brought me to tears. Tears from me are the sign of a really good book.

There were a couple of aspects of the story that I found a little hard to swallow, and the first has to do with how long her disguise as a young man on the ship lasted. I had a really hard time accepting that she could keep up her facade in such close quarters. Living on a ship with a bunch of men, sleeping in the same quarters, etc.--I just felt like they would have found her out a lot sooner than they did. She also escaped rape on a couple of occasions and wasn't threatened with rape as often as I would have expected. She was running with some pretty rough and raw characters who she made enemies with that I would have thought would have attacked her at some point, but didn't.

Fin would definitely meet my definition of "tomboy" and even though I couldn't quite understand Pete's attraction and devotion to her, their relationship was sweet. I read a review on Goodreads at one point that complained that Fin was selfish and unlikeable. But after everything she had been through, who could blame her for wanting to take her destiny into her own hands? She did act selfishly on several occasions, but she also seemed to act to protect others as well, and often at her own expense. She took actions to protect the orphanage and Peter on more than one occasion, and she left the orphanage to keep them safe and with the hope that she could one day return.

The book ends at a bit of a cliffhanger, and I am waiting oh-so-anxiously for the next book, The Fiddler's Green, which will be published in December of 2010. Guess what's going to be on my Christmas list? :) I highly recommend this book--it was just as good as I hoped it would be.

Related linkage:

CymLowell


Reading Challenges: Twenty Ten Reading Challenge ("Bad Bloggers")

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Genre: Romance, Time Travel Fiction
Pages: 293
Date Published: June 2009
Publisher: Plume
Source: Crazy Book Tours
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
In Laurie Viera Rigler's first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, twenty ­first-century Austen fan Courtney Stone found herself in Regency England occupying the body of one Jane Mansfield- with comic and romantic consequences. Now, in Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, Jane Mansfield awakens in the urban madness of twenty-first-century L.A.-in Courtney's body. With no knowledge of Courtney's life, let alone her world-with its horseless carriages and shiny glass box in which tiny figures act out her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice-Jane is over her head. Especially when she falls for a handsome young gentleman. Can a girl from Regency England make sense of a world in which kissing and flirting and even the sexual act raise no matrimonial expectations?
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Imagine that you were living as a gentleman's daughter in 1813 England, with servants and carriages, bonnets and petticoats. Then imagine waking up one morning in 2009 Los Angeles--a world almost unrecognizable to you. How lost would you feel in a world that is so connected technologically when the world you knew didn't even have electricity? And how confused would you feel to find out that the body and life you are in is as unrecognizable as your apartment?

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is the companion book to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Confessions followed the experiences of Courtney, a modern woman who woke up in 1813 England in Jane Mansfield's body. Rude Awakenings follows Jane, who woke up in Courtney's 2009 body. Where Confessions brought us the misadventures of a modern girl in Regency England, Rude Awakenings gives us a chance to see what a Regency girl would do in our modern world.

This was an enjoyable read--I have been extremely curious to read this book ever since I finished Confessions. I thought Jane's reactions to the modern world were pretty believable and entertaining. I loved her opening reactions to the alarm clock. The book felt a bit scattered and confused at times, but that isn't too surprising since the main character felt that way quite often. I wasn't a huge fan of her female friends (they could be really negative about Courtney/Jane's decisions) and I couldn't figure out why she stuck with them when in the midst of scrapping other unhelpful aspects of Courtney's life (like her job). But ultimately I liked the ways that Jane fixed Courtney's life and made it her own.

This was a really nice companion sequel to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. It brought the tale to a satisfactory end, and I was glad to know what ultimately happened to the two heroines. This was a quick and fun read that was an enjoyable diversion from my own worries and cares. If you have read Confessions and haven't read Rude Awakenings yet, you really should give it a try. The story is incomplete without it. And if you haven't given these books a go yet, you should read them both to get the whole story.

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Reading Challenges: Everything Austen II

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
(Book 2 in the Lady Julia Grey series)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 484
Date Published: January 2008
Publisher: MIRA Books
Source: Kathleen at CelticLady's Reviews gave me her extra copy. Thanks Kathleen!
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father's estate crowded with family and friends. Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget—the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane—is among her father's houseguests… and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count. 
But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel. Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Lady Julia Grey returns to England after spending six months in Italy recuperating from the physical and emotional injuries she sustained at the conclusion of the previous book in the series (Silent in the Grave). Despite the sparks between Lady Julia and Brisbane in their previous adventure, his lack of contact has angered her, and, even worse, her arrival home for Christmas finds Brisbane there... with a woman he is engaged to. During a snowstorm, one of the guests at Lady Julia's family's estate is murdered, and the storm strands everyone there for days with a murderer in their midst. The mystery forces Brisbane and Lady Julia back together to try to discover the guilty party before he (or she) murders again.

I thought this was a fine episode in the series. It felt a bit more developed than the first book and the mystery had more twists as well. There were so many interesting characters in this one, providing a large number of possible suspects with various possible motives. Having the action occur at the March family's estate was an interesting way to give the readers a chance to get to know Julia's family better (especially her father). In all, I think this book laid some good groundwork for future books featuring some of these characters again.

Brisbane continued to be secretive and confusing, but he was also surprisingly willing to allow Julia to help with the investigation (though it was at the insistence of her father). I suspected that his engagement had something to do with an investigation, and I had to laugh at the initial personality of his betrothed--she was so sickeningly sweet and good that I laughed out loud when her true personality was revealed.

I do wish that Brisbane would have been more forthcoming with Julia about his current investigation, if only so that their sleuthing could have gone easier and with more cooperation. The way the murderer was unveiled was surprising, and the additional twists at the end made me convinced that we haven't seen the last of Julia's cousins Lucy and Emma.

There is a bit of gothic flavor in this one with the "ghost" sightings and Julia's aunt's penchant for seances. The setting of the old Abbey and the storm also contributed to the gothic atmosphere. Again the quotes at the beginning of each chapter were perfectly chosen and I now look forward to each one while I'm reading.

I thought this was an enjoyable sequel to Silent in the Grave. The relationship between Lady Julia and Brisbane continues to have great promise, and I enjoyed getting to know more of Julia's family. Stay tuned for reviews of the next two books in the series.

Related linkage:
CymLowell

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes

Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Pages: 334
Date Published: August 2010
Publisher: Scribner
Source: Crazy Book Tours
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
On Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, three generations of the Olson family gather. Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real-estate bubble. While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen-year-old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housing projects on a mysterious job. A series of tragic events bring these two worlds ever closer, exposing the dangerously thin line between suburban privilege and urban poverty, and culminating in a crime that will change everyone's life. 
In her gripping new book, Jennifer Vanderbes masterfully lays bare the fraught lives of this complex cast of characters and the lengths to which they will go to protect their families. Strangers at the Feast is at once a heartbreaking portrait of a family struggling to find happiness and an exploration of the hidden costs of the American dream.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Strangers at the Feast is told from multiple points of view, which underlines the fact that the characters are, no matter their relationship with each other, strangers to each other. They also seem to be strangers to themselves in many ways, puzzling over changes that had occurred to themselves and within themselves. Although the timeline of the story focuses mainly on Thanksgiving holiday, there are a lot of flashbacks and background provided throughout. It could be a bit disorienting at times, but an interesting character study nonetheless.

The currents in the storyline are startlingly true to current events. The story touches on the ways that war, the housing and economic crisis, and issues regarding eminent domain have affected us--rich and poor alike. It also explores women's roles in families, from the traditional housewife to the professional woman and the women who try to balance both. And it explores men's roles as well, as father, son, brother, husband, and breadwinner, and what happens when they fail in their roles. The family in this story has a lot of emotions simmering just below the surface, but the main emotion they seem to share is fear.

As interesting as the connections were between real-life and this fictional story, and as much as I liked the beginning, I wasn't completely satisfied with this book. There was so much development of the characters and their backgrounds, but little resolution at the end. The story reaches its climax and ending too quickly and leaves the reader wondering what happened. I got a feel for how Ginny and Douglas ended up, but what about Eleanor, Gavin, Priya, Denise and the kids? And what about Kijo and Spider's families? Why introduce us to the real strangers at the feast, providing background on them and everything, but not follow through on how the events in the book affected their families?

I think I would have liked this book more if I felt like I gained some new perspective on life, or a better understanding of people different from me--if I felt like I learned something. But all I really felt while I was reading the book and after I finished was depressed. Not every book has to have an illuminating message, but this one was such a downer that I just didn't enjoy it that much. And for me not to love a book with a character who teaches American Studies in it (Ginny) is depressing in and of itself.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kid Konnection: Moosetache by Margie Palatini


I haven't featured a children's book here in a while but I've really been meaning to because this one book has become a staple in my son's library. I found it at a yard sale, bought it on a whim without knowing if my kids would even like it, and my son adored it from the moment his grandfather first read it to him.

The book is Moosetache by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Henry Cole. Poor Moose has a moosetache that is truly out of control. He tries everything to tame it--braids, moosetail, moosescarf... but nothing seems to work. The moosetache either tickles him, strangles him, or trips him up. Until he meets the moose of his dreams, who tells him her secret to managing her towering 'do. The story is humorous, the language uses some amusing alliteration, and the illustrations are darling. My son can't get enough of it (he still laughs everytime that squirrels make a home in Moose's pile of moosetache) and we read it several times a week. The happy ending is quite entertaining too--the photo montage at the end is my daughter's favorite part. She likes to point to each picture and explain who it is. This is a wonderful and fun children's book--original and a bit absurd, but my kids are big fans. FYI, I noticed this book was available in the October edition of Scholastic's See Saw Book Club as part of a "Read and Laugh Pack" (More Parts by Tedd Arnold is part of the pack, and is also really funny), so if your Kindergartener or First grader brought home that order form from school, be sure to take a look!

Julie at Booking Mama hosts Kid Konnection every week. Check out her blog for more great kid's books.

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