Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review: Wisdom of Kittens compiled by Franchesca Ho Sang

A cute little book of kitten pictures with words of wisdom to go along with each. The pictures were wonderful, especially the ones that looked like twins to one of my own little furballs. The words of wisdom were cute. Not too much to really say about this one.


Giveaway Link: Enchanted by Josephine's Blogiversary

I'd like to congratulate Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine for celebrating her first blogiversary.  To celebrate she is hosting a great giveaway for historical fiction fans.

So head on over and enter HERE

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Giveaway Link: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine

There's a great giveaway going on to win a copy of The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.  The contest ends Jan 1, 2010 - just in time for a nice new year's surprise! Contest is hosted by Tynga's Urban Fantasy.

To enter click HERE.

Book Review: The Message of the Sphinx by: Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval

This is the second book on Egypt that I have read by Robert Bauval. I would recommend reading the first, The Orion Mystery, before starting this as it occassionally references back to topics written there, and I found it very helpful to have the background on the pyramids discussed in The Orion Mystry.

The Message of the Sphinx moves away from the Great Pyramids a bit and centers on the meaning, purpose and age of the Great Sphinx. Newer theories (1996) suggest that the Sphinx is much older than originally thought and also suggest a new purpose for the anciet monument. These discoveries are based in science and lead to a very compelling argument for the writers' theories.

If you are interested in Egyptology, this book should be on your must read book. Even if we choose not to believe the authors' theories, it shows a new picture of the ancients that helps piece together how and when they lived, specifically their religion and funeral rites. The writing gets a littel overly scientific for easy reading so I've been picking it up on and off all year.


Weekly Finds: 12/27/09 (Christmas Part 2)

Williams's Choice Literature edited by: Sherwin Williams - A Christmas present from my Grandmother.  This is quite an old book that I used to love when I was little.  I do not have a working scanner at the moment, and the cover isn't much to look at so I have no picture.  It is a collection of short stories that appears to be originally intended for school use.

Wisdom of Kittens compiled by Franchesca Ho Sang - A Christmas present from my out of state relatives.

From the back of the book:  If ever a book could lift your spirits and make you smile, this is it.  Wisdom of Kittens is a wise and whimsical book that passes along optimistic and heartfelt messages about friendship, confidence love, hope, loss, and fear.  With quotes such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, and many others, Wisdom of Kittens is filled with insight and inspiration.

House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo:  A book my Grandmother read on her way up to visit and decided to just leave for me to read. (My book has both volume one and two combined into one book)

From the back of the book:  Book One in the series, the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town and fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed.  He and his friends create amateur films...and the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.

But they soon discover there's something odd about their new house.  Sounds come from the wrong directions.  Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust.  But then the really weird stuff kicks in:  They find a hidden hallway with portals leading to far-off places - in long-ago times.  Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of adventure is a teen's dream come true...or his worst nightmare.

Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

From the back of the book:  Book Two in the series, the Kings learn that pretending everything's all right is harder than it sounds.

But when a stranger shows up to take their house, their options start dwindling fast.  Why would he be so interested in a run-down old place?  And what secret is he hiding - just as he hides the scars that crisscross his body?

The mystery gets stranger with each passing day.  Will the Kings be able to find a way to harness the house's secrets and discover who is watching their every  move before another gets snatched into an unknown world?

Dark Alley by Evan Marshall - Won from the LibraryThing.com member giveaway program.

From the inside cover:  Sanitation worker Garry Thomason runs behind Manhattan's NewAmsterdam Mews one morning to collect the trash...and vanishes.  The next morning he's found in the middle of the mews, brutally murdered.

When Garry's boss, New York's Department of Sanitation supervisor Anna Winthrop, begins to investigate, she uncovers Garry's startling secret past involving shoplifting, drug-dealing, and a deadly episode from a tour in Iraq.

Then more people are found dead - a pretty daycare worker, a respected professor, a medical student - all left in hidden mews around the city.  As Anna works to expose this 'Mews Murderer' she herself becomes a target.  For this cold-blooded killer will do anything to hide a shocking secret from his own past.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Weekly Finds: 12/26/09

Writing this up a day early since I doubt any mail will be delivered tomorrow on Sunday, and it was a wonderful Christmas for me book-wise.  I received a few from the top of my wish list as well as some gift certificates to spend later.  There were also a few contest awards that arrived this week, so my stack of books to read has just about doubled.

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson - courtesy of Hachette Book Group giveaway at Bookin' With Bingo.

From the inside cover:  Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered.  Alex vows to hunt down her killer, and soon learns that she was mixed up in one of Washington's wildest scenes.  And she was not the killer's only victim.

The hunt for the murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to a place where every fantasy is possible, if you have the credentials to get in.  Alex and Bree are soon facing down some very important, very protected, very dangerous people in levels of society where only one thing is certain - they will do anything to keep their secrets safe.

As Alex closes in on the killer, he discovers evidence that points to the unimaginable - a revelation that could rock the entire world.  With the unstoppable action, unforeseeable twists, and edge-of-you-seat excitement that only a James Patterson thriller delivers, I, Alex Cross is the master of suspense at his sharpest and best.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling - a Christmas present from my Dad.

From the back of the book:  The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers' attention in the book know as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.  Now, thanks to Hermoise Granger's new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J.K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore.  Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot", "The Fountain of Fair Fortune", "The Warlock's Hairy Heart", "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump", and of course, "The Tale of the Three Brothers".  But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

The Link by Colin Tudge - another Christmas present from my Dad, recommended to me by TutuTheFirst on LibraryThing.com

From the inside cover:  For more than a century, scientists have raced to unravel the human family tree and have grappled with its complications.  Now, with an astonishing new discovery, everything we thought we knew about primate origins could change.  Lying inside a high-security vault, deep within the heart of one of the world's leading natural history museums, is the scientific find of a lifetime - a perfecty fossilized early primate, older than the previously most famous primate fossil, Lucy, by an astonishing forty-four millionn years.

A secret until now, the fossil - "Ida" to the researchers who have painstakingly verified her provenance - is the most complete primate fossil ever found.  Forty-seven million years old, Ida rewrites what we've assumed about the earliest primate origins.  Her completeness is unparelleled - so much of what we understoon about evolution comes from partial fossils and even single bones, but Ida's fossilization offers much more than that, from a haunting "skin shadow" to her stomach contents.  And remarkably, knowledge of her discovery and existence almost never saw the light of day.

With exclusive access to the first scientists to study her, the award-winning science writer Colin Tudge tells the history of Ida and her place in the world.  A magnificent, cutting-edge scientific detective story followed her discovery, and The Link offers a wide-ranging investigation into Ida and our earliest origins.  At the same time, it opens a stunningly evocative window into our past and changes what we know about primate evolution and, ultimately, our own.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler - a Christmas present from my Mom.

Description from Borders.com:  Nothing ever moves in a straight line in Fowler's fiction, and in her latest, the complex dance of modern love has never been so devious or so much fun. In this newest work, six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens.


Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler - Another Christmas present from my Mom.
From the back of the book:  After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen noves and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England.  Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?
Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman's life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer.  But not even her level of Austen mania has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condomless seducers, and marriages of convenience.  This looking-glass Austen world is not without its charms, however.  There are journeys to Bath and London, balls in the Assembly Rooms, and the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who may not be a familiar species of philanderer after all.  But when Courtney's borrowed brain serves up memories that are not her own, the ultimate identity crisis ensues.  Will she ever get her real life back, and does she even want to?
There are a few more to add....I'll finish up tomorrow, this post is getting long already.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Review: The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview

Caroline is distraught. She is in alone and sobbing as "her" Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet. Little does she know that she is being watched...by the other Mr. Darcy...the American cousin, Robert.

I adored this book. The characters were represented perfectly and they grew in ways that allowed us to love them. Caroline and Robert have a very difficult time relating to each other. She does not feel he is a proper English gentleman, and he thinks she's too guarded and doesn't share her thoughts enough. They are tossed together by Elizabeth Bennet (now Darcy) taking ill and sending for her friends for comfort.

Seeing all the characters again was like catching up with old friends and hearing their new stories. I fell into the story and didn't come up for air until it was finished.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley

Pepper Cartwright is a popular television show judge that has just been nominated for the Supreme Court by a President that doesn't seem to want to be president anymore. In fact, he plans on not running for a second term. Pepper's nomination is in response to the Senate Judiacary Committee turning down two highly qualified nominees just because Senator Mitchell, commitee chair, doesn't like the President. Pepper's nomination sparks a media uproar and some very suprising results in an approval polls.

This book is probably one of the most humorous I've read this year. I'm not doing it any justice from my description. Pepper is a fiesty young Texan that brings a new atmosphere to the dignified Supreme Court. She tells it like it is and doesn't care what you think about it. Currently the Supreme Court is divided 4 -4 and Pepper's vote will become critical in the nation's most important case in decades.

A leak in the office, an inter-judiciary romance, and a President that is running just to prove a point add up to quite a collection of situations that all show just a little bit of the flaws in our system could be manipulated given the correct alignment of events.

4/5 (a little too much legalize...but what can you expect in a book about the Supreme Court)

My copy of Supreme Courtship was given courtesy of Hachette Book Group and a giveaway on So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, December 21, 2009

Book Review: Dead Days of Summer by Carolyn Hart

A nice little mystery is the best way to describe this book. Annie's husband, Max, has been accused of murder, but she knows that he couldn't have done it. So she decides to find out what really happened and track down the actual murderer. At first the case seems pretty bad, all evidence points to Max and the little bits that could point in another direction can be easily explained away. As Annie rounds up all their friends to help investigate you are introduced to a tight knit and interesting group that seem willing to do just about anything for each other.

As wonderful as the characters were, I had a bit of a hard time really getting into the story. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something just seemed a bit off. It kept me entertained enough to give the next one a try and see how it goes.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekly Finds: 12/20/09

No new books this week.  I'm anticipating that next week will have quite a nice selection from my Christmas list.  I'm taking the opportunity to get caught up on my TBR pile and re-read a few old favorites that have been staring at me as I've been adding the new books next to them.  I'm also going to take some time next week to try and figure out Mr. Linky and the many challenges that are hosted by the bloggers here and perhaps finally set up a schedule of interesting things to add to my blog regularly throughout the weeks.

Book Review: Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

The final book in the Chronicles Trilogy. The epic battle of gods, dragons, and the humans whose choices will decide the outcome and fate of all. The characters will make their final choices of good or bad...each with their own personal reasons driving them. Some will suprise us, while others seem inevitable. We lose some friends, gain others, and are suprised by the identities of a few.

I cried, I laughed, and even though I knew the outcome from past readings, I held my breath and prayed the good guys would win.

After finishing this book, I remembered why it is one of my all time favorite series. There have been more stories written in this world, I plan on rereading those as well.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Review: The Doctor's Homecoming by Kate Bridges

Emma has just returned home to Montana for a visit after completing her training to become a doctor in Philadelphia. Her homecoming isn't everything she's hoped however. Her younger brother Cole has gotten Melissa, the daughter of Wyatt who was once the love of her life, with child. Wyatt is furious and an old feud betweent he families has resurfaced. Emma is thrown into the middle of things when Melissa goes into early labor and the Doc is out of town buying supplies.

I loved the character of Emma, she was such a strong figure to have persued her love of medacine in a time where women doctors were practically unheard of. She sticks to her beliefs throughout the story and I love how she interact with Wyatt.

Wyatt is a typical pig-headed, stubborn rancher. He knows best so things are going to go how he says they should....until Emma arrives and everything he things gets turned around in a few of their firey arguments.

The story of Emma and Wyatt, Melissa and Cole kept me interested throughout, even though you know with Harlequin it's all going to turn out alright in the end, I found myself wondering how it was going to be pulled off. A great story, but many of the secondary characters had me rolling my eyes because they were so "standard" and unoriginal.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts by CiCi McNair

Cici wants to be a detective, she loves the idea of tracking the clues and solving the puzzles. Unfortunately the business is run by men...men who are almost all ex-law enforcement, and it isn't easy for a woman to get in the loop. The story is how she manages to not only get into the PI business, but also excel in it.

Cici was a fascinating character. She lived a life of adventure and used the skills she had picked up along the way to help her in her PI career. She was spunky and opinionated, but not in a way that made her overbearing or annoying to listen to.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the book and the close up look into what a "real" PI works on.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Another typical Dan Brown book, this time leading us on a 10 hour tour of Washington DC's monuments and their ancient symbology. The capital comes to life as Brown describes in exquisite detail the nation's monuments and the artwork found within. This aspect of the book is always what I have found most fascinating in his novel, and The Lost Symbol did not disappoint in this regard. Langdon's long time friend and mentor, Peter Soloman, has summoned him to Washington to speak at a conference. Much to Langdon's suprise, when he arrives he finds that a mysterious man has kidnapped Peter and was actually the one to invite him, but not to speak at a conference, but to solve an ancient mystery in exchange for Peter's life.

I was disappointed a little by Robert Langdon himself. I'm getting a bit tired of his character. I enjoyed him in Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code, but he has not grown thoughout these stories and he needs a little something extra added to his character if Brown intends to continue the series.

The journey through the capital is fast paced and draws you in, I had a hard time putting the book down when I needed to. The cast of characters are wonderful, but the suprise twist is was a little too easy to figure out if you paid attention. While I greatly enjoyed the story, the last 50 pages or so seemed more like an addition to the story after the fact. They did not quite fit with the rest of the story and kind of ruined the ending for me.

3/5 stars

Weekly Finds: 12/13/09

Only one this week.  I've been continuing to hold off on buying too many books so that I can catch up on the ones I already have.

Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo, received from a contest at Drey's Library offered by Hachette Books.

From the back of the book:  Gabriella Richards feels betrayed.  Between her doting father in Hollywood and her grandmother's aristocratic family in Cali, Columbia, a few facts have been carefully hidden about her mother, whose tragic death shattered a picture-perfect marriage.  Gabriella, now a classical pianist, has kept one foot in her grandmother's elegant, guarded world, visiting her every year.  But this trip changes everything.  In a dusty closet in a faded mansion, Gabriella finds her mother's diary, written just for her.  And at a party of Cali's young and hip, she meets a man she can't resist.  Soon, between her mother's shocking confessions and her new lover's secretive life, Gabriella will enter a season of pleasure, pain, and awakening - as she discovers that things are not always true or false, and that the words that matter most can be the most dangerous ones of all...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Review: Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz

The mystery behind the Silver Bloods is finally solved. Many loose ends from the first two books are resolved, but the threat still remains following a dramatic twist of events that ends in discovery and tragedy. The mystery is not so much solved as revealed leaving plenty of room for the next books to work with.

Schuyler continues to develop thoughout the story. She is not a perfect person and faces many tough choices, sometimes she chooses correctly and sometimes not, making her very real. Oliver continues to be Schuyler's best friend and guides her the best he is able. He is one of the few characters that I cannot seem to relate to. He is too perfectly accomodating to Schuyler, doing whatever he can for her.

Many other young Blue Bloods come into their own, and we learn their histories and purposes in this life. Their personalities fill out and so much is revealed, I don't even know how to describe it. This is the book I enjoyed the most of the series so far, and I will be continuing the series soon.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review: Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

The continuing story of Schuyer Van Allen and her vampire (and non-vampire) friends. The story open with Schuyler searching Venice for her grandfather, a man who disappeared from the Blue Blood community long ago. She is hoping he will be able to provide her with answers in her search for the killer of her fellow young vampires.

The characters are written in a way that they are still growing and changing before your eyes. As they adjust to their vampire traditions and realize that there really is something out there hunting them. The not so nice are still not so nice, but in a way that you grow attached to...after all someone has to be the school "mean girl".

I would have liked to see more of Italy, but alas the author quickly takes us back to New York to contiue the story. While the book does fall into what I call the "second in a series curse", the pitfall of second books to be so much development and set up for the third that they are slow and uneventful, this one pulls itself out of it rather quickly.

The ending has a bit of a twist at the end that left me gaping and wishing I was as devoted to doing the right thing as the character was. We see a small portion of the mystery come to a close, only to open an entirely new one...onto book three!


Help!!! Challenges.

So I see so many people joining challenges for the new year...but I'm not quite sure how it all works.  I've never participated in a challenge on here before, and I'd love to try.  Any info would be great. 

My big questions. Do I put my main blog link into Mr. Linky or do I need a separate page to track challenges on?
How do you update at the other site that you're moving forward/made progress as you go?

Book Review: Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

Most people think of blue bloods as the old elite families...but they are more than that. They are an anceint race of Vampires that have been living for generations peacefully among the Red Bloods, or humans. But recently something has begun to kill the young off before they come into their powers. They face the choice of ignoring this threat and hoping it will go away or confronting it once and for all.

Schuyler Van Allen is vampire, a Blue Blood. These vampires are not your traditional vampires. They are nearly invincible...sunlight, stakes, silver...all seem to be myths. So when Schulyer and her friends find that something is out there that is able to kill them off, they set off on a hunt to find what it is. This hunt for answers leads to more questions than they started with.

The teenagers, Schulyer and her Blue Blood schoolmates, are fascinating characters that cover the entire specrum of personalites. There are some you love, some you hate, and some you won't be able to make your mind up about. They are dynamic and adjust their life perspectives as situations change. The story was portrayed wonderfully, revealing enough to keep you reading without giving away the critical information to figure out who the killer is. I'm starting book two later today.

There were some typos and a few times the story jumped in a awkward way as if the author wasn't sure how to segway into the next section. I'm hoping her skills become a bit more polished as she continues with the series.

On a side note, I absolutely loved the cover.  The picture is perfect and the wounds on the neck are actually indented in to give the picture some texture.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Giveaway Link: Knight of Pleasure

Drey's Library is giving away a wonderful book, Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory.  The contest is open through 6PM CST on Dec 21.

For more information click HERE.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review: Ring of Fire by P.D. Baccalario

Every hundred years four children are selected to take on the task of....something. Even after finishing the book I'm not entirely sure what that task is fully. The four children, Elletra, Harvey, Mistral, and Sheng find themselves thrown together by the oddest of circumstances. It becomes obvious that these circumstances have been set up to place these four key players in the correct position to begin.

And so it does begin...in Rome. The descriptions of the city were quite nice and my version included a few pages of colored photos af some of the points of interest which was nice since I know not much about Rome.

The story itself revolves around the action the four children take once they meet and find themselves in posession of several strange articles. We follow their escapades as they try to solve the mystery of what these items mean and the power they must hold, for a killer has been set on their trail that will stop at nothing to have them. The children are likeable but there is very little depth or growth to them. Their journey is filled with accidental findings to help them continue when there were no apparent clues to help them.

The book ends with an obvious cliff hanger which I feel inclined to add to my TBR list if only to figure out what the task set for the children really is.


Book Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian is the story of a hunt for Dracula...the original...Drakulya...Vlad III Tepes. Several generations of scholars, mostly historians, are discovering strange and ancient books. These books spark their curiosity and the search is on....for the true resting place of Vlad Tepes. The majority of the story is told through stories and notes from Paul to his daughter Eva, with small parts actually told through Eva's eyes.

The story is captivating. Kostova has done her research and her description of events, places, and historical documents is fascinating. You can see her love of history and places in every page. The majority of the story moved quickly and I didn't want to put it down. There was a section near the end that started to drag a little for me as the search seemed to go on endlessly...but I'm sure that was the point, to show how long and tiring the characters worked in all their efforts.

The characters were beautifully written and I became attached, especially to the character of Helen, Eva's mother. She is a strong female personality that was more than a match for the men she encountered in her travels.

Overall this was a great book. I would have liked to see the action progess slightly faster, which lowered my rating slightly.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekly Finds 12/06/09

Only one new book this post week.  My pile of TBR under the coffee table is getting fairly large, so I hope to be clearing quite a bit of those out over the holiday.

The Heart of the Buddha by Elsie Sze.  Received as a review copy from PR by the Book, a book publicity company.

From the back of the book:  When Marian, an earnest romantic and idealist, goes missing in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhautan, her prim and pragmatic twin sister, Ruthie, journeys from Canada to search for her.  When Ruthie uncovers Marian's passion for a Bhutanese monk and her hazardous trek over a mountain pass into Tibet, she fears the worst.  And those fears only intensify when a sinister Tibetan reveals that he is also in pursuit of Marian.  As the sisters struggle to reach each other, they must overcome the demands of their own hearts and spirits.

In easy, poetic prose, Elsie Sze paintss an enchanting picture of Bhutan as she spins a tale of mystery, adventure, and romance, recounting the two sisters' physical and spiritual journeys to find each other and their true selves.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is the story of Ali, how his actions as a child growing up in Afghanistan before the Taliban took over shaped not only his life, but the life of his childhood friend Hassan. Having grown up together they were best friends, they were like brothers, but their social standings prevented them from ever considering themselves as such. A shocking attack splits their friendship apart, driving them away from each other. Ali's response to this sets the stage that overcomes both of their lives.

This book opened my eyes to how life was like in Afghanistan before and after the "bad times". It is a wonderful story of a culture, a people, and a family. I was drawn into their lives from the first page and longed for more of them after I finished the final page. The story is full of harships overcome and losses that are profound, family lost and found, childhood ruined only to be built back up again. I met several generations of Ali's family from different walks of life and different beliefs. The book is well worth all the accolades it has received.

I'm adding Hosseini's book A Thousand Splendid Suns to the top of my to be bought list. He has a skill with words and a way of telling stories that is one of the best I've ever seen.

5/5 (A memorable read for the year)