Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel by Mel Starr

This is a murder mystery set in the small are of Bampton in old England. We follow our detective, Master Hugh de Singleton, as he tries to solve the case of a brutal murder. A man has been found with his throat slashed in the bushes near the road leading the St. Andrew's Chapel. While investigation the murder, he uncovers an unusaul trail of related crimes that lead to quite a stunning conclusion.

While I was able to guess several of the details before they were explained by Hugh. However, as the story is written by Hugh himself as a chronicle of his investigation, he often informs the reader that something turned up to be important, but he did not realize it at the time of the discovery. The case leads the reader on quite a merry chase through the little town, introducing us to many of the residents. Starr's writing brings these people and their town to life through the eyes of Hugh as he struggles to find the trail of the killer.

The writing was nice and liesurly, carrying you through the book at a steady pace as Hugh lays the groundwork for everything to come together. On the down side, I found very little to feel suspense about. Since it was written as a chronicle by Hugh after the fact, there were many insights and thoughts included. I got a little tired of hearing how badly he wanted to find a wife, the subject was dwelt on too many times and too often. I can hardly imagine that a man investigating such a grisly murder would have much time to complain to himself about his lack of a wife.

I have added earlier chronicles to my wish list, but they are not near the top. The story was engaging but needed to have that moment of suspence to make it a little more exiting for me.


Monday, March 29, 2010


Well, after some research on the difference between the Nook and the Kindle, I finally broke down and decided to purchase a Nook over the weekend.  I was also spurred by the search for a book that I could either buy used, starting around $75, or in e-format, for $2.99.  I'm in the process of reading said book, and will post my thoughts on the book and the Nook (haha I rhymed) when I'm finished.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book Review: The Link by Colin Tudge

In interesting look at a spectacular fossil found at a dig site in Germany called the Messel Pit. The fossil is believed to be one of the "missing links" in the evolution of humans. While it would have been nice to hear more in the book about the fossil itself, the book did give a wonderful history of a period in ancient history called the Eocene. It explored several different theories of evolution branches that could have potentially lead to humans.

Overall a very informative book. My only complaint was the lack of more information on the fossil, Ida, herself.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Book Review: Test of the Twins by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

The third and final book of the Legends trilogy finishes off the series with quite the epic conclusion. Raistlin and his brother Caraman, Tasslehoff, and Lady Crysania have split ways. Raistlin and Lady Crysania enter the abyss to do battle with the dark queen, Takhisis. Meanwhile Caramon and Tasslehoff are thrust forward in time to bear witness to the effects of Raistlin and Crysania's actions. Not particularly liking what they see, they rush back to the present to try and change the future and save the world they love.

This volume is a fast paced epic conclusion that keeps you turning pages up until the very end. All four are faced with decisions that, if made incorrect, could lead to the end of the world. The end shows us that not everything is at it seems, and that people will suprise up until the very last. The only way for a hero to save this day is make an ultimate sacrifice for eternity. Who will be the one willing to give everything they have and could have to stop the end of time?

I am continuely amazed at the characters in these books. They come to life in a way that is seen so rarely. They become your friends and family. You cheer when they succeed and would do anything to stop them from making the mistakes they do. Their development is so seamless and natural that I am continually surprised to find they are not real. As this part of their story ends, we look forward with what is rest of the world to better days, and grieve for those that were lost along the way.


Weekly Finds: 3/19/10

A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel by Mel Starr - received an early review copy from librarything.com

From the back of the book:  Alan, the beadle of the medieval manor of Bampton, had gone out at dusk to seek those who might violate curfew.  When, the following morning, he had not returned home, his young wife, Matilda sought out Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of the manor.

Two days later Alan's corpse was discovered in the hedge, at the side of the track to St Andrew's Chapel.  His throat had been torn out - his head was half severed from his body - and his face, hands and forearms were lacerated with deep scratches.

Master Hugh, meeting Hubert the coroner at the scene, listened carefully to the coroner's surmise that a wolf had caused the great wound.  And yet...if so, why was there so little blood?

Roses by Leila Meacham - won from a contest hosted at Book'in With Bingo

From the inside cover: Spanning the twentieth century, Roses is the story of the powerful founding families of Howbutker, Texas, and how their histories remain intertwined over the span of three generations.

Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick fell in love, but because of their stubborn natures and Mary's devotion to her family's land, they unwisely never wed.  Now they must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies that surround them, and the poignant loss of what might have been - not only for themselves, but also for their family legacies.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Meets Movie: The Earthsea Saga

I absolutely adored the Earthsea books.  The characters were engaging, the storylines full of just about everything you could want in a fantasy series.  We had magic and mystery, strange gods and even stranger creatures.  The stories follow the wizard Ged, one of the greatest of all time, through his adventures as he not only finds himself, but manages to save the land of Earthsea in the process.  I read the books almost back to back and the stories flowed smoothly into one another.

The "movie" is actually a Sci-Fi Channel mini-series, but I watched it on DVD so it seemed like a very long movie.  Now the movie is not quite the same as the book...well let's just face it, it's nothing the same.  Try and imagine someone reading all of the Earthsea books to you at the exact same time.  That's right, all the books seem to be happening simultaneously.  They also leave out some of the biggest and most important scenes because they must not have fit into this mangled timeline.

Once I realized that the movie was not going to be like the books, I made every effort to put the books out of my mind and just enjoy a good movie.  Unfortunately I couldn't quite do that.  There is very little character development because of this and when they did manage to change it was so sudden that they may as well have turned into a different person in a matter of seconds.  If I hadn't read the books, I would have been completely lost.  There is no explanation of why people are doing what they are doing or who they even are. 

These books could have some major potential if they had been presented correctly.  I hope someone does it some day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekly Finds: 3/13/10

Tragic Magic - A Scrapbooking Mystery by Laura Childs: won from a blog contest.

From the inside cover: New Orleans is bursting with events for everyone from spookies to foodies.  But when a local ghost-hunter-turned-entrepreneur is extinguished, it's up to a crafty Carmel Bertrand to unmask the killer...

Carmela, owner of Memory Mine scrapbooking shop, and her best friend Ava Gruiex, owner of Juju Voodoo, have a big project ahead.  Melody Mayfeldt is converting an old mansion in the Faubourg Marigny district into an unforgettable haunted house for those who flock to New Orleans for a creepy fix.  She needs Carmela's crafty touch to make the Medusa Manor come to life - and evoke the dead - in time for the upcoming horror convention, DiscordaCon.

But Melody takes her house haunting a little too seriously - especially when her flaming body coms crashing through a tower window to welcome Carmela and Ava to the job...

Someone wanted Carmela's client dead - very dead.  Carmela's in some deep gumbo again and needs to crop out a killer from the throngs of people there for DiscordaCon and the big Galleries and Gourmets celebration.  Then maybe it won't be so hard living in the Big Easy...

Book Review: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I just couldn't finish this book. I made it up to just after page 100 and had to put it down. The only person I was able to enjoy was the crazy guy. I'll set it aside for now and perhaps take it up again later for another shot.


Book Review: The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

Prinecess Eilonwy has been sent off to train to become a lady. Taran and faithful Gurgi accompany her and what is expected to be a peaceful voyage and farewell. Of course, things never work out the way they seem. Achren, the enchantress, is back and up to no good. Then one day the Princess goes missing.

The companions find themselves together once again on a hunt to find the Princess Eilonwy before Achren can cause her harm. Along the way we meet my favorite minor character in the book....a very large feline. She's wonderful, and reminded me of my own cats.

The book overall is a great story. I'll be holding onto it so that I can read it with my daughter in a couple years.

4/5 stars

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Weekly Finds: 3/6/10

Furies of Calderon: Book One of the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.

I've been a fan of Jim Butcher's since I read the first Dresden File books.  When mis(h)takes had the first in another of his series on her blog, I had to add it to the list!

From the back of the book:  For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united agaist the agressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies - elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal.  But in the remote Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting.  At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps.  Yet as the Alerans' most savage enemy - the Marat horde - returns to the Valley, Tavi's courage and resourcefulness will ba a power greater than any fury, one that could turn the tides of war.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book Review: House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

I'll try to split this between the two stories, but they flow together so seamlessly that I didn't realize I'd started the second book until I noticed I was reading another chapter 5.

In the first book, [House of Dark Shadows], we are introduced to the King family, mom, dad, little sister Toria, middle son David, and oldest son Xander (Alexander). They are on the way to Pinedale, where dad has just gotten a new job as principle in a school there. None of the kids are overly thrilled about the move...but kids are rarely happy about leaving everything they know behind. They move into an old run down house on the outskirts of town...and this is where things get interesting.

The house seems to play games with sight and sounds. You'll hear someone talking upstairs only to find out they're in the room right next to you. Not only that...there is a hallway lined with doors. Doors that take you to another place and time.

I loved all the kids....wasn't too fond of the parents. The story moves quickly and keeps you interested. You follow Xander and David primarily, and it's wonderful to see the world through the eyes of children again. Everything seems fresh and new, even if I know it really isn't. The story hooks you very early on and drags you along happily through all the adventures.

Warning: There may be very minor spoilers since this is about the second in the series

In the second book, [Watcher in the Wood], the family is dealing with the disappearance of their mother, the strange appearance of a man intent on getting them out of the house by any means necessary, and a meadow that seems to take all their cares away for awhile. Secrets are revealed and feelings are hurt. I wonder if these will cause permanent damage to relationships later on, so far it's an open door to go either way.

Xander, David, Toria, and their father are all eager to jump in and help find their mother, who has disappeared through one of the portals. However, they all have their own idea of how it should be done sparking arguements, more lies, more secrets, and a few near death experiences. The pace of the story continues in a way that I could hardly tell that one book and ended and the next had started.

Two new characters are also introduced. The creepy man that is bound and determined to get the Kings out of the house, and a mysterious old man that is desperate to find a way to get there. I have the third in my cabinet waiting for me, and I just may need to move it forward in my reading list a little. They leave you with quite a cliff hanger!

4/5 for both.