Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have the opportunity to spend the day with family and loved ones. I also hope you have had many things to be thankful for in the past year and that your good fortune will continue with the new year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hot Mahogany by Stuart Woods

One night at Elaine’s, Stone Barrington—back in Manhattan after chasing down the bad guys in the Caribbean—meets Barton Cabot, older brother of his sometime ally, CIA boss Lance Cabot. Barton’s career in army intelligence is even more top secret than his brother’s, but he’s suffering from amnesia following a random act of violence. Amnesia is a dangerous thing in a man whose memory is chockfull of state secrets, so Lance hires Stone to watch Barton’s back. As Stone discovers, Barton is a spy with a rather unusual hobby: building and restoring antique furniture. The genteel world of antiques and coin dealers at first seems a far cry from Stone’s usual underworld of mobsters, murderers, and spies. But Barton also is a man with a past, and one event in particular— in the jungles of Vietnam more than thirty years earlier— is coming back to haunt his present in ways he’d never expected. Stone soon finds out that Barton, and some shady characters of his acquaintance, may be hiding a lot more than just a few forged antiques.

I enjoyed this Stone Barrington book much more than Shoot Him if he Runs. The characters seemed much more together, and not quite as goofy. This is another very quick, fun read, but with all the non-fiction I have been reading lately this is just what I was looking for.

The mystery is a little stronger than the last book, but it is written in such a way that everything falls together for Stone with very little work. He doesn't so much follow the clues, as he just seems to be in the right place at the right time. Even though I haven't loved the last few books in the series it is still one I will continue to follow. The characters still make me laugh with the scrapes they get into and the mysteries are decent. 3.5 stars

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

Today's question- Blog Widgets. Do you use them? Do you have them on your blog? Do you know what I'm talking about? :-) A blog widget is that list of books "From my LibraryThing" and such, that you'll sometimes see on someone's sidebar. If you use it, do all of your books show up or do you have it set to only show certain books? Do you have a search widget, which would allow your blog readers to search your library? Have you ever made a photomosaic of your book covers? You can find widgets and photomosaic information on the "Tools" tab in LibraryThing.

I do have a LT blog widget posted here. It is currently showing random books from my library. I have been thinking about doing something slightly different with it, but haven't found one I like better yet.

I don't have a search widget currently. I honestly didn't know that there was a widget that would let you search. That could be interesting, as long as it isn't slow. I hate slow moving web pages.

I was recently browsing LT and saw the photomosaic feature, but didn't have the time to try it. I may just have to take the time and see what it does!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon

While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as someone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda join the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

This story is told in the present with Rhonda flashing back to her childhood throughout the story. The flashbacks are well done, with each chapter being marked by the date. This helps keep any confusion to a minimum.

For the most part, I liked the characters. Rhonda was someone you could relate too especially. Tock, however, seemed a little strange to me. She played a minor role, but she still came across as kind of unfinished to me. The relationships between the characters are important and it took me a bit to straighten out which characters were married.

I enjoyed this McMahon book more than Promise Not To Tell. I don't really get into ghosts and paranormal things, and this one didn't include any of that. The Island of Lost Girls story line had some predictable elements, but also had parts that had me guessing right up to the end. Overall, a very enjoyable read. 3.5 stars

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis

The true story of thirteen women who took a risk on an expensive diamond necklace and, in the process, changed not only themselves but a community.

Four years ago, in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a diamond necklace in a local jewelry store display window. The necklace aroused desire first, then a provocative question: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later, Jonell bought the necklace with twelve other women, with the goal of sharing it.

Part charm, part metaphor, part mirror, the necklace weaves in and out of each woman's life, reflecting her past, defining her present, making promises for her future. Lending sparkle in surprising and unexpected ways, the necklace comes to mean something dramatically different to each of the thirteen women.

The Necklace drew me in from the very beginning. I loved the idea of the story and the sharing involved in its purchase. The writing was very smooth and flowed quickly. I originally sat down to read a chapter or two and found myself halfway through the book before I knew it.

The book was broken into thirteen chapters with each woman being the focus of one chapter. This format was a wonderful way to "meet" each of the women, but there were definitely some that you got to know better than others. The later chapters didn't seem to spend quite as much time featuring the person they were supposed to be about. They would often tell a story or two about the featured women, but then would revisit a woman that was already mentioned. I was a little surprised that the group was as affluent as it was, though. I had expected to find a group of women that would never have been able to purchase this necklace without this arrangement, and that didn't seem to be the case.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and the experiences that the necklace allowed each women to be a part of. It was a quick, interesting read and I would recommend it even if you aren't normally a non-fiction reader. 4 stars

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...

Suggested by JM:
I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.
Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

I absolutely do not believe that reviewers are obligated to only post positive reviews. To me, that is not a review, it is just providing lip service.

I don't review books any differently depending on whether it's a review copy or not. I believe in providing honest reviews, and sometimes that includes explaining why a book didn't work for me. And that, to me, is one of the great things about reviewing books. Everyone has different things that appeal to them. A book that I wouldn't bother finishing may be another's favorite.

I understand that author's get attached to their work, but they must also realize that not every book will appeal to every reader. When I do post a negative review I try to point out the good and the bad in a book, without giving away spoilers. I think this is fair to the author as well as my reader.

I don't think that blogs should have to post disclaimers announcing they may post negative reviews. This should go without saying. I would expect authors to respect this. If an author chooses to respond to a negative review I would only ask that their comments open a dialogue and not be posted only to harass.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sail by James Patterson

Only an hour out of port, the Dunne family's summer getaway to paradise is already turning into the trip from hell. Carrie, the eldest, has thrown herself off the side of the boat in a bid for attention. Sixteen-year-old Mark is getting high belowdecks. And Ernie, their ten-year-old brother, is nearly catatonic. It's shaping up to be the worst vacation ever.

Katherine Dunne had hoped this trip would bring back the togetherness they'd lost when her husband died four years earlier. Maybe if her new husband, a high-powered Manhattan attorney, had been able to postpone his trial and join them it would all have been okay....

Suddenly, a disaster hits–and it's perfect. Faced with real danger, the Dunnes rediscover the meaning of family and pull together in a way they haven't in a long time. But this catastrophe is just a tiny taste of the danger that lurks ahead: someone wants to make sure that the Dunne family never makes it out of paradise alive.

James Patterson's books are those I pick up when I just need a break. I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately and needed something lighter. Patterson's books are always quick, light reads.

Sail is predictable, but I would expect it to be. Patterson always has semi-interesting characters, but most of the book is based on quick action. This works well if you are looking for a mindless, beach-y type read.

I have always wondered what the actual length of a Patterson book would be if he actually wrote chapters of a normal length...3 stars

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

Popular this month on LT: Do you look at this list? Do you get ideas on what to read from it?Have you read any of the books on the list right now? Feel free to link to any reviews you've done as well.

Here's the list and my answer:

1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
3. Nation by Terry Pratchett
4. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
5. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
6. American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
8. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski
9. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
10. Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3) by Stephenie Meyer

I don't usually look at this list, which actually surprises me. I have always been a bit fan of lists...

I have read Dewey, but that is the only one. I have American Wife and Eclipse but they are buried somewhere in Mt TBR.

I would love to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as I have heard wonderful things about it.

On a slightly different note, I just realized I haven't posted since last Tuesday's Thinger post. I hate it when life gets in the way of blogging!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

Today's question: LT Things- t-shirts, bags,cue cats- are you into the "stuff"? Do you use a cuecat to enter your books, or do you enter them manually? What do you think of the stuff?

I am not a big fan of stuff. I have thought about purchasing a cuecat as entering books can be sporadic, and I thought this might help me get better about it....but I am also a huge procrastinator, so I still haven't bought one. Maybe one day though.

As for T-shirts, bags and the like, no, I won't be buying them. I don't wear many things that have names splashed across them. It's just not my thing...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dewey Winner!

Thank you all so much for entering my giveaway. I hope you found some reviews you enjoyed and will come back again.

Now, on to the results! My trusty randomizer has chosen Jacqueline in Atlanta as the winner. I have sent an email asking for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. If I don't hear from you by then, the second place person will be sent an email.

Check back soon for my next giveaway!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Love Junkie by Rachel Resnick

Rachel Resnick hits her forties single, broke, depressed, childless, a train wreck. After an ex-boyfriend breaks into her home and vandalizes it, Resnick takes the time to look back over her romantic and sexual history to ask the question: What is wrong with me? Thus begins her quest to uncover the roots of love and sex addiction, every bit as toxic and damaging to life as heroin. Love Junkie charts Rachel Resnick's harrowing emotional journey from addiction to intimacy, from despair to hope. By peeling back one painful layer after another, what she discovers is a glaring pattern: she is addicted to the fantasy of romantic bliss, marriage, and children. Yet all her relationships proved impossible. At the root of her issues: a Dickensian childhood experience. Finally she confronts her alcoholic mentally ill mother' suicide. In this groundbreaking, compulsively readable memoir, Resnick flays her own psyche in search of the truth, cracking open one of the more elusive and pervasive addictions of our time.

I received this book as part of Elle's early reader program. I was picked this time as a non-fiction reviewer. They pick a theme for the month and send you three books to read on that topic. At the end of the year, you also review the top non-fiction books from the other months. This months theme, loosely, was mental illness and addiction. I probably wouldn't have picked this book up if it weren't for this program.

I have pretty much been staying away from the "I had a terrible childhood and now it ruined my life" type books. I have found them, for the most part, to be depressingly similar. The authors put themselves in poor situations time and time again, and wonder why the outcome never changes. This one wasn't much different.

Resnick claims to realize she is a love junkie, and maybe she really does see the problem and want to change. However, this book seems to be written more to shock, and as a catalog of her sexual exploits. The writing also rambled a bit, switching from past to present without much rhyme or reason. Overall, it was a quick read, but not very satisfying. 2 stars

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony's Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own and is terrified of the day he will be sent alone into the world.

But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren's long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, he's lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.

From the description I thought this book would be something I really enjoyed and I couldn't wait to read it. I have been disappointed though. I thought it would have some mystery with Ren looking for clues to his parents, and some adventure along the way. What it turned out to be was the story of some petty thieves that really weren't all that interesting to me. The storyline of Ren's parents doesn't even really get brought up until the last hundred pages.

There were some mildly interesting minor characters, but those couldn't keep me reading. As a disclaimer, I haven't currently finished this book. Maybe it all comes together beautifully in the end. But, even though I don't know who Ren's parent's are, I don't really want to spend the time reading the last hundred pages to find out. 2 stars

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...

What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”

I honestly can't remember a single book that someone else has purchased for me that I haven't asked for. I have so many books that unless I give someone a title there isn't really any way for them to know what I have read, or already own. Besides, half the fun of getting new books is browsing to see what treasure you might come across!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Resistance by Agnes Humbert

Agnes Humbert was an art historian in Paris during the German occupation in 1940. Though she might well have weathered the oppressive regime, Humbert was stirred to action by the atrocities she witnessed. In an act of astonishing bravery, she joined forces with several colleagues to form an organized resistance, very likely the first such group to fight back against the occupation. (In fact, their newsletter, Resistance, gave the French Resistance its name.)

In the throes of their struggle for freedom, the members of Humbert's group were betrayed to the Gestapo; Humbert herself was imprisoned. In immediate, electrifying detail, Humbert describes her time in prison, her deportation to Germany, where for more than two years she endured a string of brutal labor camps, and the horror of discovering that seven of her friends were executed by a firing squad. But through the direst of conditions, and ill health in the labor camps, Humbert retains hope for herself, for her friends, and for humanity.

Most of my WWII reading has been set in Russia, so this was a nice change of pace. I really enjoyed the format of the book. The entries ranges in length from a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages. The diary layout made it easy to place the events Humbert wrote about within the timeline of the war.

Obviously, Humbert wasn't allowed to write while she was imprisoned, but the detail in her recollections make you feel as if you are right in the middle of the action. I especially enjoyed the brief glimpses of the other prisoners. She was able to illustrate the unpredictability of prison life by the stories of her friends coming and going.

The language in this book was very beautiful and descriptive without being over powering. As credit to the translator, the wording didn't feel clumsy or forced. If you have any interest in WWII this is worth reading. 4 stars.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World Giveaway!

As a part of the Book Giveaway Carnival I am giving away a copy of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron.

Please leave a comment on this post to enter. As always, if you blog about this giveaway and link back here I will give you another entry. Please make sure you have either your email address in the post or a blog address that includes your email. If I can't get a hold of you, your entry won't count. This contest is open to the US and Canada. I will take entries through 5 pm mountain time on November 9th and will use my randomizer to pick a winner that evening. Good Luck!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monique and the Mango Rains Winner

Thank you all for entering my contest. The randomizer has spoken, and Sandra at Fresh Ink Books is the winner. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!
Check back in the next week or so for my next giveaway of
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.