Friday, February 27, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: Drood

I am pleased to be able to participate in this blog tour organized by Miriam Parker with Hatchette Book Group . For a complete list of participants please see the bottom of this post.

Author: Dan Simmons
Rating: 4.5/5
Grade: D - 18 and up (drug use, violence, disturbing images, language)

Description from the publisher:
"On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best."

My Thoughts:
Having long been a fan of Charles Dickens, I found this book to be extremely fascinating. Even during the first half of the book--hundreds of pages--before the action begins, which some people found to be a bit long with no real action, I was so interested and delighted to see this almost living portrait of Dickens. From what I have heard of Dickens, the pompous, energetic man Simmons paints is accurate. Though I have never read a biography of Dickens, this book has inspired me to do so. Simmons also manages some great critiques of Dickens' works, through the eyes of fellow writer Wilkie Collins. Which inspired me to read a couple of the books of Dickens which I have missed.

As far as the narrator of the book, Wilkie Collins, I am completely unfamiliar with his work, and so I cannot vouch for the authenticity of his voice as written by Dan Simmons. I am able to say, however, that I felt totally transported in time while reading this book. Simmons is very well able to pull of the phraseology and writing style of the mid-1800's, and I could easily believe that I was reading a book written at this time.

I love long books, but I have to admit when I was sent this book and saw that it could be used as a doorstop, and looked at the stack of books that are waiting for my review, I gave a little sigh. But, after beginning the book, I found myself pulled into the story very quickly, and the time and pages flew by. The book was at once thrilling, entertaining, and educational. I could very easily believe the most fantastical elements of the plot, and was not even disappointed in the rather fizzling ending. I was very impressed with Dan Simmons' writing ability, and plan to read more of his works.

Video of author on tour in Seattle:

Visit the author at his website:

See More reviews by visiting the other blog tour participants:


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: Heart and Soul

Author: Maeve Binchy
Rating: 5/5
Grade: C - 14 and up (mild language and sexual reference)

Plot synopsis? I'm afraid that I find it quite impossible to sum up any of Maeve Binchy's novels in a few short sentences. What is the book about? The more appropriate question would be what the book is not about. Binchy's ability to artfully weave together many separate and diverse stories with one common thread is really astounding. In Heart and Soul the connector and unifier is a heart clinic in Dublin set up to help people with heart disease manage their disease, and to learn how to live as healthily and long as possible. All of the serpentine stories in the book revolve around this clinic.

One of the things I love about Maeve Binchy's novels is how she brings people from her previous novels back into existence as minor characters. I always want to know what happens to characters I come to know and love once the book is over. And she has the ability to show them through a different perspective where they somehow appear the same, and yet other aspects of their character are explored. The only time I find this a bit distracting is when I have not read the book which first introduced the characters, and people are talked about who do not really appear in this story, and have no real meaning to me.

Another aspect of Binchy's writing which I find quite remarkable is her ability to show just what should be shown. In a few short commonplace words, even mundane task, she is able to perfectly paint a picture of character and setting. Her grasp and understanding of human nature is incredible. This through what she shows of people, and how well she knows her readers. Life. That is what her novels are. Life with all of it's heartache, humor and joy. And always she leaves you with a feeling of hope and joy.


Booking Through Thursday Question of the week

See this weeks BTT .

Hardcover? Or paperback?
Illustrations? Or just text?
First editions? Or you don’t care?
Signed by the author? Or not?

In general
I definitely prefer hardcover books. They are more durable, and this is an issue to me because I keep all but the most unworthy books. It is hard to read paperback books without bending or creasing the cover in some way, and I like my books to stay looking nice, and unread. There are occasions when paperbacks are preferable, such as on the beach, while travelling, or while nursing a baby; when there is a danger of the book getting destroyed, or when I only have one hand available, ore when I have limited space.

I love illustrated books. It is really to bad that, other than children's pictures books, so few books have any illustrations anymore. I have some books of Charles Dickens' with illustrations, and find the reading that much more enjoyable.

As for first editions, really not an issue for me at this point. I don't collect books as collectors items. Though I do like to have nice books, for me they are about functionality. At some point in the future if I have the kind of money to be able to spend it on books that I will not read, it is a possibility I could begin to collect.

To have a book personalized by the author would always be a plus. I currently only have a couple of signed books, but would welcome more.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from - that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

My teaser:

The kid scrambled and ran. Nasiji walked out of the alley, his head pounding, heart beating so quickly that even an hour later it hadn't returned to normal.

~The Silent Man by Alex Berenson (page 130)~


Monday, February 23, 2009

BBC Book Meme

The BBC allegedly believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here:How do your reading habits stack up? [bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish]
*( I have no idea where this list came from, I thought that it was the BBC's The Big Read - Top 100, but it is not, oh, well, still fun.)*

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eigthy four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy\
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle LOVE
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery en francais
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I have read 40/100, and started but not finished 16/100. Most of the book I have read seem to be classics, or children's stories. I'm afraid I have large gaps in my contemperory fiction reading.


Mailbox Mondays

Mailbox Mondays is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page My mailbox was comparatively inactive this past week. Only two books came to me, but I am looking forward to reading both of them. When I can finally get to them. It makes it difficult when I receive a book that I am really looking forward to reading, because it has to wait until I get my stack of TBR books whittled down.

This Is Your Brain On Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin.

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Giveaway: Castle in the Mist: Planet of the Dogs Volume 2

Thanks to the author, Robert J. McCarty, I have a copy of Castle in the Mist to give to one of my lucky readers. Read my Review.

Book Description:
"After a year of peace Bik, the warrior-chief of Stone City, is preparing for war. His children have been kidnapped by Prince Ukko, the leader of the Black Hawk tribes, and held prisoner in the Castle In The Mist. This is the story of how the dogs came down from their planet, to the land of the Forest People, to free the children and prevent war.
The Black Hawk soldiers had never seen dogs before. They had no knowledge of their courage, cleverness and endurance. And they had no idea that the dogs, through their extraordinary sense of smell, could see in the darkness and foggy mist that enveloped the Castle and the great forest.
When the winter snow falls, and the land is covered in white, it is the working dogs who challenge King Ukko and his warriors — and bring peace to the land of the Forest people."

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment letting me know that you would like to win this book

2. For additional entries: become a follower of this blog (if you already are that counts, just make sure to remind me); subscribe to me blog (if you already do that counts, just let me know); twitter this giveaway; or blog about this giveaway.

3. Contest is open worldwide.

4. Ends March, 3 2009.

Good Luck


Review: Castle in the Mist: Planet of The Dogs, Volume 2

Author: Robert J. McCarty

Illustrated by: Stella Mustanoja McCarty

Rating: 4.5/5

Grade: A - All Ages

Castle in the Mist is the second installment of the Planet of the Dogs Series. While it is enjoyable to read it after having read Planet of the Dogs, the first book in the series, it can also stand on its own. In Planet of the Dogs the dogs come to the earth for the first time, in order to save the people of Green Valley from invaders from Stone City. The dogs were successful, and the Stone City Warriors have been living peacefully for over a year, with dogs of their own, when Castle in the Mist begins.

The dogs are once more alerted to trouble on earth. Nik and Nikki, the children of the Stone City Warrior leader, Bif, have been kidnapped. Prince Ukko, leader of the Black Hawk Tribe, who has invaded and taken residence in the Castle of the forest people, is unhappy that the Stone City Warriors have turned to peace. He is afraid that the peace will spread, and the lifestyle of himself and his army will be in danger. When Bif refuses his request for one hundred horses and two dogs, he has Bifs children kidnapped and held for ransom.

Having so recently brought peace to the earth, the dogs are afraid that it will now be taken away. Bifs anger and desire for revenge is great, and he will stop at nothing to recover his children. Can the dogs resolve the situation before war brakes out? Can Prince Ukko's hard, black heart be softened?

Castle in the Mist is full of the same elements I enjoyed in Planet of the Dogs and Snow Valley Heroes: beautiful, detailed, soft, mood setting drawings; the fun and antics of the dogs, and the people who are discovering them for the first time; encroaching danger and suspense; the lovely fantasy of a planet of dogs who are so concerned with the people of earth; and the forgiveness, unconditional love and loyalty that the dogs are able to subtly impart.

Read my reviews of Planet of the Dogs and Snow Valley Heroes .

To find out more visit the website Planet of the Dogs and the blog Barking Planet Children's Books


The Sunday Salon

The Sunday

Today I have finished Castle in the Mist: Planet of the Dogs, Volume 2 by Robert J. McCarty. I also hope to finish The Silent Man by Alex Berenson. If I have time there is a stack of ten or more books that I need to read, I may begin one of them. It depends on how long my baby--who has a double ear infection--sleeps, and how much attention the other four require today. I am taking today as a catch-up on reading day, and then will have to take next week as a catch-up on housework day. I have to say that I find the reading catch-up day enjoyable, and the housework catch-up...not so much.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fill-ins

(For more visit Friday Fill-ins )

1. Give me a good book and I'll forget about the dishes in the sink, and the pile of laundry stacked to the sky.

2. Whenever I smell grease (as in motor oil) I think of my father.

3. I wish that there was a foolproof cure to cancer with a 100% success rate.

4. Homemade almond butter was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world one must be able to laugh through the pain.

6. Other than this one, Crazy Book Slut is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to starting to read Galway Bay, tomorrow my plans include finding some clothes to fit my shrinking body (35 lbs lost since November 1st) and Sunday, I want to survive the two hours of my sunday school class of 4-6 year olds!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Booking Through Thursday Question of the week

(To read other responses and see the question visit Booking Through Thurday )

I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?”

Well, my books originally had some organization, but the books that have been added in the last year and a half have been randomly placed on two new bookshelves as they have come into our home.

Our books are organized by genre, and then by height on each shelf. I can't stand having messy looking bookshelves. The taller books are placed on the outside, on both sides, and 'v' into the shorter books in the middle. The exception is if there is a series or author I am trying to keep together in order. I don't find further organization necessary, even with over 2,000 books, I almost always know just where the book I am looking for is.

This picture is a good example. The top three shelves are fantasy/sci-fi/Stephen King, and the bottom two shelves are random non-fiction. On the very top shelf I am trying to keep a series together (Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series)which I have part in paperback, and part in hardcover. Other than that the books go by height.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Giveaway: The Terror

Thanks to Valerie with Hachette Book Group I have five copies of The Terror by Dan Simmons for giveaway.

Book Description:
"The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the Terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear there is no escape. A haunting, gripping story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core."

I am currently reading Dan Simmons newest novel Drood, and have to say that I have been extremely impressed with his writing.

To Enter:
1. Leave a comment telling me that you would like to win this book. Please leave a way for me to contact you.
2. For extra entries: become a follower (if you already are that counts, so make sure you tell me); subscribe to my blog (if you already do that counts, so make sure you tell me); or post about this giveaway (please leave me the link).
3. Books ship from the publisher, so only U.S and Canandian mailing addresses. No P.O. Boxes please.
4. Contest ends March 2, 2009

Good Luck


Mailbox Mondays

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. To see what others have recieved in their mailbox this week head on over and check out Mailbox Monday

In my mailbox/doorstep:


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Ball

Valentines Day Ball
Though not book related, since I told about the ball we were going to, I decided to post the picture also. I am the one in the black dress, in case you can't figure it out from my profile picture. We had a nice time.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Wishing you all a wonderful Valentine's Day. May you be able to be with the ones you love and care for. My husband and I are going to a ball (Wyoming style, so don't think too fancy), which will be the first time we have gone to any dance or anything of the sort since our first date over ten years ago.

If you are lacking someone to celebrate this holiday with, may I suggest buying a large box of delicious chocolates and cuddling up with an even more delicious book. (Personally I have never thought much of the holiday. I don't need someone to tell me when I should be effusive and show my love, I prefer to do it on my own time. And how sincere can manifestations of love be when forced by a commercial holiday. In college I told everyone that I would refuse any proposal of marriage given on Valentines Day, even if it was to the love of my life. I guess I am just not that sentimental or romantic.)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Review: What's Age Got To Do With It?

Author: Robin McGraw
Rating: 3.5/5
Grade: A - All ages

In What’s Age Got TO Do With It? Robin McGraw, wife to Dr. Phil, shares what she has learned and uses to stay looking and feeling young. Chapters include topics such as fitness, nutrition, skin care, hormones, hair, makeup and fashion. The book is largely about her and what she does, but there is a good deal of helpful—though basic and non-groundbreaking—information. In her chapter on fitness she provides ideas on how to stay fit without the personal trainer who she now has access to, and how she did it at home with little to no equipment when she had little kids and little money. In the chapter on nutrition she includes a twelve day sample menu of a healthy diet. I found the skin care chapter especially useful because it is something that I know little about, and as I approach my 30th birthday in the fall, and am seeing those fine lines start to appear, I appreciate the basic information, including recipes for simple food based scrubs and products, and exercises to firm the neck and jaw.

Though there is not really any new information in the book, and the subjects are not studied in depth, I found this book to be a good base on taking care of your body, and also found it interesting to read about the life of Robin. I appreciate her encouragement of women to take care of themselves, and stop thinking of everyone else first.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

His voice was hushed, as if Hatchery or Miss Darby or the boy Billy could be the Egyptian criminal in disguise. "I guarantee that your friend Dickens is--consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or as an instrument of Drood--carrying out that Devil's purposes on this tour."

~Page 234 of Drood by Dan Simmons


Winners Announced: Planet of the Dogs

I am finally announcing the winner for the Planet of the Dogs giveaway. My apologies for the delay.

Congratulations to: Roblynn and Rebekah. I hope that you enjoy the book!

For the rest of you please check back soon for a giveaway of the second book Castle in the Mist.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Giveaway: My Little Red Book

Thanks to Anna with Hatchette Book Group , I have five copies of My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff available for giveaway.

Book Description:
"MY LITTLE RED BOOK is an anthology of stories about first periods, collected from women of all ages from around the world. The accounts range from light-hearted (the editor got hers while water skiing in a yellow bathing suit) to heart-stopping (a first period discovered just as one girl was about to be strip-searched by the Nazis). The contributors include well-known women writers (Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Cecily von Ziegesar), alongside today's teens. And while the authors differ in race, faith, or cultural background, their stories share a common bond: they are all accessible, deeply honest, and highly informative. Whatever a girl experiences or expects, she'll find stories that speak to her thoughts and feelings.Ultimately, MY LITTLE RED BOOK is more than a collection of stories. It is a call for a change in attitude, for a new way of seeing periods. In a time when the taboo around menstruation seems to be one of the few left standing, it makes a difficult subject easier to talk about, and helps girls feel proud instead of embarrassed or ashamed. By revealing what it feels like to undergo this experience first hand, and giving women the chance to explain their feelings in their own words, it aims to provide support, entertainment, and a starting point for discussion for mothers and daughters everywhere. It is a book every girl should have. Period."

Read my review .

Find out more:

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me you would like to win this book. Please make sure to leave a way for me to get ahold of you.

2. For extra entries: become a follower of my blog, subscribe to my blog, or blog about this contest (if you already are or do that counts, too, just tell me). Please leave this information in a separate comment.

3. Publication date for the book is February 26th, so contest will end the 25th.

4. As this book mails from the publisher, only U.S and Canadian addresses will be considered. No PO Boxes please.

Good Luck


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