Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's in a Name Reading Challenge

I’m joining the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Here's How It Works

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:

A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title. -- The Wolves Came Down From the Mountain by Michael Strong

A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title. -- Sink the Bismarck! by C.S.Forester

A book with a party or celebration in the title. -- The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau (review)

A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title. -- Fire by Sebastian Junger

A book with an emotion in the title. -- Crimson Joy by Robert Parker (review)

A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title. -- The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey (review)

I joined last year too and had fun so I’m going to try again this year.

Tea and Books Challenge

I’m joining the Tea and Books Reading Challenge sponsored by The Book Garden.

This challenge was inspired by C.S. Lewis' famous words, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

This is for books over 650 pages. (No large print. That’s cheating.)

There are different levels you can choose from:

2 Books - Chamomile Lover

4 Books - Berry Tea Devotee

6 Books - Earl Grey Aficionado

8 or more Books - Sencha Connoisseur

I’m going for Chamomile Lover level which is only two books. I think I can make it. Let’s hope so.

So if you like big think books then hop on over and read the rest of the rules.

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin -- 766 (review)

2. Xanth: The Quest for Magic -- 774

Colorful Reading Challenge

I’m joining the Colorful Reading Challenge sponsored by Lost in Books.

The Colorful Reading Challenge is simple:
1. Just choose 9 books with colors in the titles.
2. The books can overlap with other reading challenges
3. Post your links to your reviews each month to share with other participants.
4. The challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013.
5. Read to your heart's content!

When most people think of colors they think of the basics- red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, white, black, and brown. But don't forget, as Crayola taught us, colors have a wide array of tints and shades so don't forget you can include colors such as silver, gold, plum, pink, crimson, scarlet, turquoise, blonde, gray, pumpkin, the list goes on.

So go sign up, be imaginative and have fun.

1. Crimson Joy by Robert Parker (review)

2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (review)

3. The Emerald Storm by William Dietrich

4. Lavender-Green Magic by Andre Norton

5. Strawberry Yellow by Naomi Hirahara

6. Black Friday by James Patterson (review)

7. The Silver Ghost by Charlotte MacLeod

8. Ruby by Ann Hood

9. The Golden Ball and other stories by Agatha Christie

Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Challenge Completed

I’ve finished the Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge.

It was sponsored by My Book Retreat and you can see the original post here.

I have a few more reviews to post by since the challenge didn’t require reviews I technically finished the challenge when I finished reading the books.  Which I have.  So I’m posting this now and will get the other reviews later.

You can see my original post here where I have a list of the books I read and links to the reviews I have managed to post already.

Now I have finished all my 2012 challenges.

I entered more for 2013 so I wonder if I’ll be able to say the same thing next year.

The Eclectic Reader Challenge Completed

I’ve finished the Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge.

It was hosted by Eclectic Reader and you can see the original post here.

You can see my original post here.  I finished the 12 books and all the reviews just in time.  And you can see the books that I read and the reviews that I wrote on my original post.

Now on to 2013 challenges.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Movie Review

With Nicolas Cage

Johnny Blaze must fight the devil for a chance to break his curse.

Since it is based on a comic book I expected there to be things that were slightly over the top with a plot that would probably not be acceptable anywhere else.  So I was not disappointed with any of that, even though there was plenty.  There was a lot of action with fire, gunfights and explosions.  There were a few witty lines and some good effects and times of comic book fun.  But I hate the way it was shot.  There was some split screen stuff I didn’t like, and the picture would jump around in a way I found unpleasant, some fast camera moves that didn’t make things easier to follow, and several shots that you could tell were there simply for the 3D effect and I hate when a film does that (and I saw it in 2D so the shots were even worse.)  And there were a couple of eye roll moments too.  If you are a huge Ghost Rider fan or in love with Nicolas Cage go ahead and see this one, just don’t expect too much.  If you are neither of those I wouldn’t bother.  

Nefertiti Review

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

(from the back of the book)
Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries.  Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh.  It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people but fails to see that powerful priests are plotting against her husband’s rule.  The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear.

This is the story of Nefertiti and her life with Amunhotep but it is told more from the point of view of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet.  You get to see a more personal view of the history of a very interesting time.  It was a time of change and turmoil for all of Egypt and Nefertiti and her family are wrapped up in it all.  And you can see that turmoil in the family as well, as they all try to figure out what they should do for Egypt, for their family and for themselves.  You can feel the desperation, dread and uncertainty of the family as so much of their lives seems to be out of their control.  Especially in Mutnodjmet who feels that to stay loyal to her sister would mean the death of her own happiness.  Unfortunately there are not many people in this story to like.  Nefertiti is portrayed as a shrill, spiteful, self-centered witch.  Amunhotep (aka Akhenaten) is stubborn, power hungry, unreasonable and just plain crazy.  I have trouble believing people like this could rule for any length of time and would have liked to see them with some redeeming qualities to make them more believable.  As they were they seemed over the top and unreal.  Some of the other characters were less offensive but most still unlikable.  I enjoyed the book but I wish I could have related to the characters more.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Just One Look Review

Just One Look by Harlan Coben

(from the back of the book)
When Grace Lawson picks up a newly developed set of family photographs, there is a picture that doesn’t belong – a photo from at least twenty years ago with a man in it who looks strikingly like her husband, Jack.  And though Jack denies her suspicions, he disappears that night, taking the photo with him.

In the days that follow, plagued by doubts about her marriage and herself, Grace begins to realize that others are looking for Jack and the photograph – including one fierce, silent killer who will stop at nothing.  When the police won’t help her, and neighbors and friends alike seem to have agendas of their own, she must confront the dark corners of her own tragic past to keep her children safe and learn the truth that might bring her husband home…

This book has a quick start right out of the gate.  You don’t have to wait a long time for something to happen.  And it never stops for long.  The suspense starts right away and Coben manages to keep it going.  There are enough twists and turns and false leads and partial answers that lead to new questions that you don’t lose the tension along the way.  There is a lot going on here.  You jump from scene to scene and have to keep track of a lot of characters (some of whom you never actually meet) in a complex plot.  A very complex plot.  There are people who are not who they appear to be, pasts that come back to haunt people, memory loss, creepy killers and just about anything else you can think of.  They are all pieces in a puzzle you don’t have the picture for so it is a surprise when you finally see how they all fit together.  And the surprises keep coming to the very last page.  There are some points that are a bit of a stretch and push you almost to the point of unbelief and it also stops just short of being too convoluted and becoming confusing.  But it is written well enough that it never really loses you.  It’s a good fast paced thriller.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What an Animal Reading Challenge

I'm joining the What an Animal Reading Challenge sponsored by Socrates' Book Reviews Blog.

The rules are really simple...

Read at least 6 books that have any of the following requirements:

a. there is an animal in the title of the book

b. there is an animal on the cover of the book

c. an animal plays a major role in the book

d. a main character is (or turns into) an animal (define that however you'd like).

The animals can be real or fictional so dragons and werewolves are fine.

To read the rest of the rules and to sign up yourself go to Socrates' Book Review Blog.

1. Big Snake by Robert Twigger (review)

2. The Pig, the Prince, and the Unicorn by Karen Brush (review)

3. The Old Fox Deceiv'd by Martha Grimes (review)

4. The Owl Service by Alan Garner (review)

5. The Wolves Came Down From the Mountain by Michael Strong

6. Electrified Sheep by Alex Boese (review)

Julia and the Master of Morancourt Review

(from the back of the book)
Julia Maitland has reached marriageable age living in her family’s estate in rural Derbyshire, but her prospects are dramatically altered by the sudden death of her soldier brother in the war against Napoleon and the loss of her father’s investments.

Within a few weeks, Julia finds herself in London, in fashionable Bath, and then chasing smugglers through the countryside in coastal Dorset, trying to achieve a match with the man she loves, rather than the arranged marriage preferred by her ambitious mother.

Set in the period when Jane Austin was writing her famous novels, Janet Aylmer’s latest book follows the lively heroine and handsome hero searching for happiness together in turbulent times.

This is a simple story of two people falling in love.  And by simple I mean there is no suspense, mystery, twists, or even any tension.  The novel tries for all of these by doesn’t quite make it so the book, and therefore the characters, fall flat.  It’s a good enough idea but without any surprises or struggles to overcome overwhelming hardships there just isn’t much here.  It is written in the language of the time and most of the time it’s fine but every once in a while a word or phrase jumps out as out of place and awkward.  And there are a couple of points that are too obviously contrived, two characters need to be alone so there is someone at the door who came by for unexplained reasons, or there is a letter calling someone home for unexplained reasons.  It wasn’t horrible or anything but in the end I just didn’t find it very interesting.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A to Z Reading Challenge

I’m joining the A to Z Challenge hosted by Escape With Dollycas into a Good Book.

This challenge will run from January 1st, 2012 until December 31st, 2013.
You can join anytime.

There are two different ways you can set up your own A-Z challenge.

A – Make a list now of 26 books, picking one for each letter of the alphabet. For example: A – The Azalea Assault B- Blue Monday C – Crops and Robbers D – A Deadly Grind etc.


B – Make a list on your blog from A-Z. Throughout the year, as you go along, add the books you are reading to the list. Hope that by the end of the year you have read one book for each letter. Towards the end of the year, you can check and see which letters you are missing and find books to fit.

I’m going to go with plan B. And probably start to panic sometime in November.

If you want to join too click on over and sign up. You do not have to have a blog to join so no one has an excuse. Have fun!

A - After the Bomb by Gloria Miklowitz
B - Big Snake by Robert Twigger (review)
C - Crimson Joy by Robert Parker (review)
D - The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski (review)
E - The Emerald Storm by William Dietrich
F - Fire by Sebastian Junger
G - The Great Arc by John Keay
H - Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
I - Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (review)
J - Just Gone by William Kowalski (review)
K - King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
L - Lavender-Green Magic by Andre Norton
M - Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw
N - Ninja by John Man (review)
O - The Old Fox Deceiv'd by Martha Grimes (review)
P - The Pig, the Prince, and the Unicorn by Karen Brush (review)
Q - Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip
R - Ruby by Ann Hood
S - The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (review)
T - There was a Little Girl by Ed McBain
U - The Union Club Mysteries by Isaac Asimov
V - Velvet by Alec Kalla and M.J. Sullivan
W - The Wolves Came Down From the Mountain by Michael Strong
X - Xanth: The Quest for Magic by Piers Anthony
Y - Year of the Monkey by Carole Berry
Z - Zero Stone by Andre Norton

Speaking American Review

Speaking American by Richard W. Bailey

(from the book jacket)
When did English become American? What distinctive qualities made it American?  What role have American’s democratizing impulses, and its vibrantly heterogeneous speakers, played in shaping our language and separating it from the mother tongue?

A wide-ranging account of American English, Richard Bailey’s Speaking American investigates the history and continuing evolution of our language from the sixteenth century to the present.  The book is organized in half-century segments around influential centers: Chesapeake Bay (1600-1650), Boston (1650-1700), Charleston (1700-1750), Philadelphia (1750-1800), New Orleans (1800-1850), New York (1850-1900), Chicago (1900-1950), Los Angeles (1950-2000), and Cyberspace (2000-present).  Each of these places has added new words, new inflections, new ways of speaking to the elusive, boisterous, ever-changing linguistic experiment that is American English.  Freed from British constraints of unity and propriety, swept up in rabid social change, restless movement, and a thirst for innovation, Americans have always been eager to invent new words, from earthy frontier expressions like catawampously (vigorously) and bung-nipper (pickpocket), to the West African words introduced by slaves such as goober (peanut) and gumbo (okra), to the urban slang such as tagging (spraying graffiti) and crew (gang).  Throughout, Bailey focuses on how people speak and how speakers change the language.  The book is filled with transcripts of arresting voices, precisely situated in time and space: two justices of the peace sitting in a pumpkin patch trying an Indian for theft; a crowd of Africans lounging on the waterfront in Philadelphia discussing the newly independent nation in their home languages; a Chicago gangster complaining that his pocket had been picked; Valley girls chattering; Crips and Bloods negotiating their gang identities in L.A.; and more.

Speaking American explores – and celebrates – the endless variety and remarkable inventiveness that have always been at the heart of American English.

Bailey takes us on a tour through time and space, stopping at each location for fifty years as he comes forward in time explaining how American English came about.  You get a look at how the different populations that came to American influenced the language in the places they chose to settle down.  It is interesting to see the language shift and change and to learn how some words came to be included in the evolving language.  But I wouldn’t say that this is a very readable book.  Bailey really knew his stuff and you can see the time and research that went into the book.  I can appreciate the love he has for his topic but I never felt it myself.  So at times this book got a little dry and slow.  I’m not a student of the subject so maybe I’m the wrong audience for this book.  Because for me, with a more casual interest, I would like something a little less scholarly sounding.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This Isn't Fiction Reading Challenge

I'm joining the This Isn't Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Garden.

All non fiction genres are allowed

Books must be at least 100 pages long (excluding appendix and annotations)

Books must be read in their entirety and not just in part

No picture heavy books - (books should have a 75:25 text/picture ratio - if it's a big tome with 300 or more pages, then it may be a 50:50 ratio)

ARCs and re-reads are allowed

There are a couple of levels to choose from:

5 Books - Kindergarden

10 Books - Elementary School

15 Books - High School

20 or more Books - College

I'm going to go for the High School level.  I've managed 15 non-fiction in a year before so I know it's possible.  20 would be pushing it.  Yes, yes, I know.  Pushing it is sort of the point of reading challenges.  But I'm a baby who will cry if I fail.  So...

It says I don't have to list my books ahead of time so I won't.  Because I would just have to change the list later when I changed my mind.  The books will be a surprise to you and me both.

If you would like to join the challenge too hop on over to The Book Garden to check out a few more rules and sign up.  Good luck!

1. Big Snake by Robert Twigger (review)

2. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (review)

3. Ninja by John Man (review)

4. Death in the Long Grass by Peter Hathaway Capstick

5. Electrified Sheep by Alex Boese

6. Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip

7. Fire by Sebastian Junger

8. Stars Beneath the Sea by Trevor Norton

9. The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey (review)

10. Endurance by Alfred Lansing

11. The Big, Bad Book of Beasts by Michael Largo

12. Pecked to Death by Ducks by Tim Cahill

13. The Search for the Elements by Isaac Asimov

14. Mysteries of the Deep by Frank Spaeth

15. Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton

16. The Great Arc by John Keay

17. Anatomy of a Beast by Michael McLeod

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unlikely Friendships Review

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland

(from the back of the book)
A leopard lies down with a cow.  An elephant cuddles a sheep.  A house cat curls up with an iguana.  These are just a few of the 47 heartwarming stories of interspecies friendship, documented in amazing photographs, that challenge everything we think we know about animals and the lives they lead.

This is a book for animal lovers.  And if anyone has ever asked how you can treat animals like family give them this book and they just might begin to understand.  These are heartwarming stories about animals that would normally not be together (and sometimes would eat each other) getting together and showing all signs that they are friends.  Some of them were introduced by humans to try to save orphaned animals but some of them found each other on their own.  And those, for me, were the better stories.  The photos that go with the stories are amazing and adorable.  They are all short little stories so you can read one in a few minutes or you can get through the whole book in a rather short time.  If you stop and want to pet every dog you pass on the street you are going to want to read this.

Teaser Tuesdays (December 18th)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“When they first captured me I had arms the size of your waist.  Now I’m almost down to nothing.  Soon they’ll be done with my body, and they’ll finish by siphoning away my will to live.”

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Monday, December 17, 2012

Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge

The end of the year is quickly approaching and it is time to think about 2013 reading challenges.  I still have a few reviews to post before I am technically done with 2012's challenges but I feel confident that I'll get there.  So for my first challenge of 2013 I'm going to enter the Let Me Count the Ways Challenge hosted by Avanti's Place.

There is an audio version too but I will be doing the book version.

The challenge goes from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013

There are levels for you to choose from. You can always move up a level but you can't go down. The levels are:

Living with the parents: 0 - 2000 pages
College Dorm: 2,001 - 4,000 pages
Off Campus Apartment: 4,001 - 6,000 pages
My First Place: 6,001 - 8,000 pages
Condominium: 8,001 - 10,000 pages
Mansion: 10,001 + pages

Who doesn't want to live in a mansion, right?  So that's what I'm heading for.  10,001 + pages.  Let's see if I can do it.

If you would like to enter all you have to do is make a post of your own and link it back to the challenge and then sign up on the link on the challenge site.

1. Crimson Joy by Robert Parker - 292 (review)
2. Big Snake by Robert Twigger - 319 (review)
3. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy - 264 (review)
4. King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard - 224
5. The Pig, the Prince and the Unicorn by Karen Brush - 216 (review)
6. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer - 288 (review)
7. The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski - 454 (review)
8. The Old Fox Deceiv'd by Martha Grimes - 299 (review)
9. The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau - 290 (review)
10. The Passage bu Justin Cronin - 766 (review)
11. Ninja by John Man - 272 (review)
12. The Owl Service by Alan Garner - 176 (review)
13. The Spy in the Ointment by Donald Westlake - 207
14. The Wolves Came Down From the Mountain by Michael Strong - 184
15. The Union Club Mysteries by Isaac Asimov - 210
16. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte - 362
17. Sink the Bismarck! by C.S. Forester - 118
18. The Emerald Storm by William Dietrich - 348
19. Death in the Long Grass by Peter Hathaway Capstick - 297
20. Lavender-Green Magic by Andre Norton - 239
21. Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith - 294
22. King Stakh's Wild Hunt by Uladzimir Karatkevich - 291
23. Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw - 413
24. Electrified Sheep by Alex Boese - 328
25. Strawberry Yellow by Naomi Hirahara - 233
26. Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip - 268
27. The Dragons of Archenfield by Edward Marston - 276
28. The Assassins by Lee Falk - 159
29. Fire by Sebastian Junger - 222
30. Old Bones by Aaron Elkins - 243
31. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells - 216
32. Velvet by Alec Kalla and M.J. Sullivan - 221
33. The Sword of Il Grande by Will Creed - 404
34. Zero Stone by Andre Norton - 221
35. Black Friday by James Patterson - 450 (review)
36. Every Boy Should Have a Man by Preston L. Allen - 192 (review)
37. The Silver Ghost by Charlotte MacLeod - 213
38. Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud - 483
39. Death By the Light of the Moon by Joan Hess - 200
40. Stars Beneath the Sea by Trevor Norton - 266
41. The Wild Wild West by Robert Vaughan - 212
42. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell - 307
43. Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy - 318
44. Basic Elements of the Christian Life Vol. 1 by Witness Lee - 47
45. Xanth: The Quest for Magic by Piers Anthony - 774
46. Heat Wave by Richard Castle  - 196
47. The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey - 349
48. Foundling by D.M. Cornish - 434
49. The Wall by Marlen Houshofer - 244 (review)
50. Decked by Carol Higgins Clark - 277
51. The Year of the Monkey by Carole Berry - 246
52. Endurance by Alfred Lansing - 280
53. Basic Elements of the Christian Life Vol. 2 by Witness Lee - 29
54. The Big, Bad Book of Beasts by Michael Largo - 427
55. No Footprints in the Bush by Arthur W. Upfield - 185
56. Pecked to Death By Ducks by Tim Cahill - 375
57. After the Bomb by Gloria Miklowitz - 156
58. Thunderball by Ian Fleming - 258
59. After the Bomb: Week One by Gloria Miklowitz - 137
60. Just Gone by William Kowalski - 107 (review)
61. The Search for the Elements by Isaac Asimov - 152
62. Galore by Michael Crummey - 335
63. Mysteries of the Deep by Frank Spaeth - 242
64. Ruby by Ann Hood - 225
65. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire - 377
66. Jane by Robin Maxwell - 312
67. Thin Air by Robert B. Parker - 293
68. Smoke by Donald Westlake - 439
69. Naked Heat by Richard Castle - 288
70. There was a Little Girl by Ed McBain - 339
71. The Thousand Coffins Affair by Michael Avallone - 160
72. A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton - 256
73. The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault - 371
74. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran - 370
75. Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye - 437
76. Godiva by Nicole Galland - 305
77. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare - 86
78. Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin - 211
79. Dragonbreath: When Fairies Go Bad by Ursula Vernon - 201
80. The Great Arc by John Keay - 172
81. Anatomy of a Beast by Michael McLeod - 186
82. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace - 561
83. Clarice Bean Spells Trouble by Lauren Child - 189
84. Sacred Monster by Donald Westlake - 231
85. The Golden Ball and Other Stories by Agatha Christie - 235
86. No Such Thing as a Witch by Ruth Chew - 115

-- Total = 23861

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Thirteenth Tale Review

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

(from the book jacket)
The enigmatic Vida Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself – all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret.  Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life.  She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain.  Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters a life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized.  It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins, Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden, and a devastating fire.

This book seems to take place outside of time.  It has an old feel to everything but a date is never mentioned and there are no historical facts to help place it.  And I kind of like that.  It adds to the surreal feel of the book that makes it slightly spooky and foreboding.  You know there is something Vida Winter has spent her whole life avoiding and the dark feel of the book makes you almost dread finding out what it is at the same time that it pulls you in and keeps you reading.  You try to imagine what the secret is that could be so bad.  I, for one, never did.  I followed along though all the twists and turns and watched as all the pieces started to fall into place and was surprised by the answers at the end.  Are there elements in this story that are completely improbable? Yes.  But the story is well written and entertaining and that’s all that matters.  I like the way that the narrator’s love of books works itself into the story and makes it, even more so, a book for book lovers.  There were a few moments when I was afraid it was going to drag but they passed quickly and by then I was hooked anyway and needed to know what happened so I couldn’t have stopped reading even if I had wanted to.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Friday 56 (December 14th)


*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your ereader.
*Find any sentence (or a few) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it to Freda's Voice.
*Add your (url) post to Linky on Freda’s post

The book this week is Put a Lid on It by Donald Westlake.  I just pulled this off the shelf about two minutes ago and haven’t started reading it yet so I have no idea if it’s good or not but I have liked everything I’ve read by Westlake so far so I don’t see why this one will be different.  We shall see.

“And what am I supposed to do?” she demanded.  “Start preparing your insanity defense?”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Culinary Reactions Review

Culinary Reactions by Simon Quellen Field

(from the back of the book)
When you’re cooking, you’re a chemist! Every time you follow or modify a recipe, you are experimenting with acids and bases, emulsions and suspensions, gels and foams.  In your kitchen you denature proteins, crystallize compounds, react enzymes with substrates, and nurture desired microbial life while suppressing harmful bacteria and fungi.  But unlike in a laboratory, you can eat your experiment to verify your hypotheses.

In Culinary Reactions, author Simon Quellen Field turns measuring cups, stovetop burners, and mixing bowls into graduated cylinders, Bunsen burners, and beakers.  How does altering the ratio of flour, sugar, yeast, salt, butter, and water affect how high bread rises?  Why is whipped cream made with nitrous oxide instead of the more common carbon dioxide?  And why does Hollandaise sauce call for “clarified” butter?  This easy-to-follow primer even includes recipes to demonstrate the concepts being discussed.

This is a very sciency book.  It uses words like bonds, denature, react, solute, and other science words you don’t come across in everyday life.  There are even chemical diagrams in here.  So if you are someone who hated high school chemistry you will probably hate this book too.  But if you have no fear of science and like to cook, dive right in.  Probably everyone will run into some concepts they are unfamiliar with but don’t worry.  Chemistry lessons are provided in little asides put in to explain some of the concepts that are important to understanding the topic.  I like science so I’m probably willing to wade through some stuff other people would find annoying but still I can’t say that I understood everything completely all the time.  Especially when they broke out the diagrams of chemical bonds and started talking about when this bond moves to look like this… Yeah, okay.  But the big concepts I got.  And knowing why things happen when you cook and why you are doing certain things is not only interesting to know but can help you in your cooking efforts.  So you know if your cake comes out more like bread there is something you can do about it.  And it’s good to know that there is a reason to buy all those different kinds of flour and you aren’t just throwing your money away for nothing.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's In A Name? Challenge Complete!!

Yay! I finished the What’s in a Name? Challenge. Am I more excited than I should be for finishing a six book challenge in December? Yes I am. But at one point I wasn’t sure I was going to finish any of my challenges or reach my 100 book goal and now it looks like I’m going to finish them all. So I’m happy about that.

If you go to my original post you can see the rules of the challenge and the books I read for it as well as links to my reviews.  And if you go to Beth Fish Reads' Challenge post you can see the reviews other people have posted too.

If this looks like fun to you then you should check out the challenge for 2013 and see what the categories are. Beth Fish Reads is hosting it again this year and I think I’ll give it another try.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tuesdays With Morrie Review

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom had a favorite college professor who he promised to keep in touch with and didn’t.  Years later he finds out his old professor is dying and decides to get back in touch and ends up spending every Tuesday with him, listening to him explain all the things that death has taught him.  This book is the collected wisdom he shared with his former student in the last months of his life.

I had heard about this book and, since I tend to cry at the drop of a hat, I expected this to set off the water works.  But for some reason it didn’t.  Morrie seems like he would have been a very interesting guy to know.  And you can see how the time with Morrie helped Mitch set different priorities in his life and learn what was important to him.  But for some reason I had trouble relating.  I think the problem was that it quickly became a list of pithy little sayings, Morrie’s aphorisms, and it started to get trite.  It is nice to see someone face what Morrie faced with that much dignity.  I think that gives you hope it can be done.  But a lot of the wisdom here is not anything we haven’t heard before.  And hearing it again still leaves you with the problem of living it out, which the book can’t really help you with.  It’s not a bad book but I’m afraid I didn’t find enough depth here for it to have the power that other people seem to have found here.