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- Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch -- Syl, 16:58:00 11/19/04 Fri
Here's the latest, sent in by Page. Thanks, lass! Another good one!
TITLE: Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch
AUTHOR: Haywood Smith
Linwood Breedlove Scott may have dropped out of college to marry her high-school sweetheart, but she does have a degree - a PhD in Southern Bitch. Since I, too, possess this degree as did my mother before me and her mother before her, I loved every word of Haywood Smith's Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch, the most true-to-life book about Southerners I've ever read.
Lin is still reeling from the nasty break-up of her thirty year marriage. Not only did her husband spend all the money they had, put them $200,000 in debt and neglect to file income tax returns for three years, she also discovers he's engaged to a 23-year-old stripper he met in the "champagne rooms" of pricey strip clubs...the same place all their money went. Lin is forced to move to Mimosa Branch, Georgia, her childhood home, and back under the watchful eyes of The General, her father, and Miss Mamie, her mother.
Also living in the old house are her alcoholic, divorced brother, Tommy, and their Aunt Glory and Uncle Bedford. In fact, the first thing Lin sees as she arrives at the house is Uncle Bedford on the porch, wearing a Depends and holding a TV tray piled with men's shoes. Seems Aunt Glory is rather lax about giving him his medications to help with his advanced Alzheimers.
Lin ends up with the same job she held at the age of 16 and somehow finds herself embroiled in town politics as she joins a committee to oust the corrupt mayor and his bunch of cronies. She also spends time trying to analyze what kind of relationship, if any, she has with her handsome next-door neighbor. Plus, she has to get used to being called, "Little Lin Breedlove" by most of the town.
Lin is one of the funniest characters in any book I've ever read. She's so true-to-life that it was hard for me to remember that she's just a character in a book and not a real woman. One part that reminded me so much of someone I know is when Lin and her partner are leading up to intimacy and she realizes she's worn knee-high stockings. Forget worrying about how her kisses are; she's worrying about whether or not the knee-highs will leave red indentations in her calves! On another occasion, she wonders if she's making "snorking noises" in her sinuses when she French kisses!
As Lin's "brief stay" in Mimosa Branch continues, she comes to realize that she can never regain her independence, because she never had any to lose in the first place. Along with gaining new -found independence she also gains understanding, of her parents, her brother, her Aunt Glory and her Southern roots.
Haywood Smith is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, so she knows just exactly how real Southerners talk, act, and think and she brilliantly brings these character traits to life.
Visit Mimosa Branch, Georgia, and meet real Southern people. You'll never forget them!
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- Skinny Dip -- Syl, 16:59:56 11/05/04 Fri
TITLE: Skinny Dip
AUTHOR: Carl Haaisen
This review is on the wonderful new book by Carl Hiassen, Skinny Dip.
For those not familiar with Hiaasen, he is a well known investigative reporter and columnist for the
Miami Herald who writes hysterically funny novels where the villains who despoil Florida's
natural wonders meet horrible and righteous ends in hysterically funny ways. Although the books are not a series, they just share a common theme, two characters wind through most of them, "Skink", a.k.a.
"Captain," the former Florida governor Clinton Tyree and his self-appointed keeper, Florida
State Trooper Jim Tile.
Governor Tyree went quietly mad and left office, disappearing into the
swamps when he realised he could never defeat big business and its rape of Florida. In his own
lunatic way he does what he can, hooking up with characters from time to time and acting as a wonderfully improbable deus ex machina to help them assist the villains to their horrible and righteous
ends. Jim Tile, Skink's former bodyguard and sole friend and confidant, is the only person who ever
knows where the Governor is and who does his best to keep him safe from harm and discovery.
In Skinny Dip we meet millionairess Joey Perrone and her husband, marine biologist Chaz, taking
a second anniversary Caribbean cruise on the Sun Duchess. Their marriage isn't the greatest, but it
isn't the worst, either. They still like each other, so Joey thinks, and the sex is great. Everything
seems AOK until Chaz pitches Joey headfirst over an upper deck and into the ocean on the last starry
night of the journey.
Mick Stranahan, fifty-ish retired State Attorney's Office investigator and six times divorced, plucks Joey from the sea, where she has been clinging for life to a bale of Jamaican weed. For Hiaasen afficionados, we first met Mick fifteen years ago in Skin Tight. (In Skin Tight, Mick's tame barracuda took the lower arm off of a villain named Chemo, who then replaced the appendage with a weed whacker. I am not making this up.) These days, the reclusive Mick is island sitting for a globetrotting millionaire. As Joey has absolutely no clue why Chaz tried to kill her, (Chaz is bound by an ironclad prenup and is not mentioned in her will) Joey decides to play "dead" and she and Mick join forces to discover the reason.
A parallel search for reasons is entertained by Broward County Detective Karl Rolvaag, who is
somewhat distracted by the mystery of his missing albino boa constrictors (possibly devouring all
the small quadrupeds in his condo complex) and his impending move home to Minnesota. Impeding
the search are Chaz, of course, and his corpulent good-buddy boss Red Hammernut and Red's very
large and very hairy henchman Earl Edward O' Toole, a.k.a. Tool (made testy by the bullet stuck in
the crack of his bum).
Does the fact that Red owns a huge vegetable farm carved out of the 'glades
and that Chaz does runoff testing for phosphate levels figure into the mystery?
What does it mean that cattails are growing rampant wherever there is runoff from Red's farm? Hmmmm?
Why does Skink wear a bathing cap and braid his beard?
Why does Tool collect those crosses from the edge of the highway wherever there has been a fatal accident?
And just why the heck doesn't Tool have that bullet taken out of his bum?
Hovering at the edges of the action are Joey's brother Corbett Wheeler, a New Zealand sheepherder;
Ricca, Chaz's former hairdresser and lover; Maureen, an octogenarian nursing home inmate who
touches Tool's heart; Nellie Shulman and Petunia, Karl Rolvaag's excitable neighbor and her manic
little dog; and of course, Skink, a.k.a. Captain.
The action winds up in a very satisfactory manner, everyone who should
be happy is delightfully so and everyone who should be unhappy is really, really unhappy. If only
those who so ruthlessly destroy natural habitats in real life could meet their ends in such an
enjoyable manner. Enjoyable to us, at least!
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- A fellow Dave Barry fan!!! ("I'm not making this up!") As long as we have Carl Hiassen, we may somehow survive Dave Barry's coming sabbatical. That Carl is one "Sick Puppy"! (Another great Hiasson book.) Now, who knows how to pronounce his last name? Not me! (NT) -- JulieQ, 21:07:50 11/05/04 Fri
- Thanks Becca, you've made my DH's day. He loves Carl Hiassin books, I read Sick Puppy, but it wasn't for me. He keeps nagging me to read another one. (NT) -- Margy, 09:26:10 11/06/04 Sat
- *Just* read this for my book club!!!! It was fun, but I was disapointed in the ending. Not much to discuss about it, either---though I'm glad to know more about the swamp guy----I was kind of wondering...and I was told his last name is pronounced HIGH ah sin (NT) -- FloraMac, 11:01:11 11/06/04 Sat
- He sounds like fun. With which book should I start? (NT) -- Pat, 01:44:36 11/09/04 Tue
- The books, in order of publication are Tourist Season, Double Whammy, Skin Tight, Native Tongue, Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case and Skinny Dip. My personal favorites are Skin Tight, Stormy Weather and Sick Puppy. Don't be put off by the excreble movie Strip Tease with Demi Moore, the book is quite good, in fact, it has one of the most hilariously horrifying endings I have ever read. It doesn't matter if you read them out of order, they don't build on one another and I have explained who Skink is, so he won't be a mystery to you. (NT) -- beccabee, 06:09:54 11/09/04 Tue
- Replaced his ARM with a weedwacker???? Now I have to read these books. Another series to get lost in, sounds like. Great review!! (NT) -- annieo, 05:53:19 11/09/04 Tue
- Sweet Potato Queens -- Syl, 17:00:57 10/08/04 Fri
This looks like a good one for a laugh! Sent in by BGWJ. Thanks, Bev!
TITLE: The Sweet Potato Queens' Big Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner
AUTHOR: Jill Conner Browne
If nothing else, you have to flip through the pages of The Sweet Potato
Queens' Big Ass Cookbook by Jill Conner Browne. Actually, sit down and
read the whole thing. In between each recipe are some of the funniest
observations of life that you've ever read. It really is a cookbook, but
with homespun advice and humor thrown in to boot.
Jill Conner Browne is the Boss Queen of the Queens, located in Jackson
Mississippi. She's the author also of Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love
and God Save the Sweet Potato Queens. I personally haven’t read them, but
if they are anything like the cookbook, they will keep you rolling on the
floor. Ms. Browne oozes Southern charm and sage advice on just about every
subject imaginable. She must "write like she talks", because you can
imagine an accent so thick you can cut it with a knife.
Her chapter titles go something like this: About Betty Crocker, Getting
Old, Career Opportunites for Big Ass Bucks, Big Ass Parties For Teeny
Ass Girls, and Gift Giving Occasions for Spud Studs.
At the end of each chapter is a "financial"tip. For example, after giving
her take on the Good Wife Guide from the original Betty Crocker
Cookbook, JCB gives this advice: "If you have been in therapy for the
last fifteen years over your failure to live up to this image of
womanhood, not to mention your inexplicable lack of desire to do so, you
can save the cost of therapy/whatever drugs you've been given, by just
buying your own copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook and burning it!"
Also in Pass the Salt Please, she tells of falling for a much younger
man. Now who else in storyland do we know who did that? Her advice is :
"Look on the bright side. The young guy will be able to work much harder
for money for many more years in order to support you. And he's likely
to be healthy enough to take care of you in the years prior to the
nursing home. And think of the money you'll save on Viagra. By time the
needs it, you'll be dead!"
The recipes are wonderful. I have personally tasted Yam Yums, Linda's
Perky Pickles, Catshit Cookies, Broccoli Salad and Coconut Caramel
Pie. They are delicious. Some other interesting recipe names are: Egg
stuff that goes on Tortillas, No Pain-Plenty Gain Coffee
Cake, Whatchamacallit Chicken, and Bitch Meatballs with Sexy Red
Sauce. Don’t they sound yummy?
Seriously, it is a hoot to read. I know for a fact the recipes are good. For
further insight into the Queens, go to Sweet Potato Queens .These
ladies are a cult unto themselves, Not unlike LOL.
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- Well, I'm up for Catshit Cookies and Bitch Meatballs with Sexy Red Sauce. Let's have a party at your house, Honey! Come on, who all is game??? (NT) -- beccabee, 08:48:33 10/09/04 Sat
- This sounds like fun, I hope its available in the UK, I think I just found Xmas presents! (NT) -- Margy, 11:13:10 10/09/04 Sat
- Thanks for posting this,Syl.This really is a funny book.I caught myself laughing all the time,then the family would want to know why.Oh yeah,you probably cant tell from the tiny pic above,but one of those queens on the cover is really a "queen".Notice how they all look alike?At first I thought they were all the same lady in different poses,then noticed some differences.Then I read where they bought look alike wigs for their parades.Do read,even if you just get it from the local library.Its a good belly laughing spirit lifter. (NT) -- BGWJ, 16:04:11 10/09/04 Sat
- Thanks, Bev! I collect cookbooks and this sounds like a real winner - I'll be putting it on my Christmas list! (NT) -- GinC, 06:43:04 10/11/04 Mon
- Three Trilogies -- Syl, 17:31:38 09/24/04 Fri
This was sent in by Annie O. Thanks, Annie! She says these are her SECOND favourite series!
TITLES: The Farseer Trilogy
The Liveships Traders Trilogy
Ship of Magic
Ship of Destiny
The Tawny Man Trilogy
AUTHOR: Robin Hobb
Hobb creates a complicated and wonderful fantasy world in which all of these books take place, rather medieval, with a deep awareness of extra-sensory (to us mere humans) communication. I found myself thinking that perhaps this is what our world would be like if we had no internal combustion engines, and hadn’t replaced a lot of our gut feelings and daily chores with ‘advanced technology.’
The Farseer Triology deals with relationships between humans and animals, and two specific but conflicting super-sensory talents available to a limited number of the human population: the Skill and the Wit. It follows the life and training of FitzChivalry Farseer, (a bastard son of ‘king-in-waiting’ Chivalry), who is reared by the stablemaster of the royal family. An outcast whose existence has forced his father to abdicate his position, Fitz is ignored by all royalty but King Shrewd (his grandfather), who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. The culture of this part of the world is warlike and competitive. Contrasting cultures in neighboring countries bring interesting comparisons to our own cultures and history.
The second trilogy, The Liveships Traders, deals with a seafaring & trading people (trade is anathema to the Farseer culture), and the relationships among sea serpents, humans, and dragons, and all sorts of magic. The liveships have extraordinary personalities and partner with specific people, and come gradually to life as generations pass in the families that own them. When Althea Vestrit attempts to recover her family’s liveship, Vivacia, after it is taken over by her older sister’s unscrupulous husband, adventures arise! Understanding of life aboard ships is reminiscent of Patrick O’Brian, and characteristics of seafaring folk are meticulously described, with a very interesting pirate being one of the protagonists. The presence of strong female characters creates great plot tensions, and much cultural conflict occurs in this trilogy as well.
The Tawny Man books weave plot lines and intrigues from the preceding books together by centering on a character that is encountered throughout. In attempts to cement relations with traditional enemies, royal houses arrange a marriage which hinges upon a seemingly unattainable quest. Riddles are unraveled amid culture-clash and betrayal. The last of the trilogy is purposefully lugubrious and verrrrra slow, following the intrepid travelers on a seemingly never ending quest, but the denouement is definitely worth the trip!
Hobb is just a fantastic storyteller – a self-described “word person.” You care deeply about the characters and the events in their lives. I read the first two trilogies out of order (the three Ships books first) and it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference, though you should wait to read the 3 Tawny Man books until you digest the first 6, or it won’t make much sense. I found myself thinking with great delight that if the human mind can come up with ideas like this – then there’s hope for us all! I read them just before I discovered the Outlander series, and though they are much more descriptive and contain less dialogue (and there’s not much mmphing!), they don’t pale in comparison.
Hobb also writes fantasy under the name Megan Lindholm.
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- I am just starting Fools Fate and have really been loving this whole series. I have read all in order one after the other, and am just amazed at the complex world Hobb has created. In my opinion, the depth and detail she has put into this rivals another of our favorite authors *g* and is easily a very close second on my list of favorite series. Thanks for a great, well written review Annie O. I think your descriptions of their magics is perfect. I was trying to explain it to my dh who has not read the books, but I think now I'll just let him read your review! : ) (NT) -- Shana, 12:38:17 09/26/04 Sun
- I usually steer clear of fantasy, but your review has me intrigued so I am thinking about adding these to my book list. Thanks so much! (NT) -- beccabee, 14:48:34 09/27/04 Mon
- These were the first fantasy books (well, LOTR, maybe) i'd ever read, and imagine my delight when the person who gave me robin hobb's books presented me next with Outlander!! wonder what she'll come up with next? IMHO, though - can't top DG!! (NT) -- annieo, 06:06:09 09/30/04 Thu
- Go ahead, beccabee, try one! I also steer clear of sci fi, but these have such a _human_ feel to them, they draw you right in & keep you there. I got these from the library because I wasn't sure I'd want to keep them - but they're so good I'll be buying them as I do a reread. (NT) -- MaryJ, 14:22:52 10/06/04 Wed
- Thank you for this nice review!!! Sadly (or thank God *G*) my tbr is already very high and I said it below already, I'm not really into fantasy, but I've heard so much praise on Robin Hobb already, I might try her one day. Thanks again! (NT) -- Antje, 11:30:43 09/28/04 Tue
- Wow! What a fantastic review, Annie O! I have heard so many great things about these series - they've been on my list for a while. I wish someone would pay me to read all day! *g* (NT) -- GinC, 13:21:00 09/28/04 Tue
- What a way to put these books in a nutshell, Annie, great job. These are also my second favorite series (the Outlander series beats it by a smidge thanks the mmphmming). If anyone is not sure about these, just try one - you'll be hooked. (NT) -- MaryJ, 14:17:38 10/06/04 Wed
- The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency -- Syl, 17:24:01 08/28/04 Sat
This one was sent in by Margy. Thanks, Margy!
TITLE: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
AUTHOR: Alexander McCall Smith
This book is a joy to read. The central character is Precious Ramotswe, who decides to invest her inheritance in becoming the first female detective in Botswana. After all, its always the women who sort out lifes little problems, and so she decided to become the Miss Marple of Gaborone.
The book begins with her first case, in which a woman approaches her to verify that the missing father who has come into her life really is her Daddy. Mma Ramotswe, as she is called by most people, a title of respect, successfully solves this mystery in a most unconventional way. Dressed as a nurse, she drives her little white van to the house where the Daddy is sitting idling his time away on the veranda. She explains to him that his daughter is seriously ill after a car accident and he must come and give half his blood to save her life. Of course he may die, but its his daughter, so what else can he do? Suddenly the Daddy is not the Daddy any more, a simple mistake he says. Mma Ramotswe gives him 5 minutes to pack his belongings and takes him to the bus station.
We find out during the book about the life Mma Ramotswe had growing up, her marriage and early working life, and how she decides to become the first lady detective. All is told with a light touch, so that even the sections of the story which are sad or serious do not weigh heavily on the reader.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency becomes a busy place, with cases of wayward daughters, missing husbands, philandering partners. Precious Ramotswe solves the mysteries with warmth, wit and intuition, and she needs them when a case of a missing child takes her and her best friend, Mr J L B Matekoni, into dangerous territory.
Although the book is funny, it does not skirt around serious issues. We are taken into a very different world here, and subjects such as witchcraft and modern American ideas conflicting with traditional African values are dealt with in a deft way, without slowing the pace of the book at all.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency has received two Booker Judge's Special Recommendations.
Gerald Kaufmann, the chairman of the 1999 Booker Prize Jury stated, "Indeed, the effort involved [in reading [the Booker list] would have been justified by just one of them, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith"
And Sheena Mackay, Booker Prize Jury 1999 said, "I enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, set in Africa with an engaging heroine who can give Miss Marple a run for her money."
There are many other endorsements for this book, but I say, just go and get it and read it yourself. Its fun.
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- Great book! We read it for my book club and everyone loved it. Some of the other women have read the next 4-5? in the series. They are on my TBR list....haven't yet made it to my TBR pile.... (NT) -- FloraMac, 17:54:52 08/28/04 Sat
- I think that the most poignant thing about The #1 Ladies Detective Agency was learning about Precious' Daddy, I think, as learning about him enabled the reader to learn why Precious is as she is. What I like too is that she solves her cases with simple common sense, no complicated plotting or hijinks. Thanks for the review Margy! This book needs to be shouted far and wide. (NT) -- beccabee, 20:06:13 08/28/04 Sat
- This sounds so wonderful I just went and reserved it - hope it gets here soon. :D (NT) -- Judie, 20:08:48 08/28/04 Sat
- I have read the first two in this series, and have the next three here to read eventually!! I think no. 6 just came out in the UK as well. Really entertaining! (NT) -- Marg B, 22:54:26 08/28/04 Sat
- Thanks for posting this Syl, I just read books 3 and 4 while on my hols, and they still have the same light touch. (NT) -- Margy, 08:40:11 08/29/04 Sun
- Just wanted to say to any UK fans of this book that there will be a radio 4 play of it coming soon. Looks good, although I havent actually read the books myself *g* (NT) -- Beth R, 12:06:34 08/29/04 Sun
- Great series of books. Though the simple story of a woman in love with her life and her interaction with those around her, we get a deep insight into the world. The world within ourselves, our community, in Africa, and beyond. (NT) -- GinnyJ, 21:41:50 08/29/04 Sun
- Thanks, Margy - very nice review! I've heard a lot of good things about these books and have been wanting to read them. I'll move them to the top of my list. (NT) -- GinC, 06:02:43 08/30/04 Mon
- I enjoyed these books. The style of detecting is actually very different from Miss Marple... -- MacPudel, 18:40:47 08/31/04 Tue
- Just found out yesterday that the 6th Precious Ramotswe book is coming out in April of '05, "In the Company of Cheerful Ladies." (NT) -- beccabee, 09:49:50 09/04/04 Sat
- Just about finished this book - and it's lots of fun. I love Mma Ramotswe. I'll definitely read the rest of the series. Margy, your review is spot-on - thanks for picking this book! (NT) -- Judie, 01:22:08 10/03/04 Sun
- Kushiel's Trilogy -- Syl, 17:29:58 06/04/04 Fri
This excellent review was sent in by Susan W. Thanks, Susan!
TITLE: Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, Kushiel’s Avatar
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Carey
Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phèdre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she's trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure and above all, the ability to observe, remember and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy .... and unlikely heroine. But when Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very existence of Terre d'Ange, she has no choice.
Betrayed into captivity in barbarous Skaldia with only a disdainful young warrior-priest to accompany her, it will take a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey for Phèdre to return to her homeland to deliver a warning of the impending invasion. And it proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.
Kushiel's Dart is a massive tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of a new; set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, deposed rulers and a besieged Queen, the Prince of Travellers, barbarian warlords, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess... all seen through the unflinching eyes of an unforgettable heroine.
A sangoire cloak issues the challenge.
Risen from indentured servitude to become a peer of the realm, Phèdre nó Delaunay, now Comtesse de Montrève, accepts the challenge of her greatest enemy. Somewhere, close to the D’Angeline throne, there is a traitor. Who freed Melisande Shahrizai? It will take the wiles of a courtesan with the wits of a spy to find the answer-and in the end, the price may prove higher than Phèdre is willing to pay.
Once, she had the Perfect Companion at her side; but her choice exacts a toll.
Struggling to prevent her relationship with Joscelin from unraveling, bereft of her mentor, torn by her desire to seek the key to Hyacinthe’s freedom, Phèdre treads her way through a maze of intrigue and deceit. Ancient quarrels and new lies complicate her path, and no one can be trusted. Her quest will take her farther afield than she knew.
And answering Melisande’s riddle is only the beginning.
This time, the threat to Terre d’Ange lies within it. In a world filled with dubious allies, cunning villains and blood-cursed pirates, Phèdre will reckon the true cost of what it means to be Kushiel’s Chosen
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve.
But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land . . . and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.
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- I'm not sure which one of these posts to reply to (LOL!). Kushiel's Dart was a very well drawn world that sucked me in. Ms. Carey's writing is sensual and beautiful and makes Phadre and Co. come to life. The S/M aspect was a little much for me, however, I've never thought of myself as a prude, but there were scenes in this book that really made me squirm. So much so that I haven't read either of the sequels, not sure if I will. (NT) -- Brookita, 20:41:48 06/04/04 Fri
- Thanks for the review! I've got the first book here, even tried to read it last year, but it didn't grab me so I've put it away again to pick it up later again. I guess I wasn't in the right mood for it. After reading your review I'll certainly put it higher on my TBR again :-) (NT) -- Antje, 10:46:31 06/06/04 Sun
- Thanks for the review, Susan! :D (NT) -- Judie, 12:59:56 06/07/04 Mon
- Kushiel -- Susan W, 13:36:41 06/07/04 Mon
- Thanks for the great review! I've been intrigued by this series for a while and have Kushiel's Dart sitting in my tbr pile. Once I get through the massive Robin Hobb series I'm in the middle of (and take a breather) I plan on giving it a go. (NT) -- Shana, 18:57:33 06/07/04 Mon
- OOOH, this sounds intriguing. My to be read list is getting rea-lly long. Thanks Susan W (NT) -- Margy, 14:00:41 06/15/04 Tue
- I'm just finishing KD, which I got from the library after reading about it on the LOL boards. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who had a bit of difficulty with Phedre's "specialty." I did find myself drawn into the plot and characters and plan to read the rest of the trilogy. Excellently written review!!! (NT) -- LadyPeggyB, 22:32:19 08/25/04 Wed
- My sister gave me these books this summer, and I loved them! Carey's prose is beautiful, and the characters are wonderful. Phedre and company are not the most likely of heroes, but their story is very engaging. I also love that the books take place in a world loosely based on Renaissance Europe and world history - very interesting for history/Renaissance buffs. (NT) -- Rai, 13:08:21 09/14/04 Tue
- Fantasy Lover -- Syl, 17:23:27 06/18/04 Fri
TITLE: Fantasy Lover
AUTHOR: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Julian of Macedon was a great warrior – a respected general in ancient Greece. After killing his enemy’s son, the Gods curse him to spend eternity trapped in a book, to be summoned as a love slave on any woman’s whim. Two thousand years later, Grace Alexander is given the book as a birthday present from her friend Selena. The only content of the book is a picture of the most beautiful man she has ever seen.
Under Selena’s instruction, Grace frees Julian from the book. He expects her to be like his past summoners; a woman who will use him for sex. But Grace can see that Julian has had heartache and torment in his life and refuses to use him just for his body.
Julian is free from his prison for a month under the rules of the curse, and during that time, he and Grace become involved far more deeply than either of them anticipated, and they strive to break the curse. But they have a few obstacles to overcome before Julian can stay forever in the 21st century. Not least the wrath of Aphrodite and Priapus, who imprisoned him in the book. And the mischief of Eros doesn’t help matters.
The book goes on to describe the couple’s relationship and how they cope with each other’s different cultures and ways. And of course, how they can break the curse.
I loved this book! Okay, it’s light and fluffy, but I’m in the process of reading it for the third time. The story is original, funny, sad, and sexy all at the same time. What woman doesn’t dream of a gorgeous man serving her every need? The book is set in New Orleans, mostly in the French Quarter, one of my favourite places to read about.
I love how Sherrilyn Kenyon can place an ancient Greek in modern times with ease. He blends in, even with the language. As do Julian’s mother Aphrodite and Eros, who conjures up a strange image of an ancient Greek God and his girlfriend Psyche dressed as bikers!
This book is the first of Sherrilyn’s Dark Hunter series, and as the books progress, they get slightly darker, but paradoxically, still with an element of humour. Plus delicious men who are MAD, BAD AND IMMORTAL.
Sherrilyn has a website dedicated to her books written under her own name and her alter-ego, Kinley McGregor. Loads of info and excerpts from the books, pictures of who could portray her heroes, facts, etc. Go take a look.HERE She usually brings out 2 , sometimes 3 books a year, so no long time to wait before you meet another Dark Hunter.
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- Great book and wonderful series Sylvia. I love all these books. (NT) -- Aislinn, 17:31:49 06/18/04 Fri
- Gee, my fantasy lovers are always either Robbie Coltrane or Chris Kattan. Maybe I need to meet the guy in this book! Thanks, Syl! (NT) -- beccabee, 18:00:21 06/18/04 Fri
- Thats an original idea for a book, looks really interesting. I like the idea that they have bought the greek gods to life in the present day. (NT) -- Margy, 23:42:11 06/18/04 Fri
- The Dark Hunters are some of my MUST BUYS! Since a couple of years already, they're so much fun!!! I esp. wait for Vanes story *pant, pant*...... Well, I know some people who are annoyed how the Greek Gods are treated in this series, but if you don't take things too serious these books are really great!! (NT) -- Antje, 03:16:26 06/19/04 Sat
- Forgot to say, it's now on my book list, Syl. (NT) -- beccabee, 08:42:43 06/19/04 Sat
- Sounds like a great book I will definetly put it on my MUST READ list. Thanx Syl Great post!! (NT) -- Susan W, 14:08:55 06/21/04 Mon
- Oooohhhh...just finished it last night--thanks for recommending it!! Halfway through Night Pleasures!! (NT) -- Shari, 17:21:38 06/26/04 Sat
- Read your review and went straight to Amazon to order it. Should be here in a couple of weeks, together with the "Love actually" DVD. Thanks! *g* (NT) -- Pat of the French hosers, 14:27:13 06/28/04 Mon
- Flyboys -- Syl, 17:32:27 07/16/04 Fri
This book could be viewed controversial by some. But it’s a true story, it actually happened, and serves to remind us of the horror and futility of war. I didn’t put this review up to start arguments or fierce debates, but to show what 9 brave airmen had to endure, fighting for their country. PLEASE remember this when making your comments.
The review was sent in by BGWJ. Thanks, Bev! Food for thought, I think.
TITLE: Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
AUTHOR: James Bradley
To quote General Curtis LeMay, youngest general in the Army Air Force :
"...all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good
The time is WWII. The place is the Pacific and the defeating of Japan by
the taking of Iwo Jima and its neighboring island ChiChi Jima. The capture
of Iwo Jima was necessary as a stepping stone to Tokyo. In the
process, thousands lost their lives.
Nine American flyers, called Flyboys, were shot down over ChiChi Jima. One
of the men was miraculously rescued by a US Navy submarine. The other 8
were captured by Japanese forces and held prisoner.
At war's end, both American and Japanese governments covered up what
happened on ChiChi Jima. Records were sealed, the lives of the 8 were
erased. Family/friends never knew what happened. Eight mothers went to
their graves, never knowing anything more than their sons were MIA. Only
they weren't MIA. The government knew their fates. After 60 years of sealed
records, James Bradley uncovered the mystery and why it was kept secret.
The story had its roots 150 years ago with the landing of Commodore Perry
and Japan's 1st encounter with Americans. Through the story of 8 short
lives, Bradley tells the story of 2 nations in a hell called war. He
tells how the mentality of the Japanese warrior over centuries of
isolation and classism fostered inhuman brutality. He tells how US
military strategy justified the killing of thousands.
Japanese mentality justified that the humility of defeat was worse than
death,(sound familiar?).They were like pitbulls, who once they clamped
down, refused to give up and let go. The only way the US saw to defeat
them was through superior air power, knocking out their defenses and
completely wiping out their production of war materials. Millions died
because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, because their
leadership would not give up. Death was more important than losing
Because of this belief, life on ChiChi Jima meant nothing. The Japanese
thought that once captured, they would be tortured and killed
too. Therefore, they had no sympathy for the captured flyboys. Let me
clarify that - the ordinary Japanese didn’t think that way. That was the
outlook of their high command. And because of centuries of classism, the
lowly were taught to blindly obey the upper class.
This book is not for the squeamish. What happened to the 8 will turn your
stomach. Just think of what happened recently in Iraq and imagine it
worse. It may even give you some insight into the Iraq conflict, since
they have some of the same twisted concepts.
One note of God's will (or fate depending on your beliefs) deciding the
future of an individual: The 9th flyboy saved by the American sub. was
none other than George Hubert Walker Bush, father of the present US
President George W. Bush.
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- Isn't it interesting the stories that come out years later. I STILL wonder what the heck happened to JFK! Don't know if I could read it, I am pretty squeamish, but it's interesting who the 9th flyboy was, eh? Thanks, Bev! (NT) -- Judie, 17:18:49 07/18/04 Sun
- What an interesting and tragic story. I don't know that I could read it now, I think I could have easily years ago, before I knew my husband and what he went through and what he had to do in Vietnam. What turned you on to this book? Is there someone in your family with WWII experiences? (NT) -- beccabee, 23:43:20 07/18/04 Sun
- Well, I won't read this book. I'm sorry that GHW Bush was the only one who got saved. Too bad it couldn't have been someone else. Yes, I know that this will offend some, but that's how I feel. (Boy, talk about changing history!) Since anti-Japanese sentiment was s-o-o-o-o strong, I'm really curious as to why the US government was so secretive about the fate of the 8. Surely, not to avoid "fanning the flames". I think it was shameful not to have levelled with their families about what happened to them. (NT) -- Lemora, 22:20:17 07/20/04 Tue
- They were eaten...would you have wanted to know that?Not me...Sorry how you feel about who was saved...believe it or not I protested Nam but todays world is a whole different ball of wax.In this situation,we needed a little "cowboy justice".Ever listen to Toby Keith and Willie Nelson sing Beer For My Horses? (NT) -- BGWJ, 19:31:26 07/21/04 Wed
- Actually, I suspected that this was their fate. WWII has many untold stories. Also, that the US Gov't. thought that "MIA" was a far more merciful fate to leave with their families, than telling them the truth. Personally, I'd want to know what happened. I wouldn't want to go to my grave wondering. Actually, I know of an instance in the 1980's where this happened in Central America. It isn't all that uncommon. I love Willie Nelson, but no -- I haven't heard that song. I respectfully have to disagree about today's world. History is repeating itself and we humans never seem to learn -- as DG also makes clear in her books. I am curious, now, about the Willie Nelson song. (NT) -- Lemora, 22:26:41 07/21/04 Wed
- Lemora, I have heard my husband's stories from Vietnam and you would not want to know. (NT) -- beccabee, 07:28:55 07/22/04 Thu
- I apologize if I get the words tangled up,but goes something like this : My pappy told me,Son,A man has to answer for the wicked that he's done...Justice is the one thing thats hard to find,You've got to saddle up your boys and draw a hard line...When its all over ,we'll raise up our glasses against evil forces,Whiskey for my men,Beer for my horses...there's a verse about hanging the bad guys,but I cant remember off the cuff how it goes.But you get the idea.Toby Keith won an award for it at the CM Awards last time. (NT) -- BGWJ, 22:07:23 07/22/04 Thu
- Bev, this sounds like the kind of book that would interest my son, but he's a bit young at 12 for the full horrors of war I think. He loves history in all periods, and is fascinated by WW1&2. Not my sort of book as I like escapism rather than realism in both books and movies. Thanks for sharing, and the insights too. (NT) -- Margy, 06:48:02 07/25/04 Sun
- Thanks for the review, Bev. I love history, and I often find that truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. (NT) -- GinC, 18:10:36 07/25/04 Sun
- I'm in the midst of reading this book right now. It is extremely interesting, and disturbing and sad at the same time. I have had to set it down and read something else before I can go back to it. (NT) -- Colly, 08:46:21 07/29/04 Thu
- Wow, it sounds like a very powerful story. I'm not sure I could handle the gory details. It would be very easy to get political here ( & I love you guys too much to risk offending anyone.) But..... just the review raises interesting questions about war, gov't secrecy (when is it right & when is it wrong), the amazing fact of the sole survivor (love him & his son or hate him and his son). I won't add any of my personal feelings on these subjects, but the implications of the story seem pretty staggering. (NT) -- Theresa S., 10:45:25 08/30/04 Mon
- The Dante Club -- Syl, 18:01:05 08/14/04 Sat
This one was sent in by ktzn. Well done, Kathy! Looks intriguing!
TITLE: The Dante Club
AUTHOR: Matthew Pearl
When I settled down and cracked the spine of this novel, I was more than a little surprised to find the preface to be a “Caution to the Reader,” written not by the author, but by C. Lewis Watkins, the Baker-Valerio Professor of the Civilization and Literature of Italy and Rhetorical Oration at Harvard. Professor Watkins, hired to write the preface for what he claims was a paltry sum, after a fair bit of research decided to give up any remuneration and has turned part of the subject matter of this novel into a research project. He claims that this novel presents the only possible source of information regarding an epidemic of primary screwworm blowflies, or hominivorax in the northeastern part of the United States---a place where, because of the harsh winters, they are not supposed to exist.
With this in mind, wondering if it was true or if C. Lewis Watkins was a figment of the author’s imagination meant to boost sales by creating a faux controversy, I started to read the book. I was particularly curious to see what it had to say about the hominivorax , which are blowflies/maggots that thrive on living tissue---not dead tissue, which as we all know from reading DG is something that is not supposed to happen.
Set in immediate-post Civil War Boston, 1865, the book revolves around Dante’s Divine Comedy. A murderer is roaming the city, using the horrible punishments Dante invented for his nine circles of hell as the method for dispatching his victims. Across town in Cambridge, the Dante Club, made up of all those fireside poets who put you to sleep in high school---Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes (not the legal scholar/ Supreme Court Justice---that’s “Junior”) --- meet every Wednesday night at Longfellow’s mansion, along with their publisher, J.W. Fields, and another scholar to translate The Divine Comedy into English. They are preparing the first American translation of Dante’s brilliant and brutal epic poem, which they need to finish by the end of the year to be able to submit to the Florentine Dante Committee in time to celebrate the 600th celebration of the poet’s birth.
The Boston Police are clueless about one seemingly unsolvable murder. But one policeman, Nicholas Rey, the city’s first black police officer thinks there is more to it when a man he’s questioning about the murder---a judge who had been eaten alive by the hominivorax , above whose body a white flag had been planted---starts speaking a foreign language to the patrolman and then, with a terrified expression on his face, leaps to his death. Ultimately, this man’s words lead Rey to the Dante Club and, after many missteps on both sides, a partnership is formed to find the killer, where the poets guide Rey through Dante’s world, and he gives them what limited help he can, given his race and lowly position in the Boston Police Department.
Add in that Augustus Manning of the Harvard Corporation is dead set against the publication of the translation---Dante’s work being suspiciously too Popish and immoral---and is doing everything in his power to prevent publication, and the poets ineptitude in dealing with anything outside of academia, and you have a rather good mystery that includes a good deal of literary analysis and the science of the time, the personal aftermath of the Civil War, not to mention heartfelt portraits of the Fireside Poets---Holmes, Lowell and Longfellow.
This book is a first time outing by a VERY young, yet brilliant, author. Mr. Pearl has graduated from Harvard and Yale Law School, and by my math, is only twenty-nine years old. He is also a Dante scholar. He’s got plenty of brains, but while this book is better than many mysteries that are published today, given the high standards his pricey education seems to demand, I sort of expected better.
Mr. Pearl, while presenting an interesting description of post-war Boston, was lacking on details. He seemed to assume that everyone should be familiar with Boston and its environs. I would find myself rereading certain portions of the novel, searching for the descriptions I thought I’d missed, but weren’t to be found in the first place. His prose is very nice, but also lacking in certain respects. And while I can understand the temptation to get inside Longfellow’s head, Longfellow was not the most interesting character in this book---Nicholas Rey was. The book is ripe with opportunities to flesh out Rey’s character and Pearl never took them. For all the passages that dealt with the death of Longfellow’s wife, how heartbroken he was, how his hearbreak had led him to translate The Divine Comedy, ultimately very little of it is relevant in the end, as Longfellow doesn’t really do much within the book, other than act as a guiding influence to the others---Holmes and Lowell, whose characters were fleshed out and the descriptions of which were fascinating. You knew what made those two men tick and why it was relevant to know this---but Longfellow? I’m still scratching my head over this. He’s a promising young author, and this work is definitely worth your time, but it’s not as good as it could have been.
It’s not necessary to have read The Divine Comedy, or to know anything about Dante to understand this book. You will be treated to an in-depth literary analysis of Dante’s poem, but if you haven’t read the Comedy you should understand two things. First, it’s a brutal and violent piece of literature. Dante takes no prisoners in his work and some of the punishments he invents for his rings of hell are quite creative, if not thuggish and positively vicious. Be prepared for violence, and graphic violence, at that---particularly when Dante’s punishments come to life. Second, Dante was an exiled Florentine, who wrote his masterwork during his exile and died shortly thereafter. We only know the bare essentials about Dante and his life. The rest we learn from what his poetry tells us. Mr. Pearl doesn’t seem to have any trouble with this niggling detail, though, and Longfellow and the other translator seem to have no problems extrapolating wildly from this small amount of actual fact. The literary analysis of the Dante’s work in this book, while I believe much of it to be correct, does tend to stretch the accepted truth of Dante.
As far as the “Caution to the Reader?” Well, I’ll leave that up to you. The book does present an acceptable hypothesis for these creatures to be living in a place where they shouldn’t, but… well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
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- I nearly cracked up reading "screwworm blowflies" - hahahahaha. Very nicely done, ktzn! It sounds like more cerebral than this brain could handle, but maybe not. :D If knowing nothing about Dante's Divine Comedy won't be a problem at least I'd have (hopefully) a fighting chance. I'll keep this one in mind - and thanks for a great review! :D (NT) -- Judie, 02:06:02 08/15/04 Sun
- "The poets ineptitude in dealing with anything outside of academia...." After spending my whole life with academics this gave me a hearty har har har. From your description of the deficiencies of the book, sounds like your author needs a dose of the real world, but will shape up nicely. What a wonderful, well thought out review. Thanks! (NT) -- beccabee, 07:25:00 08/15/04 Sun
- Oh, what a great review, ktzn! I've got pretty eclectic tastes in books - this sounds interesting! (NT) -- GinC, 17:12:07 08/21/04 Sat
- The Perfumed Sleeve -- Syl, 17:34:13 07/30/04 Fri
This one was sent in by Beccabee. Excellent! Thanks, Rebecca!
TITLE: The Perfumed Sleeve
AUTHOR: Laura Joh Rowland
Two years ago I pulled the provocatively named The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria off the shelf at the local bookstore. Equally entranced by the name, the lovely cover art, and how the beauty of the prose of the first paragraph caught me, I bought it, only to find that Lady Wisteria was the seventh book in a series by the American author of Chinese/Korean descent, Laura Joh Rowland, of whom I had never heard. Even without the background of the first six books I was quickly sucked into the world of 17th century Japan lavishly recreated by Rowland and after finishing Lady Wisteria I set about collecting the entire set.
I found that the lyricism of the first paragraph of the first chapter of Lady Wisteria, which drew me to the series, is typical of all the books. I felt I became an onlooker in this place, this city, this home, this garden, this palace, or this pleasure quarter of Edo of the late 1600's. The series pays a lavish and graphic attention to historical detail that transports you to the time and spares no sensitivities as the methods of the training of the Samurai, the descriptions of the brutality of the daily lives of the peasants and the under- classes, the technicalities of torture and execution practices, the sexual customs of the times and the extravagant lives of the upper classes all get equal consideration.
The series protagonist , Sano Ichiro is the son of a ronin, a Samurai without a protector, a martial arts instructor, an historian and tutor of small boys, who joins the Edo police force in 17th century Edo, or Tokyo as we know it today, to be able to become self supporting and leave his father's house.
By a quirky series of events, Sano ends up saving the Shogun from assassination in the first book of the series, Shinju. As a reward, Sano is named sosokan-sama by the Shogun; the title meaning the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations and People. In this position he is a forerunner of the modern day criminalist, solving crimes that affect the security of the regime and answerable only to the Shogun. Because Sano is a faithful follower of Bushido, The Way of the Warrior, and is incorruptible, his appointment causes much consternation and upset amongst the Shoguns' other favorites, who are all part of a bureaucracy built on corruption and who stay in power by deceit. The Shogun's most trusted advisor and longtime lover, the Honorable
Chamberlain Yanagisawa, and his mad wife are the constant evils against whom Sano and his
family battle throughout the series.
The characters are a pleasure to revisit. The Shogun is an eternal child, sulky and stupid, who can't breath unless his pants are unbuttoned. His lack of backbone and chronic switching of allegiances between his favorites sets up the perfect home for the ceaseless conspiracies the Chamberlain weaves against Sano. The lean and elegant morally bankrupt Chamberlain Yanagisawa, along with his stone ugly insane wife are presented to the reader as people with bleak pasts and endangered futures who act as they do out of necessity.
The absolute nuttiness of the Shogun's decrepit but still randy mother, hungry for encounters with young flesh of either sex and constantly hungering for Sano's wife, is a delight. Sano's wife, Reiko, eager to be an equal partner to her husband both in the home and in his profession, is able to open up to the reader the closed and forbidding worlds of both her own world of the women of the court and by working undercover, the women of the under- classes, each world as desolate as any prison. Sano's one dear friend, the elderly Dr. Ito, illustrates the brutal justice of the times, imprisoned for life for the crime of reading a foreign book, a medical text brought into the country by a Dutch trader. Dr. Ito, now the keeper of the Edo Morgue housed in the prison, helps Sano in his work by carrying out illegal post- mortems that would result in execution for both men if discovered.
The ninth book of the series, The Perfumed Sleeve (2004), is a bit of an anomaly to the series. Joh Rowland doesn't take the time for the lyricism of the earlier books, but rather presents the stark facts of a nation building towards war. Time and events are moving swiftly and there is no time for dallying or reflection or one might be swept away by circumstances. Knowing that whoever controls the silly and useless Shogun controls the country, two rivals, Chamberlain Yanasigawa and the Shogun's cousin Lord Matsudaira, are trying to best one another for control of the throne by placing a puppet of their own making in line to be the Shogun's heir. The Shogun has both a wife and a harem of concubines, but his preference for Manly Love, as practised by some Samurai, has left the country without a successor to the throne.
Yanagisawa has no blood tie to the Shogun, but has been a favored lover of the ruler since his teens. Knowing how the aged monarch prefers young blood, the Chamberlain is now pimping his oldest illegitimate son, the beautiful Yoritomo, to the Shogun. Matsudaira had tried this same way to power himself in the past by procuring his beloved son Lord Mitsuyoshi for the Shogun's pleasures. Mitsuyoshi was to be proclaimed the Shogun's heir until he was unceremoniously bumped off in The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria. Now, Matsudaira is trying again by pushing his nephew, Lord Daiemon, into the Shogun's bedchamber.
When the most powerful member of the Council of Elders is murdered Yanagisawa and Matsudaira are eager to cast the blame on each other. Each impedes Sano's investigation, although it is not at all clear that either is responsible. Perhaps it is the man's cast-off wife, fifteen year old concubine or actor lover instead? Even so, armies of both the Chamberlain and Matsudaira gather and the pall of war hangs over Edo. When the Shogun's beloved Lord Daiemon, Matsudaira's nephew, is murdered also, the sides meet and clash and Sano has to solve the crime to prevent all out warfare.
The beautiful Reiko goes undercover as a ladies' maid to help and discovers some astonishing facts about the lives of the rich and immoral and has an astonishing clash with the malevolent Lady Yanagisawa as well.
At book’s end, both the Shogun and Sano must face major upheaval in their lives.
The first eight books of the series are Shinju (1994), Bundori (1996), The Way of the Traitor
(1997), The Concubine's Tattoo (1998), The Samurai's Wife (2000), Black Lotus (2001), The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria (2002) and The Dragon King's Palace (2003). All eight are available from
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- Wow! These look good Beccabee, and an era and location that I haven't read much of. Thanks (NT) -- Marg B, 18:35:35 07/30/04 Fri
- What an awesome review, beccabee - I'm mightily impressed! I'm going to the library this afternoon and I'll be sure look for Laura Joh Rowland. Thanks! (NT) -- GinC, 09:20:59 07/31/04 Sat
- I saw The Pillow Book at the theatre years ago - THAT was a weird movie. :D Didn't know anything about the author, so this is very interesting Becca. Thanks for the review and I'll write them down! (NT) -- Judie, 09:56:41 07/31/04 Sat
- Beccabee, thanks for the review, this one looks right up my street. I have read one or two japanese based books before and always enjoyed them, I shall definitly be looking for these in the library. (NT) -- Margy, 12:56:23 08/01/04 Sun
- Sounds really interesting.I'd like to get a hold of them.I always liked Pearl buck books about China and read a couple of the newer Geisha novels.Thanks for the list. (NT) -- BGWJ, 21:30:26 08/01/04 Sun
- Ooooh!!! My toes are curling already! I love book series, and thank you so much for listing them in order. I'm going to Amazon.com right now! (NT) -- Milady M, 07:41:48 08/02/04 Mon
- I went to library today armed w/your list.only to find they dont have this book yet and all the others are farmed out all over the county in different libraries.It'll be a pip getting them all together. (NT) -- BGWJ, 20:14:55 08/02/04 Mon
- Great book revue, I will definitely be checking these out. I love books you can get sucked into. (NT) -- RobinB, 16:25:40 08/03/04 Tue
- Wow, what a gret review beccabee!!! I've written down the titles!! (NT) -- Antje, 22:55:10 08/11/04 Wed
- Traitor to Memory -- Syl, 16:49:27 05/22/04 Sat
Well, after me playing Shirley Valentine and going to Greece, then the boards go down, we finally have a new book review, thanks to Susan G/McPudel. Read on!
TITLE: Traitor to Memory
AUTHOR: Elizabeth George
Like some of us hosers, I’ve been trying to feed my Lally-addiction by following the excerpts Herself metes out. The excerpts Herself posts are sometimes a paragraph, sometimes as long as six or eight pages, but because she tries to hold back major plot twists, I’m not sure if I could even assemble them into a strict chronological sequence.
Well, imagine a whole book like that (but without Claire and Jamie spoilers!). The theme of Traitor to Memory is memory, the past, and how our memories of the past are fragile and affected by what others tell us.
The book, like so many mystery/crime novels, opens with a victim, something happening suddenly to someone we don’t know. Unlike the typical mystery, no reference is made to the character for another few hundred pages. Yes, this is a meaty long book like Gabaldon fans enjoy. And like Gabaldon’s work, it’s not a turn-the-crank member of its genre.
As the story unfolds, multiple points of view and story lines interweave. Gabriel Davies is a violinist, a former child prodigy. His father Richard has devoted his life to his son’s music career. One night, Gabriel goes on stage and finds he cannot play – he can’t make himself play a note on his priceless Stradivarius.
A therapist enlisted to “cure” him starts him on the process of keeping a journal and thinking about his childhood. Meanwhile, the body of a woman has been found, killed by a car. The investigating officers recognize her name and her involvement in a sensational case from twenty years ago. The police officers also have their own histories and interactions.
Elizabeth George skillfully interweaves the story lines and time lines. The effect left me a little dizzy at points but so does putting together memories of the past.
This is the first Elizabeth George book I have read. Although the story is “about” the violinist and his family, the most well rounded characters and relationships are among the police force, and it looks as if their continuing story has been told in previous books. I look forward to enjoying them in the future.
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- Syl, great review! Especiallly how you summed it up w/o giving anything away.I love EG's books, they're all very well written, and the continuing characters have developed into very interesting people. She has a new book in the series, I forgot it's name, it's just out in hardback. I think her writing is beautiful. (NT) -- Brookita, 22:34:26 05/22/04 Sat
- Thanks so much for the review! I have never been an Elizabeth George fan, too plodding, but this one looks worth giving her another try. (NT) -- beccabee, 11:19:18 05/23/04 Sun
- Sounds very interesting!!!! Thanks, Susan. (NT) -- Judie, 21:36:58 05/24/04 Mon
- Thanks for this review and recommendation. I think I've only read one book by her in my life, and that was years ago. Thanks for bringing her back to my mind! :-) (NT) -- Antje, 22:13:05 05/24/04 Mon
- I found out about these books on the Reading Rec. board last summer and plowed thru all of them as fast as possible. I was pleasantly surprised to find that PBS stations here in the US are broadcasting BBC productions of some of Elizabeth George's books. To read about the ones that are already filmed you can go HERE. And to find broadcast days/times on your local PBS stations, go HERE Hope the linkies work! (NT) -- MaryC in KY, 11:03:29 05/25/04 Tue
- I just found the newest, A Place of Hiding, at the Goodwill! After scanning through it, it appears it centers more on Deborah and St. James than Lynley and Barbara.Either way, I'm so happy I get to enjoy this book now, I wait for her books with anticipation (not as much as DG's of course). (NT) -- Brookita, 11:37:36 06/02/04 Wed
- I'm definitely adding this to my TBR list - thanks! (NT) -- GinC, 08:16:25 06/04/04 Fri
- This sounds great, I must look out for it. Its on my to read list, which is getting out of hand now. Must make time for some reading one of these days. (NT) -- Gwen, 04:55:32 06/19/04 Sat
- Broken Music -- Syl, 17:16:12 04/09/04 Fri
Here's the latest from BGWJ. Thanks, lass!
TITLE: Broken Music
AUTHOR: Gordon Sumner (Sting)
GENRE: a Memoir
This book is a memoir written by Gordon Sumner, otherwise known as
Sting. Anyone who is a fan of him or the group Police, or simply a music
student starting out, will enjoy it. The book covers his early years in Newcastle and
what prompted him to take up music, and through his early years as a part of
the group Police. He didn’t become a performer overnight, however. It took a lot of
hard work. In fact the title came from something his grandmother said to
him about learning to play something nice instead of all that "broken
Sting came from a dysfunctional family situation. Music was his
escape, his life. Everything else was only a reason to exist to play more
music. He turns a good phrase and the writing has a melodic flow to
it. Occasionally, he turns a phrase that shows his education. He is really
an intelligent person, and believe it or not, was a school teacher.
He draws his lyric subject matter from his life experiences. It was a
surprise how he came up with the lyrics for Roxanne, one of my favorite
songs. I thought it referred to his mother or a girl friend. Not so. Read the
book to find out where/why he wrote it.
The book is a good read, easy to follow and one you hate to put down. It
will be interesting to see if he does a follow up book.
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- Year of Wonders -- Syl, 17:08:44 03/26/04 Fri
TITLE: Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague
AUTHOR: Geraldine Brooks
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Fiction
A small volume in comparison to DG's work, but very moving and powerful.
The year is 1666, and bubonic plague has come to a small mining village in
rural England. We see its effects through the eyes of young widow Anna
Anna's husband Sam had died earlier in a mining accident, leaving her with
two small sons. To support her family, Anna becomes housekeeper to the new
minister, Michael Mompellion, and his wife Elinor. Mompellion had married
above his station, but despite her quiet, educated way, Elinor and Anna become
The peace and quiet of the village is broken in the spring of 1666, when
plague comes to the village. In an effort to contain the disease, the
minister exhorts the community to quarantine themselves voluntarily, letting
no one in or out of the village until the disease runs its course.
We see the plague take a heavy toll on the tiny village. Hysterical
villagers accuse the local herbalists of witchcraft, leaving Anna and Elinor
to nurse the stricken without benefit of the wisewomen's knowledge.
Reverend Mompellion has vowed that 'no one will die alone,' and he is a
constant visitor, holding hands, praying, and writing wills for the dying.
The plague continues, and villagers react in a multitude of ways. Some
become religious zealots, scourging themselves in penance for the sins of
the village. Others seek personal profit from the grief of others. Reports
of ghosts and ghostly charms abound.
Based on a true story, Year of Wonders paints a vivid picture of courage and
endurance. This is Geraldine Brooks' first novel; after reading this, I'm
looking forward to her next.
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- Oops! Forgot to say ............ this was sent in by Jamie's Mom! Thanks ever so, JM, a very interesting one and one of my fave periods of history. (NT) -- Syl, 17:10:57 03/26/04 Fri
- This book sounds really interesting. I'm putting it on my "books to get" list. (NT) -- Aislinn, 20:09:51 03/26/04 Fri
- I've heard of this book, it came highly recoommended. Must go check it out. (NT) -- Brookita, 23:06:45 03/26/04 Fri
- I read this book last year and I think mentioned it on the reading recommendation board. It's a lovely book which I really enjoyed reading, I'm usually like buying big thick books(value for money ya ken*G*),but this is a small book that packs a punch. I'm looking forward to her next book. (NT) -- Nic, 05:21:08 03/27/04 Sat
- I actually knew a young girl who died of the plague. It's a little known fact that a few people contract it in the U.S. (almost always in the southwest) each year. It's scary to think it's still out there, although, if diagnosed early enough, treatable with antibiotics. Sounds like a good read! (NT) -- Rosamond, 05:44:30 03/27/04 Sat
- This one does sound really good to me. I may just have to put this on my TBR list. Thanks, Jamie's Mom! (NT) -- Reilly, 06:51:00 03/27/04 Sat
- Oh, thank you, Jamie's Mom. This sounds exactly like something I would really enjoy. I'm going to the library later and will see if they have it. (NT) -- GinC, 07:19:44 03/27/04 Sat
- Thank you, Jamie's Mom. I've added it to my (ever-growing!) list. (NT) -- Milady M, 06:54:40 03/28/04 Sun
- This looks like a really interesting book Jamies Mum, my to be read list is growing and growing! In fact I might change its name to the Sassanach Musings list. (NT) -- Margy, 11:04:55 03/29/04 Mon
- Thank you Jamie's Mom! I will check that one out! (NT) -- Antje, 22:59:29 04/08/04 Thu
- Sassenach Musings -- Syl, 17:49:53 03/12/04 Fri
Thought I'd put one in myself, for a change! *G*
TITLE: Midnight Bayou
AUTHOR: Nora Roberts
Declan Fitzgerald, a wealthy Boston lawyer, is obsessed by dilapidated Manet Hall, near New Orleans. So much so, he buys it with the view to renovating it room by room to its former splendour. Newly escaped from a loveless engagement on the eve of his wedding, he can plough all his energies into the work. Declan hears the local legends; tales of a tragedy that took place in the house at the beginning of the 20th century. He shrugs them off, working hard on the renovations, until he hears a baby crying and a non – existent clock chiming. He begins to think he’s ill; maybe a brain tumour, or madness is overtaking him. The he wonders if there’s truth in the old stories.
December 31st, 1899, and Abigail Manet awaits her husband’s return. She was once a servant in the great house, until Lucian Manet fell in love and married her, much to his mother’s dismay. She nurses her infant daughter, Marie Rose, then Lucian’s drunken twin brother barges in fuming with jealousy and rage. In his wild temper, he rapes and strangles his brother’s wife, then disposes of her body in the bayou with his mother’s help. Lucian returns home and is encouraged to believe his beautiful wife has run off with another man.
Over the years, the past life and present life of the house intertwine, through the restless spirits who are still there, and the people who open and close its doors in modern times. Declan meets Angelina Simone, who runs a bar in New Orleans and feels drawn to her and is determined to make her his, even if she doesn’t know it yet. But Angelina has been hurt too many times and is reluctant to start a relationship. Little does she know how determined Declan can be.
Declan gradually discovers the full history of Manet Hall and with Lena’s help, he can attempt to bring the house back to it’s former glory and right a terrible wrong done in the past.
I like Nora Roberts’ writing. A lot of people denigrate her books, saying they are cheap romance and the same old formula every time. Not so. A hundred and fifty million books sold since 1981 proves Roberts writes a damn good story! Her books are not just straight romances. In many, there is another aspect; like mystery, suspense, horror. In fact, often, the romance is secondary to the base story.
So, don’t be ashamed to admit to reading a Nora Roberts. Every book she’s written is a page turner full of romance, intrigue, mystery. Her writing draws you into the story and characters, until you become part of the whole thing. She must be doing something right to still be writing bestsellers.
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- I agree about Nora Roberts. I read the trilogy about the Irish siblings (Tears of the Moon, Heart of the Sea and Jewels of the Sun) and I thought they were very nice, easy stories. Very different from her other works, like Three Fates or River's End. (NT) -- Rollaine, 18:28:43 03/12/04 Fri
- I agree, she is an exceptionally good writer. I could also sum her up in one word - ROARKE! :D Ok, so that's under her pen name but what the heck - she certainly deserves that credit. But Roarke or no Roarke, she is one of the better writers out there. JMHO. (NT) -- Judie, 02:21:04 03/13/04 Sat
- OK, so I've never read anything by Nora Roberts. Any recommendations on what I should read first? (Midnight Bayous sounds intriguing.) (NT) -- MairiS, 08:33:51 03/13/04 Sat
- Yep, Nora Roberts is unquestionably very talented. I read Midnight Bayou a while back when it first came out, and it was good. Naturally, I've enjoyed some of her books more than others, but I can't say that I've actually disliked any of the ones I've read. (NT) -- GinC, 14:41:22 03/13/04 Sat
- I tried Nora Roberts. I read her Chesapeake Bay trilogy (Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbour) and my reaction was, "what's the fuss?" Mildly diverting but nothing that made me want to read more. I also began the first J.D. Robb novel cause I'd read so many good reviews by fans but couldn't get through it. Her writing seemed predictable and had an "assembly line" feel to me. That was especially true of the Chesapeake Bay novels. I love a good romance novel, but I don't get her huge appeal, at least not based on what I've read. (NT) -- Rosamond, 14:49:09 03/13/04 Sat
- Hi Syl :-) Thanks for bringing this board to my attention again, I admit I forgot about it, so many boards.... okay, as you know I was JUST reading this books this week, but in German. The German translation plainly sucks, but that's old news about German translations... I loved the spooky feel in this book, I'm a sucker for spooky and ghosts ;-) For me Nora is always a "feel good" read, I know she seldom disappoints me and gives me plenty of light and enjoyable and heartstring-tugging reads. I also have the feeling her research is well done. What I like maybe most about her not-In-Deaths, is the male banter, the dialogs! In Midnight Bayou I found the hero extremely well done, although the heroine was a bit pale IMHO, other than that, a perfect Nora again! (NT) -- Antje, 23:14:17 03/13/04 Sat
- Funny, I really LIKED the Chesapeake Bay trilogy. Written more from a man's POV, as the main characters are, and nicely done. The follow up (Seth's story Chesapeake Blue) was good too, but a bit predictable.) Her trilogys are very readable; I especially like the Irish ones and her most recent "Key" trilogy. One of the best things about Nora Roberts is that she's a prolific writer; you don't have to wait 2-3 years for the next book. She's no DG, but it fills in the time while waiting for Jamie!! (NT) -- DianaH, 19:52:49 03/14/04 Sun
- I liked her MacGregor Saga. Hers was the first historical Romance novel I ever read too. Long Long ago, she used to right for Harlequin & wrote a book called Rebellion, with a girl named Serena MacGragor as the heroine. I still have my much worn copy around here somewhere. lol This was set during...you guessed it, the Jacobite Rising of 45!!!! Really good read, if you can find a copy. (NT) -- Serena, 02:34:17 03/15/04 Mon
- Maybe I'll try her books. There is another writer who also writes a very good story May Mcgoldrick it's really a husband and wife team. like Nora the nooky is secondary. (NT) -- JuJu, 17:45:26 03/16/04 Tue
- Syl, this sounds like a great synopsis of the book-I'll keep my eye out for it. Might be one Marcie would like as it's set in New Orleans. (NT) -- Keira, 06:46:46 03/25/04 Thu
- Dragonriders of Pern -- Syl, 17:09:29 02/27/04 Fri
Here's this week's review, sent in by Serena. Thanks, Serena!
This review is quite long, but it needs to be, imho. The series is massive, and Serena has also included a very handy key, to help keep track of the books. Read on .......
TITLE: Dragonriders of Pern Series
AUTHOR: Anne McCaffrey
First, a bit of a warning. Please, do not be scared by the number of books this prolific writer has generated in the last 36 years on the subject of Dragonriders. The books themselves aren't very long, and are well written and totally engrossing. There is even a book much like 'The Outlandish Companion' out there to help keep names and maps straight, story lines and books as well, called "The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern". But that isn't totally required reading. If you are looking for a jumping off place, then read the original trilogy only. Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon will suffice, if this is your first foray into Pern.
The base story of the Dragonriders has been added to by Ms. McCaffrey in the form of not only "main" novels, but also short stories included in compilation novels of her work and with those of other writers as well. To a true fan's delight though, those, now 4, short stories have been compiled into one book for ease of acquisition. As a true fan I would recommend that you not skip those short stories, or the collection of "Teen Novels" called the Harper Hall trilogy as they give details about some favored characters in the main Thread of the books.
Another point that has to be made, Ms. McCaffrey published the books somewhat out of a logical reading order, and no one but her seems to totally understand where and why they all fully fit together. The list of titles I am giving below is the official recommended reading order of Ms.McCaffrey, though in the front of each book you purchase you will find a list of most of the titles, in a slightly different order I am sure. The reasons for this is publishing order differs from timeline, and publishing rights are held by different companies by 3 of the books, and they don't mention short stories. I am sure you will find the orders given in the books you buy to be just as easy to read, and the story just as entertaining, but I chose to give Ms. McCaffrey's reading list here, because well...she did write them, she ought to know how they should be read!
I thought about, and even tried to write out, an overview of each book in the series but that proved to be too long, too complicated, and not nearly engrossing enough to really give an accurate view of this series. As I said before the books aren't long in themselves, but they are well written, and you definitely get to know this strange planet called Pern as you go back and forth through its history of dealing with the menace of Thread. This is another set of books that doesn't fit easily into one genre, as you can clearly see as you read the books. The dragons are fantasy material, as is the "present" Pern tale, but before the Pernese lost much of their history the tales are great science fiction. It is a detailed & well loved blending of two genre's that I think you will like. Now for an extremely brief overveiw…
Pern, a planet in the Sagittarian Sektor, which orbits the sun/star Rukbat is a pastoral planet that is in terrible trouble. It is menaced buy a space born organism that will become known as "Thread" by the people who colonize the planet. They came to Pern to escape Earth involvement in terribly devastating wars. They came only to be menaced by Thread, an organism that mindlessly devours all life it touches, including that of beast, fauna, and human. After devising an ingenious way to combat the menace both in the air and on the ground, history takes its toll on the original settlers, and their heroic deeds are lost to time, and necessity- driving vital knowledge out of the mind of their descendants, until the time when Thread returns to Pern in its cycle of destruction through Rukbat's solar system. Loss of technologies their ancestors would have thought common has proved to be nearly fatal to the little planet at the beginning of another Fall of Thread. F'lar and Lessa, riders of a Bronze dragon (Mnementh) and a golden queen dragon (Ramoth), must try to protect a Pern that has come to disbelieve the 'myth' of Thread, and resent the leeching of a useless dragon Wyer. F'lar and Lessa must make all of Pern believe their danger, and help the Dragonrider's once again fight away Thread in its skies. With the help of a machine of the ancient's; a Masterharper who could have doubled as a great spy on Earth; a young man who becomes a dragonrider against all odds, including that of his Dragon being a white 'runt'; and fantastic flights into the unknown, the Dragonriders of Pern will sear all traces of Thread from Pernese skies, now and forever, as they learn all that the ancient's once knew.
The reading order below includes all the short stories that Ms. McCaffrey has included in various books as well as the main books I have outlined above. This is HER suggested format for reading this series. While some of the tales are stand-alone, some of them are quite dependant upon a time-line only the author clearly understands, and while the line listed in the books can be helpful, you wont find all these with those lists alone! This is not chronological order though. This is an order given to first show the evolution of the tale, the evolution of the author's own grasp of her material, and for best ease of reading to understand events taking place. A key is given below as well:
The White Dragon*#(she suggests reading only the first 2 chapters at this time)
(Now you should finish The White Dragon, if you haven't already)
The Smallest Dragonboy****
Moreta: Dragonlady Of Pern
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall
The Girl Who Heard Dragons****
The Renegades Of Pern
The Masterharper Of Pern
Runner Of Pern****
All the Weyrs Of Pern*
The Dolphins Of Pern
The Skies Of Pern*
Ever the Twain******
*=These are the bare bones of the series. If you read none of the others these books should be read in their given order, to understand the main story line.
*#=These original three books of the Dragonriders of Pern are now available in a Trilogy edition book. You can get 3 books in one if you would like to give the Dragons & their rider's a good chance at capturing your mind & heart.
**=These books are the three that make up what is known as The Harper Hall Trilogy. Currently they are being labeled by the publisher as Teen Novels, but don't skip them as they really are an entertaining companion set of books, that will please all ages of fans.
****=These are short stories originally published in compilation books, which can be, at times, hard to track down, and they are now available for fans in one book of short stories entitled "A Gift Of Dragons". If you want to read them all I suggest purchasing just the one book. If you happen to have the compilation books though, or want to track those down...the names are:
The Smallest Dragonboy appeared in 'Get Off The Unicorn'
The Girl Who Heard Dragons appears in the compilation book of the same title.
The Runner of Pern appears in Legends 2:Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy
******=These are two short stories that for some reason, are not included in Ms. McCaffrey's reading schedule. I surmise that this is because they do not have characteristics that pin them into a certain time frame, and can be enjoyed anytime during the series. There IS a general consensus at to when they should be read in the series & I have detailed that as well. They are easily attainable though, in these books:
Ever The Twain appears in A Gift of Dragons (the short story book that I previously mentioned, and is the latest story in the series.) Should be read after reading Dragon's Eye
The Impression appears in The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern by Anne McCaffrey & Jodi Lyn Nye. Should be read during Dragon Drums.
**********=Dragonseye is known as Red Star Rising outside of America
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- Wow! What a thorough review! I remember reading the 1st three mentioned, years and years ago. I had no idea Anne McCaffrey had continued the series! I remember being drawn right into the story. Thanks, Syl! (NT) -- JulieQ, 18:51:53 02/27/04 Fri
- Serena, this really looks like my kind of series, thanks for the excellent review. I have copied the list onto my Books I want list. (NT) -- Margy, 08:48:59 02/28/04 Sat
- I have read some of the books and they are wonderful. I'm going to print out your list of the book order. (NT) -- ann791, 12:42:30 02/28/04 Sat
- I've been reading these books since they were first published and was always eager to see whatever the next book was. I heartily endorse them. (NT) -- pamurphy, 20:12:34 02/28/04 Sat
- Wow, these sound my type of books but you are quite right that the amount of books to read is daunting. However, once my college work is finished I shall certainly give them a try. Thanks for an excellent review Serena (NT) -- Gwen, 01:29:00 02/29/04 Sun
- I LOVE LOVE LOVE these books. Can ye tell? lol I have almost all of them in my collection & I have to replace them almost as fast as I have to replace the Gabaldon books. Don't let the key scare ye...the books aren't really very long, its just that she's been at this series for nearly 40 years! lol (NT) -- Serena, 13:03:02 03/08/04 Mon
- Yes!!!! Yes!!!! Yes!!!!!!!! Anne McCaffery is truly a wonderful writer and all her books are soo well worth reading. I've got all of them, and I keep replacing them as they fall apart from all the re-reads I've done. Serena, did you know that a group of musicians got together and released a CD of Master Harper's music? All sanctioned by Anne herself, and it's been getting good reviews. I meant to order it myself but you've just reminded me about it with this post. Anne also has an official web-site but I just can't seem to fit in as easily as I do at Lallybroch so I go there for info and leave it at that. Read this series guys-you will love F'Lar and F'Nor and Lessa etc....very well developed characters!!!! (NT) -- Keira, 06:54:22 03/25/04 Thu
- As a teacher, I love to use these books w/ HS kids that don't particularly like reading. Dragonsong dovetails superbly with the movie Whale Rider....and even the boys don't mind that a girl is the central character in both. (NT) -- Lady Jane, 08:32:43 03/27/04 Sat
- The Touch -- Syl, 06:23:26 02/14/04 Sat
Here's this week's review, sent in by Bandruidh. Thanks, lass!
TITLE: The Touch
AUTHOR: Colleen McCullough (well known for her novel “The Thorn Birds” copyright 1977)
GENRE: Historical Drama
Spanning the time period between 1872 through 1900 Ms. McCullough once again amazes with her unerring ability to draw the reader into the lives of her characters and the heartbreak they endure because of paths taken due to greed, lust, or lack of choice.
Alexander Kinross, or “Alexander the Great”, as he fancies himself, left his native Scotland as a shiftless teenager and Godless rebel. He now is a self-made millionaire who has the “Midas Touch” when it comes to discovering and mining gold. What he wants next is a Scottish bride from the town of his birth. Someone to lavish his riches on and show those who thought him worthless as a boy what he has made of himself.
Arriving in Sydney, Australia from Scotland, 16 year-old Elizabeth Drummond meets for the first time her husband-to-be only to discover that he frightens and repels her. Having no choices and unable to return home, she marries Alexander and is whisked away to the town of Kinross, named after himself. Waiting for her there she finds a mansion and riches beyond her imagination in the wild countryside of Australia. Isolated on a lonely hilltop with only Chinese servants, Elizabeth finds herself falling deeper and deeper into a prison of loneliness and fear as Alexander expects her to submit to the duties of marriage and projecting the image of high-born wealth that society demands. Little does she realize that Alexander also keeps a mistress in the town - tough, sensual, out spoken Ruby Costevan, who loves Alexander, but knows she can only hold his heart, not his life. Ruby’s young son, Lee, fathered by the leader of the Mandarin Chinese community, becomes dear to Alexander, who fosters a close relationship with him and assists in his education. Knowing the prejudices he may endure due to his status as a child born of mixed race and a mother whose previous occupation was as madam of a brothel, Alexander sends Lee far away from Kinross to England for his education.
Alexander always gets what he wants and is captured by the very different natures of the two women in his life. But he can never understand why Ruby loves him when she can never have him and Elizabeth has him, but professes she will never love him. Elizabeth bears him two daughters. Nell, brilliant and so like her father, but unable to carry on his name, follows in his footsteps breaking down walls that had prevented women to learn that which only men were allowed to do. And haunting, beautiful Anna, who presents her father with a torment for which he cannot buy his way out. Desiring a son, Alexander turns to Ruby’s son as a possible heir to his empire, one that grows enormous with each passing day. Little does he know the disastrous consequences of his actions to future events.
Alexander, Elizabeth and Ruby are intermingled with a rich cast of characters that will take the reader into a greater depth of understanding, horror, and sadness culminating in a stunning and shocking climax. The story alternates passion, tragedy, and pathos that compel the reader to wonder with each passing page whether anyone will have peace in their lives. In the beginning you may find a very honest dislike to some of the main characters, but as the story unfolds you find yourself feeling entirely different as you come to understand their vulnerabilities, trials, and anguished choices.
In summary, I like this book very much. Even Ms. McCullough description of the workings of steam powered engines needed for mining gold are written to enhance the story, not bog it down with boring or unintelligible details. Once I had let go of the thought that this is not “The Thorn Birds”, I found a story that kept me wanting to know more. And any book that takes me away into a different time and place so completely is one I wish others to know about.
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- The Black Knave -- Syl, 16:59:40 01/31/04 Sat
The latest review from Anja G. Sounds like a good one! Thanks, Anja!
TITLES IN SERIES: The Black Knave, The Heart Queen, The Diamond King
AUTHOR: Patricia Potter
GENRE: Historical fiction, based on fact
These books are a pretty good read. They deal with the after-math of Culloden--it's kinda like the "filler" that we don't get to hear about while Jamie is hiding in the cave and Claire has gone back to the future.
The Black Knave tells the story of an unlikely hero who becomes a legend in his own time. The legend he creates carries on throughout The Heart Queen and a bit of The Diamond King.
The sex scenes are "OK". Potter seemed to follow a pattern; two kissing scenes, a sex scene, rebuff, another sex scene, and finally the culmination of the relationship. The accents are a little flaky, too. She does, however, make a distinction between the Highlands accent and the Lowlands accent; perhaps that is why they seem unnatural to me.
The reading is not quite so "dense" as the Outlander Series; Potter does not go into some of the historical detail that Gabaldon does, but she does a fair job of describing people, fashions, and housing. There is discussion of English-loyal Scots clans, and their perception by Jacobite Scots; therefore many discussions of loyalty to one party or another, with examples and explanations of political intrigue.
I did really like the books, though. There were several times when I didn't want to put the book I was reading down, because I was getting to an exciting part. Sometimes it was easy to guess what was going to happen, other times she threw a twist into the story, just to make things interesting.
If I were to grade these books, I would give them a "B". I liked the fact that Potter wrote books about a difficult time period, without making either the Jacobites or the Loyalists seem like monsters. She portrayed Lord Cumberland accurately, as well as other real historical figures of the time.
If you want an easy read (I read all three books in about 5 days) I would recommend the Black Knave Series.
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- Thanks, Anja. Great review. (NT) -- Judie, 14:33:58 02/01/04 Sun
- Sounds like my kind of thing, Anja. Thanks! I'll check them out next time I'm at the library. (NT) -- Kylie McA, 18:50:48 02/01/04 Sun
- Thanks, Anja, I have not read these books but they do sound like 'my cup of tea' *G* so as soon as I finish the Master and Commander series I will check them out! (NT) -- Samantha, 18:38:01 02/05/04 Thu
- These books are definitely Outlander Lite, but they're all good reads. They go fast, keep your interest, and you find yourself caring about the characters. I enjoyed this series and read more of her backlist because of them Thanks for the review. (NT) -- Valerie L., 21:11:39 02/05/04 Thu
- Thanks Anja, I am struggling to find time to read at the moment but I'm noting all these down and when my college work is over I'll be having a reading fest. Cant wait. (NT) -- Gwen, 09:29:18 02/06/04 Fri
- Cronicles -- Syl, 13:27:46 11/14/03 Fri
TITLE: The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever
AUTHOR: Stephen Donaldson
These are actually two series of books, each has three books, the 1st book in the 1st series is Lord Foul's Bane, followed by The Illearth War and lastly The Power That Preserves.
The story begins by getting the reader acquainted with Thomas Covenant, a lonely man who had been a successful author and family man until he contracted Leprosy, at which point his life fell to pieces. Craving human company he takes a rare trip to town to pay his 'phone bill, and is knocked down by a police car, and finds himself in an alternate world, known as The Land.
In this world he is hailed as a Hero, a rescuer, come to free the peoples from the growing threat of Lord Bane, an ancient evil called the Despiser. He wears a ring of White Gold, his wedding ring, but in this land White Gold is not possible, and is thus thought to be a great magic. He has a resemblance to The Land’s founder, Berek Half Hand and is so regarded as The Land’s saviour. His leprosy is healed, and he finds himself on a journey to Revelstone, where the rulers of the land meet to deliver the warning and messages, which Lord Bane has given him.
This is a book of many journeys, both adventurous and internal. Covenant makes many wrong turns, and commits some terrible deeds whilst coming to terms with his new health and status. He is helped on his way by some loyal friends, and some who are not his friend at all, but who believe in his cause, which he himself has trouble coming to terms with (hence 'the Unbeliever').
To say too much more would be to give too much away, but there are other things I can tell you. The land is peopled with ordinary people, Giants, cave-wrights and elves and a wondrous race of intelligent horses. Having said that, this is not Lord of the Rings, it is very different (and not suitable for children.)
The 1st series is written as 3 separate books over a span of sometime, whilst the second chronicles are all one story split into three books, and take place at a later time in The Land. I found these books inspiring and absorbing, a colleague of mine who has also read them thought they were depressing, so I guess like all books, its a matter of taste.
One last thing, I have had to buy these through 2nd hand bookshops and e-bay to get the sets, they no longer appear to be available at Ottakars or WH Smith. They are available at the library though.
Note from Syl : Try amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. for these books. You may not manage to get them new, but they are available used.
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- The Shadowy Horses -- Syl, 17:16:26 01/02/04 Fri
Well, here we are back again after all the festivities. Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and Happy New Year!This one was sent in by Aislinn - thanks, lass!
TITLE: The Shadowy Horses
AUTHOR: Susanna Kearsley
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
Impulse has brought Verity Grey to remote Eyemouth, Scotland from her home in England. Verity's friend and ex-lover Adrian Sutton-Clarke has tempted her with an archaeological mystery. What it is, exactly, he won't tell her until she gets to Eyemouth. By then, the impetuous museum worker is intrigued enough to stay.
At the estate known as Rosehill, Verity meets her boss, Peter Quinnell. People say Peter is quite mad, but the eccentric old man believes he has found the site of the lost Ninth Legion of Rome. With the help of a young boy with second sight, Peter intends to unearth the remains of the Roman camp. Verity's job would be cataloguing and drawing the artifacts that are found – however, she isn't convinced of the site's authenticity.
While at Rosehill, Verity also meets David Fortune, an archaeologist working with Quinnell. What starts out as a working relationship builds into a romantic attraction as the two find themselves embroiled in a mystery that dates back to ancient Rome. Gothic romance isn't dead, it's just been sleeping. The Shadowy Horses has a gothic feel reminiscent of Mary Stewart. Ghosts and legends abound in this tale set in the rugged Scottish countryside.
I love paranormal elements so this book was my cup of tea. I love an author that can make me suspend belief and accept things slightly off kilter. The author does a marvelous job with characterization - the people in the story are not pigeonholed into stereotypes but seemed wonderfully real. It was so refreshing to have a mystery suspense without the mass murder psycho. To me this is story telling at its finest. The author has been compared to Mary Stewart and Barbara Michael and I can see why. Not surprisingly, she is a Cookson Fiction Prize winner.
The book is very descriptive, drawing you into the small Scottish town on the coast, with a wealth of vivid characters that you feel you know by the end of the book. You can hear the wind howling, feel the rain on your skin, the writing is just so good.
The romance between Verity and David doesn't happen overnight, but as the book progresses, so does their feelings for each other.
This was my introduction to Susanna Kearsley. What a pleasant surprise I was not expecting the storyline to be so engrossing. I love the Romance in it as well as the Ghost, but hey …….. I enjoy all books that have anyone with the gift of "sight". The book did start a little slow but it definitely picked up and was very suspenseful and through her writing you could easily visualize the whole "gothic" feel of the book. The characters are real and vibrant in this book. I must say after now reading three of Ms. Kearsley's books that I do enjoy (for the most part ) her play with the other characters in the book.
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- oohh, this sounds like a good one to me! I used to love the books by Mary Stewart, so I think this one would be right up my alley too. Thanks for the review, Aislinn - I have put it on my "To Read" list. (NT) -- Bandruidh, 19:15:24 01/02/04 Fri
- Thanks, Aislinn! I'll look for this book; it sounds like a verra good read. I've loved Mary Stewart since I was 13 or so, when my mom put The Moonspinners in my hands. (NT) -- SueW, 19:50:36 01/02/04 Fri
- Oh goody! I really must apologize for the dry report but I'm so not a writer and I copied a lot of this from the amazon.com report. But this is actually one of my very favourite books and I drag it out at least once a year. I really like this author quite a bit as well but this is definitely my favourite of her books. (NT) -- Aislinn, 21:24:36 01/02/04 Fri
- I LOVED Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy -- especially 'The Crystal Cave'. Kearsley sounds right up my alley. Is this book purlished in the US? Or readily available here? (NT) -- Lemora - thanks!, 16:06:45 01/03/04 Sat
- Lemora, I had a look at amazon uk and it's available there, with a different cover, if that's any help. (NT) -- Syl, 10:05:23 01/04/04 Sun
- I enjoyed your review Ainslinn - you are too a writer! I'm now off to the library to see if they have it on their shelves! (NT) -- SueP, 15:36:48 01/04/04 Sun
- Just finishing this up this weekend. Thanks! (NT) -- DonnaF, 07:56:39 01/11/04 Sun
- Thanks Aislinn!!! I read this book last week and really enjoyed it. Sexy Highlander, good ghost story, and great characters. (NT) -- Cherie, 13:26:42 02/03/04 Tue
- Divine Secrets .............. -- Syl, 11:25:35 01/16/04 Fri
Here's the latest one! Thanks to Page for the review!
TITLE: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
AUTHOR: Rebecca Wells
From the day Genevieve St. Clair Whitman christened the group of friends “Ya-Ya Gumbo”, Caro, Teensy, Necie and Vivi were inseparable. They shared everything together; children, heartache, death, sorrow and life. Oh, yes, above all, the Ya-Ya Sisterhood shared life. “It’s life, Siddalee,” Vivi told her oldest daughter. “You just get up on the beast and ride!”
Rebecca Wells takes us on a wild southern, Cajun-flavored, bourbon-soaked ride as she tells us the stories of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood through their own eyes and with their own voices. From the girls being disqualified from the Shirley Temple look-a-like contest and attending the premiere of Gone with the Wind to the heartbreaking loss of true love and the alcoholic nightmare that followed and affected so many lives, the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’s story is gripping and real and is one that grabs you up and keeps you turning the pages.
The book begins as Vivi’s oldest daughter, Siddalee, struggles to come to grips with her past and her indecisiveness about her future with Connor, her fiancé. One horrific incident in the past still gives Sidda nightmares and makes her doubt her own capacity for love. When Vivi sends Sidda a scrapbook entitled “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” Sidda gets tantalizing glimpses of what was, and a surprise visit by the Ya-Yas themselves helps Sidda understand her volatile mother. We readers are luckier than Sidda, though, as we get the full story of Vivi’s past, her cold, distant father with a belt in his hand, her tortured, jealous mother with no love for her child, the one person who could have saved Vivi from a life of hell, and, of course, her deep friendship with the Ya-Yas.
Divine Secrets is, in actuality, the second book of a series that began with the book “Little Altars Everywhere.” Take my advice, though, and read Divine Secrets first. Divine Secrets is much better written, and the characters are much more defined and interesting. Divine Secrets lets you understand what motivates the characters, while Little Altars just makes you hate them. The movie made from both books is truly abysmal since the only way to effectively tell this story on the screen would be in a 12-hour film. If you’ve seen the movie, erase it from your mind, and read the book. There’s too much left out of the movie for it to make sense or be interesting.
Rebecca Wells has captured the rhythm of life in Central Louisiana, or Cenla as the natives know it, and she conveys it very well in her book. You can almost taste the crawfish etoufee and the chickory coffee, and smell the freshly tilled dirt in the cotton fields.
Take a vacation to Cajun country and experience life with the Ya-Yas!
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- This is one of my all time favorite books. Anyone else see Rebecca Wells when she was on Rosie? The movie did a fairly good job of sticking to story (if you dinna' mind an elephant turning into an airplane), but the book is the best!! As a result of the YaYa book being passed around our school a few years ago, we have had "girls night out" where we purposely hang out w/ our girlfriends...something we didn't used to do much outside of school. A definite MUST READ! (NT) -- Lady Jane, 19:21:05 01/16/04 Fri
- This was a movie I wanted to see, but,with three kidlings, I only ever get to see Disney or Pixar's latest offerings (lol). However, I much prefer to read so, based on this marvellous review, I will endeavour to snatch up a copy at the library when I am there next. Thanks! (NT) -- Kylie McA, 21:03:30 01/16/04 Fri
- Don't know when I'll get time to read it, but it sounds great. Thanks, Page. (NT) -- Judie, 02:20:56 01/25/04 Sun
- The Outsider -- Syl, 16:09:10 11/29/03 Sat
Here's the latest review - a historical western sent in by Marcie. Thanks, Marcie!
TITLE: The Outsider
AUTHOR: Penelope Williamson
GENRE: Historical romance - Western
Set in the 1880's in Montana, Rachel Yoder, a young widow, is trying to keep her sheep ranch going with the help of her young son Benjo. Rachel's husband was murdered by greedy cattle ranchers. She is a member of the religious community of the Plain People, who are non - violent and have a strong faith.
Her life is turned upside down by the appearance on her farm of a near fatally wounded gunman named Johnny Cain. She nurses him back to health and hires him to stay on through the summer sheep season. She struggles with her son Benjo's grief for his father, her family and her church's negative reactions to the outsider, added to Cain's fight against what she sees as the will of God and eventually her own attraction to Cain.
This book has so many wonderful secondary story lines that are explored, and Cain’s life is one of them. He’s a gunfighter of great renown, and other tough guys are always trying to best him to further their reputations. So Cain discovers he has to kill or be killed. He is, at the same time, considered an evil murderer – a man beyond redemption – by Rachel’s religious friends.
At it's core this book is the struggle of two people from very different backgrounds who want to find a way to be together. Rachel’s goodness is a great contrast to Cain’s wickedness but the book also has several well written subplots and wonderful secondary characters that make this well worth the read.
It was a book that was hard to put down and had several unexpected plot twists....especially the ending. If you're looking for a book that makes you smile and brings tears to your eyes this one will fit the bill. I don't usually read westerns at all. Just not my style, but the lady at the UBS had put it aside for me when it came in, so I read it. It’s a nice change of setting for me.
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- BUDDHA DA -- Judie, 01:52:45 11/13/03 Thu
Isn't anyone else reading this book? I'm quite enjoying it. :D
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- Katherine by Anya Seton -- Syl, 05:25:52 10/10/03 Fri
AUTHOR: Anya Seton
GENRE: Historical fiction, based on fact
This book was written in 1954. While one day visiting with Shadow she gave it to me to read, she thought I would like it. I didn’t like it….I loved it!
Katherine is a fictional account of the true story of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster and his mistress Katherine Swynford. It takes place in the many castles, palaces and estates in medieval 1300’s England. Katherine, orphaned by her parents, leaves the convent where she was raised to see her sister who is employed by the queen and this move pretty much decides her future. Katherine; beautiful, smart and a bit ahead of her time, does much better than expected. It is here in London she falls in love, marries and has children - not necessarily in that order.
It covers Katherine’s lifetime intermmediately from about the age of 16 to her death. As in many historical fiction novels, “Katherine” takes a certain freedom with the characters and dialog, but stays very true to the facts that are known of this couple. The story from a historical aspect is fascinating, when you consider this couple were responsible for the future British royal lineage; going from the Plantaganets to the Tudors, Stuarts, and onwards. If you are a fan of medieval literature or just like to read about English royalty and how wacked they are, you will enjoy this book. If you are a fan of Geoffrey Chauncer you will find a bit of him in the storyline also.
I was so captured by this story, I immediately went on a internet search to find all the information on Katherine I could. Much is written about John of Gaunt’s place in history, but like most women of that time, not nearly as much about Katherine. During my search I collected sites and pictures and created a web site to store them and for others to have a “one stop shopping” for this truly fascinating couple.
In my search I also came across a Katherine discussion forum.
This site hosts many scholars that have devoted hours upon hours to researching this small fascinating bit of history. In hopes of not losing contact with these kind Katherine fans I started a yahoo group. It’s here that a gentleman that moderates the group with me posts his beautiful pictures of Katherine and John of Gaunt sites. He even put flowers on her tomb in all of our names the last anniversary of her death.
So you can tell by reading all of this what an effect this book had on me. Shadow, that one day a couple of years ago, had no idea what seed she had planted. I know I haven’t given much information regarding plot and characters but I wouldn’t want to ruin one page of this wonderful book for you.
Forwarned it is a hard to find book. It was recommended reading in many high schools during its day. I’ve bought all my copies off of Ebay for a very reasonable price. It’s one of those books you read and have to have in hardcover.
NOTE FROM SYL: It's true, this book can be hard to find, but having said that, if you go to amazon or ebay, there are copies available. Also look in your local UBS. The wallpaper is the latest cover, which makes me think the book has either been reissued or it's a reprint. Just a thought!
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- Thanks, Michelle! (NT) -- Syl, 05:27:11 10/10/03 Fri
- KATHERINE LINK IS HERE (NT) -- M&M, 06:52:11 10/10/03 Fri
- I read this book years ago and loved, and re-read it recently at M&M's urging. *G* Still loved it! And as far as how much a book can affect your life.......well, where have we heard that before? :-) Great review Michelle! (NT) -- Maria, 10:07:11 10/10/03 Fri
- I found an old hardcover copy of "Katherine" at a used book sale at the school where I worked. Got it for a dollar and loved it. Nice review M&M! (NT) -- Rachel, 12:15:44 10/10/03 Fri
- I discovered Anya Seton while I was in high school. I reread my first copy of Katherine so many times that it finally disintigrated. My other favorite titles by her are Green Darkness and The Winthrop Woman. GD is set in the 1960s and about reincarnated star-crossed lovers from the middle ages (complete with ghosts and everything!), and TWW is another 'fictionalized true history' about a woman who was born in England and came to America with the early colonists. (NT) -- Shadow, 14:34:26 10/10/03 Fri
- This book sounds right up my alley! Love the website! Thanks, Syl! (NT) -- Lemora, 20:22:11 10/10/03 Fri
- I first read Katherine when I was 12 and have read it numerous times since. It was always my favorite book and shaped my taste in books ever after. I never found one I liked as much until I picked up Outlander, not expecting much. Thank you for this wonderful post. (NT) -- Allaine (who has been mostly lurking for the past 2 yrs due to writing her own historical), 22:42:27 10/11/03 Sat
- I just recently read a book about this time and John of Gaunt was one of the main characters. Katherine showed up as well. And when I mentioned that I need to read more about her, Michelle kindly offered to bring me one of her collected books to Surrey. What a doll she is!!! (NT) -- Andrea-germany, 09:10:07 10/12/03 Sun
- I borrowed this book from the library when I was living in Wales, because of the title (although I am a Kathryn). I loved it too, a wonderful book with wonderful characters. (NT) -- astrokath, 22:29:45 10/12/03 Sun
- Ok, for us history morons ..... if I get this book from the library, say, am I going to be able to follow the damn thing? :D How's the story outside of the historical detail? I swear I had to skip a bunch of stuff in DIA cause it just meant nothing to me and bores me to zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. :D HELP! :D (NT) -- Judie, 23:04:18 10/12/03 Sun
- This book has been voted in the Big Read Top 100 Favourite books. Those of you in the UK will know what I'm on about. (NT) -- Lady Penelope B, 14:14:04 10/13/03 Mon
- This book has been voted in the Big Read Top 100 Favourite books. Those of you in the UK will know what I'm on about. (NT) -- Lady Penelope B, 14:14:47 10/13/03 Mon
- I read this book many years ago and loved it. I used to work in bookshop where an elderly lady used to keep coming in to see if the book was was back in print as she had lost her copy. She came in often and always asked about this book. When I eventually got the opportunily to read it myself I grabbed the chance. I saw a pile of them in Waterstones in Chester a few weeks ago and was delighted to see it available again (NT) -- albion, 12:56:53 10/15/03 Wed
- This sounds wonderful! I'm putting it on my TBR list. Thanks! (NT) -- BrownEyedGirl, 12:25:07 10/17/03 Fri
- I had just finished The Sunne in Splendor when I saw this review and since I had been reading in that neck of the woods (give or take a few hundred years) I thought I would check it out. Well, I was lucky enough to find a 1st edition copy on Ebay for $10.50 and I should receive it in the next few days. I can't wait to get it and share my thoughts once I've read it. (NT) -- Krisabaliz, 22:59:21 10/17/03 Fri
- Buddha Da -- Syl, 11:09:55 11/01/03 Sat
TITLE: Buddha Da
AUTHOR: Anne Donovan
Anne Donovan's debut novel is an honest, funny and occasionally painful portrayal of what happens to a happy family when one of its number turns to Buddhism looking for answers to life's questions.
Jimmy McKenna is a Glaswegian painter and decorator who takes up Buddhist meditation. His ensuing search for spiritual enlightenment has far-reaching effects on those around him, and causes cracks to appear in what was a stable and happy family life. As Jimmy becomes more involved with his newfound spiritual life, his wife Liz begins to question the strength and validity of their marriage.
I picked it up expecting a fairly light read, and was pleased to find that it is so much more. It's written in dialect, but please don't let that put you off - you'll be missing such a treat. It only takes a few pages to get your head around the accent, and it helps so much in hearing the voices of each character (for example, Jimmy's accent seems much broader than that of his wife, Liz - except for when she's getting upset), and as hosers yis'll get used tae hearin' a Scots accent wi'in nae time. :o) Suffice to say that Ms Donovan does Glaswegian dialect much better than I can! Although there's some slang, none of it is difficult to work out - it's all used within context. The language and style makes the book that much more immediate and involving I couldn't put it down, and it's been a while since a book has had that effect on me.
The characters are well rounded, and realistic. No good guy/bad guy syndrome, and it would be really easy to go down that road with this story. The book is in the first person, and each chapter is told from the point of view of a different family member, so we get to see what everyone thinks of what's happening to their family, and it's helpful to look into their different motivations. It helps you understand and forgive them for some of their actions. Donovan has a talent for pulling your sympathies around to whoever happens to be speaking at the time.
Buddha Da alternately had me laughing and crying, empathising and shocked. It explores the nitty gritty of living with the same person for year after year, and the shock when they do something so out of character that it suddenly seems a stranger has taken their place. It had wondering about the nature of my own relationships: not just with my partner, but my family relationships too.
Well, I'm making it sound maybe a bit more heavy and soulful than I should. Although Buddha Da addresses serious issues, it remains an upbeat story, and is a worthwhile read.
Definitely a keeper, and I'll be recommending it to anyone who'll listen. :o)
There is a more in depth review ***with spoilers*** at the Guardian's website.
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- Acid Row -- Syl, 08:49:50 10/24/03 Fri
TITLE: Acid Row
AUTHOR: Minette Walters
Acid Row is the local nickname for the Bassingdale Estate. It’s a place where single mothers, fatherless children, frightened elders, aggressive youngsters and the poor live. A place where the architects and planners had everything in mind but safety and security; either for the people who live there or for the people who represent the law - the police. Be it from ignorance or be it from malice, Acid Row will shortly become a fortress when the heat goes up. Two streets, Humbert Street and Basset Road are the main focus of attention in this book.
The trouble starts when a frustrated health worker tells a young mother of 19, Melanie, that the authorities have put a pedophile in her midst, and that Melanie should take keep a special eye on her 4 year old Rosie.
Melanie thinks that it is ridiculous to put a pedophile right where loads of children live. She and her mother Gaynor plan a protest march to let the authorities know that they will not tolerate a pedophile living beside them.
Word spreads around fast, especially when 10 year old Amy from neighbouring Portisfield Estate only 20 miles away, goes missing. The residents take it upon themselves to flush the pedophile out and punish him.
Dr. Sophie Morrison, from the Nightingale Health Centre, is called out to an emergency at 23, Humbert Street, where two men live. Franek and Milosz Zelowski are father and son, who the estate residents believe to be pedophiles.
While Dr. Morrison is inside No. 23 Humbert St. helping Franek with his asthma attack, the protest march right outside led by Gaynor and Melanie gets out of control. Youngsters have blocked the 4 entrances of Humbert Street and Basset Road, the police can’t get in, no-one can get out. On the outside – i.e. police – it looks like this was very organized. All contact is cut off. Outside of the house the violence escalates and mob rule takes over.
While the mob tries to gain control, there is a search going on for 10-year-old Amy. Has she been kidnapped? Has she been sexually assaulted? How is her father involved? Is there a connection to the uproar in Acid Row?
Minette Walters’ writing style is somewhat different. You have to get accustomed to the police info sheets which show up every once in a while and tell you about the situation after everything is over.
She shows you the situation from every possible angle. Inside No. 23 Humbert St., outside the house, Police Head Quarters, Nightingale Health Center.
You feel like you are in the middle of the chaos and the search for Amy. You are side by side with every single character which she wonderfully created. Even the evil ones, which make you shudder. But also with the “heroes” of the story, which make you feel proud, that they were able to perform as they did under this pressure.
I strongly can recommend Minette Walters Acid Row to people who like good crime and well developed characters. She’s also been called the Queen of Crime in Great Britain. That should tell you something.
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- wasn't sure whether to post my reply here or to you - so I've emailed it to you! (NT) -- Jacqui, 01:12:40 10/26/03 Sun
- Thanks for the email, Jacqui. Yep, anything you want to say about the book featured, you can in the replies here. All comments are welcome! (NT) -- Syl, 08:01:51 10/26/03 Sun
- Ahem ... *cough* ... I ... err, just wanted to say that book, Acid Row, impressed me so much that when Syl asked for reviews I wrote this one *g*. Syl has been a darling and corrected my wrong grammar. Thanks for that Syl :-)! (NT) -- Andrea-Germany, 10:06:36 10/29/03 Wed
- A couples of weeks/months ago (I get so timeless these days *g*) in the news somewhere (was it in the UK?) people were talking about to anounce the names of phedophilesand their addresses. This ended by harassments of the wrong people and much disgusting defamation. I dont know whether this book was written because of that or if it was a coincidence that this happened after the book was released. But when I read the book this came back to my mind. Just a little tidbit :-D (NT) -- Andrea-Germany, 10:20:51 10/29/03 Wed
- The Empire Trilogy -- Syl, 05:25:02 10/17/03 Fri
TITLE: The EMPIRE Trilogy (Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire and Mistress of the Empire).
AUTHOR: Co-written by Janny Wurts and Raymond E Feist.
This trilogy follows Mara, a young girl of a wealthy and prestigious house in the land of Tsurannuani. (a mythical world on the other side of the rift from the Raymond E Feist 'Magician' series.)
Mara is about to become a temple acolyte when her family’s garrison force commander brings news that her father, brother and almost the entire army are dead, making her heir to the house. Thrust into the role of ruling lady, this story tells of Mara's struggle to survive deadly cultural politics and even more deadly enemies and re-build her house from ashes to one of the most powerful in the Empire.
Our heroine Mara is resourceful and strong, a quick thinker and very smart. Her personal growth throughout the story from 17 year old acolyte, to eventually becoming the most powerful woman in the Empire is inspiring. IMHO her personal strengths are:
1/ the ability to learn from others, both truths and innovative concepts foreign to her culture and ...
2/ the gumption to act on them.
Culture plays a big part in this story. Ways of doing things, cultural perspectives and honor-bound traditions govern every part of Tsurani life. It reminds me a lot of ancient Japanese/ crossed with ancient Roman.
In the second book of the series there is a love interest which, if I didnt know better, was JAMIE himself!! Red hair, taller than everyone else, warrior, and good at everything, and annoying as hell because of it. Great Mmmmphing scenes. *g*
By the end of the third book all loose ends are tied up nicely. However, it does leave you mourning the end of a fantastic story. I have been known to go back to the first book, because it really sucks you in so deep you don’t ever want it to end.
Donna Austin AKA dmaustin
Thanks, Donna!- Syl
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- The Dungeon by Lynne Reid Banks -- Syl, 10:53:24 09/26/03 Fri
Here's a new review from Serena. Thanks, Serena!
The Dungeon by Lynne Reid Banks
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
This is definitely an older child's book, and according to the grade levels on every book at my children's school, it is at least 5 grade, 8th month reading level book. Definitely not something to read to the littlings...but something your Jr. High schooler would enjoy if they are interested in Scotland, China, or history in general. It is written by the same woman who wrote the Indian in the Cupboard series of books. The book is loaded with historical references, and factual interpretations of situations of the time period, such as the tradition of binding women's feet in China. But it isn't so overloaded with these bits that it drags the story down.
This book is set a LONG time ago, when the silk road to China was first opening up & long before European men & women made that journey on a regular basis and the two cultures were still suffering culture shock from one another.
There are 3 main characters in the story:
MacLennan-a Scottish laird with a hard heart & terrible past...
Fin-his young stable-boy...
Peony-a Chinese girl whom MacLennan buys for his personal slave.
The book opens on a scene where MacLennan, bent on revenge for an unknown wrong that MacInnes, a rival laird, caused him, is directing the building of a fortified castle and dungeon. Shortly thereafter MacLennan leaves the building of the structure in the hands of well paid servants and heads off to bury his sorrows in adventure in a place he has only heard of...Chi-na.
There he becomes acquainted with the culture, the people, and the armies of the Chinese and Mongols. He is a hard man, bent on revenge, and when he comes across the girl Peony, he buys her as his personal slave. She is treated badly by MacLennan, but he is a young soul so she forgives him his many wrongs. They adventure together about the Chinese country until MacLennan decides that time is right to return to Scotland, and the book follows that journey as well. Once back in his new castle MacLennan's revenge plan is put into action with disastrous results, but not before Peony & Fin become the best of friends.
This book has a tragic ending, and the moral of the tale for young readers is to NEVER let revenge become your sole motivator in life. You never know what exactly revenge will twist your soul into. But it also shows some Chinese philosophies, such as the belief in reincarnation and how old or young a soul is determining the ability of the person in ownership of that soul to proceed past the difficulties in life. It highlights the differences in looks between the young people, Fin & Peony, and how those really don't matter in the scheme of their friendship.
On the whole, an enlightening read for children of a certain age group who can clearly see the effects of differences between people after 9-11. And in my opinion, a definite guide to how they might better look upon our nation’s differences as a boon instead of a worthy reason for making war.
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