Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Keturah and Lord Death
by Martine Leavitt
Fantasy, Fairy Tale
216 pages
published: 2006
For: Book Club
Source: Purchased
6 of 5 stars


Keturah is the young and beautiful story teller of a medieval village who gets lost in the woods and dies...or nearly dies. When Lord Death comes to collect her, she finds out he is a handsome and interesting man. Keturah bargains for her life. She tells death a story about how she longs for true love, and she does not finish the end. Death grants her another day to live and a chance to find love. If she can, he will let her go indefinitely. Keturah has a lot to do in one day... 


I told you a while ago that I wanted a book to gush about...and I got my wish! Are you ready for gushing?

It looks like opinions on this are all over the board. I've read several negative reviews, and while I can concede their points, this book spoke to me. In fact, I will be rereading it soon because I was in such a hurry to get to the end that I know I didn't absorb as much as I wanted to. 

Why I loved this book? 

I loved it because it put me right into the story. There was very little set up, only a short prologue, and then I was right in the action. It caught me slightly off guard, ripped the ground I thought I would have out from under me, and I was sucked in.

I loved Keturah. I loved her effortless love and selflessness concerning her village and people. There was no wavering in her mind concerning Lord Death's offers. Even when faced with dire consequences, she worried much about her friends and their happiness. She was intelligent and resourceful. And she was not without flaws. She stubbornly stuck to an idea, a hoped-for outcome, which she knew was not correct. She very nearly managed, through stubbornness alone, to love someone she didn't love. In all other ways perceptive, in this one area she was painfully obtuse. I loved her self-realization and her courage to follow through. She tirelessly fought for those she loved, even when it demanded that she beg and use her one leverage against someone, though I believe it was anathema to her. I even loved how Keturah got caught up in everyday things when she should have been worried about her tasks. I can so easily see myself doing that. In our defense, big things are made up of those little things, and sometimes a problem feels too much to handle without breaking it down to the mundane like baking a pie or caring for a friend.. I exulted in Keturah's joy in the world she was allowed to see another day.

I loved the setting, the village, and the secondary characters. I loved her Grandmother who modeled real romantic love with her husband. I loved Keturah's friends, who were distinct people with loving hearts. I loved Soor Lilly with her knowledge and weakness for her sons.

I loved that it felt and read like a fairy tale. I thought for sure it was to be a retelling of Arabian Nights, but other than the beginning, it was not so. I felt like it was another tale that I should have known.

I loved Death. Can you believe that? He was strong and seemingly unyielding. He was not without compassion, but had it so schooled it was a tool. Yet he was not without weakness - curiosity being one of them. At one point he lost his control. I sympathized most with Lord Death. I ached for him.

I loved the ending. I knew how I wanted it to end, though the wanting wasn't without pain. But I worried that neither Keturah, nor the author, would have the courage to follow through. I worried that it would all tie up too nicely and that I would, in spite of myself, like it anyway. I worried in vain! Courage characterized the ending for me. Bittersweet and perfect, a sigh of satisfaction and a ache of sadness.

This book made me laugh and cry at the same time. It contained beautiful thoughts and little seeds of truth. I will be reading it again for those.

Keturah and Lord Death is one of my new Book Crushes and I'm thrilled that I had to buy a hardcover edition. (Apparently, paperbacks are out of print??) While I realize my love affair might be a very personal thing, I highly recommend this one.

I forgot to add one thing! I forgot probably because I dismissed it. The prologue should have been removed entirely. It is unnecessary, but worse, doesn't make logical sense. Goodbye prologue! No one shall miss you.

There was no significant violence, language, or sex, though the themes and scenes (including death, plague, and childbirth) are for a slightly more mature audience.

Monday, May 24, 2010

PPB: Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson - Illus. by Jane Chapman

I told you I was going to make it a feature. And now I have. Ta da! And I'm really excited about my button. That is my baby girl and I took that picture and I actually helped my husband make the button. (Okay, for the record, I always tell him what I have in mind, so I basically design them, but he does all the magic with the clicking and outlining and whatnot. He gets lots of input. I want to be like him when I grow up.) Anyway, it makes me happy. I love her toes.

Bear Snores On
by Karma Wilson
Illus. by Jane Chapman
Picture Book
published: 2002


In the middle of a fierce winter storm, a gang of little creatures gather for a party in the den of huge hibernating bear. Everything is going great until that proverbial pepper fleck...


This really is a perfect picture book. The story is adorable, with a fearsome surprise and a sweet ending. It is told in perfectly rhymed and metered poetry. It flows off your tongue in jumps and tickles. And the author manages, in the short stanzas, to give each character a voice and a personality. A joy to read out loud. And the illustrations are so cute I want to keep all those creatures and use Bear as a pillow.The expressions on their faces are priceless.

I own this one in it's original picture book size and in a board book form so the littler Littles can have fun with it too. And this author/illustrator team have paired up for several more books about Bear and his friends that are all lovely as well. Perhaps I'll feature a sequel some time in the future.

How about a tiny taste? I thought so!
An itty-bitty mouse,
pitter-pat, tip-toe,
creep-crawls in the cave
from the fluff-cold snow.

Listful Mondays: Reading Hazards

 Reading Hazards

We all know how dangerous our favorite hobby/time waster can be. (I am talking about reading, of course, Bloggies.) Let's put together a list of those hazards that have befallen us because of it.

  1. Cold Hands. For some reason my hands turn to ice as I read and I soon require blankets.
  2. Hand Cramps. Especially if I'm reading a hardback or tightly bound book that requires effort to hold it up or hold it open.
  3. Time Warp. It's 2:00 am? How did that happen? I've only been reading for a few minutes...
  4. Hearing Incapacitation. "Mom! I've asked you 5 times if we can have lunch yet!" "...Huh? I'm sorry. I didn't hear you!"
  5. Kitchen Disasters. Including, but not limited to, water overflowing the sink (my mom was furious) and burnt food.
  6. Big Purse Syndrome. (Though for the record, I hate the word purse and refer to mine as My Life. And it's a little backpack.) It has to be big enough to carry at least one novel.
  7. Literary Crying/Laughing. Yes, we will suddenly burst into tears or fits of laughter while reading. No, we are too involved to be embarrassed.
  8. P.A.B.D. Post Amazing Book Depression. Check out this by 25 Hour Books for more information. This requires a whole post unto itself, since I missed weekly geeks last week.
  9. T.B.R. Pile Stress. My brother was recently baffled by this phenomenon. He strove to clarify that none of the reading stress was from school or anything else that could conceivably require me to read anything. I don't think I defended myself well.
  10. Loss of Sleep. Refer back to Time Warp. Also when you can't fall asleep after such an exciting part of the story, or when you dream all blinkin' night about the book.
  11. Sequel Anticipation. Ya know, when you're just gonna die waiting.
  12. Loss of Money. It's a problem. That innocent stack of books at Borders totals really fast. And Amazon....ah Amazon...you suck me in with your free shipping and I forget I just spent $86 on books.
  13. Fictional Character Confusion. That's the confusion that exists when a pretend person becomes so important to you that you forget they are pretend.
  14. Eye Strain. Particularly evident when trying to read when it is really too dark.
  15. Dialect Transference. When you put down that period book or that regional story and find yourself talking that way for at least an hour afterward.
  16. Mispronunciations. Those big words you only encountered while reading and said wrong in your head for years, then got laughed at when you used it out loud. (reverberated, chasm, rapport...) Or the confusion engendered when you discuss the book with someone and you can't figure out which character they are talking about because you've been saying it wrong the whole time.
  17. Dirty House. Who has time to clean?
What hazards have you encountered??

{Next week: A Collection. Perhaps the titles in your crockpot cooking corner, or all the Newberry's you own, or the rhyming picture books. I'll be going with my pride and joy - my Pumpkin Book Collection. Especially since you all have heard enough about my fairy tales.}

Friday, May 21, 2010

Black Hole Reviews 5/21

Here is this weeks edition of Black Hole Reviews. Some are from new to me blogs! I'm itching something fierce to read all of them - and they are all very different. *Rubbing hands together in mad excitment* If you have tastes anything like mine, I encourage you to check our these "sucky" reviews.


Hop, Skip, and Comment - and Welcome!

It has been a few weeks, so I thought I would do a little hopping today. Check out Crazy-for-Books to get in on the fun. Welcome new visitors! I am off to actually get the comments in my head onto the blogs that I am visiting today. Cross your fingers that the baby sleeps for a few more minutes! :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review; Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary by Lynn Curlee

Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary
by Lynn Curlee
Picture Book, Mythology
published: 2008
For: Once Upon a Time Challenge
3 of 5 stars


A guide or encyclopedia for the mythological creatures from ancient Greek mythology. Each spread has one page of illustration and one fairy length block of text. There are descriptions of the creatures and a story (or the story) in which that creature is involved.


I was struggling to fulfill the mythology category in my Once Upon a Time Challenge, having already checked 2 different books out of the library and not reading them. I discovered that while I was interested in Norse myths, that interest wasn't enough to keep me awake in the evenings while I tried to understand the cosmos according to Vikings. So while back in the myth section at the library I seized upon this picture book. Surely I could handle a picture book!

It also gave me the opportunity to show pictures of these creatures to my kids. Why? Well, they have been exposed to many of them through Fablehaven, Disney's Hercules, The Lightning Thief, and even the Narnia movie. I thought they would appreciate a better visual and little a history.

They did. At least the older ones did. The younger ones would start to squirm as we read through each wordy page. I had not realized it would contain some of the myths. I thought it would be more, "Here's this creature, ain't it ugly!" But the book actually contained quite of few details. It was fun interesting to read it out loud.

Here's my warning - it contains some of the mythology. Yes. I've said that uber times already. I'll now remind you that those myths are full of murder, man-eating things, adultery, jealousy, and married siblings. I don't normally blink at an eye at this, Greek mythology is what is it. But I saw it all from a different perspective while reading it cold out loud. Gack.

Thank heavens I can read quickly. We got through most of it with very few questions. The three-headed and half-man creatures detracted from the husband protecting his lover and the wife contracting out murder. Definitely for those older kids.

The pictures were simplistic and functional. They gave a clear depiction of each creature in all its weirdness. Not perhaps my favorite style, but "educational" nonetheless.

Review: Fablenhaven: The Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven: The Rise of the Evening Star
by Brandon Mull
YA Fantasy
456 pages
published: 2007
#2 in the Fablehaven series
For: Fun! (And I also get to post this in my Support Your Local Authors Challenge  by Suey and finally feel qualified to grab the button. :)
5 of 5 stars


At the end of the school year, Kendra and her brother, Seth, find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures. Grandpa Sorenson, the caretaker, invites three specialists- a potion master, a magical relics collector, and a mystical creature trapper- to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. The Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world. Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble? Can they overcome paralyzing fear? - from Goodreads


I loved these books. This is my second time reading this, and this time it was out loud to my two oldest kids who begged each night for more of the story. They would literally hang on the edge of the their seats or hover around the book as if they could hear it faster by getting closer. There was also much jumping in excitement, pleasure, and terror.

Let me tell you some of things I love about this series, speaking in generalities as best I can:
  • Other than the first book, which started out a bit slow for me (setting up an' all), these books are nearly non-stop action. When there a short lull in the adventure, intrigue and mystery and stuff fill up that space. No slow parts, no skipping, no dragging. Awesome right up to the next awesome. They are perfect read-alouds because nothing is ever boring.
  • Fabulous fleshed out secondary characters, and fabulous "creatures" fully equipped with their own ideas and personalities and history and culture.
  • Great dialogue, witty and fun. Especially between Kendra and Seth.
  • Great sibling relationship portrayal. They are polar opposites and often can't stand each other, and yet love each other too deeply to articulate. They understand each other and barb each other like nobody's business. (See back to dialogue comment.)
  • The logical world the inhabit. Yes, you might snicker at my referring to this made up world as logical, but...in terms of internal logic and well-that-makes-sense-ness, these book rock. The explanations of magic and rules and such are short and well...logical. 
  • There are consequences to your action in this world! Real consequences. Not just "you're grounded" or "now I need to be rescued," but consequences related to the magical logic mentioned, and trust, and all that good stuff.
  • Weaknesses and faults in characters are weaknesses and faults, and sometimes also strengths.
  • Great opportunities to discus things with your kids. (Like that consequence thing, and that weakness thing, and that logic thing, and lots more.) We have frequent in depth discussions about what we are reading.
  • Character development. These characters experience a lot. They grow and change and learn. But. They don't learn too fast. The don't get "fixed" right away. They take steps just like real people do.
In The Rise of the Evening Star specifically,  some of the things I loved and just couldn't wait to read to the kids where: Hugo and his new self, sneaking into a funeral home that may or may not have zombies, potions, brownies, the dungeon, the cursed grove, Warren, the traitor, the leader, the temple and that dang demon cat, the pod, the glutton...

Oh. my. so. much. that's. awesome.

I highly recommend this book to, well, everyone, but especially those boy readers who want lots of adventure. Sure there is a main character that is a girl, but push them past that. They will like her. And there is also Seth. Just wait till you meet Seth. When you're not fantasizing about slapping him, you're loving on him.

source: home library

Monday, May 17, 2010

Listful Mondays: Books I Have Lost

Books I Have Lost

I doubt I remember every book I no longer have in my possession, but I remember some that I have loaned, lost, or destroyed. I think about them with longing...
  1. Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (This was the 1965 edition that went with the set that my older brother gave. One of my little brothers borrowed it and LOST it. I have recently acquired a replacement copy.)
  2. Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (This was a copy I bought for myself, and you all know my history with that book... The same little brother borrowed it and ruined it. He was officially on my list now. I was able to replace this one soon after.)
  3. The Apprentice by Deborah Talmadge-Bickmore (This I loaned to a friend. I could not find another copy until I met my future husband. But that is another story.)
  4. House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (I loaned this one too, and have yet to replace it!)
  5. Whirligig by Paul Fleischman (I might have loaned this one to the same person I loaned the last one to, but I'm not sure so I haven't found my pitchfork. I haven't replaced this one yet either. But, incidentally, it is fabulous. I'll have to review it.)
  6. My Pilates flip-chart stand-up exercise book (Where is that?? I didn't loan it out. It's just gone.)
  7. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan (For the record, this was in BAD shape. It was nearly broken in half. So when Baby went to knock water onto it and I grabbed and pulled in desperation...well it split fully into pieces. I was in the middle of reading it.)
  8. Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey (This one is just worn out. I was my older sister's and water damaged when I acquired it. I have since read it so many times that it is a sad, crumpled thing. We bought a new for the bookshelf, but I can't seem to throw that old copy away. So I guess it isn't technically lost...)
Are there any lost books that rankle your soul??

{Next week: Reading Hazards}

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I've Been Interviewed!

Hey Bloggies! My friend Stacy over at A Novel Source interviewed Jadyn and I today. Please go check out her beautiful blog and leave her some love!

And because this post would be too short otherwise, let's have some book + picture fun. I really want the first one. :P

Jadyn's Review: Josefina Story Collection by Valerie Tripp

Josefina Story Collection:
     Meet Josefina
     Josefina Learns a Lesson
     Josefina's Surprise
     Happy Birthda Josefina!
     Josefina Saves the Day
     Changes for Josefina
by Valerie Tripp
illustrated by Jean-Paul Tibbles
historical fiction
387 pages
published: 2001
Source: home library
6 of 5 stars

  • It is about a young girl, Josefina, that lived in1824.
  •  Josefina learns that you can hope and dream but things never happen in the exact manner you may want.
  • She also learns sometimes you might feel the world should end because of sorrow and sadness but the world will never end in such a way. (This from the first book when she loses someone she loves.)
  • All her sisters and her work together to solve their mishaps.
My thoughts 
  • I like the mishaps and the way they were solved.
  • I sort of enjoyed the whining, complaining, and stubbornness of Josefina and her sisters.
  • I like this book because of excitement, drama, and more.
  • I think this book is neat because it feeles like you're in the story.
  • I like to reread it because sometimes it can be like a comfort and can help me through a situation if I go to the right book, in the right chapter, that has the right situation that can help me see the solution to my problem.
  • I also enjoyed the way it ended with happiness and love.

Realizations Inspired by a Bad Book

I have discovered:

About myself -
          If there is a book I'm supposed to read, and I don't want to read it, I will find any means to put off reading it. But out of guilt I will not read anything else either. Reading screeches to an unhappy, guilty stop.

About Jadyn -
          She can push through a section in a book that nearly killed me by with violent eye rolling, and quickly catch up to my book mark. She is perseverance in a bottle! I really expected her to "set it aside" and absolve me of having to finish the dang thang.

About my Mom -
          When I try to explain glaring, laughable plot holes to her, she will defend those holes, come up with wild scenarios to make them accurate, and then pull out of her butt the caliber of a handgun required to kill a bear in a single shot. ?!? Mom, what have you been doing since I moved out?

About my Friend -
          She will listen to my endless ranting and surround me with sympathy. Thank you Dear. You are an island of sanity for me.

About my Brother -
          He will immediately jump to the same conclusion as I did, and even use the same vocabulary as I did in my head. That I'm going to be blacklisted. Rock on.

About Everyone who had the Misfortune to Listen to
Me in the Last Few Days -
          That honesty is the best policy. This I know. I never had any intention of being less than honest (though perhaps had hoped to escape) but it does my heart good to hear that everyone values honesty so much.

Have you had any realizations lately?

Black Hole Reviews: Sucked in by YOUR Reviews

I thought it would be fun to put up a weekly (or whatever) list of the books that I read about - on all of the wonderful book blogs I know - that most sucked me in. These are the books that I immediately added to my Goodreads list so I wouldn't forget their names. These are the books that I've been thinking about this last week and wondering when I'd be able to get my hands on them.

(And thanx to my husband for another mind-blowing button whipped up on the fly!)

Check out these books and awesome reviews by some awesome reviewers!

Friday, May 14, 2010

PPB: Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

Falling for Rapunzel
by Leah Wilcox
illustrated by Lydia Monks
Picture Book, Fairy Tale
published: 2003
5 of 5 stars


What if Rapunzel really didn't need saving? What if her cries where only hair woes? What if the Rapunzel was so high up she couldn't quite hear what the prince was asking?


This is one of my favorite picture books. (I need to make a list of those. Hmmm. Listful Monday idea, huh?) It is told in spot on rhyming couplets. It is illustrated in an adorable, expressive style with cut photos thrown in for foliage. Oh yeah. And it is funny. Giggle-fest funny. Your Littles will love it. You will love it. You will love reading it over and over - and we all know that is exactly what you will have to do. There is even a plot twist at the end that you probably won't see coming.

Do I go too far? NOT AT ALL. It is a perfect picture book. Ha! That's gotta be my new feature series. Perfect Picture Books. Huzzah.

Anyhoo. This one is awesome.

Have a couplet (from my memory no less...though I did check for punctuation accuracy):

          By now the prince was feeling hammered,
          not to mention less enamored.

Your welcome. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

 Dragons of Autumn Twilight
by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
448 pages
published: 1984
6 of 5 stars


A motley group of friends meet up at a reunion after years of going their separate ways and find themselves entangled with a pair of none-too-friendly strangers who possess a token from the now-forbidden ancient gods. Rather they like it or not, the strangers find themselves under the protective wing of the friends as they all run for their lives.

The friends fall into their problematic old roles, the strangers bring new insights into the old religion, and soon the gods themselves are involved in the epic journeyings of these friends.



This is the first 'real' book I read. It was provided by my older brother and according to my parents, wasn't appropriate the the elementary student I was. I loved it. I don't just mean, I loved it. I mean it became part of my identity. It cemented Fantasy into my psyche. I have reread them all more than once. (Though not in the past few years.) Let me try to tell you why this first one is so great.
  • A fully described and involving world with it's own history, geography, religion, races, moons and constellations, magic and cultures. I know you can say that about many fantasies, but this is an all-the-way deal. When I say history, I mean thousands of years of history. When I say races, I mean races you've never heard of. And beautiful. This world (Krynn) has awe inspiring beauty.
  • Characters that you'll never never forget. Each one is so individual and so well drawn that their names are engraved in my mind.They have their own histories and demons and talents. And they have detailed and real relationships among each other. The group dynamics make this book amazing. Friends. Brothers. Lovers. Mentors. Traitors. Leaders.
  • Adventure. Epic world saving adventure. Personal struggle adventure. Conflict. Terror. Mystery. Miracles. And safe havens every once in a while.
  • Romance. There is a love triangle and young love and devoted self-sacrificing love.
  • There is no swearing, sex (beyond references, perhaps, or that could be a later book), or gratuitous descriptions of evil. There is violence, which can be graphic, in the war/battle sense. But nothing that seemed more than exciting even when I was young.
I feel inadequate to describe my love for this book. These characters have been standing over my shoulder and providing a measure by with to judge all future stories since grade school. I want so much to introduce you to my them, Tanis and Tasslehoff and Flint and Sturm and everyone. I feel like if I turned around fast enough they would be standing there.

I highly recommend giving this one a try.                                                                  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Listful Mondays: Sections in my Library

Sections in My Library

This might seem like a strange or boring subject, but I thought it would be interesting, so there! 

Actually, I did think it would be interesting because I know my library is organized in a way that make sense to me and is according to the books I actually own. I figured everyone would approach things differently, and have different sections depending on what books they collected. That's why. So here goes - in the order of scanning around the room clockwise:
  1. Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction (Fantasy outnumbers by far, and these are all paperback in very short shelves. It is the biggest section in the library mostly due to all the books my husband came with.) 
  2. Fantasy Hardback (This section is due to the fact that the hardbacks don't fit in the short shelves. It has both adult and YA fantasy.) 
  3. Contemporary YA (This is a default section. Everything here doesn't fit anywhere else genre-wise.)
  4. Middle Grade (This has a large number of books in a small section since the books are so small - many Magic Treehouse, Fairy books, A to Z mysteries, and the like. There is a large stack sitting on floor in front of shelf because we are out of room.)
  5. YA Historical Fiction
  6. YA Fantasy
  7. Fairy Tale Retellings
  8. YA Survival
  9. YA War
  10. Children's Books Out-of-Reach (This is for all those pictures books {old, special, or holiday} that I don't want accessible to small hands.)
  11. Science (Large section with animal/dinosaur/chemistry/anatomy/nature/space books. There are some history thrown in.)
  12. Audio Books
  13. Computer Books (These are slated for boxes and the basement. I need more room for prettier and readable books. :)
  14. Health/Development/Pregnancy Stuff
  15. Religious (Big section. Very varied. From study guides to biographies to school notes to family histories.
  16. Text Books (The stuff from college that I couldn't part with. Mostly English books.)
  17. Poetry
  18. Humor
  19. Non-Fantasy Adult Books and Classics (This section is growing now that I occasionaly read and acquire things that fit here. In the past this section has been so small that I've attempted to do away with it entirely by giving away the three books there. My husband wouldn't let me - he has emotional value attached to that copy of Ben Hur in spanish. But it's a good thing now. I've expanded it to include classics recently.)
  20. How-To and Reference (Hiking books, How to Raise Your Spirited Child, and all that jazz, along with my huge thesaurus and rhyming dictionaries.)
  21. Early Readers (This shelf is actually my salvation. If I had to rely on someone else for enough books to fill my learning readers' required time I'd just die.) 
  22. The Stuff That's Left (I've got yearbooks here, health books that didn't fit in the other spot, and I know not what.)
  23. Picture and Board Books (This is actually a whole huge shelf that didn't fit in the library, but you can see it from the doorway. The board books are tossed into plastic bins that fit into the lower cubbies of the shelf. I love Ikea.)
  24. In Transit Shelf (This shelf is in my bedroom and contains many TBR books and books recently finished and on their way down stairs.
  25. Library Box (A pretty Ikea organizing thing in the front room to keep the library books corralled.)
  26. Piano Music (Another Ikea thing in the front room holding volumes of piano music.)
There ya go! How is your library organized?? I'd love to read about it.

{Next week: Books I Have Lost}

PS Sorry for the tardiness of this post today. We were out of town for the weekend, and then I woke up to pukey kids. We'll see how blogging goes this week! 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time Out for Fairy Tales

Confession. I'm fairy taled out. And I'm sure you, dear Bloggies, are fairy tale reviewed out. I blame the innundation on three things:
  1. My own idiosyncrasies and tendeny to get comfortable in a rut.
  2. An ecstatic library frenzy. You know I don't get to go all that often, and when I went there on a date sans children...well. Five books I haven't read by this author? Grab them all! Three retellings of Beauty and Beast? My favorite! You get the picture. I had a ginormous stack that I am officially done with now.
  3. The Once Upon a Time Challenge. But I have no more spots for fairy tales, so it's safe to move on.
But there is an irony. Over a year ago a friends recommended a specific book to me and I have been impatiently waiting for it to come out in paper back so I could buy it. Then I recently discovered the wonder of holds at the library and slapped a hold on this book. But I was way down the line and didn't think I'd be reading it any time soon. It came up! Now. Today. I'm headed out to get it once the Boy gets home from scouts. So even though I'm fairy taled out, I'm be reading one more.

Irony number two. It is a retelling of Rumplestitskin. I just did that. So you will be getting a double dose of that obscure one soon.

And yet, I'm getting excited. I'd really love to love it. Or even to hate it. Something stronger that what I've been feeling lately about my reading. I want to gush or bash. Politely of course. :)

But I'll tell you one thing. If this book contains any more about 'looking with the heart' or 'reading his heart' or 'understanding your own heart' or 'following your heart' or 'your heart's true music' or 'make sure you only wash your car with your heart,' I'm gonna scream. There might be a book throwing.

Stay tuned.

Review: And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

And Only to Deceive
by Tasha Alexander
Historical Fiction, Mystery
336 pages
published: 2005
For: Book Club assignment from last summer *chagrin*
3 of 5 stars


For Emily, accepting Philip's proposal was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother. And when Philip dies on safari soon after their wedding, she feels little grief; she had barely known him. Now, nearly two years later, she learns that her husband was very different from the man she thought she had married.
Eager to find out more, Emily begins to study the priceless Greek statues her husband collected. Her search leads to the British Museum, where she discovers that a ring of forgers is stealing artifacts from the Greco–Roman galleries. Solving the crime will lead to more discoveries about Philip and cause Emily to question the role in Victorian Society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.  - from Goodreads


I had a good time reading this. It wasn't anything amazing or compelling, but a good time. I found the situation of having to mourn someone you don't miss and then falling in love with your dead husband intriguing and sorrowful. The pain of regret and lost opportunities is awful. I liked the journal entries from Philip and freedom afforded a widow. I appreciated how Emily's character wasn't so radical she thought she didn't have to marry, but did what was necessary to ensure what she hoped was the most happiness she could find. I liked how she woke up out of her own selfishness and began broadening her education.

I got annoyed with the mystery. But that might have more to do with me than the book. I rarely read MysteryMystery books. Maybe you mystery readers can tell me if impatience is a normal emotion while reading mystery. I wanted more to be going on while it took forever to figure out 'who done it.' And I got truly annoyed with that woman who kissed back every time. Pick a side, Lady.

So, while I had fun with this book I don't have any plans to read the sequels. This one ended at a nice satisfying place. The mysteries were resolved, the romance progressed enough. I'm just fine.

Review: Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey

Sunlight and Shadow
by Cameron Dokey
YA, Fairy Tale
208 pages
published: 2004
4 of 5 stars


A retelling of The Magic Flute (which I knew nothing about, and now know is an opera. I don't actually know if it is/was a fairy tale, but it is part of the Once Upon a Time series so I'm not going to stress about the classification.

In a time when the world was young and many things were quite commonplace that are now entirely forgotten, Sarastro, Mage of the Day, wed Pamina, the Queen of the Night. And in this way was the world complete, for light was joined to dark. For all time would they be joined together. Only the ending of the world could tear them apart. In other words, in the days in which my parents married, there was no such thing as divorce....
Thus begins the tale of Mina, a girl-child born on the longest night of the darkest month of the year. When her father looked at her, all he saw was what he feared: By birth, by name, by nature, she belonged to the Dark. So when Mina turned sixteen, her father took her away from shadow and brought her into sunlight.
In retaliation, her mother lured a handsome prince into a deadly agreement: If he frees Mina, he can claim her as his bride.
Now Mina and her prince must endure deadly trials -- of love and fate and family -- before they can truly live happily ever after....  - from Goodreads


I enjoyed this one from start to finish. I loved how it had a mythological feel and tone, speaking of the beginnings of the earth and godlike jobs and powers. I enjoyed the dynamic of a marriage that wasn't working but had to work. I appreciated that my suspicions of who I would like/dislike were proven wrong. But most of all, I loved that this one had humor. There were two characters, in fact, who had a sense of humor, the wit, and the guts to be funny. This was a quick read, lyrical, mythical, comical at times, and enjoyable. Happy endings sometimes are so yummy. This was another book where the secondary characters made the story. I loved Gayna, Lapin, and Tern. But perhaps I loved the Queen of the Night best. Confident, understated power is...appealing.

If I had to split hairs, I'd mention that the romance was sudden and the trials passed through melodramatic. But who wants to split hairs?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen

 by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen
YA, Fairy Tale
208 pages
published: 1999
For: Once Upon Time Challenge
3 of 5 stars




Fascinating. Napoli takes a fairy tale and makes it makes sense. She gives it a backstory, a logic, that feels real. When those 'ah-ha' moments happen (like when you realize so-and-so is really her/him from the fairy tale, or this event is really that moment, or a 'so that's why' dawning) they are smooth and seamless. You saw them coming, but they were still an 'ah-ha.' Even a strange tale like Rumplestitskin is...believable...is that the right word? Even Rumplestitskin had a story and a heart.

So why wouldn't this be a 5 star book when I am full of astonishment and a very very strange sense of satisfaction?? Well. Simply because it wasn't enjoyable. It was, in fact, dark and dreary and all but hopeless. And the end was sudden, messy, and tortured.

Should you read it? I have no idea. Do you like fascinating character studies that make you wonder if perhaps that twisted fairy tale might have started out with a poor tailor? Do you mind not having a happily ever after that leaves a sweet taste in your mouth? If so, you might very well find this book valuable. I did, to a certain extent...but I also threw the book at the end. I guess I wanted a little more reward for what I had suffered while reading about these people.

I'd like to note, in a purely venting sort of way, that the tailor didn't deserve what he got in the beginning, but his blindness in the end erased my sympathies for him. The young woman was a B. Saskia got the short end of the stick - but you shouldn't make promises you can't keep.

And just by word of warning, it opens with a sex scene. How 'bout that for audacious? Usually you gotta wait for that kind of stuff. ;)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Listful Mondays: Book Pet Peeves

Book Pet Peeves
  1. Dog-eared pages.
  2. People who break the spine when they read.
  3. Computer-read audio books.
  4. Covers that have nothing to do with the book. (example: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery)
  5. Price tags that won't come off or leave sticky stuff behind forcing me to break out the goo-gone.
  6. Another story about "becoming a man." (I referring to "literary" stories {ya know, the only ones with merit*} from my college classes. As we all know, there is nothing more important than how to become a man.**)
  7. Writing in books. (By all means, write in yours. Don't write in mine.)
  8. Books with no summary on the flap or back. I don't care what so-and-so said. Tell me what it's about!
  9. Library stickers right over the blurb.
  10. Twenty pages of reader quotes in the the beginning of the book. Does anyone read those?
  11. Typos. I know these books get copy edited up the wazoo. I can imagine the frustration of an author who finds some typos have slipped through.
  12. Binding errors - like when the words get sucked into the glue for the spine.
 p.s. I'm not really all that uptight. These things bug me but I'm not likely to lose my cool. Unless you break the spine! :)

I'd love to see your peeves, please join me!

* I'm referring to opinions other than my own.
** Can't we all just agree on a sarcasm icon?
    {Next Week: Sections in My Library.}