Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Red Queen's Daughter

The Red Queen's DaughterThe Red Queen's Daughter by Jacqueline Kolosov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Red Queen is Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VII, who survived him and later married and had a daughter Mary. The story is narrated by Mary and chronicles her (Mary's) training in white magic and then employment as a Lady-in-Waiting by Elizabeth I.

This interesting story moves slowly, because the author has packed it full of details about Elizabeth I's court, from the convoluted relationships of various courtiers to how the elaborate clothing was taken care of. I happen to enjoy that kind of book, but that's me.

The magic seems a little more iffy. Mostly, we are told "And she told me to figure it out for myself", and remarkably Mary jumps right in and, except for a case early on, has no problems.

Task 30.7 B

View all my reviews

Monday, July 12, 2010

Big Blue Book fulfills cover expectations

The Children's BookThe Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you like books set in England at the turn of the 20th Century that feature people with enough money to indulge their eccentricities you might like this one. There are lots of references to political and social movements of the period.
This book moved rather slowly and had lots of people drifting in and out. At one point I was going to stop reading it, but decided to keep at it just to see what happened to the characters. It makes you think that maybe all their quirks KEPT the characters from being happy.
This is not the happiest book I've ever read.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

An Alaskan Life and Lovin' It

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friends, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friends, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's not that death has no mysteries for someone who writes obituaries, it's that the writer has turned death' mystery into a way of meeting and celebrating life.
Lende survived a serious bike accident and went on to not just cope with life but to enjoy the good with the bad. Along the way she has written about her life in Haines, Alaska and her friends and neighbors--both the living and the dead. An Episcopalian, she draws on a great wealth of spiritual tradtion to tie life together.
I had enjoyed her first book If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, which came out just before her accident, and I must say that I've enjoyed this one just as much.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Three Dog Life

A Three Dog Life A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is Abigail Thomas' account of her life after her husband Rich was hit by a car and suffered massive brain damage. Her life changed and she had to plan for the future, while her husband remained living in the ever-present now. In addition to Harry, the beagle who was with Rich at the time of the accident, she acquires Rosie (half whippet, half dachshund) and the beagle Carolina Bones.
I empathized with her, almost to the point of reliving my own years following my husband's long bout with a brain tumor. While there are some differences (as a neurologist was quick to point out), I still saw many of the same behavior in my husband.
The amazing thing is that I did not find this book to be depressing, nor was it full of Pollyanna-ish cheerfulness.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, June 3, 2010

GoodRead Seasonal Reads Summer Reading

Once again I've been lured into the GoodReads Seasonal Reading Challenge.
This summer there are 56 tasks, with most of them requiring one book to be read for completion.

Of the several hundred people who have taken up the challenge, most don't plan to finish all the tasks--they have a life that revolves around work, family, recreation, and other things. They pick the tasks that dovetail with their list of books they want to read and get on with it.

Some of us create our list of books we want to read from the list of tasks. My actual TBR list never seems to have quite what's required for the challenge, but I've discovered some great books along the way. I'll be sprinkling those titles through here the next three months.

(And if you'd like to try GoodRead try here The Seasonal Challenge is under Groups. Tell them I sent you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Knit one, Read one

Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(So far, very funny but informative book. Author is trying to knit a pattern by a knitting designer who is known for vigorously defending her intellectual property rights, so there is information about that thorny issue.)
Martini has ably managed to encompass knitting, copywrite law, childrearing, yoga, knitting blogs, and friendship with humor and skill.
If you are a knitter you will probablly read this book and nod your head in places because you know the Sock Knitting Gods are not always on your side. If you are not a knitter you probably won't touch this book with a ten inch knitting needle, but you'll be missing a good read. This is not so much about the finished sweater as it is about the process of knitting...the way knitting makes your life different. Not necessarially better, but different.
And I want a bumper sticker that says " I knit so I don't kill people".

View all my reviews >>

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Brutal Telling (Armand Gamache, #5) The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are recalled to the village of Three Pines (just outside Montreal) when the body of a stranger is found inside the bistro owned by Olivier. Villagers include Ruth, the rude poet with the ever-present duck; Myrna, the colorful bookstore owner; Olivier and his partner Gabriel; Old Mundin and The Wife, the Czech odd job man; Havoc Parra; and the newcomers who have taken over the house on the hill.
This is a mystery very much about the characters. We learn about the characters just like we make friends, learning a little more about them each time they appear.
I need to read the first ones of this series. Gamache has an interesting family life apart from his official duties.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One year my daughter spent most of her summer vacation climbing in and hanging out in one of the ash trees on our lot. I thought of her as I read this book. Only the people in this book climb up and hang out, do research in and get married on the Giant Redwoods in the temperate rain forest of northern California.
Reading the second chapter, I had to close the book and take several deep breaths. Just reading about people swinging around at 150 feet in the air (in this case, without any climbing equipment at all) set off my acrophobia. But I had to keep reading to see what happened next.
What was next was and is a story of the the surprises that were found lurking in the crowns of the trees. There is an immense variety of life happening up there, both the same and very different from the canopy of a tropical rain forest.
They needn't worry about me disturbing the ecology of the Redwood; I'm not climbing anything that doesn't have a guard rail, but it was a great book.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, February 1, 2010

If you liked Water for Elephants, you might like this

The Elephant Keeper LP The Elephant Keeper LP by Christopher Nicholson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When two young half-dead elephants are landed to England in 1766, young Tom Page's master buys them and puts Tom in charge. Tom, who had been training under his father to take care of horses, becomes throughly entranced with the two great beasts and becomes nursemaid, teacher, and champion.
I would say this is an 18th Century English Water for Elephants, but that would be unfair to both books. Both books have their charms. This one is much more focused upon the elephants than on human interactions.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Discworld is up to fun and games--or games for them and fun for the reader

Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37) Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sir Terry Pratchett has taken on football (that's soccer to us Americans), as practiced as both a sport and as a religion (works for either definition of football).
As is the case in a number of his other Discworld novels, we are also confronted with a member of a distasteful minority--in this case an Orc. There is also a brief side trip into the world of fashion and fame, but that could happen anywhere.
My favorite part of the book is quite possibily the discussion of the definition of "oral sex". I alway learn soooo much while reading Pratchett's books.
View all my reviews >>