About Me and My Blog and Amazon Store

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Langley, BC, Canada
I love to read. I love books. I like to talk about books and recommend them. I read everything including cereal boxes and junk mail! I heard once that if you're not reading at least 3 books at a time you're not reading enough! This blog will keep track of the books I've read and whether or not I liked them. It will be a little bit of everything from Christian fiction to Science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to participate by suggesting books to review and giving your comments. Occasionally I am given free books by Publishers in exchange for a review. I am not told how to review them or compensated in any way for the review.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And to all, a good night...

This will probably be my last post for 2010 as I’m away on vacation until the end of the year.

This has been a great year for reading. However as you can tell from the sidebar I didn’t come anywhere close to reading 100 books ins 2010! But it was fun trying. My favourite books read this year were The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Many people on my list will be getting these books for Christmas.

I’m taking 3 books on vacation with me and I’m a little worried that it’s not enough books to bring along. But since I don’t have an e-reader yet it will have to do.

I’ll be back in 2011 reading and reviewing books. Until then, have a very Merry Christmas and may many good books be under your tree waiting to be read.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Painted Ladies by Robert Parker

Thanks to Penguin books, I received a copy of Robert Parker’s Painted Ladies to review.

Spenser is hired to protect an art historian. A painting has been stolen and the ransom is being paid. Spenser is to protect the historian as he makes the trade. Unfortunately for the historian, Spenser is not able to do this and a bomb blows up the art and the professor. This doesn’t sit well with Spenser who takes his job seriously and he now is on the hunt to find out who killed Dr. Prince and why.

This is vintage Robert Parker. There is a lot of dialogue. In fact the book is mostly dialogue. There’s very little description or introspection. It almost reads like a script without the stage directions. Which makes me wonder if it will end up as a TV movie of the week? At times I got a little tired of the short, snappy dialogue that often lacked pronouns or adjectives. But Spenser is witty, lovable, and intelligent often surprising people with his literary quotes. His love interest is a psychologist and this allows Parker to provide ongoing insights into the psyche of the various characters, including Spenser. This is an entertaining read and worth adding to your collection.

Sadly Robert Parker passed away in January at the age of 77. He was a prolific writer, writing both crime and western novels. I’ve enjoyed reading both the Spenser and Jesse Stone series. He will be missed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The pleasure of being read to

I was just reading on another blog about a mother’s experience in reading the Harry Potter series to her child. And I got a funny nostalgic feeling about that. I don’t have kids of my own but I have read many a book to my friends’ children. One of my favourite memories of my soon to be married niece is her 4 year old skepticism that I would know the words of the book her mother gave me to read to her.

But I think what made me nostalgic is thinking about being read to; someone taking the time to sit down and read me a story. I don’t have a lot of childhood memories but one that does stick out is that my elementary school teacher used to read to us after lunch, probably in a vain attempt to calm us down. I don’t remember this but my mom says she finally had to stop reading the 3 Little Pigs book to me as I got so upset every time the wolf showed up.

As adults we don’t really get read to. I suppose the closest thing would be books on tape but somehow that doesn’t seem to have the same warm, fuzzy feeling.

So in this busy month coming up if someone says to you “read me a story”, my advice is to stop what you’re doing, read and create some memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, John Scalzi calls Agent to the Stars, his practice novel. The novel he wrote just to see if he could write. He can.

The premise of the book is that an alien race wants to make first contact with earth. They’ve been hovering over the planet for years observing life on the planet through the TV shows beamed into outer space. The Yherajk (for that is their name) have an image problem. They are smart and funny but ugly. Fearing that their outer appearance will make them unwelcome they have decided that the best way to introduce themselves to the human race is to hire a Hollywood agent.

This book is funny. The premise is fun, the banter is witty and the story is both heart-warming and silly. The only thing I didn’t really care for was the way the ending was presented. The actual conclusion is brilliant but it’s almost as if the writer decided it was time to shorten the story and he uses newspaper headliners to make the leap over the concluding months. I could have easily read the extra 100-150 pages it would have taken to flesh out the rest of the conclusion. And I sincerely hope there is a sequel in the works.

If you are a science-fiction fan and you like your aliens witty, intelligent and friendly then you will like this book.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

Thanks to Penguin Books I received a copy of J.D. Robb’s latest book Indulgence in Death to review.

Eve Dallas is a New York City police lieutenant who is known as the top murder cop in the city. She is married to a wealthy man who is also considered to be the best in his line of work. Together, they are the quintessential power couple.
There is a game afoot and it involves murder. It’s Eve’s job to find out who is killing people who have become the best in their line of work. The murders involve exotic weapons, places and people. It’s a world that Eve can navigate because of her position as well as her marriage.

J.D. Robb always tells a good story. The story is in the investigation and the conversation. This is a very verbal book. There is lots of banter and discussion. As with her other books, the reader knows early on who the killers are. It’s the reasoning and interplay between the characters that makes the book interesting.
Along with the murders, the other themes are familiar ones. Friendship and family are key concepts in this series. Eve is learning to accept friendship and family and to allow herself to be loved. To find out why this is difficult for her you will need to start at the beginning of the series and find out about her background. Indulgence in Death is another great look into the criminal mind and the minds of those who serve and protect.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

Chasing the Night is Iris Johansen’s latest Eve Duncan book. Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor who can take pieces of a skull and flesh it out so that a recognizable face appears. Her particular expertise is children’s faces. She is called on when bones are found to help identify them and her work has led to many criminals being put behind bars. But the work is personal for Eve. She lost her own daughter to murder and the body has never been found. That sorrow and desire for justice for her daughter gives her a special connection with the children whose faces she is trying to recreate.

I’ve enjoyed many of Iris Johansen’s books over the years but I think this is her best one yet. A child has been taken from his mother when he was a baby and brought up by a murderous criminal. This criminal has been taunting the mother, an FBI agent for years and the mother has finally decided to launch an all-out effort to find her son. To do this she needs Eve Duncan’s help.

The themes in this novel are about family ties and love and how true evil distorts everything. Iris Johansen knows how to tell a good story. This book was hard to put down and the ending is truly satisfying. If you have never read a book by Johansen this is a good one to start with. If you have read her books then this one will be an entertaining addition to your collection. Chasing the Night is a 10 out of 10.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Read this book. In fact, go out and buy it, don’t even get it from the library. This is the type of book that you could read during a crappy day or week and feel better instantly. Sadly the author died just as the book was being published so I don’t think there will be a sequel although her niece (an author in her on right) did help with editing and finishing the book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a book club filled wtih quirky, funny and endearing people. The setting is the Island of Guernsey just after the end of World War 2,

The main character is a writer, Julia who is finishing up a book tour. She receives a letter from a man on Guernsey who has come upon a secondhand book of hers with her name and address in the front. He writes asking for the name of the bookstore and address where she bought the book because he wants to read some more. With that a corresopndence begins and Julia’s life is changed forever.

The story is told in letter form. Notes back and forth between all the characters. It’s a charming way of telling a story and makes you feel a bit like you’re reading someone else’s diary. There is much about how the book club came into existence and how each of the characters endured the occupation of Guernsey by the Germans.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story is poignant and the characters are a delight to get to know. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones”. I highly recommend that you read and enjoy this book.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

8 Days to Live by Iris Johansen

I’ve been asked to do a review on Iris Johansen’s new book Chasing the Night. While I was waiting for the book to arrive I thought I’d better catch up on her books as I haven’t read one in awhile. So I bought 8 days to Live.

This novel’s main character is Jane,. She is an artist who has run afoul of an evil cult loosely based on Judas Iscariot, Jesus’s betrayer. The cult has earmarked her for death on April 1.
The action involves her attempts to discover who is behind the cult, and who has been murdering those close to her.

This is a good thriller with definite themes of good vs evil and love vs hate. Johansen gets a bit more graphic in her descriptions of murder scenes than I would like but I appear to be one of the few people who doesn’t enjoy CSI-type investigations. If you like that sort of thing then you will enjoy this book.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

This Body of Death by Elizabeth George

I've read all of Elizabeth George's novels and have mostly enjoyed them. The last couple she has been focusing on child abuse which is an area that I do not enjoy reading about. I'd forgotten that this book was about that before I started to read it. What I like about her books is that the characters are continued and they have mostly shown growth and depth as the books have progressed.

I had trouble with this one from the start mostly because of the style. She uses the flashback method to tell one of the story lines. But where the method was intriguing and engaging in Louise Penny's book,Bury your Dead, in this book it was intrusive and annoying, at least at first. This is because the flashbook story is being told in the form of a report. I suspect it's partly to lessen the horror of the story. And the story is horrific even told in the bland, reporting way of a psychologist's report.

The other story line is good. I'm not sure I like where she's going with a couple of the main characters. it will be interesting to see how they develop in later books.

If you are a staunch Elizabeth George fan then you will want to read this book if only to keep up with Detective Lynley and Barbara Havers. Otherwise I would recommend reading her earlier books as there is more story telling and less background stuff to wade through.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hello, my name is Shari, and I’m a book-aholic.

How do I know this? You might think it’s because I have a lot of books, and you’d be right. If you’re my mother you know this because you’ve packed umpteen books whenever I’ve moved.

How I know this though is because I have 3 books that I’m reading right now. And someone just gave me another that I’ve been wanting to read and I’m trying to figure out how I can fit that into my reading schedule without dropping any of other books I’m reading.

Hello, my name is Shari and I’m a bookaholic. Please tell me I’m not the only one. Maybe we can start a support group.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

True Blue by David Baldacci

True Blue is a police crime thriller involving two sisters; one who is chief of police and one who has just gotten out of prison for a crime she was framed for.

This is a solid, action-packed novel. As you know by now if you've read my blog for very long, I prefer books with in depth character development. This is definitely not one of those but still entertaining in a shoot em up; good vs evil type of way. And there is plenty of bad guys to be had. Baldacci has some interesting theories on how far the US gov't will go to combat terrorism. This is a modern tale with modern bad guys and strong women who can hold their own against anything that comes their way. This one won't tax your brain very much but will get your heart pumping a few times as you follow the action.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bury your Dead by Louise Penny

In most jobs you can make a mistake and nobody dies. But in some jobs; air traffic controllers, fire fighters, and police detectives mistakes can be deadly. These jobs have a built in terror factor; the terror that if you fail people may die.

It’s this terror that Louise Penny uses to create suspense and plot development in her latest book, Bury your Dead. Once again we meet Inspector Gamache. He’s in Quebec city recovering from a deadly mistake. While there he becomes involved in a murder mystery and a historical mystery. And if that wasn’t enough mystery, the fact that he may have made a mistake in the Three Pines case (The Brutal Telling) begins to haunt him.

While he is going about the city looking for clues to the murder, we are given access to his thoughts as he plays back his most recent mistake; the one that resulted in a leave of absence from his job. If this hadn’t been handled properly it could have become very confusing for the reader but instead the transitions between real time and his thoughts are smoothly done and the reader is caught up in the story playing in Gamache’s head as much as the one playing out around him. Gamache’s side-kick, Inspector Beauvior reopens the Three Pines case, giving us yet another narrative to follow in this complex but entertaining novel.

This is also a book about history, specifically Quebec’s history. In fact it’s possible to think of Quebec, it’s history, it’s present and it’s politics as another character in the novel. Penny’s love for the province she lives in is very evident throughout all her novels. But the descriptions of the places and people in this one made me want to book my next vacation there.

You could read this book as a stand alone; there’s enough information about the people of Three Pines and the previous murder case to go on. However, the real pleasure in reading Louise Penny’s books is getting to know the characters and their surroundings. She was a journalist before writing fiction and has the journalistic eye for detail and commentary.

Bury Your Dead is a compelling, complex book that examines history and portrays the present through excellent story telling and interesting characters. Buy the book, read the series, you will be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle

Homicide in Hardcover is the first in a new mystery series called The Bibliophile’s Mystery series. The main character is Brooklyn Wainwright. She’s a bookbinder specializing in restoring rare books. She’s single, quirky, and reminds me a bit of a Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone of the Alphabet murders. Unlike Kinsey who is an orphan, Brooklyn has 5 brothers and sisters and parents who live on a commune.

A prominent book binder and Brooklyn’s mentor is murdered while he was working on restoring a valuable copy of Faust. Brooklyn is asked to continue the restoration and also gets involved in trying to find out who killed her mentor. Also included are good looking detectives, more quirky friends and lots of new age lingo.

There are lots of literary references and it was interesting to read about how books are restored. The series has the potential to be a good one although it took me a while to warm up to the characters. But the book is entertaining and has nice touches of humour and romance. I think this will be a fun series to follow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

This is the third book in a series by new Science Fiction witer John Scalzi. It continues the adventures of John and Jane Perry. We first met John in the Old Man’s War. This book introduced the concept of elderly humans offering themselves as soldiers in Earth’s foray into outer space. In return for their minds, the soldiers are given new and improved bodies with all the “super hero” type abilities you would expect in SF novel along with the ability to live much longer lives, assuming they aren’t killed in battle etc.

In the Lost Colony, John and his wife Jane are recruited to head up a group of people being sent out to colonize a new planet. All is not as it seems and the colonists quickly find out that they have been manipulated and lied to by the governments of their home worlds. The colony is actually a lure, set up to flush out an alien group that is trying to muscle in on this part of space.
The characters have wit and wisdom and I often found myself laughing out loud at some of the comments and activities going on. If you like science fiction this series will intrigue you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Church Shopping

No, it’s not the title of a book I’m reading although I may write one about it one day. I’ve decided to do the occasional post about something other than books and today it’s about my quest to find a new church.

Some background. I grew up in the church. I was a Preacher’s Kid and generally was in church every Sunday, often 3 times a day especially when we lived on the Prairies. As an adult I’ve always been involved in church, I’ve done everything from leading a girls club to teaching Sunday School.

Almost 20 years ago I began attending a new church plant that was about 6 months old at the time. I got thoroughly involved and spent many years on the leadership team, I was treasurer and then the small group coordinator. As the church grew I eventually was on staff, part time as the Director of Adult Ministries. This role included small groups and working with newcomers. 7 years of working both a full time job and the church’s part time job finally took its toll and I quit the church job 2 years ago. At the time, I thought I would continue to attend that church but found it difficult to go back to being a “regular attender’ after being so involved in the leadership. That along with a move to a new city in March of this year has brought me to my current dilemma.

I need a new church.

This shouldn’t be that hard, right? Churches are basically the same; generally a group of people who love God and want to see their neighbors come to love Him as well. Trust me, this is the mission statement of every church I’ve visited. True they may have different methods and ways of accomplishing this in their neighborhoods but finding one that meshes with what I believe and want to see accomplished shouldn’t be that hard.

6 months of church shopping and I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever find it. I think I want the kind of love at first sight experience that I had 20 years ago with the small church plant. But like, marriage, I’m not sure that happens twice in a life time. Sitting by myself in a completely empty pew a couple of weeks ago with families all around me made wonder if I should call New Hope Church in Oahu my new church as I seem to enjoy being part of that worship service over the internet more than actually sitting in a church alone.

But I know that God calls us to community of real people, not an internet community. And I miss going to church every Sunday and I miss being involved in leadership. So I will keep looking. For the next few weeks I will visit a very large church in this area with a lot of opportunities for small groups and Bible Studies and see if I can get to know some people there.

Are you a church goer? Have you ever had to look for a new church? If you have some strategies to share please leave a comment..

Friday, August 27, 2010

Books I won't Read

I thought it might be interesting to list some of the books I won't read and why. Generally I have a very open mind and am willing to try most things. But I also have a very active imagination. When I read the Lord of the Rings Triology I dreamed about walking and talking trees for weeks. I found Mary Shelley's Frankenstein too scary to read late at night. And don't get me started on vampires or Ted Dekker.

So, some of the things I don't read are anything violent or with graphic language. Generally I don't read true crime. I don't read anything about or involving child abuse, it just makes me angry.

And I also don't read a lot of romance. As a single, christian female it brings up thoughts and feelings that I have no outlet for and seems more trouble than it's worth so generally I avoid most romances. Although a romance with a good murder in it seems to balance out the emotions!

So are there any types or styles of books you won't read?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Grilling Season by Diane Mott Davidson

Goldy Schultz is a caterer who has a knack of finding bodes and then getting embroiled in the catching of the killer.

I read the Diane Mott Davidson’s books at lunch times when I was already eating. If I read it at any other time of day I always want a snack while I read. The plot always involves a catering gig and Goldy spends as much time cooking in the book as she does solving the mystery. The descriptions of the dishes are always appetizing and the recipes are even included in the book. I’ve never tried one as they are mostly gourmet type and out of my league as a cook, but a real foodie would have fun replicating the menus I’m sure.

The theme of the Grilling Season is revenge. The murder happens early on in the book and the rest of the story is about how Goldy works out who the killer is. The back story is just as interesting as Goldy deals with an abusive ex-husband, a teen age son and her new second husband. You can read this as a stand alone as there is enough background in it but if you can find the earlier books in the series I would encourage you to read those first. The Grilling Season is highly recommended.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coming Up...

As you can tell from the list at the side I'm not reviewing every single book I read. So if you want to know what I think of a book that I haven't reviewed, feel free to leave a comment.

The last two books are ones I wouldn't necessarily recommend but were interestingfor me to read. Deadlocked was about a sort of female Indiana Jones who goes into Afghanistan to retrieve some priceless artifacts and gets captured, runs amok of the bad guys and is rescued by a tall, dark stranger who becomes, of course, the love of her life. It's a good summer beach read.

Host was completely different. A thriller about a scientist involved in cryogenics (freezing of people to be brought to life in the future) and aritifcial life forms and the very scary combining of the two. It was scary but definitely not to everyone's taste.

Coming up will be reviews on the Grilling Season. If you like the Food Network and mysteries you will love this series about a caterer/sleuth and the trouble she gets into. For something compltely different, I'm reading Spook. This is a non fiction book where the scientist is exploring the afterlife and doing it in a very humorous way. It proves to be an interesting read although again, perhaps not to everyone's taste. And I'm reading the Book of Negroes. I'm finding this award winning book a bit difficult to get through mostly because of the descriptions of the treatment of the black slaves but I will finish it eventually and review it.

So that's what's coming up.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave is a debut novel by Deanna Raybourn. It’s a mystery set in Victorian England. The main character is Julia Grey. Her husband Edward has just been murdered and she sets off to find out who did it. Of course, being in Victorian England there are many cultural taboos to overcome and her handsome side kick, Nicholas Brisbane brings a touch of romance to the story.

I was a little surprised to find out that Deanna Raybourn is a 6th generation Texan. It seems like she might have been better suited for writing about America at the turn of the century. However she has done a beautiful job on the Victorian atmosphere. The heroine is constantly kicking against the pricks of society and shows a modern bent in her thinking and actions. It’s fun and horrifying to imagine what life was like for women back then.

The mystery is good, the ending is surprising and I’m looking forward to reading the second in the series, Silent on the Moor. If you enjoy Victorian mystery/love stories you will enjoy this series; go to your library and get started on it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice Quits Christianity

I am not a fan of Anne Rice as I’ve never been into the vampire book genre. 10 years ago she gave up atheism and embraced a new found faith in Christ. After that she wrote a fairly well received fictionalized book series on the life of Christ. Again, I’ve never read it although I keep meaning to. Now that I’ve rediscovered my local library I will have to see if it has those books.

But today, it’s being reported that Anne Rice has quit Christianity. You can google the story for yourself to see what she has to say in her own words. I agree with a lot of what she says but she has generalized it too much I think. Yes, some Christians give Christianity a bad name but every group has people that they wish would go join some other group.

Christians aren’t perfect, churches aren’t perfect but in God’s wisdom and grace He has chosen the church to be the Bride of Christ. I think that concept is not taught enough in churches today. I also think that if we behaved more as brides; someone who is looking forward to seeing her bridegroom and is preparing for the best day of her life, more people would be attracted to Christ.

Anne says she’s not giving up on her faith; just on Christianity. I think that eternity could be a very long time for her if she has to live with all of us and hasn’t learned to get along. (that last part was said tongue in cheek) Because like it or not all those who have believed in Christ as their Saviour will be living with us in heaven, even if we didn’t get along on earth.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

U is for Undertow, By Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton has been creating alphabet mysteries since 1982! starting with A is for Alibi she has continued through each letter using the same female private investigator and thoroughly entertaining me with her stories.

Kinsey Milhone is a divorced 30 something private investigator. She lives on her own in a converted garage apartment; eats pickle and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner and runs for exercise. She is an orphan and in the last few novels Grafton has gradually been revealing more of Kinsey’s background. In this book, the mystery she is solving and the issues that Kinsey is having with her newly found family are almost parallel. The story moves back and forth between the case she is working on and the personal discoveries she is making about her own life.

As I’ve said before I enjoy reading series but often, especially in a long one like this, the characters become tired and the stories seem to be repetitive. I’ve not found that with this series and each book reveals something new about the main character.

This mystery revolves around a cold case that involves a child kidnapping. Someone comes to Kinsey with new clues and she becomes personally invested in trying to figure out what happened almost 20 years ago.

This is not an action packed thriller kind of book. The mystery is solved through solid investigative work. At some point the reader is aware of what happened before the investigator is but that doesn’t seem to spoil the ending.

With only 5 letters of the alphabet left, it will be interesting to see what V, W, X, Y and Z will stand for. The Alphabet series is highly recommended.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larrson

This is the final book in the trilogy that started with the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

Again this is a big book and it's one of the few times that I will say that all the length might not have been necessary. I got bogged down in a lot of the detail and since much of it concerned Swedish policing and politics I'm not sure it was that necessary to the unfolding of the story. There is also alot of detail on the solving of the mystery and subsequent planning for the trial that happens at the end of the book. But the ending is a satisfactory conclusion of the story although I suspect that had the author lived, he may have had a few more books in mind for the series. I for one would have liked a prequel that delves into the back story of Lisbeth Salander's life as I think one of the things lacking in this series is really good character development.

So I wouldn't rate this highly as the first two but it was a good ending and you can do as I did and skip a lot of the stuff you aren't interested in!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

And the winner is

Congratulations Sheila, (sorry Tracy). If you didn't comment (and you know who you are) I still encourage you to buy the book. It's definitely worth reading.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My First Give Away - The Heart Mender

The kind folks at Thomas Nelson gave me a second copy of the Heart Mender to give away.

Please leave a comment on this post or the last one with your email address and I will do a random draw at the end of this week. If you win the copy I will be happy to mail it to you wherever you are. And if you don't win, please consider buying the book, it's definitely worth reading and sharing with other people.

The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews

Andy Andrews had just discovered a mystery in his back yard. While digging up a dead tree he uncovers a silver button, an Iron Cross and some pictures. He’s curious and sensing there might be a story he begins to do some research. Internet searches lead to interviews and soon he has the beginning of a fascinating and mostly true account that he shares with us in the Heart Mender, A story of Second Chances.

This is a beautifully written book The transition from present day to 1942 back to present day is almost seamless. The story itself is compelling. In the Author’s note at the beginning he says “don’t read ahead”. I’m glad I followed that advice although I was sorely tempted to read the back of the book. Don’t do it, let the story move you along and you will be left gasping at the end of it.

The theme of the book is forgiveness. He has some of the most powerful words to say about forgiveness and relationships that I’ve ever read. At point one of the characters is trying to explain the concept of forgive and forget. He says “you may remember the wrong, but by choosing to forgive, you have disarmed it. Then it can no longer determine what you think, what you say, or what you do”(pg 120)

This book is easily read in an afternoon but I assure you that the concepts in it and the story told will linger in your mind for much longer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

Charles Todd is a mother/son writing team who have written a bunch of mysteries with a male detective. This novel begins a new series for them with a new main character, a female nurse. It's set in World War 1 and Bess Crawford has volunteered for duty serving in the nursing corps. Bess is injured when the ship she is on is fired on by a submarine and sinks. She's sent home to recover. While at home recovering she attempts to make good on a promise she made to a young officer who died in her care.

This story is driven along by the concept of the duty to the dead. She is determined to not only carry out his last wishes but to also understand them. For this she must travel to his home, live with his family and become involved in their very intricate relationships.

This is a great period novel. The atmosphere is just right, the setting and characters are spot on and the mystery is engaging. I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking to read more of this series.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Reading

My life is undergoing somewhat of a lull moment right now. Nothing major planned on the horizon, work is humming along all right and the schedule has emptied out somewhat. So I'm looking forward to making my way through all the books I have to read. Some are listed in the currently reading section. Some more are on my bookcase; like The Book of Negroes and Greg Morgenstern's Three Cups of Tea.

Also in my neighborhood are two used book stores as well as a library that I may actually try to remember how to use! So if you wonder what I'm doing this summer; I'm readng! (Of course my family would say that is nothing new!)

What are you reading this summer?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

This is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Stieg Larsson is a masterful storyteller. All the characters we met in the first book are again part of the story. He has a way of drawing out the suspense that made me want to jump to the end of the book just to find out what happens. I'm glad I didn't yield to the temptation though as the ending is surprising and the lead in to the final book of the series.

In this story, Lisbeth Salander is being sought as a suspect in a double, soon to be triple murder. Her friend Mikal Blomkvist is part of the investigation and one of the few people who believe she may be innocent of the charges. This story gives us much of Lisbeth's background and we slowly begin to understand what makes her tick.

Larsson has some unique techniques for creating suspense and drama. During part of the investigation when Lisbeth is missing, she is also missing from the story. Chapters are written about everyone else and their part in the investigation until you begin to wonder if she is going to show up in the story again. Finally she does and the action takes off again.

You don't need to read the first book before this one but I think it would help in the understanding the main characters. These are books that are worth all the hype about them. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to see the movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; typically movies based on books I love disappoint me. However, if you do see the movie without reading the book first; do yourself a favour and get the book, you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Switch by Grant McKenzie

I’ve said before that I really enjoy reading first novels and it adds to the enjoyment when the author is a Canadian. Switch is Grant McKenzie’s first novel and it will be published in Canada in August. I was given a copy by Penguin books to do a review.

Two men are being terrorized by someone who has kidnapped their families. Sam is an out-of-work actor employed as a security guard and Zack is a plastic surgeon. Their lives collide when Sam’s house is blown up and Zack thinks it’s his family that was killed. The rest of the book is their attempt to identify the person who is holding their families while carrying out the instructions forcing them to become criminals themselves.

The first few chapters are brutal. There is more swearing than I like in the book but it isn’t gratuitous; it does fit the scenario and adds to the atmosphere. The chapters are short which adds to the frantic pace of the action. At times I felt like I needed to stop reading just to catch my breath. The characters are likeable and the story behind the action is great.

This is story about families and what people will do to keep their family safe. It’s a story about relationships; some twisted, some beautiful. It’s a story about brutality and a story about love.

Look for this book when it comes out in August. And block off some time to read it because once you start you won’t be able to put it down.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Me I want to Be by John Ortberg

I've read a lot of books about spiritual growth over the years, alot of them have been by John Ortberg. He is one of my favourite authors and speakers. Some of his other titles are "Everybody's normal till you get to know them", "If you want to walk on water you've got to get out of the boat" and "The Life you've always wanted" to name just three of them. His writing is clear, entertaining and thought provoking. And I generally find lots that I can apply to my life. So, because I've read so many of his books I did wonder if he would have anything new or different to say to me.

I was hooked in the first chapter. He introduces his book by saying that only God knows my full potential and that He is guiding me toward the best version of myself all the time. My uniqueness is designed by God and my spiritual growth is best accomplished when I keep that in mind.

Chapter 4 was my favourite. Find out how you grow. He says that God does not do "one size fits all". What works for one person may not work for me. This made me feel better about not having devotions in the morning. I'm not a morning person, I don't want to talk to anyone in the morning, even God! So normally I will read my Bible and pray in the evening and I enjoy it much more. And God is ok with this. Ortberg says "sustainable spiritual growth happens when I actually want to do what I ought to do (pg.53).

The rest of the book is about finding those things that you want to do that will help you mature and grow in the spiritual life. He talks about temperament; he talks about finding those things that block your growth; he talks about relationships and prayer. His suggestions are practical and filled with grace.

If other spiritual growth books have left you feeling guilty or lazy or both then you owe it to yourself to read this one.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

100 Books Update

13 books in 6 months tells me that I'm never going to meet this goal! I'm hoping the summer will bring some more reading time but I have to stop reading books with over 1,000 pages if I'm going to get even into the 20's before the end of the year!!
Oh well, it's good to have goals right?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Jack by J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb is the alter ego of author Nora Roberts. Nora Roberts books tend to be romance oriented. J.D. Robb writes futuristic mystery novels based on the character Eve Dallas.

This has long been one of my favourite series to follow. There's the inevitable mystery, futuristic police procedures and a nice little romance between the main character Eve Dallas, a New York city police officer and her uber-wealthy, ex-thief turned honest husband.

Big Jack is the continuation of the story started in Nora Roberts book, Hot Rocks. It's based on the story of the descendants of some thieves involved in a diamond heist. Eve's continual battle is against the idea that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. Or can people from horrible and evil families change. This is a theme in most of the books of the series and mirrors Eve's own struggles with her family's lack of moral fiber

I highly recommend looking for these books in used books stores and starting in on the series if you enjoy mysteries with a hint of romance and humour.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Away by Jane Urquhart

This is not my normal kind of reading. I prefer to read multi-layered mysteries with complex and interesting characters. But if you’ve read a few of my previous reviews you will have noticed a theme of evil and mayhem and I decided I really needed a change of pace for a few books.

My sister gave me this for Christmas and it took me a long time to really get into the book. No murder and mayhem but there are complex and interesting characters. It’s a very lyrical almost poetic book. It’s a romance but not just a romance between men and women but between people and their land. The conversations are as taciturn as the people. This story is not driven by dialogue.

It’s a story about a woman in Ireland who falls in love with an injured sailor who washes up on her beach and dies in her arms. The experience changes something in her mind and she becomes “away”. When someone is away they are both here and not here. Her family eventually moves to Canada and the ability to be "away" moves along with them so that future generations are affected by this. As settlers in a new land they face hardship and dangers and even find love.

The writing is beautiful. One of my favourite chapter beginnings is "When summer was finished the family was visited by a series of overstated seasons". You just know that the Fall and Winter are going to be devasting ones by a simple turn of the phrase.

This is a book that should be read on long, lazy afternoons as the story needs to take hold in your mind. It's hard to read in small chunks as the story can become confusing. It's worth reading though so save it for a vacation and spend the day lost in another world that will make you feel as if you've been away.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles

Somehow in the midst of all my packing I’ve managed to read another big book. The Devil’s Punchbowl is a continuation of the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles. At 736 pages it had to be good to keep my attention with everything else that’s going on in my life.

The plot centers around the evil that has come to Penn’s small town where he is now the Mayor. It involves gambling, prostitution and illegal dog fights. There is a bit of a sordid quality about some of the scenes but it is entirely appropriate as much of what he is describing is horrific.

The evil engulfs Penn and his family and most of the book is about the way he deals with it all. The characters are well developed and it’s definitely a page turner. This book won’t appeal to everyone as the subject matter is not the best but the way it’s written and the outcome makes it worth the read.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Contemplating a Kindle

Amazon's Kindle is finally available in Canada. As I mentioned in my last post I'm in the midst of moving and there are a lot of boxes of books! I love being surrounded by books and like being able to hold one in my hands but I've been seriously considering buying a Kindle for the ease of storage and carrying around. I always have a book in my purse and sometimes they are heavy!

So readers of my blog, do you have a Kindle? Do you like it? Is it worth the $300.00 or so that Amazon is currently charging for it? I'd love to hear from any of you that use one.

Or how about a Sony e-reader?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reading Pause

I thought I'd better stop by and say hi. Reading has paused for a couple of very good reasons. 1. I've finally bought my first home and am moving at the end of March. This means that boxes are piling up, some books have been packed and that lots more needs to be done! and 2. The Olympics are here in Vancouver! I've never been a sports fan, I don't watch sports of any kind but I am mesmerized by these Olympic games. I've been glued to my tv set and have learned fun new words like, Twizzle (a one footed, multi-rotational spin in Ice Dancing). I'm fascinated by the fact that each sport has it's own language.

I did buy the next two books in the Healing series by Nancy Rue so will eventually post reviews on those and the Last Days by Joel Rosenberg.

I've started getting requests to review books and will eventually have a policy about what books I will review and how to get them to me.

I'm not abandoning the 100 book challenge. I hope to catch up, eventually.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Inside the Revolution by Joel C. Rosenberg

This isn’t my usual kind of reading material. But my book club wanted to read it and so I embarked on a 3 month reading of this book. It took a long time to go through it; partly because there is so much to digest and partly because it is so big. But I finally finished it last week and now I’m glad that I put in the time and effort to read it.

Joel C. Rosenberg is an author of several fiction books about the Muslim world. His bio says that he is a writer and communications strategist and has worked for some world leaders including Benjamin Netanyahu and Steve Forbes. He is considered an expert on the Middle East.

This is very comprehensive and easy to read. He gives a great deal of information about Iraq, Iran and Islam. The book is divided into three parts. The first part describes the Radicals and their belief that Islam is the answer and Jihad is the way. That was the hardest part to read as you discover more and more about their theology and beliefs behind some of their practices. The second part is about the Reformers; people who still believe that Islam is the answer but that jihad is not the way. These people are working towards reforming Islam and cooperating with the non-Muslim world. The Third part was the most encouraging to read. It’s about the Revivalists who believe that Jesus is the answer to the problems in the Middle East. It was amazing to read the stories about how God is working in this troubled part of the world. If you want to read this book and find the whole thing daunting then start with the end. Read the last few chapters and feeling encouraged, you will be able to cope with the information at the start of the book.

This book will give you hope that God is indeed working in the Middle East. It will also challenge you to do your part in helping Muslim people come to know that Jesus is the answer.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

Louise Penny is a Canadian author and fast becoming one of my favourites of all times. I’ve read all the books so far in her village series and each is better than the last.

In A Rule against Murder we meet once again the main characters from the previous novels. This time the Chief Detective and his wife are on vacation at a luxurious Inn outside the village of Three Pines (the scene of her previous novels). Unfortunately some of the other guests are members of an obnoxious family that are attending a family reunion. Immediately we encounter the layers of story that Penny excels at. There are secrets within secrets and in no time at all, a murder is committed.

Even though this is a murder mystery, the murder is almost a secondary plot line. The story is developed around each character and their secrets. Her writing is poetic. In fact the Detective is often quoting poetry and using it to help solve his crime.

If you haven’t read any of her books before start with the first one, Still Life and continue on. While the stories aren’t continuous the characters are and it’s like getting to know some new friends if you start at the beginning.

I can’t recommend her books highly enough. If you enjoy mysteries and good writing you will like A Rule Against Murder as much as I did.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Healing Sands by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn

Healing Sands was a pleasure to read and hard to put down. I’m trying to read more Christian Fiction and I’m pleasantly surprised at how well written it has become.

Ryan Coe is a photo journalist home from a year in Africa. She moves to New Mexico to be near her sons who are living with her ex-husband. The story opens with her trying to get acclimatized to a new home, new job and new relationship with her children. Things go wrong from the beginning when her 15 year old son is accused of trying to kill his friend Miguel. Ryan needs to find out the true story and along the way confronts her fears, her anger and her failures. As the story progresses she learns to face her fears, control her anger and accept her failures. She’s helped with this by another of the main characters, Sullivan Crisp.

Although the story is about uncontrollable anger and violence there is gentleness in the overall tone. Part of this is achieved by listening in on her therapy sessions. I’ve never been to a counsellor but if I did I would hope it would be one like Sullivan Crisp with a sense of humor and a down to earth attitude about life. The overall treatment of Christian psychology in this book is very positive.

The mystery is good but the pleasure in reading this story comes from the development of the characters. By the end they are no where near perfect but you can see how they’ve grown and the lessons learned along the way are applicable to the real life of the reader.

The book comes with a reading/discussion guide and would make a great book club pick.