Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Alice I Have Been by Melaine Benjamin

Alice I Have Been by Melaine Benjamin
Alice Liddell Hargreaves's life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she's experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only "Alice." Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year-the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice-he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice's childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

This was an interesting novel, it got rave reviews so I was excited to read it. But I gotta say I really had a hard time getting into this book. I just found the relationship between Alice and Mr. Dodgson rather disturbing. At first I thought it was just me, but I searched a little harder and did find some reviews that had the same feeling as myself. After Alice got older and didn't associate with Mr Dodgson anymore I liked the book much better. An interesting life for Alice and I do have to admit that I never knew Alice was based on a real person. I have never read Alice in Wonderland before, but now it is part of my March to read pile.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Great contest

Check out this link for a great contest.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I listened to the audio for this book. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. I do have to say that this is really the first time I did the audio and I loved it. I put it on my ipod and listened while cleaning the house. I think that I like the audio and will do it again (enjoy having a rather clean place to boot.)

I have read Nicholas Sparks books before and I find them to be predictable. Sometimes a happy ending and sometimes not. I found this book not one of his best. There are so many glowing reviews for this book and I didn't think it was that good. Most likely I won
't be picking up any of his books in the near future, the ending was somewhat depressing and sad. I don't really want to say too much more, not that anyone is reading this blog.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Constant Princess by Phillippa Gregory

The Constant Princess of Phillippa Gregory
is the first in the Tudor Series, though wasn't written in order. I have read The Other Boleyn Girl before and was looking forward to reading this series in order.

Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both rulers and warriors. Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land.

Her faith is tested when her prospective father-in-law greets her arrival in her new country with a great insult; Arthur seems little better than a boy; the food is strange and the customs coarse. Slowly she adapts to the first Tudor court, and life as Arthur's wife grows ever more bearable. But when the studious young man dies, she is left to make her own future: how can she now be queen, and found a dynasty? Only by marrying Arthur's young brother, the sunny but spoilt Henry. His father and grandmother are against it; her powerful parents prove little use. Yet Katherine is her mother's daughter and her fighting spirit is strong. She will do anything to achieve her aim; even if it means telling the greatest lie, and holding to it.

Philippa Gregory proves yet again that behind the apparently familiar face of history lies an astonishing story: of women warriors influencing the future of Europe, of revered heroes making deep mistakes, and of an untold love story which changes the fate of a nation.

I enjoyed this book, it did grab me right away even though at times is was lacking something (though I can't say what). I felt for Princess Catalina to not have control of what would happens with her life and to be in a country so far from family. She was very determined that she would one day be the Queen, even after the death of Prince Arthur, but the near constant mention of this was a bit much after awhile. But all in all, I liked it, will continue with the Tudor series, Gregory has a gift for story telling, her books are easy to read and full of history, which I like. How much to believe as actual history, I guess is up to the reader.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Deliverance by James Dickey

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the states most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

One of Time Lifes 100 Novels. I was told by my family not to read it. Since we are a canoe tripping family and I actually went on a trip last year and hope to go again this week, they didn't want to freak me out. So was I freaked out? No I wasn't. I found the book a little slow going at the beginning, but it quickly picked up speed. I finished in a couple of days. I found it suspenceful enough, but slow in a few places. The ending was interesting, though I thought there might be a twist of some sorts, but there wasn't. Only a couple characters were well developed, the other 2 I didn't know much about, even the bad, it would have been nice to know a little about them, who they were and why they did what they did.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Abel's Island by William Steig

Abel's Island by William Steig is one of the 1977 Honor Award Winner.

One summer day, newlywed mice Abel and Amanda are out for a picnic in the woods when they are caught in a sudden storm--a "full-fledged, screaming hurricane" to be precise. As they take refuge in a cave, a wind scoops up Amanda's scarf, and Abel foolishly lunges from safety to retrieve it. So begins William Steig's Newbery Honor Book Abel's Island, the ensuing adventures of this rather foppish mouse as he comes head to head with nature. Amazingly, Abel is swept up in a stream, then a river, then eventually marooned on an island (about 12,000 tails long). He is sure that his rescue is imminent: "It's certainly gotten around that Abelard Hassam di Chirico Flint, of the Mossville Flints, is missing," the society mouse speculates. But he is not so lucky. What will this intelligent, imaginative rodent do to get off the island and back to his beloved Amanda? He busies himself with finding ways to get to shore (including bridges, boats, catapults, stepping stones, and gliders); figuring out what he should eat (everything from mulberries to roasted seeds); and investigating where he should take shelter (in a rotten log). As the weeks and months go by, he misses his books, his paintings, his comfortable stuffed chair, his stylish clothes (now damp, torn, and lumpy), but above all his precious wife Amanda, whom he thinks about constantly. As the mouse faces his new life Robinson Crusoe-style, Abel discovers what it's like to be in tune with the natural world as well as his true nature, and what it's like to return, fortified, to his real home and to the arms of the one he loves. Along the way, readers can't help but rediscover the joys of being alive. (Ages 8 and older, but an engaging read-aloud for younger children, too)

This is a charming book and I loved it. Can't wait one day to read it chapter by chapter to one of my grandkids. The writing style by the author I really liked. The story flowed smoothly throughout the book. I felt compassion for Abel, missing his wife and all the comforts from home. It was a great learning lesson for Abel to figure out how to survive on his own and to show that no matter the situation you are in, you can survive if you want to.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Here is one of the 2001 Honor Winners - Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

One summer day, Opal goes into a supermarket and comes out with a scraggly dog that she names Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, her preacher father finally tells her ten things about her absentee mother, and Opal makes lots of unusual friends in her quirky Florida town. And because of Winn-Dixie, Opal grows to learn that friendship -- and forgiveness -- can sneak up on you like a sudden storm.

It was a quick and easy read and an enjoyable one to boot. I read the condensed, movie version of the book and wish that I had gotten the original one. I guess that means I will have to keep my eye open at my favorite used books stores.

It is a story of love, friendship, forgiveness and just going that step further to help someone else instead of always yourself.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crispin - The Cross of Lead

The 2003 Newbery Winner - Crispin - The Cross of Lead by Avi and I think is was a well deserved win.

In fourteenth-century England a nameless thirteen-year-old peasant boy, who thought he had little to lose, finds himself with even less. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a "wolf''s head," meaning that anyone can kill him on sight. To remain alive the boy must flee his tiny village, taking with him only his newly revealed name -- Crispin -- and his mother''s cross of lead.

I am not into medieval time period books, though I am trying to broaden my horizons, so started this with an open mind. It grabbed me right away. I felt for Asta's son as he lost his mother, his only family. Then to be accused of something that he did not do and then to be labeled a 'wolf's head', it was hard not to feel compassion for him. I had a hard time putting this book down. I wanted to see what was going to happen and with each page turn the mystery only deepened. The characters were real and believable as was the landscape which totally matched the time period. The wide range of emotions I felt throughout the book was amazing - grief, sorrow, compassion and vengance, just to name a few.

I see there is a sequel and I am off to find it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

This was the 2005 Newbery Winner. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, I started this book with no idea what it was about. It was an honest story, told my Katie a 10 year old girl. It follows life with her sister Lynn, her parents and little brother. Life is not easy, there was laughter and tears in this heartbreaking story.

I enjoyed and will be sure to look for more from this author.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

I loved this book. The Sisters Grimm - The Fairy Tale Detectives. This is the first book in a series and so far I think there are 8 books. I definitely plan on reading them all.

"For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life hasn't been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother - a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy-tale detectives. Their first case? A roller-coaster ride of an adventure to stop a giant from destroying their new hometown."

This book grabbed my attention right away. It had the mystery, suspence, adventure that I found very entertaining. It is hard to give a review without any spoilers. Lots of different characters but not overpowering. The story flowed nicely right to the end.

Now I am on the search for a book The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tale book. Guess I am off to my favorite used book store first off. For any books that cost over $10 I head to this favorite store of mine. I call it the fire hazard store, piles and piles of books everywhere. It is in an old house, one of the upstairs bedrooms is just children's books. I could spend hours in there looking for a hidden treasure, and I have found many. I once asked the owner about the fire department, I was took they come and do regular inspections and the place passes.