Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Moments before Earth is destroyed, Ford Prefect, an alien who's been incognito for 15 years while researching a newer edition of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, rescues his friend, Arthur Dent. The two stow away on a passing spaceship, and their adventures begin. Ford and Arthur encounter ex-hippie Galaxy President Zaphod Beeblebrox; Marvin, the morose robot; and a slew of otherworldly weirdos populating Douglas Adams's cult classic. Stephen Fry's performance is priceless as the interstellar travelers tumble from one near disaster to another. His voice shifts are inspired bits, half schtick, half nonsense. Without editorial comment, Fry injects just the right touches of irony into Adams's cheeky, always hilarious social satire.

Never really had any desire to read this book, the title is too long and really it sounded too science fiction to me. I am in a book challenge and had to read a book that someone gave me. For me to receive a gift of a book is a rare thing (not sure why). I sat and searched my many shelves of books, finally grabbed my Kindle and started pressing buttons and finally came across this one.

My son gave it to me so I read it. I didn't hate it, but also didn't love it. Reminded me of Terry Pratchett and his Discworld Series. I am glad that I read it, it made me smile (even laughed) in places, made me a little confused in a few places too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Having fictionalized Elizabeth Woodville in The White Queen (2009), royal chronicler Gregory now turns to Henry VIII's other indomitable grandmother. The opposite of her alluring Yorkist rival, plain Lancastrian heiress Margaret Beaufort grows up knowing women are useful only for bearing sons, but divine visions grant her an unwavering conviction about her future greatness. At age 12, she weds Lancastrian warrior Edmund Tudor and pours her ambition into his posthumous son, Henry. Constantly separated from her beloved child after her second marriage to a pacifist knight, her frustrations are palpably felt; she later brokers her own union with a crafty turncoat who may be the key to her hopes. While England seethes with discord during the turbulent Wars of the Roses, Margaret's transformation from powerless innocent to political mastermind progresses believably as rival heirs to England's throne are killed in battle, executed, or deliberately eliminated. With constant pronouncements about Margaret's God-given destiny, the approach isn't exactly subtle, but Gregory's vivid, confident storytelling makes this devout and ruthlessly determined woman a worthy heroine for her time.

Even though this book has been sitting on my shelf since its release I never got around to reading it. Last week while at the library I found the audio of it, so it came home with me. I so enjoyed listening to this book. It felt like Margaret Beaufort was sitting with me telling her story. The story was a good, though I did get tired of hearing Margaret's whinning, her 'woe is me' got to be a bit much.

All in all a good listen, and I am looking forward to next 2 in this series.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.

Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining and extraordinarily moving account of small-town Southern life in a bygone era. Brimming with characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Olive Ann Burns’s classic bestseller is a timeless, funny, and resplendent treasure.

The only reason I even read this book was because it was the April read for a book group that I joined. I would never have discovered this book on my own and for that I am grateful. I started out reading the book, then quickly discovered the audio. The audio itself started out very fast, like the reader had a certain time limit to finish, but gradually he slowed down. The other thing was that sentences repeated itself in the audio (very distracting).

The story itself, I loved. It was a story that flowed together nicely. Told from the point of very of 14 years old Will. It was an honest veiw of 1906 Georgia, rich in detail of what life was like back then. The beliefs, the lifestyle, the do and don'ts, so different from today.

If there is anything negative I can find is that it ended too soon, I would have loved to hear more. I understand that there is a small sequel, however the author passed before she could finish it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Fortier’s debut offers a beguiling mix of romance, intrigue, history, and Shakespeare. Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is stunned to find the aunt who raised her has left everything to her self-involved twin, Janice, save for the key to a safe-deposit box in Siena, Italy. Hoping to get some answers about the suspicious deaths of her parents over two decades ago, Julie travels to Siena and learns she’s actually a member of the Tolomeis, a powerful Sienese family. Her first acquaintances in Siena are a vibrant woman and her handsome godson Alessandro, who happen to be members of a rival family, the Salimbenis. Julie can’t figure out why Alessandro seems to dislike her almost instantly, but she’s soon embroiled in the mystery opened up by the safe-deposit box, which contains notebooks and letters belonging to her mother. Soon Julie is engrossed in the historical story of Romeo and his love, Giulietta, and on the trail of a legendary treasure.

Have you ever heard about a new book that is about to be released, seen the cover, read what the book is about and knew instantly that you had to have it and that it would turn into a favorite? That is how I felt when I first heard about Juliet. It had the historical aspect that I love, the mystery, the suspense and adventure. Then add to that some romance (which has to be done the right way, otherwise it is too mushy) and you have Juliet. I just loved this book and can honestly say that I will even reread it. The story line was great, weaving back and forth from present day to 1340, the story flowed nice and smoothly, even with all the twists and turns (that I didn't even see coming).

I highly recommend this book and have added Anne Fortier to my favorite author list.

This book has been added to Where Are You Reading?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

As the spaceship Godspeed travels toward a new earth, the lives of 100 cryogenically frozen settlers hang in the balance after someone endeavors to quietly murder them. The other passengers aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls and are enslaved by the machinations of Eldest, their tyrannical leader, who divides them into three distinct classes. When Amy, a frozen settler from earth, survives being thawed in a murder attempt, she immediately bonds with Elder, Godspeed's lone teen and future leader. Amy’s individuality, her rebellion, and her fierce desire for freedom, inspire Elder to act on his own doubts and defy Eldest--his mentor and keeper--with shocking results. Eldest’s methods of twisting history and altering the lives of this captive community are a frightening echo of tyrants in our own history, and Across the Universe challenges readers to consider the impact of unchecked power, blind trust, and the ability of one dissenting voice to make a difference.

I am not into science fiction at all, fantasy is still new to me, but science fiction holds no appeal at all. So needless to say this book was not on my list of YA Debut books. But while browsing at the library it started calling my name. What is a reader to do when a book starts calling to you? So home it came (not by itself mind you, had to bring some fiends with it too).

So I read and read and read some more, and I have to say I quite enjoyed this book. Took only 4 days and I am done. The first chapters grabbed me and it didn't let go. I felt Amy's emotion at watching her mother frozen, the decision she had to make and then when she was awoken 50 years too soon.

I loved how the ship worked and the twists that happened. I even liked the ending. Will definitely read more by this author.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon,up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

I have wanted to read this 2004 John Newbery Medal Winner for so long. I found this lovely illustrated hardcover at my local Value Village (like a Goodwill) and it just had to come home with me.

Another book that I enjoyed, it had that fairy tale quality that I love. The words just flowed, the writer has a real talent here. Who couldn't help feeling for little Despereaux the 2 oz mouse, or Pea the princess, Mig with her cauliflower ears and even Roscuro the rat (well kinda). However there is some parts that might frighten little ones - Mig being sold my her father and beaten by her 'owner'. Despereaux basically rejected by his family because of his size. Do the four get their 'happy ever after' in the end, well I guess you will have to read the book to find out.