Friday, May 27, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

Continuing my quest to read Newbery Award winners I read this 1963 Winner. It was a quick easy read, mostly because I wanted to see if Meg and Charles would find their father, did they? You will have to read for yourself.

Though science fiction is not my thing (I think I have mentioned that before), I did enjoy this one, it had just the right amount of science fiction. I loved the characters and each one so different, Meg is the protagonist, but I gotta say I loved her little brother Charles Wallace, he was just a little quirky (reminded me of one of my kids). Even Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which added so much to the story. There was also a mother and twin siblings left a home, but hopefully we will see more them in the 3 sequels that are out.

This book added to Where Are You Reading?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of faerie, and it’s up to her to get him back safely. Having already decided to grow up to be a witch, now all Tiffany has to do is find her power. But she quickly learns that it’s not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches don’t use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything that’s going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffany’s also got the Nac Mac Feegles, or the Wee Free Men on her side. Small, blue, and heavily tattooed, the Feegles love nothing more than a good fight except maybe a drop of strong drink! Tiffany, heavily armed with an iron skillet, the feisty Feegles, and a talking toad on loan from Miss Tick, is a formidable adversary. But the Queen has a few tricks of her own, most of them deadly. Tiffany and the Feegles might get more than they bargained for on the flip side of Faerie!

This is a stand alone DiscWorld book, though the first of 3 books in series. I have wanted to read this ever since reading Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (which I have read 3 times, so I must love it).

Did I love Tiffany as much as Maurice? No I didn't, but that is not to say I didn't enjoy this book. I could see myself rereading it. I think with Prachett rereading is necessary because there are is always so many quirky one liners that you missed the first time.

What I loved about this book was Tiffany's drive, she knew what she wanted and by golly nothing was getting in her way. Not Miss Tick (her loans Tiffany her talking frog), Rob Anybody and I smiled everytime 'Slightly Bigger Than Wee Jock But Not So Big as Middle-Sized Jock Jock' had something to say.

Looking forward to A Hat Full of Sky and see what happens next.

This book NOT added to Where Are You Read? (because really I don't where Discworld is)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Sonía, 16, thinks that sunny metaphors that portray America as a melting-pot are nonsense. Her parents are illegals, driven north by poverty across the Mexican border, but she was born in the U.S. and is determined to graduate from high school. Her struggle is part Cinderella fairy tale and part contemporary immigrant realism, as she is forced to cook and clean for her family and must stay up past midnight to get her homework done. Candid about the prejudice not only toward Latinos but also within the Latino community (her gorgeous, tender boyfriend is Salvadoran, so he must be kept secret), Sonía’s first-person narrative expresses her fury at her family, including her mother, who still doesn’t speak English and treats Sonía as a servant; her macho brothers; and especially her drunk uncle (druncle), who tries to rape her. But Papi works three jobs, and he is her strong support, and after Sonía visits Mexico, she gains new respect for her roots. Sonía’s immediate voice will hold teens with its mix of anger, sorrow, tenderness, and humor.

I would never have picked this book up if it wasn't for a Challenge that I am involved with on Goodreads. I had to find a book on or about Mexico in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Originally I was going to read The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz, but I wasn't in the mood for it.

I had a wander at one of my favorite book stores, The Book Depot, it is a huge store and not the kind of place you can run in real fast, grab a book and leave. So wandering the Young Adult section I found this book.

Picked it up Wed, Friday morning I started and finished on Saturday morning. I just couldn't put it down, it grabbed me right away. Sonja's character was well developed. I felt alot of empathy for her and was rooting for her the entire book. I wanted to give the mother a good shaking and the brothers something else. And of course I wondered about papa, but he did show up (sorry no spoilers here). I loved the ending, thought it was great. On the negative side I think that I would have like to see Sonja stand up for herself, though maybe in that culture it would be a difficult thing to do, I don't know.

One thing I would really like to read is a sequel now.

This book added to Where Are You Reading?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Revente

International bestseller Pérez-Reverte (The Club Dumas) offers a winning swashbuckler set in 17th-century Spain. Hooded figures, apparently acting on the behalf of Fray Emilio Bocanegra, "president of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition," hire famed soldier Capt. Diego Alatriste to murder two Englishmen who have come to Madrid. One of the hooded figures, however, begs Alatriste (out of earshot of the others) only to wound the pair. When Alatriste and his fellow assassin, an ill-humored Italian, surprise the British, the captain is impressed by the fighting spirit they show, and he prevents the assassination from taking place. (The Italian, infuriated, swears eternal revenge.) When the Englishmen turn out to be on an important mission, Alatriste suddenly finds himself caught between a number of warring factions, Spanish and otherwise. Splendidly paced and filled with a breathtaking but not overwhelming sense of the history and spirit of the age, this is popular entertainment at its best: the characters have weight and depth, the dialogue illuminates the action as it furthers the story and the film-worthy plot is believable throughout.

I have had this book on my shelf for a couple of years, it sounded great and the cover looked all mysterious. This is apparently the first in a series, will I continue? I have my doubts.

To put it mildly, I found this book boring, it was slow moving, there was too much stuff that did not pertain to the story. There were poems there, it almost seemed like a filler. The story itself was interesting and I would really have liked to see it developed more.

This book added to Where Are You Read?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Call of Zulina by Kay Marshall Strom

The Grace in Africa series is a sweeping three-part historical saga of slavery and freedom that takes the reader from an island off the west coast of Africa to Southern plantations and finally on to Canada. All her life, Grace Winslow, the daughter of a mixed marriage between an English sea captain and an African princess, has been sheltered from the truth about the family business--the capture and trade of slaves.

Set in 1787 in West Africa, The Call of Zulina opens as the scorching harmattan winds blow. Desperate to avoid marriage to an odious suitor, Grace escapes the family compound only to be caught up in a slave revolt at the fortress of Zulina. Soon, she begins to grasp the brutality and ferocity of the family business. Held for ransom, viciously maimed by a runaway slave, and threatened with death, Grace is finally jerked into reality and comes to sympathize with the plight of the captives. She admires their strength and courage and is genuinely moved by the African Cabeto’s passion, determination, and willingness to sacrifice anything, including his own life, for his people’s freedom.

This was a freebie from Amazon, I would never have read or discovered this author if I had to pay for it. I am glad to read it.

Previously I have read about John Newton and his slave trading along with his conversion. This book took on the other side, from those captured and readied for a voyage to American. It was tagged as Christian Fiction, however I did not find it preachy. It was an emotional read that showed how real the slave trade was and I can't help but feel for these people. To have men grab people off the street and take them away, never to be heard from again. So sad.

Looking forward to reading the next book.

This book added to Where Are You Read?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

Though well aware of her cousin Anne Boleyn’s fate only four years earlier, 15-year-old Catherine Howard acquiesces with her ambitious, conniving relatives’ plans and marries King Henry VIII. He calls her “my rose without a thorn,” but she is well aware of the thorny secrets she conceals: no virgin when she and the king married, she later begins a sexual liaison at court, partly in a desperate effort to produce an heir. Soon, Catherine begins a downward spiral toward madness and despair. An author’s note separates historical fact from conjecture in this account of Catherine’s short years as Henry’s “rose.” Libby offers a convincing, sympathetic portrayal of a young woman who relinquishes her hopes of marrying for love and finds herself doomed by her choices and deceptions. Hardly an active heroine, Catherine falls into a trap early on and, in the end, has little left but her dignity. This one’s for historical-fiction fans who will appreciate this character study of Henry’s fifth wife.

I have read other books about Katherine Howard, this is the first from her point of view. Just as her cousin, Anne Boleyn, was a pawn for the Howards so was it for Katherine. I really enjoyed this book, it showed a side of Katherine that I have never seen before. An immature 15 year old girl, suddenly catching the eye of King Henry and becomes his 5th wife. Forced to forget her previous 15 years and become 'the rose without a thorn'.

An emotional book that showed the confused and emotional side of Katherine that was a refreshing change.

I recommend this book.

Added to Where Are You Reading

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders." Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and introducing "an inspiring heroine" (The Wall Street Journal), Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.

This was an audio book and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. The author did the reading and I felt her voice lent well to the story, bringing it to life.

This is my first book by Geraldine Brooks and will not be my last. I felt the emotion of Anna with all she endured during that year of the Plague. I could very easily picture the village in my mind along with the characters and the despair that they felt.

There was one scene towards the end of the book that I felt wasn't necessary and seemed out of the place. A lot of reviews criticized the ending, but I didn't mind it.

The book added to Where Are You Reading