Friday, October 31, 2008

The Island by Victoria Hislop

First sentence:

"A cold wind whipped through the narrow streets of Plaka and the chill of the autumnal air encircled the woman, paralysing her body and mind with a numbness that almost blocked her senses but could do nothing to alleviate her grief."


"On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone's throw from the tiny deserted island of Spinalonga -- Greece's former leper colony. There she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters, and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip. . ." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a very moving and poignant book about family and adversity. I liked interactions of the characters and how Alexis learns about her mother's family and why her mother Sofia never talked about them until now.

Date read: 9/23/2008
Book #: 70
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0755309510
IBSN-13: 9780755309511
Publisher: Headline Review
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 473
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip

First sentence:

"Morgon of Hed met the High One's harpist one autumn day when the trade-ships docked at Tol for the season's exchange of goods."


"Long ago, the wizards had vanished from the world, and all knowledge was left hidden in riddles. Morgon, prince of the simple farmers of Hed, proved himself a master of such riddles when he staked his life to win a crown from the dead Lord of Aumn.

But now ancient, evilforces were threatening him. Shape changers began replacing friends until no man could be trusted. So Morgon was forced to flee hostile kingdoms, seeking the High One who ruled from mysterious Erlenstar Mountain.

Beside him went Deth, the High One's Harper. Ahead lay strange encounters and terrifying adventures. And with him always was the greatest of unsolved riddles -- the nature of three stars on his forehead that seemed to drive him toward his ultimate destiny." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this fantasy featuring Morgon, prince of Hed, who seeks the truth about the stars on his forehead and the destiny that awaits him. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Heir of Sea and Fire.

Date read: 9/21/2008
Book #: 69
Series: Riddle-Master #1
Challenge: Naming Conventions Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0345288815
ISBN-13: 9780345288813
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 1976
# of Pages: 222
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Friday, October 17, 2008

Signals of Distress by Jim Crace

First sentence:

"Both men were en voyage and sleeping in their berths."


"In the winter of 1836 the Belle of Wilmington is wrecked off Wherrytown. The Captain and his American sailors flirt, drink, brawl, repair the damage to their ship. . .and inflict fresh damage on the town. Another visitor marooned far from home is Aymer Smith, a man brimming with good intentions both for the Belle's black slave cook Otto and for himself, a virgin and a blunderer in search of a wife.

Amid the haunting, monumental landscape and a wealth of characters that rival Dickens's most enduring creations, the hopes and hazards of the Old World are pitched -- unforgetably -- against the New." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was a poignant and thoughtful book. Aymer Smith reminded me a little of Eugene Henderson in Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King. Both characters try so hard to do the right thing, and often their efforts make things worse. I liked the interactions between Aymer Smith and the townspeople of Wherrytown and the American sailors.

Date read: 9/18/2008
Book #: 68
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0140276106
ISBN-13: 9780140276107
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 1994
# of Pages: 276
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's in a Name? Challenge

Annie is hosting this interesting challenge. Between January 1 and December 31, 2008, participants must read 1 book in each of 6 different categories. Below, I will list the six categories and their respective books:

1. A book with a color in its title: The Red Room by Nicci French -- finished 1/12/2008
2. A book with a first name in its title: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke -- finished 4/25/2008
3. A book with a weather event in its title: Night Frost by R.D. Wingfield -- finished 6/27/2008
4. A book with an animal in its title: Top Dog by Jerry Jay Carroll -- finished 7/14/2008
5. A book with a plant in its title: Nathaniel's Nutmeg by Giles Milton -- finished 7/17/2008
6. A book with a place in its title: Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White -- finished 9/4/2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt


"From the moment Homo Sapiens descended from the trees, possibly onto their heads, humanity has striven towards civilization. Fire. The Wheel. Running Away from furry things with more teeth than one might reasonably expect—all are testament to man's ultimate supremacy. It is a noble story and so, of course, complete and utter fiction. For one man has discovered the hideous truth: that humanity's ascent to civilization has been ruthlessly guided by a small gang of devious frogs. The man’s name is David Perkins, and his theory is not, on the whole, widely admired, particularly not by the frogs themselves, who had invested a great deal of time and effort in keeping the whole thing quiet." -- from the publisher

My thoughts:

While I found parts of this book amusing, especially David's interactions with the clones and the frogs, I felt that the storyline was repetitive at times and was sometimes hard to follow.

Date read: 9/14/2008
Book #: 67
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fantasy

ISBN-10: 1841491101
ISBN-13: 9781841491103
Publisher: Atom
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 416
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lords of Light by Steven Spruill

First sentence:

"I have done all I can to make sure no one but me will ever read this diary."


"At twenty-five, Dr. Jenn Hrulska is a promising resident in neurology. Her beauty and warmth draw people to her, and yet she chooses to be alone - for her white doctor's coat hides a vampire's body. Jenn is a hemophage: she must feed on blood, or she will die. She has managed to defy her genetic compulsion to kill and a millennium of lonely life stretches ahead of her.

Then a charismatic young doctor named Michael Avalon steps into her life. Helpless to resist her powerful and growing feelings for him, Jenn tries to convince herself she could survive when, inevitably, she loses him. But when Michael reveals an astonishing truth about himself, he gives Jenn the greatest hope of her life, and draws her into a war between two families - the rulers of darkness and the lords of light - which threatens the extinction of her kind . . ." - from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book featuring hemophages (vampires) and angels. I especially liked the interactions between the angel Michael and the hemophage Jenn and between the angel Uziel and the hemophage Chemosh.

Date read: 9/10/2008
Book #:
Challenge: TBR Challenge 2008
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Dark Fantasy

ISBN-10: 0340708123
ISBN-13: 978-340708125
Publisher: New English Library
# of pages: 308
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008

Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008

When: May - September 2008
Hosted by: "Thoughts of Joy"
What: Read five non-fiction books. At least one should be in a genre different from the others - for example: 4 memoirs, 1 history

My choices (in no particular order):

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What an Animal! Challenge

What an Animal! Challenge

When: July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009
What: Read at least six books that feature either an animal in the title, an animal on the cover, an animal that plays a major role, or a main character that is or turns into an animal.

My list:

Rider at the Gate by C.J. Cherryh


"Rider at the Gate is the first in a two-book series chronicling the existence of human colonists stranded on a planet whose only native life forms are linked by telepathy, sending sensory images to one another enhanced by powerful emotions. One of these species, the "nighthorse," befriends the humans, and together they form a bond of mutual protection--the nighthorses guard their riders against the planet's mind-clouding predators, while the humans provide them with food and shelter. Once matched, the two experience a companionship more profound than either has ever known before. The story continues in Cloud's Rider."-- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this story which featured people and horses who can communicate with each other using images. I especially liked the interactions between Guil and his horse Burn and between Danny and his horse Cloud.

Date read: 9/9/2008
Book #: 65
Challenge: Celebrate the Author Challenge, Initials Reading Challenge, Summer Reading Thing Challenge
Series: Nighthorse, #1
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0446603457
ISBN-13: 9780446603454
Publisher: Aspect
Year: 1996
No. of Pages: 496
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing Page

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chunkster Challenge 2008

When: January 7 - December 20, 2008
What: Read at least 4 books. Each book must be at least 450 pages regular type or 750 pages large text. See more information at the link above.

My picks

Tad Williams. The Dragonbone Chair (768 pp.) -- finished 2/9/2008
Susannah Clarke. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (846 pp.) -- finished 4/25/2008
Simon R. Green. Deathstalker Rebellion (519 pp.) -- finished 8/18/2008
A. A. Attansio. Wyvern (693 pp.) -- finished 8/29/2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White

First sentence:

"What chance did Stephen Michael have of winning his Toss?"


"It's 50 degrees below zero.

The wind and snow blow so hard, you can't see your hand in front of your face. Your heating fuel is nearly gone, and so is your food. How do you survive?

Five fourteen-year-olds face this desperate situtation on a deadly journey in Antarctica. It is 2083. They are contestants on a reality TV show, Antarctic Survivor, which is set up to re-create Robert F. Scott's 1912 doomed attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole.

But in 2083 reality TV is not just an act. Contestants literally relive -- or die during -- the simulations of events. Robert Scott and his team were experienced explorers and scientists, but their attempt to reach the Pole proved fatal. What chance does the Antarctic Survivor team have?

This action-packed, riveting adventure-- full of fascinating, direct quotes from Scott's journals and other accounts of the expedition -- is both a heart-wrenching drama from the past and a disquieting glimpse into the future." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

At first I wasn't sure if I would like this book as I thought the premise was cliched. However, soon I found myself enjoying the story as the young teens face many challenges both in Antarctica and back home. I liked the mix of historical events (Scott's expedition) and current events in a future where television ratings determine everything.

Date read: 9/4/2008
Book #: 64
Challenge: What's in a Name? Challenge
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: YA/Adventure

ISBN-10: 006055455X
ISBN-13: 9780060554552
Publisher: Eos
Year: 2005
# of Pages: 318
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing Page