Friday, April 18, 2008

Vacation Time!!!

Lucky us, we're headed to Europe for 2 weeks!! There won't be any posts from us during that time, however when we get back look out for a slew of posts about all of the books we read during our vacation!


Charanavi by Masahiro Tsurumoto

Charanavi (Character Navigation) is a fun little book. By using your birth date you find out what animal you are. I am a harmonious sheep.. Each animal is connected with certain characteristics, somewhat similar to astrology. For the most part I found these to be right on. However according to the book I am supposed to be right brained and I am definitely left brained. There is also a compatibility chart which showed that my husband and I are 20% compatible. Guess we have to work harder at the relationship than others.

I did find that the Great Gift ideas for each animal to be absolutely amazingly true.

This is the type of book that will have you checking out everyone's birth date to find out which animal they are.

The book has some great illustrations and is very colourful. The cover art however detracts from the book as it appears too cluttered.



Strangers In Death

Strangers in Death by J. D. Robb

Strangers in Death is the latest in J. D. Robb's popular series. The book opens with Lieutenant Eve Dallas, a homicide detective, at the murder scene of Thomas Anders, a prominent sporting goods businessman. It looks like a kinky sex game gone wrong. The scandal and sensationalism will surely set tongues a-wagging.

Eve slowly untangles the scene as it just doesn't add up. Security tapes are missing and how did the murderer get in and strangle Anders with no struggle? Ava, his wife, is in the Caribbean and his nephew has a rock solid alibi.

Anders on one hand is portrayed as a philanthropist and the other as a sex fiend. No mysterious payments have been made. There are no unexpected phone calls to or from. Who could have murdered him? Will this person finally outsmart Eve?

Eve is a hard ass cop with a heart of gold. She goes out of her way to help a young boy who uncovers a scam. She helps her friends and then turns around and is an absolute bitch in a police interview with a potential suspect.

I have read the first 6 in this series and found no major spoilers to spoil the intervening books. Eve is more comfortable in accepting Roarke's help in investigation and even requests his help. It is always fascinating to read of the technological help Roarke can provide.

Eve and Roarke still have sizzle. They are more 'in sync' with each other but still have a tiff about money. It is interesting to see how Eve has grown in the relationship.

I am amazed at how after 25 books in the series Robb can write a book that is so riveting.

First Line: "Murder harbored no bigotry, no bias."



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Strip Jack by Ian Rankin

Strip Jack by Ian Rankin

Book 4 of the Inspector Rebus sees Rebus back in Scotland fighting crime! This time, he's called in to 'Operation Creeper' - a raid of a brothel. Rebus wonders who told the press when he arrives at the brothel and they are already there waiting. Soon Rebus learns why, MP Gregor Jack is inside and this will be front page news. It still smells like a set up to Rebus and he starts to investigate further, finding out the Jack's wife is MIA. When she later turns up dead in a river, Rebus tries to put together all the pieces and find out whom is lying to bring light to who the murderer is.

Rebus has moved into the flat of his girlfriend, Patience. I only read book 3 a couple of months ago and I don't remember any mention of her at all, and all of the sudden Rebus is living with Patience? Did I forget some obvious plot line or what? I don't think this relationship is going to last very long. In the end, Rebus and Gill will probably end up together, which would be nice!

I was also very happy to see Inspector Flight from England make a reappearance in this book. He was in book 3 and was a great character. Hopefully he pops up whenever Rankin can fit him in. I'm also enjoying Holmes, Rebus' new sidekick.

Not the best Rebus book out there, but still enjoyable!

First Line: "The wonder of it was that the neighbours hadn't complained, hadn't even - as many of them later told the newsmen - realized."



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Secret (Post Secret) by Anon

My Secret by Anon

If you don't know anything about Post Secret, you should familiarize yourself.

My mom brought home this book from the Oakville bookcrossing meetup. I've been reading Post Secret regularly online for a while now so I took the book and sat down with it and read it until I came to a point in the book, about half way through, where I recognized the faces of people. The secret reads "I still look at your 3rd grade picture and think what might have happened if I hadn't moved 825 miles away". The picture is a yearbook style picture (double page spread in black and white with a red heart in the bottom left hand corner for all those that read this book after I do).

I immediately recognized 2 faces, then after looking closer, I could pick out about 6 people I recognized. This is the other third grade class from my elementary school! I don't know who sent this in, or who the boy is with the heart around him, but how weird is that!



Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Town Like Alice

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

Noel, a lawyer searches for a young girl who is going to get an inheritance. When he finds her she tells her story and what a story it is. She was brought up in Mayalsia, came back to Britain then returned to Malaysia to work as a steno just about the time of the outbreak of WWII. There were parties every night and it was a fantastic time.

Then the Japanese invaded and Jean was caught up-country unprepared. The Japanese had no idea what to do with these women and no commander wanted to take charge of them so they walked and walked. They walked thousands of miles. The conditions, of course were deplorable. Many died. The women were forced to watch the torture of a person who had helped them. Finally when their only guard dies they remain for the rest of the war in a small town helping with the planting of the rice.

Jean wishes to help the town who helped the women with some of her inheritance. What she learns in this small town then changes her life forever.

This is a very readable book with delightful characters. Nevil Shute has a way of pulling one into the story. Although written in 1950 the story still is interesting and keeps the reader's attention.

First Line: "James MacFadden died in 1905 when he was forty-seven years old; he was riding in the Driffield Point-to-Point"



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Girl Cook by Hanna McCouch

Girl Cook by Hannah McCouch
Chick Lit

Layla is a graduate of the somewhat prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school in France. While she dreams of being put on saute, she can't seem to get off making the salads in what's described as a "man's world". Her boss is a complete jerk who treats her horribly and basically dares her to quit. To make matters, worse, Layla's love life isn't going anywhere either. Layla needs to find a new job, and a new man!

Typical to any chick lit, this was very easy to read and very predictable. It was interesting to have a different backdrop for the story though - that being of a professional kitchen. The writing wasn't the best, the story line wasn't the best, but it was a nice break from the more serious stuff I've been reading recently.

First Line: "I've been tossing mesclun greens in the garde-manger at Tacoma for the past nine months, and I'm about to lose my shit."



Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Big Cherry Holler

Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani

It has been 8 years since Ave Maria married Jack Mac. They have a beautiful and vivacious daughter and they have lost a son to leukemia. This is the continuing story. It is a story of a small town community where everyone knows everyone else. The community helps everyone in need and selfish less is displayed even in helping those who had 'done them wrong'

Jack loses his coal mining job and starts up a new business while Ave Maria decides to return to full-time work in the pharmacy without even telling Jack. There is also a woman flirting with Jack who he has to deal with on a constant basis. When Ave Maria decides to take their daughter to Italy in the summer, Jack decides to stay at home. Their marriage is on the line, especially when Ave Maria meets an American who falls in love with her.

This is also a story about marriage. It is about the expectations and struggles. It is about communication between husband and wife. It is about power struggle and betrayal and deep abiding love. It is about two lovers who have to find their way back to each other.

I found this story to be full of good advice. This story made me think about my own marriage and what is important.

First Line: "The rain is coming down on this old stone house so hard, it seems there are a hundred tap dancers on the roof"



Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

When Noel Strachan becomes the executor of a client's will, he has a big of digging to do to determine who in the family has survived the war and who will be the beneficiary of his client's estate. He eventually finds his client's niece, Jean Paget. Miss Paget was a prisoner of war while she was in Malaya during the WWII, but she was not a typical prisoner. Her and a group of women were set wandering from town to town until the Japanese could figure out what to do with them. During this wandering Jean met Joe, an Australian, who was required to fix the transport for the Japanese. However when Joe was caught stealing, he was crucified and assumed dead.

When Jane learns of her inheritance, she tells Noel (and consequently the reader) her story. She sets out to travel back to this small town where she had settled down to repay them for their kindness. However she learns about other people she met during her time in the country, which changes her journey plans.

It becomes evident very quickly that this book was written in the 40s/50s. It has a relaxed nature to it and all of the characters are very polite and proper. Even with the slow pace, it captures you from the very start. While I can't say I loved any of the characters, I certainly cared enough to learn about what was going to happen to them. I did enjoy Jean though, she is a very business-oriented character, which I imagine would be hard to find a women of such outward business orientation in those days.

There was one part of the book though that I felt didn't fit. It seemed that the part of Mr. Curtis from the neighbouring station getting lost was just put in the book to extend it by an extra couple of pages. Looking back, I can't really see what purpose it served.

Other than that, a quaint book! I enjoyed it and I've been told that On the Beach is another Nevil Shute book that would make a good read.

First Line: "James Macfadden died in March 1905 when he was forty-seven years old; he was riding in the Driffield Point-to-Point."



Morality for Beautiful Girls

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
Cozy Mystery

Mma Ramotswe is encountering her share of problems as founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. She is having financial difficulties which she resolves by spending more. Her fiancee the reliable Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is not taking an interest in anything. Of course Mma Ramorswe solves this problem also.

This time Mma Ramotswe is asked to find out who is poisoning an important Government Man's family. Her agency is also asked to investigate the characters of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest.

Every problem has a solution and all is dispensed with a healthy dose of morality. Alexander McCall Smith might be likened to Aesop in his tales. Each has a story and a moral to that story

First Line: "Mma Ramotswe, the daughter of the late Obed Ramotswe of Mochudi, near Gaborone, Botswana, Africa, was the announced fiancee of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, son of the late Pumphamilitse Matekoni, of Tlokweng, peasant farmer and latterly chief caretaker of the Railway head Office"



Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Double

The Double by Jose Saramago

Jose Saramago writes incredible literature. Those liking to read well written novels will not be disappointed with The Double. This is a philosophical outstanding read.

Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a secondary school history teacher. A video is recommended to him and he finds it 'ho hum'. In the middle of the night he is awoken to find the video playing and a bit player resembles him. He decides to pursue the double and find out more about him. It seems he is identical even down to the scar on his knee. What ensues is an increasingly dark tale.

Saramago goes off in tangents constantly while telling the tale. It is however so well written the reader forgives this. Also punctuation is non-existent. This makes telling who is talking in a conversation difficult and worse makes for picking up the book to continue reading even more difficult.

The ending is what makes the book. It is designed to make you think and think you will.

First Line: "The man who has just come into the shop to rent a video bears on his identity card a most unusual name, a name with a classical flavor that time has staled, neither more nor less than Tertuliano Maximo Afonso."