Sunday, August 31, 2008


Princess by Jean P. Sasson

This book is about women in Saudi Arabia. Women are merely possessions of first their father and then their husband. How these women are treated even by supposedly understanding men is absolutely despicable. A woman is raped and then stoned to death for being promiscuous. Another woman is shut in a dark room for the remainder of her life with no interaction with another human being because she dared to fall in love with a Christian. No Saudi man could actually love a woman because if they did this just wouldn't happen.

The book also shows how arrogant, selfish and self-centred these men are. They profess to be extremely religious and when they seem to be out of reach of the Mutawas do whatever they want. They seem to have no morals at all.

Besides all the stories of the oppression of woman there were also stories about the extreme wealth of the royal family. Maybe this is the actual source of the problems as there are no limits and boundaries. I was amazed at the spending with no thought as to a price tag.

First Line: "In a land where kings still rule, I am a princess."



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart

Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart

When two teens go missing after another two are shot, they become the prime suspects in the case. However, there are many who are close to the missing teens who don't believe this is true and they hire a PI, Mallory Russo, ex-cop, to figure out what really happened. Russo however, isn't without ghosts from her past. She ratted out her partner and was shunned from the force, being forced to quit for fear that she wouldn't get backup when she needed. She delves into the investigation of this case, thankful to get back into the work that she loves. During her investigation, she meets the detective set to take her place. The two fall into a routine of sharing information to solve this case.

While this book was incredibly easy to read, it wasn't the best plot. Everything was way too predictable and the romance was cheesy. While I enjoyed Russo's tanacity and indepedence, I was annoyed by the constant reminder that she was a "good guy".

The ending of the book is set up well for a sequal. I'm just not sure it's a book I would pick up again.

First Line: "From the top of the jetty to the rocks below was roughly twelve feet, give or take."



The Magician's Assistant

Tha Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett

When Parsifal, a magician, dies his widow Sabine finds out that his family did not die in an accident but are very much alive in Nebraska. This book is like an onion that must be unpeeled layer by layer. Sabine sets out on a path to discover why Parsifal denied his family. With each turn she learns something new, along the way finding out about herself.

Patchett has written a compelling read. I loved how the two dead characters visited her in her dreams.

First Line: "Parsifal is dead."



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Princess by Jean P. Sasson

Princess by Jean P. Sasson

Sultana is a princess in Saudi Arabia, a land of Arabs who believe that the male is the dominant sex and that females should not have opinions, be educated, or be able to choose. She doesn't give her real name for fear of retribution, but you wonder how people reading the book could not know that it's her when she has given so many of her life details. Sultana grew up in a household where her father preferred Sultana's brother. She resented the fact that she and her sisters were ignored and resolved to try and change the way her family, and possibly Saudi Arabia, viewed females. Sultana has a fiery spirit which affects all aspects of her life.

Stories are told of women who are raped then stoned to death for being "promiscuous", men who religiously abide by the Koran when they are at home but disregard it when they are abroad (then come back with stories of how western women are whores), and the tale of a woman who fell in love with a Christian and was then locked in a window-less room for the rest of her life.

Some of these stories are almost unbelievable. How humans could treat each other this way and then construe it as being the will of God is unbelievable. I couldn't help but think if the tables were turned for a week how things would change. No one deserves to be treated that way. Unfortunately, I don't think this book is going to do anything to bring about the changes that Sultana so desires.

First Line: "In a land where kings still rule, I am a princess."



The Map Thief

The Map Thief by Heather Terrell
Historical Mystery

This story is written in three parts: Beijing, China 1421, Lisbon, Portugal 1496 and present day. Beijing is under the Ming dynasty. The forbidden city has just been completed and to celebrate the completion Admiral Zheng He is told to amass a fleet to map the world and bring back riches and glory for the emperor. Ma Zhi is a eunuch cartographer who wishes to join the armada and help his family's finances. He must go through rigorous testing but is finally chosen to accompany the Admiral. He creates a beautiful map of the world. Upon arrival home he finds that China is now not interested in exploration but is turning inward and becoming isolated. They are not the heroes they thought they would be.

Portugal has dominated the seas and navigation. The legendary Vasco da Gama sets off to discover a route to India. Navigator Antonio Coehlo guards da Gama's secret treasure, a map which shows the route. The pompous European goes forth and is not greeted quite as well as he would have wished for.

Present Day: Mara Coyne's new client is Richard Tobias. He wants her to find a map which has been stolen from a Chinese archaeological dig he is sponsoring. As Mara investigates she finds out the map is much more valuable than she thought. A map that if found can have all sorts of political ramifications. Did the Chinese really discover America? Did the Portuguese cheat? And how does Tobias fit in all this?

I very much enjoyed how the different voyages were portrayed. This is a historical mystery of the best kind. Lots of rich details for each period and lots of fast-paced action. The book begs the question of where valuable pieces of art really belong.

First Line: "The Mongolian steppes thunder as three hundred thousand horses charge across the plains."



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Sealed Letter

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
Historical Fiction

Emily Faithful(Fido) is an independent British woman in 1864 who owns a printing press. She is one of the main founders of the British Woman's movement. She may be a force to reckon with in business but when it comes to personal relationships she is just too trusting. When a chance encounter brings her back into contact with her old friend Helen Codrington, she believes all she is told. In order for Helen to explain to her male escort how she can no longer continue to see him, she requires to meet him at Fido's place. Fido wishes to do all she can do to help her friend in an unhappy marriage. What follows is a tryst by the two lovers. Fido seems to fall into this trap more than once.
Emily is pulled into the middle of the divorce of the Codringtons. A sensational trial ensues. There are accusations of adultery, Emily's compliance and help in the affair and stained clothing. Even though Emily can not remember the night in question did Admiral Codrington rape her?. A sudden appearance of a sealed letter in the trial insinuates even further debauchery. Emily does not want to testify. Is her friendship with Helen worth the potential loss of her reputation?

This story is based on the true story of the Codrington divorce. Donoghue has a great talent for taking an event in history and making it a fantastic story. Donoguhe loves the "naughtiness" amid Victorian England. She has written another riveting book.

First Line: "The last day of August, and the sky is the colour of hot ash."

Learn more at Chapters/Indigo



Monday, August 18, 2008

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Lyra is a rebellious child who has grown up in a college with scholars because her parents were killed in an accident. She doesn't care to learn much, but would rather explore, play with her friends, and make fun of the scholars. Her daemon, Pantalaimon, has not yet taken a permanent form because Lyra is still a child. Each person in the world has a deamon, an animal that is the soul of the person, showing their emotion, defending their human counterpart and speaking to them.

When Lyra hides in a closet as her uncle comes over, she learns about the North and sees a child standing beside a man with a stream of dust coming out of the sky. Lyra is in awe and wants to travel to the North. She soon gets her chance when a woman asks Lyra to become her assistant in preparation for travelling North. But soon Lyra learns that there's more going on in the North than just scientific experiments. Children are being snatched from their home and they are never found, but there are rumors. Rumors of experimentation on children and their daemons.

For a fantasy novel, I was surprised at what a page turner this book was. It doesn't take too long to understand the alternate world that Pullman has created and get completely enveloped in it. The ending, however, isn't too satisfactory but this is because there's a book #2 and #3. I'm looking forward to reading the next one and seeing what else Lyra gets up to. She's a smart girl for a 12 year old!

First Line: "Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight from the kitchen."



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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Queen Bee of the Mimosa Branch

Queen Bee of the Mimosa Branch by Author Name
Hen Lit

Linwood Breedlove Scott's life is a mess. Her husband has left her for a stripper and drained all their bank accounts and owes the IRS. She has nothing. Returning home to a small Southern town, Lin finds nothing has changed. Her mother is still controlling and her father has no problem telling her what she has done wrong. Her Aunt Gloria and Uncle Bedford who has Altzheimers are living with her parents. Her brother still doesn't have a job.

Home she must go. She finds a job and gets involved in local politics and even tries to date. What she finds eventually at home is the loving of a good family and some very good friends.

Haywood Smith seems to write books that really 'talk' to me. I find them funny and some of the situations are all too familiar.

I read this for the What's in a Name challenge

First Line: "I took the long way home that fateful midsummer day last July, maybe because I still couldn't believe what I was about to do"



Galileo's Daughter

Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

This is a biography of Galileo. Through letters sent to him by his eldest daughter, his life is chronicled. Galileo's 2 daughters were sent to a convent because of the circumstances of their birth. Unable to leave the convent the eldest developed a very close relationship with her father. She wrote and saw him very often.

The story tells of Galileo's poor health and of his experiments and mathematical discoveries. He was a intellect while being a very religious man. Galileo tried in various ways to present his and Kepler's findings about the universe and the earth revolving about the sun while still keeping his faith's laws. The Vatican finally had enough of this and tried him. The court machinations and the politics were interesting to read about. It is amazing the role the church used to have in scientific discoveries.

Interweaving the letters with the biography made the story seem more real and gave it a life itself.

First Line: "We are terribly saddened by the death of your cherished sister, our dear aunt; but our sorrow at losing her is as nothing compared to our concern for your sake, because your suffering will be all the greater."



Angels Flight

Angels Flight by Michael Connelly

You just have to love Harry Bosch. This time he is called in to investigate a murder that doesn't happen in his jurisdiction. He is one of the few cops that the victim hasn't had dealings with in court. The victim, Howard Elias, is an activist lawyer who helps clients who feel they have been wronged by the police. His trial record is great and the police hate his guts.

Lucky Bosch gets to investigate the crime. The suspects number many and the prime suspect is a former partner. Bosch must now separate the BS from the facts amidst keeping his own life. He is walking a fine line and of course the whole city's attention is focused on him. Irving, his boss, wants this resolved now and is willing to take the easy road rather than the right road.

Meanwhile, Bosch's marriage of 1 year is on the ropes and he doesn't know what to do.

This was my favourite so far. This series just gets better and better.

First Line: "The word sounded alien in his mouth, as if spoken by someone else."