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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dune

Herbert, Frank. Dune.

The classic science fiction tome, Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto. When the House of Atreides is forced to leave Caladan and relocate on Arrakis, deceit and treachery result in the death of Duke Leto and young Paul and his mother must flee to safety with the desert tribe of Fremen in order to survive. And thereby hangs a tale...

The planet Arrakis (Dune) is a desert planet where water is of the highest priority; many of the details of the planet are fantastic indeed, but somehow Herbert brings it all together in a believable world. There is plenty of political corruption and intrigue, religious fervor, survival skills, myth, and battle strategy to go around.

I liked it and plan to continue the series. Better late than never.

Fiction. Science Fiction. 1965/1998. 517 pages.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Mechanic?

I used Typealyzer to analyze my quilting blog and thought I'd try the book blog as well. Not surprisingly the results were different.

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts. The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

--------
Huh? Driving race cars? Working as a policeman or firefighter? Enjoying risk? Nope. Not me. I'm a reader. Love to read adventure and action, but not big on taking part in it. I spend too much time reading about it.


Try Typealyzer to check your blog's type.

Love that Science Fiction

I'm really liking Dune by Frank Herbert -- From Library Journal: "Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy" -- and still can't explain why I've waited so long.

Nice to know that there are plenty more in the series AND that I have a review copy of Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert (Frank's son) and Kevin J. Anderson, which links the first two books in the series.

My reading had been slowing down as I've tried to get in more sewing and crafty projects, but I've found myself picking up this novel more frequently than I intended.

I'm almost done with this pillow made from one of Miss Mila's drawings of her dog, Mojo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Regency Buck

Heyer, Georgette. Regency Buck.

Again romance mixed with a little suspense, but with less wit and humor than in The Reluctant Widow. Judith Taverner and her brother Perry are traveling to London to meet their new guardian, Lord Worth. On the way, Perry learns of a "mill" - a prize fight that all of the fashionable (and unfashionable) men are excited about. As a result of the delay, the young Taverners meet some of the characters who will be involved in their London life.

The match Heyer describes is one of the famous matches between Tom Molineaux and Tom Crib, the British heavyweight champion. Again Heyer exercises her meticulous knowledge of the time period, not only with the descriptions of boxing, but with the fashion and manners of the time period and with the contemporary obsession with snuff - snuff blends, snuff boxes, and snuff "etiquette."

The stage is set with great skill, including characters like the Prince Regent, the Dukes of Cumberland and York, Beau Brummel and places like Brighton and London. Heyer manages to educate us seamlessly while telling her stories which are one part comedies of manners, one part romance, and one part mystery/suspense.

However, I liked this novel more for the historical detail than for the plot or the characters, who are one-dimensional and a bit irritating. I very much missed the wit and humor of The Reluctant Widow.


Fiction. Historical Romance. 1935 & 2008. 392 pages.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Serendipity

Last night I was working on some cuffs, then switched to reading. I didn't have any bookmarks handy, so stuck the cuffs in to mark my place. :) They actually work quite well--love the way the one with the Dorset button looks, almost like a halo on the woman's head. [click to enlarge]
I've finished Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck and need to review it; currently reading the above. As much as I love science fiction, why have I never read Dune before?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cornwell, Patricia. The Book of the Dead.

The book of the dead is the morgue log where Kay Scarpetta enters all the cases that pass through her morgue. Opening with a brutal murder in Rome, then moving to Charleston, South Carolina, Cornwell creates one-dimensional bad guys (Dr. Self is almost funny in her egocentricity) and the "good guys" have so many personal flaws, I wanted to smack each one. Twice.

This is the first time in years that I've bothered with Cornwell. Should have left well enough alone.

Fiction. Mystery. 2008. 511 pages.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brother

Fredericks, James. Brother.

This was a review copy sent by the author and was a thoroughly entertaining and suspenseful mystery. The characters are engaging and the plot is fast-moving with plenty of twists.

Defense attorney Chase Riordan, a former prosecutor, successfully defends his most recent client, but begins to have some questions about all three of his defense cases. Something about these cases gives him pause, but he isn't certain what has thrown up his inner antenna.

In addition to some questions about his court cases, Chase is concerned about his twin brother, a veteran of Afghanistan, who is in a strange Army mental health facility in an almost comatose state. Chase has never been as close to his twin brother as he is to a select group of friends, but begins to find Jared's situation more and more troubling . The two begin communicating in a sort of code and Chase begins to provide aid secretly.

An exciting legal thriller and an excellent beginning for James Fredericks. There were a few niggling problems, but I had no difficulty setting these aside (couldn't put the book down) and look forward to more novels from this author.

Fiction. Mystery/Suspense/Legal Thriller. 2008. 410 pages.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tagged

Two tags to take care of -

A meme and an award from iliana:

things I did before
1. read
2. keep journals
3. take tai chi
4. teach
5. mail art
6. worked in the concession stand of the Dixie Theater, Ruston, LA
7. took several trips to England, Scotland

7 things I do now
1. read
2. keep journals
3. take yoga
4. quilt
5. meditate
6. spend many weekends at our little cabin
7. blog

7 things I want to do
1. spent a month in Scotland
2.make a queen size quilt
3. purge some of the junk I accumulate
4. dye fabric/ make art cloth
5. be more courageous; take risks
6. take a workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School
7. attend the Houston Quilt Festival

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
1. humor
2. intelligence
3. kindness
4. shared interests
5. loyalty
6. independent thought
7. nice smile

7 Favorite Foods
1. eggplant
2. banana bread
3. hot sauce & chips
4. pasta
5. tomato-basil soup
6. biscotti
7. white chocolate bread pudding

7 things I Say Most Often
1. Huh? (so sad)
2. Sure
3. Well, damn
4. How about...
5. Love you
6. That book is going on my wish list (of course! thanks for this one, iliana)
7. What now?


next from Janet's Jottings :

Here’s how it goes.Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.Pass this on to five blogging friends.

The closest book to me is one that I've not even read yet, but here is the passage:

"Hitherto she had regarded him as a gentleman of intelligence, amiable, with pleasing manners and a sense of public duty. Her husband had also recognized these qualities and commended him to her, "even though he is a Tory!" But now, he had revealed a far deeper sense of personal concern, a desire to help where he could. She was surprised, but pleasantly so." The Ladies of Longbourn by Rebecca Ann Collins

Tagged for the award and one or both memes (as you please and if you so choose - no obligation) :

Kimy at Mouse Medicine - wonderful quotes and superb photographs
Nancy the Bookfool - who hooks me with her reviews and is another great photographer
Rache at Books I Done Read - whose tart reviews always make me laugh
Wendy the Literary Feline - who causes me to add way too many titles to my list
Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm - where you can find books, quotes, and recipes- mmm

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Miscellaneous

I'm reading Brother by James Frederick. Started it last night and stayed up way too late because I couldn't put it down. Have a couple of others started, but Brother will require finishing before I can get back to them. A legal thriller with lots of tension and suspense!

Not that I don't have enough in my current TBR stack, but here are the most recent additions to my list of books that sound good:

The Annie Seymore series by Karen E. Olsen
The Ursula Marlow series by Claire Langley-Hawthorne
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs (YA)
To Catch the Lightening by Alan Cheuse
The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
Drood by Dan Simmons

Simon & Schuster have a weekly podcast.

Stefanie of So Many Books wrote about library elf, but my library isn't listed. Maybe I should let them know about it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Reluctant Widow

Heyer, Georgette. The Reluctant Widow.

I'm glad Georgette Heyer's books have been republished and appreciate Danielle of Sourcebooks, Inc. having sent me several of the new releases.

I enjoyed this Regency romance, which has Elinor Rochdale, prospective governess, taking the wrong coach and answering the wrong advertisement. Instead of finding a post as governess, she finds an employer who wants her to marry his dissolute cousin.

Missing papers, French spies, a hidden door and staircase, lots of Regency detail, and plenty of wry humor. Even the dog has character. A very satisfying and cozy read!

Fiction. Romance, Mystery. 1948, 2008. 316 pages.

Blasphemy

Preston, Douglas. Blasphemy.

6 words: cardboard characters, silly plot, bad dialogue

I enjoy the books by Preston and Lincoln Childs, which even though they are quite unbelievable, are entertaining. Preston's solo effort in Blasphemy wasn't very entertaining, although it does read quickly. Not one believable or even really interesting character in the book and a plot that began with some spark became forced, annoying, pretentious.


Fiction. Science fiction? 2008. 416 pages.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November Reading

More books added to the stacks. I've slowed down a bit in my reading and am trying to catch up on sewing, etc., but with the weather getting cooler, curling up with good books sounds just right.
I've already begun The Reluctant Widow -- a little Regency romance mixed with spies and murder. Georgette Heyer in top form!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Support Your Local Library Challenge

I found the link to The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge over at Marg's. Since I'm a regular at the local library, I think it behooves me to join this challenge.

Here's the Deal (from J. Kaye's Book Blog):

You all know what a supporter of the library my family and I are. What better way to pay homage than by having a reading challenge in 2009? Since we are all different, there will be three sizes of challenges.

** The first is to read 12 books from your local library in 2009.

** The second is to read 25 books from your local library in 2009.

** The third is to read 50 books from your local library in 2009.


You decide which one of the three challenges is best for you.


Here are the guidelines:


1) You can join anytime as long as you don’t start reading your books prior to 2009.

2) This challenge is for 2009 only. The last day to have all your books read is December 31, 2009.


3) You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.


4) When you sign up under Mr. Linky, list the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. If you list just your blog’s URL, it will be removed. If you don’t have a blog, leave the URL blank.

6) Our goal is to read 12, 25, or 50 books checkout from our local library in 2009. Please decide which when you sign up and don’t change it.

7) These can be audios, downloads, children’s, YA. As long as it’s a book, format and target age group does not matter.

8) Feel free to post a link to your reviews in the comment section below. That way, we can visit your blog and read your review.

9) If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or email me at
jkayeoldner@yahoo.com. Comments usually get a quicker response.

***Update: You do not have to decided on your books ahead of time. You can add or subtract from your list during the year.


I'm going for 50. Shouldn't be too hard, huh? Fingers crossed. Yeah, I know, #5 is AWOL.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Wasted Vigil

Aslam, Nadeem. The Wasted Vigil.

To echo my comments from my in progress post: this book is beautiful and terrible.

Searingly honest, the book spares no country and few individuals, despite their "convictions" or "passionate intensity." (I simply cannot think of the book without thinking of Yeat's poem.)

Afghanistan's history, the Muslim religion, the Russians, the Americans, the Afghans are all brutally illuminated through the stories of Marcus, Qatrina, Zadeem, David, and Lara, who find themselves caught in the web of Afghanistan's culture and history, a web that continues moving out from the center, sticky and deadly.

Beautifully, lyrically written, Aslam describes the delicate colors of the landscape and the horrifying treatment of women, prisoners, enemies, and victims of "collateral damage" by any of the warring factions. He creates a sense of place and beauty in Marcus' home, full of color, culture, perfumed scents, quiet goodness, but never lets you believe that it is a safe haven, even if it does provide sanctuary.

"Easy to imagine, at such an hour, how Qatrina could have filled notebooks with the colours she found in a square foot of nature. An olive grove outside Jalabad--grey, white, green. A mallow blossom--red orange, sulphur, yellow bone, red-wine shadow. The mountains above the house--silver, evasive grey, blue, sapphire water."

The book seems disjointed at times, almost stream-of-consciousness, as the story unfolds in fits and starts, jumping from present to past, gradually revealing and intertwining. Initially disconcerting, the technique proves very effective, and the reader falls into the spiralling events, moving here and there with the characters, the past, the present, thoughts, memories.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me is that Aslam has written a book that tells of love and hate; healers and murderers; religious zealots and political zealots; courage and gentleness and unbelievable horror...with such clarity, with such even-handedness, with a cool, calm distance that allows the reader to absorb the information without feeling overwhelmed with grief, without succumbing to total desolation. The author does not flinch from the truth and manages to keep the reader with him because of his deft, sensitive touch in presenting this truth.

A remarkable book. I'm very grateful for the review copy I received and will pass this book on. I expect to see it listed for literary prizes and deserves them. Highly recommended; don't miss this one.

Fiction. Historical fiction/ Contemporary fiction. 2008. 320 pages.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wrapped Up in Books

Kimy at Mouse Medicine always has beautiful photos and thoughtful posts. Today her topic is books/reading. Check it out.

I borrowed this video of the song "wrapped up in books" from her post:

In Progress...

I'm reading - slowly, because I've been so busy since returning home - The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam. Each time I pick up this book, I think of this poem by William Butler Yeats:

The Second Coming (Slouching towards Bethlehem)
W.B Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
nd what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

and the lines from his Easter, 1916 -- "a terrible beauty is born."

The book is beautiful and terrible and "the worst are full of passionate conviction."

On a lighter note, some pictures of my book chaos:

Monday, November 03, 2008

How We Choose to Be Happy

Foster, Rick, and Greg Hicks. How We Choose to Be Happy.

I really, really liked this book. Not a psychological treatise or a spiritual discourse, but a list of components that truly happy people have in common. Foster and Hicks's research led them to develop a model that has been adapted by major institutions including the Mayo Clinic, NYU Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the American Heart Association, and Wake Forest University Medical Center.

Although genetics certainly plays a role in an individual's happiness or unhappiness, certain behaviors and thinking patterns were evident in those individuals who were in the genuinely happy category. Those individuals, regardless of family backgrounds, made certain choices that led to their happiness. The authors and the interviewees never say it is easy, nor do they say that life will be perfect, or that we will escape the difficult aspects of life, but they do say that we make choices and that we can choose to be happy.

Again, common sense comes into play, but the way the material is presented is so straight-forward and interesting that I found myself thinking about even familiar terms like "intention" with a new perspective. There isn't much new about the components themselves, but the logic and simplicity can bring clarity to our own choices.

The nine components are discussed in separate chapters and include the stories of many of the individuals interviewed and some ideas to think about concerning your own personal choices. The authors tell you not to expect change overnight--the pursuit of happiness takes work, self-evaluation, and practice, but choosing to put in the work can make your life happier. Not necessarily more successful, not wealthier, but possibly healthier and happier.

Intention - Accountability - Identification - Centrality - Recasting - Options - Appreciation - Giving - Truthfulness -- the components are synergistic, they feed into each other and work together. Very simple. Very difficult.

I read through the book twice and am leaving this copy with Erin, but I'm going to order more copies: one to keep and at least one to give away.


nonfiction. Sociology/Behavioral Science. 199/2004. 228 pages.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Laced

Clark, Carol Higgins. Laced.

I finished the four books I brought with me, and was thus reduced to reading this one that Erin picked up at the pharmacy.

6 words: Not even Irish setting saves this.

One more word: simplistic.

Took about 3 hours of mindless reading. woe is me

Fiction. Mystery. 2008. 352 pages.

March to the Stars


Weber, David, and John Ringo. March to the Stars.

6 words: Undeveloped characters, predictable and unrealistic plot.

A disappointment, and had I not been here in Baton Rouge and finished all of my others books, I would not have finished reading this one. I love science fiction and Weber is usually a favorite, but not this 'un! In fact, the ending indicates another in the series, but another has not yet been forthcoming, so maybe the authors thought better of it.

Fiction. Science Fiction. 2003. 526 pages.