Saturday, June 30, 2012

Double Dare Review

Double Dare
By Rhonda Nelson

     Louisa had fled. She had left the bridegroom and her overbearing father at the altar. She needed to get away before her rich and powerful father found her. She dashed into a local business that advertised adventures and promised clients the time of their lives. Little did she bargain for the life changing adventure she was about too embark on.

     The editing is horrid, even if it did make me laugh. Sometimes typos are funny, especially when a completely different word is substituted which completely changes a sentence.

     If you are looking for a fun, enjoyable, typically unrealistic romance, this book won't disappoint.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of Burial to Follow by Scott Nicholson

Burial to Follow
by Scott Nicholson

     This is a story about the last rite of passage a human will ever take. The plot follows Roby Snow who is allegedly a distant cousin to the deceased and those left behind to mourn his passing. The setting could be any home in any small town in America during the wake for a lost loved one.

     Almost from the beginning the reader can sense that something just isn't right. Almost like there is an under current to tell that there is some unknown situation going on behind the scenes. It is suspenseful, not in the whodunnit kind of way, but in the direction of curiosity's sake needing to learn just what it is that is being hinted at.

     This was the first novel of Nicholson's that I have read and was an enjoyable introduction to a new author. I look forward to reading more of his work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Review

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
by Charles Dickens

     I thought it appropriate to read this as the last feature review as it was the very last book written by Charles Dickens. I often harp against cliff hangers and feeling cheated out of a real ending. While this isn't exactly a cliff hanger ending, I will warn that Dickens died before he finished writing the book and the mystery is never solved. I think that fact would make this story a great read for book groups as there are many facets of the plot to be debated for or against the two principal suspects.

     This is not an easy read. As a lot of Dickens' novels, he invokes his literary license to metaphorically describe things which could be confusing if the text does not have the reader's full attention.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

There's an App for That

     The Charles Dicken's Museum has launched a phone app which shows old images of buildings that influenced Dickens along with the location so you can visit the places live and in person. Very cool app if you happen to live in, or plan to visit London. It is only available for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch. For more information please visit The Charles Dickens' Museum website.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beauty and the Beast - Review

Beauty and the Beast
by Jeanne Marie Le Prince De Beaumont

     Anyone who has, or has had, teenaged girls knows that they like to talk. Its impossible to get a word in with my daughter, or hear myself think. I can pretty much forget about reading when she is wound up. I had already been contemplating holding off on this week's scheduled pick of the month until September 11th. So as a compromise we read something together instead.

     My daughter chose this because it is a story that she is somewhat familiar with and because it was only 21 pages long. The Disney movie was fairly faithful to the overall plot, except for the animated household objects, but the Beast's castle is not without magic of its own.

     There are enough differences to keep children curious as to what might happen next. I suggest this as a wonderful story to read with children, even those with fairly short attention spans. The book is within the free domain and the Kindle version is free on Amazon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Vacation

     Summer Vacation has begun. I will still keep up with the featured author review and pick of the month reviews, but I'm cutting back my office ours to only a couple days a week to spend more time with my daughter during the summer. I will try to have posts daily, but I really cannot guarantee it.

Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Great Expectations - Review

Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens

      Pip is a young lad around the age of seven, when we first meet him. He is in the churchyard where he is often likely to be. He is an orphan that was "brought up by hand" by his sister. From the context of this phrase I think it is safe to imply that he was brought up by backhand. I really wonder at the quality of his childhood that he has spent so much time in the churchyard visiting the graves of the parents he cannot remember.

      Miss Havisham is the eccentric rich lady in town. She is bored with her seclusion and asks around for a young boy to come play at her estate. Boy that would raise some red flags in this day and age. Miss Havisham is raising her adopted daughter to be a heartbreaker, literally. Most likely her motives for inviting Pip over is to give Estella a live victim to practice her charms on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Charles Dickens Quotes

  1. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
    ― Charles Dickens

  2. “Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
    ― Charles Dickens

  3. “I only ask to be free, the butterflies are free.”
    ― Charles Dickens

  4. “There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”
    ― Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

  5. “Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
    ― Charles Dickens

  6. “Family not only need to consist of merely those whom we share blood, but also for those whom we'd give blood.”
    ― Charles Dickens

  7. “In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”
    ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  8. “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
    ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

  9. “To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”
    ― Charles Dickens

  10. “The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and start saying 'I will.' Consider nothing impossible, then treat possiblities as probabilities.”
    ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield 

Quotes provided by goodreads

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Orphans of Dickens

     Oliver twist was born in a work house. When he became too old for the work house he was sent to a cruel orphanage that praised itself for underfeeding the orphans and not sparing the rod.

     In Bleak House Esther is raised by her aunt who often tells her that she was her mother's shame and it would have been better if she had never been born. Poor Jo, another orphan mentioned in Bleak House really got the short end of the stick as far as orphans go.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Then and Now - Bleak House

     Time has not seemed to change much regarding lawyers and the court system. In the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce the system seems quite proud of how long it has stretched out the case and the exorbitant amount of fees that it has managed to occupy of the estate in question. Even in today's time it seems that lawyers and probate courts will spin their wheels and delay the outcome until they have managed to sufficiently pick an estate clean.

     I was not aware that the theory of spontaneous combustion dates so far back in history. Society in the 18th century was just as confused by it as we are today. The only difference that I really see is that today scientists and alleged experts will deny that people can just spontaneously combust, that there must be some other explanation. They just don't know what it is.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Savers Gift Certificate Giveaway

     Savers is kind enough to be giving away a $100 gift certificate to one lucky (U.S.) reader. See if you have a Savers or Value Village in your area and enter to win. Best of luck to all!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sweet Song - Review

Sweet song
by Terry Persun
June Pick

     Leon was born to slave parents. When he was born, it was obvious to everyone that he was the slave owner's son. He wasn't caramel colored like the other children that the slave owner had spawned with other slave women. He was white.

     Leon learned a lesson that many people sadly do not. He had been treated just as badly by black as by white. He had known white who were just as nice as some black. White or black, mean or nice, skin color didn't make a difference to a person's disposition. It was their beliefs that made them who they were, not skin color.

     There were several editing errors that detracted from the story but an interesting read none the less. Even today, in an age where we act civilized and pretend like racism is a thing of the past, there are still prejudices. Blacks hate whites. Whites hate blacks. Blacks hate yellows, whites hate reds, greens hate purples, it is neverending and it is sad to see all the hate in the world based on race. I just can't understand why some people can't look past the color and see the principles, morals, and knowledge of their fellow humans.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Through Rushing Water - Review

Through Rushing Water
by Catherine Richmond

     The story has entertaining qualities and encompasses a wide range of emotions fluctuating from sad circumstances to some comedic moments as well. A decent plot that I don't regret taking the time or making the effort to read. Read the full review at A Goddess of Frugality.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bleak House - Review

Bleak House
by Charles Dickens

     A seemingly innocuous inquiry sets in motion the wheels of curiosity and investigations that uncover a long buried secret. A secret that in the 18th century could lead to a scandal of the utmost proportions for those involved and could easily result in murder as an attempt to send the secret to the grave with anyone who manages to uncover it.

     An orphan comes to realize her long lost and unknown mother, never to be able to converse with her. A mother find out her daughter did not die at birth as she had been informed but due to circumstances they can never publicly acknowledge each other.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - From the Small Screen

     These books are a little more obscure. I had originally seen as a mini-series or made for television movie and read the book to become better acquainted with the story and/or characters.

Two words: Liam Neeson. As a teenager, it was hard to pick a favorite between Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Liam Neeson as Blackie. A Woman of Substance was Barbara Taylor Bradford's first novel and gives only a hint of the power she has to enthrall an audience. I couldn't find a book set for the trilogy, but I definitely recommend reading the entire series!

Wonderful cast of characters and talented actors and actresses that I couldn't help but draw into my imagination as I read the book as they were so well casted.

A very powerful story about an immigrant who works hard to rise to power and money and an aristocrat who was born with a spoon in his mouth as they become bitter enemies and strive towards causing the other's demise.

I didn't actually read this book, though I did TRY to. I actually read Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South which was a complete surprise as it has nothing to do with the civil war. This book is actually still in my TBR list but I've included it in this list anyhow.

Don't believe all the hype about this book? Believe it! This is one of the best stories ever written.

A story of four tight-knit women who grew up together and one young woman who knows that one of them is her mother. The question is, which one?

I'm not a big fan of romance books, but there was a time when I was young and gullible enough to believe in couples living happily ever after. The Promise is one of those timeless love stories that is a must-read.

This book has become a family favorite as it is very short and we read it every year at Christmas time.

Also a family favorite to read and watch every holiday season. You can never get too old for classics.

I'm not entirely sure if this was a made for television movie, but I remember watching it on television long before the days of cable (ugh did I just admit to being that old?). This movie is a great introduction to Agatha Christie's work and the world of Hercule Poirot.

Monday, June 11, 2012

First Impressions - Bleak House

     I must admit that I find this book tiring. Not exactly tiresome, as in boring, the story is quite interesting in fact. This most definitely is not a light read. Just the mental translating from archaic British language to modern day Americanized English consumes plenty of brain power to exhaust my mind some days.

     Normally I can read a 3-400 page book in one day without batting an eye. I have been reading this book for 3 days and am barely 150 pages into it. I remember having trouble getting my mind into The Old Curiosity Shop as well. Although, we had a death in the family this week and my concentration isn't as it should be, which doesn't help at all.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Love Story by Erich Segal - Review

Love Story
by Erich Segal

     Boy meets girl. Girl insults boy. Boy becomes intrigued. It is a simple formula, but not such a simple story. It is a love story with a love so deep that you only find it in romance novels and hollywood movies. Well, okay, this story is both actually.

     Oliver loves Jennifer to the extent that he is willing to sacrifice his family and the family's money. Giving up the family wasn't a huge sacrifice as he never got along with his dad, he was pretty used to the money, especially considering he had been accepted into Havard Law School.

     Jenny loved Oliver so much that she sacrificed her dream of studying music in Paris. After they were married, she took a job teaching to help Oliver through law school. They struggled financially but their love flourished.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer - Review

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
by Rita Hestand
First in series

     Emma Smith is a single woman raing a baby on her own. She's struggling to make ends meet working at a diner while the original cook is off sowing wild oats and chasing a woman.

     Deke Travers is busy working his ranch and trying to keep his younger brothers out of trouble. When he needs a new cook and housekeeper, he steps in and hires Emma, hoping one of his brothers would fall for her and decide to settle down.

     Four gorgeous cowboys, who are charming, sensitive, and are great with kids, what more could a girl want in a romance story. This is part of a series, I'm not sure if it is the first, involving the Travers brothers. I had downloaded it free from amazon months ago, and honestly wouldn't mind reading more of the series. It didn't have the whole he loves me he loves me not superdrama that most romances have that I find so annoying.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fossil River Review

book cover art for Fossil River by Jock MillerFossil River
by Jock Miller

     America is desperate for oil. The earth is quickly running out of the valuable fossil fuels. Scientists have found a new oil field in a national park high in the Alaskan mountains. But the oil field is in the territory of the deadliest predator on the planet. Until recently, the grizzly bear had been given this title but with the oil fields another discovery is made. A new species. Actually, an old species, long thought to be extinct.

     This book was a PYOL from the first page. A fast paced, action packed plot that ranks right up there with the Jurassic Park saga. I found it difficult to set it down even long enough to forage for food. That might have been a good thing as some parts were gory enough that I wouldn't have wanted to run into them while eating.

     The characters and attitudes were believable if somewhat predictable. While it was typical behavior of the teens in the story to not consider the danger of heading out into the national park on their own, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and think "DUH! Dinosaurs are dangerous." Even the herbivores are huge and equipped with deadly defenses which can easily kill a person. There wasn't much that even I can complain about in regards to editing, though it wasn't perfect. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a love and/or fascination with dinosaurs.

I give it PYOL review graphic my personal PYOL rating!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The House on the Corner - Review

The House on the Corner
by Michael Rains

     This book is targeted at middle school-aged children and it could be quite an interesting story that children would enjoy. The story starts off with a boy who is trying to avoid cleaning the hall bathroom. When sent on an errand to run mail to his strange uncle, Chester decides to dawdle in hopes to avoid cleaning the bathroom. At his uncles' house he finds that not all is as it appears.

     Please visit A Goddess of Frugality to read the entire review.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oliver Twist By Charles Dickens - Review

Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens

     While it is usually true that the book is better than the movie, I have found it to be especially true of classic stories. I tend to believe myself to be intimate with the book plot and am always surprised to find that there are many facets that are not as commonly known. The characters are universally recognized, yet reading the original book makes the characters so much more three dimensional, so to speak. There are bits and pieces, entire characters even, that never made it into the movies that intertwine into young Oliver's life that gives so much more to the story.

     There are sublots and conspiracies between Fagin and minor characters that doesn't see the light of day in films. The times are described in ways that movie scenery just cannot define. People in authority abused their power and treated their wards irreprehensibly and no one seemed to care.

     I had to laugh at the differences in the times. When the orphanage is being inspected, the matron quickly explains that the bottle of gin in the cupboard was to administer to the children when they were ill, implying that she would never personally partake in the drinking of spirits. Alcohol and opium were commonly used for medicinal purposes back in the days of Oliver Twist's childhood.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - From the Big Screen

     While most movies have obviously been books, these are the movies that I had enjoyed so much that I wanted to read the book.

I could fill up the entire list with all of the Harry Potter books so will just lump them all together as one. I had originally bought these books to try to entice my daughter to read. It worked :)

I will also list Star Wars series as one. For me personally Star Wars always has a hint of nostalgia as I can remember seeing the original movies in the theater as a child, as they were released.

My mother instilled in me the joy of classics, whether it be old books, old movies, or musicals. This is my all time favorite musical.

This book was actually kind of disappointing. Not that it wasn't as good as the movie but it didn't answer the questions that the movie had left me with. Also the movie was set in the beautiful Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI where the book was not.

While the whole series hasn't been made into movies, I did end up reading the entire series, and several others by V.C. Andrews.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monthly Picks for June

     For those unfamiliar with my monthly picks let me give a quick explanation. At the beginning of every month, I troll through the list of free books on Amazon. I try to avoid books within a series as I get tired of cliffhanger endings, even if I don't actually pay for a book I have invested my time in reading it and I want a REAL ending. I don't have the time or the money to get sucked into a series. I don't just select the top 4 listed in the free section, which would be a LOT less work. I have started attempting to explore other genres instead of always picking one science fiction, one romance, one mystery, one non-fiction. However, some books may fit into several categories, such as the action adventure book I selected this month also fits into the science fiction genre. Basically I just want to remind avid readers that amazon has a plethora of choices of free books. These are the ones that I have selected to read this month, but there are many to choose from. Check out the Amazon free books for yourself.

action adventure/
science fiction
My review

My review


My review