Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett

"The Pillars of the Earth" is a tale of hope, love, war, hate, lust, etc., all nestled around the building of a cathedral, that will keep you wondering what will happen next. Through the ups and downs of the building project, the characters go about their daily lives with all their problems. There are battles to be fought, relationships to be nurtured, and a cathedral to build. How does one affect the other? While the book is long, it is worth the read to find out.

I enjoyed the book but have to admit that it seemed too long at points. Sometimes there was too much anger, too much dying, too much graphic sex, but to say more would be to give away the book. My preconceived notion about the book was also wrong. It isn't totally about building the cathedral, but the back stories totally drew me in. I was not disappointed! I would recommend the book to those who like historical fiction, and to those who like books that meander through many lives; introducing you to interesting people, places, and things.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Seized" by Max Hardberger

Adventure on the high seas and in dangerous ports. Clandestine meetings and plans. Max Hardberger writes the true story of some of his adventures regaining control of seized ships. Each chapter gives details relating to a new adventure, making the book easy to read. At times you will wonder who are the good and bad guys, wondering is prison or death awaits the rescuers. The characters and danger are real, but many of their names have been changed to protect them.

I had the opportunity to read this book as part of Barnes & Noble’s Sneak Peek group. It was fascinating to talk with Mr. Hardberger and to learn things about ships, ports, and international laws. There are times when there seems to be too much information, but that doesn't detract too much from the story. This is a great book for discussion groups, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading true stories filled with courage and danger. I anxiously await the next installment!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"The Poacher's Son" by Paul Doiron

I Got a First Look at Barnes & Noble.  Get Your Copy Now
Combine the wilderness of Maine, a new forest ranger, a poacher who loves to drink, a cast of interesting characters, and a double-murder and you have “The Poacher’s Son.”  The twists and turns will keep you guessing until the end. Paul Doiron’s first book is a winner!
Mike Bowditch is a new forest ranger. He loves his job, but when his father becomes the prime suspect in a double homicide, it becomes a liability. Mike wants to solve the crime; to prove his father innocent. But, can he do that as part of law enforcement? Should he even try? Interwoven in this murder mystery is an array of other suspects, each with a story of their own.  
I had the privilege of reading this book as part of Barnes and Noble’s First Look Book Club.  This book yields itself to either personal or book club reading, although, I wanted someone to talk to as I read along, someone to compare notes with. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the next Mike Bowditch story to come out!

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Kaleidoscope" by Patsy Clairmont

A kaleidoscope offers us a multitude of colors and shapes as we turn it and face the light. Patsy Clairmont has let us see the book of Proverbs as a kaleidoscope - turned toward our own lives, and held up to the light. Scripture combined with wisdom and personal stories, as well as reflection questions and complementary Bible passages, provide a daily devotional that can easily be expanded to a group setting. There are thirty-three chapters, making it easy to read once a month.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Each chapter is a short glimpse into a Proverb that is easy to read and apply. The added questions really make you think and ponder how it fits into your life, making this book wonderful for personal or group study. I found myself wanting to read more, breaking out my Bible to read the context of each verse. Good books encourage you to learn, to dig deeper, and Patsy Clairmont has a hit on her hands! I plan to give this as a gift, to recommend it to ladies' groups, and to re-read it as a personal devotional.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, March 1, 2010


Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.
Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow here.
These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.
The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.
I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.
So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?
Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.
Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.
I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for', before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.
Continue reading tomorrow here...