Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Night Stand (or the other)

Apart from The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning, my night stand looks pretty bare this week. The other side of the bed is a different story. My husband always has a plethora of interesting reads.

Two I'm browsing this week when I grow tired of the whole crime scene-scene:

Supercharge Your Memory by Corinne Gediman and Francis Crinella
Do you remember Highlights for Kids? This is sort of like Highlights for grown-ups. Graphically pleasing, this book offers a smorgasbord of activities from recalling olfactory memories (remember that rotten carrot your mother put in your kindergarten lunchbag?) to redrawing abstract designs (was the squiggle above or below the circle thingamajig?). You'll have fun, fun, fun, till your Daddy takes your T-bird away.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
A fan of Mitchell (especially Black Swan Green), I swoon over everything he's written. Thousand Autumns is no exception. At almost 500 pages, this epic travels to Nagasaki Harbor and immerses us (sometimes too intimately) in the sights, sounds, and sighs of the colorful cast and crew that work for and about the Dutch East Indies Company. If this weren't novel enough, the story ventures further inland when the love-interest of the title character becomes enshrined in a remote convent. You'll be itching to find out how the last samurais face the impending interests of the British Empire.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just Beachy

Only one more week of guilt-free beach reads. I've got a stack on my nightstand to get through.

Booked to Die by John Dunning
I read about this book in The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary ObsessionThe Blue Bistro
I browsed this one on the buy-me table at a local retailer. Luckily the library had it in stock as well. A quintessential summer read: girl arrives on Nantucket, girl finds job at magical restaurant on the beach, girl falls in love with...well, you'll just have to wait til I finish it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I laughed til I cried

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Barrows and Annie Shaffer is romantic, funny, and heartbreaking. Read it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who's your daddy?

Fathers these days teach a lot of essential skills. They teach their children how to tie shoes, ride bikes, make the perfect Sunday morning waffle, and drive a stick shift. Fathers of long ago perhaps had a more daunting agenda. They were in charge of teaching their offspring how to shoot an arrow for protection and the midday meal, ride a horse, and savor the finer bouquets of monster blood.

Fire by Kristin Cashore features a cast of fathers ranging from game wardens to battle commanders to kings. And monsters. As the story unfolds, many of the characters discover their fathers are not what or even who they thought them to be.

Fire is raised by her birth father, the monster Cansrel, and in his absences, a former royal commander named Brocker. Fire, like her father, possesses mind manipulating powers. She struggles to emulate her father in honing her powers but also to follow the guidance of Brocker in respecting those under her power.

Her struggle is put to the test when Prince Brigan arrives. His brother, King Nash, is working to reverse the unjust practices of his father. He and the royal siblings need her help in uncovering the plots of traitorous lords in the north and south.

As the plot and battle unfolds, the pages turn swiftly through encounters with raptors, sure-shot archers, salacious spies, and a distastefully devious boy with two different colored eyes. Cashore deftly balances the blood and fury with quieter scenes that examine regret, honor, and responsibility. For this, maybe we have her father to thank for teaching her the importance of including both rage and reflection.