Monday, June 29, 2009

Cover of Night by Linda Howard


Cover of Night by Linda Howard


I didn’t expect to like this book. I’d never read Linda Howard before and I thought that this might be one of those lousy romance-mystery novels.


Happily, I found myself loving this book and Linda Howard’s writing!


Very simply, this book tells the story of Cate, whose husband died some years earlier from an accident, and left her with twin infant boys.


She moved to a new, very isolated, very small town, to start over, just wanting to live a simple life and provide for her kids.


Unfortunately one day, one of Cate’s tenants brought some trouble along with him, and left Cate and the inhabitants in a very desperate situation when dangerous killers come to their town, determined to get what they want.


And of course, along the course of the thrilling story, there’s a romance budding between Cate and Cal, the handyman who Cate has never noticed before until now when he steps up and tries to save the town from these men.


I wouldn’t say it was the most believable story, and it was pretty over the top as well, but it was told so convincingly, and in such an exciting way, that I couldn’t help but enjoy the story. A lot.


In fact, Linda Howard has become an author whose name I plan to look out for when I next go shopping for books! I’m excited to read more from her.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


I’d heard a lot of good things about this book before I picked it up, but when I realized that it was about a girl living in 1939 in Germany during the time of the Nazis, I put off reading it again and again.


I had assumed that it would be a difficult and dry read about the Nazi regime, and I hadn’t been in the mood for these kind of books the last few months. But then I thought about all the great reviews and recommendations from so many other readers. They can’t be all wrong.


So I decided to start reading it, and once I started, I couldn’t stop.


Death is the narrator, and getting to know him throughout the book, he seems almost human in the end.


Death tells us the story of the book thief, a little girl name Liesel, and her life on Himmel Street with her friends and her family. It’s an incredible story, there are happy moments and devastating moments, and so many interesting ones.


We watch Liesel live through those few years, hungry and poor, but mostly happy and loved, and always, stealing books. We see how the books mold her, help her create friendships and get through the tough times, and how in the end, they literally save her.


It’s a heartbreaking read and it brought me to tears, but it’s such an amazing read too, and it’s definitely become one of my most favorite books.

Ironside by Holly Black

image Ironside by Holly Black


This book is the sequel to Tithe, where we first meet Kaye and Roiben, and which I absolutely loved.


At the end of Tithe, Roiben had overthrown the Queen of the Unseelie Court, and now Ironside begins at Roiben’s coronation.

Kaye is tricked into declaring her love to Roiben at the coronation, and he is forced to send her on what seems like an impossible quest.


Thinking that Roiben had rejected her declaration by sending her on a quest she could never complete, Kaye feels sorry for herself and makes a series of apparent mistakes, one of which is telling her mother that she’s actually a changeling and not the real Kaye that her mother gave birth to years ago. Kaye’s a pixie, and her mother is horrified when she finds out.


Meanwhile, the Queen of the Seelie Court plots to dethrone Roiben, and Roiben have to find a way to defeat her.


As with Tithe, I loved Ironside. Holly Black has an easy way of writing that makes it so enjoyable to read her books and get lost in a whole other world. I fell in love with Roiben in Tithe, and while we don’t see as much of him in Ironside as I would like, I’m still in love with him.


It took me a while to get a hold of this book, but I finally found it a few weeks ago at a bargain book sale. I’ll continue looking out for Holly Black’s other books, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy all her other interesting tales of the faeries!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan


It boggles the mind just how little we know about our food these days. What are we eating? Where does it come from? How was it made/processed? Most of us don’t even have a clue.


Some of us don’t know because we don’t want to know, but I think we’ve got to face the truth and start taking responsibility for our health again. No one can keep you healthy except yourself, and to do that, first you must know the facts.


Where are most of our foods coming from? According to Michael Pollan, corn. Almost every single thing we’re eating started from corn. The corn-fed beef, the sodas sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, every other processed food like our frozen yogurts, ketchup, hot dogs, soups… they all contain corn.


And not high-quality corn either, some of these are genetically engineered corn, or some other hybrid of it, and it’s costing us a lot. Our soil’s nutrients is being depleted by the excessive farming, our rivers are being polluted by tons of chemical fertilizers being washed away, our fish are getting contaminated, our beeves, chicken, and pork are held in deplorable conditions, getting sick and being fed with antibiotics. And we’re eating them. We’re eating contaminated fish and meat pumped with antibiotics.



What do you expect this is doing to our own health?


“You are what you eat.” It’s not just a nice-sounding quote. It’s true, and now we are corn, synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, and pollution.


Why isn’t the government doing anything about it? Another shocking revelation: They don’t have the authority to. The people in the food industry have been playing dirty politics so much so that there’s not much the government can do.


However, the good news is that the public can do something. If more people educated themselves about their food sources, and demanded good, clean, healthy food, the food industry people would have no choice but to comply or go out of business.


I don’t know much about food or nutrition, I readily admit, but I know enough to realize that food cultivated by fossil fuel, chemical fertilizers, harsh treatment and abuse, antibiotics, and synthetic chemicals can’t be good for me.


Please, if you are remotely concerned at all about your own health, or the health of your loved ones, read this book, and other books on this topic, and educate yourself. Take responsibility for your health. Do your own research if you’re not sure how much of Pollan’s words you can believe. But don’t bury your head in the sand and refuse to find out more about your own food.


Our health has been steadily deteriorating since the food industry people started caring more about money and speed of production rather than good food and health. Sure, medical technology has advanced so much that it can “cure” our illnesses and keep us alive longer. That’s a good thing, but don’t let it blind you to the fact that our personal health is deteriorating, nevertheless.


Michael Pollan’s book speaks personally to me because I care about health. I have close family who’ve died of various types of cancer, diabetes, and other health problems. I have a diabetic grandmother who’s now an invalid.


We like to blame god, and ask “Why is this happening to me??” when someone we love is diagnosed with some fatal degenerative disease. Well, you’ll get your answer in this book, or at least, it will point you in the right direction. It’s not god’s fault that we get sick. It is the food we eat, plain and simple.


For more information, please visit Food, Inc.

The Most Wanted by Jacquelyn Mitchard

image The Most Wanted by Jacquelyn Mitchard


This book is about a young girl, Arley Mowbray, only fifteen years old, who starts corresponding with a prison inmate, falls for him, and marries him.


She isn’t a “bad” girl, she’s not your typical rebellious teenager, but somehow being as naive and innocent as she is, she gets herself into trouble when she marries this prisoner.


His letters are thoughtful, full of meaningful poems and sweet words. He treats her very tenderly when she visits him at prison. But she gets pregnant, and then she gets a life, and he starts getting jealous and finally breaks out of prison to look for her and the baby.


Things escalate from there, with the outcome looking bleak for everyone.


Personally, I found the story very interesting. These are not your typical characters, and Arley is definitely not the kind of girl you’d expect to find in this situation, though it may be that I’m stereotyping…


Anyway, you can’t help but love Arley and think she’s stupid at the same time, because of course, she is. But you know there’s hope for her, there’s more to her than that, and you wonder, how on earth is she going to get herself out of this situation.


After all is said and done, however, while I enjoyed the story and liked the characters, this isn’t something that resonates with me. It doesn’t particularly touch me or stay with me. It’s a story, and a well-told one, but it’s just a story to me.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Finding Your Mojo by Stephanie Bond


Finding Your Mojo by Stephanie Bond


From the blurb:


When attorney Gloria Dalton arrives in the small town of Mojo, Louisiana, she's desperate for change. Her past haunts her—at sixteen she was forced into the witness protection program and ripped away from Zane Riley, the boy she loved. After years of heartbreak and hiding, she's hoping that this move will be her last, that she can make a life for herself among the quirky residents of Mojo.

But Gloria's optimism fades when a welcome gift turns out to be a voodoo doll and her male paralegal suffers a shocking death. When the new Chief of Police arrives on the scene, Gloria's life takes another left turn—it's her first love, Zane, who doesn't recognize her behind her careful disguise.

Concealing her identity and her feelings for Zane is killing her, but when it's revealed that her employee was murdered and secrets begin to spill, Gloria realizes it's going to take a special kind of voodoo to keep her quest for her own personal mojo from hitting a dead end!


My thoughts:


Oh, I enjoyed this book! I love the romance, the suspense, the story, the chemistry… all of it!


I guess what appeals to me most is how Gloria lost her first love Zane Riley, because she had to go into the witness protection program, and how interesting it was when they finally meet up again and Zane has no idea who she is.


I think I’m in the mood for romance, because the romance in this book has completely captured my imagination, and my heartstrings. I couldn’t help rooting for the two of them the whole way, hoping that Zane would finally realize who Gloria was and that they could fall in love all over again.


Unlike the last book I read, the suspense here was good too, because it kept me wondering who on earth was responsible for the murders and all the mysterious happenings in Mojo.


I’ve also gotten intrigued by the references to some past murders in the Voodoo museum in Mojo, which I gather was from a prequel to this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Stephanie Bond, but I enjoy it so much, I think I'd like to read more of her books.

The Carriage House by Carla Neggers

image The Carriage House by Carla Neggers


From an Amazon review:


When Tess accepts a rundown house by the sea in lieu of payment for a design job, she never expects a skeleton buried in the cellar and the handsome, taciturn widower next door to be part of the package.

But the skeleton vanishes before anyone else sees it, throwing doubt on Tess's claims and throwing her into a panic, as the stealing of the skeleton likely points to murder.

This also puts a damper on her unsought, but irresistible, romance with neighbor Andrew.


My thoughts:


This book is definitely different from the usual books you find in this genre, and I found Neggers’ storytelling style interesting. That doesn’t mean that it was amazing, however.


I enjoyed the story, and I thought it was very imaginative and different, yes, but I’m not sure I like her writing style at all. The book seemed very predictable to me, even though Neggers tries to confuse us with certain of the characters’ points of view.


I thought that the story could’ve been told in a much better way, if Neggers made more effort trying to throw us from the trail, but I felt that either she wasn’t very interested in keeping us in suspense, or she was just plain too lazy to mislead us.


Either way, the story definitely would’ve been much better if she’d told it a different way. I have to say that I enjoyed the romance between Tess and Andrew though, there was definitely chemistry there, and I thought Neggers did a great job in building the chemistry.


Perhaps that’s the reason she wasn’t interested in keeping us in suspense, she was more interested in the romance aspect of the book than the suspense.

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