Coming soon! A brand new From My Bookshelf experience.

Friday, February 29, 2008

It's taking forever to finish the book I'm currently reading. What gives? It's not even all that long!

It's almost embarrassing.

Book-to-Movie Review: Atonement

S and I went to see Atonement last night, based on the Ian McEwan book of the same name. It was both beautifully depressing and depressingly beautiful. James McAvoy and Keira Knightely's performances were amazing, as well as Saoirse Ronan's performance as the younger Briony. Everything came together to make an astonishing movie; the cinematography, the score, the scenery, the performances, the direction... the movie deserved every award nomination that it received. Worth watching when it comes out on DVD (March 18, for those interested).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Free Book Day!

Random House just sent me an email with an attached PDF file of Charles Bock's new book Beautiful Children. I have no idea what the book is about, or if it's any good, but it's free, so I don't mind giving it a try.

Thanks, RH!

Actually, it would appear that if you go to and scroll down the homepage, this is available to everyone. So, now I don't feel as special as I did.
I bought Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd at B&N last night. I know I wasn't going to buy anything for awhile and try to get through some of what I own already, but I found it on the 1001 Books list, and since I would like to read more Christie, I decided that it wouldn't be so bad to pick it up...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

19. Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg


This was my second book from my LT SecretSanta this past Christmas.

Title: Smilla's Sense of Snow
Author: Peter Høeg
Copyright: 1992
Pages: 469
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 2-23-08

This was an amazing book. Part murder mystery, part political intrigue, and so much more; I think this would be a particularly hard book to categorize. I also think this will proudly sit on my top 5 list of books read this year.

At first, it was hard to get into the rhythm of the writing, but once I got used it and let it carry me along, I was completely swept into Smilla's life and was able to see things from her unique point of view. A very independent woman, strong and vulnerable at the same time, who has perhaps gotten in over her head but perseveres in her journey to discover the secret behind a friend's death.

Brilliantly written, haunting and detailed, once you have let yourself be absorbed into Peter Høeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow, the story will not let you go until the very end, and even then will stay with you for some time.

Monday, February 25, 2008

18. A Door in the Woods by James Dashner


Title: A Door in the Woods
Series: The Jimmy Fincher Saga, Book 1
Author: James Dashner
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 171
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 2-26-08

A Door in the Woods is the first book in James Dashner's Jimmy Fincher Saga, and it's a decent start to the series and a decent first book for Dashner. The writing isn't all that bad, but there is room for growth. Dashner relies a little too heavily on what I'm sure he is trying to play off as quaint, southern colloquialisms. Every character in the book uses them, and after several chapters, it gets a little old.

Jimmy Fincher is your typical, fourteen year old boy, who happens to stumble upon a secret that could change the world. Through his adventures, he uncovers family secrets, villains, enigmatic benefactors and unlikely friends. Unlike the typical YA book today, Jimmy has a solid family unit around him that he relies on and that supports him throughout the entire book. I find this a refreshing change.

While I could see where the book may have benefited from a little tighter editing, overall A Door in the Woods is a fun read and I think most kids would find it enjoyable; it's filled with adventure, mystery, intrigue and life or death situations. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

17. Transmetropolitan, Vol 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Darick Robertson

I read Transmetropolitan Vol 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson for my Graphic Novel Discussion Group. It wasn't bad, but needless to say I was a little underwhelmed. I won't be going on to read the rest of the series.

Reading Therapy

I've been keeping blog posts on my other blog about the books I've been reading lately, but decided to move it over to it's own blog. This way, I can keep better track of what I'm reading, what I want to read, and my thoughts on it all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

16. Pibgorn, Vol 1: the Girl in the Coffee Cup by Brooke McEldowney



Title: Pibgorn, Vol 1: the Girl in the Coffee Cup
Series: Pibgorn
Author: Brooke McEldowney
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 58
Publisher: Pib Press
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 2-25-08

This was a collection of online comics by the creator of 9 Chickweed Lane, Brooke McEldowney. This started out as a short, holiday story that more or less grew into it's own story. Pibgorn, an upstart of a fairy, falls in love with a human, Geoff (an organist for the local Episcopalian church, no less) who also happens to be the love-interest of Drusilla, an evil demon-fairy (or succubus). The prince of the fairies wants to kill Pibgorn, the lord of Hell wants to kill Drusilla and both of them want to win the heart of Geoff. In typical McEldowney fashion, watch the hilarity ensue.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

15. The Dragon Hoard by Tanith Lee


Title: The Dragon Hoard
Author: Tanith Lee
Copyright: 1971
Pages: 162
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 2-14-08

This was completely a nostalgia read for me. I had this book when I was a kid, and I remembered it the other night, so went hunting on eBay and found it.

It's funny how you can remember some books quite vividly and then others seem to get lost over the years. I remembered parts of this book and seemed to remember it being a bit more of a grand adventure, but that could be the impression my younger self gave the book. As an adult, it's not a bad read, but it's nothing great either.

Tanith Lee's The Dragon Hoard is your typical heroes journey. We follow the adventures of Prince Jasleth as he must find his fortune in the world after an evil relative has cursed him and his twin sister on their 17th birthday. He joins a quest to find the fabled Dragon Hoard, thereby securing his fortune if the quest is completed. Meanwhile, his evil relative will do everything in her power to make sure that the quest is not completed.

Comprised of easy plot lines, easy adventures, easy danger and easy resolutions, I can see why my adult self was just a little on the bored side with this story, while my younger self would have really enjoyed it. This would be a great read for any younger kids who are beginning to be interested in the fantasy genre.

Friday, February 22, 2008

14. The Field Guide by Holly Black, illustrated by Ton DiTerlizzi


Title: The Field Guide
Series: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1
Authors: Holly Black, illustrated by Ton DiTerlizzi
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 113
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars

The Field Guide, the first book in Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's The Spiderwick Chronicles, does a good job of setting up the main characters and plot ideas that the rest of the series will be built on. There are just enough answers given and just enough new questions revealed to want to draw you in to the rest of the series.

The Chronicles follow the adventures of the Grace children after they discover their great uncle's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, a map to the creatures and wonder of the land of Faerie. They are warned of the troubles that can come to them if they continue reading the book, but like most children, they can't help themselves.

Not a challenging read, but a fun one. The illustrations throughout by Tony DiTerlizzi are amazing and really add to the depth of the story. This would be a great book for any kids interested in Faerie or fantasy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

13. The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner


LibraryThing Early Reviewers

January Early Reviewer Selection
Seems fitting that my 13th book read this year is:

Title: The Journal of Curious Letters
Series: The 13th Reality, Book 1
Author: James Dashner
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 429
Format: ARC Paperback through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 2-13-08

The 13th Reality: the Journal of Curious Letters is the first in a series by James Dashner. We follow the adventures of Atticus Higginbottom, or Tick as he likes to be called, as he begins to receive mysterious letters in the mail with clues as to a secret, magical ritual that he will need to perform that will help save the lives of many people. With no idea who is sending the letters or how to perform the ritual other than the enigmatic clues hidden in the letters he receives, Tick must discover the secret to the ritual and where and when to perform it. Gaining some friends along the way, Tick overcomes many obstacles to complete his mission and save the day.

To put it simply, I really enjoyed this book. Reading this as an adult, I didn't find it a particularly challenging book, but I know that when I was younger I would have loved this book just as much, if not more. Not being a parent, I can't always comment on how these books would be perceived by children, but there was one aspect of this book that immediately stood out to me from other books in the genre. In most kids books today, the protagonists are always the same age as the target audience, which is expected, but the kids always feel the need to keep their adventures secret from their parents or the adults most capable of helping them. I suppose the idea is to instill a sense of independence in kids, to give them the feeling that they can do anything, and that's a great attribute to instill in kids. It's what I'd want to do if I were a parent. However, it seems that sometimes this idea that kids need to keep secrets from the adults around them is taken to new levels in some books. What I liked about The Journal of Curious Letters is that Dashner did away with that stereotype and had Tick go to his dad and explain what was going on, and his dad took an active role in the story and the process of discovering the secret behind the mystery. Granted, they then kept the whole secret from Tick's mom, but the idea that Tick appreciated the fact that an adult's input would help him really stood out to me. I thought that this was a nice departure from the norm; that Tick's dad allowed him to be independent and follow through with his mission while being there as a support system for his son. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of the typical young kids books notions in The 13th Reality: like many protagonists, Tick's name is unusual, he's considered an outcast in school, he has an unusual physical feature that we wants to keep hidden, he gains a select number of friends around his same age to join in the adventure; there are secrets galore, a mysterious villain, mental and physical challenges, but he always overcomes these obstacles. The scientific part of the mystery I think will help the book appeal to a wider range of kids, too.

My only real complaint would be that the buildup of the story throughout the book seemed a little long in comparison to the actual ending. I feel that with such a large buildup there could have been more fleshing out of the final battle; it just all seemed a little rushed to me. Either the buildup could have been shortened in some way, or there could have been more time spent on the final sequence with the kids in the 13th Reality. I think the characters could have been developed a little bit more, but this is the first book, so I can excuse that. There's always room in the following books to explore their backgrounds.

I don't know that The 13th Reality series will be a runaway success like some others, but based on the first book, I can't imagine that it will be disregarded either. I think The Journal of Curious Letters, and the series as a whole, should appeal to both kids and adults who enjoy kids books equally. I anxiously await Tick's continuing adventures in the Realities.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

12. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol 2 by Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill


Borrowed this from S as well, so it's not part of my library either.

Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol 2
Authors: Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 228
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Finished: 2-7-08

The second volume in Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's Victorian superhero drama, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, takes everything that made the first volume so enjoyable and made it better. Better villains, even more ingenious literary references and all the elements that make for a good sequel (sabotage, traitors, relationships that weren't there before, teases of things before and yet to come) all made for a great read.

I look forward to reading the future releases in this series.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

11. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol 1 by Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill


Borrowed this from S, so it's not part of my library.

Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol 1
Authors: Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill
Copyright: 2002
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 2-6-08

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1 collects the 6 issue comic series of the same name, written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill and published by America's Best Comics, an imprint of Wildstorm Studios. Following the adventures of several literary "superheroes" during the turn of the last century, the story takes place in an England that is just a step away from reality. The main characters are pulled from classic literature of every genre: there is Mina Murray from Bram Stoker's Dracula, Captain Nemo from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea, Alan Quartermain from H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, the title characters from Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man. There are numerous other references hidden throughout the collection of other literary characters. I felt that a reference guide would be a fun addition to the collection to point out all the easter eggs hidden in the series.

I really enjoyed reading this series. What's not to love: it's witty, smartly written, there is great character interaction, espionage, intrigue, great literary references sprinkled throughout; everything that makes a great reading experience. I give it 4 stars only for the fact that I still feel it would be been a good addition to the collected edition to have a reference guide to all the references.

Monday, February 4, 2008

10. Firefly Lane by Krisitn Hannah


LibraryThing Early Reviewers

December Early Reviewer Selection

Title: Firefly Lane
Author(s): Kristin Hannah
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 479
Format: ARC Paperback through LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 2-4-08

Firefly Lane, Kristin Hannah's latest book, is the story about unlikely friends Kate and Tully and the lifetime of friendship that they created for themselves; the type of friendship that everyone should have, a friend who is more family than friend.

To be honest, the book is rather predictable and reads much like a Lifetime movie, and there are several punctuation and spelling errors (although these may be attributed to being an Advance Readers' Edition), but these problems aside, the book is really enjoyable. Even though I knew what was coming through most of the book, I found myself really caring about the characters. The last two chapters brought the entire story together. Kristin Hannah really understood her characters and their emotions, and portrayed them perfectly.

All errors aside, Firefly Lane is a really good book that could have benefited from some tighter editing. I found myself wanting to skip over sections of the book simply due to the extent of detail that was placed in to make sure the reader knew what decade the story was taking place in. I feel that more emphasis could have been placed on when the girls were younger and when they were living on Firefly Lane; where they cemented their friendship. This particular time in their lives, which the book refers back to frequently, was only briefly touched on. It seems that for such an important time in their lives, this time period would have been more deeply developed. But even with these few flaws, after finishing the book, I found that I had really enjoyed it.