ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.

2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Monday, March 31, 2008

29. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham, et al.

B got me this for my birthday, and I couldn't wait to read it!



Title: Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Series: Fables
Authors: Bill Willingham, et al.
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 140
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 3-30-08

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall is something of a prequel to Bill Willingham's award winning Fables series. Taking place long before the events set forth in the regular series, 1001 Nights (re)tells the tales of several of the inhabitants of Fabletown. I've only ever read the very first Fables collection, Legends in Exile, but I never found myself lost while reading this collection of stories, as these are all based on stories that most of us are already familiar with. I find it extremely innovative how Willingham is able to tie together so many unrelated fairy tales and fables and create a new story with these plot points and bring everything together in a cohesive story that is both original and familiar at the same time.

The art of 1001 Nights is beautifully rendered, each story illustrated by a different artist, including Charles Vess, Brian Bolland, John Bolton, Michael Wm. Kaluta, James Jean, Tara McPherson, Derek Kirk Kim, Esao Andrews, Mark Buckingham, Mark Wheatley and Jill Thompson. Charles Vess' illustrations provide the beginning and ending stories, as Snow White travels as an Ambassador of Fabletown to try to drum up support against The Adversary. She travels to the lands of the Arabian Fables, and the Sultan kidnaps her and intends to marry her and kill her in the morning, but like Scheherazade, Snow tells him a story a night for 1001 nights, thus prolonging her sentence. Each of her tales involves something of a history of the inhabitants of Fabletown, including her own story, thus providing a rich background history to the rest of the Fables world.

If you have not read farther than the first collection of Fables stories, you won't be lost reading 1001 Nights. Since all these stories are based on fairy tales and fables that everyone is familiar with, there isn't much background needed to read 1001 Nights, nor does it appear to spoil anything farther along in the series, and I'm glad that I read this when I did, so that now I will have a more solid base to read the rest of the Fables tales.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Salon: My first try


This is my first time with The Sunday Salon, so please have patience while I learn the ropes! Thanks to my fellow reader and LTer Irisheyz for my discovering this community.

I'm actually in the middle of two books right now.

First off is Jonathan Barnes The Somnambulist. I had an extraordinarily hard time this last week deciding on a book to read. Nothing quite felt right. I finally settled on The Somnambulist as I had been looking forward to it's release since I found out about it through LT's Early Reviewer program and I hadn't gotten around to it yet.

It is just what I needed!

The book opens, "Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever." While I'm only 63 pages into it as of right now, I can't say whether for sure this statement is entirely accurate, but I can say that in those 63 pages I've found the beginnings to a quirky, fun and amusing murder mystery. This is Jonathan Barnes first novel, and thus far, he hasn't disappointed.

The second book I'm working on right now is actually a graphic novel, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall. The comic Fables is written by Bill Willingham and is published by DC Comics imprint, Vertigo. Fables tells the story of our favorite fairy tales, legends and lore as if they lived and breathed in the real world and are living in NYC. Having been forced from their lands by The Adversary, the fairy tales have taken refuge in our mundane world in the area of NYC that they have named Fabletown. These are not necessarily your parents fairy tales. These characters have become slightly jaded in their existence, first being forced from their rightful lands and then being forced to live and fit in with our society. All around, it's an interesting take on the fairy tale as a whole.

Fables: 1001 Night of Snowfall is something of a prequel to the story, where we learn a little background on the characters that populate the Fables world. I've only read the very first Fables collection, Legends in Exile, and so I'm not familiar with all the ins and outs of the characters, but since they are all based on characters that we are mostly familiar with, it hasn't proven that much of a challenge for me. I'm just hoping that it doesn't spoil something for me from farther along in the series.

**edit**
I just finished reading Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall and found that I really enjoyed it! Willingham does an admirable job updating fairy tales to match them with the world of Fables. The art throughout is beautifully rendered (each fairy tales story is created by a different artist) and matches the tone of each story perfectly. Overall, a fun little read.

Now, off to dinner at Mom's house and then back to The Somnambulist!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Year of Reading Dangerously

This looks like it would be a fun challenge, and if it weren't already 3 books into the challenge, I might have considered it. However, I think that I'm going to just watch, and see if I can add the challenge books into my reading without the pressure of needing to participate.

I think I've been spreading myself a little thin with all the book challenges and discussions that I've joined up with over the last couple of months: LT 75 Book Challenge 08, LT Early Reviewer, B&N First Look, Walden Media BookShare, the Sunday Salon, among others. That may be why I can't decide on what book to read for my own enjoyment!

28. Savvy by Ingrid Law

#28



Title: Savvy
Author: Ingrid Law
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 343
Format: ARC Paperback from publisher for review
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 3-25-08

I received this through Walden Media's BookShare Club after reading the first chapter and responding with my thoughts on that first chapter. The first chapter had caught enough of my interest that I wanted to read the rest of the book.

Savvy is not a bad book; far from it. It's just not a book for me. I think that overall, the book was geared towards a younger crowd than I anticipated, and I feel the book tended to be a bit too simplistic. And it suffered from what seems to be a growing annoyance for me: the "charming" kid colloquialisms that are sprinkled on every single page of the book. I get that the books are geared for kids, but when I was younger, I never spoke like the kids do in these books, nor did any of my friends. To me, it almost seems to be talking down to the readers, as if they wouldn't understand the feelings of the characters unless they were put into an easy-to-understand, cute manner. Maybe this is again that the book is geared towards a younger audience than I imagine it should be, and thus is written perfectly for that age group.

What Ingrid Law does a great job of in Savvy is show the strength and importance of family. The book centers around Mibs Beaumont, a twelve-year-old girl who will be turning 13 in two days. What makes her 13th birthday even more special is what makes all the Beaumonts special; that's the day that her savvy will develop. Some savvy's are subtle (like her mother's savvy, which is to be perfect) and some are more violent (like her brother Flash's savvy, which is electricity, or her brother Fish's savvy, who can't live near water for fear of creating another hurricane). The idea of the savvy struck me as being very similar to the development of the powers in mutant children in Marvel Comics' X-Men franchise. I found it interesting to see how Ingrid Law took this same idea and created a non-superhero story out of it. Mibs father is in a car accident 2 days before her birthday, and is hospitalized in the next town over. After her mother and older brother goes to stay with her father, Mibs decides to run away and try to get to the hospital as well, knowing that her as yet undetermined savvy will help him wake up from his coma. She hides on a bus with her brother Fish, their younger brother Samson, and the local preacher's kids, Bobbi and Will.

From here the story develops into a road trip adventure where each of the kids, the bus driver Lester, and Lill (whom they pick up on the side of the road when her car breaks down) learn to be true to themselves and grow into their own person. Ingrid Law does a good job of developing the feelings of each individual character and showing their growth. And while the book has a happy ending, it isn't a perfect happily-ever-after, which I also feel is a strong point for the book; life doesn't always come out just the way you expect it to, and all too often I think that YA books tend to push the idea that it does.

With the few flaws aside (which I feel are really only because I'm obviously not the target audience for this book), Ingrid Law has done an admirable job on her first book, Savvy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Book-to-Movie Review - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Last Friday, S and I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, based on the book of the same title by Winifred Watson (which also happens to be on the list of 1001 Books!). I haven't read the book yet, but OMG, what an adorable film! The funny bits were perfectly balanced with the emotional, "aww" bits to create an entirely warm and fuzzy, make-you-feel good film. Amy Adams is precious as Delysia (Seriously, what kind of a name is Delysia? I'm going to name my first born daughter Delysia, God help the girl.); Frances McDormand is predictably perfect in the role of Miss Pettigrew; Lee Pace is catch-you-off-guard hot (I know he's got that innocent cuteness in Pushing Daisies, even bordering on the yummy, but who knew that he could sing?); and Shirley Henderson (of Moaning Myrtle fame) gave probably my favorite performance of the entire film as Edythe Dubarry, lingerie fashion designer.

The story takes place over the course of one day (hence the title), as Miss Pettigrew is unceremoniously released from her latest governess position. The agency determines that she is unfit for any of their customers, so she basically steals a customer from them: one Delysia Lafosse. The confusion ensues when it is discovered that Delysia is not looking for a governess, but a social secretary; someone to handle her day to day affairs and to help keep her 3 boyfriends from finding out about each other. The movie goes from here, as Miss Pettigrew weaves her magical spell over everyone, until we get to our happily-ever-after. Ah, but who's happily-ever-after? Miss Pettigrew's? Delysia's? And if it is Delysia, which of her 3 suitors will it be? That I can't tell you. You must go see it for yourself to find out. All I can say is that I highly recommend this movie to everyone!


**this film isn't based on a book, but it was so good, I felt it deserved to be mentioned here**

Yesterday, I had been having an extraordinarily crap day, so I decided that I needed a little something to perk myself up, and Penelope just happened to be playing at the local movie theater, and Tuesdays they run their movies at $3.50. Did I mention that the scrumptious James McAvoy stars in Penelope? At that point, a combination of James McAvoy, popcorn and M&M's seemed to me like the perfect way to fix my mood, and I couldn't have been more right. Penelope had looked like a cute movie but it surprised me by turning out to be an extremely well-crafted film, with a very good lesson to be learned at the end.

Christina Ricci stars in the lead role of Penelope, the first girl to be born into her well-off family in generations. This also means that she is the bearer of a family curse; that the first girl to be born into the family will be cursed to look like a pig until she is accepted by one of her own. I don't want to give away too much of the film, but it turns into not only a love story, but also a journey of self-discovery. Reese Witherspoon plays the role of Penelope's friend, Annie, and Catherine O'Hara play Penelope's overly-loving mother. For something that could have been just a bit of fluff, Penelope really surprised my by how well it told it's story. Definitely worth going to see.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Also selected...

I found out today as well that I was also selected as part of a Walden Media Early Reviewer program to read Savvy by Ingrid Law.

Selected for another LT Early Reviewer Book

I was selected as an Early Reviewer for Shawn Granger's Innocent Volume 1: 2006-2007 Collection. I'm looking forward to getting this in the mail!

Thanks again, LT!

27. The Sister by Poppy Adams



Title: The Sister
Author: Poppy Adams
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 275
Format: ARC Paperback from B&N First Look Program
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 3-17-08

I was selected to read Poppy Adams' The Sister through Barnes & Noble's First Look program. I thought the description of the book sounded interesting and the first chapter that they posted intrigued me enough to want to continue reading the story.

I have wanted to like this book. I felt it carried certain elements of Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale; it had a distinctly Gothic feel to the story, and the character of Ginny really intrigued me, as you never find out exactly what to make of her and her eccentricities. What I didn't enjoy about the book was the discussion group set up by B&N. There was a discussion thread set up for each individual chapter, and we weren't supposed to discuss events that happened later in the book, even though the reading was broken down into groups of chapters. It made it all very confusing for me. And then today, the author joined in on the discussion and left a very defensive post on the board concerning a post from one of the other readers, and I agreed with what this other reader was posting, and now I don't want to join in on the discussion with the author, as I don't want to be attacked by the author for what I read into the story, as opposed to what the author intends me to read into the story. Overall, not a very good experience and one that I will not partake in again at B&N, both due to the discussion experience and the author's reaction to her readers.

As for the book itself, not bad for a first time author. While Ms. Adams feels that she has completed in her mind a thoroughly thought out and planned story, I felt that she couldn't really decide how she wanted the story to go. Was it a Gothic mystery? Was the story about alcoholism? Alzheimer's? Dementia? It seemed that there were too many plot points and not enough explanation to let the reader in on what was going on. (Although, I thought this was the point, it would seem from Ms. Adams response on the B&N thread, she intentionally left these plots open so that you could have room to consider all these possibilities, however, she had definite ideas about all these plots in her head, and after the fact, her thoughts are the only ones to be followed.) It seems to be to be weighed down by its own ambiguity.

I need to finish this post, as the discussion on B&N has left me with a sour taste for this book. It gets 3 stars only because I did enjoy it. It may have gotten more had I not been involved in the other discussions, and would probably be getting less if I wasn't trying to hold the book to its own merits and not consider my personal feelings on the matter.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Match It For Pratchett

While it's not news anymore about Terry Pratchett's early onset Alzheimer's, this however was news to me. Apparently his fans are out to match his half-million pound donation to Alzheimer's research. Go and give a couple of bucks!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

26. Maus, A Survivor's Tale I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

#26



Title: Maus, A Survivor's Tale I: My Father Bleeds History
Author: Art Spiegelman
Copyright: 1986
Pages: 159
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-15-08

Maus, A Survivor's Tale is a son's pictorial version of his father's story of survival during WWII. Both haunting and mesmerizing, sometimes funny and touching, this is a story of perseverance and about what the Jews had to suffer through at the hands of the Nazis in WWII Poland. Spiegleman never sugar-coats what his father had to endure in order to keep he and his wife alive. A true work of art.

25. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

#25



Title: Winnie-the-Pooh
Author: A.A. Milne
Copyright: 1926
Pages: 161
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-15-08

The charming and timeless story of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, their friends and their adventures. I truly enjoyed this more than I thought I would. After all the years working at TDS where we had the Disney version of Winnie-the-Pooh shoved at us from all directions, I'd taken to having a distinctly soured view of the bear and all his friends.

It occurred to me one day that I had never actually read the original, and thought maybe I should give that a chance, and am glad that I did. It's a simple and direct story, and proved to be a joy to read.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Free PDF Books = Good or Bad?

Over the last several weeks, I have noticed an growing trend in the publishing world: giving away free PDF files of books and short-stories. The first time I was made aware of this practice was when Random House emailed me a link to a PDF copy of Charles Bock's Beautiful Children. Later that day, I discovered that they were giving away the PDF on www.bn.com as well.

Today, through another blog that I visit regularly I found out that other publishers are doing this as well. I was able to download another 2 books and 2 short stories, and have a link being emailed to me to download yet another book.

I'm of 2 minds about this practice. On the one side, this is a great idea! There is practically no cost to the publisher (and none to the reader for that matter) to get these books promoted and into the readers hands. I have no idea what any of these books are about, but given that I've gotten them for free, I'm willing to give them a try. On the other side, I find myself discouraged at reading a book on my computer. It goes against the fundamental joy of the physical book. But really, if I didn't receive them as these free PDFs, I probably would never have given them a second glance, so I guess the program works. I'll let you know what I think of them as I get them read.

Monday, March 10, 2008

24. The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry by Henry H. Neff

#24



Title: The Hound of Rowan: Book One of The Tapestry
Author: Henry H. Neff
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 414
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-9-08

In Henry H. Neff's The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry, we are introduced to Max McDaniels, a thirteen year old boy who stumbles upon a room in the Chicago Institute of Art where he finds a strange tapestry, whose pictures seem to move and produce music. After discovering the tapestry, he finds a note in his pocket telling him to expect a visitor who happens to work for Rowan Academy, a school that specializes in nurturing the talents of kids with special abilities.

Setting aside the inevitable HP comparison, I found myself enjoying this book immensely. The book follows Max's first year at Rowan, where he discovers that he may be in possession of powerful magic. There is a great, ancient evil that was thought destroyed but may not be, and a legion of followers who are working to help the ancient evil regain control. There are several other similarities to HP; Max turns out to be extraordinarily good at the school's chosen sport; he has the possibility of having a huge amount of power at his disposal that he is unaware of; the school becomes his safe haven from the Enemy; the town next door is privy to the secrets of the school, and the students are allowed to spend some of their free time there; Max starts a rivalry with another student almost immediately upon entering the school; there is even a kind-hearted giant who the kids befriend (in this case, a reformed ogre who works in the kitchens); there are some other similarities to HP, but revealing those would give away some of the story. For as much as the book does seem to mirror HP, there are just as many differences within the story to make it stand on its own; Max loves his family and doesn't want to stay at the school; the magic is tied directly to ancient Irish lore rather than a more fabricated background; there is also some science tied in with the magic behind the school, so while I can see where people would jump to the conclusion that Neff is trying to create his own version of HP, I just can't see it that way. He is trying to create a world that is entirely his, and just so happens to be using some of the same techniques that JK Rowling herself borrowed from other stories to create hers; because in all fairness JKR didn't come up with these ideas all on her own. She's just become really famous for it.

I'm giving it 4 stars because Neff knows how to move his story along and ties up the plot lines nicely, leaving just enough questions to make the sequel worthwhile. I would like to see fewer plot devices akin to HP; while I understand that it is hard to not compare YA books to HP these days, there did seem to be a few too many similarities. Neff has proven that he can create a world all his own, now I'd like to see him take it further in his own direction.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Finished Reading...

The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry by Henry H. Neff. Will post up further thoughts on it later, but overall, I really enjoyed this book.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Book in the Mail

Forgot to mention that I also have Atonement on the way in the mail, too. I need to close up my QPB membership, so I ordered this the other day to fulfill my membership requirement.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Books in the mail

I've got James Dashner's The Journal of Curious Letters: the 13th Reality, Book 1 and The Gift of Ice: the Jimmy Fincher Saga, Book 2 and Marilyn Kaye's Penelope coming in the mail from Amazon. I wanted to pick up JCL at B&N the other day, but they didn't have it in stock, so I decided to order it from Amazon, and discovered they had Penelope on sale for $1.40. I figure the movie version of Penelope looks cute (plus it has the yummy James McAvoy!) so I thought I'd give the book a try and for $1.40, that's practically free!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Curses!

My local B&N didn't have The Journal of Curious Letters in stock. I really wanted to pick up a copy to show support for the book today. Oh well, I got them to order 5 copies and I ordered one off of Amazon too.

Book Release: The Journal of Curious Letters: the 13th Reality, Book 1 by James Dashner

James Dashner's The Journal of Curious Letter: the 13th Reality, Book 1 is released today. I received this as part of LT's Early Reviewer Program, and loved it! I highly recommend this book and am telling everyone I know to check it out.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Book in Progress: The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry by Henry H. Neff

I'm currently reading Henry H. Neff's The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry. Setting aside the inevitable HP comparison, I find myself enjoying this book immensely. The book follows the adventures of Max McDaniels, a boy who may be in possession of powerful magic, and who is sent to a secret, specialized school in order to learn how to harness that power. There is a great, ancient evil that was thought destroyed but may not be, and a legion of followers who are working to help the ancient evil regain control. There are several other similarities to HP (Max turns out to be extraordinarily good at the school's chosen game; he has the possibility of having a huge amount of power at his disposal that he is unaware of; the school becomes his safe haven from the Enemy; the town next door is privy to the secrets of the school, and the students are allowed to spend some of their free time there; there is even a kind-hearted gameskeeper who the kids befriend) but there are just as many differences within this story to make it stand out (Max loves his family and doesn't want to stay at the school; the magic is tied directly to ancient Irish lore rather than a more fabricated background; there is also some science tied in with the magic behind the school), so while I can see where people would jump to the conclusion that Neff is trying to create his own version of HP, I just can't see it that way. He is trying to create a world that is entirely his, and just so happens to be using some of the same techniques that JK Rowling herself borrowed from other stories to create hers; because in all fairness JKR didn't come up with these ideas all on her own. She's just become really famous for it.

The real reason I picked up this book is because the title initially caught my eye, as my screen name is tapestry100. After reading the description and seeing as the book starts in Chicago, and appears to end in Ireland (or at least is tied to Irish lore), and as these are two of my favorite places, I decided to take a chance on the book, and so far I've not been disappointed.

More thoughts when I finish the book.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

21-23. Lady Cottington's Books by Brian Froud

Needed something a little whimsical today, so...



Title: Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book
Series: Lady Cottington
Author: Brian Froud
Copyright: 1994
Pages: 61
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-1-08

Title: Lady Cottington's Fairy Album
Series: Lady Cottington
Author: Brian Froud
Copyright: 2002
Pages: 64
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-1-08

Title: Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Letters
Series: Lady Cottington
Author: Brian Froud
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-1-08

What started out as what I assume to be a bit of comic relief, Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, and its subsequent volumes, turned into something of its own fairy tale. Through each volume, we gain a little more insight into the world of Angelica Cottington, who masters the art of pressing fairies in her books, to preserve them and show the world the truth. I give each book 4 stars, but really, the second book is what brings the three volumes together as something more than whimsy.

The first book, Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, I'm quite sure was meant nothing more than a bit of humor. We follow the adventures of Lady Cottington as a small girl as she begins to notice the fairies around her and as she discovers the pressing technique to preserve them in her books. In Lady Cottington's Fairy Album we learn a little more of Lady Cottington's heritage, and this is where I think the series, while still deep in it's whimsical foundations, takes a turn for the more "serious." With Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Letters, we are presented with letters from the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rasputin, Houdini, Helen Keller and more, as Lady Cottington continues her journey of discovery.

The artwork throughout remains consistently humorous, with each fairy pressing more ridiculous than the last. A truly unique reading experience.

20. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

#20



Title: Like Water for Chocolate
Author: Laura Esquivel
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 241
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 3-1-08

A delightful little book, Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate is almost a modern-day fairy tale. Told in monthly installments, the novel is simultaneously story and cookbook, filled with both recipes and home remedies and as well as the story of Tita, our heroine, who was born, raised and taught in the kitchen, and who has the amazing ability to cook her emotions into her marvelous recipes. Tita's story is one of longing, love and the need to be her own person; to escape the tyrannical presence of her mother and create her own life with the man she loves. It's a relatively fast read, but enjoyable all the same.