Friday, October 29, 2010

Hard Times

2010 has been a difficult year for so many people. 

Personally, my family has been struggling financially as my husband has been out of work for five months now.  We have been limping along but our rent will go up by about $300 this December. So, we may be looking at giving up our beloved rental home of four years and seriously downgrading.  But I am grateful for the roof over our heads, the food on our table, the clothes on our backs, our health and each other.

Yesterday, a dear friend contacted me about the dissolution of his marriage. It absolutely broke my heart. This the FIFTH close friend that has gone through this in 2010.  Three of those individuals were my bridal attendents.  One of the failed marriages is of the godparents of my child. 

It is a good reminder for me to make sure I let my husband know how much I love and appreciate him.  In the hard times, it is easy to let stress, exhaustion, frustration and resentment take over.  In the good times, we can get so busy that we neglect each other and take each other for granted.  We need to remember to tell the people in our lives how important they are to us and how much we love and appreciate them. This may not solve all the problems in all of our relationships but it IS important.

The holidays are right around the corner.  I'm going to make an extra special effort to focus on the things I am thankful for this November. In December, I'm going to remember the greatest gifts in my life.  The ones that don't cost money or come in brightly wrapped packages. 

And on December 31, I'm going to hope for a Happy New Year in 2011 that will bring better things for the people I care about. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
There are so many wonderful new series out for young readers right now and this one has a lot of potential.  In the city of Jewel, the citizens prize the safety of their children above anything else.  All children must wear guard-chains from birth until their age of separation as teenagers.  These chains connect children to adults at all times in order to keep them safe. When the children are not in the care of their parents, they are connected to one of the city's Blessed Guardians. Goldie cannot wait to be free of her guard chain but, on her day of Separation, tragedy strikes and the Separation is cancelled. Goldie manages to run away and find refuge in the mysterious Museum of Thieves.  The Museum holds not only the history of the city but also helps to maintain a delicate balance in the state of the world. When an evil plot threatens that delicate balance, Goldie must join with the keepers of the museum in order to protect everyone she loves.
I loved the idea of the guard chains as a metaphor for how young children often feel. As a society, we are becoming more and more protective of our children.  The days of children roaming around their neighorhoods until dinner are over.  There is too much fear about what has happened.  Tanner hints at this change in society through her depiction of Jewel.  The guard chains are a tangible reminder of the adult fear that can constrict and limit children.  When Goldie confronts a life-threatening situation within the Museum, she simply stands still and waits for someone to rescue her.  As a result of a lifetime of being over-protected, she has not developed any self-preservation skills. As she spends more time at the museum, she slowly develops those skills. I love how this book empowers children and has a strong female protagonist.  My one problem with it was that the bad guys seemed to obvious and stereotypical.  The Museum itself is fascinating and original and I look forward to seeing how the series develops.
PARENTAL ADVISORY:  While there are some scary parts in this book, there is nothing beyond what one would find in a Harry Potter novel. The bad guys are really rotten and there are physical threats to both adults and children. Some younger children may also be disturbed by the fact that the government can throw one's parents into a deep, dark dungeon if they don't comply.  Everyone makes it through the book more and less unharmed, however.
BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  While some of the book was a little predictable, the museum itself is fascinating and I enjoyed the variety of characters.  There are lots of original ideas here and I look forward to seeing how they are developed throughout the series.

Friday, October 08, 2010

ADAM AND EVE by Sena Jeter Naslund

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

In 2017, Lucy Bergmann's astrophysicist husband is murdered just before delivering some ground-breaking work on the existence of extraterrestrial life.  Lucy carries the flash drive holding his research around her neck, reluctant to share it with anyone.

Several years later, Lucy is being stalked by members of a fundamentalist sect called Perpetuity.  The members of this sect come from a variety of belief backgrounds united in the desire to maintain their fundmentalist perspective and to stop anything that would threaten it.  Lucy becomes involved with Pierre Saad, an anthropologist who may have found another set of scrolls that could redefine the Genesis story. Lucy attempts a daring escape with the scrolls out of Egypt only to crash in an Eden-like oasis.  Here, she meets Adam, a damaged American vet who helps to nurse her back to health in their own Garden of Eden.

What a mess!!! This book is all over the place.  At first, I had hoped it would be something akin to Sagan's CONTACT. It wasn't.  The author cannot decide what she wants the book to be.  First, we are looking at science and the possible presence of extraterrestrial life. Then, we skip to the discovery of ancient scrolls that could change the creation story of several religions. Then, we have the sinister bad guys in the form of Perpetuity. Oh, and a love story between Adam and "Eve" in their modern garden of Eden.  But then there are new characters introduced and new relationships in the form of Pierre Saad and his daughter and a journey into a cave with ancient art.  Too much!!!  The characters are weak and confusing and I couldn't understand what the point was. The ending was just bizarre. It made no sense whatsoever.

BOTTOM LINE:  NOT recommended. This may be the worst book I have read this year. Possibly because I expected so much more. Naslund has good ideas but the book is a mess.  She can't decide what she wants it to be and ends up just frustrating the reader.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Notes in the Margin

New galleys are slowly starting to trickle in. 

I received a new children's title called MUSEUM OF THIEVES by Lian Tanner and a beautiful-looking galley called THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL by Michael David Lukas and MUST YOU GO? : MY LIFE WITH HAROLD PINTER by Antonia Fraser.

A few that should be arriving soon:

THE DISTANT HOURS by Kate Morton (Love her previous book THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN)


THE RED GARDEN by Alice Hoffman

I should be done with ADAM AND EVE by Naslund soon so be watching for a review. I was really excited to see that ROOM by Donoghue is doing so well.  It may very well be my favorite book this year. I have been fighting a cold for two weeks and my little one is also sick so my reading has slowed a bit.  But Fall is finally here and, as it is my favorite season, it always invigorates me. 

I have to find some time to sew Noodlebug's Halloween costume. He is going as the Cat in the Hat and his father and I are going as Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Hopefully....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I follow several mystery series but it can sometimes be hard to keep track of when new books in the series are coming out. Do you have that problem too?

I just heard about this new site you can subscribe to that will help you track your favorite series. It's called FictFact and it's free! I can look up with Agatha Raisin series by MC Beaton and sign up to follow this series. I will then be alerted when new titles become available. Genius!!!
I'm going to go look up all my favorite series right now!!!

Friday, October 01, 2010


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Beefeater Balthazar, his family and their 180-year-old tortoise live in the Tower of London.  Balthazar and his wife are still reeling from the loss of their young son three years ago.  As they struggle to maintain their lives and marriage, they are surrounded by a lively and amusing cast of characters.  When Balthazar is given the responsibility of maintaining the Tower's new menagerie of animals, his life will never be the same. 

Full of interesting trivia about the Tower and its history, this is an utterly charming story about the inhabitants of the Tower and the challenges of their daily lives. Everyone seems to have a secret.  I found myself laughing out loud many times while also tearing up at some of the more endearing and heartwrending parts.  The bizarre cast of characters doesn't stop at the animals and the ancient tortoise. There is a lovesick vicar who writes erotic fiction, a philandering Ravenmaster, a Head Yeoman plagued by ghosts and many others.  I didn't want it to end.  I can definitely envision this as a film. Or, better yet, a BBC show.  All of the characters are interesting and speak to our own desires and secrets.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. Absolutely charming.  Fans of the GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY will like this one.  A perfect blend of history and touching fiction.

Should you wish to purchase this title, this book link will take you to IndieBound.
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