Monday, November 14, 2011

"The Next Always" by Nora Roberts

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumoured hauntings. Now it's getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there's another project he's got his eye on: the girl he's been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town's bookstore. But Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett's transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look ... at the building and the man behind it. These stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next ...

I have become a real fan of Nora Roberts novels and I was excited to see her latest release ... this series is set around three brothers and their restoration of a local Inn. Beckett is the youngest brother and he has been in love with Clare since high school. He has his chance with romancing her when she moves back to the town after being widowed. While a lot of the novel talks about the restoration of the Inn I was quite intrigued with that side of it and felt it fitted with the story quite well. I loved the play between the three brothers and being a mum of three boys myself loved to see that they did care and love each other. Each of the three brothers have strong personalities and each bring their own unique skills into the restoration of the Inn. Beckett seems to be the more sensitive of the three boys and has a wonderful fatherly appeal to him as he relates to Clare's boys.

The three women that are the main characters in this story are all strong in their own right, but each longs for a partner that they can share everything with. Clare is a widow who has three young boys that she looks after, a book store that she owns and runs, and a guy that just won't leave her alone to contend with. Having had to deal with all that by herself for such a long time, she struggles to let Beckett help with some of the load. I love the way that they both learn to give and take and to trust each other.

There is also a side story with the Inn beginning haunted and at first seemed a little weird but I did start to enjoy the play of the ghost in the story. I actually hope we get to learn a bit more about who the ghost is in the next two novels.

Overall I would give this book a 4 star rating, i really enjoyed it.

Warning there is some bad language in this novel which to me was not necessary but it doesn't detract from the story.

It's a light read for those rainy days....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Well it has been a while since I posted on here but hopefully that will change. I have a load of books that I have read and a bookcase of new books just waiting to be read :) .....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"The Help" Kathryn Stockett

Book club read for August.
Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962.
Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver ...
There's Aibileen, raising her seventeeth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.
Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell ...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pegasus Robin McKinley

Because she was a princess,
she had a pegasus....
Princess Sylviianel has always known that on her twelfth birthday
she too would be bound to her own pegasus.
All members of the royal family have been thus bound since the Alliance
was made almost a thousand years ago; the binding system
was created to strengthen the Alliance, because humans and pegasi can only
communicate formally, through specially trained Speaker magicians.
Sylvi is accustomed to seeing pegasi every day at the palace, but she still finds the idea
of her binding very daunting. The official phrase is that your pegasus is your
"Excellent Friend."
But how can you be friends with someone you can't talk too?
But everything is different for Sylvi and Ebon from the moment they meet at her binding -
when they discover they can talk to each other.
They form so close a bond that it becomes a threat to the status quo -
and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
For some of the magicians believe there is a reason humans and pegasi should not
fully understand each other....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Discussion Questions for Perfume by Patrick Suskind

1. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born in a food market that had been erected above the Cimetiere des Innocents, the "most putrid spot in the whole kingdom" [p. 4]. He barely escapes death at his birth; his mother would have let him die among the fish guts as she had her four other children. But Grenouille miraculously survives. How would you relate the circumstances of his birth to the life he grows up to live?

2. When the wet nurse refuses to keep Grenouille because he has no smell and therefore must be a "child of the devil" [p. 11], Father Terrier takes him in. But he is exasperated. He has tried to combat "the superstitious notions of the simple folk: witches and fortune-telling cards, the wearing of amulets, the evil eye, exorcisms, hocus-pocus at full moon, and all the other acts they performed" [p. 14]. In what ways can Perfume be read as a critique of the eighteenth century's conception of itself as the Age of Reason? Where else in the novel do you find rationality being overcome by baser human instincts?

3. Throughout the novel, Grenouille is likened to a tick. Why do you think Süskind chose this analogy? In what ways does Grenouille behave like a tick? What does this analogy reveal about his character that a more straightforward description would not?

4. Grenouille is born with a supernaturally developed sense of smell. He can smell the approach of a thunderstorm when there's not a cloud in the sky and wonders why there is only one word for smoke when "from minute to minute, second to second, the amalgam of hundreds of odors mixed iridescently into ever new and changing unities as the smoke rose fromthe fire" [p. 25]. He can store and synthesize thousands of odors within himself and re-create them at will. How do you interpret this extraordinary ability? Do you think such a sensitivity to odor is physically possible? Do you feel Süskind wants us to read his novel as a kind of fable or allegory? Why do you think Süskind chose to build his novel around the sense of smell instead of one of the other senses? What challenges does the author face when writing about the sense of smell?

5. What motivates Grenouille to commit his first murder? What does he discover about himself and his destiny after he has killed the red-haired girl?

6. Do the descriptions of life in eighteenth-century France—the crowded quarters, the unsanitary conditions, the treatment of orphans, the punishment of criminals, etc.—surprise you? How are these conditions related to the ideals of enlightenment, reason, and progress that figure so prominently in eighteenth-century thinking?

7. How does Süskind treat religion in the novel?

8. The perfumer Baldini initially regards Grenouille with contempt. He explains, "Whatever the art or whatever the craft—and make a note of this before you go!—talent means next to nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything" [p. 74]. And yet Grenouille is able to concoct the most glorious perfumes effortlessly and with no previous experience or training. What do you think the novel as a whole conveys about the relationship between genius and convention, creativity and destruction, chaos and order?

9. The narrator remarks, "Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it" [p. 82]. Do you think this is true? Why would an odor have such power? In what ways does Grenouille use this power to his advantage?

10. Some reviewers have claimed that the Süskind's writing in Perfume is "verbose and theatrical, " while others have described it as "sensuous and supple." Clearly, the writing is more extravagantly imaginative than the pared down minimalism of much recent American fiction. How do you respond to Süskind's prose? How do you respond to the critical reactions outlined above?

11. Grenouille is introduced as "one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages" [p. 3]. Does Süskind manage to make him a sympathetic character, in spite of his murders and obsessions? Or do you find him wholly repellent? How might you explain Grenouille's actions? To what extent do his experiences shape his behavior? Do you think he is inherently evil?

12. When Grenouille emerges from his self-imposed seven-year exile, he is brought to the attention of the marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse, whose theory that "life could develop only at a certain distance from the earth, since the earth itself constantly emits a corrupting gas, a so-called fluidum letale, which lames vital energies and sooner or later totally extinguishes them" [pp. 139 - 140] seems to explain Grenouille's sad condition. This theory also contends that all living creatures therefore "endeavor to distance themselves from the earth by growing" upwards and away from the earth [p. 140]. What attitudes and beliefs is Süskind satirizing through the character of Taillade-Espinasse?

13. Grenouille becomes, toward the end of the novel, a kind of olfactory vampire, killing young women to rob them of their scents. "What he coveted was the odor of certain human beings: that is, those rare humans who inspire love. These were his victims" [p. 188]. Why does he need the scents of these people?

14. In the novel's climatic scene, just as Grenouille is about to be executed, he uses the perfume he's created to turn the townspeople's hatred for him into love and to inspire an orgy which collapses class distinctions and pairs "grandfather with virgin, odd-jobber with lawyer's spouse, apprentice with nun, Jesuit with Freemason's wife—all topsy-turvy, just as opportunity presented" [p. 239]. Grenouille is revered and regards himself as godlike in this triumph. Does he enjoy this moment, or is it a hollow victory? What is the novel suggesting about the nature of human love? About order and disorder?

15. After Grenouille leaves the town of Grasse, where he has caused so much death and suffering, his case is officially closed and we're told, "The town had forgotten it in any event, forgotten it so totally that travelers who passed through in the days that followed and casually inquired about Grasse's infamous murderer of young maidens found not a single sane person who could give them any information" [p. 247]. Why do the townspeople react this way? Why isn't it possible for them to integrate what has happened into their daily consciousness?

16. How do you interpret the novel's ending, as Grenouille returns to the Cimetiere des Innocents and allows himself to be murdered and eaten by the criminals who loiter there? What ironies are suggested by the narrator's assertion that Grenouille's killers had just done something, for the first time, "out of love" [p. 255]?

17. Perfume is set in eighteenth-century France and tells an extravagant story of a man possessed with a magical sense of smell and a bizarrely destructive obsession. Do its historical setting and fantastic elements make it harder or easier to identify with? What contemporary issues and anxieties does the story illuminate?

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Perfume" by Patrick Suskind

Book club read for May
In eighteeth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most
gifted and abominable personages in an era that
knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.
His name was Jean-Baptise Grenouille, and if his name has been forgotten
today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short
of those more famoius blackguards when it came to arrogance,
misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness,
but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain
that leaves no traces in history:
to the fleeting realm of scent...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Juliet" by Anne Fortier

Book Club Read for March
Of all the great Love stories ever told,
hers is perhaps the most famous.
To me, she is the key to my family's fate.
To you, she is Juliet.
When a young woman inherits the key to a safety deposit box in Siena,
she is told it will lead to an old family treasure.
This mysterious legacy leads her on a dangerous journey into the past -
and to the true story of her ancestor, Giulietta, whose love for a
young man named Romeo turned medieval Siena upside down.
In Siena, the past and the present collide as she crosses paths
with the descendants of the families involved in the blood feud that inspired
Shakespeare's famous tragedy. It soon becomes clear that the
notorious curse "A plague on both your houses" is still at work -
and she is the next target. Only someone like Romeo,
it seems, could save her from a dreaded fate, but his story
ended long ago. Or did it?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Discussion Questions for My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

Warning contains spoilers ...

1. The end of My Name Is Mary Sutter is both satisfying and surprising. What was your response to the conclusion of each character's story?

2. Women's rights have greatly expanded since Mary's time, but do you believe that women are still limited by prejudice as to what they can or should do professionally? Do you believe men and women should have different roles or responsibilities within society?

3. Beyond Mary, which character did you find the most interesting? Why? Which character did you find the least interesting?

4. Blevens explains that he cannot accept Mary as an apprentice because of the Civil War. Do you believe he would have taken her on had the war not begun? Why?

5. As a woman and midwife, Mary has a particular kind of medical knowledge; Blevens and Stipp have another. What are the values and limitations of each? How does Mary eventually blend the two?

6. Describe Mary and Jenny's relationship. What type of tensions exist? Consider the relationship from both women's perspectives.

7. "From labor to death, she thought, despite every moment at the breast, every reprimand, every tender tousle of hair, every fever fought, every night spent worrying, it came to this: you couldn't protect your children from anything, not even from each other" (page 43). Do you believe Amelia is right? What experiences from your own life make you feel this way?

8. How is Dr. Blevens affected by his experiences during the Civil War?

9. From Jake to Thomas to William Stipp, there is a wide range of male characters in the novel. What type of masculinity does each demonstrate?

10. Have you ever struggled with the same kind of professional or personal obstacles that Mary does? How did you handle it? What did you learn from the experience?

11. The book followed many characters and one of these characters was Abraham Lincoln. Do you think that it was necessary to have Lincoln’s viewpoint be part of the story?

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Bleeding Violet" by Dia Reeves [4]

Love ...
can be a dangerous thing.
Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas, in search of a new home.
But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.
This is one strange book and I'm still not sure if I like it or not?
A word of warning first: and I've taken these words from another blogger because she has put it better than I can....
"Beware that this is not a wholesome story! It is dark, gory, sensual and violent. Not for the squeamish; it deals with mental illness, teenage sex, violence and even a suicide attempt." This is definitely a young adult read.
This was a debut novel for this author and she did really well, the story is very odd and unique and it has substance that keeps you very intrigued even if your not sure that you like it or not. I did find it a little confusing at the start but it seems to even it self out and make sense as you go along. The characters are a very interesting bunch and they all hold their own as part of the story but for me I just couldn't relate to any of them, but that didn't detract anything from the novel. The author writes with amazing detail and has a fantastic imagination to be able to see all the weird things that make up this unique novel.
" How do you know I'm a transient?"
I asked the oldest girl, who didn't know me from Eve.
She took me in at a glance and went back to pouring cups of juice.
"Bright, stupid clothes. No visible scars.
But especially your eyes. You can always tell by the eyes. Yours ain't
never seen anything real."
This is one novel that all you lovers of Fantasy will just eat up with relish... monsters, mayhem, violence, romance, and all the other stuff that makes up a good fantasy novel. While I'm still undecided as to whether I enjoyed the novel i will rate it as 4 stars because it is well written, just not quite my cup of tea. Gorgeous cover and that's why I picked it up in the first place.
I rate this book 4 stars.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Once a Witch" by Carolyn MacCullough [3 1/2]

Tasmin Green comes from a long line of witches, and on the day she was born, her grandmother proclaimed she would be one of the most Talented among them.
But Tamsin's magic never showed up.
now, seventeen years later, she spends most of her time at boarding school in Manhattan, where she can at least pretend to be normal. But during the summers, she's forced to return home and work at her family's bookstore/magic shop.
One night a handsome young professor from New York University arrives in the shop and mistakes Tamsin for her extremely Talented older sister. For once, it's Tamsin who's being looked at with awe and admiration, and before she can stop herself, she agrees to find a family heirloom for him that was lost more than a century ago. But the search - and the stranger - prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the past sins of her family, and unleash a power so strong and so vengeful that it could destroy them all.

This is a really enchanting story for young teens... time travel, sibling rivalry, witchcraft, romance and that all important first kiss. It's the classic story of good verses evil. It's a very easy read and one that will definitely appeal to the younger teen. The character of Tamsin is feisty and strong but she struggles with who she is...she is a very likable character. Gabriel is the main male role and he has been Tamsin's best friend when they were younger but he moved away and they never stayed in touch, but sparks fly when they meet again for the first time. Tamsin's not sure how to react to him and that makes it even more interesting. The plot is a little predictable but it keeps you interested. This is really a novel for the young teens. The sequel is to be released in August 2011 and entitle "Always a Witch"

As Irish would say "A good wee read"

I rate this book 3 1/2 stars.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Passage by Justin Cronin (5)

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

I purchased this book because: I had heard alot about it so wanted to see if was any good

The opening Lines: Before she became the Girl from Nowhere - the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years - she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy, Amy Harper Bellafonte.

Pages in Novel: A Massive 766

I am lovin the cover to this book ... And am so pleased that Ridley Scott has already picked this novel up to do a movie version because it will be awesome. The only frustrating thing I can say about this book is that the way that it ends. After reading over 700 pages for it to suddenly end the way it does to discovering that we have to wait until 1212 for the next installment is just mean ...

Someone described this book as Dracula meets The Road and I would have to agree ... Although these Vampires are not the nice good looking smart Vampires that we are used to but the ugly fast rip out your throat in 1 second kind .... Which I loved ...

This is a monster of a book with over 750 pages and it is small writing as well ... It is divided into three different sections and periods of time and is very cleverly done ... You get a real sense of the characters and you cannot help but go on the journey with them ... This is definitely an adult book as there are graphic scenes of violence and adult content ... But I loved it ....

The beginning of the novel is set around our time period and introduces the main characters of Amy, Lacey, Carter and Wolgast. And how each comes from different worlds but how there lives will be intertwined together for years to come. When a secret government experiment goes wrong and 12 dangerous, changed killers are released into the world the effect on the world will never be the same ...

The second part of the novel jumps forward 100 years in the future ... Where we see just how the world has changed ... And we are introduced to a group of survivors and their world ... There is not really alot to look forward to just keeping alive and surviving ... The power is running out and the Virals are coming ...

Can a 6 year old girl manage to save the world ..... You are just going to have to read the book and find out ...

Some of my favourite quotes are:

He said he had a plan, but the only plan that she could see seemed to be him sitting in the house doing nothing for Amy or even cleaning up the breakfast dishes, while she worked all day. Pg 6

I feel as if I've entered a new era of my life. What strange place our lives can carry us to. Pg 24

She believed that this was how the world felt to most people, even those closest to her, her parents and sisters and friends at school; they lived their whole lives in a prison of drab silence, a world without a voice. Pg 55

OBE. Overcome by events. That was what was happening now. The world-the human race-had been overcome by events. Pg 233

It's morning; you're alive. pg 310

"Those batteries are like a woman, Michael," he liked to say. "You've got to learn to listen." Pg 314

"I don't believe that," Arlo said. "And I can't believe you do either. If that's all there is, what's the point of anything." Pg 335

"We've all got our jobs to do, right?," She took his hand again and squeezed it, as if to seal a bargain between them. "Mine apparently is to do as I'm told and not be difficult. So for now, that's what I'm going to do." Pg 375

The harder he tried to be a husband, the less she felt like a wife to him, until - and this was the bad part, the part that didn't seem fair to her - she'd found herself actually disliking him. pg 437

Someone once told me that part of you lives on so long as somebody remembers you. Pg 670

I am sooooo excited for the next part to this but frustrated that I will have to wait at least another year for it ....... grrrrrrrrrrrrr ........

So if you like your vamps, end of the world, fast paced action novel this one is for you :)

I rate this book 5*****

An interview with the author where he answers some questions about the book .....

Books in the Series
1) The Passage
2) The Twelve ( coming out some point 1212 )

Friday, January 7, 2011

Discussion Questions for Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

1. How did you like the book? Is it in keeping with your feelings with the MI series?

2. Who are your favorite or least favorite new characters?

3. What were some surprises for you in this book?

4. What questions do you still have and where do you think this series is going?

5. What do you think Will is going to ask Magnus in the Epilogue?

6. What is the Pandemonium Club? The Shadowhunters think the Club has more power than it actually does. Why do they have that impression? What has been done to manipulate the Club's image?

7. Tessa gradually uncovers information about herself and her powers, but she still knows very little about why she was "created." Why is it important to her and to the Shadowhunters to find out? How does Tessa's view of herself change over the course of the story?

8. Chapter 3 begins with a Robert Browning quote, "Love, hope, fear, faith—these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character." Do you agree? What other characteristics do you think are the hallmarks of humanity?

9. Tessa, Jessamine, and Charlotte all have very different ideas about the appropriate roles for women. How much of each woman's attitude do you think comes from the beliefs of the day, and how much from her own experiences?

10. Why are books so important to Tessa? What do they add to her life? Do the Shadowhunters have things in their life that serve this same purpose?

11. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is mentioned several times throughout the story, most noticeably when Will and Tessa are about to enter de Quincey's party. Why do you think the author chose this particular book? What themes are common to both?

12. How does Jem deal with his addiction and its effect on his health and his life? Has it changed his personality? Why does he ask the others to stop searching for a cure; why do they agree? Is his reaction to addiction normal?

13. Will's philosophy can be summed up by a quote by Horace, "Pulvis et umbra sumus," which means "We are dust and shadows." Why do you think this resonates with him so deeply? Do his actions bear witness to this belief?

14. What caused de Quincey to betray the Nephilim? Were the Nephilim surprised by this betrayal? Should they have been?

15. Clockwork Angel is set in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. Why are the clockwork people so frightening to Tessa and the Shadowhunters? How does the Magister's clockwork army affect the power balance in his fight against the Shadowhunters?

16. What does Tessa want from her relationship with Will? Why does Will force distance between them?

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for some of the discussion Questions

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