Friday, March 30, 2007

Speak No Evil by Allison Brennan

Summary: A serial killer is stalking college girls and has the police baffled -- the victim was targeted through her online sex journal.

Title: Speak No Evil

Author: Allison Brennan

Genre: Thriller

The Take-Away: I really liked how this novel brought to light the sort of things that are found on the internet and how people are never "anonymous." It was good, in an extremely scary sort of way. The reaction of some secondary characters highlighted how even playing it safe can lead to problems with young users.

For instance, one had a 13 or 14 year old daughter. Always anonymous, never any specific details. However, when her journal and that of two or three friends were viewed together, someone could, and had, figured out where they lived and what school they went to. The focus point for the stalker? A basketball game recounted without team names or mascots, but with the score and location of the game.

I applaud Allison for bringing such a touchy topic to light in her novel. Hopefully it will spark a few conversations at the dinner table.

As far as the story line, resolution, character arcs, etc., Allison is a fantastic writer with a great legal background. Her novels are fast paced and a great air plane read.

Recommendation: Check it out.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Women Get Paid Less

Not really a rock your world headline, but Jory Des Jardins' angle is.

Digging deeper, Babcock found that, of the graduates surveyed, 57 percent of the men negotiated for a higher salary, but only 7 percent of the women did. And of the graduates who did negotiate, they increased their salaries 7.4 percent--nearly an identical discrepancy to the difference between men's and women's salaries.

Women ask for less. Jory goes on to explain why that is. It's more than men holding us back or women not just asking for more. The discrimination starts at our desks.

Neale, the co-author of Negotiating Rationally and Power and Influence in Organizations is a full-fledged negotiation expert who has studied the conditions under which they are most effective.

And data shows that hiring managers are likely to be more turned off by women who ask for more money than by men who do. But get this: FEMALE hiring managers are more turned off by it than men.

This could be because women may be imposing their own issues with asking for more money onto female candidates, Neale says. But with this reality in mind, how do women get what they need out of negotiations?

Note: Jory has the links to the originals. Click through to her article for more.

It's a great eye-opener, especially if you are negotiating a new job or a raise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Man with a Past by Kay Stockham

Summary: A new-comer to the town needs a handy man who can turn her newly purchased home into a B&B. The only man willing to work for the salary she can offer just finished serving his prison sentence.

Title: Man with a Past

Author: Kay Stockham

Genre: Fiction

The Take-Away: I was skeptical about this title. It's a Harlequin Superromance, that I got for free from the eHarlequin site. It was better than I expected. It was rather forgettable also, but worth the time spent in a brainless, easily entertained, too tired to actually read anything way. (Gosh, that sounds bad.) Some women really like Harlequins. I found them to be too formula-ish in the past for my taste. The characters were good, even if the plot was a bit contrived.

Recommendation: Better than I expected, but nothing I'd rush to get.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rejection Hotline

Dating advice isn't something that I normally am looking for or passing along, but this was too good to pass up.

A college roommate posted about a "Rejection Hotline" -- a fake number to give to someone that you don't want to know your actually number. Instead the person hears the following:

"Hello. This is not the person you were trying to call. You've reached the Rejection Hotline ... the person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number."

My trick is to give the wrong number, but turn two digits of my actual number around, so it's smooth on delivery.

Plus, Oshkosh doesn't have a rejection hotline. But if you live in Kelli's neck of the country, she getting some cards printed. Maybe you can go halvies.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Post Secret by Frank Warren

Title: My Secret

Title: PostSecret : Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

Title: The Secret Lives of Men and Women

Author: Frank Warren

Genre: Non-Fiction

Summary: Secrets captured on postcards.

The Take-Away: Frank Warren started with 3,000 postcards, inviting strangers to send him their secrets as part of an art project. Today, over 100,000 postcards are displayed on his website. Every Sunday, a new set is posted.

I've been reading PostSecret since October 2005. The three books I read this month made me think, laugh and feel a little less stressed. Just the idea of knowing that someone else has the same secret as you makes the burden easier to bear.

I've never mailed in a secret. I've seen mine there.

Recommendation: Make the website part of your regular weekly reading and check out the books too.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Have You Read...?

I got this meme from Word Nerd who stole it from Kelli Parra. I love arbitrary measuring sticks so I decided to give it a go.

It was also stolen by Page Smith, another bookish type I know.

Instructions: In the list of books below:

  • Bold the ones you’ve read
  • Italicize the ones you want to read
  • Mark in RED the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole (this is kind of drastic, but there are books I probably won't read)
  • Put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf
  • Mark an asterisk (*) beside the ones you’ve never heard of
  • Seen the movie (#)
  1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
  2. +#Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  3. +To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  4. +Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
  5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
  6. +#The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
  7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
  8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
  9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
  10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
  11. +#Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
  12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
  13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
  15. +Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
  16. +#Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
  17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
  18. The Stand (Stephen King)
  19. +#Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
  20. +Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
  21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
  22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
  23. +Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
  25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
  27. +Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
  28. +The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
  29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
  30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
  31. *Dune (Frank Herbert)
  32. +The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
  33. +Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
  34. +1984 (Orwell)
  35. *The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
  36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
  37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
  38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
  39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
  40. *The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
  41. *The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
  42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  43. +Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
  44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
  45. +Bible
  46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
  47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
  48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
  49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
  51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
  52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
  53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
  55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
  57. +#Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
  58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
  59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  60. +The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
  61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  62. +The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
  63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
  64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
  65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
  66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
  68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  69. +Les Miserables (Hugo)
  70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
  71. +Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
  72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
  73. Shogun (James Clavell)
  74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
  75. +The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
  77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
  79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
  80. +#Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
  81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
  82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
  83. +Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
  84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
  85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
  86. +Watership Down (Richard Adams)
  87. +Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
  89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
  90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
  91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
  92. +Lord of the Flies (Golding)
  93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
  94. +The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
  96. +The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
  97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
  98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
  99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
  100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

If you decide to play along, leave a comment! It great to see what people read.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bra Size

Back in February, before all of the snow fell across the state, Hubby and I were checking out the discount racks at the local Target (we're anti-WalMart, for a variety of reasons. I'll argue with you later.

The boys needed long underwear, warmer jammies, and in general, socks. Pickle Boy wears through his like no one I've ever seen before. Or it just might be that most of them are hand me downs. Who knows.

On our way to the boys section, we passed the women's lingerie. My husband stopped in front of a display of bras and started looking through the sizes.

I watched him for a few minutes and try to figure out what he is doing. Before I could completely process any reasonable line of thinking, he asked, "The green one is pretty. Do you like it?"

I must have nodded or done something to show that I did like the style and color. He tossed it in the cart. And turned to look at me. "What?"

"It's the right size. You don't know my size for anything. You almost know my pants size but it's still a ball park guess." And he's a sweetie who guess on the low side.

"Honey, some things are important enough to know what size it takes to contain 'em."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

State of Fear

Title: State of Fear

Author: Michael Crichton

Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi

Summary: Is global warming real or a "crisis" fabricated by corporations? A lawyer must wade through the evidence to find out.

The Take-Away: Since the story is told to convince the lawyer, the reader is just as confused. Is global warming real or is it just the spin placed by inaccurate referencing, reporting and political bias? After reading the book, I'm not as sure as I was before. If I were a better researcher, I'd take the time to read some of the peer reviews and studies that the book footnotes. But I'm not.

I am, however, a data girl. If the summary doesn't quite show what I want, I'll try another presentation. I appreciated that the data girl in this novel did the same and that Crichton gave her several pages to prove her worth as well.

I believe that something needs to be done and that man could be harming the earth that we live in. History has enough case studies to show that man has through arrogance and ignorance made bad decisions with long-lasting effects. I appreciate Crichton's research and novelization of the complexity of this problem. I believe that he undermined the statement that his novel made by stating "I have no agenda" in the appendix. He does. It's subtle.

Recommendation: Great read. Watch for the denied author's agenda.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Identify Theft

The Lipstick Chronicles recently had a guest blogger that took their readers through the steps of stealing people's identities. Part One and Part Two were written by William Simon, whose credentials include novels penned under the name "Will Graham" as well owning a licensed investigations company that deals exclusively in computer crime, Abberline Investigations. If you have a nefarious bent, the series will start you on the right path to a criminal sentence.

Scary stuff.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Doppelganger by Marie Brennan

Title: Doppelganger

Author: Marie Brennan

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: A witch must kill the other half of her soul, contained inside her Doppelganer, if she wishes to control her magic.

The Take-Away: I loved the set-up for this title. For the first seven or eight chapters, the point of view alternates between the two characters -- the witch Miryo and the warrior Mirage. By the time that they meet, I was routing for both to live, neither to die. I wasn't disappointed.

Instead of instantly killing her Doppelganger, as the Primes stated she must, Miryo is overwhelmed by the similarities in appearance. It is evident that her Doppelganger has a soul, contrary to her teachings. Even though Mirage could easily dispatch the witch, she doesn't. It doesn't feel right to either of them.

Instead, the rest of the book is their attempts to solve the dilemma between of who must live.

The only downside to this book was the names. No one has a similar name. My normal trick of identifying the character by the first letter of their name didn't work either, as both start with "M."

Recommendation: I can't wait for the next title in this two part adventure.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Thursday Next: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Title: Thursday Next in Lost in a Good Book

Author: Jasper Fforde

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Landen Parke-Laine is being held hostage by the Goliath Corporation. In fact, he's been eradicated unless Thursday Next does exactly what they say.

The Take-Away: The literary jokes are even better in this title than the first, Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair. Thursday's noteriety has brought some great PR to SpecOps. Is it because of or in spite of Cordelia Flakk? One of the ideas that Thursday has thus far failed to fulfill is the Thursday Next Workout Video.

Goliath Corporation resented the loss of the Prose Portal. They want Thursday to finish the work that her uncle Mycroft started before he retired. Instead, Thursday is recruited into a secret organization that exists only in books. There, she apprentices with one of literatures most memberable figures -- Miss Havisham. Under her tutelage, Thursday learns the fine art of book jumping.

While she doesn't rescue Landen in this title, she does discover how the earth was formed and her own intricate role in its life.

And I found out that her father's name is never mentioned.

Recommendation: If you're tempted to read this title, definitely start with The Eyre Affair. Read out of order at your own risk.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Powerball Winner

No, it's not us, but the guy that won $220 million in 2005.

Taking Home the Jackpot is more or less the game plan that we have, should we win. Except we wouldn't buy bicycles. My husband has got his eye on some military plane that the government wouldn't sell to us anyway.

I admire Brad Duke. It's truly amazing how well he managed his winnings, kept a level head, and stayed away from scams and bad investments.

Now I just need to win the lottery so I can practice his methods.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

Title: Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City

Author: Kirsten Miller

Genre: YA Fiction

Summary: A mysterious fifth grader has been recruiting from various Girl Scout troops for a secret club of her own.

The Take-Away: It's difficult to balance believeable situations with fictional teenagers. All too often, the author credits them with characteristics that aren't quite right, or blatently wrong. Miller gives her group great characteristics with the appropriate backstories so that their extraordinary levels of competency and intelligence don't seem unbelieveable.

The premise is discovering a third city below New York City. The girls investigate at night, with various excuses that keep their parents from discovering their true activities. Mapping the city isn't the only thing that Kiki Strike has in mind, but the others don't discover it until the middle of the novel. Again, this technique makes their extraordinary adventure seem plausible.

The best part of this book is the practical advice at the end of select chapters. Practical advice about changing your appearance, following someone and being invisible. Just the sort of thing a girl needs to know.

Recommendation: Great for anyone in need of some girl power.

Bonus Review: Unshelved -- A comic about libraries

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blueberry Soup by Scribbit

Blueberry Soup isn't something found at my house. But I can see it's appeal for the Alaskan winter that Scribbit faces. She explains where she got the recipe, as well as what her family thinks of it.

I doubt that mine would even try it, should I make it. I'm tempted, I must admit. The antioxidants alone would make it worth while. Combine that with the promises of "filling" and I'm thinking through the ingredients and what can I tell my family to make them consider it.

Maybe if I served it with a side of ice cream...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman

Title: Every Secret Thing

Author: Laura Lippman

Genre: Thriller

Summary: Two eleven year old girls are convicted after they kidnap the baby girl of a prominent public official. Seven years later, they are released and babies start disappearing again.

The Take-Away: I really thought that this would be tough to read, but the violence stayed off the pages. It was referred to, but never in detail. In fact, the lack of detail added to the suspense of the story. Who really was the murderer? Was it the dutiful Alice Manning or the unpredictable Ronnie Fuller? Each girl blamed the other, but the true story doesn't come out until the end of the novel.

Lippman is better known for her Tess Monaghan. I'm not familiar with them but would pick them up. The writing in this one was so fab that the others are probably good too.

Recommendation: If the subject matter seems too tough, try a different title. This author is worth it.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Super Mom Saves the World by Melanie Lynne Hauser

Title: Super Mom Saves The World

Author: Melanie Lynne Hauser

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Super Mom has a new villain to face as she saves Astro Park again.

The Take-Away: As an unplanned sequel, requested by her publisher, Hauser does an excellent job of developing her characters. Super Mom, aka Birdie Lee, is getting remarried while her ex-husband is divorcing his second wife -- the one he left her for. Oh yeah, something is suspicious with the new baseball diamond for the Little Leaguers. Do they really need a domed field, while the pep bands' uniforms are practically rotting around them? (That's my speculation.)

My favorite scene takes place at Birdie's ex-husband's -- Dan -- house. Dan has purchased, through a charity auction, a cleaning from Super Mom for Birdie. Since Birdie is Super Mom, she convinces him that she, Birdie, doesn't want the prize and he should accept it for himself. Then she, as Super Mom, can snoop through his house. While snooping and questioning Dan, Birdie confronts her conflicted feelings. Should she get back together with the father of her children? Should she marry Carl, her nerdy admirer? Not only is the house cleaned when she is done, Birdie uncovers what she came for.

Recommendation: Check out Confessions of Super Mom, the first title, then grab this one.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Common Killer by Stacie Penney

Anneliese’s hand snaked across the table to clasp mine. Her fingers were cool, her palm clammy. I wondered what she had to be upset about. It was my husband’s death that brought us together.

“How have you been, Melissa? Are you coping?”

Concern filled my friend’s face. Her eyebrows squeezed together while tears filled the eyelashes beneath them.

I choked back my snort of disgust and Anneliese passed me a tissue from her purse. Anneliese and I had befriended each other during a partner’s dinner. Saved one another from the boredom, we had joked. I remembered, however, that the dinner was exciting to the new “Mrs. Templeton” instead of a night to be endured as it was for the rest of the wives. It was poetic that things would end at the restaurant where our friendship had begun.

To finish the story, click Common Killer. Links to my other writings can be found in the side bar, under Short Stories.

The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey

Title: The Blade Itself

Author: Marcus Sakey

Genre: Thriller

Summary: Danny Carter's ex-partner has just been released from prison and figures that he is owed for the time he spent behind bars. Evan found Danny and explains how Danny can balance the books by pulling one more job.

The Take-Away: Excellent first novel. Sakey captured the seedy southside as well as how Danny Carter has grown out of it. Two of the supporting characters were female; Sakey drew them distinctly while maintaining good female traits. Not always readily done and I appreciated his time and effort to make these characters right.

One part of the story that I did question was Danny Carter's reluctance to go to the police. The robbery that Evan was imprisoned for was more than 7 years ago. I was under the impression that the statue of limitations for most crimes was 7 years. Carter didn't fear retribution from going to the police, but being convicted of the crime his ex-partner had served time for. Given the time spent on the two female side characters, I felt shorted on this plot point. Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe the statue is longer.

Sakey has a two book contract, but don't expect to see Danny Carter again. I had the opportunity to attend a book signing where the question was brought up. Sakey promises that this is a stand-alone thriller.

Recommendation: Read it.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Writing has Ruined Reading

Since applying myself in earnest to writing, I concluded that being a writer ruins reading for pleasure.

For example, I pay attention to covers. Does it reflect the story? Which is larger, the author's name or the title? Are there blurbs? If so, who are the blurbs from? Do I find it credible that the blurbing author actually read the book?

I also notice writing techniques that I never would have before. For example, in Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next told the story in first person point of view. Occasionally, there's a break and a third person narrator steps in. Only for a couple of pages. Never the same narrator. Why do that? Wouldn't it be better to either cut the pages or convey the information from Thursday's POV? Why am I even noticing? It was a good read.

While reading All the Numbers by Judy Merrill Larsen, I wanted the story to be first person instead of third. First person would have hurt to read and I cried through the book anyway. But remove that third person layer, even though it was well-done and stayed within third-limited, and it would have drawn me in more as a reader. Instead, I was slightly annoyed by it. It gave me too much tell and not enough show (as in "show, not tell.") But it annoyed the writer in me, not the reader.

While reading JR Ward's Brotherhood of the Black Dagger series, or the three that are released, I was struck by her struggles to make the story "same, but different." It sort of worked, but by the end of the third one, I didn't care about the character because I knew all would be well. They always have been. None of the drama or climaxes made me wonder what would triumph. Of course good would triumph. The Scribe Virgin would intercede to ensure it.

And what is up with the head hopping? Wait...I didn't even know what that meant a few month ago, let alone have it bother me.

I love writing. And reading. For me, the two activities go hand in hand, one improving the other. I delight in seeing a brilliantly executed technique, like Rachel Caine's use of flashbacks in her Weather Warden series. Or the multiple points of view, like in James Patterson's Mary, Mary where the head hopping advanced the story and added to the rising stakes.

But I really hate it when the writer in me gets in the way of enjoying a good book. Or the reader is willing to let the writer get away with some sloppy execution. As with most things in life, moderation.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Eyre affair : a novel

Author: Jasper Fforde

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Master criminal Archeron Hades has stolen the original copy of Jane Eyre and recklessly endangers the outcome of Mr. Rodchester and Jane. SpecOp Thursday Next is determined to get him out of the novel with minimal damage.

The Take-Away: Yep, you read that right, Mycroft Next, Thursday's genius uncle (named after Sherlock Holmes' brother,) has created a Prose Portal that allows readers to enter a book. Depending upon which manuscript version they enter, the damage could extend to every known copy or limited to the version in your hand.

The book was filled with obscure references that are somewhat helpfully explained on the Thursday Next site; however, it's unbearably large and a browser could waste several hours in there (fair warning.) I found Jon Brierly's Guide helpful, to make sure that I got most of the jokes. It's very understandable without it, but some of the humor is quite subtle, especially for those without a British background. The best place to start is the Index.

My favorite character is Thursday's father, who's name I don't recall, nor can I find it on the website. Perhaps Thursday only refers to him as "Dad." Anywho, he's a member of the ChronoGuard. Or they are always looking for him, at any rate. He's a rather mysterious figure for whom the normal rules of time do not apply. I quite liked him.

Recommendation: A good first in the series. I've been told that the second title is even better.

Bonus Review: Word Nerd

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Wizard at Large by Terry Brooks

Title: Wizard At Large

Author: Terry Brooks

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Questor Threws' confidence is high as he declares that he can return Abernathy to his original form as a man. As expected Questor doesn't get the spell exactly right. Instead he exchanges Abernathy for a bottle.

The Take-Away: For the first time, magic is thoroughly explored in the Landover series. Various magical elements are introduced into the story. Since Questor, as Court Wizard, has learned a significant amount of magic, his role is more prominent. In the previous two books, he muddled more than he assisted. No only does he get it right in the third book, his success rate is around 60% (which, if you read Magic Kingdom for Sale -- Sold! or The Black Unicorn this is quite an improvement.)

In addition the the court wizard, which really is a staple of fantasy, the bottle that Abernathy is exchanged for contains a Darkling, a creature who uses the magic from the holder of the bottle to work mischief. The nature of the mischief depends on the strength of the magic and the intent of the owner of the bottle. If the holder is quite strong, the Darkling will tempt him to fulfill darker desires.

The medallion plays a pivotal role again. Ben Holiday, king of Landover, loaned it to Abernathy and Questor to assist in the transformation. It ends up in Ben's (and our) world when the spell transports instead of transforms. Magic would be easier if it didn't require another language, but that's the point. If it was spoken in the local language -- English or otherwise -- people anywhere would perform magic accidentally. It's a nice convention for magic to work only under a different language. As for any convention, however, there are rule-breaking authors.

Rule breakers are critical in any genre, not just fantasy. Since this title was published in the 1980s, how many rules existed for Brooks to break? Was he ground-breaking or establishing the precedent? If high schools and colleges taught literature from this angle, it would have been more interesting than analyzing the social impact of novels that had no social impact (cough, cough, Pamela).

Recommendation: Better than the second book, The Black Unicorn. I'll probably grab the fourth one too, but I'm not in any hurry for it.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bookworm Report, February 2007

Even though we've been buried in snow, I haven't been curled up with good books. I've been curled up with decent television. Between all of the synidated episodes of Scrubs, my television viewing time increased by two hours a day. And that would be at least one more book a week. Ech, I'm learning from this show too. Especialy since I received Seasons 1-4 on DVD for my birthday. The character arc across seasons has been fantastic.

The List, if you please.

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 3,049 11
2002 3,409 8
2003 1,911 5
2004 2,597 8
2005 923 3
2006 3,730 12
2007 2,216 7

  • Lover awakened : a novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J R Ward
  • The Innocent Man by John Grisham
  • The Eyre affair : a novel by Jasper Fforde
  • Wizard At Large by Terry Brooks
  • All the Numbers by Judy Larsen
  • The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey
  • Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

For the year, I've read 21 books, or 6,557 pages, which averages to 11 books a month, or 3,279 pages per month, and an average book length of 312 pages.

My "To Read List" is pretty deep. My husband asked why the pile of books tottering near my side of the bed wasn't in a book case. He assumed that those were the ones I had read. Foolish man.