February 23rd, 2010

Skull - "vanitas"

Books #8-9 for 2010

8. Charlaine Harris, Definitely Dead, 342 pages, Supernatural/Romance/Mystery, Paperback, 2006.

The 6th book of the Southern Vampire Mysteries series featuring telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse finds our heroine on her way to New Orleans to handle the estate of her cousin, missing for years only to turn up as the undead (now permanently dead) lover the Louisiana’s vampire queen. The timing of Sookie’s visit coincides with the queen’s marriage contract to the king of Arkansas, fraught with all the political intrigue one can imagine plus some very vampiric twists. Sookie’s relationship with Bill is clarified, in such a way that I hope Sookie hates him for the rest of time. But she goes on to hook up with Quinn, the were-tiger. This is the first book that I felt that I was missing part of a story to begin with. It turns out that there are some short stories between the books, and this one is most obvious.

9. Charlaine Harris, All Together Dead, 342 pages, Supernatural/Romance/Mystery, Paperback, 2007.

In book 7, Sookie travels with the Louisiana vampires to the summit. Since Hurricane Katrina, the queen is in a weakened position, needing to make new alliances and to clear her name from the events in the ending of the last book. Sookie is to use her telepathic talent to help negotiations, but she hears more than anyone intended. Can she save the Louisiana delegation before it’s too late? Fast paced, with some wonderful moments with Eric and Quinn. I’ve enjoyed this set of the first seven books, and look forward to getting the rest of the series.
Rainy Path

Books 6-8: The Keys to the Kingdom Books 1-3 by Garth Nix

Here are books six, seven, and eight from my Book List 2010. The links lead to more detailed reviews in my journal.

6. Title: The Keys to the Kingdom Book One: Mister Monday
Author: Garth Nix © 2003
Pages: 361
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Playful wording; creative universe.
Personal Rating: «««¾ out of five.

"On the first day, there was mystery."

On the day twelve-year-old Arthur Penhaligon was suppose to die, his life is saved by a strange key shaped like the minute hand of a clock. He is momentarily safe, but the world around him is in chaos dealing with a deadly plague. Desperate to find answers to his questions and save his family and friends from sickness, Arthur enters a mysterious house and must deal with a nemesis named Mister Monday.

I've seen this series reviewed in 50bookchallenge many times and I finally decided to read the books. I read Garth Nix's wonderfully crafted Abhorsen trilogy, so I was looking forward to The Keys of the Kingdom—it did not disappoint.

Aside from the adventure and fantasy aspect, the thing I liked most about Mister Monday was the playful language. It reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (the play on words, not the storyline). Nix creates strong and vibrant images with his words and it continues on in the other books in this series.

The only thing I didn't like was it was a bit confusing and muddled in places. With all the action going on, it was hard to keep track of the names of the creatures and the different realms of the worlds. Once I became accustomed to the terms, it flowed more smoothly.

Definitely recommended to those who like YA fantasy.

7. Title: The Keys to the Kingdom Book Two: Grim Tuesday
Author: Garth Nix © 2004
Pages: 321
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Darker and more intense.
Personal Rating: «««« out of five.

"On the second day, there was darkness."

Arthur's adventures continue on in Grim Tuesday's domain, the Far Reaches. It's a dark, dank place where Tuesday exploits all of his workers to satisfy his immense greed. Arthur must navigate through the unforgiving terrain as an ordinary worker and somehow find the second key and the way back out. Meanwhile, in Arthur's own world, everyone is dealing with a financial crisis.

This was a great addition to the series. I found it to be way more intense than the first—most definitely due to the raised stakes. I continue to like the way Nix phrases his descriptions and I loved exploring a new part of the House.

8. Title: The Keys to the Kingdom Book Three: Drowned Wednesday
Author: Garth Nix © 2005
Pages: 389
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Great new characters; seafaring adventures.
Personal Rating: «««« out of five.

"On the third day, there were pirates."

Today is Wednesday and Arthur finds himself invited to tea by Lady Wednesday in her domain, the Border Sea. Something goes dreadfully wrong with his transportation and Arthur finds himself alone and stranded. He will once again have to navigate through unfamiliar terrain to survive and find the items he needs to fulfill his quest.

I've already read the first five of the books in this series and Drowned Wednesday is my favorite so far. I was impressed with all the amazing new characters with the memorable names. Arthur's adventures in this domain seemed to be lighthearted, but so much more creative and involved. The seafaring adventure works well with the series and I hope to see the memorable characters back in the remaining two I haven't read yet (Saturday and Sunday).

8 / 50 books. 16% done!

2704 / 15,000 pages. 18% done!

# 14 Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton

Captain Sir Richard Burton

Edward Rice

Richard Burton was a well-known Victortian explorer. His great facility for languages, ability to adapt to other cultures, keen powers of observation, penchant for details, strong curiosity, and intelligence made him a gifted explorer. It was Burton who first translated 1001 Arabian Nights and The Kama Sutra to the West.

However, his inability to fit into the Victorian lifestyle, penchant for foreign, exotic women, prejudices, and inclination to follow non-Christuian Eastern religious sects often created many difficulties for him.

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton was a really interesting biography. Edward Rice did an excellent, balanced job of covering his subject, thoroughly discussing both Burton's strengths and weaknesses.

I feel as if I got to understand, in more than a superficial way, what motivated Burton and why.

I know that Victorian explorers are not a very popular subject these days, but these people had such a huge part in shaping the modern world, that I think they are well worth reading about.


# 15 You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons

Mo Willems

Mo Willems is a well-respected childrens author and illustrator. Shortly before he graduated from college in 1990 he took a year to travel the world. During his travels he kept a sketch diary, drawing a cartoon each day of whatever it was that had stood out to him. This book, which was published 15 years after the fact, and which is his only book that for adults, is the result.

The cartoons are not always funny. Sometimes they are poignant, sometimes mundane, but there's often some insight to be gained, especially with the comments that Willems added on publication.

I'm not into graphic arts or comics, but I found this concept so unique that it really piqued my interest.

I'm so glad that I discovered and read this book! I found it fun and interesting, and I believe it broke down some barriers and prejudices I've had against graphic arts, and comics in particular. It helped me realize that they are a genuine , valid means of expression.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this gem!

women, picasso, reading

8/50 Going Rogue by Sarah Palin

  I am not political by nature. I have opinions. I am smart enough to keep them to myself most times. I read Sarah's book to hear her story. She tells the story of the 2008 presidential election from her point of view. She's a smart woman, that Sarah. She loves her family. She wants her country to be better. She probably was misrepresented in the press. She commands attention. I went to a McCain/Palin rally in my hometown and she is a good public speaker. Sarah and I may not agree on everything, but she said things in her book that I have heard myself say.At times she waves the American flag and stirs your patriotic heartstrings. At times she sounds like she is campaigning again. And maybe she is. Because she certainly isn't done.

2.5/5 stars