Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunday Salon, Review Agincourt, by Bernard Cornwell

The Sunday

Sunday Salon...Saturday Night Version...

Thanks for those who asked about Mystery, she is doing quite well. However, her brother Webster needed stitches Friday after injuring his leg on ice. This ice in CT is really messing up my greyhounds. They don't understand the command "SLOW". LOL
He is eleven and a bit of a grumpy old man right now. Poor thing is normally the comic of the pack. He just thinks he is so cool right now because they put a camouflage wrap on his leg.
So out of four dogs I have one with all four legs working. But they sure are cute.

Reading this Week:

I've been doing a lot of reading this week, finishing up:

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles (ARC from HC)You will linger and savor the language shaping landscapes so picturesque they breathe life!!

Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill is a riotous debut!!
Look for the full reviews this week.

Canvey Island Early Reviewer/Library Thing ARC

Agincourt, by Bernard Cornwell.

Review-Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell


Bernard Cornwell
Harper Collins Publisher
ISBN 978-0-06-157891-5
HC, 451pages

When I read Agincourt, I believed I was on the battlefield sickened by the bloodbath that took place during the brutal battle between the ill-matched armies of the English and the French.

The story of Agincourt is legendary. King Henry V leads his army into France to claim his the right as King of France. After a long battle at Harfleur that left his army bedraggled from bouts of dysentery he would not turn back to England as the win was not significant and would make him appear weak. He chose to press on to Calais, that brings his army to a recently plowed wheat field staring at the menacing French army directly in front of them.

Author’s notes detail that researchers have ascertained the approximate numbers of the two armies with large disparity. Cornwell accepts the theory of 30,000 French and 6,000 English as the most likely. One can only imagine the fear and adrenaline coursing through the veins of the English archers who would strike first facing, such perilous odds. The archers were positioned ahead of the English who were staged in two rear positions. Would this strategy prove effective? It is classic Cornwell who makes you feel every stomach churning emotion throughout his story.

Cornwell is an illustrator with text painting the events that took place on Saint Crispen’s Day 1415 with vivid realism. Visualize a collaboration between the artist Goya, and the director for the movie Braveheart, where painting and movie overlap you will have Agincourt. This book is not for the faint of heart but it could not be written any other way. It was a barbarous time with deadly weapons. The poleaxe was viciously successfully at claiming limbs and lives and bows with arrows accurate enough to sneak through a hole in a helmet or deadly enough to down a horse.

Henry V, immortalized by Shakespeare, now the novel Agincourt, by Bernard Cornwell presents this David vs Goliath drama from English history that will hold you grounded in your chair not wanting an intermission.
Highly recommended.

Thanks to Harper Collins for the review copy of this book.

Wisteria Leigh
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review-Canvey Island

Canvey Island

James Runcie
Other Press
312 pages

The story takes place in 1953 on Canvey Island as a storm approaches. Quickly the waters rise and a devastating flood leaves behind destruction and death. One of those dead is Martin’s mother Lily. Len, Martin’s father had taken Vi, Lily’s sister to a dance, as was customary. Lily preferred staying home to dancing. This time her decision proved fatal as her leg was caught in some debris that had settled below the rising food waters. When Martin went to get help it was too late. The water had claimed Lily’s life.

The novel is a story of Martin’s life and family relationships. Martin decides to become a water engineer to help cope with the guilt from his inability to save his mum. Martin also must cope with the growing closeness between his father and Aunt Vi. Martin leaves Canvey Island, leaves his first love and leaves his problems behind-or so he thinks.

Years later, unfulfilled and disappointed with life as it is, Martin returns to Canvey Island.The allure of the past will test his love for his wife Claire as he must chose passion or infidelity, truth or lies.

The story is told in a multi-voice chapter format from each character’s perspective providing depth and understanding. The author’s honest look at love and death are difficult and often depressing. However, there is enough drama to keep the reader interested and curious to the end. I learned from Linda and Martin, that the past can sometimes be an illusion of reality and not what we expect when we revisit it. (3/5 stars)

Thank you to Library Thing and the Early Reviewer program for this review copy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogs I Read

Book Blogs I Read.....

101 Books in 1001 Days
A Fondness for Reading
A Garden Carried in the Pocket
A High and Hidden Place
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
A Life in Books
A Novel Menagerie
A Reader's Journal
A Striped Armchair
A Sweet Unrest
As the Pages Turn
A Work in Progress
Adventures in Reading
At Home With Books
Bells Literary Reflections
Between the Covers
Bibliophile by the Sea
Book Bath
Book Chatter and Other Stuff
Book Escape
Book Gazing
Book Girl of
Book Notes by Lisa
Book Nut
Book Trash
Book Zombie
Bookfoolery & Babble
Book girl of Mur-y-Castell
Bookgirl's Nightstand
Bookish Ruth
Bookmark My Heart
Books 'N Border Collies

Books and Cooks
Books and Movies
Books and Other Stuff
Books Love Me
Books on the Brain
Books Please
Bookworm's Dinner
Burton's Reviews
Cafe of Dreams
Cockeyed Pessimist
Considering All Things Literary
Desert Rose
Diary of an Eccentric
Everything to Do With Books
Ex Libris
Find Your Next Book Here
Friday Friends Book Blog
Full Steam Ahead
Giving Reading a Chance
Id Happens
In Spring It Is The Dawn
It's All About Me (Time)
Jenny Loves to Read
Just Another Blogger
Kate's Book Blog
Keep This On The DL
Kittling Books
Kristina's Favorites
Lesley's Book Nook
Library Queue
Maggie Reads
Melody's Reading Corner
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Mysteries in Paradise

Pages Turned
Peeking Through the Pages
Ravenous Reader
Read 'em & Eat
Read This!
Reading Adventures
Reading Matters
Restless Reader
Rhapsody in Books

S.Krishna's Books
Sam's Book Blog
Sassymonkey Reads
Savvy Verse & Wit
She Is Too Fond of Books
She Reads and Reads
Shelf Life
Small World Reads
SMS Book Reviews
So Many Books
So Many Precious Books
Stephanie's Confessions of a Bookaholic
Stephanie's Written World

Tales from the Reading Room
That's All She Read
The Amazing Adulthood of Alexis
The Biblio Brat
The Blog Jar
The Bookworm
The Book Resort
The Burton Review
This Dangerous Life
The Eclectic Book Hoarder
The Evening Reader
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
The Hobgoblin of Little Minds
The Indextrious Reader
The Insatiable Reader
The Library Ladder
The Lit Connection
The Literate Housewife Review
The Literate Kitten
The Movieholic & Bibliophile's Blog
The Printed Page
The Scrapping Librarian
The Way I See It
The Written World
Things Mean A Lot
This Dangerous Life
Thoughts of Joy
Tripping Toward Lucidity
Two-Legged Animal
Ulat Buku in the City
You've Gotta Read This!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I have decided to join Mailbox Monday and meet some new blogger friends and also to keep a record of all the books I am receiving. Yikes!!!
So hello to everyone and I know I will pick up a few ideas from all of you.
Here's what crossed my front step last week:

1.The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles
2.Yellow Knife by Steve Zipp
3.Drood, by Dan Simmons
4.The Commoner, by John Burnham Schwartz
5.Firelane by Kristin Hannah
6.The Empty Mirror, by J. Sydney Jones
7.The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz
8.My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. Non-fiction
9.The Long Fall, Walter Mosley
10.Big Boy Rules, by Steve Fainaru Non-fiction

I have to say, this was a particularly overwhelming week. Needless to say it was like my birthday and I am grateful to have received them. Now for the reviews. LOL

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Salon-Review, Scramble for Africa.. By Steven Fake and Kevin Funk

The Sunday

Yesterday my little Mystery slipped on some ice and injured her back leg. She's walking on it, but tentatively. I guess today it's off to the vet for an x-ray. She is a little greyhound and very brave, but I think it must be sprained. I spent most of my time this weekend with her. I am in the middle of reading Canvey Island for Library Thing, it finally arrived from the November picks. Up next on the nightstand is Mrs. Lincoln, and The Rose of Sebastopol.

The Scramble for Africa
Darfur-Intervention and the USA

By Steven Fake and Kevin Funk
Black Rose Books
301 pages, pb.

You may have seen the signs Save Darfur Now, and many other organizations all with good intentions aimed at helping to bring awareness, gain support in Washington, and raise money all to benefit the refugees of Darfur. In Steven Fake and Kevin Funk’s book The Scramble for Africa they will provide research and show why none of this money reaches the people of Darfur. They will show why the US government is more interested in their own self interests, the war on terrorism and oil than “humanitarian intervention.”

China is in this race to commercialize Africa and gain control of oil. So if the US doesn’t enter the race, some other country will. The US also has a stake in Africa since 911, and their interest in Africa is also in fighting terrorism.

The authors kindle many questions as you read the book as your mind becomes a muddled mass of gray matter. For example, Why aren’t we concerned about the Iraq war and the need for humanitarian intervention there. As of August 2007 they claim 1.2 million people have been killed, with several million refugees. The troubles in the Congo have taken more lives than any since WWII, more than 5 million people. Even more amazing is that since 2002 they are still loosing 45,000 people, mostly children each month, primarily from disease. So why are we not advocating action for humanitarian intervention there?

When you read The Scramble for Africa, there is a sense of foreboding and failure throughout, but we can’t keep hiding behind untruths. Can we? We can’t keep ignoring the newspapers and believe what editorial opinion offers. Can we? We can’t and shouldn’t keep throwing away money for causes we think are helping when they are creating more harm. Can we? Is the conflict and killing in Darfur defined as genocide in the global community? Is the discovery of oil truly driving the race?

Difficult questions have no affable answers as the authors offer convincing data, past historical events, professional articles, primary documents and a plethora of publications to support their arguments. Bold gutsy writing with a clear purpose this is an intellectually decisive work about Darfur and the US, missing from libraries until now.
What I found most amazing was their ability to clearly delineate these complex problems in a fascinating compelling style. A requisite read for anyone who wants a clearer understanding about Darfur, Intervention, and the US involvement in Africa. Make sure this is not left out of your TBR list this year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review-The History of Now by Daniel Klein

I was selected to review The History of Now as an Early Reviewer for Library Thing. Thanks to Library Thing and The Permanent Press for the bound galley copy.

The History of Now by Daniel Klein

Permanent Press
March 1, 2009, HC, 296 pages
ISBN 1579621813

Have you ever thought your life was so average that no one would want to read about it? Daniel Klein dispels that myth in his new book,The History of Now as he tells the story of a somewhat typical family living in Grandville, Massachusetts. The town is the quintessential image of bucolic New England. As the story unfolds you quickly become enmeshed in the ordinary yet extraordinary sequence of events that are destined to become Now.

Wendel deVries is a 65 year old divorcee who runs the projector at the local Phoenix theater. Before his divorce he had a daughter Franny. His daughter Franny, suffers from a lack of self-esteem and confidence. Her daughter Lila, is a recalcitrant pot smoking lazy high school teen coupled with a strained mother daughter relationship. Since Lila has never known her father, grandfather Wendel is the closest to a father she has had. Wendel moves on with his life and surprisingly one day meets someone and they fall in love.

Meanwhile, somewhere in South America a young boy named Hector flees to Miami with hopes of starting a new life. One day in class, Lila learns that years ago, nineteenth century, there were deVries in Grandville who were African American. With impish amusement she questions her grandfather hoping to discover the validity of her teacher’s historical findings. Were there slaves in her family tree? Could she have black relatives and possibly relatives who owned slaves?

Klein’s novel is the story of the lives of these people and how they will ultimately connect. Philosophically, who cares? Well, the story would be no story if the lives of many people did not happen before those who live now. Sound confusing? It is a cause and effect model shaped in the beliefs of David Hume. Now is now because it was destined to happen because of the history that came before it.

The orchestral piece Bolero comes to mind as I read this book. The novel begins with a diminutive and simple opening and as each person, each layer, each cause to the effect is added the pulse slowly builds, gradually increasing in complexity. Discord and a cacophony of drama comes together toward the middle as each person becomes more conscious of their life and their actions. The past is revealed through a series of flashbacks, but still, like the composer Ravel, the author Klein, carefully scaffolds the story to a perfect climax and then conclusion.

This book presents philosophical questions disguised as a small town family drama. One caution I have is the description of the day-workers and confrontation that ensued in the town of Danbury, CT. I realize this is a work of fiction, however, the scene described I believe, knowing the town, is grossly exaggerated.

What I enjoyed about this book was that it is so ordinary, so believable, that anyone wanting to write their story can visualize their own chronology of history a book. It is also idiosyncratic as you reflect upon the author’s philosophical dogma, making this a noteworthy novel of Now. Let’s hope there is a short wait for book two in this trilogy.

Wisteria Leigh

Permanent Press Website

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Virtual Tour with David Snowdon

The Mind of a Genius by David Snowdon

ISBN: 978-0-9552650-1-3
Publisher: Pentergen Books
Pages: 288
£6.99/ $13.56

I have the pleasure of hosting a part of the David Snowdon Virtual Tour. I read The Mind of a Genius without a break as there was no place to take a breath. A secret project, a sultry scientist's widow, an assorted list of international spies and cunning criminals all jockeying for a first place finish to get the formula that could change the world. On the edge drama, you will wiz through this spy thriller!

David Snowdon Bio

British thriller writer, David Snowdon was born in London, and lives in London. He started writing in 1983, and wrote his first book, which hasn’t been published in 1984. His first published work, Too Young To die, was published in August 2006. And his second novel, The Mind of a Genius, was published in November 2007.

Introducing The Mind of a Genius

What was the project the British Scientist Malcolm Prince working on before he died? He claimed it was finished and it will change the world. British spies, the CIA and Danish Intelligence all want the formula. One spy, an independent agent working for M14 is Jason Clay. Definitely the confident James Bond type. As his luck would have it, his job is to get the formula from the scientist's widow, Laura Prince, anyway he can. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Excerpt from The Mind of a Genius by Daniel Snowdon

Sitting on a stool at the bar, Jason Clay sipped his drink, nodded in time to the music and watched the two girls from a distance.

Tonight he wore a black silk shirt with tight-fitting black leather trousers. Because there were so many well-dressed people in the club, he was able to blend in without attracting too much attention. Although, he still got the odd stares of admiration from the girls.

It had been six days ago that he had gone to see Shooter. And over the past three days, Shooter had continuously been on his back. He had repeatedly explained to Shooter that although he was keeping tabs on the girl, he hadn’t had a chance to make a move, and he didn’t want to ruin things by being rash. But Shooter didn’t want to know and kept urging him to do something as soon as possible, as they didn’t have a lot of time. Now he was itching for some action.

A flower guy came towards his direction moving through the crowd, and Clay caught his eye and nodded at him.

“Give that girl a flower,” he said, pointing to Laura when the guy got to him.

“Which one?” asked the guy, staring in their direction.

“The blonde one,” said Clay, handing the guy a £10 note. “And get yourself a drink. You look as if you can use one.”

“Thank you, boss,” said the flower guy, staring at Clay in amazement and not believing his luck.

He was a slim, medium height, North African-looking guy wearing a short-sleeved white shirt. He was from Morocco.

“No worries,” said Clay, as the guy went towards the girls.

“That’s for you, luv,” said the flower guy, handing Laura a flower.

Laura frowned at him, hesitated and decided to take the flower.

“It’s from the guy sitting at the bar,” he said, pointing towards Clay’s direction. “The blonde guy in the black shirt.”

Both girls stared towards Clay’s direction, noticing him for the first time, and both girls saw a stylish handsome blonde guy, wearing a black shirt, sitting at the bar and looking in their direction.

Clay saw the flower guy give Laura the flower, he saw the girls suddenly look towards his direction and he waved, giving them his boyish smile.

Laura regarded him from a distance, and she felt a wave of excitement sweep through her. He’s a dreamboat, she thought. Blonde, tall and handsome. And he was quite young. Well, he was a lot younger than her. Just the way she liked them.

Post comments on any of the blog tour stops and be entered in a drawing for a copy of The Mind of a Genius.

David Snowdon Website

Virtual Blog Tour

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review-High Spirits by Dianne K. Salerni

High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance
by Dianne K. Salerni
iUniverse, $20.95
352p., 978-0-595-42350-7

Prepare to be entertained by the ethereal escapades of Maggie and Kate Fox who at an early age had the impish inklings of what would become a lucrative money making movement called Spiritualism. It began as a mischievous game. One day, when the girl’s older niece Lizzie comes to visit, they set a plan in motion. They are not fond of Lizzie and as she sleeps in the middle of the bed Kate and Maggie create the sounds that come to make them famous. The sound’s origin are a mystery to Lizzie and frightened she alerts the rest of the family.

The girl’s are the cause of the rapping sounds yet no one can figure this out, except their older sister Leah. As she takes control of the girls and threatens exposure she embarks on a plan to promote the girls for profit. The girls communicate with the dead, and people pay to come see them to receive messages from loved ones.

The story takes place between 1848 and 1856 during the time when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed and President Taylor died in office. Women of proper society did not lecture, they stayed at home, so the Fox sisters became associated, albeit willingly with the Abolitionists and the Feminists Movements.

Maggie and Kate are two very different siblings, although both are quite witty and charming. Kate truly believes she has the gift of sight and has a responsibility to bring it to the public. Her mission is to offer solace to those left behind. Maggie, on the other hand, as a child did not see right from wrong, but as she matures she frets, and comes to question her participation.

The story is told in the alternating voices between Kate and Maggie, a style that is dpleasing and effective by giving better character perspectives. Leah has control over both of the girls, for she knows the secret. One day Maggie meets a man, Elisha Kent Kane, an Arctic explorer with wanderlust and she falls deeply in love, who also wants to control Maggie. Kane presents a problem that only Maggie can solve.

This is a gripping story of greed, control and gullibility that I found to be totally entertaining and a fun read. I was amazed to learn about the Fox sisters and their notoriety. My one complaint is that the book cover could have been more representative of the content. Salerni offers a further reference list in her book.

Here are a couple from the book:
The Fox Sisters: HYPERLINK ""
The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox, by Nancy Rubin Stuart

I couldn’t put this one down, the pace is fast and to coin a phrase, has “never a dull moment.” High Spirit has high drama, high suspense, high romance and high praise!!Salerni knows how to engage an audience so that they won’t need a bookmark.

☆☆☆☆✰ 4.5 Stars

Sunday Salon-Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Sunday

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I wanted to dedicate my Sunday Salon to his work and life.

Whatever your political beliefs are, Tuesday should be a day of bipartisanship and citizenship where we stand proud during the historic Inauguration of Barack Obama. It still amazes me that this year we had a woman and an African American man running for the Democratic candidate. Not too long ago this scenario would have been inconceivable to many. But one man, we honor on January 19th, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had a dream, and when Americans went to the polls this past November, it was realized when they judged Barack Obama "not by the color of" (his) skin, but by the content of (his) character." He had a dream and it came true. To a great man, I honor you Dr. King.

Review Freedom Facts & Firsts

With such an historic week ahead for the nation, I'm sharing with you a book that was sent to me by Independent Publishers Group.

Freedom Facts and Firsts:
400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience
by Jessie Carney Smith and Linda T. Wynn.
Paperback, $24.95
Visible Ink
January 1, 2009

This is an affordable encyclopedia of information that's purpose is to expand and add to the vast history already compiled on the African American struggle for civil rights. The authors also included lesser known people who were overlooked in previous writings. Women are given historical credit, where in past works their roles were minimized.
It is divided into these nine chapters.
-Arts & Entertainment
-Civil Rights
-Law and Government
-Political Activists
-Religion and Sports
This is a perfect quick reference guide for all schools and the general public. It would make an ideal book to peruse for ideas for student research. The publication of this book spans the years from the abolitionist anti-slave movement through to the election of Barack Obama. It contains an extensive bibliography and detailed index for searching. This should be in every school and public library and citizens will find this a perfect must have compliment to their growing history book collection.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Salon, The World That Loved Books

The Sunday

Wow what a week this has been returning to work. One snow day, a late opening and then yesterday's snowfall that went into the overnight. What a nice time to hunker down and read a few good books. In between shoveling that is. Yuck!

So watching the snow and ice coating the trees and in between lesson planning, I read High Spirits by Dianne Salerni. This is a romantic, (yes I cried), historical fiction book about the Spiritualist movement in the mid 19th century. If you want to read about the the clever Fox sisters from history, stay tuned for a ghostly rapping review later this week. Next, I read Red Clay, Blood River is a historical fiction novel by William Everett and his novel about the Trail of Tears and the Great Trek in Africa.
The review for this will be published later. I received several surprises in the mail this week, giving me a lot of catching up to do. I hope there will be a few more snow days this month to help me out. LOL

Anyway, I have an incredible picture book to share with you called, The World That Loved Books, by Steve Parlato. I am going to treasure this masterpiece and I'm telling you the little picture graphic I have hear is just not going to do his art justice. Please take a look at this book the next time you are in a bookstore! This is a copy of one of the posters available on his website and is the artwork for his cover.


The World that Loved Books

Stephen Parlato
Simply Read Books

Welcome to my world....
At least that's what I thought when I read the beginning of The World That Loved Books, by Stephen Parlato.

From the opening page:

"There once was a world where everyone loved books, even the animals. Everyone loved to read so much that when they read their books they became what they read."

Bravo! This book was so spectacular I read it slowly savoring every memorable morsel of text and the intricate illustrations that honestly should be framed mounted and hung in an art gallery. This author and illustrator understands the importance of providing a simple text with everyday vocabulary. Each couplet with the complementary detailed drawing stand alone, but together they will fascinate students, engage their thinking and stimulate questions and ideas. The book will be enjoyed by all students, whether the student is an auditory or verbal learner, ELL, special needs, gifted and talented or in the mainstream classroom. Mr. Parlato's text and collages are an oxymoron of simple elaboration.

Once you read this book you will love reading it to your class. You will garner ways to use it in lessons and realize it is an essential part of your classroom library. Anyone who loves books or struggles to get others to read will cherish The World that Loved Books by Stephen Parlato, an exceptionally creative master.

Thank you Stephen for sending me this autographed review copy and poster. I am so lucky!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Challenges 2009

I just wanted to give a great big thank you to Lezlie at Books 'N Border Collies who has taken on the arduous task of compiling a list of all the 2009 Challenges on her blog.
I bow down to you for sure. I have a link to her blog so everyone can go there and link to it. Again....Thanks Lezlie what a nice thing to do!

Butterfly Award

Holly from 2 Kids and Tired Books Review just surprised me with this elegant award called the Butterfly Award. Thanks for the award Holly that was so sweet of you. This is an award to honor cool blogger sites. Take a look at Holly's awesome blog to see why she won!

Now it's time for me to select my award recipients.

This is a “meme” award, so it gets passed on.
The rules for passing it on are:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

So, with envelope in hand... the award goes to these fabulous bloggers:

Iliana at Bookgirl's Nightstand
Sarah at Small World Reads
Jessica at The Bluestocking Society
Marie at Boston Bibliophile

Please take a moment to read their blog and check out their thoughts.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Review-Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

My review

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford
Ballantine Books
304 pages
rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a historical novel that takes place during WWII on the West Coast, when fears are acute and spies are imagined everywhere. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9102 that was passed by Congress giving the government the authority to relocate first and second generation Americans of Japanese decent to internment camps. Even though they were told this was for their own safety, they knew they were being corralled, detained, watched.

Jamie Ford uses this newsreel of history as background, but the internment camps and the mass relocation of Japanese Americans are not the center story. His novel is a love story of forbidden love, parental pressure, prejudice and coming of age. This is a timeless tale of love for any age. For love knows nothing about race as the heart is what beats with passion.

In Seattle, in an area once called Japantown stands the deserted Panama Hotel, and Henry Lee is standing watch. The year is 1986 and Henry has lost his wife to cancer, he has a grown son Marty. Standing outside the hotel, he is reminiscing about the past forty years as he watches the workers carrying things out of the hotel. The once grand hotel was a condemned structure until recently bought. Now during construction on the renovation project a collector’s dream of memorabilia from the 1940s has been discovered in the basement. Henry remembers back to when the evacuees were restricted to what they could bring, many used the basement of the hotel and similar places for storage. He knows there could be something of value to him, but he won’t know what it is till he finds it. How strange.

The second part of the story takes place in 1942 when Henry is just a young boy. In 1942 Henry Lee, a Chinese American meets Keiko Okabe who is a Japanese American. They attend a white prep school and are subjected to racial ridicule because of their Asian appearance. Henry likes Keiko and they become friends. When his father, a Chinese nationalist finds out about their friendship he is furious and he forbids any further contact with the girl. As a result, communication breaks down between Henry and his father and conversations end. As the Okabe family gets ready to move to Camp Harmony, Henry and Keik o promise to remain friends and write.

I couldn’t put this book down! Jamie Ford’s love story between Keiko and Henry touched me deeply. He captures the feelings of the family prejudice and the difficulties anyone faces in a forbidden relationship as if he lived it. The struggle to gain acceptance and please everyone is bitter and sweet. As one who shared a similar fate, this story is a cherished gift like finding Sheldon’s broken record.

Memorable characters throughout support Henry including Mrs. Beatty, the cafeteria person at his school, who has a hidden heart of gold and Sheldon the sage old sax player of Jazz. A beautiful endearing story! Don’t miss this one. If you are participating in Naida’s Romance Challenge consider reading Jamie Ford’s, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Wisteria Leigh
January 3, 2008

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Salon, January 4th 2009

Since this is the first Sunday Salon of the New Year I wanted to wish everyone a

Happy New Year.

2008 Blogger Favorites:
I know many of our Sunday Salon bloggers have listed a review of their reading history or a listing of favorite books for 2008. I think this is so important and worthwhile. So valuable in fact, I decided to host my challenge, the Book Blogger Buddy Challenge, so that bloggers take this unsolicited advice offered throughout the year about best book recommendations. I thought about this for some time and realized that we get caught up in our own world and read, review, read, review. Do we listen to our Book Blogging Buddies? Do we listen when they tell us about a great book? Most of us listen, I know I do, because the work we do takes time and thought. I want to act on some of the great books I read reviews about. I can't wait any longer and blame my TBR pile is too big. Now is your chance to read a few of those books you may have wanted to. Then honor your buddy, and list their name next to the recommendation. Take a look at my list and good luck!

My 2008 Reflection

Reflection and meta-cognition are essential strategies I do naturally as I read. I don't always consciously think about my reading, but when I do reflect I ask myself to think deeply and critically about what I read. That's why I love the year end reflections I read from many of the blogging community. I enjoy reading about their thinking as it stimulates my own thinking as well. So with that in mind I offer the following about this past year.

2008 was an exciting year for me because I became an official blogger on-line. Tentative at first, but with baby steps I soon began to crawl and they walk to an almost upright position. Yes, I did falter a lot and I had to fall many times to learn about myself and better ways to write, blog, communicate and share.

My 2008 Somewhat Different Top 10 List for the Year

1. What did I do before blogging?
2. Blogging made me a better reader because of my thinking. I read 70+ books and completed my first two challenges. 50 Book Challenge through Library thing and Southern Challenge on Sunday Salon.
3. Blogging made me a better writer through my posts by rewriting and editing. I completed 60+ reviews and have published in two magazines and numerous blog forums online. PS: A special thank you to (JJ) for all her support this year!!!
4. I met many new friends through my blogging who made me realize being called a bookworm isn't a bad thing. You go Bookworms!!!
5. I will always have something to write about on my blog, because it's my blog.
6. Sunday Salon rocks and each writer is creatively unique and important. I look forward to Sunday mornings... they will never be the same.
7. ARCs are my lifeline and getting free books in the mail is so.....much fun.
8. Challenges are fun just because I love to read. When my friend asked, "What do you get?" I said that the prize was the satisfaction of completing challenge. Book lovers get it!!
9.It's essential to have your own TBR book choice pile? Never go to bed without one on your night stand.
10.Blogging has made me a conscious, critical thinking reviewer of books. I continue to love reading anytime and anyplace and look forward to 2009 and what awaits.

My Top Pic Books 2008

Top Pick of the Year
* Shades of Gray by Jessica James

* The King's Daughter, by Sandra Worth
* Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
* Miles from Nowhere, by Nami Mun
* The Common Bond, by Donigan Merritt
* The Glimmer Palace, by Beatrice Colin
* A Thousand Veils by D.J. Murphy
* The Translator, by Daoud Hari
* Tears of the Desert:
A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir
* My Father's Paradise, by Ariel Sabar
* Franklin and Lucy by Joseph Persico

Wisteria Leigh

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 Books Read List

100 / 100 words. 100% done!

Read to Date, 100 Books...
100 Book Challenge 2009

September-December Total=23
Houri, by Mehrdad Balili
The Sacrifice of the Sage Hen, by Susie Schade-Brewer
The Saint and the Fasting Girl, by Anna Richenda
Small Kingdoms, by Anastasia Hobbet
Once a Witch, by Carolyn Maccollough
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel, by Maureen Lindley
Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls
The White Mary, by Kira Kalak
After You've Gone, by Jeffrey Lent
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
The Crimson Rooms, by Katharine McMahon
Journeying, by Barbara Fleming
The Wildest Heart, by Rosemary Rogers
The Widow's War, by Mary Mackey
Five Smooth Stones, by Ann Fairbairn
Dead Until Dark, Sookie Stackhouse, Charlene Harris
January's Sparrow, Patricia Polacco
The Devil's Cub, Georgette Heyer
No Wind of Blame, Georgette Heyer
The Wives of Henry Oads, Johanna Moran
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Abigail Reynolds
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters
The Girl in the Lighthouse, by Roxane Tepfer Sanford

August Total= 5
8-09-The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
8-09-The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett (Non-Fiction)
8-09-South of Broad by Pat Conroy
8-09-The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
8-09-The Half Moon, Henry Hudwon and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World
by Douglas Hunter (Non-Fiction)

July Total 14 Books

7-09-Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
7-09-Beneath a Northern Sky, Steven E. Woodworth (A Short History of the Gettysburg Campaign)p.227.
7-09-When I Was a Slave, Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection, Edited by Norman R. Yetman
7-09-Slavery by Another Name, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize by Douglas A. Blackmon
7-09-Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris
7-09-Forever Free by Eric Froner
7-09-Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats (YA)
7-09-The Last Day by James Landis
7-09-Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell
7-09-American Lion by Jon Meacham
7-09-The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy
7-09-The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
7-09-The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos, by Margaret Mascarenhas
7-09-Titanic, The Untold Story, by W. Mae Kent

June Totals 7 Books

6-09-Seducing the Spirit by, Louise Young
6-09-Scottsboro, by Ellen Feldman
6-09-The Indifferent Stars Above, b Daniel Brown
6-09-Battle Cry of Freedom, by James McPherson
6-09-After You've Gone, by Jeffrey Lent
6-09-The Bolter, by Frances Osborne
6-09-A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick

May Totals 8 Books

5-09-Sea Changes,by Gail Graham
5-09-Every Boat Turns South, by J.P.White
5-09-Lace Makers of Glenmara, by Heather Barbieri
5-09-Leviathan, by Eric Jay Dolin
5-09-A Consumers' Republic by Lizabeth Cohen
5-09-Working Towards Whiteness, by David Roediger
5-09-The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan
5-09-All Other Nights, by Dara Horn

April Totals 8 Books

4-09-Toys to Tools, by Liz Kolb
4-09-Daddy's Little Spy-Isabella, by Isabella Rose
4-09-The Tory Widow, by Christine Blevins
4-09-Salvos on the Backwater, Erwin Wunderlich
4-09-Tone Deaf in Bangkok, by Janet Brown
4-09-Mrs. Lincoln, by Catherine Clinton
4-09-The Barfighter, by Ivan G. Goldman
4-09-Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead

March Totals 11 Books

3-09-Eight Hours for What We Will, by Roy Rosensweig
3-09-The Recovery of Ecstasy, by Sandy Krolick, Ph.D
3-09-Outcasts Unlimitd, by Warren St. John
3-09-The German Women, by Paul Griner
3-09-Follow Me, by Joanna Scott
3-09-Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
3-09-The Secret Keeper, by Paul Harris
3-09-Meteor of War, by Zoe Trodd and John Stauffer EDS.
3-09-The Sacred Well, by Antoinnette May
3-09 Big Boy Rules, by Steve Fainaru
3-09 Night Battles, by M.F. Bloxam

February Totals 10 Books

2-09 Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
2-09-The Revolution of 1800, edited by Onuf
2-09 Ereth and Poppy, by Avi
2/09-The Unpolished Gem, by Alice Pung
2/09-I,Jacqueline, by Hilda Lewis
2/09-The Duke of Stockbridge: A Romance of Shays' Rebellion by Edward Bellamy
2/09-The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz
2/09-William Cooper's Town by Alan Taylor
2/09-The Color of Lighting by Paulette Jiles
2/09-The Disappearance by Efrem Sigel

January Totals 9 Books

1/09-Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill
1/09-Canvey Island by James Runcie
1/09-Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
1/09-The Scramble for Africa by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk
1/09-The History of Now by Daniel Klein
1/09-The Mind of a Genius by David Snowdon
1/09-Red Clay, Blood River by William J. Everett
1/09-High Spirits by, Dianne K. Salerni
1/09-Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by, Jamie Ford

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 Challenges

Sookie Stackhouse Challenge 2009

The Rules:

1. Between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, catch up on Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. No matter if you're starting with book 1 or book 8, you have a year to read all about Sookie. Read Sookie in print, listen to the audio, read an eBook -- format is not an issue.

2. Sign up using Mr. Linky. Put your name in the top box. For the bottom box, please use the URL that links specifically to your blog post about this challenge, not to your blog's home page.

3. After July 4, I'll create a post with another Mr. Linky where you can link your reviews so everyone can read them track your progress.

4. If you don't have a blog and want to join in, sign up in the comments here. Later, let us know about your progress by leaving comments on the review link page.

EDIT: You can join any time during the course of the challenge.

The Books:

Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

Book Buddy Blogger Challenge 2009

Hosted by Wisteria

My List of 10
1. The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from Lesa @ Lesa's Book Critiques
2. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran rom Krishna @ S. Krishna's Books
3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Iliana @ bookgirl's nightstand
4. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry from Michelle @1 more chapter
5. Sunflower and the Secret Fan from Naida @ The Bookworm
6. The White Mary from Marie @ Boston Bibliophile
7. Kushiels Mercy, by Jacqueline Carey from Medieval Bookworm
8. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver from Naida @ The Bookworm
9. The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff from Medieval Bookworm
10.Persuasion, by Jane Austen from Naida@ The Bookworm

Thanks to all my book buddies for the great list I now can add to my TBR pile for 2009.

Romance Reading Challenge 2009

Hosted by Naida @ the Bookworm

This is my list:
1.Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
2.Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
3.The Host, by Stephenie Meyer
4.Into the Wildernes by Rosina Lippi
5.Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt (1991)

Backup possibilities
+Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
+Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
+Stardust by Neil Gaiman
+Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

War Through the Generations WWII Challenge 2009

Hosted by Anna and Serena @ War Through the Generations

My List of Books

1. Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen Ambrose
2. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,by Jamie Ford
3. Skeletons at the Feast, b Chris Bohjalian
4. Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
6. The Irregulars, by Jennet Conant
7. The Sunflower, by Simon Wiesenthal
8. The Zookeepers Wife, y Diane Ackerman
9. Truman, by David McCullough
10. The German Woman, by Paul Griner
11. Flags of Our Fathers, Brady
12. The Good War, Studs Terkel

Pup Challenge 2009

Hosted by Anna and Serena @ War Through the Generations
Hosted by Michelle @ 1morechapter

Here are the 2009 rules:

1. Read a minimum of 9 books first published in 2009. You don’t have to buy these. Library books, unabridged audios, or ARCs are all acceptable. To qualify as being first published in 2009, it must be the first time that the book is published in your own country. For example, if a book was published in Australia, England, or Canada in 2008, and then published in the USA in 2009, it counts (if you live in the USA). Newly published trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks do not count if there has been a hardcover/trade published before 2009. Any questions on what qualifies? Just leave a comment here, and I’ll respond with the answer.
2. No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the ‘pub.’
3. At least 5 titles must be fiction.
4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
5. You can add your titles as you go, and they may be changed at any time.

My List is as follows:

1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Fiction (Published 2-09)
2. The Scramble for Africa Darfur-Invertention and the USA by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk Non-Fiction (Published 2-09)
3. Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell Fiction (Published 1/20/09)
4. The History of Now by Daniel Klein Fiction (Published 2/09)
5. The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz
6. Seducing the Spirit by Louise Young
7. The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown
8. Every Boat Turns South by Jay White
9. The Secret Keeper
10.Sweeping Up Glassd

ARC Challenge 2009

Hosted by The Literate Housewife

Here are the rules:

1. To sign up, leave a comment (here) and a direct link to your blog post about this challenge that includes your list from rule #2.

2. List all of the ARC’s that you have to read right now. Then throughout the year, you must continue updating that list as you receive more ARC’s. (This is important). You should also strike out the ones that you finish.

3 a. All of us who have or will have more than 12 ARC’s must read and review 12.
3 b. All of us who have or will have less than 12 ARC’s must read all of the ARC’s we have. Note, that if you have 11 ARC’s and then receive a 12th one you will be bumped up to category a.

4. You don’t have to make a list of which ARC’s you plan to read, but you can if you want.

5. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and Audio-books are allowed as long as they are ARC’s.

6. Read the books and review them on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, you can post your review on sites like Powells, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Leave a comment on this post with a link to each of your reviews.

7. Please subscribe to my blog, as I will be posting updates to the challenge periodically.

My Ongoing List:

Champlain's Dream
Mozart's Wife
The Mighty Queens of Freeville
Darling Jim
The School on Heart's Content Road
High Spirits
The Hunger Games
Journey to Tracer's Point
The Book of Night Women
Blond Roots
The School of Essential Ingredients
Red Clay, Blood River
Forgotten Patriots
Mistress Shakespeare
The Rose of Sebastropol
The Scramble for Africa
American Rust
Mrs. Lincoln
Hidden Voices
The History of Now
The Mind of a Genius
The Sacred Well
Cutting for Stone
Yellow Knife
Big Boy Rules
The Color of Lightening
Canvey Island
The Miracles of Prato
The Commoner
Galway Bay
The Disappearance

100+ Book Challenge

Hosted by J.Kaye

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
48 / 100

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Special Post for New Years Day

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Years Eve!

There is no secret that my favorite genre is historical fiction, and I do read a lot of it. When I heard about Sandra Worth's new book I couldn't wait to read it. You know how it is though, many books are stacked ahead of others and I had to unwillingly put The King's Daughter to the back of the pack. It was with mixed emotions that I had to save it till I was off from teaching to read it. I was dying to read it, but I had so many other commitments. Now, I'm glad, I waited and could spend this holiday with The King's Daughter, as I savored time reading every page curled up in my cozy chair. Here is my review.

The King’s Daughter
A Novel of the First Tudor Queen
by Sandra Worth
Berkley Trade Paperback(Penguin Group,USA)

Sandra Worth has written a gripping dramatic historical novel based on the ruthless rise to power of the Tudor court. It is a complex history that is presented through the eyes of Elizabeth of York, the King’s Daughter who became the first Tudor Queen upon marrying the usurper Henry Tudor.

Bewitched from the beginning I was a captive reader until the last page. This book is an Elizabethan page-turner from the fifteenth century best seller's list. It offers realistic melodrama, intrigue and suspense, illegitimacy and bigamy, plotting and murder, love and hate all from European History.

Unrequited love and self sacrifice surround Elizabeth’s life. Her only true happiness is the joy she receives from the birth of her son Prince Arthur, heir to the throne.
As Elizabeth the Good learns, marrying Prince Charming does not always guarantee you get you a prince. King Henry VI is the antithesis of the Queen. Virtually invisible, and supplicant to Henry’s mother, Elizabeth is forever pleading with King Henry to grant leniency when punishing his enemies. In most cases begging is wasted on his heartless unmerciful soul.

This novel has been researched with careful attention to historic accuracy and details. Author’s notes clarifying the writer’s process, historical notes and bibliography are included.

The King’s Daughter is an evocative tapestry of the time that presents a history lesson with each passionate page. Sandra Worth tells historical fiction with an enchanting allure making expectations for her next novel an impatient wait. I highly recommend this book.

December 28th 2008

For further information visit Sandra
Worth's Website