Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Letters

By Debbie Macomber

Katherine O’Connor spends a lot of time at a cozy café on Blossom Street in Seattle where she writes Christmas letters for other people.  She’s good at making their everyday lives sound like a story book, much more entertaining than the reality.

But for Dr Wynn Jeffries, a renowned child psychologist, who also frequents the café, Christmas means lies and deception.  In fact, he recommends that parents “bury Santa under the sleigh”. 

Katherine, however, feels that his parenting philosophy is one big mistake, especially since her five year old twin nieces are being raised according to Dr Jeffries' “free child” methods.  Katherine argues with Wynn about his theories, while he argues that her letters are nothing but lies. 

To finish this entertaining story, check it out at out library!

Written by Bunny Cowart

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Bye Mr Chips

by James Hilton

This wonderful heart rendering tale, tells the life story of Mr Chipping.  As an old man, twice retired, he looks back on his life as he changed from a green schoolmaster to the most beloved teacher at Brookfield, an English public school for boys, known affectionately as Mr Chips.  Through hardship and war, love and tragedy Mr Chips was Brookfield, a man in a shabby robe always ready with a jest and a man who considered all his students the children he and his wife never had.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday January BCB: The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis

Product Description
One day in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a beautiful diamond necklace in a jewelry store window and wondered: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and one great leap of faith later, Jonell and twelve other women bought the necklace together–to be passed along among them all.

The dazzling treasure weaves in and out of each woman’s life, reflecting her past, defining her present, making promises for her future. Lending sparkle in surprising and unexpected ways, the necklace comes to mean something dramatically different to each of the thirteen women. With vastly dissimilar histories and lives, they transcend their individual personalities and politics to join together in an uncommon journey–and what started as a quirky social experiment becomes something far richer and deeper.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Looking Glass Wars

What if Lewis Carroll got it wrong and Alice was really from Wonderland and not just a visitor?

When Princess Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne escapes through the pool of tears from her insane Aunt Redd after the death of her parents, she finds herself in the strange world of Victorian England where her talent for imagination no longer conjurers real things. Living on the street in London, stealing for food she is eventually caught and taken to an orphanage where she is adopted by the Liddells of Oxford.

Unable to make anyone believe her story Alyss begins to believe that her old life was only a dream. In one last desperate attempt to tell her tale she confides in Charles Dodgson, whose book Alice’s Adventures Underground is so devastatingly wrong that Alyss gives up and resigns herself to grow up in Victorian England.

But Wonderland needs its rightful queen as Redd, the usurper to the throne is destroying everyting good and wonderful. Hatter Madigan, the royal bodyguard, hasn’t given up on Alyss. Searching for Alyss throughout the world beyond the looking glass, he comes across Alice’s Adventures Underground and finds Alyss. But it maybe too late for Wonderland as Alyss no longer remembers how to use her imagination.

Cleverly interwoven with people and animals from the original tale, Beddor brings the wonder of Alice to a whole new generation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November is Native American Heritage Month

In the early 1900s attempts to set aside a day of recognition for Native Americans eventually culminated into an entire month of honoring N.A. Ancestry. A joint resolution was approved by George H. W. Bush in 1990 designating November as “National American Indian Heritage Month." The name has varied some since 1994 and is now known as Native American Heritage Month. The theme for this year’s month is "Pride in Our Heritage. Honor to Our Ancestors."
Visit the N.A. Heritage Month official site

Please visit these links to learn more about Native Americans:
First Nations Peoples:

Native American Code Talkers:
Native American Lore:

Native American Technology and Art:
Learn some Cherokee!
Native Wiki is about worldwide indigenous cultures:
Index of N.A. Resources on the Internet:
Extensive list of links for N.A. Studies:

National Museum of the American Indian:

Smithsonian American Indian Encyclopedia entries which includes excellent recommended reading lists on Native American topics:

Native Americans & Alabama:
Native American Tribes of Alabama:
Poarch Creek Band of Indians:

Poarch Creek Thanksgiving Pow Wow:


Alabama tribes of the past:

Information about the Alabama Indian Tribe:
A short history of Alabama Tribes:
Current Tribes in Alabama:
Visit a Native American Park or Site:

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Lost Symbol

By Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol begins with an ancient ritual and a secret. Again, brilliant Harvard professor Robert Langdon finds himself in a predicament that requires his vast knowledge of symbology and superior problem-solving skills to save the day, and in this case, a matter of national security. The setting, unlike other Robert Langdon novels, is stateside, set in Washington, D.C. As with other Dan Brown books, the pace is relentless and the revelations are many. The Freemasons organization and its beliefs and origins are at the center of this dynamic book.

Nothing is ever as it seems in a Robert Langdon novel, and The Lost Symbol is no exception. There are flashbacks of Langdon and other character’s lives that give us a more in-depth picture of how and why decisions are made when they are made. As always, there are interesting twists and turns that keep the reader engaged and enthralled. There are also things that will make you raise your eyebrows – you didn’t see THAT coming. This book will keep you interested throughout. Definitely a must read

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumnal Display

Look for our Autumn display for Fall craft ideas, Halloween, beautiful pictures and more!  Located above the non fiction DVDs, these books are all available for check out!  So don't leaf without your Fall book today!   

Thursday November BCB: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Product Description:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What is a web browser?

Are you in the minority of people who actually know what a browser is? You might be surprised to learn that it is not google, yahoo or any other search engine.

Monday November BCB: A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford

From the Back Cover:

In the brooding moors above a humble Yorkshire village stood Fairley Hall. There, Emma Harte, its oppressed but resourceful servant girl, acquired a shrewd determination. There, she honed her skills, discovered the meaning of treachery, learned to survive, to become a woman,
and vowed to make her mark on the world.

In the wake of tragedy she rose from poverty to magnificent wealth as the iron-willed force behind a thriving international enterprise. As one of the richest women in the world Emma Harte
has almost everything she fought so hard to achieve-save for the dream of love,
and for the passion of the one man she could never have.

Through two marriages, two devastating wars, and generations of secrets, Emma's unparalleled success has come with a price. As greed, envy, and revenge consume those closest to her, the brilliant matriarch now finds herself poised to outwit her enemies, and to face the
betrayals of the past with the same ingenious resolve that forged her empire.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories

 by Robin Mckinley

Meet five ordinary, pragmatic heroines with hidden strengths: Lily, a girl with no voice, who falls for a mage; Ruen, whose uncle wishes to discredit her and rule her kingdom himself; Erana, daughter to a wood cutter who stole herbs from a witch’s garden and was given to the witch as payment; Coral, newly married to a widowed farmer, who is drawn to the strange hill covered in buttercups; and lastly Annabelle, who finds a strange doorway opened by a knot in the grain.

These five tales are full of thrilling magic, beauty and romance.  The first four are love stories set in Damar, the world of Mckinley’s Newbery award winning The Hero and the Crown, where each heroine seeks a place in her world and a partner to complement her own potential.  The last tale, set in the present day is a tale simply of magic and finding a place to call home.

Part of my 100 + readintg challenge

Monday, September 28, 2009


Fluke is the story of a dog who discovered he has been reincarnated from a human into a dog.  Now he must expereince life as a dog to learn some very important life lessons.

Fluke, played by Matthew Modine, and his friend, Rambo, (Samuel L Jackson) are loveable.  I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop between them.

Written by Vickie Morton

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday October BCB - Death in Holy Orders by PD James

Product Description
From the award-winning master of literary crime fiction, a classic work rich in tense drama and psychological insight.

On the East Anglian seacoast, a small theological college hangs precariously on an eroding shoreline and an equally precarious future. When the body of a student is found buried in the sand, the boy’s influential father demands that Scotland Yard investigate. Enter Adam Dalgliesh, a detective who loves poetry, a man who has known loss and discovery. The son of a parson, and having spent many happy boyhood summers at the school, Dalgliesh is the perfect candidate to look for the truth in this remote, rarified community of the faithful–and the frightened. And when one death leads to another, Dalgliesh finds himself steeped in a world of good and evil, of stifled passions and hidden pasts, where someone has cause not just to commit one crime but to begin an unholy order of murder. . . .

Thursday October BCB - Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson

Product Description
When his son Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson was devastated, afraid he might never be able to communicate with his child. But when Isaacson, a lifelong horseman, rode their neighbor's horse with Rowan, Rowan improved immeasurably. He was struck with a crazy idea: why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the one place in the world where horses and shamanic healing intersected?

THE HORSE BOY is the dramatic and heartwarming story of that impossible adventure. In Mongolia, the family found undreamed of landscapes and people, unbearable setbacks, and advances beyond their wildest dreams. This is a deeply moving, truly one-of-a-kind story--of a family willing to go to the ends of the earth to help their son, and of a boy learning to connect with the world for the first time.

Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

Having read and loved “The Little White Horse” by the same author, I was pleased to come across another of Elizabeth Goudge’s books.  Unsure of what to expect, as my library copy had been rebound with a plain cover I embarked into the unknown.

The story is set in Christ Church, Oxford, in the 16th century and follows the Leigh family for a year, through love and grief, joy and loss, culminating with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to that illustrious city.

Although a charming read, and involving many well known characters from history, include Sir Walter Raleigh, I was a little disappointed with the simplicity of the tale.  At each turn of the page I was expecting the story to take off. Perhaps if I had known more about the book, I would have found it more enjoyable.

I also later found out it was the second book of a series.  As I intend to go back and read the first book, “A City of Bells”, perhaps it is a series that will grow on me.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Monday, August 31, 2009

Faeries of the Celtic Lands

by Nigel Suckling

This excellent and well thought out book chronicles the legends of faeries in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France beginning with the arrival of the Tuatha de Danann through to the Victorian era and ending with the most recent sightings, including the famous controversial photos taken in 1917.

The book mainly focuses on the Irish tales as early Christianity did the least amount of damage to the traditions of Ireland, and many more of their tales survived into present day, but the book also draws on the welsh Mabinogion and other ballads revived during the renaissance.

Suckling presents each of the Tuatha, and the different fairies, such as pookas and leprechauns to the reader giving a central overview, and tales where they are prominent. Before walking us through history as the fairies leave and go “underhill” but their presence, gifts and influence still remain up until Victorian times.

Anyone with a genuine interest in the subject would be pleased to add this to their bookshelves.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Club Book (BCB) September - All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Product description from Hardback edition:

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most. But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg's mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people's cotton so that her children wouldn't have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives--and the country that shaped and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.

Monday, August 17, 2009

the Edge Chronicles : Beyond the Deepwoods

by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Twig has always known he was different from the other wood trolls, so when his  mother tells him she found him as a baby he begins a journey that will put aside everything that he has ever been taught about the Deepwoods where he lives.  Straying from the path Twig encounters many weird and wonderful creatures, (some of which are even friendly) in his perilious journey of self discovery and soon learns that even the rocks and trees can be dangerous.  Pursued by the fearsome Gloamglozer who haunts the wood,Twig perseveres in his quest to find where he fits in and a place he can call home.

Riddell’s wonderful drawings bring to life the strange characters from this first book in a series. A fantastic book that young readers will love and they will laugh aloud at the terrible, comic and inventive adventures that Twig falls into one right after the other - from being enslaved as a pet to falling in a huge pot full of honey being cooked for the goblin’s meal, just to name a few!   

Part of my 100 + reading challenge

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Library improvements

Gardendale library is currently closed for improvements and renovations. We hope to re-open on the 17th August. The staff are not on holiday, but doing the manual labour and here are the pictures from this past week to prove it!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Children of the Lamp : Eye of the Forest

by P. B Kerr

Continuing the marvelous adventure in this 5th installment, twin djinn, Philippa and John Gaunt, find themselves in the midst of a new adventure! Along with their Uncle Nimrod and his unhappy butler, the twins must go deep into the Amazon on the trail of the greedy wizard Virgil Mccreedy in search of the eye of the forest, a fabled gateway to the lost Inca City of Gold.

But all is not what it seems. Clues suggested that the way to the city is booby-trapped or false trails have been left by the Incas and what about that prophecy that twin djinns will destroy the world?

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Friday, July 24, 2009

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton

Horse Soldiers is the extraordinary account of a small group of Special Forces soldiers who secretly enter Afghanistan after 9/11 and rode to war on horses to fight the Taliban. Way out numbered, they pursued the enemy across mountainous terrain and, after intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was essential if they were to defeat the Taliban.

Deeply researched, the book reads like an adventure novel. It is full of unforgettable characters – the soldiers and the wives they left at home, the CIA operatives, the afghan warlords and the Afghan people themselves. Especially unforgettable is Mike Spann, the CIA paramilitary officer from Alabama who was killed during the Taliban prisoner uprising.

Horse Soldiers gives a vivid picture of war in a primitive land and a new appreciation of what these soldiers went through to protect freedom. I highly recommend it.

By Phyllis Kelly

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

This scandalous supernatural classic by the moralistic author, tells the tale of the vain, beautiful young man, Dorian Gray. After having his portrait made he becomes infatuated with the idea of eternal youth and beauty and makes a foolish wish that he would stay young and fresh forever, while the portrait grew old. A wish that comes true.

Encouraged by Lord Henry (Harry)Wotton, Dorian follows many sinful and sensual exploits, which leave no mark upon him, but changes the face of painting into a hideous mask of evil and corruption. Hiding the painting away, Dorian believes himself free to live as he likes, but his unchanged face does not go unnoticed and his dangerous and attractive lifestyle leaves death and destruction in his wake.

Wilde's tale from the 1890s is filled with his characteristic observations of human nature and dry humour. A more difficult and complicated read than many of his other books, with long periods philosophical discussion which, though interesting, stop the flow of the story.

Of course, the book scandalized the Victorians and it was even used against him when he was on trial that resulted in imprisonment due to homosexuality!

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Last Apprentice : Revenge of the Witch

by Joseph Delaney

This deliciously creepy book begins the chronicles of 12 year old Tom Ward. Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son, a mysterious combination that means he hears all the dangerous things that go bump in the night. Apprenticed to the local Spook, Mr. Gregory, who takes care of the dangerous boggarts, witches and other nasties, Tom is warned to beware of girls with pointed shoes. Think the Spook meant well, Tom ignores the warning and befriends Alice, a girl from the local witch family who traps him with a dangerous promise.

Too late to stop it, Tom realizes he has released a hideous witch. With the Spook away it is up to Tom to stop the witch before she is able to feed on the blood of the innocent to regain her strength and begin terrorizing the neighborhood again. Not yet trained to defeat witches Tom makes a dangerous mistake, a mistake that puts the lives of his family in grave danger.

A tale of terror and magic that will enthrall and bewitch young readers and send shivers up the spines of even the most hardened adult!

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Monday, July 6, 2009

Howl's Moving Castle

by Diane Wynn Jones

In the land of Ingary where magic runs rife a prince has been taken captive by the evil witch of the waste and the talented king’s wizard, who has tried to rescue him has reportable been slain. A dangerous, heart-eating wizard by the name of Howl is reported to be on the move.

But all of this is inconsequential to Sophie Hatter. Afraid that her position as eldest of three sisters means she is doomed to failure if she tries to seek her fortune elsewhere, Sophie works in the her tedious family’s hat shop in Market Chipping. That is until her fate takes a turn and brings Sophie to the attention of the evil Witch of the Waste, who casts a spell, turning Sophie into an old lady unable to tell anyone what has happened.

So, Sophie runs away from home, right into the strange and frantic world of Howl, his apprentice Michael and the fire demon, Calcifer where her only hope of reversing the spell lies in untangling and breaking the bizarre contract between Howl and his demon before the witch of the waste catches up with them.

With a wonderful combination of outrageous humor and great sincerity, this tale of magic and finding one’s true purpose will enchant readers of any age.

Part of my 100 + reading challenge

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kentucky Sunrise

by Fern Michaels

Nealy Clay was very content with her new husband, lawyer Hatch Littletree, but she was never satisfied with horses.  Nealy was a trainer and not even her daughter, Emmie, could measure up to her standards.

When Nealy returns to Blue Diamond Farms for a family reunion she finds that her daughter has let the farm slide, and that she is planning to send a colt to the Kentucky Derby.

Nealy gets back into the game, taking on the colt as her personal project.  She is determined not to let her daughter's bad judgement cloud the reputation she has built.  Her relationship with her daughter may be ruined, as Emmie fights a battle with a life threatening illness, and could lose custody of her child.

A serious rivalry occurs, and both women engage in a battle of wills.  Both are determined to win no matter what the cost.

Written by Lisa Keith

Wednesday, July 1, 2009





Friday, June 26, 2009

Sugar Queen

by Sarah Addison Allen

When Josey finds Della Lee, a local waitress with a reputation for trouble, hiding in her closet where she secretly keeps sugary food and romance novels, her sheltered life is turned upside-down. Encouraged by Della Lee, Josey begins to changed from a guilt ridden child into a well rounded woman. She soon finds making friends isn’t as hard as she though and depends less and less on her romance novels and food.

Chloe Finley has a secret, ever since she can remember books have appeared whenever she needed them, and whenever they think she needs them. She also has a problem, her boyfriend, Jake, with whom she was planning to spend the rest of her life with has admitted to cheating.

Secrets run rife through the town, and as Josey comes to know Della Lee Chloe, Jake and Adam it becomes obvious that a secret shared is a burden halved if only their friendship is strong enough.

Filled with lively believable characters, this is a delightful tale of friendship, love and subtle magic.

Part of my 100 + reading challenge.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Having read the Twilight series, the Historian and being an avid fan of Buffy, I decided it was about time I went to the source of the vampire trend and read Dracula.

Now, I may be one of the few people in the world who really had no idea what the book was about besides the obvious – a vampire by the name of Dracula. (I didn’t even realize Van Helsing was a character!) So, I had no preconceptions of this dark 19th century novel.

I found the story intriguingly complex if not as horrifying as I imagine the first readers found it to be. Written in diary form, the book is composed of the letters and diaries of a small group brought together by the evils of Dracula. The Count is deliciously mysterious and amoral, and our band of heroes are intrepid and fearful by turn and so very prim and proper.

Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to see a client who is buying a house in London with the intent of moving there. On arriving in the town he meets the local peasantry who try to warn him away from the count, his client, but sure it is just local superstition, Jonathan journeys on the terrifying ruined structure where Count Dracula makes his home.

Lucy, recently engaged to be married and a dear friend of Jonathan’s fiancé, Mina, suddenly falls sick after sleep walking in the graveyard at night in Whitby. When Lucy does not seem to get any better, her friend and doctor, John Stuart sends for his mentor from Amsterdam, Dr Van Helsing and it is he who reveals the terrible truth of her sickness. But even he is unable to save her.

Van Helsing and his determined group must use all their wits, courage and strength in a long battle to defeat the sinister Count before it is too late.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Magic Strikes

by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels leads a complicated life. A mercenary for years in an Atlanta that constantly shifts between technology and magic in waves and friends with were-beasts, she has seen her fair share of challenging paranormal.

But when Derek, her werewolf friend asks her to deliver a message, Kate has no idea what she is getting herself into, and when that message all but gets Derek killed, Kate begins her own investigation only to find it is all tied up with the gladiators of the Midnight games, a most deadly fighting tournament, and the supernatural prize being offered to the winners.

Packed with action, humour, strange magic and beasts, fans of Patricia Briggs will find this fasted paced, energetic novel a welcome addition to their shelves.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Friday, June 12, 2009


by Ursula K. Le Guin

Little is known about Lavinia, Aeneas of Troy’s second wife, with whom he founds his empire. Now Ursula K. Le Guin turns her incredible talent to give voice to Vergil’s silent character from the Aenead.

Growing up in peaceful Latium, a beloved daughter of King Latinus, Lavinia knows more freedom than many princesses. She roams the hills and forests of her homeland and visits the sacred springs. It is at one of these sacred places she first meets the poet who tells Lavina she is destined to marry a great man from Troy and with whom she will have just a few short years. But her mother and most of the kingdom favour Turnus, the king of neighboring Rutuli and Lavinia’s cousin as her match. And so, when the oracle tells King Latinus to marry his daughter to the Trojan outsider a bitter civil war breaks out, a war that breeds resentment for years to come and shapes the kingdom that will become Rome.

Le Guin, drawing on Vergil’s original tale, creates a realistic mythological account of a shy girl who becomes a strong partner to a great hero and passionate heroine in her own right.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Monday Night Book Club - JULY BOOK - Kentucky Sunrise by Fern Michaels

Click here to read Lisa Keith's review of this book!

Taken From Publishers Weekly

Prolific novelist Michaels completes the saga of the Coleman and Thornton families with this follow-up to Kentucky Rich and Kentucky Heat. She focuses on the relationship between Nealy Coleman, a one-time runaway unwed mother who became the indomitable horsewoman-proprietor of Blue Diamond Farms, and her daughter, Emmie. Nealy's prestigious stables were run with a perfectionist's firm hand until her recent marriage to lawyer Hatch Littletree left Emmie in charge. Emmie not only fails to keep up appearances at the farm but also chooses the wrong horse to train for the Derby, where there'll be a mammoth family reunion. Mother and daughter's lifelong rivalry suddenly becomes a struggle for control of the family estate. Emmie, who inherited her mother's strong will, is battling an undiagnosed illness and a secret fear of losing custody of her own child. When she finds out she has rheumatoid arthritis, she goes for an extended stay at the Rehabilitation Center in Las Vegas, founded by her aunt Fanny. Nealy abandons retirement to try and reestablish the reputation of her beloved stables. Another familial crisis surfaces when Willow, Nealy's ex-daughter-in-law, is wanted on a murder charge and demands that Hatch's law firm represent her. When Emmie returns to Kentucky, the power struggle turns ugly. There is, of course, a stunning Derby day climax. Long on action, colorful dialogue and coincidence but short on subtle characterizations and sense of place, the book will satisfy Michaels's many fans, if not win her new ones. Featured alternate selection of the Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs, alternate selection of the Literary Guild; audio rights to Brilliance Audio.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Year Without "Made in China" by Sara Bongiorni

After a Christmas full of new plastic and electronic toys mostly from China, writer and journalist Sara Bongiorni decides to try an experiment: boycott China goods for 12 months.

Aware that the experiment is flawed and that they can’t expect friends and family to fall in line, they do accept Chinese wares as gifts, a device that save the experiment and their sanity on many occasions!

Often frustrated by misleading labels, a mutinously sneaky husband and the fear of disappointing her young son, this anecdotal account will make you laugh and cry as the search for everyday items becomes an ordeal, you can just forget replacing electronic equipment and even birthday candles have to be forgone!

This thought provoking, witty and frank story of a family’s attempt to live without Chinese goods also provides an interesting insight into global economics.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

I first came across the title of this book several years ago on the BBC's 2003 Big Read, but at the time was unable to find a copy. So, when I found it a few days ago, hidden on a shelf at my local library, I picked it up.
The small volume contains the wonderful tale of a seagull who dares to be different. "For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight”. Banished from his home, Jonathan Livingston begins his journey to find the true joy of flight and along the way learns love, kindness and the fulfillment of helping others.

Throughout this truly inspiring and allegorical tale is the gorgeous black and white photography of flying seagulls taken by Russell Munson that add depth to its simplicity. I can understand why this book of barely more than 100 pages made the list of Britain’s best loved novels.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

by Alexander McCall Smith

This latest delightful episode of the best selling No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series finds Precious Ramotswe in a quandary. Her tiny white van, which has carried her for years, has developed a disturbing noise. Not knowing what to do, and afraid that her mechanic husband will condemn her beloved vehicle, Mma Ramotswe turns to one of the mechanic assistants for help. But is her van too old to be saved?

Grace Makutsi, also has a problem. Her fiancé, Phuti Radiphuti, has inadvertently hired Violet Sephotho, Grace’s hated enemy from the Botswana Secretarial College. Not only that, but Grace is sure the glamourous women is trying to win Phuti’s affections.

To add to the difficulties, the ladies have a new client. Leungo Molofololo, the owner of a football team, is sure he has a traitor on the team. Why else would his once successful team be losing? The case will be challenging as neither of the ladies knows anything about football.

A good addition to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, although I would have liked it to have had a few more smaller mysteries for the ladies to solve. Even so, Mma Ramotswe’s simplistic, yet shrewd way of problem solving and the breathtaking setting of Botswana makes this book a pleasure to read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dragon Bones

by Patricia Briggs

Raised by an abusive father, Ward, the heir to Huron has pretended to stupidity so long it is second nature, but when his father is killed in a hunting accident the reigns of the kingdom fall heavily on Ward's shoulders.  Not knowing who he should trust or where to turn for help, Ward soon finds himself on a journey to prove himself worthy.  His companions, the family ghost who might just be mad, a brother who has no love for him, a runaway slave and the only two men of the kingdom who know Ward's secret.

An intriguing tale of fantasy and honor, set in a world where heroes must prove their metal and dragons are not quite extinct.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Lace Reader

By Brunonia Barry

Towner, Sophya Whitney, thinks that she is free from Salem, Massachusetts, her past and her family’s uncanny ability to read fortunes in lace. That is until she learns her beloved Great-Aunt Eva, has disappeared.

Arriving back in Salem, Towner soon learns Eva drowned. Her suspicions of foul play are compounded by the disappearance of an abused girl under the thrall of a local cult leader and enemy of Eva’s, but given Towner’s history of hallucinatory visions and self-harm few believe her.

Drawn back into a world of clairvoyants, witches and crazed cults, Towner must navigate her way with the help of a cop, John Rafferty, and local witch, Anne Chase. But to learn the truth of Eva’s death and Angela’s disappearance, Towner must stop running and piece together her past from the lies and half-truths in her hallucinations and the lace.

Barry’s quirky depiction of Salem’s small town life with the bizarre characters one expects of a town famous for its witch trials is truly mesmerizing. An excellent backdrop for this chilling, yet compelling novel of magic, mystery and dark secrets spun together with wit and dreams, abuse and the true meaning of family.

Monday, May 18, 2009

June BCB: The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Relationships are brought to the limit in Delinsky's splendid latest exploration of family dynamics. On a rainy night, Deborah Monroe and her teenage daughter, Grace, are driving home when their car hits a man. The victim, who turns out to be Grace's history teacher, is unconscious but alive. Although Grace was driving, Deborah sends her home and takes responsibility for the accident when the cops show up. Deborah is juggling a lot: as a family doctor, she is in private practice with her über-demanding widower father, who is trying to hide a drinking problem; her son, Dylan, is vision impaired; her mother's death continues to affect the family; Deborah is still dealing with her ex-husband's new, separate life; and her unmarried sister, Jill, has just announced she's pregnant. Grace's guilt about not taking responsibility for the accident makes her withdraw from friends and family, and the accident victim turns out to have a more complex private life than anyone imagined. The author seamlessly resolves relationship issues without sentiment, throws in a promising romance for Deborah and offers a redemptive scene between Grace and her grandfather. Delinsky combines her understanding of human nature with absorbing, unpredictable storytellinga winning combination. (Jan.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Taken from

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute

Keith Stewart is a hard working, good man who loves job.  Having given up advancement as an engineer, he lives quietly in London creating miniature models and writing for a mechanic magazine.  When his sister and brother-in-law decide to immigrate to Vancouver, using their own sailing boat, they ask Keith and his wife to look after their daughter, Janice, until they arrive.  As the laws about taking money out of Britain mean they would have to leave most of their money and jewelry behind, they ask Keith to help them hid a jewelry box on the boat.

When disaster strikes and the little boat goes down just off of the islands of Tahiti, Keith realizes the box he helped to hid must contain all of their life savings. Never having left England before, but wanting to do his best for Janice, Keith sets out on a journey to Tahiti. Not knowing how he is going to get there or how he will pay his way, Keith finds help in unexpected places.

This charming novel highlights the honesty and integrity of ordinary people and how even small kindnesses can have effects that pay you back tenfold.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ascendant Sun

by Catherine Asaro

In this sequel to The Lask Hawk, Kelric cybernetically enhanced Jagernaut warrior and heir to the Skolian Empire is on his way home. But much has changed in the galaxy during his 18 years of exile on the planet Coba. The psyberweb that united the known planets and was run by his family has collapsed after a devastating war and the other members of the ruling family are either hostages or dead. Kelric, now the only heir to the throne, is in great danger, not only from those who would use him but also from the damage to his body sustained on Coba which is slowly killing him.

Hiding his ignorance and his identity Kelric takes the only job available as a crew member on a merchant ship headed for Euban space, but when disaster strikes and the vessel is captured by his families sworn enemies, the Aristos, Kelric must use all his skills to win his freedom and stop them from gaining complete control of interstellar communications which would endanger, not only himself and those left on Coba but every world in the Skolian Empire.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd. How do we deal with all the challenges and responsibilities that life offers us? Where does our support come from? Life for Lily Owens seemed to be one with too many challenges and responsibilities and support from only Rosaleen, her nanny. Rosaleen steps into the “mother” position when Lily’s own mother is killed in an almost unimaginable tragedy. Lily’s father doesn’t seem to be concerned that Lily is growing up without her mother; he’s just bitter that he doesn’t have a wife and takes it all out on Lily for the next ten years. Rosaleen gets into trouble with the 1964 racist town leaders and law enforcement so Lily takes the opportunity for her and Rosaleen to escape their lives. Thinking that the town holds information about her mother’s past, Lily plans for them to travel to Tiburon, South Carolina after she sneaks Rosaleen out of her guarded hospital room.

In Tiburon, Lily and Rosaleen are taken in by three sister beekeepers. As Lily learns the beekeeping business and Rosaleen helps in the kitchen, the unfolding of the past and its connections to the present circumstances become painfully intertwined. Only with the love and support of the beekeeping sisters, their friends, Rosaleen, and an unusual Black Madonna statue, Lily makes it through this challenging and transforming time in her life.

The Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide

by David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine

This fab little book is a must for everyone, whether you are trying to lose weight or just eat healthier. Not only does it give great tasting, healthier substitutions for all your favorite food items, it is jam-packed with shopping tips, great advice and money saving schemes.

Learn the tricks supermarkets use to make you buy certain items. Find out which veggies and fruits are in season and how to store them to get the best and freshest taste. Discover what to look for on food labels and what to avoid. Get info on how to pick the best and tastiest meat cuts and determine what those weird items on the ingredients list really are.

The easy-to-use book features pictures, detailed break downs of the calorie, fat and sodium content on colour coded tags that correspond to the healthier options making shopping a breeze.

Part of my 100+ reading challenge

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Green Man

A wonderfully inspired selection of short stories and poems each with their own spin on the legendary “Green Man”. Find here a teenage girl plays a deadly game with the Queen of Central Park, a boy who risks his own life to help in a war, two girls who wish for their lives to change with unexpected results and many more.

The tales range from humorous to untamed and mystical, but each contains the power and mystery of the forest. The Green Man will take you from New York to Arizona, from fairy tale to present. With authors like Patricia Mckillip, Emma Bull, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jane Yolen and many more, this fasinating collection will appeal to more than just fans of fantasy and mythology.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Red Tree

by Shaun Tan

This beautiful picture book dramatically illustrates the darkness of despair and how one small, fragile thing can be a ray of hope.

The girl, weighed down by her sorrow and the feeling than no one understands, fails to see the one shred of hope - a red leaf that follows her throughout her journey until she comes full circle, back to the bedroom where she started and is able to find her smile as the leaf has become a glorious tree.

The wonderful dream-like imagery created using a range of artistic techniques from paintings to collages depict and enhance our understanding of the child’s growing depression and her smile at the astonishing red tree.

Part of my 100 + reading challenge

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fantastic Mr Fox

by Roald Dahl

This is a delightful children's tale by the renown author, Roald Dahl, perhaps best known for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Soon to be made into a movie, this story of a wily hero and three dastardly farmers is full of fun and daring deeds.

Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One short one fat, one lean.
These horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were nonetheless equally mean.

Mr. Fox and his wife and his small children have been living off the chicken and geese and ducks owned by three greedy villains: Mr. Boggis, Mr. Bunce and Mr. Bean. All three farmers are quite aware of Mr Fox's thievery and are extremely angered by it. But are hero is far to wily for them to catch.

One night, the mean old farmers decide to get rid of Mr. Fox once and for all. Mr. Bean devises a cunning plan. They will wait for the fox right outside his hole on the hill and shoot him when he comes out. But when Mr. Fox, outsmarts them at the lose of his tail, the villains are so enraged they decide to dig him out. The more they dig the fast the foxes dig, until the hill becomes a crater. The farmers are sure they have him now and again lay siege to the den. And that is when Mr. Fox has an idea. An idea so, clever, so wonderful, so fantastic that if he can pull it off it will mean he, his family and all the other animals will have as much food as they want and be able safe from the farmers forever.

Part of my 100+ book challenge

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Mystery of Grace

by Charles de Lint

When John meets Grace he knows there is something unusual about her but he is falling in love with her two weeks too late.

Grace is an unusual woman. Not because of the tattoos, or because of her job as at Sanchez Motor work where she restores and customizes old cars. No, Grace is dead. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time - the corner shop when a kid decided to rob it.

But instead of passing on, Grace wakes up in her own apartment in a realm occupied by the dead of her neighbourhood. She soon learns the inhabitants can cross back into the world for a night on Hallowe’en and May Eve.

Both John and Grace have problems that need to be fixed. After meeting John, Grace is determined to solve the mystery of the realm she inhabits, and John needs to come to terms with his brother’s death years earlier. With the help of each other, friends, “rockabilly” music and old cars Grace and John learn the value of love, hope and the necessity of letting go.

This romantic fantasy brings together a wonderful mix of folklore, fairy tale and urban legends. De Lint creates well balanced, energetic, imaginative people that puts my lack of incentive to shame!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

Percy (short for Perseus) Jackson is a 12-year-old kid living in New York. He has ADHD, dyslexia and a bad temper, and has been expelled from many different schools, despite his good intentions. But when Percy’s Math Teacher turns into a monster and tries to kill him on a museum trip, Percy begins to realize that he really is different from other kids – in fact he is a half-blood offspring of one of the Greek gods!

Sent to Camp Half-Blood where he meets the other children of the gods and Percy finally learns who his father really is. But the knowledge comes with a price as Percy must make his way across America, helped by his new friends, Annabeth the daughter of Athena and Grover a satyr, on a terrifying quest to find Zeus’ missing lightning bolt.
Dealing with Furies, monsters, other gods and immortals, Percy must return the bolt to Mount Olympus (the 600th floor of the Empire State Building!) before Midsummer’s Day or a war will break out in the heavens that could destroy the earth.

A funny, adventurous tale of a reluctant hero, with a fascinating blend of classic mythology and present day. The only let down for me was the story lacked imaginative deviations from the classical quests.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

A photographic memory, circus abilities, puzzle solving skills and extreme stubbornness.  Four abilities, four children, one dangerous mission.

Encouraged by his tutor, Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement in the newspaper for "gifted children looking for special opportunities". After a series if weird and wonderful tests Reynie, along with Kate Weatherhill, Constance Contraire, and George (Sticky) Washington, is selected for a dangerous mission – to go undercover at L.I.V.E, the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, and discover what is really behind the strange messages broadcasting from the school.

Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky must use all their special talents to solve the mystery and uncover Mr. Curtain’s dastardly plan before it is too late.  But close knit as the four become, will their bond, courage and talents be enough in the face of real danger?

Part of my 100 + Reading challenge

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

A boy on the beach is searching for a bottle cap for his collection when he notices a huge, pot-bellied-stove looking creature that doesn’t seem to belong to anyone, and no one else seems to see. When he takes it home even his parents don’t notice it until the boy points it out to them. Immediately, the boy is told he can not keep it, but finding where the creature belongs proves to be a difficult task.

Filled with the weird and wonderful drawings I have come to expect from Shaun Tan, the story of the boy and his “lost thing” seems very simple. But when one delves deeper into the imagery the book becomes more of a puzzle book as one reads the exterior diagrams and newspaper articles, or perhaps text book entries, which include things such as: "The Federal Department of Odds & Ends," where the motto is "sweepus underum carpetae."

Through Tan’s story and images we see the world around us anew, a world were not everything fits neatly into place, and begs the question, aren’t we all lost things?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

May BCB: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Product Description
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Taken from

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Cygnet and the Firebird by Patricia A. Mckillip

A mysterious mage fleetingly appears at Ro Holding looking for a magical object, closely followed by a man with no memory of the past, transformed into a firebird, whose mournful cries turns anything in its path into precious gems or gold.

Convinced the two are connected in some way, Nyx, sorceress and heir to Ro holding searches all her books for knowledge and spells to help the firebird regain his memory. When the mysterious mage reappears, fights with the firebird and abducts her warrior cousin Meguet, Nyx must use all her skill to find a way to follow them and unravel the mystery. A quest that will take her to the land of Sapier where dragons slumbering in the eerie magical desert, and a plot against her homeland is in the making.

An interesting tale that disappointingly fails to live up to its full potential.

Part of the 100+ book challenge

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Broken Moon by Kim Antieau

By night a weaver of tales, by day a scarred, scared young women.

As 18 year old, Nadira writes home to her little brother, Umar, she slowly reveals through her letters and stories her sadness at her unmarriageable status due to scars inside and out. The most prominent - a half moon scar on her face - left by an assault, allowed by Pakistani traditions, as revenge for her brother’s alleged assault on a rival family’s daughter.

When her brother goes missing, Nadira is convinced her cruel Uncle Rueben has sold him to the camel riders as an illegal child jockey. Feeling she has nothing to lose, Nadira dresses as a boy and sells herself to the camel riders, hoping they will take her to the same camp as Umar. Instead, she is taken to an desert camp where bullies gradually wearing down the new boys spirits. During the day Nadira trains for the races, and takes care of the camels with the other boys, hoping to go to a race and find her brother. At night she resourcefully tries to protect her little group from the bullies. In a final attempt to stop them from being attacked, Nadira makes an offer of peace with masala chai and stories from the Arabian Nights.

As her friendship with the bullies and her usefulness to the camel riders grows, Nadira begins to come to terms with herself and learns that even emotional scars can begin to heal.

Antieau's breathtaking story of loss, determination and the power of tales, can not fail to leave readers moved. Narrated through letters to her brother, the past and present are skillful woven together with the life and the traditions of Pakistan, highlighting the hideousness of child slavery and assault.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Girl who leapt through time

Makoto Konno (Emily Hirst) is a little bit clumsy, oversleeps in the morning and loves baseball - your average high school aged girl. That is until she has the worst day of her life. On that day, Makoto really oversleeps, has a pop quiz, starts a fire in her cooking class, is accidental knocked down at recess by some guys tussling and then, when putting away the classes notebooks, she manages to slip and drop them all on her head. But that is not the worst of it. As she cycles home her brakes give out on the hill right as a train is coming through the crossing. And then something strange happens. As she hits the barrier, time stops and she is unexpectedly moved back in time.
Exploring her strange new talent, Makoto begins to correct the mistakes of the day, but with the help of her Aunt, she realises that her traveling is not limitless and is having devistating effects on those around her. Can Makoto make everything right, before she rus out of leaps?

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda
Click here to reserve you copy from the JCLC catalog!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Three journeys, one destination. All begun with the finding of a mysterious book.

When a young girl finds an ancient book, blank except for a woodcut of a dragon set in the middle, and some old letters addressed to: “ My dear and unfortunate successor,” in her father’s study her curiosity is aroused. Reluctant to explain, but feeling he has no choice, her father, Paul, begins to unfold the mysterious and terrifying events of some 20 years earlier.

The old book had inexplicably appeared on his study carrel, when Paul was a student. Taking the volume to his friend and mentor Professor Bartolomew Rossi, he learned Professor Rossi had received a book with the same woodcut some years early. In an attempt to stop Paul from researching what he perceives as a dangerous volume, Rossi tells his own tale of the long search for the meaning of the dragon and his discovery of its link to Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, the cruel ruler of Wallachia and his burial site. Rossi disappears that same night and despite his fear Paul begins a search for Dracula’s tomb aided by Helen Rossi, the professor’s daughter.

But when Paul himself disappears before finishing the tale, his daughter begins her own research in Vlad Tepes, determined to follow him.

Skillful woven together to illuminate history and the political tensions of Europe, as our characters are led in and out of Eastern Europe on the tail of an evil far greater than any of them had ever imagined.