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 fiancĂ©, 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 fiancĂ©, 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.