Friday, April 30, 2010 12 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: Path of Daggers


Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

From book 8, The Path of Daggers, of the WOT time series.

Aviendha had seen blood spilled where there was less strain.
Friday, April 23, 2010 18 comments By: Suzanne

Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

I am sitting in the living/dining area this morning and the book closest to me is actually a cookbook. hehe, I'm having fun taking the 56 from "sort-of" books lately. This is a recipe for Nachos with Tofu and Black Beans from the cookbook Giant Book of Tofu Cooking. It's amazing to me that anyone would need an actual recipe for something so simple. But then again, I've tasted some people's cooking and maybe they do!


Add the cilantro, cumin, and chili powder.


Friday, April 16, 2010 16 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: A Crown of Swords



Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

This week's selection comes from A Crown of Swords, the seventh book in the WOT saga. Yes folks, I am on book 7! YAYYY My journey through reading them all again is coming to a close (maybe). I know I haven't kept everyone up to date on it but it started to seem as if I was saying the same things over and over so I thought I'd spare everyone that! So, here's is my F56 for this week:

The Banner of Light, some called it, or al'Thor's Banner. Others had darker names, and shivered when they spoke them in whispers.

I love this book. I am anxiously awaiting my favorite moment, captured beautifully in this cover from the new ebook version:



I have to say I am very impressed with this and all the ebook versions of the covers. My favorite is the one depicting Mat for the Shadow Rising, which I will let you go check out on your own. It's gorgeous! They are so much better than the original, very cheesy, covers:






Friday, April 9, 2010 11 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: Anywhere I Wander



Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

The closest book this week is The Best fake Book Ever, so my line this week is actually a lyric to the song Anywhere I Wander by Frank Loesser.


Anywhere I wander, anywhere I roam, till I'm in the arms of my darling again my heart will find no home.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 2 comments By: Suzanne

State of Fear: Audio

Contrived is not usually a word I use with Michael Crichton but State of Fear is exactly that. Crichton obviously had an agenda when he wrote this book and I feel his plot suffers because of it.

Several of his other works obviously started with the idea that "something is bad and we shouldn't do it, here's why" but they never felt as if they had an agenda. They were just the stories of what could happen if the science went wrong. Next, and  Jurrassic Park are good examples. State of Fear feels contrived and arrogant.

The story is told mainly from the point of view of lawyer, Peter Evans. Peter works for millionaire philanthropist, George Morton, who donates large sums to environmentalist causes, mainly in the organization National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF). As the story progresses we learn there are eco-terrorists plotting the biggest story ever. They want to make headlines and at the same time make it look as if it was caused by global warming. The hero of the book is international law enforcement agent, John Kenner, who is out to stop these terrorists.

The problem I have with the book is not that Crichton has a different point of view from mine on climate change (he doesn't believe that it is caused by people) but that he makes any character in his book with a different point of view seem like a moron. The only smart people in the book are the ones who know the "truth." That is, Michael Crichton's idea of what that truth is. He makes it seem as if every environmentalist is a stupid Hollwood, brainless idiot who doesn't know how to actually protect the environment. There are those in the world and I wish they would stop being the talking heads for the environmental movement, because they are morons. However, all environmentalists are not like that. 

The next problem I have with the book is that Peter is a whiny, irritating person who asks the dumbest questions. I want my main character to have a bit of one brain cell, please. Listening to this person makes me want to throw the discs out the window because I hate him.

Another problem I have with this book is related to that. Peter for some reason is always along when John Kenner is after the bad guy. Why? He knows nothing of what is going on and doesn't know how to stop these people. He has no information and no skill. In fact, when he goes on the first "mission" he is almost killed. Then, instead of staying home and healing from that, Kenner takes him along on the next "mission," where he is almost killed. But then he gets to on the next one too! It's just plain irritating. No government official is going to leave to fate of millions in the hands of this idiot time after time.

The last problem I have with this book is none of the main characters are ever killed, no matter what Crichton has to do to make them live through the most improbable situation. Give your readers some credit Crichton and let a character or two die. Maybe he'll read that from wherever he is now! hehehe

Crichton ends the book with George vowing to start a new kind of environmental organization, one that will "study the real problem and fix it" instead of relying on outmoded ideas of what the problem might be. I think that's a wonderful idea but it doesn't fit with the rest of the book at all. He spent all this time telling us that there is no problem we can fix, because we didn't cause it. The appendixes are filled with Crichton's notes on his studies leading up to writing this book. He admits he doesn't know the cause but then tries to convince the reader we are not at fault. You can't have it both ways, Michael. You can't know and not know.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

A Tale of Two Cities: Audio

For such a classic, I was surprised to learn how little I actually knew about Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. I've read Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield, yet for some reason never really even knew what this was about. I did know that at some point in the book, some man makes a great sacrifice because of a woman and states, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." However, I didn't know why or how that came about.

I can't really say anymore about this book than has been said numerous times in the past. I do know more about the French Revolution than I did before. I never realized that the blood thirsty revolutionaries didn't stop with the nobles. They continued to hang people for just the word of anyone that the person MIGHT be against the revolution. The "laws" that were in enacted during this time which would cause a person to go to the guillotine were ridiculous. At one point in the book a man calls to another, "How many today?" And the other man answers "38! It will be 39 tomorrow!" They are discussing how many will have their heads cut off. It is not a matter of actual guilt, it is a matter of putting heads under the knife, no matter their guilt or innocence. It makes me look at Napoleon in a better light. Jeez, someone had to stop it!

Although it got a very slow start, this book was wonderful and had me crying in my car while I drove home from work. Maybe not such a good thing! It also got me interested in history again. History of all kinds, not just the French Revolution. Wow, my knowledge in that area is horrid!
Monday, April 5, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

Leeway Cottage: Audio

Unfortunately this is another book that started out with a lot of promise but left me feeling kind of flat. Leeway Cotttage by Beth Gutcheon is the story of Sydney Brant and Laurus Moss. They are a young couple very much in love just before the start of WWII. Laurus is a Jewish Danish painter who meets the rich Dundee girl Sydney while studying in America. Shortly after their marriage, he goes to help the Danish Resistance, leaving his newly pregnant wife alone for four years. After his return, neither he nor Sydney are the same. Can they find their way back to each other? Or will they remain forever apart?

This could have been a wonderful book. It had all the makings of a wonderful book. But it didn't happen. Sydney is a spirited, mostly happy person who wants to make the world a better place. Her mother was hard on her but Sydney seems to have not let it affect her too much as she still wants to find  and give happiness. But when Laurus comes home after the war, she is a different person. So much more than can be accounted for just by her husband being gone while she works and takes care of their child. I kept expecting the big reveal to tell me what exactly happened to Sydney while Laurus was away but it never happened. There is never any explanation for why she changed so much into the biggest *B* that ever lived. Her story is almost completely lost during this time. We get to know what Laurus was up to, what his parents we doing to stay alive, we even know by the end of the book the horrible things that happen to his sister in a concentration camp but the main character in this book is Sydney and there is NEVER an explanation for the big change that comes over her. There is also a constant hint throughout the book that Sydney's mother may not really be her mother. However, this is never directly addressed, making the reader feel cheated. Even if we never know the true answer, it should at least be dealt with if the author is going to hint at it several times throughout.

I thought the book was written very well, all the plot lines woven in carefully without a seam to make you feel as if it was integral to book and not added just for the fun of it. But leaving out two such a vital pieces of information leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth for this book. I can't even recommend it.
Sunday, April 4, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

The Woods: Audio

The Woods by Harlan Coben is a mystery/thriller told (mostly) from the point of view of Paul Copeland. Twenty years ago, Paul lost his sister and three other teenagers to a serial killer in the woods near his summer camp. He has felt guilty for twenty years, feeling as if he should have been able to stop the murders since he was the counselor on duty that night. Now, as the prosecutor for Essex County, New Jersey, he has been called into a case that makes him question everything he knew about that night.

The story is told by Scott Brick, an obviously talented actor who makes up for the short comings of Coben's writing. While I enjoyed the plot, I felt some of the scenes were a but too contrived. He was just trying way too hard to make it work. For most of the book, we're following Paul and then out of the blue we get a peek from one of the other detectives, Paul's high school girlfriend, and a cop from New York. These all come at just the right moment to make you realize the truth but to continue to keep Paul in the dark. I felt there could have been a better way to progress the plot and still put Paul in danger in the end without giving away too much. Or, if Coben wanted a book told from several different points of view, then he should have given us a little in the beginning from each of those characters. Let us get to know their voices before the "big reveal." As it is, it feel very contrived.

Of course, I also have to take into account the fact that if I can figure out who the killer is long before the "big reveal" then I don't like mysteries. It's boring to wait for the characters to catch up to me. It kind of feels like the author has made his characters slightly stupid.

Overall, I did enjoy the plot and thought it was very well thought out, just poorly executed near the end.
Saturday, April 3, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

Saving Fish from Drowning: Audio

I am writing once more about the books I've been reading! I have been pretty bad about keeping up with my blog lately. However, I have been reading and I've listened to many audio books on my way to and from work. One of those I picked up was Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan. It's read by the author.

First I have to say, I'm not sure I like that. Every time I've listened to a book read by the author, I've been less than impressed. You would think the author knows how to interpret their characters better than anyone, but if that were true then they wouldn't be authors, they'd be actors. Often the author's reading is much more flat and told in one voice even when from different points of view. I've found this of authors who are good at writing from different character's view points and from those that aren't. Often actors will give each character a slightly different voice. They sometimes change it with inflection, sometimes with accent, and sometimes with pitch. When an author reads his own work, this is lost because they are often not good at that. Tan is no exception.

I also realized very quickly while listening to this book that I had read this before. It was years ago and long ago enough for me to forget most of the plot but close enough that it all sounded like deja vu as I listened.

It's a very well written book, told about 12 Americans who take a trip to the Himalayan foothills of China and cross the border into Burma. This is supposed to be a historic trip, as no foreigner as made the crossing where they will since Burma became Myanmar. Each and every step of the trip is planned well before their crossing but from the beginning things go wrong. First, their tour leader is mysteriously killed just days before they are to leave. The group decides they should go anyway and enlist the help of another tour leader, one who is not a take charge kind of person, leaving the group rudder-less in dangerous lands.

I enjoyed this book very much and thought Tan's writing, if not reading, was beautifully done. There is just the right mix of non-likeable, annoying characters to go with the ones who think they can make it alright to make this an often hilarious tale even when they are in the most danger. 

Friday, April 2, 2010 12 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: History!




Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

I have a good one this week! I love when this happens. It comes from A Christian History by Paul Johnson.

Who was this authority? The Church. What constituted the Church? The men who ran it.

Followers