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Showing posts from February, 2010

Review: ArchEnemy

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Spoiler alert: This is a review of the third book in The Looking Glass Wars series. By its nature, the review will reveal at least part of what happened in The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd. If you want the first two books to be a complete surprise, which is my personal preference, stop reading now and leave this page.

Wonderland is in trouble.  Homburg Molly has unwittingly assisted King Arch to disable Imagination throughout Wonderland — which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't also disable Queen Alyss' strengths.  The only comfort is that Redd is similarly disabled, so Alyss doesn't have to worry about that enemy.

Arch appears to be Alyss' enemy.  He also appears to have used Redd for all he thinks she's worth, and he's cast her aside (and not for the first time).  But is Arch working alone?

The caterpillar oracles are being maddeningly obtuse yet again — and breaking pretty much all tradition by speaking with those other than the ruling queen, includi…

Edible Books

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Cakes by Russian bakery Zhanna of St. Petersburg, Russia:

Check out more of these amazing totally edible works of art at English Russia.

Review: The Friday Night Knitting Club

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The Friday Night Knitting Club is about as chick-lit as you can get: a group of women share their lives and become friends over knitting needles. They laugh.  They cry.  They grow.  They change.  So, what's different about this novel?  Not a lot — however, in this case that's not a bad thing.  Sometimes, if the formula works, you need to just go with it.  Kate Jacobs did just that, and with great success.

I liked the story of The Friday Night Knitting Club.  It was the main character I didn't like, which made liking the novel that much harder.

Georgia is a modern woman, single mother and entrepreneur.  She owns a yarn boutique on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and lives in a two-bedroom apartment above it with her pre-teen daughter, Dakota. And she is a royal pain in the patoot.  She's a "tough" and "strong" woman because she keeps reminding herself of it, rather than letting her actions do so — which they wouldn't have.

She's not a real p…

Review: SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

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What happens after we die?  It's a question all of us, from time to time, have pondered.  Even if we have no answers, we can speculate.

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer, speculated through 40 different possible existences after death in SUM: Forty Tales of the Afterlives. He presents a series of unrelated snippets, each only a few pages in length, for readers to ponder.  The glimpses are brief, like a light that catches the eyes of a cat who freezes, eyes shining, before dashing away into the darkness of the empty field.

Not all of the ponderings are successful.  I began reading a couple to my husband David, who stopped me to ask, "Wasn't that a Twilight Zone episode?"  Honestly, David wasn't too far off.  The spirit was the same, though I would liken it to Night Gallery.  Those are the bizarre ones, seemingly tossed into the pack, almost as if he was padding the book to make forty.

Eagleman's speculates on deities are among his weakest stories.  T…

Chris' Fill in the Gaps Top 100 List — Final!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: my fill-in-the-gaps book list.

The list is arranged alphabetically by author and will be read in no particular order.  I will offer a review or response as I read the books.

Now, I am not going to carve these into stones.  I give myself permission to adjust over the years.
What do you think?  Have I chosen books you love?  Did I miss one of your favorites?  Let me know!

Chris' Fill in the Gaps Book List

Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
Foundation Isaac Asimov
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
Sundays With Vlad Paul Bibeau The Lost Symbol Dan Brown The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck A Little Princess Frances Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
Cold Sassy Tree Olive Ann Burns The Land that Time Forgot Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tobacco Road Erskine Caldwell The Plague Albert Camus
Ender's Game Orson Scott Card
Death Comes for the Archbishop

Books on the Horizon: Yann Martel Back in April

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Fans of Life of Pi can mark their calendars: Yann Martel is at it again.  The gifted author will return in the spring with a new book: Beatrice and Virgil.

Random House of Canada has announced the publishing date of April 6 in Canada and to the rest of the world April 13.

I have a lot of reading to do to clear my plate for this next offering by Martel.  I first encountered Life of Pi while I was studying French.  The semester was halfway done and I took a short break by picking up some books to read as a treat at the end of the semester. I skimmed the first few pages of Life of Pi to see if I would be interested.

I was so intrigued that I had to hide the novel until after the semester was over so I could concentrate on the task at hand.  The wait was more than worth it and I consider it one of my favorite reads of the decade.

I must say, however, I am disappointed with the cover art shown above.  The artwork is a lovely design and exquisitely balanced and harkens back to the cover on

Review: Shades of Grey

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"I like to take a very improbable situation and make it real, " Jasper Fforde said recently, in way of introduction to Shades of Grey, his latest novel.  And truly, what can be more improbable than a word devoid of color?

Well, after listening to the author, it's not totally out of the realm of explanation.  "Visual color," he explained patiently, "doesn't exist.  It is a product of the mind alone.  When you see a spectacular sunset.... reserve part of the praise for yourself."

So he imagined a world half a millenia in the future that was very tightly structured in which human beings saw only one color — and that ability alone determined their role and position in the world.  It's a world very much like English boarding school, complete with the early bird getting the bacon and bullying on the cricket field.

"It's a bizarre world, but highly practical," he noted.  And based on his literary vision, I must agree.

Fforde is one of …