Monday, September 29, 2008

A classic

Most likely you've heard that Paul Newman has died. When I was younger, I watched tons of old movies (yay AMC). One movie I always liked was A New Kind of Love, starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Later when I learned they had married (and had stayed married!), it just made me happy.

Basically Paul was an ideal hottie: good-looking but with character (after all, looks fade). I admire his philanthropy and his commitment to his wife (that's her in the photo). He is definitely a classic in my book.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Thank you Lynn Austin for restoring my belief that Christian fiction can be quality. Your book, A Proper Pursuit, was actually well-written, interesting and told a good story. How refreshing.

Perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic but I haven't had much luck lately in finding a Christian novel that I like. Either the characters are all "oooh, God doesn't love me" (okay, yes, He does! Read the Bible--He loves you beyond fathoming.) or the book isn't well-written. So...I've been a bit discouraged of finding a Christian novel that wasn't pure cheese or just crap. This is why Lynn Austin has made me happy!

The story centers on the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. Violet Hayes, who has been sheltered and brought up a proper lady, finds her world rocked when her father announces his engagement to a stuffy older woman. Then Violet learns her mother isn't dead--her parents are just divorced.

Violet finagles her way to Chicago, where she learns her mother is living. She lives her grandmother and her great-aunts, all of whom have plans of their own for Violet's future. Each woman has a different man in mind for Violet, but Violet eventually learns what love really is and that true love is found in God.

The story was decently paced and interesting. Violet was a likeable, funny character. Nonchristians won't find this book overbearing in the least either, which is perhaps why I liked it. The book is Violet's story of a summer that changed her forever.

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Couldn't believe the looooove

In my quest to read Elizabeth Peters' backlist, I picked up Copenhagen Connection at the library this week. I must say this one isn't her best work.

First of all, I hate this book's cover. My own copy has an awesome early 1980s one, with fireworks and a couple running on it. While pigs do play a tiny role in the book, I just don't get this cover. Pigs--tulips--a statute?! Weird.

Anyway, here's the plot: American Elizabeth Jones is taking a vacation to Copenhagen. While on the airplane, she meets her hero: Noble-prize winning historian Margaret Rosenberg. A random accident leads to Elizabeth becoming Margaret's secretary. Oh, and by the way, Margaret's son is tagging along--he's handsome but a major stick-in-the-mud. Margaret gets kidnapped and the two are forced to work together to rescue her. They end up in love and experience danger, etc. It's a fairly typical Peters plot--fun, action-packed, plenty of humor.

Christian (the stick-in-the-mud guy) and Elizabeth supposedly fall in love. I just could not believe it. If it was reality, Christian would have thought Elizabeth was stupid and been terribly annoyed by her. As heroines go, Elizabeth isn't bad; Christian is just so serious. In fairness, he does loosen up as the book goes on, but there just isn't much romance and I can't belive they would actually fall in love.

Also, Christian calls his mother "Margaret"--never Mom, etc. Elizabeth never seemed to think that was weird, either. I thought it was odd.

All in all, it wasn't her best but it's still a fun, no thinking required sort of read.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A reviewer I like

Every now and then I stumble across a reviewer I really like. Sometimes it's a book blog; sometimes it's a random column. Today I happened to click on a library link's to Pearl's Picks (aired on NPR) aka book recommendations by Nancy Pearl. Evidently Pearl is a librarian and author.

Her fiction choices aren't necessarily new books--but the reviews are always thoughtful and compelling. It doesn't hurt that she's chosen quite a few books that I really like or that have been on my TBR list for awhile. She may have convinced me to go ahead and move a few of those choices up on my list.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just the sort

Today I finished a YA novel, Boston Jane: An Adventure by Jennifer Holm. It's the sort of book my 11-year-old self would have eaten up (and ok, my 20-something-year-old self ate up, too).

Jane is a tomboy living in the 1840s in the New England area. (She's not actually from Boston, but her nickname is appropriate, as the book shows.) Her father surgeon takes on an apprentice that a young Jane falls in love with instantly. Jane ends up going to a young ladies school, inspired to be a lady worthy of the apprentice, William. However, William leaves to make his fortune in the Pacific Northwest. Jane eventually ends up sailing to the wilds of Washington, where William was supposed to be waiting for her--but isn't. She has all sorts adventures while waiting for William to show up. She is befriended by Native Americans, learns how to barter, collects oysters, makes pies, sews and fends off a few suitors. Jane is a fun heroine who learns throughout the book how to be true to herself and what's right.

I adore pioneer fiction and while this isn't exactly Out West Pioneer fiction, it's close--more like Pacific Northwest Pioneer fiction. It kind of reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, which was basically what I desired my life to be when I was 11.

There's a few more books in the series, so here's hoping for a little more romance and more adventure...

Rating: 8/10

In celebration

My Hottie Monday pick has been in two things that I love: Chuck and She's the Man. Admittedly, She's the Man is a dumb teen movie but it makes me laugh so hard that I've cried. I've seen the movie twice and have cried with laughter twice (and at the stupidest's the part when the sprinkler guy shows up...I could laugh right now if I think about it too much). Also, I have to celebrate that Chuck will be on next week. Yay!

Anyway, Jonathan Sadowski has had smallish roles in both but his face is so distinctive and chiseled. And I liked him in both shows. (He's the one on the right. I wasn't in the mood to crop the photo. Also, Amanda Bynes is a rather interesting looking guy, isn't she? Do yourself a favor and watch that movie.)

Happy Hottie Monday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I guess you're off the hook, Sally

Thankfully, The Red Necklace did not end in everyone dying. So, thank you Sally Gardner for not ruining my Friday.

I'm torn about this cover. I like it but the hair is so fake blonde. It's even more platinum blonde in real life. It reminds me of a white trash girl--probably not the image the designers were hoping to invoke.

Here's a short summary: Teen boy is a magical gypsy. He meets a bourgeouis girl and they immediately fall in love (or at least know that they will fall in love). An evil villian tries to take the girl for his own--and her money. Boy goes off to France to save the girl and drama ensues. There may also be a dwarf involved.

The story is a great YA read. I liked the book but I have no desire to read it again. The ending set up a sequel nicely, which maybe I'll read--but probably not.

Rating: 7.5/10

Haikus everywhere

I randomly stumbled across two blogs today with haiku contests: Fyrefly's Book Blog and bookshelves of doom. How bizarre is that? Of course I entered both...if you're feeling creative, you should, too!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I will not be happy

I'm currently reading The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner and all I'm saying is that there better be a happy ending. (You hear me, Sally? Please don't make me sad and upset with a depressing ending.) The main character has already been warned of possible death and there seems to be a good chance the love story won't work out (aka somebody's going to die...and since it's set during the French Revolution, they'll probably be guillotined). If that's the ending, what a great start to the weekend. Here's hoping for survival and love....

Monday, September 15, 2008

I know, I know...

This is pathetic but I'm tired and can't think of any hotties I want to feature. I'll try to think of one by next week!


I've been wanting to read Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells for awhile now but it has been mysteriously missing. The catalog claimed it was available but for weeks it wasn't on the shelf. Well, the library gnome must have returned the book to its rightful spot because it was finally on the shelf Saturday!

Whoever designs Allen's book covers is so talented--they're simply works of art. (And what a pretty cover font!)

The story is about two sisters, Claire and Sydney Waverly. Each girl has a special gift--Claire's gift of gardening is basically her life. (I can't tell you about Sydney's.) The women deal with their past and their future, while weaving in plenty of magic realism. There's also romance. The story reminded me a bit of Paula Wall's The Rock Orchard (another Southern magic realism book).

This story is darker than Allen's The Sugar Queen. Sydney's past is uglier and her problems more real than Josey's. While I do prefer The Sugar Queen, I thoroughly liked this book. I'm a sucker for Southern lit and magic realism--mixed together, I was a goner.

Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall is here

Well, fall is almost here. Today Hurricaine Ike hit Northern Ohio, making the weather wet and warm. But I know fall is coming! After reading Deanna Raybourn's Blog A Go-Go post where she talked about her perfect read for fall, I had to imitate her. Her pick for fall is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Now that I've read it, I have to agree.

From delicious autumn feasts to the very essence of a New England fall, this is definitely a book for September through November. It's a VERY short read. It's also filled with subtle humor and like I said, great atmosphere. Now, time to find more fall reads...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I was wrong

For over a year I had debated whether to read Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. It sounded like a book I'd like--set in Regency England, was recommended by Amazon for me, it's a YA book, etc. However, the negatives kept me away--it's written in letter format (I really don't care for that style), has witches (I don't like witches or Satanic-related activity), it's written in letter format and lastly, it's written in letter format. I'm glad I finally broke down (aka couldn't find any other book I wanted to read at the library) and read Sorcery and Cecelia because it was adorable and the letter writing style didn't bother me at all!

The tale is set in Regency England and is a series of letters exchanged between two cousins, Cecelia and Kate. Cecelia is home in the country while Kate is off in London having her first Season. The girls both accidentally stumble into a dastardly plot involving magic (and a Marquis and a not-so-stealthy spy). It was just a happy and adorable book! The letters weren't annoying at all--they featured only interesting details and weren't so freakin' long that it'd be impossible to actually write (cf. Pamela). It's a rare book that can make me like letter/diary novel. (Bridget Jones is another example of a diary book that I actually liked.)

Sorcery and Cecelia was one of those wonderful books where everything happened that I wanted but nothing was forced. I loved the two romantic leads in the book...and the romances themselves were adorable and developed so satisfyingly. I liked all the characters, the settings, the me a favor and go read it!

Rating: 10/10

Monday, September 8, 2008


Okay, so I orginally posted my Hottie Monday on Monday but I then realized that "Hysteria"--the video I had posted--didn't really even feature Matthew Bellamy, the sexy lead singer.'s a photo instead. (But really, he's better looking when he's singing...and his voice...mmm.)

Chess and such

My brother had bought Joanne Harris' Gentleman and Players from a used bookstore. I was curious about Harris' writing style so after he read it, I read it.

I love this cover. It's so British and refined and pretty. I love that arched light, too.

The story is basically this: Julian Pinchbeck (a pseudonym) plots revenge against a prep school, St. Oswald's. An incident long ago began his feud with the school and Julian has been plotting its downfall ever since. The story is split into modern day and past events, with Julian and a teacher at St. Oswald acting as narrators.

The story brilliantly reflects a chess game, with strategy oozing off the pages. While Julian's actions are despictable, they're also fascinating to watch unfold.

My brother told me too much about the end and sort of ruined it, so I won't do the same to you. All I'll say is that there is an interesting ending.

On another note, this isn't a criticism of the book but rather, its publishers. My book was MISSING PAGES. The pages weren't torn out; they were simply missing. This happened at least three times. I don't think the pages were critical in the long run, but sheesh, if I read a book, I want to read all of it. So, do I recycle the book so no one else has to feel my pain or inflict my suffering on someone else? Hmm....

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I've started my new job and haven't had much time to read... I've been rereading Mary Stewart's My Brother Michael. I had read it before but didn't remember much about it. When I was going through my Mary Stewart phase, I read that book and The Gabriel Hounds back-to-back--then I had trouble remembering what happened in what book.

I should be all good now!

Monday, September 1, 2008

"You should marry a guy like Chuck"

My dad and I were watching Chuck last year and randomly my dad turns to me and says, "You should marry a guy like Chuck." Well, that's not a bad idea. I really like the show and the character. And I'm really looking forward to the new season starting since Burn Notice has TWO episodes left (whatever USA Network; just toy with my heart and then break it).

Today's hottie is Zachary Levi, the star of Chuck. He's a cutie.

On another note, he reminds me of John Krasinski. You see it too, don't you?

What an invitation

At a garage sale this weekend, I hit one awesome sale--the lady just wanted to get rid of everything. I was able to get four books for 25 cents! Bling bling. I actually ended up getting six books for my church's library and two for myself. One book I picked up was a Nancy Drew mystery: The Twin Dilemma. The book isn't part of the original series; it's actually part of the later "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories." Twin Dilemma was written in 1981 and the series evidently went up through the 2000s.

But the cover lured me in. Its tagline read: "Nancy receives an engraved invitation to danger." How could I resist? An ENGRAVED invitation to danger???? How exciting!

Unfortunately, there were no invitations anywhere in the book, other than vocal ones. Booo to misleading cover descriptions. And how disappointing that there was no engraving anywhere.

Basically the plot is this: Nancy, Bess and George go to visit Nancy's Aunt Eloise in New York City, who has to be the worst aunt ever. She lets the girls go wherever and do whatever they want--alone!--in freakin' NYC. The girls are only 18! Auntie E never makes them check in--at one point, the girls are trapped in a BURNING BUILDING and have a narrow escape but when they get home, Aunt Eloise is asleep. They wait until morning to tell her what happened. Her response? "Oh, you'd better call your father and tell him your adventure." Another time, Bess and George leave a party with two random guys who end up being bad guys. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, the book features about four different mysteries, somehow loosely tied together. There was something about a missing model, then a kidnapped reporter, then missing clothing, lying people, illegal imports, conniving employees and other connections I don't understand. This is kind of embarrassing, but it was too taxing to figure it all out and remember who all the random people were, so I gave up. I'm still not sure what happened. (This might be a good time to mention that I have a B.A. in English and a master's degree in library I am literate. Still, that Nancy Drew was too much for me.)

Let's not even go into the believability aspects of the parts I did understand. A top designer let Nancy model, gave her sketches of his designs and let her wear his dresses to random parties. Whatever. Not even Nancy Drew could finagle that.

To be honest, I'm going to recycle this book. No one should ever read it--I love the original Nancy Drew books, but this was just pure trash that didn't make sense. On the plus side, it was entertaining at times.

Rating: 3/10