Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I talked with a co-worker today who has never read any of the Harry Potter books. (gasp) She told me that Harry Potter must die in this book because that is the only way that there won't be any sequels. I just smiled mysteriously and moved on. That's right, I don't believe in spoilers and she may read it someday. So what can I say about this book without giving anything away. Oh, there's lots. Let's start with what I didn't care for:
1. Two years between reading Book 6 and this one is way too long. I've forgotten all.
2. The pictures in this book look a lot more like Daniel Radcliffe than they did in Book 1. Don't get me wrong, I like Daniel Radcliffe, but still.
3. The wonder, enchantment and charm that hooked me in the first books isn't nearly as intense. The last few of the series are darker and appeal more to older teens than younger. Let's face it, I'm still a kid at heart.
4. Ron's whining. I know it was appropriate behavior for a 17-year-old under the circumstances, but I've always found his whining annoying. He does step it up more in this book when he quits whining and that was impressive.
5. Why aren't the U.S. book covers as neat as the ones in the UK?
I find these to be very minor complaints, just barely worth mentioning. Please don't let them stop you from reading a great book. So what did I like?
1. Harry's a babe. What else can I say?
2. The Weasley twins are hilarious.
3. The answer to several things that had puzzled me throughout the series. It's nice that my guesses were right several times.
4. The suspense was pretty intense and Rowling built it up very well. She really does spin a fantastic yarn. Although, there was some predictability with the ending, there were still enough surprises to keep things interesting. While Rowling has a great marketing machine who really built up this book, I was not disappointed in the least.
5. This book really is a great finale to the series. All the details are wrapped up and you even get to learn more about wizardry and it's history.
6. Vold . . . whoops, He Who Can't Be Named is one of the great villains of all times.
My overall feeling is one of sadness that the story is over. I enjoyed anticipating the next installment. I've read the first book a couple of times and still felt wonder at the creativity of the story, so I hope when I visit Hogwarts again, that wonder will still come through. I fully intend to read the whole series again from start to finish. And, of course, there's always the movies.
Rating: 4.75

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
This is the first time I've reviewed a book that I listened to on CD. And I have mixed feelings about it. First of all, I loved listening to Stephen Briggs' narration. He has a lovely English accent and it was easy to know which character was speaking at any given time. When the Nac Mac Feegles(small blue pictsies) speak with their Scottish burr, I was enchanted. Truly, when Rob Anybody, the leader of the Feegles, describes the letters he has just learned to draw (the R is a walking fat man while the P is a standing fat man) I laughed so hard. It was a imaginative and well-told tale of a young girl who leaves home to begin her witch's training and is stalked by an invisible and menacing creature. (A hiver, I think) So there was much humor and suspense, the fantasy was great, the Feegles delightful. Listening to the CD on the trip to Salt Lake and back was just right. Still, I couldn't mark any passages I particularly enjoyed and I'm not sure if I'm spelling everything right. And there was one CD left when I reached home. I listened to it while reading e-mails and blogs but I feel the story was one CD too long. I really couldn't get into that ending. I recently purchased an IPod Shuffle so I could listen to books on CD while walking. Hopefully, I will be able to enjoy the stores while getting much needed exercise. There's the possibility that I will walk myself into oblivion while listening to a really good story. I think I will look into more Pratchett stories for that purpose, although reading them now will always include the rolling R's of the Nac Mac Feegles. Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 5:22 PM

Booklogged said...
Our library doesn't have any adult Pratchett books. Maybe if you ILL one and I do, we can exchange them before returning them to the library. I really enjoy Pratchett.


The Enchanted Castle by E Nesbitt

Sunday, June 24, 2007

by E Nesbitt
Edith Nesbitt mastered the art of writing captivating children's books. This book is my second of hers and thoroughly enjoyable. Cathy and her brothers, Jerry and Jimmy, find themselves spending the holidays at Cathy's school. While exploring one day, they come upon a sleeping princess who turns out to be a young girl named Mabel. Mabel is the niece of the housekeeper of the enchanted castle. The four children find a magic ring which leads to all kinds of imaginative adventures. The children experience invisibility, becoming rich, statutes coming alive in the moonlight, and rag and stick people who come to live. I love how the four children follow the rules of polite society of the 1900's. They are so young and so proper. This is truly an enchanting tale that will delight children and adults alike.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 6:47 PM

Cassie said...
That sounds interesting. I have to borrow that one from you someday.
6/25/2007 9:59 AM
Carrie K said...
I used to love Edith Nesbitt's books! Now I must go reread some of them.
6/27/2007 1:22 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
That sounds so good -- out comes my TBR list again!


Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith

Sunday, June 24, 2007

3rd Summer Mystery Reading Challenge
by Steve Hockensmith
"Holmes on the Range" is Hockensmith's first novel although he has written a number of short mystery stories. In this novel, two brothers, Otis and Gustav Amlingmeyer, better known as Big Red and Old Red, are out-of-work cowboys. Big Red has learned to read and entertains his brother by reading Sherlock Holmes stories from magazines. Old Red is completely caught up by the idea of detecting. The two find employment at the Bar VR Ranch which soon turns up two dead bodies. Old Red leaps at the opportunity to solve the case. Big Red drags along in his footsteps. The story includes an evil ranch foreman and his son, an albino black man, Enligh noblefolk and an escaped convict named Hungry Bob. Big Red narrates the story with Western colloquilalisms intended to be humorous. I found it a touch annoying and most of the humor was a bit too coarse for my taste. Still, Big Red's hero worship of Sherlock Holmes was funny and the mystery itself, interesting.
Rating: 3


Extreme Measures by Michael Palmer

Monday, June 18, 2007

2nd Medical Mystery Challenge and SMRC
I had a hard time getting into this book as the first couple of chapters skip around setting up a storyline around people mysteriously disappearing. But they are derelicts, so who cares? Then we are introduced to Dr. Eric Najarian, an ER doctor who is in line for a big promotion. The night before the decision is announced, Eric receives a mysterious phone call inviting him to join a group called Caduceus that will ask him to perform certain procedures at the hospital in return for hi receiving the promotion. As a dedicated doctor who has worked his entire career for this big chance, Eric is torn. Then he meets Laura Ender who is searching for her brother, Scott. Eric soon realizes that Scott may be the indigent person he pronounced dead a few months earlier; and, because he feels guilty over his care of that patient, he helps Laura with her search. These two soon develop romantic feelings amid all the chaos and sinister experiences created by their search. I found that romance to be forced a little too quickly considering all that happens but they are very sympathetic strong characters so I got over that. The suspense is very real, although there seemed to be a bit too much going on. The novel plays up to a very real fear of trusting doctors too much. Some of the caregivers in this novel develop a type of God complex by playing with the lives of their patients to conduct experiments in order to develop a new drug that will make them richer than Croesus. Most of the action takes place in Boston, which I have visited and enjoyed reading about, but also it involves a ghost town in the deserts of Utah, near Moab. I have visited that area as well and it is pretty desolate. I understand the book has been made into a movie starring Hugh Grant whom I adore. I can't picture him as Dr. Narjarian so I'll just have to watch it and see how he does. All in all, this was a good choice for a medical mystery, involving doctors, hospitals, and medicine. Palmer uses his own medical training and experience to create a very chilling scenario.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 6:48 AM

Joy said...
I read this when it first came out or close to anyway. I don't know what I would think of it now, but at the time I thought it was fantastic. :) Now, I have read almost all of his books. Some are better than others, but I enjoy them. I see it like this: John Grisham is to law like Michael Palmer is to medicine. You gave it a 4, so that's very good! :)
6/18/2007 8:19 AM
SuziQoregon said...
I've never read any of Michael Palmer's books. If you liked it, I need to put it on my TBR list :-)
6/19/2007 8:24 PM
Booklogged said...
Boston and Moab? And interesting combination. Sounds like a good mystery. I've read a few by Palmer and I think I enjoyed them. Darn this memory. It's been awhile since I read them.
6/21/2007 2:27 PM
twiga92 said...
It's been a long time since I read this, but when you mentioned Utah I remembered that part. Kind of desolate area? I love Palmer's books. They're usually quick reads too.


Come Back to Afghanistan by Said Ryder Akbar

Thursday, June 14, 2007

4th Non-Fiction Five Challenge

By Said Hyder Akbar
and Susan Burton
Said Hyder Akbar was born in Pakistan after his family fled Afghanistan when it was invaded by the Russians. The family eventually ends up near San Francisco, where Hyder grows up as an ordinary American teenager. 9/11 changes all that. Hyder's father decides to go back to his native country to help rebuild after the Taliban has been ousted by the Americans. Hyder wants to spend the summer there observing. This book chronicles Hyder's experiences that summer and the following two summers. The first summer the father, Said Fazel Akbar, is appointed to be the presidential spokesman who deals with all the reporters. I love how Hyder describes his first summer in Kabul:
"In the days since, I've been here in the hotel room a lot. My father leaves for meetings, and I sit inside, the traffice sounds from the street rising up through the open window. I count the bugs flying around the room (fifteen) and my mosquito bites (seven on my left arm, four on my right), all the while doing my best to dismiss a nagging feeling that I should have taken a malaria shot. I'm having a hard time sleeping at night--my father snores--and my eyeballs ache with fatigue. There's nothing to do except listen to music on my Discman or on a radio station that seems to cater to the German peacekeeping troops (Nine-ty-nine red balloons . . .) I pine for standard forms of entertainment the way someone in a teen movie might pine for love. Even if I just had the Internet or something, I despair. I can't even go out for a snack, since everything makes me sick, including French fries."
Doesn't he sound like a typical teenager? He spends a considerable amount of time being sick, described with the verve of any young man. I guess each summer requires a new adjustment to the Afghan cuisine. Things don't remain mundane for long as he finds himself immersed in the the political growth of a developing nation. Hyder writes uncommonly well for someone so young, (I'm sure the ghostwriter helped), but he conveys the difficulties of the country so well because he knows how to write for the American public and he so obviously cares for the Afghans. Here are some other quotes that I hope capture the feeling of this book:
"After a couple of months of comfort, I actually miss Kabul's volatility. Life there was just more interesting, I think. Then there's the corollary: There I was more interesting. And the tone of the place: Over there, people are so simple, more real. When I begin having thoughts like these, I know I've already been away too long. When you starting idealizing Afghanistan, it's time to go back."
"My conversaation with Khalilzad (U S special envoy to Afghanistan) was recorded with a layer of static over it. It will be impossible to broadcast on the radio. You have to reach down through a layer of fuzz to get to the words. In a way, it's a metaphor for my own experience doing these interviews; though I asked the questsions, the answer remain obscure. I can't figure it out; can't determine why the superheroes are always losing, and the bad guys always getting power, and winning in the end." (Here he is referring to the Afghan leaders who want to rebuild the country versus the warlords who just want to retain their power.)
"Oddly, it's the slack--the downtime--that I dislike. The prospect of another ambush doesn't terrify me; being cooped up in the compound does. Everyday life is the hardest thing here, especially after coming from America, where boredom is viewed as an actual injustice."
"There's something we call sher swayee in Afghanistan: riding the lion. The story behind the phrase goes like this. The lion is sleeping. A daring person sits atop the silent creature. Then the lion wakes up, and the person is caught unawares. Now he is riding the fierce animal, and he doesn't know how to get off. A lot of people compare trying to rule Afghanistan to riding the lion. While Afghanistan is sleeping, it's easy to sneak in; it's trying to get out that's the problem. My father, Karzai (the president), the Americans--they are all riding the lion. And then, there's me. Even in my room in California, I feel like I am astride that same golden beast, my hands tangled in its long mane."
Because of his father's position, first with the central government and later as the governor of the province of Kunar, Hyder is in a unique position to witness many historical events, meet the movers and shakers of the country as well as relay much of the culture and feel of the country. He thrills when he is taught to shoot an AK, interprets during an interrogation for the US army, (the prisoner dies and the interrogator, Dave Passaro, is later charged, after the abuses at Abu Ghraib, for the beating death of that prisoner.), conducts radio interviews with dignitaries and average Afghans that are later broadcast in the States, lives through rocket attacks, hikes over the mountains to Pakistan with an infected toe, and, of course, endures sometimes violent reactions to the food he eats. This book is an insightful glimpse into a country that we hear too little about.
Rating: 4.5
Booklogged said...
Talk about culture shock. This sounds so interesting - such personal, in-your-face experiences told by a candid teen.One question - WHEN am I going to find the time to read this? Oh right, next summer for the Non-Fiction challenge. Whew!
6/15/2007 1:05 AM
sage said...
This book sounds interesting, thanks for the review.


Amnesia by G H Ephron

Friday, June 08, 2007

By G H Ephron
I found this book while looking for possibilities for the Medical Mystery Challenge. It turns out that G H Ephron is actually two people: Hallie Ephron, a writer, and A A Greeley, a neuropsychologist. They make a great team for this is a very enjoyable mystery. Good news--there are several more in the series.
Dr. Peter Zak tries to continue with his life by working hard as a behaviorial pshychologist and obsessively rowing in the Charles River after his wife is murdered in their home while he is making tea in the kitchen. His guilt at not saving Kate darkens his life and causes him to give up forensic psychology for two years. The the case of Sylvia Jackson pulls him back in. Sylvia was shot in the head and left for dead after witnessing the brutal murder of her boyfriend. Waking from a coma of six weeks, she remembers nothing for about three months, then suddenly she accuses her ex-husband of the deed. Peter agrees to test her to determine if her memories are valid under the circumstances. While I didn't care for Sylvia or her ex-husband, Stuart; I found Peter Zak to be a fascinating character along with his colleagues and his eccentric mother. This is a well-written mystery with interesting tidbits about mental illness, Peter's very believable grief, a great plot with an intriguing twist and a suspenseful ending. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book and plan to read the others.
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 8:54 PM

Literary Feline said...
Good news indeed! This is one that's been on my TBR shelf for what seems like forever and I was considering whether to read it for this challenge. I am so glad you enjoyed it.
6/08/2007 10:37 PM
Joy said...
Ewww, this sounds like something I would like! I'll have to check it out. Thanks!
6/09/2007 5:26 AM
SuziQoregon said...
Oh cool! I'm always open for a new mystery series!! I'm putting this one on the possibilities list!!
6/09/2007 8:10 AM
Lynne said...
Sounds interesting. I've never heard of this book before.
6/09/2007 12:51 PM
booklogged said...
Hooray for mysteries! I think co-authoring a book would be harder than writing one on your own. Are you going to bookmooch this book? Have you started bookmooching yet. I remember you mentioning it.
6/09/2007 4:50 PM
Framed said...
Booklogged, I checked this one out at the library so you can find it there.
6/10/2007 8:37 AM
twiga92 said...
Interesting. The name Peter Zak sounds familiar so I may have read about this book before. I'm such a sucker for series books!
6/13/2007 5:03 AM
Bookfool said...
I've never heard of this author or series, but it sounds like my kind of book. Thanks!


Trinity by Leon Uris

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

by Leon Uris
Tis a grand tale, it is, this story of the downtrodden of Ireland and the first risings of the Irish Republican Army. But mostly, it is the story of Conor Larkin. In a post of my "Life's a Picture" blog, I described him thusly: "Conor Larkin is one of the most romantic male characters I've ever read. I think I fell in love with him when I read this in my early 20's." I love this passage where he declares his love to Shelley: "Did I ever tell you how glad I am to have made your acquaintance, lady? I've walked through the crowds of crowds all my life. I've seen the faces of the women in the church and heard the listless priests intone. I've seen the men come down from the fields and be felled to their knees at the angelus. I've seen the hard cities. And all the time I looked past sterile eyes into sterile hearts. Then one time I looked and it ws different than all the other times and I told myself I'd have to be the worst kind of fool to recognize something had happened and not do something about it. "
Tears moistened in her eye. "Of all the luck," she whispered, "finding myself a bard. You people have a way with words."
"Aye, we're a canny and clever lot, for words is all we've had. But they're only your own thoughts coming back to you. You make me say things I no longer care to hide and I have no fear of hearing my own voice saying them.
Seamus O'Neill, Conor's lifelong friend, narrates most of the book, using just the right touch of Irish whimsy; "Ah, it was a grand wake, a grand wake, indeed. Had he not been dead, Kilty would have been the proudest man alive and surely he was making an impression on St. Peter and all the angels for having so many darling friends."
Conor symbolizes the entire Irish struggle through his own struggles with wanting peace and love in his life, but unable to reconcile those desires with the nationalist conflict inside himself: "Even as it had stripped us of our manhood, destroyed our dreams and dispersed our seed, fear of the famine lingered on like a mighty black cloud into a second generation. I saw the Irish people broken, shorn of the will to protest, obedient, subjected, semi-comics. I wanted to grab them by the thropple and shake them and scream for them to be men but they were dogs. They played dogs' games, yapping false courage, courage they did not possess. Dogs content to scrounge their fields for scraps and send their children off to the city as beggars. Don't educate, don't strive, don't anger. Live in foggy visions. I became so broken with frustration I did what I swore would never happen. I was driven out of Ireland. Ah, not by the British but the apathy of our own people."
Since the book was written shortly after the increase in hostilities in Northern Ireland in 1969, this is a fitting epilogue: "When all this was done, a republic eventually came to pass, but the sorrows and the troubles have never left that tragic, lovely land. For you see, in Ireland there is no future, only the past happening over and over."
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 7:42 PM

Cassie said...
Sounds interesting. I really like Leon Uris. I think this would be fun to read while trying to keep an Irish accent in your head all the time.
6/06/2007 8:43 AM
booklogged said...
Love your review with the Irish accent. I've often found when reading a book that I think in that accent for awhile. I need to read a Leon Uris book someday. You've recommended him to me before.
6/06/2007 2:41 PM
booklogged said...
BTW, did you count this for the chunkster challenge? It is a pretty hefty book, isn't it?
6/06/2007 2:41 PM
Framed said...
I read much of the dialog with an Irish accent, at least I think it was. Uris wrote some great books besides Triity: Exodus and Battle Cry are two that come to mind.I didn't count this as a chunkster because I finished that challenge quite a while ago. But it was over 700 pages.
6/06/2007 8:21 PM
SuziQoregon said...
This is another one of those that every once in a while I've 'ALMOST' bought. Your review makes me want to get it onto the shopping list.
6/06/2007 8:52 PM
Literary Feline said...
I haven't yet read a book by Leon Uris, but this one does sound like it would be good. I sighed too after that first excerpt you quoted.
6/08/2007 9:59 PM
Carrie K. said...
This is one of my favorite books of all time - and Conor Lark was my first "book crush" when I read this in high school. I re-read it last year, and will probably revisit it again. There is a sequel called Redemption, but it is not nearly as good.
6/09/2007 12:30 PM
Lynne said...
OK, I want this book! I love things Irish and this sounds terrific. Thanks for the review.
6/09/2007 12:51 PM
Bookfool said...
That last quote is so true and fitting, I agree. Thanks for an excellent review. Yet another one goes on the wish list.


Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Friday, June 01, 2007

by Sharon Creech
Lately, I've been reading books that seem quite disappointing at first but sneak up on you when you least suspect it. "Walk Two Moons" was just that way for me. Sal, a thirteen-year-old, tells of her frustration with life as her father moves the two of them to Ohio because he can no longer deal with the sad memories of their home in Bybanks, Kentucky after his wife and Sal's mother leaves them. On a trip to see her mother with her grandparents, Sal shares the stories of her friend, Phoebe, an odd girl who becomes her friend in Ohio. Sometime, along the trail of this road trip, I became immersed in this lovely tale about loss, coming of age, the quality of friendship, and the importance of family. Phoebe is so anal-retentive, it's hilarious. Then, there's Ben, a boy in Sal's class who keeps trying to kiss her but keeps missing. So cute. I can certainly understand why this book won a Newberry Award as it has several meaningful messages for pre-teens. "Walk Two Moons" was recommended to me by a friend who teaches kids in custody at the detention center. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 6:46 PM

booklogged said...
One I need to read. You make it sound pretty darn good.
6/02/2007 12:31 AM
Joy said...
Hi! Oh good you liked it. I have this on my list of Newbery books I want to read. I'm just not sure if I'm going to sign up for any challenges. We'll see. Needless to say, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
6/02/2007 5:28 AM
tanabata said...
I loved this when I read it a couple of years ago!
6/02/2007 8:15 AM
sally906 said...
I have this on my list to read for this challenge - liked the blurb and looks like your review makes it good choice :)
6/02/2007 9:30 PM
Petunia said...
I haven't read it and it didn't make it onto my Newbery Challenge list but it will likely be read before the challenge is over. Thanks for the inticing review.
6/05/2007 10:37 AM
Bookfool said...
I'm pretty sure we have a copy of this, but I've yet to read it. So glad to hear you enjoyed it. I think Newbery books are consistently among the most excellent award-winners.
6/15/2007 12:39 PM


The Last Gentleman Adventurer

Monday, May 28, 2007

By Edward Beauclerk Maurice
In 1930, at the age of seventeen, Edward Maurice signed on with the Hudson Bay Company to travel to Canada as one of its agents. The rest of his family traveled to New Zealand to find a better life, but Maurice felt drawn to the arctic land of Baffin Island. And it is clear all through the book, which details the first four of his nine years with the company, how much he came to love the harsh life and the people he met. Unlike most of his colleagues, he learned the language and became a part of the coomunity in which he lived. Now called the Inuit people, the Eskimos of the Northeastern regions of Canada lived in danger of starvation and freezing most of the time. Even so, they had adapted wonderfully to the place they call home. In the summer they live in tents and build snow houses (igloos) in the winter. The heat for cooking and warmth was provided by whale oil and seal oil lamps. Even though I had a hard time getting into the book, I slowly became more interested as the story progressed. The descriptions of the hunt on land and sea were fascinating. Maurice had to travel from his first post for four days by sledge led by dogs to take food to rescuing a starving community gaining his acceptance by the Eskimos. At the second post, Maurice arrrived to find many of the people sick with an unknown illness. Over a year, the post lost 24 of its 121 population, many of them needed hunters. As the post agent, Maurice was compelled to go on hunts and traps to help feed and clothe the widows. His ambivalence toward the females who show interest in him is quite charming. This story was told in a straightforward manner without a lot of fanfare. Even though Maurice accomplished many thngs, he seems very humble giving most of the credit to the people who taught him. While this was an interesting book about a culture and place I knew very little about; it's not a book I will read again. It would be interesting to know more about Maurice's life after he left the arctic, but this is the only book he wrote.
Rating: 3.5
Posted by Framed at 6:13 PM

MyUtopia said...
It sounds interesting, thanks for the review.
5/29/2007 1:07 PM
booklogged said...
Sounds like a good book to read in the heat of the summer. Maybe it will cool a person down somewhat.
5/29/2007 1:09 PM
Bookfool said...
Oh, that sounds really interesting. Thanks for a fab review!And, what booklogged said. I love reading about cold places in the summer. :)

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