Monday, November 24, 2008

Books for Christmas

Are you buying books for gifts for others this year? (Of course, you are buying books for yourself...who could not, if you enter a book store?). so far, I have bought 3 book gifts, but have some others in the plans.

I also bought 2 October birth grandchildren books for their birthdays. I had not heard of either of the books, but one was about Pyramids for 7 year old Chris and the other was about a girl starting 3rd grade for Lexie, who just began (you guessed it) 3rd grade!

Then my daughters had birthdays in November and they each received books that I have requested to read when they have finished them!

I would be curious to know what books are you giving for gifts this year? I will share that the 3 I have bought so far are Babar, a Betty Crocker cookbook for Kids, and Jon Meacham's The Last Lion.

Who By Fire


Who By Fire by Diana Sprechler is her first novel. I can’t wait to read more of her work! The book is about a family and the tragedy of a six year old little girl missing. Bits and Ash were children when their younger sister, Alena, was kidnapped. How each member of the family dealt with the tragedy is extremely well presented in the book. It portrays the grief and desperation of a mother, and the confusion and guilt of the children. And, in its own way, tells how the father dealt with the grief issues in a healthy way. Ash has always blamed himself for the incident and grew up to grasp at Orthodox Jewish religion, breaking communication with the family and moving to Israel, playing out another disappearance to deal with for the family. Bits has gone on as a rather lost girl, becoming promiscuous at an early age, and going off with any man trying to find herself.

Thirteen years after Alena’s kidnapping, her mother calls Bits to tell her that Alena’s remains have been found and she wants Bits and Ash to return home for a memorial service. Bits sets off to find Ash.

I’m not telling anymore about the book! You really need to read it! It is about family tragedy, resilience, religion, and love. Each chapter is narrated by one of the three main characters, which makes it very easy to read.

As a side note, at the end of the book there is conversation with the author where she answers questions and discusses the writing of the novel. She mentions frequently two of her good friends in the conversation and one of the friend’s names is “Aryn”. I mentioned it to my daughter Maggie and she asked where the author went to school. I told her Montana and she said then that has to be Aryn Kyle, our friend who wrote The God of Animals! Then as I turned the book over, there on the front cover, is a quote about this novel by Aryn Kyle! Who knew that Montana had such wonderful writers!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Yes, I finally read the final book. It was sad to be done with it, but what a great series of books. If JK Rowling was a friend of mine, however, I would have requested that this last book (Year 7) actually be done in 2 books. It is a HUGE book! And since I do a lot of reading in bed at night, it got to be downright dangerous! If I accidentally would fall asleep while reading, that was a really heavy book to fall on my face! Plus it was just plain heavy to hold while reading in bed. I had just finished reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which was also a HUGE book. I’m lucky to have survived them both without any bruises!

Anyway, I have gone on and on about the Harry Potter series before, so you know how much I have loved the stories. I even convinced both a son-in-law and my daughter-in-law to read them! It is great fun to share great reads with others!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Amazon's Top 10 Lists

Amazon came out with their top picks of books for 2008. They have several different lists and categories, but I focused on the Editor’s Top 10 and the Customer’s Favorite Top 10 books of the year. (You can check all of it out at their web site:

Anyway, here are the Top 10 Editor Picks:

The Northern Clemency

Hurry Down Sunshine


The Forever War

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Likeness


So Brave, Young, and Handsome

The Lazarus Project

The Ten-Cent Plague

My comments: The only one that I have read is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I liked enough to agree with it being in this top 10 list. I haven’t read any of these others, but there are a couple of them that I plan to read, specifically, The Likeness by Tanya French, who wrote In the Woods, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I also really liked Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, so I am inclined to try reading his new book on this list, So Brave, Young, and Handsome.

I have no interest in reading anything about Richard Nixon, so unless someone convinces me that I would really like Nixonland, no thanks! The Forever War is about the war in Iraq and Afganistan and with having a son who served in the US Marines and went over with the first wave when the war in Iraq began, that war is still just too close to me to be able to read about it and enjoy the book.

I am also interested in reading The Lazarus Project after reading what Amazon reviewers wrote:

“In The Lazarus Project, his most ambitious and imaginative work yet, Hemon brings to life an epic narrative born from a historical event: the 1908 killing of Lazarus Averbuch, a 19-year-old Jewish immigrant who was shot dead by George Shippy, the chief of Chicago police, after being admitted into his home to deliver an important letter. The mystery of what really happened that day remains unsolved (Shippy claimed Averbuch was an anarchist with ill intent) and from this opening set piece Hemon springs a century ahead to tell the story of Vladimir Brik, a Bosnian-American writer living in Chicago who gets funding to travel to Eastern Europe and unearth what really happened. The Lazarus Project deftly weaves the two stories together, cross-cutting the aftermath of Lazarus's death with Brik's journey and the tales from his traveling partner, Rora, a Bosnian war photographer.”

Now compare the Editor Picks with the Top 10 Customer Favorites:

Breaking Dawn

The Last Lecture


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Appeal

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

In Defense of Food

The Revolution

The Host

From this list, I have also read In Defense of Food, which I recommended that readers borrow from their local library, not buy! (See past review on this blog).

My comments on this list: I would like to read The Last Lecture, but other than that, none of the other books appeal to me. However, if anyone has read any of them and can convince me to try them, I am game! I would guess that The Appeal by John Grisham is good, as always.

I would enjoy any comments on these lists. If you are interested, go to the Amazon site. They have the top 100 available, so you don’t have to be limited to just the Top 10!