Beginnings

Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monthly Wrap-Up, YTD & Giveaway Reminder

The month of October was quite active (at least by my standards) and despite lots of work days clogging my reading agenda, it was a fruitful 31 days.  I read more & reviewed less (a reversal from last month).

Books Read This Month (3)--click titles for reviews
Under the Dome- Stephen King
Freedom- Jonathan Franzen
Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen

Book Reviews Posted (9 posts, 44 books)
Woody Allen & Philosophy- Eds. Mark T. Conrad & Aeon J. Skoble
Ghosts of Mississippi- Maryanne Vollers
Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code- Dan Brown
James Patterson books (21)
John Grisham books (15)
Story- Robert McKee

Books Currently Being Read (3)
Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger--up to page 131
Love, Stargirl- Jerry Spinelli--up to page 51
My Life- Bill Clinton--up to page 244

Books Read in 2010 So Far (30)


Also, in celebration of my 50th follower milestone, I am hosting a giveaway open until November 13th.  The prize isn't tangible, but should be fun nonetheless.  Click here for details.  Hope you will participate :)

Happy Hallowe'en :D

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's A Book - By Lane Smith


Came across this great video while hopping today, an animated preview of It's a Book by Lane Smith, available at Amazon, a children's book that spoofs the current generation's take on books while consuming web 2.0 technologies.

This is very intuitive of 21st century readers, especially reluctant ones attached to their gadgets :D

A Book-Related Quiz

Actually...it's a questionnaire.  Found it while hopping over to BookAHolics Anonymous.  Here goes...

What author do you own the most books by?

Stephen King.  I have 8:  On Writing, Different SeasonsThe Green Mile, Carrie, The Shining, The Mist, Under the Dome, The Stand, and The Dead Zone.  Haven't read The Stand yet & I haven't reviewed the the unlinked titles yet.

What book do you own the most copies of?
I have 2 copies of Oliver Twist and 2 of Alice in Wonderland.  I own 2 of each because each book's oldest copy is falling apart :D

Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Didn't notice it until now...yikes, teacher's slip :P

What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Not much of a secret, but I previously cited Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables as a crush in my Top 10 Fictional Crushes last Tuesday.

What book have you read the most times in your life?
Funny, I haven't reread many books in my life because I'm always looking for something new.  Probably The Green Mile by Stephen King or The Firm by John Grisham (a few times each).

What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
The Babysitters Club books :D

What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.  Didn't finish it.  Just painful.

What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
I loved The World According to Garp by John Irving and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
K-PAX by Gene Brewer.  It's so brilliant & not enough people have read it!

Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
This year's honour went to Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, but next year...too many to choose from!  Perhaps John Irving or Salman Rushdie.

What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.  Edward Norton has been trying for a number of years to get this project moving & it sounds like it will finally happen.  IMDb cites a 2013 release date.

What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger as that was not his wish & I can't see anyone improving on the novel, so the best anyone can hope for is equally it.  Now that Salinger is dead, it is now up to his estate owner & that could very well make it happen.

Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I haven't had a dream involving any of those.  Strange, eh?

What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Interesting question.  Not sure.

What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
In terms of language, Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie.  In terms of style, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.

What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
Never seen one performed and I wouldn't describe any Shakespeare play I've read as obscure.

Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I think Russian literature boasts more classic literature, but French literature is fun :)

Roth or Updike?
Never read either, but I'm more interested in Updike and his Rabbit series.

David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I'm more interested in Sedaris.

Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, of course!

Austen or Eliot?
Have read 1 of each and I preferred Eliot as she was much more intuitive with her characters.

What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Charles Dickens.  Not a single one read :(

What is your favorite book?
Only one?!?  If I had to choose, it would be The Green Mile by Stephen King.

Play?
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

Poem?
"Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats and "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Essay?
"On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin and "A Vindication on the Rights of Women" by Mary Wollstonecraft.

Short story?
"The Breathing Method" from Different Seasons by Stephen King.

Work of nonfiction?
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks.

Who is your favorite writer?
Stephen King.

Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Stephanie Meyer.

What is your desert island book?
The Firm by John Grisham.  I could read that book inside & out for all eternity if I had to.

And… what are you reading right now?
Primarily, Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.

50th Follower Giveaway!


Feeling like I'm floating on air...

A new milestone (x2, actually):  Trina @ An Old Flame has become my 50th follower.  A HUGE thank-you to all my followers!  I'm so thrilled that you enjoy visiting my blog.  As long as you keep coming, I'll keep writing :)  Also, I realized (unknowingly until today) that I have made 100 posts (this being #102).  Yay :D

I think this calls for a giveaway of some kind!  This will be my 1st giveaway, so bear with me as I am new to this.  I want to do something creative and with an honourable, rather than a tangible prize, so here's how this will work:

Whatcha Readin', Books? Giveaway

1)  You must have your own book blog.

2)  Create a post that includes the name of the giveaway, a link back here & a response of any length (though quality will be considered over quantity) to this question, which you may interpret any way you want:

What does reading mean to you?

3)  Post a comment here indicating that you are entering the giveaway & link to your response.

4)  You don't have to be a follower of this blog to enter but it would be nice :)

4)  The deadline for posting a response is Saturday, November 13, 2010 by 1:00 p.m. EST.  The winner will be announced on Sunday, November 14.

5)  The responses will be judged by me based on creativity, originality, expression & adherence to #1 & #2.

Now for the prize...The winner of the giveaway will receive:

~your blog button & a link back on my blog permanently
~a follow from me (if I'm not following already)
~a guest post--your blog or mine, the topics and/or questions up to you!


Good luck everyone & thanks again for following :D

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Blog Hop & Hallowe'en Costumes From the Office

 

A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books.

This week's question is apparently from Jennifer herself:

What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?

Nice question!  I would love to have a huge wall-to-wall bookcase in at least 3 rooms in my house: my bedroom, my family room/den, and my bathroom...LOL, just kidding :D...I'd love a separate library room with all 4 walls having floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books.  And then atop that cost, the ability to read every single book--meaning I would be independently wealthy :D

I'm currently watching a Hallowe'en-themed rerun of The Office.  Here are my favourite costumes:





Happy Hallowe'en!

On a ghoulish note, have a safe & fun Hallowe'en, dress up in the cheesiest homemade costume (they're the best!) and try hard not to pig out on candy & chocolate...but pig out anyway :D





Thursday, October 28, 2010

All I Want For Christmas


A seasonal meme hosted by Danya @ A Tapestry of Words.
Every week until Xmas, bloggers are invited to share a book on their wish list.  Sounds like fun!



Wonder Boys- Michael Chabon

I adore the movie & think Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. are simply brilliant in this (and most other movies they are in...okay, all of them!).  My local Chapters doesn't seem to carry this book (ever) & the temptation of others have shoved this TBR pick to my Xmas list.  I even blanked on the author's name recently & thought it was written by Michael Crichton.  Yup, I'd say literary fiction sure is a far cry from the dinosaur dude :D

Any thoughts on this book?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten & Teaser Tuesday

I'm making a short & sweet post because that movie page exhausted me today...but I can't pass up doing the Tuesday memes :D



A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ The Broke & the Bookish.

In honour of Hallowe'en on Sunday, this week's topic is:

Top Ten Scariest Books

1)  Carrie- Stephen King- shocking climax, even by today's horror movie standards

2)  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde- Robert Louis Stevenson- timeless scary story

3)  Going Rogue- Sarah Palin- picturing her as the potential VP (and Prez in waiting) couldn't be scarier :D

4)  The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe- the literary master of suspense in poetry & short stories

5)  The Shining- Stephen King- the movie also makes for a scary companion!

6)  The Lovely Bones- Alice Sebold- lots of shudder-worthy scenes, especially when Susie's murderer is being questioned

7)  The Lord of the Flies- William Golding- how power breeds violence, even with young children

8) Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad- the darkest and most disturbing novel I've ever read

9)  Dracula- Bram Stoker- hard to avoid that one...

10)  Frankenstein- Mary Shelley- probably the best scary story & written by a woman, too!



A weekly meme hosted by Miz B @ Should Be Reading

I haven't participated in this one for a while, but I finally get the chance to mention my current read!

Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger
"A random memory came to her:  We stood here together, my hand on the doorknob just like this.  A younger hand; we were young."

My 100 Favourite Movies

I've added a new page to my blog called My 100 Favourite Movies.  Believe it or not, it took more energy to get the page formatted than to think of 100 titles for the list!  Any movies you love that I overlooked?  Any favourites we have in common?  Comment below :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sesame Street: Cookie Monster In The Library


One of the funniest videos I've ever seen!  Retro YouTube clip of Cookie Monster's visit to the library.  Guaranteed to be hilarious :oD

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.


Photobucket

My first time participating in this weekly meme hosted by Be One Fine Day.  Thank you :)


Finished Reading
Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen- yay, it's official--I've read one Jane Austen novel :oD  Plowed through remaining 75 pages yesterday.  Now my dad wants to borrow it & see what he's been missing.  Reading certainly is contagious...!


Currently Reading
Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger--up to page 25--no progress on it yesterday, but I have the day off today, so here's hoping I can dive into it some more.

Love, Stargirl- Jerry Spinelli--up to page 51--Haven't touched it this week (again).

My Life- Bill Clinton- up to page 244. Have set aside for now.


Next to Read
The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood--I can't think of a single piece of dystopian fiction I've ever read, so this may very well be my first!


New Reviews This Week
John Grisham Book Reviews--a series of short takes on his legal fiction (a sequel to my James Patterson post).
Story- Robert McKee
Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen


New Site Additions
Added a blog button.  Feel free to add to your blog list :o)

Moved my blog list to a separate page.  It's grown to over 70 now!  I've put the 20 or so that I most frequent on the main page, but I scan through all recent postings on the handy-dandy Dashboard.

Added Alan Rickman "Read" ad for ALA.  I'm surprised he's not holding a Harry Potter book!


Coming Soon...
I'm constructing a list of 100 favourite movies to post as a separate page.  I've got 50 so far, but it should be easy to come up with the rest.

What are you reading this week?  Any finished this week to rave about?  Have a great reading week!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1813
Length:  275 pages
ISBN:  9781905716883
Genre:  Romance

Start Date:  Sept. 10, 2010
Finished Date:  Oct. 24, 2010

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo (my edition can be found here but is currently sold out; it was on sale for $5!)
Why Read:  On my lifetime reading list & after hearing so much about Jane Austen, curiosity finally took over.  Read my post about the experience of buying the book.

Summary:  The Bennet family with 5 unwed daughters are pressured to marry and are routinely introduced to a number of eligible suitors through social gatherings until the arrival of a rich bachelor and his seemingly stuck-up friend.

Review:

Confession:  I have an English degree and (*gasp*) have never read Jane Austen before.  Curiosity did not overcome this issue until recently.  Until now, I thought I had been missing the most incredible novel ever written.  I wouldn't go that far--it's a highly debatable & touchy issue, especially with book bloggers.  Feel free to open up a debate in the comments.

What I can say now is that I have read something of Jane Austen's and I think she is a charming writer.  The writing is flowery, fluffy, and fun.  If you read it aloud, it should be with flair, class, and with a quick, sharp wit.  I tend to read books at a slow to moderate pace, which nearly broke my experience with P&P.  It took 100 pages for me to really get into and have fun reading it.  Changing my reading pace seemed to help :oD

Elizabeth Bennet is a fine character, very respectable and ahead of her time for questioning her assumed fate as a wife, settling for anyone that shows an interest in her, and taking romance as seriously or mindlessly as her sisters Lydia and Kitty.  Then again, Elizabeth is not without pride...or prejudice.  None of the book's characters are, as Austen reminds us on nearly every page.  Elizabeth is too quick to judge the decent Mr. Darcy, who is equally wrong to dismiss Elizabeth just to impress his rich friend, and yet they both recognize each other's unquestionable attraction and equally rash impressions of one another.

Now for the elephant in the room:  Is this all there is?  As Charlotte Bronte was quoted in response to P&P:  "... a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but ... no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck."  In other words, it has lots of pomp & circumstance, but little richness to its soul.  It has the guts to deny or at least argue ill reasons against traditions such as arranged marriage, betrothal, henpecking, and underaged unions, but it also makes them happen.  If only Austen lived in more modern times, she could have had more opportunity to break the mould of romance novels.  Instead, there was George Eliot, who had to resort to a male pseudonym in order to write those types of novels, including Scenes From a Clerical Life ("Janet's Repentence") about a victim of domestic violence.

I can't write a review of P&P without bringing up the many movie adaptations:

First in 1940 with Greer Garson as Elizabeth, Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy, Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennet, Edmund Gwenn (a.k.a. Santa Claus from Miracle on 34th Street) as Mr. Bennet, Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, and Ann Rutherford as Lydia.

In 1995, Colin Firth played Mr. Darcy in the TV miniseries, the mostly highly regarded of the adaptations and beloved by every P&P fan I've encountered.

In the 2005 movie, Keira Knightley played Elizabeth, Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy, Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet, Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet, Jena Malone as Lydia, and Carey Mulligan as Kitty.

I haven't yet seen any of them, except the modernized inspiration, Bridget Jones's Diary which had Colin Firth as Mark Darcy (could it be any more obvious?) and he also badmouthed his future lady love behind her back.  Bridget, to me, is more admirable and definitely more independent-minded than Elizabeth Bennet, yet both sweetly show how a love story works remarkably well by reversing original, often overreaching, reactions to the unlikely romantic partner, and then mending the conflict into a lightbulb moment--it is possible for love to develop and not merely be everpresent.

Rank:  (A)- Really Liked It, Recommend

Saturday, October 23, 2010

40th Follower!

Thank you everyone who has been following my blog for the last 2 months since I started this awesome hobby!  And thank you Jinky for being #40 :o)


Story- Robert McKee

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1997
Length:  419 pages
ISBN:  0060391685
Genre:  Nonfiction, Writing

Start Date:  Sometime in 2008-9
Finished Date:  Sometime in 2008-9

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  I loved Robert McKee’s cameo in Adaptation and his advice is cited from Story, a copy of which Nicolas Cage also reads in the movie.

Summary:  A critical, structural reference guide to the art of writing with a focus on movies and necessary components, such as setting, genre, character, and conflict.

Review:

Everyone from your neighbour to your dentist is writing a screenplay. At least that’s how it seems with the taste of fame and fortune ever beckoning, despite the many Hollywood writers who still remain anonymous. Here’s a little quiz: Do any of these names sound familiar? Dustin Lance Black. Mark Boal. Tony Gilroy. Peter Morgan. Stephen Gaghan. These are just some of the most recent Oscar-nominated (or Oscar-winning) screenwriters. Your score out of 5 for recognition will tell you just how famous they are (and how knowledgeable you are).

If your ambition is to be a novelist or you want to know how a good writer makes his/her work come alive, this is the book. Even if you have no such ambitions, the most ardent readers will find McKee’s book, known as “the screenwriting bible” insightful, incredible, and inspiring.  No topic of writing structure is left uncovered, from the conception of ideas to the building of plot, the development of characters, the strengthening of details—it’s all there and is thoroughly explored with plentiful examples (be aware that films are given precedence over books) as part of a single big idea: the story.

Robert McKee may be amongst the unfamiliar names given above, but his reputation as the foremost writing instructor and former USC professor of creative writing gives him clout in Tinseltown. He made a hilarious cameo appearance in Adaptation in which he offered Nicolas Cage (in a warped dual role as screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and his fictional twin, Donald) harsh, sober, and above all, honest advice about his story about flowers. Yup, that’s it. Flowers. McKee sure ripped into him about that. Who wouldn’t?

By the end of this book, I felt so confident in the multitude of strong, satisfying stories, both the existing titles and the ones yet to be written. It’s quite a feeling!

P.S.  Expect some funny looks and long pauses in phone conversation when you give this title to a book seller ("I'm looking for a book called Story").  I experienced both :oD

Rank:  (A+)- Excellent resource for writers!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Blog Button


I finally got with the program & designed a blog button at Sign Generator.  I was lucky to find a background that so closely matches my template!  Please save, upload & link back here in your blog list.  Thanks for your help in generating more traffic :o)

Blog Award!


Wow...two awards in one week?!?  I'm so touched.  Thank you Sarah @ Sarah Reads Too Much for bestowing One Lovely Blog Award on me.  In return, I am asked to pass the award along to a few blogs, especially ones I have recently found:

Book Addict's Book Reviews
Fluidity of Time
In the Forest
Little Squeed
Taming the Bookshelf

Congratulations :o)

Book Blog Hop & Friday Fill-Ins

Happy Friday!

Two intriguing memes to participate in today!  I'm working this afternoon so I'll make a quick post & hop around later today.

A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books
This week's question is from Becky @ Becky's Barmy Book Blog.

Where is your favourite place to read?  Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?

At night, it would definitely in bed with a pair of cozy PJs, a warm blanket, and propped up with a pillow and my burgundy stuffed "wedge" to keep my back supported.  During the day, I like the couch with the footrest up & the back reclined with my feet curled up & snuggled into the thick armrest.  Aaahhh....that's the stuff :oD



A weekly meme hosted by Janet @ Friday Fill-Ins.  My answers are underlined; the rest is given.

1. One of my strongest beliefs is in humanity.

2. My TBR list is huge!

3. The sky is cloudy with a threat of rain and wind and cold, so reading is on the agenda!

4. My family is comforting to me.

5. I always thought I'd be a teacher.

6. The room was suddenly bathed in white and then I went outside to look at the full moon.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching a football game, tomorrow my plans include reading & hopefully finishing Pride & Prejudice and Sunday, I want to book more work for next week!


Have a great weekend :o)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

John Grisham Book Reviews

I got some great responses to my James Patterson book reviews post that I decided to go ahead with my plan to do a similar post on John Grisham. In high school, I read The Firm and The Pelican Brief for a senior English project, and became hooked on his popular legal fiction.

Do you remember a time in your adolescence when you made a transition to adult reading material? This was mine. I felt proud to have finished the adult level books & actually understand them! Now, like with James Patterson's novels, I’ve mostly exhausted reading Grisham's books as his quality of writing has since peaked (in my opinion).

Without further ado, here are the John Grisham novels I have read with short reviews & rankings.

Genre:  Legal Fiction
Start Date:  From 2003-2008
Finished Date:  From 2003-2008

Where Found:  Used bookstore & Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  Mostly for interest in popular adult fiction


My 3 Favourite John Grisham Novels


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1991
Length:  501 pages
ISBN:  044021145X

Summary:  A top-ranking, recently graduated law student is initially charmed by a small Memphis law firm that pays in spades until he discovers their corrupt Mafia dealings.

Review:
 
An intricate, increasingly complex plot makes for a constant thrill ride.  You never know who to trust and what direction the impressionable Mitch McDeere will take to uncover the truth without losing his law license or his life.  This is the very best of John Grisham, and if you are not much for his brand of fiction or don't care to read any of it, this is the one exception I beg you to take!  The movie version is good in its own right, but has a different ending & makes considerable cuts to the book's plot.  I would say read the book, then see the movie, as you should do most of the time :o)
 
Rank:  (A+)- One of my all-time favourites!
 

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1989
Length:  515 pages
ISBN:  0440211727

Summary:  A young, justice-seeking attorney in KKK-ridden Mississippi defends a black client who killed the two white men who raped & left his young daughter for dead.

Review:

Grisham's first book is one of his greatest and most powerful in its criticism of the U.S. South and its racially provoked legal system, the ethics of taking the law into your own hands, the means of acquiring justice with political & criminal repercussions that spill over into the personal lives of the defense.  Once you get past the legal jargon that Grisham eventually simplifies with his more current novels, A Time To Kill is a morality tale that still rings true and is still being contemplated today.  The movie version is all right, though doesn't quite stand up to the novel.

Rank:  (A+)- Excellent, A Must-Read



Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1992
Length:  436 pages
ISBN:  0440214041

Summary:  An ambitious law student works with a resourceful journalist to uncover a government conspiracy that unravels after the killing of two Supreme Court justices.

Review:

Most of Grisham's novels involve male lawyers fighting injustices, making The Pelican Brief unique in the sense that a young woman with as much brains & sass as any male lawyer can have takes the reins in this sparkplug of a mystery with the assistance of a prominent newspaper reporter with the senses of Woodward & Bernstein.  Many risks are taken to protect a burdensome secret and expose a dangerous truth all for the sake of legal justice & journalistic integrity.  The movie version is also worthy, staying true to the novel & has just as much pop in its storyline.
 
Rank:  (A+)- Excellent


Other John Grisham Novels Read

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1993
Length:  496 pages
ISBN:  9780385339087

Summary:  After a young boy witnesses the suicide of a lawyer who confesses that his Mafioso client murdered a Senator and reveals where the body is buried, he hires a lawyer to protect him & his family from being found out.

Review:

Grisham creates compelling characters in young Mark and his relationship with his lawyer, Reggie Love, who puts up a hard shell that eventually breaks to reveal a soft centre at her core with a tumultuous past.  It is an engaging, worthwhile read, yet not quite a favourite of mine.  There is something about the previous three books that were more fulfilling than The ClientThe movie version is about equal to the book, not any better or any worse, and is worth a viewing if it happens to come on TV or a rental.

Rank:  (A)- Very Good


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1994
Length:  640 pages
ISBN:  9780385339667

Summary:  A former KKK member is on death row facing the gas chamber unless his estranged lawyer grandson, who has since been sheltered from his family's dark history, can set aside personal differences and defend what may be an innocent man.

Review:

I did not finish this book, only getting about 1/4 of the way through as I found the buildup to be dull and uninteresting.  I wasn't that taken with the characters and have read better Grisham novels.  This is one of his duds.  A movie version with Gene Hackman and Chris O'Donnell didn't fare much better as Grisham himself called it "a dreadful movie."

Rank:  (DNF)- Did Not Finish.  Don't Recommend


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1995
Length:  576 pages
ISBN:  9780385339605

Summary:  A young, down-on-his-luck law school graduate works alongside a sleazy "ambulance chaser" lawyer to defend a poor family seeking a wrongful death suit against an insurance company who failed to cover treatment for their cancer-ridden son.

Review:

A solid read with a strong ethical case that brings back themes of A Time to Kill with classcism in place of racism.  I enjoyed it thoroughly, even moreso than the often overpraised The Client, with its sense of humour sprinkled throughout, offering comic relief to the dark subject matter of preventable death due to corporate greed.  The movie version is also a good companion to the book, quite true to the plot and worth a look.

Rank:  (A)- Very Good, Really Liked It


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1996
Length:  550 pages
ISBN:  9780440221470

Summary:  During the trial of a wrongful death suit in which a widow is suing four major tobacco companies for her husband's death from lung cancer, a corrupt jury consultant and a mysterious undercover jury member are manipulating the verdict in two distinctly different ways.

Review:

Fascinating read with lots of conflicting viewpoints on the responsibility of rich companies peddling dangerous products, the influence of those companies on the general public, the selection of juries, their hidden agendas & those of the lawyers on both sides of the case, the biases of all involved, and the reworking of the justice system from inside sources.  A compelling story throughout if you ignore the complete absurdity of some aspects and the huge security breaches most of the novel entails.  The movie version was even sharper and insightful, despite changing the focus during early pre-production from the tobacco industry to the gun industry due to the acute coverage of the former's subject matter in the 1999 film The Insider.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1997
Length:  416 pages
ISBN:  9780385339100

Summary:  After a lawyer gets wind of a fraud scheme being run by his firm without him, he fakes his own death and flees to Brazil with a large chunk of the firm's money and as much evidence as he can collect.

Review:

I vaguely remember reading this but it was forgettable and a tad predictable as the plot wasn't as exciting or complex as previous Grisham novels have been.

Rank:  (C)- Just Okay


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1998
Length:  384 pages
ISBN:  978-0385339094

Summary:  After police kill a homeless man who took hostages at a law firm, one lawyer discovers shocking evidence against his former employer in an eviction of a homeless family that leads him to advocate for their rights.

Review:

Interesting subject matter, but like The Partner, blended too far into the background and is also forgettable.  A 2003 TV pilot was filmed but never came to fruition.
Rank:  (C)- Just Okay


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1999
Length:  480 pages
ISBN:  9780385339582

Summary:  A lawyer serves to protect the wishes of a billonnaire who commits suicide shortly after changing his will to leave everything to an illegitimate daughter over his contesting children, who is traced to a missionary in Brazil.

Review:

Great lead-up, building to some exciting plot twists, though the ending rings false and seems too pat for my liking.

Rank:  (C)- Just Okay


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2000
Length:  384 pages
ISBN:  9780385339674

Summary:  Three imprisoned ex-judges run a blackmailing ring that soon targets a Presidential candidate whose election is being fixed by a corrupt CIA director.

Review:

This is a return to form for Grisham.  You love to hate the villain and actually root for the anti-heroes that are arguably even more crooked!  I laughed out loud at the ending, finding it incredible how things come around perfectly in full circle.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2002
Length:  304 pages
ISBN:  9780385339599

Summary:  A law professor with an estranged drug addict brother discovers a large sum of money in his father, a former judge's, house upon his death that is not part of his will and tries to keep it without being traced by its owners.

Review:

As you can tell by the summary, the plot is a bit weak from the start and involves a cat-and-mouse game that is not all that different from a routine suspense movie, but lacks the spark such a plot needs to sustain to keep from falling flat.  Don't bother.

Rank:  (D)- Didn't Like, Don't Recommend


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2003
Length:  400 pages
ISBN:  9780385339650

Summary:  A disgruntled public defender learns through his client accused of a street murder that a pharmaceutical company is testing on recovering drug addicts with side effects occuring in rare cases, leading to him ruthlessly cashing in on large settlements.

Review:

Not a bad return to legal thrillers after a brief foray into more sentimental fiction.  It's sometimes hard to relate to the main character as he is also the villain, but watching how he digs himself into a giant hole is more interesting than if the protagonist was the one chasing him down.

Rank:  (B)- Good, Recommend


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2004
Length:  416 pages
ISBN:  9780385339681

Summary:  Told through the perspective of a local newspaper man, a recently paroled murderer seeks revenge on the jurors who convicted him in a racially motivated trial.

Review:

Returning to interwoven themes of racial hatred & justice in A Time to Kill, Grisham creates a different perspective on a similar story.  While it doesn't quite measure up to the power of the older book, it is good in its own right and is worth a read.

Rank:  (B)- Very Good, Recommend


Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2005
Length:  384 pages
ISBN:  9780385340540

Summary:  A power broker recently released from prison is being targeted for assassination by the government and countries of interest in a deal he attempted to make for the highest bid on the world's most intricate surveillance system.

Review:

A different take on Grisham's typical legal fiction that steps on the gas with more action sequences and plenty of page-turning fun.  Worth a read.

Rank:  (B)- Very Good, Recommend


I have not read these books by John Grisham (not including nonfiction or children's books):
A Painted House (2001)
Skipping Christmas (2001)
Bleachers (2003)
The Appeal (2008)
The Associate (2009)
The Confession (to be released in 2010)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My First Blog Award!


Thank you so much, LibraryGal for passing along the Cherry on Top Award to me!  So proud (*tear*).

Upon accepting this award, recipients are asked to answer the following question:

If you could go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

Whether we care to admit it or not, there is at least 1 moment we would probably love to get another crack at getting right, but then again, it could very well have an effect on our life course from there on out.  And, to wax philosophical some more (*wink*), would changing even a tiny part of our past have much, if any, effect on the rest of it?  That being said, I think it's more fun to pick something, so I think I would have attended my high school prom.  I skipped it because I wasn't too popular and felt self-conscious (of course I did, I was a teenager!) and had a family party at home instead.  In hindsight, I probably would have had more fun than I thought.  I did have a formal at teacher's college where I went all out on prom-like stuff, so in a way, I got to reverse something from my past already :oD

Recipients are also asked to pass the award on to 5 bloggers who have offered that "little extra."  With pleasure, I have chosen:

Bybee @ Naked Without Books
Literature and America
Izzy @ My Words Ate Me
Kylie @ Kylie's Reads
Jillian @ Random Ramblings

Congratulations all :o)

Top Ten Tuesday


A weekly meme hosted by Jennifer @ The Broke & the Bookish.

This week's topic:

Top Ten Literary Crushes

Sweet!  I love doing this meme each Tuesday because it really makes me think.  It comes down to either having too many or not enough, which makes me hark back to all the books I've enjoyed over time.

My first 5 are from children's books to account for girlhood crushes:

1)  Gilbert Blythe- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery- Sigh...

2)  Boots- This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall by Gordon Korman- Even though his best friend Bruno was the leader of the pack, Boots (often the fall guy in their pranks) was sweet & smart

3)  Jess- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson- I loved how his friendship with Leslie changed me for the better.

4)  Bart- The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin- I related to Kristy the most and Bart was her boyfriend near the end of the series' run.  I liked him for all the reasons she did :o)

5)  John- The Pigman by Paul Zindel- the one & only bad boy I ever crushed on!


My final 5 are adulthood crushes:

6) John Sampson- Alex Cross series by James Patterson- He's a great sidekick for Alex Cross and so charming.

7)  David Drayton- The Mist by Stephen King- I love how he keeps his head together despite the tragedies and how he leads everyone without being a stand-offish type of hero

8)  Dale "Barbie" Barbara- Under the Dome by Stephen King- You cannot help but like a guy who genuinely means well and is stuck with the title of "new guy in town" the entire 1000+ page novel.

9)  Horatio- Hamlet by William Shakespeare- A loyal character who stands by his best friend, Hamlet, until the end and sends him off with the eulogy, "Good night, sweet prince."

10)  Barry- High Fidelity by Nick Hornby- Biting humour, gross hilarity, unconventional crush but would make a really fun companion :oD

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Ugh...sorry this comes late today.  A tiring day of work and a lot of new government docs coming through to keep up on for possible winter job interviews.

Finished Reading
Freedom- Jonathan Franzen--gave up on it after 200 pages.  Just not worth finishing for me.  Click title for review.

Currently Reading
Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen--up to page 126.  It's getting good now!  It took about 100 pages for me to warm up to it, but since *SPOILER ALERT* Charlotte married Mr. Collins, the conversations between characters are much more juicy :oD

Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger--up to page 25.  Once I finish P&P, I'll be into this one full throttle!  The language is so rich and the story sounds terrifically mysterious.  I have a very good feeling about it :o)

Love, Stargirl- Jerry Spinelli--up to page 51--Haven't touched it this week.

My Life- Bill Clinton- up to page 244.  Have set aside for now.


New Reviews This Week
James Patterson book reviews--every book of his I've read is briefly reviewed & ranked

What are you reading this week?  Anything you've finished and want to rave about? :oD

Have a great reading week!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In Exchange For Freedom

Bye bye birdie.

Not that I would exchange ANYTHING for my freedom, but in the case of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, which I successfully returned to Chapters after 26 days under the Heather's Picks return policy (any books selected by the CEO as picks are 100% guaranteed or a full refund/exchange may take place), I picked up:


The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood
I've been dying to read something by Margaret Atwood.  Being a Canadian and an English degree holder, I'm ashamed to not have had the pleasure yet.  Then again, it's great to have a fresh perspective.  I've read recent reviews of THT, so this will be my first and hopefully not my last by this author.

The Stand- Stephen King
After reading Under the Dome, I decided to go for his other really big (1100+ page) epic.  I won't be reading it until I can devote lots of time to it.  Maybe during the winter holidays.  I also heard that King is soon releasing a book of 4 short stories/novellas called Full Dark, No Stars.  Sounds intriguing.  It'll likely go on the Xmas wish list.

Shutter Island- Dennis Lehane
I really liked the movie and though I know how it all ends, I'm curious about how the book tells the story and what differences I notice.  I've read Mystic River and thought it was such a different style of writing for a mystery, unlike typical authors of the same genre.

Water For Elephants- Sara Gruen
Truth be told, the title is what drew me to this book more than anything.  The setting is also unique, and I'm hoping this is as good as I've heard it is.


Carl Da Bunny

Now, just to clarify about my new profile picture:

A) No, this is not me...if you thought it was, maybe you're the one who needs glasses :oD
B)  No, this is not a real bunny.  He's stuffed and used to talk if you squeezed its tummy, but now it sounds like muffled gibberish.
C)  He was a former mascot for Blockbuster with a guinea pig named Ray, who sits next to Carl but has no glasses...yet.  He also talked, but is even worse sounding than Carl now.
D)  The glasses are for watching 3D movies, which I got at the theatre when I went to see Avatar.

I love the creative profile pictures I see out there, and it took me a while to think of something that complements me & my slightly strange sense of humour.  Voila!

Have a great weekend :o)