Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Power of One

The Power of OneThe Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

AR Reading Level: 6.9
On the library stacks: Adult fiction
Recommended for: Adults
Note: There is a young readers' condensed version on the YA stacks listed for grades 9+.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this on my shelf forever. But at over 500 pages, I needed a good excuse to pick it up. Thankfully, this was my in-person book club choice this month and we are going to watch the movie together tonight! This is a tough read, but it was really good.

The book spans the childhood years of Peekay, a white South African from English descent. When the book opens in 1939, little 6-year old Peekay is sent away to boarding school where he deals with unspeakable horrors because he is not a Boer. Peekay has no father and his mother is pretty much out to lunch. But Peekay finds others in his life who teach him, inspire him, and help him on his way including a boxer, a prison warden, a professor, a librarian, teachers, friends, and even a Russian man working in a Rhodesian copper mine.

The character development, set against the backdrop of WWII and the roots of apartheid, is outstanding. We journey with Peekay as he strives to become the welterweight champion of the world while standing against racism, uniting cultures, and developing his talents as a thinker.

This book is very violent and full of profanity. To be honest, I don't think I could have read it and appreciated it much earlier in my life than where I'm at now. But it is inspiring and beautifully written. There is a reason you see this one on so many Top 100-type lists, and I agree that the accolades are well-deserved.

Also reviewed by: Book Thoughts ~ Bending Bookshelf ~ Your link here?

Book 78 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 46 of 50 for the New Author Challenge, Book 34 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 6 of 8 for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge (South Africa)

Source: Purchased (brand new for 10 cents at my library book sale!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Series: Book 3 of 3 (Hunger Games)

Recommended for: Grades 9+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Well, I went to Borders yesterday morning armed with my newly arrived 50% off coupon in my email. (I must say I was super impressed with Borders for sending it to me since that was the pre-order price.) School didn't start until today, so there was me and a few teenage girls in line all eagerly clutching our Mockingjay books pulled from the prominent display at the entrance. I was only able to read off and on during the day, but I finally finished around 10pm last night.

Phew...this book was quite the ride. The action was great and there were twists I did not anticipate. About halfway through I set the book down stunned and needing to catch my breath. But, this book is not as strong as the first two. Some of the character development broke down for me, the romance element was missing its spark, and the ending was just anti-climatic. I felt like the anti-war message came on a little strong at the expense of the story.

But, it's fantabulous trilogy all around. So I'll shut up now.

Also reviewed by: Lisa's Book Nook ~ Book Nut ~ my thoughts exactly ~ My Friend Amy ~ Your link here?

Book 77 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 36 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge

Source: Purchased

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

AR Reading Level: 4.8
On the library stacks: Juvenile fiction
Awards: SLJ Best Book; Bilby Award
Series: Book 1 of 2

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished re-reading this with my 8-year old son. It was a favorite of mine growing up when I read it repeatedly. It has been over 20 years since I last read it, but I loved it as much as I did when I was younger.

This book is smart and it's funny. The illustrations in this particular version also add to the weird charm of the whole thing. CJ and I would crack up looking at the pictures together. And at the end of every chapter, I would get asked for, "Just one more!" It's a great read-aloud and fun for the whole family--a definite classic.

I have avoided watching the 2005 version of the film because I love the Gene Wilder version. Should I go ahead and try it or not?

Also reviewed by: At Home With Books ~ Piling on the Books ~ The Book Nest ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ Your link here?

Book 76 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge

Source: Purchased

Saturday, August 21, 2010

An Assembly Such as This

An Assembly Such as This (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, #1)An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan

On the library stacks: Adult fiction
Series: Book 1 of 3 (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman)
Recommended for: Jane Austen fans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever wanted to know Darcy's side of the story? This book is the first part of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's perspective. Taking place first at Netherfield and then in London, we get a lot more of the back story behind what makes Darcy tick. We learn more about his relationship with his sister, his life growing up at Pemberley, his parents, and what he really thinks of Caroline Bingley.

The book moved a little slowly for me at the beginning through the stuff that is easily recognizable from the original book and the movies. But it sped up for me as it went along and we were introduced to new characters. My favorite parts were the imagined stuff with side characters like Darcy's valet, Fletcher and his friend Dy from Cambridge.

Overall, I thought this was really fun. I look forward to continuing the series!

Also reviewed by: Ardent Reader ~ One Literature Nut ~ 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews ~ Your link here?

Book 75 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 45 of 50 for the New Author Challenge, Book 52 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2003)

Source: Borrowed

Thursday, August 19, 2010


DreamlandDreamland by Sarah Dessen

AR Reading Level: 5.8
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books; Young Reader's Choice Award/Nominee; State Award; Booklist Editors' Choice
Appropriate for: Grades 9+

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I grabbed this book off my bookshelf because I thought Sarah Dessen would be perfect for my week-long vacation at the beach. What I did not know, is that this is not the typical Sarah Dessen fare. This one deals with physical abuse and drug addiction.

Caitlin is a junior in high school who feels like she is the also-ran in her home. Her 'perfect' sister Cass up and vanished right before she was due to start school at Yale. With her parent's attention focused elsewhere, Caitlin loses herself in activities completely opposite of anything her sister would have done. She becomes a cheerleader and starts dating a notorious bad boy named Rogerson Biscoe from a neighboring school. As things go from bad to worse for Caitlin, she loses a hold on herself and the reality of what is happening to her.

I appreciate Dessen for having the guts to write a book like this. It's a book that might actually help some girls out there. While Caitlin was certainly a victim, I do wish she had been a little more accountable at the end for the poor choices that led her towards her downward spiral. I also wished that we could have seen a little more of how Rogerson was able to keep such a hold on Caitlin. He just seemed like pure evil to me, so it was hard to understand why Caitlin would stay with him. Still, reading this was kind of like watching a train wreck and I had a hard time putting down, especially at the end.

Also reviewed by: Book Addiction ~ Open Mind, Insert Book ~ Melissa's Bookshelf ~ Reviews of Young Adult Literature ~ Your link here?

Book 74 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 33 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 35 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge

Source: BookMooch

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Tea Rose

The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose, #1)The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

On the library stacks: Adult fiction
Series: Book 1 of 3 (The Tea Rose)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's 1888 and Jack the Ripper is on the loose in the East End of London. Fiona Finnegan works in a tea factory and Joe Bristow sells vegetables off his father's cart. They have loved each other since they were children, and together they are saving their pennies for the day they can get married and open their own shop. But their dreams are shattered--both by the choices they make and the dark forces at work in their working class neighborhood.

This is one of those sweeping epic novels that takes place over a decade in both London and New York. It's a rag-to-riches story about greed, ambition, evil, love, loss and revenge. It reminded me of the earlier works of Jeffrey Archer which I read a number of years ago. I really enjoy sinking my teeth into this kind of book, and this one was no exception. Even though it's a large novel, it held my interest and was well worth the time.

When I dissect this book, I do have some complaints. There was a lot of silly miscommunicating between the characters which aggravated me, especially since there was a certain degree of predictability. I didn't particularly like one of the main characters (I won't say who!) and there were a number of plot points that seemed wildly unrealistic, especially given the time period. Also, this book is definitely rated R for sex, language, and violence. But the bottom line is, when I look at the novel as a whole, it just worked for me and I really enjoyed it.

Also reviewed by: Ardent Reader ~ Tiny Little Reading Room ~ Your link here?

Book 73 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 32 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 51 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2002)

Source: Purchased

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Becoming Naomi Leon

Becoming Naomi LeonBecoming Naomi Leon by Pam Muñoz Ryan

AR Reading Level: 5.4
On the library stacks: Young Adult and Juvenile Fiction
Awards: Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Bk. Award; Skipping Stones Honor Award; NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts; Pura Belpre Award/Honor Book; Book Sense Book of the Year Award/Honorees; ALA Notable/Best Books
Recommended for: Grades 6+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Naomi Outlaw is a quiet 11-year old girl who lives with her great-grandmother and younger brother Owen in a California trailer park. Her mother left her with her great-grandmother when Naomi was just 4, but returns after 7 years to try and claim her.

Naomi wants to love her mother, a recovering alcoholic, but things about her just seem off. Eventually, Naomi's mother tries to force Naomi to go to Las Vegas with her and her boyfriend. This sends Naomi, her great-grandmother, Owen and some supportive neighbors to Mexico (in the trailer named Baby Beluga) during Christmastime to try and find Naomi's father for help.

This is a heartbreaking, but inspiring and sweet book. Naomi's situation encourages her to accept what she cannot change, but to stand up for herself and her family. I was in love with optimistic Owen, who has some medical difficulties, and Naomi's level-headed grandmother.

This book is well-written and I especially loved the beautiful scene in Mexico describing La Posadas. Thematically, this book might be a little mature for younger readers, but I definitely recommend it for middle school and up.

Also reviewed by: Books & other thoughts ~ Your link here?

Book 72 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 31 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 34 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge, Book 50 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2004)

Source: BookMooch

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Today is the 3rd anniversary of Library Queue!
And it's also my 400th post!
(nope, I didn't even plan that)

I started this blog mostly for my family and friends who wanted to keep up with what I read. And I also wanted to use it as a way to remember what I read. Through the years, it has morphed into so much more. I've met a whole community of book bloggers that I adore, made real true friends, and enjoyed challenges, read-a-thons, and tours. I joined Goodreads and started the Book Blogs Ning. Each day isn't complete for me without checking in with you and I love all the comments and feedback I've received.

Thank you for making this such a fun thing for me. I look forward to many more years!

Monday, August 9, 2010


EnthusiasmEnthusiasm by Polly Shulman

AR Reading Level: 5.4
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Recommended for: Grades 8+

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Ashleigh is an enthusiast. She goes from one hobby to the next, immersing herself in whatever is her fad of the moment. Her best friend Julie usually goes along with it, even if it isn't good for their social life. But then Ashleigh becomes a fan of Jane Austen after Julie introduces her to the classic works, and together they set out to find their Mr. Darcys.

This is a great summer YA romance for fans of Jane Austen. I was a little annoyed with all of the miscommunication and frustration between the characters during the first half of the novel, especially since the book is pretty predictable. But the swoon-worthy romance really picked up in the second half and I was a sucker for all of it. Fun!

Also reviewed by: write meg! ~ There is always something to read! ~ Tiny Little Reading Room ~ Ticket to Anywhere ~ It's All About Books ~ Your link here?

Book 71 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 44 of 50 for the New Author Challenge, Book 33 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge, Book 49 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2006), Book 21 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge

Source: Library

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body

sex sleep eat drink dream: a day in the life of your bodysex sleep eat drink dream: a day in the life of your body by Jennifer Ackerman

On the library stacks: Adult Non-fiction

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Jennifer Ackerman is a science writer who wanted to learn more about what the body goes through in a day. Written in the chronological format of a sample day, this book is a good look into the current research of the human body with some fascinating findings.

This book is full of fun facts about how our bodies work and react to daily life. I especially liked the sections dealing with the cyclical nature of our bodies--why we get the doldrums in the afternoon, what it means to be a lark or an owl, why you should get dental surgery performed in the afternoon, and how cancer patients can be treated more effectively if their medication is administered during a particular time of day.

The title of the book made reading publicly or around my kids a little uncomfortable. (And really the sex chapter was not that earth-shattering.) Certain chapters held my interest better than others, and some parts got a little too technical for me. But I anticipate that I will be referring to the things I have learned for a long time.

Thanks to BestBooks for the recommendation.

Book 70 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 30 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 43 of 50 for the New Author Challenge

Source: BookMooch

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's ElephantThe Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

AR Reading Level: 5.0
On the library stacks: Children's Fiction
Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books; Parent's Choice Award/Honor Book
Recommended for: Ages 8+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peter lives in an attic apartment with Vilna Lutz, a sickly friend of his father's from the military. One day, Peter goes to the market to buy food, but instead uses the money to visit a fortuneteller. He is told that his sister lives and he must follow the elephant to find her.

And so begins a series of events involving a magician, a nun, a police officer and his wife, a countess, a begger and his blind dog that will lead Peter to what he scarcely believed possible--a place to love and be loved.

This book had a similar feel to Edward Tulane. It is a haunting fable, with lovely words, and beautiful illustrations that enhanced the story. There were some lines in the story that made my heart happy and truly sparkled. This is a book the whole family can enjoy. My 9-year old loved it too.

Also reviewed by: A World of Words ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ In the Pages... ~ Capricious Reader ~ Bibliophile by the Sea ~ Your link here?

Book 69 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 29 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge

Source: Purchased