Wednesday, September 30, 2009

To Serve Them All My Days

To Serve Them All My Days To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield

First Published: 1972
Republished: March 1, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402218249
Price: $14.99
Pages: 608

Book 33 of 50 for the New Author Challenge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an in depth look into the life of David Powlett-Jones, a history teacher at a British boarding school for boys named Bamfylde. David joined the school at the end of WW1 as a shell-shocked young man trying to regain some sense of his life. He finds purpose in his existence at the school, one that ultimately becomes an inseparable part of who he is and determines his life's work.

It's difficult to sum up an amazing piece of literature that spans the period of British history from the end of WW1 to the beginning of WW2 all through David's eyes. But the novel leaves no stone unturned. It delves into David finding love, molding the mind's of impressionable youth, dealing with common room politics, and all the disappointments, joys, heartaches, and triumphs of a life fully lived. David is not perfect, but I found myself rooting for him every step of the way.

Those with an interest in the British political climate of the period will find this book fascinating. Some of it was a bit over my head, but it did not stifle the enjoyment of the book for me. I actually learned a lot while reading. There is some language used that is reflective of the time period and some terminology that is peculiar to British public (which really means private) schools. I got a kick out of it since a lot of it was the same language used when I attended high school in England in the 1990s, just proving the depth and importance of tradition to a school like Bamfylde.

I attended a school with a very similar history to Bamfylde. (Some of the girls I graduated from high school with were part of the first batch of girls to arrive when the school became co-educational in the 1980s.) While I'm sure my own life experiences play into it some, I absolutely loved this book and would definitely recommend it. The writing was superb. At 600 pages, it is truly a book to savor and not to be rushed. I look forward to reading more books by R.F. Delderfield in the future and getting my hands on a copy of the 1980 BBC miniseries of this book!

Also reviewed by:
Source: Publisher

Monday, September 28, 2009

The National Book Festival

Saturday was our long-awaited trip to The National Book Festival. My daughter and I headed straight for the children's tent where (from left to right) we heard from Jon Scieszka, Megan McDonald, Steven Kellogg, Nikki Grimes, Kate DiCamillo and Shannon Hale. They were introducing a collaborative book that is going to be published every two weeks on called The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. Jon Scieszka wrote the first chapter and read it aloud to us. Katherine Paterson will be writing the next installment. Steven Kellogg did some impromptu illustrations and Shannon Hale joked about her regrettable decision to wear white socks that day.

After quickly surveying the massive lines for author signings (we spied John Grisham and Jodi Picoult--their lines were ridiculous!), I told my daughter she could choose one. Her top priority was Kate DiCamillo so we stood in line for 90 minutes so she could sign her copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. They had a cute conversation:

C: My entire 4th grade is reading this book right now.
Kate: How's that going?
C: It's going good, but I've already read it like five times.
Kate: Wow! That's a great compliment. :)

There were grins and thanks all round.

The highlight of the day for me was meeting my friend and fellow blogging buddy, Corinne from The Book Nest, for the first time! We both had our 9 year old daughters in tow and the four of us just palled around like we'd known each other forever. I so appreciate that Corinne and her daughter came, and I only hope that next time we meet (which I'm hoping will be sometime in the next 4 months!) we'll get to hang out together longer. Seriously, every time I think about meeting up with these two awesome girls, I get a happy feeling in my heart.

As the rain started, we headed into the Pavilion of the States where each state (except loser Florida) had a booth. C had a little map book stamped and each state passed out goodies like posters, stickers, tattoos, and bookmarks. North Carolina had a little map where we could mark our house!

We stood in the dripping wet just outside the teen/children's tent to hear Kate DiCamillo read aloud some of her newest book, The Magician's Elephant. She also answered questions until her mic quit working.

And then as we managed to worm our way into the tent, Rick Riordan came out! C was so thrilled!

Rick talked about how he went from writing adult mysteries to writing his Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. He also announced that he's writing a series involving Egyptian gods and he read us the first bit of the first book. He was a very likeable guy and totally reminded me of my junior high science teacher, which I guess makes sense since he is a middle school teacher!

It was a great day (despite having to throw my wet shoes away!) and we can't wait to go again next year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

Book 32 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Book 1 of 25 for the MG Book Challenge
Book 3 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2008)
Awards: NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts; Parent's Choice Award/Honor Book; Kirkus Editors Choice; Booklist Editors' Choice; E.B. White Read Aloud Shortlist

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My daughter and I drove from Charlotte to Washington, DC last night. We are going to be attending The National Book Festival tomorrow, so I thought I would bring along an audiobook from one of the visiting authors, Lois Lowry. I've never actually read a Lois Lowry book and I decided it was time to remedy the situation.

The Willoughbys is an excellent tongue-in-cheek parody of "old-fashioned" storytelling complete with mean parents, orphans, and industrious children. The four Willoughby children are named Tim, A & B (twins both named Barnaby), and Jane. They don't like their parents, and their parents don't like them. So, the children encourage the parents to go on a dangerous vacation tour while the parents get a nanny for the children and attempt to sell the house out from underneath them. With the help of their wonderful nanny and a lonely candy tycoon, everything works out well, as any classic children's tale should.

This book was just hilarious. The reader, Arte Johnson, was so brilliant, I laughed out loud dozens of times. I think that older kids familiar with tales like Oliver, Heidi, Pollyanna, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are more likely to 'get' the humor. But, my 4th grader thought it was a terrific story too. There are also some great vocabulary words in this book--ignominious, affable, and nefarious to name a few--and an equally funny glossary at the end. This would make a great read-aloud for older children. Definitely recommended.

Also reviewed by:
Did I miss yours?

Source: Library Audiobook

Monday, September 21, 2009


Midwives Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Book 32 of 50 for the New Author Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! An Oprah book I actually liked! This book was my in-person book club's pick for this month. I think it was a great choice and we'll have lots to discuss.

This fiction book is set in Vermont in the early-1980s and is centered around a fateful March evening when a laboring woman dies during childbirth at home. Circumstances conspired against the midwife, Sibyl Danforth, as the roads were impassable and the phone lines were dead, making an emergency trip to the hospital impossible. The State puts Sibyl on trial because they believe the mother wasn't actually dead before Sibyl decided to attempt a C-section to save the baby.

At the beginning of each chapter, we get a snippet from the personal diary of Sibyl, penned during the events in the story. But, the main chunk of the book is told from the perspective of Sibyl's daughter, Connie, who was a teenager at the time of the trial. Because Connie writes the novel when she is in her 30s, I did find the jumping back and forth in time to be a little confusing. But I found Connie to be as impartial a narrator as she could have been, and I enjoyed that the story was told in her voice.

One thing that I really liked about this book is that I didn't feel the author advocated or rejected the idea of home birth. I felt like the arguments representing both sides were presented fairly, and there was good food for thought. The courtroom drama was especially interesting to read, and reminded me of Jodi Picoult's books in the way the ethical dilemma had me guessing and questioning what the ultimate outcome would be.

An enjoyable read that I think would be especially good to read during the colder months of the year!

Also reviewed by:
Have I missed your review? Did you read this one in your pre-blogging days? What did you think?

Source: Purchased

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

The Big Rock Candy Mountain (Contemporary American Fiction) The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

Book 31 of 50 for the New Author Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First published in 1943, this book is an autobiographical fiction novel set in the American West during the early 20th century. Elsa has just run away from her family in Minnesota when she meets the charismatic Bo Mason and the two fall in love. Bo Mason's main goal in life is to "make a pile" and he will do pretty much anything to try and accomplish that. Over the years, the family moves numerous times--North Dakota, Canada, Montana, Washington, and Utah included. Bo wants to earn money and earn it fast. He tries farming, mining, gambling, and bootlegging whiskey. But the fruition of Bo's dreams always seems just out of reach.

The writing was amazing, but this wasn't an easy read. It was long, slow, and more on the depressing side. But, I'm not sorry I read it. The observations on human nature, conflicting personalities, and life-making decisions were stunning. The storytelling perspective shifts between the characters--Elsa, Bo, and their boys, Chet and Bruce. I felt I knew them all intimately, and while I would not make the same choices they did, I understood them.

At 563 pages spanning 30 years, this book is hard to sum up. It's beautiful, it's heartbreaking, it's a masterful piece of literature. I'll definitely be seeking out more of Stegner in the future.

Read Corinne's wonderful review:
Have you read this one?
Any specific works by Stegner you would recommend?

Source: BookMooch

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW Reading Meme

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I will occasionally write in a non-fiction book that I might want to refer to later.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? I have a metal bookmark my kids gave me for Christmas that I love. Laying the book flat open? If it's an old paperback.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? Anytime, anywhere.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Not usually.

What are you currently reading? The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner and Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter.

What is the last book you bought? The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? If I'm reading shorter books, usually one at a time. But, if I'm involved in something longer, I will usually have another book on the side as a break.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) I used to have them split by non-fiction and fiction. The fictions books were alphabetized and the non-fiction was organized sort of by Dewey number. Now I just have the books I need to read on the lower shelves and the books I've read on the higher shelves and everything is a jumbled mess.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Interview with Julie from My Own Little Corner of the World

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Julie from My Own Little Corner of the World for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Julie is incredibly energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate about what she loves. Go check out her blog, and leave a comment!

Do you re-read books? What is one book you especially love to re-read?
Normally, I do not re-read books. There are a few that one of these days I'd like to re-read but right now, I'm trying to read the ones that I haven't read the first time yet!

Do you remember the first book blog you came across? was almost completely by accident. I was introduced to Goodreads by an eBay customer. I was searching for people who were in my area. I found someone nearby, added her as a friend and discovered she had a book blog. I truly owe MJ of Creative Madness That Makes Me My Own ( for inspiring me to become a book blogger.

Tell us about your hometown library.
I love this question!! My hometown library is a small, quaint little place in a little town called Rushville, IL. They didn't always have what I wanted to read growing up but we had a great network of libraries that we could borrow from relatively quick. The one I visit now is HUMONGOUS and the turn around on borrowing books within the system takes much longer. I miss the "small town" library where I knew the librarian. I don't know the one where I visit now (but then I don't visit this one often since I purchase most of my books)

How many book blogs are in your Google Reader?
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50.

Which weekly memes do you enjoy participating in? Which ones do you like reading about from other bloggers?
Let's see, Mailbox Monday, Teaser Tuesday, a new one from Sheila at Book Journey called Word Balderdash (it's great fun!, occasionally Booking Thru Thursday and Friday Fill-Ins. The one that I enjoy the most (besides Word Balderdash) is Show Me 5 Saturday by Alison at That's a Novel Idea ( I enjoy reading them all! :) I get so many different ideas for new books.

I see that you like Christian fiction. That genre is fairly new to me, but I’ve really enjoyed it. What would you say to someone who is hesitant to pick up a book with the Christian fiction label?
I would say to give it a chance. Most don't try to indoctrinate you in their particular view of religion. Many of them are just honest to goodness good stories that don't involve all the sex, drugs, violence, and bad language.

How did you decide what to name your blog?
I live in my own corner and that's what came to me. I wish I'd named it something more creative though, something that said more about who I am and what I stand for.

What has been your favorite book challenge this year?
The only one that I've really attempted with the August Book Challenge hosted by Peter. I predicted I'd read 4 books and I ended up doing better than that and fitting in 9. I teach school so I thought my reading would decrease a bit. I still manage to fit it all in!

You have so many books in your to-read list (1281)! Do you have a method to determining what you pick up next?
I have a spreadsheet with every book on it. They are classified in different categories of books I've purchased, books to review, e-books, and borrowed books. Then I go to and whatever number comes up then I read that book. I usually have 3-4 books going at once.

I notice that you have homeschooled your kids. How do you decide what books your kids will read? Do you pre-read their books for school?
My older two (I have 4 altogether) were allowed to choose what they wanted to read. Neither of them were big readers while in school (both are done now). I will also add that my husband did most of their schooling. My 17 year old is a big reader now because she was allowed to choose what to read. With my younger children, I will be previewing and assigning them reading.

You have 4 kids, a husband, you are a CPR instructor, you homeschool, and you read and blog. How do you balance all of life’s demands in a way that keeps you feeling centered and happy?
And this is just a small sampling of what I do!! LOL I find blogging and reading to be my stress release. During the school year (I am a high school CNA instructor...) I am not as active as I wish due to my other responsibilities.

What is a book you think every child should read?
Oh the Places You Will Go by Dr. Suess

How many books are currently sitting on your nightstand?
This is a trick question, right?!? I have about 25 piled up on my nightstand. I'm out of book shelf space!!

What percentage of your books are bought, borrowed, or mooched (just estimate)?
I buy about 95% of my books that aren't sent by the publisher for review. I have a student (Mindi!) who is a great book supplier to me. I don't know what I'm going to do when she graduates next year! She got me interested in reading again a few years go when I first met her.

What is one book that you are embarrassed to admit you haven’t read yet?
I've never read any Jane Austen. I hear that I might ought to read these works though!

Who are your top three favorite authors?
John Grisham, Candace Calvart, Julie Klassen

Do you belong to a book club? Is it in person or online?
I belong to several online clubs through

(I promise I did not pay her for that last answer.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW Shout-Outs

This is the first year that I've celebrated Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I'm really enjoying it so far! I was thrilled that the Ning network I created for Book Bloggers in April 2008 was nominated for Best Book Club Blog. Although the network wasn't shortlisted, it has been fun just to be a part of this whole community experience.

Today I want to highlight five of the blogs that weren't shortlisted that I enjoy reading. I have over 80 book blogs in my Google Reader, and I wish I could list them all!
  • Melissa from Book Nut. This is one of the first book blogs I ever read about 2 1/2 years ago, and I never imagined there would come a day we would work on a blog post collaboratively. She has great taste in books, great recommendations, great posts, and a great heart.
  • Corinne from The Book Nest. I can't believe we've never met because I feel like we've known each other forever. Corinne has an amazing writing talent and reads an impressive array of books. But mostly, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call her 'friend'.
  • Luanne at A Bookworm's World. Luanne is one of the nicest bloggers out there. Period.
  • Jeanette at A Comfy Chair and a Good Book. Jeanette is going to have a baby girl any day now and I am so excited for her! She introduced me to D.E. Stevenson this year, and I have enjoyed those old books immensely.
  • Julie at My Own Little Corner of the World. Julie's blog is new to me as we were assigned as interview partners for BBAW (look for the interview tomorrow!). I have enjoyed getting to know her so much! Discovering new blogs and meeting bloggers like Julie is the essence of what I think BBAW should be about.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Book 2 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge
Book 4 of 4 for the RIP IV Challenge
Series: Book 2 of 3 (Hunger Games)
#2 on Fall 2009 Children's Indie Next List

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Melissa from Book Nut and I finished this book within a few hours of each other, so we decided to do a little review/chat with our thoughts. I've edited the conversation (I think) for spoilers, but Melissa has more on her review if you've already read it. Needless to say, we both loved this book and there was much gushing involved. Enjoy!

Melissa: Green
Tricia: Purple

So: are you Team Peeta or Team Gale? (Why is it that we feel a need to divide everything up into teams?)

So, going into the book, I was on Team Gale. I can't discount the lifelong friend thing. My parents were lifelong friends and it totally worked for them. But I think one of the things that I really felt like Collins did that Stephenie Meyer didn't manage for me, is really really make me torn between the two. But, because we've really seen so little from Gale in the two books, I'm having a hard time justifying my team. I really love Peeta, especially after reading this book.

That's a good point: you really couldn't root for one or the other, because they were both so good for Katniss.
Gale's never really been given a chance.

OK, so you are on Team Peeta I presume?

He's awesome, and Gale's so much in the background. I thought, too, that Peeta was stronger this time around, altruistic, yes, but also smart, savvy and able to manage himself, which is not something he did in Hunger Games.
I think Katniss needs him more than she needs Gale.

Definitely. There was something a little pathetic about him in the first book that was totally gone this book. Like he really grew up.
I think it will be hard for Gale to ever fully understand how much the Games has changed Katniss as a person, but Peeta will always have that for her.

You know one of the things I really liked in this book was how Peeta and Katniss needed each other to sleep through the night. I also liked that they managed without sex -- that their connection was something more elemental than passionate.

Yeah. That was sort of sexy too. Kind of Twilight-ish.
Were you surprised by what happened in this book?

I was going along the book, and then I hit page 174 and it totally threw me for a loop!

Yeah, some of it I anticipated, and other things just had me shocked. And Collins manages to do it BAM at the end of the chapter so you have to keep reading!

I thought she'd leave the games behind in this book...go political. And she did, in a way. Well, not in a way. She did. Just not in the way I was expecting.

Yeah, I was expecting a more traditional uprising I guess.

And we got some of that. But, the whole ending...... that was surprising.

I think Collins does a fabulous job with the minor characters. Even annoying Effie and the crying stylists. I love them all!

True. Actually, the only person I still really didn't like was Katniss herself. She's still too black-and-white, though she's less so than in Hunger Games.

You know, I never really thought about it that way, but I agree with you. She's still immature. I think this book really highlighted that, especially with Peeta growing up so much.
So, usually 2nd books in a trilogy are a little rougher for me than the rest. But this one wasn't. What do you think made this book so different from normal 2nd books?

Perhaps it's because Collins didn't do what we expected her to do? If you think about it, not much really happened in this book. It's still mostly foundational.

Yeah, she seems like she's got a really clear direction she's headed. She's not distracted in her writing.

No. That's so true. She's a very tight, very descriptive writer. I don't feel like she's telling us more than we need to know, which is probably why it's such an intense reading experience.

Favorite character?

This book: Peeta. Yours?

Haymitch. Because, like in HG, there is so much more to him than what we're really seeing
and that he knows more about getting out of the area alive than anyone else. And then there's the end...WOW

I think his drunkeness is a mask for something bigger, and Collins hinted at that in the end. He's very complex.

I hope he's more sober in the next book though.

I actually really don't like Johanna, and I think that's a good thing. How I can dislike someone who's on the right side?...that's talented writing.

That's a good point.
It's easy to like the likable people and hate the bad ones, but to write someone unlikable who is on the good side...

Favorite scene -- I think I liked the one with Katniss in the woods when she met the escapees from District 8. It gave us a hint of something bigger that was going on, yet managed to not give too much away, and it let us see a bit more into Katniss's world.

OK, I will probably change my mind 1/2 dozen times, but I really liked the scene when the fence goes back online and she gets hurt coming home. And how everyone at home reacts and plays dumb when the Peacekeepers are there. It was serious and funny all at the same time.

Which is really what Collins does best.
Hunger Games was a good criticism of popular society and reality television...But I don't think this one was as much, do you?

No, I felt like it was much more it's own world this time.

Which do you think is the better book?

I think I'll go with Hunger Games just because it was first.

I think I liked Catching Fire better because it was less commentary on society and more a straight-up adventure.

I don't think we could go wrong with either, truth be told.

Source: Purchased

Friday, September 11, 2009

NutureShock Blog Tour

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Publication Date: September 3, 2009
Publisher: Twelve
ISBN: 978-0-446-50412-6
Price: $24.99
Pages: 352

Book 1 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite having four kids, I haven't read very many parenting books. But when I got a chance to participate in this blog tour, I jumped at the chance. This seemed like a different kind of parenting book, and I was not disappointed.

This book addresses common beliefs or practices of modern-day parenting and then proves through research how we have been getting it wrong. While the book is very readable, everything in it is completely backed up by detailed notes, sources and references. Some of the topics include:
  • Why praising your child's intelligence might not be such a good thing
  • How less sleep is radically affecting young children today
  • Why we need to talk about race and skin color with young kids
  • Why kids lie and how we can effectively address lying
  • How testing in the early school years is not successful at identifying the gifted
  • Why arguing with a teenager may not be such a bad thing
  • Why siblings really fight
  • Better ways to encourage toddlers to talk
Each chapter tackles a different area of current childhood development research. Some of the information was not new to me. Some parts made me feel vindicated in some of my personally-held, but unpopular, parenting beliefs. Some things made me stop and think about ways I could do better with my own kids. And some things I flat out didn't agree with at all.

This book made me think, and whether I agreed with it or not, I found reading it to be a very worthwhile endeavor. I do wish there had been a little more overall cohesion to the book, but I definitely recommend this for all parents and teachers.

On a personal note, I have to tell you that my three-year old was very disturbed by the crack in the egg on the front cover. She said, "Uh-oh Mommy! Your book is broken!"

This is the last day of this blog tour. Please visit these other stops:
Thanks to Anna at Hachette for the opportunity to participate in this tour!

Source: Publisher

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country (Cecelia and Kate, Book 1) Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Book 100 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 3 of 4 for the RIP IV Challenge
Book 30 of 50 for the New Author Challenge

Series: Book 1 of 3 (Cecelia and Kate)
Awards: VOYA: The Perfect Tens; YALSA Best Books for YA

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel combines two of my favorite bookish elements--novels written in letter form and novels set in Regency England. Add to that, an alternate reality where magic is part of everyday life, and you are in for a good time.

Cecelia and Kate are best friends and cousins who are apart for the summer. Kate goes to London for her first Season while Cecy must stay behind in Essex, and so their only form of communication is through letters. The Season starts off interesting for Kate as she is nearly poisoned. Cecy has odd things happening in the country as she is being stalked by a young man. And Oliver, Cecy's brother, has apparently been turned into a tree. It becomes clear that the girls are dealing with evil sorcerers, but the girls are in over their heads...or are they?

Interestingly, this novel was originally written as a writing exercise by the authors. They had so much fun creating the characters and writing the letters, that eventually they put it all together and were able to have it published. I will say that there were times at the beginning that I could tell the authors weren't sure where they were going with the story. But, it was neat to see how they worked together without any foresight for the plot and wrapped it up nicely at the end.

This book was just plain fun. It wasn't perfect, but it was perfectly enjoyable. I would recommend it for girls aged 12+.

Also reviewed by:
Have I missed yours? Did you read this one in your pre-blogging days?

Source: BookMooch

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Life in Books Meme

I've seen this around a few places and thought I'd play along. I used the books I've read so far this year to answer the questions:

Describe yourself:
I Am a Mother (Jane Clayson Johnson)

How do you feel?
Among the Mad (Jacqueline Winspear)

Describe where you currently live:
Tales from Outer Suburbia (Shaun Tan)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)

Your favorite form of transport:
Along for the Ride (Sarah Dessen)

Your best friend is . . . ?
Perfect You (Elizabeth Scott)

You and your friends are . . .?
Southern Ladies and Gentlemen (Florence King)

What’s the weather like?
Last Days of Summer (Steve Kluger)

Favourite time of day?
Unwind (Neal Shusterman)

What is life to you?
Every Soul a Star (Wendy Mass)

Your fear?
The Midwife (Jennifer Worth)

What is the best advice you have to give?
Just Listen (Sarah Dessen)

Thought for the Day?
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Ally Carter)

How I would like to die:
Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)

My soul’s present condition?
Best Intentions (Emily Listfield)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tears of Pearl

Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander

Book 99 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 2 of 4 for the RIP IV Challenge
Series: Book 4 of ? (Lady Emily)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first three books in this series which I read earlier this year: And Only to Deceive, A Poisoned Season, and A Fatal Waltz. It is so hard to review a book in a series without giving anything away from the others, so I'll try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

As Lady Emily travels on the Orient Express headed to Constantinople, there is an incident on the train involving a member of staff from the British embassy. When she arrives in the city and a member of the sultan's harem is brutally murdered, she believes there is a connection. As she investigates, she gains access and insight into the sultan's households, but the intrigue and treachery continues, putting Lady Emily's life in danger.

I really enjoyed the setting for this installment. I think the historical fiction element of this book was especially well-done. I knew very little about the sunset days of the Ottoman Empire in a unique city that bridges the Western and Eastern worlds, but Alexander's descriptions were rich in detail and I learned quite a bit. The mystery/suspense was mostly ho-hum (I figured out the murderer pretty early on, I just didn't have the motive), but the romance element was flat.

Overall, I liked this book, just not as much as the others in this series (which I wholeheartedly recommend). There is usually at least one book in a series which falls a little short compared the others, and I'm hoping this is the one. I'm looking forward to reading more of Lady Emily's adventures in the future.

Source: Purchased