27 December 2006

Review: Forever Odd by Dean Koontz

After reading the first book of this series in July entitled Odd Thomas, I finally got around to reading the second book in the series: Forever Odd. Not as good as the first, I still enjoyed following Odd Thomas on his second documented crime busting adventure. The main character Datura was not nearly as frightening as the miles of underground tunnels Odd spent most of the story in.

At the end of this book, Odd Thomas is leaving his small home town of Pico Mundo to go and live in a monastery. Hopefully this will provide a different adventure altogether - I can't wait to read the third book!

Rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
21 December 2006

Merry Christmas 2006

Wishing all my faithful readers and random visitors (I know you're out there) a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

That's my four bucks!

Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield book coverI finished reading The Thirteenth Tale last week, and what a page turner!!! I'd seen this book on the shelves at least 12 months before I bought it, and was initially attracted by the cover. I know what you're thinking, but I always judge a book by it's cover, and in this case, the cover is of book spines... I know, the perfect lure for a book lover, and ultimately, it met its mark.

So what's it all about? Vida Winter is a successful author and she is dying. She decides to tell her life story, although she has done so on countless occasions, and each time she gives a different story! This time however, she is going to reveal the dark truth about her past. The story centres around twin girls, and reminded me a little of Flowers In The Attic, 2006 style.

I absolutely loved this book, despite reading several 'dull' reviews earlier in the year. I was definitely hooked and got through it in no time.

I am going to recommend it to my sister next.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
05 December 2006

Review: Satan In St Mary's by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty

Satan In St Mary's by Paul Doherty book coverAfter reading Paul Doherty's recent novel The Cup of Ghosts I was extremely eager to read his first medieval mystery featuring Hugh Corbett. The plot wasn't as exciting as The Cup of Ghosts, the incidental descriptions of medieval life kept the pages turning at a rapid rate. I love this genre, and it's enough to keep me wanting to read the remaining 13 novels in this series.

I'm looking forward to seeing how his style of storytelling develops over the ensuing novels. Hopefully one or two will find their way under the Christmas tree for me...

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
17 November 2006

Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Last week I finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, easily my favourite book of the year!! I enjoy reading historical fiction but this particular style/plot weaving was completely new to me. This novel is a combination of everything I love: mystery, danger, research, libraries, ancient ruins, murder, supernatural, ancient texts, and the basis for all this is vampire lore. 

What more could you ask for?

I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a thriller and the search for truth.

Book of the year!!

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
08 October 2006

Review: We Are Their Heaven by Allison DuBois

We Are Their Heaven by Allison DuBois book coverThis is the second book by Allison DuBois, the woman who inspired the TV show Medium.

I find her life and experiences fascinating, and this was a great read. My only criticism of the book is that her writing is poorly structured, and the chapters are not well organised. This was the same with her last book, but this is one author I will forgive without question, as she has an amazing gift.

This book will bring comfort to those who have ever wondered about the other side, or who have lost someone special to them.

Rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
30 September 2006

Review: September 11 - From The Inside by Rubram Fernandez

September 11 - From The Inside by Rubram Fernandez book cover
The anniversary of September 11 this year was accompanied by a myriad tv shows and documentaries. I watched them all of course.

Several months ago, I heard about a book called September 11 - From The Inside by Rubram Fernandez and ordered it from my favourite bookstore with the intention of reading it in September. After waiting two months for the book to be shipped from USA, I couldn't wait to read the novel claiming to 'stir deep emotion in the reader'. 

Well it certainly did do that, except the emotion was disappointment!!! This was the most ridiculous attempt at recreating the events from inside the World Trade Centre buildings, with pathetic descriptions. 

Here's one pathetically amusing excerpt: 
"the sight of dozens dead white doves made the scene remind one of a documentary on the effects of the atomic bomb."

It was almost an insult to the victims and their families to print such rubbish, and I'm annoyed now that I bought the book, but I was 'sucked in' by the subject matter.

Don't buy/read this book.

Carpe Librum!
21 September 2006

When to put a book aside

The last time I put a book down without ever intending to finish it was about 10 years ago, and the book was Moby Dick. In fact, there were several books in that era (University) that I didn't have the time or the will to finish.

Since then however, I always finish every book I start. This is probably why it took me two years to read Crime and Punishment, and one year to get through Anna Karenina. They were classics, sure, but just soooo boring.

So, imagine my dilemma, 361 pages into Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse when I realised that the book was boring, and just a waste of time? Sure, I could keep reading, but there is a stack of books waiting for me on my shelf, and another 330 pages of this book and probably another 600 pages in the sequel Dark Palace!!!

Well, I decided to take the advice from Sara Nelson and recognise when to put a book away for good. It's not like anyone cares if I finish it or not, and it's certainly not a crime.

Having made the decision, I feel quite relieved, almost as if the weight of 900 pages have been lifted from my shoulders! Quitting a book is okay!

That's my four bucks!
03 September 2006

Review: Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

I remember reading the Golden Books version of Pollyanna as a kid, and wanted to read the novel now given it's status as a classic. 

 I was very pleased to find that although the language has dated, the moral of the story is still very valid in today's society (usually the case in a classic). 

Pollyanna was an easy and uplifting read, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a break from reading heavy crime novels, and who need a little 'sunlight' between the pages.

Rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
02 August 2006

Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

This is the first science fiction book I've read in such a long time, and it felt good to immerse myself in a genre so alien to me (pun intended).

This is a book about a group of Jesuits and scientists that travel to a planet many light years away and meet two species of alien. Only one priest returns to Earth alive, and the book is a means to the priest's confession of what happened on planet Rakhat and his struggle with God.

Although it took me a while to follow in the beginning, the story quickly picked up, and soon I was racing through the 500 pages to a satisfying end. I just learned of a sequel to The Sparrow, although I haven't decided if I want to read it based on the direction of the plot.

Recommended to me by a friend, I immensely enjoyed The Sparrow, hailed as 'One of the year's most powerful and disturbing books' by The Times.

Rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
27 July 2006

State Library of Victoria in Melbourne

I went to the State Library today and had a terrific time. There is a free exhibition on at the moment called: Mirror of the World: Books and Ideas. The exhibition contains all types of rare and exquisite books from ancient texts to the classics.

It was amazing to see both the massive and miniature leather bound books from medieval times and to ponder their history.

I've included a photo of the impressive domed reading room for some inspiration. The State Library was a really relaxing place to visit and the exhibition is great, so go and see it!

That's my four bucks!
24 July 2006

Tired of this Phrase

If someone is 'working tirelessly', does this mean they don't get tired? According to dictionary definitions, this is exactly what it means.

I am sick and tired of the media misusing this phrase to incorrectly communicate their point.

That's my four bucks!
16 July 2006

Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas is an eccentric character with a special awareness and he certainly lives up to his name, Odd. This is the first in a new series by Dean Koontz and is a fast-paced story, which combines crime with the supernatural, in a kind of 'supernatural whodunnit'. 

I always enjoy reading Koontz, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, entitled Forever Odd.

Rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
07 July 2006

Review: So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson book coverSo Many Books, So Little Time is a terrific and engaging book about reading! The author, Sara Nelson makes a New Year's resolution to document a year of reading, and makes a list of books she wants to read. (Naturally I was hooked by the concept straight away). Nelson intends to read and review a book a week - quite a goal considering she is also an editor and reviewer!! Nelson quickly discovers that it's impossible to stick to her list and allows fate to bring the books to her.

Nelson's passion for reading is contagious, and it's hard not to be jealous of her cherry shelves and expansive library. Easy to read and full of comments and references to probably hundreds of books, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even added several books to my own book list after reading it.

I would highly recommend this book to any bookworm.

Rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
25 June 2006

Review: Death Dance by Linda Fairstein

Death Dance by Linda Fairstein book coverThis is the first book I've read by this author, who led the sex Crimes Unit of the DAs Office in Manhattan for 25 years before becoming a writer.

Despite a promising plug by James Patterson on the front, this book wasn't nearly as gripping as a typical JP book. However, I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in theatre and especially the magical behind-the-scenes world of Broadway. This book contained a fabulous insight into the world of musicals and theatres including the history and politics of the industry.

Rating = **

Carpe Librum!
23 June 2006

Proof Of Intelligent Life

Click on the cartoon to view in window.
17 June 2006

Review: The Cup Of Ghosts by Paul Doherty

The Cup Of Ghosts by Paul Doherty book coverSet in the early 1300s during the reign of Edward II, this is the first in a series by Paul Doherty about Mathilde of Westminster, the lady-in-waiting to Princess Isabella.

Mathilde escapes the persecution of the Templars, assumes a new identity and is placed in the service of Princess Isabella. An arranged marriage between Princess Isabella and Edward II sees them move from France to England. Mathilde has an in depth knowledge of herbal remedies and by 1322 was considered the finest physician in London.

This book was full of suspense, political intrigue and violence, coloured by Royal decadence - definitely a recipe to keep the pages turning quickly.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction, although this is the first time I've come across this author, who has written 14 books set in medieval times (which I can't wait to read).

I absolutely loved this book, and can't wait for the next one in the series.

Rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
14 June 2006

Book Crossing

I had never heard of Book Crossing until recently, but apparently it's a new hobby sweeping the globe.

The 3 R's of BookCrossing
  1. Read a good book (you already know how to do that)
  2. Register it at their website (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label it.
  3. Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone goes to the website and records a journal entry for that book. And if you make release notes on the book, others can go hunting for it and try to find it!
Pretty amazing huh? Not sure that I could part with my books like that though, and I think I would be too annoyed if someone picked it up and didn't register it on the website, and I lost track of it for good. I imagine this is an obsession waiting to happen, and that 'leaving' it in a coffee shop and running up to the stranger who has picked it up (2 hrs later) and saying 'you better register that' might not be in the spirit of BookCrossing.

Fascinating hobby though, what do you think?

That's my four bucks!
11 June 2006

Review: Cell by Stephen King

Cell by Stephen King book coverStephen King's latest novel Cell begins with a Pulse that turns people who use mobile phones crazy. Filled with Kings' predictable gore, the story follows the main character Clay, who leads a small band of normal people against the 'phone crazies'. The plot moves quickly and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this mindless tale. This novel is nowhere near the literary heights of The Green Mile but entertaining just the same. My favourite quote was on page 37:

"That tight little accent grated on Clay's frayed nerves. He thought that if it had been a fart, it would have been the kind that comes out sounding like a party-horn blown by a kid with asthma."

Very amusing, and typical of the King style of writing I'm quite fond of.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
28 May 2006

Review: Stillriver by Andrew Rosenheim

Stillriver by Andrew Rosenheim book cover
Stillriver is the first book I've read by Andrew Rosenheim, and it was a reasonably good murder mystery. 

The novel has an underlying theme of small town life and the conflicting emotions experienced by the main character when he returns to his small home town in Michigan. 

I found it hard to believe that he finally 'gets the girl' at the end, (his high school sweetheart) after so much turmoil and hardship over the preceding years.

Rating = **

Carpe Librum!
21 May 2006

Review: Da Vinci Code movie

The release of the much awaited film the Da Vinci Code has been met with negative reviews around the world. Well, I've just seen the movie myself, and can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it! The plot stayed true to the book, and I enjoyed the trail of art, historic buildings/locations, puzzles and codes. The conspiracies are thought provoking, and I find the objections to this film astonishing, given it is being presented as fiction, not fact.

I would definitely recommend it!

My rating = ****

That's my four bucks!
11 May 2006

Google Books!

My favourite website at the moment is from Google and is called: http://books.google.com/

You can google books by title and author, and view the contents/index page, front and back cover and sample pages of the book.

It's amazing and an absolute must for book lovers!

That's my four bucks!
30 April 2006

Review: A Time of Angels by Patricia Schonstein

I just finished reading A Time of Angels by Patricia Schonstein, and what a disappointment it was! This story was supposed to be based around two characters:

Primo, a soothsayer and magician raised on a rich diet of astronomy, philosophy and storytelling. 

Pasquale, an exquisite Italian chef, making fruited breads and salamis. He owns a bar and delicatessen. Both characters are Italian, but moved to Capetown, South Africa, after the Holocaust. Disjointed chapters, and far too many main characters thoroughly spoiled what could have been a nice little novel.

Not recommended.

My rating = *

Carpe Librum!
17 April 2006

Review: Spartan by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

Spartan by Valerio Massimo Manfredi book coverI just finished reading Spartan, by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, and it was brilliant!  Set in 504BC - 464BC in ancient Greece, this historical fiction novel was a thrilling read. The story begins in Sparta, and follows a young man born to a noble Spartan family, but abandoned due to his deformity. The boy is found by a Helot and raised as a servant to the Spartans. He later travels the world, and is torn between his upbringing and his heritage and the mystery surrounding his purpose.

An amazing story of courage and bravery and a fascinating look at the culture and laws of this period. Plenty of politics, intrigue, prophecy and war kept me engrossed for the duration of the book.

Highly recommended. 

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
28 March 2006

Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I had seen The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in book shops for many years, and always wondered what it was about. Why is it so famous, and why had millions of copies been sold all over the world? I was intrigued by the title, and curious to know why it was often in the 'Mind/Body/Spirit' category in my favourite bookstore (Borders).

Well, I finished reading this book yesterday, and am pleased to say I can now answer these questions. The Alchemist is a simple tale about a shepherd boy, and his search for meaning. He encounters many obstacles on his journey (Personal Legend) to Egypt, and meets several key characters that teach him many valuable life lessons. These lessons and his own observations of human nature are extremely relevant in today's society regardless of culture. Obviously this is a key reason the book is such a worldwide success.

If a person was struggling to find meaning in their life, or the courage to pursue a personal dream, I would certainly recommend this book. It is also worth reading for the little fables and truths along the way.

Rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
24 February 2006

Click Here for Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.


Go on, do it now!

That's my four bucks!
06 January 2006

Happy New Year 2006

Happy New Year to you all!!! 2006 has begun, and I'm struggling to believe this is the year I turn 30. I thought I would have all the answers by now, and even though I might not have figured it all out yet, I certainly have an opinion on everything, and you'll definitely find it here this year, so tune in.

That's my four bucks!