December 22nd, 2008
Susanna Clark - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - 198The gentlemen among my readers will smile to themselves and say that women never did understand business, but the ladies may agree with me that Mrs Brandy understood her business very well, for the chief business of Mrs Brandy's life was to make Stephen Black as much in love with her as she was with him.

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

December 17th, 2008

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin HobbYoung Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill -- and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

A young boy is abandoned and left in the charge of the prince's men; the boy, they've said, is the prince's bastard. It is more than irony that descends upon the royal family when news that Prince Chivalry, at least in one act, has not lived up to his name. Upon some assemblance of acceptance, the young boy begins his education -- bastard or not, the son of a prince should be educated in books and battle. He also secretly begins his other training -- as an assassin for the king.

While Robin Hobb's work was basically recommended to me as a whole, this particular series, The Farseer, was said to be her best. I love the idea of a boy from a very young age being trained to do the king's most secret bidding. And just like that I am engrossed in these books.

I am pleased with the recommendation so far. Much of the action in the first book happens elsewhere and is then retold, rather than our young protagonist being there to experience everything first-hand. And there was a lot of setup in the first book, but that is fine because there was a lot to set up. By the end of the book, things are really set in motion and there is a great momentum that will carry me forward. I just hope that the momentum continues when I delve into book 2.

After one book I love that this is a three-book series. I am currently in the middle of a few series that seem neverending. My opinion may change as I get deeper into the trilogy, but for now I am excited for my next dose of Robin Hobb.

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December 16th, 2008
F. Scott Fitzgerald - This Side of Paradise - 195"Life is too huge and complex. The world is so overgrown that it can't lift its own fingers, and I was planning to be such an important finger --"

Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

December 15th, 2008

Black Powder War by Naomi NovikAfter their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty's Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn -- thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master's death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte's implacable army?

As Captain Laurence is about to make his slow way back to England, an urgent message is delivered to him. Ultimately, his orders change so that he must hurry to Turkey to pick up three dragon eggs that England has purchased. To make it in time, Capt. Laurence, his crew, and his dragon Temeraire must travel across the uncharted expanses of land that lie between China and Turkey.

Barring some unforeseen event, this is the last book in the Temeraire series that I plan to read. In my review of book 1 (I left it out of the review for book 2) I have described before that Captain Will Laurence is a drab and uncharismatic leading man. I was hoping to see a change in his demeanor and that has not yet happened. It still may, but there are too many other books I could read instead of waiting for him to become more interesting. And to make matters worse he seems to be really affecting Temeraire. The dragon has always been a free thinker and has bucked authority, trying to balance out how obsequious Capt. Laurence is. Through three books, now the relationship is beginning to strain and it is frustrating.

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December 5th, 2008
John Irving - The World According to Garp - 76"And any place can be artistic," Garp later wrote, "if there's an artist working there."

Book of the Month - December, 2008

December 3rd, 2008

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

Tree of Smoke by Denis JohnsonTree of Smoke is the story of William "Skip" Sands, CIA -- engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong -- and the disasters that befall him. It is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert and into a war where the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In the words of Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times, Tree of Smoke is "bound to become one of the classic works of literature produced by that tragic and uncannily familiar war."

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November 7th, 2008
Neil Gaiman - American Gods - 405Shadow had noticed that you only ever catch one episode of shows you don't watch, over and over, years apart; he thought it must be some kind of cosmic law.

Book of the Month - November, 2008

October 21st, 2008

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboskystanding on the fringes of life...

offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A Wallflower.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

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October 20th, 2008
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - The Cabinet of Curiosities - 66Pendergast turned his pale eyes on her. "My methods are unothodox, but they have one advantage."
"And what is that?"
"They work."

The 2008 Man Booker Prize WINNER!

October 14th, 2008

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction (from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth). One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year. Congratulations to last year's winner Anne Enright for her novel The Gathering.

The White Tiger by Aravind AdigaThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Complete 2008 Nominee List