Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ahab's Wife

I finished reading this novel in March; however, with two Barnes & Noble First Look Books to read, I put off the review until now.

I enjoyed this novel. At times, I found certain scenes/chapters to be a bit tedious; however, for the most part, it was quite enjoyable. Ms. Naslund was able to create a memorable character and story that can stand on their own. Moby Dick, what is that? Well, there did need to be the slightest mention of a wife in the original classic in order for this novel to be believable. The idea was original and the plot held true to the events of Moby Dick. I found it satisfying to hear about the events from a woman's perspective. Any lengthy discription of whaling would have put me to sleep instantly. This is a beautifully written novel and would be perfect for a book club discussion. I recommend this book for those who like historical fiction (whether or not they have read Moby Dick).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book groups and cataloguing

Over the past year, I have discovered several book sites that allow you to catalogue your books, interact with fellow readers/bloggers, swap books, participate in reading challenges, preview advanced copies of books, and much more.

One of these book sites is LibraryThing. I joined LibraryThing almost a year ago. I was so excited that I had a place to store my books. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I was not able to do much with it. In fact, I think I was only able to catalogue one book and write a single review. Well, here we are one year later and I have made much progress. I have catalogued 165 books (only those that have been read during the last few years) and added two more reviews - I do hope to be able to fill in a review of all the books but, memory being what it is, I may have to re-read some of them.

After cataloguing my books, I then looked around LibraryThing. I read reviews by several other readers, joined a group or two and finalized my profile (nothing is ever final). This is where I found the capability of listing my homepage. Well, let me see ... what did I do with that information? I created my on blog page. My initial intent was to only put book reviews on this site. I may end up doing that but, I didn't want to lose any momentum so, I have posted non-book review items. I will try to keep all posts book related though.

Since the cataloguing went well on LibraryThing, I downloaded the free version of Libra 0.9.2 in order to have a private catalogue of my books on my own computer. I was able to export the LibraryThing catalogue and then import it into Libra. Looks okay.

I am a frequent participant in the Barnes & Noble First Look Program. This program provides Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to many B&N book club participants. I cannot tell you the number of individuals as B&N has never divulged this information. Needless to say, it seems to be a fairly large number. At the start, B&N provided the ARCs on a first come first receive basis, moderated topic discussions, and ultimately an on-line discussion with group members, the book editor, and the author. I have a feeling that the way the books are distributed is changing and will be based upon participation - posting during the discussion and possibly writing a review. This is a fantastic program!

I joined the Harper Collins First Look Program several years ago. This is also a program that provides ARCs. Their selection criterion is different that B&N. They require you to write a blurb indicating your reason for wanting to read the book in question. This write-up must be submitted by a certain deadline (each book is different). I also think that the number of books is substantially less than the number provided during a B&N First Look; however, I have never seen the number of books available. I have NEVER received one of these ARCs and I have been participating for over two years. Recently, they sent a survey to the First Lookers implying the possibility of revamping their First Look program.

I am also considering joining the St. Martin's Read-it-First e-mail book club. Each weekday morning they will send samples from the current week's selected book. By the end of the week, they promise that I will have read approximately several chapters from said book.

Be sure to check out some of the blogs I have decided to follow and let me know of any others that spark your interest.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just Bunny

It was early evening and the brilliant red and orange hues of the recently set sun were still visible on the horizon. Standing in front of a wire mesh window screen, I felt a cool wind. I shivered slightly from the chill in the night air, sighed, closed my eyes and took a slow deep breathe. As I exhaled, I sat down, leaned into the window and rested my elbows atop the paint chipped window sill. Staring out into the trees that marked the edge of the property, a feeling of overpowering sadness swept through me. I was saying goodbye.

I carefully took one last look around the room. Something familiar caught in the corner of my eye. I walked towards it and slowly bent to pick it up. “Ahhh! It’s you – my best friend.” I gave you a hug as we sat down on the edge of my bed. Together we looked out the window, as we had done so many times in the past. You were always there for me when I needed a friend. We would talk for hours into the night. Actually, I talked and you listened. You were more of the silent type. Everything seems different now. Still, off in the distance are those magic trees. Their magic was in the laughter that they brought to a small child and her best friend. Oh how we laughed as they changed shaped. With each gust of wind they became an elephant in a hot air balloon, a panda bouncing on the clouds and much, much more. Sitting with you and looking out at the trees always took my troubles away. Now, ….

I place you in your favorite spot on the bed. Oh, how tattered and worn you have become. When did that happen? I remember everything so clearly – the sadness, the laughter, and most of all, your adventures. I was there when you tried to fly. You were off to a great start. Slowly, you swung yourself back and forth over the headboard but then you lost control. You knocked out the window screen and flew into the darkness of night. You appeared to hover in midair for several minutes before landing in the grass two floors below. Even though you lost an ear during that adventure, your zest for life never diminished. You lost your other ear to an angry sibling. How did you lose your eye? I don’t know. Maybe it was the time you decided to run alongside my bike or maybe it was the time you decided to parachute jump off the couch. Oh well, I’m sure that I will eventually remember that misadventure.

Let me take a closer look. No, you are not tattered and worn, just loved. Slowly I get up, straighten my clothing and turn to leave for the last time; you ask “Will you miss me?” “Always”, I answer. “Will you forget me?”, “Never!” is my reply. I begin my trek down the upstairs hallway, the floorboards groaning with each step. Each groan a reflection of your tears.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

A fabulous debut novel! Through the use of descriptive language, Ms. Howe is able to create an atmosphere where the reader can see, hear, smell and feel as if he/she were witnessing events, people and places of both the past and the 'current' times. The shifting between time periods flows seamlessly and the events/emotions of each time parallel one another. The Physicks Book of Deliverance Dane is both a mystery and a story of a young woman discovering herself. This is a unique story about a graduate student who is sidetracked by a mystery involving the Salem witch trials while preparing for her dissertation. Ms. Howe, a descendant of two women involved in these trials, presents a fresh view on this topic. It is a great read for those who like historical fiction and/or mysteries. I was fortunate to read an advance copy of this book through the Barnes and Noble First Look program and participate in an on-line discussion with the author. I highly recommend this book to others.

This book would be a great summertime read! If you can't wait for the release date, June 9th, 2009, check out The Physick Book page.

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