Friday, August 18, 2006

No Bones About It: Reichs Knows Her Stuff

Okay, so Kathy Reichs' newest, Break No Bones, isn't as original as some of her other books, but it is just as compelling. The novel stars one of my favorite characters in crime fiction: Temperance Brennan. "Tempe" is a forenisc anthropologist who works cases in both The United States and Canada. In this story, she is digging with a group of students in South Carolina when some grisly remains are discovered. As a favor to her coroner friend, Tempe studies the body, finding strange marks on the bones. Since her friend is battling her own issues, Tempe agrees to take on the case, which will change "[her] dig, [her] summer, and [her] views on human nature."

To complicate matters further, Tempe's estranged husband has taken up temporary residence in the same beach house where Tempe is staying. This situation doesn't go over well with her boyfriend, Detective Andrew Ryan. When both men end up at the beach house to help with Tempe's case, things get very complicated. Her personal life is always just as interesting as her current case!

Reichs is a talented writer, who also happens to be an expert in forensic anthropology, a field in which she has worked for many years. She has been accused of using too much jargon in her stories, but I believe she uses just enough to be interesting without being overwhelming. Her plots are always taut and exciting; her characters (even down to Tempe's pet dog and cat) believable and rich in personality; and her cases fascinating. If you love CSI, Reichs is for you.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Slavery: A New Perspective

So much has been written about slavery it's hard to believe that there are still fresh insights out there, but pick up The Known World by Edward P. Jones, and you will find some. This Pulitzer-prize winning novel focuses on Henry Townsend, a freed slave who becomes wealthy enough to own his own plantation, complete with a passel of slaves. All of his property is strictly controlled. When he dies, however, the operation of his estate falls into the hand of his wife, Caldonia, who weakly tries to keep things together. Although the slaves admire the "missus," several see their chance at freedom and take it. Soon, the plantation has dissolved into chaos, with slaves escaping, fighting among the men, and a troublesome overseer trying to procure his freedom by seducing Caldonia. The novel stays mainly with Henry and Caldonia, but it also offers perspectives from every corner of the plantation, from slaves to their owners, to the local sheriff and his patrollers, to various friends and foes of the Townsends. It is a compelling look at slavery, with all of its moral complexities.

While I found this book interesting, I can't say I really liked it. The storyline is very disjointed, although in an artsy kind of way. I found few of the characters to be likable. Make no mistake, the book is extremely well written, it's just not a story you can read casually. Would I recommend reading it? Yes, for the fresh and incredibly interesting view on slavery, no, if you are looking for an easy, well-plotted story.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

An Inspirational Read

I finally finished one of the two books I've been reading lately, The Peacegiver by James L. Ferrell. On its surface, the book is about an LDS couple that is struggling to keep their marriage together. As Rick stews and frets about his relationship with his wife, he dreams of his beloved grandfather, who had passed away. In the dream, Grandpa Carson takes Rick on a journey of discovery, "showing" him scriptural stories to teach him about Christ's Atonement. As Rick "travels" with his grandfather, he realizes that the only way to save his marriage is to follow Christ's example of unconditional love. The frame story (which is rather cheesy and not very well written anyway) is really only a tool to help us better understand the Atonement and how it relates to our everyday lives. Ferrell analyzes scripture and the Atonement itself in such depth that you will look at the familiar scripture passages in an entirely different way than you have before. And, as you work with Rick to apply these new insights to his situation, you will realize how you can implement them in your own lives. The message of the book is really about turning to the Lord for help with your own sins and shortcomings, then trying your best to see other people as Christ sees them.

My husband and I have had this book sitting in our master bathroom for several weeks now, and we have been reading it simultaneously. We have had many great discussions because of it; it's been amazing to see how differently we interpret the information we've read. We were both deeply impacted by the book, and I think it's helped us to look more closely at our own sins and less judgmentally at others'. Whether or not you're LDS, I think this is a great, thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogging About Books

Welcome to the new home of my reading journal. I think a blog will be an easier format for my book reviews and recommendations. Right now, I'm "double-booked," or right in the middle of 2 books. I'll post when I finish one of them. For now, welcome and enjoy!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Michael L. Printz Project

Who: Suey and Jessica, hosts

What: A challenge to read all of the Printz Award-winning books

Where: All the info is here

When: Ongoing

Why: To find more great books, of course!

The List


Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi - my review

Stolen by Lucy Christopher - my review

Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Nothing by Janne Teller


Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Punkzilla by Adam Rapp

Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973 by John Barnes


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - my review

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart - my review

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan


The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox

One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke

Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - my review


Looking for Alaska by John Green

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography by Elizabeth Partridge

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson


how i live now by Meg Rosoff - my review

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt


The First Part Last by Angela Johnson - my review

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly - my review

Keesha’s House by Helen Frost

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - my review


Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - my review

My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos


A Step From Heaven by An Na

The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson

Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art by Jan Greenberg Abrams

Freewill by Chris Lynch

True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff


Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond

Many Stones by Carolyn Coman

The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman


Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Skellig by David Almond

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - my review

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

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