Friday, March 25, 2011

Perseus Rocks!

How many of you read Bulfinch's Mythology in high school?  How many of you liked it?  If you DIDN'T like it, I have the perfect solution for you.  If you DID like it, I have a great recommendation for you: read Percy Jackson and the Olympians!

Actually, this series consists of 5 books:

The Lightning Thief
The Sea of Monsters
The Titan's Curse
The Battle of the Labyrinth
The Last Olympian

Author Rick Riordan has created a world full of heros, demigods, monsters and gods, (with a small "g"), but he has set that world right here in the USA.  In current times.  Why not?  Mount Olympus, the home of the gods that is, used to be in Greece which used to be the center of the civilized world.  Then it moved to Rome.  Now it's on the 600th floor of the Empire State building.  And Hades is under Los Angeles, which makes sense if you've ever been stuck in traffic on the 405.

Although these books are probably aimed at 4th grade and up kiddos, I think they are perfect for all ages.  So set logic aside, brush up on your mythological knowledge and get ready for a wild ride...on a Pegasus, of course!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Rate

It has been suggested that I do a sidebar with a list of the books I've read with ratings for each.  Well, since I haven't figured out the sidebar yet I've decided to make a short list here with a 1 to 5 star rating.  However, this is a blog about the books I LOVE, so there probably won't be many under 4 stars.  Let me know if this is helpful, or how to do a sidebar!!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand                               
To Fetch a Thief
Little Bee
Moscow Rules
Cutting for Stone
Three Cups of Tea
Cold Sassy Tree
The Girl in the Green Raincoat
A Guide to the Birds of South Africa
The Little Book
The Good Thief
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
The Lightning Thief

Hmmm...with the possible exception of Moscow Rules, I think I have to give them all 5 stars.  They are all different but all outstanding in their own way.  And I liked Moscow Rules, just not as much as the others.  Maybe this isn't such a great idea after all!  I DO read books I can't stand, but I don't want to turn people off a book just because I don't like it.  What do you think about a rating system?  What about just a list?  HELP!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

What an overused expression THAT has become, but none is better to express the soul of the book I've just finished. Imagine what you would do if you did not have enough money to pay the most basic of bills.  Now imagine having no money and 10 children.  What if you had no money, 10 children AND an alcoholic husband who drank away his pay check? You're probably thinking some combination of birth control, divorce and job, but this is the 1950's and none of those things are really an option.  How about, finish a jingle for Dr. Pepper and earn a "major prize"?  That is exactly what Evelyn Ryan did in The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less).

Written by Terry Ryan, this is the true story of her mother Evelyn Ryan, her father Kelly and their 10 boisterous children. (And I DO mean boisterous!  This is not the Waltons.)  Evelyn was definitely given lots of lemons, but she was an extraordinary woman who found humor in almost everything life dropped in her lap and used her quick wit and great attitude to repeatedly save her family's bacon.  Evelyn lived in the unique time period of the 50's and 60's when companies marketed products though public contests.  She entered every contest available, and despite the poor odds, she was amazingly successful.  She also succeeded in teaching her children to never give up, to love words, and strive for the best.

Defiance, Ohio is the perfect setting for this story, because it defines how Evelyn showed her children to live every day.  Defy the odds, and expect miracles.  Now, go make some lemonade and read this book!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"St. Anthony, St. Anthony turn around, something is lost and must be found."

The Good Thief is the story of Ren, a boy growing up in St. Anthony's monastery in 19th century New England.  The locals are not very friendly to the Catholic brothers, but they find it a convenient place to procure wine and lose unwanted children.  That was how the monastery became an orphanage, which is quite appropriate as St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things.

Ren is missing his left hand.  He wasn't born that way, it was somehow lost.  He knows he probably can't get his hand back, but he and the other boys pray to St. Anthony often.  Ren's prayers seem to be answered when handsome, charming Benjamin Nab appears and claims Ren as his brother, but is he really his brother, or just a Fagin to Ren's Oliver? You shall see!  A rollicking adventure filled with twists, turns, horror and mystery follows as Ren slowly unravels the answers to his past.

Thievery abounds in this story, but the real crime happens when you finish Hannah Tinti's quirky, imaginative first book.  It will steal your heart!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Not So Little Book

 In no way can The Little Book by Seldon Edwards be considered little.  Not that it's big-long like War and Peace or big-significant like The Origin of the Species.  It probably won't ruin your eyesight or change your view of the world.  What it is, however, is a big STORY.  So big, in fact, that it took the author almost four decades to finish!  After all, he had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of loose ends to tie up, which I am happy to report he was very successful in doing.  (I CAN'T STAND loose ends.) Now, back to the book...

One of the great perks of reading is it gives me the chance to travel far and wide without the hassle of packing, airport security and flying coach.  This book took me to Boston, the Sacramento Valley, San Francisco and Vienna right along with our hero, Wheeler Burden.  Excluding Vienna, pretty run-of-the-mill places you might say, except Wheeler was born in 1941 and lived an extraordinary life until 1988, when he somehow ended up in 1897 Vienna.  (Now, don't pooh-pooh time travel.  This is not The Terminator. It is much more real and fascinating.  And there's no Ahhnold.)  While in "Fin de Siecle" Vienna, (I'm not showing off.  That is an important expression in the book.), Wheeler meets Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Gustav Mahler, a young Adolf Hitler and various friends and relatives that all affect his life to come.  Herein lies the dilemna of time travel:  Do you have to right to change history?  Will those changes result in your own extinction?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Little Book.  Go forth and read!  Download some Strauss to your ITunes. Then let me know what you think.

Mary Kay