Saturday, March 25, 2006

Book 33: Here Come the Penguins

TITLE: Here Come the Penguins
AUTHOR: Sara Maynard
STARTED: March 25, 2006
FINISHED: March 25, 2006
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: The penguins had started on their winter journey - and what a journey it was, full of excitement and happiness, and chatter and games and making plans, and even quarreling!

SUMMARY: The penguins march to the rookery to lay their nests. The story follows the Emperor, his wife Queenie, and their son Penny.

REASON FOR READING: I was checking in books for our Juvenile collection at the library and came across it. I can never turn anything involving penguins down.

THOUGHTS: It was a cute story that reminded me of a cross between the documentary "March of the Penguins" and the animated film "The Pebble and the Penguin." What I really loved about this story were the subliminal messages. The book was published in 1942 and it doesn't really hide it's "pro-gender roles" themes that well. The male penguins enforce law and order, bring home the bacon, and look bored at the women. The women penguins keep house, coddle their children, and gossip. This book was quite funny at times... but only because I'm not a 7 year old reading it.

MISCELLANEOUS: Illustrations = Awesome

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Going back to the library.
RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

CR: No clue.
RN: Also, no clue.

Book 32: The Devil's Waltz

TITLE: The Devil's Waltz
AUTHOR: Anne Stuart
STARTED: March 20, 2006
FINISHED: March 22, 2006
PAGES: 378
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: The Honorable Miss Annelise Kempton did not suffer fools gladly.

SUMMARY: [From] Christian Montcalm was a practical man, if a destitute scoundrel, but his plan to bed and wed the delectable Miss Hetty Chipple would take care of that sticky wicket. However, there was a most intriguing obstacle to his success.

Annelise Kempton desired nothing more than to come between this despicable rogue and the fortune (and virtue) of her young charge. Certainly, Annelise understood the desperation that comes from hard times, but Montcalm would fail - she would personally see to it. All that stood in her way was a man whose rakish charm could tempt a saint to sin, or consign a confirmed spinster to sleepless nights of longing... to give the devil his due.

REASON FOR READING: I read that it was good on someone's blog.

THOUGHTS: There are so many reasons to hate Christian Montcalm, and, yet, I still fell in love with his character. He was so evil that he should have been easy to hate. He didn't care about anyone but himself (most of the time) and he had no problem ruining the reputations and feelings of others. However, there was something redeeming about his character. He just narrowly avoids being classified as an arrogant jackass. I don't know what Stuart did to make me love this character, but I do love him. The rest of the characters and plot were just "meh" to me. It was Montcalm that made this a highly enjoyable read.

MISCELLANEOUS: The title really doesn't mean anything.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBSing (but I had to think about it with this book)
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Here Come the Penguins by Sara Maynard
RN: Probably another romance novel

Monday, March 20, 2006

Book 31: The Sandman: The Wake

TITLE: The Sandman: The Wake
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
STARTED: March 19, 2006
FINISHED: March 20, 2006
PAGES: 184
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: And it came to pass that a messenger was sent out to each member of the family.

SUMMARY: [From] Sandman: The Wake is comprised of the last six issues of the regular Sandman comic book series. The first three cover the actual wake of Morpheus, King of Dreams. In this story within a story characters from the series meet to remember and pay their respects to the fallen immortal. In eulogies which alternate between respect, praise and villification, the Dream Lord's character is summed up and his flaws laid bare to, literally, all the world.

In the final chapter of The Wake the reader is returned to an earlier time in the saga of the Sandman, when an aging "William Shekespeare" having just completed his final play "The Tempest," commissioned at the bequest of the Dream Lord, reflects on his life, his struggles, tragedies and a bargain for greatness he made with Morpheus many years earlier. In perhaps the series' most poignant line, a statement which ironically becomes the Sandman's own epitaph, Morpheus reveals that he made the bargain because

"...I am the King of Stories, but I have no story of my own."

Carefully balancing melancholy and tragedy with hope and determination the beautifully illustrated and even more beautifully written Sandman: The Wake stands counter to Morpheus' own words and serves as an extraodinary ending to one of the most incredible stories in the history of comics.

REASON FOR READING: It's almost the end. *tear*

THOUGHTS: I felt like this book helped me (and the author) say goodbye to Morpheus. There was a sorrowful and, yet, rejoiceful tone to this installment of the series. I enjoyed how Gaiman incorporated so many forms of mourning into this work. The last chapter was perfect. For a book about stories within stories, it was nice to see it end in that same trend.

MISCELLANEOUS: The art for this book was quite different from the rest of the series.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to Pete
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Devil's Waltz by Anne Stuart
RN: Not a clue.

Books 25-30: Y: The Last Man

NUMBER: 25-30
TITLE: Y The Last Man
AUTHOR: Brian K. Vaughan
STARTED: March 17, 2006
FINISHED: March 19, 2006
PAGES: 840
GENRE: Graphic Novels


SUMMARY: [From] Yorick Brown is an escape artist; has a fabulous girlfriend who's traveling in Australia; and possesses a genetic make-up that's allowed him to survive a plague that killed every male being on the planet except for him and his pet monkey. Yorick is the last man on earth, and in the resulting chaos, he must find a way to help save the human race. At least that's what the (now all-female) government thinks. Yorick would prefer to find his girlfriend, but it's hard to get a flight halfway around the world when almost all the pilots and mechanics are gone. It's hard enough to drive down the block, since the streets are jammed with the cars of men who were behind the wheel when the instantaneous plague hit. Furthermore, the entire social fabric has gone to hell, with gun-wielding wives of Republican representatives insisting on getting their husbands' seats and tribes of latter-day Amazons claiming males were meant to die.

Since Yorick's mother is a congresswoman, he's protected by secret spies. And his escape skills come in handy when he's trapped first by a marauding garbage-woman and then by his mother, as she tries to keep him from doing anything stupid. Meanwhile, who are the mysterious Israeli soldiers who seem so gratified by the situation, and why is Yorick's sister so intent on joining the Amazons?

REASON FOR READING: Everyone else in my apartment had...

THOUGHTS: I'm reviewing the first six books in this series together because I read them too quickly to really set them apart from one another.

This series is highly addictive and a fantastic read. The way the author blends facts with narrative is so seamless that it is hard to stop reading. Yorick (what a hottie) is a great character. It is very interesting to see the male author describe what it would be like to be the last man on earth. What I really enjoy about this book is how realistic the scenario seems. It really goes to show what living in a patriarchal society means.

Also, I enjoy all the kickass females in the story.

MISCELLANEOUS: What I want to know his, how the hell did Vaughan come up with this idea.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): I do not own them, sadly enough. I might have to go out and buy mny own set.
RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

CR: The Sandman: The Wake by Neil Gaiman
RN: The Devil's Waltz by Anne Stuart

Book 24: Hope's Captive

TITLE: Hope's Captive
AUTHOR: Kate Lyon
STARTED: March 11, 2006
FINISHED: March 14, 2006
PAGES: 375
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "Wake up, thief!"

SUMMARY: [From the back of the book] Zach McCallister was a man on a mission. His son had been kidnapped by the Cheyenne, and he vowed to find the boy against all odds. All he needed was someone to get him into the Cheyenne camp before the Indians broke their reservation treaty and bolted for Montana, taking Luke with them. And Caroline Whitley seemed to be the answer to his prayers. Rumored to be the wife of the Cheyenne chief, she needed Zach to deliver medicine to her husband and his people. But after long nights on the trail, Zach found himself hopelessly mesmerized by the inner strength of the determine beauty.

Caroline trusted only one man in her life: Little Wolf, the brave Cheyenne chief who saved her from an abusive Kiowa captor. One man, that is, until she met Zach. His very presence calmed her fears, and his gray eyes reassured her that he was a man of his word. But he through she was a married woman, beyond his reach; and until Caroline found the courage to open her heart and tell him the truth, she would remain... Hope's Captive.

REASON FOR READING: I read on a blog that it was better than the cover.

THOUGHTS: It was indeed better than the cover. I echo Super_Librarian when she says this was a "When bad covers happen to good books" incident.

Overall, I found this book to be well researched and well written. What I particularly enjoyed were all the details of life at the time that the author was able to throw into the narrative. I never would have considered how the Native Americans made it through the winter if Lyon had not put it in her novel.

Sadly, the characters, in my mind, had no chemistry. But, the were written with such depth that the lack of spark did not hurt the story. Also, there were so many other lesser characters that rounded out the book that, for me, this should not be a romance novel. I would have been just find reading a fictional story without all the cliches of romance the author dropped in.

My one other complaint is that Lyon jumps from scene to scene too quickly. I wish she had spent more time developing each scene as one whole chapter instead of chopping each scene up into little vignettes.

MISCELLANEOUS: Why is the male on the cover wearing buckskins? He never does that in the book.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Y The Last Man Brian K. Vaughan
RN: The Sandman: The Wake by Neil Gaiman

Saturday, March 11, 2006


To Pete:

You told me no such thing. Besides, even if you did I would have ignored your warning... mainly out of spite.

Mervyn is sooo cute. Particularly when Dream sneaks up on him and his eyes go all big like. I do, however, also have a fatal attraction to Lucien. All those books. *slobbers all over self - but not the books because that would be bad for them*

That is all for now,
The Owner of this Journal and the Gates behind (or in front of) the Books

Book 23: The Sandman: The Kindly Ones

TITLE: The Sandman: The Kindly Ones
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
STARTED: March 5, 2006
FINISHED: March 11, 2006
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Graphic Novels

FIRST SENTENCE: There's a dream in which huge faceless women with wolves astride them are chewing at my entrails and legs.

SUMMARY: [From] Distraught by the kidnapping and presumed death of her son, and believing Morpheus to be responsible, Lyta Hall calls the ancient wrath of the Furies down upon him. A former superheroine blames Morpheus for the death of her child and summons an ancient curse of vengeance against the Lord of Dream. The "kindly ones" enter his realm and force a sacrifice that will change the Dreaming forever.

REASON FOR READING: Do I really need to explain this by now?

THOUGHTS: Aside from the Forward COMPLETELY GIVING AWAY THE ENDING!!! I loved this part of the series. Seeing Dream completely "lose it" (for lack of a better term) was just fascinating to read. There's not much I could say in response to finishing it. It was a great book and a great series.

Good thing for me there are two epilogue type books to it.


KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to Pete, like all the rest of them.
RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

CR: Hope's Captive by Kate Lyon
RN: Hopefully the next to last The Sandman book.

Book 22: Decoding Advertisements

TITLE: Decoding Advertisements
AUTHOR: Judith Williamson
STARTED: February 4, 2006
FINISHED: March 9, 2006
PAGES: 180
GENRE: Media Studies

FIRST SENTENCE: Advertisements are one of the most important cultural factors moulding and reflecting our life today.

SUMMARY: [From] How to read the hidden ideological messages in advertising,not merely to make us buy things to sustain the economic status quo but also to maintain and encourage the social conditions which make these things seem necessary.

REASON FOR READING: Assigned in MDIA 524: The Rhetoric of Advertising

THOUGHTS: Aside from her love of run-on sentences (Seriously how often can you use semi-colons and commas to extend the life of a sentence? Let it die already.), this book was not bad. She has great insights into the thinking and manipulating that goes into advertising. Her use of past psychoanalytic thinkers only helps her argument. However I sometimes think Williamson goes WAY over the top with some of her readings. I can't give advertisers THAT much credit.

MISCELLANEOUS: A very dense book. Thank god it was short.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Selling back.
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Sandman: The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman
RN: Hope's Captive by Kate Lyon

Book 21: The Captain's Lady

TITLE: The Captain's Lady
AUTHOR: Margaret McPhee
STARTED: March 1, 2006
FINISHED: March 5, 2006
PAGES: 298
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: 'Mr Paxton, you're mistake in your assumption!'

SUMMARY: [From the back of the book] When dashing Lord Nathaniel Hawke rescued a girl from drowning the last thing he expected was for that same girl to turn up on board his ship - disguised as a boy! Respected naval captain of the Pallas, Nathaniel had to conceal her identity from his men.

For ship's boy George - alias Miss Georgiana Raithwaite - running away seemed her only escape from a cruel impending marriage. Never did she imagine that her disguise would see her scrubbing decks on the high seas... in extremely close proximity to Lord Nathaniel Hawke!

Forbidden desires taunted them on their stormy voyage to Gibraltar. But with reputations at stake their secret must be kept, as exposure could ruin them both...

REASON FOR READING: I thought the cover was purty.

THOUGHTS: Great cover, boring and canned plot.

MISCELLANEOUS: British or American grammar? PICK ONE!

RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

CR: Decoding Advertisements by Judith Williamson
RN: The Sandman: The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman

Book 20: Extreme Exposure

TITLE: Extreme Exposure
AUTHOR: Pamela Clare
STARTED: February 26, 2006
FINISHED: February 28, 2006
PAGES: 335
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Kara McMillan was going to kill her best friend.

SUMMARY: [From] Meet Kara McMillan, single mother, investigative reporter, and romantic cynic. Inspired by three margaritas on a Friday night, Kara throws caution to the winds in a chance encounter with Senator Reese Sheridan at the skankiest bar in Denver. Their passionate affair starts quickly, even as Kara begins an investigation into a major environmental scandal, aided by a mysterious whistle-blower. Just as Kara begins to open up her heart, her discoveries prompt anonymous threats to her life and that of her young son, Connor. The suspense mounts as Kara is whisked away to a remote safe house that turns out to be anything but.

REASON FOR READING: I find myself falling for Pamela Clare's books

THOUGHTS: This is Clare's first contemporary romance novel... and you can tell. She's trying to hard. It took her until almost the end of the book to finally settle into this area of the genre. I thought she was too vulgar and explicit at the beginning. Which was not good considering I started reading this on an airplane as I was flying to my chosen Spring Break destination - Las Vegas. There was more that one moment where I flat out guffawed loudly on the early morning flight. Purple jiggly stick?!? Come on now.

I will certainly continue to read this series but, so far, I don't find it nearly as good as her historicals. Also, summary writer... you neglected to say it was a State Senator. I was expecting the book to be set in Washington,DC not Colorado.

MISCELLANEOUS: Why aren't romances ever set in DC?

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Captain's Lady by Margaret McPhee
RN: Decoding Advertisements by Judith Williamson

Book 19: The Sandman: World's End

TITLE: The Sandman: Worlds' End
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
STARTED: February 20, 2006
FINISHED: February 21, 2006
PAGES: 168
GENRE: Graphic Novels

FIRST SENTENCE: Looking back on it, the thing that still surprises me is my own reaction to it all.

SUMMARY: [From] A "reality storm" draws and unusual cast of characters together. They take shelter in a tavern, where they amuse each other with their life stories. Although Morpheus is never a focus in these stories, each has something to say about the nature of stories and dreams.


THOUGHTS: As a whole, this part of the series was just "Meh" for me. That being said, I loved the story titled "Cerements." That's write, I found the most interesting part of this book to be the story told about people whose lives revolve around the dead. No real reason, I just loved how Gaiman played off of this people who were living among and because of the dead. It brought chills and yet was entertaining beyond all reason.

Also, the way Gaiman told a story within a story within a story within a story was just masterful.

MISCELLANEOUS: There are days I dream of being a tavern wench.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to Pete. *pout*
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare
RN: The Captain's Lady by Margaret McPhee

Book 18: The Sandman: Brief Lives

TITLE: The Sandman: Brief Lives
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
STARTED: February 20, 2006
FINISHED: February 20, 2006
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Graphic Novels

FIRST SENTENCE: It is, of course, a miracle.

SUMMARY: [From] Delirium, youngest sister of the Endless, prevails upon her brother, Dream, to help her find their missing sibling. Their travels take them through the world of the waking until a final confrontation with the missing member of the Endless and the resolution of Dream's relationship with his son change the endless forever.

REASON FOR READING: I can't stop reading this series.

THOUGHTS: I always wondered why Dream was such a sad man. This book in the series helps explain it. What I found most interesting in this book was not the main plot line but, rather, the way Dream relates to his son, Orpheus. I think Gaiman wrote the finally sequence perfectly. It actually brought tears to my eyes. Add the powerful art to Gaiman's script and you've got yourself a powerhouse of a read.

MISCELLANEOUS: I couldn't do it that's why dream is a better man than I.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Going back to Pete.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: The Sandman: Worlds' End by Neil Gaiman
RN: Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare