Thursday, September 29, 2005

Banned Books Week

It is Banned Books Week again. I get a big kick out of celebrating the Freedom to Read. I've read many of the books on the 100 most frequently challenged books, though I have only read The Chocolate War from the 10 most frequently challenged books in 2004. Looks like I need to get busy and read some challenged books.

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."—Benjamin Franklin

What I find discouraging is that year after year there is still a need to observe Banned Books Week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Book Relay, Part II

I've been playing at BookRelay for the page month or so. I've participated in three relays so far. Unfortunately, one of these died and I had to ressurect it by accepting my own offer and posting another book to see if anyone was interested in it. But, I've had the opportunity to read some books that I might not have discovered at all if it hadn't been for this book-trading site.

The Mask of Ra by P. J. DohertyThe Mask of Ra by Paul Doherty was offered in an exchange for "first books in a mystery series". I looked it up on and decided that it sounded pretty good. The person who was offering it had commented that she started reading the book, didn't like it, and never finished it. But I figured that even if I didn't enjoy the book, I could offer it to someone else. Turns out that the story was fun to read.

Set in 1479 BC, the book begins as Pharoah Tuthmosis II is triumphantly returning to Thebes from a series of battles along the Nile. He's barely home when he drops dead in his wife's arma. Tuhatsu, half-sister as well as wife to Tuthmosis, is of even more royal lineage than the dead Pharoah and she decides to take the title for herself. Needless to say, Egypt is in an uproar. When it is suspected that Tuthmosis's death was caused by a snakebite, the captain of his guard is arrested for failing to protect the Pharoah. Enter Amerotke, cheif judge, who must sort out the truth of this and several other murders by snakebite.

I got so interested in the Pharoahs that I spent several hours researching online and reading about the succession from Tuthmosis II to Tutankhamun.

The Horus Killings by P. J. Doherty Along with The Mask of Ra, the Relayer sent the second book in the series, The Horus Killings, so I went straight on to that book as soon as I finished the first book. In this story, Amerotke must again solve the murders of priests and scholars amid the politcal turmoil caused by Hatusu's claim to the throne. Having convinced her privy council to support her bid to be recognized as Pharoah and won the hearts of the populus by defeating the Mitanni hordes, she now needs the approval of the high priests of the various temples. They convene a conference to determine if there is any precedent for having a woman rule the country. Unfortunately, someone is so opposed to granting Hatusu the title of Pharoah that supporters are being murdered horribly.

I intend to find the other books in this series. The mix of history and intrigue is pretty good. The characters have quite a contemporary feel to them, and yet there were no historical discrepancies that I could find. I think that must be a difficult task—to create characters who seem at home in the historic setting, yet just as human as the people you run into today.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

What I've been reading recently

In addition to reading books for pleasure, I spend a lot of time reading web sites, including blogs. There are about 50 blogs that I try to follow, using Bloglines to monitor these sites for new posts. And, I just started kicking the tires at, a social bookmarking site. So now I'm following more links to interesting stuff to read.

So what books have I read recently?

Bio Rescue by S. L. ViehlSet in the same universe as the Stardoc series, this novel introduces Jadaira, a young female resident of Kevarzangia Two. A member of the aquatic species native to K-2, Dair and others of her generation are serving in the military as pilots for planetary patrol. Life on K-2 is getting more stressful due to the large number of land-dwelling refugees who are crowding onto the planet. Dair and her fellow pilots are asked to pilot medical rescue crews to effect recovery of those injured while trying to escape the warring factions in the Pmoc Quadrant.

I was on a business trip & needed something to read, so I picked up Bio Rescue by S. L. Viehl. I had read her Stardoc novels featuring Cherijo Grey Veil and I knew that I did not want to read any more of those for a while. (Cherijo's perils include not only the normal action/adventure stuff, but some pretty heavy psychological abuse. I'm not up for that right now.) But, from the back cover, I saw that this book was not part of the Stardoc series, so I bought it.

I very much enjoyed this book and I'm glad to see that a sequel is already available in hardback. I'll pick it up next year when it comes out in paperback.

Dream Country by Luanne RicelI picked up Luanne Rice's Dream Country at the library because I'd enjoyed the other books authored by her that I had read. This one did not disappoint. After her 3-year-old son Jake went missing in the Wyoming wilderness, Daisy took Jake's twin sister Sage and moved back to her home in Connecticut. Daisy's husband James could not bring himself to leave his family ranch, since he was determined to be there if Jake ever came back. When Sage runs away from home and toward the father that she's never had a chance to get to know, Daisy returns to Wyoming.

Dream Country is one of the better novels that I've read by Rice. The characters are well developed and the plot is expertly crafted. The inevitable romance just fits and doesn't disrupt the narrative. All-in-all, an enjoyable experience.

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen Anna Quindlen is one of the best authors around. She hasn't written many novels, which is a shame. I don't read much nonfiction, so I'm sure I'm missing out. Oh well.

Black and Blue tells the story of Fran, a battered woman who assumes a new identity as Beth to hide from her abusive husband. Quindlen avoids the cliche endings one might expect from a novel on this theme and brings things to a close which is realistic, although it's not the "happy ever after" ending you'd want.

Sea Swept by Nora RobertsNora Robert's Chesapeake Bay trilogy introduces the three Quinn brothers, each adopted by Ray and Stella Quinn. Each book focuses on one of the brothers, from the delinquency which brought them to the attention of Ray and Stella to the healing these parents brought to their troubled sons. Sea Swept is the story of Cameron Quinn, oldest of the Quinn brothers.

The story begins as Ray Quinn is critically injured in a car wreck and Cam rushes home to be with his family. When he arrives at the hospital, in addition to his brothers, Cam meets 10-year-old Seth, whom Ray had rescued from his drug addicted mother. Ray extracts a promise from all the boys to keep Seth and make him a legal part of the Quinn family. There's a steamy romance and just a trace of the supernatural to keep Robert's regular readers happy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Lisa Yee saw my blog!

OK, I'm Jazzed!

A couple of days ago, Lisa Yee left a comment in my blog to let me know she had read my review of her book, Millicent Min, Girl Genius. So cool! Of course I have now spent 2 hours reading her blog and website, following links to other author's sites, etc. In one scene in the book, Millicent is wearing a t-shirt which reads "So many books, so little time" which is one of my common complaints. I've also realized that there so much Internet and so little time. Would that I could figure out some way to forego sleep without going crackers after a day or two.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Missing throughout the Summer!

Oh my gosh!

I knew that it had been a long time since I posted anything to this blog, but I didn't realize that the entire summer had gone by without a single post. I can use the excuse that I was travelling for most of the summer, but since I took my laptop with me and I never was without Internet access for more than a day or two, it would just be an excuse.

At least I kept on reading. Here's the summary of the books which I completed in June, July, and August. I'm updating the home page and the "Books so far this year" page and will have them posted shortly.