Thursday, May 27, 2010

Step on a Crack

Step on a Crack
by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Finished May 26
4 stars

Now I've been told to read Patterson many, many times - I didn't pick up my first Patterson book until the start of this year. I've since read several more and, let me just tell you - I see many Patterson books coming up in my future. I am hooked and in love.

Yes, they are semi-predictable (although some things did surprise me!). But seriously, I LOVED this book! I was so hooked on the story and just couldn't put the book down until I got to the end. I NEEDED to see how it all worked out. And I just fell completely in love with the Bennet Family.

Detective Michael Bennett is married to an angel, an adoptive father to ten kids, and a part of the NYPD. It is near Christmas - Bennett's wife is dying from cancer. Bennett is very focused on this and even though the rest of the country is mourning the death of the former first lady, Bennett is quite wrapped in his own family drama. That is until during the former's first ladies funeral is seized by some very (in my opinion) crazy men. They let most of the people attending the funeral go and hold on to only the most famous and important.

Bennett is called in as a hostage negotiator - and must help the NYPD through all of this. At the same time, he needs to juggle his 10 children, deal with the realization that his wife will soon be passing on, and somehow get through Christmas.

And through intertwining both these stories Patterson and Ledwidge do something not many people can pull off - an action, page turning, thrilling novel mixed with a heart-breaking, tear-jerking, heart-warming story! I wanted to simultaneously go and kick the bad guy's teeth in, while fighting tears for the family drama going on. I am hooked. And in love with Michael Bennett and his family. I will definitely be picking up more books that feature Bennett in the future!

The Handmaiden's Tale

The Handmaiden's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

Finished May 23, 2010
4 Stars

Wow. Well, let me start this by saying this book made me think. And I'm still thinking about it. I can't believe I didn't read it sooner in life. It's a book that could be set in the future, and yet, feels like it's in the past. As if the vision of progress for some is to go back in time 100 years.

The book takes place - well, I'm not quite sure when it takes place. During the end of the 20th century or early 21st century. The United States is no longer - it is now the Republic of Gilead. The far religious right has taken over - and along with that many rules are now in place. And fear is how everyone is kept in place. Hangings are televised, bodies are left up for several days to serve as reminders, punishment is severe, swift and my guess often given to the wrong person. Birthrates are dropping and many babies are born with problems - so birthing perfect babies is a very prized thing in this new society.

Women, who have put back in their "right" place are now subjected to extreme rules. They can no longer read. Money is obsolete - instead they are given coins with pictures on them (a coin with eggs is for eggs, bread picture is one to buy bread with, etc). The stores are also identified by pictures - as if even that much reading would be too taxing on poor women. There is clearly a caste system - where you fall in it can be identified by the clothes you wear. The higher you rise, the more you are given.

Men are rewarded for doing good with, well, women and homes. If you are upper class, you are given a wife, a cook, a maid, and if needed a handmaiden. If you are lower class you are given econowives - who will also act as maid, cook, etc. Again, each women's role is clearly identified by her dress.

Offred is the main character - she is the handmaiden to Fred (hence her name "Of Fred") who is referred to as Commander through the story. A handmaiden's job  is simply to bear children for the family she is placed with. Once a month in a quite strange ceremony - designed to take all the love out of the act - the handmaiden, wife, and husband meet in the bedroom in an effort to make her pregnant. The pressure to get pregnant for the handmaiden's is very high. It seems her entire worth is wrapped up in whether she can manage to do this AND give birth to a healthy baby.

Offred's partner is Ofglen - the handmaiden's are not allowed to go into town alone, they must always travel in pairs. Offred learns through Ofglen there are people out there willing to help get the women out of these situations.

I admit at first the story is hard to get into. It has been written based on tapes found in the future that Offred recorded. It bumps along, not quite in order, with flashbacks, bits of info given on this page, and a little more a few pages later. There is not a lot of action in the story - and yet, it doesn't need to be. And eventually the story falls into place. The first few chapters were very confusing to me I admit. Some women are referred to as Aunts - it took me a few chapters to realize they were not in fact real aunts, but aunt is their title so to speak.

And yet, I couldn't put it down. I couldn't stop thinking. I couldn't stop thinking there are some out there today who probably think this book sounds like utopia! Not me though, this would be a nightmare to live in. And yet, today - in parts of the world, this is how women are treated. Historically, many women were treated this way. I can't imagine having to live like that - to not be able to read. To not be allowed to leave the house except to shop. To be at a man's beck and call. Yikes. This book has stayed with me in a powerful way. I wish I had read it much sooner in life!

On a related note - this book was made into a movie. I'm trying to get my hands on it so I can see how it translated into film! If I do watch, I promise to come back and write about it!! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Knit in Comfort

Knit in Comfort by Isabel Sharp

Finished May 11, 2010
3 stars

*Please note, I was given this book to review from LibraryThing through their LibraryThing Early Reviewers (LTER) program, which has absolutely nothing to do at all with this blog.

Knit in Comfort was a quick, interesting read.

Elizabeth, a young women from New York, travels to Comfort, North Carolina based on a dream in which she thinks her grandma tells her too. There she meets Megan - a wife and mother from who she rents a room.
Elizabeth views Megan's life as perfect and wonderful and the dream life she wants. However, Elizabeth doesn't realize that Megan, like everyone, is not in fact living a fairy tale and that looks can be deceiving.
But what brings them together - along with some other women in town - is knitting. And through knitting, they are able to work through some of the issues they are facing.
While learning about Megan and Elizabeth and the women in Comfort, Sharpe also draws us in with the story of Gillian and Fiona, which takes place in the early 1900's on the Shetland Island. Fiona is a relative of Megan's and so we learn part of Megan's family's history as we learn about Megan.

As a knitter I was quite drawn to the talk of knitting - and the mention of the gorgeous lace knitting that Megan (and her family) does. I'm not sure what drew me in more - thinking about the beautiful lace knitting they referred to or the story honestly. I wished more than once this was a picture book or a movie or something similar. I'm positive the description of the lace knitting just didn't do it justice at all!

Also, as an aside, she mentions working on acre lace several times and for the life of me, I can't figure out what it is, so if you know, please please tell me LOL!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My newest toy!

Sunday was my birthday. I love birthdays. And even if I didn't get a single present, I would love birthdays. However, I always get a little something. And my husband rocks at getting me birthday presents. Every year he pretty much completely surprises me with something I don't expect but always love. This year was no different. And so now, I am the owner of a Nook!


Yes, I am extremely in love with it. And no, I don't already know all that it does because, for real, it does a lot. I've already read one book on it (oh yes, a review will be coming soon) and I've started another one. And also, I've been playing a lot of sudoku on it. (although, seriously Barnes & Noble I think you have the difficulty ratings off. I'm just saying your easy is not as easy as other easy puzzles. And your easy is about the same as your medium for me)!

Anyway - I love my Nook. I've nicknamed it Nookie. No, no, no - not like that. It's from this video (that my 4 year old just LOVES!)

Nuki nuki nuki how I love my nuki
I'll smile with it to the end
nuki nuki nuki sweeter than a cookie
I'll share it with you all my friends.

Anyway, I am having a lot of fun with it! It goes pretty much everywhere with me these days and I'm sure I'll be talking about it a lot with you all!

Another blog!

Because I don't have enough going on ... I've decided to start another blog!

So tonight, Journey of 1000 Books was born - because I love reading. And I love writing about what I've read. And so, here we are. I'm excited ... I hope I can do more than just talk books here - we'll see how it grows.

For now, I'll just write about books and the books I'm reading and any book news I might hear. I'm debating on moving all the book posts from Journey of 1000 Stitches over here or not. For now, I'll link you to all the book posts here.