Thursday, April 30, 2009

Announcing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Celebration

May 22, 2009 will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In honor of the event, I will be hosting a month-long celebration at Bookish Ruth. Conan Doyle has been one of my favorite authors since my eighth grade English teacher introduced me to my first Sherlock Holmes short story.

I'll celebrating not only the work of Conan Doyle but also that of authors who have continued his legacy. Look for lots of reviews, author interviews, guest posts, and some very exciting giveaways throughout the month of May.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Dogwood Blossom

Dogwood Blossom
The only thing that has ever come close to rivaling my love of reading is my love for photography, so I've decided to start participating in Wordless Wednesday.

The dogwood tree outside my office window is in full bloom now. It's amazing that I get anything done.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Release: The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
Today marks the release of what is undoubtedly my most eagerly anticipated book of the year: The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King, which is the ninth installment of King's delightful Mary Russell series.

If you purchase The Languages of Bees (or any other books) from Laurie R. King's Amazon store, the proceeds will be donated to Heifer International. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. If you have never read any of the Mary Russell books, you are in for a treat. Start with The Beekeeper's Apprentice and be ready to fall in love.

If you'd prefer to purchase your copy at an independent bookstore, you can win a limited edition copy of a "A Venomous Death", a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes short story with a woodcut illustration and letterpress printed by Lavendier Press, signed by both author and artist. Click here to visit Ms. King's site for complete details.

Also, don't forget to check out the other ongoing contests that are part of the 15 Weeks of Bees.

Now, I'm off to enjoy my newly purchased copy of The Language of Bees. If I disappear for a couple days: I'm not dead, I'm reading.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Salon: 7 Things About Me as a Reader

The Sunday Salon.com

Today's Sunday Salon post was inspired by a post by Vasilly where she listed 7 unique things about her life as a reader. In that same vein, here are 7 things that you may not know about me and my bookish tendencies:
  1. During elementary school, I hated writing book reports. However, I kept a red three-ring binder filled with reviews of books I'd read for fun. Most of these were reviews of Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins books. I wish I'd kept them because, after reviewing a Baby-Sitters Club book this week, I'm very curious what my 9-year-old self thought about the same books.

  2. I have a huge collection of bookmarks. I probably have well over one hundred of them at this point. It's rare for me to leave a bookstore without at least one new bookmark. It's a very practical collection for a bibliophile. I'll often coordinate the bookmark with the book I'm reading -- for example, an R2-D2 bookmark for a Star Wars book, Gryffindor bookmark for the Harry Potter books, etc.

  3. I have stayed up all night on many occasions just to finish a good book. (Perhaps this will come in handy for the next 24 Hour Read-a-Thon?)

  4. I only read 17 books in 2007. I'm fairly certain that this is my lowest yearly total since I learned to read independently. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in early 2007, and was quite ill for most of the year. I was unable to do many of the things that I love -- garden, go shopping, attend church, hang out with friends, but I think the worst thing was being unable to read. I had difficulty concentrating and and would find myself reading the same sentence or paragraph over and over until I got too frustrated to continue. I was absolutely ecstatic that my health improved to the point that I was able to read 125 books in 2008, and I am even more excited that I'm on pace to surpass last year's total.

  5. I'm much more drawn to female main characters than male main characters, especially when it comes to series books: Mary Russell, Amelia Peabody, Miss Marple, etc. Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter are notable exceptions to this.

  6. My favorite time of day to read is just before bed. There's something very soothing about setting aside all the cares of the day and getting lost in a good book for an hour or two. (I'm sure this practice contributes to #3!)

  7. I can feel at home just about anywhere as long as I have my books with me.

This afternoon I'll be finishing up the last few chapters of The Game by Laurie R. King, then it's on to Locked Rooms by the same author. I'm hoping to have the entire Mary Russell series re-read in time for Tuesday's release of the ninth book, The Language of Bees.

The Week in Reviews:
The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Rose's Story
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Lizabeth's Story
The Babysitters Club Mystery: Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost
Inside the Hub: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Torchwood

What are you reading this weekend?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book Review of Inside the Hub: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Torchwood

Inside the Hub: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Torchwood
Author: Stephen James Walker
Publisher: Telos (Sept. 2008)
Paperback, 250 pages, $27.95
ISBN-10: 184583013X
ISBN-13: 978-1845830137


Inside the Hub: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Torchwood chronicles the hit BBC series from the first announcement of the Doctor Who spin-off through the time that Series 1 aired in the UK. The book features many quotations from magazine and newspaper articles, biographies of the cast and crew, and a very thorough episode guide.

The episode guide and the section detailing the influence American science fiction shows (such as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) on Torchwood are interesting and probably the best parts of the book. It's obvious that a lot of time and thought went into both of these sections.

Unfortunately, the book's flaws are more prominent than its attributes. Run-on sentences abound; the most egregious example of this is a 170-word sentence in the Introduction. There are no pictures, which I assume is due to the unauthorized nature of the work. The text is small and hard to read at times. The book often gets bogged down with minutiae; things like air dates for 30-second trailers are listed in detail.

With the exception of the episode guide, most of the content of the book is available elsewhere. There are many quotations from popular British magazines, British TV critic web sites, and even "fan reactions" taken from sites such as LiveJournal. As an American, it was interesting to see how the launch of the series was covered by the British press. While having all of this information collected into a single book is nice, I would have preferred more original content from the author.

I heartily recommend both The Torchwood Archives and The Official Torchwood Magazine Yearbook (You can read my review of this book here) to Torchwood fans. Give Inside the Hub a miss.

Rating: 2/10.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Quotable - Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

This week I'm posting a much-loved quotation from Neil Gaiman's short story "A Study in Emerald". The last two sentences of this quote always spring to mind when I'm bored:

"I have been told that I snore," he said. "Also I keep irregular hours, and I often use the mantlepiece for target practice. I will need the sitting room to meet clients. I am selfish, private and easily bored. Will this be a problem?"
-- Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things, "A Study in Emerald"
You can read "A Study in Emerald" in its entirety here. You can also download an audiobook version (narrated by Gaiman) for free at Audible.com. I highly recommend it. Sherlock Holmes meets Cthulhu. Yes, it's as weird and wonderful as it sounds.

Don't forget to check out the comments to see what other bloggers found quotable this week!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review of The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #27: Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost

Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost
Author: Ann M. Martin
Publisher: Scholastic (1996)
Paperback, 144 pages, $3.99
ISBN-10: 0590691759
ISBN-13: 978-0590691758


The Stoneybrook Lighthouse was boarded up under mysterious circumstances years ago, and shortly thereafter the owners left town. Now the Hatt family has returned to Stoneybrook with plans to restore and sell the property.

The Hatts are staying with Claudia's family while they get settled. When the Hatts begin receiving threatening letters, Claudia and her friends want to know why. Do the letters have something to do with a tragic accident that took place at the lighthouse all those years ago? Claudia and the rest of the Baby-Sitters Club are determined to find out.

The Baby-Sitters Club books are formulaic, but, judging by the popularity the series enjoyed during the 1990's, it's a formula that works. I devoured the series as a child and enjoyed revisiting this book as an adult. Little details such as Claudia's secret candy stash and poor spelling, Kristy's love of sports, and Mallory's huge family came rushing back to me as I was reading and brought a smile to my face.

Rating: 7/10.

Buy Claudia and the Lighthouse Ghost:
IndieBound | Amazon

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review of The Girls of Lighthouse Lane #3: Lizabeth's Story

The Girls of Lighthouse Lane Lizabeth's Story
The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Lizabeth's Story
Authors: Erika Tamar and Thomas Kinkade
Publisher: HarperCollins (2004)
Hardcover, 176 pages, $12.99
ISBN-10: 0060543477
ISBN-13: 9780060543471


Thirteen-year-old Lizabeth Merchant comes from the richest family in Cape Light and, as such, leads a very privileged life. Her biggest worry is that she might not be crowned Strawberry Queen in Cape Light's upcoming Strawberry Festival. She has little patience for her four-year-old sister, Tracy, who often seeks Lizabeth's attention.

Lizabeth is sent to stay with her cousin Kat's family when Tracy contracts scarlet fever. For Lizabeth, who is used to servants doing all the work in her own home, seeing Kat's entire family pitch in to maintain the lighthouse is an eye-opening experience.

Lizabeth worries that she won't be allowed to go back to her home before the Strawberry Festival. Her dress for the festival is still in her room and the house is under quarantine. Lizabeth sneaks out of Kat's bedroom one evening and returns to her home for the dress. While she's there, she checks on Tracy and is startled to see how sick her young sister has become. Suddenly the Strawberry Festival doesn't seem so important any more. The events that follow Tracy's illness will drastically change Lizabeth's view of herself and the people around her.

In the previous Lighthouse Lane books, Lizabeth was the character I liked least, but her story turned out to be my favorite of the series. She's a very self-centered character, but also a very insecure one. She doesn't feel that she has anything to offer beyond her good looks and privileged upbringing, but her sister's illness teaches her a difficult lesson. She realizes that money and material possessions cannot bring her happiness or prevent bad things from happening, and she's a better person for this realization.

Rating: 8/10

Buy Lizabeth's Story:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book Review: The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Arielle North Olson

The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
Author: Arielle North Olson
Illustrator: Elaine Wentworth
Publisher: Mystic Seaport Museum (2004)
Hardcover, 32 pages, $15.95
ISBN-10: 0939510928
ISBN-13: 9780939510924


While her father is away, 10-year-old Miranda must take up his role as lighthouse keeper. The young girl will have to overcome inclement weather conditions, hunger and illness to keep the light burning brightly until her father returns. She bravely rescues the family's chickens before the chicken coop is washed away. As days stretch into weeks, supplies run so low that the only food Miranda and her mother have are the eggs provided by the hens each day and a small amount of cornmeal mush. Despite their dire situation, Miranda never complains. She simply does what needs to be done to keep the light in operation.

Her father finally returns with much-needed food and a special surprise for Miranda: soil for a garden. The waves scour the rocky island of its soil each winter, making it difficult to maintain a garden, something Miranda had hoped to do. By spring, the story of Miranda's courage is well-known to passing sailors and they bring her soil on an almost daily basis. Miranda packs the soil between the rocks and soon the island is teeming with colorful flowers.

Lovely watercolor illustrations compliment the story. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter was inspired by real-life lighthouse heroine Abbie Burgess, and the gardens at Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse.

Rating: 8/10.

Buy The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review of The Girls of Lighthouse Lane #2: Rose's Story by Erika Tamar

The Girls of Lighthouse Lane Rose's Story
The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Rose's Story
Authors: Erika Tamar and Thomas Kinkade
Publisher: HarperCollins (2004)
Hardcover, 192 pages, $12.99
ISBN-10: 0060543442
ISBN-13: 978-0060543440


In New York City in 1905, Rose Forbes desperately tries to fit in at her exclusive all-girl school. When her mother's support of the suffragist movement becomes common knowledge, the other girls treat her as an outcast. Her father's medical practice also suffers after Rose's mother is arrested during a protest. Rose's parents decide that a change of scenery would be beneficial and settle on Cape Light as their new home.

Rose is excited about the possibility of new friends and a chance to start over. Kat, Amanda and Lizabeth welcome Rose warmly, but Rose lives in fear that they will shun her if they discover her mother's involvement in the women's rights movement. Rose is more interested in horses than politics and doesn't understand her mother's dedication to the suffragist cause. Rose begins working with an abused race horse, Midnight Star. When she's barred from participating in a jumping competition because of her gender, Rose finally understands and embraces her mother's political views.

While the plot is predictable from the start, Rose's love of horses will resonate with many young readers.

Rating: 5/10.

Buy Rose's Story:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TSS Book Review: Sisters of Scituate Light by Stephen Krensky

Buy Sisters of Scituate Light
Sisters of Scituate Light
Author: Stephen Krensky
Illustrator: Stacey Schuett
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (May 2008)
Hardcover, $16.99, 32 pages
ISBN-10: 0525477926
ISBN-13: 978-0525477921


During the War of 1812, sisters Abbie and Rebecca Bates are tending Scituate Light while their father makes a brief trip to shore. When a British warship arrives in the harbor, the girls must think quickly to protect their home. Armed with only a fife and drum, the girls play “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. The British, fearing what they assume is the imminent approach of American soldiers, retreat and never return to Scituate Light. Abbie and Rebecca are later hailed as heroines in the community.

Krensky uses the sisters’ own words (gleaned from later accounts of the incident) for the book's dialogue. Vibrant illustrations enrich the retelling of this classic lighthouse legend, although the depiction of the British soldiers as sneering villains is too stereotypical and does not match the style of the rest of the art.

Rating: 8/10.

Buy Sisters of Scituate Light:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: The Lighthouse Cat by Sue Stainton

The Lighthouse Cat
The Lighthouse Cat
Author: Sue Stainton
Illustrator: Anne Mortimer
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (2004)
Hardcover, $16.99, 32 pages
ISBN-10: 0060096047
ISBN-13: 9780060096045


Being a lighthouse keeper is a lonely job that requires much dedication. Each night the lighthouse keeper climbs up, up, up the stairs to light the twenty four candles in the lighthouse beacon. Each morning he climbs the stairs again to extinguish the candles and perform the daily maintenance that keeps the light visible to passing ships.

One afternoon, the supply ship arrives with groceries for the lighthouse keeper. In addition to the usual food and supplies, the supply ship is also carrying a stowaway: a small silver cat. The keeper names the cat Mackeral and the cat becomes a steadfast companion to the lighthouse keeper.

Mackeral has many adventures on the island. He makes friends with puffins and seagulls, helps the keeper collect driftwood that is used to make furniture, finds a message in a bottle and scans the sea for passing ships.

During a very stormy night, wind extinguishes the candles in the lighthouse tower. The keeper tries to signal passing ships with a hand lantern, but the wind blows that out as well. Seeing this, Mackeral springs into action. He climbs to the top of the lighthouse tower and meows loudly. Eleven cats from nearby homes answer his call and join him in the lighthouse. Moonlight is reflected in the cats' eyes so that there are twenty four small glowing lights in the lantern room and ships can safely navigate to port.

Colorful illustrations and the repetitive language ("Up, up, up") will make this book a read aloud favorite.

The lighthouse featured in The Lighthouse Cat was inspired by Smeaton's Tower, which stood for over 100 years just south of Plymouth, England. The lighthouse was lit by twenty four large candles.

Rating: 10/10.

Buy The Lighthouse Cat:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quotable - Fearless by Elvira Woodruff

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

Today I'm featuring a quotation from Fearless, a middle grade historical fiction novel that I reviewed yesterday.

"Reading is very much like casting your nets, but the difference is that with books a man can feed his heart and mind as well as his belly. Reading will change your life."
-- Elvira Woodruff, Fearless p. 122
What did you find quotable this week?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Review: Fearless by Elvira Woodruff

Fearless by Elvira Woodruff
Fearless
Author: Elvira Woodruff
Publisher: Scholastic (April 2008)
Hardcover, 240 pages, $16.99
ISBN-10: 0439677033
ISBN-13: 978-0439677035


Left in the care of his aunt while his father is at sea, 11-year-old Digory Beale is plagued by nightmares of his father dying in a terrible storm. Digory has always been afraid of the sea, preferring to draw when other boys were competing for sailing jobs. When word comes that his father’s ship has gone down, it seems that his worst fear has been realized. Digory must set out for Plymouth to learn his father’s fate. His aunt tells him not to return unless he finds his father alive. With eleven children of her own, she can’t afford another mouth to feed. Digory and his 9-year-old brother Cubby (who decides to follow Digory rather than stay with their aunt) face a difficult journey with little food, no money, and dwindling hope that their father is still alive.

In Plymouth, Digory and Cubby receive the crushing news that there were no survivors from their father’s ship. With their hopes of reuniting with their father dashed, the boys are alone and scared. Just when they think things can’t get any worse, Digory and Cubby are framed for stealing. A man named Henry Winstanley intercedes on their behalf and this chance meeting will drastically alter Digory’s life.

Henry Winstanley takes the boys to be servants at his home in Essex, but Winstanley’s home is no ordinary country estate. An engineer with a fondness for gadgets, Winstanley has filled his home with many whimsical inventions including a “Flying Chair” (an early version of the roller coaster), a mechanical dragon, and fountains that shoot colored water into the air. When Winstanley discovers Digory’s artistic talent, he offers him an apprenticeship. Digory thrives under the engineer’s tutelage.

When Winstanley receives news that the Eddystone Lighthouse, a beacon that he designed, is in need of repair after severe storms, he and Digory rush to Plymouth. Digory will finally have to face his fear of the sea in order to assist his beloved mentor.

While Digory and Cubby are fictional characters, Henry Winstanley was real. In 1698, he took on what many thought was an impossible task: construction of a lighthouse off the treacherous Eddystone reef near Plymouth, England. The Eddystone Lighthouse sustained severe damage during its first year of operation and was rebuilt with a modified design. For five years not a single ship was lost to the reef. In 1703, the lighthouse was destroyed during the Great Storm, the worst weather disaster in Britain’s history. Henry Winstanley and five others were killed when the lighthouse succumbed to the sea. The Eddystone Lighthouse was later rebuilt, and thanks to Winstanley’s vision, thousands of lives have been saved.

Elvira Woodruff has written an exciting and well-researched tale of courage and friendship. The book includes a glossary, a map of England in 1700 highlighting the key locations in the story as well as an extensive author’s note about the life and accomplishments of Henry Winstanley. Highly recommended.

Rating: 9/10.

Buy Fearless:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review: Who Sees the Lighthouse by Ann Fearrington

Who Sees the Lighthouse?
Who Sees the Lighthouse?
Author: Ann Fearrington
Illustrator: Giles Laroche
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (2002)
Hardcover, $15.99, 32 pages
ISBN-10: 0399237038
ISBN-13: 978-0399237034


Who Sees the Lighthouse? starts out well with a wonderful rhyming cadence ("Swirl around, twirl around. / The narrow beam / Slices the night. / Who sees the light?") and beautiful illustrations. The book counts different things that can see the lighthouse's beams (One sailor, two pilots, three seagulls) but it seems as though the author ran out of nautical-related items by number seven (cats). The pages featuring numbers eight and nine are even more of a stretch: ghost pirates and aliens also use the light to guide them on their way.

The unrealistic departure is made more discordant by the fact that all of the beacons pictured in the book are real United States lighthouses. Cape Hatteras Light, Heceta Head Light, Split Rock Lighthouse, Pigeon Point Light and seven other lighthouses are beautifully depicted by illustrator Giles Laroche. Young children will probably be too engaged by the colorful illustrations and rhyming text to notice the implausibility of aliens and ghosts needing a lighthouse.

Rating: 6/10.

Purchase Who Sees the Lighthouse?
Powell's | Amazon

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review of The Girls of Lighthouse Lane #1: Katherine's Story


The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Katherine's Story
Authors: Erika Tamar and Thomas Kinkade
Publisher: HarperCollins (2004)
Hardcover, 176 pages, $12.99
ISBN-10: 0060543418
ISBN-13: 9780060543419


In 1905 New England, thirteen-year old Katherine Williams loves life in the quaint village of Cape Light. Known to her friends as Kat, she dreams of one day being a famous artist living in a big city.

Kat's father is a lighthouse keeper and Kat helps with many of the lighthouse duties. Each night she takes the first watch from dusk until midnight. When the light fails during a storm, Kat is instrumental in helping a Boston couple avoid a shipwreck. The couple is so grateful for Kat's help that they arrange an invitation to a prestigious art school in Boston for the girl. Tuition is expensive, though, and Kat's parents cannot afford it. However, if Kat can come up with half of the tuition fee, her parents will pay the other half.

With the help of her friend Amanda and her cousin Lizabeth, Kat tries to earn her half of the money. After two failed entrepreneurial attempts, Kat has success selling hand-painted wrapping paper to several local shops. This allows her to earn her half of the tuition fee. When an unexpected expense leaves her father unable to pay the rest, Kat is furious at her parents. She makes a rash decision that could cost her something far more precious than just the chance to attend art school -- it could cost her her life.

Erika Tamar captures the ups and downs of teenage emotions very well, unfortunately this meant that Kat's character irritated me for most of the book. With each poor decision that she made, I found her more difficult to like. However, Cape Light is a very charming setting and the friendship between the three girls seems genuine. Inspired by the paintings of Thomas Kinkade, this entertaining and wholesome series will likely appeal to young girls.

Rating: 6/10.

Buy Catherine's Story:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Friday, April 10, 2009

Quotable - The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

I'm going to be dog-sitting over the weekend, and while selecting books to take along with me, I made the fatal mistake of opening one of them. My intention was to read only the first paragraph. I'm now five chapters into The School of Essential Ingredients. Oops.

For Lillian's mother, every part of a book was magic, but what she delighted in most were the words themselves. Lillian's mother collected exquisite phrases and complicated rhythms, descriptions that undulated across a page like cake batter pouring into a pan, read aloud to put the words in the air where she could hear them as well as see them.

"Oh, Lilly," her mother would say, "listen to this one. It sounds green, don't you think?"

And Lillian, who was too young to know that words were not colors and thoughts were not sounds, would listen while the syllables fell quietly through her, and she would think, This is what greens sounds like.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Double Duty

This week's question:
Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to…

1. Are you currently reading more than one book?
2. If so, how many books are you currently reading?
3. Is this normal for you?
4. Where do you keep your current reads?

Right now I'm reading two books, The Game by Laurie R. King and People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. This is actually rather relaxed compared to my usual reading. It's not unusual for me to have four to six books going at once. I think I'm going to stick with two at a time for awhile as this seems to be working pretty well.

My books "travel" a lot during the day. I always have at least one of them (and a notebook for taking notes) near me. They always come home to roost on my bedroom nightstand in the evening, though. Right now The Game is beside me at the computer, and People of the Book is waiting patiently on my nightstand.

Do you read multiple books at a time or have specific books for different spots around the house?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

March Reading Wrap-Up

March started out as a very good month for me, but sort of fizzled toward the end. I was hoping to get to 50 books for the year by the end of the month, but some unforeseen health problems and a trip to the ER stole a lot of reading time from me during the final week of March. April has started out extremely well, though. Here's what I read in March:

1. Fearless by Elvira Woodruff
2. The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Rose's Story by Erika Tamar
3. The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Lizabeth's Story by Erika Tamar
4. Doctor Who Darksmith Legacy: The Dust of Ages by Justin Richards
5. Doctor Who Darksmith Legacy: The Graves of Mordane by Colin Brake
6. The Lighthouse Cat by Sue Stainton
7. Abbie Against the Storm by Marcia Vaughan
8. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Arielle North Olson
9. Who Sees the Lighthouse? by Ann Fearrington
10. The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo
11. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer
12. The Moor by Laurie R. King
13. Lighthouse by Megan O'Hara

This puts me at 44 books for the year. I'd like to maintain this pace for 150 books in 2009. If I'm on pace for that in June, I may try for 200 books.

451 FridaysDuring the last week of March, Elizabeth at As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves hosted me for a great new feature on her blog, 451 Fridays. Elizabeth writes: "451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each 'become' a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of 'becoming'?"

Curious about which books I would choose? Check out my list here.

QuotableMarch also saw the launch of a new feature here at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'm now sharing a literary quote in a feature called Quotable. Be sure to check out the comments each week; other bloggers have been sharing some wonderful quotations! (And, if you'd like to participate, please feel free to snag the Quotable button and use it with your own post.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Book Review: Captain's Castaway by Angeli Perrow

Captain's Castaway
Captain's Castaway
Author: Angeli Perrow
Illustrator: Emily Harris
Publisher: Down East Books (1998)
Paperback, 30 pages, $9.95
ISBN-10: 0892725907
ISBN-13: 978-0892725908


Life as a sea captain's dog means protecting your owner's ship, but there is little that a dog can do against a dangerous winter storm.

When the ship hits the rocks near Maine's Great Duck Island Lighthouse, the sailors must abandon ship. As the captain's dog tries to climb into the safety of the lifeboat, one of the men panics. Fearing that the dog's weight will cause the lifeboat to capsize, the man strikes the dog with an oar. The sailors are helped to safety by the lighthouse keeper, but the dog is presumed to have drowned.

Life as a lighthouse keeper's daughter can be lonely. Young Sarah wishes for a friend. While exploring the island the day after the sailors were rescued, Sarah finds the dog washed up on the shore. Her father helps her bring the dog to the house, and Sarah nurses him back to health. She names the dog Seaboy and the two become constant companions.

When the sea captain returns to the lighthouse months later to say thank you, will he take Sarah's best friend away from her?

This pleasant picture book is based on true events. The addition of rhyming verses to the main narrative seems awkward, but this is only a small detraction from an otherwise excellent book.

Rating: 7/10.

Buy Captain's Castaway:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Friday, April 3, 2009

Book Review: Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery

Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery
Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery
Authors: Jane B. Mason & Sarah Hines Stevens
Illustrator: John Shelley
Publisher: Aladdin (2006)
Paperback, $3.99, 80 pages
ISBN-10: 0689862822
ISBN-13: 978-0689862823


Eight-year-old Bella Baxter is delighted when her favorite filmmaker, Mason Hawk, comes to stay at her parents’ New England bed and breakfast, the Sea Inn. Hawk is there to research his new documentary about East Coast lighthouses. When Bella learns that Hawk is interested in the Sandy Point Lighthouse, she decides to become a lighthouse expert.

With the help of her librarian friend, Trudy, Bella discovers that the lighthouse is said to be haunted by Salty Dobin, the light’s last keeper. It looks as though someone has been in the lighthouse recently. Has Salty Dobin returned to haunt his beloved light? Salty's journal will provide the clues they need to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sandy Point Lighthouse.

I liked the fact that when Bella wanted to learn more about lighthouses, her first thought was to head to the library rather than turn to an Internet search engine. Bella's thirst for knowledge and adventurous spirit make her a very likable character who will surely appeal to young readers.

Rating: 7/10.

Buy Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Quotable - O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

This week I've been experiencing armchair travel at its finest as I reread O Jerusalem, the fifth book in the Mary Russell series.
"This was the desert of Palestine: not the brutal deep desert of sand dunes and camels but a thorny, rocky, dry, inhospitable place where one could carve a living if one was stubborn and smart and did not expect too much. A hard land and a hard people, with occasional flashes of great beauty and tenderness. My respect for them grew along with the blisters on my feet."
-- Laurie R. King, O Jerusalem p. 50

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Bee is Free: Free eBook of The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Bee is Free
If you're reading this and haven't read The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King yet, run, do not walk, to TheBeeIsFree.com for a free eBook. Like mysteries? Like Sherlock Holmes? You'll love this. Don't like mysteries and couldn't care less about Sherlock Holmes? (We need to talk...) Give it a try; it's free!

The book will be free to download starting today, April 1st (No, it's not an April Fool's Day joke!) and remain available until April 15th.

If I were to be marooned on a desert island tomorrow, this is one of the books I would want with me.