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Mister Monday (Keys to the Kingdom, Book 1)
Mister Monday (Keys to the Kingdom, Book 1)
by Garth Nix
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from $1.28

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended - Remedy for the Same Old, Same Old, August 27, 2005
Garth Nix has become my new favorite writer, and my discovery started with Mister Monday, the first in the Keys to the Kingdom series. This opening episode introduces us to Arthur, a displaced but sharp young boy in his first days at a new school. When a distanced run in gym class brings on a devastating asthma attack, Arthur is supposed to die. Because he doesn't, he is thrust into a world he never knew existed, with the fate of all worlds in his hands.

Having now read Sabriel, the first in Nix's earlier young adult series, The Abhorsen Trilogy, I can see how far he's come as a writer. Keys to the Kingdom is superbly paced, and with each new book, we learn a little more about the bigger picture. The arc of the stories is huge, but strongly anchored in the characters and Nix's attention to details.

Just a note about editions: I collect books, and while paperbacks are available and cost a little less than the hardcovers, the hardcover editions of these books are very sharp looking on the shelf. They're colorful and really stand out in a larger collection.

I have to say, I haven't read anything yet by Garth Nix that I didn't enjoy, but Mister Monday is by far my favorite. The opening few pages hooked me, and I'm now three books in, anxiously awaiting number four, Sir Thursday, coming out around March!

Dr Seuss's Sleep Book
Dr Seuss's Sleep Book
by Dr. Seuss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.24
236 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars My mom's favorite to read to me, March 18, 2005
This review is from: Dr Seuss's Sleep Book (Hardcover)
My mom reminds me that my brother and I would request this book most often out of all of Dr. Seuss's when bedtime rolled around. It may have been because we loved our bedtime stories and didn't want them to end. This is the longest and most expansive of Dr. Seuss's books. Reading it again at twenty-eight, I still don't want it to end. It is a deliciously meandering story, guaranteed to have grown-ups and kids alike snuggled up tight, and saying good-night!

Ireland: A Novel
Ireland: A Novel
by Frank Delaney
Edition: Hardcover
162 used & new from $0.01

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tribute to Oral History, March 18, 2005
This review is from: Ireland: A Novel (Hardcover)
There's a point in Frank Delaney's novel, Ireland, when the main character, Ronan, is being grilled by his history professor about his first essay. The professor is appalled that Ronan has used no dates, no footnotes, none of the academic trappings that give history a "scientific" quality. Ronan defends his style by saying simply that he wanted his readers to understand how it felt to live at that time; that that understanding was more important than the knowledge of dates and "facts".

This is the wonderful premise of "Ireland". The rich history of the Irish people is ripe for storytelling, and Delaney mines it for all it's worth. If you've ever been to Ireland, you've heard the land hum with the voices of its long gone residents. Delaney puts the focus on the Irish people here as well, and the yarns that he spins are as lively and vibrant as their subjects.

The through-line of the book follows Ronan on his quest to find a storyteller who passed through when he was a child. Ronan's mother banished the old wanderer after a story she found to be blasphemous, but Ronan has already been changed by the meeting. He makes storytelling his life's obsession, eventually taking up the study of history at University. Along the way, he collects stories from those he meets, whether they pass along the tales they've heard from the storyteller or their own. His father and aunt join him on this quest, and the relationships are full and very real, particularly between Ronan and his father.

The meat of the novel is the stories, however. Delaney has cobbled together a fantastic, mythical history of Ireland, told by a chorus of voices. The legendary events and people of Irish lore are at once bigger than life and very human. Delaney's storyteller is quite skilled at the balancing act between plausible "fact" and blatant blarney. There is even some wonderful discussion of the art of storytelling itself: how to choose your topic depending on your location; how to draw the audience in using a pipe as a prop.

It's enough to make me dream of walking the Irish countryside, stopping in here and there and telling a tale or two of my own.

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
by Barack Obama
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.44
1407 used & new from $0.01

150 of 201 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected - but in a good way, January 31, 2005
I first heard Barack Obama's command of the English language in his address before the Democratic National Convention. His speech brought to mind leaders of the past who had the eloquence and passion to light a fire in people with words alone. When I saw his book, I bought it to read more of his firey, inspirational leadership. What I got instead is an insightful, sometimes painfully honest apprisal of the beginnings of that leader's life, and it surprised me. This book was written when Sen. Obama was just out of Law School. He was offered a publishing deal after being elected the first black President of the Harvard Law Review. What he wrote is a memoir that is very obviously written by a brilliant young man. I say brilliant because his observations and examinations on racial constructs and communications in America is astute and deeply personal. As a bi-racial man growing up in both white and black America, his viewpoint is unique and his eyes were wide open. I say young because unlike most memoirs written after great accomplishments and long careers, the voice of this story is at the beginning of what may be greatness, not the end. Obama gets a chance to look back and examine his formation, and in doing so gives a beautiful and wonderfully full 'state-of-the-union' as regarding race. It's not the same old stuff, and it is. It felt like my favorite college professors who could make you stop in the middle of a class and realize that you just saw something you thought you knew in a whole new light, and you could never see it the old way again.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2013 1:35 AM PDT

Garden State
Garden State
DVD ~ Zach Braff
Price: $5.81
384 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, January 6, 2005
This review is from: Garden State (DVD)
As an actor and filmmaker, I can only hope I hit one out of the park like Zach Braff has done with Garden State. As a film fan, this is a quirky, funny, heart-wrenching movie that is as rewarding as can be. I couldn't take my eyes off of Natalie Portman, who completely disappeared into a challenging role. Usually, characters who are eccentric and a little odd come off as phony or are forced or over the top, but her portrayal was sweet, honest, and arresting. Plus the soundtrack is the best I've heard since the Crow. Outstanding film.

The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)
The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)
by Jonathan Stroud
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.86
288 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun, January 6, 2005
Bartimaeus is a wonderful addition to my list of favorite literary characters. In the tradition of Robin Williams' genie in Alladin, Bartimaeus' wit and magic permeate this story and make it more fun, especially when things get a bit dark with the character of Nathaniel. Stroud has also created an incredibly realistic fantasy London, and it's this plausibility that makes the reader care (even when you may not like Nathaniel very much). I can't wait to read the next two.

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