Tuesday, January 30, 2007

#23 - The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

This book has been on my shelf for several months and I kept putting off reading it. I thought it might be either sappy or depressing...and I wasn't in the mood for either.

Then someone on PBS (Paperbackswap) requested it from my book listing. It's a relatively short book, so I decided I'd read it before mailing it out.

I'm glad I did. The book is neither sappy, nor depressing.

The main character is an 83-year old man who dies trying to save a little girl from being killed in an amusement park accident. He goes to heaven and finds out that the first thing that happens after death is a review of his life with 5 people that were affected by his life and choices.

This is a very powerful book about the importance of forgiveness. The old man needed to learn how to forgive, and also how to ask for forgiveness. And as he looked back over his life, he realized many things about life, and the people around him, that he didn't notice while alive.

I definitely recommend this book! It's an engaging story that is emotional without being too over the top.

2007 50 Book Challenge: 3/50 !!

Monday, January 29, 2007

#22 - Incidents in the Life of a Slavegirl by Linda Brent

"Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl'' is the autobiographical account of a black woman's life as a slave in North Carolina just before the Civil War. Her name was Harriet Jacobs, but she wrote under the pseudonym Linda Brent.

Harriet Jacobs wrote down the story of her life in her late adult years, after her escape North to New York. The narrative talks about her experiences from the time she first realized she was a slave at age 6, to her life after her escape.

As a mother, I had a difficult time reading this book. Not only was Jacobs removed from her parents' care at an early age, but her children were also subject to sale, abuse and poor treatment at the hands of others. Black women were also frequently forced into sexual relationships with slave owners. When the wives of plantation owners discovered their husbands had fathered children with slaves, the women and children were subject to abuse or faced being auctioned off to other land owners.

If you want a realistic account of what slavery was like for women and children, this book gives a good account. Not only does she tell about the abuse and hard labor, but also talks about how difficult it was to escape. She literally spent years in hiding in the south before being able to escape north.

This book made me really think about the history of North Carolina, where I now live. I grew up in Kansas. I saw a few instances of prejudice over the years....but really very few problems. In NC, racial tension is more prevalent. Even after more than 140 years, there are still major racial issues in the south.

I don't understand how some people can be so ignorant and stupid. There are fools here that display the rebel flag, spout the "N'' word, believe the crap spread by groups like the KKK, and who just generally behave like backwoods morons. I blame lack of education, poor upbringing, and maybe even a bit of inbreeding.

BUT......they are a small portion of people here. The majority of people I have met since moving to North Carolina 3 years ago have not been racially prejudiced. It's just too bad that the reputation of this section of the country can be tainted by a small sliver of the population.

Unfortunately, the racism goes both ways. When we lived in the midwest, my son had lots of friends who were black. Color wasn't a factor in choosing friends. Here in the south, there are many black families who don't want their children having white friends, and vice versa. And while my son would never spout racial insults, he has been on the receiving end of terms like "cracker,'' "whitey,'' "ghost'' and several other racial remarks directed at him by black students. Nobody says a word when kids like my son get called "Cracker,'' but all hell breaks loose if a white student calls a black an "N.'' Aren't both terms just as racially prejudiced??

It was major culture shock for us to move here.....there are unspoken "rules'' about things that seem absolutely ludicrous to those who weren't raised in the south. I am proud to say that my family were all German immigrants that came to the Midwest just before the Civil War -- nobody in my family ever owned slaves, or supported slavery in any way. And in my household, no racial slurs or prejudices are tolerated. Period. In my opinion, that's the way it should be. And anyone who thinks differently is not welcome in my home.

This book was very thought provoking, and although it was disturbing, I think it gave me a greater understanding of what it was like to be a slave. And it made me think a lot about how the history of slavery still affects the culture in the southern states.

I read this book before Christmas, but forgot to write a review of it. So here's the review....but it doesn't count toward my 2007 reading goal. Still at 2! :)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

#21 - Bloodbowl by Matt Forbeck

This book caught me by surprise. It's based on a fantasy football game that my husband and son love to play. Despite the fact that I love watching American Football and even play Bloodbowl on occasion, I really didn't think I would like this book.
But....I loved it!!
Bloodbowl (the game) is a miniatures game where fantasy football teams square off and play a no-holds-barred game. Teams are comprised of all sorts of fantasy characters -- ogres, halflings, elves, dwarves, Amazons, Norse, vampires, giant rats, and even human teams. The name Bloodbowl is very fitting as players can be killed and maimed by other players, or even by the crowd watching the game.
The book "Bloodbowl'' by Matt Forbeck brings the experiences of a Bloodbowl rookie player to life. The main character, Dunk, doesn't know what he's getting into when a halfling agent signs him to a contact to play Bloodbowl. Dunk only knows he's a failure at dragon slaying....so why not try Bloodbowl?? The book follows him through his training, and through his first season as a relief thrower for the Bad Bay Hackers.
The book has a lot of football humor in it, and a lot of great puns and wordplay (like a player whose name is Schlitz "Malty'' Likker). It's just an enjoyable romp of a read!
If you're a football fan and like to read fantasy books, then you would definitely enjoy this book!
Forbeck has written 3 books about Bloodbowl. "Bloodbowl'' is the first in the series. "Dead Ball and Death Match'' are the other two novels. I have been told that a fourth book will be coming out soon. Not sure of the title or the publication date, but I do know that I will be reading it! :)
2007 50 Book Challenge: #2

#20 - Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

This book reminded me a lot of the 1970's Kolchak television show, with a bit more horror sprinkled on top.
The main character is a detective with a dark side. He's a man who frequents the supernatural dark underbelly of London...The Nightside. A place where you can see things and have experiences that are impossible anywhere else. The only place where it's normal to see Victorian ladies and space aliens on the subway. The only place where timeslips and magical powers are run of the mill.
The book reads like an old detective novel...the chatty narative style, with bits of dry humor here and there. Here's an example:
"Private Eyes come in all shapes and sizes, and none of them look like television stars. Some do insurance work, some hang around cheap hotels with cam hoping to get evidence for divorce cases, and damn few ever get to investigate complicated murder mysteries. Some chase things that don't exist, or shouldn't. Me, I find things. Sometimes I'd rather not find them, but that comes with the territory. "
It was a great read! I really enjoyed this book. It was horror without a lot of over-done violence. More psychological than slasher. Just the way I like my horror/fantasy. :)
I'm already looking forward to reading the second book in Green's Nightside series "Agents of Light and Darkness.''
2007 50 Book Challenge Count: #1

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2007: Lots to read! :)

Well, it's a new year......and the holidays are finally over and life is settling down around here.

I started this reading blog in August 2006 as a way to start weening myself off television and start reading more. August through December I read 19 books.....Reviews for all of them are listed on this blog.

In 2007, my goal is to read a minimum of 50 books! I have lots of good books on my shelves just waiting to be read.....let's see if I can meet the goal! Information on the 50 Book Challenge is available online, and on many people's blogs. I'm not going to join a blog group....I'll just post what I read here. :) I'm only going to count books I actually sit down and read....no audio books. And I'm not counting children's books that I read to Joshua. Regular, gotta-read-em-with-my-eyeballs books. :)

I'm reading 3 books right now......I never read just one book at a time. Too many good books on my shelves calling my name for me to read just one. :) Plus I'm making up for lost time!! :) I haven't posted a review since early December!

I'm working my way through "Blood Bowl'' by Matt Forbeck, "Something from the Nightside'' by Simon R. Green, and "Deja Dead'' by Kathy Reichs. I'll post reviews for each when I finish them.

It's good to be reading again!!! I love the holidays.......but I'm also glad once everything gets back to normal, too!!