The Good Thief

The Good Thief
by: Hannah Tinti

Published: 2008

# of pages: 327

Quote: "'I think we should all say a prayer for William,' he said.
'He doesn't need one,' said Ichy.
'We all need prayers,' said Brother Joseph. 'Especially when something good happens to us.' He sighed. 'Bad luck follows anything that's good. And bad things always happen in threes.'
The boys contemplated this as they continued with their work. And more than a few were secretly glad." -pg. 12

The Good Thief reminded me of a tall tale. Like Big Fish by Daniel Wallace. The story is full of adventure. Thieves, orphans, traveling, a little dwarf with a big attitude, a gentle giant (well, I'm not so sure how gentle he was to people other than the main character), an evil factory owner, a dashing thief and con artist who tells magnificent tales, men "rising from the dead," and lots of graveyards.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well written and once I started I couldn't put it down. I read it in about 24 hours because instead of helping my husband in the yard I spent the day inside (wrapped in blankets laying on the couch) reading this book.

It's about a 12 year old boy named Ren who has spent his entire life in an orphanage. One day he is picked for adoption out of all the boys by a man who claims to be his brother. It isn't long before Ren discovers that Benjamin Nab isn't his brother although the two are similar in many ways. How can you not love Ren? He's a great kid and everyone he meets likes him, which makes him valuable to Benjamin and his friend Tom, who are thieves. Ren gives them some credibility, people trust him and therefore begin to trust his caretakers...who are robbing them.

The trio meets many interesting people on their journey to making money by stealing, conning, and robbing graves. All of these people are fascinating and it was interesting that they all had something "wrong" with them. But they all fit right in with Ren, who is missing his hand. I loved all of the characters and how they struggle through life.

Benjamin, Tom, and Ren fight evil in a town ruled by a tyrant factory owner. Mysteries are solved and everything turns out (almost) okay. The story is somewhat dark with all of the descriptions of grave robbing, amputations, suicides, orphans, and people being mistreated by those with more power. If you read this book you have to understand that it does have that tall tale feeling. Don't expect it to be really realistic.

I am giving this 4 stars here, but I really give it 4 and a half. It doesn't get a 5 because it didn't really draw me into the story. Stories that center around young children usually don't (it's missing the romance). This almost seems like a book that would be good for children, but it is a little too graphic with the dark descriptions and the minor sexual subjects. I do recommend it to young adults and adults, especially if you enjoy historical fiction and tales that are similar to Daniel Wallace's novel and Charles Dickens' novels (the orphans, thieves, factory girls, urban environment, etc reminded me of him as well).

I would love to hear what you thought of this book!

The Human Stain

The Human Stain
by: Philip Roth

Challenges: My Year of Reading Dangerously

Published: 2000

# of pages: 361

What a deep book. Honestly, I didn't really like it much. The language was crude and so was the subject matter. Sure, it gives the reader an unedited glimpse of human nature. And I appreciated that there's at least one person out there addressing how out of control the concept of being "politically correct" has become.

The Human Stain uses the character of Coleman Silk, the former dean at a small town college and professor of ancient literature, as an example of what mob mentality can do to an individual person. And an example of what happens to someone who loses everything for a reason that is unexplainable. One word changes Silk's life forever and the injustice is hard to read about. The reader wants to step into the book and yell at these people, "How can you do this to someone!? How can you sacrifice a good man who has accomplished so much and helped each of you out?"

I don't enjoy reading about war and depression and sexual misconduct and death and deceit. It's bad enough reading the news everyday. The subjects in the book made it hard to pick it up and read about them happening to fictional characters. I think there are things to be learned from this book, but a lot of it we already know about. Unfortunately, most people already know about the stains humans leave behind.

There is a plot twist to the book. I liked the part that told of Coleman's childhood. I was also interested in the memories of Les Farley, the Vietnam veteran who struggles with post traumatic stress disorder. It's one thing to read about that in history books, but another to get into the mind of a character who experienced all of that and returned home to find everything changed with no understanding or support available.

Anyway, I recommend this book to fans of Roth and people who enjoy intellectual books that explore the minds and thoughts of all different types of people, from war vets to college deans. Like I've mentioned several times, it has a lot of bad language and sexual descriptions so avoid it if that bothers you.

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Twilight Movie

If you've seen the movie, what did you think?

I thought it was good, but not great. In that aspect it was very disappointing. They could have made it like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Awesome cinematography and special effects. Great casting and acting. Cool and inspiring music. It could have been a film that made people who hadn't already read the books go buy them to read and discover even more of the story. But Twilight was an average movie. I can't imagine anyone who hadn't read the books enjoying it enough to read the books or even see the next movie (if there is going to be a next movie).

However, the movie was better than I expected. I had heard horrible reviews about the acting/makeup/special effects and was scared, but the only acting I thought was forced and bad was the actor who played Edward. And yes, that's one of the main characters! Edward should be smooth and eloquent when he speaks, not forced and choppy. I think that book Edward might sound like movie Edward every once in awhile when he's really trying to control himself around Bella, but he doesn't sound like that all the time! Movie Edward reminded me of Anakin Skywalker in the new Star Wars movies (ugg). Completely fake and forced. Very disappointing.

The movie didn't spend enough time on the love between Edward and Bella. You don't really get why they like each other. Edward wasn't protective enough. He lets Bella climb around in trees hundreds of feet in the air. No way book Edward would let Bella do that! He knows how clumsy she is.

I also hated the way they had the vampires fly. Vampires can jump really far because they have more strength than humans. But they still follow the laws of gravity. I never imagined them flying like they do in martial arts movies. But that's how it looks in the movie.

Okay, so there were so many little things that bothered me. I don't understand why the movie was like that when it had the potential to be so much better.

Things I did like about the movie: Jacob. Alice. Rosalie. Emmett. Charlie & Billy. Bella. They were a lot like how I imagined them to be from reading the books. And I liked the baseball scene in the movie. And the part where the apple falls and Edward kicks it up and catches it. I also liked that there were several humorous parts. They weren't super obvious or stupid, but just enough to make you laugh or smile. And I liked Bella's clumsy moments in the movie. The movie stayed really close to the book. Of course there were some changes, but so much was taken directly from the book.

So there you have it! I'd watch the movie again, but it isn't one of my favorites and I definitely won't pay to see it in theatres again. And I love the book, so if I ever want a Twilight fix fast I can just go rent the movie.

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Top Selling Books

USA Today's Top Selling Books of the last 15 years Meme!

I got this from Maggie's blog
Here are the rules: Bold what you've read, italicize what you own, star* books on your TBR list!

1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
2 Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution - Robert C. Atkins
3 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
8 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
9 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
10 Who Moved My Cheese? - Spencer Johnson
11 The South Beach Diet - Arthur Agatston
12 Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Albom
13 Angels & Demons - Dan Brown
14 *What to Expect When You're Expecting - Murkoff, etal.
15 The Purpose-Driven Life - Rick Warren
16 The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
17 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
18 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
19 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - John Gray
20 The Secret - Rhonda Byrne
21 Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert T. Kiyosaki
22 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
23 Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - and It's All Small Stuff - Richard Carlson
24 *The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
25 Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
26 Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
27 The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks
28 *The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards
29 The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
30 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
31 A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle
32 Oh, the Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss
33 The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
34 Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
35 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
36 Body-for-Life - Bill Phillips, Michael D’Orso
37 New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
38 Night - Elie Wiesel
39 Chicken Soup for the Soul - Jack Canfield, etal.
40 The Greatest Generation - Tom Brokaw
41 Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
42 The Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield
43 Wicked - Gregory Maguire
44 Good to Great - Jim Collins
45 Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
46 Eragon - Christopher Paolini
47 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Rebecca Wells
48 Your Best Life Now - Joel Osteen
49 In the Kitchen With Rosie - Rosie Daley
50 Simple Abundance - Sarah Ban Breathnach
51 A Child Called It - Dave Pelzer
52 A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
53 The Testament - John Grisham
54 Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul - Jack Canfield, etal.
55 Deception Point - Dan Brown
56 The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
57 Marley & Me - John Grogan
58 Dr. Atkins' New Carbohydrate Gram Counter - Robert C. Atkins
59 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
60 The Brethren - John Grisham
61 The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide - Arthur Agatston
62 The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town - John Grisham
63 For One More Day - Mitch Albom
64 The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg
65 *The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
66 The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow
67 What to Expect the First Year - Arlene Eisenberg, etal.
68 Love You Forever - Robert Munsch
69 Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
70 A Painted House - John Grisham
71 The Rainmaker - John Grisham
72 Skipping Christmas - John Grisham
73 Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier
74 The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
75 Life Strategies - Phillip C. McGraw
76 Seabiscuit: An American Legend - Laura Hillenbrand
77 The Summons - John Grisham
78 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt
79 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
80 The Runaway Jury - John Grisham
81 Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown
82 The Perfect Storm - Sebastian Junger
83 Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
84 The Giver - Lois Lowry
85 Embraced by the Light - Betty J. Eadie
86 *The Chamber - John Grisham
87 You: On A Diet - Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz
88 The Prayer of Jabez - Bruce Wilkinson
89 Holes - Louis Sachar
90 Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
91 The Shack - William P. Young
92 The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger
93 Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
94 A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
95 The Seat of the Soul - Gary Zukav
96 Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul - Jack Canfield, etal.
97 The Partner - John Grisham
98 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
99 Eldest: Inheritance, Book II - Christopher Paolini
100 The Broker - John Grisham
101 The Street Lawyer - John Grisham
102 A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket
103 *The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
104 Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
105 *The King of Torts - John Grisham
106 The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
107 The Horse Whisperer - Nicholas Evans
108 Hannibal - Thomas Harris
109 The Audacity of Hope - Barack Obama
110 Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
111 The Glass Castle: A Memoir - Jeannette Walls
112 My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
113 The Last Juror - John Grisham
114 The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson
115 Left Behind - Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins
116 America (The Book) - Jon Stewart
117 The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
118 John Adams - David McCullough
119 The Christmas Box - Richard Paul Evans
120 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares
121 Sugar Busters! - Leighton Steward, etal.
122 Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
123 The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
124 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life - Don Piper
125 The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
126 1776 - David McCullough
127 The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
128 Where the Heart Is - Billie Letts
129 The Ultimate Weight Solution - Phillip C. McGraw
130 Protein Power - Mr. & Mra. Michael R. Eades
131 Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul - Jack Canfield, etal.
132 Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
133 Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
134 Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
135 You: The Owner's Manual - Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz
136 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List - Patricia Schultz
137 Self Matters - Phillip C. McGraw
138 She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
139 1984 - George Orwell
140 The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
141 The Millionaire Next Door - Thomas J. Stanley
142 The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
143 The Zone - Barry Sears, Bill Lawren
144 The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve
145 The Lost World - Michael Crichton
146 Atonement - Ian McEwan
147 He's Just Not That Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo
148 Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
149 The World Is Flat - Thomas L. Friedman
150 Cross - James Patterson

To sum it up: I've read 39 of these and I have 7 on my TBR list.

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Dragon's Lair

Dragon's Lair
by: Sharon Kay Penman

Challenges: TBR

Published: 2003

# of pages: 317

I wasn't really impressed with this one. I read The Queen's Man by Penman several years ago and remember enjoying that. I think that if I had read Dragon's Lair just after the first book I would enjoy it more. Apparently Penman also wrote another medieval mystery in between these two. I'm not sure if it's a part of the series, but I think so. If I had read them all together in order I think I may have been more interested in this novel.

It is a historical fiction/medieval mystery. The story is about Justin, the Queen Eleanor's man. He works directly for her spying and solving mysteries. Eleanor supports her son Richard while John is constantly trying to undermine both of them to get the throne. Justin is caught up in the middle.

The character Justin is a hard one to understand. He's sweet and sympathetic and protects women, but at the same time he sleeps around and doesn't learn his lesson after getting one woman pregnant and ruining her life. I suppose that's how a man would act in those times, but it was frustrating that he seems to be so much better than the average man during that time, but at the same time he isn't. So I didn't know what to think about him or even if I liked him or not. I didn't connect to him or really care what happened to him, which made it harder to enjoy the book.

However, I think historical fiction novels are great ways to learn history lessons. Penman stays close to actual historical events and writes about any changes she made in an author's note at the back of the book. I love it when authors do this because sometimes I will read a historical fiction novel and wonder how much of it is true. At the end of this book I found myself interested in her character of Llewelyn, who is an actual historical figure, a prince of Wales. She said she wrote more about him in her novel Here Be Dragons, so I think I may check that one out to read more about him and his life.

Anyway, the writing is good, but not great, just like the storyline. I recommend this to adults who enjoy historical fiction or the medieval time period. There were some adult situations which is why I don't recommend it to young adults.

Movies based off books

I watched "Rebecca" and it was great! I definitely recommend watching it, even if you haven't read the book. It was a great representation of the story and while there were changes made to fit it into the 2 hour movie, they didn't disrupt the story at all. The only changes I was disappointed in were the details of Rebecca's death. The movie version made it less creepy and less romantic. In the book the main character loves Maxim through all of the horrors at Manderley. It wasn't as difficult for her to love him in the movie. Also, the movie has the main character starting to stick up for herself before she does in the book. Sure, it was great to see her sticking up for herself and I thought she should have sooner in the book, but it made Rebecca's presense in the movie more mellow. However, it was overall a great movie and I was actually surprised at how close the dialogue and scenes were to the book.

Here's a list of movies coming out this season that are based on books (I copied it from Jessica).

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
City of Ember
The Secret Life of Bees
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Quantum of Solace
The Road
The Tale of Despereaux
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marley & Me
Revolutionary Road

I've read Ember, Twilight, and The Time Traveler's Wife. The Secret Life of Bees and Coraline have been on my TBR list since January. They are both listed under my challenges too. I picked a horrible time to read TSLOB because now I'm #100 in the reserve list at my library. I had no clue they were making a movie of it until it came out! I was also surprised to see "City of Ember" in the previews.

I'm most looking forward to seeing "Twilight" and "The Time Traveler's Wife." I can't wait!!

I know that Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is also going to be made into a movie, but I can't remember the release date. That's another book I've read and it's one of my favorites, so I can't wait to see the movie.

I think the most exciting things about movies being made from books is that then I can get my husband to share the joy of the stories. I would love for him to read all of these books, but since he won't he'll just have to watch the movies with me! Although he did read and love the Twilight books and he's taking me to see the movie (which is coming out on my birthday, Nov 21!).

Which of these have you read and which are you most excited about seeing at the movies? Are there any other movies that are being released that are from books that aren't on this list?

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by: Daphne du Maurier

Published: 1938 (Harper 2006)

# of pages: 386

Quote: "And time will melow it, make it a moment for laughter. But now it was not funny, now I did not laugh. It was not the future, it was the present. It was too vivid and too real." -p. 222

I started reading this on Halloween. It's a Gothic suspense, I think just perfect for being creeped out, but not too scared. And it's true, this was a great suspense novel that kept me on my toes. Apparently this is a very well known book, but I'm ashamed to admit that I've never heard of it before. Have you? There's even an Alfred Hitchcock film based on the novel that I'm going to check out from the library tonight. I'll let you know if it's good!

The story follows a young lady who falls in love with a wealthy estate owner, Maxim. She hears rumors about how he's been married before and although he admits it, he stays pretty quiet about the subject. He asks her to marry him and takes her back to his house, Manderley. The novel follows her as she adjusts to a new environment and the fact that Maxim had a beautiful and vibrant wife named Rebecca, who is still revered and respected by the household and their neighbors.

Mrs. Danvers is in charge of the household staff and is the creepy antagonist in the novel. The reader is constantly wondering what she's really up to. Maxim is slightly oblivious to household affairs and so the narrator is left to herself to discover how deep Rebecca's influence over Manderley is.

I had an idea of the big plot twist towards the beginning of the novel but then second guessed it. I think all readers will always be a step ahead of the narrator when it comes to some of the surprises she receives, but I think it's safe to say that when the big plot twist occurs you will be surprised. And even after the big surprise the reader is still left wondering what will happen. There's always a sense of dread throughout the book, even when things seem to be going well.

The narrator is sweet and timid with an overactive imagination. In some ways she reminds me of myself, especially how she makes up scenarios in her mind of what could happen. I'm glad to say that I'm not nearly so timid as she is. She's painfully shy and there were times I wanted to go in the book and just encourage her to step out a little and not be so scared of upsetting people. However, I think her character was realistic and am glad du Maurier chose her personality type for a main character.

I recommend this book to everyone. It's a well written classic that may be a little too serious for some young adults, but is great for high schoolers and adults.

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