Friday, December 21, 2007
I hope your holidays are happy, and you find some time to relax with a good book!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
"I knew nothing about Iraq and the politics of war. But what I did know was that in all human hostilities animals have suffered horrifically and often anonymously. Unable to flee or defend themselves, they either were slaughtered wholesale in the initial assaults or died agonizingly from thirst and hunger later, locked and desperate in their cages. Or worse, they were callously shot by blood-crazed soldiers just for the hell of it."
So, Anthony decides to go to Iraq to help save whatever is left of the zoo's animals. Shortly after Baghdad was invaded, Anthony flies to Kuwait and begins badgering anyone who will listen, until they let him into Iraq. After a very dangerous journey, he finally arrives at the zoo and discovers appalling conditions. Only the animals that were too dangerous to steal (such as the bears, lions and tigers) were left. Because of the horrible looting, most of the animals had been taken, either for food or for sale on the black market. The animals were in worse condition than Anthony expected and he actually considered whether shooting them would be the most humane option. Working in an extremely dangerous environment, battling relentless looters, with little help and very little supplies, medicine, food and water, Anthony begins the slow and difficult task of nursing the animals back to health and saving the zoo. What impressed me was the help Anthony received from the American soldiers. One might think that when a soldier is in the middle of a war, with bombs and bullets a constant threat, he might be more concerned with staying alive than with helping a few animals. But this was not the case. All the soldiers that Anthony encountered were more than willing to help whenever they could. They gave the animals their shares of MREs, got a generator for the zoo, provided protection and help when Anthony shut down a private zoo holding animals in appalling conditions, and helped to recover some of Saddam's herd of priceless Arabian horses from a very dangerous neighborhood.
Although it seems odd to be using the words "great story" when talking about the Iraq war, this really was. Without focusing on politics and whether the war is right or wrong, Anthony takes us into the heart of Iraq, shows us the everyday realities of war, and how the bravery and compassion of a few good men can create hope.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The Tales of Beedle and the Bard, a limited edition, handwritten and illustrated book of fairy tales by J.K Rowling, sold for nearly $4 million at Sotheby's last week, the highest ever paid for a modern literary manuscript. Amazon.com Inc. is now the proud owner of one of only seven copies of the book. Reportedly, Rowling gave the remaining six copies to "people closely connected to the Harry Potter collection." Proceeds from the sale will go to Children's Voice, a charity co-founded by Rowling that campaigns for children's rights across Europe. You can see pictures of the book on Amazon's website.
The Golden Globe nominations were announced this week. Quite a few of the favorites were movies based on books, such as Atonement, No Country f0r Old Men, A Mighty Heart, Away from Her, Into the Wild, Love in the Time of Cholera and The Kite Runner.
John Grisham's brother, Mark Grisham is set to co-author (with David Donaldson) a novel of the Civil War and the events at Wingate Asylum, under the title Bedlam South. Publication will be in 2008.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
In January, we will have new books by W.E.B Griffin, Sara Paretsky, John Grisham, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, Douglas Preston, Stuart Woods, Jayne Anne Krentz, John Lescroart, Barbara Delinsky, Bernard Cornwell, Jack Higgins, Luanne Rice, Rita Mae Brown, Russell Banks, Arturo Perez-Reverte and Geraldine Brooks. One new author to watch is Jeffrey Hantover, whose first novel, The Jewel Trader of Pegu, has been getting a lot of good publicity and reviews. The historical novel follows a Jewish jem trader from Venice to Burma as he seeks his fortune. I'm really looking forward to this one!
In February we will have new books by James Patterson, Robert B. Parker, J.D. Robb, Lisa Scottoline, Danielle Steel, Robert Crais, Sophie Kinsella, and Mary Kay Andrews. Lauren Willig's fourth book in her Pink Carnation series, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, will also be out this month. I absolutely loved the first three and I can't wait for the next one!
In March we will have new books by Jodi Picoult, Anne Rice, Jeffrey Archer, Steve Martini, Jonathan Kellerman, and Laura Lippman. Benjamin Black's sequel to Christine Falls, Silver Swan, as well as Lisa Lutz's sequel to The Spellman Files, The Curse of the Spellmans, will also be out this month. I enjoyed both of these mysteries (both firsts in a planned series) and am looking forward to meeting up with these characters again. Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong will also be out this month. This novel won the Man Asian Literary Prize a few months ago and has gotten great reviews.
Here's to staying warm with a good book!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The National Book Critics Circle, Amazon, Bookmarks Magazine, Publisher's Weekly, and of course, the supreme leader of book reviews, the New York Times, have all published their picks for best books of 2007. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, Falling Man by Don DeLillo, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid, Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (a National Book Award winner), A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill are just a few of the fiction titles that seem to keep popping up on multiple lists. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, World Without Us by Alan Weisman and Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner (another National Book Award winner) are the popular non-fiction titles.
Did you read anything from these lists? I'm ashamed to say that I've only read a few. But, in my defense, I have many of these books on my shelves at home. I have just been so busy with other books that I haven't made it to these yet. I'll get there, eventually. At least I feel vindicated in buying these books. What were some of your favorite books from 2007? I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns and Gail Tsukiyama's The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, which I did not see on any of these lists, unfortunately. I also enjoyed Rhys Bowen's new series Her Royal Spyness, Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott and Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster. And of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Stay tuned for a list of books to read in the upcoming year!