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Islamic Extremists. Shootings. Bombings. Credit Cards. These are the things of Offred’s past. These are the things Offred remembers. She lives now, as a handmaid, for the Commander and Serena Joy. Offred is a vessel–her only job is to conceive a child and keep living life along the guidelines she was taught in her re-education classes.

Offred remembers a time before she wore the red habit, before the rhythm of the whole home depended on her fertile times. Offred had a life, a child, a lover/husband…best friends and a mother who was known for being a woman’s rights activist.

Offred held a job until the day the banks froze accounts belonging to woemn, the same day that the Constitution was ‘susepended.’ Women are now to be dependent on men, it is an edict…and then there is a new order to things. In this new order, there is safety. There are less bombings. There is less to fear.

Offred is one of the lucky ones, and she knows it. Despite her age, she is deemed fertile. She is not, as some havge been, shipped off to the colonies and deemed an unwoman. That is the worst that could happen, apart from not conceiving a baby with the man of the house, acting as a surrogate for the lady of the house.

There is a lot of ceremony in Gilead, where the story takes place. There are a lot of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s. There is shopping, always done by two handmaids in the company of one another. There is Salvaging–the act of hanging criminals for their wrongdoings for things like perversion or gender treachery (being gay).

There is also an underground female movement called the Femaleroad, where women are helped and taken to other, more sympathetic countries.

After the abrupt end of the novel is an afterward which is dated 2195. It is here where a few details are fleshed out. The Handmaid’s Tale apparently consisted of multiple cassette tapes, with voice recording. It is here we find out the city of Gilead was really Bangor, Maine. Also, the Handmaid’s account may have some holes, particularly where the commander and his wife are
concerned.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I’ve read it before, but it was calling to me because of my recent interest in social dystopian novels. Margaret Atwood masterfully melds story, character and societal commentary into one enjoyable novel. There were a lot of things leading to the Cleansing that are in the media now–it definitely made me a bit nervous. The idea that it could happen is sobering.

I received a copy of this book electronically, using my Nook’s LendMe feature and the site http://bookfriend.me/

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
286 pages; Houghton Mifflin
Hardcover: 1986;

Emily Prager’s Roger Fishbite is told through the eyes of nymphette Lucky Lady Linderhof. At the age of twelve, Lucky’s mom cleans up her alcohol habit, due to her boarder, whom Lucky calls Roger Fishbite.

As her mother begins to spend more time with the man, eventually marrying him, Lucky’s relationship with Roger descends closer and closer into a Lolita relationship.

Lucky knows what sex is through her various daytime talk show schedule, yet there is something very innocent and naive about her. I suspect the mother sees the look in the new husband’s eyes, as she sends Lucky away to a boarding school.

Shortly after her arrival, Roger shows up at the private school her mother sent her to, it isn’t until they are ensconced in a series of no-tell motels that Lucky is finally told the truth–her mother is dead. And it is then that her life changes.

Throughout the novel, Lucky is heard as a young, clear and ambitious character. She is honest to the reader, and a little naive in her youth.

This is a great debut from Emily Prager. I can’t wait to read more. I picked this up at the clearance section at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.

Roger Fishbite by Emily Prager
228 pages; Vintage
Paperback: March 1999 Retail: 6.99 Pounds

At the end of The Girl Who Played with Fire, Lisbeth Salander is left for dead. Fans of the Milennium trilogy
who wait on bated breath will be happy to hear of the resilient hacker and her fight to survive multiple gunshot wounds and a court case.

Bruised and battered physically, Salander’s will to survive is fierce. She survives brain surgery as well as some heavy recovery time while in a hospital under lock and key–a prisoner of the state. Her sadistic father lies in a room only a few doors down, until he, too, is taken down by an assassin.

Mikael Blomkvist enlists his sister to represent Salander at the trial. Blomkvist, with Salander’s help, relies on his journalistic background to come to his friend’s defense. Salander contacts two old hacker friends. Berger gets a series of disturbing and sadistic emails at her new job. More and more information about Salander’s past ponts to a high-ranking government cover up, and the government is more focused than ever to keep that information under wraps.

This, being the final volume of the trilogy, was something I looked forward to, but also dreaded. It took a bit of time to get into the book, but once I was into it, I had a hard time putting down the book. I don’t think any reader thinks it easy to know they are approaching the end of a series and NOT feeling some bit of melancholy.

I got this book at the library.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
563 pages; Knopf
Hardcover: Retail: $27.95

Beecher White is a reliable, quiet man working at the National Archives. Contacted by a former childhood crush named Clementine, Beecher agrees to meet her and do some research for her. On the day of her visit, the safe and reliable life he knows is over– Beecher uncovers a secret men have died for!
While a lot of the action takes place in the National Archives, there is action in and around Washington D.C. It was interesting to read about the policies and procedures within the library…And I definitely liked reading that a librarian/historian is the main character.
I got a copy of this, in ebook format, from Net Galley, in exchange for a review. It will be released on January 11, 2011.
It’s obvious author Brad Meltzer knows his subject and does his research. I really liked the book and, at 457 pages, I never felt like the book dragged on–which is fantastic! I did feel like there was a major opening at the end for a continuation of the novel–a possible series.
<u>The Inner Circle</u> by Brad Meltzer

457 pages; Grand Central Publishing

Hardcover: Jan 2011 Retail: $26.99

Ralph Truitt places an ad in a newspaper in the beginning of the twentieth century. When mysterious Catherine Land answers the ad, she steps off the train and onto the platform in the small Wisconsin town Truitt calls home. Truitt immediately realizes that the woman is not the one in the photograph he was sent. Calling her a liar, he storms her away from the train station and ends up in an accident.
After nursing him back to health and receiving his forgiveness, Catherine is accepted by Truitt and his household workers, but is still holding back–it isn’t until she goes on an adventure to find Truitt’s estranged son that more details about her past come to light.
Catherine has a dark past, even having a tie in with Ralph’s, unbeknownst to him (who also has a bit of a dark past). And what she starts doing, or rather, stops doing is shocking.
I started reading this for my Nook Owners book group. I was immediately drawn in by the mystery, and to be honest I had held off initially on reading it–but there was a lady who came into work and sang it’s praises. She was right–it was great!
As the story went on, I was drawn to Catherine, her past and the type of person she was.
I got this copy from the library, it was well worth it. I’ve also been recommending the book left and right to people. I recommend it to anyone looking for a literary read–and check out the author’s inspiration as well!

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
291 pages; Algonquin Books
Hardcover: March 2009 Retail: $23.95

Lena lives in a world where love is a disease. It’s a disease Lena does NOT want. She will have the procedure that will stop all of the sickness within four months–on her eighteenth birthday. Until then, she has much to do–graduation and evaluation.

Evaluation is done by the government to determine the course of her life…in this way, her life will be safe and predictable. But on the day of Lena’s evaluation, a herd of cattle are released into the facility and Lena must be retested.

But for the first time, Lena is uncertain as to whether or not she wants to be evaluated. She saw a boy, Alex, that day…and it changed her life. Alex wears the three pronged scar that the cured wear, but Alex hides a dark secret.

Soon, Lena is no longer the obedient child she once was. She sneaks out during a raid to notify people at a party playing restricted music. At the party, she is rescued from the raiders by Alex. And begins to have feelings for Alex.

I really liked this novel, once I got it downloaded onto my Nook. It was a quick read and well-written novel. I liken it to Brave New World, The Handmaiden’s Tale or Carrie Ryan’s Dead Tossed Waves series. It’s a social dystopian novel. The government monitors phone calls for words like ‘love’ and ‘sympathizer’ and ‘Invalid.’ There is a border fence all around the country, including the area Lena lives in (Maine). Borders are closely watched and identification is needed at all times, for lack of a better term the whole place is a police state. All websites are written by governemnt agencies, there are lists of approved books, movies and music.

This is very startling read, and the idea that these types of things could happen are very scary to me, I believe in the first amendment, and I think that people should have freedoms, I am blessed to have my freedom. I received a copy of this from NetGalley in epub format in exchange for a review…Here’s a countdown meter to it’s release date.

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver
305 pages; Harper Collins
Hardcover: February 1, 2011 Retail: $17.99

We all have heard our mothers regale friends, family and complete strangers with cute things we did as kids–that just so happen to embarass us as adults. With his book Sorry I Peed On You (and Other Heartwarming Letters to Mommy), MSN parenting blogger Jeremy Greenberg takes ‘cute’ to the next level.
From a twenty-two month old’s missive ‘See how far I can throw my sippy cup’ to a ten month old’s ode to dirt (hint: It’s what’s for dinner!), Greenberg hits the nail on the head–these letters to our favorite lady inspire laughs and fun for one reader–or even the whole family!
I laughed a lot during this reading, and at only 65 pages in electronic format, it’s a quick read–a great gift for even the non-reader you may know…or the mom who’s juggling a lot of hats and doesn’t have enough time to sit down with a large five hundred plus page tome. I think the grouping of the pictures in the book were also pretty cute, you know, for a book about kids (this is coming from someone without kids).
I received this book in electronic format in exchange for a review from NetGalley. I was in no way compensated for my review, but when the book comes out on March 22, 2011, I’m definitely going to pick up a copy for a Mother’s Day gift.

Sorry I Peed On You (And Other Heartwarming Letters to Mommy) by Jeremy Greenberg
65 pages; Andrews McMeel Publishing
Paperback: March 22, 2011 Retail: $9.99

Sir Quinlan is recruited to an elite unit of knights serving the Prince–the Swords of Valor. When Quinlan is blamed for a tragic event that leads the group to disband, Quinlan finds himself alone in the world.

Rather than do something destructive or faithless, Quinlan decides to fulfill his destiny, meeting Taras and eventually being trained by the mysterious warrior. Taras is full of secrets, but had trained the Swords of Valor in the past. Going through massive bouts of training, Quinlan is given a task by his Prince…Quinlan must reunite the Swords of Valor in order to preserve the Kingdom of Arrethtrae.

Though this was my first foray into the series, it was a well written book and could certainly stand on it’s own. It had an easy to follow storyline, and the illustrations, though few, were really well done and enjoyable. I did think, however, that I would want to read previous novels in the series, just because I’m normally a ‘read in the order they come’ kinda girl.

There were discussion questions as well as the sheet music for a song in the back of the book.  The discussion questions also had an answer guide, complete with scripture and passages with the answers–which is very helpful if you are in a discussion featuring this book!

The novel, and the series, is a good choice for young adults and adults of all ages–it’s something that could definitely be read quickly and then discussed for a group setting.

I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program from Walter Brook Multnomah in exchange for a review… THANK YOU, Walter Brook Multnomah!

The Knights of Arrethtrae #5: Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor by Chuck Black
194 pages; Multnomah
Paperback: October 2010 Retail: $9.99

One of the coolest things about living in Southern California is the proximity to celebrities–we see them everywhere. Well, to be honest, we don’t necessarily encounter celebrities all the time. But there are some enterprising individuals that collect tidbits about our favorite celebrities and collect them to distribute verbally to the tourists and natives who are interested in ‘hearing it all’–enter former tour guide Stephen Schochet.

Schochet runs the who range of celebrities from the early celebrities from the first takes of Hollywoodland (as it was called) to contemporary stuff.

I really liked the way the chapters are broken up in this book, too. Readers can, like me, read the whole book, or even just pick and choose what they want to read–from silent film era to comedy stylings into awards and everything in between.

Overall, Stephen Schochet’s Hollywood Stories is an interesting, in-depth look at movies, their stars and everything in between. It’s great to be able to take some of those pieces of trivia and imart them on your friends and family.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet
312 pages; Hollywood Stories Publishing
Hardcover: 2010 Retail: $24.95

Everyone can relate to having a nightmare, and chances are, there is probably a dark figure in a ratty sweater and even long, rusty claws somewhere in the ‘dreamland’ each night. This is Freddy, and he’s been lurking around dreams for decades, both on-screen AND off.

Behind the horrible burned visage of Freddy is a classically trained, soft spoken man named Robert Englund, and he tells his story with the help of Alan Goldsher in this memoir. From his early days of surfing to his teen years and the discovery of theatre.

Englund regales readers with tales from Nightmare sets as well as from V, the tv series about the alien invasion (originally airing in the 90s).

I always liked Freddy, but by reading this book, I gained a LOT of respect for Robert Englund. He’s been through a lot, and continues to be a consummate professional.

I got a copy of this book from the library, and it was totally worth the read! The photos were great, and I particularly enjoyed the stories from the makeup chair and on the set of V.
Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street with the Man of your Dreams by Robert Englund and Alan Goldsher
304 pages; Pocket Books
Hardcover: October 2009 Retail: $26.00

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