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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;

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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

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

I got to borrow Zombie vs. Unicorns today. I’ve been waiting for this book for QUITE sometime…

This is the site about the book. I think I originally heard about the book on twitter, which was quite awesome.

I am undecided by which team I am on. Zombies are pretty cool. HOWEVER, my aunt was pro unicorn and I like to think that i am as well…

Maybe they can intermix–turn into zombicorns or Unibies…

Here’s a video… Tell me which you are a fan of…

I heard about Library Loot straight from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.

Here’s my list:
Dracula, My Love by Syrie James
I saw this at work once, and it sounded like something interesting to read, let’s hope that it is!

Love Lies Bleeding by Susan Wittig Albert
This is one of the few of the China Bayles’ series I haven’t read.
Rueful Death by Susan Wittig Albert
Again, one of the few I haven’t read. Yay!
These Children Who Come at You with Knives by Jim Knipfel
I liked the title. ::facepalm::

 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
This is the last one of the trilogy and I haven’t read it.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Reading for book group (Nook users group).

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Looked interesting, haven’t read much from the time period.

What are you reading??? What did you get from the library this week?

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

In October, I found out I won a contest on Reading with Tequila. I was super excited, as I really like that site and the books have been on my wishlist!

I got the package in the mail today, they were:
iDrakula by Bekka Black
What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen
Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany

I really can’t wait to read these, but I’m thinking since it’s only about 2 weeks until the new year, I could hold off and save them for some of my CHALLENGES…

Whaddya think?
Should I read them now, or wait until the new year and finish up some of the library books I have?

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