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Title: Between the Sheets
Author: Robin Wells
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 10/10
# pages: 382
Date read: January, 2008


Review: It's a nightmare come true. Instead of continuing her lucrative career as a Butler, Emma Jamison suddenly finds herself having to pick up the shatters of her reputation, move away from her home, and start afresh in a small rural town after being at the wrong place at the wrong time means everybody thinks she's the girl who gave the president-elect a fatal heart-attack during an illicit sex-romp.

Unfortunately moving away changes nothing. Everybody is still convinced of her guilt, and as she has a phobia against TV cameras she can't even go public and defend herself... not like anybody would believe her anyway. The story is far too juicy for that.

However, when Emma falls for Max Duval, the local DA she knows something has to be done. Being with a public figure is the last thing she needs, and dating an alleged call-girl is the last thing he needs. If only they could find the girl who really was with the president-elect that night...

Between the Sheets is chick-lit of the best kind. The characters come alive in Robin Well's writing and you can't help but care for them all - from Emma's grandmother and her late-in-life-new-husband, who are both wonderfully eccentric, to Katie, the town hair-stylist who is the only person to believe Emma's innocence and helps bolster her up, with her no-nonsense ideas and quick wit and Max, the unlikely knight in shining armour.

As an all-around great story I had sever difficulties putting Between the Sheets down at night. I loved the romance between Emma and Max and seeing how his trust made her grow, but the best surprise of the story was the adorable love-story between Emma's grandmother and Max' grandfather. Love can happen at any age, and seeing Grams take care of yet another husband with Alzheimer was incredibly touching. A spunky old lady, she gives Emma the best description of love she could ever get: "When you love someone, their burdens are yours, and yours are theirs, and it's your heart's desire to help them any way you can." - Even by facing a panic-inducing TV-phobia to clear your name.

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Title: Cross-Stitch (UK version of "Outlander")
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 10/10
# pages: 863
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Review: This is the first time I've ever read Cross-Stitch rather than Outlander and while the differences between the UK and the US were very few and far between, I've still read the US version enough times, that I find it unnerving whenever I came across an edit. I mean, would Claire ever have said "The mind boggles" in the original? No, I didn't think so either. Some scenes have been left out too, and while it means nothing plot-wise, it still bugged me. Ah well, if past experience is anything to go by, then this copy will soon have been read to tatters and I'll buy a new one anyway, and make sure it's Outlander once again ;)

That said, this book remains one of my all-time favourites. It has action, comedy, romance, tragedy... everything a girl could wish for. By far the best of the series I read it once every second year or so and never seem to tire of it.

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Title: The Realms of the Gods
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 6/10
# pages: 228
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Daine and Numair are suddenly swept into the otherworldly home of the gods after facing certain death on earth. But they cannot remain there for long, because they are both needed to help fight the desparate battle raging in Tortall. And so they undertake the dangerous journey back to earth...a journey that will teach them a great deal about life and about each other, a journey that will lead to the startling culmination of the conflicts, both mortal and immortal, that have long plagued Tortall.

Review: I don't think I've read this one since I first read the Immortals quartet, because I remembered it as being boring and definitely the weakest of all Tamora Pierce's books. After 10'ish years I figured it was time to give it a second chance, but have to conclude that my first opinion still holds. Doubt I'll ever read it again. There are too many good books out there to waste my time on the 'meh' ones.

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Title: The Road to Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Genre: Classics,
Rating: 6/10
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Meet Dorothy's new friends, the Shaggy Man, Button Bright and Polychrome, as you travel with them to the Emerald City. Share their adventures with the Musicker and the Scoodlers. See how they escape from the Soup-Kettle and what they found at the Truth Pond. Find out how they are able to cross the Deadly Desert and finally get to the Emerald City of Oz.

Review: Unfortunately L. Frank Baum's books get more and more repetitive for each book. It's as if he can't really think up more new things for Dorothy to experience, and so continues to fall back on the 'tried and tested' ones. In this one I got the feeling that there was no real plot at all, but just descriptions of more weird characters Baum could think up. I'll read the next, as Baum himself considered that the 'end' of the Oz series, and then leave it at that.

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Title: Emperor Mage
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 239
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Daine sails to Cathak as part of a peace treaty delegation from Tortall. There she is amazed by strange and wondrous sights, including rooms filled with dinosaur bones and the Emperor Mage's zoo. But she also senses a darkness beneath all the gold and glitter, a darkness that lies in wait. At the same time, Daine is discovering that her own wild magic is growing again, this time giving her powers both great and terrifying.

Review: Daine actually voiced my thoughts about this book herself: "I don't like who I've been here." I wouldn't go as far as to say I don't like her, but I'm definitely not as fond of her as I am in Tortall. I think a great deal of this is because in Tortall she works together with her friends, whereas here she was alone most of the time, and it just didn't appeal as much to me.

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Title: Such a Time as This
Author: Rebecca Velez
Genre: Historical fiction, Christian fiction
Rating: 10/10
# pages: 149
Date read: January, 2008


Review: Such a Time as This is based on the Biblical book of Esther. The Book of Esther has always been one of my favourites, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read this novel and had great hopes for it. Thankfully, it didn't disappoint.

In Such a Time as This the Jewess Esther is kidnapped by palace guards while she's at the marked, shopping for her sick grandmother. The Persian king has just discharged his queen in disgrace, and all the beautiful girls of the city are rounded up and brought to the castle to join the king's harem and compete for the position as a possible replacement.

By the grace of God Esther is chosen as the new queen, placing her in a position to fulfill God's plans for her life and intercede for the Jews when a malicious assistant to the king sends out a decree to kill all Jews.

Such a Time as This is a fascinating retelling of a well-known story that brings the characters of the Book of Esther to life as never before. It is written in a way that is accessible and easy to understand even for people not familiar with the Biblical tale.

According to the author, Rebecca Velez is currently working on a sequel to Such a Time as This, and although it will obviously be based on free speculation rather than a true story, I am already looking forward to reading more of her work.

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Title: Wolf Speaker
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 227
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: When Daine is summoned by the wolf pack that saved her life a year earlier, she knows she has to go. She and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley to answer the call. But when they arrive, Daine realizes with a shock that it's not just the animals whose lives are threatened; people are in danger too. Dunlath's rulers have discovered black opals in their valley and are dead set on mining the magic these stones embody. Daine learns that Dunlath's lord and lady plan to use this power to overthrow King Jonathan -- even if it means irreversibly damaging the land and killing their workers.

Review: I think this is my favourite of the Immortal books. I've always liked the wolves, and I also enjoy reading about how Daine gets more and more accustomed to her new abilities.

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Title: Wild Magic (Immortals #1)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 250
Date read: January 2008, August 2011


Summary: Young Daine's knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine's talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.

Review: While I like Daine, I'll never love her the way I do Alanna and Kel. I don't know why, and it's not really fair, but her story never grasped me the same way. But that doesn't mean I don't still enjoy this quartet, and especially the first book is great fun. Hearing her reactions to meeting the characters we know and love from Song of the Lioness is always interesting.

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Title: Sue Barton, Staff Nurse
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: YA, classics
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 103
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: This "Sue Barton" story starts with Sue happy at home with Bill and their four children, Tabitha, Johnny, Jerry, and Baby Sue. Life is peaceful. However, all this changes when Bill comes home from a fishing trip, suffering from pneumonia; and once he recovers from this, it is discovered that he has a small case of TB, and must go to a sanitarium for six months. Sue is upset, but decides to cope with the situation by going back to work.

She takes a staff nurse job at Springdale Hospital, and there she does the kind of work she likes best: direct interaction with the patients. There are many humorous vignettes involving the patients. But Sue worries that her fellow staff nurses may not accept her as one of them because she was once Superintendent of Nurses. And how will Su

Review: With the last book in the series, we return to what interests me the most - Sue's work at the hospital. This book is a lot shorter than the others, and seems more like an afterthought than anything else. That didn't stop me from enjoying it though.

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Title: Heidi
Author: Johanna Spyri
Genre: Classics, childrens
Rating: 10/10
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Johanna Spyri's classic story of a young orphan sent to live with her grumpy grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Heidi has charmed and intrigued readers since it's original publication in 1880. Much more than a children's story, the narrative is also a lesson on the precarious nature of freedom, a luxury too often taken for granted. Heidi almost loses her liberty as she is ripped away from the tranquility of the mountains to tend to a sick cousin in the city. Happily, all's well that ends well, and the reader is left with only warm, fuzzy thoughts.

Review: I don't know why I read Heidi so seldom - it's an adorable book! I actually don't think I've ever read the entire series, but as Mum has all of them, I'll have to remedy that.

Do children really exist who are as good as Heidi? She doesn't have a mean bone in her body! It's refreshing to read about, but somehow doesn't seem terribly realistic. Not that that matters. I read just as much to escape as to learn :-)

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Title: Sue Barton, Neighborhood Nurse
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: YA, classics
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 135
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Sue Barton has been married to Bill Barry for several years in this story. They have three young children: six-year-old Tabitha, and three-year-old twin boys, Johnny and Jerry. Sue has been happy at home taking care of their children, until she and her friend, Kit, visit their old nursing school, and Sue realizes how much she misses nursing. Is Sue's nursing training being wasted as a stay-at-home mom?

During the story, Sue gradually realizes that her training is being utilized in other ways. She does first aid for the neighborhood; and she uses her natural gift for helping people to try to bring her new teenage neighbor, Cal, together with the girl's mother, aloof artist Mona Stuart. But will all this be enough for Sue in place of her formal career?

Review: Just like with the Anne series, the later books are more about Sue's kids than about herself. Unlike Anne though, this switch doesn't seem strained, as we still hear of the children's experiences through the eyes of Sue, rather than through them themselves. I never thought I should say it, but Montgomery could have learned something from this. Too bad chronology didn't allow it ;)

Honestly though, the further I get into this series, the less I understand why I haven't read the last 4 books in so many years. No, they're not nearly as good as the first 3, but neither are they nearly as bad as I remembered them. I'm greatly enjoying this read-through.

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Title: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Author: Robert O'Brien
Genre: Childrens
Rating: 7/10
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: There's something very strange about the rats living under the rosebush at the Fitzgibbon farm. But Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with a sick child, is in dire straits and must turn to these exceptional creatures for assistance. Soon she finds herself flying on the back of a crow, slipping sleeping powder into a ferocious cat's dinner dish, and helping 108 brilliant, laboratory-enhanced rats escape to a utopian civilization of their own design, no longer to live "on the edge of somebody else's, like fleas on a dog's back."

Review: A sweet story for children that IMHO has many parallels to Watership Down, although obviously much simplified. I mostly read it because it's on so many "Top 100" lists, and must admit that which I thought it was sweet enough, I don't really get why it's on those lists when so many other (and in my opinion better) children books don't make it on the lists. But of course, it might have helped if I'd actually heard it while I was the target age (although isn't it a sign of a great book that even people outside the target age think it's great? But I digress...)

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Title: Sue Barton, Superintendent of Nurses
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: YA, classics
Rating: 6/10
# pages: 129
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: "Sue Barton, Superintendent of Nurses" features Sue as the superintendent of the new Springdale Hospital School of Nursing, along with the concurrent story of Sue and Bill Barry's first three years of marriage. Sue is uneasy about her administrative role since she prefers hands-on nursing, but with the guidance of her staff, she carries the new job through to the best of her ability. Her natural warmth and interest in the students also help her to sort out their problems and personalities; from taming a sophisticated smart aleck, to guiding an unhappy nursing student into the teaching career the girl really wants. Meanwhile, Sue and Bill have to adjust to life together as a married couple.

Review: The foreshadowing in this series is getting out of hand. A little is fine, but I don't need a paragraph at the start of each chapter telling me what's going to happen in the chapter.

This was a very difficult book to read. I still enjoy the stuff happening at the hospital, but it had the sad sub-plot of how a married couple can fall apart... not through harsh words and mean actions, but simply because of misunderstandings that aren't handled in time, but allowed to grow large.

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Title: Sue Barton, Rural Nurse
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: YA, classics
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 128
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Sue takes her visiting nurse career to New Hampshire, so she can work with her fiance, Bill Barry. The highlight of the book is when they track down a typhoid carrer in order to stop an epidemic. The town badly needs a hospital, though. Will the drastic circumstances of a hurricane open the people's eyes to this need?

Review: Better than I remembered it, but because it doesn't have the same nostalgic pull on me, I can't rate it higher than 7/10.

I wonder if something got lost in the translation concerning Bill's brother. We haven't heard about him at all in the earlier books, and suddenly he's in Europe and has to get electronic treatments - with no explanation as to why! Not that it's important for the book, I just found it odd.

Very much a transitional book, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next will bring

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Title: Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: Classics, YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 110
Date read: February 2005, January 2008, May 2017


Sue and her best friend, Kit, move to New York city; and join the Visiting Nurse service. Sue's duties take her from the Lower East Side to Harlem. There are many vignettes, humorous and touching. Not all Sue's duties are medical. She helps a lonely Polish new mother find neighborhood friends; and she helps a kind old woman realize her dreams of travel, (Sue secretly donates the money she had saved for her own trousseau for the trip). This leads into a surprising reward for Sue herself.


This used to be my favourite of the series, but I've had to downgrade the rating somewhat. I still absolutely I love reading about Sue's work in the streets of New York and how she has to be imaginative and think up solutions to problems she'd never have met at the hospital, but the older I get, the more the disagreement between her and Bill annoys me. I am completely on Sue's side and found Bill totally unreasonable, which made the end somewhat less than satisfying... especially as it's rather clear that the author is on Bill's side. A sign of the times, I guess, but annoyed me regardless.
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Title: Sue Barton, Senior Nurse
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: Classics, YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 143
Date read: February 2005, January 2008, April 2017


This book covers Sue Barton's final year in nursing school. During this time, Sue trains in the operating room, works in a maternity hospital, and serves as a student head nurse. She is devoted to learning her career, but when young Dr. Bill Barry asks her to marry him, she faces a conflict. She wants to say yes, but she also wants to work as a nurse first.


A short enough book to read in one sitting :) It's not as good as the first one, as there are fewer hospital anecdotes in this one, and some of the anecdotes are somewhat exaggerated - Sue is an angel, Sue saves the day, Sue never does anything wrong, Sue is a Mary-Sue ;)

I still like it in spite of its flaws though :)
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Title: Sue Barton, Student Nurse
Author: Helen Dore Boylston
Genre: Classics, YA
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 167
Date read: February 2005, January 2008, April 2017


This is the story of Sue Barton's first year of training as a probationer and then as a student nurse. Sue, with her red hair and eager spirit, is a very likable person - direct, outspoken, capable of mistakes, capable also of warm attachments and a courageous devotion to the service which she soon loves. With her pals, Kit and Connie, she submits to the discipline and rigorous training which are required of every good hospital nurse.


As the first book in the series, Sue Barton, Student Nurse is a quick read (took me no more than an hour or two), but a good one. It's a wonder I've never wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, as much as I love reading about their work. It's a feel-good book of the old-fashioned style and I greatly enjoyed it. I'll be looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
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Title: Winnie-the-Pooh
Author: A.A. Milne
Genre: Childrens
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 132
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: The adventures of Christopher Robin and his friends, in which Pooh Bear uses a balloon to get honey, Piglet meets a Heffalump, and Eeyore has a birthday. The main character, Winnie-the-Pooh, is a good-natured, honey-loving bear who lives in the Forest surrounding the Hundred Acre Wood. His companions are Eeyore, a gloomy gray donkey; Piglet, a timid pig; Owl, a pontificating bird; the meddlesome Rabbit; and Kanga, an energetic kangaroo whose inquisitive baby, Roo, lives in her pouch.

Review: The rating isn't entirely fair, because it is meant for children, and I think that if I had read and loved it as a kid, I'd love it still. But while I think this wasn't the very first time I read it (the stories sounded too familiar for that), it never became part of my childhood the way Lurituri, Bimbi and Pippi Longstocking did. My husband loves Winnie-the-Pooh though, so I think it'll probably be different for our kids, and they are cute stories, so fine by me :)

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Title: The Stormcaller
Author: Jacob Grant & Mark Russel
Genre: Fantasy, Christian fiction
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 397
Date read: January, 2008


Review: On one side, a power-hungry necromancer, a legendary swordsman and a blood-thirsty spirit. On the other side, a young slave, the Lords of Freeport and an unknown monk. Thus the lines are drawn in the greatest battle in a thousand years. A battle that will eventually affect all of the Isle of Türmak, because if Freeport falls, the entire Isle will fall and become subject to the evil of the Dragon.

Andrea has been a slave all her life. When the choice is between letting herself and her fellow slaves starve to death and risking her life and limbs to steal some food, she takes the chance and steals some pieces of bread from a nearby baker. Unfortunately the theft is discovered and knowing her life is at risk, she flees her household to take her chances elsewhere. A mysterious monk saves her from forest bandits, and sends her to Freeport where the residing historian recognizes her as 'the stormcaller' from the prophecies - the only person strong enough to save them from the Dragon and his followers. But she can only do it together with 'the man carrying the sword' - and he has yet to show his face.

Ever since Legion was thrown out of Freeport, he's fought the Eternal's warriors. Now he's finally standing to gain all he fought for and get his revenge. Then why is his mind suddenly filled with doubt? And why can't he stop thinking about the girl he saved? He wants Dragon to win... doesn't he?

the stormcaller starts suddenly and throws the reader right into the action. This makes it instantly exciting, but also adds some confusion as there are a lot of people to keep straight and they aren't all immediately distinguishable from each other. The reader soon catches up though, after which it's possible to lose oneself in a fascinating fantasy tale.

Just like the age-old favourites of The Chronicles of Narnia, the stormcaller has clear Christian undertones and describes the eternal battle between good and evil in a new and refreshing way.

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Title: Around the World in 80 Days
Author: Jules Verne
Genre: Classics
Rating: 6/10
# pages: 82 installments at DailyLit
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days, and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant, Passepartout. Traveling by train, steamship, sailboat, sledge, and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks, and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard to win the extraordinary wager. Combining exploration, adventure, and a thrilling race against time, Around the World in Eighty Days gripped audiences upon its publication and remains hugely popular to this day.

Review: I read this first when I was young - no more than 10'ish I'd say - and loved it. Hadn't read it for years though, so I felt it was time for a reread. ... I'm thinking it must have been an abridged version I read back then, because though this version was short too, I felt it dragged terribly. I think the main problem was that Jules Verne told most of the story instead of showed it, which became quite tedious after awhile. I wonder if that's his usual writing style, or if it was just this one.

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