Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Hey! Happy Canada Day, one day early. On July 1st, Canada will turn 142 years old. The original meeting to start the confederation of Canada was held in Charlottetown, PEI, just down the street from my house. We celebrate Canada Day at a potluck party at my parents house, playing bocce and lawn darts - the illegal and very dangerous kind that you can't buy anymore! Then we'll go to a soccer game my son is playing in, and then maybe we'll try to find a spot to see the fireworks from. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.

Great job on the voting for the Bookwords! However, as of last night, it was still tied. sigh. So, we need an odd number of people of go and vote and break that tie. Not just the odd people, you are welcome to come and vote as well, but an odd number of people, five or seven, to break the tie. See if you can manage that. thanks. Results to follow on late Wednesday or early Thursday.

In reading, I am in England, present day and my sister has just returned home after over fifty years away. We haven't talked in all that time. I've been happy here in our estate, studying moths. It should be an interesting weekend. (The Sister, by Poppy Adams)

Bobby Orr, as a twelve year old playing bantam hockey in Parry Sound, has started attracting the attention of some hockey scouts. The poor hapless Bruins are hoping to sign him before anyone else discovers him. (Searching for Bobby Orr, Stephen Brunt)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

BOOK: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, 548 pages

Man Booker short list 2002; Orange Prize Project; Orange July

setting: Victorian England, 1862, the hard-scrabble life in inner London and the gentle life on an estate

characters: Sue Trindle, Maud Lilly, Mrs Sucksby, and Gentleman (I can't give a description because no one is exactly who they say they are, maybe)

plot: no one likes spoilers and this book is so well plotted I am afraid to say anything for fear I'll say too much.

fingersmith: petty thief, or may also refer to someone who has mastered a skill involving the use of his or her fingers. (ooh, excellent title!)

themes: nature v nurture, sacrifices, betrayals.

what I liked: Victorian times, the plot and the twists, the cover, the overall tone of suspense in the book and the relationships amongst the characters.

what I didn't like: it was a little long, but I still couldn't put it down.

who else liked it: it was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker in 2002

Thursday, June 25, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game

We need to have a vote-off on last week's Bookword. After a week of voting, there was a four way tie to describe a nonfiction book that reads like fiction. A four way tie? Who would have thunk it. As a result, we will vote again. Please come by my blog in the next week and vote.

Results to be posted by next Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

The latest bookword is being voted on right now, and it is very close, with a lot of choices, so we need more people to go vote. Go over and vote, and then come back. OK, welcome back and thank you for voting. Also, if anyone has ideas for bookwords that need to be named, send you suggestions to myself or Suey. We appreciate all new ideas.

In reading, I am in London in 1862, a favorite reading time period for me. I am about to go on a scheme with the Gentleman, and I might make a pile of money. (Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters)

I am also in Parry Sound, Ontario in the 1960s, scouting out a very talented hockey player; some might say the best hockey player of all time. (Searching for Bobby Orr, Stephen Brunt)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CHALLENGE: Summer Reading Challenge

Virginie is having a reading challenge. You should go check this one out. Here are the rules for this challenge. This looks pretty interesting. I probably won't be able to do it all, but it looks like it might be fun to follow along with. I've put my suggestions in italics, and I'll bold the category I get completed.

Virginie Says…

"So, I decided to make up my own challenge – mostly to push myself to get off the computer and read more! Plus, it will help me whittle down that TBR list…lol Here it is. Join if you like. It runs from June 1 to September 30."

My running total: 210 points

5 Point Challenges

Read a Chick Lit book - Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Read a historical fiction book - In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
Read a book just because you like the cover - American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Read anything by Jean Plaidy -
Read a book with a number in the title - Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

10 Point Challenges

Read a book about Royalty (biography or fiction) - Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Read a classic - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Read a book by an author you’ve never read before - The View from Castle Rock - Alice Munro
Read a celebrity biography/autobiography- Searching for Bobby Orr
Read a hardcover book - The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters

15 Point Challenges

Read a book with a one word title - Fingersmith, Sarah Waters
Read a book based on a Biblical character - Lamb by Christopher Moore
Read a book that was made into a movie - The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Read a book by an author born in June, July, August or September - Keeping the Moon, Sarah Dessen
Read a book with a summer word in the title (summer, sun, sand, hot, etc.) - The Last Summer (of You and Me)

20 Point Challenges

Read a book in a series AND the one after it - The Smell of the Night and Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri
Read a Danielle Steele Jodi Picoult AND a Maeve Binchy book - The Pactand London Transports
Read a book from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list - Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
Read a book considered Christian Fiction -
Read a book of your choice BUT read it outside - I Was Amelia Earhart

250 Points total

Virginie says: Anyone who joins me and posts their progress to my blog (I’ll post how I’m doing and you can comment how you’re doing) will be entered to win a book by Jean Plaidy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

BOOK: Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, 144 pages
graphic novel illustrated by Dean Hale

genre challenge: western; herding cats

What a fabulous book! Shannon Hale does a wonderful job of rewriting fairy tales (The Goose Girl, The Princess Academy, The Book of a Thousand Days) and she continues here with the more well known Rapunzel. But what if Rapunzel lived in the American west? And her long hair could be used like a lasso? Exactly, a pretty awesome idea and very well executed. There are some other fairy tales thrown in here for the reader to recognize. I really liked the idea of making this set in the west, with horse stealing, mining, wanted posters, wild coyotes, and ghost towns.

The illustrations by Nathan Hale are also fabulous. I found them very colourful, and crisp, and textured. Rapunzel's red hair ropes stand out perfectly. I also liked how Rapunzel was brave and smart - this was no maiden in distress waiting to be saved by the prince. She takes charge and knows what she has to do.

My only quibble was a line on page 85, where Rapunzel teases Jack, her companion on the run, with, "Adorable, huh? Pretty fruity talk for an outlaw." In school, we try to discourage insults like fruit, or gay because it carries so much more than just that word, and is not inclusive. There must have been another word to use in that situation. But other than that, I very much enjoyed this telling of Rapunzel, both the western telling, and the beautiful illustrations.

BOOK: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen, 228 pages

celebrate the author; southern reading challenge

Colie gets sent to stay with her aunt in North Carolina for the summer as her weight-loss guru mother takes a tour of Europe. Colie and her mother have both lost a lot of weight, but as Oprah fans know, losing weight doesn't make everything better, you have to make the inside feel better too. This is the lesson that Colie has to learn over the summer as she develops a friendship with Morgan and Isabelle, her fellow waitresses at the Last Chance Bar and Grill.

Nice, light and breezy young adult novel to kick off the summer. The setting was summery and the tone of the book was light. Self confidence comes from within, and you can't let other people decide your happiness.

Sarah Dessen's birthday is in June, like my own, so this is my book for the Celebrate the Author challenge. Most of her books are set in North Carolina, and many of her books have characters who appeared in other novels making guest appearances. I haven't read enough of her books yet to see this, but I always like that effect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

CHALLENGE: Orange July

jill at the magic lasso is once again hosting an Orange July after the very successful Orange January. The idea is to read books nominated for the Orange Prize. Over at the Orange Prize Project you can find a list of books that have won, or been nominated. You can also join up over there and keep track of your progress. For Orange July, you can set your own goal and decide what books you want to read. I've got a few books I've been wanting to read:

maybe for Orange January:
  • Poppy Shakespeare - Clare Allen (longlist 2007)

Whether I read them all in July remains to be see. I'd like to read two of them in July. Thanks for hosting this fun challenge, Jill!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game

Suey threw out a great bookword suggestion this week because there were tons of ideas. Some words seem to illicit more suggestions than others, and this one must be something lots of people recognized. For the bookword we need to know what we should we call a non-fiction book that reads like fiction?
We had for suggestions:
  • fic-a-like by Melissa
  • TrueFiction, RealFiction, and Lifenovel by Suzanne
  • Novel Reality and Dramatic Reality by Jan
  • te-rue-fic by Kristi
  • non-friction and non-non-fiction by Julie
  • Unbelievably-True" book or For Real(?) by thoughts of joy
  • not-so-fiction by Chantele
  • Niction by Twiga92
  • RealImitation by Serena
  • Docu-Fic by BookPlease
  • ficumentary by Jennysbooks
Well done people! How will I ever pick to vote? How will you ever pick to vote? Come by my blog to vote in the next week, and I'll have the results next Wednesday (or so.)

BOOK: The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri

The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri, 221 pages

What's in a Name? Challenge: time of day

Another great Inspector Montalbano mystery, the sixth in the series. More Sicliy, more food, more cranky Montalbano, more great food, and great supporting characters. Once you find a series you like, it's like comfort food.

BOOK: Sacred Cows by Karen E Olson

Sacred Cows by Karen E Olson, 304 pages

around the states: Connecticut; herding cats

The start of a new mystery series, I've read literary feline and chris at book-a-rama rave about this author for a few years now. I'm so glad I finally picked this up at the library.
The characteristics I like in a mystery series protagonist:
strong female character lead: check
romantic dilemma between two great guys: check
daughter has mother issues: check
reluctant to get into dangerous situations, yet continually getting beat up: check
messy and eats out all the time: check

I know, this sounds like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, but I much preferred Annie Seymour to Stephanie Plum. I liked the humor more and the story seemed somewhat more realistic. I also liked Tom and Vinnie more as the romantic leads, especially Vinnie. I hope he's around for the next book. Annie is a reporter assigned to the police beat who happens to be, somewhat not very secretly, dating a cop. When a dead Yale student turns up, Annie is assigned to investigate. Things begin to escalate as she looks further.

The cow reference was very funny, as Hartford Connecticut is populated with huge decorated cows for the summer, and Annie hates them, but has to write a story about them, and of course, they are everywhere. I saw cows like that in Athens a few years ago:

That's me and my sister, ctoan, who comments here now and then. The cows are pretty awesome, but I can also see how they would be annoying in your own town, especially if everyone else is excited about them.

If you like the Stephanie Plum series, (even if you don't, like me), check out the Annie Seymour series by Karen E Olson. I will be looking for the next in the series, Secondhand Smoke.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

My daughter's homework this week is to write a book review, How Does It Rate?
The questions include:
What I liked best about this book was ... because...
Another thing I liked was ... because...
What I did not like about this book was... because...
The best character was ... because...
I think the book would be better if...
One part I would not change is ...
The person I think would enjoy this book it ...
Then rank it from Forget It, Pretty Good, OK, Good, Super

It's a great outline for a book review, maybe I'll use it for my next book review.

Don't forget the Bookwords Game, taking suggestions at Suey's for "a nonfiction book that reads like a fiction book." There are a few good suggestions already, but you might have just had the perfect idea. Head on over there, and I'll have a poll here on Wednesday.

Reading wise, I am in Connecticut, investigating the murder of a Yale student. Looks like a good old fashioned murder mystery with the single, female journalist who is dating the cop, and she seems like a wise guy. (Sacred Cows by Karen E Olsen)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BLOGGING EVENT: Midweek Morsels

I had a hankering for date squares this week after seeing some in a bakery, and wanting them, but then thinking, hey! I can make those. I froze half the pan for later, to keep me from eating them all when I get confused by all the oatmeal and think I am eating something good for me. Taste good? yes Good for me? probably not

Date Squares

1 1/4 C rolled oats
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C brown sugar
3/4 C margarine

Date filling:
2 C cut up dates
1/2 C white sugar
1 C water
1 tsp vanilla
1 T butter/marg

Prepare filling: In a saucepan, cook dates, sugar and water, stirring often until mixture is thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Add butter and vanilla, Cool.

Combine oats, flour sugar and soda. Work in softened margarine with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Spread half the rolled oat mixture in the bottom of a 9x9" pan patting down, cover with date filling, cover with remaining oat mixture. Pat lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Arggh, I'm in between books. I just left North Carolina and the magical garden with the apple tree that throws apples at people. It was a great visit. (Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen)
I'm not sure where I am headed next.

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, June 8, 2009

BOOK: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, 290 pages

Southern Reading Challenge, Once Upon a Time III, herding cats

What led you to pick up this book?
I've seen it at the library for months, on the popular fiction shelf; it was recommended by jenny for the herding cats challenge; and it was time to read a southern book.

Summarize the plot, but don't give away the ending!
The estranged Waverley sisters of North Carolina are magical with an apple tree in the back yard. Each has a gift - one with food, one with hair, and are trying to learn to love.

What did you like most about the book?
It was very charming, and the magic worked in ways that I don't usually get, but it was so gentle and seemed natural.
The men were mostly perfect, and the southern local flavor was all over it.
I liked how the families in the town had traits, that everyone in the town knows about, and it is just understood. Like one family where the men marry older women. It's true in small towns with families that have been around for ages.

What did you like least?
Can't think of much. I'd give it a 4.5/5.

What did you think of the main character?
I really liked the sisters, Claire and Sydney, each making huge changes in their life and trying to begin a new relationship.

Any other particularly interesting characters?
I loved Evanelle, the old aunt whose gift was to give people something they would need. She never knew why they needed it, but she had to give it to them.

Share a quote from the book:
She was so southern that she cried tears that came straight from Mississippi, and she always smelled faintly of cottonwood and peaches.

You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?

Some things couldn't be explained. Some things could. Sometimes you liked the explanation. Sometimes you didn't. that's when you called it myth.

Share a favorite scene from the book.
There was a pretty steamy scene under the apple tree, and I liked the scene with Sydney's high school sweetheart and his wife as they come to grips with Sydney's return.

What about the ending?
A little perfect but it matched the tone of the book and I would have been disappointed with any other ending.

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?
most of these people liked it

also reviewed by : tinylittlelibrarian,
marg at reading adventures,
les at lesley's book nook,
lori at shetreadssoftly,
melanie the indextrious reader,
terri at reading,writing, and retirement
stephanie at confessions of a bookaholic
icedream reading in appalachia
maggie at maggie reads

BOOK: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, 463 pages

published in '09

I looked up the meaning of Gothic literature at wikipedia, and would have to agree that this book is a classic Gothic novel. All the main characteristics are here: terror, mystery, ghosts, haunted houses, castles, decay, and madness. Waters has taken the time period, the 1940s post-war England, of her last novel The Night Watch, and used to to craft and suspenseful period piece which chronicles the changing of life in England, especially for the aristocracy.

The beauty of a suspenseful ghost story is having the story play out, with no awareness of what is to come. Any detail I give will lessen the experience for another reader, so not many details from me on that count. I liked the characters, and the life at Hundred's Hall, home of the Ayres, was vividly brought to life. It represents a period of British history that changed so dramatically after World War II. I was on the edge of my chair as the plot slowly unfolded, and like most mysteries, my imagination was going in many different directions, wondering what could be happening, and was generally more vivid than reality. My scientific brain tried to analyse what was happening, much like the doctor narrator, and it conflicted with the evidence at hand. I was left a little confused at the ending, but this would make a terrific movie - picture Pemberley Estate for the setting. (if you read this book, and want to discuss any details of the books, so I am not posting spoilers here, feel free to email me)

If you like slow building suspense tales, British castles and Gothic romance perfectly described, this book should be great.

also reviewed by Jackie at farmlane books, jenny at jennys books, nicola at back-to-books,

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
  1. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
  2. The Stand - Stephen King
  3. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
  4. I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak
  5. A Good House - Bonnie Burnard
  6. It - Stephen King
  7. Evening Class - Maeve Binchy
  8. I Want to Go Home - Gordon Korman
  9. Forever - Judy Blume
  10. Istanbul - Orhan Pamuk
  11. Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
  12. Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro
  13. Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
  14. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
  15. Einstein's Dreams - Alan Lightman
I tried not to read any one else's list before I wrote mine, so as not to be unduly swayed. This is what I came up with in 15 minutes. Did we have any in common?

ETA: ok. After seeing other lists, I wish I had added Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Fight Club by Chuck Palaniuk . I really wish I had remembered them because both have stayed with me, especially Fight Club.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Did you know that the Pulitzer Prize wasn't given out in 1974 and 1977? Imagine the discussions around that judges table where they make that decision. That would take some guts. Especially when you see some of the books that were nominated that year. Michelle has a little poll going on over at 1morechapter where you can have your say amongst the books that were published that year. Go on over, everyone loves a little poll.

I am still taking suggestions here for a book you buy that you forgot you already read/own. I know there are readers out there who have done this already, so what can you call this? The suggestions stay open until Wednesday, when Suey will put a poll up at her site. Then you can go vote again. Ticky boxes, woo hoo!

In reading:
I just landed in England and it is 1949 after the war. I am a doctor who is fascinated by a local mansion that is falling apart. (The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters)

Where is reading taking you? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.