Monday, November 30, 2009

BOOK: Sky Burial by Xinran

Sky Burial by Xinran, 203 pages

an epic love story of Tibet

Women Unbound Challenge

The best books are the ones that are a good read, and also expand your experience. Open your eyes to another world as well as entertain. There is so much I didn't know about Tibet, and the relationship between China and Tibet. Even better, this is a love story, about Shu Wen, who heads into Tibet in the late 1950s to search for her husband. After only being married for months, she receives word that her beloved husband has been killed while acting as a doctor in the Chinese army during an incursion into Tibet. She resolves to follow his path and find him or what happened to him. Her odyssey of time living in Tibet, as she learns the way of Tibet and searches for her husband, takes the better part of her life.

Xinran, a Chinese journalist, met Shu Wen after her return to China. After hearing her story, she resolved to write the amazing tale of love and acceptance and survival.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

LIST: NY Times Notable Books 2009

The New York Times most notable books for 2009 has been released. Here's the link to the most recent list, and past years. There are another fifty books or so from the nonfiction list, but I didn't retype all of them out! There were a few on the nonfiction side that intrigued me though. I have read 3 of the books this year, bolded, and there are a few others I'd like to read, italicized, but I haven't heard of most of them at all.
Have you read any of these? Any recommendations or warnings?

  1. Amatuer Barbarians by Robert Cohen
  2. American Rust by Philipp Meyey
  3. The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
  4. The Art Student's War by Brad Leithauser
  5. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli
  6. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
  7. Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
  8. The Case Book of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd
  9. Chronic City by Johnathan Letham
  10. The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin
  11. Dearest Creature by Amy Grestler
  12. Do Not Deny Me: Stories by Jean Thompson
  13. Don't Cry:Stories by Mary Gaitskill
  14. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
  15. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
  16. Family Album by Penelope Lively
  17. Follow Me by Joanna Scott
  18. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorri Moore
  19. Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers
  20. Half- Broke Horses: A True Life Novel by Jeannette Walls
  21. How It Ended: New and Collected Stories by Jay McInerney
  22. In Other Rooms, In Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
  23. Invisible by Paul Auster
  24. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer
  25. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  26. Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
  27. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  28. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  29. Love and Obstacles: Stories by Aleksander Hemon
  30. Love and Summer by William Trevor
  31. The Museum of Innocence by Orham Pamuk
  32. My Father's Tears: And Other Stories by John Updike
  33. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazou Ishiguro
  34. Nothing Right: Short Stories by Antonya Nelson
  35. Once the Shore: Stories by Paul Yoon
  36. One DOA, One on the Way by Mary Robison
  37. Sag Harbour by Colson Whitehead
  38. A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
  39. The Sky Below by Stacey D'Arasmo
  40. The Song is You by Arthur Phillips
  41. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
  42. Typhoon by Charles Cumming
  43. A Village Life by Louise Gluck
  44. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  45. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Hosted by jen at MizB's Reading Challenge

You have your choice of ONE of the 3 options:

OPTION A: read 6 books in 12 months ~ your list of books CANNOT be changed, but you are allowed to have an “Alternates” list to choose from (like in the Original TBR Challenge).

OPTION B: read 6 books in 12 months ~ you CAN change your reading list throughout the year

OPTION C: make up a list of however many books you think you could get read in 12 months, as long as they are from your TBR stack/list, and then read them between January 1st and December 31st. You must have at least 3 books on your list.

Some Other General Guidelines:

  • You are allowed to overlap with other challenges

  • Audiobooks are allowed

  • e-Books are allowed, but must still be books that you’ve wanted to read for at least 3, or more, months

  • You should still have a list of books posted somewhere for others to see

  • You don’t have to read your books in the order you put them on your list
Here's my list:

  1. Poppy Shakespeare - Clare Allan Jan 3/10

  2. Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill Mar 12/10

  3. Broken for You - Stephanie Kallos Mar 5/10

  4. Molakai - Alan Brennart

  5. She Got Up Off the Couch - Haven Kimmel Feb 11/10

  6. Lost Highway - David Adam Richards

And the alternates:

  • Man Gone Down - Michael Thomas

  • Miss Julia Meets Her Match - Ann Ross

  • The Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde

  • The Last King of Scotland - Giles Foden

  • Love Walked In - Maria del Santos

  • Vernon God Little - DB Pierre Feb25/10

BOOK: Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey, 317 pages

an Inspector Darko Dawson mystery

Women Unbound Challenge

Move over Mma Ramotswe, there is a new African detective, and he's good. Set in Ghana, Darko Dawson is a little rougher, a little darker detective than Mma Ramotswe. He is ruled by his emotions a bit more, and has the edge I like in my detectives. Like Erlunder from the Icelandic series, Dawson has a mystery in his past that has led him into the police force, and this tragedy from his childhood has coloured his dealings in the present.

Quartey has written a great mystery, with a wonderfully exotic setting, well, exotic for little ole me in Canada. Raised in Ghana, Quartey has managed to blend the present and the past, the conflict between old beliefs that are still present with technology. So, Darko might find a shrine in the forest, that can't be touched because the forest gods will be upset and curse a family, but then he takes out his cellphone to take a picture of it. I loved this image and blending of cultures. AIDS in Africa is a dramatic issue, and is included as a major plot point, as it was a health worker, a young girl studying to be a doctor, that is the murder victim.

The culture clash of strong African women, like the victim's aunt Elizabeth, who is accused of being a witch, with the reliance on healers and fetish priests makes this an important book in bringing awareness to women's issues in Ghana. The fetish priests are healers that are respected in the community. If a family feels they have been cursed with bad luck, they may make an offering to the priest of a young daughter. She then becomes one of the wives of the priest, essentially a slave to him, in exchange for clearing the family of its curse. Walking the line between respecting traditions and respecting women and their right to chose how to live their life is a balancing act for people from the city.

I really liked how Darko associates voices with textures. He describes how he 'hears' each voice he meets - like a rope, like the back of a toad. It was a really interesting perspective to put into words what some people probably unconsciously do. My daughter would sometimes describe textures that way, in a most unusual description, but made sense to her.

I look forward to more in this series. Darko has been given a great introduction, and the background of the village and many characters and interactions suggest a great future. The mystery itself was well done, with several suspects possible and I kept changing who I thought was the murderer. The glossary at the back giving an explanation of the foods and words was a nice addition. Plus, isn't the cover beautiful?

Friday, November 27, 2009

CHALLENGE: A Colourful Challenge

hosted by Rebecca at Lost in Books
This is the second year that Rebecca has hosted A Colourful Challenge. (Note my Canadian spelling!) It runs all year and you have to read 9 books.

old rules:

Read 9 books with 9 different colors in the title. Six colors are required, while the last 3 can be your choice.
new rules:
You still need to read 9 books with 9 different colors in the title, but this time you get to choose all 9 colors for your books!

Here's a list of possible colours:
  • Blue : Gathering Blue, Blue Castle, Virgin Blue
  • Silver : Pat of Silver Bush by LM Montgomery

The Books Read:
1. Purple: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi
2. Red: Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong
3. Black: Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
4. Green : The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood
5. White: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
6. Grey: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
7. Yellow: A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley
8. Orange: Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
9. Blue: The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BOOK: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, 150 pages

Japanese Literature Challenge; 1% Well Read

Actually two stories, Kitchen, a novella and Moonlight Shadow, a short story, this book was less dreary than you'd expect for two stories all about grief.
I preferred Moonlight Shadow with its touch of supernatural to help the young girl deal with the death of her boyfriend. The story was simpler but touched me a bit more.
Kitchen is the story of two young adults who come together in their shared grief of what seems like the death of everyone around them. I found this story a bit more abstract with the relationships. It's hard to know when the problems in a story are with the translations. There were some nice phrases and images however.

In the uncertain ebb and flow of time and emotions, much of one's life history is etched in the senses
. page 75

CHALLENGE: Book Awards III Update

I finished my third Book Awards Challenge this month. The challenge was to read 5 books that had won 5 different awards. Here are the books I read to complete the challenge:
Favorite book of the challenge:
The Lizard Cage and Clara Callen were my favorite, the kind I told everyone I met who reads that they should read. Both written by Canadians btw.

Least favorite book of the challenge:
A Death in the Family really didn't resonate with me. Lots of people love it, but it was blah for me.

New authors discovered in this challenge:
All were new to me in this challenge. I liked all (except the Agee) and would read others by these new authors.

What I learned:
That even though Michelle makes it harder each time, I still manage to finish. And I have every hope of completing the next version, set to begin in February, 2010. The list of books I meant to read, and never got to includes:

Newbery Award -The Wheel on the School
IMPAC Dublin - Man Gone Down
Orange Prize - Small Islands
Booker Prize - How Late it Was, How Late; The True History of the Kelly Gang; Vernon God Little
Giller Prize - The Time In Between; Barney's Version
Pulitzer - Foreign Affair; The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Thanks for hosting again Michelle, see you next year!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Read any bad-covered books lately? We are looking for suggestions this week in The Bookword Game. I'll leave the comments open until Wednesday evening. Any and all ideas welcome!

In reading, I am in Japan, recently moved into some neighbour's apartment after my grandmother died. Guess what my favorite room is? (Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto)

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

BOOK: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, 292 pages

Celebrate the Author; Vampire Challenge

my preambling rambling:
Much like suziqoregon, I would have preferred to get the book with the cover from before this Southern Vampire Series was made into a television series, but this was the one I found. I haven't watched any of the HBO series True Blood based on the book, but I am intrigued. I loved Harris' Shakespeare mystery series, and have been planning to read this vampire series for quite a while. I actually started reading this book a year ago, and couldn't get into it at all, but wanted to give it another try.

the plot outline:
Sookie Stackhouse has a disability - she can read minds. Because of the problems this causes her, she hasn't dated much at all. When Vampire Bill moves to her town, she discovers she cannot hear his thoughts at all and thus finds it so relaxing to be around him. Vampires have recently had laws enacted which makes it easier for them to live in mainstream society - the invention of synthetic blood allows them to survive without feasting on humans. When one of Sookie's coworker waitresses is murdered, suspicion falls on Bill.

my thoughts:
I'm not sure I completely get the vampire intrigue, or all the rules that surround them. However, this book at least provided a rationale for liking a vampire and allowing them to live in the human world. Dead Until Dark was very fun, combining the supernatural elements within the Southern sensibilities of Louisiana. Harris writes great mysteries with well developed characters that I want to read more about. Sookie, Bill, and Sam make an interesting trio and I look forward to more of them.

This is my November book for celebrate the author as Charlaine Harris was born November 25, 1951. I also highly recommend her Shakespeare mystery series, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas. It's quite dark, but only 5 books long, so it's an easy series to read.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

BOOK: Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, 242 pages

4 Month Challenge: Art themed book

Originally, my biggest complaint about the book was that the picture that inspired it was not on the cover. As I looked around to find an image of the young girl looking out the window, I discovered that Vreeland follows the history of an imagined Vermeer painting. I knew what the painting looked like after reading the book, as many descriptions are contained. The image I found below was painted to be included in a Hallmark movie based on the book.

Starting in the present and working backwards in time, the eight short stories are connected only by the history and love of the painting. Everyone who owns the painting has a special connection to the painting and sees a different aspect to it. The painting was acquired in many different ways, including Nazi looting or slave owners looking to gain respectability. The book also shows how a non-authenticated painting could exist, as it passes from one owner to another.

things I liked - I liked how the painting touched something in each owner, whether a memory of a former love, the freedom of a young girl, the beauty of the painting, even just the idea that is was painted by Vermeer. By having different owners, it was possible to see the many different reactions to the beauty of the image.
- I liked seeing how the painting ended up in the homes that it did through so many different manners.

things I didn't like - It was hard to get involved with any character, as the story of each owner was so short. The obvious comparison is to Girl With Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which also looked at how that particular Vermeer painting was done. The characters were much more developed in that book. The books have different goals so it isn't fair to compare them this way, it depends on what you want from a book.
- Since each story was so different, the mood of the book changed continuously to match the characters life.
- Nazi looting, but that isn't the fault of the book, I never like reading about Jews during the war.

Friday, November 20, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game

We have some results: What should we call a book that has such a distinctive smell that we find it distracting?

We call it an aroma tome! Thanks to bybee for her most excellent suggestion. She has a way with these bookwords.

What is wrong with this book on the left? The cover is screaming 'a long time ago.' I know that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but sometimes we can't help it. My nine year old daughter will look at a cover and dismiss a book in an instant if the cover doesn't appeal to her. Compare it to these other covers of the same book:

These other two look a bit more appealing and certainly more modern. Alas, I am cheap, and the ugly cover was available at the used book store, but it may have contributed to my over all feeling for the story.

So, how about coming up with a word to describe a book with a bad cover.

We'll take suggestions until Wednesday of next week, and then Suey will tabulate the results and we will vote. Suggestions in the comments, please.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Last night was the final of Battle of the Blades, possibly the most Canadian show ever produced. It was awesome. They matched up female skaters like Jamie Sale, Shae-Lynn Bourne, and Barbara Underhill, with former hockey players like Ti Domi, Ron Dugay, Craig Simpson, and Claude Lemieux and had them learn figure skating routines. They were judged each week, and then voted on by Canadians. It was much like Dancing With the Stars, but on skates. The guys had to learn moves - one even managed to land a jump. The lifts and throws were spectacular, because these hockey guys were strong and huge. Stephan Richer actually bench-pressed Marie-France over and behind his head. The hosts were Ron MacLean and Kurt Browning, and they both skated all the time. I imagine they'll run another series of this as it was very successful.

In reading, I am in The Netherlands, following a painting, that may be a Vermeer, through history. (Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland)

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

CHALLENGE: A - Zed Author

From this year, I've been keeping track of authors and books and I've got a chance to finish the authors. I never officially signed up, so I'll consider it my own personal challenge. Here's the list:

A: Allende, Isabel - Daughters of Fortune
B: Brazell, Josh - Beat the Reaper
C: Camilleri, Andrea - Excursion to Tindari
D: Duprau, Jeanne - City of Ember
E: Ephron, Nora - I Feel Bad About My Neck
F: Ferris, Josh - Then We Came to the End
G: Gladwell, Malcolm - The Tipping Point
H: Hage, Rawi - DeNiro's Game
I: Itani, Frances - Remember the Bones
J: James, PD - Children of Men
K: Kluger, Steve - Last Days of Summer
L: Lively, Penelope - Moon Tiger
M: MacLeod, Alistair - No Great Mischief
N: Northcutt, Wendy - Darwin Awards
O: Ogawa, Yoki - The Housekeeper and the Professor
P: Picoult, Jodi - Nineteen Minutes
Q: Quartey, Kwei - Wife of the Gods
R: Richards, David Adams - Mercy Among the Children
S: Swan, Leonie - Three Bags Full
T: Tremain, Rose - The Road Home
U: Undset, Sidgrid - The Bridal Wreath
V: Vreeland, Susan - Girl in Hyacinth Blue
W: Westerfield, Scott - Specials
X: Xinran - Sky Burial
Y: Yoshimoto, Banana - Kitchen
Z: Zink, Michelle - The Prophesy of the Sisters

BOOK: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, 525 pages
: a novel in words and pictures

4 Month Challenge: a book set in France; Caldecott Medal winner 2008

This was just a wonderful afternoon read, and the children are grabbing for it as well. The perfect blend of mysterious story, amazing pictures - I kept imagining that my fingers were going to be covered in pencil smudges. I've been reading raves about this book for a few years already. I confess, the cover made me think of a hot air balloon, and made me think it would be like the Wizard of Oz. I have no particular reason for thinking this, just poorly judging a book by its cover. I picked up a hardback version at the second hand bookstore without the cover leaf, so I was not biased by my cover concerns. The black cover actually fits the book better, with its dark mood.

Instead of Wizard of Oz, this is more reminiscent of The Hunchback of Notre Dame for feel, and sometimes I forgot that it was set in the 1930s. Hugo is living in the back alleys of the Paris train station, on his own like some waif from Les Miserables. He looks after the clocks after his uncle disappears. He has an automan his father left him that he is trying to fix. He meets up with a little girl, and her adopted family. The automan is the connecting idea and the mystery. The history of movies is also a part of the story, in a lovely tribute to the real filmmaker, Georges Melies.

The pictures were amazing and moved the story along in a way that the writing couldn't, but conversely, the pictures alone wouldn't have worked. Selznick has made a most memorable book for children and adults alike. Read it. I'd lend you mine, but the two oldest are fighting over who gets to read it first.

BOOK: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, 137 pages
and other thoughts on being a woman

Women Unbound - my 1st nonfiction read

I remember reading Framed's review of this book about a year ago, and making a mental note to read this book. Then I saw it on some one's list as a recommended book for the Women Unbound Challenge.

It was, in a word, hilarious. Shaking in my bed, laughing late last night as Ephron laments her poor purse skills - forgetting to get a new one in the new season, having everything in the world in it, refusing/not understanding to pay copious amounts of money for a purse, that apparently, should match. How did she get into my head?

Ephron is the journalist writer that you may know better as the screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally and Silkwood, among others. This book is her series of essays on being a woman, a woman of a certain age. There were so many sections I adored. Her humorous take on being blind as a bat and not being able to find her reading glasses is very soon in my future. The amount of time required for maintenance - hair, nails, waxing, and pedicures as women age. She suspects she is 8 hours from looking like a homeless person. She is sarcastic but speaks the truth. She attributes the phrase '50 is the new 40' to the advent of hair colour that is widely used.

Ephron has lived what would be called a privileged life, so when she talks about losing her rent controlled apartment, not many will identify with her. However, when she talks about the rapture of being caught up in an excellent book, we can identify. Which reminds me, she raved about The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. My new years resolution will have to be to read that book. She also talks about how parenting has changed over the years, not always in a good way, because we still end up with sullen teenagers.

She lived through the feminist breakthrough days of the 1960s and 70s and discusses changes, good and bad. She is blunt about the aging process, and what she doesn't like, all with a humorous voice. I'm going to start putting more face cream on my neck, or I'll be wearing turtlenecks pretty soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

BOOK: The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset

The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset, 272 pages plus notes
Book 1 of Kristin Lavransdatter
translated by Charles Archer and JS Scott

Women Unbound Challenge

I do enjoy historical fiction. This was my first venture into 14th century Norway, but I'm not sure I've been avoiding this genre; there isn't a lot that I'm aware of. Luckily this is quality stuff, as Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. I think there are several translations, and it would be interesting to read another version, but I was limited by my library copy.

We first meet Kristin when she is 8 and the apple of her father's eye. She lives a relatively privileged life for Middle Ages. The church has a big influence on the lives. The laws of inheritance rule their lives in a sense, as marriages are made based on how the family estates will prosper. Kristin is promised to a local boy by her father over the poor boy who obviously loves Kristin but deemed not suitable. Kristin is sent to live in a convent in the town for a year before the betrothal.

But it's a good historical fiction, and besides seeing the lives of Norwegian there was a love story. Kristin meets an impetuous young man, Erlend Nikulasson, to whom she was not promised to, and like all head-strong teenagers, falls madly in love with against her parents hopes and wishes. She will need to defy her parents and the rules of the land/church if she wants to be with Erlend.

Lots of great characters - Brother Edvin, Lady Aashild, and her father Lavrans round out the story. This is the first in the trilogy and I am looking forward to the next book to see how Kristin makes out with her decisions.

I decided to read this book after reading about a group read-a-long, hosted by Claire and Richard. There is a round up of other reviews for this first book here at Claire's. I'm not reading the same translation, but I like the way the story was translated in mine, even if it feels a bit clunky at times. It feels more 14th century Norwegian language to me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game

What should we call a book that has such a distinctive smell that we find it distracting?
We had a few suggestions this week over at Sueys:

nose tingler by Serena
smelly story by raidergirl3
aroma tome by bybee
odor reader by arcona

There weren't a lot of suggestions this week; maybe people aren't reading smelly books these days. I have some old Little House and Bobbsey Twins books that spend a long time in the basement in boxes that have a musty smell, but I don't mind it, there are too many good memories associated with those books.

Robert's Rules of Order: call for the vote. (I got a little off topic there)

Come by my blog to vote for a book that has such a distinctive smell we find it distracting. Voting will stay open for a week, then I'll post results and offer up a new word next Wednesday.

Edit: Look at what scientists are investigating now in books and with smell.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

So busy this week. Once I get through today, hopefully things will slow down, but I just can't seem to get ahead. I know that most of the things I have to do are because I put things off and procrastinate. So I had to stay up late the last two nights correcting and getting midterm exams ready because I went shopping on a family women' s weekend. I have to say it was worth it, no matter how tired I am today and have been since I got back. My sister, cousin and two aunts all met in a town that is near to us all, and we shopped all day Saturday - clothes, Christmas presents, just stuff you can't get in your own smaller town. We ate out Saturday night at The Keg, which was fabulous, and then stayed over at a hotel. We must plan another one in the spring, and try to get some more cousins and aunts to come. Drinks and laughs and lots of gabbing and shopping - what more could you want?

Don't forget to stop by Suey's and add a suggestion to the latest Bookword Game. I'm still thinking because I have a book like that right now! It is distracting! I'll have a poll up sometime late Wednesday.

In reading, I am oh so slowly reading these days. I am in the country side of England, where a new widow has moved into a house nearby, and everyone is wondering about her and her son. The narrator is quite smitten with her, which should not please the young lady who thought they were spoken for. (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Emily Anne Bronte, my apologies to the Bronte-ites)

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BOOK: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, 194 pages

Book Awards III Challenge: Printz Award 2005; YA Dystopian

I don't get nearly enough credit in life for the things I manage not to say. page 77

This book just broke my heart. Daisy had such a strong, unique voice, with an ability to tell much without details. It's about a girl with anorexia, but she never really talked about it, but it drove the plot in some ways, without being at all obvious, or an important book about anorexia. It's about family and love and how you don't get to chose who you love or what makes a family. It's also about the heartbreak of war, and how it tears people and countries apart.

We couldn't go on. We went on. Staying alive is what we did to pass the time. page 155

I really liked the style of writing. Daisy used Random Capitals, like a modern day Emily Dickison, to highlight Important Ideas. She also rambles on and on, but then throws in some important little observation. I like her cousins, with their weird connectedness, and how Daisy felt like she had come home the minute she set foot in the house. There is an inappropriate relationship with Daisy and her cousin, that may be unsettling for some readers, but it happened, and I didn't have a problem with it and it isn't graphicly described. They had an instant connection (not like on The Bachelor, a real one) and while she knew it wasn't quite right, the lack of parents around after the vague war broke out made decision making among the teenagers suspect.

I was thinking of approaching my old school next time I was in New York and telling them to replace the unit on Media Communications with one on How to Survive Half Dead in the Wild Without Much in the Way of Hope. page 155

There is war, and an occupation, but not many details were ever given about who or why, and it never really matters, because when it affects the life of the citizens, why they don't have food, or who killed the neighbours doesn't really matter. In the end, it was all about love and belonging for Daisy.

also reviewed at:
nymeth at things mean a lot
tanabata at in spring it is the dawn
3m at
terri at tip of the iceberg
jenny at jennysbooks

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

I was home with a sick kid today, most likely H1N1. She wasn't sick enough to go to the doctor, but too sick to send to school. Hopefully it won't go right through the house. It's really crazy about the flu and the vaccine. Funny story - the girl that is sick here got all caught up in grade four little girl drama on the day their vaccination clinic was announced last week. Big welling up eyes at supper, freaking about getting a needle, this girl says... that boy said.... It was kind of out of character because she's a tough little girl most of the time Look out if she's coming at you for the ringette ring. Anyway, she was getting herself all worked up about the needle. Later that night it started again, so I suggested there might be a reward for people who get through the vaccination without drama. Just suck it up, essentially. A minute later, I hear a calm, little voice, "What kind of reward?" Dramatic situation averted due to bribery. I'll have parenting advice here every week, thank you very much.

Don't forget to vote at Suey's for this week's Bookword Game. She'll have results later in the week and then new word for suggestions.

In reading, I just arrived in the English countryside to stay with my cousins, but war has just broken out and there are no adults in the house right now. There should probably be some supervision, because some inappropriate behaviour is occurring. (How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff)

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

CHALLENGE: Notable Book Challenge, Update

A Short History of a Reading Challenge:

Once upon a time, I met some bloggers who read books. All the books I liked to read - the ones you find on lists. I haven't decided if it's the books I like, or just checking off the lists, either way, I am having fun. Way back in once upon a time 2007, Wendy, at caribousmom, organized a challenge to read a number of books from the NY Times Notable Book list. *Historical note: She was probably one of the first people to set up a blog specifically for a challenge. She invited participants to post reviews to the group blog. I tiptoed around, reading their reviews, reading some of the books, and then finally getting brave enough to join in all the fun. I read a great group of books from the list that year:
The next year, 2008, wendy expanded the challenge to include notable book lists from several sources besides NY Times. She made another blog, with all the lists available. Lots more people joined. Each time, she left the challenge parameters up to the reader, to set their own personal challenge. In 2008, I read:
In 2009, she made it a perpetual challenge. I confess, I forgot about going to the blog but I still had the lists in the back of my mind. I made my own post that I use to keep track of the books I've read from the NY Times Notable books each year, copying the idea from Michelle at onemorechapter. (I copy lots of great ideas from Michelle, thanks!) I limited it to NY Times just for convenience - how many lists can I keep track of anyway? Many of the same books get listed anyway. It appears that 8 books is about my average each year to read from the list.

Today I saw an update from Wendy which made me remember this little personal challenge. While there are still two months left in the year, I have already read 8 books from the NY Times notable book lists over the years. I don't pick just from the latest year, I allow myself to pick from any of the lists because there are still tons of great books I've missed over the years. So the list from this year:
I can't see me reading anymore this year, but I'll try again next year, and keep reading these listed books. Thanks Wendy, for starting this whole challenge, and promoting good books and the community of book bloggers.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

CHALLENGE: Women Unbound

There is a new challenge on the go: Women Unbound, to celebrate women's studies:

the multidisciplinary study of the social status and societal contributions of women and the relationship between power and gender.

There are plenty of details and ideas over the the Women Unbound Blog, set up especially for this challenge.

Length of Challenge: November 1, 2009-November 30, 2010

There are several levels to chose from:
  • Philogynist: read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one.
  • Bluestocking: read at least five books, including at least two nonfiction ones.
  • Suffragette: read at least eight books, including at least three nonfiction ones.
My first reaction was to pick the lowest level, but then I decided I should try to really challenge myself, so I will go with the Suffragette, to read at least eight books, and three must be nonfiction.

Here's what the blog says about the types of books:

For nonfiction, this would include books on feminism, history books focused on women, biographies of women, memoirs (or travelogues) by women, essays by women and cultural books focused on women (body image, motherhood, etc.) It’s trickier to say what is applicable as fiction. Obviously, any classic fiction written by a feminist is applicable. But where do we go from there? To speak generally, if the book takes a thoughtful look at the place of women in society, it will probably count. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to explain in your review why you chose this for the challenge and its connection to women’s studies

Potential Book Ideas:

  • The Bridal Wreath (Book 1 Kristin Lavrandatter) by Sigrid Undget - Nobel prize winning author about women's life in 14th century Norway
  • Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto - young women deal with grief
  • Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey - set in Ghana, the life of women played an important point, as young girls are offered as wives to fetish priests to reverse family curses
  • Sky Burial by Xinran - woman journalist writes story of Chinese doctor who searches for her husband, and lives in Tibet
  • The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg - caribousmom says Berg always has strong women characters
  • The Tenent of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte - Brontes! nuff said (not reviewed)
  • The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor - about a woman settler in 18th century New Brunswick

  • The Book of Negroes by Laurence Hill - about a slave who survived
  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver - was on the tagmash at librarything
  • Affinity by Sarah Waters - was on the tagmash at librarything
  • American Girls About Town short stories - all written by women

I think there will be fiction books I decide after I read them that fit in this category, so it's hard to know before hand what will count.