Thursday, December 31, 2009

CHALLENGE: Aussie Author Challenge


Being hosted at Booklover Book Reviews
January 1 - December 31, 2010

You can be:
TOURIST - Read and review 3 books by 3 different Australian authors
FAIR DINKUM - Read and review 8 books by Australian authors (a minimum of 5 different Australian authors)

I expect I'll be a tourist, but being a Fair Dinkum sounds like so much fun!

Check out here for more info, and for sign-ups.

Potential authors to read:
  • Peter Carey - The True History of the Kelly Gang (Booker Winner)
  • Kate Grenville - The Secret River, The Idea of Perfection (New Author)
  • Kerry Greenwood - a Phryne Fisher mystery
  • Jaclyn Moriarty - Feeling Sorry for Celia (Young Adult)
  • Geraldine Brooks - Year of Wonders
  • Markus Zusak (I think he's releasing a new book in September 2010!)
The books I read:
1. Kerry Greenwood - The Green Mill Murder 03/26
2. Shaun Tan - The Arrival (graphic novel) 04/06
3. Peter Temple - Truth 06/07
4. Jaclyn Moriarty - Feeling Sorry for Celia 08/22
5.

LIST: Favorite Reads of the Decade

Best Books of the Decade (aren't I glad I've kept a reading list of all the books I've read, and that I didn't use to read over 100 books in a year, making it easier to pick top books?) Some years, I read a lot of books from one particular series. I can never pick one book in particular book that I liked best, but the series as a whole deserved recognition, as I read several books in a year of that particular series.

2000
Evening Class - Maeve Binchy (not sure if this was the first time I read this)
The White Bone - Barbara Gowdy
Harry Potter - the first two books
series of the year - Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry

2001
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
A Good House - Bonnie Bernard
Girl with Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
series of the year - Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel

2002
Bridget Jones: Beyond Reason - Helen Fielding
series of the year - Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan


2003
Ella Minnow Pea - Mark Dunn
Confessions of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
series - William Monk mysteries by Anne Perry


2004
The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch albon
DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
The Live of Pi - Yann Martel
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet

2005
America: Democracy In-action - Jon Stewart
The Poet - Michael Connolly
The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant
Middlesex - Jeffery Eugneides
A Girl Named Zippy - Haven Kimmel

2006
Pope Joan - Donna Woolfolk Cross
A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
The Lady and the Unicorn - Tracy Chevalier
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

2007
I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chobsky
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
series of the year - Shakespeare mystery series by Charlaine Harris

2008
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
Crow Lake - Mary Lawson
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Black Swan Green - David Mitchell
series of the year - Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri

2009
The Lizard Cage - Karen Connolly
Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
The Outlander - Gil Adamson
The Housekeeper and the Professor - Yoko Ogawa
series of the year - Inspector Erlunder series (Icelandic mysteries)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LIST: Books Read in 2009

  • December
  • 119. Small Wars - Sadie Jones
  • 118. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte
  • 117. Good to a Fault - Marina Endicott
  • 116. Hypothermia - Arnaldur Indridason
  • 115. Vinyl Cafe Diaries - Stuart McLean
  • 114. Pyongyang - Guy Delisle
  • 113. Let It Snow - Green, Johnson, Myracle
  • 112. The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor - Sally Armstrong
  • 111. Z for Zachariah - Robert C O'Brien
  • 110. The Art of Mending - Elizabeth Berg
  • November

  • 109. Sky Burial - Xinran
  • 108. Wife of the Gods - Kwei Quartey
  • 107. Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto
  • 106. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 105. Girl in Hyacinth Blue - Susan Vreeland
  • 104. The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick
  • 103. I Feel Bad About My Neck - Nora Ephron
  • 102. The Bridal Wreath - Sigrid Undset
  • 101. How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
  • October

  • 100. Lamb - Christopher Moore
  • 99. The Number Devil - Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  • 98. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
  • 97. Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl
  • 96. The Prophecy of the Sisters - Michelle Zink
  • September

  • 95. The Adventures of Huck Finn - Mark Twain
  • 94. Nobody Move - Denis Johnson
  • 93. Nefertiti - Michelle Moran
  • 92. Brooklyn - Colm Toibin
  • 91. Sourvenir of Canada - Douglas Coupland
  • 90. London Transports - Maeve Binchy
  • 89. The Patience of the Spider - Andrea Camilleri
  • 88. The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas
  • August

  • 87. Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
  • 86. Still Life - Louise Penny
  • 85. No Time for Goodbye - Linwood Barclay
  • 84. Love and Summer - William Trevor
  • 83. In the Company of the Courtesan - Sarah Dunant
  • 82. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
  • 81. Without You - Anthony Rapp
  • 80. The Last Summer (of You and Me) - Ann Brashares
  • 79. The Bishop's Man - Linden MacIntyre
  • 78. Fifth Business - Robertson Davies
  • 77. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
  • July

  • 76. A Death in the Family - James Agee
  • 75. E = mc^2 - David Bodanis
  • 74. The Pact - Jodi Picoult
  • 73. Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella
  • 72. Rounding the Mark - Andrea Camilleri
  • 71. Miss Leavitt's Stars - George Johnson
  • 70. American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Hell-Heaven - Jhumpa Lahiri SS
  • The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman SS
  • 69. The Lizard Cage - Karen Connelly
  • 68. I Was Amelia Earhart - Jane Mendelsohn
  • 67. Clara Callen - Richard B Wright
  • 66. Falling - Anne Simpson
  • 65. Searching for Bobby Orr - Stephen Brunt
  • 64. The View From Castle Rock - Alice Munro
  • June
  • 63. The Sister - Poppy Adams
  • 62. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
  • 61. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
  • Rapunzel's Revenge - Shannon Hale, Dean Hale
  • 60. Keeping the Moon - Sarah Dessen
  • 59. Sacred Cows - Karen E Olson
  • 58. The Reader - Bernhard Schlink
  • 57. The Smell of the Night - Andrea Camilleri
  • 56. Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen
  • 55. The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
  • May
  • 54. The Children of Men - PD James
  • 53. The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
  • 52. Survivor - Mark Burnett
  • 51. The Rebels - Sandor Marai
  • 50. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread - Don Robertson
  • 49. Map of the Invisible World - Tash Aw
  • 48. The Housekeeper and the Professor - Yoko Ogawa
  • 47. Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris
  • 46. Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
  • 45. Nocturnes - Kazou Ishiguro
  • 44. Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout
  • April
  • 43. Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels
  • 42. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
  • 41. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  • 40. Skellig - David Almond
  • 39. Twisted - Laurie Halse Anderson
  • 38. Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
  • 37. A Celibate Season - Carol Shields, Blanche Howard
  • 36. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging - Louise Rennison
  • 35. The Pull of the Moon - Elizabeth Berg
  • 34. De Niro's Game - Rawi Hage
  • Dear Mr Henshaw - Beverly Cleary
  • 33. Specials - Scott Westerfeld
  • March
  • 32. Excursion to Tindari - Andrea Camilleri
  • 31. Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
  • 30. December Heat - Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
  • 29. Looking for Alaska - John Green
  • 28. The People of Sparks - Jeanne Duprau
  • 27. Arctic Chill - Arnuldar Indridason
  • 26. Moon Tiger - Penelope Lively
  • 25. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • 24. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
  • 23. Dancing to Almendra - Mayra Montero
  • February
  • 22. Remembering the Bones - Frances Itani
  • 21. The Draining Lake - Arnaldur Indridason
  • 20. The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau
  • 19. Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
  • 18. The Outlander - Gil Adamson
  • 17. Stargirl/The Library Card - Jerry Spinelli
  • 16. No Great Mischief - Alistair MacLeod
  • 15. Last Days of Summer - Steve Kluger
  • 14. Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
  • 13. Daughter of Fortune - Isabel Allende
  • 12. The Darwin Awards - Wendy Northcutt
  • 11. Shakespeare Wrote for Money - Nick Hornby
  • January
  • 10. Beat the Reaper - Josh Bazell
  • 9. Bel Canto - Ann Patchett
  • 8. Three Bags Full - Leonie Swann
  • 7. Dewey - Vicki Myron
  • 6. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
  • 5. Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
  • 4. Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
  • 3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
  • 2. The Road Home - Rose Tremain
  • 1. Mercy Among the Children - David Adams Richards

LIST: New Author Finds in 2009

I read a lot of new authors this year, and I've divided the top 14 into several categories:


I liked them so much, I read more than one:

John Green Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Let It Snow
- writes with a wonderful voice, young adult books for everyone. I lent An Abundance of Katherines to anyone who would take it

Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point, Blink
- pop psychology written so easily, using great examples to make his point, examples that you remember

Sarah Dessen Just Listen, Keeping the Moon
- another young adult writer with easy, enjoyable books

Elizabeth Berg The Pull of the Moon, The Art of Mending
- dependably written characters, with an interesting look at relationships. Heavy chick-lit? Not light and fluffy, but from a strong woman's point of view

Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games, Catching Fire
- young adult dystopian, with the most awaited third book in a series to come next year. I don't often buy new releases, but this series was gobbled up by myself and my 12 year old


first book I read by the author, but definitely not the last (other titles to read in brackets):

Linden MacIntyre
I read The Bishop's Man (Causeway, The Long Stretch)
- a new Maritime author, with the heart of Cape Breton in him

Michelle Moran I read Nefertiti (The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter)
- historical, Egyptian books, fabulous and engrossing

Christopher Moore I read Lamb (Fool, the Stupidist Angel)
-funny, funny, funny!

Elizabeth Strout I read Olive Kitteridge (Amy and Isabelle)
-great character study in Olive, written with such unique perspectives

Sarah Addison Allen I read Garden Spells (The Sugar Queen)
-magical and wonderfully light

Only book they've written, hurry up! I want another! (maybe not technically their only book)

Brian Selznick The Invention of Hugo Cabret
- loved, loved this book. The combination of pictures and story, was amazing. I'd love to read another book like this one

Gil Adamson The Outlander
- great page-turner, adventure, love story set in the wild west of Canada. Another book I recommended to everyone, with some beautiful writing (Adamson is a poet)

Andrew Davidson The Gargoyle
- I was leery of picking this one up, but I fell on the love-it side of the argument. The ambition of this book, and the love stories

Josh Brazell Beat the Reaper
- There must be more adventures of this doctor in the witness protection program, the potential is too great to stop at one. Brazell is a doctor with a wicked sense of humor

New authors are so much fun to discover. I'm going to try the New Author Challenge next year, and keep better track of my-to-me authors.

Who was your best author find in 2009?

GAME: Bookword Game


Results are in from the last Bookword Challenge.
What shall we call a book that makes you sleepy?

It shall henceforth be called Lullabook, as suggested by Suziqoregon. Great Job SuziQ!

Luckily, I haven't had one of those lullabooks lately. See how easy it is to work the new word into your vocabulary? We have had a request for a bookword, and I can easily see where the need for this bookword comes from. For those of us who keep detailed records of the books we read (and it isn't to brag, it's the numbers and lists and stats that are so much fun to play with) are in a unique dilemma this week.

What do we call a book that we start reading this year, and finish next year?
(Even if that happens over a day or so between December and January?)

Suggestions in the comments please, for the next week. Star this post if you need to, and think on it (until next year!) We'll have a poll next week on the suggestions.

I hope everyone is making their new year's resolution to think of great ideas for the Bookword Game, and to spread the word to get more people playing. Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

BOOK: Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Title and author of book?

Small Wars by Sadie Jones, 376 pages

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre?
Fiction, literature- fiction. It's a relationship story, with a strong theme of war.

What led you to pick up this book?
I read Jones' The Outcast last year and liked it, so when I saw it as a review book to pick from RandomHouse Canada, I jumped on it. I also liked the idea of the Cyprus setting.

Summarize the plot, but don't give away the ending!
Major Hal Treherne, British career army guy, is posted to Cyprus in 1956, and brings his wife Clara and twin daughters to the island. The island is under battle between the British rule and the Turks and Greek inhabitants. Hal has anxious to be involved in real battles, like his father was, and that he was trained for, after a stint in Germany, but the realities of war hit him hard, and some situations happen that throw him into disarray. Plus, he has to deal with his wife who is living in a warzone.

What did you like most about the book?
The horrors of war, even a small war, are profound. The subtle changes in the relationships and Hal's outlook on the military were very well done. The setting of Cyprus felt very real, and the dangers of a terrorist situation were made done very well.

Comparing the 'small war' of Cyprus with the small wars in a marriage, and showing that no war is small when it affects any one person was well done.

What did you like least?
The horrors and tragedies of war were done very well, and several violent situations were described almost too well.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books?
I read The Outcast, an shortlisted Orange nominated book in 2008. In both books, Jones tackles the crumbling British empire in the 1950s from the point of view of upper middle class. Stiff upper lip, pip, pip and all that stuff as their world changes around them.

What did you think of the main character?
Originally, I thought the main character was Clara, but Hal is equally important. The couple and their marriage were the main character. It took me a while to warm up to Hal, but I really felt for him by the end, and his moral decisions were stand up, and hard fought. Clara also grows a lot and has some tough decisions.

Any other particularly interesting characters?
Lt Davis, a translator, is the first to be shocked by the situations he is put it, and he is a pivotal character for both Clara and Hal. He certainly represents innocence.

Share a quote from the book:
Places that are fought over are always fought over, and will always be fought over, and there will never be an end to it, and each conflict is just adding to the heap of conflicts that no one can remember starting and no one will ever, ever finish. page 82

The outrage of the collective frees the individual to commit terrible acts. page 141

Share a favorite scene from the book.
There was a scene, late in the book, that flipped back and forth, quickly between Clara in town and Hal in the field, where is was clear some violent event would happen, but to who? when? how? It was very suspenseful and awful and well written to feel the tension.

What about the ending?
I was pleased with the ending, and the moral fortitude of the characters to deal with a life changing event and stay true to themselves.

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?
Fans of British characters, fans of well-written books, people who like seeing the effects of war on the small scale, and the way people deal with terrible situations, fans of Sadie Jones book The Outcast.

also reviewed by:
S. Krishna
Katherine at a girl walked into a bookstore

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?


After seeing Sherlock Holmes, with the brilliant leads of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, I am in a mystery/Victorian frame of mind. Excellent movie, very funny, and well done. I bought myself The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins to read. It's huge! Over 600 pages. I think I'll pick at it now and then until I get well established in the story. It was written as a serial originally so I am just staying true to the original.

In reading, I am in Cyprus, circa 1956, as the British hang on to their rule, and a couple tries to hang on to their marriage. War ruins everything. (Small Wars, Sadie Jones)

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

LIST: Best Crime Fiction Reads of 2009


If I had to pick my favorite genre, I would have to go with mystery. Some of the best series I've read were crime and mystery. It's that suspense quality, the clues, trying to figure out what happened. A great series will have a detective that makes you want to know them better. And they have their own issues to deal with, generally some terrible event in their life that leads them to make order in the world.

At Mysteries in Paradise, Kerrie has a great blog that is all about mysteries. I only recently found this site, but have been hanging around, getting lots of great new mysteries to read. There is an ongoing event, Crime Fiction Alphabet highlighting authors, or titles that begin with a particular letter. She also is looking for lists of your best crime fiction reads of 2009. She is taking lists, collating and listing them, and then making a big ole list. Here's my little effort for the year, in order of excellence, according to me.

1. Wife of the Gods, Kwei Quartey
First in a series with Det Darko Dawson, this mystery set in Ghana was a wonderful find. Darko was a great character, and the juxtaposition of present world and old traditions really worked.

2. Inspector Erlendur series
The Draining Lake, Indridason
Arctic Chill, Indridason
Hypothermia, Indridason
I'm putting all these books together, the Icelandic mystery series. I give these books to everyone who likes mysteries, as the setting, and characters, and the mystery all work so well. A flawed lead detective, two other police on the team who have their own interesting back stories, and the cold, dark Iceland: what are you waiting for?

3. Still Life, Louise Penny
A new to me series set in Quebec, I like when I find a mystery series that already has 4 or 5 books written. Inspector Gamauche solved a wonderful little crime, and is a detective in the Poirot mold - smart, cool, and ideal. I have to go back to Three Pines again soon.

4. Sacred Cows, Karen E Olson
Another first in a series for me. It reminded me a lot of Stephanie Plum by Evanovich, but I preferred Annie Seymour's humor and romantic leads in this book. Great mystery as well.

5. Excursion to Tindari, Andrea Camilleri
The Smell of the Night, Camilleri
Rounding the Mark, Camilleri
The Patience of the Spider, Camilleri
Every now and then I need a trip to Sicily and a little visit with Inspector Montalbano. Salvo is rude, and crude, and a bit obnoxious. He knows what he needs to do and doesn't let the actual law get in his way of solving the crime. He also enjoys his food, and reading these books is fun, and makes me hungry.

6. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
The book where Sookie Stackhouse, mindreading waitress of True Blood fame, got her start. She meets Bill, a vampire whose mind she can't read. She ends up solving a murder to help clear Bill. I prefer Harris' Shakespeare mystery series, but when I want to read another vampire book/mystery, I'll continue with this series.

7. Three Bags Full, Leonie Swann
The idea of the book is a bit better than the execution, but it was worth a read to see how sheep think. The flock of sheep solve the murder of their shepherd in Ireland.

8. December Heat, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Continuing my 'around the world one mystery at a time', this one is set in Brazil. It was a great feel to the book, the hot December in Rio deJaneiro with another slightly flawed detective. I do plan to go back and read another mystery by this author - there are a few in the series.

CHALLENGE: Our Mutual Read


Hosted at the Our Mutual Read blog, check it out for more details.

(I haven't decided which level I am reading yet.)
Level 1 - 4 books, at least 2 written during 1837 - 1901. The other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction
Level 2 - 8 books, at least 4 written during 1837 - 1901. The other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction.

My pool of books written between 1837 - 1901
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • something by Charles Dickens
  • Madame Bovary by Flaubert

My neo-Victorian pool of books
  • Bethlehem Road, a Thomas Pitt mystery by Anne Perry
  • Affinity, Sarah Waters
There are also some Mini-Challenges:
Period Film Mini-Challenge -- watch at least 6 films that take place between 1837 - 1901 (they don't necessarily have to be based on a book) and post a review.
  • Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downing Jr and Jude Law (ok, I saw this on Dec 27, 2009, but I seldom go to the theatre to watch a movie, and this really got me into the mood to read more Victorian novels, so I am including it now)

Short Story Mini-Challenge -- read 12 short stories written or taking place between 1837 - 1901 and post a review
  1. My Dear Miss Fairfax - Nicola Slade found here
  2. The Death of Olivier Becaille - Emile Zola (written during 1837 - 1901)


Books Read:
1. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins; Published 1860
2. Bethlehem Road - Anne Perry
3. Invincible Louisa - Cornelia Meigs (biography of Louisa May Alcott)
4. The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester (biography of the OED)
5. Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell ; published 1853

Saturday, December 26, 2009

LIST: Canada Reads 2010


On this year's CANADA READS 2010:

- Perdita Felicien defends Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald
- Simi Sara defends Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott
- Roland Pemberton (Cadence Weapon) defends Generation X by Douglas
Coupland
- Dr. Samantha Nutt defends The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
- Michel V├ęzina defends Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, translated by
Lazer Lederhendler

The debates will be held in March or April on CBC Radio. Jackie at Farm Lane Books had a great guest post about Canada Reads.

Here's my opinions; 2 books I read a few years ago, and the 3 new to me books:

Fall on Your Knees - I read this many years ago, when it was an Oprah book. I remember liking it but not loving it. It was one in a string of Oprah books I read at that time, and it was one too many books about incest at that time for me. I liked the setting, and I was able to read it through easily, I just found the subject and characters too depressing. I know lots of people love this book, and I'd still like to read Ann Marie MacDonald's other book. I do remember reading A Good House by Bonnie Burard after and appreciating the normalcy of the family in that book - no deep dark secrets.

Generation X - I'm conflicted here. I didn't enjoy the book, but still count Coupland as one of my favorite authors. At the same time, I recognize why Gen X is an important book, why it is used to describe a whole generation, one to which I belong demographically. Disillusioned youths aren't fun to read about, they come off as whiny and lazy (see On the Road, Jack Kerouac.) Coupland invented the phrase "McJobs" and this book is important. But why not pick Eleanor Rigby, or Hey Nostradamus! or The Gum Thief or All Families are Psychotic? Better stories to read that are still Coupland.

Good to a Fault - Marina Endicott, 372 pages

Lots to think about while reading this wonderful book. Clara takes in a family after hitting them with her car and the mother finds out she has cancer. Clara needed a bump like that in her life. It's messy, and awkward, and real life families. The characters are all essentially good people, trying their best, but for their own motives and reasons.

It started slowly for me, trying to get past Clara's prickliness, but as the second half of the book developed, I was hooked in. It was difficult to read at times, worrying about the outcome, which would be bad for someone however it ended, so I was pleased with my time spent reading this book. Lots of poetry and beautiful phrases, and heartbreaking situations.

I'd say this book has a good chance against Fall on Your Knees, the book I suspect is the front runner in this year's crop. I'd vote for Good to a Fault so far.


The Jade Peony by Watson Choy,

I have this one home from the library now, reading and review to come soon. I'll bump this post to the top as I review the latest Canada Reads Book.












Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner

on request from the library, reading and reviewing to come in the next month.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game


Added December 23:
We'll take a week break for the holidays - results will be posted on December 30th and a new word listed.

Time to vote!

We asked the question: What shall we call a book that makes you sleepy?

We got suggestions:
Melissa suggested a dozer
SuziQoregon suggested a lullabook
arcona suggested a yawner
jan suggested Drows-a-book

Come on by my blog and make a vote. Everyone and anyone is welcome to vote, these words are for everyone to use. I'll keep the poll up for a week, and next Wednesday, the results will be posted and a new bookword to think about. Have a great week!

BOOK: Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason, 314 pages
translated by Victoria Cribb

A Reykjavik Murder Mystery

A Continuing Series Review Format:

Give a brief summary of the book:
Inspector Erlendur is not supposed to investigating the suicide of Maria, a young woman, but when her friend comes to him, concerned, with a tape from a seance, something doesn't seem quite right. He begins asking around, without any proper authorization. Additionally, he reopens a few very old missing person files, hoping to ease the mind of a dying father.

Likes?
Erlendur is coming to terms with the decisions he made years ago to leave his family, as his son and daughter become more and more a part of his present day life after no contact for most of their childhood. The disappearance of his younger brother in a blizzard when they were ten and eight has defined Erlendur's whole life, and the cases he is working on are always related to that incident. I like how Erlendur is growing in his personal life, learning to look beyond his own pain.
I liked reading the parallel story of Maria before she committed suicide, and seeing what was going on in her state of mind.
The dark, cold atmosphere of Iceland is perfect for this time of year.

Dislikes?
There was almost no interaction with his partners, Sigurdur Oli or Elinborg and I missed them as characters in the story.
There is a new translator in the series as Bernard Scudder, the original translator of the first five books, died during the last book, Arctic Chill. I don't remember noticing the British words before, maybe they always were there, but using terms like 'lorry', 'boot', and 'lift' really stuck out for me as British, but not necessarily Icelandic words.

Additional Thoughts on the Series:
I've been recommending this mystery series to everyone I know. Good solid mysteries, great character development over the course of the series, and exotic location (doesn't anywhere not your home seem exotic?)

This was the third book in the series I've read this year, and there are no more translated as of now. I have the one early one left to read. I see by wikipedia that there are two recent books that haven't been translated yet. Come on Victoria, get to work!

thanks to Randomhouse Canada for the review copy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BLOGGING:It's Tuesday, Where Are You?


Enjoy this holiday week! If you are reading, feel free to leave a comment, but there are tons of other things to keep everyone busy! There is still wrapping, and a bit of shopping, and some cooking to be done around here. Plus, I'm still in school today, but it is the last day today. Come on by my post and vote on the Bookword Game.

In reading, I am in Reykjavik, investigating the suicide of a young girl, but it is bringing up the disappearance of Erlender's brother when he was a child. (Hypothermia, Arnaldur Indridason)

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

LIST: Best Raidergirl3 Reads of 2009

It's time for my list of favorite reads of 2009. I find it difficult to pick, to compare such different books, so this is my result.

The Runner's Up (or how can I pick the best ten when I read over a hundred books?)

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor - Sally Armstrong best historical fiction
I Feel Bad About My Neck - Nora Ephron best essays
Still Life - Louise Penny best mystery
eta: Wife of the Gods - Kwai Quartey best start to a mystery series (I missed this on my list!)
e=mc^2 - David Bodanis best nonfiction
The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread - Don Robertson best book I read on a blogger rec
DeNiro's Game - Rawi Hage best war book
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen best magical realism book
Rapunzel's Revenge - Shannon Halebest fairy tale retelling
The Sister- Poppy Adams best crazy person/plus moths

the top dozen:
The Housekeeper and the Professor - Yoko Ogawa best awww!
Beat the Reaper - Josh Brazell best action/adventure/humor
Then We Came to the End -Joshua Ferris best narrative voice
The Hunger Games/ Catching Fire -Suzanne Collins best series
Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Stout best short story collection
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson best love story
The Outlander - Gil Adamson best western
Clara Callen - Richard B Wright best epistolary
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters best Victorian, best suspense
Twenties Girl -Sophie Kinsella best all-round easy/fun read/best published in 2009
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Sleznick best children's, and best graphic novel
The Lizard Cage - Karen Connelly best book

How many of these have you read? Do you agree on my picks? Which ones will you be looking to read?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

BOOK: Vinyl Cafe Diaries by Stuart McLean

Vinyl Cafe Diaries by Stuart McLean, 302 pages

3rd Canadian Book Challenge

"We may not be big, but we are small." Such is the motto of the Vinyl Cafe, Dave's record store.

For those unfortunate souls who are not privy to CBC Radio, and Stuart McLean's show The Vinyl Cafe, Dave, his wife Morley, and their children Stephanie and Sam have multiple adventures getting through life. McLean's humorous turn and distinct reading style make this book a wonderful diversion. Obviously, you can't hear McLean's reading style in this book, but once you've heard it, that is the voice that will narrate this book in your head. (Head on over to iTunes and the CBC podcasts of The Vinyl Cafe, available for free. There are some particular classics, such as Dave Cooks the Turkey, and the one where Sam sets up a water slide in the backyard)

These Diaries contain four or five stories focused on each of the main characters. The inside cover has such teasers, with my comments in italics, as:
  • What is Dave doing by himself in a Halifax hotel room with a duck? (possibly the funniest story in the book)
  • What purloined item has Sam surreptitiously stuffed under his mattress and why? (I remember hearing this one on the radio. With my own 12 year old boy, all the Sam stories took on a new poignancy)
  • Why is Morley skulking around with a man named Frank on the eve of her fortieth birthday?(no, wait, anytime there is a party that Dave is involved with, that's the funniest story)
  • What is it about the book club that Mary Turlington doesn't dare tell Morley? (awesome, a book club story, surely people will recognize some of their own book club members)
What makes these such wonderful stories is the same thing that makes Modern Family such a great television show. (Wait, are you watching Modern Family? Because it is so very funny, and well written, and a great family that you need to put it on your TV programmer) What makes both so great is first of all the comedy. Slapstick, misunderstandings, general life mistakes funny. Secondly, the family members like each other, and it is in the comedy that the truths about relationships and family love come out. The endings of Modern Family usually have a voice over, which should be schmaltzy, but are in fact perfect, ironic observations which show the love family can have. Just like Dave and Morley and Sam and Stephanie.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BOOK: The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong, 390 pages

Women Unbound Challenge; TBR Lite; Canadian Book Challenge

Sally Armstrong was always fascinated by her great-great-great-great-grandmother. Charlotte Taylor was legendary in their family - running away from England with the family butler, landing in Canada as the only English woman in the Miracmichi, the rumors of her love with a local native man, the many husbands she buried, the twelve children she raised. As she investigated into Charlotte's life, she made some conjectures about where she might have gone and how she lived. Since Charlotte lived in the late 1700s, there wasn't a ton of information. But combining family legend with known information, she has written a wonderful tribute to an amazing lady.

It is published as fiction, but it is, as they say, based on a true story. The Miramichi is in northern New Brunswick, still a generally wildish type area, based on my own prejudices and stereotypes. Armstrong writes a fascinating story, showing the reader what life was like for the early settlers in Canada. Not easy to be a woman, but Charlotte was the type of woman who thrived in a pioneer setting. She was able to make decisions that helped her (the men to marry) and then pick up herself was bad things happened (she buried several husbands.) Through it all, she was determined to own her land and defend her family. She maintained friendships with the Mi'kmaq, and Armstrong shows the poor treatment the natives received.

For those interested in historical fiction- a Canadian view of the deportation of the Acadians, the settlement by the English and the Loyalists from the States (the American Revolution crept into Canada since the British were still ruling here), the treatment of the Mi'kmaq, this is a great book. Besides this broad view, the specific life of Charlotte Taylor was remarkable, as one woman living in the wilds of New Brunswick maintained her family and built a legacy.

CHALLENGE: New Author Challenge


Hosted at Literary Escapism, you pick the level of new authors you hope to read next year - 15, 25 or 50 new authors.

The Guidelines: the authors must be new to you and, preferably from novels. Anthologies are a great way to try someone new, but only a third of your new authors can be from anthologies.

All the details are at this post. I'll keep track of up to 25 new authors, but I want them to be authors of more than one book, if possible.

I'll start keeping track here:
  1. Alan Bradley - Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  2. Martha Baillie - The Incident Report
  3. Nancy Springer - I am Morgan Le Fay
  4. Lisa Lutz - The Spellman Files
  5. Penelope Fitzgerald The Bookshop
  6. Georgette Heyer Why Shoot a Butler?
  7. Jhumpa Lahiri - Interpreter of Maladies
  8. Charlotte Gray - Nellie McClung
  9. Jane Johnson - The Tenth Gift
  10. Nicolas Dickner - Nikolski
  11. Alison Lurie - Foreign Affairs
  12. Qiu Xioalong - Red Mandarin Dress
  13. Stephanie Kallos - Broken For You
  14. Lawrence Hill - The Book of Negroes
  15. Joseph Boyden - Through Black Spruce
  16. Stieg Larsson - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  17. Wilkie Collins - The Woman in White
  18. Jacqueline Winspear - Maisie Dobbs
  19. Anna Quindlan - Every Last One
  20. Elizabeth Taylor - Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
  21. Ngaio Marsh - Vintage Murder
  22. Susan Wittig Albert - The Tale from Hill Top Farm
  23. Peter Temple - Truth
  24. Rachel Ferguson - The Brontes Went to Woolworth
  25. Elizabeth Enright - Thimble Summer
  26. Carol Ryrie Brink - Caddie Woodlawn
  27. Lori Lansens - The Girls
  28. Kamila Shamsie - Burnt Shadows
  29. Carolyn Parkhurst - The Nobodies Album
  30. Irene Nemirovsky - Suite Francaise
  31. Catherine O'Flynn - The News Where You Are
  32. Joanne Harris - Five Quarters of the Orange
  33. Simon Winchester - The Madman and the Professor
  34. Lisa Moore - February
  35. David Nicholls - One Day
  36. Alan Furst - Spies of the Balkans
  37. Ellen Raskin - The Westing Game
  38. Wayne Johnston - The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
  39. Jeff Lindsay - Darkly Dreaming Dexter
  40. Emma Donoghue - Room 
  41. Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room
  42. Caroline B Cooney - Code Orange
  43. Deon Meyer - Thirteen Hours
  44. Maggie Stiefvater  - Shiver
  45. Oliver Sacks - The Mind's Eye
  46. Elizabeth Gaskell  - Cranford
  47. Jeff Lemire - Essex County
  48. Antonya Nelson - Bound
  49. Dawn French - A Tiny Bit Marvellous
  50. Marcus Chown - We Need to Talk About Kelvin
  51. tbr: The Man on the Balcony - Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo


 New Authors: Debut Books
  1. James Thompson - Snow Angels
  2. Matthew Hooton - Deloume Road
  3. Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go
  4. Helena Simonson - Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
  5. Kathryn Stockett - The Help
  6. Holly LeCraw - The Swimming Pool
  7. Eleanor Catton - The Rehearsal
  8. Ross Raisin - Out Backward
  9. Drew Hayden Taylor - Motorcycles and Sweetgrass
  10. Rebecca Skloot - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Sacks
  11. Doug Harris - You Comma Idiot




    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    CHALLENGE: Young Adult Challenge


    There are four levels this year:

    --The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

    --Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.

    --Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.

    --Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

    The challenge runs from January 1st thru December 2010.

    If anyone wants to join, click here!

    the book pool of possible reads:
    Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - Cohn and Levithan
    The House of the Scorpion - Nancy Farmer
    Enya Burning - Shannon Hale
    Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
    The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E Pearson
    The Blythes are Quoted - LM Montgomery
    Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry
    Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty
    I Am the Cheese - Robert Cormier
    The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin
    I Am Mogan La Fay - Nancy Springer
    Paper Towns - John Green
    Zero - Diane Tullson

    Completed:
    1. I Am Mogan La Fay - Nancy Springer 01/29
    2. Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness 02/21
    3. Paper Towns - John Green 04/04
    4. Zero - Diane Tullson 04/05
    5. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 04/11
    6. The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness 06/14
    7. Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty 08/22
    8. When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead 08/26
    9. The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin 08/28
    10.Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins 09/06
    11. Code Orange - Caroline B Cooney 10/18
    12.Shiver - Maggie Stievfator 11/07

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    CHALLENGE: Graphic Novel Challenge

    Nymeth and Chris are hosting the 2010 edition of the Graphic Novels challenge. There is a blog for the challenge, and different levels of participation.

    I'm going with Intermediate (3-10), and we are allowed to start early. I assume this means anywhere between 3 and 10 books. This little extra rule about starting early is what will help me. I don't have a lot of access to graphic novels, as my libraries don't seem to carry a lot. But there are a few that I am interested in reading. I actually have one here that I am hoping to read in the next few days.

    After browsing my library online, there aren't a ton of choices that interest me. I'm not into manga - Ramna or Vagabond in however many volumes there are; Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are in graphic novel form now; I've read most of the classics already that are in graphic novel form.
    Here's a list of interesting books, so I'll remember what books to look for.

    Pyongyang - Guy Delisle
    Blankets - Craig Thompson
    The Arrival - Shaun Tan
    Ghost World - Daniel Clowes
    Birth of a Nation - Aaron McGruder
    Che - the graphic biography

    Treasure Island, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, Bram Stoker's Dracula
    Tricked - Alex Robinson
    The Fate of the Artist - Eddie Campbell
    City of Glass - Paul Auster
    Artemis Fowl
    The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga
    Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast

    The books I've read already and would recommend include:
    Maus I and Maus II - Art Spiegelman
    The Borden Tragedy - Rick Geary
    American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang
    Pedro and Me - Judd Winick
    The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick
    Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

    The List
    1. Pyongyang - Guy Delisle
    2. Tales from Shakespeare - Marcia Williams
    3. Blankets - Craig Thompson
    4. The Arrival - Shaun Tan
    5. Essex County, Vol 2 Ghost Stories - Jeff Lemire
    6. Essex County, Vol 1 Tales from the Farm - Jeff Lemire

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?


    Oops, late today. I am in the biggest little record store in the world, where the motto is "We may not be big, but we are small," with Dave and Morley and the gang. (Vinyl Cafe Diaries by Stuart McLean)

    Don't forget to leave suggestions for the latest Bookword Game at Sueys. I'll have the poll up tomorrow, or Thurday if I continue on this crazy, busy schedule.

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

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    BOOK: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

    Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, 352 pages

    The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson
    A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
    The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle

    Three interconnected stories, each written by a different young adult writer (I've only read Green before) are a wonderful romp through a Christmas Eve of romance and angst. I loved how each story was separate, and yet the book connected all three, and were a part of one complete narrative.

    There is Jubilee, stuck on a train to her grandparents after her parents are put in jail after being involved in a Flobie Christmas ornament riot.
    Stuart, who has had his heart broken by a cheerleader ( She was a first class witch, and her red lipstick didn't match her skin)
    Jeb, trying to meet up with Addie, his girlfriend who works in a Starbucks.
    The cheerleaders, who get stranded at The Waffle House, causing the assistant manager and his friends to risk life and limb to get a Twister game to play, and hopefully make all their dreams come true, as teenage boys would imagine.
    Tinfoil Man, a minor character who wanders through each story in his tinfoil clothes.

    Lots of humor, gentle romance, and characters learning a bit more about themselves. This was a fun book, that make me feel there was a snowstorm going on outside. A great book to read before Christmas. And an angel might even get her wings.

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    CHALLENGE: What's in a Name 3 Challenge


    Challenge - What's In A Name 3 Challenge

    Dates -
    January 1 - December 31, 2010
    Host - Beth at Beth Fish Reads

    Read one book in each of the following categories, my ideas listed:

    A book with a food in the title
    :
    Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley 01/26

    A book with a body of water in the title:
    The Swimming Pool - Holly LeCraw 04/9

    A book with a title (queen, president) in the title:
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson 02/27

    A book with a plant in the title:

    Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 01/17

    A book with a place name (city, country) in the title:

    Nikolski - Nicolas Dickner 02/17

    A book with a music term in the title:
    La's Orchestra Saves the World -
    Alexander McCall Smith 03/14

    CHALLENGE: Complete Booker Challenge



    The Complete Booker is a blog for readers interested in reading the Man Booker prize books. It is a perpetual project to read the winner, short-listed, and long-listed books. Laura, the organizer, has decided to host a little reading challenge to provide a little incentive to people. More details and sign-up here. There are several levels to pick from. Some people are so hard-core, they are going to try all the levels. I'm not that crazy hard-core, I'm just going to try to read some of the winning books I have already bought and are sitting in my home.



  1. the challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2010.





  2. There are several levels of participation:




  3. Winners Circle: read at least 6 winners
    Contender: read at least 6 shortlisted nominees
    Longshot: read at least 6 longlisted nominees
    Booker Devotee: choose a year, and read all 6 shortlisted works from that year
    Booker Fanatic: choose a year, and read all 13 long- and shortlisted works from that year
    • Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.
    • Book selections don't have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.
    • SIGN UP using Mr. Linky below. Please link directly to a specific post about this challenge.
    • Post your reviews


    The first Man Booker challenge was hosted by Dewey, and I still have the button from that challenge. That was two years ago now. Sigh. I don't think she'd mind if I reuse this.

    Here's my list of hopeful reads for next year:
    Winners Circle
    1. The English Patient 1992
    2. The True History of the Kelly Gang 2001
    3. Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre 2003 02/25
    4. How Late it Was, How Late 1994
    5. The Line of Beauty 2004
    6. ? 2010 winner
    If I decide to read shortlisted, these are the Contenders:
    1. The Bookshop, Penelope Fitzgerald 1978
    2. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont - Elizabeth Taylor 1971
    3. The Secret River - Kate Grenville 2006
    4. The Glass Room - Simon Mawer 2009
    5. Room - Emma Donaghue short list 2010
    6. shortlist 2010 ? The Long Song - Andrea Levy
    Here's a longshot list, if I decide to go this way, because I like lists:
    1. What Was Lost, Catherine O'Flynn 2007
    2. February, Lisa Moore 2010
    3. Trespass, Rose Tremain 2010

      CHALLENGE: Orange January


      It's time to start thinking about an Orange January! Will it be books from 2009's list, or into the older titles? Check out the Orange Prize Project blog for more ideas. Every January and July, fans of the Orange Prize read all they can in celebration.

      Orange January Ideas:

      Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (2006 short list)
      Small Island by Andrea Levy (2004 winner)
      The Girls by Lori Lansens (2007 longlist)
      26a by Diana Evans (2005 New Author winner)
      Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2005 longlist)


      What got read:
      1. Poppy Shakespeare by Clare Allen (2007 New Author short list)
      2. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2004 short list)
      3.

      Tuesday, December 8, 2009

      BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?


      It's my day to host the Virtual Blog tour today - have fun! Lots of fun Christmas and Holiday stuff going on. I got my Holiday Swap package yesterday! The lovely Tanabata from inspringitisthedawn sent me, all the way from Japan, the third mystery that has been translated by Miyuki Miyabe, called Crossfire. I've read two of her other books and really liked them. To get the Japanese book all the way from Japan is just too cool. She also included a set of bookmarks and the sweetest Christmas card with a Japanese scene. It's quite lovely. Thank you very much.

      There is voting going on at Sueys for the latest Bookword. Head on over and vote for what to call a bad-covered book. Voting lasts til Wednesday and it's pretty close right now.

      In reading, I am in New Brunswick (just over the Northumberland Strait from the real me), then called Nova Scotia, in 1775. My name is Charlotte Taylor and I've run away from my family in England with our butler, and I am called the first woman settler of the Miramichi. (The Nine Live of Charlotte Taylor, by Sally Armstrong)

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

      BLOGGING EVENT: Virtual Advent Tour


      Welcome to An Adventure in Reading!
      Pull up a chair and have a glass of cheer and a little treat - maybe one of my caramels, or a whipped shortbread, something yummy and decadent.

      This is my third year on the Advent Tour, and by the third year, I get to call my post my own tradition. I like quizzes, and guessing games so I have assembled a little Christmas music quiz. Can you guess the name of the carol by the initials of its title? Scan through the list, and see which ones you can guess. If you highlight the area after the letters, the answer will magically appear for you.


      1. OCAYF
      O Come All Ye Faithful

      2. JTTW
      Joy to the World

      3. HTHAS
      Hark the Herald Angel Sings

      4. GRYMG
      God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

      5. OHN O Holy Night

      6. ICUAMC It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

      7. DTH Deck the Halls

      8. SB Silver Bells

      9. OLTOB O Little Town of Bethlehem

      10. SN Silent Night

      11. WTK We Three Kings of Orient Are

      12. TFN The First Noel

      13. IDOAWC I'm Dreaming of White Christmas

      14. RTRNR Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

      15. LDB Little Drummer Boy

      16. OCT O Christmas Tree

      17. WCIT What Child is This?

      18. AIAM Away in a Manger

      19. GTIOTM Go Tell it on the Mountain

      20. CROAOF
      Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

      21. FTS Frosty the Snowman

      and my most favorite Christmas song:
      22. DTKIC
      Do They Know It's Christmas?


      I hope you had fun thinking of the titles.
      Be sure to visit other stops on the tour today, with:

      Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf
      Bluestocking @ The Bluestocking Guide
      Nan @ Letters from a Hill Farm
      C

      Monday, December 7, 2009

      BOOK: The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg

      The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg,229 pages

      celebrate the author; women unbound challenge

      As a family plans its annual reunion, centered around a Minnesota country fair, one sister, Caroline wants to discuss what happened to her while growing up. Her brother, Steve, and sister, Laura, had very different experiences and have some difficulty dealing with this new reality.

      The story was very realistic, with the interactions and personalities of generations of families trying to get along. At one point, Laura wonders if she would like Caroline if she met her, as opposed to having to get along with her since they were sisters.

      This was my first Elizabeth Berg book, and I enjoyed it. The writing and characters drew me in, nobody was perfect, they were just dealing with each other the best way they knew how.


      Elizabeth Berg was born December 2, 1948 and is my choice for December author for Celebrate the Author. Becky hosted this challenge here. She is planning a new edition for 2010 for anyone interested. This book completes this challenge for me.

      The books and authors I read are:

      January:

      February:

      March:
      Penelope Lively Moon Tiger

      April:
      Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
      Beverly Cleary Dear Mr Henshaw
      Anne Michaels Fugitive Pieces

      May:
      Jodi Picoult Nineteen Minutes

      June:
      Sarah Dessen Keeping the Moon

      July:
      Alice Munro - The View From Castle Rock

      August:
      Sarah Dunant - In the Company of the Courtesan
      Robertson Davies - Fifth Business

      September:
      Andrea Camilleri - Patience of the Spider

      October:
      Marish Pessl - Special Topics in Calamity Physics

      November:
      Charlaine Harris - Dead Until Dark

      December:
      Elizabeth Berg - The Art of Mending

      Sunday, December 6, 2009

      BOOK: Z for Zachariah by Robert C O'Brien

      Z for Zachariah by Robert C O'Brien, 249 pages

      YA Dystopian Challenge

      Imagine if the worst happened - an atomic bomb that essentially destroys the earth were detonated. If for some reason, the sheltered valley you lived in were spared, and you ended up possibly the last person on earth. How would you live? Could you survive? Ann Burden, sixteen, is in this situation. She is surviving on the family farm, when a person arrives in her valley. Originally leery of the stranger, then hopeful, Ann tells her story in diary form.

      This was the last book written by O'Brien, who also wrote Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. He died before it was completed, in 1974, and his daughter finished writing the book, based on his notes. This book was full of suspense as Ann deals with the stranger, Mr Loomis, and it kept me reading and worrying about what would happen. With only two characters to read about, I became attached to Ann quite quickly. She was a smart, resourceful girl, who thought carefully about the situation she was in, and about the motives and behaviours of Mr Loomis.

      The imbalance of the relationship was very frustrating. He was the adult, and male, and he tried to take advantage of the situation. Ann stayed pretty level headed, and was braver and fairer to the situation than I thought she needed to be. It would be interesting to read the same story from Mr Loomis' point of view. If you are interested in post-apocalyptic fiction, this is an intense, suspenseful read, with a wonderful narrator and a story to keep you up at night. I'm putting it in my son's pile to read.