The Broke and the Bookish, the Top Ten list is books that would make great book club reads. I've never been in a book club (other than the Ramona book club, and that had different criteria), so I'm not sure what makes good book club books, other than you want to talk about them. So, here is a list of book I've wanted to discuss after reading:
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Nature? Nurture? Was she a terrible mother? Was he a terrible kid? The opinions would be varied, and vocal.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
A haunted house? End of the war, clash of the classes.
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Were they better together? Were they all awful people?
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Great ending, and the idea of memories and families would keep a group talking.
The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
Myanmar (Burma) and the essense of evil, and passive resistance.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
What the heck happened there?
Unless by Carol Shields
Can a woman ever write a great novel? Are women diminished in society? What does it mean to be 'good'? What did all those chapter titles mean?
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Will the future be that bad? Envirionmentalism?
The Unnamed and Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
Is this author the next big thing? How can he write two such different and yet amazing books?
What great books has your book club discussed?
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Orange January: Longlist 2006; 2nds Reading Challenge
Setting: Finland, the Grand Duchy of Finland under Russian rule, 1901. The first half of the book was in the northern countryside; the second half in the bustling, volatile Helsinki
Characters: Thomas, widowed country doctor; Eeva, the orphaned daughter of a revolutionist/communist; Lauri, Eeva's childhood friend, still idealistic; Lotta, old friend of Thomas, married but unhappy; Sashi, Russian rabble-rouser
What I Liked: The characters were complex and likable. Eeva was a child who had a bad experience being sent to the orphanage, but recognized her true self, and wouldn't compromise. Really, a modern confident woman of uncompromising principles. Thomas was very sad, but also very kind, trying to find some happiness but no clue how to get there. In situations of unrest, people can often take advantage, and I expected terrible things to happen, but Thomas and Eeva never did. Some of the minor characters, like Lotta and Sashi made sketchier choices.
The Historical Context at the end was very helpful to understanding what Dunmore was writing about, and why.
The food was also well described, and the nature and traditions. The sense of Finland really came through.
What I Didn't Like: the ending! After developing all these characters, describing the history of 1900s Finland and the conditions leading up to the Russian revolution and the Finnish civil war, the ending was way too vague. Ninety percent of the book was clear and so well done, but I would have liked a more explicit ending.
Would I Recommend It? I think so, especially if you are okay with endings that are more up in the air. I did enjoy the whole bit, up to the 'ending'.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 9:06 PM
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Canadian Book Challenge 5; Giller Prize Winner 2011; Man Booker Shortlist 2011
Esi Edugyan has been aptly recognized for her wonderful book, Half Blood Blues. The way she strings together the phrases and descriptions of music was wondrous. The slang of an American blues man living in Germany in the early 1940s was smooth, all those janes and jacks and licorice sticks. Here she has Sid Griffiths, the narrator, describe Delilah as she sings:
She swung the thick, strong rope of her voice round the words, coming down hard on them, cinching them together. Then she flung the notes bold up in the air, high and horn-like. But her voice was at its core a sailor's voice, rough and mannish. Her notes bitter croaks, filled with muddy regret. p 122
Made me want to listen to some blues music.
There are several sections to this novel, both past and present. There's late 1930s Germany (grim) and then the escape to Paris by most of the members of a blues band, including Hiero 'The Kid' Falk, the genius black German trumpeter. Time in occupied Paris is told forward and back, and in some ways reminded me of Suite Francaise, it felt so real. Sid is not the genius musician that Hiero, or even Chip, his buddy, which leads to some jealousy and decisions that Sid must look back on. He's telling his story sixty years later, through older eyes.
A well-written collection of characters set during a fractious time.
TA Publishers left me a link to a discussion, and a playlist picked out by Esi Edugyan
Posted by raidergirl3 at 6:27 PM
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I like to keep a list of new authors each year. Literary Escapism is hosting again - here's the info page and sign-up link.
The challenge will run from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.
Since this is an author challenge, there is no restriction on choosing your novels. They can definitely be from other challenges. However, 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.
I want this to be an easy challenge, so you can pick to do either 15, 25 or 50 new authors.
13. Julie Otsuka (The Buddha in the Attic)
14. Muriel Spark (Symposium)
15. Jane Harris (Gillespie and I)
16. CJ Sansom (Dissolution)
17. Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)
18. Edward P Jones (The Known World)
19. Aimee Bender (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake)
20. Asa Larsson (Until Thy Wrath Be Past)
21. Ellen Sussman (French Lessons)
22. Cynthia Ozick (Foreign Bodies)
23. John Boyne (The Boy in Striped Pyjamas)
24. Tiffany Trent (The Unnaturalists)
25. Paula McLain (The Paris Wife)
26. Elizabeth Hay (Late Nights On Air)
27. Ali Smith (there but for the)
28. Marian Keyes (Watermelon)
29. Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast)
30. David Gilmour (The Film Club)
31. Lauren B Davis (Our Daily Bread)
32. Nancy Farmer (The House of the Scorpion
33. Inger Ash Wolfe (The Calling)
34. Tina Fey (Bossypants)
35. Elisabeth Tova Bailey (The Sound of Wild Snails Eating)
36. Mary Roach (Stiff)
37. Anne Holt (1222)
38. John Baxter (Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas)
39. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
40. Tim Winton (Breath)
41. Connie Willis (Miracle and Other Stories)
Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry)
8. Kim Thuy (Ru)
9. Jian Ghomeshi (1982)
Posted by raidergirl3 at 3:32 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Man Booker Challenge; winner 2011
I got in line quickly at the library, and I know I read it quickly, but all I can remember is that a guy is remembering some event, there's another couple, something to do with the woman, and he never understood really what was going on.
Yeah, that's pretty vague, so I guess it didn't stick with me.
Mystery and Suspense Challenge; (book 2 of 10 in Martin Beck series)
I enjoy this series, especially as it reminds me so much of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series that I read back in the 1980s. Set in Sweden, with a devoted cop, this series is considered the beginning of crime writing. Very gritty, but I don't remember details of the crime from books I read. I tend to remember what is going on in the cops' lives. In this one, the cop's family goes on vacation without him, and his wife is not impressed that he went back to the city, and then Turkey, for a job. Their marriage is teetering.
One of the few non-fiction books I read last year. A number of women decide to buy, and share, a diamond necklace. Apparently the necklace was gorgeous, as everyone swooned when they saw it and was transformed when they wore it. Each woman brought a different life experience and expectation, and there were conflicts, but they mostly got along. My biggest problem was that I didn't identify as much with the women, mostly because they were all in their fifties, and just at a different life stage. I was surprised at that, but I guess my fifties will be different from my forties. It was an enjoyable read, but I didn't get the uplifting feeling that the author was trying for, even as she explained it as more than a piece of jewellry.
This is the thirteenth book I've read in the series. Clearly I like them, and how many times can I mention how enjoyable this series is? The food, the comical cop, the excellent endnotes by the translator, Montalbano and his existential angst at aging, what ever the mystery it - it's all good, and I want to go to Sicily.
Science Book Challenge; Graphic Novels
This was good, I put it in my classroom, tells the story of Einstein in a comic/graphic novel format. I remembering liking it, but that there were weird shifts in perspective in the writing that accompanied pictures.
Ireland Reading Challenge
After reading Brooklyn two years ago, I liked Toibin's writing style enough to keep him on my 'read another one' list of authors. The Ireland Reading Challenge was just the push I needed to start that Toibin book, Mothers and Sons, I had picked up. That's what I like about reading challenges - they remind me of books or authors I've wanted to read.
Very Irish, if your Irish stories are a little bleak, but literary. Toibin writes in a very easy manner, so that I easily got into the stories. In each story is a mother and son, none in a great relationship.
also reviewed: lizzysiddal at lizzy's literary life;
A bit of a Seperate Peace story, British boarding school gone bad. There was a really creepy vibe throughout, and I do remember the big reveal at the end, which I was pretty sure about, but it was still good. One of those books where the children are living pretty much adult free somehow and setting up there own life. Great setting along the Eastern sea in the 1960s.
an Inspector Espinosa Mystery (book 4 of 7); Global Reading Challenge
I enjoy spending time in the Copacabana neighbourhood of Rio with Inspector Espinosa. He's a reader of mysteries, and a thinker, one of those cops much like Inspector Montalbano with no family but loyal cops. As usual, I can't remember the mystery, but I liked the book.
2nds Challenge; Global Reading Challenge: Ghana
Ghana is the setting for the second Darko Dawson mystery. Still good, still modern with old customs. A colleague of mine did a student teaching session in Ghana, so we've been sharing this series. When she returned the book, she included some Ghanian proverbs, from the proverb book mentioned in the mystery.
1. Madness is supernatural but stupidity depends on you.
2. If you don't have a leg to stand on, you can't put your foot down.
3. Better alone than in ill company.
Those are pretty awesome, and so is the series. Can't wait for the next book!
also reviewed by Joy of thoughts of joy
A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore, 312 pages
Orange July (winner 1996); Gothic Reading Challenge
Another one I liked but have vague memories of. Britain, orphaned children or at the very least ignored, strange relationship between siblings, creepy castle. I wish I remembered more.
also reviewed: carrie at nomadreader; jessica at park benches and bookends; laura at musings by laura;
Posted by raidergirl3 at 5:30 PM
Saturday, January 21, 2012
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
I think the titles are far too similar!
The Septembers of Shiraz, by Dalia Sofer
It doesn't help that both books are listed together on the Orange longlist of 2008 so I always read their titles at the same time, they also both conjure images of the Middle East.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skidsrud
Both were award winning books (Giller Prize Winner for Skidrud and NY Times Notable List and Giller longlist for Rachman) and have the same type of title.
What about you? Do you confuse these pairs of books? Are there others that you confuse? It is actually really hard to come up with these, because you don't realize that they are two different books!
Posted by raidergirl3 at 8:18 PM
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The subject this week over at The Broke and the Bookish is the top ten books you'd recommend to someone who doesn't read stuff in your genre. My favorite genre would be mysteries, so here are my amazon reccommendations. As in, if you've read this book, why not try this book?
1. If you liked Eat Pray Love, try:
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
For readers who like meditative books; for readers who like travel books (it's set in Botswana)
2. If you liked Bell Canto by Ann Patchett, try:
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
For readers who like character-driven literature; fans of British books; for psychologists who study how present behaviour is dependent on past events
3. If you liked The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, try:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Millions of readers can't be wrong!; for readers who like intrigue; for readers who like to be in on the latest trends (Scandinavian crime is all the rage)
4. If you liked Bridget Jones' Diary try:
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
For readers of humor; for readers of chick-lit (Spellman keeps a diary)
5. If you liked Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, try:
Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
For sociologists and anthropologists (Detective Darko Dawson has to blend the traditions of Ghana with modern society); fans of African literature
6. If you liked Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, try:
Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters
For readers of historical books; (it's set in 1140s England);
7. If you liked Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, try:
Callender Square by Anne Perry
For readers of Victorian literature
8. If you liked Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, try:
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
readers who like to improve their vocabulary; readers who aren't afraid of an epic novel and series; fans of British peerage
9. If you liked Independent People by Haldor Laxness, try:
Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason
readers who are intrigued by modern day Iceland;
10. If you have never read any mysteries, this is the one to start with:
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Classic mystery by the master; for fans of trains
Posted by raidergirl3 at 6:04 PM
Monday, January 16, 2012
Canadian Book Challenge 5; Giller Prize Shortlist 2012; Man Booker Shortlist 2012
Really liked it. Very funny in a dark way. Eli and Charlie Sister are hitmen in the 1840s. It's a western, during the California Goldrush, must be 1849 - thanks football Forty-Niners!
Eli narrates, and is having some existential issues with being a pyschopathic killer. Charlie is not so keen on getting out of the business. Eli has a sad horse, having gotten the bad end of the deal when they picked up some horses, probably after the brothers killed the owners. Eli figures this is his last job for the Commodore, their shadowy boss.
People who make their livings double-crossing other people have a hard time doing anything other than killing everyone around them, since they fear they will be double-crossed as well. That made the brother relationship all the more powerful. Lots of violence, lots of killing - it is a western after all, not that I've read many westerns. But what I liked about the book was that the western aspect was just the parameters to examine the relationship between the brothers; it could just as easily been modern day, like Pulp Fiction. Not a bad comparison.
The trappers, meanwhile, were unhappy we had usurped their glory with the she-bear and were, I felt, preparing to exhibit rudeness. To thwart this I introduced Charlie and myself, our full names, which silenced them. Now they will hate us ever more virulently, but secretly, I thought. Charlie found these men amusing, and could not help but make a comment. ‘It seems you four are involved in a kind of contest to become totally circular, is that it?
Other than two brief intermissions that seemed like dreams (I never like dreams in books) the book was a quick enjoyable read with lots to recommend. I don't even know what made it so good, I just know when I like a book.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 11:00 PM
Friday, January 13, 2012
Orange January (1998 Longlist); 2nds Challenge (Every Last One)
The first line of the book lets you know what this book is going to be about, "The first time my husband hit me I was nineteen years old." Francie Bennedetto has finally made the decision to leave her abusive husband, and is given a new life and name by a woman's network. Francie and her son relocate to Florida, but the specter of her New York City cop husband hangs over them. You know he will track them down. And the first part of this Orange nominated novel felt very predictable. I kept feeling like I had read this before. But at some point that fell away, and I enjoyed the book more than I originally expected.
Quindlen writes her characters very well, and Francie's evolution and growth felt natural. She protects her son, makes some new friends, and comes to terms with her decision. I can't imagine what it would be like, or how awful it must be, to live in fear. Francie was willing to give up her own family and job and name in order to protect her son and try to let him live a safer life.
This was an Oprah pick in 1998, and it feels like it. Empowering woman, rising above, taking your life back. There is a woman's fiction (whatever that might be!) feel to the book. Quindlen's care for her characters and unwillingness to write the spectacular dramatic ending, keeps this book from falling into Danielle Steele territory. The ending was good, even satisfying because I couldn't tell for sure how it would go, and it made sense, and wasn't completely happy. Like life can be.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 9:33 AM
Thursday, January 12, 2012
1. What’s your favorite time of day to read?
In bed at night, or on a summer afternoon on the deck swing
2. Do you read during breakfast? (Assuming you eat breakfast.)
I have been known to read the paper or the cereal box during breakfast.
3. What’s your favorite breakfast food? (Noting that breakfast foods can be eaten any time of day.)
Eggs Benedict if I'm at a restaurant; Captain Crunch for cereal, but I love breakfast food all around. (eggs, bacon, ham, sausages, toast, bagels, french toast, etc)
4. How many hours a day would you say you read?
Depends what day it is, but half hour to one hour sounds about right.
5. Do you read more or less now than you did, say, 10 years ago?
I have read more since I started blogging.
6. Do you consider yourself a speed reader?
I read pretty fast.
7. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I tell my physics classes I would like "diffraction eyes", (the ability to see around corners, like sound diffracts around objects) but that is more about making the point about how and which waves diffract.
8. Do you carry a book with you everywhere you go?
I do indeed.
9. What KIND of book?
Whatever book I'm reading right now. Unless it's a super large book, in which case I'll look for an easy to carry paperback.
10. How old were you when you got your first library card?
I can't remember
11. What’s the oldest book you have in your collection? (Oldest physical copy? Longest in the collection? Oldest copyright?)
I've got a box of books from elementary school, plus a really old Rainbow Valley by LM Montgomery.
12. Do you read in bed?
13. Do you write in your books?
14. If you had one piece of advice to a new reader, what would it be?
Well, since a new reader should be about six years old, I'd suggest trying a Junie B Jones book.
15. What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask? (Actually, leave the answer to this one in the comments on this post, huh? So I can find them when I need inspiration!)
Posted by raidergirl3 at 8:15 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
1. Maeve Binchy - I remember reading that she was retiring, but then Minding Frankie came out. So, she has hinted at retirement, but hopefully she has a few more books in her. I've read everything already, and her books and characters are like comfort food.
2. Brian Selznick - I loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret, scooped up Wonderstruck as soon as it was released. We're waiting for another blend of prose and illustrations.
3. Bernice Morgan - One of my favorite authors, she wrote the iconic series Random Passage and Waiting for Time, and then another historical Newfoundland book, Cloud of Bone. Marvelous reads!
4. Hugh Laurie - Has anyone else read The Gun Seller? It's very funny, and involved, an espionage thriller with a dash of humor. Classic Laurie. But I think it's the only novel he's written, which is too bad.
5. Tracey Chevalier - I've really liked all her historical novels, and with only two left (Remarkable Creatures and Burning Bright), I'd like there to be a few more waiting for me.
6. Josh Brazzell (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
7. Joshua Ferris (Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed) - I've really enjoyed his first two books; they were very different in style and characters, so I'd love to see his next effort.
8. 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. I'd love to read what else Davidson could write.
9. Arnaldur Indridason (the Reyjevik mysteries) - It might not be Indridason I'm impatient about. I'm pretty sure there are a few more already written in Icelandic - it's the translator that needs to hurry up. The last we heard of Erlunder, he was off in the country, as he wasn't even in the last book, so hurry up!
10. Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand) How have we only enjoyed one of her books? Major Pettigrew was such a wonderful character, and the book was so charming, I'd love to read another one.
Bonus: Carol Shields Obviously, it would be great to have another book written by Carol. Her death in 2003 left a huge hole in literature. I wish I had read her books before this past year.
What authors would you put on your list? Head on over to The Broke and the Bookish to link up and to see what everyone else is saying!
Posted by raidergirl3 at 7:56 PM
Friday, January 6, 2012
2nds Reading Challenge
I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The first book introduced Mikael Blomvist and Lisbeth Salander, the reporter and the angry girl. The case that brought them together was sadistic and violent and pretty terrible. The original title of the first book was Men Who Hate Women, which pretty much is a good summary of the second book as well. I really liked the structure of this book as well. The first part reintroduces Lisbeth, and she becomes a fairly sympathetic character. She's anti-social, and can be very violent, but she has a strict moral code of her own, and she develops very deep attachments with a few people. Blomvist is now a more famous journalist, and is working with a couple to investigate sex crimes in Sweden. When a murder occurs, and Lisbeth appears to be the main suspect, the chase is on. The police, the journalists, and some of Lisbeth's friends all try to solve the crime, while Lisbeth is on the loose.
I could not put this down, and the reveals are spaced just far enough apart to keep the pages turning. Other than a slightly unbelievable event at the end, Lisbeth was an amazingly smart protagonist. I liked how Larsson paced the book, and I can see how the three books work as a series. I think the third book will now try to solve the whole case, drawing us more into Lisbeth and Mikael's world. Will Lisbeth let people help her? Can Mikael solve the crime? Can't wait!
Posted by raidergirl3 at 11:14 PM
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Remember all those great books you read when you were younger? Anne of Green Gables? Little House on the Prairie? Little Women? What did they all have in common - strong heroines, and strong woman authors. Erin Blakemore has gathered these ladies, plus nine more famous books, with female authors and heroines, and written a tribute - to the characters, the authors, and the trait that she identified with each. Then, each book gets a recommended 'literary sister' and an offer of when to read each book. For example, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, is in a chapter about "Compassion". Read it when you get tired of being yelled at by cable news or with your own little girl. Scout's literary sisters include Lily Owens from The Secret Life of Bees or Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time.
I liked everything about this book. I thought it would be more about the books and characters, but the biographies of the authors where often more fascinating. None of them had an easy life, what with being women authors and artists. Even women today don't have an easy time of it - think of the Jonathan Frazen debates, or the Carol Shields' novel, Unless. Having read a majority of the books, I enjoyed reading the most about the author, and the lessons learned in each book. Granted, everyone will get their own lessons from each book, but the ideas Blakemore wrote about, for example - Self (Lizzy Bennett), Dignity (Celie in The Color Purple) or Steadfastness (Jane Eyre) made a lot of sense. It makes you want to re-read all these great books, and search out the literary sisters, because the ones I'd already read seemed like perfect matches. More strong heroines by female authors.
hosted this last year, but I got the book for this Christmas, and now I have some more books I want to read because of it. Most of these are ones that I've wanted to read at some point, and then having them recc'd in this wonderful book might be the tipping point. Let's call this a long-term project.
1. Emma by Jane Austen (Lizzy's literary sister)
2. The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (Janie's (Their Eyes Were Watching God) literary sister)
3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibson (Anne's literary sister)
4. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Francie's (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) literary sister)
5. Claudine by Colette
6. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (Claudine's literary sister)
7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
8. All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Laura's literary sister)
9. Rebecca by Daphne DeMaurier (Jane Eyre's literary sister)
10.The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart (Jo's literary sister)
11. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Mary's (The Secret Garden) literary sister)
Posted by raidergirl3 at 9:10 PM
Monday, January 2, 2012
Lindsay (of Random House) posted about this new challenge to her blog:
The premise behind the challenge is that RHC will be hosting reading challenges over the year. The first challenge is to read one of the following Historical Fiction books:
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
The Salt Road by Jane Johnson
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Anything in the Outlander or Lord John series by Diana Gabaldon
The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
The Salt Road by Jane Johnson
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Anything in the Outlander or Lord John series by Diana Gabaldon
You’ll have until February 29th to read the books listed above. Once you’ve finished the book, go to the Random House Blog Challenge Post and submit the link to your review and you could win a really great prize that you can read about here!
Venice in February, which makes the Midwife of Venice look intriguing. I'm not sure what book I'll read, but there are lots of options.
I like the idea of reading just one book, but having two months to read it. I also like the list of books to pick from. What a great idea for a challenge! I can't wait to see what the next Random Reader Challenge will be.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 11:42 AM