Monday, December 31, 2007

UPDATE: December Books

At times I didn't think I'd finish 3 books this month, but some books go much faster than others. I am still loving the Lily Bard series, and since it only has two more books, I'll have to start the Sookie Stackhouse vampire mysteries to get more Harris. I usually wait until the month completely ends for an update, but everyone is writing year-end posts today, and I hate to feel left out. I really wanted to finish my 50_books challenge and other than Lord of the Rings which I had no intention of reading this year, I managed to get 13 excellent books read. At the first of the month, with both Lolita and the 600 page Owen Meany left, plus all the Christmas stuff, it didn't look good. I think I signed up for way too many challenges for next year; I can't even print them all out or I will have to be committed somewhere.

I am not liking this arbitrary year end date; I don't feel like starting a book today because I don't know where I would list it! So instead, I've taken all the ornaments off the tree, cleaned the living room a bit, and looked out the window at the 20ish cm of snow falling down. If the winds pick up like expected, it will be a zero-visibility blizzard out there. Luckily, we have no plans for ringing in the New Year. I am trying to decide what to do with all the reading challenge buttons and lists from this year. I like looking at them, but how long can this blog be? I'll be scouting around other blogs and shamelessly stealing great ideas, like I always do.

Here's to a Safe and Happy New Year to all the reading bloggers out there and anyone else who happens to stop by.

Christmas Book Challenge: 2 more read
2nds challenge: 1 and completed
50_books top 20: 2 read and completed

Best book of the month: A Prayer for Owen Meany

131. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures - Vincent Lam
130. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
129. The Christmas Thief - Mary Higgins Clark
128. Mercy - Jodi Picoult
127. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
126. Shakespeare's Christmas - Charlaine Harris
125. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
124. The Cricket and the Hearth - Charles Dickens

CHALLENGE: A - Zed Authors and Titles

The official Blog because Joy loves Mr Linky.

I shall try again!

Bolded have been read, all others are just ideas and plans. Nothing overlaps and things may change, at any time.(It's really just a way to make more lists - I'm not reading any more books)
In 2007, I missed authors U and Y and titles X.

A - Anderson, Laurie Halse - Speak
B - Ben Jelloun, Tahar - This Blinding Absence of Light

C - Cook, Thomas H - The Chatham School Affair
D - Dunning, John - Booked to Die
E - Enright, Anne - The Gathering
F - Fforde, Jasper - The Eyre Affair

G - Gleason, Colleen - The Bleeding Dusk
H - Hale, Shannon - Princess Academy
I - Ishiguro, Kazou - The Remains of the Day
J - Jennings, Ken - Brainiac
K - Kinsella, Sophie - Remember Me?

L - Landvik, Lorna - Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons
M - Mitchell, David - Black Swan Green

N - Nafisi, Azar - Reading Lolita in Tehran
O - O'Dell, Scott - Island of the Blue Dolphins
P - Phillips, Marie - Gods Behaving Badly

Q - Quarrington, Paul - The Ravine
R - Ross, Ann B - Miss Julia Takes Over
S - Sansom, Ian - The Case of the Missing Books
T - Toltz, Steve - A Fraction of the Whole

U - Updale, Eleanor - Montmorency: thief, liar, gentleman?
V - Vargas Llosa, Mario - Who Killed Palomino Molero?

W - Waters, Sarah - The Night Watch
X - Xiong, Blia - Nine-In-One Grr! Grr! (children's book)
Y -
Yang, Gene Luen - American Born Chinese
Z -
Zusak, Markus - The Book Thief

A - Atonement - Ian McEwan
B - Beauty - Robin McKinley
C - The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier
D - Drive Like Hell - Dallas Hudgens
E - Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland

F - From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - EL Konisburg
G - The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
H - House of Meeting - Martin Amis
I - The Interloper - Antoine Wilson
J - The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler
K - The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith

L - Latitudes of Melt - Joan Clark
M - Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
N - Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - Alan Alda
O - The Outcast - Sadie Jones
P - Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
Q - The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space
R - Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
S - Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris

T - Terra Cotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri
U - The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
V - Vegan, Virgin, Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
W - Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
X - The Xibalba Murders - Lyn Hamilton
Y - Yellowknife - Steve Zipp
Z - Zel - Donna Jo Napoli

BOOK: Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
Giller Prize Winner 2006
Ontario book for the Canadian Book Challenge
Not so much a novel as a collection of stories, connected by four medical students / interns in Toronto. The stories are connected enough not to be stand alones, and reminded me of an ER episode, with different doctors and different medical emergencies. I read this fairly quickly and enjoyed the progression of the main characters. Lam is an emergency room doctor and it was interesting to read the stories from that perspective. I didn't recognize this as prize winning novel caliber, but it was enjoyable enough.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

BOOK: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

50_books top 20 list self challenge Completed

I may have been hasty is creating my top ten reads of the year on December 15th. Who would have thought I would have a contender in the last sixteen two days of the year? The readers of the 50_book challenge at livejournal I guess, as they voted A Prayer for Owen Meany as the 15th best book of all time. One of my goals this year was to read all the twenty books (except Lord of the Rings). I had read six before this year, and thought it would be a long term goal to read the list, but as the year progressed, the remaining 13 seemed attainable.

Here's the list:
1. Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling 197
2. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen 133 read in 2006
3. Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien 125
4. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 95 read in 1990s
5. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 77 read in 2006
6. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte 76
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky 64
8. Lolita - Vladimir Nabakov 58
9. 1984 - George Orwell 52 read in 1990s
10. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde 50
11. Wuthering Heights - Emile Bronte 47 read in grade 12
12. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card 46
13. His Dark Materials Trilogy - Philip Pullman 45
14. Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett 42
15. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving 41
16. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald 41 read in 2006
17. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult 38
19. American Gods - Neil Gaiman 36
20. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery 34

Back to Owen Meany:
I was worried I left this 600 page book too late in the year to finish, but I forgot that really good books are quick to read because they are really good books. The story is told by John Wheelwright about his best friend Owen Meany, both growing up in New Hampshire in the 1950s and '60s. Owen in small for his age and his voice is unique - everything he says in in CAPITAL LETTERS, almost as if he is screaming. People are quickly protective of Owen and also drawn to his strong and unique personality. John narrates from the present, a teacher in Canada, as he remembers Owen and his life.

The book is about faith and religion, but also some interesting commentary about American politics and the Vietnam war. Although this book was written in 1989, I found the criticisms about Reagan and the Iran-contra hearings and Gary Hart's little scandal, could have been applied today to Bush and the Iraq war and Clinton. Irving makes some almost prophetic statements about Americans and politics. Or maybe just the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The concepts of fate and faith were beautifully done, and Owen Meany was a wonderful character. At times I laughed out loud - the removal of a VW car, and others I cried - I read the last twenty pages with my hand over my mouth. Irving has written an amazing book with wonderful messages and a truly unique character in Owen Meany. The way he tied up the whole book at the end was masterful. I'm not taking any books off my top ten list, but I think this one goes on. I won't have the time to reflect and think on Owen Meany before the end of the year, but this was pretty amazing. I was looking around, but it appears not to have won any awards. How can that be?

Friday, December 28, 2007

CHALLENGES: 2007 Update

I want to make a list of all the challenges I completed this year. How lucky that I started doing challenges in January of 2007, it feels more complete that way. These challenges are what got me into blogging, so my blog started sometime after the first challenge. Both the challenge and wrap ups have links to reviews of any books.

1. Winter Classics
2. chunkster challenge wrap up posted here
3. banned book challenge
4. spring reading challenge wrap up posted here
5. once upon a time challenge wrap up posted here
6. summer reading challenge round 2 wrap up posted here
7. southern reading challenge wrap up posted here
8. summer mystery reading challenge wrap up posted here
9. non-fiction five wrap up posted here
10. classic challenge (summer) wrap up posted here
11. dystopian challenge wrap up posted here
12. RIP II Sept - Oct 31 2007 wrap up posted here
13. 15 books / 15 decades challenge all year 2007
14. books to movies challenge wrap up posted here
15. something about me challenge wrap up posted here
16. Christmas Book Challenge wrap up posted here
17. 2nds Challenge wrap up posted here
18. NYT notable books 2006 challenge wrap up posted here
19. 50_books top 20

20. A - Z Author and Book challenge: DNF, stupid U and Y authors and X books!

Favorite Books in a Challenge: I liked reading the RIP II challenge books best; they are my favorite genre, and Carl hosts a hell of a challenge, lots of prizes and mini challenges within the big one challenge. Two books here made my top ten reads of the year.

Biggest Challenge: the Chunkster is always going to be the hardest, because the books are the biggest.

Best Discovery Challenge: the Dystopian genre was one I didn't even know existed, and then I discovered some simply wonderful books. I kept adding boks to my list, and read more than I expected. I wouldn now say I like dystopian books.

Best Challenge: the Something About Me was the best TBR generator I've ever seen, with so many wonderful participants that I got to know, because of the books they chose. It was a genius idea and executed wonderfully as well.

UPDATE: Christmas Challenge Completed

Great challenge and I really enjoyed reading these books. I had a few very short stories, but they fit the season, so I included them. I will do this every year - read a few Chritstmas stories leading into December.

Here's the final tally:

Irish Stories for Christmas by John B Keane
The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (short story)
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote (short story)
Christmas Tree by David Adam Richards (two short stories)

And it had very little to do with Christmas, but I was perfectly at the point in the series in December to read Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?

List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

I did a top ten list already, but I'll reprint it here again, and ... I'm reading a really good book in the last week of 2007, so I may have been a little quick in picking my top ten - Owen Meany?

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling This was the best book, especially if you look at how long it took me to read - not very long at all, and was such a great end to the series. It wasn't just this book, it was all seven in the series, and the ten years it took to read them all. I knew it about Snape!
  2. The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory Best page turner and historical fiction, made me interested in The Tudors, which I watched on CBC. Excellent entertainment, and I've added The Boleyn Inheritance to my tbr for next year.
  3. the perks of being a wallflower - Stephen Chbosky Best tearjerker and heartwarming novel, Charlie's voice was wonderful.
  4. I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak Best message of faith and believing in yourself
  5. Cloud of Bone - Bernice Morgan Best Canadian historical fiction, from an author who hasn't written enough yet.
  6. The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie Best action adventure, rip roaring yarn, with comedy
  7. Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro Best dystopian novel, beautifully written and paced
  8. The Bone People - Keri Hulme Best award winner, I was completely swept into this dysfunctional threesome of terrible people, written in a style I've never read before, both beautifully lyrical and poetic
  9. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman Best fantasy. I read a few Gaiman books, but this was my favorite. Underground London and the parallel universe he created were fabulous.
  10. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Copeland Best Coupland book, as he is going to make my favorite author list after this year. I read a few of his and this was my favorite of the bunch. I like how all his books are so different, and I have few left to read next year. Yay!

There were a bunch more too:

best nonfiction: Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk

best children's book: The Giver by Lois Lowry

best chick lit: something blue

best books in any other year: My Sister's Keeper, Half a Yellow Sun

Sorry for the reprint if you've read this before.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

CHALLENGE: New York Times Notable Books 2006

New York Times Notable Book 2006 Challenge

It is time to close the books on this challenge - I can't see me reading any more of them this year, although I still have two on the shelves: Lisey's Story and Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It is time to face facts: they aren't getting read this year.

I originally signed up at the NYT Notable Book Blog and my intro post stated I hoped to read six. I only joined this challenge half way through the year, in June, so I took a little easier way. I ended up reading 7 books, with two more yelling at me from beside my bed: read me.

Half of a Yellow Sun - Aldichie
The Echo Maker - Richard Powers
The Translator - Leila Aboulela
Arthur and George - Julien Barnes
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Alentejo Blue - Monica Ali
One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson

Wow, when I look at that list, there were some great books listed.

This challenge has morphed into the Notable Books Challenge, encompassing several notable book list from this past year 2007. Here's where I've signed up for another year of recommended books, with wendy (caribousmom), our host. Come by and join the group at the blog; it is more fun to read with others.

CHALLENGE: 2nds Challenge Completed

2nds Challenge Completed

This one didn't go quite the way I expected, but I read at least three authors for the second time during the time frame October to December 2007. Not the books I planned, but they were authors who called out to me, again:

I read one I planned, two that were alternates, and two I hadn't read the author for the first time when I made up my original list back in June. I feel like I am back dating this list, but, Joy is understanding about changing lists when the books call to you.

So, thanks for the second helpings Joy. I have a big list of authors that I still want to read for the second time. Thanks Joy, it was a great idea. I'm still challenging with Joy next year for the Young Adult Book challenge, and she has another couple on the go as well.

CHALLENGE: In the Pub 2008

In the Pub 2008 hosted by 3M at the Pub

I think Michelle was inspired by this Booking Through Thursday question, about what was the best book published in 2007 that you read. And she was like me, and saw a woefully small list of books published in '07, so she decided to remedy it. And her remedy? Create a challenge to read at least 8 books published this year.
But the best part is the Pub she created, hence no young adult or children's books allowed. So, since I really want to go the The Pub, I'll sign up for this challenge. Even if I don't complete it, I'll have few drinks and get some great book suggestions for the next year.

So far, the only 2008 books I know I'd like to read are:
1. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
3. The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason
4. The Ravine by Paul Quarrington
5. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
6. The Outcast by Sadie Jones
7. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
8. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Obviously, most books will be selected as the year progresses and they are actually published.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

BOOK: The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark

The Christmas Thief by Mary and Carol Higgins Clark
the Christmas book challenge
Perfect book to read the day before Christmas. Nothing heavy, very easy read. I can't even remember the characters names now - this story is all about the plot. A con artist is released from prison; the Rockefeller tree is being cut down; the van Trapp family farm; a duped investor; a few private eyes; a rival neighbour; bumbling twin accomplices; and a broke poet. The plot twists and turns, but they are wide turns and easy to see. I'll look for the next book, The Christmas Cruise, next year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

BOOK: Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Mercy by Jodi Picoult
2nds Challenge
This book is suffering from second book syndrome. I read My Sister's Keeper first, which is the book by Picoult most often mentioned as her best book. Mercy was good, and a great read, but not as good as My Sister's Keeper, and then there were a few issues that niggled at me while I was reading it.

The Story: (from library journal - I find it hard to summarize plots succinctly)

Cameron MacDonald is both the chief of police in the Massachusetts village of Wheelock and the reluctant figurehead chieftain of the MacDonald clan, which immigrated there in the late 1700s. Thus it is to Cam that his cousin Jamie turns after he accedes to his suffering wife's wish and helps her to die. Cam, who longs to travel and free himself from his family obligation, arrests Jamie for first-degree murder but then hires a lawyer for him. On that same day, exotic young Mia wanders into the village and is hired by Cam's wife, Allie, to help out in her florist shop. Cam and Allie have reached a comfortable plateau in their marriage, but both sense that something is missing. Mia and Cam are irresistibly drawn to each other, she to his established place in local society and he to her itinerant lifestyle. The story explores love and the intricate balance of give and take that marriage demands.

The Good: Picoult writes her characters well, and keeps an objective viewpoint at the same time, so that every character has good and bad qualities, and it makes it hard to sympathize with any one character. I find myself undecided on the issues she raises - this book covers infidelity, grief, love, and euthanasia. I wasn't sure how things would turn out, and I wanted to find out where the story went. Lots of interesting characters and a compelling story and I liked the ending.

The Problems: I didn't think it would be realistic in the 1990s that immigrants from 200 years before would still have a clan chief who was continually referred to as such and that he would be responsible for the his clan. I thought it strained credulity that when Jamie came to town, Cam's family took him in and defended him when they didn't even know him, just that he was related. Picoult included a strand of magical events that I didn't mind, but I often find it hard to have these elements appear within a mostly realistic story. But the Gaelic culture includes ghosts and signs, so that wasn't a big deal.

Overall: good book, well written, not as good as My Sister's Keeper but I'll keep reading Picoult.

also reviewed by guatami tripathy

Thursday, December 20, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
3. And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?

1. I am not usually on the cutting edge of literature; as someone else mentioned - I am too cheap to buy new books. But this year I managed to get a few new releases. I'm not exactly clear how to tell when a book was first published - I just sorted my librarything account by year, but some that came up 2007 I think were published earlier. Regardless, I have few that will fit this category. (I'm shocked I have read enough new releases to be able to pick a few.)

Best fiction of 2007: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling and Cloud of Bone by Bernice Morgan.
special mention: The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland, the Gardella Vampire Chronicles

2. Best Nonfiction of 2007: Other Colours by Orhan Pamuk. OK, it was probably the only new release nonfiction I read, but it was good. I read a few from 2006 that were very good that felt like new books. 2006 wasn't that long ago.
special mention: Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper

3. I like to be abreast of new books, but the 'best of' lists put you a year behind. Since I've been reviewing books from a publisher, I am more current, getting new releases. I like to read the latest books, but I am not exclusive to the best of lists. They can be hit or miss.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LIST: Worst Reads of the Year

I should have posted this before my best reads, but I guess had already put this collection out of my head. I can generally find something to like in most books, and I don't think I'm very critical or fussy about the books I read, but some just don't do it for me.

There weren't too many books I'd put on a worst read list, but a few stand out:

On the Road - Jack Kerouac : only book this year to DNF
Pedro Paramo - Juan Rulfo : magical realism is not for me
Elizabeth Costello - JM Coetzee: ugh, but I'll try Coetzee again, but just one more chance, bub

Not on the same level of bad, but not great reads, just too boring, include:

The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides: not on the same level for me as Middlesex
On the Water - JM van de Brink: nothing offensive, just too quiet
Generation X - Douglas Coupland: I still love him, just not this one. (read pre-reviewing)
The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde: too long and boring

On the Road was read and reviewed before I started blogging here. I'm reposting my review I wrote because I can't really link to it:

It is very seldom I don't finish a book, but there are too many good books I want to read to continue with this one. I think I get it. Not much happens but a bunch of beatniks [slackers] put off finding real work and travel the roads, living on nothing, scamming food, breaking rules, scoring drugs, living for the moment. The writing style is very conversational, with tangents within sentences, but he sounds like he's on cocaine and trying to cover everything, and is so full of what he wants to say, he can't take a breath. If there were, say, a plot to follow; some sense of where this story is going, I might continue. But I even, gasp, looked at the last chapter to see if anything else might happen, but it is just more Dean updates, and nothing seems to have happen. It is like one long Christmas letter following these loosely associated friends that are driving me nuts with their self serving, avoiding life, philosophy.

I know, this bookwas a huge change in expectations that people had for their lives, that there were other options of life, new ideas being proposed and the beatniks were a novel lifestyle. But I am always annoyed by people who realize after much soul searching what they should be doing. It's not that they realize it, that's great for them, it's the need they have to tell others about their discovery. Like drug addicts who then protylize that drugs are bad and they ruined their life and don't let it ruin yours. Some of us already knew that; you got to live the fun life and now repent. You knew that drugs were bad and you tried it out; why will you change others minds?
I think the Bohemian life is just too slacker for me. I gave the book a try, almost halfway through, and it felt like an obligation to keep reading, like taking medicine: it's good for me, keep taking it. Well, there are too many other books to try and this one wasn't going anywhere else. I'll try Generation X by Douglas Coupland instead. At least I'll get the cultural references. It's not a classic for this challenge, but I'll find another.

Monday, December 17, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

After seeing this story listed at Nymeth's blog as one of her favourite short stories, I decided to check it out. I've only read one Capote book, the nonfiction In Cold Blood, and the writing here was just as good.

This little story tells one memory of a poor young Southern boy and his friend, an older, simple woman, and the rituals they go through before Christmas, including cake making. There is not so much a plot, as a relationship. The boy, called Buddy, has wonderful memories of his time with his friend. Capote has a way with words, and the reader is transported back in time as the friends gather their ingredients for a fruit cake. I have only recently begun liking fruitcake, and it sounded so yummy.

The flavour of the south, and the flavour of the fruitcake, and the special friendship made this a lovely story.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

BOOK: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

I was looking in the Q section for an author that started with Q for the A to Z challenge and happened upon this book. It's a new age thought book, somewhat reminding me of the Celestine Prophesy a book I read years ago.

A man, the narrator, answers an ad about a teacher looking for a pupil. The teacher turns out to be a gorilla named Ishmael, who can communicate through telepathy. It sounds weird, but it's just the set up, and all happens quickly. Ishmael proceeds to lead a discussion, drawing out from his pupil the problem with the world today. He dates it back to the time of the agricultural revolution, when mankind changed from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled, civilized as it were.

This book has inspired two more volumes and a few websites. I would say there is a movement of sorts for people who were moved to try and save the planet after reading these books.

I'm not sure what I thought of this book. At times, the arguments made sense, and I could see what Ishmael was saying; at other times though, it just felt like new age nonsense. There was a lot of anthropological, and sociological discussions. I think I would have really enjoyed this twenty years ago when I was in university, looking for myself and discovering all the different trains of thought and ways of looking at the world and society. Now I just think it was interesting to read; I took the car for a test drive, but I'm not paying for the car. I'm okay with what I have. I can see what might appeal to people who want to change the world, but I'm having enough of a hard time changing my sheets and towels, I'm not ready to take on the world.


I won a book at 3M's site. Merry Christmas to me! I won Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani. I don't know much about it, but Michelle has great taste, so I trust her recommendation. She has been cleaning and wants to give away 12 books before Christmas. The first six have been claimed, but she has 6 more to give out. Go check it out. some of them look really good. thanks Michelle.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

LIST: Best Reads of the Year 2007

Did I get this done too early? Is there one more book left to blow me away? Probably not, because these were la creme de la creme, of an amazing reading year. I have no reasoning to explain how I picked these books, and next week I could pick differently. But I read all of these quickly; generally late into the night; I want to recommend all of these to people; and maybe they surprised me by sneaking up on me and being so darn entertaining.

I read so many books this year that making a top ten list of books is very difficult. I read over 130 books, so I have to pick the top 10%, and I feel the quality of my reading improved immensely this year, making this task all the harder. I looked at my librarything account and only the highest rated books, and then had to whittle that list down to ten.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling This was the best book, especially if you look at how long it took me to read - not very long at all, and was such a great end to the series. It wasn't just this book, it was all seven in the series, and the ten years it took to read them all. I knew it about Snape!

  2. The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory Best page turner and historical fiction, made me interested in The Tudors, which I watched on CBC. Excellent entertainment, and I've added The Boleyn Inheritance to my tbr for next year.

  3. the perks of being a wallflower - Stephen Chbosky Best tearjerker and heartwarming novel, Charlie's voice was wonderful.

  4. I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak Best message of faith and believing in yourself

  5. Cloud of Bone - Bernice Morgan Best Canadian historical fiction, from an author who hasn't written enough yet.

  6. The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie Best action adventure, rip roaring yarn, with comedy

  7. Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro Best dystopian novel, beautifully written and paced

  8. The Bone People - Keri Hulme Best award winner, I was completely swept into this dysfunctional threesome of terrible people, written in a style I've never read before, both beautifully lyrical and poetic

  9. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman Best fantasy. I read a few Gaiman books, but this was my favorite. Underground London and the parallel universe he created were fabulous.

  10. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Copeland Best Coupland book, as he is going to make my favorite author list after this year. I read a few of his and this was my favorite of the bunch. I like how all his books are so different, and I have few left to read next year. Yay!

Books that were still really really good, but didn't make top ten:

Best Children's Books I Can't Believe I Didn't Read Before:

A Wrinkle in Time
Bridge to Terabithia
The Giver
A Child's Christmas in Wales

Books I Read Quickly Because They Were So Good:

Half a Yellow Sun
My Sister's Keeper
Something Blue
Good Omens

Really Good Books That I Can't Find a Common Theme to Describe:

Arthur and George
Ordinary People
The Big Sleep
Veronika Decides to Die
The Lost Salt Gift of Blood
Istanbul: Memories and the City

Friday, December 14, 2007

CHALLENGE: Series challenge

Kathrin is hosting a series challenge that I have no business looking at. Except. I started a few new series this year, and they never seem to fit any particular challenge, and I really want to read them. For example, even with a list of books I want to finish this month that is longer than I will ever be able to do, instead of picking up one of them, I got Shakespeare's Christmas from the library because I love Lily Bard and her grumpy dysfunctional life and I want to read about. Especially after Lolita. That is what this challenge is about: finishing series you've started, and Kathrin says there are no particular amount of books to chose, just read for 6 months and finish the series you want to. This runs from December1, 2007 til May 31, 2008.

I have no idea how many I can read, here's my list of series I still want to finish:

Charlaine Harris' Lily Bard series FINISHED
  • Shakespeare's Christmas - done Dec
  • Shakespeare's Trollop - done Jan
  • Shakespeare's Counselor - done Feb 9

Miss Julia by Ann B Ross

  • Miss Julia Takes Over done Mar 28
  • Miss Julia Throws a Wedding
  • Miss Julia Hits the Road
  • Miss Julia Meets Her Match
  • Miss Julia's School of Beauty
  • Miss Julia Stands Her Ground

the Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Colleen Gleason, book 3 The Bleeding Dusk FINISHED Mar 21

Scott Westerfield's dystopian Pretties, Specials, that follow Uglies

Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella Mar 12 FINISHED

Andrea Camilleri's Detective Montalbano's mysteries:

  • Terra Cotta Dog done March 10
  • The Snack Thief
  • The Smell of the Night
Megan McCaffery's teen series:

  • Charmed Thirds
  • Fourth Comings

Stephanie Plum: I've only read One for the Money, I might try some more

Alexander McCall Smith

  • No 1 Ladies Deterctive series, books 4 - 9
  • - #4. The Kalahari Typing School for Men done May 24/08
  • Sunday Philosophy Club series

Crap. I didn't realize I had so many ongoing series. I reserve the right to change this, or bail at will.

Following the excellent lead of booklogged and alisonwonderland, I made a blog of series that I've started and could possibly finish, over here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

LIST: Nonfiction Books of 2007

Inspired by 3m, I'm going to make some more summary lists of my 2007 reading. (I have made a list of lists to make, mwah ha ha). It turns out I read 14 nonfiction books this year, which is more than ten percent, and I wouldn't have thought I read that many. I must thank Joy for hosting the Nonfiction challenge from May to September, which inspired me to look for nonfiction books.

Longitude - Dava Sobel
Dispatches from the Edge - Anderson Cooper
Istanbul - Orhan Pamuk
Night - Elie Wiesel
A Man Without a Country - Kurt Vonnegut
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell
So Many Books, So Little Time - Sara Nelson
The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson
Zlata's Diary - Zlata Filipovic
Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel
Other Colors - Orhan Pamuk
Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman - Richard P Feynman
Hockey Dreams - David Adams Richards

I can't decide which was the best book. I can manage a top 3:

In Cold Blood Capote's masterpiece of murder in the midwest
Devil in the White City Larson ties up a serial killer and the Chicago World Fair
Istanbul Pamuk's memoir of a city and his life

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Do you use any of the online book-cataloguing sites, like Library Thing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or . . . do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to?? (grin))
If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything?

I use librarything, and I'm raidergirl3 there as well. I use it to catalogue the books I've read, and some of the books I want to read. I read a lot from the library, and this is a way to keep a record of those books as well. I am having fun there, and the forums are interesting and very specific at times - you can find someone who wants to talk about whatever you want about books if you look around enough. I didn't realize it had such an interactive component to it.

I bought my first online membership there, and it felt rather scandalous to pay to find pictures of the books I've read and to tag and catalogue what I've read. But for now, I am having fun, so why not?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BOOK: Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris
series challenge
The bad news about this book is that it really had nothing to do with Christmas; the good news is that it was an excellent little mystery.
Lily has travelled to her hometown for the wedding of her sister just before Christmas. It's a big sacrifice, because she'll be back with her parents and all the people who knew her before and just after the brutal attack that changed her life. Plus, she's the maid of honor and there are showers and parties, and Lily will have to get dressed up, with makeup?
Soon after she arrives, the town doctor and nurse are bludgeoned to death, and then Lily's boyfriend, private investigator Jack shows up, investigating an eight year old kidnapping.
Another excellent edition of the Lily Bard mystery series. The mystery itself was tight, and interesting, and Lily's cleaning actually came in handy for her snooping. I like seeing Lily's evolution as she is beginning to come back to the land of the living and caring people. Her love interest and now her family, and showing a new side to her as she grows back into a person.
This is a series and author I hope to read more of. Harris has several other series as well, a vampire series and another southern mystery.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CHALLENGE: Something About Me Completed

Wow, what a challenge! It seems like it went on all year, and in a way it did, and yet I'm not even letting go completely, as I'm using many, many books on this list as my TBR for next year.

Recap: Way back in April, Lisa at Breaking the Fourth Wall conceived the idea of a challenge, whereby participants would nominate 5 books to represent themselves, giving the reasons why. Then in order to get to know each other better, we would make our own reading list and read other people's books.

My list of books representing me included:
1. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson NF
2. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth NF
3. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman F
4. Evening Class by Maeve Binchy F
5. LM Montgomery: Anne of Windy Poplars F (or any other LM Montgomery book you want)
You can find my reasons why for each selection here.

Luckily Lisa didn't begin the reading part until August, which in April seemed so far off, and then, as more and more people signed up, and the great books got added, August seemed like the right idea. So many wonderful people (59, if I counted right, including Nattie, who sadly passed away after joining) and books joined in at the blog.

I got so excited by some of the books, I started reading some even before the challenge officially started:

A Man Without a Country (kookiejar) - see review
So Many Books, So Little Time (sally,,vasilly,) - see review
The Echo Maker (3M) - see review
Uglies (faith) - dystopian challenge see review

Then August finally arrived and I started on this challenge with a vengeance, because I couldn't wait. Now, as December is coming to an end, I have the books finished I said I would, plus a few extra. My final list looks like this:
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (Kathrin)
I Am the Messenger - Markus Zasuk (jill mrsteme)
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (Becky, karlene)
Inkheart - Cornelia Funkle (becky shereads)
Number the Stars - Lois Lowry (booklogged)
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver (dewey)
The Thirteenth Tale - Dianne Setterfield (kristin)
Tale of Despereaux - Kate diCamillo (booklogged)
Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov (heather)

One of these books even made my top ten reads of the year. Do you remember which one I raved about the most?
I still have many I want to read, and picked More Something About Me as a category for the 888 challenge, including some of the following I still really want to read:
Booked to Die - John Dunning (bonnie) [Themed Reading Challenge]
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde (heidijane, valentina)
The Awakening - Kate Chopin (patti)
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova (maryanne)
Twilight - Stephanie Myers (suey) [Young Adult Challenge]
Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons - Lorna Landvic (tiny librarian)
The Remains of the Day - Ishiguro (lucca) [Booker Challenge]
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd (ennavic, Karlene) [What's in a Name?]
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (trish)84 Charing Cross Road - Helen Hanff (Historia) [Themed Reading Challenge]
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson (heatherbird) [Young Adult Challenge]

This was the challenge I had the most fun participating in, because I felt like I got to know some other bloggers much better than could be expected. Getting to hear the reasons why people chose their books was as much fun as picking my books. The books I read will be forever associated with the bloggers who nominated them. All in all, a wonderful time. Thank you to Lisa who organized it all, and to the many readers I've met along the way.
Whew, what a challenge.

Monday, December 10, 2007

BOOK: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

read for Something About Me Challenge and my own 50_books top twenty challenge

While I recognize that this is an important book and very popular, it didn't do it enough for me. It took me two weeks, at least and I never had a point where I couldn't put it down. That is for me what makes a book terrific: I can't stop reading it, I have to know more, read more. And this wasn't it.

Maybe it's too important for me. I had the annotated edition, and that doubled the size of the book. I would recommend this edition, but I went in stages, of checking the notes, and then ignoring the plethora of information at the back. No doubt, Nabokov is a genius, and the book is layer upon layer of alllusions and riddles, with interesting debates about ethics and morals and insanity that could last forever.

We've all heard the phrase Lolita to describe a wanton female, but this book is all about Humbert Humbert, the narrator and Lolita's lover/abuser. Our knowledge of pedophelia has changed over time, and this book would certainly be received differently now. I think what scared me about HH is that he appears to function in society, talking to people, and yet is quite crazy in his head, and can rationalize his obsession with nymphets, or 12 year old girls. And without the notes, I don't know if I would have understood the basic plot. Parts were interesting, but as the second half builds to the climax, I missed a lot without my periodic update.

It wasn't graphic per se, no big love scenes described, but obviously it was still disturbing. Part of the problem is that HH tells you that his memory of events is not perfect, so the story is hard to decipher, wondering what really happened. We only know about Lolita from what HH tells us.

As with most classics I've read this year, I am glad I read it, but I certainly didn't love it. At least now I feel ready to read Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

BLOGGING: Advent Blog Tour Welcome

I am taking a different approach to my stop on the tour. I have included a cookie recipe below, but I love trivia and quizzes, so my present for you is a riddle:

What Christmas carol is this?

1. Move hither wards, the entire assembly of those who are steadfast O Come All Ye Faithful
2. Ecstasy towards the terrestrial sphere Joy to the World

3. Hush, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds. Hark the Herald Angel Sings
4. Creator, cool it, you kooky cats God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

5. O tatterdemalion ebony atmosphere O Holy Night

6. The thing manifested itself at the onset of a transparent day It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

7. Embellish the interior passageways Deck the Halls

8. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted metallic resonant cups. Silver Bells

9. Hey, minuscule urban area south of Jerusalem O Little Town of Bethlehem

10. Nocturnal time span of unbroken quietness Silent Night

11. This autocratic troika originates neat the ascent of Apollo We Three Kings of Orient Are

12. The primary carol The First Noel

13. Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as in a hallucinating phenomenon for me I'm Dreaming of White Christmas

14. Valentino, the roseate proboscis wapiti Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

15. Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionistic cylinders Little Drummer Boy

16. O nativity conifer O Christmas Tree

17. What offspring abides thus? What Child is This?

18. Removed in a bovine feeding trough Away in a Manger

19. Proceed to declare something upon a specific geographic Alpine formation Go Tell it on the Mountain
20. Thoracic- Squirrel Diet Barbecue Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

21. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals Frosty the Snowman

And if your vocabulary is great, or even if it's not, check out, to improve your vocabulary and donate rice to people who need it. It is weirdly addictive, and good for you and others. The rice is distributed by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).

PS: If you highlight the space after the carol, you will find the answer, but don't peek until you know it. How many did you get right?

Christmas Cookies Too

I love to bake, and making cookies at Christmas is an important tradition to me. It's the only time I take the extra care, and add a trimming or decoration or take the time to posh them up. If I am feeling short on time, I make these shortbreads since they don't have to be rolled and cut. It's important to mix them as long as it says if you want them to melt in your mouth.

These cookies remind me of my maternal grandmother. We liked to bake together, and at one point, her son (my uncle) dated one of the authors of the cookbook. My grandmother always had many copies of these cookbooks around, and she baked from them a lot. So do I now, and it reminds me of those times.

Whipped Shortbreads from The Best of Bridge cookbooks

1 cup butter (do not use margarine)
1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 1/2 cups flour

Instructions: Cream butter and sugar. Add flour and beat for 10 minutes. Drop from small spoon onto cookie sheet. Decorate with maraschino cherry pieces if you wish or sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake at 350 F. for about 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies. This recipe doubles well.

Thanks for stopping by, and I wish you a Merry Christmas. I've been enjoying this Advent Tour and I'd like to thank Marg and Kaliana for organizing us. It's nice to share traditions and recipes and get to know this little community a bit better.

Here's the guide to the rest of the tour, and don't forget Chris (Stuff as Dreams are Made on), who is also hosting today.
10 December - Dewey (The Hidden Side of a Leaf)
11 December -Suey (It's All About Books)
12 December - Chris (Book-a-rama)
13 December - Jill (The Well-Read Child)/Stephanie (The Written Word)
14 December - Robin (A Fondness for Reading)
15 December - Alyssa (By The Book)
16 December - Rachel (A Fair Substitute for Heaven)
17 December - Literary Feline (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)/ Stephanie (Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
18 December - Dev (Good Reads)
19 December - Callista (S.M.S. Book Reviews)
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian (Tiny Little Librarian)
21 December - Carla (Carla Nayland Historical Fiction)/ Susan (Reading, Raving, and Ranting by a Historical Fiction Writer)
22 December - Carolyn Jean (The Trillionth Page)
23 December - Booklogged (A Reader's Journal)
24 December - Kailana (The Written World) / Carl V. (Stainless Steel Droppings)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

MEME: Christmas Contest

I found this meme at Chris of book-a-rama fame. They want lots of participation, so complete the meme and link back to them following the link below. You could win something!

Book Binge Christmas Contest

The Christmas Season is upon us and we have one burning question: Have you been naughty or nice this year? Regardless of your answer, we are inviting our lovely readers a chance to win an eBookwise eReader! All you have to do is answer a few simple (okay, 10) questions on your blog/journal and leave the link to your Meme in this post. If you don't have a blog or journal, you can email us your answers. The winner will be chosen on January 5th, so you can enter up until 11:59pm on January 4th.

Merry Christmas!
XOXOCasee, Holly, Isabel & Rowena

Christmas Meme:

1. What is your favorite Christmas romance to re-read each year? Bridget Jones' Diary. It begins and ends at Christams time in the book, with Mark Darcy wearing the horrible reindeer jumper.

2. What is your favorite Christmas movie/show? It used to be A Christmas Story, but I have to replace it with Love, Actually now. Touching and funny and wonderful, with Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.

3. What is your favorite Christmas cookie? Frying Pan Cookies. Even more important, is my favorite Christmas candy: Peanut Butter Balls.

4. When do you start Christmas shopping? I'm an early starter, in October, but I never finish early. I'm still out the week before trying to finish up.

5. Do you re-gift? It may have happened before. But not to you.

6. What is your favorite Christmas song? Do They Know It's Christmas? by BandAid. What can I say? I'm a child of the 80s.

7. When do you get your Christmas tree? Just the week before, as it is a real tree.

8. Wrapping presents: Love it or hate it? I love buying all the pretty paper and bows, but the actual work is usually last minute and rushed, so, no fun.

9. Who is the hardest person to buy for? My husband. He never wants much, and if he wanted anything, he would just buy it for himself anyway. All he really wants is to golf more, and that is hard to wrap up under the tree.

10. Christmas tree: Real or artificial? It's always been real, but I am not opposed to artificial at all.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

BOOK: The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

Christmas Book Challenge, book #2

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre?
fiction, genre would be classic novel, and Christmas!

What led you to pick up this book?
I saw booklogged and 3M chose it for the Christmas Book Challenge and I know they pick great books. Also, a person should read Dickens at Chrismas, right?

Summarize the plot, but don't give away the ending!
John, the Carrier, brings home a stranger to his little cottage, of wife, Dot and Baby. The grumpy owner of a toy factory is planning to marry a pretty young thing.

What did you like most about the book?
Dickens is remarkably readable, and humorous. There was a lot of emotions, and interesting characters, including the secondary ones, and there was some supernatural/fairies and recognizing the values of home. (and it wasn't too long)

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books?
I read a short story by Dickens, and I really don't know if I've ever read A Christmas Carol, because it is so ubiquitous, but that story is also in my collection from the library, so I might get around to it as well. Dickens wrote some huge-ass books that scare me in their volume.

What did you think of the main character?
I liked John the Carrier. I guess he's the main character. He was an older man who married a young girl and he adored her. He may not have been educated, but he was a solid, good man who appreciated what he had in life, and faced everything with a very good nature.

Any other particularly interesting characters?
Tons. Dickens had the best imagination for names: Tilly Slowpoke, the nanny; Baby; the Cricket; Gruff and Tackleton, the toy owner; and the narrator! Who was that guy?

Share a quote from the book:
I never remember to write those down.

Share a favorite scene from the book.
The scene with John and Gruff and Tackleton after John had his eventful night with the Cricket. John makes all the right decisions, for all the right reasons, and it is why this book is so heartwarming and famous.

What about the ending?
Excellent. It's a Christmas book, and famous for being heartwarming, so it's all about the ending. Dicknes comes through, for sure.

Anything else?
Don't read wikipedia before you read this book, because I accidentally found out the plot and what happens before I read it. Don't do that. I still enjoyed it, because it was still enjoyable to read how Dickens would get us there, but I think I missed out a bit on the revelation.

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question is suggested by Island Editions:
Do you have a favourite book, now out of print, that you would like to see become available again? (I have several…)

I don't know. I don't buy a lot of books; I've bought more in the past two years than I've most likely bought in my life. I've always been a library reader. And the library tends to have older editions of books, so I don't even know what books are out of print.

The only books I can think of would be the Bruno and Boots series, beginning with This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. But even those, I unpacked from the basement when my son was ready to read them. They are not readily available online as new books, but there are plenty at the library!

I have tried to buy some of the Noddy books by Enid Blyton a few years ago, and they are not easy to find, but they are also not politically correct, which is why they are not being reissued. We found a few when my son was little and the TV show was on CBC and PBS.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

ETC: Snow Day!

Prince Edward Island is pretty much shut down today. Woo hoo!It's the best snow day of all, because it is not just the schools that are closed, but the government offices, even the liquor stores! I sent my daughter out with the camera, because she was playing outside and she loves to take pictures - she's 7. All pictures by Rachel.

So what will get accomplished on this free day? I have a whole list of things that I'd love to get done, but seeings how it is already 11 AM and I just got dressed, I may be a little too ambitious in my head.

  • correct 64 sets of physics labs
  • read Lolita - I have 100 80 pages left
  • make some Christmas cookies or squares
  • read the Christmas Advent Blog Tour
  • make a real supper

I looks like a Mario Kart tournnament is beginning in the basement, so it is more peaceful here in the living room.

*must start correcting!*

.....but before I begin, I'll just read a few pages of my book, or maybe I'll start The Cricket on the Hearth for the Christmas Book Challenge - it is a free day after all, and we are not going anywhere.

Happy Snow Day Everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: A Child's Christmas in Wales

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

More 'getting in the spirit' reading with this classic story. What an adorable book, so well written, and it is just like your own remembrances of Christmas' past, with different years blending into one, different stories, making you think - When did that happen? But it doesn't really matter, because it is the blending of all those events that combine to give you the warm fuzzies about Christmas, and that cause me to wonder how my own children's memories of Christmas will combine.

My edition was beautiful, with illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman that contributed to the over all feel of the book, although there was something about them which reminded me of The Great Brain books, but that didn't detract too much. Thomas describes the presents, both useful and useless; the music, and carolling; and the aunts and uncles. But he is a poet, so it isn't even what he says as how it says it. And this might just become a Christmas tradition for me.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

CHALLEGE: Man Booker Challenge

Dewey must believe in that old adage 'good things occur in threes' because she is hosting three challenges for next year. Yes, I said three. I'm most interested in the Man Booker Challenge, but she is also hosting a Graphic Novels Challenge and The Printz Award Challenge, for young adult novels. The Printz one will stay on my radar because I signed up for Joy's Young Adult Challenge, so I'll have to look into that a bit more. The Man Booker Challenge is to read 6 books that were winners or short listed for the Man Booker Award.

I already planned to read the following Booker Winners for the Booker Challenge and Bookers are one of my categories for the 888 challenge:

Maybe I'll just read 6 shortlisted books. Books from the short list that intrigue me include:

  • The Night Watch - Sarah Waters (chunkster)
  • Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (1% well read)
  • Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood (end of the world)
  • Family Matters - Rohinton Mistry (1% well read)
  • Atonement - Ian McEwan (book awards)
  • In the Country of Men - Hisham Matar (notable)
  • Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones (Orbis Terrarum)

I can easily read 6 from this list of books.

challenge wrap up here

Saturday, December 1, 2007

UPDATE: November Reads

November was my slowest reading month this year, with only 7 books completed. Midterm exams took their toll on prime reading time. I imagine December will slow as well, what with shopping and wrapping and Christmas baking. But all in all, I've read so much more this year that I can't believe that I'd consider seven books a slow month.

Canadian Book Challenge - 2, puts me at 4/13
Books to Movies Challenge - 2 and done.
nyt notable books challenge - 1 (I'm doing extra credit now)
2nds challenge - 1/3 (I'm worried about this challenge)

best reads - a boy of good breeding, Hockey Dreams

123. Irish Stories for Christmas - John B Keane
122. The Hours - Michael Cunningham
121. One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson
120. Monkfish Moon - Romesh Gunesekera
119. Gods & Monsters - Christopher Bram
118. Hockey Dreams - David Adams Richards
117. a boy of good breeding - Miriam Toews

Challenges left for 2008 2007:oops!
2nds Challenge: 2/3 looks tricky, but The Plague is short and Mercy would be fast.
Something About Me: reading Lolita now to finish up
50_books top 20: Lolita and A Prayer for Owen Meany, with no intention of reading LoTR
NYT Notable Books: I read the 6 I said I would, but I have 2 more that I bought that I'd like to finish this year before the next one starts: Lisey's Story and Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Christmas challenge: read 1/2, should be easy to finish
A - Z book: I read all but X, so am considering this done
A - Z author: I still have Q, U, and Y. If I consider 25 to be completed, I might be able to squeak this one out.

Friday, November 30, 2007

BOOK: Irish Stories for Christmas by John B Keane

Irish Stories for Christmas by John B Keane
Christmas Book Challenge

I should have known that a book of Irish stories would not necessarily be an uplifting set of Christmas stories. I thought they would be more like Maeve Binchy - modern, happy, heartwarming stories. These were good, but more in the vein of Angela's Ashes, set during or around the wars. So, a tad more depressing, but still interesting. More stereotypical Irish, poor, drinking stories. Keane can turn a phrase and some passages had me chuckling. There was even a page at the back of the book to decipher terms.

My favorite story was the one with two wren-boys (mummers who go singing and entertaining on St Stephen Day, or the day after Christmas) but who are so geared up, preparing to go, planning from the last year with anticipation, that they drink too much and fall asleep and don't wake up until the next day, and miss all the fun.