Thursday, May 31, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

Do you read e-Books?
If so, how? On your computer, or a PDA?
Or are you a paper purist? Why?

I don't' read e-Books, but I see our library has recently obtained thousands of e-books, available for loan. That is very enticing. But I'm not sure how to read them. I don't think I would read on the computer - I hog the computer the most as it is and my kids are getting bigger, so it'll be less computer time for me soon enough. Maybe if I had a PDA? Actually I doubt I'll read much on a computer at all, I still like to read lying down the most.
Having said that, I have enjoyed as a way to read some classics that would be, well, boring, and are better in small doses. I don't get caught up in them so it's hard to read a lot at one time. dailylit is neat because you are checking your email anyway, and each section only takes a few minutes to read. I read a few books last year that way. And it's free, since the books available are public domain.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CHALLENGE: Book Award Reading Challenge

Look what 3M came up with. Another challenge. The goal is to read twelve award winning novels from July 2007 until June 2008. I think she's even talking about some prizes. And she made up a new blog over here: I've been perusing the awards lists lately, so this challenge was very timely. I was toying with the idea of my own personal challenge to read a certain number, so thanks 3M for doing this for me.
Some good points to this challenge:
  • it goes for one year,
  • the books can be crosslisted to other challenges
  • the list can be ongoing
  • the more you read the more you can win,

And it's always more fun to read with others, although all these challenges seem to do is give me more books I want to read. I can see easily going beyond twelve for this challenge, but I may just be flush with the excitement of a list of big, fat juicy books.

The books I already have or had planned to read for other challenges would be:

  1. 1993 A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest J Gaines(National Book Critics Award)
  2. 2006 Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures -Vincent Lam (The Giller Prize)
  3. 1981 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (Pulitzer)
  4. 2006 The Echo Maker - Richard Powers (National Book Award) I read this too early to count for this challenge but I linked my review from June
  5. 1985 The Bone People - Keri Hulme (Booker Prize)
  6. 2005 We Need to Talk About Kevin - Shriver (Orange Prize)
  7. 2007 The Road - Cormac McCarthy (Pulitzer)
  8. 1990 Number the Stars - Lois Lowry (Newbery)
  9. 1997 The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy (Booker)
  10. 1997 The Chatham School Affair - (Edgar)
  11. 2000 The Blind Assassin - Maragaret Atwood (Booker)
  12. 2004 The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (Newbery)
  13. 2006 Other Colors by Orhan Pamuk (Nobel Prize winner)
  14. 1999 The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Pulitzer)
  15. 1968 From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by EL Konisburg (Newbery)
  16. 1989 The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro (Booker)
  17. 2002 Atonement by Ian McEwen (NBCC)
  18. 1986 Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Hugo, Nebula)
  19. 1961 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Newbery)
  20. 2005 Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason (Golden Dagger)
  21. 1983 Life and Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee (Booker)
  22. 1991 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Newbery)
  23. 2004 This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun (IMPAC Dublin)
  24. 2007 The Gathering by Anne Enright (Man Booker)

and that will get me off to a great start. We have a whole year, right? Excellent

Challenge wrap up posted here

BOOK: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Prepare to have you heart wrenched, you feelings conflicted and to thank God for your healthy family. Anna, a thirteen year old girl sues her parents for medical emancipation. The reason: she doesn't want to be made to donate a kidney to her sister, Kate, who is dying from renal failure due to complications from a lifelong struggle with a rare form of leukemia. The catch or modern take, is that Anna was created, or designed to be a perfect match to her sister, who had leukemia at a very young age. She has been a donor to her sister their whole lives.

The family dynamics, including older brother Jesse, a verifiable delinquent crying out for attention, and the mother and dad are played out using different point of views for each chapter. Everyone, including the lawyer and a court appointed guardian tell the story. I knew from the first chapter that this would be a difficult book to read, because how do you chose between your children? How can the parents and the children ever make the 'right' decision?

Picoult tells a wonderful story, however difficult is was to read. I was sobbing by the end, always my judge of an excellent story, because I grew to care about the characters and was thinking how I would deal with a situation. I was transported into the novel. I would definately look for another Picoult novel. This was my third Chunkster for the Chunkster Challege.

Monday, May 28, 2007

UPDATE: challenges

There seems to be a big bunch of new challenges starting on June 1st, so I have been putting a burn on to finish up some old challenges. The new, shiny challenges look like more fun, so I don't want to have these hanging over my head.

Spring Reading Thing: I completed a good bunch of books I had been wanting to read.

1. Reef by Romesh Gunesekera (completed March 24, 2007)

2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (completed March 25, 2007)

3. A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (completed March 29,2007)

4. History of the World in 10.5 Chapters by Julian Barnes (completed April 6, 2007)

5. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides (completed April 13, 2007)

6. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
book 1 The Golden Compass (completed April 26, 2007)
book 2 The Subtle Knife (completed April 29, 2007)
book 3 The Amber Spyglass (completed May 22, 2007)

Other than The Virgin Suicides, I really liked them all. They were an assortment of genres and styles, but I like a variety of topics and styles. I did this challenge, because I really liked the button. Challenge planners: never underestimate the power of a pretty button!

Once Upon a Time Challenge :

I really wasn't sure about this one, mostly because I don't read a lot of this type of book. However, once I was committed to reading His Dark Materials, it seemed a natural to add a few more and get another button! This helped me get a few books on my list of books from 50_books at livejournal:

  1. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

  2. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

  3. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

  4. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

  5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I think I picked the cream of the crop in this genre of fantasy and folklore. I read American Gods, also by Gaiman just before this challenge started. It was also excellent.

The Chunkster Challenge, along with the Winter Classics, started all this madness for me. I didn't even really blog about the Classics Challenge. The Chunkster was a real challenge for me, because I signed up before all the other fun challenges began, so this one got adapted, a bit. I read:

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (will be finished in days - I can't put it down!)

I listed 4 books and hoped to finish 2 of them. Three definately got done. I have some guilt about using His Dark Materials Books for so many challenges. This is how I justify it: I had five other books listed for the Spring Reading Thing, and could have left these off and felt quite accomplished. So if I pretend I used his Dark Materials book 1 and 2 for the Once Upon a Time Challenge and then the third book, which was a Chunkster, over 500 pages, it could have been a chunkster. Then things look more balanced to me and still accomplished. I'm never too clear how 'carved in stone' some of these challenges are. I completed what I said,and also the spirit of the challenges.

Now, bring on

  • Nonfiction 5 (one per month)
  • Summer Reading Challenge Round 2
  • Summer Mystery Reading Challenge
  • Southern Reading Challenge

I'll post another update on these newer challenges later.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

BOOK: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Last one for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, although I am hoping to read A Midsummer's Night Dream since I found an annoted edition in school to read.

Well, all I have to say after reading this book is Brilliant! Jolly Good! and other assorted terribly British phrases to describe a terribly wonderful book. The boys - Pratchett and Gaiman, must have had a blast writing this. And the reader comes along for the ride, all the way to Armageddon. The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter are the guideposts to witch finders, angels and demons (not by Dan Brown), the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the Antichrist. Some of the humorous devices include footnotes, the dramatus Personnae list, and a general irreverence for all things, and making fun of much British things.

I found this book on the of top 50_books compiled at livejournal, which has become my own personal reading list. I can see why people chose this book - just a terribly good adventure, written by terribly British funny guys, and I expect I'll read it again, as I read it quickly, and I know I missed a lot of jokes. There are a lot of details, but I wanted to finish it so quickly I couldn't stop myself. Some day, I'll pick this up again. For now, it gets passed to my husband's side table.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CHALLENGE: Summer Reading Challenge 2

Like a hole in the head. It is getting to where I am only reading books I put on a challenge. I'm not going to get too ambitious here, I am learning. This Summer Reading Challenge 2 runs from June 1 to August 1, 2007. Not a long time, so I don't want to commit to very much. But there are a few other books calling to me, such as:

  1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (which I WON from booklogged, and katrina just raved about, and I can't wait to read. It's a tearjerker. I love tearjerkers)
  2. Good Intentions by Joy Fielding This is a new-to-me author that I'd like to try
  3. The Translator by Leila Aboulela This is a NYT Notable book from 2006, and a Reading Across Borders pick of mine
  4. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes Another NYT Notable Book

Aaaand, I'd better stop. This is plenty for two months, but books I know I want to get to, and if I put it down like this, I know I'll get to them.

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

Here’s an idea from Julie:
I had an idea for a BTT question when I was taking a peek at one of my bookcases yesterday and spotted my old copy of the Aeneid in Latin sitting there. Maybe this question has already been done—but if not… Do you have any foreign language books and if so can you (still) read them?

Sadly, this Canadian has only English language books, no French or any other languages. We might have a French-English dictionary, but that's about it. Very unilingual.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Challenge: Something About Me Challenge

I don't think I ever posted about this challenge on my blog, since Lisa made a blog specifically for the Challenge. We are having lots of fun over there, listing our books and the reason why these books represent us. The lists are getting very long, and the books being suggested are fantastic. So much so, that I don't know how I'll ever pick a few to read for the length of the challenge, August 1 until December 31st. That's only five months, and there are 24 people, already, each listing 4 - 5 books. The math boggles the mind. (Not really, I love math) But the pile of books is boggling. It is so fun getting to know everyone.
I've decided to make lists - of books I have read, and books I want to read, and the ones I can commit to read for the challenge. Caribousmom has been making the same type of lists over at her blog.

Books I've read before the starting date of this challenge:
The Hotel New Hampshire (wendy) - I read this a long time ago. I remember it was weird, but I liked it.
Heidi (heidijane) - This is a childhood favorite. I still want to go to Switzerland.
In the Shadow of the Wind (christina) - I read this last year, after I was in Barcelona, and I really enjoyed it
Fall on Your Knees (christina) - read this years ago, Oprah pick
The Talisman (think pink dana) - number two favorite Stephen King book
Charlotte's Web (3m) - classic. I read this to my daughter last year.
Pride and Prejudice (patti) - I read this just last year. My first Austen
Diary of Anne Frank (patti) - read this in grade nine English class. wonderful and moving
No Coins Please (ellen) - Gordon Korman at his funny, funny self.
A Girl Named Zippy (nattie) - This so reminded me of my daughter. A delightful memoir and I can't wait to read the sequel
Wuthering Heights (suey, trish) - I think high school was too young to appreciate the Brontes
To Kill a Mockingbird (stephanie, janet) - one of my favorites
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (maryanne) - read out loud to my son last year
Like Water for Chocolate (maryanne) - I know I read this ages ago and liked the recipe aspect
The Polysyllabic Spree (athena) - loved this. I can't wait to read the next one
The Stand ( - number one favorite Stephen King novel
Bridget Jones' Diary (tiny librarian, trish) - Anne and Bridget are my two most favorite heroines
Anne of Green Gables (tiny librarian, ennavic, trish) - Anne!
The Time-Traveller's Wife (dewey) - I read this last year; fabulous
The Poisonwood Bible (bookworm) - loved the palindrome sister
HP and the Sorcerer's Stone (bookworm) - read aloud to son
HP and the Goblet of Fire (Kathrin) - read aloud. They started getting really good in this book
High Fidelity (Rhinoa) - I went on a big Hornby reading kick last year.
The Other Boleyn Girl ( Margo) - loved it, read for Chunkster Challenge
Flowers in the Attic (Margo) - read in high school. awesome
The Undomestic Goddess (Margo) - apparently, Margo and I like the same books!
Me Talk Pretty One Day (MyUtopia) - I read this in the past few years
These Happy Golden Years (Becky) - Little House books, yeah
Anne of the Island (Becky) - another favorite!
The Lovely Bones (chasida) - very good story
The Little Prince (soleil) - read this year for Once Upon a Time , in English
The Red Tent (sarah miller) - read a few years ago. very good
The Giver (sarah miller) - read this year for the dystopian challenge, and banned book
To Kill a Mockingbird (janet) - one of my favourites
Fahrenheit 451 (faith) - just read this year for dystopian challenge
Little Women (alyson) - I still have my copy from when I was young
My Sister's Keeper (trish) - I read this for the Chunkster Challenge this year

Now, I've read before the challenge officially begins:
A Man Without a Country (kookiejar) - I just read this in the last month. see review
So Many Books, So Little Time (sally,,vasilly,) - I had to read this it was mentioned so often. see review
The Echo Maker (3M) - also a NYT Notable book of 2006 see review
Uglies (faith) - dystopian challenge see review

Now the harder part: books I want to read. I plan to pick 5 books for the challenge, highlighted. I am finding if I have a challenge with one book per month, I don't feel too much pressure. Then, it leaves me the option of reading more if time allows. If I'm feeling rushed, I don't enjoy the books as much. Having said that, I do plan to read more than four of these books. (shhh I've actually started reading some already. Don't tell anyone. Thanks.) I'm trying to pick at least one book from each participant that I'd like to read, and everyone has at least one that looks fabulous.
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)

Booked to Die - John Dunning (bonnie)
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde (heidijane, valentina)
The Awakening - Kate Chopin (patti)
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova (maryanne)
Twilight - Stephanie Myers (suey)
Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons - Lorna Landvic (tiny librarian)
The Remains of the Day - Ishiguro (lucca)
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd (ennavic, Karlene)
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (trish)
84 Charing Cross Road - Helen Hanff (Historia)
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson (heatherbird, Holly)
Island of the Blue Dolphin - Scott O'Dell (Juli)
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things - Carolyn Macklar (Julie)
Zel - Donna Jo Napoli (Sarah Miller)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith (Becky)

Lying on the Couch - Irving Yalom (lisa)
The Happy Room - Cathering Palmer (twiga)
A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson (wendy)
Johnny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo (kookiejar)
The Seven Daughters of Eve - Bryon Sykes (christina)
The Essays of EB White (think pink dana)
Harvesting the Heart - Jodi Picoult (heather)
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood (ellen
This Side of Paradise - F Scott Fitzgerald (ellen)
The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards (3m)
Luncheon of the Boating Party - Susan Vreeland (3m)
The Amateur Marriage - Anne Tyler (nattie)
Nothing But the Truth - Avi (megan)
Oh My Goth - Gena Showater (stephanie)
Generation Next Parenting - Tricia Goyer (kristin)
A Cook's Tour - Anthony Bourdain (athena)
The Tortilla Curtain - TC Boyle (dewey)
The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot (Kathrin)
Can You Keep a Secret? - Sophie Kinsella (Kathrin)
Just Ella - Margaret Peterson Haddix (allisonwonderland)
Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli (allisonwonderland)
Chocolat - Joanne Harris (margo, becky)
Because it is Bitter & Because it is My Heart - Joyce Carol Oates (judith)
Seeing - Jose Saramago (MyUtopia)
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khalid Houseini (becky)
Persuasion - Jane Austen (Becky)
The World According to Garp - John Irving (Chasida)
Beach Music - Pat Conroy (jmc)
Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block (soleil)
The View From Saturday - EL Konisburg (sarah miller)
The Art of Mending - Elizabeth Berg (librarylady)
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote (lucca)
Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls (janet)
Great Books - David Denby (alyson)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See (Juli)
Dune - Frank Herbert (karlene)

If I happen to read one of these before the challenge starts, I'll move it up. I'll probably eventually try to get to many of these - I'll use them to pick books for other challenges I might participate in.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MEME: Favorite Books

I've seen this meme at a few blogs, so I don't know who I properly gakked it from. And even though I copied it from someone, it's taken me so long to come up with the perfect books, and I know I've forgotten a ton of books that I'm sure I meant to pick.

A book that made you cry: I cry really easily in books. I bawl and bawl, so absorbed in the novel. The most recent book was "the perks of being a wallflower", but Anne of Green Gables gets me every time Matthew's name is mentioned.
A book that scared you: Misery by Stepehn King, or The Deep End of the Ocean
A book that made you laugh: Bridget Jones cracks me up, especially when she is on the phone with her 'smug married' friends.
A book that disgusted you: On South Mountain, a true story about a Maritime family, the Golers, who were charged with horrifying cases of incest and abuse. Everyone in the community knew them, and about them, but did nothing for years.

A book you loved in elementary school: I read a lot in elementary, but Gordon Korman's This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall with Bruno and Boots would be right up there.
A book you loved in middle school: I remember loving Cue for Treason, a novel we studied in grade nine. Much like Shakespeare in Love; there was a mystery, and a girl pretending to be a boy to be able to act as the female roles in the plays.
A book you loved in high school: I can't remember what all I read during high school and university, they blend together. I'm guessing Stepehn King's Different Seasons
A book you hated in high school: The Lord of the Flies. Horrid, horrid book.
A book you loved in college: I went through a big Stephen King phase in university, so probably The Stand
A book that challenged your identity: I don't know if I've ever really read a book like this, or if I noticed. But A Fine Balance made me think about life, and my attitude to dealing with what life hands you.

A series that you love: There are many. Anne of Green Gables is a great series. I read this every few years, the whole 8 books.
Your favorite horror book: Stephen King's It
Your favorite science fiction book: This isn't a genre I tend to read much of. I guess it would be Hitchhiker's Guide, but I've only read that in the last two months.
Your favorite fantasy: Is this where Harry Potter would go? I've enjoyed this series.
Your favorite mystery: I have to pick one? There are so many series. I've been rereading some Agatha Christie, so I'll pick her. I hope Brother Cadfael, Inspector Lynley, Thomas Pitt, and the 87th precinct don't get mad at me.
I could break this down:
Best historical mystery: Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters
Best police procedural: the 87th precinct by Ed McBain

Your favorite biography: The Story of Helen Keller
Your favorite "coming of age" book: perks of being a wallflower was the most recent I can think of; it was excellent
Your favorite classic: The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
Your favorite romance book: Bridget Jones' Diary Oh, Mark Darcy, I won't make fun of your reindeer jumper.
Your favorite historical fiction: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Your favorite cookbook: The Best of the Best by the Best of the Bridge girls.
Your favorite book not on this list: The Life of Pi

OTHER: keeping track with bookmarks and lists and things

Hey! thanks to bookfool, I have a brand spanking new, handmade bookmark to keep track of my reading. You know what a wonderful photographer she is, and the bookmark is one of her photos of a bird. It is amazing. And another bookmark, which my son nabbed, of a riverboat on the Mississippi River. It is so much fun to get mail, with an AIR MAIL stamp. See what fun things can happen when you participate in challenges. My name was drawn from the Chunkster Challenge check in post.

In other news, I need to see an update on my challenge situation, and where I'm going.
Spring Reading Thing: just finished, yeah :)
Once Upon a Time: Good Omens - reading
A Midsummer's Night Dream - I found an annoted copy at school. Then done
Chunkster Challenge: My Sister's Keeper - by the end of June. Then done.
Nonfiction5: read one; planning to start another one the first of June and then the first of each month: Assassination Vacation is checked out and ready to go. I also have Devil in White City on hand
15books/15decades: the summer classics challenge will take care of this
Dystopian : this goes til November. If I can do one a month - June: Never Let Me Go. 3 more
Southern Reading Challenge : starts June 1st: Miss Julia is ready to go. 3 in total
Classics Challenge: starts July. 4 in total
Summer Mystery : Miss Julia again! or Princess of Burundi. 6 in total

And I think I'm late to the party, but I am loving librarything ! So much fun, to catalogue, to list, to label, and reorganize. And then, look at other groups and lists and find even more books to read. I can't wait for school to be done - 3 more weeks of classes, then exams- and then I can read without guilt of knowing that I am not correcting the little darlings lab reports.

BOOK: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Finishing The Amber Spyglass completes the Spring Reading Thing 2007 Challenge for me. What was I thinking, chosing a trilogy for a challenge? This third book was hard to get through for some reason. Partly because it was over 500 pages (I think I'm counting it as a Chunkster Challenge too!) and partly because it just didn't grab me to get started, and yet I knew I really wanted to finish it. I couldn't leave a trilogy unfinished, but I was tempted at times to put it down. I was bargaining with myself - finish 150 pages, read another book - see The Little Prince, finish 150 pages, read another book. I was gritting my teeth and getting to it. And then, all of a sudden, I couldn't put the book down. I stayed up waaay too late last night to finish the book that I couldn't read two days before.

And I think that is why people rave about this series. Each of the three books have been difficult to get into, at least 150 pages before I was hooked. But the ultimate ending was worth it. It is a children's series to some degree, but with the amount of killing it seems a little intense for preteens. As a children's book, much of it was predictable and that may have led to my disinterest for a while. But the payoff was worth it in the end.

The characters of Lyra and Will were terrific and the allusions to Adam and Eve and temptation, make this book very broad. Religion and science are huge themes and as Armageddon comes, and the angels come down to fight and worlds are literally torn apart with our heroes at the center, poised to save all the worlds.
From the cover:

As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living and the dead - finally comes to depend on two children and the simple truth of one simple story.

There were parts of the story I enjoyed more than others - Mary Malone and the mulefa were my favorite. The mulefa were a people who evolved with a diamond skeleton instead of backbone and lived symbiotically with the pod trees. Other creatures from other worlds like the brave little spies, the Gallivespians, still the idea of daemons and souls, angels and ghosts, the imagination of Pullman and his take on the world were incredible.

So, I thought I wouldn't give this a very good rating, but the ending did it for me and I will be thinking of how he tied things up, and the consequenses and sacrifices made for a long time.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

BOOK: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

Cute little fairy tale from the top 50_books list and part of my Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge. I looked up the SparkNotes because there was certainly more to the story. I see that it is cute, I liked the moral, and after I looked up the notes it more made sense, but I don't think I would ever remember to list it as one of my favorite books.

The Little Prince leaves his tiny planet and travels through space, landing on other tiny planets, meeting caricatures of adults and all the bad qualities adults can have with all their silly rules. Eventually he lands on Earth and meets the narrator, a pilot whose plane has crashed. The Prince has a profound effect on the pilot, but the Prince also learns some lessons about love from a fox and life from a snake.

Some notes from Sparks that I liked:
The Little Prince can be read as a metaphor of the process of introspection itself, wherein two halves of the same person meet and learn from each other.

Saint-Exupéry urges his readers to participate actively in the reading process, using their imaginations to assign deeper meaning to deceptively simple prose and poetry

His constant questioning also indicates that one’s search for answers can be more important than the answers themselves.

I read this in about an hour or so, and I might read it again with the Sparks notes in mind.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday


Booking Through Thursday
It happens even to the best readers from time to time… you close the cover on the book you’re reading and discover, to your horror, that there’s nothing else to read. Either there’s nothing in the house, or nothing you’re in the mood for. Just, nothing that “clicks.” What do you do?? How do you get the reading wheels turning again?

Since I've started participating in reading challenges, I haven't had a problem with finding something to read at all. I remember that this used to happen though; all of a sudden I'd finish a book and have nothing on my bedside table. The panic! A trip to the library, or a call out to some reading friends would usually quickly fill the gap. Or I might go through a spell of magazines or maybe an old standby like Anne of Green Gables or Bridget Jones or Maeve Binchy.
But I don't see this being an issue for the next little while, 2 or 3 years :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

MEME: 8 Random Facts About Me

I was tagged by Chris at book-a-rama for the "8 Random Things About Me" Meme. It has taken my a while to come up with my list. Whenever I read other people's lists, I think uh uh, yep, me too, and now I try to do my own? Much harder than it looks.
Here are the rules:
1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2: People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3: At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4: Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I have monocular vision - I can't see, other than very blurry images, with my left eye. My right eye isn't great, but it was so much stronger when I was a child that it took over all seeing duties. I only need one contact for my right eye. This means that I cannot see three dimensionally.

2. I love shoes. I love buying new shoes, I notice other people's shoes, and I like my shoes to be perfect for my outfit. I've bought outfits to match a cute pair of shoes.

3. I love to eat raw cookie dough. My husband won't let me in the kitchen if he's making cookies, because I like to nibble too much.

4. I drink my coffee black because I want it to taste like it smells.

5. I hate the feel of sand under my fingernails or between my toes. HATE.

6. I play on Webkinz more than my kids do.

7. I don't have my ears pierced - I only wear clip on earrings.

8. When I eat my Smarties, I don't eat the red ones last.

I'm supposed to tag 8 other people, but if you read this and think it looks like fun - do it!

CHALLENGE: Summer Mystery Reading Challenge

The Challenge:

Read six mysteries of any type by authors whose works you haven’t read before between June 1st and August 31st and you will have completed the challenge, hosted at reviewed by Liz
How awesome is this? I haven't been reading mysteries much lately. I found a new series with Inspector Montalbano by Camilleri, an Italian detective that I want to read more of, but this challenge says new to you authors. My first thought was, great. Now I'll have six new series I'll want to read, and I don't need more to read. But since I read most of Anne Perry's mysteries, I haven't really found new mystery authors, and I think I've been wanting to. I've been rereading some Agatha Christie books, and I've discovered some old time detective stories by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett that I want to read.
I don't have to make a list, just read six new authors. I know I will start with some books I'm reading for the Southern Reading Challenge, such as:
1. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B Ross not really a mystery after all. I'll have to find another for this
Then I'll investigate:
3. The Princess of Burundi by Swedish author, Kjell Eriksson. I ordered this from amazon as part of my Reading Across Borders Challenge and haven't got to it yet
4. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich I've never read Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich, so I imagine that'll be one
5. And them I think I'll browse the library, looking for the little mystery symbol, and be adventurous for the last two. That sounds like a lot of fun.
So, here are the other books I've found for this challenge, with reviews linked:
1. Restless by William Boyd
5. Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
6. Killer Swell by Jeff Shelby

BOOK: The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra

I picked this little book up at the library. It was very depressing, but nicely written. The setting of Kabul, Afghanistan during the Taliban reign which is not a nice time or place to be. The story is slight, following two couples as they struggle to survive and deal with their life, especially the women. This is a city where the Taliban have a woman stoned to death in the street for being a prostitute. The story is really about Kabul, and its character and ruin dominate the novel. This was once a beautiful city, full of life and now it is a pile of rubble. The characters were often describing how dishelveled the city had become, and this mirrored their descents into depression as well.

The more I read about Afghanistan and how the Taliban changed life there, the easier it is to understand why our Canadian soldiers are over there, fighting for the Afghan people. The misogyny under the guise of Islam extremists scares me. The female character in this book had been university educated and working before, and then could not leave the house except in a burqa, could not touch her husband on the street, and had absolutely no rights. Sad story, but moving and enlightening.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

CHALLENGE: Southern Reading Challenge

I said I wasn't going to do this challenge, but I've been going over to Maggie Reads and checking out all her great suggestions and she is full of ideas. I was resisting until she started posting about mysteries. Fun, humorous little mystery series. So I'm in now. I plan to read, during the sweltering southern days of June, July and August, although we never quite get to sweltering here in the Maritimes:

1. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind: Ann B. Ross
2. Murder on a Girl's Night Out: Anne George
3.A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toule

and for extra credit, because it got really hot here:
4. Quite a Year for Plums: Bailey White
5. Shakespeare's Landlord: Charlaine Harris

This looks like fun and quite managable.Thanks for all the suggestions Maggie.

BOOK: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Last summer, my sister and I watched "Capote" starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. I thought the movie would be Capote's biography, but it really only focused on his time investigating the Kansas murders of the Clutter family in 1959. Interesting fact - Harper Lee was his friend and assistant who accompanied him. So when the Nonfiction 5 challenge was announced, I decided to read In Cold Blood to have some more background to the movie. It's the first Capote book I've read.

What a detailed book! Capote includes so much detail and description of the town and the family, which was rather gruesome when he was describing the murders, but his story -and it feels like fiction at times because how could this really happen? is told in a detached, balanced manner. Actually, the movie gave the impression that Capote got quite involved with the murderers, especially Perry Smith. His life is told in more detail and he is the more sympathetic, if you could say that, of the suspects. Except that he was the cold blooded murderer. It was a very difficult book to come to terms with.

I can see why this book is considered a masterpiece because the details, the pacing, the characters, the objective view made this a terrific read. It is like a Dateline expose, or 48 Hours mystery, but without the sensationalism added in. Except that this was a sensational story.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

LIST: Used book sale finds

  • Our local newspaper held a used book sale with proceeds to a literacy group in the province. they filled a whole store at the mall with used books. I limited myself to one hour and $20 and here is what I found:
  • The Wizard of Oz (the local high school just put on this musical, I thought the kids might like)
  • Kidnapped - RLS
  • Madame Bovary - Flaubert (a classic I've been wanting to read; I started on dailylit, but never finished)
  • The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz - Mordecai Richler
  • Silas Marner - George Eliot (katrina just gave this a good review)
  • Oryx and Crake - Atwood (a dystopian novel, if it's here I might read it, although Chris didn't give it a rave)
  • Lie Down with Lions - Ken Follett (I love his Pillars of the Earth novel)
  • The Little Prince - (I was planning to read for Once Upon a Time)
  • The Incredible Journey (for the kids)
  • Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (I'm reading for the classics challenge)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (might be my first Dickens read)
  • The Dog Who Woulnd't Be - Farley Mowatt ( I really wanted Owls in the Family, but this is funny too: for the kids)
  • A Red Death and A Little Yellow Dog - Easy Rawlins Mysteries (for the hubby, and me too)
  • Chronicles of Avonlea - LM Montgomery (her short stories; I like to reread these)
  • A Lesson Before Dying - Gaines (somebody? reviewed this recently)
  • Never Have Your Dog Stuffed -Alan Alda (kaliana gave this a great review)
  • It's Fine to be Nine (Jack is nine, and we have the collection already for Six and Seven)
  • Goosebumps: My Hairiest Adventure - RL Stine (kids)
  • My Teacher is an Alien - Bruce Colville (kids)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

MEME: Booking through Thursday

Ask not where, but where not?

Booking Through Thursday

So, judging by last week’s answers, apparently the question I should have been asking was:
Where DON’T you read??

I don't read at work, for pleasure, even though there is a whole LIBRARY just sitting there. It's so hard to not read.
I peeked at some other people's lists, and I can't say, like they do, that I don't read in the bathroom, because I do, or at people's houses, because I do. (My inlaws got me a Reader's Digest subscription for Christmas because I always read the magazine at their house.)
I don't read in the car, or the shower, or in the morning. I'm not a morning person, so every minute counts and except for the cereal box and the newspaper and, oh. I guess I do read in the morning, just not novels. I guess I read all the time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

BOOK: A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

I confess, this was my first Vonnegut, and certainly his recent death brought his name to the forefront of my consciousness. As well, kookiejar listed it as one of her books at the Something About Me Challenge. And it is nonfiction 5 month, but I don't think I'm counting it as one of my reads, unless I get desperate in August!
This is a series of essays Vonnegut wrote in the early 2000s. From the jacket:

A Man Without a Country is Kurt Vonnegut's hilariously funny and razor-sharp look at life, art, politics, himself, and the condition of the soul of America today.
Written over the last five years with the examples of Mark Twain, Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, and a saintly doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis powerfully illustrated with artwork by the author. A Man Without a Country is an intimate and tender communication from one individual to his fellow Americans, sometimes joking, at other times despairing, always searching.

This was a very quick read, only 147 pages or so. I saw Vonnegut on The Daily Show highlights after he died, so his viewpoints weren't a shock. He is an interesting man, a humanist, with a great if somewhat discourageing look on life and planet Earth. Vonnegut once asked his neighbour, a painter Syd Solomon, how to tell a good picture for a bad one. Solomon answered "Look at a million pictures, and you can never be mistaken." Exactly. This was a good book ( but not if you think Bush walks on water or is smart, or if you have any good opinion of Bush or Cheney) and I can just tell. I liked how he discussed the big picture of planet earth, and the little bits about family and being a good person. Or maybe being the good person is the big picture.
Thanks for the recommendation kookiejar.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

BOOK: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read several reviews over at NYT Notable Books for this book and it did not disappoint. This book has been short listed for the Orange Prize and I am very glad to see that, unlike other award winning literature I've tried to read, this book was extremely readable. Adichie has created characters and a setting that was very easy to be immersed in. And that isn't necessarily a good thing, as Nigeria circa 1967 was involved in a bloody civil war and that is never good for anybody.
To witness the descent that Olanna, her twin Kainene, Olanna's husband Odenigbo, the houseboy Ugwe and Kainene's partner Richard fall into is scary and disturbing. From a comfortable middle class, university life to barely surviving in refuge camps, this novel shows how devastating and quickly war can change everybody's lives. People have to do whatever they can to survive. It was a great reminder that when we see refuge camps on television, each person there had a home, a life, a job before they were displaced. I was thinking about Nigeria while I read this, but also Dar fur, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan and these places we see from a distance. And it is so upsetting.
This novel reminded me of several other books: the opening part of the book, before the war started was much like Reef, with the houseboy fitting into a middle class household, with an academic life; and the spirit of the characters reminded me of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, a novel somewhat about attitude and dealing with what life throws at you. And you can never believe how awful things get for the characters and how they keep surviving.

To summarize, Half of a Yellow Sun was an excellent book, although the material was disturbing since it details the atrocities civilians and soldiers have to deal with during a civil war. The writing and the characters were enjoyable and I'd like to read the other book by Adichie, Purple Hibiscus.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

No, not THAT kind of R.I.P.
Reading. In. Public.
Do you do it? Why or why not?

Why not? I don't usually have a book with me, but I am getting better at being prepared for waiting situations. I always read a magazine in the doctor's office, so why not a book? Swimming lessons are a great spot as well.
I use my time the best I can when waiting for my kids to finish whatever they are doing: whether that means correcting tests, or going for a run ,or reading a book. With the reading challenges I've been signing up for, lately the book has been the option chosen most.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

BOOK: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Well, this wasn't on my May reading list. I was at the library yesterday to get a school physics video, under strick self-imposed rules not to browse for books. Then my nine year old son wanted to go look for a book. This doesn't happen too often, so of course we go. There I spotted this Neil Gaiman book on a display. I hadn't realized that Coraline was a children's book. I gobbled it up tonight: swimming lessons meant a solid three quarters of an hour of uninterupted reading, and the book isn't terribly long anyway.

This was really creepy. It almost scary, because books don't really scare me - I've read all Stephen King, but this would be a super scary movie. I was picturing a Tim Burton type computer animated scare-fest while I was reading it. Spiders, rats, slugs, possessed hands, unknown things! This book has every creepy thing you can imagine.

Here's the book jacket summary:

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it's different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to
change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages

The main character Coraline was such a great character, such a kid. The black cat was an excellent supporting character. It was many of the details I really enjoyed - Coraline hates recipe food, the parents were somewhat distracted, and Coraline faced some fears and was brave - doing something even when you are afraid. This is a great story for kids, and now I have to try to convince my son to read it. However, the book he picked out was "The Day My Butt Went Crazy" or something like that. Could be a tough sell.

UPDATE: April Books

April was a good month with ten books read. If I keep reading like this, I'll read over one hundred books this year. Crazy! I really liked most of them, and made some progress on some challenges, completing the Banned Book Challenge, and getting the 15books/15decades to the point where I have 9 books/9decades done. I started the Dystopian Challenge and am quite enjoying this genre. I got two books out of three done on His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman which just about completes the Spring Reading Thing. Since some books overlap, the numbers don't add up below.

Total Books Read: 10
Books Read for Banned Book Challenge: 3
Books Read for Spring Reading Thing: 4
Books Read for Reading Across Borders: 0
Books Read for the Dystopian Challenge: 2
Books Read for Chunkster Challenge: 1
Books Read for 15books/15decades: 2
Books Read for top 50_books challenge: 1.5

New Authors that I want to read again: Gregory, Pullman, Barnes
Best books: The Other Boleyn Girl, perks of being a wallflower, The Giver
Best Reread: The Indian in the Cupboard
Meh: The Virgin Suicides, Fahrenheit 451

The List:
The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
the perks of being a wallflower - stephen chbosky
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
The Giver - Lois Lowry
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters - Julian Barnes
The Indian in the Cupboard - Lynne Reid Banks