Wednesday, October 31, 2007

CHALLENGE: What's in a Name?

Annie is hosting a challenge for next year, with some pretty neat parameters. I had fun picking out books to fit the categories, and since it is OK to overlap books with other challenges, and it lasts all year, I think I can do this.

"What's In A Name?" Reading Challenge
Dates: January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008
The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a color in its title.
Black Swan Green - David Mitchell
Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell

2. A book with an animal in its title.
The Goose Girl - Hale
The Terra Cotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri

3. A book with a first name in its title.
Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi

4. A book with a place in its title.
Amsterdam - McEwan
Yellowknife - Steve Zipp

5. A book with a weather event in its title.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bryson
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

6. A book with a plant in its title.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
The Grass Harp - Capote

I've listed a few books for each category and I hope to read at least one for each. Thanks Annie, what a great idea

Challenge write up posted here

UPDATE: RIP II challenge completed

RIP II successfully completed, and what a great challenge it was. My goal was to read 4 books and Fragile Things

The beauty of a challenge is sometimes you find a book you weren't planning, and it turns into a great read. And then Carl sprung some mid-challenge challenges in the middle which completely changed what was originally planned. I read 3 of the books I originally listed, and just didn't get to The Historian, but I made up for that by reading Colleen Gleason's vampire books, the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, which was one of Carl's surprise contests.
The books I read during the past two months that fit into this challenge include the following:

Among the Shadows by LM Montgomery
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Seterfield
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason
Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason
and then The Additional Peril: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

What a great bunch of books!

Favorite books: Never Let Me Go, Neverwhere, and The Road
Short Story collections: Among the Shadows, Everything's Eventual and Fragile Things
Vampire Series: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, and looking forward to the third book

So thank you to Carl for hosting, and having my poppet, Christie arrive during the RIP II challenge, it seemed perfect. Can't wait for next year, because I still have some more creepy books to read, and it is fun to get into the Halloween mood.

Monday, October 29, 2007

BOOK: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
a collection of short stories

read for RIP II challenge, an extra challenge

I'm really tired, I called 25 parents tonight because I missed parent teacher interviews because I got my wisdom teeth out last week, and I still have a test to make up for tomorrow. On the plus side of getting my wisdom teeth out: I haven't eaten very much in 5 days, so my waist is happy, and I got a lot of reading done. Bad side: I would love a bowl of peanuts and crunchy vegetables and I am beat tired.

Review: a great collection of short stories, good to read a story about Shadow, he's a great character, best poem was one about a very bad day. Gaiman isn't quite on a level with Stephen King for me, but it was still a good read. The end.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

BOOK: The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod

The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod

a collection of short stories
Nova Scotia book for the Canadian Book Challenge

This collection of short stories gives such a wonderful history of life on the sea in Nova Scotia. The hard life of fishermen and coal miners, and the sacrifice and conflicts between the generations are told in brutal honesty and with a style that makes you feel you have lived this life.

Maybe it is just that I see a version of these conflicts here in the Maritimes today. I have neighbours whose husbands have left for the oilfields of Alberta because they can not support their family here. I have colleagues who never see their grandchildren because their own children have moved 'away' and only get a visit once a year. The life here is filled with people who leave, and the people who stay, and the conflict and unhappiness that results.

One story tells the point of view of the mother who wants her son to carry on her family tradition of fishing, and can't understand her daughters who left and married well in the Boston states. Her husband wants more for his son than the life of fishing that he has held. The conflict over the old way and education and the struggle between them.

Then the reverse, where the parents have moved away to make a better life for their children, sacrificing everything for their education, and the children who don't want that life, and miss the old ways.
The conflict between parents and children, the old ways and the new, poverty and trying to better a life. While these stories are set in the late 60s early 70s, life and the challenges haven't changed at all. The fish aren't here anymore, the coal mines are shut down, and there is always some new catastrophe in the economy. MacLeod writes beautifully, putting so much in few words, and I enjoyed this collection of stories as a history of my region, and as a commentary on how life hasn't changed all that much. They are sad stories, but not depressing, and with a twinge of hope in people accepting their fate.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

BOOK: The Inuk Mountie Adventure by Eric Wilson

The Inuk Mountie Adventure by Eric Wilson

A Tom Austen Mystery
Nunavut book for the Canadian Book Challenge

I was picking out some library books for my son and saw this one and knew it would be a nice easy read, perfect for my percocet induced haze following my wisdom teeth extraction. And it was perfect. This isn't a mystery like an Agatha Christie mystery, but for the under twelve group, it is a great book. Wilson has a whole series of books starring Tom and his sister Liz, solving mysteries across Canada.

The mystery here was a little far fetched, with Tom overhearing the Prime Minister and his aide, and then gets caught up in a plot involving murder and the possible joining of Canada and the United States. Then Tom and his class head from Winnipeg to Nunavut for an exchange trip, where the mystery continues.

The mystery was well done once you get past a how perfectly Tom continually overhears important information. But the description of the locations and the students experience in Nunavut were very nicely done, and expose kids to a part of Canada few of us get to experience. This is also a nice way to introduce young readers to a mystery series, and if these had been around when I was young, I would have gobbled them up, like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, for Canadians.

The book was written before Nunavut officially became a territory in 1999, so the map at the front of the book isn't quite accurate.

Friday, October 26, 2007

BOOK: Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason

Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, book 2
The RIP II Challenge had an extra challenge - to read Colleen Gleason's vampire novels, The Rest Falls Away and Rises the Night. This has been a great new series for me as vampires are a new genre for me.
The second story picks up one year after Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy fought her epic battle against Lilith. I don't want to give away anything from the first book, so I can't say too much. After the battle, Max has disappeared, and Lilith has taken all her vampires from England. Her son Nedas, is planning to take over the world, so Victoria and Aunt Eustacia head to Italy to head off this challenge. The dashing Sebastian Vioget is still lurking around, and while Victoria isn't sure if she can trust him, she is definitely drawn to him and they have several steamy interludes.
This book was a little sexier than the first one, but that's okay because Sebastian is an interesting character who I like reading about. This is a great series, and will be my reading candy for the next little while, as the third book is to be released after Christmas. I like the rules of dealing with vampires, and the Victorian setting, and the characters. Victoria is a smart, strong heroine who knows what she is doing. She doens't have to rely on the men to solve her problem, but she works with them to rid the world of vampires. I can't wait to read the next book, The Bleeding Dusk.
Kaliana over at The Written World, is having a contest to promote the Gardella Vapire Chronicles.
"The object is to write fan fiction, draw a picture, or take a photograph relating to Colleen's two in print novels and her forth-coming one."
I'm not sure how creative I am feeling, but I'd love to win the signed copy of the third book. I'll think about it as we have until November 15th to submit the entry.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader
I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?
Like most readers, I seldom give up on a book. There have been a few I've considered giving up on, but as long as it's not a big, long book, I'll get through it. (I'm looking at you Picture of Dorian Gray) There have been a couple exceptions however, so horrendous and boring, that they make this list.
First, On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I tried, and kept hoping I would get what makes this book a classic. Nope. Just some slacker guys looking to score women and drugs and a free ride across the country. I couldn't even see a plot developing, just most stories of these loser guys. I looked at the last page as I was considering giving up, and it was more of the same. I tired the sparks notes, to read what all the hubbub was about. Didn't help. Terrible book.
I also remember reading The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Riverte. I think I had read another book by this author and liked it, but this one put me to sleep. I couldn't understand anything that was going on, and returned it to the library. I can't even remember what I didn't like about it, but, as the kids today say, it sucked.
I started The Hobbit twice when I was younger and couldn't get past the first page! The first page? It is loved by so many, so I may try again, the wisdom of age and all that, but I don't hold much hope.
I started Emma by Jane Austen earlier this year, and put it down, but I do attempt to try it again, when I have a month to read it, because Jane Austen is not very readable to me, and I want to give her another try. But she might make the DNF list as well.

Monday, October 22, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: a small peril

The Specter Bridegroom by Washington Irving

I thought I'd try an older spooky short story after my Stephen King escapades. And you can see how scary subjects have changed over the years, because this little story didn't seem scary at all, actually, it was a little funny. I kept picturing it as a Three's Company episode. OK, I'll begin at the beginning.

I found this story in a small collection called Great Tales of Suspense, which was in the children's section of the library. It includes stories by HG Wells, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so I'm sure they are supposed to be scary. The setting was an old castle in Upper Germany, the castle of Baron von Landshort. And yes, even by that name I was amused. He is a little down on his luck, but still proud and yet carrying grudges. He will become Mr Roper in the story in my head. The baron was 'a dry branch of the great family of Katzenellenbogen.' Did you giggle there? I know I did when I said that name in my head. So Mr Roper is trying to marry off his daughter - no wife is mentioned. The beautiful daughter, we'll call Chrissy, has been raised by two maiden aunts, we'll call them Mrs Roper and Janet. My analogy doesn't work perfectly, but bear with me. The Baron arranges a marriage, but nobody in the castle ever meets the guy before the marriage. All the poor relatives arrive for the wedding.

The bridegroom is riding to meet his future wife and runs into an old friend from his army days, Jack Tripper, who alas is an enemy of Mr Roper, but it's an enemy back of few generations, so they haven't actually met. Can you see the set up? It seemed so obvious to me from a mile away, through the Black Forest. The old pals are accosted in the woods and the bridegroom is killed. Jack Tripper agrees to head to the castle to tell the bad news and espy the beautiful bride he has heard of through the neighbourhood, perhaps down at the Regal Beagle over a few beers with Larry.

When he arrives, late, everyone is so happy to see him, and they think he is the bridegroom, so they don't let him tell that he is not who they think he is. He stays, has dinner, makes googly eyes at the bride, and she back. and then leaves. The next day they get word at the castle that the original bridegroom had been killed, so they all think they met a specter.

I won't give away the ending, but Chrissy often ends up as the wise one amongst the idiots, and that darn mix up is usually figured out. If you can figure out a Three's Company episode, this won't be too surprising. So, my question now is, have we changed so much, been exposed to so much that this was once spooky? Or was this really an amusing little story, not meant to be very scary? I've read some books this year, like Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which were creepy, and held up to modern scrutiny, to an extent, since those stories are so famous, that the endings were not surprising.

I enjoyed the story, and making it a 70s sitcom in my head, but I wouldn't call it a Great Tale of Suspense. I must go look for another Washington Irving story, because I'm pretty sure he can do scary. This wasn't it. This was pretty funny, and maybe even on purpose.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BOOK: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I finished. I still have the little pit or knot in my stomach that I had during the whole reading. I can see why this book won the Pulitzer Prize for literature this year, and why it was an Oprah pick, with her usual depressing and dreary themes. But that makes it sound like I didn't like it, and I did, I liked it a lot.

I've been reading reviews of this book all year, and I know a lot of people have already read this book. So I knew about the strange punctuation and didn't notice it because I had been warned. In fact, in dewey's review at the nyt notable book review blog, she made an excellent analysis about how the level of discussion and punctuation varied directly with the hunger of the main characters.

Plot outline: A man and his son, never named, are travelling and surviving in a post apocalyptic America, summarized wonderfully by someone somewhere (I can't find who) as ash,ash,ash, forage,forage,forage, and then more ash, forage, sleep. This was very bleak, colorless, and depressing, and I just kept thinking: What would I do? How could people survive? Would you want to? And yet, I kept picking this back up, and I read it fairly quickly, in a few days. And every time, I was immediately transported to this terrible world, with 'bad guys' and cannibals, and fear, and survival. The father is doing everything he can, to survive and protect his son.

A few thoughts and questions:

- Plastic is not all bad, since it was one of the only things to survive. If there hadn't been plastic items for them to scavenge, they would not have found much
- What have the father and son been doing for all the years since the son was born? Have they been walking all this time? Have they met nobody safe in all this time?
- What happened to all the bullets in the gun? Because there were more than one, I believe, at some point.

caution: possible spoilers
Some thoughts which may be spoilerish, because I just went back and read all the reviews and discussions at nyt notable book blog

Were the people at the end good or bad?
I think there were a lot more good people around, and more survivors somewhere, but the father was too afraid to find them. He never tried to find if anyone they met was safe, he automatically suspected everyone. Quite rightly in most occasions, and people trying to survive have to do whatever they can, but the fact that he avoided everyone, I don't think he was ever going to find the good people. His son was more open and hopeful, and so, he would find the good people.

I did like the theory about the ending being the father's happy ending to a story - I hadn't thought of that and it is very interesting.

But there has to be more religious overtones to the story, because of the apocalypse ending of the world. How does God, and religion, continue in a world like that? Is there a place/need for it? And I think the book shows there is a need, we need to trust people, and good will triumph.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BOOK: Everything's Eventual by Stephen King

I haven't read a Stephen King book in a number of years, and this was a wonderful book to get back into the King mode. Look's like Lisey's Story will be coming up soon.I picked this book and read a short story a week, for Short Story Monday, and as a part of the RIP II challenge to read a short scary story on the weekend. I actually enjoyed reading just one story a week, in the beginning, and thinking about one at a time. I usually read the back end of a book much faster; as I get closer to the end and can feel the thin section left in my right hand, my reading automatically picks up. To review the last few stories in the book:

John Cusack was recently in the movie of the same name. I haven't seen it, but I imagine the movie quite altered the story. It is the classic 'haunted room' story in this collection, and it was super creepy. Mike Enslin is researching haunted hotel rooms for one of his tabloid style books. He wants to stay in Room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel in New York, but the manager doesn't want to let him. The manager recounts all the horrors that have taken place in the room, but the nonbelieving writer dismisses his claims. Then he enters the room. King lets your imagination take most of the heat, but he also describes, in too much detail, horrors that you couldn't imagine. Of course, that's why people always ask him: Where do you come up with this stuff?

Riding the Bullet
King writes: There comes a time in most lives when we must face the deaths of our loved ones as an actual reality. . . and by proxy, the fact of our own approaching death. This story is his response to this. He also uses a version of the classic monkey's paw story. After the creepy parts of riding in a car with a zombie - a great warning against hitchhiking - King closes the story with some nice philosphical musings on life, and its meanings.

Luckey Quarter
This was a sweet little story to end the collection, not really creepy at all. Unless I missed something, such as why lucky was spelled with an 'ey'

I've linked up the rest of the reviews from my Short Story Monday posts, mostly because I feel like I need to put all the reviews together. I'm compulsive like that. A place for everything and everything in its place, which is why science and math are so satisfying for me.
intro and Autopsy Room Four

The Man in the Black Suit

All That You Love Will Be Carried Away

The Death of Jack Hamilton

In the Deathroom

The Little Sisters of Eluria and Everything's Eventual

L.T.'s Theory of Pets, The Road Virus Heads North, Lunch at the Gotham Cafe, That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

UPDATE: Wednesday

Have you met my poppet Christie? I won her in the draw for the Once Upon a Time challenge during the summer, along with a set of Lord of the Rings bookmarks. Here she sits looking at the Stephen King book I'm just about finished for the RIP II challenge. This has been a wonderful challenge, with, I think, my favorite themes, as I keep finding more creepy books to read that take the place of books I meant to read.

Christie is named after Agatha Christie, a wonderful mystery writer. If you think she's a great writer, or at least a better writer than EB White, head on over to the book mine set and vote in the Great Wednesday Compare. I've got nothing against White, but Christie has such a collection of mysteries and stories that I don't think they compare at all. I read a Tommy and Tuppence book earlier this spring, and they were terrific role models for women's equality, as Tommy treated Tuppence as his equal, not the dumb chick along for the ride.

I finally got The Road from the library to read. I put my request in during July, and it has taken until now to get it. I was number 24 in line at one point. I hope it is good after waiting so long. It better be good, because it is a part of the dystopian challenge, the new york times notable book list, and it is a Pulitzer prize winner for 2007, so I will be able to cross it off three lists at once. It was also an Oprah pick during the summer, which may explain why it has become so popular at the library.

I see that The Gathering by Anne Enright has won the Man Booker Prize this year. Of the six that were shortlisted, I read two: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and On Chesil Beach. I bought The Gathering as the next one to read because I thought it looked good, in a bleak, Irish grief sort of way. And now it has won. I enjoyed both books, but was glad that they weren't any longer. Each of the two I read had a gimmick and it worked, but only for the slim volume that it was. But I still think about some aspects of both books, so they must have made an impact.

what I'm reading now: Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason (one extra challenge in the RIP II is to read Gleason's vampire novels with the chance to win the third edition which will be released this winter. )
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King (one more short story to go)

in the queue: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson and Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coello

I've been browsing around The Bookworms Carnival as well. Lots of great suggestions and read about spooky and creepy books for the Halloween season. My kids are going to be for Halloween the decidedly unscarychoices of: a nerd, Hannah Montana, and a unicorn. Pictures to follow after Halloween.

Monday, October 15, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: a small peril

from the Everything's Eventual collection by Stephen King

L.T.'s Theory of Pets
King says this is one of his favorite stories to read from at readings, because of the combinations of emotions that get played. It began with a Dear Abby letter, as many great conversations often do. The letter was about how you should never give a pet to someone as a present, for all the reasons you can imagine. The story follows what happens to one couple who give each other pets. It's told from a male/female, doomed marriage point of view, but suddenly, at the end, the mood changes, and bam! That's why it is in this collection.

The Road Virus Heads North
Supernatural creepiness, as a painting comes to life, like a terrible virus. What if a painting was like a virus, mutating and causing havoc in its wake? King also takes some time here to write autobiographically and slam at his critics, as his main character is a famous, horror writer from small town Maine who gets no respect, except from his fans. Where does he come up with this stuff?

Lunch at the Gotham Cafe
The fear here that is so scary, is, what if something completely random happens? What if you happen to be in a restaurant when a nut job goes crazy? Sometimes I go through phases where I watch a lot of crime drama on TV, the CSI's, the Law and Order's, Criminal Minds type of shows. Then they start to get too weird, too random, and too creepy as there are only so many murders by spouses that can happen before it's time for a random killing. And random killings are what can cause people to become irrationally afraid of statistically unlikely events.

That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French
A woman is having deja vu, on her way to a second honeymoon with her husband. There are secrets between her husband her and herself, and some tension between them on the ride. I liked this one a lot, and might go back and reread, because there was some more to his one, but I can't tell, because that would ruin the ending for you. There were some nice techniques in the writing, and I wasn't sure what exactly was going on, but it was a good ending.

john mutford is hosting Short Story Monday today, and he is getting into the Halloween spirit, reading a spooky story. If you've written a short story post, go on over there and comment and he'll put all the posts together. I'm just about done my Stephen King book - three more stories, and Fragile Things came in the mail last week.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

BOOK: Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Book to Movie Challenge (and maybe the 2nds Challenge if I get stuck)
I haven't seen this movie at all, and it has been made twice, once with Dick Powell in the forties, and once with Robert Mitchum (TV movie in the 1970s) as Philip Marlowe. I think I'd watch the Mitchum version myself. The book is a classic, starring the hardboiled detective Marlowe. Chandler is a great writer, but this once didn't grab me quite as much as The Big Sleep, but I wasn't as in the mood for this book as I've been too tired to read. Chandler has Marlowe so cool, so hip, it can be hard to follow what he says, and why. I don't try to make sense of the mystery, just go with the flow, and know that Marlowe knows what he is doing.
Marlowe was initially looking for somebody, and then got caught up in a jewelry theft, and ransom, and some rich dame, and crooked cops, and clunks on the head. (I find it hard to write normally, I immediately fall into the pattern of Bogart talking, in sparse, concise phrases)
It was a good read; several times I'd stop and reread a particularly cynical/funny phrase, and by the end, the mystery tied up really well. I would have enjoyed it more if I had been able to read it for an hour or two at a time, but I found I got 3 minutes segments before being interupted this week, too many children, and that made it hard to really get into the story. My bad, Mr Chandler; I'll still keep reading your work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MEME: Canadian Book Meme

Do you know your Giller from your Booker?
It's a Challenge and a Meme! How multipurpose is that?
Just copy and paste into your own blog, then highlight in red those you've read, highlight in blue authors you've read, just not that particular book, and leave the rest black.
I've bolded the ones I'm hoping to read in the Canadian Challenge. How many have you read?

Newfoundland and Labrador-
Cassie Brown- Death On The Ice (Non-fiction)
Lisa Moore- Open (Short Stories)
Lisa Moore- Alligator
Wayne Johnston- Colony of Unrequited Dreams
Al Pittman- Down By Jim Long’s Stage (Children’s poems)
Al Pittman- West Moon (play)
Harold Horwood- White Eskimo
Harold Horwood- Bartlett The Great Explorer (Non-fiction)
Michael Crummey- River Thieves
E. J. Pratt- Complete Poems (Poetry)
Mary Dalton- Merrybegot (Poetry)
Dillon Wallace- The Lure of The Labrador Wild
Kevin Major- Eh? To Zed (Children’s book)
Ted Russell- The Holdin’ Ground (play)
Percy Janes- House of Hate
Bud Davidge and Ian Wallace (Illustrator)- The Mummer’s Song (Children’s Book)
E. Annie Proulx- The Shipping News
Claire Mowat- Outport People (Non-fiction)
Donna Morrissey- Kit’s Law
Ken Babstock- Airstream Land Yacht (Poetry)
Bernice Morgan- Random Passage
Joan Clark- An Audience of Chairs
Earl B. Pilgrim- The Ghost of Ellen Dower
Dale Jarvis- Haunted Shores: True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador
Paul Butler- Easton
Edward Riche- Rare Birds
Kenneth J. Harvey- The Town That Forgot How To Breathe

Prince Edward Island-
Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
Stompin’ Tom and Brenda Jones (Illustrator)- The Hockey Song (Children’s Book)
David Helwig- Saltsea
Michael Hennessey- The Betrayer
J. J. Steinfeld- Would You Hide Me? (Short Stories)
Anne Compton- Processional (Poetry)
Milton Acorn- I Shout Love and Other Poems (Poetry)

Nova Scotia-
Frank Parker Day- Rockbound
Alistair MacLeod- Island (Short Stories)
Alistair MacLeod- No Great Mischief
George Elliott Clarke- Whylah Falls (Poetry)
Anne Simpson- Loop (Poetry)
Alden Nolan- The Best Of (Poetry)
Hugh MacLennan- The Watch That Ends The Night
Thomas Chandler Haliburton- The Clockmaker
Ernest Buckler- The Mountain and the Valley
Ann-Marie MacDonald- Fall On Your Knees
Linden MacIntyre- Causeway (Non-fiction)

New Brunswick-
David Adams Richards- Mercy Among The Children
Charles G. D. Roberts- The Collected Poems (Poetry)
T. G. Roberts- The Red Feathers
Donna Allard- Minago Streets (Poetry)
Linda Hall- Black Ice
Elisabeth Harvor- Fortress Of Chairs

Mordecai Richler- Barney’s Version
Gabrielle Roy- The Tin Flute
Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater (Children’s Book)
Markoosie- Harpoon of the Hunter
Michel Tremblay- The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant
Michel Tremblay- Forever Yours Marie-Lou (Play)
Saul Bellow- Humboldt’s Gift
Hubert Acquin- Next Episode
Heather O’Neill- Lullabies For Little Criminals
Gaetan Soucy- The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond Of Matches
Leonard Cohen- Beautiful Losers
Leonard Cohen- Let Us Compare Mythologies (Poetry)
Jacques Poulin- Volkswagen Blues
Yves Theriault- Agaguk
Mairuth Sarsfield- No Crystal Stair
Naomi Klein- No Logo (Non-fiction)
Irving Layton- Dance With Desire (Poems)
Stuart McLean- Stories From The Vinyl Café (Short Stories)
Yann Martel- Life of Pi
Romeo Dallaire- Shake Hands With The Devil (Non-fiction)
Gordon Korman- Island: Shipwreck (Young Adult)
Monique Proulx- The Heart Is An Involuntary Muscle

Margaret Atwood- Handmaid’s Tale
Robertson Davies- Fifth Business
Stephen Leacock- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Short Stories)
Alice Munro- Who Do You Think You Are? (Short Stories)
Timothy Findley- The Wars
Jane Urquhart- The Stone Carvers
Barbara Gowdy- White Bone
Joan Barfoot- Luck
Dennis Lee- Alligator Pie (Children’s Poems)
Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess (Children’s Book)
Michael Ondaatje- In The Skin Of A Lion
Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance
Al Purdy- Beyond Remembering (Poetry)
Farley Mowat- Never Cry Wolf
Joseph Boyden- Three Day Road
Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water
Austin Clarke- The Polished Hoe
Mary Lawson- Crow Lake
Matt Cohen- Elizabeth and After
Jon McCrae- In Flanders Fields (Poem)
Christian Bok- Eunoia (poetry)
Phoebe Gilman- Something From Nothing (Children’s Book)
Richard B. Wright- Clara Callan
M. G. Vassanji- The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
Vincent Lam- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Short stories)
Barbara Reid- Two By Two (Children’s Book)
David Bezmozgis- Natasha and Other Stories (Short Stories)
Morley Callaghan- More Joy In Heaven
Helen Humphries- Afterimage
Gordon Downie- Coke Machine Glow (Poetry)
Anne Michaels- Fugitive Pieces
Frances Itani- Deafening

Margaret Laurence- A Bird In The House (Short Stories)
Margaret Laurence- A Jest of God
Carol Shields- The Stone Diaries
Bill Richardson- Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast
Miriam Toews- A Complicated Kindness
Tomson Highway- The Rez Sisters (Play)
David Bergen- The Time In Between

Tim Lilburn- Kill-Site (Poetry)
Guy Vanderhaeghe- The Last Crossing
Guy Gavriel Kay- The Summer Tree
Sinclair Ross- As For Me and My House
W. O. Mitchell- Who Has Seen The Wind
Rudy Wiebe- The Temptations of Big Bear
Dianne Warren- Serpent In The Night Sky (play)
Sharon Butala- Lilac Moon (Non-fiction)
Paul Hiebert- Sarah Binks

Will Ferguson- Why I Hate Canadians (Nonfiction)
Earle Birney- One Muddy Hand (Poetry)
Thomas Wharton- Salamander
W. P. Kinsella- Shoeless Joe
Robert Kroetsch- The Studhorse Man
Katherine Govier- Three Views of Crystal Water
Christopher Wiseman- In John Updike’s Room (Poetry)
Anita Rau Badami- Can You Hear The Nightbird Call?

British Columbia-
Douglas Coupland- Generation X
Timothy Taylor- Stanley Park
Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing (Young Adult)
bpNichol- The Martyrology (Poetry)
Susan Musgrave- What The Small Day Cannot Hold (Poetry)
Michael Turner- Hard Core Logo
Joy Kogawa- Obasan
P.K. Page- Planet Earth (Poetry)
Anosh Irani- The Song of Kahunsha
Wayson Choy- The Jade Peony
John Gould- Kilter (Short stories)
Sheila Watson- The Double Hook
Gayla Reid- To Be There With You (Short stories)
Audrey Thomas- Coming Down From Wa
Kevin Chong- Baroque-a-Nova

Robert Service- The Best Of (Poetry)
Pierre Berton- The National Dream (Non-fiction)
Al Pope- Bad Latitudes
Dick North- The Mad Trapper of Rat River (Non-fiction)
Ted Harrison- Children of the Yukon (Children’s Book)
Pj Johnson- Rhymes of the Raven Lady (Poetry)
Jack London- Call of the Wild

Northwest Territories-
Mackay Jenkins- Bloody Falls of the Coppermine (nonfiction)
Richard Van Camp- Lesser Blessed
Robert Alexie- Pale Indian
Rene Fumoleau- Here I Sit (Poetry)
Steve Zipp- Yellowknife
Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights On Air
James Raffan- Emperor of The North (Non-fiction)

Michael Kusugak- Hide and Sneak (Children’s book)
Michael Kusugak- Curse of the Shaman (Young Adult)
James Houston- The White Dawn
Kevin Patterson- Consumption
Tom Lowenstein (translator)/ Knud Rasmussen (compiled by)- Eskimo Poems (Poetry)
Pierre Berton- The Arctic Grail (nonfiction)
John Bennett and Susan Rowley (Editors and compilers) Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut (Non-fiction)
Kenn Harper- Give Me My Father’s Body (Non-fiction)
Eric Wilson- The Inuk Mountie Adventure (Young Adult)
Robert Ruby- Unknown Shore (Non-fiction)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

AUTHOR: Bernice Morgan

I did something tonight I've never done before: I went to an author reading. It was pretty cool. I read in the paper this morning that Bernice Morgan would be reading from her book Cloud of Bone, which I loved this summer. I called my friend, who's from Newfoundland, and got the book back that I had lent her to read so I could take it tonight. It seemed like something I should do - to take the book with me.

The reading was at the Art Gallery at Confederation Center, a beautiful venue, and was sponsored by the English Department at UPEI. It was not a crowd I usually hobnob with - the literati and artsy folk of PEI were out tonight.
Bernice Morgan read from each of the three sections of the book, and put some history on the World War 2 section, as it was in memory of her uncles from Newfoundland who served in the Navy. She wanted their stories to be told - but said her remaining uncle made her promise to say that none of them ever deserted. She knew she was planning to write a war book, and then one day noticed from her writing office that the plaque in memory of Shawnadidthit had disappeared, and she was horrified. She found a way to write both these stories together.

She did a wonderful job reading, and I waited in line to get my book signed. I don't think many people attending had read the book as a lot were sold there tonight, so I wanted to let her know I had, and that I really enjoyed it. I didn't think to bring my Random Passage and Waiting for Time books to get signed, but other people did.

Apparently it is a whole author series, and they have regular readings. Who knew? Other authors to to appear include: Barbara Gowdy, Elizabeth Hay, Lawrence Hill , and a bunch of other authors I've never heard of. These other events will be at UPEI, which seems more exclusive, not as public. I'm sure anyone is welcome, but it doesn't feel as open.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

CHALLENGE: Decades Challenge 2008

Is it really time to think of 2008 already? I guess it is, as people are beginning to make their reading plans for next year. This is a nice one to do, and doesn't involve many more books than are already planned for with the Pulitzer Project and Reading the Bookers, two ongoing projects. I also like that it is flexible and can be changed along the way. 3M, hostess extraordinaire, is great like that.

The Decades Challenge Rules:
1. Read a minimum of 8 books in 8 consecutive decades in ‘08.
2. Books published in the 2000’s do not count.
3. Titles may be cross-posted with any other challenge.
4. You may change your list at any time.

My list looks something like this, as of now:

1990s - The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Pulitzer)
1980s - Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguru (Booker)
1970s - The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (YAC)
1960s - The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence (2nd Canadian)
1950s - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (African)
1940s - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Chunkster)
1930s - Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
1920s - Ukridge - P.G. Wodehouse
1910s -
1900s - The Call of the Wild by Jack London (Canadian)
1890s - The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Southern )

If you think this looks like fun, come on over to The Decades Blog and join the fun. There are lists and lists of suggestions, by decade. I managed 13 decades this year. If I manage to complete reading Les Miserables at livejournal in our group daily read-along, - it will take a full year, I'd be at the 1860s and I'm sure I'd try to find a few to take me back to that point. It would be shame to get that far back with a humongous read and not have it count for something.

Monday, October 8, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: a small peril

The Little Sisters of Eluria
Everything's Eventual
from the collection by Stephen King

October will be two-for-one for this collection of Stephen King stories as I want to get through it by Halloween, and for the RIP II challenge.

The Little Sisters of Eluria
And now I remember when I stopped reading Stephen King: The Dark Tower/Gunslinger era. I tried to read the first book, and could not read it. I didn't get the story - the setting, the characters, the quest. I can usually immerse myself in other worlds - Neverwhere by Gaiman, and Harry Potter's wizard world, but just like Middle Earth of Tolkien, King's Gunslinger doesn't work for me.
Unfortunately, Little Sisters of Eluria would be a prequel for the Gunslinger. I read it, it had vampires, it wasn't as incomprehensible as I remembered, but I'm still not planning to read The Dark Tower. There were some interesting concepts, like the doctor bugs, although I am getting a shiver just thinking of them again.

Everything's Eventual
What if you had the power to deal with bullies and bad guys? Just by making a suggestion or writing a letter, you had the ability to get rid of them? And who decides who the 'bad' guys are?
This is the interesting premise of the title story of this collection. Eventual means 'awesome' in the slang of the narrator. It becomes an interesting play on words. Certain people in the world have this ability, this trait, to cause deaths, and a multinational company hires them to deal with whomever they need to, after an extensive indoctrination at the company headquarters. In the tradition of great dystopian novels, our narrator begins to suspect something is wrong with this plan, but can he get out of it?

Am I hosting this week? Sure. If you have read and reviewed a short story on this Monday or weekend, provide a link in the comments and I'll put them together at the end of the day.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

BOOK: Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris

I was introduced to this murder mystery series during the Southern Reading Challenge. It used to be I only read these types of books: serial murders, with snappy, damaged, detectives of some sort. I had been through most of my series or lost interest in others when I got started into these crazy internet book reading challenges. This little series has piqued my interest again and has me reading a book not on any challenge list. Crazy times.

Anyway. This was a great read. Lily Bard lives in Shakespeare, Arkansas and works as a cleaner, shut off from living due to a terrible violent incident in her past. Murders happen, even in small towns, for all the same reasons they do in big cities, Miss Marple taught us all that. Standard issue mystery, just the type of book I wanted to read. Lily does seem to get more injuries, in fights and other incidents, that make her every move painful. She seems to get hurt, a lot. Poor Lily.

Harris also has a vampire series that I will have to look into. I am enjoying her writing.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

BOOK: The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland arrived in the mail with a pack of gum. How cool was that? Of course, anything to do with Coupland is cool, beginning with his beginning book, Generation X. He's Canadian, and he writes in a very readable humorous way. This is my fourth book this year of his, (Generation X, Hey Nostradamus!, and All Families are Pyschotic) and they have all been very different, but all good, full of quirky characters who are realistic and witty, and drunk like Steve and Gloria, characters in the story within the story of this book.

From the inside cover:

Meet Roger, a divorced, middle-aged “aisles associate” at a Staples outlet, condemned to restocking reams of twenty-lb. bond paper for the rest of his life. And then there’s Roger’s co-worker Bethany, who’s at the end of her Goth phase, and young enough to be looking at fifty more years of sorting the red pens from the blue in Aisle Six.
One day, Bethany comes across Roger’s notebook in the staff room. When she opens it up, she discovers that this old guy she’s never considered as quite human is writing mock diary entries pretending to be her–and spookily, he is getting her right. She also learns he has a tragedy in his past–and suddenly he no longer seems like just a paper-stocking robot with a name tag.

That's the plot, but there is a whole lot more happening too. It's about making friends 'anonymously' through writings, and how you reveal yourself more perhaps that way than you might in face to face conversation. I was thinking about blogs and chatrooms on line. It is about the difference in how you think between your twenties and your forties. Coupland, like myself is fortyish, and I recognize his wisdom: what you gain in perpsective in your forties is balanced by what hope you lose at the same time: "All the tea in China couldn't make me go through my twenties again, but at the same time I'm jealous that you have such a broad swath of life ahead of you."

The GumThief is full of Coupland's trademark cultural references, and they can be decidedly Canadian such as the mention of "skyrocketing cancer rates in the intensive potato farming areas of Prince Edward Island" during a rant about potato skins, which amused me. Not the cancer; the PEI reference. Coupland is promoting the book with some youtube videos he narrates, with only words from the book. Here's the one about Roger, where he has summed up his life in bullet form for Bethany.

One of the funnier characters was Roger, a cranky customer who turns up at Staples periodically, and proceeds to rant about anything. The employees take pleasure in having him go off on rants, and they can be pretty funny. They also touch on some serious things and some not so serious. Kind of like the whole book. These characters are on the fringe of society, trying to get along, looking for some love and friendship, dealing with all kinds of sadness that we usually can't see. Another great book; Coupland hasn't disappointed me yet.

Friday, October 5, 2007

CHALLENGE: The Canadian Book Challenge

This is a challenge I can not refuse. I read Canadian authors already, so a challenge to celebrate Canada? To show we have more authors than Margaret Atwood? Sorry Margaret, not a putdown of you - you're great, but so are so many others.

john mutford, from The Book Mine Set, is sponsoring this one, from now until July 1, 2008. That's our Canada Day, which is becoming more and more of a celebration. He wants us to read 13 books, and is giving away some allegedly famous prizes (to steal a phrase from CBC radio)

John has done a bunch of research, and has listed books by the author's province if you are interested in The White Stripes Way - Read a book from each of the 13 provinces and territories. I'm picking this one because I love the name the best. :) He has other options, like prize winning authors and books: look into the Giller prizes, I haven't read one of them yet I haven't enjoyed immensely, or obscure authors, or whatever you can come up with. I'd suggest some children's novels by Gordon Korman or Eric Wilson, but I am getting distracted.

From my list of books I've been meaning to read anyway, here is my potential list by province:

Newfoundland: Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston

Nova Scotia: Lost Salt Gift of Blood (short stories) - Alistair MacLeod

PEI: don't know yet, something local. I've a former student who published a book of poetry, and my great Aunt and mother are publishing a family heritage book this winter

New Brunswick: One More Step (YA) - Sheree Fitch

Quebec: Stories from the Vinyl Cafe - Stuart MacLean
Barney's Version - Mordecai Richler Giller Winner 1997
Shaking Hands with the Devil - Romeo Dollaire

Ontario: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures - Vincent Lam Giller Winner 2006
Crow Lake - Mary Lawson framed and booked is giving this one away!
Clara Callen - Richard B Wright Giller Winner 2001

Manitoba: Stone Diaries - Carol Shields Pulitzer Winner 1995
A Boy of Good Breeding - Miraim Toews
Bachelor Buttons Bed and Breakfast sequel - Bill Richardson

Saskatchewan: The Dog Who Wouldn't Be - Farley Mowatt

Alberta: Why I Hate Canadians - Will Fergeson

British Columbia: The Gum Thief, JPod, Eleanor Rigby, Microsefs - Douglas Coupland


Northwest Territories:

Nunavit: The Inuk Mountie Adventure - Eric Wilson*

Somewhere here in the territories, I should try to read a Pierre Berton book. There were 67 listed in the library. 67! Some are children's, some are Canada as a whole, but I feel I must read at least a Berton book for this challenge. Maybe 1967 - The Last Good Year, as that was the year I was born, Canada's centennial.

* Eric Wilson has a series of YA mysteries set all across Canada. You could do only Eric Wilson and cover the country.

May I suggest some of my family's favorite children's books, especially if you are looking for short easy books:

PEI: Stompin’ Tom and Brenda Jones (Illustrator)- The Hockey Song (Children’s Book)
NB: Sheree Fitch - Sleeping Dragons All Around, Monkeys in my Kitchen, Mabel Murple (Children's Books)
Quebec: Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater (Children’s Book)
Ontario: Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess (Children’s Book) + so many others
Dennis Lee - Aligator Pie (Poetry)
Saskatchewan: Farley Mowatt - Owls in the Family (read aloud/chapter book)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

Do you have “issues” with too much profanity or overly explicit (ahem) “romantic” scenes in books? Or do you take them in stride? Have issues like these ever caused you to close a book? Or do you go looking for more exactly like them? (grin)

I don't have issues with profanity or 'romantic' scenes in books; I don't even notice them as objectionable. I could finish a book and not notice profanity at all; romantic scenes? They can be good sometimes. I know around work, we passed the "Scottish sex books" - Outlander series by Diana Gabaldron and the "prehistoric sex books" - The Clan of the Cave Bear books by Jean Auel, from person to person, so not only didn't I mind, I recommended.

I've always read books that were 'older' than I was. I can remember passing around Judy Blume's racy teenager book - Forever while in grade six, and I've been a huge Stephen King fan since I was a teenager, and he certainly doesn't edit his words.

UPDATE: Decades Challenge

I think I first met 3M through this challenge, and I thought it was such a neat idea. Read books published in consecutive decades. I called it 15books/15decades orginally, but I think I'm stopping at 13 decades, which is pretty good. I had Jane Eyre from the 1840s as well, but I really can't see getting the three missing decades read to meet up with Jane. I combined this one with other challenges, as Michelle allowed, and having the two Classics Challenges - January and summer- really helped me get through the early years.

2000s American Gods, Neil Gaiman (chunkster challenge)
1990s The Gun Seller, Hugh Laurie
1980s The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynn Reid Banks (Banned Book Challenge)
1970s Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
1960s A Wrinkle in Time, Madelaine L'Engle (classic challenge)
1950s Night, Elie Wiesel (Reading Across Borders Challenge)
1940s The Stranger, Albert Camus (Reading Across Borders Challenge)
1930s The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
1920s Partners in Crime, Agatha Christie
1910s O Pioneers!, Willa Cather (summer classics challenge)
1900s Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (summer classics challenge)
1890s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (top 50_books list, summer classics challenge)
1880s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (classic challenge)

What a great bunch of books I read for this challenge. The Picture of Dorian Gray would be my least favorite, but now I've read it and I am glad I got through it. I think I would prefer a biography of Wilde instead.

There were some great children's books, Newbery winners in fact, and some great mysteries, my default genre of books to read, and they are good even from the olden days.
Best book: American Gods and The Gun Seller
Thanks Michelle, see you next year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

ETC: BAFABW give aways galore

framed over at framed and booked is jumping into the Buy a Friend a Book Week with both feet. She is planning to give away three books that all look rather interesting. I can't decide which one I want so I'm going to try for all three and increase my odds. She is asking for a little something in return: book suggestions. Here are her guidelines:

- she wants suggestions for the Decades Challenge if 3M hosts again, or probably if she doesn't because it was a fun challenge, and makes you read outside of your preferred decade

- she wants suggestions for Booking Around the States. I think she has a few already, but more suggestions are always appreciated

- how about a good Christmas story to get in the Christmas spirit?

- or any old good book you've read, with a link to your rave review

The books that framed apparently bought twice accidentally - which is an interesting premise in the first place, include:

  • Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

  • The Oak Leaves by Maureen Lang

  • By the Lake by John McGahern

None of these are familiar to me, but all sound very interesting, with a fall-ish sounding theme. I want a new book! So head on over there and try for a book too. But don't try too hard. I want a book.

MEME: Unread book list

from Courtney at Once Upon a Bookshelf and 3M at

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users (as of today).
As usual, bold what you have read, [I'm adding in blue books I've read this year ]
italicise that you started but couldn’t finish,
and strike through what you couldn’t stand.
Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once.
Underline those on your to-read list.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The name of the rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The historian : a novel
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clockwork orange
Anansi boys
The once and future king
The grapes of wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & demons
The inferno
The satanic verses
Sense and sensibility
The picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s travels
Les misérables reading now
The corrections
The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
The prince
The sound and the fury
Angela’s ashes : a memoir
The god of small things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
A confederacy of dunces
A short history of nearly everything
The unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an Inquiry into Values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The three musketeers

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

UPDATE: September Reads

It's been a struggle to get reading in, with back to school and all, but some good books have helped and some review books in the mail have changed my reading plans. Thanks randomhouse.
I tried to immerse myself in the RIP II challenge for fall, and did very well, reading all four of my books; just a few short stories to keep in the mood, and start on some new challenges, like the Seconds Challenge and the Book to Movie Challenge. A few more books to finish the NYT Notable Books challenge, and The Road (I'm at 5 of 16 in the library queue, I started at 24!) for complete the Dystopian Challenge. Things are looking good; well, except for that pile of physics labs over there, looking at me, wanting ot be corrected.

Total Books: 10

Challenge Books:
RIP II: 4 books
Something About Me Challenge: 1
Classics Challenge: 1 and COMPLETED

Best Book: Neverwhere

Best New Series: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Gleason
New Authors: Gleason, Feynman, Setterfield, McEwan, Swift, Shriver

The List:
105. The Rest Falls Away - Colleen Gleason
104. Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman - Richard P Feynman
103. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
102. On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
101. Other Colors - Orhan Pamuk
100. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
99. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
98. Among the Shadows - LM Montgomery
97. Tomorrow - Graham Swift
96. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver

BOOK: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

How cute is this book? A classic fairy tale, narrated wonderfully, being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread.
This was the Newbery Award winner from 2004, and I would think it is destined to be a classic book.
I loved the narration, as the Reader is spoken to during the story in the tradition of The Princess Bride, warning that bad things are coming, and advising looking up a word like 'perfidy'* as it comes along.

I chose this book for the Something About Me Challenge as recommended by booklogged, and she has chosen wonderfully.

She said in chosing it: Sometimes I feel the size of a mouse trying to conquer problems that are so much bigger than me. My tools seem silly and inefficient, sort of like Despereaux's needle and thread. And sometimes my goals are not realistic in the same way that Despereaux had his heart set on marrying the princess.
I think this sums up the book better than I could. Also, I bought a copy of the book today so we will have one here in the house. I can't just return it to the library and not have a copy if I need some uplifting and hopeful reading. And my children must read this.

*perfidy: a breach of faith

Monday, October 1, 2007

SHORT STORY MONDAY: a small peril

I'm hosting Short Story Monday again, so please feel free to leave a link to a review you've written of a short story in the comments. I'll collect them all together at the end of the day. I'm continuing my reviewing and slow reading of Stephen King's Everything's Eventual.
I didn't get squares baked for any visitors to Short Story Monday; my grade twelve physics tests got corrected instead. (I can't even pretend lie on the internet about imaginary baking)

In the Deathroom by Stephen King
I am struck by how much I am enjoying this collection of King's. His writing is so wonderful and easy. This one had quite a bit of suspense, as we begin with Fletcher, under guard and beaten up, entering a room that he is sure is a deathroom, his deathroom. It's not clear why he is here, if he is a good guy or a bad guy, or even where this is located. Gradually, it is revealed that this deathroom is in a police station of sorts, in a South American/Central American country. King makes great use of repetition here, reinforcing important facts and sentences, as if by repeating the phrase, Fletcher can tell us twice as much, when he only really says half as much.

King can turn a phrase and set an image: He thought of the light on the water at noon, moving river light too bright to look at. Later, Fletcher tries to focus during his torture on images, not memories, as memories are too difficult. Oh yes, there is torture here, and gory descriptions of what exactly goes on when a bullet rips a face or a person is electrocuted. I am reading King after all. King calls In the Deathroom "a Kafka-esque story about an interrogation in a South American version of hell." Makes me wonder if I'm ready for Kafka.

If I hope to finish this book before October 31, I'm going to have to step it up and read several stories each weekend. That is one of the things I like about short stories: that a collection of stories provides an atmosphere, and although the stories are not connected per se, a good collection has a feel, a theme running through them, and it is all the stories together that make up the experience.

So, feel free to share any short stories you are reading. John Mutford at The Book Mine Set is hosting a Bookworms Carnival in November with a short story theme and is looking for submissions.

Other Short Story Monday participants:

john mutford read A Small Good Thing by Raymond Carver

stephanie read more Neil Gaiman stories from Fragile Things