Friday, February 29, 2008

UPDATE: February books and Challenges

Books Bought/Received:

Terry by Douglas Coupland
All in Together Girls by Kate Sutherland
Bleeds the Dusk by Colleen Gleason
Northanger Abbey (it was a really pretty edition!)
The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space by Jim Lebans
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee

Books Read
28. Black Swan Green - David Mitchell
27. The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space - Jim Lebans
26. Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
25. Silence of the Grave - Arnaldur Indridason
24. All in Together Girls - Kate Sutherland
23. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things - Carolyn Mackler
22. Atonement - Ian McEwan
21. So Long, Jackie Robinson - Nancy Russell
20. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
19. Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - Alan Alda
18. Lorelei - Lori Derby Bingley
17. Shakespeare's Counselor - Charlaine Harris
16. Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell
15. Booked to Die - John Dunning

Challenge Update for February

Themed Reading Challenge Jan - June 2008
finished, read 8/8 First category in the 888 completed

Hometown Challenge Nov '07 - March 1, 2008
read 2/1, this month, completed

Book Award Challenge July 1 2007 - June 30, 2008
read 17/12, but I have 2 more that I want to read before I consider this done

Canadian Book Challenge - Oct '07 - July 1 '08
read 8; still Nfld, Alta, BC, Yukon, NWT to go.

Series Challenge Dec 1 - June 30, 2008
finished the Lily Bard mysteries
but I only have one more to read in 2 series: Shopaholic, Gardella Vampire Chronicles.

A - Zed Author and Titles Challenge all year 2008
read 18/52; still a long way to go obviously

decades challenge - all year 2008
only 1, haven't begun thinking of this one yet

in their shoes - all year 2008

Cardathon Challenge - all year 2008

What's in a Name? all year 2008
2/6; first name and color

YAC books all year 2008

Man Booker Challenge all year 2008
2/6 although I might make this all short listed books since I own six, which means 1/6

notable books 2007 - all year 2008

In the Pub - all year 2008

mini-challenges 2008

chunkster challenge 2

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

First reaction: the ABC's of heroines

Anne of Green Gables: she makes the best of her bad situations, has tremendous imagination, and stays true to herself and her friends.

Bridget Jones: also makes the best of bad situations; willing to try anything; still growing and learning from her mistakes; even though she's attracted to the bad boy, she choses the stable good guy

Claire Randall: up for an adventure, brave, adaptable, Jamie loves her

Then, I knew there were more, a second tier, of worthy but not as obvious choices:

Pope Joan: wanted to learn so disguised herself as a boy, and then due to her character and strength and intelligence, rose to be Pope

Tuppence of Tommy and Tuppence: she's an equal partner with Tommy, and uses her brain and brawn to solve the crime,

Lyra from His Dark Materials: uses her brain and trusts her instincts to take her on the right path

Then the names I saw after blog browsing that I had forgotten:

Jane Eyre, for all the reasons everybody else put down

Hermione Granger: she's an equal part of Harry's gang, and uses her brain and logic to solve their problems, she believes in herself

hmmm, wonder what next week's question will be? My hero?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BOOK: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

what's in a name challenge, colour category; notable books 2007

1982, Black Swan, England. This novel spends a year in Jason Taylor's life as he navigates the uneasy age of thirteen, and if you've forgotten how horrible thirteen year old are, this book will slam it back to you. Thirteen year old girls are awful, I know from living it, and this book exposed that boys are just as bad. Jason, our narrator has many sides, most notably a poet. Eliot Bolivar is his alias as it wouldn't do to have the other lads aware that Jason writes poetry, he'd be a poof. The language and slang of Worcestershire County in the early 1980s takes a bit to understand, but it works, and Mitchell has captured the voice of his narrator perfectly. It helps that I remember being 14 in 1982, and the Falklands War. I imagine all early teenagers get a world event that helps define their life, that time when you begin to see the whole world and your place in it, and how larger events than your house, your community are important.

And it was the poetry of the writing that I loved in this book. The images and phrases captured my attention. Jason has a way of describing things perfectly, by a simile or even their sound.

A classic LP was playing. Nothing like the rumpty-tump-tump stuff Mr Kempsey plays in Music. Jealous and sweet, this music was, sobbing and gorgeous, muddy and crystal. But if the right words existed the music wouldn't need to.

Themes of secrets run through this, but it isn't obvious how much until the end. The lesson by their teacher about secrets was my favorite passage in the book. Oh, to be able to teach a lesson so well! Secret clubs, phone calls, speech impediments, parents, all powerful secrets. And then there were the bullies. Trying to fit in and wanting the approval of the popular boys makes those kids the prey of bullies. So this is also about courage, and doing the right thing. A lot of stuff happens in this novel, too much to mention, but it will be swilling around in my head for a while.

The writing, and the characters, and the poetry make this an excellent book. A bildungromans. (I had to look that up one day) This made the long list for the Man Booker in 2006, but not the shortlist?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday. Where are you?

Reading takes us so many places. Yesterday I was talking to a student of mine from Sri Lanka and was able to tell him about a book I read, Reef, set during the civil war, and how beautiful Sri Lanka seemed. I knew a little about his country, and that helped make a connection.

Today, I am in Black Swan, England, circa 1982, and learning what it is like for a 13 year old boy to face puberty and the world, with the Falklands War as the backdrop. I am loving this book, as the narrator is very funny, in that way 13 year old boys can be, trying to fit in, and dealing with issues that are important to him, in the rough and tumble hierarchy of teenagers.

Where is reading taking you today?

Monday, February 25, 2008

BOOK: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

In the Pub '08

What if you were in an accident and woke up 3 years later? Only, not really 3 years later, but 3 years earlier in your life? Lexi Smart, a twenty-eight year old Londoner wakes up and discovers she isn't the person she thought she was. Lexi, like Becky the Shopaholic, is a little too obsessed with money and looks, but now she has them and she isn't quite sure how she got them. This book is her discovery of who she has become in the past three years, and getting to know the people in her life and her new high powered job.

Kinsella hasn't lost her touch, and I quite enjoyed this book. I find the Shopaholic series a little too silly sometimes, but Lexi is more realistic. The Undomestic Goddess was very good and funny, but the setup was a little contrived. I think she's got it altogether here. Kinsella does a great job with the plot, giving a few details here and there, interesting characters and then wrapping it all up. The process poor Lexi goes through in trying to remember her life, and wondering who to believe, as she must rely on others to tell her about her life. And many people take this opportunity to tell her the way they probably wish things were, which doesn't help her recover her real life.

This has the makings of a great romantic comedy- I can see Hugh Grant or Colin Firth as one of the men, maybe Jennifer Garner as Lexie, and the plot would unfold humorously. You read it here first!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

BOOK: Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space by Jim Lebans

The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space by Jim Lebans
42 Questions (and Answers) About Life, The Universe, and Everything

Science Book Challenge

If you are lucky enough to get CBC radio, you probably already know about Quirks and Quarks, the science show on Saturdays. Host Bob MacDonald explains all the newest scientific discoveries, in everyday language and with humor. I was very excited to see this book released, and it is going to have a prominent place on my desk at school. During physics classes, the most amazing questions can be asked, and I don't know the answer to many of them, astronomy not being my strong suit. I may even start reading a chapter out loud every day or so, because this is the stuff that people want to know.

To give you an idea of the tone of the book, which is very readable, the opening quote is from Douglas Adams, "Space is big. Really big....." Lebans, a producer with the Quirks and Quarks show, tackles 42 questions and then answers them. Where does space begin? (100km above Earth) Can I run fast and jump into orbit? (theoretically, but not really) What moons are worth visiting? ( Jupiter's Europa, and Saturn's Titan might be very interesting) and How fast are we moving through space? (it's all relative to what else is moving, but pretty fast)

Lebans does a great job of explaining why Pluto isn't a planet anymore, and what might happen if you fell into a black hole, which involves 'spaghettifying.' I first heard that phrase when watching 'A Brief History of Time,' the documentary based on Stephen Hawking's book of the same name. I am not up to date enough to know if everything is accurate, but since science changes so rapidly, I'll assume it is good for now. I plan to reread some of the Big Bang Theory questions later, and I hope I'll be lending this out to those inquisitive students who love physics.

CHALLENGE: Science Book Challenge

There's another challenge I hope to participate in, the Science Book Challenge, hosted by Bearcastle.

Here are The Rules to the challenge:

1. Read three nonfiction books this year related to the theme "Living a Rational Life", broadly construed. Each book should have something to do with science, how science operates, or science's relationship with its surrounding culture. The books might be popularizations of science, they might be history, they might be biography, they might be anthologies.
2. After you've read it, write a short note about the book; 500 words would suffice. What goes in the note? The things you would tell a friend if you wanted to convince said friend to read it, too. Naturally, you can read some of the existing
Book Notes for ideas.Don't worry if you find that you've read a book someone else has also read; we welcome multiple notes on one title.
3. Get your book note to me and I'll post it with the other Book Notes in that section at
Science Besieged.
4.Tell two other people about The Science-Book Challenge.
I'm not completely sure what books I'll read, but as a science teacher, I should be reading science books, so I'll think of this as a bit of professional development, as well as a reading challenge.
Book List:
2. The Planets - Dava Sobel
3. The Trouble With Physics - Lee Smolin

Saturday, February 23, 2008

BOOK: Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridson

Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason
translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

a Reykjavik Murder Mystery
winner of the CWA Gold Dagger 2005

He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it. And away we go on a murder mystery in Iceland that kept me reading, as all good mysteries should. The bone the baby was chewing leads to a body in a shallow grave, found in a construction site of a newly developed area outside of Reykjavik. Erlendur, one of the detectives in charge of this cold case, is sad and depressed and dealing with his comatose drug addicted daughter at the same time. His story was just as interesting as the mystery.

There are two possibilities for the crime that the detectives are following, and one of them is a horrific case of domestic violence. We follow that story simultaneously, much like an episode of Cold Case, and it is quite depressing, but the atmosphere is written very well, as the weather and the landscape are described to perfectly match the story. I had to keep turning to find out what happened, wondering how it would end.

I liked the history of Iceland, the setting itself, the detectives, the red herrings, the suspense, pretty much everything. If you like mysteries, this would be a good read.

Friday, February 22, 2008

CHALLENGE: Hometown Challenge Update

Callista had a great idea to read a book either set in your hometown, or written by someone from your hometown, between November 1, 2007 and March 1, 2008. I picked two books:

1. So Long, Jackie Robinson by Nancy Russell young adult
2. Lorelei by Lori Derby Bingley romance

I read an extra one, but they were also Canadian books, natch, so I didn't mind. My son also read So Long, Jackie Robinson, and liked it so much, we bought another book by Nancy Russell, Rink of Dreams for him to read as well. Any book that keeps a ten year old boy reading, has to be a good thing. A very good thing.

hey! Did you notice? Spellcheck is back.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

Paperbacks. I have small hands and hardcover are harder to hold. And I am very nearsighted, so when I read in bed, without my glasses, I have to hold the book very close to my eyes, and paperbacks are much easier for this reason. Have you ever dropped a hardcover on your face? No fun.

The only advantage to hardcover is that they are released first. I concede they are prettier, but only the ones with the cloth actually covered. I don't find the dust cover helps much and I always remove it to read the book, and then my book looks all anonymous and like I am trying to hide what I am reading. And I then I have piles of dustcovers flopping around the floor of my bedroom. But hardcovers look nicer on a shelf.

So, it's softcover to read, and hardcover to look at on shelves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CHALLENGE: Themed Reading Wrap-up

Themed Reading Challenge sponsored by wendy at caribousmom

The challenge was to read at least 4 books, with a theme chosen individually. I decided to read books about books. Not too imaginative, but there were a few books I was very interested in reading, and who knows better about books than writers. I also decided to use this as a category for the 888 challenge, which means 8 books about books. The list I originally made had well over 8, so I didn't run out of options.

The List of Books

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Case of the Missing Books by Iam Sansom
Housekeeping vs the Dirt by Nick Hornby NF
84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff NF
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Ex-Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman NF
Booked to Die by John Dunning
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi NF
a few I'd still to read
The Bookseller of Kabul
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Literary Murder: A Critical Case by Batya Gur
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

1. What things did you enjoy the most about this challenge?
I liked the choice of picking your own theme, whatever you saw as the theme in your head or on your bookshelf . I liked that I balanced fiction and nonfiction. Plus, it was Wendy hosting.

2. What were your favorite reads? Least favorite?
They were all very good. The driest was Reading Lolita in Tehran, a nonfiction memoir. The Book Thief and 84 Charing Cross Road were both very good, and I always love Nick Hornby, but The Eyre Affair was the funnest and my favorite. It gets bonus marks for being the first in a series, and using Jane Eyre as a major plot device.

3. Would you do this one again if it were offered next year?
I certainly would!

4. Anything you'd change about the challenge?
Nope, it was a good time of year, a good number of books, and lots of choice. Thanks Wendy! I think I was first to finish.

BOOK: All in Together Girls by Kate Sutherland

All in Together Girls by Kate Sutherland

short story challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge: Saskatchewan

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories by Kate, who happens to be hosting the short story challenge over here. The girl knows short stories. And these stories are all about girls - young, teens, young women, and their mothers. There was a familiarity to the voice in many of the tales. What I liked about these were snippets that stayed with me because they rang so true. I was driving the other day trying to remember where I'd read about a girl writing in a diary, how she was dismissed as someone who only wrote about the present, not the future. What book was that? Gradually, I remembered the story it came from("The Story of Her Life.") I expect there will be more little scenes replayed in my mind, like the dinner party from "Aerial View of a Dinner Party."

"Making Love While the Kettle Boils" was my favorite story, which surprised me. I'm not usually a fan of the love at first sight, wild passionate love stories. I hated Romeo and Juliet in high school because I thought it was stupid, not romantic, to kill yourself over someone you've just met. I'm more logical, even tempered, would rather ride the train than the roller coaster. However, every now and then, I get it. I see it portrayed in a way that makes sense to me. The English Patient movie is the one that stands out to me, but this short story did it for me as well. The crossword clues progressively changed as the tenor of the relationship changed, and then crashed, because for some reason, these romantic love affairs have to end tragically to be considered a true love affair. That is my problem with those love stories. But, as I read this one, I believed, and I really liked it.

I think I'll keep this little collection and revisit it from time to time. Thanks, Kate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BOOK: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Young Adult Challenge, mini challenge # 4 (read a banned book)
You can't read the title of this book and not be intrigued. It's a quick little read that will make you glad you aren't a teenager anymore. I think of this book as chick-lit for teens.

from the back cover:

Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on theWeb, snarfs junk food, and obeys the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." Then there are the other Shreveses: Mom is an exercise fiend and adolescent psychologist; Dad, when not jet-setting, or golfing in Connecticut, ogles skinny women on TV; and older siblings Byron and Anais are slim, brillian and impossible to live up to.

Delete Virginia and the Shreveses are a picture perfect family... until a phone call changes everything.

It was an eye opener to remember how self conscious and self absorbed teenagers are, even though I work with them everyday. The first part of the book was a little slow as I wanted to shake Virginia and her family as things seemed a little exaggerated. But I would guess there are teenagers who feel like everyone is looking at them and are critical of them. And I liked Virginia, and her growth as she begins to question how perfect everyone is. As an adult, I know they aren't perfect but it's Virginia who thinks they are. Her gradual awakening is done nicely, if somewhat quickly. And that is part of growing up: realizing that you can only control your own thoughts and behaviours and not letting other opinions or perceived opinions affect you. Did the popular people suddenly notice Virginia, or did she stop feeling like they didn't notice her and was open to talking to them? Once her opinion of herself changed, so did the response of other people.
The novel deals with some big issues including a good job on body image, but also touching on self hurting, date rape, eating disorders, and cliques in school. Many young adult novels I've read recently include different technology to get information across, and this novel includes emails and text messages. And yet the same old angst is there, teenagers, and their thoughts and their parents. Oh, and I wanted to slap the mother, adolescent psychologist indeed!

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

I've seen this idea over at librarything, and I enjoy reading it. I thought I might try to make it a Tuesday habit. So, I am wondering, where are you now?

I'll start. I'm suffering teenage angst and poor body image issues on the Earth with my butt and other large round things.

Where have you been today? Or where are you going?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

BOOK: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Book Awards Reading Challenge: NBCC 2002 winner, Man Booker Challenge (shortlist 2001)

If I am going to see clips at the Academy Awards ceremony about this movie, I want to know what the book is about without the ending being given away. This is also a book from the shortlisted books of the Man Booker Prize.

From the cover:
On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.

I copied the plot summary from the cover because I don't want to give anything away. I've been carefully avoiding reviews of this book for the past few months so as not to know anything I shouldn't know. All I knew was that it had 'an ending'. And I loved the ending. I won't say any more than that, but I know some people who were disappointed by the ending.

There are three sections to this book: 1934 when the event occurs, Robbie's trek across France during the war, and Briony in present day. I found the war section went on a little too long, but other wise, I sped through this book, reading great chunks at a time and anxious to find out how it ended. McEwan writes great prose, builds suspence, but a little too much with the colours and descriptions at times, but the story moved along nicely, and I've enjoyed my time in prewar England this weekend. It feels good to read a book I've been meaning to read for quite a while, and that it didn't disappoint.

Friday, February 15, 2008

BOOK: So Long, Jackie Robinson by Nancy Russell

So Long, Jackie Robinson by Nancy Russell
hometown challenge, young adult challenge
I read this on the recommendation of my ten year old son. I gave him this book for Christmas as he's a real sports nut, and the book was written by an Islander. My Jack loves baseball, so this book about the year Jackie Robinson spent in Montreal before breaking into the majors in 1947 was perfect for him. It had lots of baseball, a little history and a story about fitting in when you feel or look different.
Matthew has just moved to Montreal after his mother has remarried, doesn't speak French, and has no friends. As he finds the ball stadium, and follows Jackie Robinson's entry into the majors, he begins to make some friends, learn about racism, and adjust to the changes in his life. I thought this was a good book, well written, and enjoyable. I just bought Russell's other young adult book for my son, Rink of Dreams.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BOOK: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

in their shoes challenge, themed reading challenge

Isn't it interesting how, even if you don't plan it, the books you read go in themes? Reading Reading Lolita in Tehran so soon after Persepolis makes me feel I have just taken a course in Iranian women and the effect of the revolution on their lives. And it certainly makes me appreciate my freedoms and the rights we have to think and live and dream in North America. Added to the Iranian history are the books discussed in Reading: Lolita, The Great Gatsby, Jane Austen's, and Henry James, all of which I have read in just the past year or so (except James').

in 1995, Nafisi started a small discussion group with a few young women after she was fired from her University job as English Literature professor. In the safety of her home they discussed, argued, and dreamed. Nafisi's book is divided into four sections: Lolita, Gatsby, James and Austen, and each section uses those books and authors to parallel and support her discussion of life during the revolution.

There were parts of the books I really liked, most notably the direction comparisons in Austen's books to their lives, and her student's trials and tribulations. There were a lot of big themes and ideas: modern novel, revolution, reformers, democracy, imagination and some sections I am sure my eyes read over but my brain did not comprehend. Nafisi is into 'real literature' and her references and allusions went over my head on many occassions. Her passion and honesty and intelligence come through, and it was a good book, but it was a hard read in that the ideas take some thought and when my poor brain was getting tired, the book dragged. But when I would pick it up full of energy, I would enjoy it. Luckily it was broken into little chapters within the sections, making it easier to pick up and put down.

Here's an interesting post written by doppleganger at 50 books about the famous cover of Reading Lolita in Tehran. I think that post was where I first got the inkling to want to read this book. (I hope I credited that article and post alright)

ps: I need my spellcheck and soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CHALLENGE: mini challenge #6

One of the mini challenges for the Novel Challenge Group is to read two articles from a magazine, and then write a review. I started a new subscription to Canadian Living and was planning to use that, but there are barely articles in it! That's actually alright, because I got it mostly for the recipes and I'm enjoying them, but with the diminishing attention spans of the general population, and mine in particular, there is nothing there I could even dare to call an article.

Then I noticed that several of the reviews at The Novel Challenge have been about online magazines. And reading articles online goes much better with my blog hopping and pathetic attention span. So I looked in my Favorites File for a magazine I was sure I had saved there: Babble the magazine and community for a new generation of parents. I subscribed to Today's Parent when my children were very young, and the tone always made me feel I was a different, slacker kind of parent. So when I browsed today at Babble, I was pleased to read a few different articles that are more to my parenting style. I ended up reading most of the newer articles, and enjoyed myself.

The Over-Parenting Crisis by Katie Allison Granju was written by the author of Attachment Parenting. I wasn't much of a family-bed, breastfeed til they are toddlers type of mom, major tenents of attachment parenting. But the author goes on to say that the line between meeting all your child's needs and anticipating, or catering has gone too far. And that parents need to let their children grow, make mistakes and experience success and failure on their own terms. The safety, bubble-wrap environment provided to children does them no favors.

Dating Games by Emily Mendell was much more humorous, as a family looks for another family to hang out with, in dating style. I could see the logic in this, because it is fun to have another family to do things with, one where the kids get along, the dads are pals and the moms enjoy each other. It's a gradual process meeting a like minded family, and not dissimilar to dating.

There were all types of articles from Steve Carell's take on parenting, to best books, and TV show reviews, and parenting styles and advice. I haven't spent a lot of time there, but I'm sure I fit their demographic, and it is an interactive site, with forums and columns and articles.

Monday, February 11, 2008

BOOK: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda

in their shoes challenge

Like most people, I've always liked Alan Alda, and this memoir does nothing to change that view, if anything, my opinion of him has risen. What an interesting life he has lead, from growing up in vaudeville and burlesque, to his success in MASH and movies, to campaigning for the ERA (which I can vaguely recall. He and Phil Donahue have the same feminist, intelligent, humorous vibe. I wonder if Phil has written a book?) Alda seems so intelligent, and the book is his life journey to make sense of his strange childhood with a mentally ill mother, to how to deal with his questions and insecurities.

It was amazing that someone with a such disjointed childhood would be able to have one wife, happily married, and provide a stable childhood for his own daughters. There is a picture in the book of a newspaper article from the Toronto Daily Star of 1938, at two, smoking a pipe, and hamming it up. His parents had no compunction of using him to help promote their show. The media has changed so much, as children of stars today would not be able to grow up in the relative anonymity that Alda did.
I enjoyed his insights into acting and the steps he took to become a very good actor. He has always been a writer, of jokes, scripts, plays, and now books. I recently saw him on The Hour with George Stepanopolous and his sincerity and humor in real life are written into the book. This is a man who feels he was born to entertain, and this book does that, very nicely.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

BOOK: Lorelei by Lori Derby Bingley

Lorelei by Lori Derby Bingley

Hometown challenge, Canadian Book Challenge: PEI entry

I chose this book because it is set on Prince Edward Island and because it was written by someone from my hometown, so it worked for two challenges. It was a romance, possibly a paranormal romance of which I'm not really sure what that means, but there was a spirit guiding the romance of the heroine. Romances aren't my type of genre to be honest, so I was looking for other factors for my enjoyment. I was a little distracted by the girl and her family because they were so similar to the author's family, - three girls, two boys, father an accountant; I think I knew too much about the author, having gone to school with her brother.

The main character, Amanda's life is like most little girls growing up in Sherwood. The descriptions of the neighbourhood, schools, and town were like being there, because I have been! The proper names of restaurants, streets, and businesses were exactly right, but somewhat distracting because I went to Stonepark, I've eaten in The Golden Wok, and I live blocks fron the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Amanda grows up from a young girl to become a novelist, fights against the man she meets and truly loves, and it takes a spirit who is trying to redeem her own past actions to try and get them together.

And although they were distracting, I enjoyed the mentions of local places. It's a little bit of history for anyone who grew up in Sherwood during the eighties. The romance part of the book was good, but predictable as I find most romance novels are. The element of supernatural, and the twists and turns in the plot were good, but if you aren't a fan of romance books, I'd avoid this one.

MEME: Page 123

I was tagged by gautami tripathy and marg for this particular meme.

The rules of this particular meme are:
1). Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
2). Open the book to page 123
3). Find the fifth sentence
4). Post the next three sentences
5). Tag five people

I had The North Shore of Home by Frank Ledwell out the other night and never got it put away, so it is handy to me here on the computer. And I am going to cheat a bit, because the first sentence on the page is the one I was looking up, because it refers to my husband's family. I should describe this book a bit. Ledwell, a former poet laureate on PEI, is from the same little community as my husband, and also taught us both an English course at university. This book of essays and poems all relate to his hometown.

Here's the line, legitimately from page 123, but not the fifth sentence:

He began doing a mental census of the community , starting at the Midgell bridge and moving east along the highway. There was old Lester and then John and Mary MacAulay - their brother Archie marrying late, just escaped the fate by a whisker - and Ben and Joe and Marion MacInnis; he even counted in Leo and Tina Smith who, althought married, he figured were too late getting there to have children, and the same with Watson and his missus, and so forth. He had already counted two dozen bachelors and a dozen spinsters when he stopped.

This passage is from the story Jimmy Paddy Charlie, which refers to the habit of people in eastern PEI of calling people by their first name, followed by their father and grandfather's name, in order to keep straight family lines and people with the same last names. It's no wonder people knew who all were related in the oder days, they were called by three generations everyday.

I tag whoever wants to play, and especially anyone who hasn't done a meme before. This is an easy one to try for your first one.

BOOK: Shakespeare's Counselor by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Counselor by Charlaine Harris

series challenge

The last book in the Lily Bard mysteries has Lily beginning to deal openly with her past attack and attending group counselling for rape survivors. Strange things begin happening to the group leader, who is new in town. But with all these books, the story is more about Lily and her recovery, and Harris has her characterization done perfectly. I've enjoyed reading Lily's progression and sad as it is to say, it is OK for this series to end. Lily will be alright.

And this makes my first series that I've completed. Sadly, I only just started this one last summer during the Southern Reading Challenge, and I've read all five books. I say sadly because there are many other series I haven't even looked at in that time. Time to get focused. I hope to finish another series (Shopaholic and Baby) and then read another book in a few more. I've got a couple other books I am working on right now that I don't seem to be ripping through. Normally that doesn't bother me, but these challenges with their lists of great books to come make me resent a book that goes too slowly.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

BOOKING THROUGH THURSDAY: But enough about books...

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

I am discovering as I age, that I can only sustain one hobby at a time: I have cross-stitched, then crocheted, then I was scrapbooking, then I took up running, and now I am reading. It's not that I only do one thing at a time, but one activity gets my focus. I have always read but not with the ferocity that I am now, and I still make cards occassionally, - quicker than scrapbooking. But one hobby seems to take over my life at a time.

I don't seem to have a lot of other time, what with three kids and a full time job. And unfortunately, my job require me to work at home, correcting blasted tests and physics labs and making up tests and review sheets. I watch TV and play on the computer - blogging, Webkinz, games. I can do both at the same time since our computer is in the same room as the television, so that's handy. The writer's strike is helping with my TV watching, but I still watch quite a bit. I like The Amazing Race, Survivor, Supernanny, Lost, Law &Order, SVU, A Daily Show, Ed's Up, House, American Idol, Criminal Minds (but it is almost too creepy, I can't watch without doing something else to distract me). And shhhh, don't tell anyone, but I'll watch Big Brother, although I think it's a summer show, I'm not sure if I can do it in the winter. Shows I like that aren't on right now: The Office, Brothers and Sisters, Grey's Anatomy, Cold Case.

Monday, February 4, 2008

BOOK: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Young Adult Challenge, more Somthing About Me, Newbery Award Winner

Young Adult novels can be such a satisfying read. They cover interesting topics in a slightly less intense method. This lovely story about Karena, the girl living alone on her island, was easy to read, and yet still powerful. O'Dell's writing was sparse but still conveyed all the emotions of a young girl struggling to survive. This reminded me of Robinson Crusoe, but emminently more readable. I was also reminded of Shawnadithit, from Cloud of Bone, but only after I read the afterword, of how this was based on a true story.

Again, with so many of these older children's classics, I wonder, why I didn't read this when I was younger? It is a quiet book and I might not have appreciated it when I was younger. I could see reading this as a class novel, with lots of survival discussions and projects. Karena stayed so level headed, and dealt with her situation with such calm and intelligence, she makes a great role model.

Juli chose this for the Something About Me Challenge because: When I would play alone outside I would always pretend that I was alone on an island surviving with what skills I had. I would act out scenes from the book over and over. I also checked this book out from the library over and over.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

BOOK: Booked to Die by John Dunning

Booked to Die by John Dunning

themed reading challenge, another something about me

Great mystery, starring Cliff Janeway, ex-cop and now book dealer, set in Denver. It took me a while to get into the book, because the first half of the book was necessary to set up the series - Janeway changing from cop to book store owner. Once the second act started, the mystery moved along solidly as Janeway looks to solve the murder of a bookscout, and learns the ropes of owning a store. It had the feel of a thirties hard-boiled mystery, where many things were happening and people's motives were just out of my understanding. I still enjoy these types of books, but I just ride the wave until the end and hope I'm not too confused. I'll look for more of these, since his romantic future seems up in the air, and he seems like a man looking for love, as well as his next big book find.

I'm sure I said I wasn't going to start anymore series, and here I am, with two started in the last two weeks - Thursday Next, and Cliff Janeway. New rule: I must finish at least one series before I read another of these books, or any more new series. I have the last Lily Bard book from the library, and I bought the lastest Shopaholic book last month.

This book was recommended by Bonnie for the Something About Me challenge. I'm still trying to read books from that list.

also reviewed by kristi