Wednesday, December 31, 2008

LIST: Books Read in 2008

Here's the numbers and the lists. (Last year's totals are in parenthesis, I'm remarkably consistent!)

Titles in green were my favorite reads.

total books: 132 -I'm not including some very short books, including some graphic novels, or the book I didn't finish, but sometimes they get included in other stats (131 )
average per month: 10.9 (10.9)

Fiction: 115 (117)
Nonfiction: 20 (14)
books for Around the World in 80 books: 17 (24)
books for Booking the 50 States: 7 (11)
Pulitzers: 2 this year + 8 previous = 10
Bookers: 6 this year + 5 previous = 11
Canadian: 18
new to me authors: 100 (76)
short story collections: 3 (7)
mystery: 16 (17)
young adult/children: 21(22)

Challenges Completed: I completed 38 challenges and didn't get 2 finished at all. Here's my list of them:
Year of Reading Dangerously - on haitus
It's the End of the World - DNF
decades challenge - done
Winter Holiday Reading Challenge - done
Japanese Literature Challenge - done
What an Animal! - done
A - Zed Author and Titles Challenge - done
888 Challenge - done
A Well-Rounded Challenge - done
2nds Challenge - done
RIP III - done
Books to Movies - done
Science Book Challenge - done
Nonfiction Five 2008 - done
mini-challenges 2008 done
African Reading Challenge - done
Cardathon Challenge - done
Orbis Terrarum Challenge - done
Graphics Novel Challenge - done
notable books 2007 - done
July Book Blowout - done
in their shoes - done
342745 Ways to Herd Cats - done
chunkster challenge 2 - done
Southern Reading Challenge 2008 - done
Heard It Through the Grapevine - done
In the Pub - done
Once Upon a Time II -done
novellas challenge - done
Canadian Book Challenge - done
Series Challenge - done
Man Booker Challenge - done
Book Award Challenge - done
What's in a Name? - done
Austen Mini-Challenge - done
YAC books - done
Themed Reading Challenge - done
Hometown Challenge -done
The Eponymous Challenge - done

The Book List:
132. Lisey's Story - Stephen King
131. Ukridge - PG Wodehouse
130. Voices - Arnaldur Indridason
The Christmas Shoes - Donna Van Liere
129. After Dark - Haruki Murakami
128. The Camel Bookmobile - Masha Hamilton
Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block
127. Heart and Soul - Maeve Binchy
126. The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories - ed by Alberto Manguel SS
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston DNF
125. Montmorency - Eleanor Updale
124. Gentlemen of the Road - Michael Chabon
123. The Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry
122. The Xibalba Murders - Lyn Hamilton
121. Too Close to Home - Linwood Barclay
The Scream - Rohinton Mistry
120. Drive Like Hell - Dallas Hudgens
119. All She Was Worth - Miyuki Miyabe
The Borden Tragedy - Rick Geary (graphic novel) NF
118. Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
117. The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan
116. People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
115. High Spirits - Robertson Davies SS
114. Shiloh - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
113. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
112. When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson
111. Miss Julia Hits the Road - Ann B Ross
110. Who Killed Palomino Molero? - Mario Vargas Llosa
109. A Complicated Kindness - Miriam Toews
108. Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith
107. A Pale View of Hills - Kazou Ishiguro
106. The Trouble with Physics - Lee Smolin NF
105. Creepers - Joanne Dahme
104. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
103. The View from Saturday - EL Konisburg
102. Last Orders - Graham Swift
101. Exit Lines - Joan Barfoot
100. The Plague - Albert Camus
99. Rain Song - Alice J. Wisler
98. Flying Too High - Kerry Greenwood
97. The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence
96. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler
95. The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
94. The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields
93. Speaker for the Dead - Orson Scott Card
92. Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
91. Mama Makes Up Her Mind - Bailey White NF
90. Before Green Gables - Budge Wilson
Pedro and Me - Judd Winick NF
89. The Birth House - Ami MacKay
88. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
87. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - Kate Summerscale NF
86. Pretties - Scott Westerfeld
85. A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz
84. Maus I and II - Art Spiegelman NF
83. The Planets - Dava Sobel NF
82. Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs NF
81. The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot
80. Crow Lake - Mary Lawson
79. The Night Watch - Sarah Waters
78. The Snack Thief - Andrea Camilleri
77. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
76. Miss Julia Throws a Wedding - Ann B Ross
75. Hotel du Lac - Anita Brookner
74. Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill
American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang
73. Mudbound - Hillary Jordan
72. A Case of Exploding Mangoes - Mohammed Hanif
71. A Long Way Gone - Ishmael Beah NF
The Complete Fairy Tales - Oscar Wilde
70. The Awakening - Kate Chopin
69. The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway
68. Shadow Family - Miyuki Miyabe
67. The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
66. How to be a Canadian - Will and Ian Ferguson NF
65. The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith
64. The Interloper - Antoine Wilson
63. In the Country of Men - Hisham Matar
62. A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest J Gaines
61. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson NF
60. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
59. 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa - Stephanie Nolen NF
58. The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler
57. The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
56. Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips
55. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
54. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
53. The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier
52. The Outcast - Sadie Jones
51. The Gathering - Anne Enright
50. Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
49. The Chatham School Affair - Thomas H Cook
48. This Blinding Absence of Light - Tahar Ben Jelloun
47. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
46. The Ravine - Paul Quarrington
45. Latitudes of Melt - Joan Clark
44. Beauty - Robin McKinley
43. Miss Julia Takes Over - Ann B Ross
42. Maniac Magee - Jerry Spinelli
41. Yellowknife - Steve Zipp
40. Zel - Donna Jo Napoli
39. The Bleeding Dusk - Colleen Gleason
38. Vegan Virgin Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
37. Lost in a Good Book - Jasper Fforde
36. Princess Academy - Shannon Hale
35. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
34. Shopaholic and Baby - Sophie Kinsella
33. The Terra-Cotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri
32. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn
31. Life and Times of Michael K - JM Coetzee
30. The End of East - Jen Sookfong Lee
29. Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons - Lorna Landvik
28. Black Swan Green - David Mitchell
27. The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space - Jim Lebans NF
26. Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
25. Silence of the Grave - Arnaldur Indridason
24. All in Together Girls - Kate Sutherland SS
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 NF
19. Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - Alan Alda NF
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
14. Persepolis 1,and 2 - Marjane Satrapi NF
13. Ex Libris - Anne Fadiman NF
12. House of Meetings - Martin Amis
11. The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
10. Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
9. The Case of the Missing Books - Ian Sansom
8. Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris
7. The Remains of the Day - Kazou Ishiguro
6. 84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff NF
5. The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak
4. Housekeeping vs The Dirt - Nick Hornby NF
3. Brainiac - Ken Jennings NF
2. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - E.L. Konisburg
1. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz - Mordecai Richler

BOOK: Lisey's Story by Stephen King

Lisey's Story by Stephen King, 656 pages

book awards: Bram Stoker, 2006; genre: horror

I haven't read a King book in quite a while, but this one was great and a reminder how great a story teller he is. All the usual King stuff is here: Castle Rock, Maine setting, writer character, catch phrases repeated, and a peak into the dark side of a world we don't see. This book is also about sisters and the special relationships that can exist in families.

Scott Landon was a famous writer who died. Two years later, his widow is having difficulty moving on, but part of that is because Scott has a job for her to complete and it involves saving her sister. The amazing world King has developed, over there, where we all go to the pool - for ideas, for words, for life-giving force, helps explain how crazy could be. It's pretty scary and so well explained that I almost believe this could happen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

The last 'where are you' in 2008. I hope everyone is ending off with a fantabulous book and looking forward to another year of reading together. I've gotten so many great ideas of books to read as I hang out with a bunch of great readers who read the most interesting books. Thanks to everyone who played along this year; I've enjoyed meeting so many new people and reading all the new blogs. If you've been lurking, why not play along today?

I am in Maine and my dead husband, a famous writer, appears to be haunting me. Bool! (Lisey's Story, Stephen King) Where is reading taking you today? Leave a note in the comments, and feel free to post on your own blog.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


For those of you who felt too much "pressure" with the TBR challenge, Jenn has created another option for you. The TBR Lite Challenge for 2009 is designed to get readers to read from their TBR mountains.
You have your choice of ONE of the 3 options:
OPTION A: read 6 books in 12 months ~ your list of books CANNOT be changed, but you are allowed to have an “Alternates” list to choose from (like in the Original TBR Challenge).

This is a challenge that looked much too intimidating to me over the years, but the 'lite' version may be just right. I usually put these books on lists for other challenges but they never get read, so if they get put on a challenge, maybe that will help. I'm going with the locked in version, because I really want to read these books, but I hold out no hope of actually completing this challenge.

Books I've bought but haven't read in about a year:

  1. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell Jan 24/09

  2. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl Oct 18/09

  3. Then We Came to the End Joshua Ferris May 12/09

  4. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant Aug 23/09

  5. With No One as a Witness by Elizabeth George

  6. Lost Highway by David Adams Richards

alternates: (books from the generous blogosphere)

Captain Corelli's Mandolin from bethany
The Sister by Poppy Adams, from Trish July 2/09
Oak Leaves from framed
The Last Single Girl in America from bookfool
A Conspiracy of Papers from bybee
The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong from Becky

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BOOK: Ukridge by P.G. Wodehouse

Ukridge by P.G. Wodehouse, 255 pages

unread authors; decades: 1920s

While more famous for his Jeeves and Bertie characters, Ukridge is another of Wodehouse's humorous characters cavorting in the early part of the 20th century in England. I picked this one solely to complete the decades challenge; I hated the thought of only missing the 1920s to get 8 in a row and complete the challenge. I put this on order at the library and they had to bring it up form the basement storage. Turns out to be probably from the 1920s itself, if I judge by the dates stamped in the back of this book on the old fashioned card, beginning in 1938.

Ukridge appears to be a series of short stories put together into his adventures in money making. Ever the optimist, Ukridge rolls around town looking to make easy money and instead, getting himself and his friends into scrapes. Nothing ever works out the way he hopes, but to his friend, the narrator, maddeningly, Ukridge usually ends up smelling like a rose.

Amusing little read but not my particular brand of laugh out loud funny. I recognize the classicness of the stories, and fans of British humor and P.G. Wodehouse will be delighted. And I finished the last challenge of 2008 that I hoped to.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CHALLENGE: Orbis Terrarum Challenge update

1) What did you like about the challenge?
-I loved the map which kept track of our countries visited.
-I liked that it was country of author's origin which determined the country, not just setting. It added an extra level of difficulty for me.

2) What would you like to see change for next year?
Nothing, it was a blast.

3) About the rules, or the non-existent rules...did you like that?
What are you talking about? There were rules, tons of rules!
Read 9 books, link books, read more books, look up author's nationality, write a meme, whew - you kept me busy!

4) Are you going to join us next year?

5) Pretty please give me any suggestions for changes, the betterment of the challenge, or just anything that you would like to see changed for next year.
Honestly Bethany, it was lots of fun, and you don't need to do more. I won a book, I read great books from around the world. Time length was good, I wouldn't want to commit to more books, 9 was plenty for me.

6) Would you like the challenge to be more involved? What if we read books together sometimes? Would that interest you?
It doesn't have to be more involved unless you are looking for more work.
Read together? Depends on the book and the time and if all the planets are aligned for me.

7) Would you be interested in helping somehow next year? How would you like to help?
Possibly, but again, it may depend on planetary alignment...

The list of my books, I added a few that I finished after I 'officially' finished:

  1. The Plague - Albert Camus (Algeria)
  2. A Case of Exploding Mangoes - Mohammad Hanif (Pakistan)
  3. Who Killed Palimino Molero? - Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
  4. This Blinding Absense of Light - Ben Jelloun, Tahar (Morocco)
  5. In the Country of Men - Hisham Matar (Libya)
  6. The Secret Scriptures - Sebastian Barry (Ireland)
  7. A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz (Australia)
  8. Shadow Family - Miyuki Miyabe (Japan)
  9. The Snack Thief - Andrea Camilleri (Italy)
  10. Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones (New Zealand)
  11. Things Fall Apart - Chiua Achebe (Nigeria)
  12. Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson (Norway)
  13. Voices - Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

We were well storm stayed yesterday. Lots of snow and big winds kept visibility to a minimum. Seems like almost all of North America got walloped the last few days. Mother Nature making us all stay inside and read and eat too much.

I just started Ukridge by PG Wodehouse, but I'm not sure if it will keep my attention. Ukridge is a gentlemen in London who seems to be trying to make some money but I have a feeling it won't work out. He's trying to live the high life but doesn't actually have any money.

Where is reading taking you today?

Monday, December 22, 2008

BOOK: Voices by Arnaldur Indridason

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason, 344 pages
translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

genre challenge: detective

My second read in the Reykjavik Thriller series, but definitely not my last. The Draining Lake is next and I think a new one is being released this spring, Arctic Chill.

Detective Erlunder is back investigating the death of a hotel doorman, killed in his Santa suit. As with all good mystery series, the detectives, including Erlunder, Elinborg, and Sigurdur Oli, are as interesting as the mystery itself. Erlunder is the classic cop - alone, miserable, and fighting crime to avoid fighting his own demons. This case brings up more from his past, and his daughter Eva Lind is back, pushing him, and in his face, trying to make him face the decisions he has made with his family. He seems to be on the verge of a break through. The development of the main characters, plus the bleak Icelandic setting make this a great series to read.
Appropriately, and entirely accidentally, I read this at Christmas time. Set the week before Christmas, Erlunder doesn't want to go home and all his detectives are worrying about getting home in time and getting everything done more than finishing the case. There wasn't as much emphasis on Elinborg or Sigurdur Oli in this book, hopefully there will be more in the next one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

CHALLENGE: Winter Holiday Reading Challenge

Jan at bookinhand has been hosting a Winter Holiday Reading Challenge. I like to pick a few seasonal reads coming into December so I signed up to read for this challenge.

"Dave Cooks the Turkey" by Stuart McLean, 22 pages

Classic hilarious short story by Stuart McLean. Dave from the Vinyl Cafe tries to help his wife Morley achieve the perfect Christmas by offering to do his share, and then, in classic Dave mode, forgetting. The rest of the story is Dave trying to cover up his forgetfulness. It's better to read this one after hearing McLean read it to get the perfect pauses and inflections that make these stories classic Canadian comedies.

The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories, edited by Alberto Manguel, 317 pages

I reviewed this book of short stories here on my blog. Lots of great authors from around the world.

"The Christmas Shoes" by Donna Van Liere, 109 pages

I confess to not knowing the song that this book is based on. Not my usual type of book, pretty sentimental and corny, but I shed a tear or two, as expected, even if you can see the ending from the beginning.

I have Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark to read. I may get around to reading it some day when I am really tired and need and easy book to read. I read one of her Christmas stories last year. I think it is neat that she writes books specifically for Christmas each year. Nice tradition for her fans to enjoy.

I also just noticed the next book I started, Voices by Arnaldur Indridason is set the week before Christmas in Iceland and begins with a man in a Santa suit getting murdered. I didn't even plan it and I'm reading another Christmas-y book.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

BOOK: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

After Dark by Haruki Murakami, 191 pages
Japanese Literature Challenge, unread author, Dewey's books
Perspective. Memory. Sleep. Things that occur during the night in Tokyo connected with two sisters, Mari and Eri. I'm still not sure if I liked this book.
The story of Mari is more concrete and easy to follow. She meets up with a friend of her sister's, Takahashi, and they talk. She helps a stranger, and meets up with Takahashi again. We get to know more of Mari and her plans and thoughts. Eri is sleeping through the night and there is some funky third person point of view, but like a camera, observing her. The narration is observing itself observing Eri. It gets very abstract with Eri and I still don't quite understand her connection to another character, the business man who perpetrated a crime.
I liked the story as I read it, but the ending didn't answer anything for me. I didn't understand the purpose of some of the perspective. I didn't mind during the reading, but I needed a bit more payoff in the end for suspending my understanding. I liked Murakami's prose and it had beautiful imagery and ideas about sleep and memory, and the feeling of menace that subtley developed, but ultimately I just didn't get it.
There was a section where a character refers to the movie Love Story, which I found funny because he completely missed the ending and what the story was about, but liked it enough to retell the plot. Ironic, isn't it?

Friday, December 19, 2008

CHALLENGE: Themed Reading Challenge

Wendy, caribousmom, is again hosting the themed reading challenge, where reader's pick four to six books of a theme of their choosing. This was one of my favorite challenges last year, reading books about books and I had some spectacular reads.
The dates are: February 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009

I am going to read epistolary [An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used] novels. I always enjoy them when I read them, like 84 Charing Cross Road, Bridget Jones, and Jaclyn Moriarity's other book, The Year of Secret Assignments. Here's a list of books in the library that fit this category

Unless I change my mind and come up with a complete new theme. It could happen.
Other possible themes include:

  • books I've bought for my children

  • catching up on a series like Miss Julia, #1 Ladies Detective, Insp Lynley

  • books I've won from other bloggers

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BLOGGING: Book Bloggers Christmas Swap

I got home from a long day of entertaining teenagers as they think "we shouldn't be doing anything so close to Christmas, and if we aren't doing anything then we shouldn't be there" type of circular logic to find a package for me. I took no thought of not opening it and ripped right into it. Yah, it was from my Secret Santa, Molly at Restless Reader. Molly must have been browsing around here, because she picked out perfect gifts for me, better than I might have myself. I love that Molly lives in New York City, and I imagine her strolling around some neat little store in the Big Apple picking out something for me.

Can you see what I got? I got the book Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez, a delightful looking nonfiction memoir; two bookmarks - one is called book jewelry; a small notepad which looks homemade, made of book covers; and a short story called "The Drawer" by Aleksandar Hemon. It is a little pamphlet, individually published. I think more short stories should be published like this. It looks so old-fashioned! Very cool!

So thank you to Molly, you picked perfectly. I know it isn't easy to buy for someone you don't know, but you hit it perfectly. Merry Christmas to you, and thank you to Nymeth, and of course Dewey, for bringing us all together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BOOK: The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, 309 pages

What an Animal! challenge; Kenya around the world

(review is an homage to bookfool)
Is this a boring old nonfiction account of bringing books to the outskirts of Kenya?
No, not at all. I wasn't sure what I thought this would be about, but it wasn't boring at all. Hamilton based the novel on a true event of bringing literacy on camels to the rural areas of Kenya, but the story is really about the people and the relationships during a short time period.

What book did this remind you of?
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency has the same sort of feel, of way of life in Africa, of feeling like not much happens, when there is so much below the surface. In some ways, not much happens: a bookmobile that visits a nomadic community returns to find 2 books have been lost. The community needs to find the books for several reasons. But the relationships, motives, and behaviors of the characters are so much more than they seem.

Who are the characters?
The American, the Librarian, the Teacher, the Girl, the Grandmother, the Teacher's Wife, the Drum Maker, and Scar Boy. Each chapter is named for one of the characters, but it is all told in third person. I was surprised at how quickly each character came to life with a whole back story, with hopes and thoughts and decisions. Not all are likable, but like people everywhere, they have their reasons.

Good ending?
Not a happily ever after ending, but certainly realistic.

Where did you hear of this book?
I wish I could remember the person, but it was online. Somebody wrote a review last year and it was the first I'd heard of it and it sounded wonderful. I ordered it and then looked at it on my shelf for far too long.

Big lessons or themes?
Change is difficult, the constant battle between old customs and new ideas, progress versus tradition, finding love, looking for adventure, the importance of literacy and learning.

Who would like this book?
People interested in learning more about African culture, books about books, and slow-paced, character driven books.

Did you say this review had something to do with bookfool?
I thought I could mimic her humorous, self-questioning book review style, but I added no humor and could hardly come up with any questions. I have even more admiration for her great reivews now. Maybe I don't talk to myself as much as I thought I did? Or I am not as interesting as I thought I was?

also reviewed by Robin and Alison

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

Only 9 more sleeps! The little people are getting excited here. We went to a Christmas Brunch at the local hotel yesterday, with a great Santa, and tons of amazing food. It has turned into an annual tradition for us to get dressed up and take my parents and the children to the all you can eat buffet. The girls, 5 and 8, ate like birds - waffle, piece of watermelon, four Jellos, and a Pogo, but the 11 year old boy is understanding the concept of all-you-can-eat and he ate his fair share. I never ate another thing after we got home until breakfast the next day.
Reading wise, I am in Kenya, travelling with the camel bookmobile and getting to know the people of Mididima, one of the stops on the route. (The Camel Bookmobile, Masha Hamilton)
Where is reading taking you today?

Monday, December 15, 2008

CHALLENGE: Dewey's Books

Dewey had such good taste in books, and I kept wanting to read books she reviewed. Except the knititng books. I'm not much of a knitter. Chris and Robin are hosting a reading challenge occuring for next year, picking books from Dewey's archive, and some mini challenges coming up as well associated with the challenge and drawing on Dewey's community building. Check out the challenge blog for all the details.

There are two options:

1. Pick one book from each of the 6 years that Dewey has archives of. You can access her archives by clicking on the archive link in the sidebar of her website. It’s a dropdown menu. For instance, you would read one book that she reviewed in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 for a total of six books.
2. The other option is to read 5 books that Dewey reviewed. These can be from any year and I’m guessing that each of us has at least 5 books on our TBR list because of Dewey!

I was going to look at the past years, but before I finished reading her books from 2008 I already had a good list. I'll pick option 2 and read at least 5 of these, linked to dewey's reviews:

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
Remembering the Bones by Frances Itapi : my review here Feb 28/09
Looking for Alaska by John Green: my review here Mar 21/09
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: my review here Mar 7/09
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: my review here Apr 25/09
After Dark by Haruki Murakami :my review here Dec 20/08
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: my review here Mar 25/09
The Sister by Poppy Adams my review here June 30/09
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff; my review here Nov 04/09

*edit (Nov 2009) The links aren't going to Dewey's site anymore. I can still read her reviews on my Google Reader if I search for them. It's harder then, to find the books that Dewey read and reviewed.*

plus books she didn't review, but read:

Paper Towns by John Green
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

and I might include The Elegance of the Hedgehog, her last currently reading book. reviewed here Aug 21/09

In the last year, Dewey and I read 8 books the same. Seeing her list was very familiar.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

CHALLENGE: Young Adult Challenge 2009

Guidelines for 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge hosted by J Kaye Books this year, taking over from Joy.
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. (Click here to join!)
2. Read 12 Young Adult novels. You may list your chosen books any time during the year. Change the list if needed.
3. Challenge begins January thru December, 2009.
4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.

Here is my list of books I might get to:

2. Looking for Alaska - John Green
3. Book of 1000 Days - Shannon Hale
4. Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
5. Specials - Scott Westerfield
6. Just Listen - Sarah Dressen
7. Twisted - Laurie Halse Anderson
8. 13 Reasons Why - Jay Asher
9. City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau + the sequels
- The People of Sparks - Jeanne DuPrau
10. Stargirl/The Library Card - Jerry Spinelli
11. Last Days of Summer - Steve Kluger
12. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
13. Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging - Louise Rennison
14. Skellig - David Almond
15. Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

Saturday, December 13, 2008

BOOK: Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, 109 pages

genre: young adult

What a sweet little fairy tale! Well, modern fairy tale, with Weetzie, a decidedly eccentric LA teen and Dirk, her gay best friend, out looking for Ducks (boyfriends.) They aren't battling ogres and dragons, but separated parents and AIDS. Not wolves and bears, but the club scene and babies. Not witches and, no wait, there are witches in the book, and genies and wishes that come true.

It is young adult in the true sense, as Weetzie and Dirk are in their twenties, although they met in high school. The writing style is very fairy tale, with no descriptions, just events occurring, and then this next event happens. The plot jumps from major event to major event as Weetzie learns what makes her happy and how to live happily ever after. Having the book set in Los Angeles and Hollywood lends to the unrealness of their life.

[Secret Agent Lover Man] kissed her.

A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.

I was quite enchanted.

BOOK: Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy, 452 pages

genre challenge: romance

Fiction or non-fiction? fiction

What led you to pick up this book? I love Maeve Binchy, and it is her newest release. A staff member at school brought it in and I scooped it right up.

Summarize the plot, but don't give away the ending!
Following the lives and loves of the staff of a cardiac clinic in Dublin, Ireland.

What did you like most about the book? What did you like least?
I loved that characters from many of Binchy's other books were in this one. It gives an update on some characters from Evening Class, Scarlett Feather, Quentins, Whitethorn Hills and Nights of Rain and Stars.
The characters are realistic, modern people that fight with their family, have good friends, and hope for a better life and love.
That was only a problem in that it has been many years since I've read some of the books. It isn't necessary to know all the back story, but it provides a sense of remembrance. There are so many characters that if feels a bit like a series of short, interconnected stories. I would just get to know a character and then their part of the story was done.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books? I've read all of Binchy's books, she's one of my favorite authors.

What did you think of the main character? I guess Clare was the main character. She was strong in her job and inspired loyalty, but didn't get along with her daughters. Fiona was also a main character and she was also a wonder woman type, everyone loved her and she knew how to deal with everyone, but was fighting some internal battles.

Any other particularly interesting characters?
The twins, Maud and Simon are quite amusing and I foresee a story of their own soon.

Share a favorite scene from the book. The wedding at the end, with all the characters.

What about the ending? Aw, wonderful ending all tied up with all the characters. You don't read Maeve Binchy to have the characters end up unhappy.

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?
If you haven't read any Binchy, I wouldn't start with this one. Evening Class, Whitethorn Hills and Nights of Rain and Stars are more stand-alone stories and would be what I would recommend. If you've read Binchy before, I don't have to tell you to read this one. You've already got it.
I would recommend Binchy to fans of LM Montgomery. They both set a location and character so well, with star-crossed lovers, pride and honor getting in the way, and then pretty much perfect, idealized endings. I get the same sense of comfort reading both authors.

Friday, December 12, 2008

BOOK: Christmas Stories edited by Alberto Manguel

Christmas Stories edited by Alberto Manguel

Winter Holiday Reading Challenge hosted by bookinhand

A collection of short stories, from around the world, by some very well known authors. Writers like John Cheever, Mavis Gallant, Graham Greene, Alistair MacLeod, Alice Munro, Vladimir Nabokov, Jeanette Winterson. Pretty impressive crowd. And the countries represented? Japan, Nicaragua, Canada, Germany, Ukraine, Argentina, England, USA, Australia.

Like most collections, some stories resonated with me more, others I skipped. Not all were explicity Christmas and I liked the world view. I'm not sure I often 'get' short stories, and a few didn't tie up enough to satisfy, but all in all, enough good ones to enjoy, if not remember, since the book has been returned to the library.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CHALLENGE: Celebrate the Author

Becky is hosting a Celebrate the Author challenge. The plan is to read 12 books, one per month, by an author who has a birthday in that month. There are links to find who was born when at places like:

or Google will probably work. I know we aren't allowed to read ahead, but we can catch up if we fall behind. I'll come back to this post and update as books are read.

Here's a list of potentials:



Penelope Lively Moon Tiger

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Beverly Cleary Dear Mr Henshaw
Anne Michaels Fugitive Pieces

Jodi Picoult Nineteen Minutes

Sarah Dessen Keeping the Moon

Alice Munro - The View From Castle Rock

Sarah Dunant - In the Company of the Courtesan
Robertson Davies - Fifth Business

Andrea Camilleri - Patience of the Spider

Marish Pessl - Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Charlaine Harris - Dead Until Dark

Elizabeth Berg - The Art of Mending

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CHALLENGE: Orange January

I will probably join Jill and the rest of the gang for a read in Orange January. This project asks readers to read at least one book which won or was nominated for the Orange Prize. I read Night Watch by Sarah Waters in July and it was a great book, and such an easy little project to take on. The list of books can be found at the Orange Prize Project blog and you can join in on the project there as well.

In January, I hope to read one of the following:
The Road Home or The Colour by Rose Tremain

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

Poppy Shakespeare by Clare Allen
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

It's busy here today with my turn on the Blogging Advent Turn and Where are you? December is like that though. People seem to save all of their socializing and partying until now, and then we try to cram in everything in a few weeks. Kind of like reading, trying to read so many books.

In reading, I have just entered the newly opened Cardiac Clinic at St Bridget's Hospital in Dublin. It is good to be back in a comfortable Maeve Binchy setting. And my favorite thing has just happened - a characters from another book, Days of Nights and Stars have just shown up, plus, they are eating at Quentins all the time. (Heart and Soul, Maeve Binchy)

Where is reading taking you today?

BLOG TOUR: Advent Tour DEC 9th

Welcome to my little part of the Advent Tour. Christmas holidays seem like the time of the year we are most likely to get out the board games and play games as a family. A chance to try out the new games, like Cranium or Rock Band, or play the old favorites, like Clue, Payday, or Life. Even the cards come out, with rousing games of crib, auction, and hearts. It must be something about family time, and being together for Christmas that makes us turn off the television and play.

In that spirit I have a little guessing game for you. Have you watched any seasonal movies yet this year? Do you have a favorite you bring out at Christmas? There are the old favorites, and then the new modern movies that are quickly becoming classics, at least at out house. I haven't seen all of these, but they are all seasonal in some way. Can you identify the movie the quotes are from. Read them over, make a guess, and then, if you highlight the space at the end of each clue, you can see how well you did.

Raidergirl3's Christmas Movie Quiz
1. [on sheets of poster board] With any luck, by next year - I'll be going out with one of these girls. [shows pictures of beautiful supermodels] But for now, let me say - Without hope or agenda - Just because it's Christmas - And at Christmas you tell the truth - To me, you are perfect - And my wasted heart will love you - Until you look like this [picture of a mummy]Merry Christmas Love Actually

2. -I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
-You'll shoot your eye out, kid. A Christmas Story

3. The words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
4. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed. A Charlie Brown Christmas

5. The most enjoying traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thpirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

6. Now wait a minute, Susie. Just because every child can't get his wish that doesn't mean there isn't a Santa Claus. Miracle on 34th Street

7. Fozziwig: At this time in the proceedings, it is a tradition for me to make a little speech.
Jacob Marley: And it is a tradition for us to take a little nap.
The Muppet Christmas Carol

8. You've been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you. It's a Wonderful Life


10. You left Claire for Frisbee the dog? Frank, let me sum this up for you: you don't know who you are, you don't know what you want, and you don't know what the hell is going on. Scrooged

11. At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe. The Polar Express

12. -I'm going to be Mary in the Christmas play. And if you try to be, or raise your arm, you'll wish you didn't.
- I'm always Mary in the Christmas play.
- Go ahead then. And next spring when the pussy-willows come out, I'm going to stick a pussy-willow so far down your ear where nobody can reach it. And it'll sit there and grow and grow and grow so for the rest of your life, there'll be a pussy-willow bush growing out of your ear. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

13. This is *Christmas*. The season of perpetual hope. And I don't care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son. Home Alone

14. God bless us, every one! Scrooge (A Christmas Carol)

15. Scott Calvin: Look, I am not Santa Claus! Ahhh!

Bernard: Did you or did you not read the card?

Scott Calvin: Yeah, I read the card.

Bernard: Then you're the new Santa. And putting on their hat and jacket, you accepted the contract. The Santa Clause

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the season, however you celebrate!
Don't forget to stop by Sherrie's Just Books for her turn on the Blog Tour today too.

Monday, December 8, 2008

CHALLENGE: A - Zed Authors and Titles, Update

Amazingly, I completed this one. Last year, I didn't quite make it, missing authors U and Y and titles X. And with no surprise, the U author was the last one I read this year. Apparently there aren't enough U authors that I am interested in reading. I had to use a children's picture book for X author, but it was very cute and I read it during the Olympics which was nice, culturally.

Thanks to Joy for hosting this; the official blog helped me find some authors and titles that I was getting stuck on. Next year Becky will host this one. I'm not going to attempt this one, I am going to stop on a successful note. My suggestions for readers attempting this one is to feel free to move titles and authors around, don't feel a books is locked into one slot. And try not to leave all the hard ones until the end.

Here is the list of books I completed in 2008
A - Anderson, Laurie Halse - Speak
B - Ben Jelloun, Tahar - This Blinding Absence of Light
C - Cook, Thomas H - The Chatham School Affair
D - Dunning, John - Booked to Die
E - Enright, Anne - The Gathering
F - Fforde, Jasper - The Eyre Affair
G - Gleason, Colleen - The Bleeding Dusk
H - Hale, Shannon - Princess Academy
I - Ishiguro, Kazou - The Remains of the Day
J - Jennings, Ken - Brainiac
K - Kinsella, Sophie - Remember Me?
L - Landvik, Lorna - Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons
M - Mitchell, David - Black Swan Green
N - Nafisi, Azar - Reading Lolita in Tehran
O - O'Dell, Scott - Island of the Blue Dolphins
P - Phillips, Marie - Gods Behaving Badly
Q - Quarrington, Paul - The Ravine
R - Ross, Ann B - Miss Julia Takes Over
S - Sansom, Ian - The Case of the Missing Books
T - Toltz, Steve - A Fraction of the Whole
U - Updale, Eleanor - Montmorency: thief, liar, gentleman?
V - Vargas Llosa, Mario - Who Killed Palomino Molero?
W - Waters, Sarah - The Night Watch
X - Xiong, Blia - Nine-In-One Grr! Grr! (children's book)
Y - Yang, Gene Luen - American Born Chinese
Z - Zusak, Markus - The Book Thief

A - Atonement - Ian McEwan
B - Beauty - Robin McKinley
C - The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier
D - Drive Like Hell - Dallas Hudgens
E - Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
F - From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - EL Konisburg
G - The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
H - House of Meeting - Martin Amis
I - The Interloper - Antoine Wilson
J - The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler
K - The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith
L - Latitudes of Melt - Joan Clark
M - Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
N - Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - Alan Alda
O - The Outcast - Sadie Jones
P - Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
Q - The Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space
R - Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
S - Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris
T - Terra Cotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri
U - The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
V - Vegan, Virgin, Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
W - Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
X - The Xibalba Murders - Lyn Hamilton
Y - Yellowknife - Steve Zipp
Z - Zel - Donna Jo Napoli

BOOK: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, 189 pages

1% Well Read; Decades Challenge: 1930s; unread author

I am putting this one down half read. It's not that I hate it, it's just that I don't care. It has put me in a reading funk in that I was trying to finish it, but could hardly read it and I wouldn't start another book since I wanted to get through this one. I read Montmorency in one evening when I picked it up for a change, which told me that I just was not going to finish Their Eyes Were Watching God. I slogged as far as I could (90 pages) hoping I would get into it, but alas, no.

Like many of you, I find it hard to stop reading a book. This one is a classics for pete's sake. But, I stopped after Janie's second husband died. The book starts with the end, so I know how it ends. I found it too hard to read the accent phonetically- it slowed me down too much and when I slowed down, I didn't care for the story. Some books expose you to a life different from your own experience and it is a good thing, but I really couldn't relate. I wasn't feeling Janie's emotions enough to want to find out what happened to her. I think the book is somewhat detached in that way so it can demonstrate and record the experience of African Americans after slavery. I've been reading some analysis of it and other book reviews, so I understand the significance of parts and the jist of the plot, ie, I think I could pass a test on it in school if I needed to .

I'm still counting it in my challenges as it took up a week of my reading life and I was exposed to a new author and it was from the decade of the 1930s. Whew, that feels good to make that decision. Next book please.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

BOOK: Montmorency: thief, liar, gentleman? by Eleanor Updale

Montmorency: thief, liar, gentleman? by Eleanor Updale, 233 pages

last book in the A - Zed title and author challenge

Imagine life in London before the sewer system was installed. The stench, the disease, the grossness. Montmorency, in jail for assorted thievery and recovering from horrendous injuries, begins to think of the new sewer system as a way to change his life. Talk about looking on the sunny side of things.

His injuries kept him in contact with a doctor, who based his growing reputation on the surgeries he did on Montmorency. This gives Montmorency a chance to see how gentlemen live. He decides to use the sewers as a way to get around London and to quickly escape notice of the police. The book follows his release from prison and the double life his leads, building up a fortune as a thief and living the high life as a gentleman.

I usually like Victorian books and this didn't disappoint. It is rated as a Young Adult book, and my 11 year old read it first. We both liked it but not loved it. It is the first book in a series and we agreed we would read another in the series but we didn't need to run out and get the next book. The character of Montmorency was interesting and complex, as he progresses from convict to gentleman with a conscience.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MEME: Booking Through Thursday: 5 For Favorites

1. Do you have a favorite author? There are a few, but Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written? I think so. There are a few short stories maybe, and I have her newest book, Heart and Soul here, ready and waiting to read. I've been saving it, and looking forward to it. I think I'll need a weekend, to be able to read without stopping.

3. Did you LIKE everything? Overall, yes. Some of her early novels weren't as strong, but still great story telling and characters.

4. How about a least favorite author?
This is like that Kit Kat commercial - How do you know you are taking a break if you weren't doing anything in the first place? How do I know they are my least favorite if I haven't' read them. I didn't enjoy Phillip Roth or Jack Kerouac or JM Coetzee very much.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t? Oscar Wilde is an author I wanted to like more. I like the plot of his books but I find the reading to be very difficult. there are probably a lot more of those classics authors that I wish I liked reading more. I would almost put Jane Austen here, but I do like her stories, I just don't love them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

It's a sad day around the book blogging world as we come to grips with the sudden passing of Dewey. Everyone has their own special memory; for me, it will be my introduction to graphic novels that I will associate with her. Rest in peace.
In reading, I am in Florida, quite a while ago, following Janie as she looks for love in a post-Civil war era. (Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston)
Where is reading taking you today? Have you met some neat people? Are you in a situation you would never get to experience without books? Share in the comments, and/or post to your own blog as well.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

BOOK: Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon, 197 pages

unread author challenge; genre challenge: adventure

Is this a movie yet? Because I think it will make a fabulous adventure tale, perfect for two actors that I haven't quite cast yet. I'll think on it.

Set in the middle east in a time I'm not sure of, but long ago (wikipedia says it was set in the Kingdom of Arran, in the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, A.D. 950.) Not so long ago that there aren't the religions of Muslim, Jews, and Christians all living and fighting together, but but recent enought that there were many names and identifiers that I didn't recognize, but could guess - Rus were Russians, viks maybe the Vikings, Franks were Germans, things like that. There were a lot of terms I had to let go and just read through. It didn't lessen my enjoyment, just my comprehension. At times the sentences were long, and contained a lot of information, and if I lost the thread, it was a long was back to find the start of the sentence and figure out where I lost the topic so I tried to replicate that tendency in this paragraph, so if my thoughts were convoluted, it was intentional.

"It follows two horse thieves—a massive African Jew named Amram, and a hat-loving Frankish Jew named Zelikman—as they become swept up in a rebellion and try to restore a displaced prince to the throne." I copied that from wikipedia because it summed up the plot perfectly. And my biggest problem with the writing was that I wasn't completely sure what all was going on. As I said, it didn't lessen my enjoyment. I've decided to cast Michael Clark Duncan and Ed Norton as the leads. I was slightly influenced by the sketches in the book, one per chapter, by Gary Gianni as I imagined the characters. There was also a map on the inside covers, which I always love. It's this extra attention to detail that makes the story better.

All in all, a great little read - good plot and characters within the slightly confusing writing. Pretty good for a book I hadn't heard of but just grabbed from the popular shelf at the library. I recognized Chabon's name, but not the title. I had a nice little 'frisson of pleasure' at the title drop early in the book.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

We had another meeting of the Ramona Book Club here last night. That's RAchel, MOm, and NAna. We read Anne of Green Gables, each a different version actually. Rachel read an abridged version, reading level grade 1-2, Nana read the original, and I read Before Green Gables (I've read the original too many times to count). We drank red juice that looked suspiciously like raspberry cordial, and ate some cookies, and listened to our Anne and Gilbert CD and discussed the books, and Anne, and the plays. Rachel saw both plays this summer, so she is really quite the expert.

I get to pick the book next time, and I've chosen Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt. It's a favorite of Rachel's too. Her next pick is Because of Winn-Dixie, and I suggested we watch the movie for that meeting. That will be our first repeat author, as Kate diCamillo also wrote Tale of Despereaux. Do you participate in real life book clubs too?

I am on the road to Azerbaijan with some Gentlemen of the Road, on a rollicking adventure so far. (Michael Chabon) I'm not far in, but it would make a terrific movie. Where is reading taking you this day?

Monday, November 24, 2008

SHORT STORY MONDAY: The Scream by Rohinton Mistry

The Scream by Rohinton Mistry, 35 pages

One of my favorite books is Mistry's A Fine Balance, so when I got the chance to get this book, a single short story, I jumped. His short story collection, Tales from Firozsha Baag was also an interesting view of life in India. This book was originally written and published in 2006 as a limited edition, 150 copies, special fundraiser for World Literacy of Canada. All royalties from the sales of this book will go to World Literacy Canada.

The book is filled with beautiful illustrations by Tony Urquhart. The mixed media pictures were meant to "echo the richness of Indian miniatures and medieval manuscripts illuminations" according to Urquhart. They provide an extra level to the story, since short stories can be so, well, short, having the pictures makes it more of an experience.

The story itself is narrated by an old man, relegated to the front room, to the worst mattress, to the least food of the family. The story is one complete rant, but it has a bit of humor and a bit of pathos of aging as well. A soliloquy on aging, set in India, but really, universal. The elder member of the family becomes less and less influential and important. He is railing against his losses, the family thinks he's a grumpy old man.

Definitely for fans of Rohinton Mistry.