Saturday, February 28, 2009

CHALLENGE: 1% Well Read, 2009 Version

How much of a glutton for punishment am I? As of February 28, 2009, I didn't complete this challenge from last year. I read 7 out of 10, and one of those was a DNF. Not very impressive. But there are still books on the list I'd like to read, and nothing actually happened when I didn't complete the challenge, so why not give it a try?

Michelle has given us three options for this challenge:
  1. Read 10 titles from the original list from March 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009.
  2. Read 10 titles from the new list from March 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009.
  3. Read 13 titles from the combined list (of almost 1300 titles) from March 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010. In other words, “What were they thinking dropping titles from Dostoevsky and Jane Austen?”
I'll go with option number 2, and begin a list here:

1. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (new list)
2. All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy (new list) - read 50 pages
3. Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels April 27 (both lists)
4. Fifth Business - Robertson Davies (new list)
5. The Reader - Bernhard Schlink (both lists)
6. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain (both lists)
7. The Tenent of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte
8. Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto (new list)
9. The Bridal Wreath (book 1 of Kristin Lavransdatter) - Sigrid Unset
10. Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell (both lists)

3. Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre (new list)
5. How Late it Was, How Late - James Kelman (both lists)
8. The Diviners - Margaret Laurence (new list)

11. The Colour - Rose Tremain (old list)
12. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters (old list)
13. The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Thursday, February 26, 2009

BOOK: The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason

The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason, 373 pages
translated by Bernard Scudder

continuing mystery series

Give a brief summary of the book:
A body is found in a draining lake in Iceland with a Soviet radio transmitter wrapped around it. The detectives look into old missing person cases and end up investigating the role of spies in Iceland during the Cold War.

Like all good mystery series, the interactions between the detectives and their ongoing personal lives are what make the series so good. The mystery is doled out nicely with enough clues that you think you know, with both the detectives and some old characters' points of view of the story.
I like the personal demons that Erlendur faces, looking for missing people, like his lost brother, and his curmudgeonly ways of dealing with his partners. Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli are interesting in their own right. I'm not sure sometimes if Sigurdur Oli actually likes Erlendur making their interactions all the more amusing.

I can't think of anything really, it was a good solid mystery with that bleak, dreary Icelandic setting overlaying it. The flashbacks to East Germany in the 1950s showed a nice contrast between socialism as an ideal, and the practice that was implemented in the Warsaw Pact countries, but that part wasn't preachy at all.

Additional Thoughts:
I have the next book in the series here, Arctic Chill, waiting to be read. I usually like to read another couple of books before the next book in a series, but look for me to read it in the next month or so. Erlender is starting to make moves toward joining the human race, and actually caring about someone, so I am anxious to see how he is getting along.

(I am completely copying Samantha's great idea for reviewing series books, thanks Sam)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game

If I could dance like Hugh Jackman and sing like Anne Hathaway, this is where I'd be singing and dancing, as your host for this part of the program. Suey has had the comments open all week, and the nominations are now closed.

I'll leave this poll up for about a week, with the Accounting Firm of Ernst-Waterhouse protecting and keeping all the results secret, unless you hit the secret 'Show Results' button. Then, next Wednesday I'll post the results and give a new Bookword definition as we try to find the right Bookword.

(Are you looking at me? Do. Not. Fall in Love With Me)

Great suggestions this week, I picked the ones that I thought best represented what the suggestions were trying to convey. If I've missed one, or you have suddenly thought of a brilliant idea, use the write-in vote option.

At this point, I should bring out SuziQoregon to provide some inspiration as a former winner of the Bookword Game, to compliment you on your wonderful suggestions, and honour your potential in any future Bookword Games, and hopefully make you cry with her beautiful words. Unless you hyperventilate like Amy Adams almost did.

The nominees:
Page-re-turner serena

bookcrawler bookPsmith

Neverending Story chantele

Page Generating Book suziqoregon

UGHster booklogged

Are We There Yet? Coversgirl

CheckBook joy

Is it over yet? or Can I stop now? Jan

PageYearner tinylittellibrarian

PageCounter booklogged

*lala lala lala* song by Beyonce inserted here * lalalala*

Now on with the voting:

sorry, poll now closed.
I hope you all watched The Oscars to make sense of my post this week?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

I am in Iceland, where a body has been found at the body of a draining lake. There seems to be some connection between the body and the cold war activity during the 1960s. (The Draining Lake, Arnaldur Indridason)

Don't forget that we are voting here tomorrow on the latest Bookword in our game after taking suggestions at Sueys.

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, make a post, spread the word.

Monday, February 23, 2009

BOOK: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, 270 pages

young adult challenge; genre: sci-fi

I haven't seen the movie. From the pictures inside (I have the book published after the movie, including scenes from the movie) the movie looks much more fantastic than the book. The book however, is a great suspenseful read, and doesn't need any jazzing up. Why do we enjoy a suspense in a book that would translate in a movie to not enough suspense?

Lina and Doon, age twelve, are receiving their assignments for jobs in the City of Ember, reminiscent of The Giver. It seems like a more primitive society, with little in the way of supplies, as if this town has been surviving on a fixed amount of materials. Everything is reworked and recycled. Electricity is limited and unreliable. Doon trades jobs with Lina to be able to work underground in the Pipeworks, hoping to be able to make the Generator more dependable, even if no one really knows how electricity works. Lina works as a messenger and gets to see all different places in the city.

Something is not quite right, as there are black market goods - canned peaches! available to some people, while the rest of them are surviving on the few vegetables grown in the greenhouse. Lina discovers some Instructions, that sends her and Doon on a chase to escape from Ember. The book is really a part of a trilogy, as the first book ends, but sets up a whole other story, that I can't wait to read. My son has the next two books, and I'll get to them soon!

It's a book where the reader can guess some things that Lina and Doon have no clue about, and the mystery is in them figuring out where they are, and for the reader, how this all happened. Lina and Doon get some of their questions answered, the reader only somewhat, necessitating the next book to find out why this has all happened.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

BOOK: Stargirl/The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

celebrate the author; young adult challenge

Stargirl teaches everyone a lesson on conformity and being yourself. Being a teenager is tough and learning how to fit it with the crowd while still staying true to yourself is difficult. Whose heart is broken more: Leo's after he realizes he tried to change Stargirl, and then she's not the same girl, or Stargirl's, who changes for Leo because he wants her to but it doesn't change anything?

My son liked this so much he made me get the sequel, Love, Stargirl right after he finished this one.

The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli, 154 pages (ages 8-14)

celebrate the author

One magical library card changes the life of four different 11 year olds. The card brings each of them what they need at that point of their life. The four short stories are not connected at all, other than the library card, and there is something for every reader to relate to: the almost juvenile delinquent being pulled by a friend, the television addict, the lonely child moved to a new community, and the child longing for someone to remember his childhood with him. Eleven year olds make the best characters - they are mature enough to be on their own, they are beginning to think about themselves and their place in the world, but still young enough to believe in magic.

I brought this home from the library after my son and I read Maniac Magee. He was having none of it; looked at the cover and said no. Two months later he starts telling me about this great book he was reading at school. Yep, you guessed it: The Library Card. Spinelli is one of my son's favorite authors.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

BOOK: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, 254 pages
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Dewey Decimal Nonfiction: 153.44

Great little pop psychology book for my first Gladwell book. I look forward to his other books, The Tipping Point and Outliers. The premise here is that we make complicated decisions in the 'blink' of an eye, based on complicated brain processing. He examines how we can do that, and uses lots of examples and anecdotes to back this up. He also gives examples where this instant thinking can let us down, with brain theory and psychological studies into the brain.

By writing with lots of anecdotes, Gladwell makes this immensely more readable than a psychology book, but he is more present as an author than in a more scholarly article and I found his opinions and some conclusions a little jarringly appearing out of the blue. For example, when referring to Tom Hanks, being cast in his first major movie Splash, he says "All he had done was the now (justly) forgotten TV show called Bosom Buddies." Why that justly had to be included there surprised me because it doesn't add to the book, it just tells me that Gladwell didn't like that show, and since I did, it was jarring. Little editorial comments like that were sprinkled throughout the book and took me out of the reading periodically.

The descriptions of facial muscles required to produce different emotions was very interesting, especially connecting it to how autism doesn't react to mind reading and face reading of emotions. The descriptions of the actual muscles moving for every emotion got a bit tiring and sometimes if felt like the book couldn't make up its mind as to whether is was a scholarly book, with specific details of the scientific studies, or a lay man's version summarized into real life examples. These two examples are small concerns however, and I really enjoyed the look into how I made up my mind about someone or something, or get a bad feeling, with out perhaps knowing why. My subconscious knows why, it just doesn't always let me know.

Friday, February 20, 2009

BOOK: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book

Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book

Soup's On Recipe/Reading Challenge

Have you ever had a slight miscommunication result in a plethora of asparagus? That's what happened at our house last weekend. Neither of us realized that the other was picking up the asparagus to have with our scallops on Saturday night. We also ended up with way too much broccoli, but our youngest is a cooked broccoli fiend, so that wasn't such as big an issue. Only the adults appear to like asparagus so far and while we like how we eat it, (baked with a splash of soya and olive oil) this new abundance inspired me to haul out the recipe books.

I've been wanting to try something from the newest Racheal Ray cookbook since I received it. I watched her show last summer in the mornings and enjoyed her breezy way with food, and the fact that she combines interesting flavors but still keeps it simple. I've had several recipes sticky posted for a while, waiting to try. The titles in her book are imaginatively named like Mahimahi Mucho-Gusto Fish Burritos or The Must Have Minestrone or Devilish Sesame with Green Beans and Scallion Rice, plus lots of her Sammies (sandwiches) or Stoup (soup/stew.)

We tried two different asparagus recipes: Jaw-Droppingly Delicious Asparagus Penne and Spring Summer Ziti. Both were very good and didn't require too many special groceries to make. The Asparagus-Penne in particular will be very easy to make in the future, and I'd probably trade the blend in the sauce for plain milk to make it lighter and easier - we don't often have blend on hand, but we would have everything else. Plus, since the kids wouldn't eat it, although I thought it had potential, I wisely took some plain cooked penne out before I mixed the sauce - garlic, flour, blend, vegetable stock, blend, dijon, lemon zest, and tarragon - with the penne and asparagus. It only took as long to make as it took the penne to boil and the frozen fish to cook in the oven. All in all, it will go into the rotation for the adults. It's a keeper!

The second recipe, Spring Summer Ziti, will be not made as often, as it was a bit fancier and had to be baked in the oven for 12 minutes, but it was quite yummy, and my husband thought it tasted 'filling, and even sort of healthy with the asparagus and the peas." I used the rest of the penne we bought as we don't' keep ziti as a matter of course, but I might get a bag to have on had as ziti seems to be a Rachael Ray staple. This recipe tossed the penne and vegetables in a ricotta cheese mixture and then baked it between layers of a sauteed tomato sauce. Again, pretty easy and yummy. We haven't eaten a lot of ricotta and isn't something we keep on hand, so this would have to be a planned meal and not a last minute idea, but we would make it again.

With categories like 30- Minute Meals, Entree Burgers, and Vegetarian Meals I've bookmarked several more recipes to try. I can't see trying as much from Meals for One or Kosher Meals but I still like looking in the book and imagining that my family might ever eat some of these ingredients.

Things I like: lots of pictures, very Italian recipes, a focus on low-fat and healthier recipes, new foods I'd like to try; a big collection of recipes for stuffed eggs; a recipe for fatoush that I've wanted since I had it at a Lebanese restaurant last fall; still to try - salmon burgers, pizza burgers

Things I don't like: not being from an Italian background, many of the ingredients are a little foreign to me or we just don't keep on hand - anchovies, fresh parsley, fennel, ziti, fresh ginger, tuna steaks. I realize these aren't strange foods but not what we usually eat. Nearly every recipe has one ingredient that I wouldn't have on hand. And contrary to what Rachael Ray says, basil pesto is not "kid-yum" at least at my house.
RR likes to mix up a classic recipe while once I get a version I like, I stop. So I'm not interested in another Mac and Cheese recipe because I have the one I like. But other people, like my mother for example, like to try new versions of old recipes.

So, once I get my kids to eat food that is mixed together, that is, with more than one ingredient in the recipe, like tomato soup, plain pasta, shake and bake chicken then I'll have a field day with this book. This is my first Rachael Ray cookbook.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BOOK: The Outlander by Gil Adamson

The Outlander by Gil Adamson, 384 pages

2nd Canadian Book Challenge

The lady on the cover, a widow by her own hand (I love that phrase!) is being chased across the wild west of Canada in 1903 by her (ex) twin brothers in law. There certainly wasn't a lot of support for women in those days for marriage counselling or post-partum depression. Not a lot of options for women.

This is part adventure, part history of mining and the west, and a beautiful love story. The widow, who barely gets a name, spends most of the book learning about herself. An ignored child of her widowed father, married off to the first guy who comes along, and then isolated and treated like a slave, she never really had a moment to be herself, by herself, until she is on the lam and living in the wild. She meets some helpful men along the way.

I could see this done as a movie, with lots of suspense and action and a love story that I really enjoyed. The last sentence was the only part that disappointed me, but I'll read that the way I'd like to, and then it becomes a great book.

GAME: Bookword Game

Read any recommenDUDs lately? Such a great start to the game.

The new word to be determined is at Suey's: What do we call a book that nearly every time you turn the page, you check to see which page you're on?
hmm, I know I've read a few of them, but I'm not sure yet. Head on over to Suey's to offer up suggestions. Take a few days if you need to mull it over, but the game ends by Tuesday next week, don't be left out with your great idea.

I just changed browsers, from IE to Mozilla/FF and I can't believe how much easier it is to make a link! Just highlight the work, and enter the link. Before, I had to go to the word I wanted to link, enter the URL in the pop up window, then to to "edit Html" locate the required coding, and erase half the link, then come back to compose. All right, when I write it down there is doesn't seem like that much work, but it was a bit of a pain, and I didn't know any other way to do that. Maybe I always could have highlighted the word? I'll never know because I am liking Firefox already!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

How is everyone's reading challenges going so far this year? It seemed a lot of people were backing off a bit from challenge overload at the first of the year. Are you pleased with how things have gone? I cut back, but am still reading for quite a few. My goal this year is not to read a book just to finish a challenge. If it happens, great, but I'm not going to go out of my way at the end of a challenge to pick a book I don't really want to read, not when there is a whole pile of books that I really want to read.

Sometimes I am being chased by the brothers of my late husband. I am a widow by my own hand. Life was not easy for women in the early 1900s in rural Alberta. (The Outlander by Gil Adamson)

Sometimes I am amazed at how quickly the brain can make a decision based on so much information in the Blink of an eye. (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell)

Where is reading taking you today? Make a post, leave a comment, spread the word.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

BLOGGING: Anniversary Giveaway


to Teddy Rose

who is getting a copy of

Anne of Avonlea!

send me a note, Teddy Rose, with a contact

Thanks to everyone who entered and to everyone who stopped by with good wishes too! And for everyone who isn't getting a copy, you should run to the library and get the next one in the series.

Friday, February 13, 2009

BOOK: No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

2nd Canadian Book Challenge; IMPAC Dublin winner 2001

Some places are so ingrained into people, that even when they leave, they consider it home, until the end of their time. The Maritimes are like that, and MacLeod has written his love letter to Cape Breton in this novel.
"Later his body moved inland, but his great heart remained behind." When I think of all the people who have left here to go to Ontario, the Boston states, Fort McMurray, they are all still from Cape Breton or PEI and the goal is to get back here eventually. No matter where they roam, they try to return to where they left their heart.

This idea has been around since the old days, so even though Cape Breton is home, they came from Scotland originally, or from Prince Edward Island via Ireland. And although it has been hundreds of years, that connection to the homeland is still strong and the stories have stayed alive. Alexander MacDonald of Clan Red Calum, the narrator, knows the stories of his family, his clan, back to the battle of Culloden and the Plains of Abraham.

It's funny because this book uses the Clan idea, that they all come from the same person, Calum MacDonald, and they all know the same stories and have a clannish quality. I read a book last year, Mercy by Jodi Picoult that used the same family trait and it just didn't seen quite right to me. I'm not sure why I accepted it this time. It could just be the setting of the 1960s and 1970s made it seem more reasonable, as if the clans were still pretty clannish here in the Maritimes and it wouldn't work in present day Massachusetts.

So much of this book resonated with me. I've heard these stories, I know these people. The phrases, the way of talking, repeating the same phrases and cliches. The repetitive method of always describing someone the same way, that keeps their history attached to them like a barnacle. The way of giving a backhanded compliments. One of my favorite lines from the book was, "He might not be the kind of man you'd invite to sing and dance and do imitations at your party, but he is a good man nonetheless." I can picture that man perfectly.

This book is also about family and that connection. There is tragedy and heartbreak and sticking together because that's what families do - always look after your blood.

"All of us are better when we're loved."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

GAME: Bookword Game

Suey has the poll up! Go vote! Go vote! Go vote!

Did I mention you should go vote?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

The Bookword Game is off to a roaring start with some amazing suggestions for a book that other people love but hasn't impressed you. I have a feeling what the favorite might be - some words just perfectly explain the situation. Suey will have a poll up on her site, hopefully tomorrow, for everyone to vote for their favorite. Then, next week, she'll post the winner and another situation that needs a Bookword. I'm very pleased with how many great suggestions and participants in the very first week.

In reading, I am in Toronto recounting the MacDonald family, clan red Calum, who came from Cape Breton by way of the Scottish highlands, full of gaelic words and Celtic music. No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod.

Where is reading taking you today? Make a post, write a comment, spread the word.

Monday, February 9, 2009

MEME: a few of my favorite things

Y. Yikes! She gave me Y. Chris posted this meme where you list the things that you like that begin with an assigned letter. The letter Y could be tricky. Here is a list of my favorite things that begin with the letter Y. If you want to play along, just ask in the comments and I'll give you a letter.

Y in the Sand Y is for my neighbours\ Silver Spring Avenue Peeling Capital Letter Y (Silver Spring, MD) y Y Plain Educational Block Y Y - hemkunskap y

1. Yogi Bear - One of my favorite of the Hanna Barbara cartoons, Yogi and his little buddy, Boo Boo Bear. I few years ago we used to watch the Laff-A-Lympics. The Scooby Doobies, the Yogi Yahooeys, and the Really Rottens, all the villains, competed in an hilarious predictable manner.

2. Yellow beans - best eaten raw, right out of the garden. We plant a garden every year to each fresh raw vegetables.

3. yard - summer is spent in the backyard, with the swing set, the inflatable pool, the basketball net, the barbecue, the deck. Really, a wonderful spot as we watch the trees grow that we planted the first year or two we lived in the house.

4. Yesterday - song by the Beatles, sung by many people.

5. yogurt (raspberry or vanilla) - I'm not a huge yogurt fan, but the new frozen yogurt that tastes just like ice cream is pretty delicious. For regular yogurt, I mostly only eat raspberry or vanilla.

6. "Your Eyes" from Rent - I often put on the Rent soundtrack when I am correcting. I would love to see this musical on stage, I've only seen the movie

7. Yahtzee - I've had the original game for years, and one of the most enjoyable kids games we've bought was Pokemon Yahtzee. It lasts about 5 - 7 minutes to play a game, and is slightly possible to throw, ensuring the kid wins, an important part of playing games with pre-schoolers.

8. yabba dabba doo - One of the best summer playlist I had was during university, and it had the theme to the Flintstones in the middle. Good times, good memories.

9. y-intercept - I love math, and you can always rely on the y- intercept to help graph an equation

10. Yellowknife - pretty good book written by Steve Zipp. He helped me plenty in the A to Zed reading challenge last year, with a tough letter to start a book or author last name, which ever was needed most. This book was so unique and interesting I would recommend it to people who haven't read anything set in the north of Canada. I haven't been there myself, but the capital of the Northwest Territories is the main character of the quirky novel.

BOOK: Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger, 353 pages

young adult; themed reading challenge: epistolary

I gave this to my 11 year old son for Christmas after reading a great review of it somewhere. I think it came into notice around the time The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie book began making waves as both are epistolary books - told through letters. A librarian was making a display of these types of books, sort of like the Amazon recommended list "If you like this, you may like that" and read Last Days of Summer and gave it a rave review.

My son enjoyed it, but was put off a bit by the 'bad' words, and told me the ending shocked him. So of course I had to read it. Joey, a 12 year old Jewish boy in 1940 Brooklyn begins writing to Giants third baseman Charlie Banks. They don't hit it off, but Charlie continues to write back, which just encourages Joey. Joey is friends with a Japanese American, and they are getting beat up and hoping Charlie can help them. Thus the language - Charlie is a 23 year old professional ball player and Joey is a tough guy without a father around so these guys are a little rough around the edges.

Joey and Charlie form an unusual friendship but it becomes very important for both of them, and they both grow. About the shocking ending? Just the difference between being 11 and 41. I have read a lot more books, especially ones set during wars, so I can predict better what might happen. The reviews I read at librarything called the ending 'predictable,' which it was, but it didn't detract from the book at all. And to me, that's why young adult books can be predictable and still very enjoyable. You have to be shocked for the first time in a lot of ways before endings become predictable. The characters here were very delightful, and the letter writing style between the different characters told the story in a very readable way. I was crying by the end because these characters touched each other, and me, so much.

The story is about so much more than baseball. The Japanese internment during World War Two is also a part of the story. But it was more a story of a young boy who had been abandoned by his father and looked for that guidance from someone and a young man who takes on responsibility for a young kid.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

BOOK: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, 246 pages

Pulitzer Winner 2004; themed reading challenge

Old preacher man writes a letter to his young son. Writes about his grandfather - saint and sinner preacher abolitionist who fought in the Civil War and stole random items in his old age. Writes about his father, preacher and pacifist. So much father and son dynamics.

Writes about his sermons, and biblical passages. So much philosophy that puts me to sleep. He actually gets confused in the middle of some passages himself, so I didn't feel so bad.

Writes about his namesake, a preacher friend's troubled son. This part of the story was more interesting as the narrator had to deal with his own jealousies and prejudices. He was very human, less religiously perfect in his dealings with his godson.

Loneliness, prejudice, good, man's relationship with God. I think there are many people who would enjoy this slow, character driven novel. It was well written but not about things that interest me enough. I can see why it was a Pulitzer winner. Prize winning books should make you think, should show an inner conflict, and make for great discussion. Not for me but I can recognize it would be loved by another type of reader. It's too far away from a good murder mystery to entertain me.

also reviewed by Rhinoa (and she gave it 4.5/5, I knew others would like it)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

WEEKLY GEEKS: Judge a Book by its Cover

Judge a Book By Its Cover!

This week it's all about judging books by their covers! Pick a book--any book, really--and search out multiple book cover images for that book. They could span a decade or two (or more)...Or they could span several countries. Which cover is your favorite? Which one is your least favorite? Which one best 'captures' what the book is about?

I decided to look at Anne of Green Gables' covers. When a book has been in publication for over 100 years, you know there will be many different covers. Plus, wouldn't you have been disappointed if I hadn't chosen Anne?

The original cover from 1908

This is the cover on the edition I have. It's pretty bland, but it is the one I am most used to. The next couple in the series are the same type of drawing, but in different colours for the edges.

This is the most recent popular edition I have seen, the ones that are mostly in the stores around here.

After the success of the Sullivan movies starring Megan Follows, she appeared on the cover of the Anne books. The movies were so well done and Megan is really the face of Anne. The casting in the original movie was so perfect that in my mind, Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth will always be Matthew and Marilla to me.

Some editions from around the world:

I like this one a lot, with Anne and Matthew and Marilla and Green Gables, plus the colours are appealing. And can read the French title.

Some of the more unusual covers I've seen:

Doesn't really hint at the Anne part, but it is definitely a PEI beach. However, Anne doesn't spend a lot of time on the beach.

Focusing on the Green Gables aspect of the title. The house itself is part of the National Park at Cavendish and a mecca for visitors to PEI. If you come to PEI, you would want to visit the house

Must be an early edition, looks rather 1920s or 1930s to me. Probably more how LM pictured Anne but really wouldn't work today.

This one is so very different but I like it. It hints at the exuberance of Anne and the country living.
Which is your favourite cover? Which one do you own?

BLOGGING: 2nd Blogging Anniversary

It was two years ago that I decided to make a blog here at blogspot to interact with the book bloggers I was meeting. They were having so much fun I had to join in. I started with the odd little book review and Booking Through Thursday memes. The reading challenges were just getting started with Booklogged's Classic Challenge and Bookfool's Chunkster Challenge and then suddenly the reading challenges got crazy very fast!

I've read so many more books, and met so many wonderful people in these past two years. I actually met Booklogged in real life when she visited PEI with Candleman. Very cool.
I'd like to give an Anne book away to one of my readers in celebration of my two years. Leave a comment if you would like a LM Montgomery book from the Anne series; me know which book in the series you are at. If you've read them all, (and you should!), I could look for Blue Castle. You can then say your book came straight from PEI.
Contest will close Feb 12, 2009
Thank you to all the great friends I've met for your comments, and suggestions, and friendship. Here's to many more years.

Friday, February 6, 2009

BOOK: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, 399 pages

translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

genre challenge: historical fiction; Latin America Challenge: Chile

Eliza Sommers, orphaned at birth and raised in Valparaiso, Chile and Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor meet on a boat on the way to the California gold rush of 1849. Each of them get a background treatment, with a history of Chile, and China and their respective lives. They each get a love story before they meet and it was all very well written and engrossing.

It should have been fabulous, but it fell a bit short for me, and yet I still liked it. I always felt a bit detached from Eliza through the narration. At times I would start to get into her head and feel her emotions, but I never got all the way there so that I was really rooting for her. Tao Chi'en life was better explained and was able to connect a bit better him. A few hints or foreshadowing also prevented some of the big reveals from losing their punch because it was foretold. There were several subplots that felt rushed in their closing, I am thinking of the aunt's erotic writings that just appeared and nothing happened with it other than it happened. Why didn't Eliza ever find out about it? The ending itself was very anti-climatic and I was left wondering if I had missed something.

Those criticisms aside, the historical aspect was very well done, especially the travel between Chile and California, and the gold rush experience. I was never bored while reading and I would read another by Allende. She treated the women well and the role women in those rough times was examined. Strong females who found a way to live life on their own terms when that couldn't have been easy. It was a great opening book for the Latin American Challenge.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

BOOK: The Darwin Awards by Wendy Northcutt

The Darwin Awards Next Evolution: Chlorinating the Gene Pool by Wendy Northcutt

Dewey Decimal: 082

Have you ever heard the phrase by Charles Darwin when referring to evolution: the survival of the fittest? It's the idea that only the strongest and smartest of a species will survive to reproduce and that nature will eliminate the members that don't have the necessary genes to survive and adapt. The Darwin Awards were developed to recognize those members of the human race who are essentially eliminating the stupid gene.

The vignettes are divided into categories like Electrical Extinctions,Vehicle Victims, Criminal Capers and Combustion Crazies. Mostly you will cringe slightly upon reading these stories of death or near death - being left unable to reproduce can also 'win' you a Darwin Award. You can begin to imagine what will follow with stories that begin with or contain the following phrases: "instead of following standard procedure...", "attempting to impress the lady...", "so he could save himself time...", or "a case of beer went into the planning." Generally, you will feel very smart after reading some of the situations these people, mostly men interestingly, get themselves into.

There are rules that need to apply before being considered for a Darwin award in that it can't be a true accident, other people can't be hurt, and only adults. It has to be a situation where a lack of judgment is apparent, like the guy that removed the foam protective padding from the bottom of a ski hill to ski down on. You can guess exactly where he slid into. Or the guy who used a artillery shell to squash a bug and found out the hard way it wasn't inert. The guys who tested the ice by jumping up and down on it and then sank 2 cars in trying to pull the first one out.

The stories just continue, from all around the world, proving the stupidity of so many people, doing their part to improve the gene pool of the human race. If you are having a bad day, picking this book up and reading a few stories will make you feel better about yourself.

GAME: Bookword Game

Welcome to the first edition of The Bookword Game. Here we will, as a book loving community, come up with some phrases to describe books or book-related situations.

For example, if I say Freezer Book, people recognize a book that is making you nervous, like The Book Thief for me or Little Women for Joey from Friends.

More recently, bybee tried to discover the phrase for when you discover the title embedded in the story. It turned out that there was no such phrase! How could that be? We kept going back to find out what it could be, so suggestions were made, and a vote was held: Title Drop was most popular. It perfectly describes a situation that I look for everytime I read now.

That's what gave me the idea to continue the game. What other bookish situations do we need phrases for? I'll post a situation and take suggestions in the comments. Next week, Suey will compile the suggestions and then post a poll of the top (or our favourite) nominees. We'll send the results to Price-Waterhouse, and keep them under secure lock and key until we reveal the results.

Suey and I have come up with a list of possible situations that we plan to post about, but if you have an idea for a bookword situation, please let us know as well and we'll add it to the pile. The more interactive and involved we can get people, the more fun this will be.

The situation: what can we call a book that you read after hearing other people rave about it, they love it and want to name their children after, but you don't get it. They loved this? You don't love the book but everyone else does. What is the new bookword for this?

suggestions in the comments please.

edit: We'll leave the suggestions open til sometime on Tuesday, then we'll have the vote at Suey's blog. There are some good ones so far!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, where are you?

I hope you come back tomorrow as Suey and I begin a new game: Bookword. So many of you are creative and imaginative that we look forward to your suggestions for some book phrases that need to be named. I finished Bel Canto last week and realized I didn't find the title drop, and I still didn't know what it signified. I was pleasantly surprised to reference bel canto today in my newest book during a passage about an opera singer.

I am experiencing life in 1840s Chile with a Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. I've been wanting to read an Allende for the Latin American Challenge, so I asked a friend who is a fan to bring me one of her books: surprise me. It is looking good so far and I am on a journey unlike any I've been on before

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, make a post, spread the word.

Monday, February 2, 2009

BOOK: Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby

Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby, 131 pages

Dewey Decimal: 808

I can never decide what I like best about these books: the new book ideas, the reviews of books I've already read, or Hornby's musing about reading in general. It's a real blend of all three. What I have also liked in the other two books of this series (The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs the Dirt) were excerpts from other books which were sadly missing from this book.

1. Books I now want to read: Poppy Shakespeare, Skellig, Everything That Converges, The Abstinence Teacher. He seemed to read a lot more non-fiction this time, which he attributes to turning 50 and needing to know more stuff.

2. Books I've read already that I enjoyed reading his review of (and I feel smarter because I had already read them, just like Nick Hornby did): The Road, American Born Chinese, Holes, On Chesil Beach, Weetzie Bat

3. On favorite books and movies: to achieve such an exalted positon means that they entered your life at exactly the right time, in precisely the right place, and those conditions can never be re-created. Sometimes we want to revisit them in order to check whether they were really as good as we remember them being, but this has to be a suspect impulse, because what it presupposed is that we have more reason to trust out critical judgments as we get older, whereas I am beginning to believe that the reverse is true.

On finding a new author: It's not often you finish a first novel by a writer and you are seized by the need to read her second immediately. Of course, by the time her second comes out, I'll have forgotten all about the first. But today, the will is there.

The Bookword Game

When I read The Book Thief, I mentioned how I kept putting the book down, because I was afraid to read on, too afraid to wonder how bad Zusak could make this Holocaust book. Somebody commented that it was a Freezer Book, from the "Friends" episode of how Joey would put a scary book in the freezer when he didn't want to keep reading. Exactly!

A few months ago, bybee tried to find the phrase to describe the moment when you discover the title embedded in the novel. Turned out there was no such phrase, much to all her readers' dismay, so we suggested some names and voted on Title Drop. Isn't that perfect? It describes an event exactly that needed a description.

I think there are many more book phrases that need to be named. So, starting this Wednesday, Suey of It's All About Books and I are going to try this game, the Bookword Game. We will put a phrase out there that we think needs its own word, like Freezer Book, or Title Drop. We'll take suggestions and then there will be a vote. It is a democracy here after all. Mostly. We may make some unilateral decisions, but most unlikely! So come back on Wednesday to see what this is all about.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

UPDATE: January Books

I came so close to reading 10 novels this month, but a nonfiction book (Dewey) and a really long book (Cloud Atlas) conspired against me, leaving me at 9 novels read. The pretty badges were an incentive but I couldn't quite get to the gold. I finished a couple challenges - Unread Authors, Book Awards II, the Orange January Project, and NaJuReMoNoMo.

10. Beat the Reaper - Josh Bazell
9. Bel Canto - Ann Patchett
8. Three Bags Full - Leonie Swann
7. Dewey - Vicki Myron
6. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
5. Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
4. Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
2. The Road Home - Rose Tremain
1. Mercy Among the Children - David Adams Richards

That was a really good month of books there and I don't think I can even pick my favorite.

BOOK: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, 304 pages

published in '09

What a hoot! From the opening mugging to the final, extremely unbelievable but exciting - I can't believe he did that! scene, I grinned and turned page after page, very quickly. I read somewhere it was described as House meets The Sopranos and that is a pretty good description.

Short, snappy, violent and crude, Peter Brown, doctor at a Manhattan hospital and member of the Witness Protection Program may have been identified and spends the rest of the book trying to decide what he should do. I preferred the present day story to his remembrance of what got him into the WPP, but the back story was necessary to set up the ending.

Bazell is a medical doctor who had written his first book, so the experience of interns in a hospital rings true, but I wouldn't want to be in that hospital! Footnotes appear now and then to elaborate on the medical information and was a neat addition and some might even be clues to future events in the story. I read through his quickly in one day and quite enjoyed it. If a book gets a good rating based on entertainment value, this gets full marks. Credulity and realism? Not so much, but loads of fun for people who don't mind crude language and lots of violence and have faith that their doctor would never be like that.

I just read at IMDB that Leonardo diCaprio has optioned the book and may star in the movie version. Very interesting. Also, there is a website, that has a fun game of 'play the intern and survive the day'. I didn't do so well on my first try.