Saturday, October 31, 2009

CHALLENGE: Vampire Challenge

Kathrin at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic is hosting a challenge to read at least two vampire books during the 2009 calendar year. It may seem late to sign up for this one, but I have a few vampire books here that I am hoping to read. This is just the incentive I need to get them done.

My two books are
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason

I am reading a zombie book right now, but I guess it doesn't count.

BOOK: Lamb by Christopher Moore

Lamb by Christopher Moore, 404 pages
The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

First, I have to comment on my beautiful edition. It looks like a bible, with gold edged pages, and an attached bookmark ribbon. It is stunning.

I started this book back in September, hoping to read it for a book based on a character in the Bible for the four month challenge hosted by Virginie. I'm not even sure why it ended up taking me two months to read the book, because I enjoyed the whole thing. It was funny, well written, and done really well.

Biff, also known as Levi, is brought back to life in modern times to write his gospel. His version includes the years before Jesus (Biff calls him Joshua) began his ministry. Biff is hilarious and irreverent, but devoted to Josh. Biff and Josh travel to India and China and spend many years learning from the three wise men and having adventures.

I have no idea what the "H" in Jesus H. Christ stood for. It's one of the things I should have asked him. page 2

The main story is there, all the characters you'd expect: Mary Magdalene (called Maggie), Joseph of Arimethia, Judas, the woman who would have been stoned except for the whole - he who has not sinned.... advice, all the disciples and apostles. Biff wasn't a fan of the parables especially mustard seed ones. Actually, Biff is pretty blunt and takes the brunt of the inappropriate behaviour in the book. Jesus or Josh, is pretty true to form, so readers worried that Jesus will be blasphemed can relax. Josh does have a sense of humor though, and doesn't mind teasing Biff or tricking him. And you can assume that the language was cleaned up for the real Bible, so there is some swearing.

This book was a reprint in 2007 and includes an Afterword by Moore. He explains what liberties he took in the timeline of travelling to China, but he felt he really had to answer the question, "What if Jesus knew kung-fu?"He explains his research process and his concern that he'd end up living with Salmon Rushdie after the book was originally published, so was pleased with the positive response.

This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

My school participated in the Million Minute Challenge today, a challenge where schools keep track of their reading minutes. Even at high school, once a month we have a silent reading period, where everyone in the school stops and reads for 20 minutes. The students in my class who forgot to bring a book were offered a selection of my science books - 100 Most Influential Scientists, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Planets, Latitude, Galileo's Daughter, e-mc^2. They weren't always pleased with the book I gave them, but they had to read something.

Still looking for suggestions for this week's Bookword Game. Pop on over and leave a suggestions, I'll leave the comments open until Wednesday. We can't be shut out. Somebody must have a good name.

In reading, I am in the time after the zombie war, trying to chronicle the beginning of the carnage, before people really knew what was happening. Very interesting book! (World War Z, Max Brooks)

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BOOK: The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, 262 pages
A Mathematical Adventure
translated by Michael Henry Heim

One of my students in grade eleven physics brought me this book because he thought I would like it because it was all about math. How sweet was that? He was so very right about the book. As a math lover, I appreciated how well this cute little book is put together and how accessible math is made in the book, but this book is also for people who don't appreciate math, yet. (Apparently, there are people out there who don't like math. Go figure - I think it's amazing.)

This is the story of Robert, a little boy who has nightmares, and who hates math in school. Suddenly, the number devil appears in his dreams and spends twelve nights showing Robert some cool patterns and numbers. Prime numbers, infinite numbers, Fibonacci series, Pascal's triangle, combinations. All are developed and explained with simplicity and logic and some humor. And if you have never seen Pascal's triangle and all the flabbergasting patterns it holds, then you didn't have a very good math teacher.

The story is quick, and easy to read, with illustrated pictures included, and math demonstrated. Some terms are worded differently, like taking the square root is called rutabaga, because it is a root vegetable, and prime numbers are called prima donna numbers. The index at the back cross lists both terms. I think it's the kind of book I'd like to have around here for my kids to hopefully pick up and enjoy. It's never too early to introduce the wonder of math.

This book is recommended on the back cover for children and other thinking beings.

BOOK: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 391 pages

YA Dystopian Challenge

Second book in a trilogy.
Almost as good as the first.
Cliffhanger of an ending!
Great characters.
Young Adult Dystopian.
Brutal and violent but less than the first.
Not the love triangle I thought it would take.
Can't wait for the next book.

Friday, October 23, 2009

LIST: Top 10 Atlantic Canadian books

Chris at book-a-rama posted this List, that was found here, on her Friday Bookish Buzz. Nimbus Publishing picked the books based on the votes of more than 700 authors, critics, librarians, professors, booksellers, and readers. This is an awesome list of Atlantic Canadian books. I've read 7 of them, and they are among my favorite books of all time. Only two I haven't heard of, but I plan to do some investigating and fill in my local reading gaps.

The top-10 titles are:

1. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
2. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
3. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston* I have it here and hope to read it soon
4. The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler
5. Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
6. Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan
7. Random Passage by Bernice Morgan
8. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod
9. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
10. Rockbound by Frank Parker Day

If you are looking for a great Canadian book to read, this is a good place to start. I recommend all the highlighted books, and I know that John Mutford at the book mine set would also recommend The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

GAME: The Bookword Game

The results are in, and better late than never. With a strong showing in the poll, the new word for what we call a book that makes you read chapter after chapter long after you decided to quit for the night is midnight special suggested by bybee. Great suggestion bybee!

This week we'll look for suggestions for what we can call a book that would be good to leave in the bathroom to read. There are books you can buy, Uncle John's Bathroom Reader but sometimes there are other books that would be great in the bathroom. Any suggestions? I'll take suggestions in the comments for the next week and then there will be a poll for voting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Don't forget to vote in the latest Bookword Game. Voting until late Wednesday, then I'll post results and take suggestions on the next word.

Reading wise, I am in back in Panem with Katniss and Peeta, on the way to the Capital. (Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins)
Sometimes I am in the gospel according to Biff, best friend of Jesus also known as Josh. Biff and Josh are in China right now, but on their way to India soon. (Lamb, by Christopher Moore)

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

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BOOK: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Title and Author of Book?
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
by Marisha Pessl, 514 pages

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre?

What led you to pick up this book?
I heard of this book over two years ago when the title caught my fancy. For the non-physics fans out there, there is no physics in the book. It was one of the NY Times Notable Books in 2006.

More recently, I picked it because it was on my TBR Lite Challenge list, and Marisha Pessl was born in October, making it a perfect book for Celebrate the Author.

Summarize the plot, but don't give away the ending!
Blue van Meer, college student, is writing a book about her last year in high school. Her childhood has been spent all over America as her political/philosophical Professor father moves from college to college. She makes friends with a pretentious group of students and an unbalanced and sketchy teacher at her newest school.

What did you like most about the book?
The final 100 pages made up for a slow middle section. I liked the way the plot evolved in the end and all the events and references from earlier were explained.
The literature references were fun, and the final exam at the end was a very unique way to tie up the book and give some perspective on events and characters in the book.
The writing was smart and chockful of information, historical, factual, and literature.

What did you like least?
I lost interest in the middle of the book as the mystery was still far off.
The continual allusions and references got a bit tiring after a while.
Blue's dependence and admiration of her father were a bit creepy.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books?
This is her only book published.

What did you think of the main character?
Blue was a unique voice, very educated. At times she seemed conflicted between her tremendous intellect and understanding of characters, with her obvious lack of ability to interact with people. She never knew what to do or say, but she could think and analyse everybody.

Any other particularly interesting characters?
Everyone was interesting, from Hannah the teacher, to the Bluebloods, Blue's friends.

Share a quote from the book:
Love or, more accurately, infatuation ("Take as much care with words expressing your sentiments as you will crafting your doctoral dissertation," Dad said.) was one of those no-good drifter emotions. (page 390)

The girl…nervously bared her long and pointy teeth (see ‘Venus Flytrap,’ North American Flora, Starnes, 1989).

What about the ending?
The ending was very good. I was ready for it about 150 earlier, but the payoff was very good.

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?
It's a NY Times Notable Book, so people who like listed books would like it. It's a coming of age story as well, and lots of literature references.

Marisha Pessl was born October 26, 1977.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CHALLENGE: Four Month Challenge, Part Two

Beginning November 1st, running until the end of February hosted by Virginie Says... This is a fun challenge, finding books to fit different categories, and adding up the points. I never expect to get all the points, but it's the trying. Italic titles are ideas and possibilities, bolded categories are completed.

Running total: 210 pts

5 Point Challenges

Read a book with a proper name in the title - The Nine Live of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong

Read a book about a queen or king - The Heretic Queen

Read a book by a Bronte - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Read a book about Vampires - Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Read a book by V.C. Andrews -

10 Point Challenges

Read a book by Canadian author - Vinyl Cafe Diaries by Stuart McLean

Read a book by Charles Dickens -

Read a book set in France - The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Read a book by Georgette Heyer - Why Shoot the Butler?

Read an ‘art’ themed book - Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

15 Point Challenges

Read a book with a Civil War theme (any country) - Small Wars by Sadie Jones (Cyprus)

Read a book with characters inspired by King Arthur or about King Arthur/Camelot - I Am Morgan LaFay - Nancy Springer

Read a biography/autobiography - Nellie McClung - Charlotte Gray

Read a book related to or something by Shakespeare - Tales from Shakespeare - Marcia Williams

Read a book by an author born in November, December, January or February - Hypothermia by Arnuldar Indridason (January)

20 Point Challenges

Read a book with a wintery theme (Christmas, snow, ice, freezing etc.) - Let It Snow - John Green, et al.

Read a book that was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri

Read a book that begins with A and one that begins with Z - The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg, Z for Zachariah by Robert O'Brien

Read a book from The Modern Library Top 100 - Wide Sargasso Sea, The Bridge of San Luis Rey,

Read a book and then write a review- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

GAME: The Bookword Game

It's time for a poll to vote on the latest Bookword - What do we call a book that makes you read chapter after chapter long after you decided to quit for the night?
Maybe we still like pageturner, or maybe someone has thought of a new word that is better. For a few days there, it looked like pageturner for the win, but then some ideas appeared. thanks! I left the pageturner option in the poll. Here are the choices:

  • midnight special suggested by bybee
  • continue-em suggested by arcona
  • Tunnel-vision read suggested by Michelle
  • Obsess-a-book suggested by Michelle
  • a flipper suggested by Suey
  • Insomni-book suggested by CarrieK
  • Addictabook suggested by Melissa
  • Rivetread suggested by Bibliolatrist
  • Engageapage suggested by Bibliolatrist
  • AM Addiction suggested by raidergirl3
  • Pageturner suggested by the rest of the world
Be sure to stop by my blog to vote in the poll for the next week only, (it's not visible on Google Reader.) I'll have the results next week, and then another word to think about.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

What a wonderful long weekend we had here in Canada. Thanksgiving dinner with both sides of the family, lots of great meals and wine and wonderful weather. I even got some decluttering done around here on Monday - getting summer things put away is so satisfying.

The Bookword Game at Suey's doesn't have many suggestions yet. Is there another name for What do we call a book that makes you read chapter after chapter long after you decided to quit for the night.? Leave a comment at her blog soon if you can think of something.

In reading, I am still in high school with Blue van Meer. She and her clique of friends are about to deal with some trauma. I am not half way yet (it's over 500 pages) so I am still getting the story set up. Someone just drowned at the party the kids crashed. (Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl)
I am also in the New Testament, reading ever so slowly the lost gospel by Biff, JC's best friend. Lamb by Christopher Moore.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2009

CHALLENGE: YA Dystopian Reading Challenge

Challenges seem to be on the way out in blogger land - too many people are taking on too many commitments in reading so they are starting to cut back. I say, I understand the rationale behind it, but the buttons, and the list are too compelling. I can't stop. Especially for dystopian novels, and if you make it Young Adult novels? Well then, that is right up my alley. If I have to pick between 1 and 4 books to read between now and the end of the year, I can easily find that number of books to hope to read. And reading challenges are all about hopes to read. (And list, don't forget the beautiful lists!)

So thanks to Bart for hosting a challenge and keeping us book bloggers true to our roots.

Here's the list of books around the house these days that I have to pick from:
1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
3. Z is for Zachariah by Robert O'Brien
4. The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne Dupre
5. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
6. The House of Power by Patrick Carman

Let's say I hope to read at least 2 of these before the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Don't forget to vote for the latest Bookword at Sueys. Voting is easy - just ticky the little boxy. She should have the results up around Wednesday, and a new word to think on.

I am just starting a book so I am not completely sure where I am. I think I am in high school, and I am narrating my life which, according to my father, I am too young to be writing a memoir, so something dramatic must have happened. (Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl)

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

Monday, October 5, 2009

BOOK: Souvenir of Canada by Douglas Coupland

Souvenir of Canada by Douglas Coupland, 140 pages

3rd Canadian Book Challenge; Dewey Decimal Challenge: 971

I love the way Coupland writes, I love the way he words things. I love the pop references in his book. I knew I loved the way he put ideas together, and then I saw the collection of still life photographs he fashioned to represent Canadians and Canada, and it was complete. Coupland can do no wrong.

The book is written for Canadians, as we share our cultural history and nod and go hmm mmm, and then remember to say "Good book, eh?" It would provide some insight into Canadians you might know, but I'm not sure how many in-jokes are present. Maybe a lot. Maybe they aren't jokes though. We are different from Americans, even as we share so much of their culture that we feel we know them. Did you know that Canadians can buy their milk in 1L plastic bags, that we put into a milk container and then cut open and pour?

Part of the appeal for me is that Coupland is only a few years older than me, we are the beginning of Generation X, surviving in the shadow of the Baby Boomers, so we share a history of experiences just for growing up in the same time periods.

The book is written in a series of chapters or vignettes, in somewhat alphabetical order, that could be an encyclopedia of Canada. Coupland is not afraid to show his biases, and his perspective on the topics, and they range from the humorous to the serious, how we speak cereal French to the FLQ. Just watch me.

I returned this to the library a while ago, but I jotted down the titles of some chapters to remind me of the book. For you Canadians, can you guess why they were included?

Capitaine Crounche
DEW line

BOOK: The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, 343 pages

RIP IV Challenge; Young Adult

The cover drew me in at Walmart a few weeks ago. The statues, with the red rose was so striking. I have so many books I already know I want to read that it felt weird to just pick up a random book I had not heard of before. The inside flap description made it sound perfect for the season, that is, the spooky Halloween season and the RIP challenge.

Twin sisters, Lia and Alice, discover that they have inherited a legacy, a vital role in a prophecy that could spell the end of the world, with demons and lost souls wrecking havoc on the world. Set in the 1890s in eastern United States provided an unusual time period. I didn't always feel the time period profoundly, it could have been in many time eras just as easily.

Lia and Alice realize that they cannot trust each other as they will be on opposite sides of the prophecy. Lia narrates, so we mainly see her side of the story. Lia was a strong character, searching for ways to do the right thing. And unfortunately, it is a part of a series that isn't written yet! I will have to wait to find out how the sisters will attempt to end the prophesy once and for all. I haven't read a lot of young adult fantasy, paranormal books so I'm not the best judge of these books. I enjoy them, but as a change of pace. It kept my interest and has a plot with ancient legends that is very original.

also reviewed by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie