Wednesday, January 31, 2007

From the Stacks Challenge Wrap-Up

Thanks for Michelle from Overdue Books for hosting this wonderful "get 'er done" challenge. At the first of November I joined the From the Stacks Challenge and set a goal to read 10 books from my stacks. I didn't quite make that goal, but I did empty out nine books. Good times! These are the books I've read:
1. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
2. Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters
3. Baron in the Trees by Calvino Italo
4. Triangle by Katharine Weber
5. Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters
6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
7. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
8. The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters
9. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen
Three of the books are from the Amelia Peabody mystery series. Only 999 more to go, or so it seems! Read book 2 from the Maisie Dobbs series. One of my 2006's favorite, The Book Thief, I read for this challenge. I feel good about my finish.

The one book I didn't read was Birth Marks by Sarah Dunant. Fact is, I tried, but just couldn't get into it. It's going to be mooched off as an unread attempt.

Thanks again, Michelle! A very fun and worthwhile challenge. And to think you hosted it during a move. Hats off to you.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Eyre Affair

by Jasper Fforde

I read this book in Feb 2006 and enjoyed it immensely. That review is HERE. My daughter recently listened to it on CD and loved it, but expressed surprise that I would like a book that had quite a bit of swearing. I really didn't notice the swearing while reading it, but this time through I noticed it alot. I think I skim over it while reading and I can't do that while listening. Anyway I still liked it a lot. I got so much more out of it by reading and was able to focus more on the characters and storyline.

"Imagine this. Great Britain in 1985 is close to being a police state. The Crimean War has dragged on for more than 130 years and Wales is self-governing. The only recognizable thing about this England is her citizens' enduring love of literature. And the Third Most Wanted criminal, Acheron Hades, is stealing characters from England's cherished literary heritage and holding them for ransom.

Bibliophiles will be enchanted, but not surprised, to learn that stealing a character from a book only changes that one book, but Hades has escalated his thievery. He has begun attacking the original manuscripts, thus changing all copies in print and enraging the reading public. That's why Special Operations Network has a Literary Division, and it is why one of its operatives, Thursday Next, is on the case.

Thursday is utterly delightful. She is vulnerable, smart, and, above all, literate. She has been trying to trace Hades ever since he stole Mr. Quaverley from the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and killed him. You will only remember Mr. Quaverley if you read Martin Chuzzlewit prior to 1985. But now Hades has set his sights on one of the plums of literature, Jane Eyre, and he must be stopped.

How Thursday achieves this and manages to preserve one of the great books of the Western canon makes for delightfully hilarious reading. You do not have to be an English major to be pulled into this story. You'll be rooting for Thursday, Jane, Mr. Rochester--and a familiar ending." Otto Penzler, reviewer

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

2007 Newbery Award

The winner for the 2007 Newbery Award was announced on Jan. 22. The winner is A Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. The cover is attractively upbeat and the story sounds upbeat as well. The Newbery Award recognizes excellence in children's literature.

In “The Higher Power of Lucky,” Patron takes us to the California desert community of Hard Pan (population 43). Ten-year-old Lucky Trimble eavesdrops on 12-step program meetings from her hiding place behind Hard Pan’s Found Object Wind Chime Museum & Visitor Center. Eccentric characters and quirky details spice up Lucky’s life just as her guardian Brigitte’s fresh parsley embellishes her French cuisine.

“‘Lucky’ is a perfectly nuanced blend of adventure, survival (emotional and physical) and hilarious character study... as well as a blueprint for a self-examined life,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Jeri Kladder. “Through Lucky’s experiences, we are reminded that children support one another just as needy adults do.”

Winners of other prestigious literary awards were also announced by the ALA yesterday. Including the Caldecott Medal to Flotsam by David Wiesner. The Caldecott is for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The Printz Award is for excellence in literature written for young adults. This year's winner is American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. There were four honor books in this category which bear noting: The Astonishing Life of Octavaian Nothing by M.T. Anderson; An Abundance of Katherines by John Green; Surrender by Sonya Hartnett; and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

For Lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, the Edwards Award went to Lois Lowry, author of The Giver.

There were at least 22 honors awarded. You can view them all at ALA Awards and Scholarship page. I thought there was one more award worth mentioning. The Alex Awards go to the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. I am surprised by some of these.

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (really???)

Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska by Michael D'Orso

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Color of the Sea by John Hamamura

The Floor of the Sky by Pamela Carter Joern

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (I would think this one would be challenging for most teens)

The World Made Straight by Ron Rash

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins
Rating 5/5
I've finished my first classic! Thanks to so many other bloggers for their glowing comments about Wilkie Collins. Without your comments I may never have heard of or read any of his works. I loved this book and found myself comparing it to another gothic novel that I read recently, The Thirteenth Tale. I rated TTT a 5 as well, but I must confess that there is NO comparison. The Woman in White is masterfully written, drawing the reader's interest from the start and holding through every phase of the story.

The mystery of The Woman in White is told by various narrators, who each reveal to the reader only those parts of the story they know or have discovered. The main narrator is Walter Hartright, who is employed by the odiously hypochondiac, Mr. Fairlie to instruct his two nieces, the half-sisters Laura and Marion.

A couple of the characters are so well formed that I'm sure they will stay with me for years. Although I don't fully understand Marions intense devotion to Laura, she is a very likeable person. She is intellegent, loyal and charming. Another powerful figure is Count Fosco, who is a large jovial man with a lust and love of life that you cannot help liking him even if you don't trust him.

I do not want to discuss the book too much. I knew nothing about the storyline, the characters, or even the genre of The Woman in White and, so was pleasantly surprised on all accounts. I know there are several who are reading this for the classics challenge and I'm anxious to hear how others felt about it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thirteen Literary Characters I Would Like As Friends

I saw a post with this idea last week but I can't, for the life of me, think who did it so I can give them credit. Right then I made a list of characters I would add to my Thursday Thirteen list for this week. Guess what, I lost it! So from the top of my head and in no particular order, here's my list of 13 literary characters I would like to have as friends.

1. Thursday Next - the plucky herione of Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book. Thursday lives in an alternate 1980's England. She has a pet Dodo version 1.8 named Pickwick and she's a Special Operative in the Literary Division of Jurisfiction. Thursday has a great sense of humor and is not easily buffaloed by others.

2. Winnie the Pooh - what's there to say? A warm fuzzy bear who I could tell all my secrets to would be the best friend ever. Pooh Bear would always bring a smile to my face and help me keep my feet firmly planted with his simple wisdom.

3. Mary DiNunzio - One of the team of four women who work at Rosato & Associates Law Firm in Philadelphia. Actually I would like to be friends with all four women. They are tough, determined, feminine lawyers who are out for fair play. I picked Mary because of her thoroughly Italian mother and father. I'm Danish myself, but I love the get togethers with Mary, her parents and other members of the firm. Featured in several books written by Lisa Scottoline.

4. Marian Halcombe - One of the major characters in Wilke Collins' mystery/romance, The Woman in White. She is devoted, tough, smart, strong-willed and courageous.

5. Maisie Dobbs - The demure, savvy lady detective featured in Jacqueline Winspear's mystery series has an intuitive way of helping people feel good about themselves.

6. Hester Latterly - A nurse during the Crimean War who marries the mysterious William Monk in Anne Perry's mystery series. Hester is supportive of William, she's a hard worker and she's a bright woman who doesn't cook.

7. Amelia Peabody - Okay, this person might scare me a bit. I know I wouldn't be up to her mental skills, but if we were friends and she had somehow learned to love me in spite of myself, I could greatly enjoy watching her mind work. And I do so love her relationship with Emerson, her husband. Amelia is a main character in her own mystery series written by Elizabeth Peters.

8. Odd Thomas - The loveable, kind-hearted, quirky young man who is the lead in his own series that is written by one of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz. I wouldn't want to hang out too much with this guy because that would be more adventure than I could take. But I love to spend about a book's worth of time with him every 6 months or so.

9. Despereaux - The brave little mouse in Kate Dicamillo's book who fights for the happiness of his princess with a sewing needle. Such bravery might rub off on me and help me fight the daily battles of life.

10. Mma Ramotswe - This women, who is built the way men like, runs her own detective agency in Botswana. She is matter-of-fact and down-to-earth. A little like Winnie the Pooh but older and maybe, a little wiser, though I don't know for sure. Created by Alexander McCall Smith in The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

11. Lady Susanna Appleton - The herione who was married by her uncle to a good-for-nothing womanizer. I was first introduced to Susanna in Face Down Upon a Bone Marrow Pie by Kathy Lynn Emerson. Susanna is skilled at solving mysteries. Seems to be a common thread among the literary characters I would like to have as friends.

12. Rose Chandler - 'She is too ugly to attract a husband, or so she is often told, and too fearful and disabled by fits of asthma to do much more than lead an old ox around the orchard. Her timidity attracts the attention of the orchard's owner, Mr. Brae, who wants an heir and needs a compliant girl to help him get one. He makes an irresistible offer to Rose's parents--status, possessions, and freedom from bondage--in exchange for Rose's hand in marriage to the monstrous grandson he has kept locked in the attic since birth. Everyone at Greengarden fears "The Thing," who is rumored to feed on human flesh, but the teen finds the inner reserves to accept the offer, both for the sake of her family and even more for her secret desire to own and nurture the orchard.' from the School Library Journal. Rose is the lead character in Dia Calhoun's White Midnight.

13. Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser - The time-crossed lovers from Diana Galbaldon's Outlander series.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Cure for the Common Life

by Max Lucado
Rating 3.25/5
I just wrote a couple paragraphs about this book and my internet just blinked out on me. There's nothing more aggravating. Okay, so maybe there is, but when this happens it is definitely aggravating!
Little do I feel like rewriting it. Suffice it to say Cure for the Common Life is a self-help book that I read for my f2f book club. It was okay, but I'm not big on self-help books.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

by Kim Edwards
Rating 4.25/5
I really enjoyed this book even though it was a bit unbelieavable and some of the characters were hard to care about. I mean, what father is going to give up one twin at birth because she has Down's syndrome? But since the whole book revolves around that one incident, you have to allow that it happened and read on. The author presented a number of plausible reasons why the father did that, and who knows, in that day and age, under conditions of stress and fatigue, with memories of the past and out of love and concern for his wife, and with the means available a father may have made that type of split second decision.
The impact David's decision had on his life, his marriage, his son (the other twin) and on the nurse who raised the twin with Down's syndrome was great. The book introduces us to a young couple (David and Norah), very much in love and expecting their first baby, and follows them through their lives to several years after the David's death. Some chapters focus on David, Norah and their son, Paul and others focus on the nurse, Caroline, and Phoebe, the twin who was given up.
It's heartbreaking to read about relationships that could possibly mend if those involved would just communicate with each other. In this story the secrets created such thick barriers that relationships and lives were greatly diminished. Each person interpreted the meaning for the barriers differently and each thought he was to blame. The message to me: people can deal with the truth, it's the lies and secrets that confuse, misdirect, and haunt us.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

by Liz Jensen
Rating 4/5
This is another weird book, but I still liked it a lot. The main character is a 9-year-old boy named Louis Drax. Every year something violent seems to happen to him. One year it was cot death, another salmonella poisoning. On the day of his ninth birthday, at a picnic with his parents in the mountain, Louis falls off a cliff and winds up in a coma.

The story is told from several different perspectives: Louis's, the father's, the mother's, the doctors'. This is a book that I wouldn't rave about, but I think it was definitely an above average read.

Friday, January 05, 2007


by Katharine Weber
Rating 4/5
I finished reading this on Dec. 30, but didn't have time to post it until now. I was interested in reading this book because it deals with the horrible Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. The approach is unusual, but creative.

Esther Gottesfield, at 106, is the last survivor of the fire. She has told her story on countless occasions, but there are a few discrepancies that raise questions for Ruth Zion, who is a Triangle fire historian. After Esther dies, Ruth shares her theory about Esther with Esther's granddaughter, Rebecca, and her partner, George. Of course, Rebecca and George are upset and search for clues to disprove Ruth's claims.

Intermixed into this story is the one about George and Rebecca. Mostly George, who is a musical composer. George's music is inspired by patterns found in nature, from Sierpinski triangles to human DNA to the Triangle fire itself.

Overall, I'm glad I read this book even though it was somewhat disconcerting at times. Learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the fire was very interesting, but sometimes I felt the other parts of story were weird.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Rest Falls Away

by Colleen Gleason
Rating 4.25/5
I received a free, signed copy from the Colleen for hosting a drawing for her book on my blog. Needless to say, I was was thrilled. This book will keep you reading and asking questions. Kailana over at Kailana's Written World have shared comments via email about the ending and some of the questions we have about certain characters.

The main character is Victoria Gardella, who learns just prior to her coming out party that she is a venator, or vampire killer. There are three men in her life. The complexity of these relationships and the drama between Victoria's daily prim and proper life versus her nightly adventures as a vampire killer and her destined meeting with the vampire leader create a building crescendo of intrigue and tension.

I've read only 2 vampire tales: Bram Stoker's Dracula and Stephanie Meyer's YA book, Twilight, so I'm by no means an expert, but I really like Gleason's creative takes on the vampire lore. According to Gleason, there have been vampires trying to take over the earth since the time of Christ. There have been venator's since that time who have taken on the dangerous responsibility of ridding the earth of vampires and protecting the unsuspecting masses. Some become venators through bloodline. Victoria is chosen through the Gardella bloodline.

I also liked the quote at the beginning of the book by Muriel Rukeyser: "I think there is choice possible to us at any moment, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007 Winter Classics Challenge

I am hosting this challenge because my education has left me very deprived in my familarity with classic literature. I thought some others may appreciate a nudge in the classics direction. I'm overwhelmed with the response and tickled pink. It's going to be a rewarding couple of months reading everyone's blogs, learning more about so many different classics, and reading my 5 chosen classics.

***The challenge is to read five classics during the months of January and February***

At the end of February there will be a drawing for all those who complete the challenge. I'm still deciding on a prize. If you would like to join along and read some of those classics that you keep promising that you'll get to, winter is a great time to get 'er done. Plus, there's something fun about joining with other reader's on a challenge.

It's not too late to join! All you need to do to join is leave me a comment when you have your books posted and I'll include you in the list below. As far as I'm concerned you are welcome to overlap challenges. Bookfool is hosting a Chunksters Challenge and Mizbooks is doing a To Be Read Challenge - both too fun to pass up.

Participants in the 2007 Winter Classics Challenge: (please let me know if I've missed anyone or if the link isn't correct) There are many new-to-me bloggers that I'm looking forward to getting to know better. Everybody's lists look enticing, so I'll be adding lots more books to my TBR list - all classics that I'll be able to choose from for next year's classics challenge.

1. Literay Feline - Musings of a Bookish Kitty
2. Lazy Cow - Only Books All the Time
3. SuziQoregon - Blogging My Books
4. Exlibris - Ex Libris
5. Lotus - Lotus Reads
6. Babel Babe - Behind the Stove
7. Jackie - Reading at the Nest
8. Orange Blossom Goddess - The Library Ladder
9. Joy - Thoughts of Joy
10. Hollydolly - Hollydolly Books
11. Jess - the Garish and Tweed blog
12. Kailana - Kailana's Written World
13. Stephen - Stephen Lang
14. Sara - Libromancy
15. Emasl - Random Jottings of a Book & Opera Lover
16. Caligula03 - Puss Reboots
17. Carl V. - Stainless Steel Droppings
18. Heather - A High and Hidden Place
19. Emily - Lost in the Pages
20. The Traveller - Around the World in 100 Books
21. Danielle - A Work in Progress
22. sfp - Pages Turned
23. Think Pink Dana - So Many Books, So Little Time
24. Fay - Historical/Present
Eva - Evagation
Kat with a K - from Kat with a K
Kucki - Kucki Cookies
28. Tony - Storyteller's World
29. MissyJoon - Persian Purls and Yarnovers
30. Beloved Dreamer

31. K -Bibliomane
32. Brandie - A Journey of 1000 Stitches
33. Aka Nik - Keep This on the DL
34. Henk - Masterpieces
35. Nessie - The Biblio Files
36. Iliana - BookGirl's Nightstand
37. Amy - Books, Words, and Writing
38. Dark Orpheus - Orpheus Sings the Guitar Electric
39. Michelle - Overdue Books
40. Mizbooks - Literary Cache
41. Sheila - The Sheila Variations
42. Annie - Reading is My Superpower
43. Stephanie
44. Verbivore - Incurable Logophilia
45. Tanabata - In Spring It Is the Dawn
46. Janet - Joyful Jottings
47. Bookfool - Bookfoolery and Babble
48. Raidergirl - Raidergirl3's Journal
49. DJ - Minute Marginalia
50. Jill- My Individual Take (On the Subject)
51. Mary - Marys Library
52. Lover of Books
53. Antonia - Flowerville
54. Bookish Lore - Literary Craving
55. Framed - Framed and Booked
56. Aimee - Aimee-isms Books
57. Melissa - Book Nut
58. Kirsten - Nose in a Book
59. Kristensdottir
60. Petunia - Educating Petunia
61. Chloe - *Insert Title Here*
62. Restless Reader
63. Faerie Rebecca
64. J
65. Wendy - Caribousmom
66. JaneFan - Austen-tatious
67. Mistihollrah - Four-ty Things
68. Maggie - Maggie Reads
69. Cheryl - Journey of Cross and Quill
70. Anne - My Ramblings and Readings
71. Melanie - The Indextrious Reader
72. Leann - Homeschoolblogger
73. Lynda - Lost in the Bookstacks
74. Shauna - Shaunarumbling
75. Sarala - Blogaway
76. 3M - 3M's Booklist
77. Tahnee -
78. Michelle -
79. Sherry - A Bibliomane Amidst Butterflies
80. Polly - Polly Want a Cracker
81. Booklogged - A Reader's Journal
82. Stephanie - Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
83. Stacey - My Reads
84. Wendy - Wendy's Place
85. Susan - My Reading Adventures
86. Rajm - Links and Things
87. Country Goalie - To the Hilt
88. Paula - On a Rainy Night
89. Eva - A Striped Armchair
90. Stacey - Suddenly I See
Alyson - Fifty Books
92. Cheryl
93. Covers Girl - Between the Covers
94. Trish - Just Another Reader in Paradise
95. Rosangela - Bookshelves Bookreviews
96. Amy - Sleepy Reader
97. Verniciousknids - Vernicious Knids
98. Heidijane - Adventures in Bookland
99. The Duck Thief - Great White North
100. Pam
101. A Secret Place - Book Notes

320 X 239

200 X 149

150 X 112

150 X 91

The five classics I'm going to read this winter are:
1. Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (also counting as a Chunkster and TBR)
2. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (also counting as a Chunkster and TBR)
4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Lotus recommended this one)
5. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt or else something by Jane Austen

Bonus Read: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (because I have my grandmothers copy that was published in the early 1900's or 1910's.