Monday, December 31, 2007

The Reading Year in Review - 2007

It's been a good year. I've read 87 books and completed 18 reading challenges. I've never added up how many books I had read in a year so I don't know if that's better or worse than other years, but it sounds good to me. I do know I would read more if I didn't have a computer with games and the internet.

I was introduced to some terrific series: Victoria Gardella Vampire series by Colleen Gleason, Cliff Janeway (The Bookman series) by John Dunning, Irene Kelley by Jan Burke and Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Word for Home

by Joan Clark

I could have read this for the 2nds Challenge because this is my second book by Joan Clark, the first was Latitudes of Melt, which I enjoyed immensely.

The Word for Home is a young adult novel set in pre-Confederation Newfoundland. It's the story of 2 sisters who used to live in Canada, but after their mother died, their father decided to try his luck prospecting for gold in the interior of Newfoundland. With no home of their own, Sadie and flora must stay in a cold, grim boarding house in St. John's.

I liked this book and it got better with each page. I enjoyed getting a feel for the time period and St. John's.

Sadie's description of the headmistress and of her father showed great insight: "She had a man's way of seeming to occupy most of the available space. That is, most men except Sadie's father. Russ Morin was a spindly-legged, narrow-chested man who moved like a dancer, never occupying a solid block of space for long, instead searching for openings he could easily duck through."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2nds Challenge Completed

I've been introduced to some amazing authors this year. Thanks to Joy's encouragement I read a 2nd book by three of these authors.

The authors and books I chose are
1. John Dunning's The Bookman's Wake
2. Jan Burke's Goodnight, Irene (Which actually book one in the series. I happily stumbled across book 5 or 6 earlier this year.)
3. Katherine Hall Page's Body in the Kelp

All three are authors of mysteries. I'm quite sure I'll be reading more books by these authors.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Advent Calendar

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. My four daughters, 2 son-in-laws and 2 grandchildren are all close be for the next few days so it fun and games for us.

It's my turn to do the Christmas Advent Calendar being sponsored by Marg and Kailana.
I want to share our Christmas Eve tradition with you. It's one that's been going since I was a little girl and probably even before that.

In our church we've been encouraged to set aside Monday evenings to spend with our family. My mother and father didn't do that, but we always had Family Home Evening on Christmas Eve. When I was a child someone would read the story of Christ's birth from the bible and someone else would read The Night Before Christmas. In between stories we would sing carols. That part was very pathetic because nobody in my family could sing a single note on tune.

I will be 57 in a few days and this tradition is still carried on. Tonight children and grandchildren will gather at my mother's house for our traditional Family Home Evening. We start the evening with a potluck dinner. This year we doing Mexican foods. Luckily, over the years our singing skills have improved and many have joined the family with their beautiful voices. The young at heart enact the story of Christ's birth while someone reads it from the scriptures. We sing more carols and my youngest brother, the one with the motor-mouth, reads The Night Before Christmas. Sometimes families or individuals take a turn singing or performing for the rest of the group. One fond memory is the 3 Rasmussen brothers singing and dancing to Jingle Bells.

After the program we open the exchange presents from brothers and sisters and from cousin to cousin. And my mother opens her presents from her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She feels very spoiled and like she gets way too many presents, but we all want to see her open our presents so she has to do it while we are all there.

It's a fun evening, one I feel extremely blessed to be a part of for 57 years. I look forward to it with all the eagerness of a small child. The fact that my children and grandchildren also cherish this traditions makes it all the better.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoy the holiday week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Goodnight, Irene

by Jan Burke

I read book five in the Irene Kelly mystery series earlier this year and really liked it. So when Joy mentioned reading a second book by an author we'd only read one of, Jan Burke was an obvious choice.

In Goodnight, Irene the reader is introduced to Irene Kelly and several of her friends. The book starts out with one of her closest friend's murder. As a reporter, Irene picks up on the stories her friend was working on in hopes of finding clues that will lead to the murderer.

This type of book is like comfort food to me. Perfect for when I don't want to thing too hard, but want to escape for a few hours and be totally wrapped up in the story. I look forward to reading book two in the series soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card

The story is set in the future, approximately the year 2070. An alien race known as the Formics (often called the Buggers by children) has attacked Earth twice. Humans were very nearly destroyed the second time around, and would have been annihilated were it not for the work of Mazer Rackham. Now the government is preparing for the next invasion, gathering all of Earth's brightest children and sending them to Battle School, where they will learn to use their military genius to win the next Formic War.

The story centers around a child named Andrew Wiggin (given the nickname "Ender" by his sister's mispronunciation of his name). At the beginning of the book, Ender is only six. He is recruited into the IF (the International Fleet) and taken to Battle School, where he endures six years of intensive training. But Ender is not just another one of the children at Battle School; he is the one on whom all the government's hopes are pinned. For Ender is the best of the best, the genius among genius, and he is to be the next commander of the human fleet.

I wonder if J.K. Rowling ever read Ender's Game. As I read it I often thought of Harry Potter. Maybe it was because both books focused on young children or that the training games reminded me of Quiditch. Also, the young heroes of the books have to grow up so fast and face so much responsibility - They both hold the lives of so many in their hands. Even though I can't quite identify the similarities, in my mind at least, there was a similar feel.

Ender's Game was first conceived of when Card was only 16 years old. It was many years later that it was first published in a Science Fiction magazine as a short story. Even later Card developed it into a book that was awarded the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel. Ender's Game is used by the Marine Corps University at Quantico as a textbook on the psychology of leadership.

Thanks to Chris I own Speaker for the Dead which is a follow-up to Ender's Game. Card has said that Ender's Game was written specifically to establish the character of Ender for his role of the Speaker in Speaker for the Dead, the outline for which he had written before novelizing Ender's Game. I'm excitedly looking for to reading Speaker for the Dead.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reading by the Decades Challenge 2007 Finished

This has been a wonderful challenge - I read several books that I may not have every gotten around to without 3M's gentle nudge. One book is still alluding me. I just can't seem to get into The Magnificent Amberson's. In all honesty I only gave it 2 tries and only read a couple of pages. I think it's probably good, but the timing just wasn't right.

So these are the books I did read and you can see didn't read anything for 1910, so there's that l gap. Darn anyway.

  • 2000 Something Rotten

  • 1990 Ship Fever

  • 1980 Prayer for Owen Meany

  • 1970 Princess Bride

  • 1960 Flowers for Algernon

  • 1950 The Magican's Nephew

  • 1940 Barometer Rising

  • 1930 Gone with the Wind

  • 1920 Bridge of San Luis Rey

  • 1910 The Magnificent Ambersons

  • 1900 Scarlet Pimpernel

  • 1890 Yellow Wallpaper

  • 1880 Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

  • 1870 Through the Looking Glass

  • 1860 Woman in White

  • 3M is hosting this challenge again for 2008. If you didn't get a chance to join the fun this year, you can still get in for next year. Go to Decades '08 to sign up. Like the dear she is, 3M has compiled an extensive list of books by the decade as a resource.

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Christmas Theme Book Challenge Finished

    This was an easy challenge with just 2 books required. Thanks goes to Susan from My Reading Adventures for helping get me in the mood for Christmas. I enjoyed both the books I read.
    1. Christine Kringle by Lynn Brittney
    2. A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry

    A Christmas Secret

    by Anne Perry

    This was my second book for the Christmas Theme Book Challenge. Perry is one of my favorite authors. I especially like her WWI series and her Monk mystery series.

    This short book is about a mystery left on the shoulders of a young reverend and his wife who are temporarily filling the shoes of a well-loved reverend who was quickly called away from his parish.

    I liked the wife, Clarice, who tried so hard to build her husband's confidence in himself. She is kind of plain and often embarrasses her husband. I guess I related to that. The mystery was easy to solve and the story was not exceptional, but it was still a fun book.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Fall Into Reading Challenge Finished

    I love the sense of accomplishment when a set goal is reached. With the reading of Wonderlust I completed the Fall Into Reading 2007 Challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days blog. I didn't stick to my original list for every book. Read four that were on the original and switched 3 out for different books to satisfy my mood swings. These are the ones I read:
    1. Christine Kringle by Lynn Britney
    2. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland
    3. Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
    4. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
    5. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thorton Wilder
    6. The Bookman's Wake by John Dunning
    7. Wonderlust: A Spiritual Travelogue for the Adventurous Soul by Vicky Kuyper

    I enjoyed all the books. I probably liked Latitudes of Melt, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Bookman's Wake and Wonderlust a bit more than the others. Christin Kringle was probably my least favorite, but it was very fun to read for the Holidays. So - NO losers.

    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    Wonderlust:A Spiritual Travelogue for the Adventurous Soul.

    by Vicki Kuyper

    When the publisher asked if I would be interested in reading this book, I was more than a little hesitant. Here is what the email said about this book:
    WONDERLUST contains 30 spiritual travelogues of the author’s adventurous journeys around the globe. You will experience your own personal inner pilgrimage toward a better understanding of God and yourself as you join the author on a journey of discovery to find God’s imprint on creation, from hiking the Inca Trail to riding a dogsled across the Arctic tundra. Catch a glimpse of the wonder, beauty, and mystery of God’s world—and your unique place in it and in God’s heart. Each chapter is a minijourney that stretches across 7 states, 15 countries, and 5 continents. A “Personal Journey” section is included for personal reflection questions and journaling space.

    The travel part made my heart beat faster, but the religious part caused it to drop in free fall. Now I'm not a pure heathen, but Christian literature can sometimes be a bit of a turn-off for me. I strongly hate when Christians write about Diety in a casual maner, like Jesus was some Joe Smoe off the street. (That made me shudder to write - so offensive.) The other thing I hate is preachiness.

    All that said, I loved this book! Kuyper's writing is descriptive and appealing. I discovered many new destinations that I want to visit and some that I can quite easily pass by. I have great admiration for Kuyper and her fortitude. She can climb, hike and endure some challenging journeys. She visited places in the U.S. as close as Colorado and Arizona and as exotic as Italy, Scotland, Thailand, to name a few.

    I like how the author converses with God on a regular basis and not always in the typical prayer format. I was reminded often of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. And I like how she likened the scriptures to her life and situation.

    This is a great bathroom book. The chapters are short. I liked reading it in small chunks so I could ponder it in between readings. I left it on the hamper and my husband picked it up and read it. I brought it out to write this post and he thought I was adding it to my bookmooch inventory. He said, "You can't give that away. I want to read that one again." Of course, I had no thought of mooching it. It's a definite saver and one that I will read over and over. I need to keep my bookdarts and highlighter close by for the next reading.

    I hope other's will read this one and share your thoughts with me. I think you'll be glad you did.

    Be sure to check out Candleman's review. Candleman is my husband.

    Saturday, December 08, 2007

    Reading the Author Challenge Finished!

    Verbivore issued this fun challenge and it gave me the chance to read more works by John Dunning. At the time I took on this challenge I had only read Booked to Die. I liked it a lot and wanted to read more in the Cliff Janeway/Bookman series, so that's why I chose John Dunning as the author to read.

    I read and enjoyed:
    The Bookman's Wake
    The Bookman's Promise
    The Sign of the Book

    Thanks, Verbivore for the fun challenge. I loved every minute of it. My favorite so far in the series was The Bookman's Promise.

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    The Sign of the Book

    by John Dunning

    I am enjoying this mystery series immensely. The Sign of the Book is number four in the Cliff Janeway/Bookman series. The well-read and articulate Jenclair directed me to this series and I will always be grateful.

    Cliff Janeway is a former cop turned used book dealer. He has a relationship with Erin D'Angelo who is a highly respected lawyer. Together they are called upon to help solve the mystery of who killed Erin's former boyfriend. All signs point to Erin's high school best friend who had an affair with Erin's boyfriend, Bobby, and ended up marrying him.

    As with the previous books in this series, there are unexpected twists in the plot and there are fun tidbits about book collecting. Someone commented on one of my earlier reviews of a Janeway novel that these sounded like good cozy mysteries. I wouldn't classify them as typical, light cozy mysteries. This series is a little more hard-boiled and well-crafted.

    Only one more book's left in the series and that makes me sad. I wish there were lots more. I guess I'll be looking into some of Dunning's other work when I finish the Janeway series.

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Newbery Challenge Finished

    Earlier this year Think Pink Dana issued the Newbery Challenge and, since I haven't read a Newbery Award book that I have not liked, I joined up. Besides it's no secret how much a enjoy a good reading challenge.

    The 6 books I read for the challenge were:
    1. The Higher Power of Luckyby Susan Patron

    2. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

    3. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

    4. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De angeli

    5. The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

    6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
    It's hard to pick one I liked the best. I liked The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler the least, but it was still good. The slight negative feelings I have are probably because of the movie. Trust me - read the book and DO NOT watch the movie.

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    The Door in the Wall

    by Marguerite De Angeli

    I decided to read this Newbery Medal book because it won in the year I was born. The theme is presented early in the book when the friar, Brother Luke, leads a young crippled boy around the inside wall of the village. Brother Luke tells Robin that if he ever comes to a wall to just follow it and eventually he will find a door.

    Later as Robin learns to whittle and play the lute, and as he strengthens his arm muscles by swimming, Brother Luke reminds him that he is finding doors in the wall. All the doors take effort, but they are there and they lead us past the walls, or restrictions, of our lives.

    I hope my grandchildren grow into avid readers. I would like to read this one with them or give it to them when they get a little older. Along with teaching a valuable lesson it depicts the medieval period quite well. I learned that the word window came from the holes in the rock walls of buildings that were referred to as wind holes. I like picking up little tidbits like that in my reading.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Christine Kringle

    by Lynn Brittney

    In this book we learn that it's preposterous to believe that one, and only one, Santa can possibly stop at every single home on Christmas eve and deliver presents the world over. There are really many Santas that take over that responsibility. Each Santa and his family are members of the Yule Dynasty and each has his own country to take care of. In the US it is Kris Kringle, in Japan it is Santa Kurohsu, Brazil has Papai Noel, Slovakia has St. Mikulas, for Canada it's Old Belsnickle and in many South American countries there are the wise kings.

    The Yule Dynasty meets annually on Nov 29 to take care of business. This year Kris Kringle hopes to persuade the council to change the age-old policy of turning the family business over to the oldest son. You see, Pa and Ma Kringle only have a one child, their daughter Christine.

    There is another problem for the Yule convention when a small village in England announces it's decision to ban Christmas.

    The process of resolving these problems and a few others that emerge along the way are at the heart of this whimsical, creative and delightful book aimed at the 8 to 16 year old reader. Christine Kringle is a fun book that will certainly get you in the Christmas spirit with its fun takeoff on the Santa Claus tale.

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    The Bookman's Promise

    by John Dunning

    This is book #3 in The Bookman/Cliff Janeway crime series and it is my favorite, so far. Luckily there are 2 more in the series that I'm looking forward to reading.

    Janeway combines his antiques collector knowledge with his muscular tough guy cop persona in hot pursuit of the ultimate dream of every book collector: the undiscovered handwritten copy of a prolific and famous author.

    The Bookman's Promise is part book collector's paradise, filled with Dunning's unquestioned knowledge of musty book dens and collector's facts, and part mystery buff's delight as his sleuthing skills go on the hunt for clues that span a century.

    I liked this passage about writing and think it could apply to life itself:
    I think it was Doctorow who said that about the writing process - it's like driving a car across country at night and all you can ever see is what's immediately in your headlights, but you can make the whole journey that way.
    Another insight, this time dealing with books and the internet:
    A book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out. That was written two centuries ago by a German wit name Lichenberg, but I think the same applies today to a computer screen.
    A few other passages that struck me is some way:
    "I know it's tough, I said, and felt stupid saying it. She confirmed my stupidity with a frigid look. "You don't know anything," she said, carving me into a Mount Rushmore of dunces.

    Bad language is just bad manners, it's a symptom of a bankrupt mind.

    Give an idiot a microphone and he's just a louder version of the same old idiot.

    No one could have imagined that he'd do this to himself. It only proved that even a great poet like John Donne could be wrong. Every man is indeed an island, and deep personal torments can coexist with all the ingredients of a happy life.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Birds in Fall

    by Brad Kessler

    It was a bit of coincidence to read Birds in Fall right after reading Bel Canto. The books had such similar feelings. The mood that was created had to do with isolation from the real world and, too, the loss of normal time patterns. Both deal with a disaster that puts the main characters in a type of limbo. I talked about that mood that was described so well in Bel Canto in the review just before this one.

    The encapsulation into a temporary existence in Bel Canto was the result of members at a party for dignitaries being held hostage at the hands of terrorists. In Birds in Fall a different type of catastrophe produces a similar situation for a group of people who lost loved ones in a plane crash off the coast of Nova Scotia. The airlines arrange for families of the crash victims to fly and stay in Nova Scotia for a brief period of time. Some of those family members stay at a little inn very near the site of the crash. Each person is dealing with his or her own trauma that insulates them from the others. As the days go by little shared moments cause the cocoon to open and include the other's. Instead of disappearing the cocoon grows to surround the group and keep them in a time warp as they deal with the losses they are suffering.

    Bel Canto was told by a woman author and Birds in Fall by a male author. The stories are different and both are wonderfully told. But reading them so close together I couldn't help but be aware of how each author skillfully depicted a feeling, a mood, of life being placed on hold. People going through the motions of life, but cut off from the normal work-a-day life they had so recently been involved in.

    There was a lot of symbolism involving the migration of birds. Here's one example:
    "How is a story like a bird?"
    "It keeps us aloft. It flies. It goes from one place and lands at another, seemingly at random. But its movements are carefully choreographed, and if you look closely, you'll know exactly where it will next perch."

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Bel Canto

    by Ann Patchett

    I started this remarkable book in August because it was the selection for my f2f book club. Unfortunately I didn't finish it and I had to set it aside to finish up a few challenges. I picked it back up this month and finished the last half.

    Bel Canto received the Orange Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2002. The term 'Bel Canto' refers to a style of singing. Since part of the book's focus is on a woman who mesmerizes her audiences with her beautiful singing the title is apropos.

    The story is set in an unknown South American country. In an attempt to draw foreign money into their economy the country hosts a birthday party for a rich Japanese businessman with a famous opera singer providing the entertainment. In the middle of the party the guests are taken hostage by a radical militant group. All the woman but one, the opera singer, are released. The hostage situation drags on for over 4 months.

    "What begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion." (from the back cover)

    I really enjoyed my first Patchett book and look forward to reading more. She skillfully conveyed the feeling of complete closure from the real world. The hostages and terrorists both lived inside a bubble of space and time.
    "The day no longer progressed in its normal, linear fashion but instead every hour circled back to its beginning, every moment was lived over and over again. Time in the manner in which they had all understood it, was over."

    "Time could barely pull the second hand forward on the clock..."

    ". . . as if the world had become a giant train station in which everything was delayed until further notice."
    A few other quotes that I liked. I won't share all the passages I marked.
    "The quality of the gift depends on the sincerity of the giver. It also helps if the gift is something the receiver actually wants."

    "At the moment one is sure that all is lost, look at what is gained."

    "Step back," Roxane said, and shooed them away with her hand. "I'm going to want that air."

    "It's easier to love a woman when you can't understand a word she's saying."

    "He would not have chosen to draw attention to himself, and without his playing the story might have missed him altogether. But there was a need, a specific request, and so he stepped forward."

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Christmas Theme Book Challenge - 2007

    Here's one I feel confident that I can complete.
    Read 2 Christmas books in 2 months
    My choices:
    1. Christine Kringle
    by Lynn Britney
    2. The Cricket on the Hearth
    by Charles Dickens

    This fun challenge is brought to us by Susan at My Reading Adventures.

    The Body in Kelp

    by Katherine Hall Page

    This is book 2 in the Faith Fairchild 'TheBody In" series. All the books start with the words "The Body in." The first was The Body in the Belfry and the next one after The Body in the Kelp is The Body in the Bouillon. The series features a New York city woman transplanted to a small Massachusetts village when she marries the handsome minister. Of course, there is the occasional murder that needs to be solved to keep Faith's life interesting when she's not busy with her 2-year-old son and her small catering business.

    This series is perfect when you need a light, cozy mystery. Nothing to write home about but fun to read.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Latitudes of Melt

    by Joan Clark

    I read Shipping News earlier this year while we were traveling in Newfoundland. It didn't fill me with a sense of Newfoundland the way that Latitudes of Melt did. Shipping News could have taken place anywhere in a small, cold, coastal community whereas Latitudes evoked a strong sense of Newfoundland.
    "There amid the cushioning green, millions of bakeapples shown like orange stars, spreading inland as far as the eye could see, past the blue pond water to the infinite rise beyond. They were a galaxy whose constellations changed as handfulls of berries tumbled into pails. No matter how far the women walked inland, they were never out of sight of the sea. . . the berries grew best in boggy ground, the same bogs where purple iris grew."
    Newfoundland is in the middle of the latitudes of melt, between 46 and 51 degrees north, a region where icebergs calved in Greenland drift down the Labrador Current to dwindle in the coves before disappearing altogether below the 43rd parallel. For this reason alone the title was appropriate for the story. Clark carries the theme of icebergs and melting beyond the setting and into the characters themselves and their relationships. There are times when the current of circumstance melts the frost in a person's and other times when the cold hardens into an iceberg. And like an iceberg only a small portion of the thing is visible.

    Latitudes of Melt starts out when the main character, Aurora, is found bundled into a basket and floating on a flat piece of ice. The book is about her life and those she is closely associated with. It covers nearly the whole of the 20th century.

    I really liked this book - the story, the writing, the characters were all captivating. It was a treat to read about some things I had learned about earlier in the year, such as growlers, bakeapples, bogs, the Christmas tradition of mummering and confederation. This is a book I look forward to reading again.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    2008 TBR Challenge

    Mizbooks is again hosting the TBR Challenge. YAY! This is one of the first challenges I signed up for last year and it remains one of my favorite. The whole point is to choose books you've been wanting to read and/or books you've had on the list or library shelf for too many months. I have more this year to choose from than ever before.

    Other book bloggers have made so many great recommendation and I've been introduced to Bookmooch which makes it so easy to acquire books. The list grows and the shelves moan. I NEED this challenge. The real challenge is choosing just 12 books.

    I narrowed the choices to this small list of 12. I have got to stop buying and trading books. And I should probably quit reading all those fabulous book blogs that I love.
    1. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
    2. Lewis Carroll Biography by Morton N. Cohen
    3. Yarrow by Charles de Lint
    4. Sixpence House by Paul Collins
    5. And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran
    6. Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
    7. Singer of All Songs Kate Constable
    8. Birth House by Ami McKay
    9. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
    10. Grandmother and the Priests by Taylor Caldwell
    11. Cruel Miracles by Orson Scott Card
    12. The Sign of the Book by John Dunning

    Young Adult Reading Challenge

    Another "Joy"ful challenge from Thoughts of Joy to simply read 12 young adult books in 2008.
    1. River Secrets by Shannon Hale
    2. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
    3. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M. T. Anderson
    4. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
    5. Trumpeter of Karkow by Eric P. Kelly
    6. Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
    7. Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
    8. Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
    9. Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable
    10. Anne of Avonlea by M.L. Montgomery
    11. Magyk by Angie Sage
    12. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Ella Enchanted

    by Gail Carson Levine

    This is a totally enjoyable, clever take-off of the Cinderella story. There are enough twists and turns along with some new story elements to make this a 'new' story, not just a retelling of the same story.

    I would have love this book as a youngster. And since I didn't read in my younger days, I'm glad I can still read a youth or YA book and today and experience much the same pleasure.

    Ella Enchanted is a Newbery Honor book.

    "What's In A Name?" Reading Challenge

    Annie from Words by Annie is hosting an interesting reading challenge for next year. It's called "What's In A Name?" A Reading Challenge.

    Dates: January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008

    The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories. I listed a couple to choose from.

    1. A book with a color in its title.
    Yellowknife by Steve Zip
    White Bone by Barbara Gowdy

    2. A book with an animal in its title.
    Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosopy Through Jokes by Thomas Catchcart and Daniel Klein
    Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
    Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler
    The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters

    3. A book with a first name in its title.
    Maggie Again by John D. Husband
    Thursday Next: A First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
    Becoming Jane
    Jane & the Unpleasantness of Scargrave Manor
    Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
    Goodnight, Irene by Jan Burke

    4. A book with a place in its title.
    The Resurrection of Lady Somerset by Nicola Beaumont
    I Never Saw Paris by
    A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi
    Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
    Pelagie: The Return to Acadie
    Long Ago in France by M.F.K. Fisher

    5. A book with a weather event in its title.
    A Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason (isn't dusk a weather event?!)
    Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

    6. A book with a plant in its title.
    Witches' Bane by Susan Wittig Albert
    Yarrow by Charles de Lint

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Reading Full Circle Challenge

    I have got to stop signing up for challenges. I know that. Nobody needs to tell me. Actually, I put my foot down and told myself, "NO MORE." But as you can see I am joining another challenge.

    It was the button that did it! Not really, although I do love the button. It was the challenge of taking books I've already listed for other challenges and connecting them in a full circle.

    You can read all the particulars of this challenge and sign up yourself at Joy's blog. The basics are to link one book to another using a word in the title. The last book in the list needs to connect to the first. The contest runs from Jan through Dec 2008 and you can decide to read 6 or more books.

    I went with 12 books - all are books that I already own, except for 2. That's not too bad, is it? One of the books I'm buying used for a penny + S&H and the other I can check out from the library. Here's the list:
    1. Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip
    2. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
    3. A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi
    4. The Day the World Came to Town
    5. Pumpkin Town! Or, Nothing Is Better or Worse Than Pumpkins by Katie McKy
    6. Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson
    7. Still Life by Louise Penny
    8. Murder Gets a Life by Anne George
    9. Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney
    10. The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer
    11. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
    12. Fatastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger by Laurence Leamer

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    Book to Movie Challenge Finished

    This was a really fun challenge to participate in. My thanks go to Callista at SMS Book Reviews who hosted the Book to Movie Challenge. The books and movies I reviewed for this challenge were:
    1. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
    2. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
    3. Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil by E.L. Konisburg

    My favorite was The Scarlet Pimpernel, both book and movie. I most surprised with how good the book and the movie for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were. I liked the Newbery Award-winning Mixed-Up Files, but didn't care for the movie.

    Saturday, November 03, 2007

    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

    by E.L. Konisburg

    I've heard people say that they really identified with a character in a story, but it's never happened to me. Until now. And it only happened at the beginning and the end of this book.

    The main character is an 11-year-old girl named Caudia who doesn't feel fully appreciated by her family so she decides to run away from home. That's not the part that I identify with, though I could. JK

    This is the description of Claudia that sounds like me.
    "She studied maps and the tour guide book of the American Automobile Association and reviewed every field trip her class had ever taken. She made a specialized geography course for herself. There were even some pamphlets about the museum around the house, which she researched."
    "Once she made up her mind to go, she enjoyed the planning almost as much as she enjoyed spending money. Planning long and well was one of her special talents."
    I love to plan for trips, to find all the little-know as well as the 'must see' places of interest that are close to the road we'll be taking. I like to read books that set the mood and I enjoy gathering interest facts to share with my husband as we travel. Of course, I have to write all this down or it's forgotten long before the trip occurs.

    Another identifying feeling:
    "She never liked feeling either very hot or very cold, and she hated feeling both at the same time."
    Sadly, this one is true of me also.
    "Her net profit, therefore, would be as great as that of someone who read a great deal but remembered very little."
    This is the story of a young girl and little brother who run away from home to the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art. They live there for over a week. I enjoyed this book by the same author of The View From Saturday which also won a Newbery Award.

    Just a few more passages that I liked.
    "But lying in bed just before going to sleep is the worst time for organized thinking; it is the best time for free thinking. Ideas drift like clouds in an undecided breeze, taking first this direction and then that."
    "Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around."
    Here Mrs. Frankweiler disagrees with Claudia's idea that you should learn one new thing every day.
    "I don't agree with that. I think you shuld learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, they you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."
    How did the movie compare to the book? The movie changed quite a few things and it was boring. Yawn! I only watched an hour and then had to turn it off. I didn't get bored with the book. My suggestion: Read the book and forget about the movie.

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Jane Austen Mini-Challenge

    Another great challenge - this one is not just for reading, but for watching. Becky of Becky's Book Reviews is hosting this fun Austen Mini-Challenge.

    The aim is to read and/or watch at least two Jane Austen novels/movies in 2008. Masterpiece Theatre is showing all 6 movies in the 2008 season.

    Becky is making the challenge very easy and fun. You can either read or watch a Jane Austen related book or movie. She even said we could watch Becoming Jane if we wanted to. I want to!

    I am going to try to watch all 6 of the Masterpiece Theatre's selections:
    1. Emma
    2. Mansfield Park
    3. Northanger Abbey
    4. Persuasion
    5. Pride and Prejudice (Ahhhh...)
    6. Sense and Sensibility

    AND I want to read 2 of Austen's books other than Pride and Prejudice which I've already read.

    AND for an extra umph and reward I want to read Becoming Jane and then watch that movie.

    Thanks Becky, for designing this great challenge. I'm really looking forward to this. And didn't Booknut create a perfect button for the challenge? Awesome, Booknut.

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    The Bookman's Wake

    by John Dunning

    I read Booked to Die earlier in the year and really liked the writing, the mystery and the main character. I knew then that I would want to read more books in the Cliff Janeway series. When Verbivore came up with the Reading the Author Challenge I didn't have to make any hard decisions on which author I would read.

    The Bookman's Wake was the New York Time's notable book of the year in 1995 and was even better than Booked to Die, which makes me even more excited to read the other 3 books in the series.

    The lead character is a Denver policeman who retired to open up a used book store. He's also a book scout who becomes embroiled in murder cases. This time he is coaxed into going to Seattle to track down a young book thief and possible murderer.

    A few passages that stood out at the time I read them:
    "Forget what you thought you knew and maybe you'll learn something."

    "I read somewhere that fiction's the only way you can really tell the truth."

    "Lighter fluid is one of the book scouts's major tools, used for removing stickers from book jackets safely and without a trace. Paper can be soaked in it without getting stained, wrinklet, or otherwise damaged, unless someone remembers what lighter fluid's really for and sets it on fire."
    I like the references to books and the interesting tidbits about book scouting. Of course, if that's all these books promised I probably wouldn't read anymore. Dunning does a wonderful job of building his characters and developing a thoughtful mystery. I look forward to book 3, The Bookman's Promise.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    1st in a Series Challenge

    Joy of "Thoughts of Joy" blog fame comes up with some really terrific challenges. First in a Series is one I should probably pass on because it's going to add so many more books to my ever growing TBR list. It's one thing to add one book at a time to the list, but with series you add 3, 4 or many at a time. Plus, there's the added hazard of reading others' reviews and adding even more series to the list. Very risky business, in deed! In I go with both feet planted firmly in a cement block.

    The plan is to read 12 books, each a 1st in a Series, between Jan and Dec 2008. I'm very excited because there are some wonderful series I've been looking forward to reading and a challenge pushes me to do that. So here's my list, in no particular order. (The * indicates a book I own.)
    1. Truckers by Terry Pratchett (The Bromeliad Trilogy - children)
    2. *O'Artful Death by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Sweeney St. George - mystery)
    3. *Magyk by Angie Sage (Septimus Heap - fantasy)
    4. *Fool's Puzzle by Earlene Fowler (Benni Harper - mystery)
    5. *Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney (Gray Whale Inn - mystery)
    6. *Jane and the Unpleasantness of Scargrave Manor (Jane Austen - mystery)
    7. *The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable (Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy - YA fantasy)
    8. *Them Bones by Carolyn Haines (Sarah Booth Delaney - mystery)
    9. Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett (Johnny Maxwell - children's suspense)
    10. 16 Lighthouse Road by Debbie Macomber (Cedar Cove - mystery)
    11. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (starter novel in the Witches Series of Discworld - fantasy)
    12. *Still Life by Louise Penny (Three Pine - mystery)
    An alternate (just in case): A Thousand Bones by PJ Parrish (Joe Frye - mystery, suspense)

    I lean rather heavily towards mysteries. That's one reason I'm doing this challenge is to read more mysteries in 2008. I just didn't get my fill this year. If you would like to check out some of the challenges I want to start you may go this this blog, What? Another Series! And if you really are bored at this moment you can check out the list of series I am already into by clicking on my Serial Hit List. Mostly these sites are to help me keep track, but if they provide you with any help, please feel free to give them a look/see.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Summer Classics Challenge -- A Wrap-Up

    A few weeks ago I finished the Summer Classics Challenge hosted by Kathrin from Crazy Cozy Murders. I've been a bit slow on wrapping it up. The challenge ran from July through Nov, 2007 and the goal was to read 3-5 classics of our own choosing. I read the following three:
    1. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
    2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
    3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
    All three books were wonderful. Pimpernel was my favorite, but I liked the other two a lot.

    I have had people asking if I'm going to host the winter classics challenge again in January. The answer is no. I thought this was a much better time to read classics. I find Jan. and Feb. are much better to suited for reading mysteries.

    Thanks, Kathrin, for hosting this challenge. I hope you will consider doing it again next summer. I need the push to get me to read the classics.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Something About Me Reading Challenge Completed

    One of the fun parts about reading challenges is successfully completing the challenge. (Other fun parts are reading the books and crossing them off as I finish them)

    Lisa from Breaking the Fourth Wall came up with this interesting challenge to read 5 books that other participants listed that told something about them. The challenge ran from Aug-Nov 2007. The books I read were

    1. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland (from 3M's list)
    2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (this or one of the sequels is on several people's lists, including Tiny Librarian's, Raidergirl3's and Becky's.)
    3. All-of-a-Kind Family by (from Alisonwonderland's list)
    4. Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (another from Alisonwonderland's list)
    5. Booked to Die by John Dunning (this is one from Bonnie's list.)

    I enjoyed all these books immensely. My least favorite would be Luncheon of the Boating Party but I'm still glad I read it and I still enjoyed it.

    Thanks Lisa, for hosting this challenge. It was very worthwhile and I hope you will be doing it again next year.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Themed Reading Challenge

    I originally planned to read books with the theme of place, era, event (WWI) or something else that makes sense. As I was perusing the books on my shelves a weird theme started gelling in my mind instead. I found that I have several books with the same word in the title. So I decided my theme
    I will be reading books that all have the word 'BONE' in the title. Isn't that bizarre?!

    Wendy from Caribousmom is hosting this challenge. Check out her blog to read all the particulars of the challenge and to join. The basics are to read 4 books in 2008 from your chosen theme.

    My pool from which I will choose those four books consists of the following:
    1. The Bone People by Keri Hulme
    2. Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
    3. Them Bones by Carolyn Haines
    4. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence
    5. Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass
    6. The Bone Doll Twins by Lynn Flewelling
    7. Bone Garden by Tess Geritsen
    8. Old Bones by Aaron Elkins
    9. Remembering the Bones byFrances Itani
    10. Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
    11. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
    12. Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
    13. Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
    14. Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay
    15. White Bone by Barbara Gowdy

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    All-of-a-Kind Family

    by Sydney Taylor

    I read this delightful book for the Something About Me Challenge. This was Alison's selection to help us get to know her better. Here's what she had to say about this book:
    "I am the oldest in a family of seven daughters and no sons, so I grew up in an "all of a kind family" like the one in this novel. I also think this children's book, read to my sisters and me by our mom, was the beginning of my interest in the Jewish culture."
    That intrigued me because my husband and I only have daughters, no sons. And I have an interest in Jewish culture, so the book sounded like a good choice for me to read.

    I thoroughly enjoyed All-of-a-Kind Family and since I wasn't fortunate enough to find it in my youth I'm glad I found it now. Thanks, Alison, for suggesting it. The setting is 1910's New York City. It provided a wonderful glimpse into that time period and into Jewish life and culture in a poor neighborhood. I knew about Passover and a few other Jewish holidays, but had never heard of Purim. For that holiday the girls dressed up in costumes (old dresses & shawls) then delivered baskets of goodies to friends and relatives.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    A Spot of Bother

    by Mark Haddon

    A very appropriate title - I felt this book was pretty much a spot of bother. I just about gave up reading it, but I read someone's review that said to keep reading. Why did I let someone I don't even know tell me to continue reading a book that I wasn't very interested in and parts of it were disgusting. So I did finish it and I actually enjoyed the end immensely and not just because it was over.

    Why did I read this? I read his first book An Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and loved it. This was entirely different and different is good, usually.

    What did I like? The ending. I liked how it turned out for the characters and I really liked the event that happened at the end.

    What I didn't like? I really didn't like the explicit sex scenes between the gay guys. And I didn't really like Jean, the wife. I did like George even though he's a bit crazy. Maybe that's why I liked him - he's old and off his rocker.

    If you're planning on reading this, don't let my impressions sway you too much. I may just not have been in the right mood. The storyline was good and the characters were well developed.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    The Scarlet Pimpernel

    by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

    I have picked this book up several times in the past, but always put it back down again after a few pages. Why? I think it was because I am totally in love with the movie and didn't want the book to ruin it by being better. That sounds so inane now that I'm structured that thought in to words. If a book is even better than a movie that you love, than you'll also love the book. Duh!

    I loved this book! And I look forward to rereading it, which is something I very seldom do. The Scarlet Pimpernel is the finest adventure and romance I've ever read. It was easy and comfortable to read, but also, very compelling. And I knew what was going to happen. How does an author write so well that you can so enjoy her book even though you know the story.

    Since I read Scarlet Pimpernel for the Book-to-Movie challenge, I will compare the two. I am comparing the book to the movie version starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. In the movie Blakeney woes and then marries the actress Maguerite St John, but in the book they have been married already a year at the start of the story. At first I thought that would be a big stumbling block for me, but eventually it didn't bother me. Both version worked fine.

    Another difference: In the movie there is a triangular love affair with Marguerite in the middle. That adds some great tension. I really don't think the book needed that extra tension, though.

    Some of the scenes in the movie were exactly as described in the book. Both excellent. The ending - different in both, but I'm not going to talk about it as to not give anything away. I like the movie ending best.

    Of course, at points in both the book and the movie songs from the Broadway musical play through my mind creating a wonderful atmosphere. My dream is to someday see the musical performed on Broadway.

    I've also watched the BBC version of the Pimpernel and I think it is exceptionally done, but I prefer the one with Anthony Andrews. I wasn't sure I would enjoy Jane Seymour before I watched the movie, but she did a very nice job. My husband, daughter and I are just getting set to watch one of my all time favorite shows on this Sunday evening. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, you really need to arrange to do both.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Matrimony Challenge

    Anybody can enter this challenge - Readathon participant or not. Author Joshua Henkin is giving away a signed copy of his book Matrimony.

    For the challenge you can say something about the book, something about a review of the book, something about marriage in general, something about your marriage, or whatever you like. Henekin will choose the comment that strikes him as best/most interesting/most compelling. YIKES! That's just the kind of statement that freezes my brain cells and the little red signals that jump from one synapse to the next fizzles to black ash.

    I haven't read this book yet, but I will as soon as my winning copy comes in the mail! The cover strikes me as quite random until I study it a bit longer. Is the story about a couple who have been married for awhile and weathered the ups and downs, ins and outs of marriage. There's a suggestion of intimacy as I look at the toothbrushes side by side in their holder. Or could it be that something holds this couple together even though they estranged? (Notice how the toothbrushes face away from each) No, the bathroom is an intimate space shared by family - it has to be about commitment. Commitment to marriage, to each other, to the children. The more I look at this cover the more I want answers to what the book is really about.

    Henekin said we could share a little blurb about our own marriages, so I will. My husband and I will celebrate 35 years together this December. We are deeply in love at this point, but it hasn't always been that way. There have been months of loneliness, and years of happiness. We have grown together and shared a multitude of experiences. We both try to respect the other's individuality as well as out unity. We are dancing the dance of love and though it has slowed to a waltz in our later years, there are those tango moments, too. And always, there are memories and shared vistas for the future.

    Joshua Henekin, I hope your book is about the commitment of marriage and the joys that can be experience by toughening it out.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Numb3rs Challenge

    Callista over at SMS Book Reviews is proposing an interesting Numbers Challenge - simply read 5 books in 5 months whose titles have a number in them (this includes written numbers like "one" or "forty.")

    The challenge runs from Jan 1 to June 1, 2008. You can choose up to 3 novels that are on lists for other challenges, so 2 of your choices cannot be on any other list.*

    My list includes some books I'm very excited to read, but I will put off reading them until January for 2 reasons: I have too many books on challenge lists that I must finish before the end of the year and I want to join this challenge so I'll be patient about reading them.

    *Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale -- I was going to read this for the Celebrate the Author Challenge, but I have Austenland by Hale that I can read for that one.
    2. A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi -- Also reading for In Their Shoes Challenge.
    *Sixpence House by Paul Collins -- This is a book I was going to read for the Something About Me Challenge. I ended up with too many for that challenge so I'm moving it to this challenge.
    Thursday Next: A First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde -- Also reading for the Numb3rs Challenge.
    5. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson -- Also reading for the Books Awards Challenge. It won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for 2006. I looked at the title of this book and wondered if it would count because Octavian obviously refers to the number 8. Is that stretching things too far? How 'bout if I focus on the word 'nothing' instead?


    Instances of the Number 3: A Novel by Salley Vickers
    A Thousand Bones by PJ Parrish

    *Books that are NOT on another reading challenge list.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Luncheon of the Boating Party

    by Susan Vreeland

    I read this book because 3M selected it for the Something About Me Challenge. Having enjoyed most of Vreeland's novels and I absolutely loved Girl in Hyacinth Blue, I was looking forward to reading Luncheon.

    Obviously the book is about the painter Renoir; with the focus on the time period dealing with his painting of the famous Luncheon of the Boating Party. Each person in the painting has a personal connection to Renoir and, by the end of the book, the reader feels acquainted with them and, in some cases, deeply involved with them.

    3M from 1 Chapter More shared this wonderful personal experience on her blog.
    Did you know there is a phenomena in which people cry uncontrollably in front of paintings or other art? I didn't know it either until it happened to me. I took my 7th grade class (back when I was a teacher) to an art museum in Nashville where they were having a special exhibit on impressionism. I was looking at this painting, and lo and behold, I started sobbing without any warning. It was so beautiful. It was like I was seeing it in 3-D. I couldn't believe the beauty of it. What was the painting, you ask? It was Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir. If you just see this in an art book, you may ask what the big deal is as there doesn't seem to be anything special about it. See it in person and you'll see a huge difference, believe me.
    What a thrill to actually enjoy this masterpiece in person. Thanks for sharing that moment with us, 3M.

    I don't know what exactly was happening in my life or with my mood, but I didn't get drawn into the story right away and I didn't feel compelled to keep reading. I am enjoying it more in retrospect than I did while reading. I really think the problem was mine, not the author's.

    My favorite character was Alphonsine. I really liked her and found myself trying to counsel her not to fall in love with Renoir. She was so aware and thoughtful of all around her. I didn't care that much for some of the other character's pains, but I did for hers.

    I am glad I read this book. I knew nothing of Renoir's life and could not even name one of his works before reading Luncheon. I got a good feeling for Paris and the countryside in 1880. And I found this site that shows all the paintings, Renoirs and others, that are mentioned in the book along with the passage. It's been fun looking at those.

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    The Armchair Traveler

    I finished another fun challenge that took me to several wonderful vacation spots. What a way to travel! My original list was tweaked a bit, much the same way as travel plans are modified before the trip actually takes place.

    Here's what I DID read and the country or city the books transported me to:
    Quebec City - Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather
    Peru - Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
    Newfoundland - Shipping News by Annie Proulx
    Afghanistan - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    Nova Scotia - Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan
    Prince Edward Island - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

    Shipping News was probably my least favorite, but I'm still glad I read it. The other 5 I loved.
    Actually visiting Canada this summer enhanced my reading of the books set in Canada.

    I'm definitely looking forward to joining this challenge again next year. A great big THANKS to A Life in Books for hosting this challenge.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Bridge of San Luis Rey

    by Thornton Wilder

    I didn't realize that Thornton Wilder wrote anything but plays. He authored the Pulitzer Prize winning plays, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943), but he also wrote several novels. He won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

    When I first listed this book for the By-the-Decade Challenge as my 1920's selection, I thought it was a war story. Even before I read the book, I discovered that I had the story for The Bridge on the River Kwai in mind. Obviously my mind had criss-crossed paths before it ever reached 'The Bridge.'

    Wilder's Bridge concerns itself with 5 people who fell to their deaths when Peru's finest bridge collapsed in 1714. A Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, witnesses the tragedy and begins to wonder if what seemed like random misfortunes were actually part of God's plan. He spends years researching the lives of the five people and then compiles and publishes his findings. The results were unexpected.

    I liked this book, both for it's quickness and the questions it posed: Is there an overall plan by an unseen God? Is there a purpose behind tragedy? Wilder doesn't really answer these questions. In fact, he doesn't even address them in so many words, rather the story unfolds and the reader is left asking these questions.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Decades Challenge 2008

    I have enjoyed doing the Decade Challenge this year and so, of course, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon again for 2008. Thanks to 3M from 1 More Chapter for hosting this fun challenge.

    The challenge runs from Jan 1 through Dec 31, 2008. The goal is to read 8 books from consecutive decades. 3M has set up a blog dedicated to the challenge where you can sign up and get suggestions of books for 20 decades. I really have to hand it to 3M for the wonderful resource she's provided. She's put in some hours creating this blog. Thanks, 3M. You're awesome! Decades Challenge 2008 Blog

    My selections -
    1920 - Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Newbery Medal 1929)
    1930 - Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (Newbery Medal 1936)
    1940 - Matchlock Gun Walter D. Edmonds (Newbery Medal 1942)
    1950 - Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay (1st Edgar Award 1952)
    1960 - Death and the Joyful Woman by Ellis Peters (Edgar Award 1963)
    1970 - Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett (Edgar Award 1979)
    1980 - Bone People by Keri Hulme
    1990 - Them Bones by Carolyn Haines