Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ta Ta for Now!

The time has come. Hooray. So much to do to get ready, but we' gotter done!' We'll be leaving Sunday for our long and wonderful drive across northern US, into Canada, through the Maritime Provinces and back home again.

Candleman and I have a blog where we're going to update friends and family of our whereabouts. Since you're all friends or family, please drop by and add more splendor to out trip with a comment. Just click the title.

The Folks Aren't Home

. . . Find out where we are!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Booked to Die

by John Dunning

Just what I need right now - a really good mystery! I really enjoyed this one. It was like getting two books in one: A good mystery and a story about bookscouting and running a bookstore.

"Denver cop and rare book collector Cliff Janeway is introduced in this engrossing whodunit from two-time Edgar nominee Dunning. A sensitive and introspective sort, Janeway chafes in the hard-edged role of law enforcer so often demanded of him. When a down-on-his-luck book scout named Bobby Westfall is murdered, Cliff at first suspects local thug and personal nemesis Jackie Newton. Newton's girlfriend, a victim of physical abuse, makes Cliff more determined than ever to nail Newton. Sensitivity notwithstanding, he goes after his quarry with both fists cocked and both barrels aimed, neglecting any semblance of correct police procedure. This ironic twist shapes the plot as Janeway delves further into his city's antiquarian book trade, whose practitioners display an expertise exceeded only by their greed. Crisp, direct prose and nearly pitch-perfect dialogue enhance this meticulously detailed page-turner." --from Publisher's Weekly

The main character is a likable, down-to-earth guy with a few flaws that keep him human. And he loves books. He loves to read and to collect and to sell books. Throughout the book he mentions titles of quite a few books that are valuable. I've never been a collector of 1st editions, but when I saw the wooden box containing all 7 Harry Potter's in hardback in a recent ad, I started scheming. I knew then that this book got through to me.

I learned about two books that I want to find and read: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by C.W. Grafton, Sue's father and Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.

I think this book was first recommended to me by Jenclair. Thanks, Jenclair. I loved it and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

by C. S. Lewis

Another delightful tale in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This one did not include Peter and Susan, but it did include the two younger children and their cousin, Eustace. The 3 children were in Eustace's bedroom when the picture on the wall came to life and they went sailing back to Narnia on the Dawn Treader.

They join Prince Caspian on his search for seven of his father's friends who were banned from the kingdom by his evil uncle. The children have many grand adventures.

One of my favorite parts is when Aslan
helps Eustace painfully peel of the dragon skin. Eustace has to start the process himself, but he is unable to finish without Aslan's help. In fact, the greater part has to be done by Aslan. Very beautiful imagery and meaning.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge

I thought this was the perfect challenge for me right now. I have several books in my stack that are set in Canada - getting myself stoked up for the big trip in July. I'm hoping to read a couple before we head out, so I'm not adding those to the list since the challenge doesn't start until July.

Leslie from A Life in Books is hosting this fun challenge. Isn't the button cute? The challenge runs from July 1 to Dec 31 and can include fiction or non-fiction.

1. Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather - takes place in Quebec City
2. Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark - takes place in Newfoundland
3. Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennon - the setting is Halifax, Nova Scotia
4. Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder - set in Peru
5. Bones by Jan Burke - the setting is the Sierra Nevada's in California
6. Anne of Green Gables - takes place in the Prince Edward Islands

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Banned Book Challenge Completed

I finished the Banned Book Challenge sponsored by Elaine at Farenheit 451. Like with the other challenges, I completed several books that have been waiting for ages to be read. It thrills me to pull some from the bottom of my book pile out - many neglected and almost forgot.

Here's the list of completed banned books. Click on the title to go to my review.
1. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
3. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
4. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
5. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
6. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
7. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
8. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Thoroughly enjoyed all but The House of Spirits. Thanks, Elaine. It's been a great challenge.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Wrinkle in Time

by Madeleine L'Engle
It such a good feeling to finally read a book that has been on The List for ages and ages. Thanks to a couple of challenges it finally became pressing to read it.

A Wrinkle in Time is not as subtle with it's Christian teachings as The Chronicles of Narnia and I doubt it would receive a Newbery Award in today's world, so I'm glad it was written when it was. The main theme is the battle of good vs. evil and, in the end, good is triumphant. Woven into the main theme are the ideas of reliance on others, expectations, going it alone, love, family, etc. One of my favorites is the idea that some of the parts of our personalities we regard as weaknesses can become the very strengths we need to succeed.

A favorite quote:

Mrs Whatisit: A sonnet is a very strict form of poetry is it not? There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That's a very strict rhythm or meter, yes? And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?

Calvin: You mean you're comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?

Mrs Whatsit: Yes. You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Once Upon a Time Challenge Completed

This challenge was hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. It's been fun to read fantasy, sci/fi, folklore and/or mythology books for this challenge. Here's the books I read. Click on the titles to go to my reviews.

1. Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
2. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
3. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
4. A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
5. The Princess Bride by William Golmand
6. Of Mice and Men by David Farland
7. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
8. The Book Without Words by Avi

Thanks, Carl, for hosting this terrific challenge. I had a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Spring Thing Challenge Completed!

The Spring Reading Thing has been hosted by Katrina at Callipiddar Days. I chose to read 6 books between the deadline dates of March 21 and June 21. Here's my list, all of which I enjoyed immensely. Clicking on the title will take you to my review of that book.

1. My Grandfather's Blessings
2. The Princess Bride
3. Flowers for Algernon
4. The Pea Blossom
5. The Shop on Blossom Street
6. A Bride Most Begrudging

Thanks Katrina for doing this fun challenge.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death

by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
I added this book to my TBR list after reading Lotus Read's review. I was particularly intrigued with the "Biodegradable You" chapter that discusses 'green' burials. Maybe it's because I've been a biology teacher that the idea of the nutrients in my body cycling back into use in the environment appeals to me. Now I just convince my local cemetery and county officials to allow green burials.

Another chapter in the book discusses choices in caskets, such as 'Afterlife Vehicles'. You would expect cars, but what about lobsters or a wood plane?

Cullen discusses having your cremated ashes (or those of a loved one) scattered over the sea, placed in creative urns, or even turned into diamonds that can be set in jewelry. Speaking of being buried at sea, that is possible. There's even a company who makes beehive shaped monuments from cement and cremains. Loved ones can leave hand prints before the cement sets up.

The two most bizarre stories take place close to my part of the world. In Nederlands, Colorado there is a frozen dead man being stored in a Tuff Shed (a new one has been donated by the company). Every year Nederlands celebrates this oddity with the Frozen Dead Guys festival. There are parades, tours to the Tuff Shed, frozen head rolls (turkeys), coffin races and a costumed Polar-Bear Plunge (people jump into frozen ponds).

Number 2 bizarre story is from Salt Lake City, Utah where can actually have your body mummified inside a pyramid-shaped building. The process sounds quite disgusting to me and the man who runs things sounds even crazier.

If the green burial, ashes turned into diamonds or cement beehives is not your thing, you may consider having your body plasticized.

There are chapters that deal with traditional U.S. funerals and also the changes that need to be implemented for all the foreign-born U.S. citizens that want to follow their cultural traditions in death. There are some interesting ideas that need to be considered that aren't allowed for with laws as they currently stand.

Remember Me was an insightful read. I'm glad I read it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Something About Me" Challenge

Lisa from Breaking the Fourth Wall came up with this interesting challenge, which will start on August 1st, 2007. To join, you will choose up to 5 books that represent you in some way...if you are a stay at home mom, maybe the main character does that, too. If you are a scientist, maybe the main character is one. Or maybe you live in New York City and it's such a part of who you are that you choose a book set in the city. In any case, you will choose some books that would help us get to know you.

Then, on or by August 1st, you will choose a personal list of the books you want to read from everyone's lists of books. You could choose because the book sounds like a good choice for you, or because you want to get to know another blogger a little better.

Here are the five books I chose to tell something about me.

1. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

I really like Lois Lowry, both as a person and an author. The other reason I chose this book is because my ancestors are from Denmark, which is the setting for this story.

2. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate diCamillo

Sometimes I feel the size of a mouse trying to conquer problems that are so much bigger than me. My tools seem silly and inefficient, sort of like Despereaux's needle and thread. And sometimes my goals are not realistic in the same way that Despereaux had his heart set on marrying the princess.

3. From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is my "chocolate" author. His books are like comfort food. When I pick up one of his books I feel like I'm "home". I know I'm going to being entertained and fully immersed.

This is one of my favorite of Koontz. He has a way of describing and defining good and evil. And I agree with his concepts in those regards. He helps us realize that we could be heading down one or the other path with the seemingly inconsequential decisions we make everyday.

4. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I have similar religious beliefs with those expressed by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia. I think this little book instructs us in the methods used by the devil to gain our souls through the exchange of letters from Screwtape and his Uncle Wormwood. Screwtape is apprenticing and Wormwood is instructing.

This book reminds me that there's a battle going on between good and evil. I need to be mindful of the voices and promptings to which I listen.

5. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan

Mostly, I like the title on this book, although I did enjoy reading Corrigan's thoughts concerning some of the books she's read.

Sometimes in the evening I will pop up a bowl of popcorn and sit down to read. Everyone in the family knows that is not the time to disturb me - I'm reading.

NOW for the second part of the challenge. These are the books from other challenger's list that I have chosen to read.

1. Booked to Die by John Dunning (Book One in the Cliff Janeway mystery series)

Yes, it's a mystery. Whopee! This is one from Bonnie's list. It's one of the first books I ever bookmooched and I still haven't read it.

2. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

This is from Alisonwonderland's list. Since my husband and I only have girls, I thought this would be a fun book. He's fond of saying, "Some people have to take what they get. We specialize!"

3. 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. We are going to be visiting Prince Edward Island this summer. One of the highlights will be seeing Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. Don't you think I better read the book before seeing the musical?

4. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland

I love Susan Vreeland's work, so when I saw this on 3M's list I got very excited. I didn't know Vreeland had a new book out.

5. The Seven Daughter's of Eve by Bryan Sykes

Since I was a biology teacher in my former life - the life before I semi-retired and only teach one study skills class, I was interested in this book suggested by Christina. This is a nonfiction book about mitochondrial DNA and how it allows scientists to map back 7 generations of females.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Chunster Challenge Completed!

With the reading of Dreams Underfoot, I finished the Chunkster Challenge. It feels so good to cross a book off the list when I finished reading it and now it feels very satisfying to complete the challenge. Thanks to Bookfool for hosting this one. It's been very worthwhile. I hope you do it again next year, because I still have enough fatties for several more Chunkster Challenges.

Here's the eight books I read for this challenge:
1. The Woman in White by Wilke Collins
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
4. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
5. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
6. House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
7. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
8. My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen

I enjoyed them all except House of Spirits, which I thought was YUCK! You can read my thoughts about each book by clicking on the title.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dreams Underfoot

by Charles de Lint
In this collection of nineteen short stories, de Lint introduces us to several characters who appear in his acclaimed Newford series. On his personal website, de Lint says, "The books have all been written in such a way that you should be able to pick up any one and get a full and complete story. However, characters do reoccur, off center stage as it were, and their stories do follow a sequence. The best place to start is the collection Dreams Underfoot. From there they go pretty much in this order:

The Dreaming Place
A Whisper To A Scream (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
I'll Be Watching You (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
Memory And Dream
The Ivory And The Horn
Someplace To Be Flying
Moonlight And Vines
Forests Of The Heart
The Onion Girl
Seven Wild Sisters (also available in Tapping the Dream Tree)
Tapping the Dream Tree
Spirits in the Wires
Medicine Road
The Blue Girl
Make a Joyful Noise (chapbook)
The Hour Before Dawn (collection)
Old Man Crow (chapbook, forthcoming)
Little (Grrl) Lost (novel, forthcoming)
Promises to Keep (short novel, forthcoming)
Dingo (short novel, forthcoming)

The Dreaming Place and The Blue Girl are YA novels. A Whisper To A Scream and I'll Be Watching You are, respectively, a horror novel and a thriller; they're darker fare than the other Newford books and aren't really that integral to the underlying, ongoing backstory that takes place off center stage in so many of the books and stories."

I plan on reading more of de Lint's books, so I thought it would be handy to have this list posted where I can refer to it again.

The stories in this book are classified as urban fantasies - the set is 'real life' but at the periphery is magic. I like the stories and I like de Lint's writing. I'm afraid I've marked too many passages that I especially enjoyed, but I did, so let's get on with it:

". . . somehow my unearned beauty gave me an intrinsic worth that far overshadowed Emma's cleverness with her schoolwork, or Betsy's gift for music. It always seemed unfair to me. My value was based on an accident of birth; theirs was earned. Those are assets with which a body can grow old."

". . . if stories have any worth, they carry within them a deeper resonance that remains long after the final page is turned, or the storyteller has come to the end of her tale."

". . . everything he said continued to pull a kind of tickle out from deep in her mind so that while she didn't completely understand him, some part of her did."

"The past scampers like an alleycat through the present, leaving the paw prints of memories scattered helterskelter-here ink is smeared on a page, there lies an old photograph with a chewed corner, elsewhere still, a nest has been made of old newspaper headlines. There is no order to what we recall, the wheel of time follows no straight line as it turns in our heads."

"Beauty isn't what you see on TV or in magazine ads or even necessarily in art galleries. It's a lot deeper and a lot simpler than that. It's realizing the goodness of things, it's leaving the world a little better than it was before you got here. It's appreciating the inspiration of the world around you and trying to inspire others."

"A name can't begin to encompass the sum of all her parts. But that's the magic of names, isn't it: That the complex, contradictory individuals we are can be called up complete and whole in another mind through the simple sorcery of a name. And connected to the complete person we call up in our mind with the alchemy of their name comes all the baggage of memory."

A few of the stories started with a quote from someone other than the author. These three caught my attention:
"The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; is is essentially a part of it." -Romany saying

"I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face." -Johnny Depp

"What unites us universally is our emotions, our feelings in the face of experience, and not necessarily the actual experiences themselves." -Anais Nin

Prince Caspian

By C.S. Lewis
Another great addition to the Chronicles of Narnia series.
The Pevensie children are called back to Narnia, where hundreds of years have passed since their last visit, and the once glorious land has fallen to ruin. Together with Prince Caspian and the mighty Aslan, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy must conquer the evil Telmarines and liberate Narnia. Prince Caspian becomes the rightful King.

A note about the cover picture I like to use when posting my reviews on the Narnia books - This is not what the cover of my book looks like, it's just my preferred cover. Mine is one BIG chunkster that contains all seven books in the series. I did try to order a set that had this cover, but what came in the mail was not what was advertised. I sent them back, along with my reason, and the picture for the ad was changed the next day.

The artist for these covers is Chris van Allsburg of Polar Express and Jumanji fame and one of my favorite, The Mysteries of Harris Burrdick. He has written and illustrated many children's books. He has also illustrated several covers of different editions of the Narnia books, including all three shown in this post. Sometimes a bookstore will include the illustrator along with C.S. Lewis's name. Since the inside illustrations are by Pauline Baynes, you may see her name instead of Allsburgs.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Book Awards Challenge

Here's another wonderful challenge that I couldn't pass up. Some days in the blogging world I feel like a kid in a candy store. There are so many fun challenges that it's hard to resist any of them. 3M@3AM came up with the idea for this challenge. The idea is to read any 12 award-winning books between July 1, 2007 and June 3o, 2008. You can read the complete rules here, along with some suggestions.

Here's what I'll be reading (and like always, in no particular order and subject to some revision):
1. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Newbery Award)
2. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson (National Book Award for Young People's Literature)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Pultizer Prize)
4. Bones by Jan Burke (Edgar Award)
5. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett (Edgar Award)
6. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark (Hugo Award)
7. Mirror Dance Lois McMaster Bujold (Hugo Award)
8. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx (National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize)
9. Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Newbery Award)
10. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston (Atlantic Fiction and also the Canadian Authors Award for Fiction)
11. Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan (National Book Award for Young People's Literature)
12. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award)

And a few alternatives:
1. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (Pulitzer Prize)
2. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (Pulitzer Prize)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer Mystery Reading Challenge

Oh, my! I can't possibly pass on a mystery reading challenge, can I? Mystery is my favorite genre and it's been a long, long time since I've curled up with one.

The goal of this challenge is to read six mysteries by authors whose works you haven’t read before between June 1st and August 31st. This challenge has been issued by Liz at Reviewed by Liz. You can read more details of the challenge by clicking on the button.

1. Booked to Die by John Dunning
2. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen
3. A Deadly Practice by Leonard Goldberg
4. Murder on a Girl's Night Out by Anne George
5. Bones by Jan Burke
6. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

And a possible alternative or addition:
1. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson
I decided I needed to reread this book when I saw the advertisements on TV for the movie. The ads didn't look familiar to me. I decided I didn't remember a thing about the book. Not true. I did remember the story pretty well. I still haven't seen the movie, but I can tell it played up certain parts of the book to the extreme. Having reread the book, I will probably watch the movie one of these days.

Speaking of memories - There was something in the first third of the book that caused me to ask if Bridge to Terabithia was on any challenged or banned book lists. I don't remember what it was, but I did check the ALA's 100 most challenged books of 1990-2000 and Terabithia was ninth on the list. So, even though I didn't originally have it on my Banned Books Challenge, I am adding it. This is also the first of my Newbery Awards Challenge books. I think it's a wonderful book.