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.