Tuesday, July 31, 2007

what alisonwonderland is going to read

which of the books about other participants have i decided to read? that's been even more difficult to decide than which books were "about me"! our host Lisa has said that she originally thought she'd choose one book from each participant's list - but she greatly underestimated the popularity of this unique reading challenge. i wish i could read one book from each list - but i've settled on five that i will definitely read by the end of the challenge and five more that i will hope i can get to. all the other great suggestions will have to go on the "someday" list. here are my two sets of five:
  • So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
    (from the lists of Vasilly, A Book in the Life, and Sally)

  • Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter
    (from Stephanie's list)

  • The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
    (from Sarah Miller's list)

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    (from Becky's list)

  • Marley & Me by John Grogan
    (from Lynne's list)

  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    (from Kristin's list)

  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
    (from Juli's list)

  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
    (from Faith's list)

  • Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
    (from Raidergirl3's list)

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
    (from the lists of A Book in the Life, Maryanne, and Heidijane)

Leslie's Picks

Here are the books I'm going to read:
Cheaper by the Dozen (Raidergirl3's List)
Good Grief (Chasida's List)
Uglies (Faith's List)
We Need to talk about Kevin (Dewey's List)
84, Charing Cross Road (Historia's List)
Time Traveler's Wife (HeatherBird's List)
Christy (HeatherBird's List)
Operating Instructions (Nattie's List)

Very excited!!

All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten

I chose All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum to read for my Something about Me challenge. It appeared on Sarah Miller's list. But it also turns out to be a 'recommended' read by my best friend, Julie.

I enjoyed most of the essay-like entries in All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. There were some that I thought were pure genius. There were some entries that I loved, loved, loved. There were some that I was 100% on board with. That I thought "This is just so true!" But there were a handful that were just okay for me. But all in all, I'd have to say this book is a winner.

All I Really Need To Know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup--they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned--the biggest word of all--LOOK.

Other favorite bits include the chapter on crayons (49-52 in the hardback edition)
The chapter on being yourself (being a mermaid in a giant-wizard-dwarf world) (83-85)
The chapter on Christmas gifts (96-98)
And perhaps my favorite, favorite chapter--the one on chicken-fried-steaks (53-55)

So as you can guess, I loved this book and would recommend it to others. What does the book say about its fans? That life is good, it just depends on how you look at it.

So Many Books, So Little Time

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson is one of the books I chose to read for the Something About Me Reading Challenge. This book appeared on at least three people's lists: Sally, a.book.in.the.life, and Vasilly. The book is obviously about a woman's love affair with reading. In many ways, I can relate to this "passionate" affair. I love to read. I love to write about what I read. So you would think I would love to read about a woman writing about what she is reading. I love this book, but in name only. I love the concept of this book. But the book itself, well, not so much. It's not that it was boring. But it wasn't thrilling either. I feel like I am missing something. If this book is her description of those books that she is so "passionate" about, then I don't think it "works" as a persuasive tool. If this is just a behind-the-scenes of her project and her other writings are gathered elsewhere--perhaps published week by week at whatever paper or magazine she worked for at the time...then that would be a different story. There were parts I enjoyed, but most of the book was just okay for me. I didn't hate it. But I didn't love it either.

For "A Year of Passionate Reading" I would rather follow the lives of bloggers day by day. I guess my general reaction was that with a name like that: So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading...I expected something more. I just think the passion wasn't particularly conveyed that strongly. I mean if it had been called "Thoughts on the Books I've Read This Year" instead I would have thought it delivered just fine.

Vasilly's picks

I can't believe the challenge is about to start and I haven't posted my list. This was my original list, but then I went and read most of them (in purple.) So I'm adding some to read.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Dewy)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (A day in the life..)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Stephanie and Janet)
The Tale of Desperaus by Kate Dicamillo (Booklogged)
Leave me alone I'm reading by Maureen Corrigan (Booklogged)
Chocolat by Joanne Harris (Chasida and Margo)
Stick Kid by Peter Holwitz (JMC)

Alternates: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Maryanne)
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (Jill)
Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh (Alisonwonderland)
Why I wore lipstick to my mastectomy by Geralyn Lucas

The books I'm adding are:
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott ( my list and ThinkPinkDana)
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (Dana)
Without by Donald Hall (Gracie)
Sixpence house: lost in a town of books by Paul Collins (Nattie. Rest in Peace.)

More alternates are:
Enduring Love by Ian Ewan (Kristin)
The Redhead Handbook by Cort Cass (If I can get my hands on it)
A Walk in the woods by Bill Bryson (Wendy)
Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck (Kookiejar)

I'm exhausted just typing all of that. I better print this out as a reminder.

My reading list

Since I am away for the summer (in Israel) my ability to get books is limited. I've read 2 hebrew books since I've been here and I brought 2 books and a slew of audiobooks with me. I've also been limited in internet/computer hookup but now finally, I am posting the list of books I'd like to read from everyone else's lists.

The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Lucy Crocker 2.0 by Caroline Preston

Alternates/more possibilities:
So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup
I Am Spock and I Am Not Spock by Leonard Nimoy

my final list

After a looong time to decide I finally made up my mind which books I'd like to read for the Something About Me Challenge. I made a list of all the books that would probably fall into what I can actually finish and so I came up with a looong list. Then I separated this list into books I already read and books I intend to read. But enough with the talking, here's my list - or my lists:

Those are the books I intend to read for the challenge - along with some alternates:
Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights (Trish, Suey)
Sophie Kinsella: The Undomestic Goddess (Margo)
Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife (Dewey)
Stephenie Meyer: Twilight (Suey)
John Grogan: Marley And Me (Lynne)

Bill Bryson: A Short History Of Nearly Everything (Raidergirl3)
Jonathan Stroud: The Amulet Of Samarkand (Suey)
Anne Frank: Diary Of A Young Girl (Pattie)

Those are the books I intend to read one day:
Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game (Karlene, Becky)
Madeline L’Engle: A Wrinkle In Time (Juli)
Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (Trish)
Louisa Mae Alcott: Little Women (Alyson, Lucca)
Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (Faith)
Truman Capote: Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Lucca)
Cornelia Funke: Ink Heart (SheReads)
Anita Diamant: The Red Tent (Sarah Miller)
Eve Ensler: The Vagina Monologues (Soleil)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime And Punishment (JMC)
V.C. Andrews: Flowers In The Attic (Margo)
Jane Austen: Pride And Prejudice (Bookworm, Pattie)
William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Ellen)
Chaim Potok: My Name Is Asher Lev (Heather)
John Dunning: Booked To Die (Bonnie)

And those are the books I already read:
John Grisham: Runaway Jury (Historia)
Jodi Picoult: My Sister’s Keeper (Trish)
Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones’ Diary (Trish, Tiny Librarian)
Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair (Valentina, Heidijane)
Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird (Janet, Stephanie)
Lois Lowry: The Giver (Sarah Miller)
Alice Sebold: The Lovely Bones (Chasida)
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Bookworm)
Lorna Landvik: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons (Tiny Librarian)
Earlene Fowler: Fool’s Puzzle (Nattie)
Kim Edwards: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (3M)
Enid Blyton: The Naughtiest Girl In School (Sally)
About time - what I'll be reading:

The Never Ending Story - Michael Ende (Valentina's list)

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
(Gracie's /Trish's /EnnaVic's /Tiny Librarian's list)

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kid (Karlene's /EnnaVic's list)

A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini (Diane's list)

Chocolat- Joanne Harris (Chasida's /Margot's list)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gautami's list: Time to post it

I know it is the last day to post. I had my list but did not get around posting. I am posting here both the lists.

The following list contains some part or the other ( by the way, I am a teacher) about myself:

1) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

2) To Sir With Love by E R Wraithwaite

3) Identity by Milan Kundera

4) The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

5) The Places In Between By Rory Stewart

Here is list of books, I chose from other's lists:

1) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri from HeidiJane's list

) The Thorn birds by Colleen McCullough from Andrea's list

3) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini from SheReads (Diane's) list

4) So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson from Vassily's list

5) Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham from Athena's list

6) My sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult from Trish's list

7) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl from Holly's list

There are some other books that I would like to read. I will add those to this list if I get around to those.

Do check out my blog, My Own Little Reading Room.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

This is the first "official" book I've read for this challenge. I know it's not quite August, but this book is due at the library this week, so I read it this weekend.... mostly all day Sunday and then dreamed about it all night last night!
Wow! What a painful, painful story! I knew it would be, but still, it's so hard to read about this stuff happening to the people in Afghanistan. What great, strong women these characters were! I just want to cheer for them. This author sure knows how to write emotion. Great book!

84, Charing Cross Road

I actually read this book awhile ago, but I reviewed it today because I saw the adaptated film today.

84, Charing Cross Road (1970) is the documented real life twenty year correspondence between New York write Helene Hanff and London bookseller Frank Doel. It’s been some time since I’ve read the book, but I watched the film today so it brings me memories about the lovely epistolary memoirs. I think anyone who truly loves books should read it because Ms Hanff expresses so many views of why we love prose, poetry (like her, I’m a Donne and Blake girl), and beautifully bound books. The letters are a testament to the relationships that are born and thrive under mutual, ardent bibliophilia. It’s quite a short book, and quite satisfying in my opinion since I love letters almost as much as I love books.

If you want to read a little bit about why I thought of the movie, it's over at my blog.

Review: Oh My Goth

Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter
3 stars

Summary: Jade Leigh values individuality above all else and has a small group of like-minded Goth friends who wear black and dabble in the dark arts. They're considered the freaks of their school, which is mostly very Gap-centric, but they're happy. But when Jade's smart mouth lands her in trouble once again, the principal decides to teach her and her arch-nemesis, Barbie-esque taunter of freaks Mercedes, a lesson. Taken to a remote location where they're strapped down and sedated, Jade and Mercedes wake up in a world where Goths (and therefore Jade) are cool and the norm and being preppy makes Mercedes a freak. Only Clarik, the mysterious new boy in town, operates outside the cliques. Jade and Mercedes have to work together to get back to their own reality but even if they do, will things ever be the same again?

Who would like it? Just judging by its good circulation in my library system, it seems to be generally popular with teens. I don't think actual hardcore Goth kids who are in the throes of misery would like it, but "Goth lite" kids would enjoy it. And any teen who feels like a non-prom-queen type of freak. It would be great if some mean girls could read it and realize they're really only one fad away from being freaks themselves, though I doubt that happens very often.

Overall: Well, an episode of South Park sums up my general thoughts on the Goth thing. After being dumped by his girlfriend, Stan can't stand the pain and decides to dwell on it by becoming a Goth. It's pretty simple to join them - "If you wanna be one of the non-conformists, all you have to do is dress just like us and listen to the same music we do." And that's where the whole individuality thing breaks down for me - in the wide world, you may be in the minority, but you still have to conform to the Goths. As far as I can tell, you can't wear pink and have blonde pigtails yet still care deeply about pain and be a Goth. You have to do the whole black clothes/black hair/dark makeup thing. So really, you're just conforming to another way of thinking. I kept waiting for someone to point this out in the novel and thankfully Mercedes eventually did - it always seems like such an obvious point to me.

That's not to say there's anything wrong with the whole black clothing, etc. thing. People should be free to express themselves. And it does often require more effort and creativity than just throwing on something from the Gap - I really enjoyed Jade's descriptions of all the cool Goth clothes she and her friends wear. It just seems that to rage against cliques but still be in one yourself (even though it's a small and not very powerful one) is a bit ironic. The popular kids in the book are really mean to the Goth kids, but the Goth kids aren't a whole lot nicer to the people outside of their circle, either, and have no more respect for their lifestyle than the "normals" have for the Goth one.

And that's pretty much the message of the book, not to judge people by their outward appearance (Mercedes' life isn't all that picture-perfect, for example). It's the age-old walk a mile in someone else's shoes lesson (whether they're Manolos or combat boots).

What I learned about Stephanie: Well, she said it all in her blurb about the book - she enjoys being different and has a penchant for wearing black, so this is definitely a book about her. And I also discovered that she enjoys a YA novel from time to time, which I'm always happy to see! :-)

Dewey catching up!

I started reading before the challenge date (obviously, since that's tomorrow!) so I'll just post links here to books I've already reviewed. In the future, I'll post the entire review here at the challenge blog. The book title is the link to my review.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Tiny Little Librarian's pick.

So Many Books, So Little Time, by Sarah Nelson, chosen by a.book.in.the.life.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield Kristin's pick.

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, chosen by 3M.

Stick Kid by Peter Holwitz, JMC's choice. There are actually two books reviewed in one entry; scroll down to get to Stick Kid.

Heidijane's list

OK, nearly August, so I suppose I'd better tell you all what I'll be reading for this challenge. This is based primarily on the books I can get my hands on at the moment, but also on books I'm keen to read anyway, so it may change, but here goes:

  • In the Shadow of the Wind (Christina's list)
  • Johnny got his gun (Kookiejar's list)
  • Wuthering Heights (Suey & Trish's lists)
  • Like Water for Chocolate (Maryanne's lsit)
  • Fall on your Knees (Christina's list)

Might also read The Grapes of Wrath (Kookiejar's list) as I happen to have it on my shelf anyway...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Heatherbird's List!

Hello and thanks to Little Willow for pointing her readers over to this community. I'm an elementary education and English graduate student and here are my choices:

1. Christy by Catherine Marshall (Fiction) - the television series based on this book was one of my favorites as a child, and Christy is a wonderful book for future teachers. Additionally, my family is originally from the Appalachain mountains so I enjoy reading about the area's rich culture.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Juvenile Fiction) - the Harry Potter series has truly changed my life. I have met many of my friends through a mutual love of Harry Potter, and now that the series is complete it's a perfect time to start or start over.
3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Fiction) - currently my favorite book, and I've recommended it to many friends. I love books that are slightly Science Fiction, but still realistic-- this one is amazing. Henry, the time traveler of the title, is a librarian (and my fictional dream man), and Clare is an artist who has loved Henry since her childhood (his adulthood- it'll all make sense when you read!). Plus, there are field trips and Violent Femmes lyrics. Wonderful.
4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA FIC) -- the high school in this book is so much like my high school it's ridiculous, and Laurie manages to be hilarious and sarcastic while telling the story of a dark event in the life of a young artist. Since it's one of my dreams to write YA fiction, reading books like this is essential for me.
5. Dancing on the Edge by Han Nolan (YA FIC) -- I used to be soooo seriously into dance it was rediculous. This is also a good portrait of mental illness and I have been dealing with depression since high school.

I will be reading the following books:
1. Persuasion by Jane Austen (F) -- Gracie's List and Becky's List
2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (F) -- Karlene's List and Becky's List -- so many people have recommended this book to me as I love Science Fiction and YA books!
3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (F) -- Trish's List -- my father had kidney failure so I should be able to relate to the story
4. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (NF) -- Historia's List -- sounds delightful!
5. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostava (F) -- Heidijane's List, A Book in the Life's List, and Maryanne's List

Other books I think sound interesting... and might be my alternates if I can't find the above:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (F) -- Becky's List
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (NF) -- Megan's List -- Dillard attended Hollins, which is where I want to get my MFA!
Fresh Brewed Life by Nichole Johnson (Chr.NF) -- Pattie's List
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (NF) -- Raidergirl3's List
Evensong by Gail Godwin (F) -- Bonnie's List

To Kill a Mockingbird - Review

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for reading : Something About Me Challenge, Book Awards Reading Challenge

Tells the story of the Finch family (father Atticus, son Jem and daughter Scout) living in Maycombe in America. It is set back when black people were seen as inferior citizens and were mostly employed by white people in the kitchen or picking cotton. The story starts with the children telling ghost stories about the reclusive neightbour next door who they nickname "Boo" Radley. This keeps them and their friend Dill entertained for most of the summer.

The small town is rocked when negro Tom Robinson (a family man with a wife and children) is accused of raping white Mayella Ewell. The Ewell's are not the most respected of families, being poor with an alcholic father and too many children to feed on their benefit money, and are deemed "trash" by some of the other white folks. Despite this, at the time the book is set (around the 1930/40's), white people do not loose court cases if the defendent is black. Atticus is given the case to defend Tom, which he does to the best of his ability despite knowing his loss is nearly inevitable and the town folk call his all kinds of names.

It was a really touching book that covers a range of topics. Foremost if the racial discrimination that went on at the time and how people were starting to change their attitudes and realise that all people are equal and that the colour of their skin is of no importance. It also discusses the class system at the time, with Atticus telling his children that no matter how rich the person, if they mistreat someone on grounds of race they are trash. The hypocrasy of the townsfolk was interesting as well. There is one incidence of a Jewish teacher who teaches Scout's class about discrimination as Hitler is starting to round up the Jews in Germany. She was however overheard at the trial of Tom making derogetary remarks about black people.

The parts covering childhood and family values stopped the book from being too serious. The children are very intelligent and really grow up in the few short years the book covers. I really liked all the central characters, especially Atticus. I grew to like their neighbour Miss Maudie and their overbearing Aunt Alexandra. It also had a lovely sense of humour running through the novel. I can see why people love it so much.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

So many books, so little time

Wow, can't say it better than that! I had a hard time choosing 5 books that represent me and an even harder time choosing ones I want to read from all the great lists. The books that represent me:

1. The earth, my butt and other big round things (YA) by Carolyn Mackler .I completely relate to this girl and how she feels!
2. The dogs who found me (NF) by Ken Foster. I am a huge dog lover and especially love that this author does not discriminate against certain breeds because of their reputation.
3. The Penderwicks, a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits and a very interesting boy (F) I was an only child and wished I had a fun family like this to grow up around.
4. The sisterhood of the traveling pants (YA) by Ann Brashares. My friends are everything to me, just like these great girls are to each other.
5. The house of the scorpion (JuvF) by Nancy Farmer. I admire the sense of hope this story brings despite it's horrible events .

On the other side of the fence, I am afraid it is just as difficult for me to choose just five books to put on my list to read. Especially
since I've been reading all the reviews. I will just have to add on to my list I guess :)

1.So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (So many had it on their list and I can already relate to the title)
2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I love children's lit. so...)
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (It has been sitting on my shelf for a while)
4. Nothing But the Truth by Avi (I have never read one of Avi's books before and I am not sure how that happened)
5. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (This one I have also had on my shelf waiting to be read)

and I have already added on

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block (Sounds like a fun read)
Place Last Seen by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman (Cause I live so close to desolation and love dogs too!)

My first review: Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

My first review! It's July 28th so it's almost August, I think I can start:)
originally posted in my blog: here

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

We've had the Dangerous Angels series in the shop, unsold, for more than 3 years! How could that happen? I never even considered reading them, but I'm happy I gave it a go, thanks to Soleil, who picked Weetzie Bat for her "Something about me challenge". This book was a short but charming read, a urban fairy tale about love, strange names and magic wishes. Honestly I was a bit put off at the beginning with all those names of places and shops in L.A. that I don't have a clue what they look like, but after a while I just gave up and enjoyed the story. It's about Weetzie Bat, the (real) name of a quirky young woman, who wears "old fifties' taffeta dresses covered with poetry written in glitter or dresses made of kids' sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters", has a dog called Slinkster Dog, and has a father who reminds her of a cigarette . Weetzie's best friend is Dirk, who is handsome, cool, and gay. Together they're determined to find the "Duck" of their dreams. I assume Weetzie and her friends are over 18 because they drink, smoke and have casual one night stands while still going to high school. But despite the daring themes that the story touches (including a threesome, Aids and pregnancies) all is told with such delicacy and tact, almost with ingenuity, that I wouldn't be afraid to give it to any teenager, and of course adults, if anything for the ease it shows in dealing with homosexuality and love.
Franscesca Lia Block writing is quick but poetic and musical. She managed to create a world and a way of being in barely 100 pages. Here's one of my favourite quotes:

"In Jamaica there is a night life like nowhere else - your body feels radiant, like orange lights, like Bob Marley's voice, when you dance in the clubs there. In Jamaica we climb the falls holding hands and the water rushes down bluer than your eyes. In Jamaica. In Jamaica it is hot and wet, and the people are hot and wet, and the shells look like flowers and the flowers look like shells, and when you drive down some roads men come out of the bushes wearing parrots on their shoulders and flowering bird cages on top of their heads"
Weetzie said, "Maybe in Jamaica I could find My Secret Agent Lover Man. I can't seem to find it here".

Now I'm in trouble though: I promised I won't be buying/reading anymore books beside those from my "Books I have to read before buying anymore!" list. But I'm afraid I won't be able to resist the next three books in the series for too long!

ps: I've seen another book by F.L. Block on Amazon. It's called "Ruby". I've ordered it for the shop. Has Anyone read it?

pps: I'm proud to say that the book has been finally translated in Italian. look at the cover,isn't it beautiful?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Michele's This and That List

I have picked the following books:

Turn Lefty at Sanity - always looking for more sanity
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
We Need to Talk about Kevin
The Thirtheen Tale

Can't wait to get started :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sally906's final list of 5

Now I was (OK so I still am) a bit confused about this - I posted the titles of 5 books that I felt represented me back in April - See it here.

BUT - my understanding is that I don't read these 5 books they are only a list for other people to peruse. In turn I look at everyone else's lists of 5 and select 5 books from their lists instead of mine?

Is this right?

So in that case my list for the something about me challenge is:

The list of books I will read for the challenge:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (from Juli's list)
The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis (from booklogged's list)
So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (from vasilly's list)
Heidi by Johanna Spyri (from Heidijane's list)
The Naughtiest Girl in School by Enid Blyton (from my list)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland

The Archivist's Story is actually one of my alternate selections for this challenge, but I had first dibs on it from my public library so I read it this week. This book was selected by Alyson, who writes the following:

"This book is just out, and I haven't actually read it yet. But I am studying to be an archivist, so I thought it would be a good choice. I love books that have librarians or archaeologists or historians having adventures. As someone who studies those fields, I can only hope that I get to experience such things."

Well, Alyson, I hope you never have to hide great pieces of literature to protect them for future generations! The Archivist's Story is a pretty good selection, especially if you love history and books.

My review:

In the late 1930’s, Joseph Stalin orchestrated The Great Purge in the Soviet Union. At a time of tremendous government paranoia, many Russian writers and poets were executed for the benefit of “the party.” This is the setting for Travis Holland’s first book, The Archivist’s Story.

The main character, Pavel, is an archivist at a Soviet prison that detains the ill-fated Russian writers. Pavel’s job is to collect the “evidence” against the writer and archive his writings until a time when Pavel’s superiors ordered that the writer’s works be burned in an incinerator. As a former literature teacher, watching the writers’ imprisonment and the destruction of their works was almost too much for Pavel to bear. Upon discovering an unpublished manuscript of famed Russian writer Isaac Babel before his imprisonment, the archivist makes a split- second decision to smuggle the manuscript to his apartment - a crime punishable by death. At any moment, Pavel expects to be arrested for his crime. Paranoia becomes a lifestyle for this lover of Russian literature.

If this story isn’t exhilarating enough, Pavel is also dealing with the increasing memory loss of his mother, the possible imprisonment of two close friends and the investigation of his wife’s death. The story takes many twists and turns, leaving you hanging on until the very last page.

Travis Holland’s freshman effort is a good one. I was on pins and needles with every knock on Pavel’s door, every slamming car door and every conversation he had with Soviet soldiers. I would recommend The Archivist’s Story to readers of Russian literature or historical fiction – or to anyone who wants to appreciate the freedom of writing and reading great works of literature.


Happy Reading!
Jill =)

The Giver

This post, minus my pop-psychology analysis of the person who chose the book, is reproduced on my blog.

Review #3 for the "Something About Me" reading challenge is on The Giver by Lois Lowry. I would like to say something like, "The Giver is a [insert genre here] novel about blah, blah, blah...," but frankly I don't know what genre it falls into. Is it science fiction? Didn't really seem like it to me, no outer space stuff or anything like that, no weird species or wars among weird species. What qualifies something as science fiction anyway? And what genres exist from which to choose? So a-googling I went, because this is a lack of knowledge that could possibly mark me forever as a moron in the minds of all the literary-types with the book blogs that I've been enjoying. So, in case any of you is hiding under the ignorance rock along with me, here is a list of literary genres. Based on this list, I've narrowed The Giver down to these possibilities: children's literature, social science fiction and philosophical novel. I'm going to go with my own, made up, genre: children's philosophical novel. If I'm way off here, please enlighten me. So, with that out of the way, let's continue.

General comments:
The Giver is a children's philosophical novel (I think) about a boy, Jonas, who is given the assignment of "Receiver of Memory" by the community in which he lives. It is set in the future, exactly how far we don't know, but far enough that society has "evolved" to total control of the individual. There are strict behavior parameters to which everyone must adhere, and yes, Big Brother is watching, or listening, actually. There are no strong emotions and no choices. Even the weather is controlled. Life is colorless, in many ways. But there is one person who is allowed to know and experience the truth, and that is the "Receiver of Memory." This novel is about what happens when the old "Receiver," now called "The Giver," passes on his knowledge to Jonas, the new "Receiver."

If the movie "Pleasantville" and Orwell's novel "1984" were to produce an offspring, this would be it. Granted, it's been over 10 years since I read 1984, and it's been since whenever "Pleasantville" came out that I've seen it, but I just kept thinking of those two as I was reading this book.

I'm not going to do the "What I liked, what I didn't like" thing that I did on my other two reviews, mainly because there wasn't anything that jumped out at me for either of those categories. Overall, I did enjoy the book. It was a quick and pleasant read. I could see it used in a middle school English class; it would be one that the kids would probably really like, and it contains plenty of things to analyze.

This novel was on Sarah Miller's list. Her comment regarding the book that "Oh, and for the record, I believe in happy endings...." is important, in that the ending of the book can be interpreted different ways. So that tells me that Sarah is probably a pretty optimistic person, who can look at an ambiguous situation and see the good possibilities. A glass-half-full kind of gal. :)

Bonnie's review of Place Last Seen

1. Title, author, and date of book?
Place Last Seen by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman, 2000

2. Genre: fiction

3. What made you want to read it? Did it live up to your expectations?
Wendy at Caribousmom put it on her Something About Me Reading Challenge list, and I chose it as one I wanted to read. It is every bit as good as I expected.

4. Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
During an idyllic autumn-day hike in the Desolation Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas, the Baker family is hurled into a nightmare when six-year-old Maggie, a child with Down Syndrome, runs away while playing hide-and-seek with her brother. As the Search and Rescue team combs the place where Maggie was last seen, all the family can do is wait and hope that a clue will lead them to her.

5. Share a quote from the book.
Here are the opening lines:
Maggie is lost.
Ann crouches in the trail, listening to this sentence loop over and over through her brain. Her daughter is six years old -- blond, brown eyes, Down syndrome, lost.

6. Did you think the characters and their problems were believable?
All except that mother, who seemed strange to the search and rescue team as well. We know the little lost girl through flashbacks; we see that her father, mother, and 8-year-old brother all feel guilty that she is got away from them; but the story is really (in my opinion) about the searchers. I was fascinated to learn about THEIR problems as they tried to find nearby dog teams to follow the scent before it was lost -- only to discover they were in Peru, helping there. The longer it took to get the trained dogs to the PLS, the place last seen, the more likely the scent would be washed away by rain or otherwise contaminated by helpful volunteer searchers. And then there was the new guy, learning to track, who stepped on the first good clue to be found. Oh, yes, their problems were very believable.

7. Was location important to the story?
Location was everything. The story is located in the Desolation Wilderness area of the Sierra Nevadas in the state of California. I know I'll have to read the book again, now that I have found a map of that area, but I was too engrossed to look for online information as I was reading the book. The need to know what's next kept me turning the pages. But look at this wonderful map I found since finishing the book! (Click on the map to make it larger.)

8. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
What I got from Ed and Michelle, two of the search team members, about the whole point of tracking:

Ed believes, "Tracking's mostly learning to see" (p. 63).
Michelle says, "Tracking's all about learning to see" (p. 66).
Ed "knows that the only way to find something is, in some sense, to stop looking with your brain and start seeing" (p. 127).

I get it, I get it! But do I really? Jonathan, who is on his first search, has a hard time learning to really see the lay of the land (literally) and the little clues that seasoned trackers notice. What I may think I learned by reading this book wouldn't take me far in the wilderness, but what a challenge ... to really pay attention to everything that is in your line of sight. Is there a broken twig? Is the grass flattened? What's really right there in front of your nose?

9. How would you rate the book?
Rated: 9/10, excellent! Thanks, Wendy!

10. What I learned about Wendy:
Oh, yeah, one more thing: I can't forget to report what I learned about Wendy from reading this book. She said: "This book is a touching novel about a lost child and the search which ensues to find her. It represents me on a couple of levels. I have been involved in Search and Rescue for almost ten years now (the first 7 of those years was with my Search and Rescue dog - Caribou- and now I'm a certified Tracker I for my county team). In addition, the child in this novel has Down's Syndrome. As a licensed Physical Therapist, I work with children and adults with developmental disability. McGuinn Freeman does an outstanding job of portraying both the search teams and the family of this little girl."

I posted this on Wendy's blog: "I have finished reading Place Last Seen and feel I know you a lot better now. What I want to know is, which dog in the team photo is Caribou?

Wendy replied: "Caribou and I are not on the Shasta County dog team...we worked for an state-wide organization called CARDA. I retired Caribou two years ago due to her developing arthritis ... and now I serve as a tracker for my county team (which is the link I provided in my 'explanation' of the book). You can see a photo of Caribou here on my blog."

Caribou is a beautiful dog! Go see for yourself. This is exactly what I was hoping to learn about some of you when I joined this challenge. Wendy has been out there searching for people like the characters in this book, on search and rescue teams and with her trained dog. This has been great, learning something new to me and at the same time learning about my new friend Wendy.

I reviewed this on my blog, Bonnie's Books as well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Iliad - Review

I posted this review on my blog as well Rhinoa's Ramblings but am adding it here too. It wasn't on my list of five books to read for this challenge, but Alyson proposed it and seeing as I read it I though why not talk about it here too!

Rating : 4.5/5

Reason for reading : Various challenges, always meant to get around to it

The well-known story of the Trojan War is recounted here. It was all started when Paris (son of Priam of Troy) ran off with Greek Helen the wife of Menelaus. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon raise an army and lay seige to Troy consisting of a selection of famous warriors including Odysseus, the two Ajax's, Achilles, Nestor, Patroclus and Diomedes. The Trojan side is led by Hector (eldest son of Priam), Paris, Aeneas, Sarpedon and Polydorus.

The story begins six years into the fighting with an arguement between Agamemnon and Achilles over a girl. Achilles refuses to help in the fighting, even though the Greeks are losing, until his best friend Patroclus is killed by Hector. He then gains his revenge by killing Hector even though his death has been prophesised to follow not long after. The novel ends with Hectors funeral and before Achilles dies and the sacking of Troy.

There is a great collection of characters on both sides and the story is filled with action and some great speeches. It can get a little A killed B, C kills B in retaliation and then D etc. To stop it from being just a list of the names of the fallen and their killer, Homer has a little back story for most of the characters just before they are killed. The methods of killing seem to be mostly by rock or by spear just above the nipple, in the liver or in the eyes or mouth. It's pretty gruesome in places and the killing blows nicely match my imagination of their armour and their weak spots.

My favourite, yet most annoying aspect, is the role of the Gods (mostly Hera and Athena who really mix things up and cause havoc). The Gods are not content to sit on the sidelines and let destiny unfold naturally and as prophesised, they are constantly argueing and getting involved. They often help their favourites by whisking them away from battle or shielding them from attack. They also make things more difficult for the opposition and attack the other Gods in the process. It's like the traditional image of them playing chess or another board game with the human warriors as the pieces.

Overall though, a great book. Again I can see why it is such a classic and I am looking forward to reading The Odyssey in the near future.

Leslie's books about me :)

There is No Me Without You, by Melissa Faye Greene (NF). One woman's response to the orphan crisis in Ethiopia
Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder (NF). About Haiti and Dr. Paul Farmer, a out-of-the-box public health thinker and provider
Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, by Walker Percy (NF). Thought provoking and funny.
Sammy's Hill, by Kristin Gore (F). Funny description of DC life and politics. Just a fun read.
A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity, by Kathleen Seidel (F). Fun novel about DC area moms of middle school girls. (Which one of these years I will be!)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Glory-Ho Bookshelf Snapshot

Long Quiet Highway,
Natalie Goldberg, Non-Fiction (my life and true writer awakening)
Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner, Fiction (a curious, timeless calming about our place in the world)
Cowboys Are My Weakness, Pam Houston, Fiction (how I felt through my 20s)
Expecting Adam, Martha Beck, Non-Fiction (my spiritual awakening)
The Thornbirds, Colleen McCullough, Fiction (my first real book, inspiring me to seek far away lands)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Maryanne's five books to read

Hi, everyone! Finally I now have a list of the five books I will be reading for the challenge.

But first, a recap:

I had a hard time coming up with the five "about me" books. But then when I started to relax and decided to just have fun, choosing became easier. Here are the five books that I like that also tell something about me:

1. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Because this is how I love, with a fiery passion that lasts and lasts and lasts. I've actually watched the movie before I was able to read the book, and when I finally got the book and was ready to read it, I hesitated. I wondered how I would react if the book would come across as very different from the movie. Indeed it was different, and I loved the book more than I loved the movie! Funny thing is, I don't know how to cook at all. This is one of the books that made me realize that the best cooks of all are the ones who cook with love.

2. The History Of The Siege of Lisbon by Jose Saramago. Because I'm working on a book of history at the moment, and I am also plagued by the issues that the main character was worried about. I'm hoping to triumph in the end, like he did! Women writers are said to view history differently, and ask different questions, no matter if they were trained the same way as the men. Right now I'm deep in the work, and although I am currently on a much-needed break, everyday I stop and wonder about all the books of history out there, and how our lives would have been different had they been written differently.

3. How To Walk In High Heels by Camilla Morton. Because I'm a single girl living alone in the big city. I also have a thing for shoes. This is really a how-to book, which I found so endearing, because it provides instructions for eveerything, including how to unwrap a cd, how to hire a plumber, and how to burp in public!

4. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Because when I was young I used to believe in vampires and ghosts. There was a period in my young life when, during summer, I'd pretend to fall asleep and then when everybody else was asleep, I'd get out of bed and peer out the window towards the lot of our next-door neighbor, about 300 kilometers away on the farm, and try to see those strange lights that old wives used to talk about. In the farm, where I grew up, everybody believed in ghosts and spirits and superstitions.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Because I simply looove chocolate!

And here are the five that I will be reading, from the lists that the others have posted:
1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, from Rhinoa's list
2. On Writing by Stephen King, from Jill's list
3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, from Stephanie's list
4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck, from Vasilly's list
5. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, from
Lucca's list

And here's one more, in memory of Nattie, who isno longer with us: An Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler.

As I finish reading each book, I'll be posting a mini-review, here and in my blog, in the context of the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge.

Happy reading to all of us!

Little Willow's List

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - A beautifully imaginative story that many people know of but not everyone has actually read in the original form. Watching the 1972 musical film adaptation of the book, I shrieked, "Mom! Look! Alice has brown hair, like me!" Years later, I was delighted to find out that the real Alice, Alice Liddell, was also a brunette.

The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende - Because I loved the movie, I wanted to read the book. My mom got it for me, and I dug right in. People outside of my family doubted that someone so young could and had read a book that thick. I ignored their condescending assumptions and went back to my book.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - Upon opening this book for the very first time, I quickly noted, "The first paragraph is all one sentence." I love the entire series. Anne Shirley is intelligent, spunky, outspoken, and endearing.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - "Turtle should be the first female president." (and) "I want to make this into a movie someday. I'll play Turtle." I am still upset that someone beat me to it. Then it aired on a channel we didn't get. I have yet to see it.

Body Bags by Christopher Golden - Since everything on my list so far was from my childhood, I wanted to select something I read as a young adult. I narrowed the field down to Body Bags and The Great Gatsby, two very different books. Since the latter is something I'm sure many of you have read, I selected Body Bags, the first of ten books in the well-written and well-researched Body of Evidence series. I hope those of you who haven't read it will pick it up!

I'm Little Willow. I'm a reader, a writer, a performer, a dreamer, a thinker. My book blog is Bildungsroman. Feel free to drop by the blog or the corresponding archival website. My full post about this challenge is available here.

Thanks to Sarah Miller for repeatedly urging me to take part in this challenge.

Wendy's Challenge List

With only a few more days before the official start of this challenge, I thought it was time to post my list of books I will read. To see a complete list of books I've read in the past (a total of 38), as well as those I want to read eventually (a total of 65 - including those I intend to read during the challenge period as well as alternates) you can check out my blog.

Books to be read during the challenge period (books highlighted in red have been read):

1. The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers (3M - Michelle)
2.The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett (Megan)
3. The Amateur Marriage, by Anne Tyler (In memory of Nattie)
4. The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood (Ellen)
5. Marley and Me, by John Grogan (Lynne)
6. The Essays of E.B. White (Dana)
7. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (Vasilly)
8. I Am The Messenger, by Marcus Zusak (
9. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Housseini (Becky Rech)

Alternates/Extras During the Challenge period:

1. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Marier (
2. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb (Bookworm)
3. Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult (Heather)
4. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin (Pattie)
5. The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri (HeidiJane)
6. Biblioholism, by Tom Raabe (Twiga)
7. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (Suey AND Trish)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gracie's List

The five books about me are:

*Persuasion by Jane Austen (F)
(I do so identify with it)
*Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks (NF)
(I read it between tours of duty in Turkey)
*Beowulf trans. by Seamus Heaney (Epic Poetry)
(I was an English Lit major; this version is accessible & magnificent)
*Time and Again by Jack Finney (F)
(I would so love to be able to do this - and he lived in Marin County)
*Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Juv.F)
(the book that made me a reader)
and one more, just because:
*Without by Donald Hall (Poetry)
(every person should be loved like this)

What I plan to read:

*Heidi by Johanna Spyri (Heidijane’s list)
*The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle (Dewey’s list)
*Tale of Despereaux by Kate diCamillo (Booklogged’s list)
*Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Beachreader’s list)
*So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (A Book in the Life’s list and Sally’s list)
*Booked to Die by John Dunning (Bonnie’s list)

I’m looking forward to reading these books, for a number of reasons, and am glad to be a part of the challenge

For more about me, please view my blog at http://web.mac.com/akagracie

Becky's List

Becky's Book Reviews

From Sarah Miller's List I am reading All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum.

From Sally, a.book.in.the.life, and Vasilly, I will be reading So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson.

From Rhinoa's list, I'll be reading Lord of the Rings.

From bookworm, Pattie, I'll be reading Pride & Prejudice.

Alternates I'm considering:

From Athena's list, Peter Pan.

From Tiny Little Librarian's list Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks

From Booklogged's List, I am considering Number the Stars and/or The Tale of Despereaux.

From Karlene's list, I'm thinking Dune or The Secret Life of Bees.

Ender's Game

This review is can also be found on my blog.

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, is a science fiction novel. So I would have probably never read it, except for it being suggested by Becky for the "Something About Me" reading challenge. She had stated that this book started her "love affair with science fiction." So I thought I'd give it a shot. After I had chosen it to read, it turned up on Karlene's list as well.

General comments:
This book is about a very young, incredibly intelligent boy, Ender, who is taken from his parents and trained to fight in the earth's military organization, the Intergalactic Fleet, known as the IF. He is thought to be the last hope in the war against the buggers, and those in authority use every means possible to turn him into the ruthless commander they think they need him to be.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. It hooked me right at the beginning, and I enjoyed the relationships among the kids at the Battle School. Once Ender left the Battle School, however, it started to drag a bit for me.

What I liked:
I liked how Ender managed to hold on to his humanity throughout his ordeal. He could see the various aspects of his personality and what he liked and didn't like about himself. He didn't like unfairness, and when faced with it, always managed to come out on top.

I liked this quote from a character who is considered a legend in the novel:
Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf. Survival first, then happiness as we can manage it.
-Mazar Rackham

I think that the quote rings true not just for this novel, but for real life as well. After all, we all want to be happy, but that won't matter if we're dead.

What I didn't like:
Despite the author's intent to make Ender wise beyond his years intellectually, but still a little boy emotionally, even emotionally Ender seemed too old. Even as a 6-year-old, he was able to control his emotions. And then as a adolescent he was extremely adept at it. Well, I have a adolescent, and an unusually bright one, and controlling emotions is not a strong suit in children of that age. I also have a wise-beyond-her-years 6-year-old, who does try to control her emotions, but she pretty much sucks at it.

I think there was no need for Ender to be so young. He could have started at 11 or 12, while other kids started around 14 or so. The story would have been just as good, and the main character more believable.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I am not, however, chomping at the bit to find out what happens to Ender (or the little bundle he found at the end of the book), like I am with Harry Potter. If I stumble across the rest of the Ender books, I'll probably read them, but I don't feel compelled to actively seek them out. So I guess I'm not starting a love affair with science fiction, but I will be more open to science fiction suggestions from others than I have been in the past.

So, what does this book tell me about Becky and Karlene? Well, Karlene wants to someday "write a story this compelling," so I guess she is either a writer or an aspiring writer. And Becky's love affair with science fiction and particularly Orson Scott Card started here, so the book obviously made quite an impression on her. I think she must have really empathized (as did I) with Ender. We all often feel at the mercy of those in authority, and so a book about a child who, in an adult world, ultimately holds all the power really resonates.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Margo's Reading List

I've chosen some books to read in my challenge, but haven't gone mad, as I'm not a fast reader.

So my list is from August 1st.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Alyson's)
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (Janet's)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (from a few peoples lists)
Anne Frank: Diary of a young girl (Pattie's)
I Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles (Soleil's)
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (JMC's)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Becky's)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Karlene's Reading List

The five books (all fiction) about me are:
  1. Dune by Frank Herbert—my book of courage

  2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd—my southern heritage

  3. Saints/Woman of Destiny by Orson Scott Card—the strongest woman I know

  4. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card—I hope to someday write a story this compelling

  5. Harriet the Spy by Loise Fitzhugh—the book that made me want to be a writer

The books I've chosen to read are:
  1. Uglies (Uglies Trilogy, Book 1) by Scott Westerfeld (REVIEW) (Faith)

  2. The Giver by Lois Lowry (Sarah Miller)

  3. The View from Saturday by EL Konigsburg (Sarah Miller)

  4. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory (Margo)

  5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (alisonwonderland)

I'm participating in several reading challenges right now, so I'm posting lots of reviews on my blog. But this link will bring up only my posts for the Something About Me reading challenge.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Janet's List to Read

I finally made my choice of the books I want to read beginning on August 1st. It was a difficult choice. I feel like I should make an after challenge list too, but I see the 2008 TBR challenge looming so this gives me titles to think about. I am listing the first list I saw the title in even though many of you may have the same books listed as something about you!

Here Goes:

The Remains fo the Day by Kazuo Ishigio (F) Lucca's List
Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg (F) Library Lady
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (F) Margo
On Writing by Stephen King (NF) Jill
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (F) Kathrin
So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (NF) Sally

I will also post this on the sidebar of my blog joyfuljottings-janet.blogspot.com

Friday, July 13, 2007

To Kill a Mockingbird

I reviewed this on my blog here.

I'll post it here as well:

Harper Lee’s masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird revolves around the childhood of Scout and Jem Finch. Scout recalls the most important events of her life in those years: the quiet dignity of her father Atticus, her adventures with Jem and her friend Dill to sneak a peek at Boo Radley, and most of all the trial of Tom Robinson. Atticus must defend the innocent black man from charges of raping a white woman in the Alabama of the 1930's. In one summer, she grows up.

This novel has been challenged and banned from school libraries many times (it’s #41 on the top 100 most challenged), for many reasons, but the racism is hard to ignore. It’s uncomfortable to read, but necessary to the story. Scout’s small town, both good (like Boo and Maudie) and the bad (the bigots and racists), is revealed to us through the innocence of a child’s eye. It’s a clever device by Lee to use that innocence to make an important point.

When I first read this book, I was a teenager. I related to Scout more than the other characters. Now as an adult I relate more to the adults, even though the point of view is Scout’s.

Atticus Finch, although not the narrator, is the hero of the novel. He is a quiet, honest man, who uses his mind and his words to fight for justice. After the children have their eyes opened to the injustice in the world, they are comforted by the neighbour, Maudie: "...there are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father is one of them." He is a good foil for all the evil in the novel. At the beginning of the story, Atticus tells Scout:

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

This is an important statement. Throughout the book, we walk around in many of the character’s skin: a new teacher, a poor farmer’s son, a recluse, an accused black man and his pathetic accuser.

There are so many memorable characters is this book. Although it is character driven, there is plenty of action. It’s a page turner and is truly a classic for all time.


This was Stephanie and Janet's pick. I've 'known' Stephanie for a few years now and I can understand why this is her favorite book. Atticus is such a strong moral character and a great parent. Janet wishes to be as innocent as Scout, ethical as Atticus and loyal as Jem and I agree with her- I would as well. Everyone should read this at least once.

Tiny Little Librarian's Picks

Ohhh, there are so many good ones! I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but here are the books that I plan to read (I may not manage 'em all, but I'll give it my best shot):

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (Vasilly, A Book in the Life, Sally)
Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (Athena)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Kristin)
Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter (Stephanie)
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (Wendy)
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (Nattie)
Sixpence House: lost in a town of books by Paul Collins (Nattie)
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth (Raidergirl13)
Evening Class by Maeve Binchy (Raidergirl13)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Christina)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (various lists)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (Margo)
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Soleil)
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (Booklogged)
Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand (LibraryLady)
An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance (LibraryLady)
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (SheReads)
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (SheReads)
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Valentina)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Juli)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (Faith)
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (Kelly)
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (Historia)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Vasilly)
Marley and Me by John Grogan (Lynne)

Books I've already read (one in blue are ones I'd have put on my own About Me list if I'd had more slots!):

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (well, some of them, anyway)
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishigiro
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
The Red Tent by Anita Diamante
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Postsecret by Frank Warren
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
No Coins, Please by Gordan Korman
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

My lists to share & read

So the 5 books that reflect who I am are as follows.

84 Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff (NF)
Because I love reading anything about books - and I absolutely LOVED the movie.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail - Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln (NF)
I read this 25 years ago when it first came out. It made a huge impact on my life as I searched for the truth (my version of truth anyway) and I will always be grateful to this book for opening my eyes.

Runaway Jury - John Grisham (F)
I loved this story where the little people win against the big tobacco companies. The movie got changed drastically, and did not give me the same feeling.

Sahara or Treasure - Clive Cussler (F)
Sahara because it involves the ancient libraries of Timbuktu, and Treasure because it involves the Ancient Library of Alexandria. Great Adventure books by one of alltime my favourite Authors.

I am Spock & I am not Spock - Leonard Nimoy (NF)
Because I LOVE Vulcans and Star Trek, and Nimoy does such a fantastic job.

Here is my list of books I want to read

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (NF) Sally, A Book in the Life, and Vasilly
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (F) (crossed over with New Notions challenge)
Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan (NF) kookiejar
Biblioholism by Tom Raabe (NF) Twiga
The Red Tent by Anita Diamante (F) (sarah miller)

And the following are my Alternates

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (F) Dewey
Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell (NF) A book in the life
Papa Married a Mormon by John D. Fitzgerald (NF) Suey
Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins (NF) Nattie
Parenting your Only Child by Susan Newman (NF) Christina
The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, (christina)

Stephanie List of Books

And I thought it was hard coming up for 5 books that says Something About Me? That was nothing compared to coming up with a reading list for this challenge!! There are SO many books out there that look good! What's a girl to do?? Well...I narrowed it down to what I THINK is going to be my reading list. But as a woman, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time!
  • Booked to Die by John Dunning (Bonnie)
  • Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (Wendy)
  • The Erye Affair by Jasper Fforde (HeidiJane)
  • The Echo Maker by Richard Powers (3M)
  • Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbert (Raidergirl)
  • Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult (Heather)
  • The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Ellen)
  • The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Dewey)
  • I am the Messenger by Markus Zuzak (Jill)
  • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck(Kookie)

Pretty sure I won't get to all of them...but it will be fun trying!


I just finished reading Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I picked this book from alisonwonderland's list for the Something About Me Reading Challenge. After I'd already decided to read it my sister in law, who is a high school English teacher, called me up and raved about it. So, I knew it was a must read.

Stargirl reminds me of all the worst parts about high school. I hated the constant worrying about what the cool kids were doing and trying to pretend like I didn't care. When I was in school nonconformity was cool so we were all busy imitating each other but trying to look like we were doing our own thing. It was exhausting. The main character of Stargirl, also named Stargirl, is just the kind of nonconformist that I always wanted to be...until her boyfriend encourages her to be more "normal."

What is normal, anyway? And what do we lose when we give up everything to attain normality? I like the message of this book. It's a quick read but Spinelli is a great storyteller and he captures your interest from the start. Thanks, alisonwonderland, for suggesting this book!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Atonement Child

******* WARNING!!!!!! *******

I should say first that if you plan to read this book, but haven't already, DO NOT read this review. I had to give away the ending in order to give my thoughts on the novel.

**** Addendum to warning ****

Actually, you can read it except for #2 under "What I didn't like" and the paragraph following that section. :)

I know I'm not supposed to begin reading for the "Something About Me" reading challenge until August 1, and generally I'm a stickler for the rules, but hey, sometimes you just have to live a little. Anyway, I got home from vacation to find The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers on my dining room table. I had Bookmooched it for this challenge, and it had arrived while I was gone. So since I thought I had left the book I was reading at my mom's house in SC (turned out it was just in my camera case), I picked it up and started reading.

General comments:
1 - The novel is obviously written by a very religious, staunchly pro-life author. I figured this out before I discovered the evangelizing note from the author in the back (which I didn't see until after I had finished the book), but don't be impressed, it was pretty much knock-you-upside-the-head obvious. Now maybe I've had my head under a rock, and it's common knowledge about this author, but I had never heard of her. Today I googled her, and it seems she is exactly what she seems to be. So good for her. I like people who are who they are.

2 - The novel has an agenda, and that is the pro-life agenda. Now, I generally have a problem with agendas, even when I agree with them, because it means I'm only getting one side of the story. But this book didn't try to hide it's agenda in any way, so it wasn't like the author was trying to pull a fast one.

3 - I found the book interesting, especially since I had written a post about abortion a while back and used the example of a rape victim who becomes pregnant, which is exactly what this book is about. The plot revolves around Dynah Carey, a young woman who is raped while attending a Christian college, and how she and everyone involved in her life deal with the subsequent pregnancy. The main dilemma being, obviously, to abort or not to abort.

What I liked:
1 - The character Joe. He is what he is, he's not judgmental, and he stands by those he cares about. You can't help but like the guy. Plus, he said my favorite quote in the book:
Tell me how on God's green earth we can dare offer salvation to a dying world when we're so busy shooting our own wounded.
Which leads me to the next thing I liked.

2 - I liked that the author openly presented the hypocrisy of "being Christian" and "passing judgment." I find so often that those who quote the Bible the most are those who least exercise the tolerance on which Jesus built his ministry. They are often the first to condemn and to judge, which is disheartening, since I know somewhere in the Bible it says, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." It would be nice to hear them quote that once in a while. So it was refreshing and encouraging to see an author so openly pushing Christian values admit that a major fault with extremely religious folk is their jumping to judgment of others.

What I didn't like:
1 - In order to get her viewpoint across, the author often resorted to contrived dialogue. It just didn't seem realistic in many instances. The most obvious example being a meeting with several elderly women where they discuss abortion and abortion laws. It read like an anti-abortion public service announcement.

2 - The book in general didn't seem realistic. There was no counseling for the rape itself, Dynah just seemed to pretty much get over it. There was a very brief mention of the possibility of disease, that was never followed up on. Once she decided to have the baby, there were no longer conflicting feelings, no "how am I going to love this child completely when she is half my attacker?" feelings. It is all simply brushed aside in the rightness of the decision not to abort and the glow of love for the child. While I don't have experience in this subject, it just doesn't seem realistic that only nine months later a rape victim wouldn't still be a bit of an emotional mess, particularly a pregnancy-hormone loaded victim who had no counseling.

Overall, the book was very readable, and I got through it in 3 days. It was interesting, but very one-sided, and left me wondering what pro-choicers would say about some of the information given. I would have found it intellectually stimulating had some pro-choice viewpoints on the issues been completely presented and then argued against. By not presenting those conflicting viewpoints, the book is left open to attack from pro-choice activists. I think the novel could have been made a bit more realistic had Dynah, while not aborting because of her strong beliefs, gone through with the adoption option. While the novel was rife with conflicting emotions, I think a lot was left out or glossed over, particularly when it came to Dynah's feelings about her child.

This book was on Twiga's list, and based on what she said about why she picked it, I believe she must have attended a small ultra-conservative religious college, where she encountered a large number of self-righteous, judgmental people. I can only hope she had a few Joes to pal around with.