Thursday, September 20, 2007

Book Review: THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL



The Bookseller of Kabul

Author: Asne Seierstad

Pages: 288

Personal Rating: 4.5/5

From the back cover:

This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details-a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

Seierstad gave me a glimpse into a world I would never have a chance to see, the world of an Afghani family today. Sisters, mothers, brothers, sons, grandparents, and cousins all living together under one roof. The house has been damaged by various attacks…Americans, Taliban, Russians, various Afghani tribes. It is continually covered with dust that one poor girl Leila is forced to clean daily. She is the first one up and the last one to bed, but that is just the way it is, she is the youngest daughter and not worth much.

This book often left me feeling frustrated at how women are treated so poorly in other countries and it is culturally accepted by them. Seierstad gives vivid descriptions of what it is like to wear a burka from the way it feels and smells to how women recognize each other by their shoes since they really can’t see much else. In certain areas of Afghanistan women cannot be seen by men outside of their family. They could be killed if they are.

Seierstad comments on life from all people in the family including Sultan (the bookseller and oldest son), his sons, sisters and brothers, his two wives and other various family members. You get a true glimpse of the different aspects of their daily activities, aspirations and problems. Seierstad really does touch on so many different areas that it is hard to summarize them.

I believe this a must read considering we invaded this nation and they live so differently then us, yet still strive for the same things we do.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Pup Helping Me Read



Here I am plodding through The Omnivore's Dilemma. My buddy Otis is alway keeping me company. I never did finish this book. I'm not sure why. I teach biology and find the idea behind the book fascinating. Maybe it was Pollan's writing style of just the time of the summer. I'll try it again some time but not for awhile. Did anyone else have trouble with this book?

Books in the Mail

Is there anything better than getting books in the mail? How about when one is a surprise? Today four books showed up. I was waiting for three but the fourth was a complete surprise! I'm not sure how many of you are members at paperbackswap but I visit the game forum there often and play in the swaps. You "put up" one book (usually secretly) and then people take turns revealing and stealing books until everyone has one. I've had a chance to get some interesting books this way I never would have read otherwise. You can also sign up for secret buddy swaps where you agree to send someone a book secretly and know you will get at least 1 book in return. Well, I've gotten three this time! People have been very generous. As soon as I'm settled into my new house I'm going to repay these "surprise" books to someone who isn't expecting it.

So what has shown up this week?

How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot

Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

The Butterfly House by Marcia Preston

gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

If I had more time, or when I have more time, I'll include a little description for each one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book Review: POISON STUDY


Poison Study

Author: Maria Snyder

Pages: 361

Personal Rating: 5/5

From the back cover:

Choose: A quick death or slow poison. About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals; have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust- and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

I CANNOT wait until the next two books come out—Magic Study and Fire Study. I may actually buy Fire Study in hardback when it comes out in March of 08.

Go Get This Book!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Book Review: PLACE LAST SEEN

The Place Last Seen

Author: Charlotte Freeman

Pages: 292

Personal Rating: 3/5

From the back cover:

During an idyllic autumn-day hike in the Desolation Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas, the Baker family is hurled into a nightmare. Playing hide-and-seek with her older brother, Luke, six-year-old Maggie runs away-and she cannot be found. Her father, Richard, and mother, Anne, search desperately before racing down the mountain to call in a Search and Rescue team. The team arrives with experienced trackers, volunteers, dogs, and topographic maps and begins a thorough search from the place where Maggie was last seen. But the search is complicated by an unpredictable factor: willful and energetic, Maggie baker is also a Down Syndrome child, and there is no telling how she will move as she wanders in the wilderness. Richard, Anne, and Luke can only wait and hope that she will leave a clue, a trail that will lead them to her.

The story is told from two viewpoints, the family and the search and rescue team as they look for Maggie. You never get a chance to personally “meet” Maggie as she is already lost when you begin the story but you get to know her from the emotions and descriptions from her family members. The story covers only a few days and not much happens (they look for Maggie). The focus is on the emotional nightmare that all the people involved face and how it comes at different people from different angles. I really disliked the mother and felt so sorry for the “big” brother (10 years old?). At times I wanted to strangle the mother myself and wondered how do search and rescue teams actually deal with people like her?

I also wondered how people can endure such stressful and terrible situations. How would I react if I was in that situation? I think until you’re there you will never truly know.

The 3/5 rating was given because it was a little slow and boring at times but still a very good read that I would recommend.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

USA Today Fall Books Preview




Check it out: LINK

BIG FALL FICTION

The Almost Moon
By Alice Sebold (Little, Brown, $24.99)

What it's about:
A divorced woman kills her elderly mother, who has dementia.

Why it's big:
It's been five years since Sebold's last novel, The Lovely Bones, the surprising smash hit narrated by a murdered girl. Booksellers hope Moon will rise to the same heights, but Sebold really pushes boundaries with this one. Mixed early reviews indicate it will be a tougher sell.

On sale: Oct. 16

Plus:

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham (Doubleday, $21.95, Sept. 24). A third-string NFL quarterback scores when he's hired by a team in Italy.

Run by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins, $25. 95, Sept. 25). A drama about a mixed-race family, set in Boston.

Exit Ghost by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, $26, Oct. 1). The final Nathan Zuckerman novel.

The Abstinence Teacher by TomPerrotta (St. Martin's, $24.95, Oct. 16). The culture wars hit the suburbs, from the author of Little Children.

There are also sections for non-fiction, celebrity, history, debut, sequel, classics, self-help, young adult, childrens, graphic, mystery, memoir, and biographies.

What Have You Read?

Look at the list of books below: *Bold the ones you’ve read* Italicize the ones you want to read* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18 The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44.The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58.The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96.The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Series Challenge

Kathrin at Crazy Cozy Murders is hosting a series challenge. Click here for the Mr. Linky.

She says:

"Well, I've been thinking about all those series I've started, but not finished at various points in my life. Be it series with the same characters, the same topic, by the same author... There are just so many of which I read maybe the first few books and then left off because of other series I wanted to give a try. And by no means did I "leave" those series because I didn't like what I read!"
The basic rules would be:

1. There is no set number of books you have to read, you just have to read the books in order to be all up-to-date with the series.
2. Post your review of the books on your blog, no matter how long.
3. Post a comment here when you have finished a series and when you have finished all the series you wanted to finish for the challenge.
4. Always remember this is for fun!

Time Frame: December 1 2007 - May 31 2008 (possible/probable 6 month extension)

MY POSSIBLE SERIES:
Harry Potter
Tales of the Alvin Maker--Orson Scott Card (crossover with cardathon challenge)

Book Review: SISTER INDIA


Sister India

Author: Peggy Payne

Pages: 275

Personal Rating: 3/5

From the inside cover:

The lonely Planet guidebook recommends the Saraswati Guest House in Varanasi and meeting its proprietor Madame Natraja, ' a one-woman blend of East and West', as a worthwhile side trip for the adventurous traveler in India. Over the course of one weekend, several guests turn up at the Saraswati, shocked to encounter a nearly four-hundred-pound surly white woman in a sari. Jill Thornton, thirtyish and single, has come only to rest and see the sights before home from a business trip to New Delhi. T J Clayton, a swaggering southern bureaucrat, has arrived in India on a grant to study the pollution-plagued River Ganges. And Marie Jasper, nearly eighty years old, has ventured to Varanasi alone, after the death of her husband, to find peace by the holy river.

But as happens so often in India, Natraja's guests find more than what they came for. When a series of Hindu-Muslim murders rocks the peace of this sacred place, the entire city is placed under curfew indefinitely - no one may leave his home. Natraja's guests unwittingly become her captives, and the guardians of her secrets. So begins a period of days blending into nights, as Natraja and her Indian cook become entangled in the web of religious violence. And their guests each fall slowly under the spell of Varanasi - both enthralled and repelled by its wandering holy men, public funeral pyres, and pilgrims bathing in the Ganges at dawn. They feel the rumble of their own inner revolutions as they are drawn further and further into the folds of their captive city.


I decided to read this book based on my travel to China a few years ago. Since then I’ve been interested in reading books set in different countries, especially those in Asia. I’m hoping to travel again someday soon hoping to “experience” the different cultures like I did in China. I’ve been enjoying books where the experience of being there is as important as the story. I felt like I was in Varanasi when I read Sister India. It made we want to travel there.

Trying to “pick out” the plotline is difficult because the story wanders back and forth between the past and present and the various people in the guest house. Yes, they are all under curfew but there is no one “goal” everyone is working towards or a unifying idea happening. It’s more each person’s individual experience tied together by the curfew. I think this is fine but it isn’t for everyone.

I gave Sister India 3/5 stars because even though it gave you the experience of being in India it had the potential to be one of those books that LOTS of people would read and enjoy. If it had focused on fewer events in more detail and had better character development I think it could have been a fantastic book. As is it is a “good” book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Book Around the World Challenge







I'm addicted to challenges. Since this one did not have an end date I figured I would add it to the list. As I've been reading through blogs and reviews I've found myself becoming interested in books set in different countries. This challenge seems perfect since I already have a few of these books around and I was planning on buying a few in in the future.

AFGHANISTAN
The Bookseller of Kabul

ANTARCTICA
AUSTRALIA
BOLIVIA
BRAZIL
CANADA

CHINA
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Women of the Silk*

CUBA
EGYPT
ENGLAND
FRANCE

GERMANY
The Book Thief
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas*

HONG KONG

INDIA
Sister India*

IRELAND
ISRAEL
ITALY

JAPAN
Memiors of a Geisha *

KOREA
Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood *

MOROCCO
NEW ZEALAND
NIGERIA
PORTUGAL

RUSSIA
The Madonnas of Leningrad

RWANDA
SCOTLAND
SPAIN
SRI LANKA
SUDAN
TURKEY

Books I have but haven't read yet...
The Alchemist (Spain)
Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris (France)
Anil's Ghost (Sri Lanka)
Astrid and Veronika (Sweden)
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (China)
Bel Canto (South America)
Beneath a Marble Sky (India)
The Birth of Venus (Italy)
The Blind Assassin (Canada)
The Blood of Flowers (Iran)
The Bonesetter's Daughter (China)
Borderliners (Denmark)
Breath, Eyes, Memory (Haiti)
Brick Lane (Bangladesh)
The Brief History of the Dead (Antarctica)
The Burning Times (France)
Chocolat (France)
The Crimson Petal and the White (Great Britain)
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Egypt)
Damascus Gate (Israel)
The Devil's Arithmetic (Poland)
Dreams of My Russian Summer (Russia)
The Dress Lodger (England)
The Egyptologist (Egypt)
Exodus (Palestine)
Fall on Your Knees (Nova Scotia)
Fieldwork (Thailand)
The Fig Eater (Hungary)
From Baghdad with Love (Iraq)
The God of Small Things (India)
Harem (Iran)
Holder of the World (India)
The House of the Spirits (Chile)
I, Mona Lisa (Italy)
The Intelligencer (Great Britain)
Kabul Beauty School (Afghanistan)
The Kite Runner (Afghanistan)
Koko (Vietnam)
Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico)
A Long Way Gone: Memiors of a Boy Soldier: (Sierra Leone)
The Looking Glass (France)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Colombia)
Madame Bovary (France)
Map of Bones (Germany)
The Map of Love (Egypt)
The Masque of the Black Tulip (England)
Napoleon's Pyramids (Egypt)
Peony in Love (China)
Pig Island (Scotland)
The Poisonwood Bible (Belgian Congo)
Pompeii (Italy)
The Reader (Germany)
River God (Egypt)
The Robber Bride (Canada)
The Samurai's Garden (China)
The Shadow of the Wind (Spain)
Shanghai Diary: A Young Girl's Journey from Hitler's Hate to War-Torn China
The Shipping News (Newfoundland)
The Sixteen Pleasures (Italy)
Slammerkin (London)
Soul Mountain (China)
Star of the Sea (Ireland)
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Afghanistan)
The Twentieth Wife (India)
Waiting (China)
Wide Sargasso Sea (West Indies)


Book Around the World





* = didn't make "the list" but I'm still including it anyway



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