Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quirky (BTT)

This week’s question is suggested by (blogless) JMutford:

Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?
I had a hard time thinking of characters tonight. Maybe I'll come back and add to this tomorrow.

Louis: The Ninth Life of Louis Drax (Liz Jensen). OK--if you read it, you know quirky may be a stretch and weird may be a better word. Isn't that the beauty of quirky though? That fine line... Louis was outrageous because he was so weird. That also made him a little scary. His character wasn't fun or unenjoyable, but it was necessary for the story.

Any of the characters from Donna Tart's: The Secret History. Though sometimes they were annoying I generally enjoyed them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Notable Book Challenge

Yeah...I entered. Can't wait to look at those lists again and choose some books!

The following are books I've already had an interest in. I'll probably read a few of these.

  • FALLING MAN, by Don DeLillo

  • LATER, AT THE BAR: A Novel in Stories, by Rebecca Barry

  • THROW LIKE A GIRL: Stories, by Jean Thompson

  • THE INVISIBLE CURE: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS, by Helen Epstein

  • LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah.

  • FIELDWORK, by Mischa Berlinski

  • THE ARCHIVIST'S STORY, by Travis Holland


  • ORACLE BONES: A Journey Between China's Past and Present, by Peter Hessler

I also found some interesting titles I'd like to check out and I'll probably add to the list.

There is NO WAY I'll be able to read all these and finish my other challenges too. This is my "dream list". I'll set my goal for 3 since I'm getting in over my head with challenges and the # of books I'll need to read. I guess that why they're called challenges!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Banned Book Challenge

Due to the success of last year's challenge, the Pelham Public Library is once again issuing the "Banned Book Challenge." Set a challenge for yourself to read x number of challenged or banned books between February 24 (Freedom to Read Week in Canada) and June 30.

I decided to read 5 books. Which five yet are still undecided. I had chosen banned books for my "themed reading challenge". I think I will switch things up a little bit. I'm going to change my theme challenge to books by Lois Lowry since I enjoyed The Giver so much and take the banned books for that challenge and apply them to this challenge. The hard part will be waiting until 2.24 to start reading them. I was planning on starting sooner.


1. The God of Small Things(Arundhati Roy) 4.2.08
2. Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes) 3.8.08
3. The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende) 4.26.08
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J. K. Rowling) 6.8.08

5. Rosemary's Baby (Ira Levin) 3.17.08

Books I've read previously that have been banned or challenged
*Lord of the Flies
*Of Mice and Men
*The Lord of the Rings
*Black Beauty
*Bridge to Teribethia
*A Wrinkle in Time
*The Handmaids Tale
*The Outsiders
*A Light in the Attice
*Are you there God? It's me, Margaret
*The Dead Zone
*Private Parts
*How to Eat Fried Worms

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday Fill in


1. _____ makes me happy. (ANIMALS)
2. I would like _____, please. (COOKIES)
3. _____ tastes SO good! (CHICKEN TENDERS)
4. _____ is my favorite day of the week because _____. (SATURDAY, I CAN SLEEP IN)
5. _____ my best feature. (MY LEGS ARE BY BEST PHYSICAL FEATURE)
6. We could learn so much from _____. (TOLERANT PEOPLE)
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _____, tomorrow my plans include _____ and Sunday, I want to _____! (SINCE I'M LATE, ON SUNDAY I'M GOING TO MY DAD'S BIRTHDAY PARTY)

BTT: "Huh? Never heard of it?"

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

Geez, I'm pretty late this this week.

Eveyone around here is pretty well read and I'm just starting to branch out so my choices may not be as obscure as some of the other's I've been reading. The two I've chosen are...

The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks (my review here). This one I picked from a challenge and was fantastic and unique.

The other is Poison Study by Maria Study. 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. I enjoyed the combination of magic and fantasy in this one.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Book Review: Seventh Son--Tales of the Alvin Maker

Author: Orson Scott Card

Pages: 241

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

Personal Rating: 4/5

Come fall in love with a magical America that might have been…

This is written on the front cover and is what first captured my attention. The Seventh Son is the first book in a series. It is mainly an introduction and probably a “set up” for the books that will be following. The main character is Alvin Jr. He is the seventh son, of a seventh son. This somehow holds extreme importance (for the boy). He is what several people think of as a “Maker”. This is somewhat explained but I’m sure will come into play in later books. He is capable of “seeing” things slightly different and is therefore able to do things/make things just a little better. We are also briefly introduced to something (not a person) called the Unmaker. It seems that Alvin will struggle with the Unmaker for a long time.

Most of the story is spent introducing and developing characters who have wonderful names like Taleswapper, and Thrower. Alvin Jr. has brothers named Wastenot and Wantnot, Calm and Measure. You are also able to figure out that the story is taking place in an America that is slightly different than the frontier America we are familiar with. Here folklore, myth and magic are realities. Traditional religion seems like it will also have a role to play.

I’m not doing this book justice with my review. I can say that I did want to go and pick up the next one right away but I’m making myself wait and read a few other books first.

Friday, January 11, 2008

May I Introduce (BTT)

How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?

Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

When I was a teenager my favorite author was Stephen King. I was babysitting and found Pet Semetary sitting on the shelf and started reading (I was probably 13). I was scared shitless and I loved it. I've read every book of his that I could get my hands on. However, I wouldn't call King my favorite author. His book The Stand does rank as one of my all times favorites and I loved his Dark Tower series. I haven't read a lot of his recently published books. I read a lot of Koontz, Robin Cook etc. I guess I was afraid to venture outside of that genre (until recently)

Now I read all over that place. I've read all of Katherine Neville's books, Phillipa Gregory and Dan Brown, but wouldn't call them faves. I want to try a little of everything from everyone.

I think I have commitment issues.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Book Review: The Girls

Author: Lori Lansens

Pages: 343

Genre: Fiction

Personal Rating: 4/5

From the back cover:

Rarely has the experience of being a sister been so poignantly and memorably captured as in Lori Lansens's triumphant novel. The Girls celebrates life's fundamental joys and trials as it presents Rose and Ruby, sisters destined to live inseparably but blessed with distinct sensibilities that enrich and complicate their shared experiences-of growing up, of finding their way in the world, of saying good-bye. Readers who encounter the girls will find it hard to resist falling under their spell.

Is it strange to describe a novel as enchanting?

The Girls is the stories of Rose and Ruby, known to the medical world as the oldest surviving craniopagus twins. They divided from a single fertilized egg but remained joined by a spot the size of a bread plate on the sides of their heads. I expected the story to be somewhat of a “sideshow” or “freak-show” that spent a lot of time recalling how the girls had to make their way through life dealing with all types of difficulties as a result of being joined at the heads. I expected it to describe how they lived as conjoined twins. Instead of being an experiential journey it’s more of an emotional and memory journey. Rose is writing her autobiography and having Ruby contribute chapters. I loved the very fist paragraph.

I have never looked into my sister’s eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.

This book is filled with beautiful emotionally stunning writing. Since emotions are so important the character development is wonderful. Aunt Lovely and Uncle Stash seem to be the most perfect people even with all their imperfections. Even the “not nice” characters are developed well to be so unliked. Not a lot happens during the book. The girls are writing a book. It’s all about their recall and how their memories have been shaped and changed over time (sometimes into what they WANT them to be). Rose and Ruby write they chapters in different fonts. I thought that was pretty unique.

This is not a book to rush through, but one to linger through enjoying the emotions you feel from it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Book Review: Dead Sleep

Author: Greg Iles

Pages: 372

Genre: Fiction/Suspense

Personal Rating: 2/5

From the back cover:
Jordan Glass, a photojournalist on a well-earned vacation, wanders into a Hong Kong art museum and is puzzled to find fellow patrons eyeing her with curiosity. Minutes later, she stumbles upon a gallery containing a one-artist exhibition called "The Sleeping Women," a mysterious series of paintings that has caused a sensation in the world of modern art. Collectors have come to believe that the canvases depict female nudes not in sleep but in death, and they command millions at auction. When Jordan approaches the last work in the series, she freezes. The face in the painting seems to be her own.

This unsettling event hurls her back into a nightmare she has fought desperately to put behind her-for, in fact, the face in the painting belongs not to Jordan but to her twin sister, murdered one year ago. At the urging of the FBI, Jordan becomes both hunter and hunted in a duel with the anonymous artist, a gifted murderer who knows the secret history of Jordan's family, and truths that even she has never had the courage to face.

This book was described as a page turner but I have to admit I was disappointed. It had such a promising idea. A series of female nude painting of women who could be sleeping, but more probably are dead, surface in the art world. They are seen by Jordan Glass, who is shocked because one of the paintings is of her twin sister who disappeared 13 months prior. She rushes back to the US and is miraculously able to join forces with the FBI to hunt down the person or persons who are committing these crimes and making these paintings.

The book had many good parts, unique characters and very interesting plot ideas. What I found so disappointing was waiting for it to become a page turner. I would be reading and think “finally, here were go…” and for a few pages it would get intense. Then it would drag, drag, drag. “Ok, Here is where it must get going for good”. Then drag, drag, drag. This isn’t done in a good suspenseful way in my opinion. I just felt it was annoying. The book had enough potential with it’s idea that you should have been able to read it in one night. It took me several days.

One aspect that does surface throughout the book are three (well two) questions that the forensic psychiatrist tells Jordan Glass he usually ask everyone.

  1. What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
  2. What moment are you proudest of in your life?
  3. What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Questions 1 & 3 haunted Jordan Glass through the entire novel.

I really liked 24 hours which was also written by Greg Iles so I’m conflicted about trying another novel by him. Suggestions or your input on others he was written would be helpful.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Anticipation (BTT)

Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what with it being a new year, and all, we’re looking forward….

What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback? many books....

I'm looking forward to

  1. The $64 Tomato (William Alexander)--it was on my Paperswap wishlist since July and I just got it!

  2. The Giver (Lois Lowry)--heard nothing but good things about this one

  3. Parasite Rex (Carl Zimmer)--I can't help it, I'm a bio geek.

  4. The Thirteenth Tale--Diane Setterfield

  5. The Quincunx (Charles Palliser)--my first chunkers, I swear this book is 4 inches thick and my first "Q" book.

  6. Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides)

  7. Fire Study and Magic Study (Maria Snyder)

I could go on...and on...and on...

Looking forward to checking out your list and adding to my pile.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Chunkster Challenge 2008


Yep, I joined. I'm sure I have a few books to cross over with my other challenges and I see some pretty thick books from here that I've been avoiding.

This challenge is being hosted by Dana (So Many Books, So Little Time): Chunkster Challenge

  • Book must be longer than 450 pages
  • Must read 4 books and SHARE reviews
  • Dates = 1.7.08 - 12.20.08
Here is my list of books:

1. The Quincunx: Charles Palliser (781)
2. Koko: Peter Straub (562)
3. Sophie's Choice (640)
4. A Prayer for Owen Meany (672)


Jeffrey Eugenides (529) completed 1.26.08

Lamb: The Gospel According the Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore (464) completed 2.8.08

White Oleander:
Janet Fitch (480) completed 2.24.08

The Silver Rose:
Susan Carroll (515) completed 3.5.08

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:
Betty Smith (489) competed 3.23.08

The Blind Assassin:
Margaret Atwood (521) completed 5.12.08

Well, so far I haven't read one book from my original list but I'm doing well on Chunksters!!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome 2008

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. ~~Buddha

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