Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Review: Magic Study


Author: Maria Snyder

Pages: 425

Genre: Fiction

Personal Rating 3.5/5

From the back cover:
Yelena is a survivor. Kidnapped as a child, held prisoner as a teen, then released to act as a poison taster, she is now a student of magic. But these magic skills place her in imminent danger, and with an execution order on her head, she has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.

But nothing in Sitia is familiar. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her powers, a rogue magician emerges--and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in a situation not of her making. And once again her magical abilities will either save her life...or be her downfall.
Magic, romance, adventure, empowered women, mystery, suspense...there is a little of everything I enjoy all wrapped up in one nice book. This is the second book out of three. The first book Poison Study I really liked as well and I will be reading the third book Fire Study Soon.

This book is a nice quick read. It is interesting enough to keep you interested and not heavy at all. I had been reading some "heavier" book lately and needed a break.

Yelena has been forced to leave the North since there is an execution order on her head. She is taken south to Sitia, her homeland where was was kidnapped as a child. Here she will meet her family and learn to control her magic. Of course it does not go easily or smoothly.

Her brother hates her, thinks she is a spy and turns her over to Cahil, a supposed remaining heir to the North who wants the support of the south in mounting an army to take back what is his. Yelena is taken to the Citadel where it is determined she is not a spy and she will be allowed to be taught how to control her magic. Yelena is stubbon, does not trust anyone and doens't follow rules. She is a difficult pupil and always seems to be getting into trouble.

As the story unfolds it is determined that there is a magician loose who is stealing souls to make himself as powerful as possible. He has developed a group of followers as well. Yelena seems to the only one capable of stopping him but it means not following rules, trusing people and risking being kicked out of the Citadel and never learning to master her magic. It also means risking her soul to this magician which would make him the most powerful magician EVER and leave both the North and South lands in great danger.

You'll enjoy this story if you're looking for a interesting, fast read and like magic and romance. Though is isn't icky flowery romance (that stuff I can't stand).

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to link to your review please let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Awards Reading Challenge II


BOOK AWARD READING CHALLENGE II

Rules:
  1. Read 10 award winners from August 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009.
  2. You must have at least FIVE different awards in your ten titles.
  3. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.

Here are some award winners I have sitting on my shelf now. I'll narrow it down soon. I wanted to sign up before I forgot.

  • Koko by Peter Straub
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  • Plague’s Progress by Arno Karlen
  • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lamb
  • Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Throat by Peter Straub
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Monday, May 26, 2008

Book Review: I, Mona Lisa


Author: Jeanne Kalogridis

Pages: 515

Genre: Fiction/Historical

Personal Rating 4/5

From the back cover:
"My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, though to acquaintance, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa. My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born."

Florence, April 1478: The handsome Giuliano de' Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence's magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa.

More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths. Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano's nephew and namesake. But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life.

Set against the drama of 15th Century Florence, I, Mona Lisa is painted in many layers of fact and fiction, with each intricately drawn twist told through the captivating voice of Mona Lisa herself.
What I enjoyed about this story is how Kalogridis is able to blend common figures from history (daVinci for example), common works of art and architecture and weave them into a story. This is probably why I enjoy historical fiction overall. Kalogridis has taken the figure the painting the Mona Lisa and has created a story around her. It was fantastic. I was able to imagine living in that time period and wearing the clothes, venturing out to the market or fearing the plague. It was a little long and wandered at times or it would have earned a higher rating.

If you enjoy historical fiction you will enjoy this story. If you enjoy "mysteries" you'll enjoy this one as well.

This review will be continued but I'm out of town and giving this book to my grandmother so I wanted to get a little something down before I handed it over.

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to link to your review please let me know in the comments!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Books Vs. Movies (BTT)

Suggested by: Superfastreader:

Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

The first word that came to my mind was escape. I often find myself escaping in books. I don't find that to be true with movies. They are both entertaining but there is just something about a book that I can escape with. I guess with a book you run your own show, you can stop and start when you want, think over things, go back and reread. With a movie, it is meant to be watched in one sitting. No going back, stopping and thinking. You're forced to experience it as it was set forth by the producer/director etc. With a book you have more room to move in your mind. Your imagination can run wild.

I'm curious to hear what others have to say.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

WRAP UP: Book Awards Reading Challenge

I actually finished up with a little time to spare so hopefully I'll be able to add a few extras to the list. Unfortunately, I did not consider keeping my original list completely intact so some of my first intentions have disappeared. Others have not!

Booker Prize
1. 1997 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 4.2.08 REVIEW
2. 2000 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 5.12.08 REVIEW

Gold Dagger Award
3. 1993 Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell 3.16.08 REVIEW

National Book Award
1990 Sophie's Choice by William Styron
4. 2003 Three Junes by Julia Glass 8.5.07
5. 2006 The Echo Maker by Richard Powers 11. 26.07 REVIEW

Pulitzer Prize
6. 2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 1.26.08 REVIEW

PEN/Faulkner Award
7. 2002 Bel Canto by Patchett 4.30.08 REVIEW

PEN/Hemingway
1988 The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Newbery Award
8. 1994 The Giver by Lois Lowry completed REVIEW

Bram Stoker Award
9. 1992 The Blood of the Lamb by Thomas F. Monteleone 2.2.08 REVIEW

World Fantasy Award
1989 Koko by Peter Straub

British Children's Book of the Year
10. 2007 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boyne) 3.20.08 REVIEW

  • 3 Irish Book Awards: the Novel of the Year, the People's Choice Book of the Year, and the Children's Book of the Year. It won 2 awards
Nebula Award
11. 1966 Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes) 3.8.08 REVIEW

Panorama Literario Award: Chile
12. 1983 The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende) 4.26.08 REVIEW
  • Best Novel of the Year, Chile 1983
Alternates on my Bookshelf(those that I have picked for other challanges--i colored reddish)

  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

  • Plague’s Progress by Arno Karlen

  • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman

  • Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lamb

  • Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

  • Holes by Louis Sachar

  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

  • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt

  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  • The Throat by Peter Straub

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

  • The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  • There were three books I originally set out to read and did not. There was Sophie's Choice, which I will still be reading for The Decades Challenge. Koko is the second. I'm still interested in reading it. It is VERY long but still looks very good. I went to pick up the Book of Ruth the other night and after reading the back and some reviews I decided i would rather stick sharp objects in my eyes than read this book. It sounds so depressing and miserable. I have no idea what motivated me to add it to my list the fist time. Probably the fact the I owned it.

    My Favorite Books from this Challenge? This is tough there were some really good one. I would have to pick

    • Bel Canto
    • The Giver

    With the Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Flowers for Algernon coming in close behind.

    Those I didn't like so much from this Challenge?

    • House of the Spirits--I hated it.

    I was also disappointed in Middlesex but not nearly the way I hated House of the Spirits.

    BOOK AWARDS READING CHALLENGE

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    The Classics Challenge


    I've finally grown some balls and decided to join The 2008 Classics Challenge It is being hosted by Trish from Trish's Reading Nook. She writes...

    Welcome to the Classics Challenge 2008

    Classics: We love them, we hate them, now we are going to challenge ourselves to reading more of them. Because there are so many different types of classics, different genres are acceptable and encouraged--for example, novels, short story collections, non-fiction, poetry, essays--I'm open for other suggestions!RULES (keep reading for the bonus):
    • OPTION 1: Read FIVE classics.
    • OPTION 2: Read FIVE classics from at least THREE different countries
    • OPTION 3: Read FIVE classics with any combination of at least THREE different countries and TWO different genres (see above for genres).
    • Cross-posting with other challenges is allowed (and encouraged!); Audiobooks are fine; books must be finished after July 1st to count for the challenge although re-reads are acceptable.
    • Lists don't have to be set in stone; you can change your selections at any time.
    • Have Fun. Oh ya...there will be a drawing for a prize or two. To be entered you must complete any one of the above options. You do NOT need a blog to participate.

    Am I going to define what a classic is? Nope! There are lots of definitions offered on the Internet, but essentially we all have different opinions so don't stress too much--and see the bonus below.

    BONUS!!

    As you can see, I'm requiring FIVE classics for six months. For the sixth book, I would like the participants to offer suggestions for books that may not be considered classics but that you think should be or books that you think will be a classic one day. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I'll compile a list of the suggestions and you choose a book from the list and make that your sixth read. I realize this means you may have to wait to make your list if you choose to participate in the bonus round, but I'm hoping this is a modern twist on the old classics challenge.

    For example, I am going to suggest The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro.

    SIGN UPS...COMING SOON

    Alright, let's do it this way... At the beginning of June I will put up the official Mr. Linky. By then, hopefully there will be a decent sized "should be/will be" classics list for participants to choose their sixth book. I hope I hope I hope at the beginning of June there aren't just the suggestions of The Handmaid's Tale and Remains of the Day. Won't I feel silly? ;) If you don't want to do the bonus (shame on you!!), please check back at the beginning of June to officially join. Feel free to leave a comment below, though, if you are interested!

    Thanks to everyone for your interest! I've been an avid challenge participant for almost a year and I'm thrilled to finally have the guts to host my own. Thank you to everyone who has given me support and suggestions along the way!

    Finally: Happy Reading!
    I saw I site that divided the classics into three groups and I've decided to use the same idea to make it a little easier for me to conquer my fear of some of the classics. It seems so much easier to manage now. Of course I'll try to use cross over with other challenges when possible.

    Classic Literature For Adults
    • The Awakening (Kate Chopin)
    • Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bradbury)
    • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
    Classic Literature For Young Teens
    • The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Emma Orczy)
    Classic Literature For Children
    • The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

    This is just my start for now. I need to read your posts and get some recommendations. I also need to think about my recommendation for the sixth book.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Sunday Salon # 6


    This has been a much more productive reading week for me. I finished The Blind Assassin and Uglies AND wrote reviews for both of them! I also finished listening to the Marvelous Land of Oz. I also started two new books and I'm decently through both of them.

    I still need to write my review for Bel Canto and both Oz books.

    Blind Assassin Review
    Uglies Review

    CURRENTLY READING:

    Magic Study: Maria Snyder. On page 236/416. This books is # 2 in the series. I loved #1 Poison Study (here is my review). The only problem is once I get finished this one I know I'm going to want to jump right into book #3 and ignore all of my beautiful lists and challenges and school work, chores and obligations! Magic, romance, adventure, empowered women, mystery, suspense...there is a little of everything I enjoy all wrapped up in one nice book.

    Parasite Rex: Carl Zimmer. On page 41/245 (but I did read the prologue and it is an additional 14 pages). I said to my hubby "you know you're married to a geek, I'm about to start a book about parasites and I'm so excited about it" his response... "uh huh" and the typical husband look when I'm being geeky...like when I stopped on the Great Wall of China to crawl around taking pictures of frogs. What can I say, I'm a biology teacher and I find parasites fascinating. Zimmer is a fantastic writer, I guess a "scientific journalist." When he writes you don't even realize he is talking science. Now I am biased about this stuff but I think must people would find this fascinating in a gross, disgusting type of way.

    CURRENTLY LISTENING TO:

    The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

    The Innocence of Father Brown (1911) is the first of five collections of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton. Each collection is then broken down into many short and I think independent stories. Even though I've been listening to it for days I'm only on story # 2. I keep falling asleep. Whoever is narrating it has such a soothing voice and I do listen to it at night. I may need to abandon this book. It is not for lack of interest. The stories are very long and I keep falling asleep. I need something broken into smaller chapters so I can keep track of where I am.

    Here is the link to my intro post if you want to check it out.

    WHAT I BOUGHT THIS WEEK (what showed up from PaperBack Swap)
    • The Exiled: Posie Graeme-Evans
    CHALLENGE UPDATE:

    The Blind Assassin gave me a check mark for

    • "A" author for A - Z Reading Challenge
    • Book Around the World Challenge
    • Book Awards Reading Challenge
    • Orbis Terrarum
    • Spring Reading Thing 2008
    Uglies gave me a check for
    • "W" author for A - Z Reading Challenge
    • Spring Reading Thing 2008
    • Young Adult Reading challenge

    I completed the Book Awards Reading Challenge 12/12. I'll be posting a wrap up soon.

    I joined the 1% Well Read Challenge and I'm continuing the Series Challenge with Season 2!

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    Book Review: Uglies


    Author: Scott Westerfeld

    Pages: 425

    Genre: Fiction/ YA

    Personal Rating 4.5/5

    From the back cover:
    "Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?"

    Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

    But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

    I was pleasantly surprised by how good this book really was. The back of the book summary only covers the first quarter of the book. The majority of the book deals with the decision that Tally makes and the consequences that follow. In many ways it reminds me of Lois Lowry. If you enjoy her books you'll like Uglies.

    Tally lives in a "future civilization" because ours has somehow messed up (of course). Our generation is referred to as "Rusties" for how much metal we used. They have advanced technology, and have learned from us . They don't make the same mistakes we do. The don't cut down trees and burn up fossil fuels. There is no war. Since everyone eventually gets to be pretty there is no more racism, jealousy, anger, hate etc. but we learn that it does come at a cost, thought very few know it.

    From reading the back cover it appears that this story is going to be superficial. An ugly girl whining that she doesn't get to be pretty. It is so much more. People choosing freedom of their minds over the apparent freedom that beauty offers. I realize that my review is somewhat lacking in details but I don't want to spoil the outcome of the story for people who want to read it.

    This is the first of three in the series. I think I just read there may be a fourth. I need to go out and buy Pretties, the second in the series right now. I really can't wait to read it. If you do not want to read the entire series I would not pick up Uglies because you will want to keep going!

    If you have reviewed this book and would like me to link to your review please let me know in the comments
    !


    Also Reviewed By:
    Bloggin' 'bout Books

    Friday Fill in

    1. There is absolutely NO way you can get me to to go anywhere near a needle unless I am in some type of drug induced haze!

    2. The fact that there are only 19 days until i have no students reminds me that summer is almost here!

    3. I cannot live without my my husband or chapstick (it was a tie).

    4. Learning a foreign langueage and do some type of relief work in Africa are two things I'd like to try.

    5. When life hands you lemons use them to fill a vase, or wash your hands with them or anything but that saying. I've never liked it.

    6. Winning the high school softball championship and finishing second in the state is my favorite childhood memory. (Is that too old???)

    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to running around like an idioit (don't we all have nights like those), tomorrow my plans include a garage sale and another baby shower and Sunday, I want to watch the Pens finish the Flyers!!!!

    Click here to see more Friday Fill Ins!

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Manual Labor Redux (BTT)

    Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….

    Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?

    Do you ever read manuals?

    How-to books?

    Self-help guides?

    Anything at all?
    I'll admit it...I read the manual. I've just seen my sister and husband break too many things or goof them up by simply not reading the directions. Its so simple. It tells you how to do it. You just start at the beginning and go step by step. That is why they are included. It just seems easier to follow them to then to guess at how to do it or do it wrong.

    Have any of you ever put together furniture from IKEA? Now THAT is an adventure!!!!! Those little funny Swedish (I think) cartoon people and no words! That is the best.

    How-to books & Self-help guides? I think we have probably all purchased a few with good intentions, myself included. I've never really seemed to get into them though and they sit on my shelf and then end up getting posted on paperbackswap. Boy do I envy the person who said her problems were simple enough that peanut M&M's could solve them. I wish my problems were so simple that M&Ms could solve them! Maybe I'm not buying the right books. lol ; )

    I'm not sure why but lately I've found it annoying when companys don't include their manuals and tell you to "go online" to download it. I know it saves paper and storage space but it really is a hassle for me. It seems more difficult than actually having it in your hand for some reason. I think I have a harder time finding the actual sections that I want. They almost seem to be organized differently than the paper manuals.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    1% Well Read Challenge


    Michelle from 1 More Chapter is hosting the 1% Well-Read Challenge

    The goal of this challenge is to read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. For you non-math people, 10 out of 1001 is approximately 1%, hence the title. The challenge will run from May 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009. You may change your list at any time and cross-posting to other challenges is permitted. The only requirement is that your ten book choices must be on the 1001 List.
    Here is my list:
    1. The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood (completed 5.12.08)

    2. Like Water for Chocolate: Laura Esquivel

    3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime: Mark Haddon

    4. The Things They Carried: Tim O'Brien

    5. Veronika Decides to Die: Paulo Coelho

    6. The Awakening: Kate Chopin

    7. The Wasp Factory: Iain Banks

    8. Sula:Toni Morrison

    9. ?

    10. ?

    LibraryThings “most often marked unread” books meme

    What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read, I'm going to italicize the ones I have sitting around waiting to be read.
    Somehow I'm one book short! Oh well, I found this at Tammy's Book Nook and decided to play.
    1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    2. Anna Karenina
    3. Crime and Punishment
    4. Catch-22
    5. One Hundred Years of Solitude
    6. Wuthering Heights
    7. The Silmarillion
    8. Life of Pi : a novel
    9. The Name of the Rose
    10. Don Quixote
    11. Moby Dick
    12. Ulysses
    13. Madame Bovary
    14. The Odyssey
    15. Pride and Prejudice
    16. Jane Eyre
    17. The Tale of Two Cities
    18. The Brothers Karamazov
    19. Guns, Germs, and Steel
    20. War and Peace
    21. Vanity Fair
    22. The Time Traveler’s Wife
    23. The Iliad
    24. Emma
    25. The Blind Assassin
    26. The Kite Runner
    27. Mrs. Dalloway
    28. Great Expectations
    29. American Gods
    30. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
    31. Atlas Shrugged
    32. Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
    33. Memoirs of a Geisha
    34. Middlesex
    35. Quicksilver
    36. Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
    37. The Canterbury Tales
    38. The Historian : a novel
    39. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    40. Love in the Time of Cholera
    41. Brave New World
    42. The Fountainhead
    43. Foucault’s Pendulum
    44. Middlemarch
    45. Frankenstein
    46. The Count of Monte Cristo
    47. Dracula
    48. A Clockwork Orange
    49. Anansi Boys
    50. The Once and Future King
    51. The Grapes of Wrath
    52. The Poisonwood Bible
    53. 1984
    54. Angels & Demons
    55. Inferno
    56. The Satanic Verses
    57. Sense and Sensibility
    58. The Picture of Dorian Gray
    59. Mansfield Park
    60. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    61. To the Lighthouse
    62. Tess of the D’Urbervilles
    63. Oliver Twist
    64. Gulliver’s Travels
    65. Les Misérables
    66. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
    67. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    68. Dune
    69. The Prince
    70. The Sound and the Fury
    71. Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
    72. The God of Small Things
    73. A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
    74. Cryptonomicon
    75. Neverwhere
    76. A Confederacy of Dunces
    77. A Short History of Nearly Everything
    78. Dubliners
    79. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    80. Beloved
    81. Slaughterhouse-five
    82. The Scarlet Letter
    83. Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    84. The Mists of Avalon
    85. Oryx and Crake
    86. Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
    87. Cloud Atlas
    88. The Confusion
    89. Lolita
    90. Persuasion
    91. Northanger Abbey
    92. The Catcher in the Rye
    93. On the Road
    94. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    95. Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
    96. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
    97. The Aeneid
    98. Watership Down
    99. Gravity’s Rainbow
    100. The Hobbit
    101. In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
    102. White Teeth
    103. Treasure Island
    104. David Copperfield
    105. The Three Musketeers

    Weekly Geeks # 3

    This weeks challenge is to write about our favorite childhood books.

    I wish I had a better memory. I don't remember any specific books from when I was very little. I can remember a book with a train on the cover. I do remember I had a very tiny rocking chair with a little blue chair cover on it. I would love to grab books and sit in it to read, even though I couldn't really read yet. To me I thought I looked so grown up. I must have been 4 or 5 at this point.

    My dad is a huge reader and my mom doesn't touch books. I take after my dad. So I started carrying books with my into the bathroom when I was a little kid to be like my dad (he would kill me if he knew I wrote that)

    I can remember reading
    • Charlotte's Web
    • The Bridge to Teribithia
    • A Light in the Attic
    • The Secret Garden
    • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
    • Island of the Blue Dolphin
    • Little Women

    over and over again. This was probably 3rd or 4th grade ish? I can also remember reading every Judy Blume and Beverely Cleary book too. I can remember in school this little booklet would come and you could pick books out of it to order. What was that called?

    I remember in 5th grade I read my first Stephen King book and I steadily read all of his book through high school and continue to read them now. That also started my fascination with horror and murder mystery/thrillers. I would wander the library and randomly pick books from that section to take home and read. I wonder what my parents would have thought about me reading that stuff in sixth grade? I also recall (how horrifying) LOVING the Sweet Valley High Series. Those two blonde twins, Jessica and Elizabeth. What wonderful lives they lived! So different from mine. I was also fascinating by the Flowers in the Attic series.

    I'm going to need to think a little more about me early childhood and see what else comes to me. I'll cruise some other posts and see if my memory gets jogged. This was a fun post to write!

    My Next Choice For An Audio Book

    The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

    The Innocence of Father Brown (1911) is the first of five collections of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Roman Catholic priest. Father Brown’s ability to uncover the truth behind the mystery continually surpasses that of the “experts” around him, who are fooled into underestimation by the priest’s unimpressive outward appearance and, often, by their own prejudices about Christianity. Combining captivating stories and insightful commentary, The Innocence of Father Brown is a delightful read. (Summary by Brian Roberg)

    The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
    1. The Blue Cross (The Storyteller, September 1910)
    2. The Secret Garden (The Storyteller, October 1910)
    3. The Queer Feet (The Storyteller, November 1910)
    4. The Flying Stars
    5. The Invisible Man
    6. The Honour of Israel Gow
    7. The Wrong Shape
    8. The Sins of Prince Saradine
    9. The Hammer of God
    10. The Eye of Apollo
    11. The Sign of the Broken Sword
    12. The Three Tools of Death

    Series Challenge Season 2

    Kathrin is hosting the 2nd Season of the Series Challenge. I was counting on this! When I signed up for Season 1 she said she would probably have an extension. I knew I would never read all 6 of my Orson Scott Card books in the allotted time period. I just had too many other challenges going on. So I jumped in, crossed my fingers and hoped she would extend the challenge so I could finish on time!


    Here is officially the 2nd Season!!!

    Again, the challenge will be for 6 months, from June 1st, 2008 until November 30th, 2008.

    And the rules are:

    1. There is no set number of books you have to read, you just have to read the books so that you are all up-to-date with the series.

    2. Post your review of the books on your blog, no matter how long.

    3. Post a link to your reviews with the Mr Linky that I will set up as soon as this challenge starts.

    4. Always remember this is for fun!
    Here are the books I'm reading (they cross over with the Cardathon Challenge)

    TALES OF THE ALVIN MAKER--Orson Scott Card

    1. Seventh Son (Alvin Maker) completed 1.11.08
    2. Red Prophet completed 3.11.08
    3. Prentice Alvin completed 4.12.08
    4. Alvin Journeyman
    5. Heartfire
    6. The Crystal City

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Book Review: The Blind Assassin



    Author: Margaret Atwood

    Pages: 521

    Genre: Fiction

    Personal Rating 4/5

    Awards: Booker Prize

    From the back cover:


    The Booker Prize -winning sensation from the incomparable Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin combines gothic drama, romantic suspense and science fiction yarn in an entrancing novel of uncommon intricacy and grace.

    The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist

    What makes this novel Margaret Atwood's strongest and most profoundly entertaining is the way in which the three wonderfully rich stories weave together, gradually revealing through their interplay the secrets surrounding the entire Chase family--and most particularly the fascinating and tangled lives of the two sisters. The Blind Assassin is a brilliant and enthralling book by a writer at the top of her form.
    I think to truly appreciate this book it needs to be read more than once. However, I enjoyed it immensely. The reason I say it needs to be read more than once is that the Blind Assassin involves three different stories, that all interweave. The novel jumps back in forth in time from the main characters present to the past. It is written in a very clever fashion. It kept me guessing right up until the very end what had actually happened. I kept thinking I had figured it out, but then I would get a tidbit of information that would make me change me mind. I think Atwood did a fantastic job with the writing.

    Knowing now what actually happens I think I would pick up a lot of new information with a reread that I missed the first time through. We all know that there are a lot of books to read out there so I won't be rereading The Blind Assassin just to see what I missed.

    It was a little difficult to keep track sometimes of who was actually narrating the story. I wondered sometimes though if that was Atwood's intent. If it was supposed to be confusing and unclear...I'm not sure.

    Even though everyone might not like this story I think most people will appreciate that The Blind Assassin is well written. How the three separate, and sometimes confusing, stories end up coming together was impressive and satisfying. The only reason I didn't rate it higher is that I don't want to have to reread novels to "fully understand them" and I think it started slowly.

    Do I recommend picking it up? Definitely!

    ALSO REVIEWED BY:
    Rhinoa at Rhinoa's Ramblings
    Tammy at Tammy's Book Nook


    If you have reviewed this book and would like me to link to your review please let me know in the comments
    !

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Sunday Salon # 5


    Funny how sometimes this thing called life gets in your way and keeps you from reading as much as you would like too. As much as I am enjoying my current book and my audiobook I just haven't been able to give them as much time as I would like. I hope to finish The Blind Assassin tonight or tomorrow. I'm almost finished with my audio book as well.

    I managed to cross off one of my three reviews. It was the negative review for The House of the Spirits. You can read it here if you would like.

    I did spend some time working/lurking on Weekly Geeks this weeks even though I didn't really post a lot about it. The challenge was to link to anyone who has written a review for a book that you have reviewed as well. I went off hunting and considering how many books get read around here I found very few people and I shared books we had reviewed. I think only one person has contacted me about linking up. It felt like a wild goose chase with very little reward. Hopefully people will read the little note I'm putting on the bottom of all future reviews and will contact me if they have reviewed the book.

    Hopefully I can get a little more reading done in the upcoming week.

    CURRENTLY READING:

    The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood. Still. I'm really enjoying it, I just don't seem to have time to sit down and read. I'm on page 355 of 521. I should cut myself some slack. It is a pretty long book. The plot has thickened so to speak and I'm more interested in the characters and what is going on. I'm trying to "guess" to see if I've figured it out, but then I get a piece of info here and there that makes me change my mind. To me this guessing makes a good story.

    CURRENTLY LISTENING TO:

    The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum. This is a continuation of the Oz series that features the Scarecrow and the Tinman. I had not read the book so this is my first go around with this story. I feel like a kid listening to this story. I have it on my iPod and often catch myself just sitting and grinning as I'm listening to it. Good thing I only listen to it when I'm alone. I probably look very silly.

    WHAT I BOUGHT THIS WEEK (what showed up from PaperBack Swap)
    • mr. muos' traveling couch by Dai Sigie
    • Sushi for One? by Camy Tang
    • The Reincarnationsit by M. J. Rose
    CHALLENGE UPDATE: no books finished = nothing to update.

    WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
    • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
    • Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
    • Uglies by Scott Westerfield
    • or none and pull something not on my challenge list that just showed up in the mail or I bought randomly the last few times I was in the store

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Weekly Geeks # 2

    I'm a little late getting around to the challenge this week but that is OK. This weeks idea is borrowed from Darla at Books and Other Thoughts

    I'm going to offer to link to any book reviews that you and I have both reviewed! Just leave the link in the comment of that post and I'll add it to the post.

    So check out my side bar for books I've finished this year. I have them crossed out under my challenges. I've reveiwed most of them. Have you reviewed any of them???? you can email me pandabear 102205 at gmail dot com and I'll link them for you! I've been working on another blog called Running Book List where it lists all my books with my reviews but it is far from complete. (yet)

    Dewey wrote that she liked this idea for three reasons (and I agree)

    1. As a blog reader, I like that I can have my review linked in someone else’s blog.

    2. As a blog reader, I like that if I’m interested in a book Darla writes about, there will be other reviews linked at the bottom of the page, so I can get other viewpoints.

    3. As a blog writer, when I review a book, I often remember that I read someone else’s review at some point, but whose? And when? With Darla’s method, people tell her about their reviews, and she can see what they had to say about a book that is still fresh in her mind.

    So feel free to commment in any of my old reviews and in any of my future ones and I'll add the link to your review!



    Friday Fill in

    1. The sandwiches at Chic Filet had an extra secret ingredient; it was some type of drug I'm sure....they are SO good.!

    2. You can see right through my window. (because we still haven't hung curtains since we moved in September)

    3. Right now, I need to take a shower.

    4. Babies R Us is where I went Thursday night; it was scary...seriously, have your every really "looked" around there?

    5. Why does betrayal hurt so much?

    6. All I can think of is the way a massage would feel right now.

    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching the Pens and Flyers game, tomorrow my plans include a baby shower and Sunday, I want to spend time with my husband!


    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Manual Labor (BTT)

    Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?

    Nope. Should I? Probably. I actually do NOT enjoy writing. It never came very easily for me. I tend to avoid things I am not naturally good at. My blog is actually somewhat of a personal challenge for me to just write. The only way to get better at something is to practice. I get intimidated a lot reading some of your posts. Those of you who are GOOD writers make me feel like I'm in fifth grade blundering around trying to write. I get my point across though, and for me that is OK most of the time.

    I still have a grammar book from my high school AP English class. Geez, that thing is 15 years old! Do those rules still apply??

    I enjoy writing in my blog even if everything is not perfect. I do try to get everything "right" as often as I can.

    Book Review: The House of the Spirits


    Author: Isabel Allende

    Pages: 433

    Genre: Fiction

    Personal Rating 1/5

    Awards: Panorama Literario Award: Chile (1983), Best Novel of the Year: Chile (1983)

    From the back cover:

    Here, in an astonishing debut by a gifted storyteller, is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

    Esteban -- The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.

    Clara -- The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.

    Blanca -- Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father's foreman fuels Esteban's everlasting contempt... even as it produces the grandchild he adores.

    Alba -- The fruit of Blanca's forbidden love, a luminous beauty, a fiery and willful woman... the family's break with the past and link to the future.

    I hate to write bad reviews but sometimes it must be done. This book was awful. I hated it. What was so horrible about it? I'm not sure. It is difficult to put my finger on it. I know it was easy to just put the book down and forget about it. I didn't care about anyone in the story. I preferred to do household chores than read (now THAT should tell you something). I took me weeks to finish this book. I finished it through sheer will power and determination. It covered 8 challenges for me so there was no way I was going back once I started. I also figured since it had won a few awards it must be decent. This is horrible to say but one of the challenges i read this book for was the Banned Book Challenge...the only thing this book should be banned for is being boring.

    It should have been a good story. It went on long enough. It "spanned" generations. So many different story lines evolved, started, stopped. There was love, death, murder, kidnapping, mutilation, war, riots, revolt, marriage, a head in a box, a car crash, magic, green hair...there was so much. This family was an absolute train wreck. It should have been interesting in the "I can't look away car crash type of way". But it wasn't. It was boring. It was difficult to keep track of who was who (that could have been from me putting the book down for days at a time).

    Save your time. If you want to try Allende try something besides The House of the Spirits

    If you have reviewed this book and would like me to link to your review please let me know in the comments
    !

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Want to Win Some Books?


    Lori at Lori's Reading Corner is giving away 5 brand new books! I'm not sure if you get all 5 or if five different people each get one. But, hey...they are free!!!! It is call the Pay It Forward Book Exchange.

    Here are the books up for grabs:

    Back on Blossom Street (The Knitting Books #3) by Debbie Macomber
    Belong to Me: A Novel by Marisa De los Santos
    What Looks Like Crazy by Charlotte Hughes
    Dying Breath by Wendy Corsi Staub
    The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner

    If you'd like to win these books, here is what you must do:

    1. On your blog, write a post about this giveaway, using my "Pay it Foward" button, and then link back to my post. I am sure your readers would appreciate learning about the chance to win a book. You must complete this step to be put in the drawing, unless of course you don't have a blog ;)

    2. Sign the Mr Linky (the Mr Linky is that list of name at the end of this post - just type your name in the box) with your name and specific URL of your Pay it Foward post. Note, if you are not a blogger, you may still enter to win. Just sign your name on the Mr. Linky without a URL and then email me (lori @ frandanbolt dot com) your contact information. Please note on your email that it is for the Pay It Forward Book Giveaway.

    3. If you’re the lucky winner of the book giveaway and you have your own blog I ask that you, in turn, host a drawing to give that book away for free to one of your readers, after you’ve had a chance to read it (let’s say, within a month after you’ve received the book). If you mail the book out using the media/book rate that the post office offers it’s pretty inexpensive. If you're a non-blogger who has won the book, please consider donating the book to your local library or shelter after you're done with it.

    4. If you’re really motivated and want to host your own “Pay It Forward” giveaway at any time this month, feel free to grab the button above to use on your own blog. Just let me know so I can publish a post on my blog plugging your giveaway and directing my readers your way!

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    Book Binge

    book binge

    Hooray...a new challenge: Book Binge. It is being host by Mary at It's Not All Mary Poppins.

    Some of you have asked about last year’s Book Binge, and wondered if I were hosting it again. And I said to myself, “What a great idea! I think I shall host a Book Binge again!”

    Here’s how it goes: For the month of May, participants keep track of each and every book you read. At the end of the month, everyone will blog their list of books. Simple, no?

    For simplicity’s sake, and to allow people time to hear about it and sign up if they want, we’ll start on Monday, May 5th. We will all publish our lists on June 1.

    Other rules:

    - You can include books you re-read, so long as you re-read them in between May 5 and 31.
    - You may also include books you start but don’t finish, just note the page at which you gave it up. Something like, “Quit, page 47 of 322″.
    - You may only include books you read aloud to your children if they are at least 125 pages long.
    - Students may include textbooks (if they’re at least 100 pages long).

    Sunday Salon # 4


    This was a fairly uneventful reading week. I did finish Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. What an awesome book. When I review it, it will be getting a 5/5. I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this book. It was one of those that you found yourself thinking about at various times during the day. Wondering what would happen next instead of focusing on what you should be doing.

    I've been procrastinating on my reviews. I still need to write a review for The House of the Spirits. I don't like writing negative reviews so I've been putting this one off. I also "won't" write the review for Bel Canto until I'm done with the review for The House of the Spirits.

    CURRENTLY READING:

    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. This is only my second Atwood book. I've also read The Handmaid's Tale, which I really enjoyed. So far I'm only 63 pages into The Blind Assassin and I'm not sure what to think. The back cover said there are several stories in one. It is also over 500 pages so it may take a little while to get going

    CURRENTLY LISTENING TO:

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I'm still enjoying it as much as last week. I'm currently at the point where the wizard accidentally flies away leaving Dorothy stranded in Oz. Here is a difference between the movie and the book. In the book Dorothy head South to find Glinda to see if she can tell her how to get to Kansas.

    WHAT I BOUGHT THIS WEEK

    Nothing!!! And nothing showed up from PaperbackSwap either.

    CHALLENGE UPDATE: by finishing Bel Canto I was able to add a "check off" to...

    • A ~ Z Reading Challenge (P Author)
    • Spring Reading Thing
    • Orbis Terrarum Challenge (South America)
    • Book Awards Reading Challenge (Orange Prize)
    • Book Around the World

    Personal Update:

    To those of you following my never ending foot saga. My MRI revealed a SECOND "new" break on my foot that resulted from my fall at work one month after my original fall. : (

    I can't go back to teaching until May 22nd. IF I get the OK from the doctor that is. He better give the go ahead ! No wonder I was having so much pain at physical therapy and when I tried to return to teaching. I had a newly broken bone! Yikes...

    Camera Critters


    What can I say...this bear LOVED his garbage can! Pic taken Central Park Zoo, New York City (2005)


    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Weekly Geeks

    This week is Discover New Blogs Week!

    These were our instructions:


    1. Look through the list of blogs on the Mr Linky below and see if you can find five that are new to you. If you can’t, find as many new blogs as possible and then some you don’t read super regularly.

    2. Visit those new blogs. A comment would be nice; people like comments.

    3. When you’re ready, at some point by Friday if you want to be included in the blurbs next week, write a post in your blog featuring those new blogs you visited.

    4. Don’t forget to come back here and leave a link to your post, so that I can get it into the blurbs!

    Here are the blogs I visisted:

    BLOG # 1

    Mary at This Book Is For You. I picked her because she was right above me on the list and I had to start somewhere. I stayed because of her blog description "Dear Reader, life is too short for crap books." A good laugh is a good start. A lot of good stuff going on at her blog. She likes YA as much as I do!

    BLOG # 2

    Chartroose at Bloody Hell, It's a Book Barrage. This one got my attention by the spelling of Chartroose and then I was expecting that to be the title of the blog. I started laughing, again, when I saw "Bloody Hell". This may show my ignorance but Chartroose's blog introduced me to the Kindle and the controversy it is apparently causing. Looks pretty cool to me!

    BLOG # 3

    Mog at Mog's Book Blog. Mog's taste is books is very different than mine. I hope that when I go back and read some reviews I can get some motiviation and inspiration to pick up a books for the Nineteenth Century Women Writers Challenge. I had a nice visit.

    BLOG # 4

    John Mutford at The Book Mine Set. He's the host of The Canadian Book Challenge. I have a lot of exploring to do here!

    BLOG # 5

    Em at Em's Bookshelf. I picked her from the list because my cat is named Emmy. Silly...I know. Her blog is filled with nice reviews, mostly teen stuff.

    Friday Fill in

    1. Two of my favorite ingredients in a drink are ice & lemon!

    2. How much my animals love me often amazes me.

    3. You can keep doing that forever, the dog is on the look out for squirrels.

    4. Me, hubbby, a dog and two cats mix it all together and voila! You have our small family.

    5. If I had a yard with a garden, I would love to grow tomatoes and basil to make bruschetta. I will be growing those this year!

    6. The face is best au naturel.

    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to cleaning our bedroom and reading (with my foot--not so simple), tomorrow my plans include starting some simple gardening around our house and Sunday, I want to watch the Pens finish off the Rangers!

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Mayday! (BTT)

    Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

    And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….
    I'm going to assume that I find out that nothing is seriously wrong and now I can relax at the airport and kill time. If not, I would probably sit and worry. I am a worrier. But now, with a little freedom....

    Trash...I would buy trash. Some fashion magazine I would normally never buy myself and some junk food. Probably candy. I would act like I was 17 again and just browse through the magazine and eat junk. Then I would probably try to swap my magazine with someone else who is done with theirs.

    Then I would probably buy a paperback. Something mainstream I had been keeping my eye on but putting off for one reason or another. Something light. I would be excited because I love buying books, but then probably annoyed since I had to buy one.

    Did I have my iPod in my purse? It didn't say. But if I did I would probably listen to my audiobook and play solitaire as long as my battery lasted.

    Happy Thursday.

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