Cait86's 2009 Reading

Keskustelu75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Cait86's 2009 Reading

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Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2009, 2:55 pm

Links in this first message take you to the message in which I wrote my review.

Here are my tickers:

Books Read So Far this Year:
Black Dogs by Ian McEwan
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Maus I by Art Spiegelman
Persuasion by Jane Austen
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Time in Between by David Bergen
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Maus II by Art Spiegelman
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill
Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine
Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
A Perfect Gentle Knight by Kit Pearson
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
The Outcast by Sadie Jones
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

tammikuu 4, 2009, 3:29 pm


Muokkaaja: toukokuu 19, 2009, 2:56 pm

Book #1: Black Dogs by Ian McEwan

This is the third book that I have read by McEwan (after Atonement and On Chesil Beach), and I am totally head-over-heels in literary love with this man! His books are so artfully written, with phrases and sentences that leave the reader's head spinning. Black Dogs, while not quite the masterpiece that is Atonement, was an enjoyable read that tackles heavy issues. McEwan creates two characters, a husband and a wife, who believe their individual world visions to be directly in opposition. Bernard is a scientist, a realist, a rationalist; June is a mystic, a meditator, a person of religion. Their differences drove them apart at a young age, and now years later, their son-in-law Jeremy is trying to make sense of their turbulent marriage.

This is a beautiful novel - my only complaint is that it is too short!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:38 pm

Book #2: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

OK, confession time: I am a Harry Potter fanatic. I have read every one of the seven HP books at least 5 times. Please take that as a caveat to my review!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a wonderful companion book to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Not only does it contain The Tale of the Three Brothers, but it also has four other new stories straight from the marvelous mind of JKR. Accompanying the stories are explanation written by Albus Dumbledore that shed light on the Wizarding World and the values found in the tales, and an introduction by JKR. Each of the tales is magical, and the book is one that I know I will read many times. Plus, the proceeds go to charity, so along with buying a great little book, you are having a good impact on the world, no matter how small.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:38 pm

Book #3: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My year of reading started out with a bang - three great books right off the bat!

The Road was my first McCarthy novel, and he goes on my list of authors to read. This novel was everything a novel should be - emotionally moving, stunningly written, and engaging beyond belief. McCarthy writes in a very rough prose, largely ignoring punctuation. Dialogue is not set in quotation marks, and sentences are often fragments. This style mirrors the plot of the novel perfectly. Set in a post-apocolyptic world, The Road follows the travels of the man and the boy (they have no other names). The world is devoid of any form of society, and both food and people are scarce. In this barren landscape, it is no wonder that McCarthy's prose is also barren. The relationship between the man and the boy is heart-wrenching, and the struggles they undergo kept me mesmerized.

So far, this is my must-read for the year, and a novel that joins my ever-growing list of favourite texts!

tammikuu 4, 2009, 3:45 pm

Thanks for the welcome!

tammikuu 4, 2009, 4:37 pm

One of the last ones of 2008 on my list was No Country for Old Men. The style is similar to The Road, and perfectly suits the dry, dusty Texas it's set in. If you liked this one, you probably like it too. Warning, though, there's a bit of violence...

tammikuu 4, 2009, 4:41 pm

Thanks drneutron! I'll add No Country for Old Men to my list - have you read any others? All the Pretty Horses looks good, and I think that it is part of a trilogy.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 4, 2009, 4:50 pm

The trilogy's next on my McCarthy list, but I have a few other things to read first. I'm trying to stretch out the McCarthy so I enjoy it longer. 8^}

BTW, blackdogbooks and one or two others in the challenge are fans as well.

tammikuu 4, 2009, 6:36 pm

Hello and wlecome, Cait. I'm also a big McEwan fan (although I really didn't enjoy On Chesil Beach) and have somehow never read Black Dogs. It sounds like an absorbing read and one that's definitely going on my list (sigh).

tammikuu 4, 2009, 6:39 pm

Thanks FlossieT! Which McEwan novel is your favourite? They all sound interesting, so I am at a loss as to which to read next!

tammikuu 4, 2009, 6:45 pm

So as part of my 999 Challenge I have a category for Booker Prize winners. Right now I am reading The White Tiger, but other than that, I don't have any books planned for this category. Anyone have any recommendations? I've read The English Patient and Disgrace already. Thanks!

tammikuu 4, 2009, 7:08 pm

tammikuu 4, 2009, 7:25 pm

>11 Cait86:: Atonement is definitely my absolute favourite (so far), but I was also totally blown away by The Child in Time. I didn't like Amsterdam as much as kidzdoc - for me, that's one of those "books where a Booker-deserving author won the prize for a book that didn't really deserve it". I've read it twice - the second time because I picked it off my shelf thinking I hadn't read it, and only halfway through realising it was just because I found it totally unmemorable and had wiped it.

After Atonement and The Child in Time, I'd go for Enduring Love, then The Cement Garden (although the latter is quite unsettling in terms of subject matter - you need a strong stomach).

Re. your Booker winners category, I'd put in a plug for The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood, Staying On - Paul Scott, and Possession - A.S. Byatt (although I would recommend skim-reading a lot of the pastiche Victorian lit....) and would also heartily second kidzdoc's recommendation of Ishiguro' The Remains of the Day, which is as near perfect as any book could hope to get.

tammikuu 4, 2009, 7:28 pm

Thanks kidzdoc and FlossieT for those recs....I actually own The Blind Assassin and was thinking of using it for my CanLit category, but since I have about a million CanLit options, maybe I will move it into the Booker category. I've heard good things about The Life of Pi, so maybe I will try that one. I read Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro this summer and enjoyed it, so I will put The Remains of the Day on my list too! Thanks again :)

tammikuu 4, 2009, 7:36 pm

>15 Cait86:: our pleasure - one thing this group is never short of is recommendations ;)

tammikuu 4, 2009, 7:50 pm

On second thought, I completely agree with Flossie. I enjoyed The Cement Garden, Saturday, On Chesil Beach, and Black Dogs far better than Amsterdam.

tammikuu 5, 2009, 2:31 am

Chiming in on Ian McEwan, Saturday made my list of most memorable reads last year, and I also read The Child in Time in 2008. I highly recommend either of those! I read On Chesil Beach when it first came out, but I was not as taken with it as a lot of people seem to be, although it was still good.

tammikuu 5, 2009, 8:46 am

I agree that On Chesil Beach was not quite as good as the other two McEwan novels I have read. He is a masterful writer, so the prose was still beautiful, but the story was lacking a bit - and again, so short!

tammikuu 5, 2009, 9:15 am

On Atonement - just saw the movie for the first time last night and quite enjoyed it. Have heard opposing opinions - better than the book and worse than the book! Based on these glowing reviews I might have to give this author a chance in print and find out for myself.

tammikuu 5, 2009, 9:31 am

Petermc - Atonement is amazing - absolutely the best book I read in 2008! It is too bad that you saw the movie already, since the ending is one of the best parts of the book, IMHO, but I would still definitely read it.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:39 pm

Book #4: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

I bought this book solely because it won the Booker Prize this year - I don't really read enough contemporary literature (I just finished my English degree, so it was Classics overload for awhile!) and I really want to get into it, so I figured the Booker winner was a good place to start. Luckily, this book did not disappoint! I loved Adiga's narrator. He was bitingly satiric at times, ridiculously naive at others, and offered profound insights into his life in contemporary India. The story is told in a series of letters, but really the letters only serve to organize the stream-of-consciousness narrative into sections - it doesn't read like your typical epistolary novel. Overall, a wonderful fourth book for 2009!

tammikuu 5, 2009, 4:26 pm

This is the second time in a few days that I've read a post re. The White Tiger. Cariola read this recently and I added it to my tbr pile. I'll take two posts in a few days as a sign to read it soon.

Thanks for the review.

tammikuu 5, 2009, 7:40 pm

Hope you like The White Tiger, Whisper1!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:39 pm

Book #5: Maus, A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

This was the first volume of Maus, a 2-part graphic novel that details Spiegelman's parents' lives during WWII. This volume only details their lives up until they are sent to Auschwitz. I do not generally read graphic novels, but my best friend let me borrow it, and she has great taste in books, so I read it anyway! I ended up enjoying this book; the illustrations were interesting to follow, and the prose was mostly dialogue, so even though it was about 150 pages, it only took about an hour to read. I don't know if I will read other graphic novels, though I will definitely try to locate the second volume of Maus, because Holocaust literature is one of my favourite things - not really cheerful, but very important to read.

tammikuu 6, 2009, 3:50 am

#25: I agree with you about Holocaust literature, Cait, and I read a lot of history about that time period. I will look for Maus. thanks for the recommendation!

tammikuu 7, 2009, 8:45 am

My pleasure, AlcottAcre.

So, since you obviously love Alcott, which of her books would you suggest I read (besides Little Women of course!)?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 2009, 9:43 am


Well, I raided a friends library and, while he didn't have Atonement, I did came away with Black Dogs and The Child in Time, so thanks for adding to the TBR list ;)

As for the Holocaust, I look forward to seeing your selection. My TBR list this year includes some related material...

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - the first two parts of an unfinished work (of five parts) about German occupied France. Nemirovsky, a Jewish, Russian immigrant, and her husband, were deported to Auschwitz in 1942 where they were to both perish.

The Himmler Brothers: A German Family History by Katrin Himmler. As the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, the "head of the SS, Gestapo, and leading organizer of the Holocaust", this book is a personal journey as well as an effort to address the gap Katrin percieves "between official history and how history is told in (German) families".

Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction by Martin Gilbert. This book examines the infamous "Night of Broken Glass" through eye-witness accounts lending a very personal touch to the story.

Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 and The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 by Saul Friedlander - The titles are self-explanatory. These are two highly regarded works by one of the preeminent historians of the Holocaust.

tammikuu 7, 2009, 10:09 am

Petermc - oh man, all of those go on my TBR list - Suite Francaise was already there :)

For Holocaust memoirs, try Night and Survival in Auschwitz.

tammikuu 7, 2009, 1:12 pm

message #28.. Thanks for posting these interesting topical books. I'll check into them and add some to my list. They are all very interesting. Is there one your would recommend above the others?

tammikuu 7, 2009, 5:18 pm

Cait86 - I look forward to your thoughts and opinions. Thanks for the additional suggestions.

Whisper1 - These are all still TBR, but flicking through my copies, "Kristallnacht" and "The Himmler Brothers" look to be the quicker reads. But if you are up for the challenge, Friedlander's rather more hefty two volume work would be at the top of my list (with a slight nod towards the second volume covering 1939-1945).

Two more books that have recently captured my attention, but I'll wait until they hit my local library, are Searching for Schindler: A memoir by Thomas Keneally, and The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews by Patrick Desbois.

tammikuu 8, 2009, 3:32 am

#27 Cait: I am a sucker for all of Alcott's books, but I would follow up Little Women with the obvious choice Little Men. I would not bother with Jo's Boys unless you are going to read all of Alcott's work. I also really like Eight Cousins and its follow up Rose in Bloom as well as Jack and Jill and An Old Fashioned Girl.

If you prefer to read some of Alcott's recently discovered potboilers, I would suggest Behind a Mask. In Old Books, Rare Friends, Madeleine Stern and Leona Rosenberg talk about their discoveries of the 'thriller' side of Alcott's writings (if my memory is not failing me).

That should get you started!

tammikuu 8, 2009, 9:22 am

Thanks so much, AlcottAcre! In the week or so since I joined LT, I have garnered about a hundred new books to read - and these go on the list!

tammikuu 8, 2009, 10:51 am

Cool beans! I love being a book ennabler, lol.

tammikuu 8, 2009, 1:50 pm

I just picked up The Town Beyond the Wall by Elie Wiesel at Half Price Books the other day, an old hardback, with no description of contents. Has anyone read this?

tammikuu 8, 2009, 1:50 pm

I just picked up The Town Beyond the Wall by Elie Wiesel at Half Price Books the other day, an old hardback, with no description of contents. Has anyone read this?

tammikuu 8, 2009, 3:41 pm

Sorry, I cannot help with that one, aruba. Did you do a search here on LT to see if anyone has left a review?

tammikuu 8, 2009, 6:09 pm

I haven't read this either, but if you like it, let me know! The reviews on Amazon were both positive.

tammikuu 8, 2009, 9:56 pm

>25 Cait86:; Book # 5 Maus
I am on a WWII/Holocaust phase recently. I have been doing some searches for book lists and Maus keeps popping up. I was unsure of it's...I dk what I'm trying to say...authenticity. I have never read a graphic novel. For some reason, the book kept running through my mind. Thank you for the review, I will definitely give these books a chance.

My Holocaust theme started sometime early fall 2008 with Skeletons of the Feast by Chris Bohjalian, which referenced Suite Francaise. I liked Skeletons best, although I have only read the first 'suite' of Suite Francaise. I need to finish it; I took a break before the second 'suite' because it was depressing me....Then I read more Holocaust books! I never learn.

tammikuu 8, 2009, 10:21 pm

ProfilerSR - I get the hesitancy to read graphic novels - they aren't really for me either. However, Maus was really good, and quick to read. The illustrations add to the dialogue, and are really quite literary. The Jews are drawn as mice, the Polish as pigs, the Nazis are cats, and Americans are dogs - there has got to be about a million interpretations in there somewhere!

tammikuu 9, 2009, 5:37 pm

>40 Cait86:; You've intrigued me! I've still got a giftcard from Christmas, so this will make the list. Thanks!

tammikuu 9, 2009, 5:46 pm

Hi Cait86, thanks for the great review of The Road. I have added this to my TBR mountain. I have never read any from McCarthy so I am looking forward to this one.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:40 pm

Book #6: Persuasion by Jane Austen

This is the fourth Austen novel that I have read, and while Pride and Prejudice is my absolute favourite, Persuasion was really wonderful. I sympathized with the feelings of Anne Elliot, and understood her attraction to Captain Wentworth. As always, Austen's prose is stunning - no author can compose a phrase like that woman! Of course, one of the best parts of Austen's novels is her masterful creation of horrific characters. Anne's father and sisters are so laughably vain, and stand in direct opposition to the humble Anne.

tammikuu 9, 2009, 7:54 pm

#42 Dianestm - I hope you like The Road - I can't wait to read more McCarthy!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:40 pm

Book #7: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I read The Kite Runner in November, and enjoyed it, so I thought I would give this one a go too. While The Kite Runner is a male-centric novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns focuses on two Afghani women. Hosseini is not the most literary writer - his books are a little long and could use some editing - he does tell a very good story. This book was heart-wrenching in parts, and explains a lot of the past thirty years of Afghanistan's history, especially the plight of women. A Thousand Splendid Suns was a quick, engrossing read, and a good "easy" book to read between heavier classics.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 11, 2009, 2:28 am

#45: I also enjoyed The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns has been on Continent TBR for a while now, so I guess I ought to read it. I think I will be going on an Afghanistan kick for a while since I have Kabul in Winter, The Bookseller of Kabul and The Sewing Circles of Herat all on order and due to come in shortly.

Edited to try and fix Touchstone.

tammikuu 11, 2009, 11:04 pm

Cait86 re: Maus series

I was lucky enough to find both volumes in my public library. I read them both today. I really, really liked them. Your review of Maus I was spot on! They are great books.

tammikuu 13, 2009, 4:15 pm

>46 alcottacre:: will definitely join you on that one, Stasia - with some light relief between books!!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:41 pm

Book #8: Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

I read this on a recommendation from my best friend, who studied it in a uni class. While I am glad I read it, I don't think that this is one for the re-read pile. The first 75 pages were sloooow going, but it definitely picked up after that. Lady Chatterley's Lover is about a woman named Connie, whose husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley, was paralyzed from the waist down during WWI. Connie starts an affair with Oliver Mellors, who is the gamekeeper of the Chatterley estate. Lawrence's novel was banned in pretty much every country when it was published in 1928, and I can understand why. His language is quite explicit - he uses words that I would never dream of saying aloud - and a large portion of the novel is devoted to the physical relationship between Connie and Mellors. Also, this was the first time that a novel depicted an upper-class women with a lower-class man - scandalous! Like I said, I am glad I read Lady Chatterley's Lover, since it is a classic and a definite milestone is how we write about sex in literature - but I would not read it again.

tammikuu 15, 2009, 8:31 am

Interesting review! I'd been tossing around the idea of reading this one, since it's a classic... but the explicit nature of the book makes me wonder if I'd just end up putting it down. Is it like reading porn (ie. a classic Harlequin) or did you really feel like you were reading classic literature?

tammikuu 15, 2009, 8:59 am

Well, Lawrence's writing is definitely literary, and he includes a serious critique of industrialization and the class system in England, so in that way, it was definitely a classic. The sex scenes were not porn or Harlequin - I think any modern day romance would contain scenes that are more....creative, if you know what I mean. However, the language was what got me - you know George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words? Lets just say that Lawrence was not above using a lot of them. Personally, I cringe every time I see a four letter word starting with F or C, so reading them multiple times on a page was more than I could stomach. That said, I tried to look at the language as not having the same connotations in 1928 as they do today, and that helped.

tammikuu 15, 2009, 11:43 am

>51 Cait86: Cait, I went through a Lawrence phase in my twenties and LC is definately his worst book, literary-wise. Of course, when I was a young prurient male (now a dirty old man!) I looked for all the dirty bits. However, I don't like explicit sex in literary novels and Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow are much better in that respect and every other.

So, I don't recommend LC as literature, even though it is literary, and I assume that Lawrence had a serious purpose when he wrote it.

- TT

tammikuu 16, 2009, 7:59 am

Hmm... well, in that case... I think I'll pass. I think the language would probably bother me as well. Thanks for the expanded explanation!

tammikuu 16, 2009, 8:05 am

No problem dk_phoenix!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:43 pm

Book #9: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

After I raved about The Road, DrNeutron recommended this book as another excellent offering by McCarthy. I am so glad that I followed up on this, because I loved No Country for Old Men just as much as The Road. McCarthy's prose is so engaging that I read this all in one sitting - I just could not put it down! On the surface this is a book about drug runners and a string of horrible crime committed along the Texas-Mexico border. Underneath the plot, however, there is so much more!

tammikuu 16, 2009, 2:55 pm

Hi, Cait!
I thought I saw you mention somewhere on another thread that there would be a group read of The Count of Monte Cristo this summer. That book has been high up on my tbr for a while, so I would like to join in if I may. Where would that group read be? There are lots of Caits (Cates, Kaits, Kates), so if you are not the one I saw, I am sorry.

I also got the Maus set, both books in one volume for my daughter. She recommended that I also read it, so that is up on my tbr as well. So many good books, how will we ever have the time?

tammikuu 16, 2009, 7:09 pm

Hey BJ! Yes, I am the one who mentioned reading The Count of Monte Cristo this summer. I will start a thread in May or June so that we can all talk about it. Of course you are more than welcome to join in - the more the merrier! I am looking forward to it, though my goal is to read Anna Karenina first. I think we are going to read it as a group too, starting in March - so join that one too if you like!!

I hope you enjoy Maus, I sure did!

tammikuu 17, 2009, 1:39 am

I am not sure if I can read Anna Karenina and War and Peace at the same time, but I might try. Both books are rereads for me, so maybe I can do it. And I already have a copy of both. AK is one of my all-time favorite books ever! Thanks for the invite and the info. I will look for the threads.

This group reads lots of great books! :)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:42 pm

This group does read lots of great books! In fact, here is one that I read, because I saw so many great reviews of it here on LT....

Book #10: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

I saw this book on someone else's list and so I picked it up this weekend while spending the rest of my Christmas book money. At only 220 pages it was a quick read, but also intense. Michael's thoughts as he comes to terms with his relationship with Hanna, as well as her past, takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster. There were times when I felt as though Michael was used by Hanna, and then others when I felt pity for her, and still others when she disgusted me. Schlink's writing is philosophical and comtemplative, and his narrator is a wonderfully complex character.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 17, 2009, 4:02 pm

*waving* to say that I'd like to join in on the Anna Karenina group read -- will there be or is there a separate thread for that? I'm woefully behind on reading threads for this group!

edited to add touchstone

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 17, 2009, 5:52 pm

>60 missylc:: if it hasn't started already, I'm still putting in a bid for Anna Karenina to start around Easter - it's on my hitlist for this year, and I think I need a good chunk of holiday to really get going (esp. as have just caved and joined the War and Peace group read too). But if others want to get going sooner I guess I'll jump in too...

tammikuu 17, 2009, 7:51 pm

Thanks, FlossieT -- I wasn't suggesting we start earlier, I just wanted to make sure I knew where to look for it when it started. :o)

tammikuu 17, 2009, 8:16 pm

>60 missylc:/61: I might join in on that too! Does anyone have a recommendation for a specific version/translation? I have the Wordsworth edition, but I have no idea how difficult (or easy?) it may be to read...

tammikuu 17, 2009, 10:28 pm

>60 missylc:-63: Yes, we will have a separate thread for Anna Karenina, just like the ones created for War and Peace and Don Quixote - my, aren't we choosing ambitious novels! :) We can create it as we get closer to starting.

I agree with starting around Easter, so that's April this year, right? I might start a bit early because I have a week off in March, and like you, FlossieT, I need a holiday to start reading it!

As for translations, I have the Oprah's Book Club version - I hate buying those, but our book chain in Canada, Chapters/Indigo, always seems to carry them! I am sure there are better translations available.

tammikuu 18, 2009, 5:25 pm

>63 dk_phoenix: and >64 Cait86:: the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation (published by Penguin) won a PEN award for translation, so looks like a good bet; not too expensive either, at least over here...

I'm really looking forward to it.

tammikuu 18, 2009, 5:29 pm

Message #55
Hi Cait86, regarding No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, is there a movie of the same name?

Interestingly, during dinner a few nights ago friends mentioned this movie and said they liked it but thought it was violent.

I like your review of it and am adding it to my tbr pile.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 18, 2009, 6:00 pm

>66 Whisper1::

Hey Whisper1 - No Country for Old Men is indeed a movie. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year, and stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. I haven't seen it yet, because I like to read the book first, but my Dad really liked it a lot. The book does have some violence in it, but it is not really graphically described, IMO. I hope you like it!

tammikuu 18, 2009, 6:02 pm

>65 FlossieT:: I just looked up that translation, FlossieT, and lucky for me, it is the one I own!

tammikuu 18, 2009, 6:06 pm

Message 66, I've added this book to my tbr pile. Thanks!

tammikuu 18, 2009, 6:27 pm

Yep, No Country For Old Men is a movie, and it's very good! And very faithful to the book.

tammikuu 18, 2009, 6:41 pm

Hey DrNeutron, thanks again for recommending it to me - I thought is was excellent! McCarthy is quickly becoming my new favourite author!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:42 pm

Book #11: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

I took a class on Arthurian Literature in university, and absolutely fell in love with the story, and the historical, or lack thereof, evidence behind it. Most of what I have read has been quite old, such as Chretien de Troyes' romances, and the original Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, so I am still relatively new to the modern retellings. I love both The Mists of Avalon and the Dream of Eagles series by Jack Whyte, and am pleased to add The Crystal Cave to my list. Stewart focuses on Merlin's backstory in this book, from the time that he is six years old until the reign of Uther Pendragon. She really fleshes out the character of Merlin, and I enjoyed her interpretation - he is quite different from Jack Whyte's Merlin. I will definitely try to work in the rest of this series sometime this year!

tammikuu 18, 2009, 11:11 pm

>63 dk_phoenix:: Sounds good, thanks! I'll keep my eyes open for it.

>72 Cait86:: Yay! I have this on my list for the year, and I'm looking forward to it. If you're interested in another excellent Arthurian series, try Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle. It begins with Taliesin, so it starts the legend right from the beginning. Very well written, too.

tammikuu 19, 2009, 8:49 am

>73 dk_phoenix:: Thanks! I will add it to my list!

tammikuu 19, 2009, 9:34 am

Ich bin ein riesen Fan von Harry Potter und habe schon alle 7 Bücher öfter gelesen
ich finde den 7 teil sehr spannend und ich finde außerdem cool dass Harry und Ginny,Ron und Hermine zusammen kommen alles in allem ein echt cooles buch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:44 pm

Book #12: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

I first heard of this book on LT, so I have to thank everyone who has spoken so highly of it - I loved it! I am a big fan of epistolary novels in general, and the reader really got to know the characters well through the letters. Juliet's line about how she fell in love with Dawsey and Eben, how she wants to be adopted by Amelia, and wants to adopt Isola, is exactly how I felt about all the people on Guernsey. This book made me laugh out loud, it made me cry, and it reinforced why I love talking about books so much - look how a literary society can bring so many people together, even people who would not normally read.

tammikuu 21, 2009, 1:34 pm

>76 Cait86:: Another for my TBR mountain. Thanks

tammikuu 21, 2009, 4:51 pm

>76 Cait86: re: Guernsey

I'm on a waiting list to get this book from my library. Thank you for the review! I'm even more excited to read it now!

tammikuu 21, 2009, 5:43 pm

>#77 and #78 - Glad to be of service - hope you both like it!

tammikuu 22, 2009, 12:29 am

I read Guernsey last year and loved it. I made the mistake of reading it just before I was supposed to go to bed, and so consequently got no sleep at all because I could not put it down until I was done (I blame it all on alaskabookworm!)

tammikuu 22, 2009, 8:35 am

>#80: Stasia, our bodies just have their priorities all wrong, don't they! It is books, then sleep - something my body and I fight about all the time!

tammikuu 22, 2009, 9:15 am

>80 alcottacre:: LOL at your sleep deprivation, Stasia - I thought you gave that up long ago?

tammikuu 22, 2009, 6:16 pm

#82: I do require at least 2 hours a day, Rachael - I did not get any that day at all and had to go to work that night on no sleep - and I work 10 hour shifts!

tammikuu 22, 2009, 7:11 pm

Wow. That is a really good book then.... Hope you were able to make up for the missing sleep later?

tammikuu 23, 2009, 12:35 am

#84: I collapsed in bed the next morning shortly after 8, but I do not recall how long I slept.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:44 pm

Book #13: The Time In Between by David Bergen

This novel won the Giller Prize in 2005, and it is easy to see why. The Time In Between shifts between the story of Charles, a Vietnam war vet, and his daughter, Ada. Charles, still haunted by his time in the war, returns to Vietnam to try and make sense of the atrocities he witnessed. After Charles fails to call home to Canada, Ada and her brother Jon travel to Vietnam to find their father. Bergen moves between his two main characters seamlessly, and both sides of the story are equally interesting. This is not a particularly cheerful novel, but one that is nevertheless moving. I will definitely read more of Bergen's novels in the future.

tammikuu 24, 2009, 12:36 pm

"this is not a particularly cheerful novel, but one that is nevertheless moving"
That sounds great Cait! Gotta love a good depressing read :)

tammikuu 24, 2009, 11:48 pm

#86: Sounds like one that I need to read in my Vietnam reading for this year. Thanks for the review and recommendation!

tammikuu 25, 2009, 9:58 am

#87 - I agree, sometimes a depressing book is just what I feel like - but it is good to alternate with light, fluffy stuff too :)

#88 - I hope you like it, Stasia!

tammikuu 25, 2009, 5:49 pm

Regarding books about Viet Nam, I'm currently reading What They Carried. Because I am the generation most impacted by this war, I read the pages and shake my head incredulously...

What a waste of human life!

tammikuu 29, 2009, 9:03 am

> 90: Whisper1 I saw your review of What They Carried and have added it to my TBR list. Since I am Canadian, and only 22, I don't really know a lot about the Vietnam war, but I am hoping to change that.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:45 pm

Book #14: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I don't really know how to accurately describe how I felt about this book, but I am going to try. I read about it here on LT, I think in the Historical Fiction thread, and thought I would give it a try. I figured it would be a good book to lose myself in, and since I know that there are sequels, I guessed that neither of the main characters would die. After some more depressing reads this year, Outlander seemed like a great break, and it started off that way.

The basic plot - Claire, a woman living in England in 1945, is on a second-honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank, following the end of the war. She is shown a stone circle in the forest (it is like a smaller Stonehenge), and shows it to her husband. They see a group of women perform a ceremony around the stones, and figure that it has something to do with druids. The next day, Claire returns to the circle, and when she touches a cracked stone, she has sort of a fit, and ends up in...1743.

The rest of the novel is about how Claire falls in with the local Scottish clan, and meets Jamie Fraser, a Scot wanted by the English. I found all of this very engaging; Claire and Jamie are both well-drawn characters, as are the other important Scots, like Colum and Dougal. However....


When I came to the section of the novel where Jamie beats Claire with his belt, I was totally disgusted. I understood Jaime's logic - Claire had put the men in danger, and so their justice system said that she had to be punished. This is historically accurate for 1743, so it makes sense for Jaime to believe that it was the right thing to do. However, Claire forgave him so quickly, and even came to agree with why he did it. Even worse was the fact that all through the book, beating someone with a belt was something that a parent did to a child - ideas on corporal punishment aside, here Claire was basically being compared to a child. This absolutely infuriated me! Just because she is a woman, she is supposed to follow all of Jamie's orders, and if she doesn't, he can punish her the way he would a child?!

Then, after ranting about this to my Dad, I realized that if Gabaldon had not put this section in, her book would not have been as historically accurate. Jamie is really a very good husband, and with much more modern views on women than the average 1740s Scot. In fact, the way he treats Claire in the majority of the novel is actually fairly inaccurate. So, this section might really be important to the novel. Also, Jaime and Claire grow much closer because of it, and he does agree never to beat her ever again.

So, as you can see, this book really bothered me, because I don't know how to feel about it. There were parts I really liked, and parts I really hated - the above section is just one example! For those of you who have read it - help! What did you think?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 2009, 9:51 am

In fact, the way he treats Claire in the majority of the novel is actually fairly inaccurate.

I'd say that Jamie's treatment of Claire was not typical rather than inaccurate. For myself, I like the way Gabaldon is so careful to make her people true to their time. You haven't gotten to it yet, but, if you choose to read the whole series, you will never see any of the pregnant women backing off from alcohol consumption - as indeed they would not have done in their time. Gabaldon is careful not to contaminate her books with our 20th/21st century knowledge and I like that. As for the butt walloping Claire got from Jamie, keeping in mind the time period, I saw it from his point of view. He promised her punishment if she did not follow orders (as she should have done) and he had to deliver. As you say, Jamie is a very good husband and a very modern one, but even this most enlightened 18th century man would have his limits.
Last, do read the rest of the series, Cait. It's super good and I think that you won't be sorry.

tammikuu 29, 2009, 10:46 am

Hi Fourpawz2 - I understand what you are saying, and I think in the end, I do understand why Jamie did what he did. However, my modern-day, men-and-women-are-equal sensibilities are still affronted by this section of the novel!

tammikuu 29, 2009, 3:28 pm

Hmm... I've always been intrigued by the Gabaldon books I see on the 'new releases' shelves at the bookstore, but never bothered to pick one up. I appreciate it when an author keeps their historical fiction realistic to the time period, so I am intrigued by your review... and just might try one out...

tammikuu 29, 2009, 3:30 pm

I don't know why, but I've found that I enjoy Gabaldon's books more when I listen to them then when I read them. Maybe because the audio books are condensed and her books are long.

tammikuu 30, 2009, 5:50 am

#92ff: I cannot listen to the condensed versions of the audiobooks - I do not like abridgements at all and when you take one of Gabaldon's books like Outlander that in abridged form is around 6 hours long, and in unabridged form is 23 hours long - that is just too much book to miss, and Outlander is the shortest of the books.

That being said, I love the audio versions of her books that Davina Porter has narrated for Recorded Books. I have them all. I was introduced to the series through the audio form - I picked it up at my local library looking for something different to listen to at work and I was hooked from that point forward!

As far as the section you referred to Cait, I go along with Fourpawz on this one. Jamie does what a dutiful husband in his time was expected to do to ensure the compliance of his wife. Again, with modern sensibilities, we are shocked by the behavior, but during that time period, a man's wife was in essence his possession. I think through much of the book, Claire does not allow Jamie to treat her as he normally would a woman of his time, but in this instance he feels he has to because of the responsibilities to the men who are travelling with them.

tammikuu 30, 2009, 1:10 pm

Well, I think that I will have to read the rest of this series - maybe not this year, since they are loooong books, but definitely in the future!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:45 pm

Book #15: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, and I absolutely loved it. It isn't literature by any means, but it was a fun read and I will definitely read more of the series. Sookie is a waitress in a bar in small-town Louisiana, and she has a "disability" - she can read minds. Because of this talent, she never dates, until Bill, a vampire, walks into her life. Sookie cannot read Bill's mind, and she finds this fact very exciting. In Harris' world, vampires are a known entity, and live freely among humans. This is not without its problems, as Sookie starts to realize. Suddenly waitresses are being murdered - waitresses just like Sookie. Is she next? This was an extremely engaging read with a decent mystery. For fans of Twilight, Harris' books are a more adult version of vampire lore.

tammikuu 30, 2009, 10:11 pm

I consider the Outlander series some of my favorite reads. I love her writing and her characters.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:46 pm

And coming in just under the wire for January...

Book #16: Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

I actually read this novel in high school, so I figured it was time for a reread. This is Munro's only novel, and the second book she wrote. I love her short stories, and Lives of Girls and Women is more like a collection of short stories about a girl named Del Jordan. The reader follows Del from early childhood to her high school graduation, as she learns about religion, death, sex, and the changing role of women in post-WW2 Ontario. I found this book dragged in a few spots, but Munro is a fantastic writer and her prose really jumps off the page - I am glad I took the time to reread it. Recommended.

tammikuu 31, 2009, 8:05 pm

Wow, there is no way that I have ever read 16 books in one month before! Joining this site has really increased the amount of time I dedicate to reading books, and has introduced me to tons of new books. I am guessing that my February reading will be far less, because I am going to be teaching instead of in school (I am in teachers' college), and will be busy!! Anyway, my top three reads for January are:

The Road
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Black Dogs

tammikuu 31, 2009, 10:09 pm

I agree with you. I read The Guernsey Litearary and Potato Peel Pie Society last year and it was one of my favorites.

helmikuu 1, 2009, 3:39 am

Nice to see you enjoyed The road. I think it was one of my best reads last year. I'm an Ian McEwan fan, I should find Black dogs somewhere :)

helmikuu 1, 2009, 7:26 am

>104 boekenwijs:: Haven't read any of your top three for January, though I did enjoy your reviews - I better start looking for them! Also, I've only read one book by Munro and loved it so maybe it's time for me to try another one...

You're gonna be teaching! Good luck + hope you have a good time while doing it!

helmikuu 1, 2009, 9:39 am

Thanks girlunderglass! I will definitely have fun teaching - my classes are all high school English, so I get to talk about books all day! Teaching is one of the few careers where I actually get to make use of my English Lit degree :)

helmikuu 3, 2009, 9:55 am

hmm... I'm studying English lit myself...though I would make a lousy teacher, I'm VERY impatient. I will probably be translating for a living as soon as I graduate; at least that's what I hope will happen!
p.s. thanks for req :)

helmikuu 4, 2009, 12:58 am

I found your thread! :) Had to do a search even, because for some reason I cannot find it on the list. But I'm here. I am going to throw my 2 cents in and say I am not a Gabaldon fan. It wasn't the beating, although I didn't care for that either. I can't stand the pinging back and forth that goes on. I did find one of the later ones (yes, I've read them) to be particularly good, but as a series? Just not for me.

helmikuu 4, 2009, 1:04 am

#108: Sorry to hear that you are not a Gabaldon fan, Susan, but then again, differences make life challenging and not every book is for every body. I know you probably have a ton of other favorites!

helmikuu 4, 2009, 3:46 pm

> 108 - Glad you found my thread Susan - I'm honoured you searched for it! Do you remember which Gabaldon book you liked better than the others?

>109 alcottacre: - Stasia, I love that line: "Not every book is for every body" - too perfect :)

helmikuu 4, 2009, 11:58 pm

#102: I plan on reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society this year, so what did you think of it? I started it a couple months ago but never completed for a whole bunch of books yelled out at me "read me Catey, read me!!" so suffice it to say I never got it read.


helmikuu 5, 2009, 2:19 am

#111: Even though her mama told her she would love it!

helmikuu 5, 2009, 10:25 am

>111 fantasia655: - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was wonderful! It is a fun, fast read; the characters are charming and believable; the writing engaging. Besides that, the history was very interesting - I did not even know that there was such a place as Guernsey, nevermind that it was occupied by the Germans during WW2. Read it - your mom us right, you will love it! :)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:47 pm

I have been in a bit of a book-funk this week - it seems to have been going around! After reading so many great books in January, I just couldn't seem to get interested in another book. So, whenever this affliction strikes me, I read my favourite book...

Book #17: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I have read all eight Anne books about a million times - I absolutely love them, and the original is my favourite novel of all time. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I think that they are the greatest literary works ever written, but I have read them all on a yearly basis since I was very young, and have many good memories attached to them. I think most people have books like this - books that are a big part of their lives, characters who feel very real, almost like friends. Reading one of these novels is a sure-fire way to spark my reading habits.

For those who have not read Anne of Green Gables, Anne is an orphan girl who is adopted by siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. She lives with them at Green Gables, their farm on Prince Edward Island. Anne is imaginative, rash, and has a hot temper that matches her very red hair. This first novel chonicles her first few years at Green Gables, from the time that she is eleven until sixteen.

Anne is a very likeable character, and her escapades are amusing. This first novel is very touching, and even though I know it off by heart, I still laugh out loud and cry like a baby at certain parts. All eight novels are wonderful, though some are better than others. I thought about reading them all right now, but decided to leave them for the next time I fall into a book-funk :)

In case anyone is wondering, this is the reading order (though not the publishing order) of the Anne novels:

Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of the Island
Anne of Windy Poplars
Anne's House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

helmikuu 5, 2009, 12:24 pm

#113: Thanks Cait, it has moved up on my TBR Island.
#114: I read the first two Anne of Green Gables last year, I thought they were very good, but I do not own all of them, my Gramma does, so I may have to complete the series one of these days. :)


helmikuu 5, 2009, 3:15 pm

Sorry I only know the plot and there are too many spoilers if I say for me to want to share them -- I hate giving things away. The one I remember fondly is quite a bit down the line.

I don't care for the Anne of Green Gable series either! LOL Does 'three strikes and you're out' count in LT too?

helmikuu 5, 2009, 5:39 pm

>114 Cait86:: have you read the Budge Wilson 'prequel' yet? My eldest bought it me for Christmas but I haven't got round to it.

On a related note, another site I frequent with book forums had a thread, "Who was the first fictional character you fell in love with?". It was really quite astonishing how many people nominated Gilbert Blythe....

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 5, 2009, 7:34 pm

>116 suslyn: - Susan, on my thread, dissention is encouraged! Books are MUCH more fun to talk about when people disagree! If we all loved the same stuff, think of how boring it would be :)

>117 FlossieT: - FlossieT, I haven't read the prequel yet. Once you do read it, let me know how it is. I wouldn't want to spoil my love of the series if the prequel isn't any good! As for Gilbert, I totally understand - he is intelligent, ambitious, and always bought Anne flowers - what more could a girl want! LOL

helmikuu 6, 2009, 1:14 am

#116: If the '3 strikes and you're out' motto held, I would have been gone a long time ago! Thank goodness it is not like that here, Susan. We just have to agree to disagree on some books.

helmikuu 6, 2009, 10:01 am

>116 suslyn:: I'm with you! I'm not a Lucy Maud Montgomery fan at all, even though my mother tried to get me reading her work for years and years... she kept buying me her books, which I would start, get bored, and "lose". Haha. I've been to Green Gables in PEI, and it's lovely, but beyond that...

helmikuu 7, 2009, 4:39 pm

Sorry Cait -- Realized I said two negatives in a row! Wouldn't you know just today I was wishing I could say to my neighbor who is always critical, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Goes to show there's truth to the idea that that which bothers us most about others is often a fault of our own.

DK -- this is not about you!! :)

helmikuu 7, 2009, 4:46 pm

>121 suslyn:: I much prefer Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

If you can't say something nice, come sit next to me.


Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 2009, 7:24 pm

Ditto that, Tad! I know it's a huge sin, but I have such a shameful love of gossip. I prefer to call it "interesting stories." But I completely agree with you, suslyn, that what "bothers us most about others is often a fault of our own." I'll be the first to admit it!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:47 pm

Book #18: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

I know I said I wasn't going to keep reading these, but I lied :) I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday (that's what happens when you have fun!) so I read this second Anne book. This one is no where near as good as the first, at least not IMO, but it is still fun to read. Anne is now the schoolteacher of Avonlea school, Marilla has adopted twins Davy and Dora, and life at Green Gables is as beautiful as ever. Immediately after finishing Anne of Avonlea, I picked up Anne of the Island, so you all know what book is next to be reviewed!

Don't worry, soon I will foray back into some adult reads, though I am sure they will be MUCH less fun!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:48 pm

Book #19: Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

This third Anne books ties with the original and Rilla of Ingleside as my favourite in the series. Anne leaves behind Avonlea to attend Redmond College in Kingsport, Nova Scotia. Going with her are Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane, both who compete for her affections. Anne's four years at Redmond are full of fun times with friends, interesting classes, and the wedding of Diana Barry. The ending of this novel is just perfect - Anne faces a lot of obstacles in her desire to fall in love, and so it is all the more wonderful when it finally happens!

helmikuu 9, 2009, 8:14 am

Glad you're enjoying old favs -- that's one of the best things about books!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:48 pm

Book #20: Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka

This was a cute YA book that is part of the White Pine Program for Ontario high school students. Katie, the narrator, is a grade 12 student on her school's student council. Every year, the senior class plays Gotcha, a game that is a strategic form of tag, lasting several weeks. Because of some violent incidents in prior years, the school has banned Gotcha this year, and so Katie and the rest of the student council organize an "underground" secret game of Gotcha. While the game begins innocently enough, things quickly spiral out of control. Katie knows the game needs to stop - but how?

I really enjoyed this novel, and I think high school students would too - it was adult enough that teens would feel like they were reading a "real" book, but not too adult that it would be inappropriate.

helmikuu 11, 2009, 1:47 pm

I like your description of Gotcha, and because I have a goal of reading my YA books in 2009, I'm adding it to my list.

helmikuu 11, 2009, 6:57 pm

Gotcha sounds interesting. Its going on the TBR pile.

helmikuu 11, 2009, 8:47 pm

#92 Hi - I'm just catching up on threads and noticed Outlander & had to comment. This has turned out to be one of my favorite series. I tend to agree along the historically accurate line. Claire does a great job of standing up for herself to Jamie's & other male charter's views without bringing in the 21st century. She is portrayed as a strong, independent, if not a stubborn woman throughout the series. Gabaldon has a knack for writing a brutally graphic scene and then softening things out right after. There were scenes in the other books that I couldn't believe I just read! But, I think the hard process scenes are a reminder as to what life was like back then and how far gender equality has come.

Don't give up reading the series yet!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:48 pm

Book #21: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

This second Sookie Stackhouse novel is not quite as good as the first, but still an extremely fun read! Sookie and Bill travel to Dallas at the orders of Eric, the head vampire in their area. Eric has decided to "loan out" Sookie to help other vampires; in this case, the Dallas nest has lost one of their brothers, and need Sookie to read the minds of humans in the area to see if they know where he is. Of course lots of supernatural creatures show up, and we learn about the Fellowship, a group of humans who think all vampires should be killed. I find Sookie to be an interesting character, and I am looking forward to reading the next installment!

helmikuu 16, 2009, 1:54 pm

book #21 sounds like a fun read

helmikuu 16, 2009, 8:49 pm

I enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse books, too, they are BC books for me. If you have not tried Harris' Shakespeare series, Cait, I recommend it as well.

helmikuu 18, 2009, 12:46 pm

Thanks Stasia, I will try it. BTW, what does BC mean? Brain Candy? :)

helmikuu 18, 2009, 12:49 pm

#134: Yes.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:49 pm

Book #22: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen

This is definitely not the type of book I normally read, but my best friend said that she flew through it, so I borrowed it. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it, and read it all in two sittings. The main character is Rachel, a good-girl type who is always putting the needs of her very demanding best friend, Darcy, before those of her own. On Rachel's 30th birthday, however, that changes. Darcy throws Rachel a surprise birthday party, and a few hours later, Rachel ends up sleeping with her best guy friend, Dex - who just happens to be Darcy's fiancee. Uh-oh! At first, Rachel decides to forget about it and go on with life - it was just a mistake. Despite these best-intentions, Rachel begins to discover that maybe it wasn't a mistake, and maybe Dex is the guy for her after all...

This wasn't a taxing, deep-thought kind of book, but it was enjoyable, with a heroine to whom I actually really related.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 20, 2009, 11:31 am

So, I just have to say, that I love what LT has done to my reading. I recently finished my English degree, and after four years of analyzing and theorizing, I had lost the joy of simply reading. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the analysing and theorizing, and I actually love writing essays (wow, now you all must think that I am a nerd!). My classes were dynamic and thought-provoking, and I loved every minute. However, I had forgotten how much fun it can be to just read a book because it has an interesting plot, or because it is funny, or because the characters and emotions are relatable. Recently, reading all of these threads and watching as you all balance thick, literary classics, contemporary masterpieces, fantasy and sci-fi, and yes, brain candy, I have been inspired to read like I did before I was an English major - just because I love to read. I still enjoy picking apart a classic and reading "in-between the lines", but now I don't feel bad about fun-reading either - it feels great!

That said, I should probably take a break from fun-reads and read something a bit deeper....I wouldn't want to lose all of those university skills for which I paid so much money!

helmikuu 18, 2009, 5:28 pm

LOL Yes use it or lose it. Glad you're able to just revel in reading... it is fun! :)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:49 pm

Book #23: Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

I know a few fellow 75ers have read this recently and raved about it, but I have to be the dissenting voice here. The basic plot surrounds Haroun, a boy whose father is the greatest story-teller in the country. One day, Haroun's mother runs away with the neighbour, and Haroun's father is no longer able to tell stories. A distraught Haroun travels to Kahani, Earth's second moon, which is the birthplace of all stories. Here, Haroun meets a myriad of interesting creatures on his quest to restore his father's Gift of the Gab.

This book was another quick read, and the characters and setting Rushdie creates are engaging enough. However, I really hated the tone and narrative voice. It was definitely an innocent tone, and the ending of the story wraps up perfectly. I thought parts of the ending sent a bad message, or, I guess, an overly simplistic, idealistic message. It reminded me a bit of Coelho's The Alchemist, which was also very innocent, and which I also disliked. Personally, I was just not a fan - I guess there is too much of a cynic in me!

That being said, it is obvious that Rushdie is a well-respected author, and I plan on trying another of his novels. I've heard that Haroun and the Sea of Stories is quite different from the rest of his works, so I will plan on reading another - any recommendations?

helmikuu 23, 2009, 12:02 pm

As February winds down, finally (it is my least favourite month - so dreary), I thought I would post my March TBR list - hopefully I can stick to it, though with my book-buying compulsion, it might be difficult!

For the rest of February, I am hoping to finish up Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and then read Maus II by Art Spiegelman.

In March:
Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
Club Dead - Charlaine Harris - I could run out and read this entire series as I really enjoy it, but instead I am going to make it last and only read one book a month.
This Side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
Any Known Blood - Lawrence Hill
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:49 pm

Book #24: 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares

This YA book from the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series was just as enjoyable as the four books about Lena, Bridget, Carmen, and Tibby. Brashares' new set of characters are Ama, Jo, and Polly, three girls going into grade nine whose years-long friendship has hit a bit of a rough patch. As summer progresses, each girl faces problems and challenges that change their outlook on the world, as they learn just how precious a true friend is. This was a solid effort from Brashares, who writes interesting characters about which the reader really cares. One of the things I love about her novels is that the situations and problems are fairly real, and the stories often contain a moral. My teenage sister reads the Gossip Girl books, and while they are very entertaining, I don't really think that they send the best messages to the audience. This is not the case with Brashares - her heroines are normal teenagers who mess up, but who learn from their problems. The value of friendship is a common theme in her writing - something that any teenage girl, particularly the catty ones, can benefit from reading about!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:51 pm

Book #25: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace may just be the book that makes me a Margaret Atwood fan. I read The Handmaid's Tale a few years ago and enjoyed it, but never felt compelled to pick up another Atwood. However, the grade 12 class that I am teaching during my teachers' college placement is reading Alias Grace, and so I dutifully read it - and I am SO glad I did.

Alias Grace is the story of Grace Marks, a woman who, at the age of sixteen, was convicted of the murders of her boss, Mr. Kinnear, and his housekeeper/mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Grace's story is true; she spent nearly thirty years in the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario, and Susanna Moodie, a rather famous author of the mid-1800s, visited Grace in prison and wrote down her story. Atwood stumbled upon Grace while reading Moodie's Life in the Clearings, and decided to tell the story herself. To say that Atwood believes that Moodie took liberties with Grace's life would be a gross understatement; Grace's story is difficult to piece together using historical documents, as each source tells a different tale. Atwood sticks to the facts as much as possible, and where the facts are unclear, she invents her own.

Atwood is an incredibly skilled writer - her way with words is unbelievable. Alias Grace is told from about five different narrative viewpoints, as it moves from Grace's account of her life, to a third-person narrator, to a group of people writing letters to each other. Every character has his or her own tone and voice and Atwood very carefully crafts their personalities. This is a long book rich with detail - since the novel is set in Victorian times, Atwood writes in a way that mirrors Victorian life: slow, detailed, and intricate. The stories are woven together like a quilt, which is one of the overriding structural patterns in the novel.

Just an example of Atwood's writing, one that I found particularly effective:

"It's too theatrical, too tawdry, thinks Simon; it reeks of the small-town lecture halls of fifteen years ago, with the audiences of credulous store clerks and laconic farmers, and their drab wives, and the smooth-talking charlatans who used to dole out transcendental nonsense and quack medical advice to them as an excuse for picking their pockets. He's striving for derision; nevertheless, the back of his neck creeps" (p.476).

Alias Grace is full of such passages - rich in detail, historically accurate, and slyly satirical. This really was a masterful novel. After avoiding Margaret Atwood for years, Alias Grace came as a complete surprise, and I am eager to attempt another of her works.

helmikuu 28, 2009, 12:00 pm

I would like to read a Margaret Atwood book sometime this year, do you what I should start with?

helmikuu 28, 2009, 1:01 pm

Hey Catey,

I am not sure if I am the best person to recommend a starting point for Atwood - she has written about a dozen novels, of which I have only read two. I really loved Alias Grace, but most of her novels have won awards, and she is one of Canada's more famous authors. I think the Highly Rated Book Group is planning on reading The Blind Assassin starting on Monday (though I could be wrong about that), and The Handmaid's Tale was good, especially if you like dystopian novels (like 1984, Brave New World, The Giver, etc - basically a book about an alternate society that is miserable to live in). Maybe someone else, who is better versed in Atwood, has some input?

helmikuu 28, 2009, 2:56 pm

Ok, thanks, Cait!

helmikuu 28, 2009, 3:30 pm

I'd definitely read The Handmaid's Tale as it is my favourite of hers, and a very interesting and enthralling story. So that's my recommendation for you Catey! I think you'd really like it, especially if you have your mum's liking for dystopia. It also has as an important study on women's roles etc.

helmikuu 28, 2009, 3:45 pm

No problem Catey - let me know what you decide to read, and what you think of it!

Lunacat, I agree, The Handmaid's Tale is very interesting when it comes to women's roles - I am guessing that this is of particular interest to Atwood, as Alias Grace comments quite a bit on the role of women in Victorian society.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 2009, 3:47 pm

Thanks for recommendation, Luna! I'll see about getting it from the library. :)

ETS: Cait, I'll probably try The Handmaid's Tale as Luna recommended.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:51 pm

And coming in about 30 minutes before it is officially March is...

Book #26: Maus II by Art Spiegelman

This second volume was just as emotional as the first. I'm not sure if I am a graphic novel convert, but I am very glad I read Maus - it was an interesting look at the Holocaust, and the lives of survivors in the years following the war.

maaliskuu 1, 2009, 6:18 pm

got ya starred now!!

maaliskuu 1, 2009, 6:20 pm

Great! I have you starred as well - wonderful review of Winesburg, Ohio!

maaliskuu 3, 2009, 12:38 pm

Thanks for your review of Alias Grace, Cait -- I'm adding it to my wishlist!

maaliskuu 5, 2009, 4:18 pm

Hope you like it, missylc - it was amazing!

maaliskuu 5, 2009, 4:19 pm

It has been a crazy few days, so I haven't really had time to post, or to read much. That said,

Book #27: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Review to follow!

maaliskuu 5, 2009, 5:01 pm

Look forward to your review. I read this a few years ago and it will be interesting to see what you thought.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:52 pm

Alright, here is my review for #27: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved it for the first 200 pages, and absolutely hated the last. 50. I felt as though the ending did not connect to the rest of the story - but I am getting ahead of myself, so let me start with a synopsis.

Matilda lives on Bougainville, an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. In the 1990s, Bougainville was blockaded, and the islanders fought for independence. Because of the blockade, Matilda's village is cut off from the rest of the world, and left to fend for itself. Mr. Watts, the one white man in the village, takes up the position of teacher, hoping to instill some form of knowledge in his students. Every day he reads one chapter of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations to the class. Matilda and her schoolmates become engrossed in Pip's world, despite the vast difference between a small island village in the 1990s, and Victorian London. Many of the students' parents do not understand the fascination with Pip, and feel that Mr. Watts is teaching unimportant or even dangerous ideas. As life in the village worsens, however, Matilda continues to find hope in Dickens' novel; her own life journey contains parallels to the book that she loves, and Pip's world seems more real than reality.

The ending was, like I said, very different. Violence and tragedy strike the village, and Matilda's life is changed forever. Jones' story had been slow and reflective up until this point, and had focused on a lot of everyday things. The tragic events moved at a much faster pace that felt contrary and ill-suited to the rest of the novel. So much of this book was about the beauty of books, and while this continues through the ending, the climax felt to me like Jones needed a way to end the novel, and so he created a disaster.

I still enjoyed Mister Pip, and I think it would be great to read alongside Great Expectations, as they can be compared on many levels. The ending was a problem for me, but the journey was beautiful to read. One paragraph in particular stayed with me, because it displays one of the greatest joys of reading:

"People sometimes ask me "Why Dickens?," which I always take to be a gentle rebuke. I point to the one book that supplied me with another world at a time when it was desperately needed. It gave me a friend in Pip. It taught me you can slip under the skin of another just as easily as your own, even when that skin is white and belongs to a boy alive in Dickens' England. Now, if that isn't an act of magic I don't know what is" (231).

maaliskuu 7, 2009, 5:31 pm

Hi Cait, good review on Mister Pip. My boss at the time encouraged me to read this book. She was very big on New Zealand authors and music and quite appalled that I hadn't already read this.

Like you I found the ending to be different to the rest of the book. I thought that Jones wrote with a simplicity and style which described the atrocities, hope and courage of the villagers quite well. Although I didn't love this book, I didn't hate it either.

I would like to read something else by Lloyd Jones and have Swimming to Australia, a collection of short stories, on my TBR pile.

maaliskuu 7, 2009, 6:27 pm

agree with dianestm, great review!

maaliskuu 7, 2009, 6:54 pm

Thanks guys! I'm glad you both liked my review :)

I think I would read another book by Lloyd Jones as well; his latest, Biographi looks interesting.

But, it apparently has no touchstone :(

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:52 pm

Finally finished...

Book #28: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I am a big fan of The Great Gatsby, so I thought I would pick up this novel, Fitzgerald's first. Unfortunately, it was no where near as good. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

Summary: This Side of Paradise is the story of Amory Blaine, an egotistical young man who lives in the elite upper class world of 1910s and 1920s America. The reader watches as Amory attends a private prep school, goes to Princeton, fights in WWI, and then drifts along as one of the "lost generation." He loves, he loses, and he believes himself to have grown from a "personality" into a "personage." I, however, am still not sure of the destinction between the two, nor do I believe that Amory changes all that much.

Amory's voice reminded me a little of Holden in The Catcher in the Rye, a book that I do not really enjoy. Both boys are lazy, sarcastic, self-important characters who complain a lot but do nothing. The up side of This Side of Paradise is Fitzgerald's prose, which is lovely, and the setting of the 1920s, a time period that I find infinitely interesting. Sprinkled throughout the book is Amory's poetry, which I guess shows his growth as an artist and a person, but I found it distracting. While this book doesn't live up to The Great Gatsby, it is interesting to see how Fitzgerald grew as an author, and since This Side of Paradise is semi-autobiographical, the reader gains a lot of insight into Fitzgerald's life. All-in-all, I am glad I read it, but this was definitely not one of my favourite reads for the year. Recommended for Classics-lovers or Fitzgerald aficiandos, but that's about it.

Thankfully, next week is March Break; along with the crazy amounts of school work that I have to do, and the groups of friends who I haven't seen in months, I should have plenty of time for reading! :P

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 14, 2009, 12:18 pm

I was just commenting on Fitzgerald, as I have only ever read Gatsby, and asking Luxx if she had any recommendations on which others to try or start with. I believe This Side of Paradise would fulfill a title on one of my lists. It sounds at least interesting.

ETA: "March Break"? We have spring break down here, I suppose it is a similar deal.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 14, 2009, 12:54 pm

161/162: I agree with your assessment of This Side of Paradise--it's not great, but it shows the beginnings of greatness. If you haven't read it yet, Tender is the Night is another fantastic Fitzgerald novel; I think it's at least as good as, and possibly better than, Gatsby.

maaliskuu 14, 2009, 3:15 pm

>162 wunderkind: - Wunderkind, I will try Tender is the Night later this year - better than Gatsby? That is quite a recommendation!

>161 blackdogbooks: - BDB - March Break is a week off for elementary and high schools, and since I am in teachers' college, I get it off too! University students have Reading Week in February, which is like a spring break - though my friends and I certainly never had the crazy times you see on TV!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:53 pm

Book #29: Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill

Wow. I don't really know what else to say. I finished this book last night, and went to bed with it racing around in my head, hoping that a good night's sleep would help me organize my thoughts. It didn't. I woke still thinking about the novel, wishing it had not ended - despite wanting to race through it yesterday. Those are the best kinds of books - you cannot wait to finish it because you are so engrossed and you really want to know what happens, but when you finish you are sad because the journey is over. That is how I feel about Any Known Blood, a lesser-known novel by the author if The Book of Negroes.

Our narrator is Langston Cane V. Langston is a speech writer for a member of the Ontario Legislature, and he hates his job. His wife has left him, he is childless, he rarely speaks to his parents, and his mixed ethnicity (his father is black and his mother is white) causes him to feel disconnected from either of his parents' cultures. One day, Langston learns that the Ontario government is going to eliminate an old piece of human rights legislation, and decides to take matters into his own hands. He writes a speech slamming the Ontario government, and sneaks it into his boss' hands. The unsuspecting MLA gives the speech, and Langston is fired. In a sort of mid-life crisis, Langston cashes in his savings and heads to Baltimore, where various generations of his family have lived. Langston wants to reconstruct his history, and write a novel about it.

And so, we meet Langston's ancestors: Langston Cane I, who is rumored to have joined John Brown's legendary failed raid on Harper's Ferry; Langston Cane II, who is orphaned at a young age; Langston Cane III, who serves in WWI and becomes a minister; and Langston Cane IV, a doctor whose legacy his son finds daunting.

Hill weaves the stories of the five Langston Canes together with great skill, and the reader rarely finds it difficult to keep the generations straight. Certain characteristics define all five Cane men, yet each is also a distinct person with his own history. Their loves, triumphs, and failures are told in basic, honest prose, and the emotions are real. Issues of race and slavery join the generations together, yet Hill does so in a way that does not overwhelm the reader. Never did I think, "ok, I get it already," or feel as though Hill was trying to indoctrinate me. He obviously has a point to make, but the reader welcomes that point, rather than rejecting it.

This is definitely an "adult" book that contains a fair amount of violence, sex, and swearing, but it is a beautiful book as well. I love stories that mass generations of one family, love seeing where a character comes from, why they are who they are. By piecing together the stories of the four Langston Canes who have come before him, Langston Cane V learns a great deal about himself - and we, the reader, are thrilled to take that journey with him.

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 8:31 am

Hill's Someone Knows My Name has been on Continent TBR for a while now. Sounds like I need to add Any Known Blood as well. Thanks for the review!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 15, 2009, 9:12 am

I had never heard of Someone Knows My Name until you mentioned it, Stasia, which was surprising since Hill is pretty famous in my neck of the woods (he lives about an hour from me, and his kids go to the school where I was just practice-teaching). I looked it up, and it turns out that it is the same book as The Book of Negroes, just under a different name - man, I HATE it when publishers do that!

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 9:30 am

#166: I do, too, Cait. I bought 2 of Giles Blunt's books about a year ago only to find out that despite different titles, they were indeed the same book.

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 9:44 am

#167: Oh, that would be awful! Here you thought you had two new books to read, and instead, only one :(

I guess with The Book of Negroes the title could be found off-putting or offensive in certain parts of the world. Someone Knows My Name is certainly a less provocative title, so I can understand the change - but I still don't like it!

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 4:35 pm

Great review, another one for the TBR mountain.

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 4:50 pm

I hope you like it as much as I did, dianestm - Any Known Blood is definitely one of my top-reads for the year!

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 4:56 pm

Nice review, Cait86. I'll have to look for this book after I finish Someone Knows My Name.

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 6:40 pm

eurrh yeah hate it when they have different names for the same book. At least you can deduce that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the same as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. But Someone Knows My Name for The Book of Negroes ?? How are you suppose to guess that?

maaliskuu 15, 2009, 6:51 pm

LOL I know! The titles are not even remotely the same, and neither are the covers.

The HP title change always bugged me too - but then I, like you Eliza, am HP-obsessed :P

maaliskuu 16, 2009, 12:21 am

#172: I had the same problem with the Blunt books - one was called By the Time You Read This and the other was titled The Fields of Grief and somehow I was supposed to know that they were one and the same book :(

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:53 pm

Book #30: Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine

Hana's Suitcase is the true story of a Children's Holocaust Museum in Tokyo that receives a suitcase from the Auschwitz Centre with the name Hana Brady stamped on it. The curator in Tokyo, Fumiko, has no idea who Hana was, but the children who visit the museum are fascinated by the suitcase. The German word for "orphan" is stamped on the outside, along with the date May 16, 1931. The children are surprised to discover that Jews their age were sent to concentration camps, separated from their parents, and often died. Fumiko goes on a journey to uncover Hana's story, to try to help the children in Tokyo understand the horrible things that happened during WWII.

This book switches between Hana's life, and the life of Fumiko and the children she works with. The stories are woven together to show the link between past and present, and to demonstrate the lessons that can be learned through history. Hana's Suitcase is a children's book, aimed at 8-10 year-olds, but its subject is one to which anyone can relate. I think that the Holocaust is something that everyone should learn about, but it is difficult to find material for young children. This book is perfect for its age group - it doesn't skirt the issues, but it isn't graphic in content.

This was a great little read - I don't want to call it enjoyable, because of its content, but it was definitely interesting and touching. If you have an interest in the Holocaust, then Hana's Suitcase is a book that I highly recommend.

maaliskuu 18, 2009, 8:14 pm

Hana's Suitcase sounds wonderful. On the tbr pile it goes.

maaliskuu 18, 2009, 8:53 pm

I think you will appreciate it Linda!

maaliskuu 18, 2009, 9:01 pm

I am adding it to the Continent, too!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 18, 2009, 9:55 pm

#175 - Book 30 sounds fascinating. I'll definitely keep an eye out for it.

I've recently added to my Holocaust pile with Who Will Write Our History?: Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive by Samuel D. Kassow. It's an amazing book, and while I've only read the first chapter so far, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. I've added the synopsis below as given at Google Books, where you can preview the book...

In 1940, the historian Emanuel Ringelblum established a clandestine organization, code named Oyneg Shabes, in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to study and document all facets of Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve this history for posterity. As the Final Solution unfolded, although decimated by murders and deportations, the group persevered in its work until the spring of 1943. Of its more than 60 members, only three survived. Ringelblum and his family perished in March 1944. But before he died, he managed to hide thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes. Searchers found two of these buried caches in 1946 and 1950. Who Will Write Our History? tells the gripping story of Ringelblum and his determination to use historical scholarship and the collection of documents to resist Nazi oppression.

maaliskuu 18, 2009, 10:00 pm

#179: Another recommendation from you to throw on to the Continent, Peter. This is really becoming a bad habit of mine :)

maaliskuu 18, 2009, 10:22 pm

#175. I already have this on my TBR pile. My son read this last year for a school project. Might have to get to it sooner rather than later, it does sound good.

maaliskuu 19, 2009, 7:29 pm

I'm late to the #92-98 Outlander discussion: I think I get what you're trying to say, Cait86... that with your modern sensibilities, it bothered you that he beat her. Annnndddd... it annoyed you that Claire should have those same sensibilities as you since she is also a modern woman, transported back in time. Therefore, she shouldn't have forgiven him so easily for the beating and treating her like a child and it is Claire's reaction that isn't historically accurate. At least, that's what I think.

maaliskuu 19, 2009, 8:40 pm

#182 - Cauterize, you are right. Jamie acts in a historically accurate way; Claire does not. Well, I guess she is from 1945, when marital relationships were often not equal, but Gabaldon gives her such modern, egalitarian thoughts in the rest of the novel. I just found the section so out-of-character, and not really necessary. It obviously had an effect on me - a month and a half later, and it still bugs me!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2009, 8:54 pm

Book #31: Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer

My thanks to all the other Regency readers - I LOVED this book, and look forward to reading more Heyer novels in the future!

Friday's Child is the story of a young couple, Lord Sherry and Hero, who marry for convenience sake. Sherry will not be given access to his fortune until he is 25, or married, whichever comes first. He proposes to Isabella Milborne, the most beautiful woman he knows, and is turned down. Horrified, Sherry vows to marry the first woman he sees. Hero, who is not yet 17, has known and loved Sherry for many years - a fact of which he is oblivious. When Sherry encounters Hero after his ill-fated proposal, they run away to London, and are married. They vow to lead separate lives, and leave each other to their own devices; however, Hero's inexperience in society causes her to get into any number of scrapes. What follows is a comedic series of misunderstandings that will have you laughing out loud!

Heyer's characters are wonderful; Sherry's friends - Gil, Ferdy, and George - are fantastically drawn and the life of the novel. The best scenes in the book are the ones that display the dynamic between these four men. Though they initially seem like an identical group of rakes, they are actually very different in personality, and their antics are hilarious. Though Friday's Child is set in the time of Jane Austen, and deals with the same type of "comedy of manners," the real difference comes in Heyer's ability to write about this masculine world. Austen is very female-focused, and while she wrote extensively about the private lives of women, her reader is not privy to the home lives of her male characters - we do not see Darcy and Bingely drinking port and discussing Elizabeth and Jane. Heyer's readers are, however, able to see and hear exactly what her male characters are thinking. We enter their breakfast rooms and gaming halls just as often as we enter Hero's and Isabella's drawing-rooms. I enjoyed seeing the other side of this society, and look forward to reading more of Heyer's works.

maaliskuu 21, 2009, 2:18 pm

Re: Friday's Child. Interesting and coincidental.... I just wrote about my first Heyer, These Old Shades on my thread. I didn't like it, probably because it was too old-fashioned. When was Friday's Child published? I couldn't find it on the work details...

maaliskuu 21, 2009, 2:34 pm

These Old Shades is one of Heyer's Georgians, set prior to the French Revolution, while the Regencies are set in the early 1800s. I must confess, I greatly enjoyed the glimpses of Parisian society we get in TOS, and I loved the characters, again especially the side characters of Fanny and Rupert and Hugh Davenant. Friday's Child was published in 1944, TOS in 1926.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 21, 2009, 2:47 pm

ronincats: So you didn't like the main characters, is what you're saying? :) For me, I couldn't get over the ick factors, and how I wanted to cause serious harm to Leonie for her insipidness. It won't be my last Heyer, though. I was told to try a later Heyer, if the early ones didn't flip my switch. I have Frederica on hold at the library.

I DID like Hugh Davenant, though. He seemed like Dr. Wilson from House, who I love. Always the rational voice, but harried from his friendship with the main character.

maaliskuu 21, 2009, 3:10 pm

Cauterize, I saw your review of These Old Shades - I thought Friday's Child was old-fashioned, as you put it, but that was one of the things I loved about it. It is set in the early 1800s, so I think the characters should act like people of the 1800s - despite the fact that male-female relationships are a lot different from today's. That said, Leonie sounds annoying - and after all, not all 17- and 1800s women were slaves to the men they loved - Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice for example.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 2009, 6:29 pm

Book #32: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I felt like a fun, light read tonight, and Confessions of a Shopaholic fit the bill perfectly. It was a harmless, chick-lit novel - the type I normally do not read - and I spent an enjoyable three hours getting lost in the world of Becky Bloomwood.

Becky is, in simplest terms, a shopaholic. To put it bluntly, she has no real grasp on the world. She buys things she cannot afford, gets huge VISA bills she cannot pay, and then buys more things to cheer herself up. Becky's daydreams have a habit of shutting out the real world - she imagines herself winning the lottery and actually comes to BELIEVE that she has millions of dollars. Her job is dull, likely because she really does not understand it. Becky writes, believe it or not, for a financial magazine. She writes articles on funds and pensions that are copied almost straight out of the banks' press materials, and attends conferences where she spends her time gossiping with a friend and drinking free champagne.

Despite this extreme shallowness, Becky is endearing. Her attempts to avoid talking to bank managers and credit card companies are hilarious, and the scrapes she gets into had me laughing out loud. When she finally starts to take a hard look at her life, Becky becomes even more likeable, and the reader is glad to see her begin to triumph.

Becky did get on my nerves a bit in the middle of the novel, though she redeemed herself at the end. Kinsella's plot really picks up in the last quarter, but I thought the first three-quarters could have used some editing. Once Becky had gone on her umpteenth shopping trip, I thought, "alright, I get it, she likes to shop!" It was just a bit repetitive at times. Also, I found Kinsella's secondary characters more interesting than the heroine. I wanted to know more about Suze, Becky's flatmate, and Luke Brandon, the man Becky loves-to-hate.

While I enjoyed Confessions of a Shopaholic, I don't think I would go out of my way to read the sequels - though you never know when the craving for chick-lit will hit again!

maaliskuu 21, 2009, 10:58 pm

Thanks for your excellent comments regarding Friday's Child. This is a popular book because I'm #7 on the waiting list at my local library.

maaliskuu 21, 2009, 11:09 pm

I had no idea that Heyer was so popular until I saw her mentioned on quite a few threads - actually, I had never even heard of her. I hope you like Friday's Child, when you eventually get to read it Linda! If my next Heyer novel is as good, then I will be a serious convert :)

maaliskuu 22, 2009, 12:23 am

188> I don't mind power imbalances between men and women in true historical books, my problem was how the Duke of Avon saw Leonie entirely as a child. He called her a child, literally, he insisted to others he saw her as a child when they questioned his intentions, and a few of the characters even commented that she was too young for him; I thought, They're questioning it... I'm questioning it... ugh. I kept waiting for Leonie to grow up and/or the Duke to have a epiphany moment where he realized she was a woman. I really feel that didn't happen. Lol, and don't bring up P&P because that will just remind me that women in regency period had brains :)

And plus, isn't an old man marrying his young ward usually done as an evil plot and then the hero comes along to save her? Heh.

maaliskuu 22, 2009, 1:00 am

Well, Heyer delighted in turning the typical conventions on their head. I think Avon knew early on that Leonie was a girl, and it's entirely in his style that he did NOT reveal his knowledge. And he truly was not going to act upon that knowledge even after he acknowledged to himself his feelings for her. If you ever read Devil's Cub, 25 years later, it is clear that Leonie's personality has little to do with her age. But I think Frederica will be a good one for you to read next.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 2009, 7:22 pm

Book #33: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have not read The Hobbit in a few years, and my Dad and I were talking about it yesterday, so I decided to give it a quick re-read. I am a big Lord of the Rings fan, and read it frequently, but I had forgotten how different The Hobbit is from its sequel.

The Hobbit tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a perfectly normal hobbit who, like all of his kin, hates adventures. Unfortunately for Bilbo, Gandalf the Grey, a wizard, had decided that Bilbo is just the person to go on an adventure. Along with a group of thirteen dwarves led by Thonin Oakenshield, Bilbo journeys to the Lonely Mountain on a mission to kill Smaug, a dragon who has stolen the dwarves' gold. This journey is, of course, fraught with danger, and quiet little Bilbo is forced to do a lot of things he never thought possible - and returns home a very different sort of hobbit.

The Hobbit is much more juvenile than The Lord of the Rings - kind of like a younger sibling to an adult novel. The narrator changes right along with Bilbo. By the end of the book, the tone is quite serious, though the story is still told in simple terms. The beginning, however, was actually really funny - sort of sarcastic. For example:

"The Bagginses have lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is the story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbour' respect, but he gained - well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end" (10).

Not laugh-out-loud funny, but amusing just the same.

I first read The Hobbit when I was really young, about 8, so that may be why I enjoy it so much - it was one of the first quasi-adult books that I ever read. It definitely does not have the complexity of The Lord of the Rings, but it is an enjoyable tale that is well-written, and it is a great introduction to the world of Middle-Earth.

maaliskuu 23, 2009, 10:03 pm

You know, I've never read The Hobbit, and doubt I ever will! But, I find the man behind the books fascinating. I've had JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter on my shelf for some time, and I do have every intention of reading it.


maaliskuu 25, 2009, 9:34 am

>195 petermc: I think you should read The Hobbit Peter! Even if only as a read aloud with your boys when they're a bit older... It's really a lovely story.

maaliskuu 25, 2009, 7:55 pm

#196 - Do you know what? I may very well do that. Along with a personal childhood favourite of my own - The Three Musketeers!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 29, 2009, 12:11 pm

Book #34: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I went to the library early this week and decided to read a few children's classics that I haven't read in many years, or have never read at all. This book was one of them. So, you can all look forward to a lot of children's and YA books from me for the next few weeks! LOL

A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favourite books when I was younger. I know I read the entire series, but I really have no memory of the other three, only the first. Despite being several years older than the recommended reading level for this book, I still loved it. The characters are as well-drawn as ever, and the places they visit still seem magical - and the ideas about space travel still confuse the heck out of me!

A Wrinkle in Time is about three children, Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe. Mr. and Mrs. Murry are both scientists, and Mr. Murry has been missing for over a year. He was working on a top-secret mission for the government, and one day his letters just stopped coming. Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin meet three mysterious old women: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Together, the six of them set out to save Mr. Murry. Their journey takes them through space to new worlds, both good and evil, as the children confront dangers they never imagined existed.

Mrs. Who is my favourite character - I love her constant quoting of famous passages. Meg is very relatable as a girl who feels out of place all the time, and Mr. and Mrs. Murry seem like wonderful parents. I truly enjoyed reading this again after many years.

My only negative about A Wrinkle in Time was that it was much more preachy than I remembered. Maybe it is because I do not come from a religious upbringing, but I did not notice it when I was a child that this book is full of references to God and the Bible. I found L'Engle to be pushing her own beliefs a bit. Now that I think of it, I was always a fan of her Vicky Austin books as well, and they included many passages on Christianity as well. Not that I think this is always a bad thing, but it is something to note, especially if parents of non-Christian homes give these books to their children to read.

All of that put aside, I still loved reading this book, and felt like I was reliving a part of my childhood!

maaliskuu 27, 2009, 9:51 pm

I'm really looking forward to reading your posts regarding YA books you are reading.

There is such wisdom in so many of the books in this genre.

Like you, I read A Wrinkle in Time a long time ago. Perhaps I need to revisit this book.

maaliskuu 28, 2009, 5:21 am

#198: I am still a firm lover of Wrinkle, too, and introduced to the girls when they were very young. Honestly, I have never seen Wrinkle as being a religious book unlike the Chronicles of Narnia which I knew from the get go had religious overtones. Oh, well, glad to see Wrinkle has another fan!

maaliskuu 28, 2009, 11:20 am

I read The Hobbit many years ago and loved it. But I have yet to read The Lord of the Rings.

maaliskuu 28, 2009, 11:32 am

Speaking as a long time lover of A Wrinkle in Time (it came out when I was in Jr. High), I reread my copy fairly recently. I also was surprised at the amount of preachiness embedded in the story--more than I recalled, and now it took more away from the story than when I was younger. Still a true classic.

Mac, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are on two completely different levels, with the first being a charming children's book, and the latter being true literature (a compliment, not a pejorative).

maaliskuu 28, 2009, 5:54 pm

Congratulations on your "Hot Review", reflected today on the Home page, for A Wrinkle in Time. It was a well written review and certainly deserves praise.

Way to go!!!!

maaliskuu 28, 2009, 7:17 pm

Why hello there fellow Hot Reviewer - that is, does writing a Hot Review make one a Hot Reviewer? I sure hope so! We're both up there today! :) Congratulations, you totally deserve it!!! :P

maaliskuu 29, 2009, 1:11 am

I love A Wrinkle in Time, but was surprised that you mentioned there was Christian imagery in it. That was the first I had heard about it. *sigh* I am totally dense about these things, being raised in a ethnicity/household that is completely non-religious. I didn't even know about the Narnia allegories until University because of it. I think it's because I don't know the Christian stories/theology, so I can't read between the lines in books and so these things fly over my head because of it?

Anyways, now I will have to put this in my re-read pile so I can see if I can spot the things you've mentioned. Congrats on the Hot Review!

maaliskuu 29, 2009, 9:24 am

Thanks guys *blushing* - I am excited to join the ranks of Hot Reviewers! LOL

BDB, you should read The Lord of the Rings one of these days - but then, I think EVERYONE should read The Lord of the Rings!

Re: A Wrinkle in Time - L'Engle's book is on a lot of banned books lists, and is challenged ever year. Ironically, her secular fans criticize the book for being too religious, and her religious audience criticizes her belief in universal salvation, and some of her scientific views. Personally, while the religious undertones bugged me a bit, I tried not to let them cloud my enjoyment of the novel.

maaliskuu 29, 2009, 10:11 am

Yes, I intend to. I got put off by The Simarillion. After reading The Hobbit, cursed with an obssessive gene that requires me to read collections completely and in story order, I went back to the beginning. ECHHH! But I have a great illustrated copy of the books and need to get around to them. There are several large reading projects that need my attention.

maaliskuu 29, 2009, 10:24 am

I think I bought The Silmarillion about 5 years ago, and have yet to even crack the cover - I don't know what even possessed me to buy it. Maybe it was my OCD too!

I saw on Eliza's thread that you are reading Pride and Prejudice this week - I am looking forward to your review!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 2009, 6:32 pm

Book #35: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sara Crewe is a bright, imaginative seven-year-old when she arrives at Miss Minchen's Select Seminary for Young Ladies. Her father, Captain Crewe, is a very rich man, and he and his daughter are the best of friends. Sara has spent the first seven years of her life living in India, but now the time has come for her to attend school in London. At Miss Minchen's Sara is treated like a princess, and is given everything she could ever want; being treated as a princess does not spoil Sara, but instead causes her to be a friendly, generous little girl. Her imaginings delight her fellow pupils, and she treats the scullery-maid, Becky, with such kindness as Becky has never known. One day, tragedy strikes Sara, and she is left a penniless beggar destined to serve the cruel Miss Minchen for the rest of her life. Can Sara overcome this adversity? Can she remain a true princess at heart?

A Little Princess is another book that took me down memory lane. Sara's story is one that I read over and over as a little girl, and it was a pleasure to read it again after so many years. Burnett's depiction of dreary London pulls in the reader, and Sara's hardships will make your heart break.

That said, Sara is maybe a little too perfect - she is extremely intelligent, puts others before herself, refuses to be goaded into a rage, and continuously puts a positive spin on her horrid existence. Just once I would have liked to see Sara say something mean, or put herself before others - something to make her more of a real, believable character. Sara is always imagining fairy-stories, and Burnett essentially gives Sara her own fairy-story to live. Sure she has hardships, but she is just so unfailingly positive, and the general tone of the book tells the reader that a happy ending is definitely forthcoming. To be honest, it was kind of annoying after awhile.

However, A Little Princess is enjoyable to read, and a great book for children. It teaches readers never to give up, and to remain positive, for life will work out in the end. This is a nice lesson to learn - but it really isn't that accurate to real life, is it?

huhtikuu 3, 2009, 6:47 pm

Book #36: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This was actually the first time I have ever read The Secret Garden; it is one of those books that I somehow missed as a child, despite loving A Little Princess. I am glad that I read it, as it is a well-known piece of children's literature, but I just was not that impressed.

Mary Lennox is a disagreeable orphan who comes to live at her uncle's manor, Misselthwaite. Born in India, Mary is accustomed to having servants so everything for her - she does not even know how to put on her own clothes. Misselthwaite is a strange place to live. Many of the rooms are locked up, and Mary hears an unexplainable crying sound at night. Most mysteriously, perhaps, is the rumours of a secret garden, one that was Mary's aunt's favourite. When Mary's aunt, Mrs. Craven, died, Mr. Craven locked up the garden and buried the key. No one has been in the garden since, and Mary is determined to find it.

Mary is an annoying character, and I really did not sympathize with her at all. Yes, she was neglected my her parents, but even once she began to change, I still found her insufferable. Colin is another horrible child, and the awe with which Mary views him drove me crazy. The only redeemable characters were Dickon, his mother, and his sister Martha - I would have much rather read a book about their family. As well, I thought that the ending, with its focus on Mr. Craven, was out of place. We had only seen Mary's uncle one other time in the book, and all of a sudden the reader is thrown into his story, as though the children are no longer important.

All-in-all, I really did not like The Secret Garden, although I can understand why children would. However, I believe that truly great children's literature appeals to all ages, not just children. For me at least, this is not true of The Secret Garden.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 4, 2009, 5:51 pm

Book #37: A Perfect Gentle Knight by Kit Pearson

Now here is a work of Young Adult fiction that resonates with children and adults alike. Sometimes great truths and deep ideas can be found in YA books, and this newest offering by Kit Pearson is a perfect example. Pearson was a favourite of mine when I was about 8-11, and so when I saw her latest book in the library, I knew I had to read it.

A Perfect Gentle Knight is the story of the Bell children - Sebastian, Roz, Corrie, Harry, Orly, and Juliet. Their father is a professor who specializes in Shakespeare (all six children are named after a Shakespeare character), and their mother died a few years ago. To cope with their mother's death, the children start a complex game playing Knights of the Round Table. This game brings the children together, and gives them a form of security in their scary world. Lately, however, Roz has felt too old for this game; Sebastian, on the other hand, is so depressed that he increasingly loses himself in the character of Lancelot. Our heroine, Corrie (short for Cordelia), is eleven, and trying to desperately hold her family together, while attempting to make friends and live a normal life. As the year goes on, Sebastian falls deeper and deeper into trouble - trouble that Corrie does not know how to fix.

This book was simply wonderful to read; it merged my childhood love of Pearson's characters and story-telling with my more recent love of Arthurian Legend. Corrie is a complex child whose thoughts are adult enough to be interesting, but not too adult that she is an unbelievable eleven-year-old. The dynamics between the six children was very special - the Bell's have extraordinary sibling relationships.

Pearson generally deals with difficult themes in her writing. A Perfect Gentle Knight contains many different ways people cope with grief, and never did I feel as though the author was simplifying things. This really is one of those books that is perfect for any age - children will sympathize with the children's situation, and teens and adults will be able to read more into the story. It has been a long time since a children's novel has had such an impact on me - in fact, this book may have affected me more than any other "adult" novel I have read this year.

huhtikuu 3, 2009, 7:21 pm

I tried to read The Secret Garden a while ago since the 1993 film version is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I just couldn't get into it. I definitely recommend that movie version though, if you haven't seen it. It's the most beautiful "kid's movie" I've ever seen.

huhtikuu 3, 2009, 8:34 pm

wunderkind...and the music for the movie is very pretty. Winterlight is such a hauntingly beautiful song.

I obtained a copy of The Little Princess and The Secret Garden today. I plan to read them soon. Thanks for your reviews.

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 1:40 am

#211: Perfect Gentle Knight sounds very good. I am adding it to the Continent. Thanks for the great review!

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 1:58 am

Cait, another good review. I have added A Perfect Gentle Knight to the TBR pile.

I read A Secret Garden years ago when I was about 10 and I loved it then. I encouraged my daughter to read it a few years ago and she didn't think that much of it. I wonder if I would think the same if I reread it now that I am much older and wiser.

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 6:09 pm

#212 - wunderkind, I will definitely try to find the movie!

#213-215 - I hope you all enjoy these books! And, if you have not yet read it, I heartily recommend...

Book #38: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

This book goes straight to my list of top reads for the year, and is another fantastic example of children's fiction that confronts heavy issues head on. Lowry writes about the Holocaust in a way that is accessible for children, and still moving for adults.

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen is the protagonist of Number the Stars, a short novel set in 1943 Denmark. Annemarie's best friend, Ellen Rosen, is Jewish; up until now, the Nazis, who occupied Denmark from 1940 until the end of the war, had left Danish Jews alone. In October of 1943, however, word was leaked to the Jewish community that they would soon be "relocated" by the Germans. Like many Danish families, Annemarie's parents and uncle plan to send their Jewish friends to safety in unoccupied Sweden. Soon Annemarie is called upon to demonstrate her bravery, as she must play a role in saving the life of her friend.

Lowry places Annemarie in a realistic situation - Annemarie does her part to help Ellen and her family, and the role that she plays is one that suits a ten-year-old. I really dislike it when characters in children's novel act like adults, but in Number the Stars Annemarie has thoughts typical of someone her age. She is scared by Nazi soldiers, and knows that Ellen's situation is serious, but that does not stop her and Ellen from laughing and having fun too. She struggles with the idea of courage, but learns that being afraid does not make one a coward - instead, being courageous is taking action despite being afraid.

Number the Stars was a wonderful book for a very rainy, grey day - it is a touching book about courage, friendship, and hope, and is sure to bring the reader some sunshine.

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 6:55 pm

I decided to join the gang of people with this BBC list on their threads - it has been floating around Facebook lately too.

The BBC apparently believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here:

How do your reading habits stack up? bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - about a million times
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - I have read a lot, but not all
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - blah! I hated this book!
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - I have this home from the library this week
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - working on it!
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - probably the book that I have read the most times in my life
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - planning on reading it this year
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - just finished it the other day!
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce - NEVER!!
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - I also have this out from the library
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

32 read - not bad! This was fun :)

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 8:26 pm


Thanks for the excellent review of Number the Stars. This is a book I recently obtained via ebay and hope to read it soon.

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 9:06 pm

Great review of Number the Stars. I am planning on reading this sometime this year.

Also, interesting list of books from the BBC. Thanks for posting it! You're quite well-rounded!

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 10:00 pm

#216: I liked Number the Stars when I read it recently, too, but not as much as you did. I still think The Giver is the better book of hers. Oh, well, tastes differ and Number is still a very good book.

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 10:20 pm

#220 - I am going to start The Giver tomorrow, Stasia - I will let you know which I like better.

huhtikuu 4, 2009, 11:38 pm

#221: Sorry, Cait, a presumption on my part that you had already read it. My bad.

huhtikuu 5, 2009, 12:38 pm

#222: That's alright, Stasia - you know, I was surprised that I had never read it either. I think I missed a lot of children's books when I was younger, because my reading level jumped so quickly. I moved into "adult" books at a young age - I was reading Stephen King and John Grisham my the time I was 8-9 - so I never read the typical children's books. It is unfortunate, because I think I missed out on a lot - but now I just get to read them as an adult! And, you were right about The Giver - it was a much better book!

Book #39: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I am glad that I read Lowry's Number the Stars first, because I was very impressed with it, and I don't think I would have been if I had read The Giver first. Number the Stars is still a very good book, but The Giver is extraordinary!

Jonas is about to become a Twelve, the age when all children are given their future career Assignments. One of his friends, Fiona, is sure to become a Caregiver of the Old; talented Benjamin will probably work in the Rehabilitation Centre. For Jonas, the future is uncertain. He has no idea what his Assignment will be. As it turns out, Jonas is given an Assignment that is honoured above all others - an assignment that changes the way he views his very orderly world.

The Giver draws on all sorts of famous dystopian qualities - married couples are "matched," children are assigned to family units, and each family may only receive one boy child and one girl child. Population is controlled, climate is controlled, even colour is controlled. Sameness is the desired quality, and Rules are of the utmost importance. This is 1984, Brave New World or The Handmaid's Tale for children, and it is a book that portrays a world just as horrible. As Jonas gains knowledge about how the world used to be, the reader questions right along with him, and learns the value of love, beauty, and even of pain.

Lowry's world is disturbing on many levels, but particularly because it could be seen as logical. Her characters do not see colours, but live in a world that is only shades of grey. Every person has the same shade of flesh. In our world, where racial tensions and conflicts still exist, the idea of everyone being the same "colour" could be seen as positive. Climate control may also be beneficial - imagine if we could grow crops year-round. However, as Lowry points out, these regulations eliminate one of our defining human qualities - choice. In her created world, human choose nothing - not their spouses, not their careers, not even one colour of clothing over another. Yes, we may choose incorrectly some times, but in the end, isn't the idea of choice the most important thing?

huhtikuu 5, 2009, 5:21 pm

Wonderful review of The Giver!

huhtikuu 5, 2009, 5:42 pm

Thanks Linda!

huhtikuu 5, 2009, 5:53 pm

I went into the review section of this listing and gave you a thumbs up. I see that someone else did so as well. I read The Giver a long time ago. Your review prompts me to re-read it.

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 1:27 am

#223: Well, after putting my foot in my mouth earlier (a not uncommon experience), I am very glad that you liked The Giver!

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 5:02 am

#216 Great review, and now on my wish list.

#217 I stole the list too. Thanks. I've read 29, and put down about 14. Naughty!

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 4:32 pm

Book #40: Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

Here is another children's classic that I missed as a child, though I was familiar with the story, having watched the movie many times. I am sure the plot is known to you all: a pig named Wilbur is worried that he is going to be Christmas dinner, and so his friend Charlotte the spider attempts to save his life by spinning words like "Some Pig" and "Terrific" into her web, which hangs over Wilbur's pen. Also in the barnyard are Fern, the little girl who cared for Wilbur when he was a baby; Templeton, a rat who loves to eat; a goose and gander who are awaiting the birth of their goslings; and various other animals.

The antics of the farm animals are the highlights of this sweet story. I loved the goose, who speaks fast and says everything three times, and Templeton, who is a very crafty rat. White includes many lessons for young readers, specifically the value of friendship. Charlotte's Web is touching, funny at times, and I am sure it would be a great favourite for children. Unlike some of the other children's books I have read lately, Charlotte's Web does not really examine deeper themes or ideas - it is just a book for kids. It was a cute way to spend two hours, but it is not something that I would read again.

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 4:37 pm

I wonder if this is one of those books you have to read as a kid? I've heard other folks who first read it as an adult say the equivalent of, "what's the big deal?" about it. Yet, it's branded in my brain as a wonderful book to have read...but I read it in third grade. Maybe it just is perfect for a young age and evokes pleasant memories of those times?

I'm afraid to re-read it for fear it won't live up to my memory. Of course, I had the same fear with The Cricket in Times Square but then read it to my kid and still loved it.

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 4:48 pm

I think you are right, TadAD - Charlotte's Web does have to be read as a kid. Some children's books don't; I found The Giver to be wonderful when I read it yesterday. When I reread A Little Princess it was a huge letdown, and I remember loving it when I was little. I have a stack of children's classics still to read, and I am hoping they fair better than some of the ones I have read lately.

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 6:38 pm

>211 Cait86: I'm adding A Perfect Gentle Knight to my TBR list - your comments are very persuasive! I've never come across Kit Pearson before.

huhtikuu 6, 2009, 6:55 pm

>232 FlossieT: - If you like A Perfect Gentle Knight, check out Kit Pearson's trilogy about a brother and sister from England who are evacuated to Canada during WWII: The Sky is Falling, Looking at the Moon, and The Lights Go On Again. Her other books, A Handful of Time, The Daring Game, and Awake and Dreaming are great too, but the trilogy is definitely her best.

huhtikuu 7, 2009, 7:24 am

oooh I loved Charlotte's Web both when I read it as a kid and lat year when I reread it. Like you, I really like the geese, they are just hilarious. And my favourite quote from the book is this:

"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." :)

huhtikuu 7, 2009, 8:19 am

That is definitely the best quote from Charlotte's Web - what a perfect way to end the book!

huhtikuu 8, 2009, 9:13 am

Book #41: The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

I took a break from my run of Children's Classics to read this teen novel, which I am going to teach starting next week. It was quiet good, as far as teen books go; there was enough language and sexual themes to hook teens into reading, but not too much to make it awkward to discuss is class. It's unfortunate that sex and language is something teenagers look for in novels, but I would do just about anything to get my classes to read and enjoy a novel. More importantly, The Body of Christopher Creed actually has quite a few insightful passages, and explores many important themes.

Our narrator is Torey Adams, a popular football-playing boy in grade 11. He lives in a small, idyllic town where everything is perfect and nothing bad ever happens - until the day when Chris Creed, the high school weirdo, disappears. Did Chris run away? Did he kill himself? Did someone else kill him? These are the questions that the townspeople start asking themselves. Though Chris Creed is never actually seen in the novel, his presence hangs over the other characters. As the town tries to deal with what has happened, secrets are revealed, lives are ruined, and answers are never really given.

Heavy issues like stereotyping, bullying, lies vs. truth, and judgements run through The Body of Christopher Creed. Torey is a very intuitive narrator, and his character progresses a lot throughout the novel. He is especially focused on the idea of reality - do adults create their own reality? Do we construct "truth"? Can someone hang onto a lie for so long that it becomes their truth? These ideas are very easily presented for teens, and I am looking forward to discussing them with my class.

huhtikuu 8, 2009, 9:31 am

"do adults create their own reality? Do we construct "truth"? Can someone hang onto a lie for so long that it becomes their truth?"

Just love those kind of questions, sounds fascinating!

P.S. Sorry I haven't gotten back to you about Greece travel destinations. This is my last week in Spain and I don't spend as much time online as I used to. I will give you a detailed answer as soon as I get back to Greece (Tuesday)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 2009, 2:17 pm

#237 - that's ok! I figured you are still on vacation - hope you're having a great time!

I agree, those are great types of questions - hopefully my class thinks so too!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 2009, 2:16 pm

I received some book store gift certificates for my birthday, and so I spent them all yesterday. I bought:

Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway
All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy
People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
The Outcast – Sadie Jones
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

All of these authors are new to me, except for Cormac McCarthy, who I discovered this year and love!

huhtikuu 8, 2009, 2:25 pm

Cool. I picked up All the Pretty Horses from the library about a week ago. It'll be at the top of the stack soon and we can compare notes!

huhtikuu 8, 2009, 3:00 pm

#239: You got some great books! I hope you enjoy them.

huhtikuu 8, 2009, 10:47 pm

Great choices there!!! I think you will love the Mortenson and the McCarthy!!

huhtikuu 9, 2009, 2:14 am

Cool! I'm on the hold list for The Book Thief and I think I've worn my way down from like 30 to 4. Please post what you think about it when you've read it.

huhtikuu 9, 2009, 1:21 pm

#239 Looks like you made some great choices. I've read 4 of the 6 and I'll be very interested in knowing what you think of all of them.

huhtikuu 11, 2009, 7:52 am

#240-244: Thanks everyone! I am looking forward to reading them all - in fact, it is kind of difficult to decide which to read first! LOL If only all of life's decisions were this fun!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 11, 2009, 8:38 am

Book #42: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Attention all LTers: read this book.

Don't put it on the bottom of your TBR, don't list it as a book to read next year, don't forget about it - read it soon. Do not despair when the plot seems to lag. Appreciate the beauty of the language, the well constructed paragraphs of prose that flow like no other author's truly can. Push through the first 100 pages. Revel in the last 550.

I will be honest - I resisted the urge to like Margaret Atwood, and I resisted this book. I read Alias Grace earlier this year and loved it, yet I was hesitant to believe in the genius that is Atwood. I don't know why - I generally love Canadian authors, and read as many as I can. Maybe it is because Atwood has such a reputation for greatness, and I was worried I would be disappointed. Maybe it is because she is one of those love-them or hate-them authors, and I, being a bit rebellious at times, wanted to belong to the "hate" camp. Maybe it is because her books start slowly. Whatever the reason, I read the first 100 pages of The Blind Assassin weeks ago, and then stopped. I just could not get into it.

Then yesterday I picked it up again - and read the remaining 550 pages in one day. It would have been one sitting, except I needed to eat dinner. I know a lot of us have 50-page rules, but please, give this book 100 pages. After all, it is a big book, so percentage-wise, it deserves that you persevere. If you do, I think you will love it. In fact, it just may be one of those books that changes the way you think about the world.

Plot Summary: The Blind Assassin actually has four plots. Atwood uses a framing narrative, which is a structure or a story within a story within a story. Generally, these stories all fit together to prove some larger point. Think of Frankenstein, which is first a series of letters, then the story of Victor, then the story of the Creature, then the story of Felix and Safie. Or Wuthering Heights, which is actually a story told by Lockwood, who hears it from Nelly. I love framing narratives, and Atwood's is quite complex. First, we have Iris, our main narrator, who at eighty is trying to write down her life, to pass on to her absent granddaughter. We read about her daily struggles to remain independent, and her interactions with Myra and Walter, friends of her family who take care of her. Then, Iris tells us the story of her youth - of her childhood at Avilion, her younger sister Laura, and the ruin wreaked by the Great Depression. Laura, who was always an odd child, committed suicide in 1945. After she died, Iris found a manuscript of a short novel that Laura had written, and decided to have it published. This novel is The Blind Assassin. Chapters of The Blind Assassin serve as the third level of the narrative, and revolve around a young couple having a secret affair. The final level of the framing narrative is a science fiction story, which the couple in The Blind Assassin write together when they manage to meet.

Atwood moves between these four narratives perfectly - whenever you are becoming very involved in one, she switches to the next. In this way, the reader is constantly on her toes, wondering which story is coming next, trying to keep the events separate. However, it soon becomes clear that these four narratives are not separate, but very intertwined. Is the woman in The Blind Assassin Laura? Is her novel about her own experiences? Who is the man? Why did Laura kill herself? How did Iris, once a very rich woman, come to live alone, poor, with a granddaughter who refuses to see her? As Iris' story moves closer to the outbreak of WWII, the forces in her life seem at war as well - and death, betrayal, and catastrophe are looming.

In case I haven't been clear enough, let me say it again: this book is brilliant. The writing is beautiful, Iris is a complex, well-drawn character, and the narratives weave together towards an ending that is surprising, intense, and moving. The greatest strength of this book, and of Atwood in general, is the fact that her characters are not grand people doing noble deeds. Iris is ordinary, she makes many mistakes, and her life is, on the surface, not very exciting. She is true to life, and it is our ability to believe in her and her relationships - our ability to see that we too, would make the same mistakes, feel the same feelings, cause the same harm - that makes this book a genuine masterpiece.

huhtikuu 11, 2009, 8:52 am


huhtikuu 11, 2009, 8:52 am

message 236. I like your review of this book. I've added it to my tbr llist.

message 239. WOW..You have some great books there!

huhtikuu 11, 2009, 10:41 am

Great review. I've never been tempted by The Blind Assassin and yet I generally like Atwood's writing. The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace I consider brilliant, and yet I was unable to finish Oryx and Crake when I attempted it, even though I gave it three seperate tries.

huhtikuu 11, 2009, 7:55 pm

Well I've been one of those who keeps putting The Blind Assassin at the bottom of the TBR pile because it just has never seemed to appeal at the time I'm looking for something to read. But you've convinced me to get to it asap. Thanks.

huhtikuu 12, 2009, 12:48 am

I still have Alias Grace and The Robber Bride on the shelf to read, but have not done so. Don't know what it is about the Atwood that I've read so far. They only struck me as so-so. However, on your rec, Cait, I'll give this one a try - at some point. Good review, by the way.

huhtikuu 12, 2009, 3:38 pm

Thanks for all the compliments on my reviews! I really hope you all enjoy The Blind Assassin as much as I did :)

huhtikuu 12, 2009, 4:22 pm

I saw this on Lycomayflower's thread - thanks!!

Copy the questions into your own post and answer the questions.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
L. M. Montgomery

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Pride and Prejudice

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Yes! I am a known grammar-corrector :)

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Heathcliff, Lancelot (the Marion Zimmer Bradley incarnation), Robbie Turner (from Atonement), Caravaggio (The English Patient), Aragorn - hmm, these are all rather disturbed, troubled characters, aren't they?

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Anne of Green Gables - actually, the entire series!

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Anne of Green Gables

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Crime and Punishment - I could not bring myself to finish it - threw it across the room in fact.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
The Double Hook - Sheila Watson - this is known only to Can. Lit. students, and it should be much wider read!

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I would have to look up the people who have already won, and I am too lazy for that right now.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Well, they are already in the works, but I am really looking forward to the last Harry Potter movies - even though they alter the books quite a bit, I still enjoy seeing JKR's world on screen.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
I am worried about the film version of The Road. It is such an internal novel, and I am unsure how they are going to translate it to film.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I rarely remember my dreams.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
The Gossip Girl series - I watch the show too....

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Paradise Lost - I read it for a university class. Boy, was that a long semester.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I haven't seen many - just King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, and The Taming of the Shrew, none of which are obscure. I have read some lesser-known ones though - Measure for Measure, Love's Labour's Lost, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I am not well-read enough in either to decide.

18) Roth or Updike?
I have never read anything by Roth, and only one book by Updike (The Witches of Eastwick), which I thought was ok.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Haven't read either.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

21) Austen or Eliot?

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Probably books from non-English speaking authors, although I have not read a lot of American novels either.

23) What is your favorite novel?
For sentimental reasons, Anne of Green Gables. For literary reasons, Wuthering Heights.

24) Play?
The Rover - Aphra Behn

25) Poem?
Anything by P.K. Page, but particularly "Arras"

26) Essay?
I don't think I have a favourite.

27) Short story?
"Antigone" - Sheila Watson; "The Painted Door" - Sinclair Ross

28) Work of nonfiction?
I don't read a lot of nonfiction....I should fix that.

29) Who is your favorite writer?
L. M. Montgomery, Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, J. K. Rowling

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Paulo Coelho - I just don't get the appeal.

31) What is your desert island book?
Can I bring the entire Harry Potter series? Or all the "Anne" books?

32) And... what are you reading right now?
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy

huhtikuu 12, 2009, 4:52 pm


huhtikuu 12, 2009, 6:09 pm

>246 Cait86:: I adored The Blind Assassin. All the different strands made sense, it wrung me out completely and I sobbed pathetically at several points. I can't tell you how happy it has made me to find someone who also loved it as I think the last 25 reviews I've read either said "meh" or "yuk" and I was beginning to wonder if I was mad.


And it was a great review too.

huhtikuu 13, 2009, 2:03 pm

#253 Thanks for those book questions. Great fun.

#255 etc. I have owned The Blind Assassin for years. And must confess I can't remember if I have read it or not. I'm guessing not. Def think I will now after that great review.

huhtikuu 13, 2009, 2:38 pm

#254 - Glad you agree, wunderkind!

#255 - Well, if you are mad, FlossieT, then so am I (which is quite possible, actually)!

#256 - Hope you enjoy Atwood, jbeast!

huhtikuu 16, 2009, 5:51 pm

fun thread!!

huhtikuu 17, 2009, 1:17 pm

Question No. 30 - first time that I've seen someone besides that Twilight woman listed.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 17, 2009, 4:37 pm

#259: I've seen Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling mentioned on a couple of them, but this is the first I have seen Paulo Coelho mentioned.

huhtikuu 17, 2009, 7:58 pm

Thanks Susan!

Re: overrated authors - I certainly agree that Dan Brown is overrated, though I definitely disagree with whoever chose J.K. Rowling! I guess the reason I chose Coelho over Stephenie Meyer is because 1) Meyer is mostly loved by teenage girls, while Coelho has a world-wide, adult following, and 2) Meyer is probably an author who will be forgotten in about 5 years, but Coelho will most likely be around for a lot longer. So, Coelho's fans probably have, on the whole, better reading taste and more maturity - yet for some reason they enjoy his books, which I find pretentious and infantile. He always seems to be looking for some Deeper Meaning, and is smugly confident of the fact that he is wiser than his readers. I don't think Meyer considers herself a serious literary author, whereas Coelho more than likely does.

huhtikuu 18, 2009, 1:27 am

#261: Having not read any Coelho at all, there was no way I could list him as overrated. I read the first book of Meyer's, found it OK but certainly no great shakes, and really cannot understand how it has managed to spawn so many other books, but I guess since I am not a teenage girl that understanding may be beyond me. Both of my daughters enjoy the series but are not all that gung ho about it, especially Catey.

Thanks for your explanation on Coelho. I think I may just stay away from his works.

huhtikuu 18, 2009, 1:54 pm

Book #43: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy is officially my new favourite author. I am so glad I discovered his writing this year, as All the Pretty Horses his the third book of his that I have read this year, and probably the best. Luckily it is the first is a trilogy, so I have two more books to which I can look forward!

All the Pretty Horses takes place, like No Country for Old Men, around the Texas-Mexico border. The protagonist is John Grady Cole, a sixteen year old boy who decides to leave his home in Texas for the unknown of Mexico. Along with his cousin Lacey Rawlins, John Grady travels over the border with the plan of working on a Mexican ranch. He is a master with horses, an unrivaled rider, and above all, a naive young man frustrated with the world. His mother has left his father, who is dying, and his girlfriend has found happiness with another man - and so John Grady feels that Texas holds nothing for him.

While riding to Mexico, John Grady and Rawlins meet a young boy named Jimmy Blevins, who forces his company on them. Blevins is rash and angry; Rawlins is certain that he will cause trouble, and this prediction proves true. Soon the three boys encounter danger, violence, and the corrupt nature of Mexican officials.

McCarthy's novels are far from cheery - the stories are bleak and depressing, the violence is real, and the characters meet with many misfortunes. However, his novels are also beautiful - in writing, in story, and in message. John Grady suffers, but he also loves, and grows. He begins the novel a boy, and ends it a man with many life experiences. McCarthy's writing is rough and sparse at times, lyrical and descriptive at others, just like the landscape that he so richly describes.

At the centre of All the Pretty Horses are the ideas expressed in this passage:

"The boy who rode on slightly before him sat a horse not only as if he'd been born to it which he was but as if were he begot by malice or mischance into some queer land where horses never were he would have found them anyway. Would have known that there was something missing for the world to be right or he right in it and would have set forth to wander wherever it was needed for as long as it took until he came upon one and he would have known that that was what he sought and it would have been" (23).

This idea - that we all need something to be whole, and that we would instinctively search for it until we found it - is what drives John Grady. It applies not only to horses, but to his search for a country that is "his country," his need to right Blevins' wrong, and his continued love for a girl beyond his means. I find this concept fascinating - are we all on a journey to find the thing that makes us whole? Are we all destined to find it, or is it the search that is important?

McCarthy's novels are not for everyone - they are violent, and rough, but they are beautiful too.

huhtikuu 18, 2009, 3:57 pm

Thank you for the excellent review. It sounds like McCarthy's novels are thought-provoking and beautifully written. I had always stayed away from his books (other than The Road, which I liked very much), because I thought of them as books about "cowboys." I think I'll have to give him a try.

huhtikuu 18, 2009, 6:13 pm

Another great review. I read The Road earlier this year an enjoyed it. All the Pretty Horses sounds just as good, on to the TBR pile it goes.

huhtikuu 19, 2009, 12:04 am

I'm delurking to say I've been enjoying your reviews AND to ask you to come over to the 999 and 50-book threads to post your answer to #9 (If you could force...) And the rest of you all, too! "Come on down!" I think the resulting list is going to be an interesting one.

huhtikuu 19, 2009, 9:04 am

#266 - Thanks bonniebooks - I posted it on the 50-book thread! That is quite the heated discussion - some people really took offense to the word "force"!

huhtikuu 19, 2009, 9:47 am

What a great review! From your statements, it is easy to see how much you enjoy this author.

huhtikuu 19, 2009, 10:40 am

Thanks, Cait! And now a bunch of LT-ers are going to know about Double Hook and want to read it--I know I do now! :-)

huhtikuu 22, 2009, 8:32 pm

GREAT REVIEW OF ALL THE PRETTY HORSES. You captured a lot of McCarthy. Good luck with the remainder of the triology.

huhtikuu 23, 2009, 3:12 pm


huhtikuu 26, 2009, 10:43 am

Book #44: Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

This is a difficult review for me to write. I so wanted to love this book, and yet somehow, I didn't. I am still trying to sort out why, so bear with me.

As I have said (many times) before, Anne of Green Gables is my favourite novel of all time, and the entire series is one that I reread yearly. It's not that I think they are the greatest things ever written, but they were a big part of my childhood. Also, I really do think that L.M. Montgomery was a very talented author - her books are charming and touching, and Anne is a unique character. We see her grow from a skinny little eleven-year-old to a mother of six children, and even though she obviously matures, the qualities she possessed as a child are still evident in the adult. These qualities - her bookishness, her descriptive way of speaking, her vivid imagination, and her ability to make ever so many mistakes - form a character who I know and love as though she was an actual person in my life.

So, when the heirs of L.M. Montgomery commissioned a prequel to Anne of Green Gables as a marking of its 100 year anniversary, I was apprehensive. Would another author be able to capture the essence of Anne? Would she be faithful to the original, or would she take liberties with the story? Most of all, did I really need to read about Anne's life before Green Gables - if Montgomery did not feel the need to write about it, then do I need to read about it?

However, I had seen some favourable reviews of Before Green Gables, and so I went ahead and bought it, and read it. Am I glad - not really. Will it ruin my enjoyment of the "Anne" series - definitely not. Was it a faithful prequel - well, I guess it depends on the reader.

Before Green Gables is not a bad book. In fact, there were parts that I really enjoyed. I loved seeing Anne's parents, and understanding from where her personality came, and the ending - Anne's journey to Bright River, where she would meet Matthew Cuthbert - was fantastic. The rest was....well, just ok. An Anne fan, someone who has read the series once or twice, would probably enjoy this book. For me, an avid L.M.M. reader, and someone who can quote large passages of her books, Before Green Gables just missed the mark.

Wilson's Anne was still intelligent, still a book-lover, and still spoke using words far too advanced for her age. However, she wasn't quite the imaginative, curious girl that I have come to love, and her affinity for getting into "scrapes" was totally missing. As well, Wilson did not explain some of Anne's ideas - for example, Anne wanted Marilla Cuthbert to call her "Cordelia" - a name that Anne found much more romantic. Nowhere in Before Green Gables is the name Cordelia mentioned - where did Anne first hear this name?

Anne's speech was off too. Her love of words was evident, but Montgomery's Anne loved to talk - never stopped talking, in fact - and this wasn't really a quality of Wilson's Anne.

Essentially, I think Wilson was more concerned with writing about Anne's story than writing about Anne's personality. The plot followed Anne from birth right up until the moment she stepped off the train in Bright River, and Wilson certainly wrote a story full of tragic episodes. She created an intense contrast between Anne's life before Green Gables and her life after, and I definitely felt pity for Anne - but that unfailing spirit, that ability to use imagination in times of trouble, well, that was missing.

So, if you read Anne of Green Gables as a child, you will probably enjoy learning about Anne's early life. If, like me, you are an Anne extremist....well, then I wouldn't recommend Before Green Gables.

huhtikuu 26, 2009, 11:29 am

Well, Cait, as an Anne appreciator for the very qualities you admire, I think I'm going to give Before Green Gables a pass. Good review!

huhtikuu 26, 2009, 12:07 pm

#272 I've seen Before Green Gable in the bookstore but have managed to resist it for fear of being disappointed. It sounds like the author failed to develop Anne's quirky personality, which for me, was the best part of Green Gables. Like roinincats, I think I'll pass. Great review!

huhtikuu 26, 2009, 9:35 pm

Congratulations for your "hot review" posted on today's home page!

huhtikuu 26, 2009, 11:28 pm

Fantastic review Cait, thanks. Having just re-read Anne of Green Gables for the zillionth time over the weekend, I feel the particular relevance of what you say about Anne's personality. It's like the prequels for the Little House series, about Laura's mother when she was growing up. I've never read those, only flicked through them, which was enough for me. The personality of Laura and her family are the captivating things in the Little House books - not only in the people, but in the narrator. The prequels entirely miss that feeling, and all the values and delights of that world.

Also like what you say about why you love Anne. People who read Montgomery as children and young adolescents have an affinity with the books throughout life that people reading them as adults for the first time never ever get.

huhtikuu 27, 2009, 1:39 am

#272: I am giving that one a pass as well!

huhtikuu 28, 2009, 9:56 am

I'm simply stopping by to congratulate you again for your "hot review" of Before Green Gables.

There are five hot reviews listed on today's home page including yours, one for JoycePA, TrishNYC, girlunderglass and Cauterize.

WOW! I think this is an incredible feat, and I'm feeling very fortunate to have found this wonderful group!

huhtikuu 29, 2009, 6:36 pm

Thanks for the info on McCarthy -- I've been toying with one of his on my shelf. And when I don't need 'happy' I'll give it a whirl.

toukokuu 1, 2009, 7:43 pm

It has been a very, very long week of teaching, and so I haven't managed to get much reading done. I am about 1/5 of the way through People of the Book and I am enjoying it so far. Hopefully I will finish it tomorrow!

Thanks everyone for the comments on my reviews, and for the thumbs up. It is so cool seeing your own reviews on the home page! We all certainly do belong to a phenomenal group - it is wonderful reading everyone's thoughts, and comparing reading tastes. Every day new members join this group, and I can certainly see the attraction - each member brings something interesting and unique to our many conversations!!

Have a good night, 75ers!

toukokuu 3, 2009, 11:10 am

Sigh - I am no further along in People of the Book. I just have not had any time to read this weekend :(

However, I did see Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of West Side Story last night with my best friend, and it was fantastic!! Stratford does a great run of plays every summer, and this year we are determined to see West Side Story, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cyrano de Bergerac, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and The Importance of Being Earnest - and, if you are under 30, then tickets are only $25!!

A visit with my best friend Candice also means a book swap (as if I need more books!). I gave her The Blind Assassin, All the Pretty Horses, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, On the Road, Any Known Blood, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and The Reader.

From Candice I borrowed:
The Book of Negroes
The Remains of the Day
Cry, the Beloved Country
The Queen's Fool
All Quiet on the Western Front
Life of Pi
Their Eyes Were Watching God

So, it should be a busy few months of reading!

toukokuu 3, 2009, 1:03 pm

All Quiet on the Western Front is an incredible book. Moving, devastating, informative, prepared for a rough ride and don't read it when you're feeling fragile!

toukokuu 3, 2009, 11:26 pm

#281: Wow! Some great books your friend has loaned you.

Congratulations on the Shakespeare Festival as well. I used to go to Dallas to Shakespeare in the Park a long time ago and retain very fond memories of it.

toukokuu 4, 2009, 1:21 am

#281 - Cry, the Beloved Country - Read this a long time ago when I was offered a job in South Africa (which I eventually turned down). Look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. And, while I'm no fan of Shakespeare, I love Stratford (worked nightshifts in Telford for a while, and used to make the trip to Stratford via Kidderminster on the coccasional weekend), so you've got me feeling very nostalgic on two fronts!

toukokuu 4, 2009, 1:49 am

I am yet to discover a more perfectly written and structured book than The Remains of the Day. Be prepared to accept and enjoy the digression though, because that's what the book is made up of.

That's a very lovely list of new books! :)

toukokuu 12, 2009, 4:18 pm

Wow, first post in a week, and I still haven't finished People of the Book. I might finish it tonight, but at this point, saying so would just be horribly optimisitic :P

I am looking forward to reading all of those lovely books listed above, and I have made a pact with myself that I will not buy a new book until I have read at least 25 books from my TBR list - so that could be a few months from now. Hopefully this pact holds for...oh...two weeks? LOL

I am chaperoning a field trip for the next three days, so enjoy your weeks, everyone - see you on the weekend!

toukokuu 13, 2009, 3:52 am

#286: I hope you have a great time on the field trip, Cait!

toukokuu 13, 2009, 6:11 pm

#286, oh Cait, I've made that resolution soooooo many times. So now I've shifted to one I've bought, one I've borrowed, and one on the shelves already. I wish you success!

toukokuu 16, 2009, 12:00 pm

Book #45: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

After struggling through People of the Book for about three weeks, I finally finished it the other day. It is a book that many here on LT love, and Geraldine Brooks seems to be a very popular author right now. Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to join Brooks' fans - so brace yourselves, because this is not going to be a positive review.

People of the Book has a fantastic premise: Dr. Hanna Heath is a book conservator who specializes in Hebrew manuscripts. Her work takes her to Sarajevo, Bosnia, where a rare Jewish prayer book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, has recently come to light. Hanna inspects the book, looking for clues to its long history. In the pages of the Haggadah she finds part of an insect wing, salt residue, a wine spill, and a white hair; missing from the book are the clasps that would have adorned the cover. Each of these things add to the history of the Haggadah, and so the chapters of People of the Book tell their stories, and the stories of the people connected with the book. We read about the hiding of the Haggadah during WWII, its narrow escape during the Inquisition, and its creation in Spain. People of the Book spans over 500 years - years that are linked by this prayer book, and by the lives of Jewish people across Europe.

So far so good, right? This is a pretty intriguing idea for a novel, and I was really excited to read People of the Book. In the end, however, I thought it missed the mark. Here's why:

1. I never really cared about any of the characters. There were so many stories in this book, because it was tracing the history of the Haggadah, and so each character was only around for one section of the book. Just as I was starting to get interested in one person's story, it was over, and I had to meet an entirely new cast of people. Also, the character who held the book together, Hanna, was underdrawn. I never really had enough time with her to care about her life either, yet the climax of the book revolved around her own personal crisis. When her life fell apart, I didn't care. When her life was put back together, I didn't care. Events that were supposed to evoke shock or sadness in the reader were meaningless, because I had never come to sympathize with Hanna.

2. The ending came out of nowhere. For the last few chapters, I felt like I was reading a totally different book - the plot was different, the characters were different, even the writing style was different. Hanna was doing and saying things that were inconsistent with her character, and the reasons behind the changes were feeble. Events were blown out of proportion, and problems to which I saw perfectly logical solutions were handled in extremely illogical ways. If the first 4/5 of the book were just ok, the last 1/5 was excrutiating.

3. The writing was immature. There were passages in this book that were beautiful - in fact, the entire section about the white hair was wonderful - but mostly, I found the narrative rushed and in need of an editor. Important events were glossed over, and then mass amounts of time were spent on small details and insignificant moments. Also, very little was left for the reader to piece together. Themes were so obvious that I felt I was getting hit over the head with them. I prefer when the author's messages are subtle, when I have to think about what I am reading, and so often with this book my only reaction was "ok, I get it!"

People of the Book had so much promise, and discussed so many powerful ideas, yet in my opinion its execution was poor. Brooks could have created something amazing, instead of something mediocre. I wanted to love this book, but in the end I was just disappointed.

toukokuu 16, 2009, 5:59 pm

Excellent review. Not one for the TBR mountain. Thanks.

toukokuu 16, 2009, 8:48 pm

#287 - Thanks Stasia, I did have a great time! It rained a bit, and it was an outdoors type of field trip, so there were some... trying moments... but the students had a blast, which is really the most important thing!

#288 - Thanks Laurie! So far, no new books, but then I did just spend three days in the woods, so there weren't any book stores around!

#290 - There are a lot of people who really like People of the Book - I am just not one of them! You might want to try it for yourself, just in case :)

toukokuu 16, 2009, 9:50 pm

Book #46: The Outcast by Sadie Jones

After two not-so-great reads, The Outcast was exactly what I needed to get over my reading slump. While definitely not a cheery book, The Outcast is emotionally moving, physically shocking, and beautifully written.

Sadie Jones' debut novel tells the story of Lewis Aldridge, a nineteen-year-old boy who in 1957 has just been released from a two-year prison sentence. As Lewis returns home to the small English suburb of Waterford, Jones flashes back to Lewis' childhood and relates the events leading up to his imprisonment. At the age of ten, Lewis experiences a tragedy that changes the course of his life. The next seven years are a downward spiral of violence, self-mutilation, and extreme loneliness. At seventeen, he finally commits an act that sends him to prison - much to the delight of the inhabitants of his town, who always believed that Lewis was "no good."

The Outcast also centres around Kit Carmichael, a girl who has loved Lewis her entire life. When he finally returns from prison, Lewis encounters Kit again and again. As Lewis attempts to return to a normal life, Kit is the only one who believes in him - who believes that he is good. As tensions mount in Waterford, Lewis and Kit hope for redemption, hope for freedom, and hope for a better life.

Jones is a talented author whose style appeals to me. Her prose slips from descriptive to obscure, and the reader is left to make his or her own connections between events. Lewis and Kit have complex, intense emotions, and I often found myself mirroring those emotions. The supporting cast - Lewis' family and Kit's family - are all well-drawn additions to the plot. No character or event seems extraneous, and the ending, while not cut-and-dry, is a satisfying conclusion to the novel.

Though not an overly optimistic novel, The Outcast does offer the reader a sense of hope. Jones expresses the idea that we all have our own set of personal tragedies, and while Lewis' are certainly harsher than most, as human beings we push on through the bad. We seek some form of atonement for our mistakes, we hope for an upturn in our fates, and we continue to live. Lewis and Kit do just this - though times are often bad, they continue to hope, to love, to live.

The Outcast is a fantastic first novel, and I look forward to future works by Sadie Jones.

toukokuu 17, 2009, 8:43 am

Cait - I wanted to drop a line to say thanks for bringing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society to my attention - I read it last week and it was AMAZING! My top read this year by far and now one of my all time favorites.

toukokuu 17, 2009, 8:59 am

#293 - I'm glad you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so much! It really was a wonderful book, and I never would have picked it up had I not heard so much about it here on LT :)

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 17, 2009, 4:53 pm

The Outcast is a book I have picked up so many times, I thought I owned it. Now, it officially goes on the look out list. Of course, now I will not see it again for a long time. THat's the way of the used book gods!

By the way, I hunted up and viewed a trailer for The Road movie with Viggo Mortenson. It looks quite good!

toukokuu 17, 2009, 7:08 pm

Thanks for another good review on The Outcast and another book for the TBR mountain.

#295 I have also seen the trailer for The Road and it does look really good. It will be one movie that I go to for sure.

toukokuu 18, 2009, 12:55 am

Hear hear - I agree 100% with your review of People of the Book. So many BIG issues, put down only for effect, then glossed over and forgotten. Not one issue effectively explored, except maybe, arguably, Anti-Semitism.

toukokuu 18, 2009, 8:30 am

Congratulations on two hot reviews listed on today's home page, one for People of the Book, the other for The Outcast.

Blackdog books has a hot review listed today as well.

I always feel proud when I see that members of our group get so many hot reviews.

toukokuu 18, 2009, 11:04 am

#295 - BDB, I had to go and find that trailer too, after you mentioned it, and it does look great! It seems like they added more backstory, more of the actual ending of the world, and more of The Man's wife, who was only mentioned in the book a few times. Oh, and The Outcast was one of those books that I almost bought a million times too - so I am glad I finally did!

#296, 297, 298 - Thanks for your comments! I really love writing reviews and reading everyone else's - it is so great that we can talk about books all the time! And thanks for the graphic Linda, it is lovely! :)

I am currently reading The Cellist of Sarajevo, and so far it is looking like a 5-star read - Yay!!

toukokuu 19, 2009, 12:40 pm

The Cellist of Sarajevo was a beautiful book about an ugly, but all too familiar, subject.

toukokuu 19, 2009, 3:33 pm

Book #47: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

I have read a lot of amazing books this year - books with moving, intense plotlines; books with realistic, relatable characters; books with important and difficult themes. A few have stayed with me, and are destined to become longtime favourites - books like The Blind Assassin, All the Pretty Horses, Any Known Blood, and, after today, The Cellist of Sarajevo. These are books that I will shamelessly push on my friends (and unsuspecting people in bookstores), and will reread many times in the years to come. Why? What is it in a book that speaks to us? The four books that I have listed above have very different stories, take place is diverse settings and time periods, and are each written in a unique style.

Matthew Arnold, a poet and critic in the 1800s, believed that literature should contain some sort of "high truth." Arnold, who was devoutly religious, thought that this high truth was something that all human beings could understand and take part in, and often he felt that it related to the relationship between man and God. Now, I am not a religious person, but I do believe the Arnold has something here. To me, a good piece of writing - whether novel, poem, play, work of non-fiction, whatever - is uniting. It shows the reader something about what it means to be a human being, and helps us realize that we are all connected, that we all share the same basic emotions and ideas. I am not saying that we are all identical, but I do believe that there is something in us all that unites us as mankind. Art, at its best, shows us just what that "something" is.

The Cellist of Sarajevo is, in my opinion, a piece of art that hits at a core aspect of humanity. Set in Sarajevo during the siege of the early 1990s, this novel tells the story of three people: Arrow, a female sniper fighting to free Sarajevo; Dragan, an older man tired of living; Kenan, a father working to keep his family alive. Galloway's narrative flips between these three voices, who are all linked by the horrors occurring in their city. One day a line of 22 people waiting to buy bread are killed by a bomb. A cellist witnesses this atrocity, and vows to play his cello every day for the next 22 days, sitting in the crater left by the bomb, to honour the dead.

Just as this novel shows the reader something about humanity, so does the music played by the cellist. Arrow, Kenan, and Dragan are all touched, in some way, by this music. When the cellist plays, life is worth living, Sarajevo seems beautiful again, and the enemy is very far away. Music helps these three people, all of whom were ready to give up on life, go on. Along the way, Galloway explores the ideas of hatred, of good versus evil, and the impossible decisions made by people who live with war. His prose is beautifully crafted and his message is clear - and it is one that will stay with me for a long time.

The Cellist of Sarajevo reminds me why I read - not only to get lost in worlds that are not my own, but also to see that those worlds, no matter how distant they are from mine, are really not all that different. Books that contain Arnold's "high truth" link us together, teach us something about our world, and let us know that we are not alone.

toukokuu 19, 2009, 5:39 pm


toukokuu 19, 2009, 5:44 pm

Looks like we're going to have another Hot Review in the family!

toukokuu 19, 2009, 5:47 pm

That's what I was thinking but neglected to write!

toukokuu 19, 2009, 5:52 pm

Fantastic review. This is one book I am looking forward to getting my hands on.

toukokuu 19, 2009, 9:34 pm

YAY! It's the next but one on my Mt TBR! Now I really can't wait. Thanks Cait, wonderful review.

toukokuu 19, 2009, 10:37 pm

Wonderful review! As the person who steered me to the Maus books, I trust your judgment faithfully. I can't wait to read The Cellist of Sarajevo.

toukokuu 19, 2009, 10:47 pm

What an incredible review! Your writing is poetic. Thanks!

toukokuu 20, 2009, 6:02 am

I've got The Cellist of Sarajevo waiting on my tbr pile for me to have the strength to read it! Hopefully I'll get to it soon, it sounds so wonderful.

toukokuu 20, 2009, 6:05 am

Agree with all of the above - it really makes one want to read it, it sounds so much like one of those books...

toukokuu 20, 2009, 8:54 am

ronincats was right. Please check today's home page and you will find your "hot review" The Cellist of Sarajevo.

Congratulations for yet another well written review.

toukokuu 20, 2009, 9:46 am

Cait86, that was the best review I've read all year! I was hanging onto every word--and I've already read the book! :-)

toukokuu 20, 2009, 10:19 am

#302-312 - Thank you so much everyone for your kind words! I always find writing a review to be a fun experience, but writing about The Cellist of Sarajevo was a really incredible experience, because it is such an incredible book.

toukokuu 20, 2009, 10:30 am

This thread is getting fairly long - I can't believe it is over 300 messages!! - so my new thread can be found here.