Monday, March 31, 2008

March Round-Up

Right. I can't believe that tomorrow it will already be April. Spring is here and it's time to do a round-up of March and the first quarter of 2008. Maybe this will convince me that signing up for every challenge I see is not a good plan! :-)

What I read in March:
1. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (5/5)
2. Animal Farm by George Orwell (5/5)
3. Girls Under Pressure by Jacqueline Wilson (5/5)
4. The Memory Keeper's Daughter (5/5)
5. Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar - Audiobook (2/5)
6. The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger (4.5/5)
7. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (4.5/5)
8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (4/5)
9. Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson (4/5)
10. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (4/5)
11. Chloe by Freya North (4/5)

11 books, I can't believe it! :-)

And here's how I'm doing with all my challenges:

100+ Reading Challenge - 19/100 read
A-Z Challenge - 15/52
888 Challenge - 9/56
Decades Challenge - 3/8
Eponymous Challenge - 3/4
Numbers Challenge - 2/5
Chunkster Challenge - 1/4
Banned Books Challenge - 2/6
Man Booker Challenge - 0/6
Title Master Reading Challenge - 0/4
Mythopoeic Challenge - 1/7
Novella Challenge - 5/6

Hmmm... not too bad, but some of them haven't been getting any attention at all! Must be rectified...

There are some new challenges starting tomorrow too, but I overlap books so I still hope to manage! :-)

Oh yes, and there are the reading projects too...
For the 1001 Books You Must Read Befor You Die project, I read 4 books in the first quarter of this year. For my Rory's Book Club project, I don't think I read any. And I only just started my trip Around the World in Books.

Soup's On!

When I saw that Ex Libris came up with a challenge that combined reading and cooking I was over the moon - the Soup's On challenge is totally my kind of thing! Like Ex Libris, I am a cookbook addict. I love, absolutely love, looking at recipes and buy cookbooks way too often. Maybe I should take a photo of my 'cooking shelves' so you all can see for yourselves... otherwise you might not believe how big my problem really is! :-)

OK, so everything about this challenge is brilliant, but one of the big things for me is that it's got me thinking about cooking again - and with that came the motivation to put some effort into my other blog, Lost in the Kitchen. I haven't been paying much attention to it until recently and now I started again I plan to continue. I'll be posting about this challenge on that blog too and my recipes will be reviewed over there, while the books themselves will be reviewed here. I hope that will work.

The challenge is this: select 6 cookbooks to read and make a recipe from each. My list of possibles is below, although I might change my mind! Check out the challenge blog for full details and to sign up.

1. WeightWatchers' Take Out Tonight
2. Vegetarian Supercook by Rose Elliot
3. The Student Cookbook (Hamlyn)
4. Jamie's Dinners by Jamie Oliver
5. The 30-Minute Cook by Nigel Slater
6. Feast by Nigella Lawson
7. The Ethnic Paris Cookbook by Charlotte Puckette and Olivia Kiang-Snaije
8. Indian Food Made Easy by Anjum Anand

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things

Another Young Adult book finished - I've been reading more than usual from this genre recently and really enjoying it. It certainly balances out heavier reads like Catch-22!

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler is a fun, cute read. It tells the story of Virginia, a teenager with 'a larger-than-life body and a medium-sized inferiority complex' as she tries to deal with some typical teenage problems, like boys, and some other issues that are not so typical and really tough to cope with.

By the end of the book Virginia realises a lot of stuff that she didn't before, she learns about herself and gets a lot of insight into how life works. She understands the importance of liking and respecting yourself. I really wish I'd read this sort of stuff when I was a teenager, it took me way longer to learn some of those lessons!

I said something similar when I blogged about Jacquelin Wilson's Girls Under Pressure a couple of days ago, but I'll say it again. I didn't think there would this much value in reading Young Adult literature, but as I'm doing it I'm realising that going back to basics is really worth doing. We get so busy in our adult lives and I'm finding it very beneficial to think about some basic issues again - and I'm finding that some of them are still problematic for me. I just hope that at 31 I'm better equipped to deal with them than I was at 15!

I seem to be very lucky with my books lately, I'm giving many of them 5 stars. This one too, it's a really good way of talking about some serious issues that teens should be exploring.

Animal Farm

George Orwell's classical political fable is so well-known that I'm surprised I hadn't read it before now. I've certainly had it long enough, it seems that I bought it secondhand in a currency that doesn't exist anymore, Belgian Francs.

It's short, a novella, and reads quickly and easily. But the ideas in it stay much longer. The story is about an animal revolution - the animals of Manor Farm revolt against the human owners and turn it into Animal Farm, running it themselves. It's a commentary on power and what it can do to those with even the best intentions - and this political side to it certainly made me think. But the part that really stuck in my mind wasn't about politics but about nature:

"Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals."
This sentiment, the original reason behing the animals' revolution, is very important today, as more and more of us start thinking about what we are doing to the planet and to other beings.

Animal Farm is considered a classic and it's easy to see why this is so. Although written in 1945, there is nothing dated about it, the ideas in it still apply. Isn't that a good reason to read it? It's also a novella so a perfect choice for the Novella Challenge. :-)

I'm giving it 5 stars and look forward to reading for of George Orwells's work. I recently heard that his lesser known works are also fantastic.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Girls Under Pressure

I finished Jacqueline Wilson's book Girls Under Pressure in no time - but to be fair it's for the teenage demographic and not very long!

I liked it! It's about a girl named Ellie who overhears someone calling her fat and decides that she needs to lose weight - now. It's a really good way of talking about eating disorders, I think. I'm nowhere near being a teenager, but I got the feeling that it all sounded natural enough and I believe that the books are quite popular with early teenage girls.

Even though it's not meant for my age group, I could relate because I haven't conquered the eating/food issues that started going wonky in my head so many years ago. I've never had a serious eating disorder, but my relationship with food is anything but healthy and I've always been overweight. I'm glad I read this book now because it reminded me of some of the basics that should be part of my attitude towards food. And since I'm striving to be a healthier person, finally, going back to basics is a good thing.

I don't really have any teenage girls in my environment, but if I did they'd be getting some presents from me! I'm giving it 5 stars simply because I really enjoyed it!

Booking Through Thursday - Cover Up

It's Friday already, but I didn't have much spare time yesterday so I'm only getting to this now. The question is:

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

If I don't know anything about a book, I do judge it by its cover. If the cover is interesting, I'll pick it up and read the book. I judge them by titles too though, so if the cover is horrible but the title sounds interesting, I'll also pick it up.

But none of these things influence my enjoyment of the book itself. I won't buy a book if the font is tiny, I'll look for another edition if I really want it though. I don't mind if it's a paperback of hardcover - I buy mostly paperbacks, but most of the books at the local library are hardcover so I read both. I don't mind if it has illustrations or not - except for history books. I prefer history-related books that have maps and illustrations, otherwise it can be quite difficult to visualise what's happenening.

As long as it looks like a book I'll read it - I don't enjoy reading things printed off the internet and such, but as far as books go I'm pretty easy!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I wasn't sure I'd enjoy Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter, it sounded too much like a modern Princess Daisy story and I loved Princess Daisy when I was a kid, I wasn't sure I'd like anyone messing with the idea. But as it turned out, my fears were unfounded, the conncection only superficial - I really enjoyed both the story and the writing and would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to get completely engrossed in a storyline.

Norah Henry gives birth to twins: a healthy baby boy and a girl with Down's Syndrome. Her husband Henry takes the decision to tell Norah that the girl died at birth and in fact secretly entrusts her care to a nurse. This happens at the very beginning of the story and the rest of the book deals with how an unspoken secret influences the lives of everyone involved.

It made me think about two things. One of them is that we can never really know any other person, an idea that I'm just now getting used to. No matter how close we are to someone, we can never truly know and understand what is going on in their minds. And no one can ever fully know us either. I find this kind of a lonely thought, but also liberating in the sense that it allows me to understand human relationships better and act on them from a different point of view.

It also made me think of disability and society's and my own attitudes towards it. This wasn't at the forefront of the story, but it was certainly there, in a book that starts out in the 1960s. I haven't had much contact with disability, so I can't presume to understand it and I'm sure that this shows. This book has made me think about things a bit differently and I hope to learn more about these issues in the future.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a 5-star book for me - it's lengthy and yet I got through it in no time, I kept wanting to go back for more. And I'm still thinking about the characters, even though I've already started reading something else!

Also reviewed at:
Melody's Reading Corner

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Isn't this button great? How could I not join this? :-) Annie from Reading, Writing and Ranting is hosting this Historical Fiction Reading Challenge and since I only had to add a couple of books to my list to do it, I decided to take the plunge.

Annie says - There is only one rule:
1) You must commit to reading 6 historical novels over 6 months.

So... between 1 April and 1 October, I plan to read six of the following:

Completed: All as of 8 September 2008 - read my wrap-up post here

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The American Boy by Andrew Taylor
Witch Child by Celia Rees
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Two of those are extra-chunky so we'll see if I end up substituting something else!

Once Upon a Time II

I love folklore. Discovering old stories and traditions that managed to reach us today from so long ago. There is something magical about the past, something over-romanticised, sure, but still magical. Same goes for mythology - so much about a culture becomes clear when you look at its myths and legends.

I also love fairy tales. I started re-discovering them quite recently, I had to get over the 'you're too old for this' block in my head. It's a real privilege to have the ability to completely lose oneself in a fairy tale. If there are actual fairies in it, so much the better!
For these two reasons and many more, I am thrilled to be taking part in Carl's Once Upon a Time II challenge. I like the idea of reading one book from each of the four categories (Fantasy, Mythology, Folklore, Fairy Tales) so I'll try for Quest the Second, with an option to switch to Quest the First if I don't manage and an option to switch to Quest the Third if I manage to fit in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I'm sure I have lying around somewhere. For details, check out Carl's original post.

Here are my possibilities - I'm having trouble locating other possibilities for the folklore section, so any recommendations would be welcome!

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue
The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

Folk Tales of the North American Indian
Cajun Tales of the Louisiana Bayous by Ray Robinson

Fairy Tales:
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008

Joy from Thoughts of Joy is hosting the Non-Fiction Five Challenge - I always try to work some non-fiction books into my reading. Since I already have a non-fiction category for the 888 challenge, I can easily join this without adding to my reading list - which is great because I'm challenge crazy!

Here are the rules:
1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2008 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky)
2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

If you're interested, you have to sign up on the challenge website.

Completed: All 5 as of 24 September - view my wrap-up post

And my choices are here - I reserve the right to change them, I'm fickle these days!
The Story of God by Robert Winston
Paris - A Secret History by Andrew Hussey
Imperium by Ryszard Kapuściński
A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Dziennik Irlandzki by Heinrich Boll
The Celts, First Masters of Europe by Christiane Eluere
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
The Truth About the Leprechaun by Bob Curran
Getting Things Done by David Allen

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gossip Girl

Yea, I finished my first audiobook! :-) It was Cecily Von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl and it was a nice and light introduction to the world of audiobooks.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this book and I didn't get much. I thought both the story and the characters were flat. Maybe I just can't relate. The books tells the story of some spoiled rich kids living in New York. They live in a different world than that of other teenagers and they know it. But their problems are the same - sex, friends, gossip, acceptance. The story went along quickly enough, but I don't really care what happens to the characters next. Ah well, you can't like everything and at least I have something to put in the 2 stars category!

But audiobooks... The idea was to force myself to go walking more often. Originally I put a lot of fast-paced music on my ipod, but music that's good to walk to isn't the sort of music that I like so that didn't go very well. The book thing worked though. I went out on Saturday morning just because I wanted to finish this book! I'm very pleased with the concept and already signed up to and got my next one - I happened upon something called The X-mas Factor by Annie Sanders and it sounded interesting - and it starts with X so it's perfect for the A-Z challenge! I was going to cheat and read Douglas Coupland's Generation X or something like that, but I can save that till next year!

The Year 1000

Robert Lacey's and Danny Danziger's book is actually called The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium. I love books like this. I love to read about what how people lived at other points of history. I find it comforting that people were always the same - those living in the year 1000 were not very different from us, it's just our environments that differ.

The book is full of interesting trivia, as well as 'proper' early European history. It is structured by month and each chapter highlights what would have been important to people at that point of the year. What I really enjoy about learning about early history is how much of what we celebrate now, of how we structure our lives, is based on what people did back then. The holidays we celebrate are based on old pagan dates, some of our traditions, such as Midsummer celebrations, date back to old rituals. Being pagan, I always look out for references to old Gods and was happy to find some here too.

I liked reading this book around Ostara and the Equinox, when I could think about the symbolism that we now associate with Easter - the bunnies, the eggs, the color yellow, all signs of fertility, of life beginning again. Spring is here! Well not here, it's actually snowing here, but in theory Spring is here!

The only minus isn't even the book's fault - it's only about England and I'd like to read more about the rest of Europe. But life looked the same in most places so until I find more books on this subject I'll have to project what I already know to other parts of the world. ;-)

Definitely 5 stars - I hope some of you out there read this, it's a short book packed with fascinating information and I think it's always useful to know something of what came before us.

Wyrd Sisters

I'm surprised to report that I finished this pretty quickly and enjoyed it! I have tried to like Terry Pratchett so many times, but this is the first book of his that I actually finish. I'm not sure why - judging by my other interests and tastes, I should love everything he writes!

Wyrd Sisters is about three witches in the Discworld - it's the sixth or seventh book in the series but it's the one that introduces the witch characters so I thought I'd start with this one rather than the real first one. The story itself isn't spectacular or anything, but Pratchett's writing truly is fantastic. He uses so many references, so many joeks - I'm sure that I missed half of them and was still amused. It's intelligent writing and I like that.

Everything I read these days gets 4 stars and I'm waiting for a 5-star book. I was hesitating with Wyrd Sisters so it gets 4.5. :-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I feel very accomplished after having finished this book. Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is not easy to get through... I realise that it took him 10 years to write, but, at 576 pages, perhaps it was a tad long...

I enjoyed many parts of it, I enjoyed some parts of it very much. Sometimes I felt frustrated. Sometimes I felt bored. Sometimes I laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all. At times I was engrossed in what was going on and at times I yearned for something lighter or at least for something different. Is this how a soldier would feel during a war? Maybe. I know that the book is very anti-war and perhaps all these emotions were exactly what was supposed to happen.

The story takes place during World War II in Italy and is told from the point of view of American soldiers. It is written in a very specific style that sometimes got to be too much. But should I complain? I guess the war itself also 'got to be too much' for those involved.

The term 'catch-22' which is now in popular use really explains the whole atmosphere and tone of this book. The idea of going around in circles does say a lot about the futility, absurdity, senselessness of war.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Was I riveted? No. But it's worth reading anyway, both for the unique style and for the ideas presented. It goes into my 4-star basket - which is where the good books go, it seems to take a lot for me to give more stars!

Oh yes, and finishing this allows me to took one off from the A-Z challenge, the 888 challenge, the numbers challenge, the decades challenge, the banned books challenge and the chunkster challenge. How's that for efficient? :-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Undead and Unwed - in Paris!

I finished reading MaryJanice Davidson's Undead and Unwed - the first book in the Queen Betsy series - while in Paris for the weekend. The book was excellent - what fun! The back cover describes it as 'what would happen if Carrie Bradshaw ever met a vampire' but it also bring back Buffy to me. I love Buffy, largely thanks to the brilliant Joss Whedon script. The dialogue in Undead and Unwed was really quick and witty and the story moved along well. And it was that silly-kind-of-funny that really makes me laugh - with puns galore.

The story is about a girl named Betsy who is killed and turned into a vampire - but she doesn't want to live in the shadows and participate in vamp politics or anything like that. She doesn't see why she can't just continue her life, even if she is dead. Umm, undead. She wants to hang out with her friends, go shopping for shoes and visit her Mom - not fight other vampires. But she has to come to terms with some new experiences - like learning to hunt for dinner and not being able to eat real food. And it doesn't help that the other vampires she encounters seem to think that she's the foretold Queen and won't leave her in peace.

I'm giving it 4 stars - not because it's a masterpiece of literature but because I had so much fun reading this book, I had to convince myself not to go out and buy the next one in the series right away!

And while in Paris... well, I came back with a bag full of books. As it happened, the hotel that Joe booked for us in our favorite St Germain disctrict was two steps away from what is apparently the biggest second hand English-language bookstore in continental Europe; San Francisco Books, I think it was called. How's that for meant-to-be? Around the corner was the second-biggest one. And two doors down from the pub where Joe was watching the rugby in the afternoon was a lovely quaint book shop, where I spent about an hour. And while we were deciding what to do on Sunday we happened upon, totally accidendally, the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, which I'd read about on Sassymonkey Reads just a few weeks back. Sassymonkey posted more on the history of this bookshop over at BlogHer.

I hope that all this allows you to understand the long list of books we came back with:

1. Paris - A Secret History by Andrew Hussey
2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
3. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
5. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
6. Watership Down by Richard Adams
7. The Thomas Covenant Trilogy by Stephen Donaldson
8. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. The Gathering by Anne Enright
11. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
12. A Hundered Secret Senses by Amy Tan
13. The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho
14. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The non-reading related parts of our trip to Paris were also great - I'm really developing an appreciation of France, I'd like to see more of it. Maybe Bretagne will be next! :-)

Undead and Unwed also reviewed by:
Kristi at Passion for the Page

Friday, March 14, 2008

Orbis Terrarum Challenge

Orbis Terrarum means 'the whole world' and is the title of a challenge hosted by B&b ex libris, who says:

- The Orbis Terrarum Challenge begins April 1 2008 (you are welcome to join later) Through December 20th 2008.
- For the challenge each reader is to choose 9 books (for the 9 months).
-Each book must be by an author from a different nation in our world.

Completed: ALL as of 17 November 2008 (read my wrap-up post here)

My list is made up of books I'm already reading anyway, so it's an easy one for me to join:

7. The Vanishing by Tim Krabbe (The Netherlands)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Playing Editor - Booking Through Thursday

This week, we are asked to fill in the blanks in:

_____would have been a much better book if ____.

Hmmm... I'm not sure I read a book I wanted to change in quite a while. If I had to, I'd say that

Children of Men would have been a much better book if it belonged to a different genre. What I mean is that it was SUCH a good story idea that I think it would have been better developed as a 'regular' character-focused novel rather than a thriller. I think much more could have been done with the idea.

I really can't think of anything else. I don't have the reflex to want to change storylines, I kind of just go with the flow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

I just finished Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - an engaging quick read. The story is about Miss Jean Brodie, teacher at an all-girls' school in the 1930s. Miss Brodie pays special attention to a few of the girls and tries her best to give them an ecucation that's beyond math and history. She tells them about her own life and her own ideas about life. Under Miss Brodie's influence, the girls begin to stand out from the rest of the Junior School and continue do be on the sidelines in Senior School. There is always something different about them.

The character of Miss Brodie is interesting and bizarre, worth meeting I think. The book was turned into a stage play and a film, so others must have seen something different in the story too!

4 stars - it's quick and fun, I'd recommend it.

Oh and this is my 4th book for the Novella Challenge.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Freya North's novel Chloë is my 'N' author book for the A-Z Challenge. It's been sitting on my shelf for years - in fact, I don't think I bought it myself, I think that an old roommate left it behind when she moved out. I've been kind of wanting to read it, but I wasn't sure that I would like it so I kept putting it off.

I liked it. I thought the beginning was a bit slow and it took me a while to get into it, but once I did I didn't want to put it down. It's the story of Chloë's journey of self-discovery but it's not cheesy or pretentious. Chloë's godmother dies and leaves her instructions (and money) to go to specific places in the four parts of the United Kingdom. So Chloë leaves London and travels to Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England - her adventures are interesting, amusing and thought-provoking.

Having expected a mediocre book, I'm happy to say that I give it 4 stars, recommend it readily and will be reading Freya North's other work.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hero - Booking Through Thursday

This week's question: Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?

I'm trying very hard to answer this before I read anyone else's answers... so as not to be swayed!

I have to admit that I'm more partial to female lead characters and don't have many male ones that I've been impressed by. I guess it's an identification thing, I often find male characters amusing or cool or "good people" but they don't stick with me like the female ones do.

Except for Henry from Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife. I loved Henry. I remember dreaming about him, thinking about him and generally giving him room in my head as if he were real. I loved the book he was in, the story and the writing, but also his character in itself. He was strong when faced with a very strange problem. He tried to be strong for Claire when she needed him to be. He tried to shield her. He tried to be responsible during the times when the age difference between them was really big. I found him to be both sensitive and strong, which is a combination hard for me to resist in a man. He was very real to me and I felt a huge loss when the book ended.

I'm all emotional now!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring Reading Challenge

What a great way to get focused! For the Spring Reading Challenge, just choose however many books you want to read in March, April and May. That's it!

My list is here - I want to get through these to finish the Eponymous Challenge and the Numbers Challenge, although I'm hoping to get through a few more than these to make good use of my latest trip to the bookstore!

Completed - my wrap-up post is here.

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (finished 18/03)
2. Chloë by Freya North (finished 07/03)
3. Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
4. An ABC of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
6. The Girls by Lori Lansens
7. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
8. Number9dream by David Mitchell
9. The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
10. The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger (finished 22/03)
11. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
14. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (finished 21/03)

The Novella Challenge

Now here's a challenge that can help me reach my goal of 100 books this year - the Novella Challenge - you have to choose 6 novellas and read them between April and September. And luckily for me, it seems that ones already read this year can count if you want them to. I want them to. ;-)

A novella is meant to have between 100 and 250 pages - some ideas are available on the challenge blog, more are out there on the web, look around. I have already read three that qualify:

1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
3. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

and I plan to read another three (probably more!) from the following list:

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Gabriel's Gift by Hanif Kureishi

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I am not a sane person.

Yep. I went to the bookstore again. The used bookstore, so it didn't cost me very much, but still! And when I go I tend to get everything I want, I have no self-restraint. I'm blogging about it so that I can keep track of my habit. Oh it makes me so happy, here's what I got this time:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
A Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon
Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
Affinity by Sarah Waters

Pretty good for a small second-hand book store in Brussels!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Eva Luna

Chilean author Isabel Allende has a real knack for weaving fantastic stories. My favorite book of hers is still The House of the Spirits, but Eva Luna is also excellent. The book follows Eva's life from poor beginnings to a strange influence on her country's fate. And, wow, is her life colorful! The people she meets, the decisions she makes, the life she ends up leading - the reader certainly doesn't get bored.

The story takes place in Chile and shows what life in a struggling South American nation, with both the good and the bad there for us to examine; a sort of political commentary is present somewhere in there too. It's because of all this that the book has so many layers.

Five stars - the storytelling is incredible.