Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ender's Game

I'd heard so many good things about Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, but somehow I expected something completely different. I did really like it, it just wasn't what I thought it would be.

First of all, I thought it was a kids' book. It is, but the other YA stuff I've been reading lately has been WAY more innocent. I guess I wasn't expecting this to be so dark and serious. But I loved the way Ender developed, the way the story developed, the action, the other characters. I'd never read any book that's as much of a 'boy book' as this - guns, armies, strategy. It really opened my eyes to a whole new world of books - and this is the first in a series, I wonder if the following books are any good, has anyone read them?

I can't believe how young the kids in the book are! At the beginning, when he enrolls in military school, Ender is only 6 years old! I kept forgetting that and remembered only when it was mentioned in the text. Social commentary?

It has to be mentioned that this is total science fiction, aliens included. So if you don't like science fiction you probably won't like this. But you would be missing out!

The books ends on an interesting note, so I'm very tempted to get the next one!

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Finally, an audiobook that I REALLY enjoyed! Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is his account of growing up in 1950s Iowa - it's interesting, it's funny and it sure made my ironing time much more exciting :-). I could actually see the 1950s in my head while listening and I really loved it. Made me appreciate the simple things in life more.

Anyway, I think that memoirs are great as audiobooks because someone is actually telling you a story; I'll be on the lookout for others. I'll also be on the lookout for more Bill Bryson - I have his A Short History of Nearly Everything sitting on my bookshelf, but I just don't think that I'll get to it this year...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seconds 2008

Joy is hosting the second Seconds challenge! :-) here's what she says about it:

WHO: Anybody
WHAT: Read 4 books by authors that you have only read one other
WHERE: Mister Linky will keep track of monthly books read here on "Thoughts of Joy..."
WHEN: September, October, November and December, 2008
WHY: Because we love to read...why else?
Great! I have my 4 right here:

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (I've read Norwegian Wood)
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (I've read Atonement)
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (I've read The Giver)

Book to Movie Challenge and Lit Flicks Challenge

Two challenges that combine my reading and movie-watching goals, aren't I a lucky girl! :-)

Completed: ALL as of 24 November 2008 - see my wrap-up post here

The Book to Movie Challenge is hosted by Callista from SMS Book Reviews and is apparently an annual event. Cool! The challenge runs from 1 September to 1 December and requires us to read 3 books that have been made into movies. You can watch the films and compare if you want to but you don't have to. Here are my possibles:

The Lit Flicks Challenge hosted by Jessica requires us to read 5 books until 28 February next year, so I have to add 2 more to my list. For this one we have to watch at least 2 films - I'll probably watch P.S. I Love You and The Witches of Eastwick. My extra choices are:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Naming Conventions Challenge

The creative idea for this challenge makes it impossible to pass on it, so I'm in. Maria from Reading My Way Through Life is the girl behind it - go check out her blog and the detailed challenge rules!

For here, I'll just say that the challenge would be different for everyone, depending on their first name. My name is Joanna, which has 6 letters, so the challenge lasts 6 months - starting on 1 September so until 1 March 2009. As for the list, for each letter of my name I have to choose a book whose author's last name begins with that letter, whose author's first name does and/or a book with a title beginning with that letter. I'm going to do all 3 options, just because it's fun!
Completed: 10/18 as of 1 March 2009 :-(

Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Nick Hornby - How to be Good
Anna Gavalda - Hunting and Gathering

Jackson, Joshilyn - Gods in Alabama
Orwell, George - 1984
Ahern, Cecilia - P.S. I Love You
Napoli, Donna Jo - Zel
Nemirovsky, Irene - Suite Francaise
Atwood, Margaret - The Blind Assassin

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
No Future for You by Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughn
Notes on a Scandal - Zoë Heller
Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank

The Bridges of Madison County

Based on some letters and interviews, Robert James Waller tells the true story of Francesca and Robert - a love story that spans a large portion of their lifetime. It is beautiful. Francesca and Robert's love is based on four days together - it couldn't have been more because of Francesca's family commitments. But despite this their love wasn't any weaker, it survived.

It's such a simple story really and, when you really think about it, feelings of love are also simple. And yet there is a complexity to this book, something that the reader almost can't grasp.
I really liked that Francesca's kids could see the beauty of that part of their mother's life.

I liked it in general. And it's making me think about some of the things I complain about in my relationship. And about how lucky I am to be able to actually live with the man I love when life is capable of throwing so many complications in the way.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy's prize-winning book (Booker prize) was a surprise to me. I put off reading it for quite some time because it seemed too intense, too difficult, too, well, intelectual for me. I am SO grateful to the world of blogging challenges because that's what made me put it on my list.

The God of Small Things is the story of young twins Estha and Rahel, growing up in an India of intolerance and a strong insurmountable division between the Touchables and the Untouchables. But it isn't only a story about growing up - it's also a story about the strength of true love and about the lengths that disappointment in love can cause a person to go to. It is a story of unhappiness so deep and complete that it affects everyone around. It is a story of a single mother trying to bring up her two children and not get lost in the process of life. It is the story of trying to save a family from destruction and in the end destroying everything around. A story of injustice and justice and love and hate and pride. And of how children view and digest what goes on around them, not always incorrectly.

But what is amazing about The God of Small Things isn't only related to the story - it is the storytelling that sets this novel apart from others. I have never read anything like it - I just never knew where the language would take me. Arundhati Roy's use of language is incredible - lyrical, magical, surprising, alive. This book is worth reading just to discover it.

Challenges: 888 challenge, 1% Well-Read Challenge, Man Booker Challenge, Orbis Terrarum

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Movie update

I'm much better at getting my book reviews done than I am at getting films reviewed, but hey, I guess you can't do everything. Of the films I've recently seen, I absolutely loved Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride, as well as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - I hadn't seen either before and they were so incredibly original. Very highly recommended.

I also finally saw Memoirs of a Geisha, which I thought was very good. I absolutely loved the book so was a bit wary of the movie, but I thought it was very well done.

Having finished watching the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, we thought it would be a good time to watch Woody Allen's Love and Death - it was so funny! Not his best, but cetainly worth watching.

I finally got around to watching 42nd Street and really liked that as well. I love musicals in general and I have a thing for the 30s anyway. So a musical about show business in the 30s was great. :-)

Oh yeah, and I watched The Sixth Sense again - I liked it the first time around and I enjoyed it this time too, now that I knew what was going on. I didn't spot any inconsistencies, which added some extra brownie points.

The only film I didn't like recently was Mars Attacks - it starts out great, so interesting, funny and original and then kind of deteriorates. I didn't even finish it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

888 Challenge - some changes...

I wasn't making much progress in some of my original categories, so I decided to move things around a bit to make actually completing this challenge manageable. My original list is here, the changed one that I will be using from now on is below.

Check out the 888 challenge blog for info and loads of ideas!

Completed: 54/56 as of 29 November 2008

Books that have been on my Amazon wish list for ages (8/8)
1) Hunting and Gathering by Ana Gavalda
2) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
3) The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
4) Perfume by Patrick Suskind
5) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
6) Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson
7) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
8) Witch Child by Celia Rees

Classics (8/8)
1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2) The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
3) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
5) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
6) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7) Animal Farm by George Orwell
8) Winnie-the-pooh by A.A. Milne

Books in Polish (6/8)
1) Klub mało używanych dziewic - Monika Szwaja
2) Incendiary by Chris Cleave
3) Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
4) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
5) A nie mówiłam - Katarzyna Grochola
6) Różowe tabletki na uspokojenie - Katarzyna Janda
7) Tego lata, w Zawrociu - Hanna Kowalewska
8) Dziennik Irlandzki by Heinrich Boll

Prize winners (8/8)
1) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Booker Prize)
2) Murder on a Girls' Night Out (Agatha Award)
3) The Color Purple (1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Award)
4) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Newberry Medal)
5) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Booker Prize)
6) The Giver (1994 Newbery Medal)
7) Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (Man Booker 1998)
8) To Kill a Mockingbird (Pulitzer 1960)

Non-Fiction (8/8)
1) Getting Things Done by David Allen
2) Through Thick and Thin, edited by Jane Waghorn
3) The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
4) The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
5) The Truth About the Leprechaun by Bob Curran
6) The Celts, First Masters of Europe by Christiane Eluerest
7) Confessions of a Reformed Dieter by A.J. Rochester
8) The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger

Women Writers (8/8)
1) Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
2) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
3) Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
4) Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
5) Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
6) I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
7) The Boy on the Bus by Deborah Schupack
8) Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Fantasy/S-F/Supernatural (8/8)
1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
2) Stardust by Neil Gaiman
3) Undead and Unwed by Mary-Janice Davidson
4) Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
5) Jennifer Government by Max Barry
6) The Giver by Lois Lowry
7) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
8) The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue

Young Adult (8/8)
1) Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
2) Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesaar
3) Girls Under Pressure by Jacqueline Wilson
4) The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
5) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
6) The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares
7) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
8) Witch Child by Celia Rees

New Classics Challenge - August Reviews

Link to your August reviews here!