Saturday, November 29, 2008
I just finished Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a special edition of the stories, with beautiful illustrations by Felix O.C. Darley. It was my 'I author' for the A-Z Challenge hosted by Joy of Thoughts of Joy and the last book I needed to complete my list.
The stories were ok. I'm sure we studied them at school, but I couldn't remember the details. I think that I understand a lot more of Rip van Winkle now - what with the world changing so much all the time. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow made me want to see the film. Is that bad? I guess neither affected me that much, but they were entertaining. And I liked all the Dutch elements.
What affects me lots more is the fact that I finished one of my biggest challenges of the year a month early! Yay for me! :-) I had so much fun trying to fit books into this one and I discovered so many books that I may not have got to otherwise. An X author, a Z author - go check out my full list to see what else I read. The challenge included 52 books and there were way too many good ones to be able to pick favorites, so I won't even try.
I'll definitely be doing this again next year!
A.J. goes from being an obese and unhealthy woman to being a size 12 running addict. That's gotta be inspirational. She's 32 years old and an Australian comedian and performer. In fact, she lost all the weight 'in public', as part of a tv show.
Her story is realistic and has its wise moments, as well as its funny moments. Being funny is what she does, after all. I liked it, but I think you'd only enjoy it if you're also trying to lose weight. I'm sure all the 'lessons learned' by the author are simply common sense to those without weight issues.
Challenges: 888 Challenge
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The book is actually the diary of Laura, a 16-year-old girl loving in 2015 London. Her world is completely different from ours, after climate change starts to have some serious effects on the weather and environment. In her diary, she chronicles the first year of carbon rationing in the UK. Basically, each person gets a card with a certain amount of carbon points they can use in the year. Going over is simply not an option anymore. Laura describes her and her family's daily trials in this new system - how they conserve heating and are cold at night, how they stop buying anything that's not local, how using the car is an unthinkable luxury and even the bus is only for times when you have enough points on your card.
The books paints a very grim picture of where we're heading. It's even more terrifying because it is set in 2015 - not very long from now at all. And I can totally imagine this world happening. Really. I think that this is where we're heading. Hopefully the fact that Al Gore is out there and the fact that people like Saci Lloyd are writing books for teens about the consequences we are facing will help our future.
Laura, a normal teenager who likes to go to concerts and is worried about love, realises very quickly what matters and what doesn't. Watching tv is not essential. Protecting yourself and your loved ones in a storm is. It can't get any simpler.
I'd definitely recommend this book, I think that it has a very worthwhile message for us all.
Challenges: Genre Challenge, Countdown Challenge
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Have a look at the rules here.
Completed: 32/45 as of 14 July 2009
1. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant
2. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
3. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Time of Your Life by Joss Whedon
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller
3. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein
4. Wolves at the Gate by Joss Whedon et al.
5. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
6. The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
7. No Future for you by Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughn
8. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
1. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
2. The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris
3. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
4. Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella
5. Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
6. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
7. Long Way Home by Joss Whedon
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue
3. Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
4. Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda
5. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
6. The Stork Club by Imogen Edwards-Jones
1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
3. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
4. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
5. Nothing's Sacred by Lewis Black
1. P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
2. Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
3. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
4. Out by Natsuo Kirino
1. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
2. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (translated part 1 published in 2003)
1. The Good Women of China by Xinran
2. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I liked how the author's use of language created this magical world. It actually felt magical. The main character of Rois fit in there perfectly - she didn't care much about the everyday and longed to spend her time outdoors, in the forest. She also saw what others couldn't - such as figures in the wind and in the water.
I also liked how the imagery of winter was used and juxtaposed with the actual winter, hard for a rural and isolated community.
But I guess I just couldn't get into the story. I found myself looking forward to finishing and not really caring about what happened to Rois or her sister.
Have you read this or anything else by this author? What did you think? Maybe I just didn't get it?
Challenges: Mythopoeic Challenge, Genre Challenge
Monday, November 24, 2008
The Book to Movie Challenge is hosted by Callista from SMS Book Reviews and runs until 1 December. We are asked to 3 books that were made into movies - we can watch the movies if we want to. For the The Lit Flicks Challenge hosted by Jessica I needed to add an extra two books and actually watch 2 movies as well. Here's what I read:
P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
All of these were made into movies, but of course I chose the real tear-jerkers to watch. One True Thing (1998) was interesting because it had a fantastic cast led by Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellwegger. I thought that it was well-filmed, although watching it was even harder than reading this intense story.
I watched P.S. I Love You (2007) last night and had mixed feelings. I definitely didn't like all the things they changed in the storyline - including moving the main action from Dublin to New York! They even changed some of the romantic storylines. And I didn't like the different ending. Having said that, there is a lot that can be shown on film that has much more impact than the written word, so some parts were stronger. The acting was fantastic, although some characters (like Daniel) were portrayed completely differently. All in all I liked it, but I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't read the book.
So there - thanks to Callista and Jessica, I liked these challenges a lot. I had been thinking of hosting one myself, but you went ahead and it did it all for me. Thanks! :-)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (England)
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (England)
The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery (Canada)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (United States)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Canada)
So I cheated myself since all three countries are English-speaking and I didn't really branch out. Plus four of the five are children's books! But the one adult book, The Great Gatsby, didn't really appeal to me so I think I won anyway. ;-)
As part of the challenge, we had to recommend a book that we thought would end up being a classic and also read one of the other participants' recommendations. I read three from the possible classics list:
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
I loved them all!
Thanks Trish for hosting, it's been fun!
My edition included not only Kitchen itself but also a novella called Moonlight Shadow. Although it dealt with the same themes, the second novella wasn't as inspiring to me as the first.
Kitchen has that title because of the main character's affinity to kitchen in general. They make Mikage feel comfortable - I loved the way Yoshimoto's writing (and Megan Backus' translation) really let us feel this. The words made me feel warm inside.
Mikage has to deal with many issues - grief, family, loss, love, transsexuality. The way she does so is beautiful. I know that can't literally be true, that it's the writing that makes it beautiful, but that's what I felt when I read. She loses her grandmother, gains some friends and then loses another person close to her, a mother-figure. So much to cope with and yet she manages and shows so much intelligence.
The way the author phrases emotions and deep thoughts is so emotive, so starkly simple and yet with so many sub-components. Here's a passage that really spoke to me:
Why is it that we have so little choice? We live like the lowliest worms. Always defeated - defeated we make dinner, we eat, we sleep. Everyone we love is dying. Still, to cease living is unacceptable.
There were many passages like this one - another (which I can't find) spoke about how ignoring death is like ignoring life since they are connected, part of one another. Beautiful sentiments.
I'm so glad I read this and hope you will try it!
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Japanese Literature 2
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I've already read 36/100. Possible choice for this challenge are in italics. Whatever I read from now on will have a link to my thoughts.
Completed: 2/4 as of 17 August 2009
2) My Sisters Keeper - Jodi Picoult
3) Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
4) Cross Stitch/Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
5) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
6) The Bronze Horseman - Paullina Simons
7) The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
8) The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay
9) The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
10) The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
11) The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
12) To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
13) The Kite Runner - Khalod Hosseini
14) The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
15) The Bible
16) The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17) The Magician - Raymond E. Feist
18) The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel
19) Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
20) Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
21) Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
22) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
23) The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
24) Into the Wilderness - Sara Donati
25) A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
26) The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
27) Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
28) Jessica - Bryce Courtenay
29) Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
30) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
31) Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
32) A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
33) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
34) Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
35) Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes
36) The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards
37) Santaram - Gregory David Roberts
38) Pact - Jodi Picoult
39) The Tea Rose - Jennifer Donnelly
40) Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult
41) Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
42) Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
43) The Girl in Times Square - Paullina Simons
44) Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
45) This Charming Man - Marian Keyes
46) Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
47) The River God - Wilbur Smith
48) The Persimmon Tree - Bryce Courtenay
49) World Without End - Ken Follett
50) Dune - Frank Herbert
51) Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China - Jung Chang
52) April Fool's Day - Bryce Courtenay
53) Atonement - Ian McEwan
54) The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritsen
55) The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
56) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
57) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
58) Sushi for Beginners - Marian Keyes
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
60) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
61) I Know This Much Is True - Wally Lamb
62) Eragon - Christopher Paolini
63) Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden
64) Northern Lights - Philip Pullman
65) Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
66) Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer
67) Tully - Paullina Simons
68) Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
69) No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander Smith McCall
70) Watermelon - Marian Keyes
71) We Need to Talk about Kevin - Liones Shriver
72) Anybody Out There? - Marian Keyes
73) Chocolat - Joanne Harris
74) The Winter Rose - Jennifer Donnelly
75) The Denniston Rose - Jenny Pattrick
76) Killing Floor - Lee Child
77) A Really Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
78) Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
79) Nothing to Lose - Lee Child
80) Secret - Rhonda Byrne
81) The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
82) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
83) The Stand - Stephen King
84) Edmonds Cookery Book - Edmonds
85) The Potato Factory - Bryce Courtenay
86) Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married - Marian Keyes
87) The Vintner's Luck - Elizabeth Knox
88) The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
89) Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
90) The Penguin History of New Zealand - Michael King
91) London - Edward Rutherfurd
92) The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
93) Shipping News - Annie E. Proulx
94) Four Fires - Bryce Courtenay
95) Mao's Last Dancer - Li Gunxin
96) Last Chance Saloon - Marian Keyes
97) Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult
98) Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Suskind
99) The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
100) The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks
My least favorite was Crow Lake - I just couldn't get into it somehow. The Xiaolu Guo one wasn't great either. The others were all very good, with The God of Small Things, Kafka on the Shore and The Book Thief standing out among them. Those three will probably make it onto my list of favorites for the year.
Many thanks to Bethany for the idea and for hosting - I think the idea is really great and would love to see this challenge again!
I love Anne. I've loved her from the first time I read the books and I loved her even more after I saw the Canadian films. All the characters are so beautifully written. And teh stories are so simple and yet what else do you need from a story? Or from life for that matter. I think that's one of the main things I love about the Anne books - Montgomery simplifies life somehow and finds beauty in everything. Isn't that a lovely thing to strive for?
I also love the fact that now that I started I have to go on and read the rest of the series. Yay! :-)
Challenges: 888 Challenge, Classics Challenge
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I was worried that I wouldn't learn to like Lizzie. At the beginning, I found her superficial and silly. But I soon learned that there was more to her than that and I started to really like her. In fact, I see a bit of myself in her - especially in her desperation to believe in love and men. That got her heart, but to be fair it also brought her to a man that was right for her, which proves to me my own theory and it's not always bad to be trusting. ;-)
I think many of people would enjoy spending a few hours with Lizzie. I myself am already looking forward to what she gets up to in the next book.
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Genre Challenge, Unread Authors
Monday, November 17, 2008
I really didn't like the main character. She annoyed me. Really annoyed me. I thought she was whiny and I can't really stand whiny. As the story progressed she got less whiny and more wise, but I just didn't believe that it was happening that way. Her character developed in ways that didn't make sense to me.
Plus I thought that a lot of the jokes were forced. I felt that the author was actually trying to insert a certain number of national identity related jokes at certain intervals. Some of the were amusing, yes, but they still seemed to belong to a different story.
Because I didn't find the characters or their actions believable, I didn't really care about them. That's never good.
It's such a shame, because I think that the author's idea was fantastic. I just think that the development of the idea could have been a lot stronger.
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Orbis Terrarum Challenge
F. Scott Fitzgerald's book is a classic. It shows not only the surface of glittery 1920s high society in the US, but also its 'shady underbelly'. It juxtaposes the immense over-the-top parties that many lived for and went to whether they knew the host or not with the pain and sorrow of broken love - as well as other misery people wanted to forget.
Since the main driving force of the story is love and since Gatsby's love is so, how should I put it, simple and therefore strong, I think that I would definitely have been wowed by this book if I had indeed read it in high school. It would be have meant the height of romance for me, I can really imagine that. As it is, perhaps I'm too cynical now to appreciate that side of the story.
I can definitely see why it's considered a classic and enjoyed the glimpse into 1920s society. And high school students should cetrainly continue reading it, because they will be able to relate. As for me, I'm glad I finally got to it, but I have to admit I'm more than 15 years late!
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Classics Challenge
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Even though I knew what it was about I still wasn't prepared for how teary I'd get reading it. People on the metro into work must have thought I was mad, so close to crying all the time. :-) But I enjoyed it nonetheless and I'm happy I picked it up.
What made it better than other chicklit novels I've read is its realism. The situations in the books were hard and they weren't made any easier or laughed off as nothing. Plus the small twist at the end was very realistic too - made everything much more believable.
Cecilia Ahern writes with typical Irish humor too, which most of you know I enjoy. Plus the book is set in Dublin and it was nice to read about the city!
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Lit Flicks, Naming Conventions, Genre Challenge, Unread Authors
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
There are several options (visit the challenge post to see what they are), but I'm choosing to read all 12 genres.
This challenge will run from November 1 2008 – November 1 2009
The goal: To read one book in the following genres: crime fiction, detective fiction, mystery fiction, horror fiction, thriller fiction, romance fiction, science fiction, action/adventure fiction, fantasy fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, and western fiction. Specific definitions of these genres can be found in this post.
Completed: ALL 12/12 as of 15 October 2009 (visit my wrap-up post)
Crime: Out by Natsuo Kirino
Detective: Pawing through the past by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
Mystery: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Horror: Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Thriller: Code to Zero by Ken Follett
Romance: Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot
Science Fiction: The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Action/Adventure: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Fantasy: Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip
Realistic Fiction: P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
Historical Fiction: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Western: Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
I enjoyed this charming re-telling of the fairy tale of Rapunzel. I can't really remember all the details of the simple children's story I read years ago, but I am now curious to re-read that too. Donna Jo Napoli's version manages to include so much into a simple story - the aching need for children of one's own, the stirring of first love and of true love, the bitter taste of disappointment, the anger at how unfair life can sometimes be and the beautiful world we're capable of creating and believing in, even though it is based on lies.
I was surprised that although the ending was still fairy-tale like, the book itself handled some pretty dark serious issues.
And - is rapunzel really a kind of lettuce? :-)
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, YA Romance Challenge, Naming Conventions
Monday, November 10, 2008
Nymeth and Dewey are organising this year's edition of the book bloggers' version of Secret Santa. Yay! I love the Christmas season and am so excited that my love of the book blogosphere will be included in the general joy.
For details, visit here.
As my first year of blogging is coming to an end, I'm thinking about all the wonderful things it's brought me - so many great bookish friends all over the world, so many additions to my TBR list, broadened horizons as I've discovered books I never would have picked up, events like the Read-a-thon and the Christmas Swap. This online community is truly amazing and I'm very grateful to have found it and to have become part of it.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The story is told through flashes of past and present and I was surprised that in the end I had a complete picture of what happened and of the characters involved. What happens involves a Senator, a young naive girl and a car accident.
But it's not really what happens that makes this worth reading - it's the language, the way it's written. The author jumps from using very long, stream-of-consciousness-like sentences to pointed, short, effective ones. When they are alternated like that they really make an impression.
And the way thougths and feelings and memories are described... I've never read anything quite like it. Plus, how Oats managed to at the same time comment on society and politics is beyond me.
This was a short book, a quick read, and I'm looking forward to discovering more of this author's work.
Challenges: New Classics Challenge
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I simply could not resist Renee's 342,745 Ways to Herd Cats challenge both because of its fantastic name and because of the list-making fun that was a part of it. The challenge required us at recommend our favorite books (I still consult the master list) and to read three books recommended by others.
My original post with my recommendations can be found here. Here are the books I read for this challenge:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (recommended by Kristen)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (recommended by Michelle, Teddy Rose, Stephanie and many others)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (recommended by Michelle, Clare, Stephanie and many others)
Needless to say, I loved all of these. And also needless to say that I will be reading off the master list of recommendations for a while yet...
Thanks, Renee, for the fabulous initiative!
Monday, November 3, 2008
My original post is here and here's what I read:
Between The Blind Assassin, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and The God of Small Things, I can't decide on a favorite... all were so good and different ways!!
Thanks Dewey, for hosting and for the opportunity to read more of the Man Booker books. There are still so many on those lists that I'd like to read, I think I'll continue on with the Complete Booker...
If you haven't read this yet, I suggest that you take the couple of hours it would take you to do so and get to it. Seriously. In today's world, this is one to read and think about. The book is narrated by a mysterious stranger in a Lahore cafe. I don't think I could describe the rest better than the book's back cover:
Invited to join him for tea, you learn his name and what led this speaker of immaculate English to seek you out. For he is more worldly that you might expect; better travelled and better educated. He knows the West better than you do.The narrative tells of what can only be described as a love affair with America - a short and passionate love affair ending in pain and betrayal.
I looked up an interview with author Mohsin Hamid in which he stated that how you interpret the ending depends on what your world view is. What you'll get from the book will depend on how you look at what's happening around you today. Isn't that an amazing goal for an author to have? And isn't it incredible when it is accomplished?
Challenges: Man Booker Challenge, Bang Bang Challenge
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Afterwards, I read Judy Blume's Forever. I had read it when I was 11 or 12 and I remember it being really racy. It was the only YA book I found that dealt with sexuality and sex. There are many more nowadays but my school library was definitely lacking in this regard.
I liked it this time I read it too, though obviously for different reasons. I thought that the characters were portrayed as both intelligent and too young to know everything, which is a tough balance to get right. Judy Blume is a genius in my eyes though. :-)
Challenges: YA Romance Challenge