Monday, June 29, 2009

The Little Prince

I read this (or re-read it actually) by accident, because I still didn't have anything read for the Celebrate the Author challenge and today, June 29, is the birthday of Antoine De Saint-Exupery. I read it online here and although I know that it's much nicer to read it in book format and probably also in the original French, it was still as delightful as I remembered it to be.

The Little Prince is one of those children's books with a simple story and a magical message that appeals to adults as well. If it doesn't appeal then you've left it too long between re-readings. :-)

Basically, a little prince ends up on Earth and encounters an airman whose plane has crashed in the desert. They start an unlikely friendship and the airman gets to hear about the little prince's adventures on his own planet and on the planets he visited on his way to Earth.

The messages about children and how much of the beauty of childhood we lose when we become adults are wonderful. Only children understand certain things, see certain things. As adults we forget to look with our hearts, for example. We forget what's really important.

I'm sure you've all read this at some point, but if you haven't then you must.

Oh and the illustrations are fantastic. Really a part of the story.

I feel all young and innocent now! :-)

Challenges: 999 Challenge, Celebrate the Author, Classics Challenge, Orbis Terrarum

Friday, June 26, 2009

A quick update

I've slowed down with my reading in the past weeks - I'm just so tired that I fall asleep very early in the evenings and somehow a lot of my reading time has disappeared. But I wanted to tell you that I'm still here and I'm reading your blogs, even if I don't have the energy to do much else.

I hope that I'll be able to tell you about something book-related soon. I have one hour left on the audio version of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely (which I'm really enjoying) and I'm abaout halfway through reading Meg Rossoff's How I Live now (which isn't exactly what I expected, I'm finding it a very strange book).

I also started reading Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo via DailyLit, but that's going to take me a while to get through!

I hope you're all well and enjoying the summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two more challenges down!

I'm on a roll! :-) I can add two more challenges to my finished list: the Childhood Favorites Challenge and the YA Challenge.

The Childhood Favorites Challenge was hosted by Lynda from Lynda's Book Blog.

Here's what I read:
in Polish: Brzechwa Dzieciom by Jan Brzechwa
in Polish: Szosta Klepka by Malgorzata Musierowicz
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Sleeping Beauty and Other Stories

I enjoyed all of them, but that's no big surprise considering they are favorites from when I was younger! :-) Many thanks to Lynda for hosting, I enjoyed this!


The Young Adult Challenge was hosted by J. Kaye. It's actually running till the end of the year, so I'm really early, but it seems that YA is my preferred genre this year, probably because I need something light to offset the real life stuff that's been going on.

Anyway, here's what I read:
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Messenger by Lois Lowry
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

So many of these were good! If I had to choose, I'd say that Twilight, Life as We Knew It and The Outsiders were my favorites - but all the others were great too!

Thanks J.Kaye, this was great! :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Anne of Avonlea

Ah, what can I say about the lovely Anne with an 'e'? I loved the Anne books when I was a child and am re-reading the whole series now - it's still just as good!

In the second book, Anne of Avonlea, we get more of life in Green Gables and its surroundings, this time with the addition of Davy and Dora, twins who are now under Marilla and Anne's care. Anne has started teaching and is trying out her methods, with mixed success. By the end of the book she's quite the young woman and off to college - can't wait to start the next one now.

I love Anne. There is no limit to how many times I can say that on this blog. She's a beautiful character and the books are simply magical. Oh and the films made by Canadian tv are amazing too. If you still haven't discovered this series, it's time! :-)

Challenges: 999 Challenge, Centuries Challenge, Childhood Favorites

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Once Upon a Time III Challenge completed

Happy Midsummer! :-) And another edition of Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge has finished. I did better than I did last year and even managed to read Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which bumps me up from Quest the First to Quest the Third status. Yay!

Here's what I read (see here for what I planned to read)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Sleeping Beauty and Other Stories
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip

Plus: A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

All fantasy and fairy tales... none of these books thrilled me to the core or anything, but I did enjoy reading them... With a lot of fantasy, I find that I want to like it more than I do in the end. But I still want to explore more and am waiting for next year's challenge!

Thanks Carl for hosting, this was fun!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream

I haven't read any Shakespeare for ages, but I needed a book for the Every Month is a Holiday challenge and it also increased my numbers of the Once Upon a Time III challenge, so I went for it.

I remember why I don't read a lot of Shakespeare - although I understand the story through the strange wordings, I still don't understand every single line. That in itself isn't a problem, but I WANT to understand every single line. Every single word even.

When I was in college we had an English Lit professor who taught Shakespeare plays as a class - one play per semester. You went through the play word by word and got to understand it all. I loved that level of detail. Reading A Midsummer Night's Dream in a more relaxed way, like I just did, feels like I cheated and like I've been cheated too.

I liked it though. I'm pagan so anything about the magical Midsummer would appeal to me anyway and I loved reading about the havoc wreaked by these particular fairies. I'd never read any of Shakespeare's 'lighter' plays so this was new territory for me... who knew that he'd have fairies in his plays? Although he does have witches and ghosts so maybe it shouldn't have been that surprising.

Anyway. I won't go through the plot because most of you probably know it. But I will say that if you have never read it, it's worth picking it up. It's especially worth it to follow Carl's lead and read it in June, around Midsummer itself. Makes you feel magical yourself!

Challenges: 999 Challenge, Centuries Challenge, Classics Challenge, Every Month is a Holiday, Once Upon a Time III, Orbis Terrarum

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Banned Book Challenge finished!

And another one down... I'm not doing too badly this year, considering that I'm putting less pressure on myself to finish the challenges I signed up for. Mostly because it's humanly impossible to finish all the challenges I signed up for!

This was my second time participating in the Banned Book Challenge and I enjoyed it just as much. Why are some of the best books questioned or banned? I think this issue is really serious, we get so much out of books that we identify with, especially if we're not mainstream, and to ban these is a crime.

I had lots of interesting books on my original list, as always, but here's what I read in the end:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The only one of these that was only ok was Suite Francaise, I loved all the others.

I'll definitely be doing this again next year and hope to read everything on that list at some point!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Study in Scarlet

I'd never read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and when I saw that they were available on The Literature Network I figured it was high time. When I started to read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, however, there were immediate references to A Study in Scarlet, which is how I learned that this one actually came first. I love bits of information like this!

A Study in Scarlet was published in 1887 and is the first of the Sherlock Holmes stories. It is also the first of Arthur Conan Doyle's books to be published. It is the book where Holmes and Watson meet and describes the first crime that Watson witnesses Holmes solving.

I loved the detective part of the story as much as I loved the recent Agatha Christie I read. I loved following clue by clue and seeing how Sherlock Holmes solved the crime. But I got bored with the bit in the middle, where the story went to a Mormon community in the US and where we saw how the victim and the murderer met and what happened between them. I wanted more of Watson and Sherlock!

Nevertheless, I will certainly be following this up with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Challenges: 999 Challenge, Classics Challenge, Decades Challenge, Suspense & Thriller Challenge

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anatomy of a Boyfriend

Boy, did this bring me back! Daria Snadowsky's coming-of-age book caught all the emotions on paper so well, that I couldn't help but reminisce to that time in my own life... That's always a sign of a good book!

Dominique is 17 and doesn't really have much experience with boys - until she meets Wes. They start dating and then fooling around. Their time together has many firsts for them both and the I thought that the author described them to a T. The strength of Dominique's emotions was so apparent and so raw, it hurt to remember that intensity sometimes.

Snadowsky also added an extra dimension to the story - choosing a college and going off to college - without your high school boyfriend. So hard when you think that your high school boyfriend is all that there is to life.

This book has been comopared to Judy Blume's Forever and Judy Blume liked it herself - can you get better praise than that?

If you like teen literature then I highly recommend this. But be warned, it'll probably take you back to when you were young (and stupid) too! :-)

Challenges: YA Romance, Young Adult Challenge

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ombria in Shadow

Ombria in Shadow was my second book by fantasy author Patricia McKillip and I liked it much more than the first one I read, Winter Rose.

The story takes place in the city of Ombria - a city that is changing into a dark, terrible place after the death of the Prince. The new Prince is only a little boy, after all, and there is a powerful witch who controls him. And she doesn't want what's best for the city at all... Thankfully, in the shadows there exists a whole community of beings who can help return Ombria to what it's supposed to be.

I liked the magical feel to this book, it really was like reading a fairy tale. I also liked the characterisation - I had no trouble believing in their existence and motivations. If you like fantasy, you might want to try this one.

Challenges: 2nds Challenge, 999 Challenge, Once Upon a Time III, Support Your Local Library

Monday, June 8, 2009

Southern Reading Challenge

"It's that time of year!", says Maggie from Maggie Reads. That time is the start of the Southern Reading Challenge, which I absolutely loved participating in last year and so can't possibly miss out on this year.

Maggie's challenge runs from May 15 to August 15 and requires us to read 3 books that have something to do with the Southern US. For details check out the challenge post.

I think my list of possibles is a bit long, but so what! :-)

Completed: 2/3 as of 29 July 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
Murder on a Bad Hair Day by Anne George

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Handmaid's Tale

I love Margaret Atwood. She's seriously one of the best writers around. I haven't read all her books yet and I'm glad for that, because I have so much to still look forward to. The one I just finished, The Handmaid's Tale, was so powerful that I even had dreams about it!

It's the story of Offred, told from her own perspective, in a kind of diary format. Offred lives sometime in the future, after we've ruined the environment to a disastrous extent and have to live with nuclear explosions and contamination. Offred's world forms in order to try and make things better than they were before - but as Offred herself says at some point, 'better' always means 'worse' for someone.

Offred's only purpose in the new world order is to breed. There is a whole class of girls like her, girls who make children for those who can't and are of higher societal (moral) standing. She lives pretty much in isolation, with only her thoughts and memories for company. Memories of the husband and child that were taken away from her.

All women are compartmentalised in this world. They are either there for breed or to be wives or to clean houses or to be prostitutes. Shades of grey don't exist. It's terrifying.

The Handmaid's Tale is a creepy book. It's a frightening book, all the more so because I think it could happen. The fanatics who control the new world exist in ours too, they just don't have as much power. Yet? Let's hope that the fact that such books are written and read (and there seem to be more and more of them in YA literature) will teach the younger generations respect for the environment and for humankind and thus help us avoid realities like the one in Atwood's book.

If you haven't read this yet, you must. That's all there is to it really.

Challenges: 1% Well-Read Challenge, 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Banned Book Challenge, Classics Challenge, Eco Reading Challenge, It's the End of the World, Orbis Terrarum

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Messenger is the last book in Lois Lowry's loose dystopian trilogy. It tells the further story of Matty, who appears in the second book, Gathering Blue. Matty is now living in Village, a place where all the people kicked out of other communities for being somehow different or 'damaged' have formed a new society where everyone is welcome and respected. Village is ruled by Leader, who is Jonas from The Giver, which I thought was a cool touch. Kira from Gathering Blue also appears.

All is not peaceful though, as some people in Village begin to change. Tensions increase, people start wanting more and more and they are willing to trade anything for it. Anything. Webs of deceit and intolerance form and breaking them will cost some villagers their lives.

I enjoyed reading Messenger, but only about as much as I enjoyed Gathering Blue. Neither can compare with The Giver though! :-)

Challenges: It's the End of the World, Young Adult Challenge

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


After reading Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl, I immediately ordered Sweethearts, the other book by this author and bloggers are enjoying. I wasn't disappointed.

Sweethearts is about Jennifer, who was brought up by a hard-working single Mom and who spent all her time with her best (and only) friend Cameron. Then there was an 'incident' at Cameron's house and Jennifer started to understand that Cameron's family life was very different to her own. She didn't really get to find out more though, because soon after that Cameron disappeared. Jennifer transformed herself into popular and attractive Jenna, the girl that she 'should' be. She was able to keep up the pretense until Cameron showed up in her life again and reminded her that who she really is is deeply hidden somewhere within.

I loved the identity aspect of this book. Although it's for a different audience, it addressed some of the same issues as The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller, which I read recently and loved. It adressed who we think we are and why we sometimes act like people we're not. It showed the importance that we put on being/feeling accepted, but also on being/feeling understood and truly known. These aren't issues that are only for teens, I'm sure many of us struggle with them . Another recommended book!

I finished this a few days ago, still in May, and it brings my May total to 16, which is the highest number of books I've EVER read in one month. I'm very pleased with myself right now. :-)

Challenges: 2nds Challenge, 999 Challenge, Countdown Challenge, YA Romance Challenge, YA Challenge