Saturday, October 31, 2009

Morrigan's Cross - and R.I.P. IV challenge done!

Wow, that book sure was fun! I'd never read anything by Nora Roberts before, I don't read romance novels like hers, but I read somewhere that the Circle Trilogy was cool and I was attracted by the promise of Irish lore. It delivered that and it threw in some vampire action too!

Morrigan's Cross is the first book in the trilogy and basically sets the stage for an apocalypse. The Morrigan, Irish goddess of the battlefield (amongst other things) singles out a group of people to lead the battle against Lilith, vampire queen. What's not to like? Plus, being the Buffy geek that I am, I was happy to see a reference to the Slayer - actually, the whole story had many Buffy similarities, though not in an annoying way.

I know that this book isn't for everyone, but if you like Celtic myths and vampires then try it! It has the required cheesy romance bits in it too, but they're easy enough to overlook!

Challenges: 1st in a series, 2010 Countdown Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Celebrate the Author (October 30), R.I.P. IV

This book concludes Carl's R.I.P. Challenge for me - great fun as always! Of the books I read... hey, I loved all of them! Here they are - Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts plus

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Linqvist
No Time for Goodbye by Lynwood Barclay
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, volume 1 by Joss Whedon et al.

Thanks Carl, for hosting, I enjoy this challenge every single year!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Finds

Happy Friday everyone! I'm home with a bit of a cold so have been able to do a bit more reading - and browsing. Don't worry, it's nothing serious, but I've accepted and embraced my paranoia since I got pregnant. Now if I can only survive the next three months without getting the flu I would be very happy!

Anyway, here are some books that have recently caught my attention:

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

3M finished the Dewey's Books Reading Challenge and I saw her review of this book as part of her wrap-up post. I love YA dystopian novels too so it immediately went on my wishlist!

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

I've heard about this book before, but raidergirl just reminded me that I never got around to reading it. It's a mathematical adventure and I love math (or I've probably forgotten the horror of math class and can now say I love it, since I'm under no obligation to learn it) so am looking forward to finally getting this.

Numbers by Rachel Ward

Charley at The Bending Bookshelf recently reviewed this - a novel about a young girl who can see a person's 'numbers', i.e. when they're going to die. Great idea for a story, I'm definitely intrigued!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, volume 1

What can I say, besides 'Buffy rules!'? :-) After watching the show a million times, I have now discovered the associated comics - not only the new Season 8 ones, but also these, older, ones.

Volume 1 of the Omnibus gathers together several comics with stories that happen before Season 1 of Buffy starts. One is about Spike and Drusilla, one is more about Dawn and the others are about Buffy's beginnings as the slayer. I loved every minute of every one. And I'm amazed at the art work - just wow.

There's nothing more I can add, except that I love Buffy on so many levels. As most of you know because I keep going on about it. If you haven't seen the show, watch it. And if you have and you want more, this series is perfect for you.

Challenges: 2010 Countdown Challenge, Graphic Novels Challenge, My Year of Reading Dangerously, R.I.P. IV

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another few challenges finished!

Another few challenges down, yay!

I finally completed the Genre Challenge, hosted by Bookworms and Tealovers. I really liked the idea of this, to read from various genres, including ones totally out of your comfort zone. Because of this challenge I picked up books I would have never read - ok, some were better and some were worse, but I'm glad I tried them. For a full list of what I read, go to my original challenge post. My favorites were as follows:

Out by Natsuo Kirino
The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

with a special mention for:
Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist (for originality)
Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot (just because it's really fun chick-lit)

I did NOT enjoy the western fiction book I chose, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey, but would be willing to try something else in this genre if anyone has any suggestions.

Anyway, thanks Bookworms and Tealovers for hosting this fabulous challenge!


The 2009 Suspense & Thriller Reading Challenge,hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog, is also now complete. Last year, I decided that I wanted to read more suspense/mystery so I'm pleased that I managed to actually do this.

For a complete list of what I read, visit my original challenge post. In the meantime, here are my favorites:

Out by Natsuo Kirino
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant
No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

with a special mention for:
Murder on a Bad Hair Day by Anne George (just because it's such a charming series)

Most surprising to me was the fact that I did not enjoy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson at all... I wanted to, what with everyone raving about it, but it just didn't work for me.

In any case, thanks J.Kaye for hosting - I hope you continue this one next year (hint, hint)!


And last but not least, the War Through Generations challenge hosted by Anna and Serenais now also complete! This year's theme was World War II, which was fairly easy for me to complete, it's a theme I'm very interested in.

Of the books I read, my favorite was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - absolutely wonderful! A special mention must be given to Night by Elie Wiesel - if you know the book, the reason for this will be obvious.

Thanks for hosting, I enjoyed this immensely and hope that you will continue next year!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Everything is Illuminated

Ha, I actually finished one! :-)

I'd been looking forward to Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated for literally years. Joe raved about it but lent the book to someone so I couldn't read it at the time... In the meantime I read the author's other book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and was very impressed. Now I finally got to the original recommendation.

And I was slightly disappointed. I liked it, but I didn't love it. And I wanted to (and expected to) love it.

I absolutely loved the language used by Alex, the Ukrainian translator. The way he expresses himself, using English words that don't quite belong together, is wonderful. Unique and clever, this way of using language is certainly impressive.

I also liked the various techniques the author used to talk about the various characters who lived during the war, and even way before. In these parts too, his use of language is beautiful and amazing. The phrasing sometimes made me wonder how long it took him to write this book - do such imaginative ways of portraying things really come naturally to some people? Or do they have to work at it?

I did not like the parts about the distant history of the main village and quickly became frustrated with how frequent/long they were at the beginning of the book. I really think that the second half was better for me because the timelines merged more and there was no more of this strange history.

If it wasn't for these parts I would have loved this sad book. It certainly is a different way of talking about the horrible nature of war and what it does to regular human nature. I'd recommend it to everyone out there, it's one of these books that I think you should try for yourself.

Challenges: 1% Well-Read, 2010 Countdown Challenge, 2nds Challenge, 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, War through the Generations

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reading bites

Well, it doesn't look like I'll actually finish another book any time soon. My attention span is getting worse and worse so I just keep starting books and then I feel like reading something different after all... so I start some more. Rather than let you think that I've fallen off the side of the Earth (again), I thought I'd at least let you know what I'm reading:

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer - it's about an American man of Ukrainian origin who travels to the Ukraine to find the family who saved his own family from the Nazis. The best part of this book is the language - especially when the guy the American hires as translator is speaking. His use of English is fantastic - clearly learned from books and very, very unique. You have to get into the swing of the language but after you do, it's great. I'm over half-way and enjoying it, but it's sad of course so I'm not always in the mood to read it...

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs - I picked this up one evening when I wanted to read, but I didn't want to read about Jews in World War II... This is simple chick-lit about a group of women who get together to knit every Friday evening. I'm just at the beginning, but from what I've read I don't expect the rest to be earth-shattering... but it's perfect for that half an hour of light reading before bedtime.

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery - another book I'm reading in the evenings, but I'm reading it in Polish and I don't always feel like reading in Polish, so... it's going slowly. It doesn't matter though, because I already know I love Anne and no matter how slowly I re-read the books, it's still as great as it was the first time I read them.

The Secret Life of the Unborn Child by Dr Thomas Verny - I always try to have a non-fiction book going on top of all the fiction I read and nowadays a lot of the non-fiction is pregnancy or baby related... This one is very interesting in that it talks about the baby understanding more than we think while it's in the womb. It also says a lot of fascinating things about how a woman's emotions and thinking influence the baby - although the author tries not to make sweeping statements like 'if you're negative your child will be depressed forever', I do wonder if he'd like to make those statements if he could... I'm only about a third into it, so I'll report back! In any case, I like the thought of my little boy being aware in there.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus - comics telling stories that happened before season 1 of Buffy began. I finally ordered this and couldn't leave it for later so I'm slowly savoring... Looking at the amazing graphics is especially good when my brain doesn't want to concentrate too hard!

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link - I have this in e-book format from the internet somewhere and just discovered that it isn't complete... as in it doesn't include all the stories that are in the print edition. Oh well, I'll read it anyway, the stories I've read so far are very strange so I haven't made up my mind about whether I'll want to read more anyway.

That's quite a lot going at the same time! Hopefully I'll manage to finish a few of these before October is over!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Into Thin Air

I thought my friend Elaine had recommended this to me, but in fact she recommened Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild - I ended up getting Into Thin Air. It's not the sort of book I would normally pick up, but I did need an adventure book for the Genre Challenge and I thought it might be interesting. I now feel like I learned a bit more about the world, a feeling I love.

Into Thin Air is Krakauer's account of the disaster that struck his and several other expeditions while they were climbing Mount Everest in 1996. Krakauer is a journalist and was doing a piece for a magazine - although he'd always been into mountain climbing so couldn't refuse the chance to climb Everest anyway. He joined one of the commercial expeditions and off he went. Thankfully, he also came back to tell the tale, although it's a story of eight climbers dying and many others only barely surviving...

First of all, I didn't know that there were commercial expeditions! I didn't know that people, sometimes people with very little climbing experience, would pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to companies that would take them up Everest with guides. It's a business and like all business, sometimes loses that feeling for the individual...which unfortunately makes disasters more likely to happen.

I also didn't know how physically taxing and outright dangerous climbing is. That's not correct - I guess I knew, I just never really thought about it. Those who climb mountains have to survive in terrible conditions and with little oxygen, meaning that they are mostly incapable of coherent thinking while up on a mountain...

And I didn't know that there is a whole people - the Sherpas - part of whose livelihood is dependent on climbing. They live in the mountains anyway and act as guides and carriers for the commercial expeditions. Often this is the job the pays most of anything that is available to them.

All in all, fascinating stuff. I'm very glad that I decided to read something so way out of my comfort zone, I am richer for it.

Krakauer insists that the story, told as truthfully as could be, needed to be told. I agree and I applaud his courage and his honesty. Parts of the story are not pretty - including bits about the author's own behavior and choices and the remorse he now feels. I'm sure this wasn't an easy story for him to tell and I thank him for deciding to put it out there.

Challenges: Genre Challenge, Dewey Decimal Challenge

Giveaway over at Trish's!

Trish is hosting a giveaway and I absolutely have to blog about it, as it's a book that I'm dying to read. Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader has been on my list for ages and got moved way up the ladder since Trish's review.

Head over to Trish's blog for more info and to read about her experience meeting the author!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Borders' 100 Favorite Books of All-Time

I saw this re-release of Borders' 100 favorite books of all-time on Another Cookie Crumbles and couldn't resist yet another list! I love lists like these and am always very intrigued by the books I'd never heard of - dangerous, since many of them end up on my TBR list!

Anyway, here it is. The ones in bold are the ones I already read and the ones with an asterix are ones I own but haven't touched yet.

1. Jane Austen – Pride & Prejudice
2. Harper Lee – To Kill A Mockingbird
3. JRR Tolkien – Lord Of The Rings*
4. Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper
5. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga* (I've read the first one...)
6. JK Rowling – Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
7. Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife
8. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
9. George Orwell – 1984*
10. Raymond E. Feist – Magician
11. Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns
12. Paullina Simons – Bronze Horsemen
13. Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram*
14. Margaret Mitchell – Gone With The Wind*
15. Bryce Courtenay – Power of One
16. Dan Brown – The Da Vinci Code
17. Dan Brown – Angels & Demons
18. Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
19. Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
20. Tim Winton – Cloud Street
21. Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner
22. Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights
23. Arthur Golden – Memoirs of Geisha
24. LM Montgomery – Anne Of Green Gables
25. Joseph Heller – Catch-22
26. Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat Pray Love*
27. Niv Mass Market Bible With Bible Guide – International Bible Society Staff and International Bible Society
28. JRR Tolkien – The Hobbit*
29. Yann Martel – Life of Pi
30. AB Facey – Fortunate Life
31. Douglas Adams – The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
32. Lewis Carroll – Alice In Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass
33. Diana Gabaldon – Cross Stich*
34. Rohinton Mistry – A Fine Balance
35. David Pelzar – A Child Called It
36. Li Cunxin – Mao’s Last Dancer
37. John Marsden – Tomorrow, When The War Began
38. Frank McCourt – Angela’s Ashes
39. Frank Herbert – Dune*
40. JD Salinger – A Catcher In The Rye
41. F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
42. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years Of Solitude
43. Bryce Courtenay – April Fool’s Day
44. Ken Follet – Pillars Of The Earth
45. Patrick Suskind – Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer
46. Matthew Reilly – Ice Station
47. Carlos Ruiz Zafon – The Shadow Of The Wind
48. Stephen Hawking – A Brief History Of Time*
49. Christopher Paolini – Eragon*
50. Louisa May Alcott – Little Women
51. Mitch Albom – Tuesdays With Morrie*
52. Jane Austen – Persuasion
53. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
54. Ian McEwan – Atonement
55. Leo Tolstory – Anna Karenina*
56. George Orwell – Animal Farm
57. Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange
58. Antoine de Saint Exupéry – The Little Prince
59. Roald Dahl – Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
60. CS Lewis – The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
61. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Love In The Time Of Cholera
62. Bill Bryson – A Short History Of Nearly Everything*
63. Fyodor Dostoevsky – Crime And Punishment*
64. Anthony Bourke – Lion Called Christian
65. Arundhati Roy – The God Of Small Things
66. Paullina Simons – Tully
67. John Grisham – A Time To Kill
68. John Grogan – Marley & Me
69. Vikram Seth – A Suitable Boy
70. Alexandre Dumas – Count Of Monte Cristo
71. Neil Gaiman – American Gods
72. Cormac McCarthy – The Road*
73. Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
74. Brendan Shanahan – In Turkey I Am Beautiful: Between Chaos And Madness In A Strange Land
75. Tim Winton – Breath
76. Bryce Courtenay – Jessica
77. Graeme Base – Animalia
78. Donna Tartt – The Secret History
79. Mario Puzo – The Godfather
80. Anne Rice – Interview With The Vampire
81. Steig Larrson – The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo
82. Stephen King – Stand
83. Helen Fielding – Bridget Jones’ Diary
84. Eckhart Tolle – New Earth
85. Matthew Reilly – Seven Ancient Wonders
86. Jung Chang – Wild Swans*
87. Nicholas Sparks – The Notebook
88. Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho
89. David Eddings – Belgariad Vol. 1: Pawn Of Prophecy; Queen Of Sorcery; Magician’s Gambit
90. Louis De Bernieres – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
91. Melina Marchetta – Looking For Alibrandi
92. Celia Ahern – PS I Love You
93. John Irving – A Prayer For Owen Meany
94. Colleen McCullough – The Thorn Birds
95. John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy Of Dunces*
96. Terry Pratchett – Good Omens
97. Hunter S. Thompson – Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas*
98. Joanne Harris – Chocolat
99. William Goldman – Princess Bride
100. Charles Dickens – Great Expectations*

So - 38 read. Not bad, but so much scope to do better! :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No Time For Goodbye

Reading a thriller like this, a real page-turner, makes me think that I don't read enough of them. Linwood Barclay's story claims to fly off the pages and it does, great reading to get your mind off other serious things.

From the cover: "You wake up. Your house is empty. Your family has disappeared without a trace...". I guessed part of what was going on, but only because the back cover says something about the killer's 'shocking identity', so I started putting the most unlikely candidates in the murderer role and came up with something that made sense.

Anyway, if you like these sorts of books then this is a good one to add to your list. Has anyone read anything else by this author? Worth getting?

Challenges: 2010 Countdown Challenge, Every Month is a Holiday, R.I.P. IV, Suspense and Thriller Challenge

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Finds

During Book Blogger Appreciation Week I discovered Vivienne's blog Serendipity and have been enjoying it immensely. When I visited today, I read her Friday Finds post and thought, hey, I should be joining in on this, what a nice way of keeping track of new books that interest me.

So here I am. Friday Finds is hosted by MizB - visit her to see what gems others have found. Here is a selection of books I added to my TBR list this week:

Walking through Walls by Phillip Smith

I originally saw this over at Trish's and Vivienne highlighted it too - I'm interested in mystic healing myself and this man's story really appealed to me.

Amazon's description:
Walking Through Walls is Philip Smith's astonishing memoir of growing up in a household where seances, talking spirits, and exorcisms were daily occurrences, and inexplicable psychic healings resulted in visitors suddenly discarding their crutches and wheelchairs or being cured of fatal diseases.
While there are benefits to having a miracle man in the house, Philip soon discovers the downside of living with a father who psychically knows everything he is doing. Surrounded by invisible spirits who tend to behave like nagging relatives, Philip looks for ways to escape his mystical home life -- including forays into sex, surfing, and even Scientology.
By turns hilarious and profound, Walking Through Walls recounts Philip Smith's often bizarre but always magical coming of age in a household that felt like a cross between Lourdes and the set of Rosemary's Baby, and shows how he managed to map out his own identity in the shadow of a father who, truly, loomed larger than life itself.

Bluestockings by Jane Robinson

Nymeth reviewed this book and I immediately added it to my list of must-haves. It is about the first women in the UK to have access to university education. I love social history and after reading Nymeth's thoughts could not resist adding it.

From Amazon:
In 1869, when five women enrolled at university for the first time in British history, the average female brain was thought to be 150 grams lighter than a man’s. Doctors warned that if women studied too hard their wombs would wither and die. When the Cambridge Senate held a vote on whether women students should be allowed official membership of the university, there was a full-scale riot. Despite the prejudice and the terrible sacrifices they faced, women from all backgrounds persevered and paved the way for the generations who have followed them since. By the 1920s, being an ‘undergraduette’ was considered quite the fashionable thing; by the 1930s, women were emerging from universities as anything from aviation engineers to professional academics. Using the words of the women themselves, Bluestockings tells their inspiring story – a story of defiance and determination, of colourful eccentricity and at times heartbreaking loneliness, as well as of passionate friendships, midnight cocoa-parties and glorious self-discovery.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Apparently this book has been getting quite a bit of blogger press, but I've only seen Kailana's review. That was enough to convince me that it's something for me though! It's a love story set against the history of Niagara Falls and I'm a sucker for interesting historical novels...

From Amazon:
It's Niagara Falls, 1915. When Bess Heath returns to her family home near the picturesque falls, it is to an unfamiliar scene - the elegance of the life she once knew has vanished. Her father is a broken man, jobless and losing hope, and her mother is struggling to keep the family afloat. Isabel, the lively, charismatic sister Bess has always relied on is almost unrecognisable. Her engagement called off, she languishes in her bedroom, brooding and refusing to eat. Through all of this Bess finds solace in Tom Cole, a man she met by chance the night she returned home. Constant, gentle and devoted to Bess, he understands better than anyone the awesome and potentially devastating power of the falls - and consoles her through a tragedy that nearly ruins her. But as their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family.

Have you read any of these? What did you add to your TBR list this week?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

To Kindle or Not To Kindle...

I opened today and saw that they're pushing the Kindle, just in time for Christmas. I'm intrigued by the Kindle experience - I know that you can get books onto it really quickly and it probably has loads of cool features, but is it satisfying? Really? Does it compare with the pleasure you get out of handling an actual book?

What do you think? Do you have one? Do you use it? Is it worth spending money on??

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2010 Countdown Challenge

I did not finish the 2009 Countdown Challenge, because I discovered that it was impossible for me to get my hands on books published in 2009 without spending a fortune. So why am I here again, doing my list for next year's challenge? Because I love the idea of this list anyway and I couldn't resist making it. I am, however, allowing myself to skip the 2010 section and add 10 books elsewhere in the list instead. I know that it's not playing by the rules but I hope that Michelle, our kind host, won't mind too much... All details are here.

Completed: 40/55 as of 6 October 2010

1. Room by Emma Donaghue

1. Geektastic by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
3. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
4. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
5. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
6. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
7. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
9. The Carbon Diaries 2017 by Saci Lloyd

Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Time of Your Life by Joss Whedon
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

1. The Tales of Beetle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
2. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
3. Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
4. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling
5. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
7. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
8. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
2666 by Roberto Bolano
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

1. No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, volume 1 by Joss Whedon et al.
3. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
4. In the Woods by Tana French
5. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
7. Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

1. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts
2. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
3. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi
6. Size 12 is not Fat by Meg Cabot

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith
The Birth House by Amy McKay
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

1. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
2. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
3. The Ivy Chronicles by Karen Quinn
4. Gods in Alabama by Joshlyn Jackson
5. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
No country for old men by Cormac McCarthy
Looking for Alaska by John Green
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Girls by Lori Lanssens
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Pretties by Scott Westerfield

2. What Mothers Do, Especially When it Seems like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen
3. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
4. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alborn
2. I'm not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti
3. Fables, volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

1. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
2. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Fables 1 by Bill Willingham
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Unless by Carol Shields

1. Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like Water for Chocolate

Beautiful book. I'm a big fan of Latino writers anyway, since many include everyday magic in their stories, and Laura Esquivel is no exception. I understand that there is a film version of Tita and Pedro's story, I wonder how such a book can be translated into film... has anyone seen it?

A quote from the San Francisco Chronicle on the back cover of my edition calls Like Water for Chocolate "A tall-tale, fairy-tale, soap-opera romance, Mexican cookbook and home remedy handbook all rolled into one". I have to say that there is no disagreeing with this... the story of Tita and Pedro's romance is so out-of-this-world that all those terms really do apply!

I don't want to say much about the plot, it is a short book and I don't want to spoil it for you. But I will share a favorite passage:

"My grandmother had a very interesting theory; she said that each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves; just as in the experiment, we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen, for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle could be any kind of food, music, caress, word or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches."

Isn't that a nice way of phrasing things? This sort of mood pervades the entire story, which aside from the regular action has things like beans that won't cook because people have been arguing - you have to sing to them so that they're happy again and then they'll cook properly.

The phrase 'like water for chocolate' is used only once in the story and means 'on the verge of boiling over'... there are so many ways to interpret that!

As I said, this is a beautiful book, definitely worth reading. The food/cooking aspect reminds me of Joanne Harris and of Alice Hoffman and also of Sarah Addison Allen so if you like any of those authors, give this great Mexican writer a try!

Challenges: 1% Well-Read, 999 Challenge, Celebrate the Author

Monday, October 5, 2009

Queen of Babble and another challenge down

I'm really enjoying Meg abot's Queen of Babble series - this was the second book, Queen of Babble in the Big City and I found it to be a great light read when my brain didn't feel like concentrating too much... which seems to be more and more often these days! The main character, Lizzie, reminds me of Becky from Kinsella's Shopaholic series and I like reading about both of them. very likeable, if you like these sorts of books!

Challenges: A-Z Challenge, Chick Lit 2


And this concludes the Chick Lit Challenge for me. The challenge was hosted by Twiga at Books and Lifeand actually lasts till the end of the year so I'm finished early! :-) Here's what I read:

Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston
The Family Way by Tony Parsons
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
The Rise and Fall of a Yummu Mummy by Polly Williams
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella
Undead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson

and Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot

I enjoyed all of these for what they are, light and enjoyable reads. Hope there's another round of this next year!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Challenge update

Another month has passed and with it more deadlines that have been missed. I still love my challenges though! :-)

The Non-Fiction Five Challenge hosted by Trish ended at the end of September and I'm still not done. But as Trish says, a pat on the back for reading at least some non-fiction is well-deserved so that's what I'm giving myself. I did manage 3/5 books and am halfway through my fourth. Here's what I finished:

The Stork Club by Imogen Edwards-Jones
We Thought you would be Prettier by Laurie Notaro
The Best Friends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine

And I'm still reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, which is a very interesting book about climbing Mount Everst. This isn't the kind of book that I would normally pick up so I'm definitely outside my comfort zone. And enjoying it! :-)


The Celebrate the Author challenge hasn't finished, but since I missed a September author it's done for me. I read loads of great books for this since the beginning of the year but didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would in general - the monthly time pressure was a bit much for me...

And the rest of my challenges are still ongoing, so we'll see what will be cut next! :-)