Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dead Center - David Rosenfelt

This is the third Andy Carpenter novel I've read recently. As you know, this series was my personal top new series for 2007.

In this one, Andy goes to Wisconsin where his girlfriend. Laurie, is the acting chief of police to defend a young man from a multiple murder case. The man is accused of murdering two female college students who happen to be members of a cult-like group called the Centurions. In the process of the case, Andy gets wrapped up in other plots by this group.

Strengths of Dead Center: I continue to like Andy. He's a humorous and self-deprecating character with just enough wise-ass to make him interesting. I also like the fact that Rosenfelt has given him independent wealth so that makes the plots more plausible, but it also makes him admirable because of how he uses the money.

Weaknesses of Dead Center: This was not one of the better ones I've read in the series. The plot was left dangling. The bodies were found buried in the acquitted killer's backyard yet we are never told how or why. The reader has to make a lot of assumptions. Once Andy gets the young man acquitted and turns to the Centurions, it's like the author decided to start a different novel. Yes, the two plots do come together, but the reader is left with a lot of questions about both plot lines at the end.

I also did not like how Andy was able to leave Laurie behind and start a long distance relationship. He has enough money and time to live both places and move freely back and forth. What a cop out by the writer! SPOILER ENDED

Overall, I've found that all series seem to have a weak book in them. I may have found it in this one. I wouldn't recommend starting with this one. I'd only read it if you're reading all of the books, like I am, and want to make sure you know what happens from book to book. If you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Personality Recipe

The Recipe For Janis
3 parts Attractiveness
2 parts Happiness
1 part Love
Splash of Vigor
Finish off with an olive

This one is thanks to CJ. I like this one alot and "blush" I hope it does fit me.

Friday Fill-In

I'm doing it a bit differently this week...below are movie quotes. Don't stress about filling them in correctly, just put something funny or applicable, or hey, if you DO know it, feel free to fill it in correctly!

I'll have the correct fill-ins up on my blog, along with the movie title and the character name who spoke the line...AND below that my fill-in goofy answers :-) Enjoy!

1. "I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, and how it allows women to magically feed everyone in sight.
2. "Why is money always gone?"
3. "Harold, *everyone* has the right to make an ass is probably right but I thought of a mistake."
4. "Nine companions, so be it. You shall be I know this is probably The Fellowship of the Ring but I've always liked the King Arthur stories better."
5. "Nonsense, I have not yet begun to it's probably fight but my first thought was diet!
6. "Mama says they was magic shoes. They could make all my wishes come true!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to movie time with the family tomorrow my plans include seeing an old friend who's bringing 4 house guests and Sunday, I want to enjoy my visitors!

I made no attempt to really figure this out. I just had fun with it!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Favorite Reads this Year

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year? List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

I was hoping for this BTT question! I decided to make a list based on the reading challenges I did this year since that's how I kept track of most of what I read. I started this blog in July so this represents only the last half of 2007.

Book to Movie Challenge: My favorite was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

Canadian Reading Challenge: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields is in the running for my favorite of the year!

Book Awards Reading Challenge: This one was a tie. I really liked Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haight. However, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is also in the running for my personal book of the year.

2nds Challenge: I was pleasantly surprised by The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett.

Favorite New Series: This wasn't actually a reading challenge but it was a series I found this year. I am really enjoying the Andy Carpenter novels by David Rosenfelt.

Least Favorite of the Year: I know this wasn't the question, but I wanted to put it out there anyway. I absolutely hated Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell and The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell.

And now .... my favorite book of 2007!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Food Quiz

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

I like this one! I've even made a few gingerbread houses in my day!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - 2007's Best

  1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  3. And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?

1. Best new book of 2007 is hard for me because I don't tend to read that many just published books. I normally wait for paperback or just have too many books waiting to bother with brand new ones. I'm also not even sure when some of the books I liked this year were published. I do know that I read the last Harry Potter book, but I wouldn't nominate it for the year's best. I also just finished T is for Trespass, which I quite liked. That might be a nominee for best series novel of 2007.

2. I do read non-fiction - mostly parenting and school related books. I don't really have a stand out in my mind that was published this year. I do read way more fiction than non fiction.

3. Yes, sometimes I'm influenced by best of lists. However, I don't normally make a decision to read them until someone else recommends them as well. That's the great part of the book blog community - lots of ideas for great books.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I read this one for the Newbery Project as well as for the Reading Awards Challenge. It is the winner of the Newbery Award, which honors the best in children's literature. This is the same author as Because of Winn-Dixie so I guess this also qualifies as a 2nds, even though I completed that challenge.

Despereaux is a mouse who goes on a quest to save his beloved Princess Pea from the rats in the dungeon. A servant, Miggery Sow, gets involved in the rat's evil plans. The story is one part fairy tale, one part quest story, one part fantasy, and one part bedtime story. The author relates that her son's friend asked for a story about a hero with large ears, and this book is that story.

Strengths of The Tale of Despereaux: The entire story is a metaphor filled with light and dark, goodness and evil, but it is not quite so clear cut. The rats live in the darkness, or evil, dungeon, but one longs for the light. That's part of why he captures the princess. It's more morally ambiguous than it sounds which makes for excellent discussion with children. Despereaux, the mouse hero, is not a perfect character either since he broke mouse law and was sentenced to the dark of the dungeon. DiCamillo gives all the characters a great deal of nuance which caters to children's creative thinking. I'd love to do comparison and contrast maps on these characters with children.

Weaknesses of The Tale of Despereaux: At the beginning, I was somewhat annoyed when the author (or story teller) broke the "wall" and spoke directly to the reader. At first, I felt that she was being demeaning to the reader. As I continued to read, it felt more like being told a story where the story teller interjects as a part of the performance. I can see how this might annoy some people.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I think my favorite line was in the "Coda" where the story teller (author) remembers that Gregory, a character in the story, told Despereaux that "Stories are light." I could probably go on forever about the light metaphor, and probably would in a discussion group. This is another of those books that makes me want to teach fourth, fifth, or sixth grade again!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

This is the latest in the Kinsey Millhone series. I actually was a bit skeptical after my bad encounter with the latest Cornwell novel. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read another one in a long standing series. I also had to buy it in hard cover, which made me think twice!

In this one, Kinsey gets herself involved with an elderly neighbor who needs a caregiver. The caregiver turns out to be the villain and has stolen money and identities from a number of people and victimized the elderly in the past. It's fine to reveal this because the book is told both from Kinsey's point of view and from the care giver's, Solana's, point of view. So the reader does know all this information from the beginning. Kinsey's neighbor, Henry, is back and instrumental to the plot.

Strengths of T is for Trespass: I really like how Grafton has kept the series set in the late 1980s. Kinsey has to operate without cell phones and the Internet. I really like the excitement Grafton can generate because of that. In this one, I liked how the point of view shifted. Solana was such an awful person that it was interesting to get into her mind and see what she was doing. It made the book less of a mystery and more of a character study of these two women. It also made for a great suspenseful ending as they eventually had to collide. I liked how Grafton used Henry in this one. It made the friendship between him and Kinsey more clear, but it also gave him some depth, especially in his encounters with his real estate would-be girlfriend.

Weaknesses of T is for Trespass: I felt like it would be hard to pick up this book if you'd never read any of the other Millhone stories. Grafton assumed some knowledge of her character and past events in the series. But, then again, it's fairly late in this series so I'd assume that people would not be starting here.

Overall, this one renewed my faith in series books. I really enjoyed it and read it quite quickly because I was drawn into the story. I couldn't put it down in the last twenty pages. I'd highly recommend this one. Let me know what you thought about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bury the Lead by David Rosenfelt

This is the second book I've read by this author and the third one in the series. I seem to have skipped number two. I hate that because I already know how it ends before I even read it. Anyway, I'm using this one to complete the 2nds Challenge. It's replacing A Thousand Splendid Suns because I haven't gotten a copy of it yet. This will complete that challenge for me!

This is another of the Andy Carpenter books. In this one, he's defending a newspaper writer accused in a serial murder case, where the murderer used the reporter to make the crimes known a la Son of Sam. Andy's divorced in this one, but Laurie is back, along with Tara, the dog, and other characters from the first book.

Strengths of Bury the Lead: It was a fun, easy read. I really enjoy Andy's character and find him humorous, though somewhat unrealistic. His antics would have gotten him disbarred in real life by now. I enjoyed the plot of this one. The killer wasn't as obvious as it seemed, and there was a decent pay off at the end. I also really liked the side plot with Willie and the Tara Foundation.

After I reviewed the first book, CJ, a blog friend, asked how I felt about the first person narrative style. I found myself really noticing it in this one. I'm not sure if it's a strength or a weakness. I like Andy so I enjoy his view of things. But, if you weren't too sure about him, I think it would really bug you as a reader. I also think it helps that we, as readers, are really clear about what he knows, and what he couldn't know.

Weaknesses of Bury the Lead: I think the ultimate murderer was a little too far off the radar in the book. Once it was all tied together, it made sense. I didn't mind that tremendously, but I'm sure some readers would be bugged by the lack of obvious clues. They were there, but since we saw things through Andy's eyes, it took a while to make it clear.

Overall, it was a fun read. I'll probably read more in this series. Let me know what you think. If you've read the series, I'd love to know your favorite since I'm obviously not reading them in order.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Music :: Rock and Roll

  2. Insanity :: Stop the ...

  3. Curtain :: Call

  4. Nickname :: Don't like them - that's why my child's name is short

  5. Container :: Ship (I don't know why)

  6. Roast :: Pot (even though I hate them!)

  7. Thong :: Underwear

  8. Purple :: Old Woman (as in when I am an old woman I shall wear purple!)

  9. Holidays :: Travel

  10. Christmas tree :: Rockin' Around the (carols started at my house)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Themed Reading Challenge

Caribousmom is hosting the Themed Reading Challenge, which starts in January 2008. The challenge is to find a common theme between four books and read them by June 30, 2008. I was going to avoid joining another challenge, but four books seems doable, and they are already in my TBR pile.

My theme is Parenting.

My book choices are:

1. Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

2. Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman

3. The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn

4. The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine (this one was recommended by my husband)

This way I can alternate between fiction and nonfiction in 2008!

Books to Movie Challenge - Wrap Up

I finished this challenge a while ago but haven't had the chance to write up a final summary. For this one, I read:

Because of Winn-Dixie
The Devil Wears Prada
The Freedom Writers Diary

I really enjoyed the process of reading the books and comparing them to the movies. I'd say my favorite of the three ended up being Winn-Dixie. It was an incredibly sweet novel, and one that I enjoyed sharing with my daughter. As some of you may remember, I really didn't like Freedom Writers. I'm linking to my reviews if you want to read more.

Thanks to Callista for thinking this one up. It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Unless by Carol Shields

This is my third book for the Canadian Book Challenge and was recommended by John after he read my review of The Stone Diaries. This was not originally on my list for the 2nds Challenge, but it does qualify since I read The Stone Diaries first. So I'm going to go ahead and count it as book number two in that challenge as well.

This is set outside of Toronto and is a snippet of the life of Reta Winters, an author, translator, and mother. In the story, Reta is writing her second novel during a period in her life when her eldest daughter, Norah, has taken to living on the streets of Toronto and panhandling at the same intersection on a daily basis. The story is partly about how Reta copes with this, how her family survives, but also how it affects her outlook on life and the role of women.

Strengths of Unless: This is a very different novel than The Stone Diaries. This one is told consistently in Reta's voice and, more importantly, with her temperament and perspective. Norah's predicament is moving and Shields is able to render Reta's emotions without being maudlin. She is actually a quite complex and thoughtful character. I especially liked the section of the book that dealt with the word "unless" - it was philosophical but completely in keeping with Reta's character and her ponderings throughout the novel. I also liked that Shields, through Reta, addressed the roles women play in life and how that is not always reflected in discussions of art, literature, or power. The ending was very satisfying as well. The cause of Norah's trauma made perfect sense given the way her character was created and given the message of the book. It worked for me on many levels.

Weaknesses of Unless:
I really liked this one. My only complaint was that the husband's character was a bit weakly drawn. The story was told from Reta's point of view but I wasn't always sure what she saw in him. He was a bit too absent in the story. I did realize, as I was reading, that this was probably a deliberate choice by Shields to keep the focus on the women in the story.

Overall, this is a very reading experience from The Stone Diaries, but one I equally enjoyed. Thanks for John for the suggestion. I'd love to hear opinions from anyone who has read this one or others by Carol Shields.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt

This is one that was recommended by one of my fellow bloggers. Please accept my apologies, in advance, because I have no memory of who recommended it. I do remember that they wrote a wonderful review of this one. Also, this isn't for any of my current book challenges.

Open and Shut is a first novel so I'm curious to find out if there are more by the author. It is a legal thriller based on a retrial of a capital murder case. The lawyer, Andy Carpenter, is asked to handle the appeal by his father, the original prosecutor on the case. In the story, Andy begins to realize that the evidence is too good and starts to truly suspect that his client is innocent. At the same time, he deals with his father's death and the disintegration of his marriage. It sounds rather melodramatic but it's not.

Strengths of Open and Shut: I really liked Andy, the lawyer in the story. He had a bit of a sassy smart-mouth which lightened the mood in the story. Even though it seemed a bit obvious, I liked how the author tied in Andy's personal story to the case. I was actually surprised by some of the revelations, which impressed me. The plot moved along rapidly, and it was a quick, fun read. The author didn't try to overreach and make the story more dense than it needed to be. I also liked Andy's love interest. I'd be interested in reading another book where her character got even more to do in the story.

Weaknesses of Open and Shut: The plot was a bit contrived, but I really enjoyed it. I really didn't like the wife's character, but that was necessary to the story. Andy is such a good guy that the reader wouldn't buy him leaving his wife unless we, as readers, didn't like her much either.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a fun read with entertaining characters. I will definitely try another one by this author, and, hopefully, it is a sequel with more from the main characters in this one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

This is actually not a book I read for any of my current challenges. I've read all the other Scarpetta books and bought this one last week. I've liked most of the other books, but I'm not as sure about this one.

In this one, all of the regular characters are back: Kay; Lucy, her computer-gifted niece; Benton, her lover; Rose, her secretary; and Marino, her investigator and friend. The plot revolved around a series of gruesome murders linked to a famous self-help doctor who has appeared in another one of the novels.

Strengths of Book of the Dead: As always, the forensic science parts are totally cool. It's like James Bond gadgets but with Lucy and Kay in charge. Nice bit of female power. Scarpetta continues to be a strong character filled with flaws and nuances. She is not boring, and Cornwell has allowed her to grow during the series of books.

Weaknesses of Book of the Dead: (Spoiler alert - many of my issues will give away major plot points!) Everyone, and I mean everyone, is much too tragic in this one. Rose is dying of lung cancer ... Lucy has a brain tumor .... Marino loses his mind (and is left in sequel limbo) ... Benton is confused and bewildered ... Kay is engaged but with lots of doubts. I can see a crisis, or even two, in a well-written story, but this became way too melodramatic. Oh, and Rose is dating Kay's main competitor! Come on!

Then there's the murder plot. The reader knows all along who the murderer is but not who he really is. Cornwell pulled his identity out of her hat, and there was no real way for the reader to have that moment of "a-ha" - that's how it all tied in. There were facts the reader couldn't have known that were pertinent to his identify. Further, the ending left Marino lost and in limbo, and it didn't resolve any of the melodrama of cancer and brain tumors. It felt like Cornwell simply ran out of words, or wanted to make sure readers would buy the next book. (Spoiler ended!)

Overall, I was quite disappointed in this one. It was not as well-written as others in the series. The plot was much weaker, and I really didn't like the plot twists for the major characters. I wonder if this happens with other long-running book series. Do the authors run out of ideas for their characters? Do they get too comfortable, sure of themselves and more accepting of less quality in their writing? If you've read this one, I'd love to know what you think. I'm also curious to know if you've had the same experience of being disappointed in the latest book in a favorite series.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - To Note or Not to Note?

Today's BTT question is another pretty quick answer from me so here goes.

Today’s question comes from Conspiracy-Girl:
I’m still relatively new to this meme so I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, but I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?

I'm really not either. I don't write notes in books, but it's not because I need to preserve them for anything. I actually tend to either Bookmooch my books or donate them to my local library. I don't write in them because it distracts me from the story.

In college, I did write a lot of margin notes in books. I think today I'd probably use lots of colored sticky tabs and removable colored tape. That's actually how I teach students to notate books.

Short, quick answer this week! Happy Thursday to everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2007

100 Most Influential Books by Women

I found this list via Alison. I took enough classes in college to get a Women's Studies minor, but I never paid the fee and filled out the paperwork. I was curious to see how many I'd read. The ones I've read are in green type.
  1. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
  2. Anne Rice, Interview With the Vampire
  3. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  4. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  5. Virginia Woolf, The Waves
  6. Virginia Woolf, Orlando
  7. Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
  8. Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
  9. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
  10. Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
  11. Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness
  12. Nadine Gordimer, Burger's Daughter
  13. Harriette Simpson Arnow, The Dollmaker
  14. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
  15. Willa Cather, My Ántonia
  16. Erica Jong, Fear of Flying
  17. Erica Jong, Fanny
  18. Joy Kogawa, Obasan
  19. Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
  20. Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
  21. Doris Lessing, The Grass Is Singing
  22. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  23. Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
  24. Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
  25. Lore Segal, Her First American
  26. Alice Walker, The Color Purple
  27. Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland
  28. Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
  29. Muriel Spark, Memento Mori
  30. Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  31. Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina
  32. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  33. Susan Fromberg Shaeffer, Anya
  34. Cynthia Ozick, Trust
  35. Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
  36. Amy Tan, The Kitchen God's Wife
  37. Ann Beattie, Chilly Scenes of Winter
  38. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  39. Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer
  40. Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays
  41. Mary McCarthy, The Group
  42. Mary McCarthy, The Company She Keeps
  43. Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man
  44. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
  45. Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
  46. Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
  47. Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
  48. Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here
  49. Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
  50. Toni Morrison, Beloved
  51. Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
  52. Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  53. Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
  54. Laura Riding, Progress of Stories
  55. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
  56. Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower
  57. Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
  58. A.S. Byatt, Possession
  59. Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
  60. Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle
  61. Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac
  62. Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
  63. Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
  64. Katherine Dunn, Geek Love
  65. Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  66. Barbara Pym, Excellent Women
  67. Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
  68. Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
  69. Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist
  70. Nancy Willard, Things Invisible to See
  71. Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry
  72. Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Disturbances in the Field
  73. Rosellen Brown, Civil Wars
  74. Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra
  75. Harriet Doerr, The Mountain Lion
  76. Stevie Smith. Novel on Yellow Paper
  77. E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
  78. Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem
  79. P.D. James, The Children of Men
  80. Ursula Hegi, Stones From the River
  81. Fay Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
  82. Katherine Mansfield, Collected Stories
  83. Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills
  84. Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen
  85. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  86. Edna O'Brien, The Country Girls Trilogy
  87. Margaret Drabble, Realms of Gold
  88. Margaret Drabble, The Waterfall
  89. Dawn Powell, The Locusts Have No King
  90. Marilyn French, The Women's Room
  91. Eudora Welty, The Optimist's Daughter
  92. Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries (I just reviewed this one!)
  93. Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
  94. Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
  95. Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
  96. Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head
  97. Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day
  98. Alice Hoffman, The Drowning Season
  99. Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole
  100. Penelope Mortimer, The Pumpkin Eater
18 of the 100 - that's not so great! What's worse is that I haven't even heard of many of these books or authors. Maybe this is a challenge in the making. I'd be curious to know how many others of you have read.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Treadmill :: Sweat

  2. Stroke :: Killer

  3. Exclusively :: Excluding

  4. Lash :: Fake (Many of you have heard my fake eyelash story!)

  5. Red carpet :: Premiere

  6. Credit card:: Offers - way more mail than I need!

  7. Points :: Bad discipline (I worked at a school that used a point system a long time ago - what a disaster!)

  8. Domestic :: Goddess

  9. 21 :: Drinking without a fake ID

  10. Inject :: A bit of humor into life

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

This is my seventh book in the Book Awards Challenge, and it is the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award. There is another posted review of this book on the Book Awards blog which enticed me into reading this one.

There are actually three Mrs. Kimbles in the story. They share the same husband at various points in his life. We meet his first wife, Birdie, as a young mother who eventually struggles with alcoholism. His second wife, Joan, is a wealthy socialite who is a breast cancer survivor. His third wife, Dinah, is much younger. The story spans the 1970s and 1980s as Ken Kimble moves up the social ladder, trading spouses along the way.

Strengths of Mrs. Kimble: I loved this book. Each wife's story was as unique as she was. Each woman was portrayed as a complete individual, flaws and all. It was heart-breaking at times how the husband's character preyed on the weaknesses inherit in each woman - her youth or her insecurities. I grew to like each one for a different reason. Birdie, however, was my least favorite because it was hard to read about her descent into alcoholism and its effects on her children. I did appreciate the hints Haigh gave as to her attempts at happiness, and sobriety, with another man. I admired Joan's strength in the story as well as her ability to care about others. Dinah turned out to be my favorite character. I think that is because she grew the most by the end of the story. She became a complete person and was able to unify Kimble's children into an extended family. To some extent, she became the leader of the Kimble clan.

Haigh also did an excellent job of portraying Ken Kimble's character as he romanced and, later, disillusioned each wife. In a strange way, she was able to create a character that I both pitied and hated. He was more than a one note louse.

Weaknesses of Mrs. Kimble: I really enjoyed this one so the only weakness for me is that I could have spent an entire book with each of these women. I wanted to know more about Birdie's past and future, Joan's battle with breast cancer, and Dinah's life after the end of the novel.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this one. It was a fun, well-written read. Let me know if you've read it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

This is the third and final book in the Book to Movie Challenge. It is written for a middle elementary school audience and tells the story of India Opal whose father is a preacher in a small town. Winn-Dixie is the dog she adopts at the start of the story and the catalyst for change as Opal (as she is called) adapts to life in a new town.

I actually saw the movie of this book before I read the book. That's somewhat backwards for me since I normally read books first, but it was a hot summer day and the movie was $1.00!

I truly enjoyed the book. I loved the character of Opal and how she related to the dog. I also loved the quirkiness DiCamillo created in the characters Opal befriends in the town. I wish I had read the book first because I wonder how I would have pictured these people with my own imagination. It was hard to shake the actors' images from my head as I read.

I did find one significant difference from the book to the movie. In the movie, I found the father to be much more distant, and almost mean, at points in the story. However, in the book, I quite liked the father and felt somewhat sorry for him. He seemed a bit distant and dreamy, but did not have the hard edge I perceived in the movie. I wonder if it was intentional or simply my reaction to the actor in the role.

Overall, I found the book charming and would recommend it highly. It made me wish I still taught fourth or fifth grade because it would be a fun book to discuss with children. Let me know if you've read it and what you thought. I'd be especially curious to know how you felt about the father in the movie.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

I read this book for both the Reading Awards and the Canadian Authors Challenges. It is the second book in the Canadian and my sixth in the Reading Awards Challenge. It is the winner of Pulitzer Prize.

Shields has written a pseudo-biography of Daisy Goodwill Flett and follows this character from her birth in 1905 until her death near the end of the century so her life stories spans the incredible changes in Canada and America in the 1900s. However, Shields chooses to tell the story in selected vignettes of time.

STRENGTHS OF THE STONE DIARIES: The writing is marvelous, and Shields is able to draw the reader into this story even though she changes point of view throughout the telling of this life. I call it a telling, but it really feels like a remembering - how memories are indistinct at time and sometimes skip around to what may, or may not, really be important. That is what I loved most about this story. Shields was able to capture the life of an ordinary woman without an excessive focus on her role as wife and mother.

There is a segment, after the death of her second husband, where we hear about Daisy's life, and job, through a series of letters written by her and by others. These letters truly capture the time period, the 1950s, while establishing Daisy as an independent woman, which was not the norm for that era. Also, there is an incredible chapter where Daisy loses her job and sinks into a depression that is heart-wrenching because we are told about it from so many different perspectives that it is clear that no one really knows Daisy well enough to help her and, ultimately, she has to decide to not be depressed any longer in order to survive. I also loved the role of her female friends throughout the story. It really felt true to the friendships I've experienced with women in my own lifetime.

WEAKNESS OF THE STONE DIARIES: I'm sure the changing points of view and episodic story telling would turn off some readers. However, I adored the book so I really can't speak to its weaknesses. It is probably one of the best books I've read this year.

Overall, as you can tell, I adored this book. I loved the writing and the character of Daisy. I really felt like I was sharing her life, and the chapters where she declined into memory loss, and eventual death, where incredibly moving. I haven't felt this involved with a story emotionally since I cried through the end of Isabel Allende's Paula, and that's pretty high praise for me! Paula is probably my favorite book of all time so this one ranks right up there. I'd love to know what you thought about this one - even if you didn't like it. Let me know.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Horror!

Here's this week's Booking Through Thuirsday question, and it'll be a quick easy answer for me!

What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?

I thought about asking you about whether you were participating in NaNoWriMo, but I asked that last year. Although . . . if you want to answer that one, too, please feel free to go ahead and do both, or either, your choice!

I absolutely hate horror novels. I am a complete wimp as my husband will attest. I can't stand scary movies or books and avoid them all. If I accidentally start a book and realize it is too scary, I'll put it down immediately. I hate being scared! I'm not talking just blood and gore - I'm not good with the really psychologically twisted stuff either. I've never read or seen Silence of the Lambs, and I avoid Anne Rice novels! I'm sure horror novels are well-written, but they are not for me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This book is the winner of the 2002 Booker prize, and I read it for two challenges. It is the first book in the Canadian authors challenge and my fifth book in the Reading Awards Challenge.

Briefly, Pi is Piscine Patel (nicknamed Pi) who, at the age of 16, is on a boat immigrating with his family from India to Canada when the boat unexpectedly sinks. The majority of the story is told from Pi's point of view as he becomes the lone survivor during months at sea in a rescue lifeboat.

STRENGTHS OF LIFE OF PI: This is not normally the type of book I'd choose to read. I am not into adventure/survival stories, but Martel's writing was able to hold my attention throughout the book. It is always hard, I think, for a writer to keep the reader's interest when there is only a single character involved in the action. I found Pi's story fascinating, and I was rooting for him throughout the story. Martel was also able to create wonderful word pictures so you'd truly see or feel what that boat was like for Pi. I truly felt how wet he was, and how hungry, at various times in the story.

WEAKNESSES OF LIFE OF PI: SPOILER ALERT - don't read this paragraph if you don't want to know how the book ends. With that said, I am not sure I liked the ending. I've read other blogs where people have referred to the book's ending, and I see what they meant. Was he really in the boat the whole time with the tiger or was most of the book his deluded thinking? Was the interview at the end the true story? I almost wish Martel had ended the book when Pi reached Mexico and Richard Parker, the tiger, ran off into the jungle. That was a very redemptive moment for me. The interview in the third section of the book that leads the reader to doubt Pi's entire story feels a bit like a slap in the face, almost like an elaborate joke on the reader. I don't like it when authors trick the reader. It feels like a violated trust. I really wanted to believe that he survived with the tiger, and not that there were others in the boat, at first, and that they resorted to cannibalism to survive. The symbolism of the animals, in retrospect, seems heavy-handed. SPOILER ALERT ENDED!

Overall, did I like the book? I'm ambivalent. I really enjoyed the writing, but I am having difficulty with the ending. Is it thought-provoking? Absolutely. Was it worth my reading time? I think so. I'd love to know what you thought, especially about the ending!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Abandoned Books

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader

I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I actually don't abandon many books. I was an English major in college so I really couldn't abandon anything I read then, and I think the habit has stuck. However, two books stick out in my mind that I have abandoned recently.

1. Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland - I loved Microsurfs and couldn't get past the first 50 pages of this one. I think it put me in a coma.

2. Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx - Again, I loved The Shipping News, but couldn't get past the first 20 pages of this one.

I'll be curious to read what other people have given up on.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Las Vegas :: Neon

  2. Linus :: Snoopy

  3. Struck :: By lightning (have no idea where that came from!)

  4. Movie :: Something I don't see many of unless they are G or ok for kids - sigh!

  5. Anxious :: Nervous

  6. Bandit :: Time (wasn't that a movie?)

  7. Picks :: Selects

  8. Lasso :: Cowboy

  9. Dinner :: Out (I had a nice time out with friends last night!)

  10. Bargain :: Basement

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday's Six - The Eyes Have It

This week's Saturday's Six is all about eyes. So take a look at my answers:)

1. When speaking to someone in person, how often do you look them directly in the eye?

I try to always look at people when I speak to them. I also try to look at them when I listen too. That just seems more polite and respectful to me.

2. How likely are you to notice another person’s eye color?

Not very likely unless it's a very bright green or blue. I tend to notice very brightly colored eyes, but I must admit that I try to figure out if they are real or contacts.

3. What color eyes does your closest friend have?

I think they are brown but I'm not really sure.

4. Take the quiz: What do your eyes reveal about you?

What do your eyes reveal about you?(PICS!)Updated
created with
You scored as Passion

You are very passionate whether that passion is good or evil has yet to be determined. You have great power over others and they seem to flock to your service. You are very competative almost to a fault. Perhaps you should let someone else win for a change?







Diamond Eyes


Eyes full of Pain


5. If you had the chance to permanently change the color of your eyes, and would never be able to change it back to your original color, would you change it? If so, from what color to what color?

No, I like my eye color. They are a bluish-green and change colors depending on what I'm wearing and what mood I'm in. It's actually pretty neat.

6. If you were a candidate for Lasik® eye surgery, do you think you’d have the guts to go through with eye surgery?

NEVER! I had a friend who had a horrendous experience with the surgery. Read about her experience here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Punctuation

You may or may not have seen my post at Punctuality Rules Tuesday, about a book I recently bought that had the actual TITLE misspelled on the spine of the book. A glaring typographical error that really (really!) should have been caught. So, using that as a springboard, today’s question: What’s the worst typographical error you’ve ever found in (or on) a book?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I'm coming up real blank on this one. I see so much misspelling at school that I may not even notice it in books I read. The only one I remember was a proof copy of a novel that I read at least ten years ago. It was full of typos, but it was a proof copy from a publisher. I really disliked the book, and I always thought it was because of all the errors because they got to be quite annoying.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fun Reading Quiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob

Dedicated Reader

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

This answer actually makes sense. I was an English major in college so I have read some classics, but I love a good mystery or series novel. Let me know if you try it.

Thanks to Callista for posting this quiz.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett

This is my first book in the 2nds Challenge. I have previously read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, and I really liked it. I actually selected this book because I liked the cover in the bookstore. I didn't really know anything about it. I have done this before to some success.

The story is essentially the personal journey of Sabine Parsifal, the assistant of the title, after the death of her husband, the magician of the title. It is actually more complicated than that because Parsifal, the magician, was gay and dies after his Vietnamese lover, who we assume dies of AIDS. Sabine is Parsifal's life-long friend and marries him at the end of his life.

Strengths of The Magician's Assistant: Patchett has written a quietly powerful book about grief and its impact on a variety of people. Sabine is a well-conceived and executed character. The first sentence of the book: "Parsifal is dead" puts her character squarely in the middle of all the action. We see her life with Parsifal in a series of dreams and conversations with others. Sabine's quest to resolve her grief and become more than "just" the assistant take her to Parsifal's long-lost and dysfunctional family in Nebraska where she learns much more about her husband than she ever knew. What I particularly liked were the "dream" sequences where Sabine was able to connect with Phan, Parsifal's dead lover, and, finally, Parsifal himself. Patchett infused a spiritual, and redemptive, aspects to these dreams which truly seemed to heal Sabine during the story. I was also interested in some of the insights into how magic is done. I wonder if I'll be able to see anything the next time I go to a magic show.

Weaknesses of The Magician's Assistant: I really like the book but it was very different from Bel Canto. I think readers who liked Bel Canto may find this one a bit too slow and contemplative. I also wondered why Patchett introduced a possible new love interest for Sabine. I liked the idea that she was coming into herself and did not need anyone else at this point in her life. It was a bit of a cop out by Patchett. I also think some people will be upset that the book ends in Nebraska, and that we don't see Sabine back in California living her own life. I liked the symbolism of ending the story with one final magic trick. For me, that solidified Sabine's spiritual recovery, and connection with Parsifal. I found it, oddly, quite romantic and touching.

Overall, I'd recommend this book if someone is in the mood for a more contemplative, quiet read. It is not a page-turner in the traditional sense, but is a book I think will be with me for a long time. If you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Illicit :: Affair

  2. Go :: Come

  3. Jacket :: Dinner (we were just invited to two different formal events)

  4. Blow :: Wind (we lost a fence to a wind storm a few years ago. It was two days after the neighbor on that side moved in.)

  5. Coach :: Soccer (which got rained out yesterday!)

  6. Effort :: Hard (sometimes it's just hard to get things done)

  7. Leadership :: Abuse (it's very easy to use power as a leader in the wrong way)

  8. Snore :: Fake (it's a game my daughter plays)

  9. Fearless :: Leader

  10. Network :: Television

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday's Six - Halloween Spookyness

1. If you’re all alone on a dark and stormy night when a particularly scary movie comes on, will you watch it or change the channel?

Absolutely change the channel. I still remember one of my first baby-sitting jobs as a teenager. I made the mistake of watching a really cheesy horror movie and freaked myself out so much that I wouldn't open the door for the child's parents until they called me on the phone. Also, movies like The Sixth Sense give me nightmares for days. All someone has to do is go by me and whisper "I see dead people," and I'm doomed.

2. If you could remake any old horror movie, which one would you choose and why?

I don't like most horror movies, but I would like to see a modern remake of some of the Hitchcock classics like Rear Window or The Birds.

3. If you had the chance to spend the night in a room that you really believed was haunted by a malevolent ghost, would you?

Malevolent ghost - no way. I truly do believe that there are souls who have not crossed over, but I would be much more comfortable with a benevolent soul. I don't think that would flip me out at all.

4. Take the quiz: What is your Halloween personality?

What Your Halloween Habits Say About You

You're a friendly person, but not the life of the party. You like making someone else's day - and you'll dress up if you think of a really fun costume.

Sneaky and devious, people should really watch out for you. You are usually underestimated and forgotten.

Your inner child is stubborn and a bit bossy.

You fear people taking advantage for you. You are always worried about protecting your own interests.

You're prone to be quite emotional and over dramatic. Deep down, you enjoy being scared out of your mind... even if you don't admit it.

You are a traditionalist with most aspects of your life. You like your Halloween costume to be basic, well made, and conventional enough to wear another year.

5. Who is your favorite horror writer/novelist?

I don't really like horror novels. I get too scared, too easily. I recently read two of dean Koontz's Odd Thomas novels, which I did end up enjoying.

6. How many years has it been since you last went trick-or-treating?

Since I have an eight year old daughter, that would be last Halloween. Actually, we trick or treat in an area that gets an average of 700 - 900 (Yes, that's seven hundred to nine hundred) people at each door. It's quite a scene. We spend some time out amongst them, but have just as much fun helping to hand out candy. It takes three to four people to man the door at any one time all evening.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Meet the Author

This week's BTT question is pretty simple for me. I don't have a very long or complicated answer so here it goes.

I said in August, when we talked about fan mail, that I planned on expanding that to live meetings when the time was right. Well, that time is now!

  • Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Gotten their autograph?
  • How about an author you felt only so-so about, but got their autograph anyway? Like, say, at a book-signing a friend dragged you to?
  • How about stumbling across a book signing or reading and being so captivated, you bought the book?
Yes, I met Ray Bradbury on a junior high school field trip. We went to see a play of the Martian Chronicles, and he was there. He signed all of our books and spent a great deal of time talking to us about the play and the book. It was a great experience. I know a number of authors so they've signed their books for me as well. My husband is actually a character in a short story one of our friends published.

I don't tend to ask for autographs so I don't have many signed books. The only exception is for my daughter. When she was little, I got a number of books signed for her when I went to teacher conferences.

I have stumbled into book readings and signings (especially at teacher reading conferences), and I do tend to buy the books. I especially loved hearing Eve Bunting talk and bought the whole Black Lagoon children's series after hearing its author speak. I don't tend to buy as many adult books that way, though.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Back from a long weekend of soccer, ice skating, and all things Disney. Thanks to CJ for this meme ... it's the most I can do right now.

SCATTERGORIES... it's harder than it looks!

*Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...
*They have to be real places, names, things, nothing made up!
*Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial.
*You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question

What is your name? Janis
4 letter word: Jars
Vehicle: Jeep
City: Jackson, Mississippi
Boy name: Jaxon
Girl Name: Jane
Alcoholic drink: Julip (the Mint kind)
Occupation: Janitor
Something you wear: Jumper
Celebrity: Jane Curtain
Food: Juicy Fruit Gum
Reason for Being Late: Jumping the car battery
Cartoon Character: Jealous Jerry

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Saturday's Six - Numbers

Today is Saturday so it's time for Saturday's Six. It's all about numbers today.

1. If you were to count to three on your fingers, would you hold up your thumb, index and middle finger, or your index, middle and ring finger?

I actually had to try it just now, and I definitely use my index, middle, and ring fingers. I tried it the other way, and it's very uncomfortable.

2. What was the last thing you remember counting in your home?

I think it was for one of my daughter's homework assignments last year. It seems like we had to count the number of windows and doors in our house.

3. When you are listening to someone who uses repetitious phrases when speaking, such as, “you know,” how many of them do you generally need to hear before you begin subconsciously counting the occurrences?

I'm sure I do subconsciously count because I get really annoyed by repetitive language. I also know I count Ums and Ahs in conversations as well. I'd say I probably start counting after the third or fourth time.

4. Take the quiz: What is your expression number?

Your Expression Number is 11

You tend to be associated with idealistic concepts and spiritual issues.
You have high potentials that are somewhat difficult to live up to.
You have very strong intuition and you can be a bit psychic at times.

Highly inspirational, you can lead merely by your own example.
You have an inborn inner strength and awareness that helps you advise others.
Although you have what it takes for a successful career, you belong outside the business world.

Overly sensitive and temperamental, you tend to have a lot of nervous tension.
You dream a lot, so much so that you may be more of a dreamer than a doer.
Fantasy and reality tend to get intermingled for you, and that leads to impracticality.

The last part of this doesn't fit me at all ... at least I hope not!

5. You’re calling a friend on the telephone and he’s not home: assuming he didn’t have voicemail, do you actually count how many rings go by or do you just hang up after a time you feel is sufficient for him to answer?

It's so rare to get a phone that rings more than about three times that I do count. I know that I've let a phone ring twenty times in the past because I was so amazed that it would ring that many times. Normally, though, I'd give up after about five or six rings. But I guess I am counting rings no matter what.

6. You go out to eat and you order a plate of twelve chicken wings. Do you actually count them before eating?

It would never occur to me to count. I've probably been shortchanged on food all my life:)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Canadian Book Meme

John at The Book Mine Set is starting a challenge to read Canadian authors. My husband's family is from Canada, and we've been to many places in Canada. I'm always picking up books from Canada so this might be for me. In the meantime, here's a meme of Canadian books and authors.

Highlight in red those you've read, highlight in blue authors you've read just not that particular book, and leave the rest black.

Newfoundland and Labrador-
Cassie Brown- Death On The Ice (Non-fiction)
Lisa Moore- Open (Short Stories)
Lisa Moore- Alligator
Wayne Johnston- Colony of Unrequited Dreams
Al Pittman- Down By Jim Long’s Stage (Children’s poems)
Al Pittman- West Moon (play)
Harold Horwood- White Eskimo
Harold Horwood- Bartlett The Great Explorer (Non-fiction)
Michael Crummey- River Thieves
E. J. Pratt- Complete Poems (Poetry)
Mary Dalton- Merrybegot (Poetry)
Dillon Wallace- The Lure of The Labrador Wild
Kevin Major- Eh? To Zed (Children’s book)
Ted Russell- The Holdin’ Ground (play)
Percy Janes- House of Hate
Bud Davidge and Ian Wallace (Illustrator)- The Mummer’s Song (Children’s Book)
E. Annie Proulx- The Shipping News
Claire Mowat- Outport People (Non-fiction)
Donna Morrissey- Kit’s Law
Ken Babstock- Airstream Land Yacht (Poetry)
Bernice Morgan- Random Passage
Joan Clark- An Audience of Chairs
Earl B. Pilgrim- The Ghost of Ellen Dower
Dale Jarvis- Haunted Shores: True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador
Paul Butler- Easton
Edward Riche- Rare Birds
Kenneth J. Harvey- The Town That Forgot How To Breathe

Prince Edward Island-
Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
Stompin’ Tom and Brenda Jones (Illustrator)- The Hockey Song (Children’s Book)
David Helwig- Saltsea
Michael Hennessey- The Betrayer
J. J. Steinfeld- Would You Hide Me? (Short Stories)
Anne Compton- Processional (Poetry)
Milton Acorn- I Shout Love and Other Poems (Poetry)

Nova Scotia-
Frank Parker Day- Rockbound
Alistair MacLeod- Island (Short Stories)
Alistair MacLeod- No Great Mischief
George Elliott Clarke- Whylah Falls (Poetry)
Anne Simpson- Loop (Poetry)
Alden Nolan- The Best Of (Poetry)
Hugh MacLennan- The Watch That Ends The Night
Thomas Chandler Haliburton- The Clockmaker
Ernest Buckler- The Mountain and the Valley
Ann-Marie MacDonald- Fall On Your Knees

New Brunswick-
David Adams Richards- Mercy Among The Children
Charles G. D. Roberts- The Collected Poems (Poetry)
T. G. Roberts- The Red Feathers
Donna Allard- Minago Streets (Poetry)
Linda Hall- Black Ice
Elisabeth Harvor- Fortress Of Chairs

Mordecai Richler- Barney’s Version
Gabrielle Roy- The Tin Flute
Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater (Children’s Book)
Markoosie- Harpoon of the Hunter
Michel Tremblay- The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant
Michel Tremblay- Forever Yours Marie-Lou (Play)
Saul Bellow- Humboldt’s Gift
Hubert Acquin- Next Episode
Heather O’Neill- Lullabies For Little Criminals
Gaetan Soucy- The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond Of Matches
Leonard Cohen- Beautiful Losers
Leonard Cohen- Let Us Compare Mythologies (Poetry)
Jacques Poulin- Volkswagen Blues
Yves Theriault- Agaguk
Mairuth Sarsfield- No Crystal Stair
Naomi Klein- No Logo (Non-fiction)
Irving Layton- Dance With Desire (Poems)
Stuart McLean- Stories From The Vinyl Café (Short Stories)
Yann Martel- Life of Pi (on my TBR list!)
Romeo Dallaire- Shake Hands With The Devil (Non-fiction)
Gordon Korman- Island: Shipwreck (Young Adult)

Margaret Atwood- Handmaid’s Tale
Robertson Davies- Fifth Business
Stephen Leacock- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Short Stories)
Alice Munro- Who Do You Think You Are? (Short Stories)
Timothy Findley- The Wars
Jane Urquhart- The Stone Carvers
Barbara Gowdy- White Bone
Joan Barfoot- Luck
Dennis Lee- Alligator Pie (Children’s Poems)
Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess (Children’s Book)
Michael Ondaatje- In The Skin Of A Lion
Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance
Al Purdy- Beyond Remembering (Poetry)
Farley Mowat- Never Cry Wolf
Joseph Boyden- Three Day Road
Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water
Austin Clarke- The Polished Hoe
Mary Lawson- Crow Lake
Matt Cohen- Elizabeth and After
Jon McCrae- In Flanders Fields (Poem)
Christian Bok- Eunoia (poetry)
Phoebe Gilman- Something From Nothing (Children’s Book)
Richard B. Wright- Clara Callan
M. G. Vassanji- The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
Vincent Lam- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Short stories)
Barbara Reid- Two By Two (Children’s Book)
David Bezmozgis- Natasha and Other Stories (Short Stories)
Morley Callaghan- More Joy In Heaven
Helen Humphries- Afterimage
Gordon Downie- Coke Machine Glow (Poetry)
Anne Michaels- Fugitive Pieces

Margaret Laurence- A Bird In The House (Short Stories)
Margaret Laurence- A Jest of God
Carol Shields- The Stone Diaries (on my TBR list)
Bill Richardson- Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast
Miriam Toews- A Complicated Kindness
Tomson Highway- The Rez Sisters (Play)
David Bergen- The Time In Between

Tim Lilburn- Kill-Site (Poetry)
Guy Vanderhaeghe- The Last Crossing
Guy Gavriel Kay- The Summer Tree
Sinclair Ross- As For Me and My House
W. O. Mitchell- Who Has Seen The Wind
Rudy Wiebe- The Temptations of Big Bear
Dianne Warren- Serpent In The Night Sky (play)
Sharon Butala- Lilac Moon (Non-fiction)
Paul Hiebert- Sarah Binks

Will Ferguson- Why I Hate Canadians (Nonfiction)
Earle Birney- One Muddy Hand (Poetry)
Thomas Wharton- Salamander
W. P. Kinsella- Shoeless Joe
Robert Kroetsch- The Studhorse Man
Katherine Govier- Three Views of Crystal Water
Christopher Wiseman- In John Updike’s Room (Poetry)
Anita Rau Badami- Can You Hear The Nightbird Call?

British Columbia-
Douglas Coupland- Generation X
Timothy Taylor- Stanley Park
Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing (Young Adult)
bpNichol- The Martyrology (Poetry)
Susan Musgrave- What The Small Day Cannot Hold (Poetry)
Michael Turner- Hard Core Logo
Joy Kogawa- Obasan
P.K. Page- Planet Earth (Poetry)
Anosh Irani- The Song of Kahunsha
Wayson Choy- The Jade Peony
John Gould- Kilter (Short stories)
Sheila Watson- The Double Hook
Gayla Reid- To Be There With You (Short stories)
Audrey Thomas- Coming Down From Wa
Kevin Chong- Baroque-a-Nova

Robert Service- The Best Of (Poetry)
Pierre Berton- The National Dream (Non-fiction)
Al Pope- Bad Latitudes
Dick North- The Mad Trapper of Rat River (Non-fiction)
Ted Harrison- Children of the Yukon (Children’s Book)
Pj Johnson- Rhymes of the Raven Lady (Poetry)

Northwest Territories-
Mackay Jenkins- Bloody Falls of the Coppermine (nonfiction)
Richard Van Camp- Lesser Blessed
Robert Alexie- Pale Indian
Rene Fumoleau- Here I Sit (Poetry)
Steve Zipp- Yellowknife
Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights On Air

Michael Kusugak- Hide and Sneak (Children’s book)
Michael Kusugak- Curse of the Shaman (Young Adult)
James Houston- The White Dawn
Kevin Patterson- Consumption
Tom Lowenstein (translator)/ Knud Rasmussen (compiled by)- Eskimo Poems (Poetry)
Pierre Berton- The Arctic Grail (nonfiction)
John Bennett and Susan Rowley (Editors and compilers) Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut (Non-fiction)
Kenn Harper- Give Me My Father’s Body (Non-fiction)
Eric Wilson- The Inuk Mountie Adventure (Young Adult)

Wow ... I haven't even made a dent on this list. I just may have to do this challenge. If you play along, let me know so I can come visit.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Decorum

This week's BTT question is quite interesting. I did start to think about explicit scenes and language while I was reading Middlesex. Here's the question and my answer follows:

Do you have “issues” with too much profanity or overly explicit (ahem) “romantic” scenes in books? Or do you take them in stride? Have issues like these ever caused you to close a book? Or do you go looking for more exactly like them? (grin)

This is a tough one for me. I'm not overly concerned about profanity in a book if the book is well-written. Sometimes profanity is necessary to create a mood or scene or to make a character realistic. I do have a problem with excessive swearing throughout a poorly written book. Sometimes, I think authors use profanity to cover up their lack of imagination. I tend to believe that a good writer does not need to rely on "potty" words to move the story along. So I guess for me, I can take it in stride if it's used appropriately. I can't remember putting a book down for too much swearing .... I'd more likely stop reading it because it was poorly written to start with.

I love how "romantic" is in quotes here. I love a good love story but can get very uncomfortable with excessive sexual details in stories. Again, if the scene is well-written and integral to the story or character development, then I don't have much problem with it. However, if it feels poorly written, or gratuitous, or overly violent, then I would stop reading the book. I probably have less tolerance for overly sexual books, especially if they are violent in nature. I don't need those images in my life or psyche.

Since I brought up the subject of violence, I do not tend to read very violent books either. Again, if the violence, or abuse, is well-written and integral to the story, then I'm fine with it. I don't like to read about violence for the sake of violence.

I do want to add that I'm glad there are books out there with all of these things in them. I feel it is important for everyone to make these reading choices for themselves.

106 "Unread Books"

This is a book meme going around right now. I got it from One More Chapter.

I've never really thought about all the books I've read, and I thought this would be a fun way to share. These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and strike through books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your tbr list.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina

Crime and Punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel (tbr in ‘07)
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice*
Jane Eyre*

A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin (love Atwood, but didn’t care for this)
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran

Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Can you tell I was a Literature major in college? Many of these books date from college courses. I was surprised by how few are on my TBR list at this point. Leave me a link if you do this meme. I'd be curious to know what other people have read.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker

This is my fourth book for the Reading Awards Challenge and the winner of the 2005 Edgar Award. The plot revolves around the gruesome murder of Janelle Vonn in the late 1960s in Orange County, California. It traces the murder investigation by a rookie detective who happens to know the victim, and the case's portrayal in the newspaper by the detective's reporter brother.

Strengths of California Girl: I really enjoyed this novel. The author did a great job capturing the setting and time. I felt transported to the late 1960s amid the drug and John Birch Society cultures. I also enjoyed the references to actual people and places from that time period. I especially like Nick's encounter with Timothy Leary and Andy's with Charlie Manson. Quite fun! The author also did a good job of creating a believable character in his victim, Janelle. She is seen mostly in flashback and through other people's eyes, but that seemed to give her depth and made her death somewhat tragic. The story was framed with a current day encounter between Nick and Andy which offered the ultimate resolution to the plot.

Weaknesses of California Girl: The ultimate resolution of the murder mystery was not a huge surprise to me. I pretty much had it figured out midway through the book. However, it didn't bother me too much because I was enjoying the story so much.

Overall, I'd highly recommend California Girl. It was a fun read. What did you think?

Monday, October 1, 2007

What a Coincidence!

OK ... I normally participate in the Saturday's Six meme at Patrick's Place. But this week, between soccer, ice skating, and a Girl Scout event, I didn't get to the computer much at all on Saturday, so I just passed on it this week.

Here's the irony. (Remember what events kept me away from this meme on Saturday?) I just took this week's Halloween costume quiz, and here's my answer:

Your Halloween Costume Should Be

A Girl Scout

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  • Crook :: "I am not a ..."

  • Career :: Education

  • Freckles :: Cute on the nose

  • Scramble :: Way to make eggs

  • Mistake :: A learning opportunity

  • Telephone :: Annoying nuisance at dinnertime

  • Thank you :: Notes - a thing of the past:(

  • Obstruction :: totally blank on this one

  • 24/7 :: 7/11 - who wouldn't want a Slurpee at 2AM?

  • SciFi :: Star Trek, but of course
  • Saturday, September 29, 2007

    25 Comments Day

    Patrick at Patrick's Place has declared that tomorrow - Sunday - is 25 Comments Day. The rules are simple. Visit at least 25 blogs tomorrow and leave comments about a blog entry. Since I'm spending the night camping with a group of 20 girls (that means no sleep for me), I'm going to give this a shot later in the day on Sunday. I think it would be a challenge to leave that many unique comments. If you decide to participate, feel free to leave your first comment here - but wait until tomorrow:)