Audiobook Review - The Palace of Illusions

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banarji Divakaruni is a retelling of an epic Indian poem called the Mahabharata. I've never read the Mahabharata, so I can't tell you whether or not it was a good retelling, but I definitely enjoyed the story. I would like to get my hands on a good translation of the Mahabharata now, so that I can compare them.
The Palace of Illusions follows the life of princess Panchaali. She is literally born from fire and told that she is destined to change the course of the world. She is determined to fulfill her destiny, but doesn't realize that she might not like the way this change is brought about. The funny thing is that when she does begin to change history, she doesn't seem to realize what she's doing.

The Good
I liked the star-crossed-lovers bit of the book, even though I could see the surprise ending coming from a mile away. There's just something about doomed romance that catches my attention in a story, as cheesy as it can be. And there were times when I thought Panchaali's inner dialogue on the matter was a bit much, but I can live with it.
I also liked the questions raised about fate, and whether you can change or fight your destiny. I thought it was interesting that Panchaali made mistakes even though she had been warned about them in advance.
The audiobook was read by Sneha Mathan, whose voice I loved. She did a wonderful job and had a wide range of voices and accents that she used, which was definitely an enormous help when it came to keeping the various characters straight.
The Bad
It was difficult to keep track of the characters, because there were so many of them, and many of the names were very similar. Not to mention that some of the characters went by more than one name. It got a bit confusing at times.
There were also many stories inside of stories, and the timeline was often a bit hazy. The narrator would often jump backward or forward in time, which I found irritating. I thought there was some very heavy-handed foreshadowing, as well.

The Ugly
I can't think of anything that I thought was really awful in the book. Some clumsy moments, a bit of heavy-handedness, but nothing terrible.

My Rating
7.5/10 - pretty good. I would definitely read another book by this author if I came across it.
I would like to find more good books based on Indian culture, so if you have any recommendations, let me know. But please, don't recommend anything like A Fine Balance. I think that was the most depressing book I've ever read. And on that note, I've noticed that there isn't as much of a focus on happy endings in other cultures as there seems to be in American culture. Do you agree?

Review- Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I finally finished it! What (you may ask) took me so long? Well. It's not that the book was dull, exactly, but neither was it riveting, and I picked it up at a time when I had too many other things vying for my attention.
I mentioned before that the only reason I picked up Prodigal Summer was because I had been told that I MUST read The Poisonwood Bible. But when I stopped by my local library, this was the only Kingsolver book on the shelf.
...To be honest, I hope that The Poisonwood Bible is not as pretentious as this was.
So. let's sum it up:

The Good-
Now, I've got to admit that the writing was lovely. Kingsolver has a way with words, that much is apparent. The writing is really what redeemed the book in my eyes. I will also admit that I thought many of her ideas about man's impact on nature were interesting (though, at times, inaccurate) and I was glad to see how the seemingly unconnected storylines converged in the end. The story was really just one intricate web built of the characters' lives.

The Bad -
It seemed that every character in the book had a soapbox that they were standing on. They all wanted to preach at you about one thing or another. Kingsolver obviously has a very 'green' agenda that she's trying to push with this book, and I found her delivery a bit annoying. I'm all for exploring serious issues through fiction, but you don't have to do it by hitting me over the head with a hammer again and again and again. Yes! We understand what you're trying to say! Pesticide bad! Hunters bad! logging bad! Enough already.
My other problem was that the only openly religious character in the book was a flat, stereotypical boor. It felt as if his only purpose in the story was to show the arrogance and self-righteousness of Christians. He couldn't ever seem to formulate a coherent argument. Actually, neither could any of the other 'antagonists' in the book, now that I think about it.

The Ugly -
There was one really weird sex dream. There was also a ridiculously awkward bit where a recently widowed woman admits that she's attracted to her 17 year old nephew. Um. Ewww. There was actually quite a lot of frank discussion about sex in the book, so definitely don't pick it up if that sort of thing bothers you.

My Rating -
Eh. This is a hard one, because the writing really was lovely, but I didn't care much for the book overall. Overall I'd give it 6/10 but I think that Kingsolver's prose deserves closer to an 8/10
Not the dialogue, mind you, just the descriptions.

Teaser Tuesday - Galveston by Sean Stewart

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I've read one other novel by Sean Stewart. It was a book called Cloud's End that was both beautiful and frustrating, a slow-paced read that plunged you deep into the characters and had you feeling every heartache right along with them. I was so immersed in the characters that when one of them made a bad decision I was tempted to fling the book across the room in anger.

I'm excited to read another novel by Stewart. Cloud's End was lent to me by my good friend Tanya, and so was Galveston. It's a good thing that I have a friend like her to lend me books, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have discovered his writing. If the lyrical, poetic diction that was present in Cloud's End is his norm, then I think I'm in for a good read.

I have JUST started the book, and haven't had a chance to really sink my teeth into it, but so far it has a wholly different feel to it. Here's the synopsis from the back of the book:

Galveston had been baptized twice. Once by water in the fall of 1900. Again by magic during Mardi Gras, 2004. Creatures were born of survivors' joy and sufferers' pain: scorpions the size of dogs, the Crying Clown, the Widow who ate her victims. And the Island of Galveston would forever be divided-- between the real city and a city locked in a constant Carnival, and endless Mardi Gras...

Definitely an interesting premise. This is my favorite kind of novel, the kind the blends the normal world, our everyday lives, with the fantastic. I think the correct term for it is 'Urban Fantasy'. So if Stewart can pull off this blend of fantasy and realism, I'll be a fan for life. I'll let you know what I think when I've finished the book.

Gloria frowned into the Fords' massive refrigerator. It had been eleven years since the Flood of 2004 had ended the industrial world, and with no spare parts available, refrigerators were becoming more precious-- but of course the Fords had a giant two-door Frigidaire that would squirt out chilled water or ice cubes in two different shapes, regular cubes or the little half-moons Joshua liked better.

Tomorrow: Finally! A review of Prodigal Summer.

Audiobook Review- The Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This is the spoiler free part of the review -

The Hunger Games has been making waves all over the blogosphere lately, and this month I finally got around to reading it. I was lucky, because the second book came out while I was reading the first, so I didn't have to wait long to pick the story up again. You'll probably want to have the second book handy after you read the first, because the first ended in a way that had me itching for JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER, COME ON!
And now I am unlucky, because the third book is still being written, and I have to wait at least a year to read the conclusion. I hate that. The second book basically drops a bomb on you with the last sentence, so if you're a really impatient person, I would suggest waiting until the entire series has been published before picking up the first book.

A while ago I talked about how I was reading The Hunger Games for my book club, and at that time I wasn't really sure what I would rate the book. I still think that the first book isn't as strong as it could have been. The plot was somewhat predictable, and some parts of the narrative felt as though they had been put there with the sole purpose of playing with your emotions, rather than moving the story forward. I was also often frustrated by the seemingly thickheaded and overly-cynical Katniss and the almost 'Gary-sue' Peeta. But, overall, it was an enjoyable read, and one that I think would appeal to many teenagers and adults alike. BUT I would suggest that you reserve this book for the older and more mature teens, as there are some disturbing themes and situations throughout. I mean, it's a book about 24 teenagers trying to kill each other, so I would hope that that would be common sense, but... you never know.

MY RATING: by itself I would give The Hunger Games a 7/10
I enjoyed it, but thought that parts of it could have been stronger and less predictable.

Paired with Catching Fire, however, the grade goes up to an 8/10.
I thought that Catching Fire was more fun, because it was less predictable. There were a couple of good twists in there. I was still frustrated by Katniss' thickheadedness at times (get a clue, girl!) and also by the love triangle. But I think that, together, the books form one very entertaining package, and I await the next installment with eagerness.

THIS is where the review gets SPOILERIFIC, people! Highlight the text if you want to read the spoilers.

THE HUNGER GAMES - Specifically, for those of you who have read the book, I hated the wolf muttations at the end. I got the idea that they had used body parts from the dead tributes to make the werewolves, and I thought that the idea was used purely for the shock value, because there had been nothing leading up to it. I kept thinking "Did it mention before that The Capitol had used humans in muttation experiments? Is this going to be a major theme in the next book? Where the heck did this come from!?" It took me straight out of the book. I thought that if the theme of human/animal muttations was going to carry on into Catching Fire, then I would be okay with it appearing suddenly at the end of The Hunger Games. But, it didn't. As I read Catching Fire I began to see that the muttations were NOT made from the bodies of the tributes, but that The Capitol wanted the living contestants to think that perhaps they had been. So. I don't know if that's better, or not. For some reason, those creatures just bug me.
And, seriously, how could Katniss really be so thick headed as to think that Peeta was just acting?

CATCHING FIRE - Okay, the whole bit with the Game Maker showing Katniss the mockingjay on his watch? Again with the thickheaded thing! Though I admit that I wasn't really sure what the Game Makers and the rest of the tributes were planning. I wonder how long Heymitch has been planning this coup? And what's the deal with Peeta and Gale? I'm almost positive that Collins is going to kill one of them off, but I can't decide which one it's going to be. Either that or Peeta will be all perfect and self-sacrificing and still be Katniss' best friend even though she chooses Gale over him. Ugh. I hate it when authors yank you back and forth between love interests like that. And the cliff-hanger ending OMG.

I would love to hear everyone's comments about the books but please specify whether there are spoilers in your comments, so that we don't ruin anyone else's experience.

I would also like to add that I did listen to both of these books rather than reading them. The Audiobook is read by Carolyn McCormick, and she is a FANTASTIC narrator. It's amazing how much the person who is reading the book can affect your opinion of it. Carolyn was smooth and believable, and transitioned between characters with ease and clarity. Two thumbs up.

Winners! Also: blog makeover

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The winners of the BBAW giveaways have been chosen!

Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell goes to throuthehaze

Black Beauty goes to Sue

and The Last Juror goes to Rebecca N.

Congratulations to our winners, who were chosen by chance at! I have contacted them through email. If I don't hear from the winners within the next 48 hours, new winners will be chosen.

In other news:
I gave my blog a facelift today. I'm actually quite proud of myself for figuring out some of the code that I used to customize the template. ( I know next to nothing about Html.) One thing that I can't figure out is how to get the 'Newer Posts' button that I made to show up. I've messed around with every bit of code that I could think of, but that basically comes down to a lot of guess work and trial and error for me, since I'm pretty clueless. So. If anybody out there can help me out, I'd appreciate it!

later this week:
I should be able to write some actual book reviews! Can you believe it?

BBAW giveaway #3 (Us only)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The third item that I'm giving away today is a trade paperback edition of John Grisham's The last Juror. The book is gently used, and in great condition. I haven't read this one yet, but I loved John Grisham's novels when I was in high school, so he holds a little piece of my heart.

Since I haven't read this book myself, here is the summary from

In 1970, small town newspaper The Clanton Times went belly up. With financial assistance from a rich relative, it's purchased by 23-year-old Willie Traynor, formerly the paper's cub reporter. Soon afterward, his new business receives the readership boost it needs thanks to his editorial efforts and coverage of a particularly brutal rape and murder committed by the scion of the town's reclusive bootlegger family. Rather than shy from reporting on the subsequent open-and-shut trial (those who oppose the Padgitt family tend to turn up dead in the area's swampland), Traynor launches a crusade to ensure the unrepentant murderer is brought to justice. When a guilty verdict is returned, the town is relieved to find the Padgitt family's grip on the town did not sway the jury, though Danny Padgitt is sentenced to life in prison rather than death. But, when Padgitt is released after serving less than a decade in jail and members of the jury are murdered, Clanton once again finds itself at the mercy of its renegade family.

To enter, leave a comment with your contact information, and tell me why you would like to win this book. This contest ends Monday the 21st at 11:59 p.m EST

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways, too!
Giveaway #1
Giveaway #2

BBAW Giveaway #2 (US only)

Our second giveaway of the day is another thrift store find (I'll be honest, I couldn't afford to do giveaways if it wasn't for thrift stores). But once again, this book is in perfect condition.

This is an adapted version of the book, by Deidre S. laiken. I haven't read this version, so I don't know how good it is, but there are some lovely illustrations, and it looks as though it would be good for a child of about 8 years or so.

To enter, leave a comment telling me why you'd like to win this book, and make sure to leave your contact information, as well. The contest ends on Monday the 21st at 11:59 P.M. EST

Don't forget to enter the other giveaway, too!
Giveaway #1

BBAW Giveaway #1 (US Only)

Since most of the giveaways are going to be ending today, I thought I'd shake things up and start my giveaways today. CRAZY, I know.

First up is a hardcover copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

I bought a cheap paperback edition of this book on a whim to read during a long trip. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I've seen it billed as 'Harry Potter for adults', but I think that description is misleading. This is nothing like Harry Potter. It reads more like a 19th century novel. The focus is less on story or plot, and more on characters and style. There is little actual magic done in the book, and it's a hefty one, weighing in at 782 pages. But I thought that Clarke's writing was wonderful. Because of the length of the book, you really get to know the characters. One of my main problems with this story, though, is that while the male characters are multidimensional, the female characters are flat and uninspiring. But, I did enjoy the book, and since I found a hardcover edition of it( in perfect condition) at a thrift store for one dollar, I've decided to share it with you! Huzzah for thrift store finds!

To enter the contest, just leave a comment telling me why you think you'd like the book. I'm not going to make you jump through any hoops to enter, everyone gets only one entry. Just remember to leave your contact information in your comment. The contest ends at 11:59 P.M on Monday the 21st.

BBAW Reading Habits: Second verse!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What are you currently reading?
Oh, sheesh. Okay. Sometimes I get book ADD. I'm not always this bad. AND some of these are audiobooks, so I'm only listening to them when I really don't have time to be sitting and reading. Stop judging me.
1. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver( I can't believe I still haven't finished this...)
2. Audiobook of Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling ( I might not be able to finish this one, because the guy that reads it is pretty boring)
3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen ( I just can't get into this book as easily as I have some of her other work)
4. Audiobook of Flight by Sherman Alexie ( I started this one because I found that my mind was wandering quite a bit while listening to #2
5. The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and Isaac Kramnick (This is non-fiction, and thus it does not hold my attention quite as well. So while I do think it's interesting, it feels a bit like I'm doing schoolwork when I read it)
What is the last book you bought?
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (You can read my review here.)
Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
Um. Heh. Did you read the answer to the first question?
Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
At night, snuggled up on the couch, when the kiddos are sound asleep. No more interruptions!
Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I don't think I really prefer either, but I do seem to be in the middle of quite a few series' at the moment. Why is it that fantasy books always come in sets of at least three? (Curse you, George R.R. Martin! Curse you, Patrick Rothfuss!)
Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Ray Bradbury! Neil Gaiman!
How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

Wow, this question just makes me chuckle. Organize? Really? I TRY to organize them by genre, and then by author. But.. . they never stay that way long. I mean, really, look at this:

The left side looks kind of organized, right? Sort of? Well that's great, but those are mostly my husbands books and old text books that don't get looked at very often. The right side? Yeah. That's my mess. Okay, the top two shelves don't look too bad. I just organized those a few days ago, because someone asked to borrow one of my Harry Potter books, and I had to FIND it in the mess. And, I don't know if you can tell, but on the next shelf down, the books are stacked two deep. Yeah. I need more bookshelves. Now, to be fair, we did just move the bookshelves (and by just I mean... three weeks ago...) So the books got stacked haphazardly and then didn't ever get put back in any particular order. But, I mean, I'll get around to it one of these days.

Annd, here is a close up, because *drum roll* tomorrow, I'm going to be giving away three of the books in this photograph. Can you guess which ones? (Click to enlarge the picture)

BBAW - Reading Habits Questionnaire

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Because I can't choose just one question to answer, and I can't possibly answer them without RAMBLING... I'm going to do half of the questionnaire today, and half tomorrow. Or, you know. Whenever. Because I am a bad blogger.
leave your answers to these questions in the comments, or post the answers to your blog and leave a link here.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
I try to avoid snacking whenever possible! If I didn't, I would surely weigh about 600 lbs by now...

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
writing in books horrify you?
WHY? Why in the name of all that is good in the world would you defile a book that way? I even hated marking my text books in college.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
I mark my place with any random piece of paper that I find lying around. Reciepts, tissue, a corner torn from a piece of notebook paper, whatever.

Laying the book flat open?
DO YOU WANT TO DIE? No? Then don't you dare do any of these things to my books. Seriously, people.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
I like to read Non-fiction occasionally, but I really love fiction. For non-fiction I would rather watch a documentary than read a book.

Hard copy or audiobooks? I always prefer a hard copy, nothing compares to the feel of a book in your hand. But since I had my second child I have grown to love audiobooks for their convenience. Who has time to actually sit and read every book that's on their TBR list? Not me.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you
able to put a book down at any point? I've had to learn to stop at any point, because sometimes poopy diapers just can't wait.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
No, I can usually figure out the meaning by the context. But if it's a really perplexing word then I definitely look it up.

BBAW - Bookalicious Interview

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If you haven't checked out Pam's blog yet, you should. She has an easy to navigate layout and a beautiful website. I hadn't seen her blog before we were paired up for the BBAW interviews, but now I've added her to my Google Reader. Seriously. Go take a look.

Here are Pam's answers to the interview questions. My answers to these same questions should be up on her blog sometime this week.

Why did you decide to start blogging about the books that you read?

I wanted an outlet to talk about the books I was reading, I was completely
unaware of the whole book blogging scene but was so happy to find so many
like minded individuals to discuss new and old titles with.

Is there a genre that you prefer to review?

I guess YA I really feel that genre is advancing now in a way it hasn't
before with authors like Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson tackling
issues that children actually deal with and not being afraid to dig deep
into the tough topics.

Do you like to participate in any of the popular book blog memes?

I like to read the memes especially the Sunday Salon but I do not
participate because I want my blog to be completely unschedlued and
random. I do not like feeling pressured to post on a certain day or on a
certain topic. It just doesn't work for me.

How do you feel the internet and blogging about books is changing the
publishing world?

I think it is a very exciting time for publishing houses. With the
advancements of EReaders and online bloggers they have a chance to grab
even more readers than ever. After all word of mouth is the best

Who is your favorite author, and why?

My favorite author has always been the Bronte Sisters as a whole. Their
style is easy readable while still having the old world feel.

What was the first book you read as a child that got you hooked?

I remember reading a simplified version of The Swan Princess with the
school librarian and thinking that was the coolest thing ever. After that
I spent a lot of my free time in the library with her and she was really
the person who encouraged my love of reading.

BBAW kicks off!

Monday, September 14, 2009

This week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Six months ago, I didn't know that BBAW exsisted, but, boy, am I glad that I found out about it. Through the BBAW website I've met some wonderful bloggers and learned that there is a googolplex of book blogs out there in the blogosphere.

I'm a day late in joining the festivites, but I'll do my best to catch up during the week.

The first thing that participating bloggers were asked to do for BBAW was to list a few blogs that you love, but weren't short listed for the awards. In the short time that I've been involved in book blogging, these are the ones that have stuck out to me:

Good Clean Reads: I love Kim's unique rating system! She gives each book four ratings: She rates the book as a whole, and then gives it a rating for sex, one for profanity, and one for violence. She reads a wide variety of subjects and genres.

Paperback Reader
: I just found this blog last week! She has a wonderful writing style, a good flow of information, and she also covers a wide variety of subjects and genres. Through her blog I also came across another blog: Book Snob. I don't know much about this blog yet, but I've bookmarked it, and it looks wonderful!

One librarians Book Reviews
: Melissa, as you might have guessed, is a librarian. She is also a fellow Utahn. She also has a lovely blog. She updates nearly every day and always has interesting content.

There are many more wonderful blogs that I follow, but I simply don't have the time to write about them all. Check these out, and then check the list of blogs that I follow in my profile.

Coming up Tomorrow: I swap interview questions with Pam of

Slow Language - The Essential Rumi

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yesterday I received a wonderful gift from my friend Tanya: The Essential Rumi, a book of poetry that I have been wanting to get my hands on for months. Here is one of my favorites, so far:

Jalaluddin Rumi

1207 -1272

Wean Yourself (Translation by Coleman Barks)

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding."

you ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Llisten to the answer.
There is no "other world."
I only know what I've experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

BTT and mini review - The Hunger Games

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Booking Through Thursday prompt for last week was:
"What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?
(Feel free to think “big” as size, or as popularity, or in any other way you care to interpret.)"

This month, my book club is reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In case you don't follow any other book blogs, (or you've been hiding under a rock) The Hunger Games has been a pretty huge subject on the internet lately, especially because the sequel, Catching Fire, just came out last week. I just finished The Hunger Games today. Since I'm short on time at the moment, I'll only be giving a mini-review. I might write a longer review at a later date... but I'm a bad blogger, so I'm not promising anything.

Because I've been too busy to sit down and enjoy a book properly as of late, I decided to listen to the audio book. The book is read by Carolyn McCormick, who does a wonderful job. Now, I tried to keep my expectations low for this book, specifically because of it's popularity. I didn't want to go in expecting something fantastic, since I knew that it couldn't possibly live up to the hype. They never do.
But the book is really pretty good. I still need to mull things over a bit and decide what kind of a rating to give it, but suffice it to say that while I don't think it's one of the best books I've ever read, it's not bad; and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

I will also say that something about the ending just didn't sit right with me. I don't want to say much here, because I like to keep my reviews relatively spoiler-free. But, (for those of you who have read the books) I was not really fond of the use of certain 'muttations' that were introduced to us at the end of the book. The whole scene felt a bit out-of-the-blue to me, and as if the creatures were only put in for their shock value. If the muttations are used as a plot point later in the story, then I might buy it, but at the moment I am not impressed by Collins' use of them. Anyway. I hope that wasn't too cryptic for anyone.

Moving on:

Coming soon to The Reckless Reader: reviews for Prodigal Summer, Mansfield Park, and luck in the Shadows. Why is it that I can never read just one book at a time? Also happening this month is Book Blogger Appreciation Week (Sept 14-18). I will be interviewing Pam of . If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you should! It's beautiful!

under the cover of darkness

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Were you a 'reading under the covers' type of kid when you were younger? I certainly was. I didn't mean to be a rebellious child, but it seemed that I could never get enough of the stories and the characters and the WORDS, oh, wonderful words. I devoured whatever I could find, and then hungered for more. I read my father's westerns, my mother's mysteries, and the Reader's Digest Condensed Books. The local librarians and I were on a first name basis. With all of this glorious material available, who could go an entire night without a book?
Already, my oldest child is shaping up to be a 'reading under the covers' kid. She is only four, and not yet able to read; but I have often found her flipping through her picture books and making up stories about the illustrations (holding whispered conversations with herself), when she should be sweetly dreaming instead. It makes a mother proud.

because half of an hour before Wednesday still equals Tuesday...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I've seen the Teaser Tuesday meme done on a couple of other blogs, but I'm not going to follow the exact same formula. What I'm going to do is this: If I have nothing else to share with you on any given Tuesday, I will pick up whichever book I happen to be reading at the time, and share a passage that I like, as well as a short synopsis of the book.

Book: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Synopsis: I picked up this book because someone recommended that I read The Poisonwood Bible, a different book by the same author. The Poisonwood Bible was checked out of my public library, and this one was not. So.
Prodigal Summer follows three different storylines, which all seem to have a pack of coyotes and a small town in the appalachian mountains as their connecting thread; but the characters in each storyline, so far, do not seem to have any other connection to each other. I will be interested to see how (and if) the various plots converge.
People in Appalachia insisted that the mountains breathed, and it was true: the steep hollow behind the farmhouse took up one long, slow inhalation every morning and let it back down through their open windows and across the fields throughout the evening-- just one full, deep breath each day.

Slow Language Friday - Ancient Chinese Poetry

Friday, August 28, 2009

I came across this poem just yesterday while I was looking for something entirely different. But, I was struck by the beauty of these four short lines and knew that I must feature them here. Ah, what loveliness can be found in simplicity.

Su Tung-Po

1036 - 1101


To what can our life on earth be likened?
To a flock of geese,
alighting on the snow
ometimes leaving a trace of their passage.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

I am a rereader. Sometimes, when I head to the bookshelf to find my next fix, I forgo the shiny new books in their uncrinkled dust jackets in order to reread a worn favorite. Strange, I know; but there is something about curling up with a familiar book that is cozy and comfortable. Every time I reread a book, I find plot points that I had missed before. I get a deeper insight into the world that exists inside of it. I greet the characters like old friends. (Ah, there you are, Jane. Tell me again about the day that you first met Mr. Rochester. Hello, Mr. Montag. Why don't we take a walk around the corner and catch up with Clarisse?)

How about you? Do you like to revisit the books that you love? Or do you read them once and move on, leaving the worlds to exist only in memory?

Mitford Book Review and an almost-apology

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I have learned something about myself as a blogger. I'm no good at sticking to weekly themes, and I'm no good at blogging every day. I know that I said I would review a different children's book every week, but I haven't come across any worth talking about since the last one. I know I promised to post poetry every Friday, but then I was busy and forgot, two weeks in a row. Really, I'm kind of terrible at this. But, I'm going to keep plugging along, and hopefully things will start to develop a rhythm as I get used to this book-blogging thing.

I recently joined a book club in my community, and it's a new experience for me. You may know that at one time this blog was built around a book club, but we had very little participation from our members and I finally just gave up on the idea. It's a completely different experience meeting in someone's home and discussing the book with five or six regular attendees, rather than two or three people in an otherwise empty online forum. I'm really enjoying it.

This month our Book Club Book was At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon, the story of Father Tim, who is a rector in the little town of Mitford. This book was a bit of a departure from the sort of thing that I usually choose to read. I admit that I would never have picked it up on my own. I'm generally bored by so-called 'christian fiction', finding the characters flat and the plots heavy-handed and predictable. Such was not the case with Jan Karon's work. There is nothing flat about her characters. They are quirky and unique, they have believable personalities and believable problems. At Home in Mitford is a charming book, despite being somewhat slow-paced. It is a nice, leisurely read. And while I won't be picking up the next book in the series right away (there are nine!) I'm sure I will revisit Mitford at some point in the future.

Sneak Peak: (In this scene are Father Tim, Cynthia, and Dooley. Cynthia is an artist and Father Tim's neighbor; and Dooley is a ten year old boy. Oh, yes. There's also Barnabas, the dog.)

"By the way," said his neighbor, "if you catch any moles this spring, I'd truly like to have one."
The idea was so grisly that Barnabas, who was lying by the fire, caught the sense of it and growled.
A dead mole! He'd never had such an odd and unwholesome request in his life.
"I'm about t'puke," said Dooley, vanishing into the kitchen.
"I suppose you think Beatrix Potter drew her creatures from imagination, or from one fleeting glance at something scampering acrosss the path?"
"You mean she didn't?"
"Of course not! She drew from life. Or death, if you will."
"You're by far the most unusual, that is to say, unique person I've had the privilege of meeting in years. "
"You're only too kind to call me unusual. I've been called worse!"
He smiled. "You don't say!"
"Certainly not."
"And even eccentric..."
"Entirely inaccurate!"
She sighed.
"There are those, " he said, "who call me odd, as well, so I understand. I was without a car for nearly eight years, and took up with a maverick dog who's disciplined only by the recitation of Scripture."
"How I wish that all of us might be disciplined that way."
There, he thought. What a grand thing to say.

My Rating:
I'll give Mitford a 7/10
It wasn't captivating enought to warrant a higher grade from me, but it was pleasant, well written and interesting enough to keep me reading. I would recommend it for sure if you're a fan of Christian Fiction and books about sleepy little towns, or if you're just looking for a change of pace.

Better late than never, right?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I have been a really bad blogger lately, and I missed two Slow Language Fridays. So, to make up for it, I'm putting up two new poems today, both by Lucille Clifton.
The first poem is light-hearted and a little bit sassy. I love the image that I get from the last three lines.

Lucille Clifton
June 1926

Homage to My Hips

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!


This second poem is quite a change of pace. It always hits me in a very tender place. But the strength that you can feel in the last stanza is very inspiring.

The Lost Baby Poem

the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned

you would have been born into winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car we would have made the thin
walk over Genesee hill into the Canada wind
to watch you slip like ice into strangers' hands
you would have fallen naked as snow into winter
if you were here i could tell you these
and some other things

if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers pour over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller
of seas let black men call me stranger
always for your never named sake

And Jane Austen spins in her grave

Thursday, August 20, 2009

There seems to be a disturbing trend when it comes to Jane Austen fan fiction lately. Maybe you've heard of the book that hit bookshelves everywhere earlier this year: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies... but did you know there's another one in the works? That's right, up next is Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. No, really. NO, really. And just today I came across another little gem. It seems that someone has decided to bank on the 'gentleman vampire mania' that the Twilight saga has induced among the female populace of the world and write a little book titled (wait for it)....

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.

Now, I have nothing against Austen fan fiction in general, I read Austenland and I enjoyed it... but this... this is just a little much. Then again, I suppose, if they can get away with writing this sort of thing and actually get paid for it, then good on them.
What do you think?

ABR - Alcatraz vs. the Evil librarians

This week's Audio Book Review is for another of Brandon Sanderson's books: Alcatraz vs. The Evil librarians.

About the book:
Alcatraz has spent his life being passed around to any foster family brave enough to take him. He never lasts long in any of these households, because he has an unusual (and potent) talent: he is able to break anything he touches.
On his thirteenth birthday he receives a package from his father, a package that is supposed to contain his inheritance, but only contains a bag of sand. In the next two chapters, several things happen in quick succession: Alcatraz burns down his foster parents' kitchen, a stranger shows up claiming to be his grandfather, Alcatraz's bag of sand is stolen, and a man with a gun threatens his life.

My Review:
This lighthearted, quirky audio book was a joy to listen to. The narrator, Charlie McWade, was perfect as Alcatraz and did a wonderful job with the voices and the personalities of the other characters, as well. I loved Alcatraz's exposition throughout the book, and his sarcastic asides often had me snorting out loud as I listened. The book is targeted at younger children, ages 9-12, but, as I may have mentioned before, I am a sucker for a good YA novel. And this is a good one. Fluffy, yes...but good. Central to the plot is a cult of evil librarians who control all of the information that reaches the Hushlands (otherwise known as the seven continents that we are all familiar with). During the course of the book, Alcatraz learns that he is tied to this cult of evil librarians because he is part of a very important family: The Smedrys. The Smedrys are part of the Free Kingdoms (several other continents and islands that the evil librarians don't want us to know about), and are all born with very specific talents, such as arriving late to things, being able trip and fall, and getting impossible amounts of water on the floor when they wash the dishes. The Smedrys use these unique talents to fight the empire that the evil librarians have built.

Sneak Peak:

"So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians."

If you would like to read more, there are three snippets available online on Brandon's website.

My Rating:
I give it 8/10
It was a fun read, and I'm planning to read the rest of the series, as well. Rutabaga.

15 Most Memorable Books

Monday, August 10, 2009

This is actually a Booking Through Thursday meme prompt, but despite the fact that today is Monday, I need something to write about. So:

"This can be a quick one. Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. The first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes."

Here are mine, in no particular order:

1. Fahrenheit 451 - by Ray Bradbury
This is possibly my favorite book of all time. It's a book about what would happen if people stopped reading. It's a book about how people are overstimulated and how the world moves too quickly. It's about burning books. It's about love. It's about hope. It's effing fantastic.

2. Watership Down - by Richard Adams
Yes, it's a book about rabbits. But not really. It's actually a book about society, and folklore and religion. And you should read it, even though you think it's just a book about rabbits.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird - by Harper Lee
Really, could any list of memorable books be complete without this classic on it? When I read it, I wanted to be Scout. I thought I WAS Scout.

4. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher - by Bruce Coville
I read this book when I was, maybe, 9 years old. It captured my imagination, and it broke my heart. This was the first book to ever make me cry. It's the book that started my love affair with the Fantasy genre.

5. Till We Have Faces- by C.S. lewis
An absolutely beautiful retelling of the myth of Eros and Psyche, told from the point of view of Psyche's "Plain-Jane" older sister. I reread this book every few years, and I love it more every time.

6. Wuthering Heights - by Emily Bronte
Heathcliff! Ah, Heathcliff! He is a despicable human being, but he is an amazing, complex character. This dark love story is one that has inspired a few of my own twisted character relationships.

7. I Capture the Castle -by Dodie Smith
This beautiful book was recommended to me by a friend just last year. I now count it as one of my top ten favorites. How can you not love a book whose first line is "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink"? Cassandra Mortmain is one of the most loveable characters I have ever had the good fortune to meet through my reading.

8. Dandelion Wine - by Ray Bradbury
This is, very simply, a book about one 12 year old boy's summer adventures. It's Ray Bradbury's beautiful prose without all of the martians and monsters. It's partly autobiographical, and almost more a collection of short stories than a novel, but it is spectacular. Read it.

9. 1984 - by George Orwell
One of the most fundamentally disturbing books that I have ever read. When I finished it I was left with a sense of dread and hopelessness. This is not a book that you forget.

10. The Last Unicorn - by Peter S. Beagle
No, this is not the book that the strange Tom Cruise movie from the '80s was based on. (For some reason, whenever I talk about The last Unicorn people ask me about this.) It's the book that the strange cartoon from the '80s is based on. Only it is infinitely better than the cartoon, obviously.

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - by Stephen Chbosky
This was my favorite book when I was a senior in highschool. It deals with the usual themes that teenagers are faced with, (drugs, sexuality, peer acceptance) and at that time in my life I found much to identify with in Charlie. I haven't read it in years, and need to read it again, but it is a book that has always stuck with me.

12. The Crucible - by Arthur Miller
Technically a play and not a novel, but I count it anyhow.

13. Stardust - by Neil Gaiman
Have you seen the movie, but never read the book? Then shame on you. This novel turned me on to the rest of Gaiman's work, but I think this might be my favorite of his. It is not as dark as his other novels, and is probably his most accessible bit of writing.

14. Les Miserables - by Victor Hugo
I have only read the abridged version as of yet, but when I read it I was captivated by the story of Jean Valjean. I have since gone on to become obsessed with the musical. I could sing you every song. Really, I could.

15. A Wrinkle in Time - by Madeleine L'engle
After I read this book, I devoured anything and everything I could find by L'engle. She is brilliant. There are a few of her books that I like more than A Wrinkle in Time, but I list this one because it is the one that started it all.

Annnd there we go. I even managed to steer away from any series' or trilogies. Quite a feat, I assure you.

*Edit* Upon rereading my post, I found that the above statement is not entirely factual. A Wrinkle in Time can be read as a standalone novel, but is considered part of a quintet, the other four books being A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters and An Acceptable Time... all of which are lovely books. More than once after reading them I wished that I could learn to Tesser and Kythe.

Catch-up mash-up

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sorry for the lack of updates during the past week. My internet service has been spotty, and I have had little time for extracurricular activities.
So, to make up for the neglect, I will pack three updates into one.

The first item of business: Children's Book Spotlight

There are rows upon rows of children's picture books in the library, and I have heard of very few of them. When The Monkey (my four year old girl) is choosing the books for herself, she invariably picks something because the cover has a cute animal on it (or because it's her favorite color-- pink), only to be disappointed or bored with the content when we sit down to read it together. When I am choosing the books I usually have very little time (or patience) to wander the stacks, and end up grabbing two or three books randomly off of the shelves for her. It's a hit-and-miss thing. Last week I got lucky, and I picked a good one. The Monkey loved it, so I thought I would share it here. I am also going to start a weekly Children's Book Spotlight. let me know if you have any books that you would like me to share here!

The Show-and-Tell Lion - Written by Barbara Abercrombie and Illustrated by Lynne Avril
Recommended for: Kindergarten-1st grade

It's Matthew's turn for show-and-tell and he doesn't have anything to share, so he says the first thing that comes to his mind: "I have a lion." His classmates think that this is wonderful. They ask him questions about his lion, and want to take a field-trip to his house to see it. Matthew has to think up more and more lies to answer his friends' questions and explain why they can't visit his pet lion.
Eventually, Matthew learns that it best to tell the truth.

This was a very cute story, and one that I will probably buy for my daughter, because she keeps asking me to reread it. The illustrations were wonderful. Matthew and his friends were painted in acrylic, while the lion (and all of Matthews lies about it) were drawn in chalk pastel, making it seem less substantial than the reality of the children and their classroom. I recommend it.
My Rating: 8/10

Next up: Audiobook Review

I love Audiobooks. Not as much as a real-life-hold-it-in-your-hand book, naturally, but... still, they are wonderfully handy things. I constantly have one on my iPod. I listen to audiobooks while I wash the dishes and fold the laundry. I listen to them while I run errands. I have so far avoided listening to them while I shop, as I am afraid that would cause chaos and result in my forgetting to buy several of the items on my list; but I might be tempted to try it, eventually.

A while ago my friend Ashlie recommended that I listen to the audiobook version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I was hesitant. I have never read the book. I was put off by the Disney movie, which I found disturbing as a child. As an adult I watched the movie again and could only deduce that it was illustrated by someone on an acid trip. Not my kind of thing. But I eventually succumbed, because I like Ashlie and we have very similar taste in literature. And the book was not bad at all. I do wish that I could have found the version that was read by Jim Dale, as I loved listening to him read Harry Potter, but I wasn't able to do so. The version that I was able to get was read by a woman named Devina Porter. Her voice was grating to me at first, but I got used to it soon enough. She did do a wonderful job using different voices for every character... except for the Chesire Cat. His voice just irritated me.
But, all in all, I thought that the book was much nicer than the movie; more a child's nonsensical dream and less a drug-induced hallucination. If you haven't read it before I would urge you to give it a try. I plan on reading Into the Looking Glass as soon as I have the time.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Though I wonder if it would be higher if I had heard it read by a different person, or simply read it myself.)

and lastly, as promised: Poetry Friday- The Slow Language Movement

Just a warning. This next poem is one that will not be enjoyed by everyone. The theme is very overtly (though not explicitly) sexual. But I find it a wonderful expression of desire, of yearning and of intimacy. I am captivated by the idea of being marked by your lover, of walking through markets and knowing that even the blind man knows whose wife you are, because you are marked by the scent of your husband's profession and by his desire for you. It is a beautifully written piece of poetry.

Michael Ondaatje

born September 12,1943


If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler's wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
-- your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers...

When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter's wife, the lime burner's daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.
and knew
what good is it
to be the lime burner's daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of a scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

The Slow Language Movement

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yesterday I came across an article by Author/Poet Nick Laird, about how the Internet, social networks, and texting are affecting the way we process the written word. He writes about the difficulty that he has had lately in re-reading Dr. Johnson and Henry James, and suggests that in a world that is moving so fast, we forget what it is to sit and ponder the subtleties of language.
I agree. Often the constant bombardment of information, noise and technology that I absorb leaves me feeling overstimulated and dull-witted, and at the end of the day I am left with little patience for heavy language, turning instead to fluffy novels for entertainment.
So, how are we to combat this apathy of thought? Laird suggests that poets, and those who read poetry, are part of a Slow Language Movement (a nod to Italy's Slow Food Movement). Poetry is a medium that does not lend itself to speed. Poetry is not something that can be devoured, it must be savoured; each word and every sentence rolled around inside of our minds before the full meaning can take root.
In honor of the Slow Language Movement, I have decided to feature a poem on this blog every Friday. I hope you will take a moment to sit and ponder the poetry with me.
Let's start with one of my very favorite poets, and one of my very favorite poems:

E.E. Cummings
October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962

anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

"Warbreaker" by Brandon Sanderson

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

About the Author
Brandon Sanderson is fairly new to the writing scene (his first novel, Elantris, was published in 2005); but he is already shaping up to be a prolific author. Warbreaker is his 8th published work, and was released just last month.
Despite being a virtual unknown, Brandon was chosen by Robert Jordan's widow to complete the well-loved Wheel of Time saga, and has also signed a contract with Tor for a ten-book epic fantasy series. I, for one, look forward to seeing more from him.
Brandon's most popular work is the Mistborn trilogy. You can find my initial reactions to Sanderson and Mistborn here and here.

About the Book
Warbreaker was an experiment for Brandon. He released early versions of the chapters and all subsequent rewrites online for fans to read. He wanted to show his writing process and let his readers get a glimpse of the evolution of the story. He also accepted feedback from readers of the early drafts. You can still find the drafts online through Brandon's Blog or his forum at the Time Waster's Guide.

My Review (spoiler free)

As a fan of Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy, I expected a lot out of Warbreaker. I went into the book ready to be blown away by yet another unique system of magic, a character driven plot and some astonishing plot twists. Unfortunately, Warbreaker only delivered part of the time.

Don't get me wrong, it does have its strengths. The magic is, of course, one of the best parts of the book. Once again Sanderson gives us a glimpse of his vivid imagination, creating a world where magic is made possible by gaining extra "BioChromatic Breath". Every person is born with just one Breath, but Breaths can be given away, and are often bought and sold. While lacking the dynamic that Mistborn's Allomancy had with its Kung Fu-like action, this new power (called Awakening) is very interesting in that it has an obvious price, and the method used to gain it is questionable. The bad part is that I didn't get to see as much of the magic as I would like, and didn't get a thorough explanation of it until well past the book's halfway mark.

Warbreaker is also interesting in that it explores the idea of a living pantheon of resurected gods, called 'Returned'. The Returned are supposedly people who died in a heroic way and were sent back for a specific purpose. Unfortunately, the Returned can't remember anything of their previous lives, and don't know the reason that they were sent back.

There are four 'main' characters between which the POV shifts:
Vasher- A shady character who is first seen breaking out of prison, and who keeps you guessing as to his identity throughout the book.
Siri- The youngest daughter of the king of Idris, a rebellious and headstrong girl who enjoys being 'redundant' and having no specific duties to perform.
Vivenna - The oldest daughter of the Idrian king, who has been promised since before her birth to Susebron, the God King of the neighboring country, Hallandren. She is described by Siri as 'Perfect'.
Lightsong- One of Hallandren's Returned and, in his own words, 'Possibly the only God that doesn't believe in his own religion."

The book had a strong opening, introducing us to the enigmatic Vasher in the prologue and giving us a glimpse of the magic right away. From there we switch perspectives and meet Siri, who lives in Idris, a land that forbids the use of magic or any kind of 'ostentation', including colorful clothing. We learn that the king of Idris has decided that he can't part with his oldest daughter, Vivenna, and has decided to send Siri, unprepared and uneducated in the ways of Hallendren, to wed the God King in Vivenna's place. When Vivenna learns that Siri has been sent in her place, she journeys to the gaudy and 'ostentatious' city of T'Telir, Hallandren's capitol, to rescue her little sister... All good stuff. But then the book starts to sag.
We have some good comic relief in the form of Lightsong's self-deprecation and the mercenary humor of Denth and Tonk Fah, but very little in the way of action or incident. While everything that happens does serve to forward the plot, I feel that it does it at too slow a pace. There is also entirely too much focus on Vivenna, as far as I am concerned. She is my least favorite of the characters, and often falls a little flat in terms of personality. The last third of the book picks up the pace quite nicely again, but then the various threads seem to come together too quickly, and too neatly. The book suffers from a bit of a pacing problem.
But... I was generally satisfied with the story and, though it was originally meant to be a standalone novel, I hope that Sanderson reconsiders and lets us revisit the colorful world of Warbreaker sometime in the future. He certainly left it open to sequels...

In Summary
The Bad:
-The Prose, while competent, is a bit uninspired and lacks color.
-The word 'ostentation' is actually used eight times on one page!
-There are some pacing problems.
-The ending suffers a bit from Dues ex Machina syndrome.
-The witty banter, while generally funny, can sometimes be a bit much.

The Good:
-Nightblood. My favorite character isn't even really a character!
-The dynamic between Siri and Susebron.
-Vasher's use of Awakening is pretty cool.
-The idea of The Lifeless. You can't go wrong with zombie armies. I especially loved the Lifeless squirrel.
-There were a couple of plot twists that came out of nowhere!

My Rating
I give Warbreaker a 7.5 /10
I would recommend it to any Fantasy or Science Fiction fans, but wouldn't say that it is representative of Brandon Sanderson's best work, or even a top shelf Fantasy/Science Fiction book. Maybe second shelf. It is definitely nowhere near the caliber of Mistborn.

From Book Club to Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Because the book club idea turned out to be a bust, I've decided to use this blog as a place for my book reviews, instead. Even though barely anyone will read them. Ah, well.
I changed the name of the blog to 'Outside of a Dog' because of the quote by Groucho Marx, thinking that it was a clever idea for a blog title; but when I attempted to change the url of the blog to match, I realized that too many people had the idea before I did. Not so clever, I guess.

The words and phrases that I have tried to use for my url:

Words and phrases unrelated to the Groucho Marx quote that I've tried to use for my url:

Yeah. They're all taken. And the saddest part? Most of these blogs have been abandoned. Grr. So what now? Anyone have any ideas for a url to tie the blog's theme together? 'Cause I'm all out.

Tomorrow's post: A review of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Still Interested?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

We haven't had any participation in our discussions lately, though a few of you are still choosing books and voting in the polls. So I'm going to ask that any of you who are still interested in participating leave a comment on this post. If I get any responses we'll try this out for one more month. If not, I'm just going to scrap it.
So, let me know: Do you still want to be a part of the book club? Is there something you would like us to do better?

Oldies but Goodies

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I was recently thinking about old books that I used to love as a kid. Thought I'd share. The pigeon book is a newer one that my family loves now.

May Books

Monday, April 27, 2009

Here are Megan Jimenez's book choices for May, everyone remember to vote!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Audiobook Review - The Graveyard Book

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Newberry Medal winner, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is a sort of tribute to Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. It's the story of Nobody Owens ('Bod' for short) a boy who is raised by ghosts after his family is murdered. The graveyard where Bod grows up is populated by many interesting and mysterious characters, including ghosts, witches, Hounds of God and a man who is very possibly a vampire.
Bod is a wonderful character: Honest, loveable and open. You will enjoy seeing him grow up, make mistakes and learn about the world around him. The Graveyard Book is marketed as a children's book (ages 11 and up), and despite Gaiman's penchant for the macabre I think it works well as a story for children. But it is a children's book that will appeal to many adult readers, as well. Gaiman is one of those rare authors that does not talk down to his readers, and that makes his stories very accessible.
Neil Gaiman has long been a favorite author of mine, but this is the first time I've listened to one of his audiobooks. May I just say that his voice is delicious? That's right, Mr. Gaiman reads his own book, and he does it very well.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Book Club Pick for April is:

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

I'm sad to say that I've never read this classic book before, neither have I seen the movie. But I will be doing both this month!

Book Choices for April

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thank you to Monica for choosing our books for next month!

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

Breakfast at Tiffany's
- Truman Capote

The Kindly Ones - Jonathon Littell

Don't forget to vote for whichever book you would most like to read. And if you are finished reading March's book, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, feel free to start a discussion over at our Forum.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is my attempt at an interesting post (of which I promised awhile back).

I found a bit of interesting information at this website:

The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA contains 28 million books and has 532 miles of shelving.

If you were driving at a constant 70 mph in a car it would take you just under 8 hours to pass them all. And thats without stopping to go to the toilet!

The British Library in London is the 2nd biggest with 18 million books.

Now, that's a lot of books!

Also, I just finished reading The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. If anyone likes mystery novels you should check this one out for sure. It's witty, funny, and captivating. The characters were interesting and likable, and the plot took some pretty unexpected turns.

Hope everyone is planning on reading Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict! Happy Reading all!