Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October in Review

This month I am surprised to have read 19 books. It felt like I wasn't reading as much as usual but then a lot of the books I read this month were shorter children's books. I'm happy to say I didn't have any DNF's. My favourite book for October was so hard to choose as I read so many great ones but in the end my decision was based on pure enjoyment, but the worst book was an easy choice to make. Since I am trying to read more Canadian I am also starting this month to track Canadian authors read.

Worst book for October: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Best book for October: Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter

104. Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence
103. Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson
102. Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
101. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
100. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
99. Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
98. The Alchemist's Dream by John Wilson
97. Bub, Snow, and the Burly Bear Scare by Carol and Bill Wallace (RA)
96. The Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan
95. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (RA)
94. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
93. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
92. The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
91. Practical Demonkeeping: A Comedy of Horrors by Christopher Moore
90. Ereth's Birthday by Avi (RA)
89. Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh
88. The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry
87. The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (RA)
86. Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs

October Total: 19
Total Pages: 4405
Books by Canadian authors: 4

September Total: 19
Total Pages: 4889

August Total: 18
Total Pages: 5133

July Total: 14
Total Pages: 4216

#104. Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

Pages: 261
Finished: Oct. 31, 2007
Reason for Reading: this is on the shortlist for the Gov. Gen. award for children's lit. It also qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge
First Published: 2006
Genre: YA/children fiction
Awards: PNBA Children's Book Award
Author's website
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

The sheriff leaned back with his feet on the desk, watching the blond-haired boy.

Comments: One family leads it's life of joys and sorrows amidst the beginnings of both the Vietnam War and the space race. The father is obsessed with building a fallout shelter for the family, the mother spends most of her time in the basement writing the next 'Gone With the Wind', and then there are the boys, one who wants to be an astronaut while the other who wants nothing more than to have a dog. The vivid portrayal of life during this time reminded me so much of the movie 'Stand By Me'. Tragedy hits this family and the way they suffer, the way they deal and the way they cope is riveting. The writing was mesmerizing, I found myself pulled into this book and living along side the characters. For me this was a perfect book, a reader couldn't ask for more. A beautiful, wonderful story of family. Highly recommended!

I've now read three of the books shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature and at this point this one is my favourite. Read my reviews of the others on the shortlist here:
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Alchemist's Dream by John Wilson

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

RIP II Challenge Completed

The RIP II Challenge I participated in was to read 4 books and then I gave myself a personal challenge to try and read 10 books. I have completed the challenge as follows with links to my review:

1) Gossamer by Lois Lowry

2) Pure Dead Wicked by Debi Gliori

3) Carrie by Stephen King

4) Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

5) Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr

6) I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

7) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The above seven were from my original list.

8) The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason

9) Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason

10) The Dark Goodbye by Frank Marraffino

And out of the ten books I read, I own four of them and borrowed from the library the other six.

From the Stacks Challenge

One more challenge I have to join! This one is much needed. The From the Stacks Challenge runs from Nov. 1st until Jan. 30 and the rules are to read 5 books you have been meaning to read and already own and, in my case, are currently on my bedside table.

1) Brighty of Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
2) The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
3) Salem's Lot by Stephen King
4) Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
5) Interworld by Neil Gaiman

#103. Horns and Wrinkles

Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson
illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Pages: 360
Finished: Oct. 29, 2007
Reason for Reading: I saw this on display at the library and was drawn to the artwork on the cover and then thought it sounded intriguing.
First Published: 2006
Genre: children's fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

My cousin Duke's troubles on the river started the day he dangled me off the wagon wheel bridge.

Comments: Duke is a bully who is always tormenting his cousin, Claire but unfortunately for Duke they happen to live along a stretch of the Mississippi River that is under a magical spell. It is here that all the creatures of magic live and they have a special fate handed out to those humans who enjoy bullying. This is a really cute story but I'm sorry to say I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The story is fun and there is a large cast of strange and magical characters that are a delight to meet. However, there are just too many characters, with none of them developed to a point where the reader cares for them and that is the downfall of this book. I actually had to look up the name of the main character, Claire, for this review as I couldn't remember it.

I also think more credit is due to Nicoletta Ceccoli for the illustrations both on the cover and under each chapter heading. I'm surprised her name is not on the title page but only found in tiny print on the copyright page.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

#102. Blindsighted

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
First in the Grant County Series

Pages: 310
Finished: Oct. 28, 2007
Reason for Reading: I had heard this author compared to Kathy Reichs so I wanted to try the first in her series.
First Published: 2001
Genre: thriller, mystery
Author's website
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Sara Linton leaned back in her chair, mumbling a soft "Yes, Mama" into the telephone.

Comments: Sara Linton, county coroner, finds a woman viciously murdered in the bathroom of the local diner. Only days later, another victim is found similarly slain. Sara and her ex-husband, Jeffrey, the county sheriff, find themselves searching for a sadistic rapist/murderer. Thus begins one of the most horrific, tense thrillers I have read lately. The details of the scenes inside the killer's lair are riveting and not for the faint of heart. I read this book until the wee hours of the morning and upon wakening picked it up again. Not only is the crime itself riveting but the cast of characters are so well-developed. I am eager to meet them again in the next book, Kisscut.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

#101. Elijah of Buxton

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curits

Pages: 344
Finished: Oct. 24, 2007
Reason for Reading: this book is on the shortlist for the Governor General's Children's Lit Award and it qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge
First Published: 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction, Children
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

It was Sunday after church and all my chores were done.

Comments: This book tells a tale of pioneer life in Ontario during the year 1859. But these are not your ordinary pioneers. Buxton is a Black Settlement, inhabited mostly by escaped slaves from the Southern United States. This is a warm, touching and humorous look at the day-to-day life of these people as they adjust and learn to lead a life of freedom. The escapades of the main character, Elijah, reminded me of the "Great Brain" books and I laughed out loud many times. But alongside this new life of freedom we also witness the horrors of slavery and the mind boggles at the reality of it. I cried with tears of joy when newly escaped slaves arrived to the settlement. I was stupefied at the inhumanity as free-born Elijah travels to Michigan and witnesses slaves in chains. I felt proud of my country when I learned that Canada was once called the 'land of milk and honey' and 'the land of the free'. This is an emotional book. I highly recommend this book to both Canadians and Americans as a part of our combined history.

I hadn't heard of Buxton before, but have since found that it isn't all that far from where I live. We could certainly go there for a day trip and I definitely plan on making the trip next summer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Library Stack

It's time to take stock of the library books. My pile is getting a bit out of hand. I have books that need to be renewed and too many ILL books that need to be read before they have to be returned.

So here is where we stand with the library books. First up are 4 that didn't make it to the photo shoot.

1) Poppy by Avi - I'm currently reading this to my 7yo. It's an ILL book.

2) Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl - I'm also currently reading this to the 7yo. This is our morning book, and Poppy is our afternoon book.

3) The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle - my dh is currently reading this to the 7yo at bedtime.

4) The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater - this is waiting in the wings to be read at bedtime next, and will need to be renewed soon.

Now back to the books in the photo, from the top down we have:

5) Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis - I'm currently reading this. It's on the shortlist for the Gov. Gen. Award.

6) Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson - I have to renew this is a few days so will be reading it very soon.

7) Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter - Another that needs to be renewed soon.

8) Eye of the Crow: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His First Case by Shane Peacock - I'll be reading this for the Canadian Book Challenge.

9) The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor - Another one for the Canadian Book Challenge.

10) Five Mile House by Karen Novak - this has been on my tbr list for a while

11) The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen - another from the tbr list.

12) Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - tbr list strikes again.

13) Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence - this is on the short list for the Gov. Gen award and an ILL book.

14) Kanada by Eva Wiseman - another from the Gov. Gen shortlist and also an ILL book.

This is the point of library books when I start to get anxious. I love reading library books, especially since I do not have the money to buy new books hardly ever. But I hate having to take them back by a due date, it's so much pressure. So I am going to try and stay away for a couple of weeks and whittle down this stack. Oh, I do have one more book on ILL that hasn't come in yet. Hopefully, I can stay away from the shelves when I go pick it up!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

#100 1/2 . Flossie and the Fox

I don't usually review picture books here but this book was too much fun not to mention it.

Flossie & the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack
illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Pages: 32
Finished: Oct. 23, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1986
Genre: children's picture book, folk tale
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

"Flo-o-o-ossie!" The sound of Big Mama's voice floated past the cabins in Sophie's Quarters, round the smokehouse, beyond the chicken coop, all the way down to Flossie Finley."

Comments: An African-American deep South version of the traditional Red Riding Hood fairy tale. In this rendition Flossie is taking a basket of eggs to a neighbours house and is met by a Fox in the woods. Flossie refuses to believe he is a fox, since she's never seen one before, and the fox tries to prove himself to her. This is a picture book with a lot of text and what beautiful language in this wonderful tale. Told in a rural Black dialect the words are vivid. Both the text and the illustrations convey a sense of mischief that builds until the last hilarious page. The 7yo was laughing out loud and so proud of Flossie at the end of the tale. Highly Recommended.

Monday, October 22, 2007

#100. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Pages: 184
Finished: Oct. 22, 2007
Reason for Reading: This book was chosen for me on the GRTB thread at LibraryThing. My final book for the RIP Challenge.
First Published: 1817
Genre: Gothic fiction
Rating: 2/5

First Sentence:

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

Comments: I have recently wanted to read Jane Austen again for some time. I had previously read two of her other novels (Pride and Prejudice and Emma) but that was a very long time ago. I've now decided I am not a Jane Austen fan. This is a rather average romance story which is said to be a parody of the classic Gothic novels. The plot (what there was of it) was decent enough but I just felt like I was wading through pages of drivel. I found the dialogue irritating, the banter between the men and women just made me want to scream. Although the style of writing and the language used by the author is indeed beautiful I found the characters immensely irritating. Austen is not for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saskatchewan Book Awards

The shortlist for the Saskatchewan Book Awards was announced on the 18th. The following books have been shortlisted for the Children's Literature category:

Beverley Brenna, The Moon Children (Red Deer Press)

Glenda Goertzen, City Dogs (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

R.P. MacIntyre, Feeding at Nine (Thistledown Press)

Anne Patton and Wilfred Burton, Michif translation by Norman Fleury, illustrated by Sherry Farrell Racette, Fiddle Dancer (Gabriel Dumont Institute)

Arthur Slade, Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (Coteau Books for Kids)

Bill Waiser, Tommy Douglas (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

The winners will be announced on Nov. 24.

YA Challenge

I read a lot of YA and children's books but most of the authors I read are either British or American. So I am working on a personal challenge to read more Canadian YA and children's books next year. Then I saw Joy had planned a YA Challenge for 2008. This should help me keep on track with my goal. All the books I've chosen are either by a Canadian author or take place in Canada

Rules: read 12 YA books in 2008

1. The Serpent's Spell by Rae Bridgman

2. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

3. The Aquanauts by John Lunn

4. Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade

5. The Serpent's Egg by J. Fitzgerald McCurdy

6. Porcupine by Meg Tilly

7. Rex Zero and the End of the World by Tim Wynne-Jones

8. Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer

9. Up to Low by Brian Doyle

10. The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac

11. The Canning Season by Polly Horvath

12. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

#99. Kensuke's Kingdom

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Pages: 164
Finished: Oct. 20, 2007
Reason for Reading: I've wanted to try one of Morpurgo's books for a while.
First Published: 1999
Genre: children, fiction
Awards: Red House Children's Book Award
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

I disappeared on the night before my twelfth birthday.

Comments: Michael's parents have decided to travel around the world by boat. Everything was going wonderfully until one fateful night when Michael is swept overboard. He ends up on a deserted island in the south pacific only to find that among the monkeys and orangutans there is another inhabitant, a Japanese man shipwrecked during WWII.

This is a wonderful book. The voice is that of a fictional memoir and the writing is vivid. Morpurgo has a way of drawing you in to experience the sights, the sounds, the smells. A beautiful, touching story with an unexpected ending. Highly recommended.

I will certainly be reading another by this author and if it is anywhere near as good as this one, I will have found another favourite author.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

#98. The Alchemist's Dream

The Alchemist's Dream by John Wilson

Pages: 248
Finished: Oct. 20, 2007
Reason for Reading: this book is on the shortlist for the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature, it also qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge
First Published: 2007
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

Robert Bylot was waiting for death.

Comments: A fresh, intriguing hypothesis to the solution of the mystery surrounding Henry Hudson's last fatal voyage. This is a story of Henry Hudson but much more so a story of Robert Bylot, an obscure explorer, and John Dee, a geographer and occultist. The tale of how these three people's lives may have intertwined is fascinating. The book does start off very slow, there is a heavy hand of history and geography to set the scene which borders on being pedantic. I think the reader would have been better served with an illustrated map on the endpapers and really am dismayed that one wasn't included. However, the author manages to provoke our interest in the characters enough until the mid-point of the novel where the plot line picks up and the reading flows much easier. This is a Young Adult novel and suitable for the upper age range as this realistic portrait of life on the high-seas includes very graphic and gory battle scenes. Overall, this is a fascinating topic and a glimpse into an era where the boundaries between science and magic were blurry. Recommended.

Friday, October 19, 2007

#97. Bub, Snow, and the Burly Bear Scare

Bub, Snow, and the Burly Bear Scare by Carol and Bill Wallace. Illustrated by John Steven Gurney
Bub Moose, Book 1

Pages: 118
Finished: Oct. 19, 2007
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 2002
Genre: children's, animal fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Tiny specks of ice filled the air and bit into my hide.

Comments: I hadn't heard of this book nor had I ever read a book by the Wallaces before but the cover was cute and the Wallaces have written a lot of books so I thought it was worth trying. Bub and his mother travel to the valley for the winter and meet up with other creatures of the forest including a nearby people family and a grouchy bear. We really enjoyed this book and it won't be the last we read by the authors. This is actually a sequel to another book but read as a stand-alone nicely. This is a talking animal story but is not fantastical at all, the animals are very much regular animals and we learn a lot about the forest wildlife as the mother teaches young Bub. Many funny scenes and the characters were adorable. My favourite was a horse on the farm who wasn't originally from the valley but came from "The Valley", and talked like a Valley Girl. My son's favourite was the grumbling beaver who was still working on his lodge even though winter had already come. Recommended for 7-9 year olds.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

#96. A Gift of Magic

A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan

Pages: 230
Finished: Oct. 17, 2007
Reason for Reading: Lois Duncan is a new favourite author and I'm reading her books
First Published: 1971
Genre: supernatural
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

"Once upon a time in a house by the sea, lay an old woman, a special old woman who had the gift of magic."

Comments: An old woman lays dying and she bequeaths each of her grandchildren a gift: the gift of music, the gift of dance and the gift of magic. Nancy received the gift of magic and she comes to realize that using her gift for evil is very easy but to use her gift for good is so much harder. Lois Duncan delivers again! This is another wonderful book. Most of the book reads like a typical teen novel centering around the relationships of the siblings with each other and their recently divorced mother. Then the magic element is introduced and the atmosphere turns creepy. I've learnt I cannot predict a Lois Duncan ending and once again the story took a turn I hadn't expected and the very last sentence of the book is fabulous.

I am really impressed with Duncan as an author. One thing that really impresses me is how her novels written in the sixties and seventies are not dated. Other YA authors should take note. Duncan does not use slang nor make pop-culture references and technology is very rarely mentioned. Occasionally there is a tiny indication that gives it away such as a mention of the Vietnam War or as in this novel with a mention of a Ford Fairlane. But her work (that I've read so far) is timeless and as relevant today as it was 30-40 years ago.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Governor General's Children's Lit Shortlist

The shortlist was announced today for Canada's Governor General's Literary Awards in the category of children's literature. There are awards for French, English, text and illustration. I'm interested in the English text award and plan to try and read all five shortlisted titles of which I have so far read zero. Sadly, my library only has two of the titles in circulation so I had to put the other three on Inter Library Loan. Hopefully, I'll receive them in time to read before the winner is announced on November 27.

Historical fiction is the theme of the day as each of the five titles takes place in the past: an American painter, escaped slaves in Ontario, 1960's space program, the explorer Henry Hudson, and a Hungarian Jew in Auschwitz. I'm very excited to read each of these.

The shortlist:

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting by Hugh Brewster

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis -

Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

The Alchemist's Dream by John Wilson (Review here)

Kanada by Eva Wiseman

#95. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
illustrated by Hilary Knight

Pages: 119
Finished: Oct. 17, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1947
Genre: children, fantasy, humour
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

I expect I might as well begin by telling you all about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle so that whenever I mention her name, which I do very often in this book you will not interrupt and ask, "Who is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? What does she look like? How big is she? How old is she? What color is her hair? Is her hair long? Does she wear high heels? Does she have any children? Is there a Mr. Piggle-Wiggle?"

Comments: This is a hilarious, rollicking-good-fun read aloud. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house and knows everything there is to know about children. She also has the most wonderful cures for common childhood ailments such as won't-pick-up-toy-itis and won't-take-a-bath-itis. Told in an episodic format, each chapter is it's own little story. I believe some of the chapters have been published as picture books also. My 7yo enjoyed this very much. We both laughed out loud and both have the same favourite chapter which is the story of the little girl who wouldn't wash and ended up having radishes growing out of her forehead. I've read this book several times now but haven't read any of the sequels but I think I may have to change that. I also must mention that the Hilary Knight (best known for the Eloise books) illustrations are adorable.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

#94. The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

Pages: 163
Finished: Oct. 16, 2007
Reason for Reading: 2nds challenge
First Published: 1946
Genre: Southern gothic, fiction, coming of age story
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old.

Comments: Twelve-year-old Frankie is fed up with her small town life where the only things that change are for the worse. Then one day, her brother announces he is getting married and the next two weeks take Frankie on a whirlwind as she becomes obsessed with the wedding and the new life she could have if her brother and his wife would only take her with them. This coming of age story was beautifully written. I was drawn into McCuller's world, smelling the smells and feeling the heat. Even though this is such a short book, it was a slow, leisurely read. I found myself stopping and savouring the scenes before I could start to read again. This book leaves me with a wistful, melancholy feeling. This is my second McCuller's book and I rather enjoy her not-so-happy endings. Recommended.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

War of 1812 Re-enactment

We had a fabulous day today!

195 years ago on this very date, Oct. 13 1812, the Battle of Queenston Heights was fought. Today we went to the re-enactment. People from all over Canada and the US came today to re-enact the battle on the very same day on the very same soil. Here are a few pictures I took.

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

War of 1812 Re-Enactment

#93. A Single Shard

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Pages: 152
Finished: Oct. 12, 2007
Reason for Reading: Newbery Project, book awards challenge
First Published: 2001
Awards: Newbery Medal
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

"Eh, Tree-Ear! Have you hungered well today?" Craneman called out as Tree-ear drew near the bridge.

Comments: An orphan boy in 12th century Korea lives under the bridge with a crippled man. He is fascinated with the pottery made by the craftsman in the nearby pottery village. He is taken on as an apprentice and his life slowly changes. This was a good book, a nice pleasant read but I guess I expected something more from a Newbery winner. I enjoy pretty much anything written about ancient Asia and this did give a wonderful portrayal of Korean life at the time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

#92. The Tin Flute

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
Translated by Alan Brown

Pages: 389
Finished: Oct. 12, 2007
Reason for Reading: this book was chosen for me on the GRTB game on LibraryThing. It also qualifies for both the Book Awards Challenge and the Canadian Book Challenge
First Published: 1945
Awards: Governor General's Award, Prix Femina of France
Genre: literature, fiction
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Toward noon, Florentine had taken to watching out for the young man who, yesterday, while seeming to joke around, had let her know he found her pretty.

Comments: Nineteen year old Florentine Lacasse works in a diner at the back of a department store. She is the eldest of 11 children with one more on the way. Her father has never held a steady job and she is the primary money earner of the family. Florentine is chasing after a young man who is rising up in the world, yet he holds her in disdain for the poverty she exudes.

This is a novel of characters and far from a plot-driven story. We intimately get to know the parents of Florentine, a couple of her siblings and the two men in her life. These people become a part of your life as you learn their innermost thoughts.

Set in 1939, during the first year of Canada's involvement in World War II, The Tin Flute is a stark portrayal of poverty. This is a dark, tragic story in a world where men sign up for the army to escape from their poverty.

The first 100 pages were very slow and hard for me to read. I almost gave up on this book but I'm very glad I didn't. This is one of those books that will haunt me for a very long time.

Monday, October 8, 2007

#91. Practical Demonkeeping

Practical Demonkeeping: A Comedy of Horrors by Christopher Moore

Pages: 243
Finished: Oct. 7, 2007
Reason for Reading: I'm reading everything by Christopher Moore
First Published: 1992
Genre: comedy, horror
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

The Breeze blew into San Junipero in the shotgun seat of Billy Winston's Pinto wagon.

Comments: Travis has been a demonkeeper for seventy years and when he and his demon, Catch, arrive in Pine Cove the Djinn who has been hunting Catch is waiting for them. This is Moore's first book and definitely an enjoyable read but not as good as his later work. The characters are a lot of fun though not as well developed as in his other books. A recommended read but if you are new to Christopher Moore start with something else so you can read him at his best.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Library Day


It is an incredibly overcast day today so my photo is really lousy, but if I wait for a nicer day I probably won't get around to taking the photo!

Today was library day and I decided to go 'sans' list. I usually have my big tbr notebook with me and make my choices from that but I was feeling like there is no spontaneity to my reading these days so I left the list at home and roamed the library at will. I also made a conscience choice to not take out too many books since my bedside table has about 28 books (that I own) on it waiting to be read.

From the bottom up we have:

Batman - Under the Hood - I am a superhero geek and love Batman.

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter - Now that I'm caught up with Kathy Reichs, I need to find something to fill it's spot in my reading regime and am going to try this one.

XXXHolic vol. 1 & 2 - my library has an incredibly lousy selection of manga so I take what they have, I've read good things about this one though.

Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson - this was a totally blind pick, I've never heard of the author or this book. I was struck by the cover art first then fascinated by the story blurb, a fantasy that takes place along the banks of the Mississippi. I love Southern novels, now throw in fantasy, I couldn't resist.

A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan - a new favourite author for me, I'm trying to pick up one of her books every time I go to the library.

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park - a Newbery winner for the Newbery Project

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo - I stumbled across this author by accident once when I was browsing around and have wanted to read him ever since.

Here's hoping I have some good reading ahead of me!
And in case I don't post again this weekend


Friday, October 5, 2007

#90. Ereth's Birthday

Ereth's Birthday by Avi
Fourth in the Tales from Dimwood Forest

Pages: 196
Finished: Oct. 5, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 2000
Genre: children's animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

In Dimwood Forest, in the dark, smelly log where the old porcupine Erethizon Dorsatum lived, Ereth--as he preferred to call himself--woke slowly.

Comments: Ereth happens upon a mother fox caught in a trap who pleads with him to look after her kits. After she dies Ereth, much to his chagrin, accepts the task but unbeknownst to him he is being stalked by Marty the Fisher. This is top-notch animal fantasy, it doesn't get much better than this! The fourth in a series is just as incredible as the previous entries. This book can also be read independently from the series (or out of order) as it revolves around a different character than the others. The 7yo was captivated with this book, he couldn't wait each day for our reading and I was cajoled into reading 3 chapters a day instead of our usual two. We laughed, we cried, we highly recommend this book!

#89. Enter a Murderer

Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh
Second in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn mysteries

Pages: 255
Finished: Oct. 5, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 1935
Genre: cozy mystery
Rating: 2/5

First Sentence:

On May 25th Arthur Surbonadier, whose real name was Arthur Simes, went to visit his uncle, Jacob Saint, whose real name was Jacob Simes.

Comments: Ugh! I've read about 6 other books in this series and enjoyed them all. This was a big disappointment. Incredibly boring and long-winded. I really look forward to the characterization in these books but this time they were very poorly described and everyone seemed to be the same character. It was very difficult to differentiate one from the other. Needless to say I gave up caring whodunit, and thirty pages from the end I started skimming to get it over with. I really like Marsh but I recommend skipping this one.

Canadian Book Challenge

Just what I need, another challenge! I was going to set a personal challenge for myself to try and read at least 1 Canadian authored book every month and I've just come upon this challenge. The Canadian Book Challenge runs from Oct 4 - July 1, 2008. Read 13 books about Canada or by a Canadian author.

I'm not going to make a definite list but rather pick books as they come to me. But I do have a few Canadian books lined up in my tbr pile at the moment which I will list here.

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

#88. The Silent Boy

The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry

Pages: 178
Finished: Oct. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: I am a fan of Lois Lowry and hadn't read this one
First Published: 2003
Genre: children's fiction
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

I am a very old woman now.

Comments: This is a fictional memoir of an elderly woman who tells the story of her Pre World War I childhood and in particular her relationship with a boy who was "touched". We are never told what was wrong with the boy (I think in a effort to not apply modern day labels) but from the symptoms I came to believe he was autistic. This is a deceptively simple story. It is a sweet, quaint, nostalgic look at a time when telephones and cars were very new. Every chapter is illustrated with a photograph of the period which adds to the nostalgia. Slowly, as events unfold we become aware that something is not right and the ending is terribly tragic. In fact, we are warned on the opening page that this is a sad story, yet that warning slipped away from me as I was immersed in the simple lives of the characters. This is a book that you stagger away from and makes you think how something so awfully sad and tragic could happen.

This book was filed in the children's section of my library, and it is a short, easy read but I think the full force of the story would be much more appreciated by a YA.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

#87. The House at Pooh Corner

The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
Sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh

Pages: 181
Finished: Oct. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1928
Genre: children's classic, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought he would do something, so he went round to Piglet's house to see what Piglet was doing.

Comments: This sequel is just as endearing and beautiful as the first story of Winnie-the-Pooh. This is the book in which we meet Tigger and all the friends we are familiar with are now together. The 7yo enjoyed this tremendously and we experienced many laugh-out-loud moments. The language in the book is simply beautiful. This is a book which demands to be read aloud. Ever since we started reading the Pooh books we've found him becoming a part of our lives. My son likes to make up little songs and now he says he just feels a little 'hummy' like Pooh. The ending is so sweet and I found myself all teary-eyed as I read it. This is a book that will stay with us forever. A must read!

#86. Bones to Ashes

Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
Tenth in the Temperance Brennan series

Pages: 310
Finished: Oct. 1, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 2007
Genre: mystery, forensic crime
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Babies die.

Comments: This is the newest book in the Temperance Brennan series and it is right on track. The story starts with missing girls and unidentified bodies and ends in a web of pornography and pedophilia. This is a top-notch entry in the series. We are given a look at Brennan's childhood in this book and her sister Harry is back after an absence of several books. I find Harry incredibly annoying so wasn't too pleased to see her again. Brennan's personal life also takes a nose dive and I really don't like the path her relationship has taken. But now I find myself at the end of this series and in the position of having to wait for the next book to be published. I'll be looking forward to it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Book Meme

Taken from Once Upon a Bookshelf

These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise that you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your to-read list.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
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
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The historian : a novel
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 : a novel
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 musical was great, though**
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 : a memoir
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
Freakonomics : a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an Inquiry into Values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The three musketeers

I'm Up for Seconds

OK, I've been debating whether to join this challenge or not, and now that it has actually started I find I absolutely cannot hold out any longer. I. must. join.!

Joy is hosting the 2nds challenge from October to December where we must read 3 books from authors that we have only read one other book, thus enjoying a 2nd helping.

So here are my three choices:

1) The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers - I really enjoyed The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and have wanted to read another by her ever since but just haven't found the time to get to it.

2) The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - After reading The Song of Solomon I knew I just had to read more of this author. I happen to own this title so that is why I've chosen it opposed to any others by her.

3) Interworld by Neil Gaiman - I'm hanging my head in shame, but I have only read one book by Gaiman; Coraline which I loved. It is time to rectify this sad state of affairs. This is the book I recently won from Estella's Revenge.

Oh boy, I'm so excited to finally get to read these books!