Monday, December 31, 2007

139. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
Second Artemis Fowl book

Pages: 277
Finished: Dec. 30, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series. Series challenge
First Published: 2002
Genre: YA fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

By the age of thirteen, our subject, Artemis Fowl, was displaying signs of an intellect greater than any human since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Comments: A couple of years ago I read the first Artemis Fowl book and was not impressed at all. I've been told the books get better after the first so I thought I'd see for myself. I'm pleased to say that I did enjoy this book. Artemis is a much nicer person in this book who learns about friendship and respect. Artemis joins forces with the fairy people to first save them from a goblin takeover and second to try to rescue Artemis' father. I really enjoyed the world in which the fairies inhabit alongside the mundane world. This book read very much like a James Bond movie with non-stop spy adventures including such characters as centaurs, pixies, dwarfs, leprechauns, goblins. Hopefully the third book will be even better.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A-Zed Reading Challenge

Joy is hosting another fabulous challenge! Read 52 different books and have each title and author start with a different letter of the alphabet. This is going to be fun!


"A" ~
Atwater, Richard and Florence (Mr. Popper's Penguins)

"B" ~ Barrie, J.M. (Peter Pan)

"C" ~ Carey, Peter (True History of the Kelly Gang)

"D" ~ Dexter, Colin (Last Bus to Woodstock)

"E" ~ Erdrich, Louise (The Plague of Doves)

"F" ~ Fox, Paula (The Slave Dancer)

"G" ~ Gardner, Lyn (Into the Woods)

"H" ~ Hayder, Mo (Birdman)

"I" ~ Ingoglia, Gina (Johnny Appleseed and the Planting of the West)

"J" ~ James, Emmett (Admit One)

"K" ~ King, Stephen (Rage)

"L" ~ Lattimore, Eleanor Frances (Little Pear and Friends)

"M" ~ Martin, Steve (Born Standing Up)

"N" ~ Nix, Garth (Abhorsen)

"O" ~ Oppel, Kenneth (Sunwing)

"P" ~ Peet, Bill (Capyboppy)

"Q" ~

"R" ~
Ruddick, James (Death at the Priory)

"S" ~ Stewart, Paul (Beyond the Deepwoods)

"T" ~
Turtledove, Harry (Gunpowder Empire)

"U" ~

"V" ~
Vandagriff, G.G. (The Arthurian Omen)

"W" ~ Wallace, Carol and Bill (The Flying Flea, Callie and Me)

"X" ~

"Y" ~
Ye, Ting-Xing (My Name is Number 4)

"Z" ~


"A" ~
The Apple and the Arrow by Mary & Conrad Buff

"B" ~ The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

"C" ~ Coyote Autumn by Bill Wallace

"D" ~ Destiny by Alex Archer

"E" ~ Empress of Asia by Adam Lewis Schroeder

"F" ~ The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

"G" ~ The Golden Hoard by Geraldine McCaughrean

"H" ~ Here We Go Again: My Life in Television by Betty White

"I" ~ Indelible by Karin Slaughter

"J" ~ James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

"K" ~ Kept: A Victorian Mystery by D.J. Taylor

"L" ~ The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

"M" ~ The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

"N" ~ The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

"O" ~ One Beastly Beast by Garth Nix

"P" ~ Procession of the Dead by D.B. Shan

"Q" ~ Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion

"R" ~ The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

"S" ~ The Serpent's Egg by J. Fitzgerald McCurdy

"T" ~ Triptych by Karin Slaughter

"U" ~ Up to Low by Brian Doyle

"V" ~ Vanish by Tess Gerritsen

"W" ~ The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

"X" ~

"Y" ~

"Z" ~

Short Story Challenge

Ok, ok, I know. I just can't say no to challenges. But this challenge is something I was going to do anyway so it's perfect. Kate is running a short story challenge for 2008. I'm opting for option #5, which lets you do whatever you'd like. My short story reading for 2008 will include:

1) Finish The Best American Short Stories 2007. I'm already at the half-way point.

2) Finish High Spirits: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Robertson Davies. I'm several stories into this one. It is a slim volume so won't take me much longer.

3) For my chronological reading of Stephen King, Night Shift is coming up soon. This is his first collection of short stories. I'll read this one possibly during the next R.I.P.

4) If I finish all of the above my next choice will be A Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence.

Books to Read in 2008

Dewey posted a fabulous list of all her challenge books for next year. I thought I'd do one too!

Man Booker Challenge ends Dec. (5 more to go)

The Gathering (Enright)
Life of Pi (Martel)
The God of Small Things (Roy)
The English Patient (Ondaatje)
Hotel Du Lac (Brookner)
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Cary

Christopher Moore Challenge (ends Apr. 1, 2009) (6 books)

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Bloodsucking Fiends
You Suck (sequel to above)
Coyote Blue
Island of the Sequined Love Nun
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
and just in case it comes out early in the year his new forthcoming book is
Fool (expected to be published in 2009)

Book Awards II Challenge (4 more to go) (Aug1-June1, 2009)
1. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale Samuel Johnson Award for Nonfiction
2. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting Newbery Medal
3. Postmortem by Patricia Cromwell Macavity Award, 1st novel
4. The Birchbark Tree by Louise Erdrich WILLA Award
5. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Bellwether Prize
6. The Line Painter by Claire Cameron Northern Lit Award

The next challenges/projects don't have any specific requirements or end dates.

Cardathon Challenge - link
(currently working on the Ender books)

Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant
First Meetings in the Enderverse
War of Gifts
Ender in Exile

Chronological Stephen King
The Shining
Night Shift

Newbery Project
see progress here

GRTB Game on LibraryThing
read books as they are chosen
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (Jan)
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George (Feb)
Alias Grace by Maragret Atwood (Mar)
Pig Island by Mo Hayder (May)
Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

A-Z Challenge - link
fit in books reading for other challenges
Still Need:
Authors - Q, U, X, Z
Titles - X, Y, Z

Geographical Project - link
fit in books as they are read

FINISHED in 2008

Book Awards Challenge I - FINISHED

1. The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Cary

Canadian Challenge ends July 1 FINISHED
45. Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel (read Jan. 2008)
plus four books already listed

First in a Series Challenge ends Dec. FINISHED

2. Cirqe du Freak by Darren Shan
3. Gunpowder Empire by Harry Turtledove
4. Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart
5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
6. The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
7. Destiny by Alex Archer
8. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
9. Birdman by Mo Hayder
10. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
11. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
12. Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter
13. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Once Upon a Time Challenge (Mar. 21 - Jun. 20) FINISHED
5. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
4. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
3. The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
2. The Silver Treasure: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean
1. The Wrath of Mulgarath by Holly Black

Pub '08 Challenge ends Dec. FINISHED
1. The Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone
2. A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock
3. Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman
4. The Arthurian Omen by G.G. Vandagriff
5. The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber
6. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
7. Black Ships by Jo Graham
8.The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell

Short Story Challenge FINISHED
Best American Short Stories 2007
High Spirits: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Robertson Davies
Night Shift by Stephen King
Across the Wall by Garth Nix

YA Challenge - FINISHED

Madapple by Christina Meldrum
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
The Eyes of a King by Catherine Banner
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
The Serpent's Egg by J. Fitzgerald McCurdy
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
Up to Low by Brian Doyle
Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan
Gunpowder Empire by Harry Turtledove
Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel

Southern Challenge - FINISHED
1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
3. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

Chunkster Challenge ends Dec. FINISHED
Kept: A Victoria Mystery by D.J. Taylor
Pig Island by Mo Hayder
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The Shining by Stephen King

Medical Mystery Challenge - FINISHED
1. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
2. Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
3. Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Decades Challenge ends Dec. - FINISHED

1900s Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
1910s Peter Pan by JM Barrie
1920s The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
1930s Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
1940s Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
1950s Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus
1960s James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
1970s Abel's Island by William Steig

RIP III Challenge (Sept.1 to Oct. 31) (2-5 books) - FINISHED

1. The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan
2. Hunters of the Dusk by Darren Shan
3. The Mystery of Mary Rogers by Rick Geary
4. Night Runner by Max Turner
5. Faces of Fear by John Saul

Canadian Book Challenge 2 - FINISHED
1. The Seance by Iain Lawrence
2. The Horseman's Graves by Jacqueline Baker Saskatchewan
3. Newton and the Time Machine by Michael McGowan
4. The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W. Service Yukon
5. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
6. Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel
7. Jolted by Arthur Slade
8. Getting the Girl by Susan Juby BC
9. Night Runner by Max Turner Ontario
10. Bookweird by Paul Glennon
11. The Shadow of Malabron by Thomas Wharton
12. My Name is Number 4 by Ting-Xing Ye
13. Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help by Douglas Anthony Cooper

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Wrap Up & Top 10 Books of 2007

Wow! What a year of reading I've had! I read more this year than I have in quite a while and I credit it to blogging. I'm so glad I started blogging my books this year. Now for some ramblings on what I've accomplished with my reading this year.

1) I've started reading short stories regularly and I feel confident that it is something I will keep up with. I've read short stories in the past but never really felt comfortable with reading a collection from start to finish. I'm really enjoying taking them in short but frequent visits.

2) I managed to finish some trilogies and series. Namely, the Arthur trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Giver books by Lois Lowry, the Tempe Brennan books by Kathy Reichs and the Harry Potter books

3) I've discovered some fabulous new-to-me authors whom I plan to read everything they've written: Lois Duncan, Colleen Gleason, Carson McCullers, Christopher Moore, Toni Morrison, Peter Robinson, Karin Slaughter and Sara Waters

4) I finished reading all of Amy Tan's books.

5) I read a variety of genres this year. I've always gone through stages where I get hooked on a genre and read nothing but for a while then move onto another genre. However, for the last couple of years I pretty much read nothing but YA fantasy and started off this year forbidding myself to read any, then added them back in about mid-year. I find I get burnt out when I get stuck in a certain genre and I'm really pleased with the broad range of genres I ended up reading this year. Hopefully, I can keep it up.

6) I've been very lax about reading Canadian authors in the past and this year I set out to rectify that and have recently started to make sure I read Canadian regularly.

Statistics (this includes the book I'm currently reading)
My complete list of books read can be found here.

Total Books Read: 139

J or YA: 78 = 56%

Non-Fiction: 3 = 2%

Short Story Collections: 4

Canadian Authored: 12 = 8%

New-to-Me Authors: 45 = 32%

*Classics: 10 = 7%

Read-Alouds: 31

Re-Reads: 24 = 17%

Library books: 74 = 53%

* for the purpose of Classics I am only considering books written prior to the 1950s which are commonly considered The Greats.

I'm really pleased with theses statistics! I'd like to keep library/owned at about 50%. I only just started trying to read more Canadian a few months ago so 8% is good. I'm surprised J/YA is only 56%, sometimes it feels like that is all I ever read. The only shameful thing here is the non-fiction. I'm just not into it these days, but I am going to try to make an effort to read more non-fiction next year. Maybe get it up to 5%.

Now onto what we've all been waiting for! My list of the top 10 books (in order) of 2007. This has been really hard to put together as I read a lot of fabulous books this year.

My Top 10 Books of 2007

10. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

9. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

8. Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence

7. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

6. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

4. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

3. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

1. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

Honourable Mentions to the books that didn't quite make it to the top 10 are:
Fluke by Christopher Moore
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Dust by Arthur Slade
Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan

138. Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan

Pages: 229
Finished: Dec. 28, 2007
Reason for Reading: I'm reading Lois Duncan's books.
First Published: 1997
Genre: YA, horror
Rating: 2.5/5

First Sentence:

The crystal paperweight should have been clear, but it was not.

Comments: Sarah can see things from the past and the future. Seeing the future is unnerving at best, but why are the events Sarah sees from the past all from the Salem witch trials. So far I have been very impressed with Duncan's earlier works. This is the first more recent novel I've read and I was not so impressed with it. The plot kept me reading but the ending was predictable, the characters were cliched and none of them were remotely likable. Not recommended.

Friday, December 28, 2007

8 Random Things Meme

Well, I have been tagged! Darla D has tagged me for the 8 random things. Let's see, I'm to link to the person who tagged me, list 8 random things about myself, then tag 8 more people.

1. I have moved 26 times in my life.

2. I bite my nails.

3. I quit smoking 7 months ago.

4. One of my most favourite songs ever is Tainted Love by Soft Cell.

5. It really, really, really bugs me when people say "zeeee", instead of "zed". This is Canada, folks!

6. My favourite colour is black.

7. I hate celery, even the smell of it makes me nauseous.

8. I love going for walks in the rain.

I tag the following people, if you've already been tagged or don't feel like doing this, that's ok.
Becky, Joy, stephanie, maggie, carrie k, john m, frogdancer, susan .

Decades Challenge

One more challenge for me in 2008! I've tried to resist joining in with this one but I can hold out no longer. Michelle over at 3M is hosting the decades challenge. The rules are simple: read 8 books published in consecutive years prior to the 2000s.

I'm adding a little twist to my list of books. These are books that I intend to read-aloud to my 7yo (turning 8yo) in 2008. So, without further ado, here is my list, which I reserve the right to change at any time ;-) I am still searching for a 1940s title suitable for a 7/8 yo. I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have.

1900s - Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1902)
1910s - Peter Pan by JM Barrie (1911)
1920s - The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (1922)
1930s - Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (1938)
1940s - Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson (1946)
1950s - The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)
1960s - James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (1968)
1970s - The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards (1974)
1980s - The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (1980)

(edited to add): I finally came up with a 1940s book!

137. The Journey

The Journey by Kathryn Lasky
Second book of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Pages: 242
Finished: Dec. 27, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series, Series challenge
First Published: 2003
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

Soren felt the blind snake shift in the deep feathers between his shoulders as he and the three other owls flew through the buffeting winds.

Comments: Soren and his friends travel to the Great Ga'Hoole Tree and are taken into the fold where they are trained and chosen for chaws. Not a lot happens plot-wise in this second book. The characters journey, train and practice, with one incident left hanging in the first book resolved. The book also does not have a real ending, rather it ends in a conflict, setting up the plot for the next book. The characters are fleshed out in this book and we get to know them much better, many joined the story in the last pages of the first book. I really enjoy these owl characters and am looking forward to meeting them again in the next volume.

December - Books in the House

A new feature I'll do at the end of every month is a round-up of the books that arrived at my house during the month. This was a good month for new-to-me books. We start off with some free books.

I was the lucky winner of the scavenger hunt this month over at The Book Mine Set and received Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey directly from the publisher just a few days before Christmas. This sounds like it is going to be a really intense story. Can't wait to read it. Thanks John!

My other free books came from Bookmooch. Not really free when you think about it but they still feel free when they show up in your mailbox! A couple of Booker Prize winners that are on my list to read next year: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje and Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. I've also been dying to read John Irving lately so got The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany.

It has been a few months since I've been book shopping at a thrift store so at the beginning of December I headed on over to my favourite thrift shop and found lots of goodies. I came home with a ton of wonderful children's books plus some others for a whopping price of $3.85. It would take way too much time to list every book I found but here are a few highlights.

Night Shift by Stephen King - I was thrilled to find this. In my chronological reading this will be coming up soon and I have been looking for it at the book stores and not finding it in stock but actually hoping I could find it at a used book store because I soooo wanted to have one with the same cover that I used to have. (Not the one shown at the link) The one with the hand that has the eyes all over it. And that is the one I found! So happy.

The best thing about this book haul is the following list of Noel Streatfeild books. I absolutely loved Ballet Shoes as a little girl. And these are all wonderful Puffin and Lions editions.
The Circus is Coming
Thursday's Child
Far To Go (sequel to Thursday's Child)
A Vicarage Family: A Biography of Myself
Ballet Shoes for Anna
Ballet Shoes

The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater and The Wool-pack by Cynthia Harnett, both Carnegie Medal winners

The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett - this is the only children's book by her that I haven't read. Looking forward to it.

Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery - This is one of the "Canadian Favourites" editions from the seventies. I'm collecting this series.

Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome - I am really looking forward to reading this to the 7yo next year. I love fairy tales and I love Arthur Ransome!

And finally a few days before Christmas, I stopped by my local library's sale table and filled up for the $5 a bag of children's books. This time I came away with some rather obscure books, at least according to LibraryThing. Authors include Vera & Bill Cleaver, Ronald Welch, Eileen Kernaghan, Ruth Manning-Sanders, and Monica Hughes. Plus the highlight of this haul was Arnold Lobel's illustrated Random House Book of Mother Goose, a lovely big book.

That's it for me. I didn't get any books for Christmas but, all in all, definitely a good month for books. If you'd like a detailed look at my new books just visit my library on LibraryThing and sort in order of entry date.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Short Story Monday

#3) The Great Queen is Amused - This was a really fun story! A woman doing research in the university library (which is known for its Canadian Lit. collection) comes across an occult book which tells how to call a spirit. Thinking she'd like to ask Sara Jeanette Duncan a few questions she follows the instructions but ends up with a room full of the spirit of every Canadian author whose book is in the library. Very funny!

#4) The Night of the Three Kings - Our narrator investigates noises and winds up in a filing room where he finds the spirit of King George V searching for a rare stamp he accidentally once put on an envelope. The story ends with a definite Canadian twist.

#5) The Charlottetown Banquet - The narrator spends the night having a Victorian dinner with Sir John A. MacDonald.

#6) When Satan Goes Home For Christmas - This time our narrator meets Satan who is upset because he is never invited home for Christmas.

Not much other reading going on around here. Getting busy, busy, busy.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

136. The Higher Power of Lucky

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
Illustrated by Matt Phelan

Pages: 134
Finished: Dec. 21, 2007
Reason for Reading: Newbery Project
First Published: 2006
Genre: children fiction
Awards: Newbery Award
Rating: 2.5/5

First Sentence:

Lucky Trimble crouched in a wedge of shade behind the Dumpster.

Comments: 10-year-old Lucky lives in a rural town with a population of 43. She is constantly worried that her Guardian will leave her and go back to live in France. This book left me greatly underwhelmed. I had no great liking for the characters and the plot was mostly uneventful. Disappointing for a Newbery winner.

135. Lirael

Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr by Garth Nix
Second book of the Old Kingdom

Pages: 705
Finished: Dec. 21, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series, this was chosen for me for GRTB game on LibraryThing
First Published: 2001
Genre: YA fantasy
Awards: Ditmar Award
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

It was a hot, steamy summer, and the mosquitoes swarmed everywhere, from their breeding grounds in the rotten, reedy shores of the Red Lake up to the foothills of Mount Abed.

Comments: This second book in the trilogy is not a continuation of the first but starts up a new story line. Lirael is a Daughter of the Clayr, yet she is different in many ways and feels apart from the others. She does not have the Sight yet she is strong in Charter Magic and while waiting for the Sight to come to her she works on her Magic skills. She eventually discovers her destiny is not as she thought and she finds herself on a journey to save the Kingdom. This is a wonderful book, one you settle into and become immersed in the fantasy world. I love the Old Kingdom, it is a fascinating world. I've read almost all of Nix's books and he is a master at creating intricate worlds. I really enjoyed this. The characters, the world-building, the plot all satisfied me. The only problem I have is that it doesn't really have an ending but stops mid-action with virtually a 'to be continued'. I love reading trilogies and series but I prefer each book to have its own resolution while being a part of a greater whole. Highly recommended!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The 100 Most Influential Books by Women

I love book lists so I just had to lift this one from Danielle. I'm a little scared to start going through this one as I think I probably read more male authors when it comes to literature. Here goes! Bolding the ones I've read and * the ones I own but haven't read yet.

1. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
2. Anne Rice, Interview With the Vampire

3. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
4. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
5. Virginia Woolf, The Waves
6. Virginia Woolf, Orlando
7. Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
8. Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
9. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
10. Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
11. Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness
12. Nadine Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter
13. Harriette Simpson Arnow, The Dollmaker
14. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
15. Willa Cather, My √Āntonia
16. Erica Jong, Fear of Flying
17. Erica Jong, Fanny
18. Joy Kogawa, Obasan *
19. Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
20. Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
21. Doris Lessing, The Grass Is Singing
22. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
23. Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
24. Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
25. Lore Segal, Her First American
26. Alice Walker, The Color Purple
27. Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland
28. Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
29. Muriel Spark, Memento Mori
30. Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
31. Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina
32. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
33. Susan Fromberg Shaeffer, Anya
34. Cynthia Ozick, Trust
35. Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
36. Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife

37. Ann Beattie, Chilly Scenes of Winter
38. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
39. Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer
40. Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays
41. Mary McCarthy, The Group
42. Mary McCarthy, The Company She Keeps
43. Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man
44. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
45. Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
46. Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
47. Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
48. Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here
49. Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
50. Toni Morrison, Beloved
51. Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
52. Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mr. Fortune’s Maggot
53. Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
54. Laura Riding, Progress of Stories
55. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
56. Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower
57. Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
58. A.S. Byatt, Possession
59. Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
60. Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle
61. Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac *
62. Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
63. Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
64. Katherine Dunn, Geek Love
65. Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
66. Barbara Pym, Excellent Women
67. Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
68. Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
69. Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist
70. Nancy Willard, Things Invisible to See
71. Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry
72. Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Disturbances in the Field
73. Rosellen Brown, Civil Wars
74. Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra
75. Harriet Doerr, The Mountain Lion
76. Stevie Smith. Novel on Yellow Paper
77. E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
78. Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem
79. P.D. James, The Children of Men
80. Ursula Hegi, Stones From the River
81. Fay Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
82. Katherine Mansfield, Collected Stories
83. Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills
84. Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen
85. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
86. Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls Trilogy
87. Margaret Drabble, The Realms of Gold
88. Margaret Drabble, The Waterfall
89. Dawn Powell, The Locusts Have No King
90. Marilyn French, The Women’s Room
91. Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter *
92. Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
93. Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
94. Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
95. Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
96. Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head
97. Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day
98. Alice Hoffman, The Drowning Season
99. Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole
100. Penelope Mortimer, The Pumpkin Eater

Ouch! I've only read 12 of them with only another 3 waiting in the wings. There are another 7 authors here that I have read, just not the titles listed here. I see a lot on the list I would like to read though.

134. The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh

The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

Pages: 211
Finished: Dec. 21, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo. Every school day we read one new poem and then re-read a few of our favourites. We've been reading from this book for several months.
First Published: 1924
Genre: children, poetry
Rating: 5/5

Comments: This is a compilation of two books "When We Were Very Young" and "Now We Are Six". In this edition the original illustrations have been hand painted in gentle watercolours. These poems are a delight, a joy. They are very much written from a small child's point of view. The poems have rhythm and are very fun to read and easy for a child to remember after hearing repeatedly. Overall, the poems are happy, playful, funny and sometimes slightly cheeky. We have had a lot of fun reading these and I think it is time spent together that we will always remember. Highly recommended to read aloud.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

133. Little Pear

Little Pear: The Story of a Little Chinese Boy by Eleanor Frances Lattimore
First of the Little Pear books

Pages: 138
Finished: Dec. 18, 2007
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1931
Genre: children fiction
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

There was once a Chinese boy called Little Pear.

Comments: The simple, heartwarming, funny misadventures of a five-year-old Chinese boy in his village in China. There are no words to convey just how much I love this book. I remember reading all the Little Pear books and many other books by Eleanor Frances Lattimore when I was a child. I have very fond memories of reading them and taking them out over and over again, especially Little Pear and Peachblossom.

I read this to my older son when he was little and it was a favourite with him so, of course, I knew I would read it aloud to the 7yo. I think I love this book even more now than I did before. The 7yo was simply enthralled with it. He has decided that Dad is going to read it to him next for his bedtime story.

Little Pear is a mischievous, often naughty, boy who is always behaving in ways which are quite shocking to a 7yo of today. What young child of today can imagine what it would be like to walk to the nearest city all by yourself and not get back till after dark?

The writing is very descriptive. There are many scenes, pages long, that describe the Chinese village, the market, Chinese homes, etc. and the language is utterly engaging. The reader can tell that Lattimore loves and respects both China and the Chinese people. (She was born and raised in Shanghai). Lattimore also illustrated the book herself and the simple line drawings enhance the playful mood of the book. I have nothing but praise for this book and highly recommend it.

Four-Legged Friends Wrap Up

This week I finished another of my challenges: the Four-Legged Friends Challenge hosted by Kailana.

1. The Capture by Kathryn Lasky(Owls)
2. Into the Wild by Erin Hunter(Cats)
3. Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry(Burro)
4. Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel(Bats)
5. Swamp Cat by Jim Kjelgaard (Cat)

The books in my original list are the ones I read. I really enjoyed this challenge. Animal fantasy is one of my favourite genres but I did include a few real-life animal stories in my list too. #1 and #2 above are both series I had wanted to try for a while and I'm definitely in for the long haul with both of them. Even though I wasn't too fond of #2, I've since read the sequel and loved it. #3 was a re-read from my childhood. #4 is one I've wanted to read since it was published and finally can cross it off my list; I already have the sequel sitting on my bedside table. And finally #5, was a treasure I found at a book sale; I will always be a big fan of Kjelgaard.

Great challenge! If another animal-themed challenge is ever going I'll be sure to join.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Short Story Monday

This week I've switched to another collection of short stories for a change of pace. High Spirits: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Robertson Davies.

How The High Spirits Came About - In the introduction, Davies explains how every Christmas for the 18 years he was the Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto he would tell a ghost story. This is a collection of these 18 tales. The stories are parodies of the classic ghost story.

#1) Revelation From a Smoky Fire - in this story the current and first Master of Massey College finds in his rooms a man who professes to be the ninth Master of Massey College one hundred years hence, and we soon find our narrator is not who he seems to be.

#2) The Ghost Who Vanished By Degrees - this was a fun story of a ghost, who killed himself because he failed his PhD thesis, who takes our narrator hostage one night and makes him listen to the many thesis he has prepared since his death as he shall never be at peace until he has it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

132. Swamp Cat

Swamp Cat by Jim Kjelgaard
Illustrated by Edward Shenton

Pages: 175
Finished: Dec. 15, 2007
Reason for Reading: four-legged friends challenge
First Published: 1957
Genre: YA, outdoor adventure
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

The sound came to Frosty as a mere vibration that hummed about the fine hairs in his inner ears and set his whiskers to tingling.

Comments: Seventeen-year-old Andy Gates lives alone on his family's swamp property in the hill country. His family has lived here for generations and he is the last of his line. At 14, Andy takes himself to town and earns a 4 year high school education in 3 years then takes himself back to his land. No one has ever been able to make a living from the swamps but after much deliberating Andy decides to stock his swamps with muskrats as he has read the Louisiana swamps hold. Andy also comes to find a companion in a stray cat that has recently been dumped in the hill country by a mean-spirited hillman.

Jim Kjelgaard is, in my opinion, one of the great American juvenile writers and his extensive backlist of books are sadly mostly out-of-print. His books are, for the most part, aimed at teenage boys. This is a beautifully written book. The plot is quite simple but character driven. Frosty, the cat, is just as well-developed a character as any of the people. This is an uplifting book with characters who strive to do right, yet are not perfect and make mistakes that they can learn from. The only problem I have with this book is that the ending was rather abrupt and somewhat ambiguous but that does not deter my recommendation of this book. Especially recommended for those who enjoy tales of living off the land.

Friday, December 14, 2007

131. A Faint Cold Fear

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter
Third in the Grant County series

Pages: 346
Finished: Dec. 13, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 2003
Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Sara Linton stared at the entrance to the Dairy Queen, watching her very pregnant sister walk out with a cup of chocolate-covered ice cream in each hand.

Comments: College students appear to be committing suicide at an alarming rate, and their deaths are not your ordinary suicides. In amongst the suicides a young woman is brutally attacked not far from the scene of a suicide. How are the two related? Grant County just keeps getting better and better! Lots and lots of unexpected events happen in the lives of our main characters. I'm really intrigued as to where they will go in the next book. The case was unusual with just the right amount of gruesomeness as I've come to expect from Slaughter. A thrilling, fast-paced read with intriguing characters. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Monday, December 10, 2007

130. Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes by Louis Sachar

Pages: 233
Finished: Dec. 9, 2007
Reason for Reading: Newbery Project
First Published: 1998
Awards: Newbery Medal
Genre: children
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.

Comments: Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Lake after being convicted of a crime he did not commit. At Green Lake, the inmates must dig a 5ft (in every direction) hole each and every day. It is here at this unlikely place that Stanley meets his destiny. This was such a wonderful story! I can't believe I waited so long to read it. All the characters (especially Stanley and the other boys) were so interesting and I loved the flashbacks that brought Stanley's heritage together with his present and ultimately his destiny. An unusual tale with a heartwarming ending. Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

129. The Stupidest Angel

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

Pages: 275
Finished: Dec. 8, 2007
Reason for Reading: I'm a fan of the author's and decided to read this for my Christmas book.
First Published: 2004
Awards: 2005 Quill Award (Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror)
Genre: Christmas, humour, horror
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.

Comments: A Christmas angel has come to Pine Cove looking for a child, the only problem is that the residents think he is a pervert. Joshua Barker, 7-years-old, walking home one evening from a friend's house happens to see Santa murdered with a shovel. And thus begins this humourous Christmas frolic. The book is populated with characters from previous novels and is a lot of fun but not near so funny as his later work. The zombies were definitely the best part. A good book to read if you are looking for a laugh, just don't expect it to be as laugh-out-loud funny as others by Moore.

128. Do-it-yourself Magic

Do-it-yourself Magic by Ruth Chew

Pages: 127
Finished: Dec. 8, 2007
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1987
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

"Wow! Rachel, look at that!" Scott Walker grabbed his sister's arm and dragged her over to the shop window of the big discount store on Church Avenue.

Comments: Rachel and Scott buy a "Build-Anything Kit" and soon discover it has magical properties. Adventure soon follows as they shrink themselves, drive a car they've made and then find themselves inside the castle they built and it's even populated with medieval people. Rachel and Scott learn about a minstrel's life and Rachel soon finds out life wasn't very fair for a girl in the middle ages. This is a cute story, a quick read and would be perfect for a child ready to read chapter books.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Short Story Monday

#9. L. DeBard and Aliette: A Love Story by Lauren Groff - The title calls this a love story and it is that but it is also a tragedy of epic proportions. When I finished reading this my first thought was a stunned, "Wow." Set in 1918 this is the tragic love story of a former Olympic medalist swimmer and a young woman stricken with polio. The best story in this collection so far.

#10. Wake by Beverly Jensen - An interesting story of family dynamics. A brother and sister accompany their father's coffin as they bring him home for his funeral.

#11. Wait by Roy Kesey - Not impressed with this one at all. A bunch of people wait in an airport terminal as their flight is delayed over and over again.

Top 100 Books of the 20th Century

This is something I've decided I'm going to start working on in 2008. The Top 100 books of the 20th century as compiled by the folks at Random House's Modern Library.

To start off with, I'm highlighting in RED the books I have already read. Some of these I do intend to re-read as it's been such a long time since I read a few of them.

My goal will not be that I must read every one of these books, but that I must at least try to read each book.

edited to add: I'm also putting in italics and ** the ones I haven't read but do own.

Modern Library Top 100 Books of the Century

ULYSSES by James Joyce
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence

THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
1984 by George Orwell
I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James

SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh**
AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster**
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett
PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh**
KIM by Rudyard Kipling
A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster**

ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
LOVING by Henry Green
TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell **
IRONWEED by William Kennedy
THE MAGUS by John Fowles
UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch**
SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron
THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy

read 18/100

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Two Completed Challenges

When I finished The Bluest Eye this week, I also finished two challenges.

From the Stacks Challenge

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

My completed list above is the same as my initial list. This was an easy challenge to complete as all these books had other challenges or reasons to be read for. I'm glad I added Salem's Lot to this challenge as it was part of a personal challenge and I have a feeling I probably would not have got to it so quickly otherwise.

Seconds Challenge
1. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
2. Interworld by Neil Gaiman
3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I loved this challenge. It was a short one and that made it easy for me to complete. My completed list above is the same as my initial list. I'm glad I was able to read more of these authors and know that I will be reading more of their work. I think Gaiman and Morrison are going to be authors where I love some of their work and just like others. On the other hand, McCullers is a new favourite author. I loved both books I've read by her now and want to read all her other work.

127. Poppy and Rye

Poppy and Rye by Avi
Illustrated by Brian Floca
Second in the Tales of Dimwood Forest

Pages: 182
Finished: Dec. 5, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series. Series challenge. Read aloud to my 7yo
First Published: 1998
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

"Clover! Clover, love. You need to wake up! Something awful is happening."

Comments: Poppy decides to try and find Ragweed's parents to tell them the news and Ereth accompanies her. Once they arrive they find that beavers have built a dam and flooded Ragweed's family out of their home. More than anything this is a love story. Poppy meets her husband-to-be, Ereth also feels love for the first time and we see the love of parents for children. I'm not too surprised that my 7yo did not enjoy this book very much. He enjoyed the occasional chapters focused on Poppy and Ereth but the rest of the book did not hold his interest and he requested I stop reading it three-quarters of the way through. I did finish reading the book myself and feel this is the weakest book we've read in the series so far. The beaver characters as the new enemy were more annoying than anything, certainly nothing like the evil Mr. Ocax of the first book. There were some good parts and I moderately enjoyed this volume.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Booker Challenge

For some time now I've wanted to read the Booker winners. I'm making it official by joining both the Complete Booker project and the Man Booker Challenge.

I have read a grand total of 2 Booker winners:
2000 - The Blind Assassin (Atwood) (read Aug. 2007)
1973 - The Siege of Krishnapur (Farrell) (read June, 2007)

These are the 6 I intend to read for the Challenge which runs from Jan to Dec. 2008
2007 - The Gathering (Enright)
2002 - Life of Pi (Martel)
2001 - True History of the Kelly Gang (Carey)
1997 - The God of Small Things (Roy)
1992 - The English Patient (Ondaatje)
1984 - Hotel Du Lac (Brookner)

For my reference, these are the remaining Bookers:

2006 - The Inheritance of Loss (Desai)
2005 - The Sea (Banville)
2004 - The Line of Beauty (Hollinghurst)
2003 - Vernon God Little (Pierre)
1999 - Disgrace (Coetzee)
1998 - Amsterdam: A Novel (McEwan)
1996 - Last Orders (Swift)
1995 - The Ghost Road (Barker)
1994 - How Late It Was, How Late (Kelman)
1993 - Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Doyle)
1992 - Sacred Hunger (Unsworth)
1991 - The Famished Road (Okri)
1990 - Possession: A Romance (Byatt)
1989 - The Remains of the Day (Ishiguro)
1988 - Oscar and Lucinda (Carey)
1987 - Moon Tiger (Lively)
1986 - The Old Devils (Amis)
1985 - The Bone People (Hulme)
1983 - Life & Times of Michael K (Coetzee)
1982 - Schindler's List (Keneally)
1981 - Midnight's Children (Rushdie)
1980 - Rites of Passage (Golding)
1979 - Offshore (Fitzgerald)
1978 - The Sea, the Sea (Murdoch)
1977 - Staying on (Scott)
1976 - Saville (Storey)
1975 - Heat and Dust (Jhabvala)
1974 - The Conservationist (Gordimer)
1972 - G. (Berger)
1971 - In a Free State (Naipaul)
1970 - The Elected Member (Rubens)
1969 - Something to Answer For (Newby)

126. Dust

Dust by Arthur Slade

Pages: 168
Finished: Dec. 4, 2007
Reason for Reading: Canadian Challenge. Book Awards Challenge. I saw this on display at the library and was very intrigued.
First Published: 2001
Genre: YA, science fiction
Awards: Governor General's Award, Saskatchewan Book Award, Mr. Christie's Book Award
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Matthew Steelgate had five cents in his pocket and a yearning for chewing gum and licorice.

Comments: When Robert's 7-year old brother disappears from a 1930s Saskatchewan prairie town it is only the first of many strange things that happen. He starts to have strange dreams, his parents seem to forget his brother, the local reverend starts making animal noises and an ivory-skinned man has arrived in town promising to make a rain machine. The first chapter describes the disappearance of the little boy and is utterly chilling. I was hooked at that point and couldn't stop reading. It's a short book and I don't want to give anything away by saying too much so I'll just say Slade has written a book which is a cross between Stephen King and W.O. Mitchell. I was at turns reminded of Who Has Seen the Wind and Needful Things. I will definately be reading others by this author.

125. Silverwing

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel
First in the Silverwing Trilogy

Pages: 274
Finished: Dec. 3, 2007
Reason for Reading: Four-Legged Friends Challenge, Book Awards Challenge, Canadian Challenge. I've wanted to read this book ever since it was published.
First Published: 1997
Genre: YA, animal fantasy
Awards: Mr. Christie's Book Award, CLA Children's Book of the Year, OLA Silver Birch Award
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Skimming over the banks of the stream, Shade heard the beetle warming up its wings.

Comments: When Shade, a young Silverwing bat, is blown off course during his colony's migration south, he is determined to find his way back to them. An impending war between the bats and birds, and a hungry vampire bat recently escaped from an observatory make his journey even more challenging. I couldn't put this one down. An utterly compelling story with interesting characters. The book ends with a set-up for the next in the trilogy and I'm looking forward to reading it. Recommended.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Short Story Monday (on Tuesday)

#7. Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You? by William Gay - I can't give a plot summary of this because I haven't a clue. I don't know what it was about or what it meant and what's with all the dialogue and no quotation marks? Ugh.

#8. Eleanor's Music by Mary Gordon - This was beautifully written and a haunting story. Eleanor is 51 and though she was married once she has lived with her parents for the last 18 years. They lead a lovely, simple old-fashioned life. Even their language to each other is quaint, as if from another generation. At first I felt nostalgic for their life and thought it was beautiful but slowly an uneasiness arises as we realize Eleanor's life is not what it seems on the surface. Then something drastic happens to her whole conception of her life and what she does and doesn't do after that event leaves this as a haunting tale.

November in Review

This month I read 17 books and I feel like I'm being consistent with my reading both in number of books and number of pages each month. This month saw me working mostly on challenge books and the introduction of short stories into my reading. I read several very good books this month and any could have been chosen as best of the month but the book I did choose stands out highly and may be in the running for best book of the year! Worst book of the month wasn't really bad, but it wasn't in the same league as the others.

Worst book for November: Secret Seven on the Trail by Enid Blyton

Best book for November: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

121. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
120. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
119. The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
118. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
117. Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
116. Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
115. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
114. The story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (RA)
113. Secret Seven on the Trail by Enid Blyton (RA)
112. Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
111. Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
110. Great Ghost Stories selected by Barry Moser
109. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
108. Kanada by Eva Wiseman
107. Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock
106. Poppy by Avi (RA)
105. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (RA)

November Total: 17 books + 6 short stories
Total Pages: 4695
Books by Canadian authors: 3

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

124. The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Pages: 216
Finished: Dec. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: Seconds challenge, From the Stacks Challenge
First Published: 1970
Genre: fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941.

Comments: This is a brutal, sad story. On the surface it is the story of being black and poor in the forties. It is also a story of rape, incest, racism, and self-loathing. I found the writing beautiful and the style very intriguing. This book is written in several voices switching from the main narrator to different character points of view. The tale is also not told in a linear fashion but jumps back and forth from one incident to another and at times stopped to tell a character's life story from beginning to end. I really enjoyed this format which gave us insight into all the major players. There were a few parts that were extremely difficult to read including a few pages of a pedophile's point of view. These are graphic scenes and will make this book not for everyone. I don't know if 'enjoy' would be the proper term but I did experience this book and do recommend it with the above reservation noted.

#123. Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter
Second in the Warriors series

Pages: 317
Finished: Dec. 2, 2007
Reason for Reading: next in the series. The Series Challenge
First Published: 2003
Genre: animal fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Orange flames lapped at the cold air, throwing sparks up into the night sky.

Comments: Gone is the awkwardness I found in the first book of this series. This second book was a fast-paced enjoyable read. The story starts the day after the previous events and we are greeted with many familiar characters. The rivalries between the Clans is increasing and war seems immanent. I read this pretty much straight through and really enjoyed it. I will definitely be continuing on with this series.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December Reading List

Last month I set up this little reading list to help me stay on track with my challenges reading. I refered to it all month and have decided to keep making a list like this every month. Here is my list of what I must read in December to keep up with my challenges

1) The Bluest Eye (Seconds, From the Stacks) review here
2) Silverwing (Four-Legged Friends, Book Awards, Canadian) review here
3) Yellowknife (Canadian) didn't get to. #2 above qualifies for Canadian
4) Holes (Newbery Project) review here
5) Lirael (GRTB, Series Challenge) review here

Here is where I stand with my challenges.

Seconds Challenge - 3 books by Dec. 31, 2007
2/3 - 1 month left
**read last book**

1) The Bluest Eye

From the Stacks Challenge - 5 books by Jan. 30, 2008
4/5 - 2 months
**read last book**

1) The Bluest Eye

Four-Legged Friends Challenge - 5 books by Feb. 26, 2008
3/5 - 3 months left
**read a book a month**
1) Silverwing
2) Swamp Cat

Series Challenge - work on reading series already started Dec. - May, 2008
no specific number of books
** will start working on finishing series already started **

Book Awards Challenge - 12 books by June 30, 2008
8/12 - 7 months left
choosing books as I go along since I totally ditched my start up list
** read a book a month**

Canadian Book Challenge - 13 books by July 1, 2008
6/13 - 7 months left
Choosing books as I go along
**read a book a month**

Go Review That Book Game on LibraryThing
**try to participate each month**
ie, read a book a month

Newbery Project - ongoing, no due date
my progress list is here
** try to read a book at least every other month**

Stephen King Project - personal challenge
(re)read all King's works in chronological order
next up is Rage.
**try to read one at least every other month**

Challenges That Haven't Started Yet

First in a Series Challenge - 12 books Jan. - Dec. 2008
choosing from this list
**read a book a month**

YA Challenge - 12 books Jan. - Dec, 2008
my list is here
**read a book a month**

Cardathon Challenge - read Orson Scott Card books from Jan - Dec, 2008
no specific number of books
my progress list is here
**try to read at least 6 books**

#122. Gallows View by Peter Robinson

Gallows View by Peter Robinson
The First Inspector Banks Mystery

Pages: 225
Finished: Dec. 1, 2007
Reason for Reading: I read the most recent book in this series and loved it, so I decided to go back to the start.
First Published: 1987
Genre: mystery, British Police Procedural
Rating: 5

First Sentence:

The woman stepped into the circle of light and began to undress.

Comments: Banks has recently moved from the city to the town of Eastvale and he's found that town life is no less work for the police. Eastvale is having a rash of burglaries which are increasingly becoming more destructive. When an elderly woman is found murdered the police wonder whether the burglars have moved up to the next level. At the same time, Eastvale women are being plagued by a peeping tom and the police call in a psychologist to help them with a profile hoping the tom won't escalate into violence. This was a wonderful read. I really enjoyed it. There were so many levels and side stories fabulous intermingled here and not only the crimes but relationships with the characters as well. Robinson definitely ranks up there with best such as Dexter and Rendell.