Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Books in the House

This month I had quite a nice selection of new (to me) books arrive.

I was the lucky winner of Beloved by Toni Morrison from 3m just before Christmas and it arrived at the begining of this month. I had decided this would be my next Morrison book so it was perfect!

A visit to the Sally Ann proved successful. As I was looking through the books, a sales lady came by and asked if I had noticed that the books were buy one get one today. Woohoo! I came home with some good stuff including Atwood, George Macdonald, Trollope, Vanity Fair, Casino Royale and others.

I placed an online order for the books in my chunkster challenge as I don't like using the library for really big books. The pressure to read them gets to me. I got The Shining, The Sweet Far Thing and Little Dorrit.

Bookmooch brought forth New Dawn on Rocky Ridge, Dragonquest and Arrows of the Queen (the very first Valedmar book). I've read a lot of Lackey's books but always shied away from the Valdemar books, probably because there are so many of them (though I have read a couple of them). So I thought I'd start at the beginning.

A trip to the local Goodwill also proved fruitful as I obtained slightly used copies of Clive Barker (Weaveworld and Hellbound Heart), Will Shatner, Philip Jose Farmer, and a few others. I have always wanted to read Hellbound Heart. When I was a teenager I loved the movie Hellraiser. I must have watched it at least 15 times. The only Barker I've actually read is The Great and Secret Show which I really enjoyed and The Thief of Always. I've always meant to read more of his.

This month also brought me two review copies: Empress of Asia (which I'm currently reading) and Procession of the Dead.

And finally, a late night splurge resulted in one more online book order. This time I was looking for short stories and bought Across the Wall, Smoke and Mirrors and In God We Trust, plus a book for school, Fifty Famous Stories Retold. I saw a review of In God We Trust a little while ago (sorry forget who) and it brought the book back to my memory. When I was in Grade 5, my teacher, Mr. Prowse, read this book to us and I just fell in love with it. I asked my parents to get the book for me (this was 1977) and they couldn't find it anywhere. Later in life, I'd remember it occasionally and look but never was able to find it in print (this was pre-internet). Of course, I hadn't thought of the book in years when I saw that review and was thrilled that it was back in print and I just had to get a copy and really can't wait to read it myself. This same teacher also read to us from James Thurber that year, which set me off reading Thurber. Ahh, memories!

All in all, a good month for books.

21. The Apple and the Arrow

The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Buff


Pages: 75
Finished: Jan. 30, 2008
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 1951
Genre: children, historical fiction
Awards: Newbery Honor
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

"Missed it again."

Comments: This is the story of William Tell, legendary Swiss hero, and the story of the Swiss rebellion which led to the formation of the Swiss Republic. Ds really enjoyed this book and I did also. The characters were real and endearing. The introduction to peasant life in the 1200s was fascinating to ds and inspired much discussion. He found the story to be very exciting. Some parts of the rebellion went over his head but, as noted, it sparked much discussion. The illustrations by this husband and wife team are stunning and the writing rich.

20. Faithless

Faithless by Karin Slaughter
Fifth in the Grant County series


Pages: 392
Finished: Jan. 29, 2008
First Published: 2005
Genre: forensics mystery
Reason for Reading: next in the series. series challenge
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:


Rain had saturated the forest floor, soaking twigs and fallen limbs so that they bent without snapping.


Comments: Jeffrey and Sara find themselves on the case of a young woman who was buried alive, yet died an even more excruciating death. Karin Slaughter delivers again. This fifth book in the series is possibly my favourite one so far. An incredible page turner, not as gruesome as some of the other titles but equally as riveting. The side story of Lena Adams finally comes to a head and it looks like the next book may have her moving in a new direction. A terrific read. Highly recommended.


Sadly, I am nearing the end of Slaughters backlist. There is one more book in this series plus a stand alone left for me to read. She also has a new stand alone due out this year. I've decided to read the standalone, Triptych, next since it was published next and prolong the last Grant County book just a bit longer.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

19. Strange Events

Strange Events: Incredible Canadian Monsters, Curses, Ghosts, and Other Tales
by Johanna Bertin


Pages: 140
Finished: Jan. 26, 2008
Reason for Reading: I have no idea. My eldest son gave it to me when he was getting rid of some of his books and I decided to keep it.
First Published: 2003
Genre: Non-fiction, history, paranormal
Rating: 2.5/5

First Sentence:


Most Canadians have heard of the Bermuda Triangle.


Comments: From the 1700s to the 1960s unusual events and sights that are a part of Canadian culture are recorded here. This takes more of a historical look at curiosities rather than a paranormal one. A far cry from a well-written book, nevertheless, I did find it interesting enough to finish reading. There were enough tales that were unfamiliar to me to keep it interesting, for example the Cadborosaurus. The expected Ogopogo is here, but I wonder at the exclusion of Sasquatch. Worth a read if you have an interest in this sort of thing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Book Awards Challenge

This week I finished the Book Awards Challenge. The goal was to read 12 books which have received awards. I wrote a list to start with, then changed it several times but ended up tossing it to the wind and read books as I felt like it.

Here is my completed list of 12 award winning books:

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy(Pulitzer)
2. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood(Booker)
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry(Newbery)
4. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers(National Book Award)
5. Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard(Guardian)
6. The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy(Governor General's)
7. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(Newbery)
8. Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry(William Allen White Award)
9. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman(Carnegie Medal)
10. Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel (Mr. Christie's Book Award)
11. Dust by Arthur Slade (Governor General's)
12. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (Booker)

The only book I didn't enjoy was The Road. I wasn't very impressed with The Golden Compass either. All the others I really enjoyed, with True History of the Kelly Gang being my favourite of the 12.

This was a fun challenge and I hope to continue making the effort to ensure I read award winners regularly.

18. The Iron Staircase

The Iron Staircase by Georges Simenon
Translated from the French by Eileen Ellenbogen


Pages: 176
Finished: Jan. 26, 2008
First Published: 1953
Genre: fiction
Reason for Reading: I love Georges Simenon. I do not like his Maigret novels, but I am fascinated with what are commonly referred to as his "Psychological Novels". These books are amazing studies into the mind of a person, usually a man, who is going through some sort of hardship in life but is otherwise nondescript. It has been a while since I read one so I thought it was about time for another visit.
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

The first note was written in pencil, on a sheet of writing paper the size of a postcard.


Comments: A man has realized that he has not been feeling well for quite some time now and becomes suspicious of his wife. He listens to her phone calls, watches her every move. What unfolds is a roller coaster ride of tension as the reader never quite really knows what is happening until near the end. As the man's past and present are slowly unveiled, the reader is shocked and an uneasiness settles as we become unsure as to what will happen until the abrupt and startling ending. I loved this book. Simenon does what he does so well when he puts us inside this man's head. Highly recommend.

Monday, January 28, 2008

17. High Spirits

High Spirits: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Robertson Davies


Pages: 198
Finished: Jan. 27, 2008
Reason for Reading: weekly reading of short stories for short story Monday. Canadian challgenge.
First Published: 1982
Genre: short story collection
Rating: 3/5

Comments: A collection of stories Davies wrote each year as Master of Massey College. These stories are funny, witty and satirical. Some stand out much more than others. These are best read slowly, one here, one there as they do have a sameness to them that tires. Recommended for fans of Davies.

Follows is a brief synapses (without spoilers) and my opinion on each story.

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.

#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.

#7 Refuge of Insulted Saints - Hearing a knock at the door one evening our narrator opens the door to find Babs (otherwise known as Saint Barbara, Patron Saint of Artillery) standing at his door with a cannon pointing at him. She and many other saints who have just been deposed to legend status by Pope Paul VI (1969)are seeking asylum at the college. This was a lot of fun and very witty!

#8 Dickens Digested - A young man working on his thesis about Charles Dickens becomes more and more like Dickens himself. Lots of fun Dickensian-speak but not as good as other stories here.

#9 The Kiss of Khrushchev - A Russian exchange student, a member of the choir, disappeared some years ago but now our narrator has found a singing frog in the basement. This story was just plain weird.

#10 - The Cat That Went to Trinity - There are two new students in class this year. One named Elizabeth Lavenza the other named Enstein, given name Victor Frank. This gives our narrator cause for concern especially since he is teaching the Gothic novel this year. This was a really fun story, melodramatic and witty.

#11 - The Ugly Spectre of Sexism - I didn't really get this one very much. Written in 1972 it pokes fun at both feminism and chauvinism.

#12 - The Pit Whence Ye Are Digged - Another one that went over my head. This one dealt with poetry and time travel.

#13 - The Perils of the Double Sign - The narrator has a conversation with a small devil who has been trapped by a student whose hobby is astrology.

#14 - Conversations with the Little Table - Our narrator brings home an antique table which commences to tap around as if dancing. He and his wife sit down and find that the table once belonged to William Lyon Mackenzie King and he has a conversation with them. Another fun one.

#15 - The King Enjoys His Own Again - The spirits of King George IV and Bishop John Strachan debate with each other. I don't know anything about these people so I didn't enjoy this one much.

#16 - The Xerox in the Lost Room - Another fun one this time. The spirit of a poor relation immigrates to Canada when his manor is brought here and re-assembled. The manor is then opened up to the public and the ghost has had enough so he goes to the college and asks our narrator for asylum.

#17 - Einstein and the Little Lord - This was hilarious! As Einstein is visiting with our narrator, Little Lord Fauntleroy appears begging for Einstein's help in Paradise.

#18 - Offer of Immortality - A strange little man who is very cold and drinks a lot of vinegar, claims he is over 450 years old and offers Davies the opportunity to live forever.

16. The Best American Short Stories 2007

The Best American Short Stories 2007
Edited by Stephen King


Pages: 411
Finished: Jan. 23, 2008
Reason for Reading: weekly reading of short stories for short story Monday.
First Published: 2007
Genre: anthology, short story collection
Rating: 3/5

Comments: An interesting collection of short stories by different authors with no common theme. The stories range from the mundane to the strange, from love stories to death stories. For me the best stories in the collection were in the first half of the book leaving the second half very underwhelming for me. None of the stories stick out as being absolutely fabulous but there are some that were very good. Overall, a decent collection of stories most suited to the literary reader. Follows are my brief synopses of each story (with no spoilers) with my thoughts.

1. Pa's Darling by Louis Auchincloss - set in the sixties, a woman reflects on how her larger than life father overshadowed her life. Readable, but didn't really do anything for me.

2. Toga Party by John Barth - This story takes place in an affluent gated retirement community and centers around one aged couple who are invited by the new people on the street to their toga-themed housewarming party. I really enjoyed this. The characterization of this seventy-something couple was wonderful and I found it to be a fast-paced read with a startling climax. I would be interested in reading more by Barth.

#3. Solid Wood by Ann Beattie - An elderly man and his sister have dinner with the recent widow of his best friend. There are some undercurrents that come to light for the reader as the dinner progresses. I didn't enjoy this one at all. It basically had no plot and, frankly, was boring. There is more to the story than appears at first but I prefer to read and think "wow, that was good" rather than "hmm, I wonder what this means".

#4. Balto by T.C. Boyle - A man and his 12-year-old daughter are on their way to court. This story recounts the events that lead up to the trial. The plot is more involved but any further description would contain spoilers. I was eager to read this story as Boyle is on my list of authors I'd like to read one day and this was my first sampling of his. I wasn't disappointed. This was a compelling story with a fast-paced read. I loved this one.

#5. Riding the Doghouse by Randy Devita - An eerie, disquieting story of father and son. A man remembers back to the year he was twelve and accompanied his trucker father for a week in the summer. The uneasiness in this story slowly builds and I really enjoyed it.

#6. My Brother Eli by Joseph Epstein - A man's younger brother (in his seventies) commits suicide and the older brother tells the story of his life. He was a famous writer, self-centered, egotistical, married five times with various children the brother has never met. The author contemplates whether an 'artist' is entitled to special rights and should be excluded from normal, decent behaviour because of their 'gift'. This story was longer than the others in this collection I've read so far and by far the best up to this point. It made me wish for a whole novel about these characters.

#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.

#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.

#12 Findings & Impressions by Stellar Kim - I quickly realized this story was about someone dying of cancer so I skipped it as I don't read about that topic.

#13 Allegiance by Aryn Kyle - Glynnis and her parents have recently moved to America from England and she finds herself in the position of new girl at school. An unpopular girl has made moves to befriend her but Glynnis must choose between being unpopular also or making the right moves to become one of the popular crowd. There also is an unraveling story of why the parents moved to America and why the mother is so embittered.

#14 The Boy in Zaquitos by Bruce McAllister - A man gives a talk to a class about how he used to work for the government spreading deadly diseases in other countries. Strange.

#15 - Dimension by Alice Munro - skipped. This was an Andrea Yates type of story, only the father was the murderer, and that's not a spoiler.
#16 - The Bris by Eileen Pollack - skipped. A dying parent story.

#17 - St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell. This is one of my favourite stories in the collection. Young werewolves are sent to the 'Home' to be raised by nuns and taught to behave like their human side and forget their wolf side.

#18 - Horeseman by Richard Russo - A University professor grapples with what her life has become over what she could have become.

#19 - Sans Farine by Jim Shepard - This concerns the man who was the executioner at the time of the French Revolution. The men in his family had been executioners for seven generations, only now he is facing problems as his wife does not agree with the royal executions. Just ok.

#20 - Do Something by Kate Walbert - Basically this was just a depressing story of a woman whose son died of leukemia and she has turned to making protest demonstrations on her own.

Short Story Monday

I have been busy reading short stories this week as I wanted to finish both of the collections I have been working on. I have quite a little stack of collections here that I am eager to start so it was time to either finish these or set them aside.



These are the last two stories in this collections

#19 - Sans Farine by Jim Shepard - This concerns the man who was the executioner at the time of the French Revolution. The men in his family had been executioners for seven generations, only now he is facing problems as his wife does not agree with the royal executions. Just ok.

#20 - Do Something by Kate Walbert - Basically this was just a depressing story of a woman whose son died of leukemia and she has turned to making protest demonstrations on her own.

Next up the last half of this book:


#10 - The Cat That Went to Trinity - There are two new students in class this year. One named Elizabeth Lavenza the other named Enstein, given name Victor Frank. This gives our narrator cause for concern especially since he is teaching the Gothic novel this year. This was a really fun story, melodramatic and witty.

#11 - The Ugly Spectre of Sexism - I didn't really get this one very much. Written in 1972 it pokes fun at both feminism and chauvinism.

#12 - The Pit Whence Ye Are Digged - Another one that went over my head. This one dealt with poetry and time travel.

#13 - The Perils of the Double Sign - The narrator has a conversation with a small devil who has been trapped by a student whose hobby is astrology.

#14 - Conversations with the Little Table - Our narrator brings home an antique table which commences to tap around as if dancing. He and his wife sit down and find that the table once belonged to William Lyon Mackenzie King and he has a conversation with them. Another fun one.

#15 - The King Enjoys His Own Again - The spirits of King George IV and Bishop John Strachan debate with each other. I don't know anything about these people so I didn't enjoy this one much.

#16 - The Xerox in the Lost Room - Another fun one this time. The spirit of a poor relation immigrates to Canada when his manor is brought here and re-assembled. The manor is then opened up to the public and the ghost has had enough so he goes to the college and asks our narrator for asylum.

#17 - Einstein and the Little Lord - This was hilarious! As Einstein is visiting with our narrator, Little Lord Fauntleroy appears begging for Einstein's help in Paradise.

#18 - Offer of Immortality - A strange little man who is very cold and drinks a lot of vinegar, claims he is over 450 years old and offers Davies the opportunity to live forever.

Now I will be gathering all the reviews I've done for these collections and posting each one in it's own blog entry.

My next collection will be Garth Nix's Across the Wall. Then after that I also have Stephen King's Night Shift (next in my chrono. project) and Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors. I see a trend here! I also have some non horror/fantasy collections too so I may put something between these for a change of pace.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

15. True History of the Kelly Gang

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey


Pages: 368
Finished: Jan. 27, 2008
Reason for Reading: Booker challenge, book awards challenge, chosen for me in the GRTB game on LibraryThing.
First Published: 2000
Genre: historical fiction
Award: Booker Prize
Rating: 4.5/5

First Sentence:

I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.


Comments: The life story of Ned Kelly, Australian Bushranger and Outlaw, as told through his fictional diaries. Wow, this was an amazing book. From page two I was hooked on the story and the life of this man. I found myself absolutely intrigued by him and since I started the book I have been reading about him online as well. Since the story is told through Ned's point of view we come to feel for him and root* for him, perhaps as the Australian people themselves did at the time. This was a wonderful book, you really can't ask for more in a novel.

The one negative comment I have is about the lack of punctuation. I don't feel it added any authenticity to the story at all but instead showed the author's own arrogance. The lack of sentence structure made this a very slow read. My reading speed decreased dramatically. I would often have to read a 'sentence' 2 or three times to understand and this particularly happened when people were speaking as the lack of quotations in the book leaves the reader unsure of who is speaking at many times. However, this should not be a deterrent to reading the book. As I read the last page I closed the book and spoke aloud to the empty room, "Wow, that was good." This book will be certainly be a contender for my best book of the year.

*Well, well, it turns out root has a totally different meaning in Australia (see comments). Let's just say the Australians cheered for him and leave it at that.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

14. The Field Guide

The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1


Pages: 107
Finished: Jan. 24, 2008
Reason for Reading: first in a series challenge, read-aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 2003
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5

First Sentence:

If someone had asked Jared Grace what jobs his brother and sister would have when they grew up, he would have had no trouble replying.


Comments: Three children move to an old Victorian home that belongs to a relative. They soon start hearing strange noises and then they find many strange and wonderful things that lead them to believe the house has another inhabitant. I read this aloud to my 7yo and I have to say I have never seen him so engrossed in a book before. At the end of each chapter we could hardly stand to not continue reading. We are both looking forward to the next volume. A wonderful, well-written fantasy for the under tens.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reading Meme

This is a cool meme. I've just started to see it on a few blogs and Stephanie has tagged me! The meme originally comes from Eva.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

This is a tough one. I don't think I actually cringe at anything except bodice-rippers. But I guess the one book that I sometimes see reviews of, and they are always positive, is Les Miserables. I absolutely do not enjoy anything that takes place in historical France and the French Revolution is the worst. I read and hated A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I have seen the musical for Les Miserables and did not enjoy it all. So the thought of reading the book makes me cringe.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

This would perpetually change with whatever books I've read recently as I always have strong feeling for characters as I'm reading the books. Right now, I'm reading The True History of the Kelly Gang and I'd love to have a romantic picnic with Ned Kelly somewhere out in the bush under a gum tree.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

The most boring book would probably be nonfiction, anything to do with stocks, bonds, mutual funds.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

I can't think of anything really. I didn't go to college so I can't answer with that. My problem in high school was that when we had assigned books, I was always annoyed because I had already read them, like two years ago. So, honestly I don't think I've ever pretended to have read a book I haven't.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (If you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP).

I guess it would depend on the VIP's background but if I have to pick a book I guess I would say "Winnie-the-Pooh". The first thing a VIP should do is not take themselves too seriously and I think Pooh could help them with that.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

The only language I have ever really wanted to be able to read is Japanese. You see they publish all these really cool crochet pattern books and it takes a lot of head scratching to figure everything out from the diagrams. I would love to be able to read them!

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

My first thought when I read this question was that the book would have to be thin. If I have to read it every year for the rest of my life I think I would get bored with it, no matter how much I like it now. So my pick would be one of my most favourite (and thin) books, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I have discovered so many things from book blogging but I'd say the most profound difference in my reading since blogging is that I now read current books. I actually know when books are to be published and anxiously await them. Prior to blogging I pretty much only read books published 20+ years ago. Probably mostly because of the expense of new hardcovers, but now if a new book comes out and I want to read it, I will put in a request at the library.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

Well, first it would be large. Full of lots of gorgeous wood bookcases. Their would be a couple of large, comfy armchairs. Big enough for me and the 7yo to cuddle up in the same chair. When it comes to the books, I'm not interested in collectors editions or signed editions. My library would include every book written by my favourite authors and every book in every series I am currently reading or will want to read someday. That would be my heaven.

Tag 4 people.
I'm going to leave it with 3 people this time.

Joy (Thoughts of Joy)
Literary Feline (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)
Darla (Books and Other Thoughts)

Fairy Tale Friday



#8 - The Lake That Flew Away (An Estonian legend) - We really enjoyed this tale. Brigands and bandits were hiding in the marshes, searching for treasure and killing anyone who came near them. The lake flowed with their blood and was so sad that he decided to leave and find himself a place where he would be useful and appreciated.

#9 - Admirable Hare (a legend from Ceylon) - This is a tale of the Buddha and explains why, if you look closely, you can see the shape of a hare when you look at the moon.

#10 - All Roads Lead to Wales (A Welsh legend) - This is probably our favourite in the book so far. This post-Roman tale tells how Maximus Emperor of Rome found his lady love in Wales and how the Roman roads across all of Britain came to be built.

#11 - Rainbow Snake (An Australian myth) - The rainbow comes down to a dull, bland earth and leaves behind both tragedy, wisdom and colour.

#12 - Juno's Roman Geese (A Roman legend) - How a statue of Juno and her sacred birds, geese, saved Rome from the invading Gauls.

We are really enjoying this book. Each story is full of life and drama. The 7yo is really having fun with the tales of battles and sieges. He is usually making battle sound effects while I'm reading. :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

13. Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Illustrations by Robert Lawson


Pages: 139
Finished: Jan. 22, 2008
Reason for Reading: decades challenge, read-aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 1938
Genre: children, fiction
Award: Newbery Honor Book
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

It was an afternoon in late September.


Comments: Mr. Popper, an avid reader of literature concerning the Poles, receives a gift of a penguin from Admiral Cook. What ensues is the story of how he and his family cope with a penguin, and then many more penguins. This is the fourth time, I think, that I have read this so it has lost some of its charm for me. The 7yo enjoyed it well enough. The penguin antics are funny and this is a story that appeals to a child's imagination. Robert Lawson's illustrations are fabulous, as always. A cute, enjoyable story.

I do have to say though that I always find the ending rather disconcerting. SPOILER ALERT..... Mr. Popper leaves his family, basically deserts them, for a supposed couple of years and Mrs. Popper and the children aren't bothered in the least, just waving merrily good-bye.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

12. Rage



Rage by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)


Pages: 131
Finished: Jan. 21, 2008
Reason for Reading: I'm reading Stephen King in order and this was the next book.
First Published: 1977
Genre: fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

The morning I got it on was nice; a nice May morning.


Comments: This is the first book Stephen King published under the nome de plume of Richard Bachman. This is very different from the other books he had published at this time. I'm not sure if it really fits in under any specific genre other than just fiction. This is an angry story of an angry youth who, in his last year of high school, thinks he is going insane and one day takes his algebra classroom hostage at gun point after killing two teachers in the process. The story turns into a "Breakfast Club" type of scenario as the hostages and the hostage taker tell stories and learn about each other. Interesting story, well-written and thought-provoking. Recommend.

Next book up for my chonological Stephen King reading project is The Shining. I am looking forward to this one!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

11. Born Standing Up

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin


Pages: 207
Finished: Jan. 20, 2008
Reason for Reading: I thought it might be interesting
First Published: 2007
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 3/5

First Sentence:

I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years.


Comments: Comedian, Steve Martin, shares in this memoir the ups and downs of the eighteen years he did stand-up. He briefly tells of his childhood, then moves on to his teenage years when he worked at Disneyland in a magic shop demonstrating the products. Martin does not get too personal, one can tell from his story that he is a private person. What he does give though is a vivid portrayal of the entertainment scene during the seventies and late sixties. It is a brief book and I would have liked some more in depth details of his experiences but it does give one some insight into the personal man behind the 'wild and crazy guy'. Enjoyable.

Monday, January 21, 2008

10. Abhorsen

Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Third in the Abhorsen Trilogy


Pages: 518
Finished: Jan. 20, 2008
Reason for Reading: next in the series. Series Challenge
First Published: 2003
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Fog rose from the river, great billows of white weaving into the soot and smoke of the city of Corvere, to become the hybrid thing that the more popular newspapers called smog and the Times "miasmic fog."


Comments: The last book in the Abhorsen trilogy starts the moment after the second book ends. This is mostly a quest story as Lirael and Prince Sameth travel to save the world from the Destroyer. The prologue ends with a shocker that took me quite a few chapters to come to terms with and then I settled down into the journey part of the story. The journey lasts three-quarters of book and I found that at times it lagged and seemed overlong. The action did pick up around the halfway point though and the last 200 hundred pages were page-turners for me. Not quite so good as the second book, which is the best of the three in my opinion. A very satisfying ending that completes the trilogy nicely yet leaves one wanting more. Recommended.

I've recently come to learn that Garth Nix has the go ahead for two more books in this series. He will have a prequel which takes place many years before the trilogy and deals with Chlorr of the Mask and will be called "Clariel". The estimated date is 2010. Then in 2011 he will have a book which will follow the trilogy and is yet unnamed. I am so excited about this!

Finally, this is my last book in the trilogy and the first series I have completed for the Series Challenge. There is one more related story I will be reading as there is a novella which takes place in the Old Kingdom. Since I am almost finished my current short story book, my next book will be "Across the Wall", a collection of short stories and the above mentioned novella.

Short Story Monday



Well, I'm nearing the end of this book. Just two more stories to go! This week I ended up skipping a couple of stories as they were just not the type of thing I like to read.

#15 - Dimension by Alice Munro - skipped. This was an Andrea Yates type of story, only the father was the murderer, and that's not a spoiler.
#16 - The Bris by Eileen Pollack - skipped. A dying parent story.

#17 - St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell. This is one of my favourite stories in the collection. Young werewolves are sent to the 'Home' to be raised by nuns and taught to behave like their human side and forget their wolf side.

#18 - Horeseman by Richard Russo - A University professor grapples with what her life has become over what she could have become.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movie Review: The Departed

The Departed


Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin
Released: 2006
Own/Rent: Library
Reason for watching: This was the Oscar winner last year and we hadn't seen it yet, plus I love the entire line-up of actors in this.
Rating: 5/5

Comments: This was an absolutely awesome movie. It was so intense; I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie. The suspense of who was going to find out about the other first throughout the whole movie was thrilling. At the beginning of the movie I guessed what was going to happen to one of the characters but at the end when it did happen I was still shocked. Then the twists just kept piling up and it was stunning. I have a really easy time figuring out how books and movies are going to end so when I find one that shocks me I am delighted. I really want to watch this again and will probably buy the DVD sometime. Leonardo DiCaprio was really wonderful in this. I'm actually more a fan of Matt Damon than DiCaprio, but I think he was just brilliant in this role. Highly recommend!

We have also watched with the 7yo recently:

Superman III (library) - I actually enjoyed this. It is the least popular of the original Superman movies but I like it just as well. I think that Christopher Reeve was a perfect Superman. Richard Pryor is also quite funny in this. The 7yo loved it.

Happy Feet (library) - This didn't impress me at all. It was fun listening to Elijah Wood as the main character but other than that quite boring. The music was good though. The 7yo says he liked it but it hasn't left any lasting impression on him.

Friday, January 18, 2008

9. Little Pear and His Friends

Little Pear and His Friends by Eleanor Frances Lattimore
Second Little Pear book


Pages: 129
Finished: Jan. 17, 2008
Reason for Reading: next in the series. Dh has been reading this at bedtime to the 7yo and I didn't want to miss out so I read it when they finished.
First Published: 1934
Genre: children fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First Sentence:

There is a village in China called Shegu.


Comments: Everything I said in my review for the first Little Pear book, holds true for this title also. This time around Little Pear is one year older, now six years old and in the first chapter his new baby brother arrives. Little Pear's adventures are less from naughtiness this time around but more from curiosity and misunderstandings. The writing and illustrations (on every page) are charming and the characters are endearing. An incredibly vivid look at life in a Chinese village in the early 1900s. Highly recommend.

There are two more Little Pear books but neither of them have been reprinted so I am keeping my fingers crossed that ILL will pull through for me.

Fairy Tale Friday



#3 - George and the Dragon (A Persian myth) - A dragon is terrorizing a kingdom and a lottery is held each day to find the person who will be sacrificed for the dragon's next meal. On the day that the king's daughter has been chosen a Knight of the Crusades is on the scene to save the day. This is the legend of Saint George.

#4 - Skinning Out (An Ethiopian myth) - Tells the story of why the snake can change his skin when it gets old but humans cannot.

#5 - Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow (An English legend) - Starts with very brief historical background of Kings Richard and John, and Robin of Locksey. Then tells the popular story of the day Robin Hood won an archery contest disguised as on old man.

#6 - Brave Quest (A Native American myth) - A young brave who has been scarred by eagles is in love with a girl who has been promised to the sun. The girl asks him to journey to the Sun and ask his permission to marry her. The brave has a long eventful journey and ultimately does the Sun a favour. We both really enjoyed this one and it was our favourite of the week.

#7 - Saving Time (A Polynesian myth) - Another tale of the Sun. In the days of long ago the sun used to speed across the sky making for very, very short days. One Polynesian boy decides to harness the Sun until he promises to slowly take his time across the sky so the Island People may have time to finish their work during daylight.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movie Review - The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness


Director: Gabriele Muccino
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Released: 2006
Own/Rent: Library
Reason for watching: I like Will Smith.
Rating: 5/5

Comments: WOW. What a fabulous rags to riches story. Based on a true story of a man who made it from homelessness with his 5-year old son to business success. It was funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspiring. This movie leaves you with the feeling that if you tried you could make it too. It also makes you feel like whatever your problems are, if this man could make it through his problems you can certainly make it through your own. So definitely one of those feel good movies. But also a very sad movie, at times. Watching the main character try to provide a place to sleep each night for his son was heartbreaking. It has been a long time since I cried while watching a movie, but the scene where they spent the night in the subway washroom had me weeping. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

8. Indelible

Indelible by Karin Slaughter
Fourth in the Grant County series


Pages: 360
Finished: Jan. 15, 2008
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 2004
Genre: mystery, thriller
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

"Well, look what the cat dragged in," Marla Simms bellowed, giving Sara a pointed look over her silver-rimmed bifocals.


Comments: This book is a departure from Slaughter's previous books. There is no gruesome crime scene in this story at all. Instead we delve into the past of the main characters and a fabulous story enfolds. The plot switches between the present where the Grant Country police station has been infiltrated and hostages taken, including Sara and Jeffrey, and the past where crimes of Jeffrey's childhood are brought to the surface when he takes Sara to his hometown just after they first started dating. This was a fabulous read and so different from her other books, yet just as good. Slaughter is definitely among my favourite authors. I can't wait for the next book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movie Review - The Queen

The Queen


Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Helen Mirren, James Cromwell, Roger Allam
Released: 2006
Own/Rent: Library
Reason for watching: Have wanted to see it. I used to be very big on the monarchy.
Rating: 4/5

Comments: I had to talk my dh into watching this with me, and fortunately, he ended up liking it as much as I did. Really a great movie that shows the royals from a very different angle. Mirren was fabulous as the Queen and I was really pleased to see Charles portrayed so low-key. The movie shined a positive light on everybody involved, I thought. And Blair was very interesting to watch. It was just a tad too political for me, since I know nothing of British politics and don't care for politics anyway. It's funny though, dh and I were talking and thought how few of the British PMs we knew of. Neither of us could name anyone off the top of our heads from recent years except Blair and Thatcher. Of course, if I go back in time I can come up with a few more: Churchill, Disraeli and Gladstone. I'm sure if I googled I'd recognize other names but off the top of my head that is all I know. But then, I'm sure the situation would probably be same if you asked a Brit to name Canadian PMs!

Trivia: Somehow talking about Brits and such I feel I should note that technically I am British myself. I was born in England and am a British citizen but have lived in Canada, as a landed immigrant, practically all my life.

Monday, January 14, 2008

7. The Reptile Room

The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Second


Pages: 190
Finished: Jan. 13, 2008
Reason for Reading: next in the series
First Published: 1999
Genre: children, Gothic
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

The stretch of road that leads out of the city, past Hazy Harbor and into the town of Tedia, is perhaps the most unpleasant in the world.


Comments: The story picks up with the children in the car driving to their new home. Here they meet their distant uncle, Uncle Monty, who is a pleasant and intelligent man. The children seem to have finally found a wonderful place to live after the death of their parents but, alas, that is not to be. For only a few short days later, Uncle Monty's new assistant arrives and the children are positive he is Count Olaff in disguise. The pace from the first book picks up and this second book is much more fast-paced. The dark, gothic atmosphere continues and added is a touch of Holmesian detecting as the children set out to solve the murder mystery. Both the story and the new characters of Uncle Monty and the Incredibly Deadly Viper are a lot of fun. In the words of my 7yo who said this several times as I was reading aloud to him, "This is better than the first book!" If you enjoyed the first book you will love "The Reptile Room".

Short Story Monday

Having reached the half-way point of my other book, I've decided to switch back to this one for a change of pace.



#12 Findings & Impressions by Stellar Kim - I quickly realized this story was about someone dying of cancer so I skipped it as I don't read about that topic.

#13 Allegiance by Aryn Kyle - Glynnis and her parents have recently moved to America from England and she finds herself in the position of new girl at school. An unpopular girl has made moves to befriend her but Glynnis must choose between being unpopular also or making the right moves to become one of the popular crowd. There also is an unraveling story of why the parents moved to America and why the mother is so embittered.

#14 The Boy in Zaquitos by Bruce McAllister - A man gives a talk to a class about how he used to work for the government spreading deadly diseases in other countries. Strange.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

6. Beyond the Deepwoods

Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart
Illustrated by Chris Ridell
The Edge Chronicles, Book One


Pages: 284
Finished: Jan. 13, 2008
Reason for Reading: 1st in a series challenge
First Published: 1998
Genre: children, YA fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Far far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, like the figurehead of a mighty stone ship, is the Edge.


Comments: Twig was abandoned at birth and left to be brought up by a family of woodtrolls. Twig now sets off on a journey to find something to fill the void he feels from not belonging, what he finds is the truth and his destiny. Wow, this book was amazing. My mind is just full of the amazing world created by the author. The Edge is a land inhabited by bizarre characters and creatures (both flora and fauna). Each chapter brings us a new creature and new characters such as a hoverworm, the Slaughterers, a banderbear, the Bloodoak, the Gyle Goblin colony and so much more. I just couldn't stop reading as I excitedly turned to the next chapter to see who and what Twig would meet next. I could kick myself for waiting so long to read this and am terribly anxious to read the next book in this nine book series.

Movie Review - RV

RV


Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels
Released: 2006
Own/Rent: Library
Reason for watching: We like Robin Williams.
Rating: 3.5/5

Comments: We enjoyed this movie. I see it didn't get very good reviews but I guess we're pretty easy to please. When I sit down to watch a comedy, especially one with a favourite actor in it, I expect to laugh and have fun. And this movie delivered. Lots of laughs and lots of fun in this simple, clean, family-friendly movie.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

5. The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
First Percy Jackson and the Olympians book


Pages: 375
Finished: Jan. 11, 2008
Reason for Reading: 1st in a series challenge
First Published: 2005
Genre: children, YA fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.


Comments: After Percy Jackson is attacked by a monster he finds out that he is a demigod. His mother takes him to the summer camp where others like him are trained. It is here he finds out which god is his father and he is given his first quest, to retrieve the stolen lightning bolt of Zeus from Hades in the Underworld.

This book was so much fun. A fast-paced read from beginning to end. As a fan of Greek myths I loved how the author did not tell who each monster or god was right away, giving the reader a chance to figure it out themselves. There were so many familiar myths represented here but there were also a few that were new to me as well. The characters were real and likable and I found myself comparing this to Harry Potter. Not so much in the plot (though there are some similarities) but mostly in the friendship of the three main characters, who are school mates and the dynamics between them. I can't wait to read the next book in this series and highly recommend.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fairy Tale Friday

I love fairy tales with a passion. And my passion runs the gamut through fairy tales, legends and myths, especially the Greek myths. I simply love them all. I am currently reading from the book The Golden Hoard: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean, to my 7yo anywhere from two - five times a week. This is the first of a three book set by McCaughrean and each book is illustrated by Bee Willey. The illustrations are stunning and looking at the pictures is just as much fun as reading the stories. McCaughrean is a wonderful writer, these tales are vivid. The language is beautiful and full of emotion.

I'll be writing a short review each week as we read through the stories just like I do with my own short story reading. I'll be posting on Fridays simply because I'm a sucker for alliteration. LOL.



#1 - The Golden Wish (A Greek Myth) - This is the story of King Midas, one of my favourite Greek myths. Does anyone not know the story? Midas wishes that everything he touches would turn into gold but when the wish comes true the reality is not what he expected. I loved the ending of this one which questions whether Midas really did learn his lesson.

#2 - Shooting the Sun (A Chinese Myth) - The god of the eastern sky has ten sons, or I should say suns. Each sun takes a turn walking across the sky but they get greedy and unruly and want to do it each day. As the world starts to burn up with ten suns shining every day and night the bowman of the sky is commissioned to shoot each sun down. At the last minute the earthly emperor realizes that one sun must be left to remain in the sky. This is a new one to me and an emotional tale as the god and his wife loose their children.

Movie Review: Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine


Director: Jonathan Dayton
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin
Released: 2006
Own/Rent: Library
Reason for watching: After hearing someone referring to it, I looked it up online and thought it sounded good.
Rating: 4.5/5

Comments: Since I had never heard of this until just recently, I didn't know what to expect going in, except that it was quirky. Quirky it was, indeed, but also hilarious and heartwarming. Throughout the whole movie we chuckled over and over but at the end when you find out what the little girl's talent for the beauty pageant is we were roaring with laughter. Every one of the actors was wonderful, Alan Arkin especially and I see he won an Oscar for the part. This is an exceptional movie and one that shouldn't be missed. Recommended!



We've also watched a few movies with the 7yo recently. These are:

Curious George - (own) a bit too sappy, sweet for my tastes but the 7yo liked it well enough.

Dennis the Menace Strikes Again - (TV) enjoyable but the first one is better

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - (library) honestly I was bored with this and couldn't keep my mind on it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

4. The Serpent's Egg

The Serpent's Egg by J. Fitzgerald McCurdy
First book of The Serpent's Egg Trilogy


Pages: 280
Finished: Jan. 8, 2008
Reason for Reading: Canadian challenge, YA challenge
First Published: 2001
Genre: children, YA fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5

First Sentence:

North of Ottawa, deep in the Gatineau Hills, a tremor shook the still night air.


Comments: Just as Hate, the Demon, arrives at Miranda's house to destroy her, a Druid takes her away. As she follows him, they make their way to the Houses of Parliament and with the help of the tunnels underground and a little bit of magic she, and her friends, are escorted to the Elven world. It is then she finds out that she is the only one who can destroy the Demon.

The story was exciting and fast-paced and the fantasy world was intriguing. The world is inhabited by the typical Tolkien races of elves, dwarfs, trolls and dragons. That this world was connected to ours via the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa added an extra touch of fun.

I really enjoyed the book, the plot and the fantasy were compelling. The main characters, on the other hand were somewhat lacking. I found them to be rather whiny and rude children, and the author's use of all caps when someone shouted was tiresome. However, the storyline kept me reading and I recommend this book to fantasy fans.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Short Story Monday


#7 Refuge of Insulted Saints - Hearing a knock at the door one evening our narrator opens the door to find Babs (otherwise known as Saint Barbara, Patron Saint of Artillery) standing at his door with a cannon pointing at him. She and many other saints who have just been deposed to legend status by Pope Paul VI (1969)are seeking asylum at the college. This was a lot of fun and very witty!

#8 Dickens Digested - A young man working on his thesis about Charles Dickens becomes more and more like Dickens himself. Lots of fun Dickensian-speak but not as good as other stories here.

#9 The Kiss of Khrushchev - A Russian exchange student, a member of the choir, disappeared some years ago but now our narrator has found a singing frog in the basement. This story was just plain weird.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

3. Kept: A Victorian Mystery

Kept: A Victorian Mystery by D.J. Taylor


Pages: 463
Finished: Jan. 6, 2008
Reason for Reading: When I read the jacket blurb, I thought this would be just the kind of book I'd like. Chunkster Challenge
First Published: 2007
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

I will happily declare that there is no sight so harmonious to the eye or suggestive to the spirit as Highland scenery.


Comments: It is very hard to tell the plot of this book as there are many things going on. Two main stories run parallel throughout until they come together at the end. One being the mysterious mad woman kept under lock and key, the other follows a crooked lawyer who collects debts for his clients. There are also many side stories that intertwine these main stories. There is a maid who works in the house where the mad woman is kept, a young footman who falls under the spell of the crooked lawyer, an impoverished man whose wife is dying, the embarrassed landowner who would rather collect rare eggs than look after his property, the young man who seeks adventure in the wilds of Canada and so very many more.

This was a wonderful book that pays homage to the classic Victorian novel. There are literary allusions aplenty and many nods to authors such as Dickens and London. The huge ensemble of characters are skillfully woven through the pages and each in their own way, no matter how infinitesimal, plays a part in the grand scheme of the plot. A wonderful, engrossing novel with a very satisfying ending and highly recommended.

Friday, January 4, 2008

2. The Bad Beginning

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the First


Pages: 162
Finished: Jan. 4, 2008
Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 7yo.
First Published: 1999
Genre: children, Gothic mystery
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.


Comments: I read the first three Unfortunate Events books about 3 years ago and for some reason never got around to reading the rest of them. In this first volume the Baudelaire children become orphans and are sent to live with the evil Count Orloff who treats them miserably and plans to take their fortune from them. This series is mostly a parody of the Victorian penny dreadful type of books and is really a lot fun. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy and the humour dry and ironic. Literary allusions abound. The setting is an alternate one being clearly set in a Victorian age while also having such conveniences as cars and walkie-talkies. Some parts went over the 7yo's head but mostly he understood the humour and when he didn't I explained it to him. He was certainly along for the ride and experienced a roller coaster of emotions throughout the story. The children are very likable characters and the villains are evil and dastardly. We are both anxious to read the next book.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Movies/DVDs of 2008

This is an ongoing list of movies and dvds I have watched in 2008.

January: 13
1. I,Robot (2004) -science fiction
2. Curious George (2006) -animated
3. Dennis the Menace Strikes Again (1998)-family comedy
4. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) -stop motion
5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) -comedy
6. RV (2006) -comedy
7. The Queen (2006) -drama, biography
8. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) -drama
9. Superman III (1983) -action adventure
10. Happy Feet (2006) -animated
11. The Departed (2006) -drama
12. Spiderman 3 (2007) action adventure
13. Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End (2007) action adventure

February:
14. Shrek the Third (2007) -animated
15. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) -thriller
16. Ratatouille (2007) -animated
17. Transformers (2007) -science-fiction

Didn't Follow Through ... Better Luck Next Year

Movies: I, Robot

This blog is about books but I thought I'd like to also make a list of movies and DVD sets that I watch. We don't go to the movies very often, anywhere from 0-4 times a year, so most of our movie-watching is done at home. Most of the movies we watch are borrowed from the library for free. Our library doesn't have the greatest selection of movies but it's not half bad either. We buy movies on DVD occasionally, especially when Wal-Mart has big sales. I also have a thing for TV Show Seasons on DVD. I expect my movie 'reviews' will be short and sweet.

I'll start with last night's movie, the first we watched in 2008.

I, Robot


Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Will Smith
Released: 2004
Own/Rent: Own
Reason for watching: I love Will Smith. I love science fiction movies and having read the book was interested in it.
"Suggested" by the book I, Robot by Isaac Asimov which I have read many years ago.
Rating: 3.5/5

Comments: The movie has nothing whatsoever to do with the book of short stories I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. It basically used a few ideas and the same title. I really enjoyed the movie but it could have been better. There wasn't a lot of oomph or 'special' special effects. Will Smith was good. I love him in this type of movie. The robots were creepy and I don't ever want to have one of those things. The cars driving themselves and the vertical parking were very cool, though. A fun sci-fi flick. Recommended.

Chunkster Challenge

OK, I have been trying to resist this challenge. I am in so many challenges already but I have my reasons (mwa ha ha!) I am officially joining the Chunkster Challenge which stipulates you read at least 4 books in 2008 that are at least 450 pages or more.

I started a book yesterday which qualifies and I intend on reading a Charles Dickens book this year so that really only leaves my 2 more books to add to the list. Oh, I just remembered I'll be reading The Far Sweet Thing by Libba Bray and The Shining by Stephen King this year too! Yeah, I have four and didn't have to add anything to my schedule!

My list:

Kept: A Victoria Mystery by D.J. Taylor (463 pgs of fairly small type) This is the one I'm currently reading.

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1024 pgs)

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (832 pgs.)

The Shining by Stephen King (704 pgs.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Books Read in 2008

This is an ongoing list of every book I read in 2008.

TOTAL = 194

January: 21
1. Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel -YA animal fantasy
2. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket -children, gothic (R/A)
3. Kept: A Victorian Mystery by D.J. Taylor -historical fiction
4. The Serpent's Egg by J. Fitzgerald McCurdy -YA fantasy
5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan -YA fantasy
6. Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart -YA fantasy
7. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket -children, gothic (R/A)
8. Indelible by Karin Slaughter mystery, thriller
9. Little Pear and His Friends by Eleanor Frances Lattimore children fiction
10. Abhorsen by Garth Nix -YA fantasy
11. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin -NF, memoir
12. Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King) -fiction
13. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater -children fiction (R/A)
14. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black -children, fantasy (R/A)
15. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey -historical fiction
16. The Best American Short Stories 2007 -short stories, anthology
17. High Spirits: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Robertson Davies -short stories
18. The Iron Staircase by Georges Simenon -fiction
19. Strange Events: Incredible Canadian Monsters, Curses, Ghosts and Other Tales by Johanna Bertin -NF, paranormal
20. Faithless by Karin Slaughter mystery, thriller
21. The Apple and the Arrow by Mary & Conrad Buff children, historical fiction (R/A)

February: 24
22. Empress of Asia by Adam Lewis Schroeder -historical fiction
23. Firewing by Kenneth Oppel -YA, fantasy
24. The Seeing Stone by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi -children, fantasy (R/A)
25. The Golden Hoard: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean fairy tales, (R/A)
26. Keturah & Lord Death by Martine Leavitt YA, fantasy
27. Procession of the Dead by D.B. Shan (Darren Shan) urban fantasy
28. Invasion of the Blobs by Paul Stewart -children, sci-fi
29. Up to Low by Brian Doyle -YA fiction
30. Destiny by Alex Archer -fantasy, action
31. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket -children, gothic, (R/A)
32. Death at the Priory: Sex, Love and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick -non fiction, true crime
33. Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card science fiction
34. Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories by Garth Nix short stories, fantasy
35. Triptych by Karin Slaughter -thriller, mystery
36. Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner -children, fantasy
37. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox -children, historical fiction
38. Little Pear and the Rabbits by Eleanor Frances Lattimore -children, fiction
39. The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh -YA, fantasy
40. The Random House Book of Mother Goose by Arnold Lobel -children, poetry
41. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George -mystery
42. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie -children's classic, fantasy, (R/A)
43. Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel YA, animal fantasy
44. Lucinda's Secret by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi -children, fantasy (R/A)
45. The Glass Slipper: Charles Perrault's Tales of Times Past by John Bierhorst fairy tales (R/A)

March: 17
46. Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts -fiction
47. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb mystery, sci-fi, romance
48. The Flying Flea, Callie, and Me by Carol & Bill Wallace children,(R/A)
49. Birdman by Mo Hayder -thriller
50. The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi children, fantasy, R/A
51. Black Ships by Jo Graham -historical fantasy
52. Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter thriller
53. Footsteps in the Snow: The Red River Diary of Isobel Scott by Carol Matas -children, historical fiction
54. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff fiction
55. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl -children, fantasy
56. The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber -suspense
57. The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen -thriller, mystery
58. The Wrath of Mulgarath by Holly Black -children, fantasy, RA
59. The Treatment by Mo Hayder mystery, thriller
60. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay -thriller, mystery
61. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen -mystery, thriller
62. In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd -fictional memoir, humour

April : 16
63. Coyote Autumn by Bill Wallace -children, animal fiction, RA
64. Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George -mystery
65. More About Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore -children, fiction, RA
66. The Arthurian Omen by G.G. Vandagriff -suspense
67. The Silver Treasure: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean folklore, children, RA
68. The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder -thriller, historical fiction
69. That Furball Puppy and Me by Carol and Bill Wallace children, fiction, RA
70. Capyboppy by Bill Peet -children, nonfiction, RA
71. Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman -mystery
72. Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan YA, horror
73. Vanish by Tess Gerritsen thriller
74. Gunpowder Empire by Harry Turtledove alternate history, YA
75. A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock historical mystery
76. Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter -mystery
77. A Ribbon of Shining Steel: The Railway Diary of Kate Cameron by Julie Lawson -children, historical fiction
78. Dolphin Adventure by Wayne Grover -children, nonfiction

May: 20
79. The Shining by Stephen King -horror
80. The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation Volume II by Patrick Watson -NF, biography
81. Madapple by Christina Meldrum YA, fiction
82. The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen -thriller
83. The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar -graphic novel, historical fiction
84. The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell fiction
85. The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan YA, horror
86. The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi -graphic novel, children
87. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz -historical fiction, drama
88. The Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone historical fiction, forensice mystery
89. Night Shift by Stephen King horror, short stories
90. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel -YA, fantasy
91. Here We Go Again: My Life in Television by Betty White autobiography
92. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit -children, fantasy, RA
93. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood -historical fiction
94. Favorite Poems of Childhood edited by Philip Smith poetry
95. Chomps, Flea, and Gray Cat (That's Me!) by Carol and Bill Wallace -children, humour, RA
96. The Eyes of a King by Catherine Banner YA, fantasy
97. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg southern fiction
98. The Borden Tragedy by Rick Geary graphic novel, true crime

June: 20
99. The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein children, horror
100. Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan YA, horror
101. Dolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover children, non-fiction
102. Ritual by Mo Hayder thriller
103. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd southern fiction
DNF. The Girl in Saskatoon by Sharon Butala
104. Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus children, mystery, RA
105. Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel YA, sci-fi
106. A Treasury of Victorian Murder by Rick Geary graphic novel, true crime
107. 1846 Hamilton: From a frontier town to the Ambitious City by Brian Henley history, nonfic
108. The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill mystery
109. David C. Cook Children's Bible Story Book children, christian, RA
110. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Rosssouthern fiction
111. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson children, RA, fiction
112. First Meetings in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card short stories, science fiction
113. The White Mary by Kira Salak fiction
114. Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan YA, horror
115. Fatal: The Poisonous Life of a Female Serial Killer by Harold Schechter -true crime, NF
116. Five True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson -children, NF
117. Bill Peet: An Autobiography by Bill Peet children, NF
118. Pig Island by Mo Hayder thriller

July: 17
119. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen historical mystery
120. Losing It - And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli autobiography, NF
121. The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich historical fiction, literary fiction
122. Dolphin Freedom by Wayne Grover children, nonfiction
123. Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889 by Rick Geary -true crime, graphic novel
124. Trials of Death by Darren Shan YA, horror
125. The Seance by Iain Lawrence -YA, historical fiction
126. Down to the Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese short stories
127. Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell forensic mystery
128. Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim by Tom Corwin graphic novel
129. Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass -forensic mystery
130. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting children's classic, RA
131. The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason paranormal romance
132. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale true crime, history
133. The Ragwitch by Garth Nix YA fantasy
134. Beachcomber Boy by Eleanor Frances Lattimore children
135. One Beastly Beast (Two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales) by Garth Nix children, fantasy


August: 14
136. Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion -travelogue
137. Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner-thriller, mystery
138. Abel's Island by William Steig children's animal fantasy, RA
139. The Horseman's Graves by Jacqueline Baker canadian historical fiction
140. Newton and the Time Machine by Michael McGowan children, fantasy
141. Admit One: A Journey into Film by Emmett James memoir
142. The Fatal Bullet by Rick Geary graphic novel, true crime
143. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott YA, realistic fiction
144. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson magical realism
145. Johnny Appleseed and the Planting of the West by Gina Ingoglia children, Historical fiction
146. The Vampire Prince by Darren Shan YA, horror
147. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey children, fiction, RA
148. Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel YA, fantasy, science fiction
149. Jolted by Arthur Slade YA, magical realism

September: 8
150. Getting the Girl by Susan Juby YA, realistic
151. Home by Marilynne Robinson literary fiction
152. Hunters of the Dark by Darren Shan horror, YA
153. The Mystery of Mary Rogers by Rick Geary graphic novel, true crime
154. The Discovery of the Americas: From Prehistory Through the Age of Columbus by Betsy and Giulio Maestro Children, nonfiction, RA
155. The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries, and her Granddaughter's Search for Home by Bibi Gaston biography
156. Night Runner by Max Turner YA, paranormal
157. Faces of Fear by John Saul thriller

October: 14
158. The Birchbark Tree by Louise Erdrich children, historical fiction, RA
159. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan historical fiction
160. John Cabot & Son by David Goodnough children, biography, RA
161. Allies of the Night by Darren Shan YA, horror, paranormal
162. Bookweird by Paul Glennon YA, fantasy
163. The Beast of Chicago: The Murderous Career of H.H. Holmes graphic novel
164. Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad historical fiction, children, RA
165. Fractured by Karin Slaughter crime thriller
166. Killers of the Dawn by Darren ShanYA, horror
167. Resistance: A Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France by Agnes Humbert memoir, diary
168. Walter the Lazy Mouse by Marjorie Flack children's, RA
169. The Shadow of Malabron by Thomas Wharton YA, fantasy
170. My Name is Number 4: A True Story of the Cultural Revolution by Ting-Xing Ye memoir, YA
171. The Impostor by Damon Galgut literary fiction

November: 11
172. Regina's Closet: finding my grandmother's secret journal by Diana M. Raabmemoir
173. The Seventh Victim by Alan Jacobson thriller
174. The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen thriller
175. Saye by Jeremy H. Walker YA, fantasy
176. Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help by Douglas Anthony Cooper YA, gothic
177. Takeover by Lisa Black crime fictiion
178. The Line Painter by Claire Cameron fiction
179. Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay thrillers
XX. Toon Books graphic novel easy readers
180. The Great Karoo by Fred Stenson historical fiction
181. When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason historical paranormal romance
182. Coventry by Helen Humphreyshistorical fiction

December: 12
183. The Ruby Kingdom by Patricia Bow YA, fantasy
184. The Lake of Souls by Darren Shan YA, fantasy
185. We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee memoir
186. The Prism Blade by Patricia Bow YA, fantasy
187. American Widow by Alissa Torres graphic novel, memoir
188. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner Christian fiction, Historical fiction
189. Lord of the Shadows by Darren Shan YA, fantasy
190. The Murder of Abraham Lincoln by Rick Geary true crime, graphic novel
191. Red Dog Red Dog by Patrick Lane literary fiction
192. Sons of Destiny by Darren Shan YA, paranormal
193. tales from outer suburbia by shaun tan adult picture book, YA, short stories
194. All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson mystery


READ ALOUDS 2008 - TOTAL = 73

For my reference I'm also including a seperate listing of read-alouds. Some books in this list are not included in the above list. Links will take you to my reviews either on the blog or on librarything.

1. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket -gothic
2. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket -gothic
3. Lost in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl R. Sams -NF, nature
4. One Small Square: Woods by Donald M. Silver -NF, nature
5. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater -fiction
6. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black -fantasy
7. The Apple and the Arrow by Mary & Conrad Buff -historical fiction
8. The Seeing Stone by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi -fantasy
9. The Golden Hoard: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean -fairy tales
10. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket -gothic
11. Animals at Work: How Animals Build, Dig, Fish and Trap by Etta Kaner NF, nature

12. The Grizzly Bear Family Book by Michio Hoshino NF, nature
13. The Random House Book of Mother Goose by Arnold Lobel -poetry
14. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie classic, fantasy
15. Lucinda's Secret by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi -fantasy
16. One Small Square: Arctic Tundra by Donald M. Silver NF, nature
17. The Glass Slipper: Charles Perrault's Tales of Times Past by John Bierhorst fairy tales
18. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. picture book
19. The Flying Flea, Callie, and Me by Carol & Bill Wallace humour
20. The Ironwood Tree by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi fantasy
21. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl -fantasy
22. The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott -picture book
23. The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole -science
24. The Wrath of Mulgarath by Holly Black -fantasy
25. Coyote Autumn by Bill Wallace animal fiction
26. Animal Talk: How Animals Communicate Through Sight, Sound and Smell by Etta Kaner -NF, animals
27. One Small Square: Swamp by Donald M. Silver NF, nature
28. More About Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore fiction
29. The Silver Treasure: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean folklore
30. Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems -picture book
31. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems -picture book
32. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems -picture book
33. That Furball Puppy and Me by Carol and Bill Wallace fiction, humour
34. The Donkey Prince by M. Jean Craig fairy tale, picture book
35. Capyboppy by Bill Peet -nonfiction, animals
36. A Grain of Rice by Helena Clare Pittman fairy tale
37. Buford the Little Bighorn by Bill Peet-picture book
38. Chester the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet-picture book
39. Big Bad Bruce by Bill Peet-picture book
40. Cyrus the Unsinklable Serpent by Bill Peet-picture book
41. George and the Dragon by Chris Wormell-picture book
42. George, the Dragon and the Princess by Chris Wormell-picture book
43. The Sea Monster by Chris Wormell-picture book
44. The Big Ugly Monster and the Little Stone Rabbit by Chris Wormell-picture book
45. Animal Habitats! by Judy Press non-fiction, crafts
46. Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever by Richard Scarry -picutre book
47. Kids' Easy-to-Create Wildlife Habitats by Emily Stetson -non-fiction, nature
48. One Small Square: Coral Reef by Donald M. Silver non-fiction, nature
49. The Kids' Wildlife Book by Warner Shedd non-fiction, animals
50. Animals in Motion: How Animals Swim, Jump, Slither and Glide by Pamela Hickman non-fiction, animals
51. DK Animal Encyclopedia non-fiction
52. Flute's Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush by Lynne Cherry picture book, NF
53. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit -fantasy
54. Favorite Poems of Childhood edited by Philip Smith poetry
55. Chomps, Flea, and Gray Cat (That's Me!) by Carol and Bill Wallace -fiction, animals
56. Cowardly Clyde by Bill Peet -picture book
57. The Wump World by Bill Peet -picture book
58. The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet -picture book
59. Hubert's Hair-Raising Adventure by Bill Peet -picture book
60. Randy's Dandy Lions by Bill Peet -picture book
61. Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus mystery
62. David C. Cook Children's Bible Story Book christian
63. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson fiction, Christmas
64. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting classic
65. Abel's Island by William Steig animal fantasy
66. The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W. Service poetry, picture book
67. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey realistic fiction
68. The Discovery of the Americas: From Prehistory Through the Age of Columbus by Betsy and Giulio Maestro nonfiction, history
69. The Birchbark Tree by Louise Erdrich historical fiction
70. John Cabot & Son by David Goodnough biography
71. Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad historical fiction
72. Walter the Lazy Mouse by Marjorie Flack animal fantasy
73. Exploration and Conquest: The Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620 by Betsy and Giulio Maestro history, non-fiction