December 30, 2007

Year End

This is one of my overstuffed bookshelves - you might also guess that I got a digital camera for Christmas! So prepare yourself for many more pictures!

I've been going through my TBR pile, and I'm trying to decide what challenges to accept for the year. (Suggestions are welcome!) I'm hoping to do some that allow me to use books I already have, but I do feel a need to expand my horizons a bit. One thing I want to do is read more personal finance books. This is an area of my life I've been neglecting for far too long. I just successfully paid off all of my credit card debt, but now I'm facing student loan debt and the fact that I have very little saved for retirement.

I did get a surprise ARC in the mail - "The Winter Rose" by Jennifer Donnelly. I think that'll be first on my list to read.

I am considering doing the super NaNoWriMo: Blog 365. It seems like a big commitment, but possible.

December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I'm getting over a cold, so that has slowed down my Christmas preparations somewhat. However, I am done shopping and wrapping and decorating; all that remains is the baking, which I should finish today. I hope you all are enjoying family and friends however you like to celebrate!

The Memory of Running - Ron McLarty

My hairdresser gave me this book because she enjoyed it, and I'm very glad she did. This is an unusual story about a man who loses his parents in a car accident, then goes on a journey by bicycle across the country to find his sister, who disappeared years ago. Naturally, this is a story of his self-discovery along the way, and about shedding the past to step into the future. It's told mostly through flashbacks, as we learn about his family and what led up to this point. This was fairly easy read, and the prose seemed very natural. Ron McLarty is an actor, but he is also a gifted writer.

December 9, 2007

World Without End - Ken Follett

This is the sequel to "Pillars of the Earth" that we didn't know we were waiting for. At 1000+ pages, it seemed quite long, and did drag a bit in places, but overall it was enjoyable. His characters were interesting, but as usual the good guys were very good, and the bad guys were very bad - no shades of grey, no doubt about motives, no chance at redemption. One reason I did pick it up was that it covers the time of the Black Death in England, although we don't get to that until very far into the book, and I don't think he conveyed the scope of it very well. Still, it was an entertaining read. He clearly did a lot of research to prepare for it; I learned how they dyed wool at the time, for example. There are some things that seemed to strain my credulity a bit - contrived situations just because he wanted to use the research he had done, for example - and more complicated characters would have been more realistic. Still, it was a pretty fast and entertaining read.

November 30, 2007

NaBloPoMo: Finished!

And not a day too soon! I was running out of material, in case you couldn't tell. I'm going to take a few days off and get some reading done so I can say something meaningful when I return. Thanks for sticking with me all month!

November 29, 2007

BTT: Rolling

From Booking Through Thursday:

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…

I have been known to do this: I'll pick up one book at the library on a whim, and then proceed to read everything I can get my hands on about the topic. Usually a nonfiction book is what triggers it, then I'll read other nonfiction, fiction, whatever. I've done this with books about Japan, China, the Plague, the 1918 flu, turn-of-the-century New York, King Arthur...and probably a lot more I can't think of right now. Eventually I run out of things to read on the topic, or otherwise get tired of it, and then move on to the next thing.

November 28, 2007

L is for Library

This probably isn't a surprise, given my love of books, but I love libraries. My dad was a librarian, so I can remember going to work with him during the summer, and he would let me help shelve, or cover new books, or just sit and read. Bliss. I was always friends with the librarians growing up, but now I hardly know any of the librarians at the local library. This is because they put in a wonderful new invention: self-checkout machines. No more waiting in line, and I get to use the scanner myself. I love scanners.

November 26, 2007

K is for Kidnapped

Not that I (or anyone else I know) has ever been kidnapped, thank goodness. Rather, this is for the book "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson. I have a clear memory of this book on my grandmother's bookshelf. We had pretty much free rein over her books - she never told us a book was "too old" or off limits. But I still never picked this one up, because I found the title to be too scary. I grew up in a small town, where no one was kidnapping small children, yet it was a fear of mine. This fear wasn't helped by a comic book distributed by the local police department which told the story of two children who "took candy from a stranger" and ended up being kidnapped. That comic gave me nightmares for weeks, so there was no way I was picking up this book. I did get to read a lot of lovely old books, though: Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier comes immediately to mind. I read almost every other books she had, but not that one.

November 25, 2007


I can't think of anything clever for K yet, and I haven't finished a new book to review yet, but it is NaBloPoMo so I have to post something! So, here are my plans for today:

  • Laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Watch "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" on tape (seriously, it was on at 10 p.m. last night here - way too late)
  • Read more of "World Without End" by Ken Follett - this is the sequel (of sorts) to "Pillars of the Earth." I'm enjoying it, but it's over 1000 pages. It's going to take forever to read. I have a copy from the library, but fortunately my mom bought a copy yesterday, so I don't have to rush too much.
  • Watch "The Amazing Race"
  • Make my Christmas Card list
  • Play SimCity on my DS-Lite
What are your plans for the day?

November 24, 2007

"Next" and "The Invisible"

These are the most recent movies I got from Netflix, and they've been sitting on my shelf for a couple of weeks so I finally decided to watch them just so I could get two more movies to sit on my shelf. Although if the writer's strike lasts much longer, I think it will be all DVDs for all of us for a while.

Anyway, of the two, "Next" was the better movie. It stars Nicholas Cage, and is based on a Philip K. Dick short story, both of which were what made me put the movie in the queue. It starts a little slow, but the twist at the end makes it all worthwhile. Don't worry, I won't spoil it. The premise is that the main character, (Cage) can see two minutes into his own future. And of course, there are people who want to use that talent for their own purposes. I thought it was pretty well done, although slow at first, and I did like the "sliding" effect they used for showing it was only a possible future.

"The Invisible" was touted as being like "The Sixth Sense" - and it is, except for the fact that it isn't at all. The main character is a teenager who becomes invisible to everyone except for one troubled girl. This one also bogs down in the middle, and doesn't really recover. There were a lot of things that didn't really make sense, and there were no surprises at all.

November 23, 2007

J is for J.D.

Four years ago when I decided to take the LSAT, the day that I would finally get the JD seemed ages away. I had been out of school for awhile, working in various jobs. What finally made me get off my butt and get back to school? I was laid off from a retail job I was working at night to pay off bills. I was tired of working two jobs just to make ends meet. My sister had recently graduated from law school, so I knew I could do it too. It was a lot of hard work, and a lot of time living on a student budget, but I managed to graduate, pass the bar, and get a job.

And today was another rite of passage: I made my first student loan payment.

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Time to watch the parade and eat way too much yummy food! Enjoy!

November 21, 2007

Bitter is the New Black - Jen Lancaster

I read this over several lunch hours, and I think that was the best time to read it. It's adapted largely from her blog about her experience losing her dot-com job in 2001 and her subsequent job search and eventual career as a writer. Apparently she has written another book, but I don't think I'll be rushing out to pick it up. She admits to being self-centered, and at times this is really irritating in her writing. But at other times she is very perceptive of other people. Her experiences with the job hunt rang very true: people stringing her along, not responding to phone calls, and not telling her they had already hired someone else. Near the end of the book she includes some comments (and her responses) from her blog, and some of those are quite amusing.

November 20, 2007

I is for Internet

This is a glaringly obvious topic, but true for me nevertheless. I have been using the internet since before it was the internet: around 1994, when I finally had a computer with a 2800 baud modem, and all you could access were bbs's and library websites with ftp and telnet. It was all text, and I loved it. Later I signed up for Compuserve, and it was all downhill from there. Now I can't imagine what I would do without it: how would I find directions to anywhere? Look up obscure facts? Find people with the same interests all over the world?

November 19, 2007

H is for Holidays

I love holidays - not the commercialism of them, but the idea of taking a day to commemorate something - anything. I like Thanksgiving because it's just food and family: no gifts, no decorating (or at least minimal). Of course, Thanksgiving will never be like it was when I was a child, when it was my grandmother cooking, and everyone came to our house. We always had family of course, and then whatever "strays" the family picked up along the way. My favorite guest was always "Grandma Ruby," who wasn't related to us at all, but always came over for Thanksgiving. She had great stories, and she had a fur wrap which she would let my sister and me "pet" all day.

November 18, 2007

Dancing Barefoot - Wil Wheaton

I finished this over one lunch break - it is a slim little book, but with great stories in it. The best one is a longer one about Star Trek Conventions. As someone who has attended more than one convention in the past, it was interesting to see it from one of the guest's point of view. (I even once saw WIL WHEATON browsing in the dealer room at a con, just like a regular person!) I especially appreciated the effort he put into making the autograph experience personal for each person. I seldom stood in line to get autographs, and stopped completely once Creation started charging separately for the privilege. It made me so nostalgic that I think I'll have to plan a trip to a convention sometime soon, as they don't ever come to my state anymore.

November 17, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 17

NaBloPoMo is over half over - and some days it's really hard to think of something to post. I was hoping to get some reading done this weekend, but that will have to wait until at least tomorrow. This morning I had a haircut, then my nephew's birthday part at the park (20 5-year-olds), and later this afternoon I get to judge a mock trial down at the university. A fun day, but very full. At least this coming week is a short one at work: I'm taking Friday as a vacation day.

November 16, 2007

Friday's Feast #169

Friday's Feast:

What was your first “real” job?
During college I worked as a receptionist at the front desk of my dorm. After college, my first job was for a company that made electronic dog training products - "shock collars." I started in the order entry department taking catalog orders, then moved on to be the person who printed the shipping documents.

Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?
If I could go anywhere? I think to a cabin in the woods somewhere, where I could just have time to think and get away.

Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…
everyone else seems to know what is going on and I have no clue.

Main Course
What values did your parents instill in you?
Hard work, taking care of family, the importance of education

Name 3 fads from your teenage years.
Oh dear, my teenage years were the 80's so this is embarrassing. How about legwarmers, fingerless lace gloves, and Duran Duran?

November 15, 2007

BTT: Preservatives

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

I am definitely a Preservationist. The only exception to this is my law school books: they are full of highlighting and margin notes which were invaluable in surviving class discussions. I never wrote in my college textbooks, and would never write or underline in any other book either. I'm one of those who reads paperbacks without creasing the spine at all. I hate to loan books out because I know they will come back with spine creases!

November 14, 2007

The Happiest Days of our Lives - Wil Wheaton

Yes, this is written by the Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I have been reading his online blog for awhile now, and decided to pick up one of his books. This is his latest collection of stories, which are expanded from his blog entries. He has an easy style, and I relate to a lot of his stories, as we both grew up in the 70's. His nostalgia about the toys of the time reminded me of many things I had forgotten: one being the trip to Kmart to decide on a toy to buy. This was a very fast read, but highly enjoyable. I just got his prior book "Just a Geek" in the mail yesterday, and "Dancing Barefoot" is on its way to me as well.

November 13, 2007

G is for Games

I love games. Board games, card games, computer games - I love them all. When I was a kid we used to spend hours playing games, especially in the summer: Risk, Life, Monopoly, Scrabble, Mille Borne, and any card games we could think of. We bought one of the first home computers - the Tandy 80 from Radio Shack, and that started the computer game fun: we had Pacman and a Viking game, and one of the kids my mom babysat had the best Star Wars game: you were the x-wing flying through the passages on the Death Star - I played that for hours. Then we got the first Nintendo and it was Duck Hunt and Tetris and Mario Bros. and RBI baseball. I bought a Nintendo Gameboy just to play Tetris on it. I still play lots of computer games, and am having so much fun introducing my nephew to board games: he loves Monopoly and Life, even though he's really too young to play them yet. He likes rolling the dice and moving around the board, and collecting and handing out money. I foresee many hours of fun in our future. I can also guess that I'll be buying an X-box or something "for my nephew." Or a Wii - definitely a Wii.

November 12, 2007


This NaBloPoMo thing is hard! I saw this meme on another blog, and am shamelessly stealing it:

Four First Names of Crushes I Had
1. Tom (my best friend's brother)
2. Mike (he was in 8th grade when I was in 7th)
3. Bruce
4. Robert

Four Pieces of Clothing I Wish I Still Owned
1. grey suede cuffed boots
2. Blue and green plaid skirt
3. a long-sleeved blue shaker-knit sweater
4. this crazy blouse with a parrot on it

Four Professions I Secretly Want to Try
1. Bookstore owner
2. Spy
3. Writer
4. Nurse

Four Musicians I’d Most Want to Go On a Date With
1. Sting
2. Simon LeBon
3. John Taylor
4. Rob Thomas
(I know they are all married)

Four Foods I’d Rather Throw Than Eat
1. Liver
2. Peas
3. Dark meat chicken or turkey
4. Green peppers

Four Things I Like to Sniff
1. New books
2. Old books
3. Vanilla
4. a new car!

I won't tag anyone, but anyone who wants to can do it!

November 11, 2007

F is for Family

I know this is terribly cliche, but my family is very important to me. Like most people, I think it is a love/hate relationship. I like having family close, but I also need some space to be myself. What brought this to mind is that my brother just got a job in a state very far from here, and has to move by December 3. My mother is crushed. I'm surprised he didn't move sooner. He has been trying to distance himself (that's the nice way to put it: cut us out of the picture is the less nice way to say it) for awhile now, so I figured moving away would be the next step. I'm sad that he and his wife and my nephew are moving, but I understand why he thinks he needs to do it. Maybe he's right - who knows?

November 10, 2007

Used Books

I went to a craft fair at church this morning, and they had a separate room with used books. I didn't buy any of the books, because they were not discriminating at all in what they were offering. There were some books in really bad shape, and the rest were John Grisham. I don't have a problem with used books: I love the local used book store, and am a huge fan of I am picky about the condition of the books, though: I hate cracked spines, and especially hate water damage. So I contented myself with the craft items, and some homemade jams.

November 9, 2007

Friday Fill In 45

1. Plans and schedules are important to make sure things get done, but flexibility is key as well: planning helps me prepare for the unexpected.

2. I’m happy when things just fall into place.

3. The last thing I drank was coffee!

4. One of the most valuable things in my life is my family.

5. I like ham and/or bacon and pineapple on my pizza.

6. Dear November, please cool off before Thanksgiving so I can wear my sweaters! Seriously, 90 degrees is too hot for November!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to TV and a book, tomorrow my plans include shopping at the arts & crafts bazaar and Sunday, I want tocatch up on laundry and reading.

November 8, 2007

BTT: Volume

From Booking Through Thursday:

Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less?

I think I read about the same amount as when I was younger. I read less during law school, but have picked up the pace again since then. I have always been a fast reader, which helps me to get through a lot of books in a short time.

November 7, 2007

E is for Email

My name is janiejane, and I am an email addict.
  • I don't even know how often I check my email, because generally if the computer is on, the email is open so that I will know the second an email arrives.
  • I have had the same yahoo! account since 1996 or 1997.
  • I currently have several other accounts that all forward to the yahoo account so that I can check them all at once.
  • I felt a twinge of withdrawal when my school account was recently shut down. Fortunately they gave us an alumni address.
  • One of the things I am looking forward to is getting my official state bar email address, so I will have a "professional" address.

November 6, 2007


After a day of watching jury selection, all I can say is: some people will say anything to get out of jury duty.

November 5, 2007

D is for Doodling

I confess: I am a doodler. Give me a piece of paper and a writing utensil, and the margins will be filled with curlicues, boxes, faces, diamonds, etc. etc. I am not an artist by any means, so they are generally geometric patterns with an occaisional amateurish sketch of a cat or something.

November 4, 2007

C is for Car in new car. I finally traded in my old 1995 Escort (which I bought new) and bought myself a shiny new 2008 Mazda 3 i sport, in "sunlight silver." I am sad to see my trusty old car go, and to have car payments again, but my oh my is the Mazda fun to drive!

November 3, 2007

B is for Bookshelves

It should be apparent from this blog that I love books, and books require bookshelves. I have three overflowing bookshelves, each with a personal history. I break the librarian rule of not double shelving (one is even triple shelved on one shelf with paperbacks) due to space limitations. One day I hope to have a whole room devoted to bookshelves (with a comfy chair for reading, of course). The smallest bookshelf is only three shelves high, and about three feet wide. It was my grandmother's, and I remember poking through it at her house in the summer to find something to read. The next one is larger, but still only three shelves high. I received that one from my parents for Christmas after college, to replace my board and cinder block shelves. The last one I inherited from my brother - it is four shelves high, and holds a lot of books. He was going to get rid of it when he moved in with his girlfriend (now wife), but I rescued it. I could easily fill at least one more bookshelf, but space does not allow.

November 2, 2007

A is for Apple Pie

A is for Apple Pie - my favorite homemade dessert. My mom makes it with homemade pastry, and not-too-tart apples. Her secret ingredient is one pear mixed in to vary the texture and add a bit of sweetness. Then we cover it with hot custard sauce in the English tradition, and the result is pure heaven. My grandmother made the pie this same way, and I have warm childhood memories of this dessert on special and ordinary occasions.

November 1, 2007

BTT: Oh, Horror!

From Booking Through Thursday:

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

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

I don't read horror generally, but I do read Stephen King, and I have read some Dean Koontz when the mood strikes. Pet Sematary was one of the first King books I read, and it scared me pretty badly - I was probably too young to be reading it. I eventually read all of his books and have enjoyed them: he has a way with characters and dialogue I find pretty natural. The Koontz I picked up out of desperation one time at the library - I needed paperbacks rather than hardbacks, and the pickings were slim. I enjoyed them, but his tend to be more repetitive, and sometimes I can't tell whether I have already read the book before!

As for NaNoWriMo, I considered it again this year, but I think instead I'll go with NaBloPoMo as a more manageable challenge. I might do an A to Z about me as a way to fill at least 26 posts.

October 30, 2007

Abandoned books

This was a Booking Through Thursday question a few weeks back, but I have to report that I have abandoned two books in the past few weeks: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham (which was to be on the Book to Movie challenge), and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I was especially disappointed after enjoying "Good Omens" so much, but apparently it was the combination of Pratchett and Gaiman that I enjoyed. I haven't tried a Pratchett book yet, but I won't get my hopes up.

Learning to Bow - Bruce Feiler

I happened across this one at Paperback Swap, and had it on my wish list forever before I finally managed to get a copy. The subtitle is "Inside the Heart of Japan" and it tells the story of an American who travels to Japan in the early 90's to teach English. He is very good at describing the different culture without seeming too judgmental. He doesn't always succeed, but you can tell he is trying. The students embrace him and are happy to teach him about Japan, although they are more reluctant to learn "American" traditions. This was a fast and enjoyable read, and made me more eager to visit Japan one day.

101 Family Vacation Games - Shando Varda

This was another ARC I received via LibraryThing. It has some great car games, and some interesting outdoor games. Some of them seem a little complicated, and some of the baby games seem a little obvious - it actually describes how to play "Peek-a-boo." Nevertheless, this would be invaluable for a babysitter, especially a relatively inexperienced one, and very useful for a long car trip.

The Guardians - Ana Castillo

I apologize for the absence - work and life have been keeping me busy. But, I have been reading, so here are a few reviews!

I got this one as an Advance Reader's Edition, and I'm so glad I did! This is a charming little book. The characters are so real and human, and each has their own voice. We hear from each character in separate chapters, and they are recognizable from their "voices." Regina is my favorite character - she's flawed and wonderful, and she speaks in a delightful mix of English and Spanish - I could hear her speaking in my head. The book is very topical, as it deals with troubles at the Mexican/US border, but aside from that it is about people dealing with every day life.

October 21, 2007

A quiz!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

October 19, 2007

Friday Fill In

I found a new meme - Friday Fill In! (Thanks to Musings of a Bookish Kitty):

1. October . . . is the month when it finally cools off enough to believe fall is coming!

2. Trick-or-treaters . . .don't scare me!

3. Haunted houses . . . have always captured my imagination

4. My favorite scary movie is . . .28 Days Later . . . because . . . the speedy zombies scare me every time.

5. Waking up when it's cold and dark outside is always hard for . . . me.

6. It was a dark and stormy night . . .and I was sitting up in bed watching the lightning flash.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to . . . relaxing in front of the TV . . ., tomorrow my plans include . . . a celebratory dinner with family . . . and Sunday, I want to . . . catch up on chores I've been neglecting, and watch 28 Weeks Later !

October 7, 2007

Plague Year - Jeff Carlson

This was another of my alternates for the Unread Authors challenge - I have a bad habit of reading the alternates first - ha ha.

I enjoyed this - it reminds me a lot of Michael Chrichton, both because of the nanobot plotline, and in the general style. This had a lot less science, though. The characters were interesting, if a little flat in some parts. I would have liked a better picture of how devastated the world was, and what the survivors still faced. It was a quick read, though - perfect for the end of summer.

I finally started reading "The Guardians", so that will be next.

October 6, 2007

Bar exam

I found out yesterday that I passed the bar exam - yay! I really did not want to have to go through that experience again. My character and fitness report is still being processed, so I can't be sworn in yet, but at least I am one step closer!

September 29, 2007

Heroes - TV

The primary focus of this blog is books, but I watch a LOT of TV as well, so you all get to hear my opinions on that as well from time to time.

I just finished watching "Heroes" on DVD, and all I can say is - wow. I did not watch it last season at first because I was sure it would be cancelled quickly, and I didn't want to get attached. Later, after it was clearly a hit, I had waited too long. So I spent a whole season avoiding spoilers and waited for the DVDs. (I love Netflix.)

The season maintains its internal consistency very well over the whole season, and the characters also remained true to themselves as they explore their abilities for good or evil. I loved the flash-forwards (and flashbacks) - time travel done well is always appreciated! I did keep wishing Peter would cut the bangs, though - the emo "sweeping them from my eyes" was very irritating. If you haven't been watching, give the DVDs a try!

September 22, 2007

We - Yevgeny Zamyatin

I read about this classic on another blog, and picked it up at the bookstore the other day. I bought the mass market paperback version, and what an unattractive book it is - the typeface is blotchy and the paper was rough and very cheap feeling. I hated picking it up every time. All the same, I'm glad I didn't pay more for a different version, because I wasn't very fond of the contents, either. I felt like I was being forced to read it for school, and couldn't seem to enjoy it at all. It evoked 1984, which was written after it of course, but I couldn't relate to the people, and I often had trouble following the story. I think the fault is all mine, though, because I didn't give it the attention it probably deserved. Anyway, it qualifies for the Unread Author's challenge, so at least I get credit for that!

September 15, 2007

BTT: Comfort Food

From Booking Through Thursday:

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

Well, it really depends on the catastrophe. If something really bad has happened: death in the family, etc., I find that I can't read anything longer than a magazine article; I just don't have the focus or concentration for it. For lesser catastrophes: a bad cold, bad weather, disappointment, etc., I turn to old favorites of the "Well, at least it isn't as bad as all that!" variety: disaster novels. I often re-read "The Stand" by Stephen King when I have a cold, because it makes my own illness seem slight. I also like "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, and "WarDay" by Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka, because there's nothing like the end of civilization as we know it to put things in perspective. I also like "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer for when things get tough: at least I'm not trying to climb Mt. Everest.

Portrait of an Unknown Woman - Vanora Bennett

This doesn't qualify for the Unread Authors challenge, as it is her first book. And what a first novel it is! It is rich in historical detail, with characters that seem to come alive. I found her style to be very natural, although the frequent changes in point of view were distracting at first. It's always risky to use actual historical figures in a book, but Ms. Bennett makes Thomas More and Hans Holbein come to life, and weaves in a delightful conspiracy theory about the two princes as well. I do hope she writes more, and not necessarily historical fiction. She has a gift for natural dialogue and realistic characters that would be wonderful in any type of fiction.

September 12, 2007

An interesting list

I ran across this list at Can I Borrow Your Book?, and I thought it worth doing.

*Bold the ones you’ve read* Italicize the ones you want to read* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18 The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44.The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58.The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)

61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)

70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)7
4. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96.The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

I don't know who created this list, but I seem to have read an astonishing number of them. There are a few that I wish I hadn't read (DaVinci Code being one of them), but some of my favorite books of all time are on here: The Handmaid's Tale, The Stand, The Secret Garden.

September 6, 2007

BTT: Goldilocks

It's Booking Through Thursday time again!

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

I am definitely not a Goldilocks reader - I can read anywhere, anytime, for as long as I'm able to! I read during commercial breaks on the television (and sometimes during the shows themselves), at breakfast, during lunch (not at dinner, unless I'm eating alone), anywhere I have to wait (dentist, doctor, car repair, DMV). I used to read in the five minutes before class started (whatever novel I was in the middle of), and on the bus ride to school. If I am a passenger on a car trip, I read then. Of course, I'm happy to spend an entire afternoon curled up with a book, but I'll take five minutes here and there, too!

September 3, 2007

Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

As predicted, I finished this last night. I loved this book! It's funny, clever, witty and entertaining. It reminds me of both Douglas Adams and Piers Anthony in its tone. The authors' notes at the end describe how people bring beat-up, well-loved copies to books signings, or new copies because friends keep "stealing" their old copies. I can understand this: I will definitely keep this on my "keeper" shelf, but I also want to recommend it to all of my friends who like this sort of book.

September 1, 2007

Starting the Unread Authors Challenge

I'm so glad it's September, so I can get started on the Unread Authors Challenge at last! This pile of books has been calling my name for a while, and I am already 100 or so pages into "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I am loving it so far, and will probably finish it this weekend.

At the mall today I picked up "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin and "The Plague Year" by Jeff Carlson, so I will be adding them to the unread authors challenge as well. They both are short, so it shouldn't be a problem. I've been reading during my lunch hour at work, so I can get a good bit of reading done every day. I have also started on books on tape for the drive to and from work (half an hour each way), and my first selection for that is an old favorite: "Over Sea, Under Stone" by Susan Cooper. I have the next two in the series on tape (all from the library) as well, and the final 2 are on their way to the hold shelf at my library for me. I loved this series as a child and I find they hold up remarkably well.

I skipped "Booking Through Thursday" this week, but will return to it next week. I'm considering starting the "Encyclopedia of Me" meme I saw at another blog. Basically you do one post for each letter of the alphabet. I do want to post more frequently, and it seems like a fun way to do it, as well as a way to show my personality more. I would intersperse book reviews along the way, of course.

August 24, 2007

Must. See. This. Movie.

I just read this review in the Entertainment Weekly, and I MUST see this movie. I can't find it playing in my town, so I might have to wait for the DVD though.

August 23, 2007

BTT: Indoctrination

Booking Through Thursday time again - and I'm answering it on a Thursday!

When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.

The family story is that I taught myself to read at age 3, by memorizing Dr. Seuss books. I don't remember this; as far back as I can remember, I could read. As a child, we always had books in the house. My dad did not read very much, but my mom always had a book going, as did my grandmother (who lived with us) and they would trade books back and forth. They both enjoyed mysteries, which have never been my favorites, but I did read some of the same books they read, such as the James Herriot books. My mother never believed in telling me what I could and couldn't read: she figured if it was too difficult for me it would be boring and I would give up on my own. When I was in about 2nd grade, the school librarian wouldn't let me check out "Black Beauty" because she thought it would be too difficult. I told my mom, who went down to the school and told the librarian that I was to be allowed to check out anything I wished. They never hassled me again. And I loved "Black Beauty."

August 19, 2007

How to Be Lost - Amanda Eyre Ward

How does a family cope when a child disappears? This book deals with the aftermath of one daughter disappearing at age 5. Her sister, now an adult, begins a search for her, and what she finds is unexpected and affecting. I enjoyed this book a lot - her style reminds me a lot of Elizabeth Berg's style. Her characters are flawed and realistic, and their interactions seem natural. I'll be adding this author's other books to my "to find" list (as if I needed more on my pile to read).

August 17, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini

I was a little disappointed in this, after being impressed by The Kite Runner back when it came out. I found the characters too one-dimensional, and the plot too contrived to be believable. I would have liked more of the Afghanistan history, as it would have given more depth to the setting.

BTT: Monogamy

Booking Through Thursday time again!

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?

(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

Definitely more than one at a time. I generally have a couple of fiction books going at once, although often in different genres (general fiction vs. science fiction, for example), as well as one or two nonfiction ones. I like to be able to pick up whatever I'm in the mood for at the time. As long as I don't wait too long before picking up a book I left in the middle I don't have trouble picking up where I left off. And sometimes, sadly, I just abandon a book halfway.

August 15, 2007

Book to Movie Challenge

This challenge should be fun! The Book to Movie challenge runs from September 1 - December 1,and my preliminary list is:

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby
The Painted Veil - W. Somerset Maugham
Out of Sight - Elmore Leonard

My alternate is The Hours by Michael Cunningham.

August 12, 2007

Unread Authors Challenge

Yay! A new challenge! The Unread Authors Challenge runs from September - February, so that should be plenty of time for me to read 6 books for it. My preliminary list is:

Angel's Town - Ralph Cintron
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
Wicked - Gregory Maguire
Switchcraft - Mary Castillo
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (this on is a two-fer; I haven't read either author)
The Guardians - Ana Castillo
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby (also for the Book to Movie Challenge)

August 10, 2007

BTT: Multiples

From Booking Through Thursday:

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?
If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read?
If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish?

I do have multiple copies of several books, for various reasons. I have two copies of Stephen King's "The Stand," because I couldn't find my original copy and bought a replacement, then naturally found the original. Both are paperback.

There are a few books I have both the paperback (for easy portability) and the hardcover (for my permanent collection): WarDay by Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka. (The only type of book I like more than dystopian ones are post-nuclear ones). I have the hardcovers of all of the Harry Potters, and the paperback of the first three (I'll probably get the complete paperback set to give to my nephew.)

I also have several editions of "The Dark is Rising" series, because I can't seem to leave a copy if I find one in the used bookstore.

Finally, I have several copies of "Bellwether" by Connie Willis, because I love to give copies to my friends who haven't read it yet. I just love that book.

Sorry for the sparse posting: I started a new job this week, and I've just been exhausted when I got home. That should improve over the next few weeks. There are a bunch of challenges I want to start in September, so watch this space!

August 3, 2007

BTT: Letters! We get Letters!

From Booking Through Tuesday:

Have you ever written an author a fan letter?

Did you get an answer?

Did it spark a conversation? A meeting?

I have not written a fan letter to an author, although I have considered it. I read several author's blogs, but am too shy to even comment on those. Who am I to speak to them? As a child, I did send a fan letter to Bob Hope, and I have an autographed photo from him he sent in response. Why did I write to him? I have no idea. I also wrote to Melissa Gilbert, and she sent a letter and photo as well. As I recall, I was in 5th grade or so, and Little House on the Prairie was still on the air. So apparently TV played a bigger role in my life.

The Worst Hard Time - Timothy Egan

This is subtitled: The Untold Story of Those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.

This is the fascinating account of the Dust Bowl of the Thirties, told in the words of those who actually lived through it. The author obviously did extensive research and must have spent hours interviewing these people. Their stories are unforgettable and illuminated this era of history for me. It provided another angle on the New Deal legislation that I found helpful.

One quibble I have with the book is that it occasionally goes backward in time: One chapter will finish out 1935, then the next chapter will go back to 1934. I found this a bit confusing at times, and frustrating as well, because I wanted to know what happened next! Overall I found it quite engaging and enjoyable.

The Pesthouse - Jim Crace

I read about The Pesthouse at a hidden side of a leaf, and added it to my post-bar TBR list. I am a fan of dystopian fiction, and I was not disappointed by this one. I haven't read anything by Crace before, but I will add his other books to my pile to be read very soon.

This reminded me a lot of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, but I enjoyed this book much more. It was more hopeful and uplifting (while still being depressing enough to qualify as dystopian). The world was more recognizable as having once been our own, although we don't know what brought the pesthouse world to its present state. The characters were interesting, and human and flawed, and I worried about what would happen to them.

This is the story of a journey, and it ends the way many real-life journeys end.

July 28, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

I finished this in two days - If I could have stayed awake a little longer the first day I would have finished it then. I don't want to include any spoilers, so that will make the review necessarily vague. I loved this book, and thought it finished up the series very well. A lot of loose ends from prior books that I didn't realize were loose ends were tied up nicely. One of the strengths of the Harry Potter books is its internal consistency; a remarkable feat in such a long series. And I can still get lost in the stories of these fascinating people. I will miss all of them, even though I know I can revisit their world anytime I wish. And Ms. Rowling has said she will be writing an encyclopedia. What I really wish she'd write is "Hogwarts: A History." I can dream, right?

Children of God - Mary Doria Russell

This is the sequel to "The Sparrow," and it pales only in comparison to the original, but still is a standout among the books I've read lately. This one is considerably more uplifting and hopeful than the first, and I was glad to encounter Father Emilio as he continues to heal from his experiences even as he returns to Rakhat. The pacing of this book was much different, because it was more linear and there was not as much foreshadowing. I enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to another of her books, "A Thread of Grace" which is also on my towering TBR pile.

Joy School - Elizabeth Berg

This is the first sequel to "Durable Goods" by Berg, and I enjoyed it almost as much as the first. It was nice to follow brave little Katie into her new home, where she makes some new friends. The people around her continue to be realistic, imperfect people, and she continues to rise above and remain her own person. I have the third book, "True to Form" in my to-be-read pile, and I am looking forward to spending more time with these people, which is a sign of a good series.

July 27, 2007

I'm back!

Studying for the bar exam was much more time consuming than I expected, but it's over now! Even when I had time to read, I had trouble focusing, so I mostly read magazines (or blogs) and not much fiction. But I am back, and hope to be able to focus on this blog much more than I have. Thanks for sticking with me!

Summer Reading Challenge Finished

I had to take some time off from reading to focus on the bar exam, but I still did okay with the challenge:

The Plague Tales - Ann Benson (read half and gave up)
The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd (finished and reviewed)
Children of God - Mary Doria Russell (finished, but not reviewed yet)
What We Keep - Elizabeth Berg (finished and reviewed)
Durable Goods - Elizabeth Berg (finished and reviewed)
The Book of Ruth - Jane Hamilton (read half and gave up)
Harry Potter 7 - J.K. Rowling (finished, but not reviewed yet)
The Hours - Michael Cunningham removed from list due to time constraints

Not bad. I'm ready for another challenge!

July 12, 2007

Celluloid (Booking Through Thursday)

From Booking Through Thursday:

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?

1. I can think of a few "best" - I thought "The Handmaid's Tale" was pretty good, even if there were significant changes to the story. It got the look and feel of the book right, and I love Aidan Quinn, so there you go. "Minority Report" was good, although I didn't read the novella until after I saw the movie. Of course, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, despite the fact that I never made it through even the first book. "Legally Blonde" was a much better movie than book. And the best adaptation ever: The BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice" - the Colin Firth version.

2. The worst? From what I've read spoiled on the internet, the upcoming "Dark is Rising" movie will be dreadful. Too many changes, and one of them is they changed the family from English to Americans! Dreadful. I love those books, and I don't think I can bear to see them destroyed like that.

3. Generally, I prefer whichever version I saw first. I try not to be too judgmental if I read the book first - I'm not usually a purist, with the above exception.

July 5, 2007

Great Novel

From Booking Through Thursday:
What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder?

It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.

This is a hard distinction to make, but for today I would give it to "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. (Incidentally, the film adapation was decent, even if they did change the ending!) It is a personal story that illustrates the larger world where she lives, and it is a warning of what religious zealotry can lead to if we are not watchful. Of course, I am partial to futuristic dystopian novels.

So little time

Still Reading "Children of God", and I have acquired both "Joy School" and "True to Form" by Elizabeth Berg - the sequels to "Durable Goods." The bar is July 24, so after that I will be back to my usual posting! I hope you will be patient. I'll try to do the usual Booking Through Thursday later tonight!

June 28, 2007

Desperation - BTT

From Booking through Thursday:

What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?

If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?

I was once stuck in the car repair shop waiting room without a book, and was forced to read Sports Illustrated, and some car repair shop management magazines. Maybe a "Money" or "Fortune" magazine, but that would not be as desperate. I learned a lot about the benefits of different kinds of tires, batteries, etc. from the magazines and the brochures around. I think I read the certificates on the wall, too. Needless to say, I keep a book in my car at all times now, because I don't want to be that desperate again!

June 27, 2007

so little time!

I am currently trying to read "Children of God" by Mary Doria Russell, but real life is interfering. I am studying for the bar exam, so posting will be very light for awhile. Bear with me; once the bar is done I'll have lots of time to read!

June 21, 2007

School Days, Golden Rule Days

Booking Through Thursday time again:

Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:

1. Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?
2. How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

1. Yes, I have a lot of old school books! Most of them are law books (I just graduated in May and haven't decided which ones to keep forever and which ones to pass on). I also have all of my books from a Shakespeare class I took in undergrad, as well as most of the books we had to read for a seminar on surrealism, also from undergrad. I also still have my statistics book from undergrad, because you never know when you'll need it! Oh, and my Latin book from high school.

2. After graduation, the first thing I did was throw out all of my old notes and papers from law school. The ones from undergrad are long gone as well. I kept them for awhile, but eventually realized that it was silly to keep them. I think I still have some old papers going back to elementary school in a portfolio somewhere, but otherwise, not much. I do still have my law school notes on my laptop, but eventually those will get purged as well.

June 16, 2007

2 by Elizabeth Berg

I finished 2 by Elizabeth Berg this week, as part of my Summer Reading Challenge: Durable Goods, and What We Keep. I loved both of these, for many of the same reasons. Berg is so good at capturing the inner voice and thoughts of people, especially young women. She captures the relationship between siblings, and between children and parents. She also captures that moment when you realize your parent(s) are not perfect: that they are human, with their own wants and needs separate from their children. I discovered that Durable Goods has two sequels, so I just ordered the next one. I hope it is as good as the first, but I am delighted that we get to find out more about what happened to these characters.

June 14, 2007

BTT: Dessert First

Booking Through Thursday

1. Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?
2. And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?

1. Yes, I do this very often. In fact, it is one of the reasons I very seldom read mysteries, because I can't restrain myself from peeking at the end. (Audiobooks are a great solution for this for me.) Sometimes I'm just curious, sometimes I just want to make sure the ending is worth reading the rest of the book for, sometimes it's just habit! I don't feel it ruins the books for me - I do still read the rest of the book most of the time. I like seeing the end point, and wondering how we will get there! There are some books I manage to have some self control: Harry Potter, and some books if the author is really good at doling out bits of suspense, I'll let them carry me along at their own pace, and not skip ahead. (I'm thinking of "The Sparrow" here.)
2. Doesn't apply!

June 11, 2007

The Plague Tales - Ann Benson

I have to admit that I only read about half of this before giving up. (In keeping with my prior post on the topic here.) By all rights I should have loved this book. It has two of my favorite plotlines: The Middle Ages and a terrible epidemic. Unfortunately, the history part did not ring true to me, and the contemporary "epidemic" wasn't much to speak of, and was not developed enough for me. I actually think this would make a great movie (more visual, less stilted dialogue). And I tried to slog all the way through, but I just couldn't do it.

June 9, 2007

Somebody Else's Children - John Hubner & Jill Wolfson

This is not on my summer reading list, but it caught my eye, and then held my interest. The authors are journalists who spent a year following the juvenile court of one judge in California. They were allowed access to records and to the families and children, and compiled a compelling story of several of the children seen in the court. The stories are heart-wrenching and illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the system. I thought the account was balanced, yet realistic. The final chapter offers suggestions of what people can do to get involved, such as volunteer in the court system. I'm putting this on my keeper shelf!

The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd

This is my first book for the Summer Reading Challenge, and I did enjoy it. I didn't enjoy it as much as "The Secret Life of Bees" by the same author, but it was still a fast read and kept my interest. I'm sure there is lots of symbolism with the ocean and mermaids, etc., but I am frankly not in the mood for deep analysis. I liked the characters, the premise was interesting, and it held my interest for a few bus rides. That's all I'm asking for my summer reading, and this one sufficed.

June 7, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

It's that time again!

Booking Through Thursday

Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.

If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why? Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Laurie Colwin? Kurt Vonnegut?

I can think of two: Roger Zelazny and David Gerrold.

Zelazny - not necessarily for any more Amber novels, but maybe for more of his great stand-alone novels, like the early works. I'm thinking of "Doorways in the Sand" as an example.

David Gerrold - He hasn't stopped writing, but we've been waiting for the next War Against the Chtorr novel for 15 years! According to his blog he's writing it, and there is a publisher, but come on - 15 years is a long time to wait!

June 2, 2007

Summer Reading Challenge

I'm going to give the Summer Reading challenge a try, even though I am also studying for the bar exam. So here is my modest list:

The Plague Tales - Ann Benson
The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd
Children of God - Mary Doria Russell
What We Keep - Elizabeth Berg
Durable Goods - Elizabeth Berg
The Book of Ruth - Jane Hamilton
Harry Potter 7 - J.K. Rowling
The Hours - Michael Cunningham

I will probably read more than that, but at least it is a goal!

The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell

This book is amazing. The basic plot is that in 2019 we detect radio signals from a nearby system. The Jesuits decide to mount a private expedition. In 2060, one survivor returns. The question is then: what happened? The author manages to interweave two narratives - the past and the present - seamlessly. She builds suspense, dropping tiny hints about what happened, slowly revealing the horror they experienced. Along the way we must deal with heavy philosophical problems: what is God's will? What is our purpose? How do we deal with an entirely alien civilization? What if our actions have unforeseeable consequences?

I found this book to be completely absorbing, and I was very sorry to finish it. Of course, I have learned there is a sequel, which I must get my hands on as soon as possible.

May 30, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

* Do you read e-Books?
* If so, how? On your computer, or a PDA?
* Or are you a paper purist? Why?

I don't read e-Books, although I did participate for a while in the Project Gutenberg proofreading project.
I am intrigued by the Sony bookreader, but only because it looks like the notepads they used on Star Trek. I think for now I'm a paper purist - can't beat it for portability, no batteries, no software. I love the smell and feel of books, and to see them all lined up on my shelf or piled by my bed.

May 28, 2007

When do you give up?

When you are starting a new book, how long do you give it if it doesn't capture your interest right away? I think I give it about 50 pages, if I'm intending it to be a 'fun' book, and it turns out not to be so fun, then I though in the towel. If it is supposed to be "educational" or serious, then I might struggle through more of it to see if it picks up, or because it's "good for me." I used to feel guilty if I didn't finish a book once I started it, especially if I purchased it rather than borrowed it from the library. I no longer feel guilty - there are too many books to waste time on one I don't enjoy. Reading for fun should be fun, not work.

May 27, 2007

The Secrets of Mariko - Elizabeth Bumiller

The author spent a year interviewing a family in Japan and this is her account. I thought the chance to peek into the life of a family in a whole different culture was fascinating. I would be curious to see if her findings of the differences and similarities hold up today, as this book is about 15 years old now. Her style was conversational and easy to read. She was frank about the limitations of her interviewing, but she was able to get her subjects to be open with her. I enjoyed this a lot, and will be looking for more of her work.

Range of Motion - Elizabeth Berg

I zipped through this in about a day. I enjoyed her stream-of-consciousness style. I thought her portrayal of "inner life" was realistic - all of the random thoughts that go through our minds. The main character's husband is in a coma due to a freak accident, and all of the book takes place while he is in the hospital. Having been through the experience of having a family member in the hospital, I could relate to her experiences with the nursing staff, etc. This is the first book of hers I have read, and I plan to read more as soon as I get my hands on them.

May 24, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

From: Booking Through Thursday:

Here’s an idea from Julie:

I had an idea for a BTT question when I was taking a peek at one of my bookcases yesterday and spotted my old copy of the Aeneid in Latin sitting there. Maybe this question has already been done—but if not… Do you have any foreign language books and if so can you (still) read them?

I have a copy of "Nine Princes in Amber" by Roger Zelazny in Russian. I don't read Russian - never have - but a friend of mine who shared my obsession with this series went to Russia for a semester in college and brought this back as a gift. The mysterious characters make the book seem even more magical, and I smile whenever I catch sight of it on the shelf.

May 19, 2007

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I bought this book yesterday, and sped through it. I loved her informal style (very like a blog) as she chronicled her spiritual journey through divorce to peace. I laughed out loud as she recounted eating pizza in Naples, and felt her struggles as she learned to meditate and accept herself as she was. Her descriptions of the people she met made them all seem real. At times she tried too hard to be informal and clever, but overall this was a memorable book, and one I think I will read again.

May 18, 2007

The first post

Hi there! I created this blog to have somewhere to post my opinions on books (and probably television, movies and music, too, before I'm finished). I read almost anything, and I like to share when I find good books (and warn you off of bad ones), so a blog seemed to be a good fit. I also wanted somewhere to keep track of what I've read.

So to start:

What I'm Reading:
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi

I usually have several books going at once.