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.