Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Julie and Julia

Read my thoughts on Julie and Julia at the Books About Food Challenge blog. I've got two more review to post there to complete the challenge.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Review: The Omnivore's Dilemma

Read my thoughts on The Omnivore's Dilemma at the Books About Food challenge blog.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-Thon is April 18, 2009 at 8am (Eastern Time-5am Pacific and 12 noon GMT)!!!

Hannah (WordLily), Ana (Nymeth), and Trish (Hey Lady!) are continuing Dewey's
Read-a-Thon and I'm so excited to say that I'll be participating this year. This will be my first one, as I'm relatively new to the scene, and I'm soooo excited. The Read-a-Thon was one of the deciding factors for me to start this blog. Dewey even touched people she didn't know, what an amazing woman.

Anyway, the details are on their own blog here and there are different ways to participate, so I encourage everyone to sign up in one way or another. I'm going to be a reader.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Once Upon a Time III Challenge

Must. Stop. Joining. Challenges.


I'm joining the Once Upon a Time III challenge because it looks awesome!

I think I'm going to do Quest the Second which goes as follows:

Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category.

Here's a possible list, but knowing me, it will probably change up:

Fantasy: Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague

Folklore: ?

Fairy Tale: Enna Burning

Mythology: The Last Olympian

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009

Well I didn't do so hot on completing my Winter Challenge reading list, even though I did read more books than I had listed. This time I'm going to list books I have finish by the end of this challenge for other challenges and then other books I just hope to read soon.

Here are the guidelines from Callapidder Days:

  • Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this spring. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)
  • Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky below. (Please do not put your name on the Mr. Linky before you have your post done, and please link directly to your Spring Reading Thing post. If you don’t, your entry will be deleted. Read this post for more information.)
  • Get reading! The challenge goes from today, March 20th, through June 20th.
  • Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!
  • Write a post about your challenge experience in June, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how the Spring Reading Thing went for you. Oh, and if you don’t finish your books, or if you change your list half-way through, or if you only read two books…it’s OKAY. This is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this spring (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.
Ok so here is the list of books I have to read to complete upcoming challenges:

3 Food books by March 31st:
  • The Fruit Hunters (currently reading)
  • Julie and Julia (currently reading)
  • Oranges
2 Jewish Lit books by April 27th:
  • The Russian Debutante's Handbook
  • Night
3 Latin American Books by April 30th:
  • Eva Luna
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • (another title, I'm not sure yet)
3 books for the Unshelved Reading Challenge by June 1:
  • The Stupidest Angel
  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • The Wizard of Earthsea
Whew! That doesn't even count all the review books I am SO UNBELIEVABLY behind on. So that's 11 books I'm committed to reading. I think I'd like to set a total goal of 30 books. So we'll see how that goes.

As far as other goals go, I'd like to catch up on my reviews and do a quarterly challenge update post at the end of March.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Review: The Misadventures of Oliver Booth

The Misadventures of Oliver Booth: Life in the Lap of Luxury
by David Desmond

  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
  • Pub. Date: October 2008
  • ISBN-13: 9781929774562
  • 224pp

I have to admit, I finished this book back in mid-January and it is now mid-March and I'm just writing this review. And it's not the only one. Ummmmmm....oops. I've been a bad blogger. BAD blogger.

So, let's see a quick summary: Oliver Booth is an "antiques" dealer a few blocks off the main drag in Palm Beach Florida. If you want to know about his character, think of Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces. Fat, sweaty, and just totally out there. Booth hires Bernard as his shop clerk and both are sent to Paris (because of Bernard's natural taste in antiques) to furnish a high-society lady's new estate. Hilarity ensues. I won't give away the ending.

I gave this book 3 out of 5. It isn't a great piece of literature, but it was highly entertaining. I read it in one evening and basically didn't put it down. For me, it wasn't the title character that made the book. It was Bernard and his subtle movements around Oliver's ridiculousness that held my attention. Also the scenes mocking Palm Beach culture were good as well.

So I definitely recommend this one if you're looking for a quick or light read. It would be great for the next 24-read-a-thon. I've heard rumors on other blogs that there might be more Oliver Booth books, and I'd definitely read them.

The author also has a blog, which is pretty entertaining. Check it out here. I'll call your attention to this particular post on the Palm Beach Code of Conduct to give you an idea of the feel of the book.

Booking Through Thursday

See other answers here.

How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

Everyone seems to be saying Twilight. I've read all but the last, and I will eventually read that. I've enjoyed them, but I'll definitely agree that they do NOT live up to the hype. And Meyer is pretty much a terrible writer.

But my answer has to be The DaVinci Code. I read this because EVERYONE was absolutely raving about it. Seriously? The writing was terrible and the plot was convoluted and the explanations were long and boring. And the climax was a major major disappointment. Not to mention they made it into a movie, the only movie I've ever seen in the theater in which I fell into a deep sleep. Ugh! I swear people only read it because the guy came up with a controversial idea, because overall the book was just awful.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Salon (3/15/2009)

It has once again been a lazy weekend (my favorite kind). I didn't manage to do much reading on Saturday, I just didn't have the mindset. Today was much better.

I went to the library to return some overdue DVDs and came back with several books. Oops. I got:

  • Wake, Lisa McMann
  • Paper Towns, John Green
  • Eva Luna, Isabel Allende
  • The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson
  • Burma Chronicles, Guy Delisle
  • Red Colored Elegy, Seiichi Hayashi
I already finished Wake. I finished it in several hours. I love it when that happens.

I also finished Isabel Allende's House of Spirits, which was an absolutely amazing book. I have a vague plan of writing a more comprehensive review after I finished a couple more books by Latin American authors. I want to do a sort of comparison or overview, I think. I think I'm going to do the same thing with The Woman in White (which I finished a while ago), The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, and The Moonstone. They are interrelated in an interesting way that I want to try and capture.

I'm currently working on:
  • The Moonstone
  • Julie and Julia
  • People of the Book (and I have a copy to give away, so check back later this week)
  • Ghandi
  • Conan Doyle's Wallet
  • The Crimson Petal and the White (audiobook)
I've given up on The Omnivore's Dilemma, although I made it most of the way through and I'm still going to count it as read and towards my food challenge.

Here's to another week of reading!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

See other answers here.

What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?

Or, What book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?

What a great question. I love the interplay between books and movies and even TV.

I'd love to see The Crimson Petal and the White made into a movie, although I think it could also easily fall into the category of badly made movies, especially if they were to cast Keira Knightly as Sugar, which would be TERRIBLE. I'd almost rather see it as a mini-series like Pride and Prejudice, which I loved.

I also think that The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing could make an interesting movie. As far as children's fantasy movies go I'd like to see the Fablehaven series. So many chances to see some awesome magical beasts. I'd also like to see The Hunger Games. I could go on forever.

As far as what should never be made into a movie, I'm not sure. I guess I'm up for a movie maker to give it a try and if it is bad then it's bad, although you always hope it won't be. I love how books are translated to the screen. It is an interesting shift for me, and if it's badly done then it is still usually a good discussion, which I like too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

View from my car on my way into to work early, two Mondays ago. Where are the plows?
See other pictures here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

See other teasers at Should Be Reading.

"The boy began to move away from her the day he first put on long pants. Esteban could recall the exact moment when he had realized that his sister was an ominous shadow in his life."
--pg 54 The House of Spirits, Isabel Allende

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Salon (3/8/2009)

I've had a long week that started with about 4 inches of snow and ended with 60 degree weather. Spring, I've missed you. Don't go away!

In an attempt to stay away from the reading slump I was in during February, I gave up on a couple of books that I felt were bogging me down. I've put Anne Frank's diary on hold and returned Epileptic to the library. I just couldn't get into either of these.

I managed to finish three books this week:

  • One False Note, by Gordan Korman. This is the second book in the 39 Clues series and it was a quick and entertaining read. I think this series is really interesting because each book will be written by a different author and is centered around a famous person. So you learn something too, which is cool. The first book, The Maze of Bones, was centered around Benjamin Franklin and reminded me of a mix of National Treasure and Michael Scott's Nicholas Flamel series. This book was centered on Mozart and the search for the next clue took the Cahill siblings and their au pair to various European cities, including Venice. I wondered how the characters would hold up under a different author, but I can't say I noticed a difference. Maybe if I had read them in close sucession I would have noticed it more. The third book is already out, but I'll probably wait a bit to read it. Maybe I can time it so the next book is always already out. :) I give One False Note, 4 out of 5. Very entertaining and definitely recommended for younger readers.
  • The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale. I decided to read this book after reading about it on An Adventure in Reading. I'm glad I did. Fairytale retellings are probably my most favorite "genre" (is that right?). It's the story of Ani, a Crown Princess, who, because of her awkwardness, is stripped of her title and sent to the nearby kingdom to marry the prince for an alliance. But on the three-month journey, Ani suffers an uprising from her lady-in-waiting and some of her guards. She is forced to survive as the goose-girl in the unknown kingdom until she can prove her heritage. She is eventually assited by the other servants and her powers that she learns to call upon. The beginning is a little slow for me, but once the actual otherthrow occurs, the book picks up and I couldn't put it down. There are two more in the series, and I can't wait to start the next one. I gave this one 5 out 5. Especially recommend for fans of fairytales and retellings.
  • Villette, Charlotte Bronte. I started this back in January, so I'm glad to finally have finished it. It is a slow-moving book full of references to things I don't understand. But putting the Bronte writing style aside, I did enjoy the book and I just wanted to see something good happen to poor Lucy. She just never caught a break. Everyone around her gets what they want, John and Polly, Ginerva and that boy who dressed up as a nun. She finally falls in love and the guy goes to Guadaloupe out of some supposed fealty to the family of a girl he loved years ago that died! UGH! Why are these people so annoying?!?! I'm definitely glad I read this and I liked it more than Jane Eyre. Those poor Bronte girls must have been so depressed because they never write anything happy. I give it 4 out 5, because there's no denying the quality of the book, even if I think the style is somewhat stilted at times.
I'm at various stages of the following books:
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma (I think I'm about to give up on this one.)
  • Fables Vol. 11. (I just need to sit down and finish it)
  • Conan Doyles Wallet
  • Ghandi
  • People of the Book
  • The House of Spirits
  • Julie and Julia
  • The Moonstone
I've got issues, I know. Once I finish a book, I start another one, even though I've got 10 in the works already. I don't recommend it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?

There are so many. I don't even know how to answer this question. I'm basically a black hole in the classics. I haven't read any Dickens, and I've only ever read Pride and Prejudice by Austen. I've completely neglected the Russians and I want to read more books in translation.

On my shelf right now, I'd have to say The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Likeness. I can't wait to get to them!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February Wrap-Up

February is always a downer month for me. I guess because it is so cold and its when school is really kicking back into gear (even though I'm only taking one class). I have a much much harder time keeping the procrastinator in me at bay. Last year, I only managed to read 2 books in February, so in comparison to that, I've done okay this year. I'm majorly behind on reviews, so I'm going to do a little something different to catch up. For non-review copy books, I'm going to allow myself to just write short little commentaries for some books instead of full-blown reviews, especially if they are older books or well-read books. That way I will hopefully begin to catch up and spend more time on my review copies (which I'm dreadfully behind on).

Here are the books I've read:

  • The Woman in White (2/4): 5 out of 5.
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Vol 1.: The Pox Party on Audio CD (2/6): 5 out of 5. I originally read this book last year and was completely taken about by how well-written this book is. The author manages to write in an old-fashioned style, but the book never seems to be bogged down by it. As the story unravels, and you realize the position Octavian is in, and the horror just builds and builds. The audio book was absolutely captivating as well. The reader had a wonderful voice and accent. But, as I listened to this in my car on the way to work and back, the content was sometimes a little too heavy to pay attention and I would find my mind wandering.
  • DeNiro's Game (2/8): 4 out of 5.
  • A Moveable Feast (2/7): 4 out of 5. Hemingway is an amazing writer, there is no denying that. But, I did find this book to be self-serving in a way that seemed somewhat dishonest. I was also slightly shocked by how he completely bitch-slapped F. Scott Fitzgerald at the end of the book. I wasn't aware of a rivalry between them, as my knowledge of American literature history is very slim. But, Hemingway made it clear that he had things he wanted to get off his chest. I also thought the way he admitted shame to his infidelities while simultaneously glossing over them was dishonest as well.
  • Disorder in the Court (2/24): 3 out of 5. I saw this on someone's blog, and I forgot to write it down, so I can't give proper credit. It is a compliation of transcript excerpts from legal proceedings. It was a quick and funny read, although some of the excerpts weren't nearly as funny as others. I wouldn't really say it was hilarious, which is why I gave it a lower rating.
  • Heart of Darkness (2/27): 2 out of 5. This at least the second time I've read this book, and I still just can't get into it. I don't particularly like Conrad's writing style, it is too thick or something. It bores me and puts me to sleep. I do think the book's themes make for interesting discussion, but overall, I just can't love this book.

Wordless Wednesday

*Russell Park fountain in DC, after the snow had slightly melted.
See other Wordless Wednesday pictures here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

"It was the first time she had heard her mother speak those words. They did not console. In them, she heard her mother saying, I am sorry I had to choose such a life for you, and I am sorry, for I know you will do what I choose."

--pg 38, The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Salon (3/1/2009)

Sunday Salon: The Cornelia Funke Challenge Wrap Up

Zoe's Book Reviews hosted this challenge, which ran from Dec 1, 2008 to March 1, 2009. I just made it by beginning a marathon reading of Inkdeath on February 27 and finishing not even 3o minutes ago on March 1. Whew.

Inkheart was the second book I read this year and I did manage to write a review, which you can peruse here. I pretty much loved it. My love for Dustfinger began with this book. I found him to be a very complex and sympathetic character, and he held the story together when other characterizations were lacking. Even if you don't plan on reading the entire series, this one is worth reading. It is a good standalone book, unlike Inkspell, which is much more connected to Inkdeath.

Since I've been a major review-writing slacker this month, I'll post my thoughts about Inkspell and Inkdeath here. There may be some spoilers, so beware. But, I'll say right away that I loved both books, and I find the series to be well worth reading, despite some issues, which I'll address below.

In Inkspell, Meggie wishes for what all book lovers dream of: entering their books. She reads herself and Farid into the Inkworld. Eventually Mo and Resa are catupulted into the story as well. The Inkworld suffers from an invasion of those who do not belong. Fengolio begins to lose control over his words and things begin to unravel. But what makes this book amazing is how the Inkworld unfolds in front of the reader and the even more complex Dustfinger. The ending was absolutely heartbreaking. One of the reasons I live for fantasy is the painting of a new and amazing world, and on this note, Inkspell delivers.

Inkdeath is a very somber and dark book. Mo/Silvertongue/Bluejay suffers from his multiple personalities and his conflicting loyalties to his wife and daughter, and to the world he has placed under the control of an immortal Adderhead. Will Mo be consumed by his Bluejay-robber identity? This book deals with death, and I must say, I found some of Funke's solutions unsettling. One of the things I loved about the Harry Potter series was that no matter your power, once you died, you were dead. That's the end. No one can come back from the dead. Which was part of my issue with the fake out ending of that book. And it's my issue with this book as well. I was, of course, glad to see that Dustfinger had a part in this book as well, but he came back as some kind of magical figure, fundamentally changed from death. This was a little tenuous for me. Bringing people back from the dead with magical powers...is even a little far-fetched for the Inkworld. It is a very fine tightrope. For the most part, I think Funke used the idea well, only straying into the ridiculous (for me) once when Dustfinger escaped the Night Mare, the first time.

So, I did have some issues with how the story was wrapped up, but I still really enjoyed it and was able to power through it quite quickly for a 600+ page book. I give it 4 out of 5.

The trilogy as a whole suffers a little under the weight of all its subplots. About 400 pages into each book, I'm thinking---ok, lets wrap it up. The climax has a tendency to last several hundred pages. It can be exhausting. But I still found it satisfying.