Monday, August 31, 2009

Review and Giveaway: The Blue Star by Tony Earley

The Blue Star is a story that is deceptively simple, but is actually a complex tale of growing up in a small North Carolina town on the verge of WWII.

Jim is a senior at Aliceville High School and is enjoying his new status as the one of the top guys. He has just broken up with Norma, the girl everyone is sure that he should end up with, and notices Chrissie, a new half Native American girl. Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw’s girl, a spoiled rich kid who has joined the navy. The situation is strange as Chrissie’s family lives and works for the Bucklaw family and she is basically told she is Bucky’s girl and must wait until he returns. As she is half Native American and another man’s girl, she is unattainable to Jim, but he can’t help his feelings from deepening. A series of events, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor halfway through senior year, cause Jim to have to face new realities and have to make the journey from child to man.

I enjoyed this coming of age story. All of the characters were perfectly three dimensional beings that I could imagine meeting. I especially loved the uncles and would love to learn more about them. The town of Aliceville and the neighboring mountain were described vividly. The novel gave a perfect picture look into this town and world at this period of time directly before WWII. I loved it and would really like to read Jim the Boy. I also really want to see what Earley has in store for Jim next.

What I thought would be light hearted book took on serious issues such as racial prejudice, sexuality, guilt, and death. For a simple story, it had very deep issues.

I have a giveaway for five copies of this book courtesy of Valerie at Hachette Book Group that will end at midnight tonight. If you have not entered yet, please follow this link to the contest rules and sign-up. Good luck everyone – I think you’ll enjoy this book!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Blue Star Giveaway Extended to Midnight on August 31st!!

Work has been more than a bit hectic for me lately. I want to have my review of The Blue Star posted before the end of the giveaway so I am extending the deadline to Monday the 31st at Midnight. If you haven't signed up yet, please see the contest rules and sign-up here.

Also thank-you everyone for the kind awards. I am very excited by them! I have not posted them yet because of above work deadlines, but will have an August awards post soon.

Whoever said working from home is great should be shot! :-)

The Matters at Mansfield (Or the Crawford Affair) by Carrie Bebris

The Matters at Mansfield is the fourth in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series. The first three books; Pride and Prescience, Suspense and Sensibility, and North by Northanger are enjoyable mysteries. It is especially fun to see the different characters of Austen’s novels interact together.

In The Matters at Mansfield, the Darcys find themselves once again embroiled in a mystery. Anne de Bourgh has eloped with Henry Crawford in order to avoid an arranged marriage by her mother to an abusive man. Mr. Crawford has several secrets of his own, which the Darcys are determined to find out. I don’t want to say more and ruin the plot.

I enjoyed the mystery and found this a lively and quick read. I didn’t enjoy that Mr. Crawford was murdered. Truthfully, I liked Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park and he seemed loving in this book towards Anne. I think it would have been more interesting to see how their relationship turned out. Although Edmund is briefly seen, it would have been really cool for the Darcys to visit Edmund and Fanny Bertram. I kept hoping they would throughout the book.

This novel could stand on its own as a good mystery. It was also humorous and I had a few laugh out loud moments at some of the characters, including Mrs. Norris. I love the marriage between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, they make a good crime solving duo.

Carrie Bebris is a Wisconsin native that now lives in Ohio; therefore I am going to count her as at Literary Local as I live in Wisconsin. I thought she did live in Wisconsin until I checked the back flap of this book, did she just move?

Her next novel, The Intrigue at Highbury (or Emma’s Match), will be released in March 2010. It sounds interesting and I will definitely be reading it!

This is also item eight on the Everything Austen Challenge.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (audio)

Jane Austen wrote six excellent novels. Unlike other authors, she does not only have one fantastic novel with five other middling novels. Each novel is a work of art with sharply drawn characters that are still recognizable in today’s society.

Therefore when I say that Mansfield Park is not one of my favorite Austen novels, it does not mean that it is a bad novel. It is still quite an excellent novel; I just personally do not like it as much as my favorites (Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion). Mansfield Park is often listed as the least favorite Austen novel. Why? (Please comment)

Plot Summary
Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price. As a young girl in a poor family, Fanny is sent to live with her mother’s sister, Lady Bertram, the wife of Sir Thomas Bertram. They live at Mansfield Park with their four children, Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia. Luckily for them, Lady Bertram’s other sister, Mrs. Norris; the wife of the rector also lives nearby. Mrs. Norris makes it her life’s mission to keep Fanny usefully employed and to make sure she understands what a privilege it is that to live with her uncle and aunt. Edmund is the one person in the family who provides Fanny with kind attention as a child. Her affection for him grows into love as she matures.

Unfortunately for Fanny, the Mansfield Park living is sold to a Dr. Grant, and his brother and sister-in-law come to visit. Henry and Mary Crawford are good looking Londoners with wit and charm to spare. Henry casts a spell over Maria and Julia, while Edmund is enraptured with Mary. Will true love prevail?

This novel had fantastic characters. I think one of the reasons this novel has popularity problems is because of the main character, Fanny. Fanny is a shy girl with strong convictions. As she is shy, she is often not the main action of the novel. While Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse are always at the center as sparkling wits, Fanny is the shy girl on the sidelines. She is a unique heroine, but it is hard to relate to her at times.

Fanny seems to suffer from poor self-esteem (how can Henry love her she thinks at one point) probably caused by her Aunt Norris. Aunt Norris – what a villain! She spends the novel giving Fanny back handed compliments. She is not only slyly mean, but is very cheap. This gives the novel many humorous moments.

Edmund is also a troubled hero. Really the novel is the love story of Edmund and Mary Crawford. Mary is more interesting to me, a lively wit who falls in love with Edmund. She is unable to separate financial matters with love for marriage and loses Edmund because of her stance on moral issues.

What doesn’t help matters is that the novel is then tied up too quickly. While Emma had a nice drawn out ending that allowed everything to take place, this ending feels rushed. All of the sudden Edmund discovers he is love with Fanny and they marry. It feels more like Fanny is the runner-up, second best prize. It would have been nice to explore the love between them. Fanny had the love the entire novel, but I worry about Edmund. Only chapters from the end he was telling Fanny that Mary was the only woman he could imagine himself being happy with. Poor Fanny!

Henry Crawford is also a great character. He is enigmatic and finds himself in love with Fanny. My favorite part of the novel is when he visits Fanny and her family in Portsmouth. He discovers that her family is poor and ill-mannered, but this makes no difference to him. He loves Fanny anyway and treats her family nicely. This is Henry Crawford at his best. I wanted Fanny to accept him at this point (and I may have fallen a little in love with him myself)! Unlike Mary, Henry Crawford is not going to marry for wealth and position.

Then Henry Crawford turns to his worst, running off with Maria Rushworth after he leaves Fanny. Mr. Crawford seems to love the pursuit of the unattainable woman. When Fanny’s affections were so hard to attain, I think Henry loved the challenge. As a married woman, Mrs. Rushworth presents another such challenge. Not much has changed in two hundred years, I know men like that now!

Despite all appearances, at this point in the novel, Fanny is a strong character. She is able to withstand Henry Crawford’s charm (and indeed he must have been charming) and a life of luxury as his bride in order to wait for true love and someone that matched her moral values.

Overall, I think this book had a couple themes that spoke to me. The first would be the importance of values in marriage. The Crawfords do not share the values of Edmund and Fanny. Both Edmund and Fanny are strong enough to realize this and to not settle for something less. The other overall theme is similar to other Austen novels; one should marry for love and not for wealth. Maria married for material purposes and it ended badly. Mary wants wealth, but loses true love in the process. Fanny refuses to marry Henry without love and he is proved a morally bad character in his dealings with Maria. Only Fanny and Edmund marry for love and values and we assume live happily ever after. This does not always work out as in the case of Fanny’s parents.

This audio version of this novel was read by Wanda McCaddon. She did a fine job as a narrator and it was once again a great experience getting to hear Mansfield Park read aloud as it would have been in the Austen family. That being said, I don’t think McCaddon did as excellent a job as Prunella Scales did for Emma.

Mansfield Park is item number 7 in my Everything Austen Challenge as well as an item in my Classics Challenge (number 1 since I started the challenge, but number 4 since challenge began). I am still on my Mansfield Park kick and soon write a review on The Matters at Mansfield as well as watch the 1999 Mansfield Park movie.

Mansfield Park is my sister Kristi’s favorite Jane Austen novel. She just started a blog. Help me to convince her to write a review of Mansfield Park. She has an excellent review of Charlotte by Jane Austen and Julia Barrett on her site.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Edmund Bertram’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Edmund Bertram’s Diary is item number six for my Everything Austen Challenge list. I am complete with the original challenge number and will be continuing on for the X2 Challenge!

I am now on a Mansfield Park kick. I am currently listening to the audiobook version of Mansfield Park and just finished up the novel Edmund Bertram’s Diary by Amanda Grange. I have enjoyed Grange’s previous diary installments and found this novel to also be enjoyable.

The novel starts when Edmund is a young man and his young cousin Fanny Price has first come to live with the Bertram family at Mansfield Park. Edmund has a great friendship with his fun loving brother Tom, but grows to have a deeper friendship based on mutual understanding and love of learning with Fanny. When Henry and Mary Crawford move to the neighborhood, Edmund finds himself falling in love with the captivating Mary Crawford. Over time he discovers that Mary considers wealth above all things and does not have the morals that he finds very important. He then begins to think about Fanny in a different light.

As with other Grange diaries, I enjoyed reading things from Edmund’s perspective. I do wish the diary would have contained more information beyond the ending of Mansfield Park. The story really seems like the love story of Edmund and Mary with Fanny as a surprise replacement at the end. It would have been nice to have the end section and their love expanded a bit more.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Classics Challenge

Trish has convinced me that I should join the Classics Challenge 2009 although there are only two months left. I only wish I would have found this challenge sooner! I thought about it and with a couple of classics I've read since April 1st and books I planned on reading (and listening to) for other challenges, I should be able to make it. I plan on going for a "classics snack" and reading four novels.

1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

(and I've actually already read The Old Curosity Shop by Charles Dickens and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins for the Victorian Challenge in June which I will post on the Classics Challenge).
I'm not sure if I'll get to the bonus round of reading a should be/will be classic, but if I do, I'll try to read Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell - Clarke. I have had it sitting here on my to read pile for four years or so's about time I get to it!

This will be fun - I miss my classics book club so this will be a new way to get me back on track with the classics!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Laura’s Favorite Classics (Part 1 from Austen to Dreiser)

What defines a classic? Is it something that a stodgy college English professor tells you to read? Is it something that you read and enjoy? Is it a book that taught you a lesson? Is it science fiction, a graphic novel, a children’s novel? Is it a book that is often read and cited by other people and pop culture in general? I think a classic novel is all of these things. I loved my high school and college literature classics, but used them as a spring board for where to start in my search for great novels to read. Going through the lists of “classic” novels has made me think about my own personal library and favorite classics. I’ve also had several friends tell me that they are going to read “the classics.” This is part one of my favorite classic novels.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Angelou writes a tale that is funny at times and heartbreaking at others. Overall it’s unforgettable.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was one of my favorite books as a young girl. I just reread it a couple of years ago and loved it again. While there are “moral lesson” parts that drag a bit, the overall love for family in the novel, and engaging stories of home life make this novel a classic.

Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion by Jane Austen. All six of Austen’s novels are excellent and must reads. I’d start with Pride and Prejudice. I love the humor and the social commentary. Persuasion is my other favorite. It is a tale of true love and how far we will let our friends “persuade” us against our better judgment.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. The Bronte sisters and their passionate tales are must reads. Anne often gets short shrift, but I feel her novels are as good as her sisters. While all are passionate tales, they can also be taken as stories that bring to light the position of women in Victorian society. Each of these novels is my favorite by each sister (I’ve read all of their collected works).

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Buck was a very popular author in the early part of the twentieth century. Reading her novels of life in China and the eternal questions of love and life as a woman, it is easy to see why.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This riveting tale of murder in rural Kansas is a classic. This book was the start of literary true crime narratives.

Death Comes for the Archbishop, O Pioneers, and My Antonia by Willa Cather. Cather is one of my favorite novelists. Skip her Pulitzer Prize winning novel (One of Ours) and opt instead for three of her masterpieces. Death Comes for the Archbishop is a wonderful story set in the Southwest that is full of descriptive narrative and wonderful characters. O Pioneers and My Antonia are unforgettable tales of the hardships of life as a pioneer in Nebraska.

David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I would like to read all of Charles Dickens novels before I die. These three are my favorites of what I’ve read so far. I love Dickens detailed descriptions and quirky characters. David Copperfield is his most autobiographical tale, A Tale of Two Cities is a tear-jerker that is one of his most quotable books, and A Christmas Carol is beloved and known by all.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. I read An American Tragedy while I was in college (on my own – although I would have loved to discuss it in a class). It had a slow start, but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. It was only a few years after the OJ trial when I read it and I found that not much had changed in the 70 years since the book was written. Not only is it a love story gone wrong, but it’s also the story of a boy trying to get ahead in the world, of a system that doesn’t care for the individual, and public officials who only care about getting ahead and not about the people they serve. This book changed the way I feel about capital punishment. It is not a quick read, but by the end I cared enough that I cried.

I hope to continue posting on this subject in the future. This is my look through my first book case… I’ll do bookcase number two next!

As I look back through this list, I am struck by the fact that I didn't read any of these books for a high school or college literature class. The only one I did read in college, Pride and Prejudice, I had read on my own before and after the class. I think a lot of it was that for some reason in high school and college, not too many women authors made it onto the "great novels" list that we read. In fact, P&P was in my British novel class and the only book we read by a woman. My American novel class had not one book by a woman. What do you think about that? Why do teachers and professors (or at least mine) usually pick men authors?

I would love to keep discussing this in the comments section. How do you feel about these classics overall? What are your favorite classics?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Well Read Are You - BBC "The Big Read"?

I couldn't resist posting one more list. As you can tell from my last few posts, I used many lists to come up with my How Well Read Are You - American Literature? list. I really love this list from the BBC. It contains a lot more "popular" classic literature (and more women writers). Although it is a list of the favorite novels of the British, it contains quite a few American authors.

"In April 2003 the BBC's Big Read began the search for the nation's best-loved novel, and we asked you to nominate your favourite books. "

X = Read Book
M= Watched movie

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien(X) (M)
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (X) (M)
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams(X) (M)
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling(X) (M)
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee(X) (M)
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne(X) (M)
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (X)
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis(X) (M)
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë (X) (M)
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë(X) (M)
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks(X)
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (X) (M)
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger(X)
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens(X) (M)
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott(X) (M)
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell(X) (M)
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling (X) (M)
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling(X) (M)
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling(X) (M)
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien(X)
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy(X) (M)
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving(X) (M)
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck(X) (M)
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll(X) (M)
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez(X)
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett(X)
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens(X) (M)
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson(X)
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen(X) (M)
39. Dune, Frank Herbert(X) (M)
40. Emma, Jane Austen(X) (M)
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery(X) (M)
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald(X) (M)
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas(X) (M)
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh(M)
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens(X) (M)
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett(X) (M)
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck(X)
53. The Stand, Stephen King(M)
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy(X) (M)
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell(X)
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden(X) (M)
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens(X) (M)
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough(X) (M)
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding(M)
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding(X) (M)
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins(X)
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens(M)
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith(X) (M)
83. Holes, Louis Sachar(X)
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac(X)
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton(X)
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer(X)
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez(X)
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson9
9. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Books Read = 50
Movies Watched = 39

My favorite reads on this list:

1. Katherine by Anya Seton. Seton is one of the best historical fiction authors that I have ever read. I have been madly searching for her books at every used book store I can find for the past 15 years. Luckily they have been getting reprinted the past few years.
2. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I love Rebecca and have read it quite a few times. It is a psycological masterpiece and is a nice homage to Jane Eyre. I love the 1940 Oscar winning movie as well.
3. Peruasion by Jane Austen. P&P gets all of the publicity, but Persuasion is my other favorite Austen novel. I love the message that there is always hope and love never dies.

If you post this list on your blog, please leave me a comment. I love to read what others have read and what their favorite classics are!

The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

The Autograph Man was my Kewaunee Library Book Club summer pick. Marc Blatte, author of Humpty Dumpty was Pushed picked the book for us when we had a discussion with him during our May book club meeting.

The Autograph Man is the story of Alex-Li Tandem, a small time autograph collector and seller in London. Alex has one autograph that he would love to have, a rare autograph from his favorite actress Kitty Alexander. After a drug fueled evening, he is found to have a Kitty autograph. Did he forge it, or did Kitty actually send him one after fifteen years? Alex journeys to New York to a convention and to find Kitty and discover the answer.

While this is the outer story, the inner story is that Alex-Li’s father died of a heart attack while he had taken Alex and two of his friend to a wrestling match. Alex-Li is Jewish and has never been able to put his father to rest at a kaddish. Through the help of his friends, Alex makes his spiritual journey and learns how to let go.

My feelings on this novel are quite complex. I LOVED Smith’s style of writing and thought it was a very well written book. I also loved how the plot was really tied together in the end. But I didn’t really like the story. I didn’t care much for Alex-Li and he spent a lot of the book in a drug fueled haze, which was annoying.

My book club had mixed feelings. Two members didn’t finish it and one liked the end, but wasn’t sure if he would read any more novels by Zadie Smith. I loved her style of writing and have heard lots of good things about White Teeth and On Beauty. What do you think - worth a read?

How Well Read Are You - Modern Library Classics?

I lied, I am going to post one more list. I love lists (if you can't tell). It helps me to think about books I might not have thought about before and add them to my giant reading list. We looked at this modern library classics list in one of my old book clubs. I think it is interesting - especially the board list versus the readers list!

X = Read Book
M = Watched Movie

The Board's List
1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (X) (M)
4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner (I've tried to read it three times!!)
7. CATCH-22
8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck (X) (M)
11. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
12. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
13. 1984 by George Orwell (X)
14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
16. AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser (X) (M)
17. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers (X)
18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut (X)
19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
20. NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
23. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
24. WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster (X)
26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James (M)
27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald (X)
30. THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James (M)
33. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner (X)
36. ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
37. THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster (X) (M)
39. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
40. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding (M)
42. DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
43. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway (X)
46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
51. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer
52. PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
53. PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
54. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
55. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac (X)
56. THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett
57. PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
58. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton (X) (M)
59. ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
60. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
62. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
64. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger (X)
65. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
66. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
67. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
68. MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis (X)
69. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton (X)(M)
70. THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
71. A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
72. A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
73. THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
74. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway (X) (M)
75. SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
77. FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
78. KIM by Rudyard Kipling
79. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster (X) (M)
80. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh (M)
82. ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
83. A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
84. THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
85. LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
86. RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
87. THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
88. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
89. LOVING by Henry Green
90. MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
91. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
92. IRONWEED by William Kennedy
93. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
94. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
95. UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
96. SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron
97. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
99. THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
100. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington (X) (M)

There is a definite lack of women author's on the boards list. I do not approve.

Books Read = 20
Movies Watched = 13

The Reader's List
3. BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien (X) (M)
5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (X)(M)
6. 1984 by George Orwell (X)
7. ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
8. WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand
9. MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
10. FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard
11. ULYSSES by James Joyce
12. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
13. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (X) (M)
14. DUNE by Frank Herbert (X) (M)
15. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein
16. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein
17. A TOWN LIKE ALICE by Nevil Shute
18. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
19. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger (X)
20. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
21. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW by Thomas Pynchon
22. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck (X) (M)
23. SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut (X)
24. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell (X) (M)
25. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding (M)
26. SHANE by Jack Schaefer
28. A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving (X) (M)
29. THE STAND by Stephen King (M)
31. BELOVED by Toni Morrison
32. THE WORM OUROBOROS by E.R. Eddison
33. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
34. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
35. MOONHEART by Charles de Lint
36. ABSALOM, ABSALOM! by William Faulkner
37. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
38. WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor
39. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
40. FIFTH BUSINESS by Robertson Davies
41. SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING by Charles de Lint
42. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac (X)
43. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
44. YARROW by Charles de Lint
46. ONE LONELY NIGHT by Mickey Spillane
47. MEMORY AND DREAM by Charles de Lint
48. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
49.THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
50. TRADER by Charles de Lint
52. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers (X)
53. THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood
54. BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy
55. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
56. ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute
58. GREENMANTLE by Charles de Lint
59. ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card (X)
60. THE LITTLE COUNTRY by Charles de Lint
61.THE RECOGNITIONS by William Gaddis
62. STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert Heinlein
63. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway (X)
66. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson
67. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner (X)
68. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller
69. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
70. THE WOOD WIFE by Terri Windling
71. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
72. THE DOOR INTO SUMMER by Robert Heinlein
74. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
75. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
76. AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS by Flann O'Brien
77. FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
78. ARROWSMITH by Sinclair Lewis
79. WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams
80. NAKED LUNCH by William S. Burroughs
81. THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER by Tom Clancy (M)
82. GUILTY PLEASURES by Laurell K. Hamilton
83. THE PUPPET MASTERS by Robert Heinlein
84. IT by Stephen King
85. V. by Thomas Pynchon
86. DOUBLE STAR by Robert Heinlein
87. CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY by Robert Heinlein
88. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh (M)
89. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
91. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway (X) (M)
92. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
94. MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather (X)
95. MULENGRO by Charles de Lint
96. SUTTREE by Cormac McCarthy
97. MYTHAGO WOOD by Robert Holdstock
98. ILLUSIONS by Richard Bach
99. THE CUNNING MAN by Robertson Davies
100. THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie

There is still a lack of women author's on the "reader's list." I want to know who these readers are anyway . . .why do they love Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard so much?

Books Read = 19
Movies Watched =13

I actually do better on the critics list!

Top Five Books I've read from these Lists:

1. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
2. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
3. Dune by Frank Herbert
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Top Five I'd Like to Read:

1. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
3. Atlas Shrugged by Ann Rand
4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
5. The Stand by Stephen King

If you post this on your blog, please put the link back here in the comments - I love to see what others are reading!

How Well Read Are You in Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 New Classics List?

How well read are you in the "new classics?"

I also pulled American "Classics" off of this list of new classics by Entertainment Weekly. I'll post other lists in the future - I'm tired of lists today! :-)

X = Books Read
M= Movies Watched

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006) (X)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)(X) (M)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001) (M)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)(X) (M)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87) (X)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988) (X)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)(X) (M)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989) (X) (M)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990) (X)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002) (X)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996) (X) (M)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998) (X)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001) (X)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001) (X)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003) (X)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)7
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989) (X)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006) (X)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002) (X) (M)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998) (X)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991) (X) (M)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003) (X)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995) (X)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Number of "New Classics" Read = 21
Number of Movies Watched = 8

Top Five from what I've read:

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
4. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
5. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding (I know it's light reading - but it's fun!)

I would most like to read these five:

1. World's Fair by E. L. Doctorow
2. Beloved by Toni Morrison
3. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
5. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Overall I do much better with "old" classics read. I need to catch up with the new classics!

If you post this on your blog, please add your link to the comments. I always like to see what others are reading!

How Well Read Are you in Pulitzer Prize Winning Fiction?

I've seen a lot of postings wondering where the top 100 American Lit list came from. I used a wide variety of lists to come up with ... including a list of the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. Lets see how I stack up with this list, I don't think it will be pretty. X for books read, M for movies watched, O for read other books by this author, S for on my shelf not read yet.

1. 2009 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

2. 2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

3. 2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (X)

4. 2006 March by Geraldine Brooks (X)(O)
(bonus based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott X, M,O, S)

5. 2005 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

6. 2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones (X)

7. 2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (X)

8. 2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo

9. 2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

10. 2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (O)

11. 1999 The Hoursby Michael Cunningham (X)

12. 1998 American Pastoral by Philip Roth (O)

13. 1997 Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

14. 1996 Independence Day by Richard Ford

15. 1995 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (S)

16. 1994 The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

17. 1993 A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler

18. 1992 A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (X) (M)

19. 1991 Rabbit At Rest by John Updike (O)

20. 1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

21. 1989 Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (O)

22. 1988 Beloved by Toni Morrison(O)

23. 1987 A Summons To Memphis by Peter Taylor

24. 1986 Lonesome Dove by Larry Mcmurtry

25. 1985 Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

26. 1984 Ironweed by William Kennedy

27. 1983 The Color Purple by Alice Walker (X) (M)

28. 1982 Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike (O)

29. 1981 A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

30. 1980 The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

31. 1979 The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever

32. 1978 Elbow Room: Stories by James Alan Mcpherson

1977 No award was given.

33. 1976 Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow

34. 1975 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

1974 No award was given.

35. 1973 The Optimist's Daughter (large Print) by Eudora Welty

36. 1972 Angle of Repose by Wallace Earle Stegner

1971 No award was given.

37. 1970 The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford

38. 1969 House Made of Dawn by N Scott Momaday

39. 1968 The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

40. 1967 The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

41. 1966 The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter (X)

42. 1965 The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau

1964 No award was given.

43. 1963 The Reivers: A Reminiscence by William Faulkner (O)

44. 1962 The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor

45. 1961 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (X) (M)

46. 1960 Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

47. 1959 The Travels of Jaimie Mcpheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor

48. 1958 A Death in the Family by James Agee

1957 No award was given.

49. 1956 Andersonville by Mackinlay Kantor

50. 1955 A Fable by William Faulkner (O)

1954 No award was given.

51. 1953 The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (O)

52. 1952 The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II by Herman Wouk

53. 1951 The Town by Conrad Richter

54. 1950 The Way West by A B Guthrie

55. 1949 Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens

56. 1948 Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener

57. 1947 All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

1946 No award was given.1945

58. A Bell for Adano by John Hersey

59. 1944 Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin

60. 1943 Dragon's Teeth I by Upton Sinclair

61. 1942 In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow1941

No award was given.

62. 1940 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (X) (M) (O)

63. 1939 The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

64. 1938 The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand

65. 1937 Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (X) (M)

66. 1936 Honey in the Horn by Harold Lenoir Davis

67. 1935 Now in November by Josephine W. Johnson

68. 1934 Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

69. 1933 The Store by Thomas Stribling

70. 1932 The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (X) (O)

71. 1931 Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes

72. 1930 Laughing Boy by Oliver Lafarge

73. 1929 Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin

74. 1928 The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (S)

75. 1927 Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield

76. 1926 Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (O)

77. 1925 So Big by Edna Ferber

78. 1924 The Able Mclaughlins by Margaret Wilson

79. 1923 One of Ours by Willa Silbert Cather (O)

80. 1922 Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

81. 1921 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (X) (O) (M)

1920 No award was given.

82. 1919 The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (X) (M)

83. 1918 His Family by Ernest Poole

Books Read = 15
Movies Watched = 8
Other Books Read by author =16
On my Shelf to read = 2

This is pretty sad. It's interesting how the Pulitzer Prize often goes to lesser known works by famous authors. Almost an ...well we really should have given Willa Cather an award by now. . .lets give her an award for this inferior patriotic book. What are your thoughts? If you post this list, please post a link back here on my comments. I love to see what other people are reading and learn their thoughts!

Top five reads from this list:

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
3. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
4. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Top five I would like to read:

1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
2. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
3. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison
5. So Big by Edna Ferber

Monday, August 17, 2009

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (audio)

I continue my quest to listen to the abridged versions of Diana Gabaldon’s wonderful Outlander series before the newest book (An Echo in the Bone) is released September 22nd.

Drums of Autumn is the fourth book in the soon to be seven book series. It concerns two parallel stories – Jamie and Claire in the 1760’s and Briana and Roger in the 1960’s. After washing up onto shore at the end of the last novel, Jamie, Claire, and crew make their way to Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta’s plantation in South Carolina. Although tempted by the thought of being his Aunt’s manager, Jamie decides that he would rather take up an offer of free land in the mountains from the North Carolina governor. Jamie and Claire strike to the west and become settlers at Fraser’s Ridge.

Meanwhile, Briana and Roger find a death notice for Jamie and Claire. Briana decides to go through the stones and search for her parents to change their fate. Roger pursues her. Their passionate love story really heats up in this book. Tragedy befalls them and to say more would ruin the story.

As I’ve stated before, nothing is better than the original novel. The abridged audio version leaves out a lot of detail and plot. Geraldine James does a fantastic job with the readings. I can’t wait to listen to the next two books in the series and read An Echo in the Bone!

My favorite quote from Drums of Autumn is from Roger (page 414 of the paperback):

“He had wanted badly for her to find her Jamie Fraser to live happily ever after with him. The knowledge – or more accurately, the hope – that she had done so had been a talisman to him; a witness that enduring love was possible, a love strong enough to withstand separation and hardship, strong enough to outlast time.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham

I read a great review of Holly’s Inbox in Entertainment Weekly a couple of months ago. It was compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary, which is one of my favorite books, so I decided I should definitely read this book. Unfortunately our entire library system only had one copy of the book – which I was finally able to snag.

Although this book looks weighty at 600 plus pages, it is actually a very quick read. Set up as a book told through emails, it is the story of Holly Denham as she starts a new job at a bank. She has relationship, family, and work woes, and we also solve the mystery of her past.

Overall it was a funny, light read – perfect for summer. The only negative I had with the book was that the email format constrained it so that I felt that I never got to know some characters as well as I would have if it were written in a more traditional format. I wonder when the a book written all in twitter will be coming out . . .

Otherwise my only other complaint was that it was hard to put the book down. I will be reading the sequel when it comes out!

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

I read Twenties Girl while riding in the car for a 13-hour trip with my family to visit my sister and brother-in-law. I enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s novels. They are light, funny, entertaining reads with loveable heroines.

Twenties Girl was a chick lit novel with a twist. Lara Lington is attending the funeral of her great-aunt Sadie who passed away at 105. The funeral is a sad affair with only a few family members attending and no flowers. Suddenly Lara is accosted by Sadie’s ghost who is in search of her necklace. Lara has to stop the funeral and soon finds herself on the hunt for the necklace.

The best part of the novel was the friendship between Sadie and Lara. Sadie used her twenties girl knowledge to spice of Lara’s life and to get her to take more risks. Lara learned to appreciate that old people have interesting lives and stories to tell. She also learned a lot about her family history and “skeletons in the closet” so to speak. The mystery of the missing necklace is solved and Lara learns to find love again.

I really enjoyed this novel – I stayed up too late at night to finish it!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I reread Twilight last week for my new FLICKS Book and Movie Club. My original review and synopsis can be read here. I still greatly enjoyed the book during my second reading. The story really draws you in and is hard to put down! My club meets tonight at my house to discuss and watch the movie - it should be fun!

When I read the story this time, I was trying to look at it from several different angles. I keep reading on blogs and in comments that Stephenie Meyer does not write well. I’m not really sure where that is coming from. Meyer writes a very engaging story. Two of my friends in book club were sucked in by the book and are reading the rest of the series now. The books are meant for teens so they are not adult books with deep literary themes – but they weren’t meant to be.

I’ve also heard the complaint that Bella is weak and Edward is controlling. I got the opposite picture reading the book on Bella. She is very strong and is able to hang out with an entire vampire family – which is kind of a scary situation! Also the set-up at the end of the book is because Bella wants to save her mother instead of staying in a safe place. Edward is a bit controlling at times, but it is because he cares deeply for Bella. She sticks up for herself too and doesn’t let him totally take charge of her life.

Personally I think it is rather sexy that Edward is caring and very decisive. My husband is strong-willed and decisive, which I love. But he definitely doesn’t control me!

I really like the teen angst in the book. Although I am an old lady of 31, I remember many of the feelings that Bella had in the book when it comes to trying to fit in, being clumsy and first love. I think it is really this ability to identify with the heroine as well as the engaging story that makes this such a must read for so many people.

My favorite quote:

“Of three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”

I highly recommend this novel!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (audio)

I’ve been super busy at work and was recently gone for a long weekend trip so I’m a bit behind on reviews. I’m going to TRY to do brief reviews to catch myself back up!

I’m continuing my quest to listen to all of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series before the new book (An Echo in the Bone) comes out in September. I am listening to the abridged audio versions as I am limited on time. Listening to the abridged versions gives me a quick review of the action, but also whets my taste to really want to reread the entire saga. I may have to do that. . . maybe I should create my own Outlander challenge. Would there be any interested parties?

If you have not read the first two books yet, the following synopsis contains spoiler alerts! Voyager is the story of Claire’s return to Jamie in the past. After discovering at the end of Dragonfly in Amber that Jamie is still alive, Claire, Roger, and Briana research Jamie’s whereabouts during the twenty years since Claire last saw him. After determining his whereabouts, Claire leaves her daughter behind and returns to the past. After a passionate reunion, Claire learns that there are complications . . . such as the fact that Jamie remarried! Claire and Jamie soon must put complications aside to sail to the New World to look for Jamie’s nephew Ian, who was kidnapped by pirates. Much adventure ensues.

The abridged audio version of the book was well read, but the music was still terrible. There was also a lot left out . . . and much of this will be important in future books (such as Jamie’s son). This is disappointing, but not unexpected with abridged books. Voyager is a good book and I’ll definitely need to reread this in the future!

My favorite quote, “I’ve see ye so many times,” he said, his voice whispering warm in my ear. “You’ve come to me so often. When I dreamed sometimes. When I lay in fever. When I was so afraid and so lonely I knew I must die. When I needed you, I would always see ye, smiling, with your hair curling up about your face. But ye never spoke. And ye never touched me.”

“I can touch you now.” . . .

“Dinna be afraid,” he said softly, “There’s the two of us now.”

How Well Read Are You - American Literature Version

I thought it would be interesting to see how well read I was in American Literature so I combined a few top 100 lists of books pulling out the American authors. I'm posting several of these lists on my site. I tried to compile books that appeared on multiple lists (My Antonia, A Farewell to Arms, etc.) as well as put in a few Pultizer Prize winners that are a little more rare (So Big by Edna Ferber). How well read do you think you are?

Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. I saw that some are putting an M for movies they've watched so I'm adding that in!

1. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (X) (M)
2. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (X) (M)
3. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (-) (M)
4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (-)
5. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (X) (M)
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (X) (M)
7. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (X)
8. Dune by Frank Herbert (X) (M)
9. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (X)
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (-)
11. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (-)
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (-)
13. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (X) (M - A Place in the Sun)
14. O Pioneers! By Willa Cather (X) (M)
15. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (X)
16. My Antonia by Willa Cather (X)
17. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (X) (M)
18. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (X) (M)
19. Little House on the Praire by Laura Ingalls Wilder (X) (M-I'm counting TV movie and show)
20. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (X)
21. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (X)
22. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (X) (M)
23. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (X)
24. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (X)
25. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (X)
26. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (X) (M)
27. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (X) (M)
28. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (X) (M)
29. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (X)
30. The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (X)
31. Roots by Alex Haley (X)
32. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (X)
33. Katherine by Anya Seton (X)
34. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (X)
35. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (X) (M)
36. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (X)
37. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (X)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (X) (M)
39. The Collected Stories of Katherine Ann Porter (X)
40. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (-)
41. The Stand by Stephen King (-) (M)
42. Carrie by Stephen King (-) (M)
43. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (X)
44. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (-)
45. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (X) (M)
46. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (X) (M)
47. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (-)
48. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (X) (M)
49. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (X)
50. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (X)
51. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (-)
52. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (-)
53. Mystic River by Denis Lehane (-) (M)
54. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (-)
55. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (X) (M)
56. Rabbit Run by John Updike (X)
57. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates (-)
58. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty (-)
59. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (X) (M)
60. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (-)
61. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (X) (M)
62. Sandman by Neil Gaiman (-)
63. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (X)
64. World’s Fair by E.L. Doctorow (-)
65. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (X)
66. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (X)
67. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (-)
68. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (X) (M)
69. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (-)
70. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (-)
71. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (X) (M)
72. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (X) (M)
73. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (X) (M)
74. Deep End of the Ocean by Jacqueline Mitchard (X) (M)
75. John Adams by David McCullough (-)
76. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (X)
77. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult (X)
78. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (-)
79. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (X)
80. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut (X)
81. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (-)
82. Native Son by Richard Wright (-)
83. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos (-)
84. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (-)
85. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (-)
86. The Bridge of the San Luis Ray by Thornton Wilder (-)
87. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (-)
88. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (X) (M)
89. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (X)
90. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (X) (M)
91. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy (-) (M)
92. Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (-)
93. Beloved by Toni Morrison (-)
94. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (-)
95. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (-)
96. So Big by Edna Ferber (-)
97. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (X) (M)
98. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (X)
99. The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty (-)
100. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Conner (X)

I think I count 62 books read and 33 movies watched. It looks like I really need to work on more modern literature!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Giveaway - The Blue Star by Tony Earley

I am hosting my first giveaway thanks to Valerie and the Hachette Book Group. This book sounds exciting - I can't wait to read it!

Book Information (from publisher)

Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two.

Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity.

With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time--making it again even realer than our own day.

This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley's writing "radiates with a largeness of heart" (Esquire).

About Tony Earley (from Publisher)

Tony Earley is the author of four books: Here We Are in Paradise, a collection of stories; the novel Jim the Boy; the personal essay collection Somehow Form a Family; and The Blue Star, a novel released in Spring, 2008. A winner of a National Magazine Award for fiction, he was named one of the twenty best writers of his generation by both Granta, in 1996, and The New Yorker in 1999. His fiction and/or nonfiction have appeared in Harper's, Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South and many other magazines and anthologies.

He is a native of western North Carolina and a graduate of Warren Wilson College and The University of Alabama. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and daughter, where he is the Samuel Milton Fleming Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.

Giveaway Details:

There are five copies of The Blue Star up for grabs. If you would like to enter this contest do any of the following:
1. Leave a comment on this post. You must include an email address in at least one of your comments. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. (1 entry)

2. Blog about this giveaway or post about it on your sidebar. Leave a separate comment with a link to your post. (1 entry)

3. Become a follower or leave a comment that you already are a follower of this blog. (1 entry)

There are three ways to enter, but you must LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one or they will not count. I will be using to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. We also can not ship books to P.O. addresses. The deadline for entry is midnight, Monday, August 31st.

Good luck!