Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't Blink by James Patterson

From Goodreads: New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons - the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels accidentally captures a key piece of evidence that lands him in the middle of an all-out war between Italian and Russian mafia forces.

In the description, where it says, "gruesome murder"..ugh, you can hardly imagine. It really makes you wonder exactly how twisted James Patterson's mind is to come up with something so horrific. After the first murder occurs, which is within moments of starting the book, it just becomes a race to try to outwit the bad guys so the book felt very fast paced. That feeling is helped along by Patterson's short chapters and straight forward writing. The big question,of course, is "Exactly who are the bad guys and who are the good guys?". It was not hard to figure out what was going on but I wasn't one hundred percent sure until the end. This was a really quick book but it was fun.

The narration started out iffy for me. The narrator's voice sounds a lot like Bob Newhart - not "exciting, dashing, adventerous, leading man" kind of material. But I got used to him and as more characters were introduced and he changed things up for each one, he grew on me.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Anne movie and a wrap up note for the LMM challenge

I spent last night watching the second movie in the Anne of Green gables series that stars Megan Fallows. It was not as wonderful for me as the first one I watched because I wasn't far enough along in reading the series. I have only read the first two books - Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. The movie, however, was a compilation of books 2-4 so it included things that I hadn't read yet. What I liked about the first movie was the way the book came to life, it seemed to follow the book fairly well. So this movie that had bits and pieces of the story I read but then lots more that didn't seem to fit just wasn't as fun. Next year, I'l' try to read the next two books and then rent this one again and will see if my opinion changes!

So this is what I accomplished for the Lucy Maud Montgomery Challenge 2011..
Read Anne of Green Gables.
Watched the movie Anne of Green Gables.
Read Anne of Avonlea.
Watched the movie, Anne of Green Gables, the sequel.

The challenge was a pleasure and a big thank you goes to Carrie at Reading to Know for hosting!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Dare You by Joyce Meyer

From the Goodreads description: In I DARE YOU, Joyce Meyer explains that we all need a reason to get up everyday. We all need to reach for something beyond ourselves. Over the centuries, millions of people have asked, "What am I here for? What is my purpose?" We are born; we live; and we die. We cannot do anything about being born or dying, but we can do a lot about how we live. Taking responsibility for how we live takes courage. To accept life as it comes and to be determined to make the most we can out of it, is a challenge. Joyce challenges listeners to make sure they live their lives with purpose and passion.

This was your basic spiritual pep rally - pretty much exactly what I expected as I have listened to CD's of Joyce Meyer's books before. There was a little bit of a twist to this one in that she included some advice just for basic living, like what you would find in a women's magazine but with a spiritual slant on it. For example, she has a section on eating right and exercising, there was another section on working to make money, saving, paying down debt, and giving to charity. It was all good advice, we should do all of these things. And, in addition, as a faithful woman, I should do all the other stuff she pulls in, read the Bible, pray often and with fervor, trust in God and stop worrying - if only it were all as easy to do as just making a list. But it is all a struggle for me. Eating right, exercising, saving, and building a relationship with God - none of these things comes without effort. So the spiritual pep rally gives me a little jump start, will I do everything I should? Probably not. (Sigh.)

Counts for all sorts of challenges, click on the logos to see my progress...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

From the Amazon product description: The spirited redhead returns in this heartwarming sequel to Anne of Green Gables. Now she's the schoolma'am in the same place where she was a student, and not much older than her pupils. Anne's determination to win the respect and affection of her students, along with her ongoing search for kindred spirits and her attempts to beautify Avonlea with the village improvement society, provide the same "scope for imagination" that made this book's predecessor a treasure for young readers.

With all of Lucy Maud Montgomery's works available at no charge to download on e-readers, there was no reason to resist moving on to the next book in the series as soon as I finished the first one. This book was equally delightful! As a former teacher it is just mind boggling to me that these sixteen year olds - Anne, Gilbert, et al, are placed in charge of their local schools. What a difference a century makes! Reading these books just makes me wish I had been born in another time and could live their hard but simple life. I had the opportunity for a taste of it the other night. We went to a new (to us) restaurant and one of the items on the menu was Prince Edward Isle mussells - flown in fresh daily. I was very tempted to get them just to be romantic and think I was eating the same kind of thing Anne might eat and, of course, I wanted to go outside and pick a few flowers for the table too. But I didn't do either. Alas, the mussells were served over pasta with no sides and my desire for potatoes and vegetables was stronger than my desire to pretend I was Anne of Green Gables eating mussells on Prince Edwards Island.

I read this book for the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know. It also counts for the Classics Challenge and the e-Book challenge, and the 100+ books challenge, and the Outdo Yourself challenge - whew, a lot of heavy lifting for such a light hearted story!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bulls Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

From Goodreads: Elizabeth "Betts" McGee loved those lazy afternoons on pristine Bulls Island in the Carolina Lowcountry. But everything came crashing down when tragic fate—coupled with nasty rumor and innuendo—ended her engagement to Charleston golden boy J.D. Langley of the fabulously wealthy (and fabulously snooty) Langley clan. Betts left soon after, and she hasn't been back in nearly twenty years. Successfully reinventing herself in New York City, Betts is now a top banking executive and heading up the most important project of her career, but it'll transform the untouched island she loved in her youth into something unrecognizable. And it's forcing her to return to the bosom of her estranged family, where she may not be welcomed with open arms. Worse still, it's uniting her with ex-flame J.D., who's changed . . . but perhaps not enough.

This one was just alright for me. I've read a couple of Dorothea Benton Franks books lately, Isle of Palms which I did not like and Lowcountry Summer which I did like. This one would fall somewhere in the middle. I didn't actively dislike it but I wasn't all that thrilled either. She does a great job capturing the Lowcountry feel by using actual places, descriptions of native plants, regionally appropriate architecture, and realistic accents for the characters speech. But perhaps I was a bit jaded about it all because it is so familiar to me, hard to get too excited about an alligator in the story when we live with an alligator in our pond like most people on the islands around here do. The key conflict was a "ripped from the headlines" style plot about developers versus environmentalist, that's a pretty constant issue here as well. Everyone decries the loss of natural habitats but at the same time they'd all like a house on the water. So when the things that are supposed to make the story special just don't feel that special you are left with the bare bones of the romance and relationship to carry you through and those were just okay for me. I was displeased with the lack of repercussions for the resolution of one major plot line. Frank did that in Isle of Palms as well, set up a great big secret with all sorts of tension and then everyone just says, "Oh, okay, it's okay." and we're done. I still have another of hers in my TBR pile, The Land of Mango Sunsets, I'm curious how much I will like it.

This one will count towards the Southern Literature Challenge hosted by Jen at The Introverted Reader.  Click on the logo to see my progress.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Southern Literature Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Jen at The Introverted Reader.  She says..."Read a book(s)--non-fiction or fiction of any genre, adult or young adult--written by an author from the South and set mostly in the South." I'm signing up for Level 4--Y'all come back now, y'hear! to read 4 books -  should be a piece of cake because I've got three already lined up to read so I just need one more!

Here's where I'll keep track of my books...
1. Bull's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank
2. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
3. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown by Olivia deBelle Byrd
4. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's On Your Nightstand? January 2011

This monthly feature is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month. Click on the logo to go and check out all the participants.

At the bottom is Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. This is one I have had my eye on for awhile and it will count towards Bermudaonion's Okra Picks Reading Challenge. Conroy lives close by and I got to meet him about a year ago. I was completely starstruck and made, at best, no impression or, more likely, a bad one! oh well, better luck next time.

Above that is HP 7. I have it out to dive in come February 1 when the Chunkster Challenge begins but as I think about it, I better go back and check that I read HP 6!

Above that is The Devotion of Suspect X. This was a win from Goodreads. I liked what the preview had to say about it's an X, I'll knock the X book for the A-Z Challenge out early this year and won't be scrambling in December.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier was a birthday gift from my friend, Belle, a retired school teacher. My birthday was in October. I brought it home and promptly lost it in my TBR black hole. Luckily when I did my inventory at the beginning of the year I found it again!

Above that is Thomas Jefferson. he's been hanging around awhile. Maybe I'll wrap him up this year month.

Finally, at the top is the audiobook, Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. It is next up in the car. I'm looking forward to it because I've got James Patterson going now (Don't Blink) and the single death so far has been so incredibly vile that I can't get it out of my mind. Sparks will be a good cleanse!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started by Marcia at The Printed Page is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Rose City Reader. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.

Just one this week.....

From the Amazon product description: Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian faith. The question he tackles in WHAT GOOD IS GOD? concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention; and even to a conference for women in prostitution. At each of the 10 places he visited, his preparation for the visit and exactly what he said to the people he met each provided evidence that faith really does work when what we believe is severely tested. WHAT GOOD IS GOD? tells the story of Philips journey--the background, the preparation, the presentations themselves. Here is a story of grace for armchair travelers, spiritual seekers, and those in desperate need of assurance that their faith really matters. This was a win from Thoughts in Progress, Thank you, Mason!

Nonfiction does not always grab and hold me but this guy seems to be quite popular so I am assuming he will be able to hold my attention. This book is on the list for the Faith and Fiction Round Table hosted by My Friend Amy so my goal is to finish it by then so I can enjoy reading the discussion and compare notes! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

War by Sebastian Junger

From the Amazon product description: Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat--the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.

This was a hard book to listen to, I had to kind of psyche myself up to go back to the battle each time I returned to the audio. I kept at it because it's about guys like my guys, the families I visit each day are Marines and Sailors, and many of the Marines are serving in Afghanistan. The returning Marines are expected to pick back up with their families and careers as if nothing has happened. But something has happened and this book takes the rest of us there to experience a taste of it. Junger does that really well. Embedded in an Army platoon, he relays both the day to day action and the day to day boredom in a straight forward narrative that is fairly easy to follow. It's the military - there are acronyms and weapon names and Army ranks that I wasn't familiar with, and it's Afghanistan - with it's confusing terrain of names, so I occasionally felt a little lost. But this book isn't about being able to explain the mechanics of the war by the time you reach the end, it's about being able to experience and feel the war as if you are immersed in it. I came to care about the soldiers in the story even if I couldn't keep track of them well enough to complete a matching exercise of who's who! Junger includes some related material about war in general, research about men in war,and the personal stories of some of the soldiers beyond the war - all of these things complement the main narrative and don't feel too intrusive just a little bit intrusive...I wanted him to get back to the "real" story! I passed this one on to a co-worker and told her she had to listen to it, it should be required listening for all of us who work with these guys. My true feelings go beyond that, it should be required listening for every voting person in our country - if we're going to send these young men off to battle, we should have an inkling of what we have done.

Sebastian Junger has an interesting website and there I found the trailer for the movie, Restrepo. Restrepo was filmed at the same time as War was written, in the audiobook bonus material Junger describes how he and his partner filmed during active times and then he wrote during quieter times. Restrepo comes out this year and I can't wait to go see it. I may even be able to persuade Ex-Marine to go with me for a date night! And then...this would count towards the Page to Screen challenge - if I had signed up for it.

This was a win from Kristi at Books and Needlepoint.

Counts towards tons o' challenges....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Anne of Green Gables - the movie!

Finally...after searching high and low, I got my hands on a copy of Anne of Green Gables with Megan Fallows playing Anne. It was wonderful. I felt just like I did the first time I saw Pride and Prejudice come to life with Colin Firth -  as soon as it was done, I could have just started it all over again and been happy. I thought the movie stayed very true to the book. People who have read Anne of Green Gables repeatedly ( you know who you are) may notice some differences but for me it seemed to be perfect! Although I managed to find this one at a nearby library, if I had spent $20 buying it off of Amazon, it would have been worth it!

I watched this movie for the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know.

This would work for the Page to Screen challenge, if I were signed up, which I am not, yet.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

                               Portion of the Goodreads description: Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada.

The book started out a little confusing for me as I acclimated myself to the foreign names. Folks with more experience in historical fiction probably don't blink an eye when Christopher Columbus is referred to as Cristobal Colon but details like that stop me dead in my tracks for a minute as I think, "Is that Columbus? I know I've read something else where this name was spelled this way...what was that?"  I was grateful for the map of places at the front because that really helped me to orient myself as well. That confused stage of reading didn't last long before I was swept away by the characters and their stories. Kaplan does a great job bringing characters to life through his descriptions.  I've mentioned before that I am not somone who sees books come alive in my head, I read all of the Hunger Games trilogy but couldn't tell you what color Katniss' hair is supposed to be but Kaplan managed to conjure up some visuals for me. He describes Columbus/Colon as pushing, "his wavy mane, the color of wheat mixed with ash, back from his forehead" and I saw it happening. Those clear images were a treat when he was describing a romantic encounter or a dashing explorer, they were equally vivid but less appealing when he was describing the tortures of the Inquisition. The injustice of the Inquisition and the atrocities carried out in the name of God are all important elements of this time in history but hard to read about as a Catholic. The Inquisition is so appalling and I felt ashamed of my Church's history as I read. (On a side note, later the same day I found some comfort reading The Faith Club when one of the authors discussing the public perception of Islam said something along the lines of , "You wouldn't judge the whole Catholic Church based on the Inquisition.") There was a lot of history packed into this book. I was amazed that Kaplan's first book could be such a beautiful blend of fact and story. I never felt like he was lecturing  me about the time period, it was simply unfolding naturally as part of the story. That is probably the key point about whether a work of historical fiction is good or not for the average reader - the ability to make the facts come alive within the narrative. Kaplan does it beautifully and I think anyone who enjoys historical fiction will love the book.

I received this book from the author, Mitchell James Kaplan. When he contacted me, I had already read good reviews on other blogs so wasn't too worried but did have this little niggle of fear, "What if I don't like it? What would I say?"  I needn't have feared, I thoroughly enjoyed By Fire, By Water. It did, however, firm up the notion that my blog is just for posting about and talking about books - I am not a skilled book reviewer. Times like these I wish I were more articulate so I could do justice to a beautiful book, but I'm just not.

This is my first book for the Historical Fiction Challenge 2011 hosted by the ladies at Historical Tapestry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

The gang over at Historical Tapestry is hosting the Historical Fiction Challenge 2011. Click on the lovely logo for all the details. I am signing up at the Daring & Curious level committing to 5 books. I needed to get linked up because I am wrapping up my first book, By Fire, By Water, right now and I am loving it so much I want to say, "Bring on the historical fiction, sign me up for a hundred books!" but I also know my limitations so I think I'll stick with 5 and hope that I get that accomplished!

I'll keep track of my progress here...
1. By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
2. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started by Marcia at The Printed Page is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Rose City Reader. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

From the author's website: The historical novel By Fire, By Water tells the heartbreaking story of Luis de Santangel, the courtier who convinced Queen Isabella to sponsor Christopher Columbus’s voyage of discovery in 1492. Combining a passionate love story with a religious mystery, By Fire, By Water closely follows historical events during a troubled time, when the medieval social order was collapsing. First off, I had this one print book come in the mail, sent by the author for me to read and review. It's one I've seen on several other blogs with good reviews so I was excited to get a copy too. I just started reading historical fiction a year or so ago so the genre is still wide open for me and I think I will like this one a lot!

The rest of this post should be titled e-mailbox Monday. I went on a little bit of an e-book binge but it's alright because they were all (every last one of them) FREE! So, these are an assortment of titles that I would not normally pick up but I decided they look interesting enough to give a try. I had great luck with my first freebie and I have my fingers crossed that one of these will make me happy too.

From Amazon: Secrets? Bryn O'Connor is good at keeping secrets. But when a car accident reveals her boyfriend's abusive behavior, the truth is unleashed. And it starts a tidal wave of trouble in Bryn's life: enemies who were once friends, a restraining order violation, and her world unraveled. If that weren't enough, her grandmother Mim arrives, attempting Mexican cuisine and insisting that Bryn try surfing. It's all too much! Even Bryn's habit of daydreaming won't offer an escape this time. But could a mysterious book she found hold the secret to riding a tsunami like her life?

From the author's website: A bookstore in a Victorian house on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior. Mona Reynolds can’t think of a better storybook setting for a happy ending. Until someone starts to sabotage her plans. Could it be the drifter handyman she hired to help her? Just what will it take to make her dreams come true?

From the author's website: A sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity— and the very personal story of Leah, compelled into a betrothal she never wanted, drawn by a faith she never expected…

From Amazon: The tragic mystery at the heart of their family has finally surfaced . . . When Ellen Wakefield O'Connor is confronted by a young man armed with a birth certificate that mistakenly names her as his mother, she quickly sorts out the truth: his birth mother listed Ellen on the certificate to cover up her own identity, but also because Ellen is, in a way, related to the child. The birth father is Ellen's troubled husband, Tom. The secrets of the past soon engulf Ellen, Tom, and everyone they love. This drama of love, loss, family and betrayal will capture readers with its unforgettable power.

From Amazon: Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut. Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Chunkster Challenge

I finally went and saw the movie last night. I had hoped to read the book first but that didn't happen so it was a little confusing trying to figure out where they were and remember who is who and all of that. That confusion prevented me from feeling like I was really lost in an escape so my movie experience ended up being just OK rather than wondeful. It reaffirmed for me that before the second half comes out this summer, I have got to get the book read. It's a nice chunky I've got it in mind for the Chunkster challenge.

The Chunkster Challenge is being hosted at a dedicated blog by Caribou's Mom. I'm committing to "The Chubby Chunkster" that requires reading four chunksters between February 1, 2011 and January 31, 2012. I have a few books floating around already here at home that would qualify and that I would like to read (someday), Harry Potter 6 and 7, Great Expectations, Colony, Winter Solstice, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Pillars of the Earth, The Cider House Rules, Mexico, A History of God (if you include the index!), The World is Flat, War and Peace.... oh yeah, I think I have plenty of material!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Katie Up and Down the Hall by Glenn Plaskin

From Goodreads: It all begins with a random meeting between a younger man and his octogenarian neighbor, Pearl, their attachment cemented by a blond-haired puppy. It isn't long before writer Glenn Plaskin, Pearl, and her husband, Arthur, form a profound bond that blesses all in its sphere. This includes a three-year-old boy named Ryan and his single dad, John, who also happen to be living down the same hallway in a downtown Manhattan high-rise, just opposite the World Trade Center. The group gravitates around Katie, the magnetic cocker spaniel whose domain is a 120-foot red-carpeted hallway the site of dog races, obedience training sessions, Halloween parades, and a passageway to parties and late-night exchanges of confidences. With an uncanny instinct for responding to the needs of her pack, Katie merrily trots up and down her territory, navigating from apartment to apartment, pushing open the doors purposefully left ajar and bringing the entire group together.

I listened to this one on audio in my work car at the same time I was listening to War in my personal car; what an odd experience to daily go from the deep, gravelly voice of Sebastian Junger talking about gunfights and bombs and soldiers not bathing for 30 days to the soothing tones of Glenn Plaskin waxing on about the silky fur of his darling puppy and waking up next to her to smell her delicious baby powder scented belly. Though chock-full of Katie anecdotes, Plaskin's tale was more than just a love story about his dog, it had all sorts of anecdotes about Glenn's day as a celebrity interviewer that I was not expecting yet thoroughly enjoyed. But more than anything, this was a story about a group of people becoming a family and, as such, it was very tender and sweet. I'd be listening and feeling kind of sentimental and maybe even a little teary and then in just an instant it would go to borderline Saturday Night Live sketch funny as he describes his favorite portrait of his dog being the one where she is wearing the sequined dress or feeding her at the table from a plate with silverware. Plaskin through it all is just being himself, a guy who has more frou-frou taste than most girls I know and the income to support a lavish lifestyle. If I had to pick someone to meet, I'd much rather spend the day with Glenn Plaskin than with Sebastian Junger, and I have felt that way as a listener. I turn on War and kind of brace myself for what may happen but I would turn on Katie Up and Down the Hall and just relax and smile and be so happy to live vicariously in this lovely world for awhile.

Counts towards tons o' challenges....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

From Goodreads: When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.

Wow, what a lengthy description, I stuck it all here because this is a lengthy book. Long ago I read and loved She's Come Undone (pre-blogging so no link!) but I hesitated with this one because it was soooo long! A friend in California was giving it a go and I just saw the Chunkster challenge so I decide to go for it too. I got started and then figured out the Chunkster doesn't even begin until February so I tried to put it aside but I couldn't. I just had to keep reading. The book starts out in present times as the Columbine shootings unfold and at this point neither of the main characters, Caelum or Maureen, are very likable but they are interesting. As the story progresses another element is added, the discovery of family papers. This begins a second story - the "story within a story" which usually I don't care for (prime example). There is a praise quote on the back cover for his other book, I Know This Much is True that mentions "structural symmetry". I think that idea applies to this book as well, the symmetry between the two stories was obvious enough that even a relatively un-introspective reader such as myself could pick up on it. I imagine I probably only caught the broadest examples and there were other more subtle weavings together that I missed. I remember when I read She's Come Undone how amazed I was that a middle aged man could capture a girl's point of view so perfectly. With this one I was amazed at all of it, he captured the emotions of such a wide array of characters with such honesty that it was hard to tell where the real and the imagined parted ways. I guess I will have to add I Know This Much is True to my TBR list because Wally Lamb is hitting two for two thus far - this book was a home run for me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Off the Shelf Challenge

The Off the Shelf challenge is being hosted by Dutchie of Bookish Ardour at her special Challenge Blog. The intent is to read the books you already have and get them "off the shelf". I have hoarding issues with books and my list (below) is too long. I have got to stop buying books and start clearing off these shelves. So, to that end, I am signing on at the Trying level - 15 books.

I made a similar list two years in January of 2009. I did a quick count and saw that there were about sixty of the same books on this list that were on that list. That list was a little over a hundred books and this list is a little under two hundred books so I am getting worse not better.

Here's where I'll keep track of what I read for this challenge:

My TBR list...
A History of God
A Hundred and One Days
A Patchwork Planet
A Son of the Circus
A Spot of Bother
A Sudden Change of Heart
A Theory of Relativity
A Woman of Substance
Alpha Dog
Amy and Isabelle
And Then There Were None
Another City, Not My Own
Bait and Switch
Best Friends Forever
Blood Orange
Blue Shoes and Happiness
Bound South
Candy Girl
Cat and Mouse
Change of Heart
Daniel Isn't Talking
Daughter of Fortune
Dearest Cousin Jane
Decision and Destiny
Don't Blink
Double Take
Dream When You're Feeling Blue
Ella Minnow Pea
Ellen Foster
Emilie's Creative Home Organizer
Falling Angels
Financial Peace
Food Rules
Forever, Erma
Fornication: the Red Hot Chili Peppers Story
Fortune's Rock
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks
From Beginning to End
Full of Grace
Gap Creek
Gentleman & Players
Girls Night Out
Gods Behaving Badly
Hanna's Daughter
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harvesting the Heart
Heaven to Betsy
Help Yourself
Here on Earth
House of Sand and Fog
Icy Sparks
In The Company of Cheerful Ladies
In the Heart of the Sea
Innocent Traitor
Into the Beautiful North
Irish Linen
Johnny Tremain
Just A Guy
Just Like Jesus
Kiss the Girls
Kiss the Girls
Knocked Up
Life's A Beach
Little Bitty Lies
Look Me in the Eye
Lost and Found
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
Love in the Time of Cholera
Mary, Mary
Milk Glass Moon
Morality for Beautiful Girls
Mount Vernon Love story
Mountains Beyond Mountains
My Friend Leonard
My Gal Sunday
My Losing Season
One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Thousand White Women
One True Thing
Out of Egypt
Picture Perfect
Pigs in Heaven
Pillars of the Eart
Pope Joan
Power of a Woman
Praying for My life
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Prodigal Summer
Ralph's Party
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Remarkable Creatures
Resurrection Road
Running From the Devil
Safe Haven
Saint Maybe
Santa Baby
Saving Shiloh
Say When
Say You're One of Them
Searching for Caleb
Shiloh Season
Skeletons at the Feast
Skinny Dip
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Song of Solomon
Still Missing
Strangers in the House
Surrender the Pink
The Almost Moon
The Art of Choosing
The Art of Mending
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Audacity of Hope
The Blue Bedspread
The Bluest Eye
The Boleyn Inheritance
The Book of Fires
The Brethren
The Castaways
The Cider house Rules
The Color of Water
The Confident Woman
The Devotion of Suspect X
The Dogs of Babel
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Faith Club
The Four Loves
The Great Divorce
The Greatest Generation
The Hotel New Hampshire
The Hours
The Innocent
The Lace Reader
The Land of Mango Sunsets
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
The Longest Trip Home
The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living
The Map of True Places
The Matzo Ball Heiress
The Middle of Everywhere
The Opposite of Fate
The Other Boleyn Girl
The Pact
The Partner
The Patron Saint of Liars
The Power of Play
The Rainmaker
The Road to Cana
The Sacrifice
The Secret Hour
The Smart One
The South Beach Diet
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The Sugar Queen
The Sunday Wife
The Testament
The Thirteenth Tale
The Thorn Birds
The Tipping Point
The Twelth Card
The Undomestic Goddess
The Virgin Blue
The Woods
The World is Flat
Then Again, Maybe I Won't
Thinking Out Loud
Thomas Jefferson
Three Junes
Time of my Life
Tortilla Curtain
Two Little Girls in Blue
Under the Big Top
Under the Tuscan Sun
Vision in White
Walking Across Egypt
Walking the Bible
Watership Down
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
What Is Mine
Where Are You Now?
Where You Belong
While I Was Gone
Winter Solstice
Woman in Red

Monday, January 10, 2011

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

From Goodreads: When Marilla Cuthbert's brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, "But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl." It's not long, though, before the Cuthberts can't imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables--but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan. Somewhere between the time Anne "confesses" to losing Marilla's amethyst pin (which she never took) in hopes of being allowed to go to a picnic, and when Anne accidentally dyes her hated carrot-red hair green, Marilla says to Matthew, "One thing's for certain, no house that Anne's in will ever be dull."

What a delightful book! Anne, with an -e, is full of big words and imagination and a sweet, sunny disposition. It was a lot of fun to spend time in her world; her descriptions of the changing landscape of Prince Edward Island in Canada made the area come to life from me, which is unusual because I'm not big on descriptions - tend to skim over those passages. I am itching to get my hands on a copy of the movie but it's almost $20 at Amazon and our local Blockbuster doesn't carry it. My next step is checking the library. I read this book on my iPad, only the second book I have read as an e-book. I'm loving the e-book feature on the iPad and especially with books like this that are considered public domain and are available at no charge!

I read this book for the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know.

This is a classic and I am quite tardy in enjoying it! I haven't linked up to this challenge yet but have intentions to do that soon.

My second e-book ever and the first for 2011 to count towards this challenge. Another one I haven't linked to yet in the real world but in my imagination - I'm in!