"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Monday, February 28, 2011

Ten books I just had to buy...and haven't read. Ugh!

Broke and Bookish
What are ten books you just HAD to buy and you still haven't read?

I actually buy very few books for myself. I am a big user of public libraries and, of course, my own library, so I didn't think I'd find ten books that I have purchased for myself that I haven't read just lying around the house. But as I started looking through bookshelves and perusing the various book piles around the house, low and behold, I found more than ten. Here's a few of the books I just had to buy and I haven't read yet!

1.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- I bought this paperback edition of the Russian classic when I was in junior high.  I have carted it around with me for years, longer than any of book on this list.

2.  Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner- I purchased this after reading two phenomenal books by Stegner: Crossing to Safety and The Angle of Repose.  That was over ten years ago.  Hmm...

3.  A Fine Balance by Ohinton Mistry- I've had this highly recommended book around for years...will there ever be time to read it?

4.  The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz- I bought this at a bookstore at O'Hare Airport in Chicago where my husband and I were on a forced layover for over 24 hours.  I think it has too many negative feelings associated with it because of that experience for me to want to finish it.

5.  Speaking with the Angel edited by Nick Hornby- a collection of short stories that I purchased used specifically to read the short story by Hornby entitled "NippleJesus."  I did read that story but want to read more. (Yes, that story is funny, by the way.)

6.  How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster- I don't have a clue how to read literature like a professor, I haven't read the book!

7.  Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward- I bought this book at the height of my "I'm mad at George Bush" phase.  I'm over it and I never read the book.

8.  Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore- Hmmm...maybe this book just isn't my cup of tea. I typically don't read sports books.  What was I thinking when I bought it?

9.  Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver and
10. Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver- I'm a huge Kingsolver fan so I have no idea why I haven't set aside time to read these two by her but they are hanging around waiting for that time.

And this one may not count because I am currently reading it and I'm sure I'll finish it...

Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon by Jane Austen- I still have the store receipt in the book: September 10, 2010.  Not bad. Six months and I'll have it done!  Ha!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

"My Boom" things

There is a really fun Asian-fusion restaurant in Seattle called Boom Noodle. Here's what it says in its menu about the word "boom" in the name:
In Japan today there is a popular term, “my boom” that means, “The thing I am currently obsessed with.” Our “my boom” is Japanese cuisine, and we are grateful to you for letting us create our food for you.
They are into Japanese Cuisine. I'm into books and many other things. What are the things that I am currently obsessed with? Here's a few:

1.  The book Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I know this will be my favorite book club selection for the whole year and it is only February.  The book has everything that I like in a novel:
  • a strong sense of place with descriptions that make me feel like I am there--in this case it is Ethiopia;
  • quirky, interesting characters who are multi-faceted who grow and change over the years and hold fascinating conversations;
  • a thread or theme that is pulled through the story to bring a sense of connection throughout--absent parents seem present throughout this tale; 
  • and a book that causes me to learn something--I learned a bunch about the history of the Ethiopian conflict in the 1960s and 1970s plus a ton about medicine and certain medical conditions.
2.  The author John Green- Actually John Green has been my boom author for years.  I keep thinking I will find another YA author that I love as much as John and it hasn't happened yet. I've read all his books and consider myself a closet Nerdfighter (though I have trouble doing the hand sign) and enjoy watching videos of the Vlogbrothers (John and brother Hank) with my daughter Carly. Below is a video of John doing fitness for nerds.



King George VI
Mr. Darcy
3. Colin Firth is my boom actor.  This obsession with Firth was reignited after seeing the movie The King's Speech but actually started when he played Mr. Darcy in the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice.
****Update: Colin Firth just won the Academy Award for best actor!  YES!!!!!

4. My current game obsession is Wii Party, especially Swap Meet. I hate to admit it, but it is true, when I'm not reading, I'm most likely playing this game.

5.  Opals are my boom apples.  They are a new variety that look like Golden Delicious but taste like Honey Crisp.  Yum!  If you ever see them, buy them!  You won't regret it.




2/27/11 Updated #6.  Autotune the News. They had a wonderful and fun music montage on the Oscars tonight.  My favorite news stories they've  put to music are: Bed Intruder and Eccentric Witness Song. Funny. Funny. Funny.


What are you currently obsessed with? What are your booms?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I finally read it! Lord of the Flies

This week I finally read Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Now I "get it" why this book is a staple in America's high school English classes. I will no longer allow any boy to whine to me about having to read this book. It is way too exciting, too scary in it's truthful and enlightening prose about the nature of mankind.

Here are a few of the highlights for me from this reading experience.
  • A teacher referenced Lord of the Flies today and I knew what she was talking about. Ha!
  • I listened to the book on audiobook and the reader was Golding himself! He explained that he wrote the book about boys because he understands boys because he was one.  I also said that the crux of the story come when Ralph and Jack are discussing things and Jack says lets go hunt and have fun, why do we need rules anyway.  Ralph replies that rules are all they have. Watching what is happening in the world today with all of the uprisings and revolts, it sure seems that he was on to something.
  • One of my students found a connection between the Printz Honor book, Nothing by Janne Teller, and Lord of the Flies.  Now that she mentioned it I see what she means.
  • Though I've wanted to read the book for several years, I finally got to it because of the "Books I Should have Read in School...but Didn't" Challenge.  Here's a shout-out for all those challenges that get us outside our usual reading materials and force us to read books that have been on some vague list for years.
Now I am listening to A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Here's to classic literature.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Top Ten Books to Movie Adaptations


This week over at the Broke and Bookish the question is:
What are your top ten books to movie adaptations?

Some of my favorite movies are from books that I haven't read. I decided to only include movies on my list for books that I have actually read that means that I am leaving off some of my all-time favorites like Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz, and Shawshank Redemption. But here is a list of some favorite movies that I have read the books:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen--I like the Keira Knightly version but my favorite is the 1995 version with Colin Firth (swoon!) and Jennifer Ehle. It is very true to the Austen classic.


2. Holes by Louis Sachar-- The book is perfect and so is the movie...it matches the book perfectly. (2003)


 
3. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis--
The 2005 Andrew Adamson version is so true to the book and the acting and effects are well-done.

4.  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen-- The 1995 Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant version is my favorite.  The 2008 version was essentially a copy of it.

5.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling--I actually like all of the movies but I think that this one is my favorite. (2005)

6.  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell--I saw the movie before I read the book but I loved both.  I watched the movie again years later and couldn't believe how long it was. It and the book are so memorable.
(1939)

7.  Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak--I can't remember if I ever finished the book but I do remember making a go of it because I loved the 1965 movie so much.


8.  Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally--the book should be required reading as the 1993 Spielberg movie should be viewed at least once by everyone.


 
9.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman--this is the only movie on my list that I actually like better than the book, though both are good. (2007)


10.  The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis-- I love the 2008 adaptation of the book.  Caspian is much cuter than in my imagination.  Ha!



Honorable Mention:
Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg--this 1991 movie remains a favorite and it's a very readable, fun book.


What are your favorite movies that started out as books? I bet I forgot some real good ones.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Follow Friday---Science Fiction

Parajunkee's View




It's that time to find new blog friends and followers.  Spend a minute looking around my blog and follow if you like what you see.  I will do likewise.  And be sure to visit the featured blog of the day: Aaron at Dreaming About Other Worlds. (Congrats, Aaron!)

The question of the day:

If you are a fan of Science Fiction what is your favorite book? If you haven't read Science Fiction before...any inkling to? Anything catch your eye?

I honestly have read very little Science Fiction but two YA titles I have read that I liked very much are:

1.  Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (The Printz Award winner this year)
2.  Feed by M. T. Anderson (Best first line of all books!)

What about you?

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart. -- from Goodreads
I am of two minds when it comes to this book, which I listened to on audiobooks. Perhaps some of my mixed feelings comes from the format more than the book itself.  Let me speak my mind and I'll explore that idea a bit more.

What I liked:
  • It is really obvious that Donnelly put her heart and soul into writing this book.  It is meticulously researched and the musical references are amazing.They made me want to download each song and listen to them while I read.
  • The information about the French Revolution was fascinating.  I admit that I knew next-to-nothing about this time period so almost everything was news to me.   I actually believed that Amade Malherbeau and the Green Man actually existed.  So I was completely faked out.  My bad.  I don't read enough Historical Fiction even though I really like the genre. I find learning new information to be
  • The conclusion was very satisfying.
  • I enjoyed Andi's sweet, evolving relationship with Virgil.
What I didn't like:
  • Present-day Andi's attitude and the way that the adults in her life are all so inept at offering her any kind of help or sympathy. In addition, her overuse of her anti-depressants was very distressing to me.  I couldn't help thinking that she should have ended up in the hospital for an overdose.  I don't think this is a message that teens should  hear---that it OK to take more than the prescribed amounts of drugs.
  • The audio format that I listened to really emphasized the whininess of Andi's "voice".  It got to the place where I could almost not stand to listen anymore and now I've decided that I need to take a break from angst-driven YA Lit for a while.
  • The book was very long.  The parts of the story that focused on angry, sad Andi were especially tedious.  The information on the French Revolution was fine. The length of the book was probably over-emphasized in my mind since it took me over three weeks to listen to it.
Even though I have emphasized the negative aspects of this book, I really did like it and I think it will stay with me for a long time. Some stories just don't work as well in audio format as others and I think this is one of those books. If I'd been reading the book rather than listening I would have sped read through the whiny sections and savored the others.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"By fourth grade Jonathan was working independently, whiling away the hours memorizing the digits of pi. In fifth grade he studied bookkeeping on his own.  He was a math genius..."


"He skipped two grades, read Ayn Rand, and planned to go to Harvard and become President of the United States, and make a gazillion dollars."  

From: The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman  p. 116


Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday and I'm still reading....


It's Monday! What are You Reading? is hosted by One Persons Journey through a World of Books. Each week we spotlight the books we are reading, planning on reading or just finished reading.

I'm embarrassed to admit it AGAIN that I am currently stuck in slow books so my list looks very similar to the list I created two weeks ago. But here is what I'm reading, listening to, and what's on deck...

What I'm currently reading:
1.  The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman- I've only just started this book but Goodman is often compared to Jane Austen, my favorite, and the book sounds intriguing.  Here is the summary from Goodreads: "Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays." This is for book club next week.  Get cracking, Anne!

 2.  Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen- These are all short or incomplete works by Jane Austen. I'm stuck in the first story, Lady Susan, which is written in the style of personal letters.  Thought to be one of Austen's earliest attempts at writing it doesn't live up to her standards.  No wonder she never had it published in her lifetime.





 
What I'm currently listening to on audiobooks:
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly- I know, I know, I know.  I have been listening to this book for nearly three weeks. It has over 15 hours of recorded audiobooks and I am on the second-to-the-last CD. The book just took an unexpected twist which has reignited my interest.  I like the information about the French Revolution but find the modern-day story a bit tedious.  Look for my full review soon, I hope.
 



 
What I just finished:
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan- a haunting debut novel about the many faces of racism in the deep south in post WWII America.  This story still has me in its grip.

 
 



 
What I plan to listen to next:
Lord of the Flies by William Golding- I've never read this dystopian classic, plus it is only 4 1/2 CDs long.  I should be able to listen to it in a week.
 



 
What I hope to read next:
Stolen! by Lucy Christopher- this is the only remaining 2011 Printz Award/Honor book I haven't read, yet.  Kids who have read tell me it is good! I sure hope that it isn't full of whiny teenagers. I'm sick of that whiny tone-of-voice from the batch of books I've recently been reading.





What are you reading/listening to right now?



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesday
Today's Top Ten list is supposed to be TOP TEN CHARACTERS I'D NAME MY CHILDREN AFTER.

Since I can't imagine naming my children after any characters other than themselves I decided to tweak the question to TOP TEN MEMORABLE LITERARY NAMES. As I was contemplating this list I decided that I would only allow myself to list names that I can remember without looking anything up. Obviously the name is not that memorable if I can't remember it, ha! Here goes...

Top Ten Memorable Literary names:

1. Junie B. Jones---the kindergarten girl who can never remember her teacher's names and is always in trouble. (Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park)

2. Hester Pryne---in all my years of teacher, I've never had a Hester. I wonder why? (Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

3. Dumbledore; Professor Flitwit; Snape; Hagrid; Rita Skeeter; Hermione Granger; Luna Lovegood; etc.---there are so many memorable names in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, my list could go on and on.

4. Scout Finch---I think it is fun and funny when a child likes to be called by his/her nickname and then their "real" name sounds so odd. I can't even remember Scout's given name. Can you? (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

5. Ebeneezer Scrooge---a perfect curmudgeon's name. (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

6. Anne Shirley---OK, I'm a bit biased on this name since my first name is Anne and my mom's first name is Shirley. It makes it hard to forget anyway. (Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery)

7. Katniss Everdeen---that name just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? (Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins)

8. Captain Ahab---even his name makes him sound mean. (Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

9. Okonkwo---the tortured clan leader in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I confess I had to look up how to spell his name but my daughter told me that it counts since I know how to pronounce his name.

10. Sam-I-Am---"I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam-I-Am." (Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss)

11. Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Elliot--- I once had someone tell me she thought I had a Jane Austen character name.  I can see why.  Take Anne Elliot's first name and Elizabeth Bennet's last name, add a "t" and you have Anne Bennett.  Me!  (Pride and Prejudice; Persuasion)

This was fun.  What are your favorite and memorable literary character names?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jane by April Lindner

Way to go, Ms. Lindner, you have written a wonderfully romantic story that made me want to find my old copy of Jane Eyre and reread it. I think, I hope, I know that this book will introduce Jane Eyre to a whole new generation of readers because, like me, I believe that they will be enthralled and want to read the original after they consume this retelling of the classic tale.
Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.-Goodreads
Though I was hopeful I was also skeptical when I started reading Jane by Jane Lindner. I was hopeful that it would rekindle a love of Jane Eyre, yet I was skeptical that the story would actually work in modern times and with a rock star in lieu of the brooding Mr. Rochester in nineteenth century England. But work it did.  The setting, Thornfield, a heavily guarded estate in Connecticut, could easily be a home for a rich and famous rocker. Jane, a recently orphaned college freshman, seemed a good candidate to nanny Nico's daughter since she didn't have much interest in rock-n-roll and she needed to find a job to support herself. The hardest part to understand is the reticence to utilize mental health services.  Certainly things have improved for the mentally ill since the days of Charlotte Bronte.  But other than that seeming disconnect from today's reality, I was completely captivated and more than a bit swept up in this sweet love story.

Jane Lindner, an English professor, said, after seeing another retelling of a Jane Austen book, found herself wondering "..why Jane Eyre, such a great story of love and self-discovery, didn't seem to be getting the Pride and Prejudice treatment."  Since I'm a fan of those P & P rewrites I was very open to this book. She went on to say that once she figured how to bring Jane into the twenty-first-century, "I felt I'd stumbled into the project I'd been born for...Whenever I got stuck, I would open up Jane Eyre for inspiration and ideas...And if Jane sends a few readers back to Jane Eyre to see what all the fuss is about, so much the better." -from Author's notes at end of book

Like Jane Eyre? Try Jane. Never read Jane Eyre?  Reading Jane could be a great place to start. I know you'll like it as much as I did.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Read my Review: Adventure/Travel Theme



The theme of this week's Read my Review hosted by A Trillian Books is Adventure/Travel.

I chose my review of the book Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick. It is not full of
swash-buckling action but rather it is a psychological thriller, with the tension being quite palpable and dramatic. The action mainly takes place in remote and frozen Scandinavian and Canadian settings.

Please read my review and let me know what you think, either in the comment section here there. Thanks so much for your feedback.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top Ten Best Debut Books

The Broke and Bookish

This week's top ten topic is debut books. This provided me with a significant challenge since I rarely pay attention to whether a book is a debut novel for an author. This topic, therefore, presented me with an opportunity to do some good research and I am very pleased with what I discovered. See what you think and let me know if I missed some other debut novels that you feel are worth of a Top Ten billing.

Top Ten Best Debut Novels

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960
To be fair, this was her only novel. But I believe that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best books every written, so it deserves top billing on my list.



2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 1967
Susan Eloise Hinton started writing The Outsiders when she was 18 years old. According to Wikipedia it is now the second-bestselling young adult novel in publishing history. Though it was written in the 1960s its themes are still relevant today.


3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, 1999
Speak was Ms. Anderson's debut YA novel. Few Printz award books have stood the test of time the way this book has. Its message of the importance of the need to speak up in the face of trouble is still an important message today.


4. Looking for Alaska by John Green, 2005
This gem of a book launched John Green's writing career. It is a marvelous mixture of funny and poignant-a perfect YA novel.



5. Eragon by Christopher Paolini, 2003
This magical fantasy book was written by Paolini when he was a teenager. I can't help but think about how amazing his imagination is when I read it or the sequel books.



6. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, 2003
An amazing book. It is hard to believe that it was from a debut author.



 
7. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, 1988
I'm a huge Kingsolver fan. This book demonstrated her concern for social justice and equal rights that she has continued to champion throughout her writing career.



8. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, 2002
I can still recall crying for the first 72 pages of this book when I read it nearly ten years ago. It remains popular in my library today.



9. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 2003
This book was a slow-starter for me but once I picked up momentum I was swept up in the love story that traveled through time.



10. Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, 2002
This story really touches my heart. I've reread it several times and always "feel" it at my core.




11. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, 2003
I really like Bray's writing style and this is the first book of a fabulous series.





Honorable Mention:
-Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going- a funny, yet touching YA story, 2003
-Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick- a sweet, thoughtful YA story published in 2010.
-The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson- my favorite YA book of 2010