Sunday, December 23, 2007


I left my power cable at work, and I had meant to update a bit over the holiday. Right now I'm sitting in the car with a car adapter so I can get my computer fix (thank goodness for wireless!). So here's a quick update.

I finished The Queen's Fool the other day. I'll write a proper review when I can sit longer, but I loved the book. Can't wait to read more Philippa Gregory!

I started Becky yesterday and am already very much enjoying this book.

I also started Blackthorn Winter, which is the second book of that title I've read this year. It is on the Name that Book list I'm reading from, but there are several books with this title, and I originally checked out the wrong one. I've now got the right one and want to finish it by the end of the year for the novelty of having read 2 books with the same title in one year. Yeah, I'm a dork.

We're almost finished with When Santa Fell to Earth. On that note, I should go inside so I can read to my children...

Happy holidays, in case I don't get to post again soon!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

This is the first Christopher Moore book I've read, and I can't wait to read more! I love a book that makes me laugh!

When Charlie Asher loses his wife soon after his daughter, Sophie, is born, he's not sure he can go on. But his new jobs as daddy and "Death Merchant" give him something to live for. Who'da thunk death could be so funny. With characters like Minty Fresh, the enormous black man who dresses in mint green suits, Ray Macy, the former cop who can't move his neck due to an injury in the line of duty, and Lilly Severo, the goth store clerk/chef, amusing antics are sure to develop.

Fun read!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cyrano by Geraldine McCaughrean

Prior to reading this book, my only previous exposure to the story of Cyrano de Bergerac was the 1980s movie adaptation, Roxanne, with Steve Martin. Sad, I know.

I have to say, I quite liked this book. It was a nice, short read, and I really liked McCaughrean's writing style. Obviously, the story is very different from the Steve Martin movie (no lovestruck firefighters :-) ).

I never would have picked this up if it weren't on the list for the Name that Book competition. That's the fun thing about reading from a list like that; you're exposed to different types of books than you might ordinarily pick up.

Overall, I just haven't gotten a lot of reading done lately, so having a quick read like this was great (it was only 116 pages long). I'd like to read another version sometime to see how much like the original this was.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christine Kringle and other stuff

I received my copy of Christine Kringle in the mail today! Yay! I'm looking forward to reading that.

I got Becky on Friday, but need to finish up a couple of other books before I start a new one. I'm about 2/3 through both The Queen's Fool and A Dirty Job, and I'm almost done with Cyrano (which I don't think I've even mentioned here...). I'm still waiting to receive Dreamers of the Day, but that's ok, since I can't start reading it yet anyway.

My reading has sssslllooowwweeeddd down a bit lately. I'm just too tired to read much before bed. I read a few pages (if I'm lucky) and fall asleep. I have a new "system" going right now to help me get through the books I've started - I (typically) bring one to work with me, which I read while waiting for the shuttle and at lunch, read one while we read silently as a family, and read one before bed. Whichever one I read at bed is usually the one I bring to work the next day, since I've rarely gotten very far before I fall asleep. This way I'm getting a good 45 minutes read of at least one book a day, and by alternating, they're all getting a fair shake. I've really whittled my "currently reading" stack down for now, and I'm hoping to bring it down to only 1 or 2 personal reads (our read-aloud doesn't count, nor does my commute audiobook). Who am I fooling???

Friday, December 7, 2007

Every Past Thing by Pamela Thompson

Every Past Thing is a very complicated book. I can’t say that I liked the book as a whole, but the more I read, the more I became wrapped up in the novel. This is not a novel to curl up with on a rainy day and get lost in. It is a very difficult read, at times painfully boring. Pamela Thompson’s prose is dense and challenging, but altogether beautiful. She is a very talented writer. She needs to be taken in small bites and savored, chewed on for a bit. By the end of the novel I cared very deeply for Mary and Edwin. Their discontent was palpable, so much that it made me uncomfortable at times.

One of the things I loved about this novel was the way Thompson revealed little bits at a time about Mary and Elmer’s past. You really didn’t learn the whole story about the relationship between Mary, Elmer, and Elmer’s brother Samuel until the very end.

I thought she handled Mary’s “search” for Jimmy Roberts, a man she had a brief relationship many years before, artfully. I quote “search” because I don’t feel Mary was really looking for Jimmy as much as hoping she might encounter him. And the near misses were brilliant.

Thompson’s inclusion of Emerson quotes throughout the novel delighted me, although I still find him very difficult to read.

When I first started this book, up until maybe 2/3 of the way through it, I thought I would never recommend it to anyone. So dry, so difficult. But something happened near the end. I now say, pick it up if you’re brave. Be willing to give it some time. Just bury yourself in it, and find Thompson’s rhythm. It might surprise you.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Holy cow, I'm on a roll!

A big thanks to Booklogged, author of the blog A Reader's Journal! I won the copy of Christine Kringle by Lynn Brittney she is giving away! I am really looking forward to reading that when we finish When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke.

I received my copy of Becky in the mail today. I love new books so much!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Double the good luck!

I found out today I'm getting one of the Early Review copies from the bonus batch in November, too! And best of all, it's the new Mary Doria Russell!, Dreamers of the Day. I haven't read anything of hers yet, but I have heard such glowing reviews of The Sparrow and Children of God that I just can't wait to read this one! I can't believe my luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Yes! I snagged another Early Review book from LibraryThing! I'm getting Becky by Lenore Hart, which is about an adult Becky Thatcher, of Tom Sawyer fame, telling her story. It sounds like a great read!

I'm making progress with my first Early Review copy, Every Past Thing by Pamela Thompson. I'll save my thoughts for a full-on review when I finish it. My feelings about it are quite complicated.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I love the fact that the one store I like to hit after Thanksgiving, Borders, is usually not insanely busy. We live about 5 minutes from a Borders, too, which makes it even better.

Today we got started on our holiday shopping. I had seen that Borders had quite a few movies on sale for $8.99, which is what got me there. We didn't find any movies we wanted, or wanted to give, but we did get some books for the kids. For the daughter, we got The Daring Book for Girls, A Guide to Wizards of the World, and When the Wind Blows by James Patterson. I hope this wasn't a mistake - she's obsessed with the Maximum Ride series, which is marginally related to this adult book of his, and she's been begging me to let her read it. I've been reluctant, as she's 11, but after leafing through it at the library and finding a kid's review on Amazon, I decided to go ahead and let her read it. After all, I wasn't much older than she is when I started reading Stephen King, which is almost certainly more mature than James Patterson...

For the boy, we got the Artemis Fowl graphic novel and The Dangerous Book for Boys. We're also going to get him Encyclopedia Horrifica, but Borders didn't have it in stock today.

Amazingly, neither I nor the husband bought anything for ourselves!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Outside and Inside Mummies by Sandra Markle

This book is my latest read from the Texas Bluebonnet Nomination list. I have always loved informational books like this, so it was a fun read. Even more fun for me was that the first 1/3 or so dealt with radiology of mummies. Being a librarian in a hospital imaging department, I am inundated with this stuff on a daily basis, and, in fact, one of the faculty members I help out on a regular basis is researching paleo-radiology. I recently was able to borrow a book for him of original x-rays of mummies from the 1850s! My first thought as I was reading this book was that I should buy a copy for Dr. M for Christmas. I actually may buy a copy for my library, even though it would really be a novelty item.

The other 2/3 of the book dealt with other biological investigations of mummies, such as looking at samples under the microscope of parasites found in the intestines. Fascinating!

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Estrella and Catalina have been friends since birth. Estrella thinks they look just like sisters. Both are Spanish Catholics, but Estrella attends a different church than Catalina, even though Catalina's church is nearer to Estrella's home. Catalina is betrothed to Andres, but when Estrella suddenly finds herself looking at Andres in a different light, her relationship with Catalina begins to change.

Set against a backdrop of the Spanish Inquistion, this story brings in friendship, betrayal, fear, and true love.

My only experience with Alice Hoffman's books was Ice Queen, which I really didn't like at all, so I was a little wary going into this one. I was very pleasantly surprised! I devoured this book, and now I really want to read more of Hoffman's books. I'm particularly keen to read Practical Magic, as the movie is one of my favorite movies of all times.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It was a good idea in theory

So I've been trying to whittle down the books in my reading stack and was doing good. Then I started reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I'm just not loving. But I really want to have read it, so I'm persevering. Slowly. Then I started feeling guilty for not having started Every Past Thing yet, which I received as an Early Reviewer on LibraryThing. So I started it, too. Not loving it, either. But as I don't want to hurt my chances of getting more review copies, I'm determined to finish it and write a review for it.

So I was in dire need of something I was really enjoying. In my search, I picked up The Queen's Fool last night and think this is going to fill the gap. Never mind that I fell asleep several pages in - that's just me.

In other news, I finished The Princess Bride this past week - enjoyed it but wouldn't count it as a favorite. I also finished listening to Outlander, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Will listen to more in the series as the mood strikes me.

I picked up Incantation by Alice Hoffman (the next on the Name that Book list) and have liked what I've read so far. It seems like it will be a pretty quick read. It feels like it will tie in nicely with The Queen's Fool. Most of the books I'm reading from that list are library books, which need to be quick! I've managed to get 4 books purchased by my local library from that list, so yay!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Love the Half Price Book shoppin'

My daughter had a birthday party to go to tonight, so my husband, son, and I spent the afternoon/evening shopping and eating. After the candy store and dinner, we made our way to Half Price Books. Love that store! I didn't spend a lot, but enjoyed browsing. I picked up Witch Girl by Celia Rees, which has been on my wishlist for ages. My son picked three nonfiction animal books, and I bought the 5th Series of Unfortunate Events book (The Austere Academy) for my daughter.

Last night we went to Borders to buy a birthday gift and I got Julie & Julia by Julie Powell off the bargain shelf. That's another one that's been on my wishlist forever.

Ah, the book love.

We also went to Lowe's and bought paint, so, even though I'm on vacation next week, I won't be getting in much reading, as I plan to paint the family room. Priorities...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

It's been ages since I saw this movie, and I'm so glad I really didn't remember anything about the movie other than that it starred Kevin Spacey. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could hear the Georgia accent in my head throughout. The characters were fascinating, and the story was gripping (especially since I couldn't remember how it turned out...). Even though the book is nonfiction, it reads like fiction. Murder, voodoo, drag queens. What's not to love? This is probably one of my favorite nonfiction books I've ever read. This also makes 3 books finished for the Unread Authors challenge.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A new challenge

I saw this challenge and couldn't pass it up, especially since it's being hosted by a 10-year-old reader!

The challenge is to choose one book from each of the following categories; time period Jan - Dec 2008.

1. A book with a color in its title.
Blackthorn Winter by Kathryn Reiss

2. A book with an animal in its title.
Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

3. A book with a first name in its title.
by Geraldine McCaughrean

4. A book with a place in its title.
Pompeii: Lost and Found by Mary Pope Osborne

5. A book with a weather event in its title.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

6. A book with a plant in its title.
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some Reviews and such

I just updated my sidebar and realized there are several books I haven't even given a nod.

Year of the Dog by Grace Lin: This was cute, but nothing that remarkable. I enjoyed it most, because I had heard her speak at TLA and knew that all of the happenings in the story were based on true events. I think maybe it was just slightly below my preferred reading level.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean: This was a rolicking good read! I think the whole family enjoyed this, and we'll probably read the second in the series at some point.

Aurora County All-Stars: My daughter and I listened to this on our morning commute. All Stars is the third novel by Deborah Wiles; the others are Each Little Bird That Sings and Love, Ruby Lavender. I think Ms. Wiles is my current favorite children's (chapter) book writer. The books are set in rural Mississippi, about halfway or so between where my husband and I grew up, and I can so relate. She is a master of setting and characterization. And All Stars throws in a lot of Walt Whitman, too, which prompted my and my daughter to go buy a copy of Leaves of Grass. Unfortunately, my daughter was a little disenchanted once she actually tried to *read* Whitman. She is, after all, only 11. I think the snippets we heard, though, were a good exposure.

I picked up Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil this weekend, and this is the first time in a while I've not wanted to put a book down. I had forgotten it is nonfiction, and almost put it down when I realized, because I wasn't really in the mood for nonfiction. However, this reads just like a fiction book, and Berendt's portrayal of Savannah, GA is just captivating. I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Review and challenge summary

I did it! With just hours to spare, I finished House of Leaves, thus completing the RIP II Challenge. And a challenge it was, indeed. (FOrgive my shoddy typing, I got a paper cut UNDER my pinkie nail and am having a hard time typing with a bandaid on that finger!) For the challenge I also planned to read short stories, but ended up giving that up about a month into the challenge. Just couldn't find the time.

Now for the review. I have to say, I was greatly disappointed with this book. I didn't find it in the least bit scary. In fact, I thought it was horribly boring. There were parts I liked. Actually, any of the story about the house and Navidson's family caught my attention. And I liked the letters in the appendix at the end - really shed a light on the book (heh heh...pun not intended - but you'll only get that if you read the book). I was VERY glad to be done with it, but I was determined to actually finish it. Phew! Now I can move on to something else.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I noticed that I accidentally posted my review of The Blue Ghost on this blog instead of my children's lit blog. I think I might abandon the other one and just do all my reviews here. It feels redundant. I hardly have time to keep up one blog, much less two, anyway. (Not to mention my personal Live Journal...)

This week I finished two books. The Blue Ghost, which I already reviewed, and The Good Earth, which I'll try to review soon. I've now finished two books for the Unknown Authors challenge which I'm participating in (Going Postal and The Good Earth). I'm not immediately starting the next on my list for that challenge (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) since I have so many other books going, and I'm trying to trim the list down a bit. I've picked up Fast Food Nation as a more steady read - I had been just reading it here and there.

I'm pretty close to being done with House of Leaves. This book sure fits the definition of challenge. I'll be glad when I'm done.

I have picked up another off the nominee list for the Texas Bluebonnet Award - The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin. I saw Lin speak at the Texas Library Association conference last spring and have been really wanted to read this book since then. It's cute so far, but not mind-shattering.

Today I took my daughter to Barnes & Noble to use a gift card she got for her birthday. I can't remember the name of the book she bought, but it looked good. She bought The Name of This Book Is a Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. From the bargain shelf I bought Thud! by Terry Pratchett, not realizing my husband had already bought it. We're either going to Bookcross it or bookmooch it. He wants to release it at the coffeeshop we frequent by our house, which I think's a pretty good idea. I also bought The Dewey Decimal System of Love, a corny romance novel with a librarian as the protagonist. It was just too cheesy to pass up! My last buy was a new copy of The Golden Compass, since I can't find our copies of His Dark Materials. I think we must have given them to a friend, but I can't imagine why we would have done that, knowing the girl will want to read them...

It's supposed to get cool tomorrow, and I would love to just curl up with a book. Alas, work beckons...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Blue Ghost by Marion Dane Bauer

I wasn't very impressed with this Bluebonnet nominee. It was a sweet story, but I think this level books are just lacking. I can see how it would be an enticing choice for someone at that level, though.

Liz is the 5th Elizabeth in a long line of women family members. While staying at her grandmother's cabin, she encounters the ghost of the first Elizabeth and her children. Liz's encounter makes a lasting impression on Elizabeth's daughter (the 2nd Elizabeth), as you discover at the end of the story.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Live and in person

I read other people's "Booking Through Thursday" posts every week, but I haven't ever posted my own. Mostly because I read posts at work, but can't post from my work computer. I really wanted to answer this week's question, though.

  • Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Gotten their autograph?
Being a librarian in a large metropolitan area, I actually get this opportunity pretty regularly. I haven't met as in sat down and talked with a favorite author, but in the past three years I've gotten books autographed by Libba Bray, Rick Riordan, Graeme Base, and Garth Nix (actually, my husband got this one, but I was with him). The best was Libba Bray, because she had mentioned in her talk that all her fans were girls, and my husband loves her books. I told her this and she signed Rebel Angels "to her lone male groupie" or something similar. Graeme Base was really cool, too, because he draws pictures with his autograph. I bought The Eleventh Hour (which has a birthday theme) for my daughter's 8th birthday, and he drew a "happy birthday" picture.

  • How about an author you felt only so-so about, but got their autograph anyway? Like, say, at a book-signing a friend dragged you to?
I've gotten a couple of books autographed at library conferences by authors I didn't know.

  • How about stumbling across a book signing or reading and being so captivated, you bought the book?
Haven't had this happen, unless you count the library conference book signings.

Sunday Summary

You know, I don't think there's really much to say this Sunday. I haven't finished anything this week, but I did pick up The Blue Ghost by Marion Dane Bauer. This is one of the Texas Bluebonnet Nominees for this year, which I'm slowly but surely working through. I read half in one sitting, but haven't had time to finish yet.

I feel myself slowing down with the reading for a little while. Christmas is coming all too soon, and I want to do some crochet projects for friends and for teacher gifts. I suspect most of my reading time is going to be over lunch and at bedtime. But even bedtime lately has been skimpy on the personal reading. For the past few years we've had silent reading time as a family, followed by a chapter or two from whatever current read-aloud we have going. Life has been so busy that all we've really had time for most nights is the read-aloud.

Only so many hours in a day...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

This is the first Terry Pratchett book I've read, and it most definitely won't be my last. This book had me cracking up often, and I just loved it.

Moist von Lipwig is a crook who is given a reprieve from death if he'll just take the job of postmaster of Ankh-Morpork. Suddenly Moist finds himself with a golem for a bodyguard and a wreck of post office to somehow bring back to life. And much to his bemusement, he finds he cares!

Going Postal is an installment in the Discworld series, which does not need to be read in any particular order. This is as good a place to start as any if you are interested in a highly entertaining read!

Sunday Summary

This has been a good book week, I think. Here's where I stand:


Going Postal
(review to follow)

In progress:

House of Leaves
- I'm allocating 30 minutes a day to this. I will finish it!
The Princess Bride - This book is so great so far! When I first saw the movie almost 20 years ago (OMG, how on earth has that been 20 years????) I thought it was incredibly stupid. But over the years, it really grew on me. This is supposed to be a "side read," with me only reading it during our family reading time, it seems to have maneuvered itself into "main book" position.
The Good Earth - I just started this on Wednesday or Thursday. At first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it, but I seem to be getting drawn into it. This was supposed to be my new "main" book, but it's sort of become my lunchtime/wait-for-the-shuttle book.
Outlander - Still plugging along on this audiobook. I've become emotionally involved with the characters now...
Vampirates - The fam's still enjoying this one.
Fast Food Nation - I say this in progress, but I haven't read any of it this week. Not sure I'm invested in it yet.

Starting this week:

Aurora County All-Stars - This is the third novel by Deborah Wiles, all based in rural Mississippi. The first two were just so good: Each Little Bird that Sings and Love, Ruby Lavender. This isn't a series, but they're all interconnected, if only by a reoccurring character or two. My daughter and I are going to listen to All-Stars on our morning commute.

I was going to do a challenge update, but I think I'll make that a monthly post and wait until 11/1 to do an update.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Banned Books Week

In the spirit of banned books week , I purchased this book for my (almost) 11-year-old daughter. Knowledge is power!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Summary

Let's just do a quick "where do I stand" for this summary:

Fast Food Nation: Just barely started this; can't wait to delve more
An Abundance of Katherines: Finished last night
The Sorceror: Finished Tuesday
Going Postal: Still working on this; should finish it this week. Fun read!
House of Leaves: Still trudging along here. I'm pretty disappointed in this. Not what I expected.
Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean: This is a pretty fun read. I think we're all enjoying it as our current bedtime book.
The Princess Bride: This one will replace An Abundance of Katherines, being on the high school Name that Book list. I'll start it tonight.
Outlander (audio): Still plugging along her. I'm a couple of hours into the 2nd part (it's divided into 3 parts by Audible). It's a great story so far, and I quite like the narrator!

Short Story Sunday

I'm not doing so great with Short Story Sunday. Last Sunday was crazy, and I started "The Birds" by Daphne DuMaurier. I had no idea the Hitchcock movie was based on a short story by DuMaurier! Unfortunately, I fell asleep before I could finish it, and never finished it over the week.

That said, I have listened to my share of spooky short stories this week, as my daughter and I are listening to a compilation called Even More Short & Shivery retold by Robert D. San Souci. These are short and, well, I can't say sweet. They're a little on the creepy side, and perfect for the RIP II challenge. Unfortunately, I can't remember any of the details about titles, etc. to write reviews...

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I adored this book. This may well be my favorite book I've read so far this year. I had a great review in my head last night, but I must have been half asleep because I can't remember squat now.

Colin Singleton was a child prodigy. Now, having just graduated from high school, he realizes he's just a kid who remembers things really well and to be remembered he needs to do something great. So he sets out to devise a theorem that can predict how a relationship will turn out based on the propensity for being dumped versus being a dumper and other factors. He has lots of experience, having been dumped so far by 19 girls named Katherine.

An unlikely cast: Colin, the child prodigy; Hassan, his Muslim best friend; Lindsay Lee Wells, a teenage girl from Gutshot, TN; and a gaggle of backwoods Tennessee characters.

This book is so incredibly sweet, and absolutely hilarious. Read it!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My system's falling apart!

I've posted before about my system for reading so many books at a time. Well, it's completely gone to hell in a hand basket! I'm trying to reduce the number of books, but I ended up picking up Fast Food Nation this week, bringing me back up to, I think, 6 books. Besides that, my "when" for each book is just not there. I've got 2 main books going, Going Postal and House of Leaves, and my plan was to alternate between the two, toting them back and forth to work, now that I've finished The Sorceror. I decided that House of Leaves is just too weird for reading over lunch, so I've just been reading Going Postal. Except for yesterday, when I brought both Going Postal and Fast Food Nation to work with me, and read FFN while waiting for the shuttle and GP at lunch. And then there's An Abundance of Katherines, which I'm just adoring and can't seem to put down once I start reading it! So, my system right now is, ahhh screw it, read what you want!

The Sorceror: Metamorphosis by Jack Whyte

This is the final installment in Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles. I think this was probably one of my favorites of the 6 books in the series, but I found it horribly dissatisfying at the end. Whyte leaves a lot of questions unanswered, things that were foreshadowed, and it just felt incomplete. After checking his website ( , though, I did find that, after some persuasion, Whyte did decide to complete Arthur's story in the Golden Eagle miniseries of books, of which The Lance Thrower is the first. One of these days I'll probably pick that one up, but I'm taking a break for now. Overall, I highly recommend this series, but don't expect it to have all the ends neatly tied up when you finish it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Summary

I feel like I sort of already did this on Friday, but I really do want to try to establish a pattern, so I'll do a quick summary.

I didn't finish anything this week, but I did start An Abundance of Katherines, which, as I mentioned in my last post, is freakin' hilarious. I highly recommend this book.

I'll finish The Sorceror probably midweek, but I'm not planning to pick up a new book to replace it. Instead, my current plan is to tote my "main" book (well, right now I have two "main" books, which I'm alternating between) back and forth between work and home. I'll be glad to focus my reading a bit more for a while, I think.

That said, my daughter asked me if I could get an audiobook for us to listen to on the way to school in the mornings, so looks I'll be adding something new after all. Gonna go browse when I finish this post to see what looks fun.

We're a little less than halfway through reading Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean for bedtime. I tried to read this a while back but didn't get very far. I'm not sure why, as it's really very good! This makes a nice addition to the RIP II Challenge that I'm participating in.

House of Leaves has finally gotten a little freaky. I'm not sure it's living up to all the hype, though. But I'll reserve judgment.

Still loving Going Postal. I wish I had given Terry Pratchett a chance sooner.

And I guess that's about it for today! I still need to read a short story for Short Story Sunday. It's been a really busy day...

Friday, September 21, 2007


Gosh, it's been much longer than I thought since I posted. Life has just been so busy.

A couple of quick reviews:

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix: This was a great YA thriller. Serious pop fiction for kids. Bethany has been left with an aunt she didn't know she had, and her parents are MIA. After some disconcerting reactions to her appearance by people in her aunt's little town, Bethany begins to have lots of questions about her parents' past and her own.

For Short Story Sunday this week, I read a story out of Stephen King's Everything's Eventual called "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away." It wasn't sufficiently creepy enough to count, though, in my opinion. It's about a traveling salesman who collects graffiti from bathrooms along his travel and the decision he is facing.

I started An Abundance of Katherines, which is on the high school Name that Book reading list, and so far it is hilarious. I love books that make me laugh out loud.

I also finished Maximum Ride: Saving the World, the 3rd in James Patterson's YA series. It was ho-hum. My daughter loved it, but I found it annoying. Stupid things like Fang wanting to know if there was a way to e-mail all the kids in the world at once, and the computer geek telling him yes. My daughter will read the next in the series in the spring, but I think I've had enough of Max and the Flock.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday Summary

I'm going to start something new and do a sort of week in review on Sundays, updating on the books I've been reading during the week, thoughts and such.

I already posted reviews of May Bird and First Among Sequels, both of which I finished this week, so I won't revisit those.

The Sorceror: I'm a little over halfway through this; should finish the last week of September given my reading rate. I read this at work over lunch and typically get in about 20 pages per day, barring lunchtime meetings, etc. I like this series of books (Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte), but I'm ready to be finished. I think this is the last in the series, other than 2 books that are sort of companion books but not crucial to the story. I think I'll pass on those and call it quits after this one (unless I realize that the story isn't wrapped up at the end of this one).

House of Leaves: This is by no means a quick read. It is in the form of a documentary, with lots of footnotes (some rambling on for pages). It's starting to get creepy, though, and I am enjoying it. I knew it was a slow read going into it, so no surprises there.

Going Postal: I'm loving this so far. This is the first Terry Pratchett I've read, and it's so funny. I haven't had enough time to really get into it, though, which has been disappointing.

Double Identity: This is the YA book I'm reading right now (off the Texas Bluebonnet list). It's sort of pop fiction for teens/tweens and really good. It's a quick read, but I only read it right before the kids' bedtime, so it's taking me a little while to get through it. It's one that could easily be read in a sitting, if I had the time.

Outlander: I started this years ago and left the book at my brother's house and never picked it up again. I decided to listen to it on my commute, and I'm glad I did (even though it is a whopping 30+ hours of listening time!). The narrator is excellent. Lovely British accent with wonderful Scottish accents when necessary. I'm only about an hour into it right now, so that's about all I have to say for now.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean: We started this book for bedtime this week, after finishing May Bird. I had put it down after starting it last year, but have since read several really good reviews of it. So of course I had to pick it back up. Hopefully the kids will like it!

Maximum Ride: Saving the World: I'm almost done with this. It's actually a good thing when my "waiting" book takes me a long to get through, because that means I'm not having to stand and wait for the shuttle to/from my parking garage hasn't been too terrible. I'll write more about this one when I finish it, hopefully sometime this week.

I'm sort of overwhelmed with all my books right now and am trying to decide how to trim that number down. The problem is that I am somewhat compulsive about reading and can't stand to stick to just one, and all of them have their place! I'm thinking I might make one book my "main" book and carry it around with me, as well as read it at home. The whole "waiting" book is a relatively recent addition and not absolutely necessary. I've also considered cutting out my work book and just toting my "main" book back and forth. That's actually probably what I'm going to do once I finish The Sorceror. That would trim it down to my main book, a children's book, and an audiobook. Much more manageable.

Short Story Sunday: "The Cyprian Cat" by Dorothy L. Sayers

Being a cat lover, I just had to read this selection from Witch's Brew. The writing style for this short story is conversational - you are intended to be listening in on a statement being made to, I suppose, a detective or other investigator after a crime has been committed. Main characters are the narrator (whose name we don't know), Merridew, Merridew's wife Felice, and lots of cats. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although, it became apparent to me just where it was going about halfway through. I think my favorite character was Felice. I'm going to have to read more stories by Sayers!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

I'm not sure how I got into the habit of listening to the Thursday Next series instead of reading it, but there ya go. First Among Sequels is the 5th in this series by Jasper Fforde. I read the first one, The Eyre Affair, about a year and a half ago while recovering from surgery (tip: don't try to read while on Vicodin) and have listened to all the others on my commute. I tend to try not to bog myself down in series, since there's so much else I want to read, so if I like the first in the series, I'll tend to listen to the others. There's no real system, though...

Fans of the other books in the Thursday Next series won't be disappointed with this most recent installment. Thursday is back, this time 14 years after the previous book ended. As always, the literary references are delightful, and Fforde's wordplay never fails to crack me up. The best in this one is "Ann Worthless Schitt." (This brings up one of the downsides of listening to the books - I have no idea how that is actually spelled.) We are re-introduced to Friday (and Friday and Friday) as a slacker teenager, and we meet Tuesday and Jenny. We hear about Sherlock Holmes, and we meet Tempe Brennan (from the Kathy Reichs books). Oh, and how could I forget, Thursday 1-4 and Thursday 5!

The one thing that was very aggravating, and it probably wouldn't have bothered me as much in print, was a particular technique Fforde used a couple of times involving time manipulation. If you read it (or have read it) you likely no what I'm talking about.

Overall, I recommend the book to any fans (and recommend the series to the uninitiated), but I highly recommend reading it in book form and finding other titles to listen to, if that's your thing.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Lamp by Agatha Christie

I'm delighted to have started reading for the R.I.P. II Challenge
yesterday by picking up House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and even more delighted that it's already Sunday, so I could read an eerie short story for Short Story Sunday!

My first pick for this part of the challenge was "The Lamp" by Agatha Christie. To my knowledge, I've never read an Agatha Christie (short story or otherwise), so when I saw a selection by her in Witches' Brew I decided to give her a try. "The Lamp" is truly a short story, in that it is only 9 pages long and is a very quick read. My memories of reading short stories is that there is often hidden meaning and, while short, they are often quite complex. I found "The Lamp" to be simple and rather sweet. In the story, a very practical woman, Mrs. Lancaster ("...tall, with much dark brown hair just tinged with gray and rather cold blue eyes"), purchases a long-empty house said to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy who is often heard crying. Mrs. Lancaster moves into the home with her father and young son, and while Mrs. Lancaster is closed to the possibility of a haunting, her father and son are aware of the young ghost's presence and want to help him. I won't give any more away!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale

I started out loving this book and fully expected to add it to my favorites when done. However, it sort of lost its luster somewhere along the way. Still, it was a very good book and does certainly make the cut (so far) as one of the best books I've read this year.

I can't really find the words to say what I thought of this book. It drew me in with its talk of books at the beginning, but overall it was the story of Angelfield that was so haunting.

I have two quotes that I marked, which I'll share.

"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes -- characters even -- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you."

and from the same page...I know this feeling so well. I have this very distinct memory of sitting in chemistry class in high school and being called on by the teacher while I was in another world. This describes that feeling perfectly.

"I jerked out of my reverie and fumbled for an answer. Had I been listening? At that moment I couldn't have told her what she had been saying, though I'm sure that somewhere in my mind there was a place where it was all recorded. But at that point when she jerked me out of myself, I was in a kind of no-man's-land, a place between places. The mind plays all kinds of tricks, gets up to all kinds of things while we ourselves are slumbering in a white zone that looks for all the world like inattention to the onlooker."

Other reviews can be found here:
Bookin' It
Reading Adventures

Friday, August 31, 2007

Reading and posting

When I created this blog, I really intended to be more prolific. And I still have hopes. Unfortunately, life is busy and I'm not finding as much time to post as I like. I'm also reading more slowly, which means I don't have a lot to post about! I am, however, reading lots of blogs and getting ideas for more books to add to my wishlist.

As you can see on my sidebar, I'm currently working on 6 books. I'm almost finished with The Thirteenth Tale (which, since Carl said we could start early, I'll count as one of my books for the RIP II challenge), but not too far along in anything else. The timing is great, because I'll finish The Thirteenth Tale just in time to pick up new books for the challenges I'm doing.

I got Witch's Brew from the library last night, which I saw mentioned on someone's blog (sorry, I can't remember whose!), and will choose a few short stories from there for the RIP II challenge, too. I'm excited about this!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

I think I'm going to have to add this book to my list of favorites. Roy's writing style is just absolutely beautiful. Her descriptions are amazing. I kept finding descriptions I wanted to note, but there were just so many that it seemed pointless. The whole book is just one big memorable quote.

The God of Small Things is most certainly not an upbeat book. Roy uses foreshadowing through most of the book leading up to the tragedy that shaped the entire Ipe family's modern history. You know the tragedy happened very early on in the book, but you don't find out exactly what happened until later on. Roy doesn't tell her story in a linear fashion - the book jumps all over the place, but in this particular case, that just adds to the beauty of the book.

I found it interesting that 95% of the book was written in this poetic, whimsical style, but when Roy finally decided to tell the official story of what happened (probably 3/4 of the way through the book), she reverts to a strictly narrative style. Just the facts, ma'am. Very clever.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

R.I.P. II Autumn Reads Challenge

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year, so this challenge just completely drew me in. After reading through the different perils, I think I'm going to have to be conservative this year and do Peril the Fourth, in which I am only required to read one book. With such a short timespan and so many other books going at the same time, I'm not sure I can get in more than one, and certainly not 4. I am also going to add on the Short Story Sunday Peril, as I would love to read more spoooky short stories!

My book for the challenge will be House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. For the short stories, we have a Poe anthology around her somewhere, and my husband has a Stephen King collection. I may also pick up something more diverse from the library.

Unread Authors Challenge

I'm taking the plunge. I'm joining two challenges. I've been debating this for a while, since I have so many books on my TBR pile, but I just can't resist. I have, however, made my own stipulation. The books I choose must be ones I already own. So that said, on to my first challenge, the Unknown Authors challenge. Not all of my choices are "literary," but they're all authors I haven't read before.

Here's my list:

  • Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
  • John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Philippa Gregory, The Queen's Fool
  • Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth
  • Tess Gerritsen, The Surgeon
    Diana Abu-Jaber, Crescent (I changed my mind...)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

My husband borrowed this from one of his students months ago, and I had started reading it in the car one day but never picked it back up. Since he has to give it back tomorrow, I decided to finish it today. I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels, but I really like the premise of this story: fairy tale characters living in the modern world, in exile from their original world after it was invaded by an evil being from another, separate world. I won't go out and buy the others in the series myself, but I would read them if my husband bought them.

Other reviews:
Aaron at That's the Book!


I've seen this on several blogs now and thought I'd join in the fun!

What are you reading right now?
These are listed on my sidebar, but for anyone reading this from their feed aggregator I'm reading 6 books right now: May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson (this is our current bedtime book - how great is it that my 9 and 10 year olds still let me read to them at bedtime?), The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (on the high school Name that Book list), The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Sorceror by Jack Whyte (lunchtime), Maximum Ride The End of the World or Something Like It (standby for when waiting), and First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (audiobook).

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
The next book in my stack is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?
I've never really been a bathroom reader.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (or just Kingsolver, in general)

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?
The funny thing is that I *am* a librarian, but the librarians at my library don't know me from Eve. Now, back when I was a public librarian, yeah, I guess they knew me. At least I hope they did!

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?
Not that I can think of.

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving?
Eat? no
Bathe? Not on a regular basis, but I have been known to (most recently Friday night)
Movies or TV? Not if I chose what we're watching, but if the tv is on in the same room, I will try.
Computer? Does reading a book *on* the computer count?
Sex? Um, no
Driving? I listen to audiobooks on my commute.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?
Not that I remember. My brother might have, I suppose.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stephen King on Harry Potter

I really enjoyed this article by Stephen King about Harry Potter and the effect it has had/will have on the way kids read.

Stephen King: The last word on Harry Potter

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Gates of the Alamo

My lord, it took me a long time to finish this book! I started it at the end of June and just now finished it. This summer has not been good in terms of my finishing books in a timely fashion, for some reason.

I really liked this book, despite how long it took me to read it. Living in Texas, I am fascinated with the Texas war for independence. Not in the stereotypical, too big for its britches way that Texas can sometimes present itself, but just a morbid interest in the massacre that occurred at the Alamo. I believe this book to be rather historically accurate, minus the inclusion of a few purely fictional (main) characters. Many reviews I have read have complained about the gratuitous violence, and yes, this book has plenty of gory battle scenes. However, I believe the graphic descriptions were essential to providing an accurate depiction of just how gruesome the fight was. Besides the obvious storyline of the war, there is a very unusual love story as a subplot.

I would count this book as one of my favorite historical fiction novels.

My favorite quote: "...the defenders of the Alamo turned and ran into the dark cells of the old mission convent where monks had once passed this venerable hour before dawn in murmuring prayer."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Fort at River's Bend by Jack Whyte

The Fort at River's Bend is the 5th novel in Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles. It's hard to review just one of the novels in the series, as the series reads like one long book. This installment finds Caius Merlyn Brittanicus, along with his ward Arthur Pendragon (and a group of others from Camulod), arriving in the lands of Derek of Ravenglass, seeking a place to hide while Arthur matures. We see Arthur grown from a mere boy to a young man. The Fort at River Bend is part one of Metamorphosis, which Whyte intended to be one complete book , and I am eager to continue on to part two, The Sorceror.

If you're a fan of Arthurian tales and you haven't picked up the Camulod Chronicles, I highly recommend this series. The series begins a couple of generations before Arthur is born, told in journal form by his Roman-legion ancestors, Publius Varrus and Caius Brittanicus, and then by his mentor, Merlyn Brittanicus. This series contains none of the typical magical elements of the familiar Arthur tales, retelling the story from a realistic point of view.

Other titles in the series include: The Skystone, The Singing Sword, The Eagle's Brood, Saxon Shore, Sorceror, Uther, and The Lance Thrower.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I finished listening to Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult yesterday. This is the 5th (I think) Picoult book I've listened to (and 7th I've read), and it's one of my favorites. Picoult does an amazing job of creating sympathy for both the victims and perpetrator of a school shooting in a high school in New Hampshire. The portrayal of the bullying that goes on at all levels of schooling is adequately depicted. I think this is an important book for high schoolers to read, as this is something that could happen anywhere. I highly recommend this book!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Book sale buys

I did, indeed, find some good books at today's book sale. For $11, I got 12 books, mostly hardback. Four of these were on my wishlist, too, so that's even better! Here's what I got:

The Autobiography of Henry VIII, with Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
*This is practically brand new still, and I got it for $1!
Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas
*From wishlist. I read the first in this series, The Persian Pickle Club, last year, and while I don't typically get hooked on series, this one was good enough to buy used.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
*Newbery winner
A Wizard Abroad by Diane Wrede
*My husband bought the first few in this series (Young Wizards) - I hope he doesn't already have this one!
The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue
*From wishlist.
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
*I've read a couple of other of her books (Speak and Fever 1793) and really liked them.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
*From wishlist.
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
*From wishlist.
The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
*I bought this one because I'm pretty sure it's on the high school Name that Book list that I'm trying to complete.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
*This one will be great to stick in my bag for waiting for my shuttle.


I picked up one more book today (Aug 2):

The Children's Blizzard
by David Laskin

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Book sale

At my place of work, the patient/family library used to host used book sales roughly quarterly. I was under the impression that as of last June (I remember the exact date of the last one because I broke my ankle bringing the bag of books I had bought into the house) they were not going to be holding the sales anymore, and this has proved true for the past year. However, today I noticed a bunch of tables set up in a public area where they typically have sales and events of various types and thought the arrangement looked suspiciously like the arrangement they have used for the used book sales in the past. Sure enough, as I was leaving for the day, I saw all the boxes of books stashed, ready for the sale tomorrow. I am so jazzed! I have come home with some really great books from these sales! Hopefully tomorrow will be as successful, and I'll report my finds here. I'm giddy with anticipation!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Half Price Books

One of my favorite places on the planet is Half Price Books. We're lucky enough in the Houston area to have several locations. Today we took our daughter to get gelato in a shopping center that also houses a Half Price Books, so, naturally, we had to stop in. Here's what I came out with (some of these are more my daughter's than mine):

The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett (sequel to Chasing Vermeer)
The High King by Lloyd Alexander
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Shogun by James Clavell

Friday, July 27, 2007

What I read

Welcome to my blog! I'm just starting to throw this together, so bear with me while I figure out just what I'm doing. I thought I'd start with a post about what (and how) I read. Some people think I'm a little crazy when it comes to reading books, but, really, there is a method to my madness.

I usually have about 6 books going at a time. Crazy, I know. But here's how that all works out.

Book #1: This I consider my "main" book, even though, really, I probably spend almost the least amount of time reading it. This book comes from my official bookstack (which is really my half of my husband's and my 3-shelf bookcase in our bedroom), which, at the moment, is arranged alphabetically by title and consists of adult (as opposed to children, not porn) books. I generally just grab the next book on the shelf when I finish a book, but I am a little flexible. For example, I will read the next in the series if I have it available and really liked it, or if my husband is very eager for me to read something, I'll substitute it for the next book on the shelf. I read this one at home, whenever I want to pick up a book. I generally give a book about 50 pages before I put it aside and pick up something else. Currently this book is Gates of the Alamo by Stephen Harrigan.

Book #2: I read this book over lunch at work. This book, like book #1, usually comes from my official bookstack. The one exception is that I use this book to give a 2nd try to books I have put aside. Sometimes I have a hard time getting into book #1 because I'm trying to read it after a long day at work. Sometimes the book is too wordy and puts me straight to sleep. Reading it at work sometimes helps, because I'm not going to go to sleep, and it's the only thing I have to read. I've given new life to books this way and been able to finish them after all. However, if, even in this setting, I find myself drifting (or in the case of one book, rolling my eyes), I'll give up on it. Currently this book is The Fort at River Bend by Jack Whyte, the 5th in the Camulod Chronicles.

Book #3: This is the book I read for NIBS (Noses in Books, what our family calls the 30ish minutes of silent reading time we enjoy together before bed). My current modus operandi for this is that this book is listed on the list of books for the Name that Book competition at my husband's high school or that it is one of this year's Texas Bluebonnet Books. Most often this is a library book, but if I can't find a book available at the library from one of these two lists, I will read one of the children's/YA books in my personal collection. Currently this book is The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis, from the Bluebonnet list.

Book #4: This is the audiobook I listen to on my commute. This is almost always fiction, and often it is something more pop fiction-y than I typically read in print. It can also be series books, because I hate to spend a lot of time finishing a series when there's so much other stuff I want to read. Right now I have some books saved in my wish list that are from the Name that Book list that aren't available at my local library. Currently I'm listening to Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. This book is on the Name that Book list, but I would have listened to it anyway, because I love Jodi Picoult's books, and they make for great audiobooks.

Book #5: I keep this book in my bag to read when I'm waiting for the shuttle from my parking garage to the building in which I work. I'll also grab this if I'm going anywhere where I know I'll have to wait (doctor's office, haircut, etc.). There's no real rhyme or reason to this, but books that are broken up into short segments are perfect for this. I've read a David Sedaris book this way, and am currently reading the 3rd in James Patterson's YA Maximum Ride series, Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports.

Book #6: Last, but not least, this book is the book I read to my kids for bedtime. I try to alternate between suggestions from my 10-year-old daughter and my 9-year-old son, but sometimes I'll read something I find that I think they'll really like. Currently we're reading May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson, on my daughter's recommendation.