Friday, April 30, 2010

A very delayed update

Hi gang,

It's been ages since I've posted an update in here, but sadly the world outside of my bookpile has taken over for a little while.

Here's a very quick summary:

* I enjoyed House of Spirits, but not because of the magial realism aspect. In fact, the first two thirds kind of dragged a little bit, it wasn't until the end, with the civil war that I was reallt drawn in. I liked the whole book, but not as much as I thought I would.

* One Hundred Years of Solitude was every bit as great as I thought it would be.

* You know how sometimes you read a book at exactly the right time? So it was with Farenheit 451 for me. Such an amazing book, and horrifyingly just as relevant now as it was when it was published.

Right now though I'm reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. I'm so late in on this series, but I love it! Consider me completely sucked in.

I do need to get back into my list though. Is anyone up for a group read?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April (Books&Wine)'s List

Hey everyone! I am so excited to join the Project Fill In The Gaps errr project. My list is really reflective of me as a reader -- it includes classics, PoC reads, fantasy, and YA/children's books.

1. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
2. Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
4. The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki
5. The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
6. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O’Toole
7. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
9. Beloved by Toni Morrison
10. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
11. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
12. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
13. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
14. Shogun by James Clavell
15. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
16. The Satanic Verses by Salmon Rushdie
17. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
18. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
19. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
20. Sabriel by Garth Nix
21. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
22. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
23. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
24. The Master Butcher’s Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
25. Roots by Alex Haley
26. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
27. Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice
28. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
29. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
30. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
31. Zorro by Isabel Allende
32. Peony in Love by Lisa See
33. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
34. Katherine by Anya Seton
35. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
36. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
37. Fledling by Octavia Butler
38. Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
39. Native Son by Richard Wright
40. Fanny Hill by John Cleland
41. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
42. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
43. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan
44. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
45. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
46. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
47. Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
48. Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
49. The Silmarillion by J.R. Tolkien
50. My Darling, My Hamburger by Paul Zindel
51. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Dune by Frank Herbert
53. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
54. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
55. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
56. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
57. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
58. Liar by Justine Larbaleister
59. Under The Dome by Stephen King
60. Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan
61. Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
62. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
63. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
64. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
65. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
66. Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
67. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
68. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
69. The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery
70. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
71. Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
72. John Adams by David McCullough
73. The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
74. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
75. Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead
76. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacquline Carey
77. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
78. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
79. A Song of Fire and Ice by George RR Martin
80. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
81. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
82. The Bone Setter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
83. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
84. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
85. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
86. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
87. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
88. Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy
89. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
90. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
91. Love by Toni Morrison
92. Hoot by Carl Hiassen
93. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
94. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
95. Crocodile On The Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
96. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
97. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
98. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
99. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
100. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Linda P Review-The Beach House by Jane Green

I've read many of Jane Green's other chit lit novels. Jemima J is my favorite of those.  The Beach House is women's lit cause many of the characters are married or divorced or older than 50. I liked The Beach House cause the characters seemed like friends or people I know. Each character was familiar, the divorced mom with the out of control teen, the widow who was facing tight times, a man who realizes he's gay, or the man who is still searching for love. I liked the male characters-Daniel and Micheal especially. Both tender and kind, everything women hope for :)
I did not like the bouncing around Green did with the narrative. The voice skipped around from character to character and occasionally, to an omnipotent voice. I prefer sticking with character at a time and hearing things from their perspective than the round robin.
After about 100 pages I saw where the characters were heading which was ok. I liked the comfortable feeling, of a story you knew.  But then towards the end it got a little soap opera-y (a pregnancy, a long lost relative). But all in all a good beach read.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Progress

I got a few titles on my list read recently, but haven't been good about posting reviews, or links to the responses I did post. Here are a few now (with a few more reviews coming soon, I hope):

Bush at War — much better than I expected it to be

Marco Polo Sings a Solo, and Streamers — both were very good, but I really loved Marco Polo Sings a Solo

Catch Me if You Can — entertaining, but not believable at all

Sorry to be so brief in my post here, but my connection to Blogspot is not very good at the moment. If I can get a better connection soon, I'll try to post an actual review here (and not just links) on some of the other titles I've recently finished.


Interim Read

While I'm slowly plugging along at Don Quixote, I not only read a few non-list items - the most recommendable of which is The Ask by Sam Lipsyte (great fun) - , but also one of my listed ones.
Das Hasek Lesebuch, a collection of shorter pieces by Jaroslav Hasek (1883-1923).
His great claim to fame is The Good Soldier Svejk, one of my favorite books ever. His shorter stories work along similar lines: the dirty reality of getting along in the world of central Europe in the early 20th Century shows up all the cracks in the official face of things.
The Svejk stories (which survive being taken out of context of the big work and are represented here, too) have the benefit of the delightful character of Svejk himself, who appears a bumbling fool, but is really a survivor of the most divinely inspired sort.
It makes me happy just thinking about it again.
(And, now back to Don Quixote and Sancho.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead."

So much praise for this little book. Could it possibly live up to expectations? Of course it could. And I knew it would from that wonderful opening paragraph.

Merricat (well how would you abbreviate Mary Katherine ?!) is a quite wonderful narrator - engaging, unreliable and utterly unique. And her tale is quite extraordinary.

But I'm not going to say too much about that tale. Much has been written already. And if you haven't read the book you really should. And you will enjoy it more for knowing little beforehand.

Merricat lives in the family home with Constance, her elder sister and Julian, her elderly uncle. The rest of the family has died.


Merricat is the only member of the family who ever goes to town - to do necessary shopping. She is regularly jostled and jeered.


The arrival of a visitor prompts a series of events and revelations.


The answering of those questions is intriguing and compelling and will take you into a very strange and different world. A world were every detail, every charater, ever relationship is just perfectly executed.

The main revelation is guessable, but that really doesn't matter. It just throws up more questions.

I started intigued and finished unsettled.

Praise more than justified, and expectations more than met.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Matthew, Book Review, *Jose Saramago, *Blindness

Blindness (1995), by Portuguese author Jose Saramago, is a hell of a thing. And I mean that in a Cronenberg, Blood Meridian, oh man is this ever depressing and violent and crushing but I can't stop reading it sort of way.

As the novel begins, an unidentified man suddenly goes blind while driving home from work one day. A few hours thereafter, everyone he came in contact with after the onset of his blindness goes blind, followed by the people they came in contact with, and so on. The affliction spreads quickly, and the government reacts to the crisis by quarantining the blind in an empty mental hospital. The bulk of the novel takes place inside the hospital, where everything goes to hell in pretty much every way you could imagine it would.

Saramago likes to write in long, winding series of clauses spliced together with commas, with dialogue thrown in mid-stream with only a comma and a capital letter to call attention to itself:
In a few minutes, the rescuers reached their destination, they knew it before even coming into contact with the bodies, the blood over which they were crawling was like a messenger coming to tell them, I was life, behind me there is nothing, My God, thought the doctor's wife, all this blood, and it was true, a thick pool, their hands and clothing stuck to the ground as if the floorboards and floor tiles were covered in glue.
Which reminds me, no one is ever given a name in this book. Instead of names, each character is referred to by their job, relationship, or a short physical description, thereby furthering the theme of dehumanization and degradation.

Blindness isn't all doom and gloom, however; even in its darkest moments there seems to be an underlying sense of hope that I don't recall seeing in similarly bleak novels (I'm looking at you, The Trial and Blood Meridian).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Year Later

I had my FitG first anniversary on April 4. That's when it hit me how long it's been since I last posted on my progress.

Actually, I'm embarrassed about my progress. I'll blame it on an international move and gutting and renovating a house, but I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked. Besides, it took me forever to get through The Three Musketeers. For. Ev. Er.

Still, I thought, as a belated celebration of my anniversary, I'd re-post my list to show my progress and provide links to my blog with the reviews I did manage to write. (Please note: I didn't write a review for every book I read -- just the ones that moved me to write about them.)

As far as statistics go, I'm at eighteen books finished (assuming I counted correctly!) at the one year mark. Even at this (slow) rate, I should be able to meet my goal of 75% read by 2014. Phew!

I've officially abandoned one book so far (see below). That one might surprise some, because I know that one received rave reviews. I couldn't get into it, unfortunately. Call me crazy.
  1. Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
  2. Laura Amy Schlitz, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
  3. Lynn Rae Perkins, Criss Cross
  4. Cynthia Kadohata, Kira-Kira
  5. Kate Dicamillo, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, A Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
  6. Avi Crispin, The Cross of Lead
  7. Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard
  8. Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder
  9. Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy
  10. Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
  11. Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why abandoned (the linked review includes a short, post script explanation)
  12. Elizabeth C. Bunce, A Curse as Dark as Gold
  13. Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
  14. Alexandre Dumas, The Man in the Iron Mask
  15. Leslie Conner, Waiting For Normal
  16. Siobhan Dowd, Bog Child
  17. Christine Fletcher, Ten Cents a Dance
  18. Matt de la Pena, Mexican White Boy
  19. Joseph Monninger, Baby
  20. Terry Pratchett, Nation
  21. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamakim, Skim
  22. Coert Voorhees, The Brothers Torres
  23. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
  24. Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road
  25. Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels
  26. Stephanie Meyer, Twilight
  27. Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  28. Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy
  29. Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing
  30. Scott Westerfeld, Extras
  31. Jenny Downham, Before I Die
  32. Laurie Halse Anderson, Twisted
  33. Cassandra Clare, City of Bones
  34. Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom
  35. Eudora Welty, The Ponder Heart
  36. Eudora Welty, Losing Battles
  37. Annie Dillard, The Maytrees
  38. Annie Dillard, Living By Fiction
  39. Annie Dillard, For the Time Being
  40. Katherine Mansfield, The Aloe
  41. Charles Dickens, Oliver
  42. C.J. Sansom, Dark Fire
  43. C.J. Sansom, Sovereign
  44. Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  45. Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union
  46. Ayelet Waldman, Daughter’s Keeper
  47. J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye
  48. S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders
  49. Robert Lipsyte, The Contender
  50. Chaim Potok, The Chosen
  51. Paul Zindel, The Pigman
  52. Beatrice Sparks, Go Ask Alice
  53. Robb White, Deathwatch
  54. Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War
  55. Pamela Todd, The Blind Faith Hotel
  56. Lois Duncan, Killing Mr. Griffin
  57. Robert Cormier, I Am the Cheese
  58. Harry Mazer, The Last Mission
  59. Cynthia Voigt, Homecoming
  60. Bruce Brooks, The Moves Make the Man
  61. Richard Peck, Remembering the Good Times
  62. Brock Cole, The Goats
  63. Gary Paulsen, Hatchet
  64. Walter Dean Myers, Fallen Angels
  65. Francesca Lia Block, Weetzie Bat
  66. Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee
  67. Michael Cadnum, Calling Home
  68. Virginia Wolff, Make Lemonade
  69. Karen Cushman, Catherine Called Birdy
  70. Cynthia Voigt, When She Hollers
  71. Rita Williams-Garcia, Like Sisters on the Home Front
  72. John Marsden, Tomorrow When the War Began
  73. Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
  74. Victor Martinez, Parrot in the Oven, Mi Vida
  75. Edward Bloor, Tangerine
  76. Robert Cormier, Tenderness
  77. Virginia Wolff, Bat 6
  78. Joan Bauer, Rules of the Road
  79. Gary Paulsen, Soldier’s Heart
  80. Paul Fleischman, Whirligig
  81. Sarah Dessen, Dreamland
  82. Richard Peck, A Long Way from Chicago
  83. Chris Lynch, Gold Dust
  84. Gary Paulsen, The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer
  85. Judith Guest, Ordinary People
  86. Joseph Bedier, The Romance of Tristan and Iseult
  87. David Klass, You Don’t Know Me
  88. Carol Plum-Ucci, What Happened to Lani Garver
  89. Jerry Spinelli, Star Girl
  90. Sonya Sones, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
  91. Ann Brashares, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  92. Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust
  93. Lois Lowry, The Giver
  94. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
  95. Michael Chabon, Summerland
  96. Sarah Dessen, Just Listen
  97. Marsha Qualey, Just Like That
  98. Newbery Winner
  99. Newbery Winner
  100. Newbery Winner

I have a long way to go, but every time I look at this list, I get excited all over again. So many great books in my future. I've requested four more from our library system this week and currently have Homecoming on the bedside table.

Have a great week, everyone! Happy reading.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thought I'd Mention . . .

Nathan Bransford is asking, as part of his You Tell Me series :

What are your Gap Books?

Thought people might be interested in the post and some of the comments.

Definitely Classics seem to make up the bulk of the Gap Books.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Linda P-Justine by The Marquis De Sade

Since my library did not have Justine, I choose to read 3 of de Sade's works instead-The Gothic Tales of The Marquis De Sade, Philosophy of the Boudoir, and The Selected Writings of The Marquis de Sade. Justine was included in The Selected Writings of The Marquis de Sade but that book was annotated.
I think I must have the found the most boring stories written by the Marquis de Sade. The only stories I liked were "The Dying Man and The Priest" and "The Horse-Chestnut Flower". Sure there was sex but it wasn't as lurid as I had thought it would be. Glad to have another book off my list.