28 April 2011

What genres do you read?

I think most people find they prefer certain reading genres.

Mine have changed over time. When I first began to read for pleasure (high school, but few books) I preferred fiction. As an adult, once I really began to read more, I found I enjoyed mostly non fiction selections. Many of those books were related to my Christianity or marriage/family. Now that I read even more, I have found that I enjoy both fiction and non fiction.

These days I can really appreciate the creativity required to produce a riveting and well written fictional story. I think that preference has been influenced by my homeschooling our kids. Together we have truly enjoyed some wonderful books! My avoidance of books as a pre-adolescent means I have a lot of uncovered ground in juvenile fiction!

In regard to fiction I've branched into some areas I previously hadn't ventured. Around the time we moved to England I found Jasper Fforde's books and really fell for them; they are so smart but very funny.

I enjoy biographies, often those written about film or tv stars of the 1940s-1960s.

I really like to read memoirs. A true story is sometimes the best!

I occasionally like a mystery.

I enjoy well written juvenile fiction.

I am learning that I have a real affinity for classic British literature too!

25 April 2011

Today brings exciting news for owners (or prospective owners) of NOOK COLOR devices.

Today Barnes and Noble announced a software upgrade to their NOOK COLOR.

It is only a 1.2 update and not a 2.0 as some have hoped.

That means that the update comes with some asked-for improvements but likely nothing too amazing. In fact, I read a lot of whining about it today online as I perused the ereader news for the day.

All of that aside, an online acquaintance of mine contacted me today to say how very
excited she is with regard to the update! I could hear her squeals of delight through her
Facebook post! I am excited for her and other NOOK COLOR owners.
(Maybe she'll pop in to tell us what she likes!)

Ereader devices are great. They are becoming more multi-functional all the time.
The prices are great. The competition is strong too. Rumor has it that Amazon is coming out with a device they are going to call a tablet but which will be integrated into their already strong Kindle system. That will surely please Kindle users and prospective buyers.

Barnes & Noble NOOK Color eBook Tablet     Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology    
Some sites:

Are you doing any "Royal" reading?

I've seen interest in Prince William's upcoming marriage to Kate Middleton  has inspired some readers to delve into books relating to the monarchy. Since we lived in England for a couple years I've already done my share of that.

My suggestion is for some light and fun reading; a quick but delightful book:

An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella Kindle Edition
 The Uncommon Reader: A Novella Paperback Edition

An Uncommon Reader NOOKBOOK < click here

I've done a review of it previously.

If you might read it, just skip the review and read it. 

It is only 120 pages long. 

The main topic is the love if reading and the story comes with a neat little pleasing twist right at the end of the book.

My previous review of An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett < click here

21 April 2011

50 books a year prescribed for 11 yr olds.

See the whole article here:


My thoughts?

First, I think it is important to realize that this article was written by a British journalist. The five people who were approached to create the list of 50 books are all British. Therefore, the titles are overwhelmingly British also.

In theory, it's a great idea. The books I recognized from that list are pretty meaty though, in prose or length. Remember, some kids get little homework, others have loads each night. That doesn't even take into consideration social activities such as church or scouting. What about sports? Just because kids may not read 50 books a year or they aren't reading at that high a level, it does not necessarily mean they are not using their time well.

Of course I'd love for it to be a reality that 11 year olds would read 50 books such as these every year. I see it as more of a reality for homeschooled kids (and we've homeschooled so I've been there and know the reality of homeschooling vs public schools).

Three of our five kids really enjoy reading. Two will likely continue to prove to be prolific in their reading. One of them is dying to have an ereader and that will likely further encourage his joy of reading. Our youngest already owns a child's ereader:

Our Initial Impression of the VReader < click here

VReader and extra memory < click here

I have also signed our kids up with accounts at www.librarything.com where they can track and review their reading.

The article mentions the unfortunate closure of libraries too.
Can any country really hope their kids will read if we close libraries? (Especially with the current economy?)

I am intrigued by the list. I had surgery this week and am recovering so my body is telling me I need to take a break now and take a nap. I will be returning to the list though to take a deeper look at it myself. I may read some of the selections myself! I haven't heard of some of them.

As for our kids, I will continue to encourage them to read. I've told them I will always find money for books if they ask me to buy them. I try to make our house a comfortable place to read and I often read to or with our kids. I'll keep doing that. Of course I want them to read a lot but I don't want them to focus on the number of books they read more than the benefit or pleasure they receive from reading.

I'm just happy when they read and that they tend to enjoy reading.

20 April 2011

Kindle is going to begin supporting library borrowing like NOOK.

There is good news for owners of Kindle ereaders or those considering a purchase.


I am particularly intrigued by the functionality they are designing in that the bookmarks and highlights and notations that users make I'm borrowed books will be accessible by the user if the book is borrowed again or subsequently purchased. I make many notations as I read. If Ivrun out of time with a library book my NOOK loses my notations, highlights, and bookmarks. If I borrow the book again, they are no longer there; they've been lost.

I find this an intriguing advance. Amazon/Kindle is listening to the users of ereaders!

19 April 2011

Spooky Little Girl: A Novel by Laurie Notaro

Fiction is a newer venture for Laurie Notaro. This is supposedly her second shot at fiction although I am not sure what her first title was.

She's known for her non fiction titles; I'll include a list after my review.

Ghost stories aren't my thing. I suppose that is why I hadn't gotten around to reading this selection. I knew about this book and was reminded of it recently on someone's blog although I now can't find that blog post. 

Laurie and I differ on a lot of things; in the room of politics she'd be standing on the far left and I'd be chatting up "W" on the right, for instance; also she is an agnostic and I stand firm on the foundation of Christ. Her childishness can still make me giggle though. 

I've become a big fan of fiction in the past few years. The marks of a good story are being able to convince one to set aside reality for a while though and Notaro proved able to get me to do just that, for about three or four days last week.

Spooky Little Girl: A Novel

Lucy Fisher is due to marry in eight weeks. She isn't really head-over-heels-in-love with Martin but is happy and settled in his reliability and steadfast predictability. Before the wedding she has decided to spend an inheritance on what was intended to be the trip of a lifetime with a couple of girlfriends. The trip was a disappointment but that was just the beginning...of the end.

Upon returning home she finds all of her belongings in her front yard and her dog locked inside; her key won't work. Having been dumped by Martin, without explanation, she is also fired from her job, with explanation. She moves up-state 
to live with her sister and nephew, hoping for a new start. Little does she know 
that an accident lies in her path and the path will divert to the after-life. 

After her accident she awakens to find herself in a hospital-like room and believes herself to be dreaming a helluva dream. She decides to sit back and enjoy the dream    

     "After all, there were worse dreams to be stuck in. She could have been making 
     out with Carrot Top or being chased through a mall by a bear with a goat head, 
     all while trying to figure out a way to stop in at the food court to get a 
     Beef'nCheddar at Arby's without getting mauled. Truly, this was a great dream.
     The detail was amazing; the premise was fascinating. She was already looking     
     forward to recounting the whole bizarre episode to Alice in the morning over 
     their first cup of coffee." 

Enrolled in her first class Sudden Death (or Surprise Demise as her teacher likes to call it) she learns "Don't dress as the ghost you are, dress for the ghost you want to be." Lucky for her...she really did die in her cowboy boots and "today's only the first day of the rest of (her) death".

The gist of things is that Lucy has to earn her way to the State (The State of Elated Bliss). She must return to the land of the living and determine what her mission there is without being told. Along the way she experiences two funerals held in honor of her, one barely attended and the other well attended. Between the two she is stuck trying to figure out why her death was initially barely noticed.  She grows in maturity and even manages to have a load of fun. She is also reunited with her dead granny, Naunie, who manages to accomplish her own  on-the-way-to-State-deed while helping Lucy's sister and nephew.

I take slight issue with the fact that at times Lucy and her grandmother pass right through material things but also have a particular talent of being able to sometimes move physical things. By the end of the book it seems that Notaro is taking liberties with her own ghost rules and must not have been able to find a better way to manipulate the story. I tried to ignore that and just enjoy the ride!

I like to include favorite lines from books in my reviews. This particular sentence isn't the greatest of prose but it struck me as delightfully funny as I was reading:

     "Scarier apparitions have swirled out of the tailpipes of cars." pg 202

Here's a list of Notaro's books; the ones with stars are the ones I have read :

* We Thought You Would be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive

* I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies):True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl

* The Idiot Girls' Actions Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life

* Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood

* The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal

* An Idiot Girl's Christmas

* Spooky Little Girl

There's a Slight Chance I Might be Going to Hell

I like that this story was inspired by truth even though it is sad that the real Lucy Fisher died too, and without her friends knowing about it when it happened:

The Story of the real Lucy Fisher < click here

Found this for you too:

click here > The Nervous Breakdown (Laurie Notaro's Interview with her mom)

18 April 2011

Need a quick, easy way to find out the order of books in a series?

Do you ever find out about a book series but not know the order of the books?

This site will help you!

It's one of my favorite book-related sites.

click here> What's Next?

14 April 2011

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

While I try to mostly post about books that I loved reading I am going to include a poor review for this title. So many people love Maguire's books but I am a dissenter. I believe that reading four titles gives me enough background on which to make my judgment. I have no issue with others enjoying his writing; it's just that I have decided I do not.

(Feel free to disagree with me. The world's a big place and has room for all kinds of opinions. This is my site so I am going to feel free to say how I felt about it.)

Mirror MirrorWhat an awful book. I know many people just love Maguire's works. I guess I am not one. He writes in such a fashion that I feel he attempts a loftiness that isn't even legitimate. There are times when I reread a sentence that he has written and struggle with calling it a sentence even. 

This is the fourth book of his that I have read. I am not finding that I like his work more; rather I like it less. I suppose this proves that the way he writes just does not suit me. This particular title, though, was just awful. The dwarves were not real, rather, they were something like animated stones that then became sort-of-real. What's up with that? I found it odd and awkward to try to figure out what he was attempting with that concept. At the end of the book it just ended. There really seemed to be no plot at all; just a long drawn-out story-line. It was really quite dissatisfying.

13 April 2011

You've got to be kidding me. Amazon markets an ereader with ads.

I find this ridiculous. This morning's bit of news for readers holds the teaser that Amazon is slated to begin marketing a reduced-price ereader that supports ads on its screen-saver.

   Will people pay to have ads on a personal device?

        ...to save a paltry $25?

That's less than 20% savings and it means that the face of the owners' new ereaders would constantly have two ads staring out at them.


I would pay NOT to have to see advertising. 

My NOOK ereader, while only displaying black and white, is able to display my photos. It can hold up to 1,600 books. There is no way I am going to reach capacity on it for a good, long while. I've used the extra space to add photos of all of my family members and close friends. Each time I pick my NOOK up to read I have a different happy memory to look at. I love that. My kids love that. My five year old was turning it off and on yesterday as we waited at the ATT store. She found, on her own, that if she turned it on and then off a new photo would cycle to the screen. I loved watching her.

So far Barnes and Noble has told the media that they will not follow in the footsteps of Amazon.

"A year ago, I asked Barnes & Noble's management if they planned to sell ads and they said said they didn't want to do anything that would disrupt the reading process," Wahlstrom said. "If readers are distracted by the ads, it won't do anyone any good."

I realize that purchasers are free to make their own decisions. It is my hope that this falls flat though. Advertising in America is getting out of hand and the American public can embrace more advertising or shut their doors to it. Again, I would be willing to pay NOT to see ads.

My 10 year old son and I both desperately want to purchase our own NOOK COLORs. Truly the price isn't bad for the amount of technology. When you double the cost and the cost of the accessories and then add in some money for some books...well, it begins to look like a pretty good chunk of change. We figure we need about $600 for the two of us to have our wishes fulfilled. We're saving our money. Yes. We are patiently (or not) saving our money. My little guy has even had the idea that if we pool our resources we could buy one once we have half the money saved. While we think we both want a NOOK COLOR, saving our money and waiting is also allowing for the market to change over time. Prices may continue to drop. We might decide to save even more money and buy a tablet that would function as an ereader as well as many other things. Time will tell. I would not, however, be tempted by any kind of price drop if it meant I'd have to stare at ads.

As I continue to read articles about this I am finding that this product is going to come with special coupons aimed only at the owners of this ad-sponsoring Kindle. Some will be for deals on ebooks, others might be for Amazon gift cards. You know what? I still say an unequivocal "No." I see my ereader as a personal product; something that conveys a part of me.

When I visited Barnes and Noble's forums this morning I read this particularly scathing post in reply to whether people think ad-supported ereaders are a good idea:
     "Wow, a whole $25 dollars to have an inferior Kindle AND ads....its like Christmas and my birthday all wrapped up together!"

Here are some articles about this latest ad gimmick:

click here> OnlineJournal

click here>ReadWriteWeb

And here is the Amazon page where the product is being sold for pre-order:

click here> AmazonKindleWithAds

11 April 2011

Have you ever borrowed an ebook from your library?

Today's library loans more than just books. The newest and hottest items appear to be ebooks!

Ebooks open up a whole new area of legal questions though.

Previously a library would purchase a certain number of physical books. When a book was borrowed by a patron it was no longer available on the shelf. The way that works with digital material (ebooks) is that the library may only loan out as many copies as they've paid for. Libraries can not make extra copies from an original.

Harper Collins wishes to limit the borrowing of each digital book to 26 times. Personally, I find myself wondering how many readings a good quality physical book can withstand and think that it should be allowed a bit more usage than that and priced accordingly. You can search the internet for "Harper Collins" to find more information on the debate.

The ebook market is exploding right now. That will mean that lawyers round the world will slug this out in the courts. New legislation will have to be made that will suit both publishers/authors and retailers/libraries/readers.

Let the lawyers work on that.

Check out your library's site to see if they have an ebook lending service.

And here is a wonderful comparison of ebooks and physical books by Newsweek:
Books vs E-Books

When did you last visit a library?

10-16April 2011 is National Library Week!
April is Schoool Library Month

This site   click here> @YourLibrary   is hosting a "twaiku"contest. 
What's that? 
It's a Twitter Haiku contest. Tweet your submission now! 

From their site: "Twaiku use the same basic structure of 3 lines with 5-7-5 syllables respectively. Unlike a true haiku, a twaiku can only be 140 characters, or 130 with our #nlwtwaiku tag.

Here is the one I wrote:

book lust I do have
need a new book to fix that
free fix...library

Have you visited your local library lately? 

As a mom of kids who are growing up our use of the library is becoming easier. As the kids age they assume greater responsibility for the things they borrow from the library although I do keep track of the dates that items are due for return. 

Reasons to Use the Library

Savings~ Most public libraries are funded by taxes which we pay whether we use our libraries or not. Why not borrow an item instead of spending money on it?

Internet Searching of Catalog~ These days you can search for items in your library's catalog by means of the internet so that you don't have to visit just to find out if your item is available.

Holds~ Many library websites allow items to be placed on hold via the internet. When the item has been set aside and is ready for you to pick up you will receive notification, usually by e-mail.

Inter-Library Loans~ If your library doesn't own the item you are looking for, it may have a policy for borrowing that item from another library they have a relationship with (at no, or little, cost to you).

More than just books~ These days libraries loan more than just books: CDs, DVDs, ereaders (so that patrons can "try before buying"), ebooks. Most also have banks of computers for patrons to surf the internet.

Increased Lending Periods~ Many libraries are lengthening the lending periods of their items. Having longer lending periods means users may not need to renew a loan. It also means that libraries should have more room for inventory since more things should be out on loan for longer periods. It might mean fewer fines for users too.

10 April 2011

A really functional site for book lovers: www.librarything.com

Have you ever thought about keeping track of the books you own, or the books you are wishing for?

Have you ever wanted to keep track of the books you read so that you can refer back to the list or use it to make better recommendations?

Here is a really functional site for book lovers:
click here> LibraryThing

It is a very easy, straightforward site to use but if you look around and have any questions I have helped people learn how to use the site in the past. 

The site is free for the recording of up to 200 book titles. As soon as I found the site I knew I would use it so I bought a lifetime membership for $20 (unlimited entries). I believe the price is still in that range. I bought a membership for one of my brothers and opened a free account for my mother-in-law as I believed it would take a while for her to reach the 200 mark. Each of our kids has their own account also. You can share an account if you use a tag to denote the owner or reader of each book.

You can connect with other friends who use the site. If you'd like my username, just let me know.

The site can be used for so many things. "Tags" may be used to mark books in multiple ways. You can tag them any way you wish. Here are some examples of tags that I use: 

Own (for books our family owns)

Library (to denote books we borrowed from the library)

ebook (to denote an electronic book as opposed to a physical book)

lent to... (to show that I have lent the book to someone)

received from... (to show to whom I should return the book after reading it)


Non Fiction

Historical Fiction

Culture-American, Culture-Britsh, etc. (to denote cultures that are exemplified in the book)


or by topic (animals, science, weather, etc.)

wish list (to track titles of books you want to buy or that people could give to you as a gift)

If you try it out let me know. 
It is probably my favorite book-related site.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of Alexander Dumas's most famous books. It was written in the mid1840s as a serialized newspaper installment.

Unbeknown to me, the version of this book that I downloaded from www.gutenberg.org is an abridged version. Out of a total of 117 chapters, the version I read included chapters 28-47; only 20 chapters. Now that I am aware that I was only reading a portion of the story I can truly say that I do wish I had been reading the full unabridged novel.
The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)

The story was still very meaty. I was able, as a matter of fact, to discern on my own that one of the main characters appeared in many different incarnations throughout the story, holding title to 6 embodiments aside from his original appearance in the story. The whole story would only be more clear had I been reading the novel in its entirety.

Since it was written as a serial the plot is thick! The reader finds much to enjoy: revenge, adventure, treasure, romance, intrigue, piracy... There is little reason for me to go on. If you like a story line that continually builds and doesn't falter in doldrums you will likely appreciate this story. The setting moves along as well, back and forth from France to Italy and other locales.

For a serious reader, I would recommend the complete, unabridged novel. I would also recommend reading a literary guide along with it so that nothing vital is missed.

Do you own an ereader?

I find myself wondering how many readers of this blog own ereaders...

Do you own one?

How many people in your family own one?

What brand/s?

Do you like it?

09 April 2011

I'm so excited! Another of my favorite books is being made into a film!

One Day by David Nicholls

In a London suburb one day my brother, Duffy, and I 
were out shopping with my kids.

We stopped in at our local bookstore, something we 
frequently did when he visited.

We were both standing near a small display of books,
perusing the variety. We both reached for a copy of 
the same book.

One Day

We both quickly read the blurb:

'A totally brilliant book about the heartbreaking gap between the way we were and the way we are...the best weird love story since THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. Every reader will fall in love with it. And every writer 
will wish they had written it.'
Tony Parsons

'best weird love story since The Time Traveler's Wife'...

Duffy and I looked at each other and both instantly knew we had to read the book. 
We quickly purchased two copies as he was due to travel back to the states sooner than either of us could manage to finish reading it.

click here for my original review of > One Day by David Nicholls

08 April 2011

Did you know you can borrow ebooks from many libraries?

Welcome to the future of reading.

If you have not tried using something besides a traditional book for your pleasure reading maybe it is time.

These days books can be read using so many personal devices. Any device that can display text on a screen may be used as a reading device; this can include: phones with data plans, computers, ereaders, iTouch, tablets.

Did you know the switch is not as expensive as it sounds?

Just yesterday, beneath this post, I alerted my followers to two great deals on NOOK ereaders.

Did you know you can "TRY BEFORE YOU BUY"?
Our library, click here> Plainfield Library, lends two types of ereaders to its users: NOOK and Sony.

If you aren't sure whether an ereader might be a great investment, this is a great way to find out!
Try more than one; find the one that best suits you aesthetically and functionally.

Our library uses this site, click here> MyMediaMall, to allow users to borrow ebooks and audiobooks!
Many libraries offer a similar service. I really didn't expect to borrow books for my ereader. I have always liked to own the books that I read. Once I tried it though I realized it works for me; with the economy being in the state it's in it really makes sense to borrow a book. No muss, no fuss...and, better yet, no fees!

Our system allows users to choose the length of borrowing time; generally 7, 14, or 21 day periods.

Here's the greatest benefit: when your lending period expires the book magically evaporates from your device. If you want to renew the ebook it may be possible to do so, using the website of the lending service. (Some lenders may disallow renewals if there are many people waiting for a title.)

Most services will allow users to place a "hold" on titles that are not currently available due to popularity. Ours will contact the requester by email when the item is available and gives three days to respond to the request before passing it on to the next person on the hold list.

Benefits of ereaders over traditional books:

ability to carry all your ebook titles with you anywhere

convenience (everything is in one package)

adjustable font size and type

cost savings (most ebooks are cheaper than new releases in hardcover)

free books (many sites offer free books, even popular ones, as an incentive to customers, many allow lending of ebooks, and now libraries have joined the fun)

07 April 2011

Have you been waiting to buy a basic ereader? Here's a great deal online...

Wow! If you can wait no longer to purchase an ereader that uses eink technology you should consider this deal:

NOOK original on sale
It is on sale for $79, normally priced at $149.

NOOK with 3G+wi-fi
It is on sale for $139, normally priced at $199.

My only caution is that prices will surely continue to drop on tablets. The NOOK COLOR is $249.

I did some digging around online yesterday and found that B&N had posted NOOK COLORs for $200 or $199 instead of $249, using ebay as the source of the sale. It was a short-lived opportunity though; one that I missed unfortunately. I am going to be checking as regularly as possible for similar deals.

The deals I linked are being sold by B&N via ebay.

NOTE: These are not new units; they have been refurbished by B&N or its partners.
"Manufacturer refurbished: An item that has been professionally restored to working order by a manufacturer or manufacturer-approved vendor. This means the product has been inspected, cleaned, and repaired to meet manufacturer specifications and is in excellent condition. This item may or may not be in the original packaging. See the seller’s listing for full details."  I would note that the site says the ereaders are in "excellent condition" and would expect to retrieve one in such condition.

(Thanks to reader, Jennifer G, who found the information about refurbishments for me!)

06 April 2011

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress is a wonder. 

The Postmistress

It is a book about: war, women, reporters, volunteers, meaningful connections, 
accidents, fortune, misfortune, love, heartbreak...and so much more.

I made copious notes as I read this book; however, as I sat down to work with 
them my access to the book via the lending library that I use, expired and   


my notes were gone.

I'll do my best though ~

I love the connections this book makes. First, I must say that this work is historic fiction. It is based on truth: WWII facts are present but do not bog down the story, women reporters were occasionally used in WWII on radio broadcasts, and at least one U-Boat surfaced off the coast of the United States (I can't recall if it was more than one, thanks to losing my notes and access to the book file), portable recording devices as used in the book were used sparingly toward the end of the war.

When something of critical importance is happening in the world and it also happens to be tragic what can be done about it? Anything? Something? Can one person do anything appreciable to affect the outcome of something as substantial as a WORLD WAR? 

As I understood the author, yes, we can affect change, but even so, some things are going to remain unpreventable.

In this book one of the characters, a doctor, volunteered and then traveled to England to serve. He helped one person at a time, for hours at a time. While in a very sad and unchangeable situation in the states he found that even though he was surrounded by horror in England, he also became a very happy and fulfilled person. That did not mean, however, that he did not desperately long for his newly-wedded wife...with so great a yearning that it affected his very being. He tells a fellow character that "it all adds up". 

A different character voluntarily watched the coast for the surfacing of U-Boats and predicted the Germans would arrive, sooner or later. He knew he would be right even though he did not want to be.

One character is harassed by the town's children for being a Kraut. In reality he is an Austrian Jew whose wife is in a French internment camp. He longs to be reconnected with her.

Another character travels to England to report on the war. Her intent was to tell the story of the Jews so that others could know the truth; more truth than was being allowed by the news services at the time. She didn't know how exactly she would accomplish the task but it just sort of came together, on its own, in a brilliant manner. She faces incomprehensible horror while accomplishing her task. She succeeds in finding a way to capture the stories of a finite group of people who are fleeing Germany with the hope of clinging to their lives and loved ones. At the same time she ends up being partially responsible for the death of a person and feels as though she lets down a small boy who was looking to her for support and guidance in place of his mother who was not allowed to accompany him. So, does it all add up?

From that point, though, what would happen? After each story was told what happened next? What was the rest of the story? Is telling part of the story enough? What happens if the hearers of the story do not DO anything about what they hear? Does everything still add up?

I mentioned connections; many are made. Some are satisfying, some are heartbreaking. What war story, I ask you, won't hold some sadness though? 
This story, amazingly, managed to hold many moments of: 
happiness, tenderness, love... 

Life holds all of that; the good and the bad. This story does too.

~ ~ ~

If you enjoyed the Book Thief by Marcus Zusak you will probably enjoy this book too. If you did not enjoy the Book Thief it is still likely that you will enjoy this selection as it is not told in the same manner that The Book Thief was told (with Death being the Narrator). The stories are similar though, in that they do not only focus on war even though it is a major theme in both books.

05 April 2011

Popular books...are you affected by their popularity before you read them?

Brought to us by the folks at The Blue Bookcase and 
BookBelle (an online friend of mine).

Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon? Discuss the affect you believe a book’s “status” has on your opinion of it.

Are you affected by a book's popular success? Does that popularity matter to you?

My short answer is, "No. I am not predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon."

I think that for a long time I was avoiding "books of the moment". I am not the type to read a book only because everyone else is reading it. A good case in point is the abundance of vampire novels that bookstores became flooded with in the past three or four years. Vampires just don't interest me and aren't likely to.

I am completely at ease with disliking a book that it seems everyone else loved. I am strong enough in my own character these days to be able to state, unwaveringly, how I feel. I also hope to convey reasons why I felt such a way. I have no problem believing that others likely feel differently than I do. Diversity is a thing that greatly interests me, especially among the taste of book lovers. I am intrigued about the likes and dislikes of readers. 

In fact, there is an author whose works I have recently come to the conclusion I strongly dislike and it seems that the world loves his work: Gregory Maguire. Now, before you think that perhaps I've simply dismissed him too easily let me list the books I have read:

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Leaping Beauty
Mirror Mirror

In fact, I was able to find a common dissenter:

I agree with much that he says of Maguire's style. Maguire comes across to me as lofty and unapproachable. This is from one of my recent reviews 
"He writes in such a fashion that I feel he attempts a loftiness that isn't even legitimate. There are times when I reread a sentence that he has written and struggle with calling it a sentence..."

That said, I actually did give "Wicked" 4 out of 5 stars on my review of it. Still, I felt he left too many loose ends, even with the proposition of a sequel to follow. I felt there was no resolution for the main character. He also seemed to be making some broader statements of situations in our world but didn't do so to the point that I felt he achieved his point. I felt the story lacked a finish...it also left me feeling quite sad. I can handle feeling sad. That happened with David Nicholls brilliant book One Day. Nicholls' creativity at the end of the story allowed me to accept the sadness that culminated the story while rejoicing in the overall story. Brilliant, genius...I loved that.

My reading tastes are quite varied, I think. I read many genres. Due to that, I suppose I am not drawn only to what is currently popular. I am drawn to read books that I believe I will feel a connection with. For me, that connection may be to the characters, or to the setting, or even to the writing style. I have only read two Jane Austen titles so far. I think I am so drawn into them by the fact that we lived in England for two and a half years and I really do feel a connection to the people of Great Britain. I also find that I understand Miss Austen's humor with regard to class and social status without need of further explanation.

If a friend, or someone whose reviews I am familiar with, likes a book that is experiencing broad popularity, that will compel me to read it sooner than the fact that it is listed on a best-seller list. Thank you BookBelle and other online friends whose reviews I read monthly, mostly at Sonlight's forums.

I think my rating of a book reflects many things:
my enjoyment of it
my ability to feel a connection
a certain expression of humor or the understanding of humor even in serious matters
the ability to write in a particular style and stick with it
connection of all the little dots in the story line (don't leave me hanging, please)
the author's ability to convey information concisely and to back it up (non fiction)
cultural relevance, long-term (I think I am affected by this more for classics, books that will have lasting importance)

So, Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon?

04 April 2011

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse is 21. She lives with her father and from the age of 12 was raised by him and a live-in governess, Miss Taylor who is now the newly married Mrs. Weston. Emma set things rolling for that romance to take hold; at least she believes she did.

Emma has a passion for arranging couples. The book follows her as she sets out to arrange a fitting match for Miss Harriet Smith. Readers either cringe or enjoy the ride as they watch Emma woefully mess up Miss Smith's life for a time.

Through all of this Emma avers that she has no intention of every marrying. Of course that stand is well challenged by the end of the book.

I very much enjoyed reading this Jane Austen novel. The only other book of hers that I have read is Pride and Prejudice which I loved.  P&P was a masterpiece. I feel that Emma was a good book but not as witty or as culturally astute as P&P. I eagerly look forward to reading more of Miss Austen's works.

Oh, and I can't step away without saying the Mr. Woodhouse, described at the beginning of the book as a "valetudinarian:
a person who is excessively concerned about his or her poor health or ailments" really got on my nerves!
Emma (Penguin Classics)

03 April 2011

Let's look back at our reading goals for this year...


I have finished reading 16 titles this year.

Three are certainly titles that could be titled classics:
The count of Monte Cristo

I am sure that some would argue that PG Wodehouse should be classified as classic literature and some of his work is available in the public domain. 

So far, I still have not purchased any books this year. That is surely not going to continue much longer as two titles I have been waiting to be published have been: A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, and One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde. Hmmm...now that I think about it, I am going to see if my ebook lending service has either of those titles 
available for borrowing!

A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce NovelOne of Our Thursdays Is Missing: A Novel  

So, how are you doing towards reaching your reading goals for 2011?

free counters