Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ABC Favorites

I found this meme over at the The Book Lady's blog and wanted to give it a try:

A- Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

B- Blankets- Craig Thompson

C- Cat's Eye- Margaret Atwood

D- David Copperfield- Charles Dickens

E- Expecting Adam- Martha Beck

F- Fun Home- Alison Bechdel

G- Gone With the Wind- Margaret Mitchell

H- His Dark Materials Trilogy- Philip Pullman

I- In the Woods- Tana French

J- Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

K- The Keeping Days- Norma Johnston

L- Life of Pi- Yann Martel

M- Midnight is a Place- Joan Aiken

N- Nine Horses- Billy Collins

O- Olive Kitteridge- Elizabeth Strout

P- The Polysyllabic Spree- Nick Hornby


R- Remember Me- Laura Hendrie

S- The Shipping News- Annie Proulx

T- Three Junes- Julia Glass

U-The Used World- Haven Kimmel

V- Vida- Marge Piercy

W- The Woman in White- Wilkie Collins


Y- The Year of Magical Thinking- Joan Didion


I obviously couldn't think of anything for Q, X and Z. I'll be on the lookout for some titles that fit those letters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Shiniest Jewel- Marian Henley

I received a copy of this book free through Library Thing's Early Reviewers program. I was thrilled to get it because it was already on my Amazon Wishlist, signaling that I was prepared to pay good money for it. On top of the thrill of getting a free book is the realization that it's such a good one. Love, love, loved it!

The Shiniest Jewel is written in the style of a graphic novel and tells the story of Marion Henley's decision to adopt a baby from Russia and the chaos that follows, including parental reactions, illnesses, moves and the most frustrating bureaucratic maneuvers imaginable. Her story spares no detail of the process of International adoption and how it affects those who pursue it. In addition, there is the story of Marian's relationship with her aging father who falls ill just as the adoption process is starting to progress.

I loved the illustrations in the book and will long remember the face of the Orphanage Caregiver that led to the title of the book. This is a brave book. It ultimately shows the lengths that humans will go to love and cherish family members. Wherever they may be found.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Computer Antics

I got my computer back from the repair shop last Friday and eagerly wrote a long glowing post about my solitary read-a-thon. The computer froze again. It rejected all efforts made to revive it and back to the shop it went. All this with a laptop that is not yet six months old! Oy.

Anyway, I did enjoy my somewhat lonely read-a-thon experience. I can't wait to do it again in April and maybe next time I will actually be able to connect with others on-line. It's really difficult to stay awake with no outside support. The Great Dane was no help whatsoever, in fact, her excessively loud snoring made me think about sleep constantly. I also need better snacks. All the fruit was great until about 2a.m. when I was hit with an enormous chocolate craving. And no chocolate to be had anywhere...

I've been reading A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans and it's getting very, very creepy. I'll be sleeping with the lights on tonight!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crushing Disappointment

During hour two of the long-anticipated Read-a-Thon my computer crashed and was unable to be revived. (No matter how many times I attempted CPR!) I continued on by myself with no on-line support. To say I was disappointed doesn't really describe the feeling...

I soldiered on by myself and managed to complete five books and remain awake until 3:50a.m. Here's what I completed:
  • The Glen Rock Book of the Dead by Marion Winik 110 pgs.
  • Epilogue by Anne Roiphe (started before r-a-t) 28 pgs.
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen 290 pgs.
  • What Now by Ann Patchett 97 pgs.
  • Things I Learned about My Dad (in therapy 230 pgs.

Grand total : 769 pgs.

I was pretty proud of myself for taking on the challenge alone. It was surprisingly enjoyable just to give myself permission to do nothing but read for (most of ) 24 hours. I am looking forward to April with a great deal of anticipation! I'll post more about my solitary read-a-thon once the computer is back from the repair service. Thanks for all the supportive comments. It made me feel happy to see them today.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

24 Hour Read-a-Thon Hour 1

Where are you reading from today? My couch, my bed, my bookroom, I intend to move around!

3 facts about me … 1. I had trouble sleeping last night because I was so excited about this. It's like Christmas morning when you were six! 2. I lack computer skills....this might be obvious. 3. I have a Great Dane who will be my reading companion today.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? Nine or ten of my own books, seven library books, 464 unread books on shelves all over the house.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? My only goal is to really, really enjoy this.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? Not a veteran....this is my first time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

And Just When I Thought I Couldn't Be More Excited...

I won a box of ten spooky books from The Hidden Side of a Leaf!!!!! I've had several of these books on my wishlist including, Monsters and The Heretics's Daughter. I've been seeking out spooky books since reading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House a few weeks ago. I can't wait to get my hands on this box! Wow! I am now officially overexcited.

Read-a-thon Books

I've been collecting and saving books for the Read-a-thon for a few weeks now. Here's the pile comprised of my own TBR books:
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream- Shakespere ( book club selection for November)
  • What Now? -Ann Patchett
  • The Glen Rock Book of the Dead- Marion Winik
  • Garden Spells- Sarah Addison Allen
  • Bagthorpes Abroad- Helen Cresswell
  • Things I Learned about my Dad (in therapy)- Heather B. Armstrong
  • La Perdida- Jessica Abel
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie- Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • The Shiniest Jewel- Mariam Henley
  • The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted- Elizabeth Berg
  • Ballistics- Billy Collins

Here's the pile I borrowed from the library to have on hand:

  • The Girl Who Stopped Swimming- Joshilyn Jackson
  • How I Live Now- Meg Rosoff
  • The Sugar Queen- Sarah Addison Allen
  • A Good and Happy Child- Justin Evans
  • My Stroke of Insight- Jill Bolte Taylor
  • Goldengrove-Francine Prose

Does anyone have any ideas about where to start?

Of course, at last count on Library Thing, the TBR selections in my house number in the 400's. No, that's not a typo...I think I have plenty to choose from. I can't decide if I want to pick up a long book I'll likely get lost in, or dip in and out of several. I am absurdly excited about this whole read-a-thon thing! I can barely wait until morning to get started.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


One of my main motivations for starting a blog was so that I could become a joiner. I read about reading challenges and the Sunday Salon and other fascinating reading projects. I lurking on the sidelines watching and dreaming...and then came the read-a-thon, hosted by Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf. Reading the posts from the last two Read-a-thons I was seized with envy. Really, what a wonderful idea! An excuse to devote twenty-four hours to nothing but reading and writing about reading. Count me in! And thus, this blog was born.

I could not be more excited about my participation in this event. I've been creating a pile of books so that I will have many to choose from, thinking about the all important snacks and gently encouraging the boyfriend to find ways to amuse himself on Saturday, October 18th. From one former lurker, won't you consider joining us? Sign up at The Hidden Side of a Leaf. You know you want to.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I abandoned my brand new blog due to many strange and unavoidable circumstances:

1. I had an opportunity to go to Canada on the spur of the moment to visit with a friend from England that I haven't seen in seventeen years. It was a fantastic reunion! We were in the small Canadian town where we went to college. Nothing like old friends and old places to bring memories flooding back.

2. My best friend suffered the death of a close family member and needed much support and time. I was glad to be able to help in any small way.

3. My boyfriend's mother visited from Florida prompting a flurry of housecleaning and nail biting. This was her first visit to our home. Thankfully, she was warm and pleasant, although a bit overwhelmed by all the books!

I hope to return to the book talk in the next day or two. I've been reading and purchasing books at an unprecedented rate. Can't wait to share!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

I finished Unaccustomed Earth and had to quickly return it to the library before the fines went through the roof. Prior to reading this, I wondered if Ms. Lahiri would be able to return to the themes used in her previous books of immigrants, expatriates and first generation Americans and keep them fresh and interesting. The mystery is over. Unaccustomed Earth continues to explore nuances of the familiar themes and, as usual, I was captivated. I think that in Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri manages to expand on the themes done so brilliantly in the Pulitzer Prize winning, Interpreter of Maladies. I was again transported into the world of those who do not quite fit in. I raced through this book, partially because I couldn't stand to stop reading in the middle of any of the stories. I needed to know how the tiny domestic details would build into the whole of the story. I look forward to purchasing and reading this again, more carefully this time, in order to savour the beautiful prose. Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Apologies

I must apologize for my fumble fingers that somehow resulted in the many weird indents in my quote from Jean Thompson's book, Throw Like a Girl. Sorry, sorry, sorry. My computer adventures are frustrating, but also exciting. I'm always hesitant to challenge myself to try new things. However, I'm committed to this blog project and I keep telling myself that eventually I will learn all the skills. Let's hope anyway...

In the mail today, I received a review copy of Two Marriages by Phillip Lopate. Huge excitement! I joined Library Thing's Early Reviewers group in June and this is the first book I've been sent. Can't wait to read it. I probably would have purchased this if I hadn't snagged a copy since I enjoy his essays. Any day that includes a free book is a good day indeed!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: Throw Like a Girl by Jean Thompson

Throw Like a Girl is a collection of short stories that illustrate the inner lives of women of all ages. All of these stories pull you in, lull into a familiar world and then take a sharp curve toward the unexpected. Jean Thompson expects you to hang on for this ride and you do, because as in all great story telling you must find out what comes next.

I'm older now than he was when he died. Things happen to the body over time that
are God's practical joke, and I don't much like this face I've got now. My life turned
out pretty ordinary. Not great, not awful, I'm not complaining. Nobody looking at me
now would guess there had ever been anything wild in me, anything as desperate as
that loving. I know we're meant to grow from experience, like a tree, send out roots
and branches of wisdom and patience and understanding. But my best and truest self
was a tree in blossom. All those years since, there's a sense in which they count for less,
even as they take up space, crowd out the past. That quick, there goes your life, like
a black-haired boy on a motorcycle, looking back until he's out of sight.
Jean Thompson, Lost

I love that last sentence. It slams right into my heart.

My favorite story in the this book was Pie of the Month. It combines small town America, elderly ladies making pie, the economy, immigration and war. I was cheering by the end of the story. Check out this collection, but fasten your seatbelt. It's quite a ride.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Library Books are Overdue Yet Again

In today's mail I received a nice note from one of the three (yes, I said three) libraries I frequent stating that I have overdue books. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Despite my best intentions, I often need to pay for my practice of borrowing much more than I can read in two weeks. As a result, I am flying through Unaccustomed Earth by Jumpha Lahiri. Luckily, I'm loving it. I also want to finish The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. It's an interesting NF read about a man who travels the globe looking for the happiest places, and people on earth. Hint: they aren't at Disneyland! I will need to finish both of these before the local librarians issue a price for my head. At least it's giving me an excuse to leave Corelli and his everlasting Mandolin alone.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome to the shelves

I'm excited to write this, my first blog post! I've been inspired by reading the book blogs of others and longing to participate. However, being nearly computer illiterate, I was not at all sure creating a blog would be as easy as the directions promised. We'll see...

Right now I'm reading :

  • Crazy School by Cornelia Read
  • Throw like a Girl by Jean Thompson
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Books by Larry McMurtry
  • Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieries (book club selection)

I usually read several books at one time and pick them up according to my mood. I'm having the hardest time with Corelli's Mandolin. I just can't seem to connect with it. If anyone out there has read this and enjoyed it, please give me hope!

I hope to figure out how to add a blogroll and my list of books read in 2008. Please check back to monitor my stumbling progress into blog land.