Wednesday, December 26, 2007

January goals...

Okay, so it's true that I've already posted about my new Christams books today, but now I think I am going to be setting some January goals. I may be extremely busy during January since I'm getting ready to move from Seattle to San Diego (or from Canado to Mexico as my dad likes to say) around January 12th, but I am determined that since I have no job other than packing and moving, I will most likely have some down time. And in that down time I intend to read a great deal. And so my goal is to finish the two novels in my 'Currently Reading' list (the histories and non fiction can sometimes take me A WHILE) and the five novels in my 'In Line to be Read' list. And since I oftentimes will change up those lists, I will be writing them all down here to make sure I don't forget.

Adolphe - Benjamin Constant
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Persuasion - Jane Austin
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
LA Confidential - James Ellroy
Monks Hood - Ellis Peters
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg

Number 1 on my New Years Resolutions list!

Chirstmastime is here...

Christmastime has come and gone. I'm always a little sad the day after Christmas. I love the holidays. But now it's time to start thinking of those New Years resolutions. Hmm... I had a good Christmas. We've reconnected with some family that we haven't seen in about twelves years, my Aunt Jan and Cousin Eric. And of course my Granny and Auntie Lamb came. Through Christmas I have received only three books (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Cast Two Shadows by Ann Rinaldi), but also a gift card to Barnes and Nobles to buy myself more. Two of these books are on my Expanding Your Horizons list, so yea! I think I'm going to take this gift card and spend some of it on Phillippa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover. I don't know about the rest. But it will be a good new year of reading!

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's been a while, but there's more...

Penguin Classics - F
1. The Faerie Queene - Edmund Spenser
2. A Fairly Honourable Defeat - Iris Murdoch
3. The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allen Poe
4. Far from the Maddening Crowd - Thomas Hardy
5. Father and Son - Edmund Gosse
6. Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev
7. Faust - Johann Wolfgang Goeth
8. Fear and Trembling - Soren Kierkegaard
9. Felix Holt, the Radical - George Eliot
10. The Fiddler of the Reels - Thomas Hardy
11. The Fifth Business - Robertson Davies
12. The Fifth Queen - Ford Madox Ford
13. The Figure in the Carpet - Henry James
14. Finnegan's Wake - James Joyce
15. First Love - Ivan Turgenev
16. Five Children and It - E. Nesbit
17. The Flame Trees of Thika - Elspeth Huxley
18. Flatland - Edwin A. Abbott
19. The Four Feathers - AEW Mason
20. The Fox, The Captain's Doll, The Ladybird - DH Lawrence
21. Framley Parsonage - Anthony Trollope
22. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
23. French Provincial Cooking - Elizabeth David

Monday, December 10, 2007

Expanding my horizons...

Hmmm...another new challenge. This time, the Expanding Horizons challenge, hosted by Melissa at the Book Nut:

Between January and April 2008, choose four books in one category, or one book from each category. And the categories are (by author):

- African
- Asian
- Indian
- Latino
- Middle Eastern
- Native Peoples

I have chosen the second challenge, one from each category. While my list is subject to change, it currently stands as:

African: Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi (Nigeria)
Asian: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See (China)
Indian: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard - Kiran Desai (India)
Latino: Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Maquez (Colombia)
Middle Eastern: The Saffron Kitchen - Yasmin Crowther (Iran)
Native Peoples: The Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera (New Zeland - Maori)

Don't be a hater...

It is now Christmas time. And with that comes great tradition. I love that most families have very specific traditions that they follow to a tee every year. My traditions with my family include watchign certain Christmas movies, or listening to certain Christmas cds. My dad finds new Christmas songs to learn on the guitar and my sisters and I sing them at church. My whole family goes to see the Christmas Revels in Tacoma a few weeks before Christmas. My sisters, dad, and I wake up early and arrive at the mall before everything's open to enjoy a breakfast of cinnabons on the morning of Christmas Eve.

One of my mom's favorite Christmas movies to watch is the Rankin and Bass clay-mation Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And so last night the family (inlcuding Katie's boyfriend Eddy) all piled into the living room to watch Rudolph. And while we sat there watching, a thought crossed my mind that I hav never thought before.

Santa Claus is a hater.

I'm not even kidding. If you watch the movie, Santa knows about Rudolph's nose from the very beginning and tells Donner, his father, that he's got to get rid of it. He won't let him join the sleigh team. Tells him straight up that it's because of his nose. It's only at the end when Rudolph's nose can do something for him that he lets him join the team.

I never would have thought that the jolly old fat man himself would be such a hater.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lost treasures...

I have had LA Confidential in my "In Line To Be Read" list for quite some time. To be honest, I bought it and started to read it once before, probably close to a year ago, but I don't think I got much farther than the first chapter. It's next on my list of the "100 Greatest Novels" and so it's next on my "In Line To Be Read" list and since I finished reading The Cement Garden, I figured now would be a good time to try again. Unfortunately, I can't find it! I don't know what I've done with the book. And so to tied me over until I find it, I've started rereading the Brother Cadfael mysteries, an immensely delightful series of murder mystery novels about and 11th century monk playing detective. One thing about the Brother Cadfael series, and really any series for me, is when I want to read them I have to start at the beginning. It's one of my super weird quirks, but I absolutely will not ever read a series of books out of order. There are roughly 21 books in this series. My favorite Brother Cadfael book is the second, One Corpse Too Many, but if I decide I want to read it, I have to read A Morbid Taste For Bones first. And then if I quit reading them for a while and then want to start reading them again, I have to start at the beginning. Which is possibly why I've never been able to make it past the 9th book and I've read the first few a ridiculous amount of time. It's a good thing I enjoy the first few so much.

On love and sadness...

Am currently a bit put out. I have waited all day to go out tonight with my sister and her boyfriend and go and see the movie Atonement. I read the book about a year ago and adored it, and I was so excited when I discovered it was going to be a movie, even more so when I knew it would star Keira Knightly and James McAvoy as Cecilia and Robbie. But now it turns out that I will be spending the evening at home not watching Atonement. It seems my little town of Poulsbo is too small and is not included in the movies limited release circle. Boo.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

And more...

Penguin Classics - E
1. Early Irish Myths and Sagas - Various
2. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
3. Effi Briest - Theodore Fontane
4. Egli's Saga - Anonymous
5. Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
6. Electra and Other Plays - Sophocles
7. The Emigrants - Gilbert Imlay
8. Eminent Victorians - Lytton Strackey
9. Emma - Jane Austin
10. The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
11. England Made Me - Graham Greene
12. The Enormous Room - EE Cummings
13. The Epic of Gilgamesh
14. Erewhon - Samuel Butler
15. Esther - Henry Adams
16. Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
17. Eugene Onegin - Alexander Pushkin
18. Eugenie Grandet - Honore de Balzac
19. The Europeans - Henry James
20. The Eustace Diamonds - Anthony Trollope
21. Evelina - Frances Burney
22. Exemplary Stories - Miguel de Cervantes
23. Exile's Return - Malcolm Cowley

I will never tire of lists...

Penguin Classics - D
1. Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy - Jean Webster
2. Daisy Miller - Henry James
3. The Damnation of Theron Ware - Harold Frederic
4. The Damned - Joris-Karl Huysmans
5. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
6. Dangling Man - Saul Bellow
7. Daphnis and Chloe - Longus
8. De Profundis and Other Writings - Oscar Wilde
9. Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol
10. The Dean's December - Saul Bellow
11. Death in Venice and Other Tales - Thomas Mann
12. The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories - Leo Tolstoy
13. The Death of King Arthur - Anonymous
14. Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
15. The Decameron - Giovanni Boccaccio
16. The Deerslayer - James Fenimore Cooper
17. Desperate Remedies - Thomas Hardy
18. The Devils - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
19. The Dhammapada - Anonymous
20. The Diary of Lady Murasaki - Murasaki Shikibu
21. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories - Nikolai Gogol
22. The Distracted Preacher and Other Sotries - Thomas Hardy
23. The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri
24. A Dolls House and Other Plays - Henrik Ibsen
25. Domesday Book - G Martin
26. Don Juan - Lord Byron
27. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
28. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
29. Dr. Wortle's School - Anthony Trollope
30. Dombey and Son - Charles Dickens
31. Dracula - Bram Stoker
32. The Dreams in the Witch House - HP Lovecraft
33. The Drinking Den - Emile Zola
34. Dubliners - James Joyce
35. Duluth - Gore Vidal

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Cement Garden - Ian McEwan

the cement garden
ian mcewan
c. 1978
153 pages

After reading and completely loving Atonement, I felt compelled to try reading more Ian McEwan. I thought, perhaps I had found a new author where I needed to read their complete works. After reading this book I may have to think again.

This was my second attempt at The Cement Garden. I tried about six months ago and couldn't get past the first chapter. It just had no hold over me. This second time I was able to get into it a little more. It only took me about a week to read.

This is probably one of the most bizarre books I've ever read. Not that bizarre is necessarily bad. I knew going into it that this would be a slightly twisted book, but all the main elements: the dead mother in the trunk, Jack's feelings for his sister Julie, Tom's need to still be a baby, etc, were just so out there.

It's interesting to note that this book has often been compared to Lord of the Flies with it's theme of the behavior of children when they are completely left to their own devices. And you can definitely see the similarities. However in this book you have parents for probably the first half. It's true, the children had a fairly remote and isolated existence due in part to their parents, but they still had them. They had rules and regulations for the first half of this book and it's interesting to see how quickly they're dropped with the removal of adult figures.

An interesting read, though I wasn't always sure what I was supposed to be getting out of it.



Penguin Classics - C
1. Caleb Williams - Willaim Godwin
2. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories - HP Lovecraft
3. The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories - Jack London
4. Can You Forgive Her? - Anthony Trollope
5. Candide - Voltaire
6. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
7. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
8. Captain Blood - Rafael Sabatini
9. Captains Couragous - Rudyard Kipling
10. Carpenter's Gothic - William Gaddis
11. The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole
12. Castle Rackrent and Ennui - Maria Edgeworth
13. Chance - Joseph Conrad
14. The Charterhouse of Parma - Stendhal
15. Chattering Courtesans and Other Sardonic Sketches - Lucien
16. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
17. Chronicles - Jean Froissart
18. Chronicles of the Canongate - Walter Scott
19. Chronicles of the Crusades - Jean de Joinville
20. The Cid, Cinna, The Theatrical Illusion - Pierre Corneille
21. Clarissa - Samuel Richardson
22. Clotel, or the President's Daughter - William Wells Brown
23. The Clown - Heinrich Boll
24. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
25. The Comedians - Graham Greene
26. The Comedies - Terence
27. The Comedy of Errors - William Shakespeare
28. Coming, Aphrodite! - Willa Cather
29. The Complete Fairy Tales - George MacDonals
30. The Complete Plays - Christopher Marlowe
31. Con Men and Cut Purses - Lucy Moore
32. The Conference of the Birds - Farid-Ud-Din Attar
33. Confessions of an English Opium Eater - Thomas de Quincey
34. The Confidence-Man - Herman Melville
35. The Confusions of Young Torless - Robert Musil
36. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
37. Coriolanus - William Shakespeare
38. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
39. The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia - Philip Sidney
40. Cousin Bette - Honore de Balzac
41. Cousin Pons - Honore de Balzac
42. The Crab Flower Club - Cao Xueqin
43. Cranford and Cousin Phillis - Elizabeth Gaskell
44. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
45. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
46. The Cruise of the Snark - Jack London
47. Cup of Gold - John Steinbeck
48. The Custom of the Country - Edith Wharton
49. Cymbeline - William Shakespeare

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Twists for Oliver...

Ok, so I know that this blog is supposed to be my reading blog, but I figure maybe I can talk on other media as well.

It's been a few days now since I've seen this movie, and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it was a fairly bizzare modern day Oliver Twist. It was sappy and predictable, and some parts were a little far fetched. I really thought from the previews that Robin William's character was supposed to be good and helpful, but just kidding. He was a lot angrier than Fagin ever was. And the scene where the ochestra is practicing August's symphony and Wizard says he's August's father, I couldn't understand why August agreed and went with him. He'd spent all that time looking for his parents. Why would he say someone else was his father?

However, on the other hand, you couldn't help but fall in love with August and Hope, and even Lyla and Luis. And at the end while you're listening to the symphany and you see Lyla see August and Luis see Lyla, you can't help but get that warm fuzzy feeling.

So. Not fabulous, but still fun.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Penguin Classics - B
1. Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis
2. The Bacchae and Other Plays - Euripides
3. The Barber of Seville and The Marraige of Figaro - Bede
4. Barchester Towers - Anthony Trollope
5. Barnaby Rudge - Charles Dickens
6. Bayou Folk and a Night in Acadie - Kate Chopin
7. The Beautiful and Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me - Richard Farina
9. The Beggar's Opera - John Gay
10. Bel-Ami - Guy de Maupassant
11. The Bell - Iris Murdoch
12. Beowulf - Anonymous
13. The Betrothed - Alessandro Manzoni
14. Between Past and Future - Hannah Arendt
15. The Bhagavad Gita - Anonymous
16. Billiards at Half Past Nine - Heinrich Boll
17. Billy Budd and Other Stories - Herman Melville
18. The Birds and Other Plays - Aristophanes
19. Black Lamb and Gray Falcon - Rebecca West
20. The Black Prince - Iris Murdoch
21. The Black Sheep - Honore de Balzac
22. The Black Tulip - Alexandre Dumas
23. The Blazing World and Other Writings - Margaret Cavendish
24. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
25. The Blithedale Romance - Nathaniel Hawthorne
26. The Book of the City of Ladies - Christine de Pizan
27. The Book of the Courtier - Baldesar Castiglione
28. The Book of Lamentations - Rosario Castellnos
29. The Bostonians - Henry James
30. The Bounty Mutiny - William Bligh
31. Brand - Henrik Ibsen
32. The Bride of Lammermoor - Walter Scott
33. Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
34. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
35. A Burnt-Out Case - Graham Greene
36. Burning Bright - John Steinbeck

Monday, November 26, 2007


The Penguin Classics - A
1. Adam Bede - George Eliot
2. The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
5. The Aeneid - Virgil
6. The Alexiad - Anna Comnena
7. Adolphe - Benjamin Constant
8. The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow
9. The Adventures of David Simple - Sarah Fielding
10. Against Nature - Jori-Karl Huysmans
11. Agape Agape - William Gaddis
12. The Age of Alexander - Plutarch
13. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
14. Agnes Gray - Anne Bronte
15. The Agricola and the Germania - Tacitus
16. The Aleph and Other Stories - Jorge Luis Borges
17. Alfred the Great - Anonymous
18. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
19. All My Sons - Arthur Miller
20. All's Well That Ends Well - William Shakespeare
21. The Ambassadors - Henry James
22. The American - Henry James
23. Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner
24. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
25. Antony and Cleopatra - William Shakespeare
26. An Apology for Raymond Sebond - Michael de Montaigne
27. Apocalypse - DH Lawrence
28. Armadale - Wilkie Collins
29. Around the Wolrd in 80 Days - Jules Verne
30. Arthurian Romances - Chretien de Troyes
31. As I Crossed the Bridege of Dreams - Sarashina
32. As You Like It - William Shakespeare
33. At Fault - Kate Chopin
34. Au Bonheur de Dames - Emile Zola
35. The Awakening and Selected Stories - Kate Chopin
36. The Awkward Age - Henry James

A lover of lists....

I am an ardent lover of lists. I like to make lists of whatever I am doing. I especially like to find lists books, list of the greatest novels, most evil villians, banned books, whatever. And then I plan to read all of them. Unfortunately, I'm much better at FINDING the lists then I am at READING the lists. I have so many, but I don't get too far.

The London Observer's 100 Greatest Novels
100. Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald
99. American Pastoral - Philip Roth
98. Northern Lights - Philip Pullman
97. Atonement - Ian McEwan
96. Wise Children - Angela Carter
95. LA Confidential - James Ellroy
94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Salmon Rushdie
93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera
92. Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey
91. An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguru
90. Money - Martin Amis
89. The Periodic Table - Primo Levi
88. The BFG - Roald Dahl
87. The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster
86. Lanark - Alasdair Gray
85. Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson
84. Waiting for the Barbarians - J.M. Coetzee
83. A Bend in the River - V.S. Naipaul
82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino
81. The Executioner's Song - Norman Mailer
80. The Bottle Factory Outing - Beryl Bainbridge
79. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Le Carre
77. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont - Elizabeth Taylor
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
75. Herzog - Saul Bellow
74. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
73. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
71. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
70. The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass
69. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
68. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
67. The Quiet American - Graham Greene
66. The Lord of the Flies - William Golding
65. Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
64. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
63. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
62. Wise Blood - Flannery O'Conner
61. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
60. Malone Dies - Samuel Beckett
59. 1984 - George Orwell
58. The Plague - Albert Camus
57. The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
56. The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
55. USA - John Dos Passos
54. Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
53. Brave New World - Aldous Huckley
52. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
51. Journey to the End of the Night - Louis-Ferdinand Celine
50. Men Without Women - Ernest Hemmingway
49. The Trial - Franz Kafka
48. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
47. A Passage to India - E.M. Forster
46. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
45. Ulysses - James Joyce
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan
43. The Good Soldier - Ford Madox Ford
42. The Rainbow - D.H. Lawrence
41. In Search of Lost Time - Marcel Proust
40. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
39. Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
38. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
37. The Riddle of the Sands - Erskine Childers
36. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
35. The Diary of Nobody - George Grossmith
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
33. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome
32. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
31. Huckelberry Finn - Mark Twain
30. The Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
29. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dosteoevsky
28. Daniel Deronda - George Eliot
27. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
26. The Way We Live Now - Anthony Trollope
25. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
24. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
23. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
22. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
21. Moby-Dick - Herman Melville
20. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
19. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
18. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
17. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
16. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
15. Sybil - Benjamin Disraeli
14. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
13. The Charterhouse of Parma - Stendhal
12. The Black Sheep - Honore de Balzac
11. Nightmare Abbey - Thomas Love Peacock
10. Frankenstine - Mary Shelley
9. Emma - Jane Austin
8. Dangerous Liasons - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
7. Tristram Shandy - Laurence Sterne
6. Clarissa - Smauel Richardson
5. Tom Jones - Henry Fielding
4. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
3. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
2. Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan
1. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes

Strike through are books that I've read and Italics are books I've attempted. I started at the end of the list and am working my way back towards the greatest novel of all time. I imagine I'll reread some of those already tried or read before. Most have only been attempted or read once, and then quite some time ago. We'll see how I do!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory

the boleyn inheritance
philippa gregory
c. 2007
544 pages

This is now the fifth Philippa Gregory novel I have completed. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction writers. There is one more that has already been written into this Tudor series that I have to read, The Virgin's Lover, mostly about Queen Elizabeth and Lord Dudley, I believe. And then she is coming out with a new one next year, The Other Queen, about Mary Queen of Scotts. I will have to aquire that one as well.

One of my absolute favorite things about her books, at least in this series, is how these characters are seen in multiple books and yet they are not the same person. Each story shows a completely different side and characterization of these people leaving them so deep and complex. You see Henry VIII grow from being a child in The Constant Princess, to a handsome and intelligent king in The Other Boleyn Girl, and lastly into crazed old tyrant in The Boleyn Inheritance. Each book tells a different chapter and let's you put another piece into the puzzle that was the reign of the Tudors.

I also love that she is making sure to include everyone. There are only a few people in the family she has yet to really touch on. She is working on Mary, Queen of Scotts. Maybe Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife will be next.

As for this book itself, I thought the characterization of the three women was incredible. As was said in her author's note it is generally accepted that Anne of Cleaves was ugly and Katherine Howard was stupid. This book, instead fleshed them out to let us understand those generalizations. Anne of Cleave's brought with her clothes and customs that were not the norm of England. She was not ugly, just different. In fact, this book continued to remark on her prettiness, even thinking the king might relent and ask for her back. As for Katherine Howard, we see that she was so much stupid as young and uneducated. She was fifteen when the king married her. And she was shown very little love from those who should have been looking out for her. Instead she was used merely as a pawn for her family's, namely her uncle's, advancement.

The fate's of the two queen's were already known by me before reading this book, however that did not stop that small, irrational hope that something could spare Katherine's life. Her odd request of having the block in her cell so that she could practice before she was executed brought tears to my eyes. At least she was prepared as she liked to be.

I was definitely not prepared for the Duke's betrayal of Jane. Her death came as an immense shock to me. I thought she would be just like the Duke and survive when all the others were dead and gone. Not so. The portrayal of those sences was incredible, her death being just as much a shock to the reader as it was to her.

I really hope that when the subject of the Tudor's has been exhausted, Philippa Gregory merely moves on to her next family.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Decades Challenge 2008

I am still fairly new to this whole book blog phenomenon. And as such, have only just begun reading others and looking at the challenges that they offer. I (sort of, kind of) participated in the RIP Challenge and have now been searching through other blogs to find more. I have decided on the Decades Challenge 2008! It seems nice and slow. All I have to do is read books from different decades. And I have all year to do it. The requirement is 8 books, but I have decided on 12, one book for each month of 2008. My list, though it is subject to change, currently stands as:

1. Persuasion - Jane Austin (1818)
2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving (1820)
3. The Red and the Black - Stendhal (1830)
4. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (1847)
5. Madame Bovary - Gustav Flaubert (1856)
6. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (1868)
7. Daisy Miller - Henry James (1878)
8. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
9. Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde (1890)
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1905)
11. Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter (1913)
12. The Beautiful and Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922)

It's possible this list is a bit to ambitious for me (let's be for real, I was only able to read 14 books so far this year), but we'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

something wicked this way comes
ray bradbury
c. 1962
312 pages

This is the second book I read for the RIP Challenge. I think I liked this one quite a bit better, though I cannot tell you why. If you really think about it, the story of this book is rediculous. An evil carnival full of freaks who can live forever because of their magic carousel.

I think what I liked about this book was mostly the prose style, for Ray Bradbury has an amazong way with words, and also the backdrop of Indiana in the '60's and the characterization of boys and Will's father. This is one of my favorite time periods, the innocence and simplicity of the '60's. And even and evil carnival couldn't break that magic for me.


The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

the castle of otranto
horace walpole
c. 1764
128 pages

I read this book as one of the two to be used for my RIP Challenge. I chose this book as it is said to be the first of the gothic fiction genre. I read this one first because it was considerably shorter. I am proud to say I completed my challenge, though I was definitley not a huge fan of this book. Maybe the genre itself I could get more into, but this one in particular just didn't do it for me.

The story itself is fairly simple. And short. Guy dies and in order to save the family line his evil father decides to put aside his own wife and marry his son's bride. However a lot of supernatural stuff stands in the way: spirits, a giant, a mysterious peasant, etc. So, what I didn't like was that at the end you find out that really this guy is mostly evil because his grandfather stole this castle from somebody. This guy didn't steal anything, his grandfather did.

The ending came about pretty aprubtly. I hate that. If all this stuff has been happening, you shouldn't take a page and a half to explain and end the story.


Wise Children - Angela Carter

wise children
angela carter
c. 1991
240 pages

This book is number 96 on the London Observer's "100 Greatest Novels" list, and more than likely, had it not been for me finding that list and deciding that I was going to read them all, I probably would never have heard of this books, much less have read it. And so I would like to say, "Thank you, London Observer!"

I was greatly surprised and delighted by the book. It is so much different from the things I normally read. As we have pretty firmly established, I am a historical fiction girl, and by that we generally mean British history around the time of Henry the VIII or American History around the time of the American Revolution. And this, instead, is Britain and a small bit of America in the 20th century revolving around the theater.

The characters of Nora and Dora Chance are hilarious. They are funny and sad, smart and frivolous, and Dora tells the story of their lives so colorfully and shamelessly. I absolutely loved them, and definitely plan on looking into reading more by Angela Carter.

This book did bring to a head a question I have started to develop after reading other books, generally by British authors, the British have a different idea of what constitutes incest? Is it okay for people stuff with their aunts and uncles? Hmmm...maybe this is a question for my sister's British boyfriend.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wicked - Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire
c. 1996
450 pages

I wanted to like this book so much. I really did. I’ve read other things by Gregory Maguire (and by other things I mean ONE other thing, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, which I believe I enjoyed, if I remember correctly) and have others I would like to read (Mirror, Mirror and Lost), but I just did not like this book. I read it, once again, mostly because Kim gave it to me. As a six month anniversary present, no less. We were going to go see the play during our fall break from AmeriCorps, but never got around to it.

Anyway, back to the book. I think maybe there was just too much going on, too much politics and terrorism for me to keep a real grasp on what was happening. And then I would get bored and skim over passages and then I would be even more confused.

Not to say the book was completely awful. Others may revel in the political themes. I for one enjoyed when they were at Shiz and even some whan Elphaba was in the Emerald City. I do have to say, and this will be a SPOILER for any who have not read this, I missed the fact the Fiyero died. I really did. I know that he went bak to Elphaba’s apartment and he was attacked, but it totally did not register for a while that he had died. I really just thought he’d gotten beat up until I was talking to my sister and she said he died. And event then I didn’t believe her because she never finished the book. And they kept talking about the mystery of his death, that his body wasn’t found and so it wasn’t until the very end of the book that I finally accepted that eh was dead. I was right there with Elphaba believing he was coming to her in the form of the Scarecrow. And was probably just as dismayed when I finally had to accept that he wasn’t.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

It is always possible to stretch oneself...

Due to the fact that Monday is October 1, I have decided to try something new. I am not normally one to revel in Halloween and all its mysteries. Last year, for example, practically the whole corps at my NCCC campus turned up at the RendezVous in full costume for a night of ridiculous drunken fun. I was there, no doubt. In fact, two of my housemates and I were the first ones there. However, the three of us point blank refused to dress up. This year I think dressing up may be fun and just might happen (though what I'll be I haven't yet decided).

Another something I have decided is I'm going to try something new with reading. Wow, that sounds super lame. As Kim was nice enough to point out to me last night. I'd had a really good day, too, and she ruined it by calling me lame. Anyway, being as it is Halloween time and I read something of this sort on someone else's book blog, I have decided to have my own personal RIP (readers imbibing peril) Challenge. (You can find the real RIP Challenge here at Stainless Steel Droppings). For myself, all I want is to be able to read two horror books by Halloween. This really does not sound like much, but for me, one who is really not a fan of the horror genre in general, this is quite a challenge for me. Especially since that only gives me a month and I don't read very fast.

My two books will be:
1. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
2. The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

Despite a few apprehensions and Kim calling me lame, I'm actually quite excited!

Sex With the Queen - Eleanor Herman

Sex With the Queen
Eleanor Herman
c. 2006
322 pages

Still with the history. Don't make fun. I picked this book up a Barnes and Nobles just as something to skim for a bit while waiting for Cynthia to finish browsing and ended up buying it instead. I had seen Elenor Herman’s first book on this sort of subject, Sex With Kings, and had thought of skimming it before, though never had actually picked it up. Now I’m not so sure I actually will.

Not to say that this was an uninteresting book. Basically it’s just a book thorugh history about Queens and sex, whether with their husbands or with secret lovers. Some of the accounts were of people I’d never heard of, generally in countries such as parts of Scandanavia or Eastern Europe. There was a lot of fairly inside information. And a lot was incredibly interesting, delving this far into the personal lives of these figures. My main complaint with the book is this: A lot of the accounts were somewhat similar and so there were times I could easily get bored. Princess has to marry someone super unfortunate, she falls in love with a new hot guy, they start getting down and dirty, and so he’s eventually either murdered or executed. One somewhat selfish issue I found by the end of this book was I was tired of deciding I liked someone only to have them killed. Though this is a problem one will always find when reading anything, especially history.

And one last thing, I find it is interesting to note that there are many accounts throughout history of kings being homosexual. And not just the creepy ones, something I think is often portrayed. For instance, someone as manly as King Richard the Lionheart of England was supposedly doing King Phillip the Fair of France back before the Crusades. And I believe the book Sex With Kings is peppered with these homosexual accounts. However, in Sex With the Queen, there is only one report of any royal lesbian action. This is not really a complaint, for who can complain because a history books lacks mention of something that didn’t happen, just something interesting I observed.


Friday, August 17, 2007

A prospect of purchase...

I think I deserve a present. I am trying to come up with some kind of reason as to why I deserve this present...something along the lines of, "it's been a really hard year in AmeriCorps this year," is all I can come up with at this point. At any rate, I have decided my present is going to be the purchase of two new books, one in particular that has been quite difficult to find. I have looked at just about every Barnes and Nobles I have come across, but I have just been completely unable to find a copy of The Alexiad by Anna Comna. The only place I can find it it off I think I have mentioned before my obsession with book lists. There are two main book lists that I am attempting to read. One is the complete title list of all Penguin classics (Penguin being the publishing company) and the other is the London Observer's 100 greatest novels list. I have not completed anything off these lists yet this year (though I am trying with Benjamin Constant's Adolphe), and so both of my new books will be off these lists. I am reading them in order, Penguin in alphabetical by title, and the Observer in countdown fashion. Eventually I will get to the greatest novel of all time. And so. In 3-5 business days I will be the proud owner of The Alexiad by Anna Comna and Angela Carter's Wise Children. This prospect makes me happy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Respectable Trade - Phillippa Gregory

a respectable trade
philippa gregory
c. 1992

488 pages

Was I in any way kidding when I said most of the books I read are historical fiction? Apparently not.

This is not the first novel I've read by Philippa Gregory, in fact I have now read four and some. Before this I have completed The Other Bolyne Girl, The Queen's Fool, and The Constant Princess, as well as attempting The Wise Woman and Wideacre, neither of which I enjoyed resulting in me not completing them. I do think I should try The Wise Woman again, however.

It think that out of the four I've read this was my least favorite. Perhaps it was the lack of courtly drama, but it just did not move for me the way the others did. I couldn't get too invested in any of the characters. I liked Francis and Mehuru okay, but was not enthralled with what happened to them.

It was interestig listening to Sarah's hysterics. I don't think you often hear people claiming that they are better suited for handling money and business because they were born lower than that with whom they are arguing. I also was intrigued since this is an area of history I know very little about. Growing up in the US I am fairly well versed in the slave trade that climaxed at the civil war, but I know extremely little about the British point of view, how slavery was used and eventually abolished in Britain and on the West Indies plantations.

The book was decent. I do not entirely understand how Mehuru grew to love Francis, but really who can explain love. I also though the ending came about real quick. Things were moving along slowly, then all of a sudden Francis was pregnant, all of a sudden shit hit the fan with Josiah and the Hot Springs, and then BOOP! Francis was dead.


It was a small matter of discouragement...

Things seem to be looking up slightly. I have been able to read a little more. Possibly because I am stuck at Camp Hope(less) in Violet, LA every weekend instead of out and about with my girl like the last two rounds. Really, whose idea was it to put her in Pittsburgh? I am still trying to set up this blog quite the way I want it to be. As always I am having some difficulties. Mostly I'm not sure how many lists I should add. I love lists. I am, in many ways, unfortunate. I am discouraged however. I am in the business of volunteering. One does not aquire much money out of this. And because I have to travel so much I really can't utilize local libraries and the like. And so I am forced to spend the little money I have. Or sit in Barnes and Nobles for hours reading books in rediculous installments.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling

harry potter and the deathly hallows
jk rowling
c. 2007
784 pages

Ok, I will be for real real and not for play play and admit that not only do I absolutely love Harry Potter, but I was so totally at Barnes and Nobles at midnight getting my book. I still have my little paper bracelet on my wrist saying I preordered my book, though I suppose that's kind of gross. I did not in any way want to put that book down until I finished it. Sunday afternoon I was done, and crying. In a small attempt to save a little of my dignity, I want all to know that I did NOT dress up for the event.

There's so much that I could say on the subject of the last Harry Potter book. First let me say that I hope no one who has not finished it is reading this as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. For the Harry Potter books in general, I absolutely love how much attention to detail there is. There's no way any of these books could be ones where you just skim over some of the descriptions and rely on the conversation to move the story along. Otherwise you miss things. Important things. Things that don't show until a few books later. For example the flippant way Sirius Black was introduced in the very first chapter of the very first book: Hagrid mentioning he had borrowed his flying motorcycle. Sirius did not become an actual character until two books later.

For this book in particular, I am torn in two ways. I feel that it what was told in the story was imperative. There was no way around it. However, I did miss the familiarity of the school year and the simple concerns of adolescents paralleling the overwhelming fear of a much bigger evil.

I have heard many people complain that there was no full turn around for the Malfoys, that there was no real act of redemtion. Yes, Narcissa pronounced Harry dead when she knew he wasn't, but that was in no way an act of repentance for the evil she and her family had been involved in, it was an act of concern for nothing other than the well-being of her son. I think many people felt the Malfoy's should have realized their wrong doings and joined the fight against Voldemort, but I definitely did not see that. They chose the dark side. They believe in what he stood for. A redemtion would make no sense.

There was one small moment that I felt was wrong when I read it, and that was the death of Fred Weasley. I read what was written on the page and thought to myself, "no, she means Percy." It should have been Percy. He had just returned to his family after almost three years of neglect. Yes, part of me wanting it to be Percy and not Fred probably stems from Fred being my favorite characted. I wept. I have never cried while reading a Harry Potter book (or really any book), but when Fred died I couldn't hold it in. And so there may be some bias in my opinion, but the beautiful irony would have been there, Percy's return to his family only to die beside them, fighting what he had for so long refused to believe.

One last problem I had with the book was that I wish we could have seen more of the coping and rebuilding. Though that I suppose would have been anti climactic.

I loved this book. I thought it was an incredibly end to an incredible journey.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Or Give Me Death - Ann Rinaldi

or give me death
ann rinaldi
240 pages

c. 2004

This book tells the story of Patrick Henry's family and the deteriorating sanity of his wife through the eyes of two of his daughters, Patsy and Ann. The first half of the book is told from Patsy's point of view and the second half from Ann's.

And again I'm reading childrens books. It's possible I need to work on that. I've been reading Ann Rinaldi's books for years, since I was 8 or 9 I believe. Since the time I SHOULD have been reading them. But I loved them so much and so I continue to add to my collection.

I am in many ways a nerd, and have always loved reading and learning about history which is why many, if not most, of the books I read are historical fiction, and this book is no exception. My favorite part of Ann Rinaldi's books are the end. After she's written her story, she writes and author's note where she goes through everything she's written and separates the fact from the fiction so the reader knows what actually happened and what the author has imagined.

I wasn't thrilled when halfway through the book it switched narrators. I kept forgetting and thinking that Patsy was talking which was somewhat annoying, though I imagine my own fault. The story itself was a little slow; quite a bit was spent worrying about who would inherit the "bad blood," though that did lead to quite a bit of character development. I went through the book quickly and for what it was quite enjoyed it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Million Little Pieces - James Fray

a million little pieces
james frey
c. 2005
448 pages

This book made me crazy. It really did. While the story itself was intriguing, though nothing we haven't really heard before, I really could not stand the style of writing. There are rules for when one is writing a piece of prose, whether fiction or non, and I am a firm believer that those rules should be followed. For instance, punctuation is important. I wanted to scream every time someone new started talking as there were no quotation marks. I feel it somewhat takes away from the story when I constantly have to figure out who's talking or even IF someone's talking.

On an entirely opposite note, I think the controversy over this book is somewhat rediculous. People are outraged that it's possible some things did not happen entirely as the author says they did. It's possible the relationship between James and Lily was partially fabricated. Ultimately, why does this matter? Why did Oprah have to freak out quite as badly as she did. It's still an important story to tell. And one that I am glad I read.

I feel I cannot judge a book too harshly just because the author wanted to be artistic with his writing choices. Though it drove me crazy, the story itself was what was important and therfore I will grade that accordingly.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dead Man Walking - Sister Helen Prejean

dead man walking
sister helen prejean
c. 1994
288 pages

A Catholic nun's compelling polemic against capital punishment.

I actually had no idea what this book was about before I read it. I'd head the title many times, and knew it was a movie, but of the subject matter I knew nothing. I don't know why, but I was surprised when I found out it was about capitol punishment, and even more surprised when I found out that it was a true account.

This book was incredibly difficult for me to read. It took a long time, but I eventually got through it. The subject matter itself was something I struggled with. Much of it was extrememly depressing and wasn't something I could stomach a lot of. The style of writing was difficult as well. Some of the book was written as a narrative, and intriguing if gruesome story, while the rest was bare boned fact. It was odd how this narrative and fact intermingled.

After reading this book, I did, however come to a definite conclusion. I am very decidedly against the death penalty.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Giver - Lois Lowry

the giver
lois lowry
192 pages
c. 1993

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

This was really an odd book for me to read. And not because it's for young readers. Despite the fact that I'm 22, I can still quite enjoy books that are significantly below my reading level. If they are well written with an egaging story, why not appreciate a young book? Some people may not agree, and that is fine, but we are appreciating animated films as an adult society now so why not lower level reading.

I've gotten off topic.

What's odd about me reading this book is it's subject matter: gentle science fiction, utopian societies, etc. Something I generally hate. I had to read both Brave New World and 1984 in highschool, and while I could understand why they are thought of as incredible literature, I hated them. I don't like science fiction, I don't like utopian societies. Things like that just in no way interest me. So why did I read such a book? Because my girlfriend gave it to me saying it was her favorite book. Kim and I had only just begun dating and she bought it for me as a present and so of course I had to read it. Immediately. I kinda went into dork mode (not that that's in any way unusual for me), called both my sisters to see if they had read it and what they thought of it and if they thought I would like it. I felt it was very important, to my life and relationship, that I like this book.

And surprisingly enough, I did. The end I wasn't sure about, I think it was too ambiguous. I don't realloy like it when I get to decide how I think something ended. I want it spelled out for me (had I watched it I'd probably be one of those people angry with the series finale of The Sopranos), and the ending of this was left open to interpretation. But that's my only real complaint. It was well written, I thought Jonas and the Giver were both interesting characters. Everyone else was fairly flat, but then they were supposed to be considering their lifestyle.

All in all a decent read. Quick and easy and it made my girl happy that I liked it.


Monday, July 2, 2007

The Courts of Love - Jean Plaidy

the courts of love
jean plaidy
576 pages
c. 1987

This fifth volume in the Queens of England Series is devoted to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Evoking the beautiful, tempestuous and sensual woman who divorced the King of France and married the King of England, Plaidy employs the ingratiating domestic details that are characteristic of her historical storytelling. Despite a hobbling first-person narrative that tends to repetition, the novel is dramatic in the sweep of its background and in the vividly realized events of Eleanor's long life. Raised with the Provencal languor of the courtly love tradition in her native Aquitaine, her beauty the toast of jongleurs, Eleanor relieves the tedium of her marriage to the pious French King Louis by daringly joining the Crusaders. She further shocks by pursuing her attraction to unattractive Henry Plantagenet, lured as much by the English crown as by the mutual sensuality that produces her favorite son, the enigmatic Richard the Lionhearted. Later, ambitious, headstrong Eleanor locks wills with Henry, leading to her imprisonment for many years. Even then, Eleanor remains central to the tumultuous epoch that witnessed the murder of Thomas a Becket and other royal infamies.

This was the first book I read in 2007 and it took me forever. I think that's because of my schedule and constantly changing location and nothing against the book itself. This is the third novel I've read by Jean Plaidy. I hate that I haven't really been going in order. For something like this I really like it better if I'm reading them in chronological order, but as I've jest begun getting into this author, and many of her books are out of print, that has been difficult. But I am attempting to get into a chronological ordr, simply for my piece of mind.

I felt bad for Eleanor through most of this book. I think she somehow surrounded herself with unfortunate people, though oftentimes that was not her fault. She also had some nieve ideas, I think mostly due to her upbringing. In the end, I think she must have been very unhappy for most of her life.


In all manner of things, she looked appalled...

I like to read. Sometimes I feel I am an avid reader, though it is really only recently that I have begun reading what some (and by some I mean my sisters) would deem decent reading. However, they are snobbish when it comes to most things and so I don't really pay much mind to what they say regarding my reading (or dating or clothing, etc.) Anyway, I have recently discovered something that has caused me to feel appalled. Due to my incredibly rediculously busy and slightly miserable schedule (I'm currently serving as a Team Leader in AmeriCorps NCCC Eastern Region Class XIII), I have only been able to read five books since the beginning of 2007. FIVE! This is such a low number. I am deeply ashamed. And so I am attempting to rectify this situation. I have a number of different list of books that I plan on reading before I die (The London Observer's 100 Greatest Novels or The Complete List of Penguin Classics to name a few) as well. Hopefully in the next half of this year I'll be able to get through at least SIX books.