Monday, March 31, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

love in the time of cholera
gabriel garcia marquez
c. 1985
386 pages

*may contain spoilers*

This was read for the Expanding Horizons Challenge (see sidebar).

First off, I was incredibly impressed with the writing style. The author's flow is so incredibly unique, transitioning from one anecdote to the next with such ease and grace, and documenting every thought, action, and character with such bizarre detail, detail (such as bowel movement problems and descriptions) that generally would have been left out of another novel, but instead give such insight into the lives of these characters. The author has such a unique voice, one that adds so much humor and life to his story.

With every page, I fell more and more in love with Florentino Ariza. His passion for life and love is both beautiful and heartbreakingly sad.

I was often confused with Fermina Daza's choices. She seems so often to be such a strong woman, so sure of hersel and her opinions, but I was thrown by the rapidness in which she could change her mind regarding the men in her life. She spent years pledging her enternal love and devotion to one man, and with one glance her mind is turned and she is done with him. She spends so much of her energy avoiding a despising one man, and in an instant she is accepting his proposals of marraige. I wish I could understand her thought process a little more.

I was glad that when they finally came together, it was not all of a sudden like another blaze of passion. It came about through months of constant friendship. It was only after they had spent time actually with each other that Fermina Daza knew that she was in love.

In comparison to the other three books I have read so far for the Expanding Horizons Challenge, there was one thing in particular that I noticed to be very different about this book. In the other three I read (Half of a Yellow Sun, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and The Saffron Kitchen), I found that the county in which the book place was so incredibly important to the story. Whether it was Nigeria, China, or Iran, the reader was so immersed in the history and the culture of that particular country. You never forgot what country you were reading about. You were always learning something new about the culture, something that made it unique. However, in Love in the Time of Cholera, I can't even tell you in which country this story took place. I'm guessing Columbia, seeing as that is where the author is from, but it never mentions it for sure. You know from names of people and descriptions of places that the setting is a Latin American country, but it's never really discussed. I just found it interesting that location was so central to the first three books I read, and then was not important at all to the progression of the story in this last book.

Two things I did not like about the book.......

I did not like the ending. I mean, I was so happy that they finally realized the love they shared, but I did not like the last page or so when they decided to spend the rest of their lives sailing up and down the river on the boat. it had such an element of un-reality that wasn't present in the rest of the book.

Also, I didn't like that the beginning had nothing to do with the rest of the book. And by that, I mean we spent so much time and energy discussing the suicide of Jeremiah and the betrayal Juvenal Urbino felt at his confessional letter, but then there's nothing more about their friendship. Urbino dies before a third of the book is over. I felt like (even though if you read the back of the book you know what the book is supposed to be about) one story was set up and then all of a sudden the author decided he wanted to tell a different story.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday fill in #3...

1. Some relationships are meant to be constantly worked on.
2. Tim Shaw at O'Connell's is the last concert I saw; it was awesome (especially since I'm so in with the band)!
3. Spring should be warmer out here in San Diego.
4. Oh no! I forgot my cellphone this morning!
5. I've recently started working out fairly regularly (go me).
6. Disney movies never fail to make me smile.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to church with Girlfriend, tomorrow my plans include building a playground at a KaBoom build and Sunday, I want to relax and maybe get my hair cut!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Booking through thursday #5...

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

The design of the book can affect my enjoyment of a particular book, but won't always. Certain books need to be hardcover or softcover, but there's not always a rhyme or reason as to why. Mostly I don't like hardcover books, but that is because I cannot stand bookjackets. And as such I will generally get rid of a books bookjacket if I get it in hardback. I like classics to be hardbacks (sans bookjacket). It makes them seem older, more valuable and important. And Harry Potter books. I'll only own those in hard back. And coffee table books. Everything else comes in paperback.

Also, I very much need my books to match. And by that I mean if they're books by one certain author or a series of books, they all need to match. Have the same style of cover, come from the same publisher, be of the same set, whatever. They need to match.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Six things you may not have known about me...

1. Despite the fact that I work literally 6.5 miles from Tijuana, I've never been to Mexico.
2. All during highschool and college my plan was to end up working in the film industry (acting or screenwriting), but somehow I took an interesting turn and have ended up in national service and social work.
3. Standing at only 5'2, I've become so used to being the shortest one of my friends that I now feel somewhat uncomfortable standing with people who are shorter than me (unless, of course, they're kids).
4. I have no hearing impediments, but I always prefer to watch TV with the closed captioning on.
5. Despite Girlfriend keeping one in our apartment, I am really creeped out by fish.
6. I have only ever, including my time in AmeriCorps, lived on a coast (either East, West, or Gulf).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dealing with Dragons - Patricia C. Wrede

dealing with dragons
patricia c. wrede
c. 1990
240 pages

This is a book I reread for the Heart of a Child challenge (see sidebar). Generally, I don't review rereads, but this challenge required both rereads and reviews, so here you go. This book, as well as this whole series, was one of my favorite books when I was much younger. I think I read it for the first time in seventh grade. It's one of the few series of books from that long ago to have survived the recent purging of the bookshelf. I'm looking over at my shelf right now and it looks like all my Ann Rinaldi historical fiction (which I'm still collecting) and the Georgia books are the only other two YA series to have made it to San Diego.

This is a somewhat odd genre for me to love so much. I have never been a huge fan of fantasy. I like these. I like Harry Potter. I like the Alanna books. I am trying to like the Lord of the Rings (I already love the movies). I think I like fantasy that doesn't seem like fantasy. Like, the magic and whatever isn't the prevalent factor in any way. I mean, Harry Potter is very focused on the magic aspect of it, but at the same time, they're normal boy and girls going through normal girl and boy issues.

Anyway, back to Dealing with Dragons. I just think it's so clever! It's a slightly twisted fairy tale, and things that are generally accepted in the fairy tale/fantasy genre are not what you find here. It's somewhat of a parody, but is just as enjoyable looking at it for story alone.


Been down so long I don't get wet...

I'm getting behind in reviews. Since the last time I've been on, I've finished three books. Granted, two of them were YA books and so we're fairly short and easy reads. I am about to start one that will probably take me quite a bit longer than these past few. Last Monday I started my new job. It's full time, so I worked Monday-Saturday (letting me take next Friday off). Also, it's a good 20-25 minute drive away depending on traffic, however I don't have a car available to drive (Girlfriend and I share one and she needs it during the day at work) so I have to take the San Diego trolley. Luckily there's a station close to my apartment and another right across the street from work. But the commute it a good hour plus each way. Normally this won't bother me too much. I leave at 7:20 in the morning to get to work by 8:30, then leave by 5 to get home a little after 6. Not too bad, especially since I just spend that commuter time reading. Unfortunately for today, I finished my book halfway through the ride into work so I have nothing for the ride home! I'm getting used to the new schedule, so hopefully things will calm down enough for me to get back to some blogging soon. BTW, anyone know the song quote in the title?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Unhappy birthday to me...

This post is going to have absolutely nothing to do with books or anything that I normally post about. I'm a little pissed off and upset and just need a place to vent for a couple seconds. I have recently moved to San Diego with Girlfriend and so have spent the last month or so job hunting. About two weeks ago I accepted a job as a Program Aide at a local non profit organization. Because my job required me to sometimes come in contact with minors I had a couple requirements to go through before they could officially hire me. I had to take a drug test, get finger printed and go through an extensive background check, get a TB test, and provide them with a copy of my motor vehicle report (MVR). Everything seemed to be going smoothly. They called on Tuesday to say my background check had cleared and that I should come in on Monday for an orientation bringing with me the results of my TB test and my MVR. I went and got my TB test read yesterday and I apparently read as positive. And so I had to get a chest X-ray. In a week or so I will be mailed those results to know if I have TB infection (where I've just been exposed to the bacteria and need to take medication to kill the bacteria so it doesn't develop) or TB desease (where the infection has developed into full blown TB and I'm super contagious and gross). They said more than likely, since I am showing no symptoms, I just have TB infection, probably picked up from my time working in the Gulf Coast in questionable living arrangements, but we don't know for sure yet. And I'm supposed to be reporting to work on Monday before I'll get my results back. I called and left a message with human resources telling them I needed to discuss the results of my TB test with them, but I am worried. Can they not hire me now? Are they going to say, "Sorry, don't call us again?" Also, Girlfriend is not being totally helpful. She has started calling me "Teebs" and told me that if I really have TB I can get a hole in my lung. Thanks, babe.

Friday fill in #2...

1. Ahhhh, it's so nice to be out of Winter.
2. One of my favorite things on my desk or bureau is a sushi dish my dad brought me back from Japan as a housewarming gift.
3. Japanese Cherry Blossom is an incredible imaginary smell.
4. Out on my balcony in the sunshine is my favorite place to sit and read.
5. Chocolate and peanut butter is delicious!
6. I love to watch dancing in movies.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to church with Girlfriend and K/T, tomorrow my plans include DISNEYLAND to celebrate my 23rd birthday with Girlfriend, K/T, and maybe even Betty and the Boy and Sunday, I want to relax and continue Girlfriend, K, and my O.C. marathon!

Booking through thursday #4...

You should have seen this one coming … Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why? First off, sorry this is a day late. Again, like last week, this was a somewhat difficult question to answer. My favorite male characters are never the leads. As I have always thought myself to be one, I will forever be a lovable sidekick girl. I like that guy who's funny, but isn't always important. But since we're talking about lead characters, I would say (probably since I'm currently rereading the series) Brother Cadfael, the 11th century monk detective, from Ellis Peter's Brother Cafael Chronicles. After a lifetime of being a crusader, he retired into a life of servitude at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul. Because of his previous life and experience, he is able to understand the world around him so much better than the rest of his brothers and as such is always willing the lend his help to his friend Hugh Berringar, the under-sherrif of Shropshire. His patience and understanding is never ending, his ability to put everything including his duties as a monk into perspective and priority is infallible, and his humor and love of mischief is refreshing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It just keeps going...

Penguin Classics - O
1. O Pioneers - Willa Cather
2. Oblomov - Ivan Goncharo
3. The Octopus - Frank Norris
4. The Odd Women - George Gissing
5. The Odyssey - Homer
6. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
7. The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens
8. Old Goriot - Honore de Balzac
9. The Old Wives' Tales - Arnold Bennet
10. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
11. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
12. On to the Alamo - Richard Penn Smith
13. Once There Was a War - John Steinbeck
14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
15. The Ordeal of Richard Feverel - George Meredith
16. The Oresteia Trilogy - Aeschylus
17. Orient Express - Graham Greene
18. Orkneyinga Saga - Anonymous
19. Orlando Furioso - Ludovico Ariosto
20. Oroonoko - Aphra Behn
21. Othello - William Shakespeare
22. Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene
23. Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens
24. Our Nig - Harriet E Wilson

Let's be for real...

Okay, so I've had Adolphe and The Alexiad up under my "Currently Reading" list for months now. Since last year. I'm not really reading them anymore. I started to, but really I think the last time I picked either of them up was in December. And it's currently March. I think the only reason they're there is because I started them and I am determined to someday finish them. I've only read about a chapter in The Alexiad, but I got about halfway through Adolphe (not that that is saying a whole lot since it's less than 150 pages). Either way, I don't think now is the time I will be completing them, and as such I have decided to finally take them off the list. One day I'll come back to them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The beginning of the second half...

Penguin Classics - N
1. The Naked Civil Servant - Quentin Crisp
2. Nana - Emile Zola
3. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket - Edgar Allen Poe
4. Netochka Nezvanova - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5. A New England Nun - Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
6. A New England Tale - Catherine Maris Sedgwick
7. The Nibelungenlied - Anonymous
8. Night and Day - Virginia Woolf
9. Nights with Uncle Remus - Joel Chandler Harris
10. Njal's Saga -Anonymous
11. No Name - Wilkie Collins
12. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskall
13. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
14. Nostromo - Joseph Conrad
15. Notes from Underground, the Double - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
16. Notre Dame of Paris - Victor Hugo
17. Nuns and Soldiers - Iris Murdoch

The Saffron Kitchen - Yasmin Crowther

the saffron kitchen
yasmin crowther
c. 2006
258 pages

*may contain spoilers*

This was the third book read for the Expanding Horizons Challenge (see sidebar). This was my Middle Eastern choice, set in both London and Iran. I had a really hard time getting into this book. I had to read the first section three or four times before I finally pressed on.

This is the story of Maryam Mazar, who left Iran as a young woman and has made a life and a family for herself in London. Her daughter, Sara, is grown up with a husband of her own and a baby on the way. Maryam's sister dies in Iran, and her son Saeed is sent to live with Maryam in London. His visit brings Maryam's past, which has always made her somewhat detached from her family, back to haunt her and after her actions cause tragic results for Sara, she feels compelled to return to Iran, to the family and village and love she was forced to leave behind so many years ago. Sara follows her mother to Iran to learn for herself of her mother's past.

I felt this was a decent book, but I had a few problems with it. Like I said, I had a hard time starting it, but once I got to the flashback of Maryam growing up in Iran I really enjoyed it. But I had some trouble again once the flashback was over and we returned to modern day. I think one major problem was I couldn't see Maryam the young woman and Maryam the wife and mother being the same person. I liked her as a young woman, sympathized with her and enjoyed her spunk and spirit. However, as an adult I couldn't stand her. It was hard to sympathize with her, even when you find out the whole story of her examination (which I assumed had happened before it was even revealed). Even when you know that she went through some horrific events, that doesn't excuse her treatment of Saeed or Edward or Sara. And in the end, you can't be totally happy with her and Ali finding each other again when you know the extreme hurt that Edward is experiencing.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Halfway done...

Penguin Classics - M
1. The Mabinogion - Anonymous
2. Macbeth - William Shakespeare
3. McTeague - Frank Norris
4. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
5. Main Street - Sinclair Lewis
6. Maggie: a Girl of the Streets - Stephen Crane
7. Major Barbara - George Bernard Shaw
8. Malgudi Days - RK Narayan
9. Man and Superman - George Bernard Shaw
10. The Man-Eater of Malgudi - RK Narayan
11. The Man in the Iron Mask - Alexandre Dumas
12. The Man Within - Graham Greene
13. The Man Who Had All the Luck - Arthur Miller
14. The Man Who Was Thursday - GK Chesterton
15. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
16. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa - Jan Potocki
17. The Marble Faun - Nathaniel Hawthorne
18. The Marquis of O - Heinrich Von Kleist
19. The Marrow of Tradition - Charles W Chesnutt
20. Martin Chuzzlewit - Charles Dickens
21. Martin Eden - Jack London
22. Mary Barton - Elizabeth Gaskell
23. Mary, Maria, Matilda - Mary Wollstonecraft
24. The Master of Ballantrae - Robert Louis Stevenson
25. Master and Man - Leo Tolstoy
26. The Master Builder - Henrik Ibsen
27. The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
28. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy
29. Measure for Measure - William Shakespeare
30. Medea - Euripides
31. Melmoth the Wanderer - Charles Robert Maturin
32. Mephisto - Klaus Mann
33. The Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare
34. The Merry Wives of Windsor - William Shakespeare
35. The Messiah - Gore Vidal
36. Metamorphoses - Ovid
37. Micromegas - Francois Voltaire
38. Middlemarch - George Eliot
39. A Midsummer Night's Dream- William Shakespeare
40. The Mill on the Floss - George Eliot
41. The Minister's Wooing - Harriet Beecher Stowe
42. The Misanthrope - Moliere
43. The Miser - Moliere
44. Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secessions to Loyalty - John W deForest
45. Mr. Sammler's Planet - Saul Bellow
46. The Monk - Matthew Lewis
47. More Die of Heartbreak - Saul Bellow
48. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
49. A Modern Instance - William Dean Howells
50. Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe
51. The Monkey's Wrench - Primo Levi
52. The Moon is Down - John Steinbeck
53. The Moon and Sixpence - W Somerset Maugham
54. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
55. Mrs. Craddock - W Somerset Maugham
56. Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare
57. My Antonia - Willa Cather
58. The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens
59. Mysteries - Knut Hamsun
60. The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe

To spring forward...

Spring is upon us! March is here and outdoor life is beginning again. And so is the Spring Reading Challenge!

The rules are simple. Just make a list of the books you plan to read during the months of March, April, and May and start reading.

My list will be:
1. The Saffron Kitchen - Yasmin Crowther (which I'm already halfway through reading)
2. St. Peter's Fair - Ellis Peters
3. Dealing With Dragons - Patricia C. Wrede
4. Cast Two Shadows - Ann Rinaldi
5. Love in a Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
6. The Leper of St. Giles - Ellis Peters
7. The Red and the Black - Stendhal
8. The Last Silk Dress - Ann Rinaldi
9. The Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera
10. The Virign in the Ice - Ellis Peters
11. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
12. Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard - Kiran Desai
13. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
14. The Sanctuary Sparrow - Ellis Peters
15. Madame Bovary - Gustav Flaubert

15 books, that's 5 books a month. Slightly ambitious for me, but isn't that part of what makes something a challenge? Many, if not most, of these are books being read for other challenges, but it's kind of nice to map it out so clearly.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

This is taking forever...

Penguin Classics - L
1. The Lais of Marie de France - Marie de France
2. La Bete Humaine - Emile Zola
3. La Vita Nuova - Dante Alighieri
4. Lady Audley's Secret - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
5. Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence
6. Lady Susan, the Watsons, Sanditon - Jane Austen
7. A Laodicean - Thomas Hardy
8. The Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper
9. The Last Word - Graham Greene
10. The Law and the Lady - Wilkie Collins
11. Laxdaela Saga - Anonymous
12. Lazarillo de Tormes and the Swindler - Anonymous
13. Le Morte d'Arthur - Thomas Malory
14. Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
15. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
16. Les Liasons Dangereuse - Choderlos de Laclos
17. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
18. Leviathan - Thomas Hobbes
19. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens
20. The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr - ETA Hoffman
21. The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman - Laurence Sterne
22. Lift Every Voice and Sing - James Weldon Johnson
23. The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob - George Eliot
24. Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens
25. A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
26. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
27. The Log from the Sea of Cortez - John Steinbeck
28. The Long Valley - John Steinbeck
29. Looking Backwards - Edward Bellamy
30. Lord Jim - Joseph Conrad
31. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum - Heinrich Boll
32. Lost Illusions - Honore de Balzac
33. The Lost World - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
34. Love - Stendhal
35. Love Visions - Geoffrey Chaucer
36. Love's Labor's Lost - William Shakespeare
37. Loving/Living/Party Going - Henry Green
38. The Luck of Roaring Camp - Bret Harte
39. Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
40. Lysistrata - Aristophanes