Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Book Reviews

I recently finished two very different books, and enjoyed them both.

Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore: I like his writing style and crazy plots with unbelievable characters. They're fun, quick reads as well. This one had a slightly clunkier plot than the last I read - Island of the Sequined Love Nun - but Practical Demonkeeping is also his first novel. The plot is hard to summarize; there's a djinn who's trying to send the demon back to hell, and the demon's keeper, Travis, who tries to confine the demon's eating to criminals. It's crazy and fun.

The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella: Kinsella also wrote Shoeless Joe, the novel on which the film Field of Dreams is based. If you liked that movie, you would probably enjoy this book. It has many of the elements that made the film wonderful; strong characters, magic, Native American legend, and baseball. It's not an action-packed read, but his storytelling is leisurely and thorough. I very much enjoyed it.

I'm now reading The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. Not sure what I think about it yet.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Recent Reads

I've recently discovered W.E.B.Griffin. He's sort of a political suspense thriller writer like Robert Ludlum. Griffin has two books w/the same character, a young FBI/Homeland Security agent whose name escapes me. The titles are By Order of the President and The Hostage. I found I couldn't put these books down.

Another thriller/suspense author is Greg Iles. I've read The Quiet Game and Turning Angel. These books also share the same characters and are set in Iles' birthplace, Natchez,Mississippi. They are murder mysteries and the evil specter of racism raises its ugly head. After reading these books, I wonder whether Iles truly portrays race relations in Natchez as they are or if he takes literary license.

I just finished Mary, Mary by James Patterson. The most recent novel in his Alex Cross series. Alex is a cop who solves serial murders. I've read every single book in this series. Some are better than others but all keep me enthralled until the last page.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"what to read next?"

I thought I would try out the "What should I read next?" website since I'm on vacation and the girls are napping (I'm listening to The Accidental right now as well). I put five titles into the mix: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Lovely Bones, The Poisonwood Bible, and The Known World.

The database spit back three pages of books. Some of them classics like Catch-22, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, 1984, etc. A few others I took note of:
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen

Ella Minnow Pea sounds interesting to me (and not just because I like the first name) and seems to fall into the same category as Jasper Fforde's books (Allison: you should look this one up!). There seems to be several books about book clubs lately. Besides Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons and The Jane Austen Book Club, there's also The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe. I just think it's interesting this is such a hot topic.

I'd be curious to hear if anyone liked Life of Pi. And Cloud Atlas seems to keep popping up in things I've read. So I might have to add that one to my reading list. A friend of mine enjoyed Practical Magic as well as some others of Alice Hoffman's books.

Kind of a fun website to play around with.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Currently Reading....

Well I keep checking, but the Tournament of Books bracket has not been posted yet. Allison has inspired me to try listening to an audio book since my reading time has been severely shortened due to my two lovely daughters. She let me know about audible.com which is a great site for audio books and she invited me so I got to try out two books for free. I decided I was going to get two of the books on the Tournament list and chose "The Accidental" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close".

I've started The Accidental, which has received quite a bit of praise. It was short-listed for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Prize last year. I'll post a review when I'm finished with it but I am enjoying it so far. More soon.....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What I'm reading

I finally got all of the books I'm currently reading in one place, so now I can tell everyone what I'm reading. I prefer to read one book at a time, but I currently have five going:

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. This Day in the Life: Diaries From Women Across America
3. A Series of Unfortunate Events -The Penultimate Peril, Book 12 by Lemony Snicket
4. Salem's Lot by Stephen King
5. I Married My Mother-in-Law and Other Tales Of In-Laws We Can't Live With -- And Can't Live Without

As may be apparent, I have wide ranging tastes and am a fairly voracious reader.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

White Teeth

I finished White Teeth, Zadie Smith's debut novel, yesterday. It was an amazing book. It reaches back in time to reference the character's ancestors, but is based in the melting pot of North London, where the central characters live. Archie (a white Brit) and Samad (a Muslim Bengali immigrant, despairing of his children's assimilation) have a friendship based on their military service together. Archie marries half-Jamaican, recovering Jehovah's Witness Clara and lives near Samad's family. The book takes off from here, exploring the ancestry that defines the characters and the new directions of their offspring. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

More on the Tournament of Books

I did a little more research into this, this morning. Last year was the first year for it. They arbitrarily chose 16 books and arranged them in a bracket (a la the NCAA basketball tourney). I'm not sure how books get elminated but last year's finals came down to The Plot Against America by Philip Roth and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas was the winner of "The Rooster" as they call their top prize.

Here is a link to some background information on how the Tournament of Books started and why: First Annual TMN Tournament of Books

This year's Tournament will take place in March. The bracket has not been released yet. I will post a link when the bracket is available. But here are a list of the 16 books in contention:


The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
The Time in Between, by David Bergen
Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole, by Stephanie Doyon
Home Land, by Sam Lipsyte
The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
The King of Kings County, by Whitney Terrell
Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
The Accidental, by Ali Smith
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala
Garner, by Kristin Allio
Saturday*, by Ian McEwan
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close*, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Murder She Wrote

I just finished the book I was reading Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. This was a very fluffy mystery, part of a series of books by this author with Hannah Swensen as the main character. I gave my mom this book for Christmas thinking it would just be a fun read for her. The story itself is set in Minnesota which makes me like it from the beginning because I like to read books that take place in places I've lived. The story itself is readable, but predictable and the two main characters of Hannah and her sort of boyfriend, Mike remind me quite a bit of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli (she happens upon a murder and he's a cop, she helps him solve the case). But maybe this is a common theme among fluff mysteries. I haven't branched out tremendously in this genre so I wouldn't really know.

The interesting thing about this book is that the setting is mostly at a community potluck dinner and all of the recipes mentioned in the story are listed in the back of the book. And some of them sound kind of good!

When I'm reading, sometimes there are words that just stand out to me and I say to myself, "Wow, what a great word!" This happened twice in this book. #1 on pg. 55: "Mayor Bascomb's tie was splendiferous." What a great word splendiferous is. And #2 on pg. 68: "Hannah felt a wave of relief sluice down from the top of head to her toes." Sluice is also a fun word.

Anyway, now that I've read two sort of easy reads in a row, I think I should tackle something slightly more literary. I will probably decide between Girl With a Pearl Earring and Kite Runner. I'll read a little from both and see if my interest is peaked in either.

Just curious, what kind of reader are you? Do you juggle more than one book at a time? or do you feel guilty starting a new book if you haven't finished reading your current one?

Personally, I pretty much have to read the current book I'm on. Once I've committed myself to it, I tend to finish it before moving on, even if it takes me weeks or months to get through. Though, I may have to start three or four books before I get to one I'm in the mood to read.

Chiming in

I'm happy to be a part of this group! I wanted to add a suggestion for links: The Whitbread Awards and The National Book Awards for excellent British and American(respectively) contemporary literature suggestions.

I'm reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith (as Holly knows!) and I'm about halfway through. I'll post a review when I'm done (I think it will be glowing!). You've inspired me to start a list of my favorite books/authors. I'm in the midst of that now, along with a list of the books in my must-read piles (arranged by genre : ).

Sidebar on the Sidebar

I've just about got things all linked. There are a few pages to My Book Notes I still would like to add. I thought I might just expand a little on what I've chosen to put in the sidebar.

Links
I've received Bookmarks magazine for a year or so now. Each issue has a couple themes where they specialize their book reviews to that topic. They also review current new releases in many categories. I've found several books I want to read listed in this magazine.

I'm not entirely sure what the Tournament of Books is about yet. But I found the link on another blog and thought it seemed interesting.

Bookplates is just a fun site if you want to "mark" your books as your own or if you tend to lend your books out often.

If you type in your favorite books to "What should I read next?", their database will process what you put in and spit back out titles of books it seems to think you will enjoy reading. Interesting concept. In the future, I will play with it and post some of the results.

The Potter Index is a site where you can type in anything relating to the Harry Potter series, such as a name, place, etc. and the site will tell you which book and what page that information appears on. Just thought it was an interesting site.

I came across the La Vie en Rose site while looking at someone else's blog. I thought it was a fun place to look at gifts for a reader. Although they are quite pricy and I have no idea who I might ever buy one of these gift baskets for. But oh well. Just wanted to include it.

My Book Notes
Pretty self explantory. These are web pages I have created that list books I have read or would like to read with links to each title.

Book Blogs
I searched blogger.com for "reading book blogs" and it came up with a few blogs, but those blogs had links to other blogs. And I guess I just never realized how much time people put into these things. I admit I have spent quite a bit of time this week working on this. But these people, some of them seem like they have degrees in English Lit and this is how they spend their free time. Others go into such detail reviewing the books I wonder if they get paid to do this. The few I have chosen to include as links on this blog were the ones I thought I might actually read on a regular basis. Most of which, were not as erudite as others. Or I simply liked the name a lot, such as Literary Vamp.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Finding the time

I have a friend who has a blog dedicated to the things she does (knitting, reading, writing, & cooking). I thought it would be interesting to start a reading journal for myself. I like keeping track of what I've read. So really this blog will be more for me but I thought I would use this format because I know a lot of other readers out there and maybe they would be interested in this.

I did moderate an online bookgroup for two years. It was very laid back and the members only had to participate when it was their month to pick a book. Everyone else could read it or not. I disbanded the group starting this year because I didn't have time to read a book a month--or at least dedicate myself to reading a book a month. It took me three months just to finish October's pick and I liked the book!

If anyone would like to post regularly to this blog about what they are reading or their recommendations, please send me an email. I can make you a "team member" which means you can post freely whenever you want to.

I'm not sure how often I'll update this, or what exactly I'll post on here. I'm still working all that out. We'll see where it goes.