Thursday, December 31, 2009

Currently off the Shelf...

Just in case you miss it buried in another blog, I thought I'd post separately what I am currently reading.

"Rumors" by Anna Godbersen

This is book 2 of a teen historical fiction series.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


"Luxe" by Anna Godbersen.

This novel is classified as "Teen Historical Fiction." I came across it while doing some Christmas shopping at Barnes & Noble and thought it looked pretty good. My daughter insisted that she already had it and so loaned me her copy. Book #2 appeared in my Christmas stocking and is now next in line to read.

Now before you go getting all puffed up about being exposed to reading a teen novel, let me remind you that Stephenie Meyers' "Twilight" series are all teen novels. I guarantee you there are as many if not more "mamas" out there reading those than teen vampirettes. And of course there are the Harry Potter books that are found on the young reader shelves. There is a lot of good reading to be found in the youth section!

"Luxe" takes place in New York City in 1899. The characters are wealthy young socialites all very impressed with themselves. Elizabeth Holland is an attractive young lady who is known to be very virtuous. Through circumstances neither reveals to the other, she becomes engaged to society's playboy, Henry Schoonmaker, creating the event which the drama revolves around.

From the lowliest servant to the highest aristocrat, most of the characters were not very likable in this story, with the exception of Elizabeth herself. That is not to say that the book isn't full of characters you love to hate. And despite some early misgivings some of the characters do manage to redeem themselves.

My daughter hasn't finished book #2, "Rumors" yet, but I plan to steal it away from her and begin it tonight.

100 "Must Reads"

This list is from a note that travels around Facebook stating that the BBC believes most people have read only 6 of the following 100 books. I am not sure how or why these particular books have been selected but I have decided to make it a project to increase my number, which is 18, and work my way through the list.

There are some that I am sure I will not be reading in their entirety. I see no reason to read something just so I can say I have read it if I am not enjoying it. There are already a couple on this list that fall into that category. I'll try to organize my list to show read, not read, or tried to read & gave up.

I haven't read these:
  1. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  2. Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  4. Harry Potter series, JK Rowling (I've read several but not the complete series)
  5. The Bible (Again, I cannot claim I have read it completely)
  6. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  7. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (3 book series)
  8. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  9. Little Women, Louisa M. Alcott
  10. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  11. Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
  12. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulk
  14. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  15. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  16. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  17. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  18. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  19. War & Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  20. Crime & Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  21. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  22. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  23. Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis (7 books)
  24. Emma, Jane Austin
  25. Persuasion, Jane Austin
  26. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis (1 of the 7 Narnia books)
  27. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  28. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
  29. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  30. 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  31. A Prayer for Owen Meaney, John Irving
  32. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  33. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  34. Far from the Maddening Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  35. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
  36. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  37. Dune, Frank Herbert
  38. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  39. Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen
  40. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  41. The Shadow of the Wind, Carolos Ruiz Zafron
  42. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  43. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  44. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  45. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  46. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  47. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  48. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  49. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
  50. Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
  51. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
  52. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  53. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
  54. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  55. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  56. Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
  57. Ulysses, James Joyce
  58. The Inferno, Dante
  59. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  60. Germinal, Emile Zola
  61. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thaceray
  62. Possession, AS Byatt
  63. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  64. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  65. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  66. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  67. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
  68. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom
  69. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  70. The Faraway Tree Collection, Enid Blyton
  71. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  72. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  73. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  74. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  75. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  76. The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
  77. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
  78. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  79. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo

I have read these:

  1. To Kill a Mocking Bird, Harper Lee
  2. 1984, George Orwell
  3. Catch 22, Joseph Heller
  4. The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  5. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  6. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  7. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  8. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  9. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne (I have my Mom's copy given to her in 1927!)
  10. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  11. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
  12. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  13. Atonement, Ian McEwan
  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, Mark Haddon
  15. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
  16. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
  17. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  18. Charlotte's Web, EB White
  19. Watership Down, Richard Adams

These I couldn't/wouldn't finish:

  1. Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Thomas Hardy

I think I'd like to research a little more exactly where this list came from and if it's updated annually or what. If I do read some of these I I'll move them on this blog and date the entry for when I read it (or gave up), rather than repost the entire blog again. I think I have actually read more than I take credit for - I know some of these were read in my school years, but that is far too long ago to remember!

In the beginning....

I am starting a new blog for the book-lover in me. I've tried being in a book club and although I love talking about books, it just didn't work out for me. So this is my blog to track my reads, my opinions of what I've read and hopefully a few friends will join in the conversation, fulfilling my "bookclub needs."

My intention is to start with the book I just finished and go forward from there. If anyone suggests a book I have already read and reviewed in another forum I may backtrack and post about it.

A little about my love of books... I've always enjoyed reading and probably stuck pretty much to fiction novels. In more recent years I worked for Barnes & Noble for about 18 months and found that was a great inspiration to broaden my interests as pertains to reading. I really enjoy a good biography. History has enticed me into it's arms. I love picture books aka coffee table books. Travel, geography, science, crafts... You can lead me almost anywhere to read as long as the book is well written and the subject appealing.

Thank you for checking my new blog out! Please come back for more!

p.s. I probably won't be talking too much about caffeine. It's just that good coffee and a good book really go together!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife, A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Originally published on MySpace, Mar 4, 2009

This is a biographical story of Antonina Zabinski, a polish woman and the wife of a zookeeper in Warsaw, Poland. The story is told of their life and activities during WWII. The author tells the story through other biographies and journals kept by Antonina, and therein lies the 'problem' with this book.

For my tastes this is written much too much like a text book. Instead of creating the story around the events of their lives, the author is overly concerned with keeping to exact truth in her story and often uses quotes from the source or journal to be sure the reader knows how accurate it is. I found this disturbing and distracting from the tale.

The Zabinskis were active in helping many Polish Jews escape the Nazis by providing their villa and zoo as part of the underground resources. Mr. Zabinski battled and fought with the Polish Resistance and was, toward the end of the war, held prisoner. The story should be fascinating and exciting, but told in such a way that I never felt too concerned or frightened for those involved.

I can tolerate some author priviledge in embellishment as long as the basic facts of the story hold true. If the author would have chosen to expand on the horrors or emotions that were being experienced at that time, I would have forgiven her. But she tells only what she is absolutely sure of and I feel she missed making me feel all the empathy and passion I would otherwise have felt.

I give it a C. The content was excellent but the story telling lacked far too much.

1:09 PM

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First Believed  
by Wally Lamb

It took me a long time to get through this book but I really enjoyed it. The subject matter is tough; surviving the Columbine shootings, drug dependency, alcoholism, PTSD, dysfunctional families...and the list goes on. Lamb's ability to write a story involving so many painful subjects and still keep me enthralled and hopeful says a lot about his abilities as a writer. There is also a 'story within the story' as the past is uncovered and revealed through the diaries, letters and archives of the main character's ancestors.

It's not a book to expect a happy ending from, it was actually more heartbreaking than I had anticipated. But the ending is appropriate to the story and isn't actually on a down note. Okay, that may sound contradictory, but it's the way I see it. Maybe because the heartbreaking part is not quite at the end of the book, but darn close.

I have a friend who did find the book too depressing to finish, and I never did find out how far she read. I, however, do recommend this book. It's worth reading past the pain of actual real life events incorporated into the fictional story. Lamb does an amazing job of developing characters that are likeable despite their weaknesses.