Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Vacation!

I'm off for the holidays - Christmas Eve with my paternal grandparents, Christmas Day with my maternal grandparents, and then the weekend out of town with my boyfriend's family. I expect to be back Monday night though.

I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


All of my Sandman books have been in storage for the past few months, so I've been looking for a graphic novel series to pass the time until I could get back to Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors). I found Eva's review of the first graphic novel in the Fables series a couple months back and decided I needed to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did. I really enjoyed the first volume and look forward to reading the rest of the series in 2010.

Bill Willingham's Fables: Legends in Exile is the first in the Fables graphic novel series telling the story of the characters from fairy tales and fables exiled in the real world. Everyone is a familiar character but there are interesting personality twists to make them feel kind of new too. The characters have a lot more depth than in the fairy tales we all grew up with, which provides a lot of entertainment watching them interact. The basic plot of the first novel is that Rose Red (SnowWhite's sister) is killed and Bigby (Big Bad Wolf) needs to figure out the mystery. It's a fairly simple story and plot, but it's a great (re)introduction to the characters. I look forward to seeing what Willingham does from here.

According to a friend who knows a bit about comics, the artwork is done in an older style. I'm kind of curious why Willingham decided that, but I liked the contrast from what I usually see. 

Monday, December 21, 2009


PC Cast and Kristin Cast recently published the sixth book in their House of Night series, Tempted. My best friend and I started the series earlier this year and have been enjoying it so far. Without giving plot away, the books follow Zoey who was marked as a vampire fledgling in the beginning of the first book, Marked. Fledglings have some qualities in common with vampires but they are not full vampires until they go through the "change." Fledglings go to the House of Night for school - there are several Houses of Night in the world but Zoey's is in Tulsa, OK.

Plot-wise, not much happens in this installment of the series. I had read on Amazon reviews that a lot of people found this to be a negative, but I disagree. There were a lot of little things that happened and adjustments to changes in the characters and their relationships. I do, however, think that the authors made a mistake in trying to shove a bit of plot in at the very end. It felt a bit rushed and like they put it in there just because they needed to have some action before it ended. And the end was seriously abrupt. I would have been happier if they left the action for the opener in book 7 (which will be called Burned) or if they spent more time describing what happens in this book.

That said, I thought the flow of the narration greatly improved between Hunted and Tempted. There were fewer errors and it was much smoother in general. I had gotten frustrated with Hunted, so I'm really glad to see improvement here. Now, there are still childish terms used, but that's part of Zoey's personality and I don't think it's going anywhere (as much as I would like it to).

The Casts also decided to change the narration a bit for this book. Everything up to this book has been 1st person from Zoey's point of view. This book, they switched it between Zoey's 1st person and 3rd person for other character's points of view. I thought that was an interesting way to share more of the plot and I think it was largely a good idea. Most of the different points of view were integral to the plot, and it was nice to get a view into their thoughts. I also really liked how they changed from 1st to 3rd POV for other characters, as if to point out that Zoey is still the primary character even though they're giving some other characters more depth and air time.

Overall, I enjoyed Tempted. I thought it was one of the better in the series. I was not expecting it after reading all the reviews on Amazon, which were all over the board. It's not a piece of brilliant literature, but it was a fun read during last weekend's rain.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Little Prince

I started a book club with a few friends a year and a half ago after watching The Jane Austen Book Club. We all wanted to read more classics, so after we each chose a book, we started working our way through classics. Book club has taken a turn and now I'm choosing everything we read and I've been trying to encourage trying different genres and allowing us to all grow through our reading and discussion. I've also been working on coming up with activities to do together that pertain to themes, etc in our choice book.

All that to say, December's book club choice was Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. I wanted to find something easy to pick up and quick to read because the holiday season has a habit of being exceptionally busy. For most of us, this was a re-read. I had actually only read it in French before, so it was fun to read it in English (my native language). The other reason I chose this book was because it's easier to find gift charities for children - the activity I chose was to donate to Toys for Tots together due to the book's theme of a child's imagination.

The little prince follows a man whose plane crashes in the desert. He meets the "little prince" who comes from a very small planet. I love how simple The Little Prince is. It reminds me to stop worrying about everything: the lists, the schedule, etc. It's a good reminder to stop and smell the roses, to cherish the time we spend with each other. I loved being able to follow the little prince on his travels and I definitely wanted to hug him repeatedly through the story. The fact that the author did all the illustrations makes it an even sweeter story.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm working on figuring out my A to Z Challenge and I decided I'd allow myself crossovers for that one (otherwise, I wouldn't have the opportunity to participate in any of the other amazing challenges out there. However, I'm only allowing crossovers with that challenge. I'm also trying really hard to stick to books that are already on my TBR list and available at the library. This means that I have had to do a bit of work to figure out what I want to read and how to make it all work.

I'm going to do the African Diaspora Challenge 2010 at the Novice level. It runs 1/1/10-12/31/10 and the site has a list of suggestions which I found pretty helpful. :) Here are my choices:
Chimamanda Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Sylvaine Dioux, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotida and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Yvonne Vera, Butterfly Burning

Next up is the 2010 Colorful Reading Challenge. Nine books with a color in the title. This also runs from 1/1/10-12/31/10. My choices:
Ji-li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl
Joanne Harrison, Five Quarters of the Orange
Anthony Eglin, The Blue Rose
Majusi Ibuse, Black Rain
Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel
Lauren Willig, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Kathleen Turner, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles
Naomi Novik, Throne of Jade (book 2 in the Temeraire series)
Mort Rosenblum, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

And then there's the Graphic Novel Challenge. There are a few levels. I'm going to choose intermediate which as me reading 3-10. There are so many that I want to read, so I'm just going to list some of the ideas I've had:
Girl Genius
The Sandman vol. 6: Fables and Reflections
Fables vol. 2: Animal Farm
Persepolis 2
American Born Chinese

What's in a Name 3 Challenge sounds like fun too. I don't have all my choices finalized, so for those I have a pool. It runs from 1/1/10-12/31/10 and the title needs to contain a word that fits that category:
Food: Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story
Place Name: Tom Avery, To the Ends of the Earth: Our Epic Journey to the North Pole and the Legend of Peary and Henson
Music Term: Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
Body of Water:
   John Burnett, Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas
   Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
   Edward Dreyer, Zheng He: China and Oceans in Early Ming
   Shusaku Endo, Deep River
   Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
   Elizabeth Enright, Gone Away Lake
   Kate Grenville, The Secret River
   Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea
   Candice Millard, River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
   Lalita Tademy, Cane River
   Mike Tougias, The Finest Hours: The True Story of the US Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue
Person's Title:
   Liaquat Ahamed, Lords of Finance: The Bankers who Broke the World
   Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire book 1)
   Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ
   Madeleine Albright, Madam Secretary
   Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
   Simon Armitage (translator), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
   Sarah Addison Allen, Garden Spells
   John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
   Janet Fitch, White Oleander
   Patti Hill, Like a Watered Garden
   Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
   Sujata Massey, The Flower Master
   Barbara Michaels, Vanish with the Rose
   Joseph Moninger, The Viper Tree
   Katherine Paterson, Bread and Roses, Too
   Michele Slung (editor), The Garden of Reading
   Peggy Orenstein, Waiting for Daisy

And it doesn't start until February but I've been hoping for the Chunkster Challenge for the past month. I have so many books that are 450+ pages.I'm choosing the lowest level, which is three books. I haven't chosen my third book yet, but the first two will be:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Richard Zacks, The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

That's likely going to keep me busy for at least half of 2010. So I should probably stop signing up for challenges after this until I have a better feel for how well I'm doing staying caught up with these.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they've checked out from the library. If you'd like to participate too, just write up a post - feel free to steal the button - and link it using Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course, check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Head over to Marg's blog for the Mr. Linky.

I've stopped borrowing books for the rest of the year because I have so much to catch up on, but here are the last three that I picked up.

Tempted by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
I read this one already. There are 20+ holds on it so I wanted to hurry up and get it back to the library really quickly. It's the 6th in the House of Night series that my best friend and I are reading.

1000 Vegetarian Recipes because while I'm not fully vegetarian this has been the easiest way to find a huge assortment of recipes full of fruits and vegetables.

I also found a little soups and stews cookbook but I can't find it on Amazon or anywhere else to link to it. This is the perfect season for soup. Yum!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Season

I have been so busy the past couple weeks with moving right between Christmas and New Years. This was not a brilliant plan, but you live and you learn.

I finally have a basic plan for the holidays, which is really exciting. I still need to send out all my Christmas cards and get around to ordering all my presents for people online (first year I'm doing this, and I'm really excited about being able to avoid the mall this year. However, things are starting to fall into place and that's been really good for me. :)

I've gotten a little reading done, and I'm working on getting my thoughts posted. I'm going to try to figure out scheduling posts so I can try to stay on top of all my reviews and allow myself to be able to review more of the books I've read. I've been trying to do 2+ reviews per month, but I'd like to see that number go up. And this will be a good opportunity for me to work on that.

I have four books I've finished so far this month, so I've been whittling down my library collection pretty slowly. I have 12 books to work my way through I'm going to keep working on it so that I can get almost everything finished before the new year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi as my second book for the Women Unbound Challenge. It's a graphic-novel style memoir about a girl living in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq war. When the story starts, Satrapi is nine and it ends a few years later. It's all through her eyes, so at times the writing seemed a little too - although I can understand Satrapi's approach since it's supposed to feel like a little girl is telling the story.

I enjoyed Persepolis, but I wasn't totally completely drawn in like I wish I had been. The ending was a little bit abrupt to me, but it may have felt that way because I was tired when I was reading it.

That said, I think the art work had some really awesome images. For example, there's one full page image that shows her feelings about a family trip to Spain and Italy. It's so whimsical and light - they're even riding on a magic carpet. I wish I could find a picture of it but google has failed me. So you'll just have to imagine. I think the art work really did a fantastic job at really bringing the story's emotions to life.

I'm tempted to read the second volume of this story, because I would like to see how the story continues. My library seems to have a few copies of it, so it shouldn't be hard to get hold of it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving and a giveaway

First, the giveaway is unfortunately not mine. I'll have to consider doing one next year sometime though. The giveaway can be found at In Which a Girl Reads and there are going to be three winners, all of whom get to choose from an awesome selection of books. You can check it out here. She is celebrating 100+ followers, which is an awesome achievement.

Thanksgiving with my family is never a huge deal as long as we are together. This has gotten more important over the past couple of years due to my maternal grandparents' health declining. So Mom and I did the cooking and I had an awesome time with my family. And I've since been spending time with my boyfriend and some friends. Tonight I'm going out to dinner with my parents for their 35th wedding anniversary.

I've done almost no reading this past week. But it's definitely been worth it. However, I am somehow partway through a number of books:
Salt: A World History, which I've been slowly working on for a couple weeks and which has a ridiculous amount of etymology that I am enjoying
Fragile Things, which I'm trying to take my time on, because of how much I love Neil Gaiman
Persepolis, which is far simpler than I was expecting
Sense & Sensibility, which is absolutely awesome and which I've been picking up to read a few pages every time I get a chance

I'm used to one or two books at a time, so this is a bit more than I'm used to. I'm still enjoying the experience.

I've also finally decided to attempt to use Google Reader. I've found a number of blogs that I've been perusing the past couple of weeks and the list keeps growing. Next I need to create a list on my blog of all the blogs I'm reading. And attempt to design the blog how I want it to look. I have the colors I want, now I just need to get the layout I want.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they've checked out from the library. If you'd like to participate too, just write up a post - feel free to steal the button - and link it using Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course, check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Head on over to Marg's post here for Mr. Linky.

I actually got a bunch of books from the library in the past week. I picked up books twice... once on Friday and once today. I did return a bunch of books both times though, so I don't feel too bad for having so many borrowed at once.

Fables by Bill Willingham. I saw Eva's review of this a while back and it sounded so interesting. I've been having a hard time without Neil Gaiman's Sandman series (I'm up to book 6 but that ended up in storage and I can't find that volume at the library) and needed a new graphic novel series to start. I'm so looking forward to this. 

1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham. I also grabbed the prequel series which started publication in 2006, four years after the first volume of Fables was published.

Two pictureless books about book reviewing that I found in the library system, both published in the 1970s:
Writing Book Reviews by John Drewry - I've started this one already and I like it so far.
Book Reviewing by Sylvia E. Kamerman

Zorro by Isabel Allende. I read The House of the Spirits in high school and loved it. This will be my second Allende. I got it on audio book when I stumbled across it on Friday.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I started this a while ago. I own the entire series (in storage, with everything else). But I never bothered to finish it. And now it's time. This is on audio as well.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman. This was another in the quest to read all of Neil Gaiman's work. I finished this on Monday night. And I loved it. Like I love everthing he writes.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Got this on audio book because I kept hearing so many good things about him. But I couldn't finish it because I really didn't like it. So I returned it today. One of the nice things about the library is being able to return books without guilt.

And then I went back to the library today after work let out a little early, and I picked up six more books.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. A confession. I am 25 and I have never read any Austen before. I wasn't sure what order to read them, so I decided to just go in the order Wikipedia lists them. So this is the first one. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it - I have enjoyed most of the movie adaptations I've seen of Austen novels.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. A friend of mine read this and loved it. And recommended it to everyone via Facebook when the movie came out. So I decided to try it.

 A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka. I know my library recommended this one and it takes place in Poland (some of my family immigrated to America from there), but I can't for the life of me remember what it's about. Hopefully it will be good. :)

Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I have wanted to read this for the last seven years. I have no idea why I haven't read it yet. Wicked is coming to my hometown soon and I'm hoping to see it too.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. For the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge, which starts 12/1. I'm really looking forward to this.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. For the Women Unbound Challenge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I almost always finish books. Mostly I take my time and go back and forth between a few at a time until I finish. Some I go straight through in just one or two sittings. Others I will pick up and put down a few times before I finish, and the breaks can last a few months or even years. Very rarely, I find a book that I cannot stand and refuse to finish. I found the first one this year. Tuesdays With Morrie. It was so popular that I didn't have high expectations. I did expect that I would be able to sit through the whole audio book. I'm not even through the entire first disc of the audio book (out of three discs), and I just can't bring myself to keep listening. It's just not entertaining, I'm frustrated with Mitch, and I feel like he's treating me like a child when he explains things.

And yet, as much as I dislike it, I still hate to return it to the library unfinished. But return it I will.

On a brighter note, I enjoyed Brida by Paulo Coelho and I'm looking forward to listening to Isabel Allende's Zorro next (I loved The House of the Spirits, which I read in high school).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A to Z Challenge

I'm joining the A to Z Challenge, because I think it will be an awesome way to work my way through my TBR list, which is 800+ books these days. I even have all the letters already as long as I go by author name (even X). So that's the plan. This challenge runs from 1/1/10-12/31/10 and I'm really looking forward to it. Note: books will be chosen according to availability at my library since all my books are in storage and I don't have room to buy any for the time being.


Saturday, November 21, 2009


Minaret by Leila Aboulela was on my TBR list for a while. I can’t even remember where I first heard of it. It was also the first line in my spreadsheet (I order them alphabetically by author). Almost every time I opened my spreadsheet I’d see it and consider borrowing it from the library. I have no idea why I waited so long, and now that I’ve read it, I wish I hadn’t waited. As I was reading, I’d end each chapter, look at the clock, count the pages in the next chapter and decide to read just one more chapter. After all, it was only a few more pages.

Minaret follows a young woman, Najwa, in her spiritual journey as a Muslim. She starts out living with her family in Khartoum in the 1980s and leaves during a political coup for England. I was surprised how much of her journey echoed my own, even though we have radically different backgrounds (I’m a Christian who’s always lived in the US and haven’t had to deal with the kinds of pain she has). For example, we both went from not really caring what we wore and not really paying attention to religion to finding our faith and starting to dress more conservatively because of our religious beliefs. It’s founded in the same idea but looks so different on the outside. I just found that to be really fascinating.

Aboulela writes simply and says so much. I noted a few places in the novel that stuck out to me:

She shows me how a slim kitchen drawer opens out into a folding ironing board. Underneath is a cupboard full of clothes waiting to be ironed. (68)
I love this quote. It’s on Najwa’s first day of work and it has the exact same feel as when I walk into a new client site. There is always a drawer of work that’s been piling up waiting to be done. And because we'd like to please the client and create a smooth transition experience, we always end up helping with the backlog. Not a complaint, just an amusing observation.

Lamya is home, a little breathless, her jacket splashed with rain but her eyes merry. She kisses and hugs her daughter, saddles her on her left hip and walks aroundwith her. Mai is beaming now and Laya is livlier than she was in the morning.She asks me lots of questions, inspects the dinner I cooked, lifting up saucepan lids. She seems impressed, her features alive. Is this how a young affluent woman feels, fulfilled in her wok, coming home to a young child? I owe myself an absence of envy; I owe myself a heart free of grudges. (73).
I love how Aboulela shows such powerful emotion. This woman has everything and Najwa has none of what she expected in life when she was younger. Our expectations for ourselves when we were young stick with us and even though I have no idea if I'll ever want to go to grad school realistically (I still have to finish my bachelor's degree), a small piece of me will always feel a little bit of envy for all the people around me who do. It was a dream when I was a kid to get a PhD, but I had no idea what to study and I didn't realize that while I loved the image of it that it didn't necessarily fit with what I want from life.

Now he was against this new government and had probably forgotten all about my father. What was the point of it all? Coup after coup - one set of people after another - like musical chairs.
The musical chairs simile is repeated throughout the rest of the novel whenever Najwa thinks of going back to Khartoum. I absolutely love this image. I can imagine that people who have lived through that kind of tumultuous political environment having that point of view.

She will always see my hijab, my dependence on the salary she gives me, my skin colour, which is a shade darker than hers. She will see these things and these things only; she will not look beyond them. (116)
This is a lot of judgment all at the same time for different things. Her religion, her job, her ethnicity. I'm not sure there are words for how I felt reading this. It was so hopeless from her point of view.

So to sum up everything, I kind of wish that I had decided to read this for the Women Unbound Challenge. But at the same time, I'm glad for the books I did choose. I loved this book. I will definitely need to read more by Leila Aboulela. This was an awesome read.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Challenge! Terry Pratchett!

Marg at Reading Adventures is hosting a new challenge, the Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge, and I had to sign up for it.I've been meaning to read some Terry Pratchett and a challenge focused on reading his works is the perfect motivation to get started.

The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. Any Terry Pratchett book counts. Reading for the first time, rereads and watching the TV adaptations all count. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books - Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books - Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books - Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books - Member of Granny Weatherwax's Coven
10-12 books - Death's Apprentice

I'm going to aim for three books for this challenge, making me a Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint. I already own them and they've been on my TBR list for almost a year (although they are currently in storage). They are: 
Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman)
The Colour of Magic (Discworld #1)
The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

 I only have one book this week, and it's an audio book. I still have a bunch of the books from last week to read through, and I haven't had much time to read lately since a couple friends and I decided that we need to see each other again right this second. :) It's been a lot of fun though.

I'm slowly making my way through all of the Paulo Coelho books. This is my third (I've already read The Alchemist and The Devil and Miss Prym).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Miss Leavitt's Stars

When I saw Eva at A Striped Armchair's post* about George Johnson's Miss Leavitt's Stars, I decided to add it to my TBR list. Then the Women Unbound Challenge came up and I decided I'd start the challenge with this little biography of sorts. I'm glad I did. It was a quick read and while there was way more science than biography, it was really fascinating to see how one woman's observations made such an impact on what we know about the universe.

Henrietta Leavitt was one of the women hired to work as a "computer" for the observatory at Harvard in the 1900s. She spent countless hours determining the brightness and color of stars, which from the sound of it was fairly tedious work. She made a discovery about variable stars which allowed her director to begin measuring how far those stars were. Later, her discovery made it possible to measure the size of the universe.

Her dedication to her work even as she suffered from various illnesses was inspiring. At times, she had to take a break from working but she never seemed to stop thinking about her variable stars. It was less of a job and more of a passion for her and that's so awesome.

I suppose my only complaint is that I wish there was more about Leavitt. I did love learning about the impact her work made though. Overall, I really liked it. Enough that when I saw that this is part of a series of books about scientific discoveries that have greatly impacted society, I added all of them to my TBR list. They're all by different authors, so it'll add a bunch of new authors for me. The link to the Great Discoveries series is here.

*Eva's thoughts are here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! Marg has the Mr. Linky here.

I got a bunch of books this week, and I'm really excited about them. :)

Audio Books
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Benjamin Button and Other Stories
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Books about the sun and other stars (because I got curious after reading on the Old Farmer's Almanac about how the sun affects our weather)
John Eddy, A New Sun: The Solar Results from Skylab
Donald Cooke, The Life and Death of Stars
Steele Hill, The Sun
Fire of Life, The Smithsonian Book of the Sun
Sten Odenwald, The 23rd Cycle: Learning to Live With a Stormy Star
Leon Golub & Jay Pasachoff, Nearest Star: The Surpring Science of Our Sun

Other Books
Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
George Johnson, Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe
Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History
Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Leila Aboulela, Minaret

Friday, November 6, 2009

Women Unbound Challenge

I am joining the Women Unbound Challenge. It runs from 11/1/09-11/30/10. Participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to women's studies = "the multidisciplinary study of the social status and societal contributions of women and the relationship between power and gender."

I think it could be a lot of fun, especially because there's a non-fiction element and I'd love to read more non-fiction. I tend to get intimidated by non-fiction, but I have no idea why. I read quite a bit of it while I was in college and I enjoyed a lot of it. I'm also trying to get myself to think about reviewing books and posting my thoughts in an organized fashion, which I've struggled with in the past. Writing is something I need to work on, so I see this as a good way of growing and empowering myself more. :)

To start, there is the Start-of-Challenge meme: 

1. What does feminism mean to you?
I can't believe I'm actually going to say this in a public place, but I cringe at the word. Here's why: too many people have scoffed at my "lack of self-respect" when I say that I want to be a stay at home mother when I get married and have kids. I've also had to deal with someone I care a great deal about literally turn into a man-hating monster for "feminism." I used the quotes here because I don't believe that's what feminism truly is - some people have morphed it into some negative things.
As far as what feminism actually means to me: women are equal to men and should be treated as such. I believe every woman should be able to choose her own career(s) and pursue all of her dreams, both personal and professional. Every woman has the right to make her own decisions about her own life, including but not limited to how she dresses, what interests she pursues, and what career path she belongs in.
For some personal background and info, I am currently the only woman in my department (I work for a small company) and have worked hard to earn a position of respect among my colleagues. In the future when it's time to have kids, I want to stay at home with them to teach and raise them. At some point, I plan to start my own business that can earn passive income - but I haven't quite figured out what I plan to do with that yet. It's been a dream of mine for a long while.

2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
Yes and no.
Reasons for No: In my experience, the women who specifically consider themselves feminists take on a very negative approach to men, but that's not what it should be. I also think that gender neutral terms are a pain because the image in your head doesn't change when you hear those terms versus the gender specific terms. And I think it only covers symptoms of a problem rather than attacking the problem itself.
Reasons for Yes: In terms of being an American woman, I have legal rights that a lot of women around the world don't have. I believe that every woman everywhere should have equal legal rights.

3. What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?
If we're talking the entire world, then probably achieving the same legal rights as men. We may have the laws declaring us equal, but there are so many women in the world who don't yet. This has definitely changed over time and it will continue to change in the future.

If you've actually read this far, you are probably wondering why I could possibly want to do this challenge if I don't consider myself a feminist. And the best answer that I can give is that I stumbled across Eva's A Striped Armchair and her post about the challenge was so positive and completely void of everything I dont't like about feminism that I had to say yes to this. Because after all, I am a woman, and women's issues are important to me.

I have decided to read 5 books, and here are my choices:
1. George Johnson, Miss Leavitt's Stars: I found this on Eva's blog and it looks so interesting. It's about Henrietta Swan Leavitt, an astronomer in the early 1900s.
2. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: This has been on my reading list for a long time, ever since I stumbled across it at Barnes & Noble a couple years ago.
3. Elaine Brown, A Taste of Power: Recommended to me by a good friend, this one is about the first female leader of the Black Panthers

And (at least) two of the following:
Laura Claridge, Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners (biography of the ever popular author of the go-to book for manners and society)
Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha (surprisingly I know very little about this other than it's about a geisha in Japan)
Deborah Rodriguez, Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil (memoir of an American woman in Afghanistan helping establish a beauty school)
Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls (history of feminine body image and sexuality)
Barbara Leaming, Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years (biography of Jackie O)
Cokie Roberts, Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation (history/bio of a few of the women supporting and involved with the American Revolution)
Pat Shipman, Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari (biography of Mata Hari, an exotic dancer in France who spied for Germany during WWI)
Glenn Stout, Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World (biography of the first woman to swim across the English Channel)
Mary Jo Buttafuoco, Getting It Through My Thick Skull: Why I Stayed, What I Learned, and What Millions of People Involved with Sociopaths Need to Know (memoir of Joey Buttanfuoco's wife - he shot and nearly killed her - I expect this will count since it's a about a woman in an abusive, unfaithful (on his part) marriage who eventually decided to leave
Martha Ackmann, The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight (biography of a group of female pilots turned astronauts during the space race)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! Marg has the Mr. Linky here.

I haven't done this before, but I love the library. After a few years of buying all my books new, I realized just how much money I was spending on books. And I always had more books I wanted to buy. I started an experiment last fall to see if my library system could handle the different books on my Amazon wishlist. Well, the library did so well that I ended up taking almost all of the books off my Amazon wishlist and I created an Excel spreadsheet with all the books I wanted that I could get from the library. That list has grown to almost 800 books at this point. I've been slowly chipping away at my list, but it seems to grow faster than I can possibly read. The library is especially valuable to me now that I have all of my books in storage (temporarily).

I took these books out last week but I didn't get to the library over this last weekend. So this will have to do for this week.

This one is for book club with a few friends in a few weeks. I love The Little Prince. I read it in French when I was younger (for school) but I hadn't read it in English until a couple years ago. And I'm able to use this as an excuse to get together with friends and put together Christmas boxes for kids (think Toys for Tots). :)

 I have no idea why I waited so long to get this. I love Neil Gaiman (I've read the first half of The Sandman series, as well as Stardust and Smoke & Mirrors - I'm working on the rest of it). I actually read this on Sunday in the airport and on the plane for a business trip to Massachusetts this week. And I loved every bit of it.

I remember liking the movie a few years ago, so I grabbed it. I'm a chapter in and I'm not sure what to think at this point. It's good but it's not really grabbing me. I'll likely hang on to this for a bit and read it here and there in hopes that I get more interested in it. If not, that's okay too because I can always borrow it again.

That's everything for now (aside from perviously read books that I haven't had a chance to return yet), but I have eight books waiting to be picked up on Sunday, so I'm pretty excited about them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"She opened the large, communal thermos on the table next to the cash register; but when she poured herself some coffee, none came out. What came out instead was poison oats and poison corn."
Page 318, The Cider House Rules by John Irving

The Amaranth Enchantment

I know I read a few really positive reviews of this book (which was why I borrowed it from the library in the first place), but I sat on Julie Berry's The Amaranth Enchantment until I had it out from the library for almost 9 weeks and had only one day left until it was due. And then I sat down and read the whole thing in one sitting. I have a really hard time sitting still so that's saying a lot.

Lucinda is kind of like a twist on Cinderella, with a horrible step-aunt who takes Lucinda in after her parents died when she was a child. But Lucinda is more than just a kind heart - she goes after what she wants and is willing to fight hard for it. I absolutely loved that about her.

Overall, I found this a sweet Sunday afternoon read that warmed my heart.

Wicked Lovely

I stumbled across Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely at the library just grabbing any books in the YA section that looked interesting. I haven't read anything that really focuses on fairies before this (aside from pieces of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series). The cover also drew me in with the shades of blue. It's so pretty.

I actually had a hard time getting into Wicked Lovely, but about 100 pages in, I found myself absorbed by it. Ash gets herself into a crazy mess with the fairies and does her best to figure out how to deal with it. I wasn't really surprised by anything that happened, but I loved seeing it all play out. Ash grows throughout the novel and makes the best of a bad situation.

It's the first of a series, and I think Wicked Lovely is a promising start.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

I will admit that I decided to read this based solely on the title. I stumbled across this gem in the library early last week and couldn't resist it. I expected it to be a lot cheesier but it turned out to be a fantastic read. I managed to get through it one night (thanks in part to insomnia as well as simply wanting to know what happens), which isn't too common for me since I tend to only be able to read a little bit at a time due to time constraints.

I discovered early on that the location is Lancaster County, PA. I live kind of close to there, which made it feel special. The author is from this area too, so it felt like finding a new friend.

After all the buzz about Twilight* which has Bella fall madly in love with Edward almost immediately, it was a breath of fresh air to find a teen vampire romance with a stubborn, smart female lead. I found Lucius to be far more enjoyable and likeable as well. That's not to say that neither Jessica nor Lucius made me angry at times. But I really liked the characters. And I probably would have fallen for Lucius, flaws and all.

I did not expect the twists and turns in this one, and was pleasantly surprised by them. I laughed, I teared up a bit, and had a great time reading this overall. When I finished, I immediately looked up Beth Fantaskey to find out that she does not have any other novels just yet. However, sometime in the future Jekyl Loves Hyde will be released and I am so excited for that day.

* I read all of the Twilight saga and enjoyed it, but I found myself yelling at both Bella and Edward (out loud sometimes) fairly frequently.

Ann Rinaldi, Or Give Me Death

My amazing friend Laura reminded me of Ann Rinaldi's books. I didn't remember which ones we read back in middle school and I couldn't remember if I liked her stories or not, so I decided to do a search online. Turns out, I LOVED reading her novels. So while I was at the library early last week, I picked up Or Give Me Death and I read it in one night. It's amazing how much I loved this little story about Patrick Henry's family. It was an easy read and perfect for a hot summer night just trying to get some rest.

Also, I appear to be on a young adult and vampire kick. I find it quite amusing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One more to GOAL

I am currently one book away from reaching my goal of 40 books for 2009. It looks like I'm on track to read between 60 and 70 books this year. I'm exceptionally impressed with myself, because I thought this was an insane number of books to read in one year and still manage to have a social life. Well, I have been proven wrong yet again. But I'm rather happy with it. I have a huge to be read list (about 800 books on my library list, plus three bookcases), and I'm excited to be making my way through it all.

Audio books have been so fun this year. I had planned to listen to 6 books this year. But I'm pretty sure I'm in the double digits now. I'm learning which types of books I like to listen to versus which ones I prefer to read on paper.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Countries Visited

I was reading on a blog about visiting different countries in books. I really haven't gone anywhere in my books this year, and it makes me want to fix that. So far this year, my reading has taken me to:

Other universes:
Middle Earth
The Inkheart Universe
Inheritance Series Universe

Southern California
Deep South

Outside the US:
Prince Edward Island, Canada

I've also read a little bit of nonfiction relating to concepts so they haven't exactly counted toward anything. But I suppose I can work on it. Right now, I'm flipping between a few books. And I should probably update the books I've read so far in July. There are a bunch.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lack of posting

I have been so bad about trying to post reviews and stuff. I have been trying to at least keep the list of books I've read up to date. So I'll try to write a couple now.

Bill Myers, Forbidden Doors books 1-3
I read these after a friend recommended them. They're super quick, about 110 pages a piece. The series follows a brother and sister who recently moved to California. They have both made friends in their new school, but there's a group of people who don't like them. This group is into the occult, and Scott and Becka are thrown into all kinds of different situations regarding spiritual and physical battle. Myers really works to show the power and love of Christ and how Scott and Becka learn more about Him. I have only found one problem with the books so far and that is in the first book, The Society. Myers writes that the Bible states that human spirits cannot be contacted and cannot be spoken with. 1 Samuel 28 says this is possible (please note: it does not say that it is right or good). Other than that, I've found it an interesting series to read so far. I'll probably keep reading it as I find time.

P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, The House of Night series
So I like my teen vampire books. This was also recommended by a friend. I enjoyed the first five books (book 6 is due out late October), although the last couple have a number of typos. It's something I can ignore, but there are days I wish that I had had a chance to go through it all and fix the errors. Each book is a quick read, which is nice for having a quiet evening at home or a flight for a business trip. I wouldn't necessarily call it an awesome series, but it is fun for taking a break from real life. And that is what I've been needing for a bit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Christopher Paolini, Eldest (audio) & reading/writing

Definitely better than Eragon. I seriously enjoyed this one. Although at this point, I'm fantasied out and I cannot bring myself to begin Brisingr. I can't even really write about it because I have a serious need for other topics and genres.

I'm even writing no fantasy now. I need something else. So I'm in the works of creating a more romantic sweet story. I finally got the basic plot line together and now I need to really get the idea of how I want it to work and how I want to write it.

I'm also planning my first RP that I will be running. Josh and I are doing a Hero-based WWII RP. He's running the European Campaign and I'm doing the Pacific Campaign. I finally have all of the base material for probably a year's worth of the campaign. I do not know anything about WWII, so I'm using it as an excuse to do some fairly intensive research. This will certainly be interesting.

John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secrets of a Man's Soul

The male counterpart to Captivating. I enjoyed this one, but not as much as Captivating. Probably because I am female and relate better to something that discusses a woman's soul more than a man's soul. I used this as a jumping board for trying to understand a male character I'm writing for. I recommended it to my father, who absolutely loved it. And hopefully Josh will get to read it before too long.

Christopher Moore, You Suck

A week before Turn Coat came out, I was perusing the library looking for audio books to keep me entertained. I knew I'd be driving a few hours during a business trip and that I'd need something to keep me from exploding while waiting for the Turn Coat release. I hadn't really read any other Christopher Moore (I own Lamb but haven't read more than a few pages) and came across You Suck. I knew that it would be humorous, so I picked it up in hopes that this would help the waiting process go by.

Well, it was definitely the right pick. While it took me a few CDs to decide that I actually liked it, I found it light-hearted and entertaining. And Abby Normal is hysterical (speaking of, I saw a t-shirt last night paying homage to Abby Normal). She was definitely my favorite part of the story. I'm definitely interested in reading/listening to some of Moore's other work.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

LM Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

The second book in the Anne series. This one has Anne helping Marilla raise the twins she is temporarily taking care of, which gives the reader a chance to really see how much Anne has grown since the beginning of the first book. Davy is troublesome, and he asks all kinds of questions that Marilla doesn't know how to answer. So Anne helps with a lot of this. He also wins over their hearts pretty quickly. Anne is also teaching at the Avonlea school and has created (with the help of friends) the Avonlea Village Improvement Society (AVIS).

I really liked this one, probably because I could relate to Anne more than I could in the first one. I'm glad I waited until later to read this one, and I definitely want to keep reading. Next is: Anne goes to Redmond!

JRR Tolkein, The Return of the King

This was absolutely the best in the trilogy! I loved every second of this book. I decided to take it with me on a business trip and read most of it on the plane. It was one of the fastest plane trips thanks to that book. My only disappointment was that I had been hoping there would be a little more explanation as to how Faramir and Eowyn fall in love, but such is life. It's still an amazing story.

And despite the fact that all my friends adore Aragorn the most, I have to say my favorite character is Faramir.

L.M. Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables

I never read this series growing up and I always wished I had. It was definitely worth it. Anne is a good-hearted girl who has a tendency to get into trouble. An orphan adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, she goes to school and makes her first friends in Avonlea. The first book of the Anne series covers ages 11-16, so it really covers a lot of growth for Anne as she goes from gangly child to pretty young woman. She learns how to properly behave while staying true to herself and her imagination. This is a beautiful coming of age story, and I'm so glad I finally had the chance to read it.

Jim Butcher - The Dresden Files & Turn Coat

This is one of my favorite series ever. I love the characters and how they develop over the course of the series. Butcher pulls in mythology and geekery everywhere he can, which enhances the story if you know it but doesn't ruin it if you miss it (and I probably miss a lot more than I catch). Butcher writes in a way that's easy to read and is very addictive. Reading the series over again has me reading deeper into the story and asking more questions.

Turn Coat:
I've finished Small Favor in October, so I had to wait about six months to read Turn Coat. There were things I thought I had figured out but I definitely didn't. I feel like I took two steps back in terms of figuring out what's going on. This was the saddest of the series so far, which leaves me wondering where Butcher is going to take it next. The characters actually disappointed me with their actions, which is purposeful on Butcher's part, and makes me hope that maybe they can redeem themselves during the rest of the series. Butcher also didn't bother with his usual introduction chapter. The first page opens with Morgan knocking on the door bloodied up and asking Harry to hide him from the Wardens.

I'm excited for the next one, but I'm not dying to read it like I was between Small Favor and Turn Coat. It may also take a little time before my impatience wears me to the point that I can't wait any longer for the next book.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My friend and I are trying to re-read all of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series before the 11th book comes out April 7. We're each working on the 3rd book right now (she's about 100 pages ahead of me though). It's a lot of fun trying to get through all these books. I absolutely love them. It does make it hard to get through the other books I'm reading too. Trying to break up my time between books turned out to be a really bad idea. I get caught up in one and read it until it's finished. So I'm partway through a total of six books right now:

John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
JRR Tolkein, The Return of the King
Jim Butcher, Grave Peril
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes (vol. 1 of 2)
LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex (audio book)

We'll see what order I manage to finish them!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

JRR Tolkein, The Two Towers

I dragged through parts of this book. I started it already sold on Aragorn, so the first half of it was quite enjoyable. And I loved Treebeard - such a creative character and race. Then we got to Frodo and Sam. They're traveling toward Mordor with Gollum and I feel like not much is happening and it's just going on for chapters. I didn't understand how the little nuances could be character development and I didn't think much of these characters (except Gollum, but he's still a bit of a mystery) so I really lost a lot of my interest. I stopped at a point here for a week long break because I didn't want to try to push myself through it.

Turns out I just postponed dragging through it until this weekend. But! It got better when they met Faramir - he's an absolutely interesting character and I want to read more about him right away. And then Sam actually steps up at the very end Sam takes a big developmental step and I found myself actually cheering for him. It's a far more impressive step in the book, so I didn't really love it in the movie in past viewings.

So overall, I liked The Towers. Not my favorite book, but I'm certainly interested enough to finish the trilogy.

Sara Nelson, So Many Books So Little Time

This is the third time I've read Sara Nelson's year of reading through in the last two years. I absolutely love this book. Nelson has a chapter for each week of the year when she discusses not only the book she read and touches on several "rules" readers often create for themselves that she outright breaks, but she gets into why she chose to read each book that particular week. She relates it all to her life. While that's not my MO (at least not typically), I find it fairly interesting. I think it would be interesting to figure out why I choose to read the books I do, so I'm going to add that into the blurb that I write with each book.

I also find Nelson really easy to relate to, like she's my friend. The first time I read it, I stayed up all night to read it (I had intended to read the first chapter and just go to bed). It was like spending the night talking to a dear friend who understands even the weird qualities because she does it herself. That's likely why I keep coming back to the same book so many times.

The only downside is that now I need to add the books she talked about to my To Be Read list, which is already around 350 books long (and that's only the books I can find at the library).

Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition

Because my book club is reading The Lord of the Rings for book club over the first few months of 2009, we're discussing the book and then watching the corresponding movie (extended edition). Before reading the books, this was my favorite movie of the trilogy. It's beautiful and an exciting beginning of a quest. Having now read the book slowly and retained a lot of what I read, I'm surprised by how much Peter Jackson changed - I can understand why he made a lot of the changes though. Merry and Pippin became lighter entertainment rather than the intelligent characters they are in the book, etc. It makes it easier to sit down and watch for a few hours, and there are plenty of quotable lines. Overall, I still really like the movie. However, I'm far more interested in finding out how I see the other two movies after reading the books.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

This was actually a reread. I first read it during Winter Break my freshman year of college (Jan 2003). The movie had recently come out and I can't remember if I had watched the movie yet or not. I had received the entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy for Christmas and all my friends were reading it. I remember really liking it and I'm pretty sure that I only stopped after this one due to the spring semester starting. In the last year and a half, I've been hearing all about how awesome The Lord of the Rings is and we decided to kick off 2009 by reading it for book club.

After having seen the extended edition of Fellowship twice in the last four months, I was more than ready to go back through and reread it slowly. I really took my time reading it instead of trying to keep up with anyone else's pace. I also spent a lot of time reading in the airport and on the plane this past week to finish it. I didn't really remember much from the last read so I really enjoyed it this time. There was so much that I hadn't picked up on. It was more fun to see that the other people in book club who have read it before are picking up on quite a lot themselves. Fellowship seems exceptionally layered with so much that I could probably reread it every few years and continue to pick up more with each reread. I assume that will be true of the last two books in the trilogy as well.

One of the debates we've had so far is why Fellowship ends where it does in the book instead of in the place it ends in the movie. In the movie, we see the orcs attacks and Boromir dies before Sam and Frodo leave the Fellowship. In the book, Boromir doesn't die until the beginning of The Two Towers. I really like the ending of the book better since it leaves you with the importance of Frodo and Sam and their mission to destroy the ring.

I've started The Two Towers and I'm really excited to read my way through the whole trilogy.

Reservation Road

This came on after The Golden Compass and the only attraction at first was that Joaquin Phoenix was in it. I got into it once I knew that it was about dealing with the aftermath of a fatal hit and run. We see a husband and wife grieve for their son, and the killer work through his guilt. I probably would have turned it off since I'm not a huge fan of grieving stories, but I'm currently participating in a group writing exercise and my character is grieving. I haven't lost too many people exceptionally close to me, so I decided to keep watching in case I could learn anything. Boy am I glad that I decided to keep watching. Little moments made me cry and I really appreciated the dialog between the parents of the kid.

I wasn't thrilled with the end of the movie. I actually yelled at the TV that I didn't understand the progression to the climax. The movie seemed to skip certain things that I believe needed to be there to push someone that much.

The Golden Compass

I've had The Golden Compass on my To Be Read list for a while now. I wasn't planning to watch the movie first but I stumbled into it on HBO in the hotel this past week. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews of both, but I enjoyed this one. The cast line up was pretty awesome (I'm only listing the people I already knew): Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Ian McKellen, and Christopher Lee. While it took me a while to get into the movie because I didn't really know what was going on, I did come to really appreciate the characters. I absolutely adored the armored bear Iorek too. I did get blind-sided by the end. They obviously aren't finished with the story and I knew it was a trilogy, but I was not expecting it to end where it did. Overall, it was enjoyable, but if I had a do-over, I'd read the book first.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What's in a Name Challenge

I decided to join a reading challenge this year. I've never done them before, so I think it would be fun to see if I'm up to the challenge.

What's in a Name?
6 books in 2009, and the title has to fit in one of the following categories:

Time of Day:
Body Part: Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
Building: JRR Tolkein, The Two Towers
Medical Condition:

Happy Reading!

New Challenge

Writing is something I want to practice and improve over time. I tend to shy away from giving my opinion in favor of hearing what everyone else thinks. It's time that changed. I will work at moving beyond forming my opinion and try to write out/explain how and why I formed them.

I intend to try to review any books I read and movies I watch here. My tastes encompass several genres so I may have a wide variety of books and movies covered. I probably lean toward fantasy more often than other genres but I do try to get a decent mix over a period of time. The only genres I typically avoid are horror (movies and books) and romance (books only), but there have been exceptions.

So here's to a new year and a new challenge for myself.

Current Challenges

Sorted by End Date

November 2010
Women Unbound Challenge (11/1/09-11/30/10)
Miss Leavitt's Stars
A Taste for Power
At least two more from the pool listed here.

Terry Pratchett Challenge (12/1/09-11/30/10)
The Colour of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Good Omens

December 2010
A to Z Challenge (1/1/10-12/31/10)

African Diaspora Challenge (1/1/10-12/31/10)
Chimamanda Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Sylvaine Dioux, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotida and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Yvonne Vera, Butterfly Burning

2010 Colorful Reading Challenge (1/1/10-12/31/10)
Ji-li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl
Joanne Harrison, Five Quarters of the Orange
Anthony Eglin, The Blue Rose
Majusi Ibuse, Black Rain
Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel
Lauren Willig, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Kathleen Turner, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles
Naomi Novik, Throne of Jade (book 2 in the Temeraire series)
Mort Rosenblum, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

Graphic Novel Challenge (1/1/10-12/31/10)
Jim Butcher, Welcome to the Jungle
Girl Genius
The Sandman vol. 6: Fables and Reflections
Fables vol. 2: Animal Farm
Persepolis 2
American Born Chinese

What's in a Name 3 Challenge (1/1/10-12/31/10)
Food: Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story
Place Name: Tom Avery, To the Ends of the Earth: Our Epic Journey to the North Pole and the Legend of Peary and Henson
Music Term: Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
Body of Water: from pool
Person's Title: from pool
Plant: from pool

January 2011

Chunkster Challenge (2/1/10-1/31/11)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Richard Zacks, The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

Book Read in 2009

Each book is added as it is completed. My goal is 40+ for this year. Links are to my reviews.

1. JRR Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring - reread
2. Sara Nelson, So Many Books So Little Time - reread

3. JRR Tolkein, The Two Towers
4. John and Stasi Eldridge, Captivating: unveiling th mystery of a woman's soul
5. Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
6. Jim Butcher, Storm Front - reread

7. Jim Butcher, Fool Moon - reread
8. Jim Butcher, Grave Peril - reread
9. L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
10. JRR Tolkein, The Return of the King
11. Jim Butcher, Summer Knight - reread
12. LM Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
13. Jim Butcher, Death Masks - reread

14. Christopher Moore, You Suck (audio)
15. Jim Butcher, Turn Coat
16. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secrets of a Man's Soul
17. Christopher Paolini, Eldest (audio)

18. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, Marked
19. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, Betrayed
20. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, Chosen
21. Shelly Mazzanoble, Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress

22. Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, He's Just Not That Into You
23. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, Untamed
24. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast, Hunted
25. Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind
26. Bill Myers, The Society
27. Bill Myers, The Deceived
28. Bill Myers, The Spell
29. Alan Bennet, The Uncommon Reader

30. Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
31. Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
32. Neil Gaiman, Smoke & Mirrors
33. MaryJanice Davidson, Undead and Unworthy
34. LM Montgomery, Anne of the Island
35. Lenora Worth, Mountain Sanctuary
36. Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus, The Nanny Diaries
37. Michael Gruber, The Book of Air and Shadows
38. Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck

39. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
40. Ann Rinaldi, Or Give Me Death
41. Beth Fantaskey, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
42. LM Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars
43. Angela Carter, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Other Classic Fairy Tales
44. Claudia Gray, Evernight

45. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
46. LJ Smith, The Awakening
47. Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, 20 and Counting
48. LJ Smith, The Struggle
49. Claudia Gray, Stargazer

50. JG Ballard, Empire of the Sun
51. Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely
52. Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy
53. Julile Berry, The Amaranth Enchantment
54. Richelle Mead, Frostbite
55. Richelle Mead, Shadow Kiss

56. Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
57. Richelle Mead, Blood Promise
58. Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
59. Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
60. George Johnson, Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe
61. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories
62. Leila Aboulela, Minaret
63. Neil Gaiman, Odd and the Frost Giants
64. Paulo Coelho, Brida
65. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

66. Bill Willingham, Fables
67. Bill Willingham, 1001 Nights of Snowfall
68. Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince
69. PC Cast & Kristin Cast, Tempted
70. Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things