August 2nd, 2006

Book 51: March

Title: March
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Genre: Novel

Plot: In the novel, “Little Women,” the females are indeed the focus of the story. In “March,” Geraldine Brooks takes a look at the life of that works’ mostly absent father. Mr. March’s early life is relayed, as are his experiences serving as a chaplain during the Civil War. These stories are created based on the character briefly portrayed in “Little Women” as well as the experiences of Louisa May Alcott’s real-life father. From this foundation, Brooks allows her creativity to fill in the gaps.

Quote: “Yet I am thankful she is not here, to see what I must see, to know what I am come to know. And with this thought I exculpate my censorship: I never promised I would write the truth.”

Grade: B-
Review: I had a very difficult time enjoying this book when I was reading it as a take-off of “Little Women”- I understand author license, but I just could not believe some of the characterization at all (and while I realize part of what the author was trying to do was make the point that those who are “sainted” do not always act saintly, I felt the March parents were just unrecognizable). However, I eventually began to read the book just as a civil war novel, forgetting my earlier associations, and I enjoyed it much more, particularly the descriptive writing style.

Currently reading: The Stolen Child
On the list: The Everything New Teacher Book; The American Home Front; Dispatches From the Edge

July Reading Summary

Crossposted to 50bookchallenge, dopersread50 and booktards

10 total books for the month (right around average). Even split between fiction & non-fiction, library & owned books. Between the Summer Reading Club at the library and wanting to make a dent in Mount ToBeRead, no re-reads this month.

NonFiction: I'm A Stranger Here Myself: Notes On Returning To America After 20 Years Away by Bill Bryson. Observations on everyday culture & activities; a less wacky & more erudite Dave Barry, I guess.

Fiction: The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow. Historical fiction with a pro-science, anti-superstition slant, many adventures and occasional narration by Principia Mathematica.
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers. A semi-surreal & fairly funny fantasy/adventure. The illustrations are a great addition to the story!

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forty through forty-four

40. Clubland-The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture by Frank Owen
Gruesome and amusing details from the '90s New York club and drug scene including the infamous Michael Alig/Angel tragedy.

41. The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky-John Acocella, editor
Earlier this year I read Oates' Blonde and the Marilyn character was reading this. Nijinsky was a brilliant dancer, less-so of a writer, but there are some interesting bits of pre-revolution Russian history among the rantings of a madman.

42. Dead Souls-Nikolai Gogol
This book has catapulted itself into my top ten ever. It was originally published in 1842 and the introduction tells us that Gogol later got religion and decided to burn the second half of the book. Tragedy! The story is hilarious and (perfect for me) every meal and drink is described in detail as the protagonist makes his stops along the way to faux fortune.

43. The Immoralist-Andre Gide
Loved it. I'm at a loss to describe this tiny little book full of devotion, travel, love, friendship, discovery, and denial.

44. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test--Tom Wolfe
In my continued quest to read, listen, and hear everything about the psychedelic scene of the heady 1960s, especially San Francisco related, I decided it was high time I got to this one. I guess I'm not hippie enough to understand half of the stoned ramblings, but the bits of real history like the Pranksters' trip to Leary's Millbrook or their experience at the Beatles concert made it worthwhile.

35 and 36

35.  Title:  The Truth Hurts
        Author:  Nancy Pickard
        Rating:  5/5

I loved this book!!  It's about a true crime writer.  She's trying to gather information about her past as her parents were murdered and the crime was never solved.  She starts asking questions that people don't want to answer, and she finds herself in the middle of her own true crime story.  I'm definetly going to check out more by this author.

36.  Title:  KISS and Make-up
        Author:  Gene Simmons
        Rating:   3.5/5

This is Gene Simmons autobiography.  It was pretty good.  I missed the whole KISS crazy time during music.  The first KISS song I heard (and actually knew that KISS sang it) was Beth, I was about 11 years old.  It was refreshing to read about a rock star who doesn't abuse drugs or alcohol, talks about his love and admiration for his Mother, his children and his partner.  He doesn't attempt to hide the fact that he's slept with tons of women, but talks about it in a respectful way.


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50 Book Challenge: July

34 books out of 50 read: 68 per cent of target reached.

I've read half of Don Quixote (Book One - as far as page 514) and am now taking a break to swim in shallower waters before going on with the second half. I won't count it towards the overall total until it's complete, this is a question of volumes within the same title rather than two separate books.

Planned for August and September:

  • A Trouble of Fools – Linda Barnes
  • C is for Corpse – Sue Grafton
  • Medusa - Michael Dibdin
  • See Delphi and Die - Lindsey Davis
  • The Pelican Brief - John Grisham
  • Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
  • Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett
  • Good Omens - Pratchett/Gaiman
  • The Antipope and The Greatest Show Off Earth - Robert Rankin
  • Not Abba: the real story of the 1970s - Dave Haslam
[January] [February] [March] [April] [May] [June]
[Recommendations I have picked up, here and elsewhere]

(no subject)

Hi everyone, I just found this community today and I definitely want to take on the challenge of reading 50 books before the end of the year~ I've been trying to read as much as I can over this summer, but I seem to have bipolar reading: one week I'll be going to the library every day, the next week I'll struggle to read one chapter over a whole week but in any event I'm excited & looking forward to it. Hooray books! ^^

I'm very into medical nonfiction right now, as I want to go to med school.

#20 - Me: Stories of My Life, by Katherine Hepburn

Although I can't really give a true critique of this, since it is someone's life and not an objective piece of writing, I have to say that as much as I love Ms. Hepburn, her writing style was kind of diffult, and it was hard to enjoy her staccato-like sentences. She writes very fragmented half-sentences, and although this can be attributed to her age, its just the way she writes. There are a few interesting stories about her life, such as a hurricaine that blew down her house and trying to navigate her way around Italy, but she also has a tendency to ramble and go off on too many tangents. She's also a bit stingy with details of her personal life, you'll notice that as soon as she starts talking about her affairs, she refrains from any mention of sex. A proper lady to the very end, I guess...

Grade: B

20 books down, only 30 more to go, whoooo!
This one is actually me.

(no subject)

I just finished reading Please Don't Come Back From The Moon by Dean Bakopoulos, Book number 52 this year, and I really liked it. It's set in the metro Detroit area (where I've lived all my life) and I couldn't stop exclaiming over how familiar it was. Every town mentioned was somewhere I've lived, worked or visited. Characters worked at the same malls I did. One of them got the same degree I did, at the same college. Every street name was one I drive down all the time. I was beginning to think that surely I must have known the author, but I didn't. In any event, it made the story, which has some magical realism going on, even more interesting for me.

It occurs to me that, even though I've always wanted to write, I never once really considered writing about where I live. I think I thought it was too generic and ordinary to be of interest to anyone. I think Dean Bakopoulos has proven me wrong, and so had Charles Baxter who wrote The Feast of Love, set in Ann Arbor.
Doctor Who [Donna]


53. A Wizard Abroad by Diane Duane (332)
54. The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane (403)
55. A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane (320)
56. Wizard's Holiday by Diane Duane (416)
57. Wizards at War by Diane Duane (551)

The 4-8th books in the Young Wizards series. I belong to the author-owned forums/chat and some of the members recently started a weekly book chat, one book per week. I read the 4th book...and got a little carried away and read all the rest of them in about a week, instead of spacing it out. These are ostensibly YA books, but many of the concepts and references are beyond the average YA's grasp, so while many young people like these books about magic and fighting, good versus evil, adults can enjoy them as well. I can't really talk about the plots without giving away major spoilers for the previous books, but suffice it to say I enjoy all of them. A Wizard Alone is possibly my favorite of this bunch (the first three being my favorites of the series). This was my second reading of the 8th book, Wizards at War, and I liked it much better this tie than the first time I read it.

58. He, She, and It by Marge Piercy (429)

After recommending this several times recently, I felt like rereading it myself. From the back of the book:

In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Environmental disasters have ravaged the planet's resources, and the world has been divided into coroporate enclaves.

Shira Shipman's marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone, so she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up. there she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets the extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions - and the ability to kill...

59. Mutants ed. by Isaac Asimoc, Martin H. Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh (256)

Again, from the back:

Exceptionally gifted, strange, sometimes brilliant, but always different - mutants live among ordinary human beings in this collection of stories by some of science fiction's finest writers. Some of the mutations are obvious, some are invisible:
> In Ray Bradbury's "Hail and Farewell," Willie must move from town to town so no one will notice that he never grows older.
> Born with wings, David must choose between a girl who loves him and the live in the skies he was meant to lead, in "He That Hath Wings" by Edmond Hamilton.
> Amy is the first psychic in human history. Will the psychiatrist manipulate her powers to track down others like her, in Alan E. Nourse's "Second Sight"?
All that these mutants want is to belong. But will we let them?

These stories are from the 50's, and in many ways it shows - the treatment of female characters, for instance, and some dated scientific ideas. But I still find many of the interesting, regardless. My favorites are He That Hath Wings (regardless of the annoying female character) and What Friends Are For.

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59 / 100 books

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12 / 30 new books

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21,829 / 50,000 pages
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July Books

When I started doing the 50 book challenge I didn't really intend to post just once a month, but that's how it appears to have worked out. This is my latest catch-up.

#29: Polyphony 5 edited by Deborah Layne & Jay Lake, reviewed for Strange Horizons (the review is, I believe, scheduled for late August).

#30: Shuteye for the Timebroker by Paul Di Filippo, reviewed for SF Site.

#31: Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey, which I wrote about on my livejournal here.

#32: See Delphi and Die by Lindsey Davis, the most recent of the Falco novels. I must admit I am a sucker for these. Normally I prefer those set in Rome itself, those set outside tend to spend too long on the travelogue and not long enough on the mystery, but this one is actually the most satisfying book she's written for some time.

#33: Horizons by Mary Rosenblum, reviewed for Interzone.

#34: The Journals, volume 2 by John Fowles, which I also wrote about on my livejournal here.

#35: Polder: A Festschrift for John Clute and Judith Clute edited by Farah Mendlesohn. Since I was a contributor I've been meaning to read this for some time, and I'm glad to have finally had the chance. There are one or two pieces, particularly among the fiction, that I would not have chosen, but in the main there is some really good stuff here, particularly by Graham Sleight, Pamela Zoline, Kim Stanley Robinson, Rob Latham and an idiosyncratic but rather nice piece by Sean McMullan. It is interesting to note from the tone that everyone has ended up adopting, that Judith is adored, while John is regarded with a sort of amused respect. I can't criticise that, that's exactly how I regard them also.

my books from july

These are the books I finished in July:

17. A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin
18. In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis by Karen Armstrong
19. Genesis, translated by Robert Alter
20. Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Books 16-19

16. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks, 277 pages
Not one of Sparks’ best, especially because the ending was somewhat predictable after the foreshadowing in the first bit, but a follow up to True Believer, so I think it was worth reading.

17. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult, 387 pages

18. Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult, 384 pages
I continue to be impressed with Picoult’s style and her ability to ‘grey’ subjects that most people see only as black and white. The Tenth Circle is about a rape victim while Picture Perfect is about domestic abuse.

19. Native North American Art by Janet Berlo and Ruth Phillips, 253 pages
I read this book for my Native American Art class last semester, but there was one chapter we were not assigned to read that I just got around to finishing. The text is a good general source for the subject, with a lot of color pictures and a good bibliography for more specific reading.

Pages: 6793/15000 45.29%
Books: 19/50 38.00%
Days: 214/365 58.63%

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(no subject)

20. The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides...This was a good book, although very depressing, the attention to detail was wonderful. An interesting read.

21. The Heart Of Darkness - Joseph Conrad...I enjoyed reading this book although I think i will need to read it again to fully understand it, some of the description was wonderful!

22. The Glass Palace - Amitav Ghosh...This is the second book by him that i've read and I really enjoyed this one, i liked the last one too i seem to remember, i really engaged with teh characters and it very effectively dealth with the theme of war in asia, which i knew very little about. i would highly recommend this book.

23. How To Be Lost - Amanda Eyre Ward...well now, i was given this book by a canadian friend I went to university with who was trying to get rid of her books before she had to move again!!and i finished it this morning, my feelings on it were mixed, it was a very easy book to read, it took me about 3 days, but it could have made more of the subject and the ending could have been better, it didnt really end, well it did, but it would have been nice if she'd expanded on what was happening. It did however tie together the story of the different characters in the book nicely and it was only a little confusing at times!

Challenge Update

Book #18 is done. I read If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern. I loved it. The basic plot is that Elizabeth has had a life of disappointment and finds her dreams constantly hindered by the memory of her mother, who abandoned her and her sister and the rest of her family. Elizabeth never wanted children but when her sister, Saoirse, has a child and leaves him with Elizabeth, she's an instant Mom. Her nefew Luke is 6 years and Elizabeth doesn't really know how to show him the affection he desires. Enter Ivan, a mysterious stranger who turns Elizabeth's life upside down. She doesn't really know what to make of him but he teaches her some of lifes most important lessons. It's a really heartwarming story, another great book by Cecelia Ahern. Set in Ireland, I found the hardest part was making my way through some of the gaelic names and words that kept popping up. If your looking for an easy read that will definately tug at your heart strings this is the one, but u might want a tissue.

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(no subject)


The last hero, Terry Pratchett.

It's TP. It is inherently awesome.


Sunshine, Robin McKinley

Good. Felt a slight bit like I was reading a harlequin romance novel at times, but the humour and the well-captured inhuman aspect of the vampires balanced it out. A good page-turner.

Series by Andrew M. Greeley

I've read several of this Chicago area Catholic priest's "little bishop" series, but this time, I grabbed all but one of his Irish series, Nuala Anne McGrail (which mentions the "little bishop" in passing, but does not use him as a main character). Somewhere along the line, which seem to go in order throughout her life, I skipped her wedding, (which happened in Irish Lace, of course! What else could he possibly call it?) but got in on the presence of three children. Either I missed seeing Irish Lace on the shelf, as I did not take my glasses in (BAD PLANNING!), it was checked out, or the little Corydon library does not have it.

No, I'm not Catholic, but a lot of my good friends are, as well as some of the relatives. He tells upbeat stories, thrillers, with complex mysteries to solve, but with a lot of philosophy, alternating the settings between Ireland and Chicago.

The love scenes are hysterical. Oh, what he must hear in confession! (Or, as a Catholic friend pointed out, priests vow to live celibately, but do NOT have to come into the priesthood as virgins...)

He also works into the text lots of song lyrics, generally of religious origin, but the Molly Malone of Dublin folk song got in the first volume in all its stanzas and choruses twice (Irish Gold). The one I finished last night, Irish Eyes, had this one, which brings back pleasant memories of Mom singing as she worked around the downtown Chicago apartment when I was quite young:

When Irish eyes are smiling,
"Tis like a day in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter,
You can hear the angels sing.

When Irish eyes are happy,
All the world is bright and gay,
But when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they'll steal your heart away.

(Twice, of course -- as a front piece, and then repeated in the text where Nuala actually sings it in the story.)

Edit: Today, the OTHER nearby town's library actually HAD Irish Lace, so slightly out of order, but better than never, I will read that one, too.

Do You or Don't You?

As I struggle to finish WRITING my first book, I need some feedback: Do YOU read forewords, prefaces, front quotes, etc. when you read a novel for fun (as opposed to when you are ASSIGNED to read them, and so forced to pay attention to them...)?

Edit: Anyone wanting to SAMPLE before/after they comment, the story is "hiding" back at

I began putting more polished bits in what I hoped was in order, one part per date. That way, by changing the date, I could rearrange the pieces as needed. As I edited, I added a date for when I last revised. Later on, some entries will have a WC (word count) feature, and some an RL (reading level).

(Yeah, I do NaNoWriMo.)

The current table of contents is a MESS at present. Avoid it.

Maybe I shouldn't post this... It sounds too much like a commercial...

-- Maybe I should. You all are GREAT commenters! If I ever want to publish, I *need* good quality feedback...
Butterfly Circle

The Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

This is my first post...just felt like announcing that. :p

The genre of the book is Fantasy. It was published in 1995 and was the author's first book. I think I acquired it in a garage sale and I just got around to reading it.

I highly recommend this book. It was well written...especially for a fantasy many are somewhat cheesy. The author used the medieval time period to model the culture and technology described in the many fantasies are. There is a little element of magic and the world is fiction, otherwise I'd describe it as a historical fiction book since it has that feel.

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Suggestions for history class

I'm taking Early American History (pre-Revolution - Civil War) in the fall (possibly).

We have to do a book report on an event or a biography on a prominent person from that range in American History. The only catch is that it has to be representative of that period, and it has to be related to American History.

I'm really interested in the Salem Witch Trials. I've already read Benjamin Franklin's diary...HATED it. But I'm game for anything that's good.

But anyway...

any good reads that anyone can rec would be most helpful.

Cross-posted to spookykat


For shame, my Lord, for shame!

Hello Fellow Challengers,

I just discovered the group even though I've been Fifty-Book-Challenging all year.  I'm a few weeks behind, thus I just finished number twenty-eight, Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys.  Next on the agenda is Mark J. Danielewski's House of Leaves.

For those who are interested, here's my list so far.  I just wanted to say Hi, so, uh, Hi.


Moving On

33) A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park 192 pages 6/10
I am really indifferent about this book, I can't figure out if I liked it or just didn't care about it. I thought parts of it were interesting especially the pottery stuff but I didn't really connect much with the book. This also could be because it was the last book for my Children's Lit class so I was rushing through it to finish up classes and take finals.

34) Key of Valor by Nora Roberts 340 pages 10/10
It took me forever to get to this book because of having summer classes in the way. The first two were #17 and #18 for the year. This one was Zoe's story. I really thought this book was a great conclusion and because Zoe is the one I seem to connect best with (she is the motherly one) I just fell in love with this book. I was constantly crying everytime something good or bad happened.

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34 / 50

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9,287 / 15,000

I'm trying to decide what to read next. I have a ton of books on my shelf I still need to read but I think I have it narrowed down to Daisy Miller and Washington Square by Henry James (two books in one), The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, or The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I have some Oz books too but since I just read a bunch of kid books I think I'm going to wait on those.

#36 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America and seems poised to achieve the same prominence here. The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams. The cumulative effect is like hearing a wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist. Comparisons to The Little Prince are appropriate; this is a sweetly exotic tale for young and old alike. - From Publisher's Weekly

I really found it so visual and it reminded me of the Princess Bride movie for some reason. I like the concept of following your personal legend. This one is a keeper to reread another day in the future. 5/5

Books #51-53

51) Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (444 pages)
Wonderful. I've been collecting Kingsolver's books for a while but haven't gotten around to reading one until just recently. I absolutely loved this book, its characters, and the way the three different story lines wove around each other. Kingsolver's attention to natural detail neatly complemented the book. I will definitely be reading the rest of her books. 5/5

52) The Ten Things You Can't Say in America by Larry Elder (334 pages)
I read this for my book discussion group. While I didn't agree with everything he said, I did enjoy the book. I felt that he started out much stronger than he finished and thought that he made a number of very good points regarding racism, affirmative action, and illegitimacy. I imagine he would make a very entertaining speaker. What I did wish for was less reliance on his personal experience as "evidence" that supported his own particular viewpoint, and his evidence for the nonexistence of global warming has been debunked by the legitimate scientific community so I have to wonder about some of his other scientific evidence. 4/5

53) The Admiral's Bride by Suzanne Brockmann (297 pages)
Brockmann is my guilty pleasure. I've been trying to get my hands on some of her older, harder to find, books. While they are weaker plot-wise than her newer stuff, they are still very enjoyable. This was pure brain candy with lots of romance and action and even some things blowing up. 4/5