January 8th, 2010

November and December Reads...I got behind...

80. - 85.)  The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot...I absolutely adored these books...I couldn't put them down and I wish there were more of them.  I mean where else can you find romance, mystery, people who talk to ghost and a whole bunch of other random stuff like that.  What an amazing series.  Loved it beyond belief.

86.)  Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine...I am not sure I liked the book as well as the movie but it was still an amazing read...This is an awesome author and I can't wait to read more by her.

87.)  Last Summer (of you and me) by Ann Brashares...Didn't really like this one...It moved a bit slow for my taste...May give it another go eventually though.

89.)  Book of Nightmares by Bruce Coville...Some of the stories in this book were interesting but not the greatest in my book.

90.)  I'm Sorry, Almira Ann by Jane Kurtz...The story of two friends on the Oregon Trail...Touching and sad...Really enjoyed reading it more than  I can say.

91.)  American Sisters:  West Along the Wagon Road 1852 by Laurie Lawlor...Didn't like this book at all...Moved way too slow and well I just didn't like it.

92.)  Cirque Du Freak #1 A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan...I loved it until a spider tried to bite me when you get to the part about the friend and the spider...I got freaked out and had to stop reading...I do plan on finishing it eventually when I move out of the place I am currently in that is swarming with spiders...lol...great read though.

93.)  The Van Alan Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz...Not the best in the series...I got really confused with all the back and forth in this book...Not sure why...Would love to read more though.

94.)  Jinx by Meg Cabot...LOVED this book...I loved it so much I asked for it for Christmas...A must read for Cabot fans.

95. -96.)  Goose Girl and Enna Burning by Shannon Hale...This series is amazing.  The author is amazing.  I started the third book but didn't get to finish it last year so in a few days it will be up here too...Must read series.

97.)  Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeves...Not a good adaptation of the reign of King Arthur but still a good book.

So last year I read 97 books...this year I am going to try for 100...almost done with 2 already and lots more to come. 
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Mocking Cursor

Book 2 - Ghost Story

Book 2 - Ghost Story by Peter Straub

"Otto, why did you say it was an American sort of story?"
"Because, my good friend, everyone in your story is haunted. Even the credit card was haunted."

That line epitomizes what I really liked about Ghost Story. Reading some of the flashbacks and stories told reminded me of being back in school in my American Lit classes where the two things that stuck with me were: if you know how to read them, every novel is gothic, and every novel is a captivity narrative. Especially American novels.
This is my first time reading Straub, after over a decade of reading and loving Stephen King. After reading this I can see why they have co-authored stories together, however King is the better writer and storyteller. Still, Ghost Story was an intriguing take on the American convention of telling ghost stories, the past returning to haunt the present and the destruction people can bring on by hiding. I enjoyed most of the main characters, especially Ricky and Sears, and their relationships with each other. It wasn't as 'creepy' as I thought it would be, or as gory, but it still reached inside and found fear within me (don't even ask about my dreams last night...).
I did really enjoy the book, but I can't say it excited me to read more of Straub's solo work. I am, however, now more interested in reading both The Talisman and Black House, which he co-authored with King.

Currently Reading:
Ghostwalk - Rebecca Stott

????? (If anyone is on Goodreads and wants to offer me suggestions, this is the list of books I own yet sit on my shelves waiting to be read: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/248003-bree?shelf=owned-but-unread)

Book Reviews :)

El Corazon

9. John Barleycorn, or, Alcoholic Memoirs; 10. The Broken Ear; 11. The Great Brain Reforms

John Barleycorn, or, Alcoholic Memoirs
by Jack London

Started: January 4, 2010
Finished: January 8, 2010

This is a memoir by London recounting his slow descent into alcoholism. I've been around enough drunks, current and former, to know that there's something I can identify with in everyone's story of how they went from a drink now and then to letting it control their life, but, man, I guess it's because London is such a great writer, but I really identified with this book. His drunkalogues are entertaining but the real value in this book is in the great job London does describing the little ways that drinking too much starts messing with your every thought and action. Heck, for a near-one hundred year old book, I thought this was way better than most of the best-selling druggie of the week youth memoirs that are on the shelves today. Yeah, it has its dated parts, especially in his definition of just what "is" an alcoholic in those days before twelve step programs, but I thought 90% of the material presented was timeless. 210 pages. Grade: A+
The Broken Ear

by Herge

Started/Finished: January 8, 2010

The Tintin books keep getting better and better. The artwork was good as always, but the story was a big step up from that of the first few books in this series. I'm now looking forward to reading more of these. 64 pages. Grade: B+
The Great Brain Reforms
by John D. Fitzgerald

Started/Finished: January 8, 2010

I started reading these books late last year because I had some thoughts about trying to write some juvenile fiction so I wanted to revisit some of my favorite books from ages seven to eleven to see how well they held up. This book isn't bad, but it's the fifth in the series and Fitzgerald had definitely fallen into a very set pattern at this point so the individual stories and overall plot are pretty predictable. I can't help but thinking sometimes while I'm reading these that all the Great Brain really needs is a good swift kick in the ass. Grade: B
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 11
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 2,118

Currently Reading: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Reading Soon: More TintinLittle Dorrit by Charles Dickens; The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet
  • cat63

Book 3 for 2010

Dewey by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. 309 pages

This biography of a small-town American library cat wasn't on my planned reading for this week, or even this year. But it's snowy and horrid here this week and Rob only had to be at work for a few hours this morning, so I did my shopping, including a book to read and then spent the rest of the morning in the supermarket cafe and in my van, reading it.

It's the story of a tiny kitten, found by the library staff in the book drop-box one freezing November morning and adopted as the library cat. Dewey proves to be the perfect cat for the job, making the patrons feel welcome and instinctively knowing when someone needs to be comforted or cheered up.

Beyond Dewey's life story, it's also the story of Vicki, the librarian who loved him and of Spencer, the town where they lived and how Dewey helped the library to become a real focus for the community.

I'm a sucker for an animal story and this was no exception. A fast, enjoyable, heartwarming read, but with an inevitable sad ending. It's touching but not mawkish - if you like cats, libraries and reading, you'll probably like this book.
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 2: Floating in My Mother's Palm

Floating in My Mother's Palm
Ursula Hegi
187 pages
This impeccably crafted, intensely moving novel, whose narrator is a young girl in post-WW II Germany, confirms Hegi ( Intrusions ) as an exceptionally talented writer. In short chapters that glow with the luminosity of Impressionist paintings, Hegi illuminates Hanna Malter's family and the other inhabitants of a small town on the Rhein.stet sp Her mother, a painter, is a risk-taker who has lost her faith in organized religion but teaches Hanna to have confidence in the powers of nature; her father is a kindly dentist who enjoys the security of an orderly life. Other village residents--a dwarf who is the town gossip, the illegitimate son of an American soldier, an architect whose dreams of death come true in a bizarre fashion, a teenager impregnated by her grandfather--are seemingly ordinary people whose quiet existences mask their sadness or desperation. While she obliquely exposes their secret lives, Hanna also reveals herself as a typical adolescent, whose rashly candid tongue sometimes wounds her friends. Some of the parables are a little too neat, but in general these finely tuned, interlocked vignettes convey both the essence of childhood and the spiritual emptiness of a community unwilling to confront the implications of the recent war. Building in power, the novel offers transcendent moments that affirm the need for some sort of faith to add meaning to our lives.

I liked this book pretty well, but it did not have the impact on me that Stones From the River did. I did like the short story format, but what I didn't like was the sudden changes in points of view. That got a bit confusing and I think it took away from the story. However, I do think that this is a worthwhile read, and I recommend that fans of Stones From the River read this "sequel".
El Corazon

12. The Black Island

The Black Island
by Herge

Started/Finished: January 8, 2010

Just read this while taking a nice, refreshing hot bath. What a great book! The story was yet another step up--just the right amount of twists and turns with nothing too outrageous in the solutions. But mainly the artwork, oh, the artwork--I've had no complaints about Herge's artwork so far, but in The Black Island, it was a huge improvement over anything he'd done before. Really crisp, clean drawings with just the right amount of detail. This was by far the best of the Tintin adventures so far. 64 pages. Grade:A
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 12
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 2,182