Coming soon! A brand new From My Bookshelf experience.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Salon 31 August 2008 *Late Night Edition, August Recap, and a Contest!*

Good evening, fellow Salon Members! I'm sorry to be here so late. My weekend has simply escaped from me, and I just realized that it is still Sunday, and I hadn't posted yet today.

My vacation to Florida proved to be very relaxing but busier than anticipated, so I wasn't able to read everything that I wanted to. I did start and finish Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None on the plane ride down, and I have to admit, that of the little Christie that I have read, this wasn't my favorite. I feel some of the murders were a bit too contrived and forced to fit the story. However, it is a sign of a great author when I can say that even though this is my least favorite to date, I still enjoyed every page of it! I expected to have more reading time while I was actually in Florida, but I was able to spend more time with my family than I had previously thought able, so more family time meant less reading time. I did start Katharine Kerr's Daggerspell and have loved what I've read. Only 60-ish pages in, and already she has begun to weave so many plot threads together, I know I'm going to have to pay close attention to this series!

While I was in Florida, I did a little book shopping. I came home with:
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
  • Sunset at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse
  • The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
  • The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
  • Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis (more on this later!)
The reason for all the Waugh is my uncle found out I have never read anything before by Waugh, and seemed rather mortified by that fact, so he bought me both to rectify that. I also found I had an ARC waiting for me in the mail when I got home, Nation by Terry Pratchett.

August was a fairly good reading month for me with eight books read:
I hope to be able to get reviews up for the Christie and Yolen tomorrow. I think Water for Elephants topped my reading list for the month. I missed out on reading a book for my 1001 Book Challenge, but The Lord of the Rings as a whole is on that list, so I suppose I can squeak by with The Fellowship of the Ring.

I'm not even going to try to speculate on my reading for the next week, let alone month, as I will be organizing and packing in anticipation of moving in October. I'm already setting aside the books that I will want to keep available so they aren't swept up into boxes for the next 2 months. I've gotten so many good books over the last couple of weeks, I won't know where to start!

And now for a contest! While I was in Florida and browsing the used book shops, I found a (I think new) copy of one of my favorite books and decided that I wanted to share it with someone. Patrick Dennis' Auntie Mame may be one of my favorite books, ever. I have read it several times (along with it's sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame) and it never fails to delight. The book is about young Patrick, who is sent to live with his Auntie Mame when his father passes away. What follows is one of the most outrageous, funny and heartwarming books that I have ever read. It has also been the basis for several stage and film adaptations over the years.

It is one of a handful of books that I have read so often, I consider them to be old friends (E.M. Forster's Howards End, Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road and Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café come to mind immediately). So here's the contest: I want to know about what books you read over and over again and are old friends for you. Mention this contest on your blog, and I'll put in another entry for you. Keep in mind, this is a used copy of Auntie Mame, but it looks to be in unread condition. I just thought this would be a good way to share one of my favorite books with someone who may have never read it before! I think I'll keep the contest open until next Saturday, September 6, and I'll draw a winner and post it on my next Salon posting.

I hope everyone has a wonderful reading week, and I'm thinking of everyone down south right now. I truly hope Gustav proves to be kinder than his predecessors.

Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

68. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen



Title: Briar Rose
Author: Jane Yolen
Copyright: 1992
Pages: 241
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 8-31-08

A powerful, modern day retelling of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose takes the fairy tale and recreates it in a way that is compelling, tragic and heartwarming. Rebecca's grandmother Gemma has told her stories of Briar Rose as long as Rebecca can remember. The stories became an intricate part of Rebecca's childhood and adolescence, but when Gemma passes away, Rebecca discovers just how intricately the stories were woven through the mystery that was Gemma's life as well. A deathbed promise to Gemma takes Rebecca halfway around the world, uncovering the mystery of Gemma's shrouded past, as well as giving Rebecca a renewed sense of herself.

Briar Rose is part of Terri Windling's Fairy Tale series, retellings of fairy tales by modern day authors. Jane Yolen chose the story of Sleeping Beauty to be the basis for her contribution to the series. Once I got into the story, I picked up fairly quickly on where she was going with the and I don't want to give it away, but this is not your typical fairy tale. Yolen has deftly managed to incorporate a very real tragedy and make it into something magical. It doesn't have the happily-ever-after that most would be looking for in a fairy tale; instead she has crafted a story of the strength and resolve of the human spirit and it's ability to overcome even the worst in life.

67. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie



Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Copyright: 275
Pages: 2001 (1965)
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 8-27-08

"Ten little Indian boys went out to dine..."

And so starts the nursery rhyme that was the basis for Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (also published as Ten Little Indians). The story opens with 8 people from all walks of life traveling to Indian Island, where they have been invited for a summer holiday by the mysterious U.N. Owen. Upon reaching the island, they discover that their mystery host is no where to be found; the only other people on the island are the butler and his wife. The guests are soon confronted with the reason for their invitation: their host knows about the secrets of their pasts, and has decided that justice must be served.

Truthfully, of the little Christie that I have read so far, this has been my least favorite. Don't misunderstand, however, I still greatly enjoyed the book! Christie's knack for misdirection is amazing, leading you to believe with utmost certainty who the killer is, at least until the next chapter when she sheds new light on a new suspect, and then you know for sure that they are the killer, again until the next chapter. What I didn't like about this book is the murders seemed too contrived and forced to match up with the nursery rhyme. Of course, these murders needed to fit the pattern of the rhyme, otherwise, what would be the point? It just came across as too convenient for me, yet I did enjoy flipping back and forth to the rhyme at the beginning of the book to try to figure out how the next murder would take place!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Free (audio)book! - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Ticket to Anywhere is giving away a previously loved audiobook copy of Diane Setterfield's excellent first book, The Thirteenth Tale. All you need to do to enter is click here and leave a comment over there!

Tuesday Thingers - 26 August 2008

Today's topic: LibraryThing authors. Who are your LibraryThing authors? What books of theirs do you have? Do you ever comment on an author's LT page? Have you received any comments from an author on your LT account?

My LT authors are Meg Waite Clayton (author of The Wednesday Sisters and The Language of Light), James Dashner (author of The 13th Reality series), J.F. Englert (author of A Dog About Town and A Dog Among Diplomats), Shawn Granger (author of Innocent, Volume 1), Penelope Przekop (author of Aberrations) and J. Scott Savage (author of Farworld: Water Keep). I have all the books listed above that they have written and I've read them all except The Language of Light, which I just got in the mail not too long ago.

I have commented on several of these author's LT pages, and I have received comments back. I've actually had the great pleasure to meet Meg Waite Clayton in person, and J.F. Englert was gracious enough to supply several copies of both of his books to give away on my blog in addition to doing a short Q&A with me. James Dashner has contributed to several discussions on LT about his books, and Penelope Przekop and I have had a couple of conversations via Facebook. I will hopefully be running a Q&A with J. Scott Savage in the near future.

Overall, I think this is one of the greatest aspects of LT, getting writers in touch with their readers, and it has also cemented my belief that most authors are a gracious and generous lot.

Monday, August 25, 2008

66. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien


Title: The Fellowship of the Ring
Series: The Lord of the Rings
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Copyright: 2001 (1954)
Pages: 424
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 8-25-08

Just like the rest of The Lord of the Rings series, I can't say much more than what has already been said before about the books. I can say that it has been a long time since I had read the entire series, and I am really enjoying reacquainting myself with the characters and their world. I find it interesting, having recently rewatched the movies, to see how events were rearranged and changed to fit the film version.

This is one of those books that I think everyone should read at least once. You really can't appreciate the epic scale of the story until you've experienced it for yourself.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Salon 24 August 2008

Hello, fellow Salon Members! I hope everyone has had a loverly week!

This week will be a slightly pitiful Salon for me. My roommate and I have decided to move, so we have been doing lots of running around, looking at the new place, trying to negotiate an early lease break with our current location, etc. That, and with the Olympics still going strong and my feeling slightly under the weather all week has combined into an extraordinarily light reading week for me!

My highlight for the week was the acquisition of May Sarton's first book of poetry, Encounter in April. I have been looking for this book for years, and finally found a copy on eBay (for what I consider a ridiculously low price). I also reread Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are after I discovered a copy hiding on the upper shelf of my closet. And rounding out my reading this week was a collection of "true" ghost stories that my friend S brought back for B & me from her vacation up north. Truly, not as productive a week as I had hoped.

Wednesday, I am flying off to Florida for a couple of days of relaxing and visiting with my family. I have four books packed for the trip (Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, the second Dresden Files book, and the first two books in Katherine Kerr's Deverry series). I'm hoping that these will hold me over while I'm down there.

On another note, our local library had their annual Friends of the Library sale, where they sell any paperbacks for 25¢ and hardcovers for 50¢. Would you believe that I couldn't find a single book that I wanted to buy? This sale is a huge event around here. I arrived roughly 5 minutes after it opened, and there were people already walking out with boxes and bags chockablock with books. I'm sure everything that I would have wanted to read was walking out of that sale with these new owners. My friend S (who did find a bag full of books herself) and I decided to wander downstairs to the library's bookstore and see what we could find (most paperbacks are 50¢ and hardcovers and trade paperbacks are $1). Well, all was not lost for the day, as I left with Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, Susan Minot's Evening, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, a first edition of Zoe Heller's What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] (I really enjoyed the film version, Notes on a Scandal, with Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett so I thought I'd give the book a try) and finally, a 1940's edition of Hugh Lofting's The Story of Doctor Dolittle. The Doctor Dolittle is a little worse for wear but not too bad given it's age, and the Heller is a withdraw from the library, but the others look like they were just pulled from the bookshelves at B&N and taken to the library for sale.

Well, that's about all for me this week. I'll be visiting some other Salon's this afternoon. I hope everyone has a plentiful reading week!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

65. Michigan's Most Haunted, A Ghostly Guide to the Great Lakes State by Sandy Arno Lyons



Title: Michigan's Most Haunted, A Ghostly Guide to the Great Lakes State
Author: Sandy Arno Lyons
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 100
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 8-23-08

I love me a good, "real" ghost story, so I'm always picking up these types of books. My friend S brought this one back for me and my roomie from her trip to upper Michigan. I never know whether to take these stories with a grain of salt, but I do think that sometimes there is something of truth in the tales.

Michigan's Most Haunted has some interesting stories in it, but it could have benefited from stories that had some more concrete evidence to their "hauntings" and maybe some pictures of the actual "ghosts." Lyons did provide pictures of each of the locations talked about in her book, along with information on contacting the locale in case you want to visit it yourself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

64. Encounter in April by May Sarton


Title: Encounter in April
Author: May Sarton
Copyright: 1937
Pages: 85
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 8-19-08

This was a real treat for me to find. I've been trying to track this book down for quite awhile and happened to come across this one on eBay a couple of weeks back and for a price that I simply couldn't pass up!

Truth be told, I always have a hard time reviewing poetry. Poetry can be so ethereal; each reading can give me something different to think about, so I never know quite what to write.

With Encounter in April, you can clearly see the beginnings of the life-long poet that May Sarton would become; the works are structured and clean, but don't quite have the polished emotion and raw confidence of her later poetry. These aren't poems to be taken lightly, however, as they are still powerful in their own right.

A prolific writer, May Sarton produced more than fifty volumes of fiction, poetry, children's books and journals over the course of her lifetime, as well as several self-published poetry editions. Encounter in April is her first published work, printed in 1937, followed in 1938 by her first novel, The Single Hound. She continued writing until the year she died in 1995, with her last journal, At Eighty-two: A Journal, published posthumously in 1996.

If you have never had the pleasure of reading May Sarton, I would recommend the following: Journal of a Solitude (perhaps her best known work, her record of living alone over the course of a year), A Reckoning (my first introduction to her writing, a powerful novel about coming to terms with your own death), Joanna and Ulysses (a charming tale about compassion and a donkey), The Fur Person (for anyone who loves their cat) and Coming into Eighty (her final book of poetry, and I think her most personal as she discovers that she is a stranger in the land of old age). It's hard to narrow down to just a few recommendations, as I think anything that Sarton wrote is worth reading, but these always stick out in my mind.

Monday, August 18, 2008

63. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak



Title: Where the Wild Things Are
Author: Maurice Sendak
Copyright: 1963
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 8-17-08

I had a pleasant surprise last night while going through a stack of old magazines I discovered in the back of my closet. I discovered that I had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are tucked away in that stack of magazines!

Not much more can be said for this children's classic tale that hasn't already been said before. I'm almost sure that everyone has read this at one point or another in their lives, and if you haven't, it's worth it. I know that it was the illustrations that I remember most from my childhood, and as I read it again last night, they all came back to me in a rush of nostalgia!

No child's library should be without this book.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Salon 17 August 2008

Hello, fellow Salon Members! How are you all on this fine, slightly warm Sunday afternoon? Doing well, I hope!

Well, another slow reading week again for me. I had some unnecessary personal drama to attend to, and when I wasn't dealing with that, I was sitting in front of the television, watching the Olympics. Say what you want, but I think these have been some of the finest games that we've seen in some time. I feel privileged to be able to watch these athletes. For me it is all coming down to Michael Phelps. I know some say that calling him the greatest athlete of the modern Olympics may be pushing it a bit much, but you have to admit that what he has accomplished is rather spectacular.

I did finish Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants last week, and if you haven't read this yet, I'd highly recommend it. I was going to read John Scalzi's Old Man's War in anticipation of reading Zoe's Tale for an early review, but my boss was heading out on vacation and needed a book to take, so I sent him with that. I moved on to Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief, and while I'm not too far along with that right now, I can say that I've enjoyed what I've read so far. Hopefully this week I will be able to finish that and at least get through Old Man's War before we meet again next Sunday.

Happy reading, everyone, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Free book! Jumble Pie by Melanie Lynne Hauser

Click here to request a free ebook copy of Melanie Lynne Hauser's new book, Jumble Pie.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday Thingers on a Wednesday 13 August 2008

This weeks question: Favorite bookstores. What's your favorite bookstore? Is it an online store or a bricks-and-mortar store? How often do you go book shopping? Is your favorite bookstore (or bookstores) listed as a favorite in LT? Do you attend events at local bookstores? Do you use LT to find events?

My favorite bookstore would have to be the Barnes & Noble right across the street from my apartment. I think it wins by default since it's within walking distance, though. lol

Truth be told, I shop there enough that I'm known by name. Actually, it is usually me and 2 friends who are there on a pretty regular basis. We joke about it being like Cheers, where everyone knows your name. I don't necessarily buy something every time I'm in the store, but I do stop by the store frequently. There is just something comforting about a building that big filled with books. I'm sure more people here know what I'm talking about. I do have it listed as a favorite on LT, as well.

As for local events, I try to attend them as I can. My B&N doesn't host too many events, unfortunately, but there are also 2 Schuler Books in town, and they frequently have author readings/signings, so I attend most of my events there. Sometimes my library has events, too, and I try to attend those when possible (for instance, last night the library hosted an author reading with 4 self-published authors who then spoke about what it was like for them to self-publish - hence why my Tuesday Thingers posting is on Wednesday this week).

I generally don't use LT to find events, only because I usually have a pretty idea of what's going on around town already. That, and there is only really one venue in town that uses the Local feature to advertise their events, and it's on the other side of town.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Free book! The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Bookroomreview is giving away free copies of Kelley Armstrong's new YA novel, The Summoning. You can found out more here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

62. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen



Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 335
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 8-10-08

An amazingly beautiful story, Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants is the tale of Jacob Jankowski and the 3 months that he worked for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth circus. When we meet Jacob, he is in his 90s, living in a nursing home and reliving his days with the Benzini Brothers circus. It was through a chance encounter after the death of his parents that caused him to leave veterinary school and put his fate with the circus.

I was really surprised by how quickly the story captured my attention. The novel jumps back and forth from "now," where we see Jacob dealing with the trials of old age, and "then," as he remembers his days with the Benzini Brothers circus, and how those days formed him into the man that he would grow to become. The sequences are fluid, though, and you find yourself easily swept along with the story. Sara Gruen's prose is amazing; I found myself on several occasions holding my breath, I was so wrapped up in the story. Gruen clearly portrays her characters emotions and captures each of their voices and personalities perfectly and her portrayal of the lives of the circus folk in the 1920s-30s was very grim. It was amazing to me that so many people would live that kind of life, but I guess when that was the only work to be had, they'd take what they could get.

Gruen seems to have done her research as well. Even though the Benzini Brothers circus is fictitious, I think it was clearly influenced by any number of circus' in operation at the time. She also makes reference to several actual circus events (such as the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944 and the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train accident of 1918). Even down to the band playing "The Stars and Stripes Forever" during an emergency, Gruen seems to have done her homework on circus life.

If you haven't read this yet, I'd really recommend it. I'd had the book on my shelf since it was released (I was caught up in the buzz, but never got around to actually reading it) and after 2 friends mentioned it a couple weeks back, I decided to take it off the shelf and give it a try. I'm sorry that it took me that long to get around to reading it.

Sunday Salon 10 August 2008 *Afternoon Edition*

Hello, fellow Salon Members! If I didn't know any better, I'd say there was a touch of autumn in the air here today. I went for a walk earlier, and there was a distinct nip in the air, and it started to sprinkle a little, and it actually was quite the chilly rain! As much as I enjoy autumn, I'm not ready to be done with summer quite yet!

It's been a slow reading week. After my sister left, I kept myself busy at work and visiting with some friends whom I hadn't seen in awhile. Friday evening, I went to see Wicked with 2 friends and all of our respective mothers. If you have never seen Wicked, I simply cannot recommend it enough. I read the book by Gregory Maguire, and to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with it. Eventually I will pick up the sequel, Son of a Witch, and I just discovered that there is a third book coming out in October, A Lion Among Men. I'm not exactly sure what it was about the book that I didn't like (it's been awhile since I read it) but it just didn't speak to me. The musical, on the other hand, makes me cry each time I see the show. It is such a powerful story of friendship, and the music is spectacular and the settings and costumes are just beautiful. The emotions that it brings up in me can almost be overwhelming sometimes.

As for my reading, I did finish J. Scott Savage's Farworld: Water Keep this morning. Mr. Savage sent me this book as an ARC, and I have to say that I was impressed. It was his first novel, and I could tell that he put a lot into its creation. You can read my review of it here.

I'm planning on finishing Water for Elephants tonight. I bought it when it first came out because there was so much buzz around it, but it took me until last week to finally pull it off the shelf and give it a read (also due to two separate friends mentioning that I should read it). It is the story of Jacob Jankowski, who is in his 90s, living in a nursing home, and reliving his days he spent with the circus as their vet when he was in his early 20s. It is a beautifully written story, and I'm anxious to finally find how Jacob's story ends.

After that, I'm hoping to make a dent in my ARC pile. I've received several books over the last couple of weeks that I need to get read and reviewed before I feel I can rightly move on to anything else. I'm continuing on with The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook during my work commute and if I've got it planned properly, I should finish that right before I head to Florida at the end of the month. And yes, I've even got my books planned for that trip; Agatha Christie's Until There Were None, the second Dresden Files book, and Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr. I'm really looking forward to Daggerspell. So many people have said that I will like it.

I hope everyone has a plentiful reading week.

61. Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Title: Farworld: Water Keep
Series: Farworld, Book 1
Author: J. Scott Savage
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 413
Format: ARC from author for review
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 8-10-08

Farworld: Water Keep is the first in a new YA fantasy series by J. Scott Savage. The story revolves around Marcus Kanenas, an orphan who dreams of a far-off world where his physical handicaps won't hinder him and magic is all around; a world he calls Farworld. In Farworld, animals and tree talk, fish can swim in the air, and everyone has magic, and Marcus is normal. Actually Farworld is a very real place, and there is a reason that he can dream of it so vividly. It is also the story of Kyja, who lives in Farworld, but considers herself handicapped there, for in a world where everyone has magic, she has none. Both kids think themselves outcasts due to their individual handicaps, but when circumstances force Kyja to bring Marcus to Farworld, both discover that their handicaps are really only in their minds, and that by working together, they may be able to save both Earth and Farworld.

It was a little slow going at first with Water Keep, but after I got into the flow of the story, it was hard to put the book down. J. Scott Savage has clearly fully imagined what Farworld is and what it's all about. The key to magic in Farworld centers around the Elementals, mythic creatures who control the 4 elements of water, air, land and fire. There are branches of white and black magic that can be accessed, but it is important here to keep a balance, otherwise you could fall completely into black magic and be corrupted forever.

The characters are fleshed out and believable; Marcus and Kyja, the skyte Riph Raph (imagine a small dragon), Master Therapass, the kindly fatherly wizard, all the myriad of magical creatures that inhabit Farworld, even the evil Thrathkin S'Bae; each of these characters are fully realized and each comes with his or her own back story. Savage does a great job including each person's history into the book without making it feel weighed down by excessive storytelling.

As a complete aside from the storytelling, I just have to mention how much I love the cover as well; it is almost worth the price of admission alone! I hope that they keep this same look uniform through the rest of the series.

Overall, a really fun book that has some great lessons to be learned for younger readers, but enough adventure and surprises to make it enjoyable for older readers as well. I'm looking forward to the future releases in the Farworld series.

Farworld: Water Keep will be released on September 12, 2008 by Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Free books! The Eight by Katherine Neville & Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

In anticipation of the release of her new book The Fire and in celebration of it's 20th anniversary, you can download a free copy of Katherine Neville's The Eight at her website. The offer is valid until 18 August 2008.

Also, you can listen to audiobook podcasts of Karen Marie Moning's Darkfever. They are releasing 4 chapters a week through the end of the book. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Author Meet: Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

So, I don't how I managed to forget about posting this. I hang my head in shame. A couple of weeks back I had the great opportunity to meet Meg Waite Clayton, author of the excellent The Wednesday Sisters. She was doing a reading and signing at the Borders in Ann Arbor (only about an hour from me), so I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I had a delightful time. Meg read a selection from The Wednesday Sisters and then took time to answer questions and to sign our books, even those of us who brought their LTER copies... We spent some time afterwards talking, and I feel like I've found a long lost friend! Thanks for a great night, Meg!

To learn more about Meg and The Wednesday Sisters, you can visit her website here. If you haven't yet read The Wednesday Sisters, I'd highly recommend it. You can read my review by clicking above, but I'll say again what a great book it is.

Want 14 Free Books? Who doesn't?!

You know you want 14 free books. It doesn't matter that your TBR pile is threatening an avalanche at any moment, these are 14 FREE books! 14!

Bookroomreviews is giving away 14 books to 5 people. To learn more, click here and bask in the glow of the possibility of winning 14 free books.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Salon 3 August 2008 *Afternoon Edition*

Hello, fellow Salon Members! Can it really have been so many weeks since I last visited the Salon? Ah summer, so much to do and so few months to do it in! My sister was in visiting from Maine for the last two weeks, hence my lack of time for the Salon. It seemed we were off doing something each Sunday that kept me from my computer. We only get to see each other a couple of times a year, so we try to fill our time together as much as possible. She has flown back East now, so I thought I'd stop in for a quick visit. It's always a grand time when she's here.

I recapped my July and found that, as a whole, that it was a very good reading month for me. I completed 9 books, which was a huge improvement from my paltry 4 in June. I completed 2 books from the 1001 list, even though both were rereads and one was an audiobook, I think they still count. This month I have a fair share of review books to complete and I want to tackle Zadie Smith's On Beauty as my 1001 book for the month. I'm currently working on Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and then I think I'm going to read Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Beyond that, I have so many good books in my TBR pile, I won't know what to choose next.

The audiobook I have just finished is The Hobbit and I will be moving on to The Fellowship of the Ring next. I haven't read The Lord of the Rings in many years, and with my library so close now, I'm trying to take advantage of it, and since I have 1/2 hour commute to work, I thought a good way to spend that time was listening to books. I chose Tolkien's books as I wanted something I could listen to but not have to focus all of my attention on, and these seemed to be a good choice so far. I haven't listened to many audiobooks (I've always felt they were cheating a little bit) but after a couple of tries, have found that I really enjoy it!

I hope you all have a wonderful reading week in front of you! I think I shall go make some dinner and then wander outside with a good book to catch the last light of day.

July 08 Recap

July proved to be my best reading month so far this summer, with 9 books read. I had a nice selection of books this time around. I started with Howards End was my 1001 Book Challenge book for the month, and even though it is a reread, it never lets me down. I'm not exactly sure how many times I've read it now, but it is one of those books that I take something new away from each reading.

After that I finished Brandon Mull's Fablehaven which I had been working on since June. This was a fun little read. It's about 2 kids who are staying at their grandfather's farm for a couple of weeks while there parents are on vacation, and it turns out the farm is Fablehaven, and modern day refuge for magical and mythical creatures. It's worth checking out if you are looking for something a little light but still amusing.

I admit, Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, 10 3/4 Anniversary Edition is a complete cheat on my reading, as I just read the original edition in March, but these books are so ridiculous they make me laugh every time. Plus, the 10 3/4 Anniversary Edition had a new introduction, 8 new pages of story, and each of the individual pages were enhanced with new art.

Walter Moers' A Wild Ride Through the Night was quite clever. Moers took 21 of Gustave Doré's etchings from various of his works and wrote a whole new story which involved Death, his sister Dementia and how Doré cheated Death and lived to tell the tale.

Penelope Przekop's Aberrations was a review copy sent to me, and I am pleasantly surprised by how well-written this book is. It touches on so many subjects: narcolepsy, discovering homosexuality, dementia, love, loss, the need for the idea of mother; and each of these aspects Przekop touched on with care and understanding. I think it tops my reading for the month and comes highly recommended.

Tom Evans' 100 Years of Ermintrude was another review read. The book is told in 33 stanzas and recaps the life of Ermintrude, but told backwards from her 100th birthday to her childhood and earlier, with each stanza highlighting a moment in her life (the birth of her children, her daughter's breast cancer, her son's wedding, the death of her husband, etc). Some of the rhymes seemed very forced, but Ermintrude's story was very touching and it was interesting to see how Evans could make you see how Ermintrude moved forward in her life, overcoming each obstacle even though he was telling her story in reverse.

Nancy Bruno's Genuine Men: Journeys in Stories and Stills was another review copy. Bruno felt that there needed to be more positive male role models who were everyday people, so she chose 35 men ranging it age from 12 to 91 years old and told their stories of how they felt that they had become men along with accompanying photographs. The stories seemed a little vague at times but overall it is a nice presentation.

I listened to an audiobook of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, which I have read before but enjoy each time, and thought listening to it would be a good way to get an extra book in for the month. I'm in my car quite a bit, and with my library right across the street now, I thought I'd try and check out some audiobooks for awhile and see how those go. Next up is The Fellowship of the Rind.

Lastly, I read the first Hellboy graphic novel by Mike Mignola, Seed of Destruction. After watching the second movie this summer, I thought I'd try giving one of the books a try. It is the basic premise for the first movie, and while the movie does follow the same idea, the graphic novel and movie do diverge significantly in some areas.

Overall, not a bad month for reading and hopefully August will be just as good.