Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
1. Reading a good book makes me happy.
2. I would like winter to go away, please.
3. Tea and pumpkin scones tastes SO good!
4. The day my husband has off work is my favorite day of the week because I don't get to see him nearly enough.
5. My eyes are my best feature.
6. We could learn so much from all the past mistakes that have been made in this world.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Shabbat dinner, tomorrow my plans include celebrating with my husband that his board exam is over and his two week vacation has begun and Sunday, I want to have a little time to myself to read while Daddy and Maya play together!
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Rating: 5 of 5
First sentence: This is what I write to her: The clouds tonight embossed the sky.
I always hesitate to pick up books that are based on characters from classics, especially a classic as beloved as Lousia May Alcott's Little Women. March, by Geraldine Brooks, tells the previously untold story of the absent father. Fortunately for readers, it does not disappoint.
In this beautifully written novel, we get to experience life from Mr. March's perspective. Told largely through a series of flashbacks after he enlists as a Chaplain for the Union Army, we hear about March's childhood, his life as a young peddler in the pre-Civil War South, how he makes his fortune, and how he loses it. We learn about his dreams, hopes, failures, hopeless idealism, and indiscretions. The writing is exquisite, and sounds like an authentic voice from the past.
Brooks' detailed research of the Civil War era is evident, and I learned about aspects of the war that I had not previously known about, such as what happened to runaway slaves that crossed the federal lines during the war. Referred to as contraband, they worked on plantations taken over by Northerners for a small wage.
Like Alcott, Geraldine Brooks draws largely from Bronson Alcott's life for inspiration. Yet, this is a novel that easily stands on its own. Lovers of Little Women may not like the freedom that Brooks took with the characters, which were portrayed as an ideal family. Through this novel, they are a bit more realistic, and seen in a different light. It is a book about the harsh realities of life; she does not cast Mr. March in the role of a hero.
I promised her that I would write something every day, and I find myself turning to this obligation when my mind is most troubled. For it is as if she were here with me for a moment, her calming hand resting lightly upon my shoulder. 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. (p.4)
Thursday, January 24, 2008
What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”
I have met a lot of people that have never heard of The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, which is one of my all-time favorites. Winterdance, by Gary Paulsen, another favorite, is virtually unknown, even by book lovers. One of my new favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is still not very well known here in the U.S. Some other authors that come to mind are: Tim Winton, Luong Ung, Soseki Natsume, Nick Earls, and Barbara Pym.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have a copy of the Pulitzer prize winning The Hours by Michael Cunningham to give away. I didn't receive it new, but it looks new. There are three ways you can enter to win:
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Scribed by Nyssaneala at 11:04 AM
Sunday, January 20, 2008
So, I just realized I never did an "official" post for the Series Challenge, hosted by Kathrin at Crazy Cozy Murders. The challenge runs from December 1, 2007 - May 31, 2008.
- Weslandia by Paul Fleischman (illustrated by Kevin Hawkes) This is one of the books from Daedalus. I first saw this mentioned at PlanetEsme, and thought about buying it for Maya when she was older. When I saw it at Daedalus, I couldn't resist. Wesley is no ordinary boy...he plans a self-sufficient civilization during his school vacation. This story about a young nonconformist is a delight, and I plan on using it in the future to teach Maya about civilizations and consumerism.
- What is the What by Dave Eggers. The second of the two books I purchased at Daedalus, I have been meaning to read this book since it was first published in 2006. Technically a novel, the subject of the story is a real person. Valentino Achak Deng is a Sudanese refugee, and the novel is a fictional recreation of what he experienced.
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Reviewed at A Written Word.
- Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear. Reviewed at the hidden side of a leaf.
- Snow White, Blood Red by Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling. Reviewed at Rhinoa's Ramblings.
- Breathless in Bombay by Murzban F. Shroff. Reviewed at Musings of a Bookish Kitty.
- So Big by Edna Ferber (I actually think this one may already be on my TBR list somewhere, and I forgot about it). Reviewed at Caribousmom.
Friday, January 18, 2008
1. The last compliment I got was from my husband; he said that I looked beautiful.
2. I'm reading Living a Jewish Life: Jewish traditions, customs, and values for today's families.
3. I woke up today and thought wow, I woke up before my daughter, who looks so peaceful right now.
4. Why does my cat want to claim all of Maya's stuff for herself? (the co-sleeper, crib, rocking chair, activity mat, my lap).
5. The last thing I ate was a tomato and basil bagel with cream cheese and lox.
6. January... the month when winter really comes here.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to eating the first Shabbat meal I have been able to make since Maya was born, tomorrow my plans include meeting up with a friend at Belvedere Square market, and checking out Daedalus Bookstore's 2nd anniversary sale and Sunday, I want to sit down with my husband and start to finalize our plans for Maya's Brit bat (naming ceremony)!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Rating: 3 out of 5
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The 2008 Sydney Taylor book awards were announced earlier this month. This award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.It looks like a great selection of books, and I will definitely be heading to the library to check some of these out!
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:
with illustrations by Kristina Swarner
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers:
The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers:
Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Younger Readers:
Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Older Readers:
with consulting by Dan Stone (DK Publishing in association with USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education)
Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Teen Readers:
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Mirjam Pressler, translated by Erik J. Macki (Front Street/ Boyds Mills Press)
Notable Books for Younger Readers:
Notable Books for Older Readers:
Notable Books for Teens:
Monday, January 14, 2008
Books read are highlighted in red.
Reviewed books are followed by link to the review.
1. Antigua and Barbuda
Cat's Eye, Handmaid's Tale, Robber Bride, Blind Assassin, and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Cat's Eye finished 31 July 2007)
Random Passage by Bernice Morgan
9. Dominican Republic
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent by Julia Alvarez
10. El Salvador
I, Rigoberta Menchu, as told to Elizabeth Burgos-Debray (finished 18 April, 2007)
19. Saint Kitts and Nevis
20. Saint Lucia
21. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
22. Trinidad and Tobago
You'll probably see a lot of posts in the next week or two as I try to transfer my Reading Across Borders list and stats to my blog. I will be using this post as the main reference point, with a link on my sidebar.
Reading Across Borders Challenge Progress
North America - 5/23 countries read
Asia - 7/46 completed
Africa - 5/52 countries read
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I am almost finished reading K is for Killer from Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series. I always like to escape with Kinsey Millhone and these fun, light books, but this one isn't holding my attention as well as the others. I hopefully will finish it tonight after Maya goes to sleep, as I only have 30 pages left. Next up I plan on reading Living A Jewish Life by Anita Diamant.
Of course, I have added to my TBR pile this week after reading some reviews by other bloggers. Here is what caught my eye:
- Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journeys by Isabel Fonseca. Mentioned at A Striped Armchair.
- Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin. Reviewd at SMS Book Reviews.
- Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. Included in the Best of 2007 by SMS Book Reviews.
- Paris Cafe: The Select Crowd. by Noel Riley Fitch. Mentioned at Kate's Book Blog.
Friday, January 11, 2008
2. I'm most tempted by Paperback Swap and Amazon.com.
3. Today I want to sleep for 8 uninterrupted hours when I go to bed, which I know will not happen.
4. The last thing I took a picture of was actually not my daughter, but something that I was giving away on Freecycle.
5. You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead. (can you figure out where I got this from?)
6. The most recent movie I’ve seen that I really enjoyed was Transformers.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to Daedalus bookstore, tomorrow my plans include going on a walk, weather permitting and Sunday, I want to spend time with my husband and daughter!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thursday, January 10, 2008
How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?
Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?
The first author that comes to mind when I think of my favorites is Margaret Atwood. I first discovered her work when I took a Women's Lit class my sophomore year in college. We read The Handmaid's Tale, and I absolutely loved it. (It is still my favorite of all of her books that I have read). After I graduated, I started reading more of her books, and have loved pretty much everything she has written.
Two other favorites are Isabel Allende and John Steinbeck. In my 10th grade English class, we had to chose an author, and read one of their books each quarter. I picked Steinbeck, mainly because my father had many of his books on our bookshelves. I had read The Pearl in junior high, and did not particurly enjoy it, but I have been captivated by all of his other stories.
I came across Isabel Allende one day at the library about five years ago. Her novel, Paula, caught my eye, as that is my mother's first name. I picked it up, knowing absolutely nothing about the author, and have since gone on to read many more of her books.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Scribed by Nyssaneala at 8:43 AM
Author: Nuruddin Farah
Rating: 4 out of 5
First sentence: "Guns lack the body of human truths!"
It has been 15 years since the Somali state collapsed, when the dictator Said Barre fled Mogadishu in 1991, and Somalia continues to remain a failed state, with no effective government. Continuing to be neglected or ignored by the international community, Somalia has no rule of law or justice system, and very little of its infrastructure remains functioning or intact. As recently as 2006, active warfare broke out between the warlords and militia, with the backing of Ethiopia. This is the setting in which Links takes place, Mogadishu of the mid-1990's. Unfortunately not very different from the Mogadishu of today.
Jeebleh arrives in a Mogadishu vastly different from the one he left twenty years ago. On landing at an airport now under the control of a warlord, Af-Laawe, a man unknown to him that was sent by someone unknown to pick him up, greets Jeebleh with 'Guns lack the body of human truths!' At his hotel, when asking to make an international phone call, he is visited by a one-man phone operator that carries a satellite phone in his bag. Jeebleh does not know what to make of his devastated city, nor how to understand those who live in it. He arrives in Mogadishu with the goal of finding his mother's grave, and finding his friend Bile's niece, who has been abducted. Through Jeebleh's self-righteousness, parallel to the American military intervention, Farah asks the question of how does a person be good and just in a city that is a murderous vacuum.
Links is a psychological quagmire, a reflection of Mogadishu itself. Through Jeebleh's perspective, an exiled Somali now considered an outsider by many of his fellow Somalis that never left the country, we witness the ambiguities of clan violence, hazy alliances, and conflicted values that characterizes the Somali civil war. Through the story of Jeebleh's close friends and acquaintances Farah demonstrates the violence in Mogadishu as a reflection of the disorder in the home, and the impossibility of separating the political from the personal.
This portrayal of tangled clan loyalties and its effect on society is one of the greatest strengths of the novel. His description of war-torn Mogadishu and the personal stories of those whose daily lives are surrounded by such extreme violence, is harrowing and poignant. I was particularly affected by a passage about a mother who describes the day her daughter was permanently injured by an American helicopter:
"I became hysterical," she continued, "and tore at my bare breast, where my daughter had been nursing. I wailed, I wept, I cursed, I prayed, but to no avail. I tore at my clothes, until I disrobed, convinced that my child had been swallowed up in the sand raised by the helicopter's sudden arrival. Then I saw the shape of evil. Rangers pointing at my nakedness and laughing. I stopped wailing, and covered my indecency, and then cursed the mothers who bore these Rangers. I've never glimpsed worse evil than those men cupping their hands at me, their tongues out, pointing at my nakedness." (p.276)I do wonder why Farah chose English, his 4th language, as the medium to write. At times, the conversations and plot seems awkward, and I leave the novel failing to understand any of the major characters. Despite this weakness, Links remains a telling story of those who have become collateral damage in a cycle of violence.
"A cynic I know says that thanks to the vultures, the marabous, and the hawks, we have no fear of diseases spreading," one of Jeebleh's contacts says. "My cynical friend suggests that when the country is reconstituted as a functioning state, we should have a vulture as our national symbol."
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Okay, I'm very late this week, but I wanted to answer this one!
What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?
There are quite a few books I am looking forward to this year. In fact, I am looking forward to all of the ones on my challenge lists, but here are a few highlights:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Jewish Lit Challenge).
- Red Poppies by Alai (What's in A Name Challenge, Reading Across Borders and Expanding Horizons Challenge)
- The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevera (Expanding Horizons Challenge)
- Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser (TBR and Chunkster Challenge)
- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Chunkster and TBR)
- First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (Themed Reading Challenge)
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Each book I finish over 450 pages, I will post a link to my review here.
- The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (552p) finished 25 February 2008
- Gate of the Sun - Elias Khoury (531p) finished 27 March 2008
- The Sea, The Sea - Iris Murdoch (502p) finished 20 May 2008
- Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (546p.) finished 6 July 2008
Title: Great Expectations
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 out of 5
First Sentence: My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.
I have only read Dickens once before, an that was not of my own volition. I read A Tale of Two Cities in 10th grade, and really loved it. For some reason, I never went back. I always meant to, and when My Year of Reading Dangerously came about at Estella's Revenge, and Great Expectations was January's book, I figured I couldn't put it off any longer.
I will admit, it was a slow start. For the first 50 pages or so, I wasn't entirely captivated. Then I really became interested and engaged with the characters, particularly Miss Havisham, and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the novel.
As many of you probably know, since Great Expectations started out as a weekly serial, there is never a lack of suspense. Dickens' writing is intricate and detailed, and there are more twists and turns than many of the other books I have read from his time period. His ability to hone in on the nuances of human behaviour, particularly through Pip's fallibility, is a highlight in what I consider to be a true masterpiece. Great Expectations covers virtually every aspect of the human condition, and causes the reader to consider their own human nature and "great expectations". Highly Recommended.
So throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise. (p.218)
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
When I first joined the TBR Challenge yahoo group last year, I thought I would be finished this challenge in six months. Turns out, it is the only one that I did not finish. Around September, I lost interest in the books that were left on my list. I would still like to read them. Just not right now. But, I did come close, completing 10 out of my 12 books (2 were alternate selections).
I joined again for 2008, and gave myself more alternate choices, so we will see what happens this year! (Sorry for the lack of links, I am having some difficulties linking things this morning)
Things fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich
I, Rigoberta Menchu
Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer
Hilda and Pearl - Alice Mattison
Survival in Auschwitz - Primo Levi
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolfe
Bee Season - Myla Goldberg
Fall On Your Knees - Ann-Marie MacDonald
The best book: Things Fall Apart.
What book could I have done without: I originally had The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand on this list, and it was the only book in 2007 I did not finish. I also did not like Bee Season by Myla Goldberg.
What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? I might not be the best at completing year-long challenges!
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I'm making a promise to myself this year, which may be a resolution in itself, not to make any specific resolutions or goals for 2008. With the exception for challenges, of course. However, I do have some "ideas" of the direction I would like my reading to go in this year. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Once again, to continue to read more non-fiction
- To read more books by lesser known authors
- To get through a few series I have had on my TBR list for a very long time
- To read even more books in translation
- To read more spontaneously
Scribed by Nyssaneala at 3:23 PM
Today is also my blogiversary!!
9 challenges completed.
8,500 visitors since I started counting, on August 29.
An entire world of new friends.
And one new baby. :)
Thank you to everyone for visiting, and I look forward to many more adventures and conversations in the new year! And a big Woohoo for Wendy at caribousmom for being the very first person to ever comment on my blog!
Scribed by Nyssaneala at 12:18 PM