Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Top 5 of 2008.

I read 103 books in 2008, definately a best since I have been counting - in the last couple of years I managed about 75 and 77 books. This is a quick top 5 plus a few plans for 2009.

1. Gone with the Wind, Mitchell
2. East of Eden, Steinbeck
3. The Gargoyle, Davidson
4. Roots, Haley
5.Neverwhere, Gaiman

In 2009 I seem to have gone a little mad with the challenges but I enjoy being able to discover new books and I've also managed to add mainly books from mount tbr to my challenge pools. I will be coming on here less to browse, as I find I can easily waste an hour and a half when I should be doing something productive. But when I do come on I hope to write better posts and comment more on peoples blogs (I've deleted loads of blogs from Googlereader who I just skim).
I'm also hoping to tackle more non-fiction to stretch my brain a bit further.

Plans for January - as well as getting back to the gym (3 weeks away now! all that hard work will have gone to waste). I'm planning on reading:
finishing American Gods, Gaiman
finishing The Tales of the Beedle and the Bard, Rowling
The Northern Clemency, Hensher
The Hive, Camilo Jose Cela
Blood River, Butcher
Family Maters, Mistry
When We Were Orphans, Ishiguro
Fugitive Pieces, Micheals
The House of Spirits, Allende


My Thought: The Host by Stephanie Meyer

The Host is set in a dystopian American world, which has been taken over by these small creatures which are implanted into the necks of humans. The host body and mind is then controlled by these friendly altruistic creatures, who are trying to rescue our world from our violence and destruction. Wanda is implanted into Melanie, but Melanie (unlike most humans) fights back, she battles to gain control of her body and fights to stop the others from seeking out her family and implanting them. As the novel progresses Wanda and Melanie travel to find Melanie's family, with many unexpected outcomes.
Wanda becomes engrossed in Melanie's memories, falling into love with her boyfriend and caring deeply about her brother. But she has to fight for acceptance from other humans, some give it easily - a little too easily - and others will never drop their guard around her. She also has to battle with fellings and emotions she never expected or had ever experienced before. Huge questions are asked about what it means to be human and about love.
This book is sold as Meyer's first adult novel, but I couldn't see that it was anymore adult than Twilight was, and I can't see many non YA reading adults reading this.

PS I finished my last challenge of the year!!!

Other reviews:

If you've reviewed this leave a link here

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Sunday Salon

Well that's Christmas over for another year. I had a good, but very quiet one. Ate too much and received many presents. Book wise, I got 6 new books, as seen above. The one not pictured is called The Book of Words by Tim Glynne-Jones. I have read a few tales from The Beedle and the Bard (ok so far) and I'm 200 pages into American Gods (Fantastic so far).

I some how managed to go to my mums leaving my books (The Host and The Court in the Air) and my hair stuff behind, so as well as having flat hair for four days I had little to read till Christmas Day. I managed to find a book by an English Comedian, which I finished in a day other tha that I had The Lord of the Flies to read and plan lessons for - still loads more to go!

Now I have one week off, I have a stack of marking and planning to do, I also have a ton of studying on the langauge differences between Men and Women, with an essay to write at the end of it (I'm a good 2-3 months behind on my course so I need to majorly catch-up this month). Hopefully I will have my afternoons free to read and go out, and avoid the fact that I have to turn another year older. I also have one more challenge to finish by Wednesday - I've got to read The Host.

Orbis Terrarum: Wrap Up and Meme

I seem not to have done a wrap up post for this challenge which I finished way back in June! I read :
Mister Pip ,Lloyd Jones (Australia)
The Plague, Camus (Algeria)
Moon Tiger, Lively (Eygpt)
Persian Brides, Rabinyan (Persia)
Peony in Love, Lisa See (China)
The Devil and Miss Prym, Coehlo (South America)
Microserfs, Coupland (Canada)
The Motorcycle Diaries, Che Guvara (Peru)

Peony in Love and Mister Pip are probably my favorites, and Moon Tiger is certainly the most disliked.

1.) What did you like about the challenge?
I enjoyed the opportunity to read books from a wider range of countries and also to read some great reviews making me add to my amazon wishlist!
2.) What would you like to see change for next year?
I didn't see any problems with last years challenge, maybe a mini challenge to make us go and look at other people who are participatings reviews - something I tend not to do with challenges that use a Mister Linky rather than a challenge page.
3.) About the rules, or the non-existent rules...did you like that?
It was nice and simple, ideal.
4.) Are you going to join us next year?
Yes, I'm already participating in several challenges making me read books from different countries, but I'll be joining yours too.
5.) Pretty please give me any suggestions for changes, the betterment of the challenge, or just anything that you would like to see changed for next year.
Only, as I said above for questions 2
6.) Would you like the challenge to be more involved? What if we read books together sometimes? Would that interest you?
That would be good, or we could all read a book from one country or continent during one month
7.) would you be interested in helping somehow next year? How would you like to help?
I wouldn't mind hosting a mini challenge, possibly likned to short stories.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I'm off away to my Mum's for four days of Christmas-ness. Hope everyone has a great holiday and manages to sneak in a little (or a lot) of reading time x

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Sunday Salon: The Late Edition

It's half ten at night her so Sunday is nearly over. I was thinking I'd pop out for lunch today then spend a few hours reading and go check out Twilight. Instead lunch, Tapas, ended up with an afternoon in various bars, I brought a few Christmas presents - I think the alcohol will be blamed for buying my 2 yr old nephew a variety of old fashioned kids instruments - and I then went for pizza. So I managed to oly read the synopsis of America Gods which I brought for my ex-boyfriends Christmas present.

Last week was hectic, end of school, work dinner and just being worn out as its he end of a very long school term, I read 'Passing' by Nella Larson and All the Pretty Horses. But this week I'll be able to read lots more. I'm starting The Host by Stephanie Meyer and I have either N orthern Clemency or The Court in the Air to take home for the holidays, I will also definately read The Beadle and the Bard, as I know for definite Santa has got me it - my mum ordered my Christmas books whilst Amaon was logged into my account! Doh!

I get to spend 4 days relaxing and enjoying my time off then I have a week off but that will need to be spent getting marking and planning done, turning a year older (yuck!) and working in a bar New Years Eve.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The Caribbean Challenge

Another Challenge to help my long term goal of reading around the world for the Olympic Challenge. The Caribbean Challenge requires you to read 6 books from Caribbean authors or about Caribbean people, I've chosen to read books from the different countries.

This is my list, as usual it is subject to change:
George Lamming, In the Castle of My Skin (Barbados)
Michelle Cliff, Abeng (Jamacia)
Naipaul, Migel Street (Trinidad and Tobago)
Junot Diaz, The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Diaz (Dominica)
Christina Garcia, The Ag├╝ero sisters (Cuba)
Grace Nichols, Whole of a Moring Sky(Guyanu)

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday Salon: Challenge Completion

I just finished another challenge! I thought that was the last for the year then looked down my sidebar and realised I still have to read a Stephanie Myer book, I have The Host as my read once school finishes.

I managed to read The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea this afternoon, (I should have been studying but couldn't face phonetics!). The book centres around a widow and her only son. The son spies reguarly on his mother as she gets undressed for bed each evening, then one evening she brings home a man and he watches everything, almost as if he was watching a science experiment. The woman falls in love with this sailor, spelling disaster him at the hands of her precocious son.

The book features a nasty scene with a group of boys, a knife and scissors, and a kitten, one I don't think I'll get out of my head for a while.

I certainly wouldn't rave about this book, I've heard loads of positive comments about it and maybe I was expecting too much. It was ok, I'm sure bits of it will stay with me, but I much preferred the romantic Sound of the Waves.

Japanese Challenge completed!!!

What I was meant to read:

Any of Murakami which I haven't read
The Pillow Book by Shonogan
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Mishma

Out by Kirino (Started it and was put off by the violent disposal of the body)

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Mishma

Sunday Salon

I was thinking I wouldn't get much reading done in the last week, but actually managed to finish two books and read another. I have my last week of school coming up, and then from Friday I am free (after the dreaded Christmas works do!). I'm probably only going to read one book during the week, but then I will be reading lots more over the holidays, around exam marking, lesson preping and studying, oh and spending time at home for Christmas.

Just a quick note to say you should check out this story - The Parade of You, by Barth Anderson, it's a very perculiar story about a death ritual but beautifully written.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

A Challenge and a My 100th Book!!!

Another Challenge!!! My Year of Reading Dangerously 2009

Your job: Read 12 books you deem "dangerous." between January 1st and December 31st 2009. They may be banned or challenged books, new-to-you genres, books that seem to inhabit a permanent space on your stacks, or authors you're afraid of. The possibilities are endless! If it's dangerous to you, it's challenge-worthy to us!

My Pool: I'll read some of these and probably discover other books as I read throughout the year.

War and Peace
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

A Passage to India by EM Forester

Night, Dawn, and Day by Elie Wiesel

Inferno, by Dante

Beasts, by Joyce Carol Oates
Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
The End of America, by Naomi Wolf
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Maus I and II, by Art Spiegelman
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Moll Flander's - Defoe (Banned)
Fahrenheit 451 - Bradbury (Banned)
Brave New World - Huxley (Banned)
Cry, the Beloved Country (Banned)
The House of Spirits, Allende
Wild Swans

My thoughts: Hardboiled/Hardluck by Banana Yoshimoto
I polished off these two novell this weekend. Hardboiled is a strange mystical story about a Japanese woman on a walking trip, everything seems to be fine untill she comes across a shrine, an area with a funny feel to it. The day continues with many strange occurances including fires and ghosts. Very simply told, an easy way to pass an hour but not overly exciting.
Hardluck this was the better of the two, only around 50 pages in length it tells the tale of a young woman waiting for her sister - who has been labelled 'braindead' to die. During this tiem she mets a man, a man she knows ahe would love if only she had met him at another time.

Japanese Literature Challenge book 2/3

Thursday, 11 December 2008

My Thoughts: East of Eden by John Steinbeck & Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

I've been reading East of Eden as part of a read-a-long and I am surprised to say I finished the book in the week it was supposed to be finished. A few times I fell behind, but caught up easily. This was a great way to pick up a book which looked daunting in size. And a great book too.

East of Eden tells the story of Adam, he grows up in a tense household, of sibling rivalry. Desperate to love someone he immediately falls for the first women to come through the door. Cathy, certainly has no plans to be a perfect housewife. She is fiesty, and out for herself and herself alone, walking out on him when their twin sons were just a few days old. The book then continues with the story of how Adam copes, and his sons life.

My favorite characters were Lee the chinese cook, and Sam Hamilton a loving neighbour.

Lived up to my high expectation of Steinbeck, and made me look forward to reading 2 of his books in 2009 for Becky's mini challenge.

Choke was a 'different' book to say the least. Dealing with the life and childhood of a sex addict, its full of sex, and grated on my teeth everytime he called his penis, his 'dog', yuck! Talking about his childhood, he speaks of his mother's numerous kidnappings of him from various foster parents, and then her arrests days later. Randomly he talks aboout his childhood in the third person, and clearly despises the way he acted as a kid. His mother is now in a medical care centre, where he has had to devise an ingenious way of getting money from strangers to pay for her medical bill.

Should it be on the 1001 list? I doubt it, it was certainly different, but definately not outstanding.

Monday, 8 December 2008

More Challenges for 2009

I do realise that I will probably not finish some of these but I really enjoy creating a 'pool' and looking at other peoples recommendations, which then leads me to abandon my pool and read something different.

The World Citizen Challenge
I've signed up to read at least 3 books. I have a few on my TBR pile to consider:
Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart, Tim Butcher
The Trouble With Tigers: The Rise and Fall of South-East Asia

Plus I'd like to read some history, I'm quite interested in Colonialisation and Slavery, or some books about Religion and Cultures - particuarly the treatment of women in other cultures.

2009 Young Adult Book Challenge
12 YA books. I've done this before and never struggled with it. I have several on my TBR pile I'd like to read including: the rest of the Twilight series,
the Scot Westerfeld books,
Witch Child,
No Angels
And then I'll probably read some of the Carnegie nominees

Dewey's Books Reading Challenge
1. Pick one book from each of the 6 years that Dewey has archives of. You can
access her archives by clicking on the archive link in the sidebar of her website. It’s a dropdown menu. For
instance, you would read one book that she reviewed in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, and 2008 for a total of six books.

I've linked each of the books to her review
2003: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
2004: The Inner Circle by T.C Boyle
2005: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
2006: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
2007: The God of War by Marisa Silver
2008: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The World in Shorts

Short Stories from across the World - Starting from Today and on-going (lets see how well travelled I can be).

Face, Alice Munro

(Ohio) The Gold Cadillac - Mildred Taylor

A Stench of Kerosene -Amrita Pritam

Indonesia: Maybe Not Yem, Etik Juwita

Short Story Sunday

I found a great selection of short stories in the back of an exam anthology our school used to teach, I have been reading these on and off, and they have been great. They are also from all different parts of the world so they have also been enlightening.

This morning I read:
'The Gold Cadillac' by Mildred Taylor

This 1950's story starts with a father returning home with a new Cadillac, gold in colour, gold insides the full works, a car that everyone stops and stares at. But the problem is he is black, in Ohio where he lives thats fine, but when he wants to travel down to Mississippi it's like "putting a loaded gun" to his head.

"A Stench of Kerosene" by Amrita Pritam

What starts of as a happy story, a story of a seemingly independent, confident girl in 1950s India changes drastically when her husband is given a new bride, as his first bride hasn't produced any children.

The Sunday Salon: December the nightmare month for reading!

My reading has fallen lower and lower throughout November and December, I'm not sure if its just because I discovered Runescape (I am a Geek offically) or because of the huge amounts of marking I'm having to do or because the kids at school are all crazy at the mo, that I come home so tired that sitting playing in a virtual world is the most I can do.

I need to finish one challenge by the end of December, and really need to get my butt into gear to start working on my challenges that I have already signed up for to finish mid 2009, as I have signed up for a huge amount in 2009. I'm not hugely disappointed if I don't complete challenges, it's about trying to make myself dive into mount tbr, and finding new discoveries from other peoples reviews. I will also be joining Eva's World Citizen challenge, as I feel I know so little about the world, even about England. I lack knowledge of politics, history, culture and religion - the little I do know is stuff I had to research as it related to a novel I studied.

As for this weeks reading, I'm planning on finishing Choke by Chuck Palahniuk and the last few chapters of East of Eden. I will be swamped with exam marking for most of the time, I'm trying to get it all finished so me Xmas holidays can be spent studying and planning for teaching Lord of the Flies - I'm trying to make the lessons very hands on, and introduce lots of theories, real life links and politics as they are high ability kids. I had them studying politics in relation to the film V for Vendetta this term, and seem to have brought about some radical ideas, and quite a lot of ideas and thoughts about why some terrorists strike - not sure how well it will go down with the parents!