Archive for the ‘books’ Category


April 18, 2012

Books are always one of the last things to be unpacked and when they are, very often they are just stacked around the apartment until we get them in order. I like to put my books on the shelves in alphabetical order by author, because I tend to get attached to particular authors and want to see all the books I have by them. Also, I have a bad habit of forgetting that I have a book and wind up buying another copy. At least, if I have a spot for each author, I can see that I’ve duplicated and either pass it on to a family member or trade it in on

Yesterday, we finally faced the books piled up in Helen’s room. Since there are several hundred of them, this was a monumental task. Especially since I get wound up in the books and it takes much longer than it should. However, yesterday I stayed focused until I found my copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. My grandmother gave it to me when I was a child.

It amazes me the feelings I get just from seeing her handwriting.

Yesterday, there was a warm sun and a cooling breeze and suddenly, Wolf Hill Park was the perfect place to be, especially with these two.

Wide open spaces to run and jump and chase butterfly shadows? There is nothing better in life.

Monday, Helen & I went to see The Hunger Games in an actual movie theater, in the middle of the afternoon. How decadent was that?? I think it’s the first time we’ve been to the movies in two + years, what with the store and all. That is just so …. sad. I liked the book very much and I thought they did a very good job with the movie. There was just one glaring difference that I objected to – an announcement made during the game. Also, it was a slight shock to the senses to hear how loud they had the sound system, which makes me sound old and cranky. Awesome:)


The Passage by Justin Cronin

April 14, 2012

The Passage by Justin Cronin is one of my Christmas books. I read about it last year and my brother loved it, so I was looking forward to  losing myself in a good book. It’s very well written and I am getting lost, but man, this book is scaring the crap out of me. It’s purely fictional, containing more than a few vampires, and for some unknown reason, I dread going to sleep at night. My imagination goes into overdrive and I’m having the weirdest dreams. The other night I woke up at 3:30 AM, jolted out of a sound sleep, sure that someone was pounding on our front door. The fact that the dogs weren’t barking was the only clue it happened in my dream. (Unless the vampires got them first???)

Yeah, my nightlight’s staying on for a while!


June 1, 2010

Seriously, this is like crack for me!

I was so excited when I went home for lunch and saw all these books waiting for me! is my new drug. You list the books you have that you are finished reading and don’t want to read again and if someone wants your books, you mail them out. For every book that arrives, you get one point which can then be used to pick up someone else’s books. If you are mailing out books, you pay the postage and anyone who’s mailing you books pays the postage on their end. It’s a great system.

You can do the same thing with movies their sister site –, and to make it even better, you can transfer the points you get from movies to use for books, or vice versa. And if you have a sister who’s moving out of her apartment and has tons of movies she no longer wants and doesn’t want to deal with them and gives them to you with no strings attached, you are in heaven with all the books arriving at your door. Amanda, thank you and I will be thinking of you as I read all these treasures!

Now, I just need to find a way to earn money while reading books because I have to tell you, working 8-5 is cramping my style here!

THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield

March 13, 2010

This is by far one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. The story draws you in and doesn’t let go. The characters stay with you long after you’ve put the book down, and, if you’re anything like me, you are furious with yourself when you finish because you want it to go on and on.

This is Diane Setterfield’s first and only novel to date. There is talk of a new novel coming next month – I hope so because I love her style. I would recommend The Thirteenth Tale to everyone. Seriously, don’t miss this one!

Gratuitous Cat Shot

PS, I LOVE YOU by Cecelia Ahern

March 6, 2010

I just finished reading PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern and I’m torn. I liked the story and, while I didn’t always like the characters, they were well thought out and very realistic. But the writing was … the only description that comes to mind is immature. The book would have benefited from some judicious editing because, among other things, there were a lot of repetitions. Ahern described the girls’ favorite eatery several times, using almost identical language each time. Really, I don’t need it more than once. Sloppy writing frustrates me to no end.

I thought about trying another of Cecelia Ahern’s novels, to see if the writing had matured at all. As with many books, this volume included several chapters from one of her upcoming books. Again, the premise was interesting, but it took her five chapters to get to the point and I found myself mumbling “edit, edit, edit!” to myself.

I wonder, am I being too bitchy? Am I just in a foul mood and taking it out on the book I’m reading at the time? Or, more realistically, am I just too tired to appreciate it? And then I started reading this book

The Thirteenth Tale

and I can physically feel the words wrapping themselves around me as I fall in love with good writing all over again!



March 5, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire is not an easy book to read. There were parts that made me cringe. Not as much as the first book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but enough to make me realize that there are some seriously sick people out there. There is cursing, there is violence, there is brutality. Despite that, I really liked the book … a lot. Amongst all this inhumanity, there are good people. They’re not perfect but they stand up for those in need, even if indirectly. I like that Lisbeth Salander has a clear sense of right & wrong.  She doesn’t believe in grey areas and she’s not about to back down on her beliefs just because society tells her hers is a simplistic way of looking at life.

I got confused with the names a few times. What I thought were surnames turned out to be places and it would throw me for a second. However, my biggest problem with the book was the ending. SPOILER ALERT – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON READING THE BOOK, SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH ….

Salander makes a great protagonist – she’s intelligent and rebellious, getting away with things I only wish I had the guts to attempt. But she’s not superwoman. I was really upset when she was shot and buried but I was okay with that ending. To have her come back, dig her way out of the grave with only one arm and a bullet in the brain was a little unbelievable.


Stieg Larsson died in 2004 just after handing in the manuscripts for his three novels. I’m interested to read the third one, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and see how it all ends.


GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen

January 17, 2010

Last year, as I read about books on blogs, if I thought they sounded intriguing, I jotted down the title in my iPhone. At Christmas, when people asked what I wanted, I emailed them my book list. Many of the titles I’d completely forgotten but I knew something about them had to have sparked my interest when I noted them. By the end of the day, I had a lovely pile of books just waiting for me to (re)discover. Garden Spells caught my eye immediately with its apple green cover

The blurb on the back of Garden Spells states “In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small house in the smallest of towns, is an apple tree rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.”

I enjoyed this book a lot because the story line caught my interest and I got wrapped up in the characters. I always enjoy books more when I like at least one of the players and, in spite of their faults, the women of the Waverly family drew me in. Claire, the older sister, runs a catering service who is known for using flowers and plants in her dishes. She is the home-body, desperate to feel like she belongs somewhere – anywhere. Sydney is the younger sister, the one who couldn’t wait to get out and be on her own, living on the edge. When she returns to the small Southern town of her youth, she brings the next generation of Waverlys with her – her daughter Bay. And then there’s Evanelle,  Sydney and Claire’s elderly cousin, who also lives in the town.

Each of the Waverly women has a “power” – something that influences the way others think/feel/act. Claire uses the plants & flowers from her garden to enhance the dishes she creates for her catering service. Sydney, once she realizes her own profession, helps others feel better about their appearance and themselves. Bay knows where things, and people, belong. And Evanelle periodically feels the urge to give her family and neighbors things (batteries, a blouse) that might not make sense when received, but will be needed later on. They are an interesting bunch!

I think Sarah Addison Allen will grow as a writer. There are parts of the book where I wanted a little more depth in the story, in the character backgrounds, just overall. I am in the middle of her second book now and I plan to continue reading her work. It’s just that there were parts where the book felt a bit thin.


January 13, 2010

Last January, I signed up for a lot of book challenges with the best of intentions. Since I’ve always got a book in close proximity, if not open in front of me, it seemed like a perfect fit. And for the first few months, I was on top of everything – rating the books, linking back to all the blogs, and writing my reviews. Then … life got in the way, as it is wont to do and I got so backlogged that it was  so much easier to play ostrich and let everything slide to the point of no return.

This is not to say I stopped reading (bite your tongue!) No, I kept reading but didn’t keep track of anything and now I can’t remember what I read and when. I want to keep better track this year, so I’m going to be a little bit easier on myself. If I expect nothing, think of how happy I’ll be when I actually do post about books. I’m going to list the books I’ve read and whether I like them or not. I’m not going to worry about linking to other blogs or figuring out if the book I’ve read fits with challenges or not. Just keeping it simple this year. I’ll continue to read book blogs, because I love getting ideas of what to read next from them.

So, here we go … the first book I finished this year was The Indigo King which is the third book in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. The basis of this series is that there are not only atlases of known lands in this world, but  also maps of imaginary lands, kept all together in the Imaginarium Geographica. It takes a certain type of person to be the caretaker of the Imaginarium Geographica because one of the duties of the caretaker is to travel back and forth to these imaginary lands, caring for the people that live there and making sure the two worlds (real & imaginary) don’t overlap.

Although these books are geared towards young adults, I’m enjoying them quite a bit. How can you not like a book whose title is Here There Be Dragons – first in the series. For me, part of the allure is the ability to cross into imaginary lands. There are many times I’d like to leave my hum-drum, responsible life for something a little more magical.

BOOKS, BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS! How many have you read?

August 5, 2009

The Big Read – top 100 books

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. Well let’s see.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read. I clock myself at 55 cause I’m totally counting Dracula and I’ve got the nightmares to prove it!
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own Blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them 😉

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen although I may cave & read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Bible – 5 years of Catholic School – what can I say.
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – actually disappointed in this – much preferred Bleak House
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare – English Lit Major!
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier – still get nightmares about Mrs. deWinter!
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – disliked this book intensely
The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – really looking forward to the movie – so hope they don’t ruin it!
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald – hated it!
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
War and Peace – Leo TolstoyI started reading this 3 or 4 times – never made it past chapter 1.
The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams – seriously one of the most hysterical books in the universe!
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh – made better by thoughts of Anthony Andrews & Jeremy Irons
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck – here’s a question – why does it take pages, PAGES, to get a turtle across the road?
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis – can I underline this one more than once?
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis – Love this although it shouldn’t count since it’s part of the Chronicles.
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne – there are no words to describe my love for all things Pooh!
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – again, no words
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck – I think HS English teachers should have their heads examined making kids read Steinbeck.
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker – I tried but the nightmares got to me! Does the graphic novel count? Cause if so, then yes, I’ve read this.
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnet
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte’s Web – EB White – what is this doing at #87? Should be much higher!
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton – no but I have read several other of her collections.
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery – in French, no less – which, not surprisingly, does not make it any better!
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare – shouldn’t this be part of the complete works, unless complete doesn’t mean what I think it means.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo


January 4, 2009
A colleague at work gave me a gift certificate to Amazon for Christmas. It was very sweet of him and I thanked him several times but, not being a reader himself, he will never know how much pleasure I will get from his gift. I am very bad at waiting for things so I immediately (at lunch time) went on the site and ordered a stack of books. Thinking of all the challenges I rashly signed up for the week before, I looked for specific books that would fit at least one of the said challenges, if not more.

Look at that lovely pile of books! I find that the problem with arranging my reading schedule ahead of time is that I’m chomping at the bit to start them all. If the book I’m reading at the moment is not spellbinding, I’m thinking ahead and wondering what I should read next and will it live up to the standard set by the first book I read for this year, which set the standard pretty high. We shall see! And what a lovely way to find out:)

I usually don’t use Amazon unless I have something specific in mind or if I’m given a gift certificate. I like to browse through bricks & mortar stores, looking for things that catch my eye, picking up books and looking through pages, smelling the good book smell, and feeling the heft in my hands. Michelle over at A Reader’s Respite is having an interesting discussion on the loss of independent bookstores and questioning whether superstores will follow in their wake because of online stores. The comments alone are fascinating. Check it out!