Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End Of The Year Post

Well it is the last night of 2008 and while I didn't make my 100 Book Challenge, I did read plenty of good books this year. In 2008 I read 93 books - I consider that pretty good for spending 6 months of the year in school and working full time. School always brings my reading down; I never get to read as much as I want to. Here is a bit of a breakdown of what I read:

Total: 94

Fiction: 81

Non Fiction: 13

Canadian: 6

British: 28

Indian: 3

American: 49

South African : 2

Japanese: 1

Turkish: 1

Australian: 1

Chilean: 1

German: 1

Libyan: 1

I am surprised at how many American authors I have read this year. I had fooled myself into thinking I had read many international books this year. I really should be reading more Canadian authors.
All in all it was a great year of reading and I hope to surpass my goal of 100 Books in 2009.

Happy Reading everyone and have a great new year!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

This book was very interesting and I really really enoyed it. I have been lucky to get a great run of books lately. This book chronicles the life of Oscar and his family from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to where Oscar lives in New Jersy. It is a dark novel, with humor and sadness. Oscar is overweight, has never had a girlfriend and has never really fit in. Life is hard for him and the narrator says that is because a fuku (a curse) has been put on his family years ago and has brought bad luck to all his decendents. We learn about the horrors of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic and how the people suffered. I really liked the footnotes in the novel that gave me a background on the Dominican and other characters that I didn't know about. I felt that this helped the book flow better and allowed me to really understand the book.

This is a great book to just sit down and read, with a cup of tea and no interruptions!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Bend İn The Road - Nıcholas Sparks

I always run to Nicholas Sparks books when I need a good read. This one was no exception. Set in North Carolina the novel is about Miles Ryan, the local deputy sheriff, who lost his wife in a hit and run 2 years before. He is raising his son alone and still trying to find the person that kiled his wife. Then he meets Sarah, his sons teacher and he falls in love. Of course with all Nicholas Sparks novels, its never that easy and the story is full of sadness and tragedy but is still uplifting. It is one of my favorite of his books and hope that someone makes it into a film!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

One of my favorite things to do since I was a little girl, is to find a great book and read it on Christmas Eve. I got a chance to do it this year and loved every minute of reading The White Tiger. This book is set in India (pretty much now-a-days) and is narrated by Balram, a driver turned entrepeneur, in Bangalore. This is a tale about Balram's life and how he got to be the successful man he is today by killing his employer. This is not a story about a cold-blooded killer but a story of the things people do to make their lives better. Balram comes from nothing and works hard to create a new life for himself. This book made me angry, angry that people still are treated as slaves and forced to live in the basements of the apartment blocks that their masters liv; that they are paid almost nothing and told to be grateful. This book skillfully makes you feel for Balram, even after he has killed someone. I know I was reading page by page hoping he got away. This novel is a dark-comedy and I found myself laughing sometimes but then feeling bad about laughing seconds later.

This is an excellent read.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Artemıs Fowl, Book 1 - Eoin Colfer

Really, really enjoyed this book at the beginning. Thought it may be as good as Harry Potter. I was wrong. Not saying it isn't a good book, it's just that it gets a little boring by the end. This was the first book in a series about a 12 year old genius criminal named Artemis Fowl. His big plan is to steal gold from the fairies so that his families fortune can be restored to what it once was. Artemis goes to great lengths to find a fairy book (that will give him all the secrets and the knowledge of the fairies) and decipher it. After deciphering the language, Artemis then figures out how to capture a fairy and tries to ransom her for fairy gold. I really liked how there was a whole other magical world below that people dıd not know about. I liked Holly and I hope she is in the rest of the novels. I will read the next one in the series...I just won,t set my expectations Harry Potter-high!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Slam! - Nıck Hornby

I am a lover of all things Nick Hornby and Slam! was a good as all his others. It is a funny and sometimes sad tale of a 15 year old boy who loves skateboarding, talking to his Tony Hawk posters but who also gets his girlfriend pregnant. I found this book so interesting because I have never read a book about teenage pregnancy come from the boy's perspective before. The book made me scared to have children of my own!! I liked this story because it was about 2 regular kids who just make one mistake that changes their lives forever. I think it is a must-read if you like ıck Hornby, especially if you love all of the cultural references he uses (in this book the cultural references are a little young).

This wıll be a great movie someday!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Death du Jour - Kathy Reichs

Another book in the "Bones" is out of the way. I loved it! I travelled to Istanbul this weekend and read it on my way home. Fast-paced and excellent to keep my mind off how slow we were going. This one is set in Montreal and North Carolina and has Dr. Brennen finding bodies everywhere! A group of people are found dead in a house that was set on fire in Quebec, Dr. Brennen has to figure out if the people were murdered before the fire and why. The theme is religious cults and is really interesting to learn how people wind up in them and how it effects families. I found some of the descriptions gruesome and a bit hard to read. But it was a great book. I love that in this second novel, we are getting to know her character a bit more. I am so happy that there are many more books in the series to come.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

I always forget that Kurt Vonnegut's books are insane. I am always surprised, get half-way through and want to stop, but push my way through and am so happy that I finished. Cat's Cradle is such an interesting book, about a man (who now claims his name is Jonah)who is writing a book called The Day The World Ended, about what people were doing the day that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He ends up writing to the children of the man who created the atom bomb and then traveling to an island country called San Lorenzo to meet them. When Jonah reaches San Lorenzo, he learns about the religion of Bokononism, which ties the whole book together. It is a really interesting book that makes you think.

This is another book to cross off on my "1001 Book Challenge"!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things I have done

I liked the idea of this list of things. I know it has nothing to do with books but I thought it was interesting! I scooped it off of someone else's website. The ones in bold are ones I have done :

1. Started my own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band. (For like one band practice when I was 16)
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity. (Does giving to the homeless count? )
7. Been to Disneyworld/land (really want to go back now that I am older)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sung a solo.
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched lightening at sea.
14. Taught myself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. (a few days ago)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown my own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train. (slept on many overnight buses, but a train as well)
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping. (Oh Bar Harbour!)
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught myself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
41. Sung karaoke. (ahhh Korea!)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person. (with my mom once and with James another time)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. (snorkeling in Phuket, Thailand)
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. (go all the time when I am at home)
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class. (kickboxing)
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching. (in Cape Breton twice)
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (a stuffed lamb)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone. (my finger in basketball!)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (Thailand...scary)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. (James and I went when we got married)
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had my picture in the newspaper. (In elementary school and in high school)
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous (Glen Close when I was working in Maine)
92. Joined a book club (Bookleaves in Seoul..i miss it!!)
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone. ( in Ottawa, Cape Breton and in Seoul)
99. Been stung by a bee (many times and I am still terrified of them)
100. Rode an elephanT. (in Thailand and in Seoul)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Books I Read On Vacation

I am not going to review all the books I read on vacation last week. I finished off 7 books last week and some of them were excellent, while others fell far from being good. "Bliss" , a Turkish novel was amazing and the first book in a while that really got to me. I was thinking about it all the time during vacation. It is highly recommended. I read some chick-lit novels and the first book in the "Bones" series. It was excellent. I found myself not wanting to go sightseeing or go to bed because I just wanted to know who the murderer was. Very different then the tv show, and I loved that it was set in Montreal. The Canadian connection drew me to it. I read "Disgrace" which completely made me feel terrible. It was sad and depressing and made me hate the world I live in. I guess thats what books are supposed to do, bring you out of your comfort zone...just not on holiday!!

I also finished off the last of Dan Brown's books, "Digital Fortress". When I began it I was worried it was going to be as bad as "Deception Point" (which I absolutly hated) but it was well written, fast-paced and easy to read. My husband read it at the same time and we enjoyed talking about it. The last book of the week was called "The End of Mr Y" which was a very interesting novel that I bought when I was in England. The cover is red and intriging, while the edges of the pages are all blackened. Very interesting looking book and very interesting story. It was a good read but a little too much science for my liking.

I only have 16 books to read to reach my 100 goal.....but I only have 16 days...I will try but I don't know if I can do it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nights In Rodanthe - Nicholas Sparks

I have never read a Nicholas Sparks book that didn't make me either tear up or out-right sob. Since I finished reading this at work today, I am glad that this one only made me tear up....maybe I held it in because I was at work and didn't want to ruin my make-up. This story is about Adrienne and Paul, who meet at an inn that Adrienne is watching for a friend during a winter storm in North Carolina. They are both divorced, in their 40's-50's and are not expecting to find love. But they do. And as in Nicholas Sparks tradition that love is wonderful and sad and heartbreaking and beautiful. How this guy does it, I don't know but I think he is wonderful. I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, fast but satisfying. Great tear-jerker.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Black Dalhia - James Ellroy

This book was for my 1% Challenge, where I read 10 books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. I never would have picked this book up on my own but I am glad I did. It is a crime noir novel set in the 40's in Hollywood. It follows 2 boxers turn policemen who are deeply involved in solving the murder of Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dalhia. I won't tell you to much because there is so much to the story and many twists and turns. I found myself excited to read it and trying to figure out who the murderer was, not even sure if the case ever got solved. The book is sexually and violently graphic and due to the time period it seems racist and sexist. I think that the language is needed to make it authentic and even though the language sometimes made me go "hmmmmmm", it never felt too much. I had never read a novel in this genre before but I am hoping to read more crime noir novels. I can understand why this was a must read book. I will watch the movie this weekend (even though I heard it was horrible) just to see how it fairs. All in all a great reading experience!

Monday, December 1, 2008

When You Are Engulfed In Flames - David Sedaris (Audiobook)

I have to say that I do not think I will ever read another David Sedaris book. Not when I have discovered the lovely world of audiobooks and how unbelievebly funny it is to hear David Sedaris read his own works. I laughed outloud so many times that the people around me thought I was crazy. The stories are funny and sad and full of memories and I liked this as much as his other works, maybe even more because I got to listen to it in his own voice. The story "Town and Country" I had to listen to a couple times because it was soo good. I was trying to explain it to my husband but made him listen to it instead. He laughed and laughed. I recommend this to everyone. It can be a bit crude but overall its amazing!! Something great to pick up (or listen to) if you are feeling down.