Saturday, February 28, 2009

Finished 1% Well-Read Challenge!!

So I finished my 1% Well-Read Challenge a day early!! I was a little worried I wasn't going to get it done. Two weeks ago I had three more to read and was pretty busy. I started a new workout program at the gym that has been leaving me exhausted and unable to get any reading done before I go to bed. But I plugged away and got it done. Last year I only got to 94 books done on the 100 Book Reading Challenge and I was pretty disappointed with myself because I knew that if I pushed myself and gave up a few hours of television I could have finished that challenge. Well this year I have decided to try as hard as I can to finish all my challenges (and not just book related challenges either!!).

The books I read for the 1% Well-Read Challenge are:

The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy
The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Arcadia - Jim Crace
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
Santa Evita - Tomas Eloy Martinez
Jazz - Toni Morrison
Disgrace - J.M. Cotezee
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

I absolutely loved a few of these books (and these are books that I would NEVER have normally picked up for myself) and some just brought of strong emotions. I really enjoyed The Black Dahlia and Arcadia. I took my time readings these and was happy for that. Half of a Yellow Sun was on my reading radar anyway and I am so happy I gave God of Small Things another chance because it turned out to be a wonderful book!

I found Jazz a bit hard to read - confusing until I got to the end. I have to say I enjoyed Toni Morrison's other books a lot more. I read Disgrace on vacation (and it is NOT a vacation book!!!) and found it just made me really angry. I hated the characters decisions and there ideas of right and wrong. But I can't say it was a bad book because it did what some books are supposed to do - it brought up strong and difficult emotions.

All and all I am glad I participated in this challenge. I will definitely be participating in the 1% Well-Read Challenge of 2009/2010!!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Santa Evita - Tomas Eloy Martinez

This was the last book of the "1% Well Read Challenge" and I pretty much only picked it because they had it at the library. I am not sure that this is a book that I would have picked up for myself to read, and I guess that is the beauty of these challenges - they get us reading things we normally wouldn't. The book is about Evita Peron - basically about the legend that surrounds her to this day. Most of the book takes place after she died and revolves around what happened to her body and to the people who were supposed to protect it. This book is strange - I had a hard time deciding if it was fiction or sort of nonfiction. Some of it is written in first person by the author, telling how he learned the story from other individuals close to Evita (or her dead body). There is supposedly a curse surrounding Evita and some horror befalls on most of those people involved with her. That is interesting - the obsession that people who loved her had with her; but also the obsession that people who hated her had with her.

The other reviews I read of this book said that this novel was taught in many Latin American literature courses and is tailored to a certain type of reader. The narrative is not easy to follow and if you are looking for an easy straight forward read, this is probably not the best book for you. It made me interested in Evita and I looked her up to see if any of the things that Eloy Martinez wrote were true. I never saw the film "Evita" so I really didn't know much about her life or her death.

I don't know if I recommend it but I don't know if I wouldn't. If I was an Argentinian I would probably be really interested in this book because it involves the history of my country, even if it wasn't the literature I was used to reading. Maybe I need a bit more time for the book to settle in mind. One thing is for sure - there are certain parts of this novel that I will never forget!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Half A Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was a book that a friend had recommended to me as well as it was on my 1% Well Read Challenge list. They had it at the university library where my husband works so I picked it up and gave it a read. The book was a bit confusing at first because I didn't really know what it was about and it took me a few chapters to even realize what country the book took place in. The novel is about a group of people in Nigeria\Biafra during the late 1960's when the civil was was taking place. The book starts with Ugwu, a young boy who is sent from his village to work for Master (Odenigbo), who is an academic who has socialist leanings. From this relationshıp we learn about Olanna and Kainene, wealthy Igbo twin sisters who are very different. Olanna lives with Odenigbo, while Kainene has a relationship with Richard, a white British man in Nigeria to write a novel. All these people's lives come together, especially after the Biafran war begins.

What I liked about the book was that each chapter was narrated by a different character. This way we got a different perspective on what was going on. There were a few bloody and horrifying parts of this book. I had to put it down a few times and really think. I am a bit ashamed to admit that I never really heard about this war before I opened "Half A Yellow Sun". It made me realize that I need to start reading more non-fictıon and really educate myself on other parts of the world. It also astounds me that the author was only 27 years old when she wrote this novel - my age right now. I could only dream of writing such a powerful novel!

I also learned that the title of the book comes from the Biafran flag which has half a yellow sun on it. I would recommend this novel to everyone.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Need To Stop Buying Books!

My husbnd came home the other night to inform me that he is in a squash tournament next week. Because of this he said he needed to purchase a state-of-the-art squash racket from Amazon because it was much cheaper than buying one in Turkey. I was unsure that he needed a new racket but he convinced me by saying that I could pick out a few books for myself (20£ worth). Well...I was on that computer picking out books for hours, trying to get the best combination of books for the money I had to spend. I usually don't buy books here in Turkey because there are very few bookstores, the university my husband works at has a pretty good library and I also have no idea how I will get them all home when I leave. But the idea of buying some new releases got me excited!

Finally I picked out 5 books:
The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff
When Will There be Good News? - Kate Atkinson
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway
And some random British chick-lit book that caught my eye.

Not bad for 20£! I love buying books in England because they are so much cheaper than in Canada. I usually don't buy new books when I am living in Canada because I just can't afford them (especially last year when I was in university). But I love bookstores so much. I like waking up in the morning and knowing today I get to go to the bookstore and look around for hours, and maybe find something I have been looking for or something I never knew existed!

But I told myself when I was visiting Singapore a few weeks ago that I would stop buying books and start reading the ones I have and the ones I can get from the library. Lets see if I can get through the next few months without purchasing fingers may be crossed!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams

I don't know what to say about this book. I can't claim that I know what it was really about or that I even enjoyed it. I am just glad that I saw the movie years before and remembered a few things so I wasn't completly lost. I will give a very quich description of the novel for those that know nothing about it. Prefect Ford is an alien who has been travelling around writing for "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" which is a book for people who want to see the Galaxy for under 30 (some weird currancy) a day. He gets stuck on Earth for 15 years, where he makes friends with Arthur whom he takes with him when he hitches a ride off of Earth seconds before it is destroyed. There is lots more to it but I don't want to give it away.

I have a hard time reading sciece fiction....I can never remember or grasp all the characters and science fictiony words. People have always told me to read this book, plus it was one of the books for my 1% Well Read Challenge - so I gave it a try. I am not sure if I will read the rest in the series...but give me some time and I may start wondering where those Hitchhikers are off to now!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eclipse - Stephanie Meyer

A friend at work let me borrow this a few weeks ago - but I have been putting it off because I don't like reading the same type of books one after the other...I like the anticipation of being able to read them. But I wanted to give this book back to her so I decided to give it a read. I liked "Eclipse" quite a bit more then the other novels in the series. This is part three and is about Bella Swan's upcoming high scholl graduation. This is important because after graduation Bella will become a vampire, giving up her old life. Of course there are bad guys after her - actually a string of newly made vampires who are very strong and very dangerous - and Edward (and the rest of the Vamps) and Jacob (and his warewolf friends) must work together to save Bella. I am biased because I like Jacob way more then I like Edward - but was happ when he finally told Bella that he was in love with her.

I enjoyed this book because we got to see more about these characters. But the series makes me very angry as well. I don't like how Bella is always waiting for and listening to a man. She seems like a strong character but she always bends to whatever Edward tells her to do. I do admit that by the end of the book this changed - and I hope that in the fourth book we see Bella's character becoming more independent.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Another book to check off my To Be Read pile! I picked this one up on sale at a bookstore in Singapore, once again not really knowing what it was about. I have so many books on my TBR pile that most times I forget what they are about and why I wanted to read them. But this was another winner. I feel like I am on a roll with books lately!

This is a Swedish murder-mystery that has been translated to English. There are 2ain characters in the book, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist is a journalist who had recently been charged and convicted with libel. After taking a leave of absence as editor of his magazine, Blomkvist is approached by an aging tycoon who wants him to write his family well as solve the mystery of his niece Harriet's murder that happened over 30 years ago. Salande is a young woman who has a lot of mental, emotional and social problems. But she is also a brillant researcher who starts working with Blomkvist to solve the mystery.

There is so much to this book and I do not want to give away any of the suspense or excitment of the novel. I really enjoyed this book and it was a definite page turner!!! My only problem was that I felt I was left without finding out much about the past of Salander's character. I wanted to know more about why she was the way she was. But on bright note this is the first of a trilogy - so perhaps the next book will tell me more!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

I have been waiting to get my hands on this series for a while, ever since I watched "True Blood" - the HBO show that is based on the books. I love vampire/witch books so I was very excited to start reading it. I found the first three books at a wonderful bookstore in Singapore called Kinokuniya (I can't believe I got out of their without reaching my credit card limit!!). This book occupied me during my 8 hour stop-over in the Qatar airport. The novel is different then the HBO series but I liked them both in different ways. The novel is about Sookie Stackhouse, a young waitress from a small town in Louisiana who happens to have the ability (or disability) as she calls it to read peoples minds. Sookie gets involved with a vampire named Bill and because of this all kinds of strange and dangerous things start happening. I liked how the vamires in this book are living with humans after the Vampire Rights Act is put into place. The fact that they are out in the open makes the story a lot more interesting. This is a great series to read for the Paranormal 666 Challange. I have to pace myself and not read the next one too quickly!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell - Tucker Max

I feel guilty that I read and enjoyed this book. It is a book of stories that are crude, dısgusting, some are morally wrong and pretty hateful to women. But my God did I laugh. I laughed so much on the bus to the Singapore Zoo that I started to get embarrassed and I had to put the book away. I think that because the stories are so over the top I could find them funny without becoming morally outraged. Tucker Max is pretty much a bad guy who has no respect for women....or anyone else who is not part of his frat-boy group. This is a short review because I am not to sure what else to write. His writing is pretty awful and I finished the book thanking God that I am married and never have to date again. I think that you can read this if you don't get too upset at politically incorrect stories. But this book is for sure not for everyone.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones

When I arrived in Singapore, my friend was reading this book. It had been on my "To Be Read" list for sometime now - so I was interested in her finishing it so I could get started. Instead, we traded books and I got to read Mister Pip. This is a small book but so interesting to read. This book was set on a tropical island near Australia in the 1990's that is dealing with a war. The book is narrated by Matilda, a young woman who lives with her mother on the island. The novel is about Matilda, the other children on the island and their teacher Mr. Watts. Mr. Watts is the only white man on the island and becomes their teacher by default. The one thing he does teach them is about the novel "Great Expectations" which he reads to them everyday. The students become enthralled with Pip and the other characters in "Great Expectations" and this novel changes all of their lives - for better and for worse.

This book made me sad. It also made me want to read "Great Expectations" again to ee if I could get the same feeling as they did while reading it. I envy the feeling they get while reading the book - that is the best feeling you can ever get when reading and my most sought after.