Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/24/17

I had to include this picture
 because Wishbone was my first
 introduction to the story of
Oliver Twist.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
It has been years since I have read a Dickens novel. Years in this case is at least 15, very possibly 20. For almost as many years I have had intentions of reading more Dickens novels. This year might have been another of those years of intending to, but never actually reading one, until the advent of the reading buddy. I have several book friends but now, one of my book friends has officially become my reading buddy, meaning we are attempting to conquer some of those books that we intend to read but have a tough time actually getting around to. We don't actually read the book together but we stay on a set schedule, agreeing how many chapters we will read in a week. This was the first book we have tried and it was a great success. We read 100 pages per week so it didn't really interfere with our other reading and we were able to finish Oliver Twist in four weeks. Go us!!! I highly recommend this system, accountability is a great thing.

It was very interesting to read this book after having recently reread Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I have decided that Charles Dickens was the Lemony Snicket of his time. There is so much sarcasm and dark humor in this book and so many jokes that I think many people would totally miss. There are colorful, unique, and often unbelievable characters (also similar to Snicket). I (unsurprisingly) loved this book. Everyone (myself included) should read more Dickens!

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid. (Yes, I have a love of dark children's books.) The last few months I have been trying to track down a copy of this book. I remembered nothing about it other than it had a giraffe (obviously). I was finally successful in obtaining a copy and I read it in about 30 minutes. It's only about 70 pages and most of those pages have pictures. It is a very sweet and whimsical story about a giraffe, a pelican, a monkey who open a window washing business, befriend a boy named Billy, and, of course, save the day in the end. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/17/17

Some Writer! The Story of E.B.White by Melissa Sweet
This biography was published just last year and is geared towards young readers. I knew next to nothing about White. In fact, until this past year I had never even read Charlotte's Web. I really enjoyed learning more about this author without having to commit to a big wordy biography. This book is very visually engaging. It resembles a scrapbook with lots of pictures, snippets of other writing he had published over the years, letters, and lots of random ephemera. Definitely worth perusing!

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I've mentioned before my love of dystopian novels. I appreciate how they create questions that I have never contemplated. Scythe did not disappoint. This novel is set in a future where we have conquered death. No one dies of old age or disease or accident. The body can quickly heal itself from any affliction (even throwing yourself out of a tall building and "splatting"). Because of this, overpopulation has become a massive problem. Scythes are  those tasked with killing people and keeping the population under control. This book follows Citra and Rowan, two teenagers who have been apprenticed to a Scythe. This is a young adult novel (which I am not a fan of) so there is a little bit of romance and teen angst but it doesn't get in the way of the story. All in all a very entertaining read. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

BBC Book List

I thought I would do something a little different and fun today:

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

Put an x by the ones you've read and tally them up.

X 1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
X 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
X 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
X 4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
X 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
X 6 The Bible -
X 7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
X 8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
X 9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
X 10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
X 11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
    12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
X 15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
X 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
X 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
    21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
X 22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
    24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
X 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
X 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
X 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
X 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
X 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
X 33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
X 34 Emma - Jane Austen
    35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
X 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
    37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
    39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
X 40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
X 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
    42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
X 45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
X 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
X 48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
    49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
    51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    52 Dune - Frank Herbert
    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
X 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
X 56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
X 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
X 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
X 62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
X 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
    68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
    69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
    70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
X 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
X 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
    75 Ulysses - James Joyce
    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
X 77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78 Germinal - Emile Zola
    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    80 Possession - AS Byatt
X 81 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
X 87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
    89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
X 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
X 92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
X 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
X 95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
X 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
    100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

In case you are wondering, that is a total of 44 books on the list that I have read. (Side note: I am counting Oliver Twist even though I still have 100 pages to go. I'll finish it this week so it counts!) There are also at least two books on the list that I started and didn't finish and there are some that I have no intention of ever reading. There are some that I didn't like but powered through anyway. There are several that I plan to read and reread soon. How many have you read? Which of the books I have not read would you recommend? 

(Disclaimer: This is not a list of my making. I am not promoting these 100 books above all others. In fact, some of them I would not recommend at all.)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/10/17

I can't believe it is Friday already! Where has the week gone???

Today I am only going to talk about two books. Truthfully, I read about 10 more but they were all picture books that I read with my nieces and none of them were really worth talking about so I'm just going to skip over that, with one exception:

The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem
This book contains four short stories all about the colony of mice that live in Brambly Hedge. This book was ridiculously adorable. Think Beatrix Potter but with the addition of illustrations of the insides of the trees where the mice live, like dollhouses in trees, complete with circular staircases and well stocked pantries. The girls begged for more stories when we finished. I believe there is an even bigger collection of stories that I will have to hunt down. 

The only book I finished on my own this week was Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan. This was the gift I received from the Christmas book exchange my book club did. I had said that I was looking for some new fantasy to delve into and my santa (who also happens to be one of my best friends) delivered! I had a bit of a funny experience with this book. I sat down last Sunday afternoon to read (I was about 150 pages in) and as I read, it dawned on me that I had no idea what was happening or who half of the characters were. As I thought through the previous week I realized that this was the book I had been picking up when I was distracted or not fully engaged in reading or when I only had a few minutes. I had read 150 pages without really taking in any of the story. I had a choice. I could persevere and hope I figured it out or I could go back and slow down and truly absorb the story. That's what I chose to do. I started rereading, I looked up the words I didn't know (thanks to the handy glossary in the back), I made sure I understood the world, the clans, and the different races. It was a much slower process the second time. But it was so worth it! This is the beginning of a six book series and Sullivan did a great job establishing the world and the relationship between the different people and people groups. (Also, shout out to Michael Sullivan who wrote all six books before he published the first one, take note Patrick Rothfuss!) I'm not going to give you a synopsis but if you like epic fantasy definitely give this one a read. It is worth your time (even if you have to read it twice) and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I have declared this weekend (Friday-Monday) a "Catch-Up Readathon" because my library book stack is getting out of hand and I went to the used bookstore on Tuesday to buy a birthday gift for one of my nieces. I didn't buy a birthday gift but I did walk out with a stack of books for me. So...that happened...anyway, point being, I have a lot of reading to do. So here is my plan for the long weekend: 

I have very possibly overestimated my abilities but I am going to give it my best shot! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/3/17

I finished two books this week, yay! (Hey, at least it's an improvement from the last two weeks...)

 The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

This is a memoir telling the story of Alice and her librarian father who decide to challenge themselves to read aloud together every night for one hundred nights. "The Streak", as it later comes to be called, continues for over 3000 nights, until the day Alice leaves for college. When I picked up this book I was expecting stories of special moments shared over the reading of books, what I got was the story of a girl growing up with a single father. The nighttime reading becomes only the setting for the story of a relationship between two people. This book was a very quick and sweet read but there was nothing in it that stood out and made it memorable. Enjoyable, but not something I would pick up again.

Once On a Time by A.A. Milne

(Yes, this is the A.A. Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame. Turns out he wrote other books as well.)

This is a satire of a traditional classic fairy tale. It features a ridiculous king, a silly princess, an evil countess, and a rather cocky prince who all find themselves at war with the neighboring kingdom for really no reason at all. This whimsical tale is full of humor and will leave you feeling happy and content. 

Currently Reading:
Though I only completed two books this week I made significant progress on three others: Age of Myth by Michael Sullivan, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. All three of these are pretty hefty books so overall I am very pleased with the amount I accomplished this week.

What is on your currently reading stack?