Friday, July 31, 2009

July Wrap Up

Wordle: Untitled

I did good this month. I read and reviewed almost every book that I set out to read this month. I could have read more, if I hadn't took such longs breaks. I think I only read about 20 days out of this month. Here is a view of how the month went for me.

Read in July:

Planned To Read But Did Not:
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler

Completed Challenges for 2009:
The Pulitzer Project * - Completed 5 out of 5 Books (100%)

Challenges Still in Process:
Round The World - Completed 7 out of 18 Books (39%)
Through The Decades '09 - Completed 7 out of 9 Books (78%)
1% Well Read - Completed 6 out of 10 Books (60%)
Serial Reader - Completed 10 out of 15 Books (67%)
TBR Challenge - Completed 11 out of 12 Books (92%)
Library Challenge - Completed 21 out of 25 Books (81%)

*I had a goal to read 5 out of the 82 Pulitzer Prize winning books for this year. I still have 77 books to go. But since this is a perpetual challenge, I am not in a rush.

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 654
Genre: Fiction (Classic)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1913

Synopsis (From Google Books):
Lawrence's first major novel was also the first in the English language to explore ordinary working-class life from the inside. No writer before or since has written so well about the intimacies enforced by a tightly knit mining community and by a family where feelings are never hidden for long.

When the marriage between Walter Morel and his sensitive, high-minded wife begins to break down, the bitterness of their frustration seeps into their children's lives. Their second son, Paul, craves the warmth of family and community, but knows that he must sacrifice everything in the struggle for independence if he is not to repeat his parents' failure.

Lawrence's powerful description of Paul's single-minded efforts to define himself sexually and emotionally through relationships with two women -- the innocent, old-fashioned Miriam Leivers and the experienced, provocatively modern Clara Dawes -- makes this a novel as much for the beginning of the twenty-first century as it was for the beginning of the twentieth.

Review:

It is always difficult to write a review on a book that was just okay. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence was just okay. The books is not a page turner. It doesn't make you want to just read and read until you get to the end. But it is easy to lose yourself in the pages and not notice the time go by. It's like Steinbeck's East of Eden in that perceptive (or East of Eden is like Sons and Lovers).

Sons and Lovers is a nice example of a character based storyline. There really is not plot. The story is a look in the life of Paul Morel. The story begins when his parents meet. Lawrence describes the circumstance of Paul's up bring and how he becomes the man he is.

The story mostly surrounds the complex relationship Paul has with his mother. They have a strong interdependent bond. The back of the copy of the book that I read called it Oedipus complex. But (for me) it seemed more like Paul was a mamas boy. They both provided each other with something that was initial missing in there lives. Paul provided comfort, understanding, and a listening ear to his mother. She provided him with a sense of direction. There was never the since that Paul wanted to get rid of his but rather that his father couldn't (or wouldn't) provide his mother with what she needed, so instead he did it.

There is also the relationships that Paul develops with two women, Clara and Miriam. Like the relationship with his mother, the relationships he has with these women are also based on co-dependency. With Miriam it is emotion and with Clara it is sexual. Paul seems to know this and the women seem to know this, yet they continue on with these relationships. It is a little frustrating. There is never the since that Paul is developing as a person, that any of the central characters are developing as people (except Clara, a little). They all seem to just go on and on with the same patterns of behavior. It gets a little tidiest after awhile.

The writing is great. Like a lot of classics Lawrence is good at giving details, sometimes to much detail. As stated earlier this book is not a page turner. It is really easy to put down and forget. Yet, it is also just as easy to pick up and finish were you started off from. The pages seem to pass by quickly and it never feels labor intensive.

Pros: Character based, Writing, Relationships
Cons: A lot of descriptions, Character based, Relationship

Overall Recommendation:
Sons and Lovers is a great example of a character based novel. It would not be the first classic that I would recommend if asked but it would be someone in the middle of the list.

Challenges:
Through The Decades (7 out of 9 Books)
1% Well Read (6 out of 10 Books)
Library Challenge (21 out of 25 Books)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Friday Finds: July 31

This Friday I will spotlight books that I have books that I have came have been sitting in my Google Reader since Janurary of this year. Its amazing how many book blogs I subscribe to and the amount of books I find out from them. There are a total of 16 books on my virtual wish list (or my one step away from the TBR list, list). But this week I will only pick three of them. The others will have to wait for another opportunity.



Life as We Knew itBy Susan Beth Pfeffer
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.



Passenger By Ronald Damien Malfi
A man wakes up on a Baltimore City bus with no memory of who he is, where he is going, or what has happened to him. His head is recently shaved. His clothes appear new. And written on the palm of one hand is an addressżPASSENGER is a haunting journey of discovery, where the protagonist stumbles through Baltimoreżs crumbling streets and a collection of strangely wonderful characters in search of his identity. Yet the more he tries to uncover the mystery of his past, the more he learns it has been hidden from him for a reason.





Swish: My Quest to be The Gayest Person Ever by Joel Defner
Joel Derfner is gayer than you.

Don’t feel too bad about it, though, because he has made being gayer than you his life’s work. At summer day camp, when he was six, Derfner tried to sign up for needlepoint and flower arranging, but the camp counselors wouldn’t let him, because, they said, those activities were for girls only. Derfner, just to be contrary, embarked that very day on a solemn and sacred quest: to become the gayest person ever. Along the way he has become a fierce knitter, an even fiercer musical theater composer, and so totally the fiercest step aerobics instructor (just ask him—he’ll tell you himself).

In
Swish, Derfner takes his readers on a flamboyant adventure along the glitter-strewn road from fabulous to divine. Whether he’s confronting the demons of his past at a GLBT summer camp, using the Internet to “meet” men—many, many men—or plunging headfirst (and nearly naked) into the shady world of go-go dancing, he reveals himself with every gayer-than-thou flourish to be not just a stylish explorer but also a fearless one. So fearless, in fact, that when he sneaks into a conference for people who want to cure themselves of their homosexuality, he turns the experience into one of the most fascinating, deeply moving chapters of the book. Derfner, like King Arthur, Christopher Columbus, and Indiana Jones—but with a better haircut and a much deeper commitment to fad diets—is a hero destined for legend.

Written with wicked humor and keen insight,
Swish is at once a hilarious look at contemporary ideas about gay culture and a poignant exploration of identity that will speak to all readers—gay, straight, and in between.

I forgot to note where in the book blogging websphere I found these books. Sorry.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recent Funny: Booking Through Thursday

This week Booking Through Thursday ask:
What's the funniest book you've read recently?
This is going to be an easy and short BTT response.

The funniest book that I have read recently is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller during the winter last year. It has been awhile since I have read a funny book. But I am a list person and funny books are not on my planned list of books to read this year.

I really enjoyed Catch-22. In fact, I did much of my reading on a bus and felt silly sitting on the bus with a book in my lap and a big smile on my face. Much of the time I spent reading this book I was either fighting to keep my face neutral or not to laugh out right. Next time I read a funny book I'll do it in the privacy of my own home. I would hate to be known as a "bus crazy".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Library Loot: July 29

Over at Shelfari there is a group called Play Book Tag. This months games over at PBT is called the amazing race. Where there are teams of two and the teams compete to read books based tagged a certain nation (if that makes since). My neighborhood library is really small and limited in the amount of books that they have. So, I decided to go downtown to the Main Library. I love big libraries they are so much fun and so quite.

After I got the four books that I was looking for I decided to read some of Sons and Lovers. I sat outside by a fountain and read. Even though I am Miami, it was not sunny. It was cloudy and looked like it was going to rain. But it was hot and sitting by the fountain was relaxing. I headed back into the library when it started to rain to finish up the chapter that I was reading. I hate rain.

But anywho. My Loot is:

Q&A by Vikas Swarup for the country India












Will There be Good News by Kate Atkinson for country Scotland












Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris (sequel to Chocolat) for country France











Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah continent Africa

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Pages: 248
Genre: Science Fictions
Series: Xenogenesis Series
Publication Date: 1987

Synopsis (From Back of Book):
Lilith Iyapo is in the remote Andes, mourning the death of her husband and son, when nuclear war destroys the world. Centuries later, she revives, held captive aboard a starship.

Miraculously powerful and hideously grotesque galactic beings, the Oankali have rescued the planet and the war's victims out of an irresistible need to heal and a greater need to change all they touch. For the Oankali survive by merging genetically with primitive people - without their permission.

Lilith's children will inherit the Earth and stars. But they will be more - and other -than human.
Review:

Dawn is a rather simple book. At least the writing is but the simplicity in the writing magnifies the talent of Butler. As someone who normally would never normally read a book catogorized as science fiction, the fact that Butler was able to trap my attention and make the story more than about space aliens and a destroyed earth, shows her talent.

Dawn is more than a story about the Oankali preparing humans to return to other in order to procreate a new species it's about what it means to be human and the vastness of human experience and personality. When the story first opens the reader learn that the Oankali have chosen Lilith to train other humans and prepare for the return to Earth. The illusion of the given that Lilith is chosen because of her strength. But as the story progress one thinks that maybe Lilith is chosen because she is easily manipulated and take things at face value.

The beauty about the characters in Dawn is that readers do not become connected with them but see them as players in a movie. As a detached the reader is able to pick out bits and pieces of themselves from each character and question how would they act in the same situation.

Butler not only questions human nature but she also question how we function in society. Earth was destroyed by a nuclear war, when the story was written in the 1980's the US's major advisory was the Russia. The conflict transcends the eighties and is prevalent for issues the world face today (replace Russia with North Korea or Iran or both).


Human beings are more alike than different-dame sure more alike than we like to admit. I wonder if the same thing wouldn't have happened eventually, no matter which two cultures gained the ability to wipe one another out along with the rest of the world. pg. 133

There is no real conclusion in this book but Butler ends the first book and prepares the reader for the next one.

Pros: Writing, Character, Question
Cons: None

Overall Recommendation:

This is a great story to read for both science fictions readers and those that normally do not read the the genre.

Challenges:

Series Challenge (10 out of 15 Books)
TBR Challenge (11 out of 12 Books)


If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Finds: July 24


This Friday I will spot light books that I have books that I have came across while reading the book blog Devourer of Books one of the many blogs I follow via Google Reader. I have about a total of 8 books tagged in my GReader from this site, so I used Random.org to determine how many to add to my virtual TBR list over at Shelfari. This Friday's total finds will be 5.



What happens when a pseudo psychic suddenly gets the real gift?

Marina Marks has been on the grift as a psychic since she was a child, forced into the business by a junkie mother who was always desperate for her next fix—and willing to use her solemn dark-haired daughter to peddle an extra buck. As an adult, Marina has earned a handsome living preying on the dreams and fears of her clients. She doesn’t believe there is such a thing as psychic ability, but she does believe in intuition. Her gift is the ability to gain the trust of her clients and subtly raise her fees as they become more attached to her and her readings.

But when Marina moves her “intuitive counseling” business out of muggy, cloying Florida to the milder environs of southern California, her past follows her. As she takes on new clients—a trophy wife desperate to bear a child, a gay man involved with a closeted psychiatrist, and a philandering businessman who’s smitten with her—a former client resurfaces in an eerie way. Suddenly, Marina is in love for the first time, but it is a romance whose roots lie deep in her past and threaten her efforts to reinvent herself.

As Marina’s life gets more and more entangled with those of her clients, she makes a startling discovery: she suddenly has the actual ability to see the future. After predicting a murder exactly as it happens, she becomes the sole suspect. Now she’s the desperate one—desperate to clear her name and to discover the meaning behind her visions.



Like the single white eyelash that graces her row of dark lashes–seen by her people as a mark of good fortune–Halima Bashir’s story stands out. Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor’s tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and the uncompromising spirit of a young woman who refused to be silenced.

Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima was doted on by her father, a cattle herder, and kept in line by her formidable grandmother. A politically astute man, Halima’s father saw to it that his daughter received a good education away from their rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls who looked down their noses at the black Africans. With her love of learning and her father’s support, Halima went on to study medicine, and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor.

Yet not even the symbol of good luck that dotted her eye could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events.

In this harrowing and heartbreaking account, Halima Bashir sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives being eradicated by what is fast becoming one of the most terrifying genocides of the twenty-first century. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is more than just a memoir–it is Halima Bashir’s global call to action.


“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol. This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholar shipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept. Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago. Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan

A mesmerizing story of a community of Chinese immigrants in a small California town in 1928, weaving history and mythology around the lives of the townspeople and the ghosts who haunt them

Locke, CA, 1928 Three bedraggled Chinese women suddenly appear out of the mist one afternoon in a small Chinese farming town on the Sacramento River, and their arrival throws the community into confusion. Two of the women are unknown to the townspeople, while the third is the long-lost wife of Richard Fong, the handsome manager of the local gambling parlor, who had left her behind in China many years earlier and had not yet returned for her.

Richards wifes unexpected arrival complicates his life in no small waynot least with two prostitutes at the local brothel he frequents. One, the beautiful young Chloe, depends on him but has eyes for someone else, someone even more forbiddenthe local preachers daughter. The other, Poppy, the psychic madam of the brothel, is desperately in love with him, and she begins to sink into despair as he grows further and further away from her.

As the lives of the townspeople become inextricably intertwined with the newly arrived women, Poppys premonitions begin to foretell a deep unhappiness for all involved. And when a flood threatens the livelihood of the entire town, the frightening power of these mysterious women who arrived in the mist will be revealed.

Shawna Yang Ryans melodic first novel is a passionate, sophisticated intertwining of fact and fiction that examines mingling cultures, modern myths, and forgotten history.
Locke 1928 beautifully chronicles separation and betrayal, loneliness and longing, and what happens when a Chinese ghost story begins to come true.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Winner: The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister




To claim your prize, please email me at thelittlereadingnook at gmail dot com


The Sunday Salon: Laziness

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

Lazy: This week I have been somewhat lazy. I have only done one review and that was for an audiobook. I haven't really been reading Sons and Lovers, and am only one page 100 (out of 400). I did start Dawn by Octavia Butler and that held my interest for about a day. I don't know what is wrong with me. Nothing is truly catching my interest. I had a goal to read 60 books this year but I don't think that I will make it. Since I am only on book 24. Blah.

Blog Improvements: I have finally added something to the about me sidebar thingy. It has been empty since I started this blog. Now I need a new avatar. The one that I am using now is kind of lame. I also have added a review policy. I don't know if anyone is going to contact me to review books, but I thought that it would be a good idea to have one anyways. I sort of stole pieces of it from other places on the web. I will change it if needed.

First Giveaway: Is official over. It was fun to do. Hopefully, I will be able to have more in the future.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Finds: July 17

This Friday Finds is dealing with the theme: books by and/or about African American.

One of the things that I love about book blogs is that I get to read reviews about a wide variety of books. Because of this I have been introduced to books that I would never have heard about, especially those by and/or about African American. This week I have picked out 6 books. Some are fiction, some are non-fiction, one is a graphic novel, and one is a young adult novel.


Mare'sWar by Tanita S. Davis
Meet Mare, a grandmother with flair and a fascinating past.

Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC member and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, this novel introduces a larger-than-life character who will stay with readers long after they finish reading.



Rather We Got Casinos and Other Black Thoughts by Larry Wilmore
Within these pages are the musings, the revelations, the ruminations, and the reflections of the incomparable Larry Wilmore. Here, collected for the first time, all in one place, are his Black Thoughts. From why black weathermen make him feel happy (or sad) and why brothas don't see UFOs to his search for Black Jesus or his quest to replace "African-American" with "chocolate," Wilmore has finally relented, agreeing to share his unique (black) perspective. Soon, you too will have the ability to find racism in everything. Bring back the Shetland Negro and do away with Black History Month! After all, can twenty-eight days of trivia really make up for centuries of oppression? In Wilmore's own words, "I'd rather we got casinos!

Life is Short but Wide by J. California Cooper
Beloved writer J. California Cooper has won a legion of loyal fans and much critical acclaim for her powerful storytelling gifts. In language both spare and direct yet wondrously lyrical, LIFE IS SHORT BUT WIDE is an irresistible story of family that proves no matter who you are or what you do, you are never too old to chase your dreams.

Like the small towns J. California Cooper has so vividly portrayed in her previous novels and story collections, Wideland, Oklahoma, is home to ordinary Americans struggling to raise families, eke out a living, and fulfill their dreams. In the early twentieth century, Irene and Val fall in love in Wideland. While carving out a home for themselves, they also allow neighbors Bertha and Joseph to build a house and live on their land. The next generation brings two girls for Irene and Val, and a daughter for Bertha and Joseph. As the families cope with the hardships that come with changing times and fortunes, and people are born and pass away, the characters learn the importance of living one’s life boldly and squeezing out every possible moment of joy.
Cooper brilliantly captures the cadences of the South and draws a picture of American life at once down-to-earth and heartwarming in this-as her wise narrator will tell you-“strange, sad, kind’a beautiful, life story.” It is a story about love that leads to the ultimate realization that whoever you are, and whatever you do, life is short, but it is also wide.



Now The Hell Will Start by Brendan I. Koerner
A true story of murder, love, and headhunters, Now the Hell Will Start tells the remarkable tale of Herman Perry, a budding Romeo from the streets of Washington, D.C., who wound up going native in the Indo-Burmese jungle-not because he yearned for adventure, but rather to escape the greatest manhunt conducted by the United States Army during World War II. An African American G.I. assigned to a segregated labor battalion, Perry was shipped to South Asia in 1943, enduring unspeakable hardships while sailing around the globe. He was one of thousands of black soldiers dispatched to build the Ledo Road, a highway meant to appease China's conniving dictator, Chiang Kai-shek. Stretching from the thickly forested mountains of northeast India across the tiger-infested vales of Burma, the road was a lethal nightmare, beset by monsoons, malaria, and insects that chewed men's flesh to pulp. Perry could not endure the jungle's brutality, nor the racist treatment meted out by his white officers. He found solace in opium and marijuana, which further warped his fraying psyche. Finally, on March 5, 1944, he broke down-an emotional collapse that ended with him shooting an unarmed white lieutenant. So began Perry's flight through the Indo-Burmese wilderness, one of the planet's most hostile realms. While the military police combed the brothels of Calcutta, Perry trekked through the jungle, eventually stumbling upon a village festooned with polished human skulls. It was here, amid a tribe of elaborately tattooed headhunters, that Herman Perry would find bliss-and would marry the chief 's fourteen-year-old daughter. Starting off with nothing more than a ten-word snippet culled from an obscure bibliography, Brendan I. Koerner spent nearly five years chasing Perry's ghost-a pursuit that eventually led him to the remotest corners of India and Burma, where drug runners and ethnic militias now hold sway. Along the way, Koerner uncovered the forgotten story of the Ledo Road's black G.I.s, for whom Jim Crow was as virulent an enemy as the Japanese. Many of these troops revered the elusive Perry as a folk hero-whom they named the Jungle King. Sweeping from North Carolina's Depression-era cotton fields all the way to the Himalayas, Now the Hell Will Start is an epic saga of hubris, cruelty, and redemption. Yet it is also an exhilarating thriller, a cat-and-mouse yarn that dazzles and haunts.


Do I Distrub The Universe?: From The Projects To Prep School by Charlise Lyles
Charlise Lyles was born in 1959, on the cusp of a new era for African-Americans. She came of age as the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy stirred blacks and whites to right the racial wrongs of the past, although their individual voices had been silenced. In this vivid memoir, Lyles describes how the programs and policies that emerged from the civil rights movement affected her and her family. Lyles watched as race riots and a river burned in Cleveland. When the ashes cooled, her family was one of the first to move into Cleveland's King-Kennedy Homes public housing project in 1969. Through the eyes of childhood and adolescence, Lyles portrays their years there against a backdrop of weekly black militant demonstrations, the rise and fall of Cleveland's first black mayor, and mounting violence and despair. At the same time, she traces her ascent from "the slow class" to an elite suburban prep school, showing how programs from Head Start to A Better Chance could open doors for those with the good fortune to find them and the courage to go through. Finally, Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? shares Lyles's search for her long absent father, a quest that culminates in confusion and enlightenment, anger and love. Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? shows how the triumphs and failures of the civil rights era converged in Lyles's life while drawing a compelling portrait of the girl she was and the woman she became.


Incognergo by Mat Johnson
Writer Mat Johnson (HELLBLAZER: PAPA MIDNITE), winner of the prestigious Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction, constructs a fearless graphic novel that is both a page-turning mystery and a disturbing exploration of race and self-image in America, masterfully illustrated with rich period detail by Warren Pleece (THE INVISIBLES, HELLBLAZER). In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could pass among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going incognegro. Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, barely escapes with his life after his latest incognegro story goes bad. But when he returns to the sanctuary of Harlem, hes sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi. With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane must stay incognegro long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder in order to save his brotherand himself. He finds that the answers are buried beneath layers of shifting identities, forbidden passions and secrets that run far deeper than skin color.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TBR: Booking Through Thursday

This week Booking Through Thursday asks follow-up questions from last weeks Booking Through Thursday:
Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?
All the unread books that I physically own are in one place, on a bookshelf in my room. I keep them there because I don't have my own place. Instead, I have housemates. So, I try to keep my stuff all in one place otherwise I would buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and have a big mess to clean up when I leave.

If I had my own house, then I would probably have books everywhere. When I was a kid my grandmother would keep plastic milk crates filled with books at the bottom of the staircase. I use to love looking at the books as I walked up and down the stairs. So, I probably would have books in the common rooms and the hallways, if there is space.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thirteen Reasons Why (Audiobook) by Jay Asher

Narrators: Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes
Genre: Young Adult
Series: No
Publication Date: 2007

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Review:

Thirteen Reasons Why is a tell about a high school student that commits suicide and leaves behind tapes explaining why she committed the act. The tapes are sent to people that she feels has some responsibility in her decision. Suicide is a tricky subject to handle and it would seem that it would be even more tricky when handled in a young adult novel. But Asher dealt with the subject wonderful. He was able to convey all of Clay's emotions as he tried to listen to the tapes and figure out what roll he played in Hannah's death and make readers feel like they were listening to the tapes and experiencing the emotions too. With Hannah's character reader's get to see the incidents (stating in freshman year) that she felt ultimately lead to her demise.

It should be noted that since the audiobook version was used that the experience of reading the story and listening to the story could be different. But the audiobook version is excellent. The narrator's voices seem a little old for the age age of the characters (high school juniors) but as the story progresses this becomes less apparent and ultimately a benefit. Joel Johnstone's voice was able to express all the emotions that Clay felt as he listened to the tapes. The anger, frustration, worry, all were there and heartwretching. Debra Wiseman's was able to do the same. It was almost like you were listening to the characters themselves not someone just reading a story.

Ahser's also offers a lesson in Thirteen Reasons Why but he weaves it into the story. Reader's get to learn about some of the signs of suicide and how a simple act of kindness might prevent it.

Pros: Narrators, Subject, Lesson, Story
Cons: Sad

Overall Recommendation:

I would recommend this Thirteen Reasons Why to anyone. I think that it is a great novel that is able to transcend audience. Adults will appreciate it as much as young adults.

Challenges:

Library Challenge (20 out of 25 Books)
TBR Challenge (10 out of 12 Books)

Rewards (courtesy of LibraryThings):

ALA Best Books For Young Adults 2008
Florida Teens Read (2008-2009)
Commonworth Club of California Book Award (208, Silver)

Other Reviews:


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Sons and Lovers

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    Please avoid spoilers!
My Two Teaser Sentences (pg. 230)

She suddenly became aware of his keen blue eyes upon her, taking her all in. Instantly her broken boots and her frayed old frock hurt her.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Starting Classics

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....
Starting Classics: For some reason unknown to me, I have a problem starting classic or older reads. Right now I should be reading Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence but I can't get pass the first two sentences. I always seem to have this problem when reading classics. I get the book but when I try to open it and read it, I get stuck. I know that once I start I will pick up speed and be able to finish. But starting is the problem. Does anyone else have this problem?

Blog Improvement: My resolution to improve my blog is going well. I have decided to try out Comment Luv, instead of using Blogger's comment system. So far so good. I love how it lets me reply to comments and layers them. It makes it so much easier. I have also announced my first ever giveaway and so far the response has been good. I would like to do them more often. But hopefully I can at least try for one a month. This weeks improvements have been minor. I have added a sidebar that list books reviewed by title. Right now I am working on reference posts for my Perpetual Challenges.

Future Improvements:
  • Host Mini Challenge (Work In Process)
  • Star Rating Explanation
  • Review Policy
  • Improve About and Contact Sidebar
  • Try Out LinkWithin
Giveaway Reminder: Don't forget that the giveaway of The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister ends on July 18, 2009. Winners will be announced on July 19, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Finds: July 10

I have decided to try something new with my Friday Finds to spice it up a little bit.Instead of just posting random books that I have saved in my Google Reader, I will pick a theme or blog and pull finds from them (that I have already marked in the GReader).

To kick this off I have decided to spotlight J. Kaye's Book Blog. J. Kaye host numerous book challenges but also post great book reviews. I have a number of books from her site just waiting for a chance to be put on the TBR pile. Since, I have some many saved books from this site, I used a Random Number Generator to decided how many to pick this week. The total 6 books.

This week's books are:

What would you do if the one person you hated most Died? If the person who stole The love of your life Would never see another day? How would you feel? Would you laugh? Would you cry? This is the issue that Rob Jackson faces. This is the dilemma that Like Glass begins with. A phone call from his brother's widow begins his turmoil. A phone call from a voice he tried to forget launches the avalanche. How would you feel?






The hidden history of a haunted and beloved city told through the intersecting lives of nine remarkable characters.
After Hurricane Katrina, Dan Baum moved to New Orleans to write about the city’s response to the disaster for The New Yorker. He quickly realized that Katrina was not the most interesting thing about New Orleans, not by a long shot. The most interesting question, which struck him as he watched residents struggling to return, was this: Why are New Orleanians—along with people from all over the world who continue to flock there—so devoted to a place that was, even before the storm, the most corrupt, impoverished, and violent corner of America?

Here’s the answer.
Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of this dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city through the lives of nine characters over forty years and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed the city in the 1960’s, and Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. These nine lives are windows into every strata of one of the most complex and fascinating cities in the world. From outsider artists and Mardi Gras Kings to jazz-playing coroners and transsexual barkeeps, these lives are possible only in New Orleans, but the city that nurtures them is also, from the beginning, a city haunted by the possibility of disaster. All their stories converge in the storm, where some characters rise to acts of heroism and others sink to the bottom. But it is New Orleans herself—perpetually whistling past the grave yard—that is the story’s real heroine.

Nine Lives is narrated from the points of view of some of New Orleans’s most charismatic characters, but underpinning the voices of the city is an extraordinary feat of reporting that allows Baum to bring this kaleidoscopic portrait to life with brilliant color and crystalline detail. Readers will find themselves wrapped up in each of these individual dramas and delightfully immersed in the life of one of this country’s last unique places, even as its ultimate devastation looms ever closer. By resurrecting this beautiful and tragic place and portraying the extraordinary lives that could have taken root only there, Nine Lives shows us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.
Two decades ago, at a private women’s college in upstate New York, a student was brutally attacked in her dorm room. Her assailant was never found…

They Disappear…

Sue Barlow arrives at Wilbourne College twenty years later. When a classmate disappears, Sue thinks it’s an isolated incident. But then two other girls vanish…

And Die…

As fear grows on campus, Sue begins to sense she’s being watched. And as the body count rises, she soon realizes that a twisted psychopath is summoning her to play a wicked game—a game that only will end when she dies…



ONE BY ONE . . .Two decades ago, at a private women's college in upstate New York, a student was brutally attacked in her dorm room. Her assailant was never found . . .THEY DISAPPEAR . . .Sue Barlow arrives at Wilbourne College twenty years later. When a classmate disappears, Sue thinks it's an isolated incident. But then two other girls vanish . . .AND DIE . . .As fear grows on campus, Sue begins to sense she's being watched. And as the body count rises, she soon realizes that a twisted psychopath is summoning her to play a wicked game-a game that only will end when she dies . . .





Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa
Set in the slums of New Orleans, among clusters of crack houses and abandoned buildings, Dirty Little Angels is the story of sixteen year old Hailey Trosclair. When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey finds herself looking to God to save her family. When her prayers go unanswered, Hailey puts her faith in Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con. Fascinated by Moses's lopsided view of religion, Hailey, and her brother Cyrus, begin spending time down at an abandoned bank that Moses plans to convert into a drive-through church. Gradually, though, Moses's twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey and Cyrus soon find themselves trapped in a world of danger and fear from which there may be no escape.

Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.
Five years ago, Josh’s life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town—seems like the world—thinks they understand. But they don’t—they can’t. And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces. First there’s Rachel, the girl he thought he’d lost years ago. She’s back, and she’s determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not.Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won’t stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink. And then there’s Eve. Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh’s past. It’s time for Josh to face the truth about what happened.
If only he knew what the truth was . . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chocolat: A Novel by Joanne Harris

Rating: 4 out of 5
Pages: 306
Genre: Fiction
Series: No
Publication Date: 1999

Synopsis (From Back Cover):
When beautiful, unmarried Vianne Rocher sweeps into the pinched little French town of Lansquenet on the heels of the carnival and opens a gem of a chocolate shop across the square from the church, she begins to wreak havoc with the town's Lenten vows. Her uncanny ability to perceive her customer's private discontents and alleviate them with just the right confection coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation and happiness, but enrages Pere Reynaud, the local priest. Certain only a witch could stir such sinful indulgence and devise such clever cures, Reynaud pits himself against Vianne and vows to block the chocolate festival she plans for Easter Sunday, and to run her out of town forever. Witch or not (she'll never tell), Vianne soon sparks a dramatic confrontation between those who prefer the cold comforts of the church and those who revel in their newly discovered tastes for pleasure.
Review:

Chocolat is written like a fairly tale. The writing is very fluid, lyrical and romantic. Written in first person, the story is told through the view points of two very different, yet similar people. Vianne is a drifter, has been a drifter all her life. Since childhood her and her mother have traveled from place to place never settling in one stop. Now an adult she is repeating the same patterns set by her mother. Reynaud is a country priest in the town that Vianne had decided to settle, at least for the moment. Reynaud is a local boy and worry of outsiders.

Early in the story Harris sets up the tense and animosity between Reynaud and Vianne. Vianne since that Reynaud sees her as a threat and worries what pain he will inflect on her and her called. Reynaud sees Vianne and her daughter as sinners, sent to wreck havoc on his congregation. Its and interesting battle, Reynaud takes it more seriously than Vianne. Yet, the reader can feel the struggle of between the characters. Reynaud's frustration has citizens of Lansquenet welcome Viannee and her chocolate shop into there community is almost tangible. His struggle with setting an example by being pleasant but wanting to protect his sense of tradition are strong.

Vianne, on the other hand, is struggling with her past and the hopes for her child's future. She can't decide if Reynaud is an actually threat or rather a manifestation of past worries and insecurity. Readers get to see how Vianne's personality and ability to understand people draw people into her show and how bonds between her and the town are formed. Vianne and her daughter, Anouk, are very likable characters. There bond is nice written and portrayed in the story.

Chocolat, has been made into a movie and the books has a different feel. The movie (if I remember correctly) is more of a love story. The book is not a love story, its a story about change. Yet, like the movie it has a very whimsical feel. Harris does a good job of illustrating Vianne and Anouk gifts without making the story overly exaggerated. The fantasy magical aspect seems like a part of the story without making the story see make believe.

The one thing that this story lacks is a climax that does the story justice. The climax in the story is very lackluster. It almost came and went. The story was set up for this final battle between Reynaud and Vianne but that never manifested.

Pros: Writing, Characters, Plot
Cons: Climax


Overall Recommendation:

Chocolat is a good novel. The writing is excellent and the character likable. Highly recommended. But be aware that the movie does not follow the book that closely and if you are looking for a great love story this is not the night novel. Instead, try Like Water for Chocolate.

Challenges:
Library Challenge (19 out of 25 books)
Round The World Passage (7 out of 18 books)
TBR Challenge (9 out of 12 books)

Other Reviews:

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Unread: Booking Through Thursday

Another Booking Through Thursday:

An idea I got from The Toddled Dredge (via K for Kat).
Here’s what she said:“So here today I present to you an Unread Books Challenge. Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!’ “
I don't own a lot of books but I have collected a lot. I try not to buy that many books because I don't place to stay where I am for that long. But I do have a book shelf.

Currently waiting to be read is:
The Damned - LA Banks
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Summer Sisters - Judy Blume
Adulthood Rites - Octavia Butler
Dawn - Octavia Bulter
The Hand That's Dealt - Rosalind Coats
My Soul To Keep - Tananarive Due
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
26a - Diana Evans
A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest Gaines
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruden
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Sapphire's Grave - Hilda Gurley- Highgate
Not Without Laughter - Langston Hughes
The Color of Family - Patricia Jordan
Cujo - Stephen King
Pet Sematary - Stephen King
Brown Girl, Brownstone - Paule Marshall
The Warmest December - Bernice L. McFadden
Mama- Terry McMillian
Sula - Toni Morrison
Fear of The Dark - Walter Mosley
Fresh Water Road - Denise Nicholas
The Bonesetter's Daugher - Amy tan
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - ZZ Packer
The Fifth Vial - Michael Palmers
The Kingdom Keeper - Ridley Pearson
His Dark Material - Phillip Pullman
The Well and The Mine - Gia Phillips
The Witching Hour - Anne Rice
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Coffee Will Make You Black - April Sinclair
Ain't Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice - April Sinclair
I Left My Back Door Open - April Sinclair
The Coldest Winter Ever - Sister Soulja
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
Flyy Girl - Omar Tyree
The Blacker The Berry - Wallace Thurman

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: Chocolat


TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    Please avoid spoilers!
My Two Teaser Sentences (pg. 145)

I try to recall my dream the face of Reynaud - his lost expression of dismay, I'm late, I'm late - he too running from or into some unimaginable fate of which I am an unwitting part. But the dream has fragmented, its pieces scattered like cards in a high wind.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mailbox Monday & Library Loot (2 for 1)

The past week has been kind of good to me with the amount of books coming in. Not so much so for those headed out. In the past week I have collected about 5 more books. Three from the library and 2 were drop off at my doorstep by the postman (and yes I know for sure I postal worker is male).

The Shelfari book group Book Chat hosted a Christmas in June. Where individuals signed up to be Secret Santa's and sent other participants books from their wish list.

The ever so generous Elf-in-training Marguerite sent me The Help and The Lovely Bones. Both of which have been on my wish list for about a year now.


From the library, I gathered the following three books. Each of which, are for challenges that I am currently in. One one of them Imago was actually on my TBR list.



What books wiggled their way into your home this week?