Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 2011 Book Challenges

11-11-11 Challenge

1. Published in 2011
1. Mercy Kill (Armstrong) Ad Myst
2.  Dogtag Summer (Partridge) MidHF
3.  A Million Miles from Boston (Day) MidCRF
4.  The Last Little Blue Envelope (Johnson) YACRF
5.  Ruby Red (Gier) YAFant
6.  Small Acts of Amazing Courage (Whelan) MidHistFict
7.  You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) (White) Mid Fant
8.  Where Do You Stay? (Cheng) Mid CRF
9.  The Mostly True Story of Jack (Barnhill) Mid Fant
10.  The Other Rembrandt (Connor) Ad Myst
11.  A Discovery of Witches (Harkness) Ad FantMyst
12.  The Weird Sisters (Brown) CRF
13.  Sisterhood Everlasting (Brashares) Ad/Teen CRF
14.  Wonderstruck (Selznick) Mid HF

2. TBR Pile waaaaay too long
1. The Jacket (Clements) Mid CRF
2.  Art of Mending
3.  Biting the Moon (Grimes) Ad Myst
4.  The Ice Queen (Hoffman) Ad CRF
5.  Sweethearts (Zarr) YA CRF
6.  Twelve Sharp (Evanovich) AdMyst
7.  Unlucky in Law (O'Shaughnessy) AdMyst

3. Authors new to me
1. Ninth Ward (Jewell Parker Rhodes)
2. At Ease with the Dead (Walter Satterthwaite)
3. Gods in Alabama (Joshilyn Jackson)
4. No Time for Goodbye (Linwood Barclay)
5. Sweet Heart (Chelsea Cain)
6.  The Jasmine Trade (Denise Hamilton)
7.  The Lock Artist (Steve Hamilton)
8.  The Beach House (Jane Green)
9.  The Dark Tide (Andrew Gross)
10.  Chime (Franny Billingsley)

4. Historical Fiction
1. Best Friends Forever, A World War II Scrapbook (Patt) (Mid Grades Japanese Interment)
2.  Dogtag Summer (Partridge) MidGrVietnam War 
3.  Small Acts of Amazing Courage (Whelan) 1919 India
4.  Wonderstruck (Selznick) 1912 Hoboken, NJ & 1972 Minnesota

5. YA
1. Hush (Chayil) CRF
2.  Numbers (Ward) Fantasy
3. Evermore (Noel) Fantasy
4.  Ruby Red (Gier) Fantasy
5.  Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Green) CRF
6.  Forever (Stiefvater) Fantasy
7.  Darkness Becomes Her (Keaton) Fantasy
8.  Divergent (Roth) Fantasy
9.  Shine (Myracle) CRF

6. Where in the World?
1. The Moses Expedition (Spain, Jordan, US) (Gomez-Jurado)
2.  Don't Look Back (Norway) (Fossum)
3.  Girls of Ridayh (Saudi Arabia) (Alsanea)
4.  The Other Rembrandt (London, Amsterdam) (Connor)
5.  State of Wonder (Amazon rainforest, Brazil) (Patchett)

7. Arizona
1. A Song for You (Thornton)
2.  A Whole New Life (Thornton)

8. Mystery
1.  Bloody Mary (Konrath)
2. Shiver (Jackson)
3. Another Thing to Fall (Lippman)
4.  Hawkes Harbor (Hinton)
5.  The Book of Names
6.  Killer View
7.  Painted Ladies (Parker)
8.  Sullivan's Law (Rosenberg)
9.  Pray for Silence (Castillo)
10.  Stranger in Paradise (Parker)

9. One Word Titles (also on other lists)
1. Hereville (Deutsch)
2.  Shiver (Jackson)
3.  Hush (Chayil)
4.  Numbers (Ward)
5.  Pink (Wilkinson)
6.  Evermore (Noel)
7.  Forever (Stiefvater)
8.  Divergent (Roth)
9.  Sweethearts (Zarr)
10.  Chime (Billingsley)
11.  Shine (Myracle)
12.  Wonderstruck (Selznick)

10. Nonfiction (Can I REALLY do this?) ANY TYPE
1. Attracting Birds to Your Backyard (Roth)

11. First Time Authors
1.  A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)
2.  The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown)
3.  The Tale of Halcyon Crane (Wendy Webb)

?? Super Favorite Authors
1.  Piper Reed, Navy Brat (Holt)
2.  Waiting for the Magic (MacLachlan)

(Next time I'm going to have a category that is non-murder-mysteries and non-paranormal!

First in a Series Challenge
Series Novice (3 Books)
Series Lover (6 Books)
Series Expert (12 Books)
Series Fanatic (20 Books)

1. At Ease with the Dead (first book in the series that I've read...) (Satterthwaite) Joshua Croft #2
2. Dark of the Moon (Sandford) Virgil Flowers #1
3. Sweet Heart (Cain) Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1
4. Mercy Kill (First book in the series that I've read...) (Armstrong) Mercy Gunderson #2
5.  Killer View (First book in the series that I've read...) (Pearson) Sheriff Walt Fleming,#2
6. Numbers (Ward) YA Realistic Fantasy (Chaos is the second title, next after this)
7.  Don't Look Back (Fossum) Chief Inspector Konrad Sejer, Norway -  not sure if it's first in the series
8.  The Jasmine Trade (Hamilton) Eve Diamond LA Investigative Reporter #1
9.  Sullivan's Law (Rosenberg) Carolyn Sullivan, Ventura, CA; Probation Officer
10.  Evermore (Noel) the Immortals series, featuring Ever Bloom and Damen Auguste
11.  Ruby Red (Gier) first in a trilogy about time-traveling Gwyneth and Gabriel, published in Germany
12.  Darkness Becomes Her (Keaton) first in a series set in a dystopian New Orleans, featuring Ari of the silver hair and teal eyes....
13.  Divergent (Roth) Five factions in dystopian Chicago
14.  A Discovery of Witches (Harkness) First in the All Souls trilogy (witches, vampires, daemons)

Seconds Challenge
 Just a spoonful (3 books)
A few more bites (6 books)
A full plate (12 books)
All you can eat (20 books)

1. Bloody Mary ("Jack" Daniels, Chicago Police Lt. #2) Konrath
2. A Song for You (Chloe Newcombe #5) Thornton
3. Another Thing to Fall (Tess Monaghan #10) Lippman
4. Painted Ladies (Spenser #39) Parker
5. Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) Stiefvater
6. Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder, Ex-Amish Chief-of-Police) Castillo
7. Stranger in Paradise (Jesse Stone) Parker
8. Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum) Evanovich
9. Sisterhood Everlasting (Ann Brashares)
10  Unlucky in Law (O'Shaughnessy) #10 Nina Reilly

Graphic Novel Challenge
Beginner (3)
Intermediate (3-10)
Expert (10+)

1. Hereville (Deutsch) 2010
Criminal Plots Challenge
1. A book by a new-to-me author who's blurbed a book I've enjoyed

2. A book that has been made into a movie.

3. A book with a protagonist opposite my own gender, therefore: male protagonist.
Dark of the Moon (Sandford) Virgil Flowers, SD
Killer View (Pearson) Sheriff Walt Fleming, ID
The Lock Artist (Hamilton)
The Other Rembrandt (Connor)
Stranger in Paradise (Parker) Jesse Stone, MA

4. A book set outside the country which I live.
Don't Look Back (Fossum) Norway
The Other Rembrandt (Connor) London, Amseterdam

5. A book that's the first in a new-to-me series
At Ease With the Dead (Satterthwaite) Joshua Croft, Santa Fe
Dark of the Moon (Sandford) Virgil Flowers, SD
Heart Sick (Cain) Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell, Portland, OR
Mercy Kill (Armstrong) Mercy Gunderson, South Dakota
Killer View (Pearson) Sheriff Walt Fleming, Sun Valley, ID
Don't Look Back (Fossum) Inspector Konrad Sejer, Norway
The Jasmine Trade (Hamilton) Eve Diamond, LA Investigative Reporter

6. A book by a 2011 debut author.

What's In a Name Challenge
1. A book with a number in the title:
 Ninth Ward (Rhodes)
Twelve Sharp (Evanovich)

2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title
Ruby Red (Gier)

3. A book with a size in the title
The Last Little Blue Envelope (Johnson)
Small Acts of Amazing Kindness (Whelan)

4. A Book with travel or movement in the title
The Moses Expedition (Gomez-Jurado)
Another Thing to Fall (Lippman)

5. A book with evil in the title

6. A book with a life stage in the title
At Ease with the Dead (Satterthwaite)

Off the Shelf Challenge
Read books that I've listed as owning and on my TBR list at the beginning of the year
Tempted (5 books)
Trying (15 books)
Making a Dint (30 books)
On a Roll (50 books)
Flying Off (75 books)...and then there's
Hoarder (76-125 books)
and Buried (126-200 books)

100 Books+ Challenge
1. Bloody Mary (Konrath) Ad Myst
2. Ninth Ward (Rhodes) Mid CRF
3. Hereville (Deutsch) Mid Graphic Novel
4. Hawkes Harbor (Hinton) Ad Hist Fict/Fantasy
5. Best Friends Forever, A World War II Scrapbook (Patt) Mid HF
6. The Book of Names (Gregory & Tintori) Ad Myst
7. A Song for You (Thornton) Ad Myst
8. At Ease with the Dead (Satterthwaite) Ad Myst
9. Shiver (Jackson) Ad Myst
10. Simple Genius (Baldacci) Ad Myst
11. Dark of the Moon (Sandford) Ad Myst
12. The Art of Mending (Berg) Ad CRF
13. No Time for Goodbye (Barclay) Ad Myst
14. The Jacket (Clements) Mid CRF
15. Gods in Alabama (Jackson) Ad Myst
16. Heart Sick (Cain) Ad Myst
17. Mercy Kill (Armstrong) Ad Myst
18. Killer View (Pearson) Ad Myst
19. Hush (Chayil) YA CRF
20. The Moses Expedition (Gomez-Jurado) Ad CRF/Myst
21. Another Thing to Fall (Lippman) Ad Myst
22.  The 7th Witness
23.  Last Witness (Hoffman) Ad Myst
24.  School Days (Parker) Ad Myst
25.  Forced Out (Frey) Ad Myst
26.  Stranger in Paradise (Parker) Ad Myst
27.  Painted Ladies (Parker) Ad Myst
28.  Numbers (Ward) YA
29.  Touch Blue (Lord) Mid CRF
30.  Don't Look Back (Fossum) Ad Myst
31.  The Jasmine Trade (Hamilton) AdMyst
32.  The Lock Artist (Hamilton) AdMyst
33.  Piper Reed, Navy Brat (Holt) MidCRF
34.  Akimbo and the Snakes
35.  Dogtag Summer (Partridge) Mid HF
36.  A Million Miles from Boston (Day) Mid CRF
37.  Biting the Moon (Grimes) AdMyst
38.  The Last Little Blue Envelope (Johnson) YA CRF
39.  Pink (Wilkinson) YA CRF
40.  Sullivan's Law (Rosenberg) AdMyst 
41.  Girls of Ridayh (Alsanea) Ad CRF
42.  Evermore (Noel) YA Fant
43.  Ruby Red (Gier) YA Fant
44. Small Acts of Amazing Courage (Whelan) MidHistFict
45.  Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Green & Levithan) YA CRF
46.  The Beach House (Green) Ad CRF
47.  You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) (White) Mid Fant
48.  Where Do You Stay? (Cheng) Mid CRF
49.  The Mostly True Story of Jack (Barnhill) Mid Fant
50.  Forever (Stiefvater) YA Fant
51.  The Ice Queen (Hoffman) Ad CRF
52.  The Other Rembrandt (Connor) Ad Myst
53.  Inside Out and Back Again
54.  Darkness Becomes Her (Keaton) YA Fant
55.  Pray for Silence (Castillo) Ad Myst
56.  Divergent (Roth) YA Fant
57.  Picture Perfect
58.  Hunger Games
59.  Catching Fire
60.  Sweethearts (Zarr) YA CRF
61.  State of Wonder (Patchett) Ad CRF
62.  A Whole New Life (Thornton) Ad Myst
63.  The Dark Tide (Gross) Ad Myst
64.  Twelve Sharp (Evanovich) Ad Myst
65.  A Discovery of Witches (Harkness) AdFant
66.  Chime (Billingsley) YAFant
67.  Shine  (Myracle) YA CRF
68.  Waiting for the Magic (MacLachlan) Mid CRF/Fant
69.  The Weird Sisters (Brown) AdCRF
70.  Sisterhood Everlasting (Brashares) YA/Ad CRF
71.  Wonderstruck (Selznick) Mid HF
72.  Tale of Halcyon Crane (Webb) AdFant
73.  Unlucky in Law (O'Shaughnessy) AdMyst

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mercy Watson Thinks Like Pig - Kate DiCamillo

#5 Mercy Watson series
illustrated by Chris VanDusen
Candlewick Press, 2008
HC $12.99
74 pages
Rating: Ella "loved it"

A lot goes on in the fifteen short chapters in this book. Eugenia Lincoln, Mercy's next door neighbor, is still unhappy to be living so close to a pig. So she decides to plant pansies to "live a gracious life." Well.......when Mercy discovers these delicious delicacies, she decides to eat them, one by one. Imagine Eugenia's horror!

Eugenia has had it. To her sister Baby's horror, she decides to call Animal Control. And we meet a new character - Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet, who sets out to find the pig. In the meantime, Mercy has gone to Stella and Frank's house for a tea party. Imagine her disdain when she discovers that tea parties have IMAGINARY food!

Packed with humor and some of the best illustrations ever, this fifth story in the Mercy Watson series is delightful. Fun. and very, very funny. A winner.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

80. In Search of Mercy - Michael Ayoob

Minotaur Books, 2010
HC $24.99 TPPL
293 pgs.
for: adults
rating: now that's a good question. The ending just sucked. So.....3?

Modern day Pittsburgh, PA. The story is told in the first person by Dexter Bolzjak,a young man still living a brutal part of his past over and over. An unusual loner with few friends, he spent most of his youth watching gruesome videos and trying to discover when and how they were edited. He was enlisted to become his high school hockey goalie when his quick reflexes were discovered. He'd never had any interest in sports at all, but became quite a hockey star. However, when sadistic fans capture him and brutally torture him, his life becomes more-or-less a non-life.

Now, years later, he makes a weird friendship with an old, sick drunk, who enlists him to find his long-lost love, a movie actress named Mercy Carnahan who had disappeared without a trace perhaps fifty years before. Is it possible to try to unweave the mysterious story after so much time? Dexter becomes determined to figure it out. And as he discovers clues, he flashbacks and mulls over his own devastating trauma.

This story had twists, turns, and plot devices that I would have never considered. However, when I finished the book I wanted to throw it across the room. It was and incredibly unsatisfying ending, left me flat, flat, flat.

I am writing this review 6 weeks after I finished the book, so it's spotty. I just remember that it's an unusual story with an unsatisfying ending and really odd happenings. Whew.

79. Killer Smile - Lisa Scottoline

Audio read by Barbara Rosenblat
Harper Audio, 2004
9 unabridged cds
10.5 hrs.
(HC 320 pgs.)
Rating: 3

Mary DiNunzio, a lawyer in an all-woman Philadelphia law firm, investigates the death during World War II of Amadeo Brandolini, an Italian immigrant who supposedly killed himself at an internment camp in Montana.

Interspersed throughout the story is much blind-date matchmaking to try and find the young widow another love. There are some very funny parts, but it's quite predictable and the "surprise" ending is a little unbelievable...or at least the way it was brought into the open was.

This was an entertaining read, but not an enthralling one. Plus what's with the title? I can't relate it to the book at all....

Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert - Marla Frazee

Sandpiper (Houghton Mifflin) 2005
paper $6.99
32 pages
Rating: 5

Cute and clever, an inside look at Santa, the man. The guy who keeps card catalogues of all the children of the world. Who knows each and every toy intimately. Who inspects them all for sturdiness. Who has a huge wall full of wrapping paper. Who works every single day of the year to find the best toy for every child.

Physically, the book is taller than it is wide. The font is a specialized one created by the author. The text is simple. The illustrations are full of tiny surprises if you are willing to examine them carefully. For example, Santa is quite a coffee drinker, coffee cups appear scattered here and there. And he has a great fashion sense when it comes to bloomers.

"No one knows more about kids than Santa Claus. He is the world's number one kid expert." That's for sure. Great story!

Monday, December 20, 2010

MOVIE - Black Swan

A bit too much ballet, but otherwise an intriguing psychological story.
Limited release 12/3/10
R (1:48)
Viewed 12/20/10 at the AMC Theater at Pacific Place, downtown Seattle
RT: 88 Flixter: 91 cag: 85
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

Natalie Portman is an obsessed ballerina in NYC, having just been chosen for the part of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. Her entire life has been ballet. She has no friends. She lives with her mother, who is a piece of work herself. She has kept her her daughter completely under her wing, making sure she gets the dance opportunities she herself lost when she got pregnant. Nina's bedroom is still pink and babyish and full of stuffed animals. Her mother falls asleep watching her.

Slowly we realize that Nina's at war within herself. She sees a twin of herself in strange places- a disappearing flash that we soon realize is in her head. We discover that she scratches herself and picks at the skin around her cuticles bloody when she's stressed. She wants to be the perfect dancer. That's all she lives for, all she thinks about and dreams about.

Enter another ballerina, played by Mila Kunis, who is after Nina's role. She starts playing with Nina's head, encouraging her to try things she has never tried before. She begins messing with Nina's already messed-up,uptight, frigid world. And then it really starts getting interesting. The first half was slow. The second half was really good. She can dance the part of the white swan beautifully, but will she ever be able to dance the part of the black swan?

Natalie Portman was really, really good. She did all the dancing. She's a terrific actress, she portrayed this obsessed, lost girl beautifully. And what an ending!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Put On Your Travelin' Shoes: SEATTLE

Just two days here to check out as much as I could, and much of one day was reserved for a beautiful wedding. I love this city!

When I left for Seattle, the 10-day forecast was for rain...every single day. But when I looked out my 7th floor window Sunday morning - my first day ever in Seattle, Washington - the sun was shining brightly, people were out and walking about, and I could clearly see Mt. Rainier in the distance. Wow.

Just outside the Marriott Waterfront is an elevator that goes up about seven flights - and lets you out on the edge of Pike's Market, one of the major toruist draws in Seattle. Streets go up and down hills that in many ways remind me of San Francisco!

After roaming through the fish stalls, jewelry makers, flower and vegetable venders, and incredibly diverse stands - hundreds of them - I discovered an information booth. James, its friendly, funny proprietor, directed me to my next few stops and helped me nail down a couple of the important things I wanted to do the next day.

First, after walking through Rocky Mountain Chocolate and out the door on the far end, I found myself in an indoor "mall." Across the hall was UNDERCOVER QUILTS. A wonderful store, small, great fabrics, samples, patterns.

Pike Place Chowder had many choices...too many I finally chose the 4-cup sampler. My favorite? The clam chowder. A close second was the seared scallop chowder. The smoked salmon was quite tasty (it appeared full of capers, I've always avoided them before, but they worked just fine). The 4th - recommended by the server - was my least favorite, the seafood bisque. I sat in a window facing the alley where an aged, long-haired, gap-toothed singer-guitarist entertained. I couldn't hear him, but he was fun to watch.

Then on through Cost Plus to a hidden elevator in the very rear corner. Funky. Up to the second floor, down a deserted outside corridor to discover a very cool shop, So Much Yarn. Small, first class yarns. Added a couple of reds to my collection, since I'm into making Christmas stockings right now.

Back to the hotel for the wedding. Lovely. Fun. Happy. Mazel Tov Alyssa and Dan! I'm so glad I could be here for this!

Monday morning walked up the hill....up....up....and up more, 'til I hit Westlake Center, a three-story complex of retail shops with the Seattle monorail and a large multicultural food court as the uppermost destination. Spaghetti and meatballs for breakfast, now that's my idea of perfection!

The monorail, originally built for the 1962 World's Fair, delivered me nonstop to th Seattle Center, which houses museums, gardens, a merry-go-round, and the Space Needle. I spent a couple of hours checking out the exhibits at the EMP (Experience Music Project), spending lots of time on the history and music of Jimi Hendrix. Wow. I didn't make it to Renton, where he's buried, but sure got a great taste of him at this classy museum. It also houses the Science Fiction Museum, but I'll save that for another visit. Because there WILL be another visit. The building itself is something to nothing you've ever seen before.

By the return trip on the monorail it was drizzling pretty steadily, and I walked east for a few blocks, ending up at Pacific Place, Barnes & Noble, and the movie theater, where I took in a screening of Black Swan. After a fantastic dinner at Bell Street Diner, seated in a poinsettia and candlelit booth right on the edge of the waterfront, I headed back to the Marriott and the packing that awaited me.

I loved Seattle. I must come back.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Of Thee I Sing - Barack Obama

A Letter to My Daughters
Illustrated by Loren Long
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 5
Endpapers: Medium blue

"Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?
How the sound of your feet
running from afar
brings dancing rhythms to my day?
How you laugh
and sunshine spills into the room?"
I love the format of the book. I love the 2-page illustrations on the title page. And it continues -- on the left page he asks a question and on the facing pages answers the question, using a special famous American from our history. He talks about Georgia O'Keeffe, Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, Sitting Bull, Billie Holiday, Helen Keller, Maya Lin, Jane Addams, MLK, Jr., Neil Armstrong, Cesar Chavez, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington. The last 2-page spread shows the kids that have been included along the way - the famous people as children, and all sorts of different kids of every ethnicity. This page would make a lovely poster!

"Have I told you that they are all a part of you?
Have I told you that you are one of theml
and that you are the future?
And have I told you that I love you?"
This is a wonderful book - written by our president for his daughters and all the kids of America. And I've got to say - our president is a terrific writer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Christmas, David - David Shannon

Blue Sky Press (Scholastic) 2010
32 pgs.
Rating: 4
Endpapers: Red

Poor David - especially at Christmastime! He can't do anything he wants, and even indulges in a bit of naughtiness (including, it appears, peeing his name in the snow). However, it's only in his dreams that he's rewarded with a lump of coal - Christmas morning is quite lucrative for him.

Filled with humor and bright Christmas colors, It's Christmas, David, is hilarious. (NOTE: I can't stand his pointy, gapped teeth. Yuck, they look rotten and lessen his appeal.)

This is the fourth "No David" book after 1998's No David, then David gets in Trouble and David Goes to School.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Kitten: Home at Last - Robin Pulver

Paintings by Layne Johnson
Albert Whitman & Co., 2010
32 pages
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Spilled milk with paw prints and broken cookies

"The stars still shone b right when Santa arrived home from his most important journey of the year.: And he brought with him a cute little abandoned kitten. He named her Cookie. But when he greeted Mrs. Claus with achoos, she reminded him that he was allergic to cats.

Well, after a bit of sleuthing, they found the perfect home for Cookies. And the part I liked best -- they got the sleigh out for another quick trip, only needed Comet and Blitzen because it was a light load -- and Mrs. Claus accompanied him!

Great illustrations with a ho ho ho Santa and really cutie-pie kitten.

Friday, December 10, 2010

MOVIE - Fair Game

Excellent - Entertaining AND educating
Limited Release 11-5-10
PG-13 (1:48)
12/9/10 at El Con with Sheila & Ronnie
RT: 80% Flixter: 72% cag: 93%
Director: Doug Liman
Naomi Watts, Sean Pen

This was the real-life story of Valeri Plame, the CIA agent whose covert CIA cover was blown by the WHITE HOUSE and her husband, Joe Wilson.

My friend Sheila, a wonderful writer, tells about this much more eloquently than I ever could. She's begun a great blog of her thoughts, and you can read her review here. Please do! It's great.

78. Matched - Ally Condie

Dutton Books, 2010
HC $17.99
369 pgs.
for: Young Adults
Rating: 4

This was very The Giver-ish. And since The Giver is one of my all-time favorite books, I totally enjoyed mulling over the way life is in this futuristic science fiction novel.

People in Cassia's society have long, healthy lives. Their "perfect" jobs are chosen for them, as is their mate. Usually matches are people that live in a different city, people that are chosen specifically for each other, and they see each other for the first time at a special ceremony on a monitor. But Cassia is matched to her lifelong best friend, Xander. What could be more wonderful?

In a society where choices are made for everyone, very few balk at them. It's too easy to be taken away, to disappear. There's lots of underlying fear of the white-coated Officials. Meals are delivered, dishes are taken away to a cleaning facility. You own nothing that you covet. One artifact from the past is all you can have...and some have not even that. You wear pants and shirts that are all the same, the dull colors showing your age or occupation. You are assigned your abode. Food is nourishing and blah. On your 80th birthday, you die. You've lived a good life. And heaven forbid you discover you're drawn to someone other than the person you're matched to. It's unthinkable, unheard of.

So we're there when Cassia loses her beloved grandfather on his 80th birthday, and we watch as she discovers there's another young man that she's very drawn to. Dilemmas. Lots to think about. And, of course, a sequel to follow. We're left so far up in the air that we'll really splat if we fall.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

77. Nothing to Lose - Lee Child

#12 Jack Reacher
Audio read by Dick Hill
Random House Audio, 2008
11 unabridged cds ($44.95)
14 hours
432 pages
Rating: 3.5 (a bit tedious in places)

Jack Reacher is certainly an interesting character. He is homeless, cocky, loves the way he lives, and has a certain code that he lives by. He carries no wallet, an ATM card, and knowledge of numbers and the way the body works that he can throw someone an elbow, placed just right, and incapacitate them...maim them...or even kill them, if he desires. He can figure his way out of all sorts of dilemmas. He's quite uncanny. And unbelievable, sure, but is that why you'd read these thrillers, for reality? Don't think so. He also has a way of getting involved in capers that make the reader ponder questions about the U.S. government and what's REALLY going on.....

In this novel, Reacher is traveling from one corner of the country to another...from Calais, Maine to San Diego, CA. He travels by hitchhiking, by bus, by walking. He is dropped off in Hope, Colorado and discovers there's no public transportation to continue west, so he begins the 15+ mile walk toward the next town, Despair, Colorado. No cars travel along this road, and he ends up walking the entire distance. What he gets to is a town that wants him out, gone, bye-bye. And of course, him being Jack Reacher, he wonders why and what's going on. We're soon to find out.

A hotel in Hope becomes his home for the next week or so, and a female cop becomes his "helper" and confidante. Well, confidante to a certain point, he always keeps some things to himself. And what they discover is scary, both unbelievable and believable, and a good tale involving the government, the war in Iraq, and even touches on the lives of guys that are being asked to return to Iraq for duty over and over again.

I enjoyed listening to this story, although the next Reacher novel I have I think I'm going to read to see if my take on the guy and his personality changes.

76. Solomon's Oak - Jo-Ann Mapson

2010, Bloomsbury
371 pgs.
For: adults
Rating: 4

I remember my friend, Carol, talking about Jo-Ann Mapson, so when I was this sitting on the "New Books" shelf at the library, I decided to try it. Thanks, Carol!

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the setting, which is in the farmlands east of Monterey, California. I enjoyed the characters, although I couldn't quite get into the protagonists head, although Mapson tried really hard. I am not an animal lover and this is a book about animal lovers....horses, goats, and dogs, particularly. However, I didn't mind it at all, and enjoyed learning bout the different personalities of each.

Three people with emotional wounds are brought together. The protagonist, a farm woman who lost her dearly beloved husband of 20-or-so years unexpectedly the previous year, a New Mexican crime lab photographer that has been injured in a shootout and must learn to live with intense pain - physically and emotionally - for the rest of his life, and a teenage girl with a huge chip on her shoulder and even more loss. Her sister disappeared four years before, and that led to her mother's death and her father's abandonment. Whoa!

The story is well told, though almost repetitious in places. However, it went fast and was entertaining and made me think....deeply. The widow, Glory Solomon, is coping with money problems and begins a small business holding weddings and the reception at the chapel her husband had built, and in their barn. The cop, Joseph Vigil, is making a photographic studies of trees, and the teenager, Juniper McGuire, complete with multiple piercings and even a tattoo, is quickly put to work helping with catering the weddings and lots of farm chores.

These people, and people like them, are everywhere. Out there. In our world. Trying to live with the heartbreak and anxiety and unfairness of life. Parts of each of them are in many of us. It doesn't hurt to be reminded of this once in awhile.

2nds Challenge 2011

This one will probably have more books read than the 1st in a Series Challenge - but we'll see! Again, Few More Pages is hosting. All details can be found there.
There are four levels to choose from in this challenge:

~Just a spoonful - Read 3 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
~A few more bites - Read 6 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
~A full plate - Read 12 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
~All you can eat - Read 20 books (or more) that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.

You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.

Let's Full Plate it, shall we?


1st in a Series Challenge 2011

Woo hoo....what new series will I discover in the year to come? This challenge comes from A Few More Pages. Fun~ I wonder if I'll end up being a Series Expert? I'd better sign up for Series Lover, just in case that, as usual, my aspirations are higher than reality dictates.

There are four levels for this challenge:

Series Novice: Read 3 books that are the first in any series.
Series Lover: Read 6 books that are the first in any series.
Series Expert: Read 12 books that are the first in any series.
Series Fanatic: Read 20 books that are the first in any series.
You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts


Monday, December 6, 2010

Off the Shelf Challenge 2011

I've got to do this one....I've got to read some of the books sitting around my piles on the floor, beside the bed, on the many bookshelves....waiting to be read! My list is long, and I'm anxious to read them all, but there's always a new one calling my name. So let me try to deplete at least a few of the books on my book shelves. (If only I didn't love the library and bookstores so much! !)

How do you choose which book to read next? I've got it! I will put the name of each of the following into a "hat." I'll pull the name and that'll be the one I read. How's that sound? Adventurous? Stupid?

This one comes from Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges.

Off The Shelf Challenge is a reading challenge that requires you to only read books that you already own at the start of the challenge. You can't add books to your list that you buy between the starting and ending dates of the challenge. I plan to do this challenge every year. Each year I will try and do a different level of the challenge. The levels go as follows:

Tempted - Choose 5 books to read
Trying - Choose 15 books to read
Making A Dint - Choose 30 books to read
On A Roll - Choose 50 books to read
Flying Off - Choose 75 books to read
And for the more avid readers:

Hoarder - Choose 76-125 books to read
Buried - Choose 126-200 books to read

I'm going to have to tweak some of the rules, 'cause there's NO WAY that I will be reading only these book. Wouldn't even want to.

There are actually 95 books/authors on my list. That makes he a hoarder. Ha! That's only the tip of the iceberg.....

I'll probably end up being Tempted, but Trying or even Making a Dint (isn't that supposed to be DENT?) would be mucho better.

My Very Own 2011 TBR List

(My MYSTERY shelves are the most full, with many titles for each author. Therefore I’m just going to include the author’s name, that way I can find the next one in a series in line to read OR another series by that author. Makes sense to me! )

Andrews, Sarah
Beaton, M. C.
Bloom (Morticians’ Daughter)
Boyle, Gerry
Brokaw, Charles
Browning, Sinclair
Burke, Jan
Child, Lee (Gone Tomorrow)
Christie, Pamela
Coben, Harlan
Coel, Margaret
Cole, David
Connelly, Michael
Connor, Beverly
Coulter, Catherine
Crais, Robert
Crider, Bill (Of All Sad Words)
Dunning, John
Fairstein, Linda
Fielding, Joy
Fowler, Earlene
Fox, Kathryn
Francis, Dick
French (In the Woods)
Gagnon, Michelle
Gardiner, Lisa
Graham, Heather
Graves, Sara
Greenlaw (Fisherman’s Bend)
Gregory & Tintori (Book of Names)
Gruley (Starvation Lake)
Gunn, Elizabeth
Guilford (The Thousand)
Handler, (The Cold Blue Blood)
Hewson, David
Hoag, Tami
Isaacs, Susan
Jackson, Lisa
Johnson (The Cold Dish)
Lewis, Elizabeth Bruen
Lowell, Elizabeth
Lutz (The Spellman Files)
MacInerny (Murder on the Rocks)
McGarrity, Michael
Miller, Susan Cummins
Mina, Denise
Mosse, Kate (Labyrinth)
Parker, Barbara
Perry, Thomas
Reichs, Kathy
Riordan, Rick
Rollins, James
Sandford, John
Satterthwaite, Walter
Scottolini, Lisa
Sefton, Maggie
Silva, Daniel
Spencer-Fleming, Julia
Steifel, Vicki
Talton, Jon
Tapply, Willima G.
Thornton, Betsy
Thurlo, Aimee & David
Wait, Lea
Webb, Betty
Winthrop (Island Justice)
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz (Shadow of the Wind)

Other Adult Fiction

Atkinson, Kate
Backer (American Fuji)
Barry (Map of True Places)
Binchy (Nights of Rain and Stars)
Chevalier (Virgin Blue)
King (Dust of 100 Dogs)
Kingsolver, Barbara (The Lacuna)
Kostova (Swan Thieves)
Letts, Billie
Morgenroth (They Did It with Love)
Stockett (The Help)
Strout, Elizabeth (Olive Kittredge)

Nonfiction, heaven help me!
Moretnesen (Three Cups of Tea)

Young Adult and Kid’s

Antieau (Broken Moon)
Barnhouse (Book of the Maidservant)
De la Cruz (Keys to the Repository)
Greene (Chasing the Jaguar)
Les Becquets (Season of Ice) Maine
Pelligrino (Journey of Dreams)
Schmidt, Gary (Trouble, Wednesday Wars)
St. John (White Giraffe)
Werlen (Impossible)
Wittlinger (This Means War)

Cathy’s Key

2011 Outdo Yourself Book Challenge

The Book Vixen is hosting the 2011 Outdo Yourself Book Challenge. She, like me, wanted to read 100 books this year but is falling short. This challenge is to, in 2011, read more books than you read in 2010. Works for me!

The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2011 than you did in 2010. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.

Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books
Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books
I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Okay, here's my take on this: "Getting My Heartrate Up" Read 1-5 more books than last year. That means I have to read at least _____ books, for a total in 2011 of _____ !

And even further stretch would be to attain the "Out of Breath" level, which would mean I'd have to read at least _____books, for a total of ______. Oh my.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What's in a Name 4 Challenge

Hmm, this one seems will take a bit of reasearch, which I love...checking out lots and lots of titles at the library, at the bookstores, and on the web. What's in a Name 4 is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. I like the "button" for it, too. So, in the next year, I have to read one of each of the following:

1. A book with a number in the title: First to Die, Seven Up, Thirteen Reasons Why

2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: Diamond Ruby, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Opal Deception

3. A book with a size in the title: Wide Sargasso Sea, Small Wars, Little Bee

4. A book with travel or movement in the title: Dead Witch Walking, Crawling with Zombies, Time Traveler's Wife

5. A book with evil in the title: Bad Marie, Fallen, Wicked Lovely

6. A book with a life stage in the title: No Country for Old Men, Brideshead Revisited, Bog Child
The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

2011 Graphic Novels Challenge

Many of my students are reading the "Bones" books by Jeff Smith. I have another graphic novel, Smile, sitting in my suitcase as we speak. More and more are coming out, so this is the perfect way to get my feet wet with graphic novels. The Graphic Novel Challenge blog is where to get started.

The challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011. You can start anytime you want to especially if you want to start early.

The level of participation: Beginner (3 comics or graphic novels), Intermediate (3-10 books), or Expert (10+)
Overlaps with other challenges is definitely okay
Re-reads count
Feel free to post your list at any time

I'll shoot for BEGINNER status:

Criminal Plots Reading Challenge 2011

Okay, here's my first challenge for next year. I like the criteria, and it will allow me to search for some new stuff to add to my reading choices. I love mysteries, murder mysteries especially. So I've got to face the fact that I can't force myself to read medieval historical fictions or memoirs if, in the little amount of time I have to read, I choose....mysteries.

This is from The Criminal Plots Reading Challenge website.

The Inaugural CRIMINAL PLOTS Reading Challenge

Welcome to my first ever Criminal Plots reading challenge! I hemmed and hawed over whether to add another reading challenge to the book blogging sphere, but with some help and encouragement from very good friends, I decided to take the plunge and here we are with Criminal Plots.

What I would hope for people who participate to get out of this challenge is exposure to the crime fiction genre. I know that is a bad word to some people, but really, it's nothing more than a classification. Authors have been breaking the genre rules for years now and even those who write within the guidelines write some pretty fantastic stuff. And if you're a crime fiction aficionado, I hope this challenge motivates you to read some books you've been meaning to read and haven't gotten to or it encourages you to read something you haven't tried before.

Rules of the Road:

So, what's involved in this challenge you ask? It isn't too difficult. It involves reading six books throughout 2011 (January 1 through December 31, 2011). One book should be read that fits into each of the following categories:

1. A book by a new to you author who's blurbed a book you enjoyed. So check out the cover of a crime fiction book you've enjoyed and see who blurbed that book and is also an author you've never read before.

2. A book that has been made into a movie. It doesn't have to be a movie you've seen but it can be. The book, however, should be one you haven't read before. (Examples: MYSTIC RIVER, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, LONDON BOULEVARD, HOSTAGE, etc.)

3. A book with a protagonist opposite your own gender. So if you're female, the protagonist should be male; if you're male the protagonist should be female.

4. A book set outside the country in which you live.

5. A book that's the first in a new-to-you series.

6.A book by a 2011 debut author.

Sounds interesting. I'll go for it, I just have to remember to post whenever I finish a book....I'm not good at remembering that at all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

MOVIE - Love and Other Drugs

Nothing like what I expected
Released 11-24-10
R (1:53)
Viewed 12/4/10 at the Orleans in Las Vegas
RT: 44 Flixter: 61 cag: 85
Director: Edward Zwick

Jack Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway

Great acting. Beautiful naked bodies. A story that was a bit unexpected. Weepy. Happy. Upbeat...but depressing. Lots of emotions.

I was surprised by some of the revelations, so if you haven't seen it and want to be surprised, read no more. Gyllenhaal plays a medical school drop-out that becomes a Pfizer drug rep Lothario. He hops from woman to woman until he meets Hathaway, who has discovered she has early-onset Parkinson's disease. He pursues. She resists. He continues pursuing. She fall. They have some time together. Reality hits, they part. And then..... Okay, so it's somewhat a typical story, but the Parkinson's twist is incredibly interesting...and tough.....especially since my own mother has Parkinson's......

Enjoyed it. But I'd enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal watching the grass grow. Yup.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MOVIE - Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1

This part of the book dragged for me, the movie certainly didn't!
Released 11-19-10
PG- 13 (2:27)
12-2-10 with Sheila at El Con
RT: 79% Flixter: 88% cag:
from the book by J. K. Rowling
Part 2 coming this summer (I think it's all finished and ready to go.)
Director: David Yates

I liked this movie much more than I thought I would. The first half of the book dragged for me. The movie was really well done, interesting, thoughtful. The setting was magnificent - from the oceanside to the deep forest. I missed Hogwarts, though.

There were some parts that were quite memorable. When Hermione reads from Beedle the Bard there is a cut paper, shadow box-like diorama that is quite captivating and the perfect way to accompany the story.

Then there is a scene where Harry and Hermione are really uptight, wary, scared, waiting in the tent in the middle of the forest, and they take off the Horcrux and dance to a song on Ron's radio. They laugh, they show the deep friendship they share. It's quite wonderful, actually.

And then there's wonderful Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. She nails this part, she's so good, I giggle whenever she appears. Bravo!

There were a few places that were ... fuzzy. When the three friends first wait it out at the safe house, Harry finds a piece of paper that leads them to their next (actually, first, I think) clue. I remember from the book how he found it under a dresser in Sirius' room, but it skips from them being in the room to sitting around a table reading the note. If I hadn't read -- and remembered -- this part of the book, I would have been scratching my head. I hate parts that are just....weird. This was. Oh well.

Love the movie. I actually enjoyed this one more than the book!