Monday, December 18, 2006

Challenge Picks

I've made my challenge picks...

For the Chunkster Challege, I've settled on a few books I've been meaning to read and just never have and one book I've already read but have needed an excuse to reread because it is just that good :)

1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - This has been in the TBR pile for ages, I don't know why I always pass over it.

2. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe - Got this one as a Christmas gift 2 years ago, about time I read it.

3. The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald - Simply because I've heard such good things about it.

4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - I only got through book 4, so this is a must.

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Have already read this one, more than once I might add, but am looking forward to rereading again.

For the Winter Classics Challenge, this is what I've chosen.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I'm shocked myself that I have still never read this!

2. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - This has been in my TBR pile for quite some time.

3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - I might be cheating a little with this one. I'm already reading it in daily installments from Daily Lit.

4. The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf - Never read anything by her but always meant to.

5. Bram Stoker's Dracula - This one was on my list of R.I.P. Challenge books that I never got to, so I am giving it another try.

Now I just need to figure out what I'll post about for the G.I.F.T. Challenge. Think there may be a few more challenges floating around out there, but maybe I should just start with these and see how far I get :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday Madness

Long time, no post. Seems I've been missing out on a few challenges.
The Chunkster Challenge,

the G.I.F.T. Challenge,

and the Winter Classics Challenge.

Since I have yet to finish any of the challenges I've signed up for, I am determined that I will finish at least one of these! Still need to sit down and figure out what I'm going to read/write for each.

Despite the holiday madness, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of good books recently, each of which deserve mention here. One Mississippi by Mark Childress was wonderful. I was captivated by the first page and remained captivated until the last page.

From Publisher's Weekly: "When his father is relocated from Indiana to Minor, Miss., in 1973, 16-year-old Daniel Musgrove finds himself a classic fish out of water. At Minor High, the Midwestern teenager finds a kindred spirit in wiseacre Tim Cousins, whose motto is "Everything is funny all the time." The two indulge their love of Sonny and Cher, get recruited by a local Baptist church to perform in an amateur musical called Christ! and endure the bullying of football star Red Martin. When, on prom night, the boys accidentally run over Arnita Beecham, a beautiful, popular black girl, the boys flee, letting Red take the fall. Arnita wakes from her coma believing she's white and promptly falls for Daniel—which makes Tim extremely jealous and puts their coverup at risk. Childress's comic tone and well-written adolescent confusion make his late shift into darker territory jarring, and readers might not follow him all the way to his violent destination."

Next up was Francine Prose's A Changed Man. I'd actually never read any of her books before, even though I seem to own several of them.

From Publisher's Weekly: Prose (Blue Angel; The Lives of the Muses) tests assumptions about class, hatred and the possibility of change in her latest novel, a good-natured satire of liberal pieties, the radical right and the fund-raising world. The "changed man" of the title is Vincent Nolan, a 32-year-old tattooed ex-skinhead who appears one morning in the New York offices of World Brotherhood Watch, a foundation headed by Meyer Maslow, a Holocaust survivor. Vincent declares that he has had a personal conversion (never mind that it was triggered by a heavy dose of Ecstasy) and wants to work with the foundation to "save guys like me from becoming guys like me." Meyer takes Vincent on faith—and convinces Bonnie Kalen, the foundation's fund-raiser, to put Vincent up in the suburban home she shares with her two sons, Max, 12, and Danny, 16. Prose tears into this unusual premise with the piercing wit that has become her trademark. Vincent becomes a media darling of sorts, and everyone wants a piece of him: the liberal donors and the television talk shows; Meyer, a figurehead so celebrated that even his close friends kiss up to him; and maybe even divorced Bonnie, who finds herself drawn to Vincent's charms. In more hostile pursuit of Vincent is his cousin Raymond, a member of the Aryan Resistance Movement, from which Vincent stole a truck, drugs and cash. In these circumstances, can a man truly change? And what is change—not only for Vincent but for the other principals as well? Prose doesn't shy away from exposing the vanities and banalities behind the drive to do good. Fortunately, her characters are sturdy enough to bear the weight of the baggage she piles on them. Her lively skewering of a whole cross-section of society ensures that this tale hits comic high notes even as it probes serious issues."

Back with more later after I've made my picks for each of the ongoing challenges!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye warm weather

Now that all of the leaves have dropped, autumn is officially over in my mind. Which means the start of another long New England winter. The kind that starts the first week of December and seems to go on until May. You'd think that after living all 31 of my years in the northeast, I'd be immune to the cold by now, but that is not the case. Although I do think I'd take a New England winter over the hot, humid, oppressive heat of say, southern Florida. Humid weather does not bode well for good hair days. Not that hat hair is much better.

I started thinking about the long winter ahead after seeing some lovely summer time pictures we forgot to download from our digital camera. So I decided to dedicate this post to all things warm weather like. First is a vacation picture of the beautiful harbor in Camden, Maine (this is the town with the beautiful library, natural ampitheather, and 4 bookstores - one of which is, or was, selling the entire Trixie Belden collection in near perfect condition; should have snatched them up when I had the chance). Actually, this picture could be Rockland, Maine, not Camden. Doesn't matter. Both are adorable.

Next are pictures from Edith Wharton's estate The Mount. One of the house itself and one of the amazing gardens behind the house. Must get back there again soon. Seeing her personal library and the ongoing restoration project of her estate was incredible.

And then we have a picture of our beautiful rose bushes that, much to my astonishment, bloomed for the second year in a row. Gardening is not my forte. I like the idea of it, but don't have the patience for it. I did manage to keep a potted tomato plant and some lavendar alive this year though, so maybe I'll rethink the whole gardening thing next year. I planted some bulbs this past weekend - if they come up in the spring then I'll definitely give gardening another chance.

My two buddies lounging on our porch is the next shot. They like to keep me company when I read. And when I sleep. And when I am trying to brush my teeth, or make dinner, or do work on the computer. You get the picture. Whoever said cats are solitary creatures have never met my cats. While they can't stand each other, they love people and like to be the center of attention at all times. Especially Jack (the black one), who essentially rules the household. This picture makes me laugh, because for two cats that despise each other, they always seem to lounge or sleep next to one another. Go figure. I think about 5 minutes after this picture was taken, there was a flurry of activity in which punches were thrown, necks were bitten, and faces scratched, all resulting in what looked like an explosion of cat fur, followed by each of them retreating into separate corners to lick their wounds and strategize their next attack.

So with this post, I bid warm weather adieu. Time to settle in for a long winter in which I will be sure to keep myself surrounded by piles of books at all times!

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Reading Challenge

Since I was delinquent with the last reading challenge (meaning I did not read a single book on my RIP list), I decided to partake in the Winter Reading Challenge to try and redeem myself. I am even going to make one of my RIP reads one of my winter reads so I can say I read at least one of my RIP books this year. This winter reading challenge will be good for me. I am forever buying books that line my shelves which end up taking a backseat to whatever I have checked out of the library. Now is my opportunity to read some of those that have been waiting so patiently!

Need to make this a short post, but for those of you that like young adult fiction, I just finished Leaving Jetty Road by Rebecca Burton and thought it was excellent.

More to come soon...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Time to post at last

I'm back. After a very busy 2 weeks, I am finally finding time to post again. I spent most of last week in NYC for work. Software training to be exact. Wish I could say it was exciting, but it was rather dull actually. However, I did have my evenings free and I made the most of them.

First stop for me was the Strand bookstore. Where in the basement, they have shelves and shelves of hardcover review copies, marked 50% off. That's right, 50% off. And they seemed to have everything. EVERYTHING. I had to limit myself to only three though as my suitcase was already heavy enough. The three I picked were Jennifer Weiner's The Guy Not Taken, Steven Carter's Famous Writers School, and Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris.

The next night, I was in a fairly rotten mood after another long day of useless training and had about another 4 hours of work to look forward to that evening when back in my hotel room. So I decided to take myself out for a nice dinner, paid for by my company I might add. As I was wandering around, I stumbled across The Library Hotel (I mentioned this in a previous post), and noticed their restaurant Branzini, had a rather appealing menu. So I sat my tired butt down for a tasty meal of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and winter vegetables, and two cranberry-apple martinis to wash it all down. Feeling slightly less moody after that, I was better prepared to face the mountain of work waiting for me back at the hotel.

And finally after a third full day of training I caught a flight home and fell into bed. Have been unwinding this weekend, trying to catch up on some reading among other things. My husband took me to dinner and a movie yesterday to celebrate my b'day and presented me with the most exquisite, delicate, and antique Edwardian pendant necklace which I have not taken off since I first put it on. Slept with it on and showered with it too - in fact I don't think it will ever leave my neck :) We saw The Departed by the way, and if you haven't already seen it, I strongly urge you to go do so. I'd never been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio before this movie, but I am now. He was great, along with Alec Baldwin (one of my favorites), Matt Damon (another one of my favorites), Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg.

Speaking of movies, I am anxiously awaiting
Little Children to come to a movie theater near me. I've liked a lot of Tom Perotta's work, but this was by far my favorite.

And to wrap things up, still reading
The Devil in the White City (and thoroughly enjoying it), could not get through Sarah Dunant's Transgressions (disturbing to the point where it was just creepy), and still have yet to pick up one of my RIP reads. I obviously will not have any RIP reads finished by Tuesday, but I still plan on getting to them, preferably sometime during the remainder of 2006!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Airport Reading

Homecoming weekend has arrived at the University of Delaware, home of the Fightin' Blue Hens. I'll be making the trek to visit old friends and college roommates. Check out YoUDee to the left - is that not a cool mascot or what?

Being a typical bookworm I am actually looking forward to sitting in the airport later tonight - perfect place to catch up on my reading! I've already got my stash lined up. I decided to travel with 4 books (even though I know there's no way I am going to get 4 books read this weekend - I like to have options though, you know?) The lucky winners are Transgressions by Sarah Dunant (must have this one read for a book club meeting next week), The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (finally I am getting around to my RIP books), The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (heard him speak at the 2005 ALA conference, very funny guy), and of course my guilty pleasure 12 Sharp by Janet Evanovich (her books actually make me laugh out loud when reading them).

Next week, it's another airport as I make my way to NYC for business. What to bring then? Hmmm...I am not one of those people that will take advantage of the downtime to plug away at more work on my laptop. Nope, I take advantage of every precious minute to read my books. The work will still be there when the plane lands. Although I would probably never say that to my boss :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Need a vacation

Ugh. This week at work has been time to attend to my blog this past week. Not only am I behind on posting, but behind on my reading also. After three days of furiously programming for work, my fingers are now numb from all of the typing, I can only turn my neck in one direction (from stress and sitting in the same uncomfortable position while programming for hours on end), my head is pounding, and my eyes are a lovely shade of bloodshot.

It is also becoming more and more clear to me that I will not finish my Autumn Challenge books in time...I haven't started a single one of them. My goal is to finish one, maybe two. My pile of books to be reviewed is growing exponentially so that leaves me with little time for other reading (although I have enjoyed everything I've reviewed so far so that's a plus). In fact my first two reviews are finally posted. You can check them out here and here.

I also recently discovered The Library Hotel in NYC. I must get there some day and the rest of you will want to also once you check out their website. Looks divine.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Banned Books Week

It's that time of year again - Banned Books Week! Here is the list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990 - 2000. The most frequently challenged books of the 21st century are:

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
7. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
10. Forever by Judy Blume

Take a look at some other statistics on the American Library Association website. I've read many of the books on the most frequently challenged lists and it's depressing to think that some kids may not have the opportunity to read these books - at least not until adulthood when they can make their own reading material choices.

On another note, I recently made a few purchases at and am eagerly awaiting their arrival.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write ThemReading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

The Emperor's ChildrenThe Emperor's Children by Claire Messud (I've heard great things about this one)

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in BooksLeave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan (After reading Danielle's recent post about this one I had to check it out for myself. I think the title says it all :)

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History
by Lewis Buzbee (Ok, this one I just had to have - no ifs, ands, or buts about it)

The IllusionistAnd finally, if you haven't already seen The Illusionist, go see it. My husband and I saw it last night and it is by far one of the best movies I have seen in a while. I loved everything about it - the time period, cinematography, music score, etc. Plus Edward Norton is pretty easy on the eyes :) It is based on a short story that I need to track down. Overall, I thought the movie was very well done.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rocky Balboa (not the one you're thinking of) and other entertainment

You'll have to excuse my post today. I've included a picture of my cat Rocky (as in Rocky Balboa) for no other reason than I thought it was cute. If life were only that simple for all of us. When having a bad day (usually the result of our other cat Jack beating the crap out of him), Rocky just curls up in an old kitchen bowl he's recently claimed ownership of (he's made it clear that there is no chance in hell I am getting this bowl back) and burrows. Or he pees on the wall. I think the burrowing is cuter for obvious reasons. So there you have it. I apologize in advance for future pictures of Rocky and Jack you may see on this blog. This is what we childless people do - obsess over our pets. I usually try and keep this blog to book talk, but today I just couldn't help myself.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, back to books. I've finished my first official review (although not posted yet) of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and gave it a 5 out of 5. I loved it. Loved it. So for all of those bloggers that recommended it on your sites - thank you! I don't know that I would have come across it otherwise. I just got her newest one New Moon out of the library and am very much looking forward to it.

What I really wanted to post more than anything today was a negative review and the reception it received by the publisher who requested the review. The reviewer gave an honest critique after which she was bombarded with scathing emails from the publisher. You really have to read this - it is so appalling it is entertaining. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Book reviews coming to a blog near you

It's been a busy week, hence no posts until now. Trying to take advantage of those last few days of summer weather. Kailana - here is that picture I have been promising you :) Just a small sample of what I bought at Barnes and Noble during their classics sale. I was there again yesterday, this time buying a copy of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I've been drooling over this one for weeks, so when I got my 46% membership discount as a promotion for the new Barnes and Noble Recommends, I finally broke down and bought my copy.

I haven't gotten very far with my Autumn Reading Challenge books, but I hope to remedy that soon. I did read a few stories from Gaskell's Gothic Tales, but that's about it. I need to get a move on though...I am now a proud reviewer for Curled Up with a Good Book and Front Street Reviews. Still waiting for my first shipment of books to arrive, but I'll be sure to add links to my reviews here once they are posted. Payment is in free books by the way, so if you are someone that doesn't mind writing up a few paragraphs on something you've just read, might want to send your samples their way. Both were quick to respond.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ask the librarians at the New Yorker

For those of you that read The New Yorker, you'll find Emdashes to be of interest. The head librarians at The New Yorker now have a monthly column where they answer all things New Yorker related. Anyone can submit questions - it's pretty nifty and a blog worth checking out.

I also read about LibriVox in the New York Times recently...I had mentioned public domain books in an earlier post. LibriVox is making audiobooks public domain and available for download with the help of volunteers. Volunteers can record a solo reading or read collaboratively with other volunteers, each person taking certain chapters. I haven't downloaded any yet but admit I am curious. I would imagine that it's hit or miss depending on how you like a person's reading style, but there are bound to be several readers involved with the project that you can enjoy listening to. Might make that morning commute a little more bearable!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Downloading the Classics

I'll keep this one short, but wanted to draw your attention to an article my husband forwarded to me recently. Similar to Project Gutenberg, Google is now making thousands of classics available for downloading for free. Books whose copyrights have expired are considered public domain. Dickens, Shakespeare, and Dante are among those mentioned.

Could be worth a look...although there is something very appealing about an old-fashioned hardcover or paperback book that e-books just can't compete with. At least in my mind anyway :)

Autumn Reading Challenge

I just signed up for Carl V.'s 2006 RIP Autumn Reading Challenge and can't wait to get started. With Halloween only two months away, I've got some great spooky reading material lined up. The idea is to read five gothic, scary, or thriller type books during the months of September and October. There's a cool prize involved too. Here are my picks:

1. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
4. The Haunted Looking Glass edited by Edward Gorey
5. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

And I am also throwing in Sarah Dunant's Trangressions for good measure. I'll be reading that for a book club I belong to and I think it qualifies as a thriller.

This got me thinking more about mysteries I loved as a kid. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan (and still am) and loved Trixie Belden. I've recently begun collecting the old Nancy Drew books again and will move on to the Trixie Belden collection when I am done. If you were or still are a Nancy Drew fan, you'll want to check out The Nancy Drew Sleuth Unofficial Website. You'll find everything you ever wanted to know about the character, her creators, and the fictional town of River Heights. Check out the president's collection (extremely impressive) and past conference highlights (yes, there are annual conferences, though I have yet to attend one).

For more Nancy Drew tidbits and laughs, you'll also want to check out Chelsea Cain's parody Confessions of a Teenage Sleuth and Melanie Rehak's Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her.

Trixie Belden paraphernalia seems to be a little more elusive, although I did find a cute little mystery bookshop in Camden, Maine on a recent vacation that is selling the whole Trixie Belden paperback collection. May have to buy the owner out of those books :) Speaking of Camden, Maine, if you ever get a chance to visit, make sure to check out their gorgeous library and natural ampitheater (check out the photo gallery), overlooking the picturesque town and harbor. Pure heaven. Oh and did I mention that in addition to the amazing library and mystery bookshop, there are three other bookshops in town as well?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Classics buying frenzy and NYC bookstores

After reading about the Barnes and Noble classics sale on several blogs, I lost all reasoning capabilities and made a ridiculous amount of purchases. I've been reading here and there about those of you that may have bought say 8 or 9 books during this sale, or perhaps even 16 or 17, but I have bought a whopping 34 books. Usually I am pretty good about taking my little notepad into the bookstores I frequent and jotting down titles that look interesting. My library card gets a good workout every week, but this past week, my credit card put the library card to shame.

I will say though that those 34 books only cost me approximately $100 with shipping costs waived and my 10% membership discount. I could barely even buy two pairs of shoes for $100, so my feeling is that 34 books at that price is quite a deal! At least that is how I have rationalized it to my husband, who just shakes his head and laughs. Can't wait for the shipment to come in, the titles will make wonderful additions to my collection. Dracula, Emma, War and Peace (not sure if I will ever actually get through this, but figured I'd try), David Copperfield, The Count of Monte Cristo, Moonstone, Madame Bovary, just to name a few.

Also found out recently that I am being sent to NYC in October for work-related software training. And the training facility is only a mere 6 blocks from the main branch of the New York Public Library. And only 12 blocks from The Gotham City Book Mart! Think I know what I will be doing in my spare time. If you've got recommendations of bookstores I should hit while in town, send them my way. Although I haven't lived in NY for several years, NYC is the city of my birth, and I'm ok with the subway system (so no need to restrict me to mid-town). Many memories of visiting The Strand with my parents :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hollywood Librarian

For all of you librarian types out there, check out The Hollywood Librarian.

"The first of its kind, this film will show the realities of 21st century librarianship in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies."

No release date is set yet, but you can view a 5 minute trailer on the website. A sneak preview was also offered at the recent ALA conference in New Orleans. I wasn't able to make it to the conference this year, otherwise I would have been in that audience.

I've never had the pleasure of visiting this bookstore, but thought it's "A Continuous Reading of Don Quixote" a neat idea. Proceeds go to Behind the Book. The reading wraps up sometime today, but if you live in the NYC area, might be worth taking a walk or subway ride over.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

T.C. Boyle, John Cheever, and other tidbits

I recently picked up a copy of The Stories of John Cheever at my local used bookstore and placed it in my very large TBR pile. Since then I have picked it up multiple times with every intention of getting started, only to be distracted by another book, work, mischievous pets, bill paying, etc. During my car ride home from work on Thursday, I heard the following on NPR: On Learning to Appreciate John Cheever's Stories by T.C. Boyle. The Tortilla Curtain being one of my favorite books, I was immediately intrigued by what Boyle had to say. I particularly enjoyed the following quote:

"Few prose writers can touch Cheever for the painterly precision of his descriptions, and the reward of them too -- his characters, locked in the struggles of suburban and familial angst, regularly experience moments of transcendence and rebirth in nature."

Boyle's quote, combined with my retired-English teacher father's advice, after teaching for many years in those Westchester suburbs Cheever writes about in several of his stories, has convinced me to move Cheever's collection of short stories to the top of my TBR pile once again.

After reading Danielle's blog this week, I've been motivated by her to crack open some of those classics that I too have been acquiring, but have never made the time to read. Trips to the library this week have added The Count of Monte Cristo to my pile as well. I also picked up a copy of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I have The Moonstone on reserve. Next, I will be trying to get my hands on a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

While at the library, I also managed to find a copy of The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World, after reading about it on another blogger's site. I was very happy to see that The Boston Athenaeum made the list. I have been meaning to get there for months as it is within driving distance of my home. As soon as their weekend hours start up again this fall, I will be making that visit and hopefully purchasing a membership. The pictures in the book are amazing- I will probably buy my own copy just to have on display in my living room :)

Another book I came across this week was Read it and Eat: A Month-by-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus. Considering I am in two book clubs, and actually just hosted one last night, I grabbed this off the shelf for future menu ideas. A fun book, with a good selection of genres and recipes to accompany each month's selections. Perhaps another book I may want to own. Last night's book club read The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which begins in Lexington, Kentucky. If I had known about Read It and Eat sooner, maybe I would have served some Kentucky bourbon pecan pie, instead of my usual cheese and fruit platter and chocolate brownies. There's always next time I guess.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Latest reads and Edith Wharton

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander started out as a book I thought I could easily sink my teeth into, but about halfway through I started to lose interest. I so wanted to like the book too knowing that there are several more in the series. There is nothing better than finding an author or character you love and knowing that once you finish one book there is another to follow. Maybe I'll try Outlander again some day when there are fewer books in my TBR pile that I am eager to get to. But will that ever happen?

Running with Scissors was another one I read recently. I had seen the movie trailer and thought hmmm...with all of the hype the book has gotten I should read it before seeing the movie. It certainly was a book I could not put down- it was like watching a train wreck. You know you should look away, yet you can't. Now that I've read the book though, I'm not so sure I will go see the movie. The squalor Augusten Burroughs described living in while staying at the Finches house was nauseating. People not bathing, roaches everywhere, bizarre habits of Dr. Finch himself- such as his toilet readings (what the hell was that?), and most appalling of all- the good doctor's assistance in helping a 14 year old Augusten fake a suicide attempt so that he could avoid school and spend more time with his 33 year old boyfriend. And adults are supposed to be the responsible ones??

After Running with Scissors, I decided I needed something lighthearted and turned to Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. Being entertained by many of her previous books and hearing her speak (incredible woman btw), I thought her latest would be just what I needed to help me forget Running with Scissors. While not the upbeat novel that I thought it would be, Anybody Out There is still a charming story of the second youngest Walsh sister. ***Spoiler warning! Anna's attempts to connect with her dead husband Aidan through spiritual mediums is heartbreaking as she picks up the pieces of her life. Her outspoken sisters and slightly zany parents inject some humor into the novel and help make for a great read. With 200 pages left to go, I am already sure that this one will be circulated rapidly among my social circle.

Next up is a collection of short stories by John Cheever and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. After a recent visit to The Mount, I find myself on an Edith Wharton kick and have been rummaging used book stores for all of her works. If you've never been, her Lenox, Mass estate is worth the trip. Wharton's personal library collection was recently purchased by The Mount and brought back to her estate as part of the restoration. The gardens are beautiful and the estate's setting is idyllic.

Need to figure out what to take away with me this weekend. What would be a great read for a weekend of camping/white water rafting in the Maine wilderness? Any suggestions? I'm all ears.

Friday, July 28, 2006

More historical fiction

Well I finished The Other Boleyn Girl, and WOW is the word that comes to mind. It only took me three days to get through it- it was just that good. Even for those that don't have a strong interest in European history, this book is well worth your time. Excellent representation of facts, packaged into the juiciest of novels- complete with passion, intrigue, treason, and power obsessed courtiers during King Henry VIII's reign. After reading this one, I am eagerly awaiting its prequel, The Constant Princess, to arrive at my local library. In contrast to Philippa Gregory's depiction of Anne Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon was a lady of grace, sophistication, and loyalty. What was Henry thinking when he got rid of her for Anne??

After a very looong week of work, I'll be cracking open Diana Gabaldon's Outlander tonight at the suggestion of a friend. Seems to follow in the same vein as The Other Boleyn Girl in that it is another work of historical fiction. Hmmm...that seems to be my genre of interest lately.

Although I haven't come across any yet that have surpassed The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. Now that is a must read if there ever was one! Who knew cathedral building could be so interesting?

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Other Boleyn Girl

Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl has me captivated. I was hesitant to pick it up at first as I can go either way with period pieces, but I am finding the dialogue modern enough that following along is a breeze. I read the first 150 pages in a day and am looking forward to finishing up the work day so I can read some more.

The sacrifices Mary Boleyn makes for her power-hungry family are numerous. She is instructed to win the affections of King Henry VIII which she does at the age of 14. She soon becomes his mistress all the while remaining a lady in waiting to Henry's wife Queen Katherine. She bears him two children, one of which is a boy. Her family continues their scheming in an attempt to secure Mary's son as heir to the throne.

As Mary grows tired of court and longs to be with her children (who are kept at the family's countryside estate), Mary's sister Anne sets her sights on King Henry herself. After a failed attempt at a marriage that would have made her a duchess, Anne has become increasingly bitter and begins a ruthless competition for the King's hand in marriage.

For those who haven't read this one yet and have an interest in historical fiction, I recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Another hot, humid day

Another hot, humid day here in the northeast. Some complain about such uncomfortable weather and I usually chime in with my displeasure, but secretly sometimes I don't mind these days at all. What better excuse to hole up in the house with the a/c running and a good book? No guilt whatsoever about not running those errands, doing the dreaded yardwork, or forcing oneself to go for that jog (to me aka "a necessary evil").

Today, I finished up Magic Hour- the latest by Kristin Hannah. This is definitely the kind of book best saved for a lazy, humid day in that little thought is required to follow along. The plot was pretty farfetched, the characters bordered on annoying with their self-absorption, and the dialogue was nothing short of being trite, but nonetheless it kept my attention and fulfilled its purpose as something entertaining. I typically have the same reaction to Jodi Picoult books. Usually a hint of melodrama and a gross overuse of similes (many of which make very little sense), but I think her plots are pretty good and I know her books will keep me entertained for a short while before I am ready to move on to something a little more meaty.

Tonight I'll start The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. With my upcoming book club meeting, I have precisely 3 days to read the book from cover to cover. No easy feat, given its length, but I have faith. Given the reviews I have been hearing, most likely it will be difficult to put down once I start reading.

Ahhh, here's to another evening reading in bed with one cat draped across my feet, the other sleeping on my shoulder, and my husband inches away, snoring while I try to get through as many pages as possible before the hum of the air conditioner lulls me to sleep. My kind of night, indeed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

New to blogging

After joining and tapping into the blog world of book afficiandos, I feel like I have found my people. One would think that after recently completing a degree in library and information science, I would not be so new to blogging. But alas, that is not the case. After months of good intentions, I am finally sitting down to create my personal blog.

Hope what you will see here at Nose In A Book is of interest to some. Feel free to comment on any future posts. Looking forward to hearing from you.

More to come soon...