Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

For this week's Tuesday Thingers, Marie at Boston Bibliophile copied the list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s straight from the ALA website. I've highlighted the ones I've read. Highlight what you've read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26.The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

I always find lists like these fascinating. I think it's interesting to see what is on them and the reasons people give for challenging these books. I find myself wanting to read these books just to see what's so objectionable about them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir and Damien Lewis

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.

Halima Bashir is a courageous woman. The situation in Sudan, and Darfur in particular, is very dangerous. In the past, speaking out caused her pain, both physically and mentally. This didn't stop her from writing this book and hopefully bringing the reality of the situation in Darfur to more people around the world.

Tears of the Desert is a heartbreaking story. Some of her descriptions of the treatment the Black Africans at the hands of the Arabs made me cringe. The torture the Darfuri people have endured is unthinkable. Bashir doesn't sensationalize this torture, but neither does she sugar-coat her words either.

The one part of the book that I had a hard time relating to was the first section where she described growing up in her village. She would describe things she and her brothers had done, but they didn't seem to match up with their ages. For example, she describes one time she was held down by her brother and she struggled fiercely to get away, but couldn't. She was supposed to be 10 and her brother 2. She would also describe situations at school and her actions seemed like a much older child. While this isn't a huge point, I found it mildly distracting.

This book does a wonderful job of personalizing the conflict in Darfur. By focusing on Bashir's story it puts a real face on the tragedy and makes it hard to feel removed from it. 4 stars

Order Tears of the Desert

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

This is a great question and I am having a hard time coming up with an answer! I read such a wide variety of things that I can't think of something outside of my comfort zone that I have read in a while. Maybe that means I need to branch out again!

The only thing I can think of is some Shakespeare that I read in high school and college. This wasn't something that I would have ever picked up on my own, but I did enjoy it. Having a rough understanding of the time period and language also made it easier when I saw Merchant of Venice. Like I said, I enjoyed it, but won't be reading Shakespeare for pleasure any time soon.

I guess I haven't read too much out of my comfort zone lately...I usually read current fiction, mysteries and thrillers, and memoirs. If any of you have a favorite book that is different from what I usually read, please leave me a note with it's title and I'll check it out.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

In the summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the "coolest girl in the world" moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all -- beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn; Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer's end they've become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah's magnificent novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the mainstay of their lives.

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship -- jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they've survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart... and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone's Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it's the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It's about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you -- and knows what has the power to hurt you... and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you'll never forget... one you'll want to pass on to your best friend.

Unabridged, 15 CDs, 18 hrs runtime

This review refers to the unabridged audio version.

I recently had a work trip which included an 8 hour drive one way. I wanted a book that would last me for the entire trip. This one looked good and fit my time requirement. I don't read or listen to women's fiction very often. I have nothing against it, and usually enjoy it, but it's not the genre I reach for first. That being said, I loved this book.

This is an epic book and Hannah finds just the right balance of details and keeping time moving smoothly along. You really get to know the characters, and the passage of so much time allows them the chance to grow and change so much more than in most books.

The narrator did a wonderful job too. She was able to capture all the emotion without over doing it. You really got to know all the characters, and I found myself laughing out loud more than once.

This is not just a happy book or a sad book, but really encompasses the wide range of emotions that all of us experience in our daily lives. Through all the ups and downs friendship and love endure.

Order Firefly Lane

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Honeymoon with my Brother by Franz Wisner

This is the true story of Franz Wisner, a man who thought he had it all- a high profile career and the fiancée of his dreams- when suddenly, his life turned upside down. Just days before they were to be married, his fiancée called off the wedding. Luckily, his large support network of family and friends wouldn't let him succumb to his misery. They decided Franz should have a wedding and a honeymoon anyway- there just wouldn't be a bride at the ceremony, and Franz' travel companion would be his brother, Kurt.

During the "honeymoon," Franz reconnected with his brother and began to look at his life with newfound perspective. The brothers decided to leave their old lives behind them. They quit their jobs, sold all their possessions, and traveled around the world, visiting fifty-three countries for the next two years. In Honeymoon With My Brother, Franz recounts this remarkable journey, during which he turned his heartbreak into an opportunity to learn about himself, the world, and the brother he hardly knew.

I expected to love this book. Memoirs, and especially travel memoirs, are some of my favorites. Honeymoon with my Brother was good, but I wouldn't list it among my favorites. I think my biggest problem with it is that I like travel memoirs to really show me a place that I will likely never get to travel to. In Honeymoon, the brothers traveled to so many countries that you really didn't get a feel for most of them.

Wisner did take this experience and completely change the priorities in his life. This memoir, while it did include travel, was really more of a personal growth story. Wisner was able to reconnect with his brother and figure out what was really important to him. 3 stars

Order Honeymoon with my Brother

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

Today's Question: Favorite Authors. Who do you have named in your LT account as favorite authors? Why did you choose them? How many people share your choices? Can you share a picture of one of them?

The authors I have listed on LT as favorites are Jeffery Deaver, John Sandford, Stuart Woods and Diana Gabaldon. I haven't used this feature too much, so many of my favorites aren't listed.

The first 3 authors are ones whose series I follow faithfully. I read so many series that there are times I get WAY behind. These authors book's are always at the top of my list when a new book comes out though.

Diana Gabaldon, pictured, is my favorite author. I have read the entire Outlander series multiple times, and I am anxiously waiting for the new book, An Echo in the Bone, to come out sometime next year.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shoot the Moon contest winners!

Sorry for the delay in posting the contest's winners. My mom was admitted to the hospital late last night for appendix and partial colon removal. The surgery went well, and the problems with the appendix and colon don't appear to be cancerous, so that is very good news!

Now for our winners! They are:

Thank you everyone for entering! I am headed back to the hopital now but will get emails out to the winners tomorrw.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

Her Last Death begins as the phone rings early one morning in the Montana house where Susanna Sonnenberg lives with her husband and two young sons. Her aunt is calling to tell Susanna her mother is in a coma after a car accident. She might not live. Any daughter would rush the thousands of miles to her mother's bedside. But Susanna cannot bring herself to go. Her courageous memoir explains why.

Glamorous, charismatic and a compulsive liar, Susanna's mother seduced everyone who entered her orbit. With outrageous behavior and judgment tinged by drug use, she taught her child the art of sex and the benefits of lying. Susanna struggled to break out of this compelling world, determined, as many daughters are, not to become her mother.

Sonnenberg mines tender and startling memories as she writes of her fierce resolve to forge her independence, to become a woman capable of trust and to be a good mother to her own children. Her Last Death is riveting, disarming and searingly beautiful.

I don't know if I have just read too many my-mother-was-terrible-and-it-wrecked-my-life type memoirs, or if it was my frame of mind (I've had a hard time getting through books lately), but I couldn't have cared less about this story.

The author came across as whiny to me. Yes, her mother was a drug addict and far from a good role model, but that doesn't excuse the author's poor choices at nearly every stage in her life. At some point you have to grow up and take responsibility for yourself, and I never felt Sonnenberg did that.

There wasn't all that much in the book that I found all that interesting or humorous. I keep reading, expecting it to get better and finally put it aside with about 40 pages left. If I have made it that far in a book I will almost always finish it, but I couldn't justify wasting anymore time when I have so many other books to read.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...

Autumn is starting (here in the US, anyway), and kids are heading back to school–does the changing season change your reading habits? Less time? More? Are you just in the mood for different kinds of books than you were over the summer?

I have much more time to read during the summer. With the long evenings I will sometimes be the only one home until 8pm or so. This gives me lots of time to get caught up on my reading.

Since it gets dark sooner now, my husband is in the house earlier, dinner gets eaten sooner, and sometimes we are off to be earlier too. My husband is not a reader and likes to watch TV in the evenings. Unless I go to a different part of the house, I can't read because I get distracted to easily.

What I read doesn't really change though. I tend to read a wide variety anytime, so the change in the weather doesn't really affect that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

Today's Question: Have you ever added a quote to the quotation field in common knowledge? What's a quote you particularly like from a book, one that you know by heart?

No, I haven't. I guess I didn't even really know there was a place to add favorite quotes. There aren't any quotes that I know off the top of my head either. I will often find myself thinking "I should write that line down" or "I need to look up that word" but I never seem to get to it. It must be the procrastinator in me...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson

In the turbo-charged follow-up to Shiver (2006), photographer Abby Chastain, who played a major role in Shiver, finds she may have a half-sister in Eve Renner, the adopted daughter of Dr. Terrence Renner, former head psychiatrist at Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, a shuttered asylum near (pre-Katrina) New Orleans. When "the Reviver," a tattoo-loving psychopath intent on revenge, almost kills Eve, the amnesia-plagued Eve fears Cole Dennis, her lawyer boyfriend, might be the monster, since she saw him at the scene of her assault (and a friend's murder), though Cole is released for lack of evidence. The body count mounts through many unexpected twists and turns as a grim Det. Reuben Montoya, Abby's fiancé, and his partner, Rick Bentz, try to puzzle out the killer's cryptic clues before he strikes again.

I read Shiver last year, and liked it, but thought it could have used some thinning out. For a what should have been a quick, fun read it took me over a week to finish. It seemed like there were a lot of details that could have been omitted. Absolute Fear could have used the same thinning out. It seemed to take an awful long time for the action to get moving and then it would kind of fizzle out for a bit. I also found that Absolute Fear would bring in some story elements to try to keep the action moving, but then they seemed to just drift off without ever really being developed. Sorry for not being a little more complete in my thoughts here, but I hate spoilers...

My biggest gripe about this book, though, was the ending. I understand authors want to keep their series characters coming back, but when something is introduced in the epilogue, and it's only purpose is to set up another book, it just kind of turns me off. If the characters don't have enough happening to warrant another book, just let them go! 2.5 stars

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday Thingers!

Today's question: Awards. Do you follow any particular book awards? Do you ever choose books based on awards? What award-winning books do you have? (Off the top of your head only- no need to look this up- it would take all day!) What's your favorite award-winning book?

No, I don't follow any book awards at all. I would be more likely to pick up a book based on a catchy cover than because it won an award. And while I am sure that I have some award-winning books, I honestly couldn't name one...That just isn't my motivation when I pick up a book.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shoot The Moon Giveaway!

Welcome to my first giveaway! Hatchette Book Group has graciously donated up to 5 copies of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts to be given away! I really enjoyed it, and my review of the book can be seen here.

Now for the rules: This contest is open only to residents of the US and Canada. No PO Boxes. I will choose one winner for each 15 people that enter, with maximum of 5 books given away. The winners will be picked by random.org. The winners will be picked on Friday, September 19, so you have until noon that day to enter.

To enter: I really loved the cover of this book. In your comment, tell me a book where the cover really caught your eye, or one that you really disliked. Please also make sure your email address is either in your comment or on your blog so I can contact you. As always, a second entry will be given if you blog about the contest and link back here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...

I was looking through books yesterday at the shops and saw all the Twilight books, which I know basically nothing about. What I do know is that I’m beginning to feel like I’m the *only* person who knows nothing about them.

Despite being almost broke and trying to save money, I almost bought the expensive book (Australian book prices are often completely nutty) just because I felt the need to be ‘up’ on what everyone else was reading.
Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

I try to read popular books as I seem to like most of them, but I always feel so far behind in what I want to read, that some of them get pushed aside. For example, I have the entire Twilight series and the entire Harry Potter series, yet have never read any of them! I am even 2 books behind in some of my favorites mystery series.

Some recently hyped books, like Memory Keepers Daughter, fell woefully short for me. Because of this, I will usually try to get to popular books eventually, but am in no rush to read them. If I feel pressured, I get less enjoyment out of them.