Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter Break

It's here! Winter break is here! It's been a wonderful school year so far, but I must say that I am looking and feeling a little ragged around the edges and could definitely use some r&r. I won't be online much over the break, but I thought I'd join this challenge at least in spirit because I do plan on reading a ton over these next two weeks.

Books that I have checked out from the library:
Bright young things /
by Godbersen, Anna.

Catching fire /
by Collins, Suzanne.

The exiled queen /
by Chima, Cinda Williams.

Extraordinary /
by Werlin, Nancy.

How to say goodbye in Robot /
by Standiford, Natalie.

The hunger games /
by Collins, Suzanne.

The Mockingbirds /
by Whitney, Daisy.

Nightshade /
by Cremer, Andrea R.

Revolution /
by Donnelly, Jennifer.

The sky is everywhere /
by Nelson, Jandy.

You all know how long I've been meaning to re-read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Because I still have a borrowed copy of Mockingjay, well, mocking me, in fact. So, those three are top priority.The rest will be left up to my moods. :)

Have a splendiferous holiday season! (Did you catch that kidlit reference?) See you next year...


Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Blogger Holiday Swap!

Can I just say that this has been the best Monday off of work ever? Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but oh boy, did I have a lot of housekeeping to do today! While I was busy making flight & hotel reservations, my mailman happened to knock on my door and drop off this box of holiday goodness. :)

Thank you to Smash from Smash Attack Reads! for all of these goodies!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Filling in the gaps

During my clicky clicks from blog to blog over the weekend, I stumbled upon this fantastic idea.

Choose 100 books. Books to "fill in the gaps" of your personal literary canon. Books that most people have already read (or perhaps just say they have), and you have not. Books that you truly have been meaning to read but have avoided because of their daunting length or exalted literary status or an array of other excuses that just will not do. Books that every person "should" read.

Of course, I was inspired. This is exactly what I need! Sure, GoodReads is fine and well for keeping track of newly released books that I want to read right now, but what about all the others that I just never get around to? So, I decided to make my own list. And I will slowly fill that gap, one book at a time.

According to Vasilly and Moonrat, the challenge is supposed to last 5 years from the start date. Ha! There's not a chance in the world that I can read these hundred books in merely 5 years, considering the amount of kidlit and YA reading I do. Even giving myself 10 years would still mean that I'd have to finish 10 books a year, which is a little less than a book a month, which again, is not realistic given my reading habits. What to do, what to do? I'm honestly not much for long-term planning, so this is very new territory for me.

My goal: I don't yet have 100 books on my list - I'm about halfway there. But since it's such a long challenge, I'm okay with that, as I'll be continuously adding books to it. I do plan to check in every year around this time, the winter holidays, to assess my progress. If I read a handful of these books in one year, I think I'll be satisfied with that.

I'd love to know if anyone else is doing something similar. Or if there is a group out there committed to doing this challenge and encouraging each other along the way. The book blogosphere is ginormous - it's sometimes hard to figure out who's reading what and what challenges are hot. If I so obviously missed the "host" of this one, let me know, please!

Without further ado, my list of books to fill in my personal reading gaps:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

White Noise by Don DeLillo
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


The American by Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Nineteen Eight Four by George Orwell

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak


Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare 
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolsoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy


Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 



We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

What do you think? Am I crazy? Are there any other "classic"-type books you'd recommend?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
published October 2010 by Random House
272 pages (hardcover), YA

Dash hates Christmas. He can't stand the throngs of bipolar people who'll be spreading yuletide joy one minute and cursing you in a certain department store the next. He's surly and snarly, but he's a teenage boy, so he's partially entitled. Lily, on the other hand, is full of Christmas spirit, baking the most delicious and inventive holiday cookies and creating her own caroling troupe. Both teens are on their own for Christmas this year, which inevitably leads them to one another. When Lily's brother devises a plan to get Lily's goody-two-shoes bum out of the house and into the real world for some adventure and excitement, what Dash finds from these two is a red notebook in his favorite bookstore, daring him to do the same. So begins the correspondence between Dash & Lily.

I'll get the unfair comparison out of the way first - I'm a big fan of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist as well as Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, so I knew that I would enjoy this book as well. Levithan and Cohn write alternating chapters in each of these books, and they're quite good at it. Remember when I said that I love author collaborations? I really, really do. I feel like there's more character development there somehow, but I suppose it's just because there are two narrators and the reader gets to know them both fairly well. At any rate, Dash & Lily are just as memorable as the previous, and I'm rather happy for it.

Coincidentally, here's my favorite quote from Dash:
I was attempting to write the story of my life. It wasn't so much about plot. It was much more about character (p.198).
So, the story is about a boy and a girl who do not know each other in person but only through the dares they write to each other in this red notebook. From the bookstore to Santa's lap to a wax museum and much more, these two teens not only dare each other to do silly and annoying things but they also open up and share parts of themselves in their writing. Do I want to go buy a red notebook and try the same? You bet! It's fun and a little reckless - the idea is hopelessly romantic and does require you to suspend disbelief in order to properly enjoy it.

As with any author pairing, I was curious to see which character I would prefer. It took me a little while to decide, but I think Dash is my guy. Although Lily's sweet and innocent self was adorable, I had just a bit of trouble reconciling how sheltered she was in New York City. Not to say that everyone in the city is harsh and jaded - well, maybe I am a little. I'm not from there, so what do I know? But for that reason, Dash made more sense to me. And I'll be honest, I totally would have had a crush on him in high school. His unabashedly nerdy love affair with words is hot.

Though this book was told in two voices, there were quite a few supporting characters that stood out too. Dash's best friend Boomer, his ex-girlfriend Sofia, Lily's brother Langston, her great aunt "Mrs. Basil E," her cousin Mark and a few others. Through their eyes, the reader learns more about Dash & Lily, which does say something about a person's character, no pun intended.

So, there it is. Stick this entry into Wordle, and you'll get what I look for in a good novel: character. It's almost comical how many times I used that word. But that's what I enjoyed most about this book, even though the dares were fun too. It's definitely an appropriate read for this time of year - I appreciated it during our first snow! Go pick it up and pass it along to a teen over the holidays. They might not admit it, but they will definitely eat it up.

Three purple crayons for an enjoyable story with excellent characters.

Around the blogosphere:
Eating YA Books ; Guys Lit Wire ; Pure Imagination ; Chick Lit Reviews ; Book Aunt


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November Reading Recap

Goals, Goals, Goals
I was right - not much time for reading this month. I had trouble choosing which novel to read first, so I didn't read any, well all but one. I squeezed one by Simone Elkeles in because I was so enamored with her presentation at ISLMA. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but I just didn't have the brain capacity for it. And The Hunger Games trilogy? Sitting on my coffee table. Calling to me. Begging, pleading, hoping that I'll re-read and read them. I will. Really. 

What I Read & Why 
Because being a good blogger means following through on those reviews
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Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk by Dav Piley
Zoey Zeta and the Sisters of Power by Robert Simon 

Because I bought a boat load of picture books for my library with a generous grant
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Because part of my job lets me read to and for kiddos
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Because I didn't spend very much time at the public library this month
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December Dreams 
So, that's a lot of picture books in November. I need more YA in my life. Please, December, give me more time and energy to read novels. I miss it! I won't even begin to name what books are sitting in various piles around my house because I'll just be sad in January to see all those I did not read. Let's just say that I'll read more than I did this month! The snow will force me to cozy up to some good books, right?

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