Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Best So Far: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013

What are the best books I've read so far in 2013?  The Broke and The Bookish want to know.  I've been lucky.  Except for one truly disappointing book, I've read some really great novels so far this year.  I've limited the list to just novels, because if I included the fantastic poetry and short stories I've read on this list, I would have a much more difficult time deciding what titles to include.  

In no particular order, the best books of 2013 so far:
1. The Deception of Livvy Higgs, by Donna Morrissey
2. Legend, by Marie Lu
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
4. And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hoseinni
5. Falling Kingdoms, by Morgan Rhodes
6. Redshirts, by John Scalzi
7. Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris
8. The Wind Through The Keyhole, by Stephen King
9. Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King
10. The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis

What are the best books you've read so far this year?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Austen in August from Roof Beam Reader

I'm challenging myself... though not by very much.  Here it is, Austen in August from Roof Beam Reader.  It's a month of Jane Austen.  The challenge is to read as many of Austen's works and Austen-related work in the month of August.  I plan on (hope to) read Emma.  I've been wanting to read it for a while.  I also might read Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict which is the sequel/companion to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict; I read that a few years ago.  I supposed by saying (posting) this, I'm committing myself to actually reading the book(s).  

I made a list this week of the books I plan on reading this summer.  It was a little all over the place and did  NOT include Emma.  I'll do it though, I'll read Emma and maybe some of those ten (twenty) books I listed.  That's a lot for me... Usually three months would only yield six to eight read books.

Am I off topic now?

Austen in August!  Do it!  Yay!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Sunny Days! Top Ten Books On My Summer To Read List

This week the topic from The Broke and The Bookish should be very easy.  I'm really looking forward to all the books on my Summer To Read List.  Some of these books relate to my Beach Reads, but they're not all "beachy", but they are definitely books I've had on hold too long and this summer seems like a great time to read them.  I've sorted them by author because I think I feel like binge reading....

By Cassandra Clare:

By Sophie Kinsella

By Margaret Atwood
8. Oryx and Crake (re-read in preparation for Maddaddam)

By H.G. Wells

Maybes:  H.G. Wells - Under The Knife
Lauren Oliver, Delerium, PandemoniumRequiem
I may also start reading the Anne [of Green Gables] books.
So, what I've come to learn by making this list is that there are a lot of books I want to read this summer and I'm not 100% sure which ones to prioritize.  Maybe I'll just catch up on the Undead Series. 

Well, I think I might have failed this week's list...

What's on your summer to-read list?

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Well-Read Canadian

I might have failed again.  I posted Book Riot's "Well Read" list last week.  I did okay, having read about a third of the books.  John from The Book Mine Set put together a Canadian version of the list and I did worse.  I'm not even going to post my numbers.  I've read a lot of the authors on the list, like Rohinton Mistry and Carol Shields, but not the books that are listed.  I thought I was pretty well-read as a Canadian... I took an entire class on Can Lit in University.  Some of those authors became favourites and I've read more of their work.  What I have now is another mountain of books to add to my to-read list.  

1. Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
2. John Vaillant- The Tiger
3. Modecai Richler- Barney's Version
4. Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance
5. Miriam Toews- A Complicated Kindness
7. Susanna Moodie- Roughing it in the Bush
8. Wayne Johnston- The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
9. James Houston- White Dawn
10. Michael Ondaatje- In the Skin of a Lion
11. Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess
12. Christian Bok- Eunoia
13. Pierre Berton- the Last Spike
14. Margaret Laurence- Stone Angel
15. Seth- It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
16. Ken Dryden- The Game
17. Farley Mowat- Never Cry Wolf
18. Carol Shields- The Stone Diaries
19. M. G. Vassanji- the In-Between World of Vikram Lall
20. Michel Tremblay- The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant
21. Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights on Air
22. Sheila Watson- the Double Hook
23. Robertson Davies- Fifth Business
24. Richard Van Camp- Lesser Blessed
25. Ann-Marie MacDonald- Fall on Your Knees
26. Kit Pearson- The Sky is Falling
27. Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing
28. Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid's Tale
29. Marshall McLuhan- Understanding Media
30. Alistair MacLeod- No Great Mischief
31. Alice Munro- The Love of a Good Woman
32. Guy Vanderhaeghe- The Last Crossing
33. Emma Donoghue- Room
34. Guy Gavriel Kay- The Summer Tree
35. Douglas Coupland- Generation X
36. Tomson Highway- The Rez Sisters
37. Leonard Cohen- Beautiful Losers
38. Phoebe Gilman- Something From Nothing
39. The Complete Poems of Robert W. Service
40. David Adams Richards- Mercy Among the Children
41. Joseph Boyden- Three Day Road
42. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki- Skim
43. Ivan Coyote- Bow Grip
44. Naomi Klein- No Logo
45. Will Ferguson- Why I Hate Canadians
46. Lisa Moore- February
47. Mary Watson- Crow Lake
48. Alan Bradley- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
49. Cory Doctorow- Little Brother
50. P.K. Page- Planet Earth: Poems selected and new
51. Lawrence Hill- The Book of Negroes
52. Timothy Findley- The Wars
53. Margaret Atwood- Alias Grace
54. Jane Urquhart- The Stone Carvers
55. Mavis Gallant- From the Fifteenth District
56. Hugh MacLennan- Barometer Rising
57. Joy Kogawa- Obasan
58. Wayson Choy- Jade Peony
59. Chester Brown- Louis Riel
60. Yann Martel- Life of Pi
61. Gabrielle Roy- The Tin Flute
62. W.P. Kinsella- Shoeless Joe
63. Elizabeth Smart- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
64. Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water
65. Sara Gruen- Water for Elephants
66. William Gibson- Neuromancer
67. Margaret Laurence- The Diviners
68. Marie-Claire Blais- A Season in the Life of Emmanuel
69. Brian Moore- The Luck of Ginger Coffey
70. Ethel Wilson- Swamp Angel
71. Stephen Leacock- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
72. W.O. Mitchell- Who Has Seen the Wind?
73. Robert Sawyer- Flashforward
74. Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater
75. Eric Walters- Camp X
76. Bryan Lee O'Malley- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
77. Jeff Lemire- Essex County
78. Hubert Aquin- Next Episode
79. David Bergen- The Time in Between
80. George Elliott Clarke- Wylah Falls
81. Lynn Coady- Saints of Big Harbour
82. Michael Crummey- Galore
83. Esi Edugyan- Halfblood Blues
84. Rawi Hage- De Niro's Game
85. Bernice Morgan- Random Passage
86. Peter C. Newman- The Canadian Establishment
87. bpNichol- The Martyrology
88. Louise Penny- Still Life
89. Paul Quarrington- Whale Music
90. Sinclair Ross- As For Me and My House
91. Nalo Hopkinson- Brown Girl in the Ring
92. Vincent Lam- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
93. Dennis Lee- Alligator Pie
94. John McCrae- "In Flanders' Fields"
95. Zoe Whittal- Bottle Rocket Hearts
96. Andrew Davidson- The Gargoyle
97. Al Purdy- Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets
98. Pierre Berton- The Arctic Grail
99. Stephen Galloway- The Cellist of Sarajevo
100. Lynn Johnston- Something Old, Something New

Which books have you read?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

And The Mountains Echoed

There will be spoilers.  I’ll try to keep them vague, but BEWARE.

The box!  I love that the box made a final appearance in And The Mountains Echoed. There was a box at the end of A Thousand Splendid Suns too. Is it a box of tears?  Because that is what Khaled Hoseinni is doing to his readers with them. It's sad that the contents of the box didn’t become a life long passion for Pari, but she can feel that the items are significant. 

Did Pari have a better life because Saboor sold her to the Wadhatis?  She was really for Nila, though Suleiman loved her too.  Nila was so full of lies, it's so sad.  If not for Nabi, Pari would not know the truth.  If Pari had stayed in Afghanistan, she would not have lived so fully. She definitely would not have been a professor.  The fable at the beginning of the book is the whole novel in a nutshell.  I spent a lot of the story waiting for Abdullah and Pari's reunion.  For a while I thought it wasn't going to happen or that one of them would be dead.  I just wished for more for Abdullah.  I like how Pari and Pari ended.

Iqbal, warlords, awful. It makes me so sad to think that people fleeing the war can still lose everything.

I enjoyed Markos and Thalia.  Much of what happened to them mirrored what happened to the Afghanistan family. I think it shows that the ties of family transcend race and culture. But, I also think that their family story could have been its own novel. I would have missed getting to know Thalia here, but I think she and Markos could have carried their own tale.

Is Idris supposed to come off like such a wuss?  His storyline with Timur, Amra and Roshi was fascinating. Roshi was amazing and was almost a different version of Pari.  Does it all boil down to jealously or even more sadly, a weakness of character?  Like the Greek storyline, I did spend some of the time wishing to get back to Pari and Abdullah, but I do think it enriched the novel.

Maybe the Greek and American stories are supposed to give us an idea of a ripple effect. Perhaps it is actually a web and we are all connected by strings, tying us together.  And The Mountains Echoed was an amazingly sad and wonderful tale, crossing cultures and continents.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Well Read Are You?

I came across this list over at Book Riot, "From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books".  I was intrigued to see how well-read I was.  If you asked me before I read the list, I would say I was very well-read.  I read a wide range of books from classics to zombies, genre to award-winning literary fiction.  I've read books from around the world - though always in English.

I've copy and pasted the Book Riot list and I've crossed off the books I've read.  I've put in bold the books I own, but haven't read yet and I've italicized books I want to read, but don't own.  Not too complicated, I hope.
  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay  by Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  14. Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  16. The Call of the Wild  by Jack London
  17. Candide by Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  23. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  24. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor 
  27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  43. The Gospels
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  50. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad by Homer
  59. The Inferno by Dante
  60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  64. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury
  66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  72. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  73. The Odyssey by Homer
  74. Oedipus, King by Sophocles
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  79. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  81. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
  82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  85. The Stand by Stephen King
  86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  99. 1984 by George Orwell
  100. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Read: 26
Own, un-read: 14
Want to read: 21
Not-interested: 39

These were not the results I was expecting.  I'm going to be honest and say there are definitely 39 books on this list I have no interest in reading right now.  I may change my mind in the future and say to myself, what was I thinking, I absolutely have to read 50 Shades of Grey (for example), but not now.  I want to mention, after just quickly reading through the list, there seems to be an okay amount of women on the list, and a few minorities.  Could there be more?  Maybe, maybe not.  Culture was taken into account when creating this list, that means including who is on his best-sellers list and what authors have impacted the world around the list's creator.

I'm certain my list would be different.  If I made a list like this, there would likely be a lot more Canadians on the list, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje and Douglas Coupland.  Again, that's culture.  (I have to say that I love that Their Eyes Were Watching God is on this list.  It's an amazing story.)  There are a lot of American authors on the list, great ones like Faulkner and Hemingway, both of whom I've read, just not the books on the list.  If this list were made in England, Australia, Japan or India, I'm sure it would be different too.  Though there would definitely be some cross-over.  Maybe I'm being too analytical.  Maybe not analytical enough.

Do you think you are well-read?  What books would be on your list?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Time to Lounge In The Sun! Top Ten Beach Reads

It seems like every year just as the beach season starts, The Broke and The Bookish want to know, what are your Top Ten Beach Reads.  This will in fact be my third "beach read" list.  This year the topic also specifically asks how YOU define a beach read.  

Usually, if a list is repeated or I've done something similar, I'll try not to repeat the books.  This time, I'm going to think about what I would want in a beach read and see what makes my top ten this week, even if it was on one of the previous lists.  For me, when I want to take something to the beach, I want it to be a page-turner.  It doesn't have to be fluff, it could be anything that will keep me engaged.  It also needs to be something I can put down at any point and come back to without feeling like I need to catch up.  What if I want to take a dip in the water?  Or build a sand castle?  I don't want to feel like I can't leave the story.  In no particular order, my Top Ten Beach Reads.

1. Anything by Sophie Kinsella.
2. The Undead Series, by MaryJanice Davidson
3. The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
4. The Divergent Trilogy, by Veronica Roth
5. A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket
6. The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
7. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
8. Anything by Jane Austen
9. The Sookie Stackhouse Series, by Charlaine Harris
10. Redshirts, by John Scalzi

Well, apparently I like taking mostly genre books to the beach....  What are your favourite beach reads?

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Too-Clever Fox, by Leigh Bardugo

The Too-Clever Fox is the second short story I've read by Leigh Bardugo.  Bardugo is the author of the Grisha series. After reading her first short story related to this series, The Witch of Duva, I knew I wanted to read her novels.  That feeling has only increased after reading The Too-Clever Fox.  Both short stories share a fable-like quality, but it is more present in The Too-Clever Fox.  This "fable" teaches a couple of points, which relate somehow to Siege and Storm.  The first is the old favourite "don't just a book by it's cover"/"appearances can be deceiving".  The Fox is the runt of his litter, almost eaten by his mother, but is clever and hid.  His is not a pretty fox.  He grows up using his mind, his cleverness, to get him out of trouble.  Eventually, he gains a reputation among the forest animals for his intelligence.  So when a threat comes to the woods, the Fox decides he will take care of it.  This is where the second moral comes in.  As you can guess by the title, the Fox thinks so highly of his cleverness that he doesn't believe he can be outsmarted.  The Fox should have remembered that appearances can be deceiving.

It doesn't matter if you've read the novels or not, The Too-Clever Fox can be read on its own and enjoyed.  I really liked the folktale quality, the messages, the imagery and twist.  The end is haunting/disturbing and though I read this story four days ago, it chills me to think of it.  

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Let's Go! My Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way

I'm doing this week's Top Ten in order to challenge myself.  Before compiling this list, I didn't think I read a lot of books that involve travelling and I was right.  It's not something I've ever looked for specifically.  After looking at the books I've read, I'm going to tweak this list a little.  I'm going to make this a bit more about "journeys" than about "travel", though they will still be a type of physical journey.  Here are my Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way, in no particular order:

1. Canada, by Richard Ford - Going from a town in Montana to the middle-of-nowhere Saskatchewan can be quite interesting.
2. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, by Sophie Kinsella - Becky is excited to go to Manhattan and manages to bring all her London problems with her.
3. Prodigy, by Marie Lu - Traveling through dystopic America, an interesting contrast between two sides/extremes of the country.
4. Fever, by Lauren DeStefano - Another pair traveling through a different dystopic America, one that's really unsettling and possibly even more dangerous.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis - Takes us through Narnia.  I'd love to visit.
6. World War Z, by Max Brooks - We travel around the world, post-Zombie War, aka World War Z.
7. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel - If you count floating around in the ocean as travel.
8. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien - They certainly travel far and there's a lot of walking.
9. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King - The Ka-Tet travels farther than any other in Mid-World.
10. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger - TIME Travel.

What books have you read about travel?  Do you have any recommendations for me?

Monday, June 03, 2013

Robot, by Helena Bell

I expected a story about a robot, what I got was so much more.  This is a story about dying.  Robot is about the slow progression towards death.  The main character wonders about what people think, reflects on her youth, but still wonders about the robot.  She wonders what he feels, if he feels.  She speaks to him like he's a thing, but then like he's a child.  She names him Fred.  She instructs him on various tasks, but the most important instructions are the ones she give him about herself.  He needs to know how he supposed to behave when she requires him to help her.  He becomes her support.  

There is one thing about this story that is weird.  I understand that it's likely a metaphor for the deterioration that comes with age, but why does the robot have to eat her?  It is so weird.  It is smoothly woven into the story so that it seems a casual, normal part of the instructions that the main character gives to the robot, that it could almost go unnoticed.  But the last line of the first paragraph keeps it right at the front of your mind as you read.  I think I might try another story by Helena Bell, though we'll see what I decide afterwards.  I can only read so many stories about robots eating dead skin.

Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.