Friday, September 30, 2011

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Published in 2008. 473 pages. Originally published in Australia in 2006 as The Shifting Fog.

This was the September pick for Natalie's Book Club, and I didn't know anything about it before I started reading. I was sucked in from the very first sentence!

Last November I had a nightmare.

Does that remind you of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca? It did me!

I really enjoyed the book club discussion, which we had over lunch at Blue Lemon. Mostly we talked about the ending of the book, about what was foreshadowed, about what was surprising, about how it fit together so well.

One short passage really struck me when I read it, and I've been thinking about it a lot.
While I wasn't certain how I felt about spiritualists, I was certain enough about the type of people who were drawn to them. Only people unhappy in the present seek to know the future.

I'd not read anything by Kate Morton before I read The House at Riverton, but I will certainly be looking for more of her novels!


By the Numbers
Three-Quarters of 2011

Total books read year-to-date: 73. (My goal for the year is 104 books. Right now I'm only about 4 books behind the pace I need to reach that goal!)

Fiction: 63.
Non-fiction: 9.
Poetry: 1.

Audiobooks: 20.

On the Kindle: 5. (Obviously, my Kindle - which I've had since May - isn't replacing traditional books, but it is a nice addition.)

Books by male authors: 24.
Books by female authors: 48.
Anthologies: 1.

Published in 2011: 14.
Published prior to 1990: 4.

Historical fiction: 11.

Young adult: 40.
Juvenile: 7.

Read for my Teaching Through Literature class: 4.
Read with the "book lunch girls" (aka Natalie's Book Club): 8.
Read with my long-time book club: 5.

5-star rating: 5.
4-star rating: 50.
3-star rating: 18.

What are your reading numbers for 2011 to date? What are you going to read in the last quarter of the year?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Into Reading 2011

September 23 - December 21
Hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days

Fall is a marvelous time for curling up with a good book! My reading goal for 2011 (as it has been for several years running) is 104 books (an average of two books a week). This year (for the first time) I'm thinking that my goal is attainable. As of today I have read 71 books, so I've got only 33 left to go! With that goal in mind, I've chosen the following books for my Fall Into Reading list:

Salt Lake County Library Reader's Choice Nominees
  • Bliss Remembered by Frank Deford

  • Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

  • Mothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourret

  • The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum

  • The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
(Check out the "Reader's Choice" blog here.)

In Honor of Banned Books Week (September 24-October 1)
  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Also on the "List Swap" Selections list.)
(Update: Check out the "Banned Books Challenge" blog here.)

Recent or Upcoming Releases (A mix of genres.)
  • Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry

  • Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

  • The Death Cure by James Dashner

  • Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh* (Also on the IRL Book Clubs list.)

  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

  • The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

  • The Place of Knowing: A Spiritual Autobiography by Emma Lou Warner Thayne

List Swap Selections
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

  • The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Also on the Banned Books Week list.)
(For an explanation of the "list swap" project and my complete list, click here.)

Picks for My IRL Book Clubs
  • Faith by Jennifer Haigh* (Also on the Recent Releases list.)

  • Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan*

  • The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman

  • The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

  • An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life by Mary Johnson

  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
(Updated on September 30, following September's book club meetings, and again on November 21.)

Required Reading (For my "Teaching Through Literature Discussions" class.)
  • The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah Eden

  • Possession by Elana Johnson

  • A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Books Received for Review
  • Lost on Treasure Island: A Memoir of Longing, Love, and Lousy Choices in New York City by Steve Friedman

  • Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression by Ida Lichter*

Other Nonfiction Titles
  • His Final Hours by Jeffrey Marsh*

  • Lighten Up by Chieko Okazaki

  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  • The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood, and Self-Discovery by Kathryn Lynard Soper

Other Fiction Titles (Mostly YA.)
  • Acceleration by Graham McNamee

  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld*

  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

*Started reading prior to September 23.

What are you reading this fall?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Three Cheers for Gary Schmidt!

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Published in 2004. 224 pages.
2005 Newbery Honor Book.
2005 Printz Honor Book.

My first exposure to Gary Schmidt came a year and a half ago when I read the young adult historical fiction novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy with my son and his fifth grade book club. The writing is beautiful, and we spent a couple of weeks in the book club looking at similes and metaphors, personification, and imagery. Set in 1912 and based on a real event, the story also teaches important lessons about racism and doing the right thing.


The Wednesday Wars
Published in 2007. 264 pages.
2008 Newbery Honor Book.

This 2008 Newbery Honor Book (which is a prequel of sorts to Okay for Now) is a tender story of growing up and finding one's way in the world. The plot is centered around the main character's exploration of Shakespeare's plays under the direction of his seventh grade teacher. I'm a little too young to remember the Vietnam War, but that time period is used as an effective backdrop to the story.


Okay for Now
Published in 2011. 360 pages.

What do Aububon's Birds of America, the Vietnam War, Jane Eyre, Apollo 11, and the New York Yankees have to do with one another? Each plays an important role in this fabulous exploration of "the transforming power of art over disaster," in a wonderful tale "about creativity and loss, love and recovery, and survival" (to borrow some phrases from the book jacket).

I simply cannot say enough good about this one! I will be surprised - and disappointed - if Okay for Now doesn't receive some awards of its own. By the way, I actually read it before I read The Wednesday Wars. (I don't think my reading enjoyment was diminished because of that, but I would have known a little about the main character of Okay for Now if I'd read The Wednesday Wars first.)


Friday, September 09, 2011

Tales from Outer Suburbia
by Shaun Tan

Published in 2009. 96 pages.

Tales from Outer Suburbia is an anthology of fifteen illustrated short stories set in the Australian suburbs. As with poetry, I'm not always sure I "get" short stories. But there are some in the collection that I loved, and the illustrations are glorious!

Some of the illustrations, as well as commentary on the stories, can be found on author Shaun Tan's website here. Tricia at Library Queue called Tales from Outer Suburbia "one of the most unique books [she's] ever read." (Her full review is here.) At Thoughts of Joy, Joy said that the book is "great for a short diversion." (Her full review is here.)

This was my first experience with Tan, and while I'm a little less than completely enthusiastic about this book, I've heard that his graphic novel The Arrival is amazing, so I'm sure I'll be checking out more of his work.