Book Awards V Rules and Sign-up

Thanks to all those who participated in the first four book awards challenges!! Are you up for a fifth? The challenge for Book Awards V will last for 10 months, from February 1 through December 1, 2011.


  1. Read 5 books from 5 different awards during February 1, 2011 through December 1, 2011.

  2. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.

  3. Choices don't have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.

  4. 'Award winners' is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs.

  5. SIGN UP at the Book Awards site using Mr. Linky -- please use a SPECIFIC post link.

  6. Read your books and then, if you wish, come post your reviews into Mr. Linky at

  7. Have fun reading!

Book Awards IV Rules and Sign-up

10 months. 10 awards.

Thanks to all those who participated in the first three book awards challenges!! Are you up for a fourth? The challenge for Book Awards IV will last for 10 months, from January 1 through November 1, 2010.


  1. Read 10 books from 10 different awards during January 1, 2010 through November 1, 2010.

  2. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.

  3. Choices don't have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.

  4. 'Award winners' is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs.

  5. SIGN UP at the Book Awards site using Mr. Linky -- please use a SPECIFIC post link.

  6. If you'd like to be a contributor on the Book Awards blog, email me at 3m.michelle at gmail and reference your blog address if you have one. (I must have your email address, so comments to this post won't work.)

  7. Have fun reading!

1. Lu
2. Laura (Musings)
3. raidergirl3
4. Samantha
5. alisonwonderland
6. Katie
7. Lisa Hill (ANZ LitLovers)
8. 3m @ 1morechapter
9. Kim: (page after page)
10. FleurFisher
11. Lindy
12. Wendy (Caribousmom)
13. Jillian B
14. Chica
15. Kari @ Through a Glass, Darkly
16. Jennifer (Reading with Tequila)
17. Tricia (Library Queue)
18. Joseph
19. Nicole
20. Nely @ All About {n]
21. Tiny Librarian
22. Lauren
23. Renee Stead
24. Matt (Buffalo Savage)
25. Kristen (BookNAround)
26. Caitlin (chaotic compendiums)
27. Mee (Books of Mee)
28. Alicia
29. anne rubin
30. Debbie Rodge @ Exurbanis
31. Liza
32. Laura
33. Tracey (A Book Sanctuary)
34. debnance at readerbuzz
35. Kimmie
36. Black Sheep
37. Rose City Reader
38. Awaris
39. Sea
40. Lesley (A Life in Books)
41. Free Stuff
42. Natalie Wadel
43. The Literary Dilettante!
44. pinuccia
45. Not So Well Read
46. Ashley-Dior
47. Ashley-Dior
48. kdreader
49. Short Poems
50. Melissa
51. Elisabeth (Dirigible Plum)
52. DiscipulaDC
53. Matt (Changes in the Land)
54. Matt (The Great Pandemic)
55. Matt (Walk Golden Horn)

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

2010 Reviews

You may enter your 2010 reviews here if you don't contribute to the blog (or even if you do).

1. Nebula Award - Dune by Frank Herbert (Caitlin @ chaoticcompendiums)
2. Matt (War Trash)
3. Wolf Hall (Lisa Hill)
4. Mee (Waiting)
5. Mee (Flowers for Algernon)
6. Pacific NW Booksellers' Award - Boneshaker (Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums)
7. Library Queue (A Curse Dark as Gold)
8. Library Queue (Fire)
9. Library Queue (The Boy Who Dared)
10. Library Queue (Secret Letters from 0 to 10)
11. Newbery Medial - Roller Skates (caitlin @ chaotic compendiums)
12. Joseph (A Thousand Acres)
13. Nat'l Book Award - Slaves in the Family (caitlin @ chaotic compendiums)
14. Bootlegger's Daughter (Lesley @ A Life in Books)
15. Someone Knows My Name (Lesley @ A Life in Books)
16. Joseph (The Old Man and the Sea)
17. Matt (King Solomon's Ring)
18. Tiny Librarian (Olive Kitteridge)
19. Kimmie (Lisey's Story)
20. Booker Prize - Wolf Hall (Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums)
21. The Museum of Innocence (Nobel Prize) (Lisa Hill)
22. Wolf Hall - 2009 Booker (Caribousmom)
23. Morte d' Urban, Natl Book Award (Musings)
24. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao @ The Literary Dilettante
25. Ysabel (Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums)
26. World's Fair (Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums)
27. Library Queue (The Ask and the Answer)
28. Library Queue (A Year Down Yonder)
29. Library Queue (To Say Nothing of the Dog)
30. Swimming to Antarctica (Lesley @ A Life in Books)
31. Fleur Fisher (The Tin Kin)
32. The Road Home (Lisa Hill)
33. Jane Eyre (Katie)
34. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Lesley @ A Life in Books)
35. Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Bookie Mee)
36. The Arrival (Wendy @ Caribousmom)
37. Fleur Fisher (The Well and the Mine)
38. Awaris
39. Mee (The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas)
40. Black Sheep (Eisner Award)
41. Amazing Maurice and his educated rodents
42. Blue Heaven
43. The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan (Bookie Mee)
44. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
45. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
46. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Bookie Mee)
47. Caitlin (Skellig by David Almond)
48. Matt (The Late George Apley)
49. What Was Lost by Catherine O' Flynn (Samantha)
50. Let The Great World Spin (Caribousmom)
51. Tinkers (Caribousmom)
52. Kimmie( White Noise)
53. Mudbound (Caribousmom)
54. To Kill A Mockingbird (Bookie Mee)
55. Tender Morsels (Bookie Mee)
56. Matt (Selkirk's Island)
57. What I saw and how I lied (Tiny Librarian)
58. Trap (Miles Franklin award) Lisa Hill, ANZLit Lovers
59. Kimmie (All the Pretty Horses)
60. 3 girls and their brother (Tiny Librarian)
61. The Graveyard Book (@ The Other Lives)
62. The Shadow Year (@ The Other Lives)
63. When You Reach Me (Tiny Librarian)
64. Still Life (Tiny Librarian)
65. Matt (Timbuktu by Mark Jenkins)
66. Matt (Spn Civil War by Anthony Beevor)
67. Tiny Librarian (Her Royal Spyness)
68. Tiny Librarian (When you reach me)
69. Tiny Librarian (Airborn)
70. Tiny Librarian (The Outcast)

Sept/Oct/Nov 2009 Reviews

You may enter your Sept/Oct/Nov '09 reviews here if you don't contribute to the blog (or even if you do).

1. Steven (The Ghost Road)
2. The Winds of Dune at The Great Geek Manual
3. Nancy Posey
4. Laura (The Long Goodbye)
5. alisonwonderland (The Graveyard Book)
6. AF Heart
7. Snake Dreams
8. Angel's Advocate
9. alisonwonderland (Unwind)
10. The Oxford Project
11. Flash Forward
12. Mee (Strangers)
13. Isis at The Great Geek Manual
14. Cam (epi Bloguer)
15. Laura (Disgrace)
16. alisonwonderland (Kissing Games of the World)
17. Kimmie (The Bridge on the Drina)
18. Laura (Wolf Hall)
19. Mee (American Born Chinese)
20. Tracey (The Bone People)
21. alisonwonderland (Worth)
22. alisonwonderland (Rules)
23. Cam (How I Live Now)
24. Tracey (A Golden Age)
25. Lisa Hill (Crow Lake)
26. Cam (The Blind Assassin)
27. Kimmie (Possession)
28. Farm Lane Books (Perdido Street Station)
29. Farm Lane Books (De Niro's Game)
30. Farm Lane Books (Persepolis)
31. Farm Lane Books (2666)
32. Elizabeth (Wolf Hall)
33. Cam (The Hours)
34. Tracey (Eye of the Needle)
35. Kimmie (Flowers for Algernon)
36. Yellojkt
37. When You Reach Me (Tiny Librarian)
38. Tiny Librarian (Her Royal Spyness)

Finished Book Awards III? Give a link!

If you've finished Book Awards III, please give a link to your wrap-up post.

1. Alyce (At Home With Books)
2. Laura (Musings)
3. alisonwonderland (So Many Books, So Little Time)
4. Mee
5. Farm lane Books
6. Kimmie
7. Jessica (The Bluestocking Society)
8. Elizabeth (As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves)
9. Cam (epi Bloguer)
10. Heather @ Book Addiction
11. raidergirl3
12. Tricia (Library Queue)

Book Awards III Rules and Sign-up

5 months. 5 awards.

Thanks to all those who participated in either or both of the first two challenges!! Are you up for a third? The challenge for Book Awards 3 will be slightly different. First of all, it will only last for 5 months, from July 1 through December 1, 2009. That is because Book Awards 4 will be from February 1 through December 1, 2010.


  1. Read 5 books from 5 different awards during July 1, 2009 through December 1, 2009.

  2. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.

  3. Choices don't have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.

  4. 'Award winners' is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs.

  5. SIGN UP using Mr. Linky below -- please use a SPECIFIC post link.

  6. If you'd like to be a contributor on this blog, email me at 3m.michelle at gmail and reference your blog address if you have one. (I must have your email address, so comments to this post won't work.)

  7. Have fun reading!
1. Lezlie (Books 'N Border Collies)
2. Amy@ The Sleepy Reader
3. raidergirl3
4. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)
5. Sharon (Ex Libris)
6. Lizzy Siddal
7. Jaimie (Bell Literary Reflections)
8. Heather @ Book Addiction
9. Jessica (The Bluestocking Society)
10. Cam
11. Gini
12. Laura (Musings)
13. alisonwonderland
14. Kristi (Passion for the Page)
15. Steven
16. Tracey
17. Matt
18. Becky
19. K
20. Katrina
21. Alyce (At Home With Books)
22. Trendy Brandy Kids
23. Thebluestbutterfly
24. Shona
25. Elizabeth @ Suzy Q Homemaker
26. Jan aka booklover777
27. Bonnie
28. Kimmie
29. Shannon
30. Nise'
31. Samantha
32. Mee
33. Tammy
34. Elizabeth
35. Maike Thies
36. Leya
37. Veens
38. Tricia @ Library Queue
39. Chaucey
40. Katie
41. Jessica (The Bluestocking Society)
42. Chica
43. Lesley (A Life in Books)

The Jewish Husband (Review by Becky)

Levi, Lia. The Jewish Husband. 209 pages. (Originally published in Italy in 2001 as L'Albergo della Magnolia. Translated into English by Antony Shugaar. Published in 2009.)

Tonight, unexpectedly, I've decided to write to you. I probably won't mail it. At least not for now. But if I can bring myself to begin, I know I'll keep writing you, and for a long time. Maybe you'll read this all in one piece; perhaps these words will never reach you. Fate will determine that, or I will, if I decide to ask fate to lend me some of its power for a little while.
There was a war here. I imagine you know about it.

Who is our narrator? Who is he writing? I'll gladly answer the first one. But I hope to leave you guessing on the second! Our narrator is a young professor, Dino Carpi, his parents own a great little hotel, the Albergo della Magnolia, in fact, the family lives there. True, his childhood may not have been that typical. With hotel guests coming in and out all the time. Perhaps he's a bit more bookish than he might have been otherwise. But, all things considered, things are good. Then he meets Sonia. And wow. He's in love. Oh, he's in love. He finds himself changing--and fast--just to please her, to please her family. His parents and friends aren't all that happy with this new Dino, but, whatever makes him happy, right? The problem? He's Jewish. She's Catholic. It's Italy. In the 1930s. Mussolini rules. And he's getting chummier and chummier with Adolf Hitler. Will Hitler's master plans for the Jewish race become the new policy in fascist Italy? Can love survive these odds? Will Dino have his happily ever after?

I liked it. It was a compelling story. Well-written. I found this narrative approach interesting, his letters kept me hooked. Especially trying to figure out where the story was going...and who he was sharing his heart with. The details are intimate, in a way, but in a way that's raw and honest. (By intimate, I mean personal. Not sexual. Though there is some of that.) I didn't think the emotions were ever over-the-top. I didn't feel manipulated. Or cheated. Dino was not a political man. He was not an activist. (Though some of his friends were.) But he didn't need to be in order for his story to matter to me. This was his story of how the war interfered with his life, his marriage. A boy meets girl story with obstacles on a larger scale.

This one won the Moravia Prize for fiction.

Other reviews: Bookslut, The Front Table, Jew Wishes,

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Pride and Prometheus (Becky's Review)

Kessel, John. 2008. Pride and Prometheus, from The Baum Plan for Financial Independence. (Winner, Nebula in Novellette category)

"Had both her mother and her sister Kitty not insisted upon it, Miss Mary Bennet, whose interest in Nature did not extend to the Nature of Society, would not have attended the ball in Grosvenor Square."

Pride and Prometheus focuses on Mary Bennet, the often under appreciated sister of Elizabeth and Jane. Kessel describes her as, "Awkward and nearsighted, she had never cut an attractive figure, and as she had aged she had come to see herself as others saw her."

Kitty and Mary are the only unmarried Bennet sisters, and it isn't all that surprising that Mrs. Bennet won't be truly happy until Kitty finds a husband. (I doubt Mrs. Bennet has high expectations for Mary.)

At one of the ton parties, the two Bennet sisters are introduced to two gentleman: a Mr. Victor Frankenstein and a Mr. Henry Clerval. Mary's first impressions of Victor: "He had the darkest eyes that Mary had ever encountered, and an air of being there only on obligation. Whether this was because he was as uncomfortable in these social situations as she, Mary could not tell, but his diffident air intrigued her. She fancied his reserve might bespeak sadness rather than pride."

What does Mary think of Victor? What does Victor think of Mary? Can he find a sympathetic listener?

If you've read Frankenstein, you might be wondering where this fits in. The action of this story takes place AFTER Victor Frankenstein has had a heart-to-heart with his creation and promised 'the monster' a wife. This makes him sullen and cross, for the most part, but before he begins his work in earnest, he goes on holiday with his best friend, Henry Clerval. As to how this fits in with Austen, the action would take place several years at least after the close of Pride and Prejudice. (We do visit Mr. and Mrs. Darcy at Pemberley, and they already have children.)

What did I think of this one? It's complicated. Which isn't a fair answer, I know, but a true one. Kessel's Mary is intelligent and thoughtful. I liked that. Kessel's Kitty, well, it made me think at the very least. I hesitate to say too much. After all, if you've not read it, I don't want to spoil it for you. But I'll never look at Kitty quite the same way again. Is that a good thing? a bad thing? I don't know. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter if you've read this short story. I'm not sure what to think about Kessel's Frankenstein and his monster. I haven't decided if he captured their voices right or not. But I did *like* the conversation Mary has with the monster.

You can read this one online or download an audio file of the author reading this story.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Feed by M.T. Anderson (Review by Becky)

Anderson, M.T. 2002. Feed. Candlewick Press. 300 pages.

We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

Feed is both simple and complex; original and unique. Perhaps Titus sums it up best,

"it's about this meg normal guy, who doesn't think about anything until one wacky day, when he meets a dissident with a heart of gold...set against the backdrop of America in its final days, it's the high-spirited story of their love together, it's laugh-out-loud funny, really heartwarming, and a visual feast" (297).
Titus is our narrator and Violet is his love-interest. It all starts during spring break. On the moon. At a club. Titus, Violet, and a handful of other partying teens (mostly Titus' friends and classmates) are 'touched' by an old man. Their feeds--internal feeds--are hacked by this rebel. They broadcast--against their will--a doomsday message:

We enter a time of calamity. Blood on the tarmac. Fingers in the juicer. Towers of air frozen in the lunar wastes. Models dead on the runways, with smiles that can't be undone. Chicken shall rot in the aisles. See the pillars fall. (39)

They are taken into custody. Hospitalized. Examined to make sure that their feeds are fixed before they are fully reactivated. And all seems to be first.

The feeds are responsible for so much. They deliver non-stop entertainment (music, movies, etc), non-stop advertisements and shopping opportunities, and instant connections with the world. Features such as chat and messaging, for example. Of course, with all this built into humanity--right inside the human brain--many things are being lost. Most importantly the ability to think critically, to make observations, to understand and perceive reality.

But as Titus interacts with Violet, he begins to think. And this scares him in a way. Overwhelms him. I'll be honest, Titus isn't always a lovable guy. He can be a real jerk. And Titus and his friends don't keep it clean. (So if 'bad' language offends you, then this is not the book for you.)

I'm not quite sure what to think of Feed. On the one hand, I think it's a smart novel. It challenges readers to think. To perhaps take more of an interest in the world around them. To think about cause and effect. To consider the big picture. Furthermore, it's well-written. Never for a minute do you doubt that this is Titus speaking. That this is Titus's world. The language. The dialogue. The style. Everything helps to establish this world Anderson is creating. But on the other hand, it's a bit of a downer. It's a bit sad, a bit cynical. Did I expect a happy ending? No. Would a happy ending work on this one? Never. I wouldn't think of changing it. This book tells the only story that it can tell.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Old Man's War (Review By Becky)

Scalzi, John. 2005. Old Man's War. TOR. 311 pages.

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army. Visiting Kathy's grave was the less dramatic of the two.

John Perry, our narrator, is a great guy to get to know. He's seventy-five, but his life is just beginning. Or should I say, just beginning to begin again. John and Kathy--like so many other senior citizens--decided upon reaching the big 6-5 to volunteer for the army. (They have ten years to change their minds. They're called into service when they're 75.) What does this mean? It means that as soldiers they'll be leaving Earth behind forever. They're not allowed to return...ever. But it also means--in a way--longevity. Though no one knows quite how, they know that *something* will be done to their bodies to make them young and strong and vibrant again. Sure, to get this vitality, this new youth, this health they have to pledge themselves to serve in the army, to fight to protect human colonies on other planets. Two to ten years. That's what it will cost. If they survive, they'll have a second life, a second chance. (Just remember that a younger body doesn't make for a younger soul.)

John doesn't know exactly all that he's in for. But he knows it's bound to be better than just growing old and dying. He figures that he can adapt to just about anything.

War. It's inescapable when it's in the title. John Perry will have to fight to survive, to stay alive. He'll have to learn to follow orders. (Not all of his fellow soldiers do, you know. Some pay for this with their lives.) And John has the makings of an excellent soldier. He's good at surviving. Suspiciously good at surviving if you ask some folks. Unlike most soldiers, John is going to have some close encounters with the Special Forces. Actually serving alongside them for a while. And what he learns is a bit him at least.

Old Man's War is an engaging read. It has just the right blend of humor and action to make it worthwhile.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

To Be A Slave by Julius Lester (Review by Becky)

Lester, Julius. 1968. To Be A Slave.

This book is a 1969 Newbery Honor Winner. And it's easy to see why. What should you expect from this one? Why should you read it? Well, Lester has woven together compelling primary sources into a book that is powerful and moving. The thing that impresses me most about the book is its richness. It presents first-hand accounts, primary sources. Accounts from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Stories from slaves and ex-slaves. Stories from men and women. These stories don't need a lot of dressing up. They don't need to be sensationalized. In their very simplicity, they speak volumes.

To be a slave. To be owned by another person, as a car, house, or table is owned. To live as a piece of property that could be sold--a child sold from its mother, a wife from her husband. To be considered not human, but a "thing" that plowed the fields, cut the wood, cooked the food, nursed another's child; a "thing" whose sole function was determined by the one who owned you.
To be a slave. To know, despite the suffering and deprivation, that you were human, more human than he who said you were not human. To know joy, laughter, sorrow, and tears and yet to be considered only the equal of a table.
To be a slave was to be a human being under conditions in which humanity was denied. They were not slaves. They were people. Their condition was slavery.
They who were held as slaves looked upon themselves and the servitude in which they found themselves with the eyes and minds of human beings, conscious of everything that happened to them, conscious of all that went on around them. Yet slaves are often pictured as little more than dumb, brute animals, whose sole attributes were found in working, singing, and dancing. They were like children and slavery was actually a benefit to them--this was the view of those who were not slaves. Those who were slaves tell a different story.
Highly recommended.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

July/August 2009 Reviews

You may enter your July/August '09 reviews here if you don't contribute to the blog (or even if you do).

1. Steven (Kafka on the Shore)
2. Steven (The Human Stain)
3. Alyce (The Giver)
4. Becky (Old Man's War)
5. Becky (To Be A Slave)
6. Elizabeth (A Good House)
7. Laura (Home)
8. Steven (De Niro's Game)
9. K (Graceling)
10. K (The White Tiger)
11. K (To Kill a Mockingbird)
12. Steven (Neuromancer)
13. Matt (Possession)
14. Matt (Fox Hunting Man)
15. K (A Dirty Job)
16. Matt (The Chill)
17. TGGM (The Strain)
18. Matt (The Waiting Years)
19. Matt (One of Ours)
20. Mee (Middlesex)
21. Matt (Arctic Dreams)
22. Still Alice
23. Tricia (These is My Words)
24. Tricia (When You Reach Me)
25. Tricia (The Education of Little Tree)
26. Tricia (The Lincolns)
27. Kimmie (The Book of Ruth)
28. Mee (Burnt Shadows)
29. Mee (Snakes and Earrings)
30. Steven (The Known World)
31. Alyce (Half of a Yellow Sun)
32. Alyce (Outlander)

Laura's Review - Home

Marilynne Robinson
325 pages

At 38 years old, Glory Boughton has returned to Gilead, Iowa to care for her aging father, the Reverend Robert Boughton. Boughton is a retired Presbyterian minister, and a good friend of the Congregationalist minister, John Ames (the main character in Robinson's Pulitzer-winning book, Gilead). Glory is recovering from a failed relationship and is simultaneously resentful of and thankful for her new routine. One day, her older brother Jack comes back into her life after 20 years away from the family. Jack had a troubled youth in Gilead, and his years away not been much better. He has been in jail, he has an alcohol problem, and there is a lingering issue regarding his relationship with a woman named Della.

It's not clear just why Jack decided to return to Gilead, but both Glory and his father decide to give him a chance. The story moves along at a leisurely pace, much like a lazy summer day. Jack finds much-needed stability, tending to the garden and minor repairs around the house. Glory finds companionship, love, and understanding that she didn't think possible from Jack. And yet, Jack's demons never completely leave him. His status with Della is uncertain. While he achieves a kind of reconciliation with his father, tensions do flare from time to time as Robert is unable to completely let go of past hurts. Jack's relationship with John Ames is also tenuous. Eventually, Jack takes the only reasonable action to alleviate his pain, although as the reader we know it will never really go away.

This is a sad, moving, and yet also surprisingly uplifting book of family relationships, redemption, and grace. Highly recommended. ( )

My original review can be found here.
Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout
270 pages

Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel centers around Olive and Henry Kitteridge, an older couple living in a small town in Maine, grappling with aging and the changes in the world around them. Good friends have died; young people are a mystery. Their son Christopher has married and moved away. The novel is actually a baker's dozen of short stories, each featuring Olive in some way. Sometimes the story is all about Olive; at other times she is but a passing figure seen on the stairs or on a balcony, or a casual observer of another's life story.

Olive is a former middle school math teacher both feared and respected by her students. She's a large woman, grown even more so in her sixties and seventies. She has difficulty showing her emotions, keeping her son's estrangement to herself rather than sharing this grief with friends. She can also be a bit brusque and abrasive. But despite this I couldn't help liking Olive. The stories flow chronologically through Olive's later years. I found a few especially memorable:
  • Pharmacy: This is the first story, and introduces Olive and Henry and is also the only story focused primarily on Henry's thoughts and feelings. The reader meets Olive first from Henry's point of view.
  • Starving: An amazing story of Harmon, who is in a lifeless marriage with Bonnie and befriends another woman named Daisy. She helps him discover himself, and he takes a significant decision in hopes of happiness, but the story ends a bit unresolved.
  • A Different Road: A traumatic incident disrupts Olive and Henry's peaceful lives and has a lasting impact.
  • Security: Olive visits her newly-married son after a long time apart. They have difficulty relating to one another as adults and this further strains their relationship.
While each of these stories can stand on its own, this book is wonderful when read cover-to-cover, as a novel. Full of rich characters and emotional impact, it will remain with me for some time. ( )

My original review can be found here.
The book awards challenges are a favorite of mine, and 3M is just devious enough to "raise the bar" each time, encouraging us all to rise to new heights in reading prizewinners. And I keep taking the bait ... In the original Book Awards Reading Challenge , any 12 award-winners would do, and I read Booker and Pulitzer winners like there was no tomorrow. For Book Awards II , 3M expected us to read 10 books representing 5 different awards. Well, OK, still plenty of options there , and plenty of room for overlap with long-term challenges.

Book Awards III is a shorter challenge than the first two, but this time we must read 5 books from 5 different awards. This required a bit of thinking, but I found some books in my reading plan and on my shelves that fit the bill:

1. Home, by Marilynne Robinson (Orange Prize) - review
2. Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (Pulitzer Prize) - review
3. The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler (Edgar Award)
4. Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee (Booker Prize, Commonwealth Writers' Prize)
5. 2009 Booker Prize winner (Booker Prize)

Alyce's Review - The Giver

The Giver
by Lois Lowry
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: 2002 (Mass Market)
ISBN: 978-0440237686
192 Pages
Fiction: Young Adult

Summary (from the publisher):

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

My Opinion:

The Giver is an amazing novel that lays out the details of a whole world in only 192 pages. It is so well crafted that every sentence and section work together not only to explain this strange world, but also to create an emotional impact upon the reader.

Jonas seems like any normal boy from our day and age, but the main difference lies in his surroundings. But not all is as it seems, and one by one the reader's assumptions of what is normal are stripped away as different aspects of the society are revealed.

At first those differences don't seem that strange. Things like yearly ceremonies where each age group advances to the next level of learning are similar enough to modern graduation ceremonies that they wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Other aspects (which I won't list here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone) are more surprising.

What I liked the most about this book was that it encompassed a whole world in such a short span of pages, and it made me feel deeply about the people of that world. I was hopeful for Jonas and his friends, and heartbroken over the lot of the Giver.

There were some aspects of the story that were not fully explained and so the reader is left to wonder how certain processes work (such as the transfer of memories). As long as you are able to accept that some things work a certain way without having an explanation of why they work that way, then it is no obstacle to enjoying the plot.

I highly recommend this book to everyone! It is going on my list of all time favorites. When I finished it I found myself thinking about it for days; pondering the ending and what it really meant. I found out that there are two sequels called Gathering Blue (which is a story with all different characters) and Messenger (which ties all of the books together) that clear up some of the ambiguity about the ending. I'm sure I will read them at some point, but right now I'm still mulling over and savoring the story of The Giver.

Rating: 5/5


WINNER 1994 - Newbery Medal Winner
WINNER 1994 - ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 1994 - ALA Notable Children's Book
WINNER 1996 - New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award
WINNER 1995 - Virginia Young Readers Program Award
WINNER 1995 - Arkansas Charlie May Simon Master List
NOMINEE 1995 - Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
WINNER 1996 - Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
WINNER 1996 - Kansas William White Award
WINNER 1995 - Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
WINNER 1994 - Maine Student Book Award
NOMINEE 1997 - Colorado Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 1998 - Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
FINALIST 1994 - Massachusetts Children's Book Award

Author Information:

For information about Lois Lowry and her writing please visit her website.

Have you finished Book Awards II? Post your link here!

Congrats, and thanks for participating!

1. Teresa
2. raidergirl3
3. Nicola
4. Lauren
5. Robin
6. 3m
7. Sandra (Fresh Ink Books)
8. Laura
9. Alice
10. Matt
11. Joanna
12. Lightheaded
13. Tammy
14. Sheri @ A Novel Menagerie
15. Rhinoa
16. Becky
17. Tricia (Library Queue)
18. Lezlie (Books 'N Border Collies)
19. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)
20. Jessica (The Bluestocking Society)
21. Kim (page after page)
22. J
23. Kristi (Passion for the Page)
24. Cheli
25. Lizzy Siddal
26. Mee
27. Caribousmom
28. tanabata
29. Kimmie
30. Mrs. V (Mrs. V's Reviews)
31. K
32. Tiny Librarian
33. alisonwonderland
34. JLS Hall (Joy's Blog)
35. Nise'
36. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog

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Eisner Award

1991 Elektra Lives Again, by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
1992 To the Heart of the Storm, by Will Eisner
1993 Signal to Noise, by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
1994 A Small Killing, by Alan Moore and Oscar Zarate
1995 Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde Vol. 2, by P. Craig Russell
1996 Stuck Rubber Baby, by Howard Cruse
1997 Fax from Sarajevo, by Joe Kubert
1998 Batman & Superman Adventures: World's Finest, by Paul Dini, Joe Staton, and Terry Beatty
1999 Superman: Peace on Earth, by Paul Dini and Alex Ross
2000 Acme Novelty Library #13, by Chris Ware
2001 Safe Area GoraĹžde, by Joe Sacco
2002 The Name of the Game, by Will Eisner
2003 One! Hundred! Demons! by Lynda Barry
2004 Blankets, by Craig Thompson
2005 The Originals, by Dave Gibbons
2006 Top 10: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore and Gene Ha
2007 American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
2008 Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan
2009 Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell
2010 Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli
2011 Wilson by Daniel Clowes (tie)
2011 Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee (tie)

Kiriyama Prize

Lloyd Jones - Mister Pip (fiction)
Julia Whitty - The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific (nonfiction)

Haruki Murakami - Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (fiction)
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin - Three Cups of Tea (nonfiction)

Luis Alberto Urrea - The Hummingbird’s Daughter (fiction)
Piers Vitebsky - The Reindeer People (nonfiction)

Nadeem Aslam - Maps for Lost Lovers (fiction)
Suketu Mehta - Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (nonfiction)

Sa Shan - The Girl Who Played Go (fiction)
Inga Clendinnen - Dancing with Strangers (nonfiction)

Rohinton Mistry - Family Matters (fiction)
Pascal Khoo Thwee - From the Land of Green Ghosts (nonfiction)

Patricia Grace - Dogside Story (fiction)
Peter Hessler - River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze (nonfiction)

Michael Ondaatje - Anil’s Ghost (fiction)
Michael David Kwan - Things That Must Not Be Forgotten: A Childhood in Wartime China (nonfiction)

Cheng Ch’ing-wen - Three-Legged Horse (fiction)
Andrew X. Pham - Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Journey through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam (nonfiction)

Ruth L. Ozeki - My Year of Meats (fiction)*

Patrick Smith - Japan: A Reinterpretation (nonfiction)*

Alan Brown - Audrey Hepburn's Neck (fiction)*

(*)Note: only one Kiriyama Prize, for fiction -or- nonfiction, was awarded in the first three years of the award, 1998, 1997, and 1996.

May '09 Reviews

1. Samantha (In The Woods)
2. Farm Lane Books (Theory of War)
3. Farm Lane Books (The Secret River)
4. Kimmie (Rendezvous with Rama)
5. Erin (Dune)
6. Amy@TheSleepyReader(The Stones Cry Out)
7. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog (The Senator's Wife)
8. tanabata (The Graveyard Book)
9. tanabata (Skim)
10. alisonwonderland (Rapunzel's Revenge)
11. J (Small Island)
12. TheChicGeek (The Blind Assassin)
13. Jill (Interpreter of Maladies)
14. K (The Graveyard Book)
15. JLS Hall (The Optimist's Daughter)
16. Bellezza (Mudbound)
17. Amy@TheSleepyReader(A Proper Pursuit)
18. Jill (Mudbound)
19. alisonwonderland (Bridge to Terabithia)
20. alisonwonderland (Savvy)
21. alisonwonderland (The Full Cupboard of Life)
22. K (Amsterdam)
23. Kimmie (The Sound and the Fury)
24. Caribousmom (Midnight's Children)
25. Cath (The Circle)
26. Cath (The Circle)
27. tanabata (Still Life)
28. tanabata (Looking for Alaska)
29. tanabata (No Great Mischief)
30. Tiny Librarian (A Wrinkle in Time)
31. Tiny Librarian (Millions)
32. Kimmie (Breathing Lessons)
33. K (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)
34. Tiny Librarian (Graveyard Book)
35. Amy@TheSleepyReader(The Worst Hard Time)
36. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)
37. JLS Hall (Great Victorian Collection)
38. JLS Hall (The Master)

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A Proper Pursuit- Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin
432 pages

Violet Hayes has always thought that her mother, who left when she was nine years old, was in a hospital somewhere struggling to recover and return to her family. However, upon announcing his intention to remarry her father tells her that her mother didn’t want to be tied down and that she left and divorced him. Violet discovers that her mother is in Chicago and since the World’s Fair(the year is 1893)is in town, Violet convinces her father to let her go there, stay with her grandmother, and see the Fair. She has intentions of searching for her mother and finding a little adventure. She also hopes to find love. Everyone seems to have their own agenda for Violet but she must do some soul-searching and discover what she truly wants as well as God’s will for her life before she is ready to fall in love.

Lynn Austin is one of my favorite authors. I have read several of her books and loved them all. Since A Proper Pursuit is a Christy award winner, I decided to read it for the Book Awards Challenge. As I mentioned this book was set at the turn of the century. In the past, this hasn’t been one of my favorite time periods to read about but since I have loved everything else written by Lynn Austin, I didn’t let that deter me. Violet is headstrong and beautiful as you would expect from our heroine. She is proposed to no less than three times in one week. However, each gentleman that has proposed has done so for his own selfish reasons and has not mentioned love to Violet. It takes her a while but Violet sorts out her life and reaches a satisfactory conclusion. It seemed to take her a bit too long, in my opinion, but she gets there eventually.

Overall,I enjoyed reading A Proper Pursuit. I found it a bit predictable and not my favorite Austin book but still very sweet. (3/5)

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Small Island ~ J's review

"But for me I had just one question - let me ask the Mother Country just one simple question: how come England did not know me?"

This is the question asked by the baffled Gilbert, one of the protagonists of Small Island, Andrea Levy's award winning tale of the first wave of Jamaicans to come to England after World War II. Gilbert is confused, because while any young student in Jamaica can recite the canals of England, the roadways, the ports, the railways, the docks, while they memorize the Parliaments and the laws that were debated there, while they take great pride in their mother country, the English that they meet have no idea of where Jamaica is. Most people guess Africa, probably because Gilbert is black. Gilbert is shocked, because Jamaica is part of the mighty British Empire, and so he imagines that all of the countries in that Empire would be part of a large family.

Small Island is told in four alternating first-person narratives that switch between a "present-day" story set in 1948, and flashbacks that establish the narrators' backgrounds. Gilbert and Hortense have come from Jamaica to London with high hopes of making it big in their fine and welcoming Mother Country. Queenie and Bernard are their English landlords.

Gilbert served in the Royal Air Force, with dreams of fighting for his country, dreams which are squelched by the brutal reality of racism in England. Nevertheless, he is frustrated by the slow life in Jamaica, and hopes to go to law school in England, and make his fortune there. Unfortunately, he does not have the money for passage over to England. Enter Hortence, a school teacher with dreams of her own. She wants to leave Jamaica as well, wants to experience the high style and sophistication of life in England. So, even though they don't know each other very well, they marry. She gives him the money he needs to go to England, he goes, finds a job and rents a room, and then sends for her to join him. Her disappointment at the shabbiness of post-war London is quickly eclipsed by her disappointment at the racism she experiences.

Queenie grew up on a dairy farm, and marries Bernard in order to escape that life, even though she finds him extremely dull. When he goes off to war, she begins to take in boarders to their oversized house. She doesn't see herself as being racist at all, though she does make comments like, "Don't worry, I don't mind being seen with you" when on a shopping expedition with Hortense. When Bernard returns from the war, he is horrified to find 'Coloreds' living in his house, and immediately begins plans to get them out.

Author Andrea Levy's father was among this first wave of immigrants from Jamaica to England, and Gilbert and Hortense's stories ring the most true. Their relationship is the most interesting, the most moving. Bernard seems more of a caricature, and a plot twist near the end of the book strains credibility. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful read, and I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who have come from the Caribbean, as Gilbert's voice is so true to the region.

Small Island is being made into a mini-series for the BBC. It has won the Orange Prize, was the Whitbread Book of the Year, and also won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

The Stones Cry Out - Sibella Giorello

Also posted on my blog.

In the middle of a hot Richmond summer two men(one white and one black) fall from the top of a warehouse during a racially-charged rally. Though there are hundreds of people at the rally, no one sees anything.

Raleigh Harmon is an FBI Agent who specializes in forensic geology. She is assigned to investigate this case as a civil rights case. Her supervisor considers it a waste of time and manpower and she is breathing down her neck to wrap it up quickly. Raleigh wants to do it right but can Richmond’s racial unrest be contained while she solves this case?

The Stones Cry Out falls into the mystery category but it’s also Christian Fiction. I wouldn’t say that it’s a thrill ride or grabs you and won’t let go but I would say that it’s steadily paced to keep your interest. Raleigh’s field of geology is interesting and I thought that it was handled well. It’s the type of information that is interesting in small does but could easily be overdone if it was written in minute detail. That’s not the case in this story.

Raleigh is a Christian and there are definite elements of faith in the story but, once again, they are handled nicely and don’t come off as pretentious or preachy.

My only problem with The Stones Cry Out came during dream sequences where Raleigh’s dead father directs her investigation. It just seemed sort of been there, done that, to me. Yet, on the other hand, it’s very sweet to think of her father helping her even after his death. It’s a bit contradictory but I guess I both liked and disliked the dreams.

I would recommend The Stones Cry Out if you enjoy good, clean, mysteries. It’s an enjoyable read and it also won the Christy Award for Best First Novel in 2008. (3.5/5)

A stunningly inventive, deeply moving fiction debut: stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a tiny fishing village in Australia to a foundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterly display of literary virtuosity and feeling.

In the magnificent opening story, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father’s experiences in Vietnam—and what seems at first a satire of turning one’s life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. “Cartagena” provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In “Meeting Elise,” an aging New York painter mourns his body’s decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees, where a young woman’s bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision.

Brilliant, daring, and demonstrating a jaw-dropping versatility of voice and point of view, The Boat is an extraordinary work of fiction that takes us to the heart of what it means to be human, and announces a writer of astonishing gifts.
Last year there was a great deal of excitement around this collection of short stories, culminating to being awarded at least one major literary prize (The Dylan Thomas Award). The author, Nam Le, was born in Vietnam, came to Australia as a child, and has lately been splitting his time between Australia, America and soon in the UK as well. We definitely claim him as an Aussie!

Nam Le has a chameleon like quality to his writing. In one story he is a struggling writer dealing with the visit of his father, in another he is a teenage assassin in the barrios of Columbia, and then again as a young woman visiting her friend in Tehran. He really doesn't miss a beat no matter whose voice he is telling the story in.

In Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice, the voice is that of a writer in his late 20s who is struggling to meet the deadline for an essay that is due, and with the visit by his father. Despite being of Vietnamese our writer has chosen to try and avoid telling the refugee stories that he knows, but during this visit by his father he gets to hear at least one more story of how his dad came to be living in Australia.

Having read that first story, it was something of a surprise to realise that the next story, Cartagena, is told from the point of view of a 14 year old hit man from the barrios of Columbia who needs to face up to the consequences of at least some of his actions.

Meeting Elise is another complete change of pace. This time the story is written from the perspective of an older man who is fast coming face to face with his mortality. He is hoping to meet up with his estranged daughter, but there is nothing at all certain in the arrangements.

The fourth story is probably my favourite, Halflead Bay. The main character is a young boy who is trying to deal with his mother's serious illness, and with the budding attraction he feels to Alison, who just happens to be connected with the town bully. My teaser from Teaser Tuesday came from this story.

If I had to pick my least favourite of this collection it would probably be Hiroshima. Le once again assumes a female voice, this time a young girl who is living in Hiroshima in the days before the end of WWII. Despite saying that it was my least favourite it was still a very poignant story, especially as the young girl comments about being able to differentiate between a squadron of planes flying overhead, and the war time slogans such as "do without until victory". One question that this story did make me think of is whether there are any historical fiction novels that are out there that speak about the Japanese WWII experience. There are a few that are set in Germany, but I don't know of any set in Japan about the normal Japanese persons experience.

In Tehran Calling, a young woman is trying to escape her broken romance and goes to visit her best friend who is now living in Tehran, and who is agitating for women's rights. Sarah and her friend Parvin had been somewhat estranged, but Sarah sees this as a chance to rectify that, but her visit to Tehran surprises her in many ways.

The final story in this collection, The Boat, is the story of a young girl who is trying to escape from Vietnam as one of the boat people. The boat is barely seaworthy, and very overcrowded, and it isn't long before the journey becomes perilous in many ways.

If you are looking for a short story collection, then this is certainly one to consider.