The Borrowers - Wendy's Book Review

"And, under this clock, below the wainscot, there was a hole..." -From The Borrowers, page 8-

Enchanting and full of the unrestrained joy of a child's imagination, Mary Norton's award winning book The Borrowers ranks among my favorites of childhood. In this lovely 50th Anniversary Edition, Norton explains the process which led her to write the story.

Looking back, the idea seems to be part of an early fantasy in the life of a very short-sighted child, before i was known that she needed glasses. -From the Introduction of The Borrowers, page xv-

When one cannot see panoramas or stars in the vast sea of sky, it is natural to look more closely at the tiny details concealed within the shrubs or along creek beds, or beneath the floorboards hidden among the dust motes. And this was what Norton did as a child. Her splendid imagination created entire worlds...and later, just before war broke out in Europe, her mind returned to these little people of her childhood...and The Borrowers was born.

Norton's endearing story centers around the Clocks - a family of tiny people who live beneath the floor of an old English country home. Arrietty, the Clocks only daughter, longs to go with her father on his borrowing escapades in the big house. And one day, he takes her with him. But, the unimaginable and most frightening thing occurs. Arrietty is "seen" by a boy and life for the Clocks is never again quite the same. Told in accessible language which draws the reader in, The Borrowers is classic children's literature which will be enjoyed by "kids" of all ages.

Norton wrote an entire series of Borrowers books which continue to capture the adventures of the Clock family. As a child, I read them all - over and over again. If you have not experienced the joy of a Norton story, you are missing something wonderful.

The 50th Anniversary edition of The Borrowers (published in 2003 by Harcourt Inc) contains the original British illustrations, never before published in the United States, and is recommended as a beautiful edition for the library.

This book is highly recommended; rated 5/5.

On the Flap:
"Back on the beat as sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork O'Connor has already seen his beautiful Northwoods jurisdiction through an eventful summer. Now, as the chill of autumn sweeps through the countryside, he's about to face a season of murder, adultery, and deceit that will take him from seedy backwoods bars and humble reservation shanties to the highest and most corrupt echelons of Chicago society."

From Me:
I hate starting something in the middle. I am one of those people that likes to read a series in order. However, I jumped in and started reading William Kent Krueger's books smack dab in the middle of a series and I didn't even know it. I chose these two books because they are award winners but they are fine as stand alone books. There are times when you have a vague sense that you are missing some of the back story but Krueger does a great job of filling in the reader in a way that is not heavy-handed.

Cork O'Connor is a truly human and likable guy. He is not so perfect as to be annoying. He has struggles and he faces them head-on. Yet he is a good man who tries to do the right thing. His marriage to Jo is strong yet they face the same problems that we all face such as balancing family and career, children growing up and getting ready for college and so on. Plus he faces things that most of us don't face like how do you protect your family when there has been a hit put out on you?

Mercy Falls was a fun and engaging read and I enjoyed it a lot. It is only edged out by Blood Hollow because the latter had so much that was thought-provoking aside from being a great mystery. Mercy Falls was "only" a great mystery (as if great mysteries are easy to turn out.) It does end with a bit of a cliff hanger and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series to find out what the heck happens.(4.5/5)
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Pulitzer 1999

I think I'd like the movie better. The narration is brilliant as Cunningham connects three women, three eras, and so many other symbols that I missed most of them. An homage to Mrs Dalloway and Virginia Woolf, my lack of knowledge and familiarity with both made this a less than impressive read. I acknowledge my lacking in this regard, not Cunningham's.
full review is here at my blog

Blooodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
Giller Prize Winner 2006

An interesting collection of stories, bound together by four beginning doctors, Lam's experience as an emergency room doctor gives a credible perspective, much like an ER episode. I like short stories, and novels loosely held together by some seemingly random threads, so I whipped through this book. I like finding the connection between chapters - how are these related?
full review here at my blog

This story is illustrative of the demise of the Victorian era from economic and social standpoints. Although the reader feels some wistfulness and nostalgia for times of elegance and propriety, the Ambersons, who symbolize these things, are hardly sympathetic characters and their blind devotion to this way of life makes them seem almost silly. The novel does have a compelling plot and redemption at the conclusion. Yes, it's written in flowery style, perhaps indicative of the time, but it is includes effective imagery and humor. It's a well-rounded piece of literature and worth reading.

The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau 1965

This is simply a great story and a great read about a wealthy, historic family in the segregated south. The Howlands have money but they don't show it. The tension becomes significant when the widower, William, "finds" Margaret, a poor black girl, and brings her home where she eventually bears his children. William also has a daughter and granddaughter from his first marriage (white), and the interaction between the family members weaves an interesting contrast in the times leading up to the civil rights movement. The Keepers of the House has a great climax and satisfying ending. I highly recommend it.

I haven't seen the musical like most people, so I had no expectations about the story. It is a collection of loosely connected stories where some characters reappear, and you're never quite sure who the narrator is other than an eyewitness if not active participant to the events. You do come away with a good sense of the people, culture and geography of the South Pacific layered with the story of American boys at war. I think the story would have been more absorbing as a single tale.
Winner of the Giller Prize, 1998

I like how Amazon describes this collection as “classic Munro: secrets, love, betrayal, and the stuff of ordinary lives”. Munro is like the proverbial fly on the wall, making no judgements on right or wrong, but simply letting the characters make their choices and then dealing with the consequences. Each story was engaging and while I have already forgotten some of them, others refuse to leave, bits of them still lurking in my thoughts. I’m glad I gave her a second chance. I won’t be quite so hesitant to read more by her in the future. (3.5/5)

Read my full review here.

Upcoming Yahoo Group Reads

BookAwards Group:
Jan 15: The Giver (Newbery)
Feb 15: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time (Whitbread)
March 15: Life & Times of Michael K (Booker)

Pulitzer Literature Group:
January 1: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (Pulitzer)
February 1: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (Pulitzer)
March 1: So Big by Edna Ferber (Pulitzer)

Booker Prize Group
February 1: Life & Times of Michael K (Booker)

Books in Translation Group
February 1: Independent People by Halldor Laxness (Nobel Laureate)

Classic Literature Group
February 1: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Nobel Laureate)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Wendy's Review

Some say that we shall never know and that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God. - From The Bridge of San Luis Rey, page 9 -

Thornton Wilder earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which has been called his masterpiece. The novella (only 107 pages) begins in the summer of 1714 when a bridge of great construction fails and plunges five people to their deaths in the gorge below. A witness to the tragedy, Brother Juniper, embarks on a quest to prove divine intervention by exploring (in great depth) the lives of the people killed.

The book is essentially a lesson in philosophy - exploring the meaning of love, the twists and turns of one's life amid the greater scheme of things, and whether death is fate or God's plan. There are not any real answers to any of the questions - just the questions.

Wilder writes in old fashioned language and the novella is set in a foreign country with all the subtle references to politics and religion of the time. I admit to getting dragged down in it all and struggled to slog through and finish the book.

Wilder's character development is one of the strengths of the book; and Wilder does this within a very few pages which speaks to his gift as a writer. My favorite characters were the twins Esteban and Manual and I think Wilder does an apt job of presenting their relationship to each other and the devastation of loss that occurs between them. Wilder connects all the central characters to each other...something that took me by surprise...sort of like the six degrees of separation theory. Because of this I expected a resolution to the ultimate question: Could it have been fate that plunged these people to their deaths? Or something larger? But, Wilder apparently never intended to provide an answer. In the afterword of the book I read, the publisher shares a letter from Wilder to one of his readers:

'The book is not supposed to solve. A vague comfort is supposed to hover above the unanswered questions, but it is not a theorem with its Q.E.D. The book is supposed to be as puzzling and distressing as the news that five of your friends died in an automobile accident.'

Perhaps had this been a non fiction philosophy text, I could accept Wilder's cop out on this issue. But, this is a work of fiction and I wanted the character of Brother Juniper to at least come to his own conclusion. Instead, the reader is left with an odd feeling of detachment.

Because this has been touted as a great work of literature, I wanted not only to like it, but to "get it." I'm sorry to say, neither of those things happened.

Not recommended; rated a generous 3/5.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

The story of a ten year old boy in sixties Ireland, his childhood antics and adventures, and the ultimate isolation and premature dissociation with the world he has known, owing to the separation of his parents. A growing up tale through an uncolored lens, that is deeply touching. Winner of the 1993 Booker Prize.

Read the Complete Review
William Kent Krueger
341 pages

A beautiful teen-aged girl disappears on New Year's Eve and no one is able to explain why. She seems to have everything but looks can be deceiving.

Cork O'Connor is the former sheriff of Tamarack County, Minnesota. However, he just can't help becoming involved in the tragic disappearance of Charlotte Kane or the apparent railroading of local bad boy, Solemn Winter Moon.

Cork doesn't want anything to do with God or the Church but when Solemn claims to have seen Jesus in a vision and seems changed, Cork doesn't think it's true or that it can last:

He thought about Joan of Arc. If somehow she had managed to escape the burning and live to see wrinkles and the other slow wounds of time on her skin, would she have ceased to hear God speak, laid down her sword, become some man's vessel carrying some man's child? He wondered how long it would take Solemn's certitude, his moment of grace to pass an leave him as empty and lost as everyone else. -pg 160, Blood Hollow

There are times when I could deeply empathize with Cork in his struggle of faith but I think that Father Mal Thorne, priest of the Catholic church in Cork's hometown of Aurora, Minnesota, sums it up best in a statement that he makes to Cork even before we understand the depths of his doubt:
"It would be easy if we all had visions, or if we all believed in those who did. My own feeling is that faith was never meant to be easy." -pg 130, Blood Hollow

And for all the doubt in both God and man that Cork wrestles with, he still remains a compassionate human being with a strong sense of justice:

"The dead can't speak for themselves," he said. "They've got no way to ask for justice. What's left behind in the details of their deaths is the only hope they have for pointing the way toward the truth, and someone ought to pay attention. It's called due diligence, Jo. It's what a good cop does. He considers all the possibilities, turns over all the stones, and he tries to do it without prejudice." - pg 138, Blood Hollow

I saved these two books by William Kent Krueger for last this month because I don't usually have too much trouble breezing through a good mystery. However, I didn't breeze through this one. There was a lot to mull over in the pages of this story and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.It's easy to see why it's an award winner and it will be among my best of 2007. (5/5)

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Cross-posted from my book blog.

Published in 1998. 226 pages.
Awarded both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999.

Brilliantly conceived and beautifully written, The Hours juxtaposes a few pieces of the life of writer Virginia Woolf with the lives of two other women. One is Clarissa Vaughan - nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway by her friend Richard after the character in Woolf's novel (first published in 1925); Clarrisa lives in Greenwich Village in the present day. The other woman, Laura Brown, who lives in California in 1949, is reading Mrs. Dalloway and struggling with her perception of her roles as wife and mother.

The 2002 film starred Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan, Julianna Moore as Laura Brown, and Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf. Kidman won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Here are a few quotes about the book that put into words a lot of my own thoughts:
"[The Hours] is both a clever tribute to the life and work of Virginia Woolf, and a brilliant examination of the quietly desperate lives of three women." - Seattle Times

"Cunningham here undertakes perhaps one of the most daunting literary projects imaginable.... Cunningham's portrait of Woolf is heartbreaking.... With The Hours, Cunningham has done the impossible: he has taken a canonical work of literature and, in reworking it, made it his own." - Yale Book Review

"Brilliant... haunting - winding skeins of words that, as they unspool, render vividly the three heroines' complex interior lives." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Hours was not on my original Book Awards Reading Challenge list, but because the Yahoo Book Awards group was reading it - and the Yahoo Classic Lit group was reading Mrs. Dalloway - I decided that I'd like to read them both. (I started with Mrs. Dalloway, but I got bogged down in Woolf's writing style, so I set it aside for The Hours. I'm committed to finishing Mrs. Dalloway before the end of the month though.) I'm also committed to watching the film version this coming week.

I can't say that The Hours is a "favorite" book - but I do think that it is noteworthy, and I'm glad that I read it.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Mo's review)

Early this month I read Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief” as part of a bookring I had signed up for, and it also counts as my 5th selection for the Book Awards Challenge in which I’m participating, as it won the 2006 National Jewish Book Award.

Actually, I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this book. While I read an eclectic range of genres/styles, I admit I typically shy away from most books that are [1] marketed as YA novels, and especially from those that are [2] particularly saddening or disgraceful in content (i.e. Novels about slavery, child abuse, the holocaust, etc.). So, when I began this tale, narrated by Death and set in World War II Germany, I was a bit apprehensive that I would enjoy it at all, but I was engaged by Zusak’s writing style, and captivated by the story. I won’t write a synopsis here, as there are several well-written descriptions available elsewhere, suffice it to say that this not-so-young adult enjoyed the book, as well. Perhaps not my favorite read of the year, but the story will most certainly stay with me.

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Title: Love in the Time of Cholera
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Edith Grossman
Country: Colombia
Year: 1985
Rating: A-
Pages: 348

There are already some great reviews of this book out there: Eva at A Striped Armchair, Tanabata at In Spring it is the Dawn, Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot, and Chris at Book-A-Rama have all read Love in the Time of Cholera this year.

Complete review here.

First sentence: It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

Short summary: How long would you wait for love? Florentino Ariza is preared to wait 51 years, 9 months, and 4 days. Love in the Time of Cholera is above all a love story set in the late 19th and early 20th century; a story about all the different ways that people can love each other.

What I thought: This novel is in a style completely different from One Hundred Years of Solitude (I would not classify it as a "magical realism" novel), but it retains the lyrical, passionate, and evocative prose that Marquez is so well known for. It is a love story, but it is not only a love story--more of an in-depth look at love and obsession, and how it can change and evolve over a lifetime.

I always love the imagery in many South American novels, and Marquez is one of the masters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes magical realism, thoughtful prose, and strong character development. It is a book that demands your attention - if you don't have the time to immerse yourself, hold on to it for another day.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I read this one for the Newbery Project as well as for the Reading Awards Challenge. It is the winner of the Newbery Award, which honors the best in children's literature. This is the same author as Because of Winn-Dixie so I guess this also qualifies as a 2nds, even though I completed that challenge.

Despereaux is a mouse who goes on a quest to save his beloved Princess Pea from the rats in the dungeon. A servant, Miggery Sow, gets involved in the rat's evil plans. The story is one part fairy tale, one part quest story, one part fantasy, and one part bedtime story. The author relates that her son's friend asked for a story about a hero with large ears, and this book is that story.

The entire review is posted on my blog.

Laura's Review - The Giver

The Giver
Lois Lowry
179 pages

First sentence: It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.

Reflections: Jonas is a 12-year-old boy who lives happily with his parents and sister. He goes to school and plays with his friends, just like kids everywhere. But Jonas' world is unique in many respects. Correct word usage is of utmost importance. Families are made up of two parents, and two children -- always a boy and girl. All children experience their birthday the same day in December, through an elaborate community ceremony. When children turn 12, they are assigned their adult job during the ceremony. And the year that Jonas turns 12, he is assigned a very special role: that of The Receiver, the single member of the community who harbors all the memories of humankind.

Training for The Receiver role requires Jonas to spend time with the current Receiver, whom he now calls The Giver. The Giver is very old, and must transfer all memories to Jonas before he can be released from his responsiblities, and from the community. His gifts to Jonas are unique and special -- memories of snow and colors, for example -- and sometimes the memories are painful, such as war and death. The memories, and the deep feelings associated with them, have long been eradicated from the rest of the community in an attempt to create "sameness" among all people, and therefore harmony. Jonas and The Giver devise a plan to bring those memories back and enrich the lives of others. In carrying out this plan, Jonas himself becomes a true Giver himself.

This book packs quite a punch compared to most young adult literature. Would "sameness" really bring harmony and peace to our world? Or would it bring the emptiness pervading Jonas' community? Should we not then celebrate the differences in our world, rather than fight over them? This powerful, thought-provoking book will linger in my memory for a very long time. ( )

The original review can be found here.

He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
An erring spirit from another hurled;
A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped
By choice the perils he by chance escaped.
-A line from Byron's poem 'Lara'-

J.M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace explores the ideas of race, gender and generational differences. In simple, yet powerful prose, Coetzee develops his main character - a professor of communications named David Lurie - amid the social and political complexities of South Africa.

David Lurie is a middle aged man of questionable morality, whose passions lie with young women...girls, really. When he begins an affair with one of his students - the beautiful Melanie - David finds himself on the other side of a sexual harassment investigation. He retreats to his daughter Lucy's farm in the country where terror and unexpected violence unfold.

Throughout the novel, Coetzee intersperses the poetry of Byron, and the tangled life of this poet as he pursues a girl much younger than himself. David Lurie's desire to write an opera about Byron and his lover is largely symbolic of David's own struggle within himself.

Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: 'Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other.' His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul. - From Disgrace, page 4 -

In fact, the novel's largest theme seems to be about the confusing nature of language - filled with misunderstanding, second meaning, and the breakdown of communication - specifically that between the sexes, the generations, and the races. It is clear throughout the book that David's perceptions, as a man, are different from Lucy's (or Melanie's) female perceptions; and that David's understanding of African culture as a white man, are different from the black Petrus (who lives on Lucy's land). David's struggles to communicate and connect with his daughter are fraught with misunderstanding.

Coetzee won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003 - and it is easy to see why after reading Disgrace. His style is spare and shocking, and the novel is not one that a reader can put down and forget.

Highly recommended; rated 4.5/5.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1968

Reading this really made me regret that I can’t read Japanese (or speak it for that matter). Although Edward G. Seidensticker is well regarded as a translator, I got the feeling that it would be more beautiful, more lyrical in the original. Kawabata’s style is often compared to haiku poetry and you get definite glimpses of that here but I couldn’t help wondering constantly what it read like in Japanese. So throughout the story I could never quite forget that I was reading a translation. That said, I enjoyed the book and many of the images from it still linger in my mind. It’s a story of beauty and sadness that should be savoured, not rushed.
But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt a quiet like the voice of the rain flow over him.
When he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the Nobel committee apparently cited 3 of his novels including Snow Country. I look forward to reading the other two (Thousand Cranes and The Old Capital) at some point. (3.5/5)

Cross-posted on my blog.
Winner of the National Book Award, 1970

As there often is in Oates’ stories, there’s a lot of violence in this book, and desperation and delusion and it’s quite depressing how the characters never seem to escape their past, how certain events continue to affect their lives long afterwards. Alternating the narrative among the main characters helped keep the story moving and made the characters really take shape even if I didn’t particularly like or sympathise with them much of the time.

If I remember correctly, I heard this book mentioned a few years ago during a discussion of Middlesex, primarily since it’s also partly set in Detroit during the riots, and I'd had it in the back of my mind to read it ever since. It took me quite a while to get through and it’s certainly not uplifting but I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. (3.5/5)

Read my full review here.

Clara Callan, by Richard Wright

This was my November read, and I really enjoyed it! It won the 2001 Governor General's Award (Canada), and the 2001 Giller Prize. It's the journal and letters of the title character, writing to her sister who has moved to New York City, right before World War II. I found it to be a great read, and particularly evocative of time and place.

If you are interested in reading my ramblings, my review is here.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Bridget Jones's Diary
By Helen Fielding
Completed December 13, 2007

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a cute, fluffy novel that had me laughing at many parts and groaning in others. Of the several “chick lit” books I have read, Bridget is as adorable, vulnerable and likeable as her “chick” counterparts. However, what sets her apart, in my opinion, is that she learned from her adventures and came out a wiser person (though, with a sequel, this could have been temporary!).

Bridget Jones is a single thirty-something who can’t find a meaningful relationship, works in a dead-end job and must cope with her mother’s mid-life crisis. She writes about her life in her diary, including a faithful documentation of her daily alcohol, tobacco and caloric consumption. In effect, she gains 74 pounds but loses 72, binges on alcohol (especially when times get tough) and never strikes it rich. Her affair with her boss, Daniel, leaves her feeling miserable and lonely, and by the end of the book, she finally gets her act together to end the year on a positive note.

Thanks to Raidergirl3 (Elizabeth) for recommending that I read Bridget Jones’s Diary around the holidays. It was perfect for this time of year – a light read with short chapters (great for bookmarking in between baking batches of cookies) and some good laughs. It was a fun book. Interestingly, it was awarded the British Book Award (Book of the Year) in 1998. You go girl! ( )

(Cross-posted from my blog)
My experience with cyberpunk has not been large. I have read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, and liked them well enough. This Canadian novel is the archetypal cyberpunk novel and won the triple crown of sci-fi literary awards: the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. For most of the novel, I was not too enticed. I kept waiting for myself to care, and to feel really invested into the plot. It did not happen, at least not the extent that I wanted it to. As a a result, I have feeling I'll forget the plot of this book fairly soon. I think the blunt and straightforward prose are an advantage, but I was not wholly interested in the story. There are interesting concepts about AI, genetic engineering, cyberspace, and the concepts of the power of the free market to over rule the current world structure. Gibson wrote about all these before it was popular in the mainstream. If only I did not feel I have already read it all before because this fifteen years on. This would probably be a good introduction to cyberpunk as it has all the elements.

Esperanza Rising - Pam Munoz Ryan

Title: Esperanza Rising
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Country: America
Year: 2000
Rating: A
Pages: 262

My review can be found here.

The Pura Belpre Award is not on the list of awards, but I was still planning on counting it for this challenge. I hope that is ok!

Blood Work

Terry McCaleb used to be a top FBI profiler but the stress has taken it's toll on him. He suffers a heart attack which leaves him him in need of a heart transplant. He receives his heart transplant and is recovering at his boat when Graciela, the sister of his heart donor, shows up and asks him to help her find her sister's killer. Things get twisty from there.

I really enjoy reading mysteries. That's what lured me to this title but I purposely tried not to find out too much about it because I didn't want to accidentally come across any spoilers. I didn't even realize that a movie had been made from this book. So I guess I was successful!

This was an easy and fun read for me. I found the characters very likable and I enjoyed the fact that there were a couple of plot twists. I also found the story to be pretty unique. It definately kept me turning the pages. I will be looking for more by Michael Connelly.(4/5)

4th book - Bridge to Terabithia

Winner of the Newbery Award, 1978

This was a beautifully written book on friendship, imagination, and courage as both Jess and Leslie learn to take risks. I felt I got to know the characters well in a short amount of time.

More book information here.

#14 Judith Hearne / # 15 Set In Stone

#14 The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Authors' Club Award for First Novel 1955)
2007 was the year in which I discovered Brian Moore. I picked him for my reading the author challenge and now have a habit which must be satisfied! I've even set up a blog just for discussions on all 20 of his novels. (And I though these challenges were supposed to help reduce theTBR.)

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was my third and final novel for both the Reading the Author challenge and the Book to Movie. (Don't you just love crossovers!) And it' s a strong contender for my personal book of the year. I didn't think anything would approach the lofty heights of Karen Connolly's The Lizard Cage - but Moore has.

Thoughts on the movie here. Thoughts on the book on my new blog TheMooreTheMerrier.

#15 Set in Stone - Linda Newbery (2006 Costa Award for Children's Novel)

I didn't quite get into this as much as I was expecting and I think it's because it is a young adult's novel and shied away from the really murkier aspects of its gothic material. Further thought here. However, I'm glad I read it. It means I can start on the 2007 Costa award winners as soon as they are announced!

East of Eden (Kristi's book #4 )

I've just finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck (winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature). I've enjoyed every Steinbeck book I've ever read and this one was no exception. It's a long, complicated book that follows the lives of two families (one of which was Stienbeck's maternal ancestors) over three generations. Ultimately, the book is about the good and evil that reside in each of us—and the balance between the two. As is always the case with Steinbeck’s novels, my favorite part was the author’s masterful use of language. You can find my complete review on my blog.

Silverwing & Dust

Books Number 10 and 11 for me in this challenge are award winning Canadian children's books.

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel
First in the Silverwing Trilogy

Pages: 274
First Published: 1997
Genre: YA, animal fantasy
Awards: Mr. Christie's Book Award, CLA Children's Book of the Year, OLA Silver Birch Award
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Skimming over the banks of the stream, Shade heard the beetle warming up its wings.

Comments: When Shade a young Silverwing bat is blown off course during his colony's migration south, he is determined to find his way back to them. An impending war between the bats and birds, and a hungry vampire bat recently escaped from a observatory make his journey even more challenging. I couldn't put this one down. An utterly compelling story with interesting characters. The book ends with a set-up for the next in the trilogy and I'm looking forward to reading it. Recommended

Dust by Arthur Slade

Pages: 168
First Published: 2001
Genre: YA, science fiction
Awards: Governor General's Award, Saskatchewan Book Award, Mr. Christie's Book Award
Rating: 5/5

First Sentence:

Matthew Steelgate had five cents in his pocket and a yearning for chewing gum and licorice.

Comments: When Robert's 7-year old brother disappears from a 1930s Saskatchewan prairie town it is only the first of many strange things that happen. He starts to have strange dreams, his parents seem to forget his brother, the local reverend starts making animal noises and an ivory-skinned man has arrived in town promising to make a rain machine. The first chapter describes the disappearance of the little boy and is utterly chilling. I was hooked at that point and couldn't stop reading. It's a short book and I don't want to give anything away by saying too much so I'll just say Slade has written a book which is a cross between Stephen King and W.O. Mitchell. I was at turns reminded of Who Has Seen the Wind and Needful Things. I will definately be reading others by this author.


One of Ours by Willa Cather 1923 Pulitzer

This is beautifully written and possesses a dream-like quality, but it read like two unconnected stories. I felt it was rather obvious Cather had no first-hand experience with the war and romanticized it unrealistically. Even the influenza breakout on the voyage to France is foot-noted as pre-dating the actual event. The purpose of the "war" is to give purpose to a Nebraska farm-boy's life which it does with predictable tragedy.

Thanks 3M

Thanks 3M for the link to post to the blog. Just wanted to officially ask to join the challenge.

I've read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the PPW for Fiction this year (2007) and am in the process of listening to Last Orders by Graham Swift a Booker.

Thanks again.

Jan in Edmonds ;-)