Monday, November 30, 2009

What's in a Name? 3 Challenge

Challenges are my bittersweet addiction. Here's yet another...

So here's how it works:
Between January 1 and December 31, 2010, read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with a food in the title: Sugar by Bernice McFadden
  2. A book with a body of water in the title: Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
  3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein
  4. A book with a plant in the title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
  5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Left Bank by Kate Muir
  6. A book with a music term in the title: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This challenge is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and you can sign up for it here.

Books by Theme: Vikings!

Vikings on the shore made out of legos

Eaters of the dead by Michael Crichton book cover
Eaters of the Dead
by Michael Crichton

Ibn Fadlan sets out in A.D. 922 as an ambassador from Baghdad to the King of Saqaliba, but before he arrives, he meets Viking chieftain Buliwyf, and joins him on a mission to Scandinavia where they must battle the monsters threatening the land. Better known as the movie The 13th Warrior.

Whale Road by Robert Low book cover

The Whale Road
by Robert Low

Orm Rurikson is taken from Norway to serve on a Viking raiding ship and must rely on his own creativity and wit to survive as a member of the notorious crew.

The Last Kingdom 
by Bernard Cornwell

Uhtred, the son of an English nobleman, is captured at the age of ten by the Earl Ragnar, a Danish chieftain who raises the boy and trains him in the Viking ways of war, but he finds his loyalties divided when asked to join in raids against the English, and it is not until he marries that he discovers where his true heart lies.

Last Night of the Sun by Guy Gabriel Kay book coverThe Last Night of the Sun
by Guy Gavriel Kay

Driven from his northern home for crimes committed by his father, Bern Thorkellson finds his destiny across the sea, in the lands of the Angles and the Gaels, traditional enemies of his people. Set during the time of the Viking raids, the latest historical fantasy by the author of Tigana and A Song for Arbonne brings depth and texture to the ancient tales of the Norse lands.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Monstrosity Gazette: A weekly smattering of all things literary...

Bookish Quote of the Day:

Oh for a book and a shady nook...

-John Wilson

Today in Literary History....

Edgar Allan Poe photographOn this day in 1811, a notice appeared in the Richmond, Virginia Inquirer asking for donations in aid of Eliza Poe, a young actress now "lingering on the bed of disease and surrounded by her children." Though two-year-old Edgar would be rescued by the Allan family, the life of poverty, abandonment and hand-outs so familiar to his mother would eventually return to stay.

For more literary history, visit Today in Literature.

Literary Pic of the Day:

© 2009 by Gwen Gunter and by Owl Square Press

"Books are the bees which carry the
quickening pollen from one to another mind."
~James Russell Lowell 

New Book on My Radar:

solace of the road by siobhan dowd book cover
Solace of the Road
by Siobhan Dowd
Published Oct. 2009

Summary in a Sentence:
While running away from a London foster home just before her fifteenth birthday, Holly has ample time to consider her years of residential care and her early life with her Irish mother, whom she is now trying to reach.

Read the Reviews:

Melody's Reading Corner and  Crossover

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm unplugged and soon to be full of turkey

Beth Fish Reads and Devourer of Books suggested a most excellent idea. They 'gave' us permission to step away from the computer for a day, a week, whatever. I decided that would be a good idea for Thanksgiving, especially since my dear Mamaw, at whose house I'm staying, doesn't have the internet. Yes, people out there exist without the internet on a daily basis :) SO, I'll be back Saturday.

Happy turkey day, everyone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All Things Kid Lit: Under the Snow

Picture Book Pick of the Week:

Under the Snow
by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Constance R. Bergum

Woodchucks sleep soundly all winter long, while even on the coldest days red-spotted newts “dodge and dart, whiz and whirl” in ponds below the ice.'

From School Library Journal:
Stewart takes readers on an informative journey, describing how snakes, voles, spotted salamanders, carp, beavers, and red-spotted newts, among other animals, "spend their days" during the winter months. Fascinating facts—a wood frog can freeze solid on the forest floor and survive—make the spare text intriguing and fun. Beautiful paintings in muted watercolors convey the creatures in their habitats and the quiet of the season. This pleasing addition is a great read-aloud for units on winter and animal habitats.

You Might Also Like:

Kid Lit Links of Interest:

Los Angeles Times (CA)
November 19, 2009
As part of coverage of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief's odyssey to become a Hollywood venture, Rachel Abramowitz has a report on the similarities between two magical youngsters, one named Percy and the other named Harry.

Tulsa World (OK)
November 23, 2009
Before Thanksgiving gets lost in the crush of Christmas cheer, settle in with new and old children's books about our great American feast, turkeys, Pilgrims, and maize.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Books By Theme: Rock n' Roll Fiction

                                                                    by Streetpreacher83

Reservation Blues
by Sherman Alexie

Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in 1931, and was murdered seven years later. He reappears in 1992 on the Spokane Indian Reservation and meets Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who starts Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic rock-and-roll band.

Anything Goes
by Madison Smartt Bell

Bell follows a Tennessee country/rock cover band as it plays dives up and down the Eastern seaboard. The main character, Jesse, capitalizes on a new lead singer's abilities and the shuffling of band personnel by slipping in his original numbers (and those of the former lead guitarist), much to the crowds' delight.

The Exes 
by Pagan Kennedy

One week after Hank and Lily break up, they form the Exes, a musical group made up of musicians who used to sleep together, but when the group goes on tour, they realize it isn't that easy to separate the past from the future.

High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby

Recently dumped by his wealthy girlfriend, record store owner Rob Fleming finds himself in financial trouble and sets out on a pilgrimage to ask his former girlfriends where their relationships went wrong and to learn where his life went off track.

Born to Rock 
by Gordon Korman

High school senior Leo Caraway, a conservative Republican, learns that his biological father is a punk rock legend.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Monstrosity Gazette: A weekly smattering of all things literary...

Bookish Quote of the Day:

"When a book and a head collide and there is a hollow sound, is that always in the book?"

-Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

MySpace Codes

Today in Literary History...

On this day in 1962 George Bernard Shaw's Androcles and the Lion was published in a new "fonetic alfabet," as commissioned by his will. Those who wished to attempt Shaw's cheaper, more rational system were instructed to "Keep the back of the book pressed against your lips, and advance toward the mirror until you are able to see the individual characters clearly enough to be able to copy them...."

For more literary history, visit Today in Literature.

MySpace Codes
MySpace Codes

New Book On My Radar:

by Scott Westerfeld
Pub: Simon Pulse, 2009
448 pages

Summary in a Sentence:

In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.

Read the Reviews:

Libri Dilectio, The Zen Leaf, and The Infinite Shelf.

MySpace Codes

Interesting Links to Peruse: 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wading Through My Wishlist

 Latest additions to the Great Monstrosity that is my wishlist....

Inspired by A.J. Jacobs's The Year of Living Biblically, evangelical pastor and author Dobson (The Jesus Study Bible) devotes a year to emulating Jesus' life and teaching. His initial commitment to keep kosher, observe Jewish holy days, not shave and read the four gospels weekly expands into an exploration of Judeo-Christian devotional practices. Seeking teachers from several religious traditions, Dobson incorporates Jewish prayers, the Catholic rosary, Orthodox prayer rope and Episcopal prayer beads into his daily devotional life. ~Publisher's Weekly

 It isn't quite love at first sight when Celia, Sally, Bree and April meet as first-year hall mates at Smith College in the late 1990s. Sally, whose mother has just died, is too steeped in grief to think about making new friends, and April's radical politics rub against Celia and Bree's more conventional leanings. But as the girls try out their first days of independence together, the group forms an intense bond that grows stronger throughout their college years and is put to the test after graduation. Even as the young women try to support each other through the trials of their early twenties, various milestones—Sally's engagement, Bree's anomalous girlfriend, April's activist career—only seem to breed disagreement. Things come to a head the night before Sally's wedding, when an argument leaves the friends seething and silent; but before long, the women begin to suspect that life without one another might be harder than they thought. ~ Publisher's Weekly

In the tradition of recent hits like The Bitch in the House and Perfect Madness comes a hilarious and controversial book that every woman will have an opinion about, written by America’s most outrageous writer. Covering topics as diverse as the hysteria of competitive parenting (Whose toddler can recite the planets in order from the sun?), the relentless pursuits of the Bad Mother police, balancing the work-family dynamic, and the bane of every mother’s existence (homework, that is), Bad Mother illuminates the anxieties that riddle motherhood today, while providing women with the encouragement they need to give themselves a break.

What did you add to your ridiculously huge wishlist this week? Read any of these?

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt

Summary in a Sentence (Or Two):

When his daughter, Amy, died suddenly of a heart condition, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife moved in with their son-in-law and their three young grandchildren. His story tells how a family makes the possible out of the impossible.

My thoughts:

I can probably guess what some of you are thinking: Are you kidding me? Not another tragi-memoir. Never fear, fellow readers. Rosenblatt does not stoop to histrionics here. This memoir is wonderful. I am not a fan of overly sentimental writing, especially in the memoir genre which can sometimes be whiny and self-aggrandizing. Making Toast is a refreshing read. Rosenblatt's prose is simple and not affected at all. As a result, the spare writing makes the book all the more stunning.

By the end of this slim narrative I felt as if I had also moved in with Rosenblatt's newly widowed son-in-law, Harris, and their three children- Jessica, Sammy, and James. Rosenblatt is tender in his writing, and although I initially felt his style to be too choppy, I soon fell into the rhythm of his writing and finished the book in one sitting. I was sad when it was over; I wanted to know more about their lives. Highly recommended.

This book counts towards the Random Reading Challenge.

Rating: 5/5

Also Recommended:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Guest Reviewer: Angry Management

Angry Management
by Chris Crutcher
Pub: Greenwillow, 2009
ISBN: 9780060502478
246 pages
Genre: Fiction (Novellas)
Source: Library Copy

Please give my mom Ann, a high school library media specialist, a warm welcome here on A Bookshelf Monstrosity as she reviews Crutcher's new book :)

Summary in a Sentence:

A collection of short stories featuring characters from earlier books by Crutcher such as Sarah Byrnes and Angus Bethune.

Mom's Thoughts:

I just finished reading Angry Management by Chris Crutcher today.  I enjoyed it very much.  It was basically 3 short stories or novellas in one book.  One interesting thing was that Crutcher used characters from some of his previous works--Angus Bethune, Sarah Byrnes, Mr. Simet from Whale Talk, and others.  But you would not have to read any of his previous books to enjoy this book.  Mr. Nak is the leader of the Angry Management group at Global Community Health.  I like the case notes Mr. Nak writes at the beginning of each novella (Nak's Notes).  He describes these as First Impressions.  I liked each story, but my favorite was "Meet Me at the Gates, Marcus James." Recommended for fans of Crutchers'  Deadline and Whale Talk.

Rating: 4/5

You might also like:
Other reviews:


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

"A dazzling, searing, and inventive memoir about becoming a father in the age of terror. In 2007, during the months before Nick Flynn’s daughter’s birth, his growing outrage and obsession with torture, exacerbated by the Abu Ghraib photographs, led him to Istanbul to meet some of the Iraqi men depicted in those photos. Haunted by a history of addiction, a relationship with his unsteady father, and a longing to connect with his mother who committed suicide, Flynn artfully interweaves in this memoir passages from his childhood, his relationships with women, and his growing obsession—a questioning of terror, torture, and the political crimes we can neither see nor understand in post-9/11 American life."
This title will be released on January 18, 2010.

What's your "waiting on" pick this week? Leave your link here!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All Things Kid Lit: The Boy Who Invented TV

Picture Book Pick of the Week:

The Boy Who Invented TV
by Kathleen Krull
Pub: Knopf, 2009
ISBN: 9780375845611
40 pages

Summary in a Sentence:

Presents a picture-book biography of Philo Farnsworth, who created the world's first television image in 1928.

From Booklist:

When Philo Farnsworth was growing up at the turn of the last century, electricity was hard to come by, but he was intrigued by new inventions like the phonograph. By the time he was 11, there were power lines around the family farm. He was particularly intrigued by what was then just a thought: television. At 14, Philo was plowing a field, and the parallel lines sparked an idea about breaking down images into lines of light, capturing them and transmitting them into electrons that would be resassembled into a complete picture. In an attention-holding narrative, Krull explains how Farnsworth held on to his dream to develop television, and in smart, concise fashion ably explains scientific concepts behind it.

You Might Also Like:

MySpace Codes

Kid Lit News:

National Public Radio
November 11, 2009

Sesame Street was always considered an experiment. When the very first episode aired on Nov. 10, 1969, the show seemed to pose one big unanswered question: Could children learn from television? Forty years later, that question has been answered. Millions of kids can thank the program for the 1-2-3s and A-B-Cs, but what have the show's actors and producers learned from their grand experiment? Let's count eight lessons of Sesame Street.

The Seattle Times (WA)
November 16, 2009

Since 1975, author/illustrator Tomie dePaola has been chronicling the life of Strega Nona, the grandmotherly Italian witch/folk healer and her magic pasta pot. Now, Strega Nona is back in her ninth adventure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Books By Theme: Get thee to a nunnery!

Photo credit: estherase

Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the making of America
by John Fialka
Examines the role nuns have played in the building of American society, discussing how they became the nation's first group of independent professional women.

The Scent of God
by Beryl Bissell

In 1957, 18-year-old Bissell entered the monastery of the cloistered order of the Poor Clares in New Jersey. At 33, after falling in love with a priest, she left. The memoir details Bissell's lifelong love affair with God and decade-long love affair with an Italian priest, Vittoria Bosca.

Through the Narrow Gate
by Karen Armstrong

A former nun reveals the intimate details of her life within the enclosed world of an austere religious order.

The Tulip and the Pope: A Nun's Story
by Deborah Larsen

The author recalls her memories of convent life and her desire to give up all worldly thoughts and possessions in order to become a nun in 1960, and describes her decision not to take her final vows in 1965.

Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns
by Cheryl L. Reed

Cheryl Reed recounts the experiences she had while researching the lives of nuns and discusses how her research impacted her own spirituality and beliefs. From the cloister to the convent to the public arena, these women answer a host of intriguing questions about life, love, sex, prayer, faith, and spiritual empowerment.

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