Thursday, January 31, 2008

My January Purchases

Bbbrrrrrrr! I felt very cold in January, so I didn't get out to do as much book buying as usual. ;^) But, here is what I can recall purchasing:

Lord Foul's Bane: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (Book One) by Stephen R. Donaldson (
I bought this book because it is part of a series. I came across this author in my most recent Bookmarks Magazine (I think) that mentioned the second book in The Last Chronicles. So, of course, I had to go back to the beginning.

This is what Wikipedia has to say:

Donaldson's most celebrated series is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, which centers on a cynical leper, shunned by society, who is destined to become the heroic savior of an alternate Earth. Covenant struggles against the tyrannical Lord Foul, who intends to break the physical universe in order to escape his bondage and wreak revenge upon his arch-enemy, "The Creator".
The Chronicles were originally published as two trilogies of novels between 1977 and 1983. According to his current publisher, Putnams, those two series sold more than 10 million copies. A third series, "The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" began publication in 2004 with the novel "The Runes of The Earth." With the second book of that series, "Fatal Revenant," Donaldson again attained bestseller status when the book reached number 12 on the New York Times Bestseller List in October of 2007.

I have no idea if I will actually enjoy this book, but I just love trying new reads.

And then what better to balance Lord Foul's Bane than:

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis (Borders 1/2 price table)
From the back cover: "An unfailingly honest and acutely perceptive observer of humanity, C.S. Lewis recounts his search for joy, a spiritual journey that led him from a traditional Christian childhood in Belfast to a youthful atheism and, finally, back to a confident Christianity."

I've been quite surprised to find all of this religious writing by Lewis. I've always thought of him exclusively as Chronicles of Narnia, which I read as a child, completely missing any religious symbolism I am sure, and which I plan to re-read this year.

World of Boo by Duane K. Maddy (

This book is so odd - in a good way. It will take less than 30 minutes to read. The back cover says - "Discover The World of Boo. A fictional organization created by one man combining a childhood collection of stuffed animals with personalities he has encountered through a lifetime of triumphs and tribulations." I was drawn to it because it is also kind of a series, and we call Naomi - "The Boo" :^D

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (B&N)

Queen Elizabeth starts to borrow boks from a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace. Helen Fielding is quoted on the back cover as saying - "Alan Bennett is one of the greatest comic writers alive, and The Uncommon Reader is Bennett at his best - touching, thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisite in its observations."

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (Borders 1/2 price table)

I've read several of her other books, so I'm surprised I haven't read this yet - or didn't read it first since I usually enjoy reading chronologically.

The Daily Show and Philosophy edited by Jason Holt (Borders 1/2 price table)

"This book brings together nineteen essays on the many moments of Zen to be found in the artful humor of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report."

Hmmm . . . we'll see.

Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile (Borders 1/2 price table)

Jonathan and I saw the movie over Christmas andI found the story line interesting enough that I want to go back and read the book. I could do without Hanks, Hoffman, and Roberts on the cover, but it was on the buy 1, get 1 half price table.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting Started

I look forward to meeting each of you and participating in the group. To give you some insight on my reading preferences, here are the books I’m reading in January and February:

Literary Mystery
The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Crime (Texas and Mexico)
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Crime (Tornados, Oklahoma)
The Breathtaker by Alice Blanchard

Historical (post Civil War and the West)
Redemption Falls by Joseph O’Connor

Historical (Alaskan gold strike)
The Fugitive Wife by Peter C. Brown

Historical (Boudica, Celtic)
Warrior Queen by Alan Gold

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

With Still Small Voices They Speak by Ann Foskey, photography by Marc Del Santro

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What to read in 2008?

A new year on the calendar, a new year for reading. :^) I'm really looking forward to 2008. I am not pregnant. I am not giving birth. And I am not in those early infant months when readings seems impossible (Sorry Jen!). So, I am fully prepared for my challenge to read 100 books this year. A goal I set for myself annually. Last year, I read around 65 books I think.

What to read? I've decided I have to read all of the books that were given to me for Christmas. And I've already read several of them. But when I'm out with that buying urge - what should I spend my money on?

I subscribe to Bookbrowse, so I thought I would check there. Here are some recent (last year or two) releases that the critics are giving two thumbs up that I thought looked interesting:

Fiction/South America & The Caribbean

The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
"Inspired by a few facts from Errol Flynn's life, and rooting her story firmly in Jamaican history, Cezair-Thompson vividly imagines the life of Ida, who is little more than a child herself when she gives birth to her daughter May, the illegitimate child of 1930/40s movie star Errol Flynn - known as a swashbuckling adventurer on screen, and for his glittering parties and affairs off screen. " from

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
"From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina’s Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won’t accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence--and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear. When the nightmare of the disappeared children brings the Poznan family to its knees, they are thrust into the unyielding corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases, the refuge of last resort." - from the jacket

Fiction/Strong Female Leads

Away by Amy Bloom
Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The author of the Tony Award winner The History Boys, Alan Bennett is one of Britain’s best-loved literary voices. With The Uncommon Reader, he brings us a playful homage to the written word, imagining a world in which literature becomes a subversive bridge between powerbrokers and commoners. By turns cheeky and charming, the novella features the Queen herself as its protagonist. When her yapping corgis lead her to a mobile library, Her Majesty develops a new obsession with reading. She finds herself devouring works by a tantalizing range of authors, from the Brontë sisters to Jean Genet. With a young member of the palace kitchen staff guiding her choices, it’s not long before the Queen begins to develop a new perspective on the world - one that alarms her closest advisers and tempts her to make bold new decisions.


Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
Hugely charismatic, humble, and possessed of preternatural luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and a single mother of three, recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya.

Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir by Carolyn Jourdan
Carolyn Jourdan had it all: the Mercedes Benz, the fancy soirees, the best clothes. She moved in the most exclusive circles in Washington, D.C., rubbed elbows with big politicians, and worked on Capitol Hill. As far as she was concerned, she was changing the world. And then her mother had a heart attack. Carolyn came home to help her father with his rural medical practice in the Tennessee mountains. She'd fill in for a few days as the receptionist until her mother could return to work. Or so she thought. But days turned into weeks.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.