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Semicolon hosts a weekly Saturday Review of Books. Please participate if you've written a review this week, or just get some great ideas for your next read!

by Neil Gaiman

1999, 248 pp.

Rating: 4/5

I was excited to read this after absolutely loving Coraline earlier this year. I also wanted to read it before the movie comes out in August. I did like the book quite a bit, but I didn't love it, and I wanted to love it. I'm not sure what happened--maybe I just expected too much.

Tristan lives in a village where there is a hole in the wall. It's guarded by the villagers because it leads into a fairy land. No one is allowed through. Once every 9 years, however, there is a festival where the fairy people and villagers do mingle.

Tristan is in love with the prettiest girl in the village, and wants to prove his love for her by getting her a star that they both see fall in the night sky. However, it has fallen in fairy land. His adventures in trying to obtain the star are magical, to say the least. We meet some very interesting characters from fairy land as well. Does he get the star and/or the girl? Read the book or see the movie to find out. Caution: Parents should read the book first as it's not for children. I wouldn't recommend it for under 16. These sections were few and far between, though.

Claire Danes plays one of the leads in the movie, and I knew this going into the book. She was TOTALLY right for this part. I could just imagine her saying her lines from the book.

I'll probably see the movie in the first night or two. Can't wait!

COMPLETED--July 18, 2007!!

May 15 through December 31, 2007

This was an easy challenge to join as I love children's literature.

My choices:

1. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (2007)
2. Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (1951)
3. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (1950)
4. The White Stag by Kate Seredy (1938)
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (1963)
6. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1990)

Other Newberys I recommend:
The Giver by Lois Lowry (1994) (A must read!)
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (1987) (My boys loved this, too)
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1981)
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1978) (My boys really liked this one also)
The High King by Lloyd Alexander (1969) (I have not read, but my kids highly recommend)
The Bronze Bow (1962) (All 3 of us loved this one)
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (1961)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George (1959)
...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (1954)
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Gray (I have not read, but my kids enjoyed this)
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (1936)

The Higher Power of Lucky
by Susan Patron

2006, 134 pp.

Newbery Medal

Rating: 4

This book created a little controversy when it won the Newbery Medal because it contains the word 'scrotum' in relation to a snake bite on a dog. I'm almost conservative as they come, and I don't see what the big deal is. I really liked this book and found it to be very charming.

Lucky is a girl whose mother has died and who lives with a Frenchwoman. They live in the desert of California in a very small (population 43) community. Also in her life besides her French guardian Brigitte are Miles, a cute little boy whose favorite book is Are You My Mother?, and Lincoln, a boy her age who is obsessed with knot tying.

These relationships and the longings of this little girl form the heart of the novel. I really cared about these characters and found myself rooting for all of them.

The White Stag
by Kate Seredy

1937, 94 pp.
Newbery Medal

Rating: 4

This Newbery winner tells the legend of how the Huns and Magyars migrated westward into Hungary. Descended from Nimrod (yes, the one from the Bible), Attila and his ancestors follow a white stag that shows them the way. If you like myths and legends as I do, you will appreciate this book.

My only caution is that Christian parents should read this first to see if it appropriate for their family. Although I love folklore, legends, and mythology, I was a little uncomfortable with the setting up of Nimrod as a hero. Usually I treat mythology solely as fiction with entertainment value. In this case, however, because this book does use passages and references in the Bible, I am a little more cautious.

47. The Sea** by John Banville (2005,195 pp, Booker)
48. The Door in the Wall **** by Marguerite de Angeli (1949, 121 pp, Newbery)
49. Gathering Blue ****1/2 by Lois Lowry (2000, 215 pp.)
50. Messenger **** by Lois Lowry (2000, 169 pp.)
51. The White Stag **** by Kate Seredy (1937, 94 pp.)
52. Stardust **** by Neil Gaiman (1999, 248 pp.)
53. The Higher Power of Lucky **** by Susan Patron (2006, 134 pp, Newbery)
54. The Blind Assassin ***1/2 by Margaret Atwood (2000, 521 pp, Booker)

Hosted by Pour of Tor at Sycorax Pine

Read at least 6 unread authors.
September 2007 through February 2008

1. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
2. Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather by Gao Xingjian
3. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. History of Love by Nicole Krauss
5. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
6. Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos


Blue Like Jazz--Miller
Bookseller of Kabul--Seierstad
The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books--Zane
Half of a Yellow Sun--Adichie
Never Let Me Go--Ishiguro
A Scanner Darkly--Dick
The Yearling--Rawlings
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
Zorro by Isabel Allende
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Winter Wheat--Walker
Interpreter of Maladies--Lahiri

Read at least 3 books that have been made into movies.
September 1 through December 1, 2007

Three of the following:

1. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
2. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

4. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

I may add extras/alternates later.

Read 3-5 books from July 1 through November 30, 2007

1. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
2. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
3. The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens


Click on the colors to see what they indicate.

Which Author's Fiction are You?

Jane Austen wrote you. You are extremely aware of the power of a single word.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

  1. Okay, love him or loathe him, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on Saturday… Are you going to read it?

  2. If so, right away? Or just, you know, eventually, when you get around to it? Are you attending any of the midnight parties?

  3. If you’re not going to read it, why not?

  4. And, for the record… what do you think? Will Harry survive the series? What are you most looking forward to?
Answers: Believe it or not, I haven't read ANY Harry Potter books, nor seen the movies. I do plan to someday; I just don't know when.

For the record, I tend to think that Harry WILL die.

This is just to keep me on track with my challenges.

By July 31
God of Small Things (SRC, BAC)
Blind Assassin (SRC, BAC)
Stardust (SRB)
The Higher Power of Lucky (Newbery, BAC)
The White Stag (Newbery, BAC)
1 title from lists below

By August 31
The Known World (SoRC, Pulitzer, BAC)
A Death in the Family (SoRC, Pulitzer, BAC)
The Secret Life of Bees (SoRC, SAM)
Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons (SAM)
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (DC, RAB)
3 titles from lists below

By September 30
Middlesex (Pulitzer, BAC)
Blue Like Jazz (NF5)
The Travels of Marco Polo (NF5)
Bookseller of Kabul (NF5, RAB)
The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books (NF5)
Half of a Yellow Sun (NYT, BookAwards)
2 titles from lists below

By October 31
Lisey's Story (NYT, BAC)
Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho (RAB)
Never Let Me Go (DC)
A Scanner Darkly (DC)
4 titles from list below

By November 30
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (FC, SRB)
O Pioneers! (FC, Pulitzer, Decades)
The Yearling (FC, Pulitzer)
The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Pulitzer, BtM)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (2nds, BtM)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (RAB, BtM)
2 titles from list below

By December 31
Arthur and George by Julian Barnes (NYT)
Zorro by Isabel Allende (RAB)
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (NYT, RAB)
Kristin Lavransdatter by Ingrid Undset (RAB, BAC)
Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather by Gao Xingjian (RAB)
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (SRB)
History of Love by Nicole Krauss (SRB)
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (SRB
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (SRB)
Tears of the Giraffe (2nds)
Lost in a Good Book (2nds)
Winter Wheat (SAM)
The Amateur Marriage (SAM)
Stargirl (SAM)
The Little Prince (SAM)
Interpreter of Maladies (Pulitzer, BAC)
X Stands for Unknown (A-Z)
Queen of the Tambourine (A-Z)
Ishmael (A-Z)
Psalms & Proverbs
Mr. Ives' Christmas

You Are: 0% Dog, 100% Cat

You are are almost exactly like a cat.

You're intelligent, independent, and set on getting your way.

And there's no way you're going to fetch a paper for anyone!

Click on the photo for more information.

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)

And, by all means, expand this to as long a list as you like. I’m notoriously awful myself at narrowing down to one favorite ANYTHING. So, feel free to list as many “good” or “bad” movie-from-books as you like. (Heaven knows that’s what I’ll be doing….)

1. I LOVE the "Colin Firth" Pride & Prejudice. Is there anyone who doesn't? Even Mr. 3M enjoyed it! Though I enjoyed the 2006 version of Jane Eyre, my favorite is the one with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. I also really liked Wuthering Heights with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, although it was very depressing.

Some people will absolutely shoot me for this, but I LOVED the DiCaprio/Danes Romeo & Juliet as well as Ethan Hawke's Hamlet. I loved the modern setting while keeping (most of) the original wording. I've probably seen them at least 10 times each.

Of course, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was absolutely brilliant. There was only one thing I didn't like at all in that movie: the change in Faramir's character.

2. I haven't seen it, but my kids didn't like the film adaptation of Eragon at all. That's too bad, because the cast looked so great! I don't know if this is a "worst" but thought it worth mentioning.

3. I rarely read the book after I see a movie, but I did read Wuthering Heights after seeing the film. I tend not to read the book if I liked the movie, though. Like most people, I usually prefer the book to the movie.

This was a great question this week!

Book Quiz

You're To Kill a Mockingbird!

by Harper Lee

Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have
changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you've also taken a significant amount of flack. But you've had the admirable guts to persevere. There's a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you, but you're pretty sure it's worth it in the end. In the end, it remains unclear to you whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

by Lois Lowry

2004, 167 pp.

Rating: 4

It's very hard to describe Messenger without giving away parts of The Giver and Gathering Blue. This is the third book in that trilogy. So I'm not going to say anything about the book, other than I enjoyed it very much but consider it to be the weakest of the three. It was nice to have a sequel that wrapped up (somewhat) the other two titles.

Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry

2000, 215 pp.

Rating: 4.5

This book is the second in the trilogy which also includes The Giver and Messenger. I read The Giver, a Newbery book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. This book doesn't really continue where The Giver left off, but Messenger takes place after both stories and with characters from each.

Kira is a girl who has just lost her mother to sickness. She is very distraught as it has been her mother who has protected her from the community. Kira has a bad leg, and everyone in the village with any kind of defect or deformity must leave the protected area and contend with "the beasts" outside of it.

As she goes back to her small house, the women around her make it known that they want her property as a place for their own children and animals. A legal proceeding takes place which decides the matter. Will she have to leave the community and contend with "the beasts", or will an exception be made?

Recommended highly, but make sure you read The Giver before you read Messenger.

I've started a new Yahoo reading group that will be reading literature in translation. Anyone interested in joining me? It's only 5 books a year!

The first three books are:

September 1: We by Yvgeny Zamyatin (Russian, 232 pp.)
November 1: Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelo (Portuguese, 240 pp.)
February 1: Independent People by Halldor Laxness (Icelandic, 512 pp.)

We by Yvgeny Zamyatin
In the One State of the great Benefactor, there are no individuals, only numbers. Life is an ongoing process of mathematical precision, a perfectly balanced equation. Primitive passions and instincts have been subdued. Even nature has been defeated, banished behind the Green Wall. But one frontier remains: outer space. Now, with the creation of the spaceship Integral, that frontier -- and whatever alien species are to be found there -- will be subjugated to the beneficent yoke of reason.

One number, D-503, chief architect of the Integral, decides to record his thoughts in the final days before the launch for the benefit of less advanced societies. But a chance meeting with the beautiful 1-330 results in an unexpected discovery that threatens everything D-503 believes about himself and the One State. The discovery -- or rediscovery -- of inner space...and that disease the ancients called the soul.

A page-turning SF adventure, a masterpiece of wit and black humor that accurately predicted the horrors of Stalinism, We is the classic dystopian novel. Its message of hope and warning is as timely at the end of the twentieth century as it was at the beginning.

Veronika Decides to Die
Twenty-three-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for. She goes to popular night spots, dates attractive men, and has a caring family. Yet something is lacking in her life. So on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die.

After she awakens from an overdose, Veronika finds she has only days to live. The story follows Veronika through those intense days as, to her own surprise, she finds herself drawn into the enclosed world of the local hospital she is staying in. In this heightened state she experiences things she has never allowed herself to feel: hatred, fear, curiosity, love, and sexual awakening. Gradually she discovers that every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying. Paulo Coelho's Veronika Decides to Die, based on his own moving personal experience, is about people who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. It is about madness and the need to find an alternative way of living for people who face prejudices because they think in a different way. In Veronika Decides to Die, Paulo Coelho invites the reader to discover the world that lies outside the routine and addresses the fundamental question asked by millions: what am I doing here today?" and "why do I go on living?"

Independent People by Halldor Laxness
From Publishers Weekly
Originally published in 1946 and out of print for decades, this book by the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author is a huge, skaldic treat filled with satire, humor, pathos, cold weather and sheep. Gudbjartur Jonsson becomes Bjartur of Summerhouses when, after 18 years of service to the Bailiff of Myri, he is able to buy his own croft. Summerhouses is probably haunted and is certainly unprepossessing, but Bjartur is a stubborn, leathery old (whatever his age) coot, and he soon has his new bride and few head of sheep installed in a sod house. When his wife dies cold and alone giving birth to the daughter of the Bailiff's son, Bjartur takes the child on almost as another test of his independence. Bjartur survives another wife, three sons that lived and several dead ones, all with his "armour of scepticism," which "endowed him with greater moral fortitude than that possessed by the other men." Through hard times (in the guises of worms and a cow that threaten his precious sheep), Bjartur maintains his ferocious and self-destructive independence, one aimed not so much at bettering his condition as being able to tell his former employer where to get off. Laxness is merciless with the hypocrisy of the upper classes, as exemplified by the Bailiff's poetess wife, who applauds the simple life of poor country people, or the Bailiff's son, whose social-welfare schemes help him but undermine the crofters. Laxness is not easy on Bjartur, who is bloody-minded in the extreme, but he is tender enough to compose a poem to his exiled adoptive daughter, and bold enough to engrave a simple marker in honor of the misunderstood ghoul who has haunted his farm and family. He's a figure that Snorri Sturluson would have recognized.

July 1 through December 31, 2007
6 books where location is integral to the story.
Click on the icon for more info and to sign up.

What? Another challenge you say? I was going to read these anyway! Truly, I was!

My choices:

1. The Sea by John Banville (Ireland)
2. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan)
3. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Norway)
4. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (France)
5. Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho (Slovenia)
6. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (Botswana)
7. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (Czechoslovakia)

The Bookseller of Kabul (Afghanistan)
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (Nebraska)
A Girl Named Zippy (Indiana)
Anne of Green Gables (PEI)

Sign up for a book exchange! Click on the picture for more details.

Lucky, by Alice Sebold is the book title this week.

Click on the photo for more information.

Update: And the winner is. . . . . Amanda! Congrats!

I have an extra copy of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant to give away. If you HAVEN'T READ this title and would like to be in the running for it, comment on this post. I'll draw a name on Sunday.

The New 7 Wonders

and the still remaining ancient one. . .

The Door in the Wall
by Marguerite de Angeli

(1949, 121 pp.)

Newbery Medal

Rating: 4

My favorite passage sums up this book nicely:

"Fret not, my son. None of us is perfect. It is better to have crooked legs than a crooked spirit. We can only do the best we can with what we have. That, after all, is the measure of success: what we do with what we have."

Robin is a boy whose father expects him to be a knight. When his father goes off to war, Robin is left alone and falls ill. His legs are slightly crippled afterward. Some monks come to his aid and he learns to "do the best with what he has." Recommended.