23. Grendel by John Gardner **
24. March by Geraldine Brooks ***1/2
25. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald ****1/2
26. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai ***1/2
27. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards ****1/2
28. The Translator by Leila Aboulela ****

Pages read in April: 1610
Pages read in 2007: 7643

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Kim Edwards

2005, 401 pp.

Rating: 4.5

I was impressed by this book, and especially so as it was the author's debut.

The following paragraph isn't really a "spoiler" as it happens in the first few pages of the book.

Dr. David Henry and his wife Norah can't get to the hospital in time to have their baby, so they go to his own doctor's office. The birth goes fine and a healthy baby boy named Paul is born. However, they unexpectedly have twins (it's 1964), and there is a "problem" with their daughter--she has Down's Syndrome. Due to his own family background of having a chronically ill sister, David tells the nurse Caroline to take it to a "home". Meanwhile, he tells his wife that their daughter Pheobe has died. The rest of the book goes into their marriage and family relationships in the aftermath of this "secret".

I loved the story for several reasons. First, it was very well written and was a very easy read. I read the book in a 24 hour period. Also, it is mostly set in Lexington, Ky, and I live only an hour from there. Many of the descriptions of the bluegrass area were things I recognized and appreciated. I related to almost all the main characters for personal reasons. In fact, this book was one I chose to offer about myself for the Something About Me Challenge. David feels like an "imposter" in his professional life, Norah has postpartem depression, and Paul is kept from the knowledge that his sister is alive. These were all issues that I have experienced as well.

The book is a little sad and explores the consequences of family secrets, but it is also hopeful. I look forward to Kim Edwards' next novel.

The Inheritance of Loss
Kiran Desai

2005, 318 pp.

Winner: Booker Prize, NBCC

Rating: 3.5

While this book has garnered much critical acclaim, I found it very difficult to complete. It took me over two months to get through it. Once I put it down, I just wasn't compelled to pick it up again. It sort of felt like a school assignment. Luckily, the last 1/3 of the book went by much faster than the first 2/3. Before reading, I would highly recommend doing a little research if you are ignorant (like I was) of Indian culture or history. One link that shed a little light on the subject for me was here.

There are two settings for the book--America and Kalimpong. Sai lives with her grandfather, a former judge, at the foothills of the Himalayas. She falls in love with Gyan, her tutor, who is sympathetic to the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF). The clash of ideals between the Indians who want change and those who wish to retain aspects of British colonialism is one of the two main conflicts in the novel.

The other conflict is that of the Indians who emigrate to the United States and the conditions of their lives once they live there. Biju, who is the son of the Judge's cook, is one of the lucky few who get a visa to go to America. But once he is there, is he really better off? The novel asks the question -- how much does each person care about their individual culture, nationality, and family. What does our "inheritance" mean to us?

While I appreciate these themes and do think the writing was brilliant at times, I wouldn't recommend this book for most readers.

Seasonal reading

Does what you read vary by the season? For instance, Do you read different kinds of books in the summer than the winter?
If so, do you break it down by genre, length of book, holiday, or...?


The only seasonal reading I do is at Christmas. In November, I try to read a Christmas-related book. Last year I read A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg and enjoyed it very much. This year I hope to read Mr. Ives' Christmas (Hijuelos).

If Carl does a RIP Challenge, I may participate in that. I wasn't blogging last year, but it looked like fun.

13 Newberys on my TBR List

The top six I will definitely be reading for the Newbery Challenge .

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. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (1966)
5. Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (1965)
6. The White Stag by Kate Seredy (1938)


7. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (2002)
8. Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (1928)
9. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (1984)
10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (1963)
11. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (1946)
12. Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (1943)
13. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1990)

I have updated the challenge site a bit. I have listed the participants' books here, and I've listed books by decade here. Check out what everyone else is reading for the challenge!

Thanks again for participating!

April 6th through November 6th

If you can call this a "genre", it is one of my favorites. I've hesitated in joining the challenge, though, because this year I've already read:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

and in the past I've read 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell.

However, I did have two or three potential titles that were on my TBR list for this year: Never Let Me Go and The Handmaid's Tale; and Oryx and Crake had been on my list, but I moved it to 2008. As I was looking at some of the possible titles at Wikipedia, I found A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. I've been meaning to watch the movie, so this is the perfect opportunity to read the book first. I also found The Messenger and Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, which are seqels to The Giver. So my choices became a little clearer.

I have chosen:

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
The Messenger by Lois Lowry
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Never Let Me Go by K. Ishiguro

Bonus/Alternates that I probably won't find time for but would like to read are:

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Children of Men by P.D. James
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I've been fairly successful with paperbackswap lately. I now have 50+ credits to use after I move! I just started my inventory on bookmooch, but that looks like a nice site as well.

I have quite a few children's books listed if anyone's interested.

My bookmooch inventory is here.
My paperbackswap inventory is here.

This week is National Library Week.

I celebrated by giving 64 books to my small local library that they didn't have in their system. I'll probably give at least 100 more to the bigger library that I frequent for their library sale. I'll also probably give over 100 to my homeschool co-op group.

Why? So I don't break the movers' backs when we move. Don't worry--I have thousands left for my new home!

Thirteen TV shows that I watch. Thankfully I have TiVo.

1. Battlestar Galactica
(No new shows til January 2008--I can't wait that long!)
2. Stargate Atlantis
3. Stargate SG-1
4. Doctor Who
5. Survivor
6. American Idol
7. Gilmore Girls
8. Masterpiece Theatre
10. Dancing with the Stars (this season only--see post below!)
11. Ebert & Roeper
12. Passport to Europe (when there's a new episode)
13. Mystery!

Okay, for the past 2-3 weeks I have been watching Dancing with the Stars. Why? I have never watched it before this season. I have always loved dancing, but the real reason is because someone in my household actually went to high school with (and knew fairly well) one of the contestants. Strange, but true. The first time this famous person was seen on TV by said member of this household, was a lay down on the floor, gut busting laugh at the familiar. Anyone want to guess? Not sure I'd even tell you if did guess, but it's fun messing with people!

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
The Observations by Jane Harris
Digging to America by Anne Tyler

The official announcement is here.

Maggie at Maggie Reads has proposed a 3 month Southern Reading Challenge. The challenge runs June 1st through August 31st.

I really was going to resist this challenge, but I realized (once again) that I had books already on my TBR list that would very nicely fit.

5/20/07 Update: I read The Color Purple in May, so I am changing my list.

My 3 choices are (I may add alternates later):

1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
2. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
3. A Death in the Family by James Agee

Original List:
1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
3. A Death in the Family by James Agee
3. The Known World by Edward P. Jones

4. A Death in the Family by James Agee

Winner: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Shortlisted were Alice McDermott's After This and Richard Powers' The Echo Maker.

Details here.

This is the book I was rooting for to win the Pulitzer. I'm excited that 1) I loved this book and 2) I completed it before it was announced the winner (and before Oprah)! I don't have an "official" review of it yet because I listened to it on audio and wanted to re-read the print version. The only reason I rated it a 4.5 instead of a 5 is because I can't stand the lack of punctuation (one of the reasons I listened to the audiobook).

The Road is a very deserving winner!

The Princess and the Goblin
by George MacDonald

1872, 241 pp.

Rating: 4.5

This is a delightful story about eight year old Princess Irene, her great-great-great-great grandmother, and a miner boy named Curdie. Together they fight to foil the goblins' sinister schemes. Little Irene is a true princess and acts like a little lady, while Curdy is a very brave and heroic boy.

Highly recommended for all ages. I will try to read the sequel, The Princess and Curdie, sometime this year as well. I am also set to read Phantastes by MacDonald for the Fantasy Challenge. I can't wait to get to this more "adult" fantasy tale. I really enjoyed MacDonald's writing, and I am not at all surprised that he was an inspiration to both Lewis and Tolkien.

by Geraldine Brooks

2005, 273 pp.

2006 Pulitzer Prize

Rating: 3.5

I really wanted to love this book, but I ended up only liking most of it and despising parts of it.

March tells the story of Mr. March. You know, the father in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. We didn't know much about him from Little Women, and really, maybe we were better off that way than reading Brooks' reimagined version. I did not like her "version" of Marmee, either.

Some of this book is extremely well done. The civil war scenes and the descriptions of the plight of the slaves were excellent. The characters of Mr. and Mrs. March were not. Although they both do have their admirable moments, their "reputation" is severely tarnished in this book and neither is very likable at all. Their "conflicts" felt like they were from a soap opera. I am not one who cares for soap operas and certainly do not wish to feel like I'm "reading" one in a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

I recommend it solely to those who like to read "prize winners" or to those who are Little Women enthusiasts. But be warned: you may wish you did not have these new visions of the Marches competing with the original.

by John Gardner
174 pp.
Rating: 2

I didn't like this book. AT ALL. I absolutely love Beowulf, and I highly recommend reading or listening to Seamus Heaney's version. Whereas Beowulf could almost be considered a Christian work, Grendel is nihilistic. Enough said.

Thirteen reasons it took me 12 days to finish my first book for April.

1. I'm stressed. We're 95% sure we're moving because of a job change.

2. I'm tired. When I'm stressed, I can't sleep.

3. I can't read when I'm stressed and tired. My concentration powers have been deactivated.

4. We had company and had a lot of fun, but it is hard to read when playing hostess.

5. I don't like the books I'm reading, but I am one who finishes them anyway. It just might take longer.

6. We've been out to Omaha twice in the last month for a job opportunity. This is the one we'll probably take.

7. My husband has been home all the time trying to put me to work!

8. I have a million things to do because we're moving. Some of which are listed below.

9. I have to go through my thousands and thousands (I'm not kidding!) of books and "weed" the ones I'm taking from the ones I'll give away.

10. Ditto my closets.

11. Ditto my paperwork (yuck!)

12. I still have other local commitments that I must tend to for at least 3 more weeks.

13. I'm a person who does not like change, and everything around me is doing just that!

I know everything will turn out okay--I'm confident of that. It's just stressful along the way!

We're over 1/3 of the way through April, and I have no books I've completed yet! Life has gotten in the way of my reading. I do have 4 books that I'm 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through, so hopefully, I'll have some progress to report soon.


Last week was Buy a Friend a Book Week, and I decided that I would just use the names from the By the Decade Reading Challenge and randomly choose the winner. All participant names were placed into a hat, and Joy of "Thoughts of Joy" was the winner. The book she chose was Watership Down by Richard Adams. This is her 1970s book for the challenge.

Congratulations, Joy. I really hope you like the book!

Good Friday

Thank you, Kristin, from This is the Life for nominating me for The Thinking Blogger Award. I really appreciate it!

My five nominations are here.

Booking Through Thursday

  1. Just out of curiosity, as we enter into Passover and Easter season... have you ever read the Bible? Just the odd chapter or Psalm? The whole thing? (Or, almost the whole thing? It's some heavy reading, of course, and those "begats" get kind of tedious.) Answer: I have read the New Testament numerous times and all but parts of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

  2. If so, was it from religious motivation or from a literary perspective? Stuck with nothing else to read in a hotel room the Gideon's have visited? Any combination? Answer: I read the Bible for personal inspiration and to hear from God.

  3. If not, why not? Against your religious principles? Too boring? Just not interested? Something you're planning on taking care of when you get marooned on a desert island? N/A

  4. And while we're on the subject... what about the other great religious works out there? Are they more to your liking? Answer: I do plan on reading the Koran someday.

I am 90% sure I will be moving from my Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati home. My husband has a job offer that will be hard to pass up. I'm not overly sad or crushed, though. I think moving to a new area might actually be a fun adventure in our lives.

13 things I will miss about this area (in no particular order except for #1 and #2):

1. My brother and his family. They just moved here last November from Colorado, and now I might have to move. My kids were loving having their cousins here after living so far apart for so long. :-(

2. My husband's family. My husband's parents and his sister's family all live right in our neighborhood. My boys can ride their bikes over there in less than 5 minutes. They'll really miss their cousins on their dad's side of the family, too.

3. My German class at the Tri-State German American School. I had a great teacher, and the students were fun, too.

4. My f2f bookclub. I just "found" them last fall, and I was so relieved to find other readers in my county. I'll miss them!

5. Our in-ground pool. We just put it in last summer! We'll probably get to use it this summer, but still. We put it in a nice "courtyard" area with the pool as the centerpiece. My boys are really going to miss it.

6. All our friends here!

7. UK Basketball (This would be #1 or #2 on my husband's list!)

8. The Cincinnati Reds

9. The Bengals (Can you tell I'm a sports nut?) Although the Denver Broncos are still my #1 football team, I'll miss the Bengals hype.

10. All the library sales around here!

11. Our church and the homeschool co-op. We just started going to the co-op last fall and were enjoying it very much. There were over 150 kids from our church in the co-op, and that's not even all the homeschooled kids in our church. The boys will really miss their friends there.

12. The Cincinnati Zoo, the Louisville Zoo, the Newport Aquarium, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and all the other fun homeschool field trip places we visit frequently.

13. Leaving a piece of our family's "history" behind. We built this house and have lived in it for 8 1/2 years. That's the longest we've lived anywhere since we've been married.

On to a new adventure!