Monday, 30 November 2009

Musing Mondays: Holiday Slump?


Musing Mondays (BIG)_thumb[1]  Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS  post is about reading/blogging during the holidays…

How does your reading (or your blogging) fare in the holiday months? Do you read more or less? Do you have to actively make time to read?

Well from now until round about December 20th my reading for fun usually goes down. Mainly because most teachers want essays in before the holidays so that they can be marked before the end of term in January, so I am busy with essay writing. I do try to cram in as much reading for fun as I can mainly to keep myself sane and this year I hope to be able to do so as well. I’ve lined up some fairly easy (I hope) reads for the next month so that I can at least feel like I have accomplished something with reading even when I am stressed with gradschool.

Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge: Introductory Post


I went through a period in high school when I read nothing but Terry Pratchett (and assigned reading). I loved the books. My friends and I loved to quote the books (especially Death). For some reason I stopped reading them a few years ago and reading Reaper Man earlier this year I realised how much I had missed them, so I was really excited seeing this challenge hosted by Marg. The Challenge rules are very simple:

The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books - Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books - Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books - Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books - Member of Granny Weatherwax's Coven
10-12 books - Death's Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! As long as everyone has fun I will be happy! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.

For a full list of the Discworld books in publication order, check out this page on the author's website for his page at Fantastic Fiction. The number of books either written by Terry Pratchett or about his work is a bit mind boggling really.


I’m aiming for the Cashier level although I might upgrade as the year goes on, they are the type of books that are hard to put down. My tentative list is

Hogfather. The commentary on our holiday traditions in this one are hilarious! This is also a cross challenge with The 2009 Holiday Challenge. I might also watch the excellent miniseries.

Unseen Academicals. This is Pratchett’s latest book and as a life long fan of football* I really want to read this!

*That would be soccer to those of you on the other side of the pond

The Last Hero. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous. I’ve had it for ages but for some reason never read it. Now it is taunting me. So it will be read.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Sunday Salon: Are E-Readers Environmentally Friendly?

The Sunday
What Caught My Fancy This Week

Kindle KTH (a Swedish University) has, according to this article (in Swedish sorry), worked out that for an e-reader to be be more environmentally friendly you have to read 33 books on it. According to the article above this means that it would take you a year and a half to “earn” the environmentally friendly aspect of the e-reader. This statement made the following questions pop into my head:

1) I’ve read way over 33 books so far this year (I would have earned my e-readers environmentally neutral status in maybe June).

2) Have they calculated to environmental impact of those of us who can’t just pop into the bookstore/library on a whim? The library is a 15 minute car journey and the books store a 60 minute car journey away. I suppose for the library I could take the bus (and often do when I have other errands). But for the bookstore it is a car journey.

3) Most of the books I read are in English. My library has one (very small) shelf of English books, i.e. library not really where I get most of my books. Most of my books whether bought in a bricks and mortar store or over the internet has at some point been on a plane (environmental impact of plane=BIG). 

4) How sad is it that they either a) assume or b) have statistics that show that most people do not read more than two books a month?

5) Have they also taken into consideration other content that can be read on the e-readers? I am thinking of newspapers and magazines specifically. If these can be transferred to e-readers exclusively what would be the savings for the environment?

Although the study is undoubtedly interesting I think that the lack of good e-readers (the Kindle has just become available here and as far as I know the nook is not available at all) and a certain lack of understanding of how some people read and use their readers has sent the scientists down a faulty path. Add to that the fact that I am always sceptical of anything coming out of Stockholm, as they seem to not understand how dependent people outside of the cities are on their cars, I would like to see their figures before I consider the e-readers a bad environmental investment.


How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. I’ve been sick all week (no bacon fever but one hell of a cold) and so the concentration required for this books, well, it just hasn’t been there.

 The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer.  Two chapters read this week. This isn’t a part of history I am very familiar with and all the complicated names make it slow going. But it is fun!

The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. Started this book yesterday and am half way through already. Loving it!! It is funny and thought provoking at the same time.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (review). I have very mixed feelings about this book.

A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell (review). I read this book in an evening for the Childhood favourites challenge.

As I have been sick I have also been listening to some old favourites on audio book. Primarily the The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. I haven’t reviewed these books because I have been dozing in and out while listening.


I’m working on my lists for next years challenges. Reading other peoples lists have given me some really interesting ideas for books to read. I hope to start posting my challenge posts over the next week.

I did read one book for the Childhood Favourite Challenge: A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell (review above).

And I am currently reading the last of my books for the Fall Into Reading Challenge: The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs.

Fun Stuff

There is a great giveaway right now over at Bibliofreak. Click to Join the Great Kindle II GiveAway! and I get another entry (have I mentioned how much I really really want a Kindle?)

Another fantastic giveaway comes from Out of the Blue. She is giving away a book of their choice, for a value of up to €12 at BookDepository. It is great giveaway because it is open to the whole world (or at least to any part of the world where BookDepository ships to). Ends 6th of December.

I’m a good elf. Are you?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Book Review: A Horse Called Wonder

A horse called wonder A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell

Category: Young Adult/Children

Synopsis: From the back of the book: Ashleigh Griffen swore she’d never give her heart to another horse—not after a terrible disease wiped out her family’s breeding farm along with Ashleigh’s favourite mare, Stardust. Now the Griffens are starting over as breeding managers at Townsend Acres, and Ashleigh’s sure she is going to hate living there. Then a small, sickly foal is born—a beautiful copper filly that looks like Stardust. No one thinks the foal will liver or that it’s worth trying to save. No one but Ashleigh. Can one girl’s love alone work miracles.

My Thoughts: I read this book for the Childhood Favourites Challenge. At the start of the book Ashleigh is in 6th grade. I was probably in 7th when I read the book. Over the next two or three years I read most of the books in the series, several times. I wanted to move to Kentucky and be a jockey. Then we got horses of our own and I realised just how much work they were :D.

This book was just as comfortable a read now as it was back then. And I could read it just as belie fast. Although I knew what happened in it I still felt a pang when the foal (named Wonder) becomes sick. I find Ashleigh’s reaction to be very believable. Twelve year old me would also have stayed in the stables with a sick horse (I would have done it now too).

I loved the books message about hard work paying off but also the message that we can’t always do it by ourselves. I liked the fact that Ashleigh had help from her friends and family in caring for Wonder when she got sick.

All in all a good read for a rainy Friday evening. It made me remember my younger self. It also made me want to go for a ride.


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Thankful for Books


Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme. Join in the fun

It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. today, so I know at least some of you are going to be as busy with turkey and family as I will be, so this week’s question is a simple one:

What books and authors are you particularly thankful for this year?


I am thankful for new books by old authors and for some of my old favourite books.


New books by old favourite authors is The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read Number the Stars when I was in middle school and it was a favourite (I think I had it out of the library more than it was in). I had however never read The Giver before. I listened to it as an audio book and it was such a great read I just wanted to listen to it again.


Old favourite authors whom I continue being thankful for are Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings and J.D. Robb. David Eddings passed away during the summer and I will forever be thankful for his Belgariad and Mallorean series as my first introduction to “grown-up” books. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series continues to be one of my go to comfort books. J. D. Robb continues to write books that never fail to entertain me. They are also books I can share with my family.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Book Review: The Kite Runner [Audio]

kite-runner The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Category: Fiction/ Audio

Synopsis: From

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

My Thoughts: I have been meaning to read this book for ages and I finally bought it when my mentor told me that my first years were reading it for Swedish. I am glad I listened to it.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. I loved what it had to say about Afghanistan and the west's culpability in what happened. I loved how it described why the Afghanistan as we know it happened. I loved the descriptions of how it was. I also loved the insight into the feelings of those who flee their home country and why they love it.

I am not sure I liked Amir. I understand why he did what he did. I understand why he felt the way he did towards Hassan. I can also understand the actions of the grown-ups but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel revulsion. I guess that is what I should feel. Seeing the dark side of humanity can also be good because otherwise how can we recognise it when we see it? But that doesn’t stop the nauseous feeling I got when I heard the scene in the alley walking to the bus one morning. It stayed with me. It has haunted me.

I suppose this is a book that will stay with me. Not necessarily one that I will go back and read again but one that will stay in my brain informing the way I think and feel. I think this book has changed me in ways I had not predicted when I started listening to it. I suppose this makes it a book of value.

Audio: I liked the fact that the author narrated the story. Hearing the Afghan names pronounced properly was a treat. However, I did at times have a problem following with all the names as they were not familiar to me (my own ignorance). I found that the author was able to bring the characters alive. I could almost smell the smells he described and see the sights. I do so wish that the country wasn’t ravaged by war.

Overall this is a book that I would recommend to others. I think it is an important read.

Comfort Reads

bookwormcarnival Ms. Bookish is hosting the 42nd Bookworms Carnival. Her topic is Comfort Reads. Since I am currently sick I find this topic very appropriate.

I have several books that I go to when I am sick or just feel the need to curl up  with something to get lost in. There is something so comforting about going back to books where you know what is going to happen yet you are still entertained. Books where you don’t have to think but still you have something to get from them. My favourite books that fall into this category are:

David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean series, you can read my review of the first five books if you follow the link. I'll be reviewing the final seven books during 2010.

Right now I’ve been listening to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums. I got them from Audible over the summer and laying in bed this morning this was perfect. I know what happens so if I doze off it doesn’t really matter if I miss something.The books have a fairly simple story line but you end up really caring for the characters.

My final one is J. D. Robb’s In Death Series. Although this is a murder mystery series it is still one of my comfort reads because I know it well and it is easy to read. This series makes me laugh and the characters feel very real, even Roark for all his money.

These books all have one thing in common, they are fairly easy reads (and listens) and they have a certain feel good factor with them. You know who the good people are and who the bad people are. You know what is going to happen. Although there are some twists they don’t really throw you for a spin. I’m not saying that being thrown for a spin is a bad thing, simply when I am sick I want something predictable. That is real comfort.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Cranford

Teaser Tuesday 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“The first part was, indeed, a severe and forcible picture of the responsibilities of mothers, and a warning against the evils that were in the world, and lying in ghastly wait for the little baby of two days old. His wife did not write, said the old gentleman, because he had forbidden it, she being indisposed with a sprained ankle, which (he said) quite incapacitated her from holding a pen” (65).

From Cranford & Other Stories by Elizabeth C. Gaskell. I’m reading this for The Classic Circuit. Come back on December 18th for my review!

What’s On Your Nightstand: December

What's On Your Nightstand

Cranford Cranford & Other Stories by Elizabeth C. Gaskell. I’m reading this for the Classic Circuit. It is stopping by my blog on December 18th.

yearoflivingbiblically The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. This is the last of my books for the Fall Into Reading Challenge. I picked it up over the summer at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC. I loved that bookstore. It is an amazing Indie bookstore.

mansomhatar Män som hatar kvinnor (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) by Stieg Larsson. I’m reading this in Swedish because for years I have been saying that whenever possible you should read a book in the language it was actually written. I completely missed the hype when these books came out in Sweden because I was living in the UK. Then I missed they hype in the UK because I moved back to Sweden. I thought it was time.

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. I'm reading this one because I wanted to read it for the holidays. Now I am also reading it for the 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge. I might also watch the movie version.

I will be reading other books in December as well. I just haven’t quite decided which ones yet. I want to keep it a bit loose. I will be off over Christmas and I might get loads of reading done. Or I might not get any. I don’t want to stress about it so…

Monday, 23 November 2009

Musing Mondays: Books From School

Musing Mondays (BIG)_thumb[1] 
 Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your bookshelf… 

What books did you read while in school? Were there any that you particular liked, or even hated? Did any become lifelong favourites?

I have always loved reading. When I was in 6th grade my teacher only made me do a book report for every third book I read. Everyone else had to do it for every book they read. I still had more book reports at the end of the year than anyone else.

That said, there were some books that we were assigned in school that I did not like. That I could not finish. That I have no desire to ever re-read. The one that really comes in mind here is For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. It was our assigned reading the summer between my junior and senior year in high school. I read about half the book and then the last three chapters. It just didn’t capture me at all.

A book that became a lifelong favourite was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (review). It just captured me in a way that very few books had done then. It informed the way I thought.

I am studying to be an English teacher and I want to transfer my love for literature to my students. I want everyone to find the book that helps them think. That helps them grow! I’m really interested in hearing everyone else’s responses to this question!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Sunday Salon: The Man as the Narrator in My Ántonia

The Sunday

What Caught My Fancy This Week

Jade @ Tasting Grace asked a really interesting question on my review of My Ántonia and since I wanted to expand on it a bit I thought I would talk about it here. The question (or actually questions were):
That is really interesting that she chose a male narrator for the story. Do you think it makes the story more or less believable? I mean, do you think that a male would necessarily have caught on some of the subtler subtext in women's relationships? Does it say something about women needing a man to be their mouthpiece? And if so, can a man really serve that function?

To answer the question does it make the story more or less believable, I don’t think there is an easy answer to this. I think it makes the story different. I do wonder if men at the time would have seen the hypocrisies, however, I know that some did. Men were also involved in the fight for equality for women, so I do think that a man might have seen it.

The subtler subtexts of women’s relationships is something I missed in the book and I think that that is because it was told by a man. And I liked that. It made the narrator more believable. He was clearly in awe of these girls but he failed to see how they related to each other. That made him and them more real.

I think that buy using a man as the narrator Cather allowed us to see the women with some objectivity. I don’t think a man needed to tell the story but I think that by using a man she showed the dichotomy that was women’s lot at that time. At the time women where either good and pure or they were ‘working girls’. By using a man as the narrator she manages to show that this wasn’t always the case. It also lends some distance to the women. A distance that one of the women in the group would not have managed. By putting him on the outside we get a more objective view.

On the subject of women in general I came across this great post from Book Snob this week that sums up my views on being a woman and feminism.

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. This weeks section was titled (it was a subtitle) Of Plots and Plans: Stating the Unity of a Book. It talks of the importance of understanding and being able to state what the book is about in a few short sentences. This helps with seeing connections with other works. For example it states that both The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and Das Kapital by Karl Marx have similar unity of structure and therefore one can draw connections between the two. Very interesting section. I am finding that I have to read this book in very small chunks or I get hopelessly lost.

I continue my history self-education by reading The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer. Managed a chapter this week. About the first reformer. Might need to re-read that though.

Almost done The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I’ve had the car quite a bit this week so I haven’t listened to this book as much as I would have liked. My first years have been reading this for Swedish (which I don’t teach) and they were telling me how great the movie was so I am going to have to watch it. I still have mixed feelings about it.


As I’ve already mentioned I finished My Ántonia by Willa Cather (Review) I really enjoyed this book!

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Review). Read for the Childhood Favourites Challenge. I have mixed feelings about this book and have always had.

I also forgot to link to one review last week. I read Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation by Ann M. Martin (Review)


I realised last week that the challenges were taking over my Sunday Salon posts so I will only include challenges when I join a new one. This week I have joined one, The 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge. I will be reading one book for this challenge, Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

I am also trying to figure out which challenges to join for 2010. There are so many good ones out there but I don’t want to suffer from challenge burn out. So far I have done a google doc spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets, it has several sheets and is colour coded, why yes I am a geek) and I have over 40 books on the list I just keep adding to the list. I need to focus! I have a thesis to write in the spring and two lit courses to take. I will be reading loads!

Fun Stuff

There is a great giveaway right now over at Bibliofreak. Click to Join the Great Kindle II GiveAway! and I get another entry (have I mentioned how much I really really want a Kindle?)

Another fantastic giveaway comes from Out of the Blue. She is giving away a book of their choice, for a value of up to €12 at BookDepository. It is great giveaway because it is open to the whole world (or at least to any part of the world where BookDepository ships to). Ends 6th of December.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Book Review: Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie Little House on the Prairie by  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Category: Childrens

Synopsis: The second book in the classic children’s tale takes Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura and baby Carrie from the woods of Wisconsin to Oklahoma and Indian territory. It tells of the family’s first year (and only) year on the Prairie.

My Thoughts: I read this for the Childhood Favourites Challenge. Growing up this was never really my favourite book and I think part of my problem was the attitude towards the Indians. This time reading it I did appreciate Pa’s view that they should treat the Indians with respect.

What I do like about this book is the quite contentedness with the every day. There is no need to be ‘entertained’ something that I think is all to prevalent in today’s society. I felt a great calm reading this book.

I also love Garth Williams drawings in my copy. They are so beautifully done.

Laura was a childhood heroine of mine. I wanted to be like her. She wasn’t always good (neither was I). She had adventures (looking back now so did I). Thinking about my childhood heroines they were often like Laura. A bit of a free spirit. Not ladylike, wanting to be in the thick of things and very curious about everything. That was me. Because Laura was a childhood heroine of mine I have also tagged this entry with Women Unbound even though I did not read it for that challenge. She had a part in shaping who I am as a woman.

Reading through my childhood favourites I will be mentioning other childhood heroines of mine.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Books for Posterity

btt2 Today’s question was suggested by Barbara:

Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

This is an interesting topic as I have just been discussing this with my seniors. We have been doing a unit on poetry and have talked a great deal about themes that are universal.

Often in the ‘classics’ the themes are universal and that is what makes them last (although I am personally not sure how Bleak House has lasted so long). What authors now need to do is find themes that are universal but also to set them in such a way that they feel as if they are relevant. I find that often today authors use to many pop culture references and this means that the books loose their appeal.

However I do think that there are some books that will last. Not all of them are books I love but I think they will stay because they talk of themes that are universal. Some of these books are Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audry Niffenegger.

As I compile this list I realise that all of these books are set in a time gone by (yes I know that at least part of some of these books are set in more recent times but the majority of the story takes place in the past). Interesting. I wonder if this is because we have a hard time seeing our own time with any objectivity. Maybe we need to set things into a time that we feel is stable. Where we know the outcome of events. That this makes it secure.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

2009 Holiday Reading Challenge: Introductory Post

So I wasn’t going to join any more challenges. But this one kept coming up in my google reader. In my defense I was already planning on reading a holiday book and this one has very easy requirements (yes I am justifying).
The particulars:
The challenge is hosted by Nely at All About {n}.  The rules are simple:
1- Challenge will start Friday, November 20 and will end Thursday, December 31.
2- You can read anywhere from 1 to 5 books for the challenge and, of course, if you're like me, you are more than welcome to surpass that number.
3- And now, here's the clincher... they must be holiday related books. That's right, the holiday doesn't really matter, but it would be more "jolly" if your choices were Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.
4- The size of the book does not matter, nor does the genre. It is also okay for the book to overlap with other challenges. The only thing I ask is that they are not children's books. YA is okay. And so are re-reads. I for one tend to read the same books every Christmas - they are tradition.
5- To sign up - leave a link back to your challenge post. There will also be a post for review links as well as one for challenge wrap-ups.
6- And.... there will be goodies. That's right, we'll call them presents. At the end of every week that the challenge is running I will choose one winner from the review links and I will allow them to pick a book of their choosing (of course, I will provide a list). Meaning the more books you read, review and link up, the more chances you have at winning a "present".
I have to many challenges going on at the minute plus a research paper due mid December. Therefore I choose one book and one book only (I might add more if I have time but I am not going to overstretch). My choice is:

Different kinda holiday but I love Pratchett and want to read more of him so…

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Little House on the Prairie

Teaser Tuesday Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
“Pa drove the wagon out onto the ice, following those wagon tracks. The horses’ hoofs clop-clopped with a dull sound, the wagon wheels went crunching. The town grew smaller and smaller behind, till even the tall store was only a dot”.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (pg 7)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Book Review: My Ántonia

my antoniaMy Ántonia by Willa Cather

Category: Fiction

Synopsis: A story of young women on the American frontier (Nebraska). The story focuses primarily on the title character Ántonia and the rather hard life she end up leading as an immigrant woman in the American west. We also get to see the life of several other pioneer women and the choices they have made.

My Thoughts: I loved this book. It was well written. It had me gripped.
I loved that it portrayed the many different aspects of pioneer life. The hypocrisies, the joys and a the sorrows. I also liked that it was told from the perspective of a man who knew these women. It gave an impression of the women that I had not expected. One can tell that the author is female but I find it interesting that she uses a male to tell her story. I wonder if a man at the time would have seen and commented on the things that the narrator commented on?

I liked that the story followed several different women and showed them as independent characters, capable of taking care of themselves. The girls are all strong and learn to use their strengths to help themselves but also each other, despite what society around them might think.

One aspect that I found very relevant both for the time when the story was written and set and for today was the hypocrisies surrounding men and women and their roles. At the same time as the girls were capable of hard work and industry was admired a girl who worked at a “mans job” was seen as somehow less of a woman. She was looked down upon and talked about. I still find these attitudes today. The women themselves were doing it to survive and to help their families survive something that was required but they were seen as less than the women who lived in town.

Another significant aspect of which I had not thought about was the attitude of the Americans towards the newly arrived immigrants. The immigrants worked hard and were motivated but were often seen as having looser morals and differing attitudes. Lets be honest and say that this attitude still prevails in many societies today (my own included). It is an attitude I find sad.

I read this for both the Fall Into Reading and Women Unbound challenges. It fits really well into the Women Unbound challenge as it covers so many aspects of being a woman then and now. A truly timeless book that my students will be reading in the future.

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page 

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your bookshelf… 
With the holiday season now upon us, have you left any hint – subtle or otherwise – for books family and friends might buy you for Christmas? Do you like to receive books, or do you prefer certificates so you can choose your own?

My family are very direct when it comes to Christmas and birthday gifts. We ask.
I always ask for books for Christmas. This year I have asked for specific books. I want a series of books about the history of Sweden by author Herman Lindqvist. I have the short version but I would like the whole set so that is what I have asked for.  I wouldn’t say no to other books either :) but these are books that I want but haven’t gotten around to buying for myself.
This is the same author who wrote a book that I just bought this week and got signed. I am very excited to read it!
Bernadotte Manen vi valde

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Sunday Salon: Book Signing

The Sunday
What Caught My Fancy This Week
This week has been a bad bad bad reading week for me. I was super busy with school and work and family and then I managed to get sick as well. Not so good.
I did have some fun on Tuesday though. One of my favourite Swedish authors was in the town near where I live signing books. I headed over there and got a copy of his latest book signed. He was so nice and I am really looking forward to reading this latest book from him.
Bernadotte Manen vi valde
The book is about the Swedish King Karl XIV Johan before he became king. He was a French soldier whom we elected to be king.
Herman Lindqvist is primarily a storyteller. He has written the history of Sweden in several volumes (which I covet) and he writes in a very accessible style.
I wish that his books had been part of the curriculum for history in Sweden, then maybe I would have been more interested in Swedish history. Oh well I can learn about it now!

My Antonia by Willa Cather. Bad reading week and I haven’t finished this.
How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. Instead of reading this today I read my students papers. I would rather have been reading this.

I continue my history self-education by reading The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer. Still not really making any progress here.

I’ve started The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. So far I have very mixed feelings about it. I am not overly fond of the narrator but I find the story fascinating. I know very little about Afghanistan and finding out more about the country and the people is very interesting. I loved the comment about how the world forgot about Afghanistan.


I did read “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway this week since my seniors were reading it for class. I haven’t reviewed it though. This week has been a bit crazy.

Fall into Reading
I am reading:
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (review)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (review)
My Ántonia by Willa Cather
The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
Almost done My Ántonia by Willa Cather.

Childhood Favourites Challenge
The original post is here:
The Babysitters Club: Mary Anne Saves the Day by Ann M. Martin (review)
A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Madicken by Astrid Lindgren
Nothing read for this one this week.
The Really Old Classics Challenge
Introductory post here:
I'll be reading:
The Epic of Gilgamesh
I might also add the extra credit challenge but I haven't decided yet.
Women Unbound Challenge
I ended up joining this challenge. I wonder if there is a twelve step program? Introductory post is here.
1. My Ántonia by Willa Cather
2. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (short story)
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. Madicken by Astrid Lindgren
5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
2. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
3. Living History by Hillary Clinton

I am also taking part in The Classic Circuit: On Tour With Elizabeth Gaskell where I will be reading Cranford. The Circuit will be visiting my blog on December 18th so please stop by then!

Fun Stuff

There is a great giveaway right now over at Bibliofreak. Click to Join the Great Kindle II GiveAway! and I get another entry (have I mentioned how much I really really want a Kindle?) and you can enter too! There are several ways of getting entries so get clicking!

I got my match for Book Blogger Holiday Swap I’m really excited and plotting what I should give. 
If you want some more fun sign up for the Progressive Dinner Party that Amy, Nicole and Julie are hosting December 7-11. It looks like great fun!
I also posted a Weekly Geek this week featuring one of my favourite podcasts. Enjoy!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Weekly Geeks: Podcasts

WG Relaxing_thumb[3]The Weekly Geeks is a weekly challenge started by Dewey that features different aspects blogging in general and book blogging specifically.
This weeks challenge is:
Dewey worded it this way, "find and review a link to a book podcast." I’m modifying this just a bit and am asking you to share with us a podcast you love, preferably book related, but not necessarily so. Give us the link, of course, and share with us details about that podcast and why you enjoy it so much. If you have a couple or three favourites, share them all!
My share is In Our Time on BBC Radio 4.
Each week “Melvyn Bragg and guests investigate the history of ideas.” As you can see from the blurb from the Beeb it isn’t just concerning books but ideas in general. However, there are many goodies there for those who want to hear about books. Some of my favourites have been the programs on:

A Modest Proposal
Brave New World
The History of History

and one for those in the book blogging community doing the Women Unbound Challenge Suffragism.
They also did a whole series on Darwin earlier this year to celebrate his 200th birthday. I found it fascinating.

Don’t limit yourself simply to the culture archives as there is much to find in all of the archives for any curious soul. I have found programs that are well worth it in the other archives as well as they give you insight into writers and the history around them. Each show also comes with links if you want to explore the topic further.

Each show is about 42 minutes long and you can subscribe to the current season on iTunes (and several other services) for free. To listen to the archives you need RealPlayer. Most of the old shows are available.


Thursday, 12 November 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Bad Books

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme discussing all things bookish.

Suggested by JM:
“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.
That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.
Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

I totally agree with the "life is to short to read bad books" saying. I have rarely read a book to the end if I didn't like it. As a future teacher I probably shouldn't admit to this but...I never finished Carrie by Stephen King and I never finished For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway because I hated both of them. I read enough that I could intelligently answer the questions. Actually by the time Carrie came around I had access to the interwebby and I had friends who pointed me in the right direction for good summaries. I just could not finish them. For me it has to do with the fact that I have so many things I want to do in my life that I don't give time to anything that isn't giving me anything. That goes for so many things in my life not just books.

I might find something difficult but worthwhile and that still gets my attention. I might know that it will give me something in the end although the hoops to get to the end are annoying but they need to be done (school right now comes to mind here). If a book is supposed to be funny but isn't making me laugh it goes (Don Quixote is an example of this). If it is supposed to make me think but leaves does not, it goes. You get the picture.

Life is indeed to short to read bad books

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Rememberance Day: Poetry

Today we remember those who died and have been injured in armed conflicts around the world. I like to mark this rememberance by posting some of my favourite poems.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
 Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
I find the fourth stanza particularly moving. 

Please support The Poppy Appeal or a similar organisation in your country.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Ashleigh didn't think horses were as dumb as some people thought. You just had to understand them to love and trust you-then they behaved beautifully (8).

 From A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell which I am reading for the Childhood Favourite Challenge.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your bookshelf… 

Does your house have a communal bookshelf? If not, is your bookshelf centrally located so everyone has access to it?

We have communal bookshelves. I currently live with my parents in the house my family has lived in for the last 15 years (I've been away and come back for school). We have a library. Yep a room dedicated to books. Currently it is being renovated but it needs to be done by November 20th. This is where a large portion of our books normally live (they are currently in paper bags in various corners of the house).

However, we have more books than we have ever been able to fit in there so going through the house from one guest bedroom to another: North side guest bedroom: one small bookshelf plus I found some books in a box in that attic yesterday. Back staircase: my dad's old school books along the shelf under the eves. Mum's sewing room: quilting and craft books in a cupboard. Library: most of the books (normally). Pantry: Cookbooks. Southside landing: Childrens' and YA books in a cupboard. Collegeboys room: Assorted books. My study: school books plus most of "my" fiction books (big stack on the floor I need more bookcases). My bedroom: books on the nightstand (they live there otherwise they would be in previous mentioned pile on the floor). Southside staircase: Childrens' books on the shelf under the eves (stacked double high). My old bedroom: YA books and other books that have yet to be transferred to my new bedroom.

Everyone has access to most of these books without having to knock (really the only private space is my bedroom and study and if anyone wanted books from there they can come in and get them). Books in my family are really considered communal property. We all read and we all share. It doesn't really matter who bought the book.

And I'll be posting pictures once the library is done.

Book Review: Baby-sitters' Summer Vacation

Baby-sitters' Summer Vacation: Super Special #2 by Ann M. Martin

Category: Children (pre-teen)

Synopsis: The girls (and one boy) from the Baby-Sitters Club and several of their young charges head off to Camp Mohawk for two weeks. However the girls soon find out that camp is a lot more than they thought. When they leave they have learned lots about life and love and what you should do when lost in the woods.

My Thoughts: I read this book for The Baby Sitters Club Blog Tour that My Friend Amy is hosting. I always liked the super specials because it allowed me to see the same events through the eyes of several of the girls. And although it has been almost 20 years since last I read this book I still enjoyed the different perspectives. I liked that through the eyes of the different girls different problems were addressed. Several of the girls face not quite fitting in and they solve this in different ways. Now I can appreciate that the book gives young girls several strategies. I also liked that the girls rarely seemed to spend time with each other instead they had to rely on themselves. That might sound strange for a story about friends but I think it is important that they made new friends while still being important to each other.

Amazon has this book marketed to 9-12 year olds and I think that might be about right, although I was ten when I read it the first time and I can remember being a bit put off by all the talk of make up. Wasn't really my scene then (although it really still isn't. My idea of a lot of make-up is adding eye shadow to the mascara :D)

Overall I enjoyed the few hours I spent with this book. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Mailbox Monday: Week of November 1st

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. She encourages you to share books that have arrived in your mailbox during the week.

This was a good mailbox week for me (I got my grant money and the first thing I did was go out and order books). I got

Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb which I have already read (link to my review)

A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell for the Childhood Favourites Challenge

Cranford & Other Stories by Elizabeth C. Gaskell for the Classics Tour

Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill which I have seen recommended on various book blogs and was intrigued.

All of the books came from the