Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - This Year in Reading

Well, what a year this has been in reading! I managed to read a grand total of 128 books - not as many as my record 166 from 2011, but still a good, solid amount of reading. And of those 128, a full 60 were books straight off the dusty TBR pile - which is WONDERFUL, and a major improvement. So all in all, I am happy with my reading in 2014.

Another cool thing that happened this year with this blog is that I passed the 500 post milestone - amazing considering I thought I would make a few posts in early 2011 and then quit!

Quick 2014 challenge roundup:

TBR Pile Challenge - managed all 12 of the 12 listed books, plus I read both of my alternates, which is a first for me. Can't wait to do this one again in 2015!
Harlem Renaissance Reading Challenge - I exceeded this challenge by reading 3 books when I signed up for only 1 (to be sure I could complete the challenge). I am hoping this challenge happens again in 2015, but if not, I might do my own mini-challenge, as I'd love to read more books that are in this category.
Color-Coded Reading Challenge - read all of the books for this one, and as usual discovered some cool books along the way. Looking forward to doing this one again in 2015.
Books on France Reading Challenge - exceeded this one too, as I signed up for just a couple books to make sure I could complete it. There's a twist on this one for 2015 that should be fun.
The Planet Earth Challenge - this is my own personal challenge to read a book set in each country on earth. I had a couple books that worked for this challenge this year, but not a lot, but this is a work in progress with no specific due date, so that's OK. I'll keep working on this as I can.

Overall I got off to a slow start on my reading, so for 2015 I'd like to keep a more steady pace

Some changes in store for 2015:

-As of tomorrow, this blog will have a new name! When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a hurry and I couldn't think of a creative name - plus, I'm a procrastinator and I tend to lose interest in things, so frankly I kind of expected to forget about this blog and abandon it after a couple months. Then in 2012, the blog's name was  obsolete, but again I couldn't think of a more creative name so I tacked on "(and Beyond)" and let it go at that. The name has been bugging me for a while now and I finally came up with something new, so stop by tomorrow to see what it is! I'm not going to change anything else about the blog - one big change is enough for now :)

-New feature: Reread of the Month. I have a bunch of books on my TBR pile that are books I read in the past from the library, that I enjoyed so much I ended up buying myself a copy when one became available on the Library Sale shelves. Since these are technically re-reads, even though they are part of my TBR pile, I decided to create a special category for these books and read one per month.

-Summer Language Challenge preparation. I really hope Ekaterina hosts the Language Freak Summer Challenge again in 2015, and if so, I am determined to do a LOT better. So determined that I am planning to challenge myself to really work on this challenge this summer. I have books on hand and the desire to do this, so I can definitely make it happen.

-More series reading. One aspect of my TBR pile is books that are part of a series - but not the first book. I am a stickler about reading a series from the beginning, so many of these books have sat unread waiting for me to chase down the other books to start the series, etc.

So there you have it! I sincerely thank all of my readers, and I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous year full of books and reading and all good things. See you in 2015!

December - This Month in Reading

This was a completely nutty month in reading for me. At the end of November, I realized that I had to read more than 20 books to complete the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. Since I started this blog in 2011, I've always completed each challenge I've joined, so I rallied and I read a total of 27 books this month, which I think is a record for me.

Speaking of reading challenges, in reading these 27 books, I completed the Mount TBR Challenge and read all 14 books (the main 12 plus the 2 alternates) for the TBR Pile Challenge, which is another first. Amazing!

For January, I would like to read one book for each challenge I signed up for for 2015 so as to stay on track. I already have 2 non-challenge books I will have to complete too, so I'm hoping for an overall total of 10 books. I think I can manage.

How was your December reading?

Read It Again, Sam 2015

I was planning on doing some re-reads in 2015, so I may as well join this challenge too. It's also hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block. I'm going to sign up for the "A Trip Down Memory Lane" level of 12 books, since that works out with my plans. I'll keep track of the books I re-read for this challenge in this post.

1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
2. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years - Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth
3. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
4. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
5. 1984 - George Orwell
6. Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage - Ernst Schnabel
7. Anne Frank Remembered - Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold
8. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
9. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
10. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition - Anne Frank
11. Amberville - Tim Davys
12. Sleeping in Flame - Jonathan Carroll

2015 Mount TBR Reading Challenge

I cannot believe I cleared 60 books from my TBR Pile in 2014 thanks to this challenge - the scary thing is I can do at least that many in 2015 - so I am signing up again! Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting this challenge again (thanks Bev!), so go sign up and clear that pile! I am going to stick to the Mt Kilimanjaro level, another 60 books, as it's very do-able, although this year I *swear* I am not going to get distracted and have to read more than 20 books in 1 month to summit :S

I'll keep track of the books I read for this challenge in this post as I read them during the year. And if you see less than 45 - 50 books on this list in Nov. 2015, feel free to leave me a comment telling me to get busy reading :)

1. A Doll's House - Henrik Ibsen
2. Between Two Fires - Christopher Buehlman
3. A Wish After Midnight - Zetta Elliott
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
5. Goodbye, Columbus - Philip Roth
6. Mary Ann in Autumn - Armistead Maupin
7. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
8. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
9. 1984 - George Orwell
10. Nobody's Family Is Going to Change - Louise Fitzhugh
11. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
12. Southern Lady, Yankee Spy - Elizabeth R. Varon
13. Magnificent Obsession - Lloyd C. Douglas
14. Decline and Fall - Evelyn Waugh
15. 44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith
16. Espresso Tales - Alexander McCall Smith
17. Love Over Scotland - Alexander McCall Smith
18. Anne Frank - A History for Today
19. Hidden Child of the Holocaust - Stacy Cretzmeyer
20. Inside Anne Frank's House: An Illustrated Journey Through Anne's World
21. Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife - Francine Prose
22. Sala's Gift - Ann Kirschner
23. Journal - Anne Frank
24. Treasures from the Attic - Mirjam Pressler
25. The Hero's Walk - Anita Rau Badami
26. Berlin Noir - Philip Kerr
27. A Personal Matter - Kenzaburo Oe
28. A Free Man of Color - Barbara Hambly
29. O Pioneers! - Willa Cather
30. The City & The City - China Miéville
31. Don't Look Now - Daphne du Maurier
32. Blindness - José Saramago
33. Het Achterhuis - Anne Frank
34. Steppenwolf - Herman Hesse
35. Women in Love - D.H. Lawrence
36. Les Misérables - Victor Hugo
37. My Day in Heaven with My Lil' Sister - Quest Delaney
38. Lanceheim - Tim Davys
39. Torquai - Tim Davys
40. Yok - Tim Davys
41. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
42. Tartuffe - Molière
43. The Souls of Black Folk - W.E.B. Du Bois
44. The Eighth Day of the Week - Marek Hłasko
45. The Necromancer's House - Christopher Buehlman
46. The Bookseller of Kabul - Åsne Seierstad
47. The Cid - Pierre Corneille
48. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
49. Sleeping in Flame - Jonathan Carroll
50. Chéri - Colette
51. A Year in the Merde - Stephen Clarke
52. Billy Mink - Thornton W. Burgess
53. The Arabian Nights - translated by Sir Richard F. Burton
54. The Last of Chéri - Colette
55. The Pearl - John Steinbeck
56. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
57. Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene
58. Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev
59. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
60. The Rhetoric of Death - Judith Rock

Sacred Games - Vikram Chandra

Reader, I feel like I have spent the last few days in Mumbai and have only now come back - and I'm not sure I'm ready to return. What an amazing sprawl this book is. There are so many stories here that all seem to intertwine somehow, someway. The writing was of that hypnotic type that creates vivid imagery in my mind as I read, like some grand film playing only for me. I felt compelled to read and I hated to put the book down. Sorry that this review is even more jumbled than usual but I'm still processing the scope of this amazing story. I will have to get to the author's other books as soon as I defeat the TBR pile. Recommended.

With this book finished, I have now completed the Mount TBR Challenge - hooray! The view from the top of "Mount Kilimanjaro" is wonderful :) I have cleared a mind boggling 60 books from my TBR pile this year, and it's finally looking like it will someday be cleared for good - which is kind of shocking, but in a good way. I'll be participating in this challenge again for 2015, and I think I'll repeat this climb, although I will try to keep a steadier pace. :S Or maybe I should just envision a slow and steady descent from the peak?

In related news, I have now completely completed (sorry, but it's true - read on!) the TBR Pile Challenge for 2014 - I have now read all 12 of the 12 main books, plus both of the alternate books, a feat I have never yet managed - wahoo! So I will go ahead and plant the flag of this challenge on top of the mountain while I am here jumping up and down and celebrating.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Back to the Classics Challenge 2015

Karen K of Books and Chocolate is hosting this fun challenge again, with some new categories, and I can't wait! I had a great time in 2014 exploring the classics with this challenge, and I have more on the TBR pile for 2015, as well as some books I am adding to the list because they've been on my mental long-term TBR list for ages. It's fun to figure out which books to use where, as so many would fit in multiple categories. Here are the challenge categories and the books I am going to read for each:

1.  A 19th Century Classic -- any book published between 1800 and 1899 - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

2.  A 20th Century Classic -- any book published between 1900 and 1965 - Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author - O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

4.  A Classic in Translation - The Arabian Nights translated by Sir Richard F. Burton

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel -- a single work of 500 pages or longer Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

6.  A Classic Novella -- any work shorter than 250 pages - Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

7.  A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title - Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic - Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

9.  A Forgotten Classic - Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas

10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that's considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author - Het Achterhuis by Anne Frank

11.  A Classic Children's Book - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

12.  A Classic Play - A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

So there you have it - this should be a very satisfying and fun challenge this year. Thanks to Karen for hosting this great challenge again in 2015! Did you sign up yet? What's on your list for 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde

This was a hilarious read. The lines are so entertaining that it almost reads like a recitation of Wilde's known witticisms and quotations. Indeed, I believe many of Wilde's best known quotes are actually lines from this play. I can't really say much more without flirting with spoilers, but I highly recommend any writing by Wilde, one of the most talented writers ever to have lived.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

What an utterly charming book! I managed to never read this growing up, and I so wish I had - it was a lot of fun. The writing made me laugh out loud more than once. I know Mr. Toad is a very popular character, and I can certainly see why; I slightly preferred Mole though, as he seemed like a sweeter, nicer character overall. I truly wish this book was the first in a series, as I'd love to read more stories about these characters. A book well deserving of its status as a classic. Highly recommended.

A Handful of Dust - Evelyn Waugh

Reading this book directly after finishing the Coward plays was sort of a good thing - in fact some of the characters seemed familiar to me from the plays (of course they are not the same, but the characters in both the plays and this book were from similar backgrounds of wealthy English families going to seed as their way of life wanes in the time between world wars). For the first few pages I found myself unconsciously looking for stage directions and wondering how one would depict the narrative portions on the stage.

I must say this book was not exactly what I had imagined it would be before I started it. I have read some Waugh before, but it was ages ago, so I had a vague notion of what the book might be like. The story seemed like a straightforward satirical novel until it took a turn halfway through - I found this shocking and I could not put the book down wondering how it all came out - and I can't say it was entirely satisfying. I don't want to say more lest I create spoilers. However, I would recommend this book and I'd love to discuss it with anyone else who has read it in the comments or otherwise.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Three Plays: Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever, Private Lives - Noel Coward

As you may have guessed from the title, this book contains three plays, but they are all relatively short and I am therefore counting this as a single book. Of the three plays, I would have to say I enjoyed Private Lives the most, although I enjoyed them all. I imagine all of these plays really sing when performed on the stage.

It's amazing to me how talented Noel Coward was; apparently he wrote many of these plays in a matter of days - ! Crazy. As I was reading, many golden-age-of-hollywood movies would spring to mind from time to time, and according to this book's introduction this is because Coward's plays influenced the movies. If someone invents a working time machine in my lifetime, I would dearly love to go back in time and see Coward in action, acting in his own plays - I bet it would have been a truly amazing experience. I'll also make sure to book a ticket to see one of my favorite stars of that era, Clifton Webb, play the role of Blithe Spirit's Charles Condomine on Broadway - what a perfect casting that was. I look forward to reading more by Coward if I can get out from under the TBR pile. Recommended.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut

One of the things I liked the most about this book is what I guess I have to call the "meta" aspect of the story - the way the fictional story and reality intersected and bounced off each other throughout. I kind of wish I had started reading Vonnegut's books in the order in which he wrote them, but maybe someday if I can tame the TBR pile I can take that on as a project. I think seeing how he uses and re-uses many of the same characters would be interesting. This is another book I would love to discuss in a college-level class (or in the comments, feel free to leave one if you like!).

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Memory Room - Christopher Koch

Not sure what to make of this book. The tagline promises a story that has to do with spying, and it does, although the spying is just sort of mentioned here and there, and is always tangential to the character relationships. If one removed the "spying" element, which isn't much in the forefront to begin with, the story could still take place as it does. I get that the book is meant to be more about the mentality of someone who would choose to be a spy, but I didn't feel like I even got that. I kept waiting for some kind of payoff that never came. Not to mention that one of the characters was unbelievably tiresome to me - I have no patience for people who create drama (unless they are talented playwrights, ha ha). Undecided on this one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Devil's Tickets - Gary M. Pomerantz

The subtitle for this book is A Vengeful Wife, A Fatal Hand, and A New American Age. This book is an account of a sensational early 1930s murder trial of a wife accused of fatally shooting her husband over a game of bridge (a card game, hence the title - apparently "the devil's tickets" is a pejorative term for playing cards). According to the book, marital discord was rather common in bridge, since married couples often played as partners, which could cause issues if one partner felt the other was causing their team to lose, etc. I personally feel like games should be fun and not stressful, and I have no head for complicated card games - I don't have a good memory, for one thing - so I can't see any appeal to this game at all.

Also entwined in the story of the trial is that of a bridge expert, who used the trial as a publicity tool to successfully sell self-published bridge-related books and magazines. Both these stories were full of big personalities. You don't have to know how to play bridge to read or enjoy this book, but it would definitely help - I know that some of the descriptions here and there would have made more sense to me if I knew things about bridge. I most enjoyed the last third of the book, as it describes the kind of research I love to do. All in all the author really put a lot of detail into the book and it was an interesting window into the lives of people who are not well remembered now but who were nonetheless fascinating.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus III

This book was seriously relentless and inspired a feeling of dread the entire time I was reading it. I found one of the characters to be so entirely loathsome that it was hard to read about this person. Although it was a compulsive read, and I didn't dislike it, the overwhelming feeling of heaviness and sadness made it seem like it was a bit too long. A worthwhile read in many respects, but a harrowing one.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Detroit Electric Scheme - D.E. Johnson

This was an enthralling mystery that zipped along at a brisk pace and kept me guessing until the end, although I did start to put things together about halfway through. I liked the narrator a lot, and really liked a couple other characters too - so much that I was upset by some events that occurred at the end of the book. The book is like a film noir, but set in Detroit in 1910, which was right up my alley, as I love that period in history. Some quick research shows that this is the now the first book in a series - so I will definitely have to read the next books to see what happens next. A lucky Borders Last Days sale find, and recommended.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Henni - Miss Lasko-Gross

I loved this clever and relevant allegory. Henni is a highly appealing character, and I was really drawn in to her journey (literal and metaphorical). The art was reminiscent of Persepolis, which I of course loved too. The only complaint I have is that I would very much like to know more about Henni's story, and what happens next - I am definitely hoping for a sequel or a series. This author has a couple previous books, and I will definitely add them to my virtual to be read pile. Recommended.

Plucked - Rebecca M. Herzig

Whenever I hear of some questionable "medical" practice from 100 years ago, such as using X-rays (!) to remove unwanted hair, I shake my head and wonder what people could have been thinking -  but then I also wonder: in 2114, which common practices of today will seem unbelievably questionable? This thought brings me to my review of this book, subtitled A History of Hair Removal. As someone who admittedly conforms (if lazily and inconsistently) to the American custom of shaving one's armpits and calves, I found the book to be fascinating; it's thoroughly researched and full of interesting information and even includes illustrations. One small note: this book centers mainly on hair removal customs in the United States, and I would have loved to know a bit more about the difference between the U.S. and other countries, for example, why it's more common for French women to leave their armpit hair intact. But all in all this was an unusual but intriguing book. Recommended.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cause for Concern - Margaret Yorke

Wouldn't it be nice if all the horrible people who harm others would just disappear? The world would be such a better place. This book was a suspenseful character study, including horrible characters that harm others, that was skillfully put together in such a way that I really enjoyed wondering about how all the pieces fit together. I also appreciated the multiple points of view, as it allowed me to not only understand the thought processes and motivations of a bunch of characters, but care about these characters as well (well, most of them). This was another Library Sale book, and I wasn't familiar with the author before I brought this book home, but I'd definitely read her other books.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander

Another Library Sale book that has been waiting to be read - and another book I wish I had read much sooner. I enjoyed this suspenseful novel. The narrator is very sympathetic and I liked her spirit. The story kept me guessing at what was really happening throughout the book. I think there may be a sequel, and I'd definitely check that out. A quick, entertaining read.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our Father - Robert Tyler

This book was a fast read. I thought the story was well paced and I enjoyed all the different facets of it. I will say that I feel unsure of the author's message in some parts - I'm not 100% of the message I am supposed to take away. Maybe that's deliberate. In any case, the book seems somewhat eerily prophetic. I felt a lot of sympathy for some of the characters, and although I know they are fictional, I would hope that they could find peace and happiness.

Being Polite to Hitler - Robb Forman Dew

Not sure what to make of this book. In may ways it reminded me of this book. It wasn't a plotted story as much as it was a character study, but it seemed all over the place. A lot of the things that happened seemed random and had no real bearing on anything else. I enjoyed parts of it but others didn't make too much sense to me. I'm undecided about this one.

Edited to add: apparently this is part of a trilogy - if I had known that, I would have read the other books first. This may have made more sense to me if I had done that, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The City of Silver Light - Ruth Fox

Hague Publishing has done it again. This is an enjoyable YA fantasy book with a winning narrator and an intriguing story. I would have loved this book if it had been published when I was a kid. It's relatable to the "real world" but the fantasy elements are nicely intertwined, which creates a "this could happen to me, how cool" aspect to the story, which I always love as a reader. My only complaint is that it's too short - I wanted to know more about the titular city and the other goings on. Fortunately, there is a sequel so I can dive right in and find out what happens next. This book would make a great gift for that fan of YA/fantasy on your list this year! Recommended.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Universe in Miniature in Miniature - Patrick Somerville

Wow! This is one of those books you stumble on and can't believe you didn't always know about. As I have written (too) many times, I am not the biggest fan of short stories, so this contributed to me letting this book, yet another Borders Last Days find, sit on the TBR pile for so long. Now I can only kick myself for not picking it up sooner, as I fell madly in love with it.

It started with the cover, which has directions for turning the book into a mobile, among other things. The more I read, the more I admired the elegant writing and the more I started to see things come together. Ultimately, this book struck me as being kind of ingenious. The last story did me in though - it sealed the deal in a big way. If I had time, I'd reread this book right now - but that will have to wait. Recommended.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Emily of Deep Valley - Maud Hart Lovelace

It's rare to find a main character that is as sympathetic as the titular Emily in this book. Even though the story is set in 1912, there were parts of it that really resonated with me (or the me that was once 18). I found Emily to be charming and to be the embodiment of the expression "bloom where you're planted." My copy of this book included biographical information on the author, the young woman who was the inspiration for Emily (a friend of the author), and the illustrator, which really added to my enjoyment of the book. A fast, sweet read that I recommend.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The North China Lover - Marguerite Duras

This autobiographical novel was both easy and difficult to read. Told in the 3rd person but written in the present tense, it was almost more like a script, complete with notes for filming. It reminded me a lot of many European films - impressionistic rather than following a concrete plot. People cry and laugh a lot (often at the same time) and there is lots of frank sexuality. That said, now I wouldn't mind reading The Lover (L'amant) or Hiroshima mon amour, and/or reading these books in the original French.

Fated - S.G. Browne

Yet another of the Borders Last Days Sale haul that has finally been read. I enjoyed this lighthearted and irreverent take on fate and destiny (among other things), which also had plenty of room for some more thought-provoking material. The characters were very easily pictured and there were parts that had me laughing out loud here and there. One thing I found interesting was that I wasn't able to discern the author's overall message in some places; this is probably more about my deficiencies as a reader than any kind of defect in the writing. I'd definitely check out the author's other books.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fall of Frost - Brian Hall

Not sure what to make of this book. I found it as a remaindered book in a local dollar store, and I like Robert Frost's poetry, so it appealed to me and I impulsively bought it and added it to the overflowing TBR shelves to gather a thin film of dust for a couple years. Upon finally getting down to reading the book, I discovered that much like The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, this book is based on known and documented events, letters, sayings, and etc. but it's a novelized version of these events. That didn't bother me, but I can't say I was crazy about the execution, which jumped around in time. The passages about the final events in Frost's life, such as his trip to Russia in 1962, worked really well for me, while a lot of the other parts were too brief and staccato for my taste. All in all though, I appreciated the author's attempt to illuminate the inspiration for Frost's poetry.

A Carrion Death - Michael Stanley

I enjoyed this mystery set in Botswana. It's the first in a series, and I thought the author (actually a team of two) did nice work with lots of interesting twists and turns. There are apparently several other books with the charming and likable Detective David "Kubu" Bengu, with whom I share a liking for opera, regular meals, and good wine. I'll be sure to check those out in the future when I've tamed my TBR pile.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Alibi - Joseph Kanon

This was a page-turning thriller, despite the fact that I didn't much like most of the characters. I believe that that's the point - the point is, during wartime (and maybe all the time), everyone becomes morally ambiguous and people do what they feel they have to do to survive or to win. However, there were times when the (highly unreliable) narrator seemed so incapable of any kind of clear thinking that I wanted to give him a good shaking. The events, as they unfold, do have an organic feel, and there's an overall feeling of doom that pervades the story. That said, this kept me reading and wondering how it would all turn out.

35 kilos d'espoir - Anna Gavalda

I found a local French class that includes reading a novel in French as part of the class, and this was the book chosen for this particular session. This book was really great - it was touching, even when the main character was frustrating. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Although it's a book intended for kids 10 and up, there was still much vocabulary I had to learn, relearn, and look up, including a bunch of slang, so it was sufficiently challenging for me. Unfortunately the timing of this class means that this book is way too late to count for the Language Freak Summer Challenge (LFSC), but it still counts for the Books on France Challenge, so that's good. And I hope there is a session of this class next summer with another book in French so it will count for the LFSC 2015! :)

Et maintenant, ma petite critique en français !

J'ai trouvé une classe de français qui comprend la lecture d'un roman en français, et ce petit livre était la choix pour la session en cours. Ce livre était formidable - c'était touchant et émouvant, même que le personnage principal était frustrant pour moi. Ce livre me plaisait beaucoup :^).

Bien que c'est un livre pour les enfants dès 10 ans, c'était plein de mots inconnus, et aussi beaucoup argot. Donc j'ai augmenté le vocabulaire.

Dommagement, je n'ai trouvé pas la classe avant que j'ai participé avec <<le défi pour les fanatiques des langues étrangères>>, et donc ce livre ne marche pas pour ça, hélas. Mais ça marche pour un autre défi, <<le défi des livres de France>>.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen - Syrie James

This book, written by a Jane Austen scholar, is a lovely pastiche of biography and retrofitted scenes from Austen's novels that creates a fun and touching account of Austen's private life, as revealed by these "lost memoirs." Having just read three Austen novels in the past several years, it was interesting for me to find out more about her real life (much of the book is based on fact) and how, in some cases, her life and the lives of her characters intersected. I think if you are an Austen fan you will enjoy this novel quite a bit.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Poison Tree - Erin Kelly

I think I saw this book every single time I visited Borders in the year or so before it closed for good. I picked it up and put it down many times - it seemed intriguing but I was trying to avoid spending too much money on new books. Flash forward slightly to the last days sales, and there was a copy of this book, so I eagerly snatched it up and took it home - where it sat on my TBR pile until now.

I enjoyed this suspenseful book, a well written psychological thriller. I envy the narrator's ability with languages and I can understand her longing for a more "interesting" life at a young age. I did begin to get a bit impatient during the story, wondering what exactly happened, but overall this was a fast and enjoyable read.