Thursday, September 30, 2004

Falling Angels

Falling AngelsHaving read Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, I have now read all of the books she has written. I certainly hope she is working on another one.

Chevalier has a particular skill in writing novels in historical settings, but with issues as up-to-date as contemporary fiction. This particular novel begins in 1901 with the death of Queen Victoria and ends in 1910 with the death of King Edward. Throughout the novel, action centers on the cemetery where Maude Coleman and Lavinia Waterhouse meet at the adjacent family plots. When Lavinia's family moves to Maude's neighborhood, the two girls become best friends. They return again and again to the cemetery as today's children would go to a local park to play. There, they meet Simon, a young boy who is already working with his father and the other gravediggers. These three young people come of age during the 10 years of the novel, and much of the story is told through their voices.

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier was an excellent book. The story is told in narrative, with all of the characters getting a chance to present their point of view. This had the potential to be confusing, but Chevalier managed the changes from one character to another very well.

I was intrigued by the role that the women's suffrage movement in England played in this book. Particularly so yesterday when I listened to Anna Greenberg in an interview on the Diane Rehm Show as she discussed the role that women voters will play in this year's presidential elections.

Books read for the 50 Book Challenge: 13
Books read in 2004: 107

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Banned Books Week

I'm particularly fond of Banned Books Week. This year, it is being observed 25 September through 2 October. Sponsored by the American Library Association, American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Society of Journlists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores. I use the ALA's web pages as my starting point for reading about Banned and Challenged books.

I'm proud to say that I have read many of the books on the list of the 100 most frequently challenged book. Some of them, I'd actually be careful about giving to young people to read, but I don't believe that any books should be unavailable to a mature reader.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Mercy by Julie Garwood

Mercy OK, so I saw this book at the library, recognized the author, read the blurb on the jacket, checked it out, and put it on my "to be read" shelf. Then, when I was packing books for our move, I noted that a book named Mercy which I had already read was in the stack. At first, I thought I had already read the library book, but after a closer look, I realized that two of the authors I enjoy reading had written books with the same title. The other one was Mercy by Jodi Picault.

Garwood's novel was a nicely balanced combination of murder mystery and pot-boiling romance. The characters were quite likeable, and the good guys won out in the end. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre. One comment: I'm beginning to find it frustrating to keep reading about people who have lots of money and can just take off from their day-to-day life to pursue an interest. Can't an author come up with plots about middle-class people?

Books read for the 50 Book Challenge: 12
Books read in 2004: 106

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

105th book read this year

The Diary of Mattie Spenser Last night, I read the final chapter in The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas. I discovered this author around 7-8 years ago when her novel, The Persian Pickle Club, was recommended by the proprietor of The Mystery Bookstore in Dallas. I had tried to read Alice's Tulips, but just could not get involved in the story.

In this book, Sandra Dallas has written a delightful historical novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it for the plot, the characters, and the wise observations about the role diaries play in the lives of women. Consider these quotes on the value of keeping a diary or journal:

"I think a journal causes one to reexamine the events of one's life and find ways to improve oneself."

"As I have not met a woman who could be my dearest friend ... this book serves as a silent companion, a witness to my joys and sorrows and confessions. It helps to confide to my journal the things I can confide to no one."

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Bishop Goes to The University

The Bishop Goes to The University The Bishop Goes to The University is the fourteen novel *starring* Blackie Ryan, auxiliary Bishop, assistant to Cardinal Cronin, and rector of the Catholic Cathedral of Chicago. In addition to the series where he is the primary character, Greeley has him appear in several other books set in Chicago. Andrew Greeley has created Bishop Blackie with a mix of Irish wit and keen investigative skills and then sends him off to solve problems for his boss - most of which involve a murder. This book was not as good as others in the series, but it was still an enjoyable read.

Books read for the 50 Book Challenge: 10
Books read in 2004: 104

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Angelica and The Time Traveler's Wife

Angelica by Sharon Shinn is the fourth book in her Samaria series. This science fiction series postulates a world where there are two species of humans -- Angels have wings and Mortals don't. The entire population follows the dictates of Jovah, the god who brought them to this world. I am totally entranced by the world she has created and look forward to reading the next book in the series. Although the story itself came to a satisfactory conclusion, I was left wanting to know more about the characters themselves. What happens next?

The title of this book, The Time Traveler's Wife, would lead you to believe that this is a science fiction book. But you really can't classify it in the SF genre. Rather, it's a dynamic contemporary novel and love story which truly fits the description of "a love that transcends time". Audrey Niffenegger has written a engaging debut novel. I hope she chooses to write more.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Everyone Dies and Eleventh Hour

Flying on business trips gives me a lot of time to read, and this one-day trip to Boston allowed me to finish two mystery novels. I read most of the way to Boston yesterday and by the time I went to bed, I had only a couple of chapters left in Everyone Dies by Michael McGarrity. I finished this book around 10:00 this morning, noting that it is the 100th book I have read this year. On the return trip this evening, I read Eleventh Hour by Catherine Coulter, finishing it about 20 minutes after I got home.

Both books were good reads, each part of a series that I have been following for some time. I can heartily recommend these books along with their predecessors. I think that I have one more book in each series to have read everything currently published.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I've read several books by Jodi Picoult and enjoyed each of them. This book, however, was extremely intense. So much so that I found it difficult to put the book down. I'll be posting this book to the 50 Book Challenge web site shortly, and have logged it in my paper journal.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Shepherds Abiding

Shepherds Abiding by Jan KaronShepherds Abiding by Jan Karon

I have enjoyed the other 6 or 7 books in this series and was pleased to find this one on the shelf at my local library. As you might deduce from the title and the image of the book cover, this is a holiday story featuring Father Tim and Cynthia, along with all the other residents of Mitford. I really enjoyed this book, but I kept anticipating that someone was going to die. I don't know why, other than the fact that so many of the characters are getting to be fairly old. After all, Father Tim is 69 and the bishop is turning 72 in the Spring.

I logged this book on the 50 Book Challenge site where I reported it as the 98th book I've read this year and the 4th read for the challenge.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Reading in 2004, part 2

Books read in 1Q

Hemlock Bay

Hemlock Bay by Catherine Coulter is the sixth in Coulter's "FBI Thriller" series. Having discovered the author and series, I am actively reading through the whole series.

While other books in the series have been quite steamy romances along with the thriller/mystery plot line, this one just hinted at a forming romance. One neat thing about this book were the two parallel plots, but I felt that one plot wasn't as well developed. I'd like to hear more about the paranormal phenomena exhibited by the bad gal, Tammy Tuttle.


97 books read this year

3 books completed for the 50 Book Challenge