Wednesday, December 31, 2008

White Oleander

Title: White Oleander

Author: Janet Fitch

Pages: 446

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 3/5

"Oleander time," she said. "Lovers who kill each other now will blame it on the wind."

Ingird Magnussen is sent to prison for murder and has left behind her daughter, Astrid to be sent into foster care. The story tells of the different foster homes Astrid finds herself in. The different worlds, the different rules, and different lessons.

Throughout the book and through the different families Astird belongs to, one thing is constant. Leaving. While reading this novel, I really felt for Astrid and the absence of love that she so desperately craved. She experienced so many different types of pain and hell. She often felt disconnected with society.

" To them, pain was a country they had heard of, maybe watched a show about on TV, but one whose stamp had not yet been made in their passports. where could I find a place where my world connected to theirs?"

The message I think the author is trying to convey in this novel is that we all live completely different worlds. Different struggles, different wars, even different joys. What a better way to convey that than someone in foster care. I think that the author was successful in portraying this message. The only thing I would have liked to see a little different, is that not every home is hell. Not every family is so destructive. There is goodness out there and that was never shown in the story. It was quite jaded in that way.

At the end of the book after all Astrid has gone through, she still yearns for a life with her mother. It is a great story with great character development with both Astrid and Ingrid. There is a great ending to a great story, and one that will leave me thinking differently about those around me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A-Z Challenge

The last challenge I am going to embark upon in 2009 is the A-Z Challenge. There are a couple of different angles you can choose from. The one that I am choosing is every letter of the alphabet read a novel that is set in the corresponding country. For a list of official rules and to sign up, click here. Here is my list:

A- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseinni setting in Afghanistan

B- Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage setting in Brazil

C- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See setting in China

D- In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez setting in Dominican Republic

E-Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy set in England

F- The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickenson setting in Freeville, NY

G- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak setting in Germany

H- Tai-Pan by James Clavell setting in Hong Kong

I- The Four Seasons by Laurel Corona setting in Italy

J- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson setting in Japan

K- War and Revenge by Tim Judah setting in Kosovo

L- The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb setting in Littleton, CO

M- Mexico by James A. Mechener setting in Mexico

N- The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life throughout the Pages of a Lost Journal by Lily Koppel setting in New York

O-Life of Pi by Yann Martel setting in the Ocean

P- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson setting in Pakistan

Q- Dead Cold by Louise Penny setting in Quebec, Canada

R- Hunger by Elise Blackwell setting in Russia

S- The Heteric's Daughter by Kathleen Kent setting in Salem, Massachusetts

T- Kingdom of Make Believe by Dean Barrett setting in Thailand

U- Charolette's Rose by A. E. Cannon setting in Utah

V- The Piano Teacher by Elfreide Jelinke setting in Vienna, Austria

W- Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah setting in Washington


Y- Motoring with Mohammad by Eric Hansen setting in Yemen

Z- Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire author from Zimbabwe

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Reading Challenge

MY Two Blessings is hosting the Winter Reading Challenge. The challenge starts today and goes through March 20, 2009. The rules are simple. Any number of books, any type of book, and the books can crossover to any other challenge. I love these types of challenges because I can read whatever, and my mind changes as time goes on. Follow the link here to find the official sign up.
Here is the list of my books:
2- A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
3- 31 Songs by Nick Hornby
4- We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
8- Austenland by Shannon Hale
9- White Oleander by Janet Fitch (part of another challenge too)
That is nine books in 13 weeks. That means I have to read one book every 1.4 weeks. Shouldn't be too hard.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I've gone to the Dark Side

I don't usually like these things, but I saw this one floating around and decided to go for it!

The things I have done are in BOLD.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo( trust me it was not a pretty sight, I can't sing!)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania)
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Have enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. started my own business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (my favorite is at night)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for cooking
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100+ Reading Challenge

This challenge should be easy enough. All you have to do is read 100 books in 2009. I will be adding to my list as I go. For a list of the official rules link here. As I read, I will be linking up the titles and reviews here. Happy Reading!!

1- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
8- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
9- Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
10- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
11- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
12- Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
13- Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
14- Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Friday, December 5, 2008

Where the Heart Is

Title: Where the Heart Is
Author: Billie Letts
Pages: 358
Genre: Fiction/Drama
Rating: 5/5
"Novalee Nation, seventeen, seven months pregnant, thirty-seven pounds overweight- and superstitious about sevens- shifted uncomfortably in the seat of the old Plymouth and ran her hands down the curve of her belly."
Novalee and her boyfriend Willy Jack are leaving Tennessee and moving to California with possibilities. Willy Jack to make money and Novalee to live by the ocean with her house facing the water. The two have very different ideas about what is ahead of them.
Novalee needs to stop for a potty break and to get herself some new shoes because she lost hers through the floor board of their beat-up car. They pull off in a small town in Oklahoma at a Wal-Mart. While Novalee is inside, Willy Jack takes off with out her, not wanting to be bothered by her or the baby anymore.
Scared and uncertain, Novalee has no choice but to live in the Wal-Mart until she delivers her baby. During this time, she meets some people that become her family, and later will shape who she becomes.
This is her story about finding the true meaning of the word home.
I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. I have seen and loved the movie, and have always wanted to pick this book up and read it but until recently, I just never have.
The book is so different from the movie, and in a way, I am glad. I felt as though I was reading a story that I knew nothing about. The movie left so many things out.
There is always a point in the book that you say to yourself "Oh that is where the title comes from". This happened twice to me. The first time when Novalee is telling Willy Jack to feel her tummy.
"Can't you feel that little bomp... bomp... bomp?.......That is where the Heart is."
The second is a little more hidden. Home is where the heart is. The books theme is about Home. It is fascinating that the author keeps reiterating that conversation Novalee and Willy Jack have about that bomp, bomp, bomp being the heart. That and the true meaning of home. I wonder if that was intended or if I am feeling extra sentimental. Maybe I am not making sense...
Needless to say, I loved the book, rated it 5/5, will reread it and would recommend this book to everyone. You can't help but feel good about the story. I loved the characters, the circumstances that help Novalee find herself, and just the overall feeling.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fall Into Reading Challenge Finished

YEAH!!! This is my very first reading challenge that I have finished. I am really excited about it and proud of myself. It was a really small one. I read only five books for the challenge, and I could read any book that I wanted to so it was not really a challenge so much as an organized read for fun. The books that I read were:

1-Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

2-The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

3-Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson

4- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

5- A Ticket to Ride by Paula McLain

It is hard to say what my favorite book from this challenge was. I loved them all for different reasons. Being forced to choose, (forced by myself) I would say that A Ticket to Ride would top the list. There was a great story behind the book and I really loved the characters and was able to relate in different ways with all of them. Here is to many more challenges in the future and to millions of words to be consumed by my brain!

Happy Reading!!

The Lovely Bones

Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Pages: 328
Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Horror
Rating: 4.5/5
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Suzie."
The book begins by describing this horrible crime of rape and murder. The victim: Suzie Salmon. She was murdered by her neighbor at 14 years old, in a cornfield near her home. She tells the story of what she is seeing from her Heaven. The lives that move on, the ones she chooses to stay with, and the new lives she meets in Heaven.
I really feel at a loss about what to say about the book. The characters were so real to me, that the book had this very eerie sense about it. I was struggling on whether I should even finish the book because I just felt so disturbed by this man that murdered this girl and affected her family in the way that he did, it just felt so real to me, and yet I found that I just could not put the book down. By the end of the story, I felt satisfied but with a sense of melancholy behind it. I have never had a book affect me the way that this one did. I really did like the book a lot but I think it is one that I will keep in the back of the pile, and not pick it up again for a really long time if ever again. I think the story resembles the movie Ghost. Anyone agree?