Thursday, September 30, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Series

Haven't even had breakfast yet, and here I am flunking my popular culture exam.

This week, BTT asks: "If you read series, do you ever find a series “jumping the shark?” How do you feel about that? And, do you keep reading anyway?"

Must admit I'd never heard the phrase "jump the shark" (sorry, Jennifer) - or if I had, I immediately forgot all about it. Had to resort to that fountain of all pop culture knowledge, Wikipedia, to figure out exactly what all this shark jumping is about.

And after my research, I think I can say that yes, it's happened to me. I guess most series eventually hit a stumbling block. And I do read a lot of different series (see my list), so sooner or later I'm almost certain to find a book that disappoints. In fact, it happened to me just this year with one of the books in Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby series. I've enjoyed a couple of the early books in the series, but when I tried a more recent title (A Ghost in the Machine), I found I just really couldn't get into it, so I put it aside.

Do I keep reading? Yes, if it's just one disappointing book. More than one, well that would be more problematic. Two clinkers in a row might put me off a series, but fortunately I don't think I've had that experience yet.

Free shark clip art image from Kidzone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Catcher in the Rye

This week I'm taking my teaser lines from a book that I'm not actually reading at the moment, although I've read it several times in the past. Since this is Banned Books Week, I thought I'd use a little snippet from one of the most frequently banned and challenged modern classics, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. The book has been a target ever since its publication in 1951, and it continues to stir up controversy in libraries and school districts all over the country.

This excerpt is from page 24, and has the book's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, thinking about his literary preferences (sorry - more than two lines again):
I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot.... What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.
No, it doesn't, does it? I remember that when I first read the book at about age sixteen or so (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I was pretty much in total agreement with Holden's thoughts, and really would have liked to call up J.D. Salinger and tell him how much I liked his book. Strange that someone with such reclusive tendencies could have written those lines, but I guess the younger Salinger might not have been such a hermit.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Not much to say here. I'm still reading the same books I was reading last week. (And Stephen King is still giving me nightmares.) Afraid I got sidetracked by some family history work last week and didn't get to spend quite as much time with my reading as I'd planned. Didn't finish any books or get any reviews written.

The only thing that's changed this week is that I'm going to try to blast through George Orwell's Animal Farm, in honor of Banned Books Week. Don't know how I've managed to avoid the book all these years, especially as most baby boomers read it in high school back in the day. So I'm adding that to the list from last week. Should be a quick read (I hope).

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. If you want to let the world know what books you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Current Reading

I love easy questions. This week Deb at BTT asks: "What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it?"

As usual for me, I've got several books going at the moment. So I'll just do a little list.

  • The Dark Half. Stephen King
    Reading for the RIP V Challenge. I chose it because it's perfect for the challenge, and it's been a long time since I've read anything by Stephen King. Also because I recently saw the movie made from the book, and wanted to see how similar they were. I'm only about halfway through it, and I'm enjoying it, with reservations. King can be a mesmerizing story-teller, but some of the book is a little intense even for someone like me who loves thrillers and scary tales. I actually had nightmares last night, after reading the book at bedtime. So I'd recommend it, but it should probably come with a warning label attached.

  • Cards on the Table. Agatha Christie
    Also reading for the RIP V Challenge. Also chosen because it's been quite a while since I read anything by the author (who is one of my favorites). I wanted to read something by Christie for RIP/V, and I chose this one because it features (in addition to its star, Hercule Poirot) Mrs. Ariadne Oliver (my favorite Christie character). I'm planning to read (or reread) all the novels with Ariadne appearing in them, and I believe this was the first. I'm enjoying it enormously and I probably would have finished it long ago if I hadn't been seduced by Stephen King. And of course I'd recommend it. How can you go wrong with Agatha Christie?

  • The House Next Door. Anne Rivers Siddons
    And one more for the RIP V (I love this reading challenge). Also a book chosen because I had seen the movie recently and even though it wasn't great, the story seemed very intriguing. And I had never read anything by Siddons, so I thought this might be a good time to try one of her books (although this one is very different from her usual output). I've only read a couple of chapters, but I'm enjoying it so far. But I'll have to wait until I'm done with it to know if I'd recommend it.

  • Juliet. Anne Fortier
    This is an advance copy, which I actually received before the book was released. I think it's been out for a couple of months now, so I've sort of missed the boat on this one. It hasn't dazzled me as much as I was expecting it to, but I'm enjoying it enough to keep going. It's a bit of a chunkster, though; so it might take me a while to finish. Again, I'll wait until I'm a little further along before I do any recommending.

And that's it. Now, what are you reading? Anything to recommend? I'm always looking for books to add to my already enormous TBR list, so feel free to tell me about your current reads in a comment. Or head on over to Booking Through Thursday and join in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010

It's that time of year again. School is back in session. Leaves are starting to change color and drift toward the pavement. New TV shows are already being canceled. Footballs are flying all over the place. It must be fall! Time for one of my favorite seasonal events - the Fall Into Reading Challenge, hosted annually by Katrina at Callapidder Days.

Fall Into Reading 2010 runs from today through December 20th, and it's a very low-pressure challenge, with almost no rules (but you can read all about that on the challenge page here). And it's a wonderful way to help reduce the size of that frighteningly enormous TBR pile.

My reading list is definitely subject to change and unrealistically long, but these are some of the books I'm thinking of reading this fall:
Afternoon Men. Anthony Powell
Alice I Have Been. Melanie Benjamin
Animal Farm. George Orwell
Bad Boy. Peter Robinson
Cards on the Table. Agatha Christie (reading now)
The Dark Half. Stephen King (reading now)
Dead Man's Folly. Agatha Christie
The House Next Door. Anne Rivers Siddons
The House on Tradd Street. Karen White
I Am Madame X. Gioia Diliberto
Juliet. Anne Fortier (reading now)
Moonlight Mile. Dennis Lehane
Mr. Murder. Dean Koontz
Mrs. McGinty's Dead. Agatha Christie
The Prince of Mist. Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Relic. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Room. Emma Donoghue
The Sign of the Book. John Dunning
Spider Web. Penelope Lively
A Stir of Echoes. Richard Matheson
The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise. Julia Stuart
We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson
The Women. T.C. Boyle
One of the Mrs. Murphy mysteries by Rita Mae Brown
Something by Nina Bawden
Something by Muriel Spark
So, that's the tentative book list. There is, of course, no way I could get through all those titles in the next three months. But whatever develops, I'll be updating my progress on my challenge blog during the run of the challenge.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Dark Half

This week my teaser lines come from The Dark Half, Stephen King's nightmarish thriller from 1989 (very appropriate, it happens, as today is Mr. King's birthday). I'm only a few chapters into this one, but so far I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would. It's been a long time since I read anything by King and I had forgotten how expertly he can draw you into his ghastly tales. These lines come from page 49 where Sheriff Alan Pangborn is thinking about the various kinds of crime he's seen in his little town of Castle Rock:
Small-town murder in real life, he had found, rarely bore any likeness to the small-town murders in Agatha Christie novels, where seven people all took a turn at stabbing wicked old Colonel Storping-Goiter at his country house in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh during a moody winter storm.... As a rule, small-town murder in real life was simple, brutal, and stupid.
This snippet caught my eye because at the moment, in addition to the King book, I'm also reading Agatha Christie's Cards on the Table, featuring Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot. Christie and King are two crime writers who could not be more different, of course. And I have to admit, although they each have their attractions, Dame Agatha seems to be more my speed (or make that my cup of Earl Grey).

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well, I think I'm getting back into the reading groove again, even though I only finished one book last week. Of course, I had a birthday last week too, and birthdays always slow me down (all that hand-wringing, hair-pulling, and searching for new wrinkles takes an enormous amount of time and energy) - so I'm still not performing at top efficiency. But the change of seasons is usually good inspiration for reading, and I'm hoping to do a little better in the coming weeks.

Or not. We'll see. Anyway, here's how things stand right now:
  • Last week -

    Read The Convent, by Panos Karnezis. This was an Early Reviewer book from Library Thing, and I've put up a short review over there. I'll be putting it on my blog a little closer to its release date (in the US) in November.

  • This week -

    I've got several books going right now: The Dark Half by Stephen King, and Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie (both for the RIP/V Challenge); also still reading Juliet by Anne Fortier. I just might be able to finish all those in a week's time, if I really make myself behave.

  • In the wings -

    Several ARCs I need to get to, including the 30th Anniversary edition of The Tree by John Fowles, and Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane. And, of course, lots of reviews to catch up on - I've been really bad about that lately. Must mend my ways.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. If you want to let the world know what books you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Day and Night

This week's BTT question is about timing: "Do you divide your books into day and night reads? How do you decide?"

Had to stop and think about this one for a while, but I don't think I do divide my reading up by different times of day (or night). At least not consciously. I generally have two or three books going at the same time, and read one or the other as the mood strikes me. But I usually do most of my reading in the evening and at bedtime, so I guess most of my reads are night reads.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Cards on the Table

This week I'm taking my teaser lines from Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie. It's a Hercule Poirot mystery, and it also features his friend and occasional assistant sleuth, Ariadne Oliver. Mrs. Oliver is a writer of detective stories who was a sort of alter ego for Christie, and she's always been my favorite of Dame Agatha's characters. In this snippet (more than two lines, but they're good ones), Mrs. Oliver is explaining about her story-telling methods and how real-life crime differs from that depicted in her novels:
"What really matters is plenty of bodies! If the thing's getting a little dull, some more blood cheers it up. Somebody is going to tell something – and then they're killed first! That always goes down well. It comes in all my books – camouflaged different ways of course." (p.51)
Well, I'm only a few pages into this one and so far there's only been one murder. And things never really get dull in an Agatha Christie novel. But I'm sure the bodies will start piling up eventually.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Monday! What Am I Doing?

Do you hear that? That tapping? No, it's more like a rattle. Something shaking or quivering and making a tap-tap-tap-tap-tap sound. Every time I make a move. It's driving me nuts. But I can't figure out where it's coming from. Just a second while I change chairs.

OK. Starting over. Now then, what's been going on? Well, we got the bedroom rearranged. Got a lot of stuff stored. Got rid of a lot of junk. Got my work area out of the bedroom and into the study.... I know that's not what you want to hear about, but that is why I haven't been getting much reading done so far in September. Well, that and all that U.S. Open tennis I've been watching. But that's all behind me now and it's back to the books – or, as George Costanza would say, I'm back, baby, I'm back!

So, here's how things stack up:
  • Last couple of weeks -

    Finished All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang (should have a review up shortly)

    Finished The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien (ditto on the review)

  • This week -

    Reading Anne Fortier's Juliet which I started last month.

  • In the wings -

    Too much to choose from, as usual. But I'm thinking it'll probably be something for the RIP/V Challenge, so some of the possibilities are Stephen King's The Dark Half which I got from the library last week, or Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which has been on my TBR list for decades now (I'm determined to get it read this year). Or maybe something by Agatha Christie – haven't read anything by Dame Agatha in several years, and I've got a sudden hankering for some nice cozy Marple or Poirot.

So that's my reading life at the moment. Now if I can just figure out where that tapping is coming from (it obviously wasn't the chair) – I'll be able to get back to it.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. If you want to let the world know what books you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Disaster!

This week's BTT question: You’ve just dropped your favorite, out-of-print book into a bathtub, ruining it completely … What do you do now?

If I lost a favorite book to some disaster (watery or otherwise), I would first of all probably swear a lot. Then I'd be very depressed – maybe even shed a few tears. Then I'd start looking online for a replacement – ABE Books, Amazon, eBay – all the usual places. I might also check the used-book stores in this area, although there aren't many of those left.

But I take showers, so I would never be presented with the problem of books dropped in the bath.

And if I did take baths, my favorite out-of-print book would never come near the water.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday: A Nose for Justice

This is my first time joining in on "Waiting On" Wednesday. Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, WOW is a weekly meme that "spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

And the book I'm eagerly anticipating is:

A Nose for Justice
By Rita Mae Brown
Publication Date: 21 September 2010

Product Description (from
Explosive sabotage and the startling unearthing of a hundred-year-old skeleton on a Nevada ranch thrillingly start off this debut novel in a tail-wagging new series from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.

With the ruins of her high-powered Wall Street job now far in the rearview mirror of her rented silver Camaro, thirty-two-year-old Mags Rogers arrives at her great-aunt Jeep’s sprawling Wings Ranch to reassemble her life. In the passenger seat, with his suspicious nose to a cracked window, is Mags’s beloved wirehaired dachshund, the urbane Baxter.

Mags was named for her great-aunt, Magdalena—though everyone calls the spry octogenarian rancher Jeep. From piloting planes in World War II to discovering one of America’s largest gold deposits, Jeep has enjoyed a lifetime jam-packed with love and adventure, and she’s not done yet. At her side—to Baxter’s low-down distress—is Jeep’s loyal German Shepherd mix, King. The growlings are mutual: King sniffs that Baxter is a “fuzzy sausage.”

Meanwhile, someone pipe-bombs Red Rock Valley’s pumping station, endangering the water supply near and far. Deputy Pete Meadows links the sabotage to a string of local murders, but he doesn’t yet know if it’s a corporate plot or twisted eco-terrorism. He’s also called out to Wings Ranch when human bones are dug up in Jeep’s barn; the dead man’s ring identifies him as an elite Russian military officer from the late 1800s, apparently knifed to death. In her search to find out whodunit, Mags uncovers fascinating history about Jeep’s ranch, including an intriguing connection to Buffalo Bill.

Mags and Pete have mysteries to solve, among them why they are so drawn to each other. Baxter and King team up when it comes time to protect their humans. And all the while, Jeep Reed, the sassiest wit in the West, has a bold plan for Red Rock Valley in which they all will play a part.
I love the Mrs. Murphy mysteries Rita Mae Brown writes (with the aid of Sneaky Pie Brown, her pet tabby cat). So this new series is something I'm really looking forward to, even if it does take the spotlight off those clever kitties.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Random Notes: Awards and Prizes

Saw a notice in this morning's Shelf Awareness newsletter – this year's Man Booker Short List has been issued:
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey (Knopf)
Room by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown)
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut (Atlantic Books)
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury UK)
The Long Song by Andrea Levy (FSG)
C by Tom McCarthy (Knopf)
I'm not sure how many of those have been released here in the US. The news caught my attention because I just received a copy of Room, which I haven't started yet (but it sounds really intriguing). The winner will be announced October 12. You can read more about the list here.

And the Hugo Award winners for this year have been announced. I don't read as much sci-fi as I once did, but I still like to keep up with the major publications in the genre. This year there was a tie for the Best Novel award, between The City & The City by China Miéville and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.

The award for Best Novella went to "Palimpsest" by Charles Stross; "The Island" by Peter Watts won the award for Best Novelette; and the Best Short Story award went to "Bridesicle" by Will McIntosh. Read about the rest of the winners and the Hugo Awards in general here.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Inheritance

My teaser lines this week are from The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien (grandson of JRR). It's a mystery novel and I'm enjoying it a lot so far, even though most of it is much less other-worldly than this passage (more than two lines, but I couldn't decide what to cut):
It was the house that was the problem. . . . The house seemed to be watching him. In defiance he had started taking pictures of it, concentrating particularly on the shadowy times of day – just before dusk and after the dawn – and had then found himself examining his prints for apparitions. (p. 44)
Have you ever taken a photo and then found something (or someone) in it you didn't expect to see? I have, although in my case it's not usually anything ghostly – more in the UFO category.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Film to Paper?

This week's Booking Through Thursday topic is about movies made from books: Even though it’s usually a mistake (grin) … do movies made out of books make you want to read the original?

To start with, I should say that, ideally, I prefer to read the book first, and then see the film. But since conditions are very rarely ideal, I do usually end up seeing the film adaptations before I read the book (or, even more frequently, instead of reading the book).

Sometimes seeing the movie first will do just the opposite – convince me that the book really isn't something I want to spend any time on. I suppose that's unfair – most film adaptations leave much or most of the original book far behind. But the movies do sometimes have that effect.

This is an interesting question for me because I've been thinking a lot about books-into-movies this week, since seeing the DVD of Roman Polanski's latest film, The Ghost Writer. It's really a great work that didn't get enough attention because of the unfortunate personal drama that was swirling around Polanski at the time he was making it. It's an adaptation of Robert Harris' political thriller, The Ghost, and Polanski worked closely with Harris on the screenplay. And after seeing the film and a short documentary about the making of the film, now I really want to read the novel. (Polanski's film The Ninth Gate, an adaptation of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel The Club Dumas had that same effect – for which I'll be forever grateful.)

So I guess my answer to the question would be: sometimes but not always. Which seems to be my answer to most of these BTT questions. Well, decisiveness is so over-rated, don't you think?

And what about you? Do movies ever influence your reading? (Please feel free to leave me a link to your BTT post in a comment here.)