Friday, April 30, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic is The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) by Carson McCullers.

When she was only 23, Carson McCullers's first novel created a literary sensation. She was very special, one of America's superlative writers who conjures up a vision of existence as terrible as it is real, who takes us on shattering voyages into the depths of the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition. This novel is the work of a supreme artist, Carson McCullers's enduring masterpiece.

The heroine is the strange young girl, Mick Kelly. The setting is a small Southern town, the cosmos universal and eternal. The characters are the damned, the voiceless, the rejected. Some fight their loneliness with violence and depravity, some with sex or drink, and some -- like Mick -- with a quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.

Time included the novel in its 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

If you've read it, take a quiz to test your memory.

Have you read it (or seen the 1968 movie with Alan Arkin)?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

What character(s) would you love to read about in a sequel?

I would love it if we got to learn more about Jacob from Water for Elephants. What happens to him when he runs away with the circus for the second time?

I can't wait to see the movie adaptation when it comes out. Filming starts next month! Reese Witherspoon is playing Marlena and Robert Pattinson is playing young Jacob.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Introducing a fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice, an inspiring debut about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures. When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

I love books about the immigrant's going on my to-buy list right now! It comes out May 3rd.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays (started on Should Be Reading) asks you to:

Grab your current read (or a book on your shelf that you've read or been wanting to read). Let the book fall open to a random page. Share two (or a few) teaser sentences from that page. Don't forget to share the title and author of the book in case someone is teased into reading. Please avoid spoilers!

I've posted my teaser below. Post yours in the comment section if you'd like to share as well!

Disturbed by the crowd, a wharf rat scrambled out of its hiding place. A barn owl that had been perched on a high rafter swooped down after the rat, flying just over the heads of the penitents and causing one of the women to swoon and drop to her knees, sobbing and swearing that she had just seen the Holy Spirit.

from The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Monday, April 26, 2010

Movie Mondays

The Prince of Tides

Book, 1986 by Pat Conroy

In his most brilliant and powerful novel, Pat Conroy tells the story of Tom Wingo, his twin sister, Savannah, and the dark and violent past of the family into which they were born. Set in New York City and the lowcountry of South Carolina, the novel opens when Tom, a high school football coach whose marriage and career are crumbling, flies from South Carolina to New York after learning of his twin sister's suicide attempt. Savannah is one of the most gifted poets of her generation, and both the cadenced beauty of her art and the jumbled cries of her illness are clues to the too-long-hidden story of her wounded family. In the paneled offices and luxurious restaurants of New York City, Tom and Susan Lowenstein, Savannah's psychiatrist, unravel a history of violence, abandonment, commitment, and love. And Tom realizes that trying to save his sister is perhaps his last chance to save himself. With passion and a rare gift of language, the author moves from present to past, tracing the amazing history of the Wingos from World War II through the final days of the war in Vietnam and into the 1980s, drawing a rich range of characters: the lovable, crazy Mr. Fruit, who for decades has wordlessly directed traffic at the same intersection in the southern town of Colleton; Reese Newbury, the ruthless, patrician land speculator who threatens the Wingos' only secure worldly possession, Melrose Island; Herbert Woodruff, Susan Lowenstein's husband, a world-famous violinist; Tolitha Wingo, Savannah's mentor and eccentric grandmother, the first real feminist in the Wingo family. Pat Conroy reveals the lives of his characters with surpassing depth and power, capturing the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina lowcountry and a lost way of life. His lyric gifts, abundant good humor, and compelling storytelling are well known to readers of The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline. The Prince of Tides continues that tradition yet displays a new, mature voice of Pat Conroy, signaling this work as his greatest accomplishment.

Movie, 1991 directed by Barbra Streisand

Features: Barbra Streisand, Nick Nolte

Tagline: A story about the memories that haunt us, and the truth that sets us free.

Awards: Nominated for 7 Oscars but won none (lost Best Picture to The Silence of the Lambs)

The movie was a success at the box office but many Conroy fans were unhappy with the many differences between the book and the movie.

Did you read or see The Prince of Tides?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Group Picture-The Condition

We had very different opinions on this book...overall we gave it 3 hearts (range 0-5!). Thanks, Mary (and Robin)!

Meeting Today & Member Profile-Mary

We're meeting today @ Mary's house @ 2pm to discuss The Condition!

About our host this month...

What is your favorite book? IT or A Tree Grows In Brooklyn or the Twlight Series

Who is your favorite author? Stephen King

What is your favorite type of book to read? Thriller

Who is your most loved fictional character? Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn or Edward from Twlight

If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be? The Shack or IT or The Kite Runner or A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

What is the most difficult book you've ever read? The Time Travelers Wife-and I couldn’t finish it.

What's the last book you read? She Got Up Off the Couch

How many books do you own? 100’s

Paperbacks or hardbacks? Paperbacks for sure, I like the way they bend.

Has any book changed your life? The Shack or The Kite Runner

Sunday Survey

What's your final rating for The Condition?

5=I loved it!
4=I really liked it.
3=I liked it.
2=It was just okay.
1=I didn't like it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Muriel Barbery.

1. She was born May 28, 1969 in Casablanca, Morocco.
2. She earned her philosophy degree from the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud.
3. She has taught philosophy at the Université de Bourgogne and at the Saint-Lô IUFM.
4. She has written 2 novels: L'Élégance du hérisson (translated into English as The Elegance of the Hedgehog) and Une Gourmandise (translated into English as Gourmet Rhapsody).

5. She now lives in Japan and is working on her third book.

Have you read either one of her books?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic is Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne.

The intrepid Professor Lindenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth's very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet's primordial secrets, the geologist - together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans - discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne's imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

You can read this classic online for free at The Literature Network.

Did you know there was a movie adaptation (sort of a current day sequel or follow-up) released in 2008 starring Brendan Fraser?

Have you read Journey to the Centre of the Earth or anything else by Jules Verne?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

What book is on your nightstand right now?

I have quite a few on mine (mostly from my 100 books list), but at the top of the pile right now is Three Junes by Julia Glass. It's on my 100 books list of prize winners because it won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2002.

An astonishing first novel that traces the lives of a Scottish family over a decade as they confront the joys and longings, fulfillments and betrayals of love in all its guises.

In June of 1989 Paul McLeod, a newspaper publisher and recent widower, travels to Greece, where he falls for a young American artist and reflects on the complicated truth about his marriage. . ..Six years later, again in June, Paul’s death draws his three grown sons and their families back to their ancestral home. Fenno, the eldest, a wry, introspective gay man, narrates the events of this unforeseen reunion. Far from his straitlaced expatriate life as a bookseller in Greenwich Village, Fenno is stunned by a series of revelations that threaten his carefully crafted defenses. . .. Four years farther on, in yet another June, a chance meeting on the Long Island shore brings Fenno together with Fern Olitsky, the artist who once captivated his father. Now pregnant, Fern must weigh her guilt about the past against her wishes for the future and decide what family means to her. In prose rich with compassion and wit, Three Junes paints a haunting portrait of love’s redemptive powers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson

In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped the powerful news photo of an exhausted handler and his search-and-rescue dog. A dog-lover and pilot with search experience herself, Charleson was so impressed by the extraordinarily important work these dogs did that she decided to volunteer.

Once Susannah qualified to train a dog of her own, she got Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever. From the start Puzzle exhibited a unique aptitude for search-and-rescue work, but the puppy’s willfulness challenged even Susannah, who had raised dogs for years.

Scent of the Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle’s adventures and the complex relationship they forge as they help in the pursuit and recovery of people who have fallen prey to crime,misadventure, or catastrophe—a teen gone missing, an Alzheimer’s patient wandering in the cold, the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. From the earliest air-scent lessons to her final mastery of wholebody dialog, Puzzle emerges as a fully collaborative partner. Along the way Susannah and Puzzle learn to read the clues in the field, and in each other, to accomplish together the critical work neither could do alone.

I'm always a sucker for a book with a dog on the cover! I think this book would have fascinating stories. Maybe I'll order it for my Kindle.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays (started on Should Be Reading) asks you to:

Grab your current read (or a book on your shelf that you've read or been wanting to read). Let the book fall open to a random page. Share two (or a few) teaser sentences from that page. Don't forget to share the title and author of the book in case someone is teased into reading. Please avoid spoilers!

I've posted my teaser below. Post yours in the comment section if you'd like to share as well!

Oh, he could not believe his bravery; it drove him on and wouldn't heed the fear that called him back; he was brave despite himself. His finger moved down her nose.

from The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

The Inheritance of Loss is one of my three books for the Spring Challenge.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Movie Mondays

About a Boy

Book, 1998 by Nick Hornby

Will is thirty-six and doesn't really want children. Why does it bother people that he lives so happily alone in a fashionable, Lego-free flat, with massive speakers and a mammoth record collection, hardwood floors, and an expensive cream-colored rug that no kid has ever thrown up on? Then Will meets Angie. He's never been out with anyone who was a mom. And it has to be said that Angie's long blond hair and big blue eyes are not irrelevant to Will's reassessment of his attitude toward children. Then it dawns on Will that maybe Angie goes out with him because of the children. That maybe children democratize beautiful, single women. That single mothers -- bright, attractive, available women - were all over London ... Marcus is twelve and he knows he's weird. It was all his mother's fault, Marcus figured. She was the one who made him listen to Joni Mitchell instead of Nirvana, and read books instead of play on his Gameboy. Then Marcus meets Will. Will belongs to his mother's SPAT group (Single Parents, Alone Together), and Will is cool. Marcus needs someone who knows what kind of sneakers he should wear, and who Kurt Cobain is. And Marcus's mother needs a husband. They could all move in together! Marcus and his mother, Will and his son, Ned. Then Marcus follows Will home to his flat, where there are no toys or diapers, no second bedroom, even -- and certainly no Ned. This was valuable stuff. If Marcus went home and told his mother about this right away, that would be the end of it. But something tells Marcus that he should hang on to this information until he knows what it's worth.

Movie, 2002 directed by Chris & Paul Weitz

Features: Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult

Tagline: Growing up has nothing to do with age.

Awards: Nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

Have you read the book or seen the movie? Have you seen other Nick Hornby movie adaptations...High Fidelity or Fever Pitch?

I have seen all 3 of the movie adaptations but haven't read any of his books. I really liked About a Boy. It's worth seeing if you haven't already.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Survey

There's only one week left to finish The Condition!

5=I love it!
4=I really like it.
3=I like it.
2=It's just okay.
1=I don't like it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Kitty Kelley.

1. She was born born April 4, 1942 in Spokane, Washington.
2. She received a B.A. in English from the University of Washington.
3. She moved to Washington DC and became a freelance journalist.
4. Her first book, The Glamour Spas, was published in 1975.
5. She continued in investigative journalism and soon became the author of various best-selling unauthorized and controversial celebrity biographies.
6. Her first celebrity biography was Jackie Oh! (1978).

7. She then published The Last Star (1981) about Elizabeth Taylor.
8. She followed that one five years later with His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra.
9. In 1991 she published Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography.
10. In 1997 she published The Royals about the British Royal Family.
11. The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, was published in 2004.

12. Her latest unauthorized biography is Oprah Winfrey: A Biography.

Have you read any of her unauthorized biographies?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic is Middlemarch (1872) by George Eliot.

Dorothea Brooke can find no acceptable outlet for her talents or energy and few who share her ideals. As an upper middle-class woman in Victorian England she can't learn Greek or Latin simply for herself; she certainly can't become an architect or have a career; and thus, Dorothea finds herself "Saint Theresa of nothing." Believing she will be happy and fulfilled as "the lampholder" for his great scholarly work, she marries the self-centered intellectual Casaubon, twenty-seven years her senior. Dorothea is not the only character caught by the expectations of British society in this huge, sprawling book. Middlemarch stands above its large and varied fictional community, picking up and examining characters like a jeweler observing stones. There is Lydgate, a struggling young doctor in love with the beautiful but unsuitable Rosamond Vincy; Rosamond's gambling brother Fred and his love, the plain-speaking Mary Garth; Will Ladislaw, Casaubon's attractive cousin, and the ever-curious Mrs. Cadwallader. The characters mingle and interact, bowing and turning in an intricate dance of social expectations and desires. Through them George Eliot creates a full, textured picture of life in provincial nineteenth-century England.

Did you know? George Eliot is a pen name. The actual writer is Mary Anne Evans.

You can read Middlemarch for free at Read Print.

Have you read Middlemarch or anything else by George Eliot? Have you seen the TV mini-series adaptation (1994)?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

May Book Choices!

Here are the book choices for next for the one you think sounds the best!

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul, he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

Charley Benetto is a broken man, his life destroyed by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits rock bottom after discovering he won't be invited to his only daughter's wedding. And he decides to take his own life.

Charley takes a midnight ride to his small hometown: his final journey. But as he staggers into his old house, he makes an astonishing discovery. His mother - who died eight years earlier - is there, and welcomes Charley home as if nothing had ever happened.

What follows is the one seemingly ordinary day so many of us yearn for: a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family serets and to seek forgiveness.

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Will you do my eulogy? With those words, Mitch Albom begins his long-awaited return to non-fiction. His journey to honour the last request of a beloved clergyman ultimately leads him to rekindle his own long-ignored faith. Albom spends years exploring churches and synagogues, the suburbs and the city, the 'us' versus 'them' of religion. Slowly, he gravitates to an inner-city pastor of a crumbling church that houses the homeless, and is stunned at how similar belief can be. As his own beloved cleric slowly lets go, Albom writes his final farewell, having learned that a faithful heart comes in many forms and places.

Linda is hosting the May meeting!

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