Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

Do you want to join in 31 Shots of Shock for October?

See post below for details! The original idea is from Rob Around Books.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

31 Shots of Shock for October

Rob Around Books is hosting his 31 Shots of Shock for October again. It starts this Friday, October 1st. Do you want to participate? The idea is to "read one horror-themed short story every day throughout the month of October, during the lead up to Halloween." I think it sounds like fun. He has done it for the past couple of years and you can read the reviews of all the stories he has read.

I'm going to get my stories from Daily Lit in email installments. I'm ordering 30 Stories in 30 Days by contemporary American horror author David Wellington (it actually comes in 31 installments, so there will be something to read every day of the month). He writes about zombies, werewolves and vampires. If you don't think you'd like that sort of thing, you could also try Famous Modern Ghost Stories (113 installments but only 10 or so stories), or another option is to read Edgar Allen Poe's stories.

Do you want to join in?

Wednesday Wish List

Even Silence Has an End by Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt tells the story of her captivity in the Colombian jungle, sharing powerful teachings of resilience, resistance, and faith.

Born in Bogotá, raised in France, Ingrid Betancourt at the age of thirty-two gave up a life of comfort and safety to return to Colombia to become a political leader in a country that was being slowly destroyed by terrorism, violence, fear, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness. In 2002, while campaigning as a candidate in the Colombian presidential elections, she was abducted by the FARC. Nothing could have prepared her for what came next. She would spend the next six and a half years in the depths of the jungle as a prisoner of the FARC. Even Silence Has an End is her deeply personal and moving account of that time. Chained day and night for much of her captivity, she never stopped dreaming of escape and, in fact, succeeded in getting away several times, always to be recaptured. In her most successful effort she and a fellow captive survived a week away, but were caught when her companion became desperately ill; she learned later that they had been mere miles from freedom.

The facts of her story are astounding, but it is Betancourt's indomitable spirit that drives this very special account, bringing life, nuance, and profundity to the narrative. Attending as intimately to the landscape of her mind as she does to the events of her capture and captivity, Even Silence Has an End is a meditation on the very stuff of life-fear and freedom, hope and what inspires it. Betancourt tracks her metamorphosis, sharing how in the routines she established for herself-listening to her mother and two children broadcast to her over the radio, daily prayer-she was able to do the unthinkable: to move through the pain of the moment and find a place of serenity.

Freed in 2008 by the Colombian army, today Betancourt is determined to draw attention to the plight of hostages and victims of terrorism throughout the world and it is that passion that motivates Even Silence Has an End. The lessons she offers here-in courage, resilience, and humanity-are gifts to treasure.

There were others held captive over the same time period. Three Americans, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Tom Howes, and Colombian woman Clara Rojas were among them. They have also written books.

One of these might be a good one for book club next year.

Tuesday, September 28, 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!

When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble.

from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week...Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Did you know it's Banned Books Week? From the ALA:
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

See a list of the top 100 banned or challenged books of the last decade. Harry Potter (series) is #1.

I'm going to read at least one of the books on the recently challenged list this month. Maybe The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most challenged classic books. Can you imagine not being able to read it?!

Movie Mondays

The Informant

Book, 2000 by Kurt Eichenwald

It was one of the FBI's biggest secrets: a senior executive with America's most politically powerful corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, had become a confidential government witness, secretly recording a vast criminal conspiracy spanning five continents. Mark Whitacre, the promising golden boy of ADM, had put his career and family at risk to wear a wire and deceive his friends and colleagues. Using Whitacre and a small team of agents to tap into the secrets at ADM, the FBI discovered the company's scheme to steal millions of dollars from its own customers.

But as the FBI and federal prosecutors closed in on ADM, using stakeouts, wiretaps, and secret recordings of illegal meetings around the world, they suddenly found that everything was not all that it appeared. At the same time Whitacre was cooperating with the Feds while playing the role of loyal company man, he had his own agenda he kept hidden from everyone around him—his wife, his lawyer, even the FBI agents who had come to trust him with the case they had put their careers on the line for. Whitacre became sucked into his own world of James Bond antics, imperiling the criminal case and creating a web of deceit that left the FBI and prosecutors uncertain where the lies stopped and the truth began.

In this gripping account unfolds one of the most captivating and bizarre tales in the history of the FBI and corporate America. Meticulously researched and richly told by New York Timessenior writer Kurt Eichenwald, The Informant re-creates the drama of the story, beginning with the secret recordings, stakeouts, and interviews with suspects and witnesses to the power struggles within ADM and its board—including the high-profile chairman Dwayne Andreas, F. Ross Johnson, and Brian Mulroney—to the big-gun Washington lawyers hired by ADM and on up through the ranks of the Justice Department to FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno.

A page-turning real-life thriller that features deadpan FBI agents, crooked executives, idealistic lawyers, and shady witnesses with an addiction to intrigue, The Informant tells an important and compelling story of power and betrayal in America.

Movie, 2009 directed by Steven Soderbergh

Features: Matt Damon, Tony Hale, Patton Oswalt

Tagline: Based on a tattle-tale.

Awards: Matt Damon was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Survey

Has anyone started reading Little Bird of Heaven?

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, September 25, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Kazuo Ishiguro.

He was born in Japan in 1954. He earned his BA in Engligh and Philosophy from the University of Kent. He later got his MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. He has written 6 novels as well as screenplays and other short fiction. He has won the Booker Prize once (1989, The Remains of the Day) and has been a finalist 3 other times.

His latest novel, Never Let Me Go, was recently adapted for film.

In addition to being an author, he is also a song writer. He is both a Japanese and British citizen and now lives in London.

Have you read any of his books?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The young Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from repeated nightmares of living a double life, in which by day he worked as a respectable doctor and by night he roamed the back alleys of old-town Edinburgh. In three days of furious writing, he produced a story about his dream existence. His wife found it too gruesome, so he promptly burned the manuscript. In another three days, he wrote it again. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published as a "shilling shocker" in 1886, and became an instant classic. In the first six months, 40,000 copies were sold. Queen Victoria read it. Sermons and editorials were written about it. When Stevenson and his family visited America a year later, they were mobbed by reporters at the dock in New York City. Compulsively readable from its opening pages, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is still one of the best tales ever written about the divided self.

Here's the beginning:
Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was
never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in
discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and
yet somehow lovable. At friendly meetings, and when the wine was
to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye;
something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but
which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner
face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life. He was
austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a
taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theater, had not
crossed the doors of one for twenty years. But he had an approved
tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at
the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in
any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. "I incline
to Cain's heresy," he used to say quaintly: "I let my brother go
to the devil in his own way." In this character, it was
frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and
the last good influence in the lives of downgoing men. And to
such as these, so long as they came about his chambers, he never
marked a shade of change in his demeanour.

You can read the whole story online for free at Read Print.

Have you read this classic?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

Have you finished any must-read memoirs lately? Are there any interesting ones on your to-read list?

It's actually been awhile since I've read a memoir. I came across one recently that I definitely want to read: Half a Life by Darin Strauss.

“Half my life ago, I killed a girl.”

So begins Darin Strauss’ Half a Life, the true story of how one outing in his father’s Oldsmobile resulted in the death of a classmate and the beginning of a different, darker life for the author. We follow Strauss as he explores his startling past—collision, funeral, the queasy drama of a high-stakes court case—and what starts as a personal tale of a tragic event opens into the story of how to live with a very hard fact: we can try our human best in the crucial moment, and it might not be good enough. Half a Life is a nakedly honest, ultimately hopeful examination of guilt, responsibility, and living with the past.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Challenge 2010

Today is the first day of fall! This season I thought it would be fun to read a series of books. I picked the Suzanne Collins trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay.

About the first book, The Hunger Games:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Suzanne talks about her clasical and contemporary inspiration for The Hunger Games:

Are you going to participate in the Fall Challenge?

These books are definitely different from what I usually read, but it is a challenge afterall! The challenge starts today and runs through December 20th.

Wednesday Wish List

The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant

An inspiring story of survival and our powerful bond with man's best friend, in the aftermath of the nation's most notorious case of animal cruelty.

Animal lovers and sports fans were shocked when the story broke about NFL player Michael Vick's brutal dog fighting operation. But what became of the dozens of dogs who survived? As acclaimed writer Jim Gorant discovered, their story is the truly newsworthy aspect of this case. Expanding on Gorant's Sports Illustrated cover story, The Lost Dogs traces the effort to bring Vick to justice and turns the spotlight on these infamous pit bulls, which were saved from euthanasia by an outpouring of public appeals coupled with a court order that Vick pay nearly a million dollars in "restitution" to the dogs.

As an ASPCA-led team evaluated each one, they found a few hardened fighters, but many more lovable, friendly creatures desperate for compassion. In The Lost Dogs, we meet these amazing animals, a number of which are now living in loving homes, while some even work in therapy programs: Johnny Justice participates in Paws for Tales, which lets kids get comfortable with reading aloud by reading to dogs; Leo spends three hours a week with cancer patients and troubled teens. At the heart of the stories are the rescue workers who transformed the pups from victims of animal cruelty into healing caregivers themselves, unleashing priceless hope.

It's a little comforting to know that at least some of them were saved. I really want to read about their story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last Day of Summer!

Today is the last official day of summer! I can't wait for fall to was way too hot this year.

Since summer is ending, I need to do an update on the summer (and extended spring) challenge.

I was able to finish The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult. I liked both books, but didn't love them. Maybe that's why I couldn't bring myself to finish both challenges.

The new seasonal challenge starts tomorrow! Details coming soon!

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!

When I told my father I was going to kill myself he said, “I knew a man stuck his face in a chainsaw. Cut his own head in two.”

from The Lakes of Florida by Charlie Smith (52 stories, May 2010)

If you haven't read anything at 52 stories yet, you should try it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Mondays

Prince of Thieves | The Town

Book, 2004 by Chuck Hogan

Four masked men--thieves, rivals, and friends from the tough streets of Charlestown--take on a Boston bank at gunpoint. Holding bank manager Claire Keesey hostage and cleaning out the vault was simple. But career criminal Doug MacRay didn't plan on one thing: falling in love with Claire.

With a tenacious FBI agent following his every move, Doug imagines a life away from his gritty, dangerous work. A life centered around Claire. But for Doug, that new life is just one final, perfect job away....Racing to an explosive climax, Chuck Hogan's brash tale of robbery in all its forms is an unforgettable odyssey of crime, love, ambition, and dreams.

The book won the 2005 Hammett Prize for excellence in crime writing.

Movie, 2010 directed by Ben Affleck

Features: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively

Tagline: Welcome to the bank robbery capital of America.

The Town is Ben Affleck's second feature film as a director.

Watch the trailer:

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

Just saw the movie last night. I think it's a good one to see in the theater.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Survey

Has anyone started reading Little Bird of Heaven?

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, September 18, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Jonathan Franzen.

Franzen was born in Chicago in 1959 but grew up in St. Louis (Webster Groves). He attended Swarthmore College and also earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Munich. His first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, was based on St. Louis (fell from 4th city to 27th city). His other novels include Strong Motion, The Corrections, and Freedom. His last two books have both been selected for Oprah's Book Club. Remember when she picked The was a controversy. She announced on the show, "Jonathan Franzen will not be on the Oprah Winfrey show because he is seemingly uncomfortable and conflicted about being chosen as a book club selection. It is never my intention to make anyone uncomfortable or cause anyone conflict. We have decided to skip the dinner and we're moving on to the next book." The Corrections went on to be one of the best-selling books of the decade.

Oprah announced her next book club pick on Friday...Freedom. I guess the controversy is cleared up! Read more here.

He'll be at the Schlafly Library Branch in the Central West End on Monday 9/20!

Group Picture-To Kill A Mockingbird

Our favorite book of the year so far!

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