Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Survey

Happy Halloween!

How do you like Shanghai Girls?

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, October 30, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is, who else, but Edgar Allan Poe.

He was born January 19, 1809 in Boston and died October 7, 1849 in Baltimore. He was an American writer and was part of the American Romantic Movement. He is one of the first American short story writers. He is also the father of detective fiction. He is known for his poems including Annabel Lee and The Raven and his short stories including The Purloined Letter and The Fall of the House of Usher.

Poe was probably the first American author to try to make a living by writing alone; he was poor. He joined the US Army at age 18 for financial reasons. He married his 13 year old cousin, Virginia Clemm, when he was 26. His death at the age of 40 remains a mystery, but it may have been related to cooping.

Do you like Edgar Allan Poe? What's your favorite poem or tale?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Feature Fridays

In keeping with the Edgar Allan Poe theme, today's classic is The Tell-Tale Heart (1843).

This is the story of the unnamed murderer in all his exquisite vileness and self-effacing insanity that poses rationality where none exists.

Remember the vulture eye? If you don't, you can read the entire story online for free at Read Print.

The Tell-Tale Heart is considered a classic of Gothic fiction. It is one of Poe's most famous short stories.

Which Poe tales have you read?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

In honor of Halloween this weekend...what is your favorite tale by Edgar Allan Poe?

It's a tough choice, but I have to go with The Cask of Amontillado. This tale is interesting because we don't know why Montresor kills Fortunato. Why do you think he did it? I think he was insane. Here's how it starts:
The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.
You can read the entire tale online at Read Print.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham

Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattan’s SoHo, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts—he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca’s much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (known in the family as Mizzy, “the mistake”), shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling twenty-three year-old with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his artists, their work, his career—the entire world he has so carefully constructed.

Like his legendary, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Hours, Michael Cunningham’s masterly new novel is a heartbreaking look at the way we live now. Full of shocks and aftershocks, it makes us think and feel deeply about the uses and meaning of beauty and the place of love in our lives.

I absolutely loved The Hours (and the movie). I definitely have to read this book!

Tuesday, October 26, 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!

I nod because, by the way he says it, it's clear that {someone} has been executed. The smell of roses and blood has grown stronger now that only a desk separates us.

from Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I love this trilogy!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Mondays

Fever Pitch

Book, 1992 by Nick Hornby

In America, it is soccer. But in Great Britain, it is the real football. No pads, no prayers, no prisoners. And that's before the players even take the field.

Nick Hornby has been a football fan since the moment he was conceived. Call it predestiny. Or call it preschool. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession. Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby's award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom — its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young mens' coming-of-age stories. Fever Pitch is one for the home team. But above all, it is one for everyone who knows what it really means to have a losing season.

Movie, 2005 directed by Bobby & Peter Farrelly

Features: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon
Tagline: A Comedy About The Game Of Love.

Awards: It was nominated for 7 Teen Choice Awards including Choice Movie Hissy Fit and Choice Movie Liplock.

Did you know? This movie ends with the Cardinals getting swept by the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series, which is obviously true. Lucky for us, they came back and won it in 2006!

Have you read the book or seen the movie (they are actually pretty different from each other)?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Survey

Has anyone started reading Shanghai Girls?

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, October 23, 2010

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Adam Ross.

He grew up in New York City where he attended the Trin­ity School. He was a child actor and appeared in movies, TV and radio. He attended Vassar College, Hollins University and Washington University where he earned degrees in Engligh and Creative Writing. He has lived in Nashville since 1995. In Nashville he is known for his column Mondo Nashville. Mr. Peanut is his first novel.

David Pepin has been in love with his wife, Alice, since the moment they met in a university seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. After thirteen years of marriage, he still can’t imagine a remotely happy life without her—yet he obsessively contemplates her demise. Soon she is dead, and David is both deeply distraught and the prime suspect.

The detectives investigating Alice’s suspicious death have plenty of personal experience with conjugal enigmas: Ward Hastroll is happily married until his wife inexplicably becomes voluntarily and militantly bedridden; and Sam Sheppard is especially sensitive to the intricacies of marital guilt and innocence, having decades before been convicted and then exonerated of the brutal murder of his wife.

Still, these men are in the business of figuring things out, even as Pepin’s role in Alice’s death grows ever more confounding when they link him to a highly unusual hit man called Mobius. Like the Escher drawings that inspire the computer games David designs for a living, these complex, interlocking dramas are structurally and emotionally intense, subtle, and intriguing; they brilliantly explore the warring impulses of affection and hatred, and pose a host of arresting questions. Is it possible to know anyone fully, completely? Are murder and marriage two sides of the same coin, each endlessly recycling into the other? And what, in the end, is the truth about love?

Mesmerizing, exhilarating, and profoundly moving, Mr. Peanut is a police procedural of the soul, a poignant investigation of the relentlessly mysterious human heart—and a first novel of the highest order.

You can download a sample chapter from his website.

Did anyone go to Left Bank Books on Thursday to hear him read from Mr. Peanut?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feature Fridays

Today's classic is The Metamorphosis (1915) by Franz Kafka.

"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis.

It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing -- though absurdly comic -- meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.

You can read The Metamorphosis online for free at Read Print. It's pretty short and only has 3 chapters; it's officially a novella.

Have you read it?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

What book are you most hoping to read for book club next year?

Right now I would probably say Cutting for Stone, but that could change over the next week. I'm trying to finalize my list of selections! Is your list ready?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.

I love the title...remember it's the mneumonic device used to teach kids how to spell Mississippi? M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback-I

Tuesday, October 19, 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!

It was the third day of her new life. This life was diminished as in the aftermath of brain surgery executed with a meat cleaver yet she meant to do all that was required of her and to do it alone, and capably, and without complaint.

from Probate (short story of the week at 52 stories) by Joyce Carol Oates

Monday, October 18, 2010

Movie Mondays

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Book, 2006 by Ned Vizzini

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life -- getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job -- Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping -- until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a moving tale about depression, that's definitely a funny story.

Movie, 2010 directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Features: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis (funniest guy from The Hangover), Emma Roberts

Tagline: Sometimes what's in your head isn't as crazy as you think.

The movie was just released on October 8th.

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Survey

Time to order Shanghai Girls if you haven't already!

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Group Picture-Little Bird of Heaven

Good discussion, not so good book (for us)!

November Book Choices!

Vote for the one that sounds the best!

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See | paperback, 336 pages

May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)—where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months—they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.

Shanghai Girls was on the 2010 New York Times bestseller list and it was runner-up for the Asian Pacific American Awards for Literature (as was her previous novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan).

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas | paperback, 352 pages

It's 1936 and the Great Depression has taken its toll. Eighty-six-year-old Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan, Colorado - up in the high country of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains - since before it was Colorado. When she first meets seventeen-year-old Nit Spindle, Hennie is drawn to the young grieving girl. Nit and her husband have come to this small mining town in search of work, but the loneliness and loss Nit feels are almost too much to bear. One day she notices an old sign that reads "Prayers for Sale" in front of Hennie's house and takes out her last nickel. Hennie doesn't actually take money for her prayers, never has, but she invites the skinny girl in anyway. The harsh conditions of life that each has endured help them to create an instant bond, and a friendship is born, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed." This novel tells the tale of a friendship between two women, one with surprising twists and turns, and one that is ultimately a revelation of the finest parts of the human spirit.

This is her eighth novel. It seems similar to Olive Kitteridge as it was originally intended to be a group of related short stories.

Far North by Will Hobbs | paperback, 304 pages

From the window of the small floatplane, fifteen-year-old Gabe Rogers is getting his first look at Canada's magnificent Northwest Territories with Raymond Providence, his roommate from boarding school. Below is the spectacular Nahanni River -- wall-to-wall whitewater racing between sheer cliffs and plunging over Virginia Falls. The pilot sets the plane down on the lake-like surface of the upper river for a closer look at the thundering falls. Suddenly the engine quits. The only sound is a dull roar downstream, as the Cessna drifts helplessly toward the falls . . .

With the brutal subarctic winter fast approaching, Gabe and Raymond soon find themselves stranded in Deadmen Valley. Trapped in a frozen world of moose, wolves, and bears, two boys from vastly different cultures come to depend on each other for their very survival.

After an airplane accident, fifteen-year-old Gabe, his Dene Indian boarding-school roommate Raymond, and the elderly Indian Johnny Raven are left stranded in the Canadian wilderness. The wise old man calls on his deeply rooted knowledge of the land to keep the tiny group alive, leaving the boys to battle nature alone when he dies.

It was voted one of the Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association. This is a children's/young adult book. It is not a true story.

Linda is hosting the November meeting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday

Barnes and Noble has published a list of the top 100 bestsellers of 2010. How many of them have you read? Have you read the #1 book? Go find out.

I've read 8 from the list:

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

Mockingjay (have it, will read this month)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Catcher in the Rye
The Shack
Have a Little Faith
The Lovely Bones

Three book club books are on the list!

I have not read the # 1 book, have you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Wish List

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One after­noon, they decided to walk home along a forbidden road. Djuna disappeared, and for twenty years Celia blocked out how it happened.

The lie Celia told to conceal her misdeed became the accepted truth: everyone assumed Djuna had been abducted, though neither she nor her abductor was ever found. Celia’s unconscious avoidance of this has meant that while she and her longtime boyfriend, Huck, are professionally successful, they’ve been unable to move forward, their relationship falling into a rut that threatens to bury them both.

Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, but her family and childhood friends don’t believe her. Huck wants to be supportive, but his love can’t blind him to all that contra­dicts Celia’s version of the past.

Celia’s desperate search to understand what happened to Djuna has powerful consequences. A deeply resonant and emotionally charged story, The False Friend explores the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, as well as the lies to which we succumb.

This book is on the October 2010 Indie Next List. Check out the list for ideas for book club choices next year.

Tuesday, October 12, 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!

In my mind, President Snow should be viewed in front of marble pillars hung with oversized flags. It's jarring to see him surrounded by the ordinary objects in the room, like taking the lid off a pot and finding a fanged viper instead of stew.

from Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is the 2nd book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I finished The Hunger Games over the weekend and I ordered the 2nd book immediately and started reading. If you're not participating in the Fall Challenge, you should! I think you'll love these books!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Movie Mondays

Big Fish

Book, 1998 by Daniel Wallace

A captivating novel about a father and a son, mythmaking and truth, death and life.

He could outrun anybody, and he never missed a day of school. He saved lives, tamed giants. Animals loved him. People loved him. Women loved him (and he loved them back). And he knew more jokes than any man alive.

Now, as he lies dying, Edward Bloom can't seem to stop telling jokes--or the tall takes that have made him, in his son's eyes, an extraordinary man. Big Fish is the story of this man's life, told as a series of legends and myths inpsired by the few facts his son, William, knows. Through these tales--hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous--William begins to understand his elusive father's great feats, and his great failings.

Movie, 2003 directed by Tim Burton

Features: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney

Tagline: An adventure as big as life itself.

Awards: It was nominated for the Oscar for Best Music, Original Score.

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

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