The hubby, wee girl and I went out tonight!  We had dinner (at PF Changs…soooo delicious!) then we hit the Used Book/Movie/Music store.  Hubby found season 6 part 1 of the Sopranos for $30 and I found the above.  Look at all the Viragos I found!!!  I am beside myself excited!  I got:

  • Phoenix Fled by Attia Hosain
  • Devoted Ladies by Molly Keane
  • Two Days in Aragon by Molly Keane
  • The Rising Tide by Molly Keane
  • Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley
  • Hester by Mrs. Oliphant (Which I almost didn’t get but in a rare moment of lucidity I knew I would regret it if I didn’t, so I did!)
  • The Loved and the Envied by Enid Bagnold
  • Tortoise by Candlelight by Nina Bawden

And I found a Norton Critical edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I’ve been wanting to reread for some reason.  My books cost about the same as his Sopranos and the wee girls two books.  Ah, it feels so good to have a new-to-me pile of books!

Now, I must go finish one of the three I’m reading so I can start one of these!

Once upon a Challenge

12352170.jpgI started my first book for the fantasy challenge last night – The 15th annual “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” edited by the talented duo of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  I read the first two pieces “The Hunter’s Wife” by Anthony Doerr and a poem by Marin Scorescu. 

Now, I’ll readily admit, I’m not much for poetry, so I don’t have much of an opinion on the poem except that it was long.  I have to read a poem about 50 times before anything becomes clear to me in them; I think it’s just the way my brain processes things…it doesn’t do it very well 🙂  I’m sure it’s excellent though.

I DO have an opinion on Doerr’s short story.  I have never read Doerr’s work before, although I do have his book “About Grace.”  May have to bump it up the pile now.  “The Hunter’s Wife” started out a bit slow for me, but once I was into it it was very good.   It has two sides to it; in one way it seems a very gentle loving story, but at the same time it’s violent and scary.  A man and his wife live out in a valley, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, alone and moderately happy.  He hunts, obviously, and during the hunting season he takes anyone who wants to go (bankers, rich men, etc) out hunting for days to get that big kill.  While gone, she waits at the cabin.  And soon we learn she has a special gift.  When she touches something dead or dying, she sees their memories.  What happens next is a wonderful lesson love, compassion, and forgiveness.  A great start to this anthology and I can’t wait to get home and read some more.  Although it will have to compete with the most excellent “The Moonstone” for my attention.  It’s getting really goooooood now.  I have a totally lit crush on Wilkie.

Once Upon A Time…

onceuponwhite1.jpgis one of my most favorite lines in literature and such an appropriate title for Carl V.’s latest challenge.  I’ve been looking forward to this one for months!  My quest?  To read at least one book from each category (mythology, folklore, fantasy and fairy tale) and complete the challenge with a reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare, one of my most favorite of his plays.  It’s going to be so much fun!  And great because it will (hopefully) get a lot of books off my TBR mountain!

Here is the list of books I have (or have coming) that I will pick from.  This is off the top of my head, since these books are at home, so I’ll probably be adding to this list 😉

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • Enna Burning  by Shannon Hale
  • The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 15th Annual Collection
  • War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
  • Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
  • The Faerie Queene by Sir Edmund Spencer
  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm
  • A Red Heart Full of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • Fitcher’s Brides by Gregory Frost
  • White as Snow by Tanith Lee
  • Jack of Kinrowan: Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon by Charles de Lint
  • Widdershins by Charles de Lint
  • Into the Green by Charles de Lint
  • Waifs and Strays by Charles de Lint
  • The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint
  • Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
  • The Thrall’s Tale by Judith Lindbergh
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
  • Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
  • The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (a reread, but excellent book of short stories)
  • Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
  • Dark of the Woods ed by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
  • The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Through the Looking-glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
  • Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape Vol 1 by Bill Willingham
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Quite a list huh?  As soon as I finish The Moonstone, (Which, by the way, is fantaaaastic. You should read it.) I will be getting started on this!  SO excited.

PS: Carl, I can’t comment on your blog, it thinks I’m spamming you! 🙁

Ten Books I Couldn't Live Without

Kailana asked, “What are the ten books you could not live without?” And I, who loves any excuse to make a list, especially a BOOK list, and going to take up the challenge .  This was SO hard. I made a list of all the most favorite books I could think of, then whittled it down to 10. Again, VERY hard. I finally went with books that I knew I would be totally devastated and inconsolable if I could never, ever, read them again.  This took me several days too.  It’s just so hard to pick 10!!

The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I first read this book when I was around 13 and I’ve probably read it at least 15 times since then. It just never gets old!

Possession by AS Byatt. Have read this at least 3 times and it just gets better and better every time. There is so much to this book, I find something new and exciting every time. Amazing book.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Ah, this is my comfort book. I discovered it later than most people; most seem to have read it when children. I didn’t first read it until I was in my 20s. I have read it several times since. It was the book I took with me to the hospital when my beloved Papa went in for the last time. I think I may be due another read soon.

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I read these books to absolute pieces when I was around 10 years old. Oh, how I longed to enter a wardrobe and find myself in a new, magical world! I reread then again at 21 and found that I still deeply loved these stories. I’ve recently begun “rereading” them again (on audio) and I still adore them.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I went through a rabid classics phase when I was about 15. I read a lot of Dumas, Hugo, Bronte (Charlotte), and tons others. I admore me some Dumas and my recent reread of this book further cemented that love.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. See above. I love me some Hugo.  Les Miserables is a close second.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I admit, I didn’t much care for this when I read it in high school. But, I had to read it again in college and, partially thanks to my kick-ass professor I fell in love with it. I love, love, love, love it. And I love the movie too. Even if it does have Robert Redford in it.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. A very recent read, but I know I will be rereading it over and over. So very touching and unique. And so well written.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. My first Collins! And leading me into a wonderful love affair I’m sure. I am LOVING The Moonstone.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My first Austen! Will definitely reread this a lot. P&P is SOOOOOOO good.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

12203970.jpgI know I promised reviews of a few of the past books I’ve read this year, but, after finishing Brian Selznick’s novel yesterday, I could not wait to tell you all about it. I know it is pretty early in the year to say that this is my Number 1 read of the year, but I will definitely say it will be in my top ten for this book is a masterpiece.  High praise, I know, but it is also very well-deserved.

Combining excellent narrative, beautiful illustration, and a high dose of imagination, Brian Selznick has created a bittersweet and touching story, among other things, a 12-year-old orphan, a heartbroken old man, a little bit of magic, and an automaton.  So, just what is an automaton?  I’ll let Merriam-Webster tell you:

Main Entry: au·tom·a·ton
Pronunciation: o-'tä-m&-t&n, -m&-"tän
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -atons or au·tom·a·ta /-m&-t&, -m&-"tä/
Etymology: Latin, from Greek, neuter of automatos
1: a mechanism that is relatively self-operating; especially: ROBOT
2 : a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions
3 : an individual who acts in a mechanical fashion

 Personally, I have never quite seen a book so stylistic and original.  As you open the book, you are invited to follow a young boy, Hugo Cabret, as he moves stealthly through a train station.  As you turn the pages, you are greated by a rising sun and soon flying through Paris until you land beside Hugo, and are immediately swept up into his story.  It has a movie feel to it as you move through the pictures.   Poor Hugo; he lost his beloved clock-maker father in a fire at the museum where he worked.  Because of that, he has to go live with his drunk uncle at the train-station, where he keeps all the clocks running.  Hugo becomes his apprentice; but soon he is doing all the work on his own.  Not long after he comes to live with his uncle, the man disappears, leaving Hugo alone and scared. 

Before his beloved father died, he found an automaton in the attic of the old museum.  While visiting the site, Hugo found the automaton, and smuggles it back to the train station.  I don’t want to give too much away to the story, for I want you to discover it for yourselves.  But what follows is a journey full of magic and rescue; for the orphan Hugo and the old man Papa Georges (from whom Hugo steals toys for parts for his automaton and also a real man, Georges Melies, who lived in France and whose life this book is loosely modeled around). 

Don’t be discouraged by the size, this 534 page tome is a fast read.  I started and finished it yesterday.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I could not put it down.   And I will definitely reread it over and over again.  This novel is written for kids, but adults will find much to love in his heartwarming story of loss, love and redemption.