TSS: 29 November 2009

Good morning, Sunday Saloners!  I hope you had a fabulous holiday, if you are the Thanksgiving celebrating type, or just a fabulous week.  I spent my week spending time with my family and friends, reading Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe and doing some Christmas shopping.  I bought books for the holidays, especially books that I want to read!  For my little sister K the older, who is 14, I got Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Liar by Justine Larbalestier.  K the younger is 11 and she will be receiving How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle .  My dad will be getting Under the Dome by Stephen King.   Don’t tell them!  I’m still not sure what I’m getting my youngest sister, C (10), but I’ll think of something.  For my mom and step-dad I got specialty salsa and a signed Paula Deen cookbook.

This week I reviewed Hate List by Jennifer Brown, The Compound by SA Bodeen and Genesis by Bernard Beckett, & Man in the Dark by Paul Auster.  I featured poet Mona Van Duyn and her poem “Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri” on this week’s installment of Poetry Wednesday.  Up next for review is The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud.

I still haven’t read the second part of Kristin Lavransdatter, because I left it at home.  I’ll start reading it as soon as I get back and hopefully won’t  be  too late again.  Still reading Brave Story, it’s good, but I just haven’t had an uninterrupted reading time to really get into the story.  Which is difficult when the book is over 800  pages.  It would be really nice if I could finish it and start another book this weekend!  We’ll see.

I might be on the quiet side in the coming two weeks because it is exam time.  I’ll be busy writing papers and doing research, but I will miss you dearly, I promise.

What are you reading today?


YA Reviews – Hate List, The Compound, Genesis

I have three very different reviews for today: Hate List by Jennifer Brown, The Compound by SA Bodeen and Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

This book is told from Valerie’s perspective, the girlfriend of Nick who opened fire on the crowded high school cafeteria.  Valerie, shocked by what her boyfriend was doing, ran to stop him when he shot her in the leg and then shot himself.  Valerie is either vilified or declared a hero by her classmates and community, but she is neither.  She was terrified, and she didn’t set out to be a hero, but she never thought about killing the people on her Hate List.  She might have said she wished they were dead, but she didn’t mean it, no more than anyone means it when they say that kind of thing.  But Nick meant it.  I felt so bad for Valerie and I applaud Brown for not making Nick into a purely evil villain.  He did a horrible, evil thing, but he was kind to Valerie and he was a good boyfriend.  The bulk of this book is told in flashbacks, with Valerie remembering the morning of the shooting and trying to survive at school the next fall.

I admit, I almost put this book down when I saw the Nickelback song quote at the beginning, and I thought that it dipped into the cheesy at some points, but for the most part I thought this was a really great YA novel that deals with an unbelievably difficult topic.   We don’t often hear the people like Valerie’s story, the people that loved the murderers, before they were evil, before they crossed that line.  Try to not cry when you read this book, just try.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Also reviewed by: Steph  Su Reads, Early Word, A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy, Presenting Lenore, GalleySmith, Life in the Thumb, My Friend Amy, Linus’s Blanket

Anax is preparing her final exam to enter the Academy, all about Jasper Forde.  The  entire book is this exam and we discover more and more with each question that the examiners ask her about her world, one that is very different from our own.  Plus, this book has an ending that will absolutely knock your socks off.  Overall, I thought it was successful, but I thought that there were some parts that just didn’t make enough sense in an effort to keep the secret.  When I first finished this book I was prepared to give it a slightly better review, but I’ve thought about it some more and I’m just not completely convinced.  I had really high hopes for this one, and though I still enjoyed reading it and was really surprised by the ending, it didn’t quite live up to them.  This might be one that I revisit in the future, though, to see if I like it better on a second reading.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Also reviewed by:  Steph Su Reads, A Chair, A Fireplace, A Tea Cozy, I was a Teenage Book Geek, Presenting Lenore.

Okay, I really thought this book was too ridiculous and totally unbelievable, but I had a ridiculously good time reading it, so they balance each other out.  Eli has been living in the compound with his family for the past 8 years after a nuclear fallout, but eventually things start to get a weirder and weirder as he realizes that his father is lying to him about something.  Dun dun duuuuuunnn!  Other than the complete implausibility, there was a lot to like here.  Eli is a very believable character, who’s just a little bit mean and really emotionally torn up about the loss of his twin brother in the war.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Also reviewed by: I Was a Teenage Book Geek, Becky’s Book Review

Did you read and review any of these books?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll link to your review!



It’s Thanksgiving today, and I know there are so many things that I’m thankful for.  So I’m going to do the ABCs of thankfulness, stolen from Trish.

Aunts.  Some of my best friends.


Car.  Really, I’m so grateful for my car.

Dads.  They’re pretty cool, even when they make you crazy.

Eating without guilt.  Three days out of the year!  Birthday, Christmas and, OF COURSE, TODAY.  I’ve already had a doughnut and I feel zero guilt.

Family.   I love my family and I wish we were all together today, but even if we can’t be, we’re together in spirit.

Grandpop.  Love ya!

Holding babies.  There are few things in this world that make me happier.  So, hey family members!, have some babies so I can hold them!

Ice.  I really like ice and I like to chew ice.  Which I know is a horrible habit, but I like it.  So I’m thankful for it.

Jabberwocky, the poem.  Because I like it.

Knitting & crocheting (stolen from Trish!)

Love, ’cause I’m cheesy like that.


New things.

Oskar, my cat.  She’s crazy, as in clinically insane and probably needs kitty-prozac, but she’s also pretty cuddly when she remembers that she loves me and doesn’t need to attack me.  Which is about 60% of the time.




Sisters.  I’ve got three of them and I love them all, even when they make me angry.

Toffee nut lattes

Umbrellas.  Very thankful for umbrellas.

Virginia.  It’s a pretty awesome state.

Wrinkle in Time, A.  Favorite books!

X-rays.  I’m very thankful for x-rays.  You never know when you’re going to need one.

Yellow coats.  I really like my new yellow coat!

Z!  My boyfriend.  He’s pretty awesome.

Eat lots of food today, even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving today.  Because didn’t you know?  Calories don’t count today.

Poetry Wednesday – Mona Van Duyn

I don’t feel like talking about poetry today, I just feel like reading poetry.   So here is a poem by Mona Van Duyn.  Enjoy!

Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri

The quake last night was nothing personal,
you told me this morning. I think one always wonders,
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.

But the earth said last night that what I feel,
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me.
One small, sensuous catastrophe
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.

The earth, with others on it, turns in its course
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross,
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell
to planets, nearing the universal roll,
in our conceit even comprehending the sun,
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.


TSS – Epic List of Challenges! 22 November 2009

Good morning!  As you read this I am doing one of four things:

  1. Packing to go home for Thanksgiving
  2. Seeing New Moon
  3. Driving home!
  4. Finishing up my paper on “The House of Bernarda Alba”, which is a great play everyone should see.

I’m super excited for the holidays and looking forward to the break from class.  What are your plans for the holiday?  Anything exciting?  I know that I’m excited about delicious food, like the bbq my grandmother cooks every year.  Mmm.  This week read quite a bit, mostly because I read three YA books that had very similar themes.  I finished Under the Skin, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Genesis, The Compound, The Untelling and The Emperor’s Children.  All of them were very good.  I really didn’t know what I thought of The Emperor’s Children until the very last page, but I’m looking forward to sitting down with the review because it’s going to be an interesting discussion.  Anyone read The Compound?  That books is CRAZY.   Just insane.   The ending wasn’t really shocking, but the whole concept was wild.  I still haven’t wrapped my head around Genesis to write a proper review of it, but it has an ending that will knock you off your feet.

I’m currently reading Man in the Dark by Paul Auster and I really like it so far.  I organized all my books yesterday and they are beautiful.

Okay, now for the exciting news: CHALLENGES.  Twitter and all the blogs have been alight with book challenges and it’s so tempting to join them all.  I joined a lot of challenges last year, but was really disorganized and ended up only finishing a few of them.  This year I plan on being much more organized.  Here is a preliminary list of challenges I have joined:


Women Unbound: Hosted by the wonderful Eva, Care and Aarti, I finally decided to join the Women Unbound challenge!  I’ve already read one book (The Untelling) and I’m looking forward to all the others.  I am joining the Bluestocking level, which is 5 books, 2 nonfiction.  I’m not sure what I’m going  to read yet, but I will come up with a list soon.



AtoZChallenge: Last year I joined this challenge and I went for the most difficult level (reading an author  and a book title for every letter of the alphabet) and I ended up just not having enough time/energy to keep up with it.  So this year, I’m going to be a little bit more conservative and only join the A-Z Titles.


The Challenge that Dare Not Speak its Name: GLBT Challenge 2010.  The amazing Amanda of The Zen Leaf is extending her GLBT challenge for an entire year and I’m really excited about this one.  I was a little eager and already checked out a number of books from the library, including Geography Club, Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories, The Diary of Frida Kahlo, Virginia Wolf, and Bastard Out of Carolina. I signed up for the Pink Triangle level, which is 8 books.  I’ll be doing a post on GLBT poetry for a blog tour for different genres, so keep an eye out for that!


Another challenge I’m really excited about is the South Asian Author Challenge hosted by S. Krishna.  I’ve made a list for this one, including Upamanyu Chatterjee, Vikram Chandra, Indra Sinha, Bharati Mukherjee.  I’m reading 3 books for this challenge.


The TwentyTen Challenge hosted by Darren of Bart’s Bookshelf is a really fun challenge that I’m super excited to join.  The challenge asks us to read two books in ten different categories.

  1. YA
  2. TBR
  3. Shiny & New
  4. Bad Bloggers
  5. Charity
  6. New in 2010
  7. Older than you
  8. Win, Win! (read books for other challenges)
  9. Who Are You Again (an author you’ve never heard of)
  10. Up to You!

Isn’t that the cutest challenge ever?  I’m definitely excited about this one.

Woolf in Winter Read Along: I’ve already talked about this in the Sunday Salon, but I thought I’d mention it again!




I’d like to do the Dewey Decimal Challenge again, if The Novel World will host it again!  If not, I might make it a personal challenge for 2010.  I didn’t do very well, but one of my goals next year is to read more non-fiction.

Also: I’d like to reinstate my poetry challenge to start over in January (but anyone who has already joined the challenge will get to count their books and can continue with the already established time line if they’d like!).  I am trying to get a little bit more interest, if possible!  I’d love to see more poetry-love across the book blogging community :).  Interested?

Whew, that’s all.  Thanks for sticking around!  I’ll probably be joining more challenges as the year goes on, but that’s it for now.  Have a great Sunday, everyone!


Review – The Untelling by Tayari Jones

“I wanted to tell him that I knew how he felt, though I probably did not.  How can you know what another person is going through when your own life is so different from his?  People had done this to me often enough, telling they knew how I felt because they had suffered this or that loss, felt some sort of pain.  The words were in my mouth to tell Lawrence that I knew what it was not to be able to make the family you want to have, not because you are a bad person or because you haven’t tried hard enough, but because you just can’t.  I could predict his response, his words, polite enough, thanking me for my empathy, my generosity of spirit.  And I could imagine his thoughts, that no, I couldn’t possibly empathize.  Our situations were not the same at all.” (215)

Continue reading “Review – The Untelling by Tayari Jones”