Monday, January 25, 2010

Book 3

My grand plan has kind of fallen apart at the seams. And it's not even the end of January!

Problem is, I developed a huge list of YA titles I'm now itching to read. I went to the library and checked out maybe a dozen of them. I also went to Borders and bought two of the titles that weren't available at the library but really begged to be read sooner rather than later.

Too, I'm finding it impossible to only have one book at a time to focus on. Ideally, I'd select a title, read through it without becoming distracted by other books, finish it and move on to the next. I simply don't work that way. So instead I have three or four books going at once.

I did do something constructive. One of the two books I purchased on Saturday got started and finished within less than two days. I've reviewed it here to explain why it captured my attention so completely. But at least it's not on the TBR list!

Anyway, here's the status:

Latest Book Finished: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Date Started: Jan. 23
Date Finished: Jan. 24
Number of Books TBR: 296

Currently Reading: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (library book)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Checking In

Still here.

I added two new books to my TBR pile. They're both nonfiction. Bad me.

I also started one off the current TBR - The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's very, very interesting. Also kind of disturbing as I'm learning exactly how bad for us processed food has become and why America is so fat and how we are pretty much screwed unless there are some radical changes made to our politics pertaining to food production. Unfortunately, I'm reading this book in bits and pieces while I wait to pick up kids or right before bed when I can only manage a few pages before I can't keep my eyes open any longer, so it's taking forever to get through.

I'm trying to determine if reading library books counts toward my goal. In effect, I'm not adding to my TBR pile if I check out and read a library book. But I'm also not diminishing the pile, either. I now have a list of about a dozen YA titles I'm itching to read due to a YA blog blitz I participated in. I'm determined not to buy any of these titles unless I read a free copy first and find it to be a keeper.

Too, I've signed myself up for Paperbackswap. I'm thinking that obtaining a book for free while at the same time getting rid of some books off my shelf counts as a wash as far as my goal. I might not be getting rid of TBRs, but I am thinning out the herd of books that I know I'll never read again.

Maybe I'm cheating the system? Okay, yeah, I'm cheating.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book 2

Book: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Date Finished: January 6, 2010
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Great story. Helen is a lost soul, a ghost who for reasons she doesn't remember was locked out of Heaven when she died over 130 years ago. Forced to cleave to a human "host" or be pulled into what she believes is Hell, Helen spends the years watching the world of the Quick, silent and invisible. When a human boy is able to see her one day, Helen is by turns terrified, shocked and intrigued. She meets James, a fellow Light who discoverd a way to inhabit the human Billy Blake, a troubled teen whose spirit left his body empty after a drug overdose nearly killed him.

The two quickly fall in love, and James urges Helen to make herself corporeal by inhabiting fellow teen Jenny after Jenny's spirit abandons her body in a desperate attempt to escape her controlling, hyper-religious parents. What at first seems to be the ideal situation - now James and Helen can be together both physically as well as spiritually - soon becomes a nightmare as the lives of their human hosts begin to cause problems for the young lovers. Too, memories of the past begin to surface, and both Helen and James realize they will have to face the painful horrors from their previous lives if they have any hope of ever resting in peace.

Helen is a wonderful protagonist, and I really wanted this couple to find happiness. Too, when things begin to unravel for James and Helen, the situation becomes extremely dire. At one point I wasn't sure how Whitcomb would tie up so many tragic plot threads, and the conflict and tension kept me turning pages late into the night.

While the main characters are ghosts, this is not in any way a creepy or scary book. I recommend it highly.

Updated Number of TBR books: 293

Next Book:
The Off Season by Catherine Murdock


This sequel to Murdock's Dairy Queen catches readers up with narrator D.J. Schwenk as she hits her stride in her junior year of high school. She's playing linebacker for her high school football team, hanging out with Brian (the rival high school's quarterback), earning passing grades, and pulling her weight on her family's struggling dairy farm. But "a whole herd of trouble" is coming her way. First, D.J. and, by extension, Brian become the unwitting subjects of a People magazine article. Then D.J. suffers a shoulder injury that threatens her sports career, her gay best friend runs away with an older girlfriend, and D.J. notices that Brian isn't too keen on being seen with her in public. These problems are all put into perspective when D.J.'s older brother, Win, suffers a serious spinal-cord injury during a college football game. D.J. stays by his side in the hospital, a task made even tougher by Win's refusal to communicate, and accompanies him to rehab in Minnesota.

Book 1

Book: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Date Finished: Jan. 3, 2010
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5) - Great read but requires dedication to get through the confusing first third of the book.

Updated Number of Books TBR: 294

Next Book: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Summary: Helen died 130 years ago as a young woman. Unable to enter heaven because of a sense of guilt she carried at death, she has been silent and invisible but conscious and sociable across the generations. Her spirit has been sustained by its attachment to one living human host after another, including a poet and, most recently, a high-school English teacher. While she sits through his class one day, she becomes aware of James and he–unlike the mortals all around them–is aware of her as well. James, who also died years earlier, inhabits the body of a contemporary teen, Billy. James and Helen fall in love, he shows her how to inhabit the body of a person whose spirit has died but who still lives and breathes, and the two begin to unfold the mysteries of their own pasts and those of their adolescent hosts. Jenny, whose body Helen now uses, is the only child of strict religious parents who controlled her beyond what her spirit could endure. Billy's spirit left his body after a string of tragedies resulting from drug abuse and domestic violence. James and Helen court in both modern and old-fashioned ways; here is a novel in which explicit sex is far from gratuitous or formulaic. Whitcomb writes with a grace that befits Helen's more modulated world while depicting contemporary society with sharp insight.

And She's Off...

Posted on January 1, 2010...

As part of my plan to read through as much of my TBR pile as possible in 2010, I'm going to try posting my progress here. If I have a sense of accountability, even if it is only virtual and basically only to myself, maybe I'll stick with the plan. Kind of like weighing in at Weight Watchers every week.

Number of books on TBR pile: 295

Book chosen: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Summary: For years, three factions—Townies, Cadets (city kids doing a six-week outdoor education program), and Jellicoe School students—have engaged in teen war games in the Australian countryside, defending territorial borders, negotiating for assets, and even taking hostages. Taylor Markham, a 17-year-old who was abandoned years ago by her mother, takes on leadership of the boarding school's six Houses. Plagued with doubts about being boss, she's not sure she can handle her Cadet counterpart, Jonah Griggs, whom she met several years before while running away to find her mother. When Hannah, a sort of house mother who has taken Taylor under her wing, disappears, Taylor puzzles over the book manuscript the woman left behind. Hannah's tale involves a tragic car accident on the Jellicoe Road more than 20 years earlier. Only three children survived, and Taylor discovers that this trio, plus a Cadet and a Townie, developed an epic friendship that was the foundation of the many mysteries in her life and identity, as well as of the war games.

Status: Page 45 (out of 419)

Now this is the kind of New Year's resolution I can live with.

The Personal Challenge

Mr. Bemis is a bank teller and loves to read. His wife despises his reading addiction and even tears up one of his books. Bemis' reading also gets him into trouble at work. He is so absorbed in his reading that he can't count out the proper amount of money for a customer. When called to the supervisor's office, he complains that he can't read at home. He had resorted to reading the label of the ketchup bottle but his wife even stopped him from doing that.

One day during his lunch break, he sneaks off to the bank vault to read the Charles Dickens novel "David Copperfield". Suddenly, a bomb blows up while he is inside. Once he recovers, he comes out of the vault to find that a nuclear war has taken place, everything is destroyed and he is the only survivor.

He searches through the rubble for signs of any other survivors. He finds no one but he does discover enough food to sustain him indefinitely. The boredom and loneliness begin to affect him, however. He discovers a revolver and plans to shoot himself in the head when he notices the sign marking the ruins of the public library. He is overjoyed to find that the books are still intact.

He finds the works of Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Shelley, Keats and Browning. He piles up books to read each month for the years to come. He drops a book and bends over to pick it up. As he does so, he drops his glasses on the concrete steps. The lenses shatter. He is now unable to read the books, just when he had finally found the time to read them. He claims that "it's not fair!"
"Time Enough At Last" - The Twilight Zone episode 1.8

The goal - to whittle down a To Be Read pile of books nearing 300. When looking at my bookshelves inspires guilt rather than joy, it's time to admit I have a problem and to do something about it.

I invite anyone who has come to realize that their TBR pile has grown large enough to stock a small-town library to join me in my quest.

Ready. Set. Go.