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Fall Into Reading 2008 Update 3

In other news, here’s an update for my Fall Into Reading Challenge:

Click on the ones with ** to see my reviews.

Here’s the list of books I’ve read for the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008:

1. A Grave in the Air by Stephen Henighan **
2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland **
3. Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith**
4. Sex at Noon Taxes by Sally Van Doren**
5. The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel**
6. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore **
7. Black Flies by Shannon Burke **
8. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby **
9. Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe **
10. Testimony by Anita Shreve**
11. Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds **
12. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White **
13. The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman **
14. Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach **
15. Off the Menu by Christine Son **
16. Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles **
17. Owen Fiddler by Marvin D. Wilson **
18. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin **
19. Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib by Larry C. James **
20. The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel **
21. You Lost Him at Hello by Jess McCann **

I’ve played with this list off and on for some time, and finally gave up on it at 21 books for the challenge because I always think I can get through more books than I can. I have two reviews forthcoming, but for all intents and purposes, I’ve finished the challenge.

***Don’t forget my giveaway for an inscribed copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. Deadline is Dec. 21 and the contest is international.**

War Through the Generations Challenge: WWII

By now, you all should have seen my initial post about the War Through the Generations: Reading Challenges that Anna and I are co-hosting. Click on the button to the right if you want more information about signing up for the reading challenge.

As for my reading goal, I’m going to initially say I will read five books, though as we all know, I get carried away sometimes and will more than likely expand this reading list and make it more challenge beginning in January.

For now, these are the books I’ve pre-selected in no particular order:

1. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
2. Roosevelt’s Secret War by Joseph Persico
3. Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors
4. Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke
5. Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas

Click on the icon to the left for the reading list for the WWII Challenge, which continues to grow. Select your favorites.

Did you like our buttons? Well, Monica at Monniblog made them for us. She rocks. The one to the left is from a photo I took in Washington D.C. on one of the many visits I pay to the city with touring guests.

***Don’t forget my Pemberley by the Sea contest. It ends on Dec. 10 at Midnight EST. Sorry open only to U.S. and Canadian addressed residents.**

Our First Hosted Reading Challenge


Can you believe it? Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) and I have launched our very first challenge. Its been a long time in the planning, but here is the official unveiling here at Savvy Verse & Wit.

What: War Through the Generations: Reading Challenges (because you know there has to be more than one reading challenge)

Where: Click on the blog title and go participate

When: First Challenge is WWII beginning Jan. 1, 2009 and lasting 12 months through Dec. 31, 2009

Why: Because we’re bookworms and love reading books, fictional and nonfictional. And because you want to read about the impact of war on characters and real people. Perhaps because you think we can learn from our mistakes. Doesn’t really matter? It’s books.

As Anna says so eloquently, “We spent a few months hammering out our goals, setting up the blog, pondering buttons and banners, and we’re finally ready to go live. Thanks to Monica at Monniblog, we have an awesome banner and some rockin’ buttons!”

The Rules:

1. Sign up and establish your reading goal, which must be a minimum of 5 books in 12 months; Don’t worry you can do it.

2. If you sign up by Jan. 31, 2009, and meet or exceed your reading goal for the challenge, you will be entered into a drawing for one of the prizes, which are to be determined.

3. Grab one of Monica’s ROCKIN’ Buttons:

4. Check out the list of WWII books, we’ve compiled (OK, mostly Anna compiled this list–Way to Go!)

5. If you have comments, suggestions, book suggestions, or just want to chat about the blog, books, WWII, or whatever, send an email to warthroughgenerations AT gmail DOT com or stop by the blog.

P.S. The blog won’t just be a reading challenge, we’re also planning on posting personal war stories, newsworthy stories, and other discussions. Feel free to contribute.

Winner and Some Updates!


Out of only 18 entrants, the lucky winner picked by Randomizer.org is #9, Marvin D. Wilson!

Congrats to Marvin. All those extra entries have paid off for you.

In other news, here’s an update for my Fall Into Reading Challenge:

Click on the ones with ** to see my reviews.

Here’s the list of books I plan on reading for the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008:

1. A Grave in the Air by Stephen Henighan **
2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland **
3. Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith**
4. Sex at Noon Taxes by Sally Van Doren**
5. The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel**
6. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
7. The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa
8. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore **
9. Black Flies by Shannon Burke **
10. Freeman Walker by David Allan Cates
11. Falling Under by Danielle Younge-Ullman
12. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby **
13. Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe **
14. Testimony by Anita Shreve**
15. Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds **
16. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White **
17. The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman **
18. Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach **
19. Conscience Point by Erica Abeel
20. Off the Menu by Christine Son **
21. Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles **
22. Owen Fiddler by Marvin D. Wilson
23. Open Slowly by Dayle Furlong
24. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
25. Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek
26. Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken
27. The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
28. Cooperative Village by Frances Madeson
29. Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib by Larry C. James

Fall Into Reading 2008 Update 2

I wanted to share with you my list and which books I’ve already read! (Those will have **) Click on the ones with ** to see my reviews.

Here’s the list of books I plan on reading for the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008:

1. A Grave in the Air by Stephen Henighan **
2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland **
3. Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith**
4. Sex at Noon Taxes by Sally Van Doren**
5. The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel**
6. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
7. The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa
8. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
9. Black Flies by Shannon Burke **
10. Freeman Walker by David Allan Cates
11. Falling Under by Danielle Younge-Ullman
12. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
13. Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
14. Testimony by Anita Shreve**
15. Pemberly by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds
16. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
17. The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman
18. Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach
19. Conscience Point by Erica Abeel
20. Off the Menu by Christine Son
21. Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles

Check out the additions! I’m on a roll.

***Another giveaway from Savvy Verse & Wit. Win a copy of The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel! Go here, follow the rules, and enter.

Fall Into Reading 2008 Update

Is it too early for a Fall Into Reading Update? I hope not. I wanted to share with you my list and which books I’ve already read! (Those will have **) Click on the ones with ** to see my reviews.

Here’s the list of books I plan on reading for the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008:

1. A Grave in the Air by Stephen Henighan **
2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland **
3. Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith
4. Sex at Noon Taxes by Sally Van Doren
5. The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel
6. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
7. The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa
8. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore
9. Black Flies by Shannon Burke **
10. Freeman Walker by David Allan Cates
11. Falling Under by Danielle Younge-Ullman
12. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
13. Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
14. Testimony by Anita Shreve

Some of you may notice that some of the books have changed. I guess that’s because I have to prioritize my obligations. So I switched out a couple with some others…Can you guess which ones?

Fall Into Reading 2008


I normally don’t join challenges because they are time-consuming, but Fall Into Reading 2008 caught my eye.

Here’s the rules:

1. Set reading goals for yourself and create a list of books to read this Fall.

2. All books are eligible and there is no limit to how many or how few you choose to read.

3. Leave a link to the post where you list your goals and books on Mr. Linky, here.

4. Check out the lists of other participants, write reviews of the books if you like, and commit to writing a wrap-up post in December.

View the official ins and outs of the challenge at Callapidder Days.

Here’s the list of books I plan on reading for the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008:

1. A Grave in the Air by Stephen Henighan
2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
3. Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith
4. Sex at Noon Taxes by Sally Van Doren
5. Owen Fiddler by Marvin D. Wilson
6. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
7. The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa
8. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore
9. Black Flies by Shannon Burke
10. Freeman Walker by David Allan Cates
11. Off the Menu by Christine Son
12. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
13. Cold Rock River by J. L. Miles

Just another reminder about the 2008 National Book Festival, feel free to check it out if you are in the neighborhood or the podcasts of the authors, here.

Do you have little ones at home? Check out the Children’s toolkit.

Here’s a list of the authors that are attending.

Finally, a link to the Pavilions.

Baby Proof. Not Bulletproof

Emily Giffin’s Baby Proof chronicles the struggles of one woman, Claudia Parr, who decides that she never wants to have children and how it impacts her relationships with her family, her friends, and her love life. I picked up this book as part of the Irresistible Review Challenge, and it is my last book to complete the challenge. I chose this book because it has gotten mixed reviews from some fellow book bloggers. I first saw this at the Written Word and her review was unfavorable, and a review from This Redhead Reads was equally unfavorable. I have not seen any positive reviews of the book, but that rarely turns me off from reading books that I believe to have an interesting premise.

Claudia Parr does not want children, and this decision impacts her relationships. She has taken the view on life that marriage and children are interlinked because when she meets a man, they automatically write her off because she does not want children. Then she meets Ben, her soul mate, and they both want the same childless life…or so she thinks. I’m not telling you anything you won’t find out from the book jacket.

***Spoiler Alert***

Ben and Claudia get married and travel spontaneously until their good friends get pregnant, and Ben changes his mind, decides he wants kids, and that Claudia should want them too. She does not feel the same way and is angry with him for breaking their deal, and she leaves their shared apartment to move back in with her friend. Soon she and her husband are engaged in divorce proceedings, and there is little discussion between the two about children, their marriage, or wanting to salvage their relationship, despite the fact that they believe they are soul mates.

Meanwhile, you learn that her mother left her and her sisters with their father…and that she is not very maternal. Claudia is more like her mother than she wishes to admit. Unfortunately, the problems grow worse as Daphne, her sister who is unable to become pregnant, asks Claudia to donate her eggs, and her other sister Maura continues to struggle with her unfaithful husband and being the perfect suburban mom.

***End Spoiler***

This book could have lost some weight, maybe about 100 pages or so. I wanted to skip through some large sections of the book, but held back from doing so.

The resolution of this book is unsatisfying. Claudia has done little to change her behavior and how she reacts to obstacles. While her conclusion about her relationships with her sisters and her ex-husband may be satisfactory under traditional societal norms, many of those women that determine they do not want children may be angered by the ending. I, on the other hand, am not angered by the ending so much as the lack of consistency in the character and Claudia’s inability to understand herself and really examine her identity in depth before making life altering decisions. Her indecision and in ability to engage in introspection, especially when it comes to her marriage, is mind boggling to me. I have not read any other Emily Giffin books, and this is probably not the one I should have started with. Other bloggers and friends have said that they love Giffin’s books.

Also Reviewed Here:
Book Escape

To Adore


To Adore: to worship or admire as divine or as a deity; to be very fond of

Mary E. Pearson‘s The Adoration of Jenna Fox begins with a teenager who wakes up from a coma to discover she has no memory of her life or her “accident.” But the story is much more than Jenna’s struggle to find her identity and reclaim her past. The novel examines how one person’s struggle with identity can impact a family, friends, and even people s/he doesn’t know.

***Spoiler Alert***

Jenna Fox is a teenager severely injured in an accident, and many medical professionals presumed she would die. However, through significant risk and determination, Jenna survives and awakens from a coma. She doesn’t understand the world she awakens in; a new home in a new state and a place where her grandmother doesn’t look at her in the same way. Jenna grows uneasy with the life she now leads, seeking greater freedom for herself. She makes friends again, returns to school, and learns the biggest secret of her life.

It is clear from the videos Jenna watches to regain her memories that her parents adored her, but they seem to have adored her to the point that she was perfection in their eyes, rather than their daughter–an imperfect teenager. She felt adored; she felt like she had to be perfect. I wondered if this is why the accident occurred–she wanted to break free from the perfect mold she had become. She feels guilt over her decision, and she even expresses her desire to break free before the accident. Jenna seems to ask the same question of herself; did the accident happen because her parents adored her too much and she merely wanted to be normal?

***End Spoiler Alert***

I will not go into the secret or any of the pertinent details leading up to the secret, but I will mention that I uncovered it long before it was revealed. However, I don’t think that this detracts from the overall examination of human identity and acceptance within society for those things that are not easily understood or explained.

I read this book fervently over the last week. There are so many nuances in this society that Pearson created, and each of those nuances could be discussed numerous times over.

But the one question that sticks in my mind is how far would you go to save your child when all hope is lost? I know many parents would say they would do anything to save their child, but it makes me wonder whether those decisions are made for the right reasons or for selfish ones…at least partially.

I wonder if the parents in this book thought about how their decisions would impact Jenna and her life, or if they merely wanted to save their child because she was their only child and their miracle child. However, no parent wishes to die before their child, nor to witness the death of their child. The dichotomy of this point is likely to haunt me for some time. I don’t have an answer to my own question, but I would love to hear your answers.

Yes, this is my 7th book for the Irresistible Review Challenge, which means I am nearly done with my first challenge. I first saw a review for this book here at A Patchwork of Books, which is also where I won the book. Thanks so much to Amanda’s generosity.

Anyone else reviewing this book, please leave me your link and I will add it to this post.

Also Reviewed Here:
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Hidden Side of the Leaf
It’s All About Books
Maw Books
Valentina’s Room
The Compulsive Reader
Eva’s Book Addiction (contains spoilers)
I heart reading
Karin’s Book Nook
Bookworm 4 life (contains spoilers in the quotes)
Book Obsession
Melissa’s Book Reviews
Library Queue
Life in the Thumb
Regular Rumination
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’

More Than Stolen Books


Markus Zusak‘s The Book Thief is another book that qualifies for the Irresistible Review Challenge. I found this book on The Hidden Side of the Leaf blog and a number of others. Only one more book to go for this challenge.

I want to start off by saying, this was not a book I instantly loved. I had trouble getting into the story for the first 80 pages are so because of the disjointed and disruptive narrator. I now understand the reason for the interruptions, given the narrator’s identity, but I still was not overly thrilled with it, particularly when major plot points, like which characters will die, are given away before the story comes up several chapters later.

***Spoiler Alert***

Anna and I discussed how given the fact that the narrator is death and we all know that we are going to die someday, it makes sense that Death would tell the reader beforehand what he knows, even though as humans we have no idea when we are going to die…just that we are. Though this explanation eases my irritation, I still think the narration could have been done differently.

The story begins with a young girl’s train ride to Molching. Her brother dies on the train ride and at his funeral, her thievery begins. She steals a gravedigger’s manual. This starts her journey of words and reading. Her mother leaves her with foster parents and never returns, despite all of Leisel’s hopes. However, she grows to love her foster family in the midst of the Nazi’s rise to power. While she is mostly sheltered from the atrocities surrounding her, and joins the Youth Hitler Group, she still remains naive in a way. She believes that humans are genuinely good, even though she and her friend, Rudy Steiner, steal apples and other items from friends, neighbors, and farmers.

She grows up as the war grows stronger and the German armies begin to trudge into Russia and Jews are marched through the streets to concentration camps. It is not until Max Vandenburg arrives on her foster parents’ doorstep. The Jew changes her life. While her Papa taught her to read, Vandenburg teaches her to dream, and the mayor’s wife teachers her to reach for the stars in spite of the sadness that enters her life.

***End Spoiler Alert***

There is a great deal going on in this book, and I would recommend it to young and adult readers. It’s a good work of fiction that takes a look at the German side of the equation present during the Holocaust. The Germans who feared their own government, disagreed with the tactics used, but also agreed that their livelihoods would improve if the Jews were gone. But it also is a story of how these individuals dig into themselves to find the best reaction they can to their given situations. Their humanity in the face of adversity is sometimes troubling, and sometimes admirable. While the book thief, Liesel, is stealing books and words, she is also stealing some of the Fuhrers’ thunder…his ability to use words to spur hate and death.

Anyone who also has reviewed this, please send me the link.

Also Reviewed By:

Austenland, the Theme Park for the Rich


Shannon Hale’s Austenland examines the twentieth century woman’s obsession with Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy, and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Jane Hayes, a very typical first name for a Jane Austenesque novel, is a thirty-something career woman in New York, whose mother is concerned that she has given up on love because of an unhealthy obsession with Mr. Darcy. An impromptu meeting with Jane’s Great Aunt Carolyn changes the course of this woman’s life when she is bequeathed a non-refundable trip to Austenland in England, which traditionally caters to the fantasies of the wealthy, trophy wives of powerful businessmen.

I saw this book on Eclectic Closet and added it to my list of Jane Austen spin-off reads. It also helps fulfill my Irresistable Review Challenge. I have only 2 more books to read to finish off this challenge.

***Spoiler Alert***

Jane is hesitant to take up the task of severing her ties with her Mr. Darcy fantasies in Austenland, but ultimately decides to go and reclaim her “real” self and her ability to have a relationship without worrying about how it would end before it even began.

She is a bit of a crazy character who numbers her boyfriends even if she only spent as little as a few weeks with them. She arrives at Austenland to be lectured by Mrs. Wattlesbrook about her finances and how she is not their typical client and that if she breaks the rules, she will be kicked out. Jane is uncomfortable in Regency clothes and manners from the start. The false manners and pretense grate on her nerves, which is when she begins to seek out some normalcy in Austenland and turns to the gardener, Martin. How cliche in my opinion, but for this book it worked. I was still rooting for Mr. Nobley…aka Mr. Darcy.

Through a series of bungling moments, Jane gets trapped up with Martin and untangled from him. She then falls into the trappings of Austenland and Mr. Nobley. By the time her vacation ends, Jane has grown and changed…become a stronger woman.

***End Spoiler Alert***

I like this book because it is entertaining. Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice are my favorite part of classic literature. I like how Shannon Hale builds up Jane as a lost, romantic career woman who struggles to find her perfect man. I like how skeptical the character is throughout the Austenland experience and how she struggles with herself to stay focused on the act and immersing herself in the role she is expected to play. I also enjoyed how this character learned that she should not have given up her dreams and her artistic outlet of painting, despite her move to graphic design on a computer. Hale does a great job showing the reader how Jane evolves. The final scenes are spectacular and kept me enthralled until its conclusion.

Also Reviewed By:
It’s All About Books (SUEY)
Book Escape
The Written Word
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

Intricately Braided Family Quilt


Helen Frost’s The Braid takes the reader on a simple family journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the strange land of Canada’s Cape Breton in the Mid-1800s, while at the same time allowing us to follow the delicate yarn that stretches across the sea back to Scotland and Mingulay where the rest of the family remains. This book served three purposes for me: first, my Word Nerd partner, Jaimi, was inspired by this book to start her own writing; second, it fulfills the Irresistible Review challenge because I saw the book on two separate blogging sites ages ago—Here and Here; thirdly, it was very entertaining.

It was such an easy read, it only took me two short 15-minute Metro rides. I also didn’t even notice the intricacy of the book, its narrative poems, and its praise poems. Frost’s explanation of how the poems are interwoven together surprised me, perhaps because I was not looking for it or because it was so well done that I was not jarred out of the narrative by its style.

***Spoiler Alert***

Jeannie and Sarah are close sisters, who are separated by the Atlantic Ocean when Sarah makes a rash decision to hide away while the rest of the family boards a boat for Canada. Sarah stays behind in Scotland with her grandmother, while Jeannie boards the boat with her other sisters, brother, and parents.

Jeannie must step up to the plate in the New World and help provide for her family by begging strangers for food and shelter. She finds strength within herself. Sarah meanwhile succumbs to her emotional weakness, but turns out to be a positive for her. Jeannie, on the other hand, then transitions from an “adult” back to her childlike self.

***End Spoiler Alert***

This is another Young Adult novel that I would never have read without the advice of some great book bloggers and my Word Nerd partner. Helen Frost is a very creative author and this book is a simple story told in a unique way. I would love to recommend this to anyone who likes Young Adult novels and to those who just want a breath of fresh air.

Anyone else who has reviewed this or other books I have reviewed in the past couple months, please feel free to drop me your link. I will add it to my posts.