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Showing posts from April, 2015

Z is for Ze Rest of Ze List featuring Dolly Parton

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is for ze rest of ze list!

For this year's A to Z Challenge I featured books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.



Today's post details all the categories that didn't fit under A to Y!

A book with more than 500 pages: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A classic romance: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

A book that became a movie: The Human Comedy by William Saroyan

A book written by someone under 30: Liza of Lambeth by Somerset Maugham

A funny book: Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico

A book you started but never finished: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

A nonfiction book: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

A popular author's first book: Something Wrong (horror stories) by Edith Nesbit (1893!)

A Pulitzer Prize winning book: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

A book that scares you: 1984 by George Orwell

A memoir: Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry

A play: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

A book that came out the year you wer…

Y is for FairY Tales or Not-Young Books

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is for fairY tales...

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book more than 100 years old.

I have a few such books in our library, but most are in storage! I thought it might be fun to talk about fairy tales instead.

Here are a few of my favourite authors:

Hans Christian Andersen


My favourite story: The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf


Andrew Lang

The coloured fairy books! (sorry, upside down again)I happily own all of them, but could only bring one with us, unfortunately.
My favourite story: from the Nursery Rhyme book, Ken Ye the Rhyme to Porringer? (because of the Gaiman Tolkien connection!)


The Brothers Grimm


My favourite story: The Six Swans


Charles Perrault


My favourite story: Puss in Boots


There're also Walter de la Mare, Eleanor Farjeon, Edward Lear, and many other authors.


ROW80 in brief!: I have a couple of days off work coming up. And so many exciting A to Z blog posts to catch up on!

Which fairy tales do …

X is for X-Files

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is for X-Files.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book based on or turned into a TV show: The X-Files!

I only ever read the first two X-Files novels, Goblins and Whirlwind. They were fun, but didn't compare to watching Mulder and Scully, of course.

I wonder if the show would have the same effect if I watched it now? When it first aired, it was on so late that after we watched it, my sister and I would turn on the lights all the way up the stairs to bed, because we were scared to be in the dark. Just thinking about the Peacock family episode still frightens me no end.

Someone's probably made this comparison before, but in a way the earliest X-Files episodes were like Doctor Who - there was a central core of disbelief, and once you'd willingly suspended into that, the fun and excitement and unassuming cheesiness was there for the taking. I was watching a lot of the old Doctor Who episodes i…

W is for Watership Down and the Library Book Sale

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is for Watership Down.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.


Today's book is a book with nonhuman characters: Watership Down by Richard Adams.



There's also a sequel, Tales from Watership Down.



Both books are about the adventures of a group of rabbits, led by two brothers called Fiver and Hazel, who are forced to leave their warren and find a new home. "The story follows a warren of Berkshire rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home by a land developer. As they search for a safe haven, skirting danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band and its compelling culture and mythos. Adams has crafted a touching, involving world in the dirt and scrub of the English countryside, complete with its own folk history and language (the book comes with a "lapine" glossary, a guide to rabbitese)" (from Amazon)

There's a brilliant recent interview with Adams in the Telegraph.

I also glanced at …

V is for Mandalas by Wendy Piersall

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is for very many colours!

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book with a colour in the title. I've been reading a few Usborne touchy-feely books in the past year, which are full of colours:

The colours, children!
Mainly, though, I'm reposting part of a recent book review blogpost. But I'd like to insert a brief note here with regard to the 100th anniversary of ANZAC day, today. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields in Turkey:

"Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons ar…

U is for Ulysses by James Joyce

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is for Ulysses.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book with a one-word title: Ulysses by James Joyce. I've blogged about Joyce twice before, including him in a list of intimidating books and noting that his works are now public domain (which seems scary!) and that the first book of his I read was A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I first read it in my early teens. I had a sweatshirt that featured Joyce and jokingly referred to Samuel Beckett going out in the middle of the night to get pizzas.

I mentioned then that I've read Ulysses! It took me a year - I read a chapter each Sunday (or so). After each chapter, I read the corresponding chapter in Stuart Gilbert's James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study. Is it really possible to read Ulysses without any help at all? I haven't tried Finnegan's Wake yet... A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is still my favourite of his writing.

T is for Tolkien and Children's Day

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is for Tolkien!

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.



Today's book is a book from an author you love that you haven't read yet. Hard to believe there's any Tolkien book I haven't read (never mind that I haven't yet had time to finish his translation of Beowulf released last year, especially because I'd like to compare it to the last translation I read, which was Seamus Heaney's), but there is one book:

Songs for the Philologists
Here is the Tolkien Library description:

"In Leeds, J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon founded a "Viking Club" for undergraduates devoted mainly to reading Old Norse sagas and drinking beer. It was for this club that Tolkien and Gordon originally wrote their Songs for the Philologists, a set of duplicated typescripts, containing a mixture of traditional songs and original verses translated into Old English, Old Norse and Gothic to fit traditional English tunes.

In…

S is for Sandman and Theories of Time Travel and Collating Gaiman Blogs

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is for Sandman.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a graphic novel: The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman.

I'm trying to think of a way to describe this in the shortest possible terms to anyone who might not have heard of it. The Sandman (Dream) is one of the Endless, along with Death, Desire, Despair, and so on. They're like angels, in that they can intervene in individual human lives, and also like Greek or Norse gods, in that they not only intervene but sometimes see their plans go awry.

Here's the Sandman Wikipedia page for the nuts and bolts of the comic, the reading order and so on.

One of the many reasons I love this series (and I'm still only on book eight of the collected volumes!) is the seamless weaving of history, myth, mythology, and character development. Because I have read a limited amount of fantasy and science fiction, and because I'm a Tolkien and Gabaldon fan, I tend …

R is for Ruth Chew and Iain Lawrence

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is for Ruth Chew.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book with magic. Of course there's Harry Potter and books by E. Nesbit, Susan Cooper, L. M. Boston, Alan Garner, and all sorts of other authors. But I don't think I've ever mentioned Ruth Chew on the blog before. She's the author of The Wednesday Witch and many other books. I've only ever read one: Second-hand Magic.



I never really sought out her other books because, actually, this one disturbed me a bit. The magic was a bit reckless, if I remember correctly, and the kids didn't always seem to be enjoying themselves.

I'd like to reread it and see if my impressions have changed.

Another book with magical elements, which I preferred, is Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence, set during World War I.



The main character Johnny's father sends him carved soldiers with every letter he writes home from the front. But the…

Q is for Quitting

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is for quitting.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't. That is, a book that you quit reading. Except that I'm going to mention one I did the opposite with - not only did I read Shane by Jack Schaefer, I read it again a few years later! Why, you ask?

The answer's in an ancient blog post of mine featuring a meme on books and reading. Reposting the main questions here, with comments in square brackets:

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Usually anything by a first-time author who's "essentially Canadian" or who's an ethnic Canadian and has just written something scathing or revealing about their homeland. Boo-ooring! [This is very odd. The tone doesn't sound like me at all. I wonder which book I was thinking of?]

If you could bring three characters to life for a so…

P is for Porno

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is for Porno. No, not what you're thinking!

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is one that was originally written in a different language. I'm fudging things a bit and including Porno by Irvine Welsh, the sequel to Trainspotting. They're written in English, of course, but the Scottish characters' accents and word usage are spelled phonetically.

I picked up the book at the Salon du Livre in Geneva last spring, where I met Irvine Welsh!

Here's what I reported at the time:
I couldn't think of an intelligent question. One person asked if there'll be a sequel to the Trainspotting movie and the short answer is maybe. The intriguing bit was that, apparently, a little while ago, Welsh and Danny Boyle and a couple of others locked themselves into an Edinburgh apartment for a week to talk about the books and the movie and see if they could start hashing out script ideas. That would have b…

O is for Outlander

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is for Outlander.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.


Today's book is one set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.



I've noted before that if it wasn't for Outlander my life would be very different:
A great book affects you not only at an emotional level - when you can't let go of the characters - or at a mental level - when you learn new words and information at every reread - but at a life level.
It's a stack of dominoes - if I hadn't read Outlander, I wouldn't have joined the (awesome!) Compuserve Books and Writers Community (and its group of wonderful readers and writers!). If I hadn't joined the Forum, I wouldn't have started taking my writing seriously. Imagine, I used to finish a story or novel and just leave it by the wayside. Now I've got two fully edited novels - one out on queries! - and I'm in the process of overhauling [four more]. …

N is for The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

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is for The Nature of the Beast.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.



Today's book is a mystery or thriller: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny.

Except that this isn't a book I've read, it's a book I'm eagerly anticipating!

The last time I mentioned Louise Penny's series of mysteries featuring Inspector Gamache, I noted that I'd "been lost in the village of Three Pines created by Louise Penny, reading about Inspector Armand Gamache, his team, and the inhabitants of that village. The food! The drinks! The depth of character -- one of those books where the setting is just as much a character as the people. The Eastern Townships region of Quebec (and Quebec City) comes alive, in all four seasons. I've already ordered the last four books in the series and am haunting our mailbox."

The reading order of the books, bottom up, is:


Now I've read all of them and am looking forward to t…

M is for Metroland

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is for Metroland.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.

Today's book is a book with a love triangle: Metroland by Julian Barnes

I included Barnes in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, especially as he's a Francophile the way I'm an Anglophile, so I feel a certain kinship (as much as you can with an author you haven't met!).

This was maybe the third or fourth book of his that I read (the first was The History of the World in 101/2 Chapters and I was hooked after the first chapter). Metroland is one of those dark suburban tales of accepting life. Inevitably, perhaps, there was a sequel, Love, Etc., which features the characters railing against what they thought they'd accepted. Does that make any sense?

Here's the Amazon description:

"Christopher and Toni found in each other the perfect companion for that universal adolescent pastime: smirking at the world as you find it. In between training as flaneurs and…