Musings and looking ahead

It is my goal every year to read a book a week.  Last year I completed only 40, so I’m hoping this blog will keep me honest.

This was my first blog post last January.  I feel like I’ve come so far since then.  I have become more comfortable in putting myself out there, which was one of my reasons for starting the blog in the first place.  I have a hard time showing my writing to anyone unless it is perfect and complete (you can guess how often this happens!) and this has been a great opportunity for me to write a ‘first draft’ on the fly and send it out to the masses. 

This year has brought some surprises.  I have also learned that it is possible to make friends on the internet.  I ‘see’ some of you more often than I see some of  my best friends.  I did not realize that blogging would be as addicting and as time consuming as it is.  And I found even more book obsessed readers out there than me!  I am not alone 🙂

As for my initial goal of reading a book a week, well, my final count is 96, so obviously, blogging works.  I’ve decided to make my 2009 goal 130 books, at least 30 of those non-fiction.  I did sign up for one challenge and you can keep track of my progress on under 2009 Challenges. 

There are a few things I’m going to try and make happen in 2009 (I’m avoiding the word resolution or goal).  The first thing I’d like to accomplish blogwise and lifewise is getting myself organized.  If I can do this the rest of this will easily follow.  I’d like to host a giveaway and a few author interviews.  I like that you participate in my quizzes, so I might offer prizes here and there just for fun!  I’m going to try an improve the look of my blog-I still haven’t taken the time to figure some of this stuff out.

I think that’s enough.  Thanks for sharing 2008 with me.  I look forward to a great 2009 and hope the year is a great one for you too 🙂

My favorite books of 2008

Only one of these was published in 2008, but since I just read all of them this year it counts for the purpose of this list.  I’ve included the link my review.

5 Stars – Perfection

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen KingCover Image

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott CardCD Audiobook Cover

4 1/2 Stars – Very close to perfect

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

How Not To Write a Novel by Mittlemark & Newman

The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver

Splendor by Brenda Joyce

Fear & Trembling by Amelie Nothomb

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Writers Lost in 2008 Quiz

Thanks for playing!  Check back next Monday.  For my first quiz of 2009 I’ll be offering a small prize 🙂

Here’s how to play…Identify the author and leave a comment with the # and the name and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun!  These authors wrote their final chapters in 2008.

1. Once dubbed “The Queen of the American Gothics” she wrote more than 70 novels and died at age 104. – Phyllis Whitney died on 2/8/08

2. His second (and last) novel made TIME’s 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923-2005.  He committed suicide after suffering from depression for more than 20 years. – David Foster Wallace died 9/12/08

3. In 1994 he became the only artist to have a film, a television series (currently in its last season), and a novel all number one at once.  His first novel was released in 1966 under the pseudonym John Lange and in 1992 he made People’s Most Beautiful People list.  Michael Crichton died 11/4/08-  Elena

4. He was a mystery writer best known for his series about an investigative reporter, memorably played by Chevy Chase in the films.  He also won 2 Edgar Awards. – Gregory McDonald died 9/7/08

5. Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who founded the National Review in 1955.  William Buckley Jr. died 2/28/08Mark

6. She was the only child of a President who wrote biographies of both of her parents as well as a popular murder mystery series set in and around Washington DC.  Margaret Truman died 1/29/08–  Kathy

7. British author of the Flashman series.  George MacDonald Fraser

8. British science fiction writer and inventor.  He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1994, but he is best known for his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick.  He emigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 where he lived until his death.  Arthur C. Clarke died 3/19/08Mark

9. This novelist wrote more than 30 books, 18 of those in his Navajo series.  In World War II he earned  a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.  Tony Hillerman died 10/26/08 Don

10. American author, historian, actor and broadcaster who received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non Fiction in 1985 for The Good War.  He never learned to drive.  Studs Terkel died 10/31/08–  Dave

Fault Line, by Barry Eisler

A NovelFinished 12-27-08, rating 4/5, fiction, to be released 2/09

Fault Line is part political thriller and part family drama with enough sexual tension to make it truly compelling.  Ben, an American assassin between assignments, is called back to Silicon Valley by his estranged brother, Alex.  Alex, a big shot patent lawyer, becomes concerned when two people close to him are killed and someone breaks into his house.  The relationship between the two never recovered from the death of their sister when they were all in high school, but they must now find a way to trust each other.

This book hits on many current trends, cyberwarfare and blogs being the most evident.  Even having the love interest, Sarah, be a Iranian-American made the story feel up-to-the-minute. 

I loved the different political views of each of the characters and how it influenced their actions.  I could identify with them all, which is something more people in the government should take the time to do!

I really liked the book and recommend it.  There is a possibility of a sequel and I am hoping it will happen.  I’d love  to read more about the Treven brothers.

Merry Christmas to Me from Victoria’s Secret!

So this year my husband and I decided to do things a little differently for Christmas gifts to each other.  I went through our drawer that has coupons and gifts cards and found that we had a total of $175 in free money at various stores, so we divided the ‘free money’ and that was our limit.  We opened our gifts with my parents and other family this morning and everything was as expected.  I received a puzzle, lotions, sweater…and then something very exciting happened. 

Jason said one more gift and he left and came back with this…


A Victoria’s Secret Tower of NINE boxes.  He used the scratch off card guaranteeing him $10 and found out it was worth $500!!!!!!!!!  They let him have a personal shopper to help him spend his money and they did a wonderful job.  I cannot even tell you how exciting it was to open all of those boxes.  I am not going to show you what was in them, just know it was embarrassing enough to open them in front of family! 

I hope your Christmas was as exciting as mine 🙂  Also, my husband is wearing 4 pairs of lounge/warm up pants, all of which he received this morning.

Jane Eyre, 1983 movie

Cover Image*****

Okay, this is my third Jane Eyre movie in a few month’s time and it was the best of the three.  Your comments led me to believe it would be and you were right! 

Timothy Dalton was an almost perfect Edward Rochester.  He was harsh, commanding, moody, and dark.  I could listen to that voice all day.  I said almost perfect because he was really too good looking for the role, but there are worse things than a handsome Mr. Rochester so we’ll move on.

I really liked Zelah Clarks as Jane.  She showed Jane’s strength and depth that I found lacking in the other two adaptations. 

The BBC miniseries was four hours long so it was obviously the most thorough of the movies and it was a delight to see how much more was included.  I thought it may have skimped a little on Jane’s time at Lowood School, but it allowed for richer, fuller scenes later.  The production itself seemed dated, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing since Jane Eyre wasn’t written yesterday 🙂

I will probably watch more versions, I hear the latest BBC production is great, but will need to take some time off from Jane and Edward.  I certainly don’t want to tire of them!  As a Jane Eyre fan I was not disappointed with this version and highly recommend it.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

CD Audiobook CoverFinished listening to 12-21-08, rating 5/5, science fiction, pub. 1985

Ender Wigginis a six year old boy who is chosen for Battle School, after his older two siblings failed to make the cut.  He is sent to  school with other children who are the best of the best, but he is quickly established as the brightest hope.   The alien ‘buggers’ had invaded earth before and it is of vital importance that the International Fleet trains Ender in time to save the world from another attack.  Although he only had six years with his family, he is haunted by loving memories of his sister, Valentine, and fear of his brother, Peter and they affect his performance in both positive and negative ways.

Ender is six when he enters battle school and 11 or 12 at the end of the book.  It is easy to forget his age until his vulnerability shines through in his wanting friends or wanting his teachers to like him and it is at these times that your heart breaks for Ender.  The weight of the earth has been put on his small shoulders and at many times he almost breaks from the pressure.

I loved this book.  It was psychological, political, philosophical and just plain fun.  This book is perfect for all ages.  I listened to the Special 20th Anniversary Edition and it was wonderfully done (Of course it was also 10 1/2 hours, so prepare yourself!).

This is the first in the Ender series.

Time’s Top 10 Fiction Books of 2008

Time magazine chose the top 10 fiction books of 2008 ( pecials/2008/top10/article/0,30583,1855948_1864238,00.html) and sadly I have not read any of them.

1. 2666 by Roberto Bolano

2. Lush Life by Richard Price

3. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

4. Anathem by Neal Stephenson

5. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

6. Personal Days by Ed Park

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows

8. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

9. The Graveyard Book by Neal Gaiman

10. The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike

How many have you read?  Would you recommend them?

I’ve looked over the books I’ve read that were published this year and came up with four favorites.  Hold Tightby Harlan Coben,  Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen, Sweet Carolineby Rachel Hauck, and Enemy Combatantby Ed Gaffney.

Do you have a favorite book that came out this year?

Christmas is coming

“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.” –Bing Crosby

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” –Garrison Keillor

“At Christmas, all roads lead home.”  –Marjorie Holmes

Green Goes With Everything, by Sloan Barnett

Cover ImageFinished 12-15-08, rating 3/5, personal/environmental health, pub. 2008

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet

This is a guide to help you clean up your life.  It covers dirt and germs, babies and everything associated with keeping them healthy, food choices, water, air, energy and more.  Barnett was inspired to become educated in the green movement when her son faced a life threatening asthma attack and she was convinced it was due to environmental triggers.  The chapters contain studies and science back up as well as many websites to help you further your knowledge.

I am not a green zealot, but the small things do irritate me.  Things like rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, bottled water, and not recycling are like nails on a chalkboard, and yet I am terribly remiss is turning the TV off (I like the noise and constant stream of news).  This book does a great job of pointing out some of the big things we miss in our lives that have an impact on our health and the environment.

The main problem with the book is a big one.  Barnett is the wife of Shaklee’s CEO and she makes no apologies in recommending their products at every turn.  The only times she does not recommend Shaklee products is when the company does not have a comparable product.  She did provide studies showing the Shaklee products were best in some of these areas, but it was distracting, annoying, and made me question her judgement when she kept pushing Shaklee.  It seemed odd for a book that wants you to make better choices to give you only one in many areas.

On the whole, I think this is a good book.  I took 2 pages of notes and plan on checking out some of the websites mentioned.  It also had tips for around the house that I plan on trying.  Some of the things I already knew – buy organic, read labels, buy new pots and pans… – but it is always good to be reminded  as I seem to get too busy to pay attention and fall back to some bad habits.

I checked this out of the library and that is my recommendation to you, unless you are not familiar with any of these issues.  Then I’d recommend picking up a copy, just be willing to read a lot of hype about Shaklee products.