Monday, March 29, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

With the movie as an inspiration, I decided to read Alice in Wonderland for the first time in my life. As a woman in her early forties, I figured it was about time I read this children's classic as it has been sitting on my book shelf for about five years or longer.

In seven words I found this book: Interesting, curious, bizarre, dreamy, colorful, mad, complicated. The illustrations were one of the best parts of the story to me. It makes everything in the story seem so whimsical. By the end of the story the Queen was getting on my nerves. All she could say was "Off With Her Head". I was beginning to wonder if the queen's record had a scratch or two. It was all good though because Alice's head remains on her shoulders and she lives another day to return down the rabbit hole for another adventure.

Which leads me to one of my next books. You can't read Alice in Wonderland without reading Alice Through the Looking Glass. Of course my book didn't have both stories in it and so I will soon follow Alice through the looking glass once I find the book.

Then I plan to read The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. Check out the website for this book and the next in the series. This story is about Alyss Heart, heir to the wonderland throne, who escapes from wonderland to find herself in London where she meets aspiring author Lewis Carroll. Lewis listens to her story, writes in down completely wrong even misspelling her name. The book cover states it will challenge our assumptions about wonderland and showcase an endless war for Imagination. I Can't Wait To Read It!

Then there is the movie! Well I will watch that at home when it arrives in DVD and after I have absorbed the content of these great books. If I see the film to soon, I won't enjoy it because I will constantly compare it to the book and you know the book is always, always better.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Clear Light of Day

Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai
This book was published in 1980 and it is the first book I have read by Anita Desai. Anita Desai has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice in her writing career. She teaches at a college in India and I find it odd that I have never picked a book by this author before now. A few years ago I read a book by Anita Desai's daughter named The Inheritance of Loss. Kiran Desai did win the Booker Prize for it. In fact the whole time I was reading Clear Light of Day, I thought the books were by the same author. Their writing styles and some of the themes were very similar.

I happened to like Clear Light of Day, a story of siblings at the time of the partition of India, better than The Inheritance of Loss. Both were complicated and contained vague mentions of Indian history. Unfortunatly I don't have a broad knowledge base of India and so couldn't quite understand all the nuances of history in each of the novels. I needed more historical detail!

I am not sure what it is but the Desai's and I don't seem to make a good author/reader connection. While I liked this story, I just wasn't riveted nor did I see the broader connection to India's history probably because the author didn't give me enough information. Darn it, I really tried to like it but she just didn't have me at hello like other books do.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to Break a Dragon's Heart

How to Break a Dragon's Heart by Cressida Cowell

I just ordered Cressida Cowell's 8th book in the Hiccup Horrendous Haddock The Third series today from the UK. It is unavailable in the United States because it has not been published here yet. My son, Max and I hold our breath until the next book in the series comes out so what a relief when I discovered it. He has no idea it is coming and it will magically appear in his Easter Basket. Mommy will be adorned with hugs and kisses as the hero of the day. I love it when my son is excited about a book and we have loved every book in this series.

The movie version of the first and second books is being released this month and we will be first in line to see it. The movie title is How to Train your Dragon. My advice is to read the book first with your kids, you will all fall asleep with a smile on your face.

Check out the author website at
This is an awesome series for boys and reluctant readers. Thank you MS. Cressida Cowell for writing such fabulous books. Only thing I am wondering is if you can write any faster. Well, I suppose you can't. I guess we will just have to reread them.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Minnpost's Book Club Blast

Minnpost's Book Club Blast on Sunday March 7th, 2010

I have to say I had an excellent time at Sunday's book club blast held at the Loft Literary Center in downtown Minneapolis, MN. I was one of the last people to sign up and am fortunate my friend Mary got me out of bed to do it.

We started the event with snacks and a meet and mingle event. This is when authors walk around talking to people about the books they have just published. It was fun to meet a variety of authors with books I hadn't heard of yet. I met Elissa Elliott, who wrote Eve, Catherine Watson, a travel writer, Candace Simar whose new book is called Abercrombie Trail (It looks really enticing) and Marisha Chamberlain whose new book is titled The Rose Variations(the cover is really beautiful) and Gayla Marty who wrote a memoir titled Memory of Trees. While I was talking to Gayla Marty two women walked by and touched my shoulder, telling me how much they loved my books. I laughed and said thanks, and then two more women came over and made the same comment, then when I said it was a case of mistaken identity, they asked if I was "Her" daughter. The author they are referring to is Lorna Landvik, the afternoon's keynote speaker. I have been frequently mistaken for Lorna Landvik as our names are very similar. Her daughter even attended the high school where I teach in Minneapolis. So mistaken compliments fell on me all day and I appreciate the praise that I hope to receive someday when my own books are on the shelves next to Landviks.

Next we attended author speed chats, kind of like speed dating. We had about 15 minutes with each author. I went to listen to Julie Kramer first, mainly to get a book signed for my mother since that was one of my Christmas gifts to her. Julie Kramer was delightful and fun to listen to, although I am not sure if I will read her books because mysteries that take place near where I live scare me! My mom can look forward to future book gifts from this author though.

The next author I visited was Alison McGhee. She was a soft spoken women who tale of getting published was quite interesting. Another connection was made when I learned that she used to teach Chinese at the high school I currently teach at. She said how much she misses the school and students. Hmmm, maybe we should trade places.

The last author speed chat I attended was Jim Heynen. The atmosphere was cozy and personal as the author read a poem and then asked us what we were into as readers and writers. I got to plug my blog which was great. Heynen said he had been to this blog and read it but I convinced him that he hadn't since no one was publicly following me at the time.

The last event of the day was Lorna Landvik's talk on Book Clubs and Me. She is a hilarious speaker. Go see her if you ever get the chance. So as I rushed home to watch the Oscars, I thought of how much fun this was and I can't wait to do it again. Minnpost please have another Book Club Blast and invite me, plleeaaasseee!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle

The Trasmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle by David Elliott

This is a fun book for kids ages 7-12 and of course for nerdy parents like me who love young adult fiction. I love this book because it has the huge word transmogrification in the title. It was fun to read the word, say the word and learn what the word meant. David Elliot incorporates lots of new words in this book for young readers.

Roscoe Wizzle is a 10 year old kid who lives in a pink house, loves fast food and has begun to turn into a bug. His best friend is a girl who is really smart and teaches him new words and helps him solve the mystery of the book. This book's themes entail the perils of fast food, environmentalism and transmogrification. It is a perfect boy book although my attempts to get my own son to read it have failed. I would highly recommend this book to reluctant readers and for all readers who have metamorphosed into parents.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls is the newest book by Lisa See. I received this complementary copy from Random House publishers on Friday with a bag of Hersey's chocolates. This story is about two sisters in Shanghai right before World War Two. Their father ends up having to sell the girls to American male suitors to pay his gambling debts. Their personal journey's ensue. Personally, I love historical fiction and I am excited to find some time to delve into this story. I loved Lisa See's book "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" so I expect to enjoy this story as well.
Happy Reading!