Friday, February 29, 2008

Unread Authors Challenge--Completed

I finished the Unread Authors Challenge. This is the one I mixed the books up with the Fall into Reading Challenge back in December. My final list was
1.) Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
2.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
3.) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
4.) Rose's Garden by Carrie Brown
5.) Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
6.) A Widow for One Year by John Irving

I have to say I liked them all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Until I read this book, I didn't realize how much is changed for the movies. The monster is not named Frankenstein. He is simply called "The Monster." He's brought to life by chemicals, not electricity. But he did want a mate. I always thought that was just a reason for a sequel.

Victor Frankenstein is a young university student who becomes obsessed with learning the secrets of nature. After two years of study, he discovers "the cause and generation of life." After another two years, he brings his creation to life. But it is hideous and Victor flees from it. When he returns to his room the monster is gone. And on his wanderings, the monster begins to kill people because he is feared and can't make human contact because of his appearance.

The story is told in a series of letters from an explorer, Robert Walton to his sister. He finds Victor and rescues him from the frozen north seas. Victor relates his story to Walton.

The first half of the book was difficult to get through. Victor Frankenstein goes through a lot of "woe is me" until he really begins to tell Walton the story of the monster. Once it gets to that point it gets much easier. You begin to understand the motives for the murders and actually begin to feel sorry for the monster.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Playing for Pizza

Playing for Pizza
by John Grisham

Rick Dockery is the worst quarterback in the NFL. In the AFC championship he gets into the game in the last 11 minutes. 17 to 0. And Rick Dockery manags to lose the gane. 17 to 21. Naturally Cleavland is highly PO'd and cuts him from the team.

His agent, Arnie, can't get anyone to even listen to a pitch for a new job for Rick. Except Parma Italy. And even though Rick doesn't know Italian he takes the jub. It would be good for him to get out of the country for a while. He needs out of the media spotlight.

So, it's off to Italy. The Italian league allows 3 NFL players per team. The locals on the team don't get paid. They have day jobs and just play for the love of the game. So, they slowly bring Rick back to the basics he'd lost in the big leagues.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver is a ship's doctor. The book covers 16 years of his adventures at sea. He has gone to the end of the earth and keeps finding strange new countries. There's Lilliput where the people are six inches tall. Next is Brobdignag, where the inhabitants are giants. He finds the flying city of Laputa. And finally the country of Houyhnhnms which is run by a race of intelligent horses who are served by the savage humanoid Yahoos.

Swift writes a satire that covers religion, politics and human nature. It's amusing and thought provoking at the same time. And it was banned. It is critical of the politics of the time. It also critical of the different religions. It was considered wicked and obscene.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fall into Reading Challenge 2007

I'm late posting this. Yeah two months late. Anyway, I did finish the challenge. It ended on Dec. 21st. About a week before it ended I realized I had two more books. (Christmas time-I was busy). I grabbed the last two books for The Unread Arthurs Challenge. Once I realized it I just swapped the titles on the list. I read them for the sole purpose of finishing the challenge so I think they count. Anyway, here's the completed list.

1.) The Locket Ж Richard Paul Evans
2.) Love in the Time of Cholera Ж Gabriel García Márquez
3.) O Pioneers! Ж Willa Cather
4.) Ricochet Ж Sandra Brown
5.) Veronika Decides to Die Ж Paulo Coelho
6.) The Wrong Hostage Ж Elizabeth Lowell

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Pilgrim's Progress

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

"The Pilgrim's Progress" is a Christian allegory. It follows the path of Christian as he tries to find salvation. He is a resident of The City of Destruction. After realizing he has a "heavy burden" he sets off on a quest to find peace.

I found this a very difficult book to read. First published in 1678, it was immensely popular and remained so for two hundred years. But to understand it, you have to know a quite a bit about English religious history. I don't, but the extensive end notes were essential to my understanding. If you read this book, make sure you get a copy with notes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Booking Through Thursday-After the Honeymoon

Booking Through Thursday

Here’s something for Valentine’s Day.

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

I can't say I ever have. However, I have left genres behind. In high school I went through a lot of romance novels and you can barely get me to look at one these days, much less read it. I've had mystery phases and science fiction phases. I get tired of them and move on. But I eventually pick up another book. Just no more romance, thank you very much.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Magnificent Ambersons

The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

1918 Pulitzer Prize

"The Magnificent Ambersons" are a fading family in the Midwest. Once very rich, they were the cream of society. Now, two generations later, their glory is being forgotten as the modern world comes to life.

As life and the town around him changes, young George feels his place is to be a gentleman of leisure.

I loved this book. I hadn't heard of it until Yahoo's Pulitzer_literature group voted to read it. I wasn't looking forward to it. But I was captivated somewhere around the third chapter.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

1986 Pulitzer Prize Winner

"Lonesome Dove" is the story of a cattle drive. Former Texas Rangers Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae run a small cattle outfit in south Texas when an old riding friend shows up. Jake Spoon puts the seed of ambition in Captain Call's head when he begins talking about Montana. Call decides he wants to build the first cattle ranch in what is still the wild west.

So, the Hat Creek Cattle Company set off on a 3,000 mile cattle drive. There's thunderstorms, dust storms, snow storms and a grasshopper storm. They meet old enemies and an old girlfriend. And plenty of rivers to get across.

This is my favorite book. It's truely amazing.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Never on These Shores

Never on These Shores by Stephen R. Pastore

The Aldous Huxley Prize was established in 2005 for speculative, distopic or politico-fantasy writing. "Never on These Shores" is the first (and so far, only) winner.

The book takes the premise that when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the Germans attacked the Atlantic fleet while they were racing to Englands aid. Now, the Japenese are on the west coast, The Germans and Mexicans are coming through Texas, and the Italians are taking Florida. American forces are stranded in Europe and Asia, so women, old men and gays are defending the country as best they can.

It wasn't until the end of the book that I saw this is volume one. It sets up the main characters and the actions both Americans and invaders are beginning. I thouroughly enjoyed the book; I will be watching for Volume II.