It’s Tuesday…Where are you? (Jan. 13)

tuesdaywhereareyouIt’s my first morning back in Pakistan after a year in San Francisco.  Last year, I got lost while trying to climb K2 and wandered into the village of Korphe.  I was impressed by the children, who gathered outside even on the days they had no teacher and scratched their lessons in the dirt. So I promised to build a school. During the past year I’ve worked as an ER nurse, slept in my car, and written 580 letters to politicians and celebrities, asking for donations. Now it’s time to fulfill my promise. (Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin).



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The Sunday Salon: My first challenges

The Sunday


2009themedreading-278x3001My first new read of the New Year falls within the parameters of the Themed Reading challenge, which asks readers to pull books from their TBR stack that share a common theme. I chose Latino authors, as I have an ample supply of qualifiers.

So Far From God by Ana Castillo, written in 1993, has become required reading for some literature courses and is considered a breakthrough novel on Chicano life. Set in the small New Mexico town of Tome, the book tells the story of Dona Sofia and her four daughters, each with her own unique abilities – and tragedies. I’m loving the book, with all its Spanglish and references to both Mexican and Native American cuisine, healing arts, spiritual beliefs, and traditions.

The novel also explores the determination of women, as Sofia organizes her neighbors to preserve their heritage and improve their existence by building, bartering, and engaging in enterprises as a community. The long, descriptive chapter titles remind me of Jorge Amado, whose Gabriella, Clove and Cinnamon I will probably read next for this challenge.

well-seasoned-readerFor the Well-Seasoned Reader challenge, I am listening to Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. I’ve had the book for some time, but decided to check out the audio version.

The book recounts the adventures of  Greg Mortenson, a trauma nurse by profession and mountaineer by choice. While descending from an unsuccessful climb up K2 in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains, Mortenson wanders into the small village of Korphe. He promises to build a school and ends up building 51 of them, especially for girls, as a tribute to his sister. This is a story I’ve been looking forward to reading – or hearing, as it turns out – and so far it’s wonderful.


Filed under audiobooks, award winners, book chat, Challenges, Latin American authors, magic realism, Nonfiction, Salon Sundays

Booking Through Thursday – 2008 Faves

I took a break from my book blog over the holidays, but not from reading. I’ll catch up soon. Meanwhile, this week’s question from Booking Through Thursday is:

It’s a week or two later than you’d expect, and it may be almost a trite question, but … what were your favorite books from 2008?

I didn’t keep a reading list this year, and I began my book blog toward the end of 2008, but I’d already considered this question. One book stands out.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith
I quickly fell in love with the  No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which I discovered in 2007. I’d never heard of the series until I found Celestine Viate’s trilogy. The cover of the third book, Tiare in Bloom, included a quote: “A delightful diversion – redolent of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.”

I bought the first book in the series, then used a 40% off coupon to buy a boxed set of the first five books (and later gave away the first one to a deserving friend.) I was hooked. I listened to a couple of audiobooks of subsequent releases because I read that the audio versions added a delightful new dimension, and it was fun to hear the names pronounced correctly.

Anthony Minghella made a pilot episode for the BBC, which aired on Easter Sunday of last year, only a week or so after Minghella’s death. As I understand it, HBO had contracted a series for U.S. viewers and will show the pilot here this spring. Now that I’ve listened, I can’t wait to watch. I don’t have HBO, but surely a DVD is in the future.

Minghella talks about why he wanted to make the film – and also perfectly describes why I love the books – here. Please take a peek, those of you who enjoy exploring other cultures.

Speaking of other cultures, another favorite of last year was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I purchased the book when it was first published, but never read it. Finally, I listened to a superb audio version last year.

Other books that I enjoyed, in no particular order and with no description, because they are easy enough to find:

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

The Girl with No Shadow by JoAnne Harris
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle
The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce
Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip


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It’s Tuesday. Where are you? (Dec. 16, 2008)

tuesdaywhereareyouI found a fun site that asks you to share where your reading is taking you today – have you met some interesting people?

This Tuesday, I am 26 years old and have moved back to my rich family’s home in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s 1966 – the Civil Rights era – and fueled by gin, I am working with a theater group that has begun to cast black people in plays. I’m finally making my break from the bourgeoisie. I’ve studied creative writing under Eudora Welty and am transforming from a bored housewife into a playwright. (Ellen Gilchrist, The Writing Life)

In my car, I’m in 16th-century Chile with Doña Inés Suárez and Don Pedro de Valdivia, helping conquer a country by subjecting its indigeneous peoples to unimaginable violence and atrocities. But with care and compassion – in a healing, loving way, of course. (audiobook of Inés of My Soul by Isabel Allende)

Where are you and what are you up to in your reading?

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Sunday Salon

The Sunday Salon.comWhat a week! The toilet didn’t fall through the floor, and I am happy about that.

I finished the contemporary fantasy I began last week, Solstice Wood, and I enjoyed it much. I need to pay more attention to this genre. It was a good story, and Patricia A. McKillip writes so well. I understand why she’s won awards.

 Now I’m reading The Writing Life by Ellen Gilchrist.  Her essays are wonderful and are just the dose of non-fiction I needed. I found it at the used bookstore I frequent.

I’m well into Ines of My Soul, the audio book I’m listening to. A good historical fiction novel, and the reader  is excellent.

In the used bookstore, I picked up a hard copy of  Thirteen Senses by Victor Villasenor. Reviewers suggest reading Rain of Gold first, but I won’t. If I like Thirteen Senses, I’ll go backward and read the others. I also found a hard copy of City of the Beasts, a YA book that I considered for my friend Susan’s daughter. But the reviews are so mixed on this one, so I’m not sure.

Happy reading to all!


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Musing Mondays: When Do I Begin?

This week’s question:

musing_mondays_big1How long do you wait after finishing a book before you pick/start another one? How many books do you have planned ahead or do you pick up random books from your tbr pile (if you have one)? Do you review right away or keep reading and come back to it later?

Since I often finish books at night, I begin new ones the following night – or day, if it’s the weekend. Although I supposedly plan ahead, I often end up picking out something different from my stack. I’m going to abolish my Top 10 TBR widget for that very reason! The book I”m reading now was nowhere near my Top 10 list, but I was in the mood for it.

I haven’t written any in-depth reviews yet, but I’ve shared opinions, and it’s always been later. I don’t finish a book and head for the computer!

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Sunday Salon (Dec. 7)

The Sunday

This week I finished Something Rising (Light and Swift) by Haven Kimmel. Although I’ll read other works by the author, I can’t recommend this one. It doesn’t touch A Girl Named Zippy (which I listened to). Something Rising never took off in the second half, as reviews promised. The plot finally thickened and the pace picked up in the last 50 or so pages, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but it took too long to get there.

Now I’m about three-quarters of the way through Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip. This seems an appropriate time of year to read it, although the title refers to the summer solstice, not winter. I rarely read fantasy, but I do enjoy the genre when the story is set in contemporary times, as this book is, and the fantasy isn’t overwhelming. In the late summer and early fall, I read three such books: The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce, an intriguing novel with a touch of fantasy, and two books by Lisa Tuttle, The Silver Bough and The Mysteries, my favorite of the two. The latter was more a detective story with elements of fantasy woven into the tale. Solstice Wood is pretty good, too. Until this recent surge of interest, I probably hadn’t read fantasy in a decade – unless The Time Traveler’s Wife qualifies. It’s a pleasant change of pace.

My current audio book is Isabel Allende’s Ines of My Soul. I listen to audio books only in my car, and with my short commute to work and the limited driving I do around town, it takes me awhile to hear a book – except when I go out of town, of course, which I often do. I’m almost through the second of nine discs, and it’s a good story so far.

I’ve discovered that I really enjoy listening to books set in foreign lands (Memoirs of a Geisha, A Thousand Splendid Suns) because I don’t have to stumble over the pronunciation of names and words . Were I reading this book, I’d be pronouncing Ines with a long i instead of a long e, for example, and I’m sure I’d have difficulty with which syllables to accent, as my Spanish is limited.  Although I’ve read several of Allende’s books, this is the first time I’ve listened to one.

Hope everyone has a good week ahead and enjoys the season of lights during these long nights!

Edit 12/08: I suppose I should have mentioned the Harry Potter books when mentioning fantasy. I read all of them.


Filed under fantasy, Latin American authors, The Sunday Salon