Thursday, December 4, 2008

BlogTalkRadio - Laura Miller

So I listened to Laura Miller, author of The Magician's Book, this afternoon on Blog Talk Radio. It was really interesting, and I'm enjoying the book so far. Watch for a review coming soon!

Monday, December 1, 2008

book binge

Between conference discounts and 1/2 price day at the library book sale a couple of weeks ago, I went a bit of a book binge. I thought some of you might be interested in the new additions to my library...especially if any of you are interested in Indiana like I am.

Thomas Hart Benton and the Indiana Murals
Greetings from Indiana: Vintage Hoosier Postcards
The Identity of the American Midwest: Essays on Regional History
Indiana Political Heroes
Meredith Nicholson: A Writing Life
Who's Your County Named For?: And Other Hoosier County Facts
First Ladies of Indiana and the Governors
Robert Owen's American Legacy
The Circle: The Center of Indianapolis
Recollections of Sixteen Presidents from Washington to Lincoln
The Play-Party in Indiana
A Bibliography of Booth Tarkington, 1869-1946
Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1816-1916

The Camel Club
The Collectors
Stone Cold

The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century

The library book sale got me the rest of David Baldacci's Camel Club series, which I can't wait to read after finishing Divine Justice (review here).

Does anyone else go haywire at library book sales?

Review : American Buffalo

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella. Spiegel & Grau (2008).
[release date: December 2, 2008]

This was the perfect Thanksgiving time read. The U.S. lays claim to the symbolism of several animals including, of course, the turkey. Then there is the eagle, a symbol of freedom and strength, that beat out the turkey to become our national bird. The buffalo conjures images of the American West and our pioneering spirit. Though the buffalo is fraught with American symbolism, I had never given much thought to its history and relationship to humans.

In American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, Steven Rinella charts the course of this symbolic animal through American, and pre-American, history. After years of fascination with the American buffalo, Rinella won a coveted permit to hunt one in Alaska. American Buffalo begins with his success in the hunt and then takes us back to his first personal encounter with a buffalo.

Rinella is skilled at making the history of the buffalo on the North American continent both interesting and relevant. His search for the buffalo's meaning has taken him across the country several times making for a personal connection throughout his narrative. Interspersed with the buffalo's history is Rinella's hunting tale, which is also compelling. I can't imagine being alone in the wilds of Alaska yet felt as if I were right there beside Rinella.

I grew up in northern Indiana with a hunting father so Rinella's detailed description of his hunt, and more specifically, his kill didn't really bother me. If you are anti-hunting or have a weak stomach, you may have difficulty with some of the later passages in the book. This is just fair warning, however, because I still think you should read this book. Rinella gives great insight into the American buffalo and its ties to our history. I'll be watching for future contributions from this author.

and the winners are...

Sorry for the delay in posting the Divine Justice giveaway winners! The winners (randomly selected by are....


Congratulations, ladies! Thanks to everyone who entered.

EDIT: Sandra wasn't actually interested in this book so I've selected another winner. Congratulations....

Gwendolyn B.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review : The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Picador (2008).

The Uncommon Reader is a clever, witty and insightful look at one person's, namely the Queen of England's, entry into the world of books and reading. Bennett masterfully crafts a tale of what it is like to become immersed, and indeed obsessed, by reading. Through books, the Queen comes to be a more thoughtful observer of the world and the people around her.

One of my favorite passages reminded me of the current interest in what President-Elect Barack Obama is reading. While I've wondered why people care, the following made me realize why it is so important.

"But ma'am must have been briefed, surely?"

"Of course," said the Queen, "but briefing is not reading. In fact it is the antithesis of reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up."

This is why it is so important that our President-Elect reads. In fact, it is why it is so important we all read. Reading helps us grow as people. It allows us to see the wider world around us. The Uncommon Reader is a love letter to reading and its ability to mold a life. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, November 17, 2008

giveaway time!

Now's your chance to win a copy of David Baldacci's Divine Justice! Hachette Book Group has generally offered up to 3 copies for me to give away. For every 15 entries, I'll give away one copy (up to 3, of course) so encourage others to enter!

Here are the rules:
1. Leave a comment on this post for 1 entry. If you don't leave one here, any other "entries" will not count.
2. Leave a comment on my review for 1 additional entry.
3. Blog about this contest for 1 additional entry. Be sure to leave me a link so I know.
4. Twitter about this contest for 1 additional entry. Be sure to include @iubookgirl somewhere in your tweet so I know.
5. Four (4) possible entries per person.

That's a total of 4 possible entries per person. Residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible. Deadline to enter is Wednesday, November 26, 2008 @ 5pm Eastern.

Review : Divine Justice

Divine Justice by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing (2008).
[release date: November 4, 2008]

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a snob about what I call "mass market authors"--those that churn out one or two books a year, typically in a series. Baldacci, however, defied my stereotype. Divine Justice, the newest entry in the Camel Club series, is well-written with solid characters and an interesting plot. Oliver Stone is a former government assassin on the run. Trouble always seems to follow him even as he retreats into rural America. You can tell he is a good man at heart and that makes you root for him. His ragtag group of friends are all equally likable and also mysterious. How did this group come together? Unlike the James Patterson book I just read, I think I would have benefited from reading the previous Camel Club books first. I definitely plan to go back them now. I was up late into the night trying to finish this gripping tale. If you are a David Baldacci fan, you will not be disappointed by Divine Justice. If you are a mystery fan who has yet to discover David Baldacci, you should pick up one of his books right now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Review : We Interrupt This Broadcast

We Interrupt This Broadcast: The Events That Stopped Our Lives...from the Hindenberg Explosion to the Virginia Tech Shootings by Joe Garner. Sourcebooks (2008).

First, a confession: I love Sourcebooks. I think the idea of combining text with related audio is brilliant. I already own two: The Spoken Word Revolution and My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America's Presidents. When the opportunity to review We Interrupt This Broadcast came my way, I jumped at it. Many of the included events happened before I was born or very young, but the author, Joe Garner, provides historical context for the broadcasts. Hearing the actual broadcasts takes you back in time--even if you were never there. As far as I'm concerned, Sourcebooks has hit another homerun when it comes to bringing history to life. If you have an interest in history, journalism, or remember these events firsthand, I highly recommend We Interrupt This Broadcast.

A sampling of events:
- Pearl Harbor Under Attack
- V-E Day: War in Europe Ends
- Sputnik Launced by Soviets
- Marilyn Monroe Dies
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated
- Kent State Massacre
- Elvis Dies
- The Challenger Explodes
- Rodney King Verdict Incites Riots
- Oklahoma City Bombing
- Princess Diana Dies
- Tragedy at Columbine High School
- Hurricane Katrina Floods New Orleans

Review: Cross Country

Cross Country by James Patterson. Little, Brown (2008).
[release date: November 17, 2008]

I've never read a James Patterson book before, but Cross Country can stand on its own. You don't need to be familiar with previous entries in the Alex Cross series to dive into this one. Aside from an irritating overuse of exclamation points, I enjoyed Patterson's novel despite my aversion to what I consider mass market authors. Alex Cross, Washington DC detective, is on the trail of the Tiger, a Nigerian killer for hire. The trail leads him to Africa and horrors Americans can only imagine. The plot and characters are well developed. I especially appreciated his politically-conscious injection of some of the awful things that are happening on the African continent right now. Cross is a likable character who has become accustomed to seeing violence and murder. Africa has a major impact on him and cracks the wall required of any detective. He witnesses police brutality, the horrors of genocide, and the lawlessness that has taken over some areas as his search takes him from Nigeria, to Sierra Leone, to Darfur, and back to Nigeria. Patterson clearly depicts the vastly different world Cross encounters while he hunts the Tiger and the emotional and physical toll it takes on him. If you are in the mood for a mystery with social relevance, pick up James Patterson's Cross Country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Review : What You Should Know About Politics...But Don't

What You Should Know About Politics...But Don't by Jessamyn Conrad. Arcade Publishing (2008).

I wish I'd gotten this book sooner. Jessamyn Conrad has written the first ever non-partisan guide to American politics. While I haven't had the chance to read the entire book yet, Conrad's writing is easy to understand and lends an historical perspective to the issues we care about. As complicated and biased as coverage of political issues is, the need for a non-partisan guide is very real.

If you are slightly puzzled by the workings of the Electoral College or want to know more about any of the issues below, I highly recommend you read this invaluable resource.

Issues covered:
Foreign Policy
Health Care
Civil Liberties
Culture Wars
Socioeconomic Policy
Homeland Security

Sunday, November 2, 2008

October summary

Time to summarize another month's reading...

Wife in the North

Veil of Lies (fave of the month)
The Wordy Shipmates
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters
Chasing Elvis (worst of the month)

Chasing Elvis really slowed me down this month. I hope to bring you more reviews in the month of November. I'm working on Cross Country by James Patterson now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Review : Chasing Elvis

Chasing Elvis by Glenn P. Marcel. Invisible College Press (2004).

The premise of Chasing Elvis sounded interesting to me...a bank robbed by a man dressed as Elvis, another man obsessed with finding Elvis, the daughter who picks up the robber's trail 20 years later, and the possibility the robber really was Elvis. However, in all honesty, I was tempted to stop reading by page 8. The writing seemed awful and the plot in danger of becoming too slapstick. I managed to keep reading and felt it improved over the course of the book, especially once you get to Chapter 9 and the present day. Marcel develops several story lines throughout the book, but with too few clues along the way to indicate them coming together in the end. I finally decided to read each as if it were unrelated to the others. Chasing Elvis became much more interesting to me after making that decision.

Some of Marcel's characters are interesting and have realistic problems. On the other hand, his writing sometimes turns into a public service announcement about issues like plastic surgery and drug use. The various plot lines do eventually come together though a bit late and a bit loosely for my tastes. While Marcel manages to create a few good moments, I wouldn't recommend you read this book. Save your time for a better written and more well constructed novel.

Thanks to Mini Book Expo for sending me this book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

reading update

What are you reading right now?
Chasing Elvis by Glenn P. Marcel

Why are you reading what you're reading? Pleasure? For review? Something else?
For review - I received this one from Mini Book Expo.

What did you recently finish reading?
The last book I finished was Wife in the North. Before that was Veil of Lies, which I REALLY enjoyed.

What do you think you'll be reading next?
I plan to read Quintet unless I get review copies for November releases.

What was the best book you read this month? Why?
Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson. It was the perfect combination of an historical setting with a mysterious plot. Jeri is also a great writer and researcher. Learn more about her at her website.

What was the worst book you read this month? Why?
Hmm, I think I'll reserve my opinion on that until after I finish Chasing Elvis. Watch for a review coming soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1,000 most cataloged books on LT

LibraryThing posted a list of the 1,000 most cataloged books on the site here. A Girl Walks into a Bookstore... thought it would be interesting to see how many of her own books were on the list. I thought so too so I did a quick count....only 60 of my 988 books are on the list.

On the flip side, no one else shares 120 of my books, while only one other person shares 52 of my books. Does that mean I'm unique, eclectic, or just plain weird?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Review : Wife in the North

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly. PublicAffairs (2008).

Inspired by her blog of the same name, Wife in the North is Judith O'Reilly's diary of her life when she and her family moved camp from London to the Northumberland countryside. A true city girl, Judith finds it difficult to adapt to life in the country. This book charts her rollercoaster of emotions as she cares for her two, then three, children (she's pregnant at the outset of the book) all while her husband is largely absent. He's working in London where she wants to be while she's stuck in Northumberland where he wants to be.

Wife in the North has some sweet and touching moments courtesy of the children. They and Judith also provide some comic relieft throughout. However, there are long stretches where it is mostly sad and sometimes uncomfortable as Judith continues to struggle. I found myself wishing not quite halfway through that she would get to move back to London or, what seemed far less likely, fall in love with Northumberland and be truly happy there...and in a hurry. I'll let you read for yourself to see how it all pans out.

If you enjoy memoirs in a diary format, stories of fish out of water, or can commiserate with being the at-home mother of three young children, go ahead and give Wife in the North a try.

Another take:
Traci's Book Bag

Fabulous Halloween Giveaway!

A couple of bloggers are hosting a fabulous giveaway of 10, yes 10, spooky books for Halloween courtesy of the wonderful people at Hachette.

Click here to enter at Book Room Reviews.
Click here to enter at The Hidden Side of a Leaf.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And the winner is...

Courtesy of the Random Integer Generator at, the winner of a copy of The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters is...


Congratulations, blueviolet! I'll be emailing you for your address.

This giveaway had the largest response yet. Thanks to all who entered and a big thank you to Hachette Book Group for letting me host this giveaway!

Monday, October 13, 2008

iubookgirl's wishlist

As if I don't have enough books to ready already, right? I know! I just can't help myself from adding things to my wishlist as I come across them.

I thought I'd post a few of my top wants here and see if anyone has comments that will either make me go out immediately and buy one or drop it off my list. Thanks in advance for your insight!

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston. Grand Central Publishing (2008).

Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry. Simon & Schuster (2008).

The Lying Tongue by Andrew Wilson. Atria Books (2007).

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. Ecco (2008).

Review : Veil of Lies

Veil of Lies: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson. Minotaur Books (2008).

I'm always a little wary when I pick up a first novel, but Jeri Westerson has restored my faith. Kudos to Jeri for persevering through fourteen years of trying to get published and to Minotaur Books for giving her a chance. Veil of Lies is by far the best first novel I've read this year. In fact, it doesn't feel like a first novel at all.

Veil of Lies "a medieval noir" set in 1384 London that combines Westerson's love of medieval history and hard-boiled detective fiction. The history behind the mystery is obviously well-researched. Westerson convincingly portrays this time period. Yet there is also a timelessness to the story, which I think reflects mid-20th century detective fiction. The main character is Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight, that uses his wits and training to solve crimes. His sidekick, Jack, is a lovable character, reminiscent of Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There is, of course, a damsel in distress too. Westerson's character development is excellent and her plot is well-crafted. From cover to cover, Veil of Lies held my attention and kept me guessing. This is a winner for any fan of historical fiction and/or mystery.

I'm thrilled that Westerson already has another Crispin Guest novel in the works and will eagerly await its publication. Veil of Lies is scheduled for release on October 28, 2008, and I urge you to buy it the second it hits the shelves.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Booking through Thursday

What was the last book you bought?
Hmm, I've been buying mostly used books lately. One of the books from my last used bookstore pilgrimage was All the President's Men.

Name a book you have read MORE than once
I've read all the Harry Potter books (except the last one) more than once. My memory required it from book release to book release. I tend to not go back to things that much otherwise. I have reread some of my childhood faves in recent years including From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The Phantom Tollbooth.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
The one piece of writing that has really influenced my outlook on life is Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, a fellow Hoosier.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary recommendations or reviews
In a bookstore, I'm typically attracted to covers first. Then I read the blurb and maybe the first couple of pages to see if I really want to read it. I also use LibraryThing and all the other great book blogs out there to look for things I might be interested in. There are several authors that I will buy any book they publish--Nick Hornby and Erik Larson to name just two.

I'm a total sucker for author talks so I frequently buy books of authors I'm able to see in person and have sign my book.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction, though I go through phases.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Definitely plot. If an author can't keep that together, it doesn't really matter how beautifully written it is.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)
This is so hard! I love books with great character development so it is just impossible to pick one.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
Ha, well until about an hour ago I would have said Descartes' Bones! I'm planning to pick up Veil of Lies next.

What was the last book you've read, and when was it?
The last book I read (and finished) was The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. I finished it earlier this week.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?
Several times. I never made it through Great Expectations or Don Quixote in high school. Recently, I gave up on The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher. If I'm not enjoying it, I'm not going to punish myself. I have so many other books to read!

my failure

Descartes' Bones by Russell Shorto. Doubleday (2008).
[to be released October 14, 2008]

Okay, so this book is completely outside my norm, but the idea of following someone's bones across centuries of history sounded interesting. So I requested it even though I shouldn't have. I find myself unable to fight my way through the history of philosophy so I've given failure.

I think someone with a greater interest in philosophy would really enjoy this book. I can't really write a review though. I'll let the New York Times take it from here.

Here's another review from Booklorn, who enjoyed the book.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

giveaway time!

A rep from Hachette Book Group has graciously offered a copy of The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters for me to give away. The book will come directly from Hachette so residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible.

Read my review here.

1. Leave a comment on this post for one entry.
2. Comment on my review for a bonus entry.
3. Link to this contest on your blog and tell me about it in your comment for a bonus entry.
4. Total of 3 entries possible.
6. Enter by Wednesday, October 15 at 5pm Eastern.

Make sure I have a way to contact you!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Review : The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. Riverhead Books (2008).

Anyone who appreciates Sarah Vowell's writing is in for a real treat. The Wordy Shipmates is an uncomplicated presentation of history with a heavy dose of stream of consciousness commentary. Vowell grew up in the church, Pentecostal to be exact, and has an amazing grasp of 17th-century American theology for a layperson. Don't be scare though--her presentation is straightforward and easily understood. I feel like I know a great deal more about the Puritans after reading The Wordy Shipmates.

Vowell was inspired to write about the Puritans following September 11th. During those hardest of days, Vowell took comfort in Winthrop's words, "We must delight in each other...mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body."

Vowell's writing is witty and thoughtful. I found myself struck by an innovative thought either of Sarah's or inspired by her throughout my reading. I enjoyed her discussion of Reagan's usurpation of Winthrop's "city on a hill" phrase (from the same speech quoted above). I think the following quote highlights the intellectual curiosity, wit, and sarcasm Vowell pours into her work.

And speaking of marriage, in colonial New England weddings were "a civil thing," civil unions one might say, performed by magistrates, not clergy. Because a wedding wasn't trumped up as the object in life that saves one's soul--that would be God--but rather more like what it actually is, a change in legal status, an errand at the DMV, with cake.
[taken from ARC, may vary from final printing]

The Wordy Shipmates was just released today (October 7, 2008), and I recommend you go and get it without delay.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Review : Testimony

Testimony by Anita Shreve. Little, Brown (2008).
[to be released October 21]

Anita Shreve's Testimony has a "ripped from the headlines" feeling. It tells the story of a high school sex scandal--the sort of thing that probably happens more than we realize. The horror any parent would feel at her child being involved in this situation is, at times, palpable in Shreve's writing.

She tells the story from multiple viewpoints including parents, children, school administrators, and friends. She maintains the voice of her many, many characters extraordinarily well. Only once did I have to retrace my steps to reconstruct a relationship. I felt great pity for some of the parties involved while others I felt completely indifferent towards. I was surprised I didn't have a greater emotional reaction to this book, but I always felt like an outsider looking in. It allowed me to keep my distance from these characters. Whether this was Shreve's intention, I cannot say.

Overall, Testimony is a well-written, thoughtful story of a life-changing event. This is my first Anita Shreve novel, and I was impressed enough that I would pick up another. If you are a fan or want to learn more, visit Anita Shreve's website here to sign up for her eNewsletter or read an excerpt.

Check out other reviews at:
At Home with Books
A Writer's Pen
Breaking the Spine
For the Good Times
The Sleepy Reader

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Review : The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters

The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez. Grand Central Publishing (2008).
[released October 1]

The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters is a beautiful tale beautifully told. It is the story of Bette, Loretta, Rita and Sophie, four sisters who are inherently different yet share a common bond. This bond is an overwhelming desire to understand Fermina, the family housekeeper, and the gifts she said they would receive following her death. Each sister struggles to understand and control the gift she thinks Fermina has bestowed upon her. Lopez follows each sister through the twenty-year search for answers and allows the reader to share in their triumphs and bemoan their failures. Finally, the sister come together to learn the truth. The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters is a touching tale of family and finding one's role within it. Lopez has a true flair for words that lets the reader become part of the story.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September summary

September was another month of great reading for me. I thought I'd do a quick recap in case any of you missed one. Click on the cover to see my review.

banned books week

Here's my favorite Banned Books Week display so far courtesy of Shelf Awareness.

Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore., is highlighting Banned Books Week with this simple window display featuring 1984 by George Orwell. The store also devoted an issue of its e-mail newsletter to the subject, which, Third's Street's Sylla McClellan noted, evoked the following response from a customer: "I will write your name in for Vice President of the United States."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

so excited!

I just did my first blind request to an author. She is sending me the book! Watch for a new addition to my "waiting to be read (soon)" list soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Review : Nineteenth Street, N.W.

Nineteenth Street, N.W. by Brett Wood. Vanguard Press (2008).

Nineteenth Street, N.W. is the first novel of international economist Brett Wood. Despite what you might be thinking about economists right now, this is a great book. Wood presents a believable scenario of economic terrorism without getting too bogged down in the economics of it.

All the characters are likable and believable, even the terrorists. The novel is largely told from the viewpoint of Sophia, the mastermind of the terrorist plot. Wood humanizes her by showing us her fear and guilt even as she is plotting a global disaster. I found myself hoping the plan would be foiled at the same time I was hoping she wouldn't get caught.

Rarely do I plow through a 300+ page book in two days, but I never wanted to put this one down. I've read several first novels this year, and this is by far the best. Wood is already working on his second novel, and I'll be on the lookout for it.

reading update

I ran across this self-survey over at S. Krishna's Books, one of my favorite book blogs. I thought it was a great way to keep you updated on my reading.

What are you reading right now? Nineteenth Street, NW by Brett Wood. I'm really enjoying it so stay tuned for a review.

Why are you reading what you're reading? Pleasure? For review? Something else? I'm requested it for review so that's the primary purpose.

What did you recently finish reading? Maybe Baby by Matthew M.F. Miller. See my brief review here.

What do you think you'll be reading next? Next up is The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez, which I received from Hachette Books.

What was the best book you read this month? Why? Without question - The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. I really enjoyed this book. For my review, go here. It is the closest yet to overtaking The 19th Wife as my favorite of the year.

What was the worst book you read this month? Why? When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale. It drove me crazy. For details, see my review.

do I read banned books?

Fresh Ink Books posted this list of the most banned books with the following instructions:

"If you have read the whole book, bold it. If you have read part of the book, italicize it. If you own it but haven't gotten around to reading it yet, *** it."

I thought it sounded like fun so I did it for myself. Here it is. Oh, and yes, I do read banned books. :)

Feel free to comment on which one you think I should read next!

1. The Bible
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Koran
5. Arabian Nights
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
11. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
21. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
25. Ulysses by James Joyce
26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell
28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
29. Candide by Voltaire
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
31. Analects by Confucius
32. Dubliners by James Joyce
33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
36. Das Capital by Karl Marx
37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
39. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser***
42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
43. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
48. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
57. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
60. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
69. The Talmud
70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
75. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
78. Popol Vuh
79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
80. Satyricon by Petronius
81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner***
94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
98. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
100. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
102. Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
103. Nana by Émile Zola
104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
111. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
112. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
113. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
114. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
115. The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatly Snyder

Review : Maybe Baby

Maybe Baby: Parenthood is a Conception Away by Matthew M.F. Miller. Health Communications (2008).

Maybe Baby is a sweet, heartfelt, and comic glimpse at the effect infertility has on a man and his marriage. Matthew Miller takes us on an eighteen month journey as he and his wife, Constance, try any and every method to get pregnant. The true testament to Miller's writing is my enjoyment of his memoir despite my complete lack of interest in having children. I think this book would be a great read for any couple struggling to conceive or anyone close to such a couple.


Devourer of Books is celebrating her 100th review. As part of her celebration, she is having a great giveaway. Check it out, enter to win, and congratulate Devourer of Books on her accomplishment!

Friday, September 26, 2008

I got a bloggy award!

Many thanks to avisannschild from she reads and reads for this honor! I'm excited that people are reading and enjoying my blog, especially since I've only been doing this for a few months.

The catch is to nominate seven other blogs for this award. Hopefully, I will hit a couple that haven't gotten one yet!

And my nominees are...
Bookish Ruth
Devourer of Books
Historical Boys: Historical Fiction for Men and Women
In the Shadow of Mt. TBR
She is Too Fond of Books
S. Krishna's Books
The Book Lady's Blog

I refrained from putting she reads and reads on my list just to prevent a vicious circle starting, but I really love her blog too! I hope you'll all check out these great blogs if they aren't already on your radar.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review : When We Were Romans

When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale. Nan A. Talese (2008).

When We Were Romans is told from the viewpoint of a nine year-old boy. Kneale's ability to maintain that voice throughout the book is remarkable even if a bit wearing. Lawrence, the narrator, gives the reader a stream of consciousness view into his journey to and adventures in Rome with his mother and younger sister.

I found the writing style tedious. In fact, I'm slightly annoyed with myself for finishing this book. I kept getting frustrated with it all the way through, but kept at it to find out if my hypothesis about this family was right. And, of course, it was. This is not an uplifting, or particularly original, story so don't expect it to be.

Bottom Line: If reading misspelled words and grammatically incorrect sentences drives you crazy, I wouldn't recommend this book for you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Review : The Kings of Innocence

The Kings of Innocence by Michael Burns. Tucket Publishing (2007).

The Kings of Innocence is a fine attempt for a first novel. It's the story of three recent college grads and the summer they became adults. Roy, Jay and Mark are childhood friends who come together again for two weeks in the summer of 2002. All three are still hanging onto their carefree college lifestyle--reluctant to move to the next phase of life. Over the course of the novel, these three young men are faced with challenges that force them to act like grown-ups for the first time in their lives.

Michael Burns' first novel is well-written. He has a definite way with words. I also thought the characters were well-drawn. I recognized the traits of each as true. Though each man is very different, I believed that they were a close-knit group. However, the resolution of the novel seemed slightly far-fetched to me. That being said, The Kings of Innocence was an enjoyable read. I think Michael Burns should definitely keep writing and honing his craft. If you like getting in on the ground floor of new talent, give The Kings of Innocence a try.

Review : Exit Music

Exit Music by Ian Rankin. Little, Brown (2008).

With all the crime dramas on TV these days, it's easy to think that cases can be solved in one hour. Exit Music, however, gives us a more realistic view of the time and effort involved in crime-solving. Detective Inspector John Rebus, the star of the novel, is perfectly painted as the veteran detective days from retirement. In addition to the crime, we witness Rebus' misgivings about leaving the force. The injection of this personal unease is humanizing and endearing.

This book stands independently of Rebus' previous adventures, which I appreciate as I've never read the other Rebus books. Exit Music is the supposed swan song for Rankin's popular detective, but, without wanting to give anything away, I have a sneaking suspicion that readers will be seeing him again. Perhaps it is just semantics on Rankin's part. After all, it is the last appearance of Detective Inspector John Rebus...future books would see him as a civilian like the rest of us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And the winner is...


Congratulations to Fyrefly and thanks to all who entered The Heretic's Daughter giveaway.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review : Supreme Courtship

Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley. Twelve Books (2008).

Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship is a clever satire of the American political landscape. Hilarity quickly ensues as the Senate Judiciary Committee makes a mockery of two Supreme Court nominees, leading the President to turn to a popular TV judge as his next nominee. All the while, Congress is working on a constitutional amendment to limit Presidents to one-term merely out of spite and disdain for the sitting President. What makes Supreme Courtship even funnier (and perhaps a little scary) is how closely our country already treads this line of pop culture and politics. I've heard Barack Obama described as a celebrity on more than one occasion, and Oprah has enough power to rule the world should she so choose. Buckley takes this blurring of lines to the extreme and provides some comic relief from the seriousness of the present. If you follow national politics (or Judge Judy), you'll enjoy Supreme Courtship.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Review : The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. Grand Central Publishing (2008).

Brad Meltzer's The Book of Lies is a Dan Brown-esque religion-based mystery but with a pop culture twist. How he ever came up with the pairing of Superman and Cain, I'll never understand...but it works. While only loosely based in reality, Meltzer manages to weave a believable narrative from these two disparate stories. At the same time, the reader grows fond of the main character, Cal Harper, as he embarks on this odyssey with his long-lost father. This brings an emotional element to the story that only enhances their quest to discover the truth.

I am typically able to develop a pretty strong idea of how a mystery will end, but The Book of Lies kept me guessing to the very end. I rarely read an entire book in one day anymore, but this is an engaging novel that kept me going until I finished. I'm loathe to say more for fear of ruining it for you, so just go get this book and read it for yourself.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

another giveaway!

A rep from Hachette Book Group has graciously offered a copy of The Heretic's Daughter for me to give away. The book will come directly from Hachette so residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible.

Read my review of this wonderful book here.

1. Leave a comment on this post for one entry.
2. Comment on my review for a bonus entry.
3. Link to this contest on your blog and tell me about it in your comment for a bonus entry.
4. Total of 3 entries possible.
6. Enter by Monday, September 15 at 5pm Eastern.

Make sure I have a way to contact you!

Review : The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Little, Brown (2008).

In The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent succeeds in humanizing a dark time in the history of our nation. We have all heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but never have I read a narrative that so strongly evokes the horrors experienced by those affected. Kathleen Kent is a descendant of the Carrier family whose trials are described in The Heretic's Daughter, which lends even more power to her novel.

Many historical novels written in the style of the time in which they are set fail. The language feels stilted and unnatural and sometimes wavers back and forth between the present and the past. Kent, however, creates a believable dialect of the 1690s that further serves to connect reader and characters. This is a wonderful novel. It made me cry and feel for these characters in a way that few books do. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend The Heretic's Daughter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

And the winner is...

My giveaway of Confessions of a Contractor and So Long at the Fair is now over! Time to congratulate the winners...

1st place - Yan
2nd place - MonieG

UPDATE: MonieG already has a copy of So Long at the Fair so the next winner is Sandra who has already accepted the book. Thanks all!

I will be contacting the first place winner to confirm which book he/she wants. Then I will contact the 2nd place winner to see if he/she is interested in the other book.

Thanks to all those who entered and watch for another giveaway in the next few days!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Review : The G[r]ift

The G[r]ift by Debra Ginsberg. Shaye Areheart Books (2008).

Marina Marks has never believed in the gift she claims to have. She has relied on her honed powers of observation to make her living as a psychic. Suddenly, however, her purported gift becomes real. Debra Ginsberg's The G[r]ift charts the journey of Marina and a handful of her clients over a two year period in which all their lives undergo drastic changes. Ginsberg expertly weaves these threads together and shows how small the world really is, even in a city like San Diego.

Despite their many, many flaws, Ginsberg characters are likable. Their struggles are typical--fertility, adultery, sexuality--and their reactions, however unfortunate, are fairly typical as well. You can identify with them, and it keeps you engaged. As Marina comes closer to discovering her true gift, her clients begin to fall apart, and they all blame Marina. By the time tragedy strikes, anyone could be responsible. Ginsberg keeps the reader guessing throughout the novel. I was constantly wondering what would happen next as several mini-mysteries evolved and resolved throughout the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed The G[r]ift and recommend it highly to other readers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My second giveaway!

It is time for another giveaway. This time the winner will get to choose between two advanced reading copies.

You can read my reviews
here and here.

1. Leave a comment on this post for one entry.
2. Comment on my review for one of the books for a bonus entry.
3. Comment on both reviews for another bonus entry.
4. Link to this contest on your blog and tell me about it in your comment for a bonus entry.
5. Total of 4 entries possible.
6. Enter by Friday, September 5 at 5pm EST.

I will select the winner using I will then contact the winner to see which book they want to win! Second place winner will receive the other title if he/she wants it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One More Year Reviews

Okay, so I have totally been procrastinating when it comes to One More Year by Sara Krasikov. I put it down and can't make myself pick it back up so I thought I would just post some links to reviews others have written.

A Writer's Pen (recommends)

Kathleen's Book Reviews (5 stars)

In the Shadow of Mt. TBR (2.5 stars)

Obviously, I tend to agree with In the Shadow of Mt. TBR...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review : The Terminal Spy

The Terminal Spy by Alan S. Cowell. Broadway/Random House (2008).

The Terminal Spy is the story of the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former K.G.B./F.S.B. agent turned Russian exile. Alan Cowell has closely researched the life of Litvinenko and those who surrounded him in Russia and his home in exile, London. This insider's look into Russia since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. is truly mesmerizing at times. While I enjoyed the story and the mystery behind it all, I found the level of detail tedious and unnecessary at times. I frequently skipped pages of detailed finances, etc. I would recommend this book to those with an interest in Russian history or journalistic accounts of our times.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And the winner is...

Thanks to, I have randomly selected the winner of Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story.

Congratulations, Becca!

Thanks to those who entered. Watch for another giveaway soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Review : Mass Historia

Mass Historia: 365 Days of Historical Facts and (Mostly) Fictions by Chris Regan. Andrews McMeel Publishing (2008).

Mass Historia is a mix of actual day-by-day history with "funny" fiction thrown in. I'm a fan of The Intellectual Devotional books so I thought this would put a fun spin on the daily learning idea. I was more excited when I received the book and saw the Stephen Colbert endorsement on the front cover. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe I like my history too much, but I found the fictional parts of each day ridiculous and not very funny. Here's an example for you to judge for yourself:

January 4, 1896 - Welcome, Utah!
On this day in history in 1896, Utah became state number forty-five, which was also the average number of wives enjoyed by most Utah men at the time.

Utah was settled in 1847 by Mormons seeking religious freedom, Leader Brigham Young arrived with a band of 148 pioneers at the Valley of the Great Salt Lake and declared, "This is the place." Most settlers then began setting up tents before he could finish his statement with "...for me to take a whiz," but Young didn't bother correcting anyone because the evening was just beginning and he had twenty wives who were expecting "vacation sex."

A few years later, Young was named governor of the state, but soon Washington, D.C., began to bristle at the flagrant Mormon violations of anti-polygamy laws. (Jealous.) In 1857, President James Buchanan (a lifelong bachelor---REALLY jealous) removed Youn
g from his post and sent the army to the state to maintain order. (The only other time the army was sent to Utah to maintain order was in the 1970s, when a herd of perennially dieting Donnie Osmond groupies rioted in Salt Lake City over the scant availability of Tab soda.)

That's as far as I got in this book--January 4. If you found Chris Regan's take on Utah amusing, please, go get this book and read on. As for me, I'll stick to The Intellectual Devotionals where I'll actually learn something without having to read stupid jokes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

So Long at the Fair...follow up

Unfortunately, the more time that passes after reading So Long at the Fair, the more I find myself questioning it. I haven't been able to put my finger on it, but she reads and reads just posted a great review. I feel like she really nails this one so check it out here.

If you need a refresher, my review is here.

Review : Confessions of a Contractor

Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy. G. P. Putnam's Sons (2008).

I'm not normally a fan of books where the narrator talks directly to me, giving me advice (in this case about remodeling my home), but Confessions of a Contractor grew on me. Author Richard Murphy cashes in on the home improvement/remodeling craze by combining his own years of real experience with a fictional look at two clients of his main character, contractor Henry Sullivan. I seem to be getting a lot of books with themes of troubled marriages and infidelity right now, and this one was fun to read. Henry gets caught up in the drama of two former friends, Sally, a single forty-something, and Rebecca, whose marriage is rapidly failing. Along the way, he falls for them both and lets his own life slide as he tries to unravel the mystery of their shared past. Eventually, he does and then manages to right the drifting ship of his life. There isn't a great deal of substance to the story or Henry Sullivan, but he is likable and amusing. If you are looking for a fun, easy read (and some remodeling tips), give Confessions of a Contractor a try.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Review : The Richest Season

The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden. Hyperion (2008).

The Richest Season is a story of self-discovery. It charts the journeys of Joanna, a woman who runs from her role as a corporate wife; Paul, her estranged husband; and Grace, the older woman Joanna cares for after leaving her husband. I thought this book was well-written though very predictable. Each character does exactly what you would expect them to over the course of their journeys in this feel-good novel. I could see the resulting transformations coming a mile away. The Richest Season is a quaint and well-worn story. If you are looking for a light beach read, go for it. Otherwise, leave this one on the shelf.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

some other book lovers...

I've started compiling a list of other like-minded book lovers/bloggers. If you'd like me to add you to list, please post a comment with your URL.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My First Giveaway!

I received an extra copy of Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story, so I'm giving it away.

Just post a comment on this entry to express your interest. Receive two entries by commenting on another blog post. I will randomly select a winner on August 20, 2008.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Review : Isaac's Storm

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson. Random House (1999).

Isaac's Storm, published in 1999, is the story of the most horrible hurricane in American history. While reading, I wondered if Hurricane Katrina had outstripped the Galveston hurricane described by Larson. It did not. The Galveston hurricane claimed at least 6,000 lives and the entire town. Hurricane Katrina, however, claimed less than 2,000 lives according to most estimates. While Katrina is the most tragic natural disaster of our age, our forebears experienced even worse. The Isaac of the title is Isaac Cline, the U.S. Weather Bureau's chief observer in Galveston. Larson weaves meteorological details of the storm with the story of Isaac and other Galveston residents as well as the bureaucratic failures that left the city vulnerable. The story is touching and, at times, horrifying. Larson clearly conveys the fear residents felt during the storm and the way it changed the lives of survivors forever. I cannot imagine living through such an ordeal. This is a wonderful precursor of Larson's later work, The Devil in the White City. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Newest ARC

I just got a copy of The Richest Season so I'll be moving on to that as soon as I finish Isaac's Storm. I'll post a review once I finish.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review : So Long at the Fair

So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz. Doubleday (2008).

So Long at the Fair is a story of two families that intertwine over the course of two generations. The main focus is on a day in the life of Jon and Ginny, a couple who is struggling after years of marriage. Christina Schwarz presents several strands of narrative throughout the book including the present, memories of the past from each of the characters, and flashbacks to 1963--a year that changed the course of both Jon's and Ginny's parents. While I find it hard to explain here, Schwarz does an admirable job of managing them all. After all this, I was surprised at the resolution (or lack thereof) of these various strands. I finished the book a few days ago and have come to appreciate this fact. It allows the reader to create their own "next chapter" for the characters and interpret events as they choose. There are other surprises along the way, which always kept me coming back for more. If you hate reading about extramarital affairs or like stories wrapped up in a neat, little bow, this probably isn't the book for you. However, if you like to mull over a book even after you've finished it and enjoy reflections on human foibles, pick this one up now.

A Break from ARCs

While I still have a pile of ARCs to be read, none of them are due for publication until at least September. For that reason, I'm taking a break and going back to my pile of "regular" To Be Read books. After posting about The Devil in the White City, I decided to go back and read an earlier Erik Larson book, Isaac's Storm. I'm only on page twelve, but can tell it is going to be great!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

an iubookgirl favorite

I'm hoping to make "an iubookgirl favorite" a regular feature of this blog. Here's the first installment.

One of my all-time favorite books is Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City. Larson is a master of turning history into a fictive narrative. His last two books have featured the intertwining a great mystery with an event of historical significance. In The Devil in the White City, Larson pairs the 1893 World's Fair with the search for a murderer who preyed on those who flocked to Chicago for the Fair. His prose is artful and continues to draw you into this 19th-century moment. Being a Midwesterner, the familiarity of the locales made it all the more interesting for me. If you love history, but sometimes lament the dry narrative that often goes with its telling, The Devil in the White City is for you.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Review : Queen of the Road

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion. Broadway (2008).

Talk about terrific summer reading! Queen of the Road is a hilarious, easy read. Doreen Orion had me laughing out loud as she humorously related the adventures, and misadventures, she and her husband had in a year-long bus trip across America. There are also touching moments as Orion traces the parallel journey of self-discovery that the trip inspires in both she and her husband. Between her wonderful description of the sites they see, her funny portrayals of Project Nerd (her husband) and her own mounting bus phobia, and her reflections on the way they and others choose to live their lives, I never wanted to put this book down. I would highly recommend Queen of the Road to any reader.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review : The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. Walker Books (2008).

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is the story of a murder investigation in Victorian England. Despite the author's claim that "the book is modelled on the country-house murder mystery" and "uses some of the devices of detective fiction," she failed to keep me engaged. I was expecting an Erik Larson-esque non-fiction as fiction narrative, but was disappointed. Her writing seemed more of a recitation of facts. Summerscale frequently digresses into history of Victorian England, the detective fiction genre, and crime investigation. While interesting, I found that it detracted from the main narrative. I was unable to overcome this and failed to finish the book. My own preconceived notions ruined this book for me, but it has been getting great press so, please, check it out for yourself.


I apologize for the delay in a new post, but was trying to force my way through The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher. Review follows.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coming Soon!

I just started The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (courtesy of Shelf Awareness ad).

Next on my list? Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion (courtesy of LT's Early Reviewer program).