Blog Hop: Holiday Books

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Do you like to read books with a theme such as Halloween, Christmas, etc?

I definitely d0–in theory, but I don’t think I’m all that good at actually reading themed-books at the relevant time!  For example, I spent most of spring listening to the audiobooks of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  Never occurred to me that maybe four books set over four summers would make sense as summer reading… ;)  Maybe next time!

I think I focus themes more when I reread books.  I don’t pay all that much attention to themes/seasons when I pick a new book up, but if I read it and observe the theme, I’m more likely to reread it during the proper time of year.  I read Mischief of the Mistletoe for the first time in spring (although that was because of a long hold list at the library…) but now I try to reread it near Christmas.  Valente’s Fairyland series feel like very autumnal books to me (the main character is named September!) so even once they’re all out and I’m not rereading in anticipation of October release dates, I could see myself rereading them in the fall.

I tend to do better on holidays/themes with movies.  I like to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for the Fourth of July, I try to always watch V for Vendetta on Guy Fawkes Day, and I have several favorite Christmas movies.

Do you read many theme books?  Do you have particular ones you reread in certain seasons or for certain holidays?

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Book Review: To Hold the Sun

To Hold the SunWhen I started reading To Hold the Sun by Chas Watkins, I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure if it was memoir, self-help, or fiction.  But the copyright page tells me “this is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance…” etc, so technically it’s a novel.  But I found I liked it much better viewed as self-help, or perhaps philosophy.

The plot is essentially the old fable, a student goes to the master and says, “Teach me your wisdom.”  This particular students is an investigative journalist who is vaguely dissatisfied with his life, sent on an assignment to the Caribbean island of Roatan, there to interview Paul, a practitioner of “the art of happiness,” as well as of handstands. Continue reading

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Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

If you’re around here a lot, you may have noticed that I have a thing for stories about people who are rejected, not for their deeds, but because they are somehow different.  The Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Creature of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

I can’t remember the last time I read Frankenstein…college, maybe?  Not as an assignment, just around that time.  My chief memory was that I enjoyed the book, but I hated Victor.  I recently reread the book, and…yeah.  Really good book.  Hated Victor.

Victor Frankenstein, already a dying man as the story opens, imparts to the reader the tale of what laid him low.  After an idyllic childhood in his native Geneva, he went off to college and pursued an obsession with the “natural sciences.”  This culminated in an experiment in which he successfully gave life to a creature he fashioned.  Victor is horrified by the Creature’s ugliness the moment he comes to life, and flees the laboratory.  The Creature disappears and Victor, with a shudder, goes about his life–until his young brother is murdered, and Victor realizes the Creature is to blame.  More tragedies later, Creature and creator confront one another at last, and in an extended story-within-the-story, the Creature relates his experiences.  (Unlike the movie version, he’s extremely eloquent.)  He sought acceptance and instead was met with rejection, until at last he turned with rage upon his creator.  And from there we enter what could almost be a Shakespearean tragedy, with the body count rising and the “hero” falling apart in mind and body. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Judging By Covers

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Do covers pull you in?

Definitely!  I don’t agree with the old cliche about not judging a book by its cover.  Yes, in principle, sometimes good books have terrible covers (and terrible books have good covers), but more often than not, a cover at the least reflects the style of a book.  I don’t expect a cover to necessarily tell me if I will like a book–but I do tend to judge whether it’s in a genre I might like by the cover.

Covers make less of a difference now, when I mostly find new books based on other blogs’ reviews.  When I found most books by browsing at the library, covers were huge.  I’d see interesting titles (and sometimes judge by the font of the spine!) then look at the cover–and very often never open the book because the cover would be enough to clarify that this was not what I was looking for.  Like…to invent a title, say I saw a book called The Time of Stars.  Could be sci fi, maybe fantasy, so I’d pull it from the shelf.  And if the cover showed a teenage girl with an iPod, or maybe someone walking on a red carpet (you know, celebrity stars!) then that’s a no.

So much for covers dissuading me–for pulling me in, well, I do have a weakness for covers with girls in sweeping dresses, or girls staring defiantly at the viewer.  And dragons are always a good sign.  Or cats.

Do covers pull you in?  What cover features will grab your interest?

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Book Review(s): The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Years ago, whenever it first came out, I saw the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and thought vaguely that I ought to read the book. Much more recently, I was hunting for a new audiobook, and my library chanced to have the first book of Sisterhood by Ann Brashares (read by Angela Goethals) sitting on the shelf—so I listened to it, and then went on to listen to the other four books in the series too.

The series centers around four best friends, Carmen, Lena, Bridget and Tibby, whose mothers met during maternity yoga classes. All born in September, they have been the closest of friends ever since. The summer before they turn sixteen will be their first significant time apart—and right at that time, a pair of blue jeans comes into their lives, which mysteriously fits all four girls perfectly, despite their different shapes and sizes. The girls exchange the pants throughout the summer, using them as a way to stay bonded while they each pursue separate adventures. Continue reading

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