Friday, November 16, 2012

A to Z Challenge 2012

As described by the challenge host, Strawberry Splash Review, the A to Z Challenge 2012 has three possible choices:

"1. Author - A to Z by authors last name, 26 books.
2. Title - A to Z by book title, 26 books.
3. Double Whammy - Do both Challenge 1 and 2 for a total 52 books."

I will do #2: A to Z by book title

A: All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky -- finished 4/23/2012
B: Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff -- finished 6/2/2012
C: Codex by Lev Grossman -- finished 2/3/2012
D: Dancing with Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas -- finished 1/3/2012
E: Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard -- finished 9/15/2012
F: The Footprints of God by Greg Iles -- finished 2/28/2012
G: Glass Soup by Jonathan Carroll -- finished 2/6/2012
H: Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove -- finished 4/9/2012
I: Icon by Frederick Forsyth. -- finished 6/2/2012
L: Last Mountain by Robert C. Fleet -- finished 1/31/2012
M: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi -- finished 2/23/2012
N: Native Tongue by Carl Hiassen -- finished 4/18/2012
O: Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout -- finished 10/20/2012 
P: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks -- finished 1/23/2012
R: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris -- finished 8/14/2012
S: Sphere by Michael Crichton -- finished 3/29/2012
T: Trader to the Stars by Poul Anderson -- finished 7/23/2012
U: Upside Down by John Ramsey Miller -- finished 2/9/2012
V: The Voyage by Philip Caputo -- finished 11/15/2012
W: The Wednesday Letters by Jason F Wright -- finished 3/28/2012
X: The Xander Years, Vol. 1 by Keith R.A. DeCandido -- finished 9/18/2012

The Voyage by Philip Caputo

First sentence:

"The sea was gray that morning, and as smooth as the surface of an eye."


"On a June morning in 1901, Cyrus Braithwaite commands his three sons to set sail from their Maine home aboard the family's forty-six-foot schooner and not return until September. Though confused and hurt by their father's cold-blooded order, the three brothers soon rise to the occasion and embark on a breathtakingly perilous journey down the East Coast, headed for the Florida Keys.

Almost a hundred years later, Cyrus's great-granddaughter Sybil sets out to uncover the events that transpired on the voyage. Her discoveries about the Braithwaite family and the America they lived in unfolds into a stunning tale of intrigue, murder, lies, and deceit.

In the tradition of great seafaring adventures, The Voyage is an intricately plotted, superbly detailed, and gripping story of adenture and courage. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Caputo has written a timeless novel about the dangerous, reerberating effects of long-held family secrets." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This is a very good book about adventure and family. I especially liked the brothers learning to work together in the storms.

Date read: 11/15/2012
Book #: 40
Challenges: A-Z Challenge 2012, New Author Challenge 2012, Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0679768394
ISBN-13: 9780679768395
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 1999
# of pages: 416
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson

First sentence:

"Dawn had not yet broken as I wrestled my suitcase out of my room above the bar in Mrkopalj, a tiny Croatian village nestled in a low mountain range that looks like the Alps but with fewer people and more wild boars."


"'We can look at this in two ways,' Jim wrote, always the pragmatist. 'We can panic and scrap the whole idea. Or we can take this as a sign. They're saying the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the kick in the pants we needed to do something completely different. There will always be an excuse not to go. . . .'

And that, friends, is how a typically sane middle-aged mother decided to drag her family back to a forlorn mountain village in the backwoods of Croatia.

So begins the author's journey in Running Away to Home. Jen, her architect husband Jim, and their two children had been living the typical soccer-and-ballet-practice life in the most Middle American of places: Des Moines, Iowa. They overindulged themselves and their kids, and as a family they were losing one another in the rush of work, school, and activities. One day, Jen and her husband looked at each other--both holding their Starbucks coffee as they headed out to their SUV in the mall parking lot, while the kids complained about the inferiority of the toys they just got--and asked themselves: 'Is this the American dream? Because if it is, it sort of sucks.'

Jim and Jen had always dreamed of taking a family sabbatical in another country, so when they lost half their savings in the stock-market crash, it seemed like just a crazy enough time to do it. High on wanderlust, they left the troubled landscape of contemporary America for the Croatian mountain village of Mrkopalj, the land of Jennifer's ancestors. It was a village that seemed hermetically sealed for the last one hundred years, with a population of eight hundred (mostly drunken) residents and a herd of sheep milling around the post office. For several months they lived like locals, from milking the neighbor's cows to eating roasted pig on a spit to desperately seeking the village recipe for bootleg liquor. As the Wilson-Hoff family struggled to stay sane (and warm), what they found was much deeper and bigger than themselves." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book of not only researching family history, but living in the ancestors' home village and meeting new relatives. I liked how Jen learned not to stand outside as an observer but instead participate in daily activities, thus making new and valued friends.

Date read: 11/9/2012
Book #: 39
Challenge: New Author Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Memoir

ISBN-10: 0312598955
ISBN-13: 9780312598952
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Year: 2011
# of pages: 317
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page