Thursday, August 30, 2007

13 Favorite Male Authors--Thursday 13 #6, Edition 108

I devoted my first Thursday Thirteen post to my favorite female authors, so I thought that it was about time I did the same (better, actually) for my favorite male authors. This time, I hope to convey why I enjoy their books. Here they are, in no order whatsoever:

1. Neil Gaiman: My introduction to his work was from a man I'd been dating. He had boxes of Vertigo comics in his office, and he encouraged me to read them when I'd come over. The Sandman series and Stardust were my favorites of what I'd perused, and I slowly found more titles to get excited about long after I'd broken it off with Parks and Wildlife Guy.
Works read: Books of Magic, Sandman vols. 1&2, Death: High Cost of Living and The Time of Your Life, Good Omens, Coraline, Stardust, Wolves in the Walls, and American Gods.
Titles on Mt. TBR: Neverwhere (for the Seconds Challenge), Fragile Things (R.I.P. Peril the Third), Anansi Boys, Sandman vols. 3-10.
I check in with Neil's online journal every 4-5 days or so, he's fun to keep up with, and his daughter Maddy has made a few guestblogger appearances. What a dad!

2. Terry Pratchett: Now, it may seem foolish to put someone in my top 13 on the basis of having read only one book. Which, technically, is more like half a book. And for all I know, Neil was the one writing the comical bits of Good Omens. But, I have heard very good things about his Discworld series from other readers who I trust, and I've been slowly acquiring the necessary books. Mr. Pratchett claims that readers can start anywhere in his world, but I'm one of those "begin at the beginning" sorts. I managed to find a reading order guide that gives me a nice visual map to follow. Honestly, I will probably not get to start until well into next year. I intend to follow through with the Series Challenge and catch up at least 10 before I start this or any other.

3. Stephen King: I don't know who, of the girls at my high school, started reading King's books when I did. They are probably the ones I wish I'd found then, and might still have as friends now. He was one of the first authors I'd found intriguing the summer I'd self-transitioned from the children's room to the adult fiction room which shared the bottom floor of our town's Carnegie library. My first was either Christine or Salem's Lot. Firestarter and the Shining were read next, then I took a long break, starting back up with Carrie over 10 years ago.
Others Read: Bag of Bones, Cell, Dolores Claiborne, Dreamcatcher, From a Buick 8, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Rose Madder, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer.
On Mt. TBR: Danse Macabre (for the R.I.P. Challenge), On Writing (for the Awards Challenge), Needful Things, Different Seasons, Everything's Eventual, Eyes of the Dragon, Four Past Midnight, The Green Mile, The Stand, Hearts in Atlantis, Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

4. Tim Cockey: I don't read very many male mystery authors, but after I'd heard about his undertaker protagonist Hitchcock Sewell, I devoured his first book The Hearse You Came in On, and proceeded to acquire the next few in the series (of 5 total). I just might have a chance at finishing this series within 6 months time (for the upcoming challenge).

5. Jeff Abbott: This author has two different series and two stand-alone novels under his belt. I've read three out of four of his first (with protagonist Jordan Poteet--a small-town librarian). I hesitate to classify his first outings as "cozies," but the Poteet mysteries are definitely on the lighter end of the spectrum. The last book that will finish the series for me is Distant Blood.

6. Fred Saberhagen:I reviewed one of his books recently, so I'd like to direct the reader's attention there for my opinion of Saberhagen, who passed in June of this year.

7. Dennis Lehane: I stumbled upon his Kenzie/Gennaro series during a really slow day at the library. I was packing up discards for the annual used-book sale and started reading Gone, Baby, Gone. When I found out that it was the 4th of 5 in the series, I put it down and added Lehane to my list of TBR authors. I also have Mystic River on Mt. TBR. His latest offering is a short story collection; it will be be on the shelves within the week.

8. Gregory Maguire: Wicked was a surprisingly good read; I really like how he'd turned the Oz world onto its head and spun it around. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was OK, but left me confused at times (it could be that the house move I was wrestling with occupied too many brain cells). I have two different versions of Mirror, Mirror (audio and trade paperback), neither of which I've cracked yet, and I've also a copy of Lost (Maguire's retelling of Dickens' Christmas Carol) that is gathering dust. Maybe I will read that one for my Christmas Challenge. I did manage to listen to Son of a Witch fairly soon after its release; it didn't disappoint.

9. Tom Robbins: I borrowed Even Cowgirls Get the Blues from my local library and listened to it during my "commute" to various tutoring gigs I had back in California. Another Roadside Attraction and Jitterbug Perfume have been on Mt. TBR for a while. I really want to read them, but haven't yet been able to fabricate a good excuse.

10. Wil Wheaton: Yes, that Wil Wheaton. Didn't know he's an author? He certainly is, and I'm not talking about his blog or his column at Suicide Girls. My husband and I got the chance to meet Wil at a combination Stand By Me showing/Just a Geek booksigning at the Alamo Drafthouse a few years back, and I just got around to reading it a few months ago. Wheaton tells a fine tale, and gives his fans and readers (not completely mutually exclusive) a real sense of how he grew up while also being an actor and what his life is like now as a writer, geek, father, and actor. When I get less out-of-pocket (half a pocket?), I plan to buy a copy of Dancing Barefoot (his first book) and a copy of his latest, The Happiest Days of Our Lives (to be offered any day now).

11. Dan Simmons: A longstanding and prolific writer, Simmons has produced award-winning short stories and novels in several genres (science fiction, horror, mystery). I'm currently reading Lovedeath for the Short Story Sunday Peril of the R.I.P. Challenge, and I have A Winter Haunting on Mt. TBR. My introduction to Simmons was Children of the Night, which was both scientifically intriguing and sufficiently creepy for my tastes.

12. Spaulding Gray: I took a "drama for non-actors" course during my senior year of college, and one of the assigned movies was "Swimming to Cambodia." I've picked up a few other titles since then, and might be able to read one for the In Their Shoes Challenge.

13. Lemony Snicket: His is a 13-book series, and I actually saw the movie (A Series of Unfortunate Events) before I started listening to any of the installments. I'm currently up to #8, Hostile Hospital, and hope to get a good start on it this weekend while I'm traveling to one friend's wedding and another's birthday party. See my review of Vile Village here.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

#37--The Vile Village, by Lemony Snicket (narrated by Tim Curry)

This series has been out for a while, and the last book has been published (with nothing like the fanfare of the "last" Potter), but my introduction to the story was via the movie. Being a good little OCD reader, I began listening to each installment on cassette tapes--they're short compared to my normal fare--so I can usually finish them in less than a week.

So, here I am at the seventh book, not surprised at all at the latest way in which the life of the Baudelaire siblings sucks rocks. The foster asssignment brings them to V.F.D., where they find their dream home but are surrounded by nightmarish circumstances. This wouldn't be a Snicket book without an appearance from the nefarious Count Olaf, and his meddling is in fine form. This is one book I do not want to see onscreen because of his costuming. Serious. Blind. Alert. Trust me.

I'll return this to the library tomorrow, pick up Hostile Hospital, and continue on with the so-bad-it's-good tale. Snicket does a really nice job of luring the reader along to the next... series of unfortunate events (talk about the master of understatement). Also compelling is the "author's" backstory, and I hope he's included a little more of that in the remaining titles--I like me some subplot :D

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale, Peril the First

I'm a sucker for stories-within-stories, and the madness/mayhem within this book was frosting on the cake. It's also one about twins, and corrupted people who have money, and what it can take to break out of a rut.

There were many quoteworthy passages, which I was not able to take down from the audiobook (had to drive), but I did manage to find a fairly cheap trade paperback, so I can (in theory, anyway) find them in a re-read, and include them here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

13 Reading Challenges--Thursday 13 #5--107th Edition

Thirteen Things about Marina

These are challenges I've completed, joined, or plan to join (I'll make it pretty with linkage, etc. sometime between this posting and leaving for Kansas on Friday):

1. Once Upon a Time Challenge
Sponsored by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, lasting from the Spring Equinox to the Summer Solstice. For this one I read:
God of the Golden Fleece, Greenmantle, Silver Birch/Blood Moon, Giving Birth to Thhinder, Sleeping with His Daughter, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I actually won a prize during this one--I can't wait to get it!

2. Non-Fiction 5 Challenge
Sponsored by Joy at from May 1 to September 30. I've read 3 (Just a Geek, Wolves at Our Door, and The Devil in the White City) of my 5 choices, but haven't written the reviews--gotta get cracking! I still have Gifts of the Wild and How the Irish Saved Civilization to read.

3. 2nds Challenge
Also sponsored by Joy, I have to sign up soon, as it runs from October through December. I've plenty of "2nds" around here, so it won't be hard to come up with 3.

4. TBR Challenge
I missed out on joining the 2007 Challenge, but I'm getting ready for 2008. I'll be choosing books that have been languishing for several years, and which I want to get moving again. I'll post the list once I've chosen books for my other challenges.

5. Book Awards Reading Challenge
Sponsored by 3M at, it runs from July 1 2007 to June 30, 2008. I'll need to finish 12 books in 12 months. If I can fit more in, then I've have an extra entry for each in the prize drawing. Must sign up by 11/1/07! I'd made a list but have since misplaced it. If it needs redoing, it won't be tonight.

6. Readers Imbibing Peril
Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings hosted this one last year, and I had my choices all stacked up well before he announced the Perils. I'm in for 4 of them; my selections are listed in the previous post [but I'll repost them here later].

7. In Their Shoes Challenge
Sponsored by Vasilly at, she's challenging us to read biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs during 2008. Deadline for signup is February 1, 2008. I'm choosing 6 for now, we'll see how next year goes: Einstein's Daughter, Bella Tuscany, An Uncommon Woman, All Over But the Shoutin', Georgiana, and Population:485.

8. Themed Reading Challenge
Hosted by Wendy (caribousmom), this one runs from 1/1/08-6/30/08. I'll need to pick a minimum of 4 themed books and sign up before December 31. Maybe this will be a good one to get a bunch of dragon novels out of the way...

9. Book to Movie Challenge
Callista at challenges us to read and review 3 book-to-movie titles betweeen September 1 and December 1 of this year. I pulled Cider House Rules, Black Dahlia, and Eragon off my shelf.

10. Unread Author Challenge
Sponsored by Ariel at, must sigh up before September 1. Basically, I'll read 6 yet-to-be-read (by me, obviously) authors over a 6-month period (by the end of February). Here's that list: Rocking the Babies, Blind Love, Grimm's Last Fairytale, The Book Borrower, The Courtship of Princess Leia, and Slammerkin.

11. Series Challenge
Sponsored by Kathrin at Crazy Cozy Murders (, she's challenging those of us who can't seem to finish the series we start, as we're constantly adding new ones, and can't find a way to the end of our lists. We'll start out with a 6-month time period (December 1, '07 to May 31 '08), and Kathrin will consider an extension later. I know I started listing my series books somewhere (it's with the Award Books list)..really want to find both of those!

12. Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge
Lesley of started this one on July 1, so I'm starting this one late to the game, but I think I can squeeze in 6 more books between now and December 31. Here's the short list: Cry of the Kalahari, A Tuscan Childhood, The Edge of the Sea, Round Ireland With a Fridge, Unsuitable For Ladies, and Blue Highways. Must sign up ASAP.

13. Christmas Theme Book Challenge
Sponsored by Susan at My Reading Adventures ( Deadline for signup is October 31 to pick 2 books and read/review them between November 1 and December 31.

Wow! I can't believe there are so many! The total count for all of these challenges (I'm going to try very hard to not overlap) will be 90 books. Piece o'cake, right? *falls over* If you're wondering by now where I've found all these great sites, go over to Wendy has done a fantastic job of compiling challenges of all genres and themes (and many that I've chosen to stay out of). Many of the titles I've chosen to read are those that are registered at BookCrossing, so this is another way to force me to get them out of the house! I'll have separate entries for each of these, with my final lists, and I'll also link to the review collection sites, so you can see who else is reviewing good books.

Leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!
1. you're first!

Never heard of this crazy meme? Find out more here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

R.I.P. Challenge

Here is the list of books for the four perils I'm going to attempt:

Peril the First:
Bloody Bones (Laurell K. Hamilton)
The House of the Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Danse Macabre (Stephen King)
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)--audiobook

Peril the Second:
The Historian (Elizabeth Kostova)
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)

Bonus Peril #1:
Fragile Things (Neil Gaiman)

Short Story Peril:
Lovedeath (Dan Simmons)
Love in Vein II (ed. Poppy Z Brite--4 selections)

I'll post a picture of the book stack, links, etc. early next week, after I've recovered from my trip to Kansas.

Readers in the U.S.

Here's an interesting news story--a discussion of the "average" reader in America.

It's nice to be "above average."


Monday, August 20, 2007

This post has nothing to do with books...

except perhaps the ones that my son received for his birthday on Saturday. Oh! and the audiobook (Stone Work--#36 for the year) that I finished while traveling to and from Castroville.

My boy turned 2 on Saturday! He isn't getting all that big, but he is definitely growing up. I have to look at old pictures to see my baby again. Just this morning, as I read through my email, I saw that BabyCenter sent my first Pre-schooler Bulletin. He may have a new label, but he's still in toddler mode in many ways: he still has to master language, toilet-training, mealtime manners, and the social dance. It's time for me to get with the program(s) so he can come out of this stage happy, healthy, and acceptable to others.

We spent most of Saturday preparing and packing for our trip, so of course everyone was stressed out and tired before we had to be "on" for the party. Right after we checked in to the Landmark Inn and settled the larger items of aforementioned package into our room, we drove over to Oma's for dinner (burgers and beans), cake (chocolate), and presents for Himself.

Grandparents S gave him two outfits and a signing activity book. Oma gave him a plush ABC caterpillar (with which DH helped Anthony show off a little bit--have I mentioned that he knows his letters, and is getting pretty good with numbers?), a clothing-fastener practice dog (a Dapper Dan knockoff), several board books, and more clothes. G-UncleD and G-AuntL gave him a riding toy (with cupholder and basket) and a Cheerful Chimp (anyone remember Zippy?). DH and I gave him 2 handpuppets (a pirate and a dragon), a Pirate PotatoHead, a pair of sandals (that are very similar to Daddy's, and yes, he noticed), and a box of crayons (of course they're washable, I'm not crazy). We also bought him a Lego baseplate which we'll attach to a free endtable I'd found, so he'll have a Lego table for tres cheap. My sister and BIL sent a pirate backpack, and my parents sent a check for a DYR storage unit.

I'll post pictures later, after I've had them developed and digitized. We don't have any video, as Daddy was too busy wrangling presents, and we don't have any of the candle-blowing, as Anthony still doesn't "get" blowing. Note to self: practice for next year, at least a few months out.

We spent Sunday celebrating St. Louis Day at Koenig Park and at Oma's. Because of sleep issues, all of us were wiped out by the time we got home that evening. I for one am glad that I'd planned on frozen dinners for everyone.

And that, my friends, was our long, very tiring, very full weekend. For the sake of my sanity [go ahead, laugh, you might as well], I am not even going to try to imagine what future birthday events are going to be like when they start involving his peer group.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The latest book-crunching at Hearth Bookwoman

I'm going to Panera tonight for the BookCrossing meeting, and have (so far) registered 8 books (and hope to get through 7 more), and have pulled 3 others to release from my available shelf. So, if I can manage to get all of these distributed, that will be another month that I've cleared out 10+ books from my shelves. I never made it official, but I'm shooting for a goal of wild-releasing a minimum of 100 books this year; today's batch brings me to a grand total of 96. Maybe I should shoot for 200?

It looks as though I'm going to have a very hard time meeting my reading goal (100 books in 2007), even if I start filling time with books in the Chicken Soup series. I won't resort to counting Anthony's board books, I swear. I did manage to finish my "Canon" selection 3 whole days early.

Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)=#35 for the year. It will be interesting to see if I'm the only one who thought that this was a pretty depressing story. If I can, I'll write up a review before I attend the discussion on Thursday.

In today's mail, I received a book I'd ordered last week: You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls. For a buck, it was a great deal, and it's in fantastic shape. Not sure when I'll let myself dig into it, but I'm hoping it can provide some sort of framework within which I can work.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday 13 #4--13 Classics I've Read

Thirteen Things about Marina

Back to a book-related theme! I do try to read the occasional classic because they're good for me, and they help me appreciate my "modern" reading. Here's 13 of what (I'm sure) is a bigger number, but I don't have my reading lists from past years handy.

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream--I try to read this every year, but sometimes life gets in my way.

2. Silas Marner--Steve Martin made a movie about this book.

3. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man--I'd read a few classics via email, and this one seemed to be the right length. As good a reason as any, right?

4. Jane Eyre--my book group, "Questioning the Canon" picked this for their first selection last year, and it was a reread for me.

5. Great Expectations--read this one during my freshman year of high school.

6. Lord of the Rings (trilogy)--started these on CD just before the first (recent) movie came out.

7. A Separate Peace--I had a hard time with this one, but I think I still made some good mental connections in spite of myself.

8. A Canticle for Leibowitz--another "Canon" book group pick. This one triggered one of our better discussions.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird--I think I've read this one at least 3 times, and it gets better every time.

10. The Bell Jar--I read this one over the summer sometime in high school, can't remember which year, but it was before our new library was built. I miss that built-in wood shelving... wonder if it's still in there (the building--a Carnegie--is now a museum).

11. Catcher in the Rye--assigned during Junior year in high school. I remember thinking that Holden was a big drama llama.

12. Cyrano de Bergerac--assigned during senior year of high school. This was the first year that our school had Honors English, and our class did a sound recording of this play. Since I had zero confidence in my voice (I've a not-so-lovely speech impediment), I volunteered to do the casting. Go me! I still love behind-the scenes involvement.

13. My Antonia--yet another "Canon" group read. I was supposed to lead the discussion on this one, but couldn't find anyone to replace my original childcare plans. I was hoping to make a point about farming and what role it plays in today's society, but I missed out. This month, we are reading Grapes of Wrath, and I think it will be interesting to discuss the contrasts between these two books.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Never heard of Thursday 13? Check it out here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

#3--13 things on my desk

Thirteen Things about Marina

1. Earrings, about 15 pair. I cleaned them today while I was surfing. As I was cleaning my heart-shaped faux alexandrite, one of the crystals fell off, so now that pair is out of commission until I can have it fixed. It's one of 10 pieces of jewelry in line for that task. I should just put these on my "wish list" in lieu of new presents.

2. Water bottle, blue, 64 ounces. My goal is to finish off a full one every day, but I haven't achieved that in quite a while. I get too distracted, and then I chug a lot at night, when I'm nice and dehydrated.

3. Poppets; I bought these last month, and I took them on an outing:

4. 3 tins of BPAL imps. I'm supposed to be testing at least one per day, to figure out which ones I'm willing to trade, and which ones need a full bottle purchase.

5. Bills: Verizon [the last one! we cancelled service after giving up on them ever offering us DSL out here], Sprint, Chase, boat slip rental.

6. Audio Books: Puss 'N' Cahoots, Beekeeper's Apprentice, Inkspell, Stone Work

7. blue hairclasp

8. vitamins

9. kitchen timer [there it is!]

10. Books; too many to list, but in the following categories: to be reviewed, RIP Challenge, to be reshelved, new books to be de-stickered.

11. Markeroni Logbook. 17 registered for the summer, but am missing a few snarfed during the Poppet outing.

12. Mini-Mag flashlight (for the nights--most of them--when I'm the last one to bed and need to find my way around the bedroom, which is usually mined by my husband with shoes and whatever else he can fling)

13. Lotion, because I don't wear enough (or so my mother must think), but it's out of normal reach, so I'm not going through it very quickly.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Lesley tells us what didn't suck about her week.
2. Karl and Anastasiastate 13 reasons to participate in their IDYA challenge on Sunday.
3. Kailanilets us know about 13 contests and giveaways currently going on in the Blogosphere.
4. Damozellists 13 Quotes from H.L. Mencken.
5. Suetells us Thirteen Random [and pretty cool] Things About [Her]
6. Nancyshows us 13 (mostly) food-related gifts from her garden.
7. the gal herselfposts a timely Thirteen Things about Dog Fighting.
8. Amytells us 13 ways to say "Hello" in different languages.
9. Journeywomanchallenges us with a Harry Potter Meme **with spoilers**
10. L-squaredoffers 13 Random Thoughts.
11. Edrecalls Thirteen Favorite old TV Shows.
12. pussreboots shows us pictures of her trip to UC Santa Barbara.
13. Linda tells us about 13 experiences she'd never have had without a motorcycle.
14. then, Linda gives us 13 reasons to tell everyone about Markeroni.
15. Ben gives us 13 reasons to drink coffee.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

[edited because I, apparently, can't count, or a week has warped itself out of existence]