Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wondrous Word Wednesday

Wondrous Word Wednesaday is weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion where you share new words and their meanings that you have come across in your reading. I just finished The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim. I was sure glad the book had a glossary.

1.yangban- aristocratic class, or an aristocat, through heredity

"She's the yangban calligrapher's daughter." (pg. 15)

2.Hangeul- Korean vernacular language and writing.

"They say they will teach them hanguel, Korean, even if they cover Japanese grammar first." (pg. 17)

3.sijo- classic Korean form of poetry consisting of 3 lines, each with fourteen to sixteen syllables, with the middle line the longest. The first line presents the theme or idea, the second line develops, challenges or counters it, and the third line resolves the poem, sometimes with a surprise ending.

Midful of Pahk's misfortune, he dusted his collection of sijo and other poetry, classical essays and history books. (pg. 80)

The definitions are from the glossary in the book. I sure learned many Korean names and words reading this book. What words did you run across this week?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Calligrapher's Daughter

The Calligrapher's Daughter is the story of Najin Han. It takes place over a 30 year span during the Japanese occupation of Korea which I knew very little about.
At age five Najin learns she is nameless as her father, Han refuses to name her. He is a calligrapher and a political activist who has led a proper but privileged Korean life. He is very set in the old Korean ways and traditions. He refuses to name his daughter as he wrongly blames her for the political unrest and does not accept her. It is sad and shocking to me. She is finally given the name Najin from her mother's home town. Najin is smart and headstrong. She is allowed to go to school until she is fourteen at which time her father arranges a marriage ti a twelve year old boy with an excellent family pedigree. Najin's mother tricks Han into allowing Najin to go be with her aunt instead and be of service to the royal family. They convince Han this would make Najin more desirable for marriage later on. Eventually Najin is educated and becomes a wife. Najin turns into a strong independent woman who I greatly admired. The story addresses the many struggles the family has during the occupation. I learned so much about Korea during the time period that I never knew before. I am ashamed to say I did not know much about Korea and it's people at all. Eugenia Kim wrote a beautiful story of love, family, honor and tradition. It is not a fast read due to the Korean names and words but it is a book to be read slowly and savored. Eugenia Kim has also included an glossary in the back of the book to help with the Korean language. The Calligrapher's Daughter is Eugenia Kim's debut novel which was inspired by her own mother's life. I would give this book 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Brutal Telling

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. It was my first book from this author and her series but I think I will be reading the other books in the series as well. The story takes place in Three Pines which is a small village near Quebec. A body is found in the Bistro run by Olivier and his partner Gabri. No one seems to know who the dead man is nor how he he got there. Of course there are many suspects and there are many interesting finds along the way. I don't want to get into too much of the story as it would spoil the mystery but there are many twists and turns. Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are a unique bunch of characters as are the village residents. You can't help but fall in love with Three Pines thanks to Louise Penny's wonderful descriptions of the village. I had a distinct picture in my mind of Three Pines. I could imagine myself walking through the village or the woods. Some of the villagers are quite amusing. There is even a duck that wears clothing. And the description of the food at the Bistro had my mouth watering! Others have said the authors writing reminds them of Agatha Christie. It's been many years since I have read one of her books but I did get the same feeling too. It has been many years since I have read a mystery and I found this mystery a great way to dig into mysteries again. It was truly enjoyable. It was a great whodunit! Now that I feel so at home in Three Pines I will be sure to visit again. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Thanks to Tara at St. Martins for this ARC.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Into Reading

Today is the kick-off for The Fall Into Reading Challenge hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days. I have always wanted to do this challenge but didn't have a blog. So now I get to participate too! I'm very excited. The challenge begins today September 22 and goes through December 20. It's a fun challenge without a lot of rules. Post a list and read away! I'm starting with 10 books and if I get them read I'll add more to the list. I may have some library books come in that I reserved too.

1. The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
2. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
3. Sworn To Silence by Linda Castillo
4. Sarah's Promise by Leisha Kelly
5. Confections Of A Closet Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado
6. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
7. Beautiful Mess by Diamond Rio
8. Blue Like Playdough by Tricia Goyer
9. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
10. The Moon Looked Down by Dorothy Garlock
11. The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
12. No Time To Wave Goodbye by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Now to get my special reading throw out, fix my favorite mug of tea and get reading! I'm thinking a bag of candy corn would be good to munch on too! First I need to see what everyone else is reading!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

Synopsis, courtesy of Barnes And Noble

Once in nine lives,
something extraordinary happens...

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen's veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who'd been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an "underachiever," never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leaped five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen's life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night....

My Review

I was not sure I would enjoy Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat. I love cats and this cat sounded amazing but I still wasn't sold. These kind of books usually have that sad ending that I find heart-breaking. Homer's story drew me in at once. How would poor Homer survive as a blind cat? A curious cat needs to see, right? Wrong! Homer has no problem getting into mischief like other cats. Homer's antics really make this book worth reading. He is quite the character and is truly fearless. I can see why Gwen was so taken with him from the start. What Homer lacks in being able to see he makes up for with spunk. Together Gwen and Homer make a terrific team. Gwen is Homer's eyes but Homer teaches Gwen a thing about love and trust. It's a nice light read for cat lovers. And no sad ending! It is an enjoyable book. I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to Random House for this ARC.

No Time To Wave Goodbye

I was so excited to hear that Jacquelyn Mitchard had written a sequel to The Deep End Of The Ocean. Deep End is one of my very favorite books and I always wished there was a continuation to the story. Loved the movie too. I have missed the Cappadora family and am looking forward to being reaquainted with them. I am trying so hard not to buy any new books right now but for No Time To Wave Goodbye I may have to make an exception. This is not the time to wave goodbye to book buying!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

South Of Broad

I really wanted to like South Of Broad. This book was very dark and tragic. The main character Leopold Bloom King whose mother is a high school principal, who also happens to be an ex-nun, and his father, a high school science teacher. His brother commits suicide at age 10 and from there the tragedies begin. Leopold finds himself in trouble and eventually becomes intertwined with an array of dysfunctional high school students in his senior year of high school. These characters are about as flawed as they come but somewhat likable. We meet Niles and Starla who are mountain orphans, neighbors Sheba and Trevor Poe who are twins of an alcoholic mother and a missing deranged and dangerous father, Molly Huger and her boyfriend Chadworth Rutledge X who have been caught with drugs and expelled from their previous school. Leo brings this unlikely bunch together where they become a family of sorts. The story begins in the 1960's when this bunch is in high school and takes a journey back and forth into the 1980's when they all get together to find Trevor in San Francisco as he suffering with Aids. I guess one could say this was a story about strong friendships that survive just about everything life can throw at them. Personally there were far too many tragic and disturbing events in this book for my taste. There were parts where the book moved far too slowly and I found it hard to get through. There were other parts where I found it hard to put the book down. I did love Mr. Conroy's beautiful prose and fell in love with his dear Charleston. You can tell how much this area means to him. The Prince Of Tides has been recommended to me. Maybe I should try that Conroy book instead. I give South Of Broad 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mailbox Monday

This is my first time participating in Mailbox Monday which is hosted by Marcia over at The Printed Page.

1.The Private Papers Of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley (courtesy of Kristina at Bloomsbury)

3. The Moon Looked Down by Dorothy Garlock (purchased from Doubleday)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall Into Reading

I have decided to participate in the Fall Into Reading Challenge over at Callapidder Days. I have always wanted to do a challenge but never have done one. I'm excited to be trying and am trying to come up with a reasonable list of books from my stash. Click on the button on the right to check it out and join in on the fun. I'll be posting my list later on when the challenge begins.

Right now I am reading South Of Broad by Pat Conroy. I had a hard time getting into it at first, The story takes a long time to get set up and many characters to be introduced to. I was about to give up and then the story took off and I was hooked. Mr. Conroy has a beautiful way with words. I need to get this book wrapped up to join in on the First Look Book Club over at Barnes and Noble. We will be reading The Postmistress. I'm really looking forward to reading and discussing it. So many books, so little time!