Monday, June 30, 2008

An Orange July Kick-Off

I am excited to begin my personal challenge to read "Orange" books throughout the month of July. Orange July is my personal commitment to read books that have won or been nominated for the Orange Prize. I will post my reviews here as well as my blog.

Actually, I have already started my first Orange Book - Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A lot of my blog and LT friends have raved about this book, and at only 130 pages in, I can see why. After Half of a Yellow Sun, I will start The Gathering by Anne Enwright.

I hope you will consider joining me for an Orange July. Remember, there are no rules, no minimums and no reviews required. You can commit to read only one book or 20. It's up to you! Please leave me a comment on my blog if you plan on participating so I can check your blog for your reviews.

I think July will shape up to be a great reading month! Have fun!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How I Live Now (tanabata's review)

by Meg Rosoff

Fiction/YA, 2004
Wendy Lamb (Random House), hardback, 193 p.
WINNER Printz Award 2005, Orange Prize for New Writers NOMINEE 2005

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen–year–old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

It’s been quite a few days since I finished reading this and I’m still not entirely sure what my final thoughts on it are. Some parts felt unnecessary, others not fleshed out enough. Daisy was a strong character though, and even when her teen-speak and attitude annoyed me slightly, it always felt authentic (I can only assume, not being around any English-speaking teenagers these days). But somehow the war, which affects all their lives so profoundly, didn’t seem realistic, perhaps because the details were so vague or only alluded to. I suppose it really was mainly Daisy’s story of growing up during a difficult time. I did enjoy the book while I was reading it, especially the part with Daisy and Piper, but overall I don’t think it’ll stay with me. Still it was worth reading and I’d certainly try something else by Meg Rosoff sometime.

My Rating: 3/5

*originally posted on my blog here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Terri Makes Orange Progress

I haven't posted here since my introduction in March - which doesn't mean I haven't made any progress in the challenge. I'm just not real big on writing reviews.

I am joining in Jill's Orange July and I gotta say, I am thrilled at the idea of a whole month of reading contemporary women authors!

In addition to what I had listed in my intro, here's what I've read from the lists since:

  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Small Island
  • Unless
  • The Blind Assassin
  • The Gathering
My projected list for July is full of amazing-sounding books:

  • The Girls
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • The Idea of Perfection
  • The Tenderness of Wolves
  • The Namesake
  • What I Loved
  • Property
  • The History of Love
  • Amy and Isabelle
  • When the Emperor Was Divine
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian
Come on July!!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Orange July

Throughout July, several of my LibraryThing friends and I have committed to reading books that have won, or were short- or long-listed for the Orange Prize. If you're like me, several "Orange" books grace my bookshelves, and I have found many of these books to be insightful, provocative and enjoyable reads.

I would like to extend an invitation to my fellow Orange Prize Project participants to join me in an Orange July. This personal challenge is exactly that - you determine the rules, how many books you want to read, whether you want to post reviews - whatever works for you.

For my Orange July, I am not setting a minimum number of books to read. Instead, I plan on reading my Orange books in the following order and see where I end up when July ends:

1) Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2007 winner)
2) The Gathering by Anne Enright (2008 Long List)
3) Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1997 Long List)
4) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2004 Short List)
5) The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (2007 Short List)
6) The Keep by Jennifer Egan (2008 Long List)
7) The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (2004 Long List)
8) We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2005 winner)
9) The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney (2007 Long List)
10) Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2003 Long List)

Come out and play! Please consider enjoying an Orange July with me!

(cross-posted from my blog)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Property by Valerie Martin (Jill's review)

By Valerie Martin
Completed June 8, 2008

“And how did he earn your enmity?”

“Well, let me think,” I said. “Would the fact that the servant I brought to the marriage has borne him a son, and that this creature is allowed to run loose in the house like a wild animal, would that be, in your view, sufficient cause for a wife to despise her husband?”

He shrugged. “Mrs. Gaudet, there are many such cases. This cannot be unknown to you.”

“That is precisely my grievance,” I explained. “That it is common.” (page 38)

What is property? Is it a tangible thing you own? Or could it be something else – a spirit, a soul, a sense of freedom? In her Orange Prize-winning novel, Property, Valerie Martin explored the essence of property, ownership and freedom, using slavery and antebellum marriage to examine these themes.

Manon Gaudet is a young wife in a loveless marriage to a bankrupt, cruel planter in 1828 Louisiana. As a wedding gift, Manon’s aunt gave her a young slave, Sarah, to accompany Manon to her new plantation home. Because of conventional marriage customs and rights of slavery, both women, in essence, become property to the same man. Sarah soon bore a son to Manon’s husband while Manon never reproduced. As time progressed, Manon’s hatred for her husband only equaled her disdain for her slave. She secretly wished for her husband’s death to free her from this entrapment.

Several things struck me as compelling in this book. First, Martin portrayed a historic look into the slave-holding South. It was not a time of wine and roses; times were harsh, the slavery system was immoral, and white and black Southerners lived in fear of each other. Each page of Property stayed true to these details.

Secondly, the relationship between Manon and Sarah was far from a sisterly one. While they were bound together by the same problem – ownership by the same man – they did not seek comfort from each other against their common plight. Furthermore, they did not see each other as rivals because they did not yearn for the man’s attention. Instead, they hated each other – perhaps because each was a reminder of the life in which each woman was forced to live.

Intelligent, engaging, historical and rivoting - Property kept me at the edge of my seat, and I completed this book in two sittings. Admittedly, if you put a hoop skirt on the main character, it usually captures my attention. However, this book provided so much more than hoop skirts – it was a gritty story about the power and destruction of when one human tries to control another. This is a must-read for readers who enjoy antebellum Southern fiction, women’s studies and stories about slavery. I will certainly be looking for more books by this gifted storyteller. ( )

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

3M's Progress

Wow, I've only read five winners or shortlist titles! I plan on reading the titles in blue in 2009. The books I've read previously are highlighted in orange with links to reviews. I've updated my list to include the 'extra credit' longlist titles, of which I've read only six. I already own the bold titles.

The Orange Prize for Fiction

Rose Tremain The Road Home

Nancy Huston Fault Lines
Sadie Jones The Outcast
Charlotte Mendelson When We Were Bad
Heather O’Neill Lullabies for Little Criminals
Patricia Wood Lottery

Anita Amirrezvani The Blood of Flowers
Stella Duffy The Room of Lost Things
Jennifer Egan The Keep
Anne Enright The Gathering (rating: 4; review)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs
Tessa Hadley The Master Bedroom
Gail Jones Sorry
Lauren Liebenberg The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam
Deborah Moggach In The Dark
Anita Nair Mistress
Elif Shafak The Bastard of Istanbul
Dalia Sofer The Septembers of Shiraz
Scarlett Thomas The End of Mr Y
Carol Topolski Monster Love

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (rating: 4.5; review)

Arlington Park, by Rachel Cusk
The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai (rating: 3; review)
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, by Xiaolu Guo
The Observations, by Jane Harris
Digging to America, by Anne Tyler

Poppy Shakespeare, by Clare Allan
Peripheral Vision, by Patricia Ferguson
Over, by Margaret Forster
The Dissident, by Nell Freudenberger
When to Walk, by Rebecca Gowers
Carry Me Down, by MJ Hyland
The Girls, by Lori Lansens
Alligator, by Lisa Moore
What Was Lost, by Catherine O'Flynn
The Tenderness of Wolves, by Stef Penney
Careless, by Deborah Robertson
Afterwards, by Rachel Seiffert
Ten Days in the Hills, by Jane Smiley
The Housekeeper, by Melanie Wallace

On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
Beyond Black, by Hilary Mantel
The Accidental, by Ali Smith
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, by Carrie Tiffany
The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters

Minaret, by Leila Aboulela
Harbor, by Lorraine Adams
Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman
Watch Me Disappear, by Jill Dawson
House of Orphans, by Helen Dunmore
The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory
White Ghost Girls, by Alice Greenway
Dreams of Speaking, by Gail Jones
Lost in the Forest, by Sue Miller
Rape: A Love Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (rating: 5)
Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
Frangipani, by Celestine Hitiura Vaite
The Position, by Meg Wolitzer

We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

Old Filth, by Jane Gardam
The Mammoth Cheese, by Sheri Holman
Liars and Saints, by Maile Meloy
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka

Away From You, by Melanie Finn
Black Dirt, by Nell Leyshon
Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson (rating: 3.5)
Escape Routes for Beginners, by Kira Cochrane
The Falls, by Joyce Carol Oates
It So Happens, by Patricia Ferguson
The Mysteries of Glass, by Sue Gee
Nelson's Daughter, by Miranda Hearn
The Remedy, by Michele Lovric
The River, by Tricia Wastvedt
The Great Stink, by Clare Clark
Tatty, by Christine Dwyer Hickey
The Zigzag Way, by Anita Desai
Ursula, Under, by Ingrid Hill

Small Island, by Andrea Levy

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ice Road, by Gillian Slovo
The Colour, by Rose Tremain

Brick Lane, by Monica Ali
The Sari Shop, by Rupa Bajwa
Kith and Kin, by Stevie Davies
State of Happiness, by Stella Duffy
The Flood, by Maggie Gee
The Electric Michelangelo, by Sarah Hall
Notes on a Scandal, by Zoe Heller
The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Visit from Voltaire, by Dinah Lee Kung
Gilgamesh, by Joan London
The Internationals, by Sarah May
Love, by Toni Morrison
The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (rating: 4)
The Amateur Marriage, by Anne Tyler (rating: 4)

Property, by Valerie Martin

Buddha Da, by Anne Donovan
Heligoland, by Shena Mackay
Unless, by Carol Shields
The Autograph Man, by Zadie Smith
The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt

Special, by Bella Bathhurst
Caramelo, by Sandra Cisneros
English Correspondence, by Janet Davey
Dot in the Universe, by Lucy Ellmann
What the Birds See, by Sonya Hartnett
What I Loved, by Siri Hustvedt
War Crimes for the Home, by Liz Jensen
The Solace of Leaving Early, by Haven Kimmel
In the Forest, by Edna O'Brien
Fox Girl, by Okja Keller
When the Emperor Was Divine, by Julie Otsuka
Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
The Cutting Room, by Louise Welsh
Water Street, by Crystal Wilkinson

Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett

No Bones, by Anna Burns
The Siege, by Helen Dunmore
The White Family, by Maggie Gee
A Child's Book of True Crime, by Chloe Hooper
Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters

Pop, by Kitty Aldridge
A True Story Based on Lies, by Jennifer Clement
Now You See Me, by Lesley Glaister
The Element of Water, by Stevie Davies
Five Quarters of an Orange, by Joanne Harris
Niagara Falls All Over Again, by Elizabeth McCracken
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk (rating: 4.5)
Middle Ages, by Joyce Carol Oates
The Story of My Face, by Kathy Page
Crawling at Night, by Nani Power
La Cucina, by Lily Prior
The Hero's Walk, by Anita Rau Badami
Sister Crazy, by Emma Richler
The Dark Room, by Rachel Seiffert

The Idea of Perfection, by Kate Grenville

The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood (rating 3.5; review)
Fred & Edie, by Jill Dawson
Hotel World, by Ali Smith
Homestead, by Rosina Lippi
Horse Heaven, by Jane Smiley

The Hiding Place, by Trezza Azzopardi
In the Blue House, by Meaghan Delahunt
The Last Samurai, by Helen Dewitt
Fish, Blood & Bone, by Leslie Forbes
The Wild, by Esther Freud
Dog Days, Glenn Miller Nights, by Laurie Graham
Nowhere Else on Earth, by Josephine Humphreys
Ahab's Wife, by Sena Jeter Naslund
From Caucasia, with Love, by Danzy Senna
The Bonesetter's Daughter, by Amy Tan
The PowerBook, by Jeanette Winterson
MotherKind, by Jayne Ann Phillips

When I Lived in Modern Times, by Linda Grant

If I Told You Once, by Judy Budnitz
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
The Dancers Dancing, by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith

The Translator, by Leila Aboulela (rating: 4)
Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier
Fasting, Feasting, by Anita Desai
A Dangerous Vine, by Barbara Ewing
Danny Boy, by Jo-Ann Goodwin
A Sin of Colour, by Sunetra Gupt
Born Free, by Laura Hird
Everything You Need, by A.L. Kennedy
The Hunter, by Julia Leigh
Charming Billy, by Alice McDermott
Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, by Gina B. Nahai
Island, by Jane Rogers
Last Chance Texaco, by Christine Pountney
What the Body Remembers, by Shauna Singh Baldwin

A Crime in the Neighborhood, by Suzanne Berne

The Short History of a Prince, by Jane Hamilton
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Paradise, by Toni Morrison
The Leper's Companions, by Julia Blackburn
Visible Worlds, by Marilyn Bowering

Master Georgie, by Beryl Bainbridge
The Voyage of the Narwhal, by Andrea Barrett
In A Fishbone Church, by Catherine Chidgey
Crocodile Soup, by Julia Darling
Restitution, by Maureen Duffy
Trumpet, by Jackie Kay
Comfort Woman, by Nora Okja Keller
Buxton Spice, by Oonya Kempadoo
The Vintner's Luck, by Elizabeth Knox
Marchlands, by Karla Kuban
The Giant O'Brien, by Hilary Mantel
The Most Wanted, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
A History of Silence, by Barbara Neil
Evening News, by Marly Swick

Larry's Party, by Carol Shield

Lives of the Monster Dogs, by Kirsten Bakis
The Ventriloquist's Tale, by Pauline Melville
The Magician's Assistant, by Ann Patchett
Love Like Hate Adore, by Deirdre Purcell
The Weight of Water, by Anita Shreve

Bitter Grounds, by Sandra Benitez
Man or Mango? by Lucy Ellmann
Gaglow, by Esther Freud
The Aguero Sisters, by Cristina Garcia
The House Gun, by Nadine Gordimer
The Breaking, by Kathryn Heyman
Round Rock, by Michelle Huneven
Ark Baby, by Liz Jensen
Undiscovered Country, by Christina Koning
The Orchard, by Drusilla Modjeska
Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen
Impossible Saints, by Michele Roberts
The Underpainter, by Jane Urquhart
Baby Love, by Louis Young

Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
One by One in the Darkness, by Deirdre Madden
Accordion Crimes, by E. Annie Proulx
Hen's Teeth, by Manda Scott
I Was Amelia Earhart, by Jane Mendelsohn

Every Man For Himself, by Beryl Bainbridge
Death Comes for Peter Pan, by Joan Brady
The Mistress of Spices, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Last Thing He Wanted, by Joan Didion
The Cast Iron Shore, by Linda Grant
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, by Siri Hustvedt
The Autobiography of My Mother, by Jamaica Kincaid
With Child, by Laurie R. King
Fall On Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald
All the Blood is Red, by Leone Ross
Red Leaves, by Paulina Simons
Anita and Me, by Meera Syal
Gut Symmetries, by Jeanette Winterson
The Frequency of Souls, by Mary Kay Zuravleff

A Spell of Winter, by Helen Dunmore

The Book of Colour, by Julia Blackburn
Spinsters, by Pagan Kennedy
The Hundred Secret Senses, by Amy Tan
Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler
Eveless Eden, by Marianne Wiggins

The Ghost Road, by Pat Barker
Official and Doubtful, by Ajay Close
The Rape of Sita, by Lindsey Collen
Keeping Up with Magda, by Isla Dewar
The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald
The Private Parts of Women, by Lesley Glaister
The Passion of Alice, by Stephanie Grant
Egg Dancing, by Liz Jensen
So I Am Glad, by A.L. Kennedy
Never Far From Nowhere, by Andrea Levy
Mother of Pearl, by Mary Morrissy
Promised Lands, by Jane Rogers
River Lines, by Elspeth Sandys

Orange Prize for New Writers

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna - WINNER
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg


The Lizard Cage, by Karen Connelly - WINNER
Poppy Shakespeare, by Clare Allan
Bitter Sweets, by Roopa Farooki

Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman - WINNER
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, by Yiyun Li
The Dream Life of Sukhanov, by Olga Grushin

26a, by Diana Evans - WINNER
Lucky Girls, by Nell Freudenberger
How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

The Gathering (3M's Review)

The Gathering by Anne Enright won the Booker Prize in 2007. The novel is about family relationships, grief, and memory. Veronica comes from a large family of 12 siblings (plus several stillbirths). Her closest brother Liam has just committed suicide, and as she deals with her grief about losing her brother, the event dredges up some fairly shocking childhood memories. Soon she doesn’t know how she feels about either of her families — either her childhood family or even her husband and children.

The language and scenes are shocking and graphic. The subject matter is dark and depressing. Normally, I would have predicted that I would have hated this book, and I can see why many don’t like it. But, Enright’s writing drew me in. Veronica’s voice is so brutally honest it cut through me. Definitely not for everyone, but it’s a book you think about long after you’ve finished it, and in my mind, that’s the mark of a good one.

2007, 261 pp.
Rating: 4/5

Cross-posted at