December 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Posted in Books | 17 Comments
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santathingThanks to a fun post written by Fyrefly, I found out about SantaThing, a wonderful Secret Santa type of book exchange facilitated by LibraryThing.  I received my SantaThing books yesterday and I’m so exicted!  I got Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer and The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman.  I am loving Georgette Heyer these days (review of The Conqueror coming soon), so Charity Girl is right up my alley.  I haven’t heard of The Dress Lodger before, but it sounds really good.  Many thanks to my Santa.:)

I also had fun playing SantaThing, too.  I selected The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  She likes a combination of literary and historical fiction, so The Monsters of Templeton was the first thing that came to my mind.  To fulfill her literary fiction needs, I thought the combination of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a current Brad Pitt movie would hit the spot.  I’m looking forward to reading that myself next year.

I think that SantaThing was a huge success and I’m looking forward to participating again next year.  For the LibraryThingers out there, did you participate?  If so, tell me all about your loot!

#131 ~ The Jewel of Medina

December 21, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Historical Fiction, Reading, Religion | 9 Comments
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The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones

A’isha is a 6 year old girl who, after her parents betrothed her to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, was required to remain in her family home until she had her first menstrual period.  For an adventurous girl such as herself, she is tortured by the limitations placed on her simply because she was betrothed.  She dreamed of escaping to freedom with the Bedouins with Safwan, her childhood friend during the entire length of her purdah.  When she witnesses a woman from her clan dragged away by a man who would disgrace her as well,  A’isha can barely contain herself from taking up a sword and defending her neighbor herself.  She may have been young and she may have been a girl, but she had the heart of a warrior.   It was this spirit which caught the eye of Muhammad and changed her destiny.

I first heard about this novel in August when it was reported that Random House was pulling its publication for fear of angering Muslims and perhaps inciting violence.  This reminded me of the events surrounding Salmon Rushdie and The Satanic Verses.  I found the decision disappointing.  Self-censorship out of fear of what might happen is in some ways worse than forcible censorship because it isn’t always as visible.  How many other books have never been published out of fear?  Thankfully, it was finally published by Beaufort Books in the United States.  When I snagged a copy of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, I was very curious to see just what it was that caused such a large publisher to back down.  This is a novelization of a portion of Muhammad’s life through the eyes of his most notorious wife.  Still, he was portrayed with warmth and empathy.  His charisma and love of Allah are obvious, but so is his humanity.  While I suppose any fictionalization of Muhammad may anger some Muslims, no offense was intended.  Canceling this publication was much ado about nothing.

As most established religions have struggled against the treatment of women and their roles in society, A’isha’s character is especially interesting as (to Western eyes) Muslim women seemed to be the most imprisoned by their faith, family, and spouse.  The only issue I had with this novel was the story line surrounding the way in which the rules surrounding facial covering became part of Muslim life.  Making a vision seem convenient to Muhammad felt like an “easy out” that was not at all in line with his character.  I do not know exactly how this came to be part of the Islam faith, but it seems to have sprang more from the existing culture than from Allah.

The Jewel of Medina is a fast paced and engrossing look at the beginnings of Islam through the eyes of a young girl who eventually becomes the third wife of the Prophet Muhammad.  At the beginning I was reminded of The 19th Wife because of the common themes of plural marriage and being married to a prophet.  The 19th Wife and The Jewel of Medina are both ambitious novels attempting to provide insight on the origins of world religions through the stories of the women involved.  Interesting that both novels would be published this year.  For me, Jones’ novel worked where Ebershoff’s did not.  From the moment that A’isha is married to the much older Muhammad, I could not put the book down. This novel’s insights into living among sister-wives were more compelling and, as there is only one voice telling the story, the reader is always fully aware of the opinions coloring the story.  While we can’t truly understand today without knowledge of the past, by leaving the modern out of The Jewel of Medina Sherry Jones brought early Arabic culture and the roots of Islam to life without much of the  cynicism of today.

I cannot recommend this novel enough.  It is a wonderful way to learn about the origins of Islam through the eyes of a complex and strong young girl and then woman.  A’isha does not conform to my ideas of a typical Muslim woman anymore than she did during her day and age.  She had to fight for her place in Muhammad’s harim and for the place of women in her society.  Being so much younger than her husband, A’isha’s story does not end upon Muhammad’s death and I am eagerly waiting for the sequel.  The Jewel of Medina, like all of the historical fiction I’ve enjoyed, has peaked my interest in Islam, Muhammad and his wives.  I absolutely enjoyed the adventure and I’m sure you will, too.

To buy this novel, click here.

Mailbox Monday on Tuesday

November 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Books | 13 Comments
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Last week was a wonderful week for Literate Housewife’s mailbox (front porch, actually).  It was a bonanza of wonderful books and was by far the most exciting mail week I’ve had since I started my blog.  So, what was it that makes me so excited?  Take a look:

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The Reluctant Widow and The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer ~ sent by Sourcebooks
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The ENTIRE Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer ~ won as part of Maw Books’ month long awareness campaign for Darfur and sent to me by Hatchette Book Group.  I cannot tell you how left out I’ve felt about this from day one.  Now I can hardly wait to make it through my existing ARCs so I can dive on in.  With the movie, I’m having a hard time not scrapping everything and reading Twilight

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and signed by the author (!) ~ won from Marcia’s contest (lucky, lucky me!!!).  Marcia’s review is wonderful and I cannot wait (again).

The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones ~ snagged as part October’s Early Reviewer from LibraryThing.  It’s been at least 5 months since I snagged my last book, but in October I hit the jackpot – and it was completely accidental.  Given the number of ARCs I have, I only picked a couple historical fiction looking books in October and almost didn’t.  When I requested The Jewel of Medina, I didn’t connect it at all to the controversy earlier this year when Random House decided to pull this book for fear of offending Muslims.  Now, published by Beaufort Books, I can see what the entire stir was about.  Yeah!

Tuesday Thingers ~ LT Authors

August 26, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Posted in LIfe | 5 Comments
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Today’s topic: LibraryThing authors. Who are your LibraryThing authors? What books of theirs do you have? Do you ever comment on an author’s LT page? Have you received any comments from an author on your LT account?

My LT authors are Olivia Brooks-Scrivanich (author of Fiscal Pear and Shimmer in the Call of River Whale), Libby Cone (author of War on the Margins), Sandra Gulland (author of the Josephine B Trilogy), Karen Harrington (author of Janeology – which just arrived in the mail today!!!!), Emmett James (author of Admit One), Phyllis Zimbler Miller (author of Mrs. Lieutenant), Penelope Przekop (author of Aberrations), and Caroline Comfort Shields (author of Surviving Ben’s Suicide).

I have had the great fortune to getting to know Karen Harrington through LT. We’ve both commented on each other’s pages. I’ve also been contacted by authors based upon my reviews. For example, after posting my review of The Witch’s Trinity, Erika Mailman sent me an email and we’ve talked for some time. I also have had some wonderful email contact with Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton.

I’ve only met one author in person, Lander Marks. She is the author of Artist’s Proof. When I was in Las Vegas on a business trip, she took me out to lunch. The whole experience was fabulous. I’m hoping to meet Philippa Gregory in person in September, but more on that in a later post.

How about you? With the exception of my experiences with the authors of a certain book, all of my interactions have been positive. I’d like to hear about yours.

Tuesday Thingers ~ LT Vs RL

August 19, 2008 at 6:35 am | Posted in LIfe | 10 Comments
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Today’s question: LT and RL (real life)- do you have friends in real life that you met through LibraryThing? Have you attended any LT meet-ups in your area? Would you be open to attending meet-ups or is LT strictly an online thing for you?

I have not met anyone that I’ve become friends with on LibraryThing in real life, although I would be happy to meet each of them. The downside of living in a small town is that there aren’t any LT meet ups. I do have a pretty successful history with online meetings, though. Back in 1994, I spent time chatting on a talker called Dreamscape. My nickname was ZenLauda. One day, through a conversation I started about Michael Stipe, I started talking with HoneyPoison. We met and fell in love. I moved from Michigan to Virginia to attend graduate school and to see if our relationship was just something that felt right when we visited each other. In October, we will have been married for 11 years, with two beautiful daughters to show for it. Not too shabby if you ask me. 🙂

How about you? Have you ever met anyone IRL who you met online? How did it work out?

Tuesday Thingers ~ Recommendations

July 22, 2008 at 7:04 am | Posted in LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 11 Comments
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Today’s topic: Recommendations. Do you use LT’s recommendations feature? Have you found any good books by using it? Do you use the anti-recommendations, or the “special sauce” recommendations? How do you find out about books you want to read?

LibraryThing Recommendations are a wonderful thing and that was one of the first features I played with when I joined LibraryThing.  I’m not sure what “special sauce” recommendations are, but I’m going to have to find out!  The most fun I had with the Recommendations feature was using the Unsuggester.  What I find when I go there is 1) my library is very ungodly (90% of books on the first few pages are Christian in nature) and 2) that I really need to look into Neil Gaimon.

Despite the glories of LibraryThing Recommendations, the best place to get turned on to some great reads is through other book blogs.  When people comment on add them to my Google Reader and I get a wealth of new reading ideas every week.

I haven’t really been able to act upon any of the ideas I’ve come across with the Recommendations tool because of my ever increasing ARC pile.  I started out the month of July determined not to reply to any new ARC offers so that I could read “what I want, when I want.”  Well, my resolve lasted about a week.  I have been offered some really wonderful books and I couldn’t say no.  The truth is that I am still reading “what I want, when I want,” it’s just not from the books already on my crowded bookshelves.  A reading life is a wonderful life. 🙂

Tuesday Thingers ~ Vacation Time

July 8, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 6 Comments
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Since we’re past the Fourth of July and the summer season has officially started, what are your plans for the summer? Vacations, trips? Trips that involve reading? Reading plans? If you’re going somewhere, do you do any reading to prepare? Do you read local literature as part of your trip? Have you thought about using the LT Local feature to help plan your book-buying?

We took our main vacation this year in May. We went to the Smokey Mountains and split our time there between my family and staying at a chalet with my best friends in the world, who just happen to be married and have children whose ages fall smack dab in the middle of Emma and Allison. I brought several books with me. I finished The Lady Elizabeth, Last Night at the Lobster, and Trauma during my vacation. From this point forward, I don’t intend to take any more vacations this year. Since Emma starts kindergarten in less than two months (how can that be???), I am saving the rest of my time for Christmas and her spring break. My vacation time runs 4/23 – 4/22, which makes things tricky from a scheduling stand point.

I also read a lot when I travel out of town on business. Last month I spent five nights in Las Vegas, got a lot of reading done (Songs for the Missing, Mrs. Lieutenant, Have I Got a Guy for You, and Matrimony). I also met my first author, Lander Marks. It might not have been a vacation in the truest sense, but it was a touch of fantasy land for this reader.

I’ve never thought of reading local literature during a vacation, but it sounds like a fabulous idea! I’ll definitely be checking out LT Local whenever I travel, which will most likely be for work. I’ll be heading to Boston for the first time at the end of October. I’m sure that there will be a great deal of options for me while I’m there.

Tuesday Thingers ~ Popularity Contest

July 1, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 4 Comments
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Here is the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing. Bold what you own, italicize what you’ve read. Star what you liked. Star multiple times what you loved!

I don’t typically do well in popularity contests, but here goes. 🙂
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (32,484)
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling (29,939)
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by J.K. Rowling (28,728 )
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling (27,926)
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling (27,643)
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling (27,641)

7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (23,266)
8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (21,325)
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling (20,485)
10. 1984 by George Orwell (19,735) ***
11. Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen (19,583) ***
12. The catcher in the rye by J.D. Salinger (19,082)
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (17,586) ***
14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (16,210) ***

15. The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (15,483)
16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (14,566) ***
17. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte (14,449) ***
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (13,946) ***
19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (13,272) ***
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell (13,091) ***

21. Angels & demons by Dan Brown (13,089)
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (13,005)
23. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (12,777) ***
24. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah’s Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634)
25. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1) by J.R.R. Tolkien (12,276)
26. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (12,147)

27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976) *
28. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,512)
29. The Odyssey by Homer (11,483)

30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (11,392) *
31. Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut (11,360) *

32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257) ***
33. The return of the king : being the third part of The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,082)
34. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (10,979) *
35. American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (10,823)
36. The chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (10,603)
37. The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams (10,537)
38. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (10,435)
39. The lovely bones : a novel by Alice Sebold (10,125) ***
40. Ender’s Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card (10,092)
41. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (9,827)
42. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman (9,745)
43. Dune by Frank Herbert (9,671)
44. Emma by Jane Austen (9,610) ***
45. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598 )
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain (9,593) ***
47. Anna Karenina (Oprah’s Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy (9,433) (different version)
48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (9,413)

49. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343) ***
50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (9,336) ***
51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274) ***

52. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (9,246)
53. The Iliad by Homer (9,153)
54. The Stranger by Albert Camus (9,084) ***
55. Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (9,080) ***
56. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (9,027) ***

57. The Handmaid’s Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (8,960) 58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
59. Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (8,813)
60. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery – (8,764)
61. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (8,421)
62. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (8,417) *
63. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (8,368 )
64. The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck (8,255)
65. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (8,214) ***
66. The Name of the Rose: including Postscript to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (8,191)
67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (8,169) ***
68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (8,129)
69. The complete works by William Shakespeare (8,096) *
70. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (7,843)
71. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (7,834)
72. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)
73. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (7,808 ) *
74. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by John Steinbeck (7,807)
75. A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (7,793) ***
76. The Alchemist (Plus) by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
77. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648 )
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Barnes & Noble Classics) by Oscar Wilde (7,598 )
79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk (7,569)

80. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557) *
81. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman (7,534)
82. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (7,530)
83. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)

84. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436) ***
85. Dracula by Bram Stoker (7,238 )
86. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) by Joseph Conrad (7,153)
87. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (7,055)

88. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)
89. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (7,043)
90. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics) by James Joyce (6,933) ***
91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Milan Kundera (6,901)
92. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (6,899)
93. Neuromancer by William Gibson (6,890)
94. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868 ) *
95. Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (6,862) ***

96. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (6,841)
97. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
98. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (6,715)

99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (6,708 )
100. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (6,697)

Tuesday Thingers ~ Uniquely Mine

June 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Books | 3 Comments
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Last week I asked what was the most popular book in your library- this week I’m going to ask about the most unpopular books you own. Do you have any unique books in your library- books only you have on LT? How many? Did you find cataloging information on your unique books, or did you hand-enter them? Do they fall into a particular category or categories, or are they a mix of different things? Have you ever looked at the “You and none other” feature on your statistics page, which shows books owned by only you and one other user? Ever made an LT friend by seeing what you share with only one other user?

I have cataloged three books that are uniquely mine so far as LibraryThing is concerned. The first is a book I purchased in Berlin that contains pictures of the Berlin Wall art before the wall came down. Since the Berlin Wall fell during my senior year of high school, I feel a connection to that event and that made me an easy sell for that book. 🙂 The other two books, Dragonmede by Rona Rondall and Henry VIII – A Study of Power in Action by John Bowle. I bought both of those books at a library book sale. I pick up a lot of older historical fiction and non-fiction about the Tudors that way. I’m wondering now if Dragonmede is any good… Maybe someday I’ll find out.

I find the You and No Other feature on LibraryThing the most interesting. I love that feature. I own a book of postcards from Grand Rapids through the years and only one other user owns that. I figure that this user must have some connection to my home town, but he or she never responded to my comment. That being said, I’ve made quite a few LT friends based upon more than one book in common and that’s the most important thing.

Tuesday Thingers ~ All About Tagging

June 10, 2008 at 8:14 am | Posted in Books | 6 Comments
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Today’s question is about tags- do you tag? How do you tag? How do you feel about tagging- do you think it would be better to have standardized tags, like libraries have standardized subject headings, or do you like the individualized nature of tagging? What are your top 5 tags and what do they say about your collection or your reading habits?

I am most definitely a tagger.  My relationship with tags evolved around the same time I changed the standard way that I published my book reviews.  When I started this blog, I just named the posts with the number of the book I had read in 2007.  After a very long while a couple of things dawned on me: the number means absolutely nothing to anyone but me, and how in the world would anyone find a book I’ve reviewed with that system?  I still use the number in the post name, but I also include the book title.  Now, I also tag the book title and author’s name as well.  I want people to read my reviews, and I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for them to be found.  I think I’m doing a better job of that now.

One of the things that is so appealing to me about tags is that they are specific to the post.  With categories, once you add one, it’s always there to scroll through.  It’s just too much.  Tags provide me the freedom to use them as they fit into my current post.  I don’t really follow any standards with my tags although I may include some of them by default.  When I post my reviews on LibraryThing, I do include both my categories and my tags in the Tags field.

Based on my Tag Cloud, it looks like Books, Culture, Historical Fiction, Reading, and Secrets and Lies are my top 5 tags in LT.  This makes me think that I need to go in and remove all of my books and reading tags from there.  In LT that’s pretty darn redundant.  Those are more appropriate for my blog.  The Historical Fiction tag is there with good reason and shows my ever growing enjoyment of that genre.  Culture and Secrets and Lies are pretty generic and not very informative in and of themselves.  Hmmm…

Perhaps I need to do some rethinking of my tags.  How do you use yours?

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