Halloween Roundup!

Halloween’s coming up, so I’ve been pulling down the scary reads from my TBR shelves. I’ve been alternating novels and picture books since the month started (and Pillars of the Earth in between!), and I’m having a lot of fun scaring myself with these Superhero costumes.

Here’s a (mostly) picture book roundup, with the following books: Faust, The Dark Goodbye, The Diary of Victor Frankenstein, Les Fantomes a la Cave, The Book that Eats People, The Wolves in the Walls, Kate Culhane: A Ghost Story, Eccentric Epitaphs, and The Canterville Ghost, books #139-147 for 2010.

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This Book Will Change Your Life

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if one day you waged war on a foreign country; secretly raised a dirty finger at everyone that passed you by; wrote the opening sentence to your debut novel; agreed to meet a stranger in ten years’ time; ordered an impossible pizza (with bananas, peas, ice cream, etc.); sent a message in Morse code from your window to see if anyone responds; or wr0te your last will and testament?

These are only some of the instructions to be found in the series This Book Will Change Your Life (subtitled 365 daily instructions for hysterical living). Each book in the series is a journal type book with daily instructions for 365 days of the year, on lavishly-designed pages, with an area allotted for your notes after you’ve fulfilled the task.

I’ve been fascinated with the concept of This Book Will Change Your Life, and last year I managed to get two of them — the original This Book Will Change Your Life and This Book Will Change Your Life Again — one from my favorite bargain bookstore, and another from Flipper friend Marie last Christmas. I flipped through the pages last December in preparation for 2010, as I’ve always meant to work on the books, although I tend to pick random pages on random days over the year.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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I’ve been hearing so much about this book in the last year, and for some reason I forgot that my cousin Dianne gave me a copy of this book last Christmas, as it got buried in the TBR pile. Thankfully I managed to dig it out sometime before the flood so it didn’t get wet or join the rubble of books that were brought upstairs for safety against the flood which I am still in the process of reshelving.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (#143 for 2009) caught my eye when I first saw it on the bookstore shelf; the words “a novel in cartoons” jumped out at me and I just knew I had to read the book.

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Frenching it up

Setting is one of the important factors that draw me to reading a book, especially when I’m trying out an author for the first time. I find that there are certain settings that appeal to me more than others, and sometimes, the setting alone influences my decision to purchase a book that I’ve never even heard of.

I’m particular about setting because by nature, I’m an escapist reader – I like getting lost in the imagery of the words, transported to the very heart of the story, forgetting for the moment the never-ending to do lists, looming deadlines, and the general chaos of daily life. The setting just makes everything so much more real for the imagination, bringing the plot and characters to life.

 

the escapist reader
the escapist reader

 

I like the centers of art: Florence (as in Sarah Dunant’s Birth of Venus, Diane Haeger’s The Ruby Ring) and Delft (Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring); the musical city of Vienna (Eva Ibbotson’s A Song for Summer and Star of Kazan); Spain, rife with mystery (Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind and Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas and The Fencing Master); the English countryside, sometimes romantic, other times forbidding (Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift, Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale); the vibrant Venice (Sarah Dunant’s In the Company of the Courtesan, Zizou Corder’s Lionboy, Donna Jo Napoli’s Daughter of Venice); and the exotic Morrocco (Barbara Hodgson’s The Tattooed Map, Zizou Corder’s Lionboy) or Greece (Eugene Trivizas’ The Last Black Cat).

The Italian countryside can be quite charming (Under the Tuscan Sun, Every Boy’s Got One), but for a rustic gastronomic adventure, books set in the French countryside always hit the spot for me, providing a heady experience of sights, sounds, tastes, and textures, as in Peter Mayle’s Chasing Cezanne and A Year in Provence; or Joanne Harris’ Chocolat.

Today’s books are non-fiction, but also set against the backdrop of pastoral France: Champagne: The Spirit of Celebration by Sara Slavin and Karl Petzke; and Sara Midda’s South of France: A Sketchbook (books #84-85 of 2009), both rummaged at Book Sale for P20 ($0.40) and P40 ($0.80) each, respectively (squee!).
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