Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
This book is great. I loved it. I laughed out loud several times, stayed up until unholy hours finishing it and find myself thinking of the characters all morning (this is always a sign of a really good book in my opinion). However, I must say I almost quit the thing. I started it and maybe I am shallow but was really disturbed by the ages of the main characters. They are old widow/widowers and it really was hard for me to get past the idea the love interests in a book need to be young and fresh. (don't judge me and my shallow ways)
However, this book was a gem. I loved the message - clever writing -dry humor- and most of all I loved that these characters had the depth and story that can only come from someone a little more seasoned. This book made be detest obnoxious whippersnappers like myself and excited for the golden years when things really start to get fun!!

From Publishers Weekly:
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.

The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton 
I read "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton a few years ago and really liked it. And so....last Thanksgiving when I was stuck in an airport with nothing to read I bought this. And it took me months to finish. Not because its too long - because long doesn't slow me down....I mean, this is the girl who read Harry Potter 7 in 24 hours. If I want to finish something I will (even if that means I do is sans shower or food). This book just took me FOREVER to really get into. Its a book with a whole lot of talking/wondering/thinking/pondering/ruminating/dreaming/meditating....you get the point and not a whole lot of action.
However, it is a very good book. A beautifully written book. Just not one that you should expect a lot of quick answers and movement. If you go into it with that in mind - I think the time put into it pays off greatly at the end with a very satisfying twist ending and a lot of mysteries solved.

From Publishers Weekly:
A letter posted in 1941 finally reaches its destination in 1992 with powerful repercussions for Edie Burchill, a London book editor, in this enthralling romantic thriller from Australian author Morton (The Forgotten Garden). At crumbling Milderhurst Castle live elderly twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger half-sister, Juniper, the three eccentric spinster daughters of the late Raymond Blythe, author of The True History of the Mud Man, a children's classic Edie adores. Juniper addressed the letter to Meredith, Edie's mother, then a young teen evacuated to Milderhurst during the Blitz. Edie, who's later invited to write an introduction to a reprint of Raymond's masterpiece, visits the seedily alluring castle in search of answers. Why was her mother so shattered by the contents of a letter sent 51 years earlier? And what happened to soldier Thomas Cavill, Juniper's long-missing fiancé and Meredith's former teacher? Despite the many competing narratives, the answers will stun readers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Am The Messenger

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

This book is written by the author of "The Book Thief", a book I absolutely adored. So now we are 2 for 2. I am really starting to love this guy. I think his books are smart, unique, and beautifully written. I loved this book - it was a page turner that I found myself immediately mesmerized  by it.(which has been rare lately - I find myself having such a hard time getting into most books I pick up...)
I don't want to say too much - but I would love for anyone who has read it to make a comment on what you thought of the ending...
Here is the overview The School Library Journal:
Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence - either good or evil - of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery - or series of mysteries - that could very well make or break his life.

Something Blue

Something Blue by Emily Griffin

So if you read my previous review you would know that I didn't like "Something Borrowed". I mean, really, really really, didn't like it. So it is a bit shocking that I actually read the second book in the series "Something Blue". I am not sure why I did considering I disliked the first so much. But I think that it left such a bad taste in my mouth I wanted to see some better resolution with the characters.
And I am glad I did. I actually really liked this book.
This book is from the point of view of Darcy - the really unlikeable, self-centered, scorned woman from Something Borrowed. In this book you got to see the "magic" really happen. You see her pick up the pieces of her life and really watch her change. Recognize her faults (and there were many of them) and really start to transform herself.
This is a book I would recommend. And one that you can read independent of the first without losing any understanding needed for the plot and story.

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

I had high hopes for this one. I saw the movie previews and they looked charming. And I was on a break from school and wanted to read something light and fun and that would require very few brain cells. Well, I was completely disappointed. Although it did live up to the very few brain cells part :)
I didn't like it. Not really at all. I did read the whole thing. And there were a few suspenseful parts. But I hated the premise. And maybe its due to my personal story - but I just couldn't like two main characters that cheated on and lied to their partners and best friends. No matter their reasons. No matter how annoying and terrible the best friends/ partners are. I mean, break up....end the relationship...get a spine!! Okay, as you can tell I am getting all red faced and angry...probably better end this review. I didn't like it. Wouldn't recommend it. The End.

PS. I did read the second book in the series (Something Blue) and surprisingly really liked that one...

A Place of Yes

Do not ask me why I bought this. I am embarrassed to even post this. I am not sure why I am. But I did read it. I mean, no disrespect to Bethenny Frankel - I just never thought I would be the girl who bought books by reality stars. But I had heard there was great dating advice and career advice in this book...and as a single (and not so successfully single) woman I am ALWAYS looking for good dating advice. So I bought the book (in my defense it was really cheap and on sale....rationalization at its best).

And. I. Liked. It.

Okay, I admit it. I actually liked it. I mean, this book is no "Grapes of Wrath." It's not something that will be read by English classes in 200 years...but it was a good pool read. And I did learn a few good things. And it is a good book not just for single-looking-for-love-women. It has a lot of good perseverance and endurance and believe in yourself information in here. So. If you are looking for a quick/easy/motivational read....check this one out

Friday, May 20, 2011

Heaven Is For Real

Heaven Is For Real
By Todd Burpo

I have absolutely been loving my vacation from school. I have been reading at the pool, any free moment I have during the day and into the wee hours of the morning. And it is wonderful. I love getting to read what I want for fun instead of cramming in hundreds of pages of text books. So I have a few book reviews I will be posting today and in the very near future.

This book is the account of a 4 year old boy who dies during an emergency surgery and then later recalls what his experience in "heaven" was like. I have always been fascinated with "Near Death Experiences." I have read a few over the years - some seemingly pure and some not so much...

This book was a quick read - I read it in one evening and it was a fascinating account of heaven from a little child's perspective. I would love to discuss this with someone...so if you've read it pipe up!!
What did you think?  Was there anything that you believed? Didn't believe?

Overall, days later I am still thinking about it...which is a telltale sign for me that it was a worthwhile read. I hope you hurry up and read it so we can discuss!!

Amazon Description:
Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.
Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand, came recommended by a high school English teacher, who said the teenage girls would like it. We got it in at school and I had several students read it, getting their reactions. They all loved it. This meant I should probably see what it was all about. If you were a fan of Twilight (it was okay), you will enjoy this. One of the enjoyable parts is that the bulk of the story takes place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They even venture into Idaho to shop at the Grand Teton Mall. I am not a fast reader, but made it through in a day, as it's a quick read, big print, fast moving story, lots of white space. Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on the earth to do. Figuring out what that is though isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place--and out of place at the same time, because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side (Okay similar to the Twilight love triangle). \

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understand, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil.

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following you heart. This is just book one of a trilogy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The title scared me. It sounded kind weird/ flimsy/ too girlie for my tastes. But it had great reviews and I am a sucker for reviews. So..I read it and I loved it. The entire story is told through a series of letters. The story takes place in the aftermath of World War II. I loved the people of Guernsey, the history, the love stories and I found myself hungry for more when the book ended. I highly recommend this one!

From Publisher's Weekly
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.

Quote of the Day

Reading lots of great books right now...I have a few awesome reviews coming. But in the mean time, a good quote...

"Man is not the creature of circumstances; circumstances are the creatures of men."
-Benjamin Disraeli
I read this in a Tony Robbins book this morning (don't judge me...I do love me some Tony Robbins) and I loved this quote. More than anything else in life I believe our personal decisions create our destiny. That's a powerful idea, huh? We can create any reality we want. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Glass Castle

This is one of those books you hate to love.
“I WAS SITTING IN a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster,” begins The Glass Castle. Jeannette Wells tells us of her unusual (and very tramatic) childhood growing up with her brilliant yet alcoholic father and her artsy non-nurturing mother. As the book progresses I find myself amazed as each of the children beat the odds. It is a poignant story that no matter your own personal childhood you can find something in these stories of tragedy, humor, resilience, and triumph.

Amazon.com Review

Amazon.com Review

Jeannette Walls's father always called her "Mountain Goat" and there's perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents--Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls's childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets. Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls' removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents' knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them--despite their overwhelming self-absorption--resonates from cover to cover.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key
by: Tatiana de Rosnay


Paris, July 1942:
Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

This is one of the best books I have read in a really long time. It is heart wrenching, and tear-jerking, can't put it down type of a book. I just cannot fathom the hatred and the injustice that the Jews suffered at this time in history. This is one of those books that I keep thinking about even though I finished it 2 days ago.
So, bottom line is...read this book, you won't be sorry you did. I LOVED IT!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Help

The Help 
By Kathryn Stockett
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Sybil Steinberg

Southern whites' guilt for not expressing gratitude to the black maids who raised them threatens to become a familiar refrain. But don't tell Kathryn Stockett because her first novel is a nuanced variation on the theme that strikes every note with authenticity. In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, she spins a story of social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide.

Newly graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in English but neither an engagement ring nor a steady boyfriend, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan returns to her parents' cotton farm in Jackson. Although it's 1962, during the early years of the civil rights movement, she is largely unaware of the tensions gathering around her town.

Skeeter is in some ways an outsider. Her friends, bridge partners and fellow members of the Junior League are married. Most subscribe to the racist attitudes of the era, mistreating and despising the black maids whom they count on to raise their children. Skeeter is not racist, but she is naive and unwittingly patronizing. When her best friend makes a political issue of not allowing the "help" to use the toilets in their employers' houses, she decides to write a book in which the community's maids -- their names disguised -- talk about their experiences.

Fear of discovery and retribution at first keep the maids from complying, but a stalwart woman named Aibileen, who has raised and nurtured 17 white children, and her friend Minny, who keeps losing jobs because she talks back when insulted and abused, sign on with Skeeter's risky project, and eventually 10 others follow.

Aibileen and Minny share the narration with Skeeter, and one of Stockett's accomplishments is reproducing African American vernacular and racy humor without resorting to stilted dialogue. She unsparingly delineates the conditions of black servitude a century after the Civil War.

The murders of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. are seen through African American eyes, but go largely unobserved by the white community. Meanwhile, a room "full of cake-eating, Tab-drinking, cigarette-smoking women" pretentiously plan a fundraiser for the "Poor Starving Children of Africa." In general, Stockett doesn't sledgehammer her ironies, though she skirts caricature with a "white trash" woman who has married into an old Jackson family. Yet even this character is portrayed with the compassion and humor that keep the novel levitating above its serious theme.

Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved. 

Loved it! This is a good one folks. The book is set in 1960's Mississippi and it follows the lives of the "Help" or maids that wait on upper class white families. The characters are so real that you are certain they are based on people you know. The dialogue was amazing and to my embarrassment I was laughing aloud and catching stares in public places. It's a good book to remind the reader of perspective and "the big picture. I left this book thinking...which in my opinion, is the sign of a very good read.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief 
by Markus Zusak

Oh My! Its not too often you come across a book like this. I loved it. It was beauitfully written. One particular thing that I loved about this book - aside from the beauitful prose, enchanting narrator, real humans who are loveable even with thier flaws, the humor...even in the worst of circumstances, - well I loved that you could take any page and read it and find a gem. Every page was worthy.

 It’s just a small story, really, about: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery… Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s emotionally wrenching novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Brave, tough Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in the cellar. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul and the unlikely, beautiful relationships you find when your heart is as big as a zeppelin. Oh, and it’s narrated by Death.

I finished this book during my 5 hour cross country flight. And...found myself horribly embarrassed as I sat and bawled in my middle seat while both of my seatmates stared on. I mean, I tried, I really really tried. I kept blinking and coughing and did all I could to hold back the tears. But it wasn't meant to be. I cried and cried. And everytime I thought of that book for days after the tears threatened to come again.  
Read this book.
The END.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hunger Games Series

Well this is a trilogy and the third book is expected out late this summer. Note...if you hate agony and cliff hanging pain - then wait till the 3rd book comes out to dig in. Unfortunately I was not given this warning and read the first two books in the series "The Hunger Games," and "Catching Fire," over Christmas break and have since been agonizing over the months I must still wait for the final volume.
These books were fun and exciting and different, when I read the summary and listened to my friends talk of them I just thought they were not my style. A fight to the death? Children fighting to the death? Are you serious?? But I have to say that they were fantastic and very captivating and although very different - filled with so much humanity that you could believe this was happening in your own world. I loved them and I am envious of anyone just beginning them - you are in for a treat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton
I loved this book!! It was a mixture between Rebecca and The Thirteenth Tale (both reviewed on this blog...and both really great books.)
I loved the imagery and writting style that Kate Morton is gifted at giving her readers. At times it was a bit wordy - but I really do recommend this mystery.

Dream When Your Feeling Blue

Dream When Your Feeling Blue
Elizabeth Berg

Oh this was so lovely...I am serious...I fell in LOVE - until the end. The end stunk!!!!! Not in a World War II book- someone will probably die kinda way - BUT in a mean and hateful author kind way! I want to read more of her books because I really LOVED her characters and writing style but if she ever pulls a stunt like that again I swear I will be done with her for life!

The Year of Living Biblically

The Year Of Living Biblically
A. J. Jacobs

Lauren reviewed this book last year...so I will make this one quick. I actually really liked this book - I listened to it on audiobook and I think that was a perfect fit. I could listen to him while driving or cleaning the house. It was a funny and eye opening experience for me and I felt inspired to dive into and explore my spirituality more - but without the beard.

Wish You Well

Wish You Well
David Baldacci

Out of 10 stars I'd give this on 8.5. I really liked this book - it actually reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird - so if you love that book like I do then I know you will probably love this one too.

Publisher's Weekly:
Baldacci is writing what? That waspish question buzzed around publishing circles when Warner announced that the bestselling author of The Simple Truth, Absolute Power and other turbo-thrillers—an author generally esteemed more for his plots than for his characters or prose—was trying his hand at mainstream fiction, with a mid-century period novel set in the rural South, no less. Shades of John Grisham and A Painted House. But guess what? Clearly inspired by his subject—his maternal ancestors, he reveals in a foreword, hail from the mountain area he writes about here with such strength—Baldacci triumphs with his best novel yet, an utterly captivating drama centered on the difficult adjustment to rural life faced by two children when their New York City existence shatters in an auto accident. That tragedy, which opens the book with a flourish, sees acclaimed but impecunious riter Jack Cardinal dead, his wife in a coma and their daughter, Lou, 12, and son, Oz, seven, forced to move to the southwestern Virginia farm of their aged great-grandmother, Louisa. Several questions propel the subsequent story with vigor. Will the siblings learn to accept, even to love, their new life? Will their mother regain consciousness? And—in a development that takes the narrative into familiar Baldacci territory for a gripping legal showdown—will Louisa lose her land to industrial interests? Baldacci exults in high melodrama here, and it doesn't always work: the death of one major character will wring tears from the stoniest eyes, but the reappearance of another, though equally hanky-friendly, is outright manipulative. Even so, what the novel offers above all is bone-deep emotional truth, as its myriad characters—each, except for one cartoonish villain, as real as readers' own kin—grapple not just with issues of life and death but with the sufferings and joys of daily existence in a setting detailed with finely attuned attention and a warm sense of wonder. This novel has a huge heart—and millions of readers are going to love it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For One More Day

By Mitch Albom

I listened to this book all day today while I was running errands and cleaning house and I really liked it. I have never read Mitch Albom and to be honest I went into it with pretty low expectations.

Have you ever heard a drug addict explain their addiction. They spend their whole lives chasing that first high. I relate with that...in a legal, much more healthy way. I love reading - but I feel like I am always chasing that readers "high." You know the excitement you get from reading good literature. A really really good book. Lately, I find myself totally underwhelmed.

Okay, so basically what I am trying to say is that I went into this book expecting it to be another typical story and found myself really loving it.

First off, any mother will like this. It is a great tribute to motherhood and the roles mothers have in our lives. But even more importantly for me it was a great reminder of priorities and perspective.
I am excited to explore more of his books!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chasing Fireflies

A Novel of Discovery
by: Charles Martin

They have one summer to find what was lost long ago.

"Never settle for less than the truth," she told him. But when you don't even know your real name, the truth gets a little complicated. It can nestle so close to home it's hard to see. It can even flourish inside a lie. And as Chase Walker discovered, learning the truth about who you are can be as elusive--and as magical--as chasing fireflies on a summer night.

I loved this book. I think it is now one of my favorites. I laughed and cried with the characters in the book. Very heart-wrenching story about a little boy who is mute and an orphan, a man who has looked for his "real" parents his whole life and a man who takes both these special boys into his home and raises them as his own.

You gotta read this one!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I finally finished it and it was certainly worth my time. I am sure some of you were faster at reading it than I. I must admit, I read two other books and listened to four while attempting to get through it.
It was easy to see why it was an Oprah Book Club selection. It was beautifully written and the story flows nicely. You can almost feel the mosquitos biting as you go through the adventures of Edgar and your heart goes out to him as he struggles with his feelings and emotions of losing his father and his relationship with Claude.
If you haven't started yet, make sure you read the preface so the end will make sense. I enjoy a story that wraps you up in details and emotions and even though you know this is how it might end are surprised by how it does, because it isn't what you wanted. Edgar Sawtelle is just that kind of book. I was sad to see it end.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Christmas Sweater

I must admit, I love a good and even a bad Christmas story. I totally enjoyed this one, "The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck. It's a quick read, so if you have a few extra moments sit down and enjoy.
Based on events that happened in Glenn Becks life, it tells of boy named Eddie, who expects a bike that he thinks he deserve but instead receives a home made sweater. This starts a series of events in which he learns some truths about life. We become who we are based on events that happen in our lives, but we don't have to remain that person. In order to not remain in stagnation, in order to be the best person we can be, we must face the demons of our pasts & be prepared to face the demons that will come our way in the future(the storm in the story). Forgiveness and redemption are underlying themes. In the book, this takes place over a years time, but in real life it took Glenn a lifetime to learn this.
At the end in the post-log he makes an important statement that defines or wraps up the Christmas to Easter concept. "Without his death, the birth would have been meaningless." (p. 271) Something to think about.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Newest Member

Hi! My name is Beverly, and I'm excited to be a part of Andrea's blog.  I love to read (when I can find the time)- and am always looking for new good books to read. I'm the mom of 6, and I've known Andrea for a long time. She was one of my favorite babysitters when we lived in Illinois, and she watched my two oldest when they were between the ages of newborn-4 yrs. old (they are now 14 & 12).  I'm currently PTA pres., and a radKIDS instructor, so finding time to read is difficult for me. I love 'get aways' with my husband for that reason, because then I can read, read, read - it drives my husband CRAZY! A few of my favorite books are The Book Thief, The Red Tent, and The Year of Magical Thinking.  I am currently reading Identical Strangers - which I am finding very interesting because my two youngest girls are identical twins.  It is the story of two women (identical twins) who were secretly separated at their adoptions, for a nature vs. nurture 'study', and find each other at age 35. Extremely interesting. I look forward to finding some great book recommendations here. Thanks, Andrea, for letting me be a part!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This picture looks creepy. The movie is much better!

I just watched part 1 of the Masterpiece Theater adaptation of Jane Eyre and it was so so good. I loved the book and I was sure that any movie would fall so short and leave me disappointed BUT this so far has been amazing. I love it. I rented it from Netflix so - I am waiting for disk 2 to come! I can get the whole miniseries on Amazon for 15 dollars...Preston - my birthday is in March!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The History of Love

The History Of Love
by Nicole Krauss

Thank you Lynsey for lending me your book, " The History of Love." This book was beautifully written with real characters that made you laugh and think and cry and hope and when the whole thing was through you want to start it over again. Sometimes you are in the mood for a light book, one that makes you laugh and one that requires as little thinking as possible...this is not that book...it does make you laugh - at times I was laughing out loud and Preston was looking at me - but it's a book that forces you to think and to feel...two of my favorite ingredients in a book.

Praise for The History of Love

"Ingenious." - New York Times

"At least as heartbreaking as it is hilarious." - Washington Post

A significant novel, genuinely one of the year's best. -- New York

Brilliant. An achievement of extraordinary depth and beauty. -- Newsday

Confirms the depth and breadth of her talent. -- Vogue

Wonderful and haunting....Deftly layered …with deceptively nimble humor and unsentimental tenderness. -- Miami Herald

Next up Edgar Sawtelle...have you guys started yet?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

we have a CHALLENGE!!

hi there ladies, andrea asked if i would do
this month's challenge.
since i am out of ideas of subjects to read & branch out to, i thought maybe we could do something a little different...don't be scared. we can do it together. how about we all read the same book, and then have a little online discussion (a friendly one, of course) about the book??

it just seems like sometimes (in my last posting) i read a book and really, REALLY want to talk to someone about it but don't know anyone who has read it. so i am stuck talking to either myself, or then re-telling the book to my husband in hopes of getting any further enlightenment...and we all know that how that goes.

so what do ya say? i think if we start now and give ourselves until after the first of the year to finish, then that should be plenty of time, right?

i had a request for this book:

"the story of edgar sawtelle"
by david wroblewski. i have never heard of it so i am not sure of the content, but i read the reviews on amazon & it sounds really interesting.

it's available on amazon & ebay for sale or can be checked out at the library.

you don't have to participate if you don't want to but i thought it might be fun. i can post some discussion questions after we are all done reading it & then we can each write our answers either in comments or as a posting. if you've already read it, then maybe get together some ideas/questions you want to discuss.

leave a comment letting us know who's in on this & we can get started!!

ps-in honor of thanksgiving i would like to say that i am thankful for books. and thankful for this book club!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the history of love.

"Nicole Krauss's The History of Love is a hauntingly beautiful novel about two characters whose lives are woven together in such complex ways that even after the last page is turned, the reader is left to wonder what really happened. In the hands of a less gifted writer, unraveling this tangled web could easily give way to complete chaos. However, under Krauss's watchful eye, these twists and turns only strengthen the impact of this enchanting book."

i finished this book a week ago but ended up re-reading most of it after i had finished. i think my mistake was that i took too long to read it the first time, so i would forget what was going on and just try to read through it anyway.

this book to me was like intermingled poetry, and was written very deeply and the reader really needs to pay attention. if you're not in the mood for a "deep" book, then i don't recommend it. it is also one that doesn't wrap up in a nice, neat little package...which is something i actually love about it. i'm going to order the author's first book, "man walks into a room" because i heard it's another amazing novel.

i ended up really enjoying this book and it was one i thought about for days afterward. i'm hoping that someone else has read it because i would love to have some sort of discussion & hear another's opinion about it.

***another interesting fact, it's been translated into 25 different languages. now that's something.

just for fun, i'm posting a picture of sarah jessica parker reading it. not sure if that adds credibility to the book, or takes it away. depends on your opinion i guess. :)
Drowning Ruth
by: Christina Schwarz
–The New York Times

“[A] gripping psychological thriller . . . In the winter of 1919, a young mother named Mathilda Neumann drowns beneath the ice of a rural Wisconsin lake. The shock of her death dramatically changes the lives of her daughter, troubled sister, and husband. . . . Told in the voices of several of the main characters and skipping back and forth in time, the narrative gradually and tantalizingly reveals the dark family secrets and the unsettling discoveries that lead to the truth of what actually happened the night of the drowning. . . . Schwarz certainly succeeds at keeping the reader engrossed.”

I really liked it, kept me up reading it. I liked how the author told the story from several different perspectives it made it a fun read and keeps you guessing until the very end. You get little bits and pieces of what happened that night until it is all made clear. I haven't read any books worth blogging about for awhile. Really enjoyed this one though!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

I liked this book. I hate to use words like "liked" or "enjoyed" when refering to a book. For me, books should be much more than that. I like books that I can't stop thinking about, that days after I've finished I find myself thinking of those characters, people who are very real to me. I love books that make me so nervous and make my heart break, books that challenge my way of thinking and ask tough questions. So...this book was a "nice" read. I "liked" it. I "enjoyed" it. Get my drift....

Amazon.com Review
It's 1906 and 16-year-old Mattie Gokey is at a crossroads in her life. She's escaped the overwhelming responsibilities of helping to run her father's brokedown farm in exchange for a paid summer job as a serving girl at a fancy hotel in the Adirondacks. She's saving as much of her salary as she can, but she's having trouble deciding how she's going to use the money at the end of the summer. Mattie's gift is for writing and she's been accepted to Barnard College in New York City, but she's held back by her sense of responsibility to her family--and by her budding romance with handsome-but-dull Royal Loomis. Royal awakens feelings in Mattie that she doesn't want to ignore, but she can't deny her passion for words and her desire to write.

At the hotel, Mattie gets caught up in the disappearance of a young couple who had gone out together in a rowboat. Mattie spoke with the young woman, Grace Brown, just before the fateful boating trip, when Grace gave her a packet of love letters and asked her to burn them. When Grace is found drowned, Mattie reads the letters and finds that she holds the key to unraveling the girl's death and her beau's mysterious disappearance. Grace Brown's story is a true one (it's the same story told in Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy and in the film adaptation, A Place in the Sun), and author Jennifer Donnelly masterfully interweaves the real-life story with Mattie's, making her seem even more real.

Mattie's frank voice reveals much about poverty, racism, and feminism at the turn of the twentieth century. She witnesses illness and death at a range far closer than most teens do today, and she's there when her best friend Minnie gives birth to twins. Mattie describes Minnie's harrowing labor with gut-wrenching clarity, and a visit with Minnie and the twins a few weeks later dispels any romance from the reality of young motherhood (and marriage). Overall, readers will get a taste of how bitter--and how sweet--ordinary life in the early 1900s could be. Despite the wide variety of troubles Mattie describes, the book never feels melodramatic, just heartbreakingly real.