Friday, October 30, 2009

Shelf Discovery Challenge

I am completely failing several challenges and, yet, I feel compelled to join this one too. What's the definition of insanity? Never mind. This challenge just calls to me by dangling my childhood favorites in front of me. The books that I devoured as a girl are all fair game in this one and I have to take the bait!
Here's what the challenge is all about lifted directly from Booking Mama's post...

The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 - April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a "book report" to share your thoughts with others!

The titles I picked are mostly books that I "remember" that I LOVED but I am kind of sketchy on the details since it has been 30+ years since I actually read them! I wonder if I will still love them now. (The exception is A Little Princess which I have on my nightstand at all times and reread fairly often, at least the good parts.)

Here's my list...with the covers of my youth - when I could find them!

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Harriet the Spy

Are you There, God? It's Me, Margaret

A Little Princess


Flowers in the Attic

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

From Amazon's product description: Standing on the fringes of life...

offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Once I started this one I could not put it down. Chbosky took me right back to high school - the feelings of being left out, doing stupid things to fit in, having good friends but the relationships still being somewhat volatile. Egad, I wouldn't go through that again for a million dollars but for the afternoon and evening that I spent on the couch reading Charlie's letters, I was right there. He nailed it - even Rocky Horror Picture Show - I think I could recite every line by my senior year.

Charlie was both socially challenged and academically gifted which made me wonder about his mental health or perhaps an Asperger's type diagnosis, when the truth came out in the end, it all made sense. I knew the character at the heart of that conflict was going to be important in some way but I didn't guess why in advance. Apparently I was as blind as all the other people in Charlie's life.

Some of the friends Charlie makes are too good to be true. I know we're supposed to feel like Charlie found acceptance despite the odds against him but I think the oddds are even worse - I found it hard to believe he lucked into these healthy, healing relationships. My glass is half empty.

I can see why a parent might not want their tween to read this book but I think most high school students are surrounded by the characters of this story and will simply feel affirmed that everyone has their moments of insecurity. I'll have to send out a thank you to the parent who got this book banned from their child's high school - it brought the book to my attention and I loved it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

From the author's website: Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades — from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

What a wonderful book! Pat Conroy lives just a few islands over from me here in the Carolina Lowcountry and he captures the feel of this place better than anyone else. He does it especially well in this one - gorgeous prose as he describes the scenes. This is my favorite kind of Pat Conroy book - rooted in the Lowcountry and the relationships that are formed here by birth, by race, by class - he explores them all. There are discussions all around town about who each character might be in real life but because Conroy always manages to root out each character's worst flaws, I'm not sure anyone wants to own up to being included. All I know is that one of my husband's extended family members is an ex-nun who was an educator and married to a teacher...hmmmm.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand October 2009

This monthly feature is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month. Click on the logo to go and check out all the participants.

From last month's post, I read and reviewed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Revolutionary Road; the latter completed the A-Z Reading Challenge for me. I didn't get to all the others - got sidetracked by football, soccer, tennis, and dance - all the things my kids do in the fall that require me to drive them around town!

John Adams is still there but VERY close to getting finished just a mere nine ten months after I started it! Next is The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown; I've loved all his other books so I am anticipating enjoying this one too. Twelve Ordinary Men I am going to take to church and read during adoration. I've signed up for the Maud Hart Lovelace Challenge but haven't read my Betsy-Tacy book yet - I know it will go fast once I get started! Above that is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the Everything Austen Challenge although I still have two movies I wanted to watch for that first so it may not get done (again!) this month - we'll see, I think the challenge is open until December so I will have time. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran is the November selection for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club. And, on top, is The Perks of Being a Wallflower which I am reading at the suggestion of Jennifer at The Literate Housewife, it was banned at a high school near her so she decided to read it as a protest against banning books. Next she spread the word on her blog and started a Facebook Book Club for us to discuss it - very fun!

A Fine Dark Line by Joe Lansdale

From the Amazon product description: For young Stanley Mitchell, Jr., 1958 is quickly becoming a year of newfound joys and thrilling adventure. Beginning with the discovery of hidden love letters, Stanley learns about blues music, Sherlock Holmes, racism, and lost dreams. Through the natural course of growing up, he discovers the true nature of his father's heart; learns about love from his mother, sister, and house servant, Rosy; and becomes involved in a forbidden world that exists beneath Dewmont, Texas, like dirt swept under a beautiful carpet. But when Stanley enters a forbidden world of secrets filled with death and darkness, jealous lovers, and ghostly occurrences, he finds the real murderer of the young girl who wrote the once-secret love letters...and becomes the next target.

Wow - all I could think about as I read this was that the main character, Stanley, is right smack dab in the middle of my two boys age-wise. My boys are 10 and 12 and Stanley is supposed to be 11. I can't imagine having the conversations with my boys that occur with Stanley over the course of this summer story. School may be out but Stanley gets quite an education - racism, masochism, sadism, homosexuality, domestic abuse, goes on and on. I really thought when I picked it up, it would be a sweet coming of age tale with a little murder mystery on the side; boy, was I surprised. It was a wonderful surprise though, because although I like the sweetness of Mitford or Zebra Drive, I really do prefer stories with a bite to them and this one had some sharp teeth. I enjoyed hearing it - it was the kind of book that made me sit in my car and listen a little longer even after I had arrived at my destination. What a nice surprise!

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

A few weeks ago it was the Catholic Church bazaar, this week it is the Methodist Church bazaar. I have a small stack of "new to me" books from their book sale!

First is Away by Amy Bloom. I have seen some reviews of Amy Bloom's books around the blogosphere. I can't remember where, I can't remember if this was one of them, I can't remember if they were good or bad, but when I saw it for fifty cents, I though, "why not?". If nothing else, it has a really pretty cover.

Next is Anne Rice's Christ the Lord;Out of Egypt. Awhile ago I bought the trade paperback for the second book in the series, Christ the Lord; Out of Cana, but I set it aside because I wanted to read the series in order. So I was delighted to find this one, I'm always tickled to find a book that is on my mental wish list.

Finally, is another No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency mystery, Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith. It's the third in the series and somehow I skipped over it. I've read 1, 2, and 4 and I have another that I found at the Catholic bazaar in my TBR pile, maybe 6 or 7. These are good rainy afternoon lay on the couch books so they can just sit around in my TBR pile until that day comes around!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Product description from Amazon: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

This was an intersting book. The premise and format were creative with all the trivia and footnotes interjected seeming to capture a sense of autism. I say "seem" because at least one reviewer on Amazon claimed to be on the ASD and did not agree with that. Working with families impacted by autism, I was sad to see that the parents marriage did not stand up to the difficulties of caring for their son. Divorce is a very common occurence in families of children with special needs and speaks to the need for support systems to help parents cope before the marriage dissolves.

Back to the mystery..when the mystery was finally solved - it was very fun to go back and reread the first part of the story and see the clues that were missed! Because Christpher doesn't spend any time reflecting on other's motivations, it's not until you know the truth that you can go back and have those "aha" moments. It was easy to go back and reread because this book was a very quick read to start with - made for a fun afternoon curled on the couch!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

From the inside flap: An invitation for every woman who feels she isn't godly enough...isn't loving enough...isn't doing enough

The life of a woman today isn't really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord's feet...but the daily demands of a busy world just won't leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve him...yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.

Then comes Jesus, right into the midst of your busy Mary/Martha life-and he extends the same invitation he issued long ago to the two sisters of Bethany. Tenderly he invites you to choose "the better part"-a joyful life of "living-room" intimacy with him that flows naturally into "kitchen service" for him.

How can you make that choice? With her fresh approach to the familiar Bible story and its creative, practical strategies, Joanna shows how all of us-Marys and Marthas alike-can draw closer to our Lord, deepening our devotion, strengthening our service, and doing both with less stress and greater joy.

This one didn't really grab me. It sounds like something I would like, need, be in tune with - but it didn't end up being any of those things for me. However, I took away from it one important message. A message about the lack of value in worry. On my bad days, I'm a worrier - I carry around the bills, and the notices, and the papers in a a folder or a Ziploc bag or just mashed in between the pages of my calendar and I don't DO anything with them except worry. On my good days, I am active, I handle each piece of paper, I log online and get the bills paid, I just do it. So these words about worry need to become my mantra!

"Fretting magnifies the problem, prayer magnifies God."

And then she goes on to quote one of my favorite authors, Corrie Ten Boom, "any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden'. I'll never forget Corrie and her sister in the Nazi concentration camp giving thanks to God for the fleas. Now Corrie via Joanna Weaver has given me another nugget of gold to carry me though life.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Dog, Stay by Anna Quindlen

From Amazon: “The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen about her beloved black Labrador retriever, Beau. With her trademark wisdom and humor, Quindlen reflects on how her life has unfolded in tandem with Beau’s, and on the lessons she’s learned by watching him: to roll with the punches, to take things as they come, to measure herself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present, to raise her nose in the air from time to time and, at least metaphorically, holler, “I smell bacon!”

My not being happy with this book was my own fault - I knew going in that it was not what I liked from Anna Quindlen but I bought it anyway. The good - it was a very loving portrait of her dog. The pictures of her dog were touching. The bad - it was like a Hallmark book, one you buy at the drugstore when you don't have a gift for someone at the last minute, and the random pics of other dogs were just overly cute.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gone for Good by Harlan Coben

From the amazon product description: As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: his older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Klein's affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman--a girl Will had once loved--was found raped and murdered in her family's basement.

The prime suspect: Ken Klein. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished, spending the next decade as the elusive subject of rumors, speculation, and an international manhunt. When his shattered family never heard from Ken again, they were sure he was gone for good.

This is my second Harlan Coben, the first was Long Lost, and I enjoyed them both. I didn't figure out all the twists until very close to the end. I can't say I "liked" all the characters, there some truly ugly people in this story!, but I did find them imaginatively brought to life. Again there is "the friend who can do everything", in this case, Squares, I just think that is such a cop out move by Coben. final verdict - I was completely entertained!

You can read an excerpt here at the author's website.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

White Oleander by Janet fitch

From the author's website: Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery--but their idyll is shattered when Astrid's mother falls apart over a lover. Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders the man, and is sentenced to life in prison.

White Oleander is the unforgettable story of Astrid's journey through a series of foster homes and her efforts to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances. Each home is its own universe, with a new set of laws and lessons to be learned. With determination and humor, Astrid confronts the challenges of loneliness and poverty, and strives to learn who a motherless child in an indifferent world can become.

White Oleander was an Oprah book and I chose to listen to the audiobook which was read by...Oprah! It was a typical Oprah book in that every thing bad that could possibly happen to this poor girl happened. Whenever a new character was introduced, I was just waiting to see how they would further destroy this child and I was rarely let down. Oprah did a beautiful job reading the story and donated her proceeds to charity to help children in these dire circumstances. I may roll my eyes a bit at the stereotype of an Oprah book but I love an emotional read and this was no exception. Maybe I'll see about renting the movie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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

From the book website: January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

What a delightful book. I am not the only one enchanted by the folk of the Channel Islands; I had two different friends pass this book on to me and it has been all over the blogs. the site that is linked above has all sorts of good stuff to explore if you are interested.

This period of history, World War II, has fascinated me since I was about eleven or twelve and read both The Diary of Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place. But as I get older, I realise that there is still more for me to discover about the time period. I didn't know about the part the Channel Islands played in the war. The residents evacuation of their children, the occupation by the Germans, and their near starvation as a result were all new information. The story is balanced by the romance and friendships of the main character Juliet so that it is both sad and joyful at times. The humor throughout was delightful. I loved the people and was sad to have the book end.

This is one of the books on my list for Fall Into Reading 2009. Click on the logo to see my progress.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I ordered a few books from Amazon and they came in the mail. Two of them were the result of reading this blog...The Literate I am considering sending Jennifer a copy of my Visa bill thank you note. The third is a David Sedaris - just because I love him and I needed to get my order up a few dollars to get the "free" super saver shipping. So here they are...

The Heretic Queen is the Facebook Historical Fiction Book Club selection for November 2009. We read another book by Michelle Moran, Nefertiti, in August 2009 and it got great reviews from the group - unfortunately - I procrastinated and didn't get it done.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower came on my radar when Jennifer posted an article about it being taken off the shelves of a high school because a parent had complained about the content. A couple folks expressed an interest in reading it, myself included, so she opened up a group for the discussion. My teenage daughter Bookworm recognized it and said it has been a popular book at her school.

And, Naked was my "I need a few more dollars to get super saver shipping" book. It's been on my wish list for awhile. When I went to search for "Naked Sedaris" my search engine sternly admonished me not to click through to see the images and after a pause for me to conjure up an image of a fully clothed Sedaris and then imagine him naked, I decided to take Bing's advice. Luckily this picture was on Wikipedia; it is a little out of proportion to the other covers - we all just have to live with it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

From Amazon: Barcelona, 1945-just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn't find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

I couldn't possibly say it better than Stephen King, "Shadow is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendor and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots...this is one gorgeous read. -- Stephen King

This book was hard to put down. It was at times confusing because there were so many characters and so many intertwining stories but the mood - suspenseful, Gothic, dark, shadowy/rainy/drizzly - kept me on edge throughout the book. My favorite character, Fermin Romero de Torres, provided some of the more light hearted moments with his optimism and his colorful descriptions....paler than a nun's thigh, rancid as a councilman's fart, breasts like two schooners, he had a way with words! The villains were pure evil - Inspector Fumero relished in his evilness. It's hard for me to decide if the book can be taken seriously or if it just too campy but either way, as King said, it was a "gorgeous read."

This was the October 2009 selection for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club led by Jennifer over at The Literate Housewife.

This is one of the books on my list for Fall Into Reading 2009. Click on the logo to see my progress.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Autobiography of SaintTherese of Liseaux; Story of a Soul by Saint Therese

From Amazon: St. Therese wrote this account of her life at the behest of her prioress sister two and a half years before she died. Writing in her cold cell for a short spell each evening, this obscure manuscript was completed just a few short weeks before she expired.

St. Therese is a beautiful example of a saint. She was called to serve at a young age. Her idea of serving God through everyday acts done with love is something even the lowliest of us can strive to do. I need to use her as an example when I am drowning in the laundry and car pools and try to see each of these tasks as a way to show love for my family.

Sometimes I wonder if I really have any faith or if I am just going throgh the motions. It helps to read that others have these moments too - this passage spoke to that for me...
"...forced myself to act as if I had the consolation of faith. When I sing of the bliss of heaven and the eternal possession of God, I get no joy from it for I am singing only of what I want to believe."

and then my habit of free form pleading prayer rather than the formulaic version of contrition, thanskgiving, petition...
"The power of prayer is really tremendous. It makes one likes a queen who can approach the king at anytime and get whatever she asks for. To be sure of an answer there is no need to recite from a book a formula composed for the occasion…"

and, finally this passage took me back to other works I have read that said, when you feel too empty to pray, rely on the old standards that you know by heart and that can come to your lips with ease..
"I say Our Father... When I feel so spiritually barren that I cannot summon up a single worthwhile thought."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Facebook Historical Fiction Book Club

This group reads some great books! I decided to gather them all in this post so if you catch one and find the idea of the book club interesting, you can see what else we have read, and can go over to facebook and sign up to join! For the books that I have reveiwed, you can click on the image to read what I thought.

November 2009

October 2009 selection - haven't posted my review yet but it's a fantastic book.

September 2009 This one wasn't a favorite.

August 2009. I didn't get this one finished. It is still in my TBR pile but the other folks reviews were very good.

July 2009 Great book - enjoyed every minute of reading it.

June 2009 This was a good one.

May 2009 I liked this one but I was in the minority!

April 2009 This was OK but although it was set in an historical time period it didn't include much history. Also - it's part of a trilogy and this part ends rather abrubtly.

March 2009 I didn't get this one read but from the others reviews, I didn't miss much.

February 2009 Very good book.

January 2009 Wow - surprising and interesting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Growing Old

Today's my brithday...I'm 45 years old. Last week on Facebook, my first "boyfriend" - from when I was thirteen years old, asked me to be his Facebook friend. Before I clicked confirm, I went and looked at all the pictures of me on my profile page and wished I knew how to use Photoshop so I could edit away twenty pounds and the crows feet and that damn crater of a worry line on my forehead. Oh well, I clicked confirm anyway, it's been thirty years since I have had any contact with him - surely he was prepared for a change or two! I thanked God I am happily married to Ex-Marine and it is only the sin of vanity that gives me any worry about what other men might think of my appearance. Then I ate a triple chocolate Klondike bar to make myself feel better - vanity and gluttony - only five more to go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A-Z Reading Challenge 2009 completed!

Hooray! I finished the challenge.
I wasn't sure when I started this challenge that I would be able to finish it so I am happy and proud that I did. I know one thing, if I come across a good "X" or "Z" book in the next few months, I'm saving it for 2010! Here's what I read to complete the challenge, You can click on the logo to check out the other folks who participated. Thank you so much to the organizers of the challenge - it was a pleasure to be a part of it!

A- Amethyst Dreams by Phyllis Whitney
B- Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier
C- Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitgerald
D- Dry by Augusten Burroughs
E- Eden Close by Anita Shreve
F- Fourth of July by James Patterson
G- Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
H- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I- Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
J- Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark
K- Kitchen Privileges by Mary Higgins Clark
L- Lowcountry by Anne Rivers Siddons
M- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
N- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
O- One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
P- The Power of Simple Prayer by Joyce Meyer
Q- The Quiet American by Graham Greene
R- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
S- Soul Catcher by Michael White
T- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
U- Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson
V- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
W- When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
X- The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson
Y- The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
Z- Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

From Amazon's product description: From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. It's the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.

Wow, what a sad book, and it's not even an Oprah pick. This story was sad but thinking back, I'm not even sure if I cried. I didn't fall in love with this couple. Yates shows us in great detail the breakdown of their marriage but I didn't really care enough about the marriage to be affected by it. There were some glimpses into their pasts that may have made me more sympathetic to them if there had been more of it but the glimpses weren't enough for me to justify their behavior. Now, I'm not made of stone, the ending got to me, not because of April but because of what April does - that was terrible. Now that I have read it, I understand why when I asked my practically perfect friend, Mary Poppins, if she liked it, she said, "Well, it's hard to say." It's not a book you "like" because the subject matter doesn't fit with "like" but it is a satisfying read and I'm glad I read it.

The Nurse in my office says the movie was great so I'll have to add this title to the list of movies I ought to watch!

This book is my "R" for the A-Z Reading Challenge and ..drum roll please...I've completed it! Click on the logo to see all the books I read.

This is one of the books on my list for Fall Into Reading 2009. Click on the logo to see my progress.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

From Amazon: "God, he was a smart kid..." So why did Christopher McCandless trade a bright future--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in an abandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While it doesn't—cannot—answer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable light along the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drive people to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways.

This was a book that I had to start twice to get into and even the second time when I finished it, it really didn't engage me easily - it took effort to listen through. I wondered if I had it in printed form if some of the lengthy quotes from other works and the author's meanderings through his own life would have been "skim over" material for me and I would have just stuck with the meat of the story of Chris McClandess. The combination of sources presented - interviews wih people he met, the diary he kept, and so forth, give a vivid picture of Chris. Hearing how close he actually was to civilization when he died was heartbreaking. It reminded me of when I hiked the Camino de Santiago in Spain and would sometimes feel like we were in the middle of nowhere with no hope of ever finding the next town and then when you did get to the next town, you'd figure out you had been walking parallel to a major throoughfare the whole day long.

I will probably watch the movie now - I have it Tivo'd and waiting - just to see how they translated the story to the screen.

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This stack of books were all from our church bazaar. From bottom to top we have...
Outliers by Macolm Gladwell I keep looking at this one in the store - I believe the idea is that the people who have been successful - Gates and such - have put in hours and hours of time where others did not and that they had some advantage of timing, location, etc. to allow them to put in those hours.

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith I haven't read a Ladies detective book in forever - what a treat to find one!

Twelve Ordinary Men by John Mcarthur This will be an adoration hour book. Our church has perpetual adoration - the Blessed Sacrament, a consecrated host, is exposed for adoration in a small chapel 24 hours a day. Members of the parish sign up for a regular hour to sit with the Lord and spend time in prayer. I look for books to read during this time that are faith based and might lead me naturally to prayer and reflection.

Pope Joan by Donna Woodfolk Cross It seems hypocritical to talk of faith and devotion but have the very next book be one that goes against the teachings of the church! Oh well - I find books about the church fascinating - even secular ones. The premise of this one, that a girl was able to ascend to the papacy disguised as a boy is especially intriguing. I read it , I enjoy it, and I remember - it's fiction!

Say When and Dream When You're Feeling Blue both by Elizabeth Berg I've read two of hers before (Open House and The Year of Pleasures) and they were both good. They didn't make me run out and buy more but when these were in the piles I was happy to find them.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon This one got a ton of buzz when it came out but I never read it. I am looking forward to reading it now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

From Amazon: Whether by nature or by nurture, Ma and Pa Sedaris certainly knew something about raising funny kids. Amy Sedaris has built a cult following for her Comedy Central character Jerri Blank, and David, the more famous of the two siblings, continues to spin his personal history into comedic gold. A good chunk of the material in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim debuted in other media outlets, such as The New Yorker, but Sedaris's brilliantly written essays deserve repeat reads.

Another good one by David Sedaris. This one was not as laugh out loud funny as the others I have read but still solidly entertaining. Sedaris' descriptions of his childhood self, the boy who decopauged the outlet covers in his room, really tickle me. His eccentric family takes the stage again mostly for laughs but also in a rather reflectve piece about whether or not it is kind to them to place them in the spotlight.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm still here...

I have 15+ posts in draft form so I am just a wee bit behind on my blogging! What have I been doing? A trip to North Carolina for work, trip to the in-laws for a family event - baptising my newest niece, and our gigantic church bazaar (at which I found a great stack of books that I hope to post on Mailbox Monday next week!). And, I have been reading a lot too - six, maybe seven books - I'll have to get organized and figure it out. I also have tried to gather all the blogs I followed by various means onto a single Google Reader and now intend to figure out how to link that to my blog so it shows. So I've been clicking and reading and commenting instead of writing!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge

Egad, another challenge! I don't need any more to read but if I am interpreting the rules for this challenge correctly, this would seem to be a very gentle challenge - just read some Maud Hart Lovelace. Period. And I was already planning to do that because I had gotten a copy of the newly reissued "Heavens to Betsy" and "Betsy in Spite of Herself" from Book Club Girl and I want to read them before I pass them on to my convert. A Library is a Hospital will be posting "various reviews and tidbits about Mrs. Lovelace and her books." Doesn't get any better than that, now does it?

Enter here at A Library is the Hospital of the Mind.