Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yes, it's been quiet...

I have a leadership role in our little Catholic schools largest fundraiser. It's taking up more time than I imagined! It's worth every minute as all proceeds go to the scholarship fund so that families with financial difficulties who want their child to have a Catholic education can still do so. And with the economy still slow - that includes a lot of my friends who are in businesses like real estate or sales. blogging! (I also hosted Tween's 13th birthday party last weekend - that's a post all it's own! Boys, girls, dancing, Silly String...CHAOS!)

I read a great LOL book...The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Party - or some combination of those words - I'll verify the title before I write my review! And today, David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice came in the mail - woo hoo - or Ho ho ho! That's one I plan to read for the Christmas Reading Challenge if I ever get time to put a post up and join! I have also finished our Facebook Historical fiction selection for this month - The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran - a good one too. The selection next month is A Christmas Carol - that would work for the Christmas Reading Challenge too if...oh, never mind!

Tomorrow we pack our car and travel 8+ hours up to Northern Virginia for my husband's grandmother's 90th birthday. 90 is still pretty impressive to me despite the fact that I am over halfway there! Another impressive fact about the 90 year old Granny is that she had 13 children - different times! Since it's such a long trip, we are just skipping school next week and staying through Thanksgiving! So...the blogging drought will continue.

If over the Thanksgiving holiday, you're traveling on 95 too - wave!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

From the author's website: Nan has just turned fifty, and is dealing with how it feels to be an aging woman in this culture. She is very much focused on all she is losing. She decides to take off on a driving trip, and the novel alternates between entries she makes in a journal and letters to her husband, Martin. By the end of the book, she has switched her focus from all she's losing to all she has.

I am still on the fence about Elizabeth Berg. How strange is it that I can't decide if I like this author or not? (Open House, The Year of Pleasures)The main character in this novel, Nan, had such appeal for me. She examines her body in the mirror and wonders at the changes that growing old has brought. She questions how much she yielded her own life and desires to those of her husband. It's a coming of age story for the menopausal set. But once again, it moved just a bit too slowly for my taste. Her journey was mildly interesting in a voyeuristic "intimate look" kind of way; it kept me turning pages. The negative is that there wasn't any successful dramatic tension. If I ever felt like Nan actually might DO something, it would have generated some excitement for me. The positive is that Elizabeth Berg writes some beautiful stuff, descriptions that are lovely, and all of it is easy to read so it's a "no stress" page turner that goes quickly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's In A Name Challenge -2

I didn't actually sign up for this challenge but I saw a wrap up post over at Beth Fish Reads and thought it looked like fun. So I am crashing the party a bit and just posting my list; you know (for me) making the lists is the most fun part of challenges! The real participants have their postings here at the blog dedicated to the challenge.

A book with a profession in the title: Lifeguard by James Patterson

A book with a time of day in the title: Night by Elie Wiesel

A book with a relative in the title:The Brothers Boswell by Philip Baruth

A book with a body part in the title: Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark

A book with a building in the title: Open House by Elizabeth Berg

A book with a medical condition in the title: Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

From the Amazon product description: Dr. Bill Brockton, the founder of the world-famous Body Farm, is hard at work on a troubling new case. A young man's battered body has been found in nearby Chattanooga, and it's up to the talented Dr. Brockton to assemble the pieces of the forensic puzzle. Brockton is brought into the case by the rising star of the state's mechanical examiners, Jess Carter.

Just as they're on the verge of breaking the case open, events take a terrifying turn. Brockton has re-created the Chattanooga death scene at the Body Farm, but a killer tampers with it in a shocking way: placing another corpse at the setting, confusing authorities and putting Brockton's career and life in jeopardy. Soon Brockton himself is accused of the horrific new crime, and the once-beloved professor becomes an outcast. As the net around him tightens, Brockton must use all of his forensic skills to prove his own innocence . . . before he ends up behind bars with some of the very killers he's helped to convict.

Ahhh... creepy. That is the only word that can describe the concept of The Body Farm. The body farm is a research facility that uses corpses to simulate crime scenes and studies the way they decompose in order to determine things like time of death. There's lots of boiling bones, cutting up body parts, and checking rotting flesh. This book certainly captured my attention and held it throughout. That was despite the fact that the narrator was maybe a little bit flat. He did a nice job with the variety of characters that he needed to give voices to but the main character was a very low-key, quiet scientific type so it could have gotten dull quickly if the story itself wasn't good.

As is my habit, I have started a series with the second book. (I am failing the 1st in a Series challenge and now am tempted to start a "2nd in a Series" challenge because I think I would have that one wrapped up!) Starting in the middle didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book. There is some history between a few of the main characters that we don't know the details of but enough background is given to keep this story on track.

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Third time is the charm?

I am about to try and watch Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. It's my third try...I fell asleep the first two times. If it doesn't hold my interest this time, I am D-O-N-E.

I am watching this movie as part of the Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word.

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 past week I hit a local thrift store that supports our Child Abuse Preventions Association. Someone with similar taste to mine must have brought some books by because I found several to bring home - score! Take a look.......

At the bottom is The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. I am a little intimidated by the size, this is one big book! But I loved She's Come Undone so I have want to try this one. I read She's Come Undone before I began blogging so there's no link to a review but I remember being amazed that this man captured the girl's voice so well and created such a memorable character. Anyone who's read it, I'm sure, has the scene where she meets the roommate forever etched in their mind!

Next is Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips this is one I've seen reviewed but I can't remember which blog.

Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled by Dorothy Gilman as I said here, if it drops in my lap, I'll read it. And this one has just dropped in my lap!

Just A Guy by Bill Engvall. When the Navy bought me my new government car last Spring, it came with free XM satellite radio and that included the Blue Collar Comedy channel - talk about your guilty pleasure. I can do without the coarse humor of some of the guys but Bill Engvall keeps it clean and still manages to be very funny. But, alas, much to my dismay, the free trial period expired and XM was gone! So this book will give me the Bill fix I'm jonesing for; I'm looking forward to reading and laughing. And if it makes you as sad as it makes me to think of me driving around without XM, feel free to write your congressman. I bet if all of America just added a penny or two to their taxes, I could have XM back in my government car.

And at the top of the stack is a Ted Dekker book - ever heard of him? I hadn't until I started reading book blogs and his name was everywhere. So I found this one, kiss, and I am going to see what all the fuss is about!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Naked by David Sedaris

From Amazon's product description: Welcome to the hilarious, strange, elegiac, outrageous world of David Sedaris. In Naked, Sedaris turns the mania for memoir on its ear, mining the exceedingly rich terrain of his life, his family, and his unique worldview-a sensibility at once take-no-prisoners sharp and deeply charitable. A tart-tongued mother does dead-on imitations of her young son's nervous tics, to the great amusement of his teachers; a stint of Kerouackian wandering is undertaken (of course!) with a quadriplegic companion; a family gathers for a wedding in the face of imminent death. Through it all is Sedaris's unmistakable voice, without doubt one of the freshest in American writing.

David Sedaris does it again - great laugh out loud stories. I enjoyed this book more than the last one I read, Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim, it seems like this one had more of his family in it and they are one of the strangest/funniest groups you've ever met. This one had an extra long story or two in the second half; I find that those longer ones drag a bit for me - I like it short and snappy! Although, one of the longer stories was a pages long essay on David's excursion to a nudist park for a week's vacation that kept me entertained all the way through! (I have to venture a guess that is where the title came from.) I can relate to so many of David's childhood memories - reading racy books while babysitting - somewhat fearful that the people would come home and catch you, dreaming that perhaps you are really royalty that has been placed in the wrong family by mistake, and the chapter on David's tics made me think of Tween who has displayed tics in the past although not to the "light switch licking" extent that Sedaris does. David's twisted take on his suburban chidlhood is a delightful read.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

King of Torts by John Grisham

From the author's website: The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter has been there too long and, like most of his colleagues, dreams of a better job in a real firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another of the many senseless murders that hit D.C. every week.

As he digs into the background of his client, Clay stumbles on a conspiracy too horrible to believe. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a complex case against one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, looking at the kind of enormous settlement that would totally change his life—that would make him, almost overnight, the legal profession’s newest king of torts…

It's been a lot of years since I read a Grisham book and my memory said, "You really like this guy." so I was excited when I stumbled across the audiobook for King of Torts in a local second hand store. I did like the story, up to a point, unfortunately, at that point, the book just ended. I felt cheated out of a climatic scene and a solid conclusion. Where was the courtroom drama? Where was the redemption for mistakes made or, perhaps, even punishment? The music that signals 'end of story' started playing and I started checking for another disc, thinking, "Really? It's going to just end there?" And it did - but the first part was great....

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Women Unbound Reading Challenge

This month a new challenge started, Women Unbound. Click to read the details but here is a short blurb from the dedicated website, "The challenge runs from November 1, 2009-November 30, 2010, but you may join in the fun whenever you wish! Participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’"

***UPDATE***I'll post what I have actually read here but leave my list of good intentions below.
1. Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
1. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
The thing I love about these challenges is perusing my stacks of TBR's and finding the perfect fit. It's the same optimistic feeling I have when I come across books on my wish list and purchase them despite knowing I have more books than I will probably read in my LIFETIME already in my house.

As I looked through my stacks, I was fairly confident making my non-fiction selections. The fiction is a little shakier. I am basing my potential reads just on the back cover blurb; I think I'll have to read at least a bit before I know if it is truly a good fit for this challenge. Here's what I have come up with.....

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Thinking Out Loud by Anna Quindlen
The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Wonder They Call Him Savior by Max Lucado

From the author's website: Max Lucado takes you through the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—bringing to life Peter’s denial, Pilate’s hesitancy, and John’s loyalty. Relive the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, from the foggy garden of Gethsemane to the incandescent room of the resurrection.

I read this one during my adoration hour. I think it took me four Sundays - so four hours. And, while I felt like I enjoyed it as I read, I really can't think of any particular message that leaped out at me. It was a series of essays about the crucifixion but there wasn't a distinct order to the book that gave me some framework for understanding what Lucado's message was - nothing seemed especially meaningful or inspiring. To clarify - Jesus's story is both meaningful and inspiring - I'm just not sure what Max Lucado brought to the table to make it more so. But I have enjoyed Max Lucado's books in the past - at least his ones for children, so I will try another.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart

From the Amazon product description: The fabulous foursome readers embraced as The Mysterious Benedict Society is back with a new mission, significantly closer to home. After reuniting for a celebratory scavenger hunt, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are forced to go on an unexpected search--a search to find Mr. Benedict. It seems that while he was preparing the kids' adventure, he stepped right into a trap orchestrated by his evil twin Mr. Curtain.

The kids are back and I'm so glad. Somehow this one got by me. I bought it for Youngest ages ago and thought (I don't know why) that I had already read it. But I hadn't and he knew that so he wrapped it up for me and gave it to me a few weeks ago on my birthday. That and the homemade coupon book for chores are why he's got my heart in his hands - he's just the sweetest, most thoughtful kid! He would make a great addition to the Benedict Society. The children that have been selected to be a part of the Mysterious Benedict Society (the selection process happens in the first book) have all sorts of great qualities. Each one's unique talent contributes to the group and they are amazingly forgiving of each other's flaws. Nothing is going to match the initial wonder and amazement at reading the first book in this series but Perilous Journey is a solid sequel and was a pleasure to read. The kids are in and out of impossible predicaments and they do it all using brains and talent. Now I have to see if the third book is out in paperback yet so I can get that for Youngest for Christmas.