Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's On Your Nightstand? March 2011

This monthly feature is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last fourth Tuesday of every month. Click on the logo to go and check out all the participants. (As you can see if you click through, I am a week late, I was thinking last but it is actually fourth...oops!)

Starting from the bottom...
All The Time in the World - This was a win from Goodreads, I've read the first few stories and should finish it up within the next few days.
Sarah's Key - This is our local library's book club selection for March. The meeting is next week so if I am going to participate I need to get busy reading!
Miss Hidreth Wore Brown - This is a really fun collection of essays of
Southern humor. I've read it once but need to read it again to write a
review for the blog tour coming up in April.
Thomas Jefferson- This one has been hanging around forever, I just need to buckle down and get it done. It's for the President's Reading project which I am very sloooooowly participating in. (I won't say completing because there is no hope of me ever completing it!) I am beginning to wonder who comes after Jefferson, (Washington, Adams, Jefferson,  ____), that's why I am doing this project because my knowledge of history is so lacking.
The Diary of a Young Girl - Since I took this picture, I have finished this one. I had read it before when I was younger and went through my World War II phase - read The Hiding Place and this one and I don't remember what else. But it had been so many years it was like reading it for the first time. Now I want to watch the movie. I rented it to watch last weekend, didn't, returned it two days late with the accompanying late fees and am now preparing to rent it again - what's the definition of insanity?

This second group is my possible "L" pile. I am working on the A-Z Reading Challenge and ready for an "L" book. These all look good and I have heard great things about three of the four. Haven't heard anything about the Dorothea Benton Frank and she can be iffy for me, but she is such a quick read and so light. I may have to pick that one just as a palette cleanser after the heavier stuff above. If you click  through on the A-Z Challenge you will see that I skipped "E". None of my "E" books excite me (The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Ella Minnow Pea, and Echo). Is there a wonderful "E" titled book that I should be looking for? What I have in my TBR pile just doesn't speak to me.

So for "L" it is either...

Little Giant of Aberdeen County
The Lace Reader
The Land of Mango Sunsets
Little Bee

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started 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). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Laura at I'm Booking It. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.

From Goodreads: 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.
The book club at my local library picked this one as their March selection at right about the same time that I found it in a thrift store. I decided that was a sign that I was meant to read it and maybe even attend the book club meeting and meet some people outside of my regular circle! I only have a week to get it read so we'll see how this pans out!

From Goodreads: At twelve, Emily Parmenter knows alone all too well. Left mostly to herself after her beautiful young mother disappeared and her beloved older brother died, Emily is keenly aware of yearning and loss. Rather than be consumed by sadness, she has built a life around the faded plantation where her remote father and hunting-obsessed brothers raise the legendary Lowcountry Boykin hunting spaniels. It is a meager, narrow, masculine world, but to Emily it has magic: the storied deep-sea dolphins who come regularly to play in Sweetwater Creek; her extraordinary bond with the beautiful dogs she trains; her almost mystic communion with her own spaniel, Elvis; the dreaming old Lowcountry itself. Emily hides from the dreaded world here. It is enough.

And then comes Lulu Foxworth, troubled daughter of a truly grand plantation, who has run away from her hectic Charleston debutante season to spend a healing summer with the quiet marshes and river, and the life-giving dogs. Where Emily's father sees their guest as an entrée to a society he thought forever out of reach, Emily is at once threatened and mystified. Lulu has a powerful enchantment of her own, and this, along with the dark, crippling secret she brings with her, will inevitably blow Emily's magical water world apart and let the real one in—but at a terrible price.
Anne Rivers Siddons is an author I like, her stories are often set in the Lowcountry and I enjoy that. This one looked good so I picked it up but there's no urgency to read it so it may be awhile!

From Goodreads: When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. Henry and Clare's attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveler's Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it's about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.This one got past me and I didn't really mind until I listened to Her Fearful Symmetry on audio and loved it. So I decided I need to read this one and then rent the movie!

From Goodreads: From Ragtime and Billy Bathgate to World’s Fair, The March, and Homer & Langley, the fiction of E. L. Doctorow comprises a towering achievement in modern American letters. Now Doctorow returns with an enthralling collection of brilliant, startling short fiction about people who, as the author notes in his Preface, are somehow “distinct from their surroundings—people in some sort of contest with the prevailing world”.

This stunning collection, contains six unforgettable stories that have never appeared in book form and a selection of previous Doctorow classics.

All the Time in the World affords us another opportunity to savor the genius of this American master.
This was a win on Goodreads First Reads. My only recollection of E.L. Doctrow is reading Ragtime at about age thirteen enjoying the story well enough but then going back and rereading all the sex scenes because it was one of my first more mature selections and was quite a shift from Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden! I've already the first few stories and while I haven't fallen in love with any of the characters yet, I'm connecting with the stories and finding them interesting (and tyhey've all been clean reads thus far!).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Girls' Night In edited by Lauren Henderson and others

From Goodreads: In this must-have short-story anthology, Jennifer Weiner revisits one of her Good in Bed characters (and tells the story from, ahem, his point of view), Jill A. Davis (Girls' Poker Night) offers a darkly humorous take on starting over in New York and working with "the Elizabeths," Sarah Miynowski (Milkrun) tempts fate (and an on-again-off-again boyfriend) and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (The Dirty Girls Social Club) considers how different the words lady and woman are when paired with cat. Girls' Night In features stories about growing up, growing out of, moving out, moving on, falling apart and getting it all together.

When I saw this book, I thought, "Jackpot! This is going to be fun!". But in actuality, it was not. There were some good stories but there were also several I didn't even finish. I guess that would go with a slot machine analogy, wouldn't it? Sometimes you get cherries and sometimes you get lemons! The fist story, "Party Planner", by Meg Cabot was a win, cute tale told in e-mail about a young office staffer charged with planning their office party and, of course, everything goes wrong. "Changing People" by Sophie Kinsella was cute too. It yielded one of my favorite lines as a character posing as a designer says, "I'm a qualified specialist in mantelpiece adornment." The one by Jennifer Weiner was just okay for me probably because it was based on one of the characters in her book, Good in Bed, and I haven't read the book (yet). So, I pretty much liked the stories by the authors I knew and already liked, no new winners for me with this one.

This book counts for a few challenges...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wondrous Words Wednesday (lite)

From Goodreads: Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester. The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman's quest for self-respect.

What a great story! It had all the elements - lovers, crazies, villains, interesting settings, and a couple of twisty turns in the plot. Some of the classics I read and think, "Why? Why is this book considered wonderful?" Usually it's because the language is so difficult for me that I have trouble understanding it enough to follow the plot. The language in this one was challenging too. But, I had a different experience in that reading on the iPad when I got to a word I didn't know I just hit dictionary and there was the definition. I hit the dictionary button A LOT! Here are some of the words I looked up in the first 20% of the book but it's Wondrous Words Wednesday lite because although I am discussing the challenging words there were too many to try to list their definitions!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun by clicking on the logo to go to bermudaonions.


I read this book as part of the Jane Eyre challenge on Goodreads in anticipation of the movie coming out!

It also counts for some other challenges...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started 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). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Laura at I'm Booking It. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.
From Goodreads: We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.
nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there ... Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.
This one was on all the blogs last year and I kept waiting for a copy to fall in my lap and, voila, here it is, hooray!

From Goodreads: Sweetgrass is a historical tract of land in South Carolina that has been home to the Blakely family for eight generations. But Sweetgrass--named for the indigenous grass that grows in the area--is in trouble. Bulldozers are leveling surrounding properties. And the Blakelys could be forced to sell the one thing that continues to hold their disintegrating family together. For some of the Blakelys, the prospect of selling Sweetgrass is bittersweet--for others, it is completely unimaginable. But as they find the strength to stay and fight, they realize that their bond as a family is all they need to stay together.
Mary Alice Monroe is a local author that I keep hearng good things about but the only book of hers that I have read, Time Is A River, is the rare one set some place other than the Carolina Lowcountry. I found this one in a thrift shop and it's autographed - to someone else....but still, it's autographed!

From Goodreads: They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.

Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last of five girls born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife, she yearns to soar beyond the confines of the land that has been her family's birthright for generations.

Dana Dickerson is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters who waste their lives on failed dreams, she longs for stability and rootedness.

Different in nearly every way, Ruth and Dana share a need to make sense of who they are and to find their places in a world in which neither has ever truly felt she belonged. They also share a love for Dana's wild and beautiful older brother, Ray, who will leave an indelible mark on both their hearts.

Told in the alternating voices of Ruth and Dana, The Good Daughters follows these "birthday sisters" as they make their way from the 1950s to the present. Master storyteller Joyce Maynard chronicles the unlikely ways the two women's lives parallel and intersect—from childhood and adolescence to first loves, first sex, marriage, and parenthood; from the deaths of parents to divorce, the loss of home, and the loss of a beloved partner—until past secrets and forgotten memories unexpectedly come to light, forcing them to reevaluate themselves and each other.

Moving from rural New Hampshire to a remote island in British Columbia to the '70s Boston art-school scene, The Good Daughters is an unforgettable story about the ties of home and family, the devastating force of love, the healing power of forgiveness, and the desire to know who we are.
This was another one that was all over the blogs last year when it came out. I'm a year behind but still happy to read it now.

From Goodreads: Years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive a child have broken more than Angie DeSaria’s heart. Following a painful divorce, she moves back to her small Pacific Northwest hometown and takes over management of her family’s restaurant. In West End, where life rises and falls like the tides, Angie’s fortunes will drastically change yet again when she meets and befriends a troubled young woman.
Angie hires Lauren Ribido because she sees something special in the seventeen-year-old. They quickly form a deep bond, and when Lauren is abandoned by her mother, Angie offers the girl a place to stay. But nothing could have prepared Angie for the far-reaching repercussions of this act of kindness. Together, these two women—one who longs for a child and the other who longs for a mother’s love—will be tested in ways that neither could have imagined.
I read Firefly Lane last year and enjoyed it very much so I couldn't resist another book by Kristin Hannah, this one sounds good too.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hitched by Carol Higgins Clark

From Goodreads: Nothing spices up a wedding week better than a homicide. As Regan Reilly races around Manhattan, making last-minute preparations for her nuptials, a murderer is in the wings. Carol Higgins Clark's nicely modulated whodunit will please readers of her light, humorous fare.

Well, it was okay. The story was told so simplistically that it was almost insulting – this is obviously intended to be the lightest of light reads because absolutely no thought is required on the part of the reader – just get from one word to the next and all will be revealed – explained so plainly there is no way you can miss a clue. And, yet, at the same time it was a bit confusing because of sheer volume -there were so many stories within the story. The premise is a designer bridal shop being robbed of five dresses so we meet all five brides and each has a mystery involved and a lot of them eventually overlap. It was probably more fun to create this elaborate web of interweaving characters and stories than it was to listen to it – kind of like when someone wants to tell you about the dream they had last night. Another nail in the coffin was that it was read by the author. She had a genuine northern accent to portray all these Yankees but it was just a little grating. But…there are more than a dozen books in the series so obviously there are a lot of people who DO enjoy the series. In fact even I’ve read another one before, Zapped, as my Z book one year for the A-Z Reading Challenge.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

From Goodreads: The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider's look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob's daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah--all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery.

This is one of those books that every woman in the book world read – about ten years ago. I’ve had it in my TBR pile for quite awhile and even picked it up to start more than once but it just never caught my interest enough to keep going. I’m not sure why it worked this time but it did. One change, this time I relaxed and didn’t try to make perfect sense of all the complex relationships right off the bat; there are multiple wives all having multiple children plus a few in-laws – a lot of people hanging out around the outside of that red tent. Letting go like that was a good decision because some of the characters from the beginning don’t become important again for a long time so no need to stress about getting all of them sorted out! Instead I just kind of let the imagery take over and saw the happenings – the worship, the feasts, the time spent in the tent – and enjoyed all those interesting scenes. By the time the main character, Dinah, is taking leave of her family and a different set of characters come in, I was feeling pretty confident about all of it. The historical details were fascinating especially the blend of Christian stories and pagan rituals. I wonder how much of it is true. (Not enough to go off and research it but enough to muse about it here!) I am glad I finally read The Red Tent, it was interesting, and I feel a wee bit smarter for having accomplished it - isn't that always the way it is with historical fiction!

This is the auhor's website. She's written twelve books - this one and eleven others I have never heard of until now.

This book counts for a few challenges: