Tuesday, December 28, 2010

making things a little more advanced, like our minds . . ..

Hi book friends,
Katie had this idea tonight and I thought I'd start to put in motion. She thought it would be fun if we added our names in the "label" section of each post we write. What I understood from her reasoning (correct me if I'm wrong Katie) is that we will be able to search by as well as genre on the links on the side of the blog. If this is confusing to you in anyway, please only ask and I will clarify.

I have taken the liberty of adding names to some of the most recent posts. If you have written a post you can add your name as a label by adhering to the following instructions:

To add a label onto your post look at the bottom right corner of the text box where you type  your post and you will see a box entitled "labels." There you can create new labels, use existing labels, and add your name. Each label will appear on the left side of the screen where you can filter posts by genre.


All Souls

Well, as long as we're all reading books about cities, here's one!

I know that you know that I exaggerate ALL THE TIME, but here's the thing. This book is so good, and all of you should read it. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time.

My sister recommended it to me, she read it for one of her social work classes, and it really is so interesting and heartbreaking at the same time.

I know Katie will love it, because it's about Boston. Specifically, a neighborhood called Southie, and even more specifically the housing project Old Colony.

The guy who wrote the book grew up there, and this is the story of his family. Of the 11 children in his family, 4 died. And only one of them had an illness. In this neighborhood there are a lot of murders, suicides, and drug overdoses every year. Way too many teenagers die. 

It's an honest but not too painful depiction of growing up in an incredibly tough neighborhood. I was a little worried it would be really graphic and make me bawl my eyes out the whole time, but it wasn't and I didn't. I shed a few tears, of course, but it's not just some gut wrenching sob story. He loves his neighborhood, and even moved back there.

It's funny but also sad, it's quick moving, and everyone in it just comes alive. The best person in the book is his mother, always referred to as Ma. To give you a good example of the kind of lady she is, one night she got shot by a stray bullet while standing in the kitchen. It grazed her side, right under her armpit. She said there was no need to call 911 even though she was bleeding a lot, because she was going to go play her accordion at a pub (which she did regularly for extra cash). She changed into a black shirt so no one could see the blood, stuffed a bunch of toilet paper in her bra, and kept arguing and joking with EMTs about going to the hospital, telling her she'd only get in the ambulance if they'd drop her off at the pub. They finally made her get in the ambulance, but when they got to the hospital she hopped out the back and ran to the pub and bragged to all the Irish peeps about getting shot and not even seeing a doctor.

Another amazing chapter is about his 13 year old brother being charged with a murder he did not do, and all the corruption that happens in the system. It's pretty incredible and pretty awful.

Anyway, I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not enjoying it. I highly recommend it. I borrowed it from my sister and had it for a few days before I started it, and once I read it I kept thinking, "I can't believe I had this in my possession for any length of time without reading it." It's really really REALLY good.

One disclaimer--if you don't want to read the F word, don't read this. It's set in the projects in Boston, so . . . yeah. I'ts not gratuitous, but it is there.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I realized that I was reading two similar...but opposite books at the same time. Shanghai Girls was about immigrants to the San Francisco area and this book, Brooklyn, was about a girl who immigrated to New York from Ireland. It took me a  long time to read because it wasn't exactly a page turner, but once I finally got into it I really liked it. I would put it in the same category as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (oh, duh. Brooklyn), but not as great. Definitely worth reading for something calm and sorta feel-good (but also sorta tragic). Okay I'm not doing a very good job selling this, but I really did like it. My only complaint was that the time period wasn't totally clear. Sometime between 1915 and 1935 is my guess. Who knows, maybe it said it somewhere and I missed it!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Let me just start with the description of the author that is on inside cover of the the back of the book:

"Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, England, and attended St. John's College at Cambridge University. After graduating he spent several years contributing material to radio and television shows, including 'Monty Python.'  He has also worked as a hospital porter, barn builder, chicken shed cleaner, bodyguard, and radio producer. He is not married, has no children, and does not live in Manhattan."

I read this description when I was a little more than half-way done with the book and I found it very fitting. It was written in the same style as the book is. In two words, this book is random and clever. It is a fun and quick read. It is the first in a series of 5 books and is a New York Times Bestseller.

What I liked about this book is that it keeps you interested because everything that happens is unexpected and "improbable." It is laden with sarcasm and has moments of good humor. I enjoyed reading it.

If you are looking for a book to inspire this may not be what you want, but if you want a book that is different from other books and refreshingly original I recommend this one.

In 2005 a movie version of the story came out which I enjoyed as well.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some Suggestions

I just read an article that you might be interested in for last minute gift suggestions or just some suggestions for books you might want to read during the holidays.  The author of the article has written a book about books.  That might be interesting too.  She's been a pretty good source for book suggestions for me in the past.  I thought some of these suggestions looked good too.  See what you think.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wives and Daughters

I just barely finished Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. It is a longer book and so I had been putting it off for some time, but I checked the BBC movie out from the library and watched it to get me excited about reading the book and even before I finished the movie (I had to watch it in installments, because I didn't have a 5-hour block to dedicate to watching a movie, although I wish I had for this one) I started reading the book because it is fantastic!!!

Seriously. I am still so happy and giddy about this book that I really don't know what to say other than that for anyone who is a typical Jane Austen book lover and even for those who aren't, I think that you will LOVE this book. It is just so cute. That is probably the best word to describe it: cute.

The "main character"-ish Molly, is just so adorable. This book is on my love list for sure and definitely one of my new favorite chick flicks. 5 out of 5 starts hands down. I don't know why I hadn't heard about the sheer greatness of this book before. Love it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I finished reading this book over a week ago.  Actually, I listened to the audio version.  I really liked it, but I'm not sure what to say about it.  It is quite different from any other book I've read or listened to.  My first thought was, HOLY BIG WORDS!   There were quite a few words I didn't know the meaning of and quite a few French words too.  (I knew they were speaking French when the words started sounding like they had swallowed some Elmer's Glue.)  Anyway, combine those two things with some rants on philosophy the author gets into and the beginning of this book could scare you off.  Don't let it though.  I think you will like it if you keep at it.

It isn't a story that is plot-driven.  This one is all about the characters. The story has two narrators and the audio version I bought from Audible had two different readers.  The part of Madame Michel was read by an older woman, who, at first, sounded like she probably bought her cigarettes by the carton or maybe the case.  I grew to really like her reading though.  She was spot on with emphasizing the right words, making the pauses just right, and adding some dramatics to it without getting weird.  She really brought Madame Michel to life for me.  The younger narrator was really good too, but for me, her character wasn't as easy to like.

Renee Michel is a  54-year-old widowed concierge of  an upscale apartment building in Paris where Paloma Josse , the other main character and narrator, lives.  Paloma is the super-intelligent 12-year-old daughter of a diplomat and a socialite.  She doesn't relate well with her parents or her older sister and she plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday unless she finds something in the world worth living for.  Madame Michel is a very intelligent, well-read, self-taught  lover of art, books, music and movies.  She tries to hide behind a mask of stupidity or at least a mask of averageness, if that is a word, and doesn't want the upper-class people of the apartment building to know about her secret life.

I kept wondering when the two characters would interact, but when the elegant Japanese gentleman, Kakuro Ozu, moves into the building, it finally happens.   All the other tenants are intrigued by him and they all seem anxious to be in his favor.   But it is Renee and Paloma that catch his interest.  The story really picked up as the book becomes more about the relationship of these three.

 Renee's character was my favorite.   She had this extraordinary mind, inside a such a  seemingly ordinary person.   A review I read said, "She's a character we can all relate to, because don't we all feel just a little bit misunderstood, and wouldn't we all like to say we are more than what meets the eye? "   She told herself she didn't want others to know the real her and went to great lengths to keep her secrets, yet, I think she actually enjoyed being discovered;  finally being seen and fully understood by Paloma and Mr. Ozu.  We all tend to keep parts of ourselves hidden until we totally trust another person and when we find a person we fully trust, we want them to know us, the real us. 

I think I will try to buy this book in print.  There were some passages that were worth reading  over a few times and really savoring.  It's not necessarily the philosophical stuff. I doubt I'd have missed that if the author had left it out.  Sometimes I thought she was just writing it to show off.  Having said that, it was nice to have a book that made me  think and one of the main things I discovered is that I don't really think enough.   It was a smart book, that sometimes made me feel stupid, but it is a book with feeling too.  I definitely give it a thumbs up.  

This would be a fun book to have a live discussion about.  There are so many interesting little passages and discussing them would broaden my understanding and my appreciation of it.  

The references to Tolstoy and especially Anna Karenina made me want to read that next.  I know it is long and I'm not usually in to really long books.  I'm just wondering if anybody has read it and has an opinion about whether it's worth the time commitment.

Here's a picture of the most elegant hedgehog I could find on Google Images; just for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peace like a River

Katie asked me to do this awhile ago but I was worried I wouldn't remember all the goodness that this book is. I don't read a ton and it is not so uncommon for me to never finish a book. I know, I know, you are all disgusted. I am currently in the process of reading the HP series for the first time every. Again, disgust. Well you can expect a post on HP 5 coming right up if you are interested. Anyways, Tyler (my husband) and I read Peace like a River together and it changed my life. I seriously loved this book from the very first sentence.

It is the story of a regular family in the mid-West. Reuben, an eleven year old, narrates so you see his family from his perspective. He adores his older brother Davy and spends most of his time with his 8 year old sister, Swede, who is so amazing. Their dad is a janitor at the high school but is the sweetest most humble dad ever. Throughout the book Reuben witnesses him performing a number of different miracles. There are some underlaying themes here but that is all I will say because if you haven't read it you should. Probably most of you have though. This is definitely the best book I have read for a long time. Maybe EVER.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Before Green Gables

This was a fun book. It describes Anne's life before she reaches Green Gables. Because I am a sucker for all things L.M. Montgomery and I love spinoffs, I was very excited when I found this book. In some ways, it didn't disappoint - the details about Anne's early life give dimension to characters that were previously flat, almost villainized, such as Mrs. Hammond and Mrs. Thomas. You learn that Mrs. Thomas loved Anne's mom and that Mrs. Hammond has 8 children under the age of 4 (for some reason, I always thought there was more space between her "three sets of twins in succession"). You learn that Anne's mother was painfully shy and that Anne's father, unlike Anne, is very good at geometry.

However, this book was high on the cheese. There were many "cleverly insert perfectly correlating detail" moments. I think they were meant to make the book seem more believable as a true prequel to Anne of Green Gables but they just made it seem contrived.

Still, I enjoyed it and would recommend it, especially if you love L.M. Montgomery. 3 out of 5 stars. For more detailed rantings and ravings go to The Story Girl.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shanghai Girls

I'm going to start this out like a church talk: For those of you who don't know me, I'm Emily, Erin's friend. I finally finished a book, so I finally get to blog about it! (yes, I accidentally blogged about not a book the other day, if you saw a phantom blog post in your feed)

Shanghai Girls is about two sisters who grow up in China and emigrate to the United States. The story goes from the 1930s to the 1950s. I would say that the book is primarily about the relationship between the two sisters and their families, but it also is really interesting historically.  Overall I loved it, but I would warn anyone who doesn't like sad stories- China, immigration and communism are no picnic! It's not a very happy book, but a good one that makes you thankful. (Or as The Costco Connection said, "A powerful new story!")

I'd also warn that it gets pretty graphic at one point, which it pretty important to the story, but if you want to skip over it you'll still get the gist. There were some pretty annoyed ladies at the teacher book club who didn't like it, but it's not romance novel graphic, it's "horrible, awful, things happen to people and I feel bad for them" graphic.

Born to Run

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

All I am going to say about this book is that if you already love running, it will make you love it more. If you don't love running, but want to, this book can still make you gain a passion for running. And if you don't love running and don't even want to, I still recommend this book because I think you would still like it.

I listened to it on tape (while running sometimes) and the reader was good (it may actually have been the author, I forget) BUT the one thing I will say is that he does a lot of direct quotes from people and some of them swear and I don't know why but listening to it is worse than reading it for me. So, take that into consideration. But this is a definite must read.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Giver books 2 and 3

I hesitate to even call these 'sequels' to The Giver. I actually wouldn't call any of them sequels. The covers of the books say that they are 'companion' books, and I think that is a perfect description. They go together, but they aren't connected into one story. Gathering Blue and The Messenger are more connected than The Giver is to either of them. I hope that made sense.

Gathering Blue wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable at all either.

I felt like 'The Messenger' was really rushed, and it just didn't have the beauty of the unveiling of the story or the surprises or any of the emotion that The Giver had. I felt like it could have been a lot better, but as it was I was a little disappointed.

Basically I would say, if you want to read them, go for it. They won't taint your view of The Giver, like I was afraid they might. But, they could just as easily be skipped, and you wouldn't really miss anything.

That is as long as you've read The Giver.

Did I mention that everyone should read The Giver.

Because everyone should read The Giver.

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a beautiful story. It is about a would be 'perfect' society and one boy who is given a special calling within his community. It is written in a way that the differences in their society aren't stated, but are discovered as the reader sees things through the eyes of the protagonist. This story also has a very religious undertone also. What would life be like without the highs and the lows, with no opposition, no choice?

This is one of my top 5 absolutely must read books. Okay, top 2. It is technically a 'young adult' book, but I would never classify it as such. So beautiful and tragic, and just amazing. It will take you an afternoon to read, and you will thank yourself for it.

I found out a few weeks ago that this book is the first of a series. I was excited and a little disappointed at the same time. This book is so amazing on its own that I was worried if I read the other 2 books in the 'series' that I would lose a little bit of the love that I have for this book.

I did read the other two books, and I will post about them also, but this is my recommendation.

Read The Giver

If you haven't read it before I would say to read The Giver, and The Giver only. Don't read the other books.

If you have read it. I would say that it doesn't really matter if you read the other books or not. The Giver stands wholly and completely and wonderfully and beautifully on its own. The other books are good. Not great, but good, and I wouldn't call them 'sequels' at all. More like companion books. Gathering Blue (book #2) doesn't have any of the same characters at all. It isn't until book 3, The Messenger, that the characters of books 1 and 2 meet, and years have passed since The Giver took place.

The reason I give 2 different suggestions is that I wouldn't want someone who has never read The Giver to read all three books, one after another. I think you wouldn't fully appreciate The Giver, and just mush all 3 books together, as one continuing story. And that would be doing a sever injustice to one of my favorite books.

Make sense?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Glass Castle

Sorry to be a blog hog and post 2 days/books in a row, but I had to write about The Glass Castle.

I just finished it (like, 5 minutes ago), and I had to be sure all of you know that this is a must read. Casidy told me to read this book about a year ago, and I finally got around to reading it this week.

The very first chapter of the book has Jeannette telling how she was in the back of a taxi, headed to a party, when she saw her mother going through a dumpster, just another homeless lady in New York. She then told her driver to turn around and take her back to her apartment on Park Avenue.

She then goes back to the beginning and tells the story of her childhood, moving around all the time, mostly being practically homeless, her mom and dad never really having jobs, her dad as an alcoholic, etc. etc.

She has some truly amazing things happen in her life, this book is incredibly interesting. If you're like me, when you hear that someone wrote a "memoir," you're not really too interested, but this is a page turner. I really couldn't put it down. Like I said before, I made the mistake of starting this while I was still reading another book and had to force myself to finish the other one first.

One of the most remarkable things about this story is how she portrays her parents. She doesn't glamorize them at all, she tells it like it is, her mother's dramatic laziness, and her dad's alcoholism--but neither does she come across as bitter and angry, as many people would. She has an affection for them that the reader shares. By the end I would chuckle when her mom said something, thinking, "Oh, that is so like her." She really brought her family to life, and though you sympathize for their plight, you also kind of admire them. The thing I admired about her parents was their love of learning. They raised intelligent children because they had intelligent conversations about all sorts of things. There's a story in the book about how the mom was talking to someone else and mentioned Jackson Pollock, and the lady said, "I have Polish blood, so I don't appreciate you talking like that."

Mostly, they were pretty reprehensible parents, but the way she tells her life story made me love them too.

I give this a 5 out of 5 stars. I loved it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Their Eyes Were Watching God

I just finished this book, and I feel like I should have liked it more than I did. Because I've heard about it for years, and I feel like people always said, "Oh, you HAVE to read it." And I liked it, but it's not a new favorite.

For one thing, the dialogue is written phonetically to reflect the people's speech (Black people living in Florida, so probably from the Carribbean), and it makes it hard to get through for me. It was like 200 pages long but took me over 2 weeks to read.

The thing I liked the most was Janie, the main character. She is exactly what a heroine in a book should be, in my opinion. She was strong and loving and hard-working. The love story between her and Tea Cake is very sweet and I really liked that.

Something I liked, that I'm sure was a big deal, was the prejudice displayed of lighter skinned Black people toward dark skinned people. This book was written in 1937, not exactly a time when talking openly about race was common. I read online just now (while verifying the publication date) that some of the Harlem Renaissance writers criticized Zora Neale Hurston for highlighting this aspect of African American life.

As I said, it was a good book, and I enjoyed it, but it's not a new favorite. I didn't ever feel completely wrapped up in it, I almost felt obligated to sit down and read it sometimes. I started The Glass Castle when I had about 60 pages left in Their Eyes Were Watching God, and I was way more into The Glass Castle. I had to make myself finish Their Eyes Were Watching God rather than get into The Glass Castle.

Anyone else have a different experience with this book? What do you have to say about it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Zookeeper's Wife (Work in Progress)

This is a book that I picked up on a whim at Barnes and Noble. It is set in Poland during World War II and is the true story of a zoo transformed into a refuge for many Jews during the war. It is a work in progress because it has taken me over a month to finish. I have been distracted by other books (especially The Hunger Games Trilogy), but I keep coming back to it. It is not a "stay up all night to finish" book or a "I can't put it down" book, but it is a book that you will want to read because it has a good message. It is a book that reminds me there are good people doing good things in this world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Provo Library-ness

So... I am quickly becoming obsessed with the Provo Library. While I was figuring out how to get a library card this afternoon, I saw that they have "book club sets" of different books. You can get 15 books for 8 weeks at a time. I would imagine you probably have to reserve fairly well in advance but there is a schedule online. If there is a book we all want to read, those of us in the Provo area could sign up and get them together (aka book club...).

To Kill A Mockingbird

This year is  the 50th anniversary of  To Kill A Mockingbird, a great American classic.  I decided to read it again since it had almost been 50 years since I read it.  (I'm just kidding about that.  I'm not that old.) I didn't remember too much about the book except that I had enjoyed it.
You all know the story as most of you probably had to read it and discuss it and study it in high school.  It seems like that can either make you love a book more or hate it, but I think it would be pretty hard not to like this book.  It has great characters.  Scout and Jem are delightful and in my mind Mr. Darcy,  has nothing over on Atticus.  Maybe that just shows my age, I don't know.  
Anyway, I don't really know how to review books and I don't think this one needs reviewing, so I will just leave you with a few tidbits about Harper Lee that I have gleaned from the Internet, so I know they are all true.
First of all Harper Lee is a woman.  If you can believe it, I didn't know whether Harper was a man or a woman.  (Please, Kate and Rebecca; no comments about West Jefferson High School : )

To Kill a Mockingbird was the only book she ever had published.

She was a childhood friend to Truman Capote.  In fact the character, Dill, was based on him.  There was even a rumor that Truman Capote actually wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and had her put her name to it, but that was pretty much disproved through the years.

Her father was a well-respected lawyer in a small town.

Aunt Alexandra's character was based on her mother.

She has done very little public speaking in her lifetime.  When she does show up to receive an honor, she doesn't give acceptance speeches.
She became good friends with Gregory Peck, who played Atticus, in the movie adaptation of the book.  She knew his family well too.  In fact, one of Gregory Peck's grandsons, Harper Peck Voll,  is named after her.   I guess I wasn't the only one that couldn't figure out if Harper was a name for a girl or a boy.

She never married.  She is 84.

There is a TON of info out there in webland about the book and a lot more about her too, so if this peaks your curiosity, you've got some surfing to do.

I have never watched the movie.  Should I make the effort to find it for more reasons than to compare Atticus to Mr. Darcy?   If any of you have things to add about this book; what you liked, what you didn't, things you learned, etc., feel free to add to this.  Like I said, I really don't know how to review books.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Book Thief

So I actually have a blog for reviews of the books I read. But I thought maybe I couldt post little blurbs about the books I read, and if you want to read more about it you can visit my book review blog.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
5 out of 5 stars (8 out of 5 stars?)

I LOVE THIS BOOK! It was a huge surprise to me - I had no idea what to expect from it, except that it was narrated by Death (and that doesn't exactly tell you anything - it is just confusing until you read the book). If you want a more detailed summary and rantings and ravings go here. But for now, I will just tell you all to read this book. Make it next on your list. It's a winner.


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
4.5 out of 5 stars
I will be the first to tell you that I try not to jump too enthusiastically onto the blockbuster book bandwagons. You won't see me wearing a Team Jacob (or Team Peeta) T-shirt. But I did love this book. There is a reason it is so popular - it is a great story. I have heard many people say they were disappointed in this final installment of the Hunger Games Trilogy. I was impressed with it. The other two books were entertaining, gripping, and impossible to put down (I read Hunger Games from 10 pm to 6 am on a Saturday night). However, none of them made a huge impression on me. They were just interesting stories that I quickly forgot. This story made me think about life, love and sacrifice. I know, I know. Getting cheesy. I'll wrap up and just say that I loved this book and there was more to it than an entertaining story.

Posted by: Lorren

Gourmet Rhapsody

Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery
3.5 out of 5 stars

I liked this book. It was definitely in the style of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, with very "fancy" wording and descriptions. I loved it especially because it focused on food. It is the deathbed confession of a famous food critic (did you know food critics became famous? I didn't. But still) searching for the one flavor that will console him before death. His internal monologue is interrupted by the thoughts of those who have encountered him in their lives on finding out he is dying. It was an interesting read and well done, but not my favorite book of all time. Borrow it from someone.

Posted by: Lorren

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Les Miserables

If you haven't already read Les Miserables , do it. And I say that with force. DO IT.

A few years ago my husband and I had tickets to see the musical. Erin suggested that I read the book first, and my life is forever changed because of it. Jk...kind of.

I am so glad that I read the book! I'm sure I had more of a grasp on what was happening in the musical because I read the book, but the book...? So much deeper, so much more detail, and so much more feeling. I know that is usually the case with books that have been turned into plays and movies and such, but it could not be more true that it is with Les Mis.

I think you should see the play too but PLEASE read the book. After the play was over I was a little disappointed that the most heart-wrenching, beautiful parts of the book were not included. In the car on the way home I literally wept when I was explaining to my husband my favorite parts of the book that were left out. WEPT, I tell you. And I recall saying through my tears,

"Jean Val-Jean is a good guy, dang it!"

I don't think any other book has made me feel the way this book did. And I'm not sure that any other book can.

You will cry and you will love Jean Val-Jean.

I promise.


I will be honest. This is a silly book.

I saw it on the bookshelf of a recently made friend and asked her about it and she offered to let me borrow it. Now I didn't know this girl very well at the time, and even now, I don't know her extremely well and she doesn't know me that well either. I mention this in an attempt to explain that we weren't good enough friends for her to know my literature taste enough to know whether or not to recommend this book to me. She may have known it is a little ridiculous, but not known whether I am a ridiculous-book loving fool. Who knows.

In any case, when I started the book I kind of cringed as I read it because it uses phrases like "freaked me out" and other such phrases that sadly we all use in real life, but do not always find pleasure in finding them in literature. But the book is really short, so I decided to press on. And by the end of the book, I'll admit that I had started to kind of like it. It is nowhere near making any sort of "favorites" or "top . . . " anything for that matter, but it was just kind of a fun read by the end.

It is about a 30-year old girl who has never married and has an obsession with Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy and ends up getting the opportunity to go to this "Austenland" for 3 weeks where everyone takes on the lifestyle and customs of that time.

Like I said, it is a silly book but really light reading and if you are looking for just a fun, silly read that will only take you 3 or 4 hours, this isn't a BAD book, but it's not great either. Make sense?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Help

I LOVED this book. Some books take me a few pages or chapters to get into, and that was not the case with The Help. I was totally invested from beginning to end. The characters felt so real and wonderful to me.

The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. I've read books before from that era, but this is a different perspective of the Civil Rights movement. Some of the chapters are from the perspective of "the help," two different black ladies, Minny and Aibileen, who are maids/cooks/baby-sitters in white ladies' houses, and some are from the perspective of a white girl, Skeeter, who just graduated from college and has come back home.

Skeeter decides to start a project collecting stories from the help in their town, to find out what it's REALLY like to be employed in a white person's house. So Minny and Aibileen get the ladies in town to tell Skeeter their stories.

If you haven't read this already, please do. I can't imagine anyone not loving it.

Ladies who have read it--what do you have to add? What did you love the most about this book?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

So it's been a while now since I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, but it is such a cute book that I think it really deserves a spot on this blog.

It might help you gain a better picture about the nature of this book if I tell you that it is one that I was referred to and borrowed from my cute 82-year old grandma.

The book is written as a series of letters between friends. I remember feeling a little bit overwhelmed at first and thinking that I would never be able to keep all of the corresponders straight, but by the end, all of the writers and recipients of the letters become some of the dearest people that you think you won't ever be able to forget.

Back cover:

"January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways."

One of my favorite quotes from the book:
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

Five out of five stars.

"The Giver" trivia

So, who out there knew that The Giver, by Lois Lowry, was the first book of a 3 book series? I did not.

The Giver is one of my favorite books ever. I love it and could read it over and over again. I'm a little worried that the sequels won't be as good. And I'm a little worried that the sequels will ruin the first one, a la 'The Land Before Time'.

I think I am going to give the sequels a shot. I've read the first one enough and love it enough that I can forget the sequels should they not live up to my expectations.

Thoughts? Has anyone read Gathering Blue and/or The Messenger?

The Forgotten Garden

I just barely finished The Forgotten Gardenby Kate Morton.

This was a book recommended to me by my Aunt Millie and cousin Becca, and I've been meaning to read it forever, and finally got around to it, and I really loved it.

It is kind of a long book, so if you're only into 200-pagers, this one may not be for you. My copy is 549 pages. However, it reads very quickly. But not too quickly. I had just finished reading The Hunger Games series before I read this book and I was worried about getting sucked into a 549-page book that I wouldn't be able to put down or be a real person until I finished, but this book is not like that. I definitely wanted to read it and I looked forward to the hour or so I allowed myself to read it each day (and to be honest, I wasn't always able to stick to the 1-hour limit) but I was able to put it down and pay attention to the needs of the world around me.

This may be cheating, but I will just quickly copy the description of the book off the back of the book and see if it piques your interest. And then if you have any other questions, you can leave them in a comment or something.

"A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book--a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go."

PS I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I really liked it. I liked how the whole story has you guessing and trying to figure out the mystery throughout the whole book. And it was just cute and a little quaint.
Also, I am giving it the labels of fiction, mystery (it's not like a Mary Higgins Clark or something, but I think it still fits) and love (and I think I will put love on your last book you posted as well Erin because I think we can all agree not to put any "bodice rippers" or Harlequin love books on here, so should we agree that "love" just means a cute love story?) 

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm only doing this because Katie asked me to

So, peeps, Katie asked me if I would explain how to add a label to your post.

Here it is: When you are writing a post, see down at the bottom of the box, where it says "Labels for this post: e.g. scooters, vacation, fall"? In that white box to the right, you can type something and it will add a label to your post.

This becomes handy, because over on the side of our blog, we can click on the labels and all the posts with that category will come up. Presently there is only one, it says fiction, and if you click on that the post about Love Walked In will come up.

So, if you write a riveting post about Moby Dick, you can create labels that say "long," and "classics," or "I'm so glad I didn't have to read this in high school," and someday someone perusing the blog will say, "Hey, they have a label for Classics! let me see what books they've got in that category," and there you go. Moby Dick will be there.

Also, once we have more labels, you can click the button that says "Show All," also at the bottom right of the Compose Post box, and you can pick which one applies.

I hope that made sense! And I promise I don't think I have some sort of superior blog knowledge. Katie told me to do it, and I always do what she says.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love Walked In

I just read Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos.

Lately I'm really into not summarizing books too much, because I tend to enjoy them more if I don't know much about them, and I want to extend others the same courtesy.

So I will not say much, but I will say this: Sometimes a book like this is just what you need, and sometimes it is not.

It's nothing too deep or serious, it's just a sweet story. It goes fast, it's easy reading, and it's a good story, but there's not anything too spectacularly literary about it.

And sometimes you need a book like this to take your mind off things. For example, a couple years ago on study abroad, I read The Kite Runner. And when I was finished, and feeling pretty downtrodden, one of my friends handed me The Devil Wears Prada and said, "Here. This is what you need to follow something like that." I had also brought Les Miserables, but she was right. There was no way I could do Les Mis on the coattails of The Kite Runner.

The point is--if you need a cute, fast book that isn't going to change your life or make you think very deeply, I would recommend this. If you're looking for something more substantial, go read Peace Like a River. Or Les Mis or The Kite Runner, obviously.

(Katie, is the sort of thing you were thinking? Am I fulfilling your dream? If not, tell me the direction you want to take it.)

p.s. So I took Shelly's idea of labeling the posts and applied it here, but I can't think what else to categorize this book as except for fiction. It's kind of a romance, but that makes me think of those bodice rippers at the grocery store, and this is NOT that. It's also about families, but I don't really know. Ann, Kiley, I know you guys have read it, will you add some labels to this? Can you add labels to a post you didn't write? Anyway, help me out.

Let's Get It Started

So recently on my personal blog, I did a post about some of the books I have read this summer and asked for suggestions about new books I should read. I then got some really great suggestions from some friends and family and the idea came to me to start this blog.

It's going to be Just a Blog about Books.

It is still kind of a pipe dream, but what I dream of it becoming is that whomever wants to be an author and/or contributor can just e-mail me or post on here and then I'll add you as an author and then whenever you finish reading a book, be it a good book or a bad book (okay maybe not any nasty ones, but one that you would not recommend), you can write a little post on here about it and we can create a great little resource for ourselves and other book reading fellows of books to read (or not read).

What do you think?