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?