Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Because of Winn-Dixie - Kate DiCamillo

Are there books that take you back to your childhood? Those books that you cherished, read time and time again, and possibly saved? Those books that you would, if you want children, love to share with your children?

I have always been an avid reader. I recently shared the Ruth Chew books with my daughter. She didn't love them as I once did, but she did enjoy them. Unlike my childhood self, she doesn't truly have a favorite book, except for Because of Winn-Dixie.

Many people saw and loved the movie. At the time of its publication, many read the book. For all those who have not read it, it is worth a read. For all who have read it, it is worth reading again.

Winn-Dixie is a dog - an unattractive dog of unknown age and breed. He befriends Opal shortly after she and her father arrive in their new town. Opal can identify with Winn-Dixie, they are both motherless, friendless, and seemingly alone.

Because of Winn-Dixie, all of this changes. Winn-Dixie helps Opal learn about her family, herself, and the town. Together they open their hearts to the various characters of the book - each with a story to tell.

The book is about friendship, love, discovery, laughter, tears, and the idea that people are multidimensional. Opal learns that love is more than a list of things. It is much bigger and is about the entirety of a being, the good and the bad.

For my daughter, this is a text form of comfort food. She took it to first grade when she was asked to bring in her favorite book; she reads it on airplanes; and she has parts of it memorized. I too have read it numerous times. It has yet to lose its charm.

Because of Winn-Dixie is a book that can be red and loved by readers (and non-readers) of all ages. If my daughter were to have kids, I know that she would want to share this book with them. I know that she would want to share it with you.

And if you don't want to read it based on that review, how can you resist Winn-Dixie himself!

The movie is good, but the book is wonderful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

I somehow got sucked into Meyer's Twilight series this past Spring. I blame the captivating cover for drawing me to the book on the shelf and then with the words "I found out he was a vampire" on the back cover sealed my fate. I flew through Twilight and quickly purchased New Moon to discover that the third book, Eclipse, would be released in August. Without giving too much of the series away, the story is set in northwest Washington State where it centers on Bella Swan and her relationship with the Cullen family (vampires), friends at her high school, Jacob Black, and Jacob's tribe on the nearby reservation. Anxious to revisit these characters, I could not wait to get this third book in my hands. Unfortunately, I simply thought that this book in the series was just mediocre. While Meyer does pace her stories slowly, the build up to the climax point in the book fell flat for me as there was not enough action and too much focus on back stories in my opinion. However, Meyer did a good job at both ending Eclipse and opening a doorway for the next book in the series. In the end, despite the slower pace of this book and those complaints, I enjoyed reading this one if only just to "catch up" with the goings-on with Bella in Forks, Washington.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Minotaur by Barbara Vine

It is nice to find a book that catches me off guard; one that casts a spell within the first chapter, enticing me to keep reading. the Minotaur proved to be such a book.

When I woke early Saturday morning I finished one book and reach to the stack to find the next entry on my "must read" list. It was the Minotaur. I don't remember getting this book. I didn't remember anything about the book. Based upon the book cover, I honestly wasn't sure why I picked the book as I am a bit leery of mysteries set in the English countryside. (There are some great books based in England, but there are some that I don't like as well). I will usually give each book in my stack a chance. I am very glad I did.

The Minotaur caught me off guard. I read the entire book on Saturday. I simply had to find out what happened. The twists and tangles of this book are subtle with more attention being given to the psyche of the characters than on violence (of which there is extremely little for a thriller/mystery)

Kerstin Krist travels to England to spend a year working for John Cosway at his family home, Lydstep Old Hall in rural Essex. John was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. IN order to "control" him, the family doctor and his mother have him kept under heavy sedation. Kerstin is brought in to the house to accompany John on his walks. She quickly finds herself in the midst of a house of cards, fragile and ready to collapse.

The story is told through Kerstin's eyes - flashing between the 1990's (now) and the 1960's, when the incidents occurred. Through Kerstin's eyes, the reader explores the varying relationships, power plays, personalities, and the shadows that play throughout the plot. As family secrets are revealed, the plot twists, and the wind blows shifting the ground upon which the house is built.

Is John truly suffering from schizophrenia? Does he commit the acts of which he is so quickly accused? What motives drive the actions of each character? Will there be a happy ending? Can there be a happy ending?

Vine did a wonderful job with this book - just enough to tell the story while leaving some out for the reader to envision. The story is well told, characters are well developed, and the plot offers enough to hold ones attention.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lisey's Story by Stephen King

I have an over-active imagination. For as long as I can remember, it’s always been that way for me. I’m afraid of the dark (I can’t go from one room to another without leaving a trail of lights – turn light B on before turning light A off…), I’m convinced that there is always a monster (or worse – a murderer) under my bed and it will grab me when I have to get out of bed in the middle of the night (though now my bed has no space between the floor and the box springs, so that fear isn’t as strong as it used to be), and I’m always creating different dream worlds in my head. So after a week of reading Lisey’s Story, my mind is all over the place. Reading a Stephen King book is always hard work for me – not because they’re poorly written but quite the opposite. He writes so fantastically and detailed that it takes up every ounce of energy to read his books because of my imagination. Lisey’s Story was no exception for my mind feels like mush now and I think that I might need a few days of recovery before I jump into my next book.

Lisey Landon is a widow of a celebrated author. Two years after his death, she has finally decided to take on the daunting task of going through her late husband’s papers and books. But it turns into more than just going through mementos…she also has to delve deep into memories she has buried deep into the recesses of her mind. Memories of her husband’s horrifying childhood and the secret place he would go to escape and to recover. These memories are only accessed by finding clues left by her deceased husband and are important for they are the only things that can help save her sister…and, more importantly, herself.

Lisey’s Story is more than King’s typical horror book. Even though there were some pretty freaky parts where I was sitting with my feet curled under my body, biting the inside of my lip and chewing on my fingernails, there was more to it than that. It is a beautifully written story, with clever play on words and plots circling around marriage and sisterhood and the importance of these two relationships. It's a love story as much as it is a nail-biter and the strength of the main character is one that makes you want to cheer her on and hug her at the same time. Whether you are a King fan or not, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Alice, I think

I admit- I judge books sometimes on their cover. I also judge them by the reviews plastered on the front page. When I picked this book up Meg Cabot's (of "Size 12 is not fat" fame) name jumped out from the cover along with her quote "I laughed until diet soda came out of my nose". I threw it in my cart and hoped for the best.

At just under 300 pages, Susan Juby has managed to cram at least one laugh on every page. Alice, I think is the story of a teen aged girl named Alice who is painfully awkward but keenly observant on society. On her first day of grade 1 her hippie parents let her go to school dressed as a hobbit, and she never recovered. She grows up home schooled and unpopular, but with a comforting confidence in herself that makes you wonder what she will do next. Along with trying to discover her personal style, she works on completing her 'life goals list' (#2 Increase contact with people outside immediate family. Not friends necessarily, but least superficial interaction of 'hi, how are you variety'...).

The majority of the book centers around Alice when she's 16 years old. Through her story you witness her mother get in a hilarious fist-fight with Alice's (grown up now) enemy from grade 1, a fish show, some serious fashion disasters and a stunning comparison to an ex-boyfriend I dated. (Hint- Aubrey).

I almost didn't want to write a review for this book because I knew I wouldn't be able to capture just how funny it is. I understand now why it's a national best-seller, with every age group enjoying it. It's short and lighthearted but with a main character who you care about. I think the only way to illustrate the book is with this: Alice's mother, has a best friend named Geradline. Alice doesn't like her but says "the only cool thing about Geraldine is that she looks like James Woods.".

How can you not love a book that says that?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Truth & Beauty

Recently I fisnished reading Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett. This book is one of the best I've read in a long time and I'll tell you why.
For one, it's a story about friendship. It's about two writers who meet back in college, go on to be roommates in grad school, work together, and become the closest of friends, experiencing life, love, illness, etc. together throughout their lives. I was first told about this book by another blogger actually, and was excited to read it, as I had heard such great things about it from her.
Lucy Grealy is the main character in the book, a woman who died before the book was published (I'm not giving away anything, dont flip!). Lucy has a rare form of jaw cancer, and because of such had surgery after surgery through her youth and adult life, and Ann was by her side through all of this. The author adds in little excerpts of letters that were written to her from Lucy over the course of their friendship, and I found this to be a really sweet touch.

I'd say this book is probably more geared towards women. Not than men wouldn't enjoy it, and it's not a "chick lit" type thing either. I think it would be like if I wrote about my friendship with my roommate. How we met in college, that night we drank a bottle of gin and then hid in a coat room at a cocktail party. How I go to family bbq's at her house, how she borrowed my black camisole when we went out for martinis on Wednesday night, and how we stay up for hours talking about men with good heads of hair. Sure, some men might like to read bits of it, but I'd suspect that it's just generally a more woman type thing. But frankly, what do I know? The book just struck me more as something a woman would enjoy. That's all I'm sayin.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. So much so, that I then sought out a book by Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face, which she wrote about her struggle with cancer. I havent started that one yet, but I'll be back to report in on that at a later date!

If you're looking for a quick, equally funny and bittersweet read this is a good go to.
**I had this all spaced out nicely, but apparently blogger (my old friend!), isn't cooperating.**

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell: A Novel by Loraine Despres

I purchased The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell when I was in Texas in May. I thought it looked like a good summer chick-lit read. I finally got around to reading it this week and was surprised to find that it was more than just chick-lit. There was an amazing message that even in today’s world needs to be remembered.

Bad Behavior is a period piece set in Louisiana in 1920. Prohibition was at its height, women had just been given the right to vote, and the Klu Klux Klan was starting to take hold of not only the South, but also the entire country. In the middle of all this is born-before-her-time Belle Cantrell. A recent widow and new part owner of the largest farm in Gentry, Louisiana, Belle is a huge advocate of the woman suffrage cause and is not afraid to speak her mind on most topics; much to the dismay of the Southern Genteel folk.

While the book is fun and sassy and, at times, down right sexy, it also reminds you of how intolerance was widely accepted in our country and that speaking out against said intolerance caused people to fear for their lives to the point to where many just kept quiet. “It’s not our fight,” was just one of the responses Belle received while trying to help stop an attack on her friend. With some of the same intolerances seeping into our society today, this book struck quite a chord with me. And all while reading it, my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote replayed in the back of my mind. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

The Dive From Clausen's Pier

This is easily one of my most favourite books. This is a story that reminds us of how precious life is and how easily (and tragically) it can change. There will be a time in our lives where we will be faced at a cross-road and we must decide which route to take knowing that this can be a life-altering decision. Do we choose the path that is to our best interest, or do we choose the path where we assume the role of martyr (placing ourselves in our own personal and suffocating hell), where the needs and wants of those around us will forever come before our own?

Sometimes people fall into a monotonous pattern in their life. This is something that could work perfectly for some, but in time can prove to be trying for others. You grow up with the same people around you. The same friends. The same hang outs. You date your highschool sweetheart, go to college with your highschool sweetheart, and become engaged to your highschool sweetheart because it just seems like the logical step to take. You haven't set foot out of your home town because everything you have or would ever want is right there, so why leave? Why explore? For some, this life could be the most comforting in the world. But for others, and for the main character of the story, Carrie Bell, this could prove to be a life that you can't get away from fast enough.

Carrie is engaged to her high school sweetheart but has fallen out of love with him. She is devastated by this discovery because the last thing she wants to do is hurt him. And funnily enough she feels torn since they share the same friends and doesn't want to hurt that dynamic as well. When she finally comes to grips with how she feels and finally decides that she can't go on living this lie and that she must tell her fiance, tragedy hits in the most unexpected way. They, along with their friends, are spending time at Clausen's Pier. Mike (her fiance) senses Carrie is slipping away. He decides that he's going to dive off the pier in an attempt to impress her. Only he doesn't realize that the water is not that deep and there are rocks at the bottom of the lake. He shouldn't be diving head first. Only he does, and he becomes paralyzed. A quadriplegic. People expect Carrie to be the caregiver for Mike, but unable to justify it to herself and unable to shake the feeling that she doesn't belong there (and having wanted to leave before the accident), she goes to New York to find herself. She has hurt a lot of people in the process who feel she is running away from her responsibilities, but it is something she must do for herself.

This story is about Carrie's journey to self-realization. It is a story about taking responsibility not because you HAVE to but because you WANT to. Eventually, Carrie's past catches up with her and she is forced to make a decision of what is best for her and for the situation at hand. Is she able to forget the past and start a new life? Or are her roots too deeply embedded?

Here is an excerpt of the book:

When something terrible happens to someone else, people often use the word "unbearable." Living through a child's death, a spouse's, enduring some other kind of permanent loss–it's unbearable, it's too awful to be borne, and the person or people to whom it's happened take on a kind of horrible glow in your mind, because they are in fact bearing it, or trying to: doing the thing that it's impossible to do. The glow can be blinding at first–it can be all you see–and although it diminishes as years pass it never goes out entirely, so that late some night when you are wandering the back pathways of your mind you may stop at the sudden sight of someone up ahead, signaling even now with a faint but terrible light.

Mike's accident happened to Mike, not to me, but for a long time afterward I felt some of that glow, felt I was giving it off, so that even doing the most innocuous errand, filling my car with gas or buying toothpaste, I thought everyone around me must see I was in the middle of a crisis.

Yet I didn't cry. The first days at the hospital were full of crying–Mike's parents crying, his brother and sister, and Rooster, maybe Rooster most of all–but I was dry-eyed. My mother and Jamie told me it was because I was numb, and I guess that was part of it, numb and terrified: when I looked at him it was as if years had unwound, and I'd just met him, and I couldn't stand not knowing what was going to happen. But there was something else, too: everyone was treating me so carefully and solicitously that I felt breakable, and yet I wasn't broken. Mike was broken, and I wasn't broken. He was separate from me, and that was shocking.

A national bestseller, Ann Packer was definitely able to write this story in such a way that can make you want to both root Carrie on in her attempts to find herself during such a tumultuous period and want to simultaneously hit her upside the head.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia - Elizabeth Gilbert

I have never truly "reviewed" books before, but I thought it might be fun to give it a try. Airam was kind enough to allow me to experiment on this site. Thus, without further ado... well, maybe a bit more ado...

When I am bored at work (and that does happen more often than I would like) I browse through the online bookstores in search of fun, light, interesting, entertaining books to read. I am a voracious reader, and feeding this habit can be quite challenging.

This spring a book popped onto my radar screen "Eat, Pray, and Love. " The title alone caught my attention.

Thus, I had to read it. And you have to read it too!

I am not sure what I was expecting when I first started the book. Despite reading the reviews, I had no preconceived notions as to what lay between the covers. Thus, I am not going to give you much information here, I don't want to spoil the experience for you.

Gilbert writes of a year long journey that she took in her early thirties. Having suffered through a very bitter divorce and embarked on a journey of self knowledge, she leaves her home in New York and her career to... experience, discover, and grow; to Eat, Pray, and Love.

The book is written with a realistic tone - a mix of comedy and self discovery. I found myself craving such an experience.

First, Gilbert travels to Italy in search of pleasure, then to India to explore prayer and ascetic rigor, and finally to Bali where she attempts to balance her life, past and present; new and old. Along the way she is introduced to various characters that become friends, challenges, teachers, etc. Challenges abound as she attempts to quiet her mind and find answers to her questions - to become content, and forgive. There is something for everyone in this book.

This book takes the reader on a journey that is worth the price of the ticket!

What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and go forth!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Harmony by Joanna Goodman

Harmony is one of the books that I chose to review from TCM Reviews. When I received the review opportunity e-mail that the lady who sends them for this site, I chose it because the main character owned their own shop called, "Anne of Green Tables." Since I am a hardcore Anne of Green Gables fan (Gilbert Blythe get in my life), I chose this book. I didn't even read the rest of the description. And I am so glad I got it before anyone else claimed it! It was such a wonderful book! Aside from the baby part, I felt like I knew she was me. While I read quite a bit, it's rare that I relate to the main character of the book I am reading the way I related to Anne.

Below is the "official" review that I submitted to TCM. It should be published on their site either tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I got it to them in time. So if I didn't, it will be next Friday.

Anne Mahroum is a talented artist, a wonderful wife, and a new mother to a child with a physical deformity. Between attending a support group to help her cope with her son’s problem, working at her studio “Anne of Green Tables”, spending time with her eccentric husband, or flirting with the handsome father also attending the support group, there is the secret of Harmony. Anne doesn’t remember much about her childhood before her mother whisked them away from Harmony to Toronto. She doesn’t know her father and her mother never wants to speak of the town from which they fled and the life that they once lived. Now that she’s a mother herself, Anne is desperate to learn the secret that has been guarded for so long. But once she learns it, will it change her outlook on life forever?

Harmony is an excellent story of a woman struggling to find herself as she accepts her new responsibilities as mother and begins to understand her existing responsibilities as wife, daughter, and herself. I could relate to Anne’s character. I often found myself wondering if Joanna Goodman had found a way into my own personal thoughts for Anne seemed to say and think things that I have personally thought and said. Joanna Goodman brings us a wonderful story with great insight into relationships between family trying to find harmony with one another.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flies on the Butter by Denise Hildreth

Having loved the Savannah series, I recently picked up this new offering by Hildreth. This book starts off running as we follow the main character, Rose, as she travels back to her home South Carolina. As a lobbyist in Washington D.C, Rose is well-put together and a woman of strong opinions. While this story takes place over the entire car ride to South Carolina and a series of flashbacks, we find Rose transported back to where she came from as memories from her childhood are dredged up as well as issues concerning her marriage. As the story continues, Rose embarks not only on a journey home but a journey to rediscover herself again. Hildreth writes at the end of the book that she hoped that the reader's own memories would surface while reading. Boy, did they ever. I could picture clearly my grandmother's house, smell her cooking, and visit with my grandfather on the front porch ..if only in my mind. It was with a sigh and a few tears that I finished the last few pages. While I did shed a few tears, they were not sad ones but ones of thankfulness that I was able to be transported back to my memories so easily.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hillary, My Love

I've been thinking alot about how to meaningfully contribute to this blog and the answer I keep coming up with is the most logical, read a book then talk about it here. Seems simple enough but my experiment with writing about the books I read back in 2004 on my own blog proved to me just how difficult this task can be for me. As I was looking back on those briefs reviews, I came across one that I think is extremely relevant today and as such, I am sharing it with you all here as my first contribution to this blog.
This is a marvelous book about an amazing woman who pulls no punches. Hillary Rodham Clinton is who she is by her own design. The story told is one of a woman who is constantly rediscovering herself and redefining the concept of a progressive woman.The book is exhaustive in taking the reader through her upbringing, young life as the daughter of a staunch republican, and herself a republican until her Wellesley college days where she switched parties, her time as a lawyer, a political activist (when she met Bill), into and through her marriage to Bill and her perspective of his political career, and of course, her years in the White House.I left the book enamored with Hillary Rodham Clinton and in awe of her intelligence, her integrity, and her attitude. From where I write this, the 2004 presidential election is history and right at this time, I can see no better suited individual to become the president of the United States in 2008 than the author and subject of this wonderful memoir. (written 11/10/2004)

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Great Divorce. . . . reviewed by Spaceman Spiff

At first glance, you may think this book explains the 60% divorce rate or possibly be about someone who was in a horrible marriage and finally escaped to a life of wonder and joy. You would be wrong on both guesses. This fiction piece by C.S. Lewis is critically regarded as a great piece of literature for it's allusions and style. I am not a critic, but I did like this book very much.

The story starts out with the main character, you don't find out who he is until the end, trying to catch a bus at a very crowded bus station. From there, you journey with him on a bus flight. . . . yes, this bus flies. Again, you don't really know where you are going until you get there, but then again, neither does the main character. He is as lost as you are, he just knows he is supposed to get on the bus.

Once the bus arrives in a place seemingly more real than anywhere else, each member of the tour group (as I call them) are met by someone especially suited to guide them on the next step of their journey. Apparently, all these people have been living in hell. Not a figurative hell, but the real thing. . . . depending on your choice though, it could have been purgatory and eventually heaven itself. Confused yet? Well, the story guides you from person to person and their interaction with their guides and the questions raised just confuse you as much as the main character. Fairly quickly though, all the questions are answered as the secondary characters choose to journey to heaven or back to hell.

I have to say, this book really brings to light some of the illusions we (living people) use to delude ourselves and divorce from the reality of God's love. Which is where I imagine the title came from. We allow pride, selfishness, a sense of entitlement and fear, among other things, to divorce from the truth and ultimately to cause us to choose hell over heaven. Whether you consider yourself a religious person or not, this book is a good read. At 100 or so pages, it doesn't require days of drudging though scripture or dogmatic propaganda. In fact, there is none to drudge through. What it does is to make you think a little about your own life and possibly wakes you up both figuratively and, like C.S. Lewis in the story, literally.

Next review, either Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King or one of the two books by R.A. Salvatore that I'm reading now. Whichever I finish first.

Salt:A World History by Mark Kurlansky

This fascinating book covers the history of the world in reference to the only rock we eat: salt. Mark Kurlanskys book is a fun read for those who love history and food. As a person who lives to eat, I found it fascinating. Salt was once used as currency, salt caused wars, salt sparked inventions and opened waterways to trade and travel. Salt is delicious. Salt played a major role in human history and this book explains the myriad of ways in which it did that.
While this book contains many many interesting facts, for example, how the Chinese invented natural gas heating (lets face it, what didn't they invent?), it can also get a bit tedious at times. I kind of wanted..more. More story or something. Its kind of a lot of..facts. I guess non fiction is like that, but still. I wanted it to tie together more, rather than just different facts about different regions.
Still, this book is a fun one to read sections here and there, not necessarily straight through. Foodies and history buffs alike would enjoy this book about the inexpensive, taken-for-granted, everyday salt. I did find it intriguing and fun, and now also have those coctail-party tidbits to impress people. And now I want some chips. Sea salt chips. For some reason.


It's summer. So that means my staple summer reads get pulled off the book shelf. Belladonna by Karen Moline is just that.

As the front of the cover states, Belladonna is a story of revenge. It is told from the view of Tomasino and he tells the story of the 20-something year journey that leads a simple girl from the Midwest to become the famed Belladonna of New York's high society.

I first read this book about six years ago. I saw it at Barnes & Noble and the front of the cover intrigued me (I am one of those that picks books by covers...yes) and it was on sale, so I bought it. And I read it within two days. And have continued to read it every summer since.

Belladonna is an intriguing story and very risque. I once explained to my friend that it was like watching a Lifetime movie except you actually get the dirty details that are so often left out of those made for TV movies. Throughout the book, there are moments where you will laugh, cry, be scared, bite your nails, and get turned-on. Which, in my opinion, makes for an excellent summertime beach/pool read.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Napoleon's Pyramids

So, I had been on a bit of a chick-lit run lately and wanted something completely different. I picked up Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich from the library, scanned the reviews and decided to throw it in the mix. I'm glad I did.

The story is set during the last days of the French Revolution. Ethan Gage is a young man who worked closely for Benjamin Franklin and is a bit of a cad. He likes whores and gambling, and it's during a card game he wins an Egyptian medallion. He doesn't know what it's worth, what it stands for or what the strange symbols on it means, but keeps it and trouble follows.

Soon he's travelling with Napoleon to Egypt, on a mission to learn more about the pyramids, and how his medallion fits into it all. Suddenly, there are people after him, who are willing to kill him for the medallion he's won. Even Napoleon asks of it and Ethan has to learn to trust a few unusual people to help keep it safe until he can figure out how to turn his medallion into a key to unlock a mystery he's sure involves the pyramids. There's huge battle scenes, a surprising love story and enough suspense to keep a reader interested. There are mathematical challenges, surprising revelations about the structure of the pyramids (all which are true), real quotes taken from Napoleon and insightful tie ins to the the Bible.

It's a bit like The Da Vinci code, and a lot like National Treasure (the movie starring Nicholas Cage). There are many people in the novel who actually lived, and Dietrich does his best to remain accurate to their life. Some parts drag, and some parts seem over the top, but it was a light, (albeit educational) read and a book I suspect has already been sold to be turned into a movie. If you love it, you will want to read his other works, move to Egypt and tour the pyramids for yourself. If you hate it, you will at least look at the Pyramids in a new (and admiring!) way.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Second Chance

This is the newest book by the author Jane Green who is a British novelist now living in the States. I came across Jane Green many years ago when I picked up "Jemima J." and "Mr. Maybe" and fell in love with her writing (this is classic chick literature) and because of that have read everything she's ever written and would always check to see if she's come out with any new books whenever I'd go to the bookstore. So you could imagine my delight when I came across this book! Unfortunately ... it wasn't what I expected.

There were way too many storylines and at times it was hard for me to follow. Not only this, I felt as though there were characters in the story that she kind of threw in there for good measure but didn't really follow through with what happened to them. Or she would throw a character in there but it just added to the confusion because there was yet another storyline (even though it may have been brief) to follow.

The story is this: There is a group of friends from highschool that were very tight but they had lost touch for 20 years or so. There was one member of the group however, Tom, who had kept in touch with all of them individually. The group is reunited under horrible circumstances when they find out that Tom has been killed in a terrorist attack in NY. Tom's death propels them into evaluating their lives and a lot of them go through major life changes. They are reunited and help eachother through such a hard period and manage to stay close throughout the book. Each of these friends seem to go through some pretty tough ordeals after Tom's death (a divorce, an unwanted pregnancy, celebrity tabloid issues ... yes, one of the friends just so happens to be a famous actress).

I think that what made this book a little difficult to follow is that you are presented with such a huge blow (the death of Tom) and then are presented with huge blows after that (with all of Tom's friends) and it's just too much. She could have easily written 2 or 3 different stories from this one book.

I wasn't too keen on this book but I do recommend Jane Green as an author. If you pick up any of her books then start with either "Jemima J." or "Mr. Maybe". Those were the books that made me love her as a writer.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

To Be Continued ...

I just finished reading this book written by Gordon J.H. Leenders. It took me maybe 2 or 3 days and when it only takes me a few days to read a book then it means I've really enjoyed it. I have started many books lately but haven't finished them. Not only that I've had many books on the go lately. It's been awhile since I've bought a book and read it from cover to cover in a couple of days.

What I liked about this book is that it's based in Ontario and more specifically in Hamilton and Toronto (it goes back and forth between the two cities and makes mention of the cities in between). Another thing I liked about this book is that it has many storylines to follow. Now this may seem confusing but it's actually quite brilliant. This would be a good story to read if you are a nosy type of person.

Basically the gist of the book is that it gives you snippets of people's lives, in the moment kind of thing. And it's cool in the sense that it moves randomly from person to person (i.e. it'll focus on my life but then go onto the life of the person I may have passed on the street). So it peaks your interest enough to see what's going on in one's life but then leaves you questioning what's going to happen next. And the beauty of it is that the author will somehow get back to the person that we were eavesdropping on earlier so that we may know how a situation was resolved.

Anyways, I recommend this book.

The Birth Of My Book Blog

I love to read.

I love to read so much that I am in a book club ... and have about 5 books on the go.

Whenever someone asks me to recommend a book to them I excitedly share my suggestion with them but have a hard time describing why I like the book so much other than to say, "It's so good!"

That's where this blog comes in. With every book I read, I will write down my thoughts on it ... why I liked it ... or didn't like it.

This is where the book critic in me comes out.