Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

A very slow reading week -- lots of PTA prep work to get ready for our BOOK FAIR!  I will be in literary nirvana all week...hope you aren't jealous!

But a few books read (or partially so) are better than nothing!

COMPLETED:

The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb (3 out of 5 stars -- entertaining historical fiction/mystery/ghost story)

The Rosewood Casket (Ballad Mystery, #4)

CURRENTLY READING:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (absolutely LOVING this book -- if I could just find the time to read more than a few pages before I fall hopelessly asleep).

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool: Book Cover

UP NEXT:
February is Black History Month, so I think I'm going to start either:

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: Book Cover

OR

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (juvenile fiction)

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis: Book Cover

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review -- The Rosewood Casket

The Rosewood Casket (Ballad Mystery, #4)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book source:  Loaned to me by a friend
The Stargill boys have all returned home at the news that their father, Randall, is dying. During the time they wait for “the end” they confront past sibling conflicts, rivalries, and unanswered family questions. They must also solve the mysterious appearance of a “box of bones” given to them by a neighbor. Thus begins a story of ghostly legends, family secrets, and a dying man’s shrouded history.

The Rosewood Casket was a nice blend of historical fiction (the history and botany of Appalachia, and Daniel Boone), ghost stories, and family strife.  And the prologue had me shaking in my slippers!

I thought the author got a little heavy handed with characters -- too many wives, sisters-in-law, girlfriends, past girlfriends, children of girlfriends – to keep track of. And although I was completely immersed in the story until the end, when the mystery was finally solved, the author only devoted a brief two paragraphs to its resolution, which was very disappointing.

But, overall, an entertaining book.

I would NEVER have read this book on my own, so I was glad it passed along to me by a friend.







Saturday, January 29, 2011

My version of crack....


Today was the first day of our Scholastic Book Fair:




I wish someone would wheel carts of books into my house...


I purchased several from this cart already...


My two boys (and a friend) sampling the many offerings....


A very familiar literary character and me....


When I'm done being PTA president, I'm secretly hoping the book fair chair will be open!

(Photos courtesy of Mandy Shoptaw)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Book Club -- Part 2

Last week we were snowed out -- this week it was 60 degrees -- what a difference a week makes!

We were few in number because of the schedule change, but that didn't lessen the discussion.

True Grit by Charles Portis: Book Cover
The consensus:  Everyone LOVED True Grit!!  As is always the case, we all thought it was better than the movie -- funnier, bloodier, "grittier" -- but that the Coen Brothers did an excellent job with their adaptation.

My girlfriend, Becca, who led the discussion did a great job, so good in fact, she tracked down Mr. Portis' phone number and was determined to get him on the phone for his comments during our discussion. Luckily, we persuaded her that it wasn't such a good idea!

Even though it's been a month since I read the book, I still felt energized by his writing -- while talking about some of the scenes (especially when Mattie was in the snake pit) the images were still so vivid, it was like I had read it yesterday.  So many fabulous visuals and dialogue -- it was a joy to talk about them all.

Even though I'm sure most have seen the movie -- I HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading the book.  In fact, I insist!

Our February selection: (our original selection, Outliers, was not available)

The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott

The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott: Book Cover

Summary from B&N:

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND BOOKLIST

Paris, 1815. Daniel Connor, a young medical student from Edinburgh, has arrived to study anatomy at the Jardin des Plantes—only to realize that his letters of introduction and precious coral specimens, on which his tenure with the legendary Dr. Cuvier depends, have been stolen. His thief turns out to be a beautiful woman who lives in a shadowy realm of outlaws, philosophers, and √©migr√©s. As Daniel falls in love with her, he discovers a radical theory of evolution that irrevocably changes his conception of the world.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.


Vomit and diarrhea have invaded our house...I've been up since 3am with my 4yr old standing over the toilet. Oh. Joy.

With being home all day, and him on the couch, you would think I could get a lot of reading done...but I'm afraid if I crack the cover of a book I will fall hopelessly asleep.

But here are my reading accomplishments from the past week:

FINISHED READING:

Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell (juvenile fiction: a perfect primer on WWII and how the power of one person can make a difference -- 4 out of 5 stars)

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's

Early Candlelight by Maud Hart Lovelace (historical fiction: an adult work by the children's author; lovely, poetic, romantic -- 3 out of 5 stars)

Early Candlelight (Borealis)

Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery (vintage fiction:  another wholesome tale by the author of the Anne of Green Gables series -- 3 out of 5 stars -- my first book read on my NOOK!)



CURRENTLY READING:

The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb (I'm REALLY enjoying this!  This was passed along by a friend...I would NEVER have picked this to read otherwise.  It involves legends, ghosts, family strife, and a great historical account of Appalachia.  Quite a pleasant surprise!!)

The Rosewood Casket (Ballad Series #4) by Sharyn McCrumb: Book Cover


UP NEXT:

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (This won the 2011 Newbery Medal for juvenile fiction - so excited to start it!)

 

Summary from B&N:

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.  Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”  Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

I'm off to start another load of icky laundry.  Here is hoping for a vomit-free remainder of the day.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review -- Kilmeny of the Orchard


 
Book: Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery

Enjoyment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Book Source: e-book from Project Gutenberg (the first book read on my Nook™!)

Challenge: L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge sponsored by Reading to Know

Eric Marshall has accepted a teaching post in the quaint village of Lindsay, with the intent of staying but the few brief months to finish the term of the previous head master. While exploring the surrounding country side, Eric discovers an abandoned apple orchard that so betwixts him, he lingers to enjoy its beauty. After but a few minutes his meditative state is startled by the strings of a violin, played beautifully by an enchanting mistress who is also enjoying the orchard. As Eric approaches this young maiden, she is so started by his presence she runs in fear back to her family’s farm. Eric is immediately mesmerized by this young woman and is determined to find out her identity. What he learns is that Kilmeny Gordon, an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle, is not what she seems: A woman with immense talent and beauty but without the ability to speak. Eric is determined to woo Kilmeny and is convinced that his love will conquer her muteness.

This was a delightful novel. L. M. Montgomery’s works are wholesome stories about love and survival.

I liked that this book was from a male perspective, where most of Ms. Montgomery’s works are written in the female voice.

She is superb in describing the flora and fauna of Lindsay and the surrounding areas. She also meticulously weaves a story about Kilmeny’s mother and her marital misfortune, that it is believed to have cursed Kilmeny and her future.


Another vintage contribution by L. M. Montgomery.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Group CANCELED



When it snows in the South, everything comes to a halt.

Schools closed at Noon.

Grocery store was packed.

The roads are not that bad, but by tonight, they could be snow covered and very slick.

So, we made the decision to postpone.

True Grit, your discussion will have to wait one more week. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January Mother Daughter Book Club -- The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry: Book Cover
Our first mother daughter book club of 2011 was eventful as always. However, after having two months off, I was expecting the girls to be bouncing off the walls -- their calm demeanor surprised me.  I think it must have something to do with the cold weather!

We discussed The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry, a satirical homage to vintage children's literature -- filled with abandoned babies in baskets, nannies, orphans, long-lost children and neglectful parents.  Ms. Lowry does a masterful job of creating these characters and a story with enough adult humor to keep parents in a tickle, all the while entertaining young reader.  Additionally, the vocabulary she uses is fantastic!  She includes a dictionary in the back of the book (thankfully!) with her very own witty descriptions of each word.  In fact, I liked that as  much as the book itself!

I'm always curious as to what "theme" the girls will focus on during their discussion -- because I'm usually wrong!  I thought for sure they would discuss the neglect and "meanness" of the parents -- leaving them alone with a nannie and in a house they have put up for sale.  No, they were far more concerned about "Baby Ruth" the infant left left on the doorstep.  Given the same circumstance, none of them wanted a baby  left on THEIR doorstep, but were thankful that someone took care of this baby.

This was a book that both moms and daughters enjoyed. 

Up for February:

We decided to chose a book for Black History Month -- and had two choices:

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis: Book Cover

And


Washington City Is Burning by Harriette Gillem Robinet: Book Cover

We chose the later, but after some research (that I should have done in advance) we realized that very few copies exist in the library, and the book is out of print.

So, I'm not sure what we are reading next month -- anyone have suggestions for a good juvenile book to read for Black History Month? 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The WINNER of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter



Justpeachy36

Thanks to all who entered.

Up next:  Follower Love Giveaway Hop is scheduled for
February 8th - 13th! 

True Random Number Generator
Min: 2
Max: 107
Result: 107
(wow...when does the last entry ever get chosen? And witnessed by my husband.)
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review -- Early Candlelight

Early Candlelight (Borealis)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars -- lovely writing, lovely story, less than stellar ending.

Book source:  Personal copy

Sensitive reader:  a wonderful love story without any objectionable material.

My adoration of Maud Hart Lovelace began late in life…as in a year ago when I discovered her juvenile writings (The Betsy-Tacy Series) through numerous book blogs. Our mother daughter book club devoured her first four books in rapid fashion.

After such an introduction, I’ve been eager to explore her other writings. Before Christmas I purchased her recently re-released copies of Carney’s House Party and Winona’s Pony Cart, Emily of Deep Valley, and Early Candlelight.

I’ve been keen on reading nostalgic old fashioned books as of late, so I picked up Early Candlelight last week.

Ms. Lovelace explores life on the Minnesota frontier at the turn of the 19th century. Her characters range from those families who reside within the walls of Fort Snelling, fur traders, local Indian tribes, Canadian settlers and voyageurs.

Deedee Dugay’s French descent family lives on the surrounding lands of Fort Snelling. A large, boisterous family, Deedee is the only girl in the company of many brothers. They have a harmonious relationship with the Indian tribes and with all their neighbors. The only ones they come into conflict with are the military leaders at the Fort who feel their trading of alcohol with the local tribes is creating tension that could escalate to violence, so they force her family to relocate, thus disturbing their family harmony.

Jasper Page is a well respected fur trader, who lives elegantly among the locals and enlists the Dugay sons to be a part of his many expeditions. Thus, Deedee becomes acquainted with Monsieur Page, and develops a lifelong love of him, in spite of his elite social class.

Ms. Lovelace develops a tremendous story of these frontiersmen and women. Her descriptions of Fort life– the parties they planned at the arrival of steamboats and the clothing that they wore – were amazing. Her attention to detail when describing the fashions of the time made me wonder if she had dreams of becoming a clothes designer in addition to a writer!

As she developed the relationship between Deedee and Mr. Page, I was ready to anoint this book the truly American Pride and Prejudice: strong willed, lower class beauty, falls for esteemed, handsome gentleman landowner. Their word play and interaction was enticing and longing. Would they or wouldn’t they end up together?

Then, just when I thought Ms. Lovelace’s story telling couldn’t exceed itself and a cacophony of fireworks were going to explode over these lovers – she ended the story. Flatly. Disappointingly.

So, I loved her writing – I loved the story – I loved the characters that she created – I loved her meticulous descriptions into early Minnesota frontier life – I just was so let down by the ending.

I’m still a huge fan, and can’t wait to read the other books I have, I just wish this one would have met my expectations.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Juvenile Book Review -- Candy Bomber

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's
Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Source:  Public Library

Mother/Daughter Book Club recommendation

With 2 sticks of chewing gum, Gail Halvorsen, an air force pilot, changed the course of thousands of lives of German children following the end of WWII. He started what would be called "Operation Little Vittles" an air drop of candy and chocolate from US bombers onto the city of Berlin.

Our Mother/Daughter book club is trying to incorporate more non-fiction into our reading repertoire, and this will be our recommendation on Tuesday night.

This was a perfect early/juvenile reader for an introduction to the history and aftermath of World War II.  And a testament to how one person can make a difference.

For more on the Berlin Airlift and the Candy Bomber, in his own words, please check out the related video:



View all my reviews

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop!


Not only do I dream about books, I dream of someday taking a vacation all by myself to a cabin in the mountains with nothing but my Nook and a stack of TBRs.  No kids. No husband. Just me and the written page.

In the mean time, I'm hoping to make someone's dream come true by offering a free book! 

Thanks to Kathy from I am a Reader not a Writer and Martha from Reviews by Martha for sponsoring this great HOP!

I am so excited for this giveaway!

To start the year off right, I am offering one SIGNED copy of

Tom Franklin's

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin: Book Cover

Synopsis from B&N:

A powerful and resonant novel from Tom Franklin—critically acclaimed author of Smonk and Hell at the Breech—Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the riveting story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. An extraordinary novel that seamlessly blends elements of crime and Southern literary fiction, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a must for readers of Larry Brown, Pete Dexter, Ron Rash, and Dennis Lehane.

I haven't read this yet, but the reviews have been highly encouraging!

To enter my giveaway, all you have to do is either be a follower or become a follower AND fill out the attached form.



For other giveaways, please check out these participating blogs for their dreamy offerings!
This blog hop begins Friday, January 14th and ends, Monday, January 17th at 10pm CST (sorry folks, I get sleepy and need to pick a winner before I go to bed). 

The winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen. I will use random.org to pick a winner.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: Reading Resolutions 2011



I know we are 11 days in to 2011, but it's never too late to set some reading resolutions.  Looking back on my reading goals for 2010, I didn't do too badly. 

Here they are:

1. Finish all challenges: YES!  I only committed to one, and I completed it -- Women Unbound

2. Read more local authors: I didn't read nearly the number I set forth to read -- but I read one, True Grit by Charles Portis.

3. Finish all book club books:  I finished them all -- except the ones I had read before. I didn't re-read, The Gurnsey blah blah blah Society.

4. I will read one biography of a major historical figure. DRATS! Didn't finish this at all.  My goal was to tackle John Adams by David McCullough.  I may have a second chance at this, Amy of My Friend Amy is doing a read along in April.


5. I will read a classic book that I've never read. Nope, not a one.  I suppose I could stretch it and include both Lonesome Dove and True Grit, more modern classics, but my goal was to read The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.


6. Host or co-host a challenge or read-a-long. YES! I did it! 2 in fact! Leah at Amused by Books and I completed Wolf Hall in May, and then Leah, Amy and I completed Lonesome Dove in November! Whew!


7. Continue our Mother/Daughter book club throughout the remainder of this school year and the next.  YES!  We have made it through 3rd grade and are actively into 4th grade.  We are reading The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry and our discussion is next Tuesday.

Now what is up for 2011?  Much of the same -- but a few more for a complete Top Ten!

1. Finish all challenges: Once again, I'd rather look back and know I've FINISHED something, than think I've left lots of challenge books unread.  So, I've committed to What's In a Name Challenge (the books are on my side bar) and a 1 month (January) L. M. Montgomery challenge -- Emily Climbs.

2. Read more local authors: I'm determined to read The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, or at least the 1st of the series.  That way, next time he is at the library, I can converse coherently with him.

3. Finish all book club books: This year we picked all our books in advance, which is new for us.  I've read 5 of our selections already, so I doubt I will re-read those, but I will certainly read the others.

4. I will read one biography of a major historical figure. See above -- this IS they year for John Adams!

5. I will read a classic book that I've never read. With the recent purchase of my NOOK and the discovery of Project Gutenberg, I've downloaded over 40 classic works. So if it isn't The Grapes of Wrath, it will be something!

6.  Embrace my NOOK!  I was slow and reluctant to purchase this.  I love BOOKS -- ones you can touch, feel, smell, and pass along to others.  But I think there is room in life for an e-reader. My goal is to read ONE e-book a month.

7.  Plan ahead!  One of my biggest hang ups is not thinking in advance about what I want to read -- I'm always being swayed by what's on the shelf at the library or what I see on other blogs (simply known as reading ADD).  In order to take control of my shelves, I plan on a personal monthly reading list that I can check off when I'm done.  It will include my required reading (all book club books/challenge books) and the titles I WANT to read.

8.  2011 Reading goal -- 65 books. I've hovered around 50 books the past two years.  With the end of my two year PTA presidency in sight, I hope to read a few more once May arrives!

9.  Read the book that has been sitting on my shelf the LONGEST.  I believe that would be Possession by A. S. Byatt.  It's been there FOREVER! (At this point, that my qualify as a CLASSIC too!).

10. Only check out books at the library that I PLAN on reading.  I check them out, let them sit on my table, renew them endlessly, then return them unread.  Enough.

WHAT ARE YOUR 2011 GOALS?
  
Thanks to Jen at The Broke and The Bookish for this weekly meme.


Monday, January 10, 2011

And the Newbery Medal Winner of 2011 is...

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool



Summary from B&N:
Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

Caldecott Medal winner:
“A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead.  The book was written by Philip C. Stead.

 

Summary from  B&N:
Amos McGee, a friendly zookeeper, always made time to visit his good friends: the elephant, the tortoise, the penguin, the rhinoceros, and the owl.But one day—"Ah-choo!"—he woke up with the sniffles and the sneezes. Though he didn't make it into the zoo that day, he did receive some unexpected guests…

Philip Stead's gently humorous tale of friendship and dedication is illustrated by his wife Erin Stead's elegant drawings, embellished with subtle hints of color.


Coretta Scott King award winner:
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia



Summary by B&N
Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.

Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them-an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

For a complete list of the ALA 2011 Award winners please read their press release.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

Nothing like a little snow (or a lot for where I live) to help put you in the reading mood.  Schools are canceled, libraries are closed, I will be hunkered down for the day trying to gain ground on the stack of books that continue to build on my shelves.

The big news this week -- I bought this:

 nook

I chose this over the other e-products because I am already a devoted Barnes and Noble customer and their e-reader is compatible to my library's downloadable library, where the Kindle is not.  Also, my father-in-law got me a gift card to buy one...so it was a no brainer.  I've spent the week trying to download as many FREE books as possible from Project Gutenberg -- I think I've got every classic title in literature now available on my handy NOOK.

Now, to this week's reads:

FINISHED THIS WEEK:

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell J. Kaplan (not yet reviewed)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (3 out of 5 stars -- did not like it as much as the book-bloggersphere).

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (this was our mother/daughter book club selection for January -- it was delightful, charming, quirky and witty -- can't wait to discuss it with our girls).

CURRENTLY READING:

Early Candlelight by Maud Hart Lovelace

Synopsis from B&N:

This historical novel set at Old Fort Snelling in the 1830s is a rich and romantic re-creation of the early settlement period in Minnesota's history. Maud Hart Lovelace's careful research into the documents of the Minnesota Historical Society, combined with her knowledge of the actual setting, enabled her to write a story that conveys a sense of time and place both accurate and compelling for young adults as well as general readers.

I adored the Betsy Tacy series that we read for our mother/daugher book club...I'm hoping her adult works are as endearing as her juvenile contributions.

UP NEXT:

Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery (I'm joining a LM Montgomery challenge sponsored by Reading to Know for the month of January -- I've read the 1st in this series and loved it).

 
The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb (this is for a mail-book club I belong too -- I've never read anything by this author).
 
 
 
What are you reading this week?

Book Review -- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet


BookHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My personal enjoyment rating:  3 out of 5 stars (It was only OK)

Book source:  Personal copy

Sensitive reader:  There is nothing objectionable in this novel.

Henry Lee is caught between loyalty to his family, his country and his dearest friend. As a first generation Chinese-American, Henry is subject to abuse from his fellow classmates for his ethnicity, but at least he is not being forced into “relocation” camps like his fellow Seattle citizens, the thousands of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans thought to be a threat to the country during this tumultuous time. Henry’s only ally and friend is Keiko Okabe, another 6th grader with whom he develops an enduring friendship.

I was expecting to LOVE this book, due to all the glowing reviews I’ve read. But it fell short for me in many areas.

I thought the story was very predictable: a Romeo/Juliet type romance between two Chinese-American and Japanese American youths. I had a hard time believing that these 12 year olds would develop the very “adult” feelings they were experiencing. I thought the author tried to show that because of their family traditions, relationships could develop at such an early age. But in the end, despite all the uncertainty and tragedy that was happening to them that would normally draw two people together (like a pair of 16 or 17 year olds), I think 12 year olds would be 12 year olds and think the opposite sex still, for the most part, would have cooties.

I also wanted to feel the pain and tragedy of this entire community of people being relocated to areas as far away as Texas, and I didn’t. I thought the author’s narrative and prose was very two dimensional – there was always something missing.

There were also a couple of historical questions of authenticity that I tried to reconcile: During the flash back/flash forward sequencing, a scene set in 1986 had Henry and a vintage record shop owner discussing the restoration of a vinyl record, to which the shop owner replies, “it could only be restored with a laser.” I’m not an expert on vinyl LPs, but were lasers used as a means of restoring anything in the ‘80s? Also, when trying to find Keiko in her mature years, Henry’s son is purported to use his “computer.” Again, the assumption here is that computers were used to “search” for things, and I don’t think they had that capability yet. But, I could be wrong.

Ultimately, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was an adequate tribute to those who were subject unfair deportation from their homes and deprived of their property, livelihoods, and in many cases, families.  I'm still waiting for the complete novel that tells the story and the history of Japanese internment in the United States.

This is a very intersting narrative from the author about the Japanese district in Seattle:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

A new year and a new round of books! I hope everyone had a scrumptious literary holiday -- because I certainly did!

COMPLETED LAST WEEK:

True Grit by Charles Portis (5 stars!  And the movie was AWESOME too!)
True Grit

Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (2 stars -- I'm reluctant to admit that I found this very popular book dreadfully boring.)
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons (3 stars -- I liked it, but it was heavy on characters, too light on plot.)
Charms for the Easy Life

CURRENTLY READING:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

I bought this book a year ago for a birthday present to myself -- and I'm just now getting around to reading it!

UP NEXT:
I have NO IDEA!  I got a sled full of books from Santa -- so I'm not even sure where to begin. 

What did Santa bring you -- and what are you reading this week?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Book Review -- Charms for the Easy Life


Charms for the Easy Life
Book: Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

My enjoyment rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Book source: borrowed copy

Three generations of North Carolina women: Charlie Kate, Sophia and Margaret, all fiercely independent, highly educated, and thriving in the life they have created, all without the help of any man. Charlie Kate is a self taught “healing” woman, who becomes the local, rural doctor; Sophia, her daughter, is fighting to find her own place in her mother’s world; Margaret, the bright granddaughter, has dreams of a college education, but is unwilling to leave the cocoon created by her matriarchs.

This was an extremely well written story, but without much if any plot. More of a character study, than novel. It covers, for the most part, the war years of World War II – where these women care for the returning wounded, both physically and mentally. It also deftly portrays the southern society at that time – white vs. black, affluent vs. poor.

This was my first Kaye Gibbons novel (one I pulled out of the donation bin at the library). I enjoyed her easy writing style and her female characters. I would be willing to read more of her, but would hope her other novels have more of a point.