Friday, September 28, 2012

Les Miserables

The Hunger Games Trilogy did me in and I have decided to try reading something a big more inspiring.  What book could possibly be more inspiring than Les Misérables  by Victor Hugo? Have you read it?  It's a big, thick book to be sure but don't let that stop you.  It's also one of the most amazing books ever written.  I read it about twenty years ago and even though it's rough to get through because of it's length, there were parts that kept me from putting down the book.

Since there is going to be movie coming out on Christmas day based on the musical,   (Another amazing work of art that should not be missed.) I decided it was time for another read of this masterpiece.

My goal is to finish it by Christmas day.  I am going to take breaks if I want.  Do you think I can finish it by Christmas?

Here's an amazing trailer from the movie. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mockingjay By Suzanne Collins (Will Contain Spoilers)


 I just finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and so I'm in kind of a whirl of emotions as I write this post.  First of all, I honestly don't want to gratuitously pan this trilogy as so many people have been raving about it for eons. (I might be the last person to have finished reading it!) Because people are saying that they identify with it on such a personal level, I just want to make it clear, I am not dissing these people.  I believe them and respect their opinion.  And I honestly hope that some of them will post a comment explaining why they feel that way because I had a really hard time understanding the point of this series and the emotions that it's bringing up in young people.

I actually somewhat enjoyed the first book, The Hunger Games . It was different.  I love dystopian novels and so I worked my way through it connected heart and soul.  I found the world Suzanne created interesting and the whole children as gladiators theme really caught my attention and I felt that it could really make for an interesting series of books. 

I would have to say that while I found The Hunger Games gripping, I also found it pretty intense.  Especially the theme of children killing children.  Let's be honest, we live in a world where that goes on.  Whether you side for or against abortion, you have to admit, if abortion is not killing a child, it's ending the life of something that will someday turn into a child. We do that every day in the United States without blinking an eye.  It's legal to do.  Child soldiers abound in countries around the world.  Not only do armies use them, but those who claim to advocate against using them exploit them.  Street children run up and down the avenues in cities the world over.  Brazil rounds them up and kills them.  Children in the United States are routinely gunned down by their peers.  China has a one child policy that is simply Orwellian as goes against it's own culture and tradition of thousands of years which stipulates that parents need a male child to ensure they are cared for in their elderly years. Need I go on?  The book obviously resonates with cultures and people around the world. 

So I stuck valiantly with the first book even though it made me feel down and stirred up a lot of negative emotions.  Sometimes books need to do that to make points.  They stir you up and resolve with the hero's point of view in a way that makes you see the world differently.  I can go with that.

So when I finished The Hunger Games, I was hooked and looked forward to the second and third book which I bought in a kindle set at a low price.  I dived into Catching Fire with high expectations knowing that it was going to continue with the violent themes of death and revolution.  I was hoping that Katniss and Gale would lead their families and others out of their District and into the forest where they could survive the Capitol's assault on them and eventually lead the whole country to a real revolution with Katniss and Gale leading the way as child soldiers. 

Where did Katniss go in the second book?  Back into the arena.  More bloodbath, more dead children, this time the plot exploded into such chaos in my mind that I honestly can't tell you what happened.  I lived through The Hunger Games with Katniss the first time.  She took me through it, we survived.  Going back in seemed a very weak writing choice.  I wanted badly to find out what happened and so I kept reading, but I started to disconnect. I just could not take the violence.

But yet there was one more book to go.  Certainly there is always a down element in the second installment of any trilogy.  It is usually the darker of the three installments of any trilogy.  Certainly things would resolve!  Certainly Katniss would emerge victorious!  This is marketed at a Young Adult series.  Certainly there would be some kind of positive ending.

I just finished Mockingjay this afternoon.  I was absolutely dumb founded by the end of the book.  They all went to war.  This time for real.  Things got a bit interesting.  Peeta was brainwashed and tried to kill Katniss.  Interesting plot twist.  But that was the only interesting twist.  Other than that, it was violence, violence, violence, bloodshed and so many people, excuse me, CHILDREN were killed, I can't even tell you who because by that time I was skimming to find out the very end and honestly was not connected to the characters to the point that I cared.  Katniss whines and moans through the whole book and finally implodes on herself.  Should I go into the themes here?  Katniss trying to rescue Peeta from his emotionally tortured mindset.  Gale finally understanding Katniss won't choose him and just fades away somewhere.  Gale, in my humble opinion, is the only MAN in the whole book.   Katniss ends up marrying, poor, broken Peeta who somehow, amid the war and bloodshed emotionally heals and this leads me to think this could be some great societal theme that woman have to deal with today.  We go for the weak man instead of the real man? We're broken down women, destined to implode on ourselves emotionally and chose the wrong man?  No matter the underlying themes that could probably be discussed for ages, the book does actually end:  Katniss and Peeta live on in the epilogue, not happy, but survivors bearing babies of their own.  

I won't even mention the grammar mistakes on the book.  Doesn't anyone edit books anymore?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Epic Read

There is nothing like a summer epic read.

You know the kind.  Novels that unroll themselves and take you down a pathway of adventure and enclose you in a world so tight that you forget the sun shining outside or the waves licking your toes while you lay on the beach.

The first adult epic novel I read as a junior higher was, The Thorn Birds Not only did it take me on an adventure to Australia and expose me to a continent I did not know anything about yet, but it also swept me into the adult world of complex relationships, forbidden love and the mysteries of the Catholic church.  I did not understand everything I that was going on but was still enthralled.

I decided to reread "The Thorn Birds" this summer after finding the book in a $1 used book store.  The book was like the paperback I read so long ago, over and over, until it fell apart.  I was immediately swept back to Australia in my mind and it was fun to reread parts that I didn't understand as a child and now could comprehend the characters problems with the clarity of adulthood.

As summer is winding down I am reading The Russian Concubine   I was not sure when I started if I would like this book or not but have been pleasantly surprised by it.  The story of a group of ex pats trying to survive in China at the turn of the century with the threats of the communists breathing hard on them has some pretty tight plot turns.  I have about fifty more pages to go and am rushing through this post because I want to get back to it and finish today.

What is your favorite epic summer read?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beach Reads

Summer is the time to head to the beach where long, sunny, lazy days means plenty of time to read.  I never head to the beach without at least one book in my beach bag. (Okay, I rarely even leave home without one or a kindle in my purse!)

I kind of go back and forth with what I like to read during the summer.  I used to commit to a classic tome during the summer months.  Books like Anna Karenina, War and Peace or Les Misérables .  I also remember one summer where I tackled a book on physics by an author who claimed that he could prove there is a God and we will live forever as a computer!  (Hmmmm, this was way before Facebook!)

I think that sometimes the perfect beach read is a mindless trashy novel or something from the latest pulp fiction bestseller list.

In July, I went through a few books, that I just couldn't get into and couldn't finish.  Restless, I took some inspiration from the beach reads that I had seen on the beach this summer.  I saw noses stuck in 11/22/63Being There and The House of Mirth .  But the most popular beach read that I have spotted is Fifty Shades Darker.   I've seen women of all ages enjoying the sun and fun of the beach while reading this bestseller.

Since I had already ground through Fifty Shades of Grey, I decided to try the second installation in this best selling trilogy.  Maybe it would prove to be better as a beach read.  Maybe I would finally "get" what everyone else is getting out of these books.

Yesterday, I took this book to the beach to finish it up.  (I admit there was a bit of speed reading going on as there were reams and reams of boring stuff in between the semi interesting parts that long hauled the plot two inches forward.

I liked this book even less than the first.  Honestly, I find it hard to believe on any level.  And if it was even a realistic type of story, why is it interesting for us to read about a bunch of people with relationship skills who have borderline if not seriously psychological issues.  I mean, Ana is going with a guy who's ex "sub" is stalking her because she looks just like her and she has had a psychotic break.  Hint to Ana, maybe it's not just Christian's ex who's a little mental here.

I could go on, but won't waste my blog on this stuff.  They are not well written books and other than the titillation, I'm not sure why people think this is such great material.

Today I spent my time on the beach with Salman Rushdie.  So far, much more interesting.

What are you reading on the beach?  Or what is your favorite summer read if you cannot get to an ocean?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Time To Face The Change

I've decided to change some things on this blog.  When I started this blog, I thought it would be great to comment on every book I read and have this huge book blog project going along with it.  I planned to write, write, write about books.

Because I read a lot, and I mean a lot of books, I did not take into account how much time I would need to actually blog intelligently about them.  I've been reading a lot of book blogs and seeing what's out there made me hungry to contribute to the book blog community, but I also wanted to do my own thing and not copy other people's ideas of book blogs.

Commenting about every book I read got tedious and I found I just didn't have time to keep up.  So that's why the blog has been lagging the last couple of months.

I decided to take some time and think about whether I wanted to keep this blog or not.

I want to keep this blog going but will be changing it up a bit.

I am not planning on blogging or listing every book I read.  You can go to my GoodReads page and friend me if you want to keep up with that information.

I am hoping to sit down and blog more in depth about books I particularly like or subjects on reading, books and blogging.

Change can be excellent!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What I've Read So Far This Summer


 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Book 3 of the Millennium Trilogy (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) :  I finally got to read the final in this trilogy.  I loved the first two books but this one seemed a bit slower to me.  Elisabeth spent most of the book in the hospital and since she's the most interesting character in the series, I have to say it was a bit more boring.  But I did enjoy the series very much.  I don't read a lot of mystery/thrillers so it was a nice change.

The Horse Whisperer :  This was a reread for me.  I forgot most of the story, so it was nice to revisit.

The Shell Seekers :  I love Rosamunde Pilcher.  This was a reread.  I love this book!

The Royals :  Ah, Kitty Kelly!  Ah, the British Royal Family.  Will the fascination with this family ever end?  Never!

Wings of a Dove (Love Spell) :  Ah, simple romance books!  A great beach read!

Middlesex: A Novel :  A pulitzer prize winner.  An amazing novel about a hermaphrodite who documents her family's journey from Greece to Detroit and her trials growing up as a girl and finally making the decision to be male.  The writing is amazing.

What are you reading this summer?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Post In Which I Explain I Have Not Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth

I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  I have been busy.  But I have also been reading.

Here's what I worked through during my unanticipated blog hiatus.

Esperanza Rising :  A lovely children's book about a little girl who has to deal with the death of her father and loss of her family's plantation.  She moves from Mexico to California and learns how to survive in a new country.

Acts of Faith :  I read this many years ago and loved it.

The Godfather :  This was also a re-read.  I love the book for the details but I still love the movie even more.

Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel :  Gary Shteyngart is simply brilliant.  This quirky, dystopian love story made me laugh out loud many times.

Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival :  This is Anderson Cooper's memoir.  I really like Anderson Cooper's reporting and think he's an excellent journalist.  In this book he tells the story of his father death and brother's suicide.  He also tells a lot of sad news stories.  The book reveals very little about who Anderson really is and what makes him tick.  I am starting to think news journalists are kind of depressed and cynical people.  This book confirmed my theory. 

Bunheads ; This is going to be a TV show.  Watch it.  The book was thoroughly enjoyable.

Songs in Ordinary Time :  I almost passed on this book since it had a big Oprah seal on it.  I tend to really love or really hate her book choices so it's always a game of chance.   This one was a totally pleasant surprise. The story focuses on a family in a small town dealing with alcoholism.  While it's sad, it is told with rich detail and though long, there were times I could not put it down.

Los Angeles Stories (City Lights Noir) :  A book of short stories about people living in Los Angeles during the 30's and 40's.

Legacy (Harlequin Teen) :  This Harlequin teen romance was surprisingly very good.  Calya Kluver's first book is well written and interesting.  I am looking forward to reading the 2nd book in this trilogy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Light Years By Elizabeth Jane Howard

 I really really really wanted to love this book.  I started out enjoying it very much.  It was British, cozy and made me want to drink copious amounts of Irish tea with milk and sugar in it.

But somewhere along the way I started to feel like I was reading a British Danielle Steele novel.  Not to be snobbish, I do like some of Danielle Steele's books but some of them are written as if she were racing to finish them.  Suddenly in The Light Years paragraphs seems to explode into detail and I kept waiting for a plot to appear that would give the book some depth.  It never arrived.

Friday, April 27, 2012

All That Is Bitter And Sweet By Ashley Judd

I really enjoyed reading this book.  I was not a huge Judd's fan but I did like Wynonna's solo albums a lot.  I remember when Ashley Judd was revealed as the second Judd sister and everyone was shocked to learn Naomi had a second child that no one had heard about up to that time.  Ashley's book explains all that and much more.

Ashley had a pretty rough childhood and suffered from emotional and physical abandonment issues the result of which was chronic depression.  She is pretty gracious about her mother but she tells it all like it is and as I read through the book, my respect for her grew.

Not only is she an accomplished actress, but she has moved into humanitarian work and her motive seems genuine.  It's not just an "I'm a cool actress and so here's my working with children" act.

What I appreciated the most in the book was Ashley's honesty and how she shares the emotional process she went through as she began to get involved with raising awareness for people all over the world.  She had to work through her childhood issues and she shares how tough you have to be emotionally to do that kind of work.

Ashley has a brave and courageous heart and her life is nothing short of inspiring.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Help By Kathryn Stockett

 Suddenly it seems as if everyone is reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I avoided this book when it was at the top of the best selling lists and when the movie came out.  I was not able to see the movie either.  While everyone was raving about it, since it was marketed as being a "chick lit" book, I avoided it.  I do like chick lit but not a lot of it so I tend to be a bit picky about the books I choose in that genre.  

It's too bad that this book was marketed in that genre, because I truly felt that this book is not a "light and breezy girl story" and is a substantial literary work.  I was surprised at the depth of feeling it stirred in me.  In short, I absolutely loved this book and at one point I could not put it down.  The intensity of life in the south during segregation is so openly and clearly conveyed.  The idiocy and hypocrisy of segregation is captured well with a dose of humor and humaneness that gives all the characters dignity.

I got this copy for 50 cents at my library.  I will be giving it away to a friend who wants to read it. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Orphans by V.C. Andrews

I wanted to try a book by V.C. Andrews and so I picked up this copy of Orphans at our library used books sale for 10 cents because it looked interesting. I did some research and found that V.C. Andrews did not actually write this book but it was written by a ghost writer who was appointed by the estate to keep grinding out her "books." Failure.

That said, I can't say I didn't enjoy this book a little. It features the stories of four orphans who are adopted by couples with various mental issues and how they didn't fit into their homes and then ended up at the same foster care center. After the first two stories, the next two were not as interesting as the plot was exactly the same for each girl. Mixing up the individual stories and making them different would have made this a really interesting little read. As it was, I cranked through the last two stories at a fast pace, knowing what would happen.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fifty Shades Of Grey By E.L. James

I just finished Fifty Shades of Grey and I need a cigarette.

In fact, all I can say is that if you plan on reading this phenom bestseller that's ranking up there with The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga , go buy a whole pack of them......or maybe a bottle of wine.....or maybe some chocolate. You're gonna need it. Trust me.

This book features a psycho, stalking, overly sexed and screwed up "hero" who manipulates a sexually inexperienced and naive girl into a masochistic sex relationship.

This book is not a romance and those who think it is need their heads examined. I can't for the life of me figure out why it's on the bestseller list. Can someone please enlighten me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Secrets Of The Flesh by Judith Thurman

I have not yet read a book by Colette but have read many quotes from her over the course of my life and was interested in learning more about her. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette was definitely the biography to read as the book is well researched, detailed and very readable.

I have ordered, The Vagabond through Amazon's used books for .01 and am anxiously looking for it in my mailbox every day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Game By Brenda Joyce

Okay so I occasionally read a romance. Sometimes I need a great escape read. This is one of my favorites. It has a pirate, Queen Elizabeth 1 and there are people constantly thrown in and out of the Tower of London. Nothing but fun!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Diana Her True Story By Andrew Morton

I finished Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words. This was a reread and it's been years since I picked it up. This book is the version that was published after Princess Diana's death and includes a new ending documenting her death and a section which includes material and biographical information of her life that she gave to Andrew Morton specifically for this book. This is the closest thing we'll ever have of an autobiography from Princess Diana.

While the book is a bit of a "tell all" and published with her consent and goal of getting "released" from the Royal family and given a divorce, it still is a fascinating story of Princess Diana's life and troubled marriage and divorce to HRH, The Prince of Wales.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Save The Library And Save Money!

I'm traveling in the states and here is the damage from a recent trip to a local library where they sell used books to help support the library. Total cost, $3.20. The books are all in excellent condition.


Save paper/recycling

Supporting the local library

SAVE MONEY! (Most of these books are on my "to read" list and now I own them!)

I also donated an extra $5.00 to the library. Why not? We need our libraries and they had a great influence on my love of reading!


Travel Reading Updates

I'm still traveling, so I have not had time to blog. Here's a quick update on the books I finished this past weekend:

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb: A wonderful, yet depressing story about a girl growing up and dealing with rape, abandonment and an overeating disorder.

Another View by Rosamund Pilcher: If you can't hop on a plane to England, read one of Rosamund's books. They make you want to sit inside on a rainy day and have a cup of tea while you read. That's what I did as I read this one!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Catching Up

I've had a whirlwind week and I have not been able to post regularly. I have been able to read a lot so here's the highlights:

I finished The Poisonwood Bible. This is one of my favorite books. A disgruntled Baptist missionary takes his wife and daughters into the Congo. How could anything possibly go right?

I greatly enjoyed a second reading of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. I absolutely love this "non" self help book.

I ran through an airport and grabbed, The Girl King. by Meg Clothier. This book is a novel based on the famous Georgian Queen Tamara. If you're tired of Tudor novels and need something new and juicy, this book is for you. I really liked it.

This morning I cried as I finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. This novel is about a little boy who is coming to terms with his father's death. His father died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and it is a brilliantly written book that should be read by every American.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Yes, yes, well I'm working my way through the ever popular The Hunger Games Trilogy Seeing that the books are still topping Amazon's best selling lists, everyone else in the world is reading them too.

Honestly, if they were not so popular, I'm not sure I would have picked up these books. I don't read a lot of Young Adult but occasionally dip my foot in the waters. Since these books were so popular, I decided to try them to see what the fuss was about.

I love the dystopian world Ms. Collins has created and it's fantastical qualities and the well told storyline is appealing. I did find myself so stressed out reading The Hunger Games
that I just wanted it to be over. It's really horrific when you think about it. Children killing children and this is in a world where it's okay and somehow I felt that as I was "enjoying" the book, I was taking part in it as well. It left me with an eerie, creepy feeling.

I was hoping that Catching Fire would be about Katniss mentoring someone and was enjoying the book, even hoping it might really turn into Katniss, Peeta and Gale leading their family and friends into the wilderness outside of District 12 and how they survived. That would have been very interesting to me so I was disappointed when everyone went back into the arena. I had to go with them and found the whole, "quell, back in the arena storyline" repetitious.

Of course, now I'm hooked into finding out what happened to District 12 and what kind of rebellion is going on! I have the third book but will take a little break from the intensity and pick it up later.