Monday, November 30, 2009

November Reading in Review

How was your November?   I had a rough month with the death of my brother, but I am thrilled that I read some great books which really helped me out. In addition, thanks to the Thankfully Reading Weekend, I was able to read more book than I would have --all things considered.

I read (15) books, and the quality of my reads was very good.  My favorite book was, The Christmas List; Richard Paul Evans, although  (6) others will also be highly recommended with 4.5/5 ratings.

Of the (15) books I did read, (7) were review books. I read (3) non fiction books and listened to (2) audio books. (11/15) books were from my stacks, and 4 came from the library. Here is a summary:


171. The Haunting of Hill House; Shirley Jackson - 4.5/5
172. Still Life; Louise Penny - 4/5
173  Picking Bones From Ash; Mockett - 4.5/5
174. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane; Howe - 4/5
175. Traveling With Pomegranates; Kidd Monk - (audio) 1/5
176. Have a Little Faith; Mitch Albom - 4.5/5
177. The Humbling; Philip Roth - 3/5
178. Away; Amy Bloom - (audio) 4/5
179. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much; Bartlett - 4.5/5 (review)
180. The Christmas Dog; Carlson - 4/5 (review)
181. Her Fearful Symmetry; Niffenegger - 4/5 (review)
182.Await Your Reply; Chaon - 4.5/5 (review)
183. The Christmas List; Richard Evans - 5/5
184. Wishin and Hopin'; Wally Lamb - 4.5/5 (review)
185. Malcolm X (Bio); Myers - 4/5

Completed Challenges (November)

  • Clear Off Your Shelves
  • Read Your Own Books
Open Challenges

  • A-Z Challenge - 25/26
  • War Through the Generations WWII - 4/5
  • Fall Into Reading Challenge – 14/15
  • 2009 Christmas Reading Challenge - 3/4
  •  Completed Challenges for 2009 - (15)

  • Hope you had a good month as well!

2009 - Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge - Completed

 When I joined this challenge I was not too sure I'd be successful, so I selected a goal of 20%.  So here is how I did: In October and November I read a total of 35 books, so that would mean at least (7) had to come from my shelves, and without even realizing it (21) were from my shelves or 60%.  Here are the books that I completed from my own shelves:

Completed Books from my Shelves:

  1. A Change in Altitude; Anita Shreve - disappointing
  2. The Brutal Telling; Penny - recommended
  3. What the Dead Know; Lippmann - recommended
  4. Tortilla Flat; Steinbeck - recommended
  5. Solace; Temes -  recommended
  6. A Duty to the Dead; Martin - recommended 
  7. Gift of the Sea; Lindbergh - recommended
  8. Sworn to Silence; Castillo (audio) - recommended
  9. Haunted Island; Nadler - ?? - okay   
  10. The Recipe Club; Israel and Garfinkle - recommended
  11. The Christmas Cookie Club; Pearlman - recommended  
  12. The Haunting of Hill House; Shirley Jackson - recommended 
  13. Picking Bones from Ash; Mockett - recommended 
  14. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane; K. Howe - recommended
  15. Away; Amy Bloom - (audio) - recommended
  16. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much; Allison Hoover Bartlett - recommended 
  17. Her Fearful Symmetry; A. Niffenegger - recommended 
  18. The Christmas Dog; Carlson - recommended
  19. Await Your Reply; Chaon - recommended
  20. The Christmas List; Evans - recommended
  21. Wishin and Hopin: A Christmas Story; Lamb - recommended  
 This challenge has now pumped me up for my 2010 Reading From My Shelves Project.
Thanks Swapna. Hope all who participated in this challenge had a great time.

Seven Mini Book Reviews

I am too far behind to catch up on all my reviews of books I've read the last week. So since today is the last day of November, I'm taking the easy way out, and doing a combined post and some mini-reviews.  Here are several books I read, enjoyed, and my quick thoughts.

 I really liked all of these books - all are recommended!

179.  The Man Who Loved Books Too Much; Allison Hoover Bartlett -1999 - 2003 John Gilkey used dozens of credit card dozens of credit card numbers he obtained illegally to obtain thousands of rare books.  If you love books, stories about books and one particular book lover whose eccentric obsession landed him time in jail, this might be just the book for you.  I found it fascinating to read bout the world of book collecting. RECOMMENDED (received for review from Lydia @ Riverhead Books)

180.  Her Fearful Symmetry; Audrey Niffenegger - Elspeth and Edie are estranged identical twins. Elspeth lives in London and Edie lives in the US.  When Elspeth dies are early death from cancer, she leaves behind her lover Robert, who lived on the first floor of the flat.  Julia and Valentina are mirror-image twins who live in the US and inherit their Aunt Elspeth's flat, provided that they live in it for a year before selling it, and that their parents never set foot inside the flat.  Martin lives on the third floor above the girls in the flat. Martin suffers from severe OCD, agoraphobia. His wife has left him, he works from home and designs crossword puzzles.  Her Fearful Symmetry is a contemporary Gothic ghost story, with a marvelous sense of place, opposite Highgate Cemetery. Although I found most of the characters pretty unlikable (except for Martin), I did enjoy the story. There was an icy presence that at times chilled me to the bone, and it took a while for me to realize where the story was headed. RECOMMENDED (received for review from Simon and Schuster)

181.  The Christmas Dog; Melody Carlson - Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. Her husband passed away, her children are far away, and she has a new neighbor who seems to be making the neighbor a lot less attractive. When mangy dog appears at her doorstep, Betty thinks it belongs to her new neighbor, but what follows is a sweet story that teaches Betty what Christmas really means. RECOMMENDED. (review copy)

182. Await Your Reply; Dan Chaon - In this terrific page turner the lives of three characters converge, and identities are invented and reinvented.  Miles Cheshire is searching for his mentally ill twin brother, Hayden - a schizophreniac. His travels take him through Canada and to the Arctic Circle, following clues along the way.

Next there is Ryan who is failing miserably in. He gets a call from his uncle Jay, and he learns that his parents are not really his parents, but that Jay is his father. Ryan moves to Michigan with Jay, and gets involved in an illegal money-making scheme

Lucy is a brilliant high school senior . Her parents have died in a car crash, she's living with her older sister. Her high school history teacher, George Orson, asks her to run away with him, he promises her a great life. Lucy finds herself living in a creepy, abandoned motel with George Orson who becomes distant and secretive, but Lucy finds this hard to believe.

This was a riveting page turner. The story line is constantly shifting, but that is not a bad thing. Little by little the pieces begin to fall into place, and by the end you will find yourself thinking about this story for some time to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (received for review from Random House)

183.  The Christmas List; Richard Paul Evans - In this wonderful holiday books we meet James Kier. James is a miserable man. He does not care who he hurts as long as he's making money in the process. One morning he wakes up and reads his own obituary in the newspaper. He is shocked when the on-line obits by those who worked for him and knew him....told it like it was. Jim was not a man who was loved by all.  However, when he straightens out the newspaper, and when everyone realizes he is alive and well, James decides to make right all the wrongs he has done in his life: hence The Christmas List.  A touching emotionally charged story of redemption and the power of forgiveness. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (received from paperbackswap)

184.  Wishin' and Hopin; Wally Lamb - Set in the  fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, the author takes his readers on a hilarious holiday ride into St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School with a truly memorable cast of characters. From Mother Filomina, Rosalie Twerskihe, teacher Madame Frechette, and Russian student Zhenya Kabakova.  The story is narrated by fifth grader, Felix Funicello. He was perfect to tell this funny story that had me in stitches throughout. I especially loved how I could relate to 10 year old Felix, having been his age around the time period in which this story was set (1964). The story takes you back to growing up in a simpler time.  If you need a book that will make you laugh and put you in the holiday mood, don't miss this one. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (received for review from Harper Collins).

185.  Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary; Walter Myers - This book is intended to target 9-12 year olds, and the story divides the life of Malcolm X's into four parts: his childhood; his adolescence; his period of working under Elijah Mohammad; and his life after breaking with the Nation of Islam. Throughout, his experiences and actions are presented in a broader social context, from the beliefs of Marcus Garvey, who exerted such an influence upon Malcolm's parents, to the culture of adolescent black males in the 1930s and 1940s, to the contrasts between the Nation of Islam's views and those of Martin Luther King, Jr, with all the shadings in between.RECOMMENDED (library copy)

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a  weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  This week I got a few that I have really been looking forward to. Hope that you got some goodies as well.

Looking forward to hearing about what arrived at your house today.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankfully Reading - Sunday Update and Summary

Thankfully Reading has been so enjoyable for me.  I was great to allow myself lots of time to read, but yet not feel pressured to stop everything for reading, and also to be free to take a walk, run to the library and have a coffee with my SIL....very relaxing indeed!

So as I mentioned in my last post. Friday, I finished (2) books : The Christmas Dog; Carlson (very good) and Await Your Reply; Chaon (very good) and started a third book which I finished yesterday: The Christmas List; Richard Evans (I loved it), and I also read Wally Lamb's new holiday book: Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story (it is so funny -- loved it so much).  Today I have just one book planned for my A-Z Challenge (I have letters Q and X left); I plan to read: Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary; Myers.  I'd love to finish Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls as well but that may not happen today (it is a great story).

I'm looking at my review stack, and there are about 15 books that I would love to be able to read and review in December, but realistically that will not happen. I plan to read the ones that seem to appeal to me the most, and remain GUILT FREE.

How are your review stacks or end of year goals coming along?

BTW: I PROMISE to get back to my google reader and read your posts, and respond to some comments starting this evening or tomorrow for sure, I just checked 454 unread posts!  Take a break you guys :) ENJOY YOUR SUNDAY!


Okay, I have officially ended my participation in Thankfully Reading as of 9 PM today/Sunday. I read just one book today: Malcolm X for my A-Z Challenge.  It was a YA book and just around 200 pages. So since Friday, I read (5) books. I had fun Sunday, and except for going out for a walk this morning, we stayed in all day. A little light cooking, reading and wrapping my Secret Santa gift so I can ship it tomorrow.  Hope you had a fun weekend everyone.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankfully Reading and Stuff

Hoping everyone in the US had something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and those of you outside of the US and wished the same.

I hopped right on the reading bandwagon yesterday, and never left the house, didn't log on to the computer until right before bed, and was able to read (2) books and start a third book and still get (7) hours of sleep last night.

I read:  Christmas Dog; Melody Carlson and Await Your Reply; Dan Chaon ( BOTH were VERY GOOD), and started The Christmas List; Richard Evans (also VERY GOOD).

OTHER STUFF:  Drank some wine, ate some leftover turkey and leftover pie and took a little nap -- and my husband got to enjoy uninterrupted television. I ask you "what could be better than this???". SORRY .... I have not checked my Google Reader and do not plan to until sometime on Sunday evening.

How is everyone else doing who is participating in Thankfully Reading? 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving today, a wonderful day with much to be thankful for.

                                   Anne Frank
I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.

And this one just for laughs......

Have a Great Day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

178 - Away; Amy Bloom

AWAY; Amy Bloom (audio book)
Pub. Date: August 2007

Away is the story of Lillian Leyb, who was just 22 years old when her parents and husband are murdered in a Russian pogrom in 1924.  Lillian is spared, but she is haunted by constant nightmares of the past.  At the time, Lillian had a 3 year old daughter, Sophie, who she told to hide in a shed while her family was being targeted. She never saw her daughter after that day.

Lillian is sent to stay with a relative in New York City.  An immigrant in a big city, she must learn to speak English, but she is tough minded and determined.  She does what she has to do to survive.  Lillian gets a job as a seamstress at a Yiddish theater in NYC, even though she can't sew. When Lillian's cousin arrives from Russia and tells her that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on a two year journey that takes her from  New York's Lower East Side, to Chicago, Seattle's Jazz District, and up to Alaska,toward Siberia.

MY THOUGHTS -  The audio book was read by Barbara Rosenblat, and she was terrific. I liked this book, and my only complaint about it was that all of the characters seemed more developed than Lillian. Her character fell short. She meets some memorable people along her journey: a prostitute from Seattle's Skid Row, and a man who is on the run from an accidental killing and living in the Yukon.  The prose was lovely; at times touching, sometimes heartbreaking,  and sometime funny too. Lillian's setbacks, near death situations, and a vivid sense of place along the way made for an interesting audio book experience. RECOMMENDED

177 - The Humbling; Philip Roth

The Humbling; Philip Roth
Pub Date: Oct 21, 2009

In this latest book by Philip Roth, a mere 140 pages, the reader is introduced to Simon Axler. Simon is an accomplished stage and screen actor, who at the age of 66 finds his life coming apart.  He becomes a failure on the stage, and his wife, a dancer, has left him.  Depressed, he considers suicide, but instead checks himself into a psychiatric hospital.

After Axler's release from the hospital, he retires to his home in the country in New York, and begins an affair with a woman 25 years younger than him who spent the last 17 years as a lesbian.........need I say more??

My Thoughts: A strange novella, about an aging man, his failing career and his sexual escapades with a much much younger woman. Even though this was a short book, I was not exactly enjoying, I HOPED this story in some way was more like Roth's earlier book: Everyman, another story about an aging man, obsessed with regrets about his life ---that book I enjoyed.  Try it for yourself is you are a Roth fan, as long as your expectations are not too high.

Waiting on Wednesday: First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival

Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts Waiting on Wednesday. Stop by and check out the great books your fellow readers can’t wait to get their hands on. What book are you waiting for?
AUTHOR: Ken Wheaton
PUB DATE: Dec 29, 2009

Product Description (amazon)

Welcome to Grand Prairie, Louisiana - land of confounding accents, hard-drinking senior citizens, and charming sinners - brought to hilarious life in a bracing, heartfelt debut novel simmering with Cajun spice...Father Steve Sibille has come home to the bayou to take charge of St. Pete's church. Among his challenges are teenybopper altar girls, insomnia-curing confessions, and alarmingly alluring congregant Vicky Carrier. Then there's Miss Rita, an irrepressible centenarian with a taste for whiskey, cracklins, and sticking her nose in other people's business. When an outsider threatens to poach Father Steve's flock, Miss Rita suggests he fight back by staging an event that will keep St. Pete's parishioners loyal forever. As The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival draws near, help comes from the strangest places. And while the road to the festival may be paved with good intentions - not to mention bake sales, an elephant, and the most bizarre cook-out ever - where it will lead is anyone's guess.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My 2010 Reading Challenge Picks

Once again, J.Kaye is hosting the 100+ Reading Challenge. I love this challenge as it's usually one I can successfully complete.  SIGN UP HERE .

Thanks again to J. Kaye for hosting the Support Your Local Library Challenge again in 2010. I'm only doing the Mini-Challenge (25) Library books, as my goals for 2010 is to read MORE MORE MORE off my own shelves. More info or  SIGN UP HERE.

This was a challenge I really enjoyed in 2009. For 2010 I hope to read 50 New Authors. Interested in expanding you horizons. Visit Jackie at Literary Escapism to SIGN UP HERE.

I'm getting older not younger (aren't we all)? There are many many great books I want to read and have put off for far too long. So I decided to host my 1st challenge. My goal is (25 predetermined books). Details or SIGN UP HERE.

And, my #1 priority in 2010 is "clearing off  my shelves". With 600+ unread books, this is a MUST. So I decided to take this project seriously, and am committing to (75 books) -- you can choose as few as (20). Want to do the same? For more info and sign up:  SIGN UP HERE.

I don't want to feel "challenge pressure" this year, so (5) seems doable for me. What challenges are you committing to for 2010?

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B from Should Be Reading.

The rules are as follows:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

(p.19) "The way Mom saw it, women should let the menfolk do the the work because it made them feel more manly. The notion made sense only if you had a strong man willing to step up and get things done, and between Dad's gimp, Buster's elaborate excuses, and Apache's tendency to disappear, it was often up to me to keep the place from falling apart".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted on Mondays by Marcia at the Printed Page.

Just (2) for me, but they both sound great!

The Broken Teaglass; Emily Arsenault ( sent by a member)

When She Flew; Jennie Shortridge  (Penguin Group)

How about the rest of you....any good titles you'd like to share??

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankfully Reading Weekend and Stuff

I need some time to finish up some 2009 challenges and just learned of this upcoming fun event:

Looking for an informal, no pressure opportunity to devote to books and reading?  Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves gets full credit for coming up with the idea of Thankfully Reading Weekend. which will start on Friday, November 27 and end on Sunday, November 29.

There are no rules to the weekend and no prizes; the plan is to simply hoping to devote a good amount of time to reading, and perhaps meeting some  reading challenges and goals for 2009. We thought it'd be fun if we cheered each other on a bit. If you think you can join in, grab the button (Didn't Jenn do a great job?) and sign on to Mr. Linky. If you don't have a blog, use the comments!

If you can't join this weekend, Bethany of Dreadlock Girl is hosting a Read-a-thon on December 5 and Michelle of GalleySmith is hosting "seriespalooza," an event for catching up on your series, later in December.

International readers: Just join in, no need to be celebrating the U.S. holiday. Remember that there are no rules. You can sign up HERE.


Other Stuff

It's been a lousy (9) days around these parts since my brother's passing. The hub hub of activity: preparations for the wake, funeral, celebration of his life, and all the cards, flowers, food. Suddenly, all the activity stops and suddenly the realization sets in. My SIL and I have started our walking routine once again. Things feel very weird to me, without my brother next door.  I have my husband, who has been my rock through lots of sleepless nights.  I can only imagine how lonely the house must be for my SIL. Life, at least for now time passes slowly around these parts for all of us. 
Thank you all for your warm, sincere expressions of sympathy; it meant so much to me. 

  • READINGI'm almost through with (2) books: Her Fearful Symmetry, Niffenegger, and Away; Amy Bloom (audio) - I am enjoying both of them, now that I am a bit less distracted. 
  • THANKSGIVING - This did have a way of sneaking up on us. We'll be having (6) for dinner so I won't be stressing myself out too much.  (What are your plans --those of you celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday?)

Friday, November 20, 2009

End of Year Reading - I Hope

I always panic towards the end of the year. There are always so many books that I want to squeeze in, but so much else going on that there is usually not enough time to do everything. Some of these books have sat on my shelf a bit longer than others, but all were published/acquired in 2009.

Can you help me out, and let me know if there are any on my list that you absolutely loved?

Do you have any end of  year reading goals?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Behold -- Mighty Mouse

(Sent to me by a dear friend; this made my day. Hope it puts a smile on your face as well).

Seemingly unaware of the beast towering over it, the tiny rodent grabbed at  scraps of meat thrown into the African Leopard's enclosure. But instead of  pouncing on the tiny intruder, the 2-year-old leopard Sheena kept her  distance.  After a few minutes she tried to nudge the mouse away with her  nose, but the determined little guy kept chewing away until he was full.

The extraordinary scene was captured by photography student Casey Gutteridge at the Santago Rare Leopard Project in Hertfordshire, England .  The 19-year-old, photographing the leopard for a course project, was astounded by the mouse's behavior.

He said had no idea where the mouse came from.  He just appeared after the
keeper had dropped in the meat for the leopard. Taking no notice of the leopard, the mouse went straight over to the meat and started eating. 

Even when the leopard bent down and sniffed him, the mouse just carried on eating like nothing had happened. Even the keeper said he'd never seen anything like it before. 

Project owner Jackie James added: “It was so funny to see - Sheena batted the mouse a couple of times to try to get it away from her food. But the determined  little thing took no notice and just carried on.”  

The mouse continued to eat the leopard's lunch and showed the leopard who was boss.  We can only assume that Casey received a grade of A on his project!  


Mailbox Monday on Thursday

With all that has been going on, I did not have a chance to post my books that arrived in last week's mail. Here they are:

Under the Dome; Stephen King (purchased)
9 Dragons; Michael Connelly (won)
The Island of Eternal Love; Chaviano (purchased)
Buckley's Story; King (review copy)
Loitering With Intent; Murial Spark (purchased)
We Have Always Lived in a Castle; Jackson (purchased)
The Glass Room: Mawer (purchased)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - Secrets of Eden; Chris Bohjalian

Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Secrets of Eden
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Pub. Date:  February 2, 2010

about the book - From author's website

Chris Bohjalian's latest novel is rich with his elegant, page-turning prose and builds to the sort of ending that left millions of readers of The Double Bind and Midwives speechless and stunned - and hungry for another of his books.

"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels.
Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice and George's daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen - who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.

But then the State's Attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.
(Chris Bohjalian is a favorite author. I've read and enjoyed all of his books).  What is your WOW pick for this week?

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

176 - Have a Little Faith: A True Story; Mitch Albom

Have a Little Faith: A True Story, by Mitch Albom is a book that I hoped might be an appropriate read this last week, while spending time with my dying brother during his final days.  I was not disappointed.

Mitch Albom  has written a beautiful story about his amazing eight-year journey involving two men of God, two different faiths and two communities.

Mitch Albom was asked to write a eulogy by his childhood Rabbi, Albert Lewis "Reb", when he was 82 years old. To do this Mitch made many visits to the rabbi's home to spend time with him, and his family get to know theme better.

This time spent with the Rabbi gave the author an opportunity to reflect on his own lapsed faith. Although Albom had a religious education, but had pretty much walked away from religion. He was now a Jewish man, married to a Catholic woman.

In the process of these meetings Albom meets a Christian Pastor named Henry Covington.  Covington was an ex-drug dealer who had begun a ministry to the homeless in Detroit. His calling came after a spiritual bargain Covington had made with God when he spared his life. The "I Am My Brother's Keeper" ministry, was a very poor church in Detroit. The church was so poor, the roof leaked and the building itself was decaying badly.  Despite this, Covington showed Albom how lives truly can be reformed when people have faith and hope, and reach for it.

The book was written over a period of eight years, and the only bond between the two religious men was their belief in God. One Christan, one Jew, and their philosophy on life and death, and good and evil.

My Thoughts: I think this book would appeal to both religious and secular individuals. People who were born into faith, have lost faith, or are still searching for something will find this powerful story insightful. From issues of doubting God, the importance of faith in trying times, and why bad things sometimes happen. The book is written in an informal memoir style.  I love the fact that this book was never preachy, but I did find it comforting and inspirational.  RECOMMENDED

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rest in Peace Dear Brother - November 13, 2009

My dear brother passed away peacefully today, after a one year courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  I was fortunate enough to have been able to spend much of the last seven months with him, and my dear sister-in-law. I was even lucky enough to be with him when he took his final breath this morning.

My brother, was (11) years older than me. He was the most amazing, loving, caring individual. He loved his home and his family, and preferred the simple things in life. He will be sadly missed by his wife, daughter, and me, his only surviving sibling, as well as his niece, nephews and many friends. His funeral will be on Tuesday, so I will not be posting or able to comment on your blogs for several days. This is truly a sad time for us all.

The Broken Chain
We little knew this morning,
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly,
In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you.
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide.
And although we cannot see you,
You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

175 - Traveling with Pomegranates; A Mother-Daughter Story; Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Having enjoyed both The Secret Life of Bees, and The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd, I was anxious to try her latest book: Traveling With Pomegranates,  a mother-daughter travel memoir of sorts.

In 1998 through 2000, Sue Monk Kidd,  had just turned 50 at the time, had been dealing with issues of aging and  peri-memopause. She had decided that as she said goodbye to her youth, she wanted to try something new. She wanted to try to write fiction.  At the same time, Sue's daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, had just graduated from college at 22, and had found out that she had been rejected from the grad school of her choice. She was suffering from depression, and trying to figure out what to do with her life.

The mother-daughter duo spent 1998 through 2000 traveling through Greece and France, on a spiritual journey of sorts, as they tried to redefine their lives. Their travels to sacred sites provided the catalyst for some soulful introspection.

My thoughts: For me this travel memoir was somewhat blah. The audio book was written and read in alternating chapters by mother and daughter.  The story was very slow paced, the voices monotone, and I just did not think the mother-daughter issues were that unusual to warrant a memoir. Many, many women go through the same feelings and issues that Sue Monk Kidd did when they transition to middle age and menopause. Granted not all decide to go on and write a novel, that becomes a bestseller, but their issues are not that different.  As for Ann Kidd Taylor, her situation is not that unique either. Many college grads feel anxious (some depressed) not knowing what the future has in store for them.  To me, the issues and themes just seem too ordinary to me, and, as a result made for a disappointing memoir. (Unfortunately, I can't recommend this book).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - Shadow Tag; Louise Erdrich

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Shadow Tag
Author: Louise Erdrich
Pub. Date: February 2, 2010

(Amazon Description).......Here is the most telling fact: you wish to possess me. Here is another fact: I loved you and let you think you could. When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, as much the truth about her life and her marriage as the Red Diary - hidden where he can find it - is a manipulative farce. Alternating between these two records, complemented by unflinching third-person narration, "Shadow Tag" is an eerily gripping read. When the novel opens, Irene is resuming work on her doctoral thesis about George Catlin, the nineteenth century painter whose Native American subjects often regarded his portraits with suspicious wonder. Gil, who gained notoriety as an artist through his emotionally revealing portraits of his wife - work that is adoring, sensual, and humiliating, even shocking - realizes that his fear of losing Irene may force him to create the defining work of his career. Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children: fourteen-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an eleven-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and, sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end. As her home increasingly becomes a place of violence and secrets, and she drifts into alcoholism, Irene moves to end her marriage. But her attachment to Gil is filled with shadowy need and delicious ironies. In brilliantly controlled prose, "Shadow Tag" fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption.

What's your pick this week?

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is hosted weekly by Should Be Reading and asks you to:
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share 2 "teaser"sentences also citing the title of the book and the author and in that way people can have great recommendations if they like the "teaser.
4. Please avoid spoilers!

"I glanced at his aging body. Such a trip would be impossible now"

(Really enjoying this story)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Marcia of The Printed Page is the host of Mailbox Monday. Feel free to share what books arrived by mail this week at your home.  I hit the jackpot! These (11) books arrived at my place last week:

The kind people at Harper Collins were very generous this past week. (6) books were sent to me for review.  Two of the six books are review copies, the other 4 are finished copies: Hummingbirds, Joshua Gaylord; The Gift, Ceceila Ahern; Wishin and Hopin, Wally Lamb; Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, The Afterlife, Francine Prose; Pirate Latitude, Michael Crichton; and The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver.

From Penguin /NAL Trade Publishing came The Girl on Legare Street, Karen White; From Paperback Swap members: In This Way I was Saved, Brian DeLeeua; The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer; and  a Giveaway Win from Libby's Library News: The Bible Salesman, Clyde Edgarton, and last but not least : The Last Dickens, Matthew Pearl from: Random House. 

Thanks to all who brightened my week. It is going to be hard to decide which books to read first.

Hope you had a full mail box as well :)