Monday, May 31, 2010

May Reading Wrap Up

  Thanks goodness I have an extra day this weekend, because I have so many book related projects I wanted to accomplish today. My May wrap-up is one of them.  Was the month of May a good one in books for you? Here is what I read or listened to:
  1. How High the Moon; Sandra Kring - 5/5  (loved it)
  2. Stitches; David Small - 5/5 (loved it)
  3. Fast, Fresh and Green; Susie Middleton - 4/5
  4. Beatrice and Virgil; Yann Martel (audio) - 4.5/5 
  5. One Good Dog; Susan Wilson - 4.5/5 (audio) 
  6. Tinkers; Paul Harding - 3/5 
  7. Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things; Frost and Sketekee - 4/5 
  8. Perfect Reader; Maggie Pouncey - 4/5 
  9. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; Aimee Bender - 4/5 
  10. Slow Death By Rubber Duck; Smith and Lourie - 5/5  (loved it)
  11. Whiter Than Snow; Sandra Dallas - (audio) 4/5 
  12. Postmistress; Sarah Blake - (audio) 2.5/5 
  13. The Walk; Richard Paul Evans - (audio) 2/5

MAY  Totals
  • (13 books) - (4) non fiction (5) audio) (9) fiction (6 review books)
  • Favorite Books of the Month:  - How High the Moon; Sandra Kring; Stitches; David Small and Slow Death By Rubber Duck
  • YTD - (70 Books) 
 2010 Book Purchases 
(51 books bought for only $126.22)

2010 Challenge Progress
  1. 2010 100+ Reading Challenge - 70/100
  2. 2010 Reading From My Shelves Project - 42/75
  3. 2010 ARC Reading Challenge - 42/25 - Completed
  4. 2010 Pub Challenge - 37/10 - Completed
  5. 2010 New Authors Challenge - 45/50 Completed
  6. 2010 Audio Book Challenge - 15/20
  7. 2010 Gothic Novel Challenge - 2/5
  8. 2010 What an Animal Challenge - 6/6 Completed
  9. 2010 Books To Read Before I Die Challenge - 2/20
  10. 2010 New York Challenge - 1/1 - Completed 

Mailbox Monday - May 31, 2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia @ The Printed Page.  Join in the fun and check out what arrived in everyone's mailboxes last week by visiting Marcia's blog.

 The covers are really beautiful on the six books above. Many seem like great summer reads.

This week started feeling like Christmas, as most of these books arrive on the same days.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

70 - The Walk; Richard Paul Evans

I have enjoyed Richard Paul Evans holiday novels for the last 3-4 years. The stories have always left me with something to think about, and I like the fact that the stories oftentimes demonstrate the power of the human spirit. When I heard Evans had a new five-part series planned, I could not wait to read the first book: The Walk.

The premise of the story is this: Alan Christoffersen once was a young man who had it all: money, power, material possessions, and a wife he loved. He was a successful executive, in love with his wife McKale. His life falls apart when his wife is severely injured and later dies in a horseback riding accident.  Bit by bit he loses it all. His business associate undermines him, and slowly he not only loses his wife, but his business, home and most of his money.  He decides to "walk" from his home state of Washington to the Florida Keys. A journey that will hopefully, help him to find himself and some purpose in his life once again.

MY THOUGHTS - This is one author who should not read his own audio books. I was unable to feel anything for the main character I'm guessing, the author was trying emotions such as anger, sadness and grief, but it just seem so contrived and forced. If you want to know everything this guy eats on his journey, read this book. You'll be kept informed through regular updates as you read or listen.
Fortunately, this was such a short book (unabridged - just 4 cds), so I was able to make it through.  Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this new book. Part 2 of the 5 part series is due out in April 2011, but I'll be skipping that one.

Rating - 2/5 stars - Library Audio book

69 - The Postmistress; Sarah Blake

Set in 1940-41, The Postmistress is a story that follows the lives of three very different women: Frankie, Emma and Iris. The story is narrated by Frankie Bard, a radio reporter and journalist, working in Europe covering the Blitz. She feels that Americans are not aware of the what is really going on in Europe, so she is determined to see that the truth be told. Her reports are being followed, back in the US, in the town of Franklin, MA.

(BTW~~~~this is bugging me, so here is my rant.  Franklin, MA is a real town located in Norfolk County in Eastern, Massachusetts. It IS NOT part of Cape Cod). I know this book is a work of fiction, but if you choose to use an actual town, I think you should get the details correct). Whew...I feel better.

Emma Fitch is newly married to the town doctor. He leaves for Europe to care for the war injured and dying, but promises Emma that he will return in six months. While Will Fitch is away, he meets Frankie Bard. Back at home, Emma anxiously awaits for the daily radio reports about the war.

Iris James is the spinster, "Postmistress" in the town of Franklin.  When a letter arrives with foreboding news, Iris makes a decision about whether to deliver the letter or not. Without giving any spoilers, I'll just say that the lives of the three women become entwined, as the women search for understanding, and try to make sense of all that has transpired.

MY THOUGHTS - I was so anxious to listen to this audio book; the reader, Orlagh Cassidy, did an excellent job.  However, this book took me almost four weeks to finish. The story, to me seemed somewhat disjointed, and the characters were not well developed ~~ I wanted to know a lot more about these women. Ultimately, I thought that this story had the potential to be memorable, however, it left me feeling dissatisfied.

Did you read this book? What did you think?

RATING - 2.5/5 Stars - Library audio book

Sunday Salon ~ May 30, 2010

Hello Everyone!

I'm so excited to be enjoying a 3-day weekend for the memorial Day holiday, here in the U.S.  It's been (2) months working full-time, and I really love my academic library job. The people are so great and the environment can't be beat ~~ super friendly people and no pressure whatsoever!  Honestly, the toughest part of the job is getting up and getting going each morning :) This week we had a faculty/staff picnic and it was great fun, lots of events and prizes as well.

Yesterday, we met our friends Paul and Mary, also known as the "train people". We met them about 13 years ago on a train to Boston, and have been friends ever since.  We spent a fun afternoon over a late lunch, and non stop laughter.  Today we will bring flowers to the graves of my (2) brothers and parents, (always a sad day).  I then hope to spend the rest of the weekend at home, organizing all the books that I have acquired lately (that is a job in itself).  Sometimes being a book lover is a lot of work!

Speaking of books, I loved the way I felt like I was in control of my May reading. As some of you may recall I selected the books that I planned to read in May, and then updated my progress each week. (It's was like a monthly reading challenge for me ~~it was pretty successful as well). Here is a snapshot of my month.
(planned reading)

 MAY (Unplanned reading that just Happened)
  • Fast, Fresh and Green; Susie Middleton - 4/5
  • Slow Death By Rubber Duck - 5/5 
  • The Walk; Richard Paul Evans - 2/5
  • Let the Great World Spin; McCann (audio) - in progress
Do you have any special plans for today?  Have a great week!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

68 - Whiter Than Snow; Sandra Dallas

(audio book: Narrated by Ali Ahn)

Whiter Than Snow is a novel set in 1920 that begins with tragedy. An avalanche buries nine school children, in the fictional, mining town, of Swandyke, Colorado. Only four of the nine children survive this horrendous event. The five who died are the children of Dolly and Lucy Patch, and their story along with the stories of other family members of the victims are linked together by this tragedy.

Lucy and Dolly Patch are estranged sisters, and adult daughters of a miner. Joe Cobb, a black man who came to Colorado from Alabama after much tragedy. Essie Snowball, a Jewish prostitute originally from New York, who dreams of a better life. Minder Evans is part owner of the mine; Grace is the wife of the mine manager. Each of these individuals stories are told as they are drawn together at the scene of the tragedy.

MY THOUGHTS: The author did a great job digging deep into the recesses of each of the characters in this novel. The importance of family and community is stressed. Long standing grievances that once tore people apart, now seem insignificant as the survivors are brought together by this terrible unforeseen event.

I enjoyed this author's books in the past, and once again she has written a story that leaves the reader with something to think about --- things sometimes do happen for a reason, although it often takes us a while to figure that out. If you have not read this author, give her a try. I enjoyed the audio version, as the reader did a great job. Recommended

Rating - 4/5 stars - Library Book

Friday, May 28, 2010

67 - Slow Death By Rubber Duck; Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie

Slow Death By Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things

Toxic chemicals are everywhere, but just how harmful are some of the products many of us use on a daily basis?  Not sure you want to know??  You might want to skip this book and this review. The book is filled with interesting and easy to understand facts; it is addictive reading.

Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, environmental activists from Canada, deliberately exposed themselves to some of the chemicals many of us use. For one week, they inhaled, absorbed or ingested a variety of products, and closely monitored their exposure levels using blood and urine analysis; the results made me gasp! Some chemicals showed heavy exposure after just 2 days.

The authors point out that ther are roughly 82,000 chemicals in use in the United States, and each year some 700 new ones are added to the mix. Of these, only 650 are monitored, and even more shocking only (5) have been banned! Even asbestos, a known cancer causing agent, is not banned. Many cancers have been linked to chemical exposure. In 2009 there were 1.5 million new cancer cases expected,  and because our bodies "absorb like sponges", this all seems to make perfect sense.  It is also believed that many childhood epidemics are due to chemical exposure: asthma, ADHD, autism, and reproductive disorders. It is further believed that certain childhood exposures can lead to adult onset of neurological diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinson's Disease.

The author's chose (7) chemicals that most of us might likely be exposed to for their hands on research: 
  • radium - x-ray exposure
  • mercury - certain seafoods
  • PFCs - Teflon, key ingredient in coating some fry pans, some cosmetics, some clothing
  • phthalates and triclosans - smelly scents added to certain shampoos and conditioners, antibacterials soaps as well as other personal care products, have been linked to birth defects, reproductive issues and cancer. some of the brand names mentioned shocked me)
  • PCBs - flame retardants (Tris-Bp) used to treat some kids pajamas (thyroid issues)
  • BPAs (plastics, perfluorochemicals) - dump those plastics and especially those plastic baby bottles
  • DDT - pesticides (infants can be exposed through breast milk). Autism, ADHD, motor development impairment, reproductive defects and cancers
While it is not possible to completely avoid exposure to all chemicals, all the time, this book will help you to become better informed about the chemical dangers lurking close by.  Many of the products, would be easy to eliminate. The book also includes a quick reference type list of things individuals can do remove hazardous products from your lives. In case you'd like to become more of an environmental activist, there is other info about how to get involved.  I highly recommend this book; it's an eye-opener. If not for you, for the health of your children and grandchildren and the environment.
READ this BOOK - 5/5 Stars
(Library Book)

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading.
 Here are a few finds I discovered this week. Have you found any good books this week?

Starred Review. Pasulka's delightful debut braids together two tales of old and new Poland. The old is the fairy tale love story of the Pigeon, a young man so entranced by village beauty Anielica that he builds her family a house to prove his devotion. When war comes to Poland, the Pigeon works for the resistance, guarding the town and his Jewish sister-in-law with creativity and bravery. After the war, he and Anielica get engaged and the Pigeon brings his family to Kraków, but the fabled promises of the golden city and the glories of communism prove hollow. The new tale is about Anielica and the Pigeon's granddaughter, Beata, whose plainness has earned her the nickname Baba Yaga. Now living in a much-changed Kraków, Beata is a bar girl with no hopes of love or plans for the future. When tragedy strikes and Beata uncovers family secrets, she brings together the old and new to create her own bright future. Pasulka creates a world that's magical despite the absence of magical happenings, and where Poland's history is bound up in one family's story.

 By a Slow River; Phillippe Claudel

(amazon).... Nimbly translated, French former screenwriter Claudel's little gem of a debut novel is, in essence, a whodunit. On a frigid morning in December 1917, the body of a 10-year-old girl is discovered, strangled, on the banks of the "slow" river that slices through a small, unnamed French village. The townsfolk are stunned by the murder, though they're curiously oblivious to the seemingly endless slaughter taking place on the nearby Western front. Told by Dadais, a former policeman with a sharp memory and (it gradually becomes apparent) a shadowy history of his own, the story is a re-creation of his dogged pursuit of the killer. Was it the town's haughty prosecutor, Pierre-Ange Destinat? Was it the Breton deserter who confesses under duress? Could it possibly have been Dadais himself? The answer, like everything else in the story, is far from tidy—aside from its construction, that is. Psychologically complex, elegantly written and tightly plotted, this is far from your average policier.

(I saw this book at the library and it looks and sounds wonderful). Must get a copy for sitting on the deck and identifying local birds :)

(amazon)....Drawing from the collection of the world-renowned Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Songs presents the most notable North American birds—including the rediscovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker—in a stunning new format. Renowned bird biologist Les Beletsky provides a succinct description of each of the 250 birds profiled, with an emphasis on their distinctive songs. Lavish full-color illustrations accompany each account, while a sleek, built-in digital audio player holds 250 corresponding songs and calls. In his foreword, North American bird expert and distinguished natural historian Jon L. Dunn shares insights gained from a lifetime of passionate study. Complete with the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate information, Bird Songs is the first book to capture the enchantment of these beautiful birds in words, pictures, and song. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, located in Ithaca, New York, is a nonprofit institution focused on birds and whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research. The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab is the major source of sound recordings of birds for research, education, conservation, the media, and commercial products.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - (I Couldn't Decide)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

(Release Date 5/25/2010 - Farrar, Straus and Giroux )

(amazon).....A fireworks factory explodes in a quiet seaside town. In The House on Salt Hay Road, Clay Poole is thrilled by the hole it’s blown in everyday life. His older sister, Nancy, is more interested in the striking stranger who appears, dusted with ashes, in the explosion’s aftermath. The Pooles—taken in as orphans by their mother’s family—can’t yet know how the bonds of their makeshift household will be tested and frayed. As their aunt searches for signs from God and their uncle begins an offbeat courtship, they are pulled toward two greater cataclysms: the legendary hurricane of 1938 and the encroaching war.

The House on Salt Hay Road is suffused with a haunting sense of place: salt marshes in the summer, ice boats on the frozen Great South Bay, Fire Island at the height of a storm. A vivid and emotionally resonant debut, it captures the golden light of a vanished time, and the hold that home has on us long after we leave it.

Ape House; Sara Gruen
( Spiegel and Grau - 9/ 7/2010)

I loved Water for Elephants, and I am a big Chimp lover as well (isn't this guy cute)?

(amazon)....Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Now Gruen has moved from a circus elephant to family of bonobo apes. When the apes are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show calls into question our assumptions about these animals who share 99.4% of our DNA.

A devoted animal lover, Gruen has had a life-long fascination with human-ape discourse, and a particular interest in Bonobo apes, who share 99.4% of our DNA. She has studied linguistics and a system of lexigrams in order to communicate with apes, and is one of the few visitors who has been allowed access to the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, where the apes have come to love her. In bringing her experience and research to bear on this novel, she opens the animal world to us as few novelists have done.

Ape House is a riveting, funny, compassionate, and, finally, deeply moving new novel that secures Sara Gruen’s place as a master storyteller who allows us to see ourselves as we never have before.

 What's Your Pick This Week?

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia @ The Printed Page.  Join in the fun and check out what arrived in everyone's mailboxes last week by visiting Marcia's blog.

I'm so Happy. I want to read ALL of these! 

Sunday Salon - May 23, 2010

This has been a very busy weekend and I was not sure I'd find time for a Salon Salon post, but I thought better something short, then nothing at all.  My hub is in PA for the weekend to see the Phillies/Boston Red Sox games with his son and a friend. Who is he rooting for? Hub lived in Phillie most of his life, and has only been a New Englander for the last 14 years. Try as I might,  I have not been able to fully convert him to the Boston Red Sox (disappointing this year, even for me), but they are his #2 favorite baseball team...LOL.  Football for him is the Philadelphia Eagles, with the NE Patriots being his #2 team.

I've had a great weekend. I got to spend some one on one time with my son yesterday, and that was great. I love catching up. He is an awesome son, who has made his mother proud.  Today is one on one time with my daughter, she is also "awesome". Both  are caring, compassionate and sensitive. I got lucky, and am thankful for both of them.

So how do many mothers and daughters and daughters like spending their free time???

Outlet Malls--here we come!!!

I know some women hate shopping, but not the two of us. Shopping, not just for books, has always been something we have enjoyed. Hope to find, at the very least, some great summer shoes today.

Book Talk

Finished: Reviews Needed
  • Slow Death By Rubber Duck (N/F) amazing book - 5/5
  • Whiter Than Snow; Sandra Dallas (audio) - 4/5
MAY  (planned reading)
 MAY (Unplanned reading that just Happened)
  • Fast, Fresh and Green; Susie Middleton - 4/5
  • Slow Death By Rubber Duck - 5/5 (review needed)
Do you have any special plans for today?  If not just relax and enjoy the pleasures of the day.
Have fun at BEA this week if you are planning on attending. I don't get any time off yet with just (2) months at the new job, but I will be thinking of you all with envy, and will be looking forward to lots of photosHave a great week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading.
 Here are a few finds I discovered this week. Have you read any of these?

Bombay Time; Thrity Umrigar
(I love books that take place in India, and this author is one of my favorites. I read and loved (3) of her novels, and I hope to get to read this one soon as well).

(amazon)....The middle-class denizens of a Bombay apartment complex come to life in Umrigar's engaging debut, which tells the story of a half-dozen protagonists through the prism of a wedding hosted by respected lawyer Jimmy Kanga. Kanga's rise to glory is just one of several intriguing subplots. The novel begins with the story of Rusi and Coomi Bilimoria, a couple whose marriage becomes frayed when Rusi's business plans don't match his expectations and Coomi's mother-in-law turns out to be a live-in nightmare. Other interesting yarns include that of Dosamai, a bright young woman who, after her parents force her to marry down to ensure the future of her sisters, eventually turns into the local gossip. The neighborhood drunk, Adi Patel, also has a tale to tell involving a tragic interlude with the daughter of a laborer that effectively ruins his life, and the widow Tehmi Engineer takes an analogous road to ruin when her handsome husband, Cyrus, is killed in an explosion at a chemical plant. Umrigar is an accomplished, natural storyteller who remains an optimistic narrator despite all her grim plot twists, though she never softens the impact of the various tragedies on her characters. She also manages to work in a portrait of the decline of Bombay, delivering an impressive debut offering a glimpse into a cultural world especially that of the Parsis, an ethnic minority that most Westerners know only in its barest outlines.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing; Calvani and Edwards
(amazon)......Are you passionate about books? Do you have the desire to share your thoughts about a book with readers, yet are unsure about what makes a good review? Are you curious about the influence reviews have on readers, booksellers, and librarians? If you're an experienced reviewer, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will serve as an excellent reference tool and amalgam of resources. If you're a beginner, this book will show you how to write a well-written, honest, objective and professional book review. It will also teach you:
How to read critically.
How to differentiate the various types of reviews.
How to rate books.
How to prevent amateurish mistakes.
How to deal with the ethics and legalities of reviewing.
How to tell the difference between a review, a book report, and a critique.
How to start your own review site.
How to publish your reviews on dozens of sites and even make money while you're at it, and much more.

If you're an author, publisher, publicist, bookseller, librarian, or reader, this book will also bring to light the importance and influence of book reviews within a wider spectrum.

  The World in Half; Cristina Henriquez
(amazon)..... In suburban Chicago, young, unsure Miraflores finds herself caught between finishing college and caring for her mother, who has developed premature Alzheimer's disease. While tending to her mother, Mira uncovers a startling secret regarding her Panamanian father, long a forbidden topic; Mira had been told that he abandoned them prior to her birth, but there seems to be more to the story. To find him, and hopefully some perspective, Mira takes an extended vacation to Panama where he remains a citizen. There, Mira makes friends with elderly doorman Hernán and his young relative Danilo and,with their help, pursues every possible lead to her father. While Mira's quest for identity and family stability unfolds, the friendship between her and Danilo deepens, and soon she finds herself with feelings for the energetic, handsome, occasionally abrasive young man. A closely observed tale of relationships with some astute parallels between human interaction and subterranean geology, Henríquez's novel also benefits from a strong sense of place and plotting.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

66 - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; Aimee Bender

From the title alone, I was thinking, "what could be sad about lemon cake, it's a favorite here". What if when you ate lemon cake, or any food for that matter, you could "taste" the emotions of the person who made it?  Such is the case for little Rose Edelstein on the evening of her ninth birthday.

When Rose takes a bite of her mother's lemon cake with fudge frosting, Rose tastes sadness and despair. For Rose, this is not an isolated incident. She struggles to find foods that do not make her feel "hollow" inside. Baked foods are the worst, based on the mood of the person that baked them. Packaged foods seem to have less of an effect on her.

There is one incident where after Rose takes a bite of something prepared by her mother, she becomes hysterical from the bad taste in her mouth. She is rushed to the emergency room by her mother, and the scene she causes was, for me, laugh out loud funny. Rose's mother is not the only family member who has emotional issues. In fact, the entire family is pretty dysfunctional, and each is dealing with their own emptiness and emotional pain. Rose loves her brother Joseph, and she longs to be close to him, but he is a loner who has problems of his own. The father is detached, and in his own little world, and the mother is unhappy and has secrets of her own. There is even mention of a grandmother who never visits, lives alone, is somewhat gruff, and a grandfather who could read people by their smell.

This novel is actually kind of hard to classify, but it is very very good. The story is both funny and tragic. Rose is an excellent narrator, who seems much wiser than her years. The magical realism used by the author was very clever and, the writing style kept me engaged and anxiously turning pages to see what would happen next. If you are a fan of Sarah Addison Allen's novels, I think you will love this book as well. 
RECOMMENDED - 4/5 stars (Review Copy)

Waiting on Wednesday - Leaving Rock Harbor; Rebecca Chase

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:
Leaving Rock Harbor; Rebecca Chase
(Scribner - June 1, 2010)

(amazon)....An unforgettable coming-of-age story and a luminous portrayal of a dramatic era of American history, Rebecca Chace’s Leaving Rock Harbor takes readers into the heart of a New England mill town in the early twentieth century.

On the eve of World War I, fourteen-year-old Frankie Ross and her parents leave their simple life in Poughkeepsie to seek a new beginning in the booming city of Rock Harbor, Massachusetts. Frankie’s father finds work in a bustling cotton mill, but erupting labor strikes threaten to dismantle the town’s socioeconomic structure. Frankie soon befriends two charismatic young men—Winslow Curtis, privileged son of the town’s most powerful politician, and Joe Barros, a Portuguese mill worker who becomes a union organizer—forming a tender yet bittersweet love triangle that will have an impact on all three throughout their lives. Inspired in part by Chace’s family history, Frankie’s journey to adulthood takes us through the First World War and into the Jazz Age, followed by the Great Depression—from rags to riches and back again. Her life parallels the evolution of the mill town itself, and the lost promise of a boomtown that everyone thought would last forever.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

65 - Perfect Reader; Maggie Pouncey

Perfect Reader; Maggie Pouncey

In this terrific debut novel, Flora Dempsey is the only child of a former college president and literary critic. As a little girl, Flora idolized her father, but when her parents divorced, her feelings towards him changed. Now she is off living working in the big city. When Flora learns that her father has died, she is shocked. She impulsively quits her job, and she decides to move back to her childhood New England home, in the fictional town of Darwin (which I suspect is the college town of Amherst, MA).

The story flashes from past to present as Flora tries to reconcile her unhappy past and her relationship with her now decreased father. As she begins the process of sorting through her father's possessions, buried memories resurface. She realizes that she had never accepted her parents divorce some twenty years earlier. Each memory, each piece of paper, love poems discovered, and other literary works she sifts through reopens old wounds, and leads to stunning revelations for Flora.

I liked this debut novel, but Flora Dempsey is not a character that all readers will be able to relate to. She is flawed. Well educated, she has led a life of privilege, yet she is miserable and self-absorbed. Despite this, I was able to see where Flora was coming from, and as I read more and more, I actually cheered her on a bit. She was a lonely woman, coming to terms with the loss of a parent. A very introspective sort of novel,  Perfect Reader is a well written debut novel, about love, loss and acceptance.

RECOMMENDED- 4/5 stars - Review Copy

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia @ The Printed Page.  Join in the fun and check out what arrived in everyone's mailboxes last week by visiting Marcia's blog.

 This week's (by mail) arrivals were:
I'm looking forward to all of these. How about you? Share your book loot with us please!

64 - Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things; Frost and Steketee

I'm a "tosser" not a "hoarder", but ever since I read about the highly publicized Collyer brothers, and began watching the television series, Hoarders, I've been interested in learning more about the subject.

What triggers someone to become a hoarder? When does collecting, become hoarding? In STUFF: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Randy Frost and Gail Steketee, share their expertise on the subject. They were the first psychologists to specialize in hoarding behavior. Having spent many years working with hundreds individuals suffering with this often puzzling psychological disorder, that effects nearly six million individuals. Using various case studies spanning years of field work, and drawing upon various case studies, the reader is able to gain more insight about hoarders.

Some theorists believe that some individuals with social anxiety disorders tend to form attachments to objects instead of people. It can begin as early as childhood, but often fully materializes in adulthood. Some of the tendencies of hoarders include: compulsive buying or acquiring of items, including free things; saving and never tossing anything, and no organization to the accumulated "stuff". I found it interesting to learn that hoarding tendencies are more prevalent in individuals who suffer from depression, impulse control disorders (compulsive spenders), autism, obsessive compulsive disorders(OCD), and attention deficit (ADHD) disorders. Many people who have hoarding issues cannot deal with the thought of anything being wasted or tossed. Most objects that they keep have vivid memories attached to them for the hoarder. For a non hoarder, hearing about these memories might be perceived as insignificant or downright silly. Hoarders truly fear for the loss of these memories if they no longer possessed the object.

Another area of hoarding discussed, that is even less understood, involves animal hoarders. "Most animal hoarders experienced neglectful, abusive, and/or chaotic childhood in which rules were absent or hopelessly inconsistent".

While this book is very informative and well written, I found it to be more of a resource/reference guide, for those that want to learn more about this disorder, or to help others with who have this problem. If you are interested in learning more about "hoarders", then this book might be a good place for you to begin.
RECOMMENDED  - 4/5 stars (Review Copy)

Sunday Salon - May 16, 2010

Hey there book lovers, how was your week?  I finally think were are headed for some more normal weather here.  It was so cold a few days last week, we had the gas fireplace and/or the heat on again to take the chill out.  Yesterday and today has changed that with sunny skies and low 70 degree weather.  I planted some more flowers yesterday and have (2) hydrangeas and some (2) pots of lavender color, bearded irises to plant today. Here are a couple of photos of what some of the new plants look like:

The hub accompanied me to (2) book sales even though he is not much of a reader.  He did pick up a few music cds and a book on the long standing Boston Red Sox/ New York Yankees rivalry so he was pretty happy.   I on the other hand was very happy with my finds; I could have picked more, but I was trying to be more selective. All hardcovers were $1.00 each and trade soft covers and paperbacks were 50 cents (same prices at both sales). So here is what I came home with for $14.50 (22 books):

In case you can't quite make out some of the titles and are curious, the titles/authors are:
  1. A Good Man is Hard to Find; Flannery O'Connor
  2. Out; Natsu Kirino
  3. Cheaper Than Therapy: The Healing and Life Lessons of Fiber; Modesitt
  4. Until I Find You; John Irving
  5. Bluebeard's Egg: Stories; Margaret Atwood
  6. The Professor and the Madman; Simon Winchester
  7. Netherland; Joseph O'Neill
  8. The Robber Bride; Margaret Atwood
  9. The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto; Mario Vargas Llosa
  10. The Bellini Madonna; Elizabeth Lowery
  11. The Turtle Catcher; Nicole Helget
  12. Millroy the Magician; Paul Theroux
  13. Blinding Light; Paul Theroux
  14. The Mermaid's Singing; Lisa Carey
  15. Land of the Commonwealth: A Portrait of Conserved Landscapes of Massachusetts; Cheek
  16. The Glassblower of Murano; Marina Fiorato
  17. The March; Geraldine Brooks
  18. The Princess of Burundi; Kjell Eriksson
  19. The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admission Process of a Premier College; Steinberg
  20. City of God; E.L. Doctorow
  21. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; Winterson
  22. The Lay of the Land; Richard Ford
Have you read any of these? If so, which were favorites?

MAY  (planned reading)
 MAY (Unplanned reading that just Happened)
  • Fast, Fresh and Green; Susie Middleton - 4/5
This focused/planned reading I started for May is actually working pretty well. It is like my own personal monthly reading challenge of books "I want to read", not "books I have to Read".

Do you have any special plans for today?  If not just relax and enjoy the pleasures of the day.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    63 - Tinkers; Paul Harding

    I am not really sure how I feel about a book that has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, is only 191 pages long, but took me almost (2) weeks to finish it.  Such was the case for Paul Harding's prize winner: Tinkers.

    I thought this novel it was a combination of beautiful and flowery writing, with a boring memory based story.  For me, no matter how great the writing is, if the story doesn't work, it is tough to finish the book.

    Briefly, Tinkers, is a story of three generations of New England men. We learn about them basically through the memories of a dying man.  George Washington Crosby spent his days repairing clocks, but now as he lies confines to his hospital deathbed, surrounded by clocks, dying of cancer and renal failure. He has nothing but "time" to reflect on the past.  As George prepares to be joined once again with his father Howard, who predeceased him, he reflects on what he remembers of his father's life. Howard was a Tinker, who traveled door to door selling his wares, up and down the coast of Maine.  His life was one of poverty, and, in addition,  he suffered from epilepsy. Since little was understood about epilepsy in the early 19th century, his wife thought he was mentally ill. When Howard learned that his wife was planning to have him institutionalized, he decided to abandon his family.  (Yes, there is a little more, but blah, blah, blah).

    As a New Englander, I loved the imagery of the 19th century New England landscape. I thought the cover art was perfect for this cold, bleak novel set in Maine. The story line, or lack of a working plot just did not work for me. I thought the metaphor of time and life, just tick, tick, ticking away was, in my opinion, enough to depress even the most cheerful readers.  Had it not been that this book had won the Pulitzer Prize, I think I might have abandoned it early on.  I think this is one of those books that lovers of literary fiction will need to try for themselves and decide.

    Rating (a generous) - 3/5 stars - Library Book