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message 1: by Carrie (last edited Jun 25, 2013 07:26AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments My goal for 2013 is to read 50 books, which is 10 more than I read in 2012. I'll edit this post to reflect each new book I read, but I will give each book its own entry below, which will include a review. Happy reading!

1. Read 1/6/13, Five Stars: Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
2. Read 1/10/13, Four Stars: The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood
3. Read 1/16/13, Three Stars: The Stranger, by Albert Camus
4. Read 1/31/13, Two Stars: Dear American Airlines, by Jonathan Miles
5. Read 2/24/13, Two Stars: The Twelfth Child, by Bette Lee Crosby
6. Read 3/25/13, Three Stars: My Mother Was Nuts, by Penny Marshall
7. Read 4/27/13, Five Stars: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan
8. Read 5/8/13, Three Stars: To Have and Have Not, by Ernest Hemingway
9. Read 5/19/13, Three Stars: In Our Time, by Ernest Hemingway
10. Read 5/25/13, Four Stars: French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters, by Karen Le Billon
11. Read May 30, 2013, Four StarsLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
12. Read June 2, 2013, Four Stars Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris
13. Read June 10, 2013, Four Stars, Nicholas Nickleby, by Charles Dickens
14. Read June 15, 2013, Five Stars,
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
15. Read June 20, 2013, Three Stars, If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation, by Janine Latus


message 2: by Carrie (last edited Jan 10, 2013 07:09AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Read 1/6/13
*****
Zora Neale Hurston
** spoiler alert ** This was a great way to start out my reading list for 2013. I've read excerpts from Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf States, and have always meant to read more Hurston. That feeling was re-energized reading Their Eyes Were Watching God.

The book centers on Janie Woods, a black woman in Florida after the Civil War. It is her voice Hurston uses to tell the story, which was largely influenced by a relationship in Hurston's own life, wherein there was a (relatively) large age gap, and intense passion.

Janie is married off by her grandmother at age sixteen to an older man, Logan Killicks, who treats her like a worker. She runs off from this man with another man, Joe Sparks, who wants to be integral in the establishment of an all-black city, modeled after Hurston's hometown of Eatonville, Florida. Sparks is successful, becoming the town's mayor, postmaster, and town store owner. Janie is treated as another accomplishment of her husband's, and is never allowed to fully participate in her life. Her stature as mayor's wife disallows her from participating in "commonfolk" behavior, like that which takes place on the store's front porch. But, her husband's self-perceived superiority of Janie also prevents her from enjoying her role as mayor's wife. When Joe dies after roughly twenty years of marriage, Janie doesn't grieve, but begins to appreciate her delayed freedom.

Tea Cake enters her store and life. He is a younger, less sophisticated and educated man than Joe. But, he awakens the happiness in Janie's soul, and she begins to live life and enjoy it. Through a series of catastrophes, including a hurricane, Janie and Tea Cake's relationship ends, and Janie is left finally grieving, and rejoicing in the fact she has felt something strong enough to want to grieve it.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book: "Thank yuh, ma'am, but d
on't say you'se ole. You'se uh lil girl baby all de time. God made it so you spent yo' old age first wid somebody else, and saved up yo' young girl days to spend wid me."

I love how Tea Cake constantly reassure's Janie that, although she is beautiful to him, it is only a bonus to his genuine affection and emotional connection to her. "Tain't no trouble tuh say whut's already so. You'se uh pretty woman outside uh bein' nice."

"No hour is ever eternity, but it has its right to weep. Janie held his head tightly to her breast and wept and thanked him wordlessly for giving her the chance for loving service."

Ugh. I cried so much at that passage. She has been a widow before, technically. In this sentence, it is clear that this is the first time she's emotionally been widowed.

"Of course he wasn't dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see."


Finally, Janie can be at peace, having truly lived and loved.


message 3: by Carrie (last edited Jan 10, 2013 07:08AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Read: 1/10/13
****

** spoiler alert ** I listened to a BBC dramatization of this book, rather than actually reading the book itself. It does feel a bit like cheating, so I plan to read the actual text, as well, as soon as I get it from the waitlist at the library.

The basic synopsis is that this is a speculative fiction novel set in post-1986 United States, after a political coup has turned the country into one of extreme Christian fundamentalism. Many women have been made sterile due to exposure to Agent Orange, and the birth rate has declined sharply. To combat that, handmaids are assigned to married couples wherein the wife is unable to conceive. Handmaids are healthy, fertile women, whose entire purpose in society is to bear children on behalf of the wives (ala Bilhah and Rachael in the Bible).

The story is told frome the perspective of Offred, who is the handmaid to Fred and Serena Joy. She had a name in the "old world," as well as a husband and a child, but they were separated when trying to escape.

The story then unfolds to reveal the injusitices committed against women in general, and in particular handmaids. The feminist in me was raging listening to some of the conversations, including those between Offred and her then-husband Luke at the beginning of the coup. When women are restricted from handling money, or reading, he doesn't seem nearly as concerned as Offred does, offering to her instead his protection. That was one of the most frustrating scenes to me. Imagining my husband and myself in that situation, I'd want to strangle him if that were his reaction.

I was frustrated that there was no resolution at the end of the novel. We are left to assume nothing about Offred, only that she survived long enough to record her tale on cassette tape, and that some unidentifiable generation after hers was able to listen to it. We don't know if she was reunited with her husband and child, though, I tend to assume not. And, I'm sure that's intentional on Atwood's part. This book is not one meant to make the reader feel settled and comfortable at its conclusion, but is designed to make one feel uncomfortable with religious fanatacism.

On a sidenote, I read one description of the book which included the word "funny." I can't imagine what aspect of the book that person felt was funny, but to each her own, I guess.


message 4: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments The Stranger by Albert Camus
Read: 1/16/13
***

This book reminds me of Hemingway. The short, declarative sentences. The absence of flowery prose. The author's allowing the action to dictate the flow of the story, rather than dialogue. And, I love Hemingway, but I didn't love this book. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, and read it fairly quickly, but I never found myself connecting with the protagonist, Meursault. Perhaps that was Camus' intention, since Meursault never really connects with himself. Over and over again, he reiterates the fact that he often allows his physical needs and desires to take priority over his emotional needs. In fact, I'm not sure he ever indicates having any emotional needs. He's very logical about all things in his life, whether it be something as simple as deciding whether or not to take a promotion at work, or something as complex as how to feel about his mother's death.

Even during his trial, wherein it would be decided if he lived or died, he seemed disconnected, and even bored during the proceedings. He doesn't place any value or faith in God, because he doesn't believe in God. When he is eventually sentenced to die, he continuously rejects the chaplain's visits and attempts to convert him.

I think what I struggle with is what the purpose of this book is. Is Camus saying that life has no meaning except which we ascribe to it? For example, Meursault's guilt really had nothing to do with who "won" the trial, but instead it was decided by the most skilled lawyer. Meursault discusses in one passage that there isn't much difference between his impending death, and the death that would be inevitable 20 years from then, if he were to win his appeal. Thus, his appeal is meaningless, because everyone dies.

I can get on board with this concept - everything is nothing, except which we make it. We're all different, but exactly the same. But, one has to find pleasure somewhere, doesn't one? Where does Meursault find pleasure? He desires Marie, but that's just physical. She repeatedly asks if he loves her and he's ambivalent to the idea. When she stops writing to him, he thinks it may be because she's dead, and he finds that there was nothing between them that could sustain beyond death.

He never seems to feel any passion. Even when he kills the Arab, he does so most because he was hot, and blames it on the sun. If it were a few degrees cooler, he wouldn't be a killer, not that he cares much if he is one or isn't.

Maybe these questions make this book brilliant. It's possible. Certainly, I've thought more about these few pages than I have about some other, much longer books I've read. But, ultimately, I feel like I need to learn something, or take something away from each book I read in order for it to be a four star or above book, and I just can't put my finger on what that would be for The Stranger.

So, three stars it is. Or isn't. Really, what does it matter, Meursault?


message 5: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles
Read: 1/31/13
**

I listened to this book on CD. It never really grabbed me. It's the story of a man who is delayed en route from NYC to LA to attend his estranged daughter's wedding. What starts as a complaint letter to American Airlines regarding the delay turns into a lengthy autobiography through which we discover the details surrounding his failed relationship with his daughter's mother, his questionable upbringing by a schizophrenic mother, his alcoholism, and his absence from his daughter's upbringing.

The narrator is a poet, and that is crammed down the reader's throat with unnecessarily effusive language throughout the entire book. It's written using metaphor after flowery metaphor, and gets nauseating after a while. Not to mention the fact that this guy is wholly unlikeable. Ultimately, I felt a little sorry for him, but it was way too little, way too late. Would not recommend this book. The way it got two stars was by making me laugh out loud in a few parts.


message 6: by Jack (new)

Jack (jack_) Ooh, that sounds good.


message 7: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Jack wrote: "Ooh, that sounds good."

If you mean Dear American Airlines, then no, it definitely was not good. I would feel guilty if you read it based on my review. LOL.


message 8: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby
Read 2/24/13
**

*Spoiler Alert*
This was a book that I borrowed from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library. The problem with the lending library the selection is so spotty. I rely on the description of the book and the reviews, and this time I feel I was duped.

The story is about Abigail Anne Lannigan, who was raised on a farm by her mysogonistic father, escaped to Virginia just prior to the start of the Great Depression, and how she made her way in the city. A sort of "That Girl" story set during the 30's. The author (Bette Lee Crosby) alternates between telling the story from Lannigan's posthumous first-person perspective and third person omniscient. She also jumps through time between the 30's and present time.

I thought the story was very predictable, which made it feel very slow to me. At the same time, I thought there were areas where she could have expounded on things, but she didn't. For example, the entire love story between Abigail and John Langley was so slow. It was very apparent by clues earlier in the novel that this was a sad story, and once it began, it quickly became clear specifically why it was sad. So, that part dragged, but the potentially interesting aspects of Abigail's life, such as her life as an unmarried career woman in the 1940's through the 1980's.

The other plot line was the story of Destiny Fairchild, who becomes Abigail Anne's caretaker during the last years of her life, and the legal process of probating the will. Just, not interesting to me at all. And also the love story between Destiny and Charles was so predictable. But, I would have found a more detailed story about the parallels between Destiny and Abigail Anne's experiences as unmarried, single women caring for themselves without help of a family.

Didn't care for this one really at all. Kindle Owner's Lending Library, you let me down again.


message 9: by Khush (new)

Khush Bakht (anom-y) | 24 comments Interesting thoughts on The Stranger & The Handmaid's Tale. I'm detecting that Meursault's ambivalent, almost cold, character is unrelatable to you & therein lies your dissatisfaction with Camus' desire to write about such a character; an understandable reaction. I think it stands as a great portrayal of a "killer" for its candid treatment of the subject matter. I found his overall lack of empathy compelling since it's so far removed from the norm. It's a subtle kind of monster and those are some of my favourites it seems.
Looking forward to reading your other reviews. :)


message 10: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall
Read 3/25/13
***

I read this book because it was a free Kindle book. (Seriously, when will I ever learn that the Kindle Owners Lending Library is *not* a good resource for new books? Probably never. I'm too frugal to waste one aspect of my Prime membership.)But, I was attracted to this book because I find autobiographies interesting, and I like Penny Marshall's movies.

Penny Marshall has really led an interesting life, and I enjoyed discovering how it has intersected with so many other talented people's lives, such as Marvin Hamlish, Rob Reiner, River Phoenix's mom, Art Garfunkel, Carrie Fisher, John Belushi, etc. The book was a little heavy on the name-dropping, but given that's the reason I picked it up in the first place, I couldn't complain.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters describing her childhood and her crazy family. Like when she and her siblings were all at summer camp and her mother would write one original letter and send photocopies of it to the others. Or the time her grandfather died when she was at summer camp and her family didn't tell her because they didn't want to ruin her summer. Makes me feel like my family is more normal that it probably is.

I also enjoyed the chapters she dedicated to each of her movies. I always like the "behind the scenes" trivia from movies, and this book was great about that. I found it particularly interesting to hear her take on "Riding in Cars with Boys." I thought Drew Barrymore was terrible in it, and I have always wondered how she gets the parts she does. Well, now I know that it's because some studio executive calls up the director and forces them to use her, then allows her to run the show, despite the fact that she has no talent.

But, the book could have been much better. I kept asking myself throughout why Marshall felt compelled to write this. She showed little emotion during any part of it, which, in part, is just her personality. However, I came away from it feeling like she needed to write this stuff down because she felt like she was going to forget it soon. It was that blandly written.

Then I got to one of the last chapters and discovered she'd recently been diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor and lung cancer. Then I understood why she wrote it. She truly did want to get this on paper before it was too late. I wonder if she rushed through the writing. I think if she would have taken time to flesh out a few of the anecdotes and to tell us how she really felt about some things (like her abortion of Art Garfunkel's baby, the fact that her daughter was raised by her first husband's family for a large part of her life, the emotions she felt when Cindy Williams left Laverne and Shirley in such a weird way, how she felt when she and Rob Reiner fell out of love, etc.), then it could have gotten more stars.


message 11: by Carrie (last edited Mar 26, 2013 05:54AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Khush wrote: "Interesting thoughts on The Stranger & The Handmaid's Tale. I'm detecting that Meursault's ambivalent, almost cold, character is unrelatable to you & therein lies your dissatisfaction with Camus' d..."

You got it. It really is that ambivalence, not so much his cold nature, that got to me. Nothing inspired any sense of emotion in Meursault, and I got the sense that nothing ever had. As I said in my review, the style reminds me of Hemingway in that it's absent of the flowery, effusive language. However, even in Hemingway's most desolate characters, I've always been able to catch a glimpse of passion. I missed that in this book.


message 12: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments In Defense of Food An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Read 4/27/13
*****

This book is one that will be on my "Recommended" list from here on out. If you haven't read this book, and have any interest whatsoever in your health, I think it should be the next book you pick up.

Pollan starts the book with his "Eater's Manifesto," which is simply "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It's a very simple and clear directive, but then he spends the rest of the book providing the science and evidence needed to support his manifesto. He takes the reader through the history of nutrition in the United States, touches on the political aspect of the FDA recommended daily allowances, bashes the nutritionism and food science industries' negative impacts on American Health, and direct correlates all of those things with the rise of what he calls the Western diseases (Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease).

From there, he provides the reader with simple rules to follow in order to eat more clean, organic, and less processed foods. He also discusses the health benefits one can expect if one follows those rules.

This is one book that I can say has truly impacted my life. My family and I have, in the past few months, tried to focus on eating more healthfully, simply because we wanted to feel better. Reading this book underscored that commitment to healthier eating, and provided scientific evidence that supports what our insticts have been telling us to do.


message 13: by Carrie (last edited May 09, 2013 09:12AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

Read 5/8/13
***
I am a Hemingway fan, but am not sure I would be if this were the first novel of his I were to have read. I don't think there's much about this book that would inspire me to read his others. I found the beginning to be very good - the description of Harry Morgan's plight and how he got into running contraband was relatable, vivid, and emotional (well, Hemingway's version of emotional, that is.)

But, toward the second half of the book, Hemingway starts introducing new characters and storylines that don't seem to go anywhere. I found Harry to be overall a pretty unsympathetic character. The mantra throughout the book seemed to be that he was just an honest man forced to do dishonest things in order to survive, but I did not find his actions to be those of an honest man.

Some of the new characters Hemingway introduces include Mr. and Mrs. Gordon. A writer and his wife. The scene where she breaks up with him after he has an affair was gorgeously written. I cried throughout that scene, even though I didn't feel particularly connected to the characters prior to that. But, then the characters sort of disappear into the nothingness that this book becomes. No resolution ever is presented. Just sadness.

Also, I know Hemingway was generally a misogynist, both in his novels and personal life, but I think that characteristic is most prevalent in this novel compared to his others. That was difficult for me to get past. The women in this book are mostly weak, dumb, ugly, lazy, and treated horribly. There seemed to be no reason for the ugly treatment of all women in this book.

All in all, I would not recommend this book to anyone who had never read Hemingway before. If you're interested in reading one of his pieces for the first time, please start with The Sun Also Rises.


message 14: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
Read 5/19/13
***

If you've ever seen the movie "Silver Linings Playbook," you can probably recall the scene where Bradley Cooper's character finishes A Farewell to Arms and flings it out his window, then proceeds to wake his parents up at 4 a.m. and rant about how Hemingway never ends his stories positively and how he feels he is owed an apology by him. If you've seen that, then you kind of know how I have been feeling about Hemingway lately.

I am/used to be a big fan. I loved A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, and The Old Man and the Sea. I mean *loved* those books. So, I've been trying to work my way through all of Hemingway's works. But, the more I get through (first To Have and Have Not and now this one), the more I find myself really disliking his work.

If the entire book were as good as the first short story with the Indian woman delivering her baby, then maybe we'd have something to work with. But, the rest of the book was nearly incoherant to me. There were moments of Hemingway's brilliance, like in his starkly described character portraits, like the one of the prize fighter with brain damage. Or, his heartbreaking love stories told with little emotion, but evoking much, like the story of the soldier who heads home after the war only to receive a dear John letter from his true love.

But, those moments were few and far between. I need a plot, and this one just didn't have one. I have A Moveable Feast on my list for later this year, but I think I need to take a break from Hemingway before I read it, lest I end up flinging it out the window . . .


message 15: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments French Kids Eat Everything How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon
Read 5/25/13
****

I read this book because I struggle with getting my kids to eat healthy foods, and one thing I learned from In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto is that if you follow a traditional cultural diet, you're less likely to suffer from one of the "Western" diseases (i.e., cancer, diabetes, heart disease). So, I thought this would be a nice marriage of the two ideas: 1) How to get my kids to eat healthier foods and 2) learn more about the traditional French diet. I would say that it hit both of those points.

The more I learned about the French approach to food education, the more I appreciate it. In a nutshell, the French believe that, along with other educational fundamentals like reading and writing, it is the responsibility of adults to educate children regarding what and how to eat properly and healthfully. This concept is quite different from that of the United States, where food education is sparse, at best, and the healthiest, most unprocessed foods are available only to those with the most money. Because of that, social stratification remains a constant, often unsurmountable obstacle for the American poor. Through the French approach, meaning "making food education mandatory, the government ensures that healthy diets would not be restricted to the elite."

Though I appreciate the French approach to food education, I acknowledge that it won't become the American approach any time soon, which leads to the main issue I have with the author's advice. It simply isn't achievable in the most pure French sense in the United States. We haven't built our business models, social structures, nor economy around food, and because of that, our food will always be "faster" than French food.

That said, there are many of the rules the author provides that readers can adapt, and apply when possible in order to vastly improve their kids' diets. The first one is: Adults are in charge of food education. My children have so many obstacles in their way of a healthy diet, including pervasiveness of fast food culture, public school cafeterias, parties/social events at others' houses, candy and junk food at every extracurricular activity, etc. Because of that, it's imperative that my husband and I not only model a healthy diet, but also that we explain why such a diet is important for them. Rather than bribing them to eat healthy foods or sneaking healthy foods into their meals without their knowledge, we need to empower them to make healthy choices for themselves. A few of the other rules support this concept, including Kids eat what adults eat, Parents schedule meals and menus, and Eat family meals together.

The other two rules I think are very important to take away from this book are: No Snacking and Eat Mostly Real Food. No snacking is important because the underlying concept behind it is that it's ok to feel hungry between meals. We live in such an instant gratification society that it's incomprehensible to the average American parent to leave the house without a myriad of snack choices available should their little one show even the slightest inkling of the munchies. Rather than encourage them to wait until the next meal, we're much more inclined to stuff them full of any and all available calories, which often leads to a limited appetite at meal times, when healthier choices are typically available.

The natural extension to this rule is Eat Mostly Real Food. If we fill our kids up with healthy, sustaining foods that we prepare ourselves, they're less likely to have fluctuating blood sugar levels, will feel less hungry, and will be less susceptible to the snack monster.

In addition to those rules which I think all American families could benefit from considering, I enjoyed Le Billon's memoir regarding her year in France. It sounds like it was a wonderful adventure for her family, and I enjoyed reading about it.


message 16: by Carrie (last edited Jun 03, 2013 07:41PM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
Read 5/30/13
****

David Sedaris is someone I would love to meet. I think that often when I read his books. But, I've never known exactly what I'd say to him. After this book, I know. In one of his essays, he talks about the random questions he likes to ask readers he meets during his book tours. One of the questions was something along the lines of "what would you do if you saw a leprechaun?" It reminds me of a conversation my husband and I had when my oldest child was three or four days old. I was holding her, watching her sleep, when it occurred to me that it would be so odd if she sat up and talked to me. Or even worse, what if she just sat up and walked away. I asked my husband what he'd do if that happened - what if our daughter, at four days old, sat up and said something like "Hello, Father, it's nice to meet you," and then she scurried down the hallway. He gave some normal response like, "Oh, I'd be so proud that she is so advance, etc." My reaction was simple: I'd kick her across the room. Any four day old baby who can talk in complete sentences, not to mention walk upright on two legs is clearly nothing but a Chucky-esque demon, and the only appropriate course of action would be to kick her across the room, run screaming from the house, and never come back. I'd like to know what David Sedaris would do in similar circumstances. My hunch tells me he'd side with me and kick the baby.


Aside from giving me fodder for our future conversation, this book was similar to other Sedaris essay collections. One of my favorites was "Laugh, Kookaburra." I thought it brought all the traditional Sedaris humor, but along with it a bit of melancholy as he recalled a memory about his father's corporal punishments from his childhood.

I also enjoyed "Standing By," in which he discusses questionable interactions he's had over the years in airports. I loved this part: "We're forever blaming the airline industry for turning us into monsters: it's the fault of the ticket agents, the baggage handlers, the slowpokes at the newsstands and the fast-food restaurants. But what if this is who we truly are, and the airport's just a forum that allows us to be our real selves, not just hateful, but gloriously so?"


I didn't particularly care for the "Forensics" pieces he wrote specifically for students who participate in such activities, but I think that's not because they weren't well-written, but only that they didn't seem as genuine as his essays are. It's probably the same reason I didn't enjoy Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. It was a fine book, but I get the sense that Sedaris has volumes of essays left to write, and I'd rather he focus all his energy on those.


message 17: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse, #13) by Charlaine Harris
Read 6/2/13
****

I'm not going to lie; I love the Sookie Stackhouse books. They're silly, fun, quick reads, and I'm sad that Harris has finished the series, because I'll miss reading about Sookie and company.

SPOILER ALERTS

I know there are those who are frustrated and disappointed that Sookie and Eric didn't end up together. But, how could they have? Unless Eric turned her, which she wouldn't have wanted, they couldn't have truly shared a life or an existence, I guess, in Eric's case. I share in the disappointment that the conclusion to their relationship wasn't more theatrical and romantic, but that's really my only concern with the book.

I enjoyed immersing myself yet again on Bon Temps and in the characters that Harris has so vividly drawn over the past several years. Sookie again gets herself shot, abducted, and this time arrested for murder, but what else would we expect from our heroine?

She ends up, sort of, with Sam, which seems natural to me. She and Sam are in the same place in many ways and could really have a happy life together. I can't figure out why people would be disappointed by that.

All in all, I enjoyed the last installment of this series, and will probably enjoy re-reading it at some point.


message 18: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Read 6/10/13
****

I listened to the BBC production of this novel. (I highly recommend the BBC audio books series. I've listened to quite a few of them, and each one has been really entertaining.)I've never read Dickens before, but obviously know the plot of his more famous novels, so I thought I'd start with one about which I knew nothing. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was a very stereotypical plot for the time period (women dependent upon men for money, poor vs. rich, etc.) and the characters were pretty stereotypical too. That said, the plot kept me interested with clever and really funny dialogue, and a few twists that I didn't anticipate.

I'll definitely be reading more Dickens, since based on the reviews, this is one of his least-favored novels. Sounds like it will only get better!


message 19: by Carrie (last edited Jun 25, 2013 07:30AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Read 6/15/13
*****

Finally, Hemingway has redeemed himself! I enjoyed this book quite a bit. (Although, I had apparently read it before, because I recognized my handwriting in the margins, but didn't recall many of the stories.) I know this was met with criticism because of his unflattering portaits of many of his contemporaries, particularly F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. But, I enjoyed reading his "fictional" perspective of the Lost Generation, having read many non-fiction accounts of the same time period.

The one adjective I would use to describe this book is: regretful. Although I think Hemingway enjoys reliving his glory days, everything is tinted with a hint of sadness. As if he was disappointed in his behavior, his treatment of others (especially his wife), his inability to live in the moment. I found myself tearing up when he recalled his first wife Hadley, and reminisced about their life together. I wonder what she thought of this book.

All in all, I enjoyed it, but think it's very indicative of the state of mind he must have been in when he committed suicide.


message 20: by Carrie (last edited Jun 25, 2013 07:30AM) (new)

Carrie (carrie_s) | 130 comments If I Am Missing or Dead A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation by Janine Latus
Read 6/20/13
***

It feels weird to say I liked this book. It was such a sad and infuriating story, that there didn't feel like much one could like about it. But, I did like it. I liked that it gave me insight as to what type of upbringing would result in two seemingly intelligent and capable women like the author and her sister thinking it's acceptable to settle for physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive men as their partners in lives. What does it take for one to think the very best they deserve in a mate is one who belittles them on a good day, breaks their nose on a bad day, and strangles them to death with speaker wire on the very worst day?

Well, for the Latus women, it takes a horrible father and a permissive mother. The Latus father treated all the women in his life as sex objects, even his daughters, who he lusted after, touched inappropriately, and made inappropriate comments to. On one hand, he made them into capable women by insisting they learn to change their own tires and demanding excellent, not just good, grades. But on the other hand, his comments to them on a daily basis, including important days like weddings and graduations, were nearly always about how sexy they were, or fat, or ugly. Although their mother eventually leaves and divorces him, I believe she is to blame for the girls' malfunctions as well, because she allowed herself and them to be treated so poorly.

It's no wonder that Janine Latus allowed herself to be married to someone who made her life one in which she felt like she was constantly walking through an emotional, rage-filled field of landmines. Or that her sister Amy settled for a drunken abusive husband, then a drunken con-man boyfriend who eventually murders her.

The redeeming value of this book is not in the trip through hell the reader takes with the author. It's in understanding what hell looks like, so you can recognize it if you're in it, and teach your children how to avoid it.


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