Monday, December 19, 2011

reading rainbow

The following are book reviews. I realize that while reading is as necessary for me as the air I breathe,  this does not make me qualified to or even the least bit capable of writing a serious book review. These are just a few of poorly written thoughts about a few greatly written books. Consider these more book opinions than book reviews. 

I loves me a good book. But for quite a while I was stuck in the quicksand of literary mediocrity. 

I read pretty much anything and pretty much everywhere. I will go to pick up a child and arrive 1/2 hour early just to sit alone for uninterrupted reading time.  I read cereal boxes, ads for stores I never shop in, and even the millions of notes sent home by well-meaning yet misguided first year teachers. I AM that weird. I will be reading several books at any given time. 

So, yeah,  for a while I was reading lot of 'meh' books. I read them cuz I gotta have something to read but I was just passing time; waiting for 'that' book to come along. And then...and some miraculous miracle I happened to read several good books in a row. Yippity Skippity. Only you who are of my same ilk understand what I mean. A good book is the pot at the end of the rainbow. It's a book you savor. That you can't wait to get back to. A book that you can't stop thinking about when you aren't reading it. You develop an intense emotional attachment. You need that book. You can't keep your hands off that book. And when you are finished reading that book you are left feeling empty and alone. 

It's remarkably a lot like love.

And once you are finished with a good book, you want another.

That sounds a lot like an addiction. But let's not go there.

So, if you care about my opinion...and why the heck you would I have no are some thoughts I have about some books I have recently read. My usual pithy review of a book consists of "I love it" or "I hate it", so don't expect much.  I figure that if I tell a tiny bit about the book and you really want an in depth description you can check them out on Amazon or Goodreads. Are we good? Good. 

Haha. Me? Pithy? I feel this intense need to add the words bloody hell right about now. I do not know why. 

Let me point out the obvious first. Something I didn't notice until I made the list of books. All of these book's titles begin with THE.

Important? NO.

Now, in no particular order: 

1. The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver. Okay, I will read anything by Ms. Kingsolver, so I am somewhat prejudiced in my review. She is brilliant with the written word. So, I picked up, no, downloaded onto my Kindle, (cue chorus of angels), "The Lacuna" without knowing anything about it other than it was written by Ms. Kingsolver.

I was not disappointed. This book weaves fiction with real life events before WWII. "The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities".* What I found interesting for myself was that it wasn't the main character who I really cared about; it wasn't him that I empathized with the most. I tell you what, after reading this book,  I will never put much stock in "fair and unbiased news reports" again. Not that I ever really did in the first place. I consider this a must read for some-especially if you are a Barbara Kingsolver fan. 

2. The Help - Kathryn Stockett. If you haven't heard of this book than you've been blogging too much. No, even then you will have noticed it out there. (A curious trend I have noticed on Amazon is that 9 times out of 10, "The Help" was purchased along with any other book I was checking on. Which is why I am sure a high percentage of you have already read "The Help").

It could have been trite. It wasn't. It could have been syrupy and sappy. It wasn't. It could have left you wanting for more. It didn't. Unless you count never wanting it to end. The characters were so real and raw. Nobody was perfect. The story was captivating and interesting. And remarkably for me was that it didn't fall into the "if everyone else loves it I will automatically hate it" category. I say this book is a must read for everyone. 

3. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County-Tiffany Baker. What a gem of a book. And I'm not just saying that because it was given to me by someone who seems to know my soul without ever having met me in person.

There are so many interesting facets to this book I don't know where to begin. This would be a fabulous book club choice; so many issues to discuss. (Much like the previous 2 books). 

"Truly Plaice [don't you just love that name?], an overly large and ungainly girl...finds her the reckoning with her demons...and the possibility of love...".* 

Truly a must read for most.

4. The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins. This is one of those books I could have easily hated. I'm not into the futuristic genre. It falls into the 'everybody's reading it' category. The characters are a bit one-dimensional. It's predictable. (I'm really selling this book, aren't I?)

Yet much to the surprise of some people close to me and even to myself, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next 2 books in the series.

The story involves a 16 year old protagonist, (Katniss-what a great name), who makes a decision and becomes involved in a futuristic reality television show, which involves killing your opponents in order to win. (A reality show which isn't really all that difficult to imagine at the rate things in our real world are going). 

A must read? Could be. A light read? Definitely-but it does fall under the category of YA fiction; so I will cut it some slack on its 'lightness'.

5. The Road-Cormac McCarthy  Yet another futuristic, yet infinitely more dark and sobering, book. A boy and his dad are traveling across North America after some sort of apocalyptic event has occurred. This author has a very sparse writing style- which lends itself to its subject. I started this book and could not put it down. It is mesmerizing in a hold your breath, what's going to happen next, sort of way. To be honest, when I finished the book I was less than impressed than I thought I would be while I was reading it. And if that isn't confusing, well, then, I don't know what is.

A must read for some. 

6. The Mysterious Benedict Society-Trenton Lee Stuart, Carson Ellis, Illustrator. This is the first book of what is currently a children's 3 book series. I picked this book up at a locally owned independent bookstore, (and aren't we lucky there are still a few of those around?), at the recommendation of a clerk. The "4 children-two girls and two boys are selected to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete".*  I've been reading it to lil dub...we shall probably finish it up tonight and I must say it is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read aloud to a child. lil dub remarked that he thinks he might like these books better than the H.P. series. *gasp* He can't wait to finish this one up and get going on the next one. I feel the same.

And now I am on the hunt for the next round of books to read as an escape from reality. (Something a therapist told me I do-read to escape reality. Clearly this is a man who reads psychology books and doesn't enjoy the pleasure of good fiction).

Any suggestions? I have a few ideas...but I'd love to hear yours. I want to load up the kindle before we leave for our Mexico Vacation next week. Woot WOOT. 

*descriptions from Goodreads.


  1. You should try reading . . . hey. . . wait a second. . . Mexico?

  2. You're a writer? Crool shoes. Me, too (kinda, sorta). I know for a fact, however, you gotta whole lotta intelligence behind those two ears, girl; thus, I wanna give you my finite existence: to intrinsically value the Great Beyond which I’ve learned to appreciate, to visualize the fundamental reality of infinity is why I‘m here for a teeny-weeny amount of time. Looky here...

    Precisely why I had our ‘philanthropic + epiphany’ (=so much to give + vision): wanna see a perfectly cognizant, fully-spectacular, Son-ripened-Heaven?? … yet, I’m not sure if we're on the same page if you saw what I saw. Greetings, earthling. Because I was an actual NDE on the outskirts of the Great Beyond at 15 yet wasn’t allowed in, lemme share with you what I actually know Seventh-Heaven’s Big-Bang’s gonna be like: meet this advanced, bombastic, ex-mortal Upstairs for the most juvenile-lip-service, extra-groovy, secret-sauce-paradox, pleasure-beyond-measure, Ultra-Yummy-Reality-Addiction in the Great Beyond for a BIG-ol, kick-some-ass, party-hardy, robust-N-risqué-passion you DO NOT wanna miss the sink-your-teeth-in-the-smmmokin’-hot-deal enveloping, engulfing our catch-22-excitotoxins. Cya soon, girl…