Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turn The Page ... Tuesday

I've been holding out. I read a ton of books this summer; but I only have shared a few. I'm gonna come clean. I'm going to start 2010 with a blank slate. Here are all the books that I have managed to plow through (or not) this summer ... some good, some great, some not so great.

Let's get started shall we? Short and sweet reviews and in no particular order ...

Light on Snow

Another Anita Shreve book - have I ever said how much I love her books? Well, just in case, I l.o.v.e. her books. This is another great read - one of those that you are unsure of where you are going but you don't want to get off the ride. A recent widower is struggling to raise his 'tween' daughter after a tragic accident that took the life of his wife (her mother) and 1 year old daughter. The life they settle into (after uprooting and becoming a recluse much to the daughters dismay) becomes painfully dull and predictable; that is until their usual walk in the woods provides a surprise they both could have lived with out. After contacting the authorities another surprise comes knocking at their door. The struggle for what is right and what is wrong, teaching / learning hard life lessons, and taping into emotional baggage that you thought was locked away for good makes this Shreve book one worth tracking down.

The Outermost House

I tried. I just couldn't. I had stumbled upon this book in DH's Virginia magazine. It peaked my curiosity. Henry Beston wrote about his year that he spent living in 'the outermost house' on Cape Cod in the mid 1920's. Call me crazy but this fascinated me. Having spent my entire life inland I haven't a clue about the ocean (other than I like to wiggle my toes in the sand and salt water burns when it gets into your eyes) made this a challenging read. If you have some knowledge of The Cape or of coastal living then this book might intrigue you. If you are a foothills gal like me and have a limited imagination (due to brain clutter) you might want to just skip it!

In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms

My neighbor gave me this book when Henry turned 5. She is also a stay at home mom of a 2 year old and we often talk and share stories while the boys play. I hesitate to say that I'm not a Dr. Laura fan, not for fear of offending someone but more out of lack of a better statement. I certainly wasn't going to tell my neighbor that I thought Dr. Laura was a bit harsh at times. Her gesture was so sweet and from the heart ... I wasn't going to rip hers out and stomp on it! So I decided to read the book. I liked it. Not because she was was tooting her own horn but much of what she had to say rang true to me. I am fortunate enough that right now I can be at home with my boys. I am so grateful for that gift and much of what she had to say was just that. It is a gift that you give yourself and to your family. To everything there is a season ...

Shem Creek

I'd have to say this is a great beach read. Very easy to get get lost in this 'low country' tale that begins in NJ with a single mom trying to raise her two teenage daughters. Mama has had enough and pulls up roots to return to her childhood home of South Carolina. Not only does she move south but there is plenty of comedy/action that goes south. This is one of those mindless (not mind numbing) read that leads you through the growing pains of not just the girls but of mom and a few key main characters. I liked it.

Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow

Boy did I want this to be a good one. I love history and after reading the back covered I was hooked ... that is until I began reading. It reads as a history text not a historic novel. Bummer. The book is about Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore tumultuous love story. Heartbreaking really. I was hoping that this book would have read more like Loving Frank but alas it didn't. I had to put it down only a few chapters in.

All But My Life

Gerda Weissmann Klein has been added to my list of 'women who are amazing'. This is her story of survival; of sheer willpower to overcome despite the odds stacked against her. Mrs. Klein is a concentration camp survivor who was willing to reopen wounds to share her story with the world. Her story of hope. When I don't want to clean, I often think of her and the conditions she had to endure (even before she was sent to a camp). When I can't figure out what to make for dinner, her weight at her liberation crosses my mind. When I get frustrated at my boys for ... whatever ... her longing for her brother and parents and wondering of what became of them makes me settle down and give thanks. Get some hankies ready - it's a misty eyed read for sure.

It amazes me how focused some people can become. How driven. How determined. Despite the effects (no matter how ill they may be) are on others; especially those closest to them. Barbara Kingsolver's book takes you on a journey to Africa with a family of missionaries prepared (so they they thought) to save the continent. One soul at a time. Little did they know what they were truly getting into. To make matters worse the father has a primitive grasp at best for the native language and is often feeding into the villagers superstitions by using incorrect words or even pronunciations of words to describe God and his Grace. Sadly, preacher man neglects those that truly need him most, not the 'unsaved' but his wife and 4 daughters. Tragedy prevails throughout. There are a few glimmers of happiness and hope but they are usually peppered with such irony that you struggle to feel relief that at least they got 'a break'. In the end I was disappointed how she closed the book. I'm a wrap it up nice and neat - feel good kinda gal. I can't say I walked away from this book feeling, well, relaxed. I was more blown away by what became of each of their lives. This book was heavy for me. Read at your own risk!


Well, goodness gracious. I don't know the last time I've read a book quite like this. I think I'm becoming a prude in my old age ;-) The main character, who of coarse is beautiful, has a high maintenance lifestyle. Convertibles, NYC apartment, swanky vacations ... she also has plenty of attractive, wealthy, and soon to be dead men (unbenounced to them) who finance it for her. You can just use your imagination to figure out how she entices them; however, at some point you know she's gonna mess up ... it's just a matter of when (and how many more she is gonna knock off). I do have to admit that I was surprised by the ending. Despite all the ... ahem ... action, I liked how James Patterson finished the job.

The River King

Hmmm ... It was disturbing but yet I wanted to finish it. I wanted to know what happened. I wanted some redemption, punishment, reward to those who deserved it. Think egos, agendas, narcissism (and that's just the teenagers). Think tragedy that lives on decades beyond those who suffered. Think teenage angst that that turns deadly. Think love misguided and abused. This book was set in New England at a co-ed boarding school and will leave you haunted.

I !loved! this book. Did you get that? I !loved! it. Seriously. Have you read it? I know it's been out ~forever~ but it just took me a while to get to it. This book took me back to the days when I worked in a nursing home as a social worker. I was always interested in what shaped our residents lives. Who they loved, what they had lost, gained and how the did it, and what they just couldn't stand along the way. This book is the story of Jacob; who he was, who he loved, what he lost, and how he eventually found his way. If you haven't read it, do - I don't think you will be disappointed.

Four women. Four stories. Four individual heart aches shared by all. This book has been compared to Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I say it's better. More Kleenex please. That's all I can say. It's a good one.

You still here? I know this has been a doozy of a post. Just hang tight for a few more words (or a lot). Now I'm sure your reading time is going to be cramped because of all the other wonderful things you will be doing during December. I know mine will be. I'll be slaving away at my sewing machine (or maybe not ... this might end up being an Etsy year). At any rate - I'd like to challenge you to still post in January for TTPT - even if you don't have a book to review. I plan on posting about some books that I have recently acquired through this great web site Better World Books (Thanks Debi for sharing!). I found a few of the books that were TTPT reviews that my library didn't have for practically nothing; and even better than a bargain ... for each book purchased they donate to help fight world illiteracy. So, think about what you want to read, maybe it's a TTPT feature ... tell us about it. I'd love to hear.

Still here? Good. Follow the links below for more TTPT fun:


~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

Seriously Adrienne -- you must have had your nose buried in books all summer! They sound good, I'll add them to my list. Thanks for sharing.
-- Jodi

Jill said...

I also loved, loved, loved, LOVED Water for Elephants. I recommend it to everyone I know. :) Haven't read the others but want to now.

Will post my TTPT ASAP... busy day ahead.

Thanks for hosting this great project!
- Jill

Ruth said...

Wow~what a book list. I will definitely be trying some of the books you suggested. Only more time to read is what I'm short on.

I posted on my blog for TTPT.


luci said...

I loved Light on snow... but I read it during the winter months! It made me cry, but it was a great book. Water for elephants sounds great and I am adding it to my must read list. I have poisonwood bible on my shelf waiting... I found you through ruth's bog farm girl in my heart:-)maybe I can join you for a ttpt sometime?

luci said...

thanks adrienne
I would love to join TTPT
I have written a wee blogpost about a lovely book, you might like on my blog, just now!

Debi said...

We like a lot of the same books... loved Water for Elephants and love Anita Shreve! I posted my reads on my blog. Again, thanks for hosting this... it's fun and I add to my list of "want to reads" every month!

Stacey's Treasures said...

I just posted my turn the page Tuesday.
It sounds like you did some serious reading this summer.
I would like to read "All But My Life" & "Water for Elephants"

Paula said...

You've got some good one's on the list, a few I've read, a few I'm meaning to, a couple I've never heard of and even one on my shelf waiting to be read. Water For Elephants. Now you've made me want to bump it up to next!

It is still Tuesday and my post is finally up. Still have errands to run yet this evening so will be popping over to check out the other TTPT reads when I get back.

Jill said...

I'm back (finally)! My TTP...T is up and ready for review. :)

Thanks, again.
- Jill

Paige said...

OMG, girl! Thank you so much for sharing what you thought of all those books - gonna go back now and link-them-up to my Amazon wish list. I have an Anita Shreve in my stack of books just waiting to be read. Soon, soon!