Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Turn The Page ... Tuesday

From The Shelf TBR 
Not that long ago I had read a book that had been sitting on my shelf for a bit by Elizabeth Berg that was fairly light and enjoyable - Durable Goods. Little did I know when I picked up True To Form that I had selected the sequel. I'm so glad that I picked the books up in the proper order. Too bad I didn't realize they went together (and that there is another book in the middle of these two Joy School - I could have read it last year for Series & Sequels ~ oh well; looks like I have another book to add to my list! This too proved to be a book that was pleasant and didn't require too much of your brain/attention to follow the plot. Oh how I enjoy Elizabeth Berg's writing. No gore. No scenes that make you blush and worried who might be reading over your shoulder. Just good old fashioned human struggle with life, love, and where do you fit in. True To Form is a coming of age story that will most likely (despite your era of youth) will take you back to those early teen years and hopefully put a smile on your face.
From Amazon:
"Katie Nash -- the beloved heroine of Elizabeth Berg's previous novels Durable Goods and Joy School -- is thirteen years old in 1961, and she's facing a summer full of conflict. Her father has enlisted her in two care-taking jobs -- baby-sitting for the rambunctious Wexler boys and, equally challenging, looking after Mrs. Randolph, her elderly, bedridden neighbor. To make matters worse, Katie has been forcibly inducted into the "loser" Girl Scout troop, compliments of her only new friend Cynthia's controlling mother. Her only saving grace is a trip to her childhood hometown in Texas, to visit her best friend Cherylanne. But people and places change -- and Cherylanne is no exception. When an act of betrayal leaves Katie wondering just what friends are really for, she learns to rely on the only one left she can trust: herself. Full of the joys, anguish, and innocence of American adolescence, True to Form is a story sure to make readers remember and reflect on their own moments of discovery and self-definition."

On The Kindle TBR
March of 2011. That's how long  Leota's Garden has been taking up memory on my Kindle. Amazon had offered it for free so I snatched it up - one of those one day only deals I believe - and promptly forgot all about it. This is a long book (over 400 pages) and times the internal dialogue that the characters had with themselves drove me a bit batty. I loved the premise of the book and the spiritual discovery or rediscovery (for some) that the characters had. Rivers wove prayers throughout her book that I often has sent up myself "Please Lord help me keep my mouth shut. No good will come of what I have to say. Help me change my attitude ... and theirs too. Amen" ... or something like that ;-) You will fall in love with Leota. Times were different and the sacrifices that she made to keep her family almost tore them apart completely. This is a book of discovery, surrender, and healing. Overall the spirit of the book - God is in control - sit back and let Him steer - makes for a good clean read.
From Amazon:

"Acclaimed Christian fiction writer Francine Rivers's (The Atonement Child) Leota's Garden uses the image of the garden as a metaphor for the cycles of life that the characters experience. While the story revolves around a number of lives, they are all connected through Leota--an 84-year-old grandmother--and her garden, which was once a place of beauty and hope but has in recent years gone to ruin. Beginning in desolation--Leota has been neglected by her self-centered daughter, whose obsession with getting her own daughter into the best college has driven them apart--the novel slowly shows the weaving together of lives in the mysterious ways of grace: a proud and narrow-minded college student ends up learning more from Leota than he'd bargained for, and the granddaughter Leota had never been allowed to know shows up looking for some answers, and even more, looking for Leota herself. A garden blooms, the novel suggests, by getting one's hands a little dirty doing the hard work of love. --Doug Thorpe "

Book vs Movie
My book club read Follow the River this fall. For some it was a reread from high school or college but for me, embarrassingly, it was my first. I say embarrassingly because this is a true story based on the life of Mary Draper Ingles. An incredible woman who survived an Indian raid on her homestead and managed to make her way back home on foot (1000 miles!!!) through the mountains. Again - why embarrassing for me to have just read it? Well, Mrs. Inlges just happened to have a dorm named after her at Radford University where I attended ... I'll just blame the lack of knowledge on my focus of my studies, not campus life (yea right).
~~ I ~ loved ~ this ~ book ~~
I would not have survived her ordeal. No way. She was one tough lady. Interestingly enough, she has descendants that still live in Radford, Virginia and her story has been orally passed down through the generations. There apparently is a written account that was recorded after her return that was dictated (she was most like illiterate but apparently had what was equivalent to a photographic memory - thus her ability to navigate her way home). If you haven't read this book just go ahead right now and add it to your list. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Southwest Virginia is one of the most beautiful parts of our state but the terrain is also pretty tough. The author (who was a U.S. Marine, a newspaper and magazine editor, and a member of the faculty at the Indiana University Journalism School) actually followed some(? I don't think all) of the trail that Mary Ingles traveled - and he said it was difficult. I don't think a man of his credentials would admit something was challenging unless it was basically impossible for the rest of us ;-) Just sayin'.
From Amazon:
"Mary Ingles was twenty-three, married, and pregnant, when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement, killed the men and women, then took her captive. For months, she lived with them, unbroken, until she escaped, and followed a thousand mile trail to freedom--an extraordinary story of a pioneer woman who risked her life to return to her people."
Ok - so enough blabbering on - I loved it. Go get it. You won't regret taking the time to read it. Oh - and when you are done. Tell someone else to read it.
Now for the movie ... all things considered the movie was good but you know ... many times (and it is the case here) - they are never as great as the book. They had to leave so much out. The experiences they had while traveling to the Indian camp and while in captivity for example. The book is also rich with conversations and antics between Mary and Gretel (she did have a Dutch companion that made the journey home with her - they met at one of the Indian camps who did not speak much English) that just couldn't be explored without turning it into a mini series. Hmmm ... now there's an idea HBO.
Watch it for the scenery but don't watch it for authenticity of the book.

Bonus Books
I'm struggling how to describe Greyhound. It was enjoyable despite the premise of the book (an 11 year old boy travels across the country alone on a Greyhound bus) and some frightening events that occur over his three day journey. I think I'll let Amazon take the reigns:
From Amazon:
"Ushered out from his Stockton, California home by his emotionally detached mother and her latest boyfriend, twelve-year-old Sebastien Ranes must fend for himself and travel two thousand miles across the country. He is on his way to live with his grandmother and sister in Pennsylvania. Along the way, he will learn that sometimes caring, guidance and understanding can come from some unlikely people. Marcus, a fellow bus passenger, is a man who has been neglected more by society than his family. As a young black ex-con, he is not the epitome of the person most would pick as a chaperone for their child's cross country trip. Yet rather than be held apart by their differences, Marcus and Sebastien are drawn together by the things that make us all alike. Along the way, he acts as both guide and protector, as Virgil was to Dante and Jim to Huck Finn. Imparting his own style of wisdom, he shows Sebastien that, despite the darker parts of the human condition, people can and do care for one another. This is a modern day journey not just from one house to another. This is a journey taken by a young boy into manhood, and by the reader into his world. Like every trip, there are many stops along the way. But this journey differs in the way young Sebastien arrives at his destination. Greyhound is the story of this journey."

You will read with your mouth hanging wide open in shock at times and your eyes will tear up at others. Another one to add to the list me thinks.

As a parent (and having a close friend who's husband is an assistant district attorney) Defending Jacob had my head spinning. How far would you go to protect/defend your child? How do you know if your child is telling the truth?
Jacob, a teenager is accused of a murder. His dad. Andy, is the assistant district attorney. Andy decides to defend Jacob. Laurie, the mom, has great maternal instincts that contradict her husband. Talk about family drama. One of the most frighting parts of this book for me(despite the fact that a child was murdered and possibly by another child) was how Jacob had access to the Internet and was able to outsmart his parents on different devices. In other words - banned from the laptop. No problem. I'll just use my iTouch. Goodness.
As I was reading my mind kept flashing back to Natalee Holloway who's life was taken too soon. Jacob and his father kept pulling to my mind her accused killer (and father who was a judge). I am not going to type his name because I do not want to pop up on any google searches associated with him.
This is definitely a heavy book but man is it a page turner. I must say Defending Jacob had one of the most shocking endings I've read in a long time. I didn't see it coming. I had no idea how this story was going to wrap up; and when it did this book stayed with me a bit. You couldn't help but mourn what happened and what could have been.
From Amazon:
"Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control."

So tell me ... where has your nose been?


Paula said...

You have been one busy reader! I took your advice and added "Follow the River" to my want list. I've heard a bit about Mary's story and really am interested to read the book.
Defending Jacob sounds really good but super heavy for a mom of a slightly rebellious teenage boy. I think I'll pass for now but keep my eye out for it in the future!

Sara said...

Wow, that Follow the River book looks seriously intriguing! Yet another one for the list! (And I just got around to posting my monthly book review today!)