– Paint It Black by Janet Fitch
– Firefly Dance by Sarah Addison Allen, Kathryn Magende, Augusta Trobaugh, Phyllis Schieber
– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
– Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
– Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
– Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
– Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
– And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
2013: (that I can remember) 🙂
– 11/22/63 by Stephen King
– Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
– The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
– The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
– You Take It From Here by Pamela Ribon
– Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
– Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
– The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
– Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran-Foer
– The Help by Kathryn Stockett
– The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
– Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
– Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
– The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
– Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman
– A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
– The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
– Bossypants by Tina Fey
– Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon
– The Round House by Louise Erdrich
– When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald (yes, that Molly Ringwald!)
These books are just since October. I didn’t keep track of what I was reading before then. I’ll try to be better in 2012!
– The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
– The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
– The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
– The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
– Local Girls by Alice Hoffman
– Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (again)
– The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
– How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward
– A Version of the Truth by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman
– Literacy and Longing in LA by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman
- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
- The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris
- Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
- In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
- Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb
- The Anthologist by Nicholas Baker
- Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: I picked this one up again in October to get into the Halloween vibe. I read it years ago and remembered loving it. Now that I’m older, I still loved it but had such different perspectives. For example, the main characters Rowan and Michael are 30 and 48 respectively. I used to think that was such a huge age difference and found it difficult to imagine a 48 year old being as sexy as he was described. Funny, right? I also found Rice’s writing heavy and sometimes clunky. But the history of the Mayfair witches is enchanting and rich. I was drawn in as ever, not to mention the details of the Garden District that renewed my desire to visit New Orleans someday. There are 2 more books in this trilogy but I’m good to stop here. I’ve read them before and the story goes in a strange direction. I’m satisfied with just the one story.
The Baker’s Apprentice by Judith Ryan Hendricks: This book is the sequel to “Bread Alone” which I read earlier this year or late last year. It was alright. Nothing ground-breaking or soul-touching. But a good story. She wound it around to a place where I was ready for more so I wonder if there’s a third book on the way that follows Wyn & Mac. I was annoyed with Wyn’s character a bit, but realized that she wrote her probably more like people she knew. I was more on the same wavelength as CM’s character about Mac’s extended traveling. Not a bad read. And if you like baking and bread, there’s plenty of details and a few recipes.
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker: So I don’t know if this has any bearing, but the only copy of this book I could find was the large print edition. Though I can appreciate the irony seeing as how this was a story of an abnormally large woman, it somehow made me read the book differently. It seemed as though I was reading a children’s book because of the size of the type. It skewed my perception of the story. I’m sure that sounds silly, but I don’t think I enjoyed the story as much as my fellow book-clubbers did for that reason. That said, it was a fine story. Truly, the protagonist & narrator, has this quality from birth of being over-sized. But the author never gives us a weight or a height, just uses the voice of Truly to offer comparisons, which worked well, if not being a little over-done at times. There were a couple instances when I didn’t feel that the author was consistent with Truly, but I think that was just my own perception of the narrative. The ladies in book club provided some other perspective that I could see. This book was my selection and I wished I’d loved it more, however, it was good story and well-written. Note to self: skip the large print editions.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling: Unbelievably great. Completely gripping and full of action, conflict and deep true emotion. I feel happy with how the author resolved this incredibly complex story and remained true to everything she had built up over the previous 6 stories. I finished this book in 5 days though it is very large. I just couldn’t put it down. I became quite attached to this world (with help from the movies), and will anxiously await the release of the last 2 installments of the film series. Long live Harry!
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: This book had been on my “current reads” list for a while. Because I had borrowed it from my sister (therefore no library due dates), I let this book be the “back-up” for when I didn’t have anything else to read. Don’t get me wrong, when I did pick it up, I found her writing engaging and entertaining. I was drawn to the writer for the situations that sent her on her journey. And now it will be a movie and so, between my last book club book and the next, I was more enticed to finish it out without interruption or other books to disrupt my reading. I really identified with a lot of the author’s dilemmas, and though our personalities are different (I am not that set on trying every single thing), I can appreciate her search and, frankly, long for the contentment she found.
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos: I really liked this book, something I’d found while searching through Powell’s online store as something to check out. I guess it could be categorized as “chick lit,” but the author delivers these wonderful women characters with depth and unique qualities and voices. She even does something amazing and makes you like one of them who you initially didn’t care for. Although I guessed correctly at one of the twists, I was still bought in and eager to see how the author resolved all of the conflicts. I was not disappointed. She wrote it beautifully and it all just seemed real to me. It also didn’t hurt that every time I picked up the book, the Steve Earle song, “You Belong to Me,” ran through my head.
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff: Yay! A book club book that everyone liked. Finally. Even though 2 members didn’t finish it yet, they were into and enjoying it. The other 2 and I had a private discussion about it. Based on the author’s own hometown (Cooperstown), this story describes Templeton. I don’t know much about James Fenimore Cooper (who Cooperstown was named for), but I was drawn to the parallels the author created between Cooper and the Temple clan, even including characters straight out of “The Last of the Mohicans” that play significant parts in the history of Templeton. There’s even the baseball hall of fame and ancestry around that in this wonderful tale that includes history, family, a little supernatural styling, loyalty, friendship, heroes, love and a fondness for the ‘hometown.’ I loved the main character and was intrigued by her relationships and her quest to uncover the mystery of her father. A great read, I could totally see this being turned into a movie.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon: If you like comic books and comic book history, then you should definitely read this one. If you’re interested in pre-WWII New York or Prague, read this book. I liked the three main characters, but man, this story was damn long and not that entertaining. We just finished discussing it at book club and it seemed that the author was just trying to impress people with his vocabulary. How this book won a Pulitzer, I’m not sure. I didn’t hate it, but it did take me nearly 6 weeks to read it; it just seemed like the story would never end. As I noted with another book clubber, there were certainly parts and pieces of the book that could be analyzed and discussed, we just didn’t really care that much.
Harry Potter and the Half -Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: I felt completely agitated while reading the last chapters of this book. With the movie coming out soon (can’t wait!) I will refrain from saying why in the off-chance that anyone reading this doesn’t know or doesn’t remember what happens. Now I’m more ready than ever to read the final installment of the series, but will wait until after I see the movie. I kind of don’t want to end this new relationship I have with these characters. Weird, right? I have so enjoyed reading the series in succession, and seeing the movies after reading the books. We’ll definitely see this one in the theater this summer. It’s a great story and I was shocked by some of the incidents and how she moved the story along. Awesome.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling: I must say I’m pretty hooked. As Harry gets older, he becomes more real in what he must handle and process. This story has Harry making some very crucial decisions, whether it be to start teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts to his classmates and to finding a way to the Ministry of Magic to rescue Sirius. I look forward to seeing this film and joining the visuals in my head to those imagined by the director.
Why Girls Are Weird by Pamela Ribon: I am an avid reader of this author’s blog, pamie.com, so it was slightly strange to read a fictionalized voice in a story about someone who writes a blog that becomes “famous” and her efforts to find her true identity and deal with the fans who read the blog. They say art imitates life, right. Or is it the other way around? In either case, it’s true in this book. I started reading pamie.com several years ago but don’t recall that she was writing a book, but in the author interview she referred to asking her pamie.com readers about specific entries that they wanted to see in the book. Crazy cyclical kind of stuff, right? She has another book, too, called “Why Moms are Weird” that I’ll probably check out down the road. I just like Pamie, so anything she does I’m on board with.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks: This one was a book club selection and I read it so quickly (4 days) that it didn’t even make the list above with an image of the cover. I really liked this book, found it quite fascinating. Each section providing forward motion even as the tale being told was going back in time. It was kind of like Da Vinci Code with all of its historical references and how that history informed the journey of the book and the people who handled it. In the book club, only two other people finished it so the discussion was not as broad as I had hoped, but I was disappointed to learn that some didn’t like the main character of Hanna. But I thought she was fine, a non-traditional kind of character. I read that movie rights have been purchased so maybe we’ll see it on the big screen in the next few years.
Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand: Here was a weird little tale. I was drawn to the book because the main character is portrayed as someone out of the NYC punk scene of the late 70s, an era I find very intriguing. But I didn’t love this character. She was flawed and made some weird decisions. The title is a reference to a photography term and there was lots of photography information in this book, which was cool. It wound into a strange tale about a serial killer and I always felt strangely detached, not quite sure that the author was making the point she was hoping to make, or that the symbolism totally worked. Another strange thing was the author photo on the book jacket looked like the way she described the main character so I just kept picturing the author in the story itself, which did not serve as a very good impression of her.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling: I plowed through this one when I discovered that I couldn’t renew it. I think I’m becoming slightly obsessed. This book serves as a real turning point in the series and for Harry as he participates in the Triwizard Tournament and has to deal with a horrific encounter that changes to much with relation to the overall story. I also like how, at the same time, Rowling invokes such beautiful morality lessons, about friendship and trust and loyalty. Looking forward to still more adventure!
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling: I’m so into these tales, and actually happy that I waited to read them until now. There’s not currently any “Pottermania” (though that might change when “Half-Blood Prince” comes out this summer) and I feel like I can appreciate them simply for the good storytelling and the vivid imagination of Rowling. I mean, come on, the dementors are terrifying creatures! She finds such clever ways to embroil Harry into such adventures, and as he gets older, she is also great at developing his character to deal with more mature situations and history. Looking forward to book 4.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire: Another great book from the mind of Maguire, reinventing the classic tale of Cinderella into a believable account of how it all really happened. Not one to shy away from modern conceits, this book also deals with stock fortunes and failures (sound familiar?), the road to ruin and the morsels of salvation that can be had. It’s also an exploration of beauty and charity, of betrayal and conspiracy. I don’t know, I just find his work very cool!
The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman: This book was selected for our book club and I really enjoyed it. I especially liked how every character was connected without blatantly knowing it. I liked the construct of starting in the present with two women (sisters) who you thought would be the main characters throughout the book. But then, it turns and you meet two other women (three actually) who, for me, were way more interesting characters, and much more central to the story. My favorite character is Frieda, with her poet’s soul and her utter devotion to a self-destructive boy who makes beautiful music. And of course, I enjoy some magic in my books, some fantastic nature of life and love, some supernatural motifs that serve to comfort or enlighten rather than frighten. And happily, most of the male characters in the book were also quite interesting and I find myself thinking about them even as much as the women in the story. I’ve not read any of Hoffman’s other (multitude of) books, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future. I did love the movie, “Practical Magic” that was made from one of her novels. She seems like the kind of writer I could rely on for a good story every time.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: Oh, I’m so glad I liked this book! I was not sure at first, given the subject matter revolved heavily around the circus. I’m not a big fan of the circus, the clowns in particular, but I’m not sure why I have an aversion to the whole big top experience, but I do. So, I was glad that my own personal taste did not come into judgement here. What a great story, and a great character in Jacob. And can I just tell you how happy I was that he stayed with Marlena? That they had the life together? There was a point when he’s in the present and mentions something about his wife and having kids and I had a moment where I thought, ‘oh, so this is just when he was young, but he moved on to another life at some point.’ But that wasn’t the case and I felt so good about that. They stayed together for many years and had kids and were happy. Aside from the ‘happy ending’, it was a great story with a lot of vivid description and great stories of the circus life in those times. The one thing that seemed off was August being labeled a paranoid schizophrenic. I suppose for that time, it was probably the most likely diagnosis to what now would probably be considered bi-polar. I also liked the ending quite a bit, I thought it was a good twist and yet it also seemed feasible. Hooray for a good story!
Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates: Damn, I did not love this book either. These book club choices have not been my favorites, and I’d had high expectations for this one. I mean Joyce Carol Oates, supposedly one of the best writers out there today. But, just, eh. My first gripe is with the punctuation. Why did she feel a need to put so many exclamation points? My next gripe is that what her characters thought and then what they said were often so contradictory that I just couldn’t fathom it. Next: What was it between Nikki and her sister? Were they close or not? Did they even like each other? Next: there’s no need for the author to repeatedly refer to Wally as the “married-man-lover.” He was properly introduced already and this usage seemed like such a waste of time and almost insulting to the reader, as if we wouldn’t know who she was talking about even thought it was clear that Nikki was only seeing him. Next: that whole dynamic in the first place and ultimately, the character of Nikki. I never did warm up to her much, even after she kind of pulled herself together and ended up with SPOILER ALERT the detective guy. Even that seemed completely conjured. I disliked the references to her “costumes” and how much guys checked her out. And the part where she nearly makes out with her brother-in-law (or more)? Who is this woman? I just couldn’t relate to her. She was unlike anyone I know. I probably liked Gwen the best, she seemed the most likable and certainly the one who seemed most herself, even after she’d died. Just like with the other books, I have a feeling I may be in the minority with this one at book club. Here’s hoping for a better pick!
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling: Another great adventure for Harry. I had no previous knowledge of this book and what it contained so I found it very easy to stay interested. I’m looking forward to seeing these movies when I’m done with the books!
Chocolat by Joanne Harris: Having loved the movie that was created based on this book, and having loved several of her other books, I had no doubt I would like this one. And I was right. I was intrigued, however, by the differences between the book and the movie. And I have to say, I still like them both very much. I could see why the changes were made for the movie, much more Hollywood style, but the book and her writing is so consuming. Even with the vision of who these characters were (from the movie), I was still able to envision new sides to them and even re-create them myself given the new and/or different information from the fiction. The book is definitely darker than the movie, but it’s done well. I guess I’ll just have to read even more of her stuff!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: Okay, I get it. Rowling’s imagination is extraordinary, and in Harry, she’s created a wonderful character who is subtly complex and downright likable. This one read pretty quickly, which I will assume the next couple will too. I’m already anxious for the next adventure.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards: I just finished this book today (3/3/09) and it was good one. I enjoyed the story, but more especially I liked the underlying theme of capturing time, of recording details, of noticing moments. Perhaps it was not her intention to have those elements be the prominent feature in the reader’s memory when the book was finished but that’s what’s in mine. To that end, I admired the writer’s penchant for creating and summoning the very details her characters were trying to focus on: the weather of the moment, the sounds, the colors, any movements or other usually unnoticed point in a person’s day. These elements helped to convey the drama swirling in each character’s hearts, and helped the reader to remember those moments as well when they are brought up in other scenes later in the book.
Edwards does a great job of making all of the principal characters very real people and I could easily create these people in my mind’s eye. She somehow made me like David Henry even with the rather horrifying and life-changing decision he makes at the beginning of the story. Norah comes to life in a different way and I’m glad she didn’t become the cliche that I first thought she’d be though there were other cliched elements to her character that were not ever really smoothed out. I feel for Paul, who suffers a lot because of what his father did, but his rebellion seems somewhat out of place. And some of the things he says and thinks, even as an adult, seem odd. What seemed more real is, with the gift of omniscience, how much the father and son cared for each other but just couldn’t quite bridge the gap. And Caroline, Phoebe, and Al, the ones who “benefited” from the decision. Caroline is a very believable character, though, and her dedication to Phoebe, while also struggling with the truth of how she came to be with her, is admirable. I would have liked to see Rosemary and Jack again somewhere, though I’m not sure where. She played such a pivotal role in David’s life that no one ever understood. All the same, I was caught up in the story and can see why this book was such a success.
Away by Amy Bloom: This latest book selected for book club was okay. I was into it at first, fascinated with the theater world the heroine, Lillian, found herself in in 1930s New York, fresh off the boat from Russia. I was still on board when she started her cross-country trek by train, being smuggled through in closets. Her adventures in Seattle with Gumdrop Brown were fine, albeit brief and I guess I wanted her to spend a little more time in the stops on her journey. The author then began to liberally employ the device of going on and telling the rest of the story of nearly every character after their encounter with Lillian. I like this and I didn’t. It was interesting to know what happened to them, perfect for fans of closure, but it all seemed too hurried. As if, before she could move on with Lillian, she had to let us know what happened to Gumdrop, to Chinky, to Gilpin and the rest. So it goes on and it’s during her walking trek north through Canada that I start to question this story. [After I finished the book, I did some ‘googling’, and found that this book was indirectly inspired by The Woman Who Walked to Russia, the true story of a woman named Lillian who walked from NYC to the Bering Strait. That might be a good one to poke around in.] I mean, for all the detail Bloom gives, she barely expresses the trauma and agony such a trek would involve. Lillian just arrives at John’s cabin, and yes, she describes her injuries so I’ll give her that, but the walking part seemed to be passed over. Anyway, even with that criticism, I was still mostly okay with the story. But then, that last paragraph? She lost me. The last paragraph is some strange cryptic riddle that I just didn’t get. Maybe it was just me, but wanted something a little more defined for me at the end. She could have ended the book at the second to last paragraph and I would have been satisfied with the story. Beyond that, I was disappointed that there was ultimately never any kind of connection made between her & Sophie. I understand that the odds of it were slim, but there could have been something.
Empire Falls by Richard Russo: I am so glad I read this book, and now I’d really like to see the movie. Having watched a few scenes from it (which I realize was at the beginning), I had some visual imagery to tie to the story which was nice. Russo created some really meaty characters, and the plot took a twist that I was not expecting at all. I wanted more when I came to the end. Not that I didn’t feel satisfied, but that I was so interested in finding out what else happens down the line for these people in this town. I liked how he took his time, and the flashback sections were a nice touch. I figured some things out before they were “revealed” in the book, but that was okay. The one twist I didn’t see coming was enough to make up for the others I did see. I’m happy when I’m never sure if I completely love the characters, when they are flawed and I can see their imperfections, but still feel a fondness for them, and can still question why they choose to do certain things. I’ll probably seek out more work from Russo to see if this style (just good old-fashioned storytelling) is in his other work.
Fencing the Sky by James Galvin: It took some effort to finish this book. While the characters were fairly interesting and the descriptions of landscape and scenery were well-written, his narrative style was to jump all over a timeline which ended up not really meaning much to me. The one thread that was easy to follow was the story of the main character’s ride west. The other sections skipped all over the place and didn’t serve to help me, as the reader, to follow their placement. Some of them were simply anecdotal while others helped to shape the lives of the characters though how it was done still seems haphazard. Mike’s life was the easiest to sift through and straighten out. Oscar seemed more a peripheral character, almost a clown in ways. I could never tell if Ad was a nice guy with a short temper or a hard-ass with only a couple of friends. Snipes was completely unlikable, as he was meant to be, but ultimately, still a fringe kind of character, as were the meth kids who vandalized Ad’s cabin. There was so much detail about them in one section of the book and then they never appeared in the story again. It was too much work to try to figure out when the vandalism occurred and then determine if the rest of Ad’s storylines were before or after. But the point was, it didn’t really matter anyway, so it was a rather tedious narrative tactic. The best part of the book were the sections about Mike and his thoughts during his ride. The memories of what had come before and what had brought him to that point on the edge of the Sinks. I was glad to come to the end and don’t have much connection to this book.
Run by Ann Patchett: I finished this book about a week ago and meant to write my review sooner, but unlike some other books, I am still thinking about the story in this one. Part of that may be because it’s the next book up for discussion for my book club so I’m trying to keep my perspectives close in order to call on them when we meet. One thing that has stuck with me is the choice of the title and the many meanings that word can have, and how it’s used in the story. There is the action of physically running, but you can also run for office, run out of time and run short of something. All of these themes are addressed in the story. My favorite character was Kenya. She was a well-developed, sympathetic character. I was also fascinated and a bit saddened by the story of Beverly/Tennessee and her friend, Tennessee Alice. SPOILER ALERT: I was sad that Kenya would never know that the woman she considered her mother actually wasn’t. Which led me to also question how Doyle, Sullivan, Teddy & Tip would all make note of how much Kenya looked like Teddy & Tip when, in fact, she wasn’t even related to them. I thought that was a small flaw in the story. There is a lot of loss in this story and yet, it still felt optimistic. Like the other Ann Patchett novel I read, she uses the last chapter to accelerate the time frame of the story and kind of wrap things up with each character without delving too far into how they got to those points. There was more to each character than in Bel Canto, but I still have a similar critique of the effect. It seems abrupt and left me feeling a little short-changed. But I will give her extreme credit for fully committing to her stories. They seem well-constructed for the most part and are very specific. For example, BC was a story about a central event and the characters were explored in really cool ways. With Run, she centers the story around this group of people and a life-changing incident that brings them together. The whole story (save that last chapter) takes place over the course of approximately 24 hours and Patchett manages to make this a full and satisfying story.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski: This book was our latest book club read for December ’08. And having just had our discussion, I re-realized what a complex and riveting story it is. I had finished the book about a week before our meeting so it wasn’t until I was able to talk about it with others that I could bounce my ideas off of them and hear what they interpreted about the story, the characters etc. I would call this story an epic though it really doesn’t cover a great span of time in succession, but it’s the scope of it, the realities that come to pass and that come to bear on each character. Having been influenced by the story of Hamlet, Edgar’s story borrows a lot of the same plot lines and characters. But my favorite part of the whole thing is Almondine, one of the dogs. Having grown up with dogs and done training with them, even as a child, it was so easy to understand the connection that embodies this tale. There were several parts where I cried just at the beauty of the writing of the connection between Edgar & Almondine. This author, in this, his first novel, is one to watch as his writing is lovely and rich.
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold: I was given this book for my birthday. I had heard of the author but hadn’t read anything by her before. This book was okay. Some of the scenes she creates are shocking and hard to imagine. The story itself was hard for me to relate to. She made some decisions that surprised me as a reader but I stuck with it. I still can’t decide if I liked the main character or not, or what I hope her fate will be. I guess in that sense, the writing was good enough to reveal the character(s) without implying how I should feel about them, which I can appreciate. Not sure if I’d seek out her work again, but I’m not discounting it completely.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: I enjoyed this book. I was fascinated by the concept of the story and the writing was quite good. As I read and neared the end, I really wondered how the author would complete the story. For me, the end of the last chapter seemed hasty though I don’t know how she could have done it differently. But it was so abrupt. Perhaps it was fitting that way. And the epilogue seemed almost like an afterthought and I would have liked something more. But all of that doesn’t override the unique world she created in this story and the remarkable ways she described the ability for each person to emerge into a better self given just the right opportunity.
Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks: I finished this book in 6 days. Not that it was the most stunning book I’ve ever read, but it was exactly what I was in the mood for. A bit chick lit, a bit foodie, a bit of seeing myself, a bit of not seeing anything I have experience of. I was pleasantly surprised to see the name of a fiction writer I know here in SD named in the acknowledgements, she helped as a writing partner for this book which made it all the more better somehow. There’s a sequel and I’ll read it, too, I’m sure.
Laurel Canyon – the Inside Story of Rock & Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker: Just finished this book and I found it completely fascinating. It recounts the times and how they changed from the perspective of the neighborhood of Laurel Canyon. It begins in the early 60s and ends in the early 80s with an epilogue that includes some of the 90s. Having driven through there, enjoyed much of the music that was created there in the 60s, and actually being connected (in a very indirect way) to some of the people who made that music, it was a great read. But regardless of those things, it was so interesting to read of the highs and lows, the bliss and the burnout associated with just a neighborhood. I recommend it.
The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle: I devoured this book while I was home at my parents’ house over the weekend. It was a good read, though I noticed some points in the writing that were repetitive (a phrase or a gesture the characters make). I chalk it up to a first novel. But I was thoroughly drawn in and as the protagonist was a 12 year-old girl, I couldn’t help but wonder about DK and what her thoughts are as she makes her way socially through the obstacles of adolescence. The story takes place on a horse ranch in Colorado, not something I’m familiar with but the author was great at making you feel exactly like you were there. Alice (the main character) has to deal with some difficult scenes and brutal actions, but the auther did a great job of keeping it focused on the situation, and her choices (both the author’s and Alice’s) were interesting and surprising.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Another stunner from Hosseini. This time examining two amazing women enduring life in modern Afghanistan. I fell in love with these characters and was overcome with the tragic episodes that each encountered. Keep your tissues handy.
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire: Wow! I loved this book. I will admit that I am still smitten with the musical, Wicked, and although the novel it is based on is somewhat far afield from the play, I am so impressed with Gregory Maguire’s vivid imagination. This book (written 10 years after Wicked) is about the alleged son of Elphaba. It is magical and haunting, romantic and cruel. I found it easy to follow and hard to put down. Upon finishing I did a search for the author to see if there was another book set in the land of Oz and indeed there is! A Lion Among Men is soon to be published and Maguire is on his book tour right now, making a stop in La Jolla soon. I will definitely try to make that.
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich: It’s no secret I adore this woman’s stories and this was another winner for me. And it was different than her other books. It was more modern-day and that made it more relatable. One of the characters, Evelina, you meet when she’s in grade school and you see her again later as a teen. I appreciated seeing the growth of this character and how she saw the world. Plus there was a mystery woven through it and the characters she creates are complex and stunning.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was like the Da Vinci Code but the “treasure” was Dracula. Well-written (lots of different and distinct voices), suspenseful and a good pay-off at the end.
The Gathering by Anne Enright: We haven’t met for book club in a while so I did some internet browsing and found this one. The prose is very rich and says a lot without using many words. The narrator is quite interesting.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins: Thoroughly enjoyed this book and it read pretty quick. It made me want to visit New Orleans.
a spot of bother by Mark Haddon: I finished this book pretty quickly. I liked it, he was able to create some believable characters going through common experiences with great depth, compassion and humor. I’ll be curious to see what the book club thinks of it.
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon: I read this one quickly, at the same time as “a spot of bother.” Since they’re by the same author, it was sometimes hard to distinguish the characters since there were some similar themes. However, this one is told from the perspective of an autistic teenager and it was pretty fascinating. My friend, Marcia, teaches physical education to autistic kids and other special needs children. I brought this book up to her and she told she’d already read it and that it was right on in how it illustrated the way an autistic child thinks and reacts to ordinary life. I really thought this was a good book.
The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich: I checked this book out at the library a long time ago and never finished it. When I had a free book coming to me from Borders rewards, I chose to buy it. I love this author and already in my re-reading, I realized that I had missed so much on my first try.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: Finished this one last week. I enjoyed it. The story within a story idea was pulled off well, with a twist that was nicely played.
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje: Once again, Ondaatje did not disappoint. I could this as a movie. His female characters are so interesting. A recent Powell’s purchase from one of my favorite writers (fiction or poetry).
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: It finally drew me in and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: I finally finished this book and was surprised that I didn’t get sucked in the way I had imagined. Still, I enjoyed it, and partially blame the holidays for not allowing me the undivided time to devour it.
Blessings by Anna Quindlen: The latest installment in my book club which we talked about on the 21st of Oct. Only 2 of us read it. It was so-so. I found it kind of sad and without the ringing redemption it boasted.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire: I found it to be much different from the play, more political, more sexual. I did enjoy it, but discovered a new appreciation for writers who can take a work like this and morph it into what I saw in the play. Amazing.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: This book lived up to the hype.
Snow Flower & the Secret Fan by Lisa See: Our book club recently met to discuss this one.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan: A random selection, borrowed this from Heather.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (BC)
The Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (BC)
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch (BC)
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (BC)
- Winner of the National Book Award by Joyce Willett (BC)
- Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (BC)
- Dalva by Jim Harrison
- The Road Home by Jim Harrison
- Democracy by Joan Didion (BC)
- Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron (BC)
- Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (BC)
- The Best Day The Worst Day by Donald Hall (BC)
- Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
- Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (BC)
- Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl (BC)
- Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
- Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (BC)
- Four Souls by Louise Erdrich (BC)
- Little Children by Tom Perrotta (BC