Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Monday 11/29! What Are You Reading?

 Happy Monday - hard to believe it's almost December already!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family.  We had a very special holiday week.  My mom and her husband treated us and my sister's family to a vacation in Jamaica at the Beaches Negril resort!  It was our first trip to the Caribbean (aside from Puerto Rico) and our first time at a resort, and the entire week was magnificent.  We spent the week swimming, snorkeling, and eating a lot!  My chronic illness even cooperated so that I could enjoy the trip - I realized it helps a lot when I have absolutely no responsibilities, no stress, and can sleep for 11 hours a night!

I wasn't here for last Monday, so this is a 2-week catch-up on our reading:
  • I read lots of short books in the busy week before we left, starting with a sweet middle-grade novel, Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord, author of the award-winning Rules.  Check out my review at Great Books for Kids and Teens.
  • I finally got to The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, a wonderfully moving and inspirational book written by an author disabled with the same illness my sons and I have, ME/CFS.  I'll post a review this week.
  • Before we left, I squeezed in one more middle-grade book, a humorous take-off on the Hardy Boys called Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett.  Lots of fun - review to come this week at my kids' book blog.
  • On our trip, I read a classic, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, for one of my book groups that's meeting tomorrow evening.  I'm not a huge fan of period novels, so it dragged at times for me, but overall, I enjoyed it.
  • Jamie, 16, decided to leave our hardcover copy of the 1,000-page The Stand at home for vacation (he's somewhere around page 700).  Instead, he brought along and read two old favorite paperbacks.  He likes to read themed novels when we travel, so he read two novels set among pirates in the Caribbean:  Peter Raven Under Fire by Michael Molloy (this might have been his third read of this one!) and The Angel's Command by Brian Jacques.  He says both are excellent (appropriate for middle-grade or teens).
  • Craig, 12, read absolutely nothing!  That's his idea of vacation.  I really need to get him back in the reading habit this week (kicking and screaming).
  • My husband, Ken, spent two weeks in Europe on business, came home for one night, then left with us for Jamaica the next day!  He finished New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith, a mystery novel set among the wealthy high society of our favorite city.  He started a new paperback he picked up for his travels, The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd, a new author for him but one recommended by a favorite of his, Lee Child.
So, lots of reading and lots of fun.  Now it's time to catch up, read those 400 e-mails waiting for me, and get back to writing reviews. Hope you had a great holiday, too!

(What are you reading Mondays is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fiction Review: Beloved

In May 2009, I posted a top ten list of Authors I Can't Believe I've Never Read.  One of those was Toni Morrison.  I rectified that last week when I read her acclaimed novel, Beloved.  It is a powerfully emotional novel, as good as I'd always heard.

Set after the Civil War, the novel focuses on Sethe, a mother who escaped slavery in Kentucky with her four children to live with her mother-in-law, whose freedom Sethe's husband bought years earlier.  As the story opens, it is just Sethe and her youngest daughter, Denver, in the house.  Her mother-in-law died, her two sons left a few years earlier and her other daughter died a long time ago, though we don't know why or how at the start of the novel.  There is also a disturbing spiritual presence in the house which effectively keeps other people away and leaves Sethe and Denver isolated.

Things change for the two women when Paul D. shows up at the house.  He knows Sethe from their days as slaves on the same farm, so they share a lot of memories that both of them would rather forget.  The novel explores their shared past in disturbing, compelling flashbacks that begin to explain aspects of their present.

These flashbacks were incredibly powerful, telling the personal stories of a horrific time in our shared history.  I had a little trouble at the beginning of the novel with the mysterious presence in the house - I'm not generally a big fan of so-called mystic realism - but after a while, I was completely wrapped up in the emotional complexities of the story and its characters.  It explores the ways in which our past affects our present lives and the lengths people will go to to protect the ones they love.  It is an intense, thought-provoking novel, and I'm glad I finally read it.

Now, I still need to work on the other nine authors on my list!

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Monday 11/15! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday!  I can't believe it's mid-November already, and the holiday season starts next week - yikes!  Things will get really hectic from here out.

Last week was a busy one, too.  Craig was home sick for two days, I was under the weather myself most of the week, my husband was still out of town, and Craig hurt his knee on Thursday.  Typical week with kids, right?  He got an MRI Friday night, and we're headed to the orthopedic specialist this morning.  It's feeling a lot better, so hopefully, it's nothing too serious.

I did find time to read during all that craziness (actually waiting rooms are a great opportunity to read!):
  • I finished Beloved by Toni Morrison.  Wow.  I understand why it's considered a modern classic.  Review to come this week (somehow I ran out of time for reviews at the end of the week...)
  • I read a sweet middle-grade novel, Touch Blue, by award-winning author Cynthia Lord.  I loved her first novel, Rules, and this one was very good as well.
  • I started The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, a beautifully written memoir by Elisabeth Tova Bailey who has the same chronic illness I have.  So far, it's just as good as everyone said it was.
  • Jamie, 16, is still making his way through The Stand by Stephen King.  A friend was teasing him this weekend, "You're still reading the same book?"  Jamie said, "It's over 1000 pages long with small print!"  Despite all the school work that keeps him busy, he is still finding time to enjoy this novel and says it just keeps getting better and better.
  • I honestly have no idea what Craig, 12, is reading right now.  I'm having trouble getting him to read much of anything, and he keeps switching books after reading only a chapter or two!  I know he started a Hardy Boys book last week while he was home sick (his version of comfort reading).  If anyone has any suggestions of a book for a 7th grade boy that grabs you in the very first chapter, I'd love to hear it!

Last week, I posted a couple of fun items:  some new videos by the author of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and a trailer for a new movie version of Jane Eyre.  I also posted a review of the teen suspense novel, The Deadly Sister on my kids/teen book blog, Great Books for Kids and Teens.

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jane Eyre: The Movie

The trend continues as yet another book is adapted for the big screen.  This one is a classic:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  It's been decades since I read Jane Eyre, but I remember loving it.

You can see the movie trailer here - it looks pretty good to me!  I like the mood and tone of it, with those shots of the lonely, gray moors.  It's due for release in March 2011.

What do you think of the trailer?  Are you interested in seeing it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Videos for Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

In February 2009, I posted a review of a unique memoir, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  I really enjoyed this funny, warm memoir written with encyclopedia-like entries.

Amy has just posted three new videos on YouTube that reflect the same quirky sense of fun that I loved in her book.  The first video is a sort of promo for her book, filled with fun little audience-participation hot spots, including opportunities to receive fresh pie in the mail or to appear in another video.

Within that video is a link to another one, a music video of a song about Amy and her book, written and performed by a musician friend (it's actually pretty good!)

Her third video, Standing in a Bookstore Looking at a Book, is an ode to choosing a book that all book-lovers will appreciate.

All of the videos are further proof of Amy's cleverness and creativity - hope you enjoy them as I did!

Monday, November 08, 2010

It's Monday 11/8! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday!  Another busy week here.  Last week of the marking period for the kids, so they had a lot of work to do, my husband is traveling for business again, and I'm busy trying to be both mom and dad!  I don't think the kids had any time at all for reading last week, but I did:
  • I finished Unwind by Neal Shusterman, a teen dystopian novel, and absolutely loved it!  I couldn't wait to tell you about it, so I posted a review on my kids' book blog the same day.
  • Now, I'm in the middle of Beloved by Toni Morrison for our library book discussion this week.  It's a Classic Potluck - everyone reads a classic of their own choosing then tells the group about it.  I know some don't consider Beloved old enough to be a classic, but it was included on a list of classics from the library, and I've wanted to read a Toni Morrison book for a long time.  She's got an unusual writing style at times, but I'm enjoying this moving story very much so far. 
  • My husband took his new mystery, New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith, with him on his trip, along with Unwind, after Jamie and I raved about it!
  • Jamie, 16, is still reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for school (he says he's ahead of the class since he read a lot while he was sick recently) and The Stand by Stephen King for fun.
  • Craig, 12, is still reading The Book of Time by by Guillaume Prevost, the first book in an exciting, fast-paced time-travel series, but I don't think he read at all last week!  We'll have to remedy that this week...
Besides the review of Unwind (you must read this book!), I also posted a summary of all the books I read in October.

And check out these details of the upcoming movie versions of The Hunger Games and The Help.  I can't wait to see both of them!

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Mondays is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey).

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Help, The Movie

Yeah!!!  One of my all-time favorite novels, The Help, is being made into a movie, to be released in August 2011. 

This update provides some details, and here are some stills from the movie (apparently, they've already begun filming).  It looks so good, doesn't it?  I can't wait!!

What do you think of the actresses they chose for the lead roles?  Will you go see the movie?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Books Read in October

I didn't read nearly as many books in October as I did in September, but that's a good thing - I tore through a bunch of book last month because I was sick for two weeks.  Healthier and busier this month, so I'm not complaining!

I read 2 adult books, and 3 teen/YA books (one of which was an audio) in October:
  • Blind Descent by Nevada Barr, one of her classic Anna Pigeon thrillers, about a National Park ranger, this one set in Carlsbad Caverns.
  • Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, a warm, funny, and thought-provoking teen novel that I loved about a boy whose parents are raising a chimp as a human baby, teaching him sign language.
  • Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell for my book group, a gentle coming-of-age story set in the Canadian prairie.
  • The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer, an enjoyable teen mystery/suspense novel.
  • She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott, a teen audio novel with more depth than I expected.
All good reads in October!  Hope you had a good reading month, too.

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's Monday 11/1! What Are You Reading?

Eeek!  November already?  How on earth did that happen?  From here on out, time seems to go double-speed through January. 

Back to October for a moment.  We had a wonderful Halloween weekend, filled with pumpkins, cider, and fun costumes.  Our whole family dressed up as rock stars for Halloween (that's me in front), and the boys had a blast trick-or-treating.  We love our Halloween traditions - fun weekend, but tough to have Halloween on a Sunday night.  My son was getting ready for school this morning and said, "Mom, we have a problem!"  The insides of his ears were black from the spray-on hair dye!  I got him cleaned up before the bus came.  Personally, I had a terrible time washing off the black lipstick and eyeliner.

Besides Halloween, we had a very busy week - my husband was out of town, my mom stayed with us most of the week, Jamie was sick for another 3 days, then had a mountain of make-up, we had very little reading time.  Here's what we read:
  • I finished The Deadly Sister by Eliot Shrefer and enjoyed it very much.  It's a murder thriller for teens/YA with some unexpected twists.  Review coming this week.
  • I usually alternate kids/teen books with grown-up books, but I made an exception this week so I could read something spooky for Halloween.  So, I'm in the middle of Unwind by Neal Shusterman, a chilling book about a time in the future when abortion is illegal but parents can choose to "unwind" their kids when they're teens, sending them to a harvest camp where all of their organs are transplanted to donors so that life doesn't technically end.  I loved Shusterman's Everlost and Everwild, and Unwind is just as good.  A perfect Halloween read!
  • My husband, Ken, worked long hours on his business trip, so he just finished Cover Her Face by P.D. James, which he said was a classic British mystery.
  • Next, he's starting a book I gave him for his birthday, New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith - I thought he'd enjoy a mystery set in our favorite city!
  • Jamie, 16, is still reading Fahrenheit 451 by Rad Bradbury for school and The Stand by Stephen King for fun (he's on about page 500 of 1000!).
  • I don't think Craig, 12, read much at all last week, but he's still working on The Book of Time by Guillaume Prevost, the first book in an exciting, fast-paced time-travel series.
I had a lot of fun last week posting my Top Ten Books to Read for Halloween, and I posted a review of Who Has Seen the Wind.  I also posted a review of a teen audio book at Great Books for Kids and Teens, She's So Dead To Us (which sounds a bit Halloween-y but really isn't).

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey).