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January 2010 Book Challenge - Page 4

post #61 of 185
Yay books!

So far this year I have read
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I loved it! I'm on a Charles Dickens kick at the moment. I went crazy at the used book store and bought all of his books that they had.

I'm currently reading Made in America by Bill Bryson. There's some really interesting notes about the origins of words, and the start of the US.
post #62 of 185
The Search by Eric Heuvel et al

This is a graphic novel/picture book about the Holocaust . . . very interesting way to present this stuff to kids.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

This is a nonfiction account of a Syrian/Muslim man living in New Orleans during the hurricane and consequent flooding. His family left in time but he stayed and then continued to stay to try to help . It's quite unbelievable what happens to him. The writing was getting on my nerves at first as it's not well written and there are so many flashbacks but eventually the story took over and I'm glad I read it.
post #63 of 185
"Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen

Quote:
At first, the worst week of Janzen's life—she gets into a debilitating car wreck right after her husband leaves her for a guy he met on the Internet and saddles her with a mortgage she can't afford—seems to come out of nowhere, but the disaster's long buildup becomes clearer as she opens herself up. Her 15-year relationship with Nick had always been punctuated by manic outbursts and verbally abusive behavior, so recognizing her co-dependent role in their marriage becomes an important part of Janzen's recovery (even as she tweaks the 12 steps just a bit). The healing is further assisted by her decision to move back in with her Mennonite parents, prompting her to look at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes.

Rhoda Janzen is a well-liked English professor at a local Michigan college. Knowing this fact, I had higher hopes for her memoir. It is the story of the end of her 15-year marriage and her return to the Mennonite community she grew up in. The events detailed are not necessary humorous -- her verbally abusive (and bipolar, to boot) husband leaves her for a man he meets on Gay.com, she is seriously injured in a car accident and she can't pay the mortgage on her house. But she is quick with the self-deprecating humor to stop any feelings of pity. I especially enjoyed her stories of her mother and all her quirky habits (chugging tuna fish water, for instance). However, I found the flow of the book to be extremely disjointed at times. Events and stories were recalled at times that seemed to have little to do with the surrounding story.
post #64 of 185
5. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork

This is about a teenage boy with Aspergers who works at his dad's law firm for the summer in order to learn how to interact with people better. He befriends the girl who works in the mail room and uncovers a secret that could bring the law firm to its knees. I like the descriptions of the beautiful Vermont countryside. "Maybe the right action is a lake like this one, green and quiet and deep."
post #65 of 185
#2 Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick

Historical fiction about Vincent van Gogh and his time in Arles. The author took the story of Vincent cutting off his ear and built upon the very little bit of actual information about it to weave a love story between him and a local prostitute. It was a sweet love story, although, I often found myself wishing for color plates of his artwork to accompany the story.

#3 The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

The Baudelaire orphans are sent to a boarding school with terrible teachers and administration and of course Count Olaf finds them. They make some friends though. Luckily, Tim Curry is back in the next book! Hooray!
post #66 of 185
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fremontmama View Post
#2 Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick

Historical fiction about Vincent van Gogh and his time in Arles. The author took the story of Vincent cutting off his ear and built upon the very little bit of actual information about it to weave a love story between him and a local prostitute. It was a sweet love story, although, I often found myself wishing for color plates of his artwork to accompany the story.
That's so weird, because one of the book review blogs I follow just posted a review of this book today. Weird.
post #67 of 185
It's for the book club. I guess my little club is just totally in the zietgiest hip and happening know of things!
post #68 of 185
World Without End, Follett

The sequel to Pillars of the Earth.

Quote:
The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroad of new ideas--about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race--the Black Death.
I don't know why I had such a hard time getting into this one, but once I did it was very interesting, particularly in the male/female dynamics that are set up by the author.


Giada's Family Dinners

Quote:
Giada's Family Dinners an even more accessible (if this is possible) cookbook designed to help families enjoy easy, delicious, authentic Italian meals. Simple and elegant, the recipes range from the quick fix to the family feast, and include plenty of desserts. And, those of you who felt that the only flaw in Giada's first book was that it lacked a chapter on soups will want to fire up the range and get your pots ready for 7 delicious and easy soup recipes.


#1-World Without End, #2-Giada's Family Dinners, #3 When You Are Engulfed in Flames, #4 Her Fearful Symmetry, #5 First Among Sequels
post #69 of 185
"In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" by Neil White

Quote:
Before he was imprisoned for fraud in 1993, editor Neil White's life had been defined by dreams of wealth and status. Even in prison, he saved the scented strips from magazines to substitute for the cologne he loved. But his was hardly the standard minimum-security facility: Carville, in rural Louisiana, also served as the country's last leper colony. Once inside, White is pleasant and collegial with his fellow inmates. He applies his creativity and desire for approval to his prison jobs, which at first include chalking the dining room menu board (he adds puns and sketches) and creating ambitious garnishes for food. He finds comradeship not only with white-collar criminals -- a mafia lawyer, a crooked doctor -- but also with loud, brash-talking Link, who mocks him as boring, "the whitest man I ever met." His most important mentors, however, are the men and women confined because of leprosy, particularly wheelchair-bound Ella Bounds, who was forced to leave her family as a child, and whose good humor and gnomic wisdom astonish him.



The Hansen's Disease (formerly leprosy) patients at Carville are the true stars of this memoir. Separated and often cut off from their families, they spend their lives in isolation at the leprosarium in Louisiana. That prisoners -- even low risk ones -- are sent to live with them shows how little respect and concern they are given.
When Neil White is imprisoned there because of his white collar crimes (check kitting to hide his growing debt) instead of being repentant for the lives he has ruined -- including his, his wife's, his children, his parents and his employees -- he sees the opportunity to make more money in writing about the Hansen's patients. I spent the first half of the book being really pissed at White because while he seemed genuinely interested in the patients, he also still craved the fame and fortune that landed him in prison. There is no doubt he is a good writer - his descriptions of his fellow patients are humorous and pitying at times. However, White, like most prisoners, doesn't seem to think what he did was wrong.

Fortunately he has an epiphany about half way into his one-year sentence (perhaps it is his wife divorcing him) and finally seems to realize the mess he has made of his life and a lot of other lives. He also sees the leprosy patients not as fodder for his journalistic study - but people with their own lives, joys and pains.
post #70 of 185
3.The Lightning Thief (The first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) By Rick Riordan http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/r/...ning-thief.htm
Just finished this book with DS (11) (SHHH! Don’t tell anyone! He doesn’t want anyone to know that we still read together.) I was sceptical at first. I thought the idea seemed contrived, but both of us ended up really liking it! DS wants to go on to the next one and actually has developed a genuine interest in Greek Mythology.
4.The Wild Wood by Charles De Lint
http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/wildwood-desc01.htm
Well I guess sooner or later it had to happen, a De Lint novel that I actually did not like. I discovered this author last fall and have been hooked ever since. Had I started with this book, I never would have been interested, so unfortunately I can’t recommend it.
post #71 of 185
I'm new to this forum, so I hope no one minds me jumping in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jadedqueen123 View Post
#1 Under the Dome~Stephen King

King's return to supernatural horror is uncomfortably bulky, formidably complex and irresistibly compelling. When the smalltown of Chester's Mill, Maine, is surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside must exert themselves to survive. The situation deteriorates rapidly due to the dome's ecological effects and the machinations of Big Jim Rennie, an obscenely sanctimonious local politician and drug lord who likes the idea of having an isolated populace to dominate. Opposing him are footloose Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a gaggle of teen skateboarders and others who want to solve the riddle of the dome. King handles the huge cast of characters masterfully but ruthlessly, forcing them to live (or not) with the consequences of hasty decisions. Readers will recognize themes and images from King's earlier fiction, and while this novel doesn't have the moral weight of, say, The Stand, nevertheless, it's a nonstop thrill ride as well as a disturbing, moving meditation on our capacity for good and evil.
I just finished this book and thought it was excellent! I can usually take or leave King's endings, but I always enjoy the story that gets me there.

My goal for this year is 52 books, with at least a third of them as non-fiction. I'm hoping to read a lot more than that, but I figure I will start with one a week, just b/c that seems manageable. I find I can read quickly through the fiction, but I usually struggle with the non-fiction. I'm off to read through the old threads for some recommendations....
post #72 of 185
Welcome Workjw
post #73 of 185
The View from Garden City by Carolyn Baugh

“Through the eyes of an American student living in Cairo, we meet a group of Egyptian women, women who endure, struggle alone and in family groups, and tell their amazing personal stories with grace and grim-good humor. Baugh injects ample descriptions of the city and of local customs, but her great strength is in unfolding the stories of these women as they open their lives and their hearts to the novel's American narrator."—Indiebound

the author is an american doctoral student of arabic literature who met her spouse in cairo. it seems clear the book grew right out of her time abroad. even though some of the details of the Eqyptian women's lives are very very hard, Baugh puts them in a complex context. doesn't sensationalize, if that makes sense. each chapter focuses on one of 6 women, but the stories are smoothly linked together.
post #74 of 185
Per another members post I just finished #3~"The Heroines"~by Eileen Favorite. It was a decent quick read. Little confusing in some parts but over all worth my time.

Working on #4 I Know this Much is True~by Wally Lamb, another previous members post put me in touch with this one. I read I've Come Undone years ago and loved it so I am looking forward to finishing this one.

I have been slacking though so I don't know if I am going to get to my 100 book goal. Started a gym membership and with a sick kiddo it's been hard to read, kept having to throw the book out of the way of the vomit.
post #75 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathe View Post
Welcome Workjw
Ditto!

#4 The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

Just finishing this one up -- it's mammoth. I'm not sure what I think... It's definitely been interesting to read as my younger brother has been in jail/getting sentenced for dealing meth.
post #76 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by jadedqueen123 View Post
I have been slacking though so I don't know if I am going to get to my 100 book goal. Started a gym membership and with a sick kiddo it's been hard to read, kept having to throw the book out of the way of the vomit.
Oh no! I hope the sickness passes soon! (that's quite the visual )
post #77 of 185
The English American by Alison Larkin

Quote:
Despite loving her English mum and dad dearly, Pippa Dunn — adopted as an infant from America — never feels she fits into her family. Her fear of abandonment has her looking for the wrong men, in order to leave them before they leave her. At the age of 28, Pippa goes to America seeking her birth parents: beautiful, artistic Billie and her married lover, Walt, who gave up their daughter for the sake of their relationship. The first blush of parental love is intoxicating, with Pippa seeing her traits in others and feeling truly free to express herself. Then reality (Billie’s possessiveness, Walt’s evasiveness) sets in, and Pippa faces the issue of nature versus nurture. Pippa’s long-distance correspondent through all this is fellow adoptee Nick Devang, but her true source of support is right in front of her.

Is this a great book? No. It is a good book though. I enjoyed the insight into British culture and laughed at some of the author's perceptions of America (and, consequently, Americans). I found myself increasingly annoyed by Pippa's birth parents -- especially Billie -- and wondered when she would see them for their true selves. A bit of a too tidy ending, but overall not a bad read. If I were giving out stars, I'd say three out of five stars.
post #78 of 185
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bufomander View Post
Ditto!

#4 The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

Just finishing this one up -- it's mammoth. I'm not sure what I think... It's definitely been interesting to read as my younger brother has been in jail/getting sentenced for dealing meth.
Sorry to hear that. Hopefully (and in all seriousness) your brother's route to jail was less ... eventful ... than Gilmore's.
post #79 of 185
Child of the Prophecy - by Juliet Marillier

The third book in the Sevenwaters trilogy that I have been working my way through. Although I really liked the book, the 'twist' at the end was predictable from about halfway through the book. I think I preferred the first 2 books in the trilogy.

2010 Reading Goal - 50 books.
#1 - Child of the Prophecy
post #80 of 185
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson

This is the sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo . . . I guess this is just not my genre. I thought the writing was poor and the characters stereotypes . . . good plotting though. This book definitely keeps you guessing and all the pieces come together in the end.
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