Thursday, September 25, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Here's today's topic:

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

Wow, tough question. Since it says no textbooks, I can't describe the horrors of my Statistics text. Too bad, it ended up as a prop under a broken couch.

One book that I was surprised by was The Three Junes by Julia Glass. It was a National Book Award winner which is why I bought it. I was trying to impress people by reading good literature! It was one that I wouldn't have picked up if I really knew what it was about. There is one scene in that book that I will never forget and one character who I felt was incredibly heartless. The biggest thing for me was that it opened my eyes about AIDS - again.

There was a time, when the disease was in the headlines all the time. Characters in movies and tv shows dealt with HIV and AIDS, but it seems that it left my radar for some reason. I have not been personally touched by the disease, which may be why it wasn't in my mind. About the same time I read The Three Junes, I saw the movie Rent (I wasn't able to see the stage show) which deals with the same topic. It seemed that I was being given the opportunity to see things differently through this book and that movie.

So while that book wasn't my favorite, it was a moving story that ultimately taught me to be a little more compassionate, a little more tolerant and a bit more aware.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

Another Tuesday rolls around and I can't seem to get my teaser in before 10 pm. Oh well, at least I'm doing it. I'd like to mention that I am currently reading High Five by Janet Evanovich. I have all of her books and I read them at various times during the year. I always enjoy them and can count on them being a ton of fun. I don't want to read them all at once because then I'd be sitting around waiting for her to write more. So yes, I'm behind the rest of the world but that's all right. I'll have plenty to read.

From page 185 comes a lovely quote from Grandma Mazur. How much do we all love Grandma? Seriously? She's awesome!

"I guess that's where I heard of her. There's lots of people in that seniors' club, and I don't go to the meetings all the time. I can only take too much of old people. If I want to see loose skin I can look in the mirror."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

High Five

I went to Google a picture of the book High Five by Janet Evanovich. I ran across this cat. It made me smile. Enjoy!

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

I finally finished The Lace Reader. Whew! What a ride that book was. First off I want to say that I did enjoy it very much. That being said, there are a few comments I'd like to make. First of all I picked up this book because I had read good reviews. I don't know anyone personally who has read it. I'm glad I did pick it up because now I get to share it with some friends.

This book takes place in Salem, MA. Most of us have heard the stories of the famous "witch" trials that took place. I've never been to that part of the country but I will be visiting Boston next week, which isn't far from Salem. It's about a woman, Towner, who is in her early 30's but for some reason I kept wanting to age her. I felt that she had to be older than me. In reading the author's notes I see that the time frame for this book was about 1996. This would make sense as it would make Towner older than me now. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense but it does in my head!

Towner comes home for the first time in many years because her great-aunt (the relationship is still not entirely clear) is missing. She has to face her mother, her aunt, and the memories of her twin sister for the first time. Towner is haunted by her past, including an abusive uncle who is now an extreme religious fanatic, starting his own witch hunts. Her old boyfriend is still around causing minor trouble for her burgeoning relationship with the town detective.

The twists and turns in this story were what kept it moving. Just when I'd figure something out, I'd be shown the opposite was true. Of all the characters, I enjoyed Rafferty the most. He was the detective, hopelessly infatuated with Towner even though he knew the truth of her past. He knew more than I as the reader did. I couldn't relate too much to Towner as I've never been in such emotional turmoil for such a long period of time.

This novel is full of clever writing and a very vivid setting. I really have quite the image in my head of Yellow Dog Island and surrounding areas. I have a few questions though! Wouldn't it be great to sit down with the author sometime? I'd post my questions but I don't want to give anything away. I'd love to hear what you think!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Running Out of Books

Two days ago my friend and co-worker told me that she had nothing to read. She had run out of books!

Yeah, I might have made that face. It is one of my greatest fears. I don't know if there is a technical term for "fear of nothing to read" but there should be. I have it. I am currently in no danger of running out of books especially since I received a nifty little box from Amazon today.

That old question about what you would take with you to a deserted isle? My first answer is almost always a book. A really big book. Better yet, a series. Even better yet, a Kindle loaded with as much as it can hold. Of course I'd need electricity to keep it charged so maybe a truly deserted isle wouldn't be the best place for me.

When my friend told me she had nothing to read, my mind immediately started churning. I had to solve her problem! I'm not quite done with the Lace Reader, so I couldn't give her that. In my car I have at least three books but as they are my emergency stash and I haven't read them yet, I was hesitant. I'm a very generous person with books I've already read but I can be a bit possessive of the new stuff.

Finally a light bulb went off! I have Twilight in my desk drawer. (For the record, I don't carry that book around with me, a different co-worker had returned it) Knowing this isn't a typical book that she'd pick up, I handed it to her with a bit of trepidation. She took it happily and yesterday reported that Edward was being nice to Bella. (hee)

Yesterday I brought her a bag with about nine books in it that I'd read and thought she might enjoy. She took them all, so she's set for a little while. For those of you who are readers, you probably know how I feel. If you start to run out of books to read (heaven forbid) let me know! I'll get you help.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today's prompt is about the change in seasons.

Autumn is starting (here in the US, anyway), and kids are heading back to school–does the changing season change your reading habits? Less time? More? Are you just in the mood for different kinds of books than you were over the summer?

I love Autumn. It's my favorite season. I love the change in the air. The light is different and the colors are more vibrant. I live in California, in a place where the seasons are not extreme (barely noticeable in fact). You can feel Autumn though. Our warmest days are usually in Sep/Oct which I don't like but once those are over, it's lovely.

I've never really thought about whether or not it changes my reading habits. It's a very busy time of year for me and in that respect, I probably read less. As for what I read, that doesn't change too much. I tend to try to flip between lighter and heavier reads all year.

I don't have a good answer! That's horrible. I guess my answer would be no. My reading habits don't change.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

Another Tuesday rolls around and once again I'm late to the game. It's 10:05 here in California. I'm sure many of you have already rolled into Tuesday.

Since I'm STILL reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, you'll get another teaser from that book. The strange thing is that I just today read the quote from last week. I told y'all I wasn't a fast reader. The bottom line is I've been pickin busy and my reading time has suffered. Plus? I started reading Bright Lights Big Ass at night so The Lace Reader is just for the day time. Make sense? On to the teaser. From page 126:

"As soon as it gets dark enough, the fireworks start. They're good. Better than I remember. With each burst you can see the people on the sore: miles of them in lawn chairs on the sprawling front yards of he neck or lining the town docks or the yacht clubs or way over by Devereaux Beach."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Booking Through Tuesday - The 9/11 Edition

Here's this week's prompt:

Today is the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I know that not all of you who read are in the U.S., but still, it’s vital that none of us who are decent people forget the scope of disaster that a few, evil people can cause–anywhere in the world. It’s not about religion, it’s not about politics, it’s about the acknowledgment that humans should try to work together, not tear each other apart, even when they disagree.

So, feeling my way to a question here … Terrorists aren’t just movie villains any more. Do real-world catastrophes such as 9/11 (and the bombs in Madrid, and the ones in London, and the war in Darfur, and … really, all the human-driven, mass loss-of-life events) affect what you choose to read? Personally, I used to enjoy reading Tom Clancy, but haven’t been able to stomach his fight-terrorist kinds of books since.

And, does the reality of that kind of heartless, vicious attack–which happen on smaller scales ALL the time–change the way you feel about villains in the books you read? Are they scarier? Or more two-dimensional and cookie-cutter in the face of the things you see on the news?

Wow. It's like a punch in the gut today each time 9/11 is brought up. When I turned the news on this morning and they talked about it, I realized I had forgotten the date. It is today. It's a day to remember. I left for work and basically forgot again. Then I see the prompt and it's another punch -oh yeah. Remember. I'll never forget that day. My life changed. The emotions are still raw but yet life goes on. My mind will move on to other things today and then another punch will hit as I remember again.

I think that everything is different because of 9/11. I never used to race to turn on the news first thing in the morning before. Now as soon as I shove my dog out the doggy door and turn on the coffee pot, the news goes on so I can check, make sure that the world is still turning.

I don't think my reading habits have changed. I was never one to read political thrillers or big action novels. They weren't my thing, and still aren't. I'd watch a movie in that genre now and then, but again, never my first choice.

I do see things differently though. I look for 9/11 in movies I watch. Have you seen the movie Vantage Point? It's a really good movie. There is a bombing that is hard to take despite the movie being so good. It wouldn't have been that hard to watch if it weren't for 9/11 and the terrorist attacks that go on around the world. In that respect, it's changed. My awareness is different.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Books to Cruise On

I just skulked around Borders during my lunch break. I hate doing it then but sometimes it's the best I can do. I just always feel rushed. I usually only go if I have a goal, which I did, but I still like to have more time. Anyway, I bought three new books which I obviously don't need, but wanted.

My question today is what books should I bring on my cruise? I'm leaving in a couple of weeks and I need around five books to keep me happy. I'll probably end up with more but I think I read 5 books on my last cruise and this one is more port intensive. I won't have as much time to read.

At one point I was thinking The Historian would be good because it's long, but I heard that it's hard to get started with. I really want to bring The Host but I don't want to lug around a hardcover. I could go the easy route and bring the next Stephanie Plum book (I think I'm up to 5) or the next Women's Murder Club book. I probably will because I know those are easy to get into. Take a look at my list over on the right. Do you see any books that would be perfect cruise reads? If so, let me know. I need help!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

I'm getting my Teaser Tuesday in on time this week! Woo!

My teaser for today comes from The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I'm only a few pages into it at this point so I have no idea if I'm spoiling anything! I hope not.

This is about a woman who's family has a gift. They can read people's past, present and future by looking through lace. The main character, Towner is called back home after a beloved family member has disappeared.

From page 165:

He told his story to anyone who would listen. He had seen his own death. Cal told them his body had been torn apart. He had felt the fires of hell.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Last Summer (Of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

I really loved this book. I wasn't so sure in the middle if I even liked it anymore but I kept going and ended up enjoying it. Ann Brashares is the author of the Traveling Pants books of which I am a fan. This is her first "adult" book. The only difference is that the characters were a bit older and the love scenes are a bit more graphic than you'd find in a typical young adult novel. They were quite tame compared to some of the bodice rippers I used to read.

The story takes place on Fire Island, New York. I don't know much about the island but it seems idyllic to spend the summer there. It revolves around two sisters who are both adults and are spending their summer at their family home on the island. Their parents come for weekends, but they stay during the week. Alice babysits and works at the yacht club, while Riley works as a lifeguard.

The third character that is central to the story is Paul. His family home is next door and he grew up with the girls. His relationship with Riley was of best friend. With Alice it was different. This is the crux of the book. He loves Alice and Alice loves him but they both love Riley. It is difficult for Alice and Paul to be together because neither wants to hurt Riley.

Things happen and circumstances change, tearing Paul and Alice apart very abruptly. This is where I got mad. I was mad at Alice for abandoning Paul, I was mad at Paul for not fighting, and I was mad at Riley for being stubborn. By the end I forgave them all and wasn't ready for the story to end.

It's a fairly quick story, it didn't take me long and I couldn't put it down when I got started. I'd love to know what you think!

Booking Through Thursday. . . On Monday

Yeah, I know I'm late. See previous posts for all my excuses! Here is this week's (last week's?) prompt:

I was looking through books yesterday at the shops and saw all the Twilight books, which I know basically nothing about. What I do know is that I’m beginning to feel like I’m the *only* person who knows nothing about them.
Despite being almost broke and trying to save money, I almost bought the expensive book (Australian book prices are often completely nutty) just because I felt the need to be ‘up’ on what everyone else was reading.
Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

Sorta. I'm really a sucker for whatever is popular. It seems to me that the more hype some things have the more I want to read or watch them. I jumped on the Twilight bandwagon before it exploded so I can pat myself on the back for that one. I will buy books based on a lot of talk. If I see a review in a magazine, hear about it on a message board, and see a large display in the book store, I take a look.

That being said, if I don't think it will hold my interest, I won't buy it. I read a lot of Oprah's books when she first started her book club but I found that I wasn't enjoying all of them and I really knew ahead of time that I wouldn't. I fell into the hype.

Another example is the Da Vinci Code. Everyone at work was reading it at the height of it's popularity. I wasn't interested then and I'm still not. I resisted that one. I'm still not sure why.

I suppose I'm more of a follower when it comes to movies and tv but books can be included at times. It's a lot more of a commitment to read a book then watch an hour tv show or a two hour movie. Show me the hype, I'll check out the book. I can't guarantee I'll read it but I'll take a look.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Teaser Tuesday (on a Saturday!)

Today's Teaser is from The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares.
This book takes place on an island off of Long Island, New York. It's one of those ideal places where families spend their summers and kids run free. This is a good description from page 35.
"The main predator of children and deer was the automobile, and there weren't any cars on the island, so the children and the deer were mangy, plentiful, and free."

Sisterchicks Go Brit by Robin Jones Gunn

I picked up the first Sisterchick book (Sisterchicks on the Loose) a few years back, I think it had just come out. I had started reading Robin's books when I discovered the Glenbrooke series. I'm a Christian but I don't read a lot of Christian fiction. I'll be honest, I find a lot of it terribly cheesy and not all that interesting. I mean no offense to the sincere authors who write Christian fiction, some of it is quite good! There are authors who craft beautiful stories that touch hearts. My main issue with a good chunk of the genre is the idea that everything is good all the time. Even with God in my life, things are not good all the time, things can be dark and scary, painful and lonely. I want real characters and real situations. That said, let me tell you why I like the Sisterchicks books.

The first thing you should know is that they are about travel. With the exception of Sisterchicks Down Under they are about women -usually two friends -traveling together. I only say that book is an exception because it involved relocation for one woman who made a friend in her new temporary home. If you have ever traveled with a very close friend you'll know that it's not always easy. Even for the best of friends to spend that much time together can be tricky. I have traveled with my best friend and it's a lot of fun. There is usually one point where we are tired and cranky but we respect each other to know that we can let it pass and move on.

In the Sisterchick books the women generally have a plan but rarely get to follow it. Isn't that usually the way it is with traveling plans? There's always something to mess things up but these women embrace it, enjoy it and have fun. There's a great scene in Sisterchicks Go Brit where one of the characters splits her pants right before taking off in a hot air balloon. With some creative use of duct tape, she manages to get through the flight. After coming down to earth she sits down in some grass and not realizing that some of the sticky tape might be coming through she stands up to have "daisies" on her pants. It's cute and you know what? It could totally happen to all of us.

I have been to the UK and I can really relate to those moments of seeing some of the great treasures for the first time. The first time you see the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Crown Jewels is quite amazing. The main character also has a great love for English literature. I'm getting there but I do understand where she is coming from.

It's a light, fluffy read, perfect for an airplane or vacation read. It takes you away and you can't help but enjoy it. If you are a woman who loves to travel or just wants to travel I say pick these books up. The books do bring up Bible passages and the women usually have some sort of growth in their relationship with God but the books aren't overly preachy. Even if you aren't a Christian, you could easily read them for the adventures. Enjoy!

I Went Missing

Ok, I didn't really go missing but I lost focus on some things and this blog was one of them. I feel like I was in a fog of other things there for a week or two. I just couldn't concentrate on anything. To be fair there was a lot going on. We had a big family reunion so I was gearing up for that and now that it's over, it's taken me time to come down. This morning is the first that I feel I can focus. I've missed two Teaser Tuesdays, and two Booking Through Thursdays! I'm so sad. I'm going to make up for them on the absolute wrong days, but that's all right. It's my blog, there are no rules!