Books 2009

December 25 “An Irish Country Christmas” by Patrick Taylor.  I SO enjoyed listening to this audio book!  And what a perfect time of year to have been able to get it from the library.  I checked it out for three weeks starting in early December and finished the 13th and final disc on my drive home from work on Christmas Day.  I do believe that listening to this particular book may have made it even better than simply reading it.  The fantastic Irish accents used by the narrator rang on in my head long after the book was finished.  It’s set in 1964 and loosely based on Patrick Taylor’s own experiences as a country doctor in Ireland during that time.  The people in this book… from the doctors to the housekeeper to the townspeople, were fun and fascinating.  In a way, this book could be compared to James Herriot’s Yorkshire veterinary exploits (which I LOVED), but in human form, of course.  Patrick Taylor has written three of the Irish Country Doctor series, and I’ve read two.  Without a doubt I’ll be looking for the third next year! 

December 22  “Mudbound” by Hillary Jordan.  WOW.  What a book… this one captured me within the first few pages and never let me go.  Set in rural Mississippi in 1946, it tells the story of a family trying to make a living from the land – but more than that, it talks about the difficulty (impossibility!) of relationships between races in those days.  I could not lay this book down, it is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read all year.  In a refreshingly old-fashioned way, this book actually builds you up to a very climactic ending.  Numerous times as I was reading this book I thought, “this would be one heck of a great movie” – and it would.  Not an easy movie to watch, but OH, what a story it tells.  READ this book!

December 11 “Leap Into Darkness” by Leo Bretholz.  I borrowed this book from a friend at work – and wow, am I ever glad I did!  This biography is about a young Jewish man (age 18 at the beginning of WWII in Europe in 1938-9) who spends literally all of the war years on the run, trying to evade the Nazis’ and their death camps.  To read about this horrific part of history from a person who actually experienced it was amazing.  And harrowing.  And heart-wrenching.  This man actually jumped off a train that was on it’s way to Auschwitz – hence the name of the book, “Leap Into Darkness”.  His descriptions of what it was like to be inside that boxcar, headed to sure death was almost beyond human belief.  DO read this book if you are at all interested in WWII history or Holocaust history.

November 25 “A Girl Called Thursday” by Lilian Harry.  Well I’ll admit it,  I ate this book up!  It was set in Portsmouth England at the beginning of WWII, and it involved a Naval nurse and all of her experiences caring for the war wounded.  Yes, there was a little bit of romance thrown in – but it wasn’t cheesy or soppy, Ms Harry never does that.  She keeps it so true to life, making sure her characters live realistic lives to the time period… with all of life’s loss, heartbreak, and happiness as well.  I found out today that there is a sequel to this one, and YAY! it was available on Paperbackswap.com  – I can’t wait to start it!  I wonder if I will ever tire of this time period?  There was once a time I was sooooo hooked on reading anything about the American movement westward, Oregon Trail, covered wagons, etc.  Now it’s WWII and life on the ‘homefront’.  Well I hope my love for this era goes on a good long time because I’ve got quite a few books yet to read that are set in the 1940’s!

November 11 “Two in the Far North” by Margaret Murie.  This book sat in my “to-read” pile for several years… it kept finding itself further and further down the stack, upstaged by anything and everything else. The whole reason I grabbed this book years ago at a garage sale was because the title and author’s name caught my eye.  Long before, I remembered a John Denver CD where he wrote and dedicated a song to a woman (Mardy Murie) who was an old friend of his… someone who loved the outdoors like he did, adored her husband Olaus,  and wanted to preserve nature  particularly in Alaska.  On that CD he talks about the song before he sings it – and how Mardy (at that time) was 93 years old, and still referred to her long departed husband Olaus as her “beloved”.  He knew that they loved to dance, and said he imagined them dancing together out on the Arctic tundra with only the wind as the music.  Of course I loved this song, titled “A song for all Lovers”.  Do check that out if you are a John Denver fan like me.  Anyway, I was surprised to see that this woman had written a book about her life in Alaska – of course I nabbed it.  I am so glad that I finally got around to reading this account of life  in – and expeditions into Alaska way back in the 1920’s.  People were downright tough in those days!  I really enjoyed this book for many reasons, one more being that my own dad ventured into the “wilds” of Alaska as a young man, way back in the 1930’s.  If you enjoy biographies and nature, you will enjoy this captivating book.  By the way, Mrs Murie died in 2003 at the age of 101.Two in the far north

October 29 “The Lost Garden” by Helen Humphreys.  This book came to me from Paperbackswap.com (I sure love being a member. You find books you never dreamed were out there!).  Having read another book by this author  (“Coventry”) not long ago, I was ready to jump right in to the Lost Garden when I received it.  Despite all the great reviews this book has been lauded with, I found it slow, symbolic, and sad.  I love books set during WWII, especially ones set on the English “homefront”…. so the time period was right, but the book was – in my humble opinion – just sort of blah.  I’m not saying it was bad – it actually was okay.  But only okay.  I’m now ready to sink my teeth into something with just a tad more content.  the lost garden

October 24 “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout.  What a fantastic book!!!!!  I know this book won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and that may be what inspired me to have a look at it, but… oh my!  First let me say that younger readers (meaning anyone under the age of about 45! ha) most likely won’t love this novel like we “older” gals.  In a way, I think that creeping up to “older age” makes a person have a different perspective on a book that is primarily about an old woman.  There were times I wanted to yell at Olive, and other times I really thought I understood her.  A book that is an incorporation of short stories… another thing that I may not have jumped at when I was younger, but again – my gosh- this was a great format!!  Olive Kitteridge, a retired Math teacher from Maine,  manages to sneak her way into each and every story. Her neighbors, her husband, her son, his wife,  her co-workers,  etc -they all pop in to the stories.  I listened to the audio version of this book and absolutely LOVED the reader/narrator.  I highly recommend this one – especially if you are over 45!  I definitely plan to read more by Ms Strout.olive_kitteridge

October 15 “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield.  Mizsuzee read a mystery!!  Normally I stick with your basic historical fiction based on fact, or simple fiction, sometimes a true crime novel, or an occasional biography.  It’s a rare day when I pick up a mystery novel – read it – enjoy it thoroughly – and recommend it!  This book was not your average ‘whodunit’ murder mystery.  It was much more involved and really allowed your imagination to wander.  At times I thought I had it “figured out” but I’ll admit that even I was pretty much in the dark until the end, when all the secrets were revealed.  This book has received great reviews and I can see why.  The author is an excellent writer, not just in the subject matter but in the style as well.   Click on the link above, read the full review on Amazon, and decide if it’s for you.  One thing that I found fascinating was that much of the story was set in the Yorkshire Moors, an area that we actually explored not long ago on our trip to England – a place that is just as mysterious and bleak as described in this book. 13th tale

October 10 “Tallgrass” by Sandra Dallas.  This was an audio book I enjoyed SO MUCH, and the second book I have read by this author.  Set in 1940’s Colorado, it’s about an internment camp called “Tallgrass” where hundreds of Japanese people were shipped during WWII.  It’s not so much a book about the internment camp itself, as the families in the rural town and how they adapt – or don’t adapt.  The narrator was fantastic, the book was so well written that I am now going to get every book by this author!  I loved the other book of hers that I read, “Prayers for Sale” which I reviewed here in July.    If you have never listened to a recorded book (on tape or CD) – give one a try!  It’s like sitting on Granny’s lap as a young kid, listening to her read a wonderful book and do all the different voices of the different characters!  (I have great memories of my Granny reading to me)

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October 7 “The Lace Makers of Glenmara” by Heather Barbieri.  What a delightful book – well written and believable!  I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely book set in modern day Ireland.  It reminded me of an Irish version of one of the ‘Elm Creek Quilt’ books that I like so well (by Jennifer Chiaverini) or the “Friday Night Knitting Club”, or one of the pleasant Debbie Macomber books about the yarn shop on Blossom Street  —  You get to know all the members of a group of women who get together to make lace.  Life is not perfect in the tiny hamlet of Glenmara, these ladies struggle with real, normal, everyday problems like all of the rest of us.  I truly enjoyed every bit of this novel and highly recommend it.  Since it’s a new book (June ’09) I reserved mine from our local library.  This book is definitely worth a read 🙂Lacemakers

September 20 “Shanghai Girls” by Lisa See.  This is the third book I have read by author Lisa See.  The first one, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – I loved.  The second, Peony in Love – I thought I hated, but the more I thought about it, the more I was glad that I completed it.  Now we have Shanghai Girls. It was full of very interesting (although often horrible) history of China and Japan and how much the two countries did NOT get along.  How the two sisters made their way from China to America in the 1930’s was heart wrenching.  In fact, nearly ALL of this book was sad and rather depressing.  Loss, illness, and human atrocities were everywhere in this book.  I wasn’t at all impressed with the ending, either.  Maybe I need to become a little less critical, but Lisa See is going to have to come out with a doozy of a book for me to read another.

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August 30 “Skeletons at the Feast” by Chris Bohjalian.  Yikes!  Another book set during WWII.  Think I’ll ever tire of that era??  Well maybe, down the road a bit, but for now, I’m “eating” up this WWII history!  I loved this book.  Not because it was pleasant or nice in anyway.  It was horrifically realistic – and that’s what made it great – in my humble opinion.  This one was actually set in Germany at the end of the war.  It gave a very different perspective from a young German girl and her family, a Scottish prisoner of war, and a young German Jew who poses as an officer in the German army, to save his own skin.  I listened to the audio version of this book and the narrator was EXCEPTIONAL!  I loved all the accents he was able to do… jumping from a Scots accent to a very realistic German one.  If you’re a WWII nut like me, you’ll love this book too.skeletons

August 27 “Moonlight and Lovesongs” by Lilian Harry.  I’ve read quite a few books by Ms. Harry (an English author from Portsmouth), all of which surround the close knit community of “April Grove” in Portsmouth – before, during, and shortly after WWII.  I just love the way this author can bring ‘life on the homefront’ to life in such a realistic way.  Her books are woven with stories about the trials of everyday life, among everyday people.  The rationing, the changes in occupations for women, the stress of bombings and so much more – the difficulties that real people experienced during this unequaled time.  In this book she addressed many issues, including what it may be like to be newly married at the beginning of the war, and to almost never see your husband for five years…  Doesn’t sound like any fun to me, but I sure do enjoy reading about this time period.  Another great book by Lilian Harry!moonlight

August 13 “The Welsh Girl” by Peter Ho Davies.  This book sat on my to-read pile for over a year, which turned out to be a shame as it was a fantastic read.  It was set during WWII in Wales, with one main character being a young woman who lived on a sheep farm, and also worked at a nearby pub…. another main character is a German prisoner of war, stuck in a makeshift POW facility near the sheep farm.  Life towards the end of the war was depicted very honestly (I believe) and I sure hated to see this book end. the welsh girl

July 17 “Coventry” by Helen Humphreys.  It’s not news that I am now, and have been for a while, hooked on historical novels set in England during WWII.  This one particularly interested me because my dear husband was born and raised not far from Coventry in England.  The book focused mostly on the night of the worst bombing by Germany of Coventry on November 14, 1940.  It was interesting and gripping, and very true to fact in many ways I am sure.  I just wish the book had been longer.  It was more of a “novella” and I believe that the great characters who were portrayed so beautifully in just 180 pages could have easily been the subject of a “full blown” novel.  I love Ms Humphreys’ writing, and will most certainly read more by her.   Hopefully I will get to see the bombed Coventry Cathedral on our next trip to England.  It still stands, in ruins, near the new rebuilt Cathedral.Coventry

July 8 “Crossroads” by Belva Plain.  First off, I will preface this by saying that I have read every single one of Belva Plain’s books.  Some I have loved, some I have liked, & some I didn’t care for at all – not many in that category, however.  This book falls somewhere in the middle.  I liked it, it entertained me, I enjoyed the “happy” ending, but I didn’t love it.  It was a quick, easy read, set in modern day, and was sort of a good versus evil tale.  Ok, I’m one of those people who enjoys it when ‘good’ overcomes evil.  I’ll never change my mind though…. Ms Plain’s best book EVER was Evergreen, published way-back-when in 1980.  crossroads

July 7 “Prayers for Sale” by Sandra Dallas.  I listened to the audio version of this fantastic book and was actually sad when it was over.   Set high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the 1930’s we meet an elderly widow-woman (age 86) and a young married gal (in her 20’s).  How their lives intermingle in the small mining town of “Middle Swan” was so special.  I loved this book.  It highlights the fact that friendships between women are not limited to those of similar ages – and I loved how quilting played a big role in this book as well.  I highly recommend listening to this particular novel… the reader/narrator was fantastic.  At the end, she interviewed the author and even that was interesting.  I will most definitely read more by Sandra Dallas!prayers for sale

June 23  “Home Safe” by Elizabeth Berg.  For the most part, I love Elizabeth Berg’s novels.  This one… not so much.  In fact I disliked it enough to send an actual letter to the author.  Crazy, huh?  Well here’s what I wrote:

Dear Elizabeth Berg,

I have read many of your novels and have truly enjoyed them.  I obviously want you to know up-front that I am a “fan”.  However, (you knew that was coming, didn’t you) I was not impressed with your last book, Home Safe. In my very humble opinion, it seemed too autobiographical – and if it wasn’t, it certainly made me (your typical, average reader) think it was.  I was also rather amazed at the lack of content in that book.  I mean, OK, her husband died, left her a mansion, she had issues with her daughter – but to be honest, none of that, even put together was enough to base a novel on.  Teaching the creative writing class was a good addition, but again, I didn’t feel like the characters in the class were developed enough… and c’mon – what agent would come to a “reading” of a bunch of amateurs?  I just didn’t buy that part at all.  I couldn’t help but compare it to a fantastic book I read years ago titled Evening Class by Maeve Binchy.  Maybe it’s not fair to compare, but I couldn’t help it – it was in my head and wouldn’t leave.   Again, what do I know, I’m not a writer, just a reader – but I wanted to tell you how I felt.

Because I have a very long commute to work, I often listen to recorded books while driving.  I’ve listened to LOTS of books.  Now please don’t be offended, but Ms Berg please reconsider any ideas of recording your own books again.  I was so anxious to read Home Safe and when I got it, I was firstly disappointed to see that you were the narrator.  I was secondly disappointed after listening.  BUT, I am still a huge fan and will most definitely continue to read your books.  I want to end on a positive note and say how much I loved NEVER CHANGE, and THE DAY I ATE EVERYTHING I WANTED – a book I could really relate to!  As for Never Change, I am also a nurse (I know you are too) and thought you did an excellent job of presenting that story realistically and honestly.  I loved it.

Ok, that’s it.  I’m done.  Wishing you all the best!!

Well there it is…. and yes, I mailed it.  She has no email address, so snail mail it is.  Don’t bother to read this book.  Do check out the two books mentioned at the end of the letter, they’re great!  homesafe

June 12 “The Midwife: A memoir of birth, joy, and hard times” by Jennifer Worth.  I wanted to love this book, set in the early 1950’s in east end London.  Parts of it I did love.  Other parts simply didn’t hold my interest.  I guess, being a neonatal nurse the parts that were particularly enjoyable to me were the stories of the women and their birth experiences.  Not as interesting were the details of life in a nunnery – some of the nuns were midwives and the ones that were not, lived there also.  I really thought I’d “eat this book up”, but alas, I picked it over and “ate” the best parts.  midwife

June 3  “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory.   I picked this book up at a garage sale or possibly the Goodwill store and thought in the back of my mind that I’d probably never read it. After all, I’ve never been one to look to the 1500’s for my historical fiction fix.  I think the whole reason I decided to try this book was that it did receive so many fantastic reviews, and the girls at work also said it was one of those “must reads”.  Well, everyone was right!  I could barely lay this one down.  I was nearly as fascinated with my own reaction to this book, as to the book and the interesting subject matter itself!  I have never “cared” about Kings and certainly not Henry the 8th!  But I was totally captivated by this one. Taken from the view of Mary Boleyn, sister to the famous Queen Anne Boleyn, we saw all the treachery and scheming it took to survive in the King’s court back in those days.  It was amazing also to see the way women were treated as pawns… just a playing piece for the family to use to better their standing.  Of course this is a work of fiction, but I believe it’s based carefully on fact – and – I never thought I’d say this….  I can’t wait to read more about the successive wives of Henry VIII.  And to think I’d always viewed Philippa Gregory’s novels as “trashy romance”.  Wrong.  Very, very wrong.  other_boleyn_girl

May 25 “Handle With Care” by Jodi Picoult.  This is the brand new book by Ms. Picoult and I managed to snag it from our local library.  I listened to the audio edition which took me quite a while since it encompassed 15 CD’s!  In a nutshell, it was about having a child with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease).  The parents of this child decide to file a lawsuit for “wrongful birth” – not because they don’t love their daughter and wish she’d never been born, but mostly to rake in some much needed money to pay for her care.  You know, I thoroughly enjoyed this book (despite two or three little items that left me thinking, “uhhh, there’s no way THAT could have happened”) – right up until the end.  And I really mean THE END… the last bit of the last chapter.  It was a cheesy, lame, “easy” ending for the author, and I’m sure glad I didn’t know how it would turn out during the 15 hours I actually enjoyed this book.   What I will say is : Jodi Picoult’s audio books are awesome.  She hires different people to read the parts of each main character.  Listening is a delight!!  handle with care

May 8 “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.  I just may be the last person (of my age group) to read this book, published originally in 1943.  I loved this book!  It’s truly a classic about the “coming of age” of a young girl in Brooklyn, NY in the early part of the 1900’s.  So true to real life and full of detail of the time period.  I remember this was “suggested reading” when I was in school, and for some reason I never read it.  After finishing it, I decided that I appreciated it more as an adult, than I ever could have as a young girl.  If you haven’t read it, DO.   tree in brooklyn

May 2 “The Winding Ways Quilt” by Jennifer Chiaverini.  This is book #12 in the Elm Creek Quilt series.  I have read them all and enjoyed them all.  I feel like I actually know the women who gather at Elm Creek Manor to teach the quilting classes.  None of these books are ‘heavy’ reading… no, it was a quick, light read that was oh so enjoyable.  I’m not a quilter, and still these books are appealing.  In this volume, Chiaverini rehashes some things that we already knew about our friends, the quilters – but she adds bits and pieces that we didn’t know to complete the big picture in many ways.  Of course, plenty was left un-done as well, so we would look forward to book #13 – the book in which we all hope will bring the birth of Sarah’s twins!!  winding-ways-quilt

April 21 “All Other Nights” by Dara Horn.   Amazon.com recommended this book to me, but as the thrifty, frugal person I sometimes try to be, I checked it out from our local library.  It is set during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and goes from New York City to Richmond Virginia, to New Orleans, Washington DC, and other sites that were involved in “the war between the states”.  I enjoy historical novels that are based on fact, and although the author does take some literary license, this one was.  What intrigued me was the “Jewish” element in this book.  The main characters in this novel were Jewish, and I do believe it’s safe to say that unbeknownst to many of us, “Hebrews” (as they are referred to in the book) played an important part in the formation of our country.  This is actually a spy novel where the main character crosses enemy lines many times, with different missions.  In one mission he is asked to murder his uncle.  In another he is told to marry one of the 4 daughters of Philip Levy.  What they didn’t ask him to do was to fall in love with the one he chose to marry.  It certainly kept my attention all the way through, and if you are interested in either Jewish history or Civil War history, it’s a great read. allothernights

April 6 “The Plain Truth”by Jodi Picoult.  This is an audio book (14 CD’s) that I really enjoyed during my weekly drive to Seattle.  A mix of a mystery, a hint of romance, and a lot about the “plain” lifestyle.  An 18 year old Amish girl is on trial for the murder of her newborn child.  I particularly love the two narrators in this audio book – I think they added to the already pretty darned good story!  I don’t like everything Jodi Picoult has written, but for the most part her books are quite good.  My favorite of hers is still “My Sister’s Keeper”(read in 2008).  plain_truth_jodi_picoult

March 26 “The House by Princes Park” by Maureen Lee.  I finished this book on our recent vacation.  Had plenty of time to read in the airport and on the flights!  At any rate, as is always the case with any of Ms. Lee’s books, I really enjoyed it.  It starts out during WWI when the main character, Ruby, is born – and follows her life through WWII, the turbulent 60’s, all the way to the new millenium.  I love books like this, family sagas.  As with most of Maureen Lee’s books, this one was also set in Liverpool, England.  I have never yet been disappointed in any of her books, and am happy to report that I’ve got several more of her great novels on my “to read” pile!

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March 5 “The Patron Saint of Liars” by Ann Patchett.   This is Ann Patchett’s first novel, written in 1992.   Many of the girls at work had recommended her books and when I saw this one at a library sale for a dollar, I thought I’d give it a try.  The premise intrigued me.  It was set in a home for “unwed mothers”, in 1968 Kentucky.  The main character, Rose, was pregnant but NOT unwed.  She simply thought she didn’t want to keep her baby, and she wasn’t too keen on keeping her husband either.   To say too much more would give away the plot of a book that kept me interested the entire time.  If you like the kinds of books with happy endings (and I’ll admit that often I do), skip this one.  It was much more “real life” in it’s ending.  I will definitely read more by Ms Patchett.

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February 28 “Peony in Love” by Lisa See.   About a year ago I read “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by the same author and truly enjoyed it.   Of course I thought it might be a good idea to try her newest book – Peony in Love.  Other than the fact that both books were set in ancient China, there was absolutely NO resemblance.  I really struggled to get through Peony.   The vast majority of this book was focused on the “afterlife” of a dead woman, Peony.   I find the beliefs presented here totally UN-believable, personally – but on the other hand, it was somewhat fascinating to learn the lore that was (is still?) part of a culture.   At the end of the book we learn that many of the events that happened in the book were true.  The opera that was a focus of this book “The Peony Pavillion” is real.  The book written by the three wives is real.  The fact that many young women starved themselves due to “lovesickness” was real.  Despite all this, unless you are interested in Chinese history and how women have evolved in Chinese culture, this may not be a book for you.

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February 18 “The Way the Crow Flies” by Ann-Marie MacDonald.   This is a book I have had for several years… just waiting for the right moment to read it, I guess.  It’s written by a Canadian author and we actually purchased this book on one of our jaunts to Canada.  It’s a “biggie”, over 700 pages, and I knew it would take me a while to read it.  Maybe it’s the size that kept me from starting this book, not sure.  Anyway, once I started it, I could barely lay it down.  Set in the early 1960’s with the main character a young girl aged 8-9 and her family life on a RCAF base in southern Ontario.  I enjoyed this book on many levels.  All the references to what daily life was like back in the early 60’s was quite nostalgic for me.   On the other hand, this was definitely NOT just a “woman’s” book.  There were lots of references to WWII, the Cold War, Communism, defecting from Germany and Russia, the “arms race”, as well as the “space race”.  I ticked along, reading my little heart out for over 500 pages, and then.  Then it was as if the story was done, ended… with nearly 200 pages left!  SO STRANGE.  I struggled through the last 200 pages and I’m glad that I did.  I got some closure on the mystery of who killed the little girl on that sunny April day.  And who didn’t.   (that is not a “spoiler”.  You know from page one that a little girl is found dead at some point.)  I have Ms MacDonald’s other novel (Fall on Your Knees, an Oprah selection) and will surely read it someday.

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February 3 “The Outcast” by Sadie Jones.  I listened to this book on CD after picking it up on a whim at the library.  The premise sounded interesting, I needed a new book to listen to on my long drive, so I grabbed it.  Set in England in the late 40’s and early to mid 50’s this book was extremely well written about a boy who witnesses the drowning of his mother and how his life changes (obviously for the worse!) afterwards.  His father is not very loving or supportive, he becomes the “weirdo” in the neighborhood, he burns down the local church, he starts cutting himself, he goes to jail, he gets accused of crimes he did not commit, he has an affair with his step mother… you get the picture.  This was not a happy, feel-good book at all.  In fact I really struggled to get through it.  I’m not normally interested in reading anything quite so ‘dark’ and depressing – and had I known how sad it was, I’m pretty sure I’d have never started it.  Anyway, I did enjoy it in an odd sort of way… in the sense that it was so well written (and narrated, for that matter) that I could actually SEE the people in this novel, their expressions, everything.  After finishing it, I discovered that the author had won the 2008 Costa First Novel Award in Britain.  Their judges had this to say:  “This book’s portrayal of pain makes it a riveting and heartbreaking read – it’s rare for a first novel to be this assured.”  Personally, I’m hoping to find something a little less melancholy next time.the-outcast


January 30 “The Shack” by William Paul Young.  This has been a bestseller for months.  Numerous people I know have read it, many have loved it, some have hated it, and I figured it was time to read it for myself and draw my own conclusions.   Since people tend to either LOVE it or HATE it, I was surprised to find that I did neither.   On the negative side, I was less than thrilled with the quality of the writing, some of the theology presented, and some of the descriptions.  On the positive side,  I did like some of the points that were front and center in this book.  God truly loves us.  God wants what’s best for us.  We shouldn’t judge people.  We will be much happier if we trust in God and believe He has a plan for our lives.  Forgiveness is a good thing. I’m happy that this book has brought many people more in touch with God.  I just can’t seem to jump up on my soapbox and tout it’s praises. theshack1

January 27 “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks.   An interesting title for a book set in rural England 1666 – the year the Black Plague made it’s way around England.  I rarely read a book set in this time period, but this one was really written well.  The author used lots of “Olde English” verbage which sometimes made sense to me and other times didn’t!  Still, the book had a great story (based on fact, with some literary license taken) and I really enjoyed it.

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January 8  “Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir” by Frank McCourt.  I think I may be one of the last people in America to finally read this Pulitzer Prize winning book.  Normally, I don’t put a lot of stock in “prize winning” books, Pulitzer, Oprah, or otherwise.  I didn’t this time either.  I had simply heard from various people that this was an excellent book, and being generally interested in “Irish settings” thought I might enjoy it.  Well… “enjoy it” does not even come close.  This was truly one of the best books I have EVER READ!  In a way it reminded me of one of my very favorite movies, “Forrest Gump”.  No, not the story line in any way, but the fact that this book had me running the gauntlet of emotion.  One minute I’m literally laughing out loud, and the next I’m in dispair.  Reading this book was like having Frank McCourt the author right here next to me, telling me the story of his young life (the first 19 years) in person.  If you are like me… thinking, “oh, I’ll get around to reading that someday….” all I can say is: Don’t wait.  This is truly an incredible read!

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I really enjoyed chronicling my adventures in reading last year and have decided to continue on this year.  My plan is to add small pictures of the book to each of my mini-reviews, in an attempt to add a bit of interest.  As soon as I’ve finished my first book for 2009, I’ll post it here… be watching! 🙂

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