Books 2010

December 27  “Mother of Pearl” by Maureen Lee.  Well folks, she’s done it again; written a delightful book this time set in both the WWII years and in the early 1970’s.  It’s a book about a mother and a daughter (hence the time span), how their lives were separated and then reunited.  Pearl’s mother Amy was convicted of murdering her husband, Pearl’s father, and spent 20 years in jail for the crime.  While that may sound like a bit of a lame story line, it really worked.   Really enjoyed this quick read.

Early December  “The Red Queen” by Philippa Gregory.  This was an audio book with MANY CD’s to listen to (unabridged version) that took me 6 weeks of driving to finally finish.  Now that may sound like it was a drudge, but actually it wasn’t!  There were some bits that dragged along rather slowly and could have been left out, but for the most part, I found it very interesting.  I had not read the first book in Ms Gregory’s current trilogy entitled “The White Queen” but it didn’t matter.  These books definitely stand alone.  This one was all about Margaret Beaufort who spent her entire adult life trying to do all she could to get her son, Henry Tudor, on to the English throne.  We all know how it ends.. but how she goes about things was fascinating – that is if you are at all interested in English history.  Again I will say that Ms Gregory thoroughly and meticulously researches her subjects and while it is fiction per se, it is certainly based on fact.  I knew little or nothing about the War of the Roses, but couldn’t help but learn a lot about it in this novel.  The audio version was particularly well read –  and made listening easy.

November  “No Angel” by Penny Vincenzi.  This was one HUGE book!  It took me nearly an entire month to read at 675 pages of small print.  However, it was sure worth it.  In intriguing story set in England starting in about 1909 and going through the early 1930’s, it followed the lives and adventures of the Lytton family.   Since it’s a rather large extended family, you soon get to know a LOT of characters in this awesome book.  I never found it difficult to keep track of these totally interesting people!  There was everything you’d hope to find in a saga like this one: love, deceit, scandal, war, loss, etc etc.  This was the first book in a trilogy by Ms Vincenzi, an English author who has written heaps of books.  It was also the first of hers I’ve ever read.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to read the two sequels!  Simply a fantastic novel.

October 26 “Whiter Than Snow” by Sandra Dallas.  I have read and thoroughly enjoyed several books by this lovely author, and this one was no exception.  It was an audio book which was well read/narrated and a joy to listen to.  In a way this book was a compilation of short stories about the lives of several groups of people who lived in Swandyke Colorado -a mining town in the Rocky Mountains, circa 1920.   At the end, a large avalanche happens, several children from the town are swept up in it, and you get to see how all these people you’ve met along the way interact with each other.  I haven’t read a Sandra Dallas book that I didn’t enjoy and again recommend this, her latest work.

October 22 “The 19th Wife” by David Ebershoff.  This book weaves together the past and present amazingly well as the author tells us about  Ann  Eliza Young, 19th wife of Brigham Young … and a young man from modern day polygamist culture.  I found this book fascinating and crazy at the same time.  Personally I just can’t get my head around the polygamist lifestyle at all. And yet, Brigham Young (1800’s Prophet of the LDS church) insisted that “celestial marriage” (polygamy) was the route to heaven. Ann Eliza Young was, in the mid 1800’s one of the first to denounce polygamy and was a definite force in encouraging the church to finally change it’s official view  of plural marriage. Much of the historical story in this book was based on fact.  The modern day segment of the book was fictional – and yet, I think it too was based carefully upon research of day-to-day life in a polygamist colony, and how it may feel to grow up as a part of that culture.  There was a murder mystery involved as well, and honestly, I really enjoyed the book while simultaneously abhorring the life that early Mormons were encouraged (and often forced) to live.

On a similar note, I’ve been glued to the TV of late, watching a reality show called “Sister Wives”.  It is about real-life people (four wives and a husband) in Utah who still believe in the polygamist life style.  First off, I guess it must have been the money that persuaded these people to share their illegal way of living to “the world”.  No surprise, I recently heard that the husband is now being investigated by the authorities for bigamy.  I presume it’s the same “authorities” who shake their heads and look the other way 99% of the time.  Whatever.  I guess, after reading the above book, it really did make me think that as consenting adults they can live any way they want… but it seems that the eventual kids that come into the picture are the ones that pay the price.

October 10 “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake.  For starters, I liked but did not love this book.  It took me forever to read which was extremely frustrating!  I listened to 98% of this book via CD and must say two things about the audio version.  The reader/narrator has an excellent voice and was wonderful to listen to…. however, this book was quite hard to follow at the beginning when listening and driving.  I really had to concentrate on what was happening in the book – which could be (but thankfully wasn’t) detrimental to one’s driving capabilities.  It is set in London and Cape Cod, 1940 before the US had gotten into WWII, but when Britain was in the process of fighting for her life.  It interconnected the lives of three American women, one a radio reporter, one a small town doctor’s wife, and one – a postmistress (duh).  It was as I said a good but not “great” novel.  In one section I was literally riveted to the story, and then…. just as we are about to reach our climactic ending, the CD stopped.  No joke, the last CD did not have the entire ending of the book on it!  What to do????  Well, I hung in suspension for a couple of weeks until I could get the book from the library and read the final 20 or so pages.  If you’re a WWII buff/nut like I am, it’s a worthwhile read.  If not, well… so many great books, so little time.  Choose something else.

September 26 “The Best of Catherine Marshall”.  This book was one I picked up sort of on a whim at a library book sale.  It had no dust cover, just the book itself, but something about it drew me in.  I thoroughly enjoyed this very inspirational book.  Catherine was a very spiritual woman who had a lot of ups an downs in life and she talked about them all.  How God was with her in the good times and the bad.  How at one time she felt so far away from God and how she was drawn near again.  Excellent inspirational reading by the author of one of my favorite girlhood novels, “Christy”.

September 11 “The Queen Mother: The Official Biography” by William Shawcross.  Strange as it seems, today I’m almost feeling bereft, as if I’ve lost a dear friend.  Over the past several weeks I have enjoyed reading about this wonderful lady, one I only remember as “old” but who obviously was young once and given a huge and rather unexpected almost life-long challenge, that of being Queen of England.  I learned that she turned down a marriage proposal THREE times before she finally said “yes” and married Prince Albert (later to become King George VI), never dreaming that her brother in law would abdicate the throne and how that would change her life forever.  She lived from 1900 until 2002.  One thing that really struck me was not only her love and loyalty to her country, but her faith in God which often came through in her addresses to her nation.  Back then it was okay to tell the war torn people of Britain to pray and ask for God’s help to carry on.  I will admit that I didn’t read every single page of this very long book (over 1000 pages), but I did read the vast majority of it and found it all terribly interesting.  If you are even a bit of an Anglophile, you’ll enjoy this book immensely as I did.

 

September 8 “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Margaret Mayhew.  I did it again, I slipped back into the 1940’s, WWII, and England – still my current favorite historical time period.  I’ve read at least one other book by Margaret Mayhew, an English author who loves to write about my favorite time period.  In real life she is married to an American, so often her books include Americans in them.  This one was about an English woman who finds out her father wasn’t really the nice English gentleman she knew her entire life, that he was instead an American (gasp!!) that her mother had a wartime romance with.  Okay, sort of a cheesy plot  – not her best work in my humble opinion.  Still, it managed to keep my attention and I did rather enjoy it.  A depth of character is missing however, and because of that I may not read any more by this author.  I really like a book that lets me sink my teeth into the characters as well as the time period.  This one was a bit too shallow on both accounts.

September 5 “Summer on Blossom Street” by Debbie Macomber.  This is the fourth book (I believe) written by Ms Macomber that is set surrounding a fictional Seattle area yarn shop and it’s owner and patrons.  I listened to the audio version of this book which was read by ‘Delilah’.  Some people might know her from her radio show that is on many stations on weeknights.  At first, her syrupy sweet voice about did me in.  But after a couple of discs I guess I got immune to her sounding happy all the time, even when things in the book were not going so great.  I also thought at the beginning that it was going to be a super cheesy novel, but was pleasantly surprised that it actually took a few unexpected turns and ended up being a lovely, light read.  Ms Macomber left the door wide open for many additional volumes surrounding the Blossom Street characters.  Yep, I’ll read them all.  🙂

August 21 “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.  Now folks, THIS WAS ONE HECK of a novel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I loved loved loved this book and in contrast to the one I finished one day earlier (Black Hills, see below) it was night and day.  There was a story to be told here… something unpredictable… interesting and fascinating.  You can read the synopsis anywhere (click on my link to Amazon, above) so I won’t repeat it all here.  What I will say is: READ THIS BOOK. It’s stupendous.  Honestly.

August 19 “Black Hills” by Nora Roberts.  I have two questions.  One.  Why is Nora Roberts such a huge best-selling author?  Two.  Why do I EVER listen to any of her audio books?  I will attempt to answer both questions.   Number one:  She is a huge best-selling author because a lot of people out there don’t  crave a darn good story and are perfectly happy for her novels to run their very typical course.  They are all essentially the same (sort of like Danielle Steel).  Heroine meets hero;  they fall “in love”; they have a falling out; some major crisis occurs; they get back together.  Yep, all her novels are the same, only the names and the places are different.  Answer to question two: Why do I keep listening to the audio books…. well… it’s idiocy really.  I must be hoping that one of these days one of her books will actually VEER from the typical story line.  I’ve been wrong every time and… note to self: Don’t do it again. This book wasn’t awful.  It was just so typical and predictable, and folks, those sexy scenes don’t add a thing to the book or the story.  It was simply a disappointment and what I now want to think of as a learning experience. No more Nora Roberts for me.  Sigh.

August 11 “Hope” by Lesley Pearse.  First off, I have read several books by this great British author and  have truly enjoyed them all.  However…. I just hate how she titles most of her books (a woman’s first name) and I also hate the cover art.   The story was MUCH more complicated than  implied by the title – which would have been  the story of one woman.  It was a tale of an entire family (yes, focusing on the youngest member, Hope) and a community in the British midlands (near Bath and Bristol) in the mid 1800’s.  This book took me over a month to read and it’s a biggie – 650 pages – but well worth the time.  I enjoyed it thoroughly although when the author began describing tons of detail of the Crimean War, I will admit I skimmed over a bit of that section.  I have more by this author in my “to-read” pile – Yay!  What I love about this book (and other similar books by some of my favorite English authors) is that it is a wonderful, detailed tale – peoples lives are woven together in realistic detail and no silly romantic “fluff” that drives me NUTS nowadays.   Oh yes, there is “love” in these novels, but thankfully we don’t need to know the graphic details of it!

July 12 “The Art of Mending” by Elizabeth Berg.  This was an audio book I was able to complete after only two trips to Seattle.  First off, I have read plenty of Elizabeth Berg novels in the past, and I normally enjoy them – with one or two exceptions.  This one was actually quite good, blissfully NOT read by the author, and in my humble opinion very well written as well.  I wondered how I was going to describe this rather deep novel about family relationships… and have decided that I’ll leave it at that.  It completely kept my interest and yep, I’d definitely recommend this one.

July 8 “Heaven-My Father’s House” by Anne Graham Lotz.  This is the first book I’ve read by the daughter of the Rev Billy Graham and I truly enjoyed it.  It’s a very small book but does a good job of assuring us about our future home in heaven, what heaven will be like, who will be there, and just how we can be admitted through the pearly gates.  I now have both my parents waiting for me in heaven, as well as aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  I guess when your parents are gone, you know that in the natural progression of things, that YOU are next on “the list”.  I’m not in a hurry to get there, but I know it will be a wonderful place when I do.  A very comforting and inspiring book, for me at least.

July 1 “The Heretic’s Daughter” by Kathleen Kent.  So, I’m a lover of historical fiction… especially those books based carefully upon fact.  I believe that this book was well researched as to the actual events of the day – the day being 1692 and the Salem Witch Trials.  This author is apparently directly related to the main character in this book, Martha Carrier.  There was quite a bit to this book besides the witch trials.  The beginning of the book was rich in early American history – how a typical family may have lived during that time period.  About halfway through this book, the focus changes to how (what seem to be and highly likely were) bogus charges of witchcraft were put upon many people in Salem and the nearby towns… how they were convicted… and how they were executed.  I must be one heck of a wimp because I had nightmares about this book two nights in a row!  I’m sure there are several other books on this dark period of our history, but I’m not convinced I’ll be reading them.

June 14 “Candle in the Darkness” by Lynn Austin.  This was an audio book with 13 sound discs which took me weeks to finish.  That said, it was a good book with a very interesting perspective on the Civil War from a Southerner’s point of view….however Caroline was not your typical Southerner.  She risked her own safety many times to assist the Union troops and do what she could to help free the slaves.  In some ways this book was simply too basic and a fair part of the time I felt like it was excessively wordy – shoot, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Well okay, I liked it but I didn’t love it.  I did love the narrator, Christina Moore, who does one heck of a great job!

On another note, I am still trying to read “The Help”.  I checked it out from our local library but because it is in such demand I had to return it today.  I got to chapter 23 and was loving this book!!!! It about killed me to have to drop that thing in the box.  I’m too cheap to go out and buy a copy, so I’ll be re-ordering it from the library soon!  What an extraordinary book it is, and to think this is Kathryn Stockett’s debut work!  More on this one later.

June 3 “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton.  This is the second book for Australian author Kate Morton and what a work of art it is!  I read her first book “The House at Riverton” sometime back and totally loved it.  When I finished it, I worried that she would have a hard time following it up with something similarly great.  I needn’t have worried for dear Ms Morton.  She’s got a miraculous grip on the English language and a flair for words that is a real gift.  This is a bit of a complicated novel, spanning four generations  over 100 years, several large oceans, and two continents.  It is full of mystery and secrets, long kept.  The storyline is intertwined and intermingled from “then to now” in brilliant form.  Being quite a long book (550 pages, paperback) it may be a bit of an undertaking for some, but what a long and delicious read it was!  Sometimes it can become a bit wordy, but if you enjoy picture perfect descriptions of places and people, you won’t be disappointed.  Just for the record, I’m no longer worried that Ms Morton can do it again.  I’m convinced she not only can, but will.  I can’t wait.

May 10 “Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls.  Earlier this year I read the strange and fascinating autobiography by Jeannette Walls entitled, “The Glass Castle”.  When I heard she had another book out, I simply had to read it.  Thinking it would never be able to come close to The Glass Castle, setting my expectations low, I dove in.  Boy was I ever wrong! I loved this book from the first word to the last.  This one was  all about Lily Casey Smith,  Ms Walls’ grandmother and set mostly in west Texas and Arizona, starting in the very early 1900’s and ending about the time Jeannette Walls’ parents got married which was about 1960 or thereabouts.  Granny was one TOUGH woman and her adventures in life were many.  Imagine riding a horse 500 miles across the desert – alone!  It took her about a month, and she camped out every night.  That was just one of many interesting tales in this fantastic book.  I highly recommend both books by Ms Walls.  How she can possibly follow up these two remains to be seen.

May 3 “True Colors” by Kristin Hannah.  This is the first novel I’ve read by Ms Hannah.  I think I grabbed it because I’d heard through the grapevine that she is a “good” author and the audio version was available at our local library.   I believe she lives here in Washington state and her settings are usually “local” – as was this book, set along the shores of Hood Canal.  I can’t give this book rave reviews, and yet, I can’t say it really stunk either.  It kept my interest (more or less) throughout the entire unabridged book which encompassed just about 14 hours of listening.  The plot was not a new one.  Three sisters are each faced with life’s difficulties, and in the end sticking together and “family” is what wins out.  I think the book was a bit wordy at times… the author probably could have cut out 50 or so pages of either non relevant or repeated information, and yet, it was fairly enjoyable.   I do plan to read at least one more by this author, “Firefly Lane” which is about two girls growing up in the 70’s… something I can certainly relate to!

April 30Hidden Places” by Lynn Austin.  Back in Feb of this year, I read (actually listened to) a great book by Lynn Austin entitled A Woman’s Place. I enjoyed it SO much that I decided to give another of her highly rated books a try.  This time it was set in the early 1930’s in the midst of the “Great Depression”.  A young mother becomes a widow and has to cope with life on a fruit farm without her husband.  A “hobo” comes to her door, ill and hungry.  She takes him in and the rest is history so to speak.  Everyone in the book has a past life that they apparently are hiding.  Of course during the book everyone spills the beans about their past lives.  Sigh.  I have to say that this book started out fairly good, but you know it’s just not “great” when you find yourself skimming the last 50 or so pages.  I’ll try another Lynn Austin book one of these days – preferably in audio form. April 14 “The Victory Club” by Robin Lee Hatcher.  Way back in the 1980’s I used to enjoy books by Ms Hatcher, but back then her books were mostly all historical romance novels.   Romance novels are NOT MY THING anymore, so I have pretty much ignored anything by this author.  Then, after listening to and thoroughly enjoying “A Woman’s Place” by Lynn Austin, this book was  mentioned as suggested reading.  Thanks to our local library, I obtained a copy on audio CD and was once again happily surprised at how much I liked it.  Set in Boise, Idaho in 1942-44 it was about a group of women and how they lived their lives on the homefront during WWII, while most of the husbands/boyfriends were away.  This book is Christian historical fiction and I’m finding I like it more and more these days.  The women were portrayed very realistically, not sugarcoated goody two shoes types, and the trials they faced were honest ones.  I love how the now inspirational author, Ms Hatcher, was able to weave into this novel our dependence on Christ and all of His promises to us.  If you like history, if you like Christian fiction, you’ll enjoy this book!  I sure did.

April 12 “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana DeRosnay.  Here we have yet another book set partly during WWII.  I am still very interested and intrigued in the era, how the war affected regular citizens and their everyday lives.  This book started out on the premise of Jewish people being “rounded up” in Paris, by French police to be eventually transported to Auschwitz.  Sarah was a young girl, age 10, who was “rounded up” that fateful day in July 1942 and hid her four year old brother in a “secret cupboard” to keep him safe, and kept the key with her — until the time when she could come back and set him free.  With all that said, I was very interested in reading this book.  It’s getting a 4-star review rating at Amazon.com, and people at work have said great things about the book.  It really DID start out good… and while it was fiction, it was based carefully on fact.  Then.  Then the author decided to mix in a person set in modern day, researching this horrible French “round up” of Jewish people.  There were several instances of discrepancies throughout the story… on one page Sarah had blue eyes, and 50 pages later she had green eyes.  Hmmmm.  You’d think the editors or the author herself would notice tidbits like that.  Towards the end, the author really ruined the book – in my humble opinion.  She managed to find a (cheesy) way to intermingle the family of Sarah and this woman in the year 2002.  C’mon.  I really prefer books that stay realistic and believable. So, in summation, the book was quite good for at least two-thirds the way through.  The last third… well, it was more like a modern day family saga/romance – which truly disappointed me.  Apparently a lot of people enjoyed it however, so maybe it’s ME that’s messed up!!

April 3 “The Boleyn Inheritance” by Philippa Gregory.  This book was written as a sequel of sorts to The Other Boleyn Girl, also by Ms Gregory.  I knew going in to this one that it would be very very hard to top The Other Boleyn Girl for intrigue and history – and I was right.  This book was excellent and I enjoyed it very much – but it wasn’t quite as thrilling as TOBG.  That said,  being recently very interested in English Tudor history, this book really hit the spot for me.  I learned (through Ms Gregory’s literary license) how Henry  the VIII ended up with Anne of Cleves as his 4th queen, how he disposed of her,  how he happened to choose silly little Katherine Howard, and how he “disposed” of her also.   It was a good book, not a great book, and I do intend at some point to read the next one -“The Queen’s Fool” – but not right away.  A little of “courtier life” goes a long way for me.  On another note, the final season of The Tudors starts on April 11th on Showtime.  Nope, we don’t get Showtime – but it won’t be too long till it’s out on DVD.  What an awesome series!! March 13 “A Promise to Keep” by Lilian Harry.  This book is a sequel to “A Girl Called Thursday” which I read last year and thoroughly enjoyed.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, the sequel was not nearly as good as the original.  It was still enjoyable and interesting in parts, but definitely did NOT keep my attention like the first.  Again, it was set during WWII in a Naval hospital outside of Portsmouth England.  Again, it followed the life of a “nurse” (really more of a nursing assistant) through some of the rough days of the war.  I found this book to be much too repetitive and wordy, while saying very little!  Also, it was too much like the first book in my humble opinion.   Ms  Harry should have written ONE book about this nurse and left it at that.  She struggled for content in book two.  Bummer.

February 26 “East of the Sun” by Julia Gregson.  I feel like a bit of a failure here.  I have read quite a few reviews about this book and most are quite good, but what I have to say is so opposite of what “most” people say.  The book started out great… three women (and a young man) all on their way to India from England, circa 1928.  In fact, this book stayed good until beyond half way through… and then, in my humble opinion, it began to wither.  And dwindle.  And finally it petered out – for me.  The story lines and the characters became downright boring. With so many (hopefully) good books awaiting me, I decided to skim to the end of this one and call it done.  I’m disappointed.  I wanted to love this book, but there was no chance it was going to happen.  Skip it, unless you like silly romance with boorish men and mindless women as the main focus.  OK, only one of the women was totally mindless. The other two were borderline!

February 22 “A Woman’s Place” by Lynn Austin.    This was a wonderful book that I enjoyed so much I wanted it to go on and on and on!  First let me say that I’ve never read anything by Lynn Austin before but I was very impressed.  For me, this book was even better because I listened to the audio version narrated by one of the BEST, Christina Moore.  I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction, but I will without a doubt be reading more by this author.   Ms Austin is  an excellent writer with story lines that are totally believable and so true to real life.  A Woman’s Place is about the lives of four American women who begin to work at a shipyard, building landing craft during World War Two.  Soon their lives begin to intermingle well beyond the scope of the shipyard.   Ms Austin doesn’t “slam Christianity down your throat” on every other page.  She mixes in themes of Faith and God and coming to Christ in very real and honest ways.  I loved this book and can’t wait to read more by this talented author. 

February 7 “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity: A Memoir” by Bill O’Reilly.  I just finished listening to the audio version (unabridged) of this book and thoroughly enjoyed it!  For once, having a book read by the author was a GOOD thing.  It was like Bill O’Reilly talking just to me 🙂  Anyway, as Bill oft says on his show “my life is your life, you’ll relate to this stuff” – and it was really true.  Bill, born in 1949,  came from a humble working class background in New York State.  His “rise to fame” was a long one, one he worked hard for and earned.  He shares tidbits of his life growing up in private Catholic schools, his college years, how he still cherishes his oldest friends, but most of all the simple philosophy he lives by…  He believes that “Either you fight active evil or you accept it.  Doing nothing is acceptance.  There is no in-between.”  Then he says “When it is all over ,when you are dead…your legacy will be defined by two simple questions: How many wrongs did you right? And how many people did you help when they needed it?”  Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue with that philosophy.

January 30  “Noah’s Compass” by Anne Tyler.  I like Anne Tyler, I really do.  I also liked this brand new book of hers that I nabbed from our local library.   Ms Tyler is truly an excellent writer because she wrote (in my humble opinion) a very good book about next to nothing.  Not just anybody can do that.  Had I attempted to read this book when I was 20 years younger, I’m not at all sure I could have suffered through it.  But…. since I am now “older” (yikes) I was able to appreciate the main character’s  reflections on his life, now that he’s reached the ripe old age of 60.  You learn a lot about his two failed marriages, a little about his interaction with his grown daughters and aged father, and a moderate amount about his short-lived girlfriend.  You learn that Liam likes to live very modestly, doesn’t own a TV, enjoys reading philosophy books.  What I truly couldn’t get a grip on was the title.  At one point in the book Liam is telling his 4 year old grandson a bit about the Bible character, Noah.  The grandson asks if Noah had a sail boat.  Liam replies that no, Noah just had a floating boat… he didn’t need a sail or a compass or a sextant because he wasn’t going anywhere.  He was just bobbing around, waiting for the waters to recede.  Maybe Liam saw himself not going anywhere, not needing a compass, much like Noah?  Whatever it is, it’s a good book and if you’ve read others by Anne Tyler, you will most likely enjoy this one as well.

January 27 “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I literally couldn’t lay this book down until I finished it last night at midnight.  It’s a rare day when I’ll put nearly everything aside and read a book in two days, but that’s what I did with “Still Alice”.  At first, when I picked this book up at Costco, I thought it was a true story.  I was “into” true stories having just finished “The Glass Castle” and loving it… so I thought… “okay, let’s do it again.  Another non-fiction book!!  Woohoo Mizsuzee, you are not stuck in fiction-land, no, you are beginning to fill your mind with real things.”  Hmmmm.  Well, this book is not true.  It certainly could be, though!  “Still Alice” is about a 50 year old woman who begins to show signs of early onset Alzheimer’s disease… how the disease progresses… how it effects both Alice and the people in her life – her husband, children, and  colleagues.  The book is written from Alice’s point of view and even as she begins to get fuzzy and then fuzzier… it’s an astonishing read.  Having said all that, it may not be for everyone.  I have a rather intense interest in Alzheimer’s Disease.  I guess you could call it an “interest”…. but “fear” might be another good word.  My grandmother developed Alzheimer’s in her 80’s – which isn’t too remarkable, unless you add on the fact that SO DID EVERY ONE OF HER FOUR SISTERS.  Even in this book, which is written by a PhD who really knows her stuff, they discuss the mutated gene that runs in families.   Yes, you can be tested.  And no, I have absolutely NO intention of finding out now, what may happen in the future.  If I remember right, none of the males in Grandma’s family developed the disease.  As far as I am aware, only ONE of the children of Grandma and all of her sibilings have developed the disease (that would be my second cousin, Rachel).  So, do I worry about this daily?  Heavens no.  Is it a possibility for me?  Well, yes, I do believe it is.  And so my keen interest in this book.  I do suggest it as a heart-wrenching yet excellent read.  At one point in the story, as Alice has absorbed her new diagnosis she says she would trade  cancer for Alzheimer’s in a heartbeat.  You can fight cancer, you actually have a chance at winning.  Your family and community would rally around you and find your fight noble.  Even if you were defeated in the end, you could look your family in the eye and say good-bye before you left….  Wow.  She is so right.   What a devastating disease.  To lose one’s mind.  Not much more I can say about this book – except that there are not many books that receive a 5-star rating with over 300 reviews on Amazon.  It’s a good one.  That’s a fact.



January 25 “An Irish Country Village” by Patrick Taylor. I enjoyed “An Irish Country Christmas” so much last month that I checked this great audio book out from our local library and finished it on my way home from work the other day.  You know, these books by Patrick Taylor are not mind bending… yet they are so delightful and fun to listen to!  Again, this story is a continuation of the two country doctors in Northern Ireland in the mid 1960’s.  You get to know many of the townspeople and can’t wait to see what will happen to them next!   I actually read the first one in this series of books, but have enjoyed the next two MUCH more when listening to the wonderful Irish accents given to all the characters by the narrator, John Keating.  I can’t wait for the next book to come out in audio – An Irish Country Girl.


January 23 “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.  This was a truly remarkable book, a true story about Ms Walls and her family… and their very unconventional way of life.  The book starts in the mid 1960’s and tells us how the Walls family didn’t live a “normal” life in a regular home – theirs was a much more nomadic as well as downright crazy way of living!  This family of six lived in their car, in uninhabited rundown buildings, slept in cardboard boxes, ran from the law, bought their clothing from second hand stores, and much of the time had very little food.  Since the parents refused to take any kind of charity – food stamps and welfare included – these kids were raised with next to nothing in the way of creature comforts.  Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?  And yet, this was an addicting book!  The children rarely complained (especially in the beginning) and seemed to make the best of their really odd way of life.  Dad Walls was brilliant, yet had no ambition to hold a job for long and enjoyed his booze WAY too much.  Mom Walls had her teaching degree but rarely worked, choosing her “art career” over a conventional job over and over.  I read this book at the suggestion of my dear friend Glenda from Australia, who read it, loved it, and knew I would too.  If it had been up to me, I never would have read this.  The back cover sounded so depressing and yet….. and yet…. this was such a fantastic read — I am ever so glad that I took Glenda’s word for it and read this amazing story.   What a great read!!

January 8 “Lime Street Blues” by Maureen Lee. This is the very first book  by Maureen Lee that I can say I really couldn’t get in to.  Set in the 1960’s in Liverpool England, a group of friends and neighbors get together and start a band… a band that tries to rival The Beatles.  I suppose lots of kids tried to emulate The Beatles back then but I’m also sure that few were successful.  This book simply didn’t grab me and I was glad when it was done and I could move on to something else.  Normally I just love Ms Lee’s works, and hopefully I will again as I have several more of hers in my “to-read” pile!

Once again I’ll be posting my adventures in reading here on my blog!  I’d have a lot more blog posts, if I made every book I read a regular post instead of under this heading, but… I like having them all together like this, so the format will continue.  As is always the case, I’m in the process of reading two books at this very moment, so check back for updates right here, and soon!!

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One thought on “Books 2010

  1. Hello,
    I stumbled upon your blog by accident – thru Amazon, I believe – and I am completely in love with it! 🙂 I have only recenlty started my own reading blog, but it is nowhere near as put together as yours. Many of the books that I read are similar to yours. I absolutely loved Jeanette Walls’ two novels – possibly the best novels that I have read in a long time! The Help was amazing, of course! I also enjoy Phillippa Gregory and Debbie Macomber. I will undoubtedly refer to your blog from now on when looking for new books! I am currently on a ‘Southern Fiction’ kick and have been enjoying Mark Childress, immensely. I have also been making my way thru Sandra Dallas novels! If you are ever terribly bored and looking at blogs, mine is : http://readyforagoodread.blogspot.com/
    Thank you for all of your book reviews, looking forward to more!!
    Jessica

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