My good friend Nancy has been participating in this for quite a while and I keep wanting to be a sheep, err, join in the fun so here goes:
Another month has come and gone and it’s time for another Whats-on-your-nightstand; which is a blogging carnival hosted by 5 Minutes For Books. For anyone new to this carnival, the premise is fairly simple: write a post about whatever you are currently reading, recently read and/or plan to read next. You could even take a picture of said books if you so desire.
Kind of a light month:
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. Alison Arngrim. I really enjoyed reading this. It was a quick and easy read but so good. Having already read and enjoyed Melissa Gilbert’s book Prairie Tales last year and being utterly disappointed in Melissa Sue Anderson’s The Way I See it early this year I was a bit hesitant about this one but kept hearing how good it was. I am glad that I took the chance. Unlike many former child actors who shun the characters they were most associated with, Alison Arngrim wholly embraces Nellie Oleson. And why shouldn’t she? Nellie is the character that put food on her table, clothes on her back and sometimes a roof over her head. She speaks with candor and fondness about her life on set as well as her off screen life which wasn’t always a bed of roses. Her dedication to her friends, especially Steve Tracy who played her on screen husband Percival is touching and full of emotion. His early death due to AIDS let her to her current role as an AIDS activist. Truly this is one of those books where you will be laughing out loud. Alison is a riot from start to finish, she calls them as she sees them.
Room. Emma Donoghue. This is one that I received as an Advance Reader Copy. As soon as I read the back of the book I knew that I wanted to read it. “To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.” Ma creates a happy life for Jack despite being confined to a 12 x 12 room. They have food and supplies delivered by Old Nick along with the occasional Sunday treat. Jack knows nothing of the outside world despite having a TV to watch. He thinks everything on TV is made up. When Ma decides that she has to tell Jack about the outside world and try to escape, he reacts with horror. A world outside Room? How can that be? Jack eventually goes along with Ma’s plan even though he is terrified. Once they are rescued, then their world is truly turned upside down. Ma has to relearn how to live in the real world and Jack has to adjust to a whole new life. While Ma is adjusting, Jack meets some of Ma’s family and spends time with them. In the end it is hopeful but getting there is heartbreaking. Jack and Ma will stay with you for a long time after reading the book. It made me want to run upstairs and give my kids hugs and kisses. I read it in one sitting, staying up until way too late to finish it.
The Mermaid Chair. Sue Monk Kidd. I had enjoyed listening to Sue Monk Kidd’s previous book, The Secret Life of Bees so I thought that I would enjoy this one too. I didn’t exactly enjoy it but I didn’t hate it either. This is the story of Jessie and her season of self discovery. She is called to go home to help her Mother heal after an accident. Home is Egret Island, a fictional island off the coast of South Carolina. While there Jessie tries to understand why she feels dissatisfied with her seemingly perfect life. In the tradition of many other women on a journey novels, she has an affair, feels guilty, makes up with her husband and repairs her relationship with her mother. It got me through my daily commute but not much more.
House Rules. Jodi Picoult. I started out listening to this on CD but then switched to reading it. I am not quite done with it but since I am sure that I will finish it in a day or two I am including it here. It is okay. The premise of the book is that 18 year old Jacob has Asperger’s Syndrome and is tutored in Social Skills but Jess. One day Jess goes missing and soon enough is discovered dead by the police and all evidence points to Jacob. Many of the hallmarks of Picoult’s novels are here: the disabled or sick child, the harried single mother, the neglected sibling, the requisite romance of the mom and the alternating chapters. It isn’t horrible, it isn’t great. I had the “mystery” of who killed Jess figured out halfway through the book. There are like most of her other books, too many coincidences to make it seem realistic. I will finish it because I want to see how the novel gets to the conclusion that I drew but that’s it.
Books that I want to read next month:
Burn. Nevada Barr. The newest book in the Anna Pigeon series. These are mostly set in National Parks, as Anna is a Park Ranger. I believe this one is set in New Orleans while Anna is on a break from work.
Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Aimee Bender. I have been wanting to read this one for a while and finally got my hands on a copy. “On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.” I love the idea of food being used as a mechanism for magical realism. Think along the lines of Water for Chocolate and Garden Spells. On page 99 and so far so good.
The Amaranth Enchantment. Julie Berry. I forget why I took this one home but it is a teen fantasy that must have sounded good or been recommended to me. We’ll see.
Mockingjay. Suzanne Collins. The long awaited conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. Cannot wait to read it!
Under Heaven. Guy Gavriel Kay. This was given to me by a coworker whose reading taste is similar to mine but she is a bit more into literary fiction and high fantasy than I am but I am willing to give it a try. Nancy Pearl, a librarian and commentator for NPR recommended this while lamenting that although it is Fantasy it is more Historical Fiction.
To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. One of my all time favorite books. This is the book for my book group’s September meeting.
The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women. Deborah Swiss. Got this as an Advance Reader Copy too. The whole premise is fascinating. Hundreds of thousands of women petty criminals were sentenced to exile in Australia basically to serve as breeders for the already exiled male convicts.
Check back at the end of September to see how I did.