Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Tuesday ... Where Are You?

Hosted by raidergirl3 at
An Adventure in Reading.

Today I am in Monroeville, Alabama, in 1962. Just recently, though, I was in Hollywood for part of the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird. (I am reading I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
        — Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

Published in 2010. 309 pages.

I really enjoyed this most recent episode in the adventures of Stephanie Plum when I read it a couple of weeks ago. I think that the silliness - including Lula's latest diet approach and the presence of a bunch of Hobbits - was just what I needed. That is, in addition to my Ranger fix!


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford

Published in 2009. 285 pages.

Jamie Ford's first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut.

– Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet with my book club in May. I had put the book on my to-read list in January when it was selected as a Salt Lake County Reader's Choice nominee, so I was happy to "have" to read it. Because my mother-in-law and her parents were interned in the camps during World War II, I am always interested in accounts of that regrettable part of American history. Two that I have particularly enjoyed are Snow Falling on Cedars and When the Emperor Was Divine. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is now another.

Despite the predictability of some aspects of the plot and a few anachronisms concerning the use of technology, I found Jamie Ford's writing to be lovely and heartfelt. Here are few of my favorite passages:

School was out of the question for the day. The thought of being tardy and facing the ridicule of his classmates was almost as horrible as the thought of enduring their happiness - their joy and satisfaction at knowing that Keiko's family, and her whole neighborhood, were being taken away. All smiles. Victorious in their home-front battle with a hated enemy. Even if that enemy spoke the same language and had said the Pledge of Allegiance alongside them since kindergarten. [p. 136]
Like so many things Henry had wanted in life - like his father, his marriage, his life - it had arrived a little damaged. Imperfect. But he didn't care, this was all he'd wanted. Something to hope for, and he'd found it. It didn't matter what condition it was in. [p. 142]
Henry was learning that time apart has a way of creating distance - more than the mountains and time zone separating them. Real distance, the kind that makes you ache and stop wondering. Longing so bad that it begins to hurt to care so much. [p. 245}

For more information, check out the following:


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Published in 2010. 299 pages.

First lines: This is my life: The alarm goes off at five-thirty with the murmuring of a public-radio announcer, telling me that there has been a coup in Chad, a tornado in Texas. My husband stirs briefly next to me, turns over, blinks, and falls back to sleep for another hour. My robe lies at the foot of the bed, printed cotton in the summer, tufted chenille for the cold. The coffeemaker comes on in the kitchen below as I leave the bathroom, go downstairs in bare feet, pause to put away a pair of boots left splayed in the downstairs back hallway and to lift the newspaper from the back step.

Last lines: This is my life. I am trying.

It had been some time since I'd read an Anna Quindlen novel, although I remembered those I'd read favorably. In June I'd put Every Last One on my to-read list - I think because my sister added it to her to-read list on goodreads - but it was Florinda's review at the end of July that prompted me to check the book out from the library and actually read it rather than just leave it on my ever-lengthening to-read list for some undetermined date in the future. What a great decision!

Quindlen's writing is simply beautiful. Here is a favorite passage:

You can't plan them, although I suppose those people who meditate and practice yoga think you can, but there are those moments when we experience physical happiness despite ourselves, before our minds remind us of the reasons we shouldn't. A slight breeze, a warming sun, a little bird music: Your senses say something before your good sense says something different. if only we could be creatures of the body more often. [page 276]

The story is evocative. I think every mother will be able to understand the worries and the joys that Mary Beth Latham finds through her relationships with her children. While I recommend that the book be read without much prior knowledge of the plot, I offer this edited version of a passage to which I definitely relate:
The dead place is still inside me because Nancy has said aloud only what has been a whisper ever since I half woke in the hospital. Now it is screaming, the voice that says [something bad happened] because I was not careful enough, attentive enough, good enough, awake enough. Not enough. [page 215]


Meme of Reading Questions - Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

26. Favorite cookbook?
I don't have one, although I do enjoy collecting recipes.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Microwave popcorn.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
There are a number of books that I was worried about reading because of the hype, but I can't think on any instance where the hype ruined my reading experience. For example, I ended up thinking that Water for Elephants was as good as everyone had said.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't know that I really pay attention to what the critics say.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I always try to say something good about the books I review, but I'm also not afraid to express negative opinions.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?


33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
The Stand by Stephen King.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

35. Favorite poet?
Emily Dickinson.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
25 to 30.

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?

Often. (That's probably not surprising given my answer to #36.)

38. Favorite fictional character?
I was tempted to say Edward Cullen from the Twilight books - but I honestly have say Susan Caraway, also known as Stargirl.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear.

40. Books you're most likely to bring on vacation?

Short, light-hearted and/or compelling books.

41. The longest you've gone without reading?

Following graduate school, when I first started working full-time as an auditor at a large CPA firm in Los Angeles, I went four or five months without doing any reading for pleasure.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Not a thing.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

The Joy Luck Club.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Nights in Rodanthe.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I'm going to guess about $100.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?


48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

If a particular book is going really slowly or is difficult reading for me, then I may stop reading it - but I'll likely plan to return to it at some point in the future.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Not necessarily.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
If I think I'll want to re-read or reference a book again, I'll keep a copy - or sometimes I'll go buy a copy if it was a library book I was reading - but otherwise I'm happy to give books away.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

I refuse to read The Secret and anything by Glenn Beck.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
I'm drawing a blank on this question.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

Willow by Julia Hoban.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.

Monday, August 23, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Mockingjay

The Hunger Games
Read in June 2009.

Catching Fire

Read in October 2009.

To be read on August 24, 2010!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meme of Reading Questions - Part 1

1. Favorite childhood book?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

2. What are you reading right now?
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy, Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson, and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

4. Bad book habit?
Thinking I can read more than I can!

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

  • Every Last One

  • Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton

  • The Wives of Henry Oades

  • Shoot to Thrill

  • The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet

  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

  • I am Scout: A Biography of Harper Lee

  • If You Come Softly

  • Imperfect Birds

  • Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps - And What We Can Do About It

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson

  • A Quiet Belief in Angels

  • Hiroshima

  • The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-third Psalm

  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

  • Blue Plate Special

  • Raw Edges: A Memoir

  • Ten Cents a Dance

  • The Last Ember

  • Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter

  • The Cinderella Society

  • The Kayla Chronicles

  • What If the Earth Had Two Moons?: And Nine Other Thought-Provoking Speculations on the Solar System

  • The Heart is Not a Size

  • The Nobodies Album

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Not yet.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
Usually two or three at a time.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
A bit - but I'm not sure it's because of the blog.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far)?

Willow by Julia Hoban.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year (so far)?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (This was actually a re-read from my high school years.)

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Very infrequently - and usually only with a good reason.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

I read a lot of different kinds of things - as long as the writing is good - so my comfort zone is pretty big. What I don't usually enjoy is horror and romance, and I'm also somewhat classics-challenged.

13. Can you read on the bus?
No, because I get motion sickness.

14. Favorite place to read?
Either in bed or sitting in my favorite chair with my feet up on the ottoman.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I'm usually happy to do it.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Yes. I like to mark passages and put notes in books that I expect to re-read or reference again.

18. Not even with text books?
That may be where I started with the habit.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
The only language I'm able to read in is English.

20. What makes you love a book?
To become an all-time favorite, a book has to change me in some way - changing the way I view myself or the world.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
It really depends on the person.

22. Favorite genre(s)?
Young adult (especially realistic fiction). Historical fiction. Mystery/suspense/thriller. Science fiction (especially time travel and dystopias).

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?

24. Favorite (auto)biography?
Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yes, indeed.

To be continued.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Tuesday ... Where Are You?

Hosted by raidergirl3 at
An Adventure in Reading.

Today I'm in high school in Georgia, having recently been inducted into a secret society. (I'm reading the young adult novel The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Library Loot - August 11

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Marg and Claire to encourage bloggers to share what they’ve checked out from the library.

I'm adding a few more books to my to-read pile, despite the "leftovers" from the prior visits to the library. On this visit, all three of my kids and I also got to pick a book to keep for completing the summer reading program!

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
(I put this one on my to-read list back when Alix reviewed it, but I didn't get to it then. Recently I noticed via Facebook that Alice was reading it - as well as its sequel - so I decided that it's time.)

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott
(This one was on the "new releases" shelf and I felt in the mood for Anne Lamott, so I picked it up.)

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot
(I'm not sure where I first saw this one,
but I was intrigued, so I put it on hold.)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan
(I'm excited about this new young adult collaboration between the author of An Abundance of Katherines and one of the authors of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.)

This Is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

Published in 2007. 176 pages.

After reading Suey's recent review at It's All about Books, I just had to pick this young adult novel up from the library.

This Is What I Did is a very quick but gut-wrenching read. What I loved most was the unique way the story was presented, as if the character Logan is writing it and with graphics added. Immersing myself in its stream-of-consciousness feel, I really felt like I was getting inside Logan's head, and I had a hard time putting the book down. I also loved the palindrome notes that Logan's new friend Laurel gives him.

This was Ann Dee Ellis' debut novel. I'll definitely be looking for more of her work!

For more information:


The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum

Published in 2010. 369 pages.

The Golden Spiral is the sequel to The Hourglass Door, with the third installment in the trilogy, The Forgotten Locket, to be published next summer.

Despite some lags in the plot and a few concerns about the quality of the writing, I do find myself invested in Dante and Abby's story.

My inner teenage geek definitely loves to think about the implications of time travel:

"The loop has to be closed," Leo repeated.

"I don't understand," I said. "What loop?"

"Certain things have to happen because they have already happened. And if those things don't happen one way, they have to happen another way." [page 224]

There is a Reading Guide at the end of the book that I think would be fun and beneficial for teens wanting to discuss how the book relates to their own lives. The questions include the topics of hobbies, support systems, memories, what makes for a good relationship, and making choices.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Library Loot - August 4

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Marg and Claire to encourage bloggers to share what they’ve checked out from the library.

I'm eager to read the "loot" I picked up this week, although I still have "leftovers" from the past several visits I've made to the library!

The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran
(This is August's pick for the Book Buddies.)

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
(After reading Florinda's review, I moved this one up on my to-read list.)

This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis
(After reading Suey's review, I just had to pick up this one.)

Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton
by Rebecca Shambaugh
(I put this one on hold after reading an article about it on Forbes.com,
and it became available this week.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

It's Tuesday ... Where Are You?

Hosted by raidergirl3 at
An Adventure in Reading.

Today I'm in Maycomb, Alabama, in 1935. It's a hot summer day, and I've been at the courthouse for the trial of Tom Robinson. (I'm reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Actually, I'm re-reading this novel from my high school senior lit class because of its 50th anniversary.)

God Went to Beauty School
by Cynthia Rylant

Published in 2003. 56 pages.

I read this short book while my son had a swimming lesson. I then re-read some of my favorite parts. Later, I read some of the book to my family. I guess you could say I liked it!

The Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication summary calls it "a novel in poems that reveal God's discovery of the wonders and pains in the world He has created." I call it a thought-provoking view of God as Immanuel ("God [is] with us"). It is tender as well as funny, and it lifted my spirits.

In addition to the title poem, among my other favorites are

  • "God Went to the Doctor" (And the doctor said, "You don't need me, you're God." And God said, "Well you're pretty good at playing me, I figured you'd know what the problem was.")

  • "God Went Rollerblading" (in which God feels invincible - apparently, although He knows He's invincible, He doesn't always feel that way)

  • "God Got Cable" ("Every now and then, even God needs a break.")

  • "God Got a Desk Job" ("The only thing that got Him through to the end of the day was Snickers bars.")
and the concluding poem "God Died."

Melissa (of Book Nut) posted her review here.

Here is a YouTube clip from 60second Recap™:


Resistance, Book 1
by Carla Jablonski & Leland Purvis

Published in 2010. 124 pages.

In keeping with my recent (mostly) unintentional focus on World War II, I picked up this young adult graphic novel from the "new releases" shelf at the library - this time getting a view of the war in France. In the wonderful way that graphic novels do, it illustrates the evil of war in a very accessible way.

On the back cover, Jane Yolen (author of The Devil's Arithmetic) is quoted:

A forceful reminder of both the broad horrors and the small braveries of that period of history, things we should never forget.

I understand that this is the first in a trilogy. I eagerly await the next episode.

For an excerpt from the book and a reading group guide, visit the book's page on the Macmillan website.