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Teresa's Reading Corner: March 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

This was the conclusion to the series in which we follow Jessica Darling through high school and college and into her career. I picked up the first one Sloppy Firsts because I kept hearing so many great things about it. I'm still not sure why I continued the series other than to satisfy my curiosity. I felt like I must be missing something and that it had to get better.

Perfect Fifths is the reunion between Jessica and her high school sweetheart, Marcus Flutie. The awkward reunion is presented mostly as a conversation. 250 pages is a lot of dialogue to read. (Okay, not all 250 pages were dialogue, but probably about half of them were.) It got to be very cumbersome at times. I jumped ahead more than once.

We catch up with most of the main characters and all of the stories are tied up in a nice neat little bow, which I suppose was the point of this fifth installment. This was a quick read, but all in all, not worth your time. If you've read the series up to this point, stop while you are ahead.


The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

I picked up The Bean Trees based on a friends rating on GoodReads (Thanks E). I had not read anything by Barbara Kingsolver before this, but had heard fantastic things about her work.

Summary from Goodreads

Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

My Thoughts:

This was a fairly easy and enjoyable read. I spent much of this story thinking about family. What is family? Where do you find it? How many different kinds of family are there? Taylor had a family back in Kentucky, her mother. She thought the world of Taylor and helped her to become somewhat of a success story for a "nutter". When Taylor decides to move on, her mother supports her decision.

When Taylor lands in Arizona she finds her second family with Mattie, Turtle, Lou Ann and Dwayne Ray. The love her and support her just as any family would. The story reinforced that you can have family wherever you are, even if your relatives aren't around.

Taylor grows up a great deal in her travels. Not only does she inherit a child after she spent her high school years avoiding parenthood. She also learns about the world around her. She loses some of her idealism to reality, but gains so much more. She gains a sense of self.

I would definitely recommend this book. It has encouraged me to pick up some additional Kingsolver novels. As a matter of fact, I learned that there is a follow up to The Bean Trees in Pigs in Heaven which I plan on reading soon.


Monday, March 29, 2010

A Big Hello

Happy Monday and a big hello to everyone who stopped by from the Hop over the weekend and became followers. I wasn't able to get anything posted this weekend, but I've got a few things coming up this week. You can look for my Kids Corner post and a couple of reviews in the next few days.

Thanks for following!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Book Blogger Hop

I discovered this last Friday and found so many new blogs to read that I had to participate once again. Each Friday, Jennifer at Crazy For Books hosts the Book Blogger Hop I love the idea, you link up your blog and then visit others who have done the same.

If you've come to be from the hop, welcome! I am a new blogger and read and review a variety of books. Check out the blog and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

**Please note- this review contains spoilers**

Pride and Prejudice is one of those books that has been sitting on my "To Be Read" pile for years. I kept saying that I wanted to get to it yet it kept getting pushed aside. One day a friend mentioned that she was reading it and I knew it was time.

Originally published in 1813 this novel was different than anything you'd see published today. Austen takes the reader to a place in time that is very different from what we are familiar with. The setting, the language, the fashion are all so different, but the story is one that anyone can identify with.

The main character is Elizabeth Bennett. She is the second oldest of five daughters and is not your typical 1800's century lady. She has a sharp tongue and wit about her that her mother just doesn't understand, but her father adores. Something I'm sure that many of us can relate to in one sense or another.

Pride and Prejudice is a story about Lizzie finding love where she least expects it. She learns a great deal about herself and her family along the way.

I'll admit that when I first started reading Pride and Prejudice, I had some trouble keeping all of the characters straight and I had to reach for the dictionary more than once. I eventually got through that phase and into the story and at that point I didn't want to put it down. I was so immersed in the story before me that I could imagine myself sitting next to Lizzie in the carriage as she made her travels. I could feel her confusion when Mr. Darcy confesses his love for her. I could feel her frustration in dealing with her younger sisters situation. This is what I loved about this book. It easily transported me to a time that was so utterly different from my own and made me believe what the characters were going through.

A wonderfully written story, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get to it. Reading and enjoying this story has encouraged me to pick up a few more classics. Which one should I tackle next?


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kids Corner: Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Goodnight Gorilla is another one of my little monkey's favorite books. It is very simple with very few words. I often find myself making up additions to the story on the pages that don't have written words. Even more amusing is when the monkey starts telling the story. Of course he's heard many variations depending on who read to him last and weaves them together to make the story his own.

The basic story follows the zookeeper closing down the zoo for the night and saying goodnight to all of the animals. As he's doing this, the entire zoo follows him home.

It is not uncommon for monkey to ask for this one to be read repeatedly in one sitting. I'm not sure how long we've been reading this one to him, probably since he was about a month old.


Friday, March 19, 2010

kevin my military man by shane kaelle

Summary from Goodreads:

The 1970's. The 21st Century. Military Romance. But much more. Intriguing. Complicated. They say that for each one of us on this planet that there are potentially 30,000 people with whom we might find a partner in life. But what about the concept of the SOULMATE ? Does it exist only in one's dreams or imagination ? They share but 5 words between them in high school but somehow, their eyes connect their souls. Five year later, they meet again, have a summer but Kevin enlists. Letters sustain their relationship but not indefinitely. The circumstances of life.... The distance.... Then - different directions.... Time goes by.... 17 years later, it is Gina's young adult sons who find the letters, the photos. Gina decides to search for Kevin online using 'buddyfinder' on military com website. - Chris watched as Will pulled out the photos without acknowledged permission that this was fine to do. .... Chris picked them right up. "Is this Kevin ? Kevin from beach ? Dana and Zeik's dad ?" Chris asked ...."It looks like it doesn't it ?" Will said. "He and mom were friends ?" Chris asked trying to elicit more feedback. "I think that they were more than friends." - Donna defended herself. "I learn from fiction. Some of it's historical and other plots expose me to things that I would never experience." - It involved explaining to them the mindset of Marines. 'Marines are Marines'. There is mutual respect between 'Enlisted' and 'Officers'. - "Why is that ?" "If your boyfriend is a looker, than you'll always feel insecure - there will always be girls chasing him." "You're rationalizing," Jeannie quickly replied then added, "It is sort of true with Tim." - .... and just sat on her bed. He noticed the paper under the pillow and didn't think before pulling it out to read it. "Hear my soul speak; the very instant that I saw you, did my heart ...." .... but Kevin - he was something. Tim had no idea how to compete with a guy like this.

My Review:

I was compelled by the summary on Goodreads to read this book. I don't recall seeing another work in which the military plays such a role. The first 16 years of my life were spent moving around North America with my military family. From talking with friends, I know how different military life can be from that of a civilian. I was interested to see how this story would play out.

The story follows a group of young people over a span of 20 years or so. We are introduced to the main character, Gina as she is entering high school. Gina actually meets Kevin for the first time in high school, but thinks nothing of it. Gina and Kevin met once again the summer after Gina's sophomore year in high school. This is where their romance begins. At the end of the summer Kevin tells Gina that he has enlisted and is not quite sure what the future holds for him.

Gina returns to her college lift and Kevin goes off to basic training. Much of their relationship is exposed via the letters that they exchange. During the course of the story they actually spend very little time together. They often discuss the idea of being "soulmates". They eventually break up due to some miscommunication and go their separate ways for awhile. Life of course carries on and both Gina and Kevin move forward. Some time later they rediscover one another through the Internet and begin chatting online.

I think the story itself was pretty good. There were a lot of footnotes and extra information included in the story which I believe was present to educate the reader. Occasionally I did get lost in some of the extra material. For example there are several instances when the are playing chess and the author spells out the particular moves they were using. I don't play chess, so I'm not sure how this added to the story.

The story makes the transition from a teenagers life in the 1970's to an adults life in the 2000's in a believable manner.

I received this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program
This is the first time I've received a book directly from an author. When the book arrived it had a note from the author and several pages marked. I can't imagine the work that must be involved in writing a novel and publishing it yourself. I commend her on her effort.

I would recommend this book to a reader who doesn't mind sorting through the extra material to find the heart of the story.

Edited to Add: I know the author is trying to get the word out about her book. Stop by the website.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Challenge

In late 2008 I discovered Goodreads and began using it to keep track of books that I'd read and those that I wanted to read. With this new tool at my disposal I decided that I wanted to challenge myself to read more.

Beginning January 1,2009 I challenged myself to read 50 books by the end of the year. I did a lot of reading that year, but sadly I did not reach my goal. I only made it to 32, but in my defense those 32 included the first six of the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. For those of you who aren't familiar with them, they are huge novels.

In 2010 I decided that I would give it another try. Once again, I'm challenging myself to read 50 books by Dec. 31, 2010. My rules are pretty simple.
1. Must finish the book in order for it to count. (This explains why I had to finish Lamb the Gospel According to Biff)
2. It can be something I've read before as long as it was awhile ago.

Even though I didn't make my goal in the 2009 challenge, I had a lot of fun with it. This year, my husband decided to join me and issued a challenge of his own. He wanted to track how many pages we were reading in addition to how many books.

You might be wondering how I'm doing on these challenges. Well, its week 11 and I'm currently reading book 12 and have read 4754 pages. I know he is also reading book 12, but I'm not sure where he is on his page count (I think I'm ahead here due to the last Outlander book).

This has been fun to do together. As a result our television is often off in the evenings and we spend time talking about the books that we are each reading. Of course we have to check in with each other to see where we're at. There's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, right?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kids Corner

When I was pregnant I knew that books would be a big part of our little ones life. I could remember some of the books that I enjoyed as a child, but I had no idea where to start to build our baby's collection. This is where I hope this series will help my readers. Along with my little monkey I hope to provide some guidance on what books to include in your baby and toddler library.

Our first suggestion is

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Little monkey absolutely loves this book. We've been reading it to him since he was a newborn and he still requests it. We have even more fun now that he can "read" along. Parents beware, it is one of those stories that you will be able to (and might have to) recite from memory.

Pick this one up, you won't regret it.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton

Knit One, Kill Two (A Knitting Mystery, #1)

Knit One, Kill Two is the first installment of a mystery series by Maggie Sefton. We are introduced to Kelly Flynn, a CPA who has returned to "Fort Connor, CO" to wrap up her aunt's estate after she is murdered. As she is doing so she meets and becomes friends with the ladies who are part of the knitting shop that is next to her aunt's property. Unsatisfied with the way the police are handling the investigation, Kelly begins an investigation of her own.

The plot isn't complicated at all and it is definitely and easy read. I had previously read and reviewed the second installment in this series, Needled to Death.

As I mentioned in that review, part of the fun for me is reading about Kelly's exploration of "Fort Connor" and Northern Colorado. It is fun to figure out what place in town she is referring to. I am a bit puzzled as to why the names of some places are changed, and others are not?

Those who are knitters might enjoy the story more as there are a lot of references to their projects as well as patterns included. Otherwise, anyone looking for a very fluffy read might enjoy this story.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Lamb The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
I had previously read Fluke by Christopher Moore and found it quirky and amusing. I'd read several favorable reviews of Lamb so I thought I'd pick it up. I don't know if it was the subject matter, the writing, or just that I wasn't in the right frame of mind for this book but I didn't like it at all. I liked the idea of presenting Christ from a different point of view, but that was as far as it went. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

I know that isn't much of a review, but that's all I've got. Have any of you read it? What did you think?


Monday, March 1, 2010

Giving up?

Giving up on a book is something that I almost never do. If I don't like it I usually plow on through and finish it. Occasionally I will put it down and start it again later thinking that I'm just not in the right frame of mind for the story.

I'm interested to see you you handle a book that you aren't enjoying? Do you quit and move on or keep with it?

Let me know!