Vacation Line-Up

I am looking forward to vacation and some reading time.  Here is what I hope to get through:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

I ordered this one as an audio book to read on my drive to CT and VT.  A group of teachers have chosen this one as a book group read.  I kind of feel like I am cheating by listening to it, but hey, it will help pass the time in the car.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson.

I started this one a while back and am sort of stuck right now.  Everyone who has read it, loves it, so I am not giving up on it.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

I just bought this one over the weekend.  I read the first three pages in the store and knew I was going to dig this one.  It has been referred to as “Harry Potter for adults.”  I have high hopes for The Magicians.

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Secret Santa Book Exchange

urlOkay folks- here’s my idea for December.  A Secret Santa book exchange.  Here are the rules:

1.  Fill out this form

2.  Email me the form  (msmazzola@gmail.com) by DECEMBER 5th

3.  Wait to receive your email notitying you regarding your Secret Santa by DECEMBER 8th

4.  Review your Secret Santa’s form and check out his/her website to get an idea of his/her interests

5.  Send your Secret Santa a book (new or gently used).  Let’s limit this to paperbacks only.

6.  Anxiously await your book, which should be coming soon.

*Limited to Continental US only.

Let’s see how many people we can get involved in this Book Exchange.  Please feel free to link to this post through your own website. ‘Tis the Season.

What I Am So Excited About….

imagesI LOVE Barbara Kingsolver and this books sounds promising:

You had better write all this in your notebook, she said, the story of what happened to us in Mexico. So when nothing is left of us but bones, someone will know where we went.

Born in the US, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is mostly a liability to his social-climbing mother, Salomé. From a coastal island jungle to the unpaved neighbourhoods of 1930s Mexico City, his fortunes never steady as Salomé finds her rich men-friends always on the losing side of the Mexican Revolution. He aims for invisibility, observing his world and recording everything with a peculiar selfless irony in his notebooks. Life is whatever he learns from servants putting him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Making himself useful in the household of the muralist, his wife Frida Kahlo, and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot in with art and revolution. A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. In Carolina, he remakes himself in America’s hopeful image. Under the watch of his peerless stenographer, Violet Brown, he finds an extraordinary use for his talents of observation. But political winds continue to push him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach – the lacuna – between truth and public presumption.

The Lacuna is a gripping story of identity, connection with our past, and the power of words to create or devastate. Crossing two decades, from the vibrant revolutionary murals of Mexico City to the halls of a Congress bent on eradicating the colour red, The Lacuna is as deep and rich as the New World itself. (Taken from borders.com)

 

 

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I am going to buy it tonight.

Those Darn Vampires….

Right now I am reading Brave New World with my seniors.  This is not a light read.  I need balance.  I need light reads mixed in with my heavy dystopic, oh no look what we have become, literature.  So sometimes, yes sometimes, I read fluff.   Right now I have discovered the Sookie Stackhouse novels and am plowing through this series at breakneck speed.   If you want a book that requires not a whole lot of thinking, but will definitely keep you entertained- I recommend Charlaine Harris.  She’s funny. Think Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, kind of funny.  Go on read them, you know you want to.

 

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Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

url-1Summary:  This is the story of “Alice” who was kidnapped by Ray when she was ten years old.  Alice is now fifteen.  For five years she has been sexually, physically and emotionally abused and has become what she calls a “living dead girl”.  Now Ray wants Alice to help her kidnap another young girl.  Alice thinks this may be her only means of escape and agrees to help Ray.

Review:  I walked into the bookstore yesterday afternoon and one of my co-workers handed me this book saying, “Read this book- it is the most disturbing book I have ever read.”  So, of course, I sat down and immediately began reading it.  I must admit, I had some issues with the book as well.  I think that Scott’s sparse writing does an effective job at portraying someone who has completely shut down in order to survive.  I get that, I do.   I get her matter of fact way of explaining the way Ray repeatedly rapes and abuses Alice and how Alice herself has become full of anger and hate.  What I don’t get is the point of this book, other than to shock and disturb.   Fro me, there was no salvation, no redemption, no hope. I think a book targeted for young adults, which deals with such adult material, must offer one of those things.  This one doesn’t.  I think Scott presents a convincing narrator and makes the situation all too real for her readers and for that I give her kudos.  However, the realness it just a little too real for me in the end.

Review: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

imagesSummary:  (Taken from jodipicoult.com)  When Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe’s daughter, Willow, is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, they are devastated – she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to make ends meet to cover Willow’s medical expenses, Charlotte thinks she has found an answer. If she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn for not telling her in advance that her child would be born severely disabled, the monetary payouts might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow. But it means that Charlotte has to get up in a court of law and say in public that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she’d known about the disability in advance – words that her husband can’t abide, that Willow will hear, and that Charlotte cannot reconcile. And the ob/gyn she’s suing isn’t just her physician – it’s her best friend.

Review:  I have an issue with Jodi Picoult.  All her books are the same.  And yet I keep reading them.  And I confess, sort of liking them.  This book was no different.  It alternated voices every chapter, it included the lawyer’s story which I didn’t care about and it had the big melodramatic courtroom scene.  It also had the “unpredictable” ending which I saw coming from a mile away.  But somehow, damn you Jodi Picoult, I feel for the characters.  I loved little Willow, although I didn’t for one second believe she was only five years old.  I understood Charlotte’s sacrifice for her daughter and her husband’s unwillingness to go along with it.  And yes, I teared up in the end when we finally hear little Willow’s voice.  So even though her books are formulaic and predictable, I would have to say it is a formula which may appeal to the masses.

NY Times Best Sellers

Paperback Trade Fiction
Published: September 10, 2009

Books in purple I have read.

1 THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, by Audrey Niffenegger. (Harvest/Harcourt, $14.95.) Life with a dashing librarian who travels back and forth through time.
2.   THE SHACK, by William P. Young. (Windblown Media, $14.99.) A man whose daughter was abducted receives an invitation to an isolated shack, apparently from God.
3 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson. (Vintage, $14.95.) A hacker and a journalist investigate the disappearance of a Swedish heiress.
4 THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. (Dial, $14.) A journalist meets the island’s old Nazi-resisters.
5 OLIVE KITTERIDGE, by Elizabeth Strout. (Random House, $14.) A seventh-grade math teacher is the link in 13 stories set on the Maine coast; a 2009 Pulitzer winner.
6 THE LUCKY ONE, by Nicholas Sparks. (Grand Central, $13.99.) A Marine returning home sets out to track down the woman whose photo he found in Iraq.
7 THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, by Garth Stein. (Harper Paperbacks, $14.99.) An insightful Lab-terrier mix helps his owner, a struggling race car driver.
8 THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE, by Heather Gudenkauf. (Mira, $13.95.) When a selectively mute girl and her best friend vanish, family secrets come to the fore.
9 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. (Quirk, $12.95.) The classic story, retold with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.”
10 HOME, by Marilynne Robinson. (Picador, $14.) The events of the novel “Gilead,” revisited from another perspective.
11 THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG, by Muriel Barbery. (Europa, $15.) A young girl and a widowed concierge, both closet intellectuals, become friends.
12 THE ALCHEMIST, by Paulo Coelho. (HarperOne, $13.95.) A Spanish shepherd boy travels to Egypt in search of treasure.
13* THE LOVELY BONES, by Alice Sebold. (Back Bay/Little, Brown, $14.99.) A girl looks down from heaven as she describes the aftermath of her murder.
14 SARAH’S KEY, by Tatiana de Rosnay. (St. Martin’s Griffin, $13.95.) A contemporary American journalist investigates what happened to a little girl and her family during the roundup of Jews in Paris in 1942.
15 THE KITE RUNNER, by Khaled Hosseini. (Riverhead, $15.95 and $14.) An Afghan-American returns to Kabul to learn how a childhood friend has fared.
16 THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED, by Wally Lamb. (Harper Perennial, $15.99.) A couple flee to a Connecticut farm after the trauma of the Columbine shootings.
17 UNACCUSTOMED EARTH, by Jhumpa Lahiri. (Vintage Contemporaries, $15.) Stories about the anxiety and transformation experienced by Bengali parents and their American children.
18 MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS, by IIona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook. (Berkley, $15.) Novellas with devils, angels and more.
19* THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. (Penguin, $16.) In 1945 Barcelona, a boy learns that someone is trying to destroy everything written by the author of a book that he loves.
20 A MERCY, by Toni Morrison. (Vintage International, $15.) In 17th-­century America, a slave mother urges a Northern farmer to buy her daughter so the girl can have a better life.

I’m in Love

shadowIf you haven’t read Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, then you need to do so immediately.  This book is made for book lovers.  I was reminded of Dickens’ Great Expectations time and time again, with all the memorable characters and the mysterious plot that keeps you on your toes.  It is so beautifully written, case in point when Daniel visits the Cemetery of Forgotten books he is told, “Every book, every volume, has a soul.  The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”   Or if that doesn’t convince you, how about this one?   “Few things leave a deeper mark than the first book that finds its way into [your]  heart.  Those first images, the echo of words we think have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a place in our memory to which, sooner or later- no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget- we will return.”   Now that is beautiful writing that speaks to the reader in all of us.

Brief Summary:  On Daniel’s tenth birthday his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where Daniel is to find the one book which belongs to him.  Daniel chooses, or rather it chooses him, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax.  When Daniel sets out to find more of Carax’s novels he discovers that they all have disappeared.  In fact, it seems as though someone has taken it upon himself to burn all existing copies of Carax’s work.  Intrigued by this, Daniel begins investigating the life of Julian Carax, which proves to be full of mystery and secrets.  What follows is a tale of mystery, love and passion which will “sculpt a place in our memory” for years and years to come.