Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Thirty Three - Push

So we all know what the novel Push by Sapphire is about. I survived seeing the movie so I decided to give the book a try. The subject matter is quite hard to get through, but it is handled a bit more delicately than in the movie. It is quite well written, although it is written in a style that suggests that it is Precious that is writing the book herself.

I am sure that a lot of people go through hard times like Precious has, but from my research it seems that Sapphire herself has not. It makes you wonder why she would write a book like this, since it is such a horrible thing to imagine happening to someone, it must have been very hard to write as well.

Basically I wouldn't really recommend reading the book since there is so much sadness contained within it. There is not a lot of hope offered at the end. It is a realistic tale about what some people will go through in their life, but there is so much suffering in the world, why subject yourself to a book about it. But if you must, you must.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Thirty Two - 32 Candles

Well I have made it to book number 32, and I had coincidentally picked up this book at the library, plus I am 32 so I thought it was meant to be.

"32 Candles" by Ernessa T. Carter was an amazingly fun read. It follows the life of Davidia Jones from Mississipi. She has things quite rough, her mother is the town hussy and people will come up to her on the street and insult her as a way of hurting her mother, who doesn't care anyways. She stops speaking in kindergarten and is called "Monkey Night" by her classmates because they think she is as ugly as a monkey and as dark as night.

The one ray of happiness in her life is Molly Ringwald movies, her favorite being "16 Candles". She longs to find her very own Jake Ryan and the perfect Molly Ringwald ending to her life. She finds her potential Jake as James Farrell, new in town and heir to the local Farrell Fine Hair company. Unfortunately he has two sisters and one of them becomes especially mean to her and makes things so unbearable for her that she decides to run away.

Through extreme good fortune she makes a decent life for herself in Los Angeles. She ends up running into James and the Farrells again and I don't want to really say more than that for fear of giving away too much of the plot.

All I will say is that I loved this book a lot, it was well written, offered a fresh perspective on an old favorite story. Davidia is a sympathetic character, and although she suffers a lot, the tone is upbeat and we are given hope for her. Also I have already popped "Sixteen Candles" into my DVD player, yeah!

32 down and 20 more to go, I can do this!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Thirty One - The Five People You Meet in Heaven

A few years back I read "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom and rather enjoyed it, and after reading it I you tubed a lot of the related footage. I was going through a difficult time in my life and it helped me put things in perspective. So I picked up "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" hopeful yet still expecting it to be a ball of cheese. Albom seems to be sort of a "feel good" author and since I am a tad cynical I didn't expect to like the book all that much.

I had low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the read. It was a tad bit cheesy, but overall I am glad that I read it. The book follows the death of the protagonist, an 82 year old Eddie who is the long time maintenance man at an amusement park. He dies trying to save a young girl from being crushed by a falling ride and, you guessed it, meets five people and learns five lessons before moving on into his afterlife.

I am not a religious person, so I don't know why stories like this appeal to me. I very much appreciated that there was no heavy handed religious overtones. The main lessons of the book are that we are all connected, that no life is meaningless and to appreciate what you have. I am now at a place in my life where I feel like I try to appreciate each day and the happiness I have found for myself. I have also long believed that no matter what the circumstance you find yourself in, that there is always hope.

No one knows what greets us upon our passing, but we could do a lot worse than what is imagined in "The Five People You Meet in Heaven". I laughed, I cried, I finished reading it in an evening and an afternoon, so all in all it was a positive experience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Thirty - The Mist

I am still shaking off the heebie jeebie spiders after reading this one, but it was a lot of fun. The Mist by Stephen King was originally published as a novella in "The Skeleton Crew", but it works well as a stand alone novel and at 230 pages is long enough to stand alone as well.

Although I enjoyed reading The Mist, I have already seen the movie so the plot left few surprises. It is very well written, and I did find the book to be better than the movie. The ending was changed for the movie, and I would be hard pressed to pick which ending I preferred, although I can see why they went with the more shocking movie ending.

The Mist begins following a terrible storm in a small town in Maine. Our main characters notice a strange mist across the lake then father and son head off to the store to get groceries. Then all hell breaks loose, the mist covers the town, the doomsday whistle blows and people start dying. All kinds of creatures start coming out of the mist and the cast of the book have to figure out how to survive, or at least how to not go crazy.

There are a lot of characters in the book, and if it had been fleshed out into a longer novel it might have been easier to know one from the other. There are a few that stand apart, but some I couldn't keep track of. Also it would have been interesting to hear some more stories of survival from other points of view.

I am going to read the rest of the Skeleton Crew soon, but I was glad to be able to find "The Mist" packaged on its own, it was a nice quick, pleasant yet terrifying read.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Twenty Nine - The Woman Who Wouldn't

I am going to be straight up, with so many books to read and so little time, I have been cruising my local library for shorter books. A girl has to do what a girl has to do. So "The Woman Who Wouldn't" caught my eye since it falls around 160 pages, but also it retained my attention when I saw that the author was Gene Wilder. I have a soft spot for the man since I was a huge Wonka fan as a child. I know that there is more to Wilder than that, and now I can now think of him as an excellent story teller as well.

This novel is a very cute story of a man who ends up in a "spa" in the black forest at the turn of the 20th century. He has a cute madness to him and has been sent to the spa to recover. He is a concert violinist and had a public breakdown that sealed his fate. Upon arriving at the spa he meets a young woman and what follows is a tale of flirting, courtship and love and how love can conquer all. I can't help but think that he rewrote history since he couldn't save his own wife from her fate in his real life, this must have helped him with the never ending grieving process.

It is a simple tale, but a rather beautiful one. It was a pleasure to read and I look forward to reading more of Wilder's work in the future.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Twenty Eight - Grace

Grace by Lin Ullman is a novel about death and coming to terms with that transition. It is translated from Norwegian, but it is very easy to read. In the book we follow Johan as he receives his diagnosis of an unspecified disease, most likely cancer, and how he reacts to this and how he plans to finish out his life.

He describes different parts of his life, his first marriage, his childhood and his current wife. It is written very well and it made me picture someday ending up there with my partner. We would all be so lucky to have someone love us enough to take care of us at such a difficult and inevitable time.

The book touches on euthanasia and the attempt to die with dignity. I was interested to learn that it is actually legal in a few European countries. The book takes small moments, just the two of them reading together at their cabin in the woods, it is very relatable and understated but pleasingly so.

Today I witnessed a car accident, I didn't see the actual crash but we turned the corner right after it had happened. The driver was having a seizure and we had no choice but to keep moving (many others were already assisting) it affected me profoundly, put a lot of my little problems in perspective. Then to read this book today, really made me cherish the things that I have and made me realize that I have to appreciate all the good that I have and try to make the best of my life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Twenty Seven - Point Dume

What an amazing book! I just dove right into this one and barely came up for air. It just flowed from point to point, nice concise chapters with varying narrators, an intriguing story concept and a very satisfying ending too.

Point Dume by Katie Arnoldi is about a California beach town where local surfers are resentful of the influx of rich wine growers with their wives and army of nannies. As well it is about the marijuana being grown in public lands by Mexican drug cartels.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Twenty Six - A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind

Halfway there!!! I might just make it if I read like a madwoman for the next two months!

The tag line for "A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind" by Karen Scalf Linamen is "Loving your body, accepting yourself and living without regret". This appealed to me quite a bit as I have struggled with my weight since I was quite young. After I had my son I was well over 200 lbs, when he was around 2 years old I lost 50 lbs, most of it due to the fact that my ex husband didn't have a job and I had no money for food. We would watch the Food Network just so we could remember what food looked like, food porn indeed. After my divorce I lost those same lbs again and I have managed to stick to that weight, give or take a few ever since. This spring I decided to get back on the health wagon to lose the rest of the pounds I have been lugging around. I have had success so far and I feel that I have the right attitude.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Twenty Five - How I Became a Famous Novelist

I picked up "How I Became a Famous Novelist" by Steve Hely in the new fiction section of my library and I found it to be quite an humorous and entertaining read. Who among us has not imagined showing up an ex, and at their own wedding nonetheless. That is the basic premise of this novel, written by a Letterman staffer (and though I won't hold it against him, he also writes for American Dad).