Wednesday, June 23, 2010

books 2010 #16-24

The Forgotten Garden The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the mysterious discovery of a 4-year-old girl on a dock, the unfolding of her life events and two families. I tend to love stories about multiple generations of women, and this one did not disappoint. Engaging characters, nice plot twists, not predictable. Recommended!

The Center of Everything: A Novel The Center of Everything: A Novel by Laura Moriarty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

An enjoyable coming-of-age story set in the mid-80's, so of course I could relate to many of the cultural references. (I had forgotten about OP sweatshirts!)

Evelyn is in the middle of the U.S. (Kansas), in the middle of the conflict between her mother and her grandmother, torn between her love of science and newfound religion, and caught between her two best friends. I found her to be sympathetic and likeable and I wanted to know how her story turned out.

I Am a Mother I Am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book is largely a compilation of quotes from general authorities and noted authors, they are very good quotes!

I do find that, against my better judgment, I can get bogged down with motherhood from time to time. The tedium, the lack of feedback, the guilt, the constant wondering if I'm doing it well enough. The world does not value women who choose to stay home and raise families, so I have had that uncomfortable experience of having a so-called "successful" woman asking me what I'm doing and feeling like I am coming up short.

I know that this reflects poorly on me, that I am the one that needs to be vigilant about remembering that my role is a divine one, and that I chose this calling above all else. Johnson points out that our feelings and attitudes towards motherhood greatly impact our children, and I certainly want my children to know that I love this job and know that I couldn't be doing anything more important with my life. Even though it's the hardest job I can imagine.

Little Bee Little Bee by Chris Cleave

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An ambitious novel, one that has great sadness, some humor, and hope. I was really impressed with the author's ability to vacillate between wildly different voices: a teenage refugee from Nigeria, a young widow in a London suburb, and "the girls back home," all convincingly.

Little Bee is a wonderful character with some very difficult life experiences.

Favorite line: "I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly... Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived."

One Good Turn One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. Kate Atkinson is a pleasure to read - great characters, nicely interwoven stories, and some mystery to boot.

When Will There be Good News? When Will There be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While it's been a long time since I read Case Histories (and I don't have a great memory for books), I think this final book in the trilogy was my favorite.

Again, interesting, complex, likeable characters and an intricately drawn web of plot lines. Reggie, a plucky, precocious teenager is definitely my favorite character, although Jackson Brodie is still a big draw.

So glad I had this compelling read while being down with pneumonia!

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is unlike any other I've read. Truly, the title character, has some sort of hormonal disorder which causes her to grow quickly and to never stop. From birth, she is consigned to life as an outsider. Her perfectly beautiful, petite sister provides such a stark contrast that Truly seems even more large, ungainly, and freakish than she really is. Truly experiences a lot of heartache, a lot of strife, and yet she manages to find a measure of acceptance and happiness in her life.

I can't think of one character in this book that isn't a real case study (all of the Robert Morgans come to mind). Call it quirky, call it unusual, but you certainly can't call it boring.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to this audiobook. It had some interesting theories about how to effect change in our lives, or in the lives of others (as in a business setting). But it was awfully pedantic. Par for the course for most self-help books, I guess.Here's what I remember offhand:Shrink the change. Change the environment. Make the change into a new habit that is easier to adopt.Sometimes we aren't resistant to change as much as we are unclear about how we need to approach the change.I'll let you know if it actually helps me to make the change.

The Last Child The Last Child by John Hart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm going to give this a solid 3.5 stars.The mystery was great, it was a page-turner, the characters were interesting, it was just the subject matter that made it difficult (children abducted and murdered).13-year-old Johnny, whose twin had been abducted the previous year, was a fascinating character. His grieving father left the family, his mother completely fell apart and fell victim to a manipulative man who owned half the town, who alternately abused her and provided her with drugs. Johnny was relentless in the search for his sister, and had some pretty scary experiences along the way. Detective Hunt, who also refused to give up on the case and who developed a real affection and admiration for Johnny, was compelling as well.Recommended for fans of crime mysteries. Not for the faint of heart, however.

View all my reviews >>


Charlotte said...

I love book reviews!

jenn said...

When I read these posts, it makes me feel like I'm not really a reader. Love to hear about what you have read.

I'm playing catch up today- so I read through your posts. I didn't take time to comment on them all- I'm sorry. I feel overwhelmed and exhausted so hope you'll forgive me.

I love the banner along the fence at the wedding.
I'm happy to hear thumbs up for Toy Story since we are going in half an hour.
I'm SO, SO glad that you are feeling better and can carry in a 40# bag of dog food- a feat at any time!

Jill said...

It's so pleasing to see this bounty of book reviews, even though it's indicative of your pneumonia-induced downtime. At least you have this to show for it!

Susan said...

good grief! I get overwhelmed just imagining haveing the drive to read all those books!Maybe someday my life will cooperate with such ambition!

As for the role of motherhood, I can hear my mother's voice repeated over and over about the difficulty, responsibility and importance of motherhood as a profession. It is the most difficult job ever. Amen.

Michelle said...

I love how often we end up reading the same books...great minds think alike!

YOU are a FABULOUS mother - never doubt that!

everything pink! said...

michelle. i love this about you!
you amaze me.

emily said...

Excellent reviews! I need to flag this post for when I get to start a new book.

rebekah said...

Wait, you read all of these books this YEAR?! Mama, I might as well be illiterate...

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