Friday, September 14, 2012

books 2012: #28-35

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had never read this classic before Eva and I read it together! Incredibly imaginative. Who knew rats (and mice) could be so endearing?

The Used WorldThe Used World by Haven Kimmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Haven Kimmel, and I'm a fan of books set in small towns with quirky characters whose live intersect. I'm a fan of ordinary people who turn out to be heroes to each other.

The Girl Who Fell from the SkyThe Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A moving coming-of-age story of a biracial girl who is left without parents and struggling to find her place in the world.

The Story SistersThe Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like all Alice Hoffman books, this one has good writing, intriguing, well-developed characters, and a dash of magical realism. It's been awhile since I read her, but this book is more haunting than I remember. Tragedy and heartbreak, with just enough redemption to keep you from wanting to throw yourself over a bridge :).

I particularly liked the two grandmothers who would not give up on their granddaughters and meddled, in the best of ways, until their lives took a turn for the better.

A favorite passage:

"Maybe some love was guaranteed. Maybe it fit inside you and around you like skin and bones. This is what she remembered and always would: the sisters who sat with her in the garden, the grandmother who stitched her a dress the color of the sky, the man who spied her in the grass and loved her beyond all measure, the mother who set up a tent in the garden to tell her a story when she was a child, neither good nor bad, selfish nor strong, only a girl who wanted to hear a familiar voice as the dark fell down, and the moths rose, and the night was sure to come."

3.5 stars.

GoldGold by Chris Cleave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story of three world-class athletes (cyclists) and their quest for the Olympics was fascinating. Seeing what it really takes to achieve that kind of elite status in a sport is interesting and rather mind-blowing, but it also leaves you wondering if it is worth the sacrifice. I liked Tom, the coach, and Sophie, the little girl with leukemia. Her coping mechanisms of placing herself in the midst of Star Wars are quite endearing.

The language never lets you forget this is written by a Brit.

Good book club discussion.

This Is Where I Leave YouThis Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise sounded promising (dysfunctional Jewish family gathering for a shiva for their non-practicing father). While some of the writing was clever, a lot of the plot was too predictable and slapstick, like a dumb comedy that I would hate. Plus, there was such a preponderance of profanity, I couldn't really recommend it to anyone.

Cat's CradleCat's Cradle by Chieko N. Okazaki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book slowly, over a period of a few months, picking it up and reading a chapter here and there. (Each chapter is a separate address.) It changed how I think about a lot of things. I found myself thinking about things I had read in it over the weeks and months.

Here are the two main takeaways for me:

1. Celebrate our diversity.
2. Don't judge each other.

I am determined to do a better job at both of these things after reading this book.

Still AliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is heartbreaking. While I'm sure Alzheimer's disease is always terrible, the early-onset version seems particularly terrible. To be shut down in your early 50's, while you're still in the midst of your career and you think you have many many good years ahead, and to be so awfully aware of the degeneration of not only your memories but all of your faculties, really, well it's almost unbearable just to even read about.

This is not one I am likely to forget (no pun intended), even with my notoriously bad memory. I found this book to be educational, moving, and beautiful.

View all my reviews


Tasha said...

I started reading The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and then picked up something else. I will have to pick up that other one about the small town you recommended. I read This is Where I Leave you and felt the same way, inceredibly let down by it. I am in a book drought, I am kind of reading a text book right now, and its very interesting, but its not like reading a good novel, you know?

Diane said...

Michelle, I love your book reviews and recommendations. Still Alice was my favorite book of 2011. What a heartbreaking book and yet such a moving book. Early onset Alzheimers is one of the most cruel diseases that people our age may have to face.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I loved Still Alice, too. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

It was interesting. We read it for our bookclub and two of the women had fathers with Alzheimers. One loved the book and thought it described it perfectly, the other didn't like the book at all and didn't think it was realistic.

I just know that I loved it and appreciated it and felt much more educated.

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