Monday, December 13, 2010

Fall Reads

I've missed posting here monthly, but quarterly will have to do for now. Maybe soon I can post more regularly.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - 9/8/2010
Excellent - Classic Re-read (AUDIO version)
Catherine Morland visits Bath and falls in love.
I am so glad I read this again. The girls I am teaching are reading all 6 of the Austen novels this school year and I'm reading along with them, of course. Northanger Abbey was first. The reading experience was so much richer this time around. Listened to the librivox version.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman - 9/10/2010
Good - Suspense
Eliza Benedict is contacted by her kidnapper/rapist 25 years later because he wants her testimony to save him from the death penalty.
Interesting since it deals with the aftermath of a serious crime - not just the immediate results, but the long term effects on a victim's life.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - 9/20/2010
Good - Young Adult
Katniss becomes a reluctant leader in the Rebellion against the capital, but who can she trust?
The long-awaited third volume in the Hunger Games trilogy. I wasn't entirely on board with the direction the story went but the outcome was pleasing, if seemingly a little rushed.

The Last Lie by Stephen White - 9/25/2010
Fair - Suspense
Psychologist Alan Gregory has new neighbors and an "incident" occurs at their housewarming party that has the Gregory family concerned for their safety.
I once enjoyed reading the Alan Gregory novels by Stephen White, but this one was just not that good. The one before this wasn't all that great either. I doubt I'll make an effort to read the next one.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen - 9/27/2010
Excellent - Fiction
Mary Beth has the perfect life but isn't sure she wants it until tragedy shakes her world.
Stayed up long past my bedtime reading, once the tragedy struck. I love Anna Quindlen and her books aren't at all formulaic.

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon - 10/17/2010
Fair - Graphic Novel
The backstory of Outlander told through the perspective of Jamie's relative, Murtagh.
OK - You know I adore Gabaldon. But I do not adore graphic novels. I tend to be not very observant of illustrations and this made it hard for me to read this. I did find the story interesting although some of the additions to the story seemed a little far-fetched.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert - September?
Fair - Memoir
The follow-up to Eat Pray Love telling of Gilbert's subsequent marriage
Wow, the self-absorbed rantings and tales of Elizabeth Gilbert continue.

Room by Emma Donoghue - 10/21/2010
Good - Suspense
5-year-old Jack and his mother are captives and he has never left the Room.
I loved this one - very original and told through the eyes of the little boy.

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen - 10/25/2010
Good - Classic (AUDIO version)
Two impoverished sisters of opposite temperaments fall in love and face problems.
Another re-read due to my Austentatious class. I liked S&S better the second time too. Listened to the librivox version.

Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell - 10/27/2010
Excellent - Memoir
A memoir of the friendship between the author and her best friend who died of cancer
Very touching and insightful book about the nature of friendship and the author's memories of her best friend, now deceased.

In the Still of the Night by Ann Rule - 11/2/2010
Fair - True Crime
Did Ronda Reynolds commit suicide or was she murdered? Her mother takes on the county coroner's determination of suicide.
Another disappointing read from a favorite author. I've loved Ann Rule's books for years, but the latest few have not been what I expect from her. The story seemed amateurish and clunky.

The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths by Pat Brown - 11/4/2010
Fair - True Crime
Self-taught profiler (& former homeschool mom) Pat Brown describes her background, methods and selected cases.
This looked promising, but wouldn't you think a profiler would include her SUCCESSFUL cases in a book about her career? Well, not a single case in this book was solved with Brown's input. Most are still unsolved. So, all we have are her OPINIONS that her skill could have solved the crime. Those stupid police officers just don't believe her. Can you hear the sarcasm? The cases were interesting but no resolutions means that it's just frustrating to read.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer - 11/7/2010
Excellent - Memoir
During the famine of 2002, teenage Malawian William Kamkwamba had to drop out of school and began to study electricity and physics, eventually constructing a windmill out of scrap parts that provided electricity for his family.
This was a wonderful story about this young man's fortitude and ingenuity set against the backdrop of the recent famines in Malawi, Africa. It's told more like a memoir than a cohesive story, and is filled with a good deal of technical information, but the story is compelling.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - 11/8/2010
Excellent - Romance
Pampered Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara must survive throughout the demanding Civil War and Reconstruction.
This was GREAT! Read it! (This was my third reading of this novel, I believe - once as a teen and once as a twenty-something and then now.) I read the first half in print and then listened to the second half.

The Danvers Touch by Elizabeth Lowell - 11/8/2010
Good - Romance
Photographer Cat meets rich ship-builder Travis Danvers and is assigned to photograph him for a book.
The Danvers Touch was recommended in a romance writers' resource as a good example of romance writing, so I found it on paperbackswap a couple years ago. Just now got around to reading it. It's rather an old book (1980's?) so the romance is a little dated, but I can see why it's upheld as a good example. Lots of purple prose, lol.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - 11/17/2010
Excellent - Classic (AUDIO version)
Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr. Darcy find that they must learn to put aside both their pride and their prejudice in order to appreciate one another.
The third re-read Austen re-read for my class. Loved this. I remember it being so hard to read the first time. I listened to the audiobook (free on librivox) and it was AWESOME!

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig - 11/28/2010
Good - Romance
Authorized by Margaret Mitchell's estate, this novel tells the story of Rhett Butler from childhood and his love story with Scarlett O'Hara, extending past the ending of Gone with the Wind.
I was unaware of this authorized sequel until a friend told me about it at book club. I'd read Scarlett back in the day and it wasn't at all what I'd hoped. This novel tells of Rhett's life before Scarlett, continues with his perspective of the events of Gone with the Wind, and then continues. I thought it gave a little too much history and a little too much focus to other characters. But there were some interesting additions to the original storyline and the conclusion we all crave.

ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel - 11/20/2010
Fair - Parenting (AUDIO version)
The title pretty much says it all.
Great premise, a little too child-centered for my tastes, but by the end I thought Runkel had a good perspective. I listened to the audiobook and I'd rather have been able to see the page for this one.

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