Tuesday, October 07, 2008

September Reads in Review

My cat is reading Bedlam South. And, if you believe that one I have some excellent swamp-land . . .

September was a pretty decent reading month for me, although there were some odd gaps during which I finished nothing, nothing, nothing followed by a flurry of completed books. I suppose that's par for the course, but the gaps felt longer than normal. In the end, I completed 12 books with a total of 3,383 pages. There were dramatic highs and lows. I seemed to either love or hate a book, this month; there wasn't a lot of in-between. Maybe because of illness, books were held to a higher standard. If you're feeling lousy, you want to be enormously entertained ("vaguely" just will not suffice) between naps. If I reviewed a book, there will be a link you can click on to read the full review.

Bookfool's September Reads:

1. Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate - Life and love in small-town Texas. I laughed, I cried; I loved this book.

2. The Words of War by Donagh Bracken - Civil War history; hard reading but it was worth the effort. Thanks to Mr. Bracken, I can now recognize names of critical players and battles.

3. Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland - Not about all the lonely people -- just a few of them, mostly Canadian. Sort of depressing, with an upbeat ending. Also, if you click on the link you can read probably the weirdest review I've ever written.

4. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner - A fictional tale of Juana the Mad that seems plausible enough and treats her with sympathy. It was rough being royal. Well-written and engaging.

5. Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn - The true story of a mother who refused to give up on her severely damaged child and the miracle that emerged from her love and tireless effort. A book that deserves to be widely read. Beautifully written.

6. Chameleon, Butterfly, Dragonfly: A Divine Guide to Lasting Fulfillment by Cindy Silbert - New Age advice channeled to the author by a Hawaiian goddess. Breeni liked it. I found the book flaky and unhelpful.

7. Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith - Twofers on the "yeesh" factor. Psychic healing, drugs, sex, rock 'n roll. Readable, but sordid. Not my thing.

8. Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage (YA) - Ah, there we go. Adventure with a sense of humor. A few too many bad guys to easily keep track of, but whatever. Great escapist reading. The kiddo loved it and I appreciated the family-friendliness.

9. The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman - My first Austen off-shoot and I had to work at letting go of my Mr. Darcy a bit, but once I did . . . such fun. Witty and surprisingly true to the characters in many ways.

10. Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky (YA) - Graphic sex without any real moral dilemma, no paying the consequences for reckless actions. A review would have been akin to throwing the author against a wall and shooting her, so I passed my copy on to a friend who will undoubtedly love it and review it in glowing terms.

11. An Inconvenient Truth adapted for a New Generation by Al Gore (YA) - The kids' version of Al Gore's book on global warming, packed with photos and very well presented (although I do believe a few of those charts would go over kids' heads). Made me want to hug my trees, save the rainforest and the glaciers, snuggle up with a polar bear. I don't see how anyone could disbelieve the evidence, but my husband and I promptly had an argument about global warming and I had to explain those past warming fluctuations and how they compare with the current warming trend. I claim victory in that little tiff.

12. Awakening the Genie Within by Bettye Johnson - The author is old and shares plenty of wisdom, but her religious beliefs are so far removed from mine, that . . . again . . . I thought a review would be a slaughter. I'm not willing to flay authors, so I'll just tell you that the book is similar to Chameleon, Butterfly, Dragonfly in its New-Age, female-power approach but with a dude named Ramtha (whose name is a registered trademark -- beat that) as the god being channeled. Too much of a stretch for me.

What now?

I just finished Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, this morning. The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser is rather chunky and I'm a little thick, myself, so it will take me a while. But, I have already had to reach for tissues. Musser knows how to engage a reader emotionally. I'm on the downhill slide in Occasional Therapy for Your Midlife Years by Ellyn Gamberg. It's hard to relate, at times, but it's a good book and it was just me getting hung up, not the author missing the boat entirely. I set The Dharma King aside because I hadn't touched it in a week, but not due to either the writing or the storyline. It was a focus issue. I've decided I'll start it over, again, in a week or two, so the reading can be fresh.

What about Bob?

Fred, first. Remember Bob and Fred, our spiders? Fred disappeared for a few days and then returned to the same old web. Bob hung out for a while and then abandoned his (gigantic, awe-inspiring, squirrel-entangling) web. Said the kiddo, "He's probably around. Bob's a mover."

Do you know your nursery rhymes?

Remember Jack and Jill? The old woman who lived in a shoe? Mary, Mary, quite contrary? I thought everyone knew those old Mother Goose rhymes until I moved to Vicksburg. I'd successfully used "Little Jack Horner" to clarify my last name, many times, while we were still living in Oklahoma. But, I hadn't tried that in quite a while . . . till school began in August. The new security guard at my son's school was having a terrible time remembering my name, so I said, "Do you know your nursery rhymes? Remember this, when you see my car . . . 'Little Jack Horner sat in the corner.' " Apparently, she doesn't know her Mother Goose. She's been calling me "Miz Corner," ever since.

Off to my corner to read. I've got to go motivate the teenager to work on abstracts while he's off school. He has this really, really bad grade he needs to fix. This is one of those points during which a mother says to herself, "So, why did I stay home with my kids? I could have been earning money, setting an example for hard work and watching my retirement income disappear!" Actually, that last bit makes staying home sound worthwhile.

Giveaway coming up when I can get to it. Be patient with me, please!


  1. The throwing the author against the wall bit cracked me up. I feel that way sometimes, but then I just never finish the book without officially deciding not to finish.

  2. Lisa,

    Well, it was a quick read, you see . . . so I guess I just felt like I might as well "charge through". Really, it would have been better if I'd given up, but at least the book has found a new home with someone who is not likely to hang the author out to dry. I'm all for being kind to authors.

  3. Miz Corner? Geez. Gotta love those folks that missed the nursery rhymes completely.

    You are a reading MACHINE, my friend!

    And speaking of review books for ER (you asked a few days ago), we haven't been sending out lists because of shipping costs, but expect an e-mail from me. I have a few I need to get rid of because they're TAKING OVER MY HOUSE.

  4. Andi,

    I know, really it's sad. There is such a huge gap, here; people are missing out on the real joy, IMHO. I loved Mother Goose.

    Well, I try.

    I asked because I wondered if I was missing something. Not long ago my email went totally hinky, ya know. You know what you should do for Estella? See if you can get the authors or publishers to send directly to your reviewers. I've done that with drawings. It just makes sense to cut out the middle-man and the extra expense. I do still occasionally feel like I need to do a drawing to get some of those ARCs out from under foot, though. I know exactly where you're coming from! Do you fear an uprising?

  5. Anonymous12:19 AM

    I'm so happy to see someone who did not like Anatomy of a Boyfriend. All's I've seen is glowing reviews. I've been contacted by the author to review this book twice but have zero desire to read it. Perhaps if she actually looked around my blog she would realize that I hate sex with my books. Not a good match for me and glad that somebody thinks it's not worth my time either.

  6. Anonymous7:50 AM

    "Miz Corner" sounds too close to coroner... just sayin'.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your posts! so engaging and fun to read. I respect that you read books that you know you may not agree with. And I love that you can be kind to authors even when you don't like the book.

  7. Natasha,

    I share your relief; it's nice to know you're not even interested. :) I've only seen glowing reviews, also. I chose to read the book because I love YA, but I really had no idea it was going to be pretty much all about the sex. And, it's very detailed. There was very little relationship; it was all about sneaking off to the grandparents' condo. I think I would have found the book acceptable if the relationship had built up slowly and there had been some sort of consequences (like a pregnancy scare, getting caught, etc.), although it still wouldn't have been my thing. Good for you, turning the book down!


    I know; I've thought of that. To be honest, I'm tempted to make a sign that says, "Mrs. HORNER." I don't know if I can stand another 27 weeks of, "Okay, gotcha Miz Corner!"

    Well, thank you for that. I've been published and I know how easy it is to take negative comments personally (plus, I really do like authors) so I try to give everyone a fair shake. If I can't be totally objective, I'd rather find a book a new home and let someone else try. :)

  8. Uh oh...I have Anatomy of a Boyfriend that I need to read soon. I was already a little nervous about reading it, and now I am even more so!

  9. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Correct her, she will call you Mrs Corner until the end of yours days. And who does not know Little Jack Horner? That's just sad.

    Ah. That's why titles like Sex With Kings jump out at me when I was looking for books for you. Both my innate contrariness and actually, you'd probably like it. However, really, I would keep it for myself. I'd just "mean" to send it to you.

    The Last Queen was quite good! A little too much sex but not horrifying amounts. Other than her horrifying husband.

    Aw, Spooky. A well read cat.

  10. Since Little Jack "stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum," I'd like to know which of the dozen books you finished is the "plum" of the lot.

    I read the adult version of An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore and was VERY impressed by the evidence, though I was already a believer in global warming and the way we are murdering the planet.

  11. So tell us how you really feel about the Boyfriend book :)

    I haven't started it yet but in a way I'm glad I've seen such opposing reviews to this one. Sometimes it's the ones that have all glowing reviews that are a bit of a disappointment you know.

    And, yes, yes loved the Nia Wyn book!

  12. Laura,

    Who knows -- you might love it! But, I thought it was gross. And, personally, I think I could have tolerated a book about teen sex if it was more along the lines of being so crazy about each other that they couldn't keep their hands off, but it's more like . . . she's curious and pressures him, but he's a guy so he's not going to say no. And, it's really graphic.


    I've said, "HORNER, with an H" about 2 dozen times. Some people are just incorrigible.

    Hahaha. Buy it, read it, keep it.

    If The Last Queen were a football game, I'd chant, "Kick him in the codpiece! Kick him in --" till they kicked me out. Oh, that evil Philip!

    Spooky is very well read. Every time she pulls a book off the shelf, I'm amazed.


    I hate choosing just one favorite, but I'd say Talk of the Town. It's clean, funny, emotionally engaging and the romance is sweet.

    Yep, me too. You can't photograph nature without learning to love it, so I've been kind of het up about planet murder for a while. It's fascinating to find that if you read the reviews, people get extremely emotional. Those who choose not to believe in global warming, for whatever reason, jump all over Gore and say he has no statistical evidence. Tell that to the drowning polar bears.


    LOL In one word: "yuck".

    Yeah, too many glowing reviews can ruin a book, just because you go into the reading with such high expectations. I know what you mean.

    Isn't Blue Sky July amazing? I was totally blown away.

  13. Anonymous8:07 AM

    I have to get An Inconvenient Truth for my kids. Thanks for the tip -- I didn't know an YA edition was out there.

    I'm giving away a book you might like -- sort of about an early mid-life crisis -- Allison Winn Scotch's Time of My Life.

    I'm at www.thefamilythatreadstogether.blogspot.com

  14. Clever kitty! ;)

    You did have a good month! And just you mentioning your Eleanor Rigby review made me smile!

  15. Kristen,

    I hadn't heard a work about a YA edition, but I flip through the new YA books at the library, now and then. And, there it was, beckoning to me. I made a beeline to the checkout desk.

    I'll come check out your giveaway, thanks! :)


    She's very clever. Now that the nights are getting cold, kitty is showing her particular skill for zoning in on the warm spots.

    LOL! I'm glad you enjoyed that review. It was more than a little insane. ;)

  16. Too funny - Miz Corner!

    I so want to read a Wingate book and Blue Sky July interests me as well.

  17. Joy,

    I think you'd like Lisa Wingate. Her characters are sweet, caring people. I still have Tending Roses on my shelf -- need to get to that one.

    Blue Sky July is beautifully written, deeply meaningful and a quick read. I highly recommend it. It's a truly amazing story.

  18. ...there were some odd gaps during which I finished nothing, nothing, nothing

    This sounds like how I've been doing this month. It's already the 11th and I've yet to finish a book. I read a page or two and fall asleep. You wound up having a good both, though, so there's still hope for me!

  19. Les,

    That's exactly what was happening to me. I kept falling asleep reading. But, I still managed to finish a decent number. There's always hope! :)


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