Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The best thing about reading a good book is that it helps you get your mind off of everyday getting the flu for example.
cough cough...
It all started on Thanksgiving and hasn't really left the building as of yet.
Not sure if it was/is the swine flu or not- but either way I feel like a swine's ass.
I can't wait to feel healthy again- no more coughing non stop, feeling like crap or eye socket pain.
yes I said eye socket pain- even my eye muscles hurt- what's up with that?
I slept for almost 11 hours last night and I still feel tired- geez.
one day you start to feel better the next....crap-o-la.
anyhow I won't go on- but at least I managed to read a few great books before the non-stop phlegm ensued.

Still Alice- By Lisa Genova
From the Publisher
Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman''s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer''s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer''s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what''s it''s like to literally lose your mind...

At first I was a little reluctant to read this book- thinking it to be pretty depressing sounding.
But much to my surprise I enjoyed it quite a bit and was drawn in right from the first page.
It really makes you stop to appreciate the every day things in life.
really liked this book and found myself thinking about Alice for weeks after I finished it.

People Of The Book- By Geraldine Brooks
From the Publisher
In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient bindingaan insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hairashe begins to unlock the bookas mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the bookas journey from its salvation back to its creation.
In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siA]cle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the cityas rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadahas extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hannaas investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.
Inspired by a true story, "People of the Book" is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.

This book was sitting on my bookshelf for months and for some reason I never felt like reading it- until a couple of weeks ago.
Coincidentally in conjunction with the Jewish High Holidays...
This was by no means a light read and at times I struggled through- but I also found it fascinating and felt compelled to keep reading.
All in all a very interesting book, and imaginative. This book is much more about history, human connection, and hope, than it is about a book, or even about religion.
This was my second book I have read by Geraldine Brooks- the Year Of Wonders was also a good pick. (though I didn't make the connection until about half way through the book)

Olive Kitteridge- By Elizabeth Strout
From the Publisher
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

Maybe it's just me, but I found this book boring and underwhelming.
but finished it hoping for some plot twist at the end.
which unfortunately never happened.
Pulitzer prize...humph?

The Ballad of West Tenth Street by Margorie Kernan
From the Publisher
Once upon a time in Manhattan . . .
. . . there stood a pair of fine old brick townhouses on West Tenth Street. One had a blue door with a tarnished brass knocker in the shape of a dolphin. The other was empty. Behind the blue door lived Sadie, the widow of a famous British rocker who died of an overdose, and two of her children, Hamish and Deen.
The children manage to muddle along as best they can with a loving but distracted mother. But their whole world changes when the house next door gets a new owner-a mysterious Southerner who quickly endears himself to his new neighbors, taking them-and their friends-under his protective wing. In doing so, he transforms everything.
Magical, lively, lovely, and unique, The Ballad of West Tenth Street is a contemporary urban fairy tale that delightfully reimagines real life.

I Loved this book! I cannot recommend it enough.
It is absolutely delightful, quirky, sweet and honest and very, very wise.
Makes me want to pack up and move to NYC.

Rush Home Road- Lori Lansens

This novel is a page turner. I didn't want to put it down.
The story of an old lady with many stories to her life and a little girl with terrible stories of her own. You will want only the best for Addy and Sharla- and get frustrated when the best doesn't often happen for them.
Lori Lansens is a wonderful story teller, I found myself compelled to keep going to find out what would happen next.
I am really looking forward to reading her other novels- The Wife's Tale and The Girls.

The Shadow Of The Wind- Carlos Zafon
From the Publisher
Barcelona, 1945-A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called "The Shadow of the Wind," by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax''s other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written. Soon the boy realizes that "The Shadow of the Wind" is as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget, for the mystery of its author''s identity holds the key to an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret.

This book came highly recommended- and well I guess at times I was into it and then for some reason I just couldn't wait to finished it- and it had nothing to do with it being suspenseful- I just wanted to be done with it.
I have only read positive and rave reviews so maybe it was just me??

The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield
From the Publisher
Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father''s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain''s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise - she doesn''t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter''s dozens of novels.

Late one night, while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter''s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father''s rare copy of Miss Winter''s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.

As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter''s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. In the end, both women have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets. As well as the ghosts that haunt them still.

I LOVED this book.
Possibly my favourite of the year so far.
Pick this one up- you won't be disappointed.

The Disappeared- Kim Echlin
This story of passionate love between a Canadian and her Cambodian lover evokes their tumultuous relationship in a world of colliding values. Set against the backdrop of horrific loss, these two self-exiled lovers struggle to recreate themselves in a world that rejects their hopes. Spare, unrelenting, and moving, The Disappeared is an unforgettable consideration of love, language, justice, and memory set against the backdrop of the killing fields of Pol Pot.

This was an excellent book and I found myself remembering all the horrible things we saw on a trip to Cambodia several years ago.
It's hard to believe things like that actually happened and it is gut wrenching knowing how it tore families apart.

I'm currently stuck on a book called A Field Of darkness- not loving it so far...but hanging in there.
you never know...
any other good book suggestions to help get me through cold & flu season?


kurrabikid said...

Of your list I've only read People of the Book - but really loved that. I would highly recommend Zoli by Colum McCann to you - about a Gypsy singer. Is sensational!

Mommy Jo said...

I read Still Alice last month and like you keep thinking of her!

You went to Cambodia! Awesome.

Now I'll check your other reads. Thanks for sharing!

amanda said...

I'm just wrapping up the Twilight saga... something I never thought I'd ever even consider picking up, let alone reading... and really liking. Other than that I haven't got much. Have you read City of Thieves? That's the last thing I can remember reading and loving before the twilight stuff.

Thanks for all of the great reviews/ideas!! We seem to have very similar likes - I loved The Thirteenth Tale too... and so many more you've discussed in the past. Anywho, bring on the book "reviews"!

...and so on it goes said...

I also LOOOOOVED The Thirteenth Tale, it was such a great book!!!

I will definitely check out The Ballad of West Tenth Street.

Thanks for the reviews!!!

kgirl said...

Well, The Slap made my flu worse, but I'm loving Homer & Langley, the new Bonnie Burard (ok, that one is depressing) and I LOVED Revolutionary Road.

sam lamb said...

oooh - as soon as i figure out how to read again, you've given me some great books to gather up! especially liking the sounds of "the ballad of west tenth street".

we all need a little nyc from time to time.