The Year In Books: May 2015

Well this month is slightly better than last!  At least I’ll have a good twenty days to read this month’s book!

April’s choice was another Jodi Picoult novel.  Lone Wolf.  Not the best choice I could have made considering my past four months… Once I started reading it and realized it would touch on the issue of whether or not one should pull the plug on a patient who is brain-dead, I could have stopped.  I’ve always been a little bit of a masochist though!  In my case there was no opposition to the choice being made but I can only imagine how hard it would be if, as in the case of this book, two siblings have differing views.

As per usual, Picoult delves into a most difficult subject with much research, empathy and heart.  Once again the story is told in a multitude of voices:  The Lone Wolf himself, Luke Warren, who is the patient in question; his son, Edward; his daughter, Cara; his ex-wife, Georgie; the lawyer representing the son, Joe; and a couple of others.  Each chapter is a new voice which weaves the story together.   It was a fascinating read ~ Luke Warren studied wolves in great depth, including living with them in Quebec for a period of two years:  hunted with them, lived with them, participated in whatever rituals, etc. So very interesting.  His telling of his relationship with the wolves is woven into his relationships in the human world which also helps the reader understand his view of life.  As in most families, each member has their own image of other members of the family.  It is not always in synch with the others.  This is the case in this story, both the son and the daughter are convinced they know their dad best and that their choice is best.  I’ll leave it at that and let you enjoy it!

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This month I am going in a whole ‘nother direction!  I have been writing Friday Fictioneers for about a month or so now, and the hostess of this fun Friday activity is Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  She just published a book and I thought why not encourage someone I am blogger friends with? So I pre-ordered the book and lo and behold, it arrived three days ago!  Perfect timing.  Please Say Kaddish For Me is the name of the book and is the story of a Jewish girl who, at the age of 16, escapes the brutal massacre by the Czarist tyranny that destroys her home and slaughters her family on a frigid November night in 1899.  It is the story of a time and place rarely spoken of, and romance and courage so profound as to be rarely experienced.

As a big fan of historical stories, I am looking forward to digging into this one!

 

The Year in Books – April 2015

Oh dear.  March came and went and no new book to add.  It took me forever to read American Gods ~ and not because I did not enjoy it.  I did.  I just couldn’t seem to read more than a page or three at a time.  And I don’t think this is the type of book that you should take long breaks reading!  There were times I got confused in the story and had to go back.  Once I got a rhythm going, I was better able to keep up with the many characters and storylines that popped up suddenly.  I found myself thinking:  What? a few times!  It was WEIRD.  But in a good way!  Would I recommend it to just anyone? No.   Am I glad my niece recommended it to me?  Absolutely.  I may even read it again at another time in my life where I can give it my full attention.   I actually understood more of it when I read others’ critiques of the book!  Not a good sign, I would think…  I didn’t fully grasp the war between the Old gods and the New gods until I read someone’s comment and a light bulb went on.  D’oh.  Again, I think it may have not been the best book for me at this time in my life.  I consider myself a rather intelligent woman and don’t enjoy the feeling of not quite being sure I “get” it.

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After reading something that required more than the attention I was willing/able to give, I am returning to a favourite author, Jodi Picoult.  This one was suggested by both of my sisters and a niece.  Lone Wolf would not necessarily have ended up in my hands otherwise.  Then again, it probably would have eventually as I am never disappointed by Ms Picoult’s offerings and figure I will read them all.  She does a lot of research on her subjects and has a way with telling both sides of a story that just draws me in every time.  Why else would I want to read a story of a man brought up by wolves?

 

 

The Year In Books – August 2014

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Back from vacation and trying to get back into a groove (but not yet trying that hard)!  As predicted, I took the time to read whilst on the Jersey Shore.  Now… did I read what I said I’d read? Not exactly!  Yes, I did officially finish As Always, Julia (there were a mere 20 pages left) and it just made me want to start cooking à la Julia but I was camping so I had to improvise!  (Not too many have duck breasts and cedar-plank salmon when camping…)  And, I knew there would be quite a few shows taped of The French Chef  waiting for me when I got home. (Isn’t the Universe grand?  Here I am all in love with Julia Child and Gusto TV decides to air old ’60’s episodes!  So fun to watch these old black and white shows with Julia often out of breath….

O.K… got off track there for a second!  My first official book for July was Jodi Picoult’s Change of Heart. As per usual, Ms. Picoult draws you into a difficult situation, shows you both sides (or more) to the story and makes you think.  As she has done for several of her books, each chapter is one person’s voice (and written in a different font).  This story is about a death-row inmate (first in 69 years) who wishes to donate his heart to his victim’s sister.  It’s told in the voices of June, mother of the victim; Michael, a Catholic priest; Lucius, a fellow inmate and Maggie, his lawyer; all woven together to tell this difficult story.

Death penalty, human rights, religion, organ donation:  these are some serious subjects that can cause heated discussions.  Picoult never preaches when each one is brought forth.  I am amased at the amount of research she puts into each and every book she writes, this one included.  I won’t say more as I would hate to divulge anything inadvertently! Definitely worth the read.

After about an hour to mourn the end of my book, my sister handed me the one she had just finished.  I had not thought to bring a second book so I figured pourquoi pas?  This particular one falls in the category we like to call:  historical smut book!  Which was exactly what I needed after the emotional roller coaster ride I had just been on!  This was a no-brain-required-yet-enjoyable-romp-kind of book called A Rogue By Any Other Name20140731_154209 by Sarah MacLean.  You know how these go: boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy ravishes girl and all ends well… Sometimes that just hits to spot!

It’s just as well I hadn’t brought my second book to the beach:  Every Day in Tuscany – turns out it comes AFTER this month’s selection!  Funny how that works, eh?

 

The Year in Books – July

After a most beautiful June (okay, the last part of the month anyway!) we now find ourselves in July, which for us, means vacation time!  This year we are actually doing two trips:  next week, a five-day/four-night trip to New Hampshire which will include climbing Mount Washington.  Weather permitting, of course.  It if is as hot as the last week of July, I am NOT going to climb!  No way, José!  That said, we’ll see once there.  The second trip will be a return to Cape May, New Jersey.  We so enjoy going there with my sister and her family and whichever friends also choose to join us.

What does all this mean?  Time to READ!  Without guilt!  Without worrying that the house needs to be cleaned!  I will be able to finally finish June’s choice, “As Always, Julia”.  Though I am enjoying this book, I must take breaks.  Most of the letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto  are fun to read.  Those ladies wrote (typed) some really long letters!  The reason I need to take breaks is because both of the ladies were very political.  This book covers the letters between 1952 to 1961 which is also the during the time Julia was creating “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. (It was a loooooong process!) I’m not American so when it comes to the political scene during the McCarthy era, they kinda lose me!  That said, I’ve a good 100 or so pages to go and then I will start my July selections!

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I dream of going to Tuscany one day (and regularly threaten my family that once I go, I’ll not come back!) and I loved the original book Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and, though they changed some of the story line, I loved the movie too!  When I saw this book, I just grabbed it with the intention of reading it when I felt like pretending I lived there…. That time has come.  I’m counting on Every Day in Tuscany to be just as wonderful as the first and just as loaded in fantastic recipes.  Talk about combining two of my loves:  cooking and reading!

I chose a second book this time because we will be on vacation and I end up reading LOTS.  I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult, though I don’t like to read two of her books in a row – usually too heartbreaking and oft times her endings are not overly happy.   Change of Heart has been on my shelf for a good while (borrowed from my sister as I do for all of Picoult’s books!) because I was waiting for a time to be in the mood for her style.  The way she presents more than one side to a story is amasing.  She is a pro at it.  Must spend hours and hours researching and she remains quite objective throughout.  Looking forward to sinking into a comfy chair with a nice glass of wine or a Caesar or a beer!