Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I feel quiet.

I'm not sure why. Perhaps the change of season is sending me within. Maybe the fact that I have a busy few weeks ahead and a trip coming up. Could it be that I am dreading a long and exhausting 6 months ahead at work due to flu season? I just know that right now the thought of putting something coherent in this space is stressing me out. And that is not what this space is for. So I am going to move back for a short time. I am going to warm the house by cooking. I am going to try to persuade The Girl to read more chapter books. I am going to visit my favorite blogs for relaxation. I am going to read good books and drink tea with honey. I am going to walk The Freedom Trail and eat heaps of fish. And then I will be back. See you then.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I had the good fortune to read two excellent books in the past week that grabbed me and didn't let go.

This first was Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave. The publisher's description is unusual; basically we can't tell you anything except that it's about two women and a terrible choice. That's it. I am such a sucker for things like that, but in this case I'd say it paid off. This is the story of two women. One is a teenage refugee from Nigeria who has been living in what is basically a jail for people trying to immigrate. The other is a typical British woman, working mother and wife. They first met two years ago under horrific and unbelievable circumstances and now they meet again in the present. This was an intense and serious read and I thought the author did an excellent job conveying the issues in Nigeria and the disturbing way people trying to flee their countries are treated. He also excelled at giving each woman a distinct and unique voice. I would certainly recommend this book.

The other book I finished in about a day was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Wow, what a ride! I think everyone knows what this is about, right? It's life in the future, and teenage contestants are forced to participate in a televised 'game show' in which everyone must die - except for one. Talk about compelling reading! And this despite the fact that I sort of assumed the ending from the beginning - this is the first of three in a series - after all. If you like some sci-fi with your reading along with great characterization read this! I now really want to get my hands on the follow up, Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games). I'll be waiting awhile; I'm number 24 on the library waiting list.

Have a great weekend! We are expecting freezing temperatures and flurries! Lucky us. I can never belive that I moved here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My book club met on Monday night to discuss Those Who Save Us. This was the first book all year that we all finished and that we all liked - quite an event for us. The enjoyment of the book ranged from those who thought it was 'fine, readable, maybe missing something' to those who 'really liked it'. All in all, it was a success. A good discussion of an atypical holocaust book, one in which we see the point of view of the German civilians.


Does this ever happen to you? You finally get around to reading a book by an author praised by critics and fans alike and find yourself...totally underwhelmed? That's what happened to me when I read P.D. James' Innocent Blood. P.D. James is well known for her detective series and since I don't generally gravitate toward those sorts of series I chose to read this stand alone novel.

The premise is intriguing. Philippa is an adopted British woman who upon turning 18 seeks to discover the names of her birth parents. What she discovers about her parents and their involvement in a murder is horrifying. Phillipa's story is juxtaposed with that of a man hungry for revenge who creeps around London hunting his prey. It sounds interesting, yes, but in actuality I found this book very...dull. There is great description of place, but the characters were one dimensional. Oh the characters! Never has a more unlikable group of people appeared in one book! The 'bad' people were utterly void of morals, and the 'good' or shall we say 'better' people were not much better.

I think Innocent Blood would have worked well as a short story. This format would have given the reader more of feeling of tension. As it is, the story plodded along until the last 75 pages which I found satisfying. Except for the very creepy and corrupt event that happened in the epilogue. Ugh.

Someone told me, 'If you're looking for a good mystery, you can't go wrong with P.D. James.' For me, that hasn't proved to be the case, but I'm willing to give her another try one of these days.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Guily Pleasures

Emily Barr's books are guilty pleasures for me. I first came across her writing when traveling in London in 2001 and it seemed every other woman riding on the tube was reading Backpack. You could hardly blame anyone wanting to read a book with a beach on the cover in the middle of February.

Over the years, I've read most of Barr's books. It was helpful that they were being published here, but the more recent ones have not been.

Barr's latest book, The Life you Want, picks up the story of Tansy, the main character in Backpack. Travel-lover Tansy is living a life she never expected, an ordinary existence, mothering two boys, wife to a man who works late, lusting after her son's teacher, and drinking too much to get through the day. Tansy hears from an old friend in India who needs her help and lucky girl that she is, she is off. After spending a few days alone, Tansy travels to see her friend. Soon, she is spending her days enmeshed in life at the 'center' where her friend lives. But all is not as it should be and Tansy finds herself in the middle of big mess.

I would probably classify Emily Barr's books as chick lit with a twist. She generally writes of women with a secret or as here, women who get in over their head. Some heavy topics, but written with a light and humorous hand. The Life You Want is a fun, escapist read. I could see where the story was going but that didn't spoil any of the fun for me since I was curious to see how Tansy would sort things out. Lots of implausibility in the story, but heck, it's all in good fun.

If you haven't read Emily Barr I certainly do recommend her books.

I probably won't be around again until sometime next week . I have a visitor coming from Florida - good thing I caught him in time to tell him to unpack his shorts, and ask him if he owns any long sleve shirts. I broke down yesterday and turned on the heat. Is that a record?