Sunday, December 20, 2009

13 1/2

Cloudy, here, this morning but, at least, we will not be getting the horrendous snowstorm that battered the East coast. I'm thinking this is going to be a good reading day.

This was a pretty good book. I like her tight writing and will probably pick up more of her novels.

Eleven-year-old Dylan butchered his parents and little sister but only injured his older brother, Rich. He's spent the next 7 years in juvie but at eighteen was released into the custody of his brother. They left Minnesota and relocated in New Orleans.

Polly grew up under the worst conditions. Her mother was a drug addict and was unable and unwilling to help Polly avoid the advances of the various men who drifted in and out of her life. Finally, Polly escaped and made her way to New Orleans.

And, of course, they all meet in the present. What happens next makes for an interesting story. There is even a twist at the end that is very satisfying.

Happy reading everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I'm sitting here watching the fog lift, hoping for a beautiful sunrise. It's 10 degrees on our back porch and we have about a foot of snow.

I'm never going to homeschool. I've got one more year of teaching high school after this year before I retire. So, why, then, am I so fascinated with homeschooling that I'd read a whole book about it?

I picked this up at the library figuring I'd just skim through it but ended up enjoying it so much that I read every single page.

When the Millman's oldest daughter was in second grade at a Catholic school, her teacher marked an answer wrong that was really right. When her parents questioned the principal about it, he agreed that it was right, but she got it wrong because it was a fourth-grade answer and it wouldn't be fair to the other kids whose parents didn't spend time helping them learn. It was then that they decided to begin homeschooling their children.

They didn't know anyone else who homeschooled so just went into it blind and learned as they went along. They ended up homeschooling all six of their children. The oldest three are now in excellent colleges and the 3 youngest are still at home.

They took a kind of middle-of-the road approach to homeschooling. They weren't extreme. Sometimes they used TV but not to excess. Sometimes they used textbooks and worksheets but not too religiously. Sometimes they had a schedule but, more often than not, they just let the day unfold and produced lessons from that. Every trip was a learning experience.

In other words, it was a wonderfully well-rounded education.

There are times when I wish I could rewind the clock and go back to when my kids were young and do it all over again. I know, I'd seriously consider homeschooling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Friends Forever and this world we live in

Woke up to a couple inches of snow all over everything. Pretty!

I spent the week reading this book. It was pretty good. I like Jennifer Weiner's writing. She's funny and doesn't take herself too seriously. But the underlying message is clear and easy to swallow.

Addie and Val were friends most of the way through school until an unfortunate incident in senior year tore them apart. Flash forward fifteen years. Val is now a successful weather person on TV and Addie stays at home designing greeting cards. Suddenly, Val needs Addie's help and how they rekindle their friendship while avoiding the law makes for a fun read.

I finished Best Friends Forever on Friday and was thrilled to see the ARC for this world we live in in my mailbox on Saturday. Thank you
Susan for sending me one! And I finished it last night before going to bed. I had to. It was stuck to my hands. I couldn't get it off. Even my husband trying to make conversation with me couldn't penetrate.

This is the third "Moon" book by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I read the first two and just couldn't wait for this one and it didn't disappoint.

The moon is still closer to the earth causing widespread weather malfunctions and natural disasters. Miranda and her family survived the winter and are shocked when older brother Matt marries the first girl he runs into but also pleased when Dad, his new wife Lisa, and their newborn, Gabriel, arrive with three strangers, Charlie, a friend who helped them and two teenagers, Alex and Julie Morales from the dead and the gone.

How they survive and develop new relationships in such dire conditions is a testament to our human natures.

And the ending? WOW! is all I'll say. This one's going to stick with me for a long time.

But, now, I'm sad. I wish I hadn't gulped the book. I wish it was 700 pages long. I wish Susan Beth Pfeffer would get to work on a fourth one!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Run for Your Life

Finally, some blue sky after several days of clouds, fog, rain, and snow. In spite of the weather, Thanksgiving was so much fun with both my kids and their families home. It's taken me a couple days to recover, though. I hate getting old!

I finished this book earlier in the week. It was another page-turner by James Patterson. I was lucky enough to win this from Dar and now, I'll put it in my classroom library for my students since they love his books with their large font and short chapters.

This one features detective Mike Bennett, a widower with ten kids, and a serial killer on the loose. It's a typical Patterson plotline but the addition of all those kids and Mike's personality make it enjoyable.

I started Best Friends Forever and so far, so good.

Have a good reading week!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Malice and Olive Kitteridge

The sun just peeked over the mountain and I'm sitting here in my navy blue pajamas with stars and moons on them. Every window is bright with sunshine.

I just couldn't get into this book. It's not that it was bad; I guess I wasn't in the mood for this type of novel. This guy, who is a cop but is on disability leave, keeps seeing his ex-wife who died twelve years ago. So he starts investigating. And that's as far as I got.

Instead, I started this book and was mesmerized by Olive.

Basically, it's a series of 13 stories that revolve around Olive Kitteridge. Some of the stories involve her directly while others just touch on her peripherally. In fact, in one of the stories, she's only mentioned once.

These tales take place in Crosby, Maine, where Olive is a junior high math teacher, is married to Henry, the local pharmacist, and is the mother to Christopher.

She's brash, and insulting, and caring, and so human! I loved her and hated her and in the end, wished she was my friend.

Thanks to
Dar I won a copy of Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Micahel Ledwidge and started it last night. Looks like this is one I'm going to enjoy.

Happy reading, everyone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Against Medical Advice

Here it is another Sunday. It's amazing how quickly they come around. I didn't do an awful lot of reading this week. For some reason, nothing looked good.

I finished this at the beginning of the week. It was pretty good. It's about a young boy with Tourette's syndrome and it's told through his eyes so we get an in-depth look at what was happening to his brain and body. It's the true story of Hal Friedman's son Cory.

That's it! I've started Malice by Lisa Jackson and am about 60 pages into it. So far it's okay but a bit formulaic. I guess I'm just sick of the same old, same old. My friend loaned me Olive Kitteridge so I think I'm going to try that one, instead.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Living Dead in Dallas and Push

Good Morning. It's in the mid 20s and mostly cloudy but the weatherman said it's supposed to get up to almost 60 today. Balmy!

I sped through this book. It's the second in the Sookie Stackhouse series and Sookie and her vampire beau, Bill, are in Dallas to help the vampires solve a mystery. There are other things going on, too, with an interesting revelation at the end. This is a good inbetween book: light and silly but with moments of seriousness.

I had to go to Walmart on Thursday for groceries and crafting stuff and kept telling myself not to go to the book section. But, did I listen to myself? No. I only bought one book, though, since I'd just gone to the library the day before and gotten 5 books from there.

The new movie, Precious, is based on this novel Push by Sapphire. Oh. My. God. I could not stop reading it. Precious is a sixteen-year old overwieght black girl who is pregnant for the second time with her father's child. It's the mid 80s and she gets expelled from school for being pregnant. She begins attending an alternative school and her teacher helps her to change her life.

Of course there is so much more to this book including a mother who should be shot!

It's gritty, raw, painful, brutal, and hopful all at the same time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Handle With Care and The Road

Happy Sunday morning! I love this long weekend when we get an extra hour. I know it's not much but it feels like more. When I woke up I looked at my clock and it said 6:48. Then I realized that it was 5:48 and I was well rested, ready to get up and start my day.

I pretty much gulped this book. I love Jodi Picoult's writing and this one is beautiful and interesting all the way through. Sometimes it's hard for a writer to do both but she blanaced them with finesse.

Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe's second daughter is born with osteogenesis imperfecta or OI which means that she lacks collagen and her bones are very brittle and break easily. When her ultrasound showed this, poor little Willow already had 7 broken bones and she hadn't even been born yet. How they and their older daughter cope with this disease and what they are willing to do for Willow makes this a book where the pages practically turn themselves.

The second book I finished this week is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I had heard good things about it so when a friend at school loaned it to me, I got right into it and could barely stop reading. It's about a post-apocalyptic America where there is no sun and everything is colorless with ash. Nothing grows, nothing lives except for a few stragglers, some good and some bad. Two of the good ones are a man and his son. How they survive in this bleak world and how they remain human and caring is the glue that holds this novel together.

It's cloudy here in NH so I think it's going to be a good reading day. I've got laundry to do and bread to bake and an extra hour to use any way I want!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Relentless and The Penny Pinchers Club

It's Saturday afternoon. I just kneaded bread for 10 minutes and, now, am hoping it rises!

It's been pouring all day and is in the 30s. All the foliage is gone. The world is dull again. Good reading day, though! I finished a book and will start a new one later.

I finished this book earlier in the week. It took me a few days to get into it but then I couldn't put it down. I had a preconceived notion of what it was going to be about and, for the first eighth of the book, I was right and, honestly, was disappointed in it.

Then, it changed and went in a totally different direction than I was thinking and I loved it. Koontz has such a gift for creating lovable characters and he does it again here

Cubby is a writer. His wife, Penny, is a children's book author, and their son, Milo, is a genius. The nation's leading book critic writes a scathing review of Cubby's latest book and Cubby has the audacity to try to get a look at him when he is dining. Wrong move! What follows is a nightmare. But, Cubby's humor and his wife and son's support make this a truly entertaining book.

The second book I read this week was The Penny Pincher's Club. This is a light-hearted book about a woman, Kat, who has never saved a penny in her life and all of a sudden realizes how stupid she's been with money. She joins the Penny Pinchers Club and tries to change her life.

I like a quick read like this once in a while. It was refreshing and humorous.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Last Child

Good morning. It's cloudy and 20 degrees here in northern NH. I'm thinking it's going to be a perfect day for reading!

I LOVED this book! It is so well written with believable characters. Thirteen-year-old Johnny Merrimon's twin sister disappeared a year ago. Overcome with guilt because he hadn't picked her up at school like he was supposed to, their father abandons them. That leaves Johnny and his mom who is a wreck.

Johnny believes his sister is still alive so, with the help of his only friend, Jack, they embark on a mission to find her.

The Last Child is mysterious, and mystical, and human, and wonderful! I'll be looking for John Hart's other books, for sure.

Wishing you all reading weather!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shanghai Girls

This is our last weekend at camp. We'll be closing up tomorrow and I won't see the ocean again until May. Sad, sad, sad.

Shanghai Grils is a very interesting book. I had no idea what immigrants went through when they entered our country. This book tells the story of two sisters, Pearl and May, and how they escaped China at the beginning of WWII.

The characters are well drawn and the writing is excellent, like I've come to expect from Lisa See. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt but, other than that, this is a great book.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Rainy Sunday

My husband has gone fishing and I'm being nice and lazy. I do have to drive 2 1/2 hours to get home from camp but, other than that and some laundry and blogging, I plan on reading.

Shangai Girls
is turning out to be an excellent book. I wasn't sure after the first chapter but, then, it got really good.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients

This isn't a novel; it's a poem! It's that beautiful!

Lillian owns a restaurant and on Monday nights, when the restaurant is closed, she teaches a cooking class. This book tells the story of the members of the class and the teacher.

That sounds pretty simplistic but what makes this book so mesmerizing is the writing. It's sumptuous! Every page contains so many delicious metaphors and similes that you just want to eat them.

If you're looking for a book to get lost in for an evening, pick this one up and you won't stop reading until it's done...and then you'll want to start cooking!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Angel's Game

Good rainy morning. Yesterday was gorgeous with not a cloud in the sky...and then we woke up this morning all wet.

I did manage to sit in the sun yesterday reading for about an hour. Felt wonderful!

I'm glad I'm done with this book. I'm still not sure if I liked it. I'd be all set to give up on it when a really interesting scene would take place so I'd continue on.

It was mysterious, and ghostly, and very well written. The writing is what really sucked me in because the premise just didn't appeal to me.

David Martin is commissioned to write a book unlike any other ever written. But, who is the person who commissions him? Is he real or an angel or the devil? It all comes together at the end and makes sense but it was a long route to that point.

I started The School of Essential Ingredients yesterday and am over halfway through already. I'm loving it!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sworn to Silence

Kate was brough up Amish but an incident in her childhood disillusions her and she leaves her parents' farm as soon as she can and becomes a policewoman. Now she's the chief of police in the town where she grew up and some horrific murders have been happening.

This was another unputdownable novel. Yes, the plotline is a bit predictable but the characters are well drawn and unique enough to give it depth.

I took this with me to the beach yesterday and read and read.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dead Until Dark

One of my fellow English teachers gave me this book and said it was something to read when I just wanted to escape and have fun. And she was right!

Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress who can read minds--that is, everyone's except the handsome vampire, Bill's mind. She ends up using her "disability," as she calls it, to help solve a series of murders in her town.

I love the way the author makes the existence of vampires so natural. This was so much more fun than that other popular vampire series where the main characters are boooooriiiiing! Sookie will steal your heart!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Help

This was an awesome book! Awesome! When I got home from school yesterday, I was only half way through it and finished it before I went to bed.

It's the early 60s and 3 women form an unusual alliance. There is Skeeter Phelan, a white woman who has just finished college and has returned home to try to find a job. She wants to be a writer but there aren't many opportunities for her in Mississippi.

Then there is Aibilene, Skeeter's friend's black maid. She is dignified, loving and intelligent but is stifled by the limitations placed on blacks.

The third member of this group is Minny, also a black housemaid. She's a great cook but her smart mouth keeps getting her fired.

For various reasons they unite to tell the story of what being the "colored help" is really like.

Don't finish this wonderfully written book right before going to bed. You'll be up all night thinking about these courageous characters.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen

I know it's Monday but it feels like Sunday because of the long Labor Day weekend. I'm enjoying it with my granddaughter and some friends who drove up from Massachusetts to visit. Not much reading is getting done, though!

What can I say about this series that hasn't already been said? As with her others, this is a quick read but it holds plenty of entertainment. It was the perfect antidote for my first week at school. I laughed out loud quite a few times.

I'm sneaking a few minutes of peace and quiet before the rest of the crew wake up and we start cooking breakfast outside for everyone. Maybe tonight I'll have a chance to sit and read for awhile.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Long Lost

I think I devoured this book in two big gulps! Harlan Coben really knows how to tell a good story.

This novel features Myron Bolitar and it was so nice to visit with him again. This time he rushes to Paris to help his friend, Terese, locate her ex-husband and the daughter she thought had died ten years earlier.

Their investigation lands them in all kinds of tough situations and keeps the story moving at breakneck speed.

This one is definitely a winner!

School started today with two days of teacher workshops and preparation. The kids begin on Wednesday. I'm already pooped!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dark of the Moon

This was a pretty good book. I liked the crisp and tight writing. It stars Virgil Flowers in his own book. Fans of Lucas Davenport and the Prey series by John Sandford will recognize him. In this novel he's on his own trying to figure out who killed several people in a small town. There are quite a few suspects and Virgil uses his unique style to solve the mystery.

One thing bothered me though. On page 111 Roman Schmidt hears someone at the door in the middle of the night. He figures it can't be good news and as he's on his way to the door, he hopes it doesn't involve his son or daughters. On page 117, after he's been killed, Virgil asks about family and the sheriff answers that Schmidt had no family. And that was it. There was no mention of Schmidt's family after that. I thought there would be a deep, dark secret revealed later but...nothing!

And that bothered me the whole way though kind of spoiling it for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Weight of Silence

This should say, "Tuesday Salon"! I can't believe how late I am this week. Our son and his girlfriend visited over the weekend so we were busy. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

I did manage to finish this book quite quickly and liked it. Two little seven-year-old girls disappear from their bedrooms early one summer morning. One girl, Calli, is mute and Petra, her friend, speaks for her.

The novel is told through several voices including Calli's.

Really, I couldn't put it down! It was that good.

Mom update: Her doctor injected silicone in her back. It will take a couple weeks to alleviate her pain. In the mean time she's been moved to a rehab facility to help her get back on her feet. Wish I lived closer!

This is my last week of vacation so I'm determined to bike to the beach each day to read for a couple hours. So, I'm outa here!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind...and a Tuna!

It's going to be 90 degrees and humid here in Maine today. After a horrible July, August is turning out quite summery, finally!

My mom fell Friday morning and ended up in the hospital. The procedure for her back has been rescheduled for Monday.

This is a long book at almost 5oo pages so it took me awhile to finish it. It was worth it, though. Mystery, intrigue, love, humor, death. This novel has it all.

The foreign setting of Barcelona is fresh and I loved all the Spanish names. They add so much flavor.

I see that Carlos Ruiz Zafon has a new book out. I saw it at Border's and it looks like a winner, too, so I will have to pick it up sometime.

In other news, my husband caught a tuna on Thursday. It weighed in at over 600 lbs. and was 100 inches long. He fought it for almost 8 hours! This is the largest one he's ever brought in. The six-hundred pounders are usually in their prime and this one was fiesty and refused to give up. It pulled the boat backwards in circles for hours. My husband was soaked. Luckily he had a buddy with him to help. You can see more pictures here.

So, lots of excitement here. Just two more weeks of vacation before school resumes. I really need a little boredom so I'll be happy to go back to work. Hopefully, this week will be a beach and reading one!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Just an Update

I'm back in Maine from Florida. My mom is still in agony from her four compression fractures. She'll find out tomorrow if she is a candidate for a precedure where they inject cement into her spine. If so, it will happen on Friday. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this will occur.

I'm still working on The Shadow of the Wind. It takes place in Barcelona so that makes it interesting. I don't think I've ever read a book set there.

Daniel Sempere finds a book written by Julian Carax and it leads him on a quest to find out more about the author. The novel is full of quirky characters and mysteries.

I'm enjoying it but haven't had much time to read since getting back because my granddaughter, Kylie, is visiting for the weekend. We went to the library yesterday and she picked out three books that we are going to read today.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Two Books in One Week

I'm in Florida this Sunday caring for my ailing mom. She has a compression fracture and is in a great deal of pain.

I finished this book before leaving Maine. I had read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and loved it so thought I'd try this one of hers. It is well written but just doesn't have as interesting a story as her other one.

Peony is almost 16 and falls in love with with a guy she meets at her parents' showing of a play called The Peony Pavillion. Peony really identifies with the main character. No one realizes that she slips away and meets the love of her life...and death. Unfortunately, Peony is betrothed to another and will be marrying him once she turns 16. To avoid that she starves herself to death. The majority of the book tells of Peony's struggles to get into the afterworld.

The rites of the dead are very interesting but it was just so hard to care about a dead character!

This is the book I took with me to Florida and I gulped it! Usually, when I'm on a plane, I doze off but, not this time. I just kept turning the pages.

There are two main characters. Sarah lives in 1942 France during the round-up of thousands of Jewish children by the French under orders by the Germans. They ended up being gassed in a concentration camp. This is a part of French history they would rather forget. When the police come knocking on her door in the middle of the night, 10-year old Sarah doesn't realize that she'll never return. She locks her little brother in a secret hiding place and takes the key with her.

Fast-forward sixty years to 2002 France. Julia Jarmond is an American married to an arrogant, philandering jerk. They have an eleven-year-old daughter. Julia works for an American magazine and her boss gives her the assignment to write about the 60th anniversary of the round-up. Her investigation leads her to the realization that her husband's family's home had originally housed a Jewish family.

The more Julia learns about Sarah, the more she learns about herself. Their two stories alternate in short chapters that I just couldn't stop reading!

We have a retirement home in Florida so I'm staying there overnight but visiting with my mom during the day. So, it's time to get on the road.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Songs of the Humpback Whale

Very foggy here in Maine this morning. My husband has gone fishing so it's a good day to curl up with a good book.

This is the last Jodi Picoult novel I had left to read except for her latest. This is also her first one, I believe. I started it about a year and a half ago but just couldn't seem to get interested in it. So, I thought I'd try it again. This time I was ready and enjoyed it.

The novel is told in 5 different voices. The main character is Jane Jones. She's a speech therapist, married to Oliver Jones who is a research scientist and an expert in the songs of humpback whales. After a fight, she leaves him with her teenage daughter and heads across the country to visit her brother in Massachusetts. He works at an apple orchard for a man named Sam.

Jane, Oliver, and Sam tell their stories in a straightforward manner but Rebecca, the teenager, tells her story backwards, which takes a little getting used to, and Jane's brother, Joley, tells his story in letter form. I'm glad I stuck with it, though!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's Sunday, Again

I'm sitting on the couch this Sunday morning watching the oak and pine trees flutter in the sunny breeze.

It's been a busy week taking care of upgrades around our campsite so I haven't read as much as I'd like. Usually, I get through quite a few pages when I get in bed at night but this week, I've been falling asleep almost right away.

So, I'm still working on and enjoying Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult. I've got less than 100 pags left so should finish up soon.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone, and I hope you find time for some reading!