Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Southern Reading Challenge

I decided since I live in the South and all, I really ought to join this reading challenge! Three books set in the South by Southern authors by August 15th--I can do this one!

Here are my choices:
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
  • The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
  • Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg
To join in the fun click here.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian : A Novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian : A Novel by Marina Lewycka

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the first 100 pages and the last 100 pages. Buuuut, the middle 100 pages notsomuch.

The novel is set in northern England and follows an 80-something naturalized Ukrainian widower who wants to marry a 30-something buxom Ukrainian in need of a visa. The story is narrated by the younger of the two daughters of the widower as she tries to uncover the secret past her family has never shared with her as they escaped the Russians during World War II while at the same time saving her father from this 30-something woman.

It was a fast-paced novel and I read it quickly. It was somewhat amusing, and having lived in England I loved the references to Oxfam and Tesco. I even enjoyed the tractor history and war history that was integrated into the story. However, I'm not very tolerant of verbal and physical abuse of anyone, let alone the elderly. Hence, my problem with the middle 100 pages.

They also reviewed it: Corinne and Bethany and Trixie

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Good Earth

The Good Earth (Enriched Classics) The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

rating: 5 of 5 stars

This modern classic was my book club's choice for June, and I have to say I am a huge fan. Granted, my expectations were a little tempered by the book's description, but I was hooked from the first page and enjoyed every word.

Seriously, even starting to describe the plot is probably guaranteed to turn you off, but just trust me on this one--it's really good. The Good Earth is the story of Wang Lung, a farmer in pre-revolutionary China, and his wife O-Lan. The book is the story of their lives, with the successes, sorrows, and challenges that accompany them. It's a great book for immersing yourself in a totally different time and culture and wondering if you were in that situation, what would you do, what would you think, and how would you fare.

A timeless tale. Highly recommended.

They also reviewed it: 5-Squared

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So Brave, Young, and Handsome

So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel by Leif Enger

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book. I just really didn't. It has nothing to do with Leif Enger as a writer. His elegant prose is just stunning. I just really didn't like the story.

The novel follows the travels of two men from Minnesota via Texas and then onto to California in the early 1900s. Monte is trying to escape his troubles since he has a wife and kid, and he's been lying to them for five years about writing a novel that isn't happening. Dobie is going to apologize for leaving his love since he had to run away from her because the fuzz found him and he used to be a train robber. Along the way, they run into a Javert-like character and pick up a nightmare kid.

Now which one of those characters are you going to root for?

Also, there is something about the way Enger has used women in Peace Like a River and this book that really bugs me. They are either MIA, act like men, are ugly, or act pathetic. (We must not also forget there has to be a good cinnamon roll baking woman in there too.) There is actually one female character in this book I liked. However, it took me 240 of the 272 pages to finally meet her.

I'm not sure why I kept at it. It helped that each chapter is only 4 pages long. Still, I wish Enger would write something more...well, different.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Did I Expect Angels?

This book was sent to me by the author, Kathryn Maughan, who is also a member of Book Blogs. Thank you Kathy!

I was so excited to read it, and I got it done in just over 24 hours. The story alternates between Jennifer and Henry. Jennifer, a 30-something mom, is at a crisis point in her life when Henry, a store greeter, steps in to help her. Henry has also been through tough times. An immigrant from Costa Rica, Henry has had to start his life from nothing.

I'm being intentionally vague about the plot, only because I love how the story unfolds between the two voices. It is an inspirational story because it reminds us that life is about valuing those we love. I love a book that makes me want to be a better person for having read it.

Did I Expect Angels? is a novel that will stick with me for awhile.

They also reviewed it: Booklogged and Trish and Trish and Bethany

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What Love Is

What Love Is What Love Is by Carol Lynn Pearson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Throughout the ages, songs have been sung and books and poetry have been written about what love is. What makes this book unique is the poignancy in the words of the fable and the gorgeous illustrations. Very short (32 pages) and inspirational. Pick it up if you have a chance.

Thank you, mother-in-law, for giving this to me!

Comfort Food

Comfort Food Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs

My review

rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Gus Simpson is turning 50, has two 20-something daughters, and her own cooking show which is experiencing a ratings slump. The story revolves around her need to heal from tragedy, develop better relationships with her children, and define who she is and what she wants out of the rest of her life....with a little romance thrown in the side.

One problem I had with The Friday Night Knitting Club is that there were too many darn characters in the book. It's even worse in this book because the book isn't as long. It just seemed like the characters didn't get developed as well as I would have liked. And the ending? Don't even get me started. I love a happy ending, but this one was so ridiculous it was like nails on a chalkboard.

I read this because I needed a little mind candy. And, it is good for that. I thought the premise was good (better than knitting, for me personally) and there were even a few moments where the author really explored some raw feelings. But, other times the story was just over the top and not very believable.