Thursday, September 22, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go to SleepBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

On the library stacks: Adult Fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christine Lucas is a 47-year old woman who wakes up every day not knowing where she is, who she is with, or why her body has aged. Her husband tells her that when she was 29 years old, she was out walking when a car hit her. Her memory never came back whole and she only remembers snatches of her life into her twenties. She is able to remember what she learns about herself throughout the day, but once she falls asleep, each day starts the same and she must relearn everything again the next day.

Christine has a doctor who calls her each day. He gives her a journal and tells her to write things that she remembers, hopeful that her brain will start to make connections. Over a period of weeks, things start coming back to Christine as she writes and reads her old entries. What she learns seems at odds with the things her husband tells her each morning, and she begins to mistrust everything he tells her.

This book is an unputdownable psychological thriller. I read it in just over 12 hours and I dreamt about it last night. It's like a creepy and intense version of 50 First Dates and the premise is a hook from the very first page. As a warning and disclaimer, there is a fair bit of profanity. But this is a great book to curl up with on a misty fall day. Just be prepared to ignore just about everything else going on around you until it's finished!

Also reviewed by: Lesley's Book Nook ~ Reviews by Lola ~ Linus's Blanket ~ A Work in Progress ~ Lesa's Book Critiques ~ Booking Mama ~ A Bookworm's World ~ Thoughts of Joy... ~ Your link here?
Source: Library

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank ; Play and Related ReadingsThe Diary of Anne Frank ; Play and Related Readings by Frances Goodrich

AR Reading Level: 3.1
On the library stacks: Adult Non-fiction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I asked Coco's 6th grade literature teacher which books they would be reading this year, he said The Diary of Anne Frank. So I went straight over to my closing Borders and purchased a paperback copy for next to nothing. I was very pleased about it all until Coco came home and mentioned that The Diary of Anne Frank is actually a play. Sure enough, I had a look at what I bought...Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

Perhaps the literature teacher might have mentioned that he meant the play instead of the actual diary?! Surely I can't be the only person who might have made this mistake! Not to mention that finding this book is not that easy. I ended up with a used classroom copy.

Anyhow, this is a short play based on the diary, with related readings. The play itself was pretty good and easy to visualize how it would come off on the stage. The related readings included an excerpt from Anne Frank's diary, an account from a gypsy who survived the concentration camps, a story about the Japanese internment camps in the US, and a basic outline on how Oskar Schindler saved 1,200 Jews.

Part of me wishes I could hide these atrocities from my children forever, but I also feel that they need to be aware of such evil in our past and our present in a way that is age-appropriate. I will be having a chat with my daughter before she reads this, but I know she is ready.

Source: Purchased

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Grand Sophy

The Grand SophyThe Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

On the library stacks: Adult fiction
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sophy is a 20-year old girl who has had an eccentric upbringing, being raised by her father on the Continent. When he heads to Brazil for a few months, she is left in the care of her aunt in England, whom she barely knows. She immediately makes waves with her arrival, bringing a dog, a monkey and a parrot with her to entertain her many cousins.

Sophy realizes that the quiet household she has come to needs to be shaken up. Her cousin Cece is in love with a dreamy poet who is NOT the right man for her. She sees her serious cousin Charles headed into a loveless, but respectable and practical marriage. And she senses that Hubert is hiding something from everyone. Using a keen wit and charm, unforgettable Sophy uses her unorthodox methods to set it all to rights.

I would love to see what would happen if Sophy moved in with me! This book was hilarious and contains some of the funniest arguments I have ever read. This was a book I couldn't wait to get back to reading each time I had to put it down. My only complaint is that things ended a little too tidily for someone as unpredictable as Sophy. But I did think the ending would play out much better as a movie than it did in written form. I know I just said Venetia was my favorite, but this has quickly supplanted that one as my new favorite Heyer novel.

Also reviewed by: The Book Nest ~ One Literature Nut..
Source: Kindle Purchase

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Henrietta's War

Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 (Bloomsbury Group)Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 by Joyce Dennys

On the library stacks: Adult fiction
Series: Book 1 of 2

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was thinking about this book the other day and realized that I had somehow forgotten to post a review when I read it this summer! It's such a wonderful book and I realized I needed to rectify the situation immediately.

Joyce Dennys was a British artist who felt that women artists never got enough opportunities. During World War II, she wrote a series for Sketch magazine, including her wonderful drawings for each weekly installment. Decades later, she compiled her articles (and drawings) into two books, of which this is the first.

Henrietta is the wife of a doctor in a seaside village in Devon. She writes letters to her childhood friend named Robert, who is in France fighting the war. Each letter is a quirky look at life on the home front. Henrietta knows her worries are nothing compared to those who live in London or who are stationed abroad. But her letters portray another side to the war as she gives her reflections about the colorful characters in her town and the way each one deals with the stress of life--the patriotic organizations they join, the methods they use to black out their homes, and their worries about bombs on the beach.

The interrelationships between the characters is what really makes this short novel so humorous. I can't wait to read the second book to see their stories continued. I think I read this entire book with a smile on my face. Reminiscent of the wartime novels of D.E. Stevenson, this book is positively delightful.

Also reviewed by: things mean a lot ~ Your link here?
Source: Purchased

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


SocksSocks by Beverly Cleary

AR Reading Level: 5.2
On the library stacks: Children's fiction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mr. and Mrs. Bricker are a young couple who decide to adopt a cat from some kids in front of a grocery store one day. They christen him Socks and make him a member of the family. Socks is fat and spoiled and thinks life couldn't be better.

But that all changes when Mrs. Bricker's expanding tummy turns out to be a noisy red-faced baby named Charles William. Socks feels ignored, unloved, and is put on a diet. But eventually Charles William gets old enough to play with Socks, and the two become fast friends.

I've been reading this book with my 7-year old. I'm not an animal lover, but he is so I thought this would be a book he would like. This book has the odd distinction of having a high reading level but seems written for a much younger audience. So I would definitely recommend it for a read-aloud. It's a cute book, but definitely feels dated since it was written in 1973.

Source: Gift

Monday, September 5, 2011

Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons (Summer Reading Edition)Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

AR Reading Level: 4.9
On the library stacks: YA/Children's Fiction
Awards: Newbery Medal; State Award; Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature; BCCB Blue Ribbon Book
Recommended for: Grades 6+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the books my daughter Coco will study in 6th grade this year. (I was happy to see that The View From Saturday is also on the list.)

Salmanca Hiddle (Sal) is our delightful 13-year old narrator. She is driving across the country with her grandparents, retracing the route her mother took when she left Sal and her father on their farm in Kentucky. Sal hopes that her mother will come home with them at the end of their journey.

As they travel, Sal recounts the story of the last few months she has spent in Euclid, Ohio where she moved with her father after her mother left. Sal makes a friend named Phoebe who has a way of making everything out to be a way bigger deal than it really is. One day, Phoebe's respectable mother who has lived what she believes is a "tiny life" up and leaves the family, reminding Sal of her own experience. Phoebe is convinced that she has been kidnapped and murdered, but Sal is a good friend and helps Phoebe discover the truth.

This is a story that has many layers. I liked how Sal and Phoebe's stories overlapped and Sal was able to grow through her friendships. I also liked the central message of this book--that we should not judge others until we have "walked two moons in their moccasins".  Even though it is kind of a sad story at it's core, it was also funny and uplifting. It was a well-written book, full of heart, and I did shed a few tears at the end.

Things to know: There are a few minor swear words, and some references to sex and extra-marital affairs.

Also reviewed by: things mean a lot ~ Your link here?
Source: Goodreads Bookswap

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Am the Messenger

I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

AR Reading Level: 3.9
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Awards: Michael Printz Honor; ALA Best Book for Young Adults; BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ed Kennedy is useless. He's a 19-year old underage cab driver from Australia. He has a aged, smelly dog and he lives in a shack. He plays cards with his three friends named Ritchie, Marv, and the ever lovely (but so unattainable) Audrey. But things change when Ed is held up in a bank robbery and he inadvertently saves the day.

After the robber's trial, Ed begins receiving aces anonymously in the mail--first it's the ace of diamonds. He has instructions that he must do something at each of the three addresses listed on the card. Eventually Ed receives aces of all four suits, each with unique tasks to complete. Some tasks are hard and put his personal safety in jeopardy. Other tasks are pleasant and meaningful, like becoming friends with an old lady.Throughout the process, Ed realizes he is becoming a different, better person. But he is determined to figure out who is the messenger behind it all.

Once I got into the book, I was pretty blown away. The way Zusak can turn a phrase so packed full of emotion and depth actually brought me to tears. The writing was so beautiful and Ed's transformation was something lovely to witness.

However, I have two issues with this book. 1. The language is pretty rough, especially at the beginning, and can be crude at times. 2. I really hated the ending. It was just a disappointing let-down for me. I read this for my in-person book club, and we all enjoyed it. Some of us actually liked the ending, so maybe it's just me!

Also reviewed by: It's All About Books ~ Bart's Bookshelf ~ Capricious Reader ~ Your link here?
Source: Library