Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Year That Follows

I was up until 1 am last night finishing The Year That Follows by Scott Lasser. Was it really that good to keep me up so late? No. We were out until midnight, so I was just doing my usual bedtime reading and wanted to finish it so that I could get to another book!

The book had an interesting premise: a woman trying to find her dead brother's baby.

Divorced, Cat Miller went to visit her 40 year old brother Kyle in New York and at dinner he told her that his ex-girlfriend had just had a baby and he thought that he was probably the father. The next morning, Kyle headed to a meeting in the World Trade Center. It was September 11, 2001. Cat looked/waited for Kyle briefly, then realized that she just wanted to head home to her young son, Connor. She finally was able to get a rental car and headed home to Detroit.

Over the next year, Cat searched for Kyle's ex-girlfriend, wanting to know if her brother had left a child. She searched the NY paper every day, and finally after a year, there it was....the girlfriend had also died on 9/11.

Meanwhile, Cat's father, Sam is living on the West Coast, 80 years old and not in good health. He has kept a secret from Cat all of her life and is feeling the need to tell her. He asks her to come out to CA to visit, not telling her that he is not well. Cat has not told Sam about Kyle's child.

I won't divulge the rest of the story, but I guess that the 2 secrets somehow play into each other. I never cared enough about the characters to really sit and analyze the story. Maybe I am not giving the book enough credit, but I just wasn't really taken with it. Not great writing. Not bad writing. I cared enough to finish the book to see how it ended, but didn't care enough to spend time thinking about it! Which, after having lost 2 brothers in the past 20 years, is rather sad that the book didn't touch something in me. And believe me, it isn't hard to reach that pain, so I think that tells something about the book.

I would give it a "pass over".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Book Challenge

I did it! I joined my very first book challenge! I joined the What's in a Name? 3 Challenge over at:

The challenge only involves 6 books (only, I say? check with me at the end of 2010), so surely I can manage that! It may be more of a challenge than I realize. The challenge is to read books that have the following in their names:
1) Food (rats, I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-so it won't count for 2010)

2) Body of Water

3) Title (ie. President, Queen, Mr. etc)

4) Plant

5) Place Name (city, country, etc)

6) Music Term (rats again, I just finished Song of Solomon)

Of course, right now I am blank on what to read, other than books that I have already read. But I am looking forward to the challenge of finding books for the categories.

BTW-I am open to suggestions!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

While in Mexico laying on the beach one afternoon over Thanksgiving, my daughter asked me if I had read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I had not. She had just read it for her book group and loved it. Upon my return to the States, I was checking out some of my favorite book blogs and found that Susan at You Can Never Have Too Many Books had written about the book at:

So I headed to the library and checked it out and just finished reading it this afternoon. Like Susan, I stayed up very late a couple of nights reading it, but last night fell asleep with only 3 pages to go!

I have to confess that at page 150, I wondered what all the fuss was about. The story was good and I found the whole occupation of the island of Guernsey fascinating, but I didn't get the huge fascination with the book. Then I came to page 151, and broke into tears! And then I got it!

The book is a series of letters between Juliet, who is an author in 1946 from London seeking a new topic for a book, and the chance acquaintance that occurred when Dawsey Adams, a resident of Guernsey, writes her a letter. It seems that he came upon an old book Juliet had owned and he is requesting more information about the author of the book. They begin corresponding with each other and Juliet slowly learns about Guernsey being occupied by the Nazis during the war. Some of the residents of Guernsey rather unknowingly formed a Literary Society and so then Juliet begins corresponding with some of the other members also.

Soon, Juliet decides to write about the Guernsey residents experiences and she goes to Guernsey to meet them all. Meanwhile, the entire book is letters between different people, including her best friend, and her publisher.

It is a very heart-warming and heart-breaking book, both at the same time. It is a quick read and I liked it very much. Thank you, Susan and Emily, for your wonderful recommendations!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bookstore gift card!

I turned 60 years old this week. Don't know how that happened, but it's true! I got a $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble for my birthday! What a great gift! Especially for a reader who has retired and is trying not to spend so much on books as in the past! I am so excited that I feel like I may hoard it, afraid to actually spend it. What if I spend it, and then there are more books that I want...??? Hmmmm....I will be very careful on what books get purchased with this great gift! Not just any book will do, especially if it is a book that I can read from the library...see my dilemma? What a great problem!

On another note, I have already researched and purchased a book for each of my 4 grandchildren for Christmas. The oldest 2 are becoming great readers, while the youngest 2 love being read to, so they show great promise at being readers also! Such fun. And now both of my daughters are also in book groups! And my son read the whole time in Mexico! I think that I did it...I raised readers!!! Hooray! Interestingly, all 3 of their spouses are also big readers. Now, if I could just get my husband to read a book....

Song of Solomon

Well, it seems like I have been away from here forever! We spent Thanksgiving weekend weekend in Mexico with our family (kids, spouses and grandkids) and I am still recovering (in terms of laundry, cleaning, etc.) on top of getting the house ready for Christmas!

While in Mexico, I read Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, written in 1977. At my book group last month we voted to read The Bluest Eye for January and I remarked on how much I loved Beloved. One of the group members asked if I had read Song of Solomon and thought that I would really like it. I did! He was right!

It is the story of Macon "Milkman" Dead searching for who his family was and, ultimately, who he is, struggling to understand his family history. It is a story about love, loss, family, grief, and history, especially slavery.

Ms. Morrison's characterization of the people in the book is fantastic. You get such a vivid portrait of each well-developed. Even their names are amazing....Pilate, Hagar, Guitar...great characters.

I do have to admit that the first half of the book was a bit slow-moving. Not enough to have lost me, but the second half of the book really begins to pull you in as Milkman begins to learn about his family's past.

I am anxious to read The Bluest Eye to see if it is as good as the others that I have read by Ms. Morrison.