Showing posts from August, 2010

Review: Blood Harvest

Blood Harvest is not a book I should have read.  In fact, I should eschew all books described as "crime drama" and "thriller" for the reasons I will put forth in this review.  However, I was in a book funk and Nancy Pearl made it sound rather intriguing, so I gave it a shot. I am glad I did, but, also, I am sorry. The premise of Blood Harvest is simple: boys living near a cemetery are being haunted. They see fleeting images of a young girl and hear voices that sounded suspiciously like their own, or those of their family and friends. The church in town had been closed for a decade, after a  tragedy occurred on the flagstone of the nave.  Since then, tragedies befell the families of young girls of an age in this small, close-knit agrarian town steeped in tradition.  (The title of the book comes from one of those traditions, one not relished by a vegetarian.) In walk the Fletchers, with an English father and American mother, already outsiders.  On their heel

Review: The Help

Mississippi of the early 1960s is beautifully, carefully and exquisitely wrought in The Help , the debut novel by Kathryn Stockett .  The book examines both sides of the issues facing blacks and whites in the American South on the cusp of the civil rights era. The book is told in the voice of three different women: Skeeter, a twenty-something graduate of Ole Miss whose friends represent the Old South; Abileen, a maid in her 40s who raises the children of white women; and Minny, a spunky maid who is a fantastic cook, even if she doesn't know her "place." Through Skeeter, we see what happens when a person of conscience wakes up to the reality of life in Jackson, Miss. for people with both black skin and white.  She isn't married or engaged, and she had the misfortune to graduate, rather than leave school for marriage.  She wants to be a writer, but the only job she can find is as a housecleaning "expert" in her local newspaper.  She knows things aren't

The Reading Blahs

The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are supposed to be book-filled and hot — the perfect combination to get you to lounge and work on reducing that pile of books on the nightstand. I've had a combination of things come along and reduce the nightstand pile without a word being read: putting a house on the market and the reading blahs. The house on the market was my own fault: if one wants to sell a house, one must make it seem spacious and inviting — not insufficient for one's book collection.  With mere days to make a home a showpiece, my husband David and I grabbed belongings off shelves, counters and from inside closets, jammed them into boxes and put them in someone else's space. I was told to reduce my library by 50 percent. (Yes, I gasped, too.) I think I managed 35 percent before I had to surrender.  Actually, David did most of the "heavy lifting" of books, and they went into boxes with no rhyme or reason.  Poetry mixed with biography mixed with f

Mila is My Kind of Girl

Valerie has introduced me to a new, very adorable blog: Mila's Daydreams . In case you don't have an opportunity to go straight to the website, please allow me to show you here why you must frequent this site in the near future. 'Nuff said. That website again: Mila's Daydreams . And you're welcome.

Favorite First Lines

After reading Entertainment Weekly list of classic first lines of novels, I winced.  There were some old favorites, to be sure, and I was thrilled to see Neil Gaiman on the list.  Alas, there also were just as many tired titles crowding the shelf. It's like Rachel in the television series "Friends," who tells everyone her favorite movie is "The English Patient" but it's really "Weekend at Bernie's."  What if we all stood up and said, " Call me Ishmael is tired. Can we please retire it and replace it with another?" Okay, maybe not in the quiet of our local library.  But you get the picture. So, let me be the first to stand up and choose new first lines of novels to celebrate (and links to my reviews of those books). My father had a face that could stop a clock. — The Eyre Affair There once was a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always. — The Phantom Tollbooth The

Response: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I nearly pitched a book last night. There I was, finishing up the lovely story of  The Elegance of the Hedgehog .  I had invested my time and energy into a handful of fascinating people who, for nearly 300 pages, had captivated me.  Okay, it was slow going at first, but once I figured out the rhythm in this book, I liked it.  It was originally written in French, but as the characters are French and live in a swank apartment building in Paris, one would expect to feel translation — and a rich, enjoyable one.  Plus, knowing author  Muriel Barbery  is a French professor of philosophy who now lives in Japan helps to understand why and how the novel was written. Two narrators share the storytelling responsibility: RenĂ©e Michel, a 53-year-old concierge at a Paris apartment building filled with rich Parisians who see her as a fixture, and Paloma Josse, the 12-year-old girl who lives there and plans to commit suicide and burn down her parents' apartment when she turns 13 in a few months.