Saturday, January 01, 2011

What I Read :: Part 3

The conclusion of my list. . .yes, I'm a nerd. . .but it's all good!

The Five Love Languages - by Gary Chapman
4 Stars
Ideas for connecting with the person you love - in the ways that are meaningful to them – not to you.

The Invisible Bridge - by Julie Orringer
5 Stars
Set in 1930s Budapest just as a young Hungarian Jew, Andras Lévi, departs for the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris. He hones his talent for design, works backstage in a theater, and allies with other Jewish students in defiance of rising Nazi influence. And then he meets Klara, a captivating Hungarian ballet instructor nine years his senior with a painful past and a willful teenage daughter. Against Klara's better judgment, love engulfs them, drowning out the rumblings of war for a time. But inevitably, Nazi aggression drives them back to Hungary, where life for the Jews goes from hardship to horror.

Lonely Polygamist - by Brady Udall
5 Stars
When times get tense--and they often do--for Golden Richards, the title patriarch of Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist, he turns to a soothing chant of the names, in order, of his 28 children. (It's also practical, when he needs to sort out just which toddler is showing him a scab, and which teen is asking if he can come to her 4-H demo.) While Big Love seeks the inherent soap opera in a man with many wives, Udall finds the slapstick: Golden's houses are the sort of places where the dog is often wearing underwear and a child or two likely isn't. But Udall doesn't settle just for jokes (though the jokes are excellent). Golden may be hapless, distracted, and deceitful, but he is large-hearted and so is his story. There's menace and more than a full share of tragedy there, as well as unabashed redemption and a particular sympathy for the loneliest members of this crowded family. LOVED this book and can't wait for Udall to write another one!

Ratio - by Michael Rulhman
4.5 Stars
The magic numbers you need to cook with your imagination - not with a recipe. Intriguing!

American Subversive - by David Goodwillie
5 Stars
Already wrote about this one. Go read it. Now.

The Heretic's Daughter - by Kathleen Kent
3 Stars
Salem witch trials encounters. Interesting but kind of dry.

Skippy Dies - by Paul Murray
5 Stars
eabrook College is an all-boys Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, where the founding Fathers flounder under a new administration obsessed with the school's "brand" and teachers vacillate between fear and apathy when faced with rooms full of texting, hyper-tense, hormone-fueled boys. It's the boys--and one boy in particular--that give this raucous, tender novel its emotional kick. Daniel "Skippy" Juster is a breed apart from his friends, more sensitive than any of them, but never visibly reactive to the pressures that weigh heavily on him. The events that lead to his untimely (though tragicomic) death unfold scene by scene, in a chorus of perfectly executed moments that are powerful enough to make you laugh and weep at once.

A Good and Happy Child - by Justin Evans
4 Stars
Evans' first novel explores the notions of demons--how real they are and how real we are able to make them.

Mesopotamia - by Arthyr Nersesian
3 Stars
his satire of our media-crazed culture unfolds a story of Korean born Sandy Bloomgarten, reporter extraordinaire, who is given an assignment by her tabloid employer to run down to TN and investigate the kidnapping of a young girl. What unfolds is a whirlwind of Elvis impersonators, trailer park woes, shotgun murders and alcoholic misery. A bit too hard-boiled for my taste.

Freedom - by Jonathan Franzen
3.5 Stars
I love The Corrections. This one was a bit harder to piece together for me.

Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Inner Poet - by Susan Woolrich
5 Stars
Poemcrazy is a perfect guide for everyone who ever wanted to write a poem but was afraid to try. Writing workshop leader Susan Wooldridge shows how to think, use one's senses, and practice exercises that will make poems more likely to happen.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - by Helen Simonson
5 Stars
The Major epitomizes the Englishman with the "stiff upper lip," who clings to traditional values and has tried (in vain) to pass these along to his yuppie son, Roger. The story centers around Pettigrew's fight to keep his greedy relatives (including his son) from selling a valuable family heirloom--a pair of hunting rifles that symbolizes much of what he stands for, or at least what he thinks he does. The embattled hero discovers an unexpected ally and source of consolation in his neighbor, the Pakistani shopkeeper Jasmina Ali. On the surface, Pettigrew and Ali's backgrounds and life experiences couldn't be more different, but they discover that they have the most important things in common. This wry, yet optimistic comedy of manners with a romantic twist will appeal to grown-up readers of both sexes.

Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community
5 Stars
This book may likely become the only daily devotional I will ever use. For the rest of my life. Highly recommended.

Questions God Asks Us - by Trevor Hudson
2 Stars
Too simplistic for my taste. Read it for a study at church.

Soul Pancake: Chewing On Life's Big Questions - by Rainn Wilson
4 Stars
This book urges you to explore philosophy, creativity, spirituality, love, truth, science, and so much more. With bold questions, intriguing challenges, and mind-bending art, Soul Pancake creates a space for you to stimulate your brain stem, spark your soul, and figure out what it means to be human.

Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings - by Kelly Rae Roberts
4 Stars
Mixed media and prompts to encourage creativity and art journaling.

Photo Idea Index - by Jim Krause
5 Stars
Eye candy at it's finest!

Inner Excavation: Explore Yourself Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media - by Liz Lamoreaux
4.5 Stars
This book will guide you through the expressions of photography, poetry/journaling and mixed-media as they pertain to exploring how we not only currently see ourselves, but how we can learn to see new things hiding below the surface. Each of these sub-topics features a different contributing artist (or the author) and includes tips, prompts, meditations and other exercises, along with plenty of full color inspiration.

Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters Guide To Shooting From the Heart - by Tracy Clark
4 Stars
When a photograph captivates you and stirs your soul, you know it instinctively. You not only see the image, you feel it. But how do you capture shots like that with your own camera? How do you make your photographs worth the proverbial thousand words? From portraits to landscapes, still-lifes to documentary shots, Expressive Photography will not only show you why certain images sing, but will also teach you how to create your own compelling photographic images-one click at a time.

Journal Spilling: Mixed Media Techniques for Free Expression - by Diana Trout
3.5 Stars
At its core, Journal Spilling is about incorporating journaling and art making into daily life, all the while encouraging a carefree, non-judgmental approach. In addition to step-by-step instruction for getting started in 25 media techniques (watercolor, resist, ink, transfers and more!), you will be guided through exercises to help with writing.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - by Tom Franklin
5 Stars
Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town. More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.

1 comment:

The Afflicted Girls said...

Hi Tanya,
A Google alert brought me to your blog. I see that you read, but didn't enjoy ("found it dry") "The Heretic's Daughter." If you are interested in this subject of the Salem Witch Hunt, you might enjoy my novel, which paints a different kind of picture, and also won the 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by Suzy Witten (ISBN: 978-0-615-32313-8). This is adult fiction for ages 17 and older. "Something terrible happened in Salem Village in 1692 ... but it isn't what you think!"
I hope you'll consider reading/reviewing my book.
Thanks, and Happy New Year!
Suzy Witten, Author