Friday, July 20, 2012

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I loved this book!  Danner and I read it together, and I really enjoyed the narrative and few little plot twists that happen.  I am surprised this is marketed to younger audience, as I found the premise quite disturbing.  I am glad I read it with Danner because we were able to discuss the moral implications, etc...of a game where people basically execute one another.  It was interesting to discuss those "grey" areas with a pre-teen.

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

Set in turn of the century Russia, this piece of historical fiction is written through the eyes of Rasputin's daughter Matryona (Maria).  The novel chronicles the last days of Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra as well as the relationships of the family members with Rasputin and his daughter.  Very well written with great character development, this book captures the essence of why I love historical fiction so much--Harrison did a wonderful job of telling the story of the Romanovs--so much so that I plan to put some non-fiction about the tsar and tsarina on my reading to do list!  My only complaints are that she did not put the story into the political context I wish she would have, and she included so many flashbacks that sometimes it was difficult to understand the plot without rereading a bit.  Otherwise, a good solid read.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

How we acquire, keep, and lose our habits is the focus of this book. Especially interesting was the author's focus on "Keystone habits", those small things that we do each day that can help us turn the corner on fighting habits that we are trying to get rid of. Fun read!

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

The Brazilian wild comes to life in this well told story about a scientist who travels to South America to uncover the reality behind the death of her co-worker. Funded by a pharmaceutical company, the protagonist's trip turns into a life changing experience full of very vivid experiences with snakes, overly handsy natives, and a fair share of quirky characters. This was an interesting read for sure.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Set in Alaska in the 1920's, The Snow Child chronicles the journey of a couple who is trying to escape their past. Hoping to start a new life in the north, they meet a small child who steals their heart and makes them question reality and the true meaning of love and letting go. Taken after the Russian folktale of the snow child, this book is so candidly and starkly written, but beautifully composed as well. Mystery surrounds the snow child's origins and her future, and in the end, the reader is still left with a sense of intrigue and doubt. I love novels that play slightly with reality, and this is definitely one of those. Please read this book!

Visit the author's site at

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I have already recommended this book to many of my friends. I rarely run across a book this thought provoking. It challenged my ideas about stereotypes of introverts and extroverts and helped me realize so much more about myself. Even though I am outgoing, I am in my heart an introvert. Another "ah-ha" moment for me when reading this book is how we as a culture, especially in schools and the workplace, place such a high value on extroversion, when in fact introverts have so much to offer. It made me think twice about emphasizing group work, as often we do our best, most cocentrated work alone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Reviews that I read about this book called the ending intriguing and confusing, so I thought it might be interesting to check it out. Set in England, this book chronicles the young life and mid life of Tony and his complicated relationship with his friend, Adrian and former girlfriend, Veronica. I enjoyed the book just fine and especially appreciated how it highlights how complicated some relationships can be in life. A little bit of a mystery lies at the end, and has a simple, yet surprising answer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden

I heard an interview with McFadden on NPR and thought this book would be worth reading. Set in a time span of almost a century, Gathering of Waters has a unique perspective--it is first person in the perspective of the town of Money, Mississippi. The "town" chronicles the struggles of African Americans and the many complicated relationships they have with their white neighbors. The plot centers around a charismatic young man named Emmett Till who is brutally murdered by two men. A spirit named Esther inhabits several of the characters and ties their lives together by acts of violence and promiscuity. Esther really is a bad seed, and spoils all that she touches. McFadden is a talented writer whose words are rich and well chosen. This is a fast, good read.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

I was initially drawn to this book because I love the idea of apocalyptic satire, and I sensed that this book would take me there. It did. The idea is that "some" people were taken, disappeared with no rhyme nor reason, and the loved ones who were left over were expected to carry on and live their lives as normal. The characters in The Leftovers were well layered and not always predictable. I especially enjoyed following the intentions of a cult group called the Guilty Remnant, who were forced to watch people, wear white, and smoke. Many archetypal personalities are represented in this book. My favorite part was the last page--a one sentence surprise ending that was so sweet and pure, it pretty much sealed the deal for me.