28 September, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading

This is how it works
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
  This weeks Teaser Tuesday comes from

 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
I'd love to know what your teaser is this week. Leave me a link!

27 September, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

What are you reading Monday  is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. Head over and check out what others are reading!

Once again it's been a few weeks since I have participated in this. The big news is that in this time I have celebrated a birthday and my beloved husband bought me a Kindle! With a red cover! I love my Kindle! And my husband! (not necessarily in that order!) So lets go on a quick catch up!

What I have finished recently! (Click on the links for my reviews)

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett I first heard about this over on Carol's Notebook. It came through the returns chute at work, I grabbed it!

Celebrity Detox by Rosie O'Donnell A library pick up.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver Finally managed to read it for Book Group. Had discussion yesterday, it was great. I found my reaction to this book a lot different from the first time I read it.

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs I love Kathy Reichs. I thought I had read them all until a client at work borrowed this. Then I realised I'm about 3 behind! Have some catching up to do!

The Tincture of Salt by Alicia Bennett A collection of poetry lent to me by a friend. I now want to read more poetry - but good, meaningful poetry like this!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares Another library pick up.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins First heard about this on Bippity Boppity Books. Looked it up at work, put my self on the reserve list and got it just before I went away for a week sans husband and kids. (what timing!) Put the second one, Catching Fire on reserve the moment I finished Hunger Games. Got it on Friday, hope to get to it soon.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith Another series I let get away from me and am now catching up on.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares A loaner from a friend. One of those if you liked Time Traveler's Wife you will like books. Not as good as Time Traveler's but not bad.

Of A Boy by Sonya Hartnett Yet another library pick up from a great Australian writer.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult Finished yesterday while sitting on my deck in the sun with a cup of tea. Does it get any better??

What I am reading now (are you still with me??)

The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith

From Goodreads:

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are called to a safari lodge in Botswana's Okavango Delta to carry out a delicate mission on behalf of a former guest.

The Okavango makes Precious appreciate once again the beauty of her homeland: it is a paradise of teeming wildlife, majestic grasslands and sparkling water.

However, it is also home to rival safari operators, fearsome crocodiles and disgruntled hippopotamuses. What's more, Mma Makutsi still does not have a date for her wedding to Phuti Radiphuti and is feeling rather tetchy herself.

But Precious knows that with a little patience, just as the wide river will gently make its way round any obstacle, so will everything work out for the best in the end . . .

So, what are you reading?? Leave me a comment and a link and I promise to visit!

26 September, 2010

House Rules

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

From Goodreads:

Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself to others, and like many children with Asperger's, Jacob has an obsessive focus on one subject - in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. Reluctance to make eye contact, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate gestures, all these can look a lot like guilt. Suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder.

House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, and at the extremes of love and loyalty a family must call upon to overcome impossible circumstances.

So here's the thing. I use to love Jodi Picoult. It started with The Pact, which I will admit at a second reading this year it wasn't as good as I remembered. I know I  enjoyed Keeping Faith and Songs of the Humpback Whale, both earlier Picoult books. I know Nineteen Minutes it had been coloured by the prior reading of the much grittier We Need to Talk About Kevin. So, taking all of this in to account, I approached House Rules hopefully, but with some doubts.

And once again, here is my problem with Picoult - I don't like her mother characters. In House Rules, the neglect of the lesser, more normal child was not as obvious. While Jacob's brother, Theo seems to have a better understanding and reason to be pushed aside at times for Jacob, I still feel the expectation put upon him by his mother, Emma is unreasonable. Then again, I have taught children who have siblings with a disability and to an extent, this is a given. As the teacher and parent of neurotypical children (a nice term for what is considered "normal"), I found it offensive that there did not seem to be one single adult in the whole book who was willing to find their child's or student's treatment of Jacob. As far as I could work out, no one had ever stepped in and dealt with a child who had called Jacob a retard or picked on him in any way. I know it's certainly something I would not tolerate in either my own kids or students. On top of that, in House Rules, Emma seems completely oblivious to how the legal system works and how it cannot be adjusted simply because Jacob is on the spectrum. Yes, allowances need to be made for his disorder, but it can't be a case of oh he has Asperger's off you go.

Which brings me to another point. I know Asperger's is a relative new diagnosis (it wasn't formally recognised as a separate syndrome until 1994), but, and maybe this is my issue, I would assume most people when they heard the term would register this person was different and may react differently to the general population. There seemed to be no attempt to understand or find out or listen to Emma about Jacob's issues.

My other issue is the social isolation Picoult seems to assume is the norm for families dealing with a child with Asperger's or Autism. Emma has no friends, either does Jacob or Theo. I have friends who have children with Asperger's and Autism Spectrum Disorder. They have friends. So do their kids. Picoult seems to assume that anyone else who is not dealing with these conditions on a daily basis is an uncaring, unsympathetic, judgmental asshole who makes no attempt to understand what their fellow mother/ parent is going through. Sure, I have thought "Thank god it's not me" and have felt guilty every time I have said it. Have I cut contact because their child refuses to make eye contact or has lashed out at my child? No. Then again, I have friends who accept their child's condition, but also work really hard at not using that as the excuse for their their child's behaviour. No eye contact acceptable, biting not!

So apart from these issues, the book was ok. I enjoyed it although I did pick the twist. (really, wasn't that hard) Is it worth reading? Yes, if you are a Picoult fan. I won't be recommending it to friends who have kids with any type of Autism Spectrum Disorder. If I got annoyed at what I think are the inaccuracies, I can only imagine how they would feel.

25 September, 2010

Of A Boy

Of A Boy by Sonya Hartnett

Another library pick up. Was reshelving and came across this. I love Sonya Hartnett's young adult stuff and was curious to try one of her adult books.

In 1977 Adrian is nine. He lives with his grandmother and his uncle and is scared of lots of things - like quick sand and spontaneous combustion. He doesn't really fit in and is not quite sure how to do so.

The disappearance of three children not far from where he lives worries him. Will he be next? And what about the three kids who have just moved in over the road? What's their story?

Of a Boy is the story of a young boy in suburban Australia in the 70's. It's the story of a boy being raised by a grandmother who has already done this once and is not sure she has the strength to do it again. It's the story of a boy struggling to fit in and the consequences of that struggle.

It's hard to describe this book. It's one of those ones you quite enjoy but when someone asks you what it's about, it's hard to put into words. Not one of my favourite Hartnett's, but still worth the read.

My Name is Memory

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

I found this while browsing a friends book shelf. To me it came across as a if you like The Time Traveler's Wife, you'll like this kind of deal. I loved The Time Traveler's Wife so thought I would give this a go.

Let me say from the start while it was quite good, it was no where near as good as Time Traveler's for me.

Daniel has an eternal memory. He remembers everything and everyone from his past lives. He has lived and died many times and is always searching for Sofia, a girl he has loved forever.

While Daniel remembers everything, Sofia doesn't. In this life she is called Lucy and she remembers nothing. As the book progresses, you realise Lucy may be in danger from another person with eternal memory who may do whatever they need to to stop her and Daniel living happily ever after.

I wasn't happy with the ending of the book. It was very up in the air, but today I read another review that said there is suppose to be a sequel. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about the book. I think it suffered from me comparing it to Time Traveler's Wife. I will be read the sequel however.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

I looooooooooooooooove The No 1 Ladies Detective Series. I have been reading them for ages, devouring each new one as it came out. Somehow, and I'm not sure how, I managed to miss the pass two! Something I am rectifying as soon as possible!!

Last week I was lucky enough to head away for 5 days without the husband or kids so I down loaded this to my kindle as one of the books to keep me company.

Well there is no surprise I loved it. I have never read another series that has gone for so long (this is book 10) where I haven't started to think of for god sake, this is getting ridiculous or found one or two of the books in the series lacking. Reading this was like walking into a comforting hug from a friend who says "I've missed you!"

In Tea Time, Mma Ramotswe has to deal with a soccer team that has suddenly started to lose and the death of her beloved white van. Mma Makutsi meanwhile has to deal with the machinations of the unscrupulous Violet Sephotho who is obviously out to steal her betrothed, Mr Phuti Radiphuti.

As always, new things are discovered, mysteries are solved and the book is closed with a sigh of contentment. Until next time. 

16 September, 2010

Hunger Games

Hunger Games bySuzanne Collins

I'd seen several reviews of this around the traps and so I put it on hold at the library. Took awhile to get it as there is apparently a lot of people waiting to read it! It's so popular it's only a two week loan instead of the normal four weeks. Just as well I'm on holidays and could devote myself to it fully!

Set in the future, the Hunger Games are the Capitol's way of reminding the districts that they are in control and to continue to punish them for the uprisings. Each year at the reaping, the name of two teenagers from each of the twelve districts is pulled out. These 24 people are then placed in an arena where the only rule is kill before being killed. Last one standing wins.

I must admit the whole premise of the book is what interested me to start with. The way the story developed kept you wanting to read. You wanted to know how they survived and the greater impact being forced to kill would have on them. In the end of course, the issues are so much more complicated than any of the participants could have imagined. As for the ending? Well it left me wanting more and when I get home, I will be looking up the sequel and putting it on hold too!

14 September, 2010

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares

Yep, you guessed it. Saw it on the shelves at work and thought why not?

This is one of those books I've heard about, but never read. I like the idea of a pair of pants that make you look good no matter what you size or shape - I could do with a few of them!

The traveling pants are shared between four friends who are spending the summer apart for the first time ever. Each is facing a new challenge and the pants give confidence.

The pants was a good, fun, teenage read. Not sure I'll be rushing out to find the sequel, but I'll most probably look up the movie.

The Tincture of Salt

The Tincture of Salt - Alicia Bennett

The Tincture of Salt is a collection of poems by Alicia Bennett. It was given to me by one of my book group friends.

I'm not a huge poetry person - I either love it or hate it. I don't have a lot of time for lots of flowery imagery or symbolism, but this was a gorgeous collection. For me, the best way to describe it, is to share one of them.

Her Rosary

She had seven children
Two were at home
when she clutched their tiny hands
and sought safe haven
with swollen cheek
and bloodied lip
at her parish church.

The priest, who'd baptized
all seven
instructed her to
go home and be a better wife.

She discovered that
the local bus shelter provided
as good a refuge as any
her brood climbing
and darting around the ancient fig
shading the tin roof.

When older
she drank a stubbie a day.
Her kitchen smelt
faintly of hops
roast lamb and veggies.
She shelled peas
discarding the husks
into sheets of newspaper
as I gorged on mulberries
in the back yard.

She read Mills and Boon
the Soapies
her real religion
a fantastical world
compared to her marriage and
decades of celibacy.

Now her wooden rosary beads
the colour of cherries
worn under her lifetime
sit in my jewellery box.

I often contemplate
what she would have thought
had she known
her granddaughter
took comfort in the arms
of other women.

Would she still have placed her
prayer beads
in my palm with her papery fingertips?

206 Bones

206 Bones - Kathy Reichs

A few years ago my husband bought me a Kathy Reichs book for my birthday. Being the anal person I am, I had to go back and read all of the ones before I could read the one he bought. Having done that, I forgot about it for awhile, until I was reshelving at work and thought "hmmm, haven't read that one!"

For me there is not a lot to say. I like Kathy Reichs. I like her characters and her plots. They aren't challenging reads. You know in the end they will get the bad guy by some amazing forensic and police work. Hopefully no one major will die and there will be another one along soon. Next in the series is Spider Bones which I have just downloaded to my Kindle and am looking forward to reading soon!

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver

This was my second reading of this immensely disturbing book.

Kevin is written from the point of view of Eva, Kevin's mother. They are letters to Kevin's father, Franklin in the aftermath of Kevin murdering seven of his high school class mates, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. As I said, the book is disturbing.

What I found most interesting this time through though, is how different I feel about the characters. Before I started blogging my books, I kept a reading journal. In it I review Kevin after my first reading and while I am angry with Franklin (and still was with this second reading), I was incredibly sympathetic towards Eva. With the second reading, I wasn't so on her side. Yes, I was sympathetic for what she is going through - may none of us ever know what it is to parent a child who performs such a horrific act - but I was a lot less sympathetic for her while Kevin was growing up. This time, rather than seeing Kevin as a purely evil child who had hoodwinked his father and many others, I seriously questioned Eva's role in shaping her child. I found both Eva and Franklin more interested in what was in it for them - why was she not getting from Kevin what she felt was her right as a mother. For Franklin, Kevin was just an instrument to fulfill a boyhood fantasy of what the perfect father was. Eva focused on Kevin's faults only, Franklin refused to see them. I kept asking myself at what point do you acknowledge your child has problems and actually seek help?? Eva knows all the problems, she recites them frequently, but at no point does she seem to want to do anything to deal with them. Kevin so obviously needed professional help and I truly feel his parents let him and his victims down by not seeking it.

Kevin is not an enjoyable book, but it is thought provoking. I'm looking forward to the discussion surrounding it when my book group next meets.

Celebrity Detox

Celebrity Detox - Rosie O'Donnell

Yet another pick up at work! I like Rosie O'Donnell, always have. She is loud, opinionated and makes no apologies for it what so ever. I don't like Donald Trump. He is arrogant, self centred and just all round sleazy.

Celebrity Detox deals with why O'Donnell got out of show biz, why she got back into it and how she felt about the whole Barbara Walters/ Donald Trump fiasco. Most importantly it deals with how she struggled to fit in with The View, how she didn't feel her ideas or approach were valued and how she felt let down by Barbara Walters.

In the end, while the book was interesting, it is only one persons view. Having watched a few clips about what happened and what was said by Barbara Walters, Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump, I don't agree with Rosie's take on everything. I do agree with most of what she said about Trump. Walters I'm not so sure.

The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

This came through the returns shute at work and caught my interest. Basically, the Queen, while out walking the corgis, comes across a mobile library when the corgis run amok. Feeling it is only proper, she borrows a book and becomes an avid reader. This has flow on effects (she is never on time anymore, and starts asking people what they are reading!)

I found this charmingly enjoyable. I love the idea of someone like the Queen becoming so besotted with reading that the rest of the world fades. Through reading she starts to question and wonder about things, wanting to know more and regretting the missed opportunities she has had. For me, the end was perfect - especially since it is so unlikely!