Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I read in September

Here's what I read in September. I had named it the month of the novel and read a few. I started a few others but decided they weren't for me and returned them to the library.
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. 
Not a novel but I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that I requested the rest of her books from the library. A mix of novels and memoirs. Should make for some interesting reads. One quote I wrote down from the book above was: "Fill your ears with the music of good sentences, and when you finally approach the page yourself, that music will carry you." Sounds good to me.

The Writer's Little Helper by James V. Smith Jr.
Great little book. I've already bought myself a copy. I like his tone and that most of the information is put in point form/ checklists which will be great to refer back to. Highly recommend.

The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit
I was really enjoying this novel until a historical error right near the end almost completely ruined it for me. Definitely written with a unique voice. Told as a collected we of the wives, no I voice used. Read reviews of this after and a lot of people didn't like the voice but I enjoyed it. Felt more like poetry. Highly recommend. 

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Well written but I'm not sure if I like it. It's about a family and what happens as they grow up. The mother becomes a hoarder and the kids are left cleaning up after her. One of the brothers had committed suicide as a teenager and the reason for it is finally revealed near the end and ... I just didn't buy it. Everything before and after that is okay. The family moves on and everyone is friendly at the end. I don't want to say I'd wouldn't recommend it but it's amazing how one little detail affects the whole book.

One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperi
Used this book to make...

... this birthday cake for me. Not bad. Great book. Good pictures which is a deal breaker for me and cookbooks.

The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. You don't have to be a fan of The Simpsons or math to like this book. I learned a lot and it has added a few other books to my list (from my husband's bookshelf). Joseph is going to read it, too. He has stated that if he could do it again, he'd get a degree in mathematics so he will definitely enjoy it. Now I find myself watching Simpsons looking for numbers. The book also discusses Futurama.

Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook.
Highly recommend this book. Plot was believable but unique. Kind of saw some of the plot twists coming but still liked it. Novel is about a couple and their daughter who gets a new piano teacher, Miss Fox. The parents know Miss Fox from before they were married and had just started dating. Miss Fox has a secret about the dad which eventually comes out. The rest of the novel deals with  how does a family move on after a crisis. Do they forgive? What kind of compromises are parents willing to make for their child's happiness and for each other? Great read - I read it in a day.

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer
 My feelings towards this book are still very raw, even though I finished it a few days ago. 
The novel is the story of 2 people who only know each other via an online forum for different kinds of families. Scott and his wife are currently foster parents to an 8 year old boy who is the half brother of one of Scott's former students (their mother is in jail for drug charges). He has to return the boy to his mother in 5 days - thus only has five days left with him. The other character is Mara who has Huntington's disease. After she is first diagnosed 4 years prior, she decides that she will commit suicide on her next birthday once the disease goes from its early stage to advanced stage. As the title suggests the signs come five days before her next birthday. She spends the novel preparing for her death (no one knows her plan) and debating with herself whether she can wait another year.
After reading the first 100 pages, I was crying to my husband about the what-ifs. What if one of us got terminally ill? What would we do? I prepared myself for the ending of the book. To be sad and crying but that didn't happen.
I think this book could have been two novels instead of one. Mara and Scott are two very different characters and could easily carry their own novel. I enjoyed Scott's storyline but it felt like filler until the novel returned to Mara. I'm not sure why the author felt the need to put them together. Perhaps Scott's storyline allows readers an emotional break from Mara's?
I think I am most struggling with the ending. (SPOLIER) The letters that Mara writes to her daughter and husband to read after she's gone finish the book . They almost felt unnecessary, like I was reading something private. Something I shouldn't be reading. I think the book would have been better if it had stopped at the end of the previous chapter when Scott was wondering where Mara was on the online forum they both were members of. The letters were too much. Like the author wanted me to cry - but I didn't. I didn't want to read them. Those were private and I sound crazy. 
I don't think I'd recommend it. It felt like the author was playing with my emotions. The book has definitely stayed with me though and forced my husband and I to have a conversation about terminal diseases and what our wishes would be. Not fun. The author is local and giving a reading tonight. I almost want to go and ask her why she included the letters at the end but I won't. Some people will probably really enjoy this book, I'm just not one of them.

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