Miss Invisible

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Miss Invisible
Laura Jensen Walker
3/5 Stars

This novel was a nice departure after some more serious reading. I enjoyed the basic storyline: a self-conscious, overweight twenty-something realizes that she is fine, just the way she is. But, I have to say that I found Freddie, the main character, to be a little over the top – a little too neurotic and hard on herself. Luckily, Walker surrounds Freddie with a multitude of well developed and realistic personalities. These characters work together to give Freddie a new lease on life.

A pleasant read - I would recommend you grab this one on your way to the beach.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Laurie Halse Anderson
4/5 Stars

Earlier this year, I read Twilight because a friend raved about it. I was very surprised that I would enjoy a young adult novel so much. I like it so much, I decided to join the young adult challenge. I saw Twisted reviewed on another blog and decided that it would be the first book in this challenge.

As a high school teacher, and the mother of a teenage boy, I found the character of Tyler to be very realistic. Anderson has managed to capture the indecision and longing for acceptance that every teenager experiences at this age.

Tyler, who sees himself as an outcast, is secretly in love with Bethany. When she begins to show him some attention, he is not sure how to react. Tyler's thoughts are classic:

“Bethany Milbury smiled at me in homeroom every day for the
next two weeks. The first couple times she did it, I turned
around to see who was standing behind me. Then came the day
she got up from her seat and hobbled over to sit in the chair in front
of me.

“Hi,” she said.

(Stunned silence on my part.)

She blinked her eyes. “Are you mad at me or something?”

I choked out an answer and she smiled so brightly that small holes
were burned in my retinas.”

--Page 58

Anderson also manages to infuse the characters her novel with a sense of humor. Some parts of the book deal with sensitive subjects such as suicide, drinking, and sexual assault. Tyler’s subtly humorous observations make it easier to get past the ugly topics and concentrate on the lessons he is trying to teach us.

Young Adult Challenge

The Challenge: Read 12 young adult books during 2008.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
Creepers by Joanne Dahme

Weekly Geeks #3 - Childhood Memories

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I read a lot when I was a kid - I mean A LOT! I wasn't into sports. I didn't hang out too much with the neighborhood kids. I spent time in my room reading. I am almost afraid to admit that most of the books I read didn't make much of an impression on me - because I can't remember them at all. But, I have managed to drag a few from the dark recesses of my brain.

Nancy Drew

I loved these books. I never actually had the entire set, but I remember those yellow covers well. I have no idea how many books in this series I actually read, but I devoured every one I could get my hands on.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

I read this book as a preteen. It tells the story of a Dutch family, the Ten Booms, and their lives during World War II. The Ten Booms, tired of the atrocities they witnessed around them, managed to build a secret room in their home to hide Jews during Nazi raids. Unfortunately, they were eventually arrested and sent to concentration camps.

This was my first glimpse into Nazi Germany, and it has fascinated me ever since.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

I read the entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia - from Prince Caspian to The Last Battle. I have never been a big fantasy reader, but I loved these! As an adult, I bought the boxed set and reread them.

I'm anxious to find out what everyone else remembers!

Into the Wild

Monday, May 12, 2008

Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer
4/5 Stars

I have been fascinated with the story of Christopher McCandless ever since I first heard of him – a young man who walked off into the Alaskan wilderness to live off the land. When I visited Alaska in 2005, I found myself dreaming of backpacking the Yukon Trail and getting lost in the wilderness. For me, of course, it was just a pipe dream and I kissed it goodbye when I boarded the cruise ship that would take me home. McCandless, on the other hand, made his dream a reality. Unfortunately, his story does not have a happy ending.

Jon Krakauer did a fantastic job of bringing the story of Chris McCandless to life. Krakauer, who also traveled to Alaska at the age of 23, gives the reader rare insight into McCandless’ mindset. Using McCandless’ letters, quotes from his favorite authors, and passages from books in his possession at the time of his death, Krakauer pieces together a portrait of a determined young man, a “leather tramp,” and a decent and caring friend.

Krakauer also manages to make the reader feel that he knows the answer to the big question: “Why would someone leave civilization behind and try to survive in the wilds of Alaska?”

According the McCandless himself:

“It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the
fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it’s great to be alive! ”
Journal Entry dated 2/27/90

I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and would recommend it to anyone who has ever felt the pull of nature or the call of a simpler existence.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Desert Flower

Desert Flower
Waris Dirie
4.5/5 Stars

Desert Flower is as an excellent introduction to the nomadic culture of the Somali desert. Somalia, as described by Dirie, is a beautiful and dangerous place. The people who inhabit the desert must use all their strength to create a life using only sand and the little water that can be found. It is this strength that enabled Dirie to survive female genital mutilation, her flight across the desert to avoid an arranged marriage, living as a servant in England, and finally achieving success as a model.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, finding it to be easy to read and well-written. Dirie manages to describe the more intimate events in her life with just enough detail to get her point across. She is factual, but not over the top. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Desert Dawn.

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle
Jeanette Walls
5/5 Stars

The Glass Castle is the moving portrait of a broken family. The Walls family is constantly on the move, from the deserts of Arizona to the hills of West Virginia, with no apparent rhyme or reason.
Both parents seem more focused on themselves than their family. The cabinets are always empty, the house cold, and the children left to fend for themselves. Walls eventually manages to escape the confines of her family and find a home in New York.

I have to say that, although I enjoyed reading The Glass Castle, I found it to be very disturbing. As a mother myself, I found it difficult view a dysfunctional family, from a child’s point of view. I have to tell you that there were times when I found myself yelling (out loud) at that mother, kind of like my husband when he's watching a football game.

In the end, Walls and her siblings begin their own lives and learn to accept the living conditions their parents have chosen. While no one’s childhood is perfect, this book is a dramatic glimpse into circumstances that few of us will ever have to experience.

Non-Fiction Five Challenge

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Challenge: Read five non-fiction books between May and September, 2008. One book must be different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help).

My List:

1. Desert Flower by Waris Dirie

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

3. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

4. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

5. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Good Luck Everyone!

Chick Lit Challenge

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Challenge: Read at least three "chick lit" books between June 1 and September 1.

Here is my list:

Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes

April Reads

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Enemy’s Cradle by Sara Young - Finished 4/30/08

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham - Finished 4/28/08

The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander - Finished 4/25/08

Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart - Finished 4/24/08

Going Gray by Anne Kraemer - Finished 4/16/08

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver - Finished 4/12/08

Mistaken Identity by Don & Susie Van Ryn - Finished 4/8/08

The Ruins by Scott Smith - Finished 4/7/08


Favorite: My Enemy's Cradle

Least Favorite: The Bean Trees

Fifth Born

Fifth Born
Zelda Lockhart
4/5 Stars

Fifth Born is the story of Odessa, a young girl living in a large, dysfunctional family. Her mother is incapable to caring for her children (but continues to get to get pregnant) and her father is an alcoholic. Lockhart follows Odessa’s life from the death of her grandmother at age three, through her teenage years. We are witness to the tragedy and abuse that Odessa must confront at every turn, as well as her salvation.

This novel was a quick and enjoyable read. The characters were authentic, even though most were thoroughly unlikable. Great ending!