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September 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday


I didn't get a chance to post last Monday, so I have a couple of weeks' worth of books to share with you.

Click on the titles for more information.


Abandoned: A Thriller
by Cody McFadyen
Tentative On-Sale Date: October 27, 2009

This one just arrived today and I'm so excited!! I've corresponded with Cody on and off since reading the first in this series (Shadow Man) and was thrilled to receive an unsolicited ARC from his publicist. And what perfect timing. I finished my current read today during lunch and will start in on Abandoned tonight. Thanks, Cody!

The Brutal Telling
by Louise Penny

I've only read the first in this series, but hope to get to the rest later this fall. I snagged this ARC at work in hopes that it will motivate me to get back to Quebec and Chief Inspector Gamache.


Another ARC from work. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version of Julie & Julia a few years ago, but I decided not to reread it for a recent book club meeting. However, a bunch of us went to see the movie and I loved, loved, loved it! That will definitely be a dvd I buy as soon as it's released. Nora Ephron rocks! But back to this new release. How could I resist a culinary memoir? Even one with a focus on butchery. Hmmm. Could be interesting.


Little Monsters
by Charles Lambert

This arrived last week from my mom. It sounds like an exceptional novel, and yet one that could possibly be quite difficult to read. The first sentence reads: When I was thirteen, my father killed my mother.


Testimony
by Anita Shreve

Another one from my mom. I've read a few of Shreve's novels, but none have impressed me as much as Fortune's Rocks, which I loved. I keep hoping... (Thanks, Mom!)


Mailbox Monday is the place for bloggers to share the books that arrived in their homes last week. For more Mailbox Monday posts, visit Marcia at The Printed Page.

September 20, 2009

A Month in Summary - August '09






August was full of dinner parties, trips to the Farmer's Market, a movie night with book club friends, hanging out at the pool, and a fantastic trip to Virginia Beach. Once again, not much reading going on! I did have a couple of winners, though.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (4/5)

House & Home by Kathleen McCleary (2/5)

South of Broad by Pat Conroy (4.5/5)

Click on the titles to read my reviews.

Favorite of the month: South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Books Read 3
DNF 0
Male Authors 2
Female Authors 1
New-To-Me Authors 2
Epistolary 0
Audio 0
Fiction 3
Nonfiction 0
Historical Fiction 0
Coming-of-Age 0
Classic 0
Poetry 0
Teen 0
Children's 0
Sci-Fi 0
Fantasy 0
Horror 0
Graphic Novel 0
Romance 0
Humor 0
Travel 0
Memoir 0
Biography 0
Short Stories 0
Essays 0
Culinary 0
Mystery/Thriller 1
Re-read 0
Mine 3
Borrowed 0
ARC 2

Note: Only books completed are counted in the above totals with, of course, the exception of the DNF category.

To see more photos from our vacation, feel free to visit my photo blog. You don't have to be a member to leave a comment!

A Month in Summary - July '09


July was another busy month. We had a wonderful vacation/family reunion in Depoe Bay, Oregon, but as usual, I didn't get much reading in other than on the flights back and forth. It doesn't look like I did much reading at all in July, but one the books I finished in August was actually started in mid-July. I guess it all averages out.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2.5/5)

Blue Water by A. Manette Ansay (4/5)

The Big House by George Howe Colt (DNF)

Click on the titles to read my reviews.

Favorite of the month: Blue Water by A. Manette Ansay
Favorite inspiration for blog entry: The Big House by George Howe Colt

Books Read 2
DNF 1
Male Authors 0
Female Authors 2
New-To-Me Authors 1
Epistolary 0
Audio 0
Fiction 2
Nonfiction 0
Historical Fiction 0
Coming-of-Age 0
Classic 0
Poetry 0
Teen 1
Children's 0
Sci-Fi 1
Fantasy 0
Horror 0
Graphic Novel 0
Romance 0
Humor 0
Travel 0
Memoir 0
Biography 0
Short Stories 0
Essays 0
Culinary 0
Mystery/Thriller 0
Re-read 0
Mine 1
Borrowed 1
ARC 0

Note: Only books completed are counted in the above totals with, of course, the exception of the DNF category.

A Month in Summary - June '09



Yes. I know. It's the middle of September and I'm just now getting around to posting my monthly summary for June. We've had a busy summer! A road trip to the Sandhills, a trip to the Oregon Coast, a getaway visit with friends in Missouri (near Kansas City), and a long weekend at the beach in Virginia. Time flies when you're having fun, right? I have to say I'm beginning to look forward to the shorter days of the coming season. I can't wait to curl up on the couch under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and a good book.

But back to my June's stats!

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cooke (2.5/5)

Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman (3.5/5)

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan (4.5/5)

Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer (2.5/5)

Taking Lottie Home by Terry Kay (DNF)

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg (4.5/5)


Click on the titles to read my reviews.

Favorite of the month: Tied between In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg. Two very different books, yet both were extremely enjoyable to read.

Books Read 5
DNF 1
Male Authors 2
Female Authors 3
New-To-Me Authors 3
Epistolary 0
Audio 0
Fiction 2
Nonfiction 3
Historical Fiction 0
Coming-of-Age 0
Classic 0
Poetry 0
Teen 0
Children's 0
Sci-Fi 0
Fantasy 0
Horror 0
Graphic Novel 1
Romance 0

Humor 0
Travel 0
Memoir 1
Biography 1
Short Stories 0

Essays 0
Culinary 1
Mystery/Thriller 0
Re-read 0
Mine 3
Borrowed 1
ARC 1

Note: Only books completed are counted in the above totals with, of course, the exception of the DNF category.

September 19, 2009

Benny & Shrimp



Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
Fiction
2009 Penguin
Quit on 9/6/09
Rating: DNF





Product Description:

Two middle-aged misfits and a love that should not be as complicated as it seems.

It started in a cemetery, where they begrudgingly share a bench. "Shrimp," the childless young widow and librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order, meets Benny, the gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village's Old Bachelor. Both driven by an enormous longing and loudly ticking biological clocks, they can't escape the powerful attraction between them.

But how will she learn to accept that he falls asleep at the opera and has a house full of his mother's cross-stitch? And how could he ever feel at home in her minimalist apartment, bare as a dentist's waiting room?

An international sensation now available for the first time in the United States, this quirky, humorous, completely readable novel breathes new life into the age-old conundrum that is love.

About the Author

Katarina Mazetti was nominated for the Prix Cevennes in France in 2007, and has worked as a journalist, teacher, and author of books for readers of all ages. For twenty years she lived on a small farm in northern Sweden, an experience that became the basis for Benny and Shrimp, her first adult novel.

Why is it that I dread writing a review for a book I either didn't finish or disliked, particularly when said book was sent directly from the publicist or author? I don't know these people. I don't have to make polite conversation with them at a dinner party. I'm sure they don't expect everyone to love their work. And yet, sometimes, I just hate to be the voice of dissension. But I've always been honest in my reviews and hope that those with low ratings might still appeal to other readers.

It certainly feels better to be able to say I couldn't get interested rather than to have a laundry list of complaints and irritations. Fortunately, Benny & Shrimp is simply a book that couldn't hold my attention. I have no specific complaints other than it just wasn't my cuppa tea.

September 18, 2009

Favorite Quote Friday


Last night I dreamed that I met a young boy who told me with the saddest eyes that he was never born and I asked how could that be and he explained very slowly and quietly that his father had died at the front. And then I looked behind the boy and I saw hundreds of the thousands of children, just standing there. Infinitely mute.

and

Maybe I saw her sitting on the beach too, or maybe it was just the expression on Daniel's face when he talked about her, but for me, Julia soon became my own escape from the war; my personal guardian angel who beckoned me away from the madness every time I closed my eyes. Daniel offered hundreds of dots and I connected them, until the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen emerged, my angel in the trenches; my incantation against despair. My Julia.

and

I miss my books. I gave most of them away when I sold the house. I had 2,142 of them, not counting the books at my store, which I considered mine as well, my darling pets up for adoption. The kids took what they wanted and the rest I gave to a local library. I've felt naked ever since, like a soldier stripped of his weapons.

Like most bookworms I read so as not to be alone, which often annoys those who are trying to make conversation with me. Lately I've taken to rereading the classics of my youth—a rare chance to relive the past—though I must confess that some of the books aren't what I remember at all.

Books aren't just my defenses, the sandbags I use to fortify my position; they are also the building blocks of my soul, and I am the sum of all I read. The truth is, reading about life has always proved much more satisfactory than living it, and certainly reading about people is far more interesting than actually sitting across from them at, say, a dinner party. On the page people come alive: they have sex, they travel, the reveal their deepest thoughts, they struggle against overwhelming odds, they search for meaning. In person, well, few dinner partners do any of these things.




by Jonathan Hull

I read this in April 2000. Here's my journal entry:

Wonderful, wonderful novel!! I became engrossed from the very beginning, yet tried to read slowly, savoring each sentence. I had some difficulty with the three timelines, initially, but it didn't take too long to get used to the transitions. Beautifully written. Funny, yet sad. Thought-provoking. Makes me want to read more about WWI. Rating: Excellent!!

I reread Losing Julia the following year for a f2f book club. Here's my journal entry for March 2001:

Beautifully crafted story of love, reflection, hope and regret.

This is the second time I've read Losing Julia. It wasn't nearly the pager-turner as with the first reading, but I enjoyed it on a different level just as much. I got more out of the beautiful writing this time. I knew the storyline, so I wasn't as anxious to find out what was going to happen. Oh, I love this book. I got a huge lump in my throat and teary-eyed as I read the last few pages. I have dog-eared dozens of pages. I want to write a fan letter to Mr. Hull. Rating: 10/10 Excellent!!

September 16, 2009

September 12, 2009

Resilience


Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities by Elizabeth Edwards
Nonfiction - Memoir
2009 Broadway
Finished on 9/3/09
Rating: 3.5 (Good)



Product Description


The bestselling author of Saving Graces shares her inspirational message on the challenges and blessings of coping with adversity.

She’s one of the most beloved political figures in the country, and on the surface, seems to have led a charmed life. In many ways, she has. Beautiful family. Thriving career. Supportive friendship. Loving marriage. But she’s no stranger to adversity. Many know of the strength she had shown after her son, Wade, was killed in a freak car accident when he was only sixteen years old. She would exhibit this remarkable grace and courage again when the very private matter of her husband's infidelity became public fodder. And her own life has been on the line. Days before the 2004 presidential election—when her husband John was running for vice president—she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After rounds of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation the cancer went away—only to reoccur in 2007.

While on the campaign trail, Elizabeth met many others who have had to contend with serious adversity in their lives, and in Resilience, she draws on their experiences as well as her own, crafting an unsentimental and ultimately inspirational meditation on the gifts we can find among life’s biggest challenges. This short, powerful, pocket-sized inspirational book makes an ideal gift for anyone dealing with difficulties in their life, who can find peace in knowing they are not alone, and promise that things can get better.

The older I get, the more I realize I am not alone in the heartbreaking challenges that life continues to throw my way. Just when I hang my head and cry, asking how anyone can go through one more tragedy, someone else is doing the same. We all have our sad stories. Infidelity. Divorce. Illness. Death. As cold as it may sound, that's life—the good, the bad and the ugly. And Elizabeth Edwards has certainly had her share. Death of a child. Terminal breast cancer. An unfaithful husband. I suppose it's the last in that list that gets to me the most. I would like to believe that when someone has buried a child and is suffering the ravaging affects of cancer and chemotherapy, the last thing she should have to worry about is her husband's faithfulness. That's about as low as it gets. I can't imagine the disappointment and heartbreak this woman must have felt when she learned of her husband's affair. And yet she's managed to move forward, still sharing her life with her husband.

There's a bit of a repetitive nature to Edward's story; it lacks cohesion, reading a bit like a collection of essays stitched together to create a book. And yet I've discovered this to be true of many of the books I've encountered over the past four years that deal with the loss of a loved one. It's as if you have to keep stating and restating the facts, reminding yourself of each and every detail, keeping that person alive, if only in the memory of your words. In spite of the occasional repetition, Resilience is a compelling read. There were many instances in which I found myself nodding my head in agreement and sympathy.

On acceptance...

When my son Wade died, I spent so many days or weeks or months trying to find a way to make it not so, to have him live. The American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay writes of this desire in her lovely poem "Interim": "How easily could God, if He so willed, set back the world a little turn or two! Correct its griefs, and bring its joys again!" That's all we want. A little turn or two. And Wade is alive, and the cancer is gone, and my husband turns away from the ludicrous words "You are so hot." Just a turn and all these things can go away and we can go back to having a freckled son. Just a turn and the ninety-some years that my grandmothers lived will be mine, too. Just a turn and the misery of having your past and your future taken away by something so unpleasant as a woman with nothing but idle time to spend hanging around outside fancy hotels would be avoided.

But we cannot, they cannot turn back. This is the life we have now, and the only way to find peace, the only way to be resilient when these landmines explode beneath your foundation, is first to accept that there is a new reality. The life the army wife knew before her husband went to war, the life of the patient before the word "terminal" was said aloud, the life of the mother who sat reading by her son's bed and not his grave, these lives no longer exist and the more we cling to the hope that these old lives might come back, the more we set ourselves up for unending discontent.

On adversity...

Let's start with the unavoidable fact: If I had special knowledge about how to avoid adversities, about how to spot the pitfalls of life, I would spot them, I would avoid them, and I would share how it is I had managed that. I do not. I have a lot of experience in getting up after I have been knocked down, but clearly, I do not know anything at all about avoidance. We all tumble and fall. I certainly have, but in truth it is going to happen, in some degree, to all of us. Oh, maybe everyone we care about will live to attend our funerals. Maybe everyone whom you love and who loves you will be loyal to you in every way for every day of your life. Or maybe not.

On the memory of a loved one...

Cormac McCarthy in The Crossing wrote that "time heals bereavement...at the cost of the slow extinction of those loved ones from the heart's memory which is the sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back...Speak with them." I needed him, so I did.

On a new "normal"...

Part of becoming functioning again was accepting what I could not do, much as my father had done as his body failed him. I could not bring him back, as much as I tried, as much as I prayed. I could not let him go, which is what people who cared about me wanted. So many people, thinking they were taking care of me, asked if I was over Wade's death yet. I will never be "over" it, I would tell them, and they would look back at me blankly. If I had lost a leg, I would tell them, instead of a boy, no one would ever ask me if I was "over" it. They would ask how I was doing learning to walk without my leg. I was learning to walk and to breathe and to live without Wade. And what I was learning is that it was never ever going to be the life I had before.

Clearly Elizabeth Edwards is a courageous, loving, devoted mother and wife. But she's also a human being who has suffered a tremendous amount of pain, both physically and emotionally. She has written an honest and engaging memoir that is neither whiny nor filled with harsh, angry words. She is working toward rebuilding her relationship with her husband as she continues to fight her battle with cancer. I don't know how many people could be as strong, or how many could choose to be as forgiving.

Forgiveness, I have been told, is the gift I give to him; trust he has to earn by himself. I am not going to suggest that the process is over. It is long from being over. I am still adjusting my sails to the new wind that has blown through my life.

September 11, 2009

A Moment of Silence

September 11, 2001
We will never forget.

September 8, 2009

House and Home




House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
Fiction
2008 Voice (Hyperion Books)
Finished on 8/31/09
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)








Publisher's Blurb:

A woman who loves her house so much that she can't bear for another woman to have it. So she decides to burn it down instead.

At 44, Ellen Flanagan has two adorable girls to raise and a fabulous, cozy coffee shop to run. Her favorite role, though, is as homeowner. Having lived in her house for ten years, she knows each nook and dent, is best friends with her next-door neighbor, and has memorized every Douglas fir she can see through her bedroom window. But her husband, Sam, who's charismatic, spontaneous, and utterly irresponsible, has disappointed her in more ways than she can live with--and their divorce means that Ellen is forced to give up her most treasured place on earth.

Add to that an unexpected relationship with a man who is off-limits, two daughters who don't want to move either, and confusion over how she really feels about her almost-ex-husband, and you have the makings of a delicious novel about what matters most in the end--and what makes a house a home.

Meh. I was really looking forward to finally reading this novel. I got the ARC a year ago (!!) and figured it was about time to give it a read, especially since it's already come and gone in hardcover. I threw it in my suitcase and wound up reading it almost in its entirety on our flight home from Virginia Beach last week. I was quickly engrossed and the pages flew, but the further along I read, I knew it wasn't going to be a keeper. Ellen's constant whining about losing her house began to wear on me. After a few chapters I felt the author had belabored this (and several other points) long enough and needed to move on with the story. I also felt the writing was a bit unpolished and that McCleary stated the obvious on too many occasions. For instance, this paragraph caught my attention:

"Well, yes, but I didn't mean to," said Ellen, gazing out the window again at the yellow house. It was riveting; she couldn't tear her eyes away from it. "I thought she already knew. Did you see the look on her face? Something's not right in Denmark, as Shakespeare would say."

First of all, shouldn't that be "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark?" And secondly, show, don't tell. Have another character make a joke about Shakespeare if you assume your readers aren't familiar with this famous quote!

And then there's this passage:

Ellen moved through the next two weeks in a fog. As each day ticked off, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, she had a growing sense of unreality.

Hmmmm, I'm pretty sure everyone understands what it means when one says "as each day ticked off." Personally, I think "ticked off" isn't even a good choice. Maybe "ticked by?"

Sure these are minor quibbles, but combined with the long, drawn out drama, I feel this book could have used a little more editorial finesse. Would I have finished had I not been stuck on a long flight? Probably. It wasn't terrible, and I did enjoy the setting (Portland, Oregon) and the details of Ellen's coffee shop. But even for fluff, it's not one I'd recommend.

September 7, 2009

Mailbox Monday

No mail delivery on this Labor Day Monday, but I have a book that arrived last week while we were on vacation. My favorite publicist (Caitlin, from FSB Associates) sent me a copy of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship. Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel's novel (written in epistolary format) is full of letters, emails and recipes. Sounds like my kind of book! I have a couple of books ahead in line, but this one's definitely going in my "must read this month" stack!

Click on the titles for more information.


by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel

This reminds me of another book I received a little while back. Thanks, Mom!

by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp


Don't these both look tempting?!

Mailbox Monday is the place for bloggers to share the books that arrived in their homes last week.
For more Mailbox Monday posts, visit Marcia at The Printed Page.


September 5, 2009

South of Broad


South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Fiction
2009 Nan A. Talese
Finished on 8/27/09
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)




Product Description

The publishing event of the season: The one and only Pat Conroy returns, with a big, sprawling novel that is at once a love letter to Charleston and to lifelong friendship.

Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.

Last month, I was fortunate to receive an ARC of South of Broad from the publisher (through Shelf Awareness). I'd completely forgotten that I had clicked on the widget and requested a copy, and was thrilled when the book arrived. In spite of all the other ARCs and new books stacked up all over my office, I knew this was one that couldn't be put on hold. It's been 14 years since the publication of Beach Music and I had to read this right away. I dove in, completely engrossed from the opening pages, but, alas, had to set it aside for my book club read (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). I was a little concerned that the interruption might make me lose momentum and thus not fully appreciate this long-anticipated novel, but I picked right back up where I'd left off and was once again swept up in Conroy's masterful storytelling. What a book! The characters sprang to life, tugging at my heartstrings and visiting my dreams as I slept. I was a bit disappointed when the story jumped ahead two decades, leaving those young teenagers behind, their stories untold, as their adult selves raced off to San Francisco in search of one of their own. But Conroy doesn't disappoint, and brings his characters (and readers) back not only to Charleston, but to the earlier years in which their friendships grew into life-long bonds of love and loyalty.

Some have stated that Conroy's novel is "melodramatic" and "baroque in its excesses," but I loved the lush, descriptive writing, just as I did in Beach Music.

Setting the stage:

On June 16, 1969, a series of unrelated events occurred: I discovered that my mother once had been a Roman Catholic nun in the Sacred Heart order; an Atlas moving van backed into the driveway of a nineteenth-century Charleston single house across the street from ours; two orphans arrived at the gates of St. Jude's Orphanage behind the cathedral on Broad Street; and the News and Courier recorded that a drug bust had taken place on East Bay Street at the Rutledge-Bennet house. I was eighteen, with a reputation as a slow starter, so I could not feel the tectonic shift in my fate as my history began to launch of its own volition. It would be many years before I learned that your fate could scuttle up behind you, touch you with its bloody claws, and when you turn to face the worst, you find it disguised in all innocence and camouflaged as a moving van, an orphanage, and a drug bust south of Broad. If I knew then what I have come to learn, I would never have made a batch of cookies for the new family across the street, never uttered a single word to the orphans, and never introduced myself to the two students who were kicked out of Porter-Gaud School and quickly enrolled at my own Peninsula High for their senior year.

On Charleston's Ashley River:

The Ashley was the playground of my father's childhood, and the river's smell was the smell my mother opened the windows to inhale after her long labors, bearing my brother, and then me. A freshwater river lets mankind drink and be refreshed, but a saltwater river let it return to first things, to moonstruck tides, the rush of spawning fish, the love of language felt in the rhythm of the wasp-waisted swells, and a paperboy's hands covered with newsprint, thinking the Ashley was as pretty a river as ever a god could make.

On the time-honored tradition of father and son fishing together:

The Ashley was a hiding place and a workshop and a safe house for my father and me to be alone with each other, to bask in the pleasure of each other's company, and to cure all the hurts the world brought to us. At first we fished wordlessly and let the primal silence of the river translate us into no more than drifting shapes. The tide was a poem that only time could create, and I watched it stream and brim and make its steady dash homeward, to the ocean. The sun was sinking fast, and a laundry line full of cirrus clouds stretched along the western sky like boas of white linen, then surrendered to a shiver of gold that haloed my father's head. The river held the gold shine for a brief minute, then went dark as the moon rose up behind us. In silence, we fished as father and son, each watching his line.

On the loss of a brother and son:

As far as I know, no one has mentioned my brother's name in my mother's presence for years. Even now, in the toxic wake of this evening's passage, when I try to conjure up an image of my brother's face, I can summon only a ghostly, featureless portrait, half-sketched in sepia. All I remember is that Stephen was golden and beautiful, and that our losing him drove a stake into the heart of my family. Somehow we managed to survive that day, but none of us ever experienced the deliverance of recovery. I realize you can walk away from anything but a wounded soul.

Unlike in his previous novels, Conroy finally gives us a loving father. The depth of Mr. King's love for his wife and son (and his son's friends) is tender and comforting. I especially love his wise words to Leo (regarding forgiveness) in this passage:

"Here's what you don't know about time, son," Father said. "It moves funny and it's hard to pin down. Occasionally, time offers you a hundred opportunities to do the right thing. Sometimes it gives you only one chance. You've only got one chance here. I wouldn't let it slip out of your hands."

I first discovered Pat Conroy back in the summer of 1996 when I read what would become one of my all-time favorite novels of all, Beach Music. I was carried away by Conroy's lyrical prose, completely absorbed in the sweeping saga set in South Carolina. From my reading journal, dated September 1996, I wrote:

THE BEST! I think this has to be one of the very best books I've ever read. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. I want to read everything Pat Conroy has ever written. He writes the most beautiful sentences I have ever read. I felt like I could see, hear, taste and smell everything he described. The characters became part of me. I laughed. I cried. What a beautiful, lyrical book. I recommend it to everyone!

Well, I didn't go on to read everything Conroy has written. And it wasn't until the summer of 2007 that I finally got around to reading The Great Santini (which, unfortunately, was a huge disappointment). What a strange coincidence that I read all three books in late August! I've been told The Prince of Tides is very good, but I very rarely read a book after seeing the movie and I watched that one years ago. I've also been told that The Lords of Discipline and The Water Is Wide are both very good. Maybe I should pencil those in for the summers of 2010 and 2011?

South of Broad has been panned by several reviewers, so I'm glad it's in my nature to ignore critics (of movies and books) and make up my own mind. And I'm pleased to say that I loved this book. So much so I'd even give it a second reading. It's no Beach Music, but it sure comes damned close. My question is will we be lucky enough to see anything else from Conroy? And if so, do we really have to wait another 14 years? I really wish his father hadn't forbidden him to learn how to type!

Go here to listen to Conroy discuss his new book, as well as hear him read from the prologue.

September 3, 2009

Post-Apocalyptic Endcap

I set a new endcap at work this week. I'd been planning to do this for quite some time, but really wanted to wait until I had read all the books displayed. I finally came to the conclusion that it may be a year (at least!) before I actually get all of these read, so I went ahead and put up the display. Hopefully, I can still hand sell a bunch of these books, based on what I already know about them.

Click on the titles for more information. The red titles are books I've read. (Some are reviewed on this blog.) The green titles are those I hope to read.


Click on photo for a closer view

Multiple Authors


I Am Legend
Richard Matheson

Offworld
Robin Parrish
(Bookfool has a great review here.)


Alas, Babylon
Pat Frank


Cat's Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut


Swan Song
Robert McCammon
(New trade size paperback coming out in November!)

The Road
Cormac McCarthy

the dead and the gone
Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It
Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Dies the Fire
S.M. Stirling

Lucifer's Hammer
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Unmanned (Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1)
Brian K. Vaughan

Now to decide which one of these to read first! I'm pretty sure I'll go with A Canticle for Leibowitz since I've been wanting to read it for years.