Monday, April 26, 2010

Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner

One Word Summary: For you a thousand times over
More Words: I finally screwed up my courage to read beyond that winter day in 1975. I wept with Amir. I also couldn't help but laugh mirthlessly through the horror.
But this was no Hindi movie. (p109)
there are bad people in this world, and sometimes bad people stay bad. (p319)
Had I actually gone to sleep after I had given Sohrab the news he feared most? (p351)

Is it better for people to take their own beatings, or to accept an intercessory?
Does Amir feel empathy for Hassan? Or is he wrapped up in his own self flagellation?
Why doesn't Hassan pelt Amir with pomegranates, ever?
What is Amir's real crime?
Riverhead Books 2003

Lauren Kate: Fallen

One Word Summary: Mixed Messages
More Words: Because I haven't read anything in two weeks, my children have gotten used to me as the activities director on this boat. Consequently, I had a difficult time concentrating while reading Fallen. The idea is good. I'll probably read the next books out of curiosity. The setting, a moldering refurbished antebellum military academy, is full of possibility (if you can believe it). The writing is fine. At worst the plot is flimsy, and the characters don't always stay in character.
Plot Summary: Luce is at a new school, reform school. She's off her meds, anti-psychotic drugs. She's keeping her secrets, a suspicious fire that killed her pseudo-boyfriend. She's just trying to fit in, among delinquent misfits. And there are two boys. One is too good to be true, and the other she can't help stalking. Could this be star-crossed love?

To Read Later:
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
On the Puppet Theatre, by Heinrich Von Kleist

Action List:
Watch the movie
Read the Sequel

Delacourt Press 2009

Monday, April 19, 2010

Maryrose Wood: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, The Mysterious Howling

One Word Summary: Agatha Swanburne once said...
Summary: Miss Lumley is a governess to three children who have been raised by wolves. Can she help them? Can she learn to dance? Can she thwart Lord Fredrick's diabolical plan?
More Words: I haven't actually finished yet. There are some other novels I'd rather look at just now. What I did read was cute and made me chuckle softly. Maybe later with my daughter, if we ever get through Wind and the Willows.

Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) 2010

Helen Stringer: Spellbinder

One Word Summary: I see dead people
Summary: Belladonna has problems. Her parents are dead, she has no friends, and she's a freak. But that's nothing. The real issue is that the ghosts, which she can see, have disappeared. Belladonna needs all the help she can get to find the Spellbinder and save the world.
More Words: A fun ghost story to read in lieu of television. The ghost world reminded me of Libba Bray's other dimension in A Great and Terrible Beauty or the afterlife in What Dreams May Come, except way less frightening and much less sensual. I couldn't disassociate the villain from Meet the Robinson's (with a Pancho/Igor sidekick) from the Alchemist. Also I found the extremely obtuse adults (think A series of Unfortunate Events) unlikely and cliche. But Belladonna is a great character, a perfect fit for the plot. I enjoyed her evolving relationship with Steve and Elsie.
Feiwel And Friends (Macmillan) 2009

Jane Urquhart- A Map of Glass

One Word Summary: Diseases that begin with "A"
Summary: A man is found frozen to death in the snow. A woman grieves for him. And a young artist lets go of the past.
More Words: It was difficult to stay interested in A Map Of Glass. I didn't understand the woman and I felt sorry for Malcolm. I didn't care about Jerome. Then my feelings changed. How do authors work their magic on our perceptions? I liked this story. Andrew's 'memoirs' are ethereal like a fairy tale, the whole novel has a pleasant aftertaste that I've enjoyed for the past three weeks. I still don't understand the woman, but she doesn't frustrate me anymore. I pity Malcolm, and Jerome is still Jerome.
I like the questions I found at BookBrowse:

"I doubt it," said Annabelle, removing a ledger from the edge of Deveen Bog and watching the map slowly curl back into a cylindrical shape. "Nothing goes on forever." (p253)

Only much later in life was he able to realize that, even in a colony whose wealth was founded entirely on the slaughtering of wild animals and the clear cutting of forests, there were moments of pure magic. (p255)

His father had smiled. "Now that is the definition of avoidable difficulty," he said to his son. "Who but a fool would choose to live in such a wild, inhospitable place? No one but an Irishman would endeavor to haul furniture to such a grey, destitute, though"- he had admitted with an uncharacteristically dreamy look in his eye-" in certain lights, beautiful mountain." (p257)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Margret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale

One Words Summary: Aiden Quinn
Storyline: In response to an apathetic population, unable to reproduce itself, a militant patriarchal group overthrows the U.S. government and establishes a theocracy which reduces everyone to a function. Suddenly women cannot own property, cannot work outside the home. Reading is against the law. Other minorities are silently removed. All infractions are punishable by death.

More Words: Now I feel guilty for enjoying my life as a stay at home wife and mother who bakes and is completely dependent on her man for food-shelter-clothing-affection. Gosh I don't even drive these days! However the real difference between my life and The Handmaid's Tale is choice. Still I can't help but wonder if I've been duped by The Man (or the troubadours).

  1. Why is Moira's lassitude so terrible?
  2. The women in Gilead are segregated from the men, and they are isolated from other women by class, function, and suspicion. They seem to lack any form of companionship (even words). Which is more important romantic love or friendship?
  3. What is the ancillary function of a Handmaid? Are the Commander's sterile?
  4. Atwood uses pornography to manifest the level of 'social degradation', how is her barometric choice relevant to our society?
    The military coup is chilling especially in light of 9/11. Could something similar really happen?
  5. THMT was published in 1985. When was America really becoming frightened by the AIDS epidemic?
  6. Mme Defarge knit, Snow Flower had a fan, how would a woman in Gilead have 'written'?


I admired my mother in some ways, although things between us were never easy.
She expected too much from me, I felt. She expected me to vindicate her life for
her, and the choices she'd made. I didn't want to live my life on her terms. I
didn't want to be the model offspring, the incarnation of her ideas. We used to
fight about that . I am not your justification for existence, I said to her
once. (p122)

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on. (p 174)

No mother is ever completely a child's idea of what a mother should be, and I suppose it works the other way around as well. (p181)

I've tried to put some good things in as well. Flower's for instance, because where would we be without them. (p?)

Erica Verrillo: Elissa's Odyssey

One Word Summary: Talking Ass
More Words: Surprise this is a sequel, and I haven't read the first. I didn't get past the talking animals (only Elissa talks to them). My husband chose this book, because I promise I'm going spend more time with the classics. Me, I just liked the map on the inside cover. Aren't stories that come with maps interesting. Sorry Ms. Verrillo I'm not going to read your book, I'm sure you worked very hard to write it.

Jane Austen and Another Lady: Sanditon

One Word Summary: Let's talk about the weather
More Words: I like this story. It's a little ridiculous, and a lot of fun.
Storyline: Charlotte Heywood is invited to visit the budding seaside resort town of Sanditon. There she meets a full cast of thoroughly self-absorbed selfish characters whom* she likes to observe with just a touch of bias. Charlotte herself is all politeness and decorum until she falls insensibly love with Sydney Parker who embroils her someone else's romance.

*the objective case of who... what the heck does that mean?

Frank Herbert: Dune

One Word Summary: Feint within a feint within a feint.....
Summary: It's eons into the future. Human nature hasn't changed much, but humans are more evolved- physically and mentally. There's this spice, Melange, found only on one planet, Arrakis, that everyone needs. There's a company CHOAM which distributes the spice and controls the economy. There's political intrigue between the Padisha Emperor, the Bene Gesserit, The House Atreides, The House Harkonnen, The Guild. And then there are the worms and the Fremen and the ecology of Dune. Plus the advent of a messiah-figure.
More Words: Fantastic in depth and scope. Fascinating because so much revolves around a barren planet. Dune had to be The Matrix of the 1960's. My friend N.Bryson highly recommended it, nd that mysterious group the Bene Gesserit (who come from the school of Lady Macbeth) clinched the decision. Anyhow, I know this is a groundbreaking novel but I don't love it. Here's why. Italicized double thinks drive me crazy. There's got to be a way of creating political intrigue without them. Plus, my maturity level demands a clear cut good guy. The Harkonnen's were vile, but it seemed that the Atreides' were only marginally 'better'. And hurray Paul is the Muad'Dib, only what exactly is his purpose? I tried to read Messiah Dune, but I'm just not that interested. Too much of a good thing and all that (kind of like Ender's Game)

How do the female character's reflect the ideas about women in the 1960?
What would the sierra club have to say about making even half the planet water friendly?
Do I live under a rock? Is everyone else's life this complicated?
Who else feels sorry for Princess Irulan and her literary aspirations?

Action List:
Watch the movies