December 15th, 2009


Books 37-40

Title: Incantation
Author: Alice Hoffman
Themes/Topics: Religious Persecution, Innocence

I adore Alice Hoffman and decided to give some of her adult literature a try. The imagery and descriptions of nature were beautiful as always and the story was interesting as the main character awakened to the truth of her ancestry and the heartbreak this would instigate.

Title: Sanctuary
Author: William Faulkner
Themes/Topics: Rape, Humor, Heroism

At first I loathed this novel. It was difficult for me to get a handle on Faulkner's writing style: at times it was difficult to figure out who was stating the dialogue. Eventually, I fell into a rhythm and was able to understand. The tale was tragic, which I actually liked as it wasn't wrapped up in a nice little package. There were also some pretty funny moments so I think I'll have to give Faulkner another try. I'll reserve full judgement until I read "As I Lay Dying" next month.

Title: The Moon By Night
Author: Madeline L'Engle
Themes/Topics: Coming of Age, Family, Religion
This second novel about The Austins is just as charming as the first, filled with old-fashioned family ideals and happy endings. Vicky, the narrator, finds herself pulling away as she enters her teens and learns a lot about the "real world" as this is one of the first times her family has ventured so far away from home. Through interactions with other characters, the bubble of protection that she has been held in pops but she manages to still hold on to her ideals/values while helping others realize things aren't always as dire as they seem.

Title: The Young Unicorns
Author: Madeline L'Engle
Themes/Topics: Abuse of technology, Religious corruption
In my own terminology, I found this novel to be "kookoo bananas." Although there is a similar tone to the first two novels in this series, this book veers off sharply by introducing several new main characters and focusing heavily on the religious themes. I did not enjoy it as much since I really liked the simple nature of the first two books. This book shifts from focusing solely on the Austins to focusing more on the outside world, which I simply didn't enjoy as much.

Books 50 - 52

Deadly Web by Barbara Nadel - The weakest of her books that I've read. I had to sort of slog through this one. The mystery was really obvious from the beginning, and the characters weren't as engaging.

The Wordy Shipmates - by Sarah Vowell - This was my Thanksgiving reading. I know a lot about this era and the major players, and Sarah Vowell still made it interesting and engaging.

The Gates by John Connolly - Now I have to buy this book so I can read it again and again.

Book 61

Book 61
Animal Magnetism - Rita Mae Brown

Billed as a memoir of a life with animals, by an author who co-wrote a successful series of mysteries with her cat, Sneaky Pie, this seemed a fun and uplifting read.
This is the single worst book of the year. Bad enough that Brown felt compelled to go on and on and on about her love of fox hunting and hounds. At least that's part of the pitch of the book.
Worse, she runs off on political tangents, about how authors with millions like her can't afford to pay minimum wage to people who work on their farms. Seriously?
She also loves to bash the federal government, because clearly it's all the politicians fault that the majority of people now live in cities and suburbs, not rural areas. You think I am exaggerating. I am not. This the argument of a woman who has the logical prowess of someone named Corky.
I got hives listen to her insult my intelligence, about how -- gasp -- at any time the market could turn, her books won't sell and then -- horror! -- what will become of her animals? This was a theme throughout the book.
She also managed, in just 256 pages, to belittle the readers of mysteries who made her all that coin; insist that only folks in the Appalachians are truly good souls; and take credit as the best pet owner ever, as she admits to -- oopsie! -- letting one of her dogs get torn apart by coyotes.
Awful, awful, awful. But nothing in my reading life prepared me for her aside, bemoaning - I am NOT making this up - the "loss of the servant class."
And now, thanks to this wingnut, I have to find myself some other books to read in the next two weeks. No way in hell this is the last book of my reading year.

# 83 A Christmas Guest

A Christmas Guest

Anne Perry

Grandmama Ellison has been pawned off on relatives for the holidays, and in spite of her tough, cantaknerous exterior, she's feeling like an unwanted, regifted fruitcake. Maude Barrington, who has lived abroad in wild places for the last 40 years is also thrust upon Caroline and Joshua Fielding for the holidays by her family.

At first Grandmama Ellison is outraged that she has to share the attention of her hosts with Maude, and she is also outraged, but secretly intrigued, by Maude's colorful ways.

When the robust Maude is suddenly found dead in her bed one morning, Grandmama Ellison suspects that the death might not have been from natural causes, and takes it upon herself to search for thre truth; belatedly realizing that she feels a kinship with this woman she had barely known.

I loved A Christmas Guest! The characters, especially Grandmama Ellison and Maude Barrington were wonderful! The plot was interesting, too. This was a great Christmas read altogether!