I adore the times spent with my fellow members of the Paige Turner Book Club...but I have a literary appetite that simply cannot be sated with just one book a month. This blog is a place for me to talk about more of my reading adventures. Reviews, summaries, highlights, warnings, praises and quotes. Because after all, it can be a jungle...er...savannah...out there.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

My book club read A Change of Heart in January.  I thought it was ok, but I wasn't blown away by it's awesomeness.  Two friends said that "Handle with Care" and "My Sister's Keeper" were two of Picoult's really good ones.  "Handle with Care" was readily available at the library (the other book is a little more hard to find since the movie is out), so I decided to give it a try.

"Handle with Care" follows the story of the O'Keefe family and the decisions and struggles they face raising a daughter (Willow) who has brittle bone disease.  After an especially harrowing experience, Willow's parents are presented with the idea of filing a wrongful birth lawsuit.  Doing so would be a problem for a number of reasons, two of them being 1) Charlotte (the mother) would have to say that they would have chosen to abort Willow they had known of her illness and 2) the OB/GYN in the case is Charlotte's best friend. 

It was bizarre.  I was hooked from the beginning, totally invested and engrossed throughout the plot.  Picoult explored issues from abortion to marriage to cutting to adoption to sibling dynamics to medical ethics to morality... great stuff!  But then I was completely angered and let down by the end.  Seriously.  I was livid while the book was wrapping up.

I honestly can't remember being so engrossed and yet so let down by a book.  One character in particular that bothered me throughout the book:  Charlotte, Willow's mother.  I can't decide if I like that, or if I don't.  After all, it's good writing if the author gets me that invested, right?  But I just don't understand her.  I can't get behind her.  And the repercussions and results of her actions are strongly to blame for my unhappiness at the end.

For Picoult aficionados, can I ask you a question?  Do you think the final chapter is where Picoult gives her stance/opinion/leaning on the hot topic of her book?  After reading both "A Change of Heart," and "Handle With Care," I'm tempted to think that's the case.  It might be an interesting discussion question for a book club setting.

Before I go off on a tirade and give a gazillion spoilers, I'll leave this one be.  But I can safely say that after the two Picoult reading experiences I've just had, I doubt I'll pick up another one of hers soon.  I need a break.  Silver lining:  it's one more book for the library challenge.  *grin*

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And I quote...

The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long gone. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.

~ The History Boys.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Violin by Anne Rice

Have you ever chosen a book for its title?  That’s what I did when I picked up “Violin” by Anne Rice.  I was walking through Goodwill, and thought that it might be a good adventure.  Especially since it was ½ off day and it would cost me all of $0.50.  I like Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles,” and her book “Called out of Darkness” is also on my TBR list.  Plus, I play violin.  I convinced myself that this was a wise Goodwill impulse buy.

The first page of “Violin” is captivating.

What I seek to do here perhaps cannot be done in words.  Perhaps it can only be done in music.  I want to try to do it in words.  I want to give tot the tale the architecture which only narrative can provide – the beginning, the middle and the end—the charged unfolding of events in phrases faithfully reflecting their impact upon the writer.  You should not need to know the composers I mention often in these pages…My words should impart the very essence of sound to you.  If not, then there is something here which cannot be really written. But since it’s the story in me the story I am compelled to unfold—my life, my tragedy, my triumph and its price—I have no choice but to attempt this record.

What followed was confusing, convoluted, and almost unresolved.  The main character is a 54-year old woman named Triana who has experienced some deep and devastating losses.  She’s visited by a ghost named Stefan who, in between serenades on a Stradivarius, verbally spars with Triana in an effort to drive her crazy.  They end up going on a journey through time and distance, working through grief and guilt with music (and the violin itself) as a very large catalyst to that process.

So did I like it?  Kind of.  I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t have finished reading it if I wasn’t trying to get out of running by walking this week on the treadmill.  As one reviewer said, “The novel is a beautifully written mess, a poetic pile of events which failed to capture the reader in a moment in time because this book moves too quickly and erratically to hold the reader in one place for long enough.”  About halfway through, I figured it out.  This isn’t a novel as much as it is an author grieving through a story.  From what I understand (after a bit of research when I finished the book), “Violin” is very autobiographical.  Knowing that, it makes sense to me that an author would best grieve through a story and characters.  And if you enjoy books that are more about the journey than the destination, then you may enjoy it.  But I was expecting a bit more plot. Serves me right for judging a book by its cover.  *grin* 

Speaking of covers:  This is the one on my copy.

But I think this one I found is much more appropriate.

Has anyone else read this book?  Or do you have a story about picking up a book just because you liked the title?  Feel free to share!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Goals for 2010

To Be Read Challenge

Pick 12 books – one for each month of the year - that you’ve been wanting to read (that have been on your “To Be Read” list) for 6 months or longer, but haven’t gotten around to.

* Violin - Anne Rice
* Called Out of Darkness - Anne Rice

* The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
* Extraordinary: The Life You're Meant to Live - John Bevere
* A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael - Elisabeth Elliot
* The Color Purple - Alice Walker
* A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - Donald Miller
* The Genesis Trilogy - Madeleine L'Engle
* The entire bookshelf in the guest bedroom...
   Skinny Dip by Carl Haissen
Audio Book Challenge
I'm going for "Obsessed" – Listen to 20 Audio Books.

The challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Audio books only, and only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

I am listening my way through the "Wheel of Time." - So that's 11 books to start...

Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

I'm like my blogging friend Heather with this one.  I get a lot of  books from the library anyway, this will be more of a "patting myself on the back" thing. I won't be making a reading list for this one, just adding them as I pick them up.

I'm going for the "Just My Size" level  – Check out and read 50 library books.

Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.  My favorite part?  Crossovers from other reading challenges count!