Monday, December 26, 2011

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan by Lisa See

I'm sad that I didn't read this book sooner. It was a bittersweet tale of two women and their friendship over the course of their lives. See does a marvelous job, not only painting the picture of the time period these women lived in but creating characters that I as a reader cared about. From the first few pages I was drawn into Lily and Snow Flower's lives. I enjoyed all the detail that See provides about their day to day lives. The information about how a family in rural China might have lived day to day was fascinating to me. I did sadden me to hear how women were treated and how under valued women were seen. Overall, a wonderful story about women and their friendship.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


This book has been on my shelves for a long time. I finally got around to reading it. I really liked this book. It's also a first time author for me. I'll be reading this author again, I really liked the style of his writing. You can see my full review at my place, Just Books.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

I'm a big fan of vampires. Yes even before Twilight and the current glut of vampire books. But I'd never read Interview With The Vampire. Perhaps it was the hype, perhaps it was the fact I'd read countless other vampire books but Interview With The Vampire wasn't my favorite.
Louis tells the story of how he became a vampire, his time spent with Lestat, how they found Claudia, and how Louis and Claudia learned about other vampires. Since Louis is telling his story after it's all happened, he's able to add details and explain how things turned out. I kind of wish that after he started telling the story we were transported back to where Louis' story began. For me the story dragged. I couldn't get into Louis' story. I didn't care about any of the characters that much.
Overall I was unimpressed with Interview With The Vampire. It'll take a lot for me to continue with The Vampire Chronicles series.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Number 67 of 100 done. This book was a little disappointing.

This 3rd book in the Darkest Powers series returns you to the safe house where Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori are hiding from the Edison Group. The pace was fast, and the plot's twists left me guessing who to trust and very surprised when the answers were revealed. This book did not provide the ending to the trilogy that I had wanted. It left me with lots of questions and no answers. But the romance between Chloe and Derek was answered. Do Chloe, Derek, Simon and Tori get away and into safe hands? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This is book 65 of 100.

"Notes From A Small Island" by Bill Bryson
Product Description
After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestsellingauthor of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to returnto the United States. ("I had recently read," Bryson writes, "that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another,so it was clear that my people needed me.") But before departing, he set out ona grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.
Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie's Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 1, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0380727501
ISBN-13: 978-0380727506

MY THOUGHTS: This was a very interesting book. The author takes you on a walking trip around England, some places you've heard of and are very famous, and some places you've never heard of. All along giving you his version of what it's like traveling and trying to find good places to sleep and eat. I really liked this book, it was funny at times and kind of sad at times. But really an enjoyable book to read.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Book Description:
Gregor is stuck watching his two year old sister, Boots and his grandma for the summer. During the laundry session, his sister looses her ball in the grate and they both get sucked into the Underland. The Underland is filled with giant bugs, spiders, and rats. He just wants to get back home, but discovers two things. The first is that a prophecy foretells a role for him in the future of the humans living in the Underland. And second, the mystery of his father's disappearance is uncovered. The quest all unfolds as the mysterious prophecy plays out.

My Thoughts:
This book started a bit slow for me. I really didn't get into it until about the fourth chapter or so. It did pick up though, and I did enjoy it overall. I really appreciated the research on the different animals used to create their characters and attitudes. I was inclined to go and read about rats and their teeth, to find out if the fact was true or not. I think it is a great book for boys because of the quest and adventure. They would love that part for sure. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wuthering Heights (audio)~ Emily Bronte

wuthering heights

My plan was to post this on or near Halloween as it is a horrific ghost tale of sorts. But life is crazy now so it’s probably best to get this live. This is a copy of the post from my blog –  edited for Fill in the Gaps.

Reviewed by Shellie: Wuthering Heights ~ by Emily Brontë

A classic masterpiece that is an incredible work of horrific and tragic fiction. It is a shocking “page turner” that I could not put  down.

About:  A tale of a haunting, either imaginary or not. It’s also a story of love and a loss so obsessive that it creates a monster from a man, mangling him into a cruel character that manipulates those around him for revenge, power, and pleasure. His anger seethes into the lives of family and those who he should love and cherish. Sadly, due to the constraints of the time, those around him cannot escape his internal conflict, external tortures, and schemes.

The story unfolds within and around two houses or manors in the late 1700s/early 1800s, in the English countryside. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are the names of the houses where the story takes place, among the rock strewn landscape of the bleak, damp and beautiful Yorkshire Moors.

The story is told from the perspective of a new border (Lockwood) who arrives to rent Thrushcross Grange in an effort to escape city life in London. Hoping for idyllic countryside and folk, he finds signet wuthering heightsthings are not at all as he had wished or imagined. He is appalled yet intrigued as to the reasons why there is such lack of normal civility at Wuthering Heights, so he consults the household’s servant, Nelly Dean. Through a series of conversations she tells him the horrible and convoluted tale. As they progress, Nelly’s strong character and moral sensibilities come through as she passes along the tragedy of the young Heathcliff and Catherine, spanning their childhood and beyond.

Thoughts:   John (my partner) is from North Yorkshire, growing up only several miles from where the Bronte’s lived, wrote, and died. So naturally I have visited the area frequently over the years. When visiting one can see the landscape is rocky and harsh with its boggy, peaty waters running through its craggy hills. It is generally damp and cold with summers that can be lovely and warm but only for a moment. This description of the moors is also a metaphor used throughout the novel; it mirrors a conflicted passion between the main characters.

It is accepted that life there was harsh 200 years ago, and still is for farmers working there today. They are known to be surly and cranky, so Heathcliff's temperament was no surprise, yet his extreme cruelty was. He is a character who is sadistic and that overshadows most of the other well fleshed out figures – even the wild, strong-willed, yet spoiled Catherine. I was shocked, thinking the book was categorized as a romance and it that would be light. Boy was I wrong.

You may think that through my description above that I did not particularly like Wuthering Heights. I loved it and think it is an incredible surprise of a horror story. It’s a harshly “romantic” tale and an enduring historical classic. It has a wonderful and deeply conflicted character with a chafing angst. It deserves a 4.5 stars and gets a big “Wow” in my humble opinion.

The version I listened to is included below, as is a paperback I used as reference – the Yorkshire accent is difficult even today, let alone 200 years ago when the book was set and written. Even John as a native Yorkshire-man had difficulty translating it for me. The best part of the particular version I listened to is that the narrator has a “proper” Yorkshire accent and sounds just like my sister in law (a native). It gives the reading an authentic feel.

Audio: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged; 11-CD Set; read by Janet McTeer and David Timson; 13 hours, 9 minutes; May 15, 2007; 

Paperback: Signet Classic; introduction by Alice Hoffman; copy shown above also includes an afterword by Juliet Barker; 352 pages; March 1, 2011; 

And now for some visuals - all are near Skipton, an ancient market town in the English North Yorkshire Dales and just a few miles away from where Bronte lived.

These were taken by John and myself in July several years ago:


You can see the rocky hills although most of the heather has been cleared for the cattle.


Here are portioned off areas used for sheep grazing. I would estimate the temperature was in the high 60s on the days these shots were taken, which is warm for the locals. Be forewarned that it can change in minutes to a windy rain-soaked downpour, yes even in July. And in winter it is much colder and often icy, with occasional snow.

Author Bio:   Emily Jane Brontë was born July 30, 1818, at Thornton in Yorkshire, the fifth of six children. Both of Emily's parents had literary leanings. Her mother died of cancer shortly after Emily's third birthday. Her primary residence and the rectory where she lived now serves as a Bronte Museum. Emily's only close friends were her brother Branwell and her sisters Charlotte and Anne. She died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1848 at the age of thirty, and never knew the success of her only novel Wuthering Heights - which was published a year before her death. She was purported to be a reserved, courageous woman with a commanding will and manner.

Wuthering Heights was first published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte. It met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative's stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty.

Bio information was taken from Wikipedia.

On one trip to England I read a short bio on the family from one of the books in the cottage where we stayed since their home was very near to the area we stayed. From what I read their lives were short and tragic. So very sad. I imagine the area was very bleak in those times. It still often is.

In summary – it is a perfect read for the “scary season” especially for those who are a bit more literary and classics minded and is highly recommended in this audio version.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


"The Undomestic Goddess" by Sophie Kinsella
Product Description(
Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership. Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer—and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope—and finds love—is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake. But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?
Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Dell (October 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044024238X
ISBN-13: 978-0440242383

MY THOUGHTS: This is the first book from this author that I've read. I liked a review I read somewhere and thought I would try it out. It wasn't exactly what I thought it was. I have to admit I skipped through chapters. This book is kind of not realistic. It leads you to believe that Samantha became a great chief in a very short time. It fell apart at the end. I didn't particularly like the characters in this book. It was readable and that's all I can say about it.

My full review is at Just Books.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Book Description: Tree-ear is an orphan living with a crippled man under a bridge in Korea during the twelfth-century. This bridge is near the village of Ch'ulp'o, known for its remarkable pottery, the delicate celadon ware. Tree-ear has a passion to make his own pot someday. This passion leads him to secretly watch Min, the master potter work. Due to circumstances, Tree-ear becomes a worker for the elderly master. He learns much of the trade, but will Min teach him the art of spinning the wheel? 

My Thoughts: It's a Newberry winner for a reason. It is very good coming of age story where Tree-ear is put onto situations where he must decide to do what is right, or what is easier. I enjoyed the Korean culture that was brought out through the relationships of the characters in the book. 
An example of the glaze color of Celadon.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Hours By Michael Cunningham

Since I read Mrs Dalloway a few weeks ago I decided it was time to read The Hours. I wasn't sure I was going to like it but I really enjoyed it.
The Hours is the story of three women-Virginia Woolf, Clarrisa Vaughn, and Laura Brown. Virginia is recovering and writing Mrs Dalloway. Clarrisa is getting ready to throw a party for her friend, Richard, a poet who is receiving an award. Laura is a pregnant stay at home mom who is reading Mrs Dalloway. The story is quite simple. Each woman is going through her day, interacting with spouses, friends, and neighbors. Each woman lives a quiet life but they all have this inner turmoil, this longing for something else. It's quite beautiful how each story unfolds and each woman is revealed.
I have never seen the movie but I want to now that I finished the book. It's an elegant story and an enjoyable read.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Book Description: Sophie, a little orphan girl, is captured by a giant. Not just any giant, but the Big Friendly Giant, which is very fortunate for her. He does NOT eat human beans like the other giants that live near him. Together they come up with a plan that involves the Queen of England to stop the other nine giants from eating humans.

My Take: LOVED it! Great story that keeps you wondering. What I liked the best was the wonderful words that Mr. Dahl makes up for the giant to speak. They are just fun to pronounce and hear out loud. Definitely, a good book to read out loud to your children or a classroom! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just Left of Imagination Avenue: #YAScramble!! "Want to get away? Powerful Settings...

Just Left of Imagination Avenue: #YAScramble!! "Want to get away? Powerful Settings...: (what a cool 50th post this makes!) #YASCRAMBLE GUYS! Here's what you do: 1) Visit the first blog (based on list below). 2) Read the gues...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola

Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola 
Fun picture book about the story of Wangari Maathai, first woman from Africa to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As a child she remembers her home in Kenya with many farms and villages where people ate the food they grew. She was able to attend college in the US, where she studied biology in hopes to return to Kenya with her new knowledge. In those five years, though, Kenya had changed dramatically. The trees had been cut down for more plantation fields, which led to various problems. Wangari Maathai taught the women to grow trees from seeds.  This turned out to be the best thing for the people of Kenya.

My thoughts:
I thought the book was really good for younger children to learn about a person out making a difference in her home country. The pictures are colorful. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

whoops, further updates

Upon perusal of my list, I realize I have also finished the following and forgotten to blog about them:

TROPIC OF CANCER, Henry Miller (blech, basically)

BAD BEHAVIOR, Mary Gaitskill (liked it ok; got me reading more short stories; didn't totally fall in love)

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE, Raymond Carver (again, enjoyed; more short stories please; revealed Gordon Lish editorial style to me, which has been very educational)

CHARMING BILLY, Alice McDermott (lovely writing, but I found it a bit inaccessible)

THE SUN ALSO RISES, Ernest Hemingway (yep, definitely a fan)

THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLES, Haruki Murakami (glad I've got a Murakami under my belt now, but I just don't think I'm a fan of his)

I also started Charles Dickens's DAVID COPPERFIELD, but kind of put it aside after 30% (on Kindle). I'm just starting Edward P Jones's THE KNOWN WORLD now.

Wahoo. Almost halfway through.

ENDER'S GAME, by Orson Scott Card

Yay! After a long hiatus (uh, someone fell into an epic fantasy binge-reading hole), I'm making Gaps progress again. Here's my review for Ender's Game. I'd love to discuss with anyone else who's read it.


I've been wanting to read this book for ages. I read a review somewhere and it sounded so cute. Grandpa, a dog and pancakes starts all this. Grandpa is fixing pancakes and the dog comes running through the room, upsetting Grandpa. The pancake fly's through the air and lands on his head. Later that night, at bedtime, Grandpa tells them a tall tale about Chewandswallow. It doesn't rain or snow, it comes down as food. But one day the weather gets really strange and starts sending enormous amounts of food and the food is larger. All the people make a boat out of the peanut butter sandwiches and sail away to another town.
This book has some wonderful drawings done by Ron Barriett. Children would love this book as it's full of imagination. If you have children you should read this book to them. It wonderful!

My full review at Just Books.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Women In Love - D.H. Lawrence

From Wikipedia: Women in Love, published in 1920, is a sequel to his earlier novel The Rainbow (1915), and follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The emotional relationships thus established are given further depth and tension by an intense psychological and physi attraction between Gerald and Rupert. The novel ranges over the whole of British society before the time of the First World War and eventually ends high up in the snows of the Tyrolean Alps.

My Thoughts:

I can't say that I enjoyed the story of Women in Love. It strikes me as too prosaic. Nothing in the plot or in the relationships was interesting enough (to me) to warrant an entire novel on the subject.

(I'm willing to concede that I formed this opinion based on a lack of understanding because I haven't read the precursor, The Rainbow. But I'm not willing, at this point, to read that to see if it changes my opinion.)

At times the dialogue made me want to wing the book across the room. It seemed the characters spoke in soliloquies rather than to each other. They would drone on and on, frequently, using language quite unbelievable for casual discourse.

However, I did enjoy Lawrence's choice of language, mainly in his descriptive passages. He has a rare talent for choosing words which provide an underlying feel or emotion to the scene, quite capturing the mood with what's happening among the characters. My only beef is that he used these precise, emotive words over and over again in the scenes. I found myself thinking, "Enough already! I get it!" many times throughout the course of the book.

Also, according to Wikipedia: As with most of Lawrence's works, Women in Love caused controversy over its sexual subject matter. One early reviewer said of it, "I do not claim to be a literary critic, but I know dirt when I smell it, and here is dirt in heaps — festering, putrid heaps which smell to high Heaven."

By today's standards Women in Love is tame, very tame, with much of the sexual tension couched in suggestion and innuendo. And it's these precise suggestions that Lawrence's language evokes. I can understand how the review came to his opinion.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

Book Description:  Young Fu and his mother are forced by a famine to leave their small village in the mountains to move to the big city of Chungking.  Young Fu is bound for seven years as an apprentice to the copper-smith, Tang.  Young Fu learns more from his kind master than just the skills required of a copper-smith.  From each adventure that Young Fu finds himself in, he begins to make his own opinions about the western world and life in general. Set in the 1920's, China is slowly changing as a country and Young Fu changes with it, from a boy into a man.

My Thoughts: Having lived near the Yangtze River for a few years I was intrigued by the descriptions made about the junks that traveled to and from Shanghai. What I really liked was the way that Elizabeth Foreman Lewis intertwined the old superstitions of Young Fu's mother and his newer ways of thinking. For example, she was highly fearful of foreigners, but Young Fu found them to not be scary and a few to be very helpful and caring. I enjoyed reading this story, though fictional, about this era right before China's revolution began.  Elizabeth had lived in Chungking during this time, so the descriptions of the streets and surroundings made for a fun, run down memory-lane read for me (even if it was a different era, somethings I found still the same...)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway seems like a book I should have read in one of my high school English classes. Since my teacher didn't get the memo, I read it now (some 15 years after high school). I thought I would like Mrs Dalloway since it's very stream of consciousness (no, it is stream of consciousness). And I tend to think and tell stories in the same manner. Sadly, another classic I didn't fall in love with. I did enjoy the writing. It was very beautiful but I couldn't always understand what was going on. I'm glad to have read it so I can read The Hours, also on my Fill In The Gaps list.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: A Widow for One Year - John Irving

A Widow for One Year is a story about Ruth Cole, told in three parts. For the first part of the book, she’s only four years old. In the second, she’s in her 30's, a successful writer. In the last part of the book, she is 41, widowed, and the mother of a one year old.

The story is both tragic and farcical. When it opens, her two older brothers have both perished in a car accident. (Something Ruth doesn’t have the capacity to understand, and her mother doesn’t have the capacity deal with .) Ruth’s the third child, made by parents trying to keep it together. The book opens with Ruth’s mother having sex with her 16-year-old baby sitter, Eddie, and Ruth walking in on them.

Ruth’s mother eventually leaves. (Eddie never gets over his infatuation, even though later in life he falls in love with Ruth.) Both Ruth and Eddie wait nearly 40 years for Ruth’s mother to return.

There’s a lot of drama in this book: Ruth is raped by her father’s friend, her father commits suicide over it, Ruth is widowed shortly after being married (foreshadowed by the curse of another widow) and later she witnesses the murder of a prostitute in Amsterdam.

There should have been enough “story” here to keep anyone interested, but I found the book plodding and dull. It was like the events were told so matter of factly, that they didn’t mean anything. It’s as though Irving didn’t care enough to tell it well.

It was a quick read, nonetheless, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

So after a very long break, and an even longer amount of procrastinating, I decided to pick my next book using the scientific method of a random number generator. And the first book the computer picked was this one.

I'm enjoying it. At least I think I am. It's the most difficult book I've ever read and I'm not entirely sure why. Is it because my knowledge of India's history is negligible? Is my head just not in the right place? I haven't read any of Salman Rushdie's books until now, and I'm wondering whether I should have picked The Satanic Verses instead?

If anyone has read it I'd love to hear. I'm determined to finish it, no matter what.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


"The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink

I was hooked from the beginning of this book. I wanted to find out what happened to Michael and Hanna. Did they stay together? Or was it a doomed romance? It was a short romance for Michael. One day Hanna just disappeared. He kept thinking of her even into college. Then one day while in court as a law student he sees Hanna. She is on trial for murder during the war. But as Michael sits through the court trial he discovers something about Hanna. Should he tell the judge? He is torn by what he knows. He goes to discuss it with his father. But that doesn't help. Does he tell anyone? What happens to Hanna? You'll have to read the book to find out.

You can see my full review at Just Books.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I added Slaughterhouse Five to my Fill In The Gaps list because I felt it was one of those books I should have read. I'm glad I read it but I wasn't crazy about it.
The one aspect of Slaughterhouse Five I did enjoy was the time travel. Billy gets unstuck from time and travels through different parts of his life. I felt it was a unique way to experience the characters. I enjoyed the non-linear path the book took. I found it easy to read and amusing at times. Overall a good read but I didn't find it earth-shattering.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Maytrees by Annie Dillard

The MaytreesThe Maytrees by Annie Dillard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I became an Annie Dillard fan after reading PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK several years ago. I figure Annie Dillard must be a wonderful writer if she can make me interested in the eating patterns of dragonfly larvae. THE MAYTREES is one of her fictional works. The only other piece of fiction I've read by Ms. Dillard is her historical novel THE LIVING.

THE MAYTREES is centered around its characters and, perhaps almost equally, its setting. The words are beautiful. I'm not smart enough to make sense of them all, but sometimes when reading literary fiction I find I have to step back, ignore the meaning of the words and let them impress me with feelings instead. That's the only way to keep my head above water. But overall, I came away knowing these characters--Maytree, Lou, Deary, and even Reevadare--very well. I won't soon forget them. They almost feel like old--though slightly insane, perhaps--friends. Maytree, especially, was such a well-rounded character. He makes horrible mistakes, but you forgive him just as Lou does. You don't have a choice. You must like the man.

Good book. I'd recommend it if you enjoy literary fiction. If you need tightly-paced plotting to finish a book, however, don't pick it up.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I choose to read I, Robot because it's a science fiction classic and I'd seen the Will Smith movie. The movie and the book have nothing in common but the name. There's a brief similarity to one story in the book and some of the names are the same.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I tend to shy away from heavy science fiction. Sometimes it's too abstract for me. I, Robot isn't too abstract or too heavy. Instead it focuses on the human elements of the story. How people interacted with robots, how the robots themselves displayed their own humanity.
The premise of the book is a reporter doing a story on Susan Calvin, a roboosychologist, as she approaches retirement. Susan remembers a world without robots and she's been working with robots since the beginning.  It's through these stories about different robot types that show robots developing a consciousness time and time again. Some of the stories were funny and some were sad.
Overall I enjoyed I, Robot and would read more of Asimov's books.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review: Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

I finished Anna Karenina yesterday.

I'm glad I read it (so I can say that I have) and I'm glad it's over. I think Russian authors desire to make their readers suffer as much as the characters in their books. :)

The fact is, it's an interesting story (mostly about Anna's infidelity - although there are many other social issues hinted at) but there's just too much of it for me. Tolstoy (in my opinion) tends to belabor the point of many things, and I wish he would have done this a little less.

Anna Karenina is really two stories in one, Anna's story and her brother Levin's story... Tolstoy could have written two (or maybe even three) novels instead of shoving all the stories of these relations (and others) into one. Although, each of their stories is tied into the theme of each of them searching for happiness in life. I'm not quite certain that anyone finds it, according to Tolstoy.

** Spoiler **
I did feel cheated by Anna's suicide at the end of Book 7. I couldn't help wondering why Tolstoy continued writing after his main character offed herself. And I was disappointed that I had to plod through Book 8 to get to the end. Levin's religious soul-searching in B8 (and his own thoughts of suicide) seemed off-theme to me, and I just wanted it to be over.

I couldn't help but feel that Anna's eventual suicide was her own fault, due in part to her decision not to accept a divorce from her husband. When her feelings changed and she desired the divorce, he refused to give it. That, with her increasing insecurities about Vronksy's feelings for her seemed to put her into a downward spiral that she couldn't escape from.

I was quite annoyed with her dithering,"He loves me, he doesn't love me; he's going to leave me, he's going to stay," litanies. Tolstoy spent a lot of time inside Anna's mind with these back-and-forth thoughts. In many ways, she seemed to be going mad before she finally did herself in. The fact that her reason for doing so was to hurt Vronksy's feelings, rather than to release herself from the pain of the relationship, struck me as rather childish.

** Spoiler Over

Do I recommend it? Hard to say. My answer would depend on what your reasons are for reading it. Is it an enjoyable read? I don't believe it is. Nor is it easy. But it's interesting to read about Russian society at the time. From that perspective, or if you feel like you need to experience a bit of Russian Literature, I say, read on.

~ Kelly

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


"Back Roads" by Tawni O' Dell
Product Description(
Meet Harley Altmyer. His mother's in prison for his father's murder. At nineteen, he's raising his three younger sisters-and he's just developed an obsessive crush on the sexy, melancholic mother of two, living just down the road...
Paperback: 343 pages
Publisher: Unknown (May 31, 2004)
ISBN-10: 1615540849
ISBN-13: 978-1615540846

MY THOUGHTS: I really liked reading this book. But it ended totally different than what I was expecting. Actually the ending was a shocker. But I can't tell about that, it would ruin the surprise. You can read my full review at my book blog, Just Books.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Michelle H's 100 List

My family just started a book review blog last week and I found this site while looking at another book review blog this week. I decided to go ahead and join the challenge. Since these are supposed to be books that I feel I should read, but haven't gotten around to it yet, I took a lot of my list off AP English reading lists because I feel a lot of those books are important. I like the classics, but just haven't gotten around to many of them. Anyway, our blog is Bookworm Family if anyone wants to check it out.

Here's my list - in alphabetical order by the author's last name. (Goal Date: 07/01/2016)



Albee, Edward

The Zoo Story


To America: Personal Reflections of a Historian

Atwood, Margaret

The Handmaid's Tale

Austen, Jane


Baldwin, James

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Ball, Edward

Slaves in the Family

Barrie, J. M.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

Baum, L. Frank

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Beckett, Samuel

Waiting for Godot

Berg, Scott


Blume, Judy

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Bonham, Frank

Durango Street

Bronte, Charlotte

Jane Eyre

Bronte, Emily

Wuthering Heights

Brown, Dee Alexander

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Capote, Truman

Breakfast at Tiffany's


The Canterbury Tales

Chopin, Kate

The Awakening

Clark, Ronald

Einstein: The Life and Times

Conrad, Joseph

Heart of Darkness

Crane, Stephen

The Red Badge of Courage



de Cervantes, Miguel

Don Quixote

Defoe, Daniel

Robinson Crusoe

Dinesen, Isaak

Out of Africa

Donald, David Herbert


Dostoevsky, Fyodor

Crime and Punishment

Edwards, Kim

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Faulkner, William

Light in August

Fielding, Henry

Tom Jones

Filipovic, Zlata

Zlata's Diary

Flaubert, Gustave

Madame Bovary

Forster, E. M.

A Passage to India

Franklin, Ben

The Autobiography of Ben Franklin

Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah

Hitler's Willing Executioners

Gordeeva, Ekaterina

My Sergei

Graham, Katherine

A Personal History

Greene, Graham

The Heart of the Matter

Guterson, David

Snow Falling on Cedars

Hardy, Thomas

Far from the Madding Crowd

Hardy, Thomas

Return of the Native

Hardy, Thomas

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Heller, Joseph

Catch 22

Hemingway, Ernest

A Farewell to Arms

Hersey, John


Hosseini, Khaled

The Kite Runner

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki

Farewell to Manzanar

Hughes, Langston

The Best of Simple

Hurston, Zora Neale

Dust Tracks on a Road

Huxley, Aldous

Brave New World

Jones, Edward P.

The Known World

Joyce, James

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Kafka, Franz

The Trial

Keller, Helen

The Story of My Life

Keneally, Thomas

Schindler's List

Kennedy, Caroline

Profiles in Courage for Our Time

Kinder, Garry

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea

Kingston, Maxine Hong

Woman Warrior

Kogawa, Joy


Kotlowitz, Alex

There Are No Children Here

Lessing, Doris

the Golden Notebook

Lewis, C. S.

The Chronicles of Narnia

Lowenstein, Roger

When Genius Failed

Maclean, Norman

A River Runs Through It

McCullers, Carson

The Member of the Wedding

Melville, Herman

Billy Budd

Milton, John

Paradise Lost

Mitchell, Margaret

Gone With the Wind

Morrison, Toni

Song of Solomon

Naylor, Gloria

The Women of Brewster Place

Nichols, Linda


Oher, Michael

I Beat the Odds

Orwell, George


Perry, Marta

Leah's Choice

Perry, Marta

Rachel's Garden

Perry, Marta

Anna's Return

Perry, Marta

Sarah's Gift

Powers, Ron

Flags of our Fathers

Reed, John

Ten Days That Shook the World

Rose, Reginald

Twelve Angry Men

Shirer, William

the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Simpson, Joe

Touching the Void

Sinclair, Upton

The Jungle

Sobel, Dava


Solomon, Maynard


Sparks, Nicholas

Three Weeks with My Brother

Steinbeck, John

Of Mice and Men

Stoppard, Tom

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Stowe, Harriet Beecher

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Swift, Jonathan

Gulliver's Travels

Tolkien, J. R. R.

The Hobbit

Tolkien, J. R. R.

The Lord of the Rings

Tolstoy, Leo

Anna Karenina

Walker, Alice

The Color Purple

Warren, Robert Penn

All the King's Men

Wells, H. G.

The Time Machine

Wharton, Edith

The Agee of Innocence

White, T. H.

The Once and Future King

Wolf, Virginia

Mrs. Dalloway