Saturday, February 26, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I was anxious to read Water for Elephants before the movie came out. I knew once the movie came out I would picture the actors as the characters so I wanted to make up my own mind about them first.
I loved this book. The imaginary was beautiful that I could smell the popcorn on the midway and hear the horse hooves on the dirt. The world Gruen paints both inside the circus world and later with 90-something Jacob in a nursing home is so magical. Jacob is a delightful character. I could really connect with him.
Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob who joined the circus in his 20's.  Jacob is adrift and finds distraction, a family and love in the circus.  Now I know why people wanted to run away and join the circus. I greatly enjoyed the ride.


The Christmas Train - David Baldacci

MY THOUGHTS: This book has been on my TBR list for ages. I'm glad I finally read it. Wonderful book filled with mystery, love, romance, and lots of stories being told by everyone on the train. There is a thief on board who isn't who everyone thinks he is. A masquerading police officer, I didn't see this one coming. And a really big surprise ending that I totally didn't see coming. If you haven't read this book, you really need to. It's written beautifully and will keep you glued to the chair so you can finish it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

East of Eden readalong p 161-240

As you may have guessed from the fact that I'm posting this a day late (whoops), I fell a little behind on my pages this week. But I'm all caught up now!

How's everyone else doing? Thoughts/feelings/progress?

I find this book very easy and steady to read, and engrossing. I'm definitely enjoying it, although I'm not sure I love it. In many cases I find myself reading the characters as more symbolism than real people. What do you guys think? How allegorical is the book for you, and how much is it a story? Just curious.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Goodreads Description:
The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.

My Take:
I read somewhere that if you are not into Sci-Fi, you'd probably like this book anyway.  It is sort of Sci-Fi, but not really either. It is more of a techy distopian novel with issues that kids can relate and handle.  This was my first book by DuPrau and I was pleased with it. 
Spoiler Alert: I was surprised with all the religious tones: from the "Builders", to the "coming into the light", and questions about where life comes from. I was thinking it might be a good book to discuss with my children (when they are old enough). And you know that I'm going to be all over that (note to self: buy this book).
During the whole book I felt the need to appreciate the sunshine more. To not take that and fresh vegetables and fruit for granted. The need to be more "green" overwhelmed me. That's not a bad thing at all, eh?
Overall, I liked the book. I wasn't so hooked that I'm longing to read the next one in the series, though. But, a good solid YA book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eternal by Cynthia L Smith

I added Eternal to my Fill In The Gaps after getting it from the library a few times but failing to read it before it had to be back. I didn't want to forget to read it. I also had to keep taking it back because this is the second in the Tantalize series. I finally read the first book, Tantalize (see my thoughts here) so i could read Eternal.
I wasn't crazy about Tantalize but I enjoyed Eternal more. I was also disappointed that I probably could have read Eternal without reading Tantalize. It says the action takes part in the same world but there's no story or character overlap. I heard there is in the third book, Blessed.
Eternal is the story of Miranda and Zachary, her guardian angel. Ok, I love Zachary. Who wouldn't love a hunky angel following them around. But Zachary is funny, sweet and really cares about Miranda. He's everything you want in YA male lead. Miranda starts off kind of weak but grows as the book goes on. I enjoyed the themes of this one more too. Good vs evil. Heaven vs hell. Reminded me of a Supernatural episode (love that show!).
Eternal is certainly not a meaty book but it is a light fun read. I enjoyed the banter. There was plenty of humor in this one. As well as romance. Great second book in the series, left me wanting more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

From Goodreads:
Charlotte Bronte's impassioned novel is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her arrogant, brooding Mr. Rochester. Published in 1847, under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine--one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved. Hailed by William Makepeace Thackeray as "the masterwork of great genius," Jane Eyre is still regarded, over a century later, as one of the finest novels in English literature.

My Take:
I had no idea that I'd like this book as much as I did. I put it on my list to read because I wanted to read more classics.  Having just been in the UK this summer, I was reminded of the countryside there, which led to memories of all the adventures we had as a family. Love it when a book brings back good memories.
What I liked was the character Jane, her desire to be moral and true.  She was put into some pretty harsh environments and situations and pretty much always did the "right" thing. I'm not sure that I would've done the right thing in a few of those situations, especially at that age.   Bronte was brilliant at developing character. They are timeless characters that anyone can relate to.    Gotta love that!

East of Eden read-along: p 81-160

Hi everybody! Did you manage the second week's reading?

Thoughts/opinions/reflections/progress reports?

I admit I carried on reading to the end of the chapter, because I was pretty caught up in Samuel's conversation with Lee. Didn't want to interrupt Steinbeck while he was grinding an axe or anything.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

East of Eden read-along: p 1-80

Hi everybody! How was your weekly reading? Please leave notes / comments / progress / questions / observations / thoughts / feelings.

I, for one, made it through the pages and finished the end of the chapter, which is awesome, because it means I'm ahead for next week. Woohoo!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome to the EAST OF EDEN readalong!

(I'm posting a day late ... sorry about that. Yesterday was busy at work.)

This week we embark on the Gaps reading of EAST OF EDEN, a classic of our time, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, an Oprah pick (what could be more telling!), and a book I somehow have avoided all these years. Upon consideration of its physical presence, which I now hold in my non-typing hand, that might be because it's really heavy. However, together we shall storm against this prosaic deterrent and conquer! (Right?)

According to the ever-informative Wikipedia, EAST OF EDEN was first published in 1952, and the first edition contained one typo. (Gosh, I wish any book I've ever worked on somehow made it to press with only one typo. I think standards are a little different these days.) Steinbeck supposedly originally wrote the novel for his two sons, then 6 and 4. I have scrupulously avoided any descriptions of the plot, but I gather there are heavy themes about the relationship between Cain and Abel hearkening back to the Book of Genesis. Can't wait to see how that all unfolds.

Let's convene here again next Tuesday, February 8th, having read (if you're Abel, teehee) the first 80 pages. In the meantime, please leave your Steinbeck notes in the comments--what else have you read? What's your favorite? Why are you reading EoE? Any interesting stories about his life you might have heard?

Looking forward!