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