Monday, August 31, 2009

August Reading List

This month's collection is my usual mix of random fiction, with a memoir and a couple of beloved authors thrown in for good measure, and some reading to prep for our trip to New York. Another 7 books toward my Book Challenge Goal (now at 42, on my way to 100!).

Benny & Shrimp - Katarina Mazott (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) This little novel was a fun and unique read. Translated from its original Swedish, it can be a bit challenging at times to sort out what is meant, but it was a touching read. Chronicling the love story of a determined bachelor farmer and a young widowed librarian, it is a commentary on how opposites really do attract. Benny is a no nonsense dairy farmer, trying to eke out a humble living in a world of large corporate farms. Shrimp is a beige librarian, still mourning the death of a husband she married for convenience, not for love. Humourous and heartbreaking, it was not what I was expecting when I first read the back of the book, but I'm glad I read it. There is an interesting twist at the end that is making me wish the follow-up book had been translated too!

Julie & Julia - Julie Powell (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) I read this because I was planning on seeing the movie shortly after finishing it. I still haven't seen the movie, but I'm glad I read the book and am looking forward to her new book coming out in the fall. Since most everyone is fully aware of the concept behind the book I won't go into that. I will say though, she is one heck of a brave lady, cooking some of that stuff. Gelees, aspics, and other things that I think you really have to be French to appreciate. I have always thought that I was a pretty adventurous cook, but I don't anticipate spending time in Ms. Child's cookbooks.

Bride in the Bargain - Deeanne Gist (3.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) This author is one of my favourite fluffy authors who write for the Christian fiction market. Her books don't preach and you learn something about regional history from her stories. While not a literary heavy-weight, her style is enjoyable and eminently readable. This story, about a girl who accepts a place on Asa Mercer's bride ship heading from Boston to Seattle just after the Civil War is surrounded in historical truth. Widowed and orphaned women purchased passage to the Washington territory with the promise that they would marry one of the many single men living in that lonely frontier. Anna, determined never to marry, agrees to go to be a cook for a lumber team. Joe is going to lose his claim on his land unless he finds a wife. Thus begins a comedy of errors, misunderstandings, and ultimately a sweet little romance. It was a quick read, done in an afternoon. Fun and light.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling (6 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) I love this book. This was, surprisingly, only my second time reading it. I read it in a day and a half when it first came out, and then I never went back to it. This time through I caught so many more details and intricate weavings of the plot. I bawled at the death of one of my favourite characters and again as Harry was walking into the Forbidden Forest at the end. I love the interweaving of the Hallows with the Horcruxes, and how ultimately love triumphs over evil. I will say, though, in my mind there is one detail that could have brought the story completely full circle. Imagine, at the end, in the epilogue... when Harry is putting his sons on the Hogwarts Express, he looks up and sees Dudley (looking extremely uncomfortable) walking down the platform with his own child in Hogwarts robes. Can you imagine Uncle Vernon's reaction to discovering that his own grandchild was a witch or wizard? Priceless! Like I said, that's how it ends in my mind.

Galore - David Crummley (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) This is a new author for me, but I'm really glad that I came across his work. Not many people set novels in Newfoundland, and certainly hardly any of those would set it in the distant past, when the isolated island was still being settled. Irish, Welsh, and west country English all collide in this story that starts with the 'birth' of a mute albino from a beached whale. Wrapped up in medieval superstition, the life of this little community is full of characters and odd stories. A defrocked priest on the hunt for a way to exorcise the ghost of the husband of his mistress, a doctor who falls in love with one of his patients as he is pulling all her teeth out, a family curse passing from generation to generation, and an epic love story are all interwoven among tales of sunken fishing boats and feuding clans. Odd, entertaining, and thought-provoking... I am definitely going to read more from this author.

The White Queen - Philippa Gregory (4.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) A new Philippa Gregory book! Need I say more? Ok, I will. I love her books and this one was great. The first in a new series, this book chronicles the life of Elizabeth, wife of Edward of York in the midst of the War of the Roses. I find it interesting how different authors portray historical figures differently. Gregory focusses on Elizabeth's relationships... her relationship with her husband as opposed to her relationship with her mother, and her relationship with her "Grey" sons (from her first marraige) and the sons she has with Edward. Gregory also deals with the mystery of the Princes of the Tower with a bit of a different angle than usual. I loved it, and am now anxious for the next in the series.

New York City Day by Day - Frommers I'm not going to rate this one until after our trip, because I want to see how helpful it really is. BUT... I will say that at this point I'm really excited about some of the options that it gives. Walking tours of different neighbourhoods, attractions that are close together and how long it should ideally take to go through the different museum, etc. It's also given me some ideas for things that I want to do if we have time.


  1. LOVE THE BOOK LIST!! I am an avid reader, when I have time, and so I am always looking for good reads. If you haven't yet read it, I highly recommend "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks. FAB!

  2. I'm not sure but does Frommers tell you about the TKTS stand where you can get two broadway tickets for the price of one? A great thing to check out if its not on your list... here is the link with info we always grab our tickets here, then go to restaurant row for a bite then a show. Hope you have a wonderful time...

  3. I love your review of the Deathly Hallows. It was a great book, and gets better with each subsequent reading (I've only read it twice as well). I love your addition to the ending as well. It really would have been a perfect ending with the addition of Dudley and a magical Dursley. I did miss the Dursleys there at the end.

  4. I read Julie and Julia and still haven't seen the movie as well. I will probably see it when it comes out on video.

  5. I have a feeling I'm going to find some inspiration for some good reads from your list. I just go by the library and look for brainless (mostly) books to keep me entertained. Have loved Philippa Gregory's books in the past though, so I'll have to look for some more.

  6. great list. I just finished reading Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux, not my usual type of reading but a friend loaned it to me. Thought is was a pretty good escape fluff type read.
    Also read The Last Summer (of You and Me)by Ann Brashares, ugh! Yuck!

  7. Your book lists always rock! (And I've been negligent with mine for 2 months now...gasp!)

    I'm reading Harry Potter "Deathly Hollows" now and LOVE your ending. What a superb idea.

    Hobbit, you rock! :)


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