Another belated book agglomeration.

Saturday, September 25, 2010 -- 11:15 pm
Mood: 10 Craving chocolate cake (but then, when am I NOT craving cake?)

Latest books struck off the ol' list:

  • Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

    A coming-of-age story of a young girl named Icy Sparks as she grows up in her small Kentucky town in the 1950's, detailing her experiences and isolation over the years as she begins exhibiting uncontrollable twitches, jerks, and spasms. This book originally piqued my interest specifically due to it's exploration of Tourett's -- I know a couple of people who have mild cases of Tourette Syndrome, and it's one of those bizarre disorders that are interesting to read and learn more about. I have to admit though, for an Oprah's Club book pick this one disappointed. It was pretty dull over all, and didn't delve into the Tourette aspect itself in as much detail as I would have liked. Also -- and this is going to sound profoundly stupid and shallow of me -- for some reason I can't get into stories that are set in the Upland South area of the U.S. That whole culture in that area just doesn't appeal to me, and I'll admit it, the whole southern drawl dialect drives me nuts. I'm a horrible person, I can't help it. *Shame cloud*

  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

    In nineteenth-century China, two seven-year-old Hunan girls' lives are forever bound together when they are paired with one another in a "laotong" match. The book chronicles one of the girls, Lily, as she grows from a small child to a young woman and beyond, as both her and her laotong, Snow Flower, share and reflect the joy and pain of growing up -- from the horrible tradition of foot binding to reflecting on each of their arranged marriages and the experience of raising a family.

    This was a pretty good book, albeit a bit slow in some parts, and I'm always a sucker for reading novels set in places like Japan or China. I just find the cultures very interesting and rich to learn about. For example, something new I learned all about in this book: the horrible and agonizing Chinese tradition of foot binding! D:} Oh my god. Some how I've managed to go all this time without ever hearing about the concept of foot binding until now, and a part of me wishes I was still blissfully ignorant. I especially wish that I could wipe the horrifying Google images and YouTube videos I made the mistake of looking up for more details as a result. OMG OW and SWEET JEEZES and THE HELL? Reading historic books like this set before most women in these cultures had anything in the way of equal rights at all always makes me extra appreciative that I live in the generation and country that I do.

  • The Birth House by Ami McKay

    Set in a small, isolated village in Nova Scotia, Canada (go Canada!) amid the first world war, The Birth House follows the story of a young woman named Dora as she befriends and trains under an eccentric midwife; learning the uses of herbs and folk medicines to heal and help the women of Scots Bay. When a new doctor brings his new methods to the fishing village, Dora has to fight to protect the old traditions and wisdom against a community slowly being turned against her. With all the rave reviews I heard about this book, I expected something a little different -- more, in some way? I can't really pinpoint it exactly. It was still an interesting read, it just wasn't what I thought it would be for whatever reason. I also thought the whole last bit of the book where Dora leaves the Bay for a while was pretty dry. *Shrug* It was all right. Warnings of some douchfuckery fraught male characters.

  • Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father by Roy Lewis

    This was a short, quirky little novel I picked up from one of my recent library volunteering sessions, giving voice to a family of ape-men during the Pleistocene era. Told through the eyes of one of the sons, Ernest, he recounts his family's hilarious turmoils and triumphs as his eccentric father goes about determined to give evolution a kick start and establish his fellow cave men as the dominant species. This book was a laugh and a half, and the fact that the author voices this horde of generally un-civilized neanderthals in a very distinctly -- even stereotypically snooty at times -- English accent just makes it that more wonderfully absurd. If you're looking for a quick, humorous read, I'd recommend giving it a go.

  • Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

    Like I've said before, Jodi Picoult's books are often hit or miss, this one being an example of the latter. In Vanishing Acts, the author tackles the subject of a father being arrested for stealing away his daughter almost thirty years ago from his alcoholic ex-wife. The concept, like most of Picoult's story plots, is automatically provoking; she specializes in painting moral dilemmas such as this that even the most black and white reader can't help but contemplate all those tricky gray areas. Those are the parts of her novels that I always love.

    That's kind of where the love ended for me though. I can't really pinpoint it exactly, but something about the pacing and the story telling in this one jarred me. The whole first half of the book seemed rushed to me, from Delia out of the blue suddenly recalling memories from her childhood, to Andrew getting arrested (the actual trial itself near the end of the book was not one of Picoult's better ones either), to the emotions Delia ricochets back and forth between regarding each of her parents and impulsiveness of some of the things she does. I don't know. Obviously who am I to say what goes through the head of a person who just discovered they have a whole second life they've never known about, but Delia just didn't come off very realistic to me. (There were points where she seemed just downright childish and whiny in my opinion.) I couldn't connect emotionally with her and what she was going through, something which I usually slip very easily into with many of her other books. Picoult's stuff usually tugs at my heartstrings, but not this time. *Shrug*

I also went to my first official (well, sort of) book club meeting with some friends this past week. I heard they were discussing Still Alice -- one of my favoritest books! -- so since I'd already read it a while ago I figured I'd tag along. My problem with book clubs is that I don't enjoy being assigned a book that I have to read, especially when it's a book that I don't immediately have any interest in. Reading is a hobby, and having to read a book by a certain time makes it feel like work. It takes all the fun out of it. :P The next book on the list, The Hunger Games, is one already on my to-read list however, so if I can get my hands on a copy sooner than later I may attend the next meet up as well.

In other news, we had our engagement photos taken today! It was a lot of fun, and I'm super excited to see some teasers from it over the next week hopefully~ *Glee!* Copies of some of the pics will be posted when I get them.

Lance says:
September 28th, 2010 -- 9:21 pm

Some people find expanding their horizons to be fun. That's why I started the book club.

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