The Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday everyone!  I feel like I have been out of the loop for weeks, possibly months.  In reality, it has just been since Wednesday.  I am happy to say I am now a married woman, as well as a stepmom.  I was married this past Thursday in New Orleans and am now sitting in the NO airport as we wait for our delayed flight to get here and board.

For anyone who has never been to New Orleans, I urge you to go–it’s a must!  This was my husband’s (wow–how weird is that that he is my husband!) first trip there, as well as the first trip for most of our friends who came.  It is a city unlike any other.  First of all, you can carry alcohol on the streets.  I suppose that could be a recipe for disaster but I swear, it’s a non stop party and we are only now just starting to recover.

Suffice it to say, I did NOT get much reading done.  I finished Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, on the flight to NO and then I began The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson.  But then we got to NO and I did not read any of my book for the rest of Wednesday . . . Thursday . . . Friday . . . or Saturday!  Yes, you read that right–I did not read a single word while on vacation.  I don’t think I have gone that long without reading in years and years.  It was strange but I actually didn’t miss is.  There was just too much other stuff going on.  Now I am trying to get back into the swing of things, so I am sure my reading will pick back up.  Watch for my Classics Circuit post this coming Tuesday–my very first book by Christie!

And now, I leave you all to have a wonderful, hopefully lazy, Sunday.  We’ll be flying for the rest of the day, but nevertheless I hope to be reading a lot today.  And here’s a wedding picture!

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Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

Crown

384 pages

I’m not averse to non-fiction if it’s readable, but I admit I was skeptical about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks straight off the bat.  How can a book about science–specifically cells–be readable?  So I didn’t give the book a lot of consideration.  But then I saw The Immortal Life all over the blogosphere and I figured I’d better give it a chance.  Fast forward a few weeks later when I finally got a copy from my library (I was about #170 on the holds list).  The check out time for the book was only two weeks, so I figured I’d better get cracking.  Once I picked it up, I barely put it down. 

Henrietta Lacks was a poor lack woman who discovered she had cervical cancer when she was a young mother in her thirties.  Despite the radiation she went through, the cancer soon spread, killing Henrietta within a year and leaving her five children motherless.

That would have been the end of the story had a doctor not taken Henrietta’s cells and discovered that the cells continued growing and mutating furiously.  Since that time, Henrietta’s cells have been used for countless medical testing and experiments that have made serious advances in the world of medicine.  Unfortunately, her family had no idea that Henrietta’s cells were everywhere–their reactions were mixed when they discovered what was going on.  On the one hand, their mother was saving lives every day.  At the same time, they didn’t know exactly what was being done with her cells.  They felt that there mother may have been exploited by scientists while she was not being given proper recognition for the woman she was.  She had lost her human characteristics and was seen only as HeLa–the cells that were taken from her.  Not to mention the fact that the Lackses had no medical care and could not even afford the procedures that their mother’s cells had helped create.  None of the money made off of the HeLa cells were given to the Lackses.

Despite the subject matter of the book, The Immortal Life was surprisingly readable.  I read it in 3 days and even took it on car rides in the event that I may have a spare minute to read.  For those of you that are skeptical, I urge you to throw your caution to the wind and give this book a shot!

Other Reviews:

BermudaOnion’s Weblog

Linus’s Blanket

Sophisticated Dorkiness

Fizzy Thoughts

Medieval Bookworm

I borrowed this book from my local library.

The Sunday Salon

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.  I am excited for brunch in a little bit with my own mom–yum.  Later on this week I’ll be traveling to New Orleans and getting married.  And then I will be . . . Mrs Borders!  How fitting is that–my new name will be that of the bookstore.  I plan on posting at least one review while I am gone.  Hopefully two if I finish my current book.

This week I read two books: Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.  For those who haven’t read the latter, do it!!  All the rave reviews are true–this is a great book.  I am now reading The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker.  After that, I will be reading Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, followed by The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson. 

I checked four books out from the library yesterday.

Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown (for the GLBT challenge)

Blue Angel, by Francine Prose

Bad Things Happen, by Harry Dolan

Charity Girl, by Michael Lowenthal

I hope everyone has a great day.  I have to go to brunch now but afterwards I will be back to check out everyone else’s Sunday Salon!

Book Review: Fun Home

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Alison Bechdel

Mariner Books

232 pages

Discovering your sexuality with the family funeral home as a backdrop?  Count me in!

Alison Bechdel grew up in the 1960s and ’70s with an eccentric father who was, unbeknownst to Bechdel at the time, gay.  He was a high school English teacher who moonlighted as a funeral director.  They lived in a home that Bechdel’s father painstakingly restored.  Bechdel was a bonafide tomboy who refused her father’s attempts to turn her into a girly girl.  Her parents were constantly fighting and her father was in and out of trouble with the law because of his behavior with teenage boys.

Meanwhile, Bechdel slowly begins to realize her sexuality as a lesbian.  Her awknowledgement of her sexual preference plays a big role in the book because she is grappling with her own sexuality as well as her father.  Not long after she tells her parent’s of her sexuality, her father is hit by a truck and killed under somewhat suspicious circumstances. 

Prospective readers, beware.  This book is extremely graphic when it comes to sexual content.  Bechdel goes so far as to depict herself involved in sexual acts.  I didn’t have an issue with that, although I was embarassed for Bechdel when thinking of her family seeing those pictures, cartoon or not! I guess when you look at it, it just shows that she is willing to expose any part of herself in order to produce a memoir that is brutally honest.

This was only my second graphic novel.  They’re a nice break when you want an easier read.  Even though the topics can be just as serious as a written book, they are still much easier to read.

I read this book as part of the GLBT challenge, hosted by the wonderful Amanda over at The Zen Leaf.

Other Reviews:

Book Addiction

Farm Lane Books Blog

things mean a lot

The Zen Leaf

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke

Patti Friedmann

Counterpoint

240 pages

A Confederacy of Dunces meets The Corrections in Friedmann’s (Eleanor Rushing) warm and wacky tale of family dysfunction and redemption, set mostly in New Orleans .

I saw this blurb on Amazon and that was it for me.  I was looking for books set in New Orleans but the comparison to Confederacy of Dunces put me over the edge!  For anyone who doesn’t know, which is probably all most of you, CoD is one of my all time favorite books.  Actually, it is in the top two (along with Gone with the Wind), so any book comparable to it is worth a chance in my eyes.

Jerusha “Ru” Bailey is an older woman with two grown children, son Wilson and daughter Zib.  Her two children stay away from home for years until the death of their father, at which point they return home.  They are convinced that their loud and irritating mother is to blame, at least in part, for their father’s death.  He has been living in a cloud of smoke for decades, as Ru is constantly smoking.  Hence the title.  Zib and Wilson are struggling to come to terms with EVERYTHING.  Their relationship as siblings, their own lives, their pasts.  Meanwhile, Ru is on an adventure of her own, which includes finding her husband’s ashes in a McDonald’s parking lot (at which time she proceeds to transfer the remains to a paper McDonald’s bag) and culminated in her sleeping in the bushes by the library with her dog.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say Secondhand Smoke lived up to my expectations.  I can see why it was compared to CoD, both because of the setting as well the character of Ru.  Had the book been solely from her viewpoint, I am sure it would have been a better fit for me.  As it stands though, the book was like a drama and comedy merged and it didn’t work for me for that reason.  Wilson and Zib were so serious and their viewpoints took away the comical aspect of the book.  But then you have Ru’s chapters that are laugh out loud funny at some points.  Perhaps if Friedmann had stuck to one extreme or the other, it would have fared better for me.

Other Reviews:

None

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Sunday Salon

Ahhhh–another Sunday!  Unfortunately, this Sunday will not involve me laying around reading and being a lazy bones (is it just me or does it seem like I never get that luxury anymore?!).  Hopefully I will get at least a little bit of reading done though!  I feel like my reading has been declining a bit recently and I hope to remedy it soon.  I read two books this week, which isn’t terible.  Yellow Jack, by Josh Russell and Secondhand Smoke, by Patty Friedmann.  Both are set in New Orleans, which is where I am getting married this month.  I hope to read one, maybe two other books set in NO before my wedding, so we’ll see!

I was able to go to the library yesterday and pick up a bunch of holds that I had.  I’ve been checking less and less books out recently trying to get through the ones I already have out, not to mention all the books I have at home, so it’s been awhile since I came back from the library with a full load.  I have been meaning to get into graphic novels in the past few months but I have only read French Milk so far, so I went ahead and checked out a boatload of graphic novels.  Please share your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books!

The Likeness, Tana French

Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine

Wildly Romantic: The English Romantic Poets: The Mad, the Bad and the Dangerous, Catherine Andronik

Columbine, David Cullen

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

As you can see, I also got a lot of novels and books that aren’t graphic.  I got The Likeness and Case Histories because I have been yearning for a good mystery since reading The Girl That Played with Fire.  The crappy part is that I want to read all my new acquisitions NOW!!

As for everyone else, I hope you enjoy your Sunday 🙂