The Sunday Salon 10-31-2010

First of all, Happy Halloween everyone! Today is just any other day for me.  On Friday, I dressed up as Sarah Palin for work, but that really didn’t involve anything except putting on a bump-it and wearing my glasses.  Other than that, I haven’t dressed up or gotten a costume.  We didn’t go to any Halloween parties or anything.

As far as my reading goes, this week was a bit better for me.  I finished The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall.  It took me a week and a half to read, which is long, even for a 600 page book.  My book club was supposed to discuss it this month but our meeting was pushed back until November 22, so I don’t know what the reactions to it will be! I also read The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary Pearson.  I needed something quick and easy after finishing The Lonely Polygamist, so I picked this one at random of my shelves.  Definitely a good choice! I have now moved on to Burning Bright, by Tracy Chevalier.  I love Chevalier and this is one of the few books of hers I haven’t yet read.

Now on to my reading wrap up.  This month, I read:

The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters

Assholes Finish First, Tucker Max

If I Stay, Gayle Forman

Bad Marie, Marcy Dermansky

Gray Horses, Hope Larson

Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson

Great Expectations, edited by Dede Crane and Lisa Moore

Dewey’s Nine Lives, Vicki Myron

The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary Pearson

10 books is definitely good for me, although I admit the number would have been much lower if not for the read-a-thon!  I have just been super busy, which is a trend that I fully expect to be carried into November and December.

I also wrapped up a challenge this month–RIP V.

This was my second RIP challenge and, just like last year, I participated with full force in September and then kind of tapered out more than I wanted to in October.  Still, I definitely read more than the requisite four books, so I have nothing to complain about!  I read–

Wait Until Twilight, Sang Pak

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The Dracula Dossier, James Reese

I’d Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

Whew–that was a long TSS post, at least for me! I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday!


Book Review: Bad Marie

Bad Marie

Marcy Dermansky

Harper Perenniel

240 pages

Bad Marie opens with Marie living in her friend Ellen’s chic New York apartment working as a nanny for Ellen’s young daughter Caitlin.  In fact, the opening of the book involves Ellen and her husband Benoit coming home after a night out and discovering Marie passed out drunk in the bathtub with Caitlin. Creepy, right?  Ellen is of the same mind.  She had been kind enough (and dumb enough) to let Marie into her home even though Marie has just been released from prison.  She let’s Marie know that she is no longer welcome in her home.  What happens from that point on is simply unbelievably ridiculous, in a good way.

Without giving too much away (I hope), Marie flees to Europe with Benoit and Caitlin.  She cares deeply for Caitlin and has been intent on seducing Benoit from early on, which proves to be an easy feat.  I won’t get into the escapades that ensue from there, but the situations Marie puts herself in and the decisions she makes stray further and further from what could be considered realistic.  I would say that in most cases, that would irritate me, but in this case I wasn’t bothered by it in the least.  I loved seeing what kind of scraps Marie was going to get herself into next.  It was fun to read about a character that was always flying by the seat of her pants!

Bad Marie is a gritty novel and Marie is a truly interesting character. It was hard to decide where my loyalties lay.  At times I was rooting for Marie, even though her behavior was often reprehensible.  I think part of this was because she really was a caring person at heart.  The love and affection she felt for Caitlin was palpable and seemed much more real that the love of Ellen and Benoit for their own child.

Speaking of Benoit, he was a real douche.  I could see why Marie was attracted to him, but really–his true character became evident pretty quickly.  Any type of paternal instinct that you might expect from a father was seriously lacking, and I quickly tired of him.

I loved the gritty drama that was Bad Marie.

Other Reviews:

Devourer of Books

The Book Lady’s Blog

Linus’s Blanket

Jenn’s Bookshelves

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Gray Horses

Gray Horses

Hope Larson

Oni Press

112 pages

Noemie is an exchange student from France living in the US.  The plotline is pretty simple and uninvolved.  Noemie meets a baker’s daughter, Anna, and attends art school.  She also has some odd dreams involving Anna.

The text, although very simplified, has some French thrown in, which was a fun touch.  However, I know absolutely no French, so I admit to just skimming over it.  For those of you that do know even a bit of French, it is definitely a fun touch.

I didn’t like this book at all.  I read it during the read-a-thon and I was glad to pick up a graphic novel to break up the monotony in the later hours, but I was ready for it to be over as soon as it began.

My biggest problem with this book was that it just did not have a cohesive plot.  I finished it wondering what the point was, as it seemed like everything was just jumping around.  The dream aspect was especially confusing to me and I just didn’t “get it”.

With a lot of graphic novels, the text takes a backseat to the images, and up until now I have been appreciative of that, but the text and plotline were so sparse that even the artwork couldn’t save this book for me.  So yes, I am sorry to say there really wasn’t much about this book I enjoyed.

Other Reviews:

A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy

The Zen Leaf

I borrowed this book from my local library.

The Sunday Salon: 10/24/2010

I can’t believe it is already Sunday again! I haven’t even started my job at Lush yet (I have to go in and fill out my paperwork later on today) but the weeks are flying by anyway.  Maybe it’s the fact that Christmas is fast approaching.  I have been trying to get my Christmas shopping done but I definitely am nowhere near done.  How is everyone else doing on the shopping front?  Have you started yet?  Are you already finished?

My reading month was great at first in regards to how many books I was reading.  That quickly stopped last week, as I was stuck on one book.  This week was the same for me in the sense that I have been reading only one book, which I haven’t even finished yet–The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall.

Thank goodness my book club was canceled Thursday night because I was nowhere close to finishing the book.  It’s quite a chunkster at 600 pages but luckily it is very engrossing and readable.

I hope to get some reading time in today, but it won’t be much.  Anyone have any fun plans?

Book Review: If I Stay

If I Stay

Gayle Forman


272 pages

Mia is your typical teenage girl.  She lives with her mom and dad and younger brother.  She is occupied with school, her boyfriend and her cello, which is her true passion.  And then, it all changes (I swear this is how I start off my review for any YA novel!).

Mia and her family wake up one morning to a snow day.  School is cancelled and they have the whole day ahead of them.  They all decide to pile into the car and go visit friends and family.  Next thing Mia knows, she is waking up on the side of the road.  She finds her parents, gruesomely twisted amidst the wreckage of an accident.  The strange thing is, Mia is not physically a part of herself.  It is as if her soul and her body have split and she lingers in the hospital as her physical self lingers in a coma.  Herein lies the most interesting part of the book . . .

Mia has the choice whether she will live or die.  She realizes this almost straight away but she doesn’t make her decision right off.  Instead, she watches as the love of her family and friends pours out.  Even her family is conflicted–some people urge her to hang on, while others gently tell her that she is free to go.

I loved this book.  I read it for the read-a-thon and it was the perfect choice.  I could not have put it down if I wanted to.  The whole idea of will she stay, will she go? really intrigued me and I found myself taking sides.  I actually was convinced Mia should choose death because I could not imagine how she could get on with her life after the horrific accident that took her family.

I had a few small issues with this book, despite my gushing review.  I really disliked Mia’s parents.  They didn’t seem “real” to me and I thought they seemed like posers.  Like maybe they were trying too hard to be “cool” parents.  They didn’t seem like real parents to me.

Also, Mia was very into playing the cello and classical music in general.  I found that to be really boring and the sections that examined her cello playing and her love for it I found really boring.

This is an example of YA fiction at its very best.  If you haven’t picked it up yet, you definitely should consider it!

Other Reviews:

Presenting Lenore

Maw Books Blog

Bart’s Bookshelf

Books and Movies

S Krishna’s Books

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Dewey’s Nine Lives

Dewey’s Nine Lives
Vicki Myron
Dutton Adult
320 pages
I realized recently that I am a big sucker for books about animals.  Specifically, I can’t resist a good cat story.  So even though I haven’t read Vicki Myron’s original book about Dewey (I hope to soon!), I jumped at the chance to read Dewey’s Nine Lives.
Vicki Myron met and corresponded with a vast number of people as Dewey’s story became more and more well known.  This book is a compilation of cat stories that she was told when communicating with people about their love for Dewey as well as their bond with their own cat.
I loved the idea of this compilation.  It worked well in execution, with the exception of one issue that irritated me.  I felt like Myron tried way to hard to integrate herself and Dewey into every story.  It wasn’t necessary at all and it interrupted the fluidity of the individual stories.
Other than that small issue, I found this book very enjoyable, and it made me want to share my own story.  One of the points Myron made repeatedly was that oftentimes, if you save an animal, they will always know that you are the one responsible for saving them and caring for them, which creates an unbreakable bond.  I find that to be true with all my animals, to some extent, but none more than my little girl Fiona.
Fiona’s Story
I found Fiona on Memorial Day weekend in 2006.  Someone about a block away from my parents summer cottage found a litter of abandoned kittens back behind their house.  My sister and I, ever the cat lovers, raced over there straight away to have a peek.  I am sure it will come as a surprise to no one that I fell in love straight away, and ended up taking two of the kittens home with me.
The kittens were estimated to be about two weeks old.  They were so young

Fiona (on the left) with her two brothers

that I had to bottle feed them and keep them in an enclosed space.  I decided on the named Felix and Fiona.  Felix I had chosen first.  He was the runt–only 2 ounces when I took him to the vet later that week and a little mass of black and white fur.  Fiona was sturdier at a staggering 8 ounces (!) and she has always had the most beautiful coat, with shades of brown and red.

Felix and Fiona were spunky little things and a great joy to watch.  I relished caring for them–having such young kittens was difficult but so rewarding!  Unfortunately, at only four weeks old, Felix suddenly got very ill.  My vet discovered that he had underdeveloped organs, the result of being the runt of the litter, and that he would undoubtedly die.  As anyone who has ever put down a pet knows, it is one of the most difficult things to endure, but I had no choice.  I was absolutely crushed at the loss of Felix.

Fifi as a young kitty, cuddled up in bed!

Meanwhile, Fiona grew and became very independent! She no longer needed me as much and she had no problem letting me know it! For the first year of her life, she was not an affectionate kitty.  I had adopted two more kittens, Milo and Charlie, and while I had done it to keep her company, the antics of her brothers grated on Fiona.  To this day she prefers to be on her own, although she will ciddle up with her brothers from time to time.

As time has gone on, Fiona’s personality has slowly shifted and sh has transformed into a “mama’s girl”.  She is very finicky when it comes to doling out her love, and the only people she will ever show affection for are me and my husband, but me especially.  She sleeps on the pillow behind my head every night, often mewling whenever I shift positions, as a request to scratch behind her ears.  She loves to sit in the bathroom while I am in the shower or bath.  If I am at home, she is often at my side.  And I really do believe that she sees me as her mother.  She was so little when I found her that she quickly made that determination.  In fact, for the first few months of her life, she would try at all costs to latch onto my bottom lip.  She became convinced that was her food source, and try as I might to dodge her, she would be foraging and rooting around for me.
My cats mean the world to me.  My husband never fails to remind me that I am one of those “crazy cat ladies”.  I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Other Reviews:
I received this book from the publisher for review.