Another Haul . . .

Yes, you read that right.  I bought MORE books.  At this point, I am running out of space for all the books I keep bringing home.  I feel like I have a good excuse though; there was a book sale at the high school in my mom’s town and I have always looked forward to it, so how could I miss it? My mom and I got there this morning at the start of the sale, and it’s a good thing we did because it was already packed with tons of people rummaging through all the books.  Here is what I came away with–

An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Banks

The Angel of Darkness, Caleb Carr

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Poison Tree, Erin Kelly

Maine, J Courtney Sullivan

The Book Theif, Markus Zusak

The Uncoupling, Meg Wolitzer

The Fates Will Find Their Way, Hannah Pittard

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann

The Last Child, John Hart

The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett

The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde

The Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff

Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs

Half Broken Horses, Jeannette Walls

Have you read any of these?  If so, what are your thoughts?

Book Review: Song for Katya

Song for Katya

Kevin Stevens

Pocket Books

344 pages

Katya is a thirty something woman living in communist Russia during the 80s.  Her life, while not necessarily fulfilling, is comfortable.  Her husband is a higher up, and although they are newlyweds, Katya feels that she has secured a good future for herself and her two children.  Her whole worldview changes when she agrees to host thee tour of an American jazz band when they come to Russia while they perform.

One of the men in the band, Drew Fisher, immediately forms a bond with Katya.  He is only in Russia for three weeks, but it doesn’t take long for him to woo Katya, and the two form an unbreakable connection.  Unfortunately, the political climate in Russia at the time is tense, and the KGB is closely monitoring the relationship between Katya and Drew.  Drew is unused to such personal involvement by government agents, and his naivete convinces him that nothing can keep him apart from Katya.  The struggle between following your heart as external forces battle to keep you apart kept me completely engrossed by the end of the novel.

I had never heard of Kevin Stevens until my sister began dating his son, Christian.  My mom was very enthusiastic about the fact that Christian’s father is an author, and she ended up buying quite a few of his books to read while we were on vacation.  Christian was also on vacation with us, thus causing quite an uncomfortable situation had I not liked Song for Katya. Luckily, that concern was never validated, as I truly enjoyed this book, although I admit I was pretty merciless in teasing Christian about the one sex scene that was barely explicit.

On the flip side, Christian had also read the book, and while his recollection was a bit hazy, he was able to fill me in on some of the inspiration behind the book.  Apparently, his father had traveled to Russia a lot in the 80s and witnessed full well the heightened political tension of the time.  Not to mention his father also has a penchant for jazz music, which explained that portion of the story as well.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this book is that attainable in the US.  I am pretty sure my mom had to purchase the book from the UK Amazon site.  It’s a shame, because it’s a book that really resonated with me.

Other Reviews:

None that I could find.

I received a copy of this book from my mother.

Book Review: Bumped

Bumped

Megan McCafferty

Balzer & Bray

336 pages

The year is 2036 and a widespread virus has made anyone over the age of 18 infertile.  Thus, the teenage population has the sole responsibility of reproducing for the rest of the population.  Many teenagers are under contract, with many perks promised once they deliver a child.  Melody is one such teen.  She has a very promising contract but has yet to get pregnant as the couple that contracted her haven’t settled on a male donor yet.

Meanwhile, Melody has just discovered that she has a twin.  Harmony has grown up on a religious compound, so the world she is used to is quite different from the one Melody inhabits.  She is visiting Melody in an attempt to convince her of her errant ways, but in turn, she is influenced by Melody’s environment.

My plot synopsis is paltry at best, but I think Bumped is best experienced when you have little knowledge of what to expect.  One element to be aware of though would be the slang involved in the text.  It was overwhelming to me for the first 30 pages or so, and I was skeptical as to whether I would be able to overcome that.  By the end, I had come to appreciate the vernacular and how it added to the climate of the story.  Just be forewarned though that it can be a little difficult to ingratiate yourself.

I have read other reviews that have an issue with the serious issue of teen pregnancy being somewhat glamorized and not seen with the gravity it demands.  I certainly see the argument of that line of thinking, and I am not sure where I fall on that continuum.  I can see how the novel could be seen as a bit distasteful but it is, after all, a work of fiction and in the end, my enjoyment of the novel wasn’t altered.

Bumped is the first book in a series, which is problematic to someone like me who ultimately enjoyed the book so much that I want to immediately get my hands on a copy of the second book in the series.  Bumped was just published last month so I am guessing we have a long wait. If you have any information on the second book, please let me know! I have tried to find more information, but have come up with nothing!

Other Reviews:

Book Addiction

Presenting Lenore

The Zen Leaf

I purchased this book for my Kindle.

The Sunday Salon: 6/05/2011

Happy Sunday everyone! I know I have been kind of wishy washy with my Sunday Salon posts recently.  Sometimes I feel like writing them and sometimes I just don’t.  Instead of forcing myself to post a Salon, I decided to just skip it on the Sundays that don’t suit me.

This week I read three great books.  The first was Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris.  It took me a little longer than I would have liked to finish it, but the ending really resonated with me and I can certainly understand why it was such a lauded book when it was first published.

I then read Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim.  I read a review for it last month on Care’s book blog and I thought it sounded really interesting.  That it was!  I have been sharing some tidbits with my co-workers and I have already had one ask to borrow it.

Lastly, I read To Full Term, by Darci Klein.  It’s a memoir by a woman that lost four babies before she gave birth to her second living child.  These past few months I have had two miscarriages, so I was looking for something I could connect with and that would also give me hope.  I read this book in one sitting, but I think it inspired more fear than hope. I am kind of thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have read it at all!

I hope everyone has a great week and enjoys the summery weather. I sure plan to!

Book Review: Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me

by Chelsea’s family, friends and other victims and Chelsea Handler

Grand Central Publishing

304 pages

I should probably preface this review by explaining that I love Chelsea Handler.  I have read her other three books and even had the opportunity to meet her at a book signing for Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea.  Somehow it had escaped my notice that she had a fourth book coming out.  I was on my way to work a few weeks ago when I happened to catch Ryan Seacrest interviewing Chelsea as I was flipping through radio stations.  I learned this book was being published that very day, so as soon as my shift was over, I ran to Borders and snagged a copy.

The format of this book is different from that of Handler’s previous books; instead of being written by Chelsea, each chapter is written by a different family member or friend.  As implied  by the title of the book, it is a collection of Chelsea’s antics as recounted by those who know her.

My favorite story had to be the one written by Heather McDonald.

Heather McDonald

Heather is also a comedian and is a regular contributor on Chelsea Lately. Her story is actually mentioned in Chelsea’s previous book Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang but in Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me it is told from Heather’s perspective.  The lie, or prank if you will, begins when Chelsea goes to Heather and informs her that Lifetime has asked her to star in a movie about the Challenger explosion.  She is to play the part of the daughter of one of the dead astronauts, and she informs Heather that the script has not yet been written and Lifetime is actually asking for writers from Chelsea’s show to submit their own test scripts.  The person who gets the job will get a hefty salary, so Heather’s interest is piqued.  Chelsea then goes on to tell her that the movie is called The Sky is Crying and is actually meant to be a comedy.  Yes, you read that right–a comedy about the Challenger explosion.  Justin Timberlake is in talks to play Chelsea’s husband in the movie and one of the main plot points is that Chelsea’s mother continues to talk to her and give her advice from heaven.

Heather decides to go for it, so she has to put everything aside and put together a script to submit to Lifetime.  She finally gets a Sunday to herself in order to write, but she is forced to miss a pool party at the Kardashian home.  She is obviously bummed at missing the party, but she is able to make headway on her script. All is, unfortunately, for naught.  Chelsea gleefully tells Heather that she made the entire thing up, and there is no movie.

Overall, this was typical fare for Chelsea.  If you like her show and/or her other books, you’ll get a kick out of it.

Other Reviews:

None that I found.

I purchased this book from Borders.

Book Review, Wigs on the Green

Wigs on the Green

Nancy Mitford

Vintage

192 pages

I don’t even know where to start with Wigs on the Green! Eugenia Malmain is a teenage heiress living in a small town in England.  She is very politically minded and has started a group that follows the ideals of the Union Jackshirts.  She is in the middle of a very eccentric cast of characters.  You have Jasper Aspect and Noel Foster.

Noel is a young man who has just inherited a lump sum of money from a dead relative, and he took it upon himself to quit his job and elicit Jasper’s aid in helping him find a young heiress to marry.  Jasper had suggested Eugenia, so the two had immediately traveled to the town in which she lives and immediately befriend her, despite her childish mentality.

Then you have Lady Marjorie and her companion Poppy who are both in hiding as Marjorie has stood up her groom, a duke, at the altar.  Poppy and Jasper immediately embark upon a love affair while Marjorie mopes around and constantly applies cold cream to her complexion.

Lastly, you have Noel’s love interest, who is an older, married woman with a very self involved, manipulative attitude.  The characters together equal a hodge podge of hilarity, with each person taking themselves too seriously and not a one of them having the fortitude for self reflection.

My love affair with the Mitford sisters started with Mary Lovell’s biographical book The Sisters.  I read it a few years back and immediately became enamored with the relationships and dichotomy between the sisters.  I have since read a few of Nancy Mitford’s books, as well as one of Jessica Mitford’s, and I have yet to be disappointed.  I was afraid though that I had met my match with Wigs on the Green.

Quick backstory–two of the Mitford sisters, Unity and Diana, met Hitler during WWII and immediately became Nazi sympathizers.  Their political leanings caused a great chasm within the family, which resulted in tragedy when Unity, unable to cope with having to choose between England, her home and Germany, shot herself in the face.  Unbelievably, she lived another nine years before she eventually died, but the Mitford family was never the same.

Adolf Hitler and Unity Mitford

Nancy Mitford wrote Wigs on the Green as a satirical work that poked fun at the political leanings of her sister.  Because of that aspect of the story, I was unsure of whether I would be interested at all in the story and whether I would even be able to follow it.  I needn’t have worried at all.  Mitford’s acerbic wit was evident throughout.  She reminds me of a more modern Jane Austen, especially when it comes to her sly wit and her way at poking fun at the social stigmas of her time.

I certainly plan to read more from both Nancy and Jessica Mitford.

Other Reviews:

Pages Turned

Desperate Reader

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.