July 25, 2015

I’m not really sure if anyone wants to read anything more on Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman but I might as well add my two cents worth.  I decided to read To Kill A Mockingbird first and then Go Set A Watchman because the first reports seemed to indicate that Watchman was a sequel to Mockingbird.  Now, I’m siding with the group that believes that Watchman was a draft of Mockingbird.  I think it was heavily edited – it needed it – and the racial tone was changed to match the times. Both books were hard to read.  Mockingbird because, while I remember it from both my first read in school and then the Gregory Peck movie, at this reading I found it to be racist in a way that I’d been taught it wasn’t.  I haven’t heard anyone else talking about racism in Mockingbird but it is certainly there.  Atticus Finch is a nice man.  He want to do right but he is first and foremost a white segregationist and even as he defends Tom Robinson he never believes in the equality of the races. Scout is completely unbelievable as the narrator – if she were telling the story from a 16-year-old point of view it would almost make sense but as an 8-year-old, I just don’t buy it.  I know this is prize-winning classic but some classics need to be retired and I’m happy to know that our local schools have found other books to use when teaching this period and that Mockingbird is no longer required reading. As for Go Set A Watchman it was hard to read because it was just plain terrible.  The writing needed a very good, very strong editor and I think Lee found one and turned this book into To Kill A Mockingbird.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – It’s a classic and if you haven’t read it you should so that you can draw your own conclusions. **

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee – Don’t bother reading this unless you want to join the discussion around the publishing of this book.

A Long Time Gone by Karen White – A going home to find yourself story. It gets a bit long winded in places and starts a bit slow but the relationships are interesting (even though I got a little tired of Vivian’s whining) and it comes to a satisfying conclusion.  ****

July 18, 2015

Because of a hurricane off Baja we have had a tumultuous day.  At 6:30 AM I woke to thunder and lightening – something we almost never see or hear in Southern California.  And then it poured!  Also something we seldom experience.  It’s very warm and very wet!  Perhaps this will help the drought – I certainly hope so.  Some good needs to come of it since, of course, the deck construction is incomplete and I had a bit of a leak – it’s fixed now – no damage. Last night I finished rereading To Kill A Mocking Bird and today I started Go Set A Watchmen so I’ll include both of those next week. One of my lovely readers requested that I add a note that mentions which book I read each week that is My Favorite so I’ll do that from now on.

The picture I featured on this post was taken by Brook Taylor of Sacramento, CA. – this morning from her room at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel – A graphic memoir. I really enjoyed this first because it’s a good story – Bechdel’s father is both an English teacher and the director of the town’s funeral home (Fun Home) and then because it’s a graphic novel, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a compete one before, it was an interesting format to explore.  I caution you that if you buy it as a Kindle book – it does not open on my Kindle – it does home in the Kindle app on both my laptop and my phone.  On the phone it was much too small to read.  ****

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter – I read only about half of this book.  The write up sounded intriguing but I just couldn’t get into the story.  It’s beautifully written but… maybe during these hot summer days I just need an easier read.  I’ll try this again later.

 MY FAVORITE  The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson – A clever “Sliding Doors” story.  I loved both worlds inhabited  by Kitty/Katharyn.  While it is easy to guess that the two worlds will need to be resolved and it is apparent quite early which is the real world it’s a great read, written by a skillful new writer.  I read it straight through. ****

Hover by Anne A. Wilson – I like that this is the story of a female Naval Academy Graduate who is a suburb Naval Officer.  The action/terrorism part of the story is a clever plot but the characters reacted to one another in too much of a Harlequin romance manner.  This is a debut novel and I’ll bet the next one is stronger. **

As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman – A rather violent hostage situation in the present alternates chapters with the past to explain the actions of the characters. It’s a good plot but I didn’t love it.  The chapters from the past were of more interest then the present.  ***

July 11, 2015

My reading list this week goes from the very silly to the profound and three of the books are 5 star reads!  Overall an excellent reading week.  It was also a week that included two writer’s groups so I feel not only well read but productive!

Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham – a modern love story written in emails and text messages.  It’s cute, it’s fast and it’s just plain fun.  Took about an hour to read the whole book.  ***

The Trouble With The Truth by Edna Robinson – Original, funny and thought provoking.  Set in the 1930’s with an unforgettable family of characters.  You’ll love them all.  The father is eccentric, the kids are smart, and the aunt is a wonder. This is a great example of a book that should have been published long ago but never made it through the snobbery of “big business publishing houses”.  *****

etta and otto and russell and james by Emma Hooper – This is a love story like non other.  A debut novel with great grace and perception. It is sad and wonderful and a lovely commentary on aging.  *****

Lila by Maryanne Robinson – If you’ve read GILEAD and HOME by Robinson, you’ll already be familiar with Reverend Ames loving young wife.  This is her backstory.  It is, as are all of Robinson’s books a literary, perceptive and emotion filled read.  Religious or not this book like the others make you consider the bigger questions of why we are here and why the world works the way it does.  *****

July 4, 2015

I live in town that knows how to celebrate Independence Day! Perhaps  in part because we are a small town, 25,000 residents but more likely because Coronado Island, CA has a long, proud history of supporting the military.  Whatever the reason, it’s our favorite holiday and the town turns out in all it’s glory for the parade, the rough water swim, the concerts, the special performances and the glorious fireworks!  And every year many, many (100,000 or more) people from all over the world join us. This year was no exception – it was a wonderful party from Wednesday the 1st all the way through to the last concert in the park on Sunday the 5th.

I did mange to sneak in some reading between all the fun. No matter how tired, I HAVE to read before sleep — every night.

my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry – Fredrik Backman – translated form Swedish this is a heart warming love story – the love between Grandparents and Grandchildren and how that love affects the world.  told in a wonderful fairy tale, fantasy, hard life facts manner I was captivated from the first page. ****

The Library At Mount Char – Scott Hawkins – Not sure if this is fantasy, science fiction or a cult gone bad – but it’s a great read.  Full of intrigue, twist and turns, a bit of human tenderness.  I really wanted to know more about some of the characters but that’s not a compliant they were just that interesting.  *****

The Children’s Crusade – Ann Packer – This new novel from the talented Packer explores the secrets and desires, the remnant wounds and saving graces of one California family, over the course of five decades. The mother is especially well drawn.  It’s really worth a read if you like books about families and how they survive anything.  *****