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August booklist

Short remarks this month; if you saw my to do list for this weekend, you'd know why.

1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson

Okay, the ending is not what I wish it was, but I comfort myself with the fact that if Larsson had lived to complete the seven more books he'd planned, surely you-know-who and you-know-who would have ended up together. Right?

2. The Phone Book: the curious history of the book that everyone uses but nobody reads, Ammon Shea

A social history of phone books. Plenty of info, presented concisely.

3. The Moonspinners, Mary Stewart

Oh, I liked this. I liked the Greek setting, I liked the heroine, I liked how I could feel myself there with her wandering through the hills.

4. Trees Make the Best Mobiles, Jessica Teich and Brandel Franco de Bravo

Apparently this is based on the REI parenting philosophy, but the general gist is that: raising a child doesn't have to be so complicated, stressful, or involve so much stuff. So that's nice. There were some bits that I thought useful and thought-provoking, some I thought idealistic and a bit naive, but I didn't find it preachy, as many other reviewers have.

5. The Glass Lake, Maeve Binchy

Oh, Ms. Binchy, why did it take you DYING for me to realize how wonderful you are? I admit, I judged your books by their covers and thought they'd be boring. How delightful, then, to find that these characters simply leapt off the page and into my heart.

That doesn't mean that I liked them all.

[Spoiler ]
First, Louis is such a jerk. Of all men to leave your husband and children for! And I found it hard to have much sympathy for Helen, considering that she LEFT HER CHILDREN FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER. And then there's Clio, who is the most rotten example of a 'best friend' ever.

6. Edenbrooke, Julianne Donaldson

Regency romance; perfectly adequate if that's what you're in the mood for. I wasn't particularly, so some of the overblown, dramatic, and repetitious language rather got on my nerves. Also, the heroine is rather dim, especially when it comes to her own feelings.

7. The Making of a Chef, Michael Ruhlman

A journalist goes through the Culinary Institute of America and writes a book about the experience. Yes, it sounds a lot like Beaten, Seared and Sauced, though this is the better of the two. The discussion of the whys and hows of cooking was excellent, and simultaneously made me all the more firm in my conviction that I never want to cook professionally while fueling the desire to go out to the kitchen and make stock or roast a duck, be it the middle of the night or no.

8. Cinder, Marissa Meyer

A futuristic scifi Cinderella, and I was SO impressed. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing; the setting was delightfully subtle and the fairytale reinterpreted into something recognizable but quite different. My only quarrel with this book is that I think it could easily have been a stand-alone novel rather than the start of a series, and I would have appreciated more resolution at the end.

9. Richer by India, Myra Scovel

Simply written, but with a great deal of good humor and faith; this tells the story of the Scovel's time as missionaries in India during the 1950s.

10. White Bread, Aaron Bobrow-Strain

A social history of white bread. A little labored and plodding; interesting, but not a shining example of what a micro-history ought to be.

11. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

A rerererere-read, or something like that. Each time I appreciate Austen's skill and wit more fully. I followed this up by watching both the 1995 and 2005 movie versions. (1995 has the best Darcy and Lizzie, 2005 has the best Jane and dresses. :))

Audiobooks: 3
Ebooks: 2
From The Stack: 5



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 3rd, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Let's talk about The Glass Lake!

I agree about Louis and Helen/Lena. I don't remember Clio now, but I believe you. :D

Okay, so wasn't the scene where the daughter (totally forgot her name now) finds her mom so emotional? I actually can't even remember many of the specifics, but I just felt all of the pain/heartbreak of the daughter as she confronted her mom. I feel like reading it again now that it's on my mind.

And maybe this is weird, but for awhile I really had hoped Helen would come to her senses and go back to her husband. At first, when he found that other woman, I was sad, but then I saw that it kind of worked out better for him considering Helen's behaviors.

And then the end! Sheesh. That was NOT how I imagined it ending, and I was a little grouchy about it, but looking back I guess it kind of all works somehow.
Sep. 3rd, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Spoilers
One thing I liked about the way Binchy wrote Clio and Kit's friendship is that they DIDN'T turn out to be good friends at the end. So often it seems like books show really dysfunctional/unhealthy friendships but the two people always reconcile by the end and stay friends. Kit was better off without Clio, and I'm glad Binchy didn't make a traditional happy ending to that relationship.

(It's like that pin I keep seeing around [http://pinterest.com/pin/123637952239847482/] where friends are nice to you, but 'true' friends apparently treat you disrespectfully.)

I did like the women Helen's husband ended up with. (Gosh, I can barely remember any of the character's names anymore.)

And I really liked the unconventional nun. :)
Sep. 3rd, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
Have you seen the 1960's film of "The Moonspinners"? One of my childhood favorites! Not sure that it would be as enjoyable if you've read the book first, but very cute, on it's own. :)
Sep. 3rd, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
No! I had no idea that existed.
Sep. 4th, 2012 02:53 am (UTC)
if Larsson had lived to complete the seven more books he'd planned, surely you-know-who and you-know-who would have ended up together. Right?
Of course, right!

I completely agree with you on The Glass Lake. That's actually a major reason why it's not among my favourite Maeve Binchy books, because I just got so frustrated with the characters! Evening Classes, Scarlet Feather and Quentins are MUCH better :-D
Sep. 4th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
I sort of forgot to say in my review, but I really liked the way Binchy writes. So even though I didn't particularly like some of her characters, they were so realistically painted (and she got me so interested in their stories) that it wasn't even an option not to like the book!

I'll read more of hers, for sure. Probably not for a little while, just for lack of time, but I did finish a volume of her short stories last night. :)
Sep. 4th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
my middle name came from a Maeve Binchy story. :) My mom might remember which one... I don't, unfortunately.

and I feel the same way every time I read P&P again. It never gets old.
Sep. 5th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
Oh! I will watch for it as I read my way through the Binchy books. :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )