The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

This was an amazingly quick read. The story sort of draws you in. When Rose is nine years old, she finds out she can taste the feelings people have while they are making food. She finds this out when she eats something her mother made filled with guilt and romance. Also, her brother disappears occasionally.

I didn’t particularly care for the direction the story took. My co-worker Marie read it and said to me, “I understood everything right up to the last page. Then I didn’t. Read it and tell me what it means.”

Yeah, it’s weird. I give it 3 stars, but it would have been less if the writing wasn’t so good.

A book meme!

Which I stole from Karen Edmisten at http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com/2009/06/book-meme.html

1. What author do you own the most books by? Most likely Jane Austen. Although she only wrote 6 books plus her juvenilia. So I might actually have more books by Anne Rice. But I have more books by and about Jane Austen and even more if you include take-offs of her work.

2. What book do you own the most copies of? Pride and Prejudice. It’s in the three-volume leather-bound compendium, and also in the set of Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen, and I have a Barnes and Noble Classics edition, and the Annotated Pride and Prejudice. Not to mention Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, if that counts.

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions? Not until now.

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Probably several. Mr. Darcy, Edward Cullen, you know, the usual suspects.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life? Not counting numerous reading of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, it’s probably Pride and Prejudice.

6. Favorite book as a ten year old? Jane Eyre.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year? Oh boy. I don’t remember because if it’s awful, I stop reading it. Last August I had to read The Ice Storm. That was awful. Truly.

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? I’m going to go with The Passage.

9. If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be? I don’t believe in that. Unless I’m teaching a class, and they are paying me to tell them what to read, forget it. I make suggestions, then let them take it or leave it.

10. What book would you most like to see made into a movie? The Passage

11. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read? I don’t know. I try not to read anything too difficult. I usually stop. And if it’s emotionally difficult as opposed to intellectually difficult, I’m just as likely to quit.

12. What is your favorite book? Pride and Prejudice

13. What is your favorite play? Meh. I don’t know.

14. Poem? Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

15. Essay? Haven’t read enough to have a favorite.

16. Who is the most overrated writer alive today? James Patterson.

17. What is your desert island book? Pride and Prejudice

18. And . . . what are you reading right now? She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Parents Guide to Gifted Children, and Book Lust to Go by Nancy Pearl.

Oy!

I’m a bit scattered at the moment. I can’t seem to stay focused on a book. I’ve started and put down so many. But I seem to have settled down with:

She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan – About her change from being a man. This has been on my list since I saw her on Oprah in 2004, I think. And since I can’t find an Amazon link, I’m guessing they don’t have it?

And:

Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers because Nancy Pearl’s books are comfort reading for me.

Goodreads shelf

There are currently 89 books on my “To Be Read” shelf on Goodreads. Now, if I try really really hard, I could read them all in a year. Think it’ll happen? Probably not, but it’s a fabulous goal.

My next problem is that some of those books have been on my TBR shelf for so long, the library only has 1 copy left. And in one case, the one copy was checked out and never returned. Whatever shall I do?!

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I finished this new one up last night. I never read her other series because by the time I noticed them, there were 3 and they were big and intimidating. So when I saw she was starting a new series, I put myself on the list at the library.

The story is good. It’s definitely Steampunk. Lots of automatons and vampires and warlocks in Victorian England. Tessa gets off a boat from England and is kidnapped by the Dark Sisters who force her to learn how to change into other people just by holding something they owned. They tell her she has to because they have her brother. Then the good guys show up. The people from the Institute.

All the characters are pretty stock, but that doesn’t really detract from the plot. It’s still pretty twisty. I imagine some will figure out the surprise, but I didn’t.

It is YA fiction, so it’s not fabulous literature, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time. Not that YA can’t be fabulous, it just usually isn’t.

I’d give it 3.5 stars. And I might read the next one.

This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia

This Must Be the Place: A Novel is freaking fantastic. 16 years after Amy Henderson runs away to Los Angeles, she dies in an electrical accident at work. Her husband realizes he doesn’t know anything about her past, so he goes digging through their apartment looking for clues. He finds a postcard she’d written but never sent and trails it back to the Darby-Jones House in Ruby Falls New York.

The Darby-Jones is a sort of apartment house run by Mona Jones and her teenage daughter. There are more characters surrounding these three and some of them get to narrate chapters. The whole story unfolds at perfect pacing. You think you know something, but you don’t know it like you think you do. There are twists.

The storytelling is outstanding. All the voices are clear and distinct and they seem like real people.

This would be a fabulous book club book if you’re looking. So much to discuss. Definitely 5 stars from me.

I haven’t forgotten you.

So I’m almost half way through The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin. And let me tell you that is saying something because this book is a hoss. 766 pages to be exact. But it’s really really good. If you don’t like a section, just wait a minute, it’ll change. Seriously. It’s so sweeping and epic, he only spends a little page time on each scenario. Just enough so you get the picture, then on to the next!

I finished Sh*t My Dad Says last night. It’s pretty funny. His dad is a nut.

I have a whole stack of library books waiting for my attention. If I ever finish The Passage.

Summer Brain Balm

So, I have discovered that non-fiction works even better for Summer Brain than fluff!

Aside from Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town I very much enjoyed Orange Is the New Black: One Year in a Women’s Prison It brought back memories of when I worked in a group home for teenage delinquent girls. I recognized all the types she mentioned. Also, the lingo is the same. It was kind of disturbing when the author would lapse into prison lingo. It didn’t really always work.

I have decided I like non-fiction a good fix for Summer Brain because a) I don’t have to get emotionally involved or b) I already know how it will end. For example, in Orange is the New Black, I already knew she would get out of prison alive because she is writing the stinking book. Perfect!

I am currently reading The Millionaire Next Door and enjoying it greatly as it meets both a and b above. Yay!

This caught my eye

Much to my friend Ivy’s disbelief, I am intrigued by small towns. Ivy grew up in a tiny town, and has no interest in returning. I, for one, am always curious about what it would be like to live far away from all the stuff that scatters my attention.

After reading Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town by Karen Valby, I am slightly less entranced by small town life. It seems like a whole bunch of people want to get away from Utopia, Texas, but only a few actually make it out. Most of them get stuck by circumstances or lack of motivation or lack of drive. It was a bit depressing.

Summer Brain Engaged.

So, I’ve decided that since our 100+ degree temps are here, my brain is melting inside my head. I can’t read anything too thoughtful. I need fluff!

So I read The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade. It was really fun. The head cheerleader gets hit by a bus and dies. (Sounds really fun, huh?) But her ghost comes back to finish her unresolved issues. The only person who can see her is Will Killian, a weird Goth kid who wouldn’t normally even register on her radar. She begins a quest to get him to help her move on.

Really fun. I promise.

Time for my monthly post

Apparently, that’s all I can manage.

I must be stressed again, because I’m reading about 4 books right now. Let’s review.

Anna Karenina (Oprah’s Book Club). At the risk of sounding pretentious, I’ll say I’m re-reading Anna Karenina. I was feeling the need for some Russian drama. Yup. Must be stressing out.

At the risk of sounding REALLY pretentious, I’ll say I’m re-reading The Name of the Rose: including the Author’s Postscript. I don’t know what I was feeling like for this one. But I read a chapter of Anna K, and a chapter of this one. Is that twisted?

Apologize, Apologize! is this month’s book club book. I’m only 100 pages in, but so far I love it! This family is so messed up. It’s a wonder it hasn’t imploded.

I know I’ve talked about Goodreads before. If you are not a member, and you like reading, you should definitely check it out. On the other hand, if you feel like your To-Be-Read list is already quite long enough, don’t bother.

Well, I joined a group on GR that is doing a challenge, and there’s nothing I love better than a reading challenge. Actually, I’m part of three challenges, but only one of them pertains to the next book on my list.

See with this challenge, one person (chosen at random) gets to choose a shelf and everyone in the group reads books listed on that shelf. For example, last months picker chose the “chick-lit” shelf. So you could read any book that shows up on that shelf. Now the way books get put on the shelf is when GR members put it there. So, a book that I might not consider “chick-lit” might end up there. Doesn’t matter. If it’s on the shelf you can read it and review it and get credit. The more books you review from the shelf, the more chances you have to be the next shelf-picker. Clear as mud?

Okay, this month’s shelf is History. So I am reading The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. I guess I can see it being shelved as history, but whatever. I’m getting credit!

I am such a nerd.

Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin

Jane Slayre is another winning “rewrite” of a classic novel. It had vampires, zombies, AND werewolves. The thing I love about these books is that I get to relive the first reading of the book. Yes, it’s the same book, but with changes. It’s like reading the book for the first time all over again.

The best part is when I’m reading a “rewrite” of a book I’ve read a bunch of times, I love to see how the author has reworded the most famous lines to reflect the new premise. This one nailed it. I thought I knew what was coming with the “Reader I married him” line. I was wrong and I laughed out loud when I read it.

Definitely a 5* rating from me.

A book meme!

1. How old were you when you learned how to read?
I think I was about 3. I don’t remember it, but I’ve heard stories. I don’t ever remember not being able to read.

2. Were you a big reader growing up?
I don’t think I was, but I didn’t really compare myself that way. I didn’t really pay attention to what the other kids were or weren’t doing. I read books. I did teach both the kids next door how to read because I was annoyed that our games were hampered by their inability to read.

3. Are there any books that left a big impression on you as a kid?
Jane Eyre. My teacher read it to us in 3rd grade, and I loved it for years. Read it over and over.

4. Favourite genres? (Do you read mainly fiction or non-fiction? Do you have a soft spot for horror, sci-fi, or romance?)
I mostly read fiction, but I read about 25% non-fiction. I don’t necessarily have a soft spot for any genre. I don’t care for westerns.

5. Top 5 favourite authors.
For today the list includes Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Christopher Moore, Will Thomas, and Donna Leon

6. Top 5 favourite books.
Pride and Prejudice, Literacy and Longing in L.A., So Many Books So Little Time, Jane Eyre, and Plainsong.

7. Where do you prefer to read?
I prefer to read outside, but usually that means bugs or cold. So I guess I like my living room furniture.

8. Do you like to eat or drink something while you read? If so, what are your foods and beverages of choice?
Since I frequently read at the table while eating breakfast/lunch I am not particular about what I eat. I do like a nice big bowl of popcorn while I read. And a coke.

9. What do you typically wear when you read? (I swear, I don’t mean this in a dirty way. My mind is a pure as the first snow of the year – before it gets contaminated by dog poo and engine exhaust, that is. ) Casual wear? Pyjamas? Jeans? Something more elaborate and stylish?
I like to be comfortable when I read, but I always like to be comfortable, so I’ll only bother to change if I am feeling overly bound.

10. On average, how many books do you read a month?
I think usually around 10 or 12. Well, depending on how big they are and how much drama is happening in my life.

11. How do you get hold of the books? Do you buy them at a bookstore, visit an online store, borrow from a friend or family member, or do you use the library?
I get most of them from the library, but sometimes I’ll get a wild hair and decide I need to OWN books. Then I order online or make a trip to the bookstore.

Your turn!

A book a day.

Yes, that is how many books I’ve been reading for the last 4 days. Needless to say there is much catching up to do on my blog.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky was fascinating. Some people are really twisted.

Question of Belief, A by Donna Leon. I love this series. I don’t even know why. Well, I know it’s because of the way Venice is another character in the book. But I don’t know why that appeals to me so much. I have no desire to go to Venice.

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat tells you right in the prologue that the cat doesn’t die in the course of this book. Practically everyone else does, but it takes place in a nursing home. That’s the point of the book.

Soulless is another vampire romance book, sort of. The gimmick is the main character has no soul, therefore her touch counteracts the states of werewolf and vampire. Interesting concept. It works in this steampunk novel.

The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else You think this is going to be about this guy reading The Harvard Classics. And it is. But it’s also about the crazy and horrible things that happened in his life while he read them. I think this turned out a lot more personal than the author expected going in.

The Spellmans Strike Again: A Novel Another series I can’t get enough of. Isabel Spellman is rebellious and contrary and a P.I. in her family’s firm. The things this family does to each other. Oy! Absolutely hilarious.

This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All This is about how librarians are not going to be unnecessary in the future. Made me want to go to library school.

I lied.

Remember how I said that Rule #1 for books with dogs on the cover is that the dog dies? I think I finally found a book with a dog on the cover that doesn’t follow the rule.

    Dog Joy

(which Amazon apparently doesn’t know about) is full of pictures of happy dogs. Definitely a happy-making type of book.

I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson

I read about this book somewhere. Don’t remember where. But the hook got me. The dog talks. Only to her owner, but she’s really really smart. And funny.

When Paul (the owner) comes in after being gone a few hours, the dog says, “I thought you were dead,” because her memory is so short. Funny stuff.

***SPOILER***
The only problem: I forgot about Rule #1 concerning books with dogs on the cover. The dog ALWAYS dies. Always. Never fails. I hate that. I just bawled and bawled and bawled.

It’s beautifully written. The dog is, of course, the best character in the book. The dad is next. Loved him, too. Fabulous book.

No new books.

I’m about to finish one, I promise. Until then, let me just share what I currently have checked out from the library.

The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook Yum! Let me just say, Macaroni with Ricotta and Walnuts is fabulous! Mike calls it candy. So So Good.

Black Hills: A Novel A Native American man is possessed by the spirit of General Custer after the battle that ended his life. This guy wrote some singularly scary books I haven’t read. This sounded good.

Horns: A Novel Another one by a guy who is known for his particularly creepy work. Also, his father is Stephen King. But, I read the publisher’s blurb and it sounded pretty interesting.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl I really like looking at the pictures in this one, but this poor woman has to cook for an army every day. I don’t know if I want to replicate that. But she does have pictures of every step of the recipe.

I Thought You Were Dead It’s about dogs. It has a dog on the cover. Couldn’t pass it up.

The Mermaid Chair It is this month’s book club book. I still have 9 days.

Middling Folk: Three Seas, Three Centuries, One Scots-Irish Family I have no idea why this caught my fancy, but it did. I brought it home. Hope I get a chance to read it.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery I got this one because the sequel has a pretty purple cover, but I can’t read the sequel first. My OCD dictates that I begin at the beginning.

Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers and My Uncle Arthur, New York’s Greatest Hoarders (An Urban Historical) After I read E.L. Doctorow’s Homer and Langley, I decided to look for a non-fiction account of the Collyer brothers. This is it. I had to get it from Inter-Library Loan, by the way.

So that’s the list of what I currently have weighing down my library book table. I won’t tell you what I have on request in this post. I’ll save that for another day.

Help!

Folks, it’s been over two weeks. I’m sure I finished a book in that time, but it doesn’t feel like it. Major reading slump here. I keep picking up books and starting them, but I don’t get past page 100 when I decide “Meh.” Many wonderful book have been sent back to the library because I just don’t care. I reread an old favorite hoping to inspire something. I enjoyed that book, but I don’t feel interested in anything else.

I have a whole pile of library books with due dates sitting there staring at me. I just can’t get motivated!

How do you cure a reading slump?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go was a book club read. It is a lot like the only other book by Ishiguro I’ve ever read (Remains of the Day) in that not a lot happens. Basically, it’s a coming of age sort of thing with a twist. You sort of know what the twist is, but it doesn’t really have that much effect on these kids growing up. I get the feeling I missed the big climax. Like, I didn’t really understand why it was such a big deal. Maybe I’m jaded. I don’t know. It was pretty writing and the pictures drawn were very clear and precise. I just think I missed something.