Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Lost in Sawyer's Bookshelf

Love this show. Love books. Win, win.

What meaning can be found in the books seen on the hit television series Lost? Take a look at the books Sawyer has been caught reading and more!

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Newbery Award Winner (2010)

This was a lovely book. I look forward to when my kids can read it.

Here is a summary from the jacket cover:
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death.

Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

I highly recommend this book. There's mystery and humor and a mother who's diligently preparing to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark. You just can't beat that. Miranda is quite savvy and interesting and she comes to know herself and those she cares about in a unique way.

For me, every book has a sentence in it that makes me say to myself--see, that's why I want to be a writer. Here's an example of such a sentence.

“So I had to sit there, thirsty, and then I had to put on my warm, but still-dirty coat and take the elevator down to Annemarie’s lobby, where the lamps glowed yellow and the doorman remembered my name. It had stopped raining.” p. 113

As much as I enjoyed this book, I might have loved it even more if I’d read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, the novel which helps Miranda figure everything out. Madeleine L’Engle spoke at my college graduation. I think it’s time I read her books.

I discovered Rebecca Stead has a blog and I have added it to my list of sites to stalk. She mentioned she’d just read Stephen King’s On Writing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is considering being a writer. I will never read a Stephen King novel, but I found him very interesting and quite brilliant.

I look forward to more from Rebecca Stead AND hearing from you!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring means Austen

It’s officially Spring, which means I can officially begin my Jane Austen obsession.

Every Spring I feel a strong desire to read and watch everything Austen. During my last semester of college, my professor told us that his wife read Pride and Prejudice every Spring. What a lovely idea, I thought. So the following year I read P&P for the second time. And that was the end of it. Then a couple of years ago when the new Pride and Prejudice came out I once again became obsessed with Austen’s classics. I decided to renew my springtime literary obligation to immerse myself in reading her love stories.

So far this year I’ve read Sense and Sensibility, watched both versions of Persuasion, saw the new version of Emma (which I adored) and started reading the novel.

After Emma, I’d like to read Northanger Abbey because I saw the movie and it was a little strange. Now I’m curious if the book is just as bizarre.

If you are not a Jane Austen fan and you don’t understand my obsession, then this quote is for you.

“Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” ~ Mark Twain, 1898

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

There are so many things I like about this book. It’s been months since finishing and I’m still thinking about it.

The story takes place in 1946. The main character, Juliet, receives a letter from a man from the island of Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands, which endured German occupation. They become quick friends. I knew nothing of Germany’s occupation of Guernsey, but I’m sure my history channel watching husband does. I just asked him. He knew.

Juliet is a writer in search of her next project. After a few letters pass between her new friends from the island, she discovers they formed a book club. She has to know more and decides this will be the subject of her next novel.

I will leave the summary there. I don’t want to spoil anything. Hopefully it’s enough to get you curious about reading it.

The book is comprised solely of letters. This worried me at first. But after reading a couple of Juliet’s letters to her publisher/friend Sidney, I was hooked. The main character, Juliet, is charming and funny and I kind of wanna be her pen pal too (if she were real, of course).

Here’s an excerpt from one of her letters to her friend Sidney:

“The sea and the clouds don’t stay the same for five minutes running together and I’m scared I’ll miss something if I stay inside. When I got up this morning, the sea was full of sun pennies—and now it all seems to be covered in lemon scrim.” p.165

“Sun pennies”—brilliant.

I appreciated the history lesson. War is horrid and after reading this book I felt like I came to know people personally affected by it. And many of the letters left me wanting to know more.

Do you want to know more?

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fear Observed

From A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis:

"What do people mean when they say, 'I am not afraid of God because I know He is good'? Have they never been to a dentist?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Quote

Every Friday I am going to quote something awesome about books or writing or the general merriment of reading. Enjoy!

From the movie Out of Africa (which I highly recommend, by the way) :

Karen: He[Denys played by Robert Redford!] has got lovely books. Does he lend them?

Berkely Cole: We had a friend...Hopworth, he'd got a book from Denys and didn't return it. Denys was furious. I said to Denys..."You wouldn't lose a friend for the sake of a book." He said, "No, but he has,hasn't he?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Betty Begins

I've been wanting to start a book review blog for awhile now. I love books. I love writing.

Why not combine the two?

So let's get started.

First, I'd like to answer some FAQ's about my love of reading:

Why do you like to read?
I love to escape. I like to imagine what I would do in different situations. Good stories allow me to forget the world for awhile and live in someone else’s. I’m always a bit sad when I finish a good book. The characters and places have become real to me and I don’t want to let go.

I think I fell in love with language when I was assigned to read “To Kill a Mockingbird" in 9th grade. I became fascinated with how the author put words together to make such interesting sentences. I underlined and memorized and fell in love with phrases like “wallowing illicitly” and “subsequent mortification”.

When do you find time to read?
I always keep a book or two in my car. I read while waiting for my kids to get out of school. I read when my son has fallen asleep in the car on the way home from taking my kids to school.
I also read at night.
I also neglect laundry and making dinner in order to read a page turner.
If the book is good, you will find time to read!

What books do you recommend?

Book tastes vary so much from person to person. What I think is fabulous, others may not and vice versa. I try not to let it hurt my feelings when people don’t like the books I like, but I can’t help it. The best is when I let someone borrow a book, they too fall in love with it and then recommend it to their friends. Some recent favorites--The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, When You Reach Me, Book of a Thousand Days, The Ladies Auxiliary.

What is your favorite genre?
I pretty much love most genres, except horror. I am a romantic. I love LOVE stories. I can read about anything as long as it has a hint of a love story.

Side note: I also adore poetry--right now I'm kind of obsessed with John Keats.

So, how would you answer the above questions?

Let's talk books.