Reading Roundup: May 2010

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

This book was interesting to read; on the one hand, the writing is beautiful and the story is rich and compelling. On the other hand, the main character is really difficult to relate to and not emotionally mature. Thankfully, towards the end of the book she has an epiphany--I just wish we could see her life from her new perspective after reading an entire book of her narration from the self-centered perspective of a child.

Walking in the Sand: A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana by Emmanuel Kissi

I found this book at the library when I was researching stuff about Ghana for the kids and I thought it looked interesting. As the introduction points out, it's not written by a professional writer or historian so some aspects of the style are a little unusual. I found some parts a little harder to read than others. It was still an engaging read and I found myself inspired by the story of the Church in a country I didn't know much about before now.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

I really liked the last fairy tale retelling by this author but wasn't quite so impressed with this one. It was a fast, fun read and the romance was sweet, but it just didn't feel as compelling or rich.

Nothing Was the Same by Kay Redfield Jamison

I know the phrase 'achingly beautiful' is such a cliche when describing a book, but it really fits this one. Books rarely make me cry, but this one did. Jamison's description of her relationship with her husband, and the depth of her loss at his death, is amazingly done.

How to Behave So Your Children Will Too by Sal Severe

I like to read a variety of parenting books and take ideas from each one to incorporate into my life. I liked some aspects of this book, particularly his focus on consistency and calmness by parents. However, I thought it felt a little too focused on simple behavioral manipulation and I felt some of his ideas were too harsh.

Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala by Daniel Wilkinson

Another book I picked up at the library while researching stuff for the kids. I didn't know much about the contemporary history of Guatemala, and now that I do I understand better many things about the challenges faced by the people there.

The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

I've never read any Hillerman before, but my mom got me this book for my birthday. It was a quick little read and I might read some more during my summer vacation. I'm not usually a big fan of mysteries/thrillers but I liked this.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I'm not sure if I like this book or not; the writing is good, but for me it didn't quite live up to the hype. And even though I feel like I have a fairly high tolerance as far as content goes, there were a few scenes in this book that really tested my limits.

These is My Words by Nancy Turner

This is another book that I resisted reading for quite a while simply because I didn't like the title. I still don't like the title, but I love the book. It was one that I didn't want to put down after it finished because the characters were so real and their lives were so fascinating. I am definitely going to read the sequels and hope I'm just not too disappointed by them.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Books that switch viewpoints between a variety of characters don't often work, but in this one the switching points of view do seem to flesh out the story and provide perspectives that the main character often is not aware of. Despite that positive aspect of the book I still didn't like it very much. It felt a little too much like it was trying to put in every characteristic of typical contemporary fiction (family tragedy, social issues, coming-of-age) without really resonating with the reader.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Midway through this book I realized that I had started it with completely wrong ideas of its content. For some reason I had thought it was more on the funny side, but it actually veers towards fantasy and horror. I don't usually read horror. But I still finished the book quickly and liked it a lot. The author clearly has a gift for writing.


Movies

The Tiger Next Door

This was an interesting documentary about a segment of our culture that I had no idea existed. It seemed a bit slow at times, but I thought the director did a good job of staying relatively objective and being sympathetic to everyone involved in the story.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Both Mr. Fob and I agree that this movie was just plain weird, but not really in a good way. When it ended we still weren't very sure of what had happened.

The Best of Youth

One review I read of this movie compared it to a novel, unlike most movies that are more like short stories. It's six hours long, and I feel the comparison is apt. It is difficult to explain how good this movie is because it is understated. The story is not particularly flashy and the length may seem intimidating, but I found myself pulled into it and wanting to watch more after it ended. Watching this is like immersing yourself in a long, beautiful family saga.

Comments

Katya said…
I actually liked "Princess of the Midnight Ball" better than "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow," I think because the romance was better developed.

I also read "I Am Not a Serial Killer," but I was expecting it to be very scary, so I found it wasn't as intense as I'd feared.
Julie P said…
I felt the same way about "These is My Words". I put it off for so long, and then when the kids stuck the paperback library copy in the toilet, ruining it, I didn't even feel bad when I had to buy it. I really loved that book. If you read the sequel, be warned it has some very slow parts with a couple really fabulous parts.
Earth Sign Mama said…
I don't usually like murder/mystery type books, either, but Hillerman's books are filled with Navajo culture and incorporate it in such an interesting way, that I really got into reading this series many years ago. I thought you might enjoy it for fun.
SenecaSis said…
Maybe I'm ghoulish, but I LOVE murder mystery books. Although, Hillerman was good I didn't like him enough to run out an read more. I prefer Greg Iles or Lee Child (both write plots with great twists and turns); Robert Ludlum, or Steve Berry; and Ken Follet writes great novels based in different points of history.

But the one I wanted to tell you about is called, "From the land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odessey". I know you're past "B" for Burma, but you can call the country Mynamar and put in under "M". Other than driving on a military area next to it while in Thailand, I never knew anything about it--until reading this book. Wow. Absolutely mind boggling to learn that what I was reading was happening as I was going through high school--comfy and safe in my home.
Tricia said…
I just finished "Crow Lake" and the book I read right before that was "These is My Words" so it felt quite coincidental when I read your list.

I've gotten some good ideas from your monthly reports, and I usually like the same things you do. (I do like mystery/thrillers, though).
Thanks for posting - it helps me find good options to read next!

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