Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

Anne took this picture a few years ago in Albany when all the tulips were in bloom.

Reading sad books

Reading sad books

I never have considered myself as a crier.  I thought I was more on the stoic side of life.  However recently I have been more emotional especially with sad books, commercials, and movies. Books can bring out emotions that are sometimes surprising.  What I never expected is how deeply some books would affect me. 

I prefer books that end Happily Ever After (HEA).  Life is real enough in so many instances that I need to read about the good things that can and do happen.  That is not to say I am a pessimist, because I am not, I lean toward being a Pollyanna. 

Our book club is reading Alice Bliss this month. This book is emotional poignant.  It really makes you realize the sacrifices that many Americans make when their loved ones are deployed to the front lines.  Alice is a budding teenager who has a very strong connection to her father.  Things are quite difficult for her whole family with his absence. 

This book didn’t just make me sad, I cried.  At one point I was crying too hard to even continue reading.  That is the type of emotional response that always surprises me.  I can read some books that are emotionally challenging without a problem. While with others I am emotionally attached to the characters. This can be so unsettling. I sometimes think this reaction is in direct response to my mother’s increasing dementia. At other times, I believe it has more to do with the quality of the writing and the story line.

Books have the ability to bring so much into our lives.  They bring us: joy and laughter, fear and loathing, hopes and promises with dreams of new worlds.   Sometimes they allow us to express our emotions that we have spent so much time tamping down.  Maybe this book allowed me to release some of the unhappiness and sadness that life offers.  Or maybe I am just a sap!

Books to cry over and with

Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The Wind is not a River by Brian Payton

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Futuristic Reading

Futuristic Reading

I FINALLY was at the top of the list for the new JD Robb book at the library this week!  I do not pick to read fantasy or futuristic books often.  But when I do have a couple of favorite authors: JD Robb {Nora Roberts} and Jayne Castle {Jayne Ann Krenz}. Both write under pseudonyms for their futuristic novels. 

Both have envisioned a world where the future is still populated by people.  However JD Robb’s setting is New York City and Jayne Castle’s setting is Harmony, a made up world.  The major difference between them is that Jayne Castle’s books focus on different characters each time, whereas JD Robb’s two main characters are Eve Dallas and Roarke. 

Concealed in Death by JD Robb is the 38th book in the series.  THIRTY-EIGHT!  Wow almost a complete set of dishes or silverware.  Each book does have Eve and Roarke with a cast of fun and sometimes quirky characters that surround them.  Each book is like a new chapter in their lives as their characters grow and change because of each other.  They build upon one another until you are entranced. 

Eve is a detective in the homicide division of the New York Police Department. Roarke was a thief who stopped his illegal activities and over time moved into more legal methods of a livelihood when he met Eve.   He is a now a businessman who seemly is taking over the world one business at a time.  He is richer than Eve’s wildest dreams and loves to buy his wife presents.  Eve and Roarke are married and are learning to work through life together when social norms have always been difficult for them. Eve and Roarke both had troubled childhoods where living in less than desirable circumstances and surviving took all their wits.  Yet these elements are slowly measured out over the books.

The murders usually are unique and Eve takes each case to heart.  She practically lives it until Roarke and the other characters {who are just as interesting and quirky} are in as deep as she.  Eve has special way of understanding the criminal mind, which is fascinating.  Each story moves along in time in a sequence.  This allows the reader to attach to the characters and cheer them on.

BTW – the book was wonderful.  The murders were solved. More information from the past was let out in pieces.  Eve continues to grow socially with learning how to be better at trying to socialize.  Roarke is still the hottest man on and off the planet. 

Futuristic novels that caught my eye

JD Robb – In death series

Jayne Castle – Harmony and Rainshadow

Margaret Atwood – The Handmaiden’s Tale and the MaddAddam Trilogy

Veronica Roth – The Divergent Series

Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games

Octavia E Butler – Earthseed Series {plus others}

A lesson learned

A Lesson Learned.

This last week in my life is one of the first weeks that I feel I cannot enjoy reading.  We all have weeks of stress, busyness beyond expectations and surprises thrown at us.  That has been my week.  To my disgust I realized I allowed it to creep into my joy of reading.  

My mom who suffers from dementia was hospitalized this week for a serious illness.  Her diagnosis made her dementia more out of control and over the top.  While I spent a lot of time by her side attempting to keep her calm while she healed, I was not able to concentrate on a story with much success.  Luckily I was gifted with a couple of books to read that allowed me to read while she took catnaps. What her catnaps did not allow me was time.

I have realized going through this week how much of an all or nothing person I am with reading.  I like to read a book for good size chunks of time.  I can read a book in smaller chunks but I feel I miss the flow of the book.  I find myself missing the story and the location because I seemingly cannot climb into the book and live vicariously through the main characters.  Instead I am dragged into a shadow world of half here and half there.  Being in the shadow world leached my enjoyment of the books.

Today as I ready myself to face forward and visit with her again, I have come to the conclusion that I allowed myself to not find pleasure in reading.  Many many people only have short periods of time to read and use those short times effectively.  I do not.  I fuss about not having enough time before I start to read and when I have to stop.  I am diminishing my own enjoyment of reading by my dislike of how I am able to read this week. 

Another life lesson or at least a reminder for me!  You can control your own joy.  Time spent fussing about loosing time zaps your enjoyment as much as anything does.  Reading is joy for me and I have allowed myself to not enjoy reading this week.  A lesson learned.

The books I read when I could read. 

Four Friends by Robyn Carr

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jefferies

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Moral Dilemmas

Moral Dilemmas

Moral dilemmas are one of the best devices that authors can use to draw me in.  Knowing that a character must choose the best option from equally bad choices almost always is heart wrenching and polarizing. Some of my favorite books are the ones that grab you with compassion and then zing you with a horrible situation with no winning side. To me, this adds to the density of the story. I enjoy the story much more when the entire situation requires people to choose sides and we are offered glimpses into the reasons.  Especially when we understand there is no good solution.   To me this is the most difficult of decisions that people have to make. Sometimes – My brain starts the questioning loop from a book and I can’t let go. That is my situation this week – no antidotal story - nothing funny... Not even my usual dilemma about housework.  Just serious questions about our destiny and how much if any is it within our control.   

Reading Defending Jacob by William Landry for the second time really brought those questions to mind again. In this story, a teen is arrested for murdering a classmate.  His life and that of his parents change. Questions abound as William Landry slowly releases information that teases you until the conclusion catches your breath.  But the questions still roll around in my head.  Where does a parent’s responsibility for a child begin and end?  Are the parent’s responsible for their children only through the sets of genes they pass to their children?  Or are they responsible for the actions of the children as well?  To me it boils down to one of the most universal questions that exist.  Nature versus nurture.  Predisposition versus predetermination. A true moral dilemma.

There are many great writers that use dilemmas as part of their plots.   Below are listed some great fiction that have moral dilemmas as a main ingredient to their plot lines.  Enjoy. 

Defending Jacob by William Landry

The Dinner by Herman Koch

We Need to Talk about Kevin:  A Novel by Lionel Shriver

The Good Father by Noah Hawley

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

The Light Between Two Oceans by M.L. Stedman

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Keep Reading :)

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Jeannie | Reply 23.03.2014 22.15

Loved The Hunger Games series. The HandMaiden's Tale made me mad as did Lois Lowry's The Giver, but raised all the ethical questions associated with "control."

Dawn | Reply 15.03.2014 12.45

Your blog is spot on today...we get what we allow ourselves to have. I hope today you will allow yourself joy, even if it is just for a few moments.

Jon St. Cyr | Reply 27.02.2014 14.12

You probably know this, but Angelina Jolie is bringing Unbroken to the big screen this Christmas. I haven't read the book, but I can't wait to see the movie.

Kathy | Reply 03.01.2014 22.04

Happy New Year! This year I will NOT save $$$. We are going to do our part to stimulate the economy instead: laptops, smartphones, HDTV, vacations, new car!!

Marti | Reply 05.12.2013 22.08

Jeannie, I don't know when new becomes classic, but several books I read a 'while' ago now show up as classic. Marti

Jeannie | Reply 05.12.2013 20.49

I loved the classics long ago when I read them, and more current literature is more accessible and enjoyable. When does current become classic?

Anne | Reply 18.11.2013 21.51

While I have read several James Patterson books over the years, my favorite ones were his older books. I find his short, simple style lacking substance.

Marti | Reply 07.11.2013 14.47

I think we I click on the Share this page button it does put up a message on facebook, but I have not found a way to let people know any other way at this point

Uncle John | Reply 07.11.2013 13.56

Great!! Is there anyway loyal followers can be notified on each new Posting? Keep it up.

Kathy | Reply 05.10.2013 20.22

I absolutely love your blog! (and you know I have no patience sitting in front of a computer screen) You're making soup and I'm running the A/C - go figure!

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Latest comments

23.03 | 22:15

Loved The Hunger Games series. The HandMaiden's Tale made me mad as did Lois Lowry's The Giver, but raised all the ethical questions associated with "control."

15.03 | 12:45

Your blog is spot on today...we get what we allow ourselves to have. I hope today you will allow yourself joy, even if it is just for a few moments.

27.02 | 14:12

You probably know this, but Angelina Jolie is bringing Unbroken to the big screen this Christmas. I haven't read the book, but I can't wait to see the movie.

03.02 | 22:36

Ava Miles is one of my favorite new authors too!! I love Nora Roberts Land and couldn't wait to start her next book in the series. Great choice!!

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