Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

I call this day lily "Fire"

The Can't Let Go Bookshelf

This week I am reading Chris Bohjalian’s new book, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.  I have to say that it is creepy, scary, poignant and wonderful all at once.  I like his books; because of all the information and care he takes with his characters.  Often, at the beginning of the book, you think you believe one thing. You hear from everyone and by the end of the story when you have seen all sides you realize everything is gray.  Just shades of gray.  No black.  No white. Some darker, some lighter, but all still gray. 

The reason I like this book so much is that is shows the simultaneously pain of cutting, homelessness, nuclear accidents and the starkness of the poetry by Emily Dickenson.  How he melded the four items together is what makes him so good at his craft. I have to admit as I have read further into the novel I have slowed down.  I am afraid for the conclusion.  The main character is in trouble and it is getting deeper. If she is writing, you think she may be okay, but it is still pretty murky. Sometimes I like Chris Bohjalian’s books just because they make me feel. Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaiden’s Tale and Hillary Jordan’s book, When She Woke gave me the same feelings as Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.  All mixed up inside, all jumbled and all emotional. Perhaps it is because they all are dystopic.

But I have not finished the book, so I guess I cannot safely draw that conclusion – yet.   But no matter how it ends, I already know it is a book that is going to stick with me for sometime.  I can already add it to the “can’t let go” bookshelf.  There are other authors are on this shelf too.  Jodi Piccoult, Kristen Hannah, and Diane Chamberlain to name a few.  Each has their own way of bringing you into a story and allowing you to live in the characters so that you are all mixed up inside with them. I will now add Chris Bohjalian’s new book is Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands to them.

Some of my “can’t let go” books:

Chris Bohjalian’s books - The Double Bind and The Sandcastle Girls

Jodi Piccoult’s books - My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes

Kristen Hannah’s books – Home Front and Winter’s Garden

Diane Chamberlain’s books – Necessary Lies and The Midwife’s Confession

Karen White’s books – Learning to Breathe and The Lost Hours

Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaiden’s Tale

Hillary Jordan’s book, When She Woke

Dianne Dixon’s book,  The Language of Secrets

 

* Jodi Piccoult has a new book coming out this year too called Leaving Time.

Patriotic books for the Fourth of July

Patriotic books for the Fourth of July

I thought it was appropriate, seeing as how the Fourth of July was right around the corner, to write about books having to do with the history of the United States.  I have to admit, for this subject I needed to chat with my NH History Museum buddies for their input.  Most of them are true history buffs and enjoy reading.

A couple of them immediately spoke about John Adams by David McCullough.  Almost in the same breath others spoke about 1776 and Truman.  I was surprised that the top three books mentioned by my colleagues were all by David McCullough until I checked him out on Goodreads.  David McCullough has written 29 books about American History and has an average rating of 4.12 out of five stars.  That tells me a lot about his popularity. 

Another book that was mentioned by a couple of different people was The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming.  What makes this book different isn’t the portrayal of our founding fathers, but the information about the people around them that influenced them both publically and privately. It is interesting how we think gossip is a recent phenomenon.

One colleague wanted to make sure I mentioned the Dear America Series, as well as all the American Girl books.  Her all time favorite book was Lyddie by Katherine Paterson. All of them a great read for the younger readers.

The suggestion I was not expecting was when one colleague reminded me of Charley Parkhurst.  If you have never read about this amazing woman (who came from NH) you might want to investigate.  She was a woman who masqueraded as a man for years and was considered a remarkable stage driver in the mid 1800s.  A couple of books about Charley are:  Charley’s Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst by Fern J Hill and The Whip by Karen Kondazian.

Happy Reading and Happy Fourth of July!

John Adams by David McCullough.

1776  by David McCullough

Truman by David McCullough

The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming. 

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson

Charley’s Choice: The Life and Times of Charley Parkhurst by Fern J Hill

The Whip by Karen Kondazian.

How Long Is Summer?

How Long Is Summer?

YEE HAW!  It is time to plan for my summer reading!  I am always happy to figure out what I am going to read in the summer.  I love to read books that are set on beaches – so I can be at the beach when I read them. Of course my beach is usually a lake or a pond.  I love reading books that are HEA with fun characters in a town or place I know so well.  I love reading books that are lighter in nature, although that does not stop me from reading serious books either.  So far I have 16 books on my list – but those are just the ones I need to reserve at the library.

Some of my favorite authors have new books coming out that celebrate the beach.  Elin Hilderbrand has a new book with The Matchmaker, Nancy Thayer with Nantucket Sisters and Dorothy Benton Frank with The Hurricane Sisters.  Three authors have books coming out that celebrate summer with titles like: That Summer, The Summer Wind and That Summer Night.  Those books are so appealing to me.  A newer series by Susan Wiggs has me has looking forward to reading The Beekeeper's Ball. Oh and those books are all coming out in June!

In July and August for me it is all about series with its next books.  The series by Faye Kellerman about Peter Decker and Rena Lazarus are always great books.  Margaret Maron has another book out in her series about Judge Deborah Knott and her huge family and small town southern charm.  Jill Shalvis, Robin Carr, and Susan Mallery all have new books coming out about their towns of Lucky Harbor, Thunder Point, and Fool’s Gold.  And to top it all off, Jayne Castle has a new book coming out in her futuristic series called The Hot Zone.

Oh look the new Book Page is in!  I have to go check out the new books to add to my lists.  Did I remember Chris Bohjalian’s new book (Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands) on the list?  Is that the new book by Herman…Wait, how long is summer?

The Matchmaker by  Elin Hilderbrand

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothy Benton Frank

That Summer by Lauren Willig

The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe

That Summer Night  by Barbara Freethy

The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs

Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman

Designated Daughter by Margaret Maron

 It’s in his Kiss by Jill Shalvis

The Homecoming by Robin Carr

Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

The Summer House with a Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Young Adult Novels

Young Adult Novels

As many of you know, I have taken on some new challenges this year.  They have opened my eyes to a whole new genre of books. (Not that I didn’t have enough already!)  The genre is that of young adult novels.  Some of these books are wonderful.  So I have asked my young adults to tell me what kind of books they like, why they like them and what are some of their favorites.

Rachel loves to read every book.  Each new book she finishes is her favorite.  She loves the characters and the story lines that are allow her to feel with the characters.  Her favorite books this spring were The Fault in Our Stars, Speechless, Impulse and Forgotten. Rachel is presently reading and enjoying Willow.

John doesn’t like to read.  There are many other things he prefers to do. He also thinks that most people do not read.  John does like it when books have suspense and are long.  He does not like to have to pick out new reading books often. Two of his favorite books were The Giver and Evermore.

Sandy loves to read books.  She feels they take her away from reality for a while.  She also likes to see things from other people’s perspective.  For Sandy it is fun to be in another’s mind with their memories and experiences.  Sandy’s favorite authors are John Green and Ellen Hopkins. She also reads some books that are newly written and are listed up on various websites for free. 

Belinda likes books that are real.  She feels that books that end HEA are not real, because life is not always like that.  She was not always a reader, but as she has grown older she has found some really great books.  Belinda feels that books make her feel strong emotions and strong, funny, characters.  She listed Saving Max as a great book. 

These young people have opened my eyes to so many new books that I am hoping to read some over the summer.  The Fault Lies in Our Stars is the first one for sure as are the books Looking for Alaska and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I also think Willow sounds very interesting.  I am grateful for the new experience that I have had and am looking forward to reading more fabulous young adult books. 

 

Books Mentioned:

The Fault Lies in Our Stars by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Willow by Julia Hoban

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Boomeranging books.

Boomeranging books. Little did I expect that!

I have taught for many years at different levels.  First at a Middle School level and later as an Elementary School Level.  This last year when I “left” public school, I cleaned out!  I disposed of numbers of books that I no longer needed.  At the same time, I also disposed my Mom’s collection of books.  We are speaking of boxes and boxes of books.  I felt so accomplished when I was finished.

I started tutoring to augment my income.  The students of various ages came with their own materials and I worked on what they needed to work on!  How wonderful.  I often knew about the books they were reading and was able to speak about them. 

And then it happened!  Three new students started in a two-week time period.  The administration requested me to start a book group with them.  The book groups would focus on newer books as well as some of the books that neighboring schools used for ninth and tenth grade. Feeling very excited, I scoured my house for the correct books only to remember I had cleared them ALL OUT! I could find only 5 of them.  How frustrating!  I could have screamed.  I had donated all those books and now I needed them. 

I ended up going to the local book sale at the Historical Society. Yes, the same place I had donated the books.  I was able to find some of the books I needed, only to realize as I was paying for them ($0.50 a piece) that the books had come from me.  It was my name or my mother’s name on the book flap.  AUGGGHHHH.  I am sure there is a lesson about how I should not have donated the books.  I am sure there is some karmic connection or significance.  Mostly I now know that the books I managed to donate have boomeranged back into my possession this time for a monetary donation to the historical society. 

What books leave my life for somehow managed to boomerang right back into my life!

Some of the books I was looking for:

Albom, Mitch - Tuesdays with Morrie

Chopin, Kate  - The Awakening

Fitzgerald, F Scott - The Great Gatsby

Ford, Jamie  - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Golding, William – Animal Farm

Haddix, Margaret Petterson  - Among the Hidden

Hansberry, Lorraine  - Raisin in the Sun

Harper, Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird

Hemmingway, Ernest  - Farewell to Arms

Hillenbrand, Laura Unbroken

Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World

O’Brien, Tim - The Things They Carried

Orwell, George  - 1984

Salinger, JD - Catcher in the Rye

Steinbeck, John - Of Mice and Men

Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath

R I C E

R I C E
Darn my knee hurts.  I smashed it when I fell last week.  So it is R I C E – rest, immobilize, cold, elevate – for me, which means I need to read quietly while my elevated knee is icing and resting. I have a gazillion unread books that I could accomplish, but right now I need to R I C E my brain too.

R - reread (something I have enjoyed before),

I - isolate (a good series that isn’t too long),

C - coast (through the story) and

E - embrace (the moment)

I think you can probably tell this is not my first injury to a lower extremity.  The year I badly sprained my ankle, I reread all of Jean Auel’s Earth Children Series.   The summer I smashed both knees, I spent time reading the entire Harry Potter series over to prepare for the last volume.  The summer I twisted my knee funny (ACL damage) I reread a series by Elisabeth Ogilvie about living on an isolated island in Maine (Tide Trilogy and Lover’s Trilogy).  This time I am reading a series by Kristen Ashley about a Motorcycle Club called Chaos. 

My philosophy might be a bit of a shocker for some of you, but it is guaranteed to keep me still.   So my knee and my brain can ‘rice’ in unison... <sigh>

Elisabeth Ogilvie – Tide Trilogy and Lover’s Trilogy

Tide Trilogy - High Tide, Storm Tide and Ebbing Tide

Lover’s Trilogy – Dawning of the Day, Strawberries in the Sea and The Season’s Hereafter.

Jean Auel – Earth’s Children Series

Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of the Horses, Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage, Shelters of Stone, Land of Painted Caves

J K Rowling – Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Kristen Ashley – Chaos

Motorcycle Man (technically the last book of the previous series), Own the Wind, and Fire Inside

So Many Books and So Little Time

I know everyone has a stack of them.  You know... the books you didn’t finish.  You might try to convince yourself or others – that you are going to finish it later.  Yeah right!  We are just kidding ourselves about that or at least I am. 

There are many reasons for putting a book down:  not interesting, too long, bad plot line, too much swearing, poor grammar or punctuation.  The list could go on for a long time. However, it all comes down to a single point, the book wasn’t holding our attention.  

I used to think there was some problem within me if I did not like a popular book. I mean after all, I usually bought the book already, so I have to read it.  Now, I understand that not everyone is going to like every book. Even if it is a best seller!  And that is okay.  I have had to learn that it is okay to put down a book and not finish it. I think it became easier to do once I began to borrow more books instead of buying them.

What do we do with the books we are not going to read?  It is not that I am going to give them to friends to read – especially since I didn’t like it!  I have been known to bring them to our local historical society – thinking that someone would like them.  One friend can’t even do that – she actually continues to keep them so she can finish them.   When I ask her where she keeps them, I had to laugh.  She has stacks all over her house in different places:  Holding open doors and holding up book shelves and even balancing out a crooked table. 

I am sure by now, you have also noticed I do not write up the review if I didn’t like the book.  Just because I didn’t like the book, doesn’t mean other people will feel the same way.  I guess I follow the rule that, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything!  

My new rule to add to the old rule: I will try a book twice. If after the second time I still do not like the book, then it is done and the book is off to a new place. No guilt... after all...

“There are so many books and so little time.”

Keep Reading :)
Marjay

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Kathy | Reply 07.06.2014 21.27

Thanks for all the great recommendations! I love your blog and it was so wonderful to see you at the NH Historical Museum!

jeannie | Reply 02.06.2014 23.35

The Fault in Our Stars is coming out as a movie, I believe. Looks sweet and maybe sad. Think it is great that your students are consultants, too.

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

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Latest comments

07.06 | 21:27

Thanks for all the great recommendations! I love your blog and it was so wonderful to see you at the NH Historical Museum!

...
02.06 | 23:35

The Fault in Our Stars is coming out as a movie, I believe. Looks sweet and maybe sad. Think it is great that your students are consultants, too.

...
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.

...
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