Monthly Archives: September 2011

Banned Book Review of And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

Roy & Silo are two male penguins that live at the Central Park Zoo.  Day after day they watch the other penguin couples play together, swim together, wrap their necks around each other, and eventually build nests together for the eggs that each must keep warm until they hatch.

Roy & Silo build a nest too, but the egg-shaped rock they carefully nestle in the middle, never seems to hatch.

Noticing this, the zookeeper places an egg that needs care right in the middle of their nest and in time Tango is born, the only penguin at the zoo with two daddies.

This children’s book is a beautiful story of two penguins that are a little different from the others and would be a good book to use to help explain how two people of the same sex who love each other are a little different, yet in some ways still the same as others around them.

The subject matter did make me squirm a little.  I’m a little old-fashioned and I am not entirely comfortable with homosexuality even though I have some very good friends who live this lifestyle.  I do know that they are still God’s children and I have no right to judge so I just accept them and love them as they are. 

Should this book be banned?  No.  Would I read this book to my four-year-old granddaughter?  No.  But I do believe it has value and deserves its place on the library shelf.  3/5 stars

Banned Book Review of Lush by Natasha Friend

 

Samantha is a pretty typical thirteen year old girl.  She gets good grades in school (except she hates phys ed),  she spends every Saturday night with her three best friends, and she wonders what it would feel like to have Drew Maddox (the hot guy she sees at the library) kiss her.

But Samantha also has a few things about her that aren’t typical.  First of all, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, the “breast fairy made a visit” and that’s all the obnoxious, immature boys notice, and her father is an alcoholic and not even her three best friends know it.

Feeling the need to confide in someone, she leaves a note at the table in the library where she has noticed a high school girl named Juliet sitting.  Thinking this Juliet would know what to do in most any situation she pens a confession about her family and asks Juliet to respond by leaving a reply in a book that hasn’t been checked out in thirteen years- The History of Modern Whaling.

And sure enough, a note is there the next time she checks.  Sam and AJK leave each other notes on a regular basis.  It helps a little to get things off her chest.

Sam struggles in the relationship with her father.  She’s embarrassed by him and she doesn’t want him around.  She wants to believe him when he says this time he’s going to stop drinking but she doesn’t.  She’s conflicted between loving him and hoping things will change and hating him when in a drunken rage he accidentally hurts her four-year-old brother Luke and leaves him scarred for life.

I felt the emotions that Sam displays in Lush to be pretty realistic.  I am fortunate enough to have never been around an alcoholic, but I believe the feelings Sam has.  Your parents are usually the ones you look up to , love and respect, and rely on to keep you safe.  When that is taken away from you it must leave you floundering.

Lush was a well written book that would perhaps let other teens in this same situation realize they are not alone.  I found absolutely nothing in this book that would make me demand that this book be banned.  3.5/5 stars

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

Whew!  Made it through last week, the first week in the start of my crazy fall & winter schedule.  Now that school, scouts and church activities have started up and are in full swing I rarely see my home before 9pm each evening.  While I enjoy a full schedule, unfortunately it doesn’t leave much room for reading.

However, I did finish the book featured in this meme last week, The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian (review coming soon).

For this week I am committing myself to another 400 page book Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks.

 

Suspended in a strange modern-day version of limbo, the young man at the center of  Russell Banks uncompromising and morally complex new novel must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration.  Known in jis new identity only as the Kid, and on probation after doing time for a liaison with an underage girl, he is shackled to a GPS monitoring device and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather.  With nowhere else to go, the Kid takes up residence under a south Florida causeway, in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders.

 Barely beyond childhood himself, the Kid, despite his crime, is in many ways an innocent, trapped by impulses and foolish choices he himself struggles to comprehend.  Enter the Professor, a man who has built his own life on secrets and lies.  A university sociologist of enormous size and intellect, he finds in the Kid a perfect subject for his research on homelessness and recidivism among convicted sex offenders.  The two men forge a tentative partnership, thre Kid remaining wary of the Professor’s motives even as he accepts the counsel and financial assistance of the older man.

When the camp beneath the causeway is raided by the police, and later, when a hurricane all but destroys the settlement, the Professor tries to help the Kid in practical matters while trying to teach his young charge new ways of looking at, and understanding, what he has done.  But when the Professor’s past resurfaces and threatens to destroy his carefully constructed world, the balance in the two men’s relationship shifts.

Suddenly, the Kid must reconsider everything he has come to believe, and choose what course of action to take when faced with a new kind of moral decision.

Sounds like it could be filled with moral complexities!  Can’t wait!  I hope you all have a great week, and keep those pages turning!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey

Banned Book Review of What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonia Sones

It’s Banned Books Week!  That’s right, it’s the week to celebrate those naughty, naughty books that have caused people to gasp in horror at what’s within the pages.  I will admit I never paid particular attention to lists of banned books until I saw this list posted by Book Journey quite some time ago and I did a double take.  What?  The Hunger Games and Twilight were on that list, both books that my teenage son and I had read.  Was I leading him down the road of depravity?  And why did nothing stand out in either book as something I would not have wanted him to read?  I mean, I’m a mother that didn’t let him watch “R” rated movies until he was actually 16!

That’s when I decided to take on some of these other books that made the list!   So here is book #7  on that list What My Mother Doesn’t Know.

Sophie is a ninth-grade girl in love for the first time.  All those wonderful, thrilling emotions are flying around in her brain.  She wants him to call her, she’s afraid for him to meet her parents, his smile across the hallway makes butterflies race  in her stomach, and oh (!) that first kiss!  He is all she can think about.  She can’t concentrate on anything else.

But soon she becomes disenchanted with him.  The little things she used to love about him are starting to become annoying.  And then…she meets someone else…

What My Mother Doesn’t Know is probably the same things that my mother and your mother and the mother of the girl next door didn’t know.  To me this seemed to be a fairly typical first love, raging hormones type of story.  I mean who doesn’t remember being totally obsessed with their first love?  I know I was (his name was Robbie, he was blond and shy and had a sweet little half smile.)  But there was nothing in this book that made me shriek “Whoa! Whoa! This book has got to go!”

Written in a brilliant poetic style, Sonya Sones does a wonderful job of getting inside the mind of a fourteen year old girl and displaying the ramblings of Sophie’s mind, the relationship between her and her two best friends Grace & Rachel, and even the strained relationship with her detached mother.  And the final message of acceptance of other people and herself was a courageous road for Sophie to take.

Banned for a brief mention of masturbation (it’s mentioned, never done) and a chapter called Ice Capades (Sophies description of how her breasts react to the cold) this book has been challenged several times.  But should it be banned?  No.  3/5 stars

The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker *Review*

Together for over a decade, Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be.  They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, whom they love more than anything.  Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that this domestic bliss couldn’t last – that the life they created was destined to be disrupted.  And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

 

 

Is there anything more difficult than family dynamics?  The love you have for your family is stronger than anything else, yet there are other emotions constantly playing out as well.  Jealousies, resentments, doubts, fears…don’t tell me you haven’t felt those same things about a family member at one time or another!  Lisa Tucker takes these feelings and layers them one on top of another with a closeted past and a symphony of secrets.

Michael is used to being sheltered.  His overly protective parents do everything within their power to keep him safe so nothing can hurt him like it hurt his dad’s first child.  But what this has caused Michael to do, is question everything that crosses his path except the stranger that comes to pick him up one day.  His parents wouldn’t let somebody else pick him up unless they approved of this person so it must be okay to go with her.  But who is she and what does she want with Michael?

Both David and Kyra have their suspicions.  People from their individual pasts who have been wronged in some way.  And at one time or another as the story unfolds you believe at first David is right then Kyra is right and then as revelations are gradually and deliberately unfolded you toss out everything you thought you knew and you start making other assumptions as to whom the kidnapper is.

Lisa Tucker is a new author to me and one I feel develops her characters well.  With each new emotion the character brings to the surface they become more fully fleshed out until you feel like you can understand each incident they are involved in even if you would never feel or act that way yourself.

I enjoyed this book and while I would never classify it as a page turner- that is exactly what I seemed to do. I had to keep reading because each little tidbit that bubbled to the surface was bringing me closer to figuring out how David & Kyra’s past was about to collide with their present.  4/5 stars

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

The last couple of weeks have been rough reading weeks.  I had my book club read The Postmistress, which I know some people really liked but I found it incredibly dull so I found other things to do instead of reading.  I finally forced myself to read 150 pages in 1 1/2 days so I could get it finished for book club and wound up 40 pages short the night of the book discussion.  I really wish I could put down a book I’m just not into, but I can’t!  I have to finish it…I have to know if it get’s better…I have to know how it ends!  Arrggghhh!

After that I was relieved to be able to start The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker.  This one went so much faster!  Review will be up on this one mid-week.

 

This week will be one of those weeks (as I explained to my husband) that I’ll barely see him.  I wanted to slap the slow smile that creeped up on his face when I said that,  but I know he’ll really miss me.  Err…he’ll really miss my cooking.  One of these days he’ll appreciate me *as I wave my scepter around*     🙂

After my Monday through Friday day job my week looks like this:

Monday- Boy Scouts

Tuesday- Watch my future granddaughter while her mother goes to religious ed classes

Wednesday-My youngest son starts confirmation classes and they are holding a parent info meeting the first night

Thursday- I am the facilitator for a 26 week Bible Study on Revelation that starts this night

Friday- My son is going on a Boy Scout weekend campout and I have to drop him off at the meeting place, then my cousin and I are going in a different direction for a girls campout weekend of our own.  We’ve never done this together and I’m psyched!  (We’re going to try out the portable camping blender and make some Margaritas!)

Saturday- still camping

Sunday- pack up from our campout, pick up my son from his, go home and collapse in an exhausted, but hopefully happy heap!

Of course, in between all this I hope to get in a page or two.  While I’m not incredibly optimistic about getting a lot done I am shooting for this one:

 

Chip and Emily Linton wanted to escape a nightmare. Months before, Chip had ditched the jet he piloted into Lake Champlain after both its engines failed. His decision led to disaster: More than three dozen passengers died and Linton himself had lapsed into a PSTD response that verges on insanity. Now, he, his wife, and twin 10-year-old daughters have escaped, or so they think, to a decrepit Victorian mansion in New Hampshire’s sleepy White Mountains. Before long, however, the house and neighborhood around it become scenes of threatening paranormal visitations and the family is thrust into a realm where uncertainty is the only norm.

 

 

I love the way Chris Bohjalian writes so I’m looking forward to this psychological thriller!

That’s it for me.  Have a great week and keep those pages turning!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey

A Paradise for Fools by Nicholas Kilmer *Review*

 

The young woman in the hair salon raises her shirt to show a friend a work in progress—a riot of stunning tattoos. From the barber’s chair, Fred Taylor knows that those images—weird insects, beasts, and naked human figures—could only come from something amazing: a hitherto unknown painting of rare and significant value. And the girls don’t have a clue.
 
Fred knows such a painting needs to be found. His inquiries lead him from the salon to the illegal tattoo parlor of an unlicensed genius. Everyone who must have seen the painting denies that it exists, despite the vivid proof increasingly laid bare on the canvas of the hairdresser’s skin.
 
Fred’s employer, the collector Clayton Reed, is out of the country. So Fred, left to his own devices, is free to follow the trail, despite the distractions presented by the intriguing librarian Molly Riley.
 
Fred must proceed with caution. Then he encounters the first serious bump in the road: a suspiciously convenient hit-and-run that brings one potential informant to an abrupt dead end.
 
It’s been a while since I read a good who-dun-it, so I was prime for this one that I picked up on NetGalley.  Fred Taylor kind of stumbles into this mystery by being in the right place (getting a haircut) at the right time.  Overhearing where the hairdresser got her ink, he pays the tattoo artist a visit.  But the artist who “draws like an angel” is very close lipped about the inspiration for the piece he has inked on Kim’s back. 
 
Fred continues to follow clues, determined to find this priceless old painting by Hieronymous Bosch, the possible draft for the tryptic The Garden of Earthly Delights.
 

 

The mystery, I liked.  It had a surprising twist at the end that I did not suspect.  The conversations between the characters, I did not.  They were choppy, confusing and hard to follow.  Occasionally I can see having a character that talks in bits and pieces and seems to lose their train of thought jumping from one thing to another.  But to have almost every character speak like this in the book was just a little too much for me.  I found myself rereading sentences to try to figure out where the conversation went.  If you are better at following this kind of dialogue than I am, by all means, read this book.  The search for the painting is intriguing and I learned a lot about the art world.  3/5 stars

**This book releases today**