Saturday, February 27, 2010

Week 8: Madame M Presents Creepy Little Bedtime Stories - Madame M (128 pages)

This small volume of poems for children, set the perfect tone for this rainy week. I first discovered this collection of books at the back in 2002. Madame M signed a copy of this book for my then 2 year old daughter. Of course - I did not give or read the book to her then, but I placed it on the bookshelf with the many other books that I had accumulated. 

This week, I decided to give my daughter the two books that I had purchased that day in '02 (the other title is "Madame M Presents Eerie Little Bedtime Stories). She has grown into quite a reader, like her mom. She loved the books! She went on and on about "Bat Boy" and "Witchy Boo-Boo" like they were new best friends! I was so intrigued that I decided to read one of them for myself. I chose "Creepy" because it was the first in the series.
This book hits the perfect tone for fun, kids poetry. Madame M writes a bit like Shel Silverstein, but with a darker feel. 9-12 year-olds will love this book. It meshes well with their discovery of the gross and the spooky. It was also great fun for me - someone who has aged way pass the 9-12 year-old audience. She is a very clever author, and she creates some unusual rhymes. She is kind of like a goth Mother Goose! 

Great fun for all ages, a fun read alone or with a child! Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Week 7: World of Pies: A Novel – Karen Stolz (176 pages)

This book project is nothing if not fluid, Lara and I decided there really are no rules – we would decide what we would read and we decided just because we started a book on Sunday, it might not be the book that we complete by Saturday. This week (Week 7) proved to be that kind of week for me. For various reasons, the book I started last Sunday is not the book I completed today. I won’t reveal the title of the book I was working on, as it is my hope that it will appear in this blog before year’s end.

“World of Pies” is a sweet novel set in the small town of Annette, TX. Each chapter of the book explores a different time in the life of the main character, Roxanne. The book opens in 1962 when Roxanne is 12-years-old and is crazy about baseball. It is the eve of the big Pie Fair and we are off and running. The book makes a seamless transition from age to age (often with 5-6 years passing) via each chapter. I guess this is what is called a “coming of age” tale. We meet Roxanne’s first love, share her embarrassment of having a dad that runs the local lingerie shop, and watch her deal with having a cousin be sent to Vietnam. We meet her husband and eventually her own child. It is a full circle that comes back to pies in the end. She has a lot of growing up to do and this novel delves into those situations and delivers a fun read.

This was author Karen Stolz’s first novel. I found it to be charming in a way that Southern Lit has perfected. A little sweet, a little sour but overall just right; I recommend anyone pick up this engaging read. I don’t think you will regret it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Week 6: Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger (202 pages)

My mother told me never to speak ill of the dead and she said that if I have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all. Holding these tenets close to my chest, I will try my best to review this book. 

My project buddy, Lara and I decided to commemorate the passing of J.D. Salinger by reading one of his books. Since we had both read A Catcher In The Rye, Franny and Zooey was the obvious choice. This is two stories about siblings Franny (Frances Glass) and her brother Zooey (Zachary Glass). They live a privileged life and with it comes issues a plenty.

Maybe I am not smart enough for Salinger or maybe there are too many words for me to cut through to the meaning, whatever it is – I just don’t get it or Salinger for that matter.

It would be absurd to believe that I will love every book that I read for this project – but this is one that I was hoping would make that list. Rest In Peace Mr. Salinger…

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week 5: Good In Bed – Jennifer Weiner (375 pages)

After a few weeks of reading some rather depressing books, I decided to call my Project 52 buddy – Lara and let her know that I needed some light fare. See, Lara has an extensive library of books and they are all meticulously maintained on well-lit bookshelves. The books are grouped by genre and sometimes, it seems, by location. I am ENVIOUS of the beautiful library that she maintains! I told her that I would not be opposed to some so-called “chick lit”, a light/romantic book, written by a woman, which generally has a happy ending. She located the shelf I was looking for and I chose Good In Bed and two other books that will be showing up later in this project.

Lara said that she didn’t think that I would like this book. Cannie, the main character, struggles with her weight and self-esteem issues. I asked Lara why she thought I wouldn’t like it and she pointed out that I have little tolerance for those in the woe-is-me” mindset. This is true, I am not the most empathetic person in the world, and I have been known to be supremely irritated by whiny main characters (see Bella in the first 2 Twilight books) but I figured I could power through.

I was instantly captured by Jennifer Weiner’s style of writing. I connected with Cannie and felt her pain as she discovered that her boyfriend, with whom she was on a break, wrote an article about her that was featured in magazine. The article was titled “Loving A Larger Woman”. I was incensed for Cannie but was also excited to see what she was going to do and how it would all turn out. Cannie’s process of dealing with a break-up, her reaction to that article and those that followed, her family and friends all helped to move this story along. Weiner writes with a dry wit that had me giggling out loud. 

This book was quite good. I cannot say that I was always happy with some of the decisions  Cannie made or the ways she chose to carry them out.  Yes, there were a couple of “woe-is-me” moments I could have lived without, but then this would have been a different book and not the gem I read. 

I am glad I let go of my personal ideas long enough to get thoroughly enraptured by Good In Bed. Thanks to Lara for letting me check it out of her library.