Books I’ve Read

I’m putting my latest book at the top.

It’s been a long time since I updated this and there have been many reads in between. Here are a few:

Imaginary Enemy by Julie Gonzalez is a YA book about Jane White’s coming of age with the help of her imaginary enemy. She writes him notes over the course of her childhood, and is spooked when in her teens the Enemy writes back. Jane and her off-kilter family are likeable, as are her friends and neighbors. She goes from being a world-class slacker to a pretty neat young woman.

How Perfect is That by Sarah Bird. I won this one on Twitter! Blythe Young is a fallen Austin socialite who borders on self-destruction. In the first few chapters, she lies, steals, drinks, does drugs and screws over several friends and employees. Somehow she makes it out of her unethical loser of a life and forges a new one.

Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky. A family is shaken to its core when a newborn is noticeably black. Neither parent is, and the mystery leads the husband to wonder if his wife was having an affair with the next door neighbor. (She wasn’t.) The husband’s parents hail from an old Boston family, so it couldn’t possibly be them.Instead, the focus turns on the wife’s family tree, which suffers from some broken branches. Oh,what a surprise ending!

I managed to finish a couple of chick-lit reads in the last couple of weeks. One was Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh. Mrs. Kimble is more about the three Mrs. Kimbles, with a brief description of the cad who is Mr. Ken Kimble. There’s Birdie, the first wife of the 1960s, who Ken left with two small children (Charlie and Jody) without a word of warning. Left with his girlfriend. Birdie is simple minded, and ends up being perpetually drunk, with seven year old Charlie taking over the responsibilities that Ken should have seen to. Then there is Joan, who he ditches the girlfriend over, a wealthy Florida by New York socialite, who falls for him. They marry, he gets cozy with her real estate mogul uncle, she dies, and he ends up with the family money. Finally there is Dinah, who coincidentally was once the teenage babysitter to Charlie and Jody. He “rescues” her from her chef job, they marry and have a son, Brendan. But all is not happy with the third Mrs. Kimble. Ken is egocentric as well as eccentric, and a consummate con man.

Ken Kimble is one of those guys who is able to charm the pants (literally) off many females in his life. Personally, I don’t get it, and I didn’t get why he was so attractive from the pages of this book. Of course, I’ve met guys like him who are able to mow down unsuspecting women, so I will never get it.

The ending is left up in the air, which left me annoyed. Did he finally get what was coming to him? Was he arrested? Did he end up with Charlie’s girlfriend, or someone else? Did he finally die so that women everywhere could breathe a sigh of relief? We will never know.

The other book I read was Missing Mom, by Joyce Carol Oates. This is the story of Nikki Eaton, who is a grown adult child slightly embarrassed and annoyed by her mother, that is, until mom ends up murdered on the garage floor the day after Mother’s Day. Nikki ends up living in the family home when her sister appears unable to help close up her affairs to put Mom’s house on the market. She painstakingly and slowly goes through her mother’s belongings, and in doing so, discovers that Mom was a completely different person than what she thought. Thirty-ish Nikki starts by taking her mother’s bread recipes and baking.

In the end, Nikki discovers just how like her mother she really is.

Oates does a great job with telling the tale, and with the exploration of what makes Nikki Eaton tick. This was a completely realistic read.

Okay, this one is a chick-lit read. Not a romance novel. The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky is about a random accident, poor choices, and the relationships between mother and daughter, mother and father and mother and sister. It was a quick read and interesting enough to hold my attention until I finished the book, always a plus. Was it deep? Not really. Sure, there was some depth with the weaving of the relationship story, but nothing that would give you a headache trying to figure out. This would be a perfect book for poolside reading, or if you’re trapped on an airplane.

Richard Brautigan’s A Confederate General from Big Sur was yesterday’s quick read. I found this on my bookshelf next to The Greening of America, which I’m still trying to re-read. Both books were purchased in the early 1970s. I’d almost forgotten how funny Richard Brautigan could be. There are several passages that are so hilariously funny, I laughed out loud.

A Confederate General from Big Sur is about the odyssey of a hippie in San Francisco in the late 1960s. He meets up with a supposed descendant of a Confederate general, the only one to have taken Big Sur. There are some misadventures, and both Jesse (the narrator) and the general (Lee Mellon) are a couple of goofs. These two are perfectly matched goofy bookends.

The book is short and easy to read. I completed it while a certain someone was enjoying his Father’s Day of US Open Golf.

This weekend I finished reading For One More Day, by Mitch Albom. Why this book is on anyone’s best seller list is beyond me, but for some reason it made it to the one with the New York Times.

The story, a down on his luck ex-baseball player crashes his car, and then travels to “heaven” to have one more day with his mom, who is deceased. As a child, he was neglectful, selfish and devious. He didn’t like his mother. He goes back and finds out that she wasn’t that bad of a person after all.

This book so reminds me of Dave’s Dream by Sandy Knauer. Her book came out before Albom’s, so I have to say she did it first.

While the storyline was ok, I didn’t like the writing. For some reason, I couldn’t get passed the first couple of chapters. Told from the baseball player’s point of view, the conversation and thoughts didn’t come off as being sincere. This weekend, I was tired of seeing the book there on my coffee table, so I forced myself to read it.

Now I wish I had skipped it all together.

Perhaps this is better as a movie. As a book, it was a disappointment.

I read this on the plane today: Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury.

I purchased this book from Sam’s Club, because I’m a fan of paying less than $4 for any book. I didn’t know that Karen Kingsbury is a “Christian” writer, but that’s okay. I found the book interesting enough to finish reading it in the four hours and 22 minutes I was in the air trapped in an airplane. The story revolves around three main characters, and it’s fairly well written. There are references to God and faith in God and lack of faith in God, but all these things were intrinsic to the story line and didn’t feel pompous and forced.

What do I think? It’s not a light romantic piece, which is normally what I read on long plane trips. There’s some drama, there’s some suspense. At the end, there are passages where I was reduced to weeping. All in all, I think it was worth the money.

Here’s what I read on the plane ride back: The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. It’s a New York Times bestseller, and was fairly entertaining. Chick book, all the way. There’s some weeping at the end of the book, but unlike the one above, there’s some bad things going on, ergo the weeping. Basically, this is a feel-good story of a bunch of mis-matched women who decide to knit on Friday nights. This wouldn’t be so strange, but they’re all in New York, a city where one doesn’t exactly conjure knitters in your mind.

April 2008: This is another that I read on the plane trip to LA. and the book was reviewed on another blogger’s page. I picked it up because the main character plays the violin, and I play the violin. The book is Catching Genius by Kristie Kiernan. Catching Genius is a little more than a romance novel. It’s along the lines of Beach Music, but told from the female perspective. Don’t expect a classic like that one, though. While the story is fairly artfully told, it’s a little fluffier, and an easy read. I managed to finish it an hour before the plane touched down. The main character is going through several emotional roller coasters all at once. Her husband is cheating on her (she knows it), her teenage son is reticent, the younger one has issues, her mother wants to sell the family beach house, and she hasn’t spoken to her sister in years. All of this gets worked out by the end of the story. What I got out of this? Change is scary, but good.

4 Responses

  1. I read “The Secret” recently. Basically, if I will something to be (i.e. economic prosperity, happiness, a faithful spouse, 20/20 vision, etc.) it will happen. It is an incredible concept and I think it is the solution to all of my problems. You really think you ought to check it out. Just don’t wish for anything that may conflict with my wishes, or I may have to wish for your demise. Sorry about harshing your mellow, but I wanted to make sure we are clear on that.

  2. Hey, I take all book recommendations, even if it’s out of my normal (what is “normal”?) reading material. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Hi,

    Just found your blog, and I can tell we are from the same generation from your list of musical influences. I grew up listening to my parents’ Broadway musical records too, and remember the first time the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. Have tway oo many musical favorites to list here, but am happy that music (and dancing) has always been a huge part of my life.

    Since I grew up in NY (Long Island to be exact), I’ll have to check out The Friday Night Knitting Club — thanks for the recommendation.

    A book I just read about Faron Young called “Live Fast, Love Hard” is one I highly recommend. He was a country music writer/performer whose life is described by the book title. He tragically died too young, but left a gift of some wonderful country music! I’m not a big fan of country music, but once I read this book, I became a fan of his. Kinda like when I saw “Walk the Line” it gave me a much greater appreication of Johnny Cash’s music, too. Anyway, you can find out more about the book here if you’re interested.

    Thanks again!


  4. I love how you did this. I haven’t read any of those books.

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