Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Bibliophile's Life will be migrated to a new Wordpress blog, under a different name, Word Stained Paper.  I hope those of you who have been following me here on The Bibliophile's Life will make the journey with me to my new site.

The content here will be put in draft mode as it is migrated over.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Belonging to Onself: The Mermaid Chair

The Mermaid Chair is the story of Jessie Dubois Sullivan, a 42-year-old woman who finds herself called back to her childhood home on Egret Island, South Caroline to deal with a crisis with her mother, Nelle. Despite wanting noting more to leave the island when she was younger and being somewhat estranged from her mother for the last several years, Jessie finds herself rushing back to her island home not only to care for her mother but also because she feels not only the need to leave but also relief at leaving her husband Hugh of 20 years.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tightly Layered Crime Drama: The Black Echo By Michael Connelly

The Black Echo is the first book in Connelly's popular series featuring Harry Bosch, a world-weary detective. Connelly introduces us to Bosch just after he has been transferred to the Hollywood Division, a division that no-one really wants to work in and for many is a career-ending division or the division to simply ride it out in until retirement. Bosch is one of those characters who wants to be a good cop but who sometimes slightly bends the rules or goes against the popular opinion of the "police family"; thus, he often draws more trouble to and for himself. (Bosch, in other words, is not "Dirty Harry-esque" but might remind readers of some of the detectives on the ever popular Law and Order series.) Harry is very much a loner both on the job and in his personal life.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Push: Powerful, Gritty and Well-Worth The Read

Push is the story of Claireece Precious Jones, an overweight, sexually and physically abused, teenager who finds herself pregnant for the second time with her father's child, told from her perspective. Precious is illiterate, and until she is enrolled in an alternative school and meets a passionate teacher, Ms. Blue Rain, Precious feels like she is invisible and has no voice: "I wanna say I am somebody. I wanna say it on subway, TV movie, LOUD. I see the pink faces in suits look over top of my head. I watch myself disappear in their eyes, their tesses. I talk loud but I still don't exist" (31).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quick Yet Enjoyable Mystery

A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Book 1)~~ Dana Stabenow
3 stars

A park ranger goes missing in the interior of Alaska.  Then, the investigator who is sent in search of him also goes missing.  The Anchorage District Attorney's office turns to former investigator Kate Shugak, a woman haunted by her own demons, to search for them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rereading a Timeless Classic: Where The Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are was one of my favorite books from childhood. I can remember checking it out of the library over and over again. I was sure I would wear out our library's copy sooner or later.

As an adult, I still love this book; plus I developed a new appreciation for it when I began reading it to my son practically from the day he was born. I watched him, as a baby, listen to the rhythm of the words as I read, and as he grew into a toddler, I watched him become enthralled with the illustrations, which I also still love. I love that the illustrations of the monsters have an almost mythological quality to them. I can see Gryphons in the wild thing with the eagle-like head, even though he has no lion's body.

Now, at nine, this is still one of my son's favorite books. We read it together often, as we just did again yesterds, and giggle at the rhythm of the words, especially at the "terrible roars", "terrible teeth", "terrible eyes", and "terrible claws" parts.

My favorite thing about this book is how it is such a lovely example of the power of imagination, both on the part of Max, the boy in the book and the author, Maurice Sendak, but also for the readers who can typically see themselves in the book, no matter the age of the reader. To me, this book is timeless.

5 of 5 stars 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where the Flame Tree Blooms: A Memoir

Where the Flame Tree Blooms is a collection of stories used to create a vivid memoir of Ada's childhood in Cuba. Some of the stories she includes are small vignettes of events from her childhood; others are stories of her family that were told to her by her grandmother and great-grandmother about their childhood and young adulthood in Cuba.

Ada paints a vivid picture of the not only the landscape of the area she lived in but of the cultural landscape of Cuba during her childhood. There is such an intimate quality about the stories that I felt like I was transported to Ada's childhood and was hearing these stories at the knee of her grandmother or sitting beneath the roots of the flame tree with a Ada as a young girl. She brings the members of her family to life on the page with her vibrant descriptions of their physical features, their dress, and their mannerisms. Each story brings into focus the compassion and strength of the people Ada writes about, and what stands out most about each of the characters is their zest for life.

Sings The Soul of a Poet

Are you looking for a book that speaks to the child within?  Or a book that speaks to your soul?  Well, Poetry Speaks to Children is definitely one of those books.

After reading it, I thought the book was a great selection. And then, I listened to the accompanying CD. Let me tell you, the CD makes the book a true gem of a find.

Overall, the book is filled with wonderful poems by a variety of poets, including J.R.R. Tolkien, Nikki Giovanni, Margaret Walker, Lewis Carroll, Agha Shahid Ali, W.B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Rita Dove, and X. J. Kennedy, among others. The poems range from the whimsical and the funny to the more serious.

While the book itself is wonderful, the CD truly does make this a fantastic read/listen. There is simply something wonderful about listening to Robert Frost read his "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" or listening to Nikki Giovanni tell us "Reasons Why I like Chocolate" and then listening to her read three of her other poetry selections included in this piece: "Trips", "Mommies", and "Knoxville, Tennessee". Equally fantastic is listening to Langston Hughes explain when and why he wrote "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and then go on to read the poem.

Of the selections included on the CD, my absolute favorite was hearing J.R.R. Tolkien read "Frodo's Song in Bree", which was from The Fellowship of the Ring. Another favorite was listening to Joy Harjo read "Eagle Poem", a Native American song.

While the poetry selections included on the CD were wonderful, I found myself wishing that others, specifically Margaret Wise Brown's "The Secret Song" and versus from "The Elephant's Child" by Rudyard Kipling, had also been included on the CD.

Overall, however, this book is simply fantastic. And it's just as wonderful for an adult read as it is a children's read.

Twilight: A Review

I can honestly say that I was hesitant to read this book because of all the publicity and hype it have received. I was afraid that they hype was just that--hype--and the book wouldn't live up to my expectations. I started reading around 11:30 p.m. and the next thing I knew it was 6:00 a.m.; I had finished the book. I just couldn't put it down because I got drawn into the story.

Like many readers, I was, at first, a little put off by Bella stating how beautiful Edward was over and over again. (I think after the 3rd time readers probably got the idea that the man is perfection in physical beauty.) However, the characters were so well sketched and their flaws so real that I couldn't help being intrigued by them. And yes, even Edward, who is perfect to Bella, has some "character" flaws, which is what I think makes him a realistic and believable character. The human qualities of emotions and desires that Meyer has given Edward and his family make them work well as characters. The only character that I found slightly annoying was Renee, Bella's mother, who really does play a very minor role in the book.

For a teenage paranormal romance, I also think the plot works well and does a good job of conveying many of the primary anxieties of high school and teenage relationships/romances without being overly angst-ridden. Meyer does an especially good job of sketching out what it feels like, from the character's perspective, of being an outsider in a small town. I think she does a good job of this from both Bella and the Cullen's perspectives.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Left Neglected--A Review

Left Neglected ~~ Lisa Genova
3  of 5 stars

Left Neglected is the story of Sarah, a workaholic, type A personality mother and wife who has an all-consuming job at which she works nearly 80 hours a week. Her husband is much the same, and neither of them seem to have time for much other than their jobs, until Sarah has an accident in which she suffers a traumatic brain that results in a condition known as left neglect. For Sarah, "the left" doesn't exist--the left side of her body, anything to her left. She must relearn many things, including how to walk, how to read, and how to be.

Genova does a great job of immersing us in Sarah's world, especially in her job and her marriage and family-life (or lack thereof) before her accident.  I think that that Genova also does an exceptional job of immersing the reader into Sarah's word post-accident by placing us in Sarah's head. The details with which Genova explains the condition of left neglect and brings us, as readers, into Sarah's rehabilitation are part of what make this book worth reading.

While the story is certainly attention-holding and well-written, I found myself wanting to like Left Neglect more than I actually did. I found myself wanting more from the book and not really liking Sarah or her husband very much. I had a hard time connecting with her and her husband as characters, perhaps because I found myself gritting my teeth every time Sarah mentioned how much her work life would be easier if they could just afford a bigger house so they could have a 5th bedroom for a live-in nanny. I found myself distinctly disliking her as a mother.
Further, I really felt like that parts of the book were rushed, especially the ending.  I was really disappointed in what I felt like was a very contrived situation that was worked in at the end of the book as a plot device.  It's almost as if Genova couldn't figure out a way to wrap up Sarah's story as she began to make gains in her recovery and reshape her life as she finally determined what was really important in her life.