Saturday, December 22, 2012


Daughters-in-LawDaughters-in-Law, by Joanna Trollope
I picked this book up at the library because I was stocking up on some lighter fiction to read after my brain/ear surgery. I've read a few Joanna Trollope books in the past (my mother-in-law likes her), but I hadn't read her for a number of years. I should have known better...I gave the last two books I read only two stars. This was definitely light, but it was not interesting. I wish I'd given up halfway in, but I finished it.

It's about a couple (Anthony and Rachel) who have three sons. Rachel struggles in her relationships with her daughter-in-laws. Her son Luke's wife Charlotte challenges her authority and their conflict spreads throughout the family. When Charlotte announces that she is pregnant, Rachel reacts in a rude, critical way. 

I asked my husband what he thinks about the British view of apologies. Luke calls his father Anthony to see if he will get his mother to apologize, and Anthony is horrified that Luke would suggest that, even though they all agree that Rachel was in the wrong. This seemed preposterous to me. 

The characters were shallow and unmemorable, and very little happens in the plot. Trollope is known for writing about relationships, but the relationships in this book are shallow and weak. The brothers cannot be distinguished from each other, and Rachel rarely interacts with her daughters-in-law in the book. 

Trollope said she wanted to write about the relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law because she believes they are more difficult than relationships with sons-in-law. But this book missed the mark.

Some light reads are enjoyable or memorable, but this book is neither. It was a waste of time.

Best books of 2012

With my book group (and our holiday book exchange)
Here are the best books I read in 2012. Click the title to read my review. These are listed in approximate order of how much I liked them (#1 being the best). I'd love to hear what you thought of any of these books. If you've read any, please leave me a comment.

You can also refer to best books lists back to 2001 here. Enjoy!

This is cross-posted in Every Day Is a Miracle.

1.  The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer
2.  The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
3.  Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork
4.  Wonder, R.J. Palacio
5.  Sing You Home, Jodi Picoult
6.  The Casual Vacancy, J.K Rowling
7.  All Passion Spent, Vita Sackville West
9.  The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom
10. The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings
11. This Beautiful Life, Helen Schulman
12. Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane
13. Everyone Is Beautiful, Katherine Center
14. Naoko, Keigo Higashino
15. The Wishing Trees, John Shors
16. The Girl Next Door, Elizabeth Noble
17. Song Yet Sung, James McBride
18. Second Fiddle, Rosanne Parry
19. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth Hoffman
20. Shine, Lauren Myracle
21. Glow, Jessica Maria Tuccelli
22. The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
23. How It All Began, Penelope Lively
24. The Book of Dahlia, Elisa Albert
25. The Treasure Map of Boys, E. Lockhart

8. Crazy Enough, Storm Large
13. Poster Child, Emily Rapp
14. Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
15. Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch
17. You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up, Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Lacuna

The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver

I had to give up on this one. I got up to page 207, after putting it down to read a lighter book group selection, and tried to pick it up again. I will never forget my delight in reading my first Barbara Kingsolver novel (The Bean Trees) back before she was very well known. I have loved so many of her novels.

I am interested in Mexico, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera and loved a biography of Frida I read several years ago. So I really, really wanted to stick this one out. But I must give up.

I just can't get connected or drawn in.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Treasure Map of Boys

The Treasure Map of Boys, by E. Lockhart

I read this book because my book group chose it for this month. We didn't have much time between book group meetings, because they very kindly moved up the meeting by one week so I could attend. (Otherwise I would have missed it because of my impending surgery.) What I didn't know until I read the reviews was that this was the third in a series!

I'm one of those people who really, really likes to start with the first book in a series. So after I got over my unsettled feelings I finally settled into the book. I put down The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver to read this, and it was much, much more readable than that tome. I usually love Kingsolver but it's taking me forever to slog through The Lacuna.

I don't read much young adult (YA), but from what I understand from my middle-grade writer husband, YA is often full of a lot of angst and dysfunctional relationships. Ruby Oliver, the protagonist, struggles with making and keeping friends and has a lot of stress around relationships with boys. In the book preceding this one, Ruby's boyfriend Jackson takes up with one of her friends, and she becomes what she believes is a social pariah. (It's not really as bad as she makes it out to be, though.) In this book, Jackson is back in the picture again, possibly. Reading this book made me SO GLAD I do not ever have to do high school or junior high ever again.

Ruby's parents are well-meaning hippies, and she actually does have some friends worth keeping. The stories about her teachers and baking were amusing...also her time working in the Birkenstocks store at Pike Place Market. (After reading about her adventures fitting bare feet into Birkenstocks, of all sizes, shapes, and smells, I realized that I could NEVER do that!)

But who goes to the Pike Place Market to buy supplies for a bake sale? That seemed completely unrealistic for local Seattle high schoolers! Ruby is a smart, well-meaning girl, and she really doesn't want to screw up her friendships, but somehow she has a knack for that.

After I said that I don't read much YA, I now realize that this is actually the fourth or fifth YA book I've read all year...and it was fine but it's my least favorite. The others--Wonder, Marcelo in the Real World, and Shine--focused on much more serious issues, and this was like marshmallow fluff in comparison. It was a good distraction from the current stress in my life...a cute read...but not sure I will be reading any more of the series. There's just not enough here to draw me back in.

Now I'm back into The Lacuna for awhile...but when I go into the hospital I'm planning to wade into something much lighter!