Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's on Your Nightstand: June 2014 Edition

The Best of June:

Ever wonder what it is like to enter an arranged marriage, albeit one where you do at least meet the man first? This book tells the story of Chani, the bride, and of the Rabbi and his wife, who are at a later stage in the life of such a marriage. The parents, the community, the memories--it is all so vivid and so real. From the ladies' wigs to the ritual baths they must take to the simple struggles of daily life, this story brings you into it  body and soul. Not to be missed.  I really, really hope there is a sequel. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris.

It's so hard not to gush about how lovely this book is! The rich cultural background, the decent hardworking family, the girl born of one culture raise in another, the simple everyday life that is happy--it all adds up to a total delight of a book Daria and her mother conduct the same dance all mothers and daughters do as old ways clash with new ways and independence threatens beloved dependence. Both have reached a time of questioning, a time of holding on while wanting to let go. Absolutley not to be missed. Together Tea by Marjan Kamali

Imagine HAVING to live social media--having every "like" measured as part of your job? Life in the cult-like Circle technology company is too good to be true. So much of this book rings so very true, that's what makes it both compelling reading and a tad creepy. The Circle by Dave Eggers.

Either this is a quirky, sweet, British version of the Penderwicks or the Penderwicks are an American Casson family! Love it! With artists for parents and almost total freedom (that is backed up by warmth, love and gentle admonishments when necessary), the four Casson children have fun lives. A perfect summer read for anyone over about age 8. If the others in the series are on audio, I'll be listening! Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay.

Part "Bridge on the River Kwai" part Sarah's Key part thriller, this book has it all. When greed and a young architect's ambition collide with ethics and morality in the middle of a war, there will be collateral damage. Is serving some of humanity enough? Not to be missed. The Parish Architect by Charles Belfoure

The REST of June:

I've had a run of "too-awful-to-finish" audio books, so my volume count is not very high this month. 

As a mom by adoption, albeit NOT from China, I was asked several times something like this: "Why didn't you just get one of those little Chinese girls? They seem to do well..." Like we were debating dog breeds. Anyway, due to the adoption story this book caught my eye. And at first it was excellent, but.......

...Is it me or does this book derail? Hmmmm... I get that Ari was smothered a bit at home. I get that she has angst about her beginnings (who wouldn't) but I don't get the big leap in the story that's I've discussed after the word SPOILER. And the big secret? I won't tell, but it didn't really seem that big of a deal to me. In fact in the context it seemed normal.

SPOILER!!!!  [I don't usually do this....] Who thinks it's a great idea for the adopted daughter of a woman whose affair with a man nearly ruins his marriage to meet up with his son from that marriage? Yeah. I didn't get it either......

Kathryn Ma writes very well. A former lawyer, she KNOWS lawyers and the practice of law. She could very easily give John Grisham a run for his money. That I did not put this in the "Best of June" is not a slap at her writing, but just that I couldn't agree with the story (the part after the SPOILER Alert). The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma.

Nice, easy read with the sort of characters you'd enjoy having as neighbors. Sharon Owens is one of my favorite contemporary authors when I want something pleasant and fun to read. The Ballroom on Magnolia Street by Sharon Owens.

Every year I pick a few books out of my comfort zone, a few I pick randomly, a few from that 1001 Books list and few "classics" that I've never read. I like to think this makes my reading "better rounded," if not exactly "well rounded." Faulkner has been on my list since that list we were given in high school--the one no one in my day bothered with (it was the 70s, ok?). I found this on the audio shelf and in desperation grabbed it. Hmmmmmmm. Non-linear story telling is not my favorite and this was probably made even more confusing by it being the audio version and that I was listening in a car with no AC. It IS everything Mrs. Dunn said it would be. The characters are vivid and memorable, the family dysfunction is disturbingly deserving of the title "legendary," and oh yes, there are racist sentiments (hardly surprising given the time and place of the story's setting.) It got a tad creepy, too. I suppose some day, when guilt and my own family dysfunction get the better of me I'll try another from Faulkner, but for now I'm "good" as we say here on the Ohio River. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.

Hard to imagine, but I did not finish a book on World War I in the year of its centenary!! This was a book right up my alley. But, try as I did, I could not finish it. I cannot recall the names of any of the five men profiled. Thankfully it was not written in the uber-glib hipster-does-history style that is so popular today, but it just didn't keep my interest. I've put it back on the list to give it a second try in print. Maybe it was just the audio that was doing  me in--that happens. You will recall I raved over Major Pettigrew's Last Stand? I hated it in print, loved it in audio. It happens. It should have interested me so it's worth a second try. Five Lieutenants.... by James Carl Nelson.

Want to what's on all the nightstands this month? 5 Minutes for Books is the place to go!


Susan said...

Oh my, you always find so many books that look good to me. All your "best of" choices look interesting, and I'm even intrigued enough with the adoption one that I didn't read past your spoiler ... hmmm ... I haven't read Faulkner either. Actually what you wrote about Sound and Fury kind of interests me!

Lisa notes... said...

Together Tea sounds interesting. Love how you describe it. I've heard of The Circle but haven't read it. I think I'll go get the sample now for my Kindle....Thanks for sharing!

bekahcubed said...

I've enjoyed lots of fluffy novels that include arranged marriages as plot devices - but The marrying of Chani Kaufman sound's like it's on a different (and wonderful) plane entirely. My library has a copy, so it's going on my TBR list. Thanks for the great review!

Tonia L said...

Your list looks so interesting! You have me adding books to my own library list.

Barbara H. said...

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman sounds really interesting. I've never read Faulkner, either - he doesn't sound like my cup of tea though I do enjoy exploring unknown classics sometimes.