Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I'm glad I finally got to read this literary classic.  I don't really know why I never read it growing up.  I had no idea what to expect and the story was unusual - a little too sci fi for my taste.  I'm sure it has lots of allegories and symbols, but I enjoyed reading it just for fun.  Not sure I will read the rest of the quintet anytime soon though!

Summary (from Amazon):
Everyone in town thinks Meg is volatile and dull-witted and that her younger brother Charles Wallace is dumb. People are also saying that their father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their new friend Calvin, embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father. In doing so they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time.

Young people who have trouble finding their place in the world will connect with the "misfit" characters in this provocative story. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep into their characters to find answers.

Read: April 2013 via CD borrowed from Jenny

Friday, April 19, 2013

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

My Mimi read this one and recommended it.  Books set in Asia aren't usually my thing, but I am glad I read it anyway.  Snow Flower and Lily are bound together as "old sames" by a matchmaker when they are little girls.  The novel explores the depths of friendship and the complexities of growing up.  I learned a lot about the Chinese culture and more than I wanted to know about foot-binding.  Definitely a good, memorable read.

Summary (from Amazon):
See's engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or "old sames") Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily's voice, See (Flower Net) adroitly transmits historical background in graceful prose. Her in-depth research into women's ceremonies and duties in China's rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women's inferior status in both their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters' foot binding ("Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace"), the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. Most impressive is See's incorporation of nu shu, a secret written phonetic code among women—here between Lily and Snow Flower—that dates back 1,000 years in the southwestern Hunan province ("My writing is soaked with the tears of my heart,/ An invisible rebellion that no man can see"). As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should become a reading group favorite as well. 

Read: April 2013 via gift from Mimi

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

With my undying love of all things British, I wanted to love this book.  I loved the idea of it - what happens if the Queen just hops on a train and takes a day off without telling anyone?  The story just wasn't what I thought it would be.  It had a lot more to do with the Queen's private staff trying to find the Queen before the press gets wind of her absence.  That part of the story had too much of a homosexual flair for my taste.  I wanted to like this book, but unfortunately, it just wasn't all that great.  Pass.

Read: March 2013 via library