Monthly Archives: January 2012

Ski Weekend Minus The Skiing

Mount Snow, VermontToday I’m off to Vermont for the weekend. Some friends and I have stumbled upon the use of a ski house. There’s just one small catch – I don’t ski.

As a family, we Beermans were much more beach vacationers than cold weather vacationers. I skied for the first time senior year of college and five-year-olds flew past me on the mountain. It was then that I decided sometimes you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Nevertheless, this has not deterred me from my ski weekend. While most of the girls ski, a few friends and I will be reading, relaxing, and probably drinking plenty of wine. It sounds perfect to me. I look forward to finishing Catching Fire while sitting next to an actual fire and watching the snow (or more likely slush?) come down.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend everyone!

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Next Up: Starting Out Sideways

Starting Out SidewaysEven though I’m in the middle of a book (yay Hunger Games!) and have a few others lined up, it’s never too early to start thinking about what’s next from my mom’s list. I’ll be picking up Mary E. Mitchell’s Starting Out Sideways as soon as I get a chance.

The book follows the story of Roseanna Plow whose husband has just cheated on her with her best friend. On top of that injustice, Rosie faces parental problems, job stress, and unlikely romance. The official description says, “With laugh-out-loud scenes seamlessly interspersed among gut-wrenching moments of heartache, Starting Out Sideways is a unique and utterly delightful novel that will make you laugh, cry, and remember what’s truly important in life.”

So yes, it sounds kind of like typical women’s fiction, but many women’s fiction titles do well for a reason. They are moving and fun and can keep an audience hooked. I’m looking forward to all of this…and more.

Catching Up With Catching Fire

Catching FireSince I finished Disquiet in just a few days, I figured I had a little time to fit in one more quick read before moving on to the book club book The Art of Fielding and whatever is next on my mom’s list. So, I’ve finally managed to get to the next Hunger Games book Catching Fire. I’ve only been talking about reading it for months.

But what really pushed me into starting Catching Fire is that Andrew is reading it now too. He read the Hunger Games last week and loved it and moved on right away to the next in the series. His enthusiasm was contagious. It reminded me that I too really enjoyed the first book and had been meaning to get to the second. Plus, this may be the first time Andrew and I have ever read the same book around the same time. We could talk about it! It’s so fun. (Please don’t judge my definition of fun.)

Plus, I’m afraid if I don’t read it at the same time, Andrew might accidentally reveal something important from the book. And I can’t have that.

A Review of Disquiet

DisquietIt feels like just a couple days ago that I was posting about reading Disquiet next. Oh wait, that’s because it was.

As I mentioned then, Disquiet is short. It is in fact a novella rather than a novel so it moves quickly.

The reviews I read of Disquiet called it “haunting” and I agree. The writing is beautiful, expertly creating a creepy and sad atmosphere. However, despite the sad atmosphere and sad events, I never felt sad reading it. That’s because author Julia Leigh takes a detached approach to her characters. While they are all given names, these names are rarely used. Instead, they are referred to as “the woman,” “the boy,” and “the girl.” This distance adds to the “haunting” quality but makes it hard to feel anything for these people.

It may be pedestrian of me, but good writing only takes me so far. I need a little in the way of plot. And there is potential for plot here. A woman has fled her abusive husband with her children to come to her family home which she ran away from years ago. Her brother also returns with his wife who is emotionally unable to bury their stillborn child. Yet with all these possible complex arcs very little is explained or resolved, and it all remains very much removed from the reader. I’m sure that’s what the author was going for, it’s just not my taste in reading.

A Review of Dark at the Roots (Sorta)

Dark at the RootsThe other day I noticed I hadn’t yet crossed Sarah Thyre’s Dark at the Roots off my mom’s list on the right side of this page. I could have sworn I’d written a review, which is when I typically cross them off and add a link. I did a search. No review.

I was so sure I’d written a review that I could almost remember what it said. Turns out I just wrote it in my head I guess. Unfortunately, I read the book more than a month ago so those words in my head are a little faded by now. Thus this “review” will be more a quick summary of the few thoughts and opinions I can recall.

So here goes…

Because of my mom’s list, I’ve read quite a bit of memoirs lately. Dark at the Roots does not rank as one of my favorites. Sarah and her family are certainly quirky. However, the stories about them ramble, and one does not necessarily lead naturally into the next. There is no cohesiveness or greater whole. By the end of the book, I had been amused by many of the tales, but I didn’t understand her family any better than when I had started.

Overall, a family I want to spend a few entertaining chapters with, but not an entire book.

Next Up: Disquiet

Wow, I haven’t had a “Next Up” post in a while. It’s been more than a month since I started a new book from my mom’s list and it’s about time I get back to it.

I decided to jump back in with Julia Leigh’s Disquiet mostly because it is short. DisquietNormally this isn’t my only criteria, but seeing as it comes on the heels of the very long Dovekeepers and probably right before I start the very long The Art of Fielding, it seemed like a good idea to break up the behemoths with something a little briefer. Plus it was one of the few non-memoir choices.

Here’s the overview:

Olivia arrives at her mother’s chateau in rural France (the first time in more than a decade) with her two young children in tow. Soon the family is joined by Olivia’s brother Marcus and his wife Sophie—but this reunion is far from joyful. After years of desperately wanting a baby, Sophie has just given birth to a stillborn child, and she is struggling to overcome her devastation. Meanwhile, Olivia wrestles with her own secrets about the cruel and violent man she married many years before. Exquisitely written and reminiscent of Ian McEwan and J. M. Coetzee, Disquiet is a darkly beautiful and atmospheric story that will linger in the mind long after the final page is turned.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Submission Is Complete

The SubmissionLast weekend I finished my first full book of 2012. I’m going to have to pick up the pace if I want to beat last year’s total number of books read, but it was a great way to start.

I read The Submission by Amy Waldman which I had been meaning to get to for months. Well it was worth the wait! The Submission is fiction and takes place two years after September 11th. A jury has been convened to judge anonymous submissions for the design of a memorial site. But when the design that wins turns out to be from a Muslim chaos ensues. Told from the perspective of the architect, relatives of the victims, a reporter, and more, The Submission explores the complex issues and feelings that the submission evokes.

It is very well-done and I really enjoyed it. The topic is a rich one, but the issues didn’t take away from the story. I think it would make a great book club book. Unfortunately, I came to this conclusion a few days after already choosing The Art of Fielding, but it’s good to keep in mind for the future.

I have to say that my New Year’s resolution to read more quality books is already panning out.