Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Back from Florida and lots of reading!

We're back from a week in Florida at Grandma's house!  We had all kinds of plans to see all sorts of things, but really we just went swimming...

...and read lots of books.
There was some beach in there too.

The Cobbler and I decided to just let the kids run the show and swimming and going to the beach was all they wanted to do.  But isn't that what vacation is all about anyway?

I did a lot of sitting in the sun with a book in hand and ended up with two hits and one rotten tomato.   First, I read Never Let Me Go which was my book club's pick for February's meeting.
The book, set in the 1990s,  is about three friends who grow up living at a boarding school in England.  You meet the narrator, Kathy, at the beginning of the book and she introduces herself as someone who has the occupation of a "carer."  She then reminisces about her school days with her two friends Tommy and Ruth---the twists and turns in their relationships and where that has led the three of them to today.  I don't want to say too much about the plot because it will give away the element of surprise if you choose to read it.  Don't you dare go near an Amazon review or a movie website (it was made into a movie starring Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in 2010) if you don't want it spoiled!  What I will say is that the book was paced great, the plot was teased out in a compelling way, and it has a medical ethics question that's left hanging at the end of the book.  I found the author's style to be refreshing because he doesn't spoon feed the reader.  For example, Kathy's narrative assumes that you already know what "a carer" is and other plot points are revealed in the same way---the characters assume that you, as the reader, already know what they're talking about.  You have to discover the truth for yourself.  In the end, this was not a vacation read.  I was left thinking about a lot of ethical questions which would have been great if I wasn't sunning myself and trying to have a good time.  Overall, it's a good read that I can recommend.

I wish I could burn the second book I read.  I gave my grandmother two books as her birthday gift --- The Three Weissmanns of Westport and I Still Dream About You.  What I knew about them was the first was supposed to be a modern take on Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and the second came highly recommended by some of the folks in the 52 books in 52 weeks group.  My grandma's a fast reader and read The Three Weissmanns of Westport first.  She dubbed it "different," which in grandma language means it sucked.  My grandma tends to be a little...ahem...conservative about other races, religions, and sexual preferences.  She kept saying how the family was Jewish so I thought maybe that was her issue.  I decided to try reading it anyway.  It started out okay.  Instead of the Mr. Dashwood character dying, he left the mom for another woman from his office and then files for divorce.  The mother and the two daughters go down to a cousin's house on the coast in Connecticut to live while the divorce plays out.  The plot was initially quite a bit like Sense and Sensibility.  Instead of the death, you get a divorce.  Instead of an ankle sprain, you have a kayaking accident that the Marianne character needs saving from.  But then the author took it a little too far.  Let's put it this way --- Marianne doesn't get with Colonel Brandon.  Marianne, who was completely heterosexual up to this point, ends up with Willoughby's ex-wife.  It was completely out of left field, and I'm surprised my grandma wasn't ranting about the lesbians instead of the Jews.  Maybe she is getting more liberal in her old age?  This book could have been good, but in the end it doesn't even remotely come close to holding a candle to the original.

I gave the Cobbler The Hunger Games for his birthday again on the recommendation of the some of the folks in the 52 in 52 group.  He read it while we in Florida, and I started reading it on the way back on the plane.  I could not put it down!  This book is set in Panem, a country in the former United States, at some point in the near future.  In the beginning, Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim are preparing for the annual reaping.  The reaping is a lottery in which one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts of Panem are selected to take part in the Hunger Games--- an event when they are placed in an arena for a fight to the death with only one winner.  When Prim is selected as the female participant from District 12, Katniss offers herself up as her replacement.  This book moves at a break neck speed from start to finish.  There is violence, there are some yucky wound descriptions, there is the requisite love triangle, and there are some wild action sequences that I didn't anticipate.  Both the Cobbler and I enjoyed it.  There was one scene that we both found a bit far fetched, but it is set in the future so I suppose who knows what could happen!  I can't wait to see the movie (it comes out next month!) and read the other two books in the trilogy.

Much more has happened since we returned home, but that will have to wait for another day.
Happy reading!


Jenny said...

I'm going to read The Hunger Games when I got to visit MY grandma in a couple of weeks. :)

Jenny said...

So we ended up getting the Hunger Games and my husband and son took it with them to the ski lodge last weakened. Unfortunately, my husband only had 50 pages to go Sunday night, the same night as the Downtown Abbey season finale. Arg! He chose the book of course, and I had to wait a few days to see the end of the Mary/Mathew drama.