Daily Archives: May 31, 2008

Book Binge


May 5 – May 31, 2008

This one seemed like a no-brainer to me. Mary at It’s Not All Mary Poppins is hosting her annual Book Binge whereby readers simply track the books they read this month and then post about them. The goal is to read as much as you can. The rules are flexible. I’ll be listing my books from May on this post with links to my reviews.

I read 8 books in May. Below are the books I read, their ratings, and links to my reviews.

1. Independent People, by Halldor Laxness

Number of Pages: 482
Started: April 26, 2008
Finished: May 5, 2008
Read my review.

2. The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman

Number of Pages: 323
Started: May 6, 2008
Finished: May 12, 2008
Read my review.

3. The Bright Side Of Disaster, by Katherine Center

Number of Pages: 245
Started: May 13, 2008
Finished: May 14, 2008
Read my review.

4. Laughing Without An Accent, by Firoozeh Dumas

Number of Pages: 223
Started: May 15, 2008
Finished: May 17, 2008
Read my review.

5. Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult

Number of Pages: 455
Started: May 17, 2008
Finished: May 21, 2008
Read my review.

6. Other Voices Other Rooms, by Truman Capote

Number of Pages: 231
Started: May 22, 2008
Finished: May 25, 2008
Read my review.

7. Songs For The Missing, by Stewart O’Nan

Number of Pages: 287
Started: May 25, 2008
Finished: May 27, 2008
Read my review.

8. Before You Know Kindness, by Chris Bohjalian

Number of Pages: 422
Started: May 28, 2008
Finished: May 31, 2008
Read my review.

Themed Challenge – My Picks and Progress

January 1 – June 30, 2008

May 31, 2008 – CHALLENGE WRAP UP:

I completed this challenge tonight – I ended up reading two from my primary list and two from my alternate list. My favorite read of the challenge was a toss up between Nineteen Minutes and Lost and Found. The best part of this challenge is it got me to read books from my TBR pile which have been languishing there for awhile. I am planning to host this challenge again next year!


Since I’m hosting this challenge, I thought I’d better post my books. If you want to participate, go here to sign up.

My theme is: Books Set in New England

I’ve chosen four (4) books with four different New England settings: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts. And I have three alternates or extras.

1. The World Below, by Sue Miller (COMPLETED April 26, 2008; rated 3.5/5; read my review)
2. Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult (COMPLETED May 21, 2008; rated 4.5/5; read my review)
3. Halfway House, by Katherine Noel
4. In The Fall, by Jeffrey Lent


1. Before You Know Kindness, by Chris Bohjalian (COMPLETED May 31, 2008; rated 4/5; read my review)
2. Lost and Found, by Jacqueline Sheehan (COMPLETED April 21, 2008; rated 4.5/5; read my review)
3. Blaze, by Richard Bachman

Before You Know Kindness – Book Review

All households had their mysteries, their particular forms of dysfunction. -From Before You Know Kindness, page 177-

The Seton and McCullough families are close…and every year they meet in New Hampshire at matriarch Nan Seton’s summer home to spend Memorial Day weekend together. Nan is in her seventies but “vigorous,” and her constant activity (whether it be swimming, golfing or mowing the lawn) drives these family reunions. But when thirteen year old Charlotte finds her Uncle John’s deer hunting rifle and discharges it into the garden on the last day of July, everything changes.

In the opening paragraphs of Chris Bohjalian’s novel Before You Know Kindness,  the reader learns that Charlotte’s father, Spencer McCullough – a fanatical vegan animal rights activist – is on the receiving end of his daughter’s shot into the dark. Seriously injured with a crippling arm injury, he is forced to re-examine his life and priorities…and the repercussions of that night will reverberate throughout the family.

Bohjalian is one of my favorite writers because he is skilled at creating gripping story lines and delving deep into his characters’ psyches. In Before You Know Kindness, Bohjalian examines the cracks which lie beneath the surface of a family, and how those cracks can become deep fissures on the heels of one tragic event. Thematically, the novel explores the political argument of gun control and animal rights…and on a more personal level, deals with the ideas of secrets, narcissism, and family relationships.

As a physical therapist, I was pulled into the psychological tension of the novel which develops as a result of a physically devastating accident – how does a person deal with a life-altering disability which has the power to either strengthen or destroy relationships? All of us have the choice to be angry or forgiving in the face of tragedy – what is it that makes us chose one over the other?

Bohjalian’s prose is honest, searing and compelling. Before You Know Kindness is ultimately a story of redemption and the power of forgiveness.


48 Hour Reading Challenge

June 6 – 8, 2008

Mother Reader at The Heart of a Mother, The Soul of a Reader is hosting the third annual 48- hour book challenge. For those of you unfamiliar with this challenge, participants commit to 48 hours of reading, reviewing and blogging – a marathon of sorts! The rules are simple:

  • Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the sixth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday.
  • The books should be about fifth-grade level and up. Adult books are fine, especially if any adult book bloggers want to play.
  • For promotion/solidarity purposes, let your readers know when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day. Write your final summary on Monday, and for one day, we’ll all be on the same page, so to speak.
  • Your final summary needs to clearly include the number of books read, the approximate hours you spent reading/reviewing, and any other comments you want to make on the experience.
I’ve decided to participate this year as a warm up to Dewey’s 24 Hour Reading Challenge coming up at the end of the month. I’ll be starting the 48 hour Reading Challenge on Friday afternoon – probably around 4:00pm PCT, but will create an introductory post (or add onto this one) to give the exact time when I start.

Remembering Nattie…

thinkingnat.jpg The world of book blogging is not as big as one might think. I have met so many wonderful people through the blogs and especially through participation in reading challenges. And that is how I met Nattie…a single mom with a passion for books and a beautiful smile. I didn’t know her for long, but she touched my heart. Sadly, Nattie left this world far too early on June 7, 2007 at the age of 33. As a tribute to Nattie and as a way to keep her memory alive through the love of books, Heather has established The Nattie Challenge blog where she hosts reading challenges dedicated to Nattie.

This month a new challenge has been posted. The Thinking of Nat Challenge encourages readers to read a book which reminds them of Nattie; and to give away a book in her name.

I am going to read one (or both) of the following books for this challenge:

  1. The Amateur Marriage, by Anne Tyler (which was a Nattie pick for the Something About Me Challenge)
  2. The Bright Side of Disaster, by Katherine Center (a book focused on motherhood) – COMPLETED May 14, 2008; rated 4.5/5; read my review.


I had thought about reading both books for this challenge, but given that in the last 2 weeks ARCs have been arriving on my doorstep much faster than I can read them, I’m going to wrap up this challenge having read The Bright Side of Disaster…and having given away TWO books. This was a wonderful challenge because it was in memory of Nattie. I am always blown away by the generosity and caring of the book world. Catherine Center stepped up and donated a signed edition of her book; many comments got posted about Nattie…and I kept thinking how pleased Nattie would have been to see the beauty of the human spirit in her name.