Monday, January 21, 2013


I haven't updated my books for quite awhile. Here's the rundown on the latest of my reads.
Night Circus was a really different kind of book - and I liked that.  In this book magicians are not illusionists but real magicians who use a circus as the means to display their talent and compete with one another to create amazing things.  The book grabbed my interest right away and kept me wondering exactly what is going on. There was splendor and intrigue and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  (*Available on kindle through my library).
Set in the Antebellum US, Soul Catcher follows a slave catcher as he tracks down a gorgeous and strong willed runaway slave.  The book did a solid job of speaking to the attitudes of Southerners of that time and explained the diverse attitudes of that time via the storyline.  There were a few moments of modern political correctness, but on the whole it stayed historically true,which was what I liked so much about it.  There was some rough language, etc. but it felt representative of the story being told. 
I LOVED this one! As a sociologist who has focused on gender issues, Cinderella Ate My Daughter was right up my alley.  This non-fiction, yet humorous book examines modern culture, focusing specifically on how younger girls learn and express gender.  Orenstein addresses marketing, media and parenting.  She discussed Toddlers and Tiaras, Disney movies, mothering groups, as well as academic studies that were so insightful I referred to them in the soc. class I teach (like how women's math scores decrease after trying on swim suits).  Stuff like that fascinates me! I devoured the book.   LOVED it!  (*Available on kindle through my library).
Girl in Translation follows a recently immigrated Chinese mother and daughter who are fighting to pull themselves out of extreme poverty.  It's a fascinating look into the awful state of the weak and vulnerable immigrant population trapped working in illegal conditions in the garment industry.   Luckily the daughter Kimberly is incredibly bright and opportunities present themselves by virtue of her talent. The book is fiction, but based on the author's experiences as a Chinese immigrant.  It was ultimately hopeful and a captivating and quick read.  (*Available on kindle through my library).
I was a big fan of Mad About You and had thoroughly enjoyed Reiser's earlier books Couplehood and  Babyhood.  When I saw he had another book out I jumped at it.  It was the perfect vacation read - light and funny with several touching and poignant parts.  I loved reading about his two boys (one with special needs) in his honest and loving voice.  I recommend it! (*Available on kindle through my library).
The historian in me was drawn to When Everything Changed.  This non-fiction text examines how women in the US have gained economic and political strength over the last fifty years.  The first chunk of the book details life for women in the 1960s (that part alone was worth the read) and then continues though to today.  Collins addressed the overlap with the Civil Rights Movement, legal issues, how abortion works into the debate, etc. It's a history book for sure, but the author avoids dryness by sharing story after story of the women who fought for equality.  As I was reading, I was constantly sharing with Diamond the things I was learning and I wish I had a hard copy to write on and keep in my library.  I doubt this book is for everyone, but I enjoyed it. (*Available on kindle through my library).
Ladies Auxiliary takes the reader inside a small, southern and totally Orthodox Jewish town.  Despite all of that, I related to so very much of the novel.  Mirvis breaks down the social dynamics of a group of women thrown into each others lives by virtue of geography and faith - in other words, a Mormon ward.  I could envision each character as someone I knew and I thought the author did an outstanding job of addressing the "what's culture and what's doctrine" debate that I find myself fighting regularly.  Ladies Auxiliary is a quick and easy read that I would totally recommend. 
Jane Eyre is a classic - which is pretty much the only reason I read it. I didn't really connect to the novel.  Jane's a little too perfect.  Mr. Rochester bugged me.  It moved a little slow.  The language was a little too descriptive for my tastes, etc.  I don't regret reading it, but I didn't love it.  (*Available on kindle through my library).
Unnatural Selection is a non fiction book that marries the sociologist with the historian as it explains both the causes and effects of sex selecting for boys throughout the world.  There are startling pieces of information (for example, the world is missing over 600 million women - the total number of all American females, from sex selective abortion).  The first third gives the history and driving forces and the last third addresses the startling and fascinating impacts (the middle third? not my favorite).  This is probably another book that many people might not take to, but I love books that explore these types of issues.  (*Available on kindle through my library).
Newbury gave an honorable mention to Breaking Stalin's Nose, a children's book which depicts Stalin's Soviet Union from the perspective of a young boy.  When the secret police suddenly take Sasha's father into custody, our hero becomes disillusioned by a government that is far from the ideal system he had always believed in.   It's super short and does a good job of showing life in Russia. 
My friend Christine is a big fan of the Gallagher Girls series, so I thought I would give it a try.  It's youth fiction, light and easy.  This first book in the series, tells of young Cammie who is a super smart spy-in-training that falls for a local boy.  She uses the spy skills she has learned in her all girl's spy academy to managed this new and unfamiliar relationship.  It's silly, it's cute, it's fun, but  I'm not sure if I'll read any more of the series. 
This is one of those free kindle books from amazon that I downloaded just to have something on my kindle to read.  A divorcee moves into a new home only to find that her next door neighbor is a famous author who she hates at first but is engaged to before the story ends.  It's predictable, but not a bad read.  It takes place the week before Christmas and is set in Salt Lake City.  It feels like a Mormon author, but there is nothing so completely overt that it becomes a "Mormon book". Fluff for sure.  Fine enough for something to read the week before Christmas.
I took Remember Me? on our Bahama's cruise for a fun and light read.  Kinsella didn't let me down.  After an accident leaves Lexi with a brain injury which prevents her from remembering the last five years, she finds her 'new' life to be completely different than the life she remembers.  It seems as if Lexi won the lottery with her handsome husband, fancy flat and impressive job.  However, she quickly finds out that her new life isn't quite so simple.  Fluff for sure, but I enjoyed it.  (*Available on kindle through my library).

I also hosted Okay for Now for my book club, so I reread that.  Still love it.  (Although for me it seems books are never quite as good the second time around). 

My favorites of this group would be Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Ladies Auxiliary and Girl in Translation.  Enjoy!


Jenni said...

Great reviews! I really need to read Cinderella Ate My Daughter - it sounds so interesting!

Anonymous said...

Heya just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why but I think its a linking
issue. I've tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

My blog post quantrim slimming