{Bookshelf} November ’11

by Leighann on December 7, 2011

As if us parents of children with diabetes have the extra time or the energy to actually read a book, I’m giving it my best shot to read (or “read”) 50 25 books in 2011.

And yes, I realize it’s already December, but here are the books I read in November.

I’m in the home stretch. I think I can make it to my revised goal.

Visit my 2:00 AM Book Club page to see all of the books I’ve read in 2011 and those that are on my list.

Getting to Happy22. Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan

(About the book:)
Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale was more than just a bestselling novel-its publication was a watershed moment in literary history. McMillan’s sassy and vibrant story about four African American women struggling to find love and their place in the world touched a cultural nerve, inspired a blockbuster film, and generated a devoted audience.

Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she’s made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again-at fifty-one. Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two, and conned herself into thinking that a few pills will help distract her from her pain. Robin has an all-American case of shopaholism, while the big dream of her life-to wear a wedding dress- has gone unrealized. And for years, Gloria has taken happiness and security for granted. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can change everything. All four are learning to heal past hurts and to reclaim their joy and their dreams; but they return to us full of spirit, sass, and faith in one another. They’ve exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

I’m a big fan of Terry McMillan and loved the book (and movie) Waiting to Exhale. I have to say that this sequel kind of bored me. I couldn’t quite remember which character was which. While I was vested in the characters in the first book, the story lines in this book weren’t compelling enough to make me care. If you liked Waiting to Exhale I’d probably skip this sequel. It was definitely an afterthought and probably only written because of the popularity of the movie.

Purchase Getting to Happy from my affiliate Barnes and Noble. It’s also available as a NOOK Book.

Maine23. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

(About the book:)

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

I’m not sure that I would describe this book as “wickedly funny,” but I do think it was worth reading. We hear the story of Alice and her husband and how they came to own a beachfront house in Maine. Because of something that happened when Alice was in her 20’s, for which she never forgave herself, she turned her family’s life into one of alcoholism and dysfunction. Alice herself drinks while she’s supposed to be parenting her own young kids and it’s no surprise that they grow up to each have their own issues.

Maybe had Alice forgiven herself, all of their lives would have been much different.

What I liked about the book was my familiarity of the setting. I’ve even dined at a restaurant they mention a few times: Barnacle Billy’s and frolicked at Ogunquit beach.

Purchase Maine from my affiliate Barnes and Noble. It’s also available as a NOOK Book.

The Hunger Games24. The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1) by Suzanne Collins

(About the book:)

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

A coworker mentioned that she had just devoured the entire Hunger Games trilogy so I thought I should at least read the first book before the movie is released this coming spring.

The book takes place in the future and in sort of a post-apocalyptic Mad Max world. There is a definite divide between the have and have-nots and some families must find ways to fend for themselves. Out of necessity, Katniss becomes a good hunter and develops relationships with merchants who purchase or trade for her kills, though hunting is highly illegal.

The fact that it’s a trilogy kind of gives away the ending, but I found Katniss’ experience in the hunger games to be thoroughly engaging.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it. I listened to the audiobook and I do think that the narrator’s voice was a bit mature given Katniss is only 16. I have not read the second or third books yet, but will be checking the audiobooks out from the library.

Purchase The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1) from my affiliate Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as a NOOK Book.

Book descriptions are from Barnes & Noble. Links to bookstores are affiliate links and are provided so that you can find the books easily. I personally utilize the public library quite a bit, especially for audiobooks and fiction. I received titles marked with an asterisk (*) free of charge for review consideration. Please read the disclosure statement regarding affiliate links.

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