Monday, March 30, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a classic which most of you may have read in school! I grew up in Jamaica and read lots of West Indian literary works as well as the classic of all classics (Shakespeare). This book reminds me of one of Shakespeare's work!

The Catcher in the Rye is set around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man (16 years old) named Holden Caulfield. It seems Holden is telling his story from a clinic (mental hospital) where he is being treated for a nervous breakdown. He talks about the events that take place in the days between the end of school and Christmas which invariably leads to his breakdown.

For most of the story, Holden seems like a lonely boy who is failing all but 1 class (English). Holden is from a fairly wealthy family (lawyer dad) with a brother who is a writer, a 10 year old sister who he loves and a brother (Allie) who died of Leukemia a few years prior to the story. He speaks fondly of Allie as being fun loving and my guess is that Holden is in mourning for the brother whom he looses and for his mom who he mentioned has not gotten over the death of his brother.

Holden is enrolled at Pencey State and rambles on about his room mate whom he refers to as a "sexy bastard" and got upset when the roommate (Stradlater) dates a girl he has gone out with and still has feelings for. He also complains about a dorm neighbor Ackley whom he refers to a unhygienic. He gets into a fight with Stradlater then sets off to New York a few days earlier than the end of the school term.

The rest of the novel is about Holden's time spent in New York, his yearning for past acquaintances whom he thinks about calling or actually rings them at night to spend time with him (loneliness). We see the characters frustration after they meet with Holden as he rants and raves about sex, the ducks in central park or hitchhiking his way west to work on a farm.

Holden finally goes home in the middle of the night to see his beloved sister Phoebe who figures out he got kicked out of school and gets mad that this is the fourth school he has been in. I think Phoebe's roll is to give Holden a sense of self and a connection to family.

I could say this book is the "ramblings" of a teen but then I wouldn't give it the respect it deserves. Instead I will say the book covers many topics such as lonliness, confusion, anxiety and love.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice

After grad school, Shay Dixon feels like she's had enough for awhile. Inspired by her spiritual adviser - a soul soothing blues player named Nina Simon - Shay calls her estranged mother Nona for the first time in years and shocks herself by asking if it would be ok to come home for awhile. Things were difficult before, as Nona spent all her time hitting the bottle and carousing with good-for-nothings while her daughter was growing up. But now Nona is different, sober, well-adjusted-and with a new baby named Sunny! Shay feels herself changing as well-but somtimes life takes unexpected turns.

My thoughts: An inspiring love story between a mother and her daughter. One which weaves a tale of addiction, abuse, forgiveness and re-birth. While Shay (LaShay) was growing up, her mom would leave her alone at night to go drinking so Shay's story is borne out of loneliness and fear. I think the writer tries to show how these two traits can totally destroy life and she does it in such a way that it grips you and sucks you in right til the end. I empathize with Shay and could not imagine the horror she went through. On the other hand, Nona went through a phase where she could not control herself or dare I say, she fell into a cycle and did not want to get help. What frustrates me throughout the story is Nona's thought that if she apologized to her daughter then it would make things better. The lesson learned here is that when we forgive someone, we in turn allow ourselves to heal. Sometimes that's the only way we can move ahead. I don't want to get into the habit of rating these books but I do think this is a must read for all as this books shows how fragile relationships are and gives us hope for a brighter future.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just Too Good to Be True by E. Lynn Harris

Harris serves up a treat that will capture and enchant audiences everywhere—a big, bold, and irresistible novel about football, family, and secrets.

Brady Bledsoe and his mother, Camryn, have a strong relationship. A single mother, faithful churchgoer, and the owner of several successful Atlanta beauty salons, Camryn has devoted herself to her son and his dream of becoming a professional football player. Brady has always followed her lead, including becoming a member of the church’s "Celibacy Circle." Now in his senior year at college, the smart, and very handsome, Brady is a lead contender for the Heisman Trophy and a spot in the NFL.

My thoughts: This is a fast paced read with a predictable finish. Brady is Camryn's only son so as you can imagine, she is very protective of him. She encouraged him to work hard, focus on celibacy (yeah, right) and do the best he could. Brady does have lofty goals but as with most teens (young adults) his hormones are raging and though he pledges "celibacy", he has a hard time staying on track.

Because Brady is good at his game (no pun intended), Sports Agents hover at every corner. Some has his best interest at heart while others just want to make money. Well, in walks Brady, a beautiful cheerleader whose "job" is to tempt the "celibate" Brady with the hope to cashing in on his future fortune.

As the story unfolds, many stories are told and secrets revealed. What's interesting to note is how Camryn tries to protect her son while repairing their relationship and finding a love of her own!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I completed "The Bluest Eye" today and felt like I was transported to Black America in the 1940's. To say I was shocked at the turn of events in Pecola's young life would be putting it mildly.

The story is told by Claudia, a young black girl (dirt poor), who lives with her sister Frieda, mom and dad in a tiny house (well a room, really). It takes the reader through the seasons beginning with the "burnt" leaves of Autumn then the bleak and coldness of winter, the promise of Spring and the dry and sometimes unyielding summer. And so we get a glimpse into the life of Pecola Breedlove.

Pecola is a young girl who most would consider ugly. She was so ugly to some that they could not look her in the face. We learn about Pecola's background, how her dad (Cholly Breedlove) is a wasp of a dad and comes home drunk and burns his house down. Pecola lives with Claudia and her family for a while so they all become friends. Pecola's life is like a downward spiral into the abyss of pain and heartbreak. Pecola dreams of having blue eyes, "the bluest eye ever" so she could be beautiful, loved and accepted. She suffers a rape by her dad while her mom beats her (probably blames her) for her predicament!

The book closes just after the death of Pecola's baby, after her dad dies, her brother runs away and her mom still keeps house for a white family whose daughter she treats better than her own. This book peels away the cover of the lives of an African American community in Ohio and showcase their pain, love, ideology, anger. It is well written in my eyes but very sad and dark in many ways.

I am not sure how to rate this book so I will leave it unrated for now........

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge

I have decided to join J. Kaye's Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge 2009. She is a big supporter of her local library and what better way to encourage others to use their library than to have a challenge such as this.

The rules are simple. Just read books checked out from your local library. They can be any kind of books including audio, downloads, children's, and YA. The challenge runs from 1/1/09 to 12/31/09.

There are three levels of challenges:

1. Read 12 books from your local library.
2. Read 25 books from your local library.
3. Read 50 books from your local library.
The only stipulation is that they HAVE to be read in 2009. You can join anytime. The other thing is that you have to choose which level you are going to complete when you join.That's it - just go to j. kaye's and sign up on Mr. Linky.

I will be doing the 25 book challenge to give myself some wiggle room. This challenge works for me since I have my own Book Challenge and planned to get the books from my local library anyways. Win win.........

Following is the list for the Library Challenge - I may revise occasionally depending on availability and will review as I complete each one:
  1. The Bluest Eye - completed
  2. Just too good to be true - completed
  3. Cather in the Rye - completed
  4. Love In The Time Of Cholera
  5. Pride and Prejudice
  6. Song of Solomon
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird
  8. Jane Eyre
  9. Wuthering Heights
  10. Anna Karenia
  11. Great Expectations
  12. Little Women
  13. Birdsong
  14. Catcher in the Rye - completed
  15. The Time Traveller’s Wife
  16. Orange, Mint & Honey - completed
  17. The Women of Brewster Place
  18. The Great Gatsby
  19. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  20. Grapes of Wrath
  21. The Wind in the Willows
  22. The Kite Runner - completed
  23. Their eyes were watching God
  24. Three cups of tea
  25. A Thousand Splendid Suns
  26. Notes From A Small Island
  27. Sula

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My softer side

Harlequin Presents are my true passion. They are quick, hot and easy. You may read my reviews here:


New Endeavour

I did say I wouldn't read anything too heavy after college so harlequins did it for the most part. Every once in a while I would dabble into someting a bit more time consuming like Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

The difference is I have committed to a Challenge on my own. If I can't loose weight then I must read. My entire waking moment will be filled with reading; that is when I am not working or cooking, cleaning, etc. So I figure I will read 1 book from my challenge then 2 harlequins then another book and so on. I am really excited.

I started "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison and currently at page 20 something. Did I add that most of these books will be from the I could like to a library challenge if I can find one.

Toodles for now---will be back to review the lastest......