50/50 Reading Challenge Update: May Books

I’m having a bugger of a time writing this post. The words and ideas keep sticking together in a jumbled mess and refuse to flow from of my brain, through my fingers, and into the computer.  Is this writer’s block? I hardly know – it happens so rarely to me.  Besides, I know exactly what I want to write about – the four books I’ve read this month.  And still, I sit here, looking at a cursed blank screen, feeling fragments of sentences knocking aimlessly around in my skull.  It doesn’t help that I’m preoccupied with a few personal issues or that this sublime day was made for taking walks and eating strawberries on the front porch, not staring at a computer.  I’m feeling lazy, too.  So as not to prolong this torture any longer, I’m going to stop trying to be clever and just write a few random thoughts about each book.  It will be a win-win situation for all involved (namely, me).  The reviews will be finished and my misery will end.

May Books

  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  1) A very satisfying example of magical realism. 2) Similar to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman but with a lighter feel.  3) Stands on its own due to unique characters and excellent story-telling.  4) I like Sarah Allen Addison’s writing (The Sugar Queen is even better).  5) Reading Garden Spells was like eating a really good cream-filled doughnut – delicious, soul-satisfying, zero nutritional value.  And who doesn’t need a cream-filled doughnut every once in a while? (4/5 stars)

  • Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes. 1) Recommended by Ace (my almost 11 year old son).  2) More authentic and deeper than the stylized Disney movie, although I enjoyed that, too (probably because I saw it first).  3) The story is told from the perspectives of each band member (Stella – ukulele, Charlie – percussion, Mo – double bass, Wen – trumpet, Olivia – vocals).  They must have made some pretty interesting music.  4) Mark Peter Hughes did a great job of developing the main characters through their narratives.  5) How can a story not have the expected outcome and still give off a hopeful vibe?  I don’t know, but Lemonade Mouth pulled it off.  6) There is not enough money in the world to tempt me to revisit my high school experience!  (4/5 stars)

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Loved: 1) Everything about Le Cirque des Reves: the performers, the descriptions of the tents, the magic.  2) All the magic. It was palpable.  3) The descriptions of the different settings in the story – they were opulent and luxurious.  4) The passionate love story between the two main characters, Celia and Marco.  Struggled with: 1) The timeline – three separate scenarios at different times in history are taking place simultaneously.  Trying to keep track of which scenario was taking place when was a pain using my Nook.  It would have been easier with a “real” book. 2) The plot.  I expected it to be more substantial – just as rich and layered as the settings and characters.  I’m not exactly sure what I wanted, but whatever it was, it was lacking.  How’s that for profound?  Even with its flaws, I still enjoyed the read, continually marveling at the imagination required to think up such a wonderful place.  I so wish it were real. (3.75/5)

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  1) I’ve seen several movie versions of Wuthering Heights and read a modern adaptation by Alice Hoffman entitled Here On Earth (which I hated).  I’ve never really felt compelled to read the book before this.  2) I finally relented because Lovey (my 15 year old daughter) asked me to.  Besides, it is always popping up on those “100 Must Read” book lists.  3) I Can. Not. Stand. Catherine Earnshaw.  Period.  4) I can only tolerate Heathcliff slightly more.  It’s very hard to stick with a book whose characters mean nothing to me.  5) Speaking of Heathcliff, did you know that some experts believe he might have been African because he is described as having dark skin? I think, because he is called a “gypsy”, he was probably dark-skinned like Indian or Middle Eastern people groups.  Gypsies (or more appropriately the Roma) are believed to have originated in northern India.  6) Reading Wuthering Heights is like doing that Boot Camp workout I dread.  It’s long, hard, and painful.  I often want to quit in the middle of it.  When I finally finish, sweat is dripping off my nose, my muscles are quivering, and I need a drink, but I feel great. 7) Wuthering Heights is not a love story.  It illustrates the twisted outcome of an absence of love: selfishness, obsession, and revenge and the misery that arises from their pursuit.  8)  After all that dark suffering, the hopeful ending saved the book for me.  I probably won’t be reading this one again.  (3.5/5 stars)

That makes seventeen books through the end of May.  I’m still behind by three books but I have a feeling the summer will be kind to me.  I’m already halfway through A Secret History by Donna Tartt (love that last name) and I have a vacation coming up that will lend itself perfectly to lots of reading by the pool and ocean.  I have a pile of vintage books I recently bought at a fundraising book sale and I just picked out a whole bunch of samples to check out on my Nook.  It would seem the reading will be easy the next few months.  At least easier than the writing was today….

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