Monday, September 21, 2009

Serena by Ron Rash

I LOVED this book. Others in book club did not. It is really creepy. The main characters are so troubled and interesting.

Here's the overview:

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains--but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.
Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.

Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

This is the 5th book in the Blossom Street Series (The Shop on Blossom Street, A Good Yarn, Back on Blossom Street, 20 Wishes). The series is centered on the activities of A Good Yarn which is a yarn shop on Blossom Street. These books are like comfort food. Nice people, good stories. I could read them over and over and still enjoy them. Perfect for a cozy fall day of curling up with a good book.
In this installment, the owner of the yarn store has taken in a 12 year old girl as a foster child while waiting to adopt an infant (she can't have children because of an earlier bout with cancer as a teen). She has also started a new knitting class to help people quit bad behaviors. This class introduces a couple of new characters: a young woman trying to quit a bad fiance, a man trying to become less stressed. Old friends are here too with their own problems.
I love these books!

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

This is the story of three sisters and their divorced mother. After a horrible crime, the eldest of the sisters creates a fantasy world of escape. What makes this different, is that she brings her sisters along with her. Their mother, who is in the midst of a divorce, doesn't seem to notice what is going on with her children and so the crime is never uncovered. The rest of the book is written like a fairy tale with all sorts of horrors visited upon the sisters. If it wasn't for the 'lyrical' nature of the story telling, this book would be to dark to read. It was interesting but a tragedy without much of a happy ending. It probably should have been an Oprah book, which is no compliment in my mind. I did like this book, but it was dark and heavy and depressing.

Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around by Cheryl Wagner

This book is a memoir of the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It was really interesting and gave such insight into the people and lifestyle that existed before the hurricane. The author was fortunate to be a free-lance worker so she and her partner were able to dedicate the time it took to rebuild their home. There are numerous heart-breaking stories interspersed with the details of dealing with mold, the influx of drug dealers and the trash left behind by the flood. Fascinating read.

I spend my honeymoon in New Orleans in the French Quarter and I look forward to going back one day. I wonder if I, as an outsider, will notice a difference?

The Survivor's Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood

I first heard about this book on the radio and then didn't think much about it. When I saw it at the library, I thought what the heck, and checked it out. I am SO glad I did. The author interviews survivors of all types of horrible things to figure out why they survived when others did not. It is kind of a scary book in some ways, but really provided some valuable information. I would HIGHLY recommend this book!

How do I love Thee? by Nancy Moser

I loved this book. It was very dark but fascinating. Elizabeth Barret Browning was a famous poet in England but lived a very strange life. Her father had decided that none of his children (8 in total, I think) should get married. Elizabeth, or Ba, was a recluse and rarely went out of her home. She became acquainted with Robert Browning through letters and finally agreed to meet him (after 3 years). They quickly fell in love and Browning finally convinced her to flee from her father and marry him. Most known for her love sonnets to Browning, Elizabeth wrote these for herself and never intended them to be shown to anyone. A beautiful story. It is a fictionalized biography of the famous poet and really really interesting.