Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tribute by Nora Roberts (2008)

Why do I always feel like apologizing for really enjoying some of Nora Roberts' books. This is again one of the broader novels with a child star returning to her grandmother's country house to make a new life for herself. I really liked the details of house remodeling and landscaping. I liked the guy too - a graphic novel author and artist. I liked the slow progression of their relationship. And a big part of the story line is actually a mystery story, all woven together very well.

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (2008)

I've been needing to read something light and funny, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum fit the bill. She and the characters around her had me laughing out loud quite a few times.  In this particular story Stephanie is helping her hunky friend Ranger bodyguard an aging country singer. Meanwhile her cop boyfriend Joe Morelli ends up taking care of a graffiti artist teenage son of a kidnap victim. There are always numerous story lines going on. I particularly enjoyed the outrageous wedding plans of Lula, Stephanie's big black mama side-kick, without the conscious consent of the supposed bridegroom Tank.  Just a lot of fun. Though I've read some of these before, I'm planning to tackle them in reverse chronological order.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (2005)

Suggested by an old college friend in Vermont, this book has a totally new take on the metaphysical world of death and ghosts. Helen died over a hundred years ago, but didn't end up in heaven or hell, but continues an existence of sorts by hanging out close to particular live beings. And then she meets James, who is like her, but in a body - a body deserted by a young drug addict. Wonderful to watch them trying to communicate.

Though I have no set view of life after death, I do have a sense of souls, and think reincarnation could be an explanation why certain things happen to us. Though I don't believe in ghosts as such, I do believe our departed loved ones can be with us, watching over us. My parents used to dream of departed friends and relatives all the time. I don't, but I have a sense of my mother being with me at times. (She would have been 83 tomorrow, if she had lived.) Maybe it is my own thought patterns evoking a sense of her, but whatever it is, there is some power to it. That is why this story doesn't bother my reasoning, as vampire stories do - it makes more sense to me. The concept that people could be so beaten by their lives, that their souls choose to desert their bodies seems more heart-wrenchingly sad than improbable. So a wonderfully unique book. I am glad such good books are being written for young adults.

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Sleeping Arrangements by Madeline Wickham (2008)

An enjoyable light read about two families who are forced to spend their vacations together in a mutual friend's villa in Spain. Turns out they are quite connected. Chloe is hoping to relax with long time partner Phillip, who is in danger of losing his job, and her two sons, one a sulky teen. Hugh, a busy executive is hoping for some fun time with high strung Amanda and his two small daughters. But Chloe and Hugh were an item 15 years ago. I liked looking a relationships that have been going on for a while, and the challenges they face. The punky nanny adds delightful color to the story.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (2002)

Since I loved Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love so much, I wanted to read more by her and picked this up at our library. This is actually a non-fiction book about Eustace Conway, a real, still living man, a few years younger than me. I get the sense that Gilbert too was in love with this man, but was able to maintain a friendship over the years and step back enough to write about him. This guy could hunt as a child, and decided that the thing to do was to live off the land - which he has been doing all his life and continues to do so. He also wanted to change the world by educating kids about his life style, in speeches around the country and in the camp he has built on a thousand acres in North Carolina. Oh, I could imagine being enthralled by him in my back to the land days, though I am not sure I would ever want to live off of things I have killed, nor would I ever want to work as hard as he did and expected those around him to work. I didn't understand his two big trips around the country on horses. The first, he rode on the back of a horse from the Atlantic to the Pacific with his brother and a friend in record time. They did not stop to enjoy the people and beauty around them, but plowed on as if in a race to see how far humans and animals could be pushed. His other trip was in a horse drawn cart around the Midwest - also at a numbing pace. He has driven all the women who fell in love with him away, by being so demanding and inflexible in his lifestyle. Fascinating man, fascinating story, though sort of sad in the end.

Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner (2008)

I just couldn't handle graphic details about molested children and dead prostitutes right now, and it sounded like the creepy guy wasn't going to be caught any time soon, so I gave up on the 3rd CD of this book. Maybe at some other time this pregnant FBI agent will appeal to me, but not now. Kind of weird quotes about spiders at the beginning of each chapter. I could have studied many spider species while painting my house - disturbed many a spider web with its large and small inhabitants.

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (2008)

This is one of those Stephanie Plum detective stories I picked up because I needed something light and funny - and it fit the bill - getting me laughing. I've read some of these before, so I remember Stephanie living in a Trenton, NJ working class neighborhood. In this book she is working on security detail for Brenda, an aging country western singer, with Ranger, one of the men she likes. But she seems to be mostly spending time with Joe Morelli, who reminds me of the Italians in my high school in northern New Jersey. There are plenty of fun characters including the video game playing, graffiti spraying kid Zook, who she ends up taking care of for a while, a gentle stalker, Stephanie's colleague Lula planning a wedding to Ranger's right-hand man, Tank, without his input or approval, and more.