Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Question, and Friday Finds 9/11

Quick Question: Back in high school I read MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather. I didn't like it much, but recently I've heard good things about it so I thought I'd give it another try. I'm listening to the audio book and am about 3 CDs in ... and it is just as boring now as it was back then. I'm seriously considering giving up on it, but there's this lingering doubt that I'll be missing out on something wonderful. Can you tell me if 1) you've read and enjoyed it and why, or 2) there is a good reason to stick with it? Thanks!


I've been absent from Friday Finds for a few weeks because I've had a huge backlog of posts to get caught up on. I've also been attempting to be more discriminating about the books I add to my TBR list. In the past three weeks I have added only 7 books to my list - that's pretty darn good, for me at least!

Before I tell you about those 7 books, I want to remind you about the fabulous 3-prize giveaway I'm hosting from author Michelle Moran. Details are at this link - you have until 9/14 to enter, so go do it right now!


And now, my Friday Finds ...



The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
- The Book Case says, "Like Henry James in Turn of the Screw, Waters leaves the 'poltergeist or disturbed protagonist' decision up to the reader, but draws a compelling portrait of Britain’s changing class system after World War II." Sounds good to me!



Books by R. M. Ballantyne - Naked Without Books discovered this author recently and now she has me intrigued. This 19th century author wrote adventure books for teen boys. "Ballantyne made a mistake in his first book about the thickness of coconut shells, so after that, he was determined to do scrupulous research on the topics and settings in his novels. For example, he had worked as a young man in "the wilds of Canada", which provided material for several books, he worked with London firemen for Fighting The Flames and tin miners in Cornwall for Deep Down." Now that's what I call dedication!


City of Refuge, by Tom Piazza - New Orleans resident Stuff As Dreams Are Made On says, "I have to give major kudos to Piazza for writing such a strong, powerful, emotional book. Living in New Orleans, I get tired of reading so many books about Katrina, but Piazza just gets it right. He knows this city, he loves this city. I felt like he was one of us…he is one of us. It’s the best retelling of the events of Hurricane Katrina that I’ve read so far and it’s fiction. It’s certainly based on real events though. The timeline and the surroundings and neighborhoods are 100% accurate." That is certainly a ringing endorsement.


The Calligrapher's Daughter, by Eugenia Kim - I've seen this reviewed several places but S. Krishna's Books was the final push to add this to my list. She says this book is "is an exceptionally written historical fiction novel. [...] Additionally, I have to say that I was a bit shocked at how little I knew about Korean history. I appreciated the insight that this book provided, as well as the historical note at the end of the novel which gave a brief summary of Korean history." Gotta love authors who include good historical notes. Fizzy Thoughts reviewed it as well, and now I REALLY want to read it.


Child of the Jungle, by Sabine Kuegler - Open Mind, Insert Book reviewed this memoir of a German girl, child of missionaries, growing up in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. She says, "This was really, really great. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but she writes in such a vivid style, you don't so much as read her words as relive her childhood with her." We have missionary friends in Papua New Guinea with CLTC so this area of the world is extra-interesting to me (you can check out pictures from a recent festival at CLTC at this link).



The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama - Books on the Brain says, "As customers come [this Indian matchmaker] and express their wishes for a match for their son, brother or daughter, or even for themselves, the reader gets a real sense of Indian society. From arranged marriages to the caste system to religion and food, it’s a cultural lesson wrapped in a charming story." From her review, this sounds like a light but still somewhat educational read.


The Day the Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Maria Buchanan - "Steeped in the intriguing history of Niagara Falls, this epic love story is as rich, spellbinding, and majestic as the falls themselves." I've been fascinated by Niagara Falls ever since my family vacationed there when I was 13. We toured a museum showcasing photos of people on tightropes going across the Falls, in barrels going over the Falls, and in old-fashioned clothes standing on the edge of the Falls. I was too scared to even look over the edge of the wall from closer than 2 feet away. Thanks to Book Chatter for bringing this to my attention - it looks like a book I will really enjoy.




Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading. Hop on over there to find more great books or link up to your own post.

23 comments:

Lezlie said...

I have no idea if My Antonia is worth sticking with or not, but I have it on my "get to soon" list, so I'll be very curious to see your final outcome. :-)

Lezlie

Chris said...

Great finds!! I hope you enjoy CIty of Refuge!! I actually hope a lot of people read it because it captures the feel of New Orleans really well :) And I want to read The Little Stranger too!

Heather J. said...

Lezlie - I'll let you know ...

Chris - Did you hear the interview with City of Refuge's author on Book Club Girl On Air? I'm listening to the recording at work today - it's really interesting!

Rebecca Reid said...

I remember loving My Antonia in high school. Just the descriptions of Nebraska made me want to go live there--and I'd *seen* Nebraska and not liked it so much.

So I guess what I'm saying is, maybe it's just not a book for you.

I always try to curb my TBR additions, but since I have about 20 books added every week, that never happens...

Heather J. said...

Rebecca - I'm thinking that you're right, but I hate to give up on it ...

Alyce said...

The Calligrapher's Daughter and The Day the Falls Stood Still have both been added to my list in the past few weeks/months (meaning I've been so scattered I don't remember how long they've been on there). :)

I haven't read anything by Willa Cather, so I'm afraid I can't be of much help with that.

Ti said...

I thought My Antonia was boring. Just my personal opinion.

I had The Little Stranger as my Friday Finds post last week. It looks really good and I want to read it for the R.I.P challenge.

Thanks for the shout-out on The Day The Falls Stood Still. I am running a giveaway for the book right now!

Bybee said...

I haven't read any Willa Cather yet. A strange gap in my reading. Don't know whether to tell you to pack it in or not; I'm struggling with 2 books right now myself.

Heather J. said...

Alyce - I remember seeing them on your list at some point ...

Ti - So glad it is not just me! Oh, and I'm refusing to enter your giveaway even though I want to read the book - I don't want to win then leave it on my shelf for months/years. :)

Bybee - Maybe we should make a pack - I'll quit if you quit, and I'll stick if you stick. ~LOL~

bermudaonion said...

I've never read My Antonia, so I can't give you any advice. I'm lusting after The Calligrapher's Daughter too!

Belle said...

The Calligrapher's Daughter sounds good!

Lisa said...

You've got some great finds!

Suey said...

I really liked My Antonia... but I don't remember why! :)

Darla D said...

I had to read My Antonia for a class in graduate school, and I listened to it during my commute. I admit I didn't care much for it either. It seemed kind of flat and dull. But I know some people who say it's one of their favorite books - it's almost like they're talking about some other book with the same title, because surely we can't both mean the same one! :-)

Kelly said...

I have the Day the Falls Stood Still on my TBR pile.(I don't get the appeal of My Antonia either.)

My find is HERE.

gautami tripathy said...

Interestings finds. I will check those out!

Friday Finds

Becky said...

I haven't read My Antonia but know what you are talking about, I remember reading Pride and Prejudice and felt exactly the same way... a lot of people love it, I just couldn't get into it.

I have been reading a lot of historical fiction lately and just finished up with Lloyd Lofthouse's book titled, "My Splendid Concubine-" a fabulous romance story that takes place in China in the 19th Century during the time of the opium wars. Can I just say WOW!! I wanted so much for that book to go on and on. I have been searching around tonight for a new book to fill it's void and have to say that I am very excited to have found your TBR list! I will have to check them out as well!

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion & Belle - That one does look good, doesn't it?!

Lisa - thanks. :)

Suey - Darn, I wish you could give me some advice! ~LOL~

Darla D - That's how I'm feeling about it myself.

Kelly & gautami - I'm off to check out your Finds now ...

Becky - I have the Lofthouse book on my shelf - I'm glad to know you say it is so good! As for P&P, it's one of my favorite books but I do know that it is not for everyone. And I'm thinking Antonia is not for me. :)

Becky said...

Thanks Heather! People keep telling me that I just need to force myself to get through the first part of P&P, maybe that is my problem. I might give it another try. Hope you enjoyed Lofthouse as much as I did. He is one of my new favorites.

Dreamybee said...

I was killing time in Borders the other day and picked up a couple of these myself. I wrote down a few titles, but I was very good and didn't actually buy anything.

I didn't care for My Antonia either, but my reading of it was also several years ago, out of high school, but while I was living in Nebraska! I don't think it gets any better. I don't remember anything about it except that I didn't really care for it.

Heather J. said...

Becky - I wouldn't force it. If you don't like the beginning I don't think you'll like the rest. And I haven't read Lofthouse yet, but I hope to get to it soon.

Dreamybee - Glad to know someone else finds these titles appealing. And I think I'm going to quit My Antonia after all ... the comments here haven't been all that encouraging. :)

Trisha said...

I have been wanting to read City of Refuge -- hope you'll review here if you pick it up. Ditto with the Sarah Waters. If you like British fiction it is worth reading.

Heather J. said...

Trisha - If I read it, it will DEFINITELY be review here. :)

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