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Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman February 6, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, Kids, Neil Gaiman, reading.
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Chu's Day

Neil Gaiman says adults can’t read Chu’s Day… unless they are reading it to a child. I don’t have a small child handy so I cheated and read it to my cat. I’m not sure she appreciated the humor but I loved it. This is a simple story about a small panda with big sneezes. When Chu sneezes, bad things happen.

I borrowed the book from the library but I’ve also added it to my Amazon wish list. This would make a great gift for a young child’s birthday… as long as you’re prepared to read it over and over.

What’s one of your favorite read aloud books?

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Blessings by Anna Quindlen January 27, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, reading.
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Some books are meant to be gulped whole, consumed quickly so one can move on to the next one in the stack. Other books are meant to be savored, digested slowly. They bring a feeling of fullness so that it’s difficult to begin a new story– although the book is closed, the pages have all been read, the story lingers. Who wants to think about eating again when you’ve just finished a feast? Blessings by Anna Quindlen falls into that second category for me. I’m not sure when I acquired the book or how it made its way onto the stack of books by my bed. It must have caught my eye at some used book sale at some point but for the life of me I cannot remember picking it up. I don’t think I’ve read anything else by this author, fiction or non-fiction (although I’ll definitely be looking for them now). Whatever the means, I’m glad it found its way into my apartment and my life.

I love books that have at their heart a good story. Formulaic books like mysteries or romance are great when I’m in the mood, but what draws me in is the story. (I should clarify, mysteries and romance and the like can have a great story as well, it’s just that sometimes the formulaic part gets in the way for me.) As the story in Blessings unwinds, I became more and more attached to the characters and also more protective. I didn’t want anything to happen that might hurt them.

The novel begins late at night, when a teenage couple leaves a box at the estate of Lydia Blessing. In the morning her caretaker, Skip, finds  the box, looks inside, discovers a baby and decides he wants to keep her. The story is about secrets, new and ancient, and learning that what you think you know about a person is often not the truth. I can’t tell you much more without giving things away — you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens with the baby.

I’m glad Blessings made its way into my life and I’ll be looking for more novels by Anne Quindlen.

A Prayer for Owen Meany January 11, 2009

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, reading.
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I thought I knew what this book was about. I’ve seen the movie Simon Birch and knew it was based on A Prayer for Owen Meany and I figured the book would be a better telling of the story in the movie. After all, isn’t the book always better than the movie?

I was right, of course, the book was better. The book was better in the way that Thanksgiving dinner is better than a turkey sandwich and chips. Now, I happen to like turkey sandwiches, especially one with smoked turkey, sundried tomatoes and havarti cheese, but even the best turkey sandwich isn’t a feast that spreads across the table and onto the counters.

If you liked this movie (or even if you didn’t) read this book. It is so full of coming to grips (or never really coming to grips) with the huge events in ones’ life. Those things that happen to us, or around us, that affect us in such a way that it takes the rest of our lives to fully absorb the impact. It’s about losing faith in God and finding it again. About knowing,  and accepting,  one’s destiny.

I started reading this book in tiny bites during my commute on the train and ended up finishing it in great gulps late at night when I should have been sleeping. This will stay on my shelf to be re-read in the future.