Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is about Jacob, an elderly man in a nursing home, who begins to have memories of his days working for a traveling circus. Corrupt people, forbidden love, circus workers being thrown from the train, murder, you name it - it's there.  The story is wrapped up in the twistedness of circus life and how people put up with unethical behaviors because of the roll that the depression and prohibition played in that era.

This book bounces back in forth in Jacobs life.  His memories of working for the circus was just as real to the reader as it was to Jacob.  Just as I was engrossed in Jacob's circus days the next chapter was back in the nursing home with Jacob is in his 90's and a walker by his side.  This left me feeling confused and lost.  Normally, I would be irritated when an author writes like this however, in this book, it added to the story.  I think the confusion was purposeful as it allows the reader to understand Jacob's confusion due to age.

I must warn you there are a few adult scenes so 18 and older (or married - whatever age is older) please!  Over all there is so much to love about this book.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The UN-Alcott version of the March Family

I have stumbled upon a most delicious book. It is the novel "March" by Geraldine Brooks. This is the flip side of the book "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. In "March", Brooks gives us the tale of the absent father during the years he was off serving as Chaplain during the civil war. Through his memories and correspondences there are many references to his beloved Marmee and those girls we know from the classic: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. But make no mistake, this is not Little Women revisited. This is clearly Mr. March's tale.

It is as if we get "The Rest of the Story" as Paul Harvey would say.

We are given much of the backstory of that family that somehow give new insight and depth...even if none of this is what Alcott herself would have intended. (Such as the scene where Meg was conceived in the woods before the actual wedding).

Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 2006 and I for one can say she totally earned that. It is a rich story that holds my interest with characters that have depth and credibility. I'm about half way through the book right now and loving every page of it...

Some of the war scenes are gritty and the depiction of the treatment of slaves breaks my heart. Yet the story unfolds in such a way as to make this man AND the family that he repeatedly references completely come to life.

The story moves back and forth in time as the protagonist (based on the life and letters of Bronson Alcott...Louisa May's real life father) wrestles with his idealism and the grim realities of slavery and war.

We watch him meet, fall in love with, and court they young Marmee. We see him through periods of prosperity and then later tremendous struggle and poverty. We learn of his double nature - sending cheery letters home to comfort his family during his long absence despite his struggle with horrific events. In an aside to himself in the opening chapter he notes that while he promised to write to his wife every day, "I never promised I would write the truth."

It's a complex, rich story that makes my heart go out to both the March family AND the Alcott family. In reading some of the reviews others have posted on this book I learned that RECESS for elementary school children really was first suggested by Bronson Alcott. Ya gotta love the man for that if nothing else, right?

A definite thumbs up!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not my usual book

“Are you there Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea” is not my usual book. In fact, I don’t even like the Chelsea Lately show. Well, I can’t say that I don’t like it because I haven’t exactly watched the show in its entirety. I generally watch it for two seconds and then change the channel in disgust.

This book is an EASY read. Every chapter is a story of a predicament that the author, Chelsea Handler, has gotten herself into. My favorite chapter was the story where she was pulled over for a DUI and ended up in prison. Yes prison, not jail. The book is vulgar, highly inappropriate and not one that you would read to your mother (or maybe you would). In spite of the fact that her stories took a little too long to tell and ended without notice, the book had me laughing out loud.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Road

Can you say "Disturbing?"  Disturbing.  Yes, that is the word for this book.  This book is short and well, not so sweet.  I can sum up the story for you very quickly: 

The earth has been destroyed
"Man" lives to take care of his "boy"
Man and boy scavenge for food
Man and boy hide from bad guys
Something that I can not tell you . . .
The End

Read it if you are in to dark and disturbing things such as: cannibalism and man's turmoil over possibly being forced to take both the boy and his life with his last two bullets.  If you are like me and you can't stop thinking about things like that then don't read it. 

I am NOT going to watch the movie.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Alice was a celebrity in her time. She had to escape the crowds through windows and was nearly crushed by her fans. Alice matured and was extremely intelligent and influential in the political arena.  Many people respected her opinion and knowledge of politics however, in my opinion, her relationship with the politicians allowed her to pull many strings.
The day Alice was born, her mother and grandmother died. Her father, Theodore Roosevelt (a New York assembly man at the time) so overcome with grief left Alice in the care of his sister Bye for three years. It wasn't until Theodore Roosevelt married (his childhood sweetheart) that his new wife, Edith, sent for Alice. Knowing that she was not Edith’s biological child, Alice grew up feeling less loved then her other siblings ". . .Father doesn't care for me, that is to say one eighth as much as he does for the other children. . ."

Alice was a bit rebellious. Once such act of rebellion was when her Father was president of the United States. Theodore said that no daughter of his would smoke under his roof. In response Alice climbed to the top of the White House and smoked on the roof. Her comment was " I naturally . . .smoked to annoy the family." Alice was an avid gambler and overspent her "allowance" on numerous occasions.

Alice married the up and coming politician Nick Longworth. Nick was a notorious ladies man and alcoholic. Although Alice and Nick probably loved each other, the marriage was full of infidelities among both parties. Nicks philandering threw her into the arms of married Idaho Senator William Borah.  (Remember when I climbed Mt. Borah?) This affair produced a child, Paulina Longworth.

Although I find Alice's story lonely and sad, I also found it extremely fascinating. The book provided a 96 year historical view of Alice's life as well as the political movements over her lifetime.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Politician

I love nonfiction, what I love more than non-fiction is non-fiction regarding current affairs and in this book, when I say affairs I do mean AFFAIRS.
I had heard clips on the news about John Edwards infidelity over the years and really didn't think much of it because, sadly, it seems as though a Mistress is the latest accessory to our elected officials (I know, I should not generalize).
One night as I idly flipped through the channels I came across the interview of Andrew Young and his wife. They proceeded to tell the interviewer of a wild story of how Andrew Young, John Edwards Aid, slowly became entangled in Edwards life and eventual John Edwards scandal and lies. For reasons beyond what I can understand, Andrew Young claimed the paternity for John Edwards love child. As a wife, I do NOT understand how Andrews wife let him get this far in over his head. Having said that, I do very much like Andrews wife. She saw Edwards for who is was from the beginning (that is why husbands should always listen to our intuition).
Of course I wanted to hear more and rushed out to buy the book. To introduce the elephant in the room, in the prologue Andrew Young says, "My critics will say I am writing this book for money. They are partly correct. The Edwards scandal has left me practically unemployable, and as a husband and father, I have serious responsibilities I can meet by publishing my story." Then he goes on to tell the story in a very mater-of-fact way. It is not written in such detail that you get a visual, it is written in a way that he is just telling you his version of the story.
To be honest if you watched the interview, you pretty much know all the juicy parts to the book. Overall it was a good quick read that left me feeling a bit sad. It would be very interesting if he wrote a follow-up book in 10 years. I would like to know if he thought writing this book made his life better or if it just continued the story making it worse for himself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Handle with Care

After some time with no post to Page Nibblers I decided to share what I am reading. I am 88 pages into Jodi Picoults, Handle with Care. Jodi Picoult is also the Author of My Sisters Keeper, which we read in 2009.
Handle with care is about a family who has a little girl born with OI (Osteogenesis Imperfecta), also known as brittle bone disease. The story begins fast and furious and it sucked me in very quickly. I don't want to talk about the story because I think it will take away from you, the future reader. What I can tell you is that the story is good. In fact the only thing getting me through the book is the story about the little girl with OI. So, if I like the story then the book is good, right? WRONG.

I feel like I am reading My Sisters Keep over again. You have the little girl with a disease, an older sibling with issues because the moms energy is spent taking care of the sick child, a husband who is a cop (remember firefighter in MSK?), AND a lawyer. HWC has so many parallels to MSK that it is pure torture to read. However, I am sucked in by the story of OI so I I will complete the book and may have more to say about it when I am on page 477.