Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Art

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This week at The Broke and The Bookish the challenge is to list our top ten book covers that could be framed as pieces of art.

Sometimes I pick a book solely based on the book cover. Here are some of my favourites:

The Gargoyle of Andrew Davidson (loved this book and holds special place in my heart since it was one of my first reviews for Book Marks, read review here)

the-gargoyle-1

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I love images of trees

9052b-insurgenthc-jkt-des4

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler – clean, crisp, cool

Paris by Edward Rutherford – because I love Paris

paris ed ruth

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – I think I’d like this in a bathroom

forgotten_garden

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – never read it, might read it…love the colours…

sea of shadows

Someday by Alison Mcghee – how cute for a baby’s room

someday

Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss – another cute one for baby or older child

oh the places

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – I would look at this everyday from November to April

beautiful ruins

Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins – so pretty and love the contrast of the sunflowers with the snow…eating outdoors in winter?

lydia party

Your thoughts? Which book covers would you frame?

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Old Homes, Gardens and Women

courtesy: kjmcountrygardens.com

What is it about gardens and broken down homes that they are so readily included in women’s literature….chick-lit….chick-flicks?

When I read Alice Walker’s book of essays In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, I was struck by the number of books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen around this theme:  Wildflower Hill, The Forgotten GardenThe Physick Book of Deliverance Dane Under the Tuscan Sun (which I love) – to name a few.

Why is it that artists love to envision women bringing a barren piece of land to fruition?  So many stories involve bringing a garden or an old home to life, and in doing so, a woman finds herself, or is healed and becomes whole. The female protagonist will hammer and dig her way to a new life.

I wonder why we love to associate these ideas with womanhood and with a woman who is lost?

Maybe it’s the romantic notion that women nurture life.  Women give life.  We take care of something fragile, meet its needs and allow it to flourish. 

Maybe we’re so bad at taking care of ourselves, that the only way we can do it is when we trick our minds into believing that we’re taking care of something else and inadvertently, we end up taking care of ourselves (but, don’t tell us that – we’ll stop all the crazy refurbishing and planting immediately).

I wonder if our voices get so lost as we grow that we have to bang them out when we are adults?  Regardless, it does seem to be a beautiful process of rebuilding oneself.

Do you love the imagery of a woman restoring herself by restoring a garden or an old home?  What books have you read around this theme that you recommend?

 

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

courtesy: violetcrush.wordpress.com

Summary courtesy of Goodreads:

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.  A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. [… a] story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton. 

This book chips away at my summer reading list and I have to admit, although the story is not all that new – it reminds of  Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman a book I reviewed a while ago – it did keep me intrigued.  And, despite its length, I finished it rather quickly.

**few small spoilers throughout**

I feel like the summary does not provide enough detail about the scope and range of the book.  Although the summary focuses on Cassandra, I felt like the plot was more about the mystery Cassandra was solving – the origin of her grandmother.  We learn early in the novel that Nell, Cassandra’s grandmother, was found at the age of four in Australia.  She has no memory of being lost and was raised believing she was in the midst of her biological family.  At the age of 21, her father reveals the truth and this turns Nell’s world upside-down.  She essentially rejects all things and people that are familiar to her because she no longer feels a part of the world in which she grew up.  I found this really strange, I mean I can understand being angry and wishing to uncover the truth about her parents – but to reject her only source of support and love seems rather odd.

Nell only uncovers part of the story, it seemed that she was put on a ship to Australia from Cornwall, England – we find this out also fairly early on…and it is up to Cassandra to solve the mystery for us.  Why not Nell’s daughter, Leslie, you might wonder?  Because Leslie essentially severs all ties with Nell and Cassandra for a man.  Another strange action for a character to take and one that the author does not set up very well.  Might as well have Leslie die as far as I’m concerned because I find it rather baffling that after Nell was distant with Leslie for most of her life, Leslie would turn around and abandon Cassandra altogether.

But, this just covers the surface of the novel.  The other plot in this novel involves Cassandra’s ancestors.  So the novel moves through time.  It is 2005 for Cassandra, 1975 for Nell and 1908-1913 for the mysterious ancestors.

Morton does move seamlessly through the time periods and establishes a great cast of characters for each time period – but I found myself frustrated with each move.  At times I felt like Morton had attempted too much and many, many things were left unearthed or only touched upon briefly.  There were moments that I wished could be further explored, investigated and so I was left with questions.  Perhaps this is an effect that Morton wished to created – no matter how much we might discover about our past and our ancestor’s lives, we can’t ever truly know who they were and what they felt and experienced every day.  We can only piece clues together and fill in the rest with our imagination.  As a reader, however, I didn’t like it.

Although Cassandra’s story was touching, it was the story that least interested me partly because it’s almost cliche – woman must reconstruct old house and in the process meets fabulous man and reconstructs own life.  Seen it.  Read it. Let’s try something different this time, shall we?  Really, the only difference is that Cassandra is redoing the garden…the garden that holds all the secrets.

I almost wish each story had been told separately – perhaps in trilogy fashion.  Each time period, 2005, 1975 and 1908, is so rich in plot that it could be its own novel.

I will say this, Morton’s writing is strong.  It is clean, easy to follow and quite beautiful at times.  There are some wonderful fairy tales inserted throughout, written by the Authoress, Eliza Makepeace, that are fun to read.  The Forgotten Garden kept me entertained and it was fun to solve the mystery – which became quite evident early on (at least for me it did).  Sometimes this was good because it was neat to see the characters figure it out.  Most of the time it was annoying because I had to wait so long for them to figure it out.

I was left feeling very sad that I didn’t see Nell solving the mystery since it was so meaningful to her.  And, once I discovered Nell’s story, I felt really let down that Morton did not give me more insight into the relationship between her parents and the feelings of her mother…there were many moments that I felt the book was long for all the wrong reasons and the questions I had were not answered.  Despite these reactions, The Forgotten Garden is a good book, even though it wasn’t entirely satisfying.

Have you read any books lately that overall are good, but still left you feeling a bit let down?

WWW Wednesdays

shouldbereading.com asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? I’m on page 300 of Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden – another summer read.  It took about 160 pages to really get my attention and now I just love immersing in the world she creates – so many stories that she ties in together nicely.

What did you recently finish?  Kristin Cashore’s Graceling – it was so much fun.  Will review soon.

What do you think you’ll read next?  I’ve noticed that each Wednesday I write that I will continue with Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and that has yet to happen – so I’ll put her aside for now.  I have lots of reading ahead of me to finish the Special Education Course I’m taking and I need to read some Alice Walker essays that I’ll be teaching in the fall.

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at shouldbereading.wordpress.com

Summer 2012 Reads

Ah, summer.  Hot.  Hazy.  Lazy.  Lounging under the shade of the trees in my back yard.  Love it.  As spring heats up and foreshadows the seemingly endless summer sunshine, I cannot help but think about what I want to read.

Summer is the time to do it.  I have to squeeze reading in between writing, preparing for the upcoming school year, being enchanted by the world with my three year old, and reconnecting with friends, family and my awesome husband.  It’s doable, right?

My summer 2012 reading list is modest in order to make it (hopefully) achievable:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Goodreads summary: In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again. (image courtesy of journeysanddestinations.wordpress.com)

I love, love, love Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ works.  And cannot wait to dig into this one.  Abandoned love that lasts fifty years, nine months and four days?  I’m in.  This one will work towards the Back to the Classics Challenge 2012.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Goodreads summary:  Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who grew up in the West Indies on a decaying plantation. When she comes of age she is married off to an Englishman, and he takes her away from the only place she has known […].  The novel is Rhys’s answer to Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë’s book had long haunted her, mostly for the story it did not tell– Antoinette is Rhys’s imagining of a locked-up woman and Wide Sargasso Sea follows her voyage into the dark, both from her point of view and Rochester’s. It is a voyage charged with soul-destroying lust. (image courtesy of livethroughbooks.wordpress.com)

Caribbean heat?  A dark voyage?  Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester?  Sign me up!  This will also knock off another Back to the Classics Challenge 2012 books.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

 Goodreads summary: Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.  And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it’s a typical week for the Kane family. (image courtesy of rickriordan.blogspot.ca)

I read the first installment of the Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid, last summer.  It was such a fun, quick paced read…I see many of my students reading the series and other Riordan books.  Of course I’m continuing this series to connect to my students…not because I’m indulging the little girl in me in fantasies of magic and power…no, not at all.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

 from Indigo:  When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young  entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful,  brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is  startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic  reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to  resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits  he wants her, too-but on his own terms.      Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana  hesitates. For all the trappings of success-his multinational  businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family-Grey is a man  tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the  couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana  discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark  desires. (image courtesy of theunexpectedtnt.com)

I have heard very mixed reviews of this best-selling trilogy.  From the very (blush) “holy shit this is like porn!”, to the very (eye-roll) “it’s so badly written, I don’t know why people are buying this.”  I want to see what all the fuss is about.  That’s the only reason I’m reading it…promise…remember I did say I  have an awesome husband (wink)…(blush)…

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Goodreads summary: A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.  Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. (image courtesy of violetcrush.wordpress.com)

I don’t know anything about this book other than I found it in my “recommended” list on goodreads.  The summary sounds intriguing…a lot like a few other books I’ve reviewed, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and Wildflower Hill.  Looking forward to this one.

That’s it.  That’s the list.  A bit sparse I’m sure for those of you who read a book a day (I know you’re out there)…I’m trying to be realistic because there are a billion other things I want to do this summer and if I make this list too long, I won’t do it.  A book every two weeks seems to work for me, for now.  I might finish the trilogies if I like them…promise to keep you posted.

Any feedback on my list?  What will you be reading this summer?