Sunday, May 1, 2011

First, What are You Reading? Volume 9, May 2011

Well, after my failed attempt last month at giving up reading, here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:
first, what are you reading?
what do you like best about it?
what do you like least?
what's next on your list/pile to read? 

As always, I hope you'll consider your current reads on your blog and/or sharing here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?

I have just finished The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, on the recommendation of a great friend and fellow book-lover.  I'm so grateful for this recommendation, because it's not often that I find a newer, satisfying, well-crafted novel written for adults that is haunting in a good way.  From the Amazon description:  

Like Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic The Secret Garden, Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden takes root in your imagination and grows into something enchanting--from a little girl with no memories left alone on a ship to Australia, to a fog-soaked London river bend where orphans comfort themselves with stories of Jack the Ripper, to a Cornish sea heaving against wind-whipped cliffs, crowned by an airless manor house where an overgrown hedge maze ends in the walled garden of a cottage left to rot.

I'm also well into the final Ranger's Apprentice book, The Emporer of Nihon-Ja, but I'm not rushing it since it's the last in the series.

Finally, I've been re-reading a lot of John Paul II's poetry.  I have an early edition of Easter Vigil that I vividly remember buying at a used book store in Milwaukee, WI in the early 1990s (does anyone else do that with certain books?).    I also have been paging through my seen-better-days copy of The Place Within, as well as Roman Triptych.  I've been sharing a few of these poems here and here.

What do you like best about it?

The Forgotten Garden was excellent from start to finish.  The novel spans a century of decades, and each chapter moves effortlessly from the early 1900s to 2005, to the 1970s, and back again.  It is extremely well-done and not a bit choppy, as you might expect from a novel that moves around so much chronologically.

The characters are so likeable, even the "bad" ones, that you really want to know what happens to each, and Morton doesn't disappoint.

One fascinating and fun feature are the original fairy tales (written by "The Authoress" in the novel) interjected throughout the book.  A nice touch, and they read as real fairy tales in the style of the Fairy books..

What do you like least about it?

I'm having trouble here finding something in The Forgotten Garden that I don't like.  At first, I was considering writing that no characters act explicitly because of religious belief, but yet people act in an immoral way or a moral way based on their character.  The novel is fairly religion-neutral, not common among modern novels, where sometimes the religious character is the worst.

What's next on your list to read?

I'm searching for Catholic fiction for my regular June fiction round-up, and looking for good suggestions.  Please contact me if you have some ideas.

In the meantime, The Emporer of Nihon-Ja awaits, and I've got several more Kate Morton books on reserve from the library.

What are you reading?  I'd love to hear about it.


  1. I just finished a stack of books from my mom, and it makes me wonder if it really takes any talent to become a best seller. I was so disappointed.

    The first was The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, and I thought it was just boring and the characters were unlikeable. It didn't flow well for me.

    Next up was Secret Daughter by Shilipi Somaya Gowda. Just after reading this book about how girls have it pretty bad in India there was an article on the internet showing the statistics for girls are getting worse. I found this book to be a little more interesting, but the characters were still somewhat unlikeable. The mother from India who gave up her daughter touchd my heart though.

    The Color of Water by James McBride was interesting. It was written by a man whose mother was white and father was black, and it bounced back between his perspective and the perspective of his mother, whom he interviewed. I thought his mother's chapters were very good, but horribly sad. I sometimes would forget what was going on with the bouncing back and forth, but I think that's just because I lack focus. I thought his mom really did a good job in trying to make a home for her 12 children, even if by today's standards it might not appear very good.

    Lastly was The Particular Sadness if Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I was into it I was intrigued. I didn't agree with the reaction of the daughter to her mother's affair. The last fourth of the book was best, and I just wish it all could have been that interesting.

    One really enjoyable read from several weeks ago was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

    I'm awaiting the Fall release of the third and final YA book by James Dashner. I don't know the name of the series, but I discovered it after reading The Hunger Games. They are similarly weird (in a way I like), but enjoyably different enough. The first of the series was The Maze Runner.

  2. As always, thanks for adding to my library list (at least with the more positively reviewed ones). Have you read The Forgotten Garden? I think you would like it.