Jorie’s Top Ten Favorite Books She Read Before She Was A Blogger


Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish

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  1. Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 
  2. Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country
  3. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird 
  4. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales 
  5. Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies 
  6. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince 
  7. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees 
  8. Joseph Heller’s God Knows 
  9. Sarah Dessen’s Keeping the Moon 
  10. Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary 

Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe


Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle | eBranch Harris County Public Library

(Written 31 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle & Grace Conlin (Narrator)

Release Date: May 9, 2006
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN:  9781455100132

Duration: 13 hours, 39 minutes

Reasons for Reading: I wanted another eAudio. Also, I wanted something very different from Black Like Me. When I saw a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, I felt I’d achieved that. All I remembered about her was that she was an artist that one of my sixth grade teachers said painted whatever she saw around her. While I found this simplistic, I felt there must be more to Georgia O’Keeffe. So, I checked it out via HCPL Overdrive and ultimately listened to it on my Nook Tablet.

Summary: This book takes on the true story of the American iconoclast – Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe marched to the beat of her own drummer perhaps from the beginning. Her larger than life story, bigger than some of her canvasses, draws interest.This artist lived nearly a century, one marked in change and evolution. Just the roles she played throughout her life – woman, artist, muse, lover, wife, friend, etc don’t begin to define her.

One Thing I Learned from reading Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe: O’Keeffe was the namesake of her maternal grandfather – George Victor Totto, a Hungarian count who came to the US in 1848.

What I Liked:  I liked that the author expressed herself in an objective way. Lisle portrayed O’Keeffe, warts and all, as the saying goes. She also described O’Keeffe’s mercurial ways very well.

What I Disliked: I blame myself for this. When I read about a visual artist in the future, I must skip an audiobook. I truly must see the pictures. While this encouraged me to browse online for O’Keeffe’s art, it was rather inconvenient listening to this on my work commute.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Georgia on my Mind- Ray Charles – YouTube

Setting: Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, Chicago

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Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult | LibraryThing

(Written on Monday, 14 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Release Date: March 9, 2007
Publisher: Atria
ISBN: 0743496728 
Pages: 455
Source: Library

Reasons for Reading: I read My Sister’s Keeper several years ago. Later, I posted a review when I reread it before doing a book talk at a senior center. When Nineteen Minutes came out in 2007, I didn’t want to read about a school shooting. Yet, watching the continuous coverage of the Sandy Hook shootings, I realized the importance of understanding such situations. So, I requested the book via HCPL.

Summary: Sterling, New Hampshire is a sleepy little town where denizens settle so they can send their kids to good schools. Nothing of note really happens in Sterling until March 6, 2007. In nineteen minutes, bullied Sterling High School junior Peter Houghton hauls five guns into the high school and goes on a shooting spree. When Detective Patrick DuCharme apprehends Peter in the locker room, he finds jock Matt Royston dead but Royston’s girlfriend, Josie Cormier, stirring. Daughter of Madam Justice Alex Cormier, Josie recalls nothing. Picoult relates a tale of bullying, broken relationships, and a reeling town.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes: Battered person syndrome is a physical and psychological condition that is classified as ICD-9 code 995.81.

What I Liked:  I liked that Picoult began with the date of March 6, 2007. This gave me an idea of the setting and attitudes to expect. Also, she fed into my preference of having a date stamp.

Also, I appreciate that Picoult deals with relevant events and offers likely reasons for characters’ motives. On the whole, this novel has believable, sympathetic characters.

While I’ve yet to read Change of Heart, The Pact, or Salem Falls, I liked that Picoult brought back characters Patrick Ducharme, Jordan McAfee, and Selena McAfee. This gives me hope that I might see friendly faces if I pick up other books by her.

What I Disliked: I did appreciate the time stamp of March 6, 2007. However, Picoult would toggle between the big event and chapters with titles along the lines of “Seventeen Years Earlier.” Couldn’t she have added “1990” to this?

Then, there was the sense that this book’s plot was “straight from the headlines.” I’d avoided this book dealing with school shootings for a long time, not wanting to be reminded of Columbine High School Massacre around the time Nineteen Minutes hit the bookshelves.

Additionally, I remember reading My Sister’s Keeper and found reading Nineteen Minutes like watching any M. Night Shyamalan movie after I’d seen The Sixth Sense. Thus, I tended to smell a rat early in the narrative. I won’t spoil the end but I wanted to know more about how certain characters were doing. Maybe I’ll see them in another Picoult work.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks – YouTube

Setting :  Sterling New Hampshire

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John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me


Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin | LibraryThing

(Last book review of books finished in 2012!)

Griffin, J. H., & Childs, R. (2004). Black like me. Middletown, Me.: Audio Bookshelf, LLC.

Reasons for Reading:Yet again, I sought another nonfiction eAudio work to entertain me during my work commute. I came across Black Like Me, checked it out from the HCPL Digital Media Catalog, and put it on my iPhone.

Summary: Texas Writer John Howard Griffin underwent a bold experiment like no other. He left his home in Mansfield, Texas with the intent to “pass as black.” With the help of a reticent New Orleans dermatologist, Griffin took a course of drugs, endured sunlamp treatments, and applied skin creams in order to understand the “black experience” firsthand. He also shaved his head and, later, his arms.

Then, he traveled through the Deep South as a black man. His social experiment altered the lives of many. Black Like Me is a journal of Griffin’s courageous experiment. The title comes from Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variations”

Rest at pale evening…

A tall slim tree…

Night coming tenderly

Black like me.

What I Liked: I appreciated what Griffin did. Also, I found Griffin to be a gifted writer who wanted to understand and help his fellow citizens. I liked that Griffin didn’t lie, either. He seemed to be an interesting and virtuous man.

What I Disliked:  Many versions of this book exist. I’m grateful I got an edition with an epilogue which Griffin wrote in the 1970s. As hindsight is 20/20, Griffin related the outcome of Black Like Me. It’s my feeling that this should be the version everyone reads.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: Texas, New Orleans, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina

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H. Joaquin Jackson & David Marion Wilkinson’s One Ranger: A Memoir


One Ranger: A Memoir (Bridwell Texas History Series) by H. Joaquin Jackson | LibraryThing

Jackson, H. J., Wilkinson, D. M., & Linn, R. (2005). One ranger: A memoir. Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audiobooks. 9780786179978

Reasons for Reading: Once again, I browsed for eAudio. As I usually prefer hearing nonfiction, I perused biographies when I spotted One Ranger: A Memoir. I scanned the description and decided to listen to the memoir during my work commute. I uploaded the eAudio to my iPhone from HCPL’s Digital Media Catalog.

Summary: Like many other boys who grew up in Twentieth Century Texas, Joaquin Jackson dreamed of becoming part of the legendary Texas Rangers. The 6 foot 5 inch Jackson’s dream came true in 1966. Jackson embarked on a career which led him to many adventures, friendships, and fame. His picture graced the cover of Texas Monthly (see the book cover :)), he gained bit parts in movies with the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, and Nick Nolte even modeled his character in the movie Extreme Prejudice after him. Of course, Jackson experienced many points of heartache as well.

What I Liked: I enjoyed Jackson’s sense of humor throughout his memoir. Also, I thought Rex Linn was the perfect choice to narrate this work. I nearly thought Linn was Jackson himself. Soon after I began listening to One Ranger, I got a mention from UT Press on Twitter and that was awesome!

What I Disliked:  I believe this error was due to the download but one chapter didn’t properly work. I had to check out the print version and read what happened. Also, a sequel – One Ranger Returns – exists but it’s not in eAudio format. I hope this changes soon.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: Texas

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Ron Hall & Denver Moore’s What Difference Do It Make?…


What Difference Do It Make?: Stories of Hope and Healing by Ron Hall | LibraryThing

Hall, R., Moore, D., & Vincent, L. (2009). What difference do it make?: Stories of hope and healing. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson. 9780849920196

Reasons for Reading: After reading Same Kind of Different as Me for our Bible Study group, my mom found this sequel of sorts.  She checked out What difference do it make?: Stories of hope and healing from HCPL and recommended I read it, too.

Summary: (Warning: Must Read Same Kind of Different As Me… before starting this book.) What Difference Do It Make… is a collection of stories and events which were spurred on by Same Kind of Different as Me.

What I Liked: It was great finding out that a single book led to so many awesome acts. Also, I appreciated the authenticity of it. These people had problems and they didn’t shy away from admitting them.

What I Disliked:  Why couldn’t Same Kind of Different as Me have been this awesome?

Four Out of Five Pearls

 
Setting: Dallas, Ft. Worth, Louisiana, Italy, United States 
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Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters


The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton | LibraryThing:

Clayton, M. W. (2008). The Wednesday sisters: A novel. New York: Ballantine Books. 9780345502827

Reasons for Reading : After I read The Four Ms. Bradwells, I wanted to read another Meg Waite Clayton book. So, I checked out The Wednesday Sisters at HCPL.

Summary: In the setting of late 1960s Palo Alto, California, five women gather at the park near their homes. Brought to the neighborhood by their husbands’ jobs, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally begin meeting Wednesday mornings. These ladies differ greatly – the narrator is the meek Chicago Catholic Frankie. She’s awful baffled by blunt, athletic Linda, Kentucky debutante Kath, brilliant Brett who never goes without her white gloves, and secretive Ally. Yet, they’re all readers and closet writers. Thus, at Linda’s urging, the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. Not only do the Wednesday Sisters write, they also support each other throughout the years.

What I Liked:  After I finished this book, I wanted to start my own Wednesday Sisters Writing Socierty. I still adore the idea. Anyone who has asked me for a book recommendation has received this response “Have you read The Wednesday Sisters yet?

Also, I liked that only Frankie narrated. She talked of her attitudes and actions in past events even when they didn’t reflect well on her.

What I Disliked: A few sections, Frankie told of what had happened to other characters in the book. This nearly took on a third person omniscient point of view which seemed unnatural.

Other than Frankie’s husband, Danny, I had a hard time remember which spouse went with each Wednesday Sister.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Paperback Writer – The Beatles

Setting :  Palo Alto California, Hawaii

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Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer’s Between the Lines


Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer | LibraryThing

Picoult, J., & Leer, S. . (2012). Between the lines. New York: Simon Pulse/Emily Bestler Books/Atria. 9781451635751

Reasons for Reading: I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference last summer where I saw authors Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer. This mother and daughter team wrote a book called Between the Lines which sounded very different from any other Picoult book I knew. When I returned to Houston, my mom and I requested this book from HCPL.

Summary: Quiet high school loner Delilah would rather read than contend with her fellow students. This is how she becomes immersed in the fairy tale “Between the Lines.” Delilah falls in love with the valiant hero, Prince Oliver. It’s as though he’s real!

Then, Prince Oliver DOES speak to Delilah. He’s a teenage actor confined to a storybook. More than anything, Prince Oliver wants to escape and live in the very real world of living, breathing love  – Delilah.  

So, these two work together so they can exist in the same world.

 What I Liked: The concept was awesomely original! I liked reading the pieces of “Between the Lines” as well as the perspectives of Delilah and Prince Oliver.  I appreciated the collaboration of the authors as well as the characters within the book. Lastly, the illustrations were beautiful.

What I Disliked: Without spoiling the end, I felt it was a little rushed. On the whole, I was satisfied with the conclusion but I found it bittersweet.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Plain White T’s – “Hey There Delilah” – YouTube

Places : United States

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For more on Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer’s Between the Lines, check out the following sites:

Siobhan Vivian’s The List


The List by Siobhan Vivian | LibraryThing

Vivian, S. (2012). The list. New York: PUSH. 9780545169172

Reasons for Reading: When perusing other bloggers’ Top Ten Tuesday lists, I stumbled upon Siobhan Vivian’s The List. The conflict described appealed to me so much that I sought the title at my library. When I found the book online, I requested in via HCPL.

Summary: Every year, some anonymous soul posts The List all over Mount Washington High during Homecoming Week. The List shares the names of eight girls, two from each grade – the prettiest and the ugliest. As the summary inside the book says:

ABBY’S joy at being named to the list is clouded by her sister’s resentment.

DANIELLE worries about how her boyfriend will take the news.

LAUREN is a homeschooled girl blindsided by her instant popularity.

CANDACE isn’t ugly, not even close, so it must be a mistake.

BRIDGET knows her summer transformation is nothing to celebrate.

SARAH has always rebelled against traditional standards of beauty, and she decides to take her mutiny to the next level.

And MARGO and JENNIFER, ex-best friends who haven’t spoken in years, are forced to confront why their relationship ended.

These eight girls struggle throughout the book, confronting their social stature as defined in print in eight different ways. While written in third person, the reader becomes privy to the thoughts of these eight girls.

What I Liked: The mystery of who was posting The List compelled me to read this so quickly I nearly suffered paper cuts. While I figured out the culprit well before I hit the back cover, I wanted to know the motives. Author Vivian formed intriguing characters and dealt with true issues such as: popularity, bullying, eating disorders, and self-esteem. I cared about some of these girls, especially Lauren and Danielle.

What I Disliked: The ending (which will remain unspoiled by this reviewer) left me dissatisfied. I wondered if this was the birth of the series as there were some thread left looser than I would’ve desired. Also, eight different characters was at least four too many characters in my opinion. The author could’ve pleased me by focusing on the story of ex-best friends Margo and Jennifer. Lastly, I sure didn’t like most of the parents featured in this book. Dishonorable mention goes to Abby’s parents, Lauren’s mother, and Candace’s mother.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved – YouTube

Setting: United States

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Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards | LibraryThing

Edwards, K. (2005). The memory keeper’s daughter. New York: Viking. 9780786571031

Reasons for Reading : One of my friends asked me to read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. (Check out its entry on my TBR list.) Initially, I checked it out from HCPL. Then, I found I could check it out in eBook format from Houston Public Library.  I did this so I could read it on my Nook during my vacation.

Summary: Due to a blizzard in 1964 Kentucky, Dr. David Henry delivers his own twins. First, David delivers a healthy son, Paul. After delivering his daughter, Phoebe, David sees that she has Down Syndrome. Wanting to spare his wife, Norah, heartache, David asks his loyal nurse, Caroline Gill, to secretly institutionalize his daughter. Caroline, though, leaves Kentucky with the baby girl and raises her as her own daughter.  This split second decision changes the lives of David, Norah, Caroline, and their children.

What I Liked: The language of the narrative is lovely. Also, I felt David’s motives were well-explained by the author. He seemed earnest and loving. Norah’s relationship with her sister, Bree. I truly admired Caroline for her love and heroism. It was a relief to me that Caroline created a family of friends for her daughter, Phoebe. Lastly, I found the photography motif beautiful.

What I Disliked: Towards the end of the book, I wondered if Edwards just didn’t know what to do with it. She added in some characters in the eleventh hour to help resolve conflicts. Throughout the book, I wanted to throttle the good doctor and say “Tell your wife that your daughter lives!”

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Kentucky Rain-Lyrics-Elvis Presley – YouTube

Setting : Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Aruba, France

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