There are now TWO ways to see reviews from the Meg's Monthly Booklist
archives. You can go to the Monthly
or try out the new
BookSearch search engine (where you can search for a specific
book). With choices like those, you just don't have any
- (2/25) Letters to Harry by Janet Farrington Graham.
- Collection of letters the author wrote to her best friend
Harry during the last year of her mother's life (she dies from breast
cancer at the end of the
book). I think this book would be a great help for anyone in a
similiar situation -- the author puts into words many of the emotions both
through (anger, fear, confusion, frustration, sadness, hope, apathy,
etc.) and helps the reader understand the progression through the phases
and how each one can make one feel. While I'm not a caretaker for a
dying mother (let's not even think about that right now), I saw a lot in
mother of this book that I also see in my 90+ year old great
aunt. Reading this book helped me better understand her anger and
I think will help our relationship greatly over the remaining years
of her life. Recommended to anyone looking for some help with this kind of
- (2/22) The Blood of Strangers by Frank Huyler (MD).
- Collection of vignettes about Huyler's experiences as an ER
doctor. Has a good balance of medical information and cheesy
introspection. If you like reading about medical cases and stuff, you'll
enjoy this. But I'd advise the less-hearty of you skip the story about
the maggots. My stomach is STILL upset.
- (2/19) The Strangeness of Beauty by Lydia Minatoya.
- Absolutely beautiful novel about three generations of Japanese
women. When Etsuko's sister Naomi dies during childbirth in Seattle,
Etsuko takes on the role of mother to the baby, Hanae. After a few years
of American life together, Hanae's father decides it's time to send both
Hanae and Etsuko back to Japan, so Hanae can learn about her heritage and
get to know her maternal grandmother, Chie. The three women, a Japanese
woman from a prestigious samurai family (Chie), her ignored
American-immigrant daughter (Etsuko), and her American-born granddaughter
(Hanae), learn much about each other and the world during their turbulent
years together. The setting is pre-World War II Japan, providing not only
an incredible background, but the means for a fascinating history lesson
as well. The characters are unique, intense, and real. And their
interactions (both with each other and with their countries) are some of
the most moving demonstrations of emotion I've encountered in a novel in
some time. My fiance gave me this book for Valentine's Day, saying he
thought it sounded like a book I might enjoy (and he knows how much a good
book can impact me) -- I found it absolutely amazing that he was so right
on. While a book might not sound like the most romantic of gifts, it sure
says a lot about him that he knew me so well he was able to pick out a
book I not only couldn't put down, but felt moved to copy passages out of
as well. Highly, HIGHLY recommended! (And, boy, am I marrying well or
- (2/17) Hell House by Richard Matheson.
- Horror story about "the Mount Everest of haunted houses," the
Belasco House. Rumored to be haunted by its owner, Emeric Belasco, and a
houseful of his victims, the house has been the subject of supernatural
investigations twice beofre -- in both cases, nearly everyone involved
died. This time, though, two mediums, a scientist determined to prove
ghosts don't exist, and the scientist's naive and easily spooked wife
believe they can solve the mystery once and for all. But when the
terrifying torments begin, they all start to doubt their faith in their
abilities -- will they live long enough to find out the truth? Or will
Belasco get them in the end as well? A little on the cheesy side (and the
explanation of why Belasco was such an angry person is just plain stupid),
but still fun to read on a dark and stormy night. Just for kicks, I also
rented the 1973 film version of this novel, starring Roddy McDowal. Take
it from me, it ain't worth the $3 rental fee.
- (2/15) Praying for Sleep by Jeffery Deaver.
- Suspenseful thriller about an escaped mental patient who
police believe has left to hunt down the woman who put him away. As I was
reading this, I was thinking it was good, but not all that original. And
then I got to the ending -- holy cow! Never saw that coming! I've
liked almost every Deaver novel I've read and this is one of the more
clever ones. Recommended!
- (2/11) Five Mile House by Karen Novak.
- Entertaining novel about a female police officer, Leslie, who
snaps one day at work and shoots a man accused of murdering a child.
After a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital, she, her husband, and her
two small children decide to move to a small town in New England, where
her husband has been offered a job renovating an old mansion. The mansion
has a history -- it's said that Eleanor Bly murdered her children and then
committed suicide there over 100 years ago. Leslie is shocked to discover
she looks just like Eleanor and even more shocked when she begins to
discover the truth about why her family was asked to move there. The
truth about what happened at the Bly house starts to come out, bit by bit.
The story is narrated by the ghost of Eleanor Bly, who has known Leslie
was coming and is desperate to help her avoid the same fate. This was a
spooky novel, well-written and very engrossing. Recommended!
- (2/8) Rainlight by Alison McGhee.
- Incredibly sad novel about the effects the death of one man,
Starr Williams, has on the people around him. Each chapter is written
from the point of view of one of the characters -- his 8-year old daughter
Mallie, his wife Lucia, his father Tim, and his friend and ex-girlfriend
Crystal. Their individual struggles with grief will break your
heart. The writing is unusual and powerful. This is a beautiful
book. But read it only when you're prepared to be kind of blue for
awhile. I have also read McGhee's novel "Shadow Baby," and enjoyed it
greatly as well. I will look for more of her stuff in the future.
- (2/2) Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart.
- Very enjoyable book about the ex-Genesis drummer's move from city-life
in London to a ramshackle farmhouse in Andalucia, Spain. As usually
happens in books like these (otherwise, why write it all down?), lots of
hilarious miscommunications and disasters take place as Stewart and his
try to settle into their new fish-out-of-water lifestyle. But even though
these books are always somewhat the same, I enjoy them all a lot because
they always take you to places you might not have seen otherwise. And the
people you meet there are always very memorable. Stewart is a good writer
with a talent for description and an excellent sense of humor. If you
books like these, you'll enjoy this one.
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