Monday, October 18, 2010

What I've been reading....

So, you wouldn't think so, but it turns out that having a child with a serious illness gives you lots of time to read. 

Spending hours on end sitting in a waiting room while your child is have a procedure or treatment lends for lots of time to crack open a book..which is something I have always loved. 

I've decided to dedicate at least one post a month to reviewing the books I've read.

Let's get started.....

The first book I read in the month of September was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  This book came highly recommend by more than one of the nurses at the Children's Hospital where my daughter has been spending lots of time.  I have to say, this book did not disappoint! 

This is the story of three women, who used the written word, to forever change their small town in Mississippi in 1962.  

It is beautifully written and I really enjoyed how Kathryn developed the characters.  I found that by the end of the book I was crying, laughing and cheering on the three heroines in their challenges and their triumphs. 

I hesitate too say too much about this book, as I would hate to give anything away.  But I will say it is one of the best written that I have read in a while. 

If you enjoy  well written, historical fiction novels, this book is a wonderful read.  I couldn't put it down and it will be a book that will remain on my shelf to share with others. 

My next book was.....

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

This is number sixteen in the Quilter's Apprentice Series.  In this chapter of the series, Bonnie, one of the Elm Creek Quilters, heads to Hawaii to visit a friend and help her set up a new quilters camp at a resort that she and her husband have renovated.   While there, Bonnie takes a good look at her life, which has had a few bumps as of late with a failed business and marriage.  With two life changing options to choose from, which way will she go?

I have to say, as someone who has read this entire series, that I was not impressed as much as I have been by this book.  It was very very slow moving and I was more than half way through the book before I got to a point where I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened.  I was very surprised by this as so many of the books in this series kept my attention and are very quick reads.  I'm wondering if maybe Mrs. Chiaverini is running out of material or is just trying to steer the series in a new direction and took the opportunity to do that in this book. 

Most of the books start out at the present day and then go back in time to give history of the quilts that they find.  This is one of the things that I love most about this series.  The author has a real talent for bringing the past and present together to make a great read. 

In this book, she uses the history of Hawaii as a point of reference.  I thought it would be interesting as I know very little about the islands, and as a history buff, I am always looking to learn more.  However, I felt that this just seemed to dwell on the same short time span in history and repeat itself a few times.  Although parts of the story was interesting, I just didn't feel it flowed well with the rest of the story like Mrs. Chiaverini usually does. 

Either way, I will continue on when the next book comes out.  The characters in this series are fun and I always look forward to seeing where she takes them in each book. 

My third, and final book is.....

The Immortal Life of Henretta Lacks  by Rebecca Skloot

The cover of this book describes it so well:

Doctors took her cells without asking.  Those cells never died.  They launched a medical revolutionized a multimillion dollar industry.  More than twenty years later, her children found out.  Their lives would never be the same. 

This book came recommended to me by a friend on Twitter.  When she said that she was hooked from page 7, I decided I had to find the book and see what all the fuss was about.  I didn't regret it. 

The interesting thing about this book is that it is non-fiction, but the entire thing reads as a novel. 

Ms. Skloot basically stumbled on the mystery of the HeLa cells while studying biology in college.  After deciding that she was going to do what no one had done in almost forty years, figure out who this woman was, she found Henrietta's family and began to find the answers they have been searching for for years.

I will admit that I was a bit intimidated by the thought of reading a book with so much science and medical information in it; but it was written so well and so clearly, that it wasn't even an issue.  Ms Skloot describes the very detailed medical facts in a clear and easy way to understand them.  I learned a lot from this book. 

It was an emotional read for me.  On the one hand, I was so sad for her family and all the hardship they dealt with trying to find out what happened with their mother.  On the other hand, having a child with cancer, means we have benefited from Henrietta and her cells.  Because of her cells, doctors have made huge advances in treatments for many illnesses that were not treatable when she was alive in the 1950's.  Without those cells, those treatments could have taken much longer to find. 

This is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to read a true story that has effected all of us in some way or another.


  1. I just discovered the Quilter's Apprentice series a few weeks ago. I have read the first 6 and am enjoying them. I'll have to check out the others you recommend.

  2. I'm always looking for new, positive books. The first one sounds like something I'd enjoy. You think they have it at the Lawrence Library?

  3. I bet they would! Its been on the best sellers list for a while now.

  4. I read The Help quite recently, as well. LOVED IT. I grew up in the South and could hear those voices/accents in my head.

    As for your other recommendations: Im not usually excited to read series books. So I'll skip that but Henrietta sounds good. :)