Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Book Review Club (January 2011)

Welcome to our first Book Review Club of 2011! Pull up a chair, settle in and get ready to add to your to-be-read pile. Also...drum roll...Sarah Laurence reviews our very own Keri Mikulski's young adult HEAD GAMES, which hits shelves tomorrow! I'll keep my review short so you can get to all the fabulous links below.

TOO MUCH HAPPINESS by Alice Munro is a book of ten amazing short stories. Alice Munro has won the Governor General's Award three times, the Man Booker Prize and many other awards. She tells a short story like no other.

Most of her short stories are about women. And most of them take place in southwestern Ontario. When you read a short story by Alice Munro, you are completely drawn in. It is truly as if you're there, with the characters, living the events. For example, in Dimensions, Doree's three children are murdered. When she gets on the bus to visit the killer, her ex-husband, I can't imagine why she'd go to visit him. And more than once. By the end of the bus ride, I'm convinced I'd do exactly the same thing.

According to the author, it takes her about 6-8 months to write a story. She writes every day for 2-3 hours. When asked how she's able to "create an entire life in a page," Alice Munro answered, "I always have to know my characters in a lot of depth—what clothes they’d choose, what they were like at school, etc . . . And I know what happened before and what will happen after the part of their lives I’m dealing with. I can’t see them just now, packed into the stress of the moment. So I suppose I want to give as much of them as I can." Here's a link to the interview.

Here is a YouTube video of an interview with Alice Munro. It's from a couple of years ago. She has a very good sense of humor.

And, now let the reviews begin!

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: MASTERPIECE by Elise Broach (middle grade fantasy)

Jody Feldman: DEALING WITH DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede (middle grade fantasy)

Scott Parker: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney (middle grade)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud Montgomery (middle grade)

Sarah Laurence: HEAD GAMES by Keri Mikulski (young adult)

Thao of serene hours: GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD by Eileen Cook (young adult)


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Patti Abbott: STONER by John Williams

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: ROOM by Emma Donoghue (literary)

Linda McLaughlin: WARRIOR by Zoe Archer (paranormal romance)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST by Steig Larsson (mystery)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery

NONFICTION REVIEWS

Staci of Life in the Thumb: LITTLE PRINCESS: ONE MAN'S PROMISE TO BRING HOME THE LOST CHILDREN OF NEPAL by Connor Grennan (memoir)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: A CHRISTMAS STORY by Jean Shepherd (autobiographical essays)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: GARDENING FOR A LIFETIME by Sydney Eddison

Stacy Nyikos: THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES by Joseph Campbell (writing craft)

Kathy Holmes: COMMONSENSE 101: LESSONS FROM GK CHESTERTON by Dale Ahlquist


**Reviewers, you know the scoop. If I've made a mistake, leave me a comment, and I'll get right on it. Thank you for all your hard work!**

13 comments:

Rose said...

I'm embarrassed to say I don't think I've ever read anything by Alice Munro. Thanks for reminding me, Barrie, to put her on my "must read" list!

Sarah Laurence said...

It was a pleasure to review Keri's YA novel and interview her. I've been reading Munro's collection slowly to savor it and because they are often depressing. Each one is as full as a novel so I'm not surprised they take so long to write. I agree with your review of that first story and will check out the links to the interviews. Thanks for hosting!

Kathy Holmes said...

I haven't read Alice Munro either but how fascinating. And her writing schedule is inspiring, too. I must rectify this oversight.

Susan R. Mills said...

Lots of great books to check out. Thanks for the link. I won an ARC of Head Games. It's sitting in my tbr pile. I'll definitely go check out Sarah's review on it. I had not heard of Alice Munro. I'll have to add her to my list as well. Thanks for the review!

Barrie said...

Rose, Kathy, Susan: I'm kind of jealous because now you have ALL of Alice Munro in front of you!

Barrie said...

Sarah, I was sad to come to the end of the book. In fact, I held off reading the last story just to still have one left. ;)

Stacy said...

I've never read Alice Munro, but I now want to!

Barrie said...

Stacy, the first book of hers that I read was THE LIVES OF GIRLS AND WOMEN. It's a coming of age story about a girl named Del. GREAT!!! CBC did a TV adaptation of it, which I have somewhere on a VCR tape. Hmmm....although I don't think I have a VCR that works anymore.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

She is an amazing writer...I need to get my hands on this collection.

kaye said...

my daughter loves Alice Munro. I've been meaning to read some of her stories.

Sarahlynn said...

I haven't read Alice Munro for years. Thanks for this review! That's perhaps the most compelling teaser I've ever read for a short story.

I think I know what my book club will be reading next time I choose. (They were not fans of my last anthology choice - apparently Lorrie Moore's Birds of America was "too depressing.")

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I have great admiration for the short story writers of the world--particularly the great ones. :)
I can't imagine cramming a whole story into just a few pages like that.

Great review!

Ellen Booraem said...

Somehow I forgot to comment here, Barrie!

I love Alice Munro when I've read her in the New Yorker. YOu're making me want more than an occasional read, though. Very cool review. Thanks!