#49. Pam of Babylon (Suzanne Jenkins)

Book: Pam of Babylon, by Suzanne Jenkins

Genre and Year of Publication: Contemporary fiction, 2004

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 334 pages

Briefly, it’s what happens when a man dies suddenly and his widow discovers that he’s been having an affair – and more.

Comments: Ach, no.  The plot line that I’ve indicated is indeed a theme that could be well explored in fiction.  How does a woman come to forgive the mistress of her dead husband and even develop a friendship with her?  But here is it all too slick, too easy.  Add in all the other revelations that come tumbling out about this deceased creep – all in the space of a few weeks, mind you – and Pam’s acceptance of them all, and it just becomes too unrealistic. 

NB: There is some “mature content” which may not be acceptable to more squeamish readers.

Challenges: ebook reading challenge 2014


#44. Sacred Road (Todd Maxwell Preston)

Book: Sacred Road: my journey through abuse, leaving the Mormons and embracing spirituality,
by Todd Maxwell Preston

Genre and Year of Publication: Spiritual memoir, 2013

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 152 pages

Briefly, it’s what it says in the subtitle: one man’s story of leaving the Mormons (“and embracing spirituality”)

Comments: The author’s childhood and adolescence were spent in New Zealand, Australia, and Utah.  His parents were both converts to the Mormon religion – I would have liked to learn a bit more about their stories.  The family was not a happy one, the father in particular being full of anger towards Todd, abusing him physically and emotionally (not sexually).  The Mormon environment was very closed and manipulative, and when as an adult Todd came to realise that it was time for him to leave, it was very difficult.  He had to leave behind his wife and children, as well as his relationship with most of his siblings. 

I would agree with other reviewers who say that he blames things on the Mormon religion which actually should be blamed only on his particular family circumstances.  With that caveat, it is an interesting book.

Challenges: Non-fiction reading challenge, ebook reading challenge.

#32. Do Me, Do My Roots (Eileen Rendahl)

Book: Do Me, Do My Roots, by Eileen Rendahl

Genre: Fiction

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 245 pages

Briefly, it’s about three sisters who get together once a month to dye each other’s hair.  One is a widow, one separated, one not married.  It’s about their relationships with men, with their parents, and with each other.

Comments: This is a “chick lit” type book that treats real issues, like family bonding, the loneliness of widowhood, the support of women – especially sisters – for one another.  It’s funny, has a fairly predictable happy ending, but not superficial.  I enjoyed this a lot.

Challenges: Ebook reading challenge

#20. Road Tripping in America (Lisa McNamara and Paul Olson)

Book: Road Tripping in America: Short Stories from a Long Road Trip, by Lisa McNamara and Paul Oulsen

Genre: Travel

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 162 pages

Briefly, it’s extracts from a blog kept by a couple who left their corporate jobs, sold their apartment, and toured around (western) USA in a Toyota Sienna for a year.

Comments: The authors, from the outset, declare themselves cynical about the “business” that generates from road-tripping, especially the blogging, the book, the self-advertisement.  So their blog posts / book chapters are sometimes a bit cynical, and sometimes left me feeling a bit cynical.  Not always, though.

A lot is left out in this short book, particularly details of how they made decisions about where to go next, or when to move on.  It’s really just a selection of incidents, snapshots more than a movie.

Two things struck me: first, it must put huge strain on any relationship to live in such close quarters for a prolonged period of time, with nowhere else to go.  And second, I read a lot of travel books and so I really should read the classic On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

Challenges: Ebook reading challenge 2014; non-fiction reading challenge 2014.

#13. The Wife of Reilly (Jennifer Coburn)

Book: The Wife of Reilly, by Jennifer Coburn

Genre: Romantic comedy

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 304 pages

Briefly, it’s about Prudence, a New York accountant who wants to divorce her husband Reilly, in order to marry the college sweetheart with whom she has unexpectedly re-connected – but who, to assuage her guilt at dumping Reilly, attempts to find a new wife for him to replace herself.

Comments: The plot is totally absurd, yet there are interesting flashes of reality in here – if there weren’t, I wouldn’t have kept reading to the end.  Elements of the story of Prudence’s relationship with her father were revealing, and towards the end there was an unexpectedly positive account of her encounter with a Catholic nun in a hospital chapel.  But the closing chapter?   Ah well, we all need to escape from reality from time to time.

Challenges: Ebook reading challenge.

#12. City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet Series #2): Tony Dunbar

Book:  City of Beads, by Tony Dunbar

Genre: Murder / mystery

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 228 pages

Briefly, it’s the second book in a murder mystery series, featuring Tubby Dubonnet, a New Orleans lawyer.

Comments: This is the only book in the series that I’ve read.  It was a bit confusing in places, as the author weaves at least three divergent strands of narrative in and out until all converge at the end.  I’d read another book in the series if I came across it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to track it down.  I liked the “feel” of New Orleans that’s portrayed here, though residents of the city might object as it’s focused on some of the less attractive aspects (that any city has).

Challenges: Full House Challenge, for the category “Suspense or Crime”; ebook reading challenge.

#6 Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

Book: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Genre: Classic fiction (Pulitzer Prize winner 1937)

Where I got it: I borrowed a copy from the library and began with that.  But at over 1,000 pages the volume is huge; I found it uncomfortable for reading in bed and impractical for my commute.  So I downloaded a Kindle copy and read most of it on that.

Length: 1,472 pages

Briefly, it’s set in Georgia during and after the American Civil War, and follows in particular the ups and downs of Scarlett O’Hara, her journey from riches to poverty and back to riches again, her loves and hates, her strengths and weaknesses, and her growth in self-

Comments: I had neither read the book nor seen the movie before.  Goodness!  How did I get to this point of my life without exposure to this work?  It’s marvellous!  It’s a book that could be discussed and studied for a very, very long time.  Commentaries on it abound.  I’m glad I read the preface by Pat Conroy in my library edition (Pocket Books Fiction – you’d need a fairly big pocket!) for an understanding of the significance of a book written from the perspective of the women on the losing side of the Civil War.  But don’t bother too much with the commentaries, just read the book.

Challenges: Back to the Classics Challenge, for the (optional) category A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series.  I’m now looking forward to watching the movie, even though I hadn’t initially planned to!