What I Did (Read) on My Winter Vacation

I just emerged from two weeks of hibernation to rejoin productive society. In other words, I’ve been on vacation. I participated in the usual family holiday festivities, sure, albeit fewer than most others did due to the small size of my clan. To be honest, I was actively trying to keep this vacation relaxed and low-key. I felt I needed it and deserved it. My promise to myself was to spend as much time reading as I possibly could. And read I did. I may not have made as huge a dent in my To-Read pile as I might have hoped, but over the course of 15 days, I read 6 books. Considering that I currently average about 1½ books per month, I was pretty thrilled with those results. I was also thrilled that I read books from several genres. Reading outside my usual categories was one of my goals for 2012, one that I will continue to explore in 2013.

So here’s a run-down of what I read on my winter holiday break (in the order read):

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier — The second book in a trilogy about a time-traveling teen who is now a reluctant member of a secret society that goes back generations in her family. I read the first book (Ruby Red) earlier this year and couldn’t wait for this one to come out in October. There’s mystery, a sinister villain from the past, fencing and a convoluted romance (of course). The only problem is now I’m stuck waiting for the last volume to come out in fall of 2013. Sigh. This series was originally published in Germany and has been since translated into several languages.

Lou! #1- Secret Diary by Julien Neel — This graphic novel tells the story of a tween and her single mom. You get to follow along as they survive adopting a stray cat, a visit from Memaw, video game addiction, love and each other! The self-deprecating humor and colorful panels make the story a stand-out. I can’t wait to see about getting my hands on numbers 2-4. (Update: I read volumes 2 & 3 last night and they were just as funny and cute as the first one!)

Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur’s Tale of the World’s Richest Princesses (Plus Their Servants, Nannies, and One Royal Hairdresser) by Jayne Amelia Larson — If you’ve read the subtitle, you’ve pretty much read this book. You’re going to get exactly what you expect, stories about the uber-rich spending like there’s no tomorrow. Only, there is a tomorrow and they spend just as much money that day too. What is also included, that you may not expect, is the opportunity to get to know the people who take care of these wealthy Saudis. Their servants and caretakers are real people, with real feelings, and hopes and dreams that they, all too realistically, know won’t come true. To sum up: the princesses are spoiled (not necessarily their fault) and the author, as well as the rest of their domestic help, was overworked.

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters — This more recent, and possibly last, of the Amelia Peabody mystery series finds her archeological family in the Holy Land instead of their beloved Egypt. Amelia’s son, nicknamed Ramses, and his brother from another mother, David, are kidnapped (as usual). Amelia uses her wits to deduce what’s happened to them and her pointy parasol to prod the story along. Her dashing and boisterous husband, Emerson, uses his massive countenance and forceful personality to orchestrate the rescue of Ramses and David.

White Jacket Required: A Culinary Coming-of-Age Story by Jenna Weber — Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be another cooking-blog-turned-book, here it is! Jenna always wanted to be a writer and the idea of combining her love of cooking and writing into a career led her to culinary school. Her journey, from making the decision to attend school, through graduation and entrance into the world of work, is interesting. You come to understand that the culinary arts are not as simple as they may appear and no one’s career path is smooth and straight. We all have bumps and roadblocks to make life interesting, and hopefully worthwhile.

Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding by Jessie Sholl — I’ll admit it. I’m kind of fascinated by the television shows about hoarding. Well actually, more than kind of. It’s like the proverbial train wreck that you can’t look away from. I am always shocked by the living conditions of these people, some more than others, and I am always rooting for them to get it together so they can pitch the stuff, mental as well as physical, that’s keeping them a prisoner in their own home. This book approaches hoarding from a slightly different point of view. You get to see how this mental illness specifically affects the child of the afflicted. Jessie finally comes to the realization that she has to “divorce” herself from her mother’s house. Accepting that she cannot change her mother, however, doesn’t mean Jessie loves her any less.

“What’s Melissa going to read next?” you may ask. The answer is I’m reading the book for the Mystery Book Group which is meeting on Friday, January 18th at 1pm in the Teen Meeting Space on the First Floor. Our current theme is Middle East Mysteries and the book for January is Belshazzar’s Daughter by Barbara Nadel. All are welcome!

Happy Snuggly Winter Reading!
-Melissa M.

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