It's really sad, but I've only read about three books since getting back from Iraq, and started various others with little success . . . Part of the problem is that I have a ton of unread books in my apartment but none of which are really peaking my interest right now, I'm trying to avoid Amazon for a while (I feel broke, though of course I'm not), and the internet is pretty damn distracting. I'm still waiting for the whole "I finally have an internet connection in my house" thrall to wear off already.
After walking past The Secret Life of Bees for ages with no interest, reading movie reviews actually inspired me to pick up the book. It was a little cliche at times (1960s era South, young white girl learns about race, crush on black boy being parts of the story though not the major plot), but then again, what isn't? With so many books on the market, there is no such thing as originality. It was a little sentimental on occasion, but I enjoyed the book (actually stayed up way too late reading it), and am looking forward to the movie. While I thought Dakota Fanning was an incredibly creepy child, she seems to have grown into a normal teenager, and I like Queen Latifah.
I also read Isabel Allende's Zorro. It's not one of her best, but it was an entertaining read. I think maybe now I've just read so many of her novels that I tend to recognize certain stock characters (in this one it was the larger than life aunt that echoed the larger than life grandmother of Portraits in Sepia).
Finally, I also read Vinegar Hill. I wouldn't exactly classify it as entertaining since it's a bit dark for that, but it was worth the time. The story takes place in the early 1970s in a rural town in Wisconsin, and talks about one woman's marriage and her life with her in-laws. The main plot concerned the main character's dissatisfaction with her life, and the constrictions society was placing on her, until she had to figure out a way to make herself happy rather than worrying about traditions and rules. It was once on Oprah's Book Club, so it's not as if those themes were a surprise. It was also interesting to see how in certain ways her mother-in-law's life may have helped her relate to her daughter-in-law but instead just made her embittered.