Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The story is Gilman's account of the time she and a friend spent backpacking through Asia in the mid 1980s. Absolutely fascinating. You think the story is just going to be a travelogue but it's not; it's a story about travel, yes, but also about people and her friendship with her traveling buddy--who apparently has secrets of her own.
I highly recommend this book.
Monday, December 14, 2009
The story follows Cameron, a teenager who's been diagnosed with mad cow disease and is dying. He's given a chance to truly live by going on a c-r-a-z-y road trip through the help of a punk rock angel, so he takes it.
I liked the book; it was crazy and interesting and, like The Sweet Far Thing, didn't resolve with sugar plums and happiness.
Speaking of sugar plums and other foods, I just finished A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. I adore Wizenberg's column in Bon Appetit, so I wanted to read her book.
It was a mix of memoir and recipes and was a lovely read. She had numerous recipes I want to try, particularly her sister's scones. Also, I like her concept of mixing to create a meal--that delicious dinners (or lunches or breakfasts) can be easy. It wasn't so much as cooking as blending various ingredients to make a simple meal.
It was a nice read and I really like Wizenberg. She's got a solid fan in me.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick -- Eh, it was ok. Reminded me of The Outlander. I wasn't impressed either one, though. Both are very atmospheric, which is enjoyable, though.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris -- Going to see a play written by him this week--exciting! I like Sedaris...this was a good read, not my favorite by him though.
Fire by Kristin Cashore -- Really good! Liked it better than her first book Graceling.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis -- Obviously a classic in the Christian faith, thought-provoking and good, for sure
Just decided not to finish Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines...I didn't care for the style of writing or the characters. So I flipped ahead, read the very end and find myself satisfied with my decision.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Here's the plot: Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has lived in the Theatre Illuminata for her entire life. The Theatre is home to every single play ever written--and all the characters. Beatrice, who is an orphan that was dropped off at the Theatre (little subplot about "who's my mother" is worked in) is an annoying troublemaker and about to be kicked out unless she proves her worth to the theater. So she tries to. There also may be two guys she's interested in, both of whom get involved in her plot to save her life in the theater. Also, she has four annoying fairy friends. Trouble ensues.
Alright, obviously there's more to the plot but I just didn't like the story. Beatrice's motives and decisions changed sooo quickly and without reason. Plus, she's annoying and honestly, sort of deserves to get kicked out of the Theatre. AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON HER FAIRY FRIENDS. UGGGGGH. I have so many issues with them. And really, with most of the characters...some kept in their "character" while others adopted totally modern personalities. Annoying.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The last book is Splendor. Can we give whoever designed the covers of this entire series major props? GORGEOUS. The back cover has more of her dress, too.
Splendor wraps up Elizabeth, Carolina, Penelope and Diana's stories, with varying degrees of success. The girls' lives have each reached a breaking point, where lies will be discovered and truth revealed. And this book, like the others, has major drama: druggings, adultery, European royalty, interrupted weddings, etc. Godbersen does know how to write an entertaining story.
Let's talk about the ending. I'm happy that Elizabeth and Teddy end up together (finally). Carolina seemed to be more likable in this book, but it took her freakin' long enough to finally start providing for her sister. And is it bad I wanted her to end up with the slimy clerk? Ah well, didn't happen. Penelope sort of got what she deserved--as did Henry. I was never a huge fan of Henry and Diana, mainly because Henry was so spineless (and of course, the whole moral issue of adultery). Diana's ending, though, wasn't satisfactory. Diana runs off to Paris--loves many men ("who all loved differently")--and is an artist? Hmmm.
Overall, the ending felt rushed. I didn't need specific endings for people and the vague descriptions weren't satisfactory (eg., "Carolina and Claire threw lavish parties." Really? Is that all there is to life? Throwing amazing parties?). Yeah, definitely a bleh ending.
So The Luxe series is over but it was fun, fluff reading while it lasted. And the book covers are amazing.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
NANCY PEARL, YOU BROKE MY HEART. I love your picks. Please tell me what to read. Waaah.
So there was a big controversy over the original cover. I'm glad they went with the cover they did. Although I'm not sure what those blue things are she's holding. Seriously, that's bugging me. What are they?
Alright, so the narrator, Micah, is unreliable--she tells you upfront she's a liar--but she's going to tell the truth. Riiighhht. I really can't go into detail about the book, else I'd ruin it for you. But let's just say there's a few big twists--so big that my jaw literally dropped open, twice in a row. But I love when the twists actually make sense and real hidden truths in the early part of the book.
I did like it; this unreliable narrator treated me better than the last one. I thought the ending was a bit rushed but overall, definitely a memorable YA read.
Monday, November 2, 2009
After months of waiting, I read Diana Peterfreund's Rampant. My final thought? Eh. Didn't hate it, didn't love it. Also, for some reason, I didn't expect it to be set in modern day, so that threw me off a bit. And the unicorn aspect was different and interesting....but still, just an "eh" overall.
I finished The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry last night. My overwhelming thought on the book? Postmodern.
Here's the Amazon description of it:
"Charles Unwin, a clerk who's toiled for years for the Pinkerton-like Agency, has meticulously catalogued the legendary cases of sleuth Travis Sivart. When Sivart disappears, Unwin, who's inexplicably promoted to the rank of detective, goes in search of him. While exploring the upper reaches of the Agency's labyrinthine headquarters, the paper pusher stumbles on a corpse. Aided by a narcoleptic assistant, he enters a surreal landscape where all the alarm clocks have been stolen. In the course of his inquiries, Unwin is shattered to realize that some of Sivart's greatest triumphs were empty ones, that his hero didn't always come up with the correct solution."
I just didn't have the patience to get into it. Most of the time I was skimming, saying "yeah, yeah, very postmodern, I don't understand what's happen, blah blah." So clearly my attitude didn't really help in my reading and interpretation of the work.
However, Pearl of Pearl's Picks recommend this book and she hardly ever steers me wrong. Ah well.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
As I should've known, the cover has nothing really to do with the book. It's really just a mystery with lots of traveling.
Brief summary: "When an old man strikes up a conversation with Kate Murray and attempts to tell her the story of a murder that has not been brought to justice, journalist Kate Murray brushes him aside - until he mentions her beloved grandmother. Before she can reply, he walks away and she watches in horror as he is knocked down on the road and killed. That fateful moment unleashes a whirlwind of events that takes Kate back into her grandmother's war-time past and across the Atlantic, but every step she takes is tracked by an unknown and deadly enemy..."
The story is typical Kearsley with two timelines and two connected plots. With all of Kate's traveling around Europe and fear that she's being hunted, it reminded me of Mary Stewart (like Madam, Will You Talk?). That's not surprising, considering that Kearsley's work has often reminded me of Stewart.
As for the theme of the book, having grandfathers who served in WWII, I appreciated the focus on veterans and remembrance, as well as the idea that wrong is wrong and needs to be righted. All in all, not a bad read.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
I did read The Magician's Ward by Patricia C. Wrede and it was decent. The "romance" felt rushed, as did the overall story. And I noticed that the back cover copy was very misleading as to what the book was actually about. Here's a brief (and accurate) summary from Amazon:
"This sequel to Mairelon the Magician finds Kim, an apprentice magician and ward of Richard Merrill (Mairelon), in Regency England society. When Mairelon's magic powers are stolen, Kim must trust her magician's abilities to uncover the thief."
Awhile back I also finished The Devil in Music, the last of Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel series.
It was long and took me awhile to get into--but at the end, I was so impressed by the complex weaving that went into the story as well as the twists and reasonings behind people's actions. It was a long read but dived into all sorts of secrets. Also, the title is fabulous--I don't want to ruin it but when the connection was finally revealed, I had to smile in delight at how perfectly named the book is.
All in all, Julian Kestrel's mysteries are definitely a series that's worth reading.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
My stuck-up attitude was probably healthy for my emotional growth because dang, if I had read books like Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver when I was in high school, my whole concept of love could've been pretty romanticized and unrealistic.
First up: gorgeous cover, isn't it? The font inside the book matched the deep, dark blue from the cover. Lovely.
Shiver is rich in atmosphere: fall creeping into winter, girl and boy in love. Briefly, the story is about Grace, who was bitten by wolves as a child. But a wolf with yellow eyes saved her from being devoured. For six years, Grace sees her wolf. Then she meets a boy with yellow eyes--and you've got yourself a nice little angsty love story featuring werewolves.
Obviously, it's LOVE the first time they speak. That's one reason why I enjoy YA--people can fall in undying-I'll-do-anything-for-you love immediately. As that's generally not too realistic, it's probably better I read that sort of book as an adult than as an impressionable teen.
Regardless, I enjoyed this light fantasy, with all its high school angst and passion. I'm definitely reading more Maggie Stiefvater.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I'd like to post a pic of Mairelon but I couldn't find a cover I liked. My copy had a creepy, shadowy '80s vibe going. Let's just say I kept the cover face down when I wasn't reading it. Anyway, both books are YA fantasy, albeit set in totally different eras.
Mairelon does feature a magician, like in Sorcery. Mairelon takes in a street urchin named Kim and they solve a mystery. While there isn't any romance really in this book, I'm hoping for some in book two--Mairelon is in his 20s and Kim is 16, so nothing too illegal going on, at least back in those days. Also, I had a hard time with her name (but not because I don't like the name--I do! One of my best friends is named Kim! Hi Kim!). But this girl, well, I kept on wanting to call her Kat. And were there really Kims back in the early 1800s? I don't know. Her name just didn't suit her personality.
Anyway, the book was a rollicking read. Not as much fun as Sorcery but enough to keep me entertained. I think it was Kim's street slang that threw me off. I can only handle so much guttersnipe talk before I want to throw down the book.
Crown Duel is a fantasy set sometime in past-that-never-was. After the death of her father, Countess Meliara and her brother are forced into defending their people. There's a whole bunch of tricky battles and entanglements and kidnappings and alliances and lots and lots of traveling. Has anyone else ever noticed that some books have huge portions of the story dedicated to descriptions of the characters traveling places (Graceling, anyone?). Those stories also make me thankful for my bed. And the fact that no one has ever forced me to go camping--at least since I was 7 or so (thanks a lot, parents).
All in all, I liked Crown Duel ok, but Meliara's ignorance grated on me. WHY IS SHE SO OBTUSE??? Gaaah. At least she admitted she was ignorant--but then she fled the situation so she could go home and "learn." Oh well. And there was a lot of political discussion, which honestly bores me. For me, politics = snooze. Regardless, I'll read the second book but still, not my favorite book ever.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Ender's Game is a classic YA fantasy novel about an incredibly intelligent (and basically grown-up) little boy who has been chosen as the person who can save mankind from the buggers, an alien race that mankind fought nearly a century ago. Ender isn't exactly aware of this and is forced to become a leader and overcome all sorts of miserable obstacles. He's a child that is and was never truly a child.
I read an interview with Card in which he describes his style as American Plain (or something along those lines) and that is a fabulous way to explain how he writes: plain and simple. I don't really enjoy that style and I think that's where my issue with the book lay: I generally remembered I was reading a book instead of being completely sucked into the story with more descriptions and emotions, etc. I love forgetting that I'm reading but Card didn't really achieve that for me with this work.
A few years ago, I did read another fantasy book by him, Enchantment, which I liked, so I'm not ruling him out by any means.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Side note: although the books may appear to be just fluff, Willig is very intelligent and knows her history--she has several master's degrees and was (still is?) going after her Ph.D. But she makes history fun to read about it.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I love where Collins has gone with the series--the Districts are starting to rebel against the Capital. Katniss is struggling to find where she belongs in the uprising when she and Peeta are forced to face their worst nightmare. The title is perfect (and so's the cover! beautiful!). AND THE ENDING....GAAAHH. I can't wait for book three.
I loved the plotting, the characters, the setting and basically everything about the book. All the elements that made The Hunger Games a success are back.
If you can't tell, I highly recommend this series. It's adventure and action with a bit of dsytopia and some love thrown in. And, in honor of Muse's new CD released today, here's the perfect theme song for the book: Uprising.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Well, she was right--I loved Going Too Far as well. I couldn't put it down. I started reading it around 9:45 p.m. last night (big mistake). An hour later, I had to force myself to put it down so I could go to bed. Today I thought about it on and off all day, excited to finish it.
The plot is fairly simple: bad teen girl gets in trouble and as punishment, is forced to spend her spring break with a cop during his night shift, driving around their small town and doing police-y work. And they just might end up falling for each other...
But what takes the work above the standard plot is the writing and the characters themselves. I literally laughed out loud at some parts and smiled out of sheer enjoyment at others. Meg and the police officer both have their own issues to work through, but they do and don't let a Big Misunderstanding keep them apart. And did I mention that the book is so freakin' cute? The characters aren't cutesy in themselves but the writing makes the story adorable. Sometimes all you want is a happy, funny story and this fit the bill perfectly.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Lovely cover! Browne does seem to luck out in her covers--they've been classy so far. Anyway, the story: Betsy was abandoned as a baby on the doorstep of a posh finishing school in London. (Quick side note: I really like the word posh--and of course, I'm a fan of Posh from Spice Girls--so I think I'm going to try and use that word in my vocabulary more.) It just happens that the couple that run the finishing couple don't have any children and are thrilled to adopt her. Betsy is very happy growing up at the finishing school, but after the death of her adopted mother, Betsy is asked to help run the school.
The school needs quite a bit of updating, so Betsy's got her work cut out for her. There may also be a bit of romance and who's-my-real-mother-searchin sprinkled in, too. There's also quite a few cute little tips on being a lady spread in throughout the book, which made it a charming read.
All in all, it was a light read and didn't make me mad like her last book.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The book is about three main works of art (I think? I've already forgotten)--all of which get stolen. It is also a story FULL of characters. So many that I was lost nearly immediately. The book is also full of theft. Several pieces of art are stolen in Europe; people work separately to find the art and at the end, everything pulls together--and actually in a way that rather surprised me. Looking back, I still don't really get how it all worked but whatever.
My first bit of advice, if you're going to read this book, is to not expect to read a "novel." Think of it as more like people lecturing about art. I enjoyed learning more about art but really, this isn't a true story. Characters aren't fleshed out at all and stuff just seems to happen to further along the plot. And the ending is so sudden, with no lead up to it, that I was taken aback and almost didn't want to accept it. In my mind, the title (The Art Thief) was more about art thieves in general and not a specific person. Any ending can be believable and acceptable to the reader--if there is enough preparation. Charney failed on that front.
The reviewers on Amazon hated this book--out of 54 reviews, 26 of them are one star. Reviewers talked about ripping up the book after reading. Many mentioned laughing out loud at parts that weren't even supposed to be funny. While I don't think it was quite a one star read, it was actually pretty bad for a novel. But I did enjoy reading more about art!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Into Thin Air is Krakauer's account of a deadly storm that hit Mt. Everest in May 1996. He barely survived but others climbing with him didn't.
Before I read this book, I never realized how dangerous climbing truly was (or how cold!). It raises interesting thoughts on what compels people to try something so deadly.
The read was intense, organized and didn't dwell too long on "afterwards." I highly recommend it.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Here's a summary from the cover copy:
"A hysterical phone call from Henry Archer's ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend his well-ordered life and bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago. Henry is a lawyer, an old-fashioned man, gay, successful, lonely. Thalia is now 28, an actress-hopeful, estranged from her newly widowed crackpot mother -- Denise, Henry's ex. Hoping it will lead to better things for her career, Thalia agrees to pose as the girlfriend of a former child star and current horror-movie luminary who is down on his romantic luck. When Thalia and her complicated social life move into the basement of Henry's Upper West Side townhouse, she finds a champion in her long-lost father, and he finds new life -- and maybe even new love -- in the commotion."
Yep, that sums up the book. I enjoyed it, although it was almost a bit slap-happy for me. I don't remember her other books being that way....although it fit with the whole showmanship aspects of Thalia and the "horror-movie luminary."
I had trouble remembering that Henry is the central character and that Thalia wasn't the main focus. If I had, I would've been more content in her story being more of a periphery one.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I wanted to see the movie (actually just saw it last night and Meryl Streep was amazing in it; Amy Adams' haircut was awful) and of course, wanted to read the book first. But I just couldn't force myself beyond page 50.
Powell swears up a storm--I can handle a few words sprinkled in but her usage was sooo unnecessary and constant. And she keeps on bashing Republicans constantly. I'm pretty darn non-political but I'm not a Democrat, so her continual blame on that political party got old quickly.
Probably my biggest issue is the simple fact that the book is more of a memoir about her life and not really about her cooking. I don't care about your crappy apartment, Julie, or the fact that you're not-really-ok-maybe-slightly interested in guys other than your husband. It's marketed as a food book; I want it to be about food.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The book left me in awe. Larsson tied his last book into this one and yet diverged it in a fabulous way. So good.
Lisbeth Salander ("the girl") is accused of murdering three people. Mikael Blomkvist doesn't believe she did it and starts investigating to find the truth. What actually happened--and what is being hidden--is much deeper and darker than he could know...
The pace starts out slower, with police procedural work becoming part of the story, yet Larsson manages to make it interesting and then bumps up the story to compelling. His commentary on Sweden's society is subtle yet condemning. The twists and turns in the plot were completely unexpected and surprising and made perfect sense. And Lisbeth Salander is one of the most interesting characters I've ever read about.
I dreamed about the first one and yes, dreamed about this one, too. Now I want to re-read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And thank the Lord there's a third book, coming out sometime soon (I hope!).
Friday, August 7, 2009
Voice is about a Jewish (and Christian) slave girl who is captured during the fall of Jerusalem and ends up a slave for a Roman family. She ends up caring deeply for the family (especially the son!) but faces dire consequences for her faith. Tied in with her story is another slave-forced-to-be-a-gladiator. Rivers weaves numerous storylines together so well--it's definitely an epic story.
Rivers is a great writer....for proof of this, my younger sister, who didn't like reading (how are we even related???), read Rivers' Redeeming Love and suddenly discovered she liked reading!
This series is from the early 1990s but it's remained in print since then--clearly people like it. It's book one in a trilogy, so I'll post reviews about books two and three in the months to come.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Also, thanks to Angie's recommendation, I also read Emily Gee's The Laurentine Spy. It's a nicely-done piece of fantasy work...more serious than I prefer, but still enjoyable. Go read her lovely review if you want more details about it...