Monday, June 30, 2008

oooh yeah

I am irrationally excited for the Olympics. I will probably feature an Olympian from now until has tons of athlete profiles.

This is soccer player Patrick Ianni, who I feel like I've met, for some bizarre reason.


Sunday, June 29, 2008


My friend Becca lent me Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

What can I say? It's absolutely a classic. Ten strangers are stranded on an island and one by one, they die. Each person holds an awful secret--but what connects them? And who is the murderer?

Basically, at the end, you see why Christie is hailed as a brilliant mystery writer. If you like mysteries, try it.

Rating: 9/10

On a side note, I read a book about 10 years ago that took the basic idea of this book and adapted it. Gilbert Morris' Guilt by Association (now reissued as One by One) is the start of one of my favorite mystery series, featuring New Orleans detective Danielle Ross. Seriously, I love that series--it has interesting mysteries, excellent romantic chemistry and is more about characters than bloody mysteries.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

pantsy pants

I had a nice fluffy read with Cathy Marie Hake's inspirational (aka Christian) novel Fancy Pants.

Lady Sydney Hathwell is fleeing a jerk who wants to marry her. She runs off to Texas to her uncle--except her uncle thinks she's a boy. And he makes some random statement about "no women." So, of course, she has to dress up and act like a boy!

To be honest, that was the most entertaining part. Her uncle's ranch manager (or whatever the right term is) tries to make Syd "Fancy Pants" Hathwell into a man...and kind of succeeds. Of course, her secret is revealed, leaving to tension, love, etc.

It's a light, quick read. The characters are fine; no one is annoying. Their faith is real and not drapped into the story. The only issue I had with the book is the jerk who wants to marry Sydney. He's part of the climax...but the solution to the problem he presents is so dumb. I actually wondered if I missed a few pages (I didn't).

It's summertime; you deserve light reading!

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bleh weekend reading

My weekend reading was less than stellar. I started out with Snobbery with Violence by Marion Chesney and ended with Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund. Both were disappointments.

Snobbery had odd writing--I felt like the point of view shifted or suddenly became omniscient. It was odd. And I couldn't get ahold of the main character. She shifted too much to really understand her; however, this is the first book in the series.

It also had a completely predictable plot. Seriously, someone mentioned a totally bizarre theory and somehow they managed to prove it. I was ticked off (let's just say it involved a crazy guy sleeping with virgins to try to cure his syphilis...and yes, this happened in the early 1900s). Did anyone actually believe that anymore, much less an Englishman living in England?

Rating: 4/10

Secret Society Girl was my own issue. I thought it was going to be a serious sort of book, one like The Night Climbers, which has an amazing cover:

Seriously, I love it. So gothic and a great representative of the book.

Anyway, the girl book turned out to be major chick-lit and more about who Amy, the main character, was sleeping with than the secret society. At one point, Amy realizes she wasn't the society's first choice; she gets all sad and is like, oooh, that makes sense, who'd want me? I was like, yeah, that's right, Amy; who would want you? I had to stop my bitterness and finish reading it since I was on a plane and had nothing else to do. Anyway, maybe it was just my not-into-sororities coming out or what, but I will not be continuing the series.

Rating: 5/10


This is a re-read, but I like it so much I want to talk about it. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl is an amazing book.

I stumbled across Pessl's book for the second time at Half-Price Books for $2. Um, yeah, snatched it up. It ended up being the UK version though. I don't actually get the flowers and the Spanish dancing drawings it has inside the cover. It's pretty, but doesn't fit the book at all. Whatever.

The story is about Blue Van Meer and her professor father Gareth. After Blue's mother dies, the two travel across America, living in about three towns a year. He teaches; she goes to school. Life is good--until Blue's senior year, when they spend a whole year in a little town in North Carolina. There she meets five students nicknamed the Bluebloods (no vampires involved) and teacher Hannah Schneider--and her whole world changes.

So it sounds like a typical bildungsroman but it's not. Here's what I like about it:
*It cites more books than any other novel I've ever read--but Blue works it into the story.
*It suddenly shifts into a murder mystery part way through.
*It has a jaw-dropping ending--seriously, everything falls together and hangs on a thread.
*It's postmodern--you don't know what the truth is at the end. It's like Daphne Du Marier's My Cousin Rachel in that respect--you don't know what to believe at the end (was Rachel truly evil or just a flaky woman?!?).

Also, if you're interested, I read this interview with Marisha Pessl last year and really enjoyed it.

I'm giving it a 10 because it's a book that has impacted me. It does have its flaws (too wordy at times, can take awhile to get into, etc.) but I still think it's amazing and unique.

Rating: 10/10

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday, Monday

Hello Monday! Today's candidate is Pharrell Williams.

He has a very chiseled face. I like him in purple, too. And while he may look 26, he's actually 35. Way to rock that, Pharrell (p.s. I think you have a cool name). And speaking of cool.........

This hat is AWESOME. Happy Monday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June = brides

In my prowlings on Amazon, I've run across Madeline Brent's Moonraker's Bride several times. People seem to LOVE it. So when I found it at my local Goodwill, I bought it.

It was good! Lucy Waring, who shares the same name as the heroine in Mary Stewart's This Rough Magic, is an orphan living in a mission house in China. Lucy, the daughter of British missionaries who died when she was very young, has been raised basically Chinese. I really like Brent's characterization of Lucy--people from different cultures think differently and he reflects that nicely.

Lucy ends up being sent over to England right around the time of the Boxer Rebellion. She struggles to adjust and make a new life for herself. There is romance involved, but I wouldn't call this a romance novel (although the cover begs to differ with me--"a novel of romantic suspense").

Basically, it was an interesting and sweet historical read. All those Amazon reviewers ended up being right.

Rating: 9.5/10

Monday, June 16, 2008

for a change...

I'm breaking the mold and featuring a hott blond tonight! It's summertime, so let's break out the sunshine.

It's Paul Walker, who starred in one of the worst Christmas movies I've ever seen: Noel. You'll feel depressed, alone and very unjolly after watching it. Even Paul--as an abusive cop!--couldn't save the show.

However, just looking at this poster of him once left me giggling so hard that I couldn't speak or breathe:

Even surrounded by Disney dogs, you're still hott, Paul.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


My friend Kim lent me Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune, with her high recommendations. I've been meaning to read one of Allende's works, so I gave it a shot.

First of all, pretty cover except for the blatant "Oprah's Book Club" sticker. Whatever Oprah--sure, her sticker gets quality books more exposure but I'm just not a fan.
Anyway, this book was written in Spanish and translated into English. Allende spent part of her life in Chile, so her experience set up part of the setting for this novel. Eliza is an abandoned orphan, raised by an English brother and sister who are living in Chile.
Eliza falls in love but then her lover leaves for the Gold Rush in California. That's when the action takes off. Eliza travels to California to find him, making friends like Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor.
The book explores all of the character's pasts, while adding to the story itself. The style of writing is somewhat reminiscent of magic realism and Gabriel García Márquez's writing.
If you're in the mood for excellent Latin American writing, give this a try.
Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I forgot

I forgot two things: Hottie Monday and the other book I read last week. Um, sorry about the guy...sometimes my inspiration is weak.

However, I thought that the guy who played the groom in Panic At The Disco's "I write sins, not tragedies" video had beautiful eyes (and I'm not a girl who usually notices eyes). So meet Daniel Isacc:
Evidently he took this photo himself. Whatever, watch the video to see him in action.

The book I forgot was the one I actually wanted to talk about: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore.

The cover convinced me to read it--you can't really see it, but the stars in the background are very pretty and combined with that font, well, I was hooked. Also, in a rarity, the cover copy described perfectly what happened in the book, without giving away anything. Congrats, copywriter--you rocked.

This is definitely southern lit. Catherine Grace Cline, a preacher's daughter, dreams of the day she'll be able to leave her tiny Georgia town. The book follows her from elementary school days to past high school, tracing her dream all the way. The big issue is whether she'll be content with her down-home boy and ordinary life with him, or whether Atlanta will make her happy. (Guess what happens.)

The book is kind of surfacy--most of the characters are almost caricatures of typical Southerners. (At least I think...what do I know, I'm a Yankee.) And the ending of the book was kind of the author threw in a major curveball that went no where. That whole aspect really bothered was a new character that shouldn't have been added.

Basically, it just reminded me of a typical debut novel--good but definitely room for improvement. I think this author will get much better in time.

Anyway, overall it was good summer reading and if you're in the mood for Southern lit, give this new author a shot.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, June 8, 2008

it's too nice out!

It's been so nice out that I haven't been spending much time inside--but I have been reading lots on my lunch break outside! I've read a few books this week, but I can't even remember them all.

For sure, I know I read:
Silhouette in Scarlet by Elizabeth Peters
The French Inheritance by Anne Stevenson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

The first two books weren't spectacular at all. I liked Miss Pettigrew the's the classic Cinderella story. A frumpy (yet secretly delightful!) old maid stumbles into immorality, a makeover, cocaine, lovers and more. No, seriously, the books involves all those. It was written in 1938 and is probably a sort of last gasp of frivolity before WWII hits hard.

Rating: 7.5/10

The book was just made into a movie, too. I haven't watched it yet, but I want to after reading the book.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Doggy days

Well, we've got a crazy new Jack Russell terrier in our house. He barks at my necklace that jangled, he hops up on the kitchen chairs and licks everything. So it's perfect that I read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

It's fantasy...or at least involves lots of time travel. Ned Henry, a historian, has been forced into duty for Lady Schrapnell, a wealthy American who is rebuilding a demolished cathedral. Lady S. has been sending historians and all other sorts of people back into time looking for "the bishop's bird stump," which you eventually find out is just a statute/vase.

The action, in my opinion, is a bit slow and confusing at first. I almost quit reading it, but I stuck it out and am glad I did. This is silly, but Ned was exhausted in the first 150 pages or so--all he wanted to do was sleep and I felt so bad for him. He'd go to bed, have an awful night's sleep and still be "time-lagged" (from all that time traveling). If he had been more rested, I could've enjoyed it more. Yes, I'm ridiculous.

After a beautiful historian named Verity accidentially puts their whole universe into jeopardy, Ned and Verity travel to Victorian England to set things aright. They try and try but eventually learn that life is self-correcting. The plot is clever, twisting and definitely gets better as you go on.

The secondary characters are excellent and make the plot. All of them play a vital role, too, which is nice. There's a bit of mystery, history, romance and humor. It's definitely a comedy of manners, so don't expect rip-roaring laughter.

The title (and maybe the book?) is partially a play on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. I have never read the book, so I'm not sure....anyone else know?

Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, June 2, 2008

I may be shallow...

I don't know anything about Robert Buckley other than what Wikipedia told me, but isn't he a hottie? I guess he's an actor and according to IMDB, he's a foot taller than me. I wonder if he likes "petite" girls?