Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray
Sometimes catching up on books I've owned for a long time simply means purchasing more books in the end. This book is the first of a trilogy and of course now I must read the other two, right?
When I purchased this book I was not aware of the supernatural aspect of the story, even though it refers to it on the back jacket. Silly me. I was expecting a period piece about a young girl in a British boarding school in the late 1800's. I thought the visions and powers referred to were about social power and status. I was a little put off when I realized the book was indeed of the fantasy/sci-fi genre. However, I carried on and discovered a story I very much enjoyed.
Gemma has been raised in India her entire life and very much wants to go to England to school. When her mother commits suicide she sadly gets her wish only to discover it's not the perfect life she'd been dreaming of.
She finds herself at Spence, a school for young ladies, and feeling much out of place. She tentatively makes friends with some of the girls and together they delve into the supernatural, visiting a realm, another world, of beauty and peace where Gemma finds her mother alive and the forgiveness she seeks.
But of course what appears to be wonderful on the surface has dark and evil currents below and Gemma and her friends are soon in danger.
I was thoroughly entertained by this story and particularly enjoyed the time period it takes place in. This book is found in the young adult section, where I find many enjoyable books. I'm ether young at heart or just never matured into full blown adulthood.
Sundays at Tiffany's
by James Patterson
Another book that has been in my inventory for quite some time. Yes, I am finally trying to work my way through some of those books I've owned since my days as a Barnes & Noble bookseller before I invest in more. I'm only being partially successful, as I still frequent the bookstore and continue to purchase books, but even "partially successful" is better than just letting them sit on my bookshelves unread forever.
Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.
This book was featured as a Lifetime made for TV movie this month. That was my impetus for getting it out and reading it. I very much dislike watching a movie if there is a book to be read first. Books offer so much more insight into the characters. And I will also know if the screenwriter butchered the book or not.
In this case I didn't feel there was too much of a book to be butchered. I'm all for some light fluff in my library, but this was so fluffy it lost most substance. I think the movie version, although quite different in some significant ways, was probably a better story, although I felt the book did a better job of defining an imaginary friend.
As an adult, Jane Margaux becomes reacquainted to the man who was her imaginary friend as a child. The premise of the story is quite fun as we discover the realm and rules of imaginary friends. But the story is totally predictable, which I wouldn't really mind, if it wasn't so full of the same questions repeated over and over again.
It's a quick read and could have been lots of fun, but I don't really recommend it unless you just don't have another book anywhere on hand that interests you.
I finished reading Edgar Sawtelle quite some time ago - 2 full books ago actually. I was so mad when I finished this book, I couldn't write a review. Now I hope I still recall enough of it to do so.
I glanced at some (non-spoiler) reviews prior to reading the book and one that stuck in my head in particular referred to the book as one people either hate or love... or have a love/hate relationship with it. That definitely sums up my feelings.
I started Edgar with a lot of hope and enthusiasm. The author writes beautifully and drew such wonderful pictures in my mind. I don't have patience for a lot of detail usually, but I was drawn in by the author and could clearly see the landscape of his book. It was almost like watching a movie and thoroughly enjoyable.
Edgar Sawtelle, the main character of this book is a young mute boy growing up on a rural farm breeding dogs. The dogs they breed are extraordinary. Much of the story revolves around their history and evolution and sometimes does bog down on the details of these mystical dogs.
Edgar, although young has a maturity about him and his role on the farm. He takes his responsibilities very seriously. Tragedy strikes and we watch him deal with his father's death and his mother's subsequent depression. The events that follow kept me cheering on Edgar, worrying for him & his dogs and desperate with curiosity of how it would all be resolved. Edgar is the hero, the champion of his dogs and his mother and I knew he would expose the evil and resolve the issues.
It doesn't happen that way. With all the emotion I invested into Edgar's odyssey, he loses the fight. Not only does he lose, everyone loses. There are no winners at the end of this book. Right up until the end I loved the book. Honestly, I hated the ending so much I almost wish I hadn't invested all the time in the first 500 pages.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I am a listener of NPR and often attracted to the author interviews and book reviews. That is how I stumbled upon "Super." Listening to Jim Lehrer talk of the old time trains that were luxury land yachts seemed quite fascinating and I really wanted to read about them. The book itself though was less than fascinating.
The Super Chief train from Chicago to LA was considered the train of the stars. The story is based on an actual train and movie types that rode it in it's hey day. But the timing of the story is nearing the end of the train's hey day. The mystery presented in the story is short and quickly solved with little fan fare.
I am happy it was a short book and I invested only a little time. I think the story could have been richer but really fell short.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Emily soon discovers that the townspeople hated her mother. Their hate was based on her youth as a selfish and cruel young girl. They believed her actions led to the suicide of a young man from one of the town's finest families. However, the mother Emily knew was involved in every cause possible to make the world a better place. The two personalities of one woman did not mesh.
The secrets of the town and the mystery of her mother's past are uncovered as the story progresses. The whimsical touches that endear me to this author are of a character who can see the sweet smell of baking as a flowy, glittery breeze.
The other main character of the story is a woman who returns to the town to settle her father's estate and pay off his debts. Her plan is to leave the town again when she's accomplished this. She also has secrets and a past to be discovered as her own history is revealed.
I am not saying I didn't enjoy The Girl Who Chased the Moon, but I will say my expectations were higher.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Skeeter is challenged to find a topic that inspires passion in her to write about. She eventually decides to write the stories of the town's domestic help, exposing what it is like to be a second class citizen, thought to be less intelligent and carry diseases that would harm white people. Finding women who will tell their stories is just the first challenge. The south at this time is a violent, unsafe place for any colored person who does not know his place and behave accordingly.
Skeeter herself was raised by a black woman for whom she holds very strong affection. When she returns home from college this woman she loves is gone, no longer working for her family, and no one will tell her why she left. She begins to see the dichotomy of hiring people who her class thinks of as "dirty" to clean their homes, prepare their meals and even raise their children. And worse, the love the children and domestic help feel for each other slips away as the children in turn fill the roles of the parents and assume the same attitudes toward the help.
Skeeter's project becomes a reality and a way is established for the help and Skeeter to come together to record their stories. Tension builds through the book with events such as the slaying of Medgar Evers, local violence and the constant worry of the eventual affect of the published book.
Stockett tells the story through the voice of Skeeter and two black women, Aibilene and Minny. I felt she did a good job portraying each of these women, not only in their different skins, but their different cultures, both socially and personally. As much as the story dealt with the race issue, it also explored a culture that can only exist as long as all minds think alike and the ostracisim that must take place of a diverse view.
I loved the book and it's story. I experienced a wide variety of emotions, crying for pain and joy, laughing, cheering and jeering. The characters were convincing and believable. The ending was both sad and hopeful and I find myself wandering back into that world and wondering what they are all doing now.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
I started "Merle's Door" and then got sidetracked away by a book a group of us decided to read together, "Wench." When I finished "Wench" I went back to "Merle's Door." In the meantime I decided I wanted to read a finance book I heard an interview about on NPR. Also picked up some books on nutrition and after my Mom passed away last week a friend suggested "Loving What Is" by Byron Katie.
As if that were not enough, I stopped in at Borders with my brother, sister-in-law and Alyssa to pick up birthday presents and visit Krissy. Silly me, I asked Krissy what books they are 'pushing' right now and she showed me. One, "The Lost City of Z, A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon" immediately appealed to me after having just read "The River of Doubt." I had to have it! The other is "A Reliable Wife." I had to have that one, too!!
I am currently overwhelmed by my book obsession. I had to return "Loving What Is" since I found it already on my book shelf and rather than just take a cash refund I purchased "The Help" which has been recommended by the group that read "Wench."
I don't know where to start but I think I'll drop "Merle" off the list for now. I'm just not finding him quite exciting enough to keep me entertained. Thank goodness I am becoming snowed in. Perhaps I'll find time for them all!
Friday, February 5, 2010
This book was suggested by an online friend who had listened to the author's interview on NPR. Several of us got copies and decided to do an online discussion. I just finished the book this evening. The discussion is still pending. I wasn't sure if I wanted to review it before or after the discussion, but obviously I have chosen "before."
The story occurs in 1850's Ohio at a resort called Tawawa. Southern "Gentlemen" rent out the cottages at this resort in order to keep their slave entourages with them. As Ohio was a free state only their most trusted slaves accompanied the men to Tawawa each summer. The main hotel is filled with northern guests who find the Southern men with their slaves distasteful.
Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet & Mawu are the female slaves/sexual property of four of the southern men. Each of these women has a similar yet very different relationship with her master. Lizzie is the youngest and most naive. It's through her eyes we see the story. She believes her love for her master is reciprocated by him. She has born his only two children and she lives an awkward but relatively comfortable life in his home. Reenie is the oldest of the four and had only one child who was sold off. Her master is not kind. Sweet is pregnant with her fifth child at Tawawa. Her other children are still together on the plantation, not taken from her and sold off. Her master seems mostly indifferent to her as a person, being neither exceptionally kind, nor cruel. Mawu had four children, three of which had been sold off by her master. Her master was violent and cruel and seemed to want her only because she hated him so much.
Being in a free state, the slaves consider running, except for Lizzie who feels security in her position and cannot fathom never seeing her young children again, let alone never knowing what could happen to them as a result of her running.
Three summers of visits are recounted in the novel displaying the interactions between the slaves, their masters and their desires. The book is an easy read, both fascinating and disturbing. It's easy to imagine the emotional turmoil the women have been through and fear recurring as well as the physical violence that wreaks havoc at a moment's notice.
This novel is well worth your time. Thumbs up.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"Rumors" is the second in a series of teen romance novels set in 1899 Manhattan. The women are beautiful, rich & young, the darlings of the social scene.
We follow the lives of the same characters presented to us in book one, Penelope, nuveau rich and cunning. Diana, from an old family but on the verge of destitution, Elizabeth, secretly living with her former servant/lover in California after faking her death, Carolina, a servant girl with aspirations of granduer, and Henry, the male figure that in one way or another unites them all.
I didn't care for the style of the first few chapters which, being the burden of the second novel in a series, revisited many of the events of book one to bring the uninitiated reader up to date. Somehow I think this needs to be avoided to the extent it was used. If a reader were to pick up this book without first reading "Luxe" then they simply need to read "Luxe" to get up to speed and the author can stop boring me with repetitous details.
The other fault I find with the writing of this story, both in book one and book two, is the time frame of the events. On one had the author will refer to events "several months" in the past and yet in reality is refering to October while it's currently Christmas time, barely two months. And being Christmas time, even the current events are much too swiftly occuring to be believable.
Putting my peeves aside, the book was a fun read, however a bit drawn out. I surely thought the character of Carolina would have been more substantial for the effort of writing her into the story. Maybe time will tell with her story in book three. As for this book, she was the servant girl in love with the servant boy, Will, who ran away with Elizabeth. She thought her only failure in capturing his interest was in being less than Elizabeth was in her social standing. But once she felt she could honestly call herself a lady, she decided being with Will would be a step backwards after all.
Henry is the pivot for which Diana and Penelope revolve around. He seems to have finally fallen in love (rather than lust) and desires a real relationship with Diana. His previous engagement to Diana's sister Elizabeth, who is believed to be dead, prevents their love. Meanwhile, Penelope has always desired Henry and helped Elizabeth fake her death to be with Will and freeing Henry up for herself. Who will win? Will it be the sweet love of Henry & Diana or will it be the cunning of Penelope? One of these two ladies is married to Henry by the end of the book.
For me, I am moving away from Gossip Girl circa 1899 for a while and partaking in some non-fiction. Next up - "The River of Doubt" by Candice Millard
Sunday, January 10, 2010
- "The Housekeeper and the Professor" by Yoko Ogawa (November 2012)
- "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout (November 22, 2012)
- "Love Anthony" by Lisa Genova (November 12, 2012)
- "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton
- "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty
- "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey
- "Married in Seattle" by Debbie Macomber
- "Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner
- "The Expected One" by Kathleen McGowan
- "A Place to Lay My Head" by Joe Moreland (April 19, 2012)
- "Homer's Odyssey" by Gwen Cooper (March 21, 2012)
- "I Am Nujood" by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui (March 11, 2012)
- "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ranson Riggs (March 9, 2012)
- "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" by Jonathon Safran Foer (March 2, 2012)
- "Firefly Dance" by Various Authors (February 26, 2012)
- "Firefly Lane" by Kristin Hannah
- "Mocking Jay" by Suzanne Collins (February 16, 2012)
- "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins (February 13, 2012)
- "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins (February 10, 2012)
- "The Heretic's Daughter" by Kathleen Kent (February 4, 2012)
- "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson (January 22, 2012)
- "Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner" by Lisa Wingate (January 22, 2012)
- "The Devil in Pew Number Seven" by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo (January 16, 2012)
- "Pretty in Plaid" by Jen Lancaster (January 16, 2012)
- "Woman in Red" by Eileen Goudge (January 16, 2012)
- "Raven Stole the Moon" by Garth Stein (August 22, 2011)
- "Me & Mr. Darcy" by Alexandra Potter (August 4, 2011)
- "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein (June 20, 2011)
- "Thunderstruck" by Erik Larson (June 9, 2011)
- "The 19th Wife" by David Ebershoff (May 20, 2011)
- "Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven" by Susan Richards Shreve (May 11, 2011)
- "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper with Cecil Murphy (May 3, 2011)
- "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo (April 28, 2011)
- "The Peach Keeper" by Sarah Addison Allen (April 25, 2011)
- "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon (April 22, 2011)
- "Rainwater" by Sandra Brown (April 22, 2011)
- "One Thousand White Women, the Journals of May Dodd" by Jim Fergus (April 21, 2011)
- "Juliet" by Anne Fortier (February 13, 2011)
- "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova (January 8, 2011)
- "Gunn's Golden Rules" by Tim Gunn (January 4, 2011)
- "A Great and Terrible Beauty" by Libba Bray (December 29, 2010)
- "Sundays at Tiffany's" by James Patterson (December 29, 2010)
- "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wroblewski (December 28, 2010)
- "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger (November 2, 2010)
- "Me & Emma" by Elizabeth Flock (October 25, 2010)
- "Night" by Elie Wiesel (October 12, 2010)
- "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (October 12, 2010)
- "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman (September 12, 2010)
- "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (August 23, 2010)
- "Certain Girls" by Jennifer Weiner (August 7, 2010)
- "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman (August 3, 2010)
- "Super" by Jim Lehrer (May 20, 2010)
- "The Pact" by Jodi Picoult (May 3, 2010)
- "Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity" by Kerry Cohen (April 10, 2010)
- "The Girl Who Chased the Moon" by Sarah Addison Allen (March 29, 2010)
- "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (March 5, 2010)
- "A Reliable Wife" by Robert Goolrick (February 19, 2010)
- "Wench" by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (February 5, 2010)
- "River of Doubt" by Candice Millard (January 31, 2010)
- "Rumors" by Anna Godbersen (January 13, 2010)
- "Luxe" by Anna Godbersen (December 30, 2009)
- "The Guernsey Island Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (reviewed on Visual Bookshelf sometime in 2009)
- "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger (reviewed on Visual Bookshelf sometime in 2009)
- "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (reviewd on Visual Bookshelf sometime in 2009)
- "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman (March 4, 2009)
- "The Hour I First Believed" by Wally Lamb (January 25, 2009)
- "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer (November 21, 2008)
- "Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World" by Vicki Myron, Bret Witter (November 21, 2008)
- "With a Hammer for My Heart" by George Ella Lyon (November 21, 2008)
- "The Shack" by William Paul Young (May 23, 2008)
- "Atonement" by Ian McEwan (March 6, 2008)
- "Shattered Dreams, My Life as a Polygamist's Wife" by Irene Spencer (November 2, 2007)
- "Austenland" by Shannon Hale (September 28, 2007)
- "My Lobotomy" by Howard Dully (September 28, 2007)
- "Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star" by Brandon Mull (July 8, 2007)
- "Fablehaven" by Brandon Mull (July 8, 2007)
- "Are You Afraid of the Dark" by Sidney Sheldon (March 16, 2007)
- "Can't Wait to Get to Heaven" by Fannie Flagg (March 16, 2007)
- "The Second Assistant" by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare (March 16, 2007)
- "Lucky Man, a Memoir" by Michael J Fox (February 15, 2007)
- "The Traveler's Gift" by Andy Andrews (February 12, 2007)
- "Anyone But You" by Jennifer Crusie (January 31, 2007)
- "The Sledding Hill" by Chris Crutcher (January 31, 2007)
- "The Unusual Suspect" by Stephen Baldwin (January 31, 2007)
- "The Ultimate Gift" by Jim Stovall (January 17, 2007)
- "The Giver" by Lois Lowry (January 9, 2007)
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The list will change over time as I add more and subtract the ones I've read. Please feel free to leave comments to offer up your own suggestions or your opinions of books you see here. I'd love the feed back!
- Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love - George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
- The Invisible Bridge - Julie Orringer
- The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity - Mark Vonnegut
- Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So - Mark Vonnegut
- Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers - Thich Nhat Hanh
- House of Ghosts - Lawrence Kaplan
- Half Broke Horses - Jeannette Walls
- Breaking Night - Liz Murray
- Making Rounds with Oscar - David Dosa, MD
- Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult
- My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
- Civil War Wives - Carol Berkin
- Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul - Deepak Chopra (waiting for paperback)
- The Good Good Pig - Sy Montgomery
- Under the Dome - Steven King
- The Glass Room - Simon Mawer
- The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom - Michelle Singletary
- The Lost City of Z by David Grann
- Loving What Is by Byron Katie
- Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
- They Fought for Each Other by Kelly Kennedy
- The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez (NPR)
- Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
- The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
- Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope by Kevin Ryan
There is so much more, but that is my start for now. Please feel free to offer suggestions based on what you've enjoyed.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I immediately coveted those words!!
Now I want to change the title of this blog. I doubt I can change the url, but I am not happy with the title. I'm thinking of "The Caffeinated Reader." Not quite ready to commit to it, though.
Offer me some more ideas... there could be a gift card involved if I choose a title you submit.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
That's the release date of The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. I loved her first two books and I can hardly wait for this, her 3rd.
Wish I was still working where I could get a hold of those advance reader copies!