Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Great and Terrible Beauty

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

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.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

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.

***Spoiler Alert***

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.