Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dashing through the snow (Carol and Mary Higgins Clark)

So, I haven't read a Mary Higgins Clark book since I was probably in eighth grade. I got this one for Christmas two years ago and only just picked it up, but I figured 'Tis the season. Read it VERY quickly - it's a little over 200 very small pages with fairly large type - and it was a fun read.

I either didn't realize or forgot how stilted the dialogue is in these books. That said, I liked the lottery winner characters and might have to revisit them. Just wish the authors wrote with a bit more subtlety.

C

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rescue (Anita Shreve)

Not her finest effort, but a good book. I've come to expect a lot from her and this didn't live up to it. But it was an interesting take on the challenges faced by a single dad who works as a paramedic, as well as the impact of alcoholism on a family.

Also, the second book read on the kindle app for my phone :)

B

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Debutante Divorcee (Plum Sykes)

So not literature, but a good distraction from some crappy stuff happening with my husband (hopefully nothing serious). This book was exactly what I needed to get lost in - it chronicles of the lives of several uber rich divorcees in a witty and fun way. Irresistible if you like this kind of stuff.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Song (Nicholas Sparks)

Am embarrassed to admit I read this. My mom left it at my house when I had my surgery and I was sucked right in. Have not seen the movie, but the book is pretty emotional. At its heart it is a coming of age novel that includes a lot of drama.

C

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home Safe (Elizabeth Berg)

This book I really enjoyed. It was also the first book I read on the kindle app for my phone. While I thought I would not enjoy that experience, it turns out that I really have. It's great for travelling except for not being able to read at takeoff and landing.

This particular novel is set mostly in Chicago, one of my favorite cities, and I read part of it while I was travelling to Chicago for business. A good read in great circumstances.

A

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)

Glad I *finally* finished this one - I discovered it in the bottom of my traveling bag during my last trip and it was so good once I got into it. Man, was it a challenge to get there though. But the idea, of meeting the love of your life when your tiny, and visiting with him over the years, is intense.

And the end was amazing.

A

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mommy Tracked (Whitney Gaskell)

I enjoyed this book, as I do most of her stuff. Light, for sure, but interesting. I totally related to one character (although not the very worst parts of her, thankfully). Basically this is the story of four very different women, with very different concerns and fears, making their way through motherhood. I could totally imagine meeting any of these women in real life.

B

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Fireman's Wife (Jack Riggs)

Felt very cliche. Didn't sympathize or connect with the main character at all. Did like the descriptions of the scenery and really liked the actual fireman.

C

Monday, November 1, 2010

Best Friends Forever (Jennifer Weiner)

Well, it may be just a contrast with the last book I read, but this was definitely a massive improvement. I really enjoyed this book, as I do most of Weiner's books but you've got to embrace it for what it is - fiction that is just heavier than simple chic lit. SHe features strong women characters who act in ways that some people probably wish they could - they often end up taking big chances.

In this book we follow a woman who has found it within herself to slim down and finds her life not much changed. This is refreshing to me personally because everyone knows that as soon as the weight comes off we are supposed to find true love. She does have a brief fling and lose her virginity, which is a bit annoying, but not terribly.

Her memories of her mom really hit home in that they are NOT what I want to be to my kids. Better get to work on that.

Overall: B

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cum Laude (von Ziegasar)

I'm not really sure why I kept reading this book. Sometimes it's a compulsion. I have a hard time ditching a book. But I won't pick up any more of her adult fiction.

D.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Sound of Us (Sarah Willis)

Wow. A great book about foster care and the experience of loving other people's children. Oddly enough, the mother in this book shares Jerzee's moms name and I can see some similarity in their cases. Willis does a great job of describing how quickly you can fall for a kid, and what that can do to your perceptions of biological parents, for better and worse. Loved it and read it very quickly.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Stieg Larsson)

A phenomenol read. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the very end, but don't want to read more in case anyone stumbles across this and doesn't want to read any spoilers. Lisbeth and Mikael do not disappoint in the second book of the Larssen trilogy. It's really a shame this guy isn't around to both relish in the popularity of his books and keep producing more novels for his aduience. Despire the fac that I think some wrodsmithing is lost in transaltion and I find it the Scandanavian cities and people straight, I really enjoy these books.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Know You Love Me and All I Want is Everything. (Cecily Von Ziegesar)

Yeah, another one.

Make that two more. I think that I like the TV characters better, but the book storylines better. It's sad that I just typed that sentence about a Gossip Girl book. LOL.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Wedding Girl (Madelaine Wickham)

Not bad at all. A more serious novel than she usually writes, thought the main them (be who you are, not who you think others want you to be) is a bit obvious. Thought that the conclusion was rushed.

Overall, a B.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Fair Lazy (Jen Lancaster)

So, I think all of Jen's books (like her blog) are hysterical. Additionally, we have far more in common than I would have suspected given our different life positions and political stances.

That said, Bitter is the New Black is still my favorite. The wit was so biting. It was awesome. This one felt like a lot of the dialogue was manufactured, "So did you know that, Fletch, that XX vintage wine was originally" blah, blah, blah.

The parallels with My Fair Lady were interesting and some of the situations were truly hysterical. So worth the time and amusing.

B

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It had to be you (Cecily von Ziegasar)

Gossip Girl prequel. Yes I'm still reading them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gossip Girl (Cecily von Ziegesar)

Yes. I'm ashamed. But I am reading these YA books because I got addicted to the show.

You know you love me.
XOXO

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School (Jones & Miley)

Hmmm... so I read this because the fictionalized account was interesting. This was just sort of trashy and depressing. It makes me sad that my daughters might grow up in an environment where this kind of crazy hyper sexualization is real.

I mean, I'm not a prude. I don't worry about premarital sex per se, though of course I'd like my kids to be adults before they have a partner. It's the lack of self worth and repeatedly stressed assumption that girls somehow owe something to men... no really, boys.

Anyway, I felt kind of dirty reading it, though I did finish it. There is some controversy regarding the book as well, in terms of the confidentiality that was or was not promised to the girls who were featured. It does seem as if they would be pretty identifiable if you knew them in real life.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The 19th Wife (David Ebershoff)

Loved, loved, loved this book. Polygamy is fascinating, as is the way this story is told. A

Son of a Witch (Geoffrey Maguire)

This book is, of course, the sequel to Wicked, which (apparently) it's been much too long since I've read. I enjoyed the novel like I enjoy any of this sort - I love it when authors attempt to extend / recreate / retell a classic story.

I'm going to be honest - I had a bit of a hard time following this one. I'm not sure why - the predominance of made up cities and names might have a lot to do with it, combined with the fact that this story takes place totally out of my frame of reference - the events of Wicked ended at roughly the end of the Wizard of Oz.

Interesting themes here regarding masks and hiding who we are. Didn't really get them all, but such is life. I blame the pain killers from my ankle surgery.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Testimony (Anita Shreve)

Didn't love it, didn't hate it. It was a quick read. I kinda wish I didn't know that it was based on true events (even if loosely) because I kept wondering which parts were fiction and which were not.

Definitely not her best work. Probably not her worst either though.

B-

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Host (Stephenie Meyer)

Sense a theme? I've finally struck Meyer gold, though. I actually liked this one. It had interesting themes of free will and socialism and the conditions under which each can work. It was about aliens but not too out there. And in general, it just didn't suck.

Whoo-hoo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Stephenie Meyer)

Ironically, I think this is my favorite book of the series. It's more raw, less over the top dysfunctionally romantic, and provides a really nice insight into a newborn vampire. It also enriches Bella's story, I think - I loved the dovetailing of this story with Eclipse - and helps understand the terror the newbies inspired.

It's very short. I read it the same night I (finally) got in on reserve at the library.
Would love to see "The Long First Life of Bree Tanner" to give us more insight into her backstory.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Stephenie Meyer (The Unauthorized Biography of the Creator of the Twilight Saga (Marc Shapiro)

It must be nice to be Marc Sapiro. He apparently makes his living primarily by researching a celebrity on the internet and then writing a short book / long term paper about them. I could get used to that.

This book doesn't really give much insight into Meyer, since it is based mostly on online "interviews" and research. Some primary research was conducted I guess - I think that a few people who peripherally knew her - like a college writing professor and a member of a band she liked were interviewed.

The chapter on Forks was kind of interesting and since I am not a huge Twilight fanatic (contrary to the theme you've seen in my current posts, eh?) I didn't know a lot of what was summarized here. That said, I don't really feel like I know that much more about Meyer than I did before.

The really ironic thing was that the author kept pointing out that the media just spent their time asking her questions about the book's inspiration (a dream she had, which I did know before reading this) and about her plans to continue the Twilight saga, but he does the same thing.

Wouldn't recommend except for the biggest fan geeks :-) D

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vamped (David Sosnowski)

Damn. I am reading like crazy this month! Probably the freaking ankle injury. Not a lot of other stuff to do.

Anyway... really enjoyed this book. It was humorous and managed to poke fun at the vampire, coming of age and romance genres all at the same time. And it was a gentle poking fun - nothing too harsh.

The story is also cute. Though I found the disjointed timeline a bit difficult to follow. Would recommend to anyone who reads Twilight but doesn't really know why they do. I think they would enjoy this book.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quiverfull (Kathryn Joyce)

Holy crap, this is the scariest book I've read in quite some time! Steven King's got nothing on this stuff because it's actually true and happening to real people.

This book details the rise of the Christian Patriarchy movement, who at its most conservative advocates a return to an agrarian lifestyle, with families being the main unit of economic output and villages of families being ruled by local churches. But not just any churches - rigidly conservative, far right, Christian churches. In some ways, far-right isn't *really* the right word because ultimately these sects see no use for the state.

Or for women like me and all other women I know. I supposed I am the ultimate Jezebel, having not only adapted feminist ways but also having usurped my husband's role as provider.

The book is thoughtfully written - Joyce tackles the phenomenon seriously, tracing its roots through history and catologing its resurgence as largely a backlash against modern society. The women in the book are portrayed intelligently - and with as many facets as the men in their life will allow them to have (or show).

I really think this should be required reading for any woman who is not part of the movement. And maybe even those that are.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer)

Hmm... so the first half of the book was terrible. Bella's desire to protect her baby at all costs despite the very real evidence that it might be killing her felt like a bad pro-life afterschool special. No, really.

The novel did wake back up in Part III as the imminent conflict with the Volturi commences. But the non climax at the end was really bad, IMHO.

PB and I disagree about the probability of a fourth book. I saw of course, he says no way. I guess we'll just see.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)

Third book in the twilight series was definitely my favorite so far. Of course, since I found the second book basically PAINFUL to read, it wasn't too hard to top that one.

That said, I think the writing is better in this book. It's not as horrible to slog through, and the plot is OK too. After reading this book I am definitely looking forward to the final book in the series more than I initially thought I would.

That said, I am SO team Jacob. And I don't really even like Jacob (though I do like him more now that he stopped being so damn whiny). The fursplosions in this book were not as oppressive.

Edward? Still an annoying bastard who is psychologically abuse, IMHO. It's kinda sad that so many people are attracted to this character. I mean, I really see no redeeming feature in him.

Ah well, I can tell where the series is heading and I'm probably not going to like it, but I will (of course!) read it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Shopaholic and Baby (Sophie Kinsella)

What's not to love about a new Becky Bloomwood nay Brandon book? I mean really. This is one of my most favorite light literature series of all time. It helps that I listened to the last book and the reader had the BEST voice (in terms of match to character). Now when I read this book, I heard it in that voice which enhanced the experience.

The book was adorable and everything I've come to expect from the series.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Body Surfing (Anita Shreve)

An interesting read with a twist ending almost worthy of Piccoult. I love that Anita Shreve writes about the same area in New Hampshire in each book and loves that she reveals that several books were set in the same beach house as this. I'd recommend this book, I even liked the choppy narrative style.

A-

Monday, May 24, 2010

Trouble (Kate Christensen)

I've never read any of her books before and didn't seek this one out - I just saw it on a display shelf at the library and grabbed it to read.

I thought the book was OK. I loved the descriptions of Mexico City, save the bullfight which just grossed me out, but the main character was a little too, blase, for my tastes. For instance, at said bullfight, she totally dismissed whatever squeamishness she has about the event with the rationalization that it would have happened whether she was there or not.

Beyond that though, the novel is interesting. It had a shocking opening, with the main character looking at herself in the mirror and realizing that she needed to leave her loveless marriage. Interesting, but bizarre.

The other thing that seemed weird was how easily everything was resolved. The book isn't neat by any means, but Josie finds is simple to step out of her marriage, simple to deal with the entanglements and ultimately tragedy that is her trip to Mexico and even deals with her massive estrangement from her daughter in a relatively simplistic manner. But maybe this is just an extension of the blase remark above.

In any event, it's a quick read and the lot is interesting. I just didn't love the characters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

World Without End (Ken Follett)

So this book should count as at least three reads. Really. It's the sequel to Pillars of the Earth which I read two years ago during a weeklong vacation. Couldn't put down the first one and the same was true for this one, which was set 200 years after the first book and spans a generation and a half.

I love these books, for the sheer scope and plot. The dialogue and writing is not that tight - Follett normally (or at least used to) write thrillers and the language is pretty much what you'd expect from them. However, I wonder if his background in that genre is what makes these books a compelling read.

Whatever it is, I recommend them. A!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hotel New Hampshire (John Irving)

It took me a looooonnnnngggg time to get into this book. I started it and stopped it several times before I finally got into it.

And once I did, I really liked it. This is the first John Irving I've successfully finished. I could not deal with The Prayer for Owen Meany (though maybe it's the same thing, that if I kept picking it up, I would eventually like it).

Anyway, despite the craziness, the weirdness, and yes, even the incest, I loved this book.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Tell No One (Harlan Coben)

I bought this book months ago, when Brooklyn's mom was still visiting (sporadically). I planned to sit through the two hour visit and read the book. It was one she never showed up for, and me being me, I just found the book on the floor of the car.

Turns out it Coben did not disappoint (as is always the case)! I love him... at least all of his books OTHER than the Myron Bolitar series. I love the way he has recurring characters (Hester Crimstein) is in this one even in non series books. I like how his last minute switch endings aren't totally anticipated. I like pretty much everything about him.

Alas, it's hard to write about his books because you give away the story. Suffice it to say this is a portrait of a man 8 years after his beloved childhood friend cum adult bride is murdered and the web of deceipt that led to those long ago events (and the ones happening in the present).

Just read it. It's good.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Blind Side

Not a bad book. A lot of football description (very technical) which I surprised myself by liking. I also, of course, love the idea of the kid with no support and a spotty background making it in the big time... Michael Oher's story is definitely one that I would love to see happen to more inner-city kids.

Maybe it's because I am a foster parent, but I didn't see what the Touhy's did as a big sacrifice, and I couldn't help but wonder if some of the doubters (who thought they mentored Michael so he could play football for Ole Miss) were on to something. I don't REALLY believe that, but it is an interesting angle.

Will probably watch the movie now. If I can suffer through what previews suggest is a VERY annoying accent on the part of Sandra Bullock.

Spa Vacation (Theresa Alan)

Did not love this book. It was fine, but even as chick lit goes, it disappointed. Boring (for the most part) one dimensional characters. Very stilted dialog. I felt like it was more a senior project than a professionally authored book.

On the bright side, books like this make me think I may someday realize my vision of authoring a light hearted book.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Gate At the Stairs (Lorrie Moore)

This is the first of her books I've read, and honestly I'm not sure if I like it or not. It certainly is an interesting exploration of adoption, and transracial adoption to be exact, but it's also at times pretty bizarre and I felt like it went totally off the rails at the end. I do have to admit the last scene had a lot of punch and the last sentence was stellar.

The characters were all interesting though I felt bonded with none of them (perhaps with the exception of Mary Emma. The conduct of her adoptive parents is pretty gross, before, during and after the events in the plot that involve her.

I also felt like the plot was a little fractured. I'd like to think that was a meta-comment about the post 9/11 world we live in, but I doubt it.

I did find some good quotes in here, and I pulled at least two of them:

I had nothing against prayer. Those who felt it was wishful muttering perhaps had less to wish for. Religion, I could now see, without a single college course helping me out, was designed for those enduring the death of their sweet children. And when children grow stronger and died less, and were in fact less sweet, religion faded away. When children began to sweeten and die again, it returned.

... Mary Emma, whom, I realized, I had never stopped unconsciously to seek, riveted by little girls who would be her age in stores ad malls and parks... I would get close and look, which is what I realized Sarah somewhere must surely be doing. And Bonnie. If she was alive. And even Lynnette McKowen. Emmie! A little girl with four women wondering after her, looking for her, sort of, without her even knowing. That was love of the most useless kind...

Note that in the second quote, Mary Emma is the baby, Susan is the failed adoptive mother, Bonnie is the baby's first mother and Lynnette McKowen is the teenage daughter of the baby's foster mother who served as her caregiver for most of the first two years of her life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)

So, I really would have given up on this book WELL before it got interesting if not for PB. He was the book's champion.

I don't know if something is lost in translation, or what, but I really did not enjoy the first... oh... 500 pages of this book. One issue I know I had is that he kept mentioning things that I feel like Swedes would understand and might add to the story.

That said, the ending was phenomenal. And, I think the meta evaluation of the book (due to the fact that it was written by a financial muckraker journalist who died of a massive heart attack at age 50. The novel were all printed post-humously.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Little Altars Everywhere (Rebecca Wells)

I liked it. Not surprised I did. I kind of am obsessed with all things Louisiana and I really liked Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Was almost ruined by Sandra Bullock's portrayal of Sidda, but I guess that's forgivable.

Not great literature but entertaining.

Overall: B

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome to 2010

So, I beat the number of books I read last year, and I think that I will make this my goal again this year. It looks like I increased my book count by nearly 20%! I think I will aim for 10% more in the next year, since this is 2010, making my goal 41 books.