May 28th, 2010

bear jew

(no subject)

Title: Ophelia
Author: Lisa Klein
Year of Publication: 2006
Genre: YA
Pages: 328
First Line: "My lady: I pray this letter finds you in a place of safety."

Summary:He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.

In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever. . .with one very dangerous secret.

Source: Back of book

Review: Ultimately a disappointment. The beginning was slow, then it got better, then bad again, and then the last four pages or so were fairly enjoyable. I don't know if I like what Klein did with certain characters (I won't be specific for spoilers), and certain plot elements annoyed me. There were parts of the original play that were left out which I thought was kind of annoying -- parts that are really fantastic and should have been included. Other parts were glossed over and not as drawn out as would have been appropriate (the play within a play, for example).

I would say if you haven't read/seen Hamlet already, then you may be slightly confused in reading this book -- you could read it without having read/seen Hamlet, though. I wouldn't recommend it, for the most part.

Worst part: The book was so different from the play that I felt it had nothing to do with the original. I would have liked something more similar to the play. Also, Hamlet does not have black hair, Ms. Klein -- he's definitely blonde.

Best part: Ohh, I don't know. I guess those last four pages. And they weren't even THAT good.

Grade: D+

Other Books by This Author: Lady Macbeth's Daughter. (Which I may read if I have the time, just because of the Shakespeare connection and I always wondered about the Macbeth's kids. I find it hard to believe they didn't have any, especially because of Lady Macbeth's line, "I know how tender 'tis to whatever the babe that whatevers me." (I don't have a copy and I'm too lazy to look it up.))

39 / 50 books. 78% done!
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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Pages: 320




Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . .


This book has become my favorite Gaiman book. Although it might seem like a young adult, I truly believe a reader of any age can fall under the spell of this magical romp through a boy’s life in a graveyard. Gaiman creates an enthralling story with the dark background of macabre and murder. Bod is likeable and easy to identify with as he struggles to grow up and learn about the world.


I listened to this as an audiobook and was enamored by Gaiman’s excellent narration. He is truly one of the best storytellers of our age.


Books completed: 8/50

Pages completed: 2557/15,000


Books 54-55: Nefertiti and Keeping the Dead.

Book 54: Nefertiti: the Book of the Dead.
Author: Nick Drake, 2006.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Crime. Ancient Egypt.
Other Details: Hardback, 349 pages

Set in Year 12 of Akhenaten's reign, this is the first in a series of historical mysteries featuring Rai Rahotep, the youngest chief detective in the Thebes Medjay division. At the opening Rahotep is summoned to the magnificent new capital of Akhetan where he finds that he has been chosen to conduct a very delicate investigation. With only a short time remaining before a major festival to celebrate the new city, Queen Nefertiti has disappeared. The Pharaoh himself charges Rahotep with discovering the whereabouts of his queen, whether alive or dead, and threatens both him and his family with death if he fails.

Rahotep finds himself plunged into a labyrinth of secrets, intrigues and caught up in the power struggles between the royal family and the powerful priesthood, who had been deprived of their power and wealth by Akhenaten's new religion. Naturally bodies pile up and Rahotep finds himself a target for those who don't wish him to succeed.

The disappearance of Queen Nefertiti twelve years into her husband's reign is one of histories great mysteries and so makes a great premise for a historical crime novel. The book was entertaining and very much a page-turner. While Drake might be criticised for having his characters express modern sensibilities, writers do have to form a bridge for their readers and the culture of the distant past. I felt that overall Drake succeeded in creating a sympathetic main character and captured the ambiance of the period in considerable detail. It could have been stronger in terms of giving more details of the complex politics of the time but given that the novel was written in the first person from the viewpoint of Rahotep it made sense to keep things fairly simple.

Book 55: Keeping the Dead/The Keepsake (Rizzoli and Isles Book 07).
Author: Tess Gerritsen, 2009.
Genre: Crime Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details Paperback, 446 pages.

Gerritsen's latest in this series of fast-paced forensic thrillers also has an Egyptian theme. It opens with forensic pathologist Dr. Maura Isles in attendance at a hospital where, amidst a media circus, an unusual patient is having a CT scan. The patient involved is a two thousand year old mummy recently discovered in the basement storage area of a local museum. They hope to determine her age, health and method of preservation and the enthusiastic museum curator even hopes they might be able to determine the cause of death.

As the scan proceeds everyone present gasps in horror as the image of a bullet is revealed. Isles declares it a possible homicide and Detective Jane Rizzoli is called in to investigate. When the preserved body of a second victim is found - and then a third, it becomes clear that they are dealing with a serial killer. Maura and Jane have to find and stop him before he adds another chilling piece to his macabre collection.

Once I started to read this, it was pretty much impossible to put down and once again Gerritsen excelled herself with an innovative story line. The case at hand is very much at the forefront of the story with her main characters' personal circumstances and issues taking a back seat. I actually prefer this way of writing rather than major dramas in their lives in every book. I enjoyed the cameo from Anthony Sansone of the Mephisto Society. I continue to have hopes for his future involvement in the series.

(no subject)

I have some odd compulsion to read any book that is handed to me by someone who tells me to read it. Books that are lent must be read immediately, and as quickly as possible. I am not sure if this is as a convenience to the lender, who gets her book back quickly, or some leftover instinct to show off how quickly I read. This is only relevant because I seem to have incurred a deluge of lent books over the past few weeks, which is leaving me a bit overwhelmed.

Anyway, that's where I got Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, from a neighbor. It's the story of a few people, two brothers, the wife of one of the brothers and the black son of one of their sharecroppers. It's about racism, the draw of owning one's own land and the meaning of home. It's wonderfully written.

After that was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (the lady who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife) which I picked up because I liked The Time Traveler's Wife. Didn't like this one as much. I found it annoying, though I can't really put my finger on why. It's about... ghosts, I guess. I think the problem was that I didn't really care for any of the characters, so it didn't much matter to me what happened to them.

Then there was An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. My mother handed me this one and, let me tell you, it's a bear to read, like pulling teeth. It also suffers from having generally unlikeable characters. Mother hated it too, however much that helps. It's the story of the destruction of a young man who thoroughly deserves a jab in the eye with a sharp stick, which made it difficult for me to care when he eventually got one. After nearly nine hundred pages of listening to the kid whine about how unfair life is, I'd have been glad to jab him myself.

Another neighbor handed me A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. It's one of those books lots of people were talking about: a guy tries to live by all the laws in the Bible for a year, sort of. It was funny in parts, and an enjoyable read, but a little too gimmicky for me to get anything solid out of it. This is the guy who read the encyclopedia, so he's just got an air of I'm-doing-this-so-I-can-write-a-book-about-it, which ends up negating any potential spiritual quest that he claims to be on. Still, it was very funny in lots of parts so, if someone hands it to you, there's no point kicking too hard.

An unfortunate side-effect of my compulsion is that I also feel obligated to read books that people lend my fiance if he doesn't get around to it (which he never does) which is how I ended up reading Unwind by Neal Schusterman. This one's a YA sci-fi novel which seems to be riffing on the abortion debate. It takes place in a future world where life is considered sacred except between the ages of 16 and 18, when children can be "unwound", that is, given entirely for organ donation, and the story follows three kids fleeing their unwindings and fighting for their right to life. I liked it. I especially liked it because it wasn't really making an argument either for or against abortion. I mean, it probably was, but depending on how you read it, it could come down on either side, and that made me happy and also, I think, shows the cleverness of the author.

And then, finally, because I needed a break, I read All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot. Mr. Herriot always makes me feel warm and cozy, probably because my mother used to read his stories to me when I was very small. This is the third book in the series and is, as the previous two, comprised of anecdotes from his life as a country vet in Yorkshire. Nearly all of his stories are happy, so it's a good book to retreat to when neighbors keep lending you depressing books about racism or abortion or capital punishment.

Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 29: Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars Series #1)
Sara Shepard
YA fiction
288 pages
Everyone has something to hide—especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna.

Spencer covets her sister's boyfriend. Aria's fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily's crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful.
But they've all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.
How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and all the dirty secrets they've kept. And guess what? I'm telling.

Wow! This was a fast and great read! Each girl had such interesting and juicy secrets. I really can't wait to see what is next for the girls. I am hoping that the next book will answer some of the questions that the first book didn't. If you are fans of great young adult girl reads, then I highly recommend this book. I cannot wait for the show to start up soon!

***Next read: I am still reading Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris.