June 1st, 2010


Books 26 and 27

26. Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small. 2010 Alex Award Winner. An incredible memoir, done in more than 300 pages of illustrations. Small, now an artist, illustrates his life, from a small boy through adulthood. His family life as he grows up pulls farther and farther apart at the seams, especially after he is diagnosed with cancer due to the X-ray treatments he was given by his father for sinus and other mild ailments. He goes in for surgery for a sizable mass on his neck only to wake up and find that most of his vocal chords have been removed. It is by accident that he even finds out that he had cancer. The drawings are well done, well thought-out. I love this one scene, where the father is scolding David for slouching and how it will impact his health, and all the while he is puffing away at a cigarette. Oh, the irony. Some of the pictures do get a bit graphic; I'd save this for older teens and adults.

27. Soulless, by Gail Carriger. 2010 Alex Award Winner. This was an amusing story. The book centers around Alexia Tarabotti, a fun heroine who has resigned herself to being a spinster. She's an interesting contradiction: Alexia insists on being up to date in fashions, but also loves to flout conventionality when it suits her. She's an interesting mix of independent and insecure. She's also a peternatural -- meaning she not only doesn't have a soul but has an interesting effect on the supernatural beings -- werewolves and vampires. Alexia also seems to have an effect of a different kind on Lord Maccon, a high ranking Alpha werewolf. The two are forced to work together after Alexia accidentally kills a rove vampire, after the vampire tried to attack her. The story is not perfect; the author sometimes forgets the adage "show, don't tell." I think the relationship between Maccon and Alexia is too obvious, and I would have liked to have seen things drawn out a bit more. But all in all this was a fun story. It made me think that if Agatha Christie had written stories with supernatural elements, she probably would have written something like this (without the Harlequin-esque elements).

3rd i believe, but i'm not counting ;)

Last Bite: A Novel of Culinary Romance by Nancy Verde Barr

Another pick from the bf. I quite enjoyed it. Not my favorite read but it was ok. There were a few good solid parts but then it's like Nancy tries to take the reader into an espionage thing. Which did not work, in my opinion, because the entire rest of the book is cooking galore. The restaurant parts and all the talk of food and the people making the food and anything relating to food..were good because you could clearly tell Nancy has a passion for food (she was a former executive chef to Julia Child)  I just really wish that it would have stayed in that field instead of trying to get all...Tom Clancy on me.
Maybe others felt differently but I was very surprised (and not in a good way) about  that mish-mash.

To any foodies out there, you might just pick it up for the italian recipes at the end!

but don't skip ahead, at least give it a read, and maybe you'll think differently than I did about this book
El Corazon


The Comedy of Errors
by William Shakespeare

Started/Finished: May 12, 2010

The plot's been done a million times since in every sitcom ever invented, but there was still something basically agreeable about this play. 18 pages. Grade: B-
Tom Sawyer Abroad
by Mark Twain

Started: May 25, 2010
Finished: May 27, 2010

Semi-amusing but basically inconsequential. A light, throw-away read with a few highlights in the conversations between Tom and Huck and Jim but nothing special overall. 104 pages. Grade: B-
The Best American Short Stories of the Eighties
edited by Shannon Ravenel

Started: May 12, 2010
Finished: May 26, 2010

A handful of perfect stories, a couple that I didn't like at all, a few mediocre ones, but mostly very good short stories were included in this volume. There was probably a bit too much emphasis on "big names" when picking the stories to be included but that's a minor bitch. 372 pages. Grade: B+
Girl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen

Started: May 26, 2010
Finished: May 27, 2010

This wasn't really what. Was expecting. I figured it'd be some heavy handed dirge about teenage depression. Instead, the writing was very spare, very poetic. In some ways I could even classify this as a comic memoir. Understated comedy but comedy nonetheless. I liked this a lot. 169 pages. Grade: A
Tom Sawyer, Detective
by Mark Twain

Started/Finished: May 27, 2010

I liked this a bit more than Tom Sawyer Abroad. Neither book is anything close to as good as the original two Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn novels, but they're both reasonably entertaining. An extra plus for the phrase "lawyer for the prostitution." That made me laugh out loud. 71 pages. Grade: B
The Reader
by Bernhard Schlink

Started: May 27, 2010
Finished: May 28, 2010

I haven't seen the recent movie based on this though I knew some very basic plot points just from reading reviews, but I didn't make the connection between book and movie until I was 50 pages in. I loved this. So goddamn sad, so matter of fact. Just brilliant writing. 218 pages. Grade: A
The Milagro Beanfield War
by John Nichols

Started: May 26, 2010
Finished: May 29, 2010

I absolutely loved this comic novel. Great story, great setting, great characters, great writing. Just a basically perfect book. 629 pages. Grade: A+
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
by William Shakespeare

Started: May 12, 2010
Finished: May 29, 2010

I hated this play. Proteus was a total scoundrel and the ending was a joke. 22 pages. Grade:C-
Total # of Books Read in 2010:170
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 43,402
women, picasso, reading

10/50 Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

I took this book with me to  surgery way back in April. It was the surgery that diagnosed my ovarian cancer. Needless to say,  I barely read any of it because I couldn't concentrate at all.  Finally, after 2 long months, 3 surgeries, 3 weeks in the hospital and 3 weeks recovering at home, I picked up this book again, determined to resume my life.

I like the character Odd Thomas. Koontz has a series with this character and I will probably read all of the books. The story was engaging, but light enough to get me back in the groove. Koontz always manages to surprise me at the end of his books. Even when I look for it. This story about the reluctant detective who sees dead people is fun to read.

3/5 stars

Books read in May: #55-72

In an effort to shorten my monthly posts, I'm just going to post the title, genre, and my one-sentence opinion of each book. If you want to read more, links will take you to my full reviews.

55. Nora Roberts, Bed of Roses: Contemporary romance. It was okay -- mildly entertaining, but nothing special.
56. Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island: Classic. I didn't love it, but it was worth a read.
57. Elizabeth Aston, Writing Jane Austen: Chick lit. A nice twist on Austen-themed fiction, and I enjoyed it.
58. W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge: Modern classic. I liked it, but not as much as The Painted Veil.
59. Jennifer Echols, Going Too Far: YA chick lit. I really liked it!
60. Thornton Wilder, Our Town: Play. There's not much to it, but it gave me food for thought.
61. Jerramy Fine, Someday My Prince Will Come: Memoir, chick lit. It's amusing in places, but the narrator really irritated me.
62. David McCullough, John Adams: Biography. Well written and fascinating.
63. Winifred Watson, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Fiction. I absolutely loved it!
64. James Conroyd Martin, Push Not the River: Historical fiction (18th-century Poland). Entertaining but not great.
65. Stella Gibbons, Nightingale Wood: Comic fiction. I liked it but found it darker than Cold Comfort Farm.
66. Dara Horn, All Other Nights: Historical fiction (Civil War). It was okay, and there were some interesting historical tidbits.
67. Jude Morgan, An Accomplished Woman: Historical fiction (Regency). Loved it!
68. G. K. Chesterton, On Tremendous Trifles: Essays. I liked it, but I wouldn't recommend it to Chesterton neophytes.
69. Julia Gregson, East of the Sun: Historical fiction (1920s India). Liked it.
70. Loretta Chase, Miss Wonderful: Regency romance. I was disappointed, but I'm told the sequels are better.
71. Pat Walsh, 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might: Nonfiction. I found the information useful and liked the author's sarcastic tone.
72. Seanan McGuire, Rosemary and Rue: Urban fantasy. I liked it and plan to continue with the series.

(Cross-posted to books and 100ormorebooks.)
Caleb- snug as a bug!

Book 31: Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane
Kristin Hannah
Fiction; chick lit
479 pages
Hannah (On Mystic Lake) goes a little too far into Lifetime movie territory in her latest, an epic exploration of the complicated terrain between best friends—one who chooses marriage and motherhood while the other opts for career and celebrity. The adventures of poor, ambitious Tully Hart and middle-class romantic Kate Mularkey begin in the 1970s, but don't really get moving until about halfway into the book, when Tully, who claws her way to the heights of broadcast journalism, discovers it's lonely at the top, and Katie, a stay-at-home Seattle housewife, forgets what it's like to be a rebellious teen. What holds the overlong narrative together is the appealing nature of Tully and Katie's devotion to one another even as they are repeatedly tested by jealousy and ambition. Katie's husband, Johnny, is smitten with Tully, and Tully, who is abandoned by her own booze-and-drug-addled mother, relishes the adoration from Katie's daughter, Marah. Hannah takes the easy way out with an over-the-top tear-jerker ending, though her upbeat message of the power of friendship and family will, for some readers, trump even the most contrived plot twists.

I thought this was a quick and easy read. I did like the beginning, but the middle seemed to drag on. It was a bit too long, to be honest and I felt like a lot of the story could have been cut down and still be a good read. I really didn't care for Tully. It was quite the tear jerker and if you like sappy and sad endings, then this is the book for you.

***Next read: I just started reading Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
Blossoms Personalized

Book 18: Fablehaven Book Five: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

Here is book eighteen from my Book List 2010. The link leads to a more detailed review in my journal.

18. Title: Fablehaven Book Five: Keys to the Demon Prison
Author: Brandon Mull © 2010
Pages: 588
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Mesmerizing ending to fantastic series.
Personal Rating: ««««½ out of five.

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If you like YA fantasy, I highly recommend this book and this series. This is something I plan to read again in the future but this time I'll read all of them one right after the other. It's a little hard to catch up when there is a lot of time that passes between book releases.

18 / 50 books. 36% done!

6402 / 15,000 pages. 43% done!