June 21st, 2010

Eric in Robe

No. 25 for 2010

Title: 9th Judgment
Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Rating: 4/5
Book: 25/50 (50% completed)
Pages: 355 pgs
Total Pages 9,273/15,000 pages (61.82% completed)
Next up: Deliver us from Evil by David Baldacci

I liked this book. Quick plot, believable crimes. I love the Women's Murder Club characters. However, my only complaint about this book is the topic matter. Women and children first James...you really had to write about the murders of infant children?

Overall, it was a good read despite the topic and I can't wait until the next installment of the Women's Murder Club!

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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Dead Dog Cat


Late last night (early this morning) I finished reading another M.A.R. Barker novel of Tekumel, his gaming world, called A Death of Kings. It deals with the same characters from a novel I read earlier this year, and once again, it reads like an adventure log. Not bad, some interesting ideas expressed, but in the end, imperfect. I think I have one more novel of his in my TBR stack.
books - love anim.

Book 40 for 2010

I've just joined, and while it might seem odd that I'm joining a 50 book challenge when I'm 80% completed, I wanted a place to read book reviews and to discuss the books that I'm reading and this looked like the best place around. I'm Allie, I live in Ontario, Canada, I'm 46 years old, and I love books. That will do.

My most recent reading is Contact by Carl Sagan, 1985, 484 pages.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was only last year that I started reading science fiction, and I have become quite a convert to the genre. Reading Contact was a mistake, but a good one. I had thought, when I was downloading this novel to my e-reader, that I was getting his famous non-fiction work Cosmos, but it was a happy mistake.

Contact is the story of Dr. Ellie Arroway, who, in her position as director and radio astronomer in a New Mexico facility, is among the first to intercept a message transmitted from a planet in a different galaxy. What happens next, and the people who populate the tale, make for a fascinating book, strong on science and just as strong on the emotions of the characters. I learned a lot while reading it. Dr. Sagan was a radio astronomer and involved with SETI [Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence] as was Dr. Arroway and I couldn't help but feel that the novel was perhaps Sagan's wish-fulfillment, his dream of contact from alien life.

I will give the book 4 out of 5 stars; it's losing a star for the lack of explanation about a couple of human relationships improperly explained and for some of the science that went well over my head.

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women, picasso, reading

11/50 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

     Another Young Adult book! This was sent to me in a care package from my cousin, Terry. It's a story set in the future. North America has been divided into districts that compete against each other in the yearly Hunger  Games. Each district sends two representatives to compete for survival until only one remains alive. The author creates a truly unique world with vivid descriptions. This is a book that Hollywood ought to make into a movie. I came to care about these characters. I was disappointed only when I came to the last page and saw "END OF BOOK ONE". Book one?!??!!!! Now I have to hunt down the next book to see what happens to these characters that the author has so cunningly made me actually care about! Looks like a trip to the library.

5/5 stars

Books 25 and 26

Book 25
Legend of a Suicide – David Vann

This collection of short stories (plus a novella in the middle) is Vann's fictional reworking of his father's suicide when he was 13. In it, we get the view from various angles, including the second part of a novella that turns the suicide upside down (along with the narrator).
Vann exhibits incredible control in the style and detail of each story, a thin narrative of life before and after his father's death. There is much here that reads true, most likely meaning it is. It can be a terrible read, not in his writing, but in the tension and anxiety his narrator experiences during life with dear old dad.
Vann does his best work looking back with the privilege of time. His stories of his adult life - which he views as marked by divorce and death - don't capture the same emotion or depth. Dare I say, he comes across as whiny, the guy you'd roll your eyes about the moment he stepped away at a party.
The intensity, though, carries the day. Much of it is hard to read, but a valuable look at one of our society's taboos. The book would have been better, though, to have ended with his novella, a fantasy of what could or might have happened with a suicide. The imagery from that story still lingers.

Book 26
Dogged Pursuit – Robert Rodi

The subtitle on this book should really be: How a fabulous gay man learned about being fabulous through his not-so-fabulous dog.
If it were any more over-the-top gay, Nathan Lane would have to do a cameo.
Not that Rodi can't write about the gay archetype with humor and wit. And not that his descriptions of Dusty, the little-rescue-dog-who-couldn't, and life in the competitive dog-agility circuit aren't clever and fun.
But this breezy book is the laziest kind of memoir. Rodi ends every chapter telling how much he's learned, only to clearly not have picked up much at all. It's as if an editor were asking him, "But how do you feel," after every moment of his year, and our
narcissistic friend is only to happy to oblige.
And nothing endures you to a reader than descriptions like a "Midwestern face" to portray your *friends* or your insistence on wanting to belong to something, only to lecture on the proper food, music and lifestyle one should embrace.
There is some fun stuff here to work with. And there is some real humor.
But, again, it just seems lazy. Perhaps that editor asking how Rodi felt was also wanting it done yesterday. That would explain a lot.

(no subject)

Hello everyone, here is the start of my list for 2010. I will only be posting the books as I read them and have a review after this post. For the full list of what I have read that I will keep on my own private journal. Now to the books so far.

1. The Harlequinby Laurell K. Hamilton
Pages: 422
Genere: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Thoughts: I read this book back in January shortly after getting it for christmas. What I remember is that I finished in only a few days. If you are into vampires, were-animals, and sexual scenes all in the same book then I would recommend the book. If you are not then I would say this is probably not the series for you.

2. Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton
Pages: 340
Genere: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Thoughts: This book like Harlequin is not for everyone. There is a lot of sex and violence in the book. I happen to like the style of the writing and the characters in the story. Which is why I have read all the books that I can that are in this series.

3. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Pages: 509
Genere: Fiction
Thoughts: This is the latest of the Robert Langdon books. Like Dan Brown's other books Angel's and Demons and Da Vinci Code, I couldn't put this down. I was drawn in to the plot and was on the edge of my seat wondering if Robert would solve the mystery in time. I would recommend the book to anyone who has read the other Langdon books and liked them.

4. Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton
Pages: 486
Genere: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Thoughts: I honestly don't think I should recomend this book for the sheer fact of I have completely forgotten what it was about. I actually had to look up the plot of the book on amazon to remind myself. I know when I read it I must have liked it because I bought the next book in the series and read that next.

5. Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton
Pages: 109
Genere: Sc-fi/Fantasy
Thoughts: This book was more of a short story then a large novel. It was what in one of Hamiltons larger books would have just been a sub-plot but instead she made it into its own novel. It was cute, but had a lot of sex, and a bit of magical slavery in it. But other then that it was a nice book.

6. Marker by Robin Cook
Pages: 658
Genere: Mystery
Thoughts: Marker is well...confusing at first. It is dealing with a fairly new medical issue of looking at peoples genes and knowing that they have the marker for disease later in life. I would recommend the book if you want a long read that deals with more current medical issues. If you are not into this kind of thing I would probably back off reading this book.
so messed up

Quick Reviews

After quite a long reading slump, I'm back in the game.  I don't think I'll hit the 50 mark this year, but I'm still going for it; as long as I keep reading, I'm happy, no matter the number.  Here's a quick review of each of the books I've read so far:

1.  The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening & The Struggle by LJ Smith - Though there were a lot of, well, cheesy moments in the book, it was a fast read, & somewhat interesting.  Elena kind of annoyed me, & neither Stefan nor Damian were particularly entrancing; regardless, I read the next book in the series, so it had to have some merits, right?

2.  The Vampire Diaries: The Fury & Dark Reunion by LJ Smith -  Same opinion as with the first volume, except the ending was a bit much for me.  If you've read it, you probably know what I mean.

3.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Loved it!  About a girl & her family [well, the couple that adopted her] during the Holocaust years, as narrated by Death.  Definitely an interesting read for me, & I loved the imagery.

4.  Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut - I love Kurt Vonnegut. This certainly did not change my opinion. About a man & his years at a "college" & a prison, working.  From Hocus Pocus: "Just because some of us can read & write & do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the universe."

5.  The Virginity Club by Kate Brian - Not the best YA book.  Granted, it was a fast read.  It just didn't hold me that well, I guess.  About four high school girls, pressured to keep their virginity for a college scholarship.

6.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - Definitely worth your while, I think.  It's a dystopian novel, about a government that becomes too controlling, & the brilliant minds of the nation going on strike.  There were some parts that kind of dragged on (I'm looking at you, Galt, with your 40-page radio speech) but they're relevant & worth taking the time to read over.  It's not a fast read, by any means; it's also over 1000 pages.  Don't let that stop you; if it sounds like it's up your alley, give it a shot.

7.  The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - Though it didn't have my favorite ending in the world, I did like it.  It was interesting & sad.  Told from the perspective of a young girl murdered by a neighbor, we follow her family through a span of about ten years as they cope with her death & move on with their lives.

8-10.  Uglies/Pretties/Specials by Scott Westerfeld - I'm sure you've all heard of the Uglies series by now.  A dystopian society requires everyone to get an operation to make them a Pretty when they turn 16.  Tally has always dreamed of the day she'd become a Pretty.  But what really happens during this operation?  Turns out, it's not just what's outside that changes.  I really liked these books; they were fast reads, but interesting.  Tally goes through several changes, & it was interesting to see how things are affected as a result of those changes.

11.  Extras by Scott Westerfeld - set in the same world as the above books, but a few years later, Aya is now the main character (instead of Tally).  While reading this, I didn't think I liked it that much.  However, I found that once I finished it, I thought about it a lot.

12.  Flirtin' With the Monster edited by Ellen Hopkins - A compilation of essays on Crank & Glass by Ellen Hopkins.  The main reason I read this was for the essays by Hopkins' family members, including "Kristina" herself.  It was interesting to read about parts that were true & parts that weren't, & how members of the family were affected.

13.  My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler - I laughed a lot while reading this, though I thought the first half of the book was a lot funnier than the second half.  My favorite story was Guess Who's Leaving Through the Window?, but if you're offended easily, it's probably not for you.  In fact, this book in general is not for you, if you're easily offended.

Next up: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #33 -- Frewin Jones, Faerie Path #5: The Enchanted Quest, 356 pages.

The fifth book in this cheesy magical-girl fantasy that I can't seem to get enough of. Poor Tania. Being a Faerie Princess isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, it seems to involve an awful lot of helplessness, hopelessness, betrayal and mental anguish. And there's even more to come in the next book!

Progress toward goals: 170/365 = 46.6%

Books: 33/100 = 33.0%

Pages: 8754/30000 = 29.2%

2010 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven
bear jew

(no subject)

Title: Wings
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 294
First Line: "Laurel's shoes flipped a cheerful rhythm that defied her dark mood."

Summary: Laurel's life is the very definition of normal. . .until the morning when she wakes up to discover a flower blooming from her back. As it turns out, nothing in Laurel's life is what it seems. Now, with the help of an alluring faerie sentry who holds the key to her true past, Laurel must race to save her human family from the centuries-old faerie enemies who walk among them.

Source: Back of book

Review: Not fantastic. Something about the style annoyed me -- it seemed very fake or something. The story itself wasn't bad. I'm not sure how I felt about the "wings" and what they were made of, but that could be because I've never heard that take before and I've read a crazy amount of faerie stories. This definitely isn't the best faerie book I've read, but not the worst, either. Maybe worth a read? It gets better as it goes on and it makes you, or me, at least, want to read the sequel, but I'm not about to go out and buy it.

Worst part: The first half was weird. Or the first third? I don't know. It didn't work as well as its remaining parts. Those weren't mind-blowing, either, but they were certainly better. And then the whole thing about Laurel's age bothered me. Especially when it came to the situation with David.

Best part: Tamani. The faerie boys are ALWAYS the best part.

Grade: C

Other Books by This Author: Spells.

45 / 50 books. 90% done!
El Corazon


The Treasure of the Sierra Nevada
by B. Traven

Started: May 30, 2010
Finished: June 1, 2010

Traven's dry, matter-of-fact style suits this story perfectly. My only gripes are minor ones. First, the great John Huston film based on this book follows it so closely even in most of the tiny details that it made reading it slightly anti-climactic. Second, the couple of chapters dealing with Indian and bandit lore seemed like pulp filler to a degree. Still, I really enjoyed this overall. 308 pages. Grade: A-
This Boy's Life
by Tobias Wolff

Started: May 30, 2010
Finished: June 3, 2010

Judging solely from a couple of tiny clips of the movie version that I'd seen years ago, I thought this was going to be a depressing tale of a good kid getting the tar beat out of him by his sadistic stepfather. The reality was so much better. I love how honest Wolff is in describing what a dishonest sneaky little bastard he was as a kid. And Dwight, the stepfather, is a captivating character that could only come from real life. 288 pages. Grade: A
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 172
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 43,598


Books 26, 27 and 28

26. Le Souper by Jean-Claude Brisville
It's an historical play that I quite enjoyed. It was a quick and interesting read from an historical point fo view. Brisville imagines a conversation between Taleyrand and Fouché after Napoléon looses the battle of Waterloo (let's be clear, this conversation is fictional). Louis XVIII has not yet come back to Paris, the Allies armies are in the capital. Talleyrand and Fouché are trying to come to an accord so that they can each keep what power they had. It paints a cynical portrait of those two controversial historical figures.

27. Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is the fourth and last novel in the Sharing Knife series. I enjoyed this book, but less than the first ones. I felt that too many characters cropped up without good reasons and I couldn't quite become interested in their fate. And the last confrontation between Fawn (the heroin) and the Malice (a bat-like creature that basically steals the life out of everything) felt like a let-down. Still, I enjoyed the romance aspect of this book and I liked the end : hopeful but not the "all is well and couldn't be better" kind. The Sharing Knife is good fantasy series all the same and I recommend it to those who like fantasy and romance.

28. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I'm in love with this book. It"s a long and slow read (my copy was about 840 pages) and it's gorgeous. I'm not sure at all I can be coherent about this novel, but I do recommend it. This book is a strange mix of historical novel and fantasy : it's about the magical rebirth of Great Britain during the early 19th century. The best feature of this book was that I really felt that magic was real : Susanna Clarke built this world with a "real" history. There are numerous and long end of page notes that give details about "historical" facts and back-story. And the characters are so well developed. They all have their flaws and strength, and I felt interested in their stories. In the end, I wished this book were longer, which is saying something, since I'm usually an impatient reader, who skips pages just so I can know what happens next.


(no subject)

Book 36: Midnight Becomes Her - Mary Higgings Clark
Genre: Thriller
Plot: A woman discovers a long lost family member only to be horrified when she is brutally murdered a short time later. Then it seems that Nuala's murder was not the only suspicious death...
My thoughts: Rather easy reading.
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

Book 37: Furies of Calderon - Jim Butcher
Genre: High Fantasy
Plot: Can't explain without spoilers.
My thoughts: I enjoyed reading this very much. A very easy read, like the Dresden Files books. Fairly typical fantasy...some over-used plots re-used.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5) because it bubbled and flowed nicely.

37 / 50 books. 74% done!

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  • cat63

Book 38 for 2010

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. 236 pages

Saw the film of this a while ago and thought it quite fun, so when I found a copy of the book, I decided to give it a go. The film is a surprisingly faithful rendition of the book, and yet somehow (and this isn't something I often say) the film was better.

The story is decent enough - Alex Rider has been brought up by his uncle Ian, and when Ian dies suddenly, Alex discovers that his uncle wasn't a banker but a spy - and he's recruited in his place - but the writing is somehow rather pedestrian, making even the most perilous situations lacking in tension. Not bad, but I think it could have been quite a lot better.