July 16th, 2010


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I'm finding it difficult to post about books as often as I finish them. I was getting caught up yesterday and then I finished THREE books, which is crazy. Still, here ya go.

I read The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. It's the book on which the movie is based and is, of course, about a guy who can't remember who he is and is then, justifiably I believe, pissed that everybody seems to want to kill him. Luckily for this guy, he's got certain useful instincts that keep him from being killed. It's been a long time since I saw the movie, and I don't remember it very well, but I had the impression that the book was more interesting. It was your general action thriller, so it kept my attention quite well as I was reading it and then faded almost completely from my memory after I was finished.

The same thing happened with The Other by Thomas Tryon. This one veers more towards horror and the story... had potential. It could have been really really creepy but, for some reason, it wasn't. Not for me anyway. (It's about a pair of twin boys and one of them seems kind of evil.)

Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams is the memoir of her mother's cancer. She contrasts her mother's lingering death with the flooding of the Great Salt Lake, which simultaneously drowns her favorite bird sanctuary. It was beautifully written and only tainted by the fact that I'm not a bird-watcher and found it difficult to empathize with her losses where the birds were concerned or her joys upon seeing strange birds. Still, it's lovely and if you're looking for a memoir about dealing with loss, this is an awfully good one.

I'd picked up Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago because the boyfriend LOVES Patton and one of those things happened that sometimes happen in relationships, where you've listened to your significant other wax eloquent about how great _________ is for so long that you start to think you think it's great too. It turned out, about halfway through the book, that I'm really NOT interested in World War II from a tactical standpoint and I really don't give a damn about Patton. In fact, I ended up a bit confused about what the big deal was. I mean, the gentleman writing the book asserts an awful lot that, had Eisenhower followed Patton's plans, the war would have been over a lot more quickly, but he DIDN'T. Patton seems to have been systematically ignored and shunted aside all through WWII, so why (even though it seems likely to me that he was, in fact, a brilliant strategist) is he the one we hear about? Why is he the one who got all of the glory when he was the one who wasn't allowed to do anything? It's odd to me. Mostly I got bogged down in the tactical discussions of the book. My brain doesn't bend that way, so it made less sense to me than the discussions of Patton's reactions to things. If you DO like tactics, you'd probably be fascinated by this book but, me, I wandered off to read a book about psychological disorders and was much happier. (But I DID finish the book about Patton, so it counts!)

PP Keira book

Books 1-3

Okay, so I'm going to try to attempt to read 50 books within a year! Usually I average about 20 books a year, so we'll see if I can make this happen or not.

1. Queen of Babble in the Big City
Author: Meg Cabot
Published: 2007
# of pages: 307

I read the first book in this series, Queen of Babble about a year ago and thought it was cute and enjoyable, so thought I would continue on with the next book. The main character, Lizzie, has trouble keeping her big mouth shut and it often gets her into trouble. She's living in New York with her new boyfriend, Luke (who she met in the previous book) and is dropping hints that she wants to get married, but is worried that Luke doesn't share the same sentiment. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first book, but it was a light, fun read.

2. Eclipse
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: 2007
# of pages: 629

This is the third installment in Meyer's Twilightseries. I read the first book because I wanted to know what the big deal was, thinking I might stumble onto the next Harry Potter. Yeah, not so much. The book was AWFUL. I really don't get the popularity of these books at all. However, it was fun to read because it was so bad, you know? So I decided to keep reading the series just so I could mock them pretty much, haha. So in this book, Bella is in love with Edward (he's the vampire), but Jacob (he's the werewolf) is also in love with her and while she loves Jacob, she can't live without Edward. I have no idea why these two guys are falling over Bella as there's nothing special about her and she's really whiny and pathetic. Her entire life revolves around Edward; she even admits it by telling the reader things like "Everything in my life is about Edward." She has no goals in life except to become a vampire so she can spend eternity with Edward, which I find creepy, and not romantic.

The vampires and werewolves have to come together because Victoria, the evil vampire is coming to kill Bella because she wants revenge for Edward killing James, her lover. Victoria kills a bunch of people in Seattle, creating her own army of vampires to come after Bella.

The only thing that saves the book is Meyer's awful and often hilarious writing. We get gems such as these: (Bella snuggling up against Edward) It probably felt similar to snuggling with Michelangelo's David, except that that this perfect marble creature wrapped his arms around me.

I rolled my eyes when Edward had to go somewhere for the day and Bella was bitching about how "without Edward the day was guaranteed to be unbearable!" Um, you're going to become a vampire anyway so you can spend ETERNITY with him and you can't go one freaking day without him? How pathetic.

3. The Mist
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1980
# of pages: 230

I saw the movie two years ago and really liked it, so I thought I would check out the book which I haven't been able to find until just recently. From what I remember of the movie, it follows the short story pretty well. It's not one of King's scariest stories, but it's definitely creepy. The main difference between the book and the film is the ending. In the film we know exactly what happens to the characters, but the ending in the book is a bit more ambiguous, you don't know the fate of the characters, though you can probably guess it's a grim one. I kept picturing Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Carmody even though in the book she's described as being fat and much older.

(no subject)

 The King of Torts - John Grisham

The Partner - John Grisham

Grisham is not my favorite author.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Frankly, he's fluff for long car rides and plane travel and that's it.  His characters are shallow.  His plots are, well, way too reliant on longshots and coincidences.  So, yeah.  Not good books.  And it's frustrating, because every once in a while Grisham does something like The Painted House, where he shows that there is a real writer in his skin somewhere, if only he would let that person out more often.

One good thing about Grisham, the saving grace of his books (most of them anyway) is that he knows the law and understands the issues plaguing the legal community.  And he knows how to write about them in a way that feels genuine to attorneys while still being comprehensible for the layman.  That is the saving grace that made The King of Torts tolerable.  If you've ever wondered about those mesothelioma commercials, there's a good primer on mass tort strategy (and more specifically on how firms make it pay off for them) woven into the text of the book.  That, however, is the only thing that makes the book even marginally tolerable.

Sadly, The Partner does not even have that going for it.  Remember the lead character from The Firm?  Well, The Partner tells the story of what happens after he's apprehended, and it is no where near as interesting as it could have been.  And, to make matters worse, there really is not hidden aspect of the legal system that you get an insider's view on.  No, it's just one long celebration of how very, very clever the main character is.


The King of Torts is a pretty good airplane read (or long-car-drive listen).  The Partner is a waste of time.

Books Read: 16 / 100

Pages Read:  7,269 / 60,000

Books 14 and 15 - 2010

Book 14: Elphame’s Choice by P.C. Cast – 426 pages

Description from Amazon:
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Book 15: Brighid’s Quest by P.C. Cast – 507 pages

Description from Amazon:
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Non spoiler thoughts:
These two books are a duet of sorts, starring the same characters and set over the space of about a year in the same period of time, approximately 125 years after the first of P.C. Cast’s Divine series (Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, Divine By Blood). Having said that, and given that I read them in quick succession, I am going to review them together and firstly, with no spoilers and then with spoilers, simply because I loved them so, so much and I have so much to say about them, which will ultimately end up being spoiler-filled. So if you don’t want the spoilers, do not click on the cut below, just keep reading here.
So firstly, I want to say, if you like books about hybrids (which I do – centaurs, mermaids, half-aliens (which is what my own book is based around) etc) then these books are for you. They feature multiple hybrids, both centaurs and others. If this is your thing, you’ll know who you are. Secondly, these books are best read if you’ve already read the Divine series, because they use the same mythology – it just helps with understanding the role of the Goddess and her Chosen etc.
Okay, so the actual books – oh my God! I loved them so much! Unfortunately I was studying for an exam while I was reading Elphame’s Choice which meant I couldn’t focus as much of my attention on them as wanted, but nonetheless it drew me in. In a funny way, as much as I loved the main character of Elphame, it was her brother Cuchulainn that really got to me. I fell head over heels in love with that boy. He was a compelling mixture of my two brothers (making it rather odd that I liked him so much – haha!) and events near the end of the first book made me ache for him. He takes on an even more staring role in Brighid’s Quest and though when I first learned of it, I was put off, it came to make such perfect sense that I feel in love with him all over again. Elphame’s story, on the other hand, whilst the point of the story, is generally very ‘typical’ of a fantasy novel and though I enjoyed it, it was almost overshadowed by Cuchulainn’s. Brighid appears as a supporting character in Elphame’s Choice but takes over the lead in the second book. I didn’t warm to her particularly in the first one, but a hundred pages into the second one, and partly as a result of events in the previous book, and I adored her. She is the kind of woman I can relate to and I appreciated her honesty, strength, and highly amusing sarcastic tongue!
Ultimately, these stories are very character driven, and whilst I’ve heard some say that they are on the dull side, I think if you can relate to the characters (despite their hybridity) you can really get into them. I tend to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with P.C. Cast – I adored Divine by Mistake, and then found myself hating Divine by Choice and Divine by Blood – but I think, in this case, she won this round. Now if only she’d continue with this series and get over the whole vampire thing!

Spoiler thoughts:
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15 / 50 books. 30% done!

4923 / 15000 pages. 33% done!

I literally have like 5 book reviews to catch up on, but as I think a post that big would crash livejournal, I'll post them in dribs and drabs. So bare in mind that the currently reading as below is current as of today but that there's books I've read in between the reviews above and the books below.

Currently reading:
- The Constant Princess
by Philippa Gregory – 486 pages
- Kindred
by Octavia E. Butler – 287 pages
- Your Planet or Mine?
by Susan Grant – 379 pages

And coming up:
- Angels and Demons
by Dan Brown – 620 pages
- The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls – 341 pages
- She’s Such a Geek: Women write about Science, Technology & other nerdy stuff
edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders
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