February 15th, 2010

Book Marks

After by Kristen Harmel

Title: After by Kristin Harmel
Pages: 240
Rating: 4/5
Genre: YA Lit
Summary (Off Goodreads): LACEY’S WORLD SHATTERS when her dad is killed in a car accident. And secretly? She feels like it’s her fault. If she hadn’t taken her own sweet time getting ready that morning . . . well, it never would have happened. Her mom wouldn’t be a basket case. Her brother Logan wouldn’t drink. And her little brother would still have two parents.

But life goes on even if you don’t want it to. And when Lacey gets the chance to make a difference in the lives of some people at school, she jumps at it. Making lemonade out of lemons is her specialty. Except she didn’t count on meeting a guy like Sam. Or that sometimes? Lemonade can be a pretty bitter drink to swallow.

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Books this year:
Currently Reading:  The Life of Elizabeth I by Allison Weir (still.  I'm about halfway through but it's thick reading so I took a break with this book.)

As always, you can read this review and all others at my Goodreads account and my journal, im_writing .
books: is there anything they can't do?

Review: The Big, Bad City, by Ed McBain

# 14: The Big, Bad City by Ed McBain:

Sunday evening turned a rosy pink and then a deeper blush and then a reddish-lavender-blue and then purple and black, the golden day succumbing at last to night.

It was time to go buy a gun.

Synopsis: Three inter-locking cases in the 87th Precinct: a dead nun, an unhinged stalker and a burglar who bakes chocolate-chip cookies. Go.

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Dorothy Bridges, James Lee Burke, Laura Zigman

My recent reads:

You Caught Me Kissing by Dorothy Bridges -- I love movies. My love for movies is definitely on par with my love of books. One does not trump the other. So when I found out that the mother of Beau and Jeff Bridges wrote a book chronicling her decades-long romance with Lloyd Bridges, I was immediately on board! ...Well, it wasn't what I thought, exactly. Instead of an autobiography, the book is a slim collection of love poems that Dorothy wrote to her husband every Valentine's Day, including valentines she wrote to Lloyd after his passing. She also included short tidbits of their life together (with a one-sentence mention of his infidelities) and a generous amount of family photographs. Beau, Jeff and sister Lucinda each contribute thoughts on their parents' marriage. All in all, only a quick snapshot when I wanted something more.

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke -- What an eye-popping surprise! I had originally picked up this mystery because the character of Dave Robicheaux was brought to screen in the movie Heaven's Prisoners, starring Alec Baldwin. But if I was going to tackle the books, I wanted to start at the beginning of the series. Wow. Never before have I read a police detective novel so adept at setting the scene, atmosphere and mood. Paragraph after paragraph was devoted to the sights, smells, and sounds of New Orleans. Dialogue was realistic, with no explanation of colloquial terms or slang. James Lee Burke trusts the reader, and there is no finer treat. This was a gorgeous book, even though the subject matter was gritty.

Piece of Work by Laura Zigman -- Her debut Animal Husbandry was adapted into the film Someone Like You, starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. I have read all of Laura Zigman's novels, but I don't retain any information after I close the cover! Why do I keep persisting? Because she always starts out so promising! Her latest, concerning a woman's struggle to balance work and family life, is no exception. The author successfully hooks me with the story but too many insignificant details bog down the pace. I'm left thinking, "What's the point?" Bland, very bland.
han solo - who me? (star wars)
  • ki

(no subject)

Okay. I'm not one to ask for book recommendations. But this is a special case. My seven-year-old homeschooled son is in need of new books/series to read.

Here are a selection of what he's read recently:

The Spiderwick Chronicles
Beyond Spiderwick
Harry Potter 1&2 (he got bored - the curse of having already seen the movies)
Tales from the House of Bunnicula
Chronicles of Narnia (he didn't care too much for it)
Various manga, comic books, and graphic novels

He wants to start the Vampirates series, so I've requested the first book from the library. But this kid goes through books as fast as I do. So any suggestions are appreciated. I'm especially interested in introducing him to historical fiction/fantasy in the hopes of making history itself a little more appealing to him.

Thanks in advance!
books: is there anything they can't do?

Review: Grave Error, by Stephen Greenleaf

# 15: Grave Error by Stephen Greenleaf:

We stuttered our way down Nineteenth Avenue, wasting brakes and tires and gas and time. After ten minutes of that we turned east on Kennedy Drive and wound through Golden Gate Park. The park serves as a conduit for the evening fog, sucks it in from the ocean like a giant vacuum cleaner, and as I drove along the road the steamy clouds slipped reluctantly away from the hood of my car like the fingers of a drowning man.

It was dark in the park, as dark as despair. There were people in there doing everything from making love to plotting murder. I turned on my heater and drove a little faster.

Synopsis: Hard-boiled SF PI John Marshall Tanner is hired by the wife of a famous consumer crusader to find out why her husband's acting so weird. Tanner finds out, and a ton of people die.

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Acceptable in the '80s

Can anyone recommend any good books about/set in the 1980s? There is a glut of non-fiction social histories about the twentieth century, but not much after the swinging sixties, it seems! Either US or UK focus is fine.

Plus, any suggestions for fiction set in this particular decade would be appreciated - not just novels written between 1981 and 1989, but any authors or titles epitomising the era (like Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities). Again, US or UK, I don't mind!

Thanks in advance!


#39-42 of 2010

Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank

This is not only full of interesting virginity facts (did you know guinea pigs have hymens that dissolve and regrow?), it also is a great overview of how our opinions on virginity in the West have changed. It's divided into two parts, the science aspect and the social aspect. I thought I would like the second half better, but the science turned out to be a lot more interesting, like the early fear that speculums would lead to crazed sex maniac women. The second half focused more on religion, which wasn't as interesting to me.


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Gave up on Phonogram V1 because I know nothing about Britpop.

For queer girl reviews, my blog is The Lesbrary
han shot first

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Three years after the Diego War and the “mind-rain” that followed, the world has turned upside down: the stratified social order separating and elevating pretties from uglies and crumblies is no longer enforced. Instead, Tally Youngblood unleashed a new order. Pretty surgery is no longer mandatory, it’s optional--as is the choice to remain unchanged. Without the old system, the world struggles to find ways to organize themselves around each other (they must, of course, have some type of order and classification; humans need to label and categorize). In so short a time, the term Pretty now suggests “whatever got you noticed.” (p. 8). In Japan this means the reputation economy.

In a world filled with, and navigated through, social media and networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, and thousands of blogs, it’s not surprising that an author as astute as Scott Westerfeld decided this would make a great premise for a SF book. As an addition to his Uglies series for Young Adults, it’s become my favorite of the four. It also makes me a little self-conscious about using social media. The reputation economy works by ranking citizens for doing nothing else but writing short, 10-minute media presentations--pseudo-journalistic style--about what other people are doing (this is called “kicking” a story) and seeing how popular that story (and the kicker) gets. The more attention a kicker regularly receives, the higher their rank overall. Higher ranks grant access to top notch apartments, clothing, and other things that bring materialistic comfort. The idea that people essentially get rewarded for sitting in front of a wall screen (i.e. a computer in our reality) and, to put it in our terms, blogging, texting, or tweeting, is frightening. Although, who wouldn’t love to get paid, and have a certifiable excuse, for a hobby is beyond me.

( Read the rest of the review! )

Just sitting here...

 I am sitting here. I finished Cleaving: A Story of Meat, Marriage and Obsession by Julie Powell. Does anyone want to discuss this book? I am sitting here wondering what it is I am feeling. Part judgmental, part stunned and part full of sadness. 

There is a blunt honest confessional tone in this memoir. I can't argue she writes poorly. In fact I was very drawn into the meat aspect of the book far more than I thought. I also thought about the book when I wasn't reading it.

Am I feeling depleted, cheated or defeated? I am so not sure.

  • Current Mood
    not sure see entry

The Creation of Eve

The Creation of Eve

Lynn Cullen

The Creation of Eve centers around a real but little know artist of the Renaissance, Sofonisba Anguissola. The story follows her from being a student to Michaelangelo to being the favorite lady in the Spanish Court of Felipe II.
For all of you Phillipa Gregory fans out there, I highly recommend this novel (to be released March 26). It combines strong characters, interesting history and a sense of melancholy in every page of Sofi's diary. Cullen creates great contrast between Sofi and the typical ladies serving the Queen. The Queen herself is what you would expect a year old girl to be, but her learning process is so interesting to follow as she has to fight to keep her head above water in so many situations.

If you are a fan of Historical Fiction this will probably be right up your ally.

Thanks for the LibraryThings early review program for the book

My Rating

#18 Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Note: This book is the February selection for calico_reaction  's bookclub. Read more about that here!

Dana is a modern black woman who is frequently pulled back in time to the pre-Civil War south against her will. Each time she is called upon to save the life of Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner and as she soon learns, her ancestor. The only thing that can bring her back to the present is the fear that her own life is about to end. As Dana meets Rufus several times throughout his lifetime, there is no way that she can predict what effects that the time period will have on him, or on herself.

My first experience with Kindred was in a college class on women and fiction (it was an interesting class- we also read Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber). At the time we had about two or three weeks to read the book. I ended up reading it in just two or three days. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it just as much this time around, while reading it for pleasure. One thing I find interesting about Kindred, is that although there are sci-fi elements (the time traveling) involved, it's really not a science fiction novel. It's more of a piece of historical fiction, and quite an effective one at that. Good historical fiction to me has the ability to take something foreign and long ago, and make it easy for us to connect with. Butler does a fantastic job of that here with Dana, who interprets the past for us through her modern eyes. The novel delves deeply into the psychology of what it means to truly be a slave, and shows that even a strong, heroic woman can be pulled into that mindset if it means her own survival.

I was once again very impressed with the characterization of this novel, as there are truly no “good” or “bad” characters, although some more bad than others. Dana is very much the hero of the novel, but as she struggles for survival, she ends up doing things that are very morally gray. Another example of great characterization can be seen in Rufus himself, who we watch grow from an innocent boy to a man very much influenced by the times he grows up in.

I also enjoyed how the novel was able to feel current, despite the fact that it was written over thirty years ago. Kindred is still a complicated novel that forces the reader to look at a violent and difficult time, and study the impact that it has on it's characters. When I first read this five years ago, I found it impossible not to read Dana's story without asking myself, what would I do if I was in her shoes? Would I make the same choices? How would I find a way to survive? I'm still not sure I have the answers.

Rating: five stars
Length: 377 pages
Source: shelf
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: For other books that feature time traveling try Timeline by Michael Crichton, and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Other books I've read by this author: This if my first

xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Title: Bloodhound
By: Tamora Pierce
Pages: 560
My Rating: B
Summary:  Beka, 17, is serving her first year as a Dog (police officer) in the Provost's Guard. She and her mentor and old partner, Goodwin, are sent from Corus to Port Caynn to try to discover the source of the counterfeit silver coins that are flooding the region, causing soaring grain prices and riots in Corus. Beka is accompanied by Achoo, the scent hound she rescued from its abusive handler.

My thoughts: Spoilers Collapse )
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