Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September Reading 5/2

Gourmet Rhapsody
Muriel Barbery

The most revered food critic in the world only has 48 hours to live. How will he spend it? Unfortunately, not in a very interesting way. He is on the search for the "taste" that has alluded him all this time. The story switches between him looking for this taste, and his family and friends speaking about him. And since he was a total asshole his entire life. His children hate him, people who have worked with him hate him, some pets like him, but that's about it. I was very disappointed with this story on so many levels. The story had true potential, it just never gets anywhere close to reaching it.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

September Reading 4/2

The Lost Symbol
Dan Brown

Oh, where to start. Mr Brown (Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons) tries his sand at yet another Robert Langdon book, this time set in the depths of Washington DC. So who is the terrible Villain? Mah'lah aka Zachary, a crazy tattooed man in the search of the Masonic "secret". The Secret is fairly dull, the supporting characters are annoying, except for Katherine Solomon who is studying Noetic Science.Of course crazy tattooed man becomes an issue of national security, but we only find out the reason at the end, Robert runs from the CIA, but ends up working with them.
Dan Brown isn't a great writer, but he usually good with coming up interesting, thought provoking material, however Lost Symbol is more irritating than interesting. Some advice Mr. Brown? Either come up with a better conspiracy or stop writing books centering around a character that, despite all he's seen is unwilling to believe in anything.


September Reading 3/2

Farewell Waltz
Milan Kundera

I know, I know, another Kundera, but this one was much different from everything else I have read of his so far. It was good, very character driven with a solid fast paced plot. Quick witted, it was a very enjoyable read.

Story: ***

September Reading 2/2

Alice In Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

I never saw the movie as a child, and knew realitivly little about the story before I started reading. I do have to say that for such a short book, it's so repetative. She grows, she shrinks, she grows she shrinks, so on and so forth and nothing is very interesting. I justt if It was something I have grown up with I would enjoy it more, but I really really didn't. I hear that Through the Looking glass is a better story, but I don't think I'll be putting much trust in Carroll again very soon.


September Reading 1/2

The White Queen
Phillipa Gregory

Not exactly a high brow read, but as the first book in the Plantagent (I'm still updating from my phone, spelling error will appear) series it is solid. The plot centers around Elizabeth Grey, who ends up marrying Edward IV while he is still fighting for the thron. It also encompases the missing Princes in the tower and pretty much everything that happened in Richard III. All in all a good quick read.


August Reading 4/2

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Tracy Chevalier

I was a little concerned when i picked this up for what must have been at least the 7th time. The spine was in bad shape and it felt like it was going to crumble to pieces in my hand and I was a little worried that I might have fonder memories of my favorite book in place of the actual content. My worries proved to be unwarranted. As always a quick read, with a great story, good characters and something charming that I can never really put my finger on. Griet isn't always likable, but she is relate-able. Plus it's hard to not find artists attractive. After the 233 pages you feel as if you have been walking invisably along side Griet, navigating a life in 17th century Holland. A must read on my list.

Story: ****

August Reading 3/2

Milan Kundera

If your into a short romp into the realm of politicians and scientists and writers, this is your cup of tea. however, i am not. It presents so interesting ideas, the chief of which being that everyone preforms for their own invisible audience, especially politicians. Alright characters, alright story, nothing special.

Story **
Structure **

August Reading 2/2

Milan Kundera

Surprisingly good, short novel. It's just about these emigres returning home after the fall of Communism and how the people the story centers around have been gone for 20 years and have other lives, but no one back in Prauge cares that they aren't the same people. Really good,quick read.

Story ****
Structure ****

August Reading 1/2

Joseph O'Neill

All around a decent book that took far to long to read. It's half really different love story half New York immigrant expose'. Hans, the Dutchman who the story centers around is easy to care about, when people hurt him, you feel hurt, but that doesn't mean you don't start kicking yourself when you see him do stupid things. What I found the most interesting was this view of events, like 9/11 and the 2003 blackout from someone the city, who felt the need to defend it even though it wasn't really his. It's hard to tell if the main story here is Hans trying, giving up and then going full force into his marriage, or if it's about Cricket, or if it's about Hans and Chuck. Highly recommend it.

Story: ****
Structure: **

July Reading 5/2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
JK Rowling

Hallows not Horcruxes. This was my first time rereading Deathly Hallows since it came out two years ago. I had remembered being unimpressed, annoyed and slightly disappointed in the story, the writing and the fact that Harry was a Horcrux. Upon rereading everything seemed to have more meaning. This is truly a masterfully crafted series. I will say that I could do without the long chapters of the trio going from woods to woods with no direction, no good conversation and no real plot movement. The epilogue is as cheesy as ever, and nothing is as sad as Dobbys funeral and Freds death.
This will end my Harry Potter craziness for the summer. See you in 2 years, Sorcerers Stone!

Story:**** (not because it's all so great, but I give credit where credit is due, and there is far to much going on for it not to be acknowledged)

July Reading 4/2

The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl
Belle De Jour

Calling this stupid chick lit would be doing it a favor. The first, as my review states, was good and a quick fun read, this was the opposite. While it was still a relatively quick read, that was more my determination to be done with it than with it being enjoyable. So different from what I expected. Let's just say marketing this as the second Call Girl novel is a bit much considering Belle now works in an office, takes up with an ex boyfriend who she cyberstalks (albeit rightly) and a 2 month vacation to South America. Not enjoyable, not fun. It was like reading a really bad memoir of some incredibility unimportant, uninteresting person.


July Reading 3/2

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling

My favorite in the series, just enough humor and side story to make the gravity of the Voldemort situation more tolerable. Cried from when Dumbeldore died till, well, till the end. I hate Fleur as much as I hated her in Goblet of Fire, Ginny is awesome, Harry is not as irritating, I enjoy all Weasleys.There isn't really much to about Harry Potter that hasn't been said. I did enjoy the movie, but I see how much was left out. I always love going back with the Pensive thing.

Structure: ****

July Reading 2/2

Belle De Jour
Joseph Kessel

The most and really only interesting part of this novel is that it was written in 1926. Severine is inoccent and proper. She comes off cold and slightly childish, but she becomes a prostitute because of some odd fantasy thing. She seems very weak, both physically and mentally. I guess I don't have very much good to say. It wasn't poorly developed but the characters were unlikeable. The most endering turned out to be a ganster who was willing to kill for Sevrines love.


July Reading 1/2

Milan Kundera

A novel born out of a gesture observed from a middle aged woman to her swim instructor. I've got to say, Kundera is nothing if not thought provoking. I did love reading about Goethe and Bettina, and then about the immortal Hemingway and Goethe. Though I wouldn't want Agnes life, it is interesting, her husband is dull, her daughter typical and her sister a self centered bitch. I suppose some would relate to Laura more, but I'm not that dramatic or self involved. Things repeat, a man obsessed with the number of lovers he has emerges and it turns out the only one that mattered was Agnes. The most confusing thing really was Kundera inserting himself into the story and interacting with Paul, and his friend Av...Averuan(yeah that's not right but i'm not going to look it up) wanting Laura and using Paul as an lawyer.

overall not bad, not my favorite. It did give me a lot to think about


June Reading 2/2

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Milan Kundera

I'll admit i didn't enjoy this nearly as much as i enjoyed ULoB, but it was still very good. A compilation of 7 stories, seemingly unrelated until you get to the forth story, the one i enjoyed most, where Kundera explains that they are all for and about Taminia. I wasn't a huge fan of the children island, or the first lost letters, but not because they were poorly written. Kundera has this way of making characters real. I was just telling this to Kirsten, all be it in a less clear way, but Kundera really gets to the grit of the human condition, they may not be perfect and not likable, but they're real, and it's amazing and comforting.
Story: (on average) ***

June Reading 1/2

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

If you've spent any time talking to me this past week, you've probably heard me raving about this book. I won't go as far to say I loved every second of it, I could have done without The Grand March, but even there there are many great points being made. Here is a quick summary:
Tomas is a Czech surgeon and he meets and falls in love with Tereza. Tomas also has a slew of mistresses, most important of which is Sabina, Sabina gets Tereza a job as a photographer in Prauge at the same magazine she works for, Russians invade, T2 get a dog, everyone goes to Switzerland, Tereza is still unhappy, moves back to a now sealed Prague with the dog, Tomas follows her and writes a letter comparing violent communists to Oedipus, he is essentially blacklisted, can't practice medicine. Sabina begins and affair with a married man, Franz, who is mostly a dreamer, he ends up leaving his wife for her. Sabina dose not approve of this and leaves him and goes to France. Tomas an Tereza move to the country. Everyone dies, including the dog.

Structure: ***1/2
Story: ****

May Reading 4/2

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Truman Copote

Ok, so it's really a Novella but putting that to the side I can honestly say this story was everything and nothing i expected all at the same time. While Holly is described as a blonde who looks all of 12 I could not help thinking of Audrey, who captured the essence of her to a T. The ending was an odd sort of Tragic, but I have to admit, closure is rare in real life, so it shouldn't appear any more readily in fiction. The first person account from...I don't think his real name is ever mentioned, let's call him Fred, give's Holly this beautiful shading that makes her real and flawed but lovable.

In short, Loved it, probably not enough to make me read In Cold Blood

Structure: ***

May Reading 3/2

We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive
Laurie Notaro

Now, given the title and my need for something light and fun to really kick off my summer reading I picked this ...this...this book of essays in the hopes of finding something Sedarisesk between the pages, what i found were mediocre stories a little to long to hold my interest and which tended to veer off topic as soon as they started to get interesting. The first half of the book is decent, but nothing spectacular, Doing America -about Notaro's first book tour, Attack of the XL Girl- a shopping experience gone wrong, and It's Fun to Stay at the YMCA- a charming tale about flipping off an 8 year old are all enjoyable segments, but they are more than counteracted by things like...well the list is to long to make. Needless to say this wasn't exactly what I was looking for, and when in want of a fun essay collection I would like to suggest that anyone reading head for Sedaris or Crosley, both who deliver on a relatability and enjoyability front.

Structure: ****
Story: **

May Reading 2/2

Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Belle de Jour

Book the lovely show with Billie Piper is based off of. Interesting, not as much sex as one would assume. a lot of London, people, and relationships. A great, quick read. Has pretty much distracted me from homework all week. Not sure I'd recommend it to anyone who would end up reading this besides Jasmyn, but hey, maybe you guys will surprise me. Not much else to say, Girl is kind of like me, if, you know i was a sex crazed prostitute in London, but like's lists.

Structure ***
Story ***

May Reading 1/2

Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

So, I've got to admit, from the start i was a little taken aback by the homoerotic undertones going on, but I got over that because, well it's Wilde, and everyone has been telling me I'd love this book since the beginning of the semester. Turns out it wasn't really my cup of tea, it's an ok story, written fairly well, but really as soon as the portrait started changing i started getting very bored. I can see why people have enjoyed Dorian Gray, I guess it just wasn't for me
Structure: ****
Story: ** 1/2

April Reading 1/2

Romance of a Shop
Amy Levy

Four sisters lose their father in 1880 and decided to open a photography studio to keep themselves instead of separating. All of the sisters have distinct, real personalities. Kind of like a Victorian Sex and the City, each sister has a man who want's her affection, sometimes more than one. It's short, to the point, and a fun read. I recommend it to anyone who has a few extra hours (Emily I think you'd really enjoy this.) A lot of cultural references, so footnotes help, but it's obvious that this was on the edge of socially acceptable.

Story: ***

March Reading 4/2

The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Mitch Album

I wouldn't have bought this had it not been on sale and i had a gift card, but it was a good, quick read. Not to sad, but it made you think, and i think it was just what i needed right now. The idea that the worst thing you could ever think is that you were useless and alone could go a long way in our socity. Really strong story

Story ****
Structure ***

March Reading 3/2

Girl, Interrupted
Susanna Kaysen

Another required read
For a memoir it was fast pasted, and didn't dwell on the fact that everyone was mentally ill, It dealt with the people, not the disease's they apparently had. Nothing is played up for pittys sake, though i'm sure a few violent episodes were thrown out. Straight up good writing, quick read. The bit at the end about the Vermeer struck me as something I would say. I could do without the paperwork between chapters, but i guess it is fitting for this purpose

Story: ***
Structure: ****

"The other two are self-contained paintings. The people in them are looking at each other -- the lady and her maid, the soldier and his sweetheart. Seeing them is peeking at them through a hole in a wall. And the wall is made of light -- That entirely credible yet unreal Vermeer light.
Light like this does not exist, but we wish it did. We wish the sun could make us young and beautiful, we wish our clothes could glisten and ripple against our skin, most of all, we wish that everyone we knew could be brightened simply by our looking at them, as are the maid with the letter and the soldier with the hat.
The girl at her music sits in another sort of light, the fitful overcast light of life, bu which we see ourselves and others only imperfectly, and seldom."

March Reading 22

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

I don't even know how to classify this, I guess the best way is the most fucked up love story ever. The oddest characters ever, but very well written. Catherine love's Heathcliff, Heathcliff loves Catherine, but Catherine also kinda loves Edgar. Heathcliff marrys Isabella, Catherine dies while giving birth to Cathy, Heathcliff still love's Catherine and hate's Edgar, Isabella dies, Heathcliff gain's a Son, Linton. Cathy loves Linton, Heathcliff hate's Linton and Cathy, Heathcliff forces Linton and Cathy to get married, Linton Dies, Edgar dies, Cathy hates everything, Heathcliff hates everything that isn't the idea of Catherine, shit goes down, Cathy hates Hearton, Cathy loves Hearton, Heathcliff dies, Everyone lives happily ever after?

Story ***
Structure ****

When the King Took Flight

A historical account of King Louis XVI flight from Paris till he was captured in Varanna and brought back to Paris. The decisions of the National Assembly, How the Parisians and people in the country felt of the Kings flight, ending of course with the death of everyone. Not exactly light reading, but interesting.

Content ***
Structure **

Febuary Reading 2/2

North and South
Elizabeth Gaskell

So, think Pride and Prejudice, but with a lot of death, unlikeable characters, and a kind Mr. Darcy. Margret Hale is uptight, self important and beyond unlikeable. It take's her parents, God-father, and several friends dying to make her even mildly tolerable. Not a good pair with Pride and Prejudice. End's as one would expect, with a pissed off want to be lover, and Margret and Thornton together for the last half a page. The rest of the characters are irritatingly shallow, unable to think for themselves, or are so involved with themselves that they don't see the big picture. Not a favorite
Story: **

Febuary Reading 1/2

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

I am seriously amazed at how much i loved this novel. Like seriously, one of the best things I've read in long time. The first time since To Kill a Mockingbird that i really enjoyed something i was assigned to read. I guess there isn't much more for me to say on the matter, because everyone else has already read it.
Structure ***
Story ****

January Reading 2/2

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sadaris

As the world probably knows, i am not a fan of memoirs, self help books and various other forms of non fiction, but Sadaris is the exception to my rule. A pleasant read, The majority of the stores are broken down enough that you can comfortably read them in a short sitting. All but the last, and my personal favorite Smoking Section. I always find addictions fascinating, and the way Sadaris writes of the start and finish of his weezing life is hilarious and heart felt. On a side note: Antique houses, bad art, and going to Tokyo to quit smoking. All fantastic in my mind.
Sarah's Rating: Structure: A
Story: A-

Animal Farm, George Orwell

Not going to go into long description's for a short classic. Animals represent Stalinist Russia. A very quick and interesting read. I must say that the Russian History class i took has made for some interesting insight into a lot of things, but especially this.
Sarah's Rating: Structure: A
Story: B+

The Project

Picture this: January 2009, I decide that I need some plausable New Years resolutions. One of them being to read 2 books a month for the year and review them in my LiveJournal. As the year progressed so did the amount I read. I've already surpassed my goal of 24 total books this year, but that isn't going to stop me from seeing how far I
can take this.

This blog is dedicated to what I am currently reading, the books I have read in the past, and most importantly the reviews of each of the books.