Friday, April 30, 2010

April in Review

Near the end of the month I start to see a lot of (MONTH) IN REVIEW posts. I usually like to read other peoples but rarely think of doing them myself. Mostly because several of the ones I see are posted hastily on LiveJournal and lack substance. However I was reading through Lily's Bookshelf today and I like her system, so in an attempt to put off homework and organize my thoughts I bring you Aprils in Review

Books Read:
Remarkable Creatures by Chevalier (review)
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories  by Garner (review)
The Seduction of Water by Goodman (review)
A Vintage Affair by Wolff (review)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Larsson (review)
The Heights by Hedges (review)
Total Number of Books Read: 6
Most Anticipated: The Heights, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Biggest Let Down: The Heights, Remarkable Creatures
Favorite Read: A Vintage Affair, The Seduction of Water, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories
Highest Rank: 5/5
Lowest Rank: 2/5
Overall Reflection:
My spring break was at the end of March and I remember being in a reading frenzy for those two weeks. When I got back to school at the beginning of April I was restless and couldn't settle on anything.  I started Nausea, Lolita, The Book of Dead Languages, Jane Erye and rarely got more than a dozen or so pages in. I'd ordered Remarkable Creatures, The Constant Princess, The Book of Dead Languages and The Phsyicks Book of Deliverance Dane online, but they came in  about 3 weeks after I ordered them.

 The first of that lot to come in was Remarkable Creatures.  I've been a Tracy Chevalier fan since I became a book fanatic when I was 12. I wasn't really looking forward to matter but knew sooner or later I would end up reading it.  I write all of this because while I was reading Remarkable Creatures I had an interesting conversation with my roommate. It turns out we read very different ways. For me, if I find a book I absolutely love (Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Unbearable Lightness of Being) I go on an author marathon, reading everything they've written that I can get my hands on. Often times this leads to some dud's (Remarkable Creatures and the Queens Fool being some on my list) by I've also found other favorites through this system, and I while on these marathons I read quicker, falling into the authors writing style early in the first book and letting it carry me through the 3- 7 i'll read.  My roommate is different. She thinks my method is crazy. For her to read something It must be well reviewed and of interest to her. For her the author isn't very important unless they're J.K. Rowling or Mark Twain. I just thought it was interesting how opposed our views could be. 

Overall this month was a very productive one, reading wise. I didn't really love much. I have found memories of several books but remember being annoyed and frustrated while reading them. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the best example of this. It's a sad month when i've read nothing that will ever go into a reread pile, but I guess we need to have off months to really appreciate the good ones.


Last April Hop!

Hi all fellow Hoppers. Thanks for stopping by!

For those of you who don't know, the Hop is blog event happening on Friday to spread the book blogging love. You can find the list of blogs and all other information at Crazy-For-Books. Happy Friday and Enjoy the Hop!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Prolific Blogger Award

Having just started to actively promote my blog, I was amazed to find that Becki over at Confessions of a Bibliophile. Hers is one of my favorite blogs I have found thus far through the blog hop last week. She updates very regularly and about books I've either read and enjoyed or have wanted to read. Most recently her review of Revolutionary Road has me putting it on hold at the (not always so) lovely Harold Washington Library.
Thank you Becki!

A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive, keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content. After accepting this award, recipients are asked to pass it forward to seven other deserving blogs.

Now comes the hard part. So many of the people I follow deserve awards, but heres my 7 in no particular order.

As always wishing everyone an amazing day!


A Summer at Hogwarts

Since I have recently hit 20 followers, I  wanted to try something interactive.

First, a back story. My college offers a class on fantasy literature, and one of the sections focuses completely on Harry Potter. Even though I'm going to be a senior in the fall I was not able to get into this magical class, and instead spent several hours last week watching special features on the special edition Harry Potter DVD's.

So, now for the plan. I want to reread the series, but I was wondering if anyone else would be interested in spending the month of July reading with me. It would be similar to a book club, but seeing as most people have already read the books this would be more about rediscovering favorite characters and story-lines, finding connections where you didn't see them before and overall just loving (or hating, whatever you like) J.K. Rowlings fantasy world.

I know most of us are fast readers, and that these books are like crack, but since everyone has busy lives and other things they would also like to read I'm instituting July be Harry Potter month. Starting the 1st of July everyone participating would start reading Sorcerer's Stone, and throughout the month I will post discussion promps. By the 31st (or Harry's Birthday, for those of you nerdy like me) we will have all finished Deathly Hollows.

Just comment on this entry if your interested in participating or have any other ideas for this mini book club!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Heights

The Heights

Peter Hedges

Tim Welch is a history teacher at a private school still working on his dissertation about loss. Kate Welch is a stay at home mom who loves taking care of her children. Everything changes when they meet Anna Brody. Tim takes a year off, Kate gets a job. New feelings appear. Told from several different perspectives, but mainly Tim and Kate you get to learn what life is like in the Heights.

Hedges, who wrote both the novel and screenplay for Whats Eating Gilbert Grape as well as several other screenplays has come up with one of the most over told stories ever. It's rare for an avid reader, such as myself to think "This would be better as a movie" but it's true. The story unfolds like some mediocre character driven drama. The book itself reads like an Oscar nominee, not an Oscar winner, one of those dry dramas where everyone makes bad choices and says terrible things and people rave about it for a few weeks and then when they think about it years latery they're all like 'yeah, that was kind of terrible'.

The characters themselves are contrived, Kate is endearing in the beginning before she becomes annoying. Tim is interesting before becoming pathetic. Anna Brody is always mysterious before you realize she is about to cause to most uneventful causal event ever.

There is obviously a demographic for novels like this, and with it being only 293 pages it's a little hard to justify putting it down.  Hedges, stick to writing for the screen. Love your movies, hated this novel.

My Rating


It's Friday and, as I am learning, that means it's time for another Blog Hop! I'm looking forward to not messing this one up like I did last time and finding a ton of new and great blogs. If you're over from the Hop and want to drop in and say hi feel free to comment here (or on anything, I'm not picky).

Oh, and I know it's really early. I'm not crazy, just not tired.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Steig Larsson
(From the back cover)

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of inquiry and corruption.

Having seen copies of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or it's squeal The Girl Who Plays with Fire everywhere in the past few weeks i decided I needed to check it out. It's an intriguing set of mysteries. The books original Swedish title translated to Men Who Hate Women, and that theme is ever present through the book in the mysteries that Mikael and Lisbeth are trying to solve.

In the beginning it seems like there is far to much story to cover. There's the libel case that Blomkivist has just lost against the corporate giant Wennerstrom, there is Harriet Vanger who is dead or missing and comes from a dysfunctional family that also happens to own a large business, and there is Salander who is always distant and defiant. I'm  impressed at how Larsson connected all of these stories and made them into something worth reading. Some parts could drag, and if I had to read about how Blomkivist didn't think he could solve this case one more time I may have set the book down, never to finish.  

The Vanger family is very interesting. It's a huge family (with a small family tree in the front of the book) and everyone has secrets. I had a hard time trusting any of them throughout, not even Henrik Vanger, the lovable old man who has brought in Blomkivist. Henrik's obsessive nature makes him someone you need to watch. The fact that Blomkivist agrees to work for him shows of his trusting nature, and makes him the biggest contrast for the interdependent Salander.

That's it for my attempt at a spoiler free review. It's vague but pretty much every plot point was important in the bigger picture.

My Review

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Hop

I just discovered the Book Blogger Hop. So hi to anyone stopping by from there! I'm supper excited to go find other amazing book blogs now. Hope everyone else is enjoying the Hop as much as I am and that everyone has a great weekend.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Vintage Affair

A Vintage Affair

Isabel Wollff

Meet Phoebe Swift. She has just left her job to start a high end vintage clothing store, Village Vintage. She's in the middle of a bad break-up, her best friends death and her parents drama. With her Village Vintage taking off she is introduce to two very different but interesting love interests, meets a fascinating old woman and buys some awesome clothes.

Not being one who typically reads chick lit I am always surprised by how easy it is to get absorbed by the few good story's that exist in the genera. The characters are all pretty typical, but the Vintage shop is a nice touch and really makes the story interesting. There is an underlying World War II story that stretches throughout the novel and gives it more depth then expected. Overall it was a fun, super quick read (I read it in two days and it's 340 pages). If you're looking for the next great novel, you'll be sadly disappointed but if you're looking for a great escape for summer you're in for a good time.

My Rating

Thanks to the LibraryThing Early Review program for the book!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Seduction of the Water

The Seduction of the Water

Carol Goodman

Iris Greenfeder has a lot of almost's in her life, she's almost in an amazing relationship, almost (well, ok not almost) done with her dissertation and almost has all the knowledge she ever wants to know about her mother. While teaching English for new immigrants, indifferent art students and convicts she comes up with an assignment about Fairytales of peoples childhood. Her assignment inspires her to start writing about her mother, a famous novelist herself and sets her in motion to go back to the hotel she grew up in and find out everything there is to know about her mother and the unpublished third book of the trilogy she was writing. Along the way she falls for one of her ex students, meets up with old acquaintance and learns that there may be more interesting secrets in her mothers life than where she hid the manuscript.

Carol Goodman does an excellent job of depicting a Hotel rich in history and personality in the Hotel Equinox, where the majority of the story takes place. Her characters are rich with excellent and often quirky personalities. Iris herself often toes the line from so single minded she could end up annoying, but she always snaps back into a driven girl. Among other characters are Aidan, an ex-con with a great story and a huge heart, Aunt Sophie, who is strict but caring and Harry Kron who's Hotel chain and arts patronage saves Iris's childhood home.

The most compelling part of this story is the mixture between fairytale and real life.  The Seduction of the Water starts with a short piece Iris wrote about a Selkie story her mother used to tell her. It sets the tone for all the other often overlooked tales that are incorporated in the book, such as the Tam-Lin and the Swan Wife. Most chapters are started with and excerpt for Tirra Glynn books her mother wrote that also incorporate old world fairy tales, a new and interesting fantasy work and snip-its of her own life.

While the story does have a mystery element it doesn't play as big of a part as the romantic themes and life searching moments that can be found throughout the novel. All in all it was a quick, compelling read. Definitely worth checking out at the library or buying as a paperback.

My Rating:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories - Modern Tales for Out Life & Times

James Finn Garner

Imagine the stories of your youth. Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs. Now Imagine them told in a completely politically correct manner. These funny, short stories are perfect for lite before bed reading or while waiting for the train. My favorite happened to be The Three Little Pigs, which has the wolf, still wolf-like but also with capitalist motives. These stories are perfect for pretty much anyone, but I and a hard time finding a copy of the collection. If you're up for the search they're definitely worth your time.

My Rating

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Remarkable Creatures

Remarkable Creatures

Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures follows Mary Anning, one of the first women to discover important fossils and reserve any credit. The story centers on her fossil hunting in her home of Lyme Regis. Told from two prospectives Remarkable Creatures gives a solid portrait of 19th Century ideology as well as social practices. Elizabeth Philpot, a spinster new to Lyme shares Mary's love for fossils  and they become fast friends. The story is filled with ups and downs, social faux pas, exciting discoveries and many forms of loss.

Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) remains true to her historical roots. Her writing style is simple and clean, making for a quick read. Though the subject matter will only really interest a small amount of people, the need for respect and credit for the specimen Mary found are universal.  

While Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot are both strong women they both seem to be lacking as characters. Unlike in other Chevalier novels I had a hard time seeing this woman as anything as caricatures. Even with these character faults the novel is still enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone with any interest in fossils, but if you don't be weary, Mary and Elizabeth have nothing else on their minds.

My Rating: