Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Pages: 309
Rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis (from back of book):
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

I don't really know what to say about this book other than I really enjoyed it. I read it in one day. Not only because it is in general a quick read, but because I was really interested in Christopher's tale and how his mind worked.

I really like how Haddon tried to write in Christopher's voice. You get the impression that Christopher's thoughts are scattered but Haddon was able to keep them in order enough to make the book enjoyable and easy to follow.

I enjoyed all the characters. And as able to related to Christopher on some levels.

The only issue that I had was that the book is set in England and some of the slang terms are unfamiliar to me.

But otherwise highly recommended

Other Reviews:
Hello, My Name Is Alice

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Nappily Married: A Novel by Trisha R. Thomas

Pages: 309
Rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: African American Fiction

Synopsis (
Thomas's nicely-turned sequel to Nappily Ever After opens with Venus Johnston at a beauty salon, throwing around hundred dollar bills and requesting that her natural hair be straightened immediately. It's Venus's desperate reaction to catching her rich, handsome husband, ex-rapper and successful businessman Jake, in flagrante with his assistant. But Venus blames herself, and soon tells the other salon patrons the backstory. Despite a full life with Jake and daughter Mya (whom Jake accepts as his despite unclear paternity) Venus takes a public relations job at a troubled community hospital, which eats up her time and puts her in daily contact with ex-lover Dr. Clint Fairchild. What follows are enough misunderstandings for a daytime soap, and Thomas keeps the action flowing with short chapters, well-orchestrated subplots, steamy sex and root-forable characters.

If you read the first two books in the "Nappily Series" than you will enjoy this book. It is better than the second and almost as good as the first.

I had some problems with the second book is this series but I am happy to say that Thomas as resolved most of them. She has gone back to letting the reader have glimpse into other characters point of views. Venus is a much more realistic person, her attitude has improved much in this book.

The writing style is still the same and it does grab the readers attention. The only problem that I had was that one of the storyline was obvious. Also, I was not satisfied with outcome of one of the stories major plots (I won't give it away).

Otherwise. It is a fast, enjoyable read.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Would I Lie to You?: A Novel by Trisha R. Thomas

Pages: 290
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Genre: African American Fiction

Synopsis (
Venus Johnston picks up where she left off after ending her relationship with Clint. Although she supported him while he attended medical school, he wouldn't commit to marriage. This time she's close to marriage, engaged for two years to a successful businessman, Airic, a divorced father of two adult daughters. But she's plagued by a continuing dream of being left at the altar by Clint. Venus is all set to have what she's always wanted--the perfect job and a perfect marriage--until the job takes her on assignment to L.A., and she's irresistibly drawn to her client. Jake Parson is a former rapper who has parlayed his popularity into success in the clothing-design world with a line of hip-hop fashions. Jake's appeal, her mother's bout with cancer, and her doubts about Airic's suitability throw Venus into self-reflection about the true meaning of love and marriage. Readers who enjoyed Thomas' Nappily Ever After (2000) will enjoy this sequel. Vanessa Bush

I have read the first book in the "Nappily Series" (I made up this name) and I have to say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I did the first one. The are several reasons for this.

First, one of the elements that made "Nappily Ever After" so enjoyable from me was that Thomas let the readers glimpse not only into Venus thoughts and actions but those of other essential characters. This novel is most all in Venus voice.

Secondly, in this novel Venus is more aggressive and combative. I don't remember her being that way in the first novel. It could be because if her mothers illness but her attitude is not likable.

Thirdly, the situation that Thomas created in this novel is unrealistic. What is the chance that you move to across country and meet up with your ex-boyfriends, while at the same time you are contemplating cheating on your finance with some other guy. Not believable in the least.

I disliked almost every main character is this book.

That being said. If you have read the the first one than I suggest you read the second one, if for no other reason than to read the third book in the series "Nappily Married".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Little Women by Louisa My Alcott

Pages: 643
Rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis (from Wiki):

Alcott's original work explores the overcoming of character flaws (many of the chapter titles in this first part are allusions to the allegorical concepts and places in Pilgrim's Progress). When young, the girls played Pilgrim's Progress by taking an imaginary journey through their home. As young women, they agree to continue the figurative journey, using the "guidebooks" — copies of the New Testament, described as 'that beautiful old story of the best life ever lived (chapter 1, see also chapter 19) — they receive on Christmas morning. Each of the March girls must struggle to overcome a major character flaw: Meg, vanity; Jo, a hot temper; Beth, shyness; and Amy, selfishness. The girls must work out these flaws in order to become mothers, wives, sisters and citizens.

In the course of the novel, the girls become friends with their next-door neighbor, the teenage boy Laurie, who becomes a particular friend of Jo. As well as the more serious and sadder themes outlined above, the book describes the activities of the sisters and their friend, such as creating a newspaper and picnicking, and the various scrapes that Jo and Laurie (whose given name was "Theodore") get into. The story represents family relationships and explores family life thoroughly.


I would like to first off start off by saying that I read this book before about 10 years ago and remembering laying in my bed with the covers over my head crying my eyes out. That did not happen this time, maybe because I already knew what was going to happen but it was still a very moving read.

To me "Little Women" is a classic must read. It is the story of four very different sisters growing up in wartime poverty. Alcott takes the reader through the sisters life and makes it almost believable.

Why almost, because the book is a little to goody goody for my taste. Maybe it is because of the religious tilt or the fact the some of the characters just seem so one side. Some basic human emotions are lacking sometimes.

There were also times that I skipped whole paragraphs because some of the content was unnecessary and seemed to brag the story out more. But otherwise it was a very fluid read.

Another thing that I would like to point out is that some people and library classify this as a children's books. I think that it is way to complex and emotional for children. Maybe other children almost in the teens but not for a 7 year old.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bitten by Kelly Armstrong

Pages: 436
Rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Paranormal Fiction

Synopsis (from back of book):
Elena Michaels seems like the typically strong and sexy modern woman. She lives with her architect boyfriend, writes for a popular newspaper, and works out at the gym. She's also a werewolf.

Elena has done all she can to assimilate to the human world, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves. Elena must reckon with who, and what, she is is this passionate, page-turning novel.

I would first like to say that I would not call myself a paranormal reader. I have only read two other books, that I can remember, that I would categorize as paranormal. "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer and "Minion" by LA Banks, both of which are series books. I didn't enjoy "Twilight" that much, maybe because of the hype or that it is targeted to teens, and I felt that "Minion" started off too slow. That being said, I don't normally seek out paranormal books. I don't know how I came across "Bitten" but I am happy that I did.

What made this book so enjoyable to me was not the werewolf element. It was Elena, she made the story interesting. I liked how Armstrong wrote the book in first person. It made it easier for me to connect with Elena and the conflict she felt between her human life and her werewolf life. While at times I hate some of her decisions, Armstrong made it clear that werewolf emotions are sometimes different than human emotions.

The one major problem that I had with the books was climax of the major conflict in the book fell short. Armstrong spend so much time in the book describing and plotting the danger that Elena and the "Pack" faced but when it came time to solve it, the scene seemed a little forced and disappointing.

I have signed up for the Series Challenge in 2009. I might add this Series to the list, I have to see how may plans go. But I would recommend this book to paranormal readers or people interested in trying out the genre.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Pages: 110
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Synopsis (From the Back Cover):
Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is the story of Esperanza Condero, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. For Esperanza, Mango Street is a desolate landscape of concrete and run-down tenements, where she discovers the hard realities of life - the fetters of class and gender, the specter of racial enmity, the mysteries of sexuality and more. Capturing her thoughts and emotions in poems and stories, Esperanza is able to rise above hopelessness, and create for herself "a house all my own... quiet as snow, a space for myself to go," in the midst of her oppressive surroundings.

I like the synopsis better in than the book. The synopsis makes you think that you are about to go on an incredible journey though on girls coming of age in Chicago. Technically you do, but in bits and pieces, very short pieces. The pieces are so short that they could be an entry in a diary or an outline of a long story. The details are scares and make the book less enjoyable (IMO).

I found the style of the story made it hard for me to connect with any of the characters, including Esperanza the narrator. There was the possibility to make great detailed characters and get the reader full engaged in the community in which Esperanza lived. But that did not happen.

Overall, I was very disappointed.

Sunday Salon: 12/14/2008

Well today was pretty uneventful for me. I was able to do some reading thanks to a 6 hour plane ride from Miami to San Francisco. I did not do as much reading as I hoped to do but I did make progress. I was able to finish "A House on Mango Street" and put a little bent into "Little Women" and read one essay in a book that I have been working on from about two years.

That's it for this Sunday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Pages: 601
Rating: 4 out 5

Synopsis (from
Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicably of love; and the murderous consequences of love's absence.

I was pleasantly surprise by "East of Eden" having been tortured in high school by another one of John Steinbeck's works "The Grapes of Wrath". In my mind "East of Eden" is a much better book that the "The Grapes of Wrath" reading it did not feel like torture and I did not fall asleep once while reading it.

This is not a plot driven story. There is no huge climax or elaborate conflict that needs to be overcome. It is all about the characters. The characters are all wonderful and mulit-faceted. Steinbeck really thought them all out well and it worked. They kept the story moving forward and kept me interested in it. In "East of Eden" Steinbeck shows the best of people and the worse of people. There are dreamers, romantics,physcos, the hole nine yards. I think it is an excellent example of a character driven novel.

There is a lot of imagery and sometimes in seemed unnecessary and heavy handed. But Steinbeck did want to write a novel about Salinas, so to him it was important. Not so much so for me, because I could envision easily a dusty western back drop.

It was really hard for me to rate this book. It was not a page turner for me. I could (and did) put the book down for several days and pick up were I left off, very easily. While the story was engaging it was also long. So, breaks were necessary. I gave it a 4 because of how well written and planned it was. It probably would not be the first book I would recommend to a friend but if someone asked if I read it and wanted an opinion I would not hesitated to encourage them to read it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Finds (December 5, 2008)

It is Friday which is normally a good thing but not for me this week. I have finals all next week so at some point today, I am going to head off to school and lock myself up in the library for a few hours.

But enough about me and my troubles. This week I have only two finds to bring you. I found more than two books, but as I said before I am on TBR pile maintenance mode. If I don't check it it will get even more out of control than it is.

The first book comes from Shelfari. One of my favorite reviewers over on that site (Zawadi) has recommended the book"Unwind" by Neal Shusterman. It sounds really intriguing. I don't know when I will get the time to read it. But I am going to put it on the list.

The second book is courtesy of Becky's Book Reviews, "
The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez" by Alan Lawrence Sitomer. This one also a young adult title. I don't have that main of them on my TBR list so it is nice to find reviews that are well written and catch my interest.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

5 of Favorites: Booking Through Thursday

Today's Booking Through Thursday Questions Are:

1. Do you have a favorite author?

I don't think that I have a favorite author. But if I had to make a choice I would say Paulo Coelho. I read "The Alchemist" and feel in love with his work.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

I have not read all his books. I have read two of them ("The Alchemist" and "By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept) and have a third one that I have hope to finish this month ("The Witch of Portobello")

3. Did you LIKE everything?

No, I didn't like both of the books that I read. "By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept" was a little odd of me. I really didn't like it that much.

4. How about a least favorite author?

I am going to have to say Stephenie Meyer. I really don't care for her. I don't know if it is because she is over hyped or what. I tried to read her adult book "The Host" and couldn't finish it. She goes on and on.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

Tananarive Due. I really want to like her work but I just can't. I have tried two of her works, "Joplin's Ghost" (which I blogged about) and "My Soul To Keep"(which I didn't finish and plan to re-read")

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Plans

So, my last final is on December 11th (laughs excitedly) and I can't wait. I am going back to California for about a month. I do plan to work while there but since I won't have to study and I'll have to share a computer I think I'll have a lot of time on my hands to read. So, I have complied a big list of books for this month.

I plan to finish East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

I plan to read:

Little Women (GoodReads group read)
Would I Lie To You?
Nappily Married
Guns, Germs and Steel (Shelfari Play Book Tag read)
Sapphire's Grave
The Warmest December
The Witch of Portobello
Songs Yet Song
The House on Mango Street
Lovely Bones or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (depends on library)

So, that is a total of 11 books for December. That would be a record. I think that I am going to have to read two books at a time. Luckily my flight is like 6 hours long, so I could probably finish one of the smaller ones on the way home.

Mailbox Monday: (12/01/2008)

I am happy to report that this week has been a very busy week for me with the number of books coming in to my bookshelf. I have gotten books from three places this week library, online shop, and a contest. On to the list.

From the library I got books that I will start reading in January for the challenges that I committed to. I picked up:

The Catcher In The Rye by JDSalinger
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Awakening by LA Banks

From Colors Online (a Shelfari Group). I won The House on Mango Street:

From BookCloseouts, I brought:
Not Without Laughter
The Polished Hoe
The Fifth Vial
Ain't Gonna Be The Same Fool Twice
I Left My Back Door Open
Zulu Heart
The Blacker the Berry...
Flyy Girl
Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain

Overall it was a busy week. 14 total books in.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Nov. 29, 2008

I am still reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I am really enjoying this book and when I take the time out to read it goes pretty fast. I was hoping to be done with it by Monday so that I can return it to the girl that lent it to me on Tuesday. But that does not look like it is going to happen.

I will say that Steinbeck is really good at the details. I can see everything that he is talking about. I don't like all the characters but they are very well thought out and portrayed in the story. It is good so far and even though I am not even halfway done it is a book that I would recommend. It is not one of those that I would call a page turner, but still good never the less.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Finds: (Nov. 28)

This Friday I decided to pick two books. Once a much anticipated almost sequel and an another a Christmas read. One to the books.

The first book is Midnight: A Gangster Love Story by Sister Soulja. For those of you not familiar with Sister Soulja, she is the author of The Coldest Winter Ever. A book that I personally thought was great and have heard nothing but good things about from others who have read it. Back to Midnight. I haven't heard anything good about this book, in fact all the reviews that I have read have been bad. But I am going to try my luck and see. Why, because I anticipated when I first heard that Sister Soulja was coming out with Midnight story that this book would not live up to The Coldest Winter Ever that this book would be a let down and I just want to prove myself right.

The next book, I found at From My Bookshelf and a couple of the other bookish blogs that I read. It is Santa Responds: He's Had Enough...and He's Writing Back! by Santa Claus. Every review that I have read about this book is positive. And since it is the holiday season, why not? I could use some humor especially from jolly old Saint Nick.

Until Next Time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mailbox Monday (11/24/2008)

This is my first Mailbox Monday. I do not order books that much. I normally get all my books from my local library.

But I do subscribe to I don't plan to keep this subscription for much longer that I now have moved to an area with a decent library.

Today in the mail I got two books in a series by Trisha R. Thomas. I have already read the first book Nappily Ever After: A Novel. Booksfree sent me the next two books in the set.

I really like Nappily Ever After so I am hoping these two are good. I am expecting about 9 books in the mail. Hopefully I will get them before Christmas break, since I am going home to California for about 4 weeks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Sunday Salon: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This Sunday I set aside about an hour and a half to read some of John Steinbeck's "East of Eden. A classmate actually recommended this book to me, after she saw how much I read. She was even nice enough to lend me her couple.

I did not realize that it was such a long book (600 pages). But that is okay, I have read longer books. Even after reading for 90 minutes I have not even but a decent dent in this book, I am only on about page 55. I would like to read more today but I have a paper that is due Monday afternoon and a test on Tuesday. The life of a graduate student, so entertaining.

Sort of, off topic. Yesterday afternoon I went to see "Twilight" the movie. I read the book early this year (it was okay), and was not excited in seeing the movie but my roommate is a fan and was going and I haven't been to the movies in forever so I went. Luckily, I did not have high expectations so I was not disappointed. Personally, I thought the movie sucked (or should I say wasn't for me). It was long (2 hours) and slow (which made it seem longer). The dialogue was awkward and so were some of the scenes. It felt to me that the director was trying to feel time with long, weird camera angles that had nothing to do with the movie. But on a positive note the scenery of the little town was lovely.

That is it for now.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Synopsis (Inside cover):

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman's noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder. . . .

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?

But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.

And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand. . .


I heard about "Heat-Shaped Box" when it first came out and really wanted to read it. But when I went to the library or the box store I could never remember either the name of the book or the author. So, while browsing the library for something to read I am happy that I saw this book and remembered that I been wanting to read it for a long time.

I was not disappointed. "Heart-Shaped Box" was an very entertaining story. It was not bloody, or as violent filled as it could have been. And for that I am happy. It is not that scary either, I had no problem going to sleep after I put it down at night. But it is an entertaining, thrilling story about a ghost out for revenge.

I didn't really care for the characters in the book all that much. But I think that has more to do with the type of story it is rather than the authors ability. I don't fill as connected to characters in ghost (or horror) stories as much as I do with more real life fiction.

I liked Hill's writing style, the way that he was able to transition from the third person narrator to the character's (Judas) thoughts. I also like how Hill closed the story. There were no loose ends. It wrapped it all up and there was no guessing about what happened to all the various characters at the end.