Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Finds: March 20th

I love Friday Finds. It is one of the only times that I allow myself to add new books to my TBR pile. That means that I have a lot of book reviews stared in my Google Reader. The good thing about that is that I can go back and read the review again and see if I really want to add it to my TBR pile. I have selected four books from my Google Reader for this Friday's Finds.

Janeology by Karen Harrington was reviewed at Devourer of Books back on December 8, 2008. The review caught my attention when I first read it in 2008 and when I went back to read it again. I still was interested.

Synopsis (From Google Books):
Jane, a loving mother of two, has drowned her toddler son and is charged with his murder in this powerful examination of love, loss, and family legacy. When a prosecutor decides Jane's husband Tom is partially to blame for the death and charges him with "failure to protect," Tom's attorney proposes a radical defense. He plans to create reasonable doubt about his client's alleged guilt by showing that Jane's genealogy is the cause of her violence, and that she inherited her latent violence in the same way she might inherit a talent for music or a predisposition to disease. He argues that no one could predict or prevent the tragedy, and that Tom cannot be held responsible. With the help of a woman gifted with the power of retrocognition—the ability to see past events through objects once owned by the deceased—the defense theory of dark biology takes form. An unforgettable journey through the troubled minds and souls of Jane's ancestors, spanning decades and continents, this debut novel deftly illustrates the ways nature and nurture weave the fabric of one woman's life, and renders a portrait of one man left in its tragic wake.
I stumbled upon The Missing by Sarah Langan over at Bibliolatry on Januaray 8, 2009. The nail in the coffin for me on this books was not only the fact the premes of the book. But the blog owners excitment to read more books by this author.

Synposis (From Google Books):

A remote and affluent Maine community, Corpus Christi was untouched by the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the neighboring blue-collar town of Bedford. But all that will change in a heartbeat . . .

The nightmare is awakened when third-grade schoolteacher Lois Larkin takes the children on a field trip to Bedford. There in the abandoned woods, a small, cruel boy unearths an ancient horror—a contagious plague that transforms its victims into something violent, hungry . . . and inhuman.

The long, dark night is just beginning. And all hope must die as the contagion feeds—for the malevolence will not rest until it has devoured every living soul in Corpus Christi . . . and beyond.

From February 8, 2009 I found The Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston at TheHappyNappyBookseller. This book is geared to readers aged 10 and up but the concept and review were so nice that I was very interested in reading it.

Synopsis (From Google Books):
Kayla Dean, junior feminist and future journalist, is about the break the story of a lifetime. She is auditioning for the Lady Lions dance team to prove they discriminate against the not-so-well endowed. But when she makes the team, her best friend and fellow feminist, Rosalie, is not happy.

Now a Lady Lion, Kayla is transformed from bushy-haired fashion victim to glammed-up dance diva. But does looking good and having fun mean turning her back on the cause? Can you be a strong woman and still wear really cute shoes? Soon Kayla is forced to challenge her views, coming to terms with who she is and what girl power really means.

Narrated with sharp language and just the right amount of attitude, The Kayla Chronicles is the story of a girl's struggle for self-identity despite pressure from family, friends and her own conscience. Kayla's story is snappy, fun and inspiring, sure to appeal to anyone who's every questioned who they really are.
Apparently there was not a book review that caught my attention on March 8, 2009. So, Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead is from March 6, 2009. This book was reveiwed at Sew Transformed. I think what really caught me on this book was the comparion between Sag Harbor and The Catcher in the Rye.

Synopsis (From Google Books):
The time is 1985. Benji, the son of a lawyer and a doctor, is one of the only black kids at an elite prep school in Manhattan. He spends his falls and winters going to roller-disco bar mitzvahs and trying desperately to find a social group that will accept him.

But every summer, Benji and his brother, Reggie, escape to the East End of Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals has built a world of its own. Except Benji is just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates during the school year. He's hopelessly one step behind on every new dance, and his fantasies of hooking up are no match for his own awkwardness, not to mention his braces, his horrid father-cut Afro, or his secret Lite FM addiction.

In this deeply affectionate and fiercely funny coming-of-age novel, Colson Whitehead--using the perpetual mortification of teenage existence and the desperate quest for reinvention--beautifully explores racial and class identity, illustrating the complex rhythms of the adult world.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Worst "Best" Book: Booking Through Thursday.

Booking Through Thursday asks:

How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

The "worst 'best' book" that I have ever read (at least that I can remember) has to be "Frankenstein". I just could not finish it. The writing was so heavy. I know that Shelley wrote the book in a style and manner that was popular for her time but so me it was just too much. It was like trying to learn new words for the SATs. I had to stop reading it.

But as a good note, Learn Out Loud, has a great summary of the book. It is really cool because they have a reader who reads important passages of the story that give you most of the basic information that is needed. It is read in the writers actual words so the style doesn't really change. I really felt after listening to the 22 minute audio that I had read the book myself. I even felt that I should go back and read it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Journey Home: A Novel by Olaf Olafsson

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Pages: 297
Genre: Fiction
Series: No
Publication Date: 2001

Synopsis (From Back of Book):
For years Disa Jonsdottir has lived in the English countryside, managing an inn with her companion, Anthony. Compelled by the demands of time to revisit the village of her childhood, she departs England for her native Iceland. Along the way memories surface - of the silence that grew to mark her relationship with her mother, of the disturbing fate of her German-Jewish lover, of the deeply conflicted feelings surrounding the pivotal encounter she had while working as a cook in a wealthy household.

When I first started "The Journey Home" I thought that this might end up falling under my 20% Rule. But since I just had abandoned Frankenstein and felt guilty about stopping another book. I pushed forward and was rewarded for my effort.

The novel is told in first person style. The main character Disa, kind of reminds me of the butler from "Remains of The Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro. Both of the characters are very proper and English (except that Disa is really Icelandic). The other similarity is that the stories take place in roughly the same time period. Spanning the beginning of WWII and its after math. I wanted to like Disa's character, but just like the butler (I can't remember his name) in "Remains of The Day" they were both to detached for me to really like or care about.

"The Journey Home" is also written in vinaigrette style, sort of like "The House on Mango Street" but Olafsson pulls it off much better. The littler vinaigrette's are like diary entries and lets the reader not only into parts of Disa's current and pass life but also her thought process. Once I got use to how dry her personality was the reading became easier. The only problem that I had with the writing is that there is a lot of back and forth between pass and present. There was never a clear indication when Disa was reflecting on her past. So, I had to pay close attention to the details to see what time frame she was talking about.

The story really picks up when Disa starts her journey back to Iceland and starts to reflect on her pass experiencing and how they all ended up interconnected to one another. I began to look forward to her when she talked about her time with Jakob (the German-Jew lover) and even though I knew what happens to Jakob, I wanted to know how Disa would deal with the final outcome.

I also like how Olafsson put little "clues" to what happened in Disa's past in the story. There are times that you know what the final outcome is going to be, like with Jakob and what happens at the employer's house, but when you get to those moments its nice to finally get a little detail to the whole event.

Olafsson has this great way of ending each little chapter with great sentences. that really got to me. I ended up looking forward to them. They were great little closing to each chapter. For example.

Lonely notes drifting through the emptiness, futile - completely futile.

I took a long time descending the stairs.

I reach for my photo of him.
The lines are so simple but say so much. All the writing in the book is like that, simple yet elegant.

I was only going to give this novel about 3 stars (or 3.5) What pushed this book over the top for me was the last about 50 pages or so. I couldn't put it down. And I almost cried and anything that makes me cry (and not because the book is just that bad) deserves a nice rating.

Pros: Writing, Plot, Style
Cons: Slow at First, Detached Main Character

Overall Recommendation:

I am going to recommend this book. I think that people who enjoyed "Remains of the Day" will really like this one. But expect it to be sort of slow in the beginning and stick to it. You will be rewarded.

Library Challenge (7 out of 25)
Round The World Challenge (3 out of 18)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

Pages: 211
Genre: Fiction (Classic)
Publication Date: 1818

Why I Quit:

Basically, it is so wordy and I did not have a dictionary handy. Shelley uses a lot of words to describe the simplest concept and it just got on my nerves. Every three pages or so, I just had to sit the book aside and breath. It was a lot to take in and I just wanted her to get to the point. This was not required reading in high school and for that I am extremely happy.

Pages Completed: 44

SideNote: This book qualified for two challenges (1% Well Read and TBR). I will choose two books to replace it, one from each challenge.

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Hunted by LA Banks

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Pages: 493
Genre: Paranormal (Urban Fantasy)
Series: Vampire Huntress Legend Book 3
Publication Date: 2004

Synopsis (From Google Books):
Each millennium brings a new Neteru, a vampire huntress whose mission is to vanquish evil from the world. This millennium's savior has come in the form of Damali Richards, a hip-hop diva with the heart of a warrior and an attitude to match. But a war in Hell has cost Damali both her powers and her past love, Carlos Rivera. Still, Damali can't let her grief stand in her way. Several gruesome deaths, starting with an American research team, have come to Damali's attention in Brazil. The nature of the deaths leads Damali to believe that the killer is anything but human...

Unknown to Damali, the life of Master Vampire Carlos Rivera was saved by a most unlikely group: a band of monks also dedicated to fighting the Dark Realm. In exchange, they want Carlos to help stop the inhuman murders plaguing Brazil-and they will use Damali as bait if they have to. Reunited, Damali and Carlos give in to the erotic passion they have fought for so long. Together, they are a powerful force. But Damali has made a terrifying enemy who won't rest until the beautiful Neteru is dead...


In January I reviewed the second book in the Vampire Huntress Legend, "The Awakening". In that book, I give a little background information about what the series is all about. So, if you are unfamiliar with the series please check out that post.

I am a total fan of this series. When I got the book from the library I was really excited. I was actually kind of made that "New Moon" by Stephenie Meyers was standing in my way of reading a more adult vampire romance story.

What I really enjoy about Banks writing in this series is that she gives you a little more information on the background of the characters and their history with each book. As the story moves along the rules of the vampire world are reveled and shows how much thought that she put into this series. One of the main problems that I had with "New Moon" was that the characters (particularly Bella) were not growing and developing. I don't have that problem with this series. In "The Hunted" the main character Damali continues to not only grow as a person but her skills as a vampire hunter continue to improve. I also like watching her relationship with Carlos develops and grow.

Unfortunately, Banks still has not still has a problem with language in this book. The slang that she uses seems a little forced to me and outdated. I have gotten use to it, so it is not a major issue with me now but it still bothers me. Another problem with this story is that the characters end up in Brazil and she doesn't make the switch. What I mean, is that all the Brazilian characters use the American slang terms and now the actions (fist pound which is also outdated unless you are Obama or older). It takes away from the feel that the characters are in a foreign place. Everyone they meet also somehow seems to know English (that could be because they are all for the most part paranormal creatures) not very believable (Yes, I know it is a vampire story).

Pros: Character Development, Drama
Cons: Language

Overall Recommendation:

If you read the Twilight series and want something more grown up this might be for you. I suggest reading the first two books first. But be warned this is an adult book and the slang takes some getting use to.

Preview: Click Here

Library Challenge (6 out of 25)
Series Challenge (4 out of 15)
TBR Challenge (7 out of 12)

Other Stuff:

Is anyone else having a problem with seeing the bold items when they look on the site from the blogger? I am and it is making me mad. I know the font is working because it shows up in Google Reader (yes, I subscribe to my own site) and when I sort the post. But not from the regular homepage.

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Teaser Tuesdays: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    Please avoid spoilers!
My Two Teasers:

"You propose," replied I, "to fly from the habitations of man, to dwell in those wilds where the beast of the field will be your only companions. How can you, who long for the love and sympathy of man, presevere in this exile" pg. 140

Monday, March 2, 2009

BBC Book Meme - 21

I saw this over at Lost In A Good Story. I thought it would be cool to play along and see how many I have read. I have read 21 of the books and have several on my TBR pile.

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here... I'd bet some of us book bloggers can prove them wrong! ;-)

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italisize books that are on your TBR pile (my add in)
3) Tally your total at the bottom.
4) Put in a note with your total in the subject

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tart
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total Read: 21
Total on TBR Pile: 8

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Sunday Salon: February Wrap Up and March Plans

This Sunday will be an update to the Challenges that I have entered for the year. February was a bad month reading wise. I only completed 3 books. I will need to read tons during this spring break in order to catch up.

Rank (the one I liked best is listed first):
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

March planned reading (12 books total):
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Carryover from February)
The Journey Home by Olaf Olafsson
(Carryover from February)
The Gathering by Anne Enright (Carryover from February)
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Carryover from February)
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
The Haunted by LA Banks
When Chicken Heads Come to Roast by Joan Morgan
Rebecca by Daphne Du Mauier
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Still in Progress (2009):
Round The World Passage: Completed 2 out of 18 Books (11%)
Through The Decades: Completed 4 out of 9 Books (44%)
The Pulitzer Project: Completed 2 out of 5* Books (40%)
1% Well Read: Completed 3 out of 12 Books (25%)
Serial Reader Challenge: Completed 3 out of 15 Books (20%)
TBR Challenge: Completed 6 out of 12 Books (50%)
Library Challenge: Completed 5 out of 25 Books (20%)

The Pulitzer Project is a perpetual challenge to read all 81 of the Pulitzer Prize wining fiction books. I have set a goal to read only 5 this year.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (compared to other books in series)
Pages: 563
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)
Series: Twilight
Publication Date: 2006

Synopsis (From Inside Cover):

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning...


I would first like to start out by saying that I am not a Twilight fan. I am only reading this book a) to finish the series, b) because I am slightly interested to know if Bella becomes a vampire and c) because my roommate is a fan and ever now and than will talk about the book and have to stop because I haven't completed the series. Now on to the review.

When it come to Meyer's writing I follow the Stephen King school of thought. She is just not that good, in fact she is quite horrible. Meyer has a tendency to repeat herself over and over again. It's like beating a dead horse. I get it already, Edward is beautiful, your feelings are hurt. Can we move on now? Meyer also puts to many details in awkward places in the story. Towards the end of the story (the climax) she put in all these details that just slowed it down and dragged it out. I even skipped paragraphs and did not miss a thing. She also did this in "Twilight" but she has gotten slightly better in "New Moon"

I have a serious issue with some of the characters in the story. Mainly Bella. I have never seen a weaker female character. I don't read many young adult books but I hope this is not the trend. Bella does not need a boyfriend she needs a shrink. I have never seen some many psychological problems portrayed in one character that was "normal". Here is the list that I can up with
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Panic Attacks (Anxiety)
  • Uncoordinated
  • Emotional Dependent
  • Emotional Underdeveloped
  • Disregard for Personal Safety
Now if she had just one or two of these problems than I might consider her "normal" but anyone who has that many issues needs professional help. I had this talk with my roommate and she stated that Bella was the quintessential 15 year old girl. There in lies the problem. Bella is not 15, she is 18. And I don't believe that 15 year old girls have that many problems. Some of them, yes all of them no. And if they do not to the extent that Bella does. The only good quality that Meyer's gives her is that she is smart. But she lacks common sense. So, what good is book smarts? There was no growth in Bella's character's between the beginning of "Twilight" and the end of "New Moon" and that is disappointing.

I did enjoy Jacob's character. Mostly because his character seemed to grow and develop a little more than the other characters in the story. I like him much better that Edward. He seemed more believable to me. When I read "Twilight" for the first time Edward came off as stalkerish to me and the view hasn't changed. But Jacob's character seems to have a more normal reaction to Bella. He likes hers, wants to be with her, and protect her. But he his behavior is more "normal" when compared to Edwards.

When my roommate first described this book to me she said that this book contains a lot of waiting for stuff to happen. After I read it, I figured out that waiting for stuff to happen meant waiting for Edwards reappearance. I didn't miss Edward at all. I think the part of the story were he was missing flowed better and was more entertaining (minus Bella's melodramatic rambling about her broken heart). When he finally reappeared I wish he would leave again. I got tired of hearing about his beauty and how she cared more for him than she did for herself (another reason that she needs a shrink).

Pros: Jacob
Cons: Writing, Characters, Pace

Overall Recommendation:

Only read it if you have read "Twilight" and want to finish the whole series.

Library Challenge (5 Books out of 25)
Series Challenge (3 Books out of 15)
TBR Challenge (6 Books out of 12)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.