Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

It feels like it's been ages since I really loved a book. You know, the kind of book that comes along once or twice a year - the one that makes it hard to tolerate any activity other than reading because you must know what happens next. This book didn't quite reach that level of love for me, but I did find myself surprisingly sucked in. More so than I have in a while.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie features an 11 year old Brit named Flavia deLuce who is pretty much completely unbelievable in her Doogie Howserness but is nonetheless charming and so smartly written that I bought into her reality anyways. She lives on a remote English estate post WWII with her sad, widowed father and two snooty older sisters. She's a solitary aspiring chemist that keeps mostly to an old science lab located in one of the far off wings of her family estate, making poisons to use on her sisters.

When a dead jack snipe with a stamp on its beak appears on her doorstop she's intrigued. But when she finds a dead body in the cucumber patch the following morning, she launches into a mini murder mystery adventure.

I really quite liked this book and think I might pick up the next "Flavia deLuce mystery" soonish.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Twenties Girl

Wow. So many embarrassing things to say - where to start? First, I paid for this book. Second, I bought it because I confused Sophie Kinsella (the author) with Marian Keyes (an old favorite chick lit author of mine). Third I continued to think I was reading a Marian Keyes book the entire time I read the book. Which lead me to frequently think things like, "Wow Marian this book is TERRIBLE! What's happened to you? I mean, This Charming Man wasn't that good, but it was a hell of a lot more entertaining than THIS!"

It wasn't until I finished the entire book (which in my defense only took 2 days) that I saw an ad for a new book in the Shopaholic series on the last page. And I was all, "Huh? Why is there an ad for Shopaholic when this book is by.... oh.... WHAT?" So yeah, I'm a bozo. But so is Sophie Kinsella because this book is about a girl who gets visited by the ghost of her great aunt Sadie and they have weird and not terribly hilarious hijinks involving finding a missing necklace that is VERY important and really?


My desire to write thoughtful and humorous reviews has (temporarily, I hope) left me. I haven't become the ultimate cliche of a new mother - I'm still reading! I just don't feel much enthusiasm for sitting down at the end of the day to write about it. Waiting was a book club pick and while I'm glad to have read it, I struggled with liking the characters and got kind of sick of the ... waiting. The book takes place in communist China and follows a guy (I can't remember his name) who lives in the big city while his wife - through an arranged marriage - lives back in their small town raising their daughter. He falls for another, more modern woman and for 18 years he visits his wife and asks for a divorce. This was a story of waiting and while a fascinating look at China in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the characters annoyed and the drawn out waiting drove me a bit bananas. Waiting has never really been my forte though.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Death in Holy Orders

A well written mystery that I think might have sequels? It's lacking a bit in believability and I thought the mystery was a tad too easy to solve before the big reveal. I like a mystery that sort of blows your mind when solved and this one didn't really do that, but I was still hooked by the twists and turns it took to get you there.

The book follows Detective Dalgleish (who I believe can be followed in many other mysteries by the same author) as he investigates the death of a young ordinand studying at a small theological college located on the edge of a cliff (which I mention mostly because I felt like the cliffs themselves became a character in the book). The murder suspects are the staff, religious students and priests at the college. More deaths ensue, and the mystery is wrapped up rather nicely at the end. It was a good read but the plot felt a little old-timey, murder she wrote style. Which made sense when I read the author profile - at the age of 80, she's apparently known as Britain's Queen of crime.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Faithful Place

Tana French fans will not be disappointed. Well. Actually, they might be a TINY bit disappointed. The story isn't quit as gripping (as her first two novels), and the mystery is a shade less creepy and well... mysterious than the first two books in this quasi-series, but it's still smart, funny and addictive.

I actually own this now, so if any of you fans out there want to borrow, let me know!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

I read this book last month and barely remember it. Naughty book blogger. What I can say is that I was impressed and disappointed by this book.

The novel follows a variety of people in the same small town, all of which are touched in one way or another - some in larger ways than others - by retired school teacher Olive Kitteridge. Each chapter introduces you to a new person and while some stories connect, most chapters can almost stand alone.

The way the author captures a voice is uncanny - I would start to get sucked in to a character, but then that particular plot line would end and another would pick up. Which was the disappointment part. The story telling was so real, and the depictions of relationships (especially marriages) so uplifting and heart breaking at the same time. But you never get any real resolution because of the book's format and for that reason, I'm not sure I can fully recommend it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Coral Thief

This was our last book club pick and it had all the ingredients of a great read. But somehow it fell short on almost all levels.

Daniel Connor is a young medical student who is on his way to Paris in 1815 (shortly after Napoleon has been exiled) to study with the top researchers at Jardin Des Plantes. Once there he realizes that his credentials and rare coral specimens that he was to present to his new supervisor have been stolen by the mysterious and beautiful woman who sat next to him on the ride into town. He gets pulled into her secret circle of thief friends, finds himself falling in love with her, and there's French police chases, mystery, and capers. Yet somehow it all.... I don't know... felt a little Snoozeville to me. Which apparently Blogger doesn't deem a real word.

I had a hard time believing the "love" between Daniel and the coral thief - who we come to know as Lucienne Bernard, I didn't find her particularly likable, I thought he was a bit boring and in the end, I had a difficult time feeling engaged in the story. There wasn't anything very specifically wrong with the book, I just never found myself dying to pick it back up. In the end, most of the book club members felt the same way so there was obviously something missing here.

All that said, I don't want to be a complete Negative Nancy so I will say that there are chapters that follow the story of exiled Napoleon and they were great. I'll confess to very little French history and this was a peek into a fascinating era that made me want to read more (about Napoleon, not more of this particular book). I also liked reading about the Paris of 1815 - the underground passages, the police, the stolen art that filled the Louvre, and the exotic animals in the Jardin located in the center of the city. I wish I'd known more about this period in history before we traveled to Paris.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apologies all around

Um. Wow. I've been supremely negligent. I've read a few books and then written absolutely nothing about them. In my defense, my life lately has been a comdram (do they make those?) I'd call "Three Weddings and an Ear Infection" so before you say anything snotty just picture me up all night with a shrieking one year old, pacing the dark street outside in my pajamas while stepping on snails in my slippers. Who knew there was a secret population of about 5 bajillion snails on our street and that they ALL come out to chill on the sidewalk at midnight? The sound of me accidentally (and unavoidably - did I mention that there are 5 bajillion of them??) stepping on one of those buggers in the quiet of the late night was a sickening crunch that was loud enough to wake the child I had finally lulled to sleep. Gross.

So anyways, I've pretty much lost my readership with my recent apathy and am starting to wonder if I should even bother keeping up this blog? If any of you care to keep reading my infrequent and whiny reviews, speak now or forever hold your peace. See? Too many weddings this summer. What I'm saying is that if you actually read this site and would like to see me continue to post book reviews here, let me know and I'll take it under advisement. But don't just say you read them to make me feel better! This is unnecessary, I promise.

In case you *do* want to see reviews, I've read Olive Kitteridge, The Coral Thief (for book club), Faithful Place (the new Tana French), and am just about finished with Death at Holy Orders.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Honet's Nest

The third and final in the Lisbeth Salander series. Boy did I love the first book in this series. Then I think I read the second one shortly after it came out, which was also shortly before I went into labor with my daughter. Which means that it's been almost a year since I read it. For those of you who haven't read this series (are there any of you?) you know that these books are complicated. And have many characters. With foreign, hard to remember names that all sound similar with their crazy umlauts and gasa-stanla-stradas. So when The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest starts off with a bang and very little recap, I was all, "Wha?"

Eventually I caught on and fell back into the groove, but I will say that the language that gave me a slight rash in the second book shifted into full gear in this book. The conversation style is just so unrealistic! I suppose something has been lost in the translation from Swedish, but it's not just the dialogue, the whole book feels a bit bullet-pointish to me. It's all, "She puts on her shoes and leaves the house. It is 4:18pm. She is wearing black slacks and a light blue sweater." And I'm all, "That's all you've got for me?" In my opinion, the beauty of these books definitely lies in the story, not the writing. And the story sucks me in EVERY TIME. I don't even know if I like any of the characters, but I can't stop reading. Oh and I'm totally going to see the movie.

The Imperfectionists

Oh you guys. I don't remember much of anything about this book anymore. I read it over a month ago for my book club and was waiting to post until after our discussion. But then I put it off so long that I actually just entirely forgot about it. The Imperfectionists was actually my book club pick, so I can't really blame anyone for the fact that it gave me a major case of the bummers. The NY Times gave it a pretty fabulous review and the book IS well written; it's smart, interesting and in many ways feels very real. Maybe too real?

Perhaps I should back up and tell you the basic plot first. The book takes place in Rome at an English language newspaper. Each chapter follows one of the employees at the paper and you get a sneak into their life for 30-50 pages. One employee finds that his girlfriend is having an affair, one sad young girl starts dating a total loser and lets him take advantage of him. Their aging stringer living in Paris can't find a story and struggles with finances and his irrelevance. It had a slight short-story feel to it, which if I'm honest I'll admit that I sort of hate short stories. It's just that I like getting sucked into a plot and I love love character development. Short stories just don't have enough space to do either of these things sufficiently for me - I'm always just about sucked in when boom. It's over. Cue disappointment. But I digress. My disappointment in this book wasn't so much about it's short storiness, as much as the crushing statement it makes about humanity. People are so annoying! And petty! And I don't know. It's probably all very true and maybe that's why I didn't like reading about it. But I'm really over focusing on that part. The truth is that the book is really well written, very articulate and a fascinating study in real people. I was worried about the book club meeting, thinking that everyone might have hated it for its sadness, but it ended up making for a very lively discussion.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Outlander Series: Fiery Cross and Breath of Snow and Ashes

I know, I know. But I can't stop! Also, my holds on both of these books came up on the same day. So then I had to hurry and read both in time to return them to the library. Only these books are gigantic. So I ended up having to renew the second one and it took me forever to read them. Also, I think I forgot to review The Imperfectionists which I read over a month ago? Is that true? If so, expect a crappy review (crappily written, not crappy feedback) shortly. ANYWAYS!

So I read The Fiery Cross (book 6)

and A Breath of Snow and Ashes (book 7) of this series and I'm still enjoying them. The thing is, Diana Gabaldon is a good writer! She weaves a fascinating tale speckled with historical fiction, romance, and mystery and it's actually very smart. Granted the last book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes started to get just the teensiest bit ridiculous, but after 5 books (each over 1000 pages) I guess Diana's starting to get creative with the plot. But the truth is that I kind of like that in just one book Jamie and Claire manage to: get hit by lightening, get kidnapped (separately), be attacked and seek bloody revenge, meet historically famous people, have their house burned down, meet time travelers, be accused of murder, and get caught up in a plot involving stolen gold and marauding pirates. It's terrible yet fantastic. That said, I think I really will take a break before reading the final book of the series. I'm a little Jamie and Claire'd out.

I'm currently half way through The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and then need to hurry and start the book for my next book club meeting - The Coral Thief.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How I Live Now

This is a young adult book that will take you a day or two to read. The book is narrated by a teenage girl who goes to England to stay with cousins and gets trapped there when a war breaks out. I'm not usually a big fan of the futuristic-type war books (Handmaid's Tale, The Road) because they freak me out a bit. I don't like putting an actual story to the scary possibility of a war in the Western World, in modern times. I suppose that's the whole point of reading books like this though - to gain perspective about those that *do* live in countries torn apart by war.

This story was slightly different as it was told through the eyes of a 15 year old girl and while there were definitely some chilling moments, it seemed more accurate and less creepy than the adult versions of this type of story. I wish I had something more articulate to say about this book (because it deserves it) but what can I say? It's 6:57am and I've already been up for an hour and a half today. And it's SATURDAY. My daughter decided that 5:30am was a fun time to wake up today and as I type this I'm watching her pull each of my books off the shelf and taste them. Her favorite so far seems to be Everything is Illuminated.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Forgotten Garden

Another book club reject that I thoroughly enjoyed. The book is about Nell, who on her 21st birthday in the 1920s, is told that her parents aren't really her parents. Her father - a dockmaster in Australia - found her on the wharf at the age of 4, all alone with a child's suitcase containing a beautiful book of children's fairy tales and little else, with no memory of her family. He and his wife took her in and raised her as their own. Nell goes in search of her true history in the 1970's but isn't able to solve the mystery entirely before her death in 2005. The story skips between three eras - the early 1900s where the truth of her mystery childhood is slowly revealed, the 1970s where we find out what Nell discovered during her personal search, and 2005 when her granddaughter Cassandra goes in search of the full story after her Nell's death.

I definitely liked the earliest story line the best - it was all secret garden and full of cool and creepy characters. Sure there were a few too many deathbed revelations/confessions than were rightly believable, and things got a little away-with-the-faeries but the book is full of mystery and intrigue and Kate Morton tells a good story.

Drums of Autumn (book 4 in the Outlander series)

Listen, I'm not proud, okay? But my hold came up at the library and I read it. And I liked it. Enough said, right?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist

This was the red headed step-child that was not picked by my book club. Instead we voted in The Imperfectionists (which we meet to discuss soon, so that review will probably wait until then). I gobbled up The Imperfectionists and now hardly remember anything to discuss for book club, and then moved on to The Lonely Polygamist.

I thought this book was funny, smart, fascinating and surprisingly touching. It mostly revolves around the story of Golden Richards, who is "living The Principal" in a polygamist community in Utah. He has four wives and 28 children and he's having a midlife crisis. He's having an affair with another woman (ironic, no?) and is still trying to get over the accidental death of one of his children. He's overwhelmed by his larger than life family and seems to have stepped into this exotic lifestyle almost by accident.

The book isn't really about the soap-style drama of having multiple wives, but it does touch on the every day inconveniences and frustrations. Many of the chapters are actually focused on some of the more introverted members of the family - for example Rusty the 11 year old "trouble maker" and Trish, "The 4th Wife", and it makes you think less about the morality of polygamy and more about what Family means and the effects of parents' choices on their children. I loved the chapters narrated by Rusty - they reminded me of how much I fell in love with Oskar in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I'm not saying that this book had the same kind of emotional impact on me, but I still got really attached to Rusty and found myself giggling (and feeling intense sympathy) at how accurately the author captured the voice of a pre-pubescent boy.

I think the book isn't out in paperback yet, but when it does get released, I definitely recommend it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Little Bee

This was the second book selected for my new book club. We all agreed that while it was a good book, it wasn't particularly enjoyable to read. Little Bee alternates narratives between Sarah, a British magazine head with a four year old boy who never takes off his Batman costume; and Little Bee, a 16 year old Nigerian refugee who has experienced many, many terrible things.

The two met on a beach (with Sarah's husband and Little Bee's sister) 2 years prior to the start of the novel. The "meeting" on the beach is referenced from the start of the book but doesn't fully reveal itself until midway through the book. They meet back up in the present day when Little Bee illegally enters England as a refugee.

I won't spoil it for you, but I will say this: This book is a major Bummer.

It reminded me that horrible things happen and filled me with privileged guilt. All of us in the book club took issue with similar things in the book - the graphic descriptions of rape and murder were a little overly horrible, it was incredibly disturbing to read, few of the characters were very likable and several elements seemed to lack either continuity or believability (It is worth saying that I definitely believe that terrible things happen in places like Nigeria (and other places as well, for that matter), it was just some of the details in this particular story that I struggled with on occasion. Which I can't call into question without major spoilers).

With all that said, it was a terribly readable book, I had a very hard time putting it down, and tore through it in about 3 days flat. I expect we'll be seeing a film made of it within the next few years.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager

You guys. Sometimes I read books that wouldn't be described as "high brow". This would be one of those times. So here's my story and I'm sticking to it:

A few years ago I finished the book Mary Queen of Scots - a true story in approximately 5 bajillion pages about ... guess who?! Yes, Mary Queen of Scots. We were on Orcas without television or other distractions so I went to the one bookstore in town and looked for a new book. The first book that struck my fancy was called Outlander. It had a simple blue cover and was described as being about Scotland in the 1700's. Having recently boarded the Scotland train, this sounded appealing.

So you can imagine my surprise when really the book is about a nurse from the 1940's, traveling in Scotland, who accidentally time travels to the 1700s, falls in love with a hot Scottish warrior and does it with him in the heather every chance she gets. Aaaand you will extra imagine my surprise when I kind of loved it. But seriously. The story is addictive in an Edward Cullen way (but featuring adults. and better writing. and real sex.) and when I finished it I learned that there was not only a sequel, but like 9 books in the series!

Flash forward a week when I'm at Barnes and Noble looking for the next book in the series. But when I can't find it in fiction, the store employee directs me to the romance section. The ROMANCE SECTION! I know, right? Too embarrassing. I turned around and left empty handed.

Okay. Flash forward again, only this time like 3 years to two weeks ago. We're on Orcas at the same book store (hi Darvills!) and I notice Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series. And who are we kidding? Something about giving birth and breastfeeding and wearing elastic waist pants for like 9 months just allows the whole concept of shame to set sail. I just don't have it in me to feel embarrassed anymore. Plus, when you're holding a cute baby while purchasing a trashy book, everyone is generally too busy cooing at your baby to notice what you're buying. Or at least this is what I tell myself.

And here's the deal. I read Dragonfly in Amber AND Voyager (the third book in the series - which incidentally has been moved to the fiction section at Barnes and Noble now and one of the employees told me it was because a dude that worked there got super into the books and made them move the series so he didn't have to admit to reading a romance novel). Also? I don't think I can stop. At least not yet. And I don't think I'm alone. Because there are like 15 holds on each and every one of the 9 books in this series at the Library.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Wow. Where to start? Should I tell you about the book club I joined? Or maybe I should actually try reviewing one of the bajillion books I've read since reviewing The Help. And by bajillion I mean 3. It's all relative, right? I mean, once you have a kid, reading *A* book is such a coup that reading 3 in one month is pretty much mind blowing. And we don't need to mention that one of them was *cough cough* munhhhhdredpgggs *cough*. What? Oh, you couldn't understand me just then? FINE! I said that one of the books was only one hundred pages! Alright? Feel better now that you've made me admit that? Well, if you think that's bad, wait til I tell you that one of the others was written by Jodi Piccoult. I know, right? No shame.

Okay, I'll get down to business and start reviewing.

Keeping Faith
Meh. I don't know. Jodi Piccoult tells a decent (if totally implausible) story. Faith is a regular 7 year-old who suddenly starts talking to God and suffering from stigmata. Her mother struggles to protect her from the mobs of "followers" she develops while she also recovers from the shock of walking in on her husband with another woman. Again. I got this book for free a while ago and it was a quick guilty pleasure read in a pinch.

Home Game

A birthday gift that was devoured in 24 hours, this book is about the joys (and not-joys) of fatherhood. In particular, the first few weeks of fatherhood. It's funny, smart and real. My only real complaint is that so often men write irreverent stories about fatherhood and play into the idea that men are incompetent in a funny sort of way but that women are heroes and innately in love with their kids even while they scream in their faces. Oh what am I saying? Women ARE heroes and men ARE bozos!

I also tried to read A Lesson Before Dying, but accidently left it at home when we took a trip to Orcas Island, so I bought another book on the island and consequently ditched ALBD. I might come back to it in time. But I need to read the book for my next book club meeting! Which is Little Bee. Have you heard of it? I think you probably have; it's only because I live in a hole called Stay At Home Mom Land that I haven't, right?

Oh! And also I read The End of the Alphabet.

Which is a sweet little book about a couple who decide to travel to a city for very letter in the alphabet (Amsterdam to Zambia) when they find that the husband only has 30 days to live. If you're someone who needs character development (as I do) to really enjoy a book, this one probably isn't for you, but it did have some redeeming qualities- thought provoking, well written, etc...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Panda Book

Edie loves this book more than anyone has ever loved anything. I present to you a photo essay of me reading her the panda book in which I wiggle my finger vigorously in the Panda finger puppet and make funny voices.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Help

SO ADDICTIVE. My Mom also loaned this book to me and I feel sort of depressed that I finished it. What will I read now? I think everyone has either read this or knows what it's about so I won't give a detailed description here. It's essentially about three women in Jackson Mississippi in the early 1960's. Two of them are African American and work as maids for white families and one is a white girl who has convinced them to help her write a book about their experiences working for white women. I really loved it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Faceless Killers

This was my attempt to recreate my love for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Swedish author? Check. Murder mystery? Check. Potential for sequels? CHECK.

It was pretty good. I'm not sure I'll rush out to buy the next one, but I'll probably read it soonish. The mystery was very perplexing and I didn't really know how it was going to end - which is important for me when it comes to mysteries. Kurt Wallander - the detective in this mystery series is complex (also important). But it wasn't quite as smart and addictive as the Dragon Tattoo series. It's like Dragon Tattoo lite.

Also - I can't make the image of this book smaller. Sorry. Blogger hates my Mac and I don't have the energy to fight it.

Deadly Errors

My Mom loaned me this book. The cover is sort of embarrassing.

It's about a brain surgeon in Seattle who discovers that the hospital's new electronic medical record system is making mistakes and causing deaths. It turns into a thriller slash mystery where the FBI asks him to investigate and lives are threatened and ... it was okay. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed it - but it wasn't particularly believable. Or believable at all actually. I did love how accurate the descriptions of Seattle were and I could picture every location described in perfect detail. And it's pretty cool that the author is an actual brain surgeon. I mean I was essentially a party planner before having my daughter and I wasn't capable of also writing a book, much less get it published. So the fact that this dude is able to save lives AND write a book? Impressed.

But the whole plot - while grounded in plausibility - became kind of ridiculous when an FBI agent blackmails the main character into risking his life (multiple times) to do his job for him. Said FBI agent also doesn't seem to care much that others who have looked into the mystery are being murdered left and right. Really? Call me an optimist, but I like to think that the FBI have my best interest in mind and wouldn't threaten me into getting killed by greedy hospital administrators while they sit back and watch.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Summer Guest

I didn't expect much of this book. It was free and the title (and cover) left much to be desired. But actually? It was quite good. I don't have much time to devote to this review, the baby needs to be put to bed and all that business, but I do want to say that this book was a pleasant surprise. It alternates narration between 4 different, related characters. Joe, the owner of a summer lodge in upstate Maine, his college-age daughter Kate, Jordan the 30 year old caretaker of the lodge, Joe's wife Lucy, and Harry Wainwright - a business mogul who has spent the last 30 years with a summer trip to the lodge and comes to stay this last summer while sick with cancer. Hmm, I think that's 5 characters. Anyways, all the characters are likable and distinct in their voice, and together the chapters weave a beautiful story.

The Lost Garden

This book sounded way more enjoyable than it really was. It takes place in England during World War II and follows Glen, a sad and single 35 year old horticulturalist who volunteers to head up a project for the "Women's Land Army". This posting takes her to rural England where she heads up an effort to grow potatoes for England on an abandoned estate. A group of Canadian soldiers is also posted nearby awaiting their dispatch to the war.

The description tempts you with the idea of a romance with a soldier and a friendship with one of the girls in the "army". But really the book is SAD and while beautifully written, it felt like I'd barely gotten started before suddenly everything was over and all the endings were anticlimactic and SAD. Did I mention that it was SAD? Well it was.

Fortune's Daughter

Hmmm.. In true form, I read this a week or two ago and can't remember anything about it now. Let me think REAL HARD. Did you hear that? It was the sound of me thinking real hard. K! I think I remember something. It's about a pregnant woman who's boyfriend is lame and an older woman who gave her baby up for adoption a long time ago. It tells both their stories separately and then they eventually come together. It's classic Alice Hoffman in that it's enjoyable and well written with a touch of magic and whimsy, but not especially amazing or memorable. I remember it being kind of a bummer and a tad melodramatic, but it was easy to sink into and a quick read.

And PS I'm posting this from the laptop and can't figure out how to shrink the image of the book so ... it's big. Sorry.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Monk Downstairs

Another freebie book. For what this book is - a very sweet little romance - it was perfect. It took me about 2 days to read and the romance is actually vaguely plausible (assuming that an ex-monk might move into your downstairs apartment) and thoughtfully written.

The characters are older than your usual romance - a single mother in her late thirties and a former monk who just left a monastery after 20 years in his early 40's who moves into her mother-in-law apartment - and their tentative interest in each other is ... I don't know... nice. I liked it.


This was a freebie book and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't the best book ever. The book follows the character of Rae, who has lost her husband and daughter in a car accident and decides to recover from her severe depression by moving to a tiny island in the San Juans owned by her family to rebuild a house that her great uncle built in the 1920's but burned down shortly after completion.

Can I be honest? I want to write a quality review for this book, but I just don't think it's going to happen. I'm sorry peoples, but I's tired. So here's the deal - the book is a little predictable but it will suck you in eventually. It's sort of a thriller because Rae has paranoid visions as part of her depression and you start to wonder if maybe her paranoia about "watchers" is true and she's all alone on a tiny island and it's a little freaky. But not freaky enough. I liked all the descriptions of the San Juans, a place Jeff and I know well and when I finished I realized that the author also wrote the Bee Keeper's Apprentice, which I remember finding totally addictive. So I don't know. 5 out of 10? 6? You get the idea.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I'm officially the worst book blogger ever. I've read like 3 books since this one and never posted about ANY of them. Sorry guys.

Possession was loaned to me by Jeff's aunt and came highly recommended. It was one of the more sophisticated books I've read in some time and I will admit to the fact that I struggled now and again with the vocabulary used. It felt a bit like a book I would have been assigned to read in college. Words like beech-mast and quondam are used with abandon (and I found both of those words by just flipping open to a random page), along with references to people like Prospero and Feuebach and wow, apparently I am le stupid because I can't remember who any of these people anymore and I don't know what any of those words mean. But here's the thing - the language is truly beautiful, it's won the Booker prize, and the romance eventually does suck you in. At the end I was totally addicted.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Fraction of The Whole

Sorry for the absence of late, but this book was LONG. Worth it... but long. I must say that I found A Fraction of the Whole to be a little bit brilliant. I find it impossible to recount the plot, but essentially it's written from the perspective of Jasper Dean who tells you his whole crazy life story as written from jail, starting actually with the whole crazy life story of his father, Martin Dean - brother to the most infamous criminal in Australia. It jumps from Australia to Thailand to Paris and takes you in and out of jail, loiters amongst criminal bands, takes you on weird mystic type adventures, at one point the characters live in a labyrinth and ... I don't know... this book is hard to describe!

I loved the book but am having a hard time thinking of who I would recommend it to. I'm not sure there are many that I know that would like it the way I did. It's wacky, absurd at times, and incredibly smart but if you don't have more than a touch of misanthropy in you, I don't think you'd enjoy it. There's quite a bit of adventure to the plot, but maybe even more philosophy - or maybe it's not really philosophy as much as weird, out-there thoughts about man, culture and other randomness. I laughed out loud frequently - the humor is dark and dry but that's one of my favorite breeds of funny.