Sunday, December 30, 2012

The American Heiress: A NovelThe American Heiress: A Novel by Daisy Goodwin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This seemed like it was probably a faithful portrait of what it was like to be an American Heiress married into English nobility. That said, I may have enjoyed it more if I hadn't believed the blurb on the cover advertising that this would be a good book for someone going through Downton Abbey withdrawal. The stories are only superficially similar and I was hoping this book would be something more like what was promised.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)Just One Day by Gayle Forman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got an uncorrected bound galley of this from the publisher. I wasn't too sure I'd enjoy it when I started reading it but it wasn't that bad. The storytelling was good but the story was nothing very original. I don't know if it grabbed my interest enough to bother with book 2, which is supposed to be told from another character's point of view.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got a free ARC of this book from, I think, Shelf Awareness. It had gotten a lot of good buzz but I wasn't really sure it would be the kind of story I liked. I started reading it yesterday at work and didn't want to put it down, I would have read it straight through but did eventually have to sleep. I really fell in love with the characters and the story and can see why it did so well in England. I hope it does equally well on this side of the pond and have already recommended it to a few of my co-workers.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)The Diviners by Libba Bray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In my experience, most YA targeted books are fun to read and entertaining but fairly wanting in substance. This book was a bit of surprise in that aspect as it was so full! Not a time period that is used much anymore, so that was fun and interesting. I loved learning all the flapper slang. I will enjoy seeing where this goes as the series progresses.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spam poetry

I just got the following in a spam email. I don't know who sent it but the guy's a poet.

"calcify rejection tomorrow Amy perplexity narration pithes raucous hockey
withstands trowels repeat. verifiable Culbertson
Moslems eyeful rubbery intimating booths"

Monday, August 13, 2012

How do I blog about reading when I spend all my time reading?!

I'm way overdue for an update. I have been posting short reviews in a much more timely fashion on goodreads. You are welcome to follow me there but please send me a message telling me this is where you found me as I don't accept a lot of friend requests from people I don't know.

I'm not going to cover everything I've read since my last post but I'll try to give you some highs and lows.

First off, there was Canada by Richard Ford. I've never read any of his work before so I was very curious about him. I love his style of narrative. It's beautiful and sweeping and grand while at the same time his story seemed so grounded. To be honest, I enjoyed his writing style more than the story itself but I liked that aspect of it so much I would still recommend him.

I really loved Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel by Carol Rifka Brunt. This book was almost like wandering into a time capsule for me since I was probably close to the same age as her main character at the time. Brunt is a wonderful storyteller and she's brought up an issue (AIDS) that doesn't seem to get much attention anymore. It really left me thinking and wondering why we've sidelined news about this disorder when it still hasn't been cured.

I forget which website I was on but I was reading someone's picks of best books of the century and I found out about Kindred by Octavia Butler. Several people recommended it and thought it was grossly overlooked as a modern classic. I agree. Just read it. Tell everyone else to read it. 'Nuff said.

Then there was The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams. I really didn't care for this. It was trying to be some sort of twist on Jack the Ripper but it was predictable and difficult to follow. It was hard to tell what was real and what was imagined in the mind of the narrator. It's an interesting idea to have a crazy narrator but this just felt like a gimmick.

12.21: A Novel by Dustin Thomason was a fast paced read and if you're interested in the notion that the world will end in December or if you like zombies, you might like this one. Neither interest me but I still got a kick out of reading this. It was a nice twist on both.

One of the better books I've read recently was Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. It's the story of an autistic boy who finds himself in a dangerous amount of trouble and it's told from the perspective of his imaginary friend. This book was wonderful!! So original and wonderfully told. Read it.

I had heard so much about The Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker, I'd really been looking forward to reading it. I devoured it in a day. Great end-of-days story. Well worth the wait.

I had heard a lot about A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness. I do like stories about witches and supernatural themes so I think I was naturally drawn to this, even though one of my co-workers struggled to finish it. Harkness does a good job of making a scene come to life. The only real problem I had with this book was that it occasionally reminded me of Twilight. It would be going along very nicely and then a passage would come up that sounded like it was being narrated by Bella Swan and my mood instantly soured. Mostly, I liked it. The set up for book 2 sounded interesting and I look forward to getting around to reading that one.

And then there was Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn. What a wonderful and messed up story. I don't usually read mysteries but I'd heard so many great things about this that my interest was piqued. Wow. Just wow.

I was suffering from a supernatural hangover from Discovery of Witches so I decided to read Advent: A Novel by James Treadwell. This doesn't happen to me very often, I couldn't finish it. I was so ridiculously bored out of my mind. I keep trudging away at it, hoping it would get better but I finally gave up when I had 100 pages left. I felt like I was torturing myself.

After that, I needed some immediate and easy relief so I picked up Changeling (Order of Darkness) by Philippa Gregory. I have liked everything else I've read by her and this was not bad either. It's her first book targeted at the Young Adult audience. It was predictable but it was still fun and imaginative.

Right now, I am reading A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) by George R. R. Martin. I'm about a third through and I really like it so far. I'm a big fan of this series. I like the way Martin isn't afraid to sacrifice really great characters in order to make the story more real and interesting.

And that brings me up to date!! I will try to post more diligently. In the mean time, feel free to follow me on

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

I've been away for a while but I've been reading a long book so it took me a few weeks. I recently finished Voyager (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon. I loved the first book, Outlander, but was not a huge fan of the second, Dragonfly in Amber, so I'd put off reading this. This was my not as good as the first but definitely better than the second. Briefly, the Outlander series is a historical romance story about a modern woman who goes back in time and falls in love with a Highland Scotsman. The stories chronicle their adventures. This book ended up taking them out to sea and dealing with pirates and Caribbean slaves during the course of trying to rescue a kidnapped relative. I really do love Gabaldon's writing and enjoyed this book but I'm used to reading a lot of different books and I found myself getting antsy from reading the same book for so long. Consequently, I'm going to be reading some books now that are a bit faster paced. (But I do recommend this book if you like the genre) :) I am currently reading City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare. I'm about 2/3 through and am enjoying the return to the original characters.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fearless by Eric Blehm, The Bloggess, and much more

So, I have a bit of catching up to do again. :) I just finished reading a book that comes out on May 22nd that was an excellent story and I think I'd recommend it to anyone: Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm. It's a biography of a man of extraordinary strength and courage who never gave up. I'm not a religious person and there's a big element of that in this story but it was not off-putting and the whole thing was just very inspirational. Adam Brown was a member of SEAL Team Six but you should not buy this book if you are only interested in the story of Osama bin Laden's killing. That is an event beyond the borders of this story. There is a great quote from Adam on page 137 (it sounded a bit familiar so he may have been quoting someone else) that I really like and I think sums up very well the way he lived his life: "The truly courageous and powerful never have to prove it. It is always shown in their actions." Then there was Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. I mainly read this book at work and was snorting with laughter so much that a bunch of my co-workers ended up ordering it just to find out what the deal was. I follow "The Bloggess" on twitter and read her blog when I see links to it and have always enjoyed reading what she has to say. She's a very entertaining storyteller and I can't wait until she writes another book. If you've ever thought that your family was strange or that you are a weirdness magnet, read this book and you will get a proper sense of perspective. I have yet to decide how much I liked White Horse: A Novel by Alex Adams. This is the first book in a trilogy (White Horse being a reference to the Biblical allusion to Death) and when I know that going into a book, I like to reserve my final judgement until I've completed the whole story. It's another dystopian tale that was very compelling, I'm just not sure where she's going to go with it. It was very well written and didn't seem to be targeted at a young adult audience, like so many with this theme seem to be lately. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt was an interesting read. A story of two brothers who are hitmen in the Western United States during the time of the gold rush. It's told from the point of view of the younger, less bloodthirsty, of the two who once idolized his brother but doesn't think he's the best person anymore. It follows them on their journey of completing a job in California. It was a good story and well told but it was very understated for a tale of two murderers. I really enjoyed the relationship between Eli and his poor horse, Tub. The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller is an interesting telling of the life of Achilles told from the prospective of Patroclus. My mythology is a bit rusty and I need to re-read some of the other versions of this story but I don't remember Achilles and Patroclus being lovers but since Miller is a professor of mythology I'm willing to go with her version of much of this tale. I'd forgotten how young Achilles was when he went to war (I blame the fact that when I now mentally imagine this man, I picture Brad Pitt in his late 30's) so this was a very interesting way of putting it back into perspective for me. Very good book! I think part of why I liked it so much was that when I first really developed a love of reading was in Junior High School and I had an excellent teacher who introduced us to Homer. It brought me back to that time a bit and the nostalgia factor made a great book that much better. I'm getting ready to take on some lighter reading right now with Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue: A Cynster Novel (Cynster Sisters Trilogy) by Stephanie Laurens.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unbroken, Making Toast, and Divergent

I finally got some non-fiction in my diet! I recently read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. This was an absolutely amazing survival story. My dad, who is a Vietnam vet, read this book and suggested it to me. I just can't imagine enduring the struggle that POW's go through and have no way of measuring the amount of respect I have for them.

I honestly picked my next selection because it was a thin book. I had about 40 pages left in Unbroken and didn't want to carry two heavy books to work with me so I picked up Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt. Despite my lousy criteria for taking it off my shelf, I thought this was an excellent book. A true story about a man and his family coping with the loss of his adult daughter. It wasn't overly sentimental or syrupy but was simple and true.

Lest you think I've been too ambitious in my streak of non-fiction, I also read Divergent by Veronica Roth. Somehow, I ended up with a bad printing and all of page 16 was black. I thought it might be a plot device for a while until the story kept referencing back to events on that page. I was able to get a hold of someone from the publisher and they said they'd send me a new copy. It's so odd to me that dystopian novels are so popular, but when you take into account the Occupy movement and the resulting dialogue, it makes sense. I liked Divergent. I suspect it will be the popular series to follow up on The Hunger Games. Book two comes out in May and I look forward to reading that one.

I'm currently reading The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman. I had a bit of trouble getting started with it but I think it's going to get better.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Good Week for Reading

This was a good week of reading for me. I finished up Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison. I learned about this book from all the Downton Abbey fan reading lists that were circulating the web in January and February. It was entertaining in a gossipy sort of way and a fun read.

After that, I finally got around to reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm not a big fan of reading books based on critical hype and general popularity, but sometimes the books are genuinely deserving of such success. This is a prime example.

Yesterday I finished reading Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman. This book grabbed my attention right from the introduction and never let go. It was one of those rare novels that I didn't want to put down and I didn't want it to end. I wish this author much success, she put a lot of work into this story.

Now I have moved on to Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate, No. 5) by Gail Carriger. This series has just been so much fun and I'm sad that this will be the last book. I really adore the humor in these tales.

I anticipate reading more books from my paperback collection as the stack is getting a bit high and wobbly and I need to cut it down a bit before they all fall over!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Night Circus

I recently finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This story is an absolute gift of wonder! I love these stories that bring your imagination out of hibernation and create their own little universe. I'd be interested in seeing this as a movie, if it were put in the right hands. I think we have sufficient technology that someone like Guillermo del Toro could do it justice.

Right now, I'm reading Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison. I wasn't really in the mood to read this but my mom bought it and dropped it off at my house and said I could read it before her. That kind of put the pressure on to get to it so she could read it as soon as possible. I'm on page 80 out of 354 and it's quite good so far. Harrison is a very engaging storyteller. My only beef is the chapters are so long there's really no good place to pause.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Little YA Fiction

I'm a bit behind in updating this blog but I've been reading plenty! I finished the last book I said I was going to tackle, Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers. It was okay. As indicated in the title, it is book one of a series so it's mainly a set-up for stories to come. As such, it was not bad and I think the series as a whole will end up being pretty good. Who wouldn't like a series set in 15th century Brittany revolving around a group of young female assassins trained by nuns?

Last week I went to the store to buy dog food, with absolutely no intention of buying any more books. I failed. I got a copy of Blood Red Road (Dustlands) by Moira Young. I started reading it as soon as I finished the last book and I hardly put it down. I really enjoyed it. I think it caught my interest because I'm getting a little excited about the Hunger Games movie. The heroine of this story, Saba, could definitely give Katniss a run for her money. It sounds like the movie rights for this book have already been optioned and it'll make a great film someday!

Then, I just finished reading Point, Click, Love: A Novel by Molly Shapiro. Meh.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Help and The Wolf Gift

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read The Help Deluxe Edition
by Kathryn Stockett. For some reason, maybe due to it's overwhelming popularity, I was resisting reading this book. Then all my co-workers started raving about it, and not all of them read very many books. I started to get a bit curious about the movie and decided I needed to read the book before seeing the film. I have to admit, I loved this book. I really believe it's going to go down as one of the classics of our time and will probably end up being required reading in schools. If you've been resisting the allure of this book, stop being so bull-headed and dive in!

On the other hand, you may wish to avoid Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift. I've been a fan of Rice for a long time but over the years she seems to have lost her edge. I was hoping that her return to the realm of the supernatural would revive her a bit but this felt like more of a rut than anything. The beginning half of the story felt almost the same as Interview with the Vampire, except with wolves. Then she just had to go there, pseudo-bestiality. Vampires can be sexy but, I'm sorry, this was just kinda gross. I spent the last half of the book just waiting for it to be over. Fortunately, it's a fast read. One thing to hold out hope for, she did introduce several very unique characters and dangled the possibility of a few interesting stories to come. Hopefully this was just the awkward set-up novel that writers sometimes use as a lead-in to better novels.

Next up, I'll be reading an advanced copy of Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers. It looks quite good and I can't wait to check it out!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maria Duenas and some poetry by Todd Boss

I finally finished The Time In Between: A Novel by Maria Duenas. It's no fault of the novel that it took me so long to read it, the story was very interesting. I used to have much more down time at work to read and since I've switched schedules, I find I'm too busy to read as much as I'd like. But, I digress. I really enjoyed this story. It starts out with the main character being not much more that a simple errand girl in a sewing shop in Madrid. Through the course of the story, she grows through many adventures set against the backdrops of the Spanish Civil War and World War II. This young lady is I truly interesting heroine and I loved going along on the ride of her life.

I also recently read a collection of poetry, Pitch: Poems by Todd Boss. I saw a write up for this book in last week's Sunday paper and became curious, now here we are! Boss is a Minnesota poet, and as such, I found it quite easy to relate to his work. His poetry has an excellent rhythm to it, as the musical title implies, and is very accessible and not ostentatious. "That crick in your neck is the heck you've got from being somebody you're not" (Luckenback). The words he uses to describe music could just as applicably describe his own work, "everything man makes is an aspirant song sawn across / along a deeper grain within" (Instrument). Boss is doing a reading in MN next month and I'm looking forward to going.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty." - John Steinbeck

If you write a work of fiction with the intent that it should be believed to be fact, you are committing literary adultery. When a writer publishes a book, it is offered up as a solemn vow to any reader willing to accept it; be it a novel, a memoir, or a collection of poetry. "This is my work. I present it to you as it is. Please accept it, however humble it may be." There should be little wonder, if an author is found to be false, that readers are repulsed when they find out they have been deceived. If you feel the need to publish a novel under the false pretenses of a memoir, not only does it show a lack of respect for your readers but it shows a lack of self-confidence in your ability to write a decent novel. I will never buy a book by an author who has stooped to such a gimmick.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Holy Moley!

Argh. It's been 11 days since I posted anything.  Here's what happened. I started reading this book called Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto.  I really wanted to like it because it was published by a local publishing company.  Obviously, that didn't happen.  It was a struggle for me to get a third of the way through before I gave up.  I was very bored by the story and as far as I could tell, it wasn't ever going to get to the point.  I did not get rid of the book, it's back on my shelf waiting for the time in my life when I might be patient enough to get through it and find its message. 

I haven't been reading much the last few days since I've been obsessing over the return of Downton Abbey.  I absolutely LOVE this show! 

I did start a new book.  I am not very far into it but, Holy Moley!! It's impressive so far.  The book is The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas.  Please leave comments if you've read this book or are reading it.  I'd love to discuss it.  I'm less than 50 pages in but it is very good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Tiger's Wife & some smut I'm not proud to fess up to

It's been a while since my last post, but I assure you I have been reading.  I finished The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht a few days ago. I feel odd comparing a female writer to Hemingway, since he was such a misogynistic bastard (but I digress), but if you add grace and more subtlety to one of his war stories you might get an inkling as to the feel of this tale.  Ultimately, it's much more than just a war story, as all war stories are.  Like any good writer worth her salt, Obreht doesn't let you see the full beauty of the puzzle until close to its completion.  Thanks to this, it did take me until almost the end before I decided I loved this book.  As with all my other reviews, I'm not going to get into plot details.  It's not worth reading the book if you have too much information beforehand.  But feel free to discuss you opinions in the comments section.  I'm always open for dialogue.  I will give you my favorite quote though: 

"My name, your name, her name. In the end, all you want is someone to long for you when it comes time to put you in the ground."

Okay.  I've also been reading some other stuff.  I few Christmases ago, my sister bought me a box set of the first six books in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward.  They've been sitting on my shelf since. When I was younger, my mom used to call this genre of book "bodice rippers."  Ever since I heard that term I've vowed I would never get sucked into reading them.  I hang my head in shame....but I do have a wicked grin on my face.  I'm sorry but these books are just plain fun.  I plan on holing up on my days off and reading the last three in the set I have yet to get to.  It's funny how women authors always turn vampire stories into sex books.  I'm not complaining though.  They're very entertaining.

I really need to get some non-fiction in my diet.  I will work on it soon.