Monday, December 29, 2008

The Kind of Love That Saves You by Amy Yurk

9/10 - Best book about grief I've read so far. I really liked the format. The narrator is writing letters to her unborn child. I thought it was well written and believable. I wish there was a little more at the end, not because I think it would really add to the book, but I didn't want to let go of Sarah just yet.

A to Z New Author Challenge

Woohoo!! Completed!! I've read an author for every letter of the alphabet. That was so fun, I just might do it again.

A - Zorro by Isabel Allende
B - Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg
C - Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
D - The Brothers K by David James Duncan
E - The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
F - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
G - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
H - The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
I - Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs
J - Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
K - The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
L - Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
M - The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
N - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
O - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
P - Little Children by Tom Perotta
Q - One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
R - Why Girls Are Weird by Pamela Ribon
S - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
T - The Book of Joe by Jonathon Tropper
U - Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
V - Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
W - The Rock Orchard by Paula Wall
X - Sky Burial by Xinran
Y - The Kind of Love That Saves You by Amy Yurk
Z - The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sky Burial by Xinran

7/10 - Doesn't a Sky Burial sound romantic? Yeah. It's not. I don't want to ruin it for you though. That aside, this was a pretty decent book. I was a little overwhelmed and confused by the political portions. I realize they were pertinent to the story, but I felt like the author dwelled on them in parts and it took away from the romance of the story. However, the discussions of Tibetan culture were enthralling. It's a very quick read, worth your time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

5/10 - Just an okay mystery/thriller book. I got annoyed with all main character's inner dialog. It was written like she was talking to the reader, and felt like she was trying too hard to be cute. The characters were not terribly believable, and the plot really wasn't. What else can I say. It fulfilled my U requirement for the new author challenge.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

8/10 - I was surprised by the many similarities between Nefertiti and The Other Boleyn Girl. Both were written from the perspective of the sister of an important icon in history. Both stories focused on a power hungry family and an unstable Monarch. I could go on and on, but I won't. The story was entertaining. I enjoyed hearing about Egypt. I wish there were more fiction novels that focused on ancient Egypt. Not deep reading, but entertaining. I'd recommend it to a friend.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs

7/10 - Along the lines of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, only subtract bachlorette bounty hunter and insert housewife detective. I really enjoyed the Judith Singer character, she was fun and quirky, and I was glad that she didn't back down to her hubby. She was actually pretty 'real' despite her stereotypical upper middle class surroundings. The love interest left much to be desired however and I hadn't realized when I picked the book up it was copyrighted in 1978. Other than that it was an okay read, kept things interesting enough.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

10/10 - Very different from her Twilight series, but still awesome. At first, I was thinking it might be too Sci-Fi for me, but I got over that quickly. Some more great love interests, which really make her books for me. Exciting plot, everything.

2008 Fiction Lover's Genre Challenge

This year for my online book club reading challenge we are focusing on genres. We each picked 12 genres from a list and the challenge is to read at least one book from each genre on the list. Obviously some books can fit in more that one genre, but I will try to pick one genre that I think suits it best and will read 12 different books.

Historical - Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Chick Lit - Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos
Horror- I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Fantasy/Sci-Fi - The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Mystery/Thriller - The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Romance - Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
Foreign - Love Marriage V.V. Ganeshananthan
Young Adult - A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Classic - Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Movie Tie-in - Atonement by Ian McEwan
Memoir - Love is a Mixed Tape by Rob Sheffield
Comedy - Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Birth House by Ami McKay

9/10 - I was so dissappointed when I read Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. It was an okay story, just not what I was hoping it would be. This book is what I was hoping Midwives would be. Stories about womens friendships and how they support each other during childbirth. As an L&D nurse, this topic is especially close to my heart.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

8/10 - I actually liked this one much more than the first. In the first book, I thought the characters were anh.. okay. Ranger was my favorite. But in Two for the Dough, I really fell in love with Morelli, Grandma Mazur, Lula, and Stephanie. I'm off to order the next now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

6/10 - I thought I'd read something scary for Halloween. This book had the novella I Am Legend as well as a bunch of short stories. I thought the were all all right. Matheson was definitely ahead of his time. I can see he inspired more movies than just I Am Legend. I'm glad I'm done with it though. Just not my thing I guess.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

7/10 - I've never had a lot of interest in Jodi Picoult, because I really don't like court room drama. But a friend lent me this book, and promised there was no court rooms involved, so I gave it a whirl. I thought it was good. It kept me interested even though I've been in a big reading slump lately. I liked the ghost story theme. It's that time of year anyway right. I thought some parts did drag a little, and I found Ross to be a little melodramic. Overall, it was a good read.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cut to the Bone by Shane Gericke

3/10 - Long, meandering thriller. There were so many characters in this book and two different time periods that by the middle I didn't know where I was or who I was reading about. The whole time I'm thinking the author has to tie everything together at the end and then it will make sense, but No! Nothing gets tied together, and the killer is a nobody. What the hell! I liked the main two characters, that was about it. Wouldn't waste your time even if you're into the thriller genre, and I'm not. I read it because a neighbor lent it to me with good intentions.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

9/10 - A hilarious account of the authors stay on the island of Tarawa in the South Pacific. I really enjoyed the authors sense of humor and personality. It was one of those books that had you googling parts just so you could get a better idea of what he was talking about. I found the whole thing fascinating and it made me further appreciate the comforts of our modern society. Who wouldn't find it funny to watch a man peddle a bicycle one handed while swing a tuna at a dozen hungry dogs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

10/10 - My beautiful Edward... now what am I going to do? How will I get my fix? My wonderful fantasy life has come to an end. I'm beside myself. I guess there's nothing left to do but wait for the movies to come out. I wonder if they have any clue what kind of hit they have on their hands. They better not screw this one up.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

10/10 - I was so hesitant to read this book because of the disturbing subject matter, but Kittle does such an excellent job writing about sexual abuse without sugar coating it, but she also doesn't alienate the reader. The characters are so well developed that you just ache for them. There is a good balance between the despairing parts and the triumphant ones, so you really feel compelled to keep reading. This book has such a great sensitivity. I really loved this one!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

7/10 - Hilarious book about Armageddon and good vs. evil. This book is full of very funny tidbits and the story overall is strong. However, there is an enormous amount of characters to keep track of, and some serious slow parts to overcome. I'm glad I read it, but I'm not running out to lend it to someone else.

Inspired Passages ~ Good Omens

Okay, so these aren't particularly inspirational, and won't have you pondering the meaning of life or anything, but they are laugh out loud funny!

Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide.

"Hey," he said, but much more weakly this time, "did any of them kids have some space alien with a face like a friendly turd in a bike basket?

I about peed my pants at those.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

9/10 - My beloved Edward is back! Unfortunately, he brought that annoying Bella character with him. Okay, so I think I'm too attached to the characters in this series. I really liked this one, it brought back all the good stuff from both Twilight and New Moon with only a tough of the incessant whining that drove me nuts in New Moon. Now I can't wait to read the next one, Breaking Dawn, and to see the movie that comes out 12/12! This will be the first series I've ever read start to finish since The Chronicles of Narnia when I was 13.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

10/10 - Wonderful, simple, and elegant. It was a little bit Practical Magic and a little bit Sleeping With the Enemy. I'm really looking forward to Allen's second book, Sugar Queen, now. This book made me feel very relaxed and comfortable. Very satisfying.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut

4/10 - This book makes me feel like my brain has been whisked in a bowl with milk and then poured into a frying pan and scrambled. That's about the best I can come up with. Why do I keep trying to read classics? It just makes me feel like I'm out of the loop, like I'm missing something. So it goes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

8/10 - I tend to struggle with books that revolve almost entirely on the inner workings of peoples minds. I know it's bad, but I find them boring. I'm kind of childish in my reading. Let's go somewhere, let's DO something. But Elizabeth Berg crafted such nice characters for this book, that I was able to get by nicely. I was so proud of myself for not looking ahead to find out what happens, because that would have ruined it. I did see some areas that could have been improved, but if I talked about them I could ruin the book for you. So I'll leave them unsaid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

8/10 - A sweeping epic based in Scotland about a woman from the 40-s who's swept back to the 1740's. This book is a quick read despite it's 850 pages with tons of great characters and just enough sex to really keep things interesting. It's is action packed with very few slow parts. I enjoyed it so much, I'm going to hop over to Paperback Swap and order the second in the series.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan

2/10 - I'm so relieved to be finished with this book, I felt like it was never going to end. There was no real flow or plot whatsoever. It really should have been billed as a book of short stories. It felt more like the author was trying to find an excuse to talk about Sri Lanka. I love learning about other cultures, but you have to have a story in there too. Otherwise, it just becomes a droning history lesson.
Who are all these characters and why do I care about them? Did we have to hear the story of every family member? I would have liked to see the author delve more into the main characters similarities to Uma. I would have liked to hear more of her story and how it intertwines with the Yalini's. We could have had a little Sri Lankan Bell Jar.

How can you write a book called Love Marriage and not have a hint of romance? Yalini's parent's story was a little romantic, but still there was so much family history that I feel like the characters you really cared to know about got watered down. I was really looking forward to this one, and I feel let down.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon

8/10 - Short, suspenseful read. When it arrived from Paperbackswap, I was just glancing over it, reading a few pages. I only got 7 pages in before the phone rang, but I about jumped out of my skin! I had to limit my reading of this book to the daytime hours, because it made me to jumpy to read it after dark. But then again, I'm a wuss when it comes to those things.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

7/10 - This was an okay book. I liked the main character Evelyn. She was very believable. This is the first book that I've read that is about a girl growing up in the same time period as me. It made it very easy for me to relate to her. I remember friendship pins and watching the Challenger go down on TV. But in the end it didn't really go anywhere, so I felt let down.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman

7/10 - This was a pleasant read. I liked the characters well enough although I thought they all were a bit flaky. My favorite was Devi Das, who was the only character I felt really warm toward. I think my enjoyment of the book was hindered by my inability to identify with any of the characters even though I liked them. I think some of my reformed Neo-hippy friends from college would probably like this book more than me. I thought the story story was well paced and held my interest. It arrived just before I left on vacation and turned out to be good vacation reading. I enjoyed the excerpts which described different yoga poses. My husband found it very amusing to watch me try them out, and I was surprised to find that I can still stand on my head, even if only for a few seconds. ;-) I think readers will find it delivers just what you would expect from the title.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

11/10 - Okay, I don't want to hear any comments about the rating. I just had to set this book on a pedestal somehow and that's how I chose to do it. This is far and away the most moving book I've ever read. It should have been called A Thousand Falling Tears. I implore you to read it. I won't bother to describe the story line because what ever I say won't do it justice. Just read it..Please. I'm blown away.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

6/10 - Similar to Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, The Spellman Files is an entertaining book about a family of private investigators. I'm usually partial to books that are heavy on character development, but I really felt that character development was all this book was about. There really was no discernible plot. The characters are quite entertaining which makes the book readable, but nothing to write home about.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

6/10 - This was a somewhat entertaining little YA book. Generally though I didn't really understand the whole supernatural concept the book was based on, and the characters were all very cliche. I felt like it followed that unwritten boarding school recipe. I don't think I'll be picking up anymore of this authors.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

9/10 - Everything I love in a book; love family, great kids. It gave me a cozy feeling down to my bones. Some reviewers complained about predictability, but I didn't see it. I can see how her writing style might not appeal to everyone, it's a bit halting, but I liked it. I think I would have appreaciated the book more if I was a fan of old movies. This will be a great one to pass on to friends.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

8/10 - I'm not one who says things like "I just couldn't put it down." when talking about books. But really, I just couldn't put it down. Someone wrote in another review that reading this book is liking driving past a grisly accident, you want to look away, but you just can't. I think that sums it up perfectly. This book contains some of the most unusual characters I've ever come across. How they end up in the same book is amazing as well. But I just could not stop reading it out of morbid curiosity if nothing else. The happy ending queen crosses over to the dark side.

Friday, March 21, 2008

One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

7/10 - Another fun, easy read with lots of likeable characters. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered the next in the series "Two For the Dough". I was really surprised that so many parts of the story line caught me by surprise. Usually, I have books like this figured out by the first chapter. I even had a "holy crap" moment when the main character did something I totally wasn't expecting. If you like series, I'm sure you've already read this, but if you haven't, you should.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Love is a Mixed Tape by Rob Sheffield

8/10 - It's amazing to hear someone talk about one of the worst times in his life with such humor. This is what Rob Sheffield does. He writes about his life with his wife, Renee, and about how music brought them together and how it helped him to heal after she died. There's music in this book for everyone, and some songs that noone has every heard before. Life Rob's rewording of "The Tigger Song" into "The Widow Song".

The terrible thing about widows,

is widows are terrible things.

Their eyes are covered with sunglasses.

Their fingers are covered with rings.

They're jumpy, dumpy, frumpy, glumpy,

dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

But the most terrible thing about widows

is that I'm the only one.

I'm...the only one.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt

9/10 - This book was so much more than the cover or title would lead you to believe. The characters are so believeable and well written, that it's almost impossible to figure out who to side with. It's a very touching story about a sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up in an open adoption. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

8/10 - Interesting "Jack the Ripper" type mystery set in the late 1800's in New York. I thought the writing was excellent, and the story held my interest although it took me a really long time to read. I'm not a die-hard mystery lover, but if you are you'll probably love it. I thought it could have been condensed some. Oh, and don't read it if you are hungry. The detective crew has some pretty amazing meals thrown in there with the gore.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson

5/10 - I'm surprised at James Patterson for putting this out. It seems really beneath him. It is utterly predictable, I could have told you the whole story after reading 3 pages. He also does something that I find incredibly irritating. I absolutely hate it when authors repeat themselves. I find it condescending, like the reader isn't smart enough to remember important points. It would get you through a plane ride, but I could think of way better.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

8/10 - It is rare that I find a book that I want to take my time with, this is an exception. I really enjoyed the poetry and spirituality of the writing. I found myself mulling over passages before moving on. I thought the journaling format was very effective. I especially loved that parts when he talked about his son and what he was doing. Those parts were especially warm. I did find myself wishing for more of a story interwoven in his thoughts. There were definite pieces of one, but they never really panned out. I also would have liked to hear the thoughts of the son when he grew and read the journal.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Argh. This one is really hard to rate because my thoughts are so divided. On one side there's the cynical part of me that says this is just a bunch of New Age Hooey. He just says the say thing over and over, and the phrase "to penetrate the Soul of the World" is just hard for me not to snicker at. On the other hand, if I'm feeling philosophical, I can find some real depth in the story. I think if you really read it with a totally open mind, you could get a lot out of it. It definitely makes you think. So I guess I'm taking the easy way out and I'm not going to give it a rating. Your take will depend so much on how you approach the book. You're just going to have to make your own mind up on this one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson

7/10 - Fun, quirky read about a materialistic blonde who is killed and rises from the dead as the prophetized Vamipire Queen. I think that pretty much says it all. Great book to read on a plane, that sort of thing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Atonement by Ian McEwan

6/10 - It's hard to fully explain my feelings about this book without giving away some plot details, so be warned. For starters, the first 100 pages were agony for me. I just found it to be very wordy and flowery. I started threatening the author that if he didn't get somewhere with all this fast then I was throwing in the towel. And then we got some where.... and fast! Wow! There was 50-100 pages there that I couldn't put the book down. Then we landed with a thud. There was all this build up for Robbie and Cecilia to be reunited and then he just shows up in the bathroom. WTH!!! And Briony never really atoned for anything. Sheesh! Guess this just wasn't my thing.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

8/10 - This is book two in the Twilight series, and I didn't enjoy it as well as the first. I just found myself completely annoyed with Bella the main character and her incessant whining!! Edward, the love interest, is my favorite character and he was absent for half the book. After reading this book, I'm even more certain that he needs to dump Bella and fall madly in love with me! I did like our new character Jacob though. He made Edwards absence less painful. I will probably continue with the series when I get Eclipse from PaperBackSwap, or as a gift, but I don't think I'm going to run out and buy it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Best of 2007

I can't really rank them from 1-10, but I definitely have a top 5, so I'm differentiating those. I think it's a little bizarre that they all start with 'The'.

Top 5
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
The Book of Joe by Jonathon Tropper

Top 10
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Rock Orchard by Paula Wall
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Red Tent by Anita Diamont