Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2010
390 pages
Dystopian; YA
Third in Trilogy
4.5/5 stars

Here are my reviews of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

Source: Bought (stupid amazon delivered it a day late causing me to spend all of August 24th pouting)

SPOILERS of first two books in summary. Minor spoilers in thoughts (generalities, no specifics; ex. I would say there were a lot of deaths in HP7 but I wouldn't write their names).

Summary: The highly anticipated conclusion to Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy.  Katniss has twice survived the Hunger Games and is now in the hidden District 13 where she must decide if she'll be the mockingjay, the figurehead of revolution against the Capitol.  More violent than its predecessors (yes, seriously!), this book will put you through the wringer.

Thoughts: Well, Collins is definitely in the Rowling camp when it comes to who and how many of your favorite characters will die (in comparison to the Meyer camp where it is my understanding that nobody had to sacrifice anything and it was very anticlimactic; note: I haven't read it because I don't hate myself but that's what I've heard).  The consequence is that the characters who do survive along with the reader end up emotionally devastated (well, at least I did).  I didn't cry because I was speeding through but when I reread it, I think I will.

It is also very violent because there's a full on revolution/war going on.  Inevitably there are survivors and there are the dead.  And of course those who die are either already beloved characters or have enough of a presence that we miss them.  There are also some secrets about the early days of Panem revealed and very few authority figures we can trust.  The other books were pushing the YA label but I would definitely say this is older YA if not basically an adult book.

Teams: Now I'm not going to say if she picks anyone but the reason I'm listing for being on each team is the justification for why she chooses that option. (Listed alphabetically)

Gale: He taught her how to hunt and has encouraged her independence; additionally they are both fiercely protective of their families.
Katniss: So kickass, it's not like she needs a guy and she will continue to be awesome; or she's dead.
Peeta: He balances her out and brings out new aspects of her character; additionally he loves her even when she feels unloveable.

Note: I remain Team Peeta, even if the odds aren't in his favor.

Overall: I enjoyed it less than the previous books and I'll definitely need to reread it (unfortunately I lent it to a friend so I don't have it right now.  I know, I didn't have to do that but that's what makes me so nice. *WICKED!*)

Cover: I think a darker blue would look nicer on shelves next to the red and black of the first two.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
550 pages
YA; Historical
3.5/5 stars

Source: My sister bought it and now I have borrowed it.

Summary: (from goodreads-usually I like to write my own summaries but I had a lot of trouble with this one.)



"It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.  This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. "
Thoughts: I saw many rave reviews of this before I started reading it so I had high hopes.  Alas I must be an exception for while I can see the strengths of it, it didn't work for me.

I liked the idea of Death as narrator but Zusack's Death isn't as good as Terry Pratchett's Death.  I liked the idea of a young girl in Nazi Germany.  Despite the popularity of WWII in film and fiction, I still feel as if there isn't as much in YA (in general I feel like there isn't much historical fiction in YA at all).  Another problem was that despite the little moments in the book, the overwhelming feeling I got from it was depression especially as Hitler and the Holocaust are referenced frequently.  I know the Holocaust was an awful event and I do not want anything of that kind to ever happen again but I personally had trouble handling that aspect. I also didn't like the use of German, followed by a rough translation of what was said-I found it annoying, perhaps because I have studied German and didn't always need the translation so it was like having something repeated to me.

My favorite part was the descriptions of books and the joyful experience of reading.  Liesel certainly needed some good in her life and I think book bloggers will appreciate those passages.  The ending did make me cry.  The death all around was too much and practically everyone dies.

Overall: While I recognize this as a book that is kind of book that wins awards, I didn't particularly like it.

Cover: The dominoes are a good choice for the cover.

Also: I had forgotten that this was part of my FITG challenge (see tab at top)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Readathon/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

From Dusk to Dawn Readathon Wrapup
Wednesday: I started out strong with 5 hours of reading and I read Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and Forget You by Jennifer Echols.
Thursday: Not as good, I read for 2.5 hours finishing Linger by Maggie Stiefvater and reading about 30 pages of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.
Friday: I stayed on twitter for about an hour, which slowed my reading pace considerably.  Still I finished The Iron King and Winter's Passage, an Iron King novella, in about 3 hours.  Then I spent an hour reading Daddy's Delight by Karia Bunting.
Saturday: Spent 1.5 hours reading Everlasting; Then I took a break to watch Lie to Me because hulu was mean to me earlier.  I also took another hour to finish Daddy's Delight.

Total hours spent reading: 14 hours (I really should have spent more time but I was so tired because I was working all day)
Total pages read: 2016
Total books finished: 7 (or maybe more like 6.5)
I think I read so quickly because I was reading YA; I had the hardest time reading Daddy's Delight because it was an ebook with a weird font.

Upcoming:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
One Day by David Nicholls
Week 2 of Bleak House Readalong

Currently Reading:
Bleak House by Dickens
Passion by Jude Morgan (one of my favorite authors)

See other Monday Reading links at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Conclusion of Romance Week

Reviews to the books I read for my Romance Week:  I had a mostly good week with these but I think I'm burned out on romance for awhile.  Oddly enough, the two books I was most excited about ended up disappointing me, receiving only 3s.

A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries (DNF)
How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle (4)
Something About You by Julie James (4)
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn (4)
Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn (3)
To Sin With a Scoundrel by Cara Elliott (4)
Nine Rules for Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (3)

Favorite Hero: Harry Valentine from What Happens in London
Favorite Heroine: Ciara from To Sin With a Scoundrel
Favorite Book: To Sin With a Scoundrel

Have you read any of these? If so, what was your favorite? If not, which sounded the most interesting based on description of the book?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Avon, 2010
397 pages
Historical; Romance
First in trilogy
3/5 stars

Source: Bought

Summary: Callie is tired of being the perfect spinster and is spurred to try living her life anew after hearing some less than flattering comments.  To that end, she approaches the Marquess of Ralston, the man she's been in love with for ten years, in order to have her first kiss.  He sees an innocent who nonetheless provokes and intrigues him as well as the solution to the problem of his untutored sister.

Thoughts: I mostly enjoyed MacLean's The Season and I saw largely positive reviews of this book so I thought I'd try it.  Once I got past the insanely long title, I was not enchanted.  I expected a lot of humor after enjoying the Austenesque Season but it was not really funny.  I was intrigued by the concept: a confirmed spinster decides to start pushing the bounds of propriety, including brazenly romancing a rake.  And I liked Callie a lot.  I also appreciated her points about the sexist society in which they live-very different fare than I usually see in romance novels. I somewhat liked the hero, Ralston.  He was very devoted to his brother and newfound sister.  That sister Juliana will be the heroine of the third book and she was lovely.  She was raised in Italy and shares a mother with the brothers; all of them were abandoned by the mother.  Because of that, Ralston has vowed never to love (see where this is going?) while Callie is adamant that she will have only a love match.

I didn't enjoy Callie's adventures as much as I wanted to because Ralston kept interfering in a patronizing way.  His slowness in not realizing that he loved her was infuriating and after he compromised her, his proposal of marriage sucked majorly.  There was also a lot of kissing and sex scenes which despite my love of romance novels is my least favorite part (I know for some (many?), that is the main reason to read them but I prefer humor and the clean ways they spend time together.)  However if you like that, you would probably enjoy this.

Overall: Two idiots (eventually) in love and a severe lack of humor hamper my enjoyment.

Cover: I really love the heroine's dress although there is again a cut-off head.

Friday, August 27, 2010

To Sin With a Scoundrel

To Sin With a Scoundrel by Cara Elliott
Forever, 2010
349 pages
Historical; Romance
First in Series
4/5 stars

Source: Won from Monica at The Bibliophilic Book Blog

Summary: Ciara is known (quite unjustly) as a lady who murdered her husband.  Lucas is known (quite rightly) as an unrepentant rake and womanizer who revels in his reputation.  Yet the Bluestocking and the Rake can help each other, thereby dispelling those nasty rumors and reputations.  And there will be absolutely no romance because they loathe each other.

Thoughts: I really liked this! I enjoyed reading about an academic lady with a young child who she loved and had to overcome challenges to keep.  She is rumored to have murdered her husband-a reaction coming about because society can't handle a brilliant woman.  She also has those dead husband's greedy relatives prowling around, proving a very real threat.  Luckily she has a strong circle of friends who want to help her.  And while my twenty-first sensibilities are ruffled by their decision that she needs a man as a champion, my knowledge of Regency society as described in romance novels knows they are very right.  But the man the choose!

That man is Lucas, Lord Hadley (who has a rhyme attached to his name!) is considered probably the worst rake in Society (or the best depending on where you're coming from).  His days are full of sleep as his nights are full of debauchery.  But he has a soft spot for his guardian academic Henry and will approach the Murderess when Henry says that she is the most appropriate scholar to study a newfound manuscript.  Now they can help each other.

And help each other they do, far beyond the bounds of their original agreement.  She helps give his life a purpose, redeeming his poor academic record, giving him responsibility for a family and taking care of others and teaching him a great deal additionally.  He in turn helps her find herself after years of brutality from her husband and provides a good role model for her son.  They were a lovely romantic couple and I look forward to them having a long and happy life together.

Overall: Fun chemistry and a bit of suspense with real stakes! I definitely want to check out the second book, To Surrender to a Rogue, which is hinted at a bit in this book; we meet the hero and heroine and even see them interacting.

Cover: Eh-not a fan of chopped off heads.  And there is an awful lot of words.

Fairy Tale Friday

Friday is for Fairytales is a meme hosted by Irena at This Miss Loves to Read. Every Friday, you can choose a fairytale you love, or simply find interesting or haunting, and review it or simply say why you like it so much, or why it has captured your attention. Instead of a fairytale, you can choose a favourite fairytale character and describe him/her and tell us why you like them, or you can simply share an experience connected to a fairytale. Fairytales can be old and modern, written by a known author or anonymous, written down or passed on orally, short or in novel form (like re-writings of fairytales), international or typical for your country alone. In this case, present your country’s fairytale and we can all become acquainted with a new fairytale. So, make a post every Friday that is connected to the world of fairytales, be it a review, a character description or your own fairytale experience. Let’s celebrate fairytales and share our love for them.
I first saw The Princess Bride nine years ago in school where the ending was cut off! But already I was in love and this is still one of my favorite movies. Swashbuckling adventure, revenge plots, brilliant Sicilians, and of course True Love: this movie has it all! Plus it's very quotable. Personally I'm a big Westley fan (that voice!) but there's also Inigo Montoya, Fezzik, Vizzini, and even Prince Humperdinck (what a name!) The book, by William Goldman, is also hilarious and worth a read if you ever see it at your local library or bookstore.

If you haven't seen this, you should put it at the top of your list!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ten Things I Love About You

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
Avon, 2010
377 pages
Historical; Romance
Third in Bevelstoke Series
3/5 stars

Source: Bought

Summary: Sebastian Grey is the presumptive heir to his uncle's earldom but said earl hates him and is trying to find a bride to bear him a new heir.  That young lady is Annabel Winslow who despises the earl but feels responsibility for her seven younger siblings and recently widowed mother-what's a girl to do?

Thoughts: I really loved the book trailer (and I usually avoid them like the plague) so I picked this up.  I wanted to love it because Sebastian is soooo charming and it's always great when the womanizer is finally bested and falls in love with just the one woman.  I also the idea of top ten lists.  However this was such a jolting experience.  First it would be charming Sebastian Grey; then the vulgar desperate earl; then more Sebastian; then Annabel being somewhat mopey.  Instead of Quinn's usual polished style, it jumped and left me feeling disoriented.  Every character was too exaggerated.  The earl was too pervish, Annabel's grandparents were too mean and openly accepting of adultery to an innocent, Annabel had little personality.  For one thing, if she loved her siblings so much why do I only know one sister's name?  I would have appreciated diving more in to her family life and how that impacted her decisions.

The romance was okay-they said a lot of funny things to each other but it don't cohere in to a whole and it wasn't as deep as I would have liked.  I guess I was expecting more from Sebastian, who utterly charmed me in What Happens in London but I was let down.

Overall: Disappointing story of a charming rogue.

Cover: I don't really like the girl's face (and I'm not sure she's curvy enough) but the white of the background looks good with the purple of the title and Quinn's name.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bleak House Ch. 1-7

Welcome to part I of the Bleak House Readalong. Check out The Zen Leaf for the others.

Background: Written by Charles Dickens, published 1852-1853
My Edition: From Barnes and Noble, 817 pages

What I Knew: I knew of the miniseries although I haven't seen it.  This book also features spontaneous combustion, something I'm obsessed with after seeing This Is Spinal Tap.

Thoughts: I'm going to divide this in to thoughts about each chapter because they split pretty nicely.

Chapter 1: Long, long passages of description with many notes, some of which I consider unnecessary because they just took me out of the story.  It introduces the case Jarndyce and Jarndyce which has been in Chancery for innumerable years.  I imagine some of my difficulties stem from the differences between American and English courts, some from the different time periods, and some because Dickens was a wordy chap.

Chapter 2: Still connected by the court case, but completely different is the introduction of Lady Dedlock who is somehow associated with it.  Solicitor Mr Tulkinghorn (what a name) and her proud husband Sir Dedlock are also introduced.

Chapter 3: This shifts to being told in first-person from the point of view of Esther Summerson, a bastard (I think) and very humble young girl (it's kind of annoying how she goes on about how everyone else is so great).  According to the notes (Chapter 3 #1 in case you also have a copy from B&N), she is somewhat of a reaction against Jane Eyre, whose rebellious attitudes displeased Dickens.  So he created a put-upon child and made her undemanding of more.  She is also influenced by Jarndyce and Jarndyce as she is to serve as a companion to another young lady who is a ward of the court under the case.  Mr. Kenge is a lawyer and quite a character; in fact exactly the kind of character one would consider uniquely Dickens.

Chapter 4: The young people (Esther, Ada and Richard) arrive at Mrs Jellyby who seems to be a philanthropist and is more consumed with thoughts of Africa than with taking care of her home.  The youngsters have an interesting evening with them.

Chapter 5: Krook's shop (not sure of the best word) is shown in copious detail as the young people visit it before leaving for Bleak House.

Chapter 6: At first I thought this chapter was just going to be the journey to Bleak House but they do reach it and meet Mr Jarndyce and his friend Harold Skimpole who ends up conning Esther and Richard out of a great deal of money for their situation.  This is excused because Skimpole is such a "child."

Chapter 7: This shifts back to the third person narrative with a visit to Chesney Wold, owned by the Dedlocks.  Mr Guppy and a friend tour the house and the housekeeper Mrs Rouncewell ends by telling a story of the ghost who haunts the place still.

I mentioned many of the (seemingly) minor characters because I don't know who will turn out to be major and who will pop up for a classic Dickensian coincidence along the way.

I'm not sure how I feel yet; there are so many characters already and more will sure emerge.  Esther is annoying me with her deprecating assessments of herself and her gushing descriptions of Ada who seems average.  There's just so much to absorb; still can't wait for next week with chapters 8 to 13.

What Happens in London

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
Avon, 2009
372 pages
Historical; Romance
2nd in Bevelstoke series
4/5 stars

Source: Bought

Summary: Olivia Bevelstoke hears some ridiculous gossip about her new next door neighbor Sir Harry Valentine but she still can't help spying on him.  Harry can't figure out why that gorgeous blonde is spying on him but he is not displeased to be assigned by his employers at the War Office to look after her and the suspicious Russian prince who may be wooing her.  He will just keep an eye on her and report back because he couldn't possibly be falling for her, could he?

Thoughts: Julia Quinn and I had a bit of a falling out after she finished her Bridgerton series.  The last one On the Way to the Wedding made me cry and I absolutely loved it.  Then I tried the first book in the Bevelstoke series called The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever, which I'm pretty sure I finished although I didn't much like it.  Then I tried The Lost Duke of Wyndham and Mr Cavendish, I Presume and I couldn't finish either.  But I really wanted to read 10 Things I Love About You (check back tomorrow for my review) and I figured I would try to read it in order to get back in to her world.

Luckily I loved it!  It was so funny especially the scene where Sebastian reads aloud from a lurid gothic novel; I can see why he got his own book because he's absolutely charming and seemingly happy-go-lucky.  Harry is quite good with an interesting background that could have been expanded on more. Olivia is mostly delightful although I lamented her disinterest in reading fiction (luckily she loves newspapers.  I mean can you imagine a heroine of a romantic novel who despised reading?)  Their banter made me laugh a lot.  It was just what I needed in a book.

One part I loved was when Harry talked about romance novels: if they're written by a man, the woman dies; if they're written by a woman, they have a happily ever after (page 185).  I immediately thought of A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks and then the complete list of works by Julia Quinn and it seemed rather true!

The biggest problem was an injection of intrigue as Olivia is kidnapped for poorly defined reasons and rescued in somewhat of a ridiculous manner, leading to a loss of trust between the couple and a quick restoration.  I also did not like the big romance scene (because of the setting) nor did I like the marriage proposal (absolutely ludicrous).  There were also some loose threads relating to Harry's career and his relationship with his brother (who may grow up to get his own book?)

Overall: Not as good as the Bridgertons, I would say this was much closer to form for Quinn.

Cover: Kind of boring-the red's pretty and I like the rose but it doesn't stand out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Something About You

Something About You by Julie James
Berkley Sensation, 2010
307 pages
Contemporary; Romance
4/5 stars

Source: Picked up cheap at a thrift store

Summary: Assistant US Attorney Cameron Lynde is trying to relax in a hotel room when she hears the couple next door going at it; later she catches a glimpse of a man, who murdered the woman within.  The FBI agent who comes to the case is Jack Pallas, a man with a grudge against Cameron.  But they have to push their personal feelings aside in order to nab the killer...or do they?

Thoughts: I saw some reviews of this on other blogs and they were largely positive so I was excited.  A large part of the story is how they each are (pretty rightfully) angry with the other.  She is angry because he insulted her in vulgar terms on TV after she refused to prosecute a case that he spent two years undercover working on.  He is mad because he thinks she had him transferred from Chicago to Nebraska in retaliation.  These are legitimate reasons unlike some romantic misunderstandings.

He sounds very hot although his name is uncomfortably close to that famewhore bachelor Jake P (I'm pretty sure his last name starts with a P).  He is also very brave as he was tortured for two days by a crime lord's gang without giving anything up.  He is dedicated to his job and he is good at it.  She is similarly devoted to law and justice and has experienced tremondous growth since their last encounter. I kept picturing her as Gabrielle Anwar (Fi on "Burn Notice," see Cover, although she doesn't seem to have a fondness for C-4).  Together they are a very hot couple.  One thing I really liked was that they hashed out their problems with each other before sleeping together-sometimes it seems as if couples sleep while still having mistrust.

Additionally the other characters are good.  I loved Cameron's friends Collin and Amy although Amy isn't well-defined.  I liked the other cops and special agents who are looking out for Cameron.  The villain was certainly scary in his determination to do wrong but he wasn't absolutely terrifying like some of the best villains in literature are.

Then there is the thriller aspect.  We find out pretty early on who committed the murder and that the person would like to silence Cameron but the two don't figure it out until much later.  The final showdown scene made me think of Red Eye as her beautiful house is somewhat destroyed although spoiler-Jake and Cameron survive ;-)

I'm still not a big fan of contemporary romances but this was good.

Warning: Can't say that I liked their use of the f-word-a bit too prolific for my tastes.

Overall: Sparkling good fun-charming protagonists and a thriller to boot!

Cover: Reminds me of Michael and Fi on Burn Notice, which is a very good thing!

Monday, August 23, 2010

From Dusk Till Dawn Read-A-Thon


I will be participating in the From Dusk Till Dawn Read-a-Thon this week!  I've never been able to participate in one before so I'm really excited.  I think it's pretty perfect for a college student who is basically relaxing the week before classes start and it will help me build up a backlog of reviews before my crazy semester starts.

Tentative Book List:
Bleak House-ch. 8 to 13 for September 1st post for readalong
Mockingjay because I don't know when I'll be able to start it
Everlasting by Angie Frazier
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Daddy's Delight by Karia Bunting (from netgalley because I'm way behind)
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (also from netgalley because I'm way behind and I've seen good things about it)

I don't know if this is too ambitious or not ambitious enough but we shall see.  Head over to Book Crazy to sign up (and get excited for some awesome challenges)!

How I Met My Countess

How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle
Avon, 2010
345 pages
Romance; Historical; Series
4/5 stars

Source: Picked up cheap in a thrift store.

I've never read a romance that had so many chapters set in the past but it's necessary in order to fully tell the love story of Lucy and Clifton (His name appears to actually be Justin Grey but he's never called that.)  Seven years earlier, he and his brother Malcolm arrived at her father's home to be inducted in to the world of spies.  Along the way, they fall in love.  But Lucy is illegitimate and Clifton is an earl so her father tried to manage her expectations.  Seven years later she is widowed after marrying in desperation and thinking Clifton had forsaken her.  He in turn believes her to have been untrue.

I really loved Lucy, a vibrant and exciting woman.  She has a mean right hook and a tart tongue  She did not seem of her time but I didn't mind.  I was less enthused about Clifton, mostly because he was sometimes too intent on dominating her.  He also has trust issues (see Spoiler).  But he is genuninely heroic, having faithfully served England as a spy all these years.

SPOILER: I don't believe this is really a spoiler but better safe than sorry.  Mickey is obviously Lucy's nephew and Clifton's as well for while Clifton hearts Lucy, his brother Malcolm loves her sister.  But when Clifton meets Mickey, he jumps to the ludicrous conclusion that Lucy and Malcolm had produced the child.

I believe this marks the start of what I'm calling the Lady Standon series as Lucy, Elinor, and Minerva are all called by that name.  They all married men they didn't love and this is now their chance to get their happily ever after. Check out Elizabeth Boyle's website for more info.

One interesting aspect is toward the end where Lucy takes a rather philosophical approach to life that such a thing had to happen in order for other things to happen.  The second book, featuring Elinor, is also set up.

My big problem with this book is how problems cropped up and were quickly dispensed with.  There were a lot of problems but they never lasted for long. However I liked that the couple were pretty much always in love and were eager to resume their relationship after those misunderstandings were cleared.

This is all set in Elizabeth Boyle's Regency World with references to spymaster Pymm, spy Temple (hero of my beloved Stealing the Bride), and Felicity Langley (from Love Letters from a Duke) in a rather unsympathetic portrayal.  There are also two hilarious dowagers who come to help the Lady Standons remarry and who will hopefully be in the next two books.

Overall: A perhaps too fast-paced romance spy novel with an amazing heroine from the ever-delightful Elizabeth Boyle.

Cover: Why hello Miss Cleavage-pretty necklace!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Last Week:
A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie
At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
Heist Society by Ally Carter

This Week:
I started my week of romance reviews with a list of some of my favorite romances and my first official book was a DNF, A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries.  Reviews of six other books will appear through the rest of this week.

ETA: I'll also be participating in the From Dusk till Dawn Readathon this week-8pm-8am from August 25th-August 29th.  Check out this post or my sidebar for details.

Upcoming:
I preordered Mockingjay and should finish it the day of (unless I decide to savor it) but because I want to give people a chance to read it at their own pace, I will not be reviewing it until next Tuesday, August 31.
I'm starting the Bleak House readalong this week (see sidebar and come join in!)
I also have some really popular YA titles in my queue: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, Forget You by Jennifer Echols, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, Everlasting by Angie Frazier, and The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.  I will be reading them next!

DNF: A Dangerous Love

A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries
Avon Books, 2000
373 pages
Romance; Historical

Source: From a friend

Summary: Griff is officially a bastard but if he agrees to marry an ailing earl's daughter, he can receive proof of his legitimacy.  He figures he'll visit, skulk around the place, find the marriage certificate and take off.  To aid his search, he switches place with his manservant so that he has more free time.  He did not count on feisty Lady Rosalind though who suspects him of something and may just lead him to the altar.

Thoughts:  I really wanted to start "Romance Week" off with a book I loved but I did not like this book.  Right away I did not like Griff and I hated his plan as it is one of my least favorite romantic tropes.  Pretending to be somebody else NEVER works! I loved Rosalind and her sisters, with their Shakespeare-inspired names and vibrant personalities.  But I couldn't make it through-I tried over a period of almost two weeks but I couldn't do it.  They obviously fall in love and get married but I just don't care about him.  I've been finding that's really important to me to like both the hero AND the heroine, which was not going to happen here.

Overall: If you're a fan of the author/have had good experience with this trope, check this book out.  If you're like me though, skip it.

Cover: Well, the focus is on a hated character so that would be a negatory.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kick-Off of Romance Week

Hmmm...I was experimenting with uploading multiple pictures and I'm not wholly satisfied with this but it will have to do as I keep figuring out how to transfer what's in my head to what appears. Anyway this is a list of the romances that got me in to romances to set up romance week on my blog, which basically just means that I will review seven romance books over the course of the next week.

They're linked to goodreads so you can read the plot because I'm mostly talking about how I found them and how I reacted to them.

In no particular order:

1. Educating Caroline by Patricia Cabot: I loved Meg Cabot's YA so I picked up this romance novel which is set in the later part of the nineteenth century rather than my preferred Regency era. Caroline is endearing and I loved the romance; I read this loads of times.
2. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn: My first JQ and a Cinderella variation-obviously this holds a special place in my heart.
3. Stealing the Bride by Elizabeth Boyle: Part of a series although I didn't realize that.  Temple is very dashing and Diana is ever so strong-willed-they're a perfect match!
4. Once Upon a Dream by Katherine Kingsley: Another Cinderella variation, this one involving Irish/English tensions. This is also a book that I have a tendency to forget both the title and author of; don't know why.
5. Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus: Just read this one; you can check out my review here.
6. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers: Read this earlier in the year; so powerful.

and two which I read at the beginning of my romance reading that hold a sentimental place in my heart despite some pretty brutal stuff:

1. The Diamond Slipper by Jane Feather: The main character in this book is raped repeatedly by her husband and if I remember correctly, is also forced to have a home abortion by that husband after he thinks she's conceived with her lover. But for some reason I loved this one.
2. The Reluctant Suitor by Kathleen E Woodiwiss: The hero is kind of a jerk in this, if I remember and the heroine is harassed by another would-be suitor in a violent and scary climax.  Has generally been rated by Woodiwiss fans as way below par.

So this are some of the romance books I've loved; maybe some of the books I'm reviewing this week will capture my heart and join them?

What are your favorite romance books/romantic books, if you don't read in the genre?


Friday, August 20, 2010

Fairy Tale Friday


Friday is for Fairytales is a meme hosted by Irena at This Miss Loves to Read. Every Friday, you can choose a fairytale you love, or simply find interesting or haunting, and review it or simply say why you like it so much, or why it has captured your attention. Instead of a fairytale, you can choose a favourite fairytale character and describe him/her and tell us why you like them, or you can simply share an experience connected to a fairytale. Fairytales can be old and modern, written by a known author or anonymous, written down or passed on orally, short or in novel form (like re-writings of fairytales), international or typical for your country alone. In this case, present your country’s fairytale and we can all become acquainted with a new fairytale. So, make a post every Friday that is connected to the world of fairytales, be it a review, a character description or your own fairytale experience. Let’s celebrate fairytales and share our love for them.

This might be stretching the theme a bit but I feel that the movie follows a fairy tale structure: poor unpopular Mia uncovers the truth about her origins; a fairy godmother (and really what else could you call Julie Andrews) transforms her; she navigates the dangerous paths of high school; and ends up with self-confidence and a handsome "prince." Also because of this movie, I started reading Meg Cabot (I probably would have anyway but this accelerated it). It's a fun movie but beware the sequel (unless you like Chris Pine aka reboot Kirk)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Heist Society

Heist Society by Ally Carter
Disney-Hyperion Books, 2010
287 pages
YA; Contemporary; Suspense
4/5 stars

Source: Library-big thanks to my sister for putting this book on hold because I had just given up on reading it.

Summary: Kat thought she was out.  But now she's back in and has to pull off the biggest con of her life in order to protect the people she loves.

Thoughts: I had read a couple of books by Ally Carter (The Gallagher Girls series) but they came out so far apart that I kept forgetting what had happened in the meantime (okay it was only like a year but I did enjoy them and didn't want to wait).  Then I read some reviews of this describing it as more young YA so I thought I wouldn't like it.  I was surprised though because I loved this!

It was such a cute book-Kat was a great heroine (once you move past the moral implications of a her being raised to be a thief).  She's loyal to her family and is anxious about being a thief.  She returns to crime partly because her family is threatened and she will do what she can in order to protect them, including breaking in to one of the most secure art museums of all.

Great secondary characters-Hale, Gabrielle, Angus, Hamish, Simon, Uncle Eddie, her father, Nick, and the terrifying Arturo.  It's always important to me to see fun characters around the main one.  These didn't have much depth but they were distinguishable and they had their own motivations.  Hale is a particular standout as a potential love interest for Kat.  I would have liked more love story but that's not always necessary for a book so I'll let it go.

Overall: Thrilling caper with a bit of history mixed in.

Cover: Great cover-I love the font on "Heist," and the picture reflected in her glasses; the model also seems age-appropriate.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bleak House Readalong


I signed up at The Zen Leaf for a Bleak House read-a-long (It starts next week so there's still time to sign up! Click on the icon in my sidebar). I'm really excited about this for a couple of reasons:

1. BH is on my FITG Challenge which I am deplorably behind on.
2. Amanda at The Zen Leaf always writes such intelligent and insightful posts about the books she reads so that combined with all the other smart people participating will help me get the most out of this book.
3. I haven't read much Dickens and I've been intimidated by BH's size although also intrigued by the plot [Irena at This Miss Loves to Read highlighted Honoria for a character Connection and this book apparently features a spontaneous combustion-did you know dozens of people spontaneously combust every year? (Source)]
4. I've never done a read a long although I've wanted to so this will be an exciting and new experience; It will also be really fun to meet new bloggers and read what they have to say.
To sum up: Sign up for the BH read along! And get ready for the first post Wed August 25.

At Bertram's Hotel

At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
Black Dog & Leventhal, 1965
270 pages
Miss Marple Mystery
4/5 stars

Source: Bought

Summary: Bertram's Hotel seems like a nice old-fashioned hotel, hearkening back to Edwardian England.  But something is off with a canon going missing, wild celebrities hanging around, and finally a shocking murder and a near miss.  Luckily Miss Marple is there to aid the police in their investigation.

Thoughts: At first I wasn't sure what was going on as no crimes seemed to be happening.  It was just a leisurely trip to and around London.  However Miss Marple is ever curious and it is through her that we get the first idea that something is going on.  The problem is that everything seems too perfect.  Hard to believe that's a problem but it is.  And because of that, a major crime syndicate (I think they can be called that) is unmasked and will be brought to justice.

We meet two new policemen, one is affectionately called Father who is a very good policeman despite his appearance which causes many people to underestimate.  Other characters are wild Bess Sedgwick and her estranged daughter Elvira, neither of whom I really liked although I was interested to find out what role they played.  Canon Pennyfather is the man who goes missing partly due to his own absentmindedness-he was sweetly endearing.

I did not figure out the mystery or the murderer but I was pleased with the end.  At first it seems like the murder will not be prosecuted (like Poirot does in Murder on the Orient Express) but then the policeman says he will go after that person and have him/her arrested.  I was very pleased.

Overall: The best Christie I read this week with an interesting cast of characters.

Cover: I quite like the green and the doorman.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cat Among the Pigeons

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie
Black Dog & Leventhal, 1959
297 pages
Hercule Poirot Mystery
4/5 stars

Source: Bought (it was on sale)

Summary: Meadowbank School is an outstanding school for young girls which is suddenly rocked by the murder of the new games mistress.  Was she too curious for her own good?  Does it have some connection to the recent revolution in a Near East country? (Hint: yes)  Never fear: Hercule Poirot and his little grey cells are on the case.

Thoughts: The book opens with a four page list of the characters, which I read hoping to get set for reading this.  Instead it overwhelmed me and I had to just keep reading in order to be able to follow it.  There are a lot of characters, mostly female because the actions takes place at a fine girls' school.  The opening is very confusing as it shifts from Meadowbank to that Near East country to two females who connect both places. Headmistress Miss Bulstrode of course made me think of Millicent Bulstrode of Slytherin but luckily she's a much nicer person and Eileen Rich is consistently described as ugly although I cannot fathom why that's relevant to the story. 


There seem to be long passages where nothing is really happening.  I found it easy to read and I was motivated to finish it.  Interestingly Poirot doesn't show up until basically two-thirds of the way through the book.  Yet he solves it fairly easily by picking up on a few strands.  I didn't solve the murder (er murders) but I don't mind.  I should have noticed something was up about that person but I didn't connect it fast enough. I also thought there was going to be a romance (I like the little romances Christie throws in) but I was wrong.


Overall: A fine outing although somewhat confusing and less engaging than Christie's best.  Do not begin your exploration of Christie with this.


Cover: Pretty pink although not as pretty as the purple yesterday.  The rackets are also quite important.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Caribbean Mystery

A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
Black Dog & Leventhal, 1964
221 pages
Miss Marple Mystery
4/5 stars

Source: Bought

Summary: Major Palgrave is a typical retired army Britisher who know spends his time sharing the stories of his life.  One day in the Caribbean, he is about to share a photo of a murderer with Miss Marple but he suddenly hides it.  The next day he is dead.  She realizes that something is going on and that she may be the perfect person to solve who did it.

Thoughts: I thought this was a pretty good Marple.  Again she is underestimated by most of the people around her because she is an elderly woman who blathers.  But they are wrong of course and she does figure it all out.  It was very interesting to see the part that rumors played in this novel as they serve to confuse the characters and the reader.

The characters are very colorful: Major Palgrave, Mr Rafiel, the Kendalls, the Prescotts, the Dysons, and the Hillingdons, among others.  Rafiel proves to be an important ally to Miss Marple as they are both on the ball in hunting down the killer before s/he can strike again.  Molly Kendall seemed like such a sweet lady and she was probably one of my favorites.

I did not figure out the murderer but I did figure out part of the mystery (I also did not like that that person was the murderer because I liked him/her).  SPOILER (highlight to read) I guessed that Molly was being gaslighted and she was! END SPOILER

Overall: Fun story although not her best.

Cover: I love the purple!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Last Week was a great reading week:
Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus
Half the Sky by Nicholas D Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn
Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone

This Week:
Three Agatha Christies
Heist Society by Ally Carter

Upcoming:
I'm having a Romance Week where I'll be reading 7 seven romance books I own but never had gotten around to reading.
I have The Book Thief by Markus Zusack and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater around and they are next in the pile.  Additionally I'm getting ready for my Bleak House readalong (see sidebar) and I'm super psyched for Mockingjay. I've preordered it so hopefully my mailbox will have it next Tuesday.

YA: Perfect You

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Simon Pulse, 2008
282 pages
YA; Contemporary
5/5 stars

Source: Own

I'm talking about this as part of the Book Smugglers Young Adult Appreciation Month.

This was my very first Elizabeth Scott book, which I picked up on a whim, a year and a half or so ago before I discovered the book-blogging world.  I fell in love with it and the romance and earlier this year I made my sister read it and she agreed that it was fantastic.

Highlight: The romance; I thought The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols had delicious kissing scenes and tension but this does too.  Will is so infuriating-did you like a boy like that in high school?  I did and it takes me back to some of the giddiness and frustration (said boy did not really like reading nor did he understand my love of reading).  But he's so cute and he does seem to understand Kate in a way that others don't.

Cringe: Her father; everyone is embarrassed by their parents at some point but Kate has more reason than some as her father is somewhat of a profligate who is driving their family's finances in to the ground.

Overall: I think this would be a great introduction to Elizabeth Scott, if you've managed to go without reading some of her fab work (I have since read everything she's published and I'm looking forward to Grace).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone
Philomel Books, 2010
279 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Won an ARC from Khy at Frenetic Reader

Summary: Stephanie lives in Boston with her abusive mother and cowed father.  When her mother walks out on them, her father sends her to friends in California where she has the chance to remake herself.

Thoughts: Honestly I mostly wanted to read this book because the main character's name is Stephanie and I love seeing my name in print.

At about the halfway point, I was not enjoying this but I pushed through and ended up being pleasantly surprised.  The book opens in a confused way as Stephanie huddles in a closet and the reader tries to figure out her family situation.  Basically her mother is an alcoholic who beats her and her father is a loser.  So she is sent to California.

When in California she meets Annie, who seems nice but is quickly revealed as a mean girl in the vein of her father while her mother is rather spineless.  Stephanie tries to navigate this difficult world and eventually sees a chance of escape when a new girl arrives for the mean girl crowd to torment.

I guess I didn't like seeing Stephanie being a coward although she does love to read (woot!)  I liked when she FINALLY started standing up for herself.  Another problem for me was that they were only 14 but sometimes seemed a lot older.  I really do feel more comfortable with 16-18 year old main characters in YA-personal preference!  I'm glad that I got through it but I don't know who I'd recommend it to.

Overall: A satisfying ending that some readers might not reach if they don't want to muddle through mean girl antics.

Cover: It definitely reflects a girl who's desperate to hide herself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fairy Tale Friday

Friday is for Fairytales is a meme hosted by Irena at This Miss Loves to Read. Every Friday, you can choose a fairytale you love, or simply find interesting or haunting, and review it or simply say why you like it so much, or why it has captured your attention. Instead of a fairytale, you can choose a favourite fairytale character and describe him/her and tell us why you like them, or you can simply share an experience connected to a fairytale. Fairytales can be old and modern, written by a known author or anonymous, written down or passed on orally, short or in novel form (like re-writings of fairytales), international or typical for your country alone. In this case, present your country’s fairytale and we can all become acquainted with a new fairytale. So, make a post every Friday that is connected to the world of fairytales, be it a review, a character description or your own fairytale experience. Let’s celebrate fairytales and share our love for them.
I first saw The Swan Princess when I was pretty young. I fell in love with the songs and I enjoyed the romance. Then my sister discovered the film and fell even more in love with it, meaning that I've seen our favorite parts probably at least 100 times. It is based on the Swan Lake story (famously put to music by the great Tchaikovsky) which has many variations, this being one of my favorites. Odette is very pretty, the animal sidekicks are amusing, the villain is quite terrifying in the final battle, and good wins out in the end! Plus it's very quotable: "You should write a book: How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less" "What if Odette doesn't go for the merger? Urge her!" "And with some luck, their marriage may result in lower taxes!" Good stuff.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Half the Sky

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Vintage Books, 2009
254 pages
Non-fiction; Feminism
5/5 stars

Source: Bought (with my first paycheck from my summer job!) because I'd heard good things about it

Summary: Short chapters talk about some of the oppression currently experienced by women such as sex trafficking and maternal mortality and are interspersed with chapters sharing how it's being fought.

Thoughts: My readings of Larsson's books are actually connected as they featured sexual abuse of women and sex traffickers. That was purely accidental on my part but I like that they connect.  Saying that, this was a tough reading week because of the horrible stories shared.

Nearly every page has an example of women being abused and undervalued, which would be almost unbearable if it had not been accompanied by some of the most uplifting stories.  These stories share failures and how they learned from those failures.  Any effort by Westerners to sweep in and radically remake the culture usually failed but talking and listening helped.  Most successful was giving funds directly to determined individuals to help them help themselves.

Something Kristof and WuDunn highlighted was encouraging Western (especially American) students to travel abroad as a volunteer in order to remind them of their own privileges and make them in to activists who can change the world.  I think this is an exciting time for that (rather my) generation.  We have a big problem to confront and if we put our considerable abilities and advantages to it, we could make a big change.

This book made me angry because so-called women's issues are consistently shunted aside as not mattering although it's pretty obvious that getting women involved leads to a stronger economy  and a more successful country; it saves lives and improves the quality of life.  It also inspired me to get involved. 

I want to leave you with the links to some of the websites highlighted in this book and encourage you to check them out.  I've spent some time on them and I'm currently evaluating my finances to see where I can be most helpful (they're all linked so just click through):

Global Giving
Kiva (Possibly familiar to long-time users of hulu)
Givology
Women's eNews
World Pulse
CARE

and not mentioned in the book but my friend shared a petition against sex trafficking which I invite you to sign. Its focus seems to be US but other countries are represented.  I signed it and I've been sharing it with others.

Cover/Title: I love the title, coming from the Chinese proverb "Women hold up half the sky" and I like the mix of faces on the cover although my paperback only has one row with different faces.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Menu For Romance

Menu For Romance by Kaye Dacus
Barbour Publishing, Inc, 2009
317 pages
Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
2nd in Brides of Bonneterre Series
3/5 stars

My review of the first book, Stand-In Groom, which I loved.

Source: Received from netgalley.

Summary: Meredith and Major are busy professionals at her family's company and they've had crushes on each other for years. But neither has ever dared to say anything. This year will be different. Meredith has made a New Year's resolution that she will find a relationship. And while Major doesn't want to saddle any woman with his mother's schizophrenia, he doesn't want to lose Meredith.

Thoughts: I didn't like this book as much as the first one because Meredith and Major are both in love with each other but are too afraid of getting involved because they don't think they're good enough. Plus Major keeps his mother and her mental problems hidden because while he "loves" Meredith, he thinks she would reject him if she knew. That doesn't indicate trust or respect or love to me.

Additionally Major at one point wants her to admit that she loves him even though he doesn't plan to act on it or anything!  I mean on the one hand, he's very old-fashioned chivalrous (sometimes it veers in to patronizing for me) and on the other hand he doesn't trust her at all which does not indicate a strong future for them.  Basically he wants her around for him even though he's not going to do anything about it.  I hate heroes like that!  They don't even deserve the label "hero" in my opinion.  When she finds out, he purposely misunderstands her good heart.  He is a disgusting coward who's ashamed of his mother and is a pathetic excuse for a man.  Eventually they have it all out but it was somewhat unsatisfying.  I don't see them having the future Anne and George will have and I don't really want to hear about them in the next book.

Also the whole John Wayne obsession thing was so played out.  First John Wayne was a right-wing racist nutcase, not someone I want to support.  Second it seemed like his publicist had arranged for all this extra publicity (obviously that's crazy because he's dead but it felt like that).  I was super pissed every time they talked about him.  The Dean Martin craze (and seriously who likes Dean more than Frank?!) in the first book was much less obtrusive.

Heroine: 4.5/5 (Strong, hard-worker, a bit of a mouse when it comes to her family; obviously bad taste in men)
Hero: 1/5 (for his cooking abilities; nothing to do with his interactions with the heroine.)

Overall: Less satisfying romance than the first book but I still love most of the people in Bonneterre.

Cover: Again it has the chopped off head but the fact that Major is a chef and that makes me think of cooking shows which I adore means that I prefer this cover to the first book's cover.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Translated by Reg Keeland
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2009
630 pages
Thriller/Mystery
2nd in Trilogy
4.5/5 stars

Source: My sister bought it after loving Dragon Tattoo

Summary: The exciting sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth has had no contact with Mikael after the successful conclusion of their first investigation together. She has been traveling while he has been working on a new explosive book and article for his magazine Millennium. Soon she is caught up in murder and he has to hunt her down.

Thoughts: Again abuse toward women is a prominent theme. This time there is more of Lisbeth's history and an expose of human traffickers in Sweden. It was terribly depressing to read how the system skipped over these vulnerable women and ignored them. In this case though Millennium is getting involved which ties Lisbeth and Blomkvist back together again.

In the book, they don't really meet although they communicate through Lisbeth's favorite way (computers!) However they are both trying to puzzle out the same thing. One of my favorite things about this book and the previous is how they both solve the mystery despite the fact that they are coming at it from completely different angles and with different knowledge and biases.

I would also classify this more as a mixture of thriller and mystery. Mystery because in thrillers the reader is supposed to know more than characters which was not always the case but definitely still thriller because it was absolutely page-turning. It did take me longer to read (4 days to Tattoo's 2) but that was because I had to work and because it's longer. I don't want to spoil much of the plot

I did not like the end, mostly because it ended with a cliffhanger! I would have liked it more if I had the third book with me and could have started it although who knows if it would have picked up right afterward.

I was just as bothered by the casual attitude toward sexual relationships in this book and possibly even more so because it felt like there was more in the beginning.

Mostly cheers to translator Reg Keeland who had a mammoth task in translating these tomes. One thing I didn't like was, in both books, the usage of variations of "You'll have to seduce me." That makes me think a. of The Graduate and b. what awkward phrasing. I don't think it works in American English although perhaps it's okay in Britain.

Overall: Another gripping thriller from Larsson that ends on a cliffhanger!

Cover: I think I like this cover more with the golden hair shimmering although I don't think Lisbeth's hair is supposed to be that color or length so it may be irrelevant.

Unfortunately we're waiting for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to come out in paperback so I won't be reading it for a while. But I will manage as I have a score of other really interesting books in my pile.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Translated by Reg Keeland
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2008
590 pages
Thriller
1st in trilogy
4.5/5 stars

Source: Bought for everyone in the family to read although so far only my sister and now I have read it.

Summary: Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who's just been convicted of libel. While in disgrace, he is invited by distinguished businessman Henrik Vanger to investigate his niece's disappearance some forty years ago. What happened to Harriet? How did a solid story turn in to libel? Along the way to figuring these out, Blomkvist meets Lisbeth Salander, a decidedly unusual girl who also happens to be the best private investigator he's ever meet.

Thoughts: I didn't know much about this beyond the critical acclaim it's received and the fact that my sister liked it, which is also impressive because she's pretty picky.

Plots: There are three main plots: Blomkvist's life after libel, Lisbeth's history, and the Vangers of whom there are many. They tie together well although it takes a while for that to happen. Some of the Vangers had ties to the Nazis which enabled me to learn a bit about Swedish Nazism; I didn't know much about Nazism outside of Germany/Austria so that was really interesting.

Characters: I mostly liked Lisbeth, except for her vigilante approach to justice although I understand how she formed that opinion. Blomkvist is a bit of a sorry creature who didn't even fight back in his libel suit. The other characters are pretty interesting and two in particular are really terrifying (let's just say they do/have done awful things to Lisbeth and Harriet).

Mystery of Harriet: I was feeling so proud of myself, that I might have come up with some solutions but I was wrong; I think I was trying to be too tricky and instead missed a candidate hiding in plain sight.

Length: Despite the length, this book moves really quickly. I did think it was a little long and there were some details that could have been cut out but overall I was impressed with how quickly I could read this tome.

Quibbles that bothered me but might not bother you: They smoked...a lot; I find that incredibly disgusting. The very casual attitudes toward sexual relationships (Yeah, puritanical American here!); Some language.

You may also have heard that there is a lot of violence toward women, both described in the book and referenced to. I can confirm that that is a big thread throughout the book although I think it's mostly meant to be educative rather than gratuitous. I did however blanch a bit at some scenes because I mostly read and watch lighter fare and am unused to such violence.

Overall: Page-turning thriller; Recommended for adults.

Cover: I quite like this cover; I'm not actually a fan of the covers that show a girl's back with a dragon tattoo-it's too literal.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Reviewed Last Week:
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Thud by Terry Pratchett
Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus
Kiss Me Deadly ed. Trisha Telep

Upcoming This Week:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Menu For Romance by Kaye Dacus
Half the Sky by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Currently Reading:
A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie and a few other Christies
A Case For Love by Kaye Dacus

Count of Monte Cristo (Film)

The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002
Starring Jim Caviezel as Edmond Dantes; Guy Pearce as Fernand Mondego; and Richard Harris as Abbe Farias
4/5 stars

Summary: Based on the classic revenge tale by Alexandre Dumas, peres, this film adapts and changes the story to create a new story loosely using the characters from the book.

Thoughts: I just read this last year when I was studying abroad. It was slow while he was imprisoned but once he got out and started wreaking havoc on those who had wronged him, it sped by.

They changed a lot for this film, like the ending for one. It was enjoyable (I have a bit of a crush on Guy Pearce) but that change was especially bewildering. I realize they can't fit the whole 1300 page novel in to a two-hour film; heck they couldn't fit the 600 page abridged version I read in to a two-hour film. But they didn't have to make all the changes that they did. Of course I did like this ending, being that it is the more traditional happily ever after unlike the book but it differs from the author's intention.

Overall: Feel free to watch this but also read the book!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Appointment with Death (Film)

Appointment with Death, 2008
Based on Agatha Christie's book
Starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, Tim Curry as Lord Boynton, and Christina Cole as Sarah

I actually reviewed this book here-I mostly liked it!

Thoughts: They changed a lot! I wasn't even sure I had read this book because of all the differences. First the family structure is changed. No longer is it a widow reigning over her children; she is still married and to a British Lord played by Tim Curry. Then the children are changed; I mean basically everything is changed. I personally didn't like those changes. Agatha Christie wrote carefully constructed mysteries and yet the screenwriters felt the need to fiddle around with it?!

NOT RECOMMENDED!

Friday, August 6, 2010

NPR's Top 100 Thrillers

NPR released a list of the Top 100 Thrillers recently. I have read a few and I'm surprised how many have been made in to films! Check it out!

Bold I've read, italicized I want to read soon

1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (seen the movie)
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (review next week)
3. Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
4. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
6. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
7. The Shining by Stephen King (seen the movie)
8. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
9. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy (seen the movie though)

10. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

11. Dracula by Bram Stoker
12. The Stand by Stephen King
13. The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver
14. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (and seen film)
15. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
16. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
17. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
18. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
19. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
20. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (and seen film)

21. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
22. It by Stephen King
23. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (Seen the 2002 film)
24. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
25. Jaws by Peter Benchley (Seen the film)
26. The Alienist by Caleb Carr
27. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
28. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
29. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (seen film)
30. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

31. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
32. Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane
33. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
34. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
35. Subterranean by James Rollins
36. Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
37. Salem's Lot by Stephen King
38. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
39. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre
40. The Poet by Michael Connelly

41. The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
42. Cape Fear by John MacDonald
43. The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
44. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
45. Dead Zone by Stephen King
46. The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
47. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
48. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
49. Tell No One by Harlan Coben
50. Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn

51. The 39 Steps by John Buchan (seen two film versions)
52. Blowback by Brad Thor
53. The Children of Men by PD James (Tried to read, didn't like; saw the film, didn't like)
54. 61 Hours by Lee Child
55. Marathon Man by William Goldman
56. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
57. 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
58. Psycho by Robert Bloch (seen film)
59. The Killing Floor by Lee Child
60. Rules of Prey by John Sandford

61. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
62. In the Woods by Tana french
63. Shogun by James Clavell
64. The Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
65. Intensity by Dean Koontz
66. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (seen film of same title)
67. Metzger's Dog by Thomas Perry
68. Timeline by Michael Crichton
69. Contact by Carl Sagan
70. What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

71. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
72. The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
73. Charm School by Nelson DeMille
74. Feed by Mira Grant
75. Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
76. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
77. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
78. The First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
79. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
80. The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell

81. Primal Fear by William Diehl
82. The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
82. The Hard Way by Lee Child (tie)
84. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
85. Six Days of the Condor by James Grady
86. Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
87. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (seen the movie)
88. The Eight by Katherine Neville
89. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
90. Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

91. Bangkok 8 by John Burdett
92. The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
93. Hardball by Sara Paretsky
94. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
95. The Deep Blue Good-by by John MacDonald
96. The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais
96. Berlin Game by Len Deighton (tie)
98. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith
99. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
100. Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

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