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Friday, April 29, 2011

Then We Came To An End by Joshua Ferris

Title: Then We Came To An End
Author: Joshua Ferris
Publisher: Back Bay Books/ Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "For anyone who has ever worked in an office, hating everything and everyone in it, yet fell apart when it was time to leave -- this book is for you. Heartbreaking, yet hysterically funny, Then We Came to the End is the definitive novel about the contemporary American workplace. 

With an irresistibly casual writing style, Ferris makes readers a part of his fictional advertising agency from the moment we open the book. Through numerous impromptu conversations, colleagues come alive. We learn that Larry and Amber have had an affair, and that Amber is pregnant. We know that Chris Yop is panicking because he exchanged his office chair without permission, and that Joe Pope is universally despised because he got promoted and now everyone has to listen to him. No one likes Karen Woo because she's always trying to seem smarter than everyone else. And the head boss, Lynn, has cancer, but she doesn't want anyone to know. We understand that the agency is in trouble, and that the unstable Tom Mota is being laid off. We realize that anyone could be next. And we're dying to know what's going to happen.
 "

My Two Cents:

No, we are not dying to know what's going to happen. In my last review post (for Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading), I was talking about how nice it is to be able to see yourself somehow in the books you read. And while I definitely saw myself in Then We Came To An End, it wasn't particularly pleasant. When I graduated college, I was lucky enough to come right into a job. It was a typical office job and when I started, the office was beginning a major transition and was plagued with rumors like the office in the book. So many of the rumors got out of hand in my office and I wasn't and am not particularly interested in re-living the rumors through a book.

At first, the book moved along nicely and then it seemed to get bogged down by all of the characters and their minor issues (that seem to get blown out of proportion). If nothing else, Ferris does capture the reality of so many offices, I'm just not sure there needed to be a book about it.

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Booking Through Thursday


This week, Booking Through Thursday asks  "If you could see one book turned into the perfect movie–one that would capture everything you love, the characters, the look, the feel, the story–what book would you choose?"

Hrm, this is a hard one. I have a fear of books made into movies. Books tend to be a lot more detailed than movies are although there are some pretty good movie adaptations out there. They can be done very well! I still can't get Juliet by Anne Fortier out of my head. I'd love to see that book made into a movie. It has intrigue, mystery, good characters and it has Italy. Oh yes, Italy! And the food, the amazing and wonderful food. Juliet would make a wonderful movie that could make you laugh, cry, and sit at the very edge of your seat during the twists and turns. My favorite kinds of movies are the ones that can deliver you to different emotions. They truly move!

What book would you like to see turned into a movie?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Library Loot: April 27 - May 3


Guys, I'm really trying to limit my library rentals. I have an embarrassing number of books that I own that have yet to be read (do any of you have that problem? Please let me not be alone). It's getting out of hand. My new rule for the past few weeks is that if I really want a book from the library, I can put it on hold at the library and go pick it up when it comes in. When I go to the library, I limit what areas I can look at so I don't go buckwild with library rentals. But like a moth to the flame, I find myself picking up a few extra books. I'm an addict, baby.

Oh yeah, and when I was at the library, I also discovered that they are having one of their semi-annual book sales on Saturday. The Husband will be out of town so I will be unsupervised at a book sale (he often has to be my voice of reason at events like this). This could be utterly dangerous, friends.

Anyhow, here's my pull for this week:





What did you get from the library this week?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan

Title: Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading
Author: Maureen Corrigan
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: “It’s not that I don’t like people,” writes Maureen Corrigan in her introduction to Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. “It’s just that there always comes a moment when I’m in the company of others—even my nearest and dearest—when I’d rather be reading a book.” In this delightful memoir, Corrigan reveals which books and authors have shaped her own life—from classic works of English literature to hard-boiled detective novels, and everything in between. And in her explorations of the heroes and heroines throughout literary history, Corrigan’s love for a good story shines

My Two Cents: 

If you're reading my blog, you're probably a reader. Maureen Corrigan has been a lifelong reader who now reviews books for NPR's Fresh Air. She uses books to move through life. When she was going through the trials and tribulations that can so many times be college and grad school, she had her favorite books by her side. When she went through an overseas adoption process, she had other books to lead the way. I found myself saying, "Wow, this sounds like me!"

Some of the book meanders a little bit. She covers a couple themes in the books that she's come across (i.e. the female adventure story). They were interesting but just didn't really seem to fit into the overall theme of the book, which is why I'm not giving the book more stars. I thought some of the meandering took away from the overall book.

Bottom line, as a reader, I definitely enjoyed this book. I always appreciate when I can see myself in the book and really identify with the book.

My Review:
3 of 5 stars

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Here's what I'm reading now:

Up Next:





What are you reading this week?

Zara Phillips by Brian Hoey

Title: Zara Phillips
Author: Brian Hoey
Source: Library

What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Zara Phillips' story is definitely not rags-to-riches. Instead it is a fascinating tale of determination, the search for independence, and the will to succeed on her own merit. As the only daughter of Princess Anne and with a reputation as a rebel Royal for her tongue-piercing, sense of style, and controversial love life, Zara has long been the subject of public attention. But while her Royal lineage has ensured she is never far from the public eye, her success as a sportswoman received little attention until she was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2006 after winning the Gold Medal at the equestrian World Championships. This book looks beyond the public image to reveal the real Zara. It charts her childhood, including her parents' divorce and her mother's subsequent remarriage, her school years, and her relationships with other members of the Royal family, including Prince William, as well as her personal life and her rise to the top of her chosen sport. With original anecdotes from those who really know Zara, quotes from contemporaries in the equestrian world, and comments from fashion experts, this book is a revealing look at life as a young royal and champion sportswoman."

My Two Cents:
So I have to confess that I'm suffering from an acute case of Royal Wedding fever this week. My Easter basket was filled with all sorts of Will and Kate related goodies on Sunday from my parents as my mother especially seems to understand or at least tolerate my love for all things royal. But did you know that there is going to be another Royal Wedding this year? The Princess Royal's daughter, Zara Phillips (who also is William's cousin) is getting married to a rugby player later this summer.

I don't know much about Zara so I decided to pick this book up from the local library. It's definitely a fluffy, gossipy book (and okay, admittedly I do like that sometimes). It was entertaining but don't pick it up if you are looking for something particularly insightful. This book draws a lot of interviews with people who know Zara or know of Zara as well as a heady dose of hearsay. I did enjoy the book. It's interesting that Zara has become so accomplished in her equestrian pursuits and really cool to see the Royal family allowing her to do so.

The bottom line is that this book is fun but not much more than that.

My rating:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Title: Juliet
Author: Anne Fortier
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
  
This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
  
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?"

My Two Cents:

Guys, this book! Oh this book! You need to read it! Take a little bit of family drama, a centuries old mystery, a classic tale of love and Italy (oh yes, Italy) and you have a great read!!! Now I have to admit that I'm partial to books set in Italy (I went there for my honeymoon last September and before that, I dreamed and dreamed of going). I found myself wishing that I were reading this book in a sunny piazza while sipping on an espresso laced drink while munching on Crostini. Alas, I was still here in the States but this book at least made me feel as if I could at least pretend I was in Italy.

This book has it all. Usually I don't care for mysteries because I can usually figure out what's going on long before the end of the book and then I just get bored with the book. If I do happen to pick up a mystery book, I usually will not read it again once I've read it for the first time as the surprises in the book have already been spoiled. However, Juliet I would read again and again. In fact, I think I might need to buy a copy of the book for my own collection.

Julie is a cool character. She's kind of floating through life and doesn't really know where she wants to go or what she wants to do with her life. The key she is given after her aunt's death changes all of that. It was definitely cool to see her grow as a character throughout the book.

The only reason that I'm not giving the book all five stars (I give it 4.5) is that I felt like there were a few plot holes here and there that I really would have liked answered but I really don't think that the holes take away too much from the overall story.

Memorable Quotes:

   " 'But he is an Italian,' was Umberto's sensible reply. 'He doesn't care if you break some law a little bit, as long as you wear beautiful shoes. Are you wearing beautiful shoes? Are you wearing the shoes I gave you?... Principessa?
   I looked down at my flip-flops. 'I guess I'm toast.' "

My Rating:


4.5 out of 5 stars







Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Blogger Hop


This week's question: "If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?"

Yes, yes and yes!!! Once I find a book that I love, I have a tendency to want to read everything else by that particular author. For instance, I recently read Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran after having read nothing else by her. I then went out and bought all of her other books! 

If I love an author's idea in one book, I almost always want more right away!

What about you?


Library Loot April 20 - April 24


"Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library."

Here's my pull for this week:

 

What did you get from the library this week?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Booking Through Thursday


This week Booking Through Thursday asks: CAN you judge a book by its cover? 


Oh man, that's kind of a hard question. I want to say that that I don't judge a book by its cover but I do. I think that a lot of my judgement comes from worrying about what people will think if I'm carrying a book with a ridiculous cover. I do a lot of my reading on public transportation and I can only imagine how self-conscious I'd be if I brought a book with something like heavily heaving bosoms on it. It might be a little bit too much for an early morning ride on the Metro.

What about you? Do you judge a book by its cover?

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Linger 
Author: Maggie Stiefvater 
Source: Library 

What's the Story?: 

"In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole." 

My two cents: 

This is the second installation of the tales of The Wolves of Mercy Falls. Grace is slowly coming to terms with a lot of things going on in her life. She finally starts speaking out against her absentee parents who forbid her to see Sam after they catch Sam sleeping over. She's also going through other changes that she doesn't quite understand yet. Sam is coming to terms with being the only one of his kind around when Cole, a rocker who was turned into a werewolf. Isabel, who lost her brother to the wolves, finds herself majorly attracted to Cole. 

I did like this book but found some parts a little longer than they needed to be. There doesn't seem to be a lot of big action. The characters simply seem to be moving towards their destinies. I almost wished that there was something more. I will definitely read the third book in the series just to see how things end (don't you feel like sometimes you have to do that with series?). 

My Review: 

3 out of 5 stars 





Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?


Hosted by Book Journey


What I'm reading right now: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

What I'm hoping to read this week:
- Juliet by Anne Fortier
- Zara Phillips by Brian Hoey (This is in prep for all things royal next week)

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Top 5 Sundays (1)


This week Top 5 Sundays asks about what paranormal powers would we like to have?


This is a meme from Larissa's Life
Rules:
  1. Write a post listing your TOP 5 choices within the theme I chose (or was chosen on a poll) for the week.
  2. Mention this Blog on the post and link back to it.
  3. Fell free to use the Feature's image (there is a smaller size version of it bellow)
  4. After you've finished your post, add you link (of the post, not your blog's main page) to the Mr.Linky at the end of that week's post.
  5. If you don’t have a blog to post, just leave your list in the comments =)



This is kind of hard! Wouldn't it be nice to have a magic power?

1. Extra Sensory Power (ESP)


Wouldn't this power be fun? I wouldn't be much fun to play cards with anymore.


2. Super Speed


Just think of everything that I could do with this power. I'd use my power for cleaning and reading mostly :)


3. Precognition


Knowing things before they happen would be awesome. Just think, I could play the lottery and win all the time (that would be fantastic but a little unethical). The downside to having precognition would be knowing all of the sad stuff that will happen. I wonder if I could pick and choose what I would want to know about?


4. Flying


This would be fantastic. No more sitting in traffic or sitting on the Metro for me anymore!


5. Invisibility


I'm not really sure what I would use invisibility for but it would just be way cool.

So, what powers would you want? Let me know in the comments!

Even Silence has an End

Title: Even Silence has an End
Author: Ingrid Betancourt
Source: Library


What's the story?:


From Goodreads: "Born in Bogotá, raised in France, Ingrid Betancourt at the age of thirty-two gave up a life of comfort and safety to return to Colombia to become a political leader in a country that was being slowly destroyed by terrorism, violence, fear, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness. In 2002, while campaigning as a candidate in the Colombian presidential elections, she was abducted by the FARC. Nothing could have prepared her for what came next. She would spend the next six and a half years in the depths of the jungle as a prisoner of the FARC. Even Silence Has an End is her deeply personal and moving account of that time. Chained day and night for much of her captivity, she never stopped dreaming of escape and, in fact, succeeded in getting away several times, always to be recaptured. In her most successful effort she and a fellow captive survived a week away, but were caught when her companion became desperately ill; she learned later that they had been mere miles from freedom.


The facts of her story are astounding, but it is Betancourt's indomitable spirit that drives this very special account, bringing life, nuance, and profundity to the narrative. Attending as intimately to the landscape of her mind as she does to the events of her capture and captivity, Even Silence Has an End is a meditation on the very stuff of life-fear and freedom, hope and what inspires it. Betancourt tracks her metamorphosis, sharing how in the routines she established for herself-listening to her mother and two children broadcast to her over the radio, daily prayer-she was able to do the unthinkable: to move through the pain of the moment and find a place of serenity."


Picture of Ingrid Betancourt


My two cents:

I can't imagine that I would do well if I were captured. I would be absolutely terrified and I could see myself losing hope quickly. You have to give Betancourt credit; she never really seems to lose hope even after all of her escape attempts. She becomes a sort-of cheerleader for the other prisoners that she is with. Their captors go back and forth between being kind and being harsh and the prisoners never really knew what to expect. Because Betancourt represented the government establishment being a presidential candidate, she is often singled out in her treatment yet she perseveres.

As a book lover, I really liked the part where the prisoners have the opportunity to share a box of books. They only have two weeks to read the books before they have to give them back. The prisoners dive into the books and the books really provide an escape from the fear, terror and even boredom that came from being in captivity.

My only criticism of the book is that sometimes the book moved a little slowly but all in all, this book is definitely an amazing account of hope and resilience.

My Rating:


3 out of 5 stars



Friday, April 15, 2011

Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Love Ancient Rome?

You might be interested in the giveaway going on over at The Maiden's Court!

Link

The Uglies Trilogy & Extras by Scott Westerfeld

This review will be a little bit different from the other few that I've done so far. I decided to review all four of the books in the Uglies series so it'll be like you all are getting 4 book reviews for the price of one. Lucky!

The books include:
Overview of the trilogies:

Tally Youngblood lives in a world where at age 16, all citizens of her city go through surgery to make them pretty, perfect, and attractive. The idea being that it is supposed to take care of some of the inequality that was felt when people came in all flavors. Is this a utopia or is it simply a science experiment?

Tally escapes with her best friend, Shay and discovers that it really may all be a science experiment after meeting the people of the Smoke, a place where Pretty-ism hasn't taken place. Tally eventually returns to her city with the understanding that she will try a cure.

After Tally is "Pretty," she tries the cure with mixed results but discovers that she has it within herself to change her mind. Meanwhile Shay has found another way to cope by cutting herself. Eventually the evil Dr. Cable figures out what's going on and turns Shay and subsequently Tally into one of the elite Specials, beings meant to keep the peace of the cities. Tally is eventually able to bring on the mind rain, showing all of the citizens how to break free of the mental chains that Pretty-ness creates. Tally remains a Special to keep watch over the cities in this new era of freedom.

Overview of Extras:

3 years after the mind rain, Aya Fuse is one of the Extras in this brave new world. Extras basically have to make their own way in the world. Aya lives in a Japanese city run on the reputation economy. Whoever is most popular wins. All Aya wants is to be famous like her brother so she goes looking for an amazing story that she will hope will boost her popularity. She falls in with the so called Sly Girls and learns how to ride the Mag Lev trains. Aya thinks that alone could make a story for her until she discovers something bigger and fantastically dangerous that could change the entire world. Tally Youngblood returns to put things right.

My two cents:

I liked this series a lot. It's an interesting concept, particularly for a young adult series. I think many of us at one point or another in our lives has thought if I only could change my weight/height/face/hair/[insert other thing] then my life would visit. This series looks at what world wher you have the ability to change that could possibly look like. It's a little creepy.

Out of all of the books, I think Extras was probably my favorite. A lot of times in books and series, you don't get to really see how everything ends or where your favorite characters end up. In a lot of ways, Extras plays that extra chapter to the whole series. You get to see what happens to Tally after she changes the world. I thought the book tied up all of the loose ends and answered all of the questions that I had at the end of Specials.

Overall, I think Westerfeld does a great job with showing the reader what this strange world that Tally and Aya and the other characters live in (I really want to see what those Mag Lev trains look like!). It's a great series of books and definitely a fun, sort of light read.

And can we just talk about the covers for a sec? I love these covers! In the first three, you can follow Tally's transition from Ugly to Pretty to Special. Extras shows Aya as she is. I thought it was a nice visual but didn't give too much away.

Source:

I got this entire series from the library!

My Review:

3.5 out of 5 stars





Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For the Love of Libraries

I do own a lot of books but that doesn't stop me from making frequent visits to my local library. Frankly, the library prevents me from living in a cardboard box with all of the books I would have to own if there were no such thing as public libraries. I'm probably there about once every other week, sometimes more. My library is only a little over a mile away from where I live so it's a nice short walk. I've been really impressed with my city's public library system. I have come across very few books that I'm not able to get at the library. If I find a book I want at another branch, I simply put in a request online and the book is magically transported to my local library. It's like having a personal bookstore where everything is free!

I understand there are others out there who do not have such a profound love for libraries. This article may be appropriate for you. Maybe you'll see the light ;)

Where do you usually get your books? Library or buy?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop


Yay! This is my first time participating in the Book Blogger Hop so welcome!

This week's question is: "Outside of books, what is your guilty pleasure?"
Hrm, I would probably have to go with bubble baths. I take probably close to 3 each week. It's the perfect way to collect myself and re-center a little bit after a long day. I usually take a cup of tea with me to drink while I'm in the bath (if it's been a particularly bad day, it's a glass of wine). I've perfected the ability to read in the bath without getting my book wet as well (a total added bonus and an even better way to relax). I always come out of the bath feeling perfectly relaxed. My husband always thinks it's a bit weird how long I can stay in the bath just hanging out.

So what's your guilty pleasure? Let me know if you answer!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

What's the story?:

From Goodreads: "In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.

But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time.

His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside.

But Camille had her own demons – secrets that Monet could never penetrate, including one that when eventually revealed would pain him so deeply that he would never fully recover from its impact. For though Camille never once stopped loving the painter with her entire being, she was not immune to the loneliness that often came with being his partner.

A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement, Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order."



The Poppy Field by Claude Monet


My two cents:

I have always been fascinated by the Impressionist artists and Claude Monet is among my favorite artists. I didn't know much about his life and typically when I hear about Monet, I think of the great bearded artist in his latter years and not Monet as a young man.

It was really cool to see Monet as young man just starting out in his famous art career. It's so easy to look at great artists and only look at the art but not who they are as people. Even though Claude and Camille is a fictional book, I still think it shed a lot of light on who Claude Monet was as a person. It's hard to imagine that he had to struggle for so long in order to become recognized when his paintings are now recognized the world over.



Claude Monet in his latter years.

The relationship between Claude and Camille is interesting. Camille becomes Claude's greatest muse and greatest supporter while still remaining a mystery to him in many ways. She seems to never be truly comfortable in her life with Monet. She can't give up her metropolitan city life for provincial life no matter how hard she tries. Their relationship is often tumultuous and negatively affects both Claude and Camille and their two children but you can see how they could be in love. You also can see how after Claude loses Camille, he is almost haunted by her for the rest of her life.

This is really a great book for anyone who loves an epic love story or anyone interested in art!

Mode of receipt:

I picked this book up from the library.

My rating:

4 out of 5 stars




Have you read this book? What did you think?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Passages to the Past Giveaway!!!

Looking for a giveaway? Go visit Passages to the Past for a chance to win a copy of Finding Emilie by Laurel Corona!!!

Passages to the Past: Guest Post by Laurel Corona, author of Finding Emi...: "I became a fan of Laurel Corona's when I read her novel, Penelope's Daughter last year and so when the opportunity came to me to host Laurel..."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Great House by Nicole Krauss

What's the story?

From Goodreads.com:

"For twenty-five years, a solitary American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's secret police; one day a girl claiming to be his daughter arrives to take it away, sending her life reeling. Across the ocean in London, a man discovers a terrifying secret about his wife of almost fifty years. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer is slowly reassembling his father's Budapest study, plundered by the Nazis in 1944.

These worlds are anchored by a desk of enormous dimension and many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or give it away. In the minds of those it has belonged to, the desk comes to stand for all that has disappeared in the chaos of the world-children, parents, whole peoples and civilizations. Nicole Krauss has written a hauntingly powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss."

My two cents:

This book was a little hard to put all of the pieces together. The book is told from several points of view and sometimes I found it difficult to put the pieces together and figure out where each person fit in. Once I did, it was really a gorgeous novel. I did wonder if the mystery surrounding each person didn't take away a little bit from the overall story.

I read Krauss' History of Love several years ago and was mesmerized by the writing. It was no different in Great House.

Here are two of my favorite passages:

"He went on for sometime while I sat listening in silence because I knew he was right, and like two people who have loved each other however imperfectly, who have lived side by side and watched the wrinkles slowly form at the corner of the other's eyes, and watched a little drop of gray, as if poured from a jug, drop into the other's skin and spread itself evenly, listening to the other's coughs and sneezes and collected mumblings, like two people who'd had one idea together and slowly allowed that idea to be replaced with two separate, less hopeful, less ambitious ideas, we spoke deep into the night, and the next night and the next night. For forty days and forty nights, I want to say, but the fact of the matter is it only took three. One of us had loved the other more perfectly, had watched the other more closely, and one of us listened and the other hadn't, and one of us held onto the ambition of the one idea for longer than was reasonable, where as the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away."
- From p. 38-39

"I hadn't thought about it until just now, but the night Daniel rang our bell in the winter of 1970 was the end of November, the same time of year she died 27 years later. I don't know what that's supposed to tell you; nothing, except that we take comfort in the symmetries we find in life because they suggest a design where there is none."
- From p. 82-83

My Rating:


3 out of 5 stars



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

What's the story?:

Madame Tussaud's name is now synonymous with the famous wax museums located around the world. The real Madame Marie Tussaud lived during the French Revolution, a truly tumultuous time. She started out making wax figures and busts of the famous people of the day. She befriends many of the well to do in Paris, including the royal family. When talk of revolution comes to France, she is in a prime position to walk the tightrope between the Monarchists and the so-called Third Estate. She keeps her family safe and fed by continuing to make wax figures for the people who are in favor at the time. When revolution hits Paris, she is forced to participate by making figures of the dead even though her own life is very much in danger.

My two cents:

Frankly, I didn't know that there was really a Madame Tussaud! I've been to the museum in NYC but kind of thought that the name was made up. This book is truly a book about survival and doing what one needs to do in order to ensure that survival. Madame Tussaud is a very strong female character especially for the time period when it was quite uncommon for women to have a career. Although the salon where Madame Tussaud shows her wax figures is owned by her uncle, she still truly makes a career out of it even thought it's not a social norm for the time.

Another interesting part of the story is how Madame Tussaud is able to move between the lower and upper class in such a stratified society. She becomes great friends with the King's sister through showing her the art of making wax figures. However, she is still friends with many of the revolutionaries that are trying to bring the monarchy down and often resort to gross lies in order to defame the monarchy. Marie understands the need of being on the "right side of history" as well as how difficult self-preservation can be to obtain.

She is a very full and well-written character. This is the first one of Michelle Moran's books that I have read but I will definitely be reading the others of her books (which are all set in Ancient Egypt, as an aside) and I really liked her style of writing. It kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting to read what happened next.

My Rating:

4.5 out of 5 stars


Have you read this book?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

What's the story?:
 
Elizabeth Gilbert is through with marriage after having a very messy divorce. When she meets Felipe, she and he promise not to get married in order to stave off heartache. When Felipe is turned away from the American border after running into vague rules on how often a foreign national can enter and exit the country, he and Elizabeth realize that in order to be together in the U.S. like they want to, they have to get married. While waiting for Felipe's paperwork to be finished, they make a temporary home in Southeast Asia where Elizabeth begins researching the institution of marriage. The book is filled with small tidbits and antidotes about marriage and is not meant to be used as a research book by any stretch of the imagination. The stories and antidotes are interesting and pretty entertaining.

My two cents:

I picked this book up after seeing it discussed on one of my favorite relationship type blogs, A Practical Wedding. I thought the point of the book, which was weddings are steeped in tradition but basically it is what the two people in the relationship make of it, is a good one. This would have been a good book to read before my own wedding last year. So why not give it 4 or 5 stars? Well, I found myself saying "Just get over yourself" a lot. Getting married is a big deal but the author is not the only one that has ever gotten married before. Every couple has to make these decisions and they are huge and life changing but they are not impossible choices. I found the book to be a little over dramatic at times.

I've been married for about 6 months now so my own wedding is still in the very near past for me. I can't say that I was a typical bride. I didn't get too stressed about the wedding. I loved my husband, then fiance dearly and knew I wanted to be with him forever, whatever that forever might mean. It was a serious commitment but I never really found myself over thinking it as I felt that Gilbert did in Committed. Still, it's a very interesting read for anyone in a relationship of any kind, no matter what stage it is in.


My rating:

 3 out of 5 stars

Friday, April 1, 2011

Eve: A Novel of the First Woman by Elissa Elliott

What's the story?:

This book tells the story of Eve (as in the Eve from Adam and Eve) and her family. Interestingly, it is told from the point of view of Eve and her daughters: Naava, Aya and Dara and not her more biblically well known sons, Cain and Abel. Each chapter is in a different voice. One thing I noticed is that Eve, Aya, and Dara's chapters are written in first person while Naava's chapters are in third person. It's sort of an interesting literary device. We found out through Eve's chapters how she and Adam were cast out of the Garden. The book details the family's new existence in an unknown world trying to live with strangers who worship multiple gods. Aya was definitely my favorite character in the book. She is crippled and back then, that was definitely looked down upon but she makes her way through life becoming the cook and the sort of alchemist for her family. She was a very cool character.

My two cents:

Usually when you hear about Adam and Eve, it's typically stories from when they were in the Garden. I really enjoyed hearing a different story about them and their family. I liked the writing in the book but the story really just meanders and doesn't go much of anywhere. I thought that the storyline with the strangers was going to be a little more of a big part of the book but the author doesn't give much service to that story arc. I also thought that the fight between Cain and Abel was going to play a more prominent role but it only factors in a little bit towards the end of the book.

I was really torn on whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I liked it and it was nice to read sort of historical fiction set that far back in time. The book was also a little reminiscent of The Red Tent, which is one of my favorites. As I said, the writing was really good. I just thought that the plot or even the point of the book could have been a little more well defined. In the end, I decided that the writing was worthy of the 4th star.

My rating:

4 out of 5 stars

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