Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Divine Justice, by David Baldacci

Lukewarm thriller. This is a less than satisfying entry into the Baldacci's wildly popular Camel Club series. It had a lot of distracting subplots set in rural Divine, Virginia, and a kind of unsatisfying end. The kind of book you might buy at the airport and leave on the plane when it was done.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, by Lizzie Skurnik

I loved her Fine Lines column on, and had been excited about this book, but it seems that a. lots of it I had read already, as it was posted, and b. small doses, you know what I mean?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What I Saw And How I Lied, by Judy Blundell

FANTASTIC historical YA. Set in 1947, 15 year old Evelyn is taken on an impromptu trip to Palm Beach, Florida by her mother and stepfather. There, she falls in love, learns about racial and religious segregation, and learns that much of her life has been built on a foundation of lies. The way she handles this is wonderful, an awesome example of a person recognizing shades of gray in morality, and the conclusion was immensely satisfying. The clothes and cars and material ambition of the post-war era were beautifully depicted. This was wonderfully written, and may be the best YA I've read this year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan

Flawed post-apocalyptic zombie YA. Interesting, but too many holes in the plot, not enough background, and unsatisfying ending. Pretty gross, though, if that's a plus.

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

Well. This was, of course, long. But, the thing is, I had read another translation many and many a moon ago, and had thought I enjoyed it. I'm not sure if the difference is the translation (and if I have to read it again to figure it out, it may never happen) but I did not enjoy this much.
Pierre is an idiot, Andrei insufferable, Natasha is ok, I guess, Helene and Dolokhov were the only interesting characters, so of course aren't around much, and Nikolai was a swine to do what he did.
Too long, too many rants about philosophy and politics, too detailed with the battles, all in all, not a fun summer read.

Swan for the Money, by Donna Andrews

Another fun, fast paced funny Meg Langslow mystery. Not a whole lot more to say about that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Flood, by Stephen Baxter

Post apocalyptic dystopia, but was sadly disappointing as the science behind the flooding seemed sketch at best. Undersea pockets of frozen ocean are released, resulting in rapid and catastrophic flooding, and a group of characters, who bonded while living as hostages with various Spanish breakaway groups are the focus of the plot. Some interesting ideas, some good scenes, but nothing really spectacular. Save this for when you need something mindless and disastery.

Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters

Well, after Sarah Waters ghost story The Little Stranger was placed on the long list for the Booker prize, to my surprise, I decided I had to find out what all this was about, so went ahead and read this one. 1998, and it is a hell of a good book, if surprisingly bawdy and explicit. Nan's life, from an oyster girl in Victorian Whitstable, to her days on the music hall stage, to her time as a kept girl of a wealthy woman of varied and unusual tastes, was extraordinary reading, and I understand why she has the reputation as a writer that she does. I still don't see nominating The Little Stranger as one of the 13 best books of the year, but if there's any taking into account other works by the same writer, she should certainly win something, at any rate.
Man Booker Prize Long List
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
Summertime by J.M Coetzee
The Quickening Time by Adam Foulds
How to Paint A Dead Man by Sarah Hall
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
Me Cheeta by James Lever
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
Not Untrue and Not Unkind by Ed O'Loughlin
Helopolis by James Scudamore
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Love and Summer by William Trevor

The Maggody Militia, by Joan Hess

As usual, very funny Joan Hess Maggody book. Read it before, will probably read it again, to be honest.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson

Wonderful, again. This was so good, and I'm half in love with both Blomquist and Salander.
Sequel to the amazing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, this was violent, dramatic, political, dealt with gender issues and human trafficking and commercialized sexuality, has interesting and well developed characters, and I CANNOT WAIT for the third (and final, presumably, unless that story about the laptop with the last book on it is true) book in the Millenium trilogy.

Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella

As always, fun. I wonder how much longer she will keep the Madeleine Wickham and the Sophie Kinsella writing separate- I think this very much blurred the line, as did The Wedding Girl. I had thought that she was keeping the Wickham for more kind of lit-fic style writing, and Kinsella for the sex+shoes kind of writing, but both The Wedding Girl and Twenties Girl had the same kind of Katie Fforde went to London vibe, and it seems silly almost to keep the brands separate. Just saying.
Anyway, this was great fun, for what it is.

The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams

Good YA- set within a religious compound much like the Warren Jeffs thing- 14 year old Kyra risks getting her entire family in serious trouble if she refuses to marry her much older uncle. Well written issue book.

Born Again Vintage, by Bridgett Artise

Seriously useless how-to-combine-ugly-clothes-into-even-uglier-clothes how to book. Wow.

Exclusively Chloe, by J.A. Yang

Pretty bad YA, but with an interesting premise. The Chinese born adopted daughter of married movie stars wants to find out about her birth family, which could have made for a pretty great book, but it went another way.