Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Wrap Up

I think I should integrate What I Read into my main blog. So that will happen eventually.

Currently reading:

The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small

I read an article by the author on the Religion page of the Huffington Post. I liked it. At the end he plugged his novel so I downloaded the sample and then the whole book (kindle version $8.99). So far the style is kind of copy-cat Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code) but it's good. I love a little historical context interwoven into a mystery novel. I'm only at 27% so full review to come...

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

This is an important book. It makes me want to get off my ass and do something.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky books were $0 on Kindle so I downloaded this one. I am having some difficulty getting into it.

Now onto whatiread:

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I liked this story. I didn't know much about the Japanese internment during WWII and I still don't but this story sheds a little light on it through the eyes of a Chinese boy (and then old man, looking back) who falls in love with a Japanese girl. Thumbs up.

The Abbey by Chris Culver

This was a Kindle Single. I think that just means it's 99 cents. It was ok. It was a crime novel. Not super exciting.

Now You See Her by James Patterson

This was my first foray into James Patterson. I may have waited too long to do the review because I am getting mixed up between this story and the only Nicholas Sparks book I've read (Safe Haven). Same deal where a girl is hiding from her past (an abusive husband). Safe Haven had a good twist. Now You See Her was entertaining.

The Shack by William P. Young

This was on my bookshelf. It came over from the move out of my mom's house. This is a book she recommends. It's a tad churchy for my taste but I still enjoyed it on some level. It was interesting.
The premise is that after a man's daughter is kidnapped and murdered he receives an invitation to spend the weekend at the shack (where the assualt took place) with God.
Interesting fact, in the midst of reading The Shack, I walked into my room to find that my Precious Moments Bible (I was raised Catholic and this was a first communion gift from my Grandparents) was ajar on the bookshelf. It's just me and the pooch at home. It was chilling. Though I'm sure I dislodged it pulling out another book days before and didn't notice until then.
It's the kind of book that gets the wheels turning regardless of your personal beliefs.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

This is young adult lit targeted at the same audience as Twilight but it's not as good. It has a mystical element that keeps your least until revealed. It was entertaining enough but I don't recommend it. I'd rather re-read Twilight.

I think that catches us up to date.

Please, if you have read any really great books this year, recommend them in the comments section. Thanks!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Now Reading...Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

They've already made this book into a movie. I saw the preview and it looked good so I purchased the ebook from Amazon with a birthday Kindle giftcard (Thanks, Bass!)

It's one of those bi-chapter perspective shifters. You go from present day American journalist in Paris writing an article on the Vel d'hiv (round up of the French Jewish population in Paris in July of 1942 by their own police) to a 10 year old French-born Jewish girl who is living through it.

Obviously it's depressing but the mystery, intrigue and historical relevance has kept me hanging on.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Awh Yah. Just finished this whale of a geography/history/creepiness lesson, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

Spoiler alert, I might give away some exciting deets (details) in this post. In my defense it's non-fiction so you should know this stuff already...dummy. Just kidding. For me it was like history class before college, you know, when it was fun because it was about learning and discovering instead of sounding smarter than the guy next to you...Or in my case spending time blending in to avoid getting called on cause I didn't do the reading BECAUSE it was not fun reading like this was. So unless you are a Chicago history buff it will probably read much like fiction and will be fun, surprising and exciting (at times)to read.

I'm not just giving it a thumbs up or down. (Up, by the way). Do I recommend it? I sure do.

Disregarding what I said above, it does remind me of a book a college professor might assign...a nice college professor. It's too dense to be completely enjoyable. So NOT a light summer read unless maybe you're Oprah. (Anna Karenina? Seriously, Oprah?)

Get it for the Fall. And don't read it if you live alone.

Quick synopsis (in case you haven't stopped reading this to start reading the book): It's the tail end of the 19th century. Chicago wins the bid to host the World's Columbian Expedition. The architects work to build a fair that will put the French and their Eiffel Tower to shame.

MEANWHILE University of Michigan (woot! press is bad press) Medical School grad moves to Englewood and sets up shop swindling contractors and consumers and builds a murder hotel to host fairgoers.


1. Move out the way Unibomber you're not University of Michigan's only psychopath. Welcome back to the stage your predecessor H.H. Holmes aka Herman Mudgett.

2. My great great grandfather may have been the Detective that tracked down Holme's victims and got him put away for more than just fraud (family tree check: Frank Geyer?)Name and location are a the population was way smaller then. Totally plausible.

3. The Ferris Wheel made it's debut in Chicago by a man named Ferris!...and was later exploded and used for scrap metal. (spoiled surprise...sorry) So sadly, not the same wheel that stands/turns at Navy Pier today...actually that should be a comfort.

Lingering questions: Were there chads and trixies in Chicago during the World's Fair?

I previously reviewed Larson's more recent "In the Garden of Beasts," likewise this book was information heavy so the first half dragged a bit. I general whip through a book, this one took some time. I get sleepy from all the learning.

I look forward to a future trip to Chicago to check out the building(s) that are still standing. I've driven by the area countless times but now there's that added magical history there.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Devil in the White City

Just started reading Erik Larson's Devil in the White City 2 nights ago. Earlier this summer I read his book, In the Garden of Beasts, which I loved. Larson's style is information heavy. At times it's a little difficult to wade through. It's historical fiction-technically...I think. The facts are real. There's ample source material. Larson quotes Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, etc. The fiction comes in only to link the story together...It's more of a taking of liberties than it is fiction...I assume. In any case, the story takes place during the construction of the World's Fair in Chicago at the tail end of the 19th century.

I was telling my dad about the book and he asked why Chicago was being referred to as the 'white city'- no idea so far.

As a woman that lives alone this may be a poor choice for a bedtime read.

...More to come.

Buy the book at Amazon via the link below. Thanks!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

upcoming titles...

i've been reading and not posting reviews so here's what's up and coming followed by a 1-3 rating. 1=i don't recommend it, 2=it was okay, 3=loved it, recommend it.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, rating 3

I'll review this one in tandem with the movie review. Movie comes out Wednesday.

The Hangman's Daughter, rating 2

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, rating 3

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, rating 2

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson, rating 3

The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain, rating 3

The Red Tent: A Novel by Anita Diamant, rating 3

Monday, May 30, 2011

bossypants by tina fey

It's Memorial Day. I tagged along with my brother for his weekly road trip to Chicago. (I regularly reside in suburban Detroit). For the trip my bro downloaded Tina Fey's autobiography, Bossypants. The bulk we listened to on the trip there. We finished on the way home.

I loved it. There's something about people discussing their intimate feelings of inadequacy that make me feel at peace with myself. Tina's book is no exception. The book is extremely revealing. Far more so than I would have expected. From her first menses, to the dynamic behind the scenes at SNL, she is frank and liberal with details.

The audiobook is ideal for consuming this book. I am clearly biased. Here's my rationale: Tina Fey is a comedian. The book is basically an extremely personal and detailed stand up routine- At least it feels that way. Via audiobook you're practically guaranteed to get the comedic punches because Tina personally delivers the lines rather than leaving them to be marred by your own inner voice. Also, there are audio clips from an SNL sketch which you forgo (i would imagine) completely with the text version.

Regardless of which way you choose to read this, it's worth it. It's funny, inspiring, motivating, charming, my kinda book completely.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

In honor of wedding season beginning, or just coincidentally...I just started The Paris Wife. The recommendation comes from a solid source- future sister in law, Sarah. I downloaded the sample first from Amazon and was instantly hooked. I love those books. Here's a link to buy it now. The review is coming once I've finished.


I finished sometime in the middle of last week. LOVE THIS BOOK. Have I reviewed The Red Tent yet? I'm going to need to check on that one...

The Paris Wife is one of those historical fiction gems that I love so damn much (see The Red Tent). The narrator is Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I'm going to leave out any mentions of plot but clearly they spend sometime in Paris and there is a whole lotta fun and recognizable name-dropping, their pal "Scott," for instance is F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby).

While I love Hadley, the rest of the characters (particularly Hemingway, himself) are awful people. They are like the hipsters of the 20s. Desperate elitists. Trying sooooo hard to be cooler than their friends. Despite the era difference, the characters are recognizable and on some level relate-able.

Great book to start off your summer reading :)

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

I am a few books behind. The most provocative part of this book, for me, was the about the author portion where I read that Ms. Obreht and I were born in the same year. It made me feel inadequate...that's not quite right. I'll figure it out.

The book trades point of view between a young doctor and her grandfather as a boy. The style of writing reminds me of more traditional literature. Less is more with description. At times the lack of explanation left me wanting more. Not in the way that when you read a book you don't want it to end but rather in a demanding way. Like, as a reader, you deserve more to the story.

It is beautifully written and certainly a book of substance. But not the light pre-summer read I was looking for. I recommend this more for a student looking to dissect a work.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

I am glad I made it through. In the beginning I was completely disinterested. Several people recommended it. My mom's friend recommended it for her saying it is her all time favorite. The style it is written in is reminiscent of Wally Lamb. I wouldn't call it my favorite but it is a good read. It will give you a glimpse into Ethiopia and the life of an Indian-English immigrant doctor in the United States. But those things are backdrop. The story cycles through two generations of intrigue. I recommend it.

Hunger Games Update

----->This is Josh Hutcherson. The actor slated to play Peeta in the Hunger Games movie. Initially I was bummed. Peeta was my favorite character and this is not how I pictured him but I think he'll do a good job.
<-----This is Liam Hemsworth aka Miley Cyrus' beau. He'll be playing Gale Hawthorne...also not who I pictured. He's too pretty for this role.
Hopefully they will both act well and we won't have another Twilight adaptation where the actors are pretty but terrible.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hunger Games Trilogy Wrap Up

It's not everyday that you come across a book that you can't put down. These books have that particular quality. These books are a guilty pleasure read right up there with the Twilight series only a little more thought provoking. There's a love triangle (like Twilight before the bad acting) but the plot is mostly concentrated on action. There's plenty to satisfy both the romantics and the action seekers.
I'm not going to summarize the plot. I went into it blind. I worry about setting expectations. Just read it and enjoy. It's a young adult novel with adult themes.
The movie adaptation has begun to cast. Can't wait to see how this goes. So far, I'm pleased. The main character role of Katniss Everdeen is rumored to be filled by Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence. She was in last years' "Winter's Bone." (didn't see it but as soon as it comes out I'll rent it and review it as an addendum to this post). It was Lawrence's first acting role. Not bad to score an Oscar nod on your first go.
Titles you might also like that relate in some way or another: Fahrenheit 451, Twilight, Animal Farm, Harry Potter, The Host.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Love it. Finished in about 3 days. It's a Sci-Fi young adult novel so you'll whip through it. I rank it in the same vein as the harry potter and twilight series. On to the sequel. Stay posted. There are 3 books in the series.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

It's historical fiction. Takes place in the Middle Ages. Generally speaking, I like historical fiction. And overall I like this book. I'm glad I read it. With it I have a new appreciation for Cathedral architecture from the Middle Ages. (Look out England- here I come!). That said, I would not call The Pillars of the Earth an enjoyable read.

Pillars is an asthmatic's marathon of a book. There are ups and downs. But mostly downs. The novel took about a month to finish. It's just shy of 1000 pages. Thick enough to regret not purchasing it for the Kindle. I picked it up at Meijer after finishing up the Steig Larson Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy (there may have been a few filler books in between). This is a different type of book entirely. But here I was at Meijer in the late late hours of the evening in a pinch for a new read. So I took Oprah's Book Club seal as recommendation enough.

It took at least 400 pages before I was fully invested. The characters were difficult to identify with. Maybe because they were in the middle ages. But mostly because they were bad people. ***Spoiler!*** The good news is that the inability to connect with the characters pays off as they continually die off. (I wonder if this was done intentionally by the author? Were people in the middle ages assholes to prevent their loved ones from suffering emotional pain at their death?)

Tragedy continues throughout. Just when you thought you were free and could relax you realize there are still a million pages of story/misery left to navigate.

I have been advised by several advocates of the book that the other jumbo reads by Follett are pretty similar so I'm not going to be jumping to get my hands on the sequel anytime soon. Nor will I be so trusting of the Oprah Book Club seal for an exciting read in the future. The last one I tried was Anna Karenina. I didn't make it through that one. From what I hear Anna Karenina didn't either. Tit for tat.