Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

To Say Nothing of the Dog To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Ned Henry is a time traveler saddled with the task of finding the bishop's bird stump in time for the consecration of the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral. He is sent to Victorian England for a much needed rest which turns into another task and not so much the needed relaxation. During his quest and bumblings along the way he may even meet his true love.

This was a really different book from any that I have read. Not for the lover of spoon-fed reads, this book requires work. At first I didn't want to like it because I had to work hard. But later I could appreciate it for what it is - a quirky time-travel book full of hilarious characters and events. My favorite part of the book is all the laugh out loud moments where Ned is ridiculing the Victorian era. He took every cliche from this time period and exploited the heck out of it. Routinely ladies give little "screamlets" with their mouth in a perfect "O." Every word that Ned has only seen in print is uttered out loud - "pshaw, stuff and nonsense, drat" and other such words. I liked a scene where Baine the butler has literally been given 50 commands in 10 seconds, and Ned wonders why the butler "hasn't turned to pet drowning" because of the stress of the job.

I also enjoyed Ned, a slightly fumbling character with the best intentions. My favorite part with him was when he caught the first glimpse of himself in a window in the Victorian era and stopped cold saying, "Wow, I do look great!"

I can't give this book a wholehearted 4 stars because the plot was sometimes extremely tedious to wade through. Also it took a crazy amount of time - think 100 pages - to figure out what the heck was going on. It is more like a 3.5 for me for the unique plot, laughable situations and characters.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review: The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

The Cinderella Pact The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nola Devlin, editor at Sass! magazine, is passed over for a promotion because she is overweight. She creates a super-sexy, chic, British alter ego named Belinda Apple who becomes famous and well-read. At the same time Nola enters into the "Cinderella Pact" with her two overweight friends - the pact is that they will once and for all lose the weight for good. Along the way Nola meets someone who may be her Prince Charming, or maybe not.

Definitely fluffy and predictable, but really sweet and a great escape. Not going to win a Pulitzer but will definitely take you away into fantasy land for a few hours.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

The Lace Reader The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Read for the 2010 Challenge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was really odd for me. It's hard for me to describe the plot because much of the time I was trying to figure out what the plot is. I did end up liking it quite a bit but it was a journey to get there.

Towner/Sophya has been running from her past in Salem, MA for years and when a family emergency calls her back, she has to confront her old ghosts and decide how to go forward.

The book is filled with strong women characters that I liked. The present-day Salem Witch stuff is interesting - basically the present day witches are able to make a living on the myths of the witches in the 1600s. I enjoyed reading the book and the setting - the coast and islands near Salem, MA. At the beginning of each chapter there is a snippet about lace reading written by Towner's Aunt Eva. Lace reading is essentially another form of fortune-telling; analyzing particular pieces of lace and seeing what images are in them. The art is fairly complicated and I liked reading about it.

As I said before, the book was a bit confusing to read. The main narrator, Towner/Sophya jumps around a lot from time period to time period and sometimes gaps in the stories aren't filled in until much later. But the end of the book redeemed it for me, there is a major twist that made me look at the book a whole different way and it was very satisfying. The plot is definitely unique and not predictable. A creepy read.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Book 1) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
#5 of 25 for the 2010 YA Challenge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life--and they are all momentous--in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood. No matter that her particular story takes place in England, the account of her experiences rings true across the ocean (and besides, "Georgia's Glossary" swiftly eradicates any language barriers).

Just the title of this book has been making me giggle for months now. The author did a nice job of capturing the essence of being a teenage girl - drama abounds, there are worries over clothes, and boys and makeup. I also enjoyed the British slang and used the glossary a few times to make sure I knew what she meant. A cute read.
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Just Between You and Me: A Novel of Losing Fear and Finding God Just Between You and Me: A Novel of Losing Fear and Finding God by Jenny B. Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Successful cinematographer Maggie Montgomery has to learn to face her fears when she is called back to her dreaded hometown for a family crisis.

I'm still a little torn about Christian fiction and this one was a bit cheesy for me. Prayer and testimony are such personal, sacred things that reading a fictional account of it makes me squirm a little.

Just Between You and Me is a predictable, been-done-before plot that I still enjoyed reading.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Hate List Hate List by Jennifer Brown
#4 of 25 for 2010 YA Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Valerie Leftman struggles to re-enter school and society after her boyfriend, Nick, opens fire at school, injuring and killing several students and teachers. Nick is just trying to blow away people that are on the Hate List that he and Valerie created. Problem is, Valerie didn't realize that Nick ever meant to truly do anything about it, just thought it was a list used to vent frustation. Now she has to figure out how to interact with people who believe that she was just as guilty as Nick though she never fired a shot. Along the way, she finds that she has allies she never realized as she makes her way back to normalcy and figuring out who she really is.

This plot has been done before and even reminded me of Speak and Just Listen with the main character who has been through severe trauma that other people don't understand and struggles to find the words to describe what they are feeling and figuring out how to live again. But I still liked it. I liked the characters. I liked Val's relationship with her little brother who likes to gel his hair too much and enjoys the ladies. Dr. Heiler is someone I would want in my circle if I needed help and Bea is eccentric and filled with wisdom and love that carries Val through the tough times.

I like how the author dealt with the hypocrisy of Garvin High. The cheerleaders and jocks who would punch Nick when nobody was looking or push him or humiliate him are supposedly the "'perfect kids' who nobody would believe were just as bad as the 'bad kids.'" Then after the shooting, newspaper reporter, Angela Dash writes of the charity and kindness present at Garvin after the shooting but when Val arrives at the new school year, things are just as ugly as they ever were. The book feels so real - this is what high school is.

I liked seeing Valerie's journey back to life. It was believable and the ending was different from what I would have expected but seemed just right. Really this is more like 4.5 stars for me.

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