Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Postmistress (by Sarah Blake)

I picked this book up in the book shop at the airport on my way to NYC. I love buying books at the airport, I don't know why. Its a bad habit, well bad habit for my wallet. In any case, I really enjoyed this book, and I finished it by the time I made it back to Texas. This book is about a small town during World War II (before the U.S. became involved), and reporters who were covering The Blitz in London. Their lives of course end up mixing in the end. I thought the book was a well written fictional novel about life during World War II before we entered the war. The small town was located in Massachusetts, and there was a lot of fear of a German invasion during this time. I also learned more about The Blitz than I knew before reading the book. The book really dived into many different lives and perspectives during that time. It is not a "happy" book per se, but rather a character study. I recommend this book if you like to read about WWII (which I do) and if you like romance and relationships.

Up next: Sarah's Key (another WWII book)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fear not for I have returned....

Hello Bloggie friends. I realize its been almost three months without a book review post. Do not dismay, I have been reading in the past three months. Quite a lot actually. I'll start posting reviews of those books today and throughout this week! First up:

The Hunger Games (by Suzanne Collins)

Let me preface this by saying - one books that are "series" I don't think I'll post reviews about the following books in the series. I don't want to ruin anyones journey through the first books in the series by posting what happens in the later books...

I read all three books in the Hunger Games series in one week, on my Kindle, which gives you immediate satisfaction for buying books (a good and a bad thing). I could not stop reading these books. Seriously. I was intrigued and the suspense was killing me.

The Hunger Games is a three book series, which begins with the book entitled "The Hunger Games" (go figure). The second book is called "Catching Fire" and the third book is called "The Mocking Jay." The last two names make sense after you read the first book.

These books are set in a Country called "Panem" which is basically North America, but is a post apocalyptic North America. So, now the country is called Panem. It has a central government called "The Capital" which I think is based in Colorado..and the rest of the country is broken into "Districts," there are twelve districts, with a thirteenth that was allegedly wiped out. In any case, there is a rebellion some 75 years ago - because well The Capitol basically sucks (this is not a democratic society). The Capitol uses the Districts to provide sustenance for itself, so each District has its own Industry. The one that is at the heart of these books is District 12 and the mine for coal. As a result of the Rebellion, to punish the Districts, each year one boy and one girl (between the ages of 12 - 18) are picked from each District to compete in a Hunger Game. The downside is, only one child can survive the Hunger Games. So, basically 23 kids are killed each year to punish the Districts for their rebellion and to ward off any future rebellions (which it doesn't seem like that actually wards off anything). In any case, the Hunger Games is in a big arena and basically you have to fight to the death. Not entirely sure how this constitutes a Young Adults book..pretty scary. In any case, that's the premise, and then the book follows this chick named Katniss, who is 16 years old, and all her antics and relationships. See, the Hunger Games is like the Olympics for the residents who live in the Capitol. A big skeptical, televised, with parties and dances and then the actual Hunger Games is shown live on TV and each contestant has "sponsors" who can send things to them during the Games - like food and medicine.

I really liked this series. I thought that the characters were really well developed, and it caused you to root for them throughout the book and in the Games themselves. There is also some romantical parts to the book too for those romantic lovers out there. Kept it interesting. I thought that the themes throughout the book of struggle, perserverence, and courage were really well played out. I recommend this book if you like adventure, suspense, and romance.

Review up next: The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir (by Elna Baker)

Sidenote - In the past three months, I also read 2.25 more books in the "Outlander" series. Those books are really long - like 900 - 1,000 pages long, so maybe I won't have as many reviews as I thought... and in keeping with my no reviews of series books past the first one rule, let's just say - they are as good, if not better, than the first Outlander books.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Outlander (by Diana Gabaldon)

As I have mentioned before, my mom is a lover of books that come in "series". Her bookshelves at home are lined with series - murder, mystery, romance, witches, if its a series, she owns it. Which, I have to say, benefits me also, especially if I want to start reading the series, because she has all the books already. Good for the pocketbook. Well - two years ago (or thereabouts) when I went home for some holiday, she bestowed upon me the Outlander series, and said, and I quote "you will no be disappointed." Hesitant to get wrapped up in a series of books with each book at a meager 800 pages each, I put it on my bookshelf and didn't look back. That was until last month, when after reading "In cold blood" I needed a fast/lighthearted read. Something to take my mind of the reality of civilization. So why not read about a time travelling nurse in the 1940s? I opened the first book of the series - "Outlander" and began my journey. Oh My Gosh. I quickly realized how ADDICTING this book was. I would think about it at work, and be excited to get home to read it at the end of the day. We aren't talking a literary masterpiece here, but it is damn good. It has all the makings of the perfect chick book - love, time travel, romance, scottish warriors, love, romance, ... love, romance... you get the point. Basically, the book is about a main character - Claire Randall aka Claire Beauchamp. She is visiting Scotland with her hubby in 1940s (after WWII) - Frank Randall - and while on a hike to look at some rocks, she gets hurled back into the 1700s, in Scotland. She gets swept up in the life and times and love of the 1740s and basically the book follows her story from that point on. Its a guilty pleasure to read this book, and luckily for me there are 7 more books in this series to carry me onward. I just started the second book - Dragonfly in Amber, and it is not disappointing either (and it is also 800+ pages). I recommend this book if you are looking for an easy, entertaining, and addicting read. It won't take you long to power through the 800 pages, and it will definitely leaving you wanting more at then end, and luckily there is more!

Friday, October 1, 2010

In Cold Blood (by Truman Capote)

I have a fascination (albeit strange) of true crime stories. So, when I was reading about a sad sad story on CNN the other day, my co-worker suggested I read In Cold Blood. And I did. And I liked it. Can you really say you like a nonfiction story about a family that gets murdered? In any case, I didn't "enjoy" it, but found it intensely interesting. And, well, Truman Capote was just an amazing story teller. I was thoroughly engaged and felt like I knew every side of the story of what happened to that tragic family. If you don't know what this book is about, it basically, in detail, describes the before, during, and after of the murder of a family in Kansas, from the perspective of everyone involved - the killers, the towns people, and the police/detectives. Yea, a very happy book. But apparently, Truman Capote went to Holcombe and researched heavily into the murders, and, according to some stories, striked up a friendship with one of the killers. I recommend this book if only that it is in and of itself a "classic." But, if you get scared easily, I would not recommend it. It is very real.

Up Next: The Hunger Games (by Suzanne Collins)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain (by Garth Stein)

I just finished this book last week. It was for book club. I think at book club we spent approximately 5 minutes, maybe, talking about the book. But the point of book club is to drink wine and chat, didn't you know that? In any case, I liked the book. It was a book about a man and his family, told from the perspective of the man's dog - Enzo. Interesting and creative idea. At times I found myself forgetting that I was reading from the perspective of the dog. Very clever writing. The main guy - the owner of the dog - Denny Swift, is a race driver. Not a Nascar driver, but a race driver on courses around the world in fancy shmancy cars. The book uses the racing as an analogy to life throughout the book. Basically, the dog falls in love with the racing also. Denny meets a woman, gets married, has a kid, and it goes on from there. This book definitely had its sad moments (not quite as sad as Marley & Me where I bawled like a little girl at the end), but definitely sad. And it also deals with the struggle between your dreams and the realities of those dreams. All in all a good read. Especially if you like dogs. I'm a cat person myself, but I found this entertaining.

Up next: In Cold Blood (by Truman Capote) - I'm trying to mix in a few more classics into my reading repertoire.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One Day (by David Nicholls)

I picked this book up at B&N on a whim. I was trying to find "The Art of Racing in the Rain" (for book club) and stumbled upon this book, as it was a pick of one of the employees at B&N. My, am I glad I found this book. What a thought provoking, emotional, and creative novel. This book follows the lives of two people - Emma and Dexter, and is set in England. Em and Dex meet on their last day of college after graduation. Em, after having a crush on Dexter for almost all of college, finally lands him at a party that night. What follows is a dramatic and yet delightful trip through the next 20 years of their lives, but only told on one day of the year - July 15th (hence the title "One Day"). Each chapter is July 15. Each chapter discusses what is going on that day in Emma's life and in Dexter's life. Each of the characters has an impact on the other's life. This book read fast, was immensely addicting, and hard to put down. I'm glad I read it on vacation because I had extended periods of time to read. This isn't a happy go lucky chick lit book. It deals with real struggles throughout the book, but it also unravels a genuine love between the two main characters. I felt myself relating at times to the struggle to "find yourself" and establish yourself as a woman in her 20s, and I also related to the quest to find love, and the obstacles along the way. I recommend this book. It is quite enjoyable. Make sure you have tissues handy throughout the book.

Up Next: The Art of Racing in the Rain (by Garth Stein)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Commencement (by J. Courtney Sullivan)

I enjoyed this book. It was a light reading until the very end when it turned into a mystery. Kind of threw me for a loop. This book follows 4 women, from when they first meet at the all girls - Smith College, to when they are in their late twenties in respective different areas of the world/life. It's told from each of the 4 girls perspectives, which is interesting because it also talks about events that happened in their lives from different point of view. There's the feminist girl, the snob, the rich girl, and the laid back chick. I related to a lot of the book, as in relationships I formed in College and how life is like for the relationship four years later. It read really fast, and kept you pretty enthralled. It dealt with love, dreams, growing up, not wanting to grow up, losing touch, and also when its a good time to be opinionated about a friend's choices and when you should just keep your mouth shut. I recommend this book for a light end of summer read, but watch out for the last 100 pages, will surprise ya.

Up next: The Likeness (by Tana French) and The Art of Racing in the Rain (by Garth Stein) (for book club)