Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Puppy That Came for Christmas: How a Dog Brought One Family the Gift of Joy - Megan Rix

Date Started: 12/27/11
Date Finished: 12/28/11

One-Word Summary: Puppies!

This one was a stocking gift and needless to say I figured I would finish it before heading home (I'm currently visiting the family) - and that way I can leave it here. I'm a softie for animal tales so I knew I would enjoy this little book, even though it looks like the book equivalent of a made-for-tv-movie.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

Date Started: 12/21/11
Date Finished: 12/26/11

One-Word Summary: Conclusory

So we finally arrive at the third book in the famous series, continuing the story of Lisbeth Salander and all of the other characters we have come to know in the first two books.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson

Date Started: 12/6/11
Date Finished: 12/10/11

One-Word Summary: Action-packed

So obviously I couldn't wait long until starting the sequel...all of about two days. It was just as good as the first book and I'm eagerly looking forward to the third. Again, my warning: don't click to the next page if you don't want to see spoilers.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Date Started: 11/29/11
Date Finished: 12/4/11

One-Word Summary: Thrilling

I had put off reading this book for way too long. It was one of those books that everyone raved about and I was worried that it wouldn't live up to the reviews. I was wrong and it was great. But don't read any further if you don't want to see spoilers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

These Things Hidden - Heather Gudenkauf

Date Started: 11/11/11
Date Finished: 11/12/11

One-Word Summary: Meh

I wandered into a Barnes & Noble with my husband and, after not being in a book store in ages, was overcome with the desire to buy a book. This was the one I chose, based on the intriguing inside flap:

Allison Glenn tried to hide what happened that night...and failed. The consequence? A prison sentence. Now she's free. But secrets have a way of keeping you locked up. 

Grabs your interest, right? Well...

Here is the TOTAL spoiler of the entire book.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Meaning of Night: A Confession - Michael Cox

Date Started: 10/27/11
Date Finished: 11/10/11

One-Word Summary: Victorian

I'm not sure if it is evidenced by this blog but I really enjoy Victorian writing. There is an elegance to novels written in the 1800s, and they're so detailed that they transport you to a world (most often London!) that time has passed by. I find these books mesmerizing. So this contemporary book, written in the style of the 19th Century, immediately piqued my interest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Glassblower of Murano - Marina Fiorato

Date Started: 10/20/11
Date Finished: 10/27/11

One-Word Summary: Venice!

I decided to read this book because I was about to visit Venice for the first time and thought this book would set the mood for my arrival. It definitely did that: Venice comes alive in this book, which was split between present day and the 1600s when glassblowing was at its height and Corradino Manin ruled the art.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome - Jake Morrissey

Date Started: 10/10/11
Date Finished: 10/17/11

One-Word Summary: Architectural

I read this book in advance of heading to Rome based on my husband's recommendation. My husband read it before we were in Italy last year and he raved about it the whole time we were there, dragging me from church to fountain and back again. Though I'm not the biggest non-fiction fan, I decided I'd give this one a try since I thought it might give more meaning to the sights we're about to see again. It was worth the read.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Return To Me - Christy Reece

Date Started: 10/3/11
Date Finished: 10/6/11

One-Word Summary: Dirty!

I finally made it to the last book in the box-o-mom-books. Now, if you click here (Amazon link), you will see why I saved this one for last - a bright pink cover typically doesn't draw me in (as opposed to light pink, which clearly indicates it is chick-lit). This was essentially a thriller for women and based on the other titles listed on the back cover ("Rescue Me" and "Run to Me") it might be a series? In any case this was the only one I've read and the only one I'll be likely to. That said, I went in with really low expectations and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, if you're into thrillers with explicit sex scenes mixed in for fun, this might be the perfect book to pick up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Postmistress - Sarah Blake

Date Started: 9/29/11
Date Finished: 10/2/11

One-Word Summary: Boring

This was another one from the mom box-o-books that I mentioned ages ago. I had actually seen this book before so it was more legit than some of the others. Unfortunately legit =/= (does not equal) good. I was really expecting more from this book.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Magicians: A Novel - Lev Grossman

Date Started: 9/19/11
Date Finished: 9/26/11

One-Word Summary: Bizarre

So this was an Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009 choice. I'm a little behind the curve reading it I supposed but whatever. I read a little about the book - it seemed like a combination of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia - cool right? Well, yes, but this one was bizarre, and NOT appropriate for children.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Persuasion - Jane Austen

Date Started: 9/12/11
Date Finished: 9/17/11

One-Word Summary: Austen-y

I remember reading Pride and Prejudice in high school and thinking it was SO difficult to get through. Fast forward a decade (and a few more years) and I can't get enough Jane Austen. And I find it incredibly easy to read - what was my deal in high school? While that may never be known at long last I finally read the last of her classics, Persuasion (written in 1816, the year before she died).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Passage - Justin Cronin

Date Started: 8/29/11
Date Finished: 9/4/11

One-Word Summary: Terrifying

I had this book sitting in my Amazon wish list for a while so I was excited when my mom sent it to me after she had finished it. I started it immediately and all I can say is wow. This was an amazing book. Terrifying, yes, but amazing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

State of Wonder - Ann Patchett

Date Started: 8/22/11
Date Finished: 8/24/11

One-Word Summary: Whaaaaaaat?!?

Since this is a fairly recent "hit" book I am going to be very clear here: Do NOT Click on the Link if You Want to Avoid Spoilers!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Winter Sea - Susanna Kearsley

Date Started: 8/6/11
Date Finished: 8/12/11

One-Word Summary: Scottish!

So another thing about me: I am obsessed with Scotland. I've been twice and I absolutely love it there. I love the landscape, the friendliness of the people and the gray cities. There is some part of me that feels like I am home when I am in Scotland, though I don't think any part of my family tree hails from there. In any case, I've never had the pleasure of reading a book set there, and since Winter Sea was, it automatically had a head start in terms of me liking the book.

The story is split in two: there is modern-day Carrie, a successful historical-fiction writer, and Sophia, the narrator of Carrie's latest story, set in Scotland at the time of the '08 attempt to bring King James back to the throne. At first Carrie thinks the characters are simply speaking to her more strongly in this book but she comes to find that she has a far closer attachment than she would have thought.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

As Husbands Go - Susan Isaacs

Date Started: July 24
Date Finished: July 24

One-Word Summary: Fast

The word "fast" comes to mind when I think of how to summarize this book for two main reasons. First, because I finished it so quickly and second, because it felt like the narrator was on over-drive. There were times when I felt like I was reading a giant run-on sentence that just didn't end. She went on and on and on with so many details that it was at points exhausting. But fortunately for me, I was flying back to NYC today so I was able to commit to finishing it in one day. Donezo.

No Time for Goodbye - Linwood Barclay

Date Started:  July 8
Date Finished: July 9

One-Word Summary: Should-Have-Posted-Earlier-Oops

Confession time -- the date of this writing is July 24th and obviously I finished this book way earlier this month. Add to the fact that the book wasn't particularly memorable and you have a recipe for a bad post. That said I'll do my best. Reminder: spoilers after the jump!

So the whole premise is that this teenage girl wakes up to find her whole family missing and no one knows what happened. Fast forward to her adulthood where she is the epitome of a helicopter mom to her daughter. Then, out of nowhere (or else we wouldn't have a plot) someone starts to threaten the family. Is it related to Cynthia's family's disappearance all those years ago? Of course!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Time Machine - H.G. Wells

Date Started: June 30
Date Finished: July 6

One-Word Summary: Scien-terrific 

It's hard to read a classic when you've seen at least one movie version. You keep referencing the movie and waiting for plot points to arrive that (surprise!) were never in the book to begin with! I had never read The Time Machine but I tend to love 19th Century literature so I was excited to take this one on. But reader beware: this is not like the movie (at least the most recent one from 2002).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3) - Amanda Hocking

Date Started: 6/28/11
Date Finished: 6/29/11

One-Word Summary: Finished!

I feel that I should clarify something: I didn't take the day off of work or spend it holed up in my office reading this book. I actually had jury duty today which meant that I had a lot of time to sit and read - and very easily finish this book.

So since we've come to the end of our trilogy, what can I say? Well, I finished it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Torn (Trylle Trilogy, Book 2) - Amanda Hocking

Date Started: 6/18/11
Date Finished: 6/27/11

One-Word Summary: eh....

And so it continues...Look, I already said that I was going to read all three of these books, so no judgment!

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) - Amanda Hocking

Date Started: 6/15/11
Date Finished: 6/16/11

One-Word Summary: um....

Obviously since I'm writing about this book I have to confess to reading it. Yikes! Well in the spirit of full disclosure I will admit the following: I read young adult books and often like them (yes, including the science fiction ones). Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games - loved them all. I get sucked into new series when they're cheap on Amazon (those wily publishers know what they're doing). So that's the back story on this one. Kind of embarrassing? Absolutely. Less so on the Kindle? Damn straight. At least no one on the subway can see me with this!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff

Date Started: 6/1/11
Date Finished: 6/16/11

One-Word Summary: Amazing

As anyone who has read this blog can attest, I lean strongly (almost exclusively) to fiction. Every once in a while I delve into non-fiction and I decided, after a long absence, to dive back in with Cleopatra: A Life. She is a famous historical figure about whom I knew basically nothing. The reviews for this book seemed promising and they were right: this was one of the best books I've read in a while.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Island - Elin Hilderbrand

Date Started: 5/29/11
Date Finished: 5/30/11

One-Word Summary: Relaxing

This is another one from the box 'o mom books and I have to say it was one of the better ones thus far. We follow four family members on a trip to Tuckernuck, off the coast of Nantucket. Having never been any of these places I have to admire how peaceful and picturesque Hilderbrand makes these places seem. She doesn't go overboard on the descriptive detail and doesn't hide the difficulties of living in Tuckernuck (no hot water, no electricity except for generators, no cell phone reception, etc.). The descriptions are just so relaxing in spite of the family drama that brings everyone there in the first place.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chasing Harry Winston - Lauren Weisberger

Date Started: 5/25/11
Date Finished: 5/28/11

One-Word Summary: Fluff

When you pick up a book titled Chasing Harry Winston you don't expect it to be the next War and Peace. You know full well that you are reading chick-lit and your expectations for the plot and quality of writing should thereby be adjusted accordingly. This is not to say that chick-lit isn't enjoyable; it most certainly can be. But it can also be bad.

Chasing Harry Winston wasn't bad. It was predictable, annoying at times, jumpy and probably too long. But if you're in the mood for chick-lit it will probably suit you just fine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving

Date Started - 5/19/11
Date Finished - 5/24/11

One-Word Summary: Beautiful

I love reading classics for a couple of reasons. First, they are classics for a reason - they've stood the test of time and therefore worth reading. Second, they provide a nice counter to the fluff literature that often fills my reading queue. Third, most of them are free on my Kindle!

So on with the review!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Russian Winter: A Novel - Daphne Kalotay

Date Started: 5/6/11
Date Finished: 5/18/11

One-Word Summary: Enjoyable

I have a confession to make and that is that I'm something of a Russophile. Not in the crazy I'm obsessed way, more in a I'm intrigued by Russian writers and have Russia as one of my top places to see before I die kind of way. I went on a kick where I read Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Tolstoy's short stories, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov and Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida. I find that I love the rich descriptions of the Russian writers - they so completely transport you to a different world - one that doesn't exist anymore. They are incredibly dense but I enjoy that because it actually slows down my reading. I enter their world, with their samovars and vodka, and I love it.

I say all of this because it means I was predisposed to like Russian Winter. Not that others wouldn't also like it; the story is intriguing, though similarly split between an aged person and their recollections, just like Water for Elephants (odd that I would read these in such close proximity). The difference being that I didn't dread the chapters narrated by present-day Nina like I did the ones by present-day Jacob in Water for Elephants. I was frustrated certainly (we get it Nina, the past sucked - by why take it out on poor Grigori when all he wants to do is figure out who his birth-parents were?) but it didn't seem as completely depressing as Jacob's narration. Don't get me wrong, both were bleak descriptions of a life on the brink of dying from old age but in the end both characters make things right.

I won't ruin Water for Elephants in case you haven't yet read it; the ending was satisfying. But since this is my review of Russian Winter I can go ahead and run wild...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things Left Unspoken -- Eva Marie Everson

Date Started: 4/25/11
Date Finished: 4/28/11

One-Word Summary:  ok

I have a confession to make. A while ago my mother sent me a box of books that she had read and wanted to pass along. Sadly most of these books are the type that you pick up, quickly scan the back cover, and then gingerly put down and tip-toe away, hoping no one saw you look at it. This book follows in that tradition except that instead of putting it down, my mother bought it and then sent it to me. Oy.

I was not raised in the "Deep South" so reading the word "sugar" used in such numerous ways was unfamiliar and overly-sweet: sugar, suge (shortened version), sugar-foot (nickname). The saccharine level was unparalleled. Unless you are from the Deep South or have a fascination with it I think this book could get on your nerves, so be warned.

What was really "left unspoken" after the jump.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

Date Started: 4/19/11
Date Finished: 4/22/11

One-Word Summary: Meh

Look, I liked this book. But I didn't love this book (which everyone else seems to). It was a good read, and I would certainly recommend it, but I wouldn't tell people that this is an all-consuming book that you can't put down.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Swan Thieves: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova

Date Started: 4/9/11
Date Finished: 4/16/11

One-word Summary: Disappointed

When I am rushing through a book to find the point where something will happen in the plot, it is never a good thing. After reading (and loving) The Historian several years ago I was very excited to get my hands on The Swan Thieves. So much so that I actually bought the book in paperback rather than on my e-reader so that I could share it with others once I was finished. After finishing it last night, the only place it is likely to end up is a thrift store.

Find out why (along with spoilers about the book) after the jump.