Monday, January 31, 2011

The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite reading this book so fast, I did not enjoy it as much as the others. I felt let down in the conclusion of the book. I thought the writing wasn't as good as the previous books. It was still an action packed adventure, but it made me glad to have this series done.

Series: Percy Jackson and The Olympians Book 5

Synopsis: All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Recommended Reading:
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Sabotaged by Margaret Haddix

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Town Like Alice

A Town Like AliceA Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this book expecting several different things. I expected a dry read with a lot of boring commentary. I expected a romance driven novel. Instead this book gripped me from the second paragraph (the first paragraph took a few re-reads before it made sense) as a story of survival, humanity even in the worst conditions and okay, yeah, there was a love story too.

The dialogue was brilliantly written, I could hear Jean's voice clearly - complete with British accent - although towards the later half of the book I lost some of that voice. The point of view was rather unique in that the story was told by a character completely outside of the story. Some of the plot devices were rather unique in order to bring the narrator into the story and to get Joe's point of view across. Again this was brilliantly done until the last half of the book, then I felt there was too much detail that a young woman in her 20's would surely not tell such a grandfatherly figure.

I enjoyed this book alot overall, despite a few disappointments during the reading. I would definitely put it on my list of books to read again.

Synopsis: Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. But it turns out that they have a gift for her as well: the news that the young Australian soldier, Joe Harmon, who had risked his life to help the women, had miraculously survived. Jean’s search for Joe leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

Recommended Reading:
Pied Piper by Nevil Shute
The Breaking Wave by Nevil Shute
On The Beach by Nevil Shute
The Road From Coorain by Jill Conway
The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

Why I Shouldn't Read Book Blogs

On their way to my house:
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez (found at A Bookish Way of Life)
The United States of Arugula by David Kamp (found at Estella's Revenge) and I am going to try to read it in time for the discussion.
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (recommended recently by Book Magic) Apparently I had read a review awhile ago and added this book to my Wish List. I read Book Magic's review and thought "that sounds good" so I headed over to pbs to check if it was available... lo and behold it's already on it's way to my house!

Added to my wish list:
Grace by Elizabeth Scott (found at Oodles of Books)
If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now by Claire LaZebnik (also found at Oodles of Books)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lost in a Good Book

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next, #2)Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would (or remembered doing so when I first read it 6 years ago). It seemed a lot of the book was spent on "world creation" and not actual plot development. I thought Thursday was a little more fleshed out in this book than the other. I like the alternate 1985 Fforde has created. The humor and word play was pretty darn good (there were a few that took me a few pages to catch, but still good stuff). I think I missed quite a few literary references - which reminds me how well-read I am not.

Series: Thursday Next Book 2

Synopsis: Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of four weeks, actually drowned in an accident when he was two years old. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday must battle corrupt politicians, try to save the world from extinction, and help the Neanderthals to species self-determination. Mastadon migrations, journeys into Just William, a chance meeting with the Flopsy Bunnies, and violent life-and-death struggles in the summer sales are all part of a greater plan. But whose? and why?

Recommended Reading:
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Book Monster in My Closet

I have a Book Monster in my closet.

Sometime in 2003 I started compulsively accumulating books. By May 2007 I had a collection of 1800 books. Roughly 20 of those books I had read with the intention of keeping for my permanent collection. The rest of them were the offspring of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I would never, at any point in time in my life have time to read all those books. Something needed to be done.

In late 2007 started weeding through the books and sorted them into three categories.
  1. Books I want to read: Determined by my ability to remember what the book was about without reading the blurb.
  2. Books I might want to read: Determined by "That sounds like a good book" factor after reading the blurb.
  3. Books that I do not want to read: Determined by "WTF was I thinking" factor after reading the blurb.
Books in category 1 went onto the bookshelf. Books in category 2 went into boxes in the front closet. Books in category 3 went into several large totes in my bedroom closet.

Over the last four years I have shuffled these books around quite a bit. Moving books on to the bookshelf, moving books off, moving books from the front closet into the bedroom closet. By the beginning of 2009, between donating and swapping books, I had mastered the monster with only my TBR shelf and the books in the bedroom closet.

In 2010, I cleaned off my TBR shelf to the books I was seriously committed to reading. These are the books that if my apartment caught on fire, after making sure my children were safely out, I would go back for. I even emptied a few boxes out of the bedroom closet.

For 2011, I have committed myself to conquering the monster. I will keep my TBR shelf below 25. I will get the monster in the closet down to one box. In the last month alone I have swapped 52 books, which means I only have one box and an overflowing tote to deal with for the next 11 months.

It's ridiculous the amount of joy that I feel when I open my closet and can see the floor.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book 5 or 6 years ago. I was on the fence about it then but continued on with the series. Rereading it years later, I enjoyed the book much more. The characters are quirky but realistic (at least as realistic as it gets in a Jasper Fforde novel) and the plot, although slow to develop, was entertaining. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I were more familiar with some of the literary works discussed during the novel. I think there were inside jokes I missed. [I also think I said this the first time that I read it and that if I would do a re-read I would brush up on some of my classical reading...]

Series: Thursday Next Book 1

Synopsis: Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from workds of literature. When Jane Eyer is plucked from the pages of Bronte's novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

Recommended Reading:
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dexter in the Dark

Dexter in the Dark (Dexter, #3)Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I did not enjoy this book as much as the others. It was darker in content (I actually had a nightmare one night). I didn't like adding the children into the serial killer mix. As a mother of two children it made it very disturbing to read. Another thing that I didn't like was the author took some parts of the book out of Dexter's first person narrative. There were confusing passages about IT that were hard to comprehend.
I did still enjoy Dexter's witty commentary. I hope that the series goes back to what it was in the first two books.

Series: Dexter Book 3

Synopsis: In his work as a Miami Crime Scene Investigator, Dexter Morgan is accustomed to seeing evil deeds... particularly because, on occasion, he rather enjoys committing them himself. Guided by his Dark Passenger (the reptilian voice inside him), he lives his outwardly normal life adhering to one simple rule: he kills only very bad people. Dexter slides through life undetected, working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, helping his fiancee raise her two adorable (if somewhat... unique) children, and always planning his next jaunt as Dexter the Dark Avenger under the light of the full moon.

But then everything changes. Dexter is called to a crime scene that seems routine: a gruesome double homicide at the university campus, which Dexter would normally investigate with gusto, before enjoying a savory lunch. And yet this scene feels terribly wrong. Dexter's Dark Passenger senses something he recognizes, something utterly chilling, and the Passenger - mastermind of Dexter's homicidal prowess - promptly goes into hiding.

With his Passenger on the run, Dexter is left to face this case all alone - not to mention his demanding sister (Sergeant Deborah), his frantic fiancee (Rita), and the most frightening wedding caterer ever to plan a menu. Equally unsettling, Dexter begins to realize that something very dark and very powerful has its sights set on him. Dexter is left in the dark, but he must summon his sharpest investigative instincts not only to pursue his enemy but to locate and truly understand his Dark Passenger. To find him, Dexter has to research the questions he's never dared ask: Who is the Dark Passenger, and where does he come from? It is nothing less than a search for Dexter's own dark soul... fuled by a steady supply of fresh doughnuts.

Recommended Reading:
Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay
Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dearly Devoted Dexter

Dearly Devoted Dexter (Dexter, #2)Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series has me, hook, line and sinker. What's not to love? Witty dialogue (or monologue, in some cases), plots that keep me guessing and damn.good writing. These books are dark and funny, picking apart the best and worst things that make us human.

Series: Dexter Book 2

Synopsis: Dexter Morgan has been under considerable pressure. In trying to avoid the deep suspicions of the dangerous Sergeant Doakes-who believes Dexter is a homicidal maniac (which, of course, he is)-Dexter has had to slip further into his foolproof domestic disguise. While not working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, he now spends nearly all his time with his girlfriend, Rita, and her two children. But how long can Dexter play Kick the Can instead of Slice the Slasher? How long before his Dark Passenger forces him to drop the charade of family life and let his inner monster run free?
In trying times, opportunity knocks. A particularly nasty psychopath is cutting a trail through Miami-a man who "slices and dices and leaves vegetables behind." Dexter's dark appetite is revived, but it's not until his nemesis, Sergeant Doakes, is abducted that Dex can finally throw himself headlong into the search for a new plaything. Unless, of course, his plaything finds...

Recommended Reading:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay
Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 in Review

Not my best year.

Reading Goal: 61 Achieved: 43
TBR Shelf: 30      Achieved: 28
And still hiding books in the closet... And in a pile in front of the closet... And on the dresser...

Other bookish things include starting a book club at work, which has been fun. The ladies in the group are so interesting and I look forward to what they have to say each month. I wish I would have done this a long time ago. I did not get to re-read Diana Gabaldon't Outlander series or the Twilight series like I had hoped to. I think I'm over the Twilight thing now, so I will probably keep Outlander on my list of things to do.

2011 goals are going to be low, I have a lot on my plate for the coming year. I'm going set a reading goal of 45 books and get my TBR shelf to 25. And, of course, getting rid of the books. I've already started on this one by making my account active again.

And now, a list of my favorites from 2010...

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon. What's not to love? She's created amazing characters, detailed stories and she left off with a cliff hanger.

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper. This book met all of my expectations. It was really a great read with lots of entertainment value.

Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. What can I say? I'm a sucker for fantasy worlds and girls that kick ass. The fact that the author has gotten back to what she does best (plot and character) and away from the "all sex all the time channel" only makes me adore the series even more.

Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson. Did I mention I'm a sucker for fantasy worlds and girls that kick ass? No? I originally picked up this series for The Spawn, but the violence is too graphic for him at this age.

Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan. This series I haven't finished yet as The Spawn is reading the last book (for the second time. Apparently it really was that.good.) but I'm totally into this series.

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. Every year there is one book that catches me completely by surprise. This one is it. I read this for the book club, and I didn't expect to enjoy it. I was wrong. I loved this book from page one. The character, the voice, the tone, the stories... it was more than just a book about horses, it was about life and love and survival.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I'd hung back from reading this book because I had tried to watch the TV series but didn't get into and had heard the books were not as good as the series. This is a case where the "rumors" weren't true. I blew through this book in two days and enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books.