Monday, October 31, 2011

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Read: October 22-31, 2011
read in 10 days
pages: 293

I was hoping to be more wow'd by this book, as it was a very cute cover and a clever title I thought, and was pretty happy to have stumbled upon it at the library when I was literally browsing every shelf for a random book to read. Turns out it was just ok. I was not wow'd and while the title of another of her books sounds good as well I'm not thinking of reading it after this one let me down.

I did like the southern down home feel. I liked the country phrases and while the characters were religious to an extent, I did not feel as though I were being hit over the head with the religion. So yay, big plus there.

What didn't work for me was while I understand the reason for the bok being split into four parts because there was some stuff Catherine Grace dealt with in each of the sections. What didn't work for me was the third section how it seemed to lack any form. I don't mind a novel throwing in some epistolary sections, in fact I tend to enjoy them, but this felt incredibly disjointed, which if the author was going for that feel then kudos it worked, however it seems more like a happy accident. The section revolves around Catherine Grace being away from home and maybe that was the need for the disjointed feel. Makes sense to me if I try to rationalize it that way.

Anyways a two star book. It was kind of funny that I stumbled across the book that deals with a young girl in Georgia as she grows up. AND IT WAS IN THE ADULT FICTION SECTION! So here I am reading an "adult" book and I'm still reading about teens. Probably why I liked it at all.


Ok so Saturday morning I get an email informing me of a new Twitter follower. It is MJ Rose the author of The Reincarnationist and The Memorist. I've read The Reincarnationist and was a little let down as I really expected the novel to be good. It had an awesome premise and I thought it would be similar to Dan Brown's Davini Code.....turns out it was but not far enough away to be a great story on its own. Disappointment to say the least. But it is cool that she is following me, little ol' random me on Twitter. All my Twitter posts are for the most part are my Goodreads updates. Still cool either way. I will say this: while I didn't particularly enjoy it, I will one day be picking up another one of her novels to give her another chance.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Read: October 21-27, 2011
read in 6 days
pages: 214


This story was just all kinds of strange. The characters were weird. You could tell when reading it that the family was just a little off. Not that that gave the town any reason to treat them as they did, however it sure explains alot. I liked the sisters. I found the uncle to be very strange and I really disliked the cousin that shows up on their doorstep. And I'm a little happy to find his stuff destroyed in the fire thanks to little sis and happy to see he is displaced from the home!

I was a bit let down that the tragic event that took place is never replayed as things happened in the moment. Things are recounted a few times over the course of the novel through the uncle's memories and the sisters at one point, but given the distance of the retelling it had little chill effect aside from the nonchalance with which the sisters and uncle speak of the event as though it were not too horrible.

The book was not fantastic but its wasn't bad either. Nothing I'm likely to re-read, and not really sure I could recommend it to anyone because I'm not sure who would really enjoy it. What I liked was reading something else by Shirley Jackson. I remember reading her short story The Lottery in high school and I liked it. So this was a nice addition to being a little more familiar with the author. I would like to read another one of her novels like The Haunting of Hill House. One day. Not likely one I'll read too soon though.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Battle Royale Volume 1 by Koushun Takami, Masayuki Taguchi

Read: October 16-20, 2011
read in 4 days
pages: 672

I'm still not sure what I should rate this book. I didn't hate Battle Royale, it is tolerable in a very twisted and sick way. While it is incredibly violent and reminds me very much of the The Crimson Labyrinth which I had a hard time with I was not as opposed to this as I was the novel. I'm not sure why the novel version of a similar idea of "survival of the fittest" bothered me more than this manga/graphic novel did. I'd think that seeing the images drawn out for me would have been worse. Course I'm not saying the images are tame by ANY MEANS and that it didn't bother me cause it did. This is incredibly graphic and could turn the stomach of some sensitive readers. While it didn't bother my stomach, it does make my heart race and makes me very tense. I'm literally jumpy as I sit here and type this. Crazy? Maybe but that's the honest to goodness truth.

The first night I read a chunk of this, and it reads super quick given the format and the intensity of which is pulls you in. It keeps you reading to see what will happen next, who will be the next victim and I found that I HAD to read a different book, something much lighter AND watch a half hour comedy sitcom before I felt calm enough to turn the lights out and go to sleep. That said I am definitely giving myself a breather between the first book and the second book.

I'd recommend the book to anyone curious about the concept of "survival of the fittest", anyone not weak of heart or stomach. I think this is the kind of book that will stick with you. It will not be easily left behind. If you are not interested in feeling anything as you read, well by all means by pass this one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty

Read: October 15-16, 2011
Read in a day
pages: 180

Not terrible. Not great or amazing though either. Literally a weekend book. In fact depending on your speed you could finish this is in a day.

Young woman meets her father and step mother who is only 40 years old, which makes her younger than herself, in New Orleans to find out her father is losing his eye sight similar to the way her mother also lost hers years before. She returns to her childhood home with her step mother and her father in a coffin due to his death after surgery. Not sure exactly why he died, he did linger three weeks after his surgery though and the Dr did not believe it was the eye surgery that was the culprit. Either way Laurel returns to her childhood home and learns a little about herself, her parents and their relationship with one another and the true personality of the childish step mother she has. In the end Laurel finds that objects are not what she needs to cling to but the memories that she has of the loved ones she has lost.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Read: October 10-14, 2011
Read for 4 days - ABANDONED not finished
pages read: 78

This reads very much like a text book. I have given up and will not be finishing the book. I just can't get through the book. The characters are incredibly flat. This is not so much a young adult book as it is a grade school book. It is educational in terms of one young girls experiences during the plaque that took over PA, and would be a great historical introduction for the younger crowd it is intended for.

I do have intentions on reading her novel "Speak" however to see if the hype over it is true and whether it really is that great of a novel or not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Read: October 7-10, 2011
read in 3 days
pages: 396

Much much better than Revolution. I'm amazed really that this was written by the same author. This novel has much better characters and while there is SO MUCH going on in terms of issues the author touches on I was able to make a connection with the main character Mattie. Course it helps that she LOVES books and words as much as I do. Her thirst for knowledge is a characteristic I really enjoyed. It is inspiring as well. At one point she describes her teacher Miss Wilcox's library as though she has stumbled upon "Ali Baba's cave" and that she was "breathless, close to tears and positively dizzy with greed."

There is the issue of race with the Weaver as the only black boy in Eagle Bay. His mom is working and saving all her money to get him into college. The character is interesting but there is not a lot covered on him other than his father was killed in front of him and his mom for not having moved from the side walk when three white men told him to. Weaver experiences a similar incident and shows that he follows in the same temper and refuses to take crap from anyone. Unfortunately this is still 1906, and while he does seem to get some retribution when the men who beat him are arrested, the retribution is short lived as his mother and home is attacked and burnt and his college fund is taken.

Feminism is explored as well as it is introduced to Mattie thanks to Miss Wilcox. Mattie finds that the poems Miss Wilcox lets her borrow make her think in ways she has never thought of before. That women can be more than she ever knew possible. She finds that Miss Wilcox is actually Miss Emily Baxter: the writer of the poetry! So she exposes her to the idea and encourages her to get her education, get her diploma and also to pursue her writing into college and become a writer who makes people care about Eagle Bay and real people like herself.

Mattie also struggles with poverty. She knows she is poor but she also sees those around her like Emmie Hubbard who are worse off. She begins working at the hotel and is exposed to people who take vacations. To her "tourists are a race of people who have enough money to go on vacation for a week or two, sometimes a month or even the whole summer." Mattie can't imagine going a day without working. Its is the only way of life she has ever known. This hit home for me thanks to the current economy we live in. I can relate a bit to her thinking in this, as some people just don't know how the other half live.

Mattie does in the end decide rather than live the life that Royal is offering, one that is not a life based on love but on convenience, she decides she would much rather lead a life of her own. I was really surprised to see her leave in the end. I did not expect it. It was a nice surprise. I think what helped Mattie form her decision was being exposed to the strong willed, independent woman in Miss Wilcox.

The added twist to the novel was that there was a murder mystery element. Mattie was faced with whether or not she should uphold the promise of destroying the letters Grace had entrusted her with. She wrestled with promise keeping throughout the novel, and she realizes in the end that Grace has a story that deserves to be told rather than snuffed out after the letters are burnt.

Just a great story. I really enjoyed it. I'd recommend it to teens, it may not be up to speed for adults. But it was really good for being a teen novel. I'm not sure how accurate the historical aspects were, but for me what was there worked. I don't go back and fact check I tend to trust the author has done the leg work involved.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To Read List and Such

I'm nearly done reading A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, and will likely have a posting for that tomorrow afternoon. Wow. I'm having a hard time putting it down when I pick it up. (I only set it down this time because its a tough moment for Mattie and I couldn't get my own emotions in check, so I'm going to pick it up again before bed.)

What a great story though. There is a lot going on and the book tries to tackle a lot of things. I'm enjoying the characters MUCH more than her novel Revolution. I could start reviewing it now although I have less than a hundred pages left. I'll wait though because I have a few quotes that I want to mention that caught me.

On another book related note, I ordered a copy of the book The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern from and I can't wait to get it in my hands. I heard about it a few weeks back on NPR when they had interviewed her. From the sounds of it the premise of a circus that only starts after dark I was intrigued, and then when she described the look of the book I knew I needed to see it first-hand. I'm sure it could be one of those false misleading books that have BEAUTIFUL covers and really not be too great to read, but since I was able to pay NOTHING for it thanks to my rewards on my Amazon card I thought why not?!

I've compiled a to-read list for the next few weeks, likely to last this month and quite possibly take me into next month as well. Its not set in stone or anything just a potential direction for my reading habit. I like a goal so.....and a portion of the list no particular order........

I'm also at some point going to be reading Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant because I have every intention of seeing the film because well.............

Friday, October 7, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Read: September 25, 2011-October 7,2011
read in 13 days
pages: 472

This book took my entirely too long to read. Which was in part my fault that I didn't have much time over the last week, and I wasn't really into my reading mode as I have been. No shocker I read nearly non-stop for a while I was bound to hit a breaking point eventually. The other part of the fault I have to give to the book. I hate saying that about a book, but sometimes it really can not be helped.

What I liked about the book for starters was the fact that there was the historical fiction aspect. I'm attracted to them and that portion of the book had my attention. I won't say everything was completely accurate because I honestly don't know. I am not a history buff by any means, although I do enjoy a bit of history now and then, but this did spark my interest in the French Revolution. It did take a while to get to this part of the book, and I was glad when it did because that helped me want to finish it.

There were a couple things I didn't care for, one was well the main character Andi. She is just annoying. I never felt any connection to her. She is a teenager and quite honestly a very disturbed and depressed one. Part of her characteristic is that she shuts down and pushes people away, but to keep the reader at a distance too makes it hard for the reader to want to see the story continue and wonder what is going to happen to the character. There were frequent mentions of her brother and the fact that he died very young. This is a reason for her being as screwed up as she is and why her family is broken, but we never find out exactly what happened or how he died until I believe it was the last 100-50 pages. I'd rather have found out sooner. Maybe the writer was using this bit of information as a draw to keep the reader reading, but for me it was irritating.

Would I recommend it? Nah not really. I've read good things about her book A Northern Light, and actually am starting it tonight to see if maybe it is as good as it is billed. Who knows, it may be much better.