I enjoyed Cecelia Ahern's The Book of Tomorrow. Tamara Goodwin felt real as a formerly spoiled teenager for whom everything is crashing around her sin...moreI enjoyed Cecelia Ahern's The Book of Tomorrow. Tamara Goodwin felt real as a formerly spoiled teenager for whom everything is crashing around her since the suicide of her father. Her growing concern for her mother's mental health, her shock-inducing language when speaking with her adults and admitting to knowing better, her reassessment of who her friends are -- these and more are why I loved this character. I liked the other characters, especially Sister Ignatius, who is the type of friend every women needs in her life -- the older, wiser, accepting and unpreachy sort who will always be honest if asked directly, but will keep things to herself when it's not her place to share.
I also enjoyed the story and the mysteriousness surrounding the family background. There were enough twists that I couldn't see everything coming. What prevented me from giving this five stars, was that the ending felt too rushed -- too much telling of what happened in the past, rather than allowing the discovery by Tamara, which I think would have made it better. That's just personal opinion, and I did truly enjoy The Book of Tomorrow. I think it is great YA fiction, and the fantastical elements were not so over-the-top that readers who generally aren't fantasy fans (such as myself) couldn't enjoy it. (less)
Confession: I somehow missed the announcement of Pluto’s demotion from being a “real” planet and only heard about it’s reclassification something like...moreConfession: I somehow missed the announcement of Pluto’s demotion from being a “real” planet and only heard about it’s reclassification something like two years after the fact. (Seriously — where the heck was I?) Even my husband has made fun of me for that. I’ve been set straight as of a few years ago, though I never actually bothered to find out just what it meant for Pluto to not be a planet, or why it happened. When I saw Mike Brown’s How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, I was curious enough to pick it up, and am I ever glad I did.
Mike Brown takes us through his journey from becoming interested in planets, to setting his professional goal of discovering a new planet, to the events of several years while he led teams in discovering large objects beyond Pluto and the subsequent controversies over his discoveries. During these exciting times, he also manages to fall in love, marry and start a family, and the author shares these events as well.
I'm impressed by how Mike Brown presents the science, without requiring his audience to be scientists to understand. Not only was I able to follow, but I was very much drawn in. How I Killed Pluto... goes beyond the science and is above all else a love story -- love for his wife, love for his daughter, love for the science and for maintaining its integrity. This was an excellent read that I'd recommend to anyone. (less)
A lifelong reader now in my later 30’s, it’s rare that I finish something and declare it one of my all-time favorites. I mean, that is reserved for the books that I have loved for decades and have read and re-read more than I can remember. I think the last books to be added to my favorites were Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow, both by D.H. Lawrence, that entered the list in my early 20’s.
Enter the newcomer — Steffan Piper’s Greyhound. I hope it finds a wide audience and gets the recognition it deserves. This is a coming-of-age journey along the lines of Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. I’m not sure if it’s because I can relate to the setting better (I was born in 1972 and would be only slightly older than the protagonist) or because of my own issues with one of my parents, but this novel captivated me even more than those. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but I will stand behind it.
The writing was beautiful and not a word wasted. (I don’t know if I can explain what I mean by that, I realize, but maybe some readers will understand.) Even though some of the events were unbelievable — or rather, that the sheer number of these events happened on one trip — it never felt over the top or like reading fantasy. I’d need to write my own book just to give my analysis of the characters, so I’ll just say that the author did a superb job crafting them, and leave it at that. Well, and to say how important characters like Marcus are for showing the reader that good is not always found in the most likely places.
I think Greyhound was brilliant and I highly recommended it. I can’t wait to read more from Steffan Piper.
I would have rated Megan McCafferty's Bumped higher than three stars, if it were not for the jargon. I understand that were such a situation to exist...moreI would have rated Megan McCafferty's Bumped higher than three stars, if it were not for the jargon. I understand that were such a situation to exist as the Virus, that naturally language would evolve to depict life in those times, but so much of the terminology was just plain crass. Totally unnecessary, in my opinion. I could put up with a lot of it, but it was just too much. (Pro Boner work? Really?) The jargon was forced, not at all witty (despite the blurb on my book jacket) and detracted from what was otherwise an enjoyable read.
The positives: 1) The premise is intriguing; 2) It had a brisk, fun pace and I wanted to keep reading; 3) I liked how Melody and Harmony's attitudes evolved and their characters revealed.
The ending was frustrating, but forgiveable (provided the sequel is good.) I'm glad there is a sequel in the works. I look forward to reading it. (I just hope the annoying jargon is toned down a bit.)(less)
I'm torn about my rating for Listen. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed reading Listen. I did... mostly anyways. I felt the ending was a disappointment,...moreI'm torn about my rating for Listen. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed reading Listen. I did... mostly anyways. I felt the ending was a disappointment, like the author had gotten tired of writing it and rushed an ending that was a little too neat and tidy and didn't really feel just to me. But I would read more of the author's work, because there was a lot that I did enjoy. It just kind of didn't fully meet my expectation after what I though was a mostly strong first half.
The premise was certainly interesting, and there were characters (Frank -- loved him) and parts of characters (Damien's love of words, crosswords) that I enjoyed. But there were elements that weren't believable enough for me. (Sorry, but Damien is in what, his 40's and works for a newspaper -- no way he'd be so incompetent with computers.` Even a laggard would know how to perform a simple web search, and he's a guy who was so anxious to do investigative journalism? Can't buy him as a character because of this.) When I read fiction I don't need for it to be realistic, but I do require some degree of believability in the characters as far as what they'd do, what they're like, etc., given the situation they're in (even fantasy can accomplish this.) But I didn't fully believe in Damien, or Kay, or most of the parents, or the kids. I wanted to like it more that I actually did. (less)
Brock Clarke's Exley was both maddening and exhilarating. I always felt an urgency while reading to read faster, to get to where all is revealed. I wa...moreBrock Clarke's Exley was both maddening and exhilarating. I always felt an urgency while reading to read faster, to get to where all is revealed. I wanted to figure out this child and determine the truth so desperately, and rarely am I so drawn into a book. The writing is excellent, the premise brilliant, the characters simultaneously charming and borderline repulsive, and the journey frustrating but worth it, so worth it. (less)
I purchased this for my disorganized and under-achieving 7th grader. It has some decent advice, in particular for those facing the adjustment of newly...moreI purchased this for my disorganized and under-achieving 7th grader. It has some decent advice, in particular for those facing the adjustment of newly entering middle school. Mine is halfway through, but I thought the homework and organization tips (and how to get on a teacher's good side!) would be useful. Some of the writing is cheesy, of the eyes-will-roll-further-back-in-the-head-than-one-ever-thought-possible variety, but overall it's a decent selection for sixth and seventh graders. Some suggestions I can't really imagine anyone trying -- at least not without resulting in some disastrous social spurning -- but most readers probably wouldn't take those suggestions seriously anyway. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School is written in a light humorous tone and offers (for the most part) some useful information and advice.(less)
Most impressive to me is Hannah Pittard's beautiful prose -- lyrical and dreamlike, I really loved it. I enjoyed the premise and how the author wove t...moreMost impressive to me is Hannah Pittard's beautiful prose -- lyrical and dreamlike, I really loved it. I enjoyed the premise and how the author wove the memories with the present-day and with the theoretical. Enough is held back that the reader feels the tension of anticipation and the angst of keeping the dream alive. (less)
Save as Draft is an epistolary work told through emails (both sent and unsent) and social network updates via twitter and facebook -- a fitting format...moreSave as Draft is an epistolary work told through emails (both sent and unsent) and social network updates via twitter and facebook -- a fitting format for these times. At the beginning the protagonist tells her friend (electronically of course) that she's giving up on love and rejects the lame suggestion of online dating, which she promptly signs up for, of course. What follows is Izzy's correspondence with an early match, her best (guy) friend/crush, and her girlfriends, two of whom are married and another who is single and also wading in the online dating waters.
Here is the #1 reason I did not rate this book higher -- I disliked Izzy, for the most part anyway. Her emails and updates are so self-absorbed and her flirtations are cringe-inducing, in my opinion. She endlessly is fishing for complements, a trait I cannot stand in anyone. However, I cared enough about her to be happy for her in her happiest moments and to be heartbroken for her in that loneliest period. (Although I do not approve of some of the things she did during those times, but I cannot say more without giving spoilers.)
I felt this was a great concept, and I did enjoy reading it, but I could have loved Save as Draft had I not felt the main character to be such a brat.(less)
I read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym for the first time when I was nine years old, after receiving a volume of the Complete Edgar Allen Poe as a...moreI read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym for the first time when I was nine years old, after receiving a volume of the Complete Edgar Allen Poe as a gift. While I devoured the short stories and the poetry multiple times, this, Poe's only novel, was read by me once, and I'm not even able to remember if I finished it. I picked this up to read in preparation to read Mat Johnson's satire, Pym (excellent, 5 stars btw.) Man, did I ever hate this. It was so excruciating to read, whether by design (to demonstrate the dual-authorship as described in the preface gimick) or just because Poe didn't "get" the concept of a novel, I couldn't really tell.
The thing that frustrated me most, was the long boring descriptions and tangents that read more like encyclopedia articles. As if Poe, perhaps unable to break out of his short-story-mentality, was creating "filler" to draw out his work into the length suitable for a novel. I think at one point he described storms or something (I really lost focus, it was so boring) for about 20 really long paragraphs, and in the next killed off 13 people in the course of four sentences. That's the exciting part that should have been expanded, Edgar! Maddening!
And Pym and Augustus -- what idiots they were! It was comical how stupid they were. That's actually what probably saved this from being a one-star review. I would read, get all infuriated with how preposterous they were and/or how Poe totally barely touched on the interesting stuff in favor of boring crap I could care less about, and it made me laugh. Like I said, I don't know if Poe wrote it this way on purpose, but I think I almost respect it more if he did. I drove my husband nuts telling him what crazy thing the idiotic characters did, or how deranged Poe must have been while writing certain sections.
Anyway, I'm glad I reread it so I'd have a better foundation before reading Johnson's Pym, but I'm unlikely to ever read it a third time. I've always been a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, but his only novel (and thank God there was only this one!) was, for the most part, not a pleasant read.(less)
I give Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother 3.5 stars for being an enjoyable and interesting read. It was good, but the writing fell short of what I'd give...moreI give Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother 3.5 stars for being an enjoyable and interesting read. It was good, but the writing fell short of what I'd give 4 stars to. I'm not grading based on my opinion of Amy Chua's parenting methods.
I appreciated Amy Chua's candor and I agree with some, though not all, of her parenting methods. I like strictness, making a kid stick with something, and having high expectations. I believe parents should be parents first (save friendship for when they're grown and don't need a parent.) I don't agree with screaming matches nor what some would possibly consider emotional abuse. I believe there is a middle ground that allows parents to raise successful, well-adjusted children. I do think the author is working on finding that and on tolerating her youngest daughter's rejection of her methods. Sadly for her, I don't think either Amy or her children (or husband and other family) were able to enjoy the precious times while her children were young. Sure, they will go to top-notch schools and be successful, but neither daughter plans to pursue music professionally, and I'm certain at least some of those long practice hours are to be regretted.
But, hey, Amy Chua has her dogs. In them she seems to have found some unconditional sort of acceptance and is able to give affection freely and fully enjoy her time with them -- well, at least once she was able to accept that they'd never be the best trained dogs ever. I'm sure her daughters love her and appreciate her, and I'm certain she loves her daughters (even more than she loves living through them,) but I can't help but think that the dogs got the best part of her.
Overall, I found this to be a quick and enjoyable read, and it definitely made me think about my own parenting philosophy.(less)
If I were rating based on the first two parts of Blood, Bones and Butter, then I would have given this five out of five stars. I can't quite put a fin...moreIf I were rating based on the first two parts of Blood, Bones and Butter, then I would have given this five out of five stars. I can't quite put a finger on why, but for me the "Butter" didn't flow as easy as the rest, despite having some of my favorite chapters.
Gabrielle Hamilton's writing is beautiful -- lyrical and descriptive. She also is brutally honest. I appreciate candor when it comes to memoirs, though some might find hers and her profanity at times offensive. Some of her experiences are quite shocking, and I was never uninterested in the details of her past.
I found myself fascinated by Hamilton's upbringing and her hypnotic dreamy descriptions of food, preparation of food, and events centered around food. I found myself starving throughout my read, and if I ever get a chance to dine in Hamilton's restaurant, I'll jump on it. (less)