My love for Jasper Fforde is no secret. And by love, I mean: I have read all of his novels; I recommend his books to friends, neighbors, and semi-acqu...moreMy love for Jasper Fforde is no secret. And by love, I mean: I have read all of his novels; I recommend his books to friends, neighbors, and semi-acquaintances, and Jasper Fforde is way, way up there on my "Authors I want to Meet in Person" list. That said, I was absolutely giddy when I received a review copy of The Song of the Quarkbeast.
The Song of the Quarkbeast is the second in Fforde's first Young Adult series. The first in the series, The Last Dragonslayer was actually written in 1997, before Fforde published the first Thursday Next book, but it wasn't published until 2010 (2012 in the U.S.). Fforde has only improved in the subsequent years, and I think this partially explains why I liked book: The Last Dragonslayer, but I loved The Song of the Quarkbeast.
With the wizidrical levels on the rise, Jennifer Strange is busier than ever running Kazam Mystical Arts Management. She's up against those who are more interested in exploiting the magical arts for financial gain than they are in upholding the noble magical tradition.
I love how Fforde upends our expectations for the fantasy genre in these novels--Jennifer Strange can't do magic, magicians use their magic for rather mundane tasks. Fforde's genre-mixing is always invigorating. I really enjoyed how this book spent more time with the wizards of Kazam. Full Price, Half Price, Cadet Perkins Perkins, Lady Mawgon, Wizard Moobin, The Transient Moose, The Once Magnificent Boo: even their names are funny. Their quirky personalities are one of my favorite things about this series. I grinned the whole way through this book.
The Dream Thieves is the sequel to Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. Set in a sleepy southern Virginia t...moreOriginally Posted on Intellectual Recreation
The Dream Thieves is the sequel to Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. Set in a sleepy southern Virginia town, The Dream Thieves, explores Ronan's secrets.
For me Maggie Stiefvater has not made a misstep yet. Nearly everything about her writing and her books is just perfect. Stiefvater always creates a rich, atmospheric setting. It almost leaps from the page. In The Dream Thieves, the town of Henrietta is almost as much of a character as the characters themselves. And speaking of characters, I love these Raven Boys, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah. And I am blown-away with how well Stiefvater describes a tight-knit group of boys. Another thing to love about this book: 300 Fox Way. That house of psychics, Maura, Orla, Calla, Persephone, makes me so happy. Happy because there are some adults in the story, and they are even semi-responsible (yeah!), and they play a big role in action. Blue continues to be a rock. She's not quite as dominant in this book as she was in The Raven Boys, but there are some heartbreaking moments with Gansey. The Grey Man even turns out to be a surprising favorite. The Dream Thieves is predominantly Ronan's tale, and somehow, with Ronan, Stiefvater has crafted a character that is tough and vulnerable all at once.
I love a great, original concept, and The Dream Thieves has it. The supernatural elements in this story--Ronan's big secret, Adam as eyes and hands of Cabeswater--will not disappoint. I can't not mention Stiefvater's writing. It is gorgeous as always. I'm really enjoying her foray into the third person. Stiefvater's books are almost impossible to read quickly because the language is just too beautiful to rush. Stiefvater has mentioned that The Dream Thieves was a difficult book to write, and I believe it. It's a puzzle that has to come together perfectly, but I think she pulled it off splendidly.
The only thing that I wish I could change about this book is when I read it. The book is set in the hot, steamy days leading up to the 4th of July. How wonderful it would have been to pair this book with the summer stickiness.
The Dream Thieves is out September 17th, 2013(less)
For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling of Jane Austen'sPersuasion where the stakes much are higher and more dangerous. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the caste system of Luddite overlords and Reduced underlings is challenged by the rise of Post-Reductionists.
Everything about this book is breathtaking--the world-building, the characters, the atmosphere. I am so amazed at Peterfreund's creation. I wish I was still reading it.
If you love a good post-apocalyptic novel but are having a hard time finding a good one in the deluge of dystopias out there these days, read this one.(less)
Okay for Now follows Doug Swieteck, a character in The Wednesday Wars, to a new town and a new beginning. Doug has a rough family life, a volatile father, one brother in Vietnam and one who is always picking on him, and a loving, but powerless mother. Needless to say, Doug is rough around the edges, but Marysville, despite his initial disdain for the town, ends up being so very good for him. I couldn't not love this battered kid who has such a good heart and so much potential.
As with The Wednesday Wars, Gary Schmidt brings in so many details that probably make me predisposed to love this book even more, such as great teachers, libraries, Jane Eyre, horseshoes, running, and John James Audubon (American art history!). Each and every one of these things helps Doug strip away that tough kid facade.
Okay for Now is a companion novel to The Wednesday Wars but not a sequel, Holling Hoodhood only makes one appearance, but it is a worthy one.
Doug's voice is so strong and so funny but also so vulnerable, and it's one of the things that makes Okay for Now poignant and real and amazingly good.
Update 2012: Just finished reading this again. It's still a nearly perfect book, deserving of every one of those 5 stars. I hope my book clubers liked it too. We'll find out in a couple weeks.
I read it on my iPod this time, and it was fun to look up Audubon's pictures on the internet. I would flip back and forth to see them in full color.(less)
I've read Corrie Ten Boom'sThe Hiding Place at least three times. One of those times was as a audio book on our epic trip to Disneyland with the Dana...moreI've read Corrie Ten Boom'sThe Hiding Place at least three times. One of those times was as a audio book on our epic trip to Disneyland with the Danahers (8 seatbelts in the car, 8 passengers). The Hiding Place was the book club pick for August. Some of my thoughts on the reread:
I really enjoyed the descriptions of the house, clockmaking, and life in Haarlem before the war. Reading about the work of the underground was fascinating. I was struck by how many miracles occurred in the concentrations camps. Those miracles blessed not only Corrie and Betsie but the other prisoners (and sometimes the guards) as well.
This was a great book club pick. Even though I had read the book before, and knew what was going to happen, I really powered through it. is a book that everyone should read. Corrie and Betsie display such humanity and strength of character, and even in such dire circumstances they stay true to themselves and continue to love their fellow man.(less)
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, along with her mother and younger brother, is taken from her home in Lithuania and sent to a Siberian work camp.
I had...moreIn 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, along with her mother and younger brother, is taken from her home in Lithuania and sent to a Siberian work camp.
I had heard all kinds of praise for Ruta Sepetys's debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, and it received a long list of awards, which I think were well-deserved. The book is well-written, gripping, and sad. I loved how Sepetys describes the way the Lithuanian prisoners worked together and tried to help each other despite their dire circumstances. I poorly written survival novel makes me cringe, but a well-written survival novel can be a beautiful thing. Ruta Sepetys took her inspiration for this book from her own family history. The horrors of in the world in 1941 were numerous, to put it mildly, and the plight of those exiled and imprisoned by Stalin are often too easily forgotten. This novel tells of a time and a place in history that definitely deserves a story.
I'd like to get my hands on Sepetys second book Out of the Easy. I've heard good things about that one too.
In 1982 college student Laura Reid goes to Leningrad with a study abroad program. She meets Alexei there. As Laura gets more and more involved with Alexei the stakes get higher, and although Laura loves Alexei she's not sure his motives are pure. I liked this book more than I thought I would. I didn't think I would get this engrossed in a Cold War novel, but I found myself reading it in the wee hours of the morning, oscillating, along with Laura, between trust and mistrust of Alexei. The Boy on the Bridge is definitely not your typical fairytale romance. The other characters in the novel, especially Olga and Roma are solid and mysterious. It's clear that Laura always feels like the foreigner, the outsider, and, thus, the reader does too. The professor/ type-A student in me cringes at how seemingly uninvested Laura is in her studies, but I can shove that aside. This novel could also easily be classified as New Adult, if one is looking for something in that category or age range.
My biggest piece of advice if you want to read this book: DO NOT READ THE SUMMARY. It gives way too much away.
Okay, so I have a confession to make: I just didn't really get The Thief The Queen's Thief 1 or The Queen of Attolia. Everyone loved those books, but...moreOkay, so I have a confession to make: I just didn't really get The Thief The Queen's Thief 1 or The Queen of Attolia. Everyone loved those books, but as I read them I felt kind of lost. There were moments of greatness, but overall I had no idea what was going on. I wanted to love The Thief and The Queen of Attolia because they were clearly epic and great. Everyone said so, but after kind of struggling through the first two books, I decided to not go on to The King of Attolia.
On to the present day. I was browsing the books available for checkout in ebook form from my library, and I saw The King of Attolia. I decided maybe it was time to give it a go. And, you guys, it was great. I don't know what happened since I read the first two books in The Queen's Thief series. I don't know if I read the first two books at the wrong time, if I am just more familiar with the world (though I can't be that much more familiar at this point, surely I've forgotten much, yes?), if the writing improved, or my reading was more focused, or perhaps a combination of all of the above. One thing that I know made this book so enjoyable for me was the fact that I know Eugenides's character, so I knew that he was messing with the guards and the court and everyone. I was so eager to see what he had up his sleeve.
I finished the book are started looking around to see how I could get my hands on the next in the series A Conspiracy of Kings, so I guess I am fully converted. (less)
On the eve of her 40th birthday Alice faints during her cycling class and wakes up believing that she is 29, and a lot has changed in ten years.
I enjo...moreOn the eve of her 40th birthday Alice faints during her cycling class and wakes up believing that she is 29, and a lot has changed in ten years.
I enjoyed this book more than I thought that I would. Alice is appropriately named as this is kind of an Alice in Wonderland type of situation. Alice is completely overwhelmed by the changes in her life and sets about to right them. Her memory loss allows her to get to the bottom of situations that had become convoluted and oppressive due to years of history. But Alice doesn't remember that history, so the members of her family find themselves opening up to her.
At first as a reader it's tempting to make judgments about who was better person: the past version or present version, but what I really loved about this book is that both versions are just real.(less)
Everyone said this book was absolutely impossible to put down, and everyone was right. That Gillian Flynn could keep all of us glued to this story abo...moreEveryone said this book was absolutely impossible to put down, and everyone was right. That Gillian Flynn could keep all of us glued to this story about two pretty unlikable characters is pretty impressive. Or maybe no one can look away from a train wreck.(less)
I liked Tris's tale in The Circle Opens series every bit as much as Daja's. My favorite thing about this series are the fabulous settings. I don't thi...moreI liked Tris's tale in The Circle Opens series every bit as much as Daja's. My favorite thing about this series are the fabulous settings. I don't think anything could beat the ice and snow and skating of Cold Fire, but Tharios was pretty cool too. It has an ancient Mediterranean flavor to it mixed in with some Hindu elements. The food sounded very tasty. Also, I really liked the craft magic involved in this one, glass making. It was interesting to read about a mage who came into his power late in life. Sandry, Briar, and Daja all trained children, Keth gains his power in an unusual way. I think Tamora Pierce is really good at mixing the crime novel and fantasy novel genres. I always get little glimmers of Beka Cooper when I read the books in The Circle Opens series. Of course, the Circle series was written first, but my first taste of Pierce's work was the first Beka Cooper novel, Terrier, so I have a soft spot in my heart for it. After reading the Circle Opens Series I can see why Tamora Pierce decided to write more crime/fantasy novels.(less)
I read a Halloween book and a Thanksgiving book. I didn't think I was going to be able to read a Christmas book, as I am beholden to the whims of the...moreI read a Halloween book and a Thanksgiving book. I didn't think I was going to be able to read a Christmas book, as I am beholden to the whims of the library queue. I got my Christmas book after all. The Doomsday Book takes place during Christmas. In fact, it contains two Christmases. Christmas in Oxford in 2047 and Christmas in a town near Oxford in the 1300s.
The Doomsday Book is actually the first in the Oxford Time Travel Series. I loved Connie Willis'sBlackout and All Clear. In those books, time traveling historians journey to London during the Blitz. In The Doomsday Book Kivrin travels to the Middle Ages. She's the very first historian to ever travel to the Middle Ages, and it's a rough journey. Back in Oxford things aren't so great. An epidemic has the city quarantined.
It's fun to read more about the time traveling historians. Mr. Dunworthy and Colin are also in this book. A lot more time is spent in Oxford in this novel. And, if you read Blackout and were confused about how time travel worked, this book explains things a bit more.(less)
Eleanor & Park is the kind of quiet story that creeps up on you and, before you know it, you can't seem to put it down. I think much of the book's loveliness is due to Rainbow Rowell's beautiful writing. It's the kind of writing that swells in your chest as you read and settles there to stay. The third person limited tense that switches between Park's and Eleanor's perspectives, really worked for me. (I'm finding being in teenagers' heads rather wearing right now.) Sometimes the lovey teenage books are too lovey for me, but this one was okay, partly because the language was fabulous but mostly because the relationship is not rushed. We get to know Eleanor and Park over the course of almost an entire school year. Also these kids are a couple of really endearing (at least partially self-proclaimed) misfits. Park is so earnest and Eleanor is so fragile and prickly. She is dealing with some stuff that will break your heart. This book will be that much better if you have ever ridden a school bus, or if you love 1980's music and comic books.(less)
The third installment in the Penderwicks series is every bit as wonderful as the first two. In The Penderwicks at Point Mouette the three youngest gir...moreThe third installment in the Penderwicks series is every bit as wonderful as the first two. In The Penderwicks at Point Mouette the three youngest girls take a trip to Maine with their aunt. I loved that the younger girls got to be the stars of this book. I also love Jeffrey. I love the little details, like MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters), OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick), and Penderwick Family Honor. The Penderwicks are such smart, kind, and funny children. These are books that will remind you how wonderful it is to have a sister.
Cold Fire is the third in Tamora Pierce'sThe Circle Opens Series. It features Daja. As is the formula for this series, she discovers some unusual mag...moreCold Fire is the third in Tamora Pierce'sThe Circle Opens Series. It features Daja. As is the formula for this series, she discovers some unusual magic--this time in young twins--cooking magic and woodworking magic. While setting about to teach the twins and find them good teachers, Daja is also dealing with a series of devastating fires, and a supposed hero with a disturbing obsession.
Oh my, the world in this book! The city of Kugisko is so cool. It's a city built on a number of small islands and linked by canals. Located in the far north, Kugisko's days are short and its nights are long, its waterways are frozen all winter long, and people ice skate from place to place. The city had kind of a old world Scandinavia or Netherlandish quality.
Daja is really a joy to read about. She has such a solid a sense of self. I think Cold Fire is the best in the series, at least so far. (less)
Dr. Marina Singh travels to the Amazon to find Dr. Annick Swenson, who is working on a new and very valuable drug. There was just so much in this book. It would be a great book to discuss with friends or in a book group. The book was very carefully constructed. There are lots of really lovely thematic links from beginning to end.
Who knew that a book about a pharmacologist could be so engaging. The last third of this book features one mind-blowing event after another. I would have given this book 5 stars and put it on my best of 2012 if not for (view spoiler)[ the ending. I can't get over Marina's lapse in judgment at the very end after see finds Anders. It's not the sex that bothers me, it's the fact that Marina completely ignores its implications. She has been eating the bark of that tree! Then she no longer craves the tree bark. I think Annick is right, and Marina would return to the Amazon, but maybe not with a baby. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In book two of Gail Carriger's series Alexia and Lord Maccon travel north to Scotland to investigate a strange case of mortalness among the country's...moreIn book two of Gail Carriger's series Alexia and Lord Maccon travel north to Scotland to investigate a strange case of mortalness among the country's supernatural set.
Book two of The Parasol Protectorate is even more fun that book one. Alexia has lost none of her verve and wit. Lord Maccon is just as gruff and boorish as ever. Professor Lyall is the perfect Beta, and Lord Akeldama is still everyone's favorite vampire. Plus, the group is joined by the impeccably dressed and ever-mysterious Madame Lefoux.
In book two we learn a bit more about just was it means to be a preternatural. The set up for book three had me rushing to get Blameless.(less)
When I read about Zoo Story on Janssen's blog I thought it would be an interesting read. I was more taken with it than I expected. Thomas French write...moreWhen I read about Zoo Story on Janssen's blog I thought it would be an interesting read. I was more taken with it than I expected. Thomas French writes of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, its inhabitants, its CEO, and its controversies. The book begins with the relocation of several African elephants from a reserve in southern Africa. Rescued from a cull, the acquisition of these elephants, the brain child of CEO Lex Salisbury, sparked a huge debate and plunged Lowry Park into several years of growing pains.
With every page this book forces the reader to confront the very conflicted and contradictory nature of zoos. They are both prisons and sanctuaries for endangered animals. The business of running a zoo can run contrary to conservation. The design of the animals' habitats can been seen as both a benefit to the animals and as a rather disturbing simulacrum for the visitors.
I loved (and was heartbroken by) the stories of the king and queen of the zoo, Hermann the chimpanzee and Enshalla the tiger. (less)
So I often have a hard time with survival/journey stories, but I also really like fantasy. Do these seem like conflicting preferences to anyone else?...moreSo I often have a hard time with survival/journey stories, but I also really like fantasy. Do these seem like conflicting preferences to anyone else? So many fantasy stories have a quest element to them. It's kind of a central tenant of the genre. I guess what this means is that I like really good fantasy novels. If there is going to be a journey it better be awesome.
Finnikin of the Rock has a journey element to the story, so I was a little worried at first, but the journey is not the driving force of the book. Nor is not one of those fantasy books where a bunch of stuff goes wrong on the journey. There certainly is a lot of hardship and sorrow, but there is a lot of healing as well. In fact, I thought Finnikin of the Rock was pretty masterfully done. The cursed land, youth with potential. Anyway, the book started out kind of slow for me, but I ended up thinking it was pretty good. Melina Marchetta is a very good writer. However, it wasn't the kind of book that had me dying to read the sequel. Although I've heard that Froi of the Exiles is even better than Finnikin of the Rock.(less)
A couple of months ago Sarah and Deblina of Stuff You Missed in History Class did a podcast on Madame Tussaud. She was a really fascinating figure who...moreA couple of months ago Sarah and Deblina of Stuff You Missed in History Class did a podcast on Madame Tussaud. She was a really fascinating figure who weathered the French Revolution by being very, very smart and cautiously playing both sides. Also, she was an amazing artist and savvy businesswoman.
The novel follows Marie Grosholtz's (Tussaud is her married name) life from 1789 until 1794. (With an epilogue outlining the rest of her career--you will learn more about this part of her life if you listen to the podcast.) Marie learns wax modeling from her uncle, Philippe Curtius, and together they run and maintain their Salon. Marie works for the king's sister, Madame Elisabeth, as a tutor. At the same time she and her family are hosting folks like Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins, Marat, and the Duc d'Orleans in their home every Tuesday evening. They truly are keeping a foot in both worlds. Marie meets all sorts of famous people like Jefferson and Lafayette. As the Revolution and subsequent Reign of Terror ensues, Marie and her family have to be very, very careful. They must change their exhibition constantly to keep up with who is in power. They have to make death masks of the more famous and infamous people who were sentenced to the guillotine.
The details of the French Revolution (which is rather difficult to follow because of all the swift changes in leadership) are explained really well. There is a lot of history in this book, maybe more than some would like.
Madame Tussaud is definitely a really interesting historical figure. Read the novel if you want lots of details or listen to the podcast (I love the Stuff You Missed in History Podcasts) for a briefer, but very thorough, synopsis of her life(less)
Kate Crane is a professional ballet dancer for a company in New York City. Her sister, Gwen, is also a member of the company, and a star. Gwen recentl...moreKate Crane is a professional ballet dancer for a company in New York City. Her sister, Gwen, is also a member of the company, and a star. Gwen recently suffered a nervous breakdown and has been packed off to Michigan. Kate struggles with Gwen's absence.
It's no secret that I love dance, and that I love ballet. So that's one positive check for this book already. Kate takes us through the injuries, the practices, the performances. The glittering successes and stresses of a professional dancer. However, Kate is also seriously struggling Gwen's absence. Gwen is gone, but she is always present in Kate's mind. And Kate's mind is not serving her well these days. In fact, Kate is so trapped in her own mind that everything else seems a little clouded. It's so well done and a tribute to Meg Howrey's excellent craftsmanship. The reader has no idea if things are going to end well or fall completely apart. (less)
Eowyn Ivey'sThe Snow Child is a retelling of a Russian fairytale about an old, childless couple who build a girl out of snow that comes to life. Ivey...moreEowyn Ivey'sThe Snow Child is a retelling of a Russian fairytale about an old, childless couple who build a girl out of snow that comes to life. Ivey sets her story in 1920s Alaska. Mabel and Jack, our older couple, are new homesteaders in this harsh wilderness.
This is a really lovely piece of magical realism. Ivey does a fantastic job adapting this tale. One never quite knows if Faina (the snow child) is real or not. The chapters with Faina have no quotation marks--a hint that something magical is taking place? I loved all the descriptions of the wilderness and life on the homestead. I also love when characters are developed throughout a novel, and Jack and Mabel certainly grow.
The Snow Child is a novel about family, life and death, loss and love. It was also a fun book club pick. I wish we had talked about it longer. I love how everything we have read for book club, thus far, has been so different.
I'm certain that no one needs me to tell them what Laura Hillenbrand'sUnbroken is about. Louie Zamperini's story is insanely amazing. Here were some...moreI'm certain that no one needs me to tell them what Laura Hillenbrand'sUnbroken is about. Louie Zamperini's story is insanely amazing. Here were some of my thoughts while reading it:
1. How could I not love all the running stuff?
2. When reading about Louie's time as a bombardier I could not help thinking about Joseph Heller'sCatch-22 because the main character of Catch-22, Yossarian, is also a bombardier in WWII. A lot of the horrifying things that happen in Catch-22 really happened to Louie and his crew mates--the ever raising of the air missions, the inept officers (ordering Phil's crew to take out that faulty plane). And, now I know why Yossarian always dropped his bombs with very little attention to the target--the pilot can't do any evasive maneuvers until the bombs are away and the computer is no longer flying the plane in a straight, unwavering line.
3. Anyone who has a fear of sharks is absolutely justified. That time on the raft was unreal.
4. Reading about the POW camps was hard. Really hard. Because I had already read about the Bataan Death March and POW experiences in a couple of other books it wasn't new to me, and I think that not newness made it more difficult for me to get through. I just kept wishing the war would end.
5. So, so glad that Louie was able to find redemption and have a good life.(less)
I have been meaning to read one of Sarah Addison Allen's books for some time. I had heard all sorts of good things about them.
Willa Jackson and Paxto...moreI have been meaning to read one of Sarah Addison Allen's books for some time. I had heard all sorts of good things about them.
Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood live in the little town of Walls of Water, North Carolina--though they occupy very different social spheres. The renovations of the Blue Ridge Madam reveals some secrets from past generations of Jacksons and Osgoods that will draw Willa and Paxton into an unlikely friendship.
The Peach Keeper is about coming home, embracing one's true self, and making room for good things. It's about building and protecting friendships. Both Willa and Paxton are well-rounded and loveable protagonists. Equally engaging is the cast of supporting characters--Sebastian, the local dentist and once outcast; Colin, Paxton's twin brother; Rachel, the coffee-ologist, and grandmothers, Agatha and Georgie. Paxton and Sebastian's relationship is particularly moving. Plus, I love that this book has only the very slightest hint of magic.
Look for more reviews of Allen's work. The ebook versions of all of her novels can be checked out from my local library, and if one wishes to read while feeding a wee one, an ebook is the way to go. (less)
This is the first book by Sophia Kinsella that I have read, although I have, of course, heard of the Shopaholic Series. When I started reading I've Go...moreThis is the first book by Sophia Kinsella that I have read, although I have, of course, heard of the Shopaholic Series. When I started reading I've Got Your Number I said to myself, "Self, this is why you don't often read chick lit, you cannot deal with the stupidity of the protagonists." And, in the beginning I really was horrified by the stupid things that Poppy was doing, but you know what, (as the 4-star rating would attest), I was wrong. And actually, I think this was done quite brilliantly, because Sam also thinks Poppy is pretty ridiculous at first and Poppy doesn't have a lot of confidence in herself either, but as the plot progresses, Sam and Poppy and I grew to realize how wonderful, smart, and capable Poppy really is.
In the end I really loved the book. Sam and Poppy are really well drawn characters, and I do love to see some character growth in a novel. Most of all, this book is fun. (less)
Kate Moore and her husband Dexter move their family to Luxembourg for Dexter's job. At first, Kate is living the life of an expatriate--taking the boy...moreKate Moore and her husband Dexter move their family to Luxembourg for Dexter's job. At first, Kate is living the life of an expatriate--taking the boys to school, having coffee with other expats. However, she can't seem to shake her CIA, and she becomes increasingly suspicious of her new best friends.
Chris Pavone'sThe Expats is a quick read. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I liked the switch back and forth between the past and the present. The foreshadowing increased the tension. I don't read a lot of crime fiction, and I think one of the things that made this book work for me is that Kate is a mom. She's supposedly living the life that I'm living (albeit in a more exotic locale), but really she has spy skills. (less)
Wilkie Collins'The Moonstone is considered England's first detective novel. Collins, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, crafts a tale about the disap...moreWilkie Collins'The Moonstone is considered England's first detective novel. Collins, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, crafts a tale about the disappearance of a Indian diamond, the moonstone. He tells the story through the words of several narrators, each of whom knows the details of only one particular point in the case. I enjoyed this method of tale-telling.
I really enjoyed The Moonstone. At different points I suspected each one of the major characters. They all seemed to have amply motive and opportunity. However, I was quite pleased by the ultimate culprit.
We read this for my first book club meeting in Maryland. I think it was a good choice, even if others are tired of old British books. (Mentioned with humor.) It's not necessarily a book that I would have picked up on my own, but one that I definitely should have considered with or without the added incentive of a discussion.(less)
Rules of Civility is narrated by Katey Kontent (as in happy, at peace, and yes that is significant). Katey tells of the year 1937 and her friendship w...moreRules of Civility is narrated by Katey Kontent (as in happy, at peace, and yes that is significant). Katey tells of the year 1937 and her friendship with Eve and Tinker.
Rules of Civility transports the reader to New York in the 1930s. The setting is so rich. The book would make a perfect mini-series or period movie. 1937 turns out to be a very important year for Katey. She seems to uncover her own ambition and determine that she will move in the circles of the wealthy. But Katey has the perfect amounts of ambition and social climbing. She is always a likeable character, smart, and introspective, though perhaps never fully three-dimensional. The reader feels she is bettering herself, living up to her potential and not overreaching and sacrificing her better qualities.
Lots of nods for lovers of literature and art - Stuart Davies, Walker Evans, Social Realism. I think the what struck me most about this book was its mood. In a book like this where the characters are running around attending extravagant parties and such, the mood could be frenetic, but it's not - it could be described as gray, foggy, comforting.(less)
The Selection is a mashup of The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. America Singer lives in a Illyria, the country that takes the place of the United Stat...moreThe Selection is a mashup of The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. America Singer lives in a Illyria, the country that takes the place of the United States of America after a third World War. It's a monarchy with a strict social structure. To seal the goodwill and loyalty of the commoners, a prince of the realm always selects his bride from a group of commoners in a process called The Selection. America reluctantly submits her profile and is asked to come to the palace and meet the prince. When she arrives with the other young ladies she finds the prince to be more human than she expected, and she also learns that Illyria is more threatened than the government lets on.
I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. The world is well constructed and the media elements make for an interesting twist on princess selection. I'm definitely reading the sequel.(less)
I remember feeling kind of meh about the first this series, Delirium. I liked Pandemonium a lot more. I think it was because there was more action and...moreI remember feeling kind of meh about the first this series, Delirium. I liked Pandemonium a lot more. I think it was because there was more action and less swooning. I also really like how the novel alternates between the past and the present. The book has a lot of teasers for book 3, Requiem, but I didn't feel like it was filler, as some second books in trilogy are sometimes labeled. I'm really excited to see where the next book takes us. I think I'm glad that I waited so long to read book 2 because now I won't have to wait so long for book 3.
As Dena pointed out, I definitely see the similarities between this book and Scott Westerfeld'sPretties. The Lena in book two is changed--reborn as she says--as is Tally. [spoiler: Also, there's the conclusion that seems to be setting the love triangle a la [book: Uglies].]
As a side note, I still find this loveless society completely unbelievable. I don't think a society built on families would work in a loveless society. I think it would have to be more like the society in Aldous Huxley'sBrave New World. I know the Book of Shhh stresses duty, but sometimes I think the only reason my kids are still alive is because I love them. In a world without love you would be looking at a lot of neglected kids. (less)