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BOOK REVIEWS > Charity's Fall Reading

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message 1: by Charity (last edited Nov 20, 2010 01:38PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) FALL READING CHALLENGE

5.1 Red Harvest: Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett 10/18
5.2 The Play Must Go On: The Crucible - Arthur Miller 10/14
5.6 She's a Beauty: The Great Lover - Jill Dawson 11/5

10.7 City Lights: Breastless in the City - Cathy Bueti 10/10
10.10 Group Hug: The Lost Language of Cranes - David Leavitt 11/20

15.4 Fall Equinox: Chef - Jaspreet Singh 9/14 and Lamb - Christopher Moore 10/5
15.5 Literature Map: The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells 10/20
15.6 One-Hit Wonders: In Cold Blood - Truman Capote 10/27
15.7 Solve the Mystery: The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 11/18

20.1 Bookmarks Magazine: A Week in December - Sebastian Faulks 9/13
20.2 Music Tells the Story: American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis 10/8
20.10 Group Read: Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins 9/1

25.2 As Her Debut: Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 9/12 and Commuters - Emily Gray Tedrowe 9/7

30.1 It's in the Cards: Been Here a Thousand Years - Mariolina Venezia 9/4 and The Raw Shark Texts - Steven Hall 9/6
30.4 Mysteries & Animals: The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett 10/14 and The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett 10/16
30.7 Good Spirits: A Woman's Life - Guy de Maupassant 10/12 and Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote


The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - David Mitchell

The Count of Monte Cristo - 1000+
Steven Hall
Emily Gray Tedrowe

message 2: by Charity (last edited Sep 03, 2010 08:16AM) (new)

Charity (charityross) Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2010
390 pg.
Read - 9/1/10
3 Stars

Have to say that this did not live up to my expectations. I really enjoyed the first two books of the trilogy, so I certainly expected the last book to be every bit as good as its predecessors. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed for most of the book. Maybe it was because the other two books had a central event taking place (the Hunger Games) that kept the pace and the plot on track, but this book really seemed scattered. It was a decent enough read overall...I just wanted more.

Task: 20.10 Group Read: Most Wanted

message 3: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Been Here a Thousand Years A Novel by Mariolina Venezia

Been Here a Thousand Years by Mariolina Venezia
Translated by Marina Harss
Picador, 2010 (2006 - Italian; 2009 - English)
264 pg.
Read - 9/4/10
3 Stars

I love a good family saga, but I didn't think this family's story, told through several vignettes, really allowed the characters to be fleshed out much. I would just be getting into a character's story and then their part in the whole saga would be over and they'd barely be referenced again (if at all). There were many lovely and tragic aspects, but it still definitely left me wanting.

Task: 30.1 It's in the Cards (Q of Hearts)

message 4: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
Canongate, 2007
428 pg.
Read - 9/6/10
1 Star

This is a classic example of why it is typically a good idea to trust your instincts. I had started reading this book about two years ago and got about halfway through before chucking it aside. I thought maybe that I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. After all, several of my friends had read it, raved about it, and recommended that I pick it up, pronto. So, it had to be bad timing, right?

Well, here it is, almost two years later, and I must say that my first impression of the book was right on target...crapola. I didn't find it entertaining or amusing (and maybe it's because I'm not British, but why is naming a cat Ian funny??). The whole thing just really grated on my nerves. I hate when a book makes you feel like you are missing out on the you are just not hip enough to "get it". Ugh.

I gave you two chances, RST, and that was more than you deserved.

Task: 30.1 It's in the Cards (J of Clubs)

message 5: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Commuters by Emily Gray Tedrowe

Commuters by Emily Gray Tedrowe
Harper Perennial, 2010
375 pg.
Read - 9/7/10
4 Stars

I really found this book to be a breath of fresh air after some recent lackluster reads. I was quickly pulled into the story and became attached to the characters. However, I must say that I was disappointed that there wasn't an epilogue to give you closure. While I don't think things necessarily need to be wrapped up neatly with a little bow, having a better idea of what happened to the characters you've spent so much time with makes you stay connected to them, rather than feeling like the door has been slammed on you.

Another thing that irked me was when one of the characters professed that they "could care less." The expression is: couldn't care less. If you could care less, then there is less you could care...which doesn't make much sense. If you couldn't care less, you are at the end of your caring. Sorry, just a big pet peeve of mine and it was distracting seeing it in print like that. I know, I know. Grammar snobs are mean.

All grievances aside, I thought it was entertaining read and I'm sure I'll pass it along to a friend at some point. (Pay no attention to the Crusty Reviewer behind the curtain.)

Task: 25.2 As Her Debut (Part B)

message 6: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Sense and Sensibility (Everyman's Library) by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Everyman's Library, 1992 (1811)
367 pg.
Read - 9/12/10
4.5 Stars

I think Jane Austen is simply wonderful. Her characters and settings just come alive in my mind and I become so wrapped up in the worlds portrayed in the pages of her books. Sense and Sensibility proved to be no exception. I loved following Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in their quest for marriage and through the scandals that plagued their society. While I didn't find it to be as strong as some of Austen's other works, it definitely wasn't her weakest (I'm looking at you, Mansfield Park). The fact that Miss Jane was only 17 when she penned this classic, and that it is still being praised almost 200 years since its first publication, is nothing short of amazing.

Task: 25.2 As Her Debut (Part A)

message 7: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
Doubleday, 2009
390 pg.
Read - 9/13/10
2 Stars

Well, the writing wasn't half bad, but try as I might, I really couldn't connect with any of the characters. Frankly, I thought they were pretty one-dimensional...caricatures, even. My other beef with the book was that it was rather anti-climatic. There's a whole build up to...nothing. Gee, thanks. I was pretty bummed since the book started off so well. :(

Task: 20.1 Bookmarks Magazine (Jul-Aug)

message 8: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Chef A Novel by Jaspreet Singh

Chef by Jaspreet Singh
Bloomsbury, 2010 (2008)
246 pg.
Read - 9/14/10
2 Stars

While I typically love books set in India and/or Pakistan, I felt disconnected with this story almost from the get-go. Some of the imaging in the book was pretty good. I could almost taste the tandoori and naan, could almost smell the nag champa. However, despite some of those amazingly colorful passages, I was never really pulled in to the actual storyline. Very disappointing overall.

Task: 15.4 Fall Equinox

message 9: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:10PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) Lamb The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Harper Perennial, 2004 (2002)
437 pg.
Read - 10/4/10
4.5 Stars

Well, this book was just chock-full of irreverence and hilarity. There were many times that I laughed so hard I might have peed a little. My first, but definitely not my last, Christopher Moore. I have definitely found a new favorite humor writer to obsess over. Many thanks to all my GR friends who recommended this to me. You all rock!

Task: 15.4 Fall Equinox

message 10: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:10PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Vintage Contemporaries, 1991
399 pg.
Read - 10/8/10
4 Stars

What the effing crap?

This book was beyond bizarre, but I really dug it. What does that say about me? I loved when Patrick would go off on his tangents about music, which reminded me somewhat of Alex DeLarge in a A Clockwork Orange. I was really impressed with what Ellis managed to pull off with this novel. How twisted can you get?

Task: 20.2 Music Tells the Story

message 11: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:10PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) Breastless in the City A Young Woman's Story of Love, Loss, and Breast Cancer by Cathy Bueti

Breastless in the City: A Young Woman's Story of Love, Loss, and Breast Cancer by Cathy Bueti
Cleveland Clinic Press, 2007
160 pg.
Read - 10/10/10
3 Stars

A very good friend gave me this book in the hopes that I would be of comfort during my own struggle with breast cancer. While I thought the book did offer some comfort and inspiration (in that there will eventually be an end to all this, even if it doesn't always seem that way), I thought the writing was a little simplistic and I didn't much care for the overall tone of the book. Eh, just okay.

Task: 10.7 City Lights

message 12: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:11PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) A Woman's Life (Penguin Classics) by Guy de Maupassant

A Woman's Life by Guy de Maupassant
Translated by H.N.P. Sloman
Penguin Books, 1982 (1883)
202 pg.
Read - 10/12/10
5 Stars


Wow! I have to say, Guy de Maupassant really knows how to write a woman! I was extremely in love with this book from start to finish. It read like a soap opera and with each twist, turn, and revelation in the story, I would gasp and actually say, "No way!" What's the last book that you can claim made you do that, huh? I really never wanted the story to end.

Task: 30.7 Good Spirits (Part A)

message 13: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:11PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Penguin Books, 2000 (1958)
157 pg.
Read - 10/13/10
3 Stars

Unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed with this one. Yes, Capote is a talented writer, who can really turn a phrase, but I never really felt much of a connection with any of the characters in Breakfast at Tiffany's and the story kind of lost me at the end. However, I did enjoy the other stories in the book, House of Flowers and A Christmas Memory (which I've read before).

Task: 30.7 Good Spirits (Part B)

message 14: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:11PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Penguin Classics, 2003 (1953)
140 pg.
Read - 10/14/10
5 Stars

Whoa! Talk about your confirmation bias! This is one giant clusterfuck and absolutely terrifying. I have seen the film, but the play is the thing, as they say. One of the most chilling books I've ever read. Truly.

Task: 5.2 The Play Must Go On

message 15: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:12PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Vintage Crime, 1992 (1933)
201 pg.
Read - 10/14/10
4 Stars
I can't remember the last mystery I've read that was as amusing as this one. Hell, I can't think of another mystery that was actually amusing, but this one really had me chuckling throughout. Nick and Nora Charles are brilliant characters and this book is loaded with pithy one-liners. I can't wait to check out The Thin Man movies that I hear are not to be missed!

Task: 30.4 Mysteries and Animals (A)

message 16: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:12PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Vintage Crime, 1992 (1930)
217 pg.
Read - 10/16/10
3 Stars

This book always seems to be held up as the gold standard of hardboiled crime fiction, but frankly, I'm a bit at a loss. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with the story, there just didn't seem to be anything necessarily great about it either. I thought Sam Spade was kind of one note and that may be because I had just come off of reading about Nick Charles, who was far more entertaining. Has the brilliance been lost over the generations? Who knows? But, The Maltese Falcon really fell short of my expectations.

Task: 30.4 Mysteries and Animals (B)

message 17: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:12PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
Vintage Crime, 1989 (1929)
216 pg.
Read - 10/18/10
3 Stars

Maybe I just hit the noir wall, but this just seemed to have waaaay too much going on in it. I could barely keep track of everything. Perhaps one I'll have to revisit down the road. I would like to check out the adaptation with Jimmy Durante, which I hear is stellar but not faithful.

Task: 5.1 Fall Colors

message 18: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:13PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) The Island of Dr. Moreau (Dover Thrift Editions) by H.G. Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
Dover Thrift, 1996 (1896)
104 pg.
Read - 10/20/10
4 Stars

A creepy, twisted tale of science going horribly and horrifically wrong. There are many a scene from this book that will be forever seared into my mind (blechety blech). I never knew how terrifying (and disgusting) vivisection could be, but ewww gawd, get me off the island!

Task: 15.5 Literature Map

message 19: by Charity (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:13PM) (new)

Charity (charityross) In Cold Blood A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Vintage International, 1994 (1965)
343 pg.
Read - 10/27/10
5 Stars

Despite how much I thought I knew about the events surrounding this book, I really wasn't prepared for this spine-chilling tale of cold-blooded murder in the Heartland. I kept hearing the narrator of Forensic Files in mind as I read, which really didn't help matters. This was definitely an edge-of-your-seat read that had me checking and rechecking the locks before bed each night. Stranger and more disturbing than any fiction could hope to be, this book is a haunting one to be curled up with as the nights get longer and colder. Highly recommend!

Task: 15.6 One-Hit Wonders

message 20: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) The Great Lover A Novel (P.S.) by Jill Dawson

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson
Harper Perennial, 2009
301 pg.
Read - 11/5/10
3 Stars

Admittedly, I think I might have found this selection much more interesting had I been more familiar with the poet Rupert Brooke beforehand. I wouldn't say that it is necessary to have advance knowledge of the subject, but it would certainly be helpful. That being said, I thought that a great portion of the book was extremely engaging...I was far from bored! (There is plenty of shagging; the title doesn't lie.) But, there were a few meh moments where my attention began to wane. Overall, can't say that I was disappointed. I especially liked that the author added some of Brooke's poetry at the end of the text, including the poem, The Great Lover.

P.S. There is also some scuttlebutt involving the author H.G. Wells in the book. I haven't bothered looking it up yet (to check for accuracy), but it certainly added an intriguing little side note to the story.

Task: 5.6 She's a Beauty

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