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Finish Line 2011 > Faye's 2011 List - 100% Complete

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message 1: by Faye (last edited Jan 02, 2011 04:30PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
1. Clockwork Angel

For the most part I enjoyed this YA book. Liked the historical setting and everything kept moving along as it should. Some YA I read and think that I could do better, but this wasn't one of 'em. Unfortunately, the dark and brooding love interest that was supposed to intrigue me and keep me yearning for the second book was just a little too contrived to not be fairly annoying. Also, it's been a while since I read Mortal Instruments, but the characters seem a little too similar.

message 2: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
2. Fall on Your Knees

An epic family drama (emphasis on epic) that circles back on itself over and over, managing to make sick and twisted seem poetically beautiful. Worth a read; but so soon after reading it, I'm not sure if it's tarted up trash or a literary treasure.

message 3: by Rose (new)

Rose (obsessedreader9) | 215 comments Fall On Your Knees is a TREASURE. It is brilliantly devised and beautifully told. It is one of my favorite books.


message 4: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Obsessedreader wrote: "Fall On Your Knees is a TREASURE. It is brilliantly devised and beautifully told. It is one of my favorite books.


Okay. Thanks for setting me straight. I did give 4 stars. The vast amount of flawed characters you want to root for and the dramatic painting of the Cape Breton historical setting obviously weren't slopped together overnight by a talentless hack.

message 5: by Connie (new)

Connie Faull | 611 comments Faye wrote: "Obsessedreader wrote: "Fall On Your Knees is a TREASURE. It is brilliantly devised and beautifully told. It is one of my favorite books.

Okay. Thanks for setting me..."

I have to agree it is a Literary Treasure. I was surprised you would think it was possibly "tarted up trash." I know it dealt with a difficult subject matter, but I recall that it was done tactfully. It definitely made me have feelings about the subject matter that maybe weren't pleasant, but I think that's what great literature and art are supposed to do!!!

This book was one of my favorite books.

message 6: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Connie wrote: "Faye wrote: "Obsessedreader wrote: "Fall On Your Knees is a TREASURE. It is brilliantly devised and beautifully told. It is one of my favorite books.

Okay. Thank..."

Well, if you take away the incestuous thoughts, incestuous actions, lap dances, philandering, inter-racial lesbian relations and out of wedlock babies, there's not much plot left, just religious longing, piano playing and majestic sweeping seascapes - which is why I had to consider for a moment the value of the book beyond being prettily written.

Of course, I was thinking all this before realizing how loved the story is by so many people.

After some thought, the value is there in the familial support and love.

Don't get me wrong on what may seem as a devaluing of books featuring lap dances, philandering, inter-racial lesbian relations and out of wedlock babies - all these are the making of some wonderful stories, but not necessarily "literary treasures."

I guess this would be a good book for a book club!

message 7: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
3. Changeless

I think I love Gail Carriger. Not many authors have so much fun with the language. I speed read paragraphs so that I could see what titillating and delightful vocabulary would pepper the next paragraph. So witty and the story line is quite perfectly put together, too. I think she is the most entertaining and clever author I have ever encountered in the supernatural genre.

If you like the supernatural genre and/or witty use of vocabulary, pick up the first of the parasol protectorate series, Soulless, and I'm sure that you will be glad you did.

message 8: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
4. Blameless

Move over Harry, Bella, Sookie and Katniss. A new supernatural reigns supreme on this bookshelf!

message 9: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments I LOVE these books. Gail Carriger is brilliant.

message 10: by Faye (last edited Jan 31, 2011 10:04AM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
5. Water for Elephants

I really wanted this book for a long time; bought it for my Mom; borrowed it when she was done; read Kevin Beck's review; and promptly shelved it before cracking it. Stupid, stupid, stupid - how many times have I told myself NOT to read the reviews before reading the book? (Usually, I review the average rating only.)

Anyway, at the beginning of the book, I was distracted by the setting. I kept on thinking of HBO's Carnivale and seeing Samson as all of the circus characters.

However, upon completion, I see that the storyline is tight, the setting is well portrayed and I really enjoyed the "present" storyline contrasted to the past one. This is a quality book that I while I didn't instantly love, found to be better than average. You might even like it more if this is the first entertainment you experience based on a dustbowl circus.

The movie should be fun.

message 11: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
6. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England

I always think I would like to read more classics, then I pick one up and slog through the first chapter feeling like I'm missing every 3rd word - well, thsi reference book was enjoyable to read on it's own and helped fill in a lot the gaps. I'd just finished watching Vanity Fair before I'd read it and I kept thinking "oh that's what that was all about!" as I was reading the book. I expect it will help a lot when I next go to tackle a classic.

message 12: by Faye (last edited Feb 25, 2011 10:21PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
7. Beautiful Darkness

What I really like most about this series is the richness of the southern setting that doesn't often feel too cliched. However, reading through most of this book I felt a little "ho, hum, is something interesting going to happen, or not?" Ethan is sad because he's worried he's losing Lena and the whole story arc is mostly spent on this worry. It's not quite enough. The journey through an alternate world he goes through to find her requires a lot of belief suspension (which is par for course in fantasy), but unfortunately didn't do much to excite my imagination.

Amma comes to the rescue a few too many times and everything works out a little too perfectly, in a sense.

This is like reading a lot of depressed Bella not leaving her room, except in a more lovingly constructed environment.

message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments Faye wrote: "6. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England

I always think I would like to read more classics, the..."

I've heard of this book, and I've always meant to read it. Sigh, another book on my to read list!

message 14: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Well as you may know, I listened to this book rather than reading it and it was an absolute pleasure.

The phrases were lyrical, the characters were warm, endearing and/ or entertaining, - a beautifully written work. I enjoyed the story, though I wish that it had ended with the birthday sushi rather than going onto the major event thereafter, but I guess the author felt she did what she had to do.

The narration was good, too, the authentic accents took me away to Paris.

message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan (chlokara) | 846 comments I agree; a great book.

message 16: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
9. After Dark

You know how every once in a while someone will point out that they never do mundane things like go to the bathroom in movies or on tv? If this is something that has always bothered you, you may be interested in this book. Many everyday activities, such as a main character's washing and drying of hands are outlined in exquisite detail!

There is a chapter in which the reader is asked to be a camera and view every aspect in a room in which a character is sleeping. Yes, a whole chapter. The dreams are not described and the character doesn't wake up. And there are more chapters that take place in this room with this character in which slightly more happens. This is an interesting story-telling tactic in that one somewhat thinks these details may be of some sort of significance, but a full 99.98% of the 19,234,982,374 details provided end up actually being red herrings or superfluous.

There is also a lot of imagery that I suppose the author, publisher and some people may have fancied poetically symbolic. People's images are captured in mirrors long after they leave the room; a tv flickers images even though it is unplugged. I found these aspects to detract from the credibility and/or fun of the story given that the suspense in disbelief requested of the reader did not, unfortunately, move the plot forward in any way.

Some aspects of the language used bothered me, too. For instance the word "pregnant" is used twice in the first 2 chapters to describe non- animal things. You know, like as in the cliched "pregnant pause." For some reason I'm always turned off by the use of the word "pregnant" in this way. The the fact that the main character speaks "Chinese" becomes an integral part of the story line and is brought up many times. I'm pretty sure "Chinese" isn't actually a language. These issues could be translation-related.

At least the the book is thought provoking, if the length of this review is any indication.

There is a speck of an interesting story here, too; I just wish it was a short story or a newspaper article.

message 17: by Faye (last edited Apr 21, 2011 06:32AM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
10. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People

I really want to love Amy Sedaris' work. It's so close. The glimmer of what tongue-in-cheek perfection could be is there, but it doesn't quite make it. The pictures are perfect, but the text is just a little off. I got a few of smiles though.

message 18: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
11. Bitterroot

A not terribly-written, but somewhat cliched western in which flimsy female characters are objectified, intimidated, tortured and brutally violated and most of the slimeballs of the male persuasion end up shot or stabbed. Throw in a couple of white-supremacists, murdered child sex-slaves and ickily drawn out consensual sexual encounters and you've got the gist.

Excuse me, I have to go bleach my brain now.

message 19: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments You poor, poor thing...

message 20: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
What bothers me even more is that about 75% of the people that rated it gave it 4 or 5 stars - This was a level of sick that I don't want to believe a majority would find to be entertaining.

I'm okay with (literary) violence for the sake of a good story, but this was a story for the sake of an incredible amount of gruesomely imagined violence.

message 21: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments No accounting for taste. As you'll see from my response to the weekly discussion question. And now I know where the question came from.

message 22: by Faye (last edited Apr 26, 2011 08:51PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
12. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

David Sedaris has been lurking in all the right coffee shops and waiting rooms to capture the perfect modern and self righteous blather and eloquently stuff it into beaks and beasts.

I listened to this and I can tell you I had a smile on my face throughout my commute, especially when a fable was read by Elaine Stritch. Most of the stories had an impressively clever and unexpected twist at the end that is classic Sedaris.

This book was a little disturbing at times, too, though. I think anthropomorphization emphasized the darkness in a way.

message 23: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
13. The Woman in White

There's a reason this is a classic. Thoroughly enjoyed this mysterious twisted tale.

message 24: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
14. The Ruby in the Smoke

This first book of this series has a lot going for it: a suspenseful writing style; rich vocabulary; a tight, yet exciting plot line; good research; a critically acclaimed author, but about halfway through, I had to ask myself, "Why is it that I just don't seem to like it?"

Then I remembered the terms "Mary Sue" and "Gary Stu." That's it! We've got a female lead that:

- has tragically lost both parents
- runs away from a wickedly mean (for no reason) aunt
- has lovely golden hair and good looks
- is gentle, kind and goodhearted in all ways
- is smart and brave
- does not succumb to greed

Sally's only fault is that unlike other girls of her time, she is knowledgeable about finance and firearms. The author actually explicitly states that she is more like of a girl of modern times and thereby writes off this fault and further perfects her. Of course, the firearms bit comes in handy later on.

And then there is the boy, Frederick. Cheerful, artsy, daring, chivalrous, undyingly loyal, and clever enough to find the mysterious ruby's location without breaking a sweat, enlisting help, or even mentioning it. Oh yeah, and not testosterone-fueled in any way, but just skilled enough to take on the bad guys when necessary. On top of that, he has a lovely sister and spare room with which he can come to Sally's aid with. His only fault? Well, he's not so good with the business side of the photography studio and he is only too relieved when Sally can put her only "weakness" to use righting the books.

More of the problem: Sally meets Frederick in the street and one day, when Sally is evading a villain and Frederick unquestioning, provides shelter. About 2 weeks later, after Sally has moved in, she asks him to help her buy some opium (for a virtuous reason we won't go into here.) He helps her. When she accidently inhales some at the opium den, and trips out, the den mother, who Frederick has some history with, is adamant that this is not the first time Sally has been under the influence. Frederick is totally unquestioning and faithful to Sally and the story moves on. I'm sorry - you meet someone in the street, let them move in, help them buy opium, get it on good authority that they are a prior user, and everything with this is fine? Your faith and admiration not only unshaken, but not even considered?

Well, I don't think I'll be reading the rest of the trilogy. However, I can say that this book has helped me better understand the difference between children's books (YA?) and adult fiction. That being said, though, there is a lot of descriptive opium use in here for a kid's book!

message 25: by Faye (last edited May 12, 2011 02:12PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
15. The Radleys

A reasonably clever and well-executed YA vampire novel. If you are about to embark on a plane and have 10 books to choose from at the gift shop, you probably would be happy enough to have this.

message 26: by Emma (new)

Emma | 302 comments Faye wrote: "15. The Radleys

A reasonably clever and well-executed YA vampire novel. If you are about to embark on a plane and have 10 books to choose from at the gift shop, you probably would b..."

haha I like the way you quantify your recommendation with the airport analogy. That's what makes this site so interesting!

message 27: by Faye (last edited May 16, 2011 09:43PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
16. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

This has been on my someday reading list for a long time and if I'd known how much I'd enjoy it, I would have moved up the list a long time ago.

I listened to this, rather than actually reading it, and, in this instance, I'd say that was probably a mistake for a couple of reasons.

First of all there are some great quotes (Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu: "If triangles had a god, he would have three sides," ) and facts (Get this - Joseph Goebbels was excommunicated. Though you'd hope the reason obvious, it was really for marrying a Protestant!) in here that I'd probably like to commit to memory and they can't be re-listened to in the same way I'd imagine wanting to reread them.

Second, Christopher Hitchens is a better writer than orator. I had a tough time with the tone and timber. I had to concentrate on listening hard at points.

Maybe at some point I'll actually splurge on a print copy.

message 28: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
17. Bossypants

Mwah ha ha! This audiobook may be unsuitable for commuting due to genuine 30 second belly laughs followed by snickers. Love it! The best of the lady comedians.

message 29: by Donna (last edited May 20, 2011 01:41PM) (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Ummm... So, oops, cause I reserved the audiobook. I figured that, like David Sedaris, the tone of voice would impart more to the experience. Maybe I should just listen to it while cleaning house. I might actually clean my house....

message 30: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Donna wrote: "Ummm... So, oops, cause I reserved the audiobook. I figured that, like David Sedaris, the tone of voice would impart more to the experience. Maybe I should just listen to it while cleaning house. I..."

Well this will definitely make cleaning more fun. Tell me how it goes :)

message 31: by Faye (last edited May 22, 2011 10:30PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
18. Unbearable Lightness

This was a surprisingly difficult book to put down. An honest, intimate and powerful glimpse into a disturbed mind. I have even more admiration and appreciation for Portia de Rossi now.

message 32: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
19. Clara and Mr. Tiffany

I loved how this book explored the complicated relationship of the work "spouse" and a woman's loyalty to a company and coworkers. I think it is truly special for this depiction and is the reason for the 4 star rating. It was well researched, too.

I could never say for sure where the plot was headed, which is generally a compliment even though in this book it meant there were some periods where things didn't seem to be going anywhere. Additionally, some of Clara's non-work relationships were a little flat.

Maybe the book could have been trimmed by 10% by reducing the descriptive paragraphs.

message 33: by Faye (last edited Jun 02, 2011 09:39PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
20. Earth (the book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

Meh. I listened to this, and I just wasn't even tempted to crack a smile and I had set out to like it. Sigourney Weaver was the only redeeming feature, and she really only had a bit part.

I like Jon Stewart, but the only reason I can guess he wrote this was some sort of contractual pressure. It's not funny (which I expected,) but it's not educational or plot driven (not exoected), either. The little pop up hovering over the 2 stars "it was okay" seems even a little strong, though I didn't hate it like other 1 star books. Maybe it's a picture book?


Edit: What? This won an award for the audiobook. That's ridiculous!

message 34: by Tiffany, Administrator (new)

Tiffany | 1876 comments Mod
Faye wrote: "20. Earth (the book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

Meh. I listened to this, and I just wasn't even tempted to crack a smile and I had set out to like it."

I felt the same way when I read America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. I just couldn't get in to it. I found it funny like a little half smirk every 5-10 pages or so, but not laugh-out-loud, ha-ha funny. After a while, I decided it just wasn't worth my time (and effort! All that effort!) anymore. Then I felt like I should give back my Daily Show fan status.

message 35: by Faye (last edited Jun 08, 2011 04:05PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
21. The Looking Glass Wars

Fancy vocabulary and borrowed images thinly stretched over a frame of unlikeable "good guys" that are just as shallow and vengeful as the bad ones, a plotline that is absolutely predictable from start to finish, horribly annoying dialogue, general inconsistencies and magical powers that work or don't work all too conveniently. Bleh.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Faye wrote: "21. The Looking Glass Wars

Fancy vocabulary and borrowed images thinly stretched over a frame of unlikeable "good guys" that are just as shallow and vengeful as the bad ones, a plotli..."

You forgot the violence. I'm usually not opposed to a bit of fighting, but this was gruesome. I was so disappointed with this book.

message 38: by Faye (last edited Jul 09, 2011 09:09PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
23. Outlander

All the negative reviews are true. I understand why all my friends that have read it were kind of hesitant to admit to liking it and changed the subject whenever I asked about it.

Davina Porter does an excellent job of narrating the audio version. My conscience now talks with a scottish accent. There are lots of unforgivably horrific bits to fast forward through, but besides those it's oddly addictive. I didna ken how to rate this - it's likely the finest sadistic catholic porn available in the mass market paperback format.

message 39: by Faye (last edited Jul 09, 2011 09:25PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
24. The Year of the Flood

Someone, somewhere in this group recommended this book, and whoever you were, I am grateful to you.

Believe it or not, I'm an avid Canadian reader that has never before now read a Margaret Atwood book, novel or short. As a pre-teen, I remember some whispered dirty bits (most likely out of context) being shared about The Handmaid's Tale by some peer that was trying to shock me. Incredulous! If I read anything by her, I'd have to keep it secret so people wouldn't think I was a perv!

Then there's always the intensely-reverential talk show host promising that multi-award winning Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood will be offering an opinion or appearance that is set in such a tone makes you think her writing must be morally superior, formal and probably not very entertaining. Think of the feeling that masterpiece theatre spoofers exploit, which is hard to reconcile with the aforementioned gratuitous sex-scene recap.

Well, and then there's Ms. Atwood's hair. Eccentric, no?

Anyway, all of the above are the reasons I've been somewhat curious about her writing, but hadn't yet read any.

And boy, oh boy (yes, I just typed that), now I've got the same feeling as after I read my first Sarah Waters' book. I've just discovered what I know will be a new favourite author and, yeah!, there is a huge unread body of work waiting for me at the library. Let the revering begin.

What I specifically loved about The Year of the Flood was the originality of the plot and environment. Ms. Atwood didn't waste any time describing this highly-imaginative and foreign existence, she let the characters live it. It was so refreshing compared to the same old, same old, books that I've read so many of in the last few years that fit so neatly into a box held by a prescriptive publisher.

Unfortunately, as is my practice, I don't usually read other people's reviews of a book until I'm done or close to being done. It was only at the very end of the book that I read a review and realized that The Year of the Flood is the second book in a trilogy and I haven't read the first one! Oh, man. That's annoying. I guess the upside is that The Year of the Flood is so good I don't even realize that there was a previous book. The second upside is that most reviewers seem to think the book wasn't even a very good follow up, so the first one must be a real treat. Generally I wouldn't go back and read book 1 after book 2, but I wouldn't be surprised if you saw Oryx and Crake appearing on my read list in the near future. I wish my library's only audio version wasn't on cassette!

message 40: by Donna (last edited Jul 12, 2011 03:38PM) (new)

Donna | 1350 comments You've never read Margaret Atwood?! I'm stunned. "A Handmaid's Tale" goes down as one of the most frightening stories I've ever read. It's also the reason why I resisted things like direct deposit and debit cards so long as to be ridiculous. Jump in girl, the water is very fine.

message 41: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
Oh, Donna. I know. The good news is now I have all her works to look forward to.

message 42: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
25. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This book is really as though your rotten little brother got into your toy box and used your favourite dollies as stuntwomen for the amusement of the neighbour boy. Be the neighbour boy and it's jolly good fun.

message 43: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
26. Slaughterhouse-Five

More meandering and dreamy than I expected, with some truly ugly war imagery.

message 44: by Faye (last edited Aug 03, 2011 10:33PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
27. Heart-Shaped Box

Don't have a good storyteller in your family to tell you creepy ghost stories around the campfire this summer? Bring this book and you'll yelp with every scrape against the tent.

message 45: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
28. The Great Gatsby

A perfectly eloquent story of excess in the American '20's

message 46: by Faye (last edited Aug 11, 2011 09:24PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
29. A Red Herring Without Mustard

I just love Flavia de Luce. I think she is likely my favourite character of all time! Funny, clever and just the right amount of darkness. Bishop's Lacey is a magical setting, too. I found this installment to be just as charming as the first. Hats off to Alan Bradley.

message 47: by Faye (new)

message 48: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments So, what did you think of it?

message 49: by Faye (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
I wish that I hadn't received such a spolier as a kid, but it was well written and scary, too.

message 50: by Faye (last edited Aug 24, 2011 11:00PM) (new)

Faye | 673 comments Mod
31. Theft: A Love Story

Superbly crafted characters, humorous descriptions and interesting plot twists, yet it somehow just didn't grab my heart.

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