Tuesday, September 30, 2008

so excited!

I just did my first blind request to an author. She is sending me the book! Watch for a new addition to my "waiting to be read (soon)" list soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Review : Nineteenth Street, N.W.

Nineteenth Street, N.W. by Brett Wood. Vanguard Press (2008).

Nineteenth Street, N.W. is the first novel of international economist Brett Wood. Despite what you might be thinking about economists right now, this is a great book. Wood presents a believable scenario of economic terrorism without getting too bogged down in the economics of it.

All the characters are likable and believable, even the terrorists. The novel is largely told from the viewpoint of Sophia, the mastermind of the terrorist plot. Wood humanizes her by showing us her fear and guilt even as she is plotting a global disaster. I found myself hoping the plan would be foiled at the same time I was hoping she wouldn't get caught.

Rarely do I plow through a 300+ page book in two days, but I never wanted to put this one down. I've read several first novels this year, and this is by far the best. Wood is already working on his second novel, and I'll be on the lookout for it.

reading update

I ran across this self-survey over at S. Krishna's Books, one of my favorite book blogs. I thought it was a great way to keep you updated on my reading.

What are you reading right now? Nineteenth Street, NW by Brett Wood. I'm really enjoying it so stay tuned for a review.

Why are you reading what you're reading? Pleasure? For review? Something else? I'm requested it for review so that's the primary purpose.

What did you recently finish reading? Maybe Baby by Matthew M.F. Miller. See my brief review here.

What do you think you'll be reading next? Next up is The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez, which I received from Hachette Books.

What was the best book you read this month? Why? Without question - The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. I really enjoyed this book. For my review, go here. It is the closest yet to overtaking The 19th Wife as my favorite of the year.

What was the worst book you read this month? Why? When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale. It drove me crazy. For details, see my review.

do I read banned books?

Fresh Ink Books posted this list of the most banned books with the following instructions:

"If you have read the whole book, bold it. If you have read part of the book, italicize it. If you own it but haven't gotten around to reading it yet, *** it."

I thought it sounded like fun so I did it for myself. Here it is. Oh, and yes, I do read banned books. :)

Feel free to comment on which one you think I should read next!

1. The Bible
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Koran
5. Arabian Nights
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
11. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
21. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
25. Ulysses by James Joyce
26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell
28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
29. Candide by Voltaire
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
31. Analects by Confucius
32. Dubliners by James Joyce
33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
36. Das Capital by Karl Marx
37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
39. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser***
42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
43. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
48. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
57. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
60. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
69. The Talmud
70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
75. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
78. Popol Vuh
79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
80. Satyricon by Petronius
81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner***
94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
98. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
100. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
102. Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
103. Nana by Émile Zola
104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
111. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
112. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
113. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
114. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
115. The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatly Snyder

Review : Maybe Baby

Maybe Baby: Parenthood is a Conception Away by Matthew M.F. Miller. Health Communications (2008).

Maybe Baby is a sweet, heartfelt, and comic glimpse at the effect infertility has on a man and his marriage. Matthew Miller takes us on an eighteen month journey as he and his wife, Constance, try any and every method to get pregnant. The true testament to Miller's writing is my enjoyment of his memoir despite my complete lack of interest in having children. I think this book would be a great read for any couple struggling to conceive or anyone close to such a couple.

Congratulations!

Devourer of Books is celebrating her 100th review. As part of her celebration, she is having a great giveaway. Check it out, enter to win, and congratulate Devourer of Books on her accomplishment!

Friday, September 26, 2008

I got a bloggy award!

Many thanks to avisannschild from she reads and reads for this honor! I'm excited that people are reading and enjoying my blog, especially since I've only been doing this for a few months.

The catch is to nominate seven other blogs for this award. Hopefully, I will hit a couple that haven't gotten one yet!

And my nominees are...
Bookish Ruth
Devourer of Books
Historical Boys: Historical Fiction for Men and Women
In the Shadow of Mt. TBR
She is Too Fond of Books
S. Krishna's Books
The Book Lady's Blog

I refrained from putting she reads and reads on my list just to prevent a vicious circle starting, but I really love her blog too! I hope you'll all check out these great blogs if they aren't already on your radar.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review : When We Were Romans

When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale. Nan A. Talese (2008).

When We Were Romans is told from the viewpoint of a nine year-old boy. Kneale's ability to maintain that voice throughout the book is remarkable even if a bit wearing. Lawrence, the narrator, gives the reader a stream of consciousness view into his journey to and adventures in Rome with his mother and younger sister.

I found the writing style tedious. In fact, I'm slightly annoyed with myself for finishing this book. I kept getting frustrated with it all the way through, but kept at it to find out if my hypothesis about this family was right. And, of course, it was. This is not an uplifting, or particularly original, story so don't expect it to be.

Bottom Line: If reading misspelled words and grammatically incorrect sentences drives you crazy, I wouldn't recommend this book for you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Review : The Kings of Innocence

The Kings of Innocence by Michael Burns. Tucket Publishing (2007).

The Kings of Innocence is a fine attempt for a first novel. It's the story of three recent college grads and the summer they became adults. Roy, Jay and Mark are childhood friends who come together again for two weeks in the summer of 2002. All three are still hanging onto their carefree college lifestyle--reluctant to move to the next phase of life. Over the course of the novel, these three young men are faced with challenges that force them to act like grown-ups for the first time in their lives.

Michael Burns' first novel is well-written. He has a definite way with words. I also thought the characters were well-drawn. I recognized the traits of each as true. Though each man is very different, I believed that they were a close-knit group. However, the resolution of the novel seemed slightly far-fetched to me. That being said, The Kings of Innocence was an enjoyable read. I think Michael Burns should definitely keep writing and honing his craft. If you like getting in on the ground floor of new talent, give The Kings of Innocence a try.

Review : Exit Music

Exit Music by Ian Rankin. Little, Brown (2008).

With all the crime dramas on TV these days, it's easy to think that cases can be solved in one hour. Exit Music, however, gives us a more realistic view of the time and effort involved in crime-solving. Detective Inspector John Rebus, the star of the novel, is perfectly painted as the veteran detective days from retirement. In addition to the crime, we witness Rebus' misgivings about leaving the force. The injection of this personal unease is humanizing and endearing.

This book stands independently of Rebus' previous adventures, which I appreciate as I've never read the other Rebus books. Exit Music is the supposed swan song for Rankin's popular detective, but, without wanting to give anything away, I have a sneaking suspicion that readers will be seeing him again. Perhaps it is just semantics on Rankin's part. After all, it is the last appearance of Detective Inspector John Rebus...future books would see him as a civilian like the rest of us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And the winner is...

Fyrefly!

Congratulations to Fyrefly and thanks to all who entered The Heretic's Daughter giveaway.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review : Supreme Courtship

Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley. Twelve Books (2008).

Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship is a clever satire of the American political landscape. Hilarity quickly ensues as the Senate Judiciary Committee makes a mockery of two Supreme Court nominees, leading the President to turn to a popular TV judge as his next nominee. All the while, Congress is working on a constitutional amendment to limit Presidents to one-term merely out of spite and disdain for the sitting President. What makes Supreme Courtship even funnier (and perhaps a little scary) is how closely our country already treads this line of pop culture and politics. I've heard Barack Obama described as a celebrity on more than one occasion, and Oprah has enough power to rule the world should she so choose. Buckley takes this blurring of lines to the extreme and provides some comic relief from the seriousness of the present. If you follow national politics (or Judge Judy), you'll enjoy Supreme Courtship.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Review : The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. Grand Central Publishing (2008).

Brad Meltzer's The Book of Lies is a Dan Brown-esque religion-based mystery but with a pop culture twist. How he ever came up with the pairing of Superman and Cain, I'll never understand...but it works. While only loosely based in reality, Meltzer manages to weave a believable narrative from these two disparate stories. At the same time, the reader grows fond of the main character, Cal Harper, as he embarks on this odyssey with his long-lost father. This brings an emotional element to the story that only enhances their quest to discover the truth.

I am typically able to develop a pretty strong idea of how a mystery will end, but The Book of Lies kept me guessing to the very end. I rarely read an entire book in one day anymore, but this is an engaging novel that kept me going until I finished. I'm loathe to say more for fear of ruining it for you, so just go get this book and read it for yourself.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

another giveaway!

A rep from Hachette Book Group has graciously offered a copy of The Heretic's Daughter for me to give away. The book will come directly from Hachette so residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible.

Read my review of this wonderful book here.

Rules:
1. Leave a comment on this post for one entry.
2. Comment on my review for a bonus entry.
3. Link to this contest on your blog and tell me about it in your comment for a bonus entry.
4. Total of 3 entries possible.
6. Enter by Monday, September 15 at 5pm Eastern.

Make sure I have a way to contact you!

Review : The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Little, Brown (2008).

In The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent succeeds in humanizing a dark time in the history of our nation. We have all heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but never have I read a narrative that so strongly evokes the horrors experienced by those affected. Kathleen Kent is a descendant of the Carrier family whose trials are described in The Heretic's Daughter, which lends even more power to her novel.

Many historical novels written in the style of the time in which they are set fail. The language feels stilted and unnatural and sometimes wavers back and forth between the present and the past. Kent, however, creates a believable dialect of the 1690s that further serves to connect reader and characters. This is a wonderful novel. It made me cry and feel for these characters in a way that few books do. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend The Heretic's Daughter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

And the winner is...

My giveaway of Confessions of a Contractor and So Long at the Fair is now over! Time to congratulate the winners...

1st place - Yan
2nd place - MonieG

UPDATE: MonieG already has a copy of So Long at the Fair so the next winner is Sandra who has already accepted the book. Thanks all!

I will be contacting the first place winner to confirm which book he/she wants. Then I will contact the 2nd place winner to see if he/she is interested in the other book.

Thanks to all those who entered and watch for another giveaway in the next few days!