Sunday, November 30, 2008


Classic, clever, easy, fun, Jane Austen.

Need I say more? I think not.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Junes

This book, by Julia Glass, was one of those completely fortuitous reads. I'd never heard of it before, but I got it for free a few weeks ago, and I'm not one to pass up a free book, DUH!

So it turned out to be separated into three parts (shocking), narrated by three different protagonists. It started out sort of slow, but once I got into the second part I started caring about THAT main character and being more interested in his life. The last part, I was less interested in the narrator but the story was still involving, so I kept reading. Ultimately, I enjoyed the book but more for the beauty of the turn of phrase than for the plot. The wording, the phraseology, was just lovely and that was the part I really liked. One of my favorites that comes to mind is "the alpha sleeper" used to describe that person around whom all other sleepers must contort themselves in a bed. And that doesn't even show off the tip of the iceberg of this novel, because that's just a little clever phrase and not really her writing style at all.

Anyway. I'm not really sure I'd recommend this novel, and certainly not for everyone. It was hard to get into and I wasn't particularly satisfied with the ending. But read it to enjoy the author's writing, if you wish. And I might check out her next book to see what that's like as well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Last Time I Was Me

This is the second book I've read by Cathy Lamb in as many weeks. She's just really fun. She has a very casual style of writing that appeals although, as I mentioned before, can make the story seem a little unorganized or something. This was exactly what I'd expect as a second novel from the author of the fabulously fun Julia's Chocolates.

My one complaint is that the main character's issue is "anger management," which wasn't quite as relevant-feeling to me as the first. It seemed more...frivolous, in a way. And the storyline was a little bit more far-fetched. But the issues and the sad and tough parts of life addressed in the story were handled with grace and a great attitude, with plenty of life laughter. I really like this author, but I like her first book even more than this one.

A Ring of Endless Light

A young adult book by Madeleine L'Engle. For the most part, it was very enjoyable, although the information about dolphins is obviously dated (the book was written in 1980, I think, and it has a lot about how dolphins aren't violent like humans...).

I found a great quote in the book, which explains how I feel a lot of the time about religion in general and especially people who are self-righteous. I don't have the book in hand, though, so I'll have to do the best I can from my faulty memory, and admit that I can't remember who is supposed to have said it either. It goes something like this: "If you think you know all about it, it isn't God."

Anyway. The book is pretty good. Very relevant themes, at least for what I can remember of my own adolescence. Lots about death but ultimately very affirming. Classic L'Engle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Louis Sachar. One of my favorite kids' books EVER. Perfect in plot and details. Fun, funny, sweet, mysterious. Love it!

(I would say it is at around a 9- or 10-year-old reading level. Don't really know, but it's very easy reading.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Julia's Chocolates

This is my new favorite book. It's by Cathy Lamb, and it is just about perfect. It's sweet and hopeful, hilarious and real. It's about a group of women you will love, laugh and cry with, and not want to leave at the end of the book--or at least, that's how I feel about them.

It's interesting that this author took so many serious subjects--abuse, unhappy marriages, bad health, emotional difficulties, feminism and finding your true self--and turned it into such a beautiful and lovely book. I can't wait to read her next!

My only criticism might be that at the beginning I was a little distracted by the flow of the language. It was sort of...messy, although not technically wrong or anything. But as I got caught up in the story and with the characters, I liked it more and more, so keep that in mind if you have any trouble at the beginning. Now go read it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Getting Near to Baby

This is a kids' book by Audrey Coloumbis. It was decent but I forgot to review it earlier, and am only finding it as I go through all my old posts at the end of the year to figure out which ones I forgot to review as I read them. Sorry!

And when I say kids, I do mean fairly young, like maybe 8 or 10. But it is about a girl whose little sister died, just so you know.

Back When We Were Grownups

I liked this book much better than the last book I read by Anne Tyler. The main character was less flighty and didn't get on my nerves. And so I could appreciate Tyler for her great eye for family interactions and dramas, for how our individual personalities can become invisible in some ways to our families, for how life can take you by surprise and how people often don't realize so many things about themselves.

A decent read, lovely prose, nothing shocking or incredible. A good way to spend the day.

The Thief Lord

This is a kids' book by Cornelia Funke, who has more recently become well-known for her Inkheart series. It was a very easy read, fun and interesting. I'd recommend it maybe for the 7-10 crowd, or of course for an older reader who won't be quite as enthralled but will enjoy the story anyway.

I can't really remember any criticism I had for the book, just that it didn't wow me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Don't Look Down

I love Jennifer Crusie, and this is a Jennifer Crusie/Bob Mayer collaboration, so when it was offered to me free, I jumped at it. And it had plenty of elements of a great Crusie book, but they were sort of...watered down by the effects of the Bob Mayer writing.

That's not to say that Mayer isn't any good. The book was well-written, the plot exciting. It's just that Crusie books are normally some of the best "chick lit" but this had a lot of what I think is Mayer's typical "dude lit." In other words...a lot of superfluous sleeping around, boobie talk, Armed Forces references, technical schtuff, and so forth.

Thus, it was pretty good, but no match for Crusie on her own. A fun, quick, completely implausible but enjoyable read.

The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter

I finished this book, by Sharyn McCrumb, almost two weeks ago, so my original thoughts and impressions have faded somewhat, but here goes the review...

I had read this once before, I think in high school, and was not impressed. But then one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, recommended this author, so I thought I'd give it another try. This time, I did find interesting the history of the Appalachian peoples, the Celtic roots of a lot of the mythology and belief systems of these people. And I was drawn in to the mystery, and I enjoyed the flow of writing just fine. The plot was decent enough as well, and I was a lot more interested in the environmental issues this time around.

BUT. I still felt dissatisfied with the ending. Perhaps because I'd read it before, I sort of knew where it was going, but then when it got there, it seemed anti-climactic, one of those endings that takes just a couple of casual paragraphs thrown together to tie up ALL the loose ends, where you feel there should've been much more.

So. I liked it better than last time, but was sad about the ending. And the part about the young mom and her baby was too hard for me to read this time around, for obvious reasons. Gave me nightmares. Do NOT recommend to sensitive moms of young children. That part was too too sad. But generally, a pretty decent book, especially if you're at all interested in Appalachia.