Book 18 of 2012 - Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

I usually try not to read biographies by people my own age. We’re not even thirty yet  - we really shouldn’t have much to say. Unless you’ve lived through a shark attack or got lost in the woods or something, in which case, I am very sorry and I will totally read your book. Mindy Kaling’s book, however, isn’t about a shark attack, but is still a great read. It’s a series of stories about how she’s gotten where she is today and the luck and hard work that got her there. And it’s great.

Read More

Book 17 of 2012 - The Virgin’s Lover by Phillipa Gregory

I will not apologize for my love of sub-par historical fiction. Give me descriptions of Victorian gowns, false chastity, and people clamoring to be royalty (or sleep with royalty), and I am on board. I absolutely love waiting and waiting for two people to finally just have sex already, especially when it seems like they’re not even supposed to hold hands. While I am all about reason in real relationships, I find it annoying in historical fiction. There are so many rules, why not just break the ones you really want to break?  Everyone else is doing it anyways.

Read More

Book 15 - The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake is a great, but not gripping read. It’s a slow burn that has the reader feeling like they’re constantly teetering on the edge of tragedy, dipping over, then coming back. It’s not an exciting book; this isn’t the kind of tragedy that happens on CSI. It focuses on the horrible, but natural things that happen to people leading ordinary lives, but all of this is really just secondary to the terrible tragedy of World War II that is unfolding around the characters.

Read More

Book 16 - World War Z by Max Brooks

I recently read that if your parents didn’t go out and buy a gun after reading the Road, they don’t really love you. I haven’t read the Road yet because I was scared my husband would use it to convince me to get that gun he’s always on about. But, World War Z has me pretty convinced. Only it has to have a bayonet. And maybe we should get a few and also stockpile machetes, gasoline and canned food. Considering that I live on an island that will one day be hit by a giant earthquake, it’s kind of irresponsible that we’re not more prepared anyways.

Read More

Book 14 of 2012 - Peony in Love by Lisa See

I was not expecting to love this book so much. Nor was I expecting many of the plot’s twists and turns. Peony, a sheltered young woman just reaching marriageable age, is obsessed with an Opera that is said to cause deadly love-sickness in girls and women. When her father, against her mother’s wishes, brings the opera to be performed at the family’s garden for her 15th birthday celebrations, Peony catches a glimpse of a young man and falls deeply in love. She slowly becomes more and more entranced with the Opera, obsessively writing her observations and neglecting herself. When she is ripped away from all that she knows, she is thrown into a world of ancient superstitions.

Read More

Book 13 of 2012 - The DoveKeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman was a fantastic read. I chose it because I am a sucker for historical fiction and I wanted something that would introduce me to a culture that I’m not personally familiar with. To be completely open and honest: I have developed a growing obsession with Jewish and biblical history. So when I saw the Dovekeepers, it was an obvious choice for me.

In the Dovekeepers, Hoffman tells the story of Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert where nine hundred Jews held out for months on end against armies of attacking Romans. Historical records show that only two women and five children survived. The story is told in four parts, giving the perspectives of each of four dovekeepers, women who all came to the mountain through different paths and who have different perspectives on the events unfolding around them.

Read More

Book 12 of 2012 - The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Word for World is Forest was written by Ursula K. LeGuin in 1972. It roughly follows the same thread as Avatar, Pochahontas, Fern Gully, and countless other books and movies that tell the story of colonization with an environmentalist message, either through metaphor or more direct means. Normally these stories aren’t my thing - I’m not convinced we need more fictionalized accounts of colonization. Don’t we know this already? Colonization is an ongoing process that we participate in every day, but I’m not sure that the story of how colonization is initiated is really one that we need to hear over and over again.

Read More

Book 11 of 2012 - One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

As I mentioned in my last review, I didn’t love this book. I was looking for something fluffy and quick to speed up my cannonball as I’m getting slightly behind. I’d read (somewhere) that this book is a decent quick read. Lots of people seem to like this series, but the book really rubbed me the wrong way around the point where the author describes Joe Morelli playing “choo choo” train between the main character’s legs when they were kids. Then it lost me completely when they have bad teenage sex at a deli. Or a bakery. I can’t remember. These aren’t spoilers. These events are described within the first 20 pages of the book.

Read More

Book 10 of 2012 - Gods Behaving Badly by Marilyn Phillips

Oddly enough, I came across this book looking for something that didn’t include fantasy, science fiction or any other otherworldly aspects. Once again, I failed, though I did also pick up a copy of the awful One For the Money, which might be considered by some to be about normal people. But I digress, we’re talking about Greek Gods here, and I’d better be careful because if there is one thing my quiet obsession with Greek Mythology has taught me is that the Gods are kind of sensitive about sharing attention.

Read More

Book 9 of 2012 – The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove

If you’re a woman under the misconception that that lifting weights will bulk you up and make you look mannish, you probably couldn’t be convinced to read this book, but you should. It’s also a great resource for those who are new to strength training, or those who are interested in striking out on their own after seeing a trainer. If you’re already on a strength-training plan, it might not be as useful for you. Had I read this book about 2 years ago, it would have been perfect, and would have helped me graduate from depending on a trainer to manage my fitness to managing it myself.

Read More

Book 8 of 2012 – Gardens of the Moon, Book one of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

I did not expect to love this book so much. It was another one of my husband’s recommendations and like any other book that he has pushed at me, I am completely enamored. Clearly I need to trust the man more. There are so many details about this book that I want to gush about, but you really should discover them for yourselves so I’m not going to get into much detail in the review.

Like many fantasy novels, Gardens of the Moon focuses on the clashing of magic and power at the center of a civil war. However, the story sets itself apart from other similar series because it doesn’t focus on the battles, rather the gathering of power and the small events that turn the tides of war. The magic itself is unique. It’s accessed by “warrens,” which are a type of portal/access point for magic. I suspect that this book doesn’t even skim the surface of the theory behind how the warrens work and I can’t wait to learn more.

Read More

My Top 5 Books of 2011 (in no particular order and in totally made up categories)

It was a year of young adult fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopias. Clearly, I need to pick up some happier books and maybe something a little bit more grounded in the world we know. Who am I kidding? I’m can’t wait to dig into World War Z. 

Read More

Book 7 of 2012 – No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

A few years ago, I found myself sitting dumbfounded in a movie theatre watching No Country for Old Men. I’ll never forget the moment when, as the final credits came on and the music began, a realization hit me. There were no music swells - no scores to tell me when to feel a particular emotion, and in turn no warnings, false starts or manipulation. The movie presented the naked story and it was all the more powerful for it. I was, and still am, in awe of that movie and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything like it since. On the way home, my husband turned to me and said “it was the perfect visual representation of the book, but you still have to read it.” And now, a few years later, he’s finally convinced me to read No Country for Old Men. I am very glad that he did.

In my last review, I mentioned that it takes a certain kind of bravery for an author to truly commit to the voice of his or her characters, and little did I know that my next read would be a case in point. Cormac McCarthy has enjoyed both critical and popular success with all of his novels, including No Country for Old Men. I would argue, very strongly, that McCarthy’s success is largely due to his commitment to his character’s voices and to the accuracy of the time period they’re placed in. McCarthy is undoubtedly an immensely talented writer, but he is an even more talented storyteller.

Read More

Book 6 of 2012 - The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House was a little bit of a battle for me. While I found some aspects of the story educational, it was hard to overlook some of the books major issues.

Read More

Book 5 of 2012 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My first thought on cracking open the Night Circus was that the presentation was impeccable. Prior to this, I never fully understood my husband’s argument that he can’t get rid of his old CD collection (records and MP3s - I get) because they’re a package that the artist put together. From song order to the CD insert, he likes to enjoy the full product. Now, I understand. The Night Circus is one of those rare books whose look and feel really matches that of the story. Set in matching black and white, with a flash of red, the covers (all of the ones that I have seen) have some of the best cover art I’ve seen in years. The beginning of each chapter also includes a gorgeous illustration of constellations, set in black and white, similar to what you would see looking up at the night sky through a black and white circus tent. The stripes, the font, and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter are selected to precisely match the look and feel of the story. It is truly a complete package.

And the story itself was equally as intriguing and well-thought out.

Read More