Friday, December 24, 2010

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers

Rating: 3.5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Eggers is a fantastic writer. Both humorous and deep. I laughed just about as much as I cried. I mean, I didn't really cry - but AHWOSG was heavy enough to make my heart hurt. And there were moments that... I was laughing at the same time my heart was hurting. Because that's life, you know? And Eggers presents life - his life - perfectly.

Still, because it was so heavy at times, I had a hard time getting through it. And unlike Raven (which was so heavy it took me over a year to finish), there wasn't anything about it that affected me deeply enough to stay with me for weeks (or months, in Raven's case) on end.

Purchase Now from Amazon:  A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top Ten of Twenty Ten

Though I haven't yet finished the last of my four books to finish before the end of the year, here are my Top Ten favorite books of this year. While From Eternity to Here is good, it isn't going to make this list. So I don't need to worry. This is seriously my favorite post of the year, every year.

10. Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
9. Faithful Place - Tana French
8. Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
7. The Ear, the Eye and the Arm - Nancy Farmer
6. Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
5. The Giver - Lois Lowry
4. Hunger Games (trilogy) - Suzanne Collins
3. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
2. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
1. Raven - Tim Reiterman

Also - a year end review of my resolutions:

- Read between 35 and 50 books this year. 35 being the final total of 2009 and 50(something) being the number I burnt myself out on in 07 and 08. I ended up with 34. Not too shabby. I read some good quality books this year.

- Stop using my credit card and fix my debt (it's already been two months since I last used it. Huzzah!) I got rid of the crippling debt on my credit card by applying for a personal loan and am no longer freaking out about the state of my finances. Now if I only had a million dollars....

- Read at least two works of non-fiction - filling out my notebook as I go along. I read Raven and I'm halfway through From Eternity to Here. I should finish before the end of the year.

- FINISH Les Miserables. I believe I have something like 3 or 400 pages left. No, but I'm considering focusing on TWO books only in 2011. This and War & Peace.

- Keep my apartment neat. Well, I kept it clean the week I was kitten sitting...

- Write a review for every book I read this year.

- Update my blog with all of my book reviews. That I definitely did.

- Write. Anything. I participated hardcore in NANOWRIMO this year. Didn't finish, but still made it to 30-something thousand words. I'm happy with my creative output this year.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Masks & Daggers - Jennifer Hopkins & Jason Salfali

Blurg. Crazy days, these days. On top of being, busy busy busy - my Google account was hacked and it took me way too long to get it back. Okay, it really only took me a day. But I was DYING inside.

Anyway, my friend wrote a book! And then she wrote a short prequel! It's self-published using Barnes & Noble's pub it program. I'm not huge into the whole self publishing thing, but she's gotten good support on it and has made a fair amount of sales.

I reviewed her first book a while back. Some of the writing is a teeny bit amateur, but there are sections that are written so well, it'll knock your socks off. Not to mention - her story telling is pretty great. It's also refreshing - to have a paranormal romance that is so unlike anything else there is out there. That can just as easily be enjoyed by boys and girls, men and women. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Now, by popular demand, Jennifer and Jason have released a short story chronicling the history of Julian Edwards - a character in Book One that everyone wanted to know more about. It's available for a buck, ninety-nine and very good.

My short review is featured on the website.

Also, here:

“Masks & Daggers is a magical thrill ride. Complete with complex characters, clashing weapons, and magic on every page – this story hooks you in and leaves you begging for more. If you are new to the Immortal Champions Saga, what a fantastic place to start! If you have already read Sleight of Hand, Masks & Daggers is a must read to satisfy your Julian needs while you are waiting for Book Two.” –Nicole

I strongly urge you to try it out. For a $1.99, why not? And if you like it, read SLEIGHT OF HAND.

I'm super proud of her!

Purchase Now from Amazon: Masks & Daggers (An Immortal Champions Saga Short) (The Immortal Champions Saga)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Freedom - Jonathan Franzen

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

This book was... nothing short of a struggle. I breezed through the first couple hundred pages only to get stuck on the banality that was Walter. I don't get all the hype, I said. I'm not really liking this book, I said. Only to pick it up again a month or two later and breeze through the last two or three hundred pages. And when I finished and when I realized I'd just been bested by Jonathan Franzen, I was angry. Because I'd fought against loving this so hard. And so I argued with myself. I'd give the book a 3.5. How could I really give it any more since I'd struggled through? Fine, okay. I'll give it a 4. Only to finally allow myself to accept the fact that I loved this book. That this book is indeed a freaking masterpiece.

I loved this book so much I want to write an essay. A thousand essays on its themes and characters. An essay on freedom - how the freedom to decide, to choose our own paths, can both destroy us and lift us up. How sometimes, to even obtain freedom, one must build a cage. On the characters, and particularly that of Jessica, who is the only character in the family to not get her own chapter yet her sanity seems to have ground them all.

Read it. Just. Read it.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

Rating: 3.5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

It's not really superbly written. At all. Ken Follett overstates to the point of absurdity. His dialogue is weak. The characters, while they had depth... that depth only went so far. For instance, I loved and understood Jack the boy. But as the years went by and Jack became a father and a older man - I had trouble imagining him as so. It was as if Follett had a strong vision of his characters in their prime and then failed to grow with them, even though he insisted his novel span decades.

Nevertheless - the story telling was sublime. It took me a while to get into the book because of the sub par writing, but once the story captured me, it was hard to put it down.

It really doesn't live up to all of the "masterpiece" hype that it has gotten over the years. But it was definitely a good, emotional, and engaging read.

Purchase Now from Amazon.   The Pillars of the Earth

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yawn & Stretch

So. I didn't finish NaNoWriMo. But I was close! 37,000 something words. Chapters 1-7 finite as well as chapters 11-13! I think that's very good. I'm not disappointed in the least. I accept my failure but don't really think it's a failure at all. Good things!

My silence now can only be explained by the mad dash I started on December 1st to finish all of my unfinished books. (I'm dropping Tiger's Curse. No time!)

- Pillars of the Earth: will most likely finish tonight.
- Freedom: erg. But I will finish. I just don't get it. It won't make my Top 10 list.
- Heartbreaking Work: I plan on finishing this one on Saturday when I visit my parents house to do laundry.
- From Eternity to Here: science and space and nerdy things. Want to finish so bad.
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