Thursday, March 5, 2009

Poor neglected blog!

My reading over the past three months, the highlight reel:

Loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I knew pretty much nothing about it going it, except that the family raised dogs and the boy was mute. It was so beautifully written. As with any popular book (yes, Oprah liked it), you're going to hear mixed reviews, but I'm putting it up there as one that will stand the test of time.

Was pleasantly surprised by Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy, Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch, and The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper. The first caught my eye at the library; the latter two were spotted in passing somewhere online.

And fun mysteries: Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series, of which there are only two. I wish there were more. I'd love recommendations for other well-written, old-style, whodunnit mysteries (like Agatha Christie, but contemporary writers).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Worth noting

I've been reading quite a bit and haven't made time to post. But a couple of highlights:

In The Writing Class, Jincy Willett combines a whodunnit mystery with insights on writing and those who attempt it (some doing it well, others not so well). Her characters are so well drawn and fascinating, especially the protagonist who teaches the title class.

I've also been enjoying Jennifer Weiner's books. As I previously posted, chick lit seems to be the best thing for me right now, since I'm reading in short bursts with many distractions. Weiner's books feel like a step up from most chick lit, with interesting, unpredictable plots and well-developed characters. So far I've read Little Earthquakes, In Her Shoes, and Goodnight Nobody.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Learning new tricks

I'm figuring out how to read while nursing the baby -- impressive, no? However, my sleep-deprived brain can't focus on much more than chick lit, and older library books with beat-up spines do a much better job of lying flat so I don't need two hands. But despite those limitations, I've finished three books:

Something Blue by Emily Giffin -- more memorable than I expected, this was a fun read. Darcy starts out as an unabashedly selfish human, but manages to become quite likable. The story is certainly predictable, but still worth the time.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein -- I thought I'd like this more than I did, and while I did enjoy it, I skimmed more than I normally do. The sections with Enzo's ponderings on racing didn't hold my attention, though I think they were supposed to offer philosophical thoughts on what was happening in the book. I liked the story, but I just thought I'd love and adore it.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs -- I like Jacobs' writing, how she weaves different characters and stories together. This one had a great range of personalities, all very well developed. Still not highbrow literature, but again, a fun read.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New beginnings (oh, and a book too)

First, a beautiful explanation for why posts will be even fewer and farther between than they have been here lately: She was born on Wednesday, and she couldn't be more perfect. We are slowly figuring out this parenting thing, and I've been in too much of a fog to manage much reading. But I'm sure eventually we'll all get into sync!

I did manage to finish Eclipse. And I officially give up on Stephenie Meyer. I really dislike Bella's whining and weakness, Edward is still overly protective and stifling, and Jacob is just annoying. So that's enough of that for me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cats and houses

I'm a sucker for a good animal story, and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World certainly gives that. I found it sometimes got too bogged down with the town's history and with Vicki Myron's own story. It feels rather heartless to say I didn't care as much about her trials and tribulations, but I wanted more of the cat! (I'm very curious about the authorship, though. It's credited to "Vicki Myron with Bret Witter" -- what does that mean, exactly?) I loved Dewey's story and his antics and talents, and my goodness, was he ever an adorable cat. Not cute enough to trump my Atticus, of course: (Click here for a larger version.)

I love a good English manor house story. Usually these are mysteries, in the style of Agatha Christie, and some modern movies have stepped into the genre (can it be called a genre?), like Gosford Park. The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton, tells the story from the servant side while also letting us glimpse the lives of the privileged, and she manages to render both sides sympathetic. Morton's plot is beautifully crafted; she plants details perfectly, so that the events are both surprising and inevitable. I liked the flashback technique -- it was never overdone and worked well to explain how Grace knew so much about her employers' lives. I don't think it gives anything away to say I found the ending tremendously appropriate and yet still heartwrenching.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Catching up

More Carol Goodman, and I'd say this is my favorite of hers so far. The Ghost Orchid is considerably more tinged with the supernatural than anything else I've read by her, and apparently that was just what I needed right now. As always with Goodman's books, it's a great balance of solid writing and not-so-heavy reading.

I can't remember how I happened to find How Far is the Ocean from Here. One day, the library notified me that the copy I requested was in, and even though the subject matter isn't something I'd have normally picked up, I figured I must have had a reason for requesting it. And I'm very glad I gave Amy Shearn's novel a chance. It's a cast of quirky characters brought together in a motel in the middle of nowhere by a young surrogate mother on the run. The premise is perhaps movie-of-the-week with an alt-indie twist, and somehow Shearn makes it work -- it's often just too much, and at the same time, it's just right. Without giving anything away, I found the ending too neat, especially compared to the messiness of life throughout the book. But discounting that, it's very good writing and a satisfying read.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Disappearing acts

My second venture on the Stephenie Meyer bandwagon: I finished New Moon last night. This one left me more perplexed as to why so many adult women are obsessed with these books. For teenagers, I get it completely, but for me, the teen angst is just a bit too much to take. I spent most of the book being annoyed with Bella's logic (lack thereof?), and quite a large chunk of plot toward the end seemed incredibly forced. I didn't dislike it, but I'm not becoming a devotee by any means. (Of course, I'll have to read the next two...) And the Edward love? He's just not my type. Assuming I got over the vampire problem, he's way too protective with a few too many moments of irrational behavior. I'll take old-school Angel and Buffy any day over whiny Bella and crazy Edward.

Maggie O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox was an enjoyable read, but not terribly memorable. The ending stayed with me but the characters have pretty much already escaped my (admittedly over-extended) mind. The story was intriguing and kept me reading, and I have no real complaints about the writing. It was pretty good. How's that for an underwhelming review?