Monthly Archives: November 2008

New York Times 100 Notable Books

The New York Times recently released their top 100 notable books of 2008 last week. This list is compiled from all the books that were reviewed since Dec. 2nd, 2007 when the last 100 Notable Books was published.

The list is broken up into Fiction and Nonfiction only.

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The cult of Twilight

I went to see Twlight Monday morning with my best friend (the one who loaned me series to begin with). We chose a matinee to minimize the number of giggly teens that would be oooing and ahhhing over Edward.

I was not disappointed by the film, but I found it more comedic than it was meant to be. The lines were so cheesy, the acting was either over the top, or just underwhelming. What was with Jasper’s eyes? I thought they were going to pop out of his head. Edward was sucking in his cheeks rather profusely, and Carlisle’s super blond hair was just distracting. Talk about a shiney object.

There was a lot cut out from the book and that was obviously just to save time. I think the last 1/4th of the movie was actually really good, but so was the last 1/4th of the book, so go figure.

This whole month I’ve been coming across various Twilight review, be it for the book or for the movie. There is one thing I don’t understand.

If everyone who reads the book, agrees that it is a bad book, then WHY ARE WE SO ADDICTED TO THE SERIES?

Nearly every review goes the same way:

Too lengthy, bad writing, bad actors, bad role models, no plot, etc, etc.

If its so bad, why can’t we stay away? Why was it on the Best-seller list for as long as it reigned?

I read the books, hated the books, but kept reading the books. It is the sense of nostalgia we all feel when reading these books, going back to High School crushes, wishing that the cute bad boy would actually be a smushy teddy-bear?

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse – Review

First line: My career as a real estate salesperson was short and unofficial, but no uneventful.

Review:

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 3) When we last left off with the Aurora Teagarden myseries, Roe had inherited a healthy chunk of money from a former member of the Real Murders Club that was prevalent in the first book in the series. At the end of book two, Roe had quit her job as a part time librarian and had begun to date the local Episcopalian priest, Aubrey. In this third book, Roe decides that she needs to find a job, if only to occupy her time during the day to evade boredom. While unofficially showing a large mansion to one of the newest residents of Lawrenceton, Roe stumbles upon the dead body of a local realtor in one of the bedrooms. Soon after, there is a slightly murder spree targeting realtors, which Roe investigates, as well as starting a new relationship with the new man in town, Martin Bartell.

For one thing, this book actually had plot and conflict. It was a delight to read, although Roe is starting to get pretty annoying. The constant references to her stunted height and frizzy hair appear on nearly every other page and it really detracts from the rest of the story. But, given that this is part of a mass-market paperback mystery series, I’m not expecting anything fancy. Its a fun read, especially when joining Roe in her conclusions and trying to figure out who the killer really is.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
Charlaine Harris
Berkeley Prime Crime, 1994
ISBN 0425220528
231 pages

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NY Times Bestsellers

Its been barely two weeks and already A Mercy has hit the #5 spot on the NY Times Hardcover Bestseller list. Yay!

The Secret Life of Bees is also thriving well as #2 on the Paperback Trade fiction for 22 weeks, as is Water For Elephants holding steady at #10 for 63 weeks.

I am not surprised to see the Sookie Stackhouse books hogging the top 20 spots for the Mass-Market paperback section. The TV show has revitalized the series it seems. 3 of my friends are currently making their way through the series, and I was lucky enough to be able to borrow the entire series from a friend, so now I don’t have to wait for weeks to get the books from the library. yay!

It was my goal to read 100 books before the end of the year. I am very, very close with 89 books under my belt since the end of January when I first started this blog. Along the way, I’ve met some fantastic people in the blog world, other reviewers, the wonderful people who sit through my posts and the great big world of bibliophiles I near forgot existed. =)

The Rose Labyrinth – Review

First line: A snow-bearded , elderly man is seated at the head of a refectory table, close to a fire, with his head bowed.

Review:

The Rose LabyrinthThe Rose Labyrinth, by Titania Hardie, follows the same path laid down by The Da Vinci Code and even The Memorist. This book, like the others, weaves in past mysteries with contemporary events, linking characters to legendary figures of England’s history. In this case, the links are made to John Dee, one of Queen Elizabeth’s trusted advisors during her reign in the 1600s. In the Rose Labyrinth, author Titania Hardie touches on reincarnation, geneology, spiritual fundamentalism as well as a number of other hefty themes through her somewhat convoluted storyline. A steady cast of characters, five trying to solve the riddle set forth by hidden papers of John Dee to save the world, and another group trying to use the riddle to bring havoc into the world.

Hardie has definately done her research for this novel, but the information is overwhelming for anyone who was not an English major in college. There are numerous references to literature, philosophy, historical texts and it is a lot of keep up with. The first few chapters of the novel are engaging and set the foundations of the characters really well, defining good from bad with only a few words. As I got to the heart of the novel, the characters took on a rather esoteric state of intelligence that didn’t seem real to me. The novel reminded me too much of Da Vinci Code and more recently The Memorist and seemed slightly formulaic in that respect. Hardie is a talented author, her descriptions of England and France are fantastically written and she is at her best when she writes about the characters themselves. The John Dee riddle is somewhat convoluted, muddied by too many references to literature and astrology, and all the references to history make is easy for the reader to get lost in the shuffle. I had to go back and reread a few of the pages only to realize that to fully appreciate the novel I would need copies of all the works she references, to really understand what she is talking about. Its not a terrible read, but it wasn’t an easy one to get through either. This is a good book for literary buffs, but not so much for someone who is just looking for a good mystery.

FINAL GRADE: B-

The Rose Labyrinth
Titania Hardie
Atria Books, 2008
1416584609
386 pages

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Teaser Tuesday (11/18/08)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!
  • My Two Teasers
    The sight from the upper deck caused a blanket of silence to descend over the revellers. A barge appeared from under the bows of their boat.
    Title: The Rose Labyrinth
    Author: Titania Hardie

    CLA

    I’m at the annual California Library Association conference in San Jose today. There have been a lot of interesting workshops and exhibit booths to visit, and I feel quite over-whelmed. I’m still trying to figure out how to apply what I learn here to the library I actually work in. The library profession is leaning so much towards web 2.0 features like wiki’s, but the demographic of my service area has very limited resources to the Internet outside of their 2 hour time-span at the library. There has to be some way to bring resources to this fall-between the cracks group. I’m determined to find it. Paper is not so obsolete.

    I’ve attended one session about Subject Guides for the library, a really creative and simple tool to bring all the library resources (book and online) to the library patrons through the website. Next I’m going to a session about the future of libraries and how to prepare, this workshop is being given by the deputy state librarian Stacy Aldrich. That sounds useful for a newbie librarian.

    NaNoWriMo Update

    So, I’m really behind on my word count for the novel writing challenge this month. I’m at a healthy 5,563 even though I’m technically supposed to be at about 20k words. Granted, I have a good 4k written from October, so my story isn’t struggling. Its still pretty bare bones though. I thought for fun I’d throw out an excerpt from my story. Keep in mind, this is not edited, its a rough draft and well, its my first go at writing anything fiction for well over 10 years.

    I can’t really preface this excerpt with a storyline, since I don’t have one fully formed. I’m just letting the story write itself, so to speak. I’m jotting down whatever comes to mind, be it plot, character development, or just atmosphere description. I have chapters laid out, and some semblence of a storyline with a beginning middle and no end yet.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I hope everyone else out there working on ths challenge is doing well! Best of luck!!
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    A Mercy – Review

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    A Mercy by Toni Morrion: Publication date 11/11/2008
    Age: Adult
    Genre: Historical Fiction
     

    Although I acquired this ARC well before its publication date, I fell a little behind on my reading schedule, so I wasn’t able to post the review beforehand. Even so, now that I post my review, you all won’t have to wait very long to go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of this riveting, insightful and powerful book by Toni Morrison.

    My first introduction to Toni Morrison was in high school when my English class read Song of Solomon. After that, I was hooked. I read Beloved sometime in college and that was when I really learned to respect and admire Morrison’s ability with the craft. Her writings of the African-American experiences in the United States through various points of history shed light onto a usually unspoken of topic. Although we learn about slavery in our history classes, we learn about racism in social studies, we don’t really learn of the human emotions, and personal experiences that go along with these two horrid figures of our national history.

    A Mercy is told through the perspective of many characters. At the heart of the story is a young black girl named Florens. Each chapter alternates between her perspective and the perspective of someone else in her life, be it her master, her mistress, or one of the other workers on the land. This is a story of three women trying to survive in the late 17th century America. Morrison beautifully weaves in parallels between all the women in the story, showing that black or white, all women are subjec to the same second class role underneath the white man. The white people, referred to as “the Europe” are hypocritical with their religion and with their morals to not only the slave population, but also to fellow “Europes.”

    There is a marked distinction in the story telling when it is told through Floren’s eyes. The writing is choppy and stream of consciousness. When told through anybody else, the writing is in complete sentences, and lengthy words. Florens world is seen through raw emotion, where everyone else is riddled with too much thought and analysis over the world, and the people in the world. Florens is a symbol of hope in the book. On her shoulder’s rests the fates of the three other woman working on Sir Jacob’s Vaark’s land. The novel begins with Floren’s sent on a mission to deliver a note. In each of the subsequent chapters, we learn more about Floren’s history, the history of her owners and of the other workers. All the central character’s are in some way cast-off from their parents. Traded as payment, shipped away to be married, or abandoned by their parents, Jacob, Rebekka, Florens and Lina all find themselves as an unusual family in their small town. When Jacob become’s ill and dies, the three women soon realize how precarious their lives really are. “Three unmastered women,” alone, “belonging to no one, became wild game for anyone.” Not long after Jacob passes on, Rebekka is the next to fall ill to the same disease. “Female and illegal, they would be interlopers, squatters, if they stayed on after Mistress died, subject to purchase, hire, assault, abduction, exile.” That is when Floren’s is sent on a misson, with an important message, to find the blacksmith and to find a much needed source of rescue.

    This book is a fantastic and gripping read. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t not put it down. I wanted to know more about Mistress Rebekka, and Lina her servent-best friend. I wanted to learn about suspicious Sorrow, and mostly I wanted to know what would happen to Floren’s misson. This is a powerful book full of remarkable insights into slavery from a woman’s perspective, black and white women, struggling with the similar types of double standards and limitations in life. Just as Song of Solomon is a staple in most high school English classes, I can see this novel too falling into that same category, maybe in college women’s studies courses if not in High School English class. This book is a great read, and I really recommend upping this on your to be read list.

    A Mercy
    by Toni Morrison
    Knopf, 2008
    ISBN 0307264238
    169 pages

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    A Bone to Pick – Review

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    A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris
    Age: Adult
    Genre: Mystery
     

    A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 2)In this sequel to Real Murders, A Bone To Pick once again takes us back to Lawrenceton and librarian crime-solver, Roe Teagarden. The books jumps right into two weddings and one funeral. During the funeral, Roe meets Bubba Sewell, the lawyer for the deceased Jane Engle. Roe and Jane were members of the now disbanded Real Murderer’s club that was so prevalent in the first book. Although they were club members, neither Jane nor Roe were very close. When Roe finds out that she inherited all of Jane’s belongings, including a house, over five hundred thousand dollars and a cat, Roe knew that there was more to the inheritance than just the financial benefits. Setting out to look for clues in Jane’s house, Roe comes across a hidden skull, and soon figures out that Jane left her a murder to solve.

    In terms of mystery books, this one was a real dud. There wasn’t much of a mystery. Every character was a good guy, and most of the characters were really dull and without much substance. There wasn’t much plot to the book other than Roe coming to terms to with her inheritance and trying endlessly to find the love of her life. I was really disappointed with book, because Real Murders started out with a lot of spunk and energy. I’m going to give the third book in the series a try: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, and hope that it doesn’t fall flat either. I rated Real Murder PG-13, but this book I would give a G to PG rating. Very neutral, and very tame.

    A Bone to Pick
    Charlaine Harris
    Berkeley Prime Crime, 1992
    ISBN 0425219799
    262 pages

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