Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Romantics – Review

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The Romantics by Galt Niederhoffer

Age: Adult

On the eve of Lila Hayes and Tom McDevon’s wedding, a group friends reunite after a long separation following their college graduations from Yale. Inseparable during their college years, the group in turn coupled off with each other, leaving Laura the odd one out, but not without a lasting love and adoration requited by Tom. As the friends reunite the night before the wedding for one last hurrah; scandals are exposed, rumors spread, accusations hurled and gossip is the rope that binds them all together.

This is the type of book that took a while for me to enjoy. The beginning was very dry and very “this happened, this happened, he looks like this, she looks like that.” Very passive and telling without being showing. It wasn’t until the toasts had been shared at the rehearsal dinner when I started developing an interest in the characters and their interactions amongst each other. I didn’t like any of the characters. I thought they were all deceptive, needy, rude and all carried a sense of entitlement about them, although I was pushing for the romance between Laura and Tom, there was no one in the book that I could consider myself being friends with. Quite honestly, it made me pause to examine how I act with my friends and ponder if women really are that bitchy and if men really do only think with the lower half of their anatomy.

Galt Niederhoffer did an excellent job examining and critiquing the elitist life of the New Haven upper class yuppies, from the snobbery to the scenery. Although the group was there for Lila and Tom’s wedding, I didn’t feel as if there was one or two dominate perspectives in the narration. Told through third person, Niederhoffer follows the group of friends as they split up into pairs to search for a missing member of their party. It is during this separation when the gossip and ruthlessness of the troupe is revealed. Although a central element throughout the entire book was Tom’s and Laura affection for each other, many other issues were raised that I think sort of cast the romance aside.

The book was released as a movie with a truly wonderful cast earlier this month on Sept. 10th.  I’m actually looking forward to seeing the film rendition of this book. I think the novel was written as a prelude to a screenplay. I could visualize the entire setting and would love to see the story come to life. With a cast like Elijah Wood, Candice Bergen and Anna Paquin, its sure to be a success.

The Romantics
by Galt Niederhoffer
St. Martin’s Press, 2008
ISBN 0312373376
277 pages

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The romantics

Mockingjay – Review

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Age: Teen

***********SPOILERS*************

***********SPOILERS*************

The third installment of the Hunger Games series picks up where Catching Fire ended, with Katniss being shuttled away from the arena, while Peeta remained in the hands of the Capitol. Taken to District 13, Katniss learns of the rebellion that spread through the rest of the districts and of her role as the representative for the cause. The success of the rebellion rests on Katniss, to willingly participate with the cause and be a part of something much bigger than she had ever imagined.

I read this book in a span of 3-4 days, and initially when I finished it, I was happy. Then I started mulling over the book, reading other reviews, and in general, picking it apart. I came up with a number of issues with the book, that unfortunately swayed me from a strong “like” to a mediocre “meh its ok” type of opinion.

1. Katniss

Throughout most of the book, she was drugged up, selfish and unaware of anything going on around her. She was almost in a catatonic state of being for a good chunk of the book, which is acceptable given the trauma she has faced in and out of the arena in the first two books. It still bothered me that she could switch from traumatized to shooting down airplanes in 0-60 seconds.

2. The rebellion

I found it really bothersome at the repetition of the rebellion using Katniss in the same way she was used by the Capitol, as a pawn. I was half intrigued and half disillusioned to see the softer side of war. Not the battles themselves, but the strategies and planning of the people in charge. That is something you don’t see much and it something I appreciated. But it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t feel compelled to support the rebellion leaders, because it seemed like they were just mimicking the Capitol. Although the rebellion is fighting for freedom for all the districts, whose to say District 13 wouldn’t turn power-hungry and become the next generation Capitol.

3. Team Peeta v. Team Gale

This actually bugged me the most. What started as a series about oppression and injustice, turned more into “who is Katniss going to end up with” over “will good triumph over evil and will millions of lives be saved.” I honestly couldn’t care less who Katniss ended up with. I don’t think either guy is the right one for her, and I saw her living on her own or dying for the cause actually.

For a good chunk of the book, I went along with Collin’ storyline, character developments out of respect for my adoration with the first Hunger Games book. The last 15% of the book was just outrageous on so many levels, I can’t even count them on my two hands.

I do give Collin’s credit for not being afraid to take chances, kill off main characters, the way other teen authors *coughstephaniemeyercough* did. I loved that she was able to present an awesome mentality of what its like during a rebellion. I just found some of the character storylines to be weak and it really took away from the message from the series. What started as Katniss’ impulsive actions for survival, turned into scripted sessions for promo ads. Maybe that was Collins’ message from the start? War changes people? No one is as strong as you think they are or want them to be? Life sucks, deal with it? Life and death don’t matter as long as you can’t decide which guy you want?

Whatever her overall message was, it wasn’t very clear, it was muddled and muffled by the romance triangle, for me at least.

Suzanne Collins will be making an appearance at Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park in early November. I plan on going, and hopefully she can shed some light on why she made some of the decisions that she did for the series.

Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press, 2010
ISBN 0439023511
390 pages

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Mockingjay

Simply Baby – Book Review

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Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss

Age: All

Simply Baby is a collection of knitting patterns for the baby, age 0-2 years, in your life.

I choose this book from a huge variety of baby knit books from the library because I find Debbie Bliss has a very modern eye for baby clothes. The patterns are incredibly simple to follow and they are adorable in every way. I made the baby shrug for my cousin, who is due early next year.

Its knit in one piece and in plain stockinette stitch. I feel like this pattern is a good foundation for improvised designed. I can easily alter the number of stitches to accomodate for cables, eyelets and ribbing designs. I’ll be knitting a few other patterns from the book as well, including baby mittens and baby booties.

This book is a great introduction to baby knits for a new knitter, or a knitter who has never knit babywear before.

Simply Baby: 20 Adorable Knits for Baby’s First Two Years
by Debbie Bliss
Trafalgar Square Books, 2006
ISBN 1570763348
144 pages

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Preview the book

Teaser Tuesday (9/14)

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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 Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

He looked like a shattered man, and his face was covered in sweat despite the biting cold. When he saw Miquel again after more than ten years, Aldaya smiled bitterly and said, “We’re all cursed, Miquel. You, Julian, Fumero, and me.”


I O U

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I’ve been very neglectful of my blog lately. I’ve been reading like crazy, but the motivation to sit down and write my reviews has been lacking. I’ve actually been reading magazines more than books. Anything I can get my hands on, from Time to The Atlantic, to In Style and Glamour magazine.

At some point, you will see reviews for the following;

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Research Virtuoso, Mockingjay, and In the Shadow of the Wind.

This month as been an odd month. I was let go from my primary librarian position, so I have more free time on my hands. Now I work only 3 days a week, something around 20-24 hours. Right now I’ve been reading more and crafting more. I’m working on 2 knitting projects, a cardigan and a pair of leggings. Yes, leggings. 80s style, big, baggy, over the jeans, leggings. It gets so cold during the winter and my normal sweatpants don’t always do the job. Besides, it seems like the 80s are making a comeback with some fierceness.

Other news…I’m waiting for school to start at the end of September. I’ll be taking some community college courses on Child Development for a certification program. If its anything I’ve figured out during my short stint as a librarian, its that I like working with kids and that I want to really focus and put my energies towards becoming a children’s librarian.

My birthday is also coming up at the end of September. The big 2-7. 3 years closer to 30. 7 months closer to my wedding. 7 months closer to my 2 week honeymoon in Europe. 7 more months until I get to celebrate the Festival of Saint Jordi in Barcelona.

Lots of good things to look forward to, too bad the real good stuff is happening in 2011. At least I can look forward to the Fall TV season starting again this week! America’s Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, Supernatural, The Biggest Loser, etc.