Thursday, March 8, 2012

2011 Fall Books - Book Hook winners soon!

Thanks for everyone who commented and is a follower of this blog and wants the book hook. Megan and Arwen are now reviewing and will post winners by March 10th. I'm going to let them decide together and stay out of it. I'm no big time blogger, but this was a fun thing. Thanks all!

Here are more books from 2011

The Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follett
Date Published: 1989
Genera: Adult Fiction
Where I read it:  I can’t even remember.  Fall was kind of a blur with starting back to work when Baby G was 12 weeks old.  

The review: No doubt about it this is an epic adventure story.  It spans the lifetime of several diverse characters.  The plot kept me turning pages, and I enjoyed parts of the journey.  It also inspired me to finally buy this painting which I'd been thinking about getting for years.  But, I can't say that I liked it or would recommend it. Pillars just had too much rape and torture and not enough virtue, lovely, good works and praise worthy.  I can see why people really liked it, but violence against women really turns me off.    

City of Angles
Author: Cheralyn Pratt
First Published: 2010
Genera: LDS Fiction (good LDS fiction)
Where I read it:  I read this book while nursing, stirring pasta, waiting to fall asleep, on Saturday mornings, in the bathroom.  I couldn’t put it down.  

This book was fun and refreshingly humorous.  Also, I know the author.  Sherilyn has a whit that I really underestimated while sitting across from her in relief society meetings (church.)  City of Angles has a good cadence and a refreshing mix of clever humor and insightful reflection.

I never read the back covers of books.  I like to experience the everything first hand with out waiting for “that part I saw on the movie trailer.” I don’t watch movie trailers either.  The first half of the book seemed such a different flavor from Deseret Book that I actually had tricked myself into being surprised when Ms. Pratt brought religion on the crime scene.   

I like church.  I like reading, but I don’t like reading pop culture books about “coming to God.”  I wasted too many hours as a pre-teen reading Jack Wayland’s Charly type novels.  Part of me feels only Victor Hugo and George Elliot type authors can do conversion justice.  When Rhea, the heroine of City of Angles, met a couple of Mormon missionaries I expected the whole thing to blow up.  But it didn’t!  It was funny and thoughtful and with out being overly sentimental. Congratulations to Ms. Pratt!.  I feel honored to know the author and I can’t wait for the next one in the series.  I recommend this to all my LDS friends and anyone who can handle a fun crime novel with a little religion in it.

Left to Tell
First Published: 2006
Genera: Christian Non-Fiction
Where I read it:  I listened to this commuting to work around Thanksgiving 2011.

The Rwandan Holocaust happened during my life time.  I was a teenager in 1994. During this terror 1,000,000 people were hacked to death by their former friends and neighbors. At the time I had no idea where Rwanda was.  My life concerned of who said hi to me in the halls and who I sat next to in class.  Teenagers are very self centered.  I was no exception.  I like to think I’m less selfish now. But even now that I listen to NPR and know where Rwanda is, I still felt disconnected from African History. Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story makes it personal.  She survived the killings staying hidden in a crowded bathroom with other women for 91 days.  Left to tell was a quick read and well worth the time.  The story was about faith, and survival. It informed me about the history but still left me with lots of questions the most important being: How could people turn on their friends and slaughter them? I wanted more insight into the killers brain. I read next Machete Season but it wasn't really worth my time.

Machete season
First Published: 2006
Genera: Non-Fiction
Where I read it:  I skimmed this one sitting in my arm chair nursing my baby.  Somehow having a nursing baby while I read it made reading about killings much more painful.  

This book was pretty graphic.  I wish I could have read it in the original French because the translation wasn't very good.  It didn’t really give me the insight into the minds of the Rwandan killers like I was hoping for.

Poison Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
First Published: 2007
Genera: Adult Fiction (the fluffy kind)

When I read it:  While nursing and in bed when I didn’t have anything else to read.  

Disgraceful. I read this book because it is a cousin's favorite. I like my cousin but this book is atrocious. I'd rate it only slightly above a dime store bodice buster but with out any steamy romance to redeem it. (I realize the word redeem is a poor word choice to describe positive qualities of a romance novel but I'm happily just a book critic NOT an aspiring author.) Sadly this book had no romantic chemistry between the main characters. Anachronisms really bother me and Poison study is full of them. I kept trying to figure out when it was set: medieval Europe? The Midwest? Middle earth? The author referenced factories, leotards and coffee beans but her characters were carrying candles and fighting with both guns and broadswords. 

To be fair the plot wasn't bad. It really want bad. I just wish Ms. Snyder had sold her plot idea to someone who could actually write. 

Middle March
Author: George Elliot
First Published: 1871
Genera: Classics

Where I read it:  Late summer going into Fall.  I listened to it.  I walked over to the Utah State Capiotol overlook on A street and 7th Ave to finish it.  

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Reviewing this book is so intimidating.  I love George Elliot.  I love her insight into human nature.  I love her whit and humor.  This could be one of the best novels every written.   If I didn’t have equally insurmountable goals of someday learning to play the piano, I might cut off my right arm if I could write like her.  I’ll buy this book in hard cover and read it again and again.  10 stars.  

When you reach me
Author: Rebecca Stead
First Published: 2009
Genera: YA Fiction, Newberry

Where I read it:  I listened it to it mostly while deep cleaning my kitchen as my baby slept.  

I really had a hard time getting into this one.  But I kept at it and it got more interesting.  The ending makes it all worth while.  I would expect more from the Newberry Award winner.  I’d give the middle 3 stars and the ending 5 stars.

Book a Thousand days

Author: Shannon Hale
First Published: 2007
Where I read it: I listened to this book with my little sister while driving back from our family cabin in Montana late fall.  

This was my favorite Shannon Hale yet.  Imagine two girls stuck in a tower for a few years.  How can you make that interesting?  Shannon did!  I liked this adventurous story.  It was light and easy to read but had some depth exploring feudal systems.  The thing that bothered me was the singing (I listened to it)  It drives me crazy when authors make singing magical.  I know that is funny coming from a singer!  Maybe it is because in the past for me singing has been the result of lots and lots of hard work NOT a magic wand.


Evenstar said...

If I remember correctly, Book of a Thousand Days is a retelling of a fairy tale. Maid Maleen, I think, although there are several variations of the maiden in a tower type story.

Becca said...

Oh, Joan. I am loving these little reviews. George Eliot is very intimidating. Truth be told, she's so very intelligent that I'm afraid to analyze her works, because I'm afraid I'll get it very wrong. She's delightful, and Middlemarch is spectacular. I think I'm going to read Adam Bede next, or maybe Daniel Deronda. But I have to admit, I go with low expectations--how could it ever triumph Middlemarch?

I'm glad you read P&P. I remember starting to read it in high school with sort of a sense of dread. I was thinking, "What could this 19th century chick have to say that could possibly be worth reading?" Well. There you go. The following summer I read Persuasion for a study abroad in Cambridge--and I think it was that more than P&P which really made me love her. Have you read any of her other novels?

Tiana said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never read anything by George Eliot. How did that happen?
I also agree that Book of a Thousand Days is Hale's best.

Hannah said...

Left to Tell is about... actively making the choice to believe in a loving and personal God, in spite of temporarily having only evidence to the contrary. It is about extending forgiveness because "it is the only thing I have left to give"(Immaculee) and because an abuser who has robbed your yesterdays doesn't get to have any of your todays or tomorrows too. It is about healing, and finally living, again. About believing that with God nothing shall be impossible. Left to Tell is really, really good...

Mad Hadder said...

Sneaking under the deadline wire! I heard about Middlemarch on Oprah (don't assume I was a regular of hers) and immediately bought it on her overwhelming recommendation alone. That's how impressed I was. Have I read it? No, but NOW with YOUR 10 stars I'm going to move it to the top! Well, sort of the top. Soon.