Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quick Reviews...

Up to category #4 now, Get Off Of My Lawn! - Children's and YA Lit. This is one of the few categories I have almost finished, but since it includes short children's books, that's not a surprise.

"Viola in Reel Life" by Adriana Trigiani
Already reviewed here in January. Here's the link.

"Persephone and the Pomegranate" by Kris Waldherr
Great re-telling of the classic myth, wonderful pictures included.

"The Book of Goddesses" by Kris Waldherr
For kids, but an interesting read for me. There were quite a few goddesses I had never heard of before. And, once again, with wonderful pictures.

"Briar Rose" by Jane Yolen
I read this for the group readalong on LibraryThing (or, LT). This book is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, involving the holocaust. I liked this book, but it was a little... I don't know, clunky? I realize it's for middle-grade readers, but usually I don't notice any disjointedness like I did here. I feel like she could have spent less time on the first two thirds, and more time on the last third - that's where I was really captivated by the story. I'm glad I read this book, and I'm glad it's at a new home courtesy of PaperbackSwap.

"Goodbye, Chunky Rice" by Craig Thompson
Unlike almost every other person out there, I didn't like this book. I like Craig's work, and the illustrations, but the overall "moral" or whatever didn't jump out at me, or do it for me, and the side characters just seemed like intentional "freaks" of society. Hm. Disappointed, but I like his other stuff much better.

"Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging" by Louise Rennison
Cute, picked up because of talk on LT. It is like a young Bridget Jones, and it's fun to read a lot of the English slang I'm used to hearing on TV. Will read the rest of the series when I need a little mindless book. And I mean that in the nicest possible way, I swear.

"Beauty and the Beast" by Jean Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Another pick because of LT (Retrogirl85), and it was a nice change to the usual versions you find today. (Is this the original? Hm.) It took me back to reading children's books when I was little - it's an oversize format, and the illustrations are very 60's. Despite the fact that I was born in the late 70's, it seems like a lot of the books I owned were from the 60's when my parents were in their twenties. ??? Anyway, a nice version, and thoroughly enjoyable.

"The Vicar of Nibbleswicke" and "The Minpins" by Roald Dahl
I loved both of these books. Vicar was cute, a quirky story about a dyslexic priest, with wonderful illustrations by the fantastic Quentin Blake. Minpins was really wonderful, my favorite of the two. I used to imagine little people living in forests like this when I was small, though I'm almost positive I hadn't read this previously. Great illustrations by Patrick Benson, the kind you could lose yourself in the more you looked at them. Will try to find it second-hand somewhere.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quick Reviews...

Holy cow, you guys. I have only reviewed 5 books here on my blog, and in real life I've read 40 so far this year. To help catch up, I'll be doing some Quick Reviews every once in a while. I think I'll do them by 101010 Challenge category so I can keep track.

Since I've already reviewed the one sad little book in category #1 (Because I Said So - Books my Mom recommends. The book is "Heat Wave".), and the three books I have in category #2 (And You'll Never Guess What Happened Next - Series Books), I'll start my Quick Reviews with category #3, Miss Austen and Her Relations - All things Austen and Austen-related.

"Jane Bites Back" by Michael Thomas Ford
While the reviews for this book tend to be mixed, I enjoyed it. In the interest of full disclosure, this is the first Jane Austen revamp (for lack of a better word) that I've read, despite owning at least a dozen others. Therefore, I have nothing to compare it to.

It's a clever book, filled with undead famous authors (Bronte, Byron), lots of books, mystery, and a few laughs. Jane Bites Back is certainly an easy read, and while I was a little annoyed sometimes by the conveniences that just pop up and are never remotely explained (like why Lucy, her shop assistant, just totally accepts the fact that Jane is a vampire and goes straight to joking about it - wouldn't she be at least a little bit shocked or questioning?), they're seemingly there because the author couldn't think of a way to fit the necessary information in the right place for the story line. (Despite that last sentence, I have no real issue with how this book is written.)

If you're looking for a nice twist on the classic author/monster genre that's out there, this book will certainly fit the bill. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series!

"Mr. Darcy, Vampyre" by Amanda George
In this book, we follow Elizabeth and Darcy on their continental honeymoon. But all is not as it should be. Why is Darcy acting so strange? Why hasn't he come to their marriage bed? And who are all of these supposedly close family friends who dress so old-fashioned?

I liked this book, though I was annoyed with how dense Elizabeth was. And I like the ending, but it just seemed SO out of place and quick and different from the rest of it that it's sticking with me. Did that bother anyone else? At any rate, it's a quick read and entertaining. I'm really digging Austen revamps (pardon the pun) lately.

"Letters from Pemberley" by Jane Dawkins
Really nice, epistolary book of letters from Elizabeth to Jane in the first year of their marriage. Cute references to other Austen books abound, and it seems like it could be written by the lady herself. I'm trying to save the next book for the read-a-thon, but I don't know... it was just so enjoyable, I might not be able to wait another 2 weeks!

Have any of you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Royal Flush

"Royal Flush"
-Rhys Bowen, 2009
ISBN: 042522788X
From: Library
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Booklist:Even though Lady Georgiana is only thirty-second in line to the British throne, one would expect her to possess something other than her good name. Alas, this is not the case, and when a scheme to drum up money by being a suitable dinner companion for male travelers goes terribly wrong, she hightails it up to the family home in the Highlands. There, she finds the castle full of guests (including Wallis Simpson), who make up part of a shooting party at nearby Balmoral. But the grouse aren’t the only ones in danger as guests keep turning up injured (including one hapless woman who’s knocked about by the castle’s old plumbing while she is on the “throne”). Is there a plot afoot to do in members of the royal family? As in previous entries in the series, Georgiana makes a superb sleuth, but much of the fun comes in the contrast between impoverished Georgie and the royal life of which—financial circumstances notwithstanding—she is still a part. Also intriguing is the aptly named Darcy O’Mara, the lady’s love interest. Just what are his intentions?

Thoughts: I love this series - set in 1930's England, involving the Royal family, real people, some real events, and the ever-charming and scrappy Lady Georgiana. In this book, Georgie has two missions: the ongoing task from Her Majesty to prevent Mrs. Simpson from seducing the Prince of Wales, and her new assignment from Scotland Yard to keep watch on members of the royal succession line as there have been several attempts made on their lives. Can Georgie find out who is behind these attempts, keep Wallis Simpson at arms' length from the Prince, deal with her miserable sister-in-law Fig, and manage to catch the charming Darcy long enough to confirm their relationship - perhaps even taking it "all the way"? Such a charming joy to read, I can't wait for book #4, whenever it happens to appear on shelves!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Heat Wave

"Heat Wave"
-Richard Castle, 2009
ISBN: 9781401323820
From: Mom
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Amazon: A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

Thoughts: Bravo to the people at ABC for creating a real book to go along with the book being written on their hit show "Castle". Seriously, this probably rarely happens, and as a consumer, I think it's fantastic. I really enjoy the show "Castle" primarily because I'm in love with Nathan Fillion, but really, it's a good TV program. Cute premise, funny zingers, mysteries to solve, pretty people to look at - what's not to like? At any rate, when I heard this book was actually on shelves I had to go and buy it for my mother for Christmas. She read it in about a day, and then pressed it into my hands saying "This book is so friggin good, you'll love it!" Of course, this being my mom, she didn't actually say friggin, but I digress.

To sum up, if you like the show, you'll like this book. Fast-paced, clever, funny, full of liars, cheats, and no-nonsense cops - and Castle himself too (Rook, actually). It was a quick read, and it kept me turning the pages to find out whodunit and how. Since Richard Castle isn't a real person, I'm wondering if Stephen J. Cannell, who appears as himself on the show and is featured a great deal on the Season 1 DVD extras, is the real writer, but it doesn't really matter. This is a fun book, and great for a few hours of escapism.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Clearly I can't tell time...

A week ago, I was over at a friends' house (Hi, J!) and she asked me if I was still going to write on my blog. I immediately said that yes, I would be, and then realized that I hadn't written anything here since January. Poop. I thought it was maybe a couple of weeks, but obviously I have time-telling issues. My apologies, to all three of you that read this blog. I'll try to be better in future.

In my absence I have worked a lot of hours (more paid than not paid, thankyouverymuch), had several splendid naps, worked, talked to my cats in what could probably safely be classified as an "unhealthy" amount, worked, seen a few friends, worked, and read quite a few books. Despite the fact that I have reviewed only a handful of what I've read this year, and despite the fact that my house is a Disaster, I'll be writing a few updates today and will auto-post them for the next few days.

Thanks for sticking with me!