Saturday, March 25, 2006

ToB continues....

Never Let Me Go has moved on as did Home Land by Sam Lipsyte. The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova have fallen by the wayside.

I somewhat disagree with The Historian not being moved through to Round 2. I am only half way through the book, but I am really enjoying it. I guess it is somewhat dry and slightly academic (as the judge points out) so it can be a little hard to get through it all. But I tend to glance over paragraphs that get too wordy or boring, looking for the overall picture. I'll give an overall review of it when I finish, if ever. I am currently spending my minimal free time knitting a baby blanket for a friend so reading has taken a backseat.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ToB Round One continues

History of Love won out over The Time In Between.

Today's matchup was:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will be moving onto round two, where it will go up against, History of Love, which ironically is the author's wife's book.

Tomorrow's matchup is:

Review - The Year of Magical Thinking

My book club book for this month was Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. It's a memoir about the year following her husband's death. But it was graceful and thought=provoking rather than Oprah-Book-Tearjerker depressing. I haven't read her previous books, and at first her writing style bugged me, but I couldn't put this book down. It's a quick read at about 225 pages. It really wasn't what I was expecting at all, but it was beautiful and moving, and the phrases and images she echoes throughout the book really resonate, and keep the book from being self-indulgent. It's a surprisingly grounded account of a year Didion acknowledges that she was kind of crazy. I definitely recommend it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Best Sellers

I recently finished four best sellers. Stephen King's CELL, Robert B. Parker's SEA CHANGE and two by Sarh Dunant, THE BIRTH OF VENUS and IN THE COMPANY OF THE COURTESAN.

I don't own a cell phone and neither does Stephen King or so he says. After reading CELL, I'm not certain I really need one. This is King at his usual scary best although I was disappointed w/the ending. Too much left undone.

SEA CHANGE is another good example of Parker's writing. Taut dialog with a sarcastic edge. Tough characters with all too human frailties and a rather shocking denoument. All Parker's books are quick reads that leave you wanting more. He has three detective series going so it seems there promises to be more.

Sarah Dunant's historical novels are extremely well researched w/bibliographies at the end. I guess that means she's a SERIOUS writer. These two books are set in 15th and 16th century Italy, Florence and Venice. You learn that life was very different and very difficult than today's existence. The plots center around events of the times and actual people you learned about in school have roles in the books. For those of you with an interest in Art History, THE BIRTH OF VENUS has an intriguing appearance by Michaelangelo. In THE COMPANY OF THE COURTESAN gives you insight into the huge amount of time and effort it took to practice the oldest profession. You learn that appearances ARE everything but in the end family values endure.

ToB starts tomorrow!

For those of you who are intrigued, the Tournament of Books begins tomorrow. Each day of the week you can go to the website and they will have a review of each day's matchup. From the ToB website:

"The first of many judgment days is tomorrow (a new judgment published each weekday until the tournament’s done), with judge Choire Sicha deciding between the highly regarded—and highly PR-machine’d—The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Dave Bergen’s stealth bomber, The Time in Between. It’s guaranteed to be a joyful bloodbath. Welcome to the 2006 Tournament of Books."


If anyone has read either of these and would like to give your own review. Please post a comment.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Review--The Accidental

The Accidental by Ali Smith is one of the books from the Tournament of Books. I listened to the audiobook of this. I'm not sure if I would have had a different impression from actually reading the book. It has been hyped by several publications and it won the Whitbread award so I was anticipating a very good book. However, I found it to be only an okay book.

An English family is vacationing and a stranger enters their world and possibly changes their lives. The book is written where each chapter is from a different character's point of view. I liked the first half of the book and enjoyed hearing the different characters viewpoints. But I just didn't see where the story was going and I got bored. So I admit, although it is very against my nature to abandon a book, I did not listen to the last four chapters.

I will be curious to see how it does in the bracket and what the judges thought of it. Maybe I'm just not literary-minded enough to have grasped why this is supposed to be such a great book. I did look up other reviews of it and they are pretty mixed. Seems like you either love it or you hate it.

I am currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I am not incredibly far into yet, but I am really enjoying it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

ToB Bracket announced!

If you click on the Tournament of Books link in the sidebar, you will see the list of judges and a place to download the tournament bracket. I have to say, I'm really amused by The Morning News writers. I think their explanations of their process are great and they don't take themselves too seriously. Which I love!

Anyway, check out the bracket, I may post a running commentary of the tournament and see if any of you have read some of the books on the list and your opinions of them. And whether or not you agree with the judges choices.

Review - The Big Over Easy

I finished The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde, and I really enjoyed it. If you've read his Thursday Next series, you may find it difficult not to agonize over the connections between The Well of Lost Plots (in which most of these characters make an appearance), but it's an enjoyable debut to his new series, and I'll definitely read the second book, which comes out this summer.

The book opens up in Reading, England, where Mary Mary is assigned to work with Jack Spratt in the Nursery Crime Division, which investigates crimes involving gingerbread houses, giants, and most significantly for this book, the murder of a large egg. Humpty Dumpty has been murdered, and suspects abound. Jack must make his way through a tangled web of corporate greed, ex-wives, and mad scientists to solve the murder. To make things more difficult, Reading is a world where police not only have to solve crimes, they have to make them readable, and Jack has always been an outsider, devoted to justice rather than ratings. Fforde does a great job creating fun characters and an outrageous world for them to play in.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Has anyone tried this? I recommend it as a way of acquiring books you are interested in but don't have time to read at the moment. It's like Netflix. You keep a running list of books you'd like to read. Each month Zooba will send you the book at the top of your list. You can rearrange, add or delete books from your list whenever you want.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Seven Deadly Wonders

Just finished 7 Deadly Wonders by Matthew Reilly. WOW! Talk about nonstop action and adventure. The book is a Sinbad, The Sailor movie from my childhood. A team researches the seven ancient wonders of the world and then actually finds them all usually one step ahead of the evil USA and Europe. Yes, the USA and Europe are the BAD GUYS in this story. An interesting twist. Each ancient wonder site is filled w/hazards for those brave enough to try to find the elusive treasure left behind by none other than Alexander the Great.A high adventure read for a blustery winter afternoon.