Since I started a decent way into this character's life, I'm finding it enjoyable to go back and read about the things I've missed or couldn't figure out. The stories have gotten better and the character has evolved.
Final Take: 3.7/5
Sometime last year, Julie, Lisa, another friend, and I decided we wanted to start a book club. This is logistically difficult as we all reside in different areas of the east coast, which makes our little book club not-so-traditional; our book ‘discussions’ range from message boards to emails and tend to be more comments and reviews than discussions. How does that fit the mold of a book club, you might ask? Well, it introduces us to books we may not have picked up on our own, which, in my mind, should be one of the main functions of a book club.
Now with our Girls Just Reading site in place, we thought it might be an interesting exercise to do group reviews of our book club picks. Our first pick for this site is A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Summary: from Amazon.com
Take one food writer named Cranky Agnes, add a hitman named Shane, mix them together with a Southern mob wedding, a missing necklace, two annoyed flamingos, and a dog named Rhett and you’ve got a recipe for a sexy, hilarious novel about the disastrous side of true love… Agnes Crandall’s life goes awry when a dognapper invades her kitchen one night, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that she’s staked her entire net worth on. Then a hero climbs through her bedroom window. His name is Shane, no last name, just Shane, and he has his own problems: he’s got a big hit scheduled, a rival trying to take him out, and an ex-mobster uncle asking him to protect some little kid named Agnes. When he finds out that Agnes isn’t so little, his uncle has forgotten to mention a missing five million bucks he might have lost in Agnes’s house, and his last hit was a miss, Shane’s life isn’t looking so good, either. Then a bunch of lowlifes come looking for the money, a string of hit men show up for Agnes, and some wedding guests gather with intent to throw more than rice. Agnes and Shane have their hands full with greed, florists, treachery, flamingos, mayhem, mothers of the bride, and—most dangerous of all—each other. Agnes and the Hitman is the perfect combination of sugar and spice, sweet and salty—a novel of delicious proportions.
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?~The Princess Bride
Grandfather: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture,
revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!
Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try and stay awake.
Grandfather: Oh, well, thank you. That's very kind of you.
Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.
It was the title that caught my attention, so I bought it on a whim. I needed a bit of light reading and this fit the bill. I found there to be an excellent balance of Jennifer Crusie's (contemporary-chick-lit-romance) and Bob Mayer's (military/science fiction thrillers) writing styles, neither of whom are authors I would read separately, but together I find them delightful.
It is interesting to hear the narrative from both Agnes's (Crusie) and Shane's (Mayer) point of view, sometimes overlapping chronologically and sometimes moving us ahead, but never in a confusing manner, as so often can occur with overlapping chronology. The writing styles are smooth and blended into each other such as to be indistinguishable to me, though perhaps if I was more familiar with their separate bibliographies, I would not find that to be true. There are some excellent plot twists as well as some downright laugh-out-loud moments. Though slightly far fetched in storyline, this is easy to overlook when given so much to sink one's teeth into.
I intend to go back and add their first collaboration, Don't Look Down, to my collection as another fast-paced, entertaining read.
For the last couple of weeks I have been catching up on the tv show Bones (thanks Jenn). This show is based on Kathy Reichs' Temperence Brennan novels. As both Jenn and Jules have mentioned, the tv show and characters are quite different to the ones in the series. Now, I must admit that I have yet to begin reading the series, but catching up with the show has certainly increased my desire to do so.
The shows new season premiered this evening with another great episode. If you ever feel like taking a break from reading this is a good one to watch. Don't worry about feeling too guilty, because it is based on books.
Don't you just love that theme song?
This morning, I read on TV Guide that Isla Fisher will be the lead in Disney's adaptation of Confessions of a Shopaholic. Finally! After all this time, someone's making a movie!
So, Isla Fisher as Becky Bloomwood. Hmmm, let me see... it could work, I suppose. I've only ever seen her in "Wedding Crashers" where I found her comedic instincts dead on, but I don't feel that's enough for me to form a full opinion. Truthfully, I'd never really picked out an actress to play Becky in my mind so it doesn't bother me much. I just always assumed that if a movie was made, it would be with a British actress unknown to me. Speaking of which, Ms. Fisher is most certainly not British - though that means diddly. Renee Zellweger earned herself some kudos and a Golden Globe nomination for the Bridget Jones movies, after all. Further investigation reveals that Isla grew up in Australia and is engaged to Sasha Baron Cohen and though neither of those makes her anymore British, they both make me think she'd be able to fake it and fake it pretty darn well.
As for Luke Brandon... let's just go ahead and call up Christian Bale's people. Please and Thank You.
Summary: From Publishers Weekly
The success of the Fox TV show Bones, based on bestseller Reichs's series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Cross Bones, etc.), bodes well for this latest installment, in which Brennan once again stumbles on a modern-day mystery inadvertently. While supervising a dig of Native American burial grounds in Charleston, S.C., Brennan finds more recent remains. Soon, her ex-husband, who's a lawyer, appears in town, pursuing leads in a missing persons case connected with a local church. Bodies start piling up at an alarming rate, and Brennan begins to suspect that the deaths are linked to each other—and her ex-husband's inquiry. Reichs's down-to-earth heroine is an appealing creation, who deftly juggles personal problems with professional challenges. Despite the somewhat obvious solution, this novel confirms the series' place in the front rank of the ever-expanding forensic thriller subgenre.
Another strong book for the series. To me the case was second fiddle to having Tempe deal with her personal life head on for a change. This is the first time we've really gotten to know Pete other than mentions here and there. I love how it caused Ryan or should I say Andrew to call her on the carpet. He had very valid points to Tempe about her guard/wall with him. I liked the "Alpha Male" incidents between Ryan and Pete. I think it's ok for Tempe to have a hard time letting go of Pete, it's only normal, they share history and a daughter. Enough said about that before I let something slip.
In regards to the case this time, I felt it was good but not quite as interesting as some of the other cases (Monday Mourning comes to mind). The part that I felt should have been explored more was the religious powerhouse group. I felt that part of the story was a cop-out the way it was resolved. For the case we were introduced to Emma Rousseau a long time friend and collegue of Tempe's since Charleston is her jurisdiction. Sometimes I feel that when KR introduces these characters it seems like she expects us to already know them, when in fact we are just getting to know them. That at times irritates me, but not to the point that I don't want to read her.
You might ask why I rated this one the same as my last Reichs' book if I didn't enjoy it as much? I did enjoy the book overall, I just felt there were some areas where it could have been wrapped up better and the personal issues were far more interesting than the case this time.
Final Take: 4/5
I tend to reread books because I'm a speed reader and as a child I would often finish books so quickly that my mother would threaten not to buy me any more, as it was seemingly a waste of her money. To appease her, I started re-reading the books.
To this day, that's how I justify buying a book in hardcover. Will I re-read it?
So my rating system is simple, especially when comparing apples to oranges (i.e. YA to Historical Fiction to Chick-lit):
Did I enjoy it enough to re-read it?
If it's below a 4, probably not.
Summary: From Publishers WeeklyIn bestseller Reichs's entertaining 10th Temperance Brennan forensic thriller (after Break No Bones), Brennan, her relationship with Det. Andrew Ryan on the rocks, welcomes the distraction of an unidentified New Brunswick skeleton from Québec's cold case unit. But when the bones are determined to be that of an adolescent girl, Brennan is convinced they belong to her childhood friend, Évangéline Landry, who disappeared at age 15. Now Brennan must come to terms with Évangéline's possible death, while trying to ignore her feelings for Ryan as they investigate a series of teenage abduction murders that could be tied to the mysterious bones. With her usual blend of cutting-edge forensic science, nail-biting suspense and characters that pop off the page, Reichs, who's vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists and the producer of Fox's Bones, has produced another winner in one of the genre's most satisfying series. (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Although there are many good things to be said regarding this novel, Bones to Ashes, it is not among my favorites in the series. It's not even due to the romantic (or lack of) situation that Brennan finds herself in; I was far more dissatisfied with where Reichs left us in Tempe's love life at the end of her last Bones adventure.
Reichs loves to champion a cause in her books and this time the subject is that of Arcadian culture and the struggles of the Arcadian peoples. I found this thoroughly interesting, but not as well connected as some of her prior themes. It felt like she was stretching the book a little too thin to get all the details in, with little of the character development I've grown to love in her books. Everything tied together in the end, but it seemed a little... forced to me
The book had the wit but not the charm. ~ But even my least favorite Reichs book outshines most other authors any day!
Overall Rating: 4.6/5
SIDEBAR: As Julie mentioned in an earlier review, yes, this is the series that the hit TV show Bones comes from, but the characters differ greatly from the books to the TV version, not only in location but in character background and personality. I love both the TV series and the novels, but don't expect to pick up the novel and be immersed in the world of Booth and Brennan and vice versa don't jump into the TV show wondering where Andrew and Pete are... both stand on their own merits and deserve to be started from the beginning - and judged separately.
As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob --- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
Review: Death or Death-by-Immortality is perhaps the bigger question...
It's been more than a week since I finished this book and I hoped that in that time I would gain a little perspective on it. I've read and re-read bits and pieces of it, but I'm still torn in my opinion of it.
As an adult, former teacher, and soon-to-be-parent, I'm struggling with the message of this book... it was in the corner of my mind nagging me a little while reading New Moon and I set it aside, but I'm afraid I cannot ignore it any longer. Yes, as a purist, I understand the axiom "true love conquers all" but at what cost? To what end?
Then, I must think of it as a novel for the sake of a novel. Would I have such an issue with this is if weren't labeled young adult? I think the answer here is 'no.' As a whole this was a well written book, showing the most maturity in writing styles of the three, and it was a solid plot. There were times where I actually felt a little bogged down in the plot exposition, which is unusual for Meyer. The struggle to choose a path when the heart is divided, adversaries as allies... all told in a sensual manner - very compelling.
Meyer left the end of this one open, and there is a fourth book planned. I'm not sure where Meyer will go from here, but I am interested to find out.
Overall Rating: 4.7/5
"'Why do you write for children?' My immediate response to this question is, 'I don't.' ... If it's not good enough for adults, it's not good enough for children. If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books. And words." ~Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet (1972)
"Sometimes I answer that if I have something I want to say that is too difficult for adults to swallow, then I will write it in a book for children. This is usually good for a slightly startled laugh, but it's perfectly true. Children still haven't closed themselves off with fear of the unknown, fear of revolution, or the scramble for security. They are still familiar with the inborn vocabulary of myth. It was adults who thought that children would be afraid of the Dark Thing in Wrinkle, not children, who understand the need to see thingness, non-ness, and to fight it." ~Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet (1972)For me, she introduced the concept that religion, science, and magic all coexist as different facets of the same reality. For her works of literature, I'm profoundly grateful.
"Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist." ~Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
At a young age, girls can sit still for much longer periods of time than boys, says Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain. "Girls have an easier time with readin g or written work, and it's not a stretch to extrapolate [that] to adult life," Brizendine says.
Summary: New York Public Library
Recovered from the vampire attack that hospitalized her in the conclusion of Twilight, Bella celebrates her birthday with her boyfriend Edward and his family, a unique clan of vampires that has sworn off human blood. But the celebration abruptly ends when the teen accidentally cuts her arm on broken glass. The sight and smell of her blood trickling away forces the Cullen family to retreat lest they be tempted to make a meal of her. After all is mended, Edward, realizing the danger that he and his family create for Bella, sees no option for her safety but to leave. Mourning his departure, she slips into a downward spiral of depression that penetrates and lingers over her every step. Vampire fans will appreciate the subsequently dour mood that permeates the novel, and it's not until Bella befriends Jacob, a sophomore from her school with a penchant for motorcycles, that both the pace and her disposition begin to take off. Their adventures are wild, dare-devilish, and teeter on the brink of romance, but memories of Edward pervade Bella's emotions, and soon their fun quickly morphs into danger, especially when she uncovers the true identities of Jacob and his pack of friends. Less streamlined than Twilight yet just as exciting, New Moon will more than feed the bloodthirsty hankerings of fans of the first volume and leave them breathless for the third.
I really feel that this second novel from Meyer flows much better than the first. There is no waiting around for the story to begin and much more development of non-central characters. Some of this due in part, I'm sure, to the fact that Meyer expects you to have read the first book and she feels that she can start in the middle of her story. Also, without Edward, Meyer is forced to focus on other characters.
To me, this story feels far more complete from a writing standpoint. Although, I find the incident that sparks Edward's decision to leave Bella is rather tame in comparison to his reaction, it gives us a chance to explore Bella's world without him. Meyer beautifully depicts "going through the motions" and the attempts at regaining some sort of semblance to a shattered soul. Should Bella let herself get romantically involved with someone who obviously loves her more than she could ever love him, if only just to feel again? And is her penchant for danger going to kill her even without being involved with Edward?
My only objection is that I really feel that the blurb's on the back, and to some extent the prologue, give us too much information on where we are headed. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised when I get there. All in all, this was a very solid read for me.
Overall Rating 4.8/5
In her rollicking 13th Stephanie Plum adventure (after Twelve Sharp), bestseller Evanovich is in top, quirky form. Plucky, bumbling New Jersey bounty hunter Plum is reunited with her two-timing lawyer ex-husband, Dickie Orr, while doing a favor for the mysterious, sexy Ranger. But when Dickie disappears from his house leaving behind only bloodstains and bullet holes, Plum becomes the prime suspect in his alleged murder. Determined to clear her name, Plum and her on-again off-again Trenton cop boyfriend, the irresistible Joe Morelli, uncover Dickie's ties to a shady group of men involved in everything from money laundering to drug running. And when Dickie's jilted business partners decide Stephanie holds the key to the $40 million they believe Dickie stole from them, she's in for a wild ride. With the author's usual cast of eccentric side characters—everything from a taxidermist with a penchant for bombs to a grave-robbing tax man—Evanovich proves once again that Stephanie Plum and her entourage are here to stay.
First off you must know that I'm a "Cupcake", while I believe that being a "Babe" might be fun for a while the mystery of Ranger would wear out it's welcome. Which is why as much as I love this series, I'm ready for Steph to make a decision between Joe Morelli and Carlos Manoso AKA Ranger. I love the banter between Stephanie and Ranger and the heat it generates but there is something that pulls her to Morelli more than Ranger.
I enjoyed the adventure as usual in the book. I enjoyed how Ms. Evanovich brought in Stephanie's first and slimy ex-husband Dickie Orr and her ultimate nemesis Joyce Bernhardt, it made for good comedy. The adventures in the series are never complex but more to show how much trouble Stephanie can get herself into without even really trying.
The supporting cast in the book is always what makes it for me. Grandma Mazur, Lula, Mr and Mrs. Plum. They are the glue that holds this series together; since at times Stephanie can get on my nerves, you need a strong supporting cast.
This wasn't the best book out of the series but it was entertaining enough to make me wonder what happens in the next book. Note to Janet: MORE MORELLI!!!
Final Take: 3.8/5
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