Thursday, August 30, 2007

Julie's Review: Cross Bones

Summary: Publishers Weekly via Amazon
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Tempe" Brennan gets caught in mysteries past and present when she's called in to determine if illegal antiquities dealer Avram Ferris's gunshot death is murder or suicide. An acquaintance of Avram suggests the former: he hands Tempe a photograph of a skeleton, taken in Israel in 1963, and insists it's the reason Avram is dead. Tempe's longtime boyfriend, Quebecois detective Andrew Ryan, is also involved with the case, so the duo head to Israel where they attempt to solve the murder and a mystery revolving around a first-century tomb that may contain the remains of the family of Jesus Christ. This find threatens the worldwide Christian community, the Israeli and Jewish hierarchy and numerous illegal antiquity dealers, any of whom might be out to kill Tempe and Ryan. Not that Tempe notices. She has the habit of being oblivious to danger, which quickly becomes annoying, as does Reichs's tendency to end chapters with a heavy-handed cliffhanger ("His next words sent ice up my spine"). The plot is based on a number of real-life anthropological mysteries, and fans of such will have a good time, though thriller readers looking for chills and kills may not find the novel quite as satisfying.

Review:
The 8th book in Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series starts off with a murder (not too untypical) but this one had religious implications to it. Of course it's been compared to The DaVinci Code but personally I don't think the books are very much a like. Yes they both deal with Jesus and his heritage but they come at it in very different manners.

The implications in this book are huge for Christianity, if the remains are those of Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth, but you pretty much figure out that Kathy Reich's isn't going to try to take down a major world religion in a book of fiction, but then again I guess that's what Dan Brown did or attempted to do. Sometimes a lot of her technical jargon goes over my head but I forgive her for that because I adore how she writes Tempe and of course the delicious Det. Andrew Ryan. Plus the stories are so interesting that you do forget that her job is pretty technical and that she's very highly educated.

The murder takes them to Israel and on a wild goose chase, until of course Tempe puts herself in a dangerous situation (yes it can be farfetched but still fun) and then it she figured it out.

I don't want to give too much away because the story does build. If you like a good mystery and some history thrown in you'll enjoy the book.

I would recommend that you start at the beginning of the series (Death Dujour) to get a feel for the history of the characters, otherwise it might be a bit confusing. If you are a fan of the show "Bones" you'll enjoy a different view of this Tempe than the one portrayed by Emily Deschanel.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

LibraryThing

At any given moment, I can't tell you what I have in my library. My favorite books always come to mind whenever I give book recommendations, but I have good books that I've read long ago and for the life of me I can't remember them until I am standing in front of my bookshelves. So, for the longest time I have been looking for a way to organize my library electronically. I have tried to do it in Excel or Access, but I am honestly just too lazy to type out all of that information.
Anyway while searching for an answer to a question from GJR Jenn, I found Library Thing.

I. AM. IN. HEAVEN!

I am not going to even try to sum up this service for you. I'll just let them do it. If you aren't convinced by the time you are done reading the very short introduction well, according to Library Thing "...you cannot be convinced. Go away."

Seriously, whose brain did this come from? It even has a solution for Julie's problem. Well, sort of.

Suffice it to say the $25 lifetime membership fee was an absolute no-brainer for me and I plan to have loads of fun tracking and sharing my library with ya'll.

Continue reading the review...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Book to Movie: The Nanny Diaries


Though I vaguely remember the details of The Nanny Diaries, I do remember thoroughly enjoying it. Normally, I would reread a book before I go see the movie (mostly so I can complain about the differences) but in this instance I chose not to. Actually, I just forgot.

As with any movie adaption of a book, there will always be inconsistencies or changes made to create movie drama and there is no exception here. I don't remember book Annie ever being a budding anthropologist, I checked and she was in fact still attending college in the book, but this device served the movie well. Her interest in anthropology allowed for some highly stylized freeze frame/wax museum exhibit scenes. Fun!

Overall, this is a pretty formulaic "chick-flick", but is it the next "The Devil Wears Prada"? Nope. Don't think so. In the book continually refering to the family as the X's was a tool to preserve "privacy", but in the movie it was played to its comedic hilt and produced numerous laughs at the ridiculousness of it all. The Mary Poppins references/dream sequences were endearing and enjoyable. The film producers, no doubt recognizing the inevitable comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada, poked fun by including a scene where Nanny asks the grandmother to keep an eye on the young charges while she goes to the bathroom. Annoyed, grandma responds, "hurry up! I'm on the last chapter!" The book of course, is the afore-mentioned The Devil Wears Prada.

Both lead actresses are superb in their own right. Laura Linney takes what could have been a one dimensional character and makes you feel for her. I don't remember any redemption for Mrs. X in the book, but she is redeemed quite nicely in the movie. There is no amount of brown hair, or horrible shoes and socks combinations that could make Scarlett Johanssen look like a frump, but they tried and failed. All of her scenes with the actor who played Grayer were alternately hilarious and heartwarming, especially the last one which I admit made me spill a tear or two. Alicia Keys didn't have many scenes, but she did an adequate job (I am looking forward to future projects from her) and Paul Giamatti, needs no praise, as he is always good.

So, unless your guy is super obsessed with Ms. ScarJo (and you should worry if he is) this is definitely one for the girls. Go see it and if you haven't already, pick up the book, it'll be a fun way to while away these last few days of summer.

Final take: Book and Movie 3.5/5.

Continue reading the review...

Something to Ponder....

Why is it when you are in a bookstore you can never remember what is on your wish list?

Continue reading the review...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm new here.

I must admit, I'm not a blogger. I don't read blogs (okay, maybe Michael Ausiello's... but he's Ausiello!) because I don't tend to seek opinions of others outside my close knit circle of friends and family. So why am I here, you ask? Well, I read incessantly and I think it's a great idea to have a forum to discuss books - so you're stuck with me.

Well, seeing as I'm here to stay, what will I bring to the site? Unlike my fellow Girls Just Reading, I don't read chick-lit very often. I tend to read crime novels and young adult literature. Young Adult Literature?!? [gasp] Yes. I find that there is often a lot more creativity here than in the world of adult fiction, with a lot less grasping for my attention. I also read a few non-fiction books, usually historical in nature, and every once in a while, a fictional classic for good measure.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss

Continue reading the review...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

25% of Americans Don't Read!

According to a recently published poll, 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Read more here.

Shocking as these numbers are, I am actually suprised that they aren't much higher. Frankly, I don't buy the whole "there's no time to read" excuse. In 2006, I somehow found the time, amongst other things, to work 2300 hours, watch every episode of all the buzzworthy (and some not) television shows out there, go on a couple of dates, party often with friends and still read 48 books. Yes, I'm a superhuman, I know. Nonreaders are going to have to work much harder to convince me.

While being grateful that the numbers are as low as they are, I can't help but wonder what on earth can be done to reduce it even more?

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Books for Rent?

Today, I came across Booksfree.com. This website functions exactly like Netflix or Blockbuster. For anywhere between $10 and $38 a month you can rent unlimited paperbacks or cd/mp3 audiobooks and have them shipped to you for free. You keep the books for as long as you like and return shipping is also free. Additionally, it looks like you'd be able to keep a book if you absolutely loved it. BooksFree boasts some 79,800 titles in paperback and 18,000 audiobook titles. A bookworm's paradise, perhaps?

For me there are some obvious drawbacks:

  • the service isn't actually free as the name suggests - this rankles me and whether this is just a clever marketing ploy or intentionally misleading, I haven't quite decided;
  • you won't have access to newer titles released in hardcover, so you either end up waiting for the paperback release (up to a year depending on the book's popularity), renting the audiobook or just going to the store to get it. this defeats the purpose, unless you don't care ; and
  • most importantly, at least for me, you have no idea where that book has been. Umm...yeah.

Obviously these concerns are minor ones, since this company has been around since 2000 and it just might be the place to find that difficult to locate or out-of-print book. I'm also fairly certain that depending on availability, you can check the books you want to read but not sure you want to own. The savings alone have got to be very attractive to the frugal bookworm.

I've got 45 unread books on my bookshelf, so I have no need this service just yet and as much as I love nothing more than to crack open a brand new book, I may soon have to sign up in order to keep myself out of debtors prison. Now if only I could convince myself that everyone practices proper book borrowing etiquette.

Continue reading the review...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lisa's Review: The Savvy Sistahs

Summary
Amber, Carla and Brandy---known as the "ABCs"---are intelligent businesswomen who met in their business support group "The Savvy Sistahs Who Mean Business" and became the best of friends. They've bonded over lost loves, past hurts, and too many lonely nights. . . Amber Stuart escaped an abusive marriage and now finds peace running her small bookstore. But when a man passes out in her establishment, after eating one of her homemade cookies, she'll do anything to avoid a lawsuit, even if it means going into his home and nursing this fine brother back to health. What she doesn't know is that this brother is about to turn her life upside down; Raising a two-year-old son on her own and running the computer business she inherited from her father, Carla Osborne doesn't have time for anything else. Then she finds herself the object of a hostile takeover. And it turns out that she's fighting to save her company from the man she had a one-night stand with all those years ago---the man who happens to be her son's father; After a divorce settlement leaves her the sole owner of the St. Laurent Hotel, Brandy Bennett decides to manage her new business full-time. When she finds herself the object of a deranged stalker her family convinces her to bring in a security expert to help. Enter ex-FBI agent, Grey Masters---and with him a whole lot of drama. Life is dishing it out hard, but these ladies are determined to hold on to each other.

My Review
The Savvy Sistahs disappoints only in one respect. The books title led me to believe that it would be a story of friendship so I was expecting a deeper exploration of the bonds of female friendship, but this was not so. That theme in my opinion was only covered in passing. The story focuses more on each character's journey to finding and believing in love again. The novel is fairly predictable, but still compelling. Brandy gets the juciest and most satisfying storyline of the three main characters, so she emerges (unwittingly, I believe) as the main character and the other two characters and stories suffer a bit for that. The writing can be a bit clunky at times and there are sections that are overly sacchrine. Otherwise, Ms. Jackson delivers a solid romance, make that three solid romances, for the price of one. It has everything, drama, intrigue and sex. So very much sex (I don't want to use the S word or anything, but I really don't know 'bout that Brandy). Best of all, nary a gratitous designer reference anywhere! It's good enough for me to not point out that halfway through, a threatening letter that was typewritten, automatically becomes hand-written. I'm just sayin'.


Final Take - 3.5/5

Continue reading the review...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Terry McMillan on Jill Scott

And because reading is not just limited to books...

I was quite pleased with Essence magazine's September cover interview featuring Jill Scott. She is by far my favorite artist and her new album Real Thing: Words & Sounds 3 is due on September 25. CAN'T. WAIT.

She was interviewed by author Terri McMillan, another favorite of mine, and what followed seemed to be an honest conversation between two powerful sisters who have a mutual admiration.

I was saddened to learn that the break-up of Jill's 5 year marriage (12-year relationship) was due to success in her career. More evidence that suggest that women can't have it all.

"There are repercussions to everything, even advancement and success. And I think the repercussion to my success was the loss of my marriage."

"I put icing on the places that were wounded, so they looked good and tasted pretty. But I really didn't deal with them until I had no choice but to deal with what was going on in my marriage."

So sad. She continued to speak about remaining joyful:
"When I'm feeling joyful, it's like cruise control. There's nothing that can take it away. I just feel really powerful. Like I can achieve anything."
having a baby:
"I would love to have a baby and I would love for the man who helped me conceive that child to be holding my hand when I give birth. I would love that."
her role in Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married", and her belief in fate.

Terry: Let me ask you one more question. Do you believe that fate plays a role in your life?
Jill: Add this if you can. When I was 22, I worked at a French Connection in Philly. A young man walks into the store and gives me two tickets to a play he's involved with. I say 'Okay, cool.' Anyway, I see this play and it's smarter than the average bear. And I remember being on the bus and opening up the playbill and seeing the picture and the guy's name: Tyler Perry. Fast-forward 10, 11, 12 years and here I am in a Tyler Perry film.
Terry: I'll definitely put that in. That's wonderful.

Wonderful indeed. By the end, I was wishing that I was able to read all 121 pages of the transcribed interview. (Maybe that just means I'm nosy as hell). So, pick up the magazine if you get a chance this month, in addition to having some gorgeous pictures of Jill, it also features an enlightening profile of Michelle Obama.

Also, Terry McMillan's "The Interruption of Everything" (haven't read it yet) was recently released in paperback and she's working on a memoir and a novel that revisits the women of "Waiting to Exhale" 15 years later. Something to look forward to.

Continue reading the review...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lisa's Review: She Creeps

So first up for me is She Creeps, by Alex Hairston.

Summary
You Live, You Love -- Naomi Gaffney was only eight-years-old the day they found her Momma's body -- and a part of her died too. Then the police took her daddy away. It wasn't enough that he was already one of the most hated men in Eden, North Carolina. Now he was also labeled a murderer. Twenty-one years later, Naomi's father remains in jail, and she's still not sure if he's guilty of a crime of passion, or if he's simply an innocent victim of southern justice. In fact, there isn't much Naomi is sure about these days...

And If You're Smart, You Learn... & Raised by a cruel aunt, Naomi married young to escape her bitter household. But all she got was more heartache with her controlling husband. She knows she's too smart and pretty to waste away in a dead small town. Naomi yearns to feel alive once again. Her childhood taught her that adultery can be deadly, but when a handsome young man offers her everything she craves, Naomi finds that some lessons are more easily learned than others...

My Review
Sounds and looks interesting doesn't it? Well ...I've been told that if you can't say something nice say nothing at all... Well I can say something nice.

Nice Thing:
The climax of the book was unexpected.

Not-so-nice Things:
This is a just a tedious book, it took me 10 days to read it. It does not take me 10 days to read 300 pages. The dialogue was drawn out and oftentimes unnecessary. The majority of it was filler, meaningless exposition. The characters are stereotypically ignorant and speak that way. They were not well developed. I did not believe them. I spent half my time staring out of the window on the train or rolling my eyes at a passage. Some of the scenarios were extremely unrealistic. This was neither character driven, nor plot-driven and ultimately I found myself wishing for my money and my time back. The only reason, I didn't put this down because I always try to finish what I start. Only once or twice have I ever stopped reading a book. I suspect Mr. Hairston can do better as this is his third book. This, however, was not a good showing and unless I get an absolutely fantastic recommendation next time, I will think long and hard about purchasing another of his books.


Final Take - 1.5/5

Continue reading the review...

Hi

Let me be honest, blogging kind of freaks me out a bit. I mean I'm in my mid 30s do I want all kinds of people reading my stuff...I guess since it's about books I'm cool with it. Although don't books reveal a lot about you. Just like Lisa, I have about 45 books on my shelf and that doesn't include the 10 my dad is holding for me and the 15 my sister has for us to read on loan from my aunt. Reading is a passion of mine. I read quickly if the book is entertaining. If it doesn't catch me in the first 50 pages I'm putting it down.

I like finding new authors and often buy the same ones over and over even if there books end up sucking (I'm looking at you James Patterson).

Classics are fine for a change every once and a while but I prefer "contemporary" books. You'll find that I do read chick lit and frankly there is nothing wrong with it especially when you've got talented writers like Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner.

Continue reading the review...

Why Blog?

I am not sure of the answer to that question really, though it seems these days every one has a blog. So I suppose the answer here is "Why not blog"?

I am a big reader and I just love books. I frequently spend half my paycheck in Barnes and Noble. I've got 45 unread books on my bookshelf and the insatiable desire to keep adding to it. I am, however, a simple reader, I read for entertainment and I get immense joy from immersing myself in a different world for several moments a day. You will find a lot of chick-lit and contemporary fiction on my bookshelf, but I will pick up a classic when compelled, which I have to admit is much rarer than I would like.

Ultimately, I am on a quest to find well written books by African-American authors, so that will be a focus of many of my posts as I plan to have every other book I read, be something written by one such author.

I am lucky to have a great friend (Julie) who enjoys reading as much as I do and she's kind enough to join me in this little blogging experiment. I will let her introduce herself and her purpose whenever she gets around to it.

Alright then... Let's get on with it, shall we?

Continue reading the review...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Top Rated Reviews

This is a list of our top rated reviews*

To understand how we rate, please see these posts.

5 Stars
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner - Reviewed by Julie
Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian - Reviewed by Julie
The Heretic Queen by Michele Moran- Reviewed by Julie
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - Reviewed by Julie
The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne - Reviewed by Julie
Nefertiti by Michele Moran - Reviewed by Julie
The Other Bolyen Girl - Reviewed by Julie
Peony in Love by Lisa See - Reviewed by Julie
Perfect on Paper: The (Mis) adventures of Waverly Bryson - Reviewed by Julie
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - Reviewed by Lisa
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - Reviewed by Julie
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella - Reviewed by Julie
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen - Reviewed by Jenn
The Host by Stephenie Meyer - Reviewed by Jenn

4 Stars
1st to Die by James Patterson - Reviewed by Jenn (4.8 stars)
2nd Chance by James Patterson - Reviewed by Jenn (4.7 stars)
3rd Degree by James Patterson - Reviewed by Jenn (4.7 stars)
4th of July by James Patterson - Reviewed by Jenn (4.4 stars)
The 5th Horseman by James Patterson Reviewed by Jenn (4 stars)
The 6th Target by James Patterson - Reviewed by Jenn (4.7 stars)
7th Heaven by James Patterson - Reviewed by Jenn (4.4 stars)
The 8th Confession by James Patterson - Reviewed by Julie (4 stars)
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer - Reviewed by Jenn (4.9 stars)
Anatomy of A Boyfriend by Dari Snadowsky - Reviewed by Jenn (4.8 stars)
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner - Reviewed by Julie (4.25 stars)
Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs - Reviewed by Jenn (4.6 stars)
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark - Reviewed by Julie (4.75 stars)
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer Reviewed by Jenn (4.75 stars)
The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim - Reviewed by Julie (4 stars)
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michele Moran - Reviewed by Julie (4.25 stars)
Darling Jim by Christian Moerk - Reviewed by Julie (4.75 stars)
Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs - Reviewed by Jenn (4.8 stars)
Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs - Reviewed by Julie (4.5 stars)
Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer - Reviewed by Jenn (4.7 stars)
The Embers by Hyatt Bass - Reviewed by Julie (4.5 stars)
Fault Line by Barry Eisler - Reviewed by Jenn (4.8 stars)
Fault Line by Barry Eisler - Reviewed by Julie (4.25 stars)
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs - Reviewed by Julie (4.25 stars)
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - Reviewed by Jenn (4.7 stars)
Gauntlet by Richard Aaron - Reviewed by Jenn (4.5 stars)
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult - Reviewed by Julie (4.5 stars)
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - Reviewed by Lisa (4.5 stars)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - Reviewed by Lisa (4.5 stars)
Knit Two by - Reviewed by Julie (4.5 stars)
The Little Lady & The Prince by Hester Browne - Reviewed by Lisa (4.25 stars)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Reviewed by Julie (4 stars)
Loitering With Intent by Stuart Woods - Reviewed by Julie (4 stars)
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - Reviewed by Julie (4.75 stars)
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - Reviewed by Jenn (4.5 stars)
The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner - Reviewed by Jenn (4 stars)
Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder - Reviewed by Jenn (4.5 stars)
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer - Reviewed by Jenn (4.8 stars)
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly - Reviewed by Lisa (4.25 stars)
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe - Reviewed by Julie (4.3 stars)
The Spire by Richard North Patterson - Reviewed by Julie (4 stars)
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen - Reviewed by Julie (4.75 stars)
Quicksand by Iris Johansen - Reviewed by Julie (4 stars)
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister- Reviewed by Jenn (4.75)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Reviewed by Lisa (4.5 stars)
The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez - Reviewed by Jenn (4.3 stars)
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen - Reviewed by Julie (4.75 stars)
Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo - Reviewed by Jenn (4.8 stars)
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer - Reviewed by Jenn (4.6 stars)
White Lines by Tracy Brown - Reviewed by Lisa (4 stars)
The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - Reviewed by Lisa (4.5 stars)

Continue reading the review...

Contact Us

Alice ~ Email Me

I like to read: Contemporary Fiction, Memoirs, Romance, Women's fiction (AKA Chick-Lit), and Young Adult



Jenn ~ Email Me

I like to read: Young Adult, Mysteries, Thrillers, Crime novels, & Food-Lit



Julie ~ Email Me

I like to Read: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mysteries/Thrillers, & Women's Fiction (AKA Chick-Lit)



Lisa ~ Email Me
I like to Read: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction (AKA Chick-Lit), some Historical Fiction & African American Fiction (this does not include Ghetto Lit)

Continue reading the review...

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