Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Julie's Review: Baby Proof

Summary: The bestselling author of Something Borrowed and Something Blue tells the story of what happens after the "I do"s. As a successful editor at a Manhattan publishing house, Claudia Parr counts herself fortunate to meet and marry Ben, a man who claims to be a nonbreeding career-firster like she is. The couple's early married years go smoothly, but then Ben's biological clock starts to tick. A baby's a deal breaker for Claudia, so she moves out and bunks with her college roommate Jess (a 35-year-old blonde goddess stuck in a series of dead-end relationships) while the wheels of divorce crank into action. Even after the divorce is finalized and Claudia embarks on a steamy love affair with her colleague Richard, she begins to doubt her decision when she suspects Ben has found a smart, young and beautiful woman willing to bear his children. Standard fare as far as chick lit goes, but there are strong subplots involving Claudia's sisters (one is coping with infertility, the other with a cheating spouse) and the childless-by-choice plot line produces above-average tension. - Publishers Weekly

Review: I've read Emily Giffin's other two books, Something Borrowed and Something Blue enjoyed both of them emensly so I'm not sure why this sat on my shelf for over a year (too many books, too little time?!) but I'm glad that I finally read it. I was engaged in the story within the first few pages and was immediately drawn to the main character, Claudia. I enjoyed how the story was told from her point of view and she didn't really hold any punches about how she felt. All of the characters in the book were very vivid and real to me except Ben. For some reason, even though he's an integral part of the story, he felt a bit cartoonish to me. I seriously doubt that's how Emily wanted him to come off but he at least did too me.

I disagree with Publishers Weekly in the fact that this is standard Chick-Lit fare because of the subject matters that it deals with, some might call them social taboos and I don't think they've been addressed in any other "chick-lit" book that I've read before. While the ending was good and seemed to fit within the story, I am a bit disappointed that the author chose the route she did. While I enjoyed the point-of-view from Claudia, I do think it would have been equally as enriching to perhaps have thrown Ben's POV in during the course of the book too. Although in doing that you would have lost some of the twists thrown in at the end of the book.

I enjoyed all the supporting characters in this book. There were many different subplots going on but yet you didn't feel like there was too much going on that you couldn't follow it. Ms. Griffin did a very nice job of blending all the plots together.

I will continue to look for Ms. Griffin's work in the future, she's an excellent storyteller.

Final Take: 4/5

Continue reading the review...

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Sister's Keeper: More Casting News

Apparently, no amount of crossing my fingers and wishing on a star can make this little girl's dreams come true. Okay - that was a bit over-dramatic, but my plea to not have Dakota Fanning be cast in the movie adaptation of "My Sister's Keeper" didn't quite reach the producer's ears.


Now, now... don't get me wrong. Ms. Fanning is quite an adorable young lady, but she is also the obvious choice and I was really hoping Nick Cassavettes and Co. would go a much different route. Besides, aren't they much younger than they characters in the books? Well Cameron Diaz is also younger than the mom in the book.
Oh well, Dakota and her sister Elle will be inhabiting Kate and Anna Fitzgerald. Read the story here.


I won't proclaim that I won't go see this movie - at least not just yet. However, if they get me Christian Bale and all may just be forgiven.

Continue reading the review...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Entertainment Weekly's 2007 Entertainer of the Year

For the first time ever, EW has chosen an author as their entertainer of the year! That author - who else but JK Rowling. Well done EW. 100 % deserved.

"J.K. Rowling is our Entertainer of the Year because she did something very, very hard, and she did it very, very well, thus pleasing hundreds of millions of children and adults very, very much. In an era of videogame consoles, online multiplayer ''environments,'' and tinier-is-better mobisodes, minisodes, and webisodes, she got people to tote around her big, fat old-fashioned printed-on-paper books as if they were the hottest new entertainment devices on the planet. Let's also credit her for one more thing. What she spent the last 17 years creating turned out to be completely original. "

Check out the entire article and the other entertainers here.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Julie's Review: The Myth of You and Me

Summary: Stewart peers into the complicated heart of friendship in a moving second novel (after 2000's Body of a Girl). Ever since a cataclysmic falling out with her best friend, Sonia, after college, Cameron's closest companion has been Oliver, the 92-year-old historian she lives with and cares for in Oxford, Miss. Oliver's death leaves Cameron alone and adrift, until she discovers that he has given her one last task: she must track down her estranged best friend (whose letter announcing her engagement Cameron had so recently ignored) and deliver a mysterious present to her. Cameron's journey leads her back to the people, places and memories of their shared past, when they called themselves "Cameronia" and swore to be friends forever. It was a relationship more powerful than romantic love—yet romantic love (or sex, anyway) could still wreck it. Stewart lures the reader forward with two unanswered questions: What was the disaster that ended their friendship, and what will be revealed when Cameron and Sonia are together again and Oliver's package is finally opened? The book is heartfelt and its characters believable jigsaw puzzles of insecurities, talents and secrets, and if Cameron's carefully guarded anger makes her occasionally disagreeable, readers will nevertheless welcome her happy ending.

Review: A girlfriend lent me this book and while I read it quickly, the ending was pretty predictable and a bit disappointing. You can pretty much think that if a friendship that was very strong in youth ends up disintegrating in young adulthood the reason was most definitely a man. I won't give tell who and when but that it was a bit disappointing that the author chose this route. What I found most redeemable about the books were the flashbacks to how Cameron and Sonia became friends and how they stayed friends throughout most of their youth and young adult life. It is understandable how Cameron liked the life of a nomad since she grew up moving a lot in life since her dad was in the armed forces, so the fact that she gets up and leaves soon after Oliver dies it's not too surprising. What is contained in Oliver's package is the most interesting part of the whole the story.

I will give the book credit, it did make me think about past friendships and the reason they are in the past and the truth is that in life you tend to out grow people and people are in your life for a certain time and reason. That being said I think every friendship teaches you something about life and something about yourself.

Final Take: 3.5/5

Continue reading the review...

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Joy of Books

I love books and it's evident by my bookshelf that has over 50 books that haven't been read. So that's my issue, I just finished a book and now I need to start a new one and I haven't the slightest clue on what to pick? I don't know what I'm in the mood for either.

Any suggestions on how to pick my next book?

-Julie

Continue reading the review...

Julie's Review: The 6th Target

Summary: When a horrifying attack leaves one of the four members of the Women's Murder Club struggling for her life, the others fight to keep a madman behind bars before anyone else is hurt. And Lindsay Boxer and her new partner in the San Francisco police department run flat-out to stop a series of kidnappings that has electrified the city: children are being plucked off the streets together with their nannies-- but the kidnappers aren't demanding ransom. Amid uncertainty and rising panic, Lindsay juggles the possibility of a new love with an unsolvable investigation, and the knowledge that one member of the club could be on the brink of death. And just when everything appears momentarily under control, the case takes a terrifying turn, putting an entire city in lethal danger. Lindsay must make a choice she never dreamed she'd face--with no certainty that either outcome has more than a prayer of success. - Amazon.com

Review: I'm always excited when I read that there's a new Women's Murder Club book coming out and this time was no different until I just finished it. It was a bit of a let down, not in the characters but in the split storylines. I understand why it was done that way because none of the plots would be a full book but I was disappointed that the crimes didn't somehow intersect, that would have made them a bit more interesting. In, what I will call the main plot, the crime affects all 4 of the WMC women but the other stories 3 of the 4 ladies takes center court. This is the part I didn't mind and would have enjoyed having it flushed out a bit more.

I feel that the book could have been better done if there was just one author. It's not that it was a horribly written book but it definitely seemed like each of them had their plot to write and perhaps that's why none of the crimes intersected. I would prefer if James Patterson continued to write these books on his own, like the Alex Cross series and leave the co-writing to his other books.

I also don't feel like the summary by amazon.com this time around is truly accurate on a few different points.

Final Take: 3.5/5

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Are You A Re-Reader?

If Jenn was British, she'd undoubtedly be a part of the 80% referenced in this article. Me, on the other hand, I'm still wondering if I'd be included. Apart from the Harry Potter series (how could you not read those countless times?), I mostly never re-read, unless of course, there's a movie in the works. Most books aren't really worth the time anyway.

But "Pride and Prejudice" as a top re-read? Really?

So what about you, would you be a part of the 80%? And what would be atop of your list?

Continue reading the review...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jenn's Review: 1st to Die

Summary:

The Women's Murder Club pits four San Francisco women professionals against a serial killer who's stalking and murdering newlyweds in bestselling author James Patterson's newest thriller. Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector who's just gotten some very bad news. She deals with it by immersing herself in her newest case and soliciting the personal as well as professional support of her closest friend, who happens to be the city's medical examiner. The two women, along with an ambitious and sympathetic reporter and an assistant DA, form an unlikely alliance, pooling their information and bypassing the chain of command in an engaging, suspenseful story whose gruesome setup is vintage Patterson.

"What is the worst thing anyone has ever done?" the killer muses to himself early in the narrative. "Am I capable of doing it? Do I have what it takes?" Answering his own question, he embarks on a murderous spree that takes him from the bridal suite in a Nob Hill hotel to a honeymoon destination in the Napa Valley and thence to a wedding reception at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Dispatching his victims on the happiest day of their lives, he purposefully leaves enough clues for his distaff trackers to discover his identity and put him behind bars. But just when the women think they've got the case all wrapped up, the killer turns the tables on them in a bloody denouement that even the most discerning reader won't see coming. Patterson, author of the popular Alex Cross mysteries, promises future adventures for the Women's Murder Club, which may give him an opportunity to develop his heroines' characters more completely and win new fans among those who prefer their detectives in high heels and lipstick. --Jane Adams, Amazon.com

Review: I don't tend to read a lot of male authors, I'm not sure why that is... perhaps I don't feel that they speak to me as do female authors...whatever the case, I decided to pick up the Women's Murder Club Series, because I can't get enough of the new show on TV. I think the characters are fantastic! --And so very close to what Patterson has written.

In picking up this book I was far from disappointed. As a matter of fact, I read it in a day. I couldn't help it; it just didn't want to be set down. The plot twists were brilliant (I hate when I can pick a murderer a mile away, and I certainly didn't see this coming). The characters accessible (Patterson writes female characters surprisingly well). The book had a perfect balance of drama, romance, friendship, and character development for me. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Overall 4.8/5.0

Continue reading the review...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Julie's Review: Garden Spells

Summary: Two gifted sisters draw on their talents to belatedly forge a bond and find their ways in life in Allen's easygoing debut novel. Thirty-four-year-old Claire Waverley manifests her talent in cooking; using edible flowers, Claire creates dishes that affect the eater in curious ways. But not all Waverley women embrace their gifts; some, including Claire's mother, escape the family's eccentric reputation by running away. She abandoned Claire and her sister when they were young. Consequently, Claire has remained close to home, unwilling to open up to new people or experiences. Claire's younger sister, Sydney, however, followed in their mother's footsteps 10 years ago and left for New York, and after a string of abusive, roustabout boyfriends, returns to Bascom, N.C., with her five-year-old daughter, Bay. As Sydney reacquaints herself with old friends and rivals, she discovers her own Waverley magic. Claire, in turn, begins to open up to her sister and in the process learns how to welcome other possibilities. Though Allen's prose can lean toward the pedestrian and the romance subplots feel perfunctory, the blending of horticultural folklore, the supernatural and a big dollop of Southern flavor should find favor with a wide swath of readers.

Review: When I was at Barnes and Noble to buy the book, the lady told me it was a "can't put it down" book. Well once I really got into it, she was right. I loved the characters and I loved the prose. Claire and Sydney Waverly couldn't be more different (aren't most sisters?) but yet they shared a common theme, they each blamed each other for what happened to them in their childhood. Their mother Lorelei left them when they were younger to live with their grandmother in Bascom and while Claire embraced her mysterious heritage; Sydney rebelled against it. Claire stayed in Bascom and created a successful catering business while Sydney ran off and explored the world but only to return to Bascom 10 years later with a young daughter in tow.

To me , the book was about fate, opening yourself up and embracing who you are. We see a good change in both Claire and Sydney. Claire learns to open herself up and Sydney learns that she has the strength she needs to be a good mother and a good person. Each Waverly women has a gift that manifests itself in different ways. While their gifts are magical, I took the message to be we all have gifts and should use them in the best way possible. While this book is set in the South, it didn't seem overly "southern" to me, other than maybe the cooking part of the book.

I know the book has been compared to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and while they are similar they are different. Garden Spells isn't about witchcraft and a book of spells, it's about embracing yourself and your heritage. The cooking part of the book actually reminded me of a 1 star movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar called Simply Irresistable minus the magical crab.

I would definitely recommend this book and will definitely be purchasing Sarah Addison Allen's next book.

Final Take: 4.75/5

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

2007 Books & Holiday Shopping

Okay, yes, I'm one of those crazy woman who likes to have the majority of her holiday shopping done by the end of November. But if you are looking for the book lover in your life... or even just for you, Amazon has put together their list of Best Books of 2007 - I'm not usually a societal conformist, and I don't tend to read things just because they're popular, but the Editor's Top 100 list is a great way to review the year in books - you can even shop by genre - and see what catches your eye.

Go ahead see what you/we/I may have missed.

Continue reading the review...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tidbits about JK Rowling

Couple of JK Rowling related stories over the last week or so.

ABC News is reporting that JK Rowling is planning to write the wizardry tales of "Beedle The Bard" but the chance that you and I, the ordinary fan likely won't get to read them. The plan is to produce on seven of these books that are handwritten and illustrated by JKR. Six books will be given to people close to the Potter franchise and the remaining book will be auctioned. So think we can all get together to raise the million or so this will go for?

According to The Press Association, Ms Rowling and her publisher has initiated a copyright lawsuit against Steve Vander Ark, a fan and a librarian who created the online encyclopedia of the Potter series. His book is planned for release in the UK next month. Now JKR has always said that she will write an encyclopedia herself. Hmm...

Continue reading the review...

My Judgment Must Be Off...

Over the past 3 or so months, I've read one really good book. What's that about? So, I won't be reviewing The Almost Moon right now, because it's honestly going nowhere fast. I've been reading it since last Sunday and I am still 107 pages in. The most I can say about these 100 pages is simply that's it's really tedious and partly disturbing. I haven't yet read The Lovely Bones, because I am holding out for the movie and I expect that I will read it anyway, because I've had a lot of recommendations for it.

But back to the fact that I can't find a good book to read... is it simply bad judgment? I am extremely frustrated that I haven't been able to fully escape into a good book lately, because boy do I need it!

Continue reading the review...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: UK vs US Edition

I started reading both versions of these books about seven years ago - just after I started reading the series. A friend of mine was going on and on about how much he preferred the British editions as they were closer to what JK Rowling actually wrote (not overly edited and Americanized) – not to mention the difference in artwork.

I thought it prudent to investigate for myself... and found that there is a world of difference between the Sorcerer's Stone and the Philosopher's Stone. Rowling herself was greatly displeased with the American publication as she found it to be overly translated from English (or as my mum would call it "The Queen's English") into "American." There are several times where this is understandable (for example, the difference between a jumper being a sweater in English and a dress in American) but I would have to agree with JKR that the first novel was overly edited (mum to mommy, for example), something which she made sure did not occur again in the novels that followed it.

The differences between the books from here on out are slight, with a few notable exceptions. JKR pointed one out herself in an interview a few years back about Goblet of Fire where the order of appearance for Harry's mother and father (during Priori Incantatem) get switched backwards in the first UK edition as an editor questioned JKR and thinking she was wrong, JKR changed it around.

Also, notably missing from the UK edition is part of Dumbledore's final conversation with Draco in Half Blood Prince. The text in red was omitted from the UK publications:
"He told me to do it or he'll kill me. I've got no choice."
"He cannot kill you if you are already dead. Come over to the right side Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise. Nobody would be surprised that you had died in your attempt to kill me -- forgive me, but Lord Voldemort probably expects it. Nor would the Death Eaters be surprised that we had captured and killed your mother -- it is what they would do themselves, after all. Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban...When the time comes we can protect him too. Come over to the right side, Draco...you are not a killer..." Malfoy stared at Dumbledore. ~(HBP US Edition pg 591/UK Edition pg 552)
This text also does not appear in later paperback versions of the American editions either, so apparently it was a textual cut that didn't make the first US version.

As for the Deathly Hallows, from what I have observed, the differences are minimal. There are the typical variations in spelling and the substitution of a word here or there. Otherwise, it falls in among the rest of the series.

So yes, I own both versions of the Harry Potter series. Do I have a preference? Reading book one, yes, I prefer the British edition... after that, it depends on whether I'm reading/re-reading at home or carrying it around with me... the UK versions are a little more compact, but I do so love the Mary GranPré illustrations... so it's a toss up.

Continue reading the review...

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