Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Find #13

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

A friend of mine has been talking up The Hunger Games for a while. It sounded like something I'd like so I put it on my mental to-check-out list. Yesterday a book club member posted to Twitter and Facebook that there was a free download of The Hunger Games available through Audiobook Community's Sync Link so I had a perfect excuse to start listening to the novel right away. I really know nothing about the site, but it looks like they are going to have two free YA books available for download each week this summer and I can report that I downloaded the book and the Overdrive software with no problems.

The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy (the final installment of which is set to appear on August 24th). I'm not all that far along yet, but so far it is absolutely fantastic. I definitely want to get a hold of paper copies of the books.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

weekly reading recap

This week I finished reading: I'm currently reading quite a few books:

The Little House

The Little House by Philippa Gregory

It was easy for Elizabeth. She married the man she loved, bore him two children and made a home for him which was the envy of their friends. It was harder for Ruth. She married Elizabeth's son and then found that, somehow, she could never quite measure up... Isolation, deceit and betrayal fill the gaps between the two women and between their two worlds. In this complex psychological thriller, Philippa Gregory deploys all her insight into what women want and what women fear, as Ruth confronts the shifting borders of her own sanity.

I read the book all the way through, but I have to admit that I found it horrifying (that was the intent, I think) particularly in as much as what happens to Ruth could really happen. shudder.

Monday, July 19, 2010

weekly reading recap

This week I finished reading: I'm currently reading quite a few books:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye

Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye is the first installment of the Psychic Eye Mysteries series. When it arrived this (a long overdue trade), I decided to read it right away because I knew was to expect from it.

Abby Cooper is a thirty-something psychic in private practice in Royal Oak, Michigan. She ends up in the crime-solving business after one of her clients is murdered. The fact that the guy she's matched with on a dating site ends up being a detective causes problems (she's blamed for a different murder based on information she inadvertently shares with him on their first date) until he convinces him of her gift and how it can help him.

Abby Cooper is a quick read. Abby is a sympathetic character. The way she explains the root of her psychic abilities is interesting (and different that I would have expected. Apparently the author, Victoria Laurie, is herself a psychic so I assume the mechanics of clairvoyance in the novel are based on her personal experience.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Sonnet Lover

The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman

As I mentioned in this post, I've read and enjoyed quite a few of Goodman's books. At this point, the only one I haven't read is her most recent: Arcadia Falls.

I was excited about reading The Sonnet Lover because I tend to find Goodman's novels compelling and atmospheric. I thought Shakespeare would be an interesting addition to her literary thrillers. By the way, I must point out that the novel's synopsis (which you can see in this post) is a bit misleading: the previously-unknown poems that are discovered were not written by Shakespeare, but supposedly by his "dark lady."

Unfortunately for me I'd read The Night Villa (see post) fairly recently. The Sonnet Lover was published before The Night Villa (in 2007 and 2008 respectively), but they their plots are very similar: different location, different rare literary documents, but more or less the same plot. I knew fairly early in the story, who the bad guy was. The person in question was one of a few candidates for that role, but because his/her counterpart in The Night Villa ended up being the villain, I paid closer attention to his/her words and actions than I might have if I hadn't been familiar with The Night Villa.

While disappointed with The Sonnet Lover I'm still open to reading more of Goodman's work in the future. I'll just need to be sure that I allow myself larger gaps between readings of her work.

Monday, July 12, 2010

weekly reading recap

This week I finished reading:
  • Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #2, reread)
  • March by Geraldine Brooks (the June selection for my online book club; post to come)
I'm currently reading:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Angel Landing

Angel Landing by Alice Hoffman

This unforgettable tale about the true meaning of commitment tells of a an activist and a marriage therapist couple who are so consumed with helping others that they are in danger of failing in their duty to themselves.

I started reading Angel Landing shortly after I read The Ice Queen (see post) and I have to say that I was disappointed by it (which is why I hadn't bothered to post about it earlier, but since the blog posts has been a bit sparse lately...)

The only thing I really liked about the novel was Aunt Minnie, who is only a secondary character. I found the protagonist, Natalie, problematic. I had a difficult time relating to her and I don't think her actions were at all realistic (in terms of her professional responsibilities and ethics). I also did not find her romance compelling.

I usually enjoy and appreciate Hoffman's writing, but this particular title just didn't do it for me.

Friday, July 09, 2010

hiding in the bookshelves #4

When I found this absolutely perfect candidate for a hiding-in-the-bookshelves post, I realized that I haven't done one of them for a couple of months.

I didn't rediscover The Sonnet Lover while browsing my bookcases, I happened across it while digging around in our coat closet of all places. I can't help, but wonder why it is that I stuck the novel in the closet. My educated guess is that it arrived smoky- or musty-smelling and I thought hanging out in the vicinity of the dryer sheets might do it good.

The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman

Did Shakespeare pen a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholarship, ardently praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty? This tantalizing question is raised in a letter to literature professor Rose Asher. But the letter's author, Rose's star pupil, is not telling. A troubled, enigmatic young man, he plunged to his death in front of the college's entire faculty, an apparent suicide. Determined to find the truth, Rose journeys from New York to Italy, back to the magnificent Tuscan villa where as an undergraduate she first fell in love.
La Civetta is a dreamlike place, resplendent with the heady scent of lemon trees and the sunset's ocher wash across its bricks and cobbles. Once there Rose finds her first love still in residence. Torn between her mission and her rekindled feelings, Rose becomes enmeshed in a treacherous tangle of secrets and scandal. A folio containing what some believe to be one of Shakespeare's lost sonnets has vanished, and literary immortality awaits whoever finds the manuscript — as do a vast Italian estate and a Hollywood movie deal. Uncertain whom she can trust and where she can turn, Rose races against time and unseen enemies in a bid to find the missing masterpiece.
Lush, lyrical, and enthralling, The Sonnet Lover vividly brings to life the Tuscan countryside and the fascinating world of the Renaissance poets. Unmatched in her ability to evoke atmosphere and intrigue, Carol Goodman delivers her mostambitious and satisfying work to date, a seductive novel that skillfully propels its reader headlong to the final suspenseful page.

I've read and enjoyed quite a few of Goodman's books--most recently The Night Villa by Carol Goodman (see post), but also The Drowning Tree, The Ghost Orchid, The Lake of Dead Languages, and The Seduction of Water--so I might as well put The Sonnet Lover on my to-be-read list.

Monday, July 05, 2010

weekly reading recap

This week the only book I finished reading is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (post).

I'm currently reading quite a few books: I also have quite a few others books in progress including: Chef, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Knitlit (Too), and Saint Julian.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I was really curious about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo after hearing all the buzz about it. Because of some of the subject matter I can't honestly say that I enjoyed reading the novel (it's interesting to note that the original Swedish title translates as "Men Who Hate Women"), but I will say that it is very good.

The multilayered The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines a closed-room murder mystery with financial intrigue, family saga, social commentary, and some truly memorable characters.

The story starts out slow, but overall it is well-paced. While Mikael Blomkvist is the novel's protagonist, his accidental assistant Lisabeth Salander (she of the dragon tattoo) is just as compelling and sympathetic a character. I'm much more interested in what will happen to her in the following books than I am in Blomkvist's future.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

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