Tuesday, September 22, 2009
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld is about the world of cool hunting. Hunter is one such cool hunter which means he finds Innovators, people who come up with new ways to be cool, and steals their style in order to spread the new idea of cool. When Hunter meets the Innovator, Jen, his world gets turned upside down as he is led on a chase to find his missing boss, discover the origin of some mysterious shoes, and uncover a conspiracy that goes deeper than he thought. While the beginning of the story seems somewhat interesting, the end of the story is anticlimactic and unimaginative. In general, the book is a giant disappointment from an author who shows promise in his other books. Read this book if you like letdowns, if you are interested in weird worlds that make you roll your eyes, or if you like predictable, boring reads. I give it a 2 out of 10.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is the first in a series about Precious Ramotswe, the first lady detective in all of Botswana, Africa. After Precious lost her father, she used her inheritance to buy a home and a business. She doubts whether or not she will be able to stay open and have enough business to pay her bills, but she somehow manages to keep a steady flow of clients who seek her advice and detective skills. Several cases are solved in this first book, and the reader gains several bits of knowledge about Precious' life. Precious is such an endearing and honest character, that I couldn't help but fall in love with her and root for her along the way. Read this book if you enjoy detective stories, if you like stories with great main characters, or if you have seen the HBO series and want to read the fun, easy, and fast inspiration. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Go Ask Alice is a supposed real life diary of a fifteen year old girl and her descent into the world of drugs. Speaking to her "one true friend" (her diary) the teenager confesses that she enters into the world of drugs accidentally when slipped some acid at a party. From that point forward, the girl is hooked on various types of drugs that she gets from new friends. The journey follows her from her home to San Francisco and back. The words sometimes seem to come straight from the mouth of a teenager, while other times I started to wonder what teenager ever spoke with such eloquence. After reading some of the controversy online, I truly believe that this was never a real life diary. Find out for yourself, but beware the outdated feel of the book as it's from the 1960s. Read this book if you like diaries, if you enjoy reading teen fiction about drug use, or if you want to see for yourself if you think it's authentic. I give it a 6 out of 10.
Friday, September 4, 2009
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is a thriller surrounding Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who has recently dealt with a major blow to his career. He is asked to write the family history of a wealthy Swedish business family. However, the head of the family asks Mikael to secretly uncover the mystery of the disappearance of his favorite niece some forty years prior. With the help of Lisbeth Salandar (the girl whom the book is titled for), Mikael uncovers a strange world of family corruption and secrecy. The best parts of this thriller are those that surround the family and the parts involving Lisbeth. The frame story of Mikael dealing with legal trouble in the business world, quite frankly, is unnecessary and dull. Read this book if you like thrillers, if you're interested in the business world, or if you want a quick and dirty read. I give it a 6.5 out of 10.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris is a humorous collection of essays that pertain to death or dying. David recalls tales from his life and the people who have been a part of his life. The stories seem disconnected at first, but Sedaris seems to hold his stories together by a string of humor. My favorite story was the one about his cranky old lady neighbor. I also particularly enjoyed his recollection of his struggle to stop smoking. Read this book if you enjoy David Sedaris, you like humorous essays, or if you want to read quick and easy sections of a book. I give it a 7 out of 10.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini is the third book in the Inheritance Cycle. It follows Eragon's and Saphira's journey after their success during Battle of The Burning Plains. Eragon is faced with several choices as he struggles to fulfill the several duties and oaths he has taken on in the last two books. First, he must help his cousin, Roran, save Katrina from the Ra'zac. Then, he must follow Nasuada's demands for what she feels is right for the Varden. Eragon must decide who he is faithful to and what he must do in order to help bring down the evil king Galbatorix. The book was very well written and leaves the reader wanting to find out how the cycle ends in the fourth book (yet to be titled or released). Read this book if you like fantasy, if you read the first two books, or if you're interested in young adult fiction. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Hours by Michael Cunningham follows the lives of three women during three different time periods. In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf begins thinking about writing her later famous novel Mrs. Dalloway. In 1949 Los Angeles, Laura Brown reads the novel while trying to come to terms with her suburban life that she can't seem to settle into. In present day New York, Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party for a dear friend. The book starts a little slow, but picks up when you want to discover how these three women are connected. Laura Brown's story, for me, was the most intriguing, but the end of the book really tied up loose ends that might have left me wondering. Read this book if you like books about women, if you like interconnected narratives, or if you're interested in books that are turning into films. I give it an 9 out of 10.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Twelve by Nick McDonell is a strange trip into the world of teenage drugs and sex in New York. The book is a series of narratives that follow characters that eventually end up connecting in an interesting way. The book reads quick and mostly follows White Mike, a clean drug dealing teen who experiences a lot in the few days that the book takes place. Read this book if you like quick reads, if you're interested in rough teen stories, or if you want a shock. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire is a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It takes place in 16th century Tuscany and follows a loose historical reference to a family named Borgia. Bianca serves as Snow White, a beautiful girl who is left along on her father's estate when he is asked to go on an impossible mission for the Borgia family. The Borgia sister soon becomes jealous of Bianca and asks a hunter to kill her. The basic story of Snow White is here, but the history and the strange magical dwarves tend to bog the story down. Definitely not as good as Wicked. Read this book if you like retold fairy tales, if you're interested in historical fiction, or if you like strange stories. I give it a 7 out of 10.
The Soloist by Steve Lopez is his memoir of his times with Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man who has an amazing musical talent. Lopez is a columnist for the LA Times when he meets Ayers playing a broken violin on the streets of LA. Ayers pushes a full shopping cart around LA and practices his violin when he can. After some research, Lopez discovers that Ayers was a student at Juliard before being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Lopez begins a friendship with Ayers which is challenging and difficult most of the time, but very rewarding as well. Read this book if you like memoirs, if you like stories of friendship, or if you're interested in the film. I give it an 8 out of 10.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is about Janie Crawford, an African-American woman living in 1930s Florida. Janie tells the story of her life to her friend Phoeby, a story that involves three husbands. Only Janie's third husband, Tea Cake, shows her the true meaning of love and loss. Janie tells Phoeby in the end that one must ultimately know herself in order to know the world. The book includes heavy dialect that may be difficult for some to understand at first, but it's truly an intriguing story. Read this book if you enjoy Harlem Renaissance literature, if you want to read a story about a strong woman, or if you are interested in reading an American Literature classic. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler is a story about young love told from two alternating perspectives: Cal and Eliot. Cal is fifteen and travels with her mom, a wench at Renaissance Fairs, from job-to-job. Eliot is fifteen and lives with his parents on a Christian fat camp for kids. When the two meet, they find that their love for each other can help them deal with their odd parents and strange circumstances. However, those very same things they need to deal with might keep the two of them apart. Read this book if you like teen romance, if you want a quick read, or if you like stories told from more than one perspective. I give it a 7 out of 10.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is her memoir about the year following her husband's death. Joan and John were married several years when John died instantly of heart failure. At the same time, their grown daughter, Quintana, lies in a hospital bed with a serious illness. Joan describes this strange time when she must come to terms with her husband's absence. She reflects greatly on their marriage, their daughter, and the mysteries of grief. Read this book if you've lost a loved one, if you like books that follow the stream of consciousness, or if you want something depressing. I give it a 6 out of 10.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is a series of interweaving stories about a mysterious Jewish text, The Sarajevo Haggadah. Hanna is an Australian book restorer and is asked to travel to Sarajevo in order to restore the text that has been missing for several years. As her own story is told, stories about The Sarajevo Haggadah are shared. As Hanna tries to discover where the book has traveled and with whom, the reader actually learns about the people's lives who have taken care of the book since it's creation. While the actual Sarajevo Haggadah is a real book, People of the Book is a fictional story. The intertwining stories, however, make the history of what might have happened to the book interesting and inspiring. Read this book if you're interested in religious history, if you like stories that begin with a mystery, or if you enjoy stories told from multiple perspectives. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger is told through the words of Andrea, a new assistant to Miranda Priestly, the editor of Runway magazine. Andrea was never interested in fashion; in fact, she wants to write for The New Yorker, but she knows that working for Miranda for a year will get her any job she wants. Miranda is demanding, bossy, and arrogant. She asks Andrea to complete tasks that are next to impossible quicker than can be done. But, Andrea does everything asked of her. When her personal relationships begin to suffer because of all the time and energy spent at work, Andrea must decide if the perks of this job are worth the work. Definitely a fun and quick read with a lot of juicy gossip. Read this book if you like chick lit, if you want a quick, fun read, or if you watched the film. I give it an 8 out of 10.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is a story told by Michael Berg about an affair he had at fifteen with a woman twice his age in postwar Germany. His affair with Hanna is strong, passionate, and interesting. Michael also reads aloud to Hanna as he continues his studies in school. One day, Hanna mysteriously disappears. Michael does not see her again until years later when he is studying law and has a chance to follow a trial for Nazi war criminals. Hanna is on trial for something horrendous, and Michael must reconcile his image of his once lover and the woman in front of him now who refuses to defend herself. The book is utterly dripping with interesting insight into guilt, love, and the Holocaust. Read this book if you're interested in Holocaust history, if you enjoy impossible love stories, or if you've heard of the movie, but want to read the book. I give it an 8.5 out of 10.
Friday, January 2, 2009
A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire is the third volume in the Wicked Years series. The book takes a slightly different approach by following the life of the famous Cowardly Lion, Brrr. Now a Sir Brrr, he has been sent on assignment from the Emerald City to interview the mysterious Yackle, the old oracle that seems to have been around for much of the late Elphaba's life. As Yackle shares her story, Brrr recalls his own - a life that can only be classified as "always in the wrong place at the wrong time." The most interesting parts of this book are the sections that cross over into Elphaba or Liir's story, because we were left wondering from the first two books. This story ends in a very disappointing way, and one can only hope that a fourth volume will pick up the pieces where this left off. Otherwise, the book seems pointless all together despite the themes of fate, chance, and family. The rating could go up depending on if a fourth book is written. Read this book if you want to keep up with the Wicked series, if you like retold fairy tales, or if you're interested in the world of Oz. I give it a 6 out of 10.