Sunday, December 31, 2006

Book Review: The Man Who Loved Jane Austen

I must preface this review with a disclaimer because this book was given to me as a gift for Christmas. I very much appreciated the gift as it was a book with a jacket synopsis that probably would have made me want to buy the book myself. Little did I know from that summary that the book itself was so utterly ridiculous.

The premise of this book was admitedly intriguing. Was there really a Fitzwilliam Darcy? Did Jane Austen base that famous romantic hero on a real person in her life? In The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, that is the precise question at issue. Eliza, a modern-day heroine, is a New York artist who purchases an antique vanity only to take it home and discover two letters hidden inside, presumably written from a Fitzwilliam Darcy to a Jane Austen in 1810 Hampshire. That plotline itself interested me because it was similar to Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series which I enjoy. But Willig (thankfully!) omits something from her book that O'Roarke just can't resist. And that thing is a plot device which rhymes with "grime gravel," something that incidentally, I hate with a passion that will never die. Why, you ask? BECAUSE IT NEVER WORKS! I am once again proven right in this book because if plots were analogous to bowls, then the plot in this book would be this:

In addition to the lame plot line that was industriously hidden in the jacket description, O'Roarke's writing is amaturish and unpolished. There was a lot of potential in her hero that I felt went undeveloped. And the Jane Austen storyline itself was so dull and boring that I skipped over what I think was supposed to the be the most climactic part. Everyone loves Jane Austen, and that's understandable, but this recent outgrowth of books based upon either Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice or (apparently) Austen herself is a little too much for me. Austen is loved to this day because she was a great writer and these "tributes" are, in my opinion, sullying her good name. O'Roarke writes in her dedication that she thinks Austen would have been agreeable to the insipid story O'Roarke has created about her life, but I couldn't help but think that Austen would have been horrified and embarrassed by the way her name was used.

Lindsey's Grade: C- (maybe even my first D+ on this site)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Book Review: The Gilded Web

This book itself was so-so, which is pretty remarkable for Mary Balogh, who in my opinion is the best Regency romance writer. But it's a reprint, originally written almost 20 years ago, I think, so it's understandable.

The hero and heroine are Edmund and Alexandra, who through no fault of their own find themselves in a compromising situation. And being the consumate gentleman, Edmund proposes to Alexandra, and she eventually accepts even though she doesn't particularly want to marry him. The rest of the book focuses on them getting to know each other, and particularly how Alexandra comes into herself as a person.

I wasn't too fond of Alexandra as the book progressed. I thought she was naive and self-absorbed, but I think Balogh intended for her to be that way, because her epitome is really what ends up as the climax of the story. It feels natural and genuine, and tugged at my heartstrings a bit. Edmund is, basically, absolutely perfect and flawless as a romantic hero. He's impossible not to like.

But what really got me interested were the subplots from this book that lead into the other two books in the series. Edmund has younger twin siblings, Dominic and Madeline, who will be the characters in the second and third books, respectively. In The Gilded Web they are only twenty-two, and a little flighty and immature (both of them). I can tell that Balogh is going to do some great character development with them because at the end of The Gilded Web Dominic is going off to fight in the Napoleonic wars (which should make him grow up fast). But enough about Dominic, the real intrigue is in Madeline's story. She and Alexandra's brother James do not get off on the right feet, mostly because of James's inner demons that he for some reason projects onto Madeline. At the end of The Gilded Web James leaves for destinations unknown after some great scenes between them. I am so hooked! I can't wait to read their story, but it won't be republished until January 2008!!! Maybe I will have to do some snooping around to see if I can locate an old issue somewhere.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Book Review: The Prince Kidnaps A Bride

As I've mentioned before, I don't particularly like Christina Dodd's books. And it always kind of confounded me that so many people loved her and her books. Well, now I think I can safely said that the few books of hers that I read must not have been her best, because I liked The Prince Kidnaps A Bride. It was nothing ground-breaking, but it had everything a romance novel should have, and it was fun to read.

This book is actually the third in a series about three sisters who are princesses of a small (fictional) European country. They were forced to flee the continent as children after their father the king was killed fighting back revolutionaries who eventually took over. Years later their grandmother reestablished the monarchy and sent Prince Rangier (from a neighboring country), who just so happens to be the betrothed of the Crown Princess Sorcha, to find them. I guess he succeeds in the previous two books, only one of which I have read, and in this one he goes after his finance.

Really this was a rather unremarkable book, but my expectations were so low after Trouble In High Heels (which was inexplicably named as one of the year's best) that it seemed like a triumph.

Lindsey's Grade: B-

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Book Review: Pleasure For Pleasure

I used to count Eloisa James as one of my favorite authors, probably because I really enjoyed the first couple of her books that I read. And also because I read the blog she keeps with other romance writers and I think that she just sounds like a very interesting, fun person. But I wasn't crazy about her last book, but since it was third in a serious of four, the first two of which I really liked, I still picked up Pleasure for Pleasure when it came out. But about 100 pages in I almost quit reading it.

I think I've mentioned before that I don't like large age gaps between the hero and heroine in a book. And even though this is a historical romance set in the Regency Era in England, something about a man being 16 years older than the woman doesn't sit well with me. The characters in this book were not new to me either, because both of were frequent players in the other books in the series, the hero especially. He is a notorious rake that has seduced countless women. The hero is an eighteen year old girl in her first season in London. She is also the youngest of four sisters, and other three books in the serious were about her older sisters. It just so happens that the hero, the Earl of Mayne, was previously engaged to the oldest sister, a potential prospect for the second, and a potential lover for the third.

Now, maybe I'm strange, and I know I live in modern times. But there is no way in hell I would have anything to do with a guy that was previously involved with my sister. In fact, a guy that she "went out with" in high school for less than 48 hours was once interested in me in college, but those 48 hours years ago were enough to make me want to have nothing to do with him romantically. So it kind of blew my mind that Josie, the heroine, would be interested in Maybe. It was also kind of gross that they knew each other when she was fifteen. Fifteen!

Also, I never really liked Mayne. But apparently everyone else loves him (I also read Eloisa James's website.) I even skipped most of the parts with him in the other books because it was a second storyline. Maybe that's why I don't like him as much as everyone else. Hmm... I should also note that it was not clear from the back of the book or for a while in the beginning of the book itself who Josie would end up with. When I figured out that Mayne was indeed the hero, I set the book down out of protest and almost wasn't going to finish it. But of course, I picked it up again.

And darn if Eloisa didn't make it work! She is a great writer, although kind of perplexing for me. In real life she's a professor of Shakepearean literature, and so her books always have a very intellectual and academic feel to them. And sometimes its too much for me and I don't like it. But she's a crafty one, that Eloisa, because even when I don't like the main characters in one of her books, she will have a second storyline going on that I love (like in Taming of the Duke or Fool For Love). When I'm really lucky, I will love both (like in Duchess In Love). I loved the secondary storyline in this one a whole bunch.

So even though I still didn't like the age difference between the characters, Eloisa wrote about them in a way that was fun and interesting to read. I ended up liking both characters much better at the end of the book, more than I expected to. It was a fun read. I enjoyed it. A nice end to a good series.

Lindsey's Grade: A

Book Review: Wish List

I really enjoy reading anthologies because they go by so fast! This book had four little novellas in it. Lisa Kleypas's name is the biggest on the cover because she's the best known author, and her novella is the best. After that I would say I liked Lynsey Sands next, then Lisa Cach, then Claudia Dain. Dain's writing is strange, and the plot was a little odd, too. I really didn't like it at all, to tell the truth.

But the book as a whole is fun. And it's all about Christmas! Who doesn't love Christmas?

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Book Review: Tell Me Lies

I've read a whole bunch of Jennifer Crusie books (and it took me a few years to figure out that her last name was not Cruise, like Tom) and some I like, some I don't. She's one of those authors who is a technically good writer (sentence structure, style, plotting), but I don't always like the way she puts a story together. And in this books, I went back and forth on whether or not I liked it.

This book was set in a small town, and it begins with a woman finding a pair of crotchless panties in her husbands car when she volunteers to clean it out for him. Needless to say, she's pissed. But she doesn't seem to like her husband that much, because apparently he cheated on her five years earlier and he convinced her not to leave him. Normally I would feel sorry for her, but she just stomped around annoyingly and then had sex with another guy herself. Hmm... that's classy.

I was going to stop at that point in the book because I was pissed. But it turns out her husband really was a piece of crap. Crusie also had a little mystery going throughout the book, and she actually did a great job with that. I didn't figure it out until almost before it was revealed to the reader, and it wasn't cheesy (relative to the cheese factor in the rest of the book.) And she wrote it just right so that I kept reading because wanted to know what happened. So good job, Jenny!

I also warmed to the characters as the book went on and grew more sympathetic for the heroine. I guess I could recommend the book.

Lindsey's Grade: B-

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Book Review: Drop Dead Gorgeous

Hooray! The day has finally arrived! I picked up my copy of Drop Dead Gorgeous as soon as class got out yesterday and didn't put it down until I had finished it (so what if I have finals next week?)

I had to admit that this book was not as fabulous as its predecessor, To Die For, and it probably wasn't that great overall, but I don't really care because half of what made To Die For so fun to read were the characters, and those characters are back in Drop Dead Gorgeous. This time Blair and Wyatt (mostly Blair) are planning their upcoming wedding but unfortunate someone is (again) trying to kill Blair! I know, I know, the plot is pretty incredibly unbelievable, but like I said earlier, I just don't care. Blair is funny in her own ridiculous way, and there is something endearing about Wyatt because he loves her despite of her wackiness.

I wouldn't recommend reading this book without reading To Die For first, because there are a number of subtle references back to what happened earlier such as when Blair made Krispy Kreme doughnut bread pudding, when Blair writes numerous lists about Wyatt's transgressions, when Blair told Wyatt he needed a houseplant and he bought a shrub, and when Blair told Wyatt that saying she was "to die for" was too feminine and he should say something manly like "I'd take a bullet for you." Of course, I've read To Die For at leave five times, so I picked up on all those things.

Lindsey's Grade: A-

Monday, November 27, 2006

Book Review: Under the Mistletoe

I love romance anthologies, mostly because the stories are short and simple and sometimes you don't need 300+ pages to tell them. And I love, love, love Mary Balogh, so this book was the best of both worlds!

There are five short stories in this book, all dealing with a Christmas theme. And not all of them are stellar works of literary fiction, but as a whole the book is very enjoyable. The first two stories and the last were my favorites, mostly because I'm a sucker for romances where the hero and the heroine are estranged spouses. I don't know why, I just like those books the best. The third story was in my opinion the worst, but even still it was enjoyable to read, because of the relationship between the hero and his daughter if not because of the romance. And the fourth story was okay, too, just not very romantic, I didn't think.

So if you like romances and you're in the Christmas spirit, I highly recommend this little book!

Lindsey's Grade: A

Book Review: The Deception of the Emerald Ring

Let me start off by saying that I have no idea why this book was titled the way it was. There was only really one mention of an emerald ring, and I guess in a very convoluted way it could be attributed to a deception, but I personally think it's very weak. Willig's other two books, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque of the Black Tulip were much more accurately and descriptively titled.

But that's okay, because I still liked the book! I'm going to be honest there though and admit that I enjoy Willig's plots much more than I do her actual writing style. Her books are a series set in the early nineteenth century, after the French Revolution. Basically she takes a chapter out of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel because her books are about a band of English spies during that time period that picked up where the Scarlet Pimpernel left off. Each book features the historical story, as well as intermittent chapters about a modern heroine, Eloise, who is an American Ph.D. history candidate doing research on that very topic in London. I really enjoy the chapters on Eloise, who has a crush on an Englishman who is a descendant of the one spy who's identity is well-known. Willig is quite cruel in the way that she slowly, slowly strings that story along throughout the books. I want to know more and I want to know it now!

I meant what I said earlier about Willig's writing, though. There is something about it that I just don't like, but I don't think I could pin down what it is. Sometimes I feel that her dialogue is too modern for something that supposedly took place two-hundred years ago. And other times I wish there were more dialogue because her descriptive paragraphs seem to go on and on. But probably my biggest gripe is that I often miss key points because they're buried within other boring and unimportant stuff or because her descriptions of what's happening is just plain confusing. (Let me add that I realize she has more writing talent that I could ever hope to have.)

Yet I still really like the books, probably because they're set during really interesting times and the characters are fun and enjoyable. The Deception of the Emerald Ring was no different. I should add though that I wouldn't recommend reading this book unless you've read her other two. Even I got confused about who did what and was who in the previous books because it had been a while since I'd read them.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Book Review: Because You're Mine

There were a number of things I didn't really like about this book, the least of which was the way the title always made me sing to myself, "I walk the line." Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite romance authors, but this was an older book of hers, and it fell victim to the classic I-hardly-know-you-yet-I-love-you plot.

This book is somewhat of a sequel to Somewhere I'll Find You in that the hero was a fairly prominent character in that book. I didn't realize it until after I bought the book to be honest, and maybe that would have changed my mind about my purchase considering that I wasn't too crazy about that book. The hero is a famous London actor (in the 1830's) and the heroine is the daughter of an aristocrat who is facing an arranged marriage with an old, gross man. So she decides that the only way to avoid the marriage (a fate worse than social ruin, apparently) is to seek out the hero and give him her virtue so that no respectable man would want her. Unfortunately for her, he turns her down. But she is determined! And she takes a job in his theatre company so that she can be close to him.

Of course, she's hiding her true identity from him the entire time. And of course, he is desperately in lust with her. And of course, he's super-duper pissed that she lied to him about who she was. The last part I found completely implausible. Why did it matter that she was the daughter of an aristrocrat? She was honest about wanting to get him into bed! Why should he care about her motives? After all, she picked him because she thought he was attractive! So to me that whole bit just seemed contrived, a convenient way to drive something between the hero and heroine.

Other stuff happens, too, but I can't seem to remember what it was. So I guess it wasn't that memorable.

Lindsey's Grade: C+

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Book News: Gay penguin book shakes up Ill. school

By JIM SUHR, Associated Press Writer Fri Nov 17, 6:47 AM ET

SHILOH, Ill. - A picture book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin is getting a chilly reception among some parents who worry about the book's availability to children — and the reluctance of school administrators to restrict access to it.

The concerns are the latest involving "And Tango Makes Three," the illustrated children's book based on a true story of two male penguins in New York City's Central Park Zoo that adopted a fertilized egg and raised the chick as their own.

Complaining about the book's homosexual undertones, some parents of Shiloh Elementary School students believe the book — available to be checked out of the school's library in this 11,000-resident town 20 miles east of St. Louis — tackles topics their children aren't ready to handle.

Their request: Move the book to the library's regular shelves and restrict it to a section for mature issues, perhaps even requiring parental permission before a child can check it out.

For now, "And Tango Makes Three" will stay put, said school district Superintendent Jennifer Filyaw, though a panel she appointed suggested the book be moved and require parental permission to be checked out. The district's attorney said moving it might be construed as censorship.

Filyaw considers the book "adorable" and age appropriate, written for children ages 4 to 8.

"My feeling is that a library is to serve an entire population," she said. "It means you represent different families in a society — different religions, different beliefs."

Lilly Del Pinto thought the book looked charming when her 5-year-old daughter brought it home in September. Del Pinto said she was halfway through reading it to her daughter "when the zookeeper said the two penguins must be in love."

"That's when I ended the story," she said.

Del Pinto said her daughter's teacher told her she was unfamiliar with the book, and the school's librarian directed the mother to Filyaw.

"I wasn't armed with pitchforks or anything. I innocently was seeking answers," Del Pinto said, agreeing with Filyaw's belief that pulling the book from the shelves could constitute censorship.

The book has created similar flaps elsewhere. Earlier this year, two parents voiced concerns about the book with librarians at the Rolling Hills' Consolidated Library's branch in the northwest Missouri town of Savannah.

Barbara Read, Rolling Hills' director, has said she consulted with staff members at the Omaha, Neb., and Kansas City zoos and the University of Oklahoma's zoology department, who told her adoptions aren't unusual in the world of penguins.

She said the book was then moved to the nonfiction section because it was based on actual events. In that section, she said, there was less of a chance that the book would "blindside" someone.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Every Boy's Got One

Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot

I enjoyed it but found it predictable and not as funny as Cabot's Queen of Babble. I would like to see Cabot's main ladies to have careers that expand beyond the creative arts and her main men to have names that differ from those used in Dan Brown's books.

I would recommend this for light reading, possibly reading while traveling, or as a gift to sick friends in need of some humor.

Kim's Grade: B

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

I finally finished this! Yeah! Atwood retells the story of Penelope, Odysseus's wife and does so in a light fresh fashion. It was nice to revisit Greek mythology and I learned a lot of little things like the relationship between Penelope and Helen of Troy, and the possible meaning behind the twelve hanged maids. Atwood chose to have Penelope tell her story from Hades which I found different and refreshing. Penelope definitely deserves more attention than she has received the last couple of centuries!!This is the second book I've read in a series that re-writes Greek mythology and includes new twists on the old stories. The first was Jeanette Winterson's Atlas which I would strongly recommend.

Its a short, sweet little number of a book!


Monday, November 13, 2006

Book Review: One Mississippi

I remember seeing this book when it was first published and thinking it might look kinda good. But I almost never buy a hardback book of an author I don't know about, so I passed on it. But I picked it up a few weeks ago when I saw it in the Browsing section of the library.

This story is told through the eyes of Daniel Musgrove, a teenage boy who moves from Indiana to Mississippi when his father is transfered. It isn't easy for him to fit in at school, and to make matters worse his first day of school is the first day of desegregation, so the culture shock is even worse. But luckily for him Daniel makes friends with another boy at school who is a bit of a social outcast, Tim.

The plot of this books is too complex to describe in detail, so I won't go into it here. Childress does a great job of writing about the eccentries of Southern living and he infuses the story with humor. There are dark spots in this book, however, and most of it centers around Tim. It is fairly obvious early on that Tim is a troubled kid, but Daniel (who is a great kid), doesn't see anything other than his best friend. And because of that he is himself drawn into some situations that he probably wouldn't have gotten himself into otherwise.

This book was a quick but enjoyable read that uses humor to touch on a lot of serious subject, yet still takes them seriously enough that as a reader you are moved by the events and genuinely care about the characters.

Lindsey's Grade: A-

Book Review: She Went All The Way

As you can probably tell by the sheer volume of Meg Cabot books I've reviewed lately, I'm a big fan of hers. There are about three of her books that are written in a very unique style, and She Went All The Way doesn't follow that, so it was kind of new for me. This book is just written like your typical comporary romance novel.

I like Meg Cabot and her writing too much not to enjoy one of her books, and I do think that she does an above average job writting in the genre of comtemporary romance. But this book was set in the Hollywood film industry (although not physically) and I really don't find there to be anything attractive about a hero that is a big Hollywood actor. And considering all of the actor-bashing that Cabot did in this book, it makes me wonder why she chose to make her hero an actor. But oh well.

It was a cute little book, but not nearly as good as The Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy's Got One.

Lindsey's Grade: B-

Monday, November 06, 2006

Book Review: Give Him The Slip

This book was another grocery store buy, but I was totally impressed! I had never read a book by Geralyn Dawson so I didn't know what to expect. I wouldn't call this book "romantic suspense" because it was pretty lighthearted, but there was a mystery to the story. I thought Dawson did a really good job with the mystery because it didn't come across as cheesy despite the relatively fun feel of the book. And while there were some wacky elements to the story, it wasn't unbelievable or stupid.

I also liked the hero and heroine a lot. They were imperfect but very likeable. Don't get me wrong - this book won't be winning any Pulitzers, but it's a fun read for a lazy weekend.

Lindsey's Grade: B

Book Review: Size 12 Is Not Fat

The Meg Cabot love affair is fading slightly, because this book didn't quite live up to the other books I've read and reviewed. This book was her first stab at writing mystery, so maybe that's why there was a different feel to it. But don't get me wrong, this was still a good book and it was pretty funny at places, just not as laugh-out-loud funny as the rest.

But the mystery component was actually pretty well-written for a book that is probably categorized as chick lit. It was silly, but not dumb.

Lindsey's Grade: B

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New Comic Anthologies!

The Best American Comics 2006

"The Best American series finally acknowledges the genre. Harvey Pekar's picks are both famous (Robert Crumb) and less so (Lilli Carre)."

Looks the best out of these three and looks like a good beginning point for reading more comics!
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories

"A comics survey for snobs and newbies, from a '20s-era Gasoline Alley strip to Daniel Clowes' wry Gynecology."

Looks like comics that come from The New Yorker that I don't always understand.
Mome 5

"In this quarterly paperback, the mundane is just a pencil's width away from the outrageous, as in Tim Hensley's Wally Gropius Teen Millionaire, a Richie Rich with STD jokes."

It looks like a crude Charlie Brown!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Who's Excited?

Less than one month to go, people! LESS THAN ONE MONTH TO GO!

Book Review: The Alchemist's Daughter

It's been a while since I picked up a book without knowing anything about the author or reviews, but only because I liked the synopsis on the back cover. So earlier this week I picked up Katharine McMahon's The Alchemist's Daughter because I thought it sounded interesting. Basically the back of the book told about a young woman who is raised in near isolation by her father at his country estate in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Her father is a natural philosopher, some say an alchemist, and he teaches his daughter all that he knows. But then when she is about nineteen she falls in love for the first time and is banished to London, as the book says. And because of her upbringing, she knows almost nothing about human nature, etc.

I liked the book, but not as much as I thought I would from the description. Historical novels are pretty popular, what with Tracy Chevalier and Sarah Dunant out there, but I'm getting a little tired of these "coming of age" books about young women back in historical times. Mostly because they're usually depressing stories (although I think McMahon here and Dunant in The Birth of Venus include some redeeming happiness at the end) and I don't like to read about sad things. Another thing I learned - I read a lot of romance novels so I've read my fair share of sex scenes, but I do not like reading sex scenes when there is no affection and love between the people. I don't care if it's realistic. I don't want to know about it.

I do think that McMahon did a good job of laying out the theme of this book. Emilie, the main character, did have to come to terms with the harsh consequences of choices that she made because of her inexperience, and I felt sorry for choices that she made in her innocence. I think the best quote of the book come from when she explains to a fellow scientist that her father taught her to believe in what she can see, touch, smell, etc. The scientific way, essentially. But that method does not translate over to people because sometimes they are not what they seem, and she had to learn that the hard way. And in that one statement, the theme of the book can pretty much be summed up.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Review of the Week: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This book review looked interesting enough to post here! breaks up the chick lit reviews that have amassed lately.... (I'm just jealous because I haven't read them yet!)

To Be Alive in a World That is Dead
A review by Yvonne Zipp

Zombies aren't usually found in the oeuvre of your average National
Book Award winner (well, I mean besides Joyce Carol Oates). But
then, some critics have argued that a few of Cormac McCarthy's
novels, such as Blood Meridian, should properly be read as horror.
With his newest novel, The Road, I doubt they'll find many detractors.

McCarthy takes such B-movie plot devices as an apocalyptic future,
cannibalism, and scenes that could have been cut straight from
Night of the Living Dead or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to craft
an existential moral debate about what it means to be alive in
a dead world.

Last year, in a rare interview with Vanity Fair magazine, McCarthy
commented that he regards as "not serious" writers who don't focus
on death. "Death is the major issue in the world. For you, for
me, for all of us. It just is." While some of us may find this
a rather limited worldview, you've got to give the guy credit:
He really sticks to his guns.

The Road, like many of McCarthy's novels, features homeless males
on the move. Only instead of horses, the unnamed father and son
have an old grocery cart with one wobbly wheel, loaded with canned
goods and dirty blankets. And their journey makes All the Pretty
Horses look like a trip to Club Med.

The two are among the few who have survived the end of civilization,
which McCarthy describes as "a long shear of light and then a
series of low concussions."

They now inhabit a cauterized horrorscape, where ash falls from
the sky and the sun is no longer visible. As the novel opens,
the man and the boy, -- who seems to be somewhere between ages
8 and 11 -- are heading south to the sea, trying to avoid the
roving bands of cannibals (fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly will
recognize them as close cousins of the Reavers) who hunt the looted

The survivors are not necessarily the lucky ones. The boy's mother
committed suicide, rather than continuing to live in fear. "We're
not survivors. We're the walking dead in a horror movie," she
exclaims when the man tries to talk her out of killing herself.
"We used to talk about death, she said. We don't anymore. Why
is that?"

When the man says he doesn't know, she responds, "It's because
it's here. There's nothing left to talk about."

As for the man, as long as the boy is alive, he has a reason to
keep fighting. "He knew only that the child was his warrant. He
said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke."

The love between the father and the son is one of the most profound
relationships McCarthy has ever written, and the strength of it
helps raise the novel -- despite considerable gore -- above nihilistic

The book's other redeeming feature is the moral debate that McCarthy
carries on throughout the novel about whether there is room for
goodness in extremis. The sides are represented by the boy, who
wants to help other survivors, and his father, who will do anything
he has to to keep his son alive.

The boy has a few other questions along with his plaintive refrain
of "Are we still the good guys?" These include: "Are we going
to die? Would we be better off dead?"

And, poignantly, "What would you do if I died?
If you died, I would want to die too.
So you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.

The intricately knotted sentences from earlier works such as Suttree
have almost vanished. Instead, McCarthy employs a stripped-down
(for him) allegorical style loaded with biblical language. (Fans
of McCarthy's use of language shouldn't worry: There's still room
for words like "claggy" or "discalced.")

As their pilgrimage continues, the man and boy occasionally discover
small bits of grace -- morel mushrooms, an unopened can of Coca-Cola
that has kept its fizz and tastes remarkably good. But it's their
love that keeps this father and son, and the reader, going past
the despair. Fans of McCarthy's brutal world view may not approve,
but other readers will welcome the unexpectedly hopeful ending.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Book Review: Boy Meets Girl

I have a slight problem. I seem to be addicted to Meg Cabot books. I can't stop buying them, and once the purchase has been made, I HAVE TO READ THE ENTIRE BOOK IN ONE SITTING! There is no medication I can take for this affliction that I know of. I fear it will soon start interfering with social and scholastic responsibilites, because the woman has a lot of books published, and I am not above moving on to The Princess Diaries.

Seriously. It's that bad.

Once again, I laughed my head off while reading one of Cabot's books. I know that I would love this woman if I were to meet her in real life. Her blog is hilarious. Her books are hilarious, and they are about normal people who talk about the same things I talk about with my friends. I mean, who wouldn't bust up laughing when a supermodel expounds upon her love of exotic cuisine, such as onion rings at TGI Fridays? I died. It might not sound that funny here, but read in context it's hilarious.

How can I be expected to want to read my Business Associations textbook when there are books by this woman out there that I have not read yet? How can this happen? I don't know. I honestly don't know.

Lindsey's Grade: A

Monday, October 23, 2006

Book Review: The Boy Next Door

Since Kim left me for good yesterday, I decided to forgo reading my Business Associations assignment in order to spend some time with my new best friend, Meg.

The Boy Next Door was similar to the other two Cabot books I've read before, but it was also different. It wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny, and it was really quite sweet. I still enjoyed it, but it didn't fill the hole left by Kim. *Sigh*

Lindsey's Grace: A-

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Book Review: The Evil B.B. Chow

The Evil B.B. Chow by Steve Almond

I've been busy lately and have not had much time to read, even short stories for that matter! I enjoyed this collection in a somewhat sick way considering they were not happy stories at times. Some were funny, some were just strange, but as I frequently remember writer Alex Kuo stating "If its fiction, you better believe it." Fiction, even strange haunting themes are inspired from some place and it may just be based on actual stories.

"Once again he has produced a funny, bracing, sometimes shocking, always imaginative collection of stories and characters: a young magazine editor enduring a bizarre blind date; a couple who are sure that they have been given implants by space aliens; a young boy desperate to please his father with his baseball prowess, who ends up fatally wounding another boy during a game; a creative-writing teacher struggling to resist his seductive student." (Publisher Comments)

Kim's Grade: B+

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Author News: Gideon Defoe

I was driving back from Boise the other day and was listening to NPR's weekly podcasts on book news and interviews.

I learned about new author Gideon Defoe who claims to have started writing stories about pirates to convince a young lady to leave her boyfriend for him (she didn't).

His books sound great!! And I personally think he's cute too!!

A great article on how Defoe "makes his books" can be read here!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Book Review: Salem Falls

Well, I turned in my 25-page paper this morning. You might be able to tell from my posts that I've read four books since Tuesday. It's safe to say that reading is a stress reliever for me.

I am also happy to report that I finished a Jodi Picoult book without crying once! Hooray! It's not that Salem Falls is not as emotional as My Sister's Keeper or The Pact (okay, it's not), but I got more mad than I ever did sad. The book centers around a former high school teacher who is just released from jail after serving eight months for sexual assault, supposedly against one of his former students. He maintains that he is innocent, but within a few months of moving to Salem Falls, he is once again accused of rape.

This book didn't have the shocking ending that My Sister's Keeper did, and it wasn't as gut-wrenchingly sad as The Pact, and since those are the only Picoult books I've read so far, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It didn't really happen, because I had been suspecting the reveal on the last page for over half of the book.

But still, Picoult is a literary genius. She's fantastic. Probably one of the best writers out there, I'd say. All three of her books that I've read have been pageturners that I just couldn't put down.

Lindsey's Grade: A

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Book Review: Every Boy's Got One

Attention Jen, Carah, Kim, and anyone else who at one time was my best friend:

I have a new best friend, and her name is Meg Cabot.

This woman is fantastic! I've read another one of her books, Queen of Babble, and Cabot's voice shines through in both. She's funny and upbeat and just plain great!

This book was written in a unique style because the story is told through diary entries, e-mails, receipts, forms, etc. But I loved it! Loved it, loved it, loved it! I laughed out loud at least five times.

Lindsey's Grade: A+

Book Review: Run For Your Life

I wasn't crazy about this book. That's all I care to say.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book Review: Suddenly You

When one has a twenty-five page legal brief due in five days, there is really no better way to spend an evening than with a Lisa Kleypas book, right? Who cares about First Amendment rights of high school teachers, anyway?

Anyway, I retreated into fantasy land last night with Suddenly You and boy, was I glad to be there. If you read this blog regularly, you might have noticed that I've been more than a little dissolutioned with romance novels as of late. I don't know why, I just haven't loved a book in a while.

But I loved this book! It was like my own personal fantasy! The plot takes place in the 1830's, and Amanda is a thirty year-old spinster who independently supports herself by writing novels. The hero is instantly taken with her slightly "plump" figure and sharp mind. He even tells her that her mind is what is most attractive to him. *Sigh!* And of course he's a rich hottie, because, of course, what would be he point if he weren't, right? And their relationship progresses through friendship that is sweet and genuine, mostly because Kleypas did a great job of demonstrating the mutual respect they have for each other.

My only complaints were the formulatic romance novel plot twists towards the end, and also, unfortunately, the same complaint I had with the last book I read, Ladies Man. It's stupid, I know, but I just don't like a heroine that's more than two years older than the hero! It's just a preference, like how I hate it when a heroine is described as "willowy thin," "pixie-like," "delicate" or "short" (I have a strange aversion to abnormally small people). Also, I don't like black-haired heroines. Uh uh. Amanda in this book was short, but at least she had curves and long auburn hair.

Lindsey's Grade: A-

Book Review of the Week

I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
by Nora Ephron

It's Not Easy Being Nora Ephron
A Review by April Austin

Nora Ephron wrote the literate and funny screenplays for When Harry Met Sally and Heartburn. With her understated wit, she has punctured many a bubble of conformity and made audiences laugh in recognition. When her latest book arrived, I was amused by the title: I Feel Bad About My Neck. Here was a new body part to agonize over, one the beauty magazines haven't caught up to yet.

Books about women and aging usually leave me cold, if I bother to pick them up at all. They seem to fall into two categories: cheerful books on celebrating the aging process (give me a break!) and ones that rail against aging with either rage or humor. Ephron's book -- made up of 16 essays, some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and other venues -- fits into the latter group.

While very little in the book is meant to be taken seriously, it is clever enough to qualify as more than just an assemblage of one-liners. Whether you agree with her observations or not, Ephron's perspective as an admittedly high-maintenance, New York-dwelling, successful screenwriter will keep you entertained.

She doesn't stop with necks, but takes on other afflictions (and a few delights) that mark this season of her life: her loathing of purses, the struggle to keep fit, the vagaries of parenting, and her favorite books.

These topics are laced with wry observations, told in an intimate style that makes Ephron seem like a close friend spilling details about her life. (That sound you hear is the ka-ching of cash registers as women buy this book as gifts for friends, sisters, and mothers.)

But let's get back to necks. She paints quite a picture of lunching with her friends -- all wealthy women in their 50s and 60s -- as she looks around the table to realize they're all wearing turtlenecks. Or blouses with mandarin collars.

All in an attempt to hide their scrawny or saggy necks. This body part, Ephron concludes, is hopeless.

Among this group of women, other beauty issues are more readily solved: gray hair can be colored, patchy skin can be covered with makeup, and wrinkled faces given chemical treatments, but short of plastic surgery, necks are "doomed." She's skewering the obsession with appearances while squeezing comic mileage out of the situation.

"Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth," Ephron writes. "You have to cut a redwood tree open to see how old it is, but you wouldn't have to if it had a neck."

Graying hair is another age marker, and hair dye, Ephron concludes, is the most powerful weapon women have against the youth culture. She makes a persuasive case that hair dye has enabled women to feel comfortable about remaining in the workforce far longer than they otherwise might.

Coloring one's hair has also led to acceptance of other beauty processes, such as face-lifts. (Hey, once you take that first step into the salon, they own you.)

Speaking of people who own you, adolescent children are described quite cogently in "Parenting in Three Stages."

Ephron points out that despite devoting yourself to understanding every emotion your child has ever experienced, the kid still has an attitude: "You love them wildly, way more than your parents loved you. And yet they seem to have turned out exactly the way adolescents have always turned out. Only worse. How did this happen?"

Like other parents before her, Ephron adopts a "wait it out" approach. Or, she suggests, you can be more proactive: "When your children are teenagers, it's important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you."

Ephron's mood turns subdued, almost wistful, by the last essay, as she copes with the passing of a close friend. She articulates the sense of indecision that can grip one at her stage of life: "Do you splurge or do you hoard? ... Is life too short, or is it going to be too long? Do you work as hard as you can, or do you slow down to smell the roses?"

And, lest matters become too morbid, she adds another imponderable to the list: "And where do carbohydrates fit into all this? Are we really going to have to spend our last years avoiding bread, especially now that bread in America is so unbelievably delicious?"

Well, exactly.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Book Review: Ladies Man

I'm just going to say one thing about this book. I don't like romance novels with older women and younger men, at least not with a ten year age difference. And really, it's not completely sexist because I don't like it when the men in books are that much older than the women, either. Although I do get decidedly more uncomfortable when the woman is older. I'm a bad feminist, I guess.

I've got to disagree with Aaliyah. Age is more than just a number, it's a level of maturity (usually). And this is going to sound really bad, but old men can be really sexy, and I just don't think it's as easy for old women to be sexy. So who'd want to hook up with someone who's looks are going to outlast yours by like thirty years? Not me!

Maybe it's because I'm young enough that for me idea of a younger man brings to mind hopelessly immature fratboys. But I also have a hard time believing that a man who never dated anyone longer than two months is mature enough to suddenly become a step-father to a fifteen and thirteen year-old.

Then again, we've got Demi and Ashton, so maybe I'm wrong.

Lindsey's Grade: C-

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Book Review: Every Breath You Take

Every Breath You Take is only the second Judith McNaught book I've read, but I seemed to remember that I liked the last one, so I decided to pick this one up at Wal-Mart. Her writing reminds me a lot of Andrea Kane, only because the three Andrea Kane books I read all had really rich, handsome, powerful men as heroes (as did the other McNaught book I read) and this one was no different.

Basically the book involved two people, Mitchell and Kate, who meet on a Caribbean island and have a fling. But then Mitchell gets called back to the States when he gets a phone call telling him that his half-brother, who had been missing, was found dead. There's a whole bunch of other stuff going on, but the general gist is that the two lovers get their wires crossed and they each think that the other abandoned them. Hearts are broken.

The story takes a different turn once they're both back in Chicago, but I won't ruin it for ya'll. I will just say that the murder investigation of the half-brother seemed like it was going to be a big deal at the beginning of the book, but then it just kind of fizzled away as if it got in the way of telling Mitchell and Kate's story. But I was more interested in the love story so I really didn't care.

Overall I'd say it was a pretty satisfying read. There was a sneak peak in the back for her next book that is supposed to be about Kate's best friend. I'll probably read that one when it comes out. I'm calling it right now that the friend better hook up with the prosecutor from this book, Gray, because I liked him.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Friday, September 29, 2006

Book Review: I'm In No Mood For Love

Rachel Gibson is one of those authors I just refuse to give up on. You know, the kind whose first few books you read were really good and so you started reading all her books and buying them as soon as they came out? But then they start writing some not-so-good books but you keep buying them anyway? Hoping for a change? Julie Garwood is that way for me, too. I just have the hardest time accepting that the woman who wrote Ransom, The Wedding, The Gift, and The Secret is really as crappy with contemporaries as Murder List and Slow Burn seem to indicate.

Part of my affection for Rachel comes from the fact that she's from my hometown and often writes stories set there or at least in my state. We neighbors need to stick together. And really, I loved Simply irresistible and See Jane Score, although those are two of her books that DON'T take place in my town. Hmm...

But lately I have been quite dissolutioned with her writing. The heroine in Daisy's Back In Town irritated me. The romance in The Trouble With Valentine's Day just lacked zing and credibility. And don't even get me started on why the hero's attraction to the heroine in Sex, Lies, and On-line Dating was beyond unbelievable. So I have to admit that there was some serious hesitation before I put I'm In No Mood For Love in my Wal-Mart basket. But I'm hopeful.

And she came through! I'm In No Mood For Love is a fairly uncomplicated, simple story about a woman who keeps falling for the wrong kind of man and knows it. She even knows it when she meets the hero and is refreshingly honest with herself. And I could respect her because she wasn't stupid and she stood up for herself. Bravo, Ms. Gibson. That's not as common as you might think in romance novels these days. And I was so glad to see that she didn't throw in some silly mystery plotline like she did in Sex, Lies, and On-line Dating. I know what she was trying to do in that earlier book, but I like this result much better. The hero was very likeable, too. I would have had the hots for him just like the heroine did.

I do have one little bone to pick with Ms. Gibson, though, because it appears she is horribly, horribly directionally challenged. Homedale is west of Boise, honey, west. That means if you're looking at a map, it should be to the lef- well, here, just look.

Does this help? I hope so. Also, one doesn't travel north (or south) on I-84, because technically it runs east and west. As a general rule, all evenly numbered interstates do. I like it when you give us Boise tidbits, but you got to make sure you get them right or you lose credibility.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Book Review: Someone To Watch Over Me

One of the things I like best about Lisa Kleypas is that her books rarely disappoint. Sure, there are some that aren't as good as others, but when she's at her best she's almost untouchable in the Regency/Victorian romance genre, with the outstanding Mary Balogh perhaps being the only competitor.

I would put Someone To Watch Over Me firmly between great and good. The basic premise of the story is that the hero, Grant Morgan, is a Bow Street Runner (kind of like a policeman) who is called in one night when an unconscious woman is dragged out of the Thames. She's got a bump on her head and bruises around her throat, leading Grant to correctly surmise that someone tried to kill her. But he recognizes the woman as Vivian Duvall, one of London's most famous courtesans. Vivian had spread unflattering gossip about Grant in the past, so he decides to take her under his roof not only to keep her safe while they try to lure out her attacker, but also so he can somehow get back at her. I'm still not sure how he planned to do that. I think he was going to love her and leave her.

But, in a stunning romance novel twist (note the irony) Vivian has amnesia when she awakens and can't remember anything about her life before the attack, including who attacked her! Dum dum dum! And not only that, she is sweet tempered and modest, very unlike a brazen courtesan. What on earth is going on!

I liked this book despite the cliched amnesia plot because the characters were very likable and their affection for each seemed genuine and believable. And Grant wasn't your typical tough-guy hero that refused to acknowledge when he's in love. I liked that, I thought it was sweet. It was also nice how the climax of the story didn't occur at the very end of the book which is unusual for a romance novel. I like it when there are more than two pages after the characters decide they will live happily ever after.

Lindsey's Grade: B

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Happy Banned Book Week!

Contacts: Larra Clark/Macey Morales
ALA Media Relations
For Immediate Release
September 21, 2006

Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st Century

(CHICAGO) In anticipation of the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week (September 23-30), the American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top 10 most challenged books from 2000-2005, with the Harry Potter series of books leading the pack. The 10 most challenged books of the 21st Century (2000-2005) are:

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

2. "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier

3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

4. "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

5. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou

6. "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers

7. "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris

8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz

9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

10. "Forever" by Judy Blume

All but three of these books also were in the top 10 of the most challenged books of the 1990s: The ALA reports there were more than 3,000 attempts to remove books from schools and public libraries between 2000 and 2005. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

Now readers can vote online for THEIR favorite challenged book by logging on at The ALA will announce the "winners" Monday, October 2.

Banned Books Week is a time in which schools, libraries and bookstores around the country celebrate the freedom to read with exhibits, readings and special events.

In honor of 25 years of fighting to keep books freely accessible in U.S. schools and libraries, the ALA has expanded the range of resources available to celebrate the freedom to read. Download a free chapter of three frequently challenged books from Search modern classics that have been banned or challenged with Google Book Search. Check it all out at

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

For more information, please visit

Monday, September 25, 2006

Book News

As I've mentioned before, I like Linda Howard. I've also said that To Die For is not only one of my favorites among her books, but one of my favorite contemporary romance novels ever. That's why today is such a wonderful day.

She's writing a sequel! And it's coming out before the end of the year! There are not enough words to describe my excitement. Linda Howard is almost untouchable when she writes romantic suspense infused with comedy. And it's about time I get a romance novel I like. Let's hope this one doesn't let me down.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Book Review: Kabul In Winter

Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan by Ann Jones

I looked forward to this book and I even bought it since it wasn't in our library. But I have to say that while reading it I became utterly disgusted with Ann Jones. The book is divided into three parts: in the streets, in the prisons and in the schools. Jones does an excellent job of providing a historical context and in describing women's issues and non-profit work in Kabul. It is these aspects that I appreciated. Jones has a strong background in writing on domestic violence and I would have liked her to use this strength more in her writing.

What turned me off of this book is how she talked about female NGO workers dating and flirting with Afghani men. Jones would go from discussing politics to a conversation about how sexy the cab driver was and wondering if he would consider taking her on as a second wife. It made me lose respect for her as a writer and as a woman. These comments were not needed and they kept taking away from the rest of her experiences of working in Kabul.

Kim's Grade: C Lose the "sexy Afgani men" discussions and focus on Kabul!

Publisher Comments:

A sharp and arresting people’s-eye view of real life in Afghanistan after the Taliban
Soon after the bombing of Kabul ceased, award-winning journalist and women’s rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city, determined to bring help where her country had brought destruction.

Here is her trenchant report from inside a city struggling to rise from the ruins. Working among the multitude of impoverished war widows, retraining Kabul’s long-silenced English teachers, and investigating the city’s prison for women, Jones enters a large community of female outcasts: runaway child brides, pariah prostitutes, cast-off wives, victims of rape. In the streets and markets, she hears the Afghan view of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban, and learns that regarding women as less than human is the norm, not the aberration of one conspicuously repressive regime. Jones confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijacked—by Communists, Islamic fundamentalists, and the Western free marketeers—always with disastrous results. And she reveals, through small events, the big disjunctions: between U.S promises and performance, between the new “democracy” and the still-entrenched warlords, between what’s boasted of and what is.

At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, Kabul in Winter brings alive the people and day-to-day life of a place whose future depends so much upon our own.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Book Review: Sweetness in the Belly

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

This is an emotionally charged novel! It involves the Ethiopian Civil War and the struggle to survive as a refugee, separated from everything and everyone you've ever known. The voice of Lilly is so real, so authentic, so rich in ethnic detail that one is immediately drawn into this imagined story of a woman displaced in two worlds.

The daughter of English/Irish parents who spend much of their time in a drug induced haze, young Lilly is very much left to herself, free to find amusement on the streets of Morocco. One day she is abandoned by her parents at a Sufi shrine, saying they will return in three days.

That day never comes as they are found slain several weeks later. With no one to shelter her Lily is taken under the wing of an Englishman who has converted to Islam. At the age of eight the child's life begins anew as she will live in the shrine and spend her days in religious study.

At the age of sixteen when many girls are thinking about buying prom. dresses Lilly travels to Ethiopia where she teaches the Qur'an to local children. Once again the color of her skin betrays her, and she is an outsider there. Nonetheless, she falls in love with a young doctor.

Years later the outbreak of war forces her to seek refuge in London where she is again an outsider. Yet, it is her faith that sustains her.

Sweetness in the Belly offers a telling portrait of a far away world that few of us will ever see. Read, cry and enjoy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Queen of Babble

A conversation on the book Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot.

Kim: This is the first Cabot book I've read and I think I'm hooked! She is absolutely hilarious! I am not ashamed of loving this book nor of admitting to liking her Princess Diaries. Cabot's character Lizzie was smart, confident, funny and knew what was important to her! I'm so happy you finally finished it! I told you it was a fast read! What did you think?

Lindsey: This was my first Cabot book, too, and I really liked it! A lot of times I get annoyed with characters in these kind of books, but Cabot portrayed everyone perfectly! Lizzie wasn't annoying in the least, and unlike most "Chick Lit" heroines, she was smart and quick enough to see through bull$&*%.

Kim: Yes, Lizzie was honest and realistic. I saw a lot of myself in her. I can actually picture myself ranting to some stranger on a train. What I truly appreciated about Lizzie was that after realizing Andy wasn't right for her she left immediately. She didn't put around or hope that he would change, no--she left that moment and didn't even look back! That is admirable.

Lindsey: I know! That was one of my favorite aspects of her character, too. I'm sick of reading about stupid, stupid women that I'm supposed to like just because they're the heroine of the story. Lizzie was likeable enough that it wasn't hard to understand why Luke would respond to her the way he did. Although, I still think most men would be freaked out by a crying woman on a train who starts to spill her guys. But Luke was no ordinary man...

Kim: Although this may spoil some of the story I also enjoyed how Lizzie wanted that b.j. back! I mean, we all do things that we regret or wish we hadn't done but she was serious about wanting it back! I had more respect for her because of this.

I felt sorry for her, too. That would really suck (no pun intended) to give your first b.j. to a guy that you dumped the next day. Any self-respecting woman would want it back! The way Cabot described Lizzie's thoughts and emotions on the subject was the funniest part of the book - other than the HILARIOUS snip-its from Lizzie's senior thesis on the History of Fashion.

Check out the first chapter of this book here!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book Review: Digging to America

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

I was very excited to find this in the audiobook section of Hastings several months ago. The book kept popping up on "Must Read Books This Summer" lists, or was mentioned by other notable writers, and was well-reviewed.

So imagine my excitement when I finally had the opportunity to listen to it while driving to Boise! Yeah!

Sometimes life presents us with opportunities to create our own families. This is such a story, one about two families slowly becoming one. It begins at the airport where we see a huge group of people, wearing buttons exclaiming "mom," "dad,"" grandma," and grandpa," and off to the side we see another group, much smaller, in fact, only three people. Both groups are awaiting the arrival of their newly adopted daughters from Korea. Brad and Bitsy Donaldson later invite Sami and Zibar Yazdan over for a "Leaf Raking Party" and the two families begin the process of becoming one.

"Adapting" stands out as one of the book's strongest themes; the notion of becoming comfortable with yourself and others yet allowing a certain amount of turmoil in your life to keep you uncomfortable with yourself and others at the same time. Its also about growth, about how we as individuals change over time. And as we change, so do our friendships.

We all have known a Bitsy Donaldson. A woman who craves multi-culturalism, an environmentalist, and who has no problem telling people how they should live their lives. Bitsy drove me crazy in this book!! I could not believe how she constantly preached to Zibar on how she should raise her daughter. Like suggesting Korean children's stories, soy milk, or looking down on her for changing her daughter's name from Suki to Susan. Bitsy also criticized Zibar for working instead of being a stay-at-home mom like herself.

We've also all known a Brad Donaldson. A husband who will stand behind his wife no matter what crazy ideas she may have. A man who gives everything to his family and friends and asks nothing in return.

Sami and Zibar Yazdan are Iranian-American and are just trying to live the picture perfect American life. They give their daughter Susan every opportunity possible. They want Susan to be very American, yet Susan ultimately grows into an Iranian-Korean-American. As the Yazdans eventually learn, you can't necessarily rid yourself of your background or culture. Maryam Yazdan, Sami's mother, struggles with this the most since she feels neither American (she's lived in Massachusetts for over 30 years), nor Iranian. She constantly feels outside of the group and is easily the most interesting and complex character in the book. She also struggles with the issue of learning to love again so late in one's life. Anne Tyler did a wonderful job of weaving emotion into the blanket of this particular story.

The Arrival Party, the event celebrating the day their daughters arrived, is what eventually brings these families closer and closer together over the years. This relationship evolves, or "digs" to a place where love and family are found in the most unexpected place, and is one neither the Yazdans nor the Donaldsons would give up for anything else in the world.

Kim's Grade: A Witty, funny, heart-warming and annoying. You love to hate some of
these characters at times!

Book Review: Only With Your Love

This Lisa Kleypas book was pretty much your standard romance novel. The good thing about it, though, was there wasn't too much wishy-washyness as far as the character's emotions went. I really hate it when it takes up to the last page of the book for the hero to decide how he feels about the heroine.

There were, of course, some really unbelievable elements. But you know, I've never been kidnapped by evil pirates and then ransomed by a hunky good pirate, so I can't say how I'd react in the situation.

Lindsey's Grade: B-

Friday, September 08, 2006

Book Review: Queen of Babble

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

My Dearest Lindsey,

I so very much would like to review this book but feel that I simply cannot until you've read it yourself!

Take Bridget Jones and make her a fashion major then send her to Europe!

Absolutely HILARIOUS!!!

So funny I don't want to say anything since it will spoil the surprise!

So, Lindsey, I vow not to talk to you until you've read it! And seeing how we're footballin' it tomorrow...well you've better get crackin'!!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book Review: Into the Storm

I love, love, love Suzanne Brockmann. Love her. Sometimes the plots in her books aren't appealing to me, but her writing is just fun and her characters are always fantastic.

Brockmann writes about Navy SEALS, specifically the fictional Team Sixteen, and until I started reading her books I didn't know how hot Navy SEALS could be. For a while there in college I was slightly obsessed until I realized real SEALS are probably nothing like Brockmann's characters who are always smart, funny, and sensitive. Oh, and they always cry when the women in their lives try to dump them. They all seem kind of too good to be true, but then again, they're in the military and their wives and girlfriends probably never get to see them.

In this book the hero was again a SEAL from Team Sixteen, Mark Jenkins, a character who has been mentioned in a number of the prior books in the series. The heroine was named Lindsey (awesome!) and she worked for a private firm that was associate with the SEALS in a complicated way that I don't want to explain now. And since the plot doesn't really matter, I'm not going to waste the time to talk about it. But I will say that it was a better plot than some of her recent work.

Brockmann is fantastic because the relationships she writes about seem very real. The people are flawed, honest, confused, etc. And I like how her dialogue is something that would actually occur in real life. But best of all she's just funny. Jenkins's friend Izzy is hilarious, and even though it isn't laugh out loud, it's just fun to read.

Lindsey's Grade: A-

Monday, September 04, 2006


I used to love Nora Roberts so much that I would make special trips to the store to buy her latest book as soon as it came out. Those were the good ol' days when she wrote things like The Reef, Birthright, and her Chesapeake Bay trilogy (Sea Swept, Inner Harbor, and Rising Tides). But a few days ago when I saw her latest book I took a peak and walked right on by with no regrets.

This is the Barnes and Noble review of Morrigan's Cross, the first book in her latest trilogy:

"Bestselling author Nora Roberts ventures deep into the world of paranormal and fantasy with an action-packed powerhouse of a book, the first in what promises to be a terrific trilogy. The backstory is the stuff of legend: Lilith the vampire turns Cian, the brother of Hoyt (a sorcerer in 12th-century Ireland), into a bloodsucker like herself. Hoyt is charged by the goddess Morrigan to wage a battle against Lilith, using a very specific team of six -- "the witch, the warrior, the scholar, the one of many forms, and the one you've lost."

The gathering of the team is a strong story in itself, but that's just the beginning. As Hoyt puts together the team, he discovers Glenna, a modern-day witch, and their cross-centuries romance begins, thanks to the marvels of time travel. There are some wonderful moments as they fall in love, with Glenna teaching Hoyt about the role of women in the 21st century and demonstrating the use of appliances. Then there's the decision of where they should live -- and by that we mean, in which century. The evolving relationship between Hoyt and his vampire brother, who joins the team, is also moving. Book One closes with an exciting wedding/battle that sets the stage for the next books, Dance of the Gods and Valley of Silence.

As her fans already know, Nora Roberts can take any subcategory in the field and spin it to new heights. This paranormal fantasy proves the point all over again."

-Ginger Curwen

Does that not sound like the dumbest thing you've ever heard of? First of all, I hate time travel romances with a passion that will never die, and I'm not too keen on witches, either. But Nora has been into supernatural stuff lately, and frankly, I'm a little tired of it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fall Book Releases

By The Associated Press Wed Aug 23, 2:26 PM ET

Some notable books coming out this fall:


"After This" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Alice McDermott sets her latest novel during the Vietnam War as she writes again about the suburban Keane family.

"Against the Day" (Penguin), Thomas Pynchon's epic and long-awaited novel.

"All Aunt Hagar's Children" (Amistad), short stories by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edward P. Jones.

"The Dissident" (Ecco), a novel about a Chinese artist and activist by the acclaimed young author, Nell Freudenberger.

"The Interpretation of Murder" (Henry Holt), Jed Rubenfeld's thriller finds Sigmund Freud in New York in the early 20th century.

"The Lay of the Land" (Alfred A. Knopf), Richard Ford returns with Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Independence Day."

"The Light of Evening" (Houghton Mifflin), Edna O'Brien's novel is centered on the troubled relationship between a mother and daughter.

"The Meaning of Night" (W.W. Norton), Michael Cox's thriller is set in 19th-century London.

"One Good Turn" (Little, Brown), Kate Atkinson, author of "Case Histories," sets her latest thriller around a car accident.

"Restless" (Bloomsbury), a spy story from William Boyd, set partly in Paris, 1939.

"The Return of the Player" (Grove), Hollywood schemer Griffin Mill is back in Michael Tolkin's new novel.

"The Road" (Alfred A. Knopf), a post-apocalypse tale from Cormac McCarthy.

"A Spot of Bother" (Doubleday), Mark Haddon presents the follies of family in his latest novel.

"Thirteen Moons" (Random House), Charles Frazier, author of "Cold Mountain," returns with this story of an orphaned white man living among Cherokees.

"The View from Castle Rock" (Alfred A. Knopf), a new collection from short story master Alice Munro.

"World War Z" (Crown), zombies are on the march in Max Brooks' novel.


"Andrew Carnegie" (Penguin Press), David Nasaw's 800-page biography of the tycoon and philanthropist.

"The Audacity of Hope" (Crown), Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., presents his vision for the future.

"Blind Side" (W.W. Norton), Michael Lewis, the author of "Moneyball," takes on professional football.

"Blood and Thunder" (Doubleday), Hampton Sides, the author of "Ghost Soldiers," looks back to the Wild West.

"The Confession" (ReganBooks), the memoirs of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, the nation's first openly gay governor.

"Faith and Politics" (Viking), John Danforth, the former Missouri senator calls for moderation among his fellow Republicans.

"Innocent Man" (Doubleday), John Grisham, a nonfiction crime story from the million-selling novelist.

"Inside the Bush White House, the Second Term" (Simon & Schuster), Bob Woodward's latest inside account of the Bush administration.

"I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This" (Hyperion), jokes and anecdotes from Bob Newhart.

"Justice for All" (Riverhead), Jim Newton's biography of former Chief Justice and California governor Earl Warren.

"The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" (Broadway Books), Bill Bryson remembers growing up in the 1950s.

"Palestine" (Simon & Schuster), former President Carter offers thoughts on the Middle East.

"Soldier" (Alfred A. Knopf), Karen DeYoung's biography of Colin Powell, written with the cooperation of the former secretary of state.

"Thunderstruck" (Crown), Erik Larson, author of the best seller, "Devil in the White City," writes of murder and wireless communication at the turn of the 20th century.

"U2 by U2" (Harper Entertainment), the Irish rock band tell its own story.

"Walt Disney" (Alfred A. Knopf), Neal Gabler's 800-page biography of the Hollywood mogul.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Book Review: Trouble In High Heels

I feel really bad about the review I'm about to do, but to be honest, I am once again disappointed by a Christina Dodd book. The reason is feel bad is that I think she's probably a very nice, very funny woman. I enjoy reading the blog she shares with other romance writers at But I've yet to come across a book of hers that I've liked. A rationale question would be why do I keep buying them?

First off, her website improperly advertises this book as "cool suspense." Um, there was nothing suspenseful in this book. Kim's posting of the Jennifer Weiner quote was remarkably timely, because I think this book would aptly be categorized as "chick lit." I think of "chick lit" as books about young professional women that can't seem to get their romantic lives straightened out. And, they invariably end up involved in some ridiculous set of events that would never happen in real life. And they are totally clueless. That's my definition of "chick lit." That is not my definition of "cool suspense."

I'm a little peeved, too, by the cover of this book. They're trying to trick us by not letting on that it's chick lit. Chick lit is supposed to have covers like this:

See the jaunty cartoon characters? That's how you know what you're getting into.

Romantic suspense (when done right) is supposed to have covers like this:

I'm sorry if authors don't like the term "chick lit." But when they insult us by creating characters that are supposed to be smart but end up doing absolutely ridiculously stupid things, it's deserved.

Case in point - the heroine in this book was really sensitive to being called stupid because her absentee father used to call her stupid. So she went to law school and graduated top of her class and all that. But yet she still ended up engaged to a total loser who had a girlfriend on the side and impregnated and married the girlfriend before he broke off his engagement to the heroine. If she's so smart why didn't see that coming? And if she's so smart why did she put up with all the red-flags and jerkish behavior that he supposedly exhibited the whole time they were together? And if she's so smart why did she think she could break up a jewel robbery all on her own? And if she's so smart why did she talk to her boss of one day like she was the Queen of Sheba and he was her lowly servant?

I'm sick and tired of romance novelists thinking that readers are gullible enough to believe that their characters are smart just because they tell us they are, when everything the characters do points to the opposite conclusion. You can't just wipe away a book full of behavior with one sentence, okay? So don't try it.

Oh, and Roberto? Yeah, not a sexy name, even if he is an Italian Count. Remember Adam Sandler's dad in "The Waterboy"? His name was Roberto.

Lindsey's Grade: C