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!