Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book review – Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga Book 4) by Stephenie Meyer

breaking dawn

If you are a huge fan of this franchise, you might not want to read any further because I am not.

I finally finished the 4th book of the Twilight Saga. I made myself read the books because my daughter and then several people I know, became major fans of the books and movies. And you can’t take that away from Stephenie Meyer.

But I just don’t know why. The writing is ok but not spectacular. The story is predictable and most of the characters (especially the main ones) are quite boring, simplistic and inconsistent in annoying ways.

I want my vampires to be packed with suppressed passion and my werewolves to be bursting with unsuppressed passion and the people attracted to them agonizingly conflicted about wanting them. But I didn’t get any of that. The evil in the books is so sanitized. The final battle is blah. There’s no really conflict in any of it.

This quote from Publishers Weekly says it best:

Essentially, everyone gets everything they want, even if their desires necessitate an about-face in characterization or the messy introduction of some back story. Nobody has to renounce anything or suffer more than temporarily--in other words, grandeur is out. This isn't about happy endings; it's about gratification. A sign of the times?

There’s no blurb about the book on the website without loads of spoilers.

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I give the whole series 1 out of 5 butterflies. Read them if you want to know what prompted the phenomenon but this is not Romeo and Juliet.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Review – The Passion

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson


The Passion won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1987.

I can’t make up my mind about this book. The characters were fascinating in an intellectual way but I didn’t find any of them substantive. They have only stayed with me in a vague sort of way. I found myself adding so much of my own imagination to the story that I felt almost cheated by the writer.

I did keep reading but only because I was waiting for something I never got. I felt it lacked passion. It was well written from a craft stand-point.

It’s not a very long book so if you want to experience some quirky characters, I recommend it. But in the end, I was disappointed with the story as a whole.

From the website:

It was Napoleon who had such a passion for chicken that he kept his chefs working around the clock. What a kitchen that was, with birds in every state of undress... It was my first commission. I started as a neck-wringer..

This is the story of Henri, a young Frenchman sent to fight in the Napoleonic wars. It is the story of Villanelle, a cross-dressing Venetian woman, born with webbed feet.

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I give this book 2 out of 5 butterflies because the story left me unfulfilled.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

BBC Book challenge and Day Zero

BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

How do your reading habits stack up?

Copy this into your NOTES. Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. Tag other "Book Nerds".

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien X
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible X
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte X
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman X
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X

Total: 8

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

Total: 1

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Total: 3

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy X
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X
34 Emma-Jane Austen X
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen X
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X

Total: 7

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood X
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

Total: 5

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert X
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen X
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Total: 2

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

Total: 1

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker X
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce X
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

Total: 3

80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

Total: 2

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total: 1

Final Total: 33

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While I have certainly read more than 6 of these books, I am not happy with my total. So, as part of the Day Zero project, I will finish this list by May 19, 2013 (you know, if we make it past December 2012.) I may even read some a second time since it’s been so long for some of them.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review - Tsunami Blue

Tsunami Blue by Gayle Ann Williams


Quilly wrote a review of this book a while back.

It is a first book by Gayle Ann Williams and it won the Dorchester Publishing Award. It is also the first book in an upcoming series, the second book of which has been sold and due out in March 2011.

This was another fast paced read with another very unique heroine. Set in the not-so-distant future, the world has changed due to climatic upheaval. With a unique gift and survivalist training, Tsunami Blue tries to make the world safer for others despite their hatred and fear of her.

I was very impressed by the quality of the story, characters and writing. I am very happy I can look forward to more by this author.

From the website:


With her badass rain boots, her faithful dog, and the ability to predict the monster tsunamis that have reduced the US to a series of islands, Kathryn O’Malley isn’t afraid of much. Cut off from all society, she takes to the airwaves as Tsunami Blue, hoping to save something of humanity as the world around her crumbles. But Blue should be afraid—because her message reaches the wrong ears.

Now she’s the target of ruthless pirates known as Runners who want to use her special talents for their own profiteering—as soon as they can find her. Blue’s only shot at survival lies with the naked stranger who washes up on her rocky beach. A man who might just be working for Runners himself. Torn between suspicion and attraction, the two will have to navigate a surging tide of danger and deceit if they hope to stay alive.

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I give this book 4 out of 5 butterflies because the ending is a tad lukewarm.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review - The Girl

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

You should know up front that the author, Stieg Larsson, is dead. I tell you this because he meant to write a series of ten books and there are only three in print. He almost finished a fourth, but because of Swedish laws, it apparently will not be published. We’ll have to wait and see.

It is obvious that these books are meant to be series but don’t let that stop you from reading these books. They are loads of fun and very interesting. I don’t know much about Sweden, so I learned a bit about their government and history and now I need to learn more.

The books are fast paced, loaded with interwoven plots and story lines, filled with conspiracies and the characters are different. Parts are briefly very graphic but not gratuitous.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – plot summary (from the website):

Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece Harriet. Henrik suspects that someone in his family, the powerful Vanger clan, murdered Harriet over forty years ago. 

Starting his investigation, Mikael realizes that Harriet’s disappearance is not a single event, but rather linked to series of gruesome murders in the past. He now crosses paths with Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker, an asocial punk and most importantly, a young woman driven by her vindictiveness.

Together they form an unlikely couple as they dive deeper into the violent past of the secretive Vanger family.

The Girl Who Played with Fire – plot summary (from the website):

Lisbeth Salander is wanted for a triple murder. All three victims are connected to a trafficking exposé about to be published in Mikael Blomqvist’s magazine Millenium, and Lisbeth’s fingerprints are on the weapon.

Lisbeth vanishes to avoid capture by the justice. Mikael, not believing the police, is despairingly trying to clear her name, using all his resources and the staff of his magazine. During this process, Mikael discovers Lisbeth’s past, a terrible story of abuse and traumatizing experiences growing up in the Swedish care system.

When he eventually finds her, it’s only to discover that she is far more entangled in his initial investigation of the sex industry than he could ever imagine.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest – plot summary (from the website):

Two seriously injured people arrive at the emergency ward of the Sahlgrensa hospital in Gothenburg. One is the wanted murderer Lisbeth Salander who has taken a bullet to the head and needs immediate surgery, the other is Alexander Zalachenko, an older man who Lisbeth has attacked with an axe. 

In this third novel in the Millennium trilogy, Lisbeth is planning her revenge against the men who tried to kill her, and even more importantly, revenge against the government which nearly destroyed her life. But first she must escape from the intensive care unit and exculpate her name from the charges of murder that hangs over her head.

In order to succeed with the latter, Lisbeth will need the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist. He is writing an exposing article that will shake the Swedish government, the secret service and the whole country by its foundations. Finally there is a chance for Lisbeth Salander to put her past behind her and finally there is a chance for truth and justice to prevail.

Here’s the hype from Google products:

All across America, readers are talking about Stieg Larsson's best-selling novels, set in Sweden and featuring Lisbeth Salander "one of the most original and memorable heroines to surface in a recent thriller" (The New York Times) The trilogy is an international sensation that will grab you and keep you "reading with eyes wide open" (San Francisco Chronicle) "[It] is intricately plotted, lavishly detailed but written with a breakneck pace and verve" (The Independent, U.K.), but "be warned: the trilogy is seriously addictive." (The Guardian, U.K.) "Believe the hype . . . It's gripping stuff." (People) "Stieg Larsson clearly loved his brave misfit Lisbeth. And so will you." (USA Today) "Larsson has bottled lightning." (Los Angeles Times) … "Unique and fascinating . . . Like a blast of cold, fresh air.” (Chicago Tribune) "Wildly suspenseful . . . Intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing." (The Washington Post) "A gripping, stay-up-all-night read.” (Entertainment Weekly) "Dynamite.” (Variety)

I give these books 4 out of 5 butterflies (I'm going one short only because I want the other 7 books.) 

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