Llew's Reviews

Archive for October, 2008

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

Sunday, October 19th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #14

“As always, Vowell is darkly hilarious and freshly informative. She pokes fun at the buckle-shoed Puritans who first settled here, but she also tells a story of how their quirks and foibles, and love of words formed our country’s personality. her distinct and sharply witty voice makes this book an edifying delight.” — Laura DeLaney

Oh, I would have read this one any way. I freaking love Sarah Vowell and I loved this book just as much as I knew I would. Her interview on John Stewart was hilarious, and I was more than excited to finally begin this one. Also, an Asheville blogger compared Sarah Vowell to Susie Derkins in Calvin & Hobbes and I found that so incredibly apt.

My favorite quote from this book was:

“In fact, a handful of colonial New England women successfully sued for divorce on the grounds of impotence, including Ann Lane of Massachusetts Bay, who accused her husband in 1658 o failing to perform “the duties of a husband,” a detail not disputed by Mr. Lane. And speaking of marriage, in colonial New England weddings were “a civil thing,” civil unions one might say, performed by magistrates, not clergy. because a wedding wasn’t trumped up as the object in left that saves one’s soul – that would be God – but rather more like what it actually is, a change in legal status, an errand at the DMV, with cake.”


A Summer Wasting

Sunday, October 12th, 2008 by Miss Laura

This summer while waiting for “Breaking Dawn” to come out I had many readers who asked me for suggestions to keep them busy until the release. Thus, I spent the summer wasting by beefing up on teenage vampire series. For some reason (read: I have a strong sense of shame) I didn’t blog about any of those on this site so I’m doing that now. Don’t judge me.

House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast

The fourth book in the House of Night series, Untamed, was released last week.

No matter how many other readers I encounter who are enthusiastic about this series I can’t find it in me to recommend it to anyone. I don’t even really understand liking it as a guilty pleasure read.

Don’t get wrong – I will probably read the next and the next until the series is over but I don’t think it’s good. I actually talk out loud while reading this book. And by talk I mean groan and roll my eyes … frequently.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Another teen vampire series that takes place at a boarding school! I actually can see reading this one as a guilty pleasure as I rather enjoyed this series – even if it’s completely frivolous. I like that the main character (a dhampir named Rose Hathaway) is a complete badass with absolutely no control over her temper. It’s such a marked contrast to the other heroines in similar series.

The Society of S by Susan Hubbard

This one was recommended to me by April who seemed quite excited by the first book and ultimately disappointed by the follow up. I can understand the disappointment as the second book was quite meh. The first one didn’t really do much for me either but it was definitely a fun read. Plus, now it makes me want lavendar honey.

Evernight by Claudia Gray

There’s only one in this series so far but it seems clear there will be now. I feel bad not liking this book since the author is my friend on MySpace. Of course, a girl who makes Twilight themed bags that look as if they were made my a kindergartner with smashed thumbs is also my friend on MySpace and I have no problem thinking her craft is trash.

First off, the male love interest has bronze hair. Until the Twilight books I never knew that bronze was a hair color and now it’s the lock choice of any hunky vamp love around. Sure, right.

Second, and I can’t really tell you without giving away something of the story but in the middle the narrator tells you something she should have mentioned from the beginning. And it’s something so odd that the reader didn’t know from the get go that it just upsets the flow of the story too much. I almost stopped at that point – and I probably wouldn’t have lost anything if I had. Again, I will probably read the next book in the series because I’m a sucker.

Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

Saturday, October 11th, 2008 by Miss Laura

“When a pair of fugitive Scottish thistle fairies end up transplanted to Manhattan by mistake, both the Big Apple and the Little People have a lot of adjusting to do. Heather and Morag just want to start the first radical fairy punk rock band, but first they’ll have make a match between two highly unlikely sweethearts, start a street brawl between rival gangs of Italian, Chinese, and African fairies, help the ghost of a dead rocker track down his lost guitar, reclaim a rare triple-bloomed Welsh poppy from a bag lady with delusions of grandeur, disrupt a local community performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and somehow manage to stay sober enough to save all of New York from an invasion of evil Cornish fairies.”

I read this one earlier this year, but I guess I forgot to write it about it on this blog which is a shame. This is a hilarious completely irreverent story that I adored. Thanks to Sean for recommending it to me (or at least mentioning it where I could overhear it which is about the same as recommending a book to me.)

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Saturday, October 11th, 2008 by Miss Laura
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Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #13

“Lisbeth Salander — the girl with the dragon tattoo — is a truly original character. Salander’s computer hacking skills, and her amoral disregard of both laws and individuals, are critical in resolving the case of modern corporate fraud and the disappearance of a young girl 40 years earlier. A European bestseller, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo deserves every bit as much success here.” — from Indie Bound’s Indie Next List   October, 2008

This is a total guilty pleasure read – and it’s fun. Larsson described the brutal Swedish winter so well that I almost found myself turning the pages while wearing gloves. I don’t normally like mysteries, but I love playing mystery computer games. And this novel with its vivid imagery and quick paced storyline was more like playing a game than reading a novel. It grabbed me right off (I’m considering pressing charges) and then lulled but by page 80 I was hooked again. I wasn’t thrilled by the ending but there probably wasn’t a better alternative.

The main character really isn’t the one in the title – it’s financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist who has just been sentenced a jail term for libeling an underhanded business man. He is offered a job in a remote island under the pretense of writing a chronicle of a well known industrialist’s family. However, his secret assignment is to find out what happened to the industrialist’s teenage great niece forty years ago when she mysteriously disappeared to never be seen again. It’s an assignment he would usually never agree to but due to the public humiliation of the libel charge and the promise of evidence that will ruin the underhanded business man he was accused of libeling he goes.

It does have a number of sexually graphic (and abusive) scenes so I probably wouldn’t whole-heartedly recommend across the board to just anyone. Nor, is it exactly higher literature or really edifying in its message or story line. However, if you just want an entertaining story that seems to be a quick read even though it’s over 500 pages – this is a good choice.

Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #12

“We understand what we want to understand.”

When this book came into the bookshop there was a tag in the computer that said, “Laura must read this book.” So Laura read this book. Laura doesn’t understand why she HAD to read it and Mr. Bossy Pants Boss Man can’t even remember now why he put this imperative in. He read a review or article sometime somewhere but doesn’t remember where or when.

It wasn’t bad. I can see people who loved Jennifer Donnelly’s Northern Lights liking this one. It’s not marketed as a young adult novel which I think is a mistake but probably not an imperative.

The story follows an only child from an incredibly wealthy family who has decided to go to a state college instead of an ivy league school she could have easily gotten into and more easily have afforded. She decides she wants a part-time job for her own spending money rather than relying on an already in effect allowance daddy-poo so she answers an ad on the bulletin board in her English department. There is a diary from a girl who was accused (and eventually hanged) during the Salem Witch Trials that an older lady wants translated to read in a more modern English format.

The story then starts to alternate between the modern day rich girl trying to find out who she is and the girl accused of being a witch in Salem. The Salem part of the story is incredibly vividly told, and amazingly well done. The modern story is a little tiresome. Not too bad, but I didn’t find the main character compelling or likable so it’s a lot of wishing on the reader’s part that the main character would just get over herself already.

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 by Miss Laura

“Here’s one example I tend to deploy on second dates, and it’s rewarded with an endearing guffaw at least 90 percent of the time: I ask the woman what religion she is. Inevitably, she will say something like, ‘Oh, I’m sort of Catholic, but I’m pretty lapsed in my participation,’ or ‘Oh, I’m kind of Jewish, but I don’t really practice anymore.’ Virtually everyone under the age of thirty will answer that question in this manner. I then respond by saying, “Yeah it seems like everybody I meet describes themselves as ‘sort of Catholic’ or ‘sort of Jewish’ or ‘sort of Methodist.’ Do you think all religions have this problem? I mean, do you think there are twenty-five-year-old Amish people who say, ‘Well, I’m sort of Amish. I currently work as a computer programmer, but I still believe pants with metal zippers are the work of Satan.'”
— Chuck Klosterman “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs”

That quote is from Klosterman’s essay on pop culture. The book I just finished is a novel about a small town in North Dakota.  The ending of this book molested my emotional sense of well being.  Other than that, I quite liked it.

This and books like “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” are going to be the death of me.

Anyone else read it who I can commiserate with? Also, I cross-posted this on my personal website as well in hopes that someone, anyone, would be out there to talk about this book with. And by “talk about” I mean “whine about”

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