Apr 28, 2011
I breezed away part of an afternoon reading the graphic novel version of Sense & Sensibility. It's so pretty! I believe that my personal library fairy reserved it for me. Love those surprises! I have yet to read the actual novel in spite of my Austen love. It's part of my plan to savor her books - only reading one every few years. Anyway, this is pretty adorable. 6/10.
Apr 27, 2011
I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks over a month ago yet I hesitated about posting about it because its so damn sad. The book tells the tale of the first line of "immortal" cancer cells kept going in science labs. It also mixes the tale of the woman they came from with science, social commentary, and history. The author does a good job of keeping everything interesting and informative.
What stuck with me the most though was how hard life was for this woman and how the family was disregarded by the rest of the world. The fact that it took so long for anyone to take the time to explain the meaning and use of Henrietta's cells to the children is astonishing to me.
I recently saw this type of book referred to as a micro-history and I think that's genius. This is exactly the kind of history I like reading - something that takes one subject, however specialized and minute, and dives deep into it.
Apr 26, 2011
YAWN! Starter for 10 was super predictable and not that entertaining. It follows a college student who joins the school's quiz team. I dosed off for a bit near the end and had no desire to go back and see what I'd missed. The one highlight was seeing Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's own Sherlock Holmes) playing the role of snotty prig.
Apr 24, 2011
I totally fell into this novel, and it's forcing me to admit that I do not dislike epistolary novels. Which Brings Me to You is a story told in correspondence between a couple who meet and almost hook up at a wedding. They decide to confess all their relationship misdeeds to each other through letters and come clean before deciding to meet up again.
It sounds gimmiky and like a bad Owen Wilson / Kat Hudson romantic comedy, but it is so good. These letters get dark and very confessional and they stay honest. There's a good bit of humor thrown in for good measure too. Overall, I really enjoyed the letters - the real interaction between the characters didn't convince me near as much. Luckily for me, the book is 98% letters.
Apr 23, 2011
Apr 19, 2011
Apr 16, 2011
Apr 14, 2011
Why has it taken me so long to watch The Color Purple? I think it's because I had vague notions that it would be something hard to watch. At times, it is hard to watch - the sorts of things that can happen to those made powerless in society are horrifying. However, it's also wonderful. I love the bonds between the various women in this film. It left me feeling better than before, and that's a pretty wonderful thing. 8/10.
Even though the book annoyed me greatly, I had to check out the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada. Pretty clothes! Meryl Streep! Stanley Tucci! It's no great film, but it was fun to see the clothes and two fantastic actors have a lot of fun. 5/10.
Apr 13, 2011
God's Harvard is a a report on an evangelical Christian college as told by someone who is neither. I thought it was an interesting perspective. Right from the start, the author acknowledges that she's a liberal Jewish woman deeply interested in religious studies.
Given her angle, I feel like she expresses a real interest and concern for the students she follows during her time at the school. I appreciated that. She's a bit sterner when it comes to her take on the professors, administration, and parents.
I found it fascinating. It's such a different world. I will admit, however, to terror at the "science" courses described in a couple of the chapters.
Apr 12, 2011
Plain Kate is the story of a girl who sells her shadow under pressure and in exchange for her heart's desire. It's also a story of the downtrodden, powerless, and abused. I picked it up thinking like it sounded like an interesting YA read. I didn't expect the darkness of this fairy tale.
I really enjoyed the characters of Kate and Taggle and the rest of those around them. Everyone seemed to have dimensions to their personalities - there were no "good" or "bad" characters.
I've always been a fan of the real fairy tales - the ones that realize that sacrifice and pain are not to be avoided or skimmed over. I've always preferred the Grimm Brothers to Disney, and this book leans definitely more Grimm. And the author's note at the end broke my heart anew.
My one complaint about the book is the cover. It's so lovely, but doesn't fit the main character at all. She would never be walking roof tops. The story at one point tells of how she fears heights. I hate discrepancies like that. All in all, it's 7/10.
Apr 10, 2011
How can you resist this cover? The Year of the Hare is a Finnish novel about a man who decides to leave his unhappy life and wonder the country with a hare. The concept is so fun, but I think possibly something was lost in translation. I wasn't enchanted like I'd expected to be. The story was mildly interesting - just enough to keep me reading. It just didn't catch for me. 3/10.
Apr 9, 2011
Apr 8, 2011
I picked up The Cookbook Collector after hearing a bazillion reviews calling her the next Jane Austen. Cause who can resist Jane Austen? I admired how the author intertwined the lives of Save the Trees enthusiasts with antique book dealers and dot com millionaires. As unlikely as it seems, it kind of worked.
However, I don't really get the Austen comparisons at all. She does write about the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy but manners and society don't play as big of a role as I'd expected. I was a bit let down. Towards the end of the novel, the author co-opts a major historical event as a plot device. Unless its handled extraordinarily well, I kind of hate that sort of thing.
My other pet peeve is that the story begins with a description of the two heroines - two such beautiful and uniqye ladies you're never likely to meet. This sort of thing strikes me like how tales are told to small children - with only the most beautiful and perfect characters. The sisters turn out not so perfect, but my initial annoyance was hard to overcome.
It was a fun read, but I very much doubt that it'll stick mith me. 4/10.
Apr 7, 2011
I absolutely adored Rob Sheffield's first book Love is a Mix Tape. So I instantly added Talking to Girls About Duran Duran to my to-read list. Given the subject matter, I should have thought twice,
My generation came to age in the 90's. I spent my teen years listening to Pearl Jam, Nirvana, 4 Non Blondes, etc. The 80's belonged to my older siblings.
So a memoir about growing up in the 80's and listening to the music of the decade is not my thing. I did find his tales of growing up in a big family touching, but I couldn't relate to the music love. Just not my cup of tea. 3/10.
Apr 3, 2011
Still Alice is the saddest book I've read in ages. Seriously, my heart was already broken halfway through and yet I couldn't stop reading. The novel tells the tale of a Harvard professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer Disease. In first person narrative, it follows her descent and her desperation to maintain control.
It's so well written. I had some intense feelings of claustrophobia while reading it. The description of being lost with unreliable short term memories hit me so hard. It's almost like your own self is a prison with no ability for escape or understanding. This was a hard read but a good one. 10/10 stars.
Apr 2, 2011
Apr 1, 2011
I must confess that I giggled all the way through Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Why didn't I know how much fun these films were?! A big part of my enjoyment was the bunnies - floating, escaping, sitting on people's heads. They were awesome. I'm reserving all the other Wallace & Gromit films I can find now. 8/10 stars.