December 09, 2009
Outlander novels are a big commitment, with nearly all of them topping 800 pages. They’re also an extremely dense combination of historical fiction, war strategy, political intrigue, botany, and medicine. The newest one in the series takes place 33 years after the series begins, and unless you’ve read all of the previous ones- and even if you have- you could find yourself hopelessly lost.
Gabaldon spends a lot of time taking her characters on solo journeys, which can get a bit boring, to read only one person’s thoughts and observations on the landscape for such a long time. She catches up with her sprawling cast of characters and even adds some new ones in the form of an adult William Ransom (Jamie’s illegitimate son) and a Quaker brother and sister. The entire first half of the book was a bit tedious to get through, but the second half had tons of twists, action and surprises.
The book did end on a nearly absurd cliff-hanger (given the frequency of hair-raising adventures amongst this family). Which seems a bit cruel considering it takes Diana Gabaldon about four years to write the next Outlander novel.
October 26, 2009
October 12, 2009
August 23, 2009
August 04, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 12, 2009
July 07, 2009
June 24, 2009
June 22, 2009
June 11, 2009
-from Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult
Nineteen Minutes is about a Columbine-like school shooting. Bullied outcast Peter Houghton opens fire in his New Hampshire high school killing ten people, but failing to kill himself before he's apprehended by the police.
The book is told from all different points of view: the shooter, the shooter's parents, a superior court judge, the defense attorney, and the police officer who stops Peter Houghton. The time spans from the time Peter is an infant, up to a year after his trial. The story is also told from the point of view of Josie Cormier, who's mother is the superior court judge. She was Peter's best friend in childhood, until she ditched him for the popular crowd. Josie's friends and her boyfriend were shot by Peter during the rampage.
It's an interesting story, and Piccoult does a good job making you feel empathy for the killer (who's been bullied his entire life) but also very clear that his solution was wrong. It's a very difficult read of course, and as a parent is especially scary. You always wonder about those student shooters, how their parents didn't notice them stock-piling weapons, how they could create a monster without knowing it. Of course it isn't that simple, and you can always do your very best job, and it can still not be enough. But I'd like to think as a parent, if my child were being bullied to that degree, that I would do whatever I had to do, to keep him from having to be miserable every day of his life. Whether that means going bankrupt to pay for private school, or quitting work to home school, so be it.
"What about home schooling? You know, it's not just for scary religious people anymore."
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Dead Man's Party"
June 05, 2009
June 03, 2009
Francesca gets to meet the family of the man she loves, police commissioner Rick Bragg, as well as his estranged wife. Rick is now convinced he must give up his political aspirations and get a divorce so that he might marry Francesca. And Calder Hart, Rick’s charming, rich and single brother is starting to come between Francesca and Rick even more. Francesca is fighting her attraction to him, and Calder wishes to protect Francesca from the inevitable heartbreak of being in love with a married man.
There’s also a mystery to solve, in the form of a blackmailer who’s stalking Lucy Bragg, Rick and Calder’s sister, and heroine of one of my all time favorite Brenda Joyce novels, Fires of Paradise (terrible new cover art, Lucy is a flaming redhead!).
Francesca has been hired (for her sleuthing skills) by her first paying client, Lydia Stuart, to find out if Lydia’s husband is cheating. In the course of following him, Francesca literally stumbles on a body, and before they know it, they’re on the trail of a serial killer.
Francesca is still having her intense and steamy “friendship” with police commissioner Rick Bragg, the man she loves but can’t have because he’s married to some awful woman who lives in Europe. Novels set before divorce was so fashionable and easy to obtain makes for lots of angst.
And now Francesca also has to fend off the matchmaking attempts of her disapproving socialite mother, who wishes to match her up with none other than Calder Hart, Rick’s magnetic, womanizing, wealthy brother. This love triangle is heating up nicely.
May 27, 2009
Radio producer Ally has just been replaced. Her radio star ex-boyfriend has replaced her with a younger and thinner model in his bed and on his show.
Charlie has been hired to helm the 2am show and since he's not really there to deejay, he's perfectly fine with having hardly any listeners. But since Ally has been assigned as his producer, he has to work extra hard to keep her from making him a star, and to keep his hands off of her.
This was a somewhat enjoyable beach type read (sadly, I was not actually at the beach). But I didn't find the relationship to be as complex or as enjoyable as the one in Crusie's Bet Me. But I believe Charlie All Night was originally published as a Harlequin. And yes, I'm totally judging.
May 19, 2009
Vanda is originally from Poland, was made a vampire during World War II, still seems to be sufferring from some form of Post Traumatic Stress, and has serious anger issues. Vanda owns a vampire strip club in Hell's Kitchen and is in trouble with her coven master for multiple verbal and violent assaults against fellow vampires. They totally had it coming though.
Phil is daytime security for the "good vamps" of New York and volunteered to be Vanda's anger management sponsor. He's also a closet Werewolf. Why he doesn't want all the vampires to know this, I have no idea.
Vanda is revealed to be far too vulnerable, especially for someone who prances around in catsuits, with purple hair, and a whip tied around her waist. Phil gets to save Vanda, which is pretty much his reason for existing. Happily ever after of course, with only one "rascal" thrown in. At this point, I'm convinced that Kerrelyn Sparks is taunting me.
Quentin Jacobsen is in his final semester of high school and has spent nearly his entire life being in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q (as his friends call him) and Margo were friends as small children, but she long ago traded him in for the popular clique and dating jocks. Yet for Q, and maybe even the entire school, while they all live their lives in black and white, Margo lives hers in color. The school is always abuzz with some rumor (that inevitably turns out to be true) about her crazed adventures.
A month before their high school graduation, Margo enlists Q for wild night to be her getaway driver while she exacts revenge against various friends and cheating boyfriends. And the next day, Margo vanishes. Q spends the next month trying to decipher all of the clues Margo seems to have left him, and plans to unravel the mystery and get the girl. Though on his quest, Q finds that he never really knew Margo at all.
As with previous John Green books, the main character's friends are hilarious and far more practical than the hero is. And the object of affection is fascinating and complex. I didn't care for Margo as much as Q does. But I do remember what it's like to be in high school and to be completely wrapped up in someone who seems to be so bold and colorful.
Edited to add: I was especially entertained by the fact that at the same age Q and his friends spend hours talking about Walt Whitman, my friends and I were trying to decipher Nirvana lyrics.
May 15, 2009
May 12, 2009
May 11, 2009
I find myself having a hard time liking Francesca Cahill. There's nothing really bad about her. I just find her obnoxiously naive. Which is probably a perfectly accurate trait for a well-bred young lady in 1902, but is an impractical trait for a "sleuth" as Francesca brands herself.
In my opinion, Brenda Joyce's male characters tend to be more compelling than her females. So the two men Francesca finds herself caught between, New York Police Commissioner Rick Bragg and his womanizing millionaire half-brother Calder Hart are interesting enough to keep me reading.
April 30, 2009
Nickie Callahan is a former model who’s returning to her Southern roots, and leaving New York City to move in with her best friend to go back to college in Tennessee. A lot of this book is about what it’s like to come back to the South after having been away for a long time. Part of you loves to be home, to see the familiar plants and trees growing, hear the familiar accents, but part of you is appalled at how much it hasn’t changed, and how small minded the rural South can be.
Upon moving back to Tennessee, Nickie hears about the recent rape that occurred on the college campus that she’ll be attending. Before she knows it, there are more and more victims, herself included. But Nickie decides that she doesn’t just feel victimized, and scared, she also feels enraged. She joins up with one of the other victims and they start making lists of all of the men they both know (both of them convinced the attacker knew them) and they begin investigating on their own.
Nickie slowly begins to get her life back, and embarks on a new romance, but she knows she’ll never be the same person she was. The ending was realistic, but somewhat unsatisfying. I guess I don’t like too much reality intruding in my stories.
April 21, 2009
Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the NYPD would rather face armed drug addicts than go shopping for a wedding dress. Lucky for her, she gets plenty of brutal killings to investigate (including having her best friend as a suspect), but still ends up having to get married.
I like how realistically gritty New York City is in 2058. Guns have been outlawed, prostitution has been legalized, but there still manages to be amazing amounts of crime. I’m also fascinated by the procedure and the detail involved in investigating homicides. It appeals to my organized nature.
To find out how Eve gets a new partner, catches a serial killer, and marries a billionaire, you’ll have to read the book.
Eve is wary of how serious her relationship seems to be becoming with formerly shady Irish billionaire, Roarke. Plus she’s always believed cops are a bad bet relationship-wise. She’s also hunting a serial killer who is murdering high profile women in NYC, women frequently in the media, like Eve herself.
Eve tries to use herself as bait for the serial killer, while also balancing her increasingly serious love affair. Just as Eve catches her killer, and agrees to give up her independence and live with Roarke, he decides he’s going to need more of a commitment… Dum dum da dum.
April 13, 2009
Catherine Linton is the social reporter in her tiny Mississippi town. Since she moved home after her parents' tragic accidental (or homicidal) deaths, she's gotten a reputation for being an eccentric loner. That reputation is not helped by her finding a dead body on her property.
Catherine uncovers many secrets in her small town, while trying to solve the murder. But I never felt like we really got to know or understand her as a person.
I really can't wait until the new Sookie Stackhouse book comes out in May.
April 06, 2009
Lara Boucher is a former Miss Louisiana who decides to become a police officer after a near fatal car crash leaves her with a head injury and the wish to do something important with her life. She's fresh out of the police academy and working the night shift in New York City when she meets a very strange, yet incredibly good looking guy, who tries to wipe her memory.
Jack Venezia is a 200 year-old vampire, private investigator for a supernatural security agency, and the son of the infamous lover, Casanova. Jack has always been conscious of not living up to his father's legacy, but he's a very romantic vampire at heart. As with all of Kerrelyn Sparks' vampires, he has to have a catch-phrase epithet. Jack's personal favorite is "nine circles of hell". I think I prefer it over "God's blood".
The heroine of course doesn't get a personalized catch-phrase, so she has to use the often abused (at least in this damned series), "rascal". Argh! You're killing me Kerrelyn.
April 05, 2009
March 31, 2009
Widow Aurora Teagarden is the only one in her tiny Georgia town that's not excited about the movie production coming to film. But that's probably since the movie is based on a bestselling book- about the serial killer that she was nearly a victim of. However, Aurora is glad to see former flame, Robin Crusoe, author of the bestselling novel.
Aurora makes some big decisions in this novel, while of course, stumbling upon bodies and helping to solve a murder. But overall it's a much more light-hearted story than the last couple of volumes in the series.
March 25, 2009
Luckily, when not worrying about impending doom, I was laughing my ass off.
"We fatties have a bond, dude. It's like a Secret Society. We've got all kinds of shit you don't know about. Handshakes, special fat people dances- we got these secret fugging lairs in the center of the earth and we go down there in the middle of the night when all the skinny kids are sleeping and eat cake and fried chicken and shit." -from An Abundance of Katherines by John GreenFat people lairs! Awesome. And where's my map?
Colin Singleton is a former child prodigy who's having trouble coming to terms with the fact that he's never going to be a genius. And immediately after graduating from high school, he's been dumped for the 19th time by a chick named Katherine. Dude doesn't know when to quit a losing streak.
In order to get over his breakup and work on his newest theorem, he and his best friend Hassan take off on a road trip out of Chicago and end up in nowheresville, Gutshot Tennessee. Due to an odd set of circumstances, they end up getting jobs and sticking around Gutshot for a while.
I don't know how you feel about footnotes, but if you don't care for them, you won't like this book. The book is covered in about eleventy hundred footnotes. Everything from definitions, encyclopedic descriptions, and translations of several different languages, to explaining the jokes. You remember the old saying, right? If you have to explain the joke, it's probably not funny? And then, there are the graphs, holy God, the graphs... I'm sure it's supposed to be clever and entertaining. I found them a bit twee.
But my favorite thing that John Green does is secondary characters. So far in the two novels I've read of his, I didn't care for the main character. They're teenage boys, so I'm not exactly going to identify, and man alive are they some self absorbed nerds. But the sidekicks and the love interests are great. The sidekicks are hilarious and get all the best lines. The girls are written mysteriously complex (which of course is why the boys fall madly in love with them). But I found them fascinating too, especially Lyndsey Lee Wells in An Abundance of Katherines. Someday I would love to read her story.
Ariella de Warenne is the illegitimate, educated, and privileged daughter of a pirate (Cliff from A Lady at Last), and a jewess harem concubine. Yes.
Viscount Emilian St. Xavier is the illegitimate son of an English nobleman and a Romanian gypsy.
They're oh so exotic. She's so very eccentric. And he has serious anger issues. They fight, they have an ill-advised affair, he uses her for revenge, they both face bigotry directed at gypsies. Will these two crazy kids end up together? Guess.
March 15, 2009
March 09, 2009
Clare is six years-old when Henry first visits her in the field near her parents' home. He is in his 40's. Henry visits her throughout her life as she ages. Sometimes Henry is in his 40's. Sometimes he's older, and sometimes younger.
Henry DeTamble is a libarian and unwilling time traveler. He frequently has very little warning and absolutely no control when he disappears from his life and ends up somewhere else in time, naked. Often he visits his wife Clare, as she's growing up. Sometimes he visits his family, even reliving his mother's gruesome death. And sometimes he visits himself, at different times in his life.
I found it a little hard to follow where the characters are supposed to be at in their lives, when Henry jumps around in time. But it's possible that's just because I'm very bad at math. The most haunting part of this book for me, was how lonely it is to be the wife who's left behind, never knowing when or if your husband will join you again in your present.
Rex de Warenne lost a leg in the Napoleonic wars and has been pretty much drunk in isolated Cornwall ever since. Well, he's managed to find time to have scandalous affairs with house maids.
Lady Blanche Harrington is the perfect daughter and the perfect hostess. She's successfully avoided marriage until age 28. But now that her father has died, she needs a husband to run her vast estate. Oh, she's also sufferring from a delayed form of post traumatic stress disorder due to witnessing her mother's murder when she was a small child. Except they didn't have PTSD in the 1800's, so she thinks she's going insane.
People in romance novels sure do have to suffer a lot to get their happily ever after.
February 27, 2009
Sarah Merritt is a newspaper publisher, like her father. She's come to Deadwood, Dakota Territory, to start a newspaper and to find her sister, who ran away from home five years before. She's plain, brave, and extremely bookish. Being one of very few single women (not counting prostitutes) in town, she's unexpectedly popular with the men. She immediately butts heads with town marshal Noah Campbell. And she finds her sister (one of the aforementioned prostitutes) not the least bit glad to see her.
Noah Campbell came west with his family, but chose to live in town while they carve out a living farming in the Spearfish region. He keeps the drunks in line and is an occasional patron of the badlands (you could call it a red light district), but doesn't see anything wrong with that. He has a pretty strong moral compass, and after initially throwing Sarah in jail, and being the subject of one of her scathing editorials, he eventually comes to appreciate her bravery and willingness to help organize the community.
I liked the slow pace of this novel. It felt more realistic than the instant sizzling attraction of so many others romances. Sarah and Noah's relationship develops slowly but solidly. The subplot with Sarah's sister Addie is also a rewarding piece of the story.
February 25, 2009
A women is often measured by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn't curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. She is measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers, by all the outside things that don't ever add up to who she is on the inside. And so if a women is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control; by who she is and who she is trying to become. Because as every women knows, measurements are only statistics & statistics lie.
I've always wondered who wrote these ads. Did they really believe the things that they said? And did they ever go on to do something more important than shilling for Nike? But if not, for their sake, I hope they sold a ton of shoes.
All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.
February 22, 2009
Toni Davis takes a job as daytime security for a coven of New York vampires in hopes of finding proof of their existence in order to spring her best friend from the loony bin. Yeah, it's not a very well thought out plan. And despite barely surviving a vicious vampire attack, Toni finds herself becoming attached to the vampires she guards.
Ian MacPhie is yet another 500 year-old vampire (there seems to be an endless supply for this series). Ian was turned into a vampire when he was 15, and in the previous novel, he took an experimental drug in order to age him (don't ask) so that he'd be old enough to find his true love. Despite having an amazingly popular online dating profile (oh yes), Ian finds himself only interested in his forbidden security guard.
Though I'm still enjoying this series for the most part, it would be nice to see a little variation in the next installment, due out at the end of March.
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Viola Davis, Doubt
Best animated feature film of the year
Achievement in cinematography
Achievement in costume design
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Achievement in directing
Best documentary feature
Trouble the Water
Best motion picture of the year
February 15, 2009
Cliff de Warenne is the youngest son of the Earl of Adare and has made his own fortune as a merchant and privateer. He feels a connection to Amanda due to their mutual love of the sea and freedom, and he vows to secure a future for her in England. He passes her off as his ward, but of course he spends the entire novel lusting after her.