Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It may even be too trashy for me

For the first time in a long time I am seriously contemplating putting a book down. I have this matter of pride thing where I feel that if I start a book - unless it's for school - I have to finish it. I believe that if someone took the time to write it, I should take the time to read it. I may not enjoy the book after I finish it, but I feel fulfilled for having at least read it. Recently, however, I've begun to see how my need to finish everything I start has sometimes turned reading into a chore. That's the last thing I want it to be.

I've decided to give the book a few more pages but it's really dragging right now. The characters are flimsy, the dialog has me laughing, and some of the "romantic" descriptions are either cheesy or just plain gross. "Love sheath"? Come on. Who says that? Also, the idea that the romance is between a 22-year old woman (well, girl really) and a 50-year old man has me cringing in disgust. I keep on making him 35 in my head. Not great, but at least better. I can think of him as David James Elliot or Brad Pitt that way.

The one downside to this plan... The last time I read something by this author the first 200 pages stunk beyond all reason, then another character entered and I feel in love with the story. I just don't know if I can stick it out for another 170 pages to get to the good stuff.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Book 46: The Black Diamond

TITLE: The Black Diamond
AUTHOR: Andrea Kane
STARTED: June 21, 2005
FINISHED: June 22, 2005
PAGES: 364
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "I will not marry him!"

SUMMARY: [From] Andrea Kane returns to Regency England in a tale that pulses with excitement, as a mercenary of noble birth and an unconventional lady risk their lives and hearts in a dangerous hunt for a fabulous gem.


THOUGHTS: Thank goodness this was a short read because it wasn't that great. The dialog was way to explanatory for my taste. And, while the lead characters had chemistry, they were boring everywhere else. The plot could have been good but it was too slow. The side characters were dull. Overall, this book left me wanting.

MISCELLANEOUS: What does a black diamond look like anyway?

RATING: 4/10 [An "okay" book, but I don't recommend it]

CR: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
RN: No clue.

Book 45: Celtic Fire

TITLE: Celtic Fire
AUTHOR: Joy Nash
STARTED: June 16, 2005
FINISHED: June 21, 2005
PAGES: 309
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: The Roman refused to die.

SUMMARY: [From] When a Roman commander travels through Britannia to investigate a haunting vision, an ambush by hostile Celts leaves him with an unexpected prize - a beautifully enchanting witch.

REASON FOR READING: I love Ancient History. I love Romance. It was a match made in heaven.

THOUGHTS: This book was steamier than I expected. The characters were fine and the plot was interesting but I was distracted by all the sex. That has never happened before. I also found myself skimming over scenes that did not involve the two lead characters.

MISCELLANEOUS: The cover art made the book difficult to read while at work.

RATING: 4/10 [An "okay" book, but I don't recommend it]

CR: The Black Diamond by Andrea Kane
RN: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Friday, June 24, 2005

English Homework

In middle school, I was always told to read a specific book and write a report on it. Once I got into High School (same building as the Middle School because I’m from a small town), the teachers seemed to think that was a bad idea. I had two English teachers (Mrs. Bliss and Mrs. Lewis) who would assign readings that we would have to do for homework. But, on top of that, we had to do about one book report a month. They would not assign those books. We could pick ANY book we wanted to read. I mean ANYTHING. We would have to do a typical book report (and, for Mrs. Bliss, a "creative" project.) I loved those assignments. I remember that for one book (Robin Cook’s Sphinx), I wrote a report and for my creative project I made a photo collaged pyramid based off of scenes in the book.

My entire class loved giving our book report presentations in class because you never knew what someone was going to read. I’ve talked to my teachers since then (again, it’s a small town) and they both said they assigned reading were to cover New York state regents criteria but the book reports were meant to make us read. They didn’t care what we were reading as long as we read something. Mrs. Bliss also wanted us to write. Thus, once a week we had a journal due. It was written in a notebook, we only had to do the side of one page, and we could write about anything and include pictures or what have you. I still have those journals. I ended up going through 3 notebooks. There were days I would write and write and write. I think my longest entry was some 20 pages in length.

They were two of my favorite teachers and now that I think back on it, I know why.

Part of me wants to go back to the journals. I think I might actually do that once I finish the journal my mother gave me.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Book 44: Kushiel's Chosen

TITLE: Kushiel's Chosen
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Carey
STARTED: June 8, 2005
FINISHED: June 16, 2005
PAGES: 678
GENRE: Fantasy

FIRST SENTENCE: No one would deny that I have known hardship in my time, brief though it has been for all that I have done in it.

SUMMARY: [From] Phedre no Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye and sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with a very special mission - and the first to recognize her for who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phedre has trained in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Having stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellish the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren't far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phedre's brow, and they are not yet done with their charge - for while the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe that other heads should wear the crown. And those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge. To protect and serve, Phedre will once again leave her beloved homeland.

From the sun-drenched villas of La Serenissima to the wilds of old Hellas, from a prison designed to drive the very gods mad to an island of immutable joy. Phedre will meet old friends and new enemies... and discover a plot so dreadful as to make the earth tremble, masterminded by the one person she cannot turn away from.

REASON FOR READING: I had trouble keeping my hands off of it after I read the first one.

THOUGHTS: Carey has a ability to paint a picture with words. I often read this book while drinking a glass of merlot and I was often struck me how often the two were related: fine and delicate yet full-bodied, sensual and smooth, and always leaving a taste for more. Carey's characters and world are, in a word, exquisite. She writes politics with the knowledge of an insider, her passionate scenes are heated and leave the reader gasping for air, and - above all - she crafts a story that draws a reader in from the first page and doesn't release them until the end. Even the, the reader begs for more.

Kushiel's Chosen is, luckily, the second book in a trilogy. Knowing there is more left me panting for the next book. Carey's books are to be enjoyed, contemplated, and savored.

MISCELLANEOUS: I would recommend an Australian wine for this book.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

CR: Celtic Fire by Joy Nash
RN: No clue.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Book 43: On Bullshit

TITLE: On Bullshit
AUTHOR: Harry G. Frankfurt
STARTED: June 10, 2005
FINISHED: June 10, 2005
GENRE: Philosophy(?)

FIRST SENTENCE: One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.

SUMMARY: [From] One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory."

Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth thanlies are.

REASON FOR READING: Just look at that title.

THOUGHTS: To be truthful, I could not tell if this was on an honest dissertation on "bullshit" or if the book itself was "bullshit." The use of big words, flowing sentences, and a length tangents certainly read like bullshit that I myself have written. It was an entertaining read, one that I would recommend. However, I did not learn anything except that if one has a gone to and Ivy League school they can seemingly get away with anything.

MISCELLANEOUS: I read this in one 30 minute sitting.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): It belongs to the library.
RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

CR: Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
RN: Not a clue.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Book 42: So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading

TITLE: So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading
AUTHOR: Sara Nelson
STARTED: June 4, 2005
FINISHED: June 7, 2005
PAGES: 242
GENRE: Books about Books

FIRST SENTENCE: But enough about me.

SUMMARY: [From] In early 2002, Sara Nelson - editor, reporter, reviewer, mother, daughter, wife, and compulsive reader - set out to chronicle a year's worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with children, marriage, friends, and the rest of the "real" world. She had a system all set up: fifty-two weeks, fifty-two books...and it all fell apart the first week. That's when she discovered that the books chose her as much as she chose them, and the rewards and frustrations they brought were nothing she could plan for: "In reading, as in life, even if you know what you're doing, you really kind of don't."

From Solzhenitsyn to Laura Zigman, Catherine M. to Captain Underpants, this is the captivating result. It is a personal journey filled with wit, charm, insight, infectious enthusiasm - and observations on everything from Public Books (the ones we pretend we're reading), lending trauma, and the idiosyncrasies of sex scenes ("The mingling of bodies and emotions and fluids is one thing. But reading about it: now, that's personal"), to revenge books, hype, the stresses of recommendation (what does it mean when someone you like hates the book you love?), the odd reasons we pick up a book in the first place, and how to put it down if we don't like it ("The literary equivalent of a bar mitzvah, the moment at which you look at yourself and announce: Today I am an adult").

REASON FOR READING: It's a book... about books.

THOUGHTS: This is the first book I've ever picked up because it received amazing reviews. Those reviews were warranted. As a passionate reader, I found myself identifying with almost every scenario Nelson wrote about. I found myself constantly saying, "I've done that," "I know what you mean," and "Finally, proof that I'm not the only one." Nelson's writing style flows flawlessly and captures the essence of what it means to be a book lover.

MISCELLANEOUS: I wish I had a room that looked like the one on the cover.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep forever.
RATING: 9/10 [Excellent! Couldn't put it down]

CR: On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
RN: Kushiel's Chosen by Jacquelin Carey

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Book 41: Lady of Desire

TITLE: Lady of Desire
AUTHOR: Gaelen Foley
STARTED: June 2, 2005
FINISHED: June 4, 2005
PAGES: 416
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: The hackney coach rumbled under the arched stone passage and rolled to a halt in the torchlit innyard, but even before the driver could throw the break, let alone descend to assist his solitary passenger, the door swung open and she jumped out - a temptuous, tousle-headed eighteen-year-old with the fire of rebellion in her dark eyes.

SUMMARY: [From] follow in her mother's footsteps, the spirited beauty stands unashamed of her passionate nature. Then one night, in flight from a safe but loveless marriage arranged by her strict older brother, Jacinda finds herself alone on a dark and dangerous street face-to-face with Billy Blade, the notorious leader of a band of thieves. His stolen kisses awaken in her a longing for a man she can never possess.

A handsome scoundrel running from a secret past, Billy Blade has never met a woman like Jacinda - her fiery innocence and blossoming sensuality set his rebel's heart ablaze. Having turned his back on the privilege and power of his tyrannical father's house years before, he vows to return to his rightful place and reclaim his title, Earl of Rackford - to win the love of the ravishing beauty who has stolen his heart...

REASON FOR READING: I *heart* series.

THOUGHTS: Gaelen Foley continues to be one of my favorite romance writers. This book exemplifies her ability to not just write a story but paint it visually in the reader's mind. Jacinda came across is playful and confident without being unlikable. Billy Blade was one tasty character. Ahem. The way these two characters play off one another is extremely sexy and fun to read.

MISCELLANEOUS: I need to find the first book in this series.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
RN: On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt