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Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Book: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Pages: 218
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 8/10
Books Read Total: 32/50
Pages Read Total: 7066/15,000

A solid story of love, loss, secrets, discovery, horror, and some sort of forgiveness. I found this book very readable and I read it straight through (it even prompted me to spend an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill this morning) but I never quite felt like I got what I was looking for. The plot is great, but I got lost in the execution. I didn’t feel particularly sympathetic or angry or really any sort of emotion, despite the emotionally driven plot, and it seems to me that that’s a fairly significant shortcoming. I wouldn’t say don’t read it, because it is an interesting book, but I can’t quite agree with the LA times when they say that it “ensnares both heart and mind”. Unless maybe my heart is made of stone (which we know is not the case from the emotional gushing that sometimes appears on this blog).

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Book: Knitting with Balls by Michael del Vecchio
Pages: 150
Entertainment Rating: 3/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 27/50
Pages Read Total: 4942/15,000

I got this book from the library in hopes of finding something to knit for my brother for Christmas (how forward thinking of me, right?) This book is wonderfully thorough! Much like the Stitch ‘n Bitch books this one has all the information you need from start to finish, but written in “man” language. Occasionally the wording is a little bit cheesy and over-the-top but it’s mostly endearing. I especially enjoyed the breakdown of different yarn weights, the tips and tricks (I never thought to use a card or post-it to mark my place in a chart!), the how to knit continental or english, and the bit in the back about altering patterns. The actual projects didn’t do much for me, but I did check them out, and they offer a great range from basic onward and cover a variety of techniques. This book would make a great gift to anyone (male or female) who’s looking to start knitting more. It’s also a good source for quick guy-gifts (unless that guy is my brother!)

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Book: Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 3/5
Total Rating: 7.5/10
Books Read Total: 26/50
Pages Read Total: 4792/15,000

I actually finished this book a couple weeks ago, but somehow never got around to writing about it. A part of a series called The Circle Opens, I found this book as enjoyable as I found the preceding books so many years ago. Interestingly, this book was released in audio before it was printed. The actors did a lovely job, and the story is quite entertaining, if a bit over the top at times. I enjoyed this book, but I think much of my enjoyment was nostalgic. These are great YA books, but do not quite take that step beyond. Fun and quirky!

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Book: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 24/50
Pages Read Total: 4220/15,000


Book: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Pages: 572
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 2.5/5
Total Rating: 7.5/10
Books Read Total: 25/50
Pages Read Total: 4792/15,000

Pullman is fabulous. Each time I experience his storytelling I think about it for days afterwards. While listening to this audiobook (narrated by Pullman himself) I was also reading Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and couldn’t help but draw parallels between the two. While I recognize that Brown and Pullman play in two different arenas I think that in terms of depth of character and thought-provoking plots Pullman definitely has the upper hand. While he does have the advantage of a trilogy’s worth of pages to build his story I feel he has been true to those pages and made use of each of them. He’s neat. He cleans up after himself, if you know what I mean. While Brown (miserably, albeit with some witty bits) shoves a weak love subplot in to attempt to add some depth to his action packed adventure, Pullman captures the anguish and complexity of what love really is, but without disrupting the story in any way. As I said, he’s neat.

I am by no means “hating on” Brown’s book. I read all 572 pages in a matter of days (a feat for someone as busy as me) and I hated putting it down each time I forced myself to sleep. Brown can tell a suspenseful story, to be certain. There are no good places to stop, and when it comes to plot twists he has a field day. Still I find that when I’m on the hunt for content the most surefire place to find it is in a Young Adult or even a children’s book. Somehow these authors have taken responsibility for the power they have to captivate young and old alike, and they have put it to good, thought-provoking use.

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Book: The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Pages: 345
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 3/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 23/50
Pages Read Total: 4220/15,000

Funke tells the captivating story of two orphan boys on the run from their evil aunt who make their way to Venice, their mother’s fairytale. The characters were quite commanding, and it was very easy to take sides. Almost too easy, I think. Unlike Nancy Farmer, Philip Pullman, or Madeleine L’Engle to name a few, Funke tells a good story, but doesn’t present much else. It was a fun, quick read, but did not have the subtly (or not so subtly) challenging subplots that many successful children’s authors manage. It is, as one Amazon review puts it, “a solid adventure story”. I’d put it with Harry Potter. Some coming of age, some teen angst, some wonderful friendship, and lots of bad guys and adventures.

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Book: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 21/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

Sara Gruen has a vivid set of characters, to be sure. Jacob Jankowski recalls the most influential year of his life, one that began his career as a circus veterinarian, from his confines in a nursing home at the age of “90, or 93”. He alternates between venting his frustration at being trapped in an old man’s body, and vividly remembering his past experiences. I am 100% in love with this old man. Gruen did an exceptional job of wrenching my heart in every direction, aided no doubt by the fabulous voices of David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones. A moving, informative story not only about the circus but also about the Great Depression, growing old, and elephants. This book opened up an entirely unfamiliar topic for me, and I’ve enjoyed reading about it since I finished the book last week.

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Book: Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand
Pages: 192
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 9.5/10
Books Read Total: 20/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

This book may be small, but it packs a punch. Riding on the wave of emotions from my recent trip down to NOLA this book could not have come at a time when I was more vulnerable. Frequently I found myself in tears over the hugeness of it all. The hugeness of the hurricane and the aftershocks, the hugeness of the indignities forced upon so many citizens, and the immeasurable outpouring of awareness on the part of those capable of giving something to the people who had nothing. In a society where education is so bound by rules and regulations, this small section of a community banded together to give families what they needed. This is education as it should be: active, responsive, aware. What these children needed was not a standardized test or even a normal classroom. They needed time and space to express their experiences, to learn about their relations to the world around them, and to make sense of all that they experienced in such a short time. Much was lost during Hurricane Katrina, but the disaster laid bare the strength, courage, determination and love that human beings are capable of giving.

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