Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Forever Odd

Forever Odd by Dean Koontz

Finished June 18th, 2008

Rating: 4/10

2008 To Be Read (TBR) Challenge Book #3

Barnes & Noble Synopsis
We're all a little odd beneath the surface. He's the most unlikely hero you'll ever meet-an ordinary guy with a modest job you might never look at twice. But there's so much more to any of us than meets the eye-and that goes triple for Odd Thomas. For Odd lives always between two worlds in the small desert town of Pico Mundo, where the heroic and the harrowing are everyday events. Odd never asked to communicate with the dead-it's something that just happened. But as the unofficial goodwill ambassador between our world and theirs, he's got a duty to do the right thing. That's the way Odd sees it and that's why he's won hearts on both sides of the divide between life and death.

A childhood friend of Odd's has disappeared. The worst is feared. But as Odd applies his unique talents to the task of finding the missing person, he discovers something worse than a dead body, encounters an enemy of exceptional cunning, and spirals into a vortex of terror. Once again Odd will stand against our worst fears. Around him will gather new allies and old, some living and some not. For in the battle to come, there can be no innocent bystanders, and every sacrifice can tip the balance between despair and hope.

It had been a while since I have read a Koontz book and I was pretty excited to read this one since I really liked "Odd Thomas". However I was extremely disappointed in this book. The plot was very weak and I didn't feel there was any additional development of Odd's character.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Remember Me?

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Finished June 10th, 2008

Rating: 7/10

Chick Lit Challenge Book #1

Barnes & Noble Synopsis

When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed.

Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband—who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she…well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all.

Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?

The book reminded me of the movie "13 going on 30" so I didn't find it very original. Regardless, it was an enjoyable, easy read but I didn't find it as funny as some of her other books.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Book Awards Reading Challenge Completed

I have completed my first challenge of 2008. I enjoyed most of the books I read for this challenge. I am not sure if I will sign up for the Book Awards challenge Part II as I am not reading a lot right now.

Well I held off for as long as I could in signing up for the Book Awards Reading Challenge however finally cracked yesterday and decided to join after taking a look at different book award lists and realizing that I owned many books that have won awards but hadn't gotten around to reading yet.

The rules are to read any 12 award-winning books from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. Examples of book awards are the Pulitzer Prize, Orange Prize, Booker Prize, Newbery Award, etc. The challenge also allows the participants to read any book from an author who has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, at least SIX of the twelve books must be actual book prize winners. Books may also be cross-posted with other challenges.

There is a blog set up for this challenge at Book Awards Challenge that allows participants to post to or participants can choose instead to post on their own blog.

My tenative list for the challenge is:

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - 1997 Pulitzer (Biography/Autobiography)
[completed April 18th, 2008]

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton - 1986 Anthony
[completed October 20th, 2007]

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly - 1992 Edgar Award (First Novel)
[completed August 13th, 2007]

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak - 2007 Book Sense (Children's Lit)
[completed March 12th, 2008]

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - 2001 National Book Award
[completed June 2nd, 2008]

Eldest by Christopher Paolini - 2006 Quill Awards (Young Adult/Teen)
[completed March 31st, 2008]

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald - 1997 Commonwealth Writers (First Book)
[completed May 14th, 2008]

The Road by Cormac McCarthy - 2007 Pulitzer (Fiction)
[completed July 4th, 2007]

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - 1990 Newbery Award
[completed April 23rd, 2008]

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - 1962 Nobel Prize
[completed September 22nd, 2007]

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky - 2004 Prix Renaudot
[completed April 10th, 2008]

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - 2007 Alex Award
[completed February 26th, 2008]

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Corrections

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Finished June 2nd, 2008

Rating: 3/10

Book Awards Reading Challenge Book #12

Barnes & Noble Synopsis

The narrative focuses on three critical months in the history of the Lambert family, longtime residents of the fictional midwestern city of St. Jude. Albert, the patriarch, is a once-formidable figure whose frequent rages and implacable rectitude have dominated life in the Lambert household for nearly 50 years. As the novel begins, Albert had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Against the perfectly articulated background of his physical and mental deterioration, Enid -- Albert's long-suffering, perpetually dissatisfied wife -- develops a single, overriding obsession: to see her scattered family return to St. Jude for one last Christmas together.

The bulk of the story depicts the disordered lives of the three departed Lambert children: Gary, a grasping, increasingly unhappy investment banker with family troubles of his own; Chip, a former professor and failed screenwriter who drifts into a dangerous, highly illegal investment scam in economically depressed Lithuania; and Denise, a gifted chef lost in a maze of sexual confusion and "moral chaos." In time, and by various circuitous routes, all three will find their way to that climactic Christmas in St. Jude, and to a final confrontation with the ghosts of the past, a confrontation that is painful, tragic, and liberating, all at once.

I found that this book was all over the place. The story jumps between characters and from past to present but with very little fluency. I didn't see the point of most of the storyline and didn't like the characters or plot. I didn't take anything away from the book after finishing it, I would suggest skipping this one.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May 2008 Reads

15. The Birth House by Ami McKay - Rating: 9
[2008 TBR Challenge]

16. Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald - Rating: 7
[Book Awards Challenge]

17. Peony in Love by Lisa See - Rating: 7
[2008 TBR Challenge]

New Authors Read = 2
Male Authors = 0
Female Authors = 3

Friday, May 23, 2008

Peony in Love

Peony in Love by Lisa See

Finished May 23rd, 2008

Rating: 7/10

2008 To Be Read (TBR) Challenge #2

From the Publisher
For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amid the scent of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

Peony’s mother is against her daughter’s attending the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony’s father assures his wife that proprieties will be maintained, and that the women will watch the opera from behind a screen. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave–and is immediately overcome with emotion.

So begins Peony’s unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow–as Lisa See’s haunting new novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to seventeenth-century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed.

The story took a turn I was not expecting at all and at first I really didn't like the turn it took. As the story progesses I started to appreciate where the author takes the story. The book is rich in Chinese traditions and customs which I found fascinating. While it isn't as good as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, it is still a solid book and I rated it as good.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chick Lit Challenge

I have been limiting the number of challenges that I sign up for as I don't have much time to read with a newborn baby. But I couldn't resist signing up for this one as it has been a while since I have read some good chick lit.

Debi is hosting this challenge and the rules can be found by clicking here.

The 3 books I have chosen for this challenge are:

Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fall on Your Knees

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Finished May 14th, 2008

Rating: 7/10

Book Awards Reading Challenge Book #11

The Piper family is steeped in secrets, lies, and unspoken truths. At the eye of the storm is one secret that threatens to shake their lives -- even destroy them.

Set on stormy Cape Breton Island off Nova Scotia, Fall on Your Knees is an internationally acclaimed multigenerational saga that chronicles the lives of four unforgettable sisters. Theirs is a world filled with driving ambition, inescapable family bonds, and forbidden love.

Compellingly written, by turns menacingly dark and hilariously funny, this is an epic tale of five generations of sin, guilt, and redemption.

I had my ups and downs with this book. At times I really liked it and other times, not so much. I am not sure about the writing style as I felt confused at times reading the book. I had to re-read certain parts to make sure I understood what the author was trying to say. In the end the book did come together for me but the journey there had too many downs for me to rate it higher than a 7.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Birth House

The Birth House by Ami McKay

Finished May 3rd, 2008

Rating: 9/10

2008 To Be Read (TBR) Challenge #1

Barnes & Noble Synopsis
The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.

I was drawn to this book after I had my baby, as I was interested in reading more about midwifery. I thought the book was excellent. I really enjoyed the plot and writing style of the author, I especially liked how the author used different means to tell the story such as newspaper articles and ads, etc.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

April 2008 Reads

11. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - Rating: 8
[Book Awards Challenge]

12. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - Rating: 6
[Book Awards Challenge]

13. Baby Laughs by Jenny McCarthy - Rating: 8

14. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - Rating: 9
[Book Awards Challenge]

New Authors Read = 3
Male Authors = 1
Female Authors = 3